Thirteenth Days

Sabbatical’s rhythms have taken much getting used to. Early-day starts, writing from 6-11 a.m. worked okay for a few days. Then a headcold stuffedcold, a couple of blergy-meh days through which I could justify holding close the couch’s cushions. So supportive a couch. And into the most recent week, work obligations, trips to campus almost every day. Snowslop given to rain-washed-snowslop has thrown sideways all outdoor running routines (NNSA: Need new shoes, anyway); the campus pool will have me any time I will have it, and I managed to splash across a half mile or so Thursday evening before Is.’s basketball practice at St. Luke’s–the first practice of the season. 

But the writing, even as it’s happening, it’s the sort of textural consistency of the second half of a bag of whatever brand corn chips, recognizable even if registering as too predictable and familiar and constant a flavor–academic writing wanting ghost pepper salsa (face-melting, January-melting heat to go along with). Sabbaticals have a binge-like quality and I’ve noticed the sharp shift in a sociality (around writing) that offers solitude and awayness as amenable to productive foci, rhythms, and attentions. Writing group? Yeah, maybe.

Not sure I can say with good-enough accuracy what the accumulative wordcount is right now. A chapter is developing, probably just under 5k words in, with the second half’s sections more conceptually clear to me because they accord well with recent conference presentations on turn spotting. And the digital installation–the motion chart–has been in sight for several years now; it wants more data fed into it, but that’s doable, amounting to a few more coding sessions. Not that the explanation of its methods and its making, much less the analysis and focal examples require the extra data. The motion chart wants it, is all.

And the week was also punctuated by settling the details for a talk at MTSU in early March, a talk and workshop, both, which I’m looking forward to with the right ideas, the right energy. Disciplinary Discourse Networks 1984/2014, the title a play on Kittler’s epochal media archaeology. And not that I will have time to develop the threads to Kittler in any especially explicit ways, it’s enough to make the theoretical nod, especially as it gets at methods, modeling, and eras in disciplinary emergence: discourse communities flourished in the 1980s because structuralism (including infra- and post- prefixed -structuralism) was especially upset and churning. Much more to this distinction, more than I’ll labor through here (or in the talk, for that matter); suffice it to say that we’re readier than we’ve been in some time to create the simple visual models that accord with insights into disciplinary discourse networks–semantic, bibliographic, affinity-based, choric, career-emplaced, and so on. And particularly for newcomers, I hope growing compulsions toward depth and complexity fetishism (qua ecology fascination-asms) don’t entirely occlude these simple visual models and what’s especially generative in what they do, the framing they provide, the footings they sponsor, and so on.

Second Days

Second days of sabbaticals. I’ve known only one second day: today. The fifth. As worklike as day one, with the exception that digressive minutiae are more appealing than before–trimming fingernails, sweeping the floor (not that it needs it but for that one speck of mud maybe, which spotted me spying it as the tea kettle took its sweet time steaming from audible boil to pressure-sent whistler). Trim and sweeeeep. Then back in the chair to do office-chair office chair things. Ever nonmagical, more stylistically cumin than cayenne.

Tried to write with some background music, but that was a Johnny J.R. Cashbust. Too distracting, Cindy. What is truth? No earthly good for getting shit done. For the last sprint, I found some wordless Buddhist harpy strumtracks to cycle through iTunes, and that was enough songburst to get this upticking chapter to–what?–nearly a second section in. Put much finer points on a couple of phrases in the first section (stylistic cayenne!), extending it by 155 words and launched the second section with 906 words (maths: 1061). At daybreak I thought maybe I would blaze all the way through to 1500 and dust the second section off, but no, and it’s fine. Dandyfine. I’m also learning to relax about the goals, trust slow and steady and whatever draftmess piles up one day is suited to smoothing the next. 

I regard this now as a banality dispatch, but will post anyway. Oh, okay, so I worked on the book again today. That’s what sabbaticals are for. Nonmagical, butt in chair, putting down words that, truth is, range from geez have I been thinking about this for one helluva long time to geez I have no idea on earth what I’m trying to say to geez this is such an old and familiar friend, this idea, to geez is this the best register for warm-accessible reception both by newcomers to the field and by established scholar-colleagues to geez it’s happening and its taking shape is not limited to my fingerstrokes/keystrokes only. 

Occam’s Sabbatical

Lead-up to a sabbatical, my first sabbatical, has been punctuated by many, many interactions about its beginnings (i.e., when does it officially begin?) and my optimism (i.e., are you excited?) and readiness (i.e., are you ready for this?). To the questions about beginnings, for most of the fall semester, I pinpointed December 16, the day after our department’s holiday party and after the last day of meeting for second of the two grad classes I taught. But I was still obliging various administrativa until at least December 20. And I didn’t exactly spend much of the break opening the book’s workfiles, much less reading or writing in relationship to it. 

Today, finaly, I felt like I started in on the sabbatical. I’ve set for myself this week the goal of timely rise+shining, up and coffee-pouring by six, in chair by 6:30 a.m., writing for four hours. This morning’s work session was a lot of oscillating between shaping and focusing, then generating, then shaping and focusing, then generating. I re-read some old stuff. Re-read the introduction and first chapter. And dived in for the first section of Chapter Three, set down 888 words, though I was only going for a Scrivener-count of 750. It’s non-magical writing, clunky and nowhere near as fine-tipped as my thinking, but it is a start on the sabbatical, which is pretty much all I was going for. The rest of the week I am hoping for four-hour morning work sessions in the range of 1000 words per day, aims of having Chapter Three’s rekick totally drafted by the end of next week. 

But that’s more micro-detail than I meant to put down here. I mostly wanted to note a few of the ideas that were blinking away in the margins, excluded from the writing but influencing at the edges. I’ve been thinking more about Occam’s razor and parsimony–principles of narrow-set scope. This is the razor whose edge sharpens when we invoke relevance, right? Go only with what is necessary; trim the rest. And I was mulling this over in relation to the scope of disciplinary terminology–of seeking just the right circumference for a semantic network, placing a right-sized circle around the web of language. There’s something faintly nagging at the foggy juncture between the simplifying economics of parsimony, attention, and noetic vocabularies in any given doman. Not too much, not too little; scales balancing between general and special, broad and narrow. 

I dwelt for far too long on standpoint theory, which I am not using, but which I find difficult to ignore as a means of explaining the vehicular-directional metaphors (partly) invoked with “turns.” I prefer to keep turns boiling in valences of tropology and nephology, but these nevertheless contrast sharply with perspectival standpoints, bipedal participant-observers, and careerist-professional anecdotalism rampant in contemporary discipliniography. You can see from that sentence it is just as well that I keep that ish-heap out of this chapter, no? And lastly lastly, I left in a tab the joke about the magician who was driving down the road until he turned into a driveway. I wanted to, but I didn’t. And besides, I would’ve preferred that magician turn into an A&P parking lot–anything whatever more happening than a fucking driveway.

In Dribs and Drabs

And the old blog gets another new entry. It runs, though much is stuck. Garage floor rag for gas cap, as if there was fuel to from sloshing. Comments work, somewhere under the hood chewing and taking one helluva long time to post. Human-check captcha device broke, left behind versions ago. Latest comments widget broken. On this day, broken. Wordcount javascript whatever that was, broken. These among the irreparable few. And the last touch to get things going again involved replacing the script-assigned permissions upon publishing, for folders dropping 0777 to 0775 and for files flipping from 0666 to 0664. Eleven replacements and file overwrites in all so that host and republished entries and archives were harmonious again. It’s not sustainable, or rather, not long-sustainable. Sustainable only ever meant for-now-sustainable, anyway.

Last entry made it to IFTT->Twitter. But atom/RSS never seems to have fired, even though XML structure should be hospitable. As such, this amounts to another turn of the key, making sure exhaust reaches exhaust pipe for predictablish circulation.

Breaktest

An old blog breaks down. Stops working. Fails to grant access to even the control panel, not that anyone remembers the username and pissword, anyway. There’s bondo in the basement, duct tape in a kitchen junk drawer (no, the other junk drawer; the junkier drunk drawer). And then there’s some crappy old untended website with versions galore of Movable Type. Yeah, that same Movable Type from over a decade ago. It’s still wheezing around on the internet. Right here! Version 5.2.13. I had to delete a bunch of tags to get it running. Much of it probably doesn’t work. Comments? They probably return errors. When a blog is rattling around with fewer effs to give than ever before, well, whatever there is, work with it. It was always enough before. Why not now?

And if this shows up online? Breaktest passed.

Nightmare Network

A nightmare network of ganglia, charged and firing without my knowledge, cuts and splices what I do see, editing it for my brain. (21)

Annie Dillard, “Seeing,” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

Question: Where in the conductive cuts and splices do the ganglia end, the brain begin, the seeables stand apart, quarantined in their viewspace?

52 Givers

For Rhetsy, a five2 list of givers whose giving has thinned.

  1. Zenmaster is all out of meditations to give.
  2. Anesthesiologist is all out of sedatives to give.
  3. Basketball referee is all out of whistle blows to give.
  4. Late-season bee is all out of pollinations to give.
  5. Higher ed administrator is all out of tuition hikes to give.
  6. Maple tree is all out of helicopter seeds to give.
  7. Flock of geese on campus sidewalk is all out of bird shits to give.
  8. Pancake maker is all out of spatula turns to give.
  9. Tar pit mastodon is all out of valiant but fruitless struggles to give.
  10. Restauranteur is all out of pickle chips from a big can to give.
  11. Airline pilot is all out of seatbelt sign illuminations to give.
  12. Owner of infant pet monkey is all out of diaper changes to give.
  13. Dry cleaner is all out of wrinkle steamings to give.
  14. Dental hygienist is all out of overzealous flossings to give.
  15. Honorary first-pitch thrower is all out of effortful tosses to give.
  16. Mixologist is all out of Maraschino cherry juice to give.
  17. Once-angry bus driver is all out of resting stern-face horn honks to give.
  18. Dishwasher is all out of soap suds to give.
  19. Local gardener is all out of weed pulls to give.
  20. Hernia repair surgeon is all out of hernia repairs to give.
  21. Bored, lazy rhetor is all out of bawdy tropes to give.
  22. Medical marijuana dispensary desk clerk is all out of open-late snack shop directions to give.
  23. Freshly poured cement vandal is all out of anonymous handprints to give.
  24. Donut chef is all out of old-fashioned glazes to give.
  25. Listmaker is all out of ordered list items to give.

I realize the call invited lists of five; this one, rules tweaked, turned out five-squarish because there are just too many givers giving in the world.

“Your Head Will Pop Off”

Feedlied across this snapshot of John Feathers’ vast collection of maps, city guides (mostly from Los Angeles), and pamphlets–an innocuous archive or impressive case of cartographic hoarding, I don’t know. The archive, its unusual ordinariness, its scale, its discovery, all of this is interesting, or passingly so for map enthusiasts, the sharpest thumbtack of this piece for my thinking is from the video, the note near the end about the memorial function of maps, their capacity for temporal-affective relocation, their dormant-until-brightly-lit teleportation function: when-where, an interlacing of spacetime. After the pragmatic, what do maps want more than this?

Michigan Beer Fest

Along with @stevendkrause, I attended the Michigan Beer Fest on Friday evening in Ypsi’s Riverside Park. Sold out venue opened at 5 p.m. The line looked like this from the bridge over the Huron River, near Depot Town.

Riverside Park Opening Line

For thirty-five bucks, you get a five ounce cup and a plastic baggy with fifteen tokens, each good for a three ounce sample. They provide a map, but it’s an ambling scene, more wandering than purposefully itinerant. The only factors affecting my thinking as we went in were 1) need to get some food, 2) want to stop by Original Gravity’s booth, 3) prefer IPAs, and 4) venue closes at 9 p.m. I’m not so excited about the wildest experimental brews, but I sought to intermix the stuff I thought I would like with the stuff that was funky and offbeat. Here’s the list:

  1. Rad 2 the Max from Pike 51 (top three of the night)
  2. Belgian Saison from Bob’s Brewery (came with bratwurst)
  3. Reclamation IPA from Ore Dock, only representative from UP (forgettable flavor)
  4. Root Down Ginger Beer from Original Gravity, Milan, MI
  5. Coconut Cream Ale, 51 North, Lake Orion (terrible; coconut cream pie and bud light, as if sipped from Hawaiian Tropics bottle)
  6. Sassafras Dark Day IPA from Olde peninsula in Kalamazoo (odd vanilla scent; sassafras note, pleasant)
  7. Cheboygan Brewing Co, Blood Orange Honey (too fruity for me; light and summery)
  8. Mistress Jades Hemp Ale, Sherwood (p good)
  9. Spiney Norman IPA, Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City, MI, (top three of the night; a good, hoppy IPA)
  10. Also tried Mangalista Pig Porter from Right Brain (bacon; brewed with pig heads; sip is plenty)
  11. Ol’ Dale, Mountain Town Brewery, Mt. Pleasant
  12. Twice Licked Kitty from Rupert’s Brew House
  13. 4C’z Slam IPA from Farmington Brewing Co. (never again)
  14. Low End Theory black IPA, Batch Brewing Company
  15. Barrelman English IPA from Shorts
  16. Hop in Yer Rye from Saugatuck Brewing Co. (top three of the night)
  17. Figpa IPA from Dark Horse variety station

Not much else to add, besides these photos:

Brewed in Mt. Pleasant

Hippie Drum-Bagpipe Band