Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I won't lie and tell you I've been paying full-on attention to the after-trade conversations following Kevin Garnett's hop from Minnesota to Boston. I'm usually indifferent to the Celtics, but whatever can be said about the trade, suddenly Boston seems interesting to me. By picking up two stars from mediocre Western Conference teams in Garnett and Ray Allen, Boston is back--a contender in what seems to me an opened-up Eastern Conference. The Pistons have weathered any off-season unraveling (which I expected, to be honest, after the way they tanked against the Cavs). The Bulls are deep with talent. Cleveland, Toronto, and even New Jersey will likely return to the playoffs. But Boston? If they realize any chemistry whatsoever, Boston will be a legitimate contender next season. Tally this insight in the obvious column.
I mention it because it involves a team for which I have no affinity. Boston could have floundered for another season, could have remained in a status quo holding pattern. They didn't. And I'm drawn to the shake-up, pulled in by the new set of what-ifs and off-season speculation, the confusion, the swap-a-roster, a shuffle followed by who's where? Who will surprise? Who will be terrible? I enjoy these off-season questions more than I enjoy the NBA regular season.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I s. hosted her one-year birthday bash this afternoon--a sunny garden party with swimming, balloons, grilled foods, friends and more friends, sandbox play, and cake with ice cream. Today's celebration was a few days early considering that she remains an infant until Wednesday, her official birthday. At that point she will make the full transformation from infancy to toddlerhood (toddlency?). Of course, you wouldn't know it by asking her how old she is (How old, kid?). Do that and she holds up her index finger like she left the infant stage in the dust weeks ago.
Friday, July 27, 2007
L ess than one sentence in, it occurred to me that much of the magnum opus would need to be rewritten.
I mean that so far I have not been able to write perfectly intelligible, polished, ingenious prose on the first attempt. You can imagine my shock and dismay.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
T oday marks a fourth year of wedded bliss. The schedule says the traditional gift would be flowers or fruit (score me a thoughtful partner for eating a banana for breakfast?). Modern gifts: appliances. Postmodern gifts: Thai food.
A little known factoid: D. and I first met in 1985, the year that marked the middle school convergence of our smallish cohorts from the public elementary school I attended and the Catholic elementary school she attended. The rural elementaries were only a block apart, and their recess areas shared a chain link fence. Up to the time of the merger, interaction amounted to this: each of our classes would send one strong, brave soul to the fence to fight the strongest, bravest soul from the other side (the ambassadors of animosity adolescent phase, we might call this). Meanwhile everyone else (except for D. and me) stood at a distance and threw what few small rocks they could gather. I'm not kidding. The two groups merged into a single class in seventh grade. That's when we met: 1985. We discretely handed off notes in Mrs. Heitman's 7th grade English class. I remember it like it was 22 years ago.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
J ust before the fall semester convenes one month from now, my graduate program will hold its annual Community Day event. The day-long event includes faculty and grad student symposia, a lunch, a conversation with the new cohort of students, and, in the evening, a potluck. The theme for this year's event is "Scholarship In Action," one of the hinge phrases in SU's mission statement. Scholarship In Action, as I understand it, is a positive designation for scholarly activity undertaken in such a way that it circulates broadly, intervening in the world beyond the academy. Community engagement, boundary-spanning initiatives, and participatory dynamics are entered into play. SIA complicates traditional models of research. I've been asked to talk for ten minutes about how the research I'm doing matches up with SIA, and so, largely because I agreed to do it, I've been walking the perimeter, getting bearings on the phrase, tracing it back through some of the references to it in recent campus discourse, keeping on the lookout for a eureka or two.
I read the university-wide shared reading for the fall, which, in one sense, presents TB-expert Paul Farmer as the consummate scholar in action. Also, I have had a few conversations with people about SIA or overheard it discussed in relationship to more inclusive sensibilities about tenure and promotion. While it might seem an over-statement to call SIA controversial, it's an idea that, because it jostles with traditional definitions of scholarship, strikes up some hard questions. For instance: Is SIA, in itself, adequate for progress toward tenure and promotion in all disciplines? Whatever the answer to this first one, what is the optimum ratio between SIA and traditional scholarship or, that is, basic research? And how does the ratio shift depending on rank? What are the risks involved in building one's own research agenda on SIA before establishing much of any record with basic or traditional research in a given field? I raise these questions mostly to begin to get at some preliminary ideas about how to talk for ten minutes about SIA relative to what I do (and what 'what I do' does). I mean that I want to understand the correspondence rather than just insist on it. I can see that these questions would imply that SIA and traditional scholarship are at odds. That's not necessarily the case. They might just as well be considered integral. Still, SIA implies an improvement upon basic, traditional scholarship.
Farmer's research agenda as well as his publication record is downplayed in Mountains Beyond Mountains. Occasionally, Kidder mentions that Farmer was dashing off an article late at night or during one of his trans-Atlantic flights. Often the article was solicited by a reputable journal, and, of course, the writing was tightly interwoven with his on-ground, applied research in the clinic. I mention this because I didn't have the impression that Farmer was exerting himself as a scholar, traditional or in action. I mean that SIA wasn't explicitly his plan.
I'm not sure that it's my plan, either. I mean, I hold SIA in favorable regard, and I think it is an especially crucial intervention where it expands definitions of tenurable (i.e., traditional, recognizable) scholarly activity, even if hasn't caught on at many institutions. SIA stretches these carefully defined domains, and it does so, in part, to re-integrate the university with the world at-large. To blend them together again while warding off the many pressures, forces, ivory towerisms, and economies of scarcity that hold them apart in far too many ways. SIA reverses the caricature model of traditional scholarly production: curmudgeonly hermits turning out article after unread article, monograph after unread monograph, reproducing a narrow-band echo-effect among a highly specialized in-group.
But then there are more hard questions: Another concern is that as a graduate student preparing at SU (an institution where SIA is valued), what bearing will it have in an institution where SIA is not valued, not recognized? Could SIA have a negative impact for a freshly minted Ph.D. seeking a faculty appointment at another institution? Perhaps. Again, the question of ratios in the combinatory mix--of balancing an SIA agenda with traditional, recognizable scholarship, and of doing so in such a way that SIA doesn't merely amount to yet another set of tasks. I suppose this could be read as cynical, but I don't mean it that way at all. I'm only trying to anticipate questions of whether (and to what degree) SIA introduces greater risks (or greater rewards) for graduate students.
I haven't even touched upon the intersection of SIA and digital research and scholarship, but this is what my ten minutes will sort through. To what extent is keeping a del.icio.us account a form of SIA? How about blogging? Online teaching? CCC Online Archive? I can make a case for it, I suppose, but there's also a way of dealing with the question that boils down plainly to what is included on one's CV. Others have talked about this at length--whether to include one's weblog on a CV. I would guess that most people, other than those who have won awards for it, don't include it. Obviously, I don't hide it (under what rug would it fit?), but neither do I list Earth Wide Moth (not even any of my favorite entries) on the CV under "scholarship."
In a similar vein, I know there are discussions at old U. about counting the development of online courses as publications. Online courses involve a sizable chunk of work and a lot of writing, but are they more article-like than syllabus-like? More review-like than teaching-statement-like? I don't know (er, perhaps I do know this tacitly, considering I don't list the courses I've developed as publications). Without putting SIA, applied research, traditional research, or basic research into tidy, discrete categories, I still need to sort through just how much of what I do matches with SIA and, as well, take stock of what it is worth to call it by that name.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Groovy tracks. Slick interface. Click on the television icon to see whether a
video is available on YouTube. Trawl for snappy tracks with the PodCrawler.
your personal your friends' favorites for so many others to enjoy.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Comfort Inventory 4
B een a few months since I threw down a comfort inventory. More than a year, in fact.
- Somebody's birthday p-r-e-s-e-n-t arrived this afternoon in a U.P.S. truck. I doubt it will be a surprise, considering she had on a humongous smile and made the baby sign for "What can Brown do for Is.?"
- I have been draftertating. I started in the hardest place--the section I understand the least. I write on it for a couple of hours each day. And then I have worrying spells during which I fret that it's mostly shit (say...65%). But I press on and write some more.
- Ph. landed a bona fide job today. He interviewed on Monday and got the call today. Orientation in just a couple of days.
- This is week seven of the eight-week term for the course I am teaching online this summer.
- D. picked up a can of Static Guard for me when she was running a few errands this afternoon. Ever since the move, each time I sit down at the computer, I pass along a static shock. Fzzt! Can't be good for the delicate components. And I hear that the dissertation phase of a PhD program is an especially lousy time to have computer failures. Maybe if I could just sit still I wouldn't have this problem.
- I have a web cam connected to my laptop. It reports to me that I look like this tonight. And I had an email from the parent of a player who was on the basketball team I coached in K.C. a few years ago. He'd Googled me. Checked out the Flickr spread with Is. and the rest of us. Know what he told me? It appears I haven't aged since I moved to Syracuse. Oh, but I have. Most definitely, I have.
- In preparation for a Friday afternoon meeting of my program's job seekers, I have roughed together a job letter. It is unlikely that I'll apply to any jobs this year, though, considering that we're not going to scoot off to a new city for Ph.'s senior year of high school.
- Speaking of Ph.'s senior year, they're building new outdoor athletic facilities at his high school this summer. Last night we took a call from his coach who asked whether it would be possible for us to attend a district "Facilities Committee Meeting" at the board office this afternoon. 3:30 p.m. "Yeah, sure." The whole point of the meeting: one of the nabors to the project once saw someone on an ATV stop and take a leak in the woods adjacent to the new sports complex. As a result of this act, he wants a six-thousand dollar fence extension added to protect the suburban wildlife from this sort of hooligan behavior. When asked whether anyone in our row had any comment to make, I had none. Neither did Ph.
- Ph. netted a pair of goals in his soccer match on Monday evening. They won 6-0 even though they started the match with just six players. Not such an even match, I guess you could say.
- Is. has a toy that plays a MIDI version of this tune.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A t almost one year old, Is. prefers the swing to all other playground equipment at the park nearest to where we live. Of course, it's no wonder considering her weight is no match for mine on the see-saw, and the other contraptions (ladders, monkey bars, swinging bridges, and slides) demand more mobility.
Monday, July 16, 2007
United Lakes of Atlantica
Aside from the Grand Inversion, the map symbols would suggest that the climate, landforms, coastlines, flora, and fauna are more or less in tact. In that case, I suppose I'd be most at home just north and east of Bermuda City. Or somewhere within a canoe ride of the Great Islands.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
E arlier this week, I took a look at the TED Talk presented by Jonathan Harris, creator of the programmed-art installations WordCount, 10x10, Phylotaxis, We Feel Fine, and several more, including his most recent project, Universe. Universe, like most of Harris' work, presents a more dynamic and aesthetically lively interface for encountering large samples of texts, such as news feeds from all over the world, collections of blog entries, or the British National Corpus. No question Harris' projects stand apart from nearly everything else I've seen online where sizeable corpuses are rendered visually. I mean that these projects are created in such a way that they lead with artfulness, enriching data visualization with aesthetics.
If you play the TED Talk, you'll hear Harris talk about We Feel Fine, a project that gathers "feel" and "feeling" statements and funnels them back through the interface he designed. He calls this process "passive observation." Subjects implicitly assent to We Feel Fine's use of their writing because they have published it online. It is out there, available on the web. In this context, the "passive" allows for working with a large sample of texts. It's not humanly possible to read every weblog entry published in a single day for instances of "feel" and "feeling." I think of Harris's methods as well-aligned with Moretti's "distant reading." Passive observation, in effect, bears some correspondence to distant reading. In much the same way "distant" is a term in need of recuperation, particularly in the humanities, so too is "passive," given that active and activity usually win the day. Rare are the arguments against the active, against activity, against activism, against the act (as event?). Is passive in "passive observation" opposite of active? Not necessarily. If by "active," we refer to the efforts it would take an army of readers to glance a few million blog entries for "feel" and "feeling," passive indicates a different way--aggregate, casual filter, pass over if, drifting attitude or manner (the sub-terrain of Burke's agency, which incorporates instruments). Relaxed finding not so much bound to today's set of blog entries as a focal act or object of study but speculative and futuristic, open to an undetermined end.
Harris's most recent project, Universe, abstracts global news coverage. Universe is explained at length in the talk linked above. The notion of constellations is central here. Constellations of words, references, names, figures. And although Harris's work serves generally as a relay to the texts, he does not seem concerned with writing or rhetoric. The writing that all of these projects piggyback is phenomenal, its constructedness and context is downplayed if not ignored altogether. Within Universe, Harris extends the forming of constellations to a "mythology of the world." Maybe we could hold up these projects alongside Barthes on the spreading and ripening of myth and its social geography; its discursiveness, its rootedness in select social strata, and its micro-climates:
Thus every myth can have its history and its geography; each is in fact the sign of the other: a myth ripens because it spreads. I have not been able to carry out any real study of the social geography of myths. But its perfectly possible to draw what linguists would call isoglosses of a myth, the lines which limit the social region where it is spoken. (149)
After all, these projects set out after text-based pattern.
While I am enthusiastic about Harris's work, I view much of it with a faint wish at the back of my mind, a wish that it will one day be set loose from the gallery so that others might adapt and appropriate it (with credit where due). Maybe I've mentioned it before, but why not have WordCount scale to any set of texts? Certainly Harris is under no obligation to share the back-end on any of these projects, particularly the attention-getters and recent releases. But at a time when the only attention being systematically given by universities to large corpuses of texts is to march student essays through the criminal-infested by-ways of Turnitin.com, it's encouraging to think about some of the other ways these open-ended text-trajectories (i.e., student writing or writing in any field or discipline) might be read distantly or observed passively. We Feel Fine for an entire curriculum or program, where "feel" and "feeling" can be aggregated and re-associated right along with [verbs of choice, perhaps "argue" and "arguing" for so much academic interchange]. Imagine a hybrid set of applications blending Harris's projects with MONK and with texts of the everyday not limited to news feeds, digitized literary archives, or national corpuses, applications, that is, scalable to whatever.
R ecently we planned for Is.'s upcoming birthday party. Which invitations would we use? Paper and the USPS or something online? I went about developing a short list of online invitation services, eventually settling on evite.com and sendomatic.com. Evite.com is free, and it incorporates advertising so that it can remain free. Besides that, it is adequate for what we wanted--customizable invitations and a tracking system for RSVPs. Sendomatic.com is free if you are inviting four or fewer people to your event. If you want to invite between 4-100 people, it costs $12.95. But no advertisements. Free with advertisements or for-pay without advertisements: as far as I can tell, this sums up the two sites. They're even on most other counts.
Initially, we opted for evite, set up an invitation, and prepared to send it off to 17 invitees for the small party later this month. However, when we previewed the invitation, the sidebar included a Victoria's Secret ad, and, whatever was Victoria's secret, it if involved the in-your-face skin-flesh of a supermodel, um, the secret was out. Not quite the image we had in mind for a first birthday. So we scrapped that plan and resigned ourselves to handing over 13 bucks for Send-o-matic. I wish they had more scalable options (i.e., a $4.95 option for <50 invitees or a per invitation rate...the company that does this and also includes a free option with advertising will win the market lead, no doubt). But, what the heck. First birthdays must be just right, and for 13 bucks, the invitations and RSVPs would be handled digitally so we could keep up with them easily.
Only, there was a hitch. And yes, it turns out that I am not above using this blog to review crappy products and services. We signed up for a Send-o-matic account. Selected a design. Input the details. Added the addresses of recipients. Paid the fee. And hit send. Within 48 hours, we heard back from nearly half of the people on the list that the email message they received was blank.
There is no telephone number for Send-o-matic customer service. I sent a message of concern through their online form:
[Summary of system failure.]
I wonder if there is anything you can recommend to resolve this disappointing turn of events. Are refunds available? And if so, how might we go about formally requesting one given that the system has, by and large, failed to work as we hoped it would?
D. & D.
Sendomatic's answer came within the day. They acknowledged a system glitch, noting that invitations sent out during a certain day and time were, in fact, blank. They would offer us another invitation to use at a later date. In other words, we could use their service to send out invitations for a future event. I was also told that a refund would be available if I followed up and asked for it. The refund makes sense to me because we don't have plans to host another event. The second set of invitations are of no value to us. Furthermore, what reassurance do we have that this so-called "glitch" won't happen next time?
I responded and said I would prefer to take the refund, but I also wanted to know whether taking the refund would mean that our current invitation--the one that was blank for half of the invitees and accessible for the other half--would be removed from the system. I asked because some of the guests already RSVPed to the Send-o-matic system. Accept/decline was registered by some of the guests, and it was visible for other to see. Guests are able to see a list of others who are coming and who have declined. But this list is misleading because it doesn't include any explanation that half of the people on the list received blank invitations. Customer service told me: If you accept the refund, the current invitation will be removed from the system.
So that's the story with Send-o-matic and Is.'s first-year birthday party. We will not pursue the refund. Nor will we pursue the "free gift" of a future, never-to-be-used invitation set via Send-o-matic. As far as the party is concerned, we're only inviting a few close friends, so it's easy enough to send an email to everyone who didn't receive the invitation the first time. Their glitch coupled with the "refund" (i.e., removal of the invitation) simply adds layers confusion on top of an already embarrassing scenario. No thanks. Let this be a permanent reminder never to bother with such unapologetically lousy services as this one.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
W e've been in Syracuse for going on three years, but today was the first time we visited the Regional Farmer's Market (just ten minutes from where we live). We managed some self-restraint in that we only picked up a few fresh vegetables, a pint of fresh raspberries, and fresh-baked cookies. Incredible range of produce, meats, and hand-made goods filling four or more long pavillions; it's one of those finds when you think, shoot, three years we've been missing this? I wish we'd stopped in much sooner.
InexplicableY . has been getting into everything, including Blabberize.com. His morning misbehavior makes me wonder whether he was reading Collin's entry from earlier. Go on, you have time. The clip is only about 18 minutes long.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Things VI: Ladder of Abstraction
T oday Ph. and I cobbled this together:
It's a yard game. Goes by ladder golf, bolo toss, or, as it's named on some web sites, hillbilly horseshoes or Polish horseshoes. I like to think of it as the Ladder of Abstraction yard game. See, on top of buying the PVC pipe, fittings, and golf balls, drilling holes in the balls and running rope through them, cutting the PVC, and joining it all together, I also drafted another 600 words (a sketchy 2 pages) on the diss. I'm making a crooked path through the second chapter (all of the others are more or less planned but not yet written), the chapter that does some lit-reviewy groundwork in four concept-areas. And today's bit got me up to the point where, tomorrow, I will begin writing about visual models and distant reading methods in terms of abstraction and speculative instruments. Yes, among other things, this means Ann Berthoff and the Ladder of Abstraction. I'll try to say more about the dissertation progress in another entry. For now I only meant to register that the our yard game is so-named because it is expected to be a generative digression from the summer workload.
For anyone eager to build a Ladder of Abstraction Yard Game set of one's own, I followed this plan. We also score the game a bit differently. Each rung from the top on down gets four, three, and two points, respectively. Landing at least one of the balls from the tossing thingamabob inside the rectangular footing area wins a point. Play to 21. Going over 21 brings the frown-faced thrower back to 17. In other words, you must his 21 exactly to win, just like the basketball game of 21. Also, the wikiHow plan calls for 14" ropes for the golf balls. This seems a bit short, but they work decently if the ladders are set up 20' apart. Longer connective ropes (16"?) would be better for a slightly longer throwing lane of, say, 30'.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I mentioned before that in addition to teaching one course I'm working this summer in a mentoring role for first-term online instructors at old U. I'm assigned to two of them, an instructor of psychology and an instructor of economics. This involves email interchanges, sharing certain announcements and teaching documents, occasional phone conversation, and three formative evaluations throughout the term. In a recent phone conversation with the instructor of economics, he told me about a colleague from his M.A. program who has been power-adjuncting for a couple of years. The power adjunct, so I'm told, taught 16 online courses per term for who knows how many unwitting universities en route to earning close to $300,000 in one year. That would make this person's FTE, oh, between 11 and 12? Obviously, this involves torturous paces and is more possible where courses are flatly transactional, even where assessment follows a reductive circuit from the textbook to multiple-choice examination. Not the most sustainable career choice, but at 300K, a hyperactive part10-timer could work for only a couple of years before retiring comfortably (while teaching only two or three courses per term for groceries).
Yes, it is scandalous. Equally scandalous are the "university" systems that make the conditions for bloat-load teaching possible. There is more lore to this effect: stories of some low-lying part-timer in California who, with ties to just four different institutions, teaches online and earns six figures doing it (not 300k, but more like 100k). Something about it intrigues me, makes me wonder at the possibilities. No, no, not that I'd ever want to try it (300k...), but I'm anxiously waiting for someone else to write a monograph comparable to Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, only this time taking the exposé to the credit-hour-farmers who heft the virtual load, like day-workers at online Labor Ready, but instead of getting exploited, they get rich (well, okay, exploited and rich).
Monday, July 9, 2007
I had just five minutes to tinker around with Mojiti the other day, but I'm intrigued by some of the possibilities it suggests. Mojiti is a video editing application that lets you layer word balloons, thought bubbles, captions, and other markers (circles, boxes, and so on, all of which can be animated) over any video on YouTube and a number of other video hosting sites. It's good for mash-ups of existing content (music videos, news clips, etc.), but I can also imagine using it similar to the way the Word of the Day works on Colbert, where they deliver the straight-faced monologue and then upset it with captions, creating ruptures overflowing with puns and hilarity. Where'd I hear of Mojiti? Over at Mashable, of course. As feeds go, it's one of the best new additions I've made in recent months.
To try Mojiti, I checked it out (remember, in only five or ten minutes) with this goofy little YouTube clip of the highlights from a soccer match Ph. and I played on the PS2 several weeks ago between Senegal and Italy.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Things V: Florals
C oincidentally, Is.'s eleven-mos.-day fell on our moving day last Sunday. Out front, the new place has a healthy flower bed, grown thick with daisies, and, well other plants and things (I'd name them all, but why? when you can see them for yourself).
Is.'s eleven-mos.-day photo was pushed back to today. Would you believe me if I said there are others of us who are even happier to be almost settled again?
Friday, July 6, 2007
Things IV: Level
T he bubbles shift each time the level is moved.
E arly in The Function of Theory in Composition Studies, Sánchez discusses the differences between applying theory and writing theory. He refers to Hairston's "The Winds of Change," as a moment that inaugurates "an enduring method for 'doing' composition theory: take a term or concept from a more respected or respectable field such as philosophy and use it to illuminate some aspect of composition studies" (12). The way of theorizing about writing, according to Sánchez: appropriate and apply, appropriate and apply. There follows a soft critique: methods in scare quotes (i.e., "predominant 'methods'") and, within a few pages, a discussion of those who "have reasserted the importance of empirically oriented theorizing" (13). Sánchez echoes Linda Flower with his interest in ways "that composition theory might generate new theories rather than retrofit existing ones" (14). I haven't finished reading The Function of..., but I'm wondering at the end of the first chapter whether the retrofit and the new can coexist, whether they are hybrid and integral.
This feeds into another impression. In his chapter on "The Philosophers" (The Making of...), North draws on a metaphor of the marina to describe the group's turn-style make-up:
Given their backgrounds, the best first option of most of these movers (i.e., Practitioners), is the Scholars' community; and since Philosophical inquiry, in an area still so new, is so wide open--requiring the least retraining, demanding access to no special materials, and offering the chance of relatively quick publication--many have given it a try. A few, frustrated by what they perceive as the limitations of Philosophical work, are drawn on to try other modes of inquiry. Most presumably return to whatever they did before, finding themselves uninterested in or not suited for the effort involved in sustained Philosophical inquiry. The resulting demographic pattern is rather like that of a marina: a small core of full-time residents; a larger group of longer-term types, who may stay as long as two or three years, or move in and out with some regularity; and lots of one-time seasonal visitors who nevertheless--by sheet weight of numbers--leave their mark on the community. And so, even though we can say that the community has developed a stronger sense of its own identity--especially, like the Historians, in terms of a more potent critical self-consciousness--there are in fact enormous individual differences in the extent to which such a claim can be true. (92)
A long quotation, I know. I have italicized the line about the "resulting demographic pattern," in part because I have been thinking about patterns and disciplinarity, and I think that Sánchez is building toward a discussion of pattern generation (a theory of writing as pattern generation) in his push away from hermeneutics, away from writing as representation, and away from the appropriate/apply method of theorizing. But I want to add an asterisk, a qualifier, to this anticipatory sense of where Sánchez is taking me. Keeping with North's marina metaphor, might it be that professionalization and graduate training contribute to the appropriate-apply method of theorizing writing? Even the multi-year residents at the Complandia marina moved there at some point, new to the neighborhood with their things not far behind. Among those things, square boxes packed with "Derrida, Foucault, Cixous, Wittgenstein, Irigaray, and so on" (13).
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Things III: Temporary Storage
T he garage temporary houses piles of containers, stacked desks (listed at Craigslist, on the cheap!), mattresses (Ph. has gone with a futon), a jogging baby stroller (uh...would require jogging?), a decorative artificial tree (listed at Craigslist, cheap! cheap!), a travel crate for Y., etc. This list, continued to its limits, would become so long as to be unreadable.
This is a shot of our holding bay (i.e., in-house storage unit) from yesterday. Today it does not look so piled up as this. Relocation involves a series of temporary storage spaces--relay stations. Ideally, the distance between such stations is short enough that carrying items from one to the next is not back-breaking.
Y esterday a distraught reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, came through on a search for information about "injured moth[s]." This weblog contributes embarrassingly little about what to do in the event that a moth, or any specimen of flying insect for that matter, is injured. I'm no credentialed physician, but I have had more than a fair share of sporting injuries: sprained ankles, jammed fingers, and limb dislocations. For those, ice packs aid with healing, best when applied for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours. But I suppose that's not especially helpful for an injured moth.
Certain cracks and cuts can be temporarily patched with super glue.
Also, I was told as a kid that damaging the fine coating of scales on a moth's wings will fatally injure it. Once a human touches the wing, the moth is pretty much fudged. Plan its funeral; it's a goner by morning. This is the way with many insects, isn't it? Typically, once injured, they die. They don't have a lot of bounce-back, not much means or opportunity for healing in their short, complex little lives.
You spy an injured moth. Another option is to be Kevorkian-merciful with it (Aside: Jack K. was released from prison early last month). End its suffering. Hurry along the inevitable. As inhumane as it might seem at first, moth death is a part of moth life. In fact, one of the stunning discoveries upon moving to our new house was that one window casing appeared to have been used as chamber for torturing moths. Sealed into the narrow space between the screen and the window pane, the moths must have struggled for hours before succumbing to their ultimate misfortunes.
I share this gruesome image not so much because I think it will be helpful for healing an injured moth; rather, I share it because it suggests that not everyone is so willing to rush to the assistance of moths-in-need that they search Google for remedies. It suggests that there are those who would stand by, letting nature run its unthinkably cruel course. That said, the final alternative I can recommend would be to call a local lepidopterist or veterinarian, prepared to describe the injury as vividly as possible.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
W here we live now the office has new Pella windows. Lalo explained to me that they have ties to Iowa and were, on that basis alone, compelled to order and install Pella windows from Pella, Iowa.
All of the other surfaces in the office are new, too: walls, flooring, lights, outlets, wall plates, and so on. There are two windows. One looks toward the house next door; the other faces the back yard--a marvelous double lot overgrown with blackberries, wild garlic, wild grapes, choke cherries, and so on. What we've gained in yard, however, we have compromised in the kitchen and eating area. The office is a newly finished walk-in attic. Neither of the windows is positioned such that a desk would sit comfortably in front of it. This means that the pleasure of staring out through a Pella window must be indulged on breaks, on intermittent standing stretching book-retrieving breaks from whatever is happening at the wall-facing desk-table. Like the fancy windows, this work space is, compared to all of the places we've lived in Syracuse, "viewed to be the best."
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
T hree days after the transfer of goods, the books remain in boxes. The three bookcases in the office are bare. Well, not entirely bare. Altogether they support just one small box of books, an odd assortment: The Rhetorical Tradition, a couple of textbooks, a copy of Social Text 71, Collision Course, What Writing Does and How It Does It, Sams Teach Yourself Macromedia Flash 5 in 24 Hours, a 4th ed. MLA Handbook, Evolving Perspectives on Computers and Composition Studies: Questions for the 1990s, and a few others.
In the 30 minutes it took me to set up Ph.'s computer and reconfigure his wireless connection, he toted a major portion of the boxed books from living room floor (where we'd jointly relocated them from the garage) to the upstairs office. In the photograph, Is. appears to be asking whether the books should be brought upstairs or down (but we all knew where they went and that she could be setting us up). This means that the books are now piled next to the empty shelves, within arms reach. Tomorrow, I will unpack them, give them their independence, and restore the piecemeal collection to its "mild boredom of order."
Monday, July 2, 2007
Many Hands, Light Work
H ad we 10,000 helpers, each of whom would put away just one or two items (a sock, a book, a plate, etc.) from our piles of household goods, we would be unpacked by now. But no such luck. Still, I can't complain, considering A.) we had generous, strong, and willing helpers for most of the day yesterday, B.) we returned the U-Haul truck on time (calling this crap-heap a "truck" is the highest compliment I can pay), and C.) nobody was seriously injured in the .9 mile transfer of goods. My hauling wounds amount only to bruised forearms and a blister on the tip of my right pinky toe. The battered forearms prove one more defeat by paper: the 500-lb. file cabinet pretty much had its way with me, and it has been relegated to the garage until we can lighten its contents.
Now, my five minutes for blogging have expired. Ph.'s futon frame is the one piece of furniture that spent the night in the yard, and now I must dismantle it into pieces that will fit through the narrow passages into his room. On with the next phase: Many work, light hands.