Monday, September 29, 2008


Earlier tonight I stood out in the damp cold and watched Ph.'s eighth match of the season, a 1-0 win over Central Square. This is his senior season, and they're struggling, although struggling well, since tonight was their second win in a row to move them to 3-5-1. On an injured/short-handed/overmatched team? Struggle well.

I've been withholding a lot of frustrations about the program, about the coach, about the ways Ph. has developed as a varsity soccer athlete for three years now, and I won't air out all (any?) of those frustrations here. Suffice it to say that he is the head captain, and they are getting better. He is also the starting sweeper, shoring up the defense, and playing a position he has never played before. All of us in the M-H household scratched our heads about that decision when it came up a few weeks ago. Ph. has always played forward or wing, even center mid on a few occasions, usually to give the regular CM a rest. But sweeper?

It was clear early on that Ph. was initially unhappy with the assignment, struggling with the vocalism, timing, and attitude required to play the position well. Sweepers are gritty and mean. They direct traffic. They anticipate runs. His athleticism and soccer smarts helped him cover what would be considered mistakes for most sweepers: getting out of position, not talking out the matchups on a restart, mis-judging a ball. Of course, tonight I saw something completely different. I frankly wasn't sure that it would happen (much less happen this quickly), but he has developed, in two or three weeks, an impressive facility for the position. He covered through balls, stepped up when the stopper was compromised, talked to his outside defenders and keeper, encouraged his teammates, and played an all around great game in the back. He's adapted to it, and I mention it largely because it is a credit to him more than anyone else.

Yeah, that's all. No venting of frustrations (yet!). Just saying that Ph. had a great game tonight.


Just one month ago John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his V.P. running mate. I'd never heard of her. Oh, how much we have learned over these thirty days. I can't say that I tune into the news all that often, but I feel like I've taken a short course on Palin or, worse, had an emergency Palinoscopy performed on my brain (not to worry, I remain lucid enough to know how to vote in another month).

For instance, here's a can't-miss tidbit from the New Yorker's "Coconut Oil Department" about the tanning bed Palin bought for her Juneau home.

Of the many things revealed about the Alaska governor Sarah Palin since she became John McCain's running mate last month, one of the most curious is the fact, reported two weeks ago, that she had a tanning bed installed in the state mansion in Juneau. Obama supporters seized on the news, arguing that private tanning-bed ownership is evidence that Palin isn't the folksy hockey mom she claims to be, while Republican partisans pointed out that she bought the bed secondhand from an athletic club, and, moreover, that tanning is a reasonable activity, given Alaska's sun-deprived winters.

Meh. Might be nothing. Although this does stand in odd contrast--Vitamin D or no Vitamin D--to McCain's medical record. The tanning bed can't have all that much bearing on Palin's promise as a candidate, can it? The following two, however, are pieces I can't seem to forget any time her name comes up. These are the lingering associations that have, for me, overrun any other impressions I might have (including, perhaps, any that will emanate during Thursday evening's debate).

1. The Runaway Train Response to Couric (via)

2. Lessig's Research on Palin's Experience Relative to other VP's (via)

Don't watch them back to back unless you're unafraid of enduring (er, enjoying?) with me a full-on Palindectomy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pet Eye

We are still working on diversifying Yoki's poses. In the meantime, I had this terrific photo of him getting ready to smear his nose print on the camera lens, but the flash reflected his eyes at their demonic green eeriest.


Lo and behold, there are tutorials for such things, and thus I was able, in a few easy steps, to adjust the pet eye (obviously, anthropocentrism abounds in the default red eye correction tools)


Yes, I know. You are wondering why, if I have time for "pet eye" correction, I am not back to blogging as usual. Soon, soon, soon (which might somehow or other add up to never again): Watson is nearly drafted, C. 6 (el fin) is well underway, and so on and so on. Plus, remember that this is not far from the usual fare around here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Don't worry; this doesn't mean the Yoki series has been discontinued. It's just a blip in my plan.

Yesterday, I was watching Is. in the late afternoon. Ph. had an away soccer match and so needed a ride to the school around 4 p.m.; D. was off on an errand. I was sapped out, dragging. I've been off caffeine since mid-August, but yesterday I suffered an ever so slight hankering and succumbed to it, stopping off at the local quick mart for a cold Dr. Pepper. Is. asked, where are we going? I said, inside for a soda. She said, huh? And I said a soda, a pop. Growing up in Michigan, it was always "pop." Is. thought I was talking about a "fruit pop"--the name she uses somewhat interchangeably for 100% juice popsicles and also for lollipops or suckers, which I've learned lately are shoved in kids faces at every turn from the physician to the post office (today at the post office in Fayetteville, a chocolate Dum-Dum). It's constant.

Anyway, the two of us went into the mart, and, of course, all of the candy was lined up at Is.'s eye level, a galleria of pops and things. She picked out a pomegranate (?) Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, and we were out the door again, me with my soda and Is. with the candy. Indulged and temporarily satisfied.

The deal with the pop was that she had to eat a decent dinner before she could have it. No problemo, said the look she gave me. And she did so, happily working through the nutritional foodstuff before reminding me that the junk was all-the-while hailing her.

And then we had a conversation about how, when I was a kid, the Country Corner at the intersection of Remus and Winn Roads would redeem Tootsie Roll wrappers if they had a star on them. Seems like I ate quite a few of those.

I also told Is. about the commercial with the dippy kid who sought out a partner for his "how many licks?" research study: the one where the turtle admits his inability to resist devouring the thing before completing the investigation and then passes the kid off to the overconfident and disastrously lazy owl who gives it two licks before crunching down on the thing. Fade to shrinking fruit pops with voiceover: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? The world may never know." Is. was far more interested in hearing about the boy, the turtle, and the owl, than in hearing me describe that commercial as my first exposure to flawed research (that sort of sham inquiry that made it seem like the owl already knew the answer he would give and instead performed the part only so he could consume the object of inquiry, take it as his own, and so on).

Later, we checked it out on YouTube.

No shortage of innuendos here about research ethics and consuming inquiry (either way: of too much fondness for the objects or of destructive partnerships), but suffice it to say that Is. did not ask me what the answer was (how should I know?) and neither did I let on whether I thought the question from the commercial was any good in the first place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Beware of

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bone Crunching


No, that it's a "corn starch" form-molded peanut-butter-gravy bone does not lessen the primal ferociousness with which Y. takes up that task of grinding it into small bits.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brown Food

Brown Food

Y. enthusiastically eats a dish (appr. 2/3 cup) of Nutro Natural Choice Chicken Meal, Rice & Oatmeal Formula for Sensitive Stomachs every morning at 7:15 a.m. and every evening at 5:30 p.m. His food comes in a green bag. Soon we will convert him to one feeding daily. As you might recall, Y. is not a grazer; he must not be allowed to have constant access to his food or he will consume it until just beyond capacity.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And Does Tricks

Yesterday's reference to "photos and only photos": an unnecessary constraint. After all, Y., too, lives in an age of moving pictures, videocy, extra special effects, etc.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Would you mind?

Who would mind?

Today I am thinking about posting photos of Y. and only photos of Y. to the blog for the next several months. The Y. Photo-Chronicle Project: 180 days of Y. in the bath, Y. getting his nails trimmed, Y. chasing squirrels, Y. licking this and that, Y. chewing sticks, Y. sniffing at the grill, Y. dashing into the kitchen to mooch in the corners for crumbs, Y. smiling for the camera. And then, after I am caught up with grading, finished with my "media rich" Watson presentation, done-done-done with job file preparations, and after Ph. has graduated high school, Is. is fully potty trained, D. has dashed through what remains for the M.A., and there are no more groceries to buy, no more errands to run, no more emails flooding the inbox, then usual blogramming may resume. Until then, that's a helluva cute dog, no?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Twenty-One is Aces

Remember Richard Leahy's "Twenty Titles for the Writer"? A classic. Need a snappy title, revisit Leahy, and you'll have twenty to choose from, nineteen more than you needed.

I didn't assign Leahy's piece this semester (never have assigned it, if you want to know the truth), but I did do something different with titles for this first essay in 195. I asked students to use to come up with something. And, while there remain a few of the usual platitudes (thankfully, nothing innovatively spun from Prince Hamlet's existential crisis), there are some that kick up sparks, pique my interest, and provide that extra little nudge to read on. Among them:

The Internet Is Not Printed On Paper
Urban Dictionary Is My Girlfriend
Learning Is Now At WWW
Answers Is On Answer Page
Literacy Is Fundamental Please Sign My Guestbook
Literacy Is Not What You Thought It Is

And now, for the rest of this rainy weekend: reading, commenting, grading. Well, and so that I don't become too one-track, a veggie lasagna, Is.'s first swim lessons, and re-playing Be Kind Rewind so I can properly continue Watson preparations for next month.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Love You, Stewmorrow

The seasons are changing, so you need a new soup: Stewmorrow. Two reasons for the name: 1.) There is more for tomorrow. Lots more. This afternoon I made a batch the way my mother would have: cook to fill the sizes of the pots you are working with, not the number of faces you are feeding. 2.) It is something to look forward to, to anticipate. Only a day away, stewmorrow.

Here's how you can make some for yourself next time you're tired of the same old cheese sandwiches day after day.

You'll need

1 fist-sized onion, chopped
4 zuchinnis, quartered then sliced every ΒΌ-in. or less
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cans northern white beans or cannellinis if you prefer them ( I don't drain them)
2 chicken breasts
chicken broth, 32 oz. carton
4 tbsp oregano flakes
2 dashes cayenne pepper powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 veg. bouillon cube
olive oil
salt, pepper

I've made it twice now, and I think that's everything. First, cover the bottom of the pot with water (just enough water to cover it thinly). Add the whole chicken breasts, cover them lightly with olive oil, salt/pepper, and half of the seasonings (oregano, cayenne, and cumin). Cover and cook on medium high until the chicken is done all the way through. Add the onion and cook with the lid off until the onions begin to clarify and even caramelize a little bit. Remove the chicken breasts and let them cool.

Into the pot, add the chicken broth, cubed potatoes, zukes, the bouillon cube, the bay leaves, and the other half of the seasonings. Bring to a low boil for 15-20 mins, or until the potatoes are fork-soft. In the meantime, chop the chicken into small bits and open the beans. After the potatoes have softened, reduce the heat to low, and add the chicken and unrinsed beans. Next, let it simmer for whatever time you have, at least 30 minutes.

Served it tonight with cheddar biscuits and apple slices, much to everyone's satislipsmackingfaction. I think of it as an unexpectedly savory mix between an Italian wedding soup and white chili. Add more cayenne if you want the heat, but at these rough measures Is. thought it was okay--not too hot for a tot.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Free Cantons


A classical view (based on the unity of the human person): stupidity is an hysteria: it would be enough to see oneself as stupid in order to be less so. A dialectical view: I agree to pluralize myself, to permit free cantons of stupidity to live within me.

Often he has felt stupid: this was because he had only an ethical intelligence (i.e., neither scientific nor political nor practical nor philosophical, etc.). (RB 110)


Yesterday was the Barthes of September, the day of the year that has, around here, become blogically devoted to excerpts a la Roland. Oh how nice it would be if this--missing Barthes Day--was the only thing off a little bit these days. Decrypted: I'm still on the rebound from that flu bug (it was a damn fine foe), and, as luck would have it, Tom Brady was my number one pick on my fantasy football team, which, pity that it is, still makes me wonder why, if it's fantasy, he can't be healthy and put up big numbers this season.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Local weathercasters this evening reported that the temperature in Syracuse today rose to 90F for the first time since June 9. Hot, for middle New York, anyway.

On the bright side, I have tussled with an unrelenting flu bug for the last 28.5 hours (who's counting?); so, rather than sitting by the pool today, I spent a substantial portion of the late afternoon and evening shivering inside my oldest, most dilapidated sweat suit while the temp in my body flitted above average (a balmy 102F inside my right ear at last measure). This is not to complain, since I think of hosting various viruses as a model of neighborly service, but rather just to mention that what I would ordinarily identify as great discomfort was well-timed in that I barely noticed the searing hot spell outdoors. Even so, I managed to read and comment some writing from 195ers; but little else.

Tomorrow is "Theory Day," a Writing Program sponsored day of reading and discussing student writing. The doctor ABD in me thinks it might be wise to bow out, forgo the event and so too pass on the 100 clams of compensation for full-day participation, in favor of relaxing and recouping a little bit. But I can wait until morning to make that decision.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Said Today, Less Context

"What's your problem?"



Last time on STLC.