Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pink, Purple, or Heliotrope

Somehow I missed this short--Boundin'--from Pixar when I saw The Incredibles (2004). After I finished the bagel and reading the funnies this morning, Is. and I watched the first seven or eight shorts on Pixar's Short Animations DVD--a nice little gift from the recent holidays, and so we saw it again (for the first time?). Bound, bound, bound, and rebound. Watch this after ms., grant app., and conference proposal rejections?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today 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.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Re Lease

Signed a lease today. This means two things (sung to any tune you like). One: we have a place to live for next year. Two: all of the people who were mobilized to variations of sympathy ("poor dears"), rage ("why I oughta") and generosity ("we'll keep an eye/ear open for rents") can accept our heartfelt thanks and go back to whatever they were doing.

Pictured: A lovely property similar to one of the houses we looked at in recent weeks.

It's quite a relief to have this settled. In the chaos of the last two and a half weeks we looked at as many as thirteen or fourteen places. The one we selected is a first-time rental in a non-student neighborhood close to a P&C grocery store, the bus line (to campus and to Ph.'s H.S., which will remain the same), Y.'s veterinarian, and Barry Park (which has a duck pond, outdoor hoops courts, and fields where Ph.'s soccer team practices). The house has a 1/2 acre fenced yard, bordered on the West by SU's practice fields for soccer and lacrosse. Yes, unobstructed sunsets, even if we have only three cloud-free days in central New York each year. And the inside is cozy. It's in amazing shape compared to most rental properties in the University neighborhoods.

The only other thing to be said about it right now is that the house number combines the first three numbers from the Hugo's winning lottery ticket on Lost. Those numbers on the hatch? The values Locke kept punching into the computer? Yeah, those. We're moving into a house with a few of those numbers boldly marking the front porch. 15-8-4. D. and Ph. think I'm making something out of nothing, but if I've learned anything from two-plus seasons of acute attention to Lost it's that the numbers are nothing to kid about.

Continuing the subject of trepidation inducers, Ph. passed the test for his NY driver's permit this morning. The person administering the tests at the DMV gave Ph. a wink of encouragement and said "Maybe your dad will let you drive home." Trouble is, the Element is the only set of wheels we have right now, and Ph. isn't especially practiced yet (enthusiastic though he is about getting behind the controls). Might be my ultimate and irreparable shortcoming as a parent, but I've got some serious meditation (therapy?) to do before I'll be ready to give driving lessons. So, even with the housing fiasco of '07 happily resolved, if I continue to seem anxious, remember that Ph.'s carefree self will soon be motoring around these parts with me as his nerve-wracked passenger.

Friday, August 4, 2006

To Wild Homes

Buckled In

We're home; relieved to be. Is. aced the car ride and napped quietly (in my arms, listening to jazz) for several minutes during a pit stop at Babies-R-Us. I've posted a few more pics, including one of her showing off the full-range follow-through on her left hand hook. They learn so fast! Tomorrow's agenda: ABC's, img tags in HTML, and how to hold a PS2 controller (so as to optimize speed-to-button). Also, for anyone who stops by, it's really not my fault the grass isn't cut; one of the antique coil springs responsible for hoisting the 400-pound garage door snapped just after I backed out the Element on the way to pick up D. and Is. this morning, which means the lawnmower is marooned and the lawn wild.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Hello Whirled

Friends and internets, welcome Isabel Deidre Mueller!


Quite. The. Day (since 10:50 p.m. last night, that is). D. and Is. are healthy, resting. I'd go on and on about it if not for the vertiginous sleep deprivations. Finer points: delivered at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon and measured in at 4 lbs., 7 oz. and 19".

Added: More photos.

Sunday, April 2, 2006


I thought I should include some sort of baby poem or baby song ("Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be _______"). I decided not to. There will be plenty enough time for that later on.

Until last Sunday we'd kept the news top secret, but now that several friends and family members are in the loop (except E., man, what's up with your cell phone number?, and G. & S., never at home or not answering), I figure, time to let loose to all of blogspace or at the very least those who might be interested in such an event. Many apologies if the news reaches you this way and seems, therefore, impersonal (I wanted to tell you in person!) A baby's on the way, due in early September. Everyone's excited, happy, healthy (and deep wishes for continued health persist...oh, well, yes, and excitement, happiness, too).

I'm not sure how the rest of this announcement is supposed to go. I think it's complete. And to remind you, I've copied in the code for a due-date ticker which will linger for the next several months up top.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Friday's web zen--wordy zen--includes a link to Ask Oxford, the place where Oxford Dictionary aces answer all of the peculiar questions you simply can't go another day without having resolved.  Examples: the opposite of exceed, the word for a word which is another word spelled backwards, and words containing uu. Splitting at the hyperseams with lexical overmuchness, this site is.

My favorite Q&A, however, and the one to which I first returned for practical usage was the name for a group of cats: clowder.  When the Villanova Wildcat contingent rushed the court after knocking of #1 UConn (much to my satisfaction, I'll add) earlier this evening, I had something to call it by.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Within the Hour

In the hour of DST slippage (an hour earlier than it was yesterday at this time), we walked to Barry Park, met a neighbor on the sidewalk and chatted about so many smallfriendly things.  Sunny and 60 in Winter'sacomingacuse.  I took five pictures, this one among them.

Garage Door 2.0

In what's left of the day (roughly and with naps):
1. grading 307 projects
2. tuning final 307 project prompt/guide
3. Denny's PBA Tour NFL
4. notes and response to first chunk of Remediation
5. put down a few organizing notions for the 691 project (but this can wait a week or more, too).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

CFP: VR@RL '06

A few minutes ago I circulated this call to the short set of listservs where I lurk, but it makes sense to officialize it here, too, since I'm helping Alex Reid organize the event. Early indications suggest to me that it's going to be an outstanding event all around.

Below's a teaser; visit the conference site at to read the full call and description.

VR@RL (Virtual Reality in Real Life)
February 24-26, 2006
State University of New York, College at Cortland

Call for participation
200 word proposals
Deadline: November 15, 2005

VR@RL seeks participants interested in investigating the intersection of rhetoric and new media. The conference seeks to provide a forum for scholars working in this emerging area of inquiry, to address common problems in research and teaching, and to uncover fruitful points of connection. Fundamentally, the conference will address new media as it exists now and as it is emerging as an embodied, material concern.

Friday, September 9, 2005

CCC Online

Collin's entry says more about it than I plan to in this short-minute post, but I wanted to mark the day.  The CCCat's out of the bag, so to speak;  CCC Online is officially live, which means you should visit the site and check out the features. And of course, if you have any impressions one way or another, we'd like to hear about them.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ending Foot-mending

The orthopedic doc finally buzzed the cast from Ph.'s right leg this morning.  Fhazzip-a! four passes.  The cast fell aside (a collector's piece because of the congested criss-cross of signatures and that one phone number).  Ph. sprung to his feet.  And except for the easing-back-into-it strain at the Achilles, he's healed.

Thursday, May 5, 2005


Fives.1. Five-five.  P., a friend and colleague at my old U. sent me an email the other day wishing me a happy birthday. Feliz cumpleanos! She told how Smartie, the cat she adopted when we moved away from KC, was doing , and how things were swell (to my relief, not swollen) at old U.  So on and so on. Somewhere in there she showed the date as 05-05-05. 

2. I spent five hours on the fifth floor of SU's Hall of Languages, sitting in on the Writing Program's spring symposium. 

3. At 55 minutes to five, I was in my office, readying to make my way up to the program office where I would collect end-of-semester projects from the drop-box before walking five blocks home.  Five taps on the door.  Five percent of my students this semester wish to turn in a late project.  But it's my birthday; shouldn't I be one doing the wishing?

4. Fifty-five minutes ago, D. said, "The cake will be done in five minutes." (Vanilla w. cream cheese frosting.) This snazzy new leather office chair I got as a gift: five-tined base, five dual-action casters.  And there were five cards (including three e-cards!) from friends, and five cards from family.  I'm not making this up.

5. Donna, whose name, like mine, has five letters, also has a birthday today.  Along with Kenneth Burke, Karl Marx, Ann B. Davis....  In extended, I've linked to a drawing I took five minutes to cobble together the other day of the Burkean dramatistic model.  It looks something like a multi-flavored cake.

[I've date-stamped this entry to maximize the five-ness effect.]

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Snows of Mount Thornden

When the Syracuse City Snow Gauge (shown here; doubles as the municipal pool during summer months) indicated three or four inches of new fluff overnight, we figured a sunny Sunday morning on the precarious, un-groomed slopes of Mount Thornden would lift the February funk.  Plus, with my brother and nephews visiting for three days, we needed to give the house a rest and restore the nerves of landlord and landlord's always-on-edge dog.  To the hill!

Pool and Snow Gauge
Only six inches of base and four inches of fluff--a meager accumulation compared to last winter, they say.

Atop Mount Thornden
View from the top of Mount Thornden, just to the east of SU's campus. 

Here's the full Flickr slideshow from the morning (which includes more than one spill resulting from crooked steering).  The first-run face-dusters were especially thrilling.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Crud Breaker and Other

Foul weather in th'days ahead?  Get this album melting on high volume.


Or Bowie: But the film is a saddening bore
'Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It's about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on


Glimpse of what's coming together in the course I start teaching on Tuesday.
And three I'm taking.

And now I'm going to shoot hoops.

Thursday, January 6, 2005


Aver, a yare.

Cap and corn, auditor, interest and exertion, aim and audience, interest and earnest and outside, inside in inside. Alarm no sun, alarm is thinking, alarming is determination an earth wide moth is something. Price in curving is weeding.  There is an undetermined super division.  There is the percolating bread stuff, the window is thickening. -G.S. | Braque


Monday, November 15, 2004

Push That Button

Dear EWM,

I layered together this trailer (mpg | mov) for the final four weeks of my first semester of the doctoral coursework.  Just ahead, fourBlast weeks.  That's how long it takes the loaders to cart away the blasted dolomite rocked loose in this vid-clip.  Four to five weeks.  Load the crushed rock on the Great Lakes ship-way for steel smelting, roads, anything.  Two thousand tons of carted, ground-up, fresh-water-cooled, loaded, shipped rock.  Quarrying was my grandfather's charge for thirty years at this site--through 1983.  Work the deposit; aggregate. When we were there last summer the operation was grinding something like ten variations of crushed rock.  Pea one, pea one-A.  (Nah, seriously, I don't remember what the bits get called, but none're named RSS.)   

The hyperbolic track is from Sun-Ra. The implications are plain: weeks ahead loaded, dust-clouded. Figure: blast, cart, grind, load-ship. * that button.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004



Ph. brought home an English quiz with a score of 95.  Great.  Just great.  It was a take-home quiz.  

Instructs: On your paper circle the letter of the word whose meaning is unrelated to the other words in each set. [No kidding.]

10. (a) forgotten, (b) imagined, (c) conceived, (d) formed

Context: It's a vocabulary quiz on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."  Ph.'s answer: A. Marked wrong. Normally I wouldn't bring Ph.'s school work here (human-subjects ethics quandary), but in this case, he's looking at me distrustfully when I say that I think it's mistakenly marked wrong.  I could use some consensus here.  What's the answer?


More related (and because I've been horrible about keeping family and KC friends updated since we moved to NY): Ph.'s middle school soccer squad won again tonight, 4-0 over Cortland, lifting their record to 4-5 this season.  They've won four of the last five games, and Ph. has scored goals in each of those five games, accumulating six goals along the way.  I know, where'd he learn to do that? The last two strikes have been direct kicks from 30 yards.

Evening grad seminars have kept me from several of these matches, unfortunately (D.'s able to attend most of them).  And he's not quick to report on the results.  But for the first time ever, he's keeping handwritten notes on the refrigerator schedule--recording W's and L's.  From somewhere, in the last year, the record has started to matter. He's definitely not high and low according to wins and losses; admirably even-tempered about the whole thing.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

C-Fair and Prep

D. insisted I turn off the computer, stow the books, momentarily look away from the huge stack of essays I collected on Friday and get out of the house.  Walk around.

2004 Westcott Cultural Fair, E. Syracuse, NY

So we headed two blocks over to the 2004 Westcott Cultural Fair, a one-day brouha with streetitude, activism, performance. Phenomenally hep.  We could have picked up enough "Bush Must Go" yard signs to winterize the apartment, cover the windows, tile the floor, which is really on my mind b/c the outdoors dipped to 41 F last night, and the indoors weren't far from it. Scarf? And those signs, they're everywhere.  Pleasant relief, So. Platte County (Mo.) with its strict ban on eclecticism this is not.

But we didn't collect any stuff in Westcott, as such.  Instead, we each gulped a cheeseburger (it really was gulpably drippy, greasewet).  I'm back home now:  touching up my Fouctastic handout (PDF) for tomorrow evening's ten minutes on The Order of Things and, too, flipping through the Nature section in Composition in Four Keys for Wednesday, planning a drive to Kinkos and thinking about how I'm going to fit ten hours of work into the six hours I have before bedtime.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Just Step Aside or You Might End Up in a Heap

Orientation's end is in sight, which means a truckload of teaching prep and amping up for all of the firsts next week.  Monday morning, 8:30 a.m., Bowne 116.  That much is sure.  Tomorrow is the Writing Program's Fall Retreat.  Morning kicks off with a keynote from Carol Lipson; later in the day we'll hear from Cheryl Glenn on the Harbrace Handbook among other things, I suppose.

I was hit up today for my Excel expertise, which is to say I'm a reputed spread-sheeter or sheet-spreader.  I/O: No, I don't mind.  But you have 40,000 things to do already.  Only 20,000. I'm sure it's more like 40,000.  Okay.

Make that 39,999.  See, this is the first blog entry from the place I live (home?) since July 30.  I have more to say about the great eco-disaster that is uprooting for a move halfway across the country, leaving, but I'd rather celebrate the re-connection (to Road Runner via Time Warner Cable).  Because it's so happy, have a listen to this.  I might get arrested for putting the entire theme on my blog, but if they take me away, it'll be with a smile on my face, a gleeful peace, and a (no matter good or bad) blog entry freshly posted.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

In Signs We Trust

Sold...more or less.

Signed a contract today.  Closing's set for August 9.  You probably thought the Saint Joseph thing was a gimmick. Can I get a collective sigh of relief (for putting an end to all the house-related entries and for side-stepping imminent financial ruin)?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Go to work, St. Joe

Do your thing, Joseph!We're resorting to witchcraft to get this house to sell.  Legend says a small statuette of Saint Joseph (the Builder, the Worker, etc.), planted upside down and feet toward the road, will expedite the transaction.  I guess it's spun out of the "no room at the Inn" problem.  Need a place to stay?  Try this house.  We looked around for a small figurine a few weeks ago, but didn't find one.  Dismissed it as mere voodoo and superstition, anyway.  But a package arrived yesterday; D's sister came through for us, sending this little guy from Colorado Springs.  Since nothing else is working, I troweled a small hole, positioned him just so, filled it in, and packed it with my heel.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Bursting in Air

We're having a fruit bowl and grilled meat with friends later.  Smoke bombs, carbon snakes, etc.  Maybe a trip to Parkville for the big show, although a perceptive neighbor stopped us when we walked the neighborhood last night and reminded us on the Fourth, it should be called "No Parkville."  Traffic's a pain; fireworks are bombastic.


Happy Fourth!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

On Fathering


Happy Father's Day, Pops!

I hope J. was suggesting that the bottle goes in my mouth, not my ear. And no, that's not my index finger I'm waiving around. (Sorry--no clue who I was giving the bird at <2.) [Idea for photo-posting on Father's Day with gratitude to Krista at Arete]

Monday, June 14, 2004

Swamp Misfits Charming Burst

In the spirit of Chuck's link [via pullquote] to "the [cool] Four Word Film Review" site, here's my take on Shrek II: Greeny Saves Face, Gingerly.  If you liked the first Shrek even a little bit, see this one when you have a chance.  Okay, it's late, probably not showing this late.  Go see it tomorrow.  Or Wednesday.  

As sequels go, it's smarter, riskier--pun after pun, topsy-turvy plays on fairy tale lore, new characters (what's up with the Pinocchio scene?), and just plain fun.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Cinco de Mayo


You have an array of talents from which to choose.  People find you attractive, charismatic and interesting.  You have a strong will and can be very convincing.  Your personal color helps you integrate joy with stability.  Wearing, meditating or surrounding yourself with Kelly Green allows you to honor any phase of life that you are encountering.  It reminds you to place equal value on both your inner development and your outer position in society including professional merits. [color-chooser via cgb]

Provided that Earth Wide Moth ages in perpetuity, there'll be future birthdays to blog.  On this one, my 30th, I'm content to note that I'm flat out exhausted from house refurbishing (two new phone jacks and glued-down carpet today) . If we had put candles on the cake tonight, I would have wished for a picnic with other May Fifthers: Karl Marx, Ann B. Davis, Kenneth Burke.  What would we talk about?  Stuff from this day in history could start us off.  From there I'm sure somebody would think up something to converse on. Or there'd be croquet, just in case.  Stuff that happened on May 5:

1382 - Battle of Beverhoutsveld - population beats drunken army
1862 - French army intervenes in Puebla, Mexico: Cinco de Mayo
1944 - Gandhi freed from prison
1955 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada test site (Teapot Apple)
1958 - US performs atmospheric nuclear test at Enwetak
1969 - 23rd NBA Championship: Boston Celtics beat LA Lakers, 4 games to 3
2000 - Conjunction of Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn & Moon

Friday, April 9, 2004

Nine Fluffed Cats Strutting Blogways

I've added nine categories to Earth Wide Moth.  Wanted to move toward readability and organization.  I just thought about my interests, the entries over the last three months, where I see future entries fitting, then dummied up some fun(ky) categories for breakin' this blog down.  Chunked up, EWM now looks like this:

Media Massage-Dressage - Popular media, politicking, spin-doctoring, manipulations, decorated pony shows and the Twist.
Critical Ethnogeotechnoinfography - Connections to cultural implications of information geography, rhetorically and technologically affected places and the peeps who inhabit them.
Spatialitiespatiality  - Toying with space theory, location, descriptive realities and other stuff.
Composing Anyplace Afar - Computer-mediated distance education, remote academia, mobilities in learning.
Reading Notes - Notes on articles/books/sites I'm reading; connections among texts, etc.
Heteroglossia and Essayism - Free play with theory, essayisms, and uncategorical leftovers.
Kairotic Strain - Whining and bemoaning, complaints and bad kairos [credit to A.C. for this last idea]: entries that might offend, upset, peeve off or otherwise have professional consequences.
Orange - CNY 13244
On Weblogs, On - On Weblogs
*Dry Ogre Chalking - Re: pedagogy.
*Slouching Toward - Down funk, despondency and despair.
*Ground Swell - Upsurges, optimism, prospective, feelin' good change.
*Under a Bushel - Obscurity, innuendo, underhanded views and opinions.

These last four are originals.  I'll keep them around.  I'm not settled on the categories, but I think they do a better job than the few splits I had up for past three months.  All of this was brought on by my curiosity about building aggregation lines (RSS feed) for individual categories in MT.  It's not perfectly clear how I'll use the feeds, but I wanted to see what it looked like, how tough it was to set up.  I was surprised to find it easy; followed the fine instructions available here.  Category-specific RSS was a recent topic in blogs, a new listserv concerned with a blogging SIG at the '05 C's in San Fran. I can imagine it working nicely for research groups in a course weblog.  The cat-specific aggregation could pool related entries; it's easy enough to assign multiple categories to an individual entry, too.  This might be useful in a weblog with numerous student-contributors (in a class of 25, say).

A couple of other Friday notes:  D. is working on her teaching portfolio.  As a final piece of her student teaching, she wanted to piece together a audio-accompanied video slideshow.  I did a nice one--about six minutes long--for our wedding last summer.  Tried another one this fall for the retirement of one of D's co-workers.  That's when the cheap Dazzle converter started screwing up.  When converting the MPEG to VHS, the bridge (DCS200) would lock up, freezing the video in one blue stop-frame.  Fortunately, it was sufficiently dubbed to put the three minutes to use, and the day was saved.  Only now, more than seven months since the last movie-making struggle, I'm staring at this project and thinking how sucky it is to attempt video-making with PC equipment.  It's like chewing broken glass. Maybe worse.  I can't keep track of the number of times the whole cruddy system locks up in a single sitting with the Hollywood app open. The pattern of lock-ups is a real time-hog.

One of my Good Friday errands was a stop at Kmart.  Mainly, I needed a new light bulb for the refrigerator.  The other one fizzled early in the week, so all week we've had no way of telling what's in there.  Food that was once easy to locate has been lost in the shadows.  So it was Kmart for the 40 watt replacement.  Returned home.  Screwed it in ( only takes one blogger to screw in a fridge bulb).  The refrigerator was just as empty and pathetic as it was earlier in the week.  Bowls of taco salad for another night.  Dessert of mini-malted milk eggs (Easter Whoppers)--the best candy of the holiday, if you ask me.

Categorically yours,


Sunday, March 28, 2004

Reason #153: Blogging is Safer than Grill Repair

First signs of spring include firing up the grill and contemplating an oil change and point by point inspection of the lawn mower.  I did both today, firing and contemplating.  The firing was inspired when D. returned from the market with bratwurst; the contemplating was brought on by the incredibly rapid growth of purple-flowered weed sprigs overtaking the lawn.  Creeping bellflowers?  Hell, I don't know what.  But they're tall and pleading to be cut soon.  

The Thermos Millennium gas grill is approaching its fifth birthday.  I spend the better part of Easter Sunday, 1999, with my brother-in-law (well, he wasn't my bro-in-law then, but he is now) matching up sprockets, force-fitting parts and having an altogether bad time of piecing it together.  It's named Millennium, but I don't think it will last more than another year or two, and certainly no more than three.  Just last week I replaced a couple of bolts holding one of the gas-regulator dials on; today, it was the igniter dangling by a wire beneath the grease-caked underbelly.  Tough to get at.  Tough to fix.  The igniter end is basically a spark plug--a ceramic separator creates a space for the friction-generated voltage to arc.  The arc lights the propane.  Burnt meat.  With the igniter end dangling beneath the grill, I wasn't sure what to do.  So I found a spot that looked like it might serve as a shelf to introduce the spark to the gas and propped it there.  But I had doubts that the igniter was working, so I popped the ignite button and absorbed one shock.  15 volts?  20?  It was working; we were well on our way to the first brats of 2004.  Well on our way.

The shock absorption and my reporting of it to you via EWM warrants a bit of explaining.  More than a few academic bloggers I read (more conveniently with the assistance of Mozilla Firefox's Aggreg8, which I'm learning to love) have been questioning the vexed relationship between their weblogs and their scholarship.  I consider myself to be more of an academic fringe-straddler, one whose life is spread out in ways that conflate academic interests with a less neatly intellectualized workaday life.  But I, too, wish for EWM to serve more than a writing habit of convenience, to do more than chronicle day to day ironies, the flush and flex of life.  I like the way the blog becomes a storehouse for contingent issues and ideas; its utility is multifarious: writing habit, public engagement, free-to-explore think space, platform, social forum, experimental lab, diary-journal, unruly zone for discursive play.  All of this will be worth returning to in the years ahead.  I'm sure of it.

You're thinking it was more than 15 volts, eh?  Well, actually, the shock is significant because I plied through 80 pages of Obedience to Authority today, and Stanley Milgram's study was all about the willingness of a subject to expose a learner to voltage-shocks,  escalating with each incorrect answer and commanded by an authoritative experimenter. I don't want to leave behind the idea of agentic shift as a rhetorical event, especially as it manifests through deference to technology in the guise of authority.  My notes are still messy, and I'm just now chomping through the theoretically tastiest one-third of Milgram's book, but I am seeing connections, seeing needs for differentiation and refinement in terms, seeing lots of ways agentic shift can serve as a descriptive apparatus in composition and rhetoric.  [situation is a locus of action, opposition to authority, agentic state, peer rebellion, cybernetics, conscience and tensional system of the individual, authority communicates itself, constancy of authority system, surveillance-panopticon iterations *Bentham/Foucault*, Berlin's noetic field]. I will flesh out those visions here, just as soon as I get my notes in order.  That, too, is what the weblog does for me.  It's ever-present, bringing me to the edge of the reading chair, excited and interested because my mind feels as if it is wrapped in one of those, "I'm blogging this" t-shirts.  The constancy of weblogging potential while reading is invigorating.

This brings me to one other out there prospect for EWM.  In the weeks ahead, I have slotted the return of Cross-Talk in Comp Theory and The Braddock Essays to my reading list (when does a list grow into something too big to call a list?).  Brush-up reads to lubricate(!) the merge into a doctoral program in the fall. So hold me to that; hold me to the promise of bringing notes (even brief summative jottings) from those fine essays into this space.  I know, lubricate sounds smartass, but it reminds me of my big brother who is an adhesives chemist working and living in Detroit.  He called today from his cell phone while driving to Toronto where he was heading to troubleshoot something (likely) to do with robotic arms and glue distribution.  J. and I have a terrific relationship; today he said he called because he had spare weekend minutes.  And I want to come back to that, also--agency in the communicative act, deference to commodified time as it correlates to telephony and telegraphy.  But not now.  The Practice is on the tube.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Books I Didn't Buy On D's Birthday

Wasn't planning to post since it's D's birthday.  We already ate a bit-o-cake. Now the phone's ringing off the hook and The Practice is on commercial break, so I have a spare minute to put one together.  

We did birthday morning at B&N; could've gone to Borders, but, says D., B&N has a better selection of books for kids.  And it's D.'s birthday.  Did I mention that?  Here are the books I didn't buy at B&N (although I handled them, read parts, leafed and leafed, smiled at the idea of purchase):

Simulacra and Simulation - Baudrillard
Cod - Kurlansky
The Social Life of Information - Brown, Duguid

Couldn't justify buying them, not because they're not interesting or because I have too much to read already, but because a move might be on the horizon and, well, books are heavy.  We already have a ton.  Ton-and-a-half?  For the next three months or until the crystal ball crystallizes, it's the library for me.

Another book story: This afternoon in Smithville, Mo., at Stampede's last game (ever?), I spent a few minutes in the second half digging in my coach's bag (you know, pens, pencils, a dry-erase marker board, first aid kit, whistles, note cards scribbled with practice scripts, a binder with birth certificates).  I was rooting around for a copy of the National Federation of State High School Associations Simplified and Illustrated Basketball Rules for 2003-2004. I'm not usually one to fuss about officiating, but today got me riled.  An abomination! I was this close || to book-crossing the unqualified duo, gifting them with the Simplified and Illustrated as one to remember us by in our last game of the season.  Yep.  That bad.  But I refrained, remembered that if they weren't certified officials by now, they probably didn't aspire to be.  And I'd be villainized as one of those coach/parents. And it wouldn't be worth the $4.50 I paid for the small, rule-filled pamphlet.  But that's what was on my mind during a few minutes of the fourth quarter of the last game I might ever coach: doing a book-crossing for the refs with the Simplified and Illustrated.  Maybe I should've. Then again, book-crossings aren't supposed to be mean spirited.  Right?

Friday, March 5, 2004

Math is dead.  Long live math.

Friday evening.  Lugging the end-of-term grading load has rendered me too tired to report on the first fifty pages of Milgram's Obedience to Authority.  I picked up a dusty copy from the library shelf yesterday morning after class.  Found time to read some over coffee this morning.  Collin's entry is helping me think about agentic shift from several different angles. More on that sometime this weekend, I hope.

For now, I just want to share a comment Ph. made when he got home this afternoon.  He and I have been spending late afternoons before D. gets home from student-teaching, working on math.  The latest feat: drilling through multiplying and dividing mixed fractions.  So today he mentioned that they've started a new section--repeating decimals.  He summarized the lesson: "you just put a line over the number to show that it keeps going forever."

Forever?  Wha?!  We traded one of our usual banters where I act surprised by something taught in the school.  It's not a serious, deep, or undercutting skepticism (usually); it's more of a game meant to tease out the lessons, to reinforce the in-school learning.  So I asked him what forever means in mathematical terms.  "If you couldn't use the overline to show that it goes forever, when would it end?  It can't really go on endlessly, can it?"

Ph.: Probably not.
Me: So when do you think a repeating decimal ends?
Ph.:  When math is dead, I guess.
Me:  *nothing to say...long pause*  That's an answer I won't argue against.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Not Just Any Old Community College

In my email, I just got an invite to a local poetry slam organized by a colleague in Social Work. With the invitation, he included a poem from one of the orators at a recent KC slam, Taylor Mali. Rarely am I an aloud-laugher, especially when it's just me and the computer. But this! Advanced warning: it's bit raw. Funny raw, I think. The The Impotence of Proofreading.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Keep it Simple, Specious

Been feverin' all day through web-making, code-playing and course-updating. Today was the deadline for futzing (the single best word said during my trip to NY last weekend!) with spring II courses; I had changes knocked out by noon, since I'm not changing a whole lot this time. Then I got thinking (again) that I needed to spiff up the resource pages for the online courses I've developed. So, because I've been lazy on all other fronts, here's a glimpse at today's boulder-roll, an uphill labor of techrageous love: I can't think of many good reasons why it would be interesting, since it barely has a shape, but it is proof that I didn't just sit around at the computer all day doing nothing. In the shadow of the amount yet-to-be-done, it's as telling as having a look at a snow plow driver lace the boots: there's alotta work ahead. No hurry, though. 'Twas a cinch to meet today's deadline for curricular updates, so the rest can come together over a couple of weeks. (Oh, and if you haven't done the Peanuts quizilla, here's the link. FWIW, I'm Rerun; D.'s Sally. Thanks for the fun link CC et. al.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Interstitial S p a c e s

Pardon the interruption. With this I'm ending the longest break from weblogging since this buggy started rolling in early January. I was flying around the countryside over the weekend, banking through snowclouds and enjoying short layovers in Detroit and Cleveland on the way East. Since I left on Saturday, which, by the way, was highlighted by a short visit with my dad and S. in the Detroit airport, I've really missed blogging--or missed the time for blogging as a way of re-collecting dispersions of thought. And there've been dispersions aplenty--promising ones.

Saturday was, for me, the coldest Lupercalia on record. First off, D. was back home, snug in K.C., but aside from that, the wall unit in Ramada 233 suffered a meltdown. Late at night. What the? Yes. At 2:30 a.m., I woke up to a dingy-smelling PVC smoke. A faint odor, like burnt wiring, perhaps from a nearby room. No! My room. Geez. I felt the wall-mounted heating unit. It was burning up. I had set it to five (out of a possible 12), thinking that it would get my room to between 68-70 degrees for the night. So, before the smoke alarm started its awful hooting, I dialed the front desk and declared my predicament. Room 233. The night manager showed up just after the blaring started--the alarm in my room only was sounding off. He said he could hear it in the hall. Great. It was V-Day night and the loving hour, no less, I thought. So the night manager slid the plastic alarm from the ceiling; meanwhile, I opened the window. Two degrees Fahrenheit. He tugged on the nine-volts, but the screamer was hard-wired--rightly so. Finally, N.M. resorted to rip the blaring alarm from the ceiling. In silence and wonder, we reconciled a bad plan for restoring normalcy to my night. I'd sleep; he'd go back to the desk and write a note for the next day's service person. With windows closed and no heat except my own, I took cover, dreamless. It was, in retrospect, the low-point of the trip, the rest of which was incredibly warm and welcoming.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Searching Jerome Cute

This site's webalizer stats include a record of search strings that, when input to a search engine, rustled Earth Wide Moth from the server and called her name and location into a hit list (last in the list, I'm sure, in Google's 92,800 connects for "Sex in the City rumor" and in Altavista's 45, 135 hits for "Sun alarm benefit"). Because I'm still having fun with this whole venture, I was particularly taken by the collision of querying strings, by the no-look grabs of unknowing users, users who don't know we're here. It's an odd, broad range--indicative of a strained, decentered server-side ethos (the text in the machine, removed): a mix of my writing on EWM and our course-related writing over at the site for EN106. A blaring maelstorm of criss-crossing information-text-flow. So, to celebrate five weeks of weblogging (it was a Tuesday, early January when this began), I concocted a search-string pantoum--a randomization of the 33 search-calls, re-formatted, re-presented, near-poetically. The top search-string, "gunnite," gets to be the title of this playful treat; a treat, BTW, not nearly as good as the Hunter's Stew we slurped for dinner tonight. The poem:

A Weblog Pantoum | Search String Style 

CNN frozen cat
Film Excuse Me Darling
2004 email addresses Jerome Cute
Comments about Jeff Gordon

Film Excuse Me Darling
Sex in the City rumor
Comments about Jeff Gordon
Sun alarm benefit

Sex in the City rumor
Steal drum band downloads
Sun alarm benefit
Real life examples of misunderstanding due to cultures

Steal drum band downloads
Wide moth
Real life examples of misunderstanding due to cultures
Gunnite location

Wide moth
Mohawk tools and weapons
Gunnite location
In which country soccer was invented

Mohawk tools and weapons
Pedagogy and classroom seating arrangements
In which country soccer was invented
William Jewell snow day

Pedagogy and classroom seating arrangements
Different seating arrangments for classrooms
William Jewell snow day
Sex and the City endings

Different seating arrangments for classrooms
Super bowl 38 half time show
Sex and the City endings
Paper find of my divorce at January 312004

Super bowl 38 half time show
Where would i find one of those vibrating football games?
Paper find of my divorce at January 312004
How wide is the Earth?

Where would i find one of those vibrating football games?
How wide is the Earth?
How will sex and the city end?

How will Sex and the City end?
Budwieser Superbowl commercials
Sex and the City winter time
Budwieser Superbowl commercials
Drain pea trap sink

Sex and the City winter time
Relationships dependant
Drain pea trap sink
Autobiographical sketch (outline)

Relationships dependant
Chairs made into toilet seats
Autobiographical sketch (outline)
Classroom arrangements

Chairs made into toilet seats
Church and science throughout the ages
Classroom arrangements
Hide bushel

Church and science throughout the ages
CNN frozen cat
Hide bushel
2004 email addresses Jerome Cute

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Hour of the Button Pusher

Up at 5:00 a.m., straight to work, taught class at 8:40 a.m. All classes were canceled by 11:00 a.m. Too much snow. All administrative offices were officially closed up by 2:00 p.m. So why am I still at work? You probably want an answer. (If you don't, well, it's okay to stop reading here.)

One Clear Path

I do have an answer. There's a women's basketball game. (Ha! delirium.) The team from Oklahoma traveled in last night, bussing in just ahead of the snow storm that blitzed us with eight inches of fresh powder since last night. They got refs, so they can play. It's that simple. As for me, well, I can't justify enlisting your pity for working conditions that I've been complicit in creating. Since I'm not neatly staff, not neatly faculty, I'm still at work. Did have time today to tote my camera through the flurries, push the shutter button enough to glean these images. And toiled--with success--over the code for author images in our class weblog for EN106, which I will reveal soon. Maybe this weekend.

FWIW, Sam's comments yesterday have me thinking about the relationship between explicit standards and grading practices in ed-blogging. I'll turn around an entry on that one of these days.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Digital Repo

Last night's evening news presented a segment on an ignition control device installed in cars sold on credit to "high-risk" consumers. The device was dubbed "digital repo man" in the news clip (which included lots of footage of one-handed fumbling with a phone line connection under the steering wheel). Basically, it works like this: Car-buyer-with-no-credit needs a set of wheels. Salesperson wants desperately to serve the consumer by closing the deal. Line of cars have Digi-repo pre-installed. Deal is settled. Now, each time the consumer starts the car, a keypad-entered code is required, which tells the car that the driver is paid up. With each on-time monthly payment, the car buyer gets a new code--good for the next 30 days. No late payments. While I haven't fully mulled over the consequences of such devices, my first impression is that it adds a layer of complication to common understandings of ownership for products bought on credit. The role of technology in this process interests me, too. The electronic gadget becomes a strict, unwavering control (not unlike in-dash breathalyzers), but the control is tied to economic status, like an ever-present credit report.

I went online looking for more information about the device, the company--Pastime--that makes it, and what other surveillance-like mechanisms, if any, they make. I still haven't found much, even when I search for the company rep cited in the article, Stan Schwarz. Our local news station's web site had a word-for-word copy of this brief piece from Car Not Working? Check To See If You Paid Your Bills. It's some kind of thinly attributed article in "Ask Asa," which, as fully as I can tell, is a team-written advice column on financial matters. The WNBC site posted the article in early December. Here, in the deep, deep recesses of the Midwest, our local news station aired it last night. Which gives me hope that Lord of the Rings: Return of the King will be in local theaters soon!

My searching wasn't without a fruitful discovery. I found this link for a visual thesaurus. I'm not a big thesaurus user, but the visual thesaurus, driven by Thinkmap, is kind of like a fish tank populated by words. The associational glide is oddly seductive, relaxing. Useful, perhaps, for visualizing the fray of connotations detached from contexts.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Sing Cucu Nu

Sumer is icumen in. Well, okay, I'm lying. But it is 56 with sunshine today in KC, and regreening is in the air.

Just received an invite to the 8th Annual Native Vision Sports and Life Skills Camp. It's in Bernalillo, N.M., hosted by the United Pueblo Tribes. The mailer says they expect more than 700 youth from 25 tribes. There's surprisingly little on the net about the camp--a three-day event in mid-June. I helped out at the last two sessions in 2001 and 2002, when it was at the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. In 2002 everyone was hustled out of Whiteriver because of the Rodeo-Chadiski fire (in the news again, recently). We were shuttled back to Phoenix on a school bus--a long winding ride with the Emergency Broadcasting System signal blaring across the radio about evacuations--and the event was considerably disrupted. Last year, the camp didn't happen, but it looks like the NFL Players Association and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health have revitalized the program. Had a few interesting talks there about coordinating literacy ventures with the camp, expanding the life skills side with added dimension.

Normally, I wouldn't carry on about USPS mail, but I'm really happy to be invited back and to see that the program is once again viable. What's more, I'm waiting impatiently for acceptance-rejection letters from a medium-sized list of prospective PhD programs for next fall. The wait is much more enjoyable with the pseudo spring we're having. But it's still a wait.

And the tech-autobiographical sketches have been fun and interesting to read. They're particularly interesting because of the diverse mix of students, which is usual where I teach. Students from Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya, Poland, N. Ireland, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri are in class this semester, and our work is off to an improved start with the zippy classroom.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Excuse me, I just storied myself

To make ready for class today, I went through a few invention exercises. I wanted to mix it up, vary the approaches to show a range of possibilities for essay one: A Tech Autobiographical Sketch. The assignment serves a few purposes, not the least of which are a writing sample and a portrait of students' tech backgrounds, which influence my aims and design for the next several weeks.

The assignment asks students to tell their technological becoming. It's a narrative essay about gadgetry and mechanisms, from old, block-style Legos to one-buttoned joysticks, from coin-op school supply dispensers to cordless phones with auto redial. And my favorite: hand-held football games with red, LED players on both teams, no matter whether it was the Patriots and Panthers or the Lions and Browns (my imagined, dream Superbowl). Red blips on both sides of the ball; a fresh 9-volt battery and a 45 minute school bus ride, one-way; those were the days.

My models for the class, for the essay, included a graphic organizer, a messy map of sorts that starts with a blank sheet of paper and a will to scribble without inhibition, loose clusters of ideas. The second model, even more spontaneous than the first because of its disregard of coherence, was a list of 50. A fit of associations with the perpetual present guided by impulse and only the faint beckoning of the writing prompt. My list (for the tech autobiographical sketch) looked like this:

Boeing 757 to Seattle, Supersonics shirt, Mount St. Helens, Pong with paddles, Frogger, black and white television, Galaga at Pizza Hut, camcorder, C64 programs in basic, [friends who] pirated software, welding and your eyes, Tetris, first broadcast warfare, statistical reports, digital photography, surveillance cameras, exercise equipment, rocket launches, stopwatch, camping with cords, Popular Science, helicopter bike, northern lights, fishing sonar, radar detectors, Sault locks, fax machines, Mouse Trap, Operation w/ glue, Walkman, audio books, Lance Haffner Final Four, Adam computer, tape drive soccer, Rambo knife w/ compass, Tecmo Bowl, breakaway rims, car stereo wiring, magnet games, batteries, race track motors, vibrating football board, UHF/VHF antennae, TV adjust with pliers

I stopped at 44. The inventive scope had me reeling. Could have gone longer, but I had to get on with the third model: a formal outline. Less stimulating, in my view, but important to show, to talk about what purpose it might serve, its relative structured-ness. So I dummied one up on the evolution of photography in my days: slide-projector shows, Polaroids, a costly/priceless Dimage7i, up to Kodak's abandonment of film camera's in Western markets last week.

This assignment, good or bad, was already concocted before I read Galen Strawson's review of Jerome Bruner's book, Making Stories, which I came upon over at Arts & Letters Daily. I haven't read the book, but the review sparked my interest, led me to believe Bruner's latest has parts that would help me think more fully about narrative and its place in composition studies.

This snippet of the review left me with a kind of Myers-Briggs itch, which I'll explain:

Is any of this true? Do we create ourselves? Is the narrativity view a profound and universal insight into the human condition? It's a partial truth at best, true enough for some, completely false for others. There is a deep divide in our species. On one side, the narrators: those who are indeed intensely narrative, self-storying, Homeric, in their sense of life and self, whether they look to the past or the future. On the other side, the non-narrators: those who live life in a fundamentally non-storytelling fashion, who may have little sense of, or interest in, their own history, nor any wish to give their life a certain narrative shape. In between lies the great continuum of mixed cases.

The "deep divide" between compulsive narrators and their counterparts left me wondering whether I've been obtuse in weaving narrative slants into solicitations for essays in undergraduate writing courses. Surely we aren't rigidly fixed along any continuum, are we? My itch comes from the resonant echo of this passage to other sorts of neat social stamping--the sort that rely on gross simplifications to exclude our moods, fluctuations, interanimations and ambiguity. I was told late last week that I'd be part of a committee of three who will meet for six hours next Monday to revise a departmental strategic planning statement. Important work, to be sure. But six hours? Why? Because we're all introverts was the explanation. Well, yeah, in this case, on this project, I'd rather work independently for two hours, quietly, to do the work we'll accomplish in six hours of circular exchanges about how to spend money on this and that. The administration buys into Myers-Briggs typecasting; it's that simple. Once you're an "I" there'll be no doubling back, darling.

But, for me, I rather tend to regard myself as INFP one day, ESTJ the next. Flexible and varied, more so than essential. But then again, maybe I'm just storying myself that way through contrived, never-ending narratives.

Thursday, January 15, 2004


I passed a sizable chunk of the day jockeying with .htaccess setups. After class this morning, a 10:30 meeting, a thermos of coffee, I wracked my brain for quite some time over my own clunky setup of protected access directories. For what? It's embarrassing that I wasted so much time puzzling through something untested, unproven as a boon to my teaching. But there comes a buzz (or, better put, a mesmerizing intrigue) with the problem-solving process in technical matters. And I'm hooked. 

I got it working. Finally set up the .htaccess and .htpassword files with a logout route to trick browsers into "forgetting" the user's password. Never knew how that worked until today. And I'm still not sure I've got it cracked. And I'm almost certain that its value to my students is slight. Which is why I needed to re-center my teaching on questions about what I'm doing it for. For re-centering, I often return to this bit from Roxanne Mountford's essay, "Let Them Experiment: Accommodating Diverse Discourse Practices in Large-Scale Writing Assessment." 

Shirley Brice Heath, citing the philosopher Michel Foucault, writes: "People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does." That is, as teachers and evaluators we often act without considering how our actions affect those we evaluate.

I've taken this out of a rich context on the challenges of inherent biases in large-scale writing assessment; and, while I appreciate Mountford's full essay, an essay I first read a few years ago in the Greater Kansas City Writing Project summer invitational workshop, I find myself returning to this bit because it refreshes me, returns me to trail of wondering what what I do does. Especially after a day of scratching my head over file extensions, permissions, passwords and browser trickery.