A few minutes of piano practice early Sunday evening, audio tracks ordered and cross-slipped (juxtaplunked), Is. cheering me on, encouraging and insisting there is hope for the slowing-old big-handed and tone-deaf flicking ivories through some even-I-can-read-the-notes classics.
A fter a long travel day yesterday, I'm back from WRAB, from Paris, home in Ypsilanti, unpacked and laundering, family gifts dealt, and more or less re-charged from the first decent night's sleep in oh at least a week. In retrospect, I should have been more tired and draggy while in France. Probably some small lift is attributable to laying off vegetarianism for a few days and amping up on proteins. Travel warnings were right: it's tough to avoid meat in Paris.
There's much, much more to say about the trip than I have time for right now. Indeed, I have committed the classic mistake of pinning to-do list item after to-do list item on the week after WRAB (i.e., now) and have quite a backlog to level through this week (TGIWB...[W]inter [B]reak). For now, I only wanted to catch a few soundnotes, earworming auditory takeaways from the trip.
I've tried but could not locate a few things I heard on the Air France flight, though AF makes it a point to publicize their in-flight playlists, so on that basis might look further and listen more closely another day.
F.R. David's "Words" was playing in the eco-shuttle I rode in from Charles De Gaulle to Ampere. More than any other track, it caught on as the trip's anthem, harder and harder set on a loop as I fumbled "je ne comprends pas" each of the four times I was asked by locals (er...Fr. speakers) for directions. Je. ne. compren...here, just listen to this.
And since an 8.5-hour flight in coach ranks both as hell of hells and also as the longest flight I've ever endured, I didn't expect it to be bearable. I escaped six hours by watching three entire movies--Gravity, Jobs, and Captain Phillips--before learning I was seated next to Marcellus Pittman, who was gracious enough to talk a bit about mixing, vinyl and new/old techniques, touring, and so on. Fascinating stuff that not only reminded me about intriguing questions about mixing as a productive method and about Detroit's industrial, techno-feelic scene, but also about Archer Records, about yet underexamined practices and needed work to deepen sonic mix as one of writing's favorite contemporary metaphors, and about my attraction to these sounds, especially when writing. There's something in the beat mechanics that underwrites (or somehow nourishes?) an effective writerly attention structure. For me, at least. To sum it up: 8.5-hour flights are a helluva lot better sitting next to Marcellus Pittman (Discogs).
And this last one, "The Mad Underdog" (or, had I to add a subtitle to resonate with "mad" and "underdog," "Writing Program Apothecary's Dosi") is a bootleg, but after the first few minutes, I'm not sure how you'll resist clicking over to the iTunes store where you can pick it up for less than one euro.
"Comin' Home Baby" because it's EMU's Homecoming today. The Eagles football team enters the noontime kickoff (underway!) versus Ohio U. on a 15-game losing skid. Something tells me EMU has a good enough chance this homecoming of breaking the minor blues pattern that has become known as "the streak," a bad luck stretch of albatrossian proportions. For my part, I will not be attending the game; I will remain warmly ensconced in front of my computer, responding to a series of inquiry memos from 326ers and then preparing for the first of two observed class sessions on the calendar in the week ahead.
M y two Twitter accounts unexpectedly synchronized yesterday, matching in number for the first time ever. Two-hundred forty-three tweets in each. #sotta
Right-o: #sotta is a hashtag for State of the Twitter Accounts. Of course, I realize that hashtags don't help organize blog entries the way they do Twitter updates. So much runs together nowadays.
Their unplanned alignment, though not especially remarkable for everyday people (even Digg overlooked this happening), was just uncanny enough for me to justify taking a step back, a deep breathe and reflective, 24-hour pause. Could be a conductive, insightful occasion, or not. The two accounts resemble fraternal twins. One came first. They have much in common, but they do not quite look alike: different avatars, different personalities, different aliases, different habits of writing and linking.
I keep the older account around because it follows and is in turn followed by a somewhat more collegial and professorial company than the other. The second account is more teacherly; it fills a pedagogical need for the activity streams ENGL328ers write throughout the semester. In other words, the second account is more for orchestration and course-specific guidance.
Two-hundred forty-three tweets: that's nothing. Even multiplied by two, it's in the shallow end of the pool some measure away from Twitter users who have upwards of two thousand entries. So in this, my first half-year of tweeting, I'm still trying to figure out where my own writing and working rhythms blend in with the Twittersphere, whether I'm being (perhaps somewhat willfully) negligent of the accumulative effects of writing not only in a networked platform but in a networked platform with such a boundless temporality as this.
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.
N ow that it's Thursday I'm beginning to feel like I've whiled away the week. I expected to take all week putting an end on Chapter Four, but I lazily splashed the finishing words on it Tuesday--two full days ahead of schedule. The final sentence goes "Need another sentence here." I will come up with the missing sentence before I double the line spacing and print a copy. And then there'll be one more wave of revithargy (a blend of revising and lethargy or drained recomposing) before handing it over.
About whiling away the week: the last two days my work sessions have been split between some tinkering with maps (in Flash of all things) and reading and engaging with a couple of informal responses to a chunk of the diss. Both of these are productive and worthwhile, but for all of the good involved, they are not much like the routine I'm accustomed to. Pum-pum-PUM, pum-pum-TUM. The tempo is different.
And tomorrow!--the Friday before Spring Break--you'd think the Writing Center would be a ghost town and those poor consultants (self-)assigned to work all day would quietly drift around the place, doing whatever they wanted to fill the time. But, no. By Wednesday afternoon, the entire docket was filled--eight appointments coming between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Don't you people rest?
I'd mouse up and change some of what I've written here, but the batteries in the wireless mouse have leaked out their last volt. To them I say, "I can relate."
Over "break": map-tinkering and reading up for Chapter Five (which, with a miracle, I can draft by my birthday for a perfect synchronization of fiveliness in early May), laying to rest article revisions I've been neglecting, reworking piece of Chapter Three for next month's CCCC presentation, and, for kicks, wallowing in NCAA conference tournaments. Should be enough to fend off boredom.
R evisions have been challenging. Having resolved myself to more drafting before squaring with revisions, the commented drafts of my dissertation's introduction and first two chapters tend to taunt me. I haven't figured out how to fit it in, how to make room for it given the other regular paces. I'd been meaning (for a couple of weeks) to get through some of the first-stage directorial comments to those early chapters, mostly because I want them to be ready for the rest of my committee sometime in Marchpril and also because I have at least one other reader who I'm trying to get them ready for. So I took a leap head-long into the "When will I revise?" problem on Saturday, and spent most of the day with it.
The introduction was fairly easy. It's elastic: short, overviewy, and without glaring needs. It was manageable to get through all of the comments, and make appropriate adjustments, leaving aside the summaries of the last two chapters (5, 6) because are yet unwritten. But working through Chapter One was somewhat more daunting; I expected this since it is much thicker than the introduction. I got through all of the superficial stuff, and ended up with a list, indexed by page, of what is left: two placeholder notes (no work required), four easy changes (citation adding, a one-sentence gloss on this or that), seven moderately difficult changes (almost all of which require some re-reading of sources), and one major change (a section that I will probably re-write from scratch with a slightly different--simpler--focus). It is helpful to have the index; but I don't know when I will get to it. Perhaps in Marchpril. Or Mayune. (Ay, clearly, we need a better vocabulary for two-month units).
I am not in panic mode about the demands of revision, the frequency or scope of the changes due (I know because I have not been tempted to add exclamatory emphasis to any of this.). But I still don't know how to work those revisions into what has been, out of necessity, a fairly compacted daily schedule. In this room-for-revision conundrum there lingers a problem of rhythm-breaking, and it's difficult to embrace that challenge when it's been so challenging just to establish a more or less even writing rhythm (the dailiness of dissertating, call it). Perhaps as much as anything, blogging has prepared me for the dailiness, but I still feel somewhat spun-around (i.e., vertigahh!) by the prospect of taking revision very seriously while drafting. To say nothing of other projects needing attention. So maybe if I stack all of it in a tidy pile on the deepest corner of my desk, it will still be there when I get to it in a couple of weeks.
A rundown: looong day and there is much to list.
I can't remember the last time I read a paper newspaper.
Oh yeah, it was this morning. But I mean before that.
Our Lalo subscribes to the Sunday Post-Standard and has not re-routed it since we moved in last July. Every Sunday, some creature of the pre-dawn night hefts the bagged roll of paper near our front stoop. It seems such a waste for us to carry it, on just the second leg of its long trip, straight to the recycling bin. But newspapers are so--what's the word?--slothful. So, over an everything bagel (while skipping the 10:30 UU service because Is. was wide awake from 2 a.m. until 5), I glanced the funnies. The solo game I secretly play with newspaper funnies is to see whether I can read all of them without even cracking a smile. I call the game "Stoic Is Unmoved." If I can (which, sadly, it is quite possible to do on those rare Sundays when I glance the paper at all--ah, I already said that), I win. If I crack a smile, the newspaper wins. I take this very seriously, as it riles the hyper-competitive side of my personality. A showdown: Me versus old media.
This morning, I lost. I lost because Mother Goose and Grimm ran this. That's right. I smiled because sometimes I feel like Grimm, and sometimes I feel like Earl. And I see in this a comment on lots of other stuff: the buried-ness of one's head while dissertating (to the neglect of much too much), the plight of late-comers to Burke's parlor (those who arrive after the parlor has emptied...poor Earl!), the normative temporality of formal education (in today's market, the efficiency model must be called Toyotaist, rather than Fordist), and more.
Go on, read the comic. If you don't smile, forgive me (also remember to score yourself a winner at "Stoic is Unmoved").
I shoveled snow from the driveway four times this weekend. My back just pinched me and said, "Shouldn't that read fourteen?" No, only four. But it will require shoveling again in the morning. The only recompense for this is that I turned grades in on Friday, so I am officially enjoying a "break." Mostly the ongoing snow removals and the third quarter of c. 3 to keep me busy between now and Friday.
J ust listening to a little Modest Mouse, "March Into the Sea" squeaking in these cheap headphones.
Bang your head like a gong
'Cause it's filled with all wrong
Ahaha! Clang, clang, clang!
Who said anything about the dissertation? Well, no, I haven't mentioned it in a while. Many weeks ago I dedicated November to accomplishing two things: 1.) write brush-by (pardon me) revisions to chapters zero (the intro), one, and two and 2.) build the tag clouds for chapter three. November has, as of the 28th, gone half well. By this I mean that I am satisfied enough with the writing to pass it along to my chair at the end of the month, but the cloud making has been slowed by coding PHPrustrations. I built a jumbo heap of good and valid XML, but the PHP is quirky, contains a glitchy formula. Trusted hands are at this very moment pitching in on this problem, and I've decided to press ahead with as much of chapter three as I can in December--despite the absence of cloud formations. For tomorrow and Friday: twenty more pages of chapter two to unpick (on Latour and also on patterning). Clang, clang, clang!
All day long I have been thinking of drawing a Scrape about the bus ride home from campus last night. I played a couple of pick-up games in Archibold after teaching 105 last evening, then hopped aboard the Centro 344 route to South Campus on bus #9966, which, I was disappointed to learn, stunk like a decaying carcass air freshener was placed immediately in front of the blower for the heater. Ah, but the transportation is free, so I shouldn't complain. Clang!
The basketball was as good last night as it has been in the three weeks I've been back at it. Except, after winning two games, I had to duck out because some long-finger-nailed bum slashed my left ring finger and it wouldn't quit bleeding. Didn't matter too much, anyway, considering I was spent. Same ruffians who sliced my tender finger were taking unusual liberties with normal pick-up rules by running in substitutes. They had six and wanted everybody to play. Ever so often they would run off and on, like a line change in hockey. You can imagine what a downer it was to find that a lanky and reckless 6-3 was replacing Short-n-Slow, the cat I'd been happily matched up with for the first five minutes.
I have two or three other things on a short list of stuff to blog about, but none of it is appropriate to tack at the end of this entry. Tomorrow or the day after that.
N o blog entries this week! Yet somehow, even without the oak beams that are my more-or-less-daily entries, the blogosphere did not collapse, did not implode, did not fold in on itself. I count this a miracle.
I've been writing elseblog. Pushing on through a draft. This dissertation is stubborn. It mocks me. It raises a skeptical eyebrow and smirks at these words I feed it, as if to say "They don't make any sense, grasshopper." Heh, gras shopper is right.
105ers turned in first essays and invention portfolios last night. I will read them and write responses this weekend. In last night's session, I was reminded of how much I appreciate the reflective (i.e., house of mirrors) piece that goes at the front of the three-week collected works. Make it a rant, if you must rant. Drum up some meta. Tell me what you want me to do with your writing. Why should these meta pieces be as interesting as the projects? Because they're pulsatile; something raw and honest in them that oftentimes has been tamped out of academic prose in the mill of conventionalism and purported needs--habits of schooling. Not that these are all evil. But there I go, back-peddling, too busy and tired to be pedagogically radical?
Which reminds me: to what extent are wiki textbook projects studium-like? I mean that I was looking at one the other day and thinking how it could only ever be the average effect. Then again, that's the textbook's appeal, isn't it? Textbooks are almost never about singular compositional production.
I self-censored an entry earlier this week--the only other entry of the week. Spotted a couple of frogs on my seven-tenths-of-a-mile walk along Colvin Avenue home from the bus stop late Tuesday. Thought of the un-performative Michigan J. and the snappy Rag. Looked up "One Froggy Evening" on YouTube, and I was having fun. But then I didn't post because I was struck by the uncanny correspondences between that silly cartoon (a commentary on greed, no doubt) and images of 9-11. See for yourself if you don't believe me. "Slide, ride, glide the Michigan..." straight to the cutting room floor.
Netflix sent Waking Life on Tuesday, and I haven't watched it yet.
Wow. Quite a heap of job ads piling up at the wiki.
Shipped an article to a journal this week (the emphatic gesture, after many choppy onmthmonsmonshtths of elliptical writing). And a panel proposal went off to the Rhetoric Society of America, as well. I don't know what on earth will fund RSA. Can and bottle refunds? A baked-goods sale? Auctioning off the collected dissertation Post-It notes on Ebay in late April? Ah, but the '08 RSA is in Seattle, and even though there are no easy or responsible routes from Syracuse to Seattle, we're planning (should the proposal be accepted by the Society) to make a family trip of it.
M aking preparations for the fall, I have posted the syllabus and in-progress schedule for the course I will start teaching later this month. Most of what is posted comes from the shared syllabus for new TAs. I decided to use the shared syllabus because it connects with a lot of the extracurricular programming throughout the fall, it synchs up in explicit ways (demanding very little justification) with the program's goals for this particular course, and it will mean for me just the second time in seven semesters (since Fall '04) that I don't have to prep a course I haven't taught once before (the two WRT205s I taught two years apart were very different).
Yesterday I fused two del.icio.us accounts into one. I set up dnmexams last summer so that I would have a dedicated space for tagging and exploring linkages among my notes entries related to qualifying exams. At a much slower pace, I have continued to post notes to the Dissarray blog (formerly "Exam Sitting"), but the separate del.icio.us account no longer made sense. Reading for exams was relatively contained; reading and notes for the diss--at this stage--feel somewhat more sprawling and dispersed. Plus, it's more convenient to keep just one del.icio.us account and, with it, just one login. I've also switched from subscribing to individual del.icio.us accounts to subscribing to one feed for my entire network. With this switch there has been a marked improvement in the steady flow of materials into the aggregator over the past few weeks.
Finally, in anticipation of a narrow job search in the year ahead, I have been mulling over my web site at the behest of our job seekers group. I'm fairly satisfied with the site and all that it includes, but I would be tremendously appreciative of thoughts anyone is willing to share--recommendations, critical asides, feedback about design, presentation, navigability, and so on. At the next job seekers meeting we will be taking a look at teaching philosophy statements, but I won't be able to attend, so I'd love to hear your reactions to what I say there, too (either in the comments or via email).
T he paces have been slow to moderate. Here are the top ten or so accomplishmabobs from the first few days of break:
(-1-) Filled out my bracket (not too late for you, btw).
(-2-) Revised my selections.
(-3-) Futzed with the XML for two maps I will be sharing at the conference next week.
(-4-) Revised my bracket selections again. One last time! Washington State?
(-5-) Re-read my CCCC paper and changed a couple of things.
(-6-) Avoided eating the Wheat Thins D. brought back from her mini-vacation last weekend.
(-7-) Sent and received a couple hundred emails.
(-8-) Played basketball with Ph.
(-9-) Crabbed at HR about my shabby dental benefits. I was told, more or less, "So sad for you, my rotten-toothed friend!"
(-10-) Read a couple of articles and noted them to the diss blog.
(-11-) Eked out a couple of pages each day toward a viable prospectus draft. Today, like yesterday, I told myself I would stop no matter where I was after I'd reached 600 new
T oday marks the beginning of Spring Break. I can't reliably predict the future, but I have a strong hunch that instead of realizing a sweet harmony between those two fine words, spring and break, the former will far and away outshine the latter in the days to come: Forty-degree temps (finally!) and a heapuva pile of work. I'm not sure any further elaboration is due. In fact, that title right there is pretty well an entry unto itself.