Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Freak Alley - Boise

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day Zero Flaneury

I jetted into Paris earlier today (a skyroad begun in Detroit and continued after a brief layover in NYC) for the Writing Research Across Borders Conference at Paris Ouest La Défense. Time changes meant six hours evaporated as I arrived in Paris at 1 p.m. local time, what felt like 7 a.m. EST. Factoring in that it was a red-eye spent in Air France coach, my body's "felt like" time was even earlier and later: WTF Standard Time. And now it is both 6:30 p.m. local time and 12:30 p.m. back home. Time for supperlunch (no, I won't be asking for supperlunch at a restaurant, unless, maybe that's a Fr. word?)

The conference is fully underway, but I didn't make it to the hotel until 2 p.m., and by then it was clear I would arrive late to the conference's afternoon sessions even if I hoofed (or subwayed...still figuring out how that works) directly to Paris Ouest. Instead I followed what I could on Twitter, unpacked, and figured out the few streets I wanted to follow to go looking for bearings. Fitbit doesn't know we're in Paris, France, so we attempted to walk off some of the jet lag along the 8.4 km mapped here.

View Larger Map

Here are a few of the things I walked past.

L'église de la Madeleine

Alexandre Dumas Monument

And noticed: so much dog shit on the sidewalks; newsstands selling paper publications; two kids playing on top of plastic garbage bins near the park, one stopping to "pay the water bill" publicly; two different passers-by who politely asked me in French for help or directions or if I was having a good day or, truthfully, I have no idea. I tried to say something like, "Pardon, no francais," but neither of them waited the ten minutes it would have taken me to figure out such an elaborate response.

Above all, the brief tour on foot reassured me with an orienting sense that I almost always lack when landing in conference city I haven't been to before. Now that I am clearer about space and direction, I suspect the next several hours will be devoted to re-harmonizing with time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time Travel

Painted Desert's Edge

Another week in the desert would have been nice. Three days wasn't enough even though I spent it well: keeping the time and announcing substitution intervals for 15-minute basketball games, noshing on Veggie Navajo tacos from Tuuvi Cafe, catching up with some of my oldest friends (also best-kept, considering I see them almost every year), and generally just soaking in Native Vision. I played basketball for the first time in eighteen months, first in Thursday's "All-Star Game" and again the next day when Tuba City HS cafeteria lines were so long following the group photo at the football field that rather than wait and wait and wait in the crowd, I took to the gym next door, rebounded for shooters until they invited me to play 2-on-2. Telling time during the camp was its own puzzle: Tuba City doesn't heed daylight savings, while Moenkopi (across the street) does. Suffice it to say that following the paper itinerary or arranging casual meet-ups (e.g., Let's meet at 8) proved confounding. I still don't know what time it was. Lost. And I wasn't alone in this time warp, which was comforting but also added to the confusion. I went for a short run on Saturday morning. Aimed for just three miles round trip, but I turned back after I found myself attempting the third or fourth shoulderless curve along a canyon edge. Nah, not going out making a decision between the grill of an F-150 and a dive down a steep cliff. Such a slow jog, too. New shoes. Hills. Mile-high oxygen. Stopping to remember the views. But I picked up the pace when, on the return trip, Aggressive Alpha of the three scruffy dogs fenced in only by two strands of barbed wire slipped his loose yard and appeared genuinely interested in chewing whichever is the slower of my two legs (or claiming one of my fancy shoes as a new toy). Yeah, I ran faster then, ran into the road a bit, too. Dodged ("Don't make me kick at you!"). And back in the hotel lobby, another time warp: mistimed breakfast, a bus driver asking me and only me if we were going to be ready at 8TubaCity when it was only 8Moenkopi. I might've felt reassured by a nearby wall clock, but there were who cares two of them side-by-side reporting different hours, a bi-temporal crevasse in spacetime.

Back in Phoenix, or Scottsdale, later Saturday watched the Heat top Boston in the ECF, again with friends who, before we witnessed a shouting match at the bar and went our separate ways for the next day's early a.m. flights, reminded me that I have to go back again next year. For being, as always, energized and humbled by the event, I can't wait to go back again next year. And the year after that.

Another week--another hour--in the desert would have been nice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh, Dometer

Last weekend we control-cruised nearly 1,700 miles between Thursday morning and late Sunday night, sojourning into the deep Heartlands to see Ph.'s season-opening soccer match. And these photos provide some version of things, a lazily composed string of photos.

Alma Mater

Park's Mackay Hall.

Powell Gardens

Friday morning we stopped by Powell Gardens next to UMKC. D. reminisced about often spending her most head-clearing lunch hours here during her administrative stint in auxiliary services.

Powell Gardens

More Powell Gardens.

UMKC's New Student Center

By accident we stumbled into the grand opening of UMKC's new student center--an incredible facility whose third-floor veranda looks onto the Plaza and Nelson-Atkins. D.'s former colleagues showed us around: 300-seat movie theater, conference ballroom, 30+ impressive work stations for student organizations, restaurants, etc.

Lies, Lies, Lies

Friday late afternoon Is. fell asleep in the car. To extend her nap, we re-routed and stopped by US Toy where D. loaded up on classroom stuff. After Is. woke up, she and I entered the store, passing time in the puppets aisle and with her trying on Halloween costumes, one of which we eventually settled on.

Zarda BBQball

This is a basketball court in Blue Springs directly behind the Zarda BBQ on MO 7 Highway. Why relevant? I played here a lot in the summer of 1993. Nice to see kids shooting around, as if some from those days never left.

Blue Springs

Railroad Park. Nice enough, although I was thinking on our stroll that perhaps it should be renamed Goose Shit Park.

Julian Field

At the men's soccer match between Park and U. of Sioux Falls. USF netted a pair of corner-sent headers in the first half. Park answered with a goal early in the second half before eventually losing, 3-1. Great to catch a match and see many friends and former colleagues, even if the result was a loss and the post-game mood was somewhat somber.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bike Routes

Biked a few miles through a dense July pudding for lunch with a colleague at Beezy's. Nice place, Beezy's: a zesty tapenade on the Mediterranean Veggie, the only sandwich I've ordered there in, oh I don't know, the last three visits. Biked because D. and Is. have been in Mt. Pleasant area driving around in the Element for the better part of the week--returning in a couple of hours. And biking because we have not yet purchased a second vehicle this summer, though we have promised the loan guarantors at the credit union that we will get to that next week.

No-drip Curb

I secured the bike to this telephone pole behind the restaurant, making sure it was beyond the steady drops falling from a window air conditioner above. While I was inside, it rained--a five minute sprinkle that had evaporated again by the time I was on my way home again. I could not determine whether the bike had gotten wet from the rain, but the AC run-off hadn't touched it.


While biking I set my new smartphone's CardioTrainer app to ping a satellite every so often so I could quantify how far and how slowly I'd traveled. My Tracks and CardioTrainer seem like good options, as the free apps go. Open GPS is okay, too. And I have downloaded RunKeeper, which is apparently calibrated for a few more activity types than any of the others, just in case I want to take my phone skating, downhill skiing, or swimming.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


We took the Empire Service to New York City last week, then strolled around the city for a couple of days as a kind of three-way graduation present to ourselves. D. hadn't been to the city during our five-year stay in NY, having missed the 2006 CCCC and our sprint down to the old Yankees Stadium last year around this time. During this little trip we took the W line from midtown Manhattan down to South Ferry, rode across the harbor and back on the Staten Island Ferry, wandered around Central Park (including the CP Zoo), ate brick-fired pizza at Angelo's, and generally just meandered around and made the most of it. D., Ph., and A. (Ph.'s friend) took in a Broadway show last Wednesday, while Is. and I walked Times Square, hung out in Toys-R-Us, and got ice cream. Ph. and A. spent a couple of hours at the MOMA, too. Thursday, we all took the train back to Syracuse again.

Statue of Liberty

We were caught up in a heavy downpour the first day--not the best way to start things off. But the skies cleared up as we ate, and we still had time for the Statue of Liberty jaunt later that evening.

Central Park

We didn't bring a stroller with us, which meant that D. and I spent a lot of time carrying Is. Not that we mind. But she is getting bigger, and we walked almost everywhere we went. By the end of the trip, my arms were starting to become frozen in the child-perch position.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beware the Red-Ides

Following last night's red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York, here I sit in JFK, awaiting a-w-a-i-t-i-n-g my connecting flight to the travel destination nightmare better known as Syracuse. I only chose this flight on jetBlue because I had a voucher from last year's CCCC in New Orleans. On the way home a year ago I had no choice but to stay over an extra night (put up on the airline's dime at a divey Days Inn). I also accepted a credit for the full value of that trip, good for one year. The short (and miserable) of it is that I've been sitting in JFK since 7 a.m. this morning, holding out for an 11 a.m. hop upstate: home again (for a few more months, anyway). Only: delayed! I'm trying not to look at the monitor over gate G9 because every time I look the staffBlues bump the boarding time ahead another 15 minutes. 12:00 p.m. 12:15 p.m. 12:30 p.m. I'm afraid that if I look again it will roll over to 12:45 p.m.

No, I can't really complain about the free wireless in the fancy new jetBlue terminal. It's nice, very nice. But I can say, plaintive though it it sure to sound, that these hours of waiting are intensely uncomfortable, time slowed to a creeping pace, after flying through the night for the first leg of the return trip.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


A pair of morning excursions: first to Toddler's Tango in Camillus and then south to Beak and Skiff in Lafayette for apple-picking.

Onondaga Hues

On Debbie


Saturday, August 23, 2008


Wednesday we cut away from the usual paces for an afternoon and evening of late-summer lake time at Southwick Beach State Park, an hour north of Syracuse on big, blue Ontario. We caught up with some friends who were in the middle of a two-week stay, camping near the beach. Had turkey burgers--birdgers--and enjoyed a few hours in and on the water, swimming and kayaking--as rejuvenating as anything I've done this fast-fading month.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

'Stache Day

Yankee-loving friends from Michigan arrived at our house on Tuesday; yesterday we got on the highway at an early hour for the drive to the Bronx where we watched from the bleachers as the Yankees eeked out a 2-1 win over the Rays in 10 innings. The first 25,000 fans received complimentary wire moustaches (ones that clip with a wire washer directly onto the narrow bit of nostril-separating flesh) in a promotion of Jason Giambi's final push for All-Star status. If he doesn't get it, it won't be for our lack of enthusiasm: Ph., like the rest of us, put on our 'staches each time he batted, and he drove in the first run of the game in the opening inning.

Ph. Giambi

A rain shower waited to do its thing until the game ended, so we were lucky on that count. Less lucky: Driving into rush hour traffic in a rain show and thus missing the turn onto Jerome Ave. that would have headed us N on I-87; alt. route took us across Macombs Dam Bridge, into Harlem, and eventually back again. If I had any motorist's innocence remaining after the move from KC to Syracuse four years ago that had me riding over curbs and hogging two lanes in the largest available Penske moving truck, it is now gone. Which also means I'd happily (and perhaps with some numbness in my legs lingering from the hours on the road) go again--and drive a few of those miles--if any EWM-reading CNYers are considering such an excursion.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Amusement Park

"Look, no hands" on the Lady Bug, Hershey Park, Pa.

Risk Taker

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Last of the Meses


We're hanging out near Carlisle, Pa., today celebrating Is.'s 23rd month-day, tomorrow celebrating my nephew's seventh birthday with a day at Hershey Park. Later this week, some other local stuff, including Gettysburg on the Fourth.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Camp After Camp

From Tamaya

I've returned from Albuquerque, from three terrific days on the Santa Ana Pueblo on the edge of Bernalillo where I was involved with the 12th annual Native Vision camp. More here. Photo: Eastward from the Hyatt Tamaya, a line of trees along the Rio Grande and, in the distance, Sandia Peak.

In the week ahead, I'll lend a hand at our Writing Program's Tech Camp, a three-day technology intensive workshop for writing teachers, something like a condensed, in-house CIWIC or DMAC, minus the acronyms.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Space Needle, Rainier, Aquarium

Space Needle

I've put a small batch of Seattle photos up on Flickr. Space needle, aquarium, Rainier: typical stuff, except that we're in some of it. Slideshow. The great number of photos of the Westin are a fairly reliable indication of how much time I put in at the conference.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Seattle, More or Less

We managed to travel across the country by plane late last night, landing safely in Sea-Tac around midnight local time. And then the flawed directions from Google Maps (Why south on International Blvd. out of SeaTac?) put us on a minor roundabout, so that along with a slow rental car check out (the antithesis of supersonic, let's say) a hotel check-in, and parking in a garage where all spaces are labeled "compact," we weren't setting heads to pillows until 2:30 a.m. local (i.e., 5:30 a.m. in CNY). Suffering a great soul delay from this--all of the lag and fog-headedness you would expect.

The flight was uneventful except for two small matters. One: Is. was not interested in sleeping, but there were others near us who wanted to rest. Three restless hours, seat kicking, loud rather than quiet voice, and so on. We felt sheepish about the noise and activity until our friend in 8B began to snore with such great violence and volume that we all quietly worried whether he would be okay. Two: in JFK, she championed a cheese-eating contest (and was the only contestant in this private game of indulgence). But there were consequences whose details I won't relay except to say that she over-celebrated with a lot of jumping up and down and that I now understand why JFK always smells a little bit like the throw-up.

Today's upshot: our hotel is two blocks from the Space Needle and also three blocks from a Whole Foods Market, where we ate breakfast and shopped for fruits, milks, and other stuff to sustain our breakfasts for the few days were are here. Nice to have a hotel room with a kitchenette, refridge, and so on. Mid-morning we walked about ten blocks to Pike's Market, browsed a couple of shops, and scaled the 10 or 11 flights of stairs to get down to the Seattle Aquarium where we glanced at fishlife for a couple of hours. Next: back at the hotel for Is.'s nap. When she wakes up in an hour or so we will drive across town to have dinner with my grandparents. Tomorrow, on to the conference.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Power Trip

Before I left for last week's trip to Missouri and back, I told my brother that the deciding factor would be whether I could withstand spending this week as a drained, lethargic puddle of ineffective, unproductive goop. So far, so good.

Ph. and I left for Detroit on Tuesday evening, picked up my brother, then continued through the night so that we would arrive in Kansas City by late morning or early afternoon. That we did.

Fifty-one miles north of Indianapolis, at 3:30 a.m., I drove past a farmer plowing a field in the moonlight. Wondered whether he was up late or up early, an important consideration given that I could not decide whether I was up late or up early. 3:30 a.m. is the precise moment at which nighttime and daytime hinge (forget midnight; it's too early). Soon after I spotted the industrious farmer, I began to count words on billboards that also appear in the tagcloud for my dissertation. I quit that game when I came up on I-465, the loop around Indianapolis, having counted seven.

Of the 98 hours from the time we left Syracuse late Tuesday afternoon until we returned early Saturday evening, 42 were in the car. More than 2,600 miles. Seven states (NY, MI, IN, IL, MO, OH, PA) plus Ontario. I hope never to spend 42 hours in a car over a four-day period again. I don't enjoy driving that much. And this also means that I ate like crap, guzzled caffeinated beverages, and developed countless kinks and aches from the long hum of the road.

Still I was glad we made the trip. It was important for us to be there, even if our stay was only for a day and a half. The funeral was--as all funerals are for me--emotionally intense. My cousins seemed mournful but poised in the memories they shared. About funerals, I have begun to understand them as thickly layered with every other funeral that has come before. In other words, there is a stinging build-up in the return to any funeral home, in lifting the casket of a loved one, in the family-scale socialization of sadness. I mean that it is not a fresh experience but one that is something like a funereal "chronotopic lamination"--a faint-trace sequel bearing out continuations of every similar event ever before it. This is more pronounced, I suppose, when loss is frequent, when family members pass away often enough that reunions and funerals are no longer separate. Maybe not.

As for the work I am trying to feel justified in avoiding, by late May, I aim to 1.) revise and return an article, 2.) have an RSA paper presentation-ready, and 3.) begin giving Ch. 5 its shape. Among the smaller and easier stuff, I have another 5.5 hours to spend this week in the Writing Center before my semester there is complete. Y. has a vet appointment on Thursday. D.'s cell phone is broken. Ph. needs to be fitted for a tuxedo for a mid-May promenade. Tune CCCC proposal. Dentist. Shake this nasty cough I picked up at one of the filthy rest areas along the highway. Tomorrow. All of this and more starting tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Missed Connection, Airbus, Dead Batteries

Quite a few travails since I jumped aboard the airport shuttle on Saturday afternoon and motored away from the annual convention. JetBlue, whose services I'd been gushing about all week, suffered scheduling backups all day Saturday, which meant the JFK-bound flight set to part New Orleans at 6:10 p.m. would not leave until something like 10:10 p.m. The delay inevitably carried forward; the connecting flight from JFK to Syracuse was long gone by the time we offloaded at 1:15 a.m. Nevertheless, I did catch some of the Final Four while in the sky, since JetBlue boasts in-flight satellite TV. Of course, I happened to be sitting in a row where the armrest remotes were haywire--the audio levels would not adjust, so when I plugged in headphones, the sound pumped out at full volume. Rather than fill cabin with game noise, I unplugged and watched KU have its way with UNC silently.

JetBlue generously put up the few of us who'd missed connections in the regal JFK Best Western (I think it doubles as a Days Inn; that's what the sign on the other side of the building said, anyway). To get to the Best Western, you must take the "Air Bus." And to find the Air Bus, you must follow in succession somewhere between 30-40 signs that point you in all directions, up stairways and down ramps, until, eventually, there's the Air Bus. There were so many Air Bus signs between the JetBlue Customer Care desk and the boarding platform, we started to imagine a scenario in which the directional signs were, in fact, the Air Bus itself--a stylishly renamed and, thus, masked, variation of "Walk your butt to the hotel." And Sunday morning, little more than four hours after the day's dust had settled, everyone went back to JFK to complete their trips. I arrived home just twelve hours later than expected--noon instead of midnight.

I thought my travel woes were behind me.

They were not.

This morning I went to the garage to start the Element (which worked perfectly well when I got groceries Sunday afternoon). It wouldn't start. Check engine light. Check battery light. Ah, but we have recently (and cheaply) acquired another car, a teenager's dream jalopy. Went to the house, grabbed the keys, back to the car, tried to start it. Dead battery. That's two vehicles for getting Ph. to school on time; two dead batteries. Thus, he walked (and almost certainly arrived late). There were other dead batteries to speak of on Monday morning, too, though none were as inconveniencing as having both cars out of commission at the same time. At 5:30 a.m., my cell phone started chirping that it was low on juice; a couple of hours later, while I typed a couple of email responses, the AAAs keeping this wireless keyboard in action powered their final volts.

What of it? Well, it's a week that can only get better. As for the cause, I am beginning to believe that my own post-conference exhaustion is infecting any of the electronic devices I encounter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

First Taste

Straightaway off the airplane, I inquired at this hotel's front desk about where, within fairly close proximity, I could get my first meal in New Orleans.

"Palace Cafe. Order the turtle soup."

And so I did, walking just one block from St. Charles Ave. over to Canal Street and stepping in for a light dinner--the soup and a Werlein salad (named after the building where Palace is located) with fried oysters.

That would have been enough--it was ***** good, but with a stroke of coincidence, a couple of my Syracuse colleagues happened to be walking in, so they joined me for dinner, conversation, and so on.

Early tomorrow: down St. Charles Ave. on a photo-errand and then over to the Hilton for--if I am wide-awake and on time--the opening general session and Glenn's keynote.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Anticipatory Lag

I haven't left town in many months. I haven't left Onondaga County since December, when we went with friends on a tree-choosing excursion to a neighboring county. I haven't been outside of New York since last June when I traveled to Phoenix, Ariz. Idle; sitting on my ashcan, working on the dissertation, or something.

But next week, I will board a plane bound for New Orleans via JFK International and commence with a longish (but not growing, I hope) cloud-skipping itinerary for 2008. It looks something like this:

Among these fine destinations, New Orleans and Hershey are the two I haven't visited before. Obviously Louisville is still up in the air because Watson invitations don't come out until May. And then there is a remote possibility that we will be taking to the friendly skies for a visit to K.C. in the fall as Ph. makes applications and visits to colleges. As I look at the list today, it makes me feel a little bit tired. Nothing to do but get on with it, which means I should probably root around in the basement for an appropriate piece of luggage for the bayou.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Buffalo Route

Starting at 8 a.m. this morning, I was behind the wheel of the Element, high-tailing it from St. Clair Shores to Syracuse, north along the construction-jacked I-94 in moon patrol gear, eastward over the Blue Water Bridge into Canadia and then across peninsular Ontario to the southernmost point of the Queen's Highway (QEW) to its termination at the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, N.Y. We'd never crossed at the Peace Bridge before. The lines entering the U.S. were remarkably short and the customs agents fairly friendly despite yet another round of "explain again how the four of you know each other." In the ten or twelve times we've crossed into the U.S., today's brief pause at the Peace Bridge was the shortest by considerable margin, which means we'll try it again next time rather than crossing on the 407 or the 420 at Niagara Falls.

Returning home includes the usual paces: picking up Y. from the boarder (where a toenail was shorn off in a tangle with a screen door...I empathize, of course, given my encounters with hazardous doors), unpacking and laundering, gathering the accumulated mail (electronic and paper), and fetching enough groceries to sustain us for a day or two. I also have a fair amount of time to make up in the online course I'm teaching because I was off grid for more than two days while staying in a room on one end of the Days Inn of Clare, Mich. The rate of data-transfer was deplorably slow, so slow, in fact, that I almost asked Ph. to retrieve a bucket of ice and while doing so check the hallway for any laggardly packets of data. I know the wifi is assumed to be invisible, but the packets move so slowly at the Days Inn that it wouldn't have surprised me one bit to see a few data loitering in the hallway, taking their sweet time. Decent hotel otherwise. Two days off grid plus a few days of driving dials my work pitch over to near crisis mode for Wednesday and Thursday. And then we'll move. So, yeah, that unloading of the luggage is short-lived.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Falls Route

Yesterday we found ways to extend what would ordinarily be a six-and-a-half hour drive from Syracuse to Detroit to a full ten hours. Those extra three-and-a-half hours were filled up with some of the following:

Smooth-going, all in all, but I'll think twice before driving westward during the afternoon and evening hours on a clear-skied summer solstice again.

Here are a few photos, courtesy of Ph.

Niagara on Summer Solstice

American Falls

Bird Watching

Diaper Park

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Splat

Straightaway from the airport, I'm home from Phoenix, from the camp, and from a John F. Red-eye that swooped me overnight from the Pacific zone to the Eastern zone: a warp of seven hours' time in four. Best thing about the 48-minute hop from NYC to Syracuse is that I was on Jet Blue and so caught the Top Chef smackdown (season 1 vs. season 2) on the Direct TV being piped into the seatback in front of me. Another in the category of "best thing:" Jet Blue gives away free wifi in their terminals. So, so sweet of them.

I have answered most emails, opened what USPS mail had piled up over these four days (among the booty, Jeff's book and also Raul Sanchez's), and then answered a phone call. What's this? A real estate agent wishes to show the house? At 12:30 p.m.? Today more than ever before I am tempted to dump the contents of my lugg-age in the middle of the floor, put on my most tattered sweat clothes, and spread out on the couch for a snoring, drooling, lag-alleviating nap whose dreams will whisk me to the other side of this house-showing such that I won't be able to confirm whether or not, in fact, the torturous episode happened at all.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Flew to Phoenix yesterday for the annual camp. Lounged through the better part of yesterday recovering from soul-delay (what Gibson calls it), the effects of same-day cross-continental flight where heavy lag sets in, where there is an inexact slowness in recombining as if after a teleportation. That's because I woke up in Syracuse Sunday morning at 4 a.m. (which is 1 a.m. local time in Ariz.) for a short flight to JFK and then the long flight out here and I didn't rest my head aside from a couple of catnaps until 10:30 p.m. local time. This adds up to a fuzzy dreaminess and now I find it hard to say very quickly which day it is.

Monday. Breakfast in a few minutes, followed by a winding bus ride from the city up to Whiteriver, where we'll run sessions for two-and-a-half days. I'm looking forward to it very much, although there was a somber mood at last night's reception because of what the councilwoman described as the ongoing suicide epidemic which has been especially tragic in this first week after the high school graduation. I don't know much more about it than that right now.

Anyway, I need to pack.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Amtrak Flashbak

More about the events I mentioned yesterday:

When pulled up to the Toledo Amtrak Station--third largest train terminal in the U.S. (said an announcement justifying departure/arrival delays)--I had no idea it was only open from 9 p.m. until 12:30 p.m., seven days a week. When we arrived at the station straightaway from Tony Packo's, it was 7:40 p.m., so there would be a fair amount of waiting around given that my train was scheduled to pass through between 3:30 a.m .and 4 a.m. Waiting, reading. I finished Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous and glanced Rice and Reynolds' Portfolio Teaching pamphlet, which I grabbed from the Bedford table at C&W because Old U. aims to add Portfolio Keeping to their online FYC sequence by September.

Other than the ticketing agent, I was the only person in the station from 9 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. The worst thing about the Toledo station is that the benches are deliberately uncomfortable. High, rounded cushion backs and narrow, slanted bench seats made it impossible to sleep. The second worst thing about the Toledo station is that the channel cannot be changed on any of the three televisions broadcasting CNN Headline News (which, on Sunday night, included at least three full airings of Larry King featuring the whole gang from Dancing with the Stars). The third worst thing: only Pepsi products. Even so, I did enjoy one Dr. Pepper. And the fourth worst thing?

The 2:00 a.m. train to Pittsburgh was delayed for a full hour, to those who would have boarded it at 2:00 a.m. were mulling around. I talked for a while with a retired elementary school teacher from Saginaw who had many concerns about No Child Left Behind and who, for other reasons altogether, waited with her NYC-bound artist-daughter to make sure she wasn't left behind. The late train arrived. Those departing on it went out to the platform; those arriving made way into the station.

Next--ten feet in front of me--a woman in her fifties was walking into the station, wheeling her luggage into the terminal when the floor mat folded under the short wheels of her suitcase, instantaneously creating a tripping hazard of the worst sort: one that could hardly be anticipated. And she fell with alarming force to the floor. We helped her up and over to the nearest bench--the same one I had been sitting on. She would be fine, although she insisted on having the ticketing agent call 9-1-1 and mentioned that her daughter was a lawyer at Toledo U. I won't go into all of the details of our conversation, but because I was already sitting there and had all of my luggage parked by the bench, I was the only one who remained within earshot, near enough to listen to her rail against Amtrak (It's not even raining! and I just want my medical bills paid for! and Did you see what happened?). Living it--perhaps because I've done a poor job of capturing the mood--was somehow more surreal.

Compared to the trip and fall, most of the other incidents were minor. In Buffalo, a mass of passengers crowded onto the train and there was a tussle between a couple of folks in front of me over who would have the window seat. Nothing major. I will take the train again, but I can't say that I have any immediate plans to do so. For the $57 bucks I spent, I might not have been able to drive a car from Toledo to Syracuse. And all of the flights, besides costing several times more and piling on one or more layovers, would've taken the same amount of time as Monday's eight-hour train ride.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I returned to Syracuse earlier today after a long weekend in Detroit for Computers and Writing. Getting to Motown on Thursday was a cinch, but getting home again was eventful (also it was, in the end, safe)--for reasons that have nothing to do with loading up on Tony Packo's hot dogs, deep fried pickles, and chicken chili before heading to the Toledo Amtrak station. I'll have more to say about the eventfulness tomorrow, once I've had the chance to unpack and watch the Heroes finale (while flipping back to the Pistons-Cavs).

This hippo from yesterday's visit to the Toledo Zoo does pretty well to depict the way I'm feeling after a looong night-into-day's travel on the Lake Shore Limited.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Empirical Views

Here are a few photos from the Empire State Building:

NY Harbor

Ph. Observation Deck


Conference Notes

Here are the highs and lows of the first full day (for me) of the conference in NYC:

Friday, December 22, 2006

To San Diego

I'd probably be a whole lot more likely to blog these days if not for the fact that my PC is in the shop. I've been working with a stylish little Sony VGN-S150 for just over two years, and on the 13th, the day before sitting my first minor exam, the hard drive up and called it quits (one last cyberkinetic protest of its overuse). Fortunately I had everything backed up; nothing important was lost. But the laptop isn't under warranty. And there just isn't enough change in my pockets for a new PC, so I loaded it into a box and shipped it to Sony's San Diego repair facility--exactly two years to the day after I sent it off for repairs the last time. In Dec. '04, it was a manufacturer's problem with the display. It was the second time I'd returned it for its glitchy screen, but at least it was under warranty, so the headache was only the time without the thing. This time around, it's time without the thing and unforeseen expense--three hundred plus chips to be approximate. Still worse is that they can't (or won't) recoup anything from the hard drive, so I have to reinstall software, customize apps, and so on. Not exactly what I wanted for the holidays, but not exactly something I can go without at this point, either.

Obviously, I'm making do, and stealing moments on D.'s desktop, just like I did for my last qualifying exam. Could be worse (the truism always good for a lift, no?).

I'm tempted to gripe about Sony and to lambaste their confused service, but that will have to wait until I get the laptop back, if I bother with it at all. Products fail, of course, and I suppose it's just a little bit more disappointing when expensive products fail before one would reasonably expect them to and when, on top of that, the manufacturer's systems for supporting repair/recovery are abominable. So bah, Sony. Bah. How's that for showing restraint?

Other than crabbing about the effing laptop, I'm just lolling around, running errands, reintroducing myself to the family I've so regrettably neglected throughout the exam stretch, reading McCloud's Making Comics, and taking in the peculiar cool-down of post-exam repatriation.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Out of the Element

Honda Element, I mean. Because we spent the past few days funeral-traveling to Muskegon, Mich., and back again, what thin and shaky rhythms I had drummed up in September are dispersed to the ether. Only a moment ago, I flipped the wall calendar to October. New game?

Whose funeral? Hard to explain because the English terms for family are too categorically neat and uncomplicated. Someone who I'd describe as a compadre: the kind of adoptive kin who generously fold you into their family without any official record or obligation as such. At 54, after battling lung and brain cancer for three years, R. finally succumbed to it. No less stinging for the anticipation of it, however. And because D. was especially close to the family, it wasn't a difficult decision to travel.

Coming from CNY, this meant three consecutive days in the Element, each with eight hours on the road. First, on Friday, we motored to Detroit, unloaded at my brother's, and stayed the night. Saturday we left for Muskegon. Made the drive to the funeral, interment, and luncheon, then hop-scotched across the middle of the lower peninsula to showcase Is. for all the folks we know. We were back to Detroit by 1 a.m. on Sunday. Only for a moment was I concerned about cruising the Walter P. Reuther in the early morning hours with NY plates after the Tigers'd finished thumping the Spendkees. And later Sunday, after sleeping, brunch, and more visiting at my brother's, we circled back to Syracuse, speeding across Ontario for the second time in three days. Everything was fine on the trip besides sitting in line at the Niagara border for two solid hours. Throughout the trip, Is. was sweetly zonked when we were rolling (even while quaking over the moon-crater potholes along I-94) . But crawling along with the border slow-down tested her, and all of us, mightily.

Anyway, home again. And relieved to be out of the Element.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Oneonta and Back

After twenty minutes on the road, I realized that the return trip from Oneonta to Syracuse late this afternoon was the longest stretch I've driven alone in over two years. Yeah. Can you believe it? One hundred and fifteen miles, half of which are like a labyrinthine winder through the curvaceous NY countryside (I still love that scene from Peewee's Big Adventure). Other half? The I-90 thru-way.

Ph. and I drove to Baseball Village this morning to watch a game. My twelve-year-old cousin and his team from the Kansas City area played in the quarterfinals against some team from San Diego. It was a terrific game, other than the final score favoring the kids from California, 7-5. After lunch with my aunt and uncle, I drove back to Syracuse (for D. and me the last birthing class was tonight; it included an entry-worthy tour of the hospital). Ph. stayed back in Oneonta to check out the Soccer Hall of Fame and hang out with family.

But on the drive, I was suddenly very bored. I had the iPod jacked into the Element's auxiliary input and shuffling through my so-so music collection. Bored. And I also got out the camera and humored myself with a bit of photodriving. Except for the extremely curvy stretches, it's relatively safe. Okay, well, safer than talking on a cell phone.

Mohawk Valley


Here's one at the fields this morning:

Baseball Village

And from the Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame

Friday, June 9, 2006


I'm finally settled in after spending four days in the dry and dusty southwest. I really couldn't complain about the heat, though, given that basketball, of the five sports represented at the camp, occupied the air-conditioned community center. Four days of +100 temps in Arizona, and I didn't use a drop of sunscreen. Oh, how on searing-hot days I love basketball's indoorness.

This was the fifth year I attended the camp. It was scheduled for a spot outside of Tulsa, Okla., and at the last minute, finding that the facilities there would be yet under construction and not quite finished, the people from Johns Hopkins reverted to a familiar site: Whiteriver. The camp was held in Whiteriver in '00, '01 (my first year), and '02. In '02, we left early, licked out of town by the curling flame-tongues of the Rodeo-Chadiski fire that burned hundreds of acres of Ponderosa pine forest that year. The evacuation meant a financial setback for the organizers, too, so the camp didn't make in '03. In '04 and '05, it took place in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque.

Because of the juggled sites, the numbers were slightly down. Twelve of us ran the basketball arm of the camp with just under 100 campers, considerably fewer than the 250 basketballers we organized and worked out a year ago in N.M. Most of the kids were local or from N.M. and Oklahoma. And without hesitation I'd regard this year's bunch as one of the best we've had--congenial, hard-working, there to learn about basketball. The life skills portion of the camp was stronger this year, too. Pairs of us would break off from the central venue and take groups of forty to various workshops on leadership (I was in on this one), on making dream catchers, and on (the severe perils of) driving under the influence. The leadership session lasted 90 minutes. It began with a brief talkaround on qualities of leaders and exemplary figures. We all introduced ourselves and then played games: Sit back-to-back with a partner and stand up using each other for leverage. Same in groups of four. In a group of sixteen, make a circle, lock hands, then unravel yourselves. And, with a small balloon tied around your ankle, try to be the last one standing while eliminating everyone else with bursts of stomping-to-pop. I was terrible at this last event. Those who could hop one-legged for the longest outlasted the rest of us quite easily.

I suppose there's a lot more to be said about the camp: meeting elders, catching up with friends from previous years and former colleagues from alma mater, seeing some of the natural marvels of the desert southwest, spending time in the gym just shooting the ball with people who love to do the same. I also had a fascinating conversation at a reception on Saturday evening with the superintendent of schools. I'm forgetting some stuff, and leaving some other stuff out. The photos fill in some of what's missing.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006


We snaked back to Phoenix from Whiteriver this afternoon, after a morning of sports clinics and closing ceremonies for this year's camp.  I had the chance to get a few pictures with new friends, and on the return trip we pulled over at the winding Whiteriver canyon to pose with old friends. Then, after dropping those with evening flights at the airport, a few of us came back to the Scottsdale Chaparral Suites T. and I walked over to the Fashion Square Mall through the dust storm, at one point ducking into a nearby hotel lobby where folks were gathered for a conference on hydrogen plants.  My sense of time has been severely disturbed: been adding and subtracting three-hour blocks to make sense of how tired and refreshed I should feel.  In a few more hours, I'll get back on a course for home, via Chicago. 

More on the camp just as soon as I can get to it.

Friday, June 2, 2006


Tomorrow, Phoenix.  Which also happens to mean seven hours of travel.  And then on Sunday, a winding bus ride here (I won't say anything about the site's design because they advertise free wireless.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

CCCC Chicago

Vanishing Point

I snuck away from the conference hotel yesterday afternoon to grab a few photos at the lakefront--one of the many positives to attending a conference in downtown Chicago this week. It was sunny and 45F, perfect for a brisk stroll along the lakeshore.

Initial impressions of the conference: 1. Smooth travels, after de-icing in Syracuse. 2. Can't get a cell phone signal in the hotel. 3. The "high" speed internet connection rung up at $10 per day. nd cld nly gt ntrmttnt cnnctvty ystrdy ftrnn. I think I could count the baud rate on one hand a few times...or deliver the data packets by passenger pigeon faster than they travelled through the wires. By "high speed," Hilton, do you really mean, "Hi, Speed" (bc you're so happy to see Speed when it visits)? No, you're right, I really don't need to spend much time with the internets in the days ahead. 4. Good food, great company. And that, of course, makes the conference conferentially satisfying.

Enough. The list will grow, as will the photo set. I'm going to grab something to eat, attend the keynote address and gear up for the talk about CCC Online later this afternoon.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Michigan Circuit

We're safely home--and overfilled with takeout--after our loop through lower Michigan.  Sunday we drove from Syracuse to Port Huron (across foggy Ontario) then north through Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland, and west to Mt. Pleasant.  There we stopped in with D.'s family for two nights, caught up with a couple of old friends, played a few hands of euchre, watched Herbie: Fully Loaded with nieces and nephews, etc. Tuesday we drove to Muskegon for an afternoon with friends. We left again in the evening, passing through Grand Rapids and Lansing as we headed for my brother's place in the Detroit burbs. Three days there: three hours riding around with him to drop off parts at Sterling Stamping, three times more sweets than I should've eaten, three games of Clue (Simpsons Edition...won one, Marge in the Kwik-E-Mart with the poisoned donut). Unfortunately, D.'s got a case of the winter yuck. But we had such good travels today (besides the hour-long line at the border station north of Niagara) that I have a blister on my thumb. That's a first. Anyway, 1,200 miles. Five days. And home.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

State Fair

Best of the NY State Fair: Fried Twinkie.

Nature's Mistakes...Oddity

Worst of the NY State Fair: The house of small animals (all crap and caged misery). In case you didn't make it to your own local fair this afternoon, here's a photo-set and a slideshow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

From This Point On

What started with making a few notes last night for an informal talk I have coming up next week unraveled into a what'sit: #FFFF00 Path. I was overcome by the impulse; you know, the grab-a-camera work-avoiding impulse lurking beneath the surface of practically everything in late August.

Pre-apologies: if you select the raw version, you're going to hear explicit lyrics. And for both varieties: herky-jerky digivid, overall file size and download time. Sorry about that. (I'll do better not to commit so many transgressions in one entry).

Added: Let me know if you find anything glitchy with the embeded mpeg, okay? It's coming up quirky in Mozilla.

Links directly to the mpeg files: clean | less so.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


We day-tripped around Central New York on Tuesday.  Starting south on I-81, wound onto state highways through Ithaca and Watkins Glen, then north on Hwy. 14 before coming back to Syracuse on I-90.

  I'd considered heading over to Watkins Glen for biking when D. and Ph. were in Kenya, but lo and behold, I was rained out.  It was a whim to check out Watkins Glen, but it's honestly it's home to of the most amazing state parks I've ever seen. The park features a 1.5 mile trail graded over 600 vertical feet of shale (thin and flaky, right?) cliffs, pools and waterfalls. We hiked down the gorge and back in about three hours:  longer on the way down for ogling and photos and about 30 minutes on the return trip. 

Ithaca Falls

Montour Falls

Watkins Glen

At Watkins Glen, we took 409 off of Hwy. 14 and started the walk from the north entrance (this was suggested by the helpful attendant at the south entrance).  By entering this way, our down-and-back was against the intermittant walking traffic of those who parked in town and started up the gorge.  There are a couple of ways to come in, but I think we did it well (although ending with the upward climb might not suit some). Incidents on the day-long tour included a non-turn in Dryden (and an accidental but not alarming alt. route to Ithaca as a result), photos at Ithaca Falls, Montour Falls and Watkins Glen, and ice cream in Dresden.  We also passed by the thousand tiny wineries along Hwy. 14.  Might be nice to return to the area with a better plan to stop in for the wine tastings or something on or next to one of the Finger Lakes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005



I'm safely in Albuquerque, even if the alarm clock didn't go off at 5:00 a.m. as programmed and even if, upon arrival here in the southwest, my cell phone lapsed into a spazmodacular fit of non-connectivity. Technically, the alarm clock did go off this morning, but the speakers didn't emit any sound. D. popped up at 5:35 a.m. to ask me if I meant to be sleeping in. Yeah. Didn't mean it. And the alarm clock is close to twenty years old. Time to make it to the airport by 6:00 a.m. for five hours of flying across the country?

I made the flight, thank goodness (who would've guessed we only live eight minutes from Hancock International when all the traffic lights sync green?). In Atlanta, delayed an hour. The Delta rep explained that service crews were replacing seat cushions, but I didn't get the rest of the story.

I know this is a lame, mad-dash entry. Best I could do. Plus, I'm keen on two things: in-flight photos and blogging the Native Vision camp. (I also wrote a long entry on genre on the plane; it can wait).

About the cell phone: I dialed D. from a pay phone. Asked her to call my cell (which was refusing to reset, just cycling on "Calling Voicemail"). Much to my relief, it snapped out of it, and I was able to call for the bus ride to the hotel.

Caught up with several colleagues and friends from my former U. this evening. The camp officially starts tomorrow. At 8:00 a.m. we're heading to the San Felipe Pueblo. After that we'll be at Bernallilo H.S. for the opening ceremony. This is the ninth year for the camp. They announced an anticipated record attendance of 750 kids this time. Considering that sixteen of us will work with about 300 kids in three gyms for basketball clinics and that the first three hour session starts tomorrow afternoon--I'd better get to sleep.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cool Southwest

I'll say it because it's probably never been said before: I'm looking forward to a trip later this week from Syracuse to Albuquerque for a break from the heat.  Of course, the idling Central New York hot spell (record highs, pollen-dust haze, and hellacious discomfort of everything's sweat-tacky) is supposed to drift off just about the time I board the jetliner.

Pretty much unrelated: Ph. is hard-casted to the knee for the next two weeks.  After that, no rehab.  To get it back to kicker's strength, the doc recommended power-walking (only for the two-week window after the cast's off).

Saturday, April 16, 2005


SUNY-Albany: Torch?
Originally uploaded by ewidem.
Just home from the Humanities and Technosciences Conference at SUNY-Albany. I'll try to say more later on, but until then, these are most of the photos. We pulled an over and back, so it was an early morning, and I'm spent from the anticipatory buildup, the paper-giving rush, and the slow fade of energy that follows. I haven't decided yet what I'll post from my talk--notes, text, podcast, slideshow. Yeah.

And I think D., Ph. and I are going to head across the park, take in an evening performance of Caryl Churchill's Fen in the Schine Underground on campus. Read Fen seven years ago in my first MA seminar; wrote a fine little paper called "Val's Fifty-Six Pounds: Fashioning a 'Congenial Environs' in Fen." If all goes as planned, I'll have something to say about that later, too. And if not, it just means that I'm busy writing another paper, piling through the stack of reading for the upcoming week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Re United

United Airlines finally (finally!) delivered my lost/found bag last night at 11:15 p.m., after nearly 72 hours on "priority search" status.  They called around 8:30 to tell me it'd be brought to the door no later than ten o'clock.  I'm not the first to bemoan UA, but the service and responsiveness over the past few days has been deplorable.  Lesson learned is never ever again to use Chicago as a connecting hub on United if I can avoid it.  And so I'm unpacking, laundering, and so on. If you've put off unloading your bags as a form of protest or as a gesture of empathetic collegiality, friendship or whatever, you can go ahead and unpack, put your stuff back in its rightful place.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Standing By in O'Hare

A mechanical disturbance in the aircraft scheduled to handle my connecting flight Saturday night derailed my one-hop progress from San Francisco to Syracuse and instead left me sitting in Chicago's O'Hare for the better part of the past twenty-four hours.  Initially, United Airlines delayed my connection to Syracuse from 8:55 p.m. CST to 9:30 p.m. CST, then re-delayed until 11:00 p.m., then cancelled altogether.  Impatiently and inexpertly, the cranky customer service staff strained against their own wishes to cut out for Saturday night plans (expressed again and again via cell phone calls while servicing the long line at snail's pace) to accommodate us one by one with obligatory apologies, $14 worth of food vouchers (not to be used on alcohol, but what difference would it make?) and shuttles to area hotels where folks would lodge for the night.  I was awarded a pass-card to the Doubletree in nearby Des Plaines, Ill.  After riding the shuttle from O'Hare to the hotel, freezing the whole way because it was 35 F and my jacket was stowed away in my luggage (which they said they had to keep at the airport), the Doubletree checked in another long line of stranded travelers, heartening everyone, albeit unsuccessfully in my case, with warm chocolate chip cookies.  It was 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night. I skipped the cookie and the line; gulped a quick MGD in the empty hotel bar instead, wishing silently it would induce restfulness. 

The best United Airlines could do last night was to switch me to stand-by status for the six flights from Chicago to Syracuse today.  I took a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call, hopped back on the shuttle (sans change of clothes, toothbrush, etc.), and returned to the airport in time to miss the cut on the 6:40 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. flights home.  No seats were available for me; I was 14th on the waiting list for already-full flights. So I went to the customer service line, considering whether to invoke a sugar rhetoric or a vitriolic rhetoric, then waited for a half hour behind an Oswego State student who sobbed as she pleaded with the agent for some kind of solution to her bind--a bind much like my own.  All six flights to Syracuse today were oversold; for a guaranteed seat, the soonest flight would be Monday at 1:25 p.m. The agent suggested flying into a nearby airport; the same option last night, however, was qualified with the condition of paying--ourselves--for a rental car to complete the final leg of the trip.  But today, probably because of a greater force of frustration exerted by smelly, tired, irritated customers on the airline staff, the zone manager offered me a 5:55 p.m. flight into Rochester along with a voucher for a taxi to run me the 79 miles from there to Syracuse's Hancock International where I could pick up my bag and complete the trip by calling D. for a drive home from the airport.  The best of bad options, so I took it.  And although I'm missing a cake and ice cream social for Ph.'s 14th birthday (actual b'day is tomorrow), and missing his Sunday afternoon soccer match, and spending yet another day away on this exhaustion-making trip (due to a mix of lag and overstimulation, not more than five hours of sleep any night in the last three tries), a call to my older brother J.--who travels all the time--reminded me that 24 hours in O'Hare beats the hell out of plummeting headlong into Lake Michigan in some clunky jet-plane.  And the $14 of food vouchers--11-plus of which were swiftly spent up on an airport breakfast--is something. And more than enough time for reading Vygotsky so I can lead a class discussion in seminar Tuesday morning.  Bright spots?  Not so many.

I liked to think I could fill the day by watching a few basketball games in one of the airport bars or that I could drop $10 on a day-long wifi session.  Ten hours with basketball and blogging would have made O'Hare almost tolerable.  But have you been in O'Hare on a Sunday in mid-March?  Stupid crowded.  And I've asked four different agents about wifi and they've pointed me to Laptop Lane in another concourse--a place I checked out only to find the Lane wants $.65 per minute for sitting in an Ethernet-connected office-closet.  Wifi?  No luck.  I might've walked three or four miles around O'Hare, tried five or six different not-so-hot spots, pried the agents for expertise, prayed to the airline gods whose Wrath of O'Hare I'm enduring, and finally quit.  No basketball, except a few walk-by glimpses, and no wifi.  Just tired-reading Vygotsky and wishing for a nap (why can't I sleep with this un-padded armrest jamming my ribs?) and listening over and over and over again to CNN Headline News piping into my site between the "last call for Moline" and "final boarding call for Philadelphia" who can tell which is interrupting which?

So I have a thick stack of folded sheets with miscellaneous CCCC notes I thought I'd have the time and concentration to give to coherence today, and I'm overdue now to respond to emails and reground myself for the return from spring break.  This is my excuse and my decompression.  It's the best I could do under the duress of a few unfortunate conditions.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

How to Tour Philadelphia


1. Find somebody with a camera, touring.

2.  Imitate.


I didn't stand in Balboa's foot-steps exactly.  Face-forward, this is what the city-scape looks like today.  A few other pics are posted to Flickr.  Rest of the weekend: behind on reading and pheeling Phila-drained-phia.

Friday, October 29, 2004

CNY Conference

Blog's been nagging me for an entry.  Okay, so it's Friday afternoon.  I picked up 37 seven-page essays with invention portfolios this morning. (Mercy Closeme! Quite a stack.) And after reading yet another 100 pages in Lakoff's Moral Politics this afternoon, I'm worn down tired. Damn near too tired to climb in the Element and zip south for VV's talk in Cortland at the CNY Conference on Language and Literature this evening at 7:30 p.m. Key-note. For illustration's sake, the photo right shows just how close I am to not going. But for the open-ness of a still narrow margin.  I'll try to blog a few notes about it later, provided I can find Corey Union. 

The theme for the conference is "Haunted by the Future: The Academy's Coming Community."  No better way to convene Hallowe'en weekend.

Friday, July 30, 2004


In the morning, we'll be loading the buggy and driving toward Michigan where we'll spend a week playing euchre, dangling our toes in Lake Huron, and sipping cans of Miller Genuine Draft with family.  It's not a reunion, exactly, because the Mueller side of the family has never organized such things until now.  We'll stop for a night's rest in Sheboygan, Wisc., visit with bunches of extended family, fuel up, then finish the drive on Sunday with the Seattlers who are flying into Milwaukee before turning north along the lake shore.

From Drummond Island, we're tripping to Mt. Pleasant and Muskegon, then back to Kansas City where, if we hold up, we'll load a truck and drive another 18 hours to Syracuse.  Altogether...3,093 miles of driving in the next two weeks. Sad to say, I expect to be mostly disconnected for the next two weeks.  I called a few places on the island and found one spot--North Haven Rentals and Gifts--with a leased-access dial-up connection.  c15 per minute.  No wifi?  What kind of uncivilized place is this?!  How will I keep my blog?  A blogger's worst fear: seclusion (granted, though, I won't be secluded in a strict sense, since there will be family).

No telling whether I'll manage to find a connection or whether I'll have time to write an entry in the next two weeks.  The land line (and DSL connections) are already scheduled for shutoff; this computer--the desktop--will be in a plastic bin soon.  And sp&m will probably stink up this joint; ignore that.  On this vacation (before lugging all the boxes and bins), I'll try to be patient, distract myself from the e-w(m)ithdrawals by reading, scour the stuff I'll be teaching from in the fall, veg.  Then I'll return, and this brief *pause* will be off the bottom of the page in no time.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Phase Transitions

"Had the Soviet security apparatus decided [to retain Lev Landau in Moscow's Lubyanka prison in 1989], physics today would be very different. Landau explained [Pyotr] Kapitsa's discovery within a few months, and over the next three decades left his mark on virtually every area of physics, from astrophysics and cosmology to the study of magnetic materials.  Landau also invented a revolutionary new theory of phase transitions, a theory of how substances of all kinds change their forms" (158).Phase Transitions

Stole away several pages of Mark Buchanan's Nexus on the flights today from KC to Detroit to Syracuse.  Once in town, D. and I checked out an apartment, four houses, and, after a delectable dinner on Marshall Street, drove around a bit more until it was too dark to see.

I'm tired and scattered-feeling, but I wanted to post a few notes about Landau while I was thinking of it.  According to one of Buchanan's end notes, "Landau's explanation [of Kapitsa's discovery?] later won him a Nobel Prize.  He showed how the laws of quantum theory turn liquid helium at low temperatures into 'superfluid,' a bizarre new liquid form of matter that lacks any trace of internal friction.  A superfluid set swirling in a cup will swirl forever, never coming to a rest." 

Buchanan builds up to this through a snaking series of segments on ecosystems, networks and organic structures.  Buchanan's explanation of the molecular phases of water and Landau's superfluid state strike me as incredibly useful for retooling metaphors of ideational flow--thought, distributed.  Next to his section on Tipping Points called "How Ideas Acquire People," Buchanan has me thinking that systems lacking "any trace of internal friction" are so delicate that a superfluid state (superfluousness?) cannot prosper except under artificially controlled conditions. Only with total control and subjectivity is sustained superfluidity possible.  (Get your glue stick; this is going to need some holding together.)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Bernalillo, N.M.

Back from New Mexico last night; I haven't had much time for blogging.  Here are a few photos from the camp and a story from the Albuquerque Journal about what I've been doing for the past four days. Considered picking up this t-shirt from the gift shop.

The folks putting on the camp.  We had about 300 kids attend this year.

T. and E. with three of the young dancers who performed at closing ceremonies.

The mountain at the edge of Albuquerque.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Painting the Painted

The airspace around Albuquerque shook our jet plane like a sand winder.  Chop! Damn! Turbulence!  At dinner, a local CPA (who handles salary cap negotiations) said the pocketed cross-drafts rattle most first-time visitors, especially the ones gliding into town from the West and North.  We sputtered in from the Northeast.  Am I relieved? 

It's late, and I'm exhausted.  Between dropping Ph. at basketball camp this morning, sitting in on a search committee for two hours in the morning, scrambling around to pack, herky-jerking through the Southwestern skies, and mucking with all of the fine Native Vision folks: p h e w.  Enjoyed the company of the principal from Bernalillo H.S. at the reception for the program.  Lots of talk among the athletes about the athletes v. campers basketball game on Friday night.  If I'm the youngest player, we're in trouble.  Bernalillo H.S. won the N.M. 3A State Championship this year. 

After an early breakfast at the hotel in the morning, the 37 folks on the athlete list are shuttling over to the Zia Pueblo for a tour before re-assmebling at the high school.  I brought the camera, but I don't intend to tote it around.  Picture, what?  It goes: take memories, leave dust tracks. 

Nice talks with Jim Rourke (of B.C. and the KC Chiefs, Oakland Raiders) who now lives in Boston and who had nothing but fondness for the Carrier Dome--when the subject of Syracuse came up.  He told me he played against SU in November during one of the last seasons before the dome was built.  November 12 of 1977?  Yeah it was cold.  And SU won, 20-3: even colder.  Enjoyed listening to Scotty Graham and Steve Jordan (former Vikes) chat..oh, and Toni Linhart.  Heck, everybody.  NBAers?  Just as I was coming up to my room, Dan Roundfield was checking in.  Camp sessions start tomorrow afternoon. Quite a group.

Monday, May 31, 2004


1. Best bad weather driving advice noted before speeding through tornado alley the other day: "If you see a tornado, drive in the other direction." noted.
2. Never slept on a Sleep Number bed, and I don't know my sleep number. Crashed hard last night on a perfectly new air mattress here in Detroit City. Since there aren't any coils in the mattress, I'm not sure the Sleep Number is calculable. Only when I rolled to my side did I sometimes bottom out, which meant my Sleep Number was scalable (where's my calculator?), and which meant D., over on the other side, was perfectly elevated on a firm bed of pressure (variously taut). It's not Erdos, but, well, may be the grounds for an interesting (if only to me) social analysis. Oh, and I slept fine, which is good because we're off to NY later today.
3. Glad to have Clancy's link to Berube's questionnaire. A certain family member started to riff on Kerry this morning (more talk on presidential politics, candidacies and damage control voting). No need to bruise close relationships with political hypotheticals. I didn't even bring up the torture question. Children in earshot.