E very so often some never-before-heard-of idea comes along, claims you as its host. Claims me as its host for a while. Right now that idea is eucatastrophe, or "good" catastrophe, a sudden, unexpected, magical reversal of fortune, a rebound, turnaround, do a little kick. Eucatastrophe comes up in J.R. Tolkien's work as a kind of happy ending. Something terrible, catastrophic is going down and then, suddenly, everything is okay. Storm clears. Protagonist is spared. But I didn't find this idea by reading Tolkien, nor by reading second-hand stuff about Tolkien. It was mentioned in an undergraduate stylistic analysis essay draft I read and commented over winter break in late February. Eucatastrophe. There it was, a parasite slaking on my brainbody ever since, like these back-to-back late-winter colds I've been sniffling through. There it was, gently, persistently.
I don't need this idea for anything. I suppose I will name my NCAA tournament bracket Eucatastrophe, since I usually pick too many upsets in the first two rounds and then have a shot, if I am lucky, as late as the Final Four. Bracket by some miracle is spared. Or else it is catastrophic.
But this idea has forked as it settled in, associating for me with two loosely related ideas. The first has to do with wicked problems, inquiry, and research. The second with the pop adage about jumping the shark (I guess it's not quite an adage, something like that).
In the first sense, eucatastrophe is for the quicksanded, lost-in-the-mess researcher, the sudden reversal of fortune by which everything turns out okay. What was a problem is, by declaring it a non-problem, doubled back. One of my committee members at SU spoke of a similar idea that had surfaced in some lost-reference 1970s scholarship: Lance jumped out of the pit. The anecdote goes that in Lance's dire predicament (no, really: extremely fucking dire), everything seeming like it was headed for ruin, Lance (could be anyone?) simply jumped out of the pit. And everything was fine again. Eucatastrophe meet Lance; Lance meet eucatastrophe. It's the same idea, no? Close enough.
In the second sense, though, the now well-known reference to the fifth season of Happy Days, in which Arthur Fonzarelli took to waterskis, some dare or bet or something, and jumped over a shark. One misstep (misski) and he'd have been in the shark's jaws, chewed to death, eaten alive, or worse! But he jumped the shark successfully. Nowadays, this phrase, "jumped the shark," to indicate something that has gone too far--an overstated, exaggerated, even hyperbolic eucatastrophe, a kind of farcical, horseshit turnaround that makes everything after it seem absurd, ridiculous. Jumping the shark takes eucatastrophe too far; the suspense is so far eclipsed that the ongoing premise (i.e., everything back to business as usual) is overshadowed, lingering with the toxicity of the hyperbole.
And yet, in the case of Happy Days, as Ron Howard explains in the interview below, the series went on to many years of success, despite so-called "jumping the shark." The shark jumping episode was not as much of a catastrophe of taking things too far as its contemporary corrective, "you've jumped the shark," suggests. In fact, the episode aired for the first time in 1977, when I was three years old--long before I ever watched Happy Days. And yet it's a show I could say I grew up watching, frequently as re-runs, well into in the mid-1980s. Shark-jumping was a curious turn in the series, but it was more eucatastrophic for the Fonz's character than catastrophic for the series.
Another example, this broken backboard in Rec/IM:
Two days later. Eucatastrophe. Broken no more.
I n this dream, some kind of simulacrumby glitch struck my U's research-focused marketing push; the banner hung, repeating images, like the Hollywood Square grid dangling from the parking garage. This is what parking garages dream of?
I don't know what kind of comment this is on tomorrow's start of the semester, a visual rhetoric grad class, an online style class (piloting, or rather crash-imminent-piloting Canvas), a metric crap-tonne of meetings).
Besides semester-readying, after this photo and its Photoshopping (in consultation with Is.), I was thinking more about What's the right time for acclimating to the kinds of photographic worlding (knowing, seeing, capturing for altering and then circulating) a program like Photoshop makes possible? Comparable but parallel and thus only but so relevant a thread of thought on Excel, too, spreadsheeteracy or whatever, which we spent some time on over the holiday break, too. Another entry someday, teaching spreadsheets with Unolytics, making kiddo enter the data.
Already ambling, but the blog's next year (oof, yet another) needed a nudge, an anything whatever to bump everything into 2015. This is it.
S omewhere along the way, even though I did not mean to, I lost track of how many Mother's Days have piled up too-many-one, too-many-two, too-many-thirteen since June 1997, the month and year my mom died. I could run the numbers wicked-quickly through the tenth year or so, not that anyone ever asked, "So how many years has it been for you, without your mom?" There are years when reminiscences (reminen-siezes?) laced with grief dulls the which-year math and other years when the exact count blazes brightplain again. This time the year-count is a Mother's Day whatever. Someone abacus-else can bother with it.
Ruth Margalit's "The Unmothered" made its deserved rounds yesterday. I grabbed the link and dropped it into Pocket, retrieved it this morning and read on my phone through no-really-my-eyes-are-tearing-from-allergies while the morning's water heated toward boiling. The article offers a reflection on Mother's Days for the unmothered, those whose mothers have died, those who experience faint and sometimes gripping pangs of absence through this tribute-holiday's memory work. Read the article if you want to. Or put it in Pocket for later. Either way.
These are among the gem passages--a small bouquet of excerpts I want to press into the blog the way my grandmother used to press violets into the binding-folds of thick books for preserving. They'll save here, so I (or you and I, anyone) can re-read them around this time next year or the year after that:
Trust me, I'm too aware of the fact that my mother is gone to wish her here in any serious way on Mother's Day. But does the holiday have to be in May, when the lilacs are in full bloom? When a gentle breeze stirs--the kind of breeze that reminds me of days when she would recline on a deck chair on our Jerusalem porch, head tilted back, urging me to "sit a while"?
They say time heals. It's true that the pain wears off, slightly, around the edge, like a knife in need of whetting. But here's what they're missing: It gets harder to explain to myself why I haven't seen her. A month can make sense. (I took a trip; she was busy with work.) Even six months is excusable. (I moved; she's on sabbatical.) But how to make sense of more than three years worth of distance? How to comprehend that time will only drive my mother and me farther and farther apart?
Yes, I remember thinking. Yes, yes, yes. This wasn't delayed grief, after all. It was simply this: grief keeps odd hours, the most painful moment at the most abstract moment. Strangely, I began to think of Barthes (whose relationship with his mother famously bordered on the Oedipal) as my grief buddy. Largely preferring books to people around that time, I discovered that he wasn't the only one.
I started to italicize, add emphases-mine, and then ended up italicizing the mother-loaded hell out of these few lines, so back-tracked and thought better of it. An almost of italicizing, done and reversed back to nothing special. All of it equally special.
And this is all just to say--as if I have anything left, much less grand-culminating and insightful to say about this Mother's Day or "The Unmothered," that these sentiments operate with unpredictable, potent acuity over a life. I suppose I might have been dreaming just such an idea when this photo from April 1975, me not quite a year old and lost in The Big Nap, when this photo of her--so impressively alive, happy, and mothering as to make it unthinkable that it would ever be otherwise--was click! taken.
"I add new salt and pepper all the time. We're not crazy."
"We're not not crazy."
B egan with pancakes and sausage, one game of NBA2K14, the first of two drive and walk shovelings, lazy adjustments to FYWP blog CSS, created an article review file and plunked down some impressions, sawed the Christmas tree in half for needling through the snow to curbside, vacuumed and emptied collecting chamber, prepped a lentil soup (tomorrow's lunch) with football and hockey ambient-ambivalent in the background, shoveled again, dusted off the Element but did not drive it, gave up on snowball fight for poor snowpack, then made up a lousy game of tag on trails before the angels left wing-and-gown prints. Inside fifty pages fire and hot chocolate-side of Gaiman's Fortunately, the Milk with Is., bummed to see Fitbit count only up to 7,595, 7,596, 7,597, and a blog entry--the first since October, first of 02014, but above all to make sure widemoth still turns over in this time of winter weather.
M uch as I wanted to, I wasn't able to attend Joe C.'s funeral Monday in Phenix City, Ala. The best I could do was to send personal condolences to his family via Facebook and to log on last Thursday evening--patchy though the connection was--to the webcast of a memorial service set in Park U.'s Breckon Sports Center, the same building where I worked with him for several years in the early aughts. Joe C. was the women's basketball coach; I was the SID and Asst. AD. Our offices sat at the back of the building on the first floor--the only two offices tucked away back there, sharing a quiet hallway (quiet, other than during home events) with the concession stand. Often it smelled like popcorn, hot chocolate, nacho cheese. And when Joe talked on the phone or met with players--which happened often--I was near enough to overhear inaudible, muffled waves of dialogue. Day in and day out.
We were hired at the same time: July 1997. In fact, I interviewed that summer for the women's basketball coaching position he was offered. That's when Park instead hired me as their first full-time SID. D. and I had just moved to Kansas City that July--a few weeks after my mother died out of the blue--mainly to see to Ph.'s care and more generally to figure out this: "Now what?" Joe C. was the one colleague in the athletic department at the time who had kids within a couple of years of Ph. Feels now like an overstated memory to mention how Joe's fathering modeled something for me, even tacitly. I can see now influences and affinities that operated only in a background way at the time.
I haven't kept an office--day in and day out--alongside any other colleague for a full seven years, and who knows if that will ever happen again, especially considering the any-which-ways we rotate offices at EMU. Certainly I have known colleagues as mentors and friends for many years and across different institutions, but remembering Joe C. as a colleague and friend brings me back to what seem now, after his sudden death a week ago Sunday at the age of 59, like vivid and formative early influences. In this context, it's appropriate to mention that one of Joe's nicknames from way back (not sure whether it took hold at SIU or one of his NBA stops) was "garbage collector." Garbage collector is, of course, a fitting name for the post player who rebounds and puts-back or relays the missed shots of others. Reminds me, too, of I.A. Richards' definition of rhetoric as "misunderstanding and its remedies." Basically, Richards' rhetor is a sensitive "garbage collector," a scrappy big--if I can blend these contexts--who wrestles for position, throws occasional elbows to clear stasis from the lane, and clears the glass, rebounding and thereby remedying others' misses. A crucial professional role, isn't it? Every department, every program needs a garbage collector. Now, I don't want to trail off any farther than I have on this unusual point. Suffice it to say that Joe C. was the best at balancing a kind of quiet-but-commanding disposition, underwritten with a rare mix of qualities that coalesced into remarkable depth of character--compassion, conviction, humility, tenacity, good humor, toughness.
In 2001, Joe invited me to be his proxy at Native Vision--a stand-in at the camp held that year in Whiteriver, Ariz.--because he had been called to a Knicks camp on the same dates. I've returned to Native Vision almost every year since, invited by the camp's organizers to chip in with Joe and others leading the basketball section of the camp. So even though I left Park U. in 2004 to take up the CCR program at Syracuse, I continued to see Joe every summer and as recently as this past June. That Ph. also attended Park in 2009, just before Joe resigned from coaching there was yet another reason we kept in contact. In fact, there were half a dozen times when it was reassuring to know that Ph. had run into Joe C., that they'd sat together at church, that Joe was looking out for him. What measure of influence or impact is this? I don't quite know how to name it or how to reckon with its importance, other than to say that Joe dealt in magnitudes of kindness and generosity (of time and attention) far exceeding much else I've known.
And so what can you say when someone like Joe C. Meriweather--not that anyone else was quite like him--makes a premature exit? What besides remembering as hard as you can, telling others, scratching together a best-I-could-do-today panegyric, and vowing to become a kinder garbage collector? What other than pausing to notice, with a blend of sadness and anger, the unfair swirls snarling when you least expect them in time's cross-currents? Ten days gone by and I don't know.
But I do know this: I am lucky to have had Joe C. as a friend, and I sure will miss him.
S omething about tracing a sternum against a second-story window lit by a graywhite winter's day, the illuminated anatomical model from a book found in the garage while making space for one of the cars to fit between the stuff piled there for a garage sale scheduled sometime when the weather is warm again.
Q uick question: What's the last "review essay" published in CCC you can name without searching?
I couldn't come up with a title, much less the names of all of the books in any review essay. I recall reading Kris Blair's piece (had to look up the title: "New Media Affordances and the Connected Life") from CCC 63.2, but I could only remember three of the five books covered in that review: Dilger and Rice's From A to <A>: Keywords for Markup because I already own a copy, and two others because I knew something beforehand about their authors and would claim an interest in their work. Otherwise, working from memory, I can't come up with much--a vague recollection of another review essay by Schilb and one more by Villanueva on style. After reading the Villanueva review essay, I picked up a copy of Holcomb and Killingsworth's Performing Prose, but that was as much motivated by a Twitter exchange with a colleague as by the review.
Thus, when I started to see an unusually high level of discussion circulating about Geoff Sirc's "Resisting Entropy," a review essay published in the latest issue of CCC (Feb. 2012, 63.3), my first thought was something like, "Well, this sure is an awful lot of activity for a review essay." People were discussing it on Twitter, but I also received an email message from a student on the same day NCTE circulated the bulk email announcing the issue--an email message bringing up several questions and concerns based on things Sirc wrote. I hadn't read the then-day-old review yet, but I hurried my pace in getting to it.
As far as I know, review essays covering multiple books began appearing in CCC seven or eight years ago. Before that reviews focused on single titles. The review essay provides readings of and recommendations for a small collection of titles, presumably titles that have come out in the last three or so years and that share a topical thread. And as I understand it, there are a few motives behind the switch to review essays: 1) they are more tightly packed than individual book reviews , 2) they promote a more rigorous appearing scope which in turn justifies known scholars to write them, 3) the known scholar bi-line gets people to read them, and 4) clustering multiple books into one review essay means readers will encounter book reviews at the edge of (and perhaps just beyond) titles they would have otherwise already been likely to check out.
I've read Sirc's review essay, and although I realize it is poor cccarnival mmmanners to sidestep much substantive discussion of the article itself, all I want to say for now is that I appreciated the candor in his definitively recommending (or in not recommending, as the case may be) each of the four titles subject to review. The essay is polemic. Fine. It even toes the line between unapologetic critique and demolition-ball tear-down. But, despite however much or little I agree with Sirc in specific moments (i.e., there are points that resonate, others that trouble and confuse; I may well elaborate on a few in another entry), I know where he stands on these titles, and these titles become more decidable as a result. I want that nudge toward decidability from a review essay, and I suspect Sirc's "Resisting Entropy" is one CCC readers will remember for awhile--both for the hot stove arguments the essay stokes and for the titles covered in doing so.
T he safety officer at Is.'s school hands out safety leaflets like this one each week. Most of these "coloring sheets" concern animal safety messages on letting sleeping dogs lie, never putting your face close to a dog's face, and so on. In a friendly gesture, s. officer always hands me two. "Take an extra one for the refrigerator."
I turned in grades almost ten days ago. And ten days has left me enough time to defrag what was the Fall 2011 semester (also enough time to see The Muppets, watch Breaking Bad through season 3, and finish Shields' Vonnegut biography, And So It Goes). The highlights follow, in no particular order.
H ere's my brief teaser for phase two of the upcoming WIDE-EMU Conference. I've titled my short talk, "The Hyper-Circumference of Effectiveness in 3..2..1.. FTL Jumps." Since the teaser-trailer is right here for viewing, there's no need for me to say much more about it. I was impressed that Google's auto-transcript (beta) process translated "hyper-circumference" as "high pressure conference," though, as if it's some kind of auto-complete algorithm tapped straightaway into the deep recesses of my WIDE-EMU subconscious. Or, maybe I was never really thinking about hyper-circumference in the first place. Jump!
Added: Just noticed the translation calls Burke's 1978 essay something like "Questions and Answers about the Pant Ad."
I cannot explain it, but I woke up this morning with this song playing in my head. There are several versions on YouTube, and most come from the final scene in Life of Brian, but this Ren and Stimpy mash-up is impressive considering the video was assembled from several episodes.
H onored to join so many other dignified Americans in enthusiastic applause for this country's superb leadership. (via)
T oday's my brother's birthday, and a big one: the turning point in life when hard-working cake makers recommend you switch from solo candles to a pair of numeral candles (one of them reusable for the next decade). Had a nice talk on the phone with him earlier, Is. leading us in a speakerphonic "happy birthday" song. Will hand deliver the card on Saturday when we get together.
Seems like a few short years ago he (right) was hassling me on the porch of our grandparents' home on Drummond Island, waving that pop gun in my proximity (without pointing it directly at me because that was against the rules), firing off a cap or two to keep me afraid.
I started a comfort inventory this morning, but, not finding it comforting, I postponed.
P h. is taking an online class this summer: LS211: Introduction to the Humanities. It's a class I know well. I first developed the online version several years ago2002 and taught it a handful of times, including every summer during my tour de PhD. I was the course developer for, I don't know, seven years right up until I landed in Ypsilanti.
Now two years later, I encouraged him to enroll in this particular course because he needs it for his major, and I thought there was a chance the main textbook might still be in use and a few crumbs of the course I'd designed might be lingering in the new version. All this amounts to is a faint hunch that we could have some conversations about the course materials--in-family supplemental instruction.
You can imagine my surprise--and horror--when Ph. received as a welcome email an message I wrote many years ago as a template for other instructors to adapt when welcoming student into the course. What a peculiar turn, this message in a bottle, from me to students in the early oughts, then with details removed as a template from me to instructors of the course, then minimally modified from an instructor to Ph. late last week.
The class begins for Ph. today. In fact, he just shared with me a Google Doc with the major project assignment (because I was curious; plus he is working in my office today), and, indeed, it is the very assignment prompt I created a half decade ago. I'm baffled, conflicted. I mean, I know it was work-for-hire. I know the other school "owns" these course materials. I know they are entitled by contract law to redistribute and make money on every scrap of material I put into that course. And even though this situation hints at odd and unsettling pedagogical practices (for a course--ironically--we paid tuition for), and even though I am not crazy about the idea that Ph. would be taking a course dependent upon such an aging bundle, I am nevertheless reassured by what feels like stepping through a wormhole, i.e., that the course is solidly enough developed that materials I wrote and assembled several years ago could still be sound today. It's a principle to teach by, I suppose: create classes you would like for your children to take one day (and understand that if you sign a contract releasing work-for-hire, you just might end up paying tuition for them to take it).
E arly this morning I read Michael Finkel's recent GQ article, "Here Be Monsters," about three Tokelauan teens who survived fifty-one days adrift at sea. It proved an uncanny read on the Kindle, considering I pushed it there mostly to try out Readability's new "Send to Kindle" option, and I have also been slow-slow-Kindle-reading Arum and Roksa's report on the failures of colleges, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Some sort of reading device-based juxtaposition in this, I guess.
The fruits of this pollenation, if they can be called fruits and not flotsam, include a hypothetical reading list for a course I will probably never teach on different types of drifting (dreaming it up, so let's consider it a course on curriculum).
From "Here Be Monsters,"
Some-times boats are blown off course; there's even a Tokelauan word for this: lelea. It's theorized that the very existence of people on the island--is has been inhabited for a thousand years--is because a Polynesian canoe drifted off course. But there is also another, more complicated Tokelauan word: tagavaka. This applies to boats that have purposely sailed away--for love, adventure, or suicide.What, for example, comes of viewing academic drift in terms of lelea and tagavaka? And what of the here/there reference to monsters (in the article's title) might productively refocus academy drift characterizations on drifting from and drifting toward?
And we would need additional readings in this speculative scenario: Singer's "The Castaways," Menand's "Live and Learn" (an ENGL328 student just shared this one with me), Haynes' inestimable "Writing Offshore," and, why not?, something on The Essex. And, it's undeniable, I wrote an entry a lot like this one just about four years ago. I have continued in the intervening years to drift away from and, having surrendered to currents, back toward ideas like these--ideas rekindled, of course, by my dissatisfaction with academic drift-states cast too singularly as a problem to be buoyed simply by resetting drifters on a fixed, positionally precise course.
The "Here Be Monsters" article includes a nod to assessment from a New Zealand psychiatrist who examined the boys: "'They won't ever forget this,' he says. 'It won't be put out of their minds. But young people tend to be resilient, able to work through tragedies with reasonably good long-term results.'"
A ccording to Google Analytics, this blog has taken hits from all U.S. states except Wyoming in the past month. I suppose it's only fair to own up: I've neglected to develop many Wyoming attention-getters over the years, much less this month. So I tried to searchabout to find out what's happening, tried to make sure everyone there is okay, and I learned about local controversy in Cody, Wyoming concerning Walmart's liquor license. Apparently some think the Cody Walmart should be able to sell liqour, while others think it should not. A show on local radio station KODI provided a glimpse of the community divided on Friday when host David Koch took a call from an angry council member:
That prompted a call from council member Steve Miller, who repeatedly told Koch to "shut up" and also said "I am going to take you to the woodshed."
See: things are heating up. By the way, the article shows the pronunciation of Koch as /cook/, which I understand to mean this is not the billionaire David Koch /coke/ who has been in the news this week. Who is to say whether billionaire David Koch would approve of liquor sales in the Cody Walmart?
K indergarten round-up.
I attended the round-up with my mom. Beal City. We visited the high school gymnasium where several partitions--lightweight, mobile wall-segments--dissected the basketball court into a series of ad hoc rooms. The figure of a badly painted pegasus spread across the wall. Home of the Aggies. And then we meandered from room-divided to room-divided, making small talk as I sweated through a battery of skills tests, typical Cold War skills tests as I recall: do a summersault, comb for lice, write your name. I was four-and-three-quarters: I don't know what else. Maybe a short windsprint, chin-ups, balance on one leg, the other leg, marshal a few beads on an abacus, express something patriotic, and how are your teeth.>
I don't remember anyone being surprised when I was admitted to kindergarten. But I was admitted. Completed it in 1980: 79-80, a year spent tracing anthropomorphic letters ("Q"ueen), bantering at the sand table, and watching for chocolate milk to show up in the chest cooler in our classroom. And that's the last experience I had with grade K. No more chest coolers in the classroom after that.
Ph. had already completed kindergarten by the summer of 1997 when our family, also unanticipated parenthood, sprung up out of the blue. Moved to Kansas City and within a few weeks enrolled him in first grade. The records of his kindergarten year were sketchy--whatever assembled in an untabbed hanging file folder my mom kept. And also kind of didn't keep. Record-keeping never was anywhere listed among her most admirable qualities (although the rest of the list was so much!). Ph.'s kindergarten year was, for us, undocumented. It had happened; that much was certain. But in another way it wasn't anything we'd experienced directly, except through the ramshackle contents of that hanging file folder.
Later today I will drive Is. to one of the schools where she might attend kindergarten in the fall. We'll meet D. there, walk around, make open-house-style small talk, and, who knows?, suffer Is. through a battery of post-Cold War fitness testing. She's ready with the summersaults and name-writing. Lice-free and more. Better prepared, I am sure, than I was. Still, I am nervous for her, nervous because it has been a long time since I have given kindergarten much thought. Nervous, if "nervous" is the right word, because it's not entirely clear where we want to enroll her. Or what this "open house" is all about these days. Or whether there will be abacuses.
Added (2:30 p.m.): I had a chance to Skypetalk with Ph. this afternoon, as much to question his kindergartenal memory as to test out the free demo version of Skype Call Recorder, which I am thinking about purchasing and using for a project far at the back of my mind. There are a number of settings to tinker with in time, but the recording process was promisingly easy, and the side-by-side presentation of two callers and the .mov output makes this seem to me like a bargain at $19.95. As for the kindergarten question:
I currently keep three email addresses (emich.edu, gmail.com, and earthwidemoth.com). The first two are open to everyday email; the third is for some online ordering and a handful of other likely-to-sp8m sign-ups (i.e., the third is a zombie account, in effect). I suspect I am not alone in keeping multiple accounts, and yet I have made changes to these accounts recently that have substantially redrawn how they work for me.
After months of build-up, in November I realized I was spending too much time labeling, tagging, or sorting email messages into folders--a glut of folders, certainly more than 50. I read around briefly about various efficiency techniques, settled on one, and set about moving messages and deleting the excess. It was cathartic, soul-cleansing (though only about as rapturous as shelving books or vacuuming, to be honest). I ended up with the inbox plus four folders: Act, Hold, Archive, and Lists. All of the emails that arrive easily fit into one of these four folders with most going to Archive. Everything that goes into Lists is automatically routed there by a filtering algorithm. Suddenly Inbox Zero was commonplace: my email practices were significantly improved. And, in fact, this morning I deleted the Act folder because I don't need it. The general inbox has, for almost three months, functioned as an Act folder. Again, the two motives here are ease of retrieving a message and improved classificatory efficiency.
In addition to the
four three folders, I apply seven tags (in Thunderbird): 1 Teaching, 2 Scholarly Activity, 3 Service, 4 Administrativa, 5 Personal, 6 Calendar, and 7 Accounts. Category 4 came along after I realized that a number of emails were communicating various university business that didn't quite fit into Category 3. I assign Category 7 to various password resets, membership renewals, and account information. Category 6 applies to items requiring an entry on Google Calendar. The others are fairly self-explanatory.
In effect, all emails I receive are categorized twice, once by folder and once by tag. Some receive two tags; few receive three. Often I search the Archive folder by sender, keyword, or date, but I can also separate the emails for any category. The other folders are never full enough that I need to search them. Hold, for example, has maybe ten items in it related to conference travel or meetings next week.
I realize this is a fairly mundane exercise, writing an entry about techniques for managing the inbox, but since November I have had two or three occasions to explain how this works, and I have been told it sounds either risky or brave to abandon a glut of folders for this new (to me) configuration. It's neither risky nor brave. This is no hero narrative (at most, I can get a high-five from Is.: "You did what to your inbox?! Awesome!"). Yeah, I was nervous for 30 minutes deleting all of those folders, but the change has turned out to be a remarkable improvement.
There are more personal emotional fears that reinforce the monopoly of the doubting game and which must therefore be explored here. I think we all fear, to a greater or lesser extent, being taken over, infected, or controlled by a bad or wrong idea. The believing game asks us, as it were, to sleep with any idea that comes down the road. To be promiscuous. We will turn into the girl who just can't say no. A yes-man. A flunky. A slave. Someone who can be made to believe anything. A large opening that anything can be poured into. Force-fed. Raped. (185)Reading the essay (again, reading to decide its fit in a class I will soon teach), I hovered on this paragraph slightly longer than most because I found it difficult to play the believing game with it. Promiscuity, slavery, rape: here as tropes these are excessively blunt for explaining the risks in preferring one intellectual manner over another. Because Elbow's list-work deals out these references in quick succession, I attempted to read it as a dare--a lure configured deliberately to remind readers that our believing has its limitations and that such limitations are often due for direct contemplation (e.g., attending to how hyperbole works on us). The paragraphs that follow confirm Elbow's concern for believing as an inroads to dangerous ideas--dangerous ideas that the doubting game's overeager critical impulse would shield from us: "What is needed is practice in learning to immerse the self gradually in the element perceived as dangerous--and it is just such a process that is constituted by the believing game" (186-187).
I t's not clear to what extent in real life signs order the unconscious. But just in case, should any waking apparitions attempt a trespass, they have been put on notice.
"Daddy, I think of prettier things than you do."
"Stay out of trouble."
I would elaborate, but that might be misunderstood as context. Now, onward with four meetings interrupted only by early afternoon basketball.
A second consecutive Halloween spent in Saint Clair Shores: up Yale Ave., down the next block to the south, cross the street, pursue the lit houses. is. masqueraded as a pixie this year. Or a fairy. Whichever, she was much bolder about marching up to people's doors and asking for their best stuff, much surer about the hallowed protocols.
I s. practiced hopscotch in the late-day shadows Sunday afternoon. Here the stone skips off the court. No problem. My entire weekend has amounted to a stone skipped off the court, three days of nonchalantly trailing after of the last wisps of summertime: happy hour with new EMU faculty, an NFL fantasy draft meeting Saturday afternoon, the EMU-Army football game, a stroll in the park, a pot of potato-leek soup, a brief errand into the Canton Target earlier today. Minimal exercise. Minimal television. Fall classes commence Wednesday, so there have been a few minutes of reading, revising class documents, imagining as possible the perfect first class session. But mostly, breathing, recharging, and easing summer properly to its conclusion.
V isited a crowded Toledo Zoo Tuesday. The Ziems Conservatory was closed (I wonder if the cause was a slake moth infestation). These plywood cutouts were, for today, close enough to real butterflies. Come to think of it, props might be the best/wildest any zoo has to offer for how richly they stage a participatory transmography: you get to be the animal/human hybrid.
W hen I was driving to Pray-Hoyt around 11:30 a.m. to drop off a piece of furniture, put a letter of rec. on letterhead, and print an ms. for reviewing, an Ann Arbor radio station played this one.
Associating it with Kenneth Burke, I misremembered something like this:
Imagine that you arrive at a parlor. You stand outside, unable to decide whether to enter unannounced, to knock, or to ring the doorbell. You decide on the doorbell, but you have come late, and somehow the moment does not seem quite right. 'When ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it.' Etc.
A variation of
Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. (PLF 110)
This fall marks 20 years since Kenneth Burke's time at Eastern Michigan University as a McAndless Scholar in 1990--an anniversary worthy of a few of blog entries, some informal conversations with colleagues who were here at the time, and perhaps even some kind of reading or parlor event. Our usual building, Pray-Harrold, is since May closed for renovations. Still, I wonder which office was KB's and whether he spent much time in it.
I 've been hearing a lot of buzz lately about the Buy Michigan Now program. There's a related festival in Northville this weekend. We didn't make it over there, but the local television news coverage has portrayed it as a Michigan products showcase, with products amounting mostly to local foods, fashion, art.
This is the second annual festival, which means the BMN group has been around for a couple of years. Their web site challenges visitors to take a pledge. Nearly 5,000 people have done so to date. Like many pledges, with this one people promise they will think differently, that they will speak positively of Michigan:
I hereby pledge to play an active role in building a strong, vibrant, and diverse Michigan economy. I will be a part of the solution by speaking positively about the state, learning about our products and services, and making a concerted effort to buy from Michigan businesses. I will Think Michigan First!
I suppose this kind of thing will become increasingly common as we (all?) square with the consequences of economic dissipation--a products and services onslaught from elsewhere, too frequently from anywhere else but here. Despite the emphasis on economic stimulation via spending and consumption (also this fee structure for landing in a database), programs like these are reasonable attempts to affect how people think about the local. Granted, BMN is more Long Here than Long Now. But it's a start, even if what the planet (and Detroit by proxy) really needs is more Long Here and Now.
It starts me thinking about related improvements. Ignoring for a second the spatio-categorical inertia common to all major grocery stores (specialty food markets seem willing to tinker with this), it would make sense for grocers to reconfigure ever so slightly around buy local programs like this one. BMN provides a PDF grocery guide, for example (Why is Bell's not on the list?). But just think: if, instead of carrying the list around, I could walk into a store and pass through an area where products all came from the state I live in, I would be much more likely 1) to recall those products as viable options and 2) to purchase them. But radical rearrangement is at odds with an existing infrastructure unsuited to relocating some subset of dry goods, frozen foods, produce, and meats (even if Meijer already does something like this for a "Lunch on the go" cooler curiously positioned in the middle of aisle 7 or 8). Another route would be an added layer of labeling: big blue stickers on Michigan products (faceted classification for grocery products). And another would be some sort of intelligent environment device--an app for the smartphone--that adds locative snapshots to a illuminate a product's trail before arriving at the store and, while it's at it, puts it in the context of a couple of recipes. Still a few years off (bad news for the 'N' in BMN, if so), yet redefining encounters with products in the spaces where we typically find and buy them might make appreciable progress toward a $10 per week spending habit that would, so the BMN promotional materials argue, scale all the way up to $38 million if adopted across the state.
I s. writes birthday thank-yous by drawing pictures. Shown here, Y., carrying a bird on his back, jumps over last Sunday's birthday party.
W hile driving to the grocery store last evening, I heard a sudden, distinct drumming of one tire against asphalt--an instantly deflating sound-report of a crisis likely needing repair. I pulled over, walked a circle around the Element, checked the tires, found nothing, drove a bit farther, heard it again: a pronounced clack synced with each tire's full orbit.
When I reached the Meijer parking lot, I walked the perimeter once more, and this time spotted the thumb-tip sized head of a bolt protruding from the face of the right-rear tire. Just after 7 p.m. on a Monday, so I guessed the odds of finding a repair shop open and accepting new jobs was very low. But this was a big bolt, and even though the tire appeared to be maintaining its full pressure, I wasn't all too keen on driving more than necessary before arranging a repair. I don't own a fancy Internet phone (might pick up an iPhone later this month...maybe), so I dialed D. and asked her to search out a tire shop proximate to Carpenter and Ellsworth. Belle Tire was closest. I called, told a rep. named Mike about the desperate condition this poor tire was in, and he said, "Bring it over."
Belle Tire was open until 8 p.m. They assured me they could make the repair before closing. Better, Belle sits next to a Kroger, so I was able to pick up groceries while they replaced the bolt with some kind of plug or patch. I returned at 7:50 p.m., loaded a few foodthings into the back of the vehicle, which had just been lowered to the garage floor, and listened to the cashier say something astonishing: "No charge. This one's on us. Enjoy your night." Astonishing.
There's more. On the way back to the car, I noticed a lug nut missing from the front right wheel--a wheel not in any way involved in the repair work they'd done. I'd just had a brake service and rotation at another shop two weeks ago; possibly they neglected to torque one of the nuts. I stepped back inside and asked the cashier/tech whether they had an extra. He told me to pull up to the garage door again where they put on a new lug nut free of charge. Uh-stonishing.
Let this stand as a formal registration of my amazement. Recent Google reviews of this location have been overwhelmingly negative, but how can I be anything other than impressed? Even if the free service was a strategic attempt to attract me as a future customer, it likely worked. I often feel like car repair situations amount to rip-offs (most unsettling is the deplorable gaming of standard labor charges for jobs accomplished in fewer hours than itemized, e.g., a three-hour labor rate for a job that is ready in 45-minutes). Last night's complimentary assist by Belle Tire, however, stood in refreshing contrast to this pattern.
Y ou might have read this is Global Ignite Week (or #giw, pronounced goo?). Speakers in 40 cities worldwide have (or will) gather for Ignite-style presentations: short-form talks, 20 slides set to rotate automatically after 15 seconds. Last night I attended Ignite Ann Arbor 3 in Blau Auditorium, U of M. Sixteen speakers presented to an audience of more than 400.
Here are a few impressions:
The program was eclectic, offering a mix of topics and viewpoints. They used double-projection: the rotating slide deck projected onto one screen, while a static title/presenter slide showed on the other. Double-projection offers flexibility for a program like this. Before the program and during intermission, organizers used both screens to display different Twitter streams (based on hashtags) associated with the event. Beyond the Ignite presentations, the evening included a rock-paper-scissors tournament (my scissors were obliterated by a rock in the first round; no two out of three?) and a funky laser light show the served as a segue between Mike Gould's "Running with Lasers" and the 15-minute halftime break.
Presentations ran a wide gamut: niche procedural (e.g., how to kill a mastadon, Bolognese, lasers), local flavor (e.g., lunch gathering, Ann Arbor's pitch for Google super-high-speed), activism (e.g., Washtenaw County foods, water council), progressive business infomercial (e.g., electronic vehicles, home funerals), and researched specialization or curiosity (e.g., early television, dyes, British slang, molecular communication).
I expected most speakers to deliver from memory and impulse, but several did not. Had I to guess, I would say that two-thirds used some sort of note cards or more. The slide deck functions as a way-finder of sorts--certainly slides prompted the more extemporaneous speakers when they lost track of what they wanted to say. The most conspicuously scripted talk of the bunch--Gould's bit on lasers--also struck me as more rigorously done because the script, I suppose, allowed him to synchronize his delivery with the slideshow. It also seemed fine-tuned because the script allows a speaker to get words and phrases exactly right.
Knowing How vs. Knowing What
I had a more favorable impression of talks that shared procedural knowledge or that expressed some niche understanding of how to do something. That is, some talks were informative and also more clearly situated in the realm of personal knowledge, whereas others acknowledged working with outside sources to develop the talk. Ignites don't afford speakers much opportunity to incorporate elaborate evidence or to disclose much about working with sources. In at least two talks, speakers mentioned that they'd done research online, but in both cases they seemed to downplay those choices.
To put it another way, as I drove home, I felt more resolved in preferring talks about something I don't already know how to do or that I can't find out about by searching online.
Too Short to Establish Exigency?
I was chatting with a couple of people in the Blau atrium after the session let out, and a student from ENGL328 said she was surprised at how infrequently speakers set up the exigency for what they were going to talk about. The short-form presentation models (Ignite, Pecha Kucha, etc.) don't leave much time for an opening setup, yet, absent a brief setup (e.g., what is parkour, anyway?) a rapid delivery talk can be jarring or temporarily disorienting. This could be resolved in a few ways. The program could include a once-sentence abstract for each presentation. Or, the MC could read a one- or two-line intro to set up the talk. Would this reduce the impact of the presentations? I don't know. But a bit more Why this? Why now? would have helped in a couple of cases last night.
Which Leads Which?, Slideshow vs. Speaker
Yet another impression was that these talks touch off an intriguing tension between the slide deck's automatic rotation and the speaker's command of a deliberate message. In some cases, the message trumps the slideshow; other times, the slideshow is in the driver's seat. The tension is more clearly resolved in some talks than in others, and while I don't think I have finally a preference for one or the other, this speaker-slideshow tension to my surprise has become a point of noticing, even a point of fascination: Which leads which?
If my schedule allows it, I am pretty sure I will attend Ignite Ann Arbor 4. I haven't decided yet whether I will try to participate. To be sure, the evening left me with a richer sense of what is possible in this evolving genre of short-form presentations, and I now have many terrific examples recommend as students begin preparing their own Ignites as one of the final pieces in ENGL328.
For other impressions of last night's event, check out #ignitea2 on Twitter.
"She did not want to be up there with her sisters."
W e're counting today Is.'s third-and-a-third birthday, or forty monthsday, depending upon how you keep time (or, rather, how you talk about how you keep time). By "counting," I also mean "celebrating": yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate frosting with yellow cake. A second slice for me because I missed lunch this afternoon; played basketball instead. In loosely gramophonic terms, the 3⅓ conjures associations with vinyl records, scratchy tracks ("loosely" because that would be 33.333 , but I doubt anybody reading is on decimal patrol over kiddo's moment of thr33phoria). We don't own a record player. We don't own any vinyl records. Nevertheless, Is. paraded around the carpet square in the basement to Laurie Berkner's "Five Days Old," which you can listen to here, neverminding the curious animations. The only reason I post it is that there will no doubt be more: more celebrating, more frosting, more Berkner loops, more Long Play.
T wo videos. The first one is a music video for Flogging Molly's "Float" (lyrics). Basically, a bearded cotton swab collects a bunch of odds and ends and then assembles them into a raft (via). I won't spoil it by telling you whether or not it floats.
Second, a cut from Jan & Kjeld's performance of "Tiger Rag" in 1959 (via). I watched this for the first time on Thursday within earshot of Is., and ever since she has asked to watch it again and again, even claims it as her "favorite song." As if that isn't enough, she also said she favors Jan (right) over Kjeld. Perhaps because of Kjeld's impressively fearful (verging on creepy) expression--the wide eyes and sucked-in cheeks unmatched by his brother, she insists Jan is the more likable of the two.
I admit it, I'm growing weary of watching this second video. But I'll post it nevertheless because the chances are high I'll hear another fifteen or twenty requests to watch it before something else comes along.
T ook in Is.'s first gymnastics class at Splitz in Canton. Followed that with lunch at Ginger, a nearby Pan-Asian place. And then we drove over to St. Clair Shores this afternoon; later had dinner and trick-or-treated with my brother's family near 11 Mile and Little Mack. Fortunately, there were no fires to put out on our three-block route, which we walked through conditions that gave every impression tomorrow begins November. Back in Ypsilanti now, wondering when I want to spend this weekend's free hour and watching the Pistons, who trail the Milwaukee Bucks by seven points in the 4th quarter. Announcers keep saying "Brandon Jennings, Brandon Jennings."
I s. pretends to read from Gertrude Stein. "A piece of coffee. More of double. A place in no new table."
N orm MacDonald tells a moth joke (via):
R eading this evening about the 19231 beginnings of the Great Outdoor Fight in Bakersfield, Calif.:
Figuring that where there was noise, there must surely be money, [Ken] Crandall decided to make the G.O.F. an annual event and become wealthy by selling sandwiches to the crowds who came to compete. He cleared an acre of his land, put up a high chainlink fence around it, and distributed hastily printed fliers throughout central California. An excited public quickly phoned, mailed, or telegrammed the information not only throughout the nation, but throughout the world. Newspapers in Italy ran sensational articles about the "Festival of Beasts," while papers in China advertised trips to California so that one might "Defeat Over Long-Time Dudes." (7)
Onstad, Chris. The Great Outdoor Fight. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2008.
A letter came home from Ph.'s school beginning, "Dear Nottingham Seniors and Families." In it, a list of reminders, three bulleted items, and the third one is this:
Please beware of "senioritis". Senioritis is a condition that happens to good kids in the spring semester of their senior year. It is contagious and the symptoms are not sometimes obvious at first. Students with senioritis are not focused, demonstrate a sudden lack of interest, and they find it difficult to complete and follow through regarding simple tasks. Senioritis will pass but the consequences may be devastating, i.e. not graduating, not being accepted in your school of choice, etc.
Were I not myself "find[ing] it difficult to complete and follow through regarding simple tasks," the next part of this blog entry was going to be a snarky blow-by-blow analysis noting how the senioritis bullet appears next to clip art of a stethoscope and doctor's bag. It was going to have a witty joke about how nobody is using doctor's bags or medical instruments these days to diagnose the affliction and also something about what a damnable shame it is that the most devastating consequences from this "sudden lack of interest" are centered on the student and only the student insofar as it may keep you from your school of choice, or worse, from graduating altogether.
Anyway, beware of this and other stuff and such.
D espite an abbreviated work session this morning, I found time to download and install the latest version of CMap Tools, an application I grew fond of during coursework and then inexplicably uninstalled twenty months ago, just after I used it to map the dissertation I've been working at ever since. About the latest version: what's not to love? I thought about it in the first place because I had a few ideas for a new map-sketch, the raw start to an article I intend to draft before summer's end.
I'll say more about the application and the article another time, perhaps, but all of this is a roundabout way of getting to the more pressing issue: because I re-installed CMap Tools, I also rediscovered an old, forgotten myscot wheel folder. The myscot wheel is an idiosyncratic cluster of mascots from programs where I've worked and studied, a wheel because the figures are arranged in a circle. For just over two months, since mid-February, I've had cause to add to it, celebratory cause.
The new, improved wheel gives it away. As the culmination of my job search, eight weeks ago I accepted a position for this coming fall as an Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Michigan University. In addition to being so warmly welcomed by great colleagues and preparing for a job I look forward to starting, the move to Ypsi-Arbor later this summer also means something of a homecoming for me. I grew up in Michigan and have always referred to it proudly as home.
As tempted as I am to gush on, I'll refrain for now and instead loosely commit to a series--eventual entries on the position, on the courses I will be teaching in the fall, on the market and anything worth sharing about how I approached it. But there you have today's circuit: CMap Tools, an updated myscot wheel, and an upbeat announcement about joining EMU.
T oday is Monday of Spring Break.
I started the day at the YMCA. D. took Is. to "Short Sports," where Coach Tina yelled out colors and then everyone ran to the hula hoop of that color and put one foot inside the circle. The hula hoops were lying flat on the floor, like big Os:
O O O O
O O O
O O O O
Meanwhile, I went to the fitness room and ran on the treadmill until I fell. You're probably thinking I ran 10 or 11 miles, was tired, stumbled from fatigue. Not so. And in case you are worried about me, I'm fine, although I later realized the skin-matter from the full length of my left shin must still be pasted to the conveyor belt. That, or some poor soul fresh off a jog has it stuck to the soles of their tennis shoes at this very moment.
I don't even like running.
Tomorrow, it will be Tuesday of Spring Break. Time to pack!
Because later this week I will jet to San Francisco for the annual CCCC convention, making it the second consecutive "break" I'll spend at a conference in SF. I'm counting on a powerful wave of enthusiasm to sweep over me, oh, sometime late Wednesday.
E yebrows: Is.'s latest facial-anatomical fixation. Fine if you sketch a stick person, but the omission of brows concerns her greatly. "Add them," she says. As for her own marker board sketches, eyebrows began appearing on every single one early last week.
I s. drew this on Sunday, her unbirthday and 30th monthsday. C, then O, and then she filled in faces and bodies while the board was upside down.
When I saw it late last night, I was first attracted to the O and the tight radiant circles in its eyes--its hypnotic bliss. But the more I look at the C, the more depth I see in its character, the more waves in its wide, thin hair-do.
I n typical C.I. fashion, a list:
Y es, Ph. carved, following a template from yeswecarve.com (else where). In the spirit of bipartisanship, of reaching across the aisle with pumpkin-goo-covered hands, we would've notched up a gourd for the McCain campaign, but the second pumpkin took to rotting before we could get to it. Seriously, it was really rotten. To rebound from the disappointment, D. assisted Is. in markering a Dora face on one of the miniature pumpkins out front.
We picked up the pumpkins a week ago, Sunday, at Critz Farms in Cazenovia--a trip worth making for their apple fritters alone.
I ndependent candidate Joad Cressbeckler's education platform, which amounts to "work hard" and "don't use calculators," would be disastrous for America. (via)
D on't worry; this doesn't mean the Yoki series has been discontinued. It's just a blip in my plan.
Yesterday, I was watching Is. in the late afternoon. Ph. had an away soccer match and so needed a ride to the school around 4 p.m.; D. was off on an errand. I was sapped out, dragging. I've been off caffeine since mid-August, but yesterday I suffered an ever so slight hankering and succumbed to it, stopping off at the local quick mart for a cold Dr. Pepper. Is. asked, where are we going? I said, inside for a soda. She said, huh? And I said a soda, a pop. Growing up in Michigan, it was always "pop." Is. thought I was talking about a "fruit pop"--the name she uses somewhat interchangeably for 100% juice popsicles and also for lollipops or suckers, which I've learned lately are shoved in kids faces at every turn from the physician to the post office (today at the post office in Fayetteville, a chocolate Dum-Dum). It's constant.
Anyway, the two of us went into the mart, and, of course, all of the candy was lined up at Is.'s eye level, a galleria of pops and things. She picked out a pomegranate (?) Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, and we were out the door again, me with my soda and Is. with the candy. Indulged and temporarily satisfied.
The deal with the pop was that she had to eat a decent dinner before she could have it. No problemo, said the look she gave me. And she did so, happily working through the nutritional foodstuff before reminding me that the junk was all-the-while hailing her.
And then we had a conversation about how, when I was a kid, the Country Corner at the intersection of Remus and Winn Roads would redeem Tootsie Roll wrappers if they had a star on them. Seems like I ate quite a few of those.
I also told Is. about the commercial with the dippy kid who sought out a partner for his "how many licks?" research study: the one where the turtle admits his inability to resist devouring the thing before completing the investigation and then passes the kid off to the overconfident and disastrously lazy owl who gives it two licks before crunching down on the thing. Fade to shrinking fruit pops with voiceover: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? The world may never know." Is. was far more interested in hearing about the boy, the turtle, and the owl, than in hearing me describe that commercial as my first exposure to flawed research (that sort of sham inquiry that made it seem like the owl already knew the answer he would give and instead performed the part only so he could consume the object of inquiry, take it as his own, and so on).
Later, we checked it out on YouTube.
No shortage of innuendos here about research ethics and consuming inquiry (either way: of too much fondness for the objects or of destructive partnerships), but suffice it to say that Is. did not ask me what the answer was (how should I know?) and neither did I let on whether I thought the question from the commercial was any good in the first place.
L ocal weathercasters this evening reported that the temperature in Syracuse today rose to 90F for the first time since June 9. Hot, for middle New York, anyway.
On the bright side, I have tussled with an unrelenting flu bug for the last 28.5 hours (who's counting?); so, rather than sitting by the pool today, I spent a substantial portion of the late afternoon and evening shivering inside my oldest, most dilapidated sweat suit while the temp in my body flitted above average (a balmy 102F inside my right ear at last measure). This is not to complain, since I think of hosting various viruses as a model of neighborly service, but rather just to mention that what I would ordinarily identify as great discomfort was well-timed in that I barely noticed the searing hot spell outdoors. Even so, I managed to read and comment some writing from 195ers; but little else.
Tomorrow is "Theory Day," a Writing Program sponsored day of reading and discussing student writing. The
doctor ABD in me thinks it might be wise to bow out, forgo the event and so too pass on the 100 clams of compensation for full-day participation, in favor of relaxing and recouping a little bit. But I can wait until morning to make that decision.
A wayfarer unexpectedly encounters a tiger and so runs to get away from it. He comes to a cliff, looks back to see the tiger in ravenous pursuit, and left with no other choice, leaps off the edge. Much to his temporary relief, a small ledge breaks the treacherous fall; he clings to it, suspended more than seventy feet above the ground. The traveler briefly regains his composure before he realizes another hungry tiger lurks at the bottom of the cliff. He is trapped, unable to step in any direction and cornered from above and below by predators. He looks over at a cluster of rubble and is surprised to see a delicate strawberry plant and with it a small, bright red berry, which, with nowhere else to turn, he happily eats while leafing through a packet of ads printed from the Job Information List.
H ere's a gallery of YouTube clips in celebration of Is.'s second birthday today.
Note: She opens with a "cheese" (uncertain about whether it would be a still shot), and then, promptly after singing, wants to see what the camera captured.
Above: Baby Steps, the video from a year ago. Below: The reenactment.
H ere's a delayed release video clip from our stop at Hershey Park two weeks ago. Noteworthy not only because I tuned it using the new version of iMovie, but also because I discovered just how easy YouTube has made it to add annotations to video clips (which, I'm sorry to see, don't seem to be showing up on this embedded version of the clip). If that's not enough, there's body surfing, too, much of which Ph. is quite proud.
Reminds me of the rocket-boat scene from the 1:43-1:57 mark below, only longer.
I s. has been asking lately--passionately--to paint. In fact, "paint" is one of those five-alarm words around the house: we know that saying it will tip Is. into such intense determination that, once it is said, there is no getting out of some sort of painting. D. will happily set out the water colors for her on the kitchen table (at breakfast this morning, Is. pointed to lingering brush marks on the wall and proudly claimed it: "Baby paint!" But she is almost as content with the graphics tablet and digital canvass. I can map the tablet to the exact size of the blank canvass on the interface and assist her (by mouse) with choosing colors--all a far better match with my own material preferences when it comes to painting. Whatever else can be said of it, Is. is picking up on subtle distinctions between colors (i.e. dark red and what she calls "yellow-white," although I'm still not always sure what this latter one is). And, on any given day, she gets enough of the water colors and enough of the graphics tablet to refer to them both as "painting" (a word you must not mutter in our company unless you want to alter the course of our lives for an hour).
Above, the first is just some futzing around with colors. The second looks to me like the end of the purple dinosaurs or the smoke monster from Lost knocking Mr. Echo onto his back.
I am out of patience for coinages that use "-mester" to name some new period of time for college study. Semester, trimester: I can live with these. Even "Maymester," has a certain ring to it, although it could just be that I was born into May that it sounds okay. May might be the only month that works with "-mester." Syracuse offers a Maymester. Quadrimester, no. Mester is, in effect, a Latin root meaning month, right? Consider a few of the possible, if redundant, blends:
Mercy already! You get the point. Yet today I saw promotional materials that use one of these identifiers for a four-week term of study. If you don't believe me, Google all of them and you will see.
Did you look them up? It's Julmester. Julmester?
In fact, two of these--Julmester and Junemester--are in circulation now as I blog. The only place we even find "-mesters" are in the academy and in the maternity ward. Higher ed, in my opinion, does not need to be any -mesterier than it is already. Perhaps listing a few more -mesters will keep their great awkwardness out of play, maybe even make those who think them up pause when they search to see which -mesters have already been scooped. More to chill your spine:
By now you have thought of one or two others to claim so nobody else ever ever tries to use it to identify a new! improved! term of academic studymester. If so, feel free to add them in the comments.
A one-hop red-eye from Seattle to JFK to Syracuse delivered us--splat!--into Hancock International Airport yesterday mid-morning. With a stroke of good fortune (what some would call a blessing), Is. slept for the entire route, but the rest of us are still returning to shape from the weakened and dismantled lumps of exhaustion we were transformed into. In the spirit of slowly rebuilding, yesterday early afternoon I dropped Ph. at school (on his insistence), retrieved the dog from his generous caretakers, and later chased down a meal's worth of groceries. The grocery trip:
Since early March I have been experiencing what I can only explain as "dairy cooler" trauma. That's what happens when, upon returning from some time out of town, you gather up fresh groceries only to realize that the milk (soy, organic whole, etc., whatever dated stuff you consume) cartons are all up in your face with expiration dates that foretell another trip (or deadline, as may be the case) on the horizon. I withstood another such milk aisle assault yesterday when the cartons all bore the date I will be leaving (in appr. two weeks) for Albuquerque. On the bright side, it beats drinking curdled whatnot. Although it would be nice if the milks would lay off.
Today, after a meeting with one of my committee members about more or less successful Chs. Zero and One, and after I few errands, which included replacing a cell phone whose display has been on the blink (i.e., has been blank) for ten days, I stopped through a different grocery store for a second consecutive day of one-meal shopping. After offloading the foodstuff, I wheeled the empty cart toward the corral, where an old man was gathering them. He said, "Thanks," as I rolled the cart toward him, and then, "Hang in there, okay?"
Okay. Strangely nice to hear, and when I least expected it.
W rapped up my first ever RSA late this afternoon with a role on O.09 on textual machinery and the interrelationship of agency and automation. Good company, smart papers, and an alert, question-raising audience: what more can you ask for? My list of (entirely self-inflicted) concerns is short, but I left with the sense that I fumbled through parts of the Q&A. Nothing horribly embarrassing. Just rambly-schmambly, swing-and-miss kinds of half-answers. There was a lot of rich conversation during the Q&A, but, frankly, I would like to have do-over tokens for some of it. Another do-over: while I was giving my paper, I was so distracted by the fact of not having water at hand that I was focused on the moisture levels in my throat almost to the total neglect of what I was saying.
Once rested, maybe I can push on through a couple of blog entries that will make up for some of my loafing through it today: on the long tail of citation freq., on automation/agency rel. to colloids and compounds, on letting concepts get away from us (or being understood as if). Or not (like I really need to promise more phantom EWM entries?). For now, I will drain a Lazy Boy IPA to celebrate the end of the 07-08 conferencing tour and then look ahead to enjoying another two days of visiting with family before jetting back to CNY.
M aybe I can hoist up an entry in the few minutes I have between halves of the Pistons-Magic series opener.
I've got one more day's worth of antibiotic to take tomorrow, but I can tell I'm leaving Chest Crud in the dust now that I'm getting my usual energy back (not that my usual energy is like jet fuel, but anything beats on-your-back full-body lethargy). I have an absolutely sluggish week to show for it, but I knew that would be the case after all of the driving the week before. I managed to bike to campus and back on Friday for the semester's final 2.5 hours in the Writing Center: three appointments with students I've come to know fairly well this semester. I was winded on the ride home after consulting; could tell I'd been sitting around for a week, especially after I held on through the one bona fide hill on the route. Probably would've been smarter to hop off and walk my rickety wheels to the top. Today I went out twice with Is. in the bike seat for short spins around the neighborhood. Nothing too rigorous, but Is. has become quite the personal trainer with her motivational "That way!" and "I want more!" every time we coast back into the driveway, no matter how long we've been riding. Her tirelessness helps me forget my own tiredness.
Looks like I will be returning to the Writing Center for SU's Summer 2 session: six weeks of 15 hours per week beginning in late June.
The title above refers to how I have begun to feel about May conferences. RSA is up in three weeks, and it involves cross-country travel. I still have a bit of work to do on the one presentation. That one still suffers from too broad of a scope for the eighteen minutes I'm aiming for. And the other piece--an installation of sorts--is close, close enough that I need only to resolve myself to the premise of amateurism grounding the gathering and not fret about perfecting it over the next three weeks. I'm looking forward to RSA, but the last two years have given me reason to re-think May conferences. Of course, about the title: orange blossoms, too, don't contain much juice, but we all know how that turns out with a little bit of time.
Late yesterday I scraped together a draft-entry about the Sneakitin.com kerfluffle re: sponsored CCCC panels. An interesting set of issues here, but I haven't given it the nuance it deserves, especially when there seems to be a fair amount of strong objection percolating on the lists. Much to add? No, not me. But I do think it brings up some fairly timely national convention what ifs about the proposal system, etc.
Second half's underway...
As for the meme, its followers are putting together charts or graphs motivated by song lyrics. "Consider yourself tagged if you are so inclined."
D igging through notes and receipts (expense report style):
There were many highlights, good conversations, etc. As for my own talk and presentation, I was, as I have already said, pleased with the turnout and also with the unplanned synch of the presentations. I was also happy that I stuck with one small gamble: whether or not I would be able, upon arriving in N.O., to find and photograph the apartment buildings that grace the cover of Stewart Brand's book How Buildings Learn. I could have gotten by with out this reference, and I had been warned that it might seem as though I'd written my paper while at the conference if I included a day-before photo of those buildings at 822 St. Charles Ave. But I went ahead with it, even scripted my talk so that the paragraphs where the buildings came up could be trimmed at the last minute without the rest of the spiel folding in on itself--in case the buildings were not there or a photograph was not possible. Here are the images, first of Brand's cover, and then of the same buildings on Thursday morning, just before 8 a.m.
I have a few more photos to post, and a small bundle of uneven notes to sift through before deciding whether there's anything more to post about the conference. I'm sure I'll get those photos up, at the very least, and also engage the question grounding C.15: Where's the "rhetoric"?--a question that resonates for me with a couple of thoughts on the Where are the numbers? puzzle (Where is rhetoric? Wherever you left it.) and also on the (inter)relationship of rhetoric and composition as gestalt.
T his morning's session behind me, I'm now suffering a stiff wave of Presenter's Drain, the lethargies that sneak up on me after I have presented at a conference. To compound the Drain, I changed into more comfortable attire after I completely and thoroughly Coked my shirt and pants while sitting at the hotel bar with a former colleague and mentor immediately after my session. Coking: that's what it's called when, while describing your dissertation project and gesturing enthusiastically with your hands, you catch the straw sticking out from the fresh glass of Coca-Cola that bartender placed in front of you moments earlier, only to have the cold cola splash onto your crotch and backpack. A sympathizer: "You alright?" Me: "Yeah, yeah. Fine." There was nothing to feel panicked about after presentation, which went fairly well (check out CGB's portion, if you missed it). The panel was well-attended, engaging through Q&A, and so on . Goes without saying about the soda-pants kerfluffle: I'm still enthusiastic enough about my diss that I can dump a full glass of Coke into my clothing and continue the conversation without even standing up.
Anyway, by the time I walked a few blocks in these Naw'lins winds to grab a Peace Maker Po-Boy (w/ Tabasco infused mayo) at the Acme Oyster House, the Coke had dried. The sun peaked through the clouds. The sandwich was excellent. And now, to see whether the Presenter's Drain lifts in time for evening activities.
L et's call this the "How Much I Delight in the Overlooked Fleck of Eggshell in the Egg Salad" Edition.
T wo tables over from the place in Panera where I am working this morning--hi-ho, hi-ho, they are planning an event:
"Dick said he didn't know pickles and potato chips were important.
"They were chocolate covered nuts, and they were delicious. I have been eating one or two a day just to make them last. Just one or two, and that was enough."
You can, of course, see why it has been impossible for me to concentrate. Perhaps the event they are planning is a (surprise?) party for the more or less completed draft of Chapter Four later this month, in which case, I should resolve to work elsewhere for the next two weeks.
I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, and couldn't get back to sleep for about 90 minutes. Coincidence?
O ver the last three days I have read more than twenty books from beginning to end. Granted, not one of them was more than ten or so pages long, and few of the pages were covered with words alone. In fact, fifteen of those books were Frosty the Snowman (Is. refers to this one as "Mona;" all snowmen, for that matter, are "mona" or more likely "monae"). Frosty the Mona, fifteen times. You've forgotten it?
She probably didn't realize (or care that) anybody was watching when I snapped this one while she flipped through the latest CCC, turning, no doubt, to the Revisions piece by Anne, Collin, and Jeff for something to relieve the mona earworm (what's more accurately an earfrog when I am the one sing-reading the lyrics, fifteen times over).
Few other events and curiosities to report about this quiet, restful week. I am back to ±90% of full strength and energy after a surprisingly intensive bout with the flu (an after-semester flu-crash has become an annual pattern by now, our fourth year in Syracuse). Ahead, a couple more days of laying low, flipping back and forth between sporting events on the television, and not feeling bothered that large blocks of time slip by without anything work-like to add value to them. In fact, so that Y. is not bored, I am obligated to at least eight or nine more hours of sitting on the couch and holding his new football toy just out of reach between now and the kick-off of Saturday evening's Pats-Giants game. Would it be too much with the dog-toy voodoo to call Y. "Tom Brady" for the next three days and then let him hold the ball just long enough that I can rough him up and force him to fumble?
Nah, I probably won't do that.
[we]blog · a · bi · lia (n.) [blog-uh-bil-ee-uh]
-plural noun, singular -a · bi · le
1. digital scraps, orts.
2. points worthy of posting to a blog, esp. when they are underdeveloped and list-like.
[Origin: 2007, Earth Wide Moth; n. use of L blogābilia things to be blogged, neut. pl. of blogābilis blogable]
Tonight's will be a ten item list:
N ever underestimate the profound self-knowledge that comes of reflecting on the server logs. Two days into NaWrLiYoHaSoImToSaMo, "Piaget" is the supreme attractor to E.W.M., five seductions ahead of "addams family house." Sometimes when I'm really at a loss for what to do next (you know, in my spare time), I re-google a couple of the oddities in the list to see what e-calamity I have brought about. And then, moments later, I sigh a deep sigh of bloguilt and follow it up with an entry like this one which will sooner or later tell the search engines to look here for acute insights into adequation (i.e., dead metaphors) or Vygotsky coordinates.Worse, this route credibility is underwritten largely by link-capital accumulated over years of haphazardly piling on blogroll addition upon blogroll addition.
12 12.77% piaget 7 7.45% addams family house 4 4.26% wheelbarrow full of sand border crossing. smuggler 3 3.19% the photographic message 2 2.13% adequated 2 2.13% barthes third meaning space 2 2.13% concepts vygotsky coordinates- 2 2.13% digital convergence kittler gramophone 2 2.13% earthgoogle on merucy 2 2.13% earthgoogle.com 2 2.13% http://www.earthwidemoth.com/ 2 2.13% moth bikes
Any chance I can win back a small measure of digital karma by directing those who sought "earthgoogle on merucy" to Google Mars? I'm not implying that it should count as an act of community service; but maybe "network service," or some other ironic gesture.
A side from the unmistakable Kilroy pose, most striking about this one is that we have no idea how Is. managed to set up the tripod, touch off the timer, and climb to the other side of the gate again before the camera did its thing.
S everal weeks ago, I was standing around at an outdoor get-together (picnic-like, the scene). A small gathering with people I know at a small distance. They were mostly associates of D.'s. But I got into a conversation with someone I'd met before, partner of another colleague. Whatever. These details are less important than what he said. "The -algia in nostalgia is a kind of illness." It wasn't out of the blue, this comment. And there was more to it than this. An interest in words, recollection: a passing moment in college when someone was gushing nostalgic but insisting that nostalgia was good, good for its embrace of memory. Nost-. To return home. Algos. To feel pain or sickness.
The return home can be temporal or spatial, home to moment or home to place. And the nostalgia I've been weighed down by this afternoon is a little bit of both--a chronotopic noodle-bowl, returning me to a time almost exactly nine years ago when I was in the first year of my M.A. program. What was different about my M.A. program--different from any program I was in before it or after--was that I didn't belong to a cohort. I entered the program singularly, at mid-year, called upon at the last minute when another TA slipped their obligation (an early applicant, I hadn't intended to enroll until the fall; ten days later I was teaching and taking courses). A few years before as an undergrad, there were others in my class with whom I shared a major. They were my cohort. There were two of them (three of us in all). In my current grad program, my cohort is also three. But the M.A. was different. In terms of cohorts, I was odd-out, in-between, an isolate. And so I folded in with those who came to UMKC later, in the fall of '98.
One of them emailed me today to report that another member of the cohort--the '98 M.A. group--was killed tragically over the weekend, murdered, in fact. The local news has carried a few small reports. Googling Rick's name, I found that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America posted a note about it, too. He was, as you might expect from the SFFWA reference, a sci-fi creative writer. Today I learned that he wrote a short story titled "The Gas Man" that was a hit in 1988 (contest-winning, anthologized, etc.).
Anyway, this is all just to say that I've been thinking a lot this afternoon about this awful, tragic event and also by some association about UMKC, about the second-floor open office we all shared (a large room, 20' vaulted ceiling, full-height windows, six desks, a couple of couches, file cabinets, and bookcases; also multiple copies of Writing Without Teachers on the shelves). Shared by ten or twelve TAs--two to a desk. My nostalgia is for that space, a space long since re-claimed for other uses, I imagine, and also a time when I can remember Rick very much alive and working feverishly on a short story (desk closest to the door), conferencing animatedly with a student (his conferences were some of the best, every exchange worth eaves-dropping), or kicking back and whiling away an hour talking pedagogy--those were some of the best conversations about teaching. Nostalgia. It was a good time to be at UMKC, a good time to be an M.A. student in that particular program, good as much for those reasons as for being in the company of Rick and others.
W hat the kids were doing today:
I didn't get around to taking any photos of Ph. until the second half, and although he played well, the unseasonably warm temps (a record, 85F and balmy) had everyone on the field pretty tuckered out by then. The topmost photo is of him running the right wing, getting ready to receive a pass from a teammate. The bottom photo came at the end of the match, which turned out to be a 4-1 win over Binghamton despite wrapping up seven minutes ahead of schedule due to lightning on the horizon. The middle clip--that's Is. carefree-stepping to the end-of-game tunes. She's been going to Toddler Tango sessions on most Saturday mornings, and this footage does indeed suggest that the sessions are paying off, no?
A run-down of the week:
It helped to read "How To Grade A Dissertation" as I launched into chapter one.
Writing this week was B or B-. The ongoing decisions are piled thick; one of the more challenging layers of decisions for me is just how polished to make the first draft. How will revisions go? I have to draft more before this can be settled.
Wednesday I attended a colloquium on my program's qualifying exam process. I was invited to share a select few insights into the process. When it was my turn to talk, it seemed like others had covered everything already. I talked anyway. More than anything else, I was in it for the face time. I have so few occasions to interact with those who are in coursework. Plus, with the diss, I appreciate excuses to get out of the house.
A meeting with my chair turned up some promising ideas for the first chapter. I was having a hard time differentiating the first chapter as an introduction from the first chapter as a part of the diss where I set up why this? why now? I'm fairly sure that I'm still overshooting in my sense of what chapter one can accomplish, but I have a better plan as of Wednesday than I had on Monday or Tuesday. The writing I did on those days will wind up in the actual introduction--a short introduction that will be a mini-chapter unto itself. More of a teaser and an abbreviated overview of what follows. So the few pages from early in the week will be appropriate for the intro, but I don't need to mess with that section any more until I've finished drafting and major revisions (June or July?).
Other than the diss? Shoot, let's see. I missed another of Ph.'s soccer matches on Thursday evening because I was teaching. His team won, 3-0. The class I'm teaching this fall is the best teaching I've done since I arrived in Syracuse in '04. Every session has lift to it for some reason or another. Spatial analysis projects (a defensible fit with the shared syllabus). Recently we read a chapter ("Thrashing Downtown") from Steven Flusty's The Spaces of Postmodernity. Thinking...thinking. I bought Y. a new bag of dog food this week. And a new ball. We play fetch in the back yard just about every day. But he won't fetch the new ball. He runs it down and then returns without it. What the heck, Yoki? I'm trying to cuss less. Is. is acquiring the language at a supersonic pace. And you never know who is reading the blog. What else? I swept under the couches today. Quite a few Cheerios under there, and also several of Is.'s small toys piling up out of sight. What else? At the water/sand table in the back yard this afternoon, Is. shoveled a heaping helping of sand into her mouth. Nothing can be done about this. I'm forgetting some stuff. I didn't run as far as usual this week. I've been covering 2.7 miles up to five days per week. But I ran it just three times this week. I don't know whether it's seasonal allergies, a head cold, or some other phlegmatic whatnot. Been getting roughed up in Facebook Scrabble. I'll keep playing the tiles I've got and then give it up for good.
I s. is fourteen months today, and my dad, he turned fifty-eight (uh, 696 mos.). I talked with him on the phone earlier this evening, and he shared with me a maxim from his brother (my uncle) who lives in Marquette, the metropolis of the U.P.: You're not old until your dead. Fifty-eight is the new forty, I guess.
The "pumpkins weighed" photo reminds me again of Latour's gem on scale and slowciology. I was writing about scalability last week and re-encountered the passage then, just after D. snapped this photo on an excursion to Something-or-other Farms in Cazenovia. Speaking of writing, I topped off chapter two this morning. Saved it away where it will ferment, awaiting revisions. Tomorrow, chapter one. And once again, I have a nagging sense that I should take a month just to read dissertations (ridiculous, right?...right!?). I'm not sure that I've have read one from cover to cover. Only in the case of the monographs that come out of revisions. Most of the diss-to-books are overhauled from their earlier versions. The pumpkin photo reminds me of Latour on pumpkins, which in turn reminds of me of Latour on accounts: "And most of the things we have been studying, we have ignored or misunderstood" (122).
There's so much more to say--a perfect sweet potato and ginger soup, am I getting a cold?, the great Scrabulous distraction of 2007, the Lions are 3-1 (sign of the end times?)--but I tend to feel consumed, exhausted just by writing a little bit each day toward this project. Plus I have one more conference proposal to tune up and send away this week--the last one for a while. Maybe I'll aim for a ten-entry month? Twelve?
P h. picked up a lawn-cutting gig yesterday morning. I dropped him off and proceeded to Starbucks, where I grabbed a venti Joya, doctored it up with sugar and cream, and then wandered out to a table in the sun along University Ave. Wasn't any chair at the table, so I interrupted somebody reading a newspaper--"Mind if I take that chair?"--carried the chair to the table, and sat alone with Signs Taken for Wonders, awaiting Ph.'s call for a ride home again in, say, an hour or so.
I sat next to the table where four people were meeting about forming a band. The luck! And then I tried to read, swooping in on the text momentarily only to be seduced back into unintended eaves-dropping.
The meeting involved two established members of the band--a manager (mother) and musician (daughter), and two new prospects. They were interviewing or recruiting (Concentrating on the reading: "Rather, it will be treated as a legitimate act only if it contributes towards improving the total knowledge of the text..."), engaging in cross-talk about who makes decisions, how the gigs work, how the future is wide open. Something fascinating about the pre-band, the probing and speculation, will we be famous?
I've never been in a band.
Elliptical conversation: around and around it went, and then it tightened. One of the prospects said he wanted to be on the road a year from now, whether with this band or another, didn't matter. Tension. After that, the manager asked, "If God wants you to move to Binghamton, will you?"
Spiritual rock, I guess. I didn't hear the prospects' answers. Ph. called to say that mower was leaking oil. After just 20 minutes of mowing, a moat of dark oil encircled the mower engine. And then I left with the sweet coffee, having only read a few lines, gone to pick him up again from where he'd cut half of a lawn.
F or the third consecutive year (what has happened!?), we ventured out to the NY State Fair and returned with photographic evidence of the carnivralous scene. We did not, however, make any purchases at Fairgaritaville, which proves there are still deeper depths to which we could sink.
Glancing back through the photos, we appear to have keyed on moments of judgment (the gnawed grade report commenting "white spots", the intensely focused goat judge), but we also took part in pulling fish from a trough, witnessed a train ride being repaired and reset to the tracks, and spotted the Sugar Shack where we a small bag of cotton candy won us with its spell.
ood: Ph. and the NHS soccer team participated in a four team preseason
scrimmage earlier today and went 3-0.
Bad: I am picking, spreadsheet line by spreadsheet line, through data-tat-tat--536...537...538... article authors who published in CCC since 1987.
G: Ph. rode his bike to soccer practice yesterday.
B: The cheap-o combination lock he used to secure the bike during practice refused to open at the end of practice.
G: Ph. walked home and reported the sad news of the stranded bike.
B: We drove back to the park and tried 45 or so of the 10,000 possible four-digit combinations before returning home for the hacksaw.
G: I had inspiration for a mysterious entry.
B: Nobody inquired as to why we were on the lookout for police: stealing a bike of one's own, broad daylight, public park.
G: WRT105 last night. Quite the group! An encouraging first class session.
B: Do you know how long it took to saw Ph.'s bicycle loose yesterday?
G: I created a Splashcast.
G: Ph.'s soccer schedule came out the other day. I have posted it down a couple of scroll-motions on the left sidebar.
B: All but two of the home games will be played on Tuesday and Thursday evenings--while I am teaching.
I n Google Reader, my feed-reader of choice, I accumulate digital curios, gems, and passing oddities a-plenty, and often I designate the really special treasures as such by clicking "Add Star." Trouble is, I am a pack-rat when it comes to hoarding away the starred items. Stars and the items they make twinkle are abundant; they pile up and up and up. Somehow G.R. keeps stashing them away as "saved"--logging them into my own special, if buried, collection. I need a system for releasing the starred items from their vault. And so, an installment of "Starred Items":
Even now they are not easy for me to un-star.
All done with your rice cereal and bananas?
Jog with Y. to the park for few minutes on the swings?
No more books. It's time for a nap.
Let's put in a Baby Signs DVD. "This sign means cat...."
We're just putzing around, setting the Flickr zoo pool to slideshow, and taking in a deep breath before the semestral paces descend on our lives. D. and Ph. will be home late each afternoon from the camp they're working. I'd blog more, but Is. is only good for about three hours of Baby Signs DVDs each morning. And who can blame her? Of course, with her burgeoning signcabulary, she can pretty well tell me what she wants (mixed in, the occasional plea for "Ma!"). Maybe a stroll to Bruegger's for a wheat bagel snack this afternoon. (This webcam snapshot shows just how much fun (viz., sheer delight) we are having while taking in all 16,905 images in the zoo slideshow.)
The results are positive. As far as I can tell, I actually have a personality (despite rumors to the contrary) and my intelligence is not singular but rather plural. Further, I have shifted from the ENFP profile I scored half-a-lifetime ago in high school, to INFJ. This change could indicate that 1.) I no longer go to parties or think of myself as having many close friends (also I am too embarrassed to participate in NFL Pick'em because I honestly think the Lions are going to win most weeks) and 2.) I am less relaxed (spontaneous, aloof, etc.) than I once was.
You might be impressed to learn that I have this personality type (for a limited time only?) in common with Oprah, Mother Teresa, and several more.
T oday's birthday girl tip-toed through a few steps yesterday afternoon.
B een a few months since I threw down a comfort inventory. More than a year, in fact.
Y esterday a distraught reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, came through on a search for information about "injured moth[s]." This weblog contributes embarrassingly little about what to do in the event that a moth, or any specimen of flying insect for that matter, is injured. I'm no credentialed physician, but I have had more than a fair share of sporting injuries: sprained ankles, jammed fingers, and limb dislocations. For those, ice packs aid with healing, best when applied for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours. But I suppose that's not especially helpful for an injured moth.
Certain cracks and cuts can be temporarily patched with super glue.
Also, I was told as a kid that damaging the fine coating of scales on a moth's wings will fatally injure it. Once a human touches the wing, the moth is pretty much fudged. Plan its funeral; it's a goner by morning. This is the way with many insects, isn't it? Typically, once injured, they die. They don't have a lot of bounce-back, not much means or opportunity for healing in their short, complex little lives.
You spy an injured moth. Another option is to be Kevorkian-merciful with it (Aside: Jack K. was released from prison early last month). End its suffering. Hurry along the inevitable. As inhumane as it might seem at first, moth death is a part of moth life. In fact, one of the stunning discoveries upon moving to our new house was that one window casing appeared to have been used as chamber for torturing moths. Sealed into the narrow space between the screen and the window pane, the moths must have struggled for hours before succumbing to their ultimate misfortunes.
I share this gruesome image not so much because I think it will be helpful for healing an injured moth; rather, I share it because it suggests that not everyone is so willing to rush to the assistance of moths-in-need that they search Google for remedies. It suggests that there are those who would stand by, letting nature run its unthinkably cruel course. That said, the final alternative I can recommend would be to call a local lepidopterist or veterinarian, prepared to describe the injury as vividly as possible.
H ad we 10,000 helpers, each of whom would put away just one or two items (a sock, a book, a plate, etc.) from our piles of household goods, we would be unpacked by now. But no such luck. Still, I can't complain, considering A.) we had generous, strong, and willing helpers for most of the day yesterday, B.) we returned the U-Haul truck on time (calling this crap-heap a "truck" is the highest compliment I can pay), and C.) nobody was seriously injured in the .9 mile transfer of goods. My hauling wounds amount only to bruised forearms and a blister on the tip of my right pinky toe. The battered forearms prove one more defeat by paper: the 500-lb. file cabinet pretty much had its way with me, and it has been relegated to the garage until we can lighten its contents.
Now, my five minutes for blogging have expired. Ph.'s futon frame is the one piece of furniture that spent the night in the yard, and now I must dismantle it into pieces that will fit through the narrow passages into his room. On with the next phase: Many work, light hands.
Y es we are packing.
A music video featuring a marker with a lot of juice (via).
If you watched all three clips, um, no, there are no warranties, expressed or implied, for those five minutes of your time.
T his evening's fortune: "You have an unusually magnetic personality."
Who, me? Is that "unusually magnetic" as in "tends to attract non-metallic things" such as inconveniences, headaches, problems, and nuisances of various sorts (e.g., droves of large black ants infesting our soon-to-be-former home)? Or is it "unusually magnetic" as in "tending to attract non-magnetic metals" like the aluminum carving blade/screen door I reported on last weekend? Or.... Or is it a typo, meant instead to be "magentic personality," as in the deep purply-red hue to might find upon biting into a plum?
I'm settling on number three, content that A.) I have some traces of personality left following B.) the fuchsin events of the day I've had.
Oh, fine, so I hyperbolize, but not by much. Could be the monosodium glutamates carrying over from a pile of savory General Tso tofu.
Not exactly the color scheme you'd want to use for sprucing up the CSS on your site, unless you want that site to look something like me.
Happy birthday to other notable Fifthers: Donna, KB, Marx, Soren K., and Ann B. Davis.
F rom the first week of May:
↑ Earlier today I doubled the memory in D.'s HP Pavilion Slimline by dropping in a 512MB module. The installation was static-free and fairly simple. It makes me quietly wish for more memory in my laptop.
↑ Tonight we had the breakfast foods for dinner. It's my week for meals, and we've already had pizza twice during the week. This one's a Steamboat Willie cake, best eaten with Creative Commons syrup on top. Passing the syrup bottle around the table went something like this: "Share?" "Share alike!"
↑ On this the eve of my 33rd birthday (or is it Larry Birdthay?), I took a few minutes to try out some batter art, batter art even more impressive than the mouse above: a pancake cake.
↑ And I also made a flower, inspired by the moment when the "breakfast hero" entry from MAKE flashed through my aggregator earlier this week.
↑ Tuesday's pizzas. Left: veggie; Right: pepperoni.
↑ Is. played in the grass yesterday.
↑ And was worn out. Speaking of worn out, all day long I've been fighting my eyelids after staying up to watch Golden State up-end the Mavs last night. Still, I managed somehow to mow the grass, follow along on Is.'s 9 mos. pediatric appointment, submit a CCCC panel proposal, and split an evening soccer-tennis match versus Ph. (I'm sure he let me win the second game...very kind of him, I thought).
F ollowing a conversation with our neighbor this morning about how unfortunate it was that our current house was listed for sale, I made a mental note to record this one in the Strategic Self-Improvement Log (SSIL, pronounced siz-uhl): No. 19. In otherwise pleasant Sunday morning conversations with casual acquaintances, cut down on the sweeping references to real estate agents as "sharky" and "plastic." It makes no difference whatsoever whether the other person takes a jab at realtors before you do.
Seriously, though, my bitterness is subsiding. I've had the better part of three weeks to decompress after learning of the imminent ouster from our happy digs, and ten days out of those three weeks have been focused on the impending move--a late June transfer of goods that should, landlord willing, settle us comfortably into the final residence we'll ever know in central New York.
S ince she reached eight months (on 4/1), Is. has grown keenly aware that most of the sitting posts (bouncy chair, door-frame jumper, pack-n-play, and Baby Einstein contraption) are the functional equivalent of an oubliette. I don't mean to imply that we are torturing our daughter by putting her in these what fun! places, although if you asked her (could she talk), she would almost certainly add a few indignant qualifiers. It's just that she is cognizant of the shift in attention--often away from her--when she is put in one of these devices for more or less independent play. The shift in attention might be understood as a momentary forgetting, but that's not the only correspondence: like the medieval chamber, the Einstein can only be escaped from the top.
Directly quoting the exchange between Hoggle and Sarah in Labyrinth, D. pointed out Is.'s association of the Baby Einstein with an oubliette:
Hoggle: This is an oubliette, labyrinth's full of 'em.
Sarah: Oh, I didn't know that.
Hoggle: Oh don't act so smart. You don't even know what an oubliette is.
Sarah: Do you?
Hoggle: Yes. It's a place you put people... to forget about 'em!
Why not call it a developmental stage? Had Piaget a Baby Einstein for his rugrats, he'd have accounted, no doubt, for the moment in month nine when they were--while nearing autonomous mobility--being gently cordoned off from the rising hazards on all sides. It's very much about containment for safety's sake (or so we tell ourselves). While this entry is focally concerned with my latest early childhood research, I can't resist keying on the forgetting (oublier) in its etymology as a way to extend the oubliette analogy to blogging--to the in-through-the-trap-door for safe-keeping and forgetting that describes, in part, what happens here. Einstein aids this association: ""I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a [blog]."
S ad news at the death of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. yesterday. I mention it mostly to mark the loss, to place a small × on the calendar. Curses! More thoughtful tributes than this one will, no doubt, turn up in the days ahead. I haven't read anything by Vonnegut in a few years, but discovering his writing signaled a moment for me, a steel/flint encounter as shocking as spark-producing when I (accidentally?) picked Breakfast of Champions from the shelf of Park U.'s underground library during my sophomore year of college. Vonnegut's was the first stuff I stumbled upon where I knew I had to read everything else he'd written, and then did, every kicky, smutty, banned word of it I could find--a treasure trove of zaniness, humor, and wit.
I t chills me to spend Easter Sunday--any Sunday in April for that matter--bundled indoors away from the snow and cold. But that's what I've done today. To pass the time, I sat and read/wrote/graded projects (annotated bibs plus) and book reviews from 205ers. Not altogether unpleasant (waves of impressive stuff, in fact), but I probably should take more frequent breaks. Walk away. Breathe deeply. Remember that a semester relative to Time Eternal is comparable to one hundredth of the time it takes to flick a light switch. On/Off?
Anyway, that's enough. Busy week ahead. Find a place to live. Revise and circulate the diss prospectus (set a date for another goal-line defensive stand). Cap the "church league" regular season with a showdown against Northwestern. Draft some CCCC '08 proposalificence for collective tuning. Conference with 205ers. Settle home-again travel arrangements from C&W next month (trains out of Motown?). Post notes on Pemberton's "Modeling." Put in for fall teaching preference. And then on Tuesday....
P h. and I whistled into the Syracuse train depot yesterday afternoon; we're home from the excursion to the conference. Everything is unpacked, laundered, put away.
I have plans to put the paper to an mp3 and sync it with the slides. I can do this, of course, because my talk was scripted. It's endlessly reproducible as a result. But recording will have to wait until I shake off the cough-inducing tickle that has been getting the best of me all day today. Sure, I could delete out any of the hacking and rattling that makes its way into the mix, but why? I'll just wait it out.
I turned in my travel receipts today, worked through a bit of grading and response, and circulated my diss prospectus draft to the committee for review at their convenience. That's enough for this day. More grading tomorrow. And I have to exchange a shirt at the JC Penney store and drop off the lawn mower for repair. The grass isn't green and growing just yet, but the snows have backed down so that only small, sparse, melting pockets interrupt the brown of yard, bold in their last stand against spring's rain and regreening.
A few more crumbs from the conference: here's the slideshow that went along with my talk at CCCC.
And the links to the beta testing (i.e., impermanent) spaces for the clouds and the maps:
If things go well, I'll have the audio of the full talk added to the slideshow and posted by week's end (which week?...excellent question).
H ilarious, infuriating, or both (neither?), all depending on your political ilk:
Two unnamed family members bear equal responsibility for directing me to this.
I n the Isiverse, sun-shaped figures always evoke a smile.
L ike burdocks to a sock! Like lollipop drool to the shirt of a tyke! Like tongue to a frigid steel flagpole on the playground! Like the gunk trail left by that Kerry-Edwards bumper decal! Here's some stuff that sticks. Monday Aggregator Cleanup is the solvent.
Crayola Figures (via). Diem Chau carves crayons. An aesthetics of the wax museum merged with vibrant colors and the pure-seeming materiality of the crayon. This prompts me to think back to the rabid crayon-shaving in some (hurry up! just 45 minutes) elementary school art class so that we could create a wax-paper-ooze greeting card (is that right?). In the mixed detritus of bright flakes was an accidental melt: a kaleidoscope of it doesn't matter. We overlooked that the crayons could be carved into miniatures.
Yranoitcid (via). The OneLook Reverse Dictionary works from definition, even hazy approximations and phrasal guesses, to come up with a list of possibilities. The counterlookup. Includes wildc?rd features for those times you can remember only part of a word.
Draft Reinstatement (via). Support the war; support the draft? Rangel's logic: Let's reinstate the draft so that the politician-parents will sit up, feel more personally involved. Oy. And check this from Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "Graham said he believes the all-voluntary military 'represents the country pretty well in terms of ethnic makeup, economic background.'" Also, gone to the ether are two minutes of my life I wasted glancing here.
Frontal Lobe Junction, or The Renewed Tie Between Brain and Train (via). Japan-based Hitachi Corp. has developed a brain-machine conduction system, using brain scans ("optical topography") and indications of blood flows ("hemoglobin concentrations"), subjects wearing a wig-of-nodes were able to turn on and off a toy train. The future of telekinesis, on the market in five years. Which reminds me: In the fourth grade, the teacher riffed on dimwitted comments by saying something like, "When they formed the line for brains, he thought they said 'trains', and he left on the next one." Clever the first time, but gradually more unsettling each of the eight thousand times he repeated it that year (the same year I passed out one day from holding my breath too long?). Just saying that one-line haunt from childhood won't be the same from now on.
T o the email inbox came a solicitation from the Mystery Shoppers Association a couple of days ago. The MSA was recruiting me with a series of links: "Click to become a Take Out Critic." I was enticed by the offer to review delectable meals from Wendy's, Chuck E. Cheese's, Arby's, and so on, but unfortunately I had to decline (or, more exactly, delete the email). I'm doing my very best already to manage a wildly long and demanding list of obligations (i.e., qualifying exams).
Still, mystery shopping is something I could get into some day. Until then, here are the few puzzlers I'd sell to anyone on the lookout for perplexity. Five cents apiece:
J ust two sets of treat-seekers tonight and zero tricks. D. and Ph. stopped next door so that baby-do could get some mileage from her costume, and the neighbors said they'd had twenty-five kids solicit the candy. Why the drop-off when we're just one house away? Who knows. Maybe the meek few were frightened off when they heard the dull, grumbling kitchen-table banter between me and Ph. over the math homework: trinomials into ordered pairs, graphing parabolas. Quiz tomorrow. That's right, it is time for bed, but I am going to open just one Hershey's Mallow-Jel before I call it a night: "Marshmallow with Chocolatey Coating and Grape Filling," the wrapper tells me. For anyone looking to do some extended sweets-collecting, I expect that we'll be handing out the Mallow-jels for the first few days of November (that or stirring together a Mallow-jel sweet potatoe pie recipe for later in the month).
I found one abandoned in the classroom where I taught this afternoon. After the session, I eagerly leafed through the book for any identifying marks. My intense efforts at textual forensics yielded one tiny clue: a workout plan for Thursday, May 4, with four of the seven items checked as if to designate "done!" Turns out I'm no Don Foster. So, rather than returning it to its rightful and unknown owner, I left it on the desk in the room, figuring that anyone with so few plans might actually have time to saunter on by and retrieve it.
Finding anonymous's planner prompted me to look through my own "DayMinder 2006/2007" for identifying marks. Next to none! Only copier codes and door handle combinations (for the mail and copy room). Some plan for 2006-2007.
F lickr recently passed 250 million images (via). To mark the occasion, I tried to complete one game of Flickr tile Sudoku, but quit because I started to feel as though my eyes were about to fail (via). A box full of 429817635 it ain't. Sudoku!
Also open in the tabs of my tabbed browser:
H ere's how this afternoon's writing went, expressed in a schematic illustration with precise measurements:
Nah. I'm kidding around. But I figured, *shrug,* what the hell? Having a bit of dryness at the blog, why not post a schematic of a toilet bowl and feature it as a commentary on the occasional struggle involved in writing. Plus, that way I'll have a grand total of 19 entries in the month of September--making this a solid lock for second-highest effort in the 2006 blogging campaign.
To the News & Notes list
N ot shot in the sense of yet another bout of nonproductivity. Even if it wasn't a day spent checking things off in the good-students-read-every-day column of my qualifying exam list, I got a few things accomplished:
No ordinary Tuesday in what this list reflects. You see, we're readying for
guests from the land of
milk and honey Koegel's and Faygo Red.
Yeah, D.'s folks and sister will be here tomorrow through the weekend, so some
spiffing up was in order. I also managed to inch ever nearer to a viable draft
of a book review that's coming due (mostly reading and note-making).
I say "shot day" because this morning Is. toughed through her first pediatric appointment since the one she had at six days old. Routine stuff: at 8 lbs. 11 oz., she's still in the flyweight class and 10th percentile (i.e., small) for her age, albeit that her age is equivalent to two weeks if you grant her some calendric leniency (deducting # of weeks early (5) from her present age (7 wks)). Only seems fair. Still, they went ahead with vaccinations. Shots, that is. Four total: two per thigh. Before the nurse administered them, D. and I had a few minutes alone with whitepapers for each shot explaining risks, what to expect, and so on. I don't remember reading anything about sore legs, but my.oh.my. Sore? More crying today than in the last seven weeks combined.
The shot theme: still there's more. Ph. returned from his soccer match to report a 9-1 win against cross-town rivals. The surprise in this piece of news is that they faced the same team in the summer league and lost, 2-1. I really don't have any idea how many shots-on-goal came from either side. Probably more than nine. But I'll not try to persuade Is. that her four were fewer by any measure.
A team of icon-figures as unique as DNA: myscot wheel.
Min. qualification: at least one student year.
M y 06-07 NCTE Professional Resources catalog arrived in the mail yesterday. I leafed through it, giving it a thorough looky-loo, and while I was curious to find more kits than ever before, here are a few of the literacy education kits I did not find. Maybe next year.
N ow with Is. the average age in the house has plummeted to a youthful 16.1 years of age. It began with Y. back in May. For Mother's Day, a puppy. He reverse-aged us from 26.7 back to 20.1. Fun, but not as bounding-barefoot-in-the-grass as 16.1. House rules fly swiftly and irretrievably out the door, you can imagine, when D. and Ph. are away (errands, soccer practice, and whatnot). Then the average age drops to 10.9. We, the left-behind, raid the sugar stashes (until embarrassing mounds of Starburst and H.Kiss wrappers pile up), play PS2, and assume an altogether me, care? attitude toward the day's demands. It's a riot--a bona fide sugar ball, even if it's not exactly the best arrangement for exam reading.
Merely for illustration (via):
G ood riddance to a soggy, steamy July--at once blazes quick and also unbearably sluggish. I've capped off the month with the following:
I can't think of anything else I need to say about July.
1 . Ducklings. We returned from the Water, Precious Water concert Sunday afternoon, and everything seemed benign-usual, well, other than the state of Onondaga Lake and world water crises. Besides that, I mean. I snapped the leash onto Y.'s collar and into the backyard we bebopped. There we found a distressed-seeming duck and heard a chorus of chirps. Steady help-us peeps floated from the window well close by. Foreseeing that Y. would only fuel the strange animal energies, I tugged him back inside. D. and I went to the basement where, through the screen, we observed four small, squabbling ducklings bobbing around the window well with their clumsy, random flap-n-jumps. Were they there by accident? Were they stuck? Hungry? Given the cool temps, D. suggested they might have been attracted to the heat (why is heat pouring out of an open basement winter in June? That's another matter altogether.) Still, we weren't sure whether they could get out, and we've watched a fox amble through the yard a couple of times in recent weeks. Their urgent chirping and the mother duck's display of uneasiness left us deliberating whether or not to ramp them out (a cardboard ramp?). The reliable internets shone a light on the dilemma we were in: the ducks are federally protected. Tampering with them is a roll of the dice with Law. We waited, hoping, meanwhile, that they wouldn't expire there. And then--the stuff of fairy tales--they were gone.
2. Ants. This one is easy. An infestation. Out from the kitchen walls they march, hurrah hurrah. But all the food is contain(er)ed, and I've laid down enough Terro to, pray-it-works, constrict their sweetness-sucking little throats. Fine, so it's not on par with odd happening #1. Still. This next one is:
3. Parking garage derby. Today we're at the CNY Medical Building parking garage. D.'s in for a routine baby-check. Ready for this? We spiral through the parking garage until the fourth floor where spaces begin to open up. 9:13 a.m. A lt. blue minivan two cars ahead of us was driving in lurches, as if every next space must be the one. Patterned: sprint. Stop. Sprint. Stop. I parked the Element. We hopped out, walked over to the elevator, where we waited. The van was finally parking; as we walked, the driver waved us ahead. Go ahead, walk in front. The one was next to where we stood, waiting for the elevator to arrive. And then: the van sped into the spot and rammed the steel guard rail. Fiberglass and plastic splintered, sailing everywhichway. And the driver, her window down, was repeating, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Her teenage son, resting in the passenger side with his crutches (a broken lower appendage; an appointment for which they were late?), sat there, shocked as we all are. Who was she apologizing to? Explained that she went for the brake and missed. Judging by the rate of impact, though, I'd say the missed brake meant a centered hit for the accelerator. Helluva unfortunate way to smash a van, and an odd happening because I'd never witnessed anything quite like it. Parking garages already feel awkward to me (low ceilings, all concrete and steel), now, even more so.
4. Garage door cable. Around noon, D. went to water the planter-people on the front step. Pressed the garage door opener: a loud crack (or two). One of the door-lifting cables snapped. Being a heavy-built door (1950's heavy, that is), the uneven weight yanked loose a garage rafter. Oy. And with the Element, our only motor vehicle, nestled smartly inside, what could we do next. So I phoned our landlord, and he got on it. The repairs were underway within two hours and finished before another hour passed. Still, strange enough to be an O.H.
I . Deadline was last Friday for my GEO781 paper; already, papers have been returned to our mailboxes and final grades are in the MySlice system. Already! And I have yet to turn in either of my other two papers, although one is Done, and the other is Nearly Done. Now what I appreciate about the first course is the openness about this certainty: the paper I could write by May 5 is an exact match in quality with the paper I could write by May 13, only with one week less fretting about a troika of impending deadlines. I hereby propose the second week of May be officially recognized as "Done" Week. Come Friday, that's how I hope to be celebrating it, anyhow.
II. Went to the Syracuse SPCA this afternoon to see the dogs. Very strange to be alone at a kennel at two in the afternoon. I could easily see which ones were the runaways let loose (or lost/escaped) from cushy homes and which were the chew-your-leg-off types. Distressing scene, the dog pound: despair in the air. The barkers--whether stirred by fright or by rage--fill up the space with such mayhem that the cool-styled dogs, if they have any glint at all, sit in the corner, repressed and with full-body shakes. Panicked.
III. Hey, so it's off my chest, I have this to confess: I just killed a hornet with Tactics of Hope. Pop! (I'm allergic). That said, it would only be fair to offer up a word of praise for Mathieu's book. I read it early last week (for what was going to be our penultimate class session in 712...now postponed). Good stuff in there on strategic vs. tactical projects when undertaking community-based literacy programs.
IV. I spent most of the day Saturday at the Syracuse Black Odyssey Conference and co-led an hour-long workshop on weblogs. Stopped home for a few minutes before tracking up to the soccer fields for a NHS JV vs. varsity spring soccer scrimmage. Ph. and the other JVers shocked the older group, 4-3. So what if the JV coach was the field judge? Looked fair to me. Oh, and Ph. knocked in the second goal. Which reminds me, he needs a new ball for dribbling and juggling around the house. Which also reminds me, anyone interested in joining an '06 World Cup pool? Coming late May: I'll set it up if I can find a host.
V. Back to the orthopedic today. Why can't I walk on the stairs, Doc? It's been four stinking months since I spoiled my left knee in a pickup game. Walking has gotten better, but no jogging and no stairs without pain. The pressing matter: a basketball camp in early June. I'll be flying to Phoenix, bussing out to Whiteriver, Ariz. And I'll need to be able to jog. Not run. Not play full bore. Not dunk. But jog (or else it'll be colossally embarrassing). So Dr. Here're-Your-Options told me I could a.) prefer modified activity (a.k.a. no jogging), b.) take a shot of cortisone or c.) miss the camp altogether and surgically raze the cartilage ulceration or d.) surgically bore out the ulcerated area and patch it in with a piece of non-essential tissue from elsewhere in the knee. Answer for today: b.
I f I had cat pics, I'd emulate Donna's b-day entry. But I don't. So here's this.
It's the closest I have: a cat pose from 1974 (or '75?). And because I'm too busy today to put together anything that compares to the past two self-celebratory 5/5 entries, it'll do. Probably didn't have a clue back when the photo was taken (judging by my expression) that I'd be spending the better part of my thirty-second wishing for six pages of decent writing for a seminar paper. Well, okay, and wishing, too, for an iPod accessory. Oh, yes, and dinner followed by MI3 later on.
Older, but not necessarily farther from childhood or nearer to being adult-serious.
Felicidades to the other fifthers--Donna, Marx, K.Burke (KBlarious), Ann B. Davis and the rest.
W ell yes, I suppose it could be perceived to be a grim preview depending on which side of the gape you call home. Oh, workpile!
I 've had my head in the grad-sand of late with all that might be expected of year and semester 2.2 in the four-year PhD program. Now that I'm on the verge of spring break, I am doing my best to brace for an amazingly productive and regenerative month of March (I know it's the 7th, but we're due to exceed freezing temps tomorrow...finally). And I say "verge" because I still have one class that meets tomorrow evening (albeit virtually for this particular session), and I'm down for leading the chat-client discussion on Ronald Eglash's African Fractals, what's proven to be a provocative read through issues of pattern/math language, design and fractals. We're also IMing for an hour with the editor of a book we read earlier this semester.
After that, break is officially underway, and it includes highfalutin plans for fine-tuning my qualifying exam lists. I have loosely defined areas, and although I haven't yet formalized a committee, I want to spend three days of the break fixing the lists (which are still very much under construction) and write a half page or so on each exam toward proposals. I don't have any strict deadline for this work, but I've been finding respite in stealing moments for future work, ahead of this semester. In those moments when I lack energy for the current lineup of seminar projects (nah, it's not as bad as I'm making it sound) or when I have the slightest impulse to work on exam lists, I do it. That simple. And why not? It's all going to get done one way or the other before the middle of May.
Here is what's up for the next fourteen days:
D. and Ph.'s birthdays (exactly one week apart); this'll make the average age
in our house 26.33.
In no special order, they're wishing for 1. a dog, 2. a laptop, 3. car detailing and wash, 4. dinner at Pastabilities, 5. something I've forgotten.
Firm up CCCC pieces
Read Devitt's Writing Genres
Read Spinuzzi's Tracing Genres Through Organizations
Read three articles for GEO plus an outline and annotated bib for that paper
Read Weheliye's Phonographies (plus turn out two 1pp response paper, nos. 8 and 9 of 10 this sem.)
Drafting of 651 paper
Roughing out a New and Improved! teaching philosophy statement
Some other work converting 78 slides to jpegs and making a keynote address web-ready
Wallowing in the NCAA Conf. tourney coverage and early rounds of the Big Dance
And if I'm lucky enough to win the good graces of my slow-to-act health care provider, an MRI...any day now.
T he loosest terms going, or the first five entries to the laxicon of free-floaters:
1. Interactive (adj): between something or other and something else
2. Social (adj): A. togethering and whatnot; B. with people
3. Technology (n): A. tools and such; B. the intricate logics of tools and such.
4. Discourse (n): language stuff
5. Image (n): A. any of a number of lookseegawks; B. a picture
Nah, I'm not calling for constricted usage. Yet these are a few of the ones that, when they get used, stir me to quietly wondering just what's meant. Simply, they're ballooning with connotations.
1. I finally made an appointment to get my knee checked out. Problem: I am sick at the prospect of seeing a PCP for a referral to an orthopedic who will have to see me twice and maybe even three times. Yeah, Dr. offices are fine for reading. Still, I'm wrecked by the whole process--deep-felt dread. I thought everything was healing up nicely, but when I went to straighten the bed this morning (making the bed, lazy style), I bent toward the floor and felt a flash-o'-lightening jolt run through my leg parts. Knee's been in puffed-out crisis the whole time since.
3. Floodlight-bright moon beams split the venetian blinds and shone straight on my eyes at 4:30 a.m. Woke me up, and I couldn't get back to sleep. Guess it's that phase in the semester when a heap of projects demand attention (and real reading-writing time).
4. Good session tonight in 651, some lift in that. Returns: figures of the griot and watcher. Lots of other stuff, too.
5. Noticed a half-flat tire on the Element when I got home after class tonight and a metal-something sticking up from the rubber edge. Can't will it away, so I ran it up to the Quick-n-Go for a dose of new air. Counting on Michelin luck to carry me through until I can get it patched (weekend, Monday?).
6. My iTunes collection was unusually iUninspiring today. Nothing sounded quite right; no fault of the speakers.
7. One writing program I envy.
7. Watson proposals in fourteen days. Lost in fourteen minutes. Coincidence?
E arlier today I was in the office reading for 651 (Afrofuturism), and I came across a short story by Linda Addison called "Twice, At Once, Separated." We're reading all 34 pieces in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, then discussing those 400+ pages during next Wednesday's class session. Addison's piece is difficult to sum up. It involves Xotama, the protagonist, who refuses to go along with her arranged marriage despite cultural pressures and custom. Persuaded by anxious dreams, Xotama senses inhibition, and it turns out that the interference is coming an alter ego of sorts, a haunting figment of near self. Xotama pursues the source of knowledge about the dream; she goes on a journey to visit the all-knowing Ship, the vessel carrying her and others like her who can morph themselves into various creatures (eels, etc.). The Ship, using a cast of Watchers, functions as a kind of comprehensive cultural memory-machine, aggregating all of the activities and knowledge of its inhabitants.
Xotama approaches the Ship with questions about her sense of inhibition, the disturbing doubleness, and the Ship presents her with an explanatory vision: at birth, Xotama had a twin. "They were exactly the same, except for the sliver of a moon birthmark on Xotama's face" (204). In a half-reality where they can sense each other only through touch, Xotama discovers her twin, whom she calls Notama. Xotama and Notama have lost time, but Xotama fancies recovering her sister into full existence, bringing her back to life, in effect. They consult the Ship's "neural web," the totality of experience taken in by the senior "Watchers." But it proves overwhelming for Notama, and the experiment ends. Xotama returns from the half-reality of the dreamscape and proceeds with her plans, marrying, etc.
The Xotama-Notama reunion reminded me of an article from New Scientist my brother described to me when we stopped through Detroit over the holidays. Basically, it was about a case of human chimerism in Boston a few years ago. "Jane," a 52-year-old woman in need of a kidney transplant, learned that her DNA didn't match with the DNA of two of her three sons. How could this be? As well as doctors could determine, she carried two sets of DNA--the result of a fusion of non-identical female twins sometime between conception and the medicalization of the pregnancy. "Jane" seemed to be herself and her twin in this way; two sets of DNA constituted her biosystem, and, ultimately, one set went to one of her sons while the other set went to the other two sons. Various reports on this story suggest that upwards of fifteen percent of all humans could reflect similar variations of chimerism (not to mention "microchimerism" or the quality of a baby's genetically-coded cells lingering in the mother's body beyond birth, long enough to be passed on to subsequent children, according to the BBC piece).
Given that twinning is such a common theme in the speculative fiction I've been pouring over in the last ten days, and given that the class is also attending to the penultimate trope for African American rhetorics--Dubois' double-consciousness (alt. Paul Miller's multiplex consciousness)--the science of chimerism, as thinly elaborated in the linked articles, has been on my mind lately, both because it brings up a number of confounding issues but also because, at a more abstract level, it suggests a compelling metaphor for identity, identification and individualism as well as dialectic and fusion.
Added: Odd, a year ago today it was "Tweening."
T aurus (April 20-May 20): The energy and enthusiasm you sense at the start of your day will soon be displaced by the unbearable deeps of mouth cavity x-ray hell at your a.m. dental appointment--the first with a new dentist. You'll consider requesting an x-ray of your mangled kneepulp while they're at it but then realize that you couldn't ask if you wanted to because the sharp-edged x-ray tabs are so firmly lodged in the soft tissue beneath your tongue that the salty tears of death-in-a-dental-chair are welling up. Ten images left...ninth one, bite down...hold. At your initial appointment, a "consultation" involving x-rays and an exam, you'll learn of an afternoon cancellation--a 2:00 p.m slot freed up for you to return later for a cleaning. Sweet luck, because otherwise you'd have to wait to April to get your smilers degunked and shined. You'll accept the appointment. On returning to the densist's chair later in the day, another hygienist will make small talk with you while going hyper-jab-wild with the small metal hook-scraper, knitting those healthy gums into a slick bloodrow of wrecked mouthflesh. Your only comfort will be her bringing up the Superbowl, the weather, the approach of Valentine's Day, and the visit to her daughter's school last week to kick off this, Dental Hygiene Month. Meanwhile the smooth and timeless sounds of Lionel Ritchie ("Say You, Say Me") and Joe Cocker ("You Are So Beautiful") merge into soothing synch with the scratch-scratch of steel hooks grinding against enamel.
You're everything I hoped for
You're everything I need
You are so beautiful to me
You are so beautiful to me
P ut your semantic-iconic quicks to the test by playing Fastr, a Flickr-based tag-guessing game (via). I was in the lead for the better part of a round yesterday, but then I blanked on a series tagged "youth" (or "young", I forget) and wound up ninth.
I n case you overlooked it, it's never too late to check out yesterday's Found Objects Zen. Arguably worthy of a few minutes of your time: 10Eastern's Found Photos (a few bizarre, some ordinary-nothings), Look At Me (portraits of unknowns), and Swapotorium (a blog about junk).
L est my wisecrack to C. the other day about my resolve to blog just once per week in the new year prove true, I really ought to get back into a groove with this business. One at a time. Fifteen minutes at a time. I've run across a few momentarily interesting links, considered shoving them into this space. Seconds later, they're lame. But there's always the stuff of life to rescue me from blogthargy. At dinner tonight, for example, over reheated chicken noodle soup (home-cooked, no less, and stirred up to give an edge to D. in her battle against the villainous flegm-phunk), Ph. said something witty about chin-ups in P.E. Chin-ups, eh? Yep, he said. Scored a 38. So I was thinking chin bar, pull-ups...etc. "Impressive." And then..."Overhand or underhand?" Not even close. The 21st-century "chin-ups," turns out, simply involve a measure from the floor to the chin while the back-arching student maxes out in an upward dog position. I'm fending off the urge to invoke the presidential fitness testing jokes, relate it to Bushyacation programs such as No Child Left Behind. Floor to chin, in centimeters. Thirty-eight, eh? Guess that's blogable. Less so: that I tried it myself and managed a limber 44 cm (just getting onto the floor sets my shoulders to popping, flared my knees with pain, etc.). Even less so: those tasty flavored Triscuits and the talk about "What sort of Triscuits are they?" Followed by, shrug. Followed by, "Box says, Deli Style Rye." And so on.
Really, though, I've been jamming on CCC Online, working ahead on the archive, making the PDFs even more portable, running an OCR over their imageforms, touching up the text files, and cranking out keyword sets. Also, doing a bit of course-developer oblige, answering questions, sprucing up course materials, and so on. And resuming a workout regimen that spelled body-magic a few years ago. And ordering books for my final semester of coursework. And (re)reading through a few articles for a miniseminar next week (Ede, Logan, Fulkerson, Fleming and Yancey). And sneaking a few minutes of March Madness 2006 for the PS2. And reading Scott McCloud. And torture-eating, piece by colorful piece, through a two-pound baggieful of rock candy while worrying about my aging, weak, rotting enamel. And scheduling dentist appointments, etc. More than I realized, turns out.
Y eah, yeah, yeah.
Sorry, ewm. I've been occupied in the busiest of ways. And we're starting to get those concerned (but cautious) glances, the look: "hey fella, you know your blog looks abandoned?" Somebody find a stick. But it's okay. All in central NY is absolatesemesterly fine and dandy. Forecast: regular-ish blogging on regular-ish subjects again very soon.
T here: we're finally living in the new neighborhood. The boxes and plastic bins were heavy; the furniture, we loaded it onto the U-Haul truck despite persistent flurries throughout the day on Wednesday (Ph. was great about sweeping the loading ramp between items). With just a few small remnants left back at the old apartment, I'd say we're fully and finally moved in. Did you know U-Haul leases their crappiest trucks for local moves? It's true. Odometer showed over 181-thousand miles, and the cargospace was filthy (plus, broken tail light); nonetheless, it managed to chug herky-jerky-like through the streets of E. Syracuse (no more than a total of a few miles by the time we had it returned to the store).
My latest favorite instrument: the appliance dolly. The controlled-turn belts on the back of the dolly prevented the injuries and severe fatigue I would have surely endured without the device. Because the belts lock after each step-down, I repeatedly avoided the part I envisioned over and over where I slip and tumble helplessly into a sprawlform of bruised and broken extremities.
Present plans: A restful evening (not that yesterday wasn't restful; it was...but the drive home was, uh, very very snowy...torment-by-blizzard, foot-per-hour snowy for the first 20 miles or so). With proper motivation I'll be back to deep and intensive bookishness tomorrow and Sunday--a more focused read-n-write routine.
Oh, and you should pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal tomorrow. There'll be an article in it about weblogs. I haven't read the story yet, but I'll try to say more about it once I do.
H ave I got a problem from you.
A father is now 24 years older than his son. In 8 years, the father will be twice as old as his son will be then. Find their present ages.
We could just ask them, but they're made up. No trouble finding the answers, however: the fictive kid is 16 and the fictive father is 40. So what's the problem? Showing work. We have to lay down the operations every step of the way. Ph. and I have tried it a couple of ways, but the equations both wind up coming out to 40. And it's about process, not outcome, you see.
Whatever comes of it, I will take algebra over the -ar verb conjugations in odd contexts from last night's Spanish homework and the chemistry of life test prep from Monday night (heavy on vocab...ionic and covalent bonds, solute, solvent, suspension, adhesion, cohesion, polar molecules).
Z ip code picture. Click on the map; see your zip code's picture. It's really that simple. The project is only slightly more complicated when you consider that a zip code, according to the note at the site, "is not a geographical area but a route which may not be definable as a polygon." So a zip code could be a broken pathway, in a sense; a route that doesn't close onto itself--a delivery loop (mail'll come again tomorrow...and the next day, polygon or no polygon). Here's the picture of my zip code. I see it as the back of an owl who was stung with a blow dart. Or an awl.
The latest copy of NCTE Inbox showed up today, and one of the links pointed to this article from the Hartford Courant declaring, "The Handwriting Is On The Wane." Curious title, I thought, so I followed the link and found a series of delightfully old-fashioned observations from teachers who share concerns about gradual demise of handwriting.
Relying more and more on e-mail, blogs, websites, instant messaging and other electronic forms of communication, students at all levels are forgetting the fine art of handwriting, educators say. Cursive script, the graceful looping style that connects one letter to another, might be going the way of the inkwell and the fountain pen.
While I was reading up on the handwriting endisms, bemusing how unbearable my day would have been had I attempted to handwrite the near-2,500 words of endnotes responding to a partial set of 307 projects, I decided I'd prove once and for all that my handwriting skills have withstood a reliance on "e-mail, blogs, websites, instant messaging, and other electronic forms of communication." And so I filled out my dad's birthday card, slowly and in my best script, resplendent with swishy, swooping smoothness. Took it to the office, where the envelope waited, and where I would check it against D.'s eye for such things. "Decent handwriting, yeah?" I said, almost proud of my finest Denelian. She: "It's connected print. Do you know the difference?" Um. No. I. Don't. All the same. When Dad gets it, the handwriting...it's a special blend of connected print and disconnected handwriting.
This link--last of the three I wanted to share--will send you to the hottest (well, smokiest, sauciest) weblog in the Midwest: Gremlin Grill--Kansas City Barbecue. Burnt meat. Recipes and foodstuff. BBQ contests and beer-capades. A cool flaming-car logo.
A collection of stuff I don't want to pass up:
I used to have one of the bright yellow Sony Walkmans used here to house an iPod. Used to. So I spent 30 minutes rummaging through the boxes of junk we have stored in the attic. Didn't find it. If I can find one, I'd sure like to give the conversion a try (via).
Earlier this week, at Bush's speech in Utah, at least one person in the crowd donned "Bullshit Protector" ear covers. Boing Boing picked it up; there's a link to a PDF so you can make your own, good for those times when, you know, it's possible that what you're hearing has some BS mixed in.
The CBA's Dakota Wizards have hired former Baylor scandal-maker Dave Bliss (via). Wow. The coach who "made mistakes," such as doing his best to cover up, well, a helluva lot of criminal activity in his program is able to find work again coaching basketball? Wizardry indeed. At the same time Cincy is parting with 16-year head basketball coach Bob Huggins, whose reputation for being acerbic and even downright rude (indifferent attitude toward his players' life-beyond-sport?) is well-known.
From Kairosnews, this link to an entry suggesting "The demise of the geek bloggers." But the evidence of this vanishing is somewhat suspect. We're seeing a consumerist expansion among weblogs (more business blogs, more corp stuff), but the "demise" is just as likely a re-positioning in the power law curve. The shift of geek bloggers from the top 50 spots in Technorati doesn't necessarily mean that they're vanishing. Instead, it means that they're not as tightly clustered or well-linked as the blogs that are filling up the head of the curve (extroverts or consumer blogs, as the article names them). Since we rarely perceive blogspace as a total structure (I mean that it's not singularly apprehend able; we can't see it all at once), the shift of geek bloggers or any other nested micro-cluster doesn't necessarily reflect a drop in blogging activity. Yes?
Good chance that we're heading out to the NY State Fair this afternoon. Photos later (yeah, I'll be the one holding the cotton candy and elephant ears and camera while my kid goes on all the rides...maybe D. will go on some of the stuff, too; as for me, no kicks in jamming my knees into a jostling metal bar over and over again).
I f spoilers follow, they're slight.
Skeleton Key: Kate Hudson acts the part of a New Jersey college student who, mourning the loss of her father, shifts her work to hospice care, easing the dying to the end. Naturally, she lands a gig in a hoodoo-haunted Bayou mansion (is this the same place Forrest Gump was filmed?) many miles from the closest city, a shadowy and unkempt house where much mystery and mayhem ensues, tensions build, and the spirited plot (in four words: need more brick dust) creeps onward.
It's fresh enough and solid enough that I don't want to flatten it out too much here. I'd say it's styled in the tradition of Twilight Zone; the double entendre on skeleton key is something like Rod Serling would've devised (or so I was reminded, not that I'm really not very well studied in this kind of thing). And its PG-13 rating is just about right considering that it's just a little bit sexy, a little bit surprising, and a little bit bizarre. On the verge of the stuff of nightmares, especially given John Hurt's stroke-stricken character, Ben Devereaux, who coughs, gasps, and makes wide eyes throughout his drawn out victimization. And yes, it also includes to at least one painfully unoriginal one-liner; a groaner I was disappointed that the writers/directors/producers didn't have enough good sense to trim. Formula: high-suspense moment when imperiled character breaks in with ridiculously obvious statement; everyone laughs in relief (although there's really nothing much funny about what's happening).
And so I recommend the movie with the caveat that it's a mid-grade pop-suspense success and also something of a puzzler--one you, if you're like me (which you might not be), will think over for a few minutes, seriously expecting unforgivable gaps in the story. But I was satisfied that the resolution was much less detectable than the same in The Sixth Sense, which is to say that if you know how it's going to turn out, my take on on Skeleton Key slides all the way from decent down to why bother. I'm stopping now before I've said too much.
V ia information aesthetics, I came across this entry on "email erosion." An enclosure houses a block of biodegradable foam subject to sprays of water triggered by a stream of discourse--emails sent to bots in this case. As I understand it, the email-analyzing algorithm activates the bots that patrol each side of the container; under certain conditions, the bots let loose with the water and the block of foam dissolves.
"At the end of the show, the remaining foam, if any, is a finished sculpture."
A what-if: Say we turn this model toward disciplinarity, devise a set of bots and systematic squirts, then channel everything reflective of a discipline (pick your discipline, why not?): journal articles, listservs, syllabi, student work, weblogs and textbooks. Anything that passes as information, anything indicative of the field, noetic and technic. After 30 days, what would the sculpture look like? After 30 years? (We might imagine twenty foam blocks, each assigned a discursive stream.)
Now, do you mind if I change lanes to the despondency thread on WPA-L from yesterday? I subscribe in digest, so I don't know where this thread is going today. I'm sure it's going. And I won't try to offer any summary or critique here. I only want to point a finger at it because I've been thinking a lot about disciplinarity lately, about what it means to identify oneself with a particular disciplinary formation--to say I'm a compositionists or a rhetorician or a comp-rhetor. What other ways to put it? Flexing with despondency or resplendence, whole disciplines are really difficult to characterize. And yet, the meta-disciplinary hum is fairly regular, ongoing. Where am I headed with this? Well, the "email erosion" got me thinking (more than I was already) about the ways we have of talking about disciplinarity--of anecdotal accounts of encounters with ill-informed contrarians and others unaware of the work we busy ourselves with OR of typically broader inferences drawn from conference programs (thinking of CGB's fallacies of scale), textbooks, journals, publishers and their book-types, graduate programs and other histories (such and such event(s) led to Y or coincided with n). What else?
If we had yet another way of perceiving disciplinarity, such as this exhibit, what might it tell us? What shape, this disciplinary sculpture? And would anyone admire it? Or would the green foam wholly erode (too much water pressure), leaving behind an empty glass enclosure? Sure, we'd still have the bots. And another block of foam?
Related: Pulsart: "a physical installation that represents level of activity (of family members or museum visitors, measured by a pulse-meter in form of a ring or a bracelet) by water running down blocks of salt." We could use one of these at the Palmer House in '06.
D . and Ph. are safely home from their trip, unpacking from these two weeks. This morning they talked me through this set of photos from the trip, after which I went ahead and uploaded them to D.'s Flickr account. I hope D. logs in later, adds a few notes and captions--the stories that extend these images in yet another dimension. Go ahead and have a look, either at the slideshow or the ordinary list. In Kikamba, a local dialect, musyoki (trans. roughly as "one who stays") was the nickname Ph. picked up.
A swift dip into the July server log presented me with a distressing collection of information: a variety of searches for all things "moth" is invoking this weblog, much to the chagrin of those doing the searching. So I backed out all the non-moth search queries (they're in the log if you want to have a look...but why?). In separating out the search strings, I thought this was sufficiently bizarro-poetic to share, the "moth" collection.
Hits Search String ---------------- ---------------------- 51 3.67% moth 11 0.79% moth problem 3 0.22% earth wide moth 2 0.14% about moth 2 0.14% cartoon moth 2 0.14% moth in thailand 1 0.07% a moth 1 0.07% about moths for kids with no picture 1 0.07% baby moth 1 0.07% big moth 1 0.07% big orange moth 1 0.07% bird crap moth 1 0.07% blue ontario moth 1 0.07% bracket moth 1 0.07% clear frame moths 1 0.07% dreams with moth 1 0.07% how to catch moth 1 0.07% injured moth 1 0.07% lilac moth 1 0.07% meaning of multiple moths 1 0.07% moth and orange 1 0.07% moth bait 1 0.07% moth blue red 1 0.07% moth breaker 1 0.07% moth collect contemplation 1 0.07% moth collections 1 0.07% moth dog 1 0.07% moth dream 1 0.07% moth droppings 1 0.07% moth eat 1 0.07% moth growth 1 0.07% moth in flight photos 1 0.07% moth list 1 0.07% moth means a soul is visiting 1 0.07% moth meme 1 0.07% moth orange 1 0.07% moth orange photo 1 0.07% moth paper 1 0.07% moth peel 1 0.07% moth prophecy 1 0.07% moth superstition 1 0.07% moth swarm ny 1 0.07% moth yellow 1 0.07% mothcake 1 0.07% moths of onondaga county 1 0.07% ontario moth orange 1 0.07% origami moth 1 0.07% origin of moth 1 0.07% rare huge orange moth indiana 1 0.07% split tail moth two spots 1 0.07% superstitiousmoth in the bathroom 1 0.07% the moth 1 0.07% the moth notes 1 0.07% the moth reading series 1 0.07% turquoise moth 1 0.07% velvet moth 1 0.07% what a hurt moth looks like 1 0.07% what does dreams about moths means 1 0.07% what does seeing a moth mean 1 0.07% what is a moth 1 0.07% when is a moth
lowly, but I did help friends move all of their belongings today, the second
such lent hand in recent weeks. I like to think of it as good exercise,
exhilarating advilarating. The humidity in Central New York:
hot air pudding! Today's three shirts tell of two day-themes: pourousness
and sweat. We loaded the Penske here in Syracuse this morning, then
unloaded it in Ithaca in the heat of the day. Quite a book collection
Because they were re-using boxes from a previous move, I was keying on the box label mix-n-mismatch. The "Misc. Stuff" tags had me wondering just how miscellaneous the books inside were. And to stack the hand-truck with three boxes: Top (labeled): video tapes. Middle: (labeled): super heavy. Bottom (labeled): Books (theory). Remember I was hotter than the searing red lava-stuff of lower hell, and so I was surviving the day on bemusing hallucinations about box contents. Wonder what's in here?
A s D. and Ph. make final preps to leave for Kamanzi, Kenya day-after-tomorrow, I've been:
And so D. and Ph. will be flying to Detroit then Amsterdam then Nairobi, leaving for about fourteen days. Once there, D.'s leading a teacher's workshop for grades 1-3 on the science of simple machines (who says incline planes are simpler than pulleys?), and Ph. is involved with some other stuff. All in all, an exciting trip; I'd love be along on it except that I'd have to concede the web connection for ten days and this fast-paced summer teaching couldn't withstand it. So instead, I'm going to be moping around Syracuse, missing D. and Ph., looking for stuff to do--besides teaching, reading. I'm pretty sure I'm helping a friend move from Syracuse to Ithaca. After that, maybe I'll throw the bike in the Element and do a bit of Central NY bicycle-n-photo blogging--Finger Lakes or the Erie Canal from here to Rome. Something, anyway.
I hope the rest of the G8 Summit goes better for the president. Bush wasn't hurt; the status of the presidential bike is less certain: "The presidential bike suffered some damage, McClellan said, so Bush rode back to the hotel in a Secret Service vehicle." Bush was wearing a helmet (it'd be inappropriate to speculate about why the helmet). But did I hear on NPR that this is his second bicycle spill in recent years? What the hell?
S eventy-eight and blue skies. This is what I expected from a central New York summer.
Here's what I've been up to:
1. I used up the better part of yesterday puzzling over a few of the finer points of Actionscript. Messed around with a couple of Excel functions until I was frustrated, too. Both of these are important parts for a larger, quasi-conceived project. Two choices: (-a-) develop a programmer's aptitude or (-b-) find some programmer friends.
2. The summer grad course ended Thursday, and everything's well in hand for the two online courses I'm teaching, now entering the fifth week. I've got one weblog-setup obligation approaching, mid-July, and ongoing projects with CCC Online. Other than that: I'll be working on major re-writes (re-organization, primarily, and a bit of reframing at the beginning) of an essay I hope to send out by the end of August and reading ahead for the New Media/Visualization independent study I'm taking in the fall. Also dabble-reading some other stuff (flipping around, bits and pieces) and, for leisure, getting further into Asimov's Foundation series.
3. Microwaving a cloth, rice-filled bag and draping it over my upper back to relieve unbearable pinching-knottiness.
4. Considering two unwritten weblog entries: (-a-) a follow-up on the carnival concerning process or processual agreement or (-b-) something on punctum as anti-genre (agenera?). But I need to look again at Fulkerson for the first; for the second, just time to write it and more thought.
5. I took a few minutes this morning to clean out my Bloglines account, delete a few of the idle or now-boring feeds. Dropped from monitoring 113 feeds to 100 even; more manageable. And I reorganized the folders so instead of four jumbled groupings, I now have eight more logically related sets. I'm not trying to go all Dewey Decimal on the feed organization, but I was needing some improvement. Too often, the feeds in three folders were simply accumulating to three figures before I'd dump them without reading a single entry. No good. While tidying Bloglines, I came across the following keepers:
125 Big Questions (via).
And composition's 125 Big Questions? Any in common?
Flickr Photographer's Badge (via). I wonder if they'll give me a free pass and a seat on the media row at SU's home basketball games next season.
Newseum's front pages (via). This came across techrhet the other day, too. I'm less interested in it for the news content than I am for the quick and easy access to front page infographics. Maybe I'll flip through them and capture examples of data visualizations periodically, for the next time I teach the Rhetoric of Dataviz projects. Like these on the war, strep and fireworks:
6. For the last month, I switched my techrhet and WPA-L subscriptions from digest to regular (every message). Yesterday, I wised up again, switched them back to digest.
Which is good b/c this song takes forever and ever to download.
Y esterday we toured the San Felipe (St. Ph.) Pueblo, known for its traditional Green Corn Dance: "It is said by the end of the day that the plaza is worn down into a bowl from a day of dancing." Known for Heishe, too, according to a handout passed around on the school bus as we rode to it yesterday. They told us it was a medium-sized Pueblo--pop. 3,300. It was also framed as conservative and traditional; these weighty terms were qualified for us: the San Felipe governor explained that they are committed to preserving their language and culture. They also forbid photography. Why? No wish to make themselves into a spectacle. The sign in front of the church (from which we could see the raging Rio Grande...what a sight! But, alas, no photo.) read: No Photography. $3,500. Camera stayed in my pack. On the walking tour, one of the council members explained the tension between cultural preservation and economic vitality--the paradox of the casino as revenue source and the few other alternatives, such as relying on the Feds. On one plateau at the pueblo's edge: foundations of buildings that stood during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
We also walked past one of the pueblo's two kivas, learned the each of the kivas (squash and turquoise, their names) is oriented to a slightly different political ideology. In alternating years, each gets to appoint a governor for a one-year term. I can't say whether this leads to see-sawing leadership, but it did make me wonder how different the kivas were and how much one can really get done in a single year.
In the afternoon, we ran three+ hours of basketball. Oh how, at times like these, I appreciate that basketball's goes easily indoors/outdoors. Three and a half hours of football, soccer, volleyball or running in 90-degrees and sunny? I love basketball. Today, it's supposed to be 98F; in the gym: maybe 85F. Because today's the most intense day of the camp (two-hour morning clinic, lunch, three-hour afternoon clinic, dinner, all-star game) we don't board the bus to Bernalillo HS for another fifteen minutes.
A lthough the decaf headaches were considerably worse today, the result, I suspect, of hay fever clobbering me while I slept, it's been easy to forget about my caffeine detox in light of the hardships of those around me. Ph. came home early from school today because we had an appointment at Community General with the only doctor in Onondaga County authorized to administer Yellow Fever vaccinations. Yellow Fever is the last vaccine he needed to be Kenya-ready in mid-July. We hopped into the car and drove over to the complex, navigated the disorienting campus--the antiseptic hospital grounds. And then we waited. We sat through a few informal lectures, leafed through CDC pamphlets one more time, eventually faced off with the doctor--a reputed curmudgeon who picks apart travelers, detects all the shots they might need. Sweet relief he's not Ph.'s primary physician.
The whole time Ph. was limping. When he came home from school, the first thing he did was kick off his right shoe and present me with a swollen foot. Gym class. Unsupervised basketball. Ph. goes up for a shot, a push in the back, rolled ankle. Only it's not his ankle that's swollen. I know all about ankle injuries. The *pop* he heard and the knot he felt were further out on the side of his foot. School nurse handed him a baggie filled with ice and said to ice it for an hour (I'm no orthopedic, but I'd never ice for more than twenty mins at a pass).
So he limped through the rest of the school day, limped home, limped through the yellow fever appointment. Once home, we had to decide whether to proceed to his sports banquet (an event where he would be honored as MVP of his soccer team, an event we'd already shelled out cash for) or, instead, take him to the the local prompt care for an x-ray. We went with the latter, and it turned out to be the right decision: he has a busted foot. I didn't see the x-ray, but the fifth metatarsal on his right foot has, at the very least, a chip fracture. What does it mean? Ten days in a splint, ten days on crutches, ten days without showers (leg-out-the-tub baths instead).
We picked up some ibuprofen, then hustled home in time for a pizza to be delivered. At home, we found our landlord (and friend, of course) sadly tacking Lost Dog notices on the utility poles out front. His Jack Russell Terrier vanished from the back-yard in the afternoon. Gone. He'd already canvassed the area, but I hopped on my bike and cycled through the neighborhood once more before dark, if for nothing other than good manners. That and E.'s a cool dog, and I can vividly remember the few times T. (my old, good dog) ran off. With this heat, lots of people were out on the streets, on their porches. Syracuse isn't an air-conditioned city, which is good for lost-dog searching. One block over I secured a tip from a dog-walker. He'd seen a dog like E. just an hour earlier. And sure enough, it panned out. E. turned up, brought home by the same young girl the tipster described.
That accounts for just about everything since three o'clock this afternoon: two hospitals, yellow fever (Ph. has technically contracted it, albeit from a modified virus), a broken foot splinted, and a lost dog found. And pizza. Like I said, it's been easy to forget about decaffeination.
Note: The prompt-care office out-sources crutches. Before they could hand over the crutches, they needed another four forms filled out--forms where we give over all of our information, forms where we agree to pay for them if insurance won't. Nurse: "Just fill out the highlighted portions of the forms." D: "What should I put for "Supplier"? Nurse: "Um. I don't know. Just leave it blank." D.: "It's highlighted." Nurse: "Just skip it." Oh, and he had to ask us--as a matter of official procedure--if we had a preferred crutch provider.
I 'm not thinking about Simple Object Access Protocols; cripes, the i-net coders have acronymized the whole language. But that's another subject. Or it isn't.
Either way, in the shower this morning my mind was on soap nubs. Tidbits and ends. Thin-worn slices. Too tiny for sudsing; too large for dropping in the garbage with a clean conscience: a nuisance. Having pulled a new bar from the cabinet under the sink, I recalled that when we moved to New York last summer, we went from a three-bathroom place to a one-bathroom place, from three showers (even though we only ever used two of them) to one shower. Consequently, the number of bars of soap dropped in kind, halving from two to one. One bar of soap now to go with one shower.
With all washing activity conserved to a solitary bar, the rate of consumption of soap, however, has not dwindled. In fact, it stands to reason that Ph.--a teenager, physically active, and so on--actually uses more soap than he once did. And while I won't go into great detail about my own lathering habits, let's just say I find the soap more often in need of replacement. The new, engraved bars top the soon-washed-away slivers more and more frequently. We're scrubbing through a whole lot of soap.
Evidence (though an evidence of absence, counterfactual?) we're keeping dirt at bay; that much is good. Yet I constantly find myself attempting the splice--the manual merger of the fading sliver and the brand new bar, one unsoftened by water and washing, the other nearly exhausted from it. The convergence usually fails on the first try, and I fumble. One or the other piece of soap falls, puck-ochets around the tub before settling at the drain.
My grandmother used to (and still might) have a soap-compressing apparatus. It was rather like a close-ended garlic press. Into it: bits and ends of soap, all the stubs. Crimp them together and you produce a fresh bar. Notch one for resourcefulness. But me, I keep on fusing the soap pieces by hand, every so often pressing them tight until they bond. Sometimes the bond breaks; I grab up the evasive bit from resting place near the drain and go again.
I just wrapped up the last bit of grading for the spring semester. A restless early morning, read: what am I doing wide awake at 5 a.m.?, allowed me just the amount of quiet time I needed to encode the last few essays, to each a letter. Forms are due later today or tomorrow--one or the other, but I must have left paperwork in the office on campus. Cause for a bicycle ride.
I was slower than usual with grading this time around. A combination of factors: sapped, more methodical. Now there'll be one week of down time before starting in on the Summer I course in genre theory. The stuff I'm teaching doesn't begin until June 6, which means the course I'm taking will be solidly underway when the steepened workload involving the reading of student work hits in mid-late June. That's the plan.
Other: I've been thinking about blogging lately, but, being sapped, I figure now's as good a time as any to lollygag. I installed a Wordpress site for experimentation; re-designing it seems a bit tedious though. I was interested in using the easily modifiable shell of a weblog for a Site of Self I'm pulling together this summer. What do they call these? Professional sites? Personal-professional sites? Vita, teaching philosophy, syllabi, etc.
Yet another: Should we move this summer? Seems like a hassle to switch to another place, but Landlord--who lives clamorously with his energetic dog on the paper that is our ceiling--has an apt.-mate moving in over the summer, the neighbors, who share the driveway, were loud-banging a second basketball hoop together into the late-night hours, and Ph. will be at the high school in the fall--a high school beyond walking distance from where we now live. Oh, and the hoop wouldn't be a problem except that the south sideline is our relatively new and yet un-paid-for Honda Element. So when the kids are in the drive working on their cross-overs and sending long-careening rebounds into the door of the car...eeg. And I really mean EEG! That's the sound for deep down vexation. No matter how hard I try, I can't get over the angst I feel when I hear the basketball pounding the car. Yeah yeah. Material things and whatever. But no matter what I do to exorcise the in-creeping aggravations of car-door-ball-shots, I am my dad's son through and through. I can't block out the irritation I feel so deeply when the ball hits the car. So maybe I'll try moving the car more often (where?). Because I'm in favor of kids playing basketball, I have to think of something. Help me out, people.
So moving. Thinking about it. For now, just thinking.
ou scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.|
What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com
I 'm still in the throes of late-semester whatnot. I took an exam yesterday; here are my notes (PDF). I've posted them here not because I expect you to read them or because I think you'll find the bits and ends collected in them very striking. Just share with me in marveling at my attempt to rake it all into a single heap. Later on, I will come back to this entry which will trigger my fast-fading memory and point out to me that I over-prepared responses to questions that were not on the exam. We were confined to just three pages of notes. Three pages? No problem. I openly gamed the 8.5x11 by changing font size. By switching to a seven point font--voila!--5,000+ words, equivalent of sixteen pages of text. If nothing else, it's a testament to an evolving mania, which has blossomed handsomely toward the end of this first year of coursework. (Surprised? Well yeah, I try to keep the shenanigans off the blog.)
You know, with the font-smunching I also started wondering whether I could go a degree or two further--a five or six point font, say (something distinctive like TrueType Pismire 6). But if we could use a magnifying glass as a mediating tool to assist reading, why not a microfilm reader? Or a computer? What's a page's volume for condensed data if we're allowed the help of mediating devices? Of course it won't get me very far thinking like this; was just wondering about it.
Today I'm buttoning down (up? snapping down?) a project for 611: The Development of Modern Composition Studies. Suck in, dammit! It's like fitting old bluejeans that are two inches too slim. So maybe more than buttoning it (which would presume everything fits when, uhm, no. it. does. not.), I'm actually applying a figurative safety pin--a carefully chosen safety pin, at that. Or a belt. Whatever the case, I'm locked in with a familiar font size, so one thing about the project will look conventional.
O nly a few days since Richard Adams' gem in the Guardian told of a trend set in motion by Mark Kurlansky, the writer of non-fiction whose Cod (The Fish that Changed the World) and Salt (~The Chemical Compound that Changed the World?) laid tracks for a slew of world-changing subtitles. In "The Article that Changed the World," Adams gives us the formula for titling manuscripts in the blazing-hot new genre of thing-iographies: Book: the book about the book that changed the world about the fish that changed the world.
I'm busy, so it's inexcusable that I ran across Adams' short piece while surfing (and while watching NBA playoffs). But in fact I was doing some associative click-around. More specifically: I was flitting through Bloglines--fresh feeds I set up a few days ago to collect sites matched up with a few designated tags at del.icio.us. Just. To. See.
At the same time, Adams reminded me about De Certeau's chapter on hagiographic edification. There, Certeau traces the shift from writing to celebrate the lives of saints to writing to celebrate the lives of royalty to writing to celebrate the lives of celebrities. No, Certeau doesn't go all the way to celebrity, but the short chapter does take up the connections between panegyric memorials, the generalization of moral living (i.e., if the saints can live clean, so can you), and the coordination of the life celebrated with named edifices, streets, and so on (as a response to "leaks and 'loss'" (272) or dispersion of a group). And there's some thick stuff on the histori(o-graph-i)cal implications of the switch from celebrating the lives of saints as a way to proliferate saintliness to celebrating (writing into monument) the lives of less savory, though prominent folks in the twentieth c., and also on the vacation function and entertainment value of such texts (take a break; give it a rest, recline...it's almost May). Then common hagiographical treatments: mystical protections of body, the bestiary lineup and body as applied metaphor. Least that's what Certeau says.
And so this amounts to mere notes to self more so than anything else. I want to come back later, retrace. I'm thinking about the crossover from the genre of thing-iography to the inscription of a name on another thing--the edifice in edification (Carrier Dome, RFK Stadium, Cleaver II Blvd). Certeau gives us hagiographic edification; what is thing-iographic edification? The object named by an ulterior imprint. A stamp (or assemblage/hybrid?). Do we already call this branding? I would say 'yes,' except that it doesn't reconcile with what Certeau forewarns as a tautological tomb.
Yeah, the entry that changed the world. But then the change happened slowly. Or maybe it didn't.
S oot: The fine black particles, chiefly composed of carbon, produced by incomplete combustion of coal, oil, wood, or other fuels.
Six-family apartment building about one block away from home burned through and through this afternoon while I was on the hill sitting, observing the diss defense of a friend and colleague in the CCR program. The defense was a success(!); the apartments, ablaze. On the walk home, in the settling of smoky odor, I strolled through the park. D. and Ph. shared all the fuzzy details, but it was clear enough from the blocked street, the piles of rubbish on the sidewalk and the smell. The odor expressed a version of the event, storied the afternoon in the neighborhood. Soot as fading, residual document. And nobody was hurt, as far as we know.
An interruption and a dilemma! Home from an excursion to Blockbuster video--Closer and The Incredibles, which included a stop at the grocer for a package of buns and a six-pack of orange-flavored malt liquor. But it turns out that we don't have the Manwich that was supposed to switch the browned burger into the dinner-stuff. So? I suggested to D. that we could drop in a can of soup. That's the sure-fire recipe I remember from childhood: any-flavor can o' soup, ground beef, on bread. Won't see it on Iron Chef, but in a pinch....
No good, that idea. Going with H. Helper instead. A solution, at least. I have quite a list of to-dos keeping me active through Monday afternoon. Among them: 1. read and comment on 14 drafts of research projects from 205ers, 2. read several sections of Barbara Rogoff's Apprenticeship in Thinking for 720, 3. draft 4-5 pages of 711 project, 4. revisit draft of project for 611, 5. write a few paragraphs of critique of method(ology), taking J.'s work on alongside White, Certau, 6. think about N.I. Painter and Robert Connors for a minute, 7. revisions of a short essay for 720, 8. develop three-page bibliography proposal for 720. Three solid days should get me close. Ah, and we've got tickets to hear Cornell West talk in Hendricks Chapel on campus tomorrow afternoon.
Credit card signatures are a useless mechanism designed to make you feel safe, like airport security checks. So my question was, how crazy would I have to make my signature before someone would actually notice?
A nd so I wore a plastic retainer, top and bottom, for four or five years. At lunch, I would pop the metal-plastic devices out and wrap them in napkins to avoid showing (and thereby stimulating the raucous fun-making, teasing, ridicule, shame, etc.) them to onlookers while we ate. Throughout first grade we public schoolers ate lunch in the basement of the Catholic church next door to the little yellow school house. For first and second-graders only, the yellow school was a two-roomer, later demolished because of an infestation of bees. (Yellow building...swarm of bees, I'm serious) But back in the basement of the Catholic church (the same cafeteria used to feed the kids who attended the Catholic school), a half hour with all the ordinary aliments and routines--something with mashed potatoes. Until I absentmindedly tossed the napkin-wrapped retainers into the trash with the rest of my unconsumed foodstuff. Unnoticed. About an hour later, coming off the high of recess, it occurred to me that I'd misplaced the expensive straighteners. And so I quit my crying, and Mrs. W talked my two good friends (P. and S.) into walking back over to the basement of the Catholic church where everyone including the priest, no doubt, had finished their mid-day victuals and had left us more than eight gigantic bags of garbage. The three of us picked through it, bit by bit by bit in search of the coveted set of plastic retainers. S. finally found them (said he thought it was a bundle of potatoes; why do kids wrap up food they intend to throw out?), saved the day. Quite a friend, S.
Of course the dental drama carried forward. There were lots of dentist appointments, too many after-schools spent in the dentist's waiting room. It was high-priced torture, really. In fact, eventually, I was awarded a wire key, which I used to crank a single arrow-notch each week, thereby turning the screw that widened the apparatus that stretched my aching jaw over a period of several years. Dental behaviorism: "When it stops hurting, turn the key again."
No stranger all the agony that follows from accepting an invitation to sit in the chair, I returned to the dentist this morning for a regular cleaning (a new dentist for me since we're less than a year in NY). Have a brief pictographic recapitulation of the one hour appointment:
Clown posters, a record-setting repeat loop of Uptown Girl, and bleeding gums.
I t's a comment more on the cliff face of a two-hour afternoon meeting combined with break-intensified reading-writing-teaching work resuming today than on anything else. I've posted the rest of my San Francisco photos to Flickr. There's more to say about the conference, but take the photo-slide show as a photographic-essay, because I'm not too sure if/when I'll get notes to the blog. Several others have more complete, thoughtful renditions than my fanned out notes could ever supplement, anyway. So go read them all. And know that I enjoyed an exhilaratingly good, enriching (if exhausting) time. And that I hope my precious luggage finds its way home soon.
he Clemson Tigers have got to win the conference tourney to have a
shot at the big tournament, but their win just now over UNC in the ACC tourney up-ended
my expectations for March. Today the Tarheels were so so-so, they might've
lost to anybody, and this means a cloud of skepticism surrounding the baby
blue. I didn't plan to watch it. Just flipped it on for background
noise. Some game. Up next, lots of scheduling overlap, but I'm keeping an
eye on these conference tournament games to inform my picks, which is keeping
double question marks next to Iowa, Syracuse, Wake and Louisville. Oh, and
Arizona is interesting this year, too.
Iowa v. Michigan State
Syracuse v. UConn
Wake Forest v. NC State
Louisville vs. UAB
Memphis vs. USF
O ne among many of the gripping passages from The Origins of Intelligence in Children by J. Piaget, the patron saint of observing and reporting the minutiae of early-childhood development:
Observation 91.--At 0;3 (11) Laurent is pulling toward himself sheets, covers, etc., to suck them (he does this a part of each day since he has learned how to grasp). When I hold out directly in front of him a package of tobacco, he grasps it immediately, without looking at his hand. Same reaction with an eraser. At 0;3 (12) under the same conditions he grasps my watch chain which is on his left and outside the trajectory of the joining hands. That evening, same reaction with this chain and with a roll of cardboard. At 0;3 (13) he immediately grasps a case which I hold out to him. He does not look at his hands or attempt to join them but at once directs the right hand toward the case. When he has grasped it, he does not suck, but examines it. (118)
And so the observations go with slight distinctions over the course of several months/pages/stages. After much of my own accommodating, assimilating (taken together: adapting) and organizing, I've crawled to p. 152, which is as far as we're going for tomorrow morning's session. Since I'm already feeling infantile over the whole plot, I flipped through the Piaget Primer and found this zany cartoon:
To round out my prep for class, I'm going to catch the last few minutes of Super Nanny. Some poor brat is battling with his parents over bedtime. "Don't you pinch!"
o you miss high school?
Nah, I don't really miss high school so much. And when, just for a split little minute, I do, the monthly Aggie Express Newsletter sets me right again. For example, the February edition, hotly distilled to PDF, suggests that once again--much like in bygone days--the school system is infested with name-calling, other excitables. Whenever you're ready, Judith Butler. The feature, "Verbal Abuse--Slurs and Name-calling," basically reduces to "tend to your foul-mouthed kids!" So in case you don't have time or inclination to read it, that pretty much sums it up: endlessly curbing intolerant slurs in small town middle Michigan. In an effort to be more solution oriented, I was speculating about a connection to the school's song (scales are in common with Notre Dame, fwiw). Notice the ratio of fight to all other words, except and, which pops up twice-6:1. Pattern, see?
Fight, fight for BCHS,
Keep up the spirit, we'll always try,
Then our team will fight and win
and march on to victory. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Y ou're Lou Reed. God, you are cool, can I touch you so the magic will rub off? You are perceptive, witty, and badass. You wear cool shades, even at night, and probably wear black more than most people. You don't give a f'ck what other people think, but you are also very sensitive in the way that you pick up on things that others don't. Sometimes you come off as an asshole, but that's what makes you cool. You are a poet, and you embody New York City. You will still be hip when you are old, and artists love you.
Which rad old school 70's glam icon are you? (with pics)
brought to you by Quizilla
A crucial part of today's work is beginning to think like an exam-taker because I have at least one final testing event this semester (others are seminar projects, essays, distributed products and so on). What better place to brush up on answering tough, reflective questions than Quizilla? Yah, I'd say this is a generous match (esp. on cool quotient, wearing black, poetic rating, a-hole-ness, depending on who judges), but I answered the questions honestly. Can't tell what the other outcomes might have been (maybe everybody's L. Reed), but I'll take this one. Fitting that I've had a Black Angel's Death earworm violining my head all day long.
To the cozy brown snow of the east
Gone to choose, choose again
I f, like me, you missed yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning of Sec'y of State nominee Condaleezza Rice, Fred Kaplan's Slate column offers a nice run-down. Even with a free day, I wouldn't have watched the session (all nine hours) in its entirety, but I am interested in the ways the next Sec'y of State talks about what is happening in Iraq. And the exchange between Kerry and Rice--where the two jostled for distinctive ways of framing the causes and complexities involved in Shiite and Sunni dispositions--and this representation of Kerry's re-made role make it worth the read:
One remark in particular raised the possibility that Kerry might emerge, in Bush's second term, as an insistent critic of the president's war policy. "Our troops are stunning, superb," Kerry said, but "they're going on missions that are questionable in terms of what they're going to achieve." Was it by chance or intention that this statement--more than anything Kerry has uttered publicly in the last 30 years--stirred memories of the famous line during his testimony before this same committee in 1971, as a protesting Vietnam veteran: "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
immanence possibility of "regime change" in Iran:
Rice replied that the administration's goal is to have a regime in Iran that's responsive to U.S. concerns. She then noted that the current regime stands "180 degrees" in opposition to those concerns--on nuclear weapons, relations with al-Qaida, and support of Hezbollah. She added, "The Iranian people, who are among some of the most worldly that we know--in a good sense--do suffer under a regime that has been completely unwilling to deal with their aspirations."
S erendipitous text day, today. Started yesterday actually, when one of the cohort at SU distributed an email to the grad list asking if anyone was interested in a scattershot of duplicate journals she had--JAC, Composition Studies, Business something or another, CCC. Excess copies of a smattering of non-sequential, eight-year-old journals. I clicked on reply, politely accepted the copies of JAC and Composition Studies. Already had the copies of CCC (maybe), and decided the business items wouldn't get any time because my reading list has grown immensely in these four months. I 'd swear the heap of reading grows by four books every day and reduces only by a chapter or two--the pattern of my low-effort break, anyway.
I lumbered up to the office for some pre-term PDFing around noon today, grabbed the journals from my mail slot in the lounge, and set to leafing through the tables of contents. First pick: JAC 17.1 1997. A couple of interesting finds, but most notable was a review of JoAnn Cambell's edit of Gertrude Buck's work, Toward a Feminist Rhetoric: The Writing of Gertrude Buck. What. have. we. here? See, I just signed up to give an overview of Campbell's book on Buck for CCR611. Actually, the bit will cover the historiographic method employed by Campbell. Picked it from a generous list of histories of comp; grabbed up this text even though I read it late in the last century (spring of '99) for EN555M, a seminar in feminist composition history. The review, by Virginia Allen, introduces several sharp bits on "excavating our disciplinary roots." Allen's review is duly generous to both Campbell and Buck; jogged my memory, too, about Buck's vexing "organic scientism"--tendencies to lever metaphors of nature and evolution (growth?) against the logics of biological and human sciences. No need to go farther with this just yet, and, of course, I've said very little about Campbell's method, so that remains--among many other busy-makers--for the weeks ahead.
Ph. wrapped up the ELA testing at school today. Stands for something like English Language Assessment, I think. Basically, it's the New York battery for assessing reading comprehension and writing proficiency among the state's eighth graders. Typically, Ph. is resilient when treated to school pressures, but before setting out on Tuesday, he expressed nervousness, mentioning that the teachers have kept saying over and over how important the test was. No surprise. The local TV news even ran a report on Monday night urging parents to make sure their eighth graders went to school on Tuesday. Interview with a local school administrator: "If your eighth grade student goes to school only two days this year, Tuesday and Wednesday should be those days." Reported (with images of a shiny glassed-in showcase filled with CD alarm clock radios and televisions) that the students had been enticed to prepare for the language test with raffle tickets in recent weeks. Notably the exam fails to invoke any of the intelligences led on by the poor odds of winning cheap electronic gadgets.
But that's not what I meant to write about. I wanted to say something about the Spanish-English dictionary...my Spanish-English dictionary from ninth grade--a cheap, plastic-backed edition, pocket sized. Ph. had been using it for Spanish class. Before break, he took the small book to school where, well, it disappeared. No trace. I fussed and fumed, a mundane parental ritual over stuff that gets lost without explanation. "Better find it!" (or something nearly as serious). So today, two weeks past the formal infraction and processional of loud-voiced how-could-yous, Ph. said he was walking past an open, unattended locker and there, among the clutter at the bottom, was the dictionary. Aqui! Rather than latch on to it, he continued to class, set his books down, and returned to the locker where, now, the girl whose locker kept the book, now stood, readying for her next class. Ph. took the book, kindly explained that the book was his. How do you know? "It's got my dad's name on it." And so he made away with the lost book, now found.
I asked about the signature. "My name was on the book?," I said. "How's that?" Ph.: I wrote it there. Good thinking: my name, in scribbled pencil, there, on the rough top edge of the pages. Buen provecho.
Too much ludology research on LOR Third Age.
S teve Parks has posted a nice run-down about the latest book from New City Community Press, Espejos y Ventanas. Several of us from SU's writing program made the trip to Philly last weekend for the release event. The book's production is intriguing for several reasons. The translated-text layout--one side in Spanish, the adjacent page in English--struck me as one of the more interesting, unique features of its production. I'm sure we'll take it up more fully in class on Tuesday. Reading Canagarajah's Geopolitics draws a provocative correlation between community press initiatives and overhaul in academic publishing, especially when we consider the potentials of publishing in multiple languages or in ulterior spaces.
W ashing clothes for a trip to Philly tomorrow (no laptop, no road-blogging). Trekking to Brotherly Love for a grand-stately release reception for Espejos y Ventanas. I'd say more about the book beyond interesante but for a heap of reading to get done before tomorrow.
All kinds of buzz on the net today about the beta release of Google Scholar. I book-marked it; will put it to use. But after a few cursory searches (artificial searches...looking for exactly nothing), ambivalence settled on me--that and I should be reading my poor head off. Kept turning up PDFs (Paper-Digm Fe'you). Jeeps, I sound rotten and ungrateful!
Emph. on post-colonialism in my Mon-Tue courses this week. Reading Lu on Anzaldua & Lundsford, Anzaldua on the new mestiza, Deepika Bahri on Spivak & Bhaba, Hardt & Negri on Bhaba and nation-states, Bhaba on Fanon, and Haraway's cyborg manifesto. And some chapters from Canagarajah's Geopolitics of Academic Writing.
E.'s group routed Si Tanka (S.D.), 6-1, in the first round of the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Tournament yesterday in Olathe, Kan. Today they play Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) at 5:00 p.m. CST. Live webcast.
I parked our second vehicle in the garage for the winter. (So what if it's a two-wheeler, and the foyer is where it's propped.) On Wednesday, I asked my students from the Northeast how late into the year it seems sensible to ride a bicycle to campus. Turns out they're mostly not bike-riders. Except the one from Rhode Island. He said it's considered risky to ride when the temp dips below 25 F. Today, the wind feels like 35 F. No sense in taking a chance.
Forgot my book of codes at home this morning and so when the 8:30 a.m. bunch showed up at the computer cluster, we were locked out. Crisis averted, I managed to track down someone who had the six digit magic pass in her digi-memory--a fancy-pants palm pilot. Probably could use one of those. Of course, I could have called D. back at home except that I also forgot my cell phone, and I still can't remember our new home phone number after the 315 part. Mind's been busy with other stuff.
In mobile technology woes, my laptop--the unforgivable Sony VGNS150--is off, via shipping carton, to the repair tech. Sometimes it turns on. Other times, no. Shit breaks; I get that. But the time I've wasted uploading fixes and patches, IMing Sony analysts through two long back-forth-going-nowhere sessions, and shouting numbers into hard-ah-hearing phone bots: agonizing. Timing couldn't be worse.
My favorite eighth-grade hoopster didn't make the cut. Undersized, I guess, and scrapping with giants. But I sure was glad to have him on my team for the four games of four on four we won tonight in Flanagan Gymnasium. Between my high-post living and Ph.'s backdoor cuts, it was a cinch. Grubbing at the lay-up buffet.
Returned 37 essays and invention portfolios to 105ers this morning. Phew! Wrote elaborate responses to eighteen of them yesterday. I would have rewarded myself with a blog entry and a Newcastle Brown. But I only made it to the Brown.
Tomorrow: nine essays to read on everything from imagistic argument (continuing Handa) and public sphere-civic discourse (ala continuation of Lakoff's Moral Politics) plus one more chapter from Gramsci. And those projects.
I dle trajectories? Better not tell you now. Get some movement in the op-positionality.
Fielded this today from a colleague in 20th c. Rhetorical Trad: http://www.exposebush.com/flash/main.html
And-also--we voted this morning at the poling station across the street. #105, #106. Inside the gym--two booths--while preschoolers scootered around an ad hoc obstacle course--slide, tire, sign-in tables. In the booth, the other obstacle course. Never was confusing to vote in Mo. or Mich. But here, the booth felt ancient. Had to flip the lever to close the curtain, then turn an assortment of dials and return the big red lever to its original angle. Returning the lever at once registers the dialed-votes and opens the curtain. So why's there an unsharpened pencil hanging by a thread in here? Nah. Wasn't so bad, really.
I found Corey Union the other night (and damn, how I should be working on a response paper--something from Handa's vizrhet anthology this time). I found Corey Union; parked on the uphill grade just a block from the place. Into Exhibition Lounge, I strolled. It was empty, dark. Televisions stood on each side of the podium; one leaked static, the other, a faintly discernable "unusable signal" message.
Note-taking during a Vitanza talk is a nasty gag. Trick, treat, then this? What? Yet I scribbled until my miniature yellow tablet filled up. Then I stopped. And so these notes are my own (and now yours) strings.
The television monitors--two of them--mattered to the talk. Vitanza's text (talk) coincided with the movies; each screen played a slow frame-rate picture-show: hands typing, VV talking, cutting mushrooms, duck and cover footage. All of it loosely discordant--a purposefully jumbled synchronization of themes, resonances, unmatched with the precise (re)turns in the paper he read. And the object (although everyone in the audience would disagree, mostly) was to find the in-between space, the gap between the spoken-text and the screens.
Said Vitanza of the (de.per)formance, "Impossible to follow. It does not follow." And no claims to immediate intelligibility. And "unmasking is forever an unmaking." But I might have that wrong or it might have been a quotation from Deleuze on actual-virtual and two mirrors. I might have it all wrong. And in this case, that would be okay. "This event is for tomorrow unfounded on yesterdays," Vitanza said.
It was called "The Coming Pedagogy of the Peculiar." With refs to post-pedagogy--knowing and making even if or always non-codifiable, Vitanza addressed theory, asked us "to learn to live with ghosts," Hamlet, Marx, and Derrida, himself. String: beside "himself." String: the ground, the ?, the indeterminate self that shakes us, sets us trembling. And "let us not lose sight of the alongsides." Vitanza told us definition means to limit: creating certainty by throwing away the crumbs.
I got particularly rapt up in his suggestion that "community is always coming along" and that "it resists collectivity as much as it resists individuality." And a nursery quip: Subjectivity sat on a wall. You know the rest. Essence-existence-irreparable. String: Less interested in what goes for truth. More interested in a discourse of untruth which has haunted the text.
It was, on the whole, haunting. It promised to be. And here you have fewer than half of my notes which continue--strings--loose, tangential, listed. Fifty minutes plus Q&A: vagabond Sophists, Zeno's arrow, chromosomic multisexes (how many you want?), mushrooms and dough, Virginia Woolf, Proteus and a bowl of water.
~Keep your eyes on the in-between--the space between the excluded middle and the excluded third. Between them should haunt you. It should disturb you.
After the talk, I met and talked with Alex (and expressed my gratitude for his return email filling me in on the time, location), then introduced myself to VV, asked him how we'll re-gain access to his talk--an essay? Book? Kit. It'll likely be a kit. Available sometime soon--a future date "unfounded on yesterdays," to be sure.
Drove home in the rain.
. Never ever ever end an email with the closing, "Educationally
2. Lakoff's radial prototypes ~ Berthoff's ladder of abstraction?
3. On the walk home from class Monday night, five or so houses ahead, a skunk crossed the street, crossed the sidewalk and went under a front porch.
4. Two slices of pizza for lunch today. My health? Notaworry. One slice was supreme--topped with bits of veggie. Plus I biked to campus today. Plus I gulped lunch with a Diet Pepsi so the calorimeter would even out.
5. Past-a-Past-a-due-date-form. Nobody at SU has checked out Weaving a Virtual Web: Practical Approaches to New Information Technologies?
6. Campaign this-n-that: Hawaii matters. (From random bloglines links I haven't read on a word level)
7. To avoid the skunk (a chance meet-up on my side of the road), I crossed the street, slinked a wide curve to be sure not to startle it.
8. "I said peppermint tea." (Ever clarifying my tea order so to avoid the dreaded--and day-ruining--pissmint tea they put in a cup for me the other day.) I didn't drink it all, but I did take a second sip (for experimentation's sake) to make sense of the non-minty flavor of hot whatever-drink and honey they'd served. Faintly like sweet chicken soup.
9. This morning, skunk odor in the neighborhood. Next, where's my copy of Comp in Four Keys?
10. Just a few minutes until I offer a talk on C. Selfe's Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of Paying Attention. What to say?
M arvelous web zen on mixed media posted today. All worth checking out. Just so my time is not without relevance to my current project(s), highlights:
Nota bene: Just noticed quasi-debaucherous links linked from the first link here. Caution!
S pent the late afternoon taking in Ph.'s soccer match at Barry Park. He's knocking the ball around for his middle school team--a mix of seventh and eighth grade soccer players who've played seven or eight matches this fall. I brought the camera, but it has been idle for some time, so the batteries had just enough in them to auto focus a time or two before giving me the blink-alert. Backup set of AAs: same. No pics.
Before today, the team hadn't won a match. They held close in a couple of one-goal matches, but no wins. Today--bear with me, I'm gloating--Ph. chipped in an early goal to put the team up 1-0 against the squad from Mexico, N.Y. In the second half, Mexico tied the match, 1-1, and late in the second half, Ph. broke lose for a long, one v. one run on the right side, which he capped with a chip shot around the defender and over the keeper's head--into the far side of the net. After the match, I told Ph. that camera's batteries were sapped--no pics. Well, he said, we've got pictures in our minds. Heh, memory--and a humble attitude on top of it.
Afterward. To the school for Open House Night. Welcome: "Tonight, you will be your child." It wouldn't be appropriate for me to critique the school or the teachers. He's surrounded by plenty of good folks doing their best with a received curriculum. But two observations. 1) In the science room, a variety of posters were on the walls, but the only recurrent poster--the only one that appeared multiple times, once per wall--was a spread from the U.S. Army. On it, "An Army of One" in big letters along with pro-soldiering action shots, smaller messages about homeland security, fighting the war on terror, vigilance, watchfulness. Today we'll be using graduated cylinders to determine the density of a metal nugget. Now march.
2) Music. Where to begin. Recurrent poster: Garfield. It wasn't neatly recurrent with only the finicky orange cat. Odie showed up in a couple of frames, and there were inspirational phrases about hard work and the road to success. Lots of instruments in the room, too, huge drums and whatnot. The curriculum made me feel like dashing home to give Ph. a hug and kiss on the forehead. I would (do) have done horribly in this class. (Please tell me if I'm blogging in poor taste now.) Test tomorrow! on the early musical periods--Antiquity, Middle Ages and Baroque eras. Students will not be allowed to head to their lockers for their notes. Antiquity, Middle Ages and Baroque eras. Listen: They will know the instruments, important figures, and so on. Where to end.
R eading Foucault today, I got sloppy with the underlining and found I was marking through whole lines of text. Then I thought, well, that's okay. Maybe it's better to simply draw lines through the non-essential bits. Tonight, just going to register a glimpse of my unconventional reading/annotation method:
Everything would be manifest and immediately knowable if thehermeneutics of resemblance and thesemiology of signatures coincided without the slightestparallax. But because the similitudes that form the graphics of the world are one'cog' out of alignment with those that form its discourse, knowledge and the infinite labour it involves find here the space that is proper to them: it is their task to weave their ways across this distance, pursuingan endless zigzag course from resemblance to what it resembles.
T he good people from Time Warner Cable will be at our apartment Wednesday evening to connect up Road Runner. Like a watering can to dusty pods, Internet access from home is sure to perk things up around here.
Until then, this:
At the SU info fair on Thursday, I picked up a copy of the men's and women's soccer schedules. Consider this: photocopied, one color on orange paper, four by six. Splayed next to them were grand, elaborate football schedule posters--multicolor, glossy-coated and so on. I had to call E. to let him know that futbol just isn't getting its due at SU. For one dollar admission, maybe I'll take in a match this fall. Or, maybe not. I'll be hefting around quite a load of work.
I was surprised to see E. & Co. ranked fifth nationally in the NAIA preseason rankings. What gives? Why so low?
Gerry Clark, professor of theater at SU, gave a fantastically performative talk on diversity the other day. She roamed the room, bantered humourously with orientees, stirred things up and brought the grand catchword "diversity" into terms I hadn't considered carefully before. I left my scattered doodle-notes at home, but her inventory of listening types hit on antipathetical--styling it as the sort of attention we give when we dismiss, with diregarding nods, item after item, until we hear something so ridiculous and outlandish that we jump it. Kind of like: whatever, whatever, whatever, BAM! (antagonistic, contestatory, etc.). V. nice.
She also invited reactions to Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" oil painting. It's the lily, pristine, family-scape--too perfect for most people to appreciate. But then there's the one on "Freedom to Worship," which didn't get mentioned in the talk on diversity. It's the only one of the four freedoms with a written decree; it goes like this: "Each according to the dictates of his own conscience." from the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943, is there a tender conception of diversity in that?
Had this conversation twice this week (with different people):
Not me: Winter is hard in Syracuse. Where are you from? Kansas City, right?
Me: Well, yeah. But I grew up in Michigan. We had snow there.
Not me: Where at in Michigan?
Me: Central Michigan; Mt. Pleasant. It was legit. The snow was deep and cold; winters long.
Not me: Some areas around Syracuse had eight feet of snow in a stretch of four days last winter.
Me: Ah. That's easy. Nobody goes out when there's eight feet of snow. But that's a lot of snow, you're right. I'm sure we'll be able to weather it. What else have I got to do besides sitting inside, reading, writing?
Not me: Blinding. You can't see through the snow here. It's that thick. Cold. Gives me shivers just to think of it.
Me thinking: Snow drifts on Winn Road were ten feet deep. We carved out forts in the banks high enough to stand up inside. And have you ever seen a snowman with five body segments? When I was a kid, Frosty was my favorite Superhero, for chrissake. We used to have to knock the ice from the dogs' watering bowls every night and carry a pitcher of boiling water to them so they'd have two minutes' chance to drink. I'm so winter-ready, I have dreams about licking icicles and shoveling snow. My blood is Ice-9 (see Cat's Cradle). I was the one who dared friends to touch their tongues to the steel swing set legs and flag poles, and I can change out wet-felt liners faster than you can spell Antarctica.
But then it started to seem cold this morning when I woke up and it was in the 50's...and it was August. I'll be taking back all the hijinx about cold weather.
1133: Interstate miles driven in a 25' Penske truck over three days.
11: days until Time Warner can juice our stylish new flat with connectivity.
13: minutes it took me to walk from the front porch to SU's Bird Library where I'm tapping into AirOrange wifi.
5:3: Kansas City:Syracuse ratio of box and furniture carriers who (in addition to the three of us) worked to shuffle all of our belongings on and off the truck on Monday and Wednesday.
2: hotel nights spent in towns beginning with "E" this week: Effingham, Ill. and Erie, Pa.
0: available hotel rooms on Tuesday night on Exit 24 and 27 of I-90 in Erie. Oh! There's a crappy Travelodge at Exit 29. Good enough.
So this is the official blogsyrection. I'm back online, more or less, although the only net access I'll have from now until the 25th will be in the various wifi zones on SU's campus. It's been raining here, too, which makes the hoof-route between home and campus longer, wetter, and more treacherous for my tech-loaded pack.
The trouble with resurfacing here and now is that I've lost touch with the blogs I frequented before all the trav(ai/e)l, fracas and upheaval of late. I've glanced through some of them, and I really would like to take more time to catch up, but, well, not today.
The short of it is that we're in S-town, safely and so on. I lost my driving innocence somewhere en route, discarding it as I drove over curbs, passed big rigs, pumped diesel fuel, mastered the truckers' courtesy flick-of-the-lights as if to say, "Your rear end is sufficiently in front of me that we won't smash together when you resume our slow lane."
A few other quips from the past two weeks:
In Iowa (on the way to Wisconsin, then Drummond), I asked Ph., "You see those
fields? Any idea where the name for corn rows originated?"
Ph.: In Iowa City?
At Elmer's Restaurant in Escanaba, Mich., they have a breakfast plate called "Everyone's Favorite" on the menu. That's what I had, figuring it would be my favorite, too. How can it be everyone's favorite? It's perfectly customizable. The waitress asked twenty or thirty questions (grits or hash, etc.). She also hit us with a "youse" (but, expecting yooper vernacular, we were ready for it, even though "y'all" dominates the deep midwest).
Ph. caught two large-mouthed bass at Drummond. Then winds riled up waves that rattled the fish basket, that roughed the fish into seagull food. Me? I caught a few glimpses of spectacular sunsets and poison ivy.
Places we didn't stop to tour and eat between Akron and Cleveland: Grandpa's Cheese Barn. Places we did stop to tour and eat between St. Ignace and Mackinac City: Castle Rock and Audie's.
Now I should catch up with all the passers-through who've recorded their dreams in Dear Dream Interpreter.
H ouse-packing reminds me of things like this:
<suspenseful theme music>
You never heard of it? The Great Rubber Band Crisis of 2002 lingers on, carrying forward all of the reactive damage from that school day just a few years ago. Today, when D. went looking for a rubber band while packing, I reminded her that we kept none, that we summarily banned all rubber bands from the house, destroyed them, snapped them into oblivion two years ago.
I don't want to embarrass anyone, least of all Ph., who catalyzed the Crisis with a buildup of contraband sneakery, locker-stock hoarding and pen-cap projecting. Why are the rubber band supplies from home dwindling? Call from the school. And so on.
</suspenseful theme music>
A t Fashion Square Mall, Saginaw, Mich., my mother bought an overpriced little Yorkshire Terrier in 1990; "little" means he was smaller than the large outdoor dogs we kept in a pen on the edge of the yard. "Little" means he was vulnerable. He would be staying in the house.
Max grew to be large for a Yorky. At eighteen pounds, he muscled over other toy pets. To the veterinarians with wide eyes and park walkers who would stare, whisper, finally ask, we explained he was just a bit over-sized, big boned. Always tall, Max, and wide.
After weeks and weeks of combing through options, we got a call two days ago that a pet rescue was available. "Get in the car, folks. We're saying farewell to Max, today." And we drove to Shawnee Mission, Kan., to Animal Haven: a dog playground abundant with frolicking and free play, shade, half-filled plastic swimming pools. A black lab stood in one of the pools, stooped like a flamingo, watching. Max trembled; always small and fragile.
There was the time we thought he was nearly gone, one warm weekend afternoon during our first months in this house. Ph. had a soccer match; I was the coach. Scuttle, scuttle before heading off for a match. But Max was on the deck, frozen, quaking and hunched with his head close to the wood surface. His mouth was bleeding. This was it. Did he eat something (glass, nails, metal burrs)? What? Time was short; we had to rush off to the match while D. stayed behind to console Max, take him to the emergency vet, since we were sure he was dying. D. tugged on Max, and pulled. He seemed heavy; he wouldn't separate from the deck. Turns out he'd lain down on the deck and his tag had fallen through one of the gaps between the boards, shifted, and lodged in a perpendicular T-lock. He was stuck. Following a quick check-up (to find out he'd only bitten through his lip from the resistance and trauma), D. brought him to the fields where his light step said relief, liberation, resurrection.
Here's a little piece of the email I sent to help him find a new home:
His hair currently (for summer) isn't cut Yorky-standard. It's rather short for his comfort. In fairness, he tends to have unsavory breath, and the vet has said we might consider having his teeth cleaned, but we've never gone ahead with that.
He's good around kids, and hasn't ever shown signs of aggression toward people or other animals. In his young days, he would chase squirrels and cats, but he never caught any of them (okay, if I was telling this story to him, I'd allow that he caught one or two!). He thrives on positive attention. He's happy when new people come to the house, and he has an odd habit of sitting on people's feet. He's not a licker, and in his old(er) age, he's mellowed out. He doesn't run in the house, chew on anything (never did) or leave much--if any--hair behind. He tends to have dry-ish skin on his lower back, and so he'll try to itch his back on things from time to time, especially with the shorter haircut. He also has a small mole-like thing above one eye, but the vet said not to worry about it, and it hasn't changed in size for the past three or four years--since it first showed up.
cookie peppy brandy (freak-a-leak) jake fang sheba
(freak-a-leak) minerva tony pigeon max (freak-a-leak)
For the first time in thirty years (minus a few of those early, newborn months), I'm without a dog. Cookie was the first; several others followed. According to my count, there have been ten, including Max. While I was an undergrad, Tony was boarded at my parents', but I saw him fairly often. My dad reminded me regularly that Tony was my dog. For the last fourteen years, Max has been a part of the mix. He lasted longer than any of the others, outliving Brandy, Sheba, Mini, Pigeon and Tony--those whose lives coincided with his.
For the last ten weeks or so, we've known that, inevitably, we would have to give him up. The slow sale of the house here in KC meant we couldn't buy a home in Syracuse, which meant we would have to rent, which meant we would have trouble keeping pets. Sure enough.
Max wouldn't have liked the snow, anyway. He doesn't even like walking on grass. We had two options: find him another place to live or, er, do the unthinkable.
There's really very little else to this story, but it's unusually sentimental for me. Max was my mom's dog. I inherited him when she died seven years ago. "Who will take in Max?" I will! He was never anybody's favorite pet, never easy to train, never at ease with his place in the world. Skittish, you could say--terrified of feet and all types of balls. He had quirks, a small dog's stubbornness, and a grotesque, unrefined personality. He was simple. Never learned to sit on command. His cohort--Sheba and Tony, mainly--could sit when told. They'd sit, Max would have a look, see the snacks distributed, finally sit too. I don't think he ever connected the command with the action. It was the snacks, imitation, and delayed social intelligence among dogs. Do what they're doing. He was easily thrown off by noises; he would run to the back door when the front door opened. Sensed thunderstorms three or four hours before they arrived. And we joked about him, his clumsiness, his lack of grace, his surprisingly long life.
So to give him up the other day has convened a strange vacancy. No nudged trips to the grass. No slow-paced click-click of his long toenails on the hardwoods. And since we'll be leaving soon, too, his presence won't linger much longer than ours. Where he's headed, some generous crib in Springfield, Mo., there'll be other dogs to socialize him (roll over!) and abundant spoilation (good boy!) to help him forget and to spur a few more years of simple joy. Woe but for the blessing of always-fading memories.
"I was serving my tribe before serving my tribe was cool": Gov. of the Zia Pueblo on a guided tour this morning. The tour started at the oldest church in the United States--a modest one-room Catholic adobe put up around 1660. From the church, we walked a few hundred yards to the plaza where the Gov. challenged the athletes to a traditional foot-race across the plaza. Only about seven of the athletes competed (and none of them were basketball folks), but the Gov. put on a good show, finishing in the top three, and with cowboy boots on.
I'm on the coat-delivery crew in the (early) morning. An organization out of Pa.--Operation Warm--is here. They distribute something like 50,000 coats each year to young people. So before the camp sessions tomorrow, six of us are off to the Santa Ana Pueblo.
A t the edge of the chair watching the NBA finals.
Tweaking minor goofs in the VCampus to eCollege conversion piloting in the U.'s online courses this summer. Our DL staff told me this was the largest online course migration--moving between CMS providers--to date. No idea how they figure that or whether anyone cares. Noticed today that some comments (in an asynchronous threaded discussion) were time-stamped out of order. So the response gets tucked in before the comment to which it replies.
A wall of wind and lightning gusted through KC last night, flickering the lights and littering the area with branches big and small. All the newscasters could talk about today is the registering of 75 MPH, "hurricane force" winds that blasted the region last night. Up on the rooftop one shingle lifted, so I scaled the ladder, rummaged around up there late this afternoon, dabbing fibrous tar-goop.
Prepping for a trip to N.M. on Wednesday. Will fly into Albuquerque for this summer's Native Vision Sports and Life Skills camp. All the to-do with house-selling and moving has left me feeling distracted; my focus definitely isn't on the camp--hosted this year by the Southern Pueblo Tribes in Bernalillo (which, I think, is just outside Albuquerque, although I haven't checked a map). We learned on Friday that the house-seller in Syracuse accepted another offer. So we're just counting days, waiting impatiently for this lovely house in KC to be swept off the market by a new owner. Else? Too early to say.
I've been keeping readerly tabs on all of the exciting things shaking up the Blogosphere--the Hawaii C&W conference, mainly, and Jenny's hard-earned, well deserved Best Blog Award. Is there a trophy? Some kind of graphic insignia?
Pizza Hut now boasts WingStreet here in the metro area. And we ordered some wings. But I've decided PH should stick to pizza. Traditional pizza. Chicken products from pizza hut--buffalo style chicken pizza, chicken as a topping, WingStreet wings--leave a lot to be desired. I don't usually flail around with grand decrees about food stuff, but I'll never eat chicken from Pizza Hut (or WingStreet) again. Blech!
Blog entries I've been contemplating: 1. How are the Braddocks going? I'm a third of the way through them. Continue? Shelve it? Change the approach? 2. My oldest uncle--G.--succumbed to cancer yesterday. It was a long, relentless time working on him. Been thinking about a tribute, mainly because watching Big Fish last night (between storm flickers) brought up a few ideas about memory, imagination, myth, family. I hope to share some good ones later this week. And my uncle G., being a pastor and a forestry biologist, well, I sense a certain, tough-to-describe peace about it all, in part, maybe, because his time came almost exactly seven years to the day after his younger sister, my mom, passed away. Heh. This paragraph started out about the Braddocks. No, I'm not all over the place. Really. 3. Bookmarked this article from the NYT. It ties into a whole set of issues about verified readership. So I can put a clandestine confirmation cue in the message to ascertain it has been certifiably, indubitably read?
So outside the school was a man with a drum, he was on a bicycle and he was drumming and when Rose heard him drumming she went to the door and the man was calling out either or either or, either there is a lion here or there is no lion here, either or, either or. (GS, The World Is Round, 58)
M ay: bloom-bird-dunes, hail-bird-bud.
W e're officially in phase I of home-sellers' sprucing. Walked Lowe's tonight for just over an hour: paint supplies, ceiling fan light bulbs, a light switch, door stoop outdoor carpet (to replace the ragged mat uglying up the front step right now...it's all nicked up from someone's overzealous chipping of ice cakes this winter...I'm not naming names), and fairy dust for a few well-placed gleaming glints to attract the new homeowner's affection. Lowe's in Kansas City on a drizzly Thursday night while Survivor All-Stars is on: it was so empty we couldn't find anyone to mix the paint. Until we found someone.
Now, if I can just figure out how to apply a cascading style sheet to our living room walls, neutralize the bold green just a mite...then I'll have more time to blog tomorrow and over the weekend on
1~Who is the audience for this? Is it just more higher ed doom and gloom warning of the perilous market? To what end? Is it meant to discourage students? Scare people away from advanced study? Or is it building toward deeper critiques about crises in contract labor? Plenty of other careers and prospects for fulfilling employment suck. Okay, right, I don't pay attention to those articles either--if they exist at all (on how much it sucks to study athletic training, then take a job rubbing the feet and necks of strangers, or how much it sucks to take a law degree, then haggle in traffic court for the rest of your days).
2~Muchiri, Mulamba, Myers, Ndoloi on "Importing Composition"
3~Eyeing an instructor listserv for folks teaching the FY composition sequence and intro to humanities in the computer-mediated distance program at my current Uni.
4~Saying farewell to graduating students (who I had in FY comp four years ago!), lining up returning work-study students (all two of them) with warm and agreeable supervisors for the fall, and putting a box of free stuff outside my office door to see whether any of it holds a value for passers-by.
5~Catching heat about the final examination arrangement required by the administration for the FY composition sequence, then packing up a loaded email-response on the crapshoot, IMHO, of flat assessment systems for online composition, then sending off that email to a bunch of folks, then waiting to see whether I left too much tail hanging out in the whole process.
Perfect. Now I've got plenty to write about in the days ahead. No. 2 is a certainty; all else, as paint to these walls--spread thin, soon forgotten.
I n the dentist's chair this morning. Hayakawa in my lap. Getting x-rayed, poked, scraped, polished, flossed. Sprayed, vacuum-sucked. Shined by the brightest light ever put to me. Hovered over by a masked agent of the dental conspirators. "Open wide. Turn your head to your right."
I brush twice each day, floss once. Tooth Invaders was one of the first video games I ever owned; J. and me up late on the C64 with black and white TV, scrubbing bacteria. Tooth brushing is ritual. But in the dentist's chair-cranked-back, my mouth takes to bleeding. Things a coherent, sober person wouldn't allow anyone to do: sharp metal prod to bare gums, touched. It was awful. It is always, time after time, awful. Still, I return.
Why Hayakawa (Language in Thought and Action)? Haven't read it before. Quite a mix in the selected bibliography. Couple of interesting sections (though brief) on maps, extensional world as territory, and also on the levels of abstraction with a drawing of the ladder. When the dental assistant finished grinding my teeth, I picked up the book again, started reading where I'd left off fifteen minutes earlier:
No matter how beautiful a map may be, it is useless to a traveler unless it accurately shows the relationship of places to each other, the structure of the territory. If we draw, for example, a big dent in the outline of a lake for artistic reasons, the map is worthless. If we are just drawing maps for fun, without paying any attention to the structure of the region, there is nothing in the world to prevent us from putting in all the extra curlicues and twists we want in the lakes, rivers, and roads. No harm will be done unless someone tries to plan a trip by such a map. [emphasis in original]
I was thinking back to the C's in Denver, to a talk I attended on the importance of conceptualizing standard in battlefield terms, thinking about normalcy as proximate to a commanding power-presence. I can't remember whose it was; seems like Peter Elbow was on the panel. The premise involved the idea that the location of the standard shared by the locus of power (never mind body doubles) and the relative protection, battle strength and safety diminished incrementally proximate to the standard waving high, symbolizing a center
The dentist is ready. *enters the dentist*
Dentist: What are you reading?
Patient: *tilts the book*
Dentist: Language in Thought and Action. Hmm. Open your cakehole, kid.
/I'm not a fast learner, turns out. I used to bring books to this same dentist. Once it was Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Another time: Mina P. Shaughnessy: Her Life and Work. And the last time I carried a book into this dentist's shop: Graham Swift, Waterland. Then I quit bringing books for a while. The fifteen minutes of reading wasn't worth the event (getting to the event part). No need to carry a book when I could grab a magazine from the waiting room. Something easy, something requiring less explanation. Entertainment Weekly, People. I stopped bringing books to the dentist because the question always came, "What are you reading?" and, "So what's it about?". Five seconds to answer before a gloved hand fiddles mercilessly with my teeth./
Dentist: So what's it about?
The good reasons for not carrying a book to the dentist's workspace rushed back today when, before I could answer, I had a mouthful of busy fingers, instrument-bearing digits. And they were doing the work that had already been done minutes earlier--a more qualified poking, a more detailed telling, "eighteen's okay, nineteen's a belted crown, twenty's a composite, twenty-one's okay." But before that, before my dentist did the part I bargained for, the tooth-by-tooth evaluation, the count and description, she told me that I didn't need to read Hayakawa because all language is perception (am I still alive?) and words mean differently to everyone, especially in such a diverse country. When will I get my voice back?
Maybe the dentist is right. Or maybe she meant that I didn't need to read in her office. I never was able to offer much of a five-second review on Winterson, Maher, or Swift, either. And maybe Hayakawa's not what I should be reading. It's just so nicely safeguarded by my naivete. I haven't read anything about this book; I knew nothing about it when I picked it up. Instruments were working before I could say, "I'm not far into it yet, but it's a kind of simplified and illustrated on semiotics. Might be able to find a few teachable bits in it. And it doesn't feel like a lot of work to read right now, which is why I've carried it into your office."
The highlight of the visit came when the dentist ground away a few contact points on one irritated cap (crown?) on the lower left. I haven't chewed painlessly on the left side in six months; this was the third attempt to correct the bite. "Bite down and grind." Fortunate for the dentist and for me that I understood her instructions, that I didn't carry them out while her fingers were dangling next to my chompers. Fortunate, too, that I admire the dexterity of the dentist to use power instruments in my mouth, to bring smoky, screeching industry into such delicate human quarters.
S tumbled onto All Consuming, a web site that crawls for bloggers' mentions of books. This, whilst off-task from obligatory Sunday online course updates and sucking on the Junior Mints left for me by one generous and intuitive bunny rabbit. All Consuming counts and links a (potentially) unconnected readership, rendering, thereby, a (paper, not cyber) text-associated web of relations.
A hard shot of seventh grade homework tonight: test on the Middle Ages tomorrow along with a two-page chronology of the most significant developments in computer technology from the abacus to artificial intelligence. Quite an undertaking for one evening, but it follows weeks of in-school preparation. So the pattern goes. Ph. worked on the laptop drumming up information via a few links suggested by his teacher for the computer assignment while I wrestled a one-page study guide into readable shape for the test. Sufficiently torturous though there were no mentions of such inhumanity in his notes and textbook.
So I've been freshening up on everything from feudal social hierarchies and the failed crusades (which opened trade routes to the East) to the MITS Atrios 8800, Bill Gates III and integrated circuits as the "Third Generation" of computer technology. Just when it was at its most agonizing--the combination of assignments, that is--we laced up our tennies and went for a jog. First one in months for me, but overdue in the nasty-tense fallout from such an explosion between prehistory and posthistory, between medievalism and technocracy on such short notice. Run. Artificial intelligence is the fifth (and present) generation of computer technology. Senechals presided, with bailiffs, over the judicial order of the manors in medieval Europe. Daniel Bricklin dubbed Visicalc; we are all so many vassals to Microsoft, jousting with PowerPoint, crusading for open source. See? How can I explain this?
You'll notice I'm toying with a few jobs in the right column. Thinking about fleshing out my list of links, adding on the ones I aggregate, and others I read and admire from time to time. Most bloggers appreciate being linked, right? I want to redraw the "Divisions," dissect moth into more descriptive parts. Or not...no hurry. I also copied several of the recent button-makers (such as feministe) and put one together for EWM, just for the heck of it--during one of our study breaks this evening. Perfectly ornamental.
Succumbed to another violent arm-tug to cover a pair of classes first thing in the morning. Everyone's taking vacations but me, turns out. But I don't mind. It gives me something to blog about. Plus, Ph'll need a good breakfast if he has any chance at discriminating between the chivalric code and vacuum tubes.
E ternal Sunshine is memorable, worthwhile, interesting. I made the mistake of reading a review before seeing it; the review warned me that I wouldn't like the ending. Why? Still don't know. Whatever the case, you might enjoy the movie more if you don't read much about it or over-study it, like I did. It's okay to stop reading this entry if you haven't seen the movie yet.
Reasons for disappointment: 1. instances of comedic, face-making Jim Carrey (esp. as an adult in the smallish body under table, bathing in the sink. Two or three scenes cheapened the movie's smarts, interjected tee-hee breaks like commercial interruptions for popular Carrey unbefitting his character, Joel. 2. The broken chronology depended on the recoloring of Winslet's hair for sequencing. So that seemed more a feature of the film's need for easy reconstruction than a convincing side of Clementine's person. 3. Slippery logic. Where was the place Joel saw himself strapped in the clinic's chair? Was that a real place or a remembered place? Why, then, did they end up in his apartment to complete the erasure? Is the in-office scan preliminary? There was, after all, an older woman being scanned (tearing up, remember?) when Carrey visited the clinic the second time.
Reasons to see it: 1. Provocative premise on social memory, the value of forgetting, the role of language in recollection and recognition. It made me want to go back and listen to Schooler and Gopnik's talks (which are built into the disability studies sequence of the online curriculum I put together for EN106). 2. Sassy Kate Winslet in an orange sweatshirt frolicking on a snowy Long Island beach with Carrey's character. 3. Cool special effects: the crumbling house, putty-melt faces, textless gloss of human memory whilst erasing.
So, I would recommend it, lumping it with only slight criticism in the same category as Kaufman's more impressive (IMHO) Being John Malkovich and, for its make-ya-think chrono-flux, Inarritu's Amores Perros.
I'm anguishing over the probability that I won't be making the trip to San Anton for C's this week. I want to make it, but what was a planned carpool of three is now, well, just me. I have a rooming option and a cheap car reserved for rental if I want it tomorrow night, but I have to decide tonight. The eleven-hour drive by myself and the promise of dropping $400+ (proceeding unfunded because I don't have anything required of me at the conference)--these factors are leaving me reluctant. As badly as I want to catch some of the panels, mingle with friends, lunch and dine with people I haven't seen for months (some, years), meet the bloggers on Wednesday night and so on, I'm doubting that I can pull it off.
. I played hoops in college, and although I've never
been much above 6-5, I was always listed as 6-6 and 210. It really was
the shoes. That false inch of added height never was much help in the
post, where I wrestled for position most of the time.
2. I find that Levis fit better than Lees, Wranglers, Old Navy--to say nothing of sweat pants, jogging suites, etc.
3. Berbere sauce on spaghetti pasta--best meal. Chicken or beef doesn't matter. My good friend E. is responsible for this.
4. First car was a four-door 85 Ford Tempo--royal blue. Its transmission crapped out.
5. Born and raised on a parcel of the sold-off Chippewa Indian Reservation in rural middle Michigan. The reservation was much larger before it was sold into pieces of land, bit by bit by bit.
6. College literacy caught fire on Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Read 'em all. Started with Breakfast of Champions and loved the image-doodles.
7. In 1991, my senior year of high school, I set a Beal City High School record for blocked shots in a season with 91. It's been broken since.
8. All-time favorite basketball teams: 88-89 Pistons. Hands down. More recently, Stampede--both of them. But I'd rather watch the college game when it's all said and done.
9. My parents met in college at Central Michigan U.--my big brother's alma mater, too. I attended for one year before transferring to Park.
10. During the spring of my first year of college, I worked nights stocking shelves at Kroger. My aisles were pet food and soap. I spent long hours, late at night, "facing" the small cans of cat food, building up resentment toward cat spoilers who bought the expensive stuff and mussed my shelves each day.
11. I think I developed a kind of allergic sensitivity during those hours in the soap and chemical aisle. Now, when I shop (every other week, D. and I trade off), I avoid those aisles, only venturing in if I absolutely must.
12. Class president all four years of high school. And a year younger than my peers. So what if nobody ran against me after that first election, freshman year.
13. Childhood don't go without: Green Lantern Underoos. Crazy for the Hulk, too.
14. Had three surgeries in 1995: one on my right ankle (bone spurs) and two on my right shoulder (scope and reconstruction). Too many sprains and dislocations. And then there was a full week of medical I-don't-know when I sliced a four-incher in the top of my scalp--accidentally...long story, that.
15. Kept a regular opinion column in my college newspaper, The Stylus. Learned the perils of biting commentary there.
16. Hablo espanol bastamente, pero lo escribo mejor. Shouldn't that be the other way around?
17. I was never in the second grade. Went straight to third from first, like a disoriented base-runner in kickball.
18. Wasn't any good at baseball, either. Sat on the bench for most of one season with the Fireballs--the third place team in a four-team league.
19. My best dog was Tony. Got him at the Isabella County pound for five bucks. Had to have him put to sleep on the Sunday after the C's in Minnesota--the only C's I presented at. Tony was a Cairn Terrier mix (part animal, part human).
20. In 1984, on the long bus ride home, bullies took my Detroit Tigers baseball cap and threw it out the window. My mom drove me to find it alongside Winn Road, in front of a horrid-smelling farm.
21. Childhood homes were heated mostly by wood. J. and I had to pitch the wood into the basement every Sunday, one wheelbarrow load at a time. One would pitch; the other would stand in the basement and stack. Many Sundays devolved into wood-pitching fights, where we would throw the blocks of wood with the intent of hitting each other. Brutal.
22. Favorite fishing spot: off the dolomite pier at Nates' Marina, Drummond Island, Mich. Lots of rock bass hiding in the shadows under boats. We could see them in the water.
23. Spent Saturday mornings bowling as a kid. Rolled the rock for Orange Crush at Chippewa Lanes.
24. Dad is a land surveyor. I have an affinity for mechanical pencils because of it.
25. My son's birth certificate lists my age as 16 and my partner D.'s age as 18 when Ph. was born in Missouri. We were both in Michigan at the time he was delivered--an Aries.
26. Prefer hardwood floors and linoleum to carpet. Unless I'm traveling. Then I like to emulate Bruce Willis in Die Hard: "Nothing better than taking your shoes off and feeling the carpet after a day on airplanes."
27. I can't find the source, but I like the mantra from Steven Segal, "Superior effort, superior mental attitude." Yet I've never watched an entire Segal movie. He's a tough-guy actor, right?
28. First video game addiction? Serpentine--a C64 cartridge and a Slik Stick. Hours upon hours. Once we had a disk drive (Christmas, 1985), it was Lance Haffner Final Four--all text basketball. Not long after that, I figured out how to hack the files to make my own teams.
29. Along Winn Road, the ditches often filled with water during the winter months. At the bus stop, we'd take turns daring each other to test the ice. It was only waist deep. Would it hold? I was the youngest, so it was common for me to get on the bus with a soaked pant leg. But it happened to Billy N. almost as often; he was older than me, but he would always take the dare.
30. I worked as an insurance claims adjuster for thirteen months in Saginaw and Detroit.
31. Shh. Lions fan.
32. I don't have favorite beer. More of a sampler, especially of local brews. Cheap domestic pilsners don't bother me; lite beers don't bother me. Wine? Shiraz over anything else.
33. Had an Adam computer for a few years, mainly because Dragon's Lair was a blast.
34. Most humbling work experience: United Cerebral Palsy weekend caregiver. Worked 32 hours on weekends for several months as an undergrad.
35. One movie I could watch over and over: The Truman Show. Soundtrack is appealing, too. In fact, I'm listening to it now.
36. I lived in Hazel Park, three blocks from Eight Mile, while I worked in Detroit. Marveled at the old racetrack when I drove by.
37. More than anything about home-owning, plumbing troubles me. I've cobbled through a few hellacious plumbing projects; supply lines are worse than drains. And I come from a family with simple solutions to conundrums that present me with big challenges.
38. We once had a dog named Jake who ate through quarter-inch cables. He was a wild, writhing, horribly out-of-control Rhodesian Ridgeback. I don't know what happened to him, which makes me think one of my uncles took him "hunting." That's what they said when they, you know, left and never came home.
39. When my mom died in the summer of 1997, I quit my job in Detroit and moved to KC. Still not sure why she died. Just didn't wake up that Wednesday morning from the age of 48.
40. Bill Laimbeer and me. I took this number in high school and college. Have a fondness for 40 still.
41. I was a performative minimalist in sports: one touchdown in high school football, one dunk in a h.s. basketball game, one dunk in a college basketball game, one double-double in college. This is important, considering I was never the best player on any of those teams.
42. For lunch lately, I've been having one Diet Coke, a Campbell's Soup At Hand, and a bag of microwave popcorn. Every workday of the week. And I've cut ten pounds since the holidays, without nary an instance of exercise, unless teaching counts as exercise.
43. I like cutting the grass, but I'm not into the pristine, homogenous suburban lawnscape.
44. Purple lilac bushes are my yard decor of choice. There were huge ones in the front when I was a kid--big enough to hide inside, like a plush-cover fort with bees swirling.
45. I spent a bunch of recesses inside writing, "I will not..." in elementary school.
46. I don't have a full scale family tree nor an abiding interest in my personal genealogy, but I learned more last fall about my great great great grandmother, Cora Matilda (Hamilton) Roe (2/13/1870-11/4/1926). She was married at age 13 to Ephriam Roe. Rather young, since he was thirtysomething. It's disputed whether Ephraim was from an Ojibwa Tribe. I have papers that say he was and papers that say he wasn't. What's the paper worth? Or the information on it? He died near Edmonton in 1929.
47. I wish I made more time for playing euchre. And for reading.
48. I sleep on my back and side mostly. Log position. Almost never remember dreams.
49. My wallet has an imprinted buck head on it, like it was designed for a hunter. I never even went through hunter's safety, although most of my friends did. My take on hunter's safety: stay the hell out of the woods when there are guns blazing.
50. I've cut my own hair since 1992. Even the crooked ones were free (or about 15 cents per cut if you figure the cost of the clippers).
51. If I was stranded with one television channel: Food Network. I don't have much time to cook, but I'm endlessly wowed by the combinations, the ways of making.
52. In tenth grade, I came up with the winning homecoming float idea for our class: Ollie North says, "Shred the Red Raiders."
53. I thought I could do this in one sitting, but it's late. More tomorrow.
54. I've endured a broken left wrist, four shoulder dislocations, a separated shoulder, a half-dozen ankle sprains and numerous stitches from gashes, mostly from basketball.
55. I was at the last Grateful Dead concert--Soldier Field, summer of 1995. Drove straight back to KC in time for Lollapalooza at Sandstone Amphitheater, which included Sinead O'Connor and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
56. I am--like my mom was--ultra-sensitive to poison ivy. I can pick it up from pollen just by walking through the woods. Had the poison ivy every summer that I've lived in Missouri.
57. I like walking. Unless it's inside a shopping mall. Then I suffer from full-body lethargy. Malls exhaust me.
58. Clothing taste: comfort over style. And a weak sense of style, too.
59. D. and I have more synthetic houseplants than real ones. We can't work out a watering schedule for the real ones. Authentic plants either drown or dry up.
60. In the German tradition, we opened gifts on Christmas Eve most of my childhood. Although we didn't have the candles on the tree (which is my understanding of the cause for unwrapping on the Eve rather than the next morning), it had the practical effect of allowing the adults to sleep in. And they did. Didn't matter if the kids were up at five.
61. First CD: Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever. Still have it, but I don't listen to it much.
62. I never learned to dive. My dad is a terrific swimmer, but I had too active an imagination to go head first into a lake. What's below the murky surface? Rocks, stumps, lake sturgeon.... Terrifying.
63. A combination of teachers whose good advice I followed persistently kept my interest and compelled me to study English, composition, rhetoric, and everything under the Sun that converges within this sprawling, rich field.
64. Places I've spent six weeks studying or training without ever taking up residence: Denver, Colorado and Xalapa, Veracruzana.
65. I prefer cheap shampoo.
66. I like Blue Moon ice cream better than any other flavor. What flavor is it? Can't be sure. Maybe that's why I like it.
67. In the summer of 1992, my brother and I moved the entire Chemistry Department at Central Michigan University, cart by precious cart, into its new facility. Ultraviolet spectrometers, centrifuge equipment and so on.
68. Days until my 30th birthday.
69. I tend to keep a messy office and a clean desk.
70. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Nerd Ropes. Black licorice. In that order.
71. Most interesting place during my study-stay in Mexico: La Plaza de Los Tres Culturas in D.F. where protesters were killed and forcefully dispersed just before the '68 Olympics. After that, Xico. Then Huatulco.
72. I've been in my current full-time job--athletics administration--for almost seven years.
73. I don't care if it's grilled over charcoal or gas-heated lava rocks, as long as it tastes good.
74. Year I was born. On Cinco de Mayo: Taurus.
75. No tattoos or piercings.
76. I was once my son's brother. No joke.
77. Coca-Cola over Pepsi-Cola. Had Pibb in my great-grandparents' Sheboygan, Wisc., basement before it made its popular comeback.
78. Took freshman comp with Dr. Phil Dillman at CMU. Scored a B, he became a friend, gave me lots of books in exchange for yard work. When I visited Michigan in the summer of 1993, I drove him to Ann Arbor where he was diagnosed with the cancer that took his life a two years later.
79. Never cared for pet rodents, but we kept rabbits and a guinea pig (who was blind from chewing through an electrical cord).
80. I have started a lot of books I haven't finished yet. Lots.
81. Wore size 14 shoes at the age of 13. Still do. Well, no, not the same pair of shoes.
82. Early in high school, I refused to write an essay declaring my religious values on the grounds that it wasn't anybody's business. After a parent-teacher conference (thick with teacher-talk centered on my transgression), we agreed that I would write it for my mom, who was an early childhood teacher. She gave me a B, noting that I didn't spend sufficient time on it.
83. I don't care for golf.
84. I've never been to the Grand Canyon or
85. Two vivid oral reading memories: A Summer in the South with my mom, and Where the Red Fern Grows with my uncle G.
86. My first time on an airplane was when I was in kindergarten. My brother and I flew with two of our grandmothers to Seattle shortly after Mt. St. Helens erupted. Ashy.
87. I keep a mileage log, noting how much gas and how many miles every time I fill up. It's ridiculous, according to D., since I never use the data for anything. It's just spinning into a data-list, vehicular narrative. What could be more productive while the fuel flows? Windshield washing?
88. I have a difficult time telling people no when they approach me for favors. As a result, I get buried in odds and ends.
89. On the first "official" night of the Gulf War, I went by myself to watch Edward Scissorhands for a review speech I had to deliver in a high school class.
90. My older brother was a wiz with Legos. We had a small, white suitcase filled most of the way with them. One time he built a grand ship--far better than anything I could have done. I carried it to the top bunk and released it into the air. It flew straight to the wooden chair where, when it landed, it smashed into bits.
91. Payback for the time he busted a rotten squash on my face, giving me my first bloody nose.
92. Car radio auto-set on 1. R&B and hip-hop, 2. Adult Urban, 3.Kansas NPR, 4. UMKC NPR, 5. Suburban Pop, 6. Hip-hop.
93. My elbows and pinkies are double-jointed.
94. I shoot pool left handed, except when I play on Yahoo! Then I use the mouse with my right hand, which explains why I'm woeful in both settings.
95. I rooted for the Cleveland Browns passionately during the Bernie Kosar era--Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Mack, Webster Slaughter, and on and on. I was ridiculed for wearing a Browns jacket during most of junior high. Now Ph. wears it when he wants to sport a "vintage" look.
96. I played the trombone for a few weeks. Beyond that, I'm musically inept.
97. D. and I knew each other for 17 years before we got married last summer.
98. My first professional conference was the C's in Atlanta. V.V. delivered the keynote, "On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism." I remember it vividly.
99. My dad sent D. an email the other day to wish her well with student teaching. He reminded her that my mom was an early childhood teacher, and he had this to say: "For her, teaching was play." I could elaborate a lengthy, complicated teaching philosophy, but I won't do that here, since I'm at the end of the list. I really like that nugget, not just for the ways it reflects my mom's approach to teaching or D.'s, but my own, too.
100. In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.