Christiansburg, Va., bungalow, a short gravelly turn from Oak Grove.

Closed on this place Monday. And then had satellite internet installed, tested the landline service, scoped the attic, uncorked and drained the pond taking much notice of the cold-bloodeds contentedly murked in the early December slurry, chatted under light rain showers with the neighbor, and then on the way home—wherever after all really is home—ate Due South BBQ, the “trough” with sides of fried okra and banana pudding. These next two weeks are peak moving chaos between managing to keep pace with work and managing to transition so that bills aren’t piling up at the new place and the Blacksburg apartment for too long. It’s a welcomed change, moving to this address, what I think is the 26th place I’ll have received USPS mail in now going on 48 earth years. And it’s more rural than most for being at the end of a dirt road, not a cell signal in ping’s reach. Of those 25 other addresses, one was seven years (in high school); two trailers on Winn Road were five years apiece (when I was a tot and then early elementary school-aged). Seven years is the longest anywhere. But this hollow, if I can befriend the watercourse, the insect kin, and the reptile kin, I do like to imagine being here for a while.

Out of Office

Emptying Hoyt 810

Dropped by Hoyt Hall Friday afternoon to pick up a couple of final items and help a colleague move a table. Others needed a hand with a chair, too, which turned into an impressive feat, considering the only way to fit the base of the recliner into the truck cab was to leave the window rolled down. In any case, the College of Arts and Sciences is officially in a transitional phase, boxed and binned somewhere between the dormitory where we’ve held office since May 2010 and the new, improved Pray-Harrold.

I am sure the new digs will be better than the temporary ones, but I already know I am returning to PH612M, the same office I was in before the renovations. The bad of it is that I will be giving up the light of day, running water, in-office toilet, a window that opens, and roughly 40% of the square footage I enjoyed in the dorm. The good of the transition is that the window that opened and let in light also leaked water when torrents of rain washed against the NW face of the building, assorted carpet odors, in-office toilet, and climate control that doesn’t involve opening a window in the dead of winter. I’m sure the good will outweigh the bad, ultimately, but visual confirmation has to wait until August 24th, the day when we are welcome to reunite with our stuff in the old-now-new building.

It’s too soon to say whether I will one day feel sad about never returning to Hoyt 810. I spent a lot of time in that office–five days a week without interruption for the better part of 14 months, and I got some important work done there. I also had room for all of my books, which I unfortunately don’t expect to be the case in the new office.


Back in the back porch, Is. now rides loops on a loaner tricycle–a “loaner” because we have generous friends whose two kids are margins older and younger than Is. such that they bookend the “age of trikes.” The three-wheeler’s a Radio Flyer Fold-n-Go; we’ll return it just before we leave town next summer, just before their youngest is ready, just about the time Is. levels up to a small bicycle with training wheels. In the meantime, she rolls self-powered over the pile. Plus, one less thing to load with the other hybrids when we Fold-n-Go.


In addition to this newfound locomotion (i.e., something like “motion out of a locale” or “located/emplaced motion”), our conversations have continued to take flight, too: “What sort of bird is Big Bird, anyway?” I suggested “chicken,” and Is. insisted “a duck.” “A duck? Really?”

With great certainty: “Yes. A duck.”

Things III: Temporary Storage

The garage temporary houses piles of containers, stacked desks (listed at
Craigslist, on the cheap!), mattresses (Ph. has gone with a futon), a jogging
baby stroller (uh…would require jogging?), a decorative artificial tree (listed at Craigslist,
cheap! cheap!), a travel crate for Y., etc. This list,
continued to its limits, would become so long as to be unreadable.


This is a shot of our holding bay (i.e., in-house storage unit) from
yesterday. Today it does not look so piled up as this. Relocation involves
a series of temporary storage spaces–relay stations. Ideally, the
distance between such stations is short enough that carrying items from one to
the next is not back-breaking.

Phase Transitions

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

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

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

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