Farther Away Than They Seem ?

Twenty-twenty-three in a word was reparative, rested-through with healing and repair of different sorts: reconnecting with longtime friends, quieting the email inbox and impulses toward glinty but ever-toilsome careerism, and too, physically, sticking with the trouble of massage and physical therapy regimens, and making a certain amount of peace with the notably prevalent Western mythology that embodied life is possibly pain-free, when it turns out that time wags a finger and says no it’s not.

I re-read those resolutions from 2017, a good enough set for an echo:

more laughter, longer beardgrowth, occasional blog entries, regular running, new tattoo, Grand Canyon, more kimchi, early yoga and earlier meditation, watercolors, heartier alliances, coalition building, political resilience, generosity and kindness, when to habituate and when to digress and when to rest, longer olive branch, mightier dynamite, more olive branch dynamite, cayenne hot chocolate, eclectickler reading, more drawing, bigger optimism, more sunshine, and more laughter.

From “Resolving in 2017

Running is out, but there is biking, swimming, and yoga ahead. No Grand Canyon coming up. Olive branch and dynamite were administrative tactics, and although I will have a brief interim administrative stint in 2024, all that’s needed for a few months is a steady hand and a positive outlook. I will be doing well if I continue the reading and writing and drawing rhythms that found cadence over the second half of 2023. Cayenne hot chocolate is always a sure, why-not treat, but it’s better enjoyed infrequently, every third month, let’s say.

In numbers, 2023 reduces to the following easily tabulated scores. There’s always more in that hazy margin of activities that don’t deserve to be record kept for future lookbacks in future orbits: hours around the house doing this or that, the repairs and painting in the shed, cooking, mowing, and so on.

  • Email confirmations tell me I spent 40 hours in the pool at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in 2023.
  • Forty rides totaling 25 hours, 41 minutes on the stationary bike, according to Strava. Most of these were in the cold weather months, Jan-Feb and Nov-Dec.
  • 20 hours, 32 minutes with the healthy back set of exercises, each on its own standing as a 16-17 minute clip.
  • This averages 100 minutes each week of fitness activity, but these figures are not especially flat considering that some months saw a lot of activity, and others, less.
  • There were 29 blog entries in 2023, more than I’d posted in any other year since 2011, back when del.icio.us bookmarks were automatically setting up at EWM. I also posted a handful of entries at the RIDE Blog for ENGL6344, but I haven’t included those in this tally.
  • I drew 41 new illustrations, including the last six in the Cirque du Felinity set. ProCreate doesn’t make it especially easy to get to the time-spent ticker for each image, but these average maybe 2.5 hours each, which I would crudely extrapolate to 100 hours of drawing. But this, too, falls very unevenly across the months. Not as much drawing in the summer months, for example.

I’m tempted to extend this to workside scores for committees and teaching, mentoring and advising, review tasks, letters, and more, but I will resist that temptation, and, anyway, Faculty Activity Reports are due at the end of January, so I will have cause to look back at 2023 through the lens of productivity. There were events, like rallying for a response to the proposed landfill nearby and like listing and selling the Ypsi condo, but these, too, are difficult to quantify. Hours pile up. One other outstanding impression as we flip the calendar to ’24 is that I was in Michigan in every month except April, and that meant seven round trips by car, one half trip (returning to Va. on January 5), and one roundtrip flight for a campus visit, so 3,500 miles on the Subaru and occasional twinges of fatigue from packing and from 120 hours in the car. This is one score I’d like to be a tiny bit lower in 2024, though I do miss Ph. and Is. and T. mightily when I am not in Michigan.

That’s it; that’s the look-back roundup. May 2024 clear way, wiser and kinder as we go.

Oblongs ⭕️

Coordinating via email: Zoom call, Saturday brewery meet-up, another eventual meeting (please send in your every availability for the week of the 27th); trail of comments on research projects; only a few per day; skim social media, which for me is limited to Instagram and Facebook; sometimes I hear people call these “insta” or “the book” and I want to be the sort of suspenseful 1974-borne who pauses accounts cicada-like going back underground for the next seventeen years1The shutdown tempts me, yet I remain, in part because the peripherality is manageable and not as much of an attention succubus as it once was.. Hold on the dog is barking hold on. Okay I’m back. The dog is ‘O’ but I sometimes jokingly call him ‘Y’ and also sometimes ‘sister,’ like ‘Z’ back home, but these are private jokes between us and there is no laughing only blank looks. A dry humor. Warming up keystrokes, warming up to Healthy Back series on Back Exercises App, which I have done 137 times this year for not quite 40 hours, stronger but the healing interventions have been happy baby and five minute intervals twice daily sprawled on foam neck and back stretcher, a spiky half moon that arrived with no instructions and whose guiding diagrams online are inconsistent, sometimes with the sharp curve up head-side and other times tail-side2Knocking on wood, after more than a year of physical therapy and seriously debilitating intervals of back pain, I have not felt any such pain in one week. Pack your bag of tortures, homo dolores!. There is no laughing only blank looks.

Earlier this fall Han’s Non-Things invited us into a distinction between biopolitics and psychopolitics3We read Non-Things in ENGL6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments as lead-up to How to Do Nothing.. I don’t have the book closeby here in Michigan, but I recall that the distinction suggested an era of biopolitics, even as it continues, has ceded primacy to an era of psychopolitics whose machinations are principally digital, playing out in the circuitry of endless streams, clickbait, outrage, enclaving, context-collapsed post-truth entropy, willful parasitism, attentional complicity, and expansive sociocultural zombie drool. When we jumped next to Jenny Odell’s case for bioregionalism, the prefixes began for me to phosphoresce, and, out of that phosphorescence emerged questions about psychoregionalism (the states of mind patterned in a sited, terrestrial surround). And then with Kristin Arola’s argument for and demonstration of a land-based digital rhetoric, which sets up a layering of semiosphere, or semiotic-rhetorical orders, and biospheres, or organic-biotic orders, the prefixes dominoed again, leading next to a triptych of sorts, with semiosphere, biosphere, and psychosphere. The spheres are more or less congruous, non-neat shapes that align and overlap, or don’t. More oblongs than circles. To recast them as heuristic would be to consider them as hues with chromatic weights, then to notice which is drawn down and which is amplified in a given scenario. An arc across the weeks this semester has been to care for each of these spheres both as they were rendered by authors, but also in terms of what reshuffles into the front channel when one is dialed up and the other is dialed down. Within the context of digital rhetoric, the semiosphere (closely matched with the so-called infosphere, arguably, which suffers the exuberance of dataists) is whizzing and buzzing, but the bio- and psychospheres are mined, predated upon, ignored, and even obliterated. Granting a record of harm, then, a justice turn for digital rhetoric (and its corresponding disciplinary namesakes) shifts reparative, setting out to heal, to repair, to mend. And there is much more to say about this; for now I wanted only to note the spheres/oblongs as taking hold among the gauges; to check with these is to feel the broken world, and to carry on attuned to its tolling gravities.

Notes

  • 1
    The shutdown tempts me, yet I remain, in part because the peripherality is manageable and not as much of an attention succubus as it once was.
  • 2
    Knocking on wood, after more than a year of physical therapy and seriously debilitating intervals of back pain, I have not felt any such pain in one week. Pack your bag of tortures, homo dolores!
  • 3
    We read Non-Things in ENGL6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments as lead-up to How to Do Nothing.

In Dribs and Drabs

And the old blog gets another new entry. It runs, though much is stuck. Garage floor rag for gas cap, as if there was fuel to from sloshing. Comments work, somewhere under the hood chewing and taking one helluva long time to post. Human-check captcha device broke, left behind versions ago. Latest comments widget broken. On this day, broken. Wordcount javascript whatever that was, broken. These among the irreparable few. And the last touch to get things going again involved replacing the script-assigned permissions upon publishing, for folders dropping 0777 to 0775 and for files flipping from 0666 to 0664. Eleven replacements and file overwrites in all so that host and republished entries and archives were harmonious again. It’s not sustainable, or rather, not long-sustainable. Sustainable only ever meant for-now-sustainable, anyway.

Last entry made it to IFTT->Twitter. But atom/RSS never seems to have fired, even though XML structure should be hospitable. As such, this amounts to another turn of the key, making sure exhaust reaches exhaust pipe for predictablish circulation.

Breaktest

An old blog breaks down. Stops working. Fails to grant access to even the control panel, not that anyone remembers the username and pissword, anyway. There’s bondo in the basement, duct tape in a kitchen junk drawer (no, the other junk drawer; the junkier drunk drawer). And then there’s some crappy old untended website with versions galore of Movable Type. Yeah, that same Movable Type from over a decade ago. It’s still wheezing around on the internet. Right here! Version 5.2.13. I had to delete a bunch of tags to get it running. Much of it probably doesn’t work. Comments? They probably return errors. When a blog is rattling around with fewer effs to give than ever before, well, whatever there is, work with it. It was always enough before. Why not now?

And if this shows up online? Breaktest passed.

Documenting The Week That Was In A Single Photo

Ice Cream

The week? Well, as you can see, there was ice cream. As for the ice cream, I neither stepped in it while trying to get into the car nor had a taste of it before it was discarded so carelessly as you see it here. In fact, I don’t even know whose it was.

So as not to seem like I am chronicling woes, this short list will give you some sense of things: an undelivered (i.e., lost) package of books from Amazon.com, a visit to City Auto to have a repair estimate on the parts of the Element affected by a basketball hoop blown into it by last Saturday’s intense winds (think: duct tape is holding parts on the car right now), and a missing teaching station (i.e., computer cart) in my first class of the new semester. Fortunately, family, friends, and colleagues have been singing variations of “The sun will come out, tomorrow,” so persistently that I have been mesmerized into an optimistic outlook on next week, a week in which, if I am lucky, there will be more ice cream and fewer half-eatens chucked aside to melt in the place where I must step to get into the car. Plus: Amazon.com emailed me to say they are re-sending a package of the same books; insurance is covering the damages to the Element (even if it will be a five-day repair); and, I carried my own cords, bubble gum, and a piece of duct tape to the classroom and tested the projection system this afternoon, and it worked perfectly.

Note: It’s a small wonder that this is not the first I have alluded to this Annie song, considering I’ve never sat through Annie, movie or musical.

Bolt Fix

While 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.”
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