Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wait Until the Price Goes Down?

Thanks to McSweeney's, I came up with the perfect holiday gift for my nephews.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Small Convex Kind You Stick On

Dog-eared in PrairyErth, a book I was reading last summer:

But the stories didn't work very well for me, and I walked on, the sky dimming like my mood. Then I remembered that in the little rucksack I carry on my tramps, somewhere among the notebook and pencils, binoculars and magnifying glass, camera and canteen, field guides and raisins, was a thing I'd bought a few days earlier and still had not used: a truck side-mirror, the small convex kind you stick on. I'd recently read about an eighteenth-century traveler's device called a Claude glass that served to condense and focus a landscape and make it apprehensible in a way direct viewing cannot. When the English poet Thomas Grey first crossed Lake Windermere, he reserved his initial view of the other side for his Claude glass by blindfolding himself on the ferry. Maybe my mirror could rearrange things and show me, so memory-ridden, what I was having trouble seeing.

I pulled out the thing and walked slowly on, watching in it the hills compress and reshape themselves into something different, and what happened was strange and invigorating: in the glass the Chase prairie somehow took on the aspect of my first views of it, and I began to feel again the enchantment of those early encounters. By looking rearward, it was as if I were looking back in time, yet I was looking at a place where left was right, a two-dimensional landscape I could see but not enter: the prospect was both real and impossible, it was there and it wasn't, and I entered it by walking away from it. If I turned to look, it was gone, something like the reverse of the old notion that when we turn our backs the universe suddenly disappears, to reappear instantly only when we look again. If I extended the mirror far in front of me, I--or a backward image of me--joined that turned land, a dreamscape that could exist only in my palm, a place behind I could see only by looking forward: I was hiking north and traveling south. And then, stumbling along as I was, I realized that ever since I'd come down off Roniger Hill and begun walking my grids I'd been traveling much the same way, and I realized that forward or backward didn't matter so much as did the depth of the view, a long transit at once before and behind: the extent of cherishing depends upon the amplitude of the ken. (268)

This is William Least Heat-Moon on memory and perspective-two faculties that have, more than others, given shape to my day: a productively clumsy practice interview on campus this morning, the sawing and propping of a Fraser Fir in the living room, and intermittent, melancholic jabs in remembering that my mother, had she lived past 48, would have turned 60 today. So: I could have used a Claude glass--or a truck side-mirror--deliberately to adjust my perspective at a few different points--a mirror trick to help me vanish momentarily from the Syracuse landscape, reverse directions, "rearrange things."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Comfort Inventory 6

In typical C.I. fashion, a list:

  • Is. asked to play this song over and over and over today.  And at lunch she kept saying, "Tee-ka-lee."
  • Grades. Check.
  • To cap the semester, a meeting tomorrow and a mock in-person interview on Friday. Mock: I am to sport a turtleneck and then all of my questioners heckle me about the answers when it's over. Kidding aside, I'm grateful for the simulations.
  • In the spring I will be teaching an online section of WRT205 associated with University College.  I have some decisions to make.  Today I've been thinking about a focus on attitude: worldview, manner (a split of Burkean agency), and so on.  I saw something about Carol Dweck's Mindset, but it also could tie in with a whole range of stuff: cool studies, believing/doubting, standpoint theory, perspective.  Due to my insufferable pre-course-configuring nomadism, tomorrow I will be thinking something else, no doubt. The semester begins January 12, which means I have until 11:30 p.m. on January 11th to make up my mind.
  • WRT195ers finished last week with Pecha Kucha presentations--re-makes of their six week sustained research projects.  The switch from the textually intensive "paper" to the visually intensive and improvised presentational-performance: a hit, and something I'd definitely like to do again. 
  • One of the presentations included the uncanny (and unintended) substitution of "digital naives" for "digital natives" (on a slide). I know Weinberger has mentioned "digital naives" before, but it was sort of a surprise fit here in that the point was made in the context of the adeptness of "digital natives."
  • My bags are packed and ready for MLA later this month.
  • No, no they're not.  That's a joke (a real side-splitter, I'm sure, for anyone both type A and on the market).  But I do have the itinerary for a trip embedded in another trip: first to Detroit by car, then to SF by plane, then back to Detroit by plane, and "home" to Syracuse by car.
  • Is. has been busy at the whiteboard sketching humanoids.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Mint Green

song chart memes

Any word on what the blue tastes like? (via).


How about a spiffy floormat as a gift for the academic job seeker(s) in your life? Of course, at more than $600 US, it had better come with the black boots and a magic spell for a round trip carpet ride to the SF MLA later this month. (via)