Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Soaking up the sun at Snow Canyon and Zions

A little amateur photography by the youngster at Snow Canyon: Long stick of wheat grass against rocks...or something like that.

Less known yet just as beautiful Snow Canyon.

Mini-desert lakes: Snow Canyon

Resting on the first set of switchbacks towards Angel's Landing and only photo we got of Hana hiking.

We are actually heading down here, but forgive the chronology: the last section of switchbacks before it really got steep.

Gives me goosebumps and shivers, both the good and bad kind: that's not merely a beautiful landscape behind us; it's the trail we just came up.

Last half of Angel's Landing: aren't trees amazingly resilient?

This was a good idea, right?

On top of Angel's Landing there was just enough snow to make one nervous.

Seth on top of Angel's Landing gaining a few more feet of elevation than the rest of us.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sun, what else?

Impossible to express how much I'm enjoying the sun aand 50+ degrees of St. George. Just got back from hiking Angel's Landing in Zions with the family--little ice and snow but not bad. Heading to the Pasta Factory which offer great build your own pasta options. Yum.

Why, I ask, did it take me so long to figure out this simple equation:

sun + christmas break + warmth + travel = a much, much happier Ron

Last year Vegas and St George--from here on out I will travel somewhere warm and sunny EVERY winter break. No doubt.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Wonderful Christmas Eve

I'm watching George Bailey walking through the snow, staring into the water, contemplating a jump to end it all. It's all very familiar... Over-warm because Andrew, my youngest, insisted on the once-a-year traditional fire which moves the temp squarely into the 80s. All of us watching a film together--a rarity. A night of Santa-Clausing ahead though, now with two teens, much scaled down as there are no big toys to assemble, no big surprises really. Left-over Chinese food in the fridge from our Christmas Eve dinner.

How many views? A dozen at least. Even I have some of the dialog mostly memorized:

"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet"

"A flaming rum punch?...Look mister we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast"

"She's an old maid. She never married." (haunting music playing)

And I start to notice details I've overlooked: a squirrel on uncle Billy's desk; a skull on Potter's desk when he offers George Bailey a job; Christmas masks George's children are wearing (btw how did anyone think it was a good idea for a child to run around in a old man Santa mask? creepy!).

And so tonight I celebrate ritual and tradition where life slows and repose is found if but a moment.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lotsa books III: The end of faith by Sam Harris

I had a fair amount of context I brought to this book: had always meant to read something by Sam Harris once I was aware of him several years ago, had heard him debate Chris Hedges on Truthdig and was impressed with his clear reason in the debate though ultimately sided more with Hedges, had first read Richard Dawkins'The God Delusion as my introduction to the New Atheists.

What I liked:
  • Harris attacks the right and left with vigor, even more so the left especially in chapter 4, "The problem with Islam" which caused me to question every apologetic word I've uttered in defense of moderate Islam.
  • He is much much more readable than Dawkins
  • He, unlike Dawkins, doesn't try to simultaneously take on religion and any "unscientific" discourse like postmodernism (at least he doesn't in this book)
  • So many provocative quotables--I will give you a few:
"Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed" (45)

"The only thing we should respect in a person's faith is his desire for a better life in this world; we need never have respected his certainty that one awaits him in the next" (225)

"We have, in response to the this improbable fact, declared war on 'terrorism.' This is rather like declaring war on 'murder'; it is a category error that obscures the true cause of our troubles. Terrorism is not a source of human violence, but merely one of its inflections" (28)

Monday, December 06, 2010

In homage to lotsa books

Having books all around your house leads to 67% more reading though does not, according tot he experts, necessarily lead to actually finishing books; therefore, a celebration is in store every time I actually finish a book:

From the last page of the simply, yet fully explanatory, Bodies by Susie Orbach

"Our struggle is to recorporealise our bodies so that they become a place we live from rather than an aspiration always needing to be achieved"

"We need bodies sufficiently stable to allow us moments of bliss and adventure when, sure that they exist, we can then take leave of them"

NOTE: neither of these quotations was underlined though the previous reader of this book carefully, well not so carefully, underlined many insightful passages. My guess is once said reader hit the last two pages she was too excited, yet tired, to mark anymore. That, or I have no sense of a good quote.

Orbach also offers several critiques of postmodernism's insistence on performing our bodies in an effort to celebrate multiplicity and fluidity, but I won't bother with those quotations as certainly both sides overstate.

Time taken to read this simple, straight-forward, 200 page book: Several months, maybe more.

Context: book got lost amongst amazon and purchases...and I think my wife borrowed it for a bit.

Lotsa books

The good thing about ordering lots of books online is that you get a package every day or two and, because you ordered so many and can't remember which book should be arriving, you get surprised each time you tear through that incredibly tough plastic crap they wrap them in; the bad thing is they cost money and take up space to the point of bookshelf and office overload which threatens to cover every free space (but maybe that's a good thing too because now everywhere I look I see a book and I like books; except I also, then, feel a bit overwhelmed because I have so much to read--possibly a tie between the good and the bad).

Off to open my two packages, the ones I've been eyeying as I typed each of these words.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

A hilarious memoir by Elna Baker. As always I'm probably late to the party, but if my ex/non/less active mormon friends haven't read this you should because you will laugh and most certainly find connections with her struggles to be a "faithful" mormon; and my anti/non/living in utah friends should read her memoir because it should help humanize mormons who seem to do crazy things (like not having sex until they are married).

It's certainly the most rukous, honest, over-the-edge writing I've ever read by a practicing mormon. For example while staring into those funky amusement park mirrors, ones which made her look 80lbs skinnier, she says, "For the first time, I had a sweet spirit and a sweet ass." Now that's the best double entendre of the Mormon "sweet" that I've ever read.

Other highlights:

*Comparing a patriarchal blessing to Keannu Reeves visiting the Oracles in the Matrix

*A description of how she used the "Fascinating Girl" (a book it seems many young Mormon girls were given which instructs them on how to please men through submission; my wife received a copy from her grandmother but I don't think it worked) to help her get a mormon boyfriend

*while getting hot and heavy with her atheist boyfriend she suddenly, unintentionally whispers in his ear "you need to pray and find out if god exists" which she later subscribes to her struggle with God Tourette's syndrome.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BSG is over

I just finished the last 14 minutes of Battlestar Galactica as I ate my lunch--the last 14 minutes of the entire series. And let me tell you my friends that I am sad, sad of heart and mind. How can it be over already? What will happen to Admiral Adama without Roslin? Will the Cylons attack again? How will the humans and Cylons live together?

Rarely have I been so caught up in a series. And, sadly, I'm sure it will be a long long time before I find something as good. Thanks to Dr. W and Middlebrow for hooking me up though now you are responsible for my withdrawals.

BSG you were so frakking good!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last week we went to some U of U musical festival (aka spend lots of student fee money type event). We did not go for the event but for the middle group FUN, a group my oldest son introduced us to while we drove oh the many miles to Pacific Ocean and Redwoods. Growing to like FUN, the wife and I were IN when we found out about the concert.

Little did we know that there would be NO-body over the age of say 27 at the concert and NO-body under the age of say 18. So we were both the oldest at 40 or so and the youngest at 15 and 16 (the friend Seth took). I knew I was an outlier when they handed me a pamphlet on unintended pregnancies while waiting for a free snow cone. With three intended pregnancies completed and one vasectomy between us it didn't seem we were prime candidates for this literature. I guess we could have given one to my son and his friend-girl but we didn't want them to think of such things.

Other than feeling a bit old (yet also hip) it was a great concert. We were able to get quite close without getting down in the mosh-pit where we could see our son and friend bobbing around (their lack of age didn't scare them away from moshing). FUN was indeed very fun. An fairly new indie pop/rock band: check out their music video and other songs (especially The Gambler). And if you like come enjoy some FUN with us at The Venue on October 16th.

Surely there will be some older folks (like say 31) at the Venue, right?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

shout out

I rarely do this but I must I must: if you missed or if you don't read his blog, check out Signifying nothing's disc golf movie posted a couple of weeks ago. I had a full-body, all out laugh.

p.s. also watching this video might lessen any lingering anger you have about dogs or about my views concerning dogs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

An open letter to dog owners

Ok, so I hate dogs. There you go. I've said it. Sorry dog lovers but it's mostly true. Sometimes it seems safer to criticize the sancrosanct halls of religion than the glorious cultural institution of dog ownership.

It's not that I hate any one dog in front of me panting or chasing a stick or one I'm petting. In fact I find dog faces and actions to be charming (except the nose-in-crotch-move), even cute. And I'm perfectly willing to put up with the nose-in-crotch or even the dog-shit-on-shoe. Unfortunately dogs also bark and whine. And this I hate.

Of course most dog owners think those annoying dogs are the other guys, but I'm pretty sure that can't be true. Those barking dogs all over must be owned by some of the people who think their dogs rarely bark. BARKING DOGS REALLY STRESS ME OUT. And this makes me wonder why people love dogs so much given that they bark, given that they know they will annoy their HUMAN neighbors, keep them up, put them on edge. How does one justify impacting 20 people who live around you so you can once in awhile walk your dog or rub his head???

Annoy isn't quite the right word though; it under-sales the annoyance. It's about more than just an annoyance. Example: Often these days I can't go out in my back yard to pick a tomato because...a stupid dog, one I've tried to make friends with no success, barks wildly at me. This makes me feel like I lost ownership of my back yard and my garden, enjoyments I deserve but are now taken away from me because someone believes owning a dog is vital to their lives.

Yet if the dog is vital why do I hear the owner yelling constantly at the dog to shut-up? I do not understand dog ownership. I simply do not. That's ok but if someone wants a dog please don't share the negative aspects of such a purchase with me, your neighbor. I didn't choose to buy a dog and I don't get any of the benefits (face licks? companionship? goofy looks we anthropomorphize?).

Nervously awaiting attacks from readers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

OR Coast and CA Redwoods

2275: miles driven

7: national forests visited

2: national parks seen (Crater and Redwood)

4: state parks entered (two amazing ones just outside of Coos Bay)

3: P & B sandwiches eaten

22: couples traveling 101 with bikes heavy laden gear

Thousands: redwood trees experienced

1: redwood trees driven through

2: helpings of fish and chips

0: things left in hotels

3: things left in hotel 2 weeks ago in Cedar city

3: visits to the hot tub

1: motel dives stayed at

3: gracious, mostly curious, kid-teen travelers

2700: feet gained on hikes

9: hikes taken

4: motels/hotels stayed in

3: bike rides with the wife

80: miles cycled

1: dangerous cycle ascent and descent on highway 101 into the deliciously dark redwoods

thousands: rocks on the ocean hopped with youngest son

2: days before I must return to work

Saturday, July 31, 2010

If I were sane

I should really get ahead today but I won't. Instead we biked nearly 50 miles (and I think it counts for 50+ as it included the very long, steep ascent to the LDS Bountiful temple). Now will shower (yes I am sitting in my office chair and writing in my unwashed stinky cycling jersey--had to ice my hip man!), then go eat at the Buddhist Temple (yes they do have a Buddhist Temple in Layton), then eat some ice cream and berries because everything will taste delicious after our 3 hr ride this morning (one of THE reasons I exercise), then will think about reading something like the Icelandic novel HighTouch recommended but I won't because I will be so tired (or maybe I will read 2 pages before my, then I'm not sure what I will do--certainly it won't be of the getting-ahead nature though as by then I will be too tired to do anything worky (btw the reason I should get ahead is because the work, ah the work of grading and the hiring committee, will come crashing down on monday so if I were sane I would try to get just a little bit ahead but I won't).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Sloughing off of desire

I'm not writing in my own or reading many blogs these days. It was not a conscious decision; rather, instead, a slow sloughing of desire for inside/computer things and an increase in desire for outdoor/cycling/hiking/gardening activities.

Still, I do check into the blogging world on occasion--just read (though didn't comment) a great post from HT Mega and the Cold cold north.

Maybe I will get revved up about blogging or possibly it will fade into that distant past of "things I used to do." Either way, I am certainly glad I started a blog several years back.

It was at a crucial moment for me--negotiating and constructing an identity not tied to the rules and regs of Mormonism. But that main purpose is now less pressing and, for all my good intentions, I doubt I will every fully develop a blog for the people as some of my friends have done. Seems I am in the majority of bloggers who ebb and flow according to personal needs and circumstances; a rare blogger it is who creates a robust consistent public persona like HT Mega or Signifying Nothing.

Most of us our content with the ebb and flowing, personal rants, lists and occasional deep reflections. Which is fine too (i.e. no criticism intended). Merely interesting to note, for me, our different motivations for making our writing public. In intend no hierarchy of blogging. I could now go all scholarly here with a bit of work but I think not. If I did I might contradict the entire tenor of my post--the sloughing off of desire.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stop the insanity

I'm walking on the sidewalk in the cul de sac where I live, toward the house which has been vacant for over a year. My errand is improbable: to retrieve a political door hanger recently deposited. Walking over, barefoot with the images--the sun shaving away, the alpenglow--of Dillard's "Total Eclipse" still washing over me, I feel the calm sureness of my meditative walking of last summer. Yet deeper, I'm rattled, heart quickens remembering the charged emotions of minutes ago.

"Can I give you one of these?" a young man of maybe 20 asks approaching my swing, stepping on my grass, entering my space.

"What is it?" I ask in a friendly tone; I'm pretty sure he won't give a sales pitch as he has been quickly leaving his hangers on each door.

"Tim Bridg...."

"No, I'm not interested in that." He turns and walks to the next house.

But to my surprise I'm not through with him: "Too bad you are wasting your time on that." He walks quickly up to the next house cutting across the lawn. I watch.

When he turns to come back to the sidewalk, I heckle: "So we need someone more conservative huh? That's what we need? More business. Less concern for the everyday guy?" He does not proffer even a turn of the head.

As he moves to the next house, my boys come out from the living room, wondering about the commotion. I tell them that young man is supporting a lunatic and I won't have it on my lawn. I'm kind of grinning but their faces tell me it may be a sinister grin. The young man sneaks a quick peak back at us. I wonder what is going through his head: "another crazy liberal--should have known it with that earring" or maybe he was silently singing a hymn, a tactic learned on his LDS mission, to fight his impulse to break my face.

I almost start to chastise myself: could have talked to him...should have engaged him. But no; I'm angry and I'm not apologizing. Could have been much worse: I fantasize imagining door hangers accidentally falling to the ground, my hose unfortunately dousing them...very sorry for that.

And now I'm walking, walking barefoot with beautiful descriptions of an eclipse in my mind to retrieve these political rantings. I want to assure myself that I wasn't overreacting. I first notice "race" then "Stop the insanity" and almost panic: "maybe it's are actually critical of the the upcoming race, the whole thing." Relieved, yet profoundly disappointed, I see it is clearly a spot for Tim Bridgewater.

When Bob Bennett isn't conservative enough to make it out of the republican caucus you know you are in trouble. I'm angry. Knew I was peeved about all this but had no idea how angry. Tired of these rich people who tell us we should stop needless wealth distribution. How could this get a guy making 30K with no insurance to vote for Tim? But it will. And that guy will feel safer at night because he will believe that spooky Obamacare won't ruin our nation now that Tim is on the job.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Why we should walk (actually meant to post this yesterday)

I almost asked my wife to follow me in the van down to my local mechanic; I’m so glad I didn’t. On the short half mile walk home I was amazed at what I saw that I miss each day as I drive the same route to work: the refreshing brisk breeze, a mother goose with six tiny goslings, a enormously fat robin, the sound of a beautiful whistling bird which tellingly I do not know the name of, the presence of the wooded land somehow not developed along our neighborhood’s one and only country road.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m abundantly thankful for a cheap efficient car which moves me from place to place in comfort, but I was struck by the unseen, often unfelt price we pay if we unmindfully take advantage of this luxury.

Not grading

My plan was to grade 10-15 portfolios today--I've graded exactly zero. Still, I did give detailed feedback on a student essay being submitted to a national contest and one colleague's CCCC proposal; also, I finished my own proposal to NASPA, a conference for student affairs folks. And, of course, I attended the SLCC graduation (at least most of it). The question is do I have the wherewithal, at this point, to grade at least one student portfolio??? Unfortunately, I think not.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wordpress down

and why is this important? well my students are submitting their portfolios today which are hosted on wordpress. I'm supposed to be grading--not that I was mucho excited about that as grading sucks and I'm not feeling so great either. still I feel I'm being held captive by wordpress. WORDPRESS GODS PLEASE FIX YOURSELF!!!

What to do, what to do???

*eat lunch--definitely

*keep reading new YA SF novel by corey doctorow about cyber hacking teens fighting a police state in SF--definitely

*worry about not grading and the state of wordpress--unfortunately

*read blogs and other sundry Internet material--I don't think so it makes my head hurt

*ride my bike--probably not as it is lightly snowing and my head is increasingly hurting

*write a thoughtful blog post on something--neh, I'm too tired

*clean the house/do some laundry etc--probably since the wife is working full-time for the census and I promised I'd pick up the slack

Nifty, innovative idea to have students post final portfolio in off-campus Internet site seems now kind of lame.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A most audacious request

This morning I was met with a request which defies belief. I blinked several times, shook my head, and then focused carefully to see if the student was actually requesting admission to my summer class. No the student was not. Next, I rubbed my eyes and checked the date and reread carefully. Sure enough the student writes:

"I know that there is only one week or so of school left in this semester but if there was anyway I could some how add your class I would be enternaly greatful."

Yes indeed this is a student wishing to add my class with actually less than one week left of classes. The student assures me that he has already purchased all the class texts, read them and is willing to spend 10 hours day everyday until the end of the semester in order to pass. How does one respond to such a request? I have no idea. In fact I'm not even sure how I should write about it in my blog.

I could approach it through questions:

Seriously you read all of the class texts? All three novels? And all 1242 pages of our anthology?

Do you think I'm stupid?

Did you really think I'd say yes?

But this starts to sound repetitive. Instead maybe I could approach this writing task with potential challenges for the student:

If you have indeed read all 1242 pages of our anthology and all three novels, please submit by tomorrow a 30 page summary and analysis of your reading. Please include detailed references to every short story in the anthology and each chapter of every novel.

Of course I won't send either of these responses to this student. In fact I don't plan on replying at all. But I will say here, if being completely honest, that I'm quite grateful to this student. I now carry with me and will retell hundreds of times the MOST audacious student request I've every received. And for this I say, thank you.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Go forth and teach

Sometimes I want to completely throw off the shackles and restraints of textbook teaching. I'm so absolutely tired of wadding through the dreary quasi-academic prose of textbook-talk--not too difficult for students yet learned enough to impress the profs; always the same chapters on the same topics; always the bulging move to cover enough of everything to placate everyone while not perfectly pleasing anyone.

Student clones reading textbook clones writing essay clones to turn into instructor clones.

I'm gripped by the desire to declutter my classes, to remove all SUPERtexts--all things extraneous to students engaging ideas and then writing. An intellectually honest proposal to students: We will read and write and talk and then we will help each other to see what we don't yet know and then we will work hard to learn something more. That's it.

But...I know there would be problems. I know there does not exist some idealized learning situation where all SUPERtexts are removed. I, the teacher, the prof, the one who knows and grades, will always and forever be the SUPERtext, the one who must be relied on even if she knows nothing and wants nothing to do with anything SUPER.

Still I dream, dream of time where professors and students can engage language and idea without a METAplan of action, without a proscribed set of outcomes which mean nothing in practice, without glazed stares from students only wanting a pass. Why pander to the middle, to the lower middle, in order to pretend we are all learning something in an organized and outcomy kind of way? Why create structure and detailed, self-important plans at the expense of meaning?

Because we must. Because even in the best case scenario of educational contexts, there would be failures and confusion and frustration. And if we must have failure, confusion, and frustration it must, the SUPERtext tells us, be orderly failure. Because orderly failure can masquerade as success, can be rejiggered and then sent out in the President's email to the college to prove our on-going success as THE PREMIER community college of America. Because orderly failure can be reduced to a system which needs tinkering with, which needs a few more outcome goals, a little more hard work, a bit more commitment from students.

Orderly microchange is the answer! Go forth and teach: mark papers, prepare syllabi, crack textbooks, shift the curriculum, form committees. At least this way we won't lose any students in any untoward upheaval and confusion. Certainly some students will fail and class, at times, may feel dull, but at least we have a big official book and a PLAN.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The energy of the youth

I am so so so so tired. Somehow the gods of airplanes and conferences and teaching have decided to descend on me today. It's not that I don't feel good emotionally; I do. In fact I feel quite good but very very very tired.

Maybe it was the two weeks of in-person student conferences before I went to my conference in Louisville--which were wonderful but draining.

Maybe it was the having something early every morning at my conference (plus a penchant for staying up late each night to watch march madness, then read, then finally look over the conference workshops for the next day).

Maybe it is because I rushed that last week and the days before the conference to be ready for our presentation on Thursday.

Maybe it was the cop who pulled me over (ostensibly because I didn't stay in my lane and didn't allow for three seconds after signaling to change lanes) on Saturday near midnight after my long flight who then made me do the entire drunk test thing because he saw a small prescription bottle in my glove box.

Maybe it's because I took an oral steroid (which totally perked me up and allowed me to sleep less) on Monday and Tuesday for a knee-biking-injury-thing and now I am steroidless.

Maybe because today is the first day in like a month when I haven't been behind the 8 ball to get all kinds of things done--much to do but none of it is quite yet urgent.

OR Maybe it's because I am facing our taxes, a letter of recommendation, and sundry little things I've been putting off.

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm so unbelievably tired yet strangely jovial. A mood that shouldn't be, but I will take it. And later tonight I will full-out veg as I watch the NCAA tourney while I eat popcorn, make small talk with the family, and occasionally yell over quips for the oldest son's use who will probably again be defending Obama and healthcare reform on FB--ah the energy of the youth.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Off Grid

He'd been down this trail before, a trail which at first passes through mountain valleys and high pine-laden passes, soaring heights and deep dark pure river waters. Beautiful. Intriguing. Meaningful. There is no end, he is tempted to believe. But later, as always, the trail comes back down into a new valley in the city, one strewn with beer bottles and broken down old buildings. He will, as in the past, try to turn around, even frantically flipping a U-turn; unfortunately he merely encounters more run-down streets as if in a maze--they have multiplied as he was traveling, seemingly filling up the space behind him even as he was moving.

On occasion he will happen to take a turn and find a park, a few trees, even a small stream; yet the mountain vistas and earlier adrenaline of steep climbs and whizzing descents will remain forever allusive, these wispy simulacra giving brief reprieve but also pangs of unfulfilled desire. Soon he will stop peering high above the buildings; his neck hurts and his soul can't afford another "almost." So soon, very soon hopefully, he will readjust his focus, averting the impossible vistas, returning instead to the two feet forever, one at a time, moving forward...or at least moving somewhere comfortably past the same familiar, peeling sign each day.

Imitation is...reality and now I will extend my arms in front of me, palms upward, wrists together. Please God, plug me back in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I think winter is almost gone, the sun has definitely been out more, the air is much less gunkier. Yet when the wind hit me as I mojoed it from car to office early this morning, winter seemed to say, Not so fast you fair weathered wimp. Ah geez, I screamed. And then there's the 38 and clouds and snowflakes on my I-google app. C'mon already--warm it up! I want 5s followed by 4s and 8s turning to 6s followed by 3s. A 6 followed by anything would be grand. Sun in my face while eating my lunch in front of MY window office, I effectively pretended there were 6s out there, 6s followed by sweet 8s.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I'm absolutely Fucked

NOTICE: Not surprisingly this post contains strong language, sarcasm, full puppet nudity...wait, no, that was in the play I saw last night, hyperbole, and dark humor. If you are not up for such things (mother!!!!) then please by all means do not read another go**am word.


I'm absolutely Fucked

Yet realizing, fully admitting, this fact has, on this very morning, Counterintuitively given me a certain sense of peace.

Realization #1: I will have to dedicate every minute to completing the work I have in front of me until after the 4Cs conference in Louisville this March

Realization #2: This means (which is merely reiterating #1 but I'm thick skulled) I must work all weekends and all evenings without feeling sorry for myself--I chose (mostly) to be this busy and I like my work...really I do.

Realization #3: In order to work all weekends and evening (again I'm repetitive but I need it) this means I can't watch an episode of House every night or take 3 hour long snow hikes...i.e. I have to make some drastic changes.

Work to be done (Readers: this section can be skipped as it is really a process in convincing myself that I am indeed fucked and, to most, will seem a skimpy amount of labor at best):
  • Complete 4 Cs presentation and retention study: transcribe about 6hrs of recorded focus groups and interviews, do research, write up a draft of reports, decide with Sig-No and Antistrophe what the fuck we will say during our presentation
  • Read and lead book discussion on Life as we know it by M. Berube for English conference on Disability
  • Read Oliver Sack's amazing book on neurological disorders: The man who mistook his wife for a hat for personal book club
  • Finish grading first set of response papers for my SF class, grade 2nd set next week
  • Grade memoirs for 2010 course
  • Grade out midterm portfolios for all 70 students in 2010 the week before I go to Louisville--why oh why....oops I'm in no complaint mode
  • Review a new textbook on writing in the disciplines, one which is very thick
  • Submit report to TETCY on best TETYC article of 2009
  • Continue meeting with School curr committee which is in the throes of redefining itself
  • Support the Writing and social justice conference on Disability by shepherding a flock of students to submit proposals, complete their projects, and show up
  • Amidst all this try to respond in a timely and professional manner to the zillion student questions and inquiries which will surely come over the next 6 weeks
  • Continue developing English 2010 curriculum for my newly minted tech-enhanced course/ new textbook
  • Meet with and read carefully read work of the incredibly passionate and intelligent independent study student I'm working with
New rules and regulations governing the life of Ron:
  • Limit communication to children: "Do that now!" or "Do that now before I kick your ass!"
  • House viewing: 5 minutes per night as I do my core exercises
  • Sexual activity: A 3 minute quickie every week, one bonus 5 min session for following all rules and regulations for one week (will have to run this by significant other)
  • No silly blogging once I'm finished with this post--and don't even consider logging onto FB
  • Discontinue meditation and Yoga practices for 6 weeks--peace and serenity certainly won't help me get anything done!!!!
  • No useless conversations/emails with students about questions and concerns about assignments and their writing. New standard line: "You are so full of shit; just do you work and get back with me when you are done."
  • Lean Cuisine-It for all lunches--sandwiches and fruits are overrated anyways and peeling/cutting fruit is WAAAYYY too time consuming
  • Drive 95mph to work: this is 15 mph faster than I currently drive so that means I will travel 15 mph further each hour I drive. And since I spend about an hour driving every day that should save me... ah who the fuck knows and I don't have time to figure it out. Suffice it to say that it will save me time. P.S. I will kick it up to 105mph if I see flashing lights.
  • Only read and grade every other paper giving the all missed papers a B- grade--no one will notice and odds are every student will eventually get an honestly graded paper eventually
I will probably have to make other adjustments, maybe tweak a few I've listed here, but this is a good starting place. Wow, I am feeling a lot better about being totally fucked. Lots of peace. All right. Time to sign-off, time to get down to it, time to Zen-like, fully embrace me being absolutely Fucked.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An eight year old learning to chat

Last week I helped Andrew set-up a gmail account...I never imagined how much fun it would be. Here are some of my favorites:

Over chat while avoiding american idol by working:

hey what you doing? american idol is almost over well see you crazy

In an email:

hi dad what are you doing . It sucks that you have school. get home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (these go on for a whole page but I figure my readers get the effect)

While I was at a performance for my oldest son he chatted me:

get home please (note that I do not have cell phone which connects to the Internet)

In another email:

stop doing your lowsy work???!!!! (note rhetorical use of combined question mark and exclamation point...what a kid)

Ending on a somber note, through these little exchanges I've realized he is often wishing that I wasn't working so much...I had no idea. My lousy work???? But Andrew I'm a teacher!!!! Somehow I don't think he will care.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Waiting on the teens

I'm actually watching SNL, something I haven't done, other than off of You-Tube, for years. Why you might ask? Because I'm waiting for our almost-teen, Hana, and teenager, Seth, to get home. Alison has long been asleep so I'm on-call solo.

We don't really do this late night thing too well. Slowly chipping away at my late-night habits over the years, Alison has made 10:45pm seem late even on the weekend. I had to laugh when I read HTM's blog today where she mentioned staying up later because her 20 something son was out late. Many times we have--sorry to admit this in a public forum--fallen asleep while our teen was out and about. I guess we just suck as parents. Or maybe I just suck.

I have multiple distinct memories making a promise I am no longer keeping:

Groggily pleading out of a young parent haze, "Hon.... please... I promise. If you get up with the babies when they are you, I will stay up every weekend waiting for every one of our kids when they are teens. This is a good deal; it will just take some...."

"Ok, whatever."

"I love you...I love sweet sleep at 2am in the morning."

It seemed like a good plan at the time, but I didn't count on the fatal blow 14 yrs would have on my abilities to stay up, nor my waning worry about where they are. Well, here's my daughter, home from the movies. Should I call Seth at his friend's or simply go to sleep and figure his friend's parents will bring him home? It would be kind of fun not to call just to see how Seth would respond (while we have gone to sleep while he was out, we've never done it without a plan for his return). Would Seth worry about us? I highly doubt it. Would he come home earlyish, like midnight? Even less likely. Would he thank me in the morning for letting him stay out late? Probably.

Oh, shit guess I will go get him. Can't wait for a blast of 10 degree air. How in THE hell am I going to make it through another decade of this?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Parental Interview

Sunday afternoon: Seated on the couch when the oldest son enters and sits down, placing his hands on his knees:

"So you guys know your bed squeaks, right?"

"Does it?" he says with intentional nonchalance.

"Squeaks, huh?" she says with a little apprehension.

"Yes, it does. You know (breaking into song)... 'Making love in afternoon with Celia up in my bedroom'"

Floored and turning a shade of pink he says, "Oh, I see what you are getting at."

"Just so you know. It squeaks and has for some time."

"Wow, you are really sockin' it to us, aren't you?" he says.

"Just sayin'"

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I was feeling pretty good about myself this morning: I'd found what I think will be a great little "memoir" piece on disability which I can use in my English 2010 courses to call attention to this year's writing conference theme on disability; also, found an online copy of "Speech sounds," a short story where a disease of some sorts has caused everyone to have a speech disability to use in my SF class to also support the writing conference theme (btw this took some searching dexterity as I had to locate the publishing history of Speech Sounds and then look up several of the books on Google books till I found one which allowed access to the story--just sayin).

And I fleshed out the first month of my new 2o10 schedule which is going to use Odell's updated textbook, now called Writing Now and my newly conceived methodology--basically, to spend more time with fewer genres allowing students to make their "choices" within each genre rather than choosing amongst genres for their final portfolio. For the non-writing teachers reading, don't worry if this last paragraph made no sense at all.

So, I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments until I sent an email to the Writing and Social Justice committee to share the reading I found on diversity--almost everyone's email bounced back "Out of office Autoreply." WTF???!!! Seems most everyone is still partying and I'm sitting here, on the last Saturday morning of the break, working. I mean I don't even know how to set up an "Out of office" reply because I don't think I've ever been away from my email for long enough to worry about it. Is something wrong with me? Should my life, outside of my job, be more compelling so as to take me completely away from my work?

Well, I worried about these tough existential questions for about 2 seconds and then settled down to get a bit more work done. I'm done vacationing and I vacationed hard (as hard as a non-drinking dad of three can): trip to vegas with family, many xmas family engagements, chinese for xmas eve, night at the Anniversary in with my wife, lotta movies (Avatar, Blind Side, The Road, The Brother's Bloom--an excellent comedy btw, Watchmen, Valkyerie, Paper Heart--not so great), several snow/ice hikes.

So, to all those out-of-office folks, I'm officially ok to be getting some work done--it brings me peace to do some thinking about the spring, to have a foundation laid before I jump full on into work on Monday.