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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Honey has had her driving privileges pulled again. See her blog for more details. She's going today to have her EEG done again. I gave her a scarf to wear. We had scarf night last night and I draped all the scarves I could find over my head. In ways that scarves aren't supposed to go. My mother likes to give me scarves. It makes her feel as if I may one day become the daughter she wanted. I don't wear them. I put them in a drawer with my socks.

I made my mother very happy when I had along talk with her about various ablutions for the skin. I think she showed me every skin product she had ever purchased. And my mother (like her daughter) is a consumer.

Honey, in fact, pointed out that I should tell my therapist about my tendency to buy things. My therapist suggested that I buy two workbooks some time ago. I promptly bought them. I can't bring myself to "work" them. Last time we talked about it, my therapist said I should just read them, that I didn't have to have pen or pencil in hand. Follow through can be a weakness for me. But, boy, do I know how to use and abuse Amazon.

Anyway, back to driving... Driving in L.A. isn't fun generally. It's a built in excuse for lateness. "Traffic" followed by a head shake will get you out of most lateness problems. Still, I want to stop driving so much. I'd love to commute by bike, but I'm a person who sweats. Southern women aren't supposed to sweat. They're supposed to "glow." I sweat. So riding a bike to work might be unpleasant in the global warmed SoCal summer.

Speaking of global warming, I heard a piece on NPR yesterday about the rising CO2 levels causing poison ivy to grow more and become more toxic. Tomorrow it's supposed to by in the 90s and I have to wear my academic regalia for commencement.

Treecup wore anti-perspirant on her face when we got our PhDs.

When I had my prom, my mother handed me a bottle of baby powder and told me to "use it." When I asked her where to put it, she wouldn't answer. The answer tomorrow may be all over. Nobody look under my robe, ok?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why I am not a good academic

See, here's the thing...

I understand post-structuralism and can quote Foulcault if you need me to.

But I'd rather talk and think about Lost and theories surrounding it.

Because academics is pretty tedious actually. Though I do like my field. I did get asked to help on an academic telecourse/tv show today, which should be really cool.

I still wonder what I wonder when I went off to college, though. How will people know I'm supposed to be sorta smart?

When I was in elementary and middle school I was in something called "enrichment" because my IQ was high. My high school leveled people by "smart" and I was in all the honors classes. I could get into how racist that system was. Suffice it to say that the school system I attended waited until the last possible day they could (by court order) to integrate. And since integration the school system's African-American population had remained stable while the white population plummeted. I was in level 1. Guess how many white people were in level 1 in my graduating class? Guess how many African-American students were in level 4? Answer to both questions: all.

When I went off to college--my "safety" school, natch, I worried that my professors wouldn't know I was smart. I didn't worry a lot, maybe because it was my safety school, but I did worry. My D in German my first semester didn't help me feel any better, either.

Still, I loved college and did well. Though some of the "well" was finesse. My debate in Victorian England, for example. I had blown the class off a lot. An acquaintance of mine (Roz), who was very shy, was in the class and had done a ton of research for the debate. She handed me her note cards and I blew the other team away. And the other team was led by the captain of the debate team (Matt). And I had the tougher argument. I was to argue, using only Victorian sources, for women's suffrage. Roz had found lots of good stuff from John Stuart Mill and I railed at Matt like I was Emmeline Pankhurst herself. The professor, who I liked despite my avoidance of the class, was really impressed with me. I gave full credit to Roz and got an undeserved A- in the class.

I did that kind of thing all the time. Once I discussed Eugene Genovese's Roll Jordan Roll with authority even though it was on the table in front of me still in shrink wrap.

I got more serious in graduate school, though my dissertation lacks, um, well let's just say it lacks.

And I won't even go into the fact that the department I taught in for six years is not in my field. And that aforementioned telecourse is in that field, not mine.
My friend and colleague who asked me to do it admitted that we may be the blind leading the blind. I don't mind bumping into walls really.

Here's the good news: if I can move my interim to permanent in my current job...
none of this matters

Because NO ONE on my campus knows more than me about the minutiae I know to do my job and follow all the rules. And I know that I know more than they do about the minutiae. So there.

Plus, here's the other good news:

Lost is on tonight

Oh, and also, I love commencement. Commencement is next week. I get to wear my regalia and my puffy hat. Last year the platform party agreed that I had the best hat.

Sometimes having a good hat can be almost enough.

Monday, May 22, 2006

In, done, gone

I turned my application in for the job I currently have. Interim. Like life isn't just one interim after another. Anyway, it's done, gone, turned in. Honey helped with it yesterday. Honey is a copy editor. I gave her my c.v. (curriculum vita--an academic resume) and my cover letter. She found SO many errors in my c.v. that I got upset. I'd been showing the thing around for years. She tried to reassure me that the errors were small enough that only copy editors would notice. Covered with red, the pages, covered.

She had fewer corrections to the cover letter, which seemed good. She laughed out loud at the letter where I said something like, "I hope to speak with you soon about this position." Are cover letters ever funny on purpose?

Anyway, I turned it in. The Dean's secretary, who is wacky, asked me if she had to send me a letter of acknowledgement. I said yes and she asked if she could scribble all over the acknowledgement. I told her that would be fine.

The Dean wants the search done by the end of June.

Some quick sporky job numbers:

Number of years I've worked at this IHE: 8
Number of years service credit (at most) I'll get toward tenure: 2
Number of years before between when I got my PhD and when my brother will get his: 7 and counting
Number of tenure track jobs between us: 1 (that would be his)
Number of days before I find out: 39 minimum

To paraphrase Michael Stipe:

That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight, losing my...

I'll just be over here. Waiting.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Some gambling tips

While in Las Vegas, I discovered a new game I like called "Lucky Lemmings."

If you go to the bonus round, lemmings jump off a cliff and you get money.

Makes sense to me.

I also like Wild Wilderness. It's camping themed. There is nothing more antithetical to camping than Las Vegas.

I gave a talk about a year ago about Las Vegas and a woman came up to my afterwards and told me I should get outside more. I didn't actually hit her. I wanted to. I thought about her while playing Wild Wilderness.

My other technique in L.V. this weekend was anti-Yankee. Always bet against the Yankees.

For those not keeping score:

Sunday May 14:
A's 6
Yankees 1
Sporks $20

Monday May 15
Rangers 4
Yankees 2
Sporks $15

Your mileage may vary. Anti-Yankee, pro-lemming, pro-camping. I should admit that I lost money on the last two. But I had fun doing it. But that anti-Yankee thing will work every time. Then again, maybe not.

My Dad says the best way to not lose money is to not gamble. But then you can't see the lemmings bouncing off the whales or the bear stealing the car.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Spa day by the numbers

Honey and I are back from a weekend in Las Vegas. I love going to LV and was especially looking forward to this trip because we were going to stay at Mandalay Bay, my favorite hotel/casino. It smells like tropical. I'm sure they pump something toxic in to make it smell that way. But I like it.

We have added a newish element to out LV experience. Last summer we gave over to what Treecup had been advocating for years, the spa day. I didn't get it in theory. I totally get it in practice.

Mandalay has a wonderful spa, with four bubbling pools (two hot, one warm, one cold plunge), a steam room, a dry sauna, and a quiet lounge.

My "therapist" looked like a kindergarten teacher. Big glasses and a sensible hairdo. Her massage technique was intense.

She was vigorous. Honey thinks I'm a total wimp. She had a deep tissue massage and I had a Swedish. Still, Jackie, the kindergarten teacher worked me over. I keep asking my honey if my shoulders look bruised. I may seem to be complaining. I'm not. The whole thing was fab.

We also floated along the "lazy river" in the Mandalay pool area. Lap after lap. I want one in my back yard. We didn't "tube" the lazy river because Mandalay was charging $20 to RENT tubes.

Let's do the numbers:

Number of baseball games won by the team I bet on while I was at the spa: 2

Number of baseball games lost by the team I bet on while I was at the spa: 1

Total money won while at the spa: $10

Total money spent at the spa: $130

Number of showers I took at the spa: 3

Number of times I conditioned my hair: 2

Number of times I visited the warm pool: 3

Number of times I visited the hot pools: 4

Number of times I visited the cold plunge: 0

Number of teeny cans of juice I consumed: 2

Number of cups of nuts I consumed: 2 (1 shared with Honey)

Number of the nut cups that had belonged to someone else before Honey started eating them: 1

Number of times we made complete circumnavigations of the lazy river (approx): 12

Number of sections of the Sunday NY Times I read: 2 (book review and magazine)

Number of minutes spent in the steam room: 3 (be me) 10-15 (by Honey)

Number of cool/ice rags nice women handed us in there: 1 each

Number of minutes the ice rag added to my ability to remain in there: at least 2

Number of shoulder muscles (could be tendons) that feel bruised: 2

Number of actual bruises on my shoulders: 0

Total: 53-58 + net output of $120

Analyze it yourself. I know where I stand. Pro spa. Very pro spa.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The latest from worst (ding) administration (ding) ever (ding)

Worst (ding) president (ding) ever (ding) hit 29% approval today. Cheney is at 18%

I'd like to talk about HUD. The HUD Secretary, Alphonso Jackson, told a story to a group of minority business owners that a contractor who was on the HUD approved list had not gotten a contract for political reasons. I'll let the idiocy speak for itself:

"He didn't get the contract. Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

Later on he said the story was "anecdotal." In case you haven't looked that up lately, here's the definition:

"A short account of an interesting or humorous incident."

Umm Hmm. Let's see, it doesn't sound funny. So maybe he meant it was interesting.

It is interesting because it's a violation of federal law. But by "anecdotal" he says he meant fictional. Like maybe he meant to say it was apocryphal:

"Erroneous; fictitious"

At any rate, whether it was true or not (I guessing that it was), he's telling people that breaking federal law is ok. Oh and Worst (ding) president (ding) ever (ding)is standing behind him.

Take this thing, the NSA thing, oh I just can't go on. Impeaching and convicting is too nice for Worst (ding) president (ding) ever (ding). Can we banish him? Is that a consitutional option? Didn't Aaron Burr get threatened with banishment?

There was that novel about a guy without a passport who had to stay at sea. I'll buy the dinghy. Anyone want to chip in? He can wait for the apocalypse in international waters. We'll get lots of them, set them all afloat. Or we could send them to the Lost island. I'd gladly give up watching the show if they could all go there and live in one of the bunkers or get eaten by the polar bears.

Honey and I are going to Las Vegas this weekend. If the apocalypse is nigh, then Nevada is the state to be in.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


About 18 months ago I was pulling out of my second tier Starbucks and putting on my seatbelt as I pulled out. (An aside, I have one Starbucks I like, two I like ok, and one I hate on my trajectories from work and home. This morning I went to the one I hate. It hasn't ruined my day but didn't improve it either. Which is bad, because if I'm going to have a donut, it better improve my day.)

Anyway, I see a motorcycle office pull in behind me and he turns on his lights. I pull over slowly and carefully, just like I learned in the How to Beat a Ticket book I read many years ago. (Aside 2: my parents used to co-own a lake house in North Georgia and someone had brought up a revolving paperback rack and stocked it with WEAK paperbacks. Every once in a great while someone would bring a few more crappy paperbacks up there. How to Beat a Ticket was a late arrival. I read it. Keep that in mind.)

Anyway #2, I pull over and roll down my window. He walks up and says something about my not having my seatbelt on. I switch into incredibly polite differential mode. It doesn't work. He writes me a ticket and tells me to buckle up. As he's handing me the ticket, I thank him. Let me say that again, I thank him. For costing me $95.

So today I have Honey's mountain bike in the car to take it to the shop. I pull into the alley where the shop has parking and all the spots are filled. So I pull out onto the street and park behind a panel van. I get the bike out of the car, go inside, talk to them about the bike.

I come back out and get in the car. I notice a parking enforcement office writing the van a ticket. I have a moment of delusion in thinking I have come out to my car at exactly the right moment. But then I see her writing my license plate number down and she says something I don't hear. I roll down the window and ask her what she said. She has gone into hostile ticket writer mode. (I can't blame her. Being a parking officer has to be one of the worst jobs in the world.) She says if I leave I'll just get the ticket in the mail.

I ask her what I've done wrong and it turns out that it's "street cleaning" time for that block. I hadn't checked and the van was blocking the sign. I wait for her to give me the ticket. I'm mad but don't show it. Then when she walks up to me to hand it to me...

and wait for it...

I thank her.

What is wrong with me? Really, I want to know.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fallen Idol

I'm done. It shouldn't surprise me, but I keep hoping that American Idol will go the way I want it to. Reality tv sucks that way. Most of the time. Occasionally someone I like wins, but most of the time due to the vagaries of:

a) plane boarding rules (Amazing Race aka Steak Escape to Honey and I)
b) tyra banks' total f'ing randomness (America's Next Top Model)
c) the American teenage morass' excruciatingly bad taste (American Idol)
d) lying liars (you choose)
e) people not "making it work" or "being fierce" (Project Runway or America's Next Top Model)
f) some combination of the above

the people I like don't win. I often find myself taking solace toward the end of a reality show in the people I hate losing. Hate maybe too strong. But then I think about Jade (ANTM), Stephen (Top Chef), and the Weavers(Steak Escape)and I'm not sure it is too strong.

And you'd think I have nothing else to do than think about all this shit. I mean the application for the job I have as an interim is due in two weeks. But I digress.

I missed Idol the first time around. I hated Clay. Hated him. Still do. I liked Fantasia. Her album sucked though. (Sorry Honey, I know you bought it for me, but you didn't produce it or anything). Last year's group did little for me. But Honey and I at least let go of the "reveal" show and only watched the singing show. This year we've been even more cutthroat. We only watch the singing. I know, I know, that means you miss Paula's stoned behavior. We catch little bits of it. It's enough. Really more than plenty.

So, I made it this far this year, but I'm done. As Honey said about Taylor, "I defended him; I said out loud that he was good." And then there he is being REALLY bad week after week.

I mean, look at him:

I'm watching this shit instead of Steak Escape? Where they once showed this woman with a shopping bag standing in the middle of a field! Like it was normal.

Last week Taylor sang "Play that Funky Music" (white boy) and that contemporary favorite by that new group The Beatles, "Something." Pure crapola. Actually it was pure. That's too nice. It showed little bit of ok and lots of chunks of steaming doodoo. Like that commercial where the liquid plummer sends a clog out of the people's sink and all the way to a French cafe.

Katherine McPhee bouncing around on her knees, Chris Daughtry losing his voice on song two. (Dude, it's two songs, neither full length). And Elliott showing us those teeth. He needs to hook up with Tyra. She'll take care of those teeth. And then he'll (in a breathy voice) still be in the running for America's next top model.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised in a country where the WORST (ding) PRESIDENT (ding) EVER (ding) was elected twice that the curd would rise to the top (or the middle as the case may be).

Last night Honey and I watched no reality t.v. It was good. We watched West Wing, Sopranos, and a tifauxed Weeds (it was all tifauxed actually). What's not to like? Vito in New Hampshire? Mary Louise Parker doing anything? (She's on my "I'd marry her if I could list." Don't worry, Honey knows). CJ and Danny getting together? All good. A sweet scene between Allison Janney and Richard Schiff? Elizabeth Perkins being fab? Edie Falco? It's good. It's smart. It's people being creative.

And NOBODY said anything about "being all about good hair, man" (Jonathan Antin, Blow Out).

Now, just to be clear, I am not signing off reality tv altogether. I like Tiffani on Top Chef. I love Steak Escape. I'm hoping Joanie will kill Jade on ANTM. And if I don't keep watching, I won't be able to understand the latest Hen and Bunny Theater. And Havrilesky's puppets rock.

She has done some non reality ones. The 24 one is the best, I think. And I don't even watch 24 anymore.

Still, I need to learn from the past. Being a popular culture devotee is all fine and good. But draw lines, have boundaries. I'm done with MTV. Done. I'm done with Idol. My customized list on Dish is called "good tvs." I mean it this time.

Now, when does Work Out start?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I have been obsessed with getting new phones for some time now. I really like phones. I'd like a restored old rotary phone a lot. Something like:

I also want a new slick cell phone. But I can't commit to a cell phone plan, so I use a pay as you go phone, which makes me feel a little like a drug dealer. The company I use doesn't have cool phones. Though I just checked and like this one a lot:


Anyway, at home I have this phone problem. We only have one working phone jack and I won't pay PacBell nee SBC nee AT&T to come out and put in a new one. I just won't. So we got these things called instajacks which transmit the phone call through the electrical line. Stupid ass piece of electronica.

Then we got given a double phone, but it doesn't have an answering machine. So we have this weak ass phone with an answering machine plugged into the instajack. I talked Honey into buying it at Target a couple of years ago. The hand-me-down phone works fine as does its little slave phone. But the Target pos is 1) hard to hear on, 2) has an answering machine that you can barely hear, and 3) interferes with our home wireless network.

Now that I mention our wireless network, I guess I should fess up that I bought a router at Staples for $40, spent all of one day trying to get it to work, including calling Sly, who knows more about computers than anyone I know, though he does have a shirt that says something like "I won't help you fix your computer." Fed up, I then returned the router and went over to the Apple store and dropped $200 on an Apple airport. This was all so we can have a notebook in the living room. To check the woot. And so Honey can surf from the couch. The airport does match the iMac. And the iBook.

So finally after Honey was talking to her friend for the second time and had pos Target phone make the notebook's connection die, I came in here and bought a new phone system. Here it is:

It got good reviews at Amazon. Of course because it's all electronic, it won't work when the big earthquake hits. That's what I need the rotary for.

Do I think this will end my obsession? No. But it may abate for a while.

Now about that cool cell...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Snakes on a plane and at the vet

I have been thinking about the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane since I heard about it. I also like that the phrase has entered the lexicon as a sort of "can't do anything about this shit" stand-in. I don't even know if I'll see the movie, but I like the idea.

Anyway, I was at the vet's office yesterday with Biscuit the wonder dog. She has an ear infection. She won't let me clean her ears. See previous post. She wouldn't let the vet clean her ears either. Four people tried and as the vet said, "she wasn't mean or anything, but she was pretty clear that she wasn't going to let us do it." Honey and I are now giving her ear medicine. We've found that if we put her in the sink and make it quick, she's only a little freaked out. It does take both of us and the sink.

By the by, I was really pleased with myself for knowing how much Biscuit weighed. I kept telling people she weighed 35 pounds, but she hadn't been weighed before. She stepped onto the vet scale, hunkered down like it hurt and the display flashed 34.5 pounds. Let me know if you'd like me to come by and guess your dog's weight. I can't do people or any other animal, so it's only your dog who will be embarrassed. Maybe I should get a booth.

So, Biscuit and I are waiting in the lobby for her medicines and she's being Biscuity. She keeps approaching people for pets, except for this one guy she decides is a threat. She keep barking at him. People are freaky about their dogs at the vet. Several haul their dogs away from greeting Biscuit. Including one guy with a border collie puppy. There's no way that puppy and Biscuit were going to get into it. Whatever.

Then this dude (and that's the only way to describe him) comes in with a BIG snake wrapped around his neck and shoulders. His pants are hanging down and he's grungy. And he talks like a dude. He's in a total panic. At first I think he's being strangled by the snake. He's not. Which is good.

Biscuit doesn't react to the snake at all. The guy with the really sick bassett hound is a threat. The giant snake is not.

Dude says in a panicky high voice, "Um,can someone help me?"

Vet receptionist, "Oh, I'm sorry, we don't deal with snakes."

Dude (almost crying), "Is there someone who could just answer some questions for me?"

Bottom lime seemed to be that Dud went out of town and his snake sitter (there's a job I don't want) fed his snake a frozen mouse. She was in distress about it, drinking lots of water and blowing bubbles into her water in an attempt to digest the frozen mouse. Dude also didn't have any money and couldn't pay anybody, so when they tried to refer him to another vet he started crying. I could go into the Animal Precinct rap about how you shouldn't have a pet if you can't pay, but Dude loved that snake. And I got a dog when I was young and couldn't pay.

Now bassett guy (the big threat in Biscuit's eyes) was looking at $1500. He seemed sanguine about it though.

One of the vet techs who had worked at a vet's office that dealt with "exotics" came out and talked to Dude and seemed to think the snake was going to be fine.

It was sweet. I hadn't been to that vet before. I'll go back. Even if they can't find four people to hold down my 34.5 pound dog. They helped snake dude. They gave me medicine and no unnecessary tests. And if we're all lucky, bassett guy will not cross Biscuit's path again.