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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wrong school, wrong sport, go team!

I went to a college without good sports teams. They sucked. Plus, there was a whole red, white, and blue unfortunate color deal. I liked my college a lot as a college. As an undergradutae sports experience, it blew big chunks of yuck. It's just true. The year BEFORE I arrived they went to their one and only national championship game ever in ANY sport and lost.

I was unused to sports failure. My high school was routinely competitive at the state level in basketball. Won championships competitive. We were bad in everything else, but who cares? Excellence of that level doesn't ask for companionship. Ask any Duke fan. Any USC fan. Any Lady Vols fan. Do they stay up at night wishing their school could be exemplary in just ONE MORE thing? No, they're pretty happy liking real excellence in the one thing. It's hard to say Duke basketball exhibited that this year, or indeed that SUC football (oh wait, sorry, USC) did, but that's another matter.

Basketball, despite my high school's achievements, wasn't my favorite sport. I always preferred baseball. And football. Well, and tennis. Still, I do like basketball.

The team that beat my college's one and only championship effort? UCLA.

When I decided to go to graduate school in completely-random-field(tm), I only had a few choices. That's because it's a, well, completely-random-field(tm). One of the choices was UCLA. And, when it came right down to it, it was the only choice. Oh sure, I could talk about the weather and the beach as big factors. The real reason I moved out to the coast? Money. UCLA offered me some to go to school. No one else did.

When you go to graduate school, especially in completely-random-field(tm) (read: esoteric), you're supposed to study, argue, write, think, drink, and argue some more. I did all of those things. I also watched UCLA sports. You're not supposed to do that. Sports are an undergraduate thing.

But there I was a T.A. With UCLA football players in my classes. UCLA football players who were playing in the Rose Bowl. And in 1995, there was a national championship in basketball. Not state. Not high school. First time since John Wooden big-ol-dealio. I recognize the problems. Jim Harrick was not a great guy. The UCLA football players stole handicapped parking passes. There's a lot of money in it. The basketball coach might ought not to be the highest paid person at a university. I get it why it's not so good always.


Then, there's the whole USC thing. The place I teach now is lousy with folks who went to UCLA and with folks who went to USC. It's kinda fun. It was really fun this year when UCLA beat USC in football. I may have talked a little smack. Just a little.

I like wearing the UCLA blue and gold at commencement.

Look everybody, it's Tommy Trojan and Joe Bruin!

That's actually Joe Bruin's old head. A few years ago, somebody stole Josie Bruin's head. She matched and they didn't want a rogue Josie Bruin. So he has a new head now. Wouldn't that be nice? If you get tired of your head, just get a new one. And people still know who you are!

I'm proud to have gone to UCLA and like my complicated UCLA PhD diploma.

The truth is (glance around to see if anyone is actually listening), I'm also a fan.

It's nice to be a fan sometimes.

Bottom line, I guess, here on the verge of the Final Four in my home town with my adopted graduate level (can you even call it this?) alma mater playing...

Go Bruins!

I hope all your teams give you happiness, too. Unless they're Florida, Georgetown, or Ohio State this weekend. Or USC ever. I could go on, but won't. Let's stay positive.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I'm not much of a cryer. Oh sure, I'll cry when I'm supposed to. Folks I love die. Animals I love die. I have a bad fight with my Honey (never! us fight? no way, man!). Sure, I cry, but not much. I used to even pride myself on not crying. My therapist and I are working on that.

In fact, I think we've been working on it too much. Because I'm crying more. Eight Dogs Below more. That's not what it's called. Eight Below. There you go. Honey and I called it Eight Dogs Out wherein the huskies get left behind and banished from baseball. Anyway, I cried during that movie. I cried when Starbuck died on Battlestar Galactica. I even cried again when Adama cried in the next episode.

I'm not just crying at pop culture. In the car. Whenever. I'm careful about it, mind you. No one's going to see me cry unless they're:

1) My Honey
2) At a funeral
3) My therapist

I've begun to suspect that my crying problem(s) (that is, the lack of before and the excess of currently) are less than noble views into my psyche.

Seeming random segue time:

Honey and I have given up on American Idol. I know, it's good this year and all. But we just have too much teevee and only one Tifaux. Last night I flipped to it between watching tifauxed episodes of Rome and The Dog Whisperer.

I was subjected, unfortunately, to the performance of the kid with the pretty hair. Sanjaya or whatever. That also meant I got to see crying girl.

The camera was as interested in her emotions as I. She was overcome. Deeply moved. Ok, maybe a little hysterical. Histrionic? Over Sanjaya's rendition of a Kinks song. Which was awful. Ears fall off awful.

It's had me thinking all day, dear readers. Would I have been better off in my life had I been able to give over to emotion like that at 13? Is there a way for me to check in with her in 26 years and find out?

Somebody get somebody a kleenex.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


eb over at Emerald Pillows posted her version of the seven wonders of the world. Go look at it, but come back. I'll wait...

So who doesn't like a little meta-blogging? eb got me to thinking and thinking got me to writing. See how this happens? It explains memes for sure. Anyway, when I was a child, I thought I should learn the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And I did. My grandmother and I even talked once about going to see where they were (for one) or had been (for six). It would be a grand adventure. We should have gone and never did.

Just to be clear, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are:

The Pyramids at Giza
The Colossus at Rhodes
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympus
The Lighthouse at Alexandria
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

And, no I didn't have to look them up, but I did spell all the words that aren't "at" or "the" in the last one wrong and had to look up the spelling. Blogger didn't have Halicarnassus loaded into its database. Go figure.

I don't know why I committed these to memory as a child. I just did. It's probably the same reason I am often asked about random stuff I should know nothing about and sometimes know anyway.

When I met Honey, the seven wonders came up and she referred to them (jokingly) as the seven natural, material, wonders of the ancient and modern world (or something like that). I've always thought she was more bemused then anything that I knew them. It certainly wasn't high on my "let's be Honies" point total. Like, "ok, she gets +500 points for knowing all seven wonders, but -800 for having a nightmare destructive dog."

The list is very old and appears partially in a book published by Antipar of Sidon which dates to 130 B.C.E. He didn't come up with the list, as there are references to it appearing in older texts. Only the oldest sturcture on the list still stands. The pyramids are older by 2000+ years than the others. GO pyramids!

The Artemis Temple, Hanging Gardens, and Colossus were destroyed before the Common Era began. The Mausoleum survived into the 15th century as did the lighthouse. The Zeus probably made it to the 5th century in the common era.

None of this really matters. It won't get you the girl. The good news is; it won't keep you from getting her either.

My grandmother has been gone (that's a Southern expression meaning dead) for a while now. But I still remember, as if it were yesterday, her helping me find each of the ancient places in her atlas. We planned our trip and talked about all the marvelous things we'd see. So, I think I'll keep remembering them. Someday I may see some of the places they stood. If I do, I will be glad I learned them all and still remember.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Union? Maybe.

I work in a place where every employee is represented by a union. There are lots of them. In my office alone, there are employees in three bargaining units. I'm the only one in mine. And I'm not actually in it. The "represent" my interests theoretically and I pay a fee for that, but it's less than I would pay if I was a member (card carrying or not). I still get mailings and the like.

At the risk of giving away where I work...

This union is threatening a strike. I was at a meeting yesterday where a colleague noted that "most of us are from union families." He meant an us I was part of. And yet I am not. My family is not a union family. On the contrary, I come from a very non-union family. Not only are most of my relatives white collar folks, I also come from the Southeast, one of the least unionized parts of the United States. I don't know of a single close relative (living or dead) who was a member of a union. My grandfather was a chamber of commerce executive who favored what he called "total community development." I can assure you that t.c.d did NOT include unions.

When I was in graduate school, the teaching and research assistants (of which I was usually one or the other in any given year) tried to unionize. There were strikes and lots of talk. It worked eventually (well after I had finished my PhD) and they're now unionized. I never participated. A lot of the rhetoric wasn't about working conditions or the like, but about the need for the University to "recognize" us. Since I was in a marginal field in a program that was literally falling apart, the need for recognition seemed less urgent than whether I'd ever find a permanent job (that took eight years) in the field (nope) or whether the program would survive long enough for me to get a degree (yes). Union stuff? Not really my thing.

Now, don't get me wrong, I can teach about unions, Marx, Engels, and the like. I understand it intellectually. It's fun to teach about it. One of my favorite documentary films is about the struggle of Pullman Porters to unionize against the racism of mid-twentieth century American. Watch it sometime. It's called Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle.

But when it comes to me, things get muddy. This weekend I had brunch (yummy) with treecup who works at a different branch in the same system as me. We are, in other words, both represented by the union. She asked rather nonchalantly whether I was going to "walk out" if there is a strike. Without thinking much, I said "no" and asked if she would and she said "yes."

I've been thinking a lot about it since brunch. (That is, when I'm not trying to teach Scout (the dog) to pee outside. Scout (the Honey) knows where to pee.) My job has me operating independently most of the time. There are no "comps" to me, unlike most folks, who are in departments with other faculty. I am totally flummoxed about how to feel and what to do. So, I thought I'd blog.

There's a vote about the strike. I can't vote unless I join the union.

"We'll all be colleagues after it's over," our uni president has said. My dean reiterated those sentiments.

What I feel is mostly ambivalence. Should I join the union and vote no? Should I join and vote yes? Should I not join and come to work? Should I not join and not come?

I'm not asking anyone to tell me what to do. I am interested, however, in where others stand on unions. So share out in comments!