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Saturday, July 24, 2010

On the eve of a trip away

Back when I started this blog, there were lots of blogs.  I suppose there still are.  My RSS feed certainly suggests that the blogs I track keep getting updated.  I even find new ones to read occasionally.

What is gone now (and I think for good) is the community of bloggers who I felt part of who read and commented on each other's posts.  There may be tweeting now, for all I know.  There's certainly facebooking.  What we've lost, though, is medium to long form ideas and the exchange thereof.  I suppose I'm not anti-tweet per se, but I come close.  And every time I update my status on facebook, I am both careful and a little unsure if my "friends" need to know what I've just said.

All of which is to say that I was thinking about vacation blogging this morning.

My morning gave me time and space to think, in part because I do not need or want to run in errands.  If Saturday is normally about going to the cleaners and getting bagels and getting the car washed, I have decided none of those things are necessary this particular Saturday.  Honey and I leave for vacation Monday.  I'm thinking this weekend should be:

bike, riding;
dogs, hanging out with;
movie, seeing;
meals, eating.

Not necessarily in that order.  And to be sure, some things need to be repeated.

We were to have gone to Lassen National Park to go camping.  (File under: recession, vacation)

It's not really our National Park, but sounded really wonderful.  It's only accessible in the summer.  I'm pretty sure it's summer, what with the heat rash and all.

So I had turned camping into a bit of a research project.

Tent: check, REI Hobitat 4, vestibule, and footprint
Sleeping platforms: check, cot, zero gravity chair
Coffee: check, titanium coffee pot and individual plunger mugs

I could go on and on.  Maps, GPS, hotels.  I had it sorted.

Then, we got a phone call.  They'd be chainsawing at our campground from 7am until 4pm everyday.

Noise sources expect, National Park camping:

Noise sources unexpected, National Park camping:

Serendipity intervened.  I like to think of Serendipity as a person.  She's out there somewhere.  Sometimes she's hanging around with me.  Other times, she's occupied with someone stuck in a tight spot who just happens to have the right tool to get out of it.  This may be one of the reasons I buy so many stupid tools on  Just trying to help Ms. Serendipity out.

I had, the very morning of the chainsaw phone call, gotten a notice that our most favoritist place we have gone to (a lot) over the past couple of years, the fabulous (truly truly) El Morocco Inn and Spa in (not so) fabulous Desert Hot Springs was running a special.  More than half off high season rates.  Half off low season rates.  As cheap as camping.

So instead of a very long drive, followed by very loud camping, we have a much shorter drive followed by a really nice bed and real mineral springs.  And massages.  All of which (despite the triple digits) will clear the heat rash right up.  Also maybe some of the current ennui.

So back to blogging trips.  I like blogging trips.  See, for eg:

Bear Aware


The Geese of Hawaii

Hmm, maybe I like blogging trips that somehow involve animals.

Anyway, trips happen whether I blog or not.  I may or may not blog on this trip. 

If I do blog about it, I will assuredly write medium to long form.  Spa-tels cannot be tweeted.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Heat rash: 2010 edition

Some years ago I wrote a short story called "Heat Rash."  It was "published" in a "Journal" that I helped produce while a graduate student at UCLA.  Lots of quotes in the previous sentence.  An acquaintance/sort-of-friend of mine decided she wanted to create a student journal of LGBT, (um, what's the word?), stuff.  She asked me to help.  She and her gay bff took credit as editors-in-chief.  This other guy, Kirk, and I really did the whole thing.  Kirk did the layout and the design.  I did all the editing.  In exchange we got credit as the "editorial board."  The acquaintance/sort-of-friend didn't really want to publish my short story, but she had the good sense to know she wouldn't get all the free work from me if she didn't.  So, we compromised (there was more give from me, truth told, than her).  I was to write a scholarly introduction to my story.  Um, ok.

I just reread the introduction (I can't bring myself to do more than skim the story).  I cite and discuss Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy.  Go me.  Remembered something from my oral narrative seminar.  Of course, I don't remember the seminar very well now, other than the cute girl who always brought pop tarts to class, but that's another matter. 

Anyway, I will quote (with some chagrin) from the story:

"It is April and it is Thursday and I have a heat rash under my left arm that has been bothering me all day.  It is red and bumpy and will soon cover my entire body....  The best solution I can come up with is to keep my right hand in my armpit at all times.  Left handed only, I am proceeding."

The story is a somewhat autobiographical account of one spring and summer I spent in D.C.  Re-skimming it now, many of the things I recall happening that summer seem to be in there.  I'll spare the plot to all concerned (mostly myself).

I should make a side note about the acquaintance/sort-of-friend:  she moved to D.C. to attend my Alma mater for graduate school.  When she did that, she broke up with her girlfriend and left her behind.  That girlfriend is sitting behind me now at her own desk, some 16 years later.  So something very good came out of the "journal" after all.

Oh, and I do still have the short story on my c.v.  I cited Walter Ong, after all.

The acquaintance/sort-of-friend lives in--of all places--Albania now.  She and her partner are undoubtedly having adventures of a very Balkan nature.  I do not envy her the life she has.  I expect the same is true of her in regards to me.

I have what I think may be a heat rash now.  It's not where the old one was.  Regardless, it hurts and itches.

It does bring to mind the overwrought heartache of young summers.  They seem very long ago indeed.

I ran into a former student of mine last night, who immediately began asking if the things she knew about me from before were still true.  She twice asked if we had gone to any Angel games recently.  I said no both times and refrained from launching into my lament about the unused and guilt-inducing "Angel Bucks" we have sitting in a drawer.  I said that sometimes we have to move on from the things we loved.  I liked baseball a lot once.  Now, less so.

Things change.

The heat rash made me think about the past, but did not make me want to return to it.

One more quote:

"The tendency, according to Ong, of a literate culture is to emphasize the individual, to have linear plot structure in a story, an to view fixed text as the norm."

If heat rashes aren't fixed, then how can plots be linear?

Somebody pass the cortizone.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The iPad, the girl out the window, and my future

So, for some time I've been wanting, but resisting, the latest piece of kit from M. Jobs and co.   I even ordered the new iPhone to keep me from buying an iPad. I justified the iPhone purchase by telling myself that work would pay for it, so it was "needed." (I should note that though it has not yet arrived, I have secured one of the hard to find "bumpers" for it).

Now, I will take a slight detour.  I currently have a job that I like and am good at.   I also really like the people I work with.  I don't want to do my current job forever--indeed it is one of those jobs that I should not do forever lest I be viewed as "stuck." At any rate a job has opened up that I don't think I want, but there are people who want me to apply for it. I am even led to believe that if I did apply, I would probably get it. It's more money, more responsibility, more pressure. It also takes me--I think--in the wrong direction. So, I decided not to apply. Then I got a call.  My boss got a call.  I was asked to rethink. I am supposed to be rethinking as I write.

So, being me, I cried a little and I processed a lot. And then I decide to buy an iPad after all. Do you follow that? I'm not sure I do either, but there was the compulsion. Being compelling.

So I stop by Best Buy and ask. Nope. They only have 3G ones. Don't want 3G. One data plan with AT&T is enough, thanks. So, this morning, I commence to calling.

Apple Store #1: get on the waiting list

Best Buy #2: we don't carry ipads

Apple store #2: how about a 3G?

Best Buy #2: How about a 3G?

...some time later...

Apple Store #5: we have a 64mb wifi

So, without much thinking (or any crying), I head out to points east and emerge with the biggest wifi iPad there is.

Honey goes off to the gym to let me play with it. I start to lose myself in app land. The worries of the moment recede.

Then the dogs begin to bark. I look up from Honey's desk (where iTunes lives) and see two kids walking in front of the house heading to our front door. I say (through the window), "I'm sorry, but I don't want to buy anything from you."

The older one immediately responds, "you are a racist."

I said something in protest, but she was gone. It burst my iPad bubble to be sure. And it made me mad. I did refrain from walking outside and giving her a piece of my mind. I don't have to take the lies in. But they do deflate.

What will I do next, job-wise? I don't know, though I suspect I'll stay where I am.

In the meantime, in case you're wondering, the iPad works fine for first draft blogging. (Final edits requires the MacBook Pro.  I did mention my official Apple fangirl status, right?)

The iPad may save me from something. I just don't know what yet.