Saturday, November 17, 2007

tis the season

A few years back I confessed that Christmas for me hasn't truly arrived until I hear Mariah Carey sing seasonal tunes. This is conclusive proof of a deep-seated personal failing, possibly requiring professional treatment, but I can't help it. It's just not really and truly the Christmas season until I hear her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" on the radio.

(I also need to hear Springsteen "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" so I can't be a totally lost cause musically.... I hope. Maybe?)

Last year the Mariah moment didn't happen. I took to playing the radio even when I had a headache and wanted quiet, just in case... but no go. Not once. Not even Christmas Day.

Both toner cartridges gave out this morning, so I ran out to Ye Audle Big Box Shopping Emporium and, before I knew it, before I'd thought about it, without even planning, I picked up Carey's Christmas CD and put it in the cart. It's now burned to my computer. I know, the Beethoven, Copeland and Glass tracks are contemplating a mass exodus at the moment, though they've lived alongside the Doobie Brothers for quite a while now without complaint.

I've heard the song - twice. I am happy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

will this help my resume any?

Which Star Wars Jedi/Sith are you?


Dynamite in a small package, and long-lasting, like the Energizer bunny. While you are wise and calm, you are able to call on your killer instincts and be kick-ass. Some may call you a ‘sleeper’. With such great power comes some arrogance, but you are quick to return to humility and fix your mistakes. You have certainly left your mark on the world, in good and bad ways, and it was kinda sad to see you go. But no need to worry, you have gained immortality even though you can’t wield your toothpick of a lightsabre anymore.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

oh, not again

Red Sox - ye-haw!

You all know what a sports fan I am not, so the degree of my enthusiasm may be underestimated at this moment. Nonetheless, please believe that I am jubilant, delighted that a Colorado (state of losers) team lost, that the wild card team lost, and miserable that this means I must now spend months listening to my NPR anchors discuss basketball.

A while back I blogged about my reoccurent problems with collection agencies who get my number thinking it belongs to someone who owes money, should be in jail, etc. A few years ago I would get calls at 6 AM demanding that I turn over the offending person, never mind that I had never actually met them.

Well, it's on again. "Fred" must be in some serious trouble because he or she (it's one of those names that could go either way) gets lots of calls at my number. After three months, I now know the correct address for Fred, or at least the last known address. Generally I can tell the caller that no, they may have my number in their computer, but if they are looking for Fred who lives on a particular street, they have the wrong place. No, I don't know Fred and I can't help them find him/ her (would someone please tell me their gender?!) If ever I meet Fred, it won't be pretty.

I get calls from all over the country. Would that one of them came from Dog the Bounty Bunter on A & E, but no such luck.

Today's call (the third from this number this week) came from Oklahoma. I went into my usual spiel, "No, never met Fred, no clue how my phone number ended up in your database, don't know Fred, never seen Fred, can't pass along a message..." OK, this is a partial lie. You got my phone number the same way that the other twelve (I am not making this number up) people got my number: computer error. Somewhere along the line, people screwed up because, hey, we make mistakes.

No one makes mistakes in Oklahoma. I am (obviously) sheltering someone who has committed a terrible act. Exactly what sort of act (theft? murder? witchcraft? eating too many Twinkies?) I do not know... but the caller says that i do. I appreciate this optimistic vote for my psychic powers, but no. "You know Fred!!!" insisted the caller. "Yeah, that was the name of my lab partner in biology class back in the Reagan administration."

The caller has threatened to send police by on a visit. Police, I'll spare you the time: Fred ain't here. If it's Dog you decide to send, please send Leeland instead of Dwayne.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

idols and idle and ideals

Thanks to Matt for asking where I've been. The last few weeks have been draining and I've not been much for chat (yes, I consider my blogging time a kind of chat!) I've concluded that I need a full time staff - masseuse, housekeeper, maid of all work and a butler to greet me at the end of each day with a glass of Merlot and the day's mail, edited of all spam and junk mail. This is probably typical mid-term stress kicking in (yes, profs get it too) and I remain deeply grateful that I have a job about which to feel stressed and tired.

Oh, yes, and a cook would also be nice. I'll just sit in my study, mark-up bluebooks and dine well.

That's an easy ideal and would probably turn into something of an idol and make me idle.

I've read a couple of pieces by faculty (various institutions, not just mine) for whom the "interview and campus visit" process were little more than sherry, port, red wine, then enormous dinners, mimosas with breakfast, and then give you talk and teach a class. Any campus visit is partly a question of "can I stand to work with this person over the long term" and certainly putting them through such a thing would be one way to test that.

A professional lifetime of such weekends... it amazes me that any of the great books of that period were written at all. Then again, the topics tended to be more interesting (far less esoteric, I think) and relationships seem more convivial. I chat with my colleagues, but it's not the same. Has much been lost? Yes, but so has it been gained. Maybe that's the ideal.

Not that I still wouldn't like a butler/ masseuse who can cook.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

educational purposes

I'm on a Cole Porter kick again. Periodically I try to learn the tune to "Night and Day." The words are simple enough, but getting all of the intonations, inflextions and whatnot correct for this piece has always been a challenge... all the moreso because I do most of my singing in the shower and in the car and neither of these locatiosn has a piano.

I'm a reasonable singer - nothing all that special, but I can hold my own in a church choir, chorus section or even when faced with my dog rolling his eyes as I search for notes. I have three different recordings of "Night and Day" on itunes. Fred Astaire's rendition has only suceeded in further confusing me, but a few more rounds with John (De-Lovely) Barrowman and I might actually get part of it right.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this career advice from Porter's "Be A Clown" -

A college education I should never propose
A Bachelor's degree won't even keep you in clothes
But millions you will win if you can spin on your nose
Be a clown!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ahoy there me hearties!

In honor of "Talk like a Pirate Day" (thanks, Dave Barry!) find out your own Pirate name. I am "Dry Bone Bronson" which seems terribly dull and mundane. I'll have to go do a bit more pillaging to make up for it.

Hmm... now, a big white whale, that's what I need...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

office decor

I've been pondering office space quite a bit of late (OK, insert obligatory television show joke, I'll wait.) (Done?)

My office would be best described as sparse. I've put up a few posters. Hey, I'm a woman, I reserve the right to love Monet's water lillies. They liven things up a bit, but the office is still pretty sterile. My office-mate took a different approach. Her desk and "general area" are full of pictures of her kids, her dog, her husband, etc. It makes the place look lived in, but I'm not sure how much personal information I want to share in this fashion.

I got to thinking today about decor - one prof has an office so cluttered he can't use it. There's space for two people and not much more - and I do think that he does it on purpose, as part of his image, self-presentation, etc. Another one hung up a 1960s psychadelic bedspread on the wall, but there's not much else in there except his computer and (weather permitting) a jacket.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

oh, to be a dog

Sam has somehow managed to nose around a bunch of pillows and other random items on his sofa to create a sort of nest. He's happily encased and snoring quite loudly.

He's a spoiled dog in many ways, and can occasionally be difficult and aggravating - it's the border collie genes. Sam is also a wonderful & loving companion and I do so love him.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

memorable moments

As one is (hopefully) wont to do, I stopped by the bathroom before class a few days ago to take care of, er, private and personal matters. I cannot speak for men's facilities, but ladies rooms usually have a space of about 18 inches between the floor and the wall of the adjoining stall.

I happened to look around me while in said stall, and noticed that the ankle next to mine had a really pretty tattoo on it. I personally do not want a tattoo, but this was really attractive - well drawn, great colors, contrast etc. When we were both out and washing hands, I complimented the student on it.

The student, who up until then seemed fairly normal, looked at me as though I had suggested that we dangle live crawfish from our eyebrows. "I never thought a professor would like a tattoo." eeek - what have I done - and I'm obviously a professor, ohmigod, eeek, I am OLD

Today it hit me - I thought the tattoo was pretty and whatever, I will have forgotten about this in a few months. This is now part of this student's college experience and she will probably remember forever that a professor complimented her (in the bathroom, no less) on it. The student said the tattoo was new and her mother hated it. Yet here I am. I made a memory and a good one.


Thursday, August 30, 2007


I learned today that Richard Jewel had died. You remember him - he's the one who found the bomb at the Olympics, saved lives and then spent months defending himself from accusations that he had planted it. The FBI confiscated his mother's Tupperware and (??) Disney movies in their search for evidence against him, before realizing that the bomber was Eric Rudolph.

Jewell was forty-four.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Utah & Utah

I'm strangely heart-broken about the lost miners in Utah. I believe in miracles, but by now I am sure thay they are dead - I only hope that it happened right away, quickly, without pain and not three days ago. I want to do something, but have settled for prayers and hopes -

Then I found out that thousands (literally) of miners die in China each year. With all that we have learned about mine safety in the last century, is this the best that we can do?

Then there's the collapse of the stock market, which affects me only in as far as my hope that interest rates will drop and my student loan payments shrink.

Anyway, I was wallowing in self-pity, melacholy and whatnot, so I picked up the textbook for this fall's class. It's been two years, so naturally there's a new edition. Unusually, actual significant changes have been made. This necessitates actual careful reading - American History has not changed, but the book has. The book's collective authors have added lots (wonderful) about the Mormons. Somehow reading about people who lost everything not once but several times, then walked with wheelbarrows from Illinois to Utah -

my life is mindbogglingly safe, protected and boring. This is actually a good thing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

the waiting game

I have come to the conclusion that the nation and the world are simply waiting for G.W. Bush's term to end. Teh latest corruption stories (firearms stolen and sold to others rather than given to Iraqi police - unless the police stole and sold them, who knows) have attracted attention from only the far left-wing. Newsweek ran an article about it but their pieces on college admissons will attract far more attention.

Much as it pains me, I think that most of the world has simply given up - they support the troops and wish them well, but there's a feeling that once GWB is out of office, somehow all of this will get better.

I do not share this view, but I do begin to share the sense that this is a waiting game, that we must simply outlast the president's term before we can do anything about his legacy.

Meanwhile, I can be glad that I have no 401(k) as it probably would have tanked by now.

Yours in cynicism,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

mystery house

Naturally I've had "You Can Leave Your Hat On" stuck in my head since Thursday, coupled with an incredible desire to giggle.

Sam and I follow the same route nearly every day for our walks. Periodically I will notice something about one of the houses or other buildings and (human curiosity, I suppose) I start to come up with possible explanations. One house had an enormous trash binin teh back yard for months - the kind that are the size of a garbage truck. "Ah, remodeling," I thought. Then a port-o-potty appeared and stayed, which to me suggests a lack of running water.

The grass stayed neatly mowed and the bushes trimmed. Maybe I've just seen too many episodes of Flip This House in which the whole project gets completed in two weeks or less, but this wasn't what I expected.

The bin and the outhouse were gone as of yesterday, but there's no For Sale sign - perhaps I need a new theory.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

adventures in music

I am not, as Dave Barry would say, making this up -

Scientists at the Berlin Zoo have been experiementing with mood music to encourage the sharks to, well, fornicate more frequently. (As long as these sharks stay inside their tanks inside Berlin, I have no problem with this experiment.)

Appaerntly one of the songs which sharks find most conducive to procreation is Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" immortalized in the soundtrack to 9 1/2 Weeks.

The Indianapolis Zoo has a new shark petting tank. I am deeply tempted to bring in a boom box... though I would not dream of turning it on while petting them. Perhaps I should donate some ipods?

Friday, August 03, 2007

downsides to post-modeern technology

It’s happened again.

This is the third time.

Someone gave out my phone number as theirs, and now I get their calls.

The first time, it went on for years – women would refuse to believe that I was keeping their man from them and subject me to all sorts of interrogations. Mothers looking for their daughters would burst into tears (this happened three times) when they realized that the “nice boy” had lied to them. Only when the “nice boy’s” boss called looking for him did the calls stop. “Oh, I’ve been getting his calls for years – usually teenage girls.” Oh to have been a fly on the wall when he and the boss did finally connect.

Anyway, in the last month I’ve been getting another round from a fresh source – three messages on my answering machine, including one left at 6 AM, plus plenty of collect calls. This woman owes someone money, and the people calling refuse to believe that I don’t know her.

It’s all quite annoying, but is also a very strong message: I will never, ever, EVER default on any sort of loan, even if it means a lifetime of Ramen noodles. Oh, yes, and cheap beer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I was born in a smalltown...

I am in a galaxy far, far away, aka visiting my hometown. Much has changed since my last trip - the nicest restaurant in town (40 years and goingh strong) has closed. The place that always had great New Year's stuff is now Mexican and closed on weekends. The local swiming hole has been closed for years.

I am most touched by the changes - the Victorian mansion I always fantasized about fixing up is now a parking lot. The reataurant which housed fast food, pizza and subs is no more - but so many places still stand and are beautiful.

Yours in reverie...

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Harry Potter thought

With all of the hoopla, there does seem to be an interesting under-currrent. A handful of us have been on the Harry Potter bandwagon from the beginning. I showed up at my local bookstore to purchase #2 and #3 the morning that each went on sale, that's how far back I go. There are others ike me - we don't seem to mind that others love the books, but there does seem to be a vein of "welcome, but some of us have been here longer than you and don't you forget it."

An English prof from IUPUI was interviewed this morning on NPR, and expressed her doubts that these books would endure. With Ellen Glasgow still on my mind, I understand her thoughts, but I think she's dead wrong. Glasgow isn't the sort of book one reads to children or revisits in a childhood reverie. Rowling is. Oh, sure, she may not be the be-all and end-all in twenty years (forty, sixty) but neither is she the next Glasgow.

Counting the hours -

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson

Much has been said about LBJ in the days since her death. All of it seems to be positive, and I would hardly deny it of her. Certainly she made a difficult role her own, and following in Jackie Kennedy's shoes is not a position I think most of us would want.

Certainly Lady Bird Johnson did well in the role. The kind of controversy attracted by the actions of Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton did not attach to her. At the same time, I'm quite intrigued that not one of the blogs, articles or radio pieces I've stumbled across has mentioned LBJ's infidelities, or her patience in that area. Hillary Clinton could solve every problem in the Middle East and fix our national heath crisis, but her obituary will still mention Monica Lewinsky. Nancy Reagan's will mention astrology.

I'm not complaining or griping, just intrigued. Maybe it's the residual from the 1960s, pre-Watergate forgiveness factor, kicking in one last time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

for Harriet

When we were young and we were poor, Harriet bought me drinks, so I feel that I owe her. Heck, I'm still poor, but I still do feel that I owe her to the best of my ability to repay when not writing large checks for my student loan debts. Thus when she punts a meme my way, I feel obligated to respond - but this is a toughie.

The basic theme seems to be six things that no one know about you - I am a dull person, but let's see what I can do here.

1) For an in-class presentation I once set a piece of paper on fire. Yes, I did manage to wrangle an A without setting off the fire alarm.

2) I have never eaten a brussels sprout and do not feel that this is a element lacking in my life.

3) Neither have I ever eaten cottage cheese.

4) This blog was named in part after Pilgrim's Progress and a cartoon in The New Yorker with (what else) lemmings in it. Since then, TNY has run quite a few lemming cartoons and I compulsively save them all. I know absolutely nothing else about lemmings.

5) I believe that I live with a ghost. I've only seen him once, but he moves and drops things, opens doors and generally reminds me that he's here. I'm not afraid of him, but I do believe that he's here, keeping an eye on things.

6) Um.... it's red.

Sam is still acting oddly. The tests all came back fine, but as soon as he finished taking the pills, Sam went back to acting oddly. I wish that I could actually talk to him, have ten minutes of conversation, and find out just what's going on. Thanks to all who asked.

Monday, July 09, 2007

author update

Last week I blogged about two parts of a passage from Ellen Glasgow's 1911 work The Miller of Old Church. A friend e-mailed to comment that though she couldn't remember a single thing about Glasgow, she had a gut feeling that Glasgow had been a big name in her time.

I did a little digging, and found a biography from circa 1960 which indicatd that, yes indeed, she had been. The story starts out exactly as you would expect of the stereotypical lady novelist of her era: ill health as a child, read extensively in the family library, not very close to parents but very close to a sister, etc.

Then I learned that she came to reject religion as a young adult and wanted instead to promote the rising middle class through her fiction. Much of the religious ruminating I found hilarious was in fact supposed to be hilarious (I stand corrected) and that the various class aspects were intentional.

The biographer praised Glasgow's scenery descriptions (I agree) and her general enthusiasm for writing. Apparently in her day, Glasgow was in a league with Edith Wharton and Willa Cather.

All right, so what happened? Well, the bigrapher noted some of the problems I have - the prose and language are dated and while concepts are good, the storylines are thin and repatative.

It's the old challenge, really - which of the authors making a storm today will be around and known in fifty years time? Stephen King? Yes, I think so. J.K. Rowling? Permanently ensconsed. Helen Fielding? I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

my dog

I have more than I want to say about Ellen Glasgow (vaguely interesting!) but at the moment am sitting by the phone. Sam has been acting very oddly of late, so I took him in to see the vet yesterday. This was hot on the heels of what I assume was my first ever migraine headache, so it was quite a day.

The vet found no immidiate problems, but took some blood (not his favorite moment) and I should hear soon about the bloodwork.

He's probably fine. It's probably no more than, well.. he's not young any more. The vet and I ran through a long list of possible problems and came up with nothing.

Anyway, am distracted, sorry.

Friday, June 29, 2007

literature, part II

(quote continued)

the scent of the raw, dark earth and for the gleam of the yellow moonlight on the wet, rustling leaves.

Downright pornographic.

This longing may come in adolescence, or many times until the frost of age has withered the senses. It may come amid the showery warmth and the roving fragrance of an April day, or beside the shining, brown, leaf-strewen streams of November.

Men are, I guess, interesting creatures.

(Roving and showering?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

more great literature

It's a very long story why I ended up with this book in my hands and before my eyes instead of Nancy Drew.

Anyway, today's literary quotation comes from Ellen Glasgow's 1911 work, The Miller of Old Church. Think American Thomas Hardy, but racist. The story, set in Virginia, is actually quite good, with a few interesting plot twists... but there's a lot (and I do mean a lot) of of people just standing around and expostulating. The narrator expostulates a lot, too.

It is a mood that comes once to every man - to some men more frequently - a mood in which the prehistoric memory of the soul is stirred, and an intolerable longing arises for the ancient nomadic freedom of the race; when the senses surfeited by civilization cry out for the strong meat of the jungle

It goes on. Men long not just for jungles and nomadic freedom and strong meat but, apparently, also for pottage.

I do not pretend to understand men, much as I like, admire and appreciate them. This information, however, casts an entirely new light upon them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

further literary moments

Taken from The GHost of Blackwood Hall

Mrs. Putney looked at the jeweler. "I cannot speak in your presence," she said haltingly. "I was warned never to tell any man or woman of this matter."

"That's why brought you to a girl detective," the jeweler said quickly. You'll be breaking no confidences in telling Nancy everything."

Nancy Drew is eighteen (pretty much permanently.) She's only enough to vote, make porn, buy cigarettes, serve in the military, get married without parental consent, be thrown out of foster care - indeed, in some counties of Nevada she could work as a prostitute.

"Girl detective" ei yi yi!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

well, of course, it was obvious, wasn't it?

In honor of summer vacation, I've been rereading books I know that I read as a kid, but which I do not remember at all. On my last library trip, I picked up several Nancy Drew mysteries, including Password to Larkspur Lane.

I give away none of the intricate plot details in this post, I assure you.

In Chapter One, a pigeon crash-lands in Nancy's yard. A humantarian, Nancy is concerned for the creature's physical safety and well-being. OK, I buy that - pigeons may be public annoyances, but neither do I wish death upon such creatures. Nancy, as a compassionate being taking care of defenseless creatures sets a good example for the impressionable readers, fine.

Following a quick examination of the bird (Nancy somehow knows that no bones have been broken) her first reaction is, and I quote: I'll wire the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers and give them the number stamped on the bird's leg ring.

OK, so the idea of sending a telegram is quaint and now impossible - the book was written in 1933, revised in 1966, so that's a nice historical moment/ touch for 21st century readers. At the same time, WHAT eighteen year old knows to contact such a group? Knows what their ID badges look like? Even knows that they exist? Combines this with an in-depth knowlege of botany?

This is probably why I have not reread the book in a while - though the implausibility of the stories has actually been a lot of fun.

Monday, June 11, 2007

lemming as super-hero?

Ah, yes, well, back to work then.

Just as soon as I've run my blogroll, checked the BBC headlines... so many possible methods of procrastination.

Last night I dreamd that I had some sort of secret double-life as a Zorro-esque figure. I suspect that I wasn't a particualrly efficient heroine, as most of my dream took place in a Bat Cave, complete with (why not?) an automatic latte maker.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

rest and relaxation

It was so delicious to wake up at 6:15 this morning, look at the clock and then roll over and sleep until 9:30. Would that summer classes did not exist. (Oh, yeah, there's that paycheck thing.) Anyway, am enjoying my lie-in time while I still can.

I've occasionally blogged about Precocious Neighborhood Child, she who can scatch Sam's ears so well that in under thirty seconds he is prepared to reveal his Swiss bank account information, violate National Security and possibly offer to bear her children.

We chatted today, and somehow I came to observe that the current president had once been a cheerleader. You could tell, from the look on her face, that she had contemplated him in a skirt with pom-poms and doubted my sanity. "No, really! He yelled through megaphones and was one of the guys who tossed the girls up in the air and caught them!" She still wasn't persuaded, even though she knows I'm the wacky neighborhood history professor.

Friday, May 25, 2007

food groups

I've just learned that one of the reasons why the Giant Armadillo is an endagered species is that people kill it for the meat.

I realize that this is not a sentence one often types or utters. Pandas are endangered, but we talk about them because they are cute and cuddly. These are not words I often use when discussing armadillos... not that it's a topic I often discuss anyway.

Here's the bit about this information that I still cannot figure out; who would ever look at an armadillo and think, "oh, lunch!"

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Sorry no posts for such a long time. It's been a long and exciting last week of classes - final exam week - grading period - trying to catch up on all of the matters ignored during this time. If the student loan folks had any mercy (I know, they don't) they would simply bill us double in June and leave us alone in April or May (we'd get to choose which.)

With warm weather firmly in place, Sam is in his element - treeing squirrels, hurling curse-word barking at the cat next door, and trying to herd me off onto as many walks as possible.

I've blogged before that I loathe I-465... would happily set Sam onto the designers of the on and off ramps (tiny! too close together!) but must report that when I try to negotiate it at 10:45 PM on a Sunday, it's almost manageable!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dear Students,

You are tired. I am tired. You are about to take four exams - I am about to grade, well, rather a lot more than four. I want to be available and helpful to you. I deliberately do not have any visits to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser or psychic (kidding, but Professor Trelawny would be helpful at the moment) scheduled for this month. I will come ine arly and stay late - but I cannot schedule individually time-convinient exams for each of you. Nor will I reveal secret exam details. You also may not try to make up for your fifteen unexcused abscences by claiming that my "new dress" is nice.

Your exam will cover material you have seen and heard before. The folks who will fail already know that they will fail (15 missed classes will do that.) Go home, get some sleep, and I'll se you tomorrow.

hugs and kisses,
Prof lemming

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

post #500

Bumper sticker seen yesterday: If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable.

Am buried under unceasing mounds of papers, quizzes, exams, extra credit assignments, etc. I used to log how many papers I graded each day as part of my blog... in the last 24 hours it's well into the hundreds. (Some are longer than others, obviously!) I'll still be teaching this summer, but it will be a reduced load, with a new class added, and I'm looking forward to the change.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

a sobering week

I confess that the shootings in Virginia have hit me close to home. You can't teach for more than a month without encountering at least one student who worries you. In my time I've had quite a few, and there's one about whom I still have nightmares. (If I turn up dead, his name is one that should be investigated. I'm serious.)

Education becomes so personal, so intimate and yet because of its cyclical nature, it's easy for faculty and staff (and administration) to hope that "if I just get through this semester, the problem will be over." The problem forgotten by faculty will almost certanly live on for the student - heck, I'm still annoyed at the unprofessionalism of a prof I endured my freshman year.

I teach in a building with stout doors, ones that lock when closed. Since Monday I have faithfully closed (and thus locked) them at the start of class. So what did I do today? When someone knocked at the door, I opened it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

after seeing the records for Sam's latest visit

Oh, you're here! Thank goodness. I am pleased. Mind you, it's about time you showed up.
Hi Sam! Good dog.
ooo, yes, scratch my ears.

Do you know what she did to me?

That vet lady. Do you know what she did to me?
The shots? Yeah, I'm sorry, but it's a law, and really, it's better for you in the long run, particularly since you chase wild game.
That's not what I mean and you know it. I've had shots before.

Do you mean the bath? I know you hate water and all, but truly, you really were in need of one.
The bath is all right. The ladies scratch my ears and gve me biscuits. I'd rather just have the biscuits and the fur-dryer session, but I can handle it.

(long pause)

I'm sorry - you're an older dog and, well, sometimes a dog's gotta, um, be examined in certain ways.

I may sulk.
How about I let you finish my taco?
Oh, OK, I forgive you. Now, about those ducks...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

fowl, take II

This time it was geese from our fair neighbor to the north and, fortunately for them, they chose the neighbor's yard. Sam did his best woofing, but they understood the concept of "fence."

My neighbors are out of town, but will not be happy when they return. I wonder if the geese understand the concept of "man who owns guns" nearly as well... or do they already have personal injury lawyers on their speed dials?

Monday, April 02, 2007

birds! raven and the crow - and the goose and the duck -

One of the aspects to living in the "big city" and its surroundng environs which does not cease to amaze me: the waterfowl. That is to say, there are a lot of them. Flocks. Flocks of flocks.

Last week I was stalked by two Canada Geese as I walked from my office to the car - obviously I was too close to something and had beeter leave right away. That, or produce food.

This morning a pair of mallards was very obviously scoping out my backyard for a nesting location. The male was obviously on guard duty and the female was methodically waddling through the bushes and undergrowth.

"All right, Sam! outside! Look, Sam - ducks!"
Oh! Ducks!

The backyard is now poultry free.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Ok, now I know that we're a much more informal society than we were in the past. The Internet makes us all more connected and intimate than we were in the past. The past, the past and the past.

I fear that we've lost our sense of circumspection in the process. This morning I had the world's longest elevator ride, during which I listened to a group of students discuss the various reasons (and there were several) why they didn't take the chair's class seriously, why he is an easy grader, and the various lies they told to get out of handing in today's homework.

Hello?! Faculty here! Wearing nylons and high heels and very much too old to be one of you! Circumspection?

Yours in hoping that there's some way in which I can take this as a compliment,

Monday, March 26, 2007

my kind of rock stars

SINGING twins THE PROCLAIMERS celebrated their first UK No 1 yesterday -
by washing shirts and undies.

Unlike other pop stars who throw wild parties after topping the charts,
the Scots stars cleaned their smalls.

CRAIG REID, 45, who performs with brother CHARLIE on Comic Relief single
(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles, confessed they had run out of clean clothes
after a hectic few weeks promoting the song.

After learning they had hit the top spot by a mile after 20 years of
trying, Craig loaded the washer.

He said: "I spent the afternoon washing and ironing.

"I've hardly been at home because we've been so busy. I had no clean
shirts or underwear left so I had to get a load on. We're off working
for another six days so there was no other time to do it."

But Craig, of Edinburgh, did plan to toast the No 1 with his family -
after the ironing.

He said: "I'll have a wee drink and that'll be it."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

one for Bartlett's

"Rin-Tin-Tin was a movie star. I just have a slide show."
-Al Gore

OK, we could all go on and on about the science behind global warming, is he a hypocrite, is Gore truly living what he says... but you have to admit, this is a great line.

Monday, March 19, 2007

a mature dog learns a new trick

Yesterday Sam begged and pleaded to accompany me to campus. "All right, dog, why not? It won't be too terribly hot or cold."

This is what I get for hitting the snooze alarm instead of listening to the weather forecast. Sam was in the car when the thunder and lightening and driving rain hit, hit, hit, pounded, pelted and otherwise asaulted teh area. By the time I could get back to him, Sam lay curled into the smallest possible ball of fur, nose in his tail. As soon as we got home, he immidiately sprawled out on his sofa, fast asleep, not to be heard from for several hours.

Despite my lack of caffeine, I notice that when he heard the sound of car keys this morning, Sam promptly disappeared.

Editor's Note: actually posted on Tuesday...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday musings

I've been trying to remember what it was about the Attny. General that I didn't like during the confirmation hearings. I don't mean his politics or policies or anything like that (though I disagree with him there as well) but there was something about his as a person that really turned my stomach. Then I managed to forget all about him - out of sight, out of mind, figured he was doing his job. With all of the latest news coverage, my stomach turns again. At least he was doing a job. (said she with a groan)

Even if the Republicans had managed a majority in Congress, I still think we'd have something of a lame duck situation in place. Everyone is hanging on for the 2008 elections.

NPR did a great piece the other morning about the president's Latin America tour, noting that he mentioned food in nearly all of his speeches. Perhaps he is tired, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

vocabulary words

Now please bear in mind that I did not choose the textbook which I am about to lampoon. It's a standard "all of our classes use this book and we've always used this book and so the department sticks with it for this class" so I use it. Such is life and who am I to dictate otherwise? It allows me to complain to the students about it as much as they do. (All textbooks are to a certain extent awful.)

I'm prepping for this morning's class, which includes looking over what the kids have to read for homework. (insert theme music) "yes, yes, yes - OK, OK, got it, got it, that will be fun to explain, oh yeah, I should remember to tell them that - effluents?

I don't pretend to be a wordsmith, but given that each of us has a vocabulary of several thousand words... this one is clear in context but new to me. Who the ^&(*%$& do the textbook authors think are their readers?

At any rate, this will give me an extra 30 seconds of class material.

Monday, March 12, 2007

note to self

When arriving at work, do not park next to the car which is the same make, model number and color as mine.

This morning I happened to grouse about Daylight Saving Time (Maine!!! we share a time zone with Maine!!) in the hearing of a little boy, maybe eight years old. "Yeah," he replied, "that's Governor Darkness for you."

Monday, March 05, 2007

typical Monday

I put on a new pair of stockings at 6:30 AM.

By 10 AM, they had runs in both legs.

The British call stocking runs "ladders" which I've always thought a more accurate (and amusing) description.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

book meme

I swiped this from Harriet - in case you wondered what to get me for my birthday... "People will insist upon giving me books." Harriet noted that it's a funny list, but I always enjoy looking at these - gives me ideas. (Most Harry Potters but only one Narnia)

Bold = books you've read?
italics = books you wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole or wish you hadn't

1. The Davinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3.To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)

31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) gift from a student
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) Never again!!!
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51.The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54.Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
blew my mind
60. The Time Traveller�s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

Two Ayn Rand novels?

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65.Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
incredible book
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69 Les Miserables (Hugo)
70.The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
(French and English)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) (I need to as I love the film)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78.The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79.The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80.Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)Even Austen screws up sometimes
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

Would like to read this one - I sense a library run in my future

98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100.Ulysses (James Joyce)

Not even if it was the last book on earth...

Monday, February 26, 2007

life in the fast lane

What with all of the nasty weather we've had of late, I am the last (and I do mean the last) to disparage someone driving slowly when it's dark, the roads are slick, etc.

However when the roads are clear, the sun is shining and I'm running late, I have little patience for people who drive 40 m.p.h. in a 55 zone. It's called a "speed limit sign" - have you looked at it lately?

Perhaps my Lenten resolution should have been to have patience with such people (OK, that will be next year.) The problem is that these drivers force the line of cars beind them (ten by my count today) to make a decision not perhaps best made early on a Monday morning; to pass or not to pass? Do we chance the head-on collision associated with passing? (Depends upon how late we're running, I suspect.) At the same time, at what point does the slow driver have a responsibility to pull over and allow the line of cars to pass by before resuming their speed? Assuming that this (twenty-something) woman had a reason for going fifteen miles under the speed limit (transmisson? low on gas?) shouldn't she notice all of the cars passing and pull over?

This subject was not, to the best of my memory, covered in Driver's Ed.

On another note: I have not seen any of the Oscar-nminated films. I have no doubt that Last King of Scotland is terrific. I still wish that Peter O'Toole had won Best Actor, after SEVEN previous nominations.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

two firsts

Everything is starting to melt, which of course means that the streets are safe, but the sidewalks are a mess of black ice. This is the time of year when I wonder why I like Indiana so much.

It was an exciting weekend, and I experienced two unexpected firsts: a pedicure (my feet feel so clean!) and I finallyheard "Thriller." Yes, somehow I managed to be alive during the 1980s and miss this song. Oh, I knew "Billie Jean" and various other hits off that album, but I'd missed the title track.

My reaction to "Thriller" bears a striking resemblence to my reaction the first time I heard "Hit Me Baby One More Time" - this is it?

Speaking of which, Ms Spears is selling her hair on eBay, or so I am told by persons hipper than I. I do hope someone is around to catch her when she finally crashes.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

swift as a coursing river

I woke up this morning with a horrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling that my class outline for today sucked. No amount of good humor or "yes, I hate the textbook too" would help. Crap. Crap crap crap and several other swear words

on the drive to work, reconfigured the whole thing in my mind, and then kicked some serious teacher butt.

Bear in mind that I am not "qualified" to teach college classes full time.

On a happier note, the roads are clear. I have been so impressed by the Indianapolis road crews over the last three days - I helped by staying off the roads (my first snow day in how many years?!) while they strapped snow-plows to garbage trucks and kept the roads clear.

A spcial thanks to the woman who helped push me out of teh frozen slush today. What can I say, I had an urge to recycle...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

yet another post about Indiana weather

The snow started sometime last night and kept right on going. I credit the road crews; at about 6 AM my street was plowed, presumably salted, and if I had suffered from a serious need (hospital, prescription refill, etc.) I probably could have made it to the main road and thus to the Walgreens. It would have been a slow trip, and I'd have prayed the entire way that I didn't see any other cars, but possible.

Then the freezing rain started in, the wind started blowing - the streets are covered again, and a step outside means thousands of needles slapping into your bare skin. Sam (who at least has fur) dashed outside and back inside in somehing less then twenty seconds.

Much of Indianapolis seems to have wisely chosen (or been ordered) to stay at home ans off the streets. At least we knew this was coming and could plan accordingly. Alas, this is terrifc weather to stay inside and grade papers, something I can do just as well either here or at the office.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

from the trenches

As is typical for this time of the semester, I have students who are ghosts - they show up on my roster, but have yet to attend a class, turn in an assignment or otherwise make themselves known.

It is a relief to tell the bureaucrats to cut them - a few less exams to grade, reports to file, homeworks to pile up.

Yet I wonder why, what happened, could it have been stopped, and my worries now carry extra weight in light of my own life. I got lost in the shuffle, in the larger world of four PhDs who forgot about me, ignored me, didn't remember that I told them I needed something. Did these folks get lost? Did they feel ignored? Or were they just so caught up in being young and foolish that they didn't belong in college in the first place? Far too may of these folks are locals - did they go home too often, watch the Colts and forget about class? IS it s local problem? An Indiana problem? Does my teaching style induce amnesia?

No Child Left Behind has left behind the best 25% and the worst 25% and focused upon the middle half who can get through, pass a test and not rock the boat. How do we teach the need to go the extra mile?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

the coffee pots

I'm still trying to work out the coffee pot ettiquette. The very benevolent woman who runs the department (i.e. the administrative assistant) is very assiduous about firing up the pots the moment she arrives in the building, sometimes even befroe she takes off her coat. She knows that some of us will need it... the question is, at what point do I make another pot? I assume that most of the coffee drinking takes place before noon, even on the coldest and snowiest of days. I also know that my need for a hit at 6 AM is other people's 2 PM addiction.

This is also an issue, as I've noticed that many folks take the last cup from the pot, but do not make another. Is this a rule? Is the administrator the only one allowed to make the coffee? Do we have a specific monthly (weekly?) ration and she doles it out?

If it is rationed, I say we take the extra out of the salary of the man with the office next to mine. He keeps spilling.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rex & Peyton

Is the weekend over? Thanks goodness. Yay Colts, poor Bears (Rex Grossman can be so good and yet not so good, all at once) but I do love a local happy ending. I passed myself off as truly informed at the coffee pots this morning. I devoutly hope that the Pacers do not make the play-offs, as I don't think I could take the further strain.

Meanwhile, may I just say that I kicked some serious teaching butt today, even among the hungover masses. In fact, yes, I can say it and I just did. I love my job and to **** with my ex-committee members.

Meanwhile, I have finally heard a Brittney Spears song on the radio. Eh? This is what all of the fuss is about?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

football redux

lemming: I mean, I'm pretty clueless and all, but I think the Colts stand a good chance of not totally blowing the Super Bowl.

fellow academic: Right. I mean, it's not as though the Pariots have won the Super Bowl lately.

Yours in having done her Super Bowl pop culture research,

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Colts Post III

In Sign #6.5 of the impending apacolypse (sorry, John B. but it's true!) I purchased a newspaper yesterday for the express purpose of reading the sports section, or at least as much of it as pertains to the Colts. What did I find? A quote from the coach aboutManning. (rolls eyes)

I think I have all of my pop culture bits down now, thanks to my assiduous cram session. If in line at the grocery store or standing around the coffee pot, I have enough trivia so that I can blend in. (We have a new second departmental coffee pot! Two of 'em! Such luxury!)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

another Colts post - from me, no less!

I've been actively looking for more on Coach Dungy (thanks, Nomo, I did see that piece, but you're sweet to mention it) but still think that more should be said (or at least sound-bitten) about him. There's an old trope even I know about which says that when a team loses, it is the fault of the coach, but when they win, the players should get the congratulations. I guess I'm looking for more of a city-wide "hurrah!" toward the coach (coaches, trainers, physical therapists, support staff, etc.) rather than the latest update on Peyton Manning's thumb.

Long-time - heck, even short-time - visitors to this blog know that my interest in football is casual at best, though I am very pleased and proud of the Colts (hey! and the Pacers! they had a good game!) With all of the blue flags, window hangings, t-shirts, and whatnot that I see around here, I am surprised that so few places seem to have them for sale. I'd don a t-shirt or wave a flag if I had one, yet the local grocery stores and ye audle bigge boxxe storees do not seem to have anything other than Colts-emblazoned beer. Whiel it might be fun to walk about all day with a Colts beer can in my hand, it doe stend to cut down on that appearance of professionalism...

Monday, January 22, 2007

a potentially heretical statement

Ok, OK, yes, I'm happy for the Colts. Yes, the comeback was quite impressive. Believe it or not, I even watched part of the game and understood it. (No, it wasn't the commercials, thank-you very much.) Peyton Manning seems like a great guy and, to my delight, even speaks in complete sentences when interviewed.

Why (and I am serious in this question) is it that none of the commentators I've heard/ read/ seen have commented upon the Colts coach? I assume he is at least partially responsible for this season's achievements, but I couldn't give his you his name if my life depended upon it. Apart from his race, I know nothing about the coach, no one ever seems to mention him - ???

Friday, January 19, 2007

the rule of dogs

Hey there.
I'm busy, Sam.

What is it, dog?
Oh, nothing....

Sam - out?
Oh, don't mind me.

Sam, I love you deeply, but I'm busy. What is it that you want>
Oh, well, if you're busy...

Sam, you are supposed to be my canine companion, not some sort of mind-game generative (insert several other multi-syllabic words only suitable for such occasions as these)
Well, if you're going to be like that, all right, I think I'd like to go outside and bark at the squirrels for a while.

Yeah, thought so.

Who, me?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

if we took the bones out...

I'm working on some upcoming homework assignments.

They need enough leeway for the frightened freshmen, hiding in the middle row, but also for the bright ones to have fun and that I can catch the cheaters without too much searching.

At the same time, I like slightly quirky assignments, ones that might inspire a few extra jokes from the students or at least keep me amused. I'm thinking of something having to do with time travel or fairylands.

I suspect that this flight of fancy has something to do with my residual feelings about Helen Hill, but the greyness of Indiana winter doesn't help much. There's no harm in a little escapism, is there? (I hope)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Helen Hill

One of the blogs to which I link is written by Editor B. B and his wife, Xy, were flooded out by Hurricane Katrina, but returned to New Orleans as soon as they could.

If you've listened to NPR in the last few days, you've heard about the latest round of murder in the city, and about the rallies being held. Helen Hill sounds like the kind of woman I wish I could have known; her husband survived the attack, while wrapping his body around their toddler, a literal human sheild.

B and XY knew Helen Hill; he's written several entries in the last week. They're not easy reads, but probably some of the most important pieces I will read all year. His memories of Hill and observations on the city and her problems should be required reading for - well, fill in the blank with a good long list.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Historian Arrested for jay-walking

I grant you that the article does show a bit of bias in favor of the professor in question. Nonetheless, it's an interesting insight into the Atlanta legal system through the eyes of a foreign scholar.

Friday, January 05, 2007

You've Got to Start Somewhere

A Public Service Announcement:

it's = it is

its = ownership.

This is probably the most common mistake writers of English (be it student papers, blogs or what have you) make in their everyday prose.

Now, for those of us who are simply chattering away and get it wrong, all right. We should (and do) know better, but OK. However I expect better things from publishing. In rereading Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz last night, I observed that it's was always used to show ownership, even though it is wrong, wrong, wrong. L.Frank Baum didn't do this - it's some (insert swear word) editor who figured that this author person has been dead for 90 years and didn't know what he was doing at the time.

"It's a lovely day." = It is a lovely day.

"The Colts are getting a new stadium and it's terrific." = The Colts are getting a new stadium and it is terrific (meanwhile I use the pile of dirt as a navigational landmark.)

"I have a new calendar. Its pictures are all funny." = I have a new calendar. The pictures which belong to it (ITS, people, no apostrophe!) are reasonably amusing.