Wednesday, April 30, 2008

six and six

At this point I have been tagged by so many people that I cannot list all of them here, but I do promise to follow the rules and leave a comment on all of your sites.

1) I am terrified of heights to the extent of being unable to move. I've had to be carried off ladders and led off of catwalks.

2) I once played the role of the princess in "The Princess and the Pea." This involved spending 40 minutes in total on a bed ten feet tall without any railing. (I still have a piece of it.) How did I manage this? I had a friend on the unseen side of the bed who spent the entire time I was up there smiling, giving me a thumbs up, waving, and generally being supportive. Wouldn't have gotten by without him - thanks Gio, wherever you are.

3) I have a terrible weakness for soy sauce, even on odd foods, such as mashed potatoes.

4) For a month the arrow keys on my keyboard have not functioned. My tab key has not worked for two years. My caps lock key died about 18 months ago. Needless to say, I have a new keyboard, but it is still sitting un-opened in the box.

5) John Bellairs is one of my favorite authors. He's deliciously creepy and throws in all sorts of little historical references - and you need to know your history to get them. Hannah Dustin doesn't get a lot of attention in history class.

6) If given thousands of dollars toward a plane ticket and other travel expenses, I would head straight to Wales.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

for the record

#1 - I got mail today from the Obama campaign. I got a phone call from the Clinton campaign. My vote matters! It's not principle,it's not just - to hell with just, candidates actually want my vote!!!!

#2 - This poetry thing is getting far bigger than I ever imagined.

if everything happens that can't be done
e.e. cummings

if everything happens that can't be done
(and anything's righter
than books
could plan)
the stupidest teacher will almost guess
(with a run
around we go yes)
there's nothing as something as one

one hasn't a why or because or although
(and buds know better
than books
don't grow)
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
around we come who)
one's everyanything so

so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
around again fly)
forever was never till now

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shuter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
around we go all)
there's somebody calling who's we

we're anything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
than books
might mean)
we're everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one

Friday, April 18, 2008

two earthquakes

#1 - the human mind is goofy. I woke up to the bed, walls, ceiling moving - and Sam, on all four paws and ready for anythng needed in defense of his mistress. He fell off the bed, but continued to survey the surroundings and general vicinity for the source of the danger. "oh, Sam, it's only an earthquake," I said, and went back to sleep.

90 minutes later, on the other hand, I actually woke up.... "OMG Sam, it was a ^*&(*&%$#%^*&()(*&%^*& earthquake?!!!"

5.2 on the Richter Scale.

#2 - an e-mail came today, out of the clear clue sky. "Prof lemming, you have forgotten me " like hell I have, you have no idea, "but you changed my life in ways gjlkjjlkrty."

I what?!!

To hell with that, you nomiated me for my first teaching award. All I did was offer you advice on a few papers. OK, I did talk to you after class, but all good teachers do that, right?

You wrote to my chair. I didn't do anything special, nothing unusual, but you thought it was special. I can recite parts of that letter from memory. You think that I have forgotten you? Not even an earthquake would make me forget you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

confessions of a history geek

Not even of a history major, just a history geek...

I had a class today which I could have done 95% of the top of my head when I was 17. Oh yes, there are nuances, facts, figures which I'm sure (I hope) were refined during the 10, 000 years I spent in graduate school. At the same time, I did 28 minutes straight without once looking at my notes. It's nice to be competant occasionally.

The latest poetry wasn't chestnuts - it was just awful. Why do people have the idea that all poems have to rhyme?

At my undergraduate institution, you had to complete a senior comprehensive exercise in your major to prove that you had actually learned something in four years. My exact memory of what happened after I passed is a tad vague. I do however vividly remember standing with a group of other English majors and shouting this at the moon.


we're anything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
than books might mean)
we're everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one.

-ee cummings, "If Everything Happens that Can't be Done"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

confessions of a recovering English major

With one painfully boring exception, I loved my English classes in college. I majored in History because I knew I could do it well; I majored in English because it meant I got credits for reading novels and poetry. Hey, it seemed a good idea at the time, even if it meant that I wrote about five bazillion papers in four years. For this I am still making student loan payments.

It also means that when I listened to "Prairie Home Companion" spoof English majors on Sunday, I instinctively started to think about post-structuralism and its relationship to gender identity and deconstructionism.

Anyway, this is apparently National Poetry Month or some such because people keep sending me poems. These are normal, rational-seeming folks, and it is nice to see what gets sent my way... certainly a break from the usual dross of life.

I'm noticing something, though - almost all of the poems (upwards of 20) are old chestnuts. There's nothing wrong with "Two roads diverged in yellow wood/ and sorry I could not travel both" it's just that even as a freshman in college I was sick of it. Wordsworth's poem about daffodils is terrfic, but again, it's so over-used and repeated.

Now. I'm not arguing that we should all memorize "The Man From Snowy River" (up the Australians!) or that "Dulce et Decorum Est" doesn't make me cry (it does) but Frost and Owen and Dickinson and their kin did write other pieces.

P.S. There's a bumper sticker that says, "If You can read this thank a music teacher." (Then there's a few bars of Beethoven.) Official thanks to the teacher who first walked me through Paradise Lost.

Friday, April 11, 2008

advice to tech support

The phrase "oh yeah, this happens all the time" is not reassuring.

Nor is "we have no idea why this happens."

Lie to me. Tell me that it has to do with the orbits of the moons of Jupiter if you must, but please pretend that you understand why my computer is behaving in a strange way for the umpteenth time.

Oh, and P.S. do not take it as a compliment that everyone on my floor has your extension on speed dial.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

more politics

Thanks to all for the feedback about my HRC/ BO comparison. I had no idea my random musings would generate such passion.

I don't want my vote to be cast "just" about the war. I knew (and know) far too many poeple who based their vote four years ago solely on 9/11 and a conviction that only GWB had protected us from it happening again. Do not underestimate the conservativeness of Indiana. John Kerry carried Marion County (aka Indianapolis) in 2004, but he and Gore are still the subject of scorn and derision here in the land of the Hoosiers. Being a left-leaning liberal sort of carbon based life form in Indiana is not an easy matter and we tend to be quiet about it. While the pre-varicating drives me up the wall, it does force me to really think through, think through carefully, what I believe, what I support and how to live it. Bear in mind that I live and work alongside people who wish that GWB could serve a third term.

Plus I teach history, so I'm probably waaaay too caught up in the historicity of the moment. Call it an occupational hazzard.

I did do some serious reading this morning about the candidates - their positions on issues other than Iraq, long-term hopes and allegiances, etc. I'm heartened that both BO and HRC have prioritized health care, though after living through the early 1990s, I'm not sanguine. Obama can be as independent as he likes, the insurance companies have scuttled health care reform before and will do it again.

On a happier note, a quote for the day:

She refused to bebored because she was not boring.
-Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, April 03, 2008

decisions, decisions, ah, pay me a lawyer's salary please

All right, I'm working on this decision process.


Pro - Bill Clinton's voice is pleasant.
Chelsea has no visble drinking problem.
A woman president, how cool would that be?!

Con - she voted for the war.


Pro: Michelle seems very smart and savvy.
Kids seem reasonably normal, as far as Hyde Park kids go (the U of Chicago is a very bizarre place.)
An African American pesident, how cool would that be?

He did not vote for the war.

Is this it? Is this all that my vote decision process will come down to at the end of the voting booth curtain? Not that the war isn't significant, but there must be more... I'll keep looking.

Just a passing thought - Bill Clinton campaigned for HRC in Bedford. When was the last time, if ever, that a former president visited Bedford? Benjamin Harrison, maybe? Wow. We're actually having a primary, what a great and wonderful concept.