Friday, April 21st 2006

Haiku Invitational!
posted @ 1:24 pm in [ ]

You know, haiku is great stuff. One can crank out poem-lets in a relatively short period of time, and the syllable restrictions (5-7-5) force one to select interesting words. I encourage you to whip one up and leave it in the comments area. Any topics are welcome, and I’ll post each and every haiku I get. I’ll leave this posting up front for a few days to give folks a chance to haiku, and then next week, I’ll laud the author of the best one, quite possibly in haiku format. So take a minute and make some art! Here are a few to inspire you to do much better:

He climbs up higher I contemplate from below, grateful for ladders

WTF, George Bush?! Stop tapping my phone, jerkweed. Why are you still here?

Casual swearing: How could Grant Theft Auto dorks be so offended?

I hate when you drive. You squash far too many squirrels, and too few fascists.

Who sat in jelly then on the couch and the dog? The butt prints abound.

Thursday, April 20th 2006

Test your political leanings
posted @ 8:19 am in [ ]

This week I received a political quizlet by email. It’s only 10 questions, and it seems to be fairly accurate. It has five areas: centrist in the middle, and then a grid around it with quadrants along the axes liberal-conservative and libertarian-big government. See what you think — Take it here. Do I really have to tell you where I landed? Yup, liberal quadrant, one unit over from the libertarian border. I guess with this quiz, socialism does not have much to do with big government…

Tuesday, April 18th 2006

Campaign songs?
posted @ 2:58 pm in [ ]

Some of you have been writing in with suggestions for campaign songs. Sure, it’s premature, but I’m digging the suggestions! So far, three of my favorites have been suggested:

  1. The Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood.” Remember what the thought is/I brought all this/so you could survive when law is lawless…

  2. Alabama 3’s “Mao Tse Tung Said.” Mao Tse Tung said/change must come/change must come/from the barrel of a gun…

  3. And so far my personal favorite, Eddie Harris’ and Les McCann’s “Compared to What.” The President, he’s got his war/Folks don’t know just what it’s for/Nobody gives us rhyme or reason/Have one doubt, they call it treason/We’re chicken-feathers, all without one gut (God damn it!)/Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what? (Sock it to me, now)

All great selections! Other ideas? What the hell. We’re just playing around, here…

Monday, April 17th 2006

Where is the wisdom in that?
posted @ 11:03 am in [ ]

Okay, just about everybody I know has a terrible story about getting their wisdom teeth removed. A friend of mine is about to get hers pulled, sort of late in life for this kind of thing, and she’s nervous about it because of all the horror stories out there. Who can blame her?

I have what is probably the tamest story of anyone I know (and it also includes a lot of product placement!). I’ll share the best part right up front: I had my wisdom teeth out on a Thursday, and I ate pizza for dinner on Monday. I want to assure my friend, and anyone else out there who’s worried about it (I sure was!) that there are plenty of folks out here who did not have their wisdom teeth ripped from their heads at the Silent Hill Oral Surgery Clinic.

For one thing, my wisdom teeth didn’t start coming in in any sort of serious way until I was 20, so most of my friends had already had theirs out or had otherwise resolved the issue through various aspects of evolutionary mutation: either by having the jaw of a neanderthal that had space for a few extra teeth, or by being too evolved to grow them at all. Asking those who had had the surgery about their experiences, though, did not help, as they were all horrible — but I was at least heartened by the fact that they all seemed okay then. For another thing, my wisdom teeth were only tissue-impacted and not bone-impacted, so it was an easier and less painful surgery than other folks I know. I was also fortunate that they weren’t coming in sideways or anything — I just didn’t have room for them. So my initial situation could have been a lot worse. Finally, I had great post-operative care from lots of folks, so I recovered quickly.

Here was my experience:

My dentist, who was a family friend and had been tending to my teeth since I had teeth at all, referred me to a really good oral surgeon. The oral surgeon checked me out, told me about the surgery, and gave me some stuff to read. He tried to convince me to be awake while it was going on, but I said nothing doing, and he accepted that.

The stupidest thing I did was to read the stuff he gave me. I’m sure it was just a disclaimer about all the things that could possibly go wrong so I would be prepared in case it didn’t go smoothly, but it scared the bejesus out of me. If you get pamphlets about the surgery, do not, under any circumstances, read them, at least until after the surgery. Sure, let a loved one read them if you want, but not you, okay? The scariest part for me was the suggestion that one could get an alarming (and, it was implied, possibly excruciating, sterilizing, brain-paralyzing, lethal) sinus/ear infection. Aieeeee!

The morning of the surgery, my roommate took really good care of me. She took me to an old-school apothecary where we picked up a whimsical little old-fashioned ice bag. It had bright blue cloth on the outside with a white pattern that looked exactly like reinforcements for looseleaf binder paper holes. DO get an ice bag or have comfortable ice packs on hand. After my surgery, I iced my face for most of the rest of the day and had almost no perceptible swelling (and hence very little post-operative pain) at all. I highly recommend it. My roommate also read to me, patted my head, let me ramble about how freaked out I was, and when it was time, drove me to the surgery, and hung out so she could drive me back afterwards. I know, wotta pal!

The surgery itself was far better than most meetings I have been to. They gave me laughing gas so I’d relax enough for the Novacain (TM), so I wouldn’t feel the sodium pantathol drip going in… there is really nothing like a cocktail of surgical-quality drugs. Any time I had the slightest idea what was going on, I pointed at the drip on my arm, they cranked the juice, and I no longer had any idea what was going on. I had a vague sensastion of pressure in my mouth, but it wasn’t painful; and a sort of crunching, splintering sound that was very, very far away and not at all disturbing. The only other thing I remember from the surgery itself was one moment where I had some vague stirring of consciousness, pointed at my drip, and one of the doctors said, “Jesus Christ, she’s sucking this stuff down like a horse.” Then consciousness cheerfully loped away again.

When I woke up, I looked at the clock and I had been out for less than an hour. I didn’t really have any time comprehension after that point, but wow, that was quick! They let me hang out for a while until I could walk and stuff, poked some gauze wads into the back of my mouth, told me to swap it out every 10 or 15 minutes, gave me a fresh roll, and a prescription for more kickass drugs, and sent me home with my roommate.

Recall here that I was still high as a kite on surgical-grade narcotics. My thoughtful roommate tilted the passenger seat back for me and let me watch the trees go by through the moonroof of her hatchback on the way home. It was a bright and sunny day, as far as I could tell, with chripy birds and fluffy clouds. We stopped by the pharmacy, and she went in and got my prescription filled while I hung out in the car with zero time sense and probably changed out my gauze three or four times because it felt wet. I mean, of course it felt wet, because it was: what? In my mouth. I eventually worked that out, but it took me a while. I also remember finding some plastic piece of the car’s interior, and trying for several minutes to figure out what it had fallen off so I could put it back. I never frickin’ figured it out, or saw the piece again. I wonder if I did something with it.

Somewhere between 6 minutes and 18 months later, my roommate came back and we went home. I remember giggling at some guy who was up on a ladder stuffing cotton candy into the walls of his house. My roommate claimed I also really SHARED on the way home.

I vaguely remember my mother calling to see how the surgery went and seeming alarmed. I must have still been pretty doped up. Maybe I told her about the cotton candy. That sort of thing would alarm any mother. I don’t remember a couple of dozen other people calling me to check on me, but I guess they did because apparently I told them all to call me Tuesday, which they all did, claiming that had been my request.

I tried to eat a bowl of Progresso (TM) minestrone soup, but the acidic tomatoes were pretty rough on my new headholes, and it took me about half the bowl to figure out what that burning sensation was. My father came over in the afternoon and brought me a brown paper bag. I looked in the bag, and there were jaw breakers, and peanut brittle, and Bit-O-Honeys (TM)… but then under that were a videotape of Blazing Saddles (c) and about 20 boxes of Jell-O (TM).

I iced my face for the next several hours, and hung out on the couch watching cartoons (and apparently telling people to call me Tuesday). Whatever prescription medication I had made the furniture really comfortable. I could have cozied up just fine on a pile of shoes. I think my roommate drove me over to the campus newspaper, where I was the arts editor, to hang out on that couch for a little bit.

I spent the weekend becoming more aware of my surroundings, watching Cartoon Network (TM), and eventually reading. I had a teensy bit of swelling along my right jawline the next day, but it wasn’t all that noticible, or sore, and it went down quickly (I credit the groovy retro icepack). We had pizza for dinner Monday night, so I figured I was pretty good to go back to classes and work and what-not. Then Tuesday, everybody called me, which was nice. I began to trade in the furniture-enhancing drugs for Advil (TM), which didn’t make me feel pukey if it started to wear off. I spritzed my new headholes regularly with the syringe they gave me and did not get any alarming, paralyzing, lethal infections of any kind.

So all in all, my wisdom teeth experience was pretty benign. See? It happens. Now, I open up the floor. Anyone else have an okay experience? No? Okay, tell us how it went at Silent Hill Oral Surgery Clinic (Ltd.).

Friday, April 14th 2006

I got picked for the team
posted @ 12:57 pm in [ ]

Well, after all the prodding I got from y’all a few weeks ago to apply to GoRun Colorado, I went ahead and applied. And, as it turns out, I got in, so I reckon I’m going. If I come back from there and decide I want to run for office, you people better contribute to my campaign and vote for me and stuff, even if I don’t have a prayer of winning. Okay?

Thursday, April 13th 2006

Witch hunts and other fashion statements
posted @ 8:11 am in [ ]

Last week, a few of you sent me links to this article, about the many teachers being fired or otherwise hassled for having opinions or otherwise trying to get students to think. It poses the question: “University professors denounced for anti-Americanism; schoolteachers suspended for their politics; students encouraged to report on their tutors. Are US campuses in the grip of a witch-hunt of progressives, or is academic life just too liberal?”

Now, you already know how I feel about this stuff. I might also add one tidbit: sometimes, in order to get students to THINK about something in a new way — their own way, and not just the way somebody told it to them — you have to make a really out-there statement that grabs their attention and forces them to assess its validity. You don’t have to believe it, but once the students are engaged, you can start finding the edges of what they think and you can analyze it together. It’s actually a pretty good primary-source teaching tool. Teachers should be encouraged to use it. Use your words, administators, not the axe.

The article also refers to McCarthyism, and Gary Younge is not the only person who has made that connection. Anyone out there remember Red Channel? When actors and members of the entertainment industry were blacklisted during the McCarthy era (the vast majority of the time not even being communists), they would then be publicly denounced on Red Channel broadcasts. Can someone tell me why this is different? Anyone? Anyone?

So what happened to me was really very fashionable. I got fired between the Ward Churchill and Jay Bennish flaps. (Incidentally, I am prouder to say that I attend the same school at D.U. that Bennish does than that I am in the same Ph.D. program from which Condoleeza Rice graduated.) Ah, the things we do for fashion: wear heels, punch holes in ourselves, get fired…

Wednesday, April 12th 2006

The Heron Story
posted @ 1:17 pm in [ ]

Once upon a time, a young photographer named Phillip was practicing his wildlife photography skills. He got his best friend up at an ungodly hour to come help him take pictures of dawn herons on the wing at a local wildlife preserve. A funny thing happened, though: while previously infested with herons, once Phillip got his equipment set up, the lake was entirely devoid of anything remotely resembling a heron. They waited around for a while, and eventually gave up and went home.

For years afterward, the best friend mercilessly teased Phillip about the utter lack of herons that day. The teasing was especially intense when herons, almost apologetically, would come rather close to Phillip when he was without camera equipment. “Look, Phil, a heron!” the friend would cry out, and then laugh himself stupid. At the friend’s wedding, for example, a group of people taking a boat ride were subjected to many such heron observations, as there seemed to be literally dozens of herons to observe.

Then the friend had a very amusing idea. On his honeymoon, the friend purchased dozens of postcards with pictures of herons on them. He addressed the entire stack of cards to Phillip, and left the cards with various B&B proprietors all over Europe. For many years, Phillip received these cards in the mail from dozens of toursists he had never met, all proclaiming, “Look, Phil, a heron!” and often a short greeting. It was a very classy prank.

And that, my friends, is The Heron Story.

Tuesday, April 11th 2006

Where the hell have I been?
posted @ 11:29 am in [ - ]

I was in the Berkeley/Oakland/San Francisco area for the weekend. We had a delightful time which included much fantasizing about working at Berkeley (are you listening, Berkeley? I’m interested…), enjoyment of nice, soft weather, and the ultimate tourist experience of almost getting creamed by a cable car. I had lots of great seafood, and I did so much walking, hiking and climbing that I feel like a very tired goat. Top 10 favorite Bay Area experiences this trip:

  1. Wine country is so damn close! If you go, have lunch at Mustard’s. You can even eat a rabbit, duck, or other hapless woodland animal.

  2. The sea lion colony at Pier 39 that won’t go away and cannot, by law, be molested in any way.

  3. The Oakland Museum, which features three small museums under one roof.

  4. Dim sum to die for, made by actual, authentic Chinese people from China who really know what they’re doing.

  5. Coconut bubble tea! Well worth being late to the airport for this side trip.

  6. The communist art inside Coit Tower.

  7. The breathtaking vistas of research institutes associated with Berkeley.

  8. The workout one gets just by trying to get around on foot (and/or by BART).

  9. Oh, the wireless networks to join!

  10. Waking up to another cool, lovely, green and quiet day in the Berkeley Hills. I could get used to that.

Thursday, April 6th 2006

Flying vs. invisibility
posted @ 11:27 am in [ ]

I heard a story on (I think) NPR a few weeks ago where people were asked if, given the choice between the two superhero powers, they would select flying or invisibility. I’d pick flying in a second, and I’ll tell you why: I’m not sure anything good would come from invisibility. I think it’s sort of deceptive in a way, and an excellent means to find out all kinds of stuff that you really would rather not know.

A good friend of mine roomed for a little while with a friend of hers from college, and one day, when she was alone in the apartment, she read her friend’s journal. She found out all kinds of unpleasant stuff about how her friend saw her, and found it rather crushing. I never read anyone else’s private journal unless explicitly requested to do so, for precisely that reason: I imagine there’s stuff in there that I just don’t want to know. One of my longtime roommates used to leave her journals not just out but open on places like the kitchen counter and the dining room table, and I avoided them like the plague. I think invisibility would invite that brand of unhappiness similar to learning ugly truths about how others see you.

Besides that, what else would one want to do with invisibility? Listen in on conversations? Molest objects of desire? I couldn’t think of anything invisibility would offer that wasn’t deceptive in some way. Flying, on the other hand, could come in mighty handy.

Which would you pick?

Wednesday, April 5th 2006

Thought police: student government precinct
posted @ 11:59 am in [ ]

Now, I’m not dissing student government. I served for many years on student governments, and was even President of the Graduate Student Association Council at D.U. for an unprecedented three years. I do think, though, that when one occasionally finds a leadership that takes itself a little bit too seriously, it can do a lot of unnecessary damage.

This article was sent to me by an alert reader (among other laudable things), in which a Mesa State student was thrown off student government because of a picture in which she was holding a red plastic cup with obscured contents. Apparently, some of her colleagues felt there were additional pictures that were a little more damaging (albeit not posted, as the evil red cup picture was, on the Internet), and that her documented behavior was reflecting badly on them and on her position.

First of all, my personal opinion is that that is taking one’s authority a bit too seriously. Second, the young lady’s position was presumably an elected one. It seems to me that if her behavior was so terribly negative and bothered her colleagues so, she would not have been elected in the first place. It’s a state college student government. Constituents like a gal who is not squeamish about body shots. Clearly, her behavior did not bother the population she served, which to my mind is the only other reason besides the conviction of a felony or gross incompetence to forcibly remove someone from service. But hey, I don’t have a monopoly on the truth. What do you think?

It also reminds me of an infraction I witnessed, and fought, a few years ago. A friend of mine posted a critique of The Vagina Monologues to a departmental listserv. He didn’t care for the production, wrote a rather scathing and entertaining critique, and expected some people to agree with him, some people not, and to be done with it. Instead, though, a lot of people got really upset. Most actually wanted him expelled, essentially for hurting their feelings. I thought that was pretty outrageous, and I said so. If they didn’t like what he was saying, why did they read the entire piece? Why not just delete it, or write a contrary review, or yell at him directly?

Now, to be fair to his critics, this was not the first time my friend had upset a whole herd of very earnest folks at a time. However, I firmly believe that he couldn’t imagine he would upset people so much. They tend to take him much more seriously than he takes himself.

What happened next, though, was unforgiveable in an academic setting. He was thrown off student government for it. I stood up for him because he was really taking a beating, and I don’t think verbal abuse and removal from unrelated volunteer activities is an appropriate response to a critique of a play, fa’ cryin’ out loud. What the hell ever happened to the free expression of ideas in an academic community? When I (more diplomatically than this) expressed my concern, though, the mob turned on me, too. I was generally derided and harshed on, and later accused of sending the student government president threats, which, let’s face it, is not remotely my style. It was even hinted at by an administrator that I would be expelled along with my friend, as if I were some sort of accessory-after-the-fact to a crime. Unbelievable.

Fortunately, some of the faculty were able to diffuse the situation. I had a flashback to when I was a kid and I used to get in fights on the playground all the time — mostly because of what some have called my “overdeveloped sense of justice.” The administrator who posted the critique on the listserv apologized for not having screened it better. My friend got a straighten-up-and-fly-right kind of warning. He now writes a blog where he derides religion, and yes, I link to it. I bet you can guess which one it is!

Anyway, in the face of all this thought police B.S., you’ll be glad to know I applied to the GoRun Colorado seminar in June. I’ll let you know what happens.

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