Sunday, October 30, 2005

This is just a quick note to let you all know I am still alive. I just got back from a weekend trip to Kansas City for Jason and Tiffany’s house warming party. I continue to be insanely busy and so haven’t been by most other blogs or had time to muse here. Beth and I went to KC. Jes had to teach a class on Sunday and so did not go with us.

Education is necessarily transformative and in that I am both educating and being educated I feel like comparing myself to a section of a museum that’s roped off for redevelopment. That’s a teaser for any longer musings that this chrysalis phase leads to. Hope you are well. All is good here.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Stolen from Jane Dark

theory slut
You are a Theory Slut. The true elite of the
postmodernists, you collect avant-garde
Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal
articles for breakfast. You positively live
for theory. It really doesn't matter what
kind, as long as the words are big and the
paragraph breaks few and far between.

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

It's true I am a theory Slut!!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

I had a few weeks at the end of my summer term where I was insanely busy. I had to make a schedule that included all aspects of my life. This entire term has gone that direction and only promises to get worse. I am scheduling everything including down time – “during this hour I will eat and watch an episode of The West Wing in order to clear my mind”.

I thought I might make a shift in my educational program, transferring to a different school. Thinking that now is akin to a kayaker in the shoot of the rapids thinking about hiking up a nearby mountain, as Mary told me, “You have to finish the game you are playing before you can start a new one”.

I’m just going to have to worry about that Ph.D. later because right now the focus is in surviving and enjoying what I am doing. I am enjoying myself, but my latent perfectionism is taking a few hits. I haven’t made time to keep up with grammar and so my A in that class has fallen to a B – yes I have become one of those people. I’ve maintained a four point in my subject area and the threat of B is an itch I can’t scratch at this point – ah well – one dent in the Kayak won’t kill me.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here’s a thing:

I taught today, full on teacher voice. Today, for the first time since I quit teaching at the community college back in December of 2001, it was my class. Today it was my lesson. Today they were my students. I work for an online teaching company, but I don’t really teach for them in the way that I did today in my internship. In my job I instruct, I advise, I tutor, and most of all I grade. I don’t give lectures, have discussions, interpret literature, make big intuitive leaps, build vocabulary, inspire connections and all those other wonderful things that I got to do today.

In the classes that I take I teach to my peers all the time. A professor from the summer is even having me back to do a guest lecture next week on the impact of the pre-Socratics on educational theory. It’s not the same. The preacher might practice in front of the choir, but that sermon is a dry run. Today was not a dry run. It was a small taste of that rare stuff, the stuff they keep behind the counter and only give to friends of bar on those infrequent rainy days when the only thing that will warm you is a short shot of the good stuff, today I had a shot of salvation. Who knows, maybe the house had a round.

Forgive the high handed rhetoric, I was teaching Thomas Paine.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blah, I am waiting for a class to start in a computer classroom here at UMSL. I am living in the land of burnout and trying not to just totally abandon all hope. I’m fine, but I’m also slightly on edge. I gave a half an hour presentation today on adolescent depression, self mutilation, and suicide. That’s always a good mid-semester pick me up.

Do you want to see the power point? I love power point. I got to put pictures of Angelina Jolie and Fiona Apple in my lecture to jazz up the slide on celebrity self-mutilation. I even used the razor blade pun that celebrity mutilation is double edged – it raises awareness while at the same time potentially popularizing self-harm. You can groan, but my peers will remember more of what they heard.

At home I’ve gotten most of the plants in. I’ve got one large monster that I have yet to pick an inside place for – not everybody fits in their old digs as some of my plants doubled in size over the sauna summer that was. I’ve mailed mom her 74th birthday present. Alan’s getting a builder Bob Duplo truck for his third birthday on the first. Ah well, the class is upon me. Later.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

It something I have to accept about myself that I have a tendency to do too much.

The Happy Ass show on Friday was great – there were some interpersonal wrinkles with a band member’s husband but I am going to gloss that as blog inappropriate. They really did a kick ass job in a venue that is still deciding what it’s going to be. I’ll write more about the show later, I’m in the mood now to simply list the insanity of yesterday’s adventures.

Saturday morning we took the motorcycle; all gloved and coated up for a cold ride. We met most of the band for breakfast at Kopperman’s Deli in the West End. After a little local shopping we said goodbye and zoomed over to Jes’ folks. We took their van to a rummage sale that a friend of Jes’ mom. In the odd universal kismet way that things tend to happen, this house turned out to be where I got the ice dolphin mold last year. So strange.

We hit a few more rummage sales and then went to a framer’s to get some recently purchased art and a few older pieces framed for the house. We did a group artistic consultation on frame choices and then went to a Chinese Seafood Dim Sum place that none of us had been to before located inside of an old movie theater on Olive. It was ok but I think Lu Lu’s is better.

Later, we took a little downtime after we got the bike back to my place, but then discovered that my nephew Taylor was in town and needed to get a copy of his boarding pass for his flight out tomorrow. We ran the pass, printed from my computer, out to South St. Charles and watched Constantine with them. Then Tyler called so we went down to his house and joined Adam, Sarah, Dan, Bree, and Tyler for a little poker.

Today is my Nephew Henry’s birthday so I am off now for gift and card. What do you get a one year old?


Friday, October 21, 2005

I was up at five yesterday. I did half a take home grammar test, wrote three short papers on observing students with I.E.P. reports (official documents that require classroom accommodation for learning or physical disabilities), wrote a film review of an MTV special on the dating habits of the disabled, went to my first class and handed the papers in where I saw good group presentations on hearing loss, bi-polar disorder and MS, finished the grammar test four minutes before it was due, went home and changed into a suit, met with several sets of parents regarding their students grades at the high school that I am interning at (all advanced students of course who are advanced in part because of obvious parental support), came home, ate dinner, fell into bed fully dressed.

I want to take today off as I have no official be-here responsibilities, but instead I will use it to catch up. I have three papers that have revisions due as soon as I can get them in and I still have a mountain of grading from my real world job. Tonight will be blow-off-some-steam with Happy Ass in town. I hope to see you (if in town) at the glass factory tonight. It should be a great time.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I’m waiting to take a test. I am all acronym-ed up and can tell you in detail about CALLA, KWL, KAU, LEA, PQR and many other fine abbreviations for the educational theory of the month club; this for my Teaching Reading Across the Curriculum class, a class in which the English teachers constitute the preached-to choir while the gym teachers sit in the back row and make fun us, just like high school.

There is enough caffeine in my system to kill a small rhino, which is good because after class I have a four hour take home final for my grammar class, 25 papers to grade for my job, and three page length journals to write for my Psychology of Diverse learners class (all of which needs to be done by nine a.m. tomorrow). Tomorrow night I have parent teacher conferences at my high school internship and on Friday I shall rest (until Happy Ass gets into town).

Saturday Six-Flags is a possibility and Sunday is my Nephew Henry’s first birthday. Monday I am back to my internship where I need to start taking over the classroom with my own lesson plans as early as Wednesday. So I am too busy to watch the game tonight, but maybe I’ll listen on the radio.


Monday, October 17, 2005

I am at the halfway point in my dance of sobriety: 4.5 months down and 4.5 months to go. I haven’t been perfect. I’ve had four glasses of wine, two real beers, and a sip of whatever Jason’s signature cocktail at his wedding was. Oh, I also had a sip of an amaretto sour at Karen’s wedding (by sip I do mean one sip).

I am actually permitted to have a real glass of wine or a beer now and again. I use that allowance to drink as much NA beer as I want. This may be derailing the weight loss benefit and perhaps I might give up this crutch for other reasons – why drink expensive water? Still, after you move couches, get home from a long day at work, whatever - it can be really nice to have a beer, loaded or not. It’s a psychological signal to your body that “fight or flight” time is over for now.

As far as the medication goes, monthly blood tests say my liver is fine. The memory loss side effect is still there. At times I can’t recall simple things like a person’s name I’ve known for years, I cover ok but it’s frustrating and I can feel like a stroke victim. Imagine having this side effect with an academic overload of graduate classes. I am coping ok.

The more common side effects, such as nausea and joint pain, are minimal so I haven’t had to change to the medication that turns you orange. I wouldn’t want to be orange for 4.5 months. I’d feel like I was trapped in a Gator Aid commercial. My nurse practitioner was telling me that the other stuff stains your clothing like rusty water; even your tears are orange.

My nurse practitioner is a trip. I have to schedule extra time to listen to his stories. He’s one of those people who like to talk to me about nothing in particular. I’ve heard long stories about bow hunting, river otters, pool parties with the O’Fallon police department, driving drunk, nursing school testing practices, prison healthcare, his marriage, his cousins, his education, his favorite authors, etc. He calls me “teach”. He delayed my last voyage to Wisconsin by a half an hour, but I feel it’s best to be on good terms with people who weigh, bleed and medicate you.


It’s hard to schedule break time. Your best bet is to work until you are fried and then give yourself a breather. I worked for a few hours yesterday and then took a break for a zoo visit with Jes. I live really close to the zoo and it is free, so concerns of cost and transit are essentially nil. We took her motorcycle so that eliminates parking concerns.

We saw an Orangutan eat pears, an old lion chew on his paw, and lots of Giraffes. We also reconnected with my friend Glen who is a keeper in the reptile house. I haven’t seen him in a few months. Schedules and finances are so tight that we made plans to go out for sushi in November.

I am also always one for the last minute BBQ. I have yet to learn that while this worked well in Kville, people in urban areas need more time to plan. Still, we did have Beth and Erica over last night for the Cardinal’s defeat, fresh herb and lemon salmon, and Cajun brats. One benefit of the weekend BBQ is that it gives you leftovers to live on through the early part of the week when cooking time is scarce. The downside is that brats for breakfast, lunch and dinner can get old.

I made my guests sit outside in the early evening chill last night after the game. That’s one more lesson that I need to learn, I prefer cold more than most people I know. The thing is that it’s gone from too hot to too cold without any middle temperate space. I need to get a fire pit. My neighbor, who works for the landlord, had floodlights installed in back this week. They are dusk to dawn lights. My patio set has Christmas lights in the seams of the umbrella. The new floods lights kill the ambiance affect and have no off switch. Ever the improviser, I climbed up her stoop and unscrewed the bulbs.

My boss is quitting at the job that I can’t discuss. It’s easy to see why. Let’s say that the mission of the institution is in flux. She’s actually transferring to a different department. She’s a fixer and now that she’s solved most of our problems she’s needed elsewhere. I was out there for a few hours on Saturday and I’ve got to be there again for a few hours tonight. It’s hard to justify how much time this thing takes when I think about my classes, and yet one has to eat. It’s also academic work so in a sense it informs my studies as much as it distracts from them. In discussing the nameless job I feel I can share these sorts of musings as they do not in any way reflect proprietary information.

I’m excited about this weekend. Friends of mine from the ville will be playing at Third Degree’s Third Friday event. I hope to see many of you there.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

What a weekend day looks like for the Bandito:

Sunday’s to do list

Grade 25 + on-line papers
Write up a journal for Donna on last week’s intern hours
Write internship reflection #1 based on curriculum interview Review questions for Review reflection #2 – write if you have enough information – write first draft – highlight questions to ask Kerrin on Monday
Revise teacher interview to include more of my own reflections and observations for Mrs. Malcolm.
Begin Grammar take-home final – due Thursday – possibly reread chapters 3-6 for Grammar
Review material that I will be tested over on Wednesday for teaching reading – this may involve rereading chapters 4-6
Read adolescent depression literature and write a power point using Mercedes’ and Sylvia’ s material
Contact your reading teacher about dates for review of the Asperger’s book
Check on dates in November for 3 journal reviews for that class
Did you delete the email from Chris with the MTV details in it? If not, write review
You need to write your disability interview paper.

You really need to figure out your observation hours for those two classes and get your participation grade under control – also participate in the online discussion boards.

You also need to buy those hanging folders so you can organize your paper life in a more functional way.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Place the seven metaphors in the blender for ten minutes on purée:

I get these lines that are modifications of sayings that just stick in my head; today’s is “burning your bridges at both ends”. I suppose that might mean an endless number of things dependant on context, for me today it means most simply that I’ve been drinking too much coffee. It also might mean that doing too much isn’t always just about doing too much. I had en ex, Melinda, who would carry seventeen hours a semester, work two jobs, act in or run-costumes for a play, try and make a relationship with me happen in the midst of that, and generally push herself until she imploded.

I had a dream last week in which I had a friend, not a friend in real life, but a friend in the dream. This friend told me that he taught at Truman so I started to tell him what we had in common and I realized that he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt with dragons on it. On my real shirt the dragons are swirling in a blue sky. His shirt was animated, the images were moving. While I was watching him, flying black stallions swooped down on the dragons and began to devour them. I’ve been trying to figure out that image all week. Why would my subconscious send flying black horses to eat the fleeing dragons off the shirt of a Truman professor?

The professor friend is easy enough. It’s a version of me. After all, he’s got my shirt on and my old job. The black horses are mythological, night-mares with flaming nostrils and Pegasus wings. Dragons are higher order snakes. They are powerful agents of reinvention. They are shedders of skin. Freud thought flying dreams were generally about sex. I think the flying is about really cool power animals flying. Wouldn’t it be cool to fly? My reaction to the dragon’s consumption in the dream was, “how cool is that!” So, they are not an image of woe, or impending doom, but rapid transformation. What does it mean to have a power animal, or many power animals, devouring power animals of a different breed? What does it mean to have the horse eat the dragon?

I did not have a childhood filled with horses, but I did read The Black Stallion and I had black horse toys, several of them. So the horse is me too, as everything can be you in your dream. I didn’t remember that until I started to analyze the dream. I also recall an after school special about a boy who nurses a black flying horse back to health. So these images are early childhood stuff for me. These are images I chose to identify with in that first transition from the young child at home to the young boy in school. The black flying horse was important to me when I was in the first grade, after I knew we were moving away from Milwaukee. In my games I was both the injured horse and the boy who saves him.

A few days ago I wrote a blog wondering where my “A” game was and then the shit hit the fan in my academic life, I have been burning the candle at both ends. My intellectual horses, that have mostly been at trot since I started back to graduate school, actually had to get up to a full on gallop. If you haven’t run in a while and you get up to speed, I have to tell you that it feels really good. When I asked where my “A” game was I was starting to fall behind. I am caught up now and no longer asleep at the wheel.

Just like black horses don’t seem on the surface to be a positive image, burning bridges often signal an unfortunate loss of connection that will obstruct future opportunity. We are told to consider, in our scorched-earth retreats, the delay of severed connections until the last possible chance of their utility is passed. This of course depends on what your bridges are connected to.

Do you know the etymology of the word “understanding”? It comes from bridge building. The understanding is that which stands- under the bridge to support it. Our use of the term for knowledge and cognition rests on the semantic implications of this metaphor (There are elements of recursive irony here, as your understanding of understanding is helped by an understanding of under-standing). Sometimes it’s good to burn bridges at both ends, when all your bridges fall down you may have the opportunity to build new understandings.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

I see Jes all the time, but she still tells me that she misses me. We had a few weeks where neither of us had work or anything else really going on. Now the distractions are endless.

I am in academic land, a place ten steps removed from the regular life of be-here-now. I just spent the last several hours diagramming sentences for transformational grammar. I love this class. Essentially we use Chomsky’s (who recently came in fourth in a BBC mock election for president of the world) rules for all grammar, as redeveloped by Richard Viet, to make giant Christmas trees of grammatical relationships using matrilineal family tree structure, so that every sentence has two daughters: a noun phrase and a verb phrase. Each of those daughters can have almost unlimited children, but the kids are all born in a certain order. There is great deal made of sisterly relationships.

At the same time, the kids can show up out of natural birth or generational order (mostly because adverbs like to move around, but other things do too), so you have to transform sentences to show the underlying meaning structure that conforms to the rules of Viet’s grammar. I love this stuff. I could do these little puzzles all day long and I will this weekend by doing a comprehensive take home midterm. It’s essentially using geometric proofs to explain outcomes, working back from the answer that is the grammatical sentence. It’s linguistic math.

A student asked the pointed question on Tuesday, “What is any of this stuff used for.” In point of fact it is a branch of the cognitive sciences and perhaps most notably the basis for all computer programming languages. So this word processing that I am doing now, and the blog I will post, all come after and utilize Chomsky’s grammar. Cool huh. And you didn’t think an English degree was good for anything.

Speaking of advanced degrees, there is this academic wisdom that one should always go for the next degree. I am currently working on a parallel degree. I am thinking about trying to transfer to SLU at semester to get my doctorate. I may also look into Wash U. Next semester I am supposed to pay astronomical sums of money to get twelve hours credit for teaching a semester of high school. Instead of getting paid for this work, I would be paying to do the work. This seems more than a little scam-ish to me. These hours would count towards a certification that I am less and less sure that I want.

There is a secondary scam that I am not brooking well, the creation of a portfolio. UMSL is requiring that the portfolio be done in Live Text. Live Text is not shareware and is a little more than a hundred dollars. Someone at UMSL must be related to the developer as there is no reason why all of us should be required to buy this software to compile our portfolios. This is just a petty fiefdom issue and not germane to the central question.

Question: Do you want to be done with college and enter into the workforce to teach high school? If you could do it today, would you? Answer: no. Q: Why? A: It is abundantly clear that an essential component of development in critical thinking, which is what I teach at a most basic level, is transgression. This was in fact the central tenant of my Master’s thesis. At the high school level one is beholden to state standards, district policies, and parental concerns that effectively straightjacket the educational process. One can do it, but just because a person can do a thing does not mean that they should do that thing. I am better served and I can be of better service by teaching at the college level. Everyone I interact with at the H.S. level asks me what I am doing there. I don’t fit.

I’ve loved these classes thus far. They’ve reclaimed my mind from the three year “professional” slumber that I had working at the H.A.C. I am a better teacher and person for having taken them. They are all graduate hours that for the most part can be fed into my overall Ph.D. hours. But who cares about the where the hours fit when all the knowledge fits in my head. I have to put job thinking in the trash. I am getting a Ph.D. because I can and because I want one. Job thinking will make you crazy.

My educational crucible has not yet begun to burn.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Here’s a dilemma for you. I love taking classes and writing papers. I love teaching and researching and stretching my mind and those of my students. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate grading. High school teaching involves lots of points, lots of innumerable little points, lots of them. What in the jhdgcvadgv ashgvsdfh am I doing? I got into this program because I knew I could. I got grants and they are paying my bills. I will have to pay them back. This is not charity.

In other insanity news I am thinking about quitting my job. It is nothing but grading and I have no control over the course design. I just grade. The students are mad at me right now for a course I did not design. I need to get empowered here. I am feeling on the defensive for things that are not my fault. Blah.

I am at school right now waiting for a class to start that is almost two hours away….. I am in a mood, don’t mind me.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I love EBSCOhost...


Monday, October 10, 2005

Ah group work. I am in a group of fine people who are presenting on a chapter Wednesday night. One person has never contacted us as a group and we don’t know if he is still enrolled in the class so I did the work assigned to him this morning, just in case. At our final meeting today only one other student besides me showed up and he hadn’t written his power point yet. He will email it to me tonight. I caught the train up here for this waste of time. GRRRRR. So, I need to contact the group member that I have an email for and write an introduction to the presentation to frame whatever the one other participant comes up with.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ruddy, bloody, study break: Well, the proverbial shit has hit the fan and I am at last forced to start working my ass off. You knew it would happen, didn’t you. I’ve been humming right along much of the term, but now, as the middle approaches, higher gears are required. I’ve been putting lots of energy into my job so I am caught up there and ready to take a productivity plunge.

I just transformed many pages of notes into an eight page journal of my internship thus far and I am in the middle of one of three power point presentations that I have to deliver this week. I shouldn’t have left the house all weekend, but I did, going to a BBQ and bonfire of sorts last night at Chris and Vanessa’s and having BBQ at Myra and David’s tonight.

The food from David was reward for helping to remove an old, dead air-conditioner and the moving of a good air-conditioner into the basement for storage. Jes had to vacuum me off after I emerged from taking the outer wall bolts off the casing unit. We left the ancient boat anchor of a cooling device in the alley in such a manner as to encourage its theft, or salvage, or however we’re thinking about dumpster driving (I do mean “driving” with big Sanford & Son salvage trucks) these days.

The Saturday BBQ was astoundingly extravagant for being planned so last minute and followed meeting Jes’ friends Ben and Tempe. I think Tempe should write for Blogging for Babies based on her current house full of children. Douglas, one of their twins, and I bonded. I even got him to sleep for awhile in the crux of my arm (or is that crutch? You have the crux of an argument. Do you have the crux of an arm?). I also met their seven year old boxer A-V (as in audio visual). He’s a very cute pup, slightly larger than my dog and moving a little faster as well.

Philosophy Joke: Ben has Being and Time in the backseat of his car, but then I guess we all do, don’t we (Heidegger humor)?

I am quite the user of parentheticals this evening. That reminds me of the Steven Wright stand up line, “If sometimes I’m talking and you can’t hear me, it’s because I’m in parenthesis.” So, writing monster blogs is obviously yet another form of procrastination that is masquerading as a useful study break and mental freshener.

That could be a meta- Halloween costume. Don’t wear a costume and then tell everyone you are dressed as “procrastination”. I went one year as man-with-pipe. I had a pipe. It’s the same idea. What are you doing for Halloween?

If you’re feeling fractured but still holding it together are you “staying a part” at the seams?

Right, back to work.


Friday, October 07, 2005

I have this desk that I am tinkering with. I think it’s oak, but it is old and dry, very brittle. It was Brad’s desk, but it kept falling apart on him and I took it home after we moved him a few months back. It was Cole’s at one point. Cole is a friend and instructor from TSU. When I teach British Literature I am teaching everything Cole taught me; his oxford education through the filter of my own midwestern one.

I took his British Lit class with a very bright girlfriend of mine: Melinda. Cole used to call us “the holy palmers” because neither of us could tolerate those uncomfortable silences when a mass of people tries to decide whether a difficult question was rhetorical or not. I got a B on an exam in that class that I am still pissed about, not at Cole but Melinda. She picked a fight with me at Country Kitchen the night before the exam such that I was fixing the relationship instead of reading one of the books we were to be tested over.

Eventually that relationship got as brittle as this desk, the legs gave out. She graduated a year before I could and wanted us to get married. When I said I wasn’t ready and had to finish school, she went to Japan to teach on the JET program for a year. We saw other people, angry letters, you know that score. She’s a married librarian now, living in Seattle, M.A. from Clemson, ten years since we’ve talked. I’d hazard that she knows where I am too. We still share some people.

Anyway, several years later in life my office was down the hall from Cole’s. It’s odd the way things turn like that and fold back in on themselves. Now that I think about it, I became an English major in part because of an early office mate of Cole’s, Nancy. Nancy Lovelace was my mythology teacher. She was one of very few instructors who were able to challenge me. I told her, after our first test, that the exam was mentally like popping the clutch in second gear on a cold engine. After that analogy she reappraised me, and praised me when I started to work at a higher level.

Nancy raised basset hounds and would freely admit that she thought that dogs were better than people. She was one of the Kennedy set, the idealists who joined that first wave of Peace Corps volunteers. I do well and I do poorly with idealists. They inspire me, but they can also clearly see the failures of my heart, my compromises. Most teachers want you to do your homework. Idealists want you to become something. Bob is still calling this phase of my life “the chrysalis period”. That’s a good question kids, will the pupa of this pupil ever pop?

To continue the insect imagery, the Cole’s desk is now on its back with legs pointed to the sky as I wait for all the wood glue with bracing to dry. It was designed to come apart for easy moves. When I get done with it, it will take a fire to move joist from joint; or at least a very swift kick. Lots of things could use swift kicks, couldn’t they? Myself included.


I was just reading Jen’s blog and she was talking about the autumn sleeping sickness. I have this in spades. I’ve had it for at least two weeks. I am asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. I’ve also been having odd dreams. I had two separate Mafia dreams last night in which I had to kill Danny Aiello. In the first dream I pulled his heart out with a corkscrew and in the second I just slit his throat. What in the hell does it mean that I killed a dream version of Danny Aiello twice last night in two almost completely different dreams (the death of Danny being the bridge)?

Kelsey Grammar put me up to it in the first one and in the second it had something to do with a government conspiracy. Yup, I am certifiable at times. Now that I think about it – my own blood pressure has been running high of late and the corkscrew in the heart seems like a pretty simple health warning. I am my own Danny Aiello, killing myself through unchecked hypertension.

I went to my blood doctor today and got the liver A OK. They check my blood monthly as I am having it dry cleaned. He says I am healthy on the liver front – the preventative medicine I am on – that I have five months left of – is hard on the liver so I am mega-dosing B-12 and must avoid alcohol and Tylenol. I’ve had a few sips of beer and wine along the way, but my last gin and tonic was in very early June. Gin how I miss thee, let me count the days.

I am allowed a full glass of either beer or wine from time to time, but why push it? I do drink N.A. beer to keep my bladder flexible. There is a new brand cooling down in the fridge that I just bought today at a German import store. Just to be clear on the medicine, it is not for something I have, but something that I was exposed to, to prevent me from ever developing it. People seem to get easily confused as regards health stuff. My sister went round the bend about it and had her whole family tested, better safe then sorry I guess.

In real life the tide pools just keep on swirling. The radio station that I was “on the advisory board” got sold and is off the air. Apparently my twenty bucks and pizza were a last ditch effort to save the station. I have to admit that I’d stopped listening to them months earlier as a result of their repetitious play list. I guess they couldn’t turn it around.

They are still streaming on the web, but I imagine many of the DJs got the axe. It was mostly digital anyway. The days of WKRP are long gone. When I did my tour I discovered that five entire radio stations were housed in a single hallway and everyone went home at six. Dr. Johnny Fever has been put on a nine to five, or rather a nine to nine forty five – they can do a whole shift of prerecorded cut ins in forty five minutes. Local talent need not apply.

My little grocery up the street, Mike’s place, closed. He said he’s been losing money at the rate of two thousand a month for over a year. You just can’t keep throwing good money away like that. An employee who shall remain nameless said, “This neighborhood’s gone to shit. Everybody is white and tight.” I’ll miss the staff there and being able to walk down for whatever ingredient I was missing, even if it was just a good anecdote.

I saw Dave, the meat counter guy, last night at a different grocery store. He just started at Straub’s in Clayton and likes it. He was worried when Mike decided to close that he wouldn’t find anything right away. So join me in a collective sigh wishing him well. If I was dumb enough to shop at an overpriced grocery like that I might drop in and say hi from time to time. Straub’s is where you shop if you’re under the misapprehension that price equals quality. If you just don’t trust a can of soup under three dollars, then Straub’s is for you (or if you want a good cut of meat that you’re willing to pay for from a guy like Dave, who really knows what he’s doing).

It looks like my part time gig is going to go full time in the new year, so that’s big good news – I’m branching out of the composition territory and teaching an ethics class. You see, that philosophy degree will get me a paycheck or two after all. It’s just odd that I’ve been getting this M.Ed. degree ostensibly to teach at the high school level and I may not be in that market for some time, if ever.

I’ve been feeling like the Ph.D. needs to come next. As long as I am on a roll with school and don’t have a family to support, it stands to reason that I should get as far as I can get. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking. This may sound crazy, but I think I’d like a doctorate in something related to my content area and in education. That’s right kids, two of them to go with my two M.A.’s and my double undergraduate (English and Philosophy). I am a Gemini after all. Each of the undergrad degrees is bifurcated as well. The English has a double focus in World Literature and Linguistics. The Philosophy degree is actually a Philosophy and Religion degree with emphasis in Eastern Religion and 20th Century Continental Philosophy. This is why I am so often out of work.

The thing is, if I ever hope to pay off my debts I am going to have to go into administration so I might as well start getting qualified for that too.

I read a review of my blog on a British web page during the last election cycle. They said my posts were too long, but occasionally worth the read. If you’re wondering about tonight’s long post, I am just killing time before I meet Jes up at the Tivoli for the 9:30 of Mirrormask – the new Neil Gaimen/Dave Mckean/Jim Henson productions film that is supposed to be the best remake of Alice in Wonderland since Labyrinth. I might blog about how it was tomorrow – give you the old Karlito review.

I went and saw The Aristocrats last night by myself. I laughed a fair amount, but it wasn’t as good as it had been hyped. It’s an hour plus of diarrhea spurting pustule jokes, so if you like that sort of thing then this film is for you. It’s sort of contest among comics as to who can tell both the longest and bluest version of the joke. Bob Saget wins, with Gilbert Gottfried coming in a close second.

I have a philosophical question I’d like to pose to myself: “Where is your A game Karl?”


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Was that Tom of Highland Farm fame who commented on my blog the other day? Hi Tom. Tom is Derek’s father, retired now from AT&T to run a farm. Old, you would enjoy Tom’s blog. “Old” is Jes’ father with a blog of his own. Old and Tom have both referenced Dylan in recent posts, so they should get along just fine.

I’ve been doing a great deal of wring for my classes of late and I have a great deal more to do in the immediate future, meaning today. I thought I might blog as a pallet cleanser before I get into my writing proper.

I had a huge cranium incident yesterday, I know how you like to read about those, I was trying to put on one of Jes’ T-shirts and my head was too big to fit through the designated head hole. It was a pink shirt so it would have clashed with my red hair anyway. I crowned, but ultimately had to go cesarean.

It turned cold today. I had to go back in the house for a coat and I am wishing I had taken the time to put on socks and other cold weather accoutrement. I was parked in the commuter lot at the train, listening to the NPR ten minute top of the hour news roundup, and I noticed that there was someone sleeping in the front seat of the car next to me. She, like me, was waiting for the library to open. It’s odd to overlap intent with strangers. It reminds you of the infinity of stories running parallel to your own. Einstein postulated that we will never meet; as truly parallel lines rarely do (you’d have to curve both space and time).

I’ve been fighting off my perpetual low grade depression by being of good cheer. For those of you who don’t have perpetual low grade depression, this may not make much sense. Consider it making the choice to feel good, or at least ok, about feeling bad.

I had this exercise in one of my classes the other day that borders on art therapy. The exercise was given by a retired drama teacher who wanted us all to explore the Hindu Rasas, or twenty something categories of emotive expression as explored in the Vedas. He was modeling using drama to enhance English instruction.

My little fortune cookie strip of paper had a Rasa on it that translates loosely as humor in the face of the macabre (imagine that). We were to draw the first image that exemplified this emotion so I, being the literary sot that I am, drew a picture of a naked Yossarian in a tree watching Snowden’s funeral. If you haven’t read catch-22 then that last bit won’t make any sense, but if you have and you’ve lived a little, perhaps you’ll agree that each of us has Snowdens stacked up behind the barn and if sitting naked in a tree helps a little with the absurdity of this human misadventure then by all means have yourself a chuckle and don’t give them anything to pin a medal on.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Do you ever bake bread for your dog? A few months ago MB gave me her bread machine right around the time I was trying the Atkins diet so it didn’t get much use. But now I have this Jes around who has her own bread machine and likes the smell of fresh baked bread in a house. I’ve managed to get the smell down, but not the bread. Actually I’ve only made two loaves recently. My few attempts early had turned out fine, but then I had some flour go buggy on me over the summer. Since then I’ve been keeping my flour in the fridge as a hive preventative.

The flour guys will tell you that your flour comes already stocked full of high protein critter eggs and they just need the right temperature and a little moisture to fulfill their generative potential and be born into a bleached bright bread basket of fertile soil. Anyway, keeping your flour in the fridge prevents the great hatching, or spawning, or whatever it is flour bugs do. It also prevents your flour from rising properly, because the yeast, just like the weevils or whatever the little black winged bastards are, don’t like the cold. Weevils gobble, but they don’t like cold.

As David, Jes’ stepfather said recently, “Cooking is an art, but baking is chemistry.” So my first loaf of French bread came out like pound cake. I did not intend to feed it to the dog, but I did leave the room, so fair’s fair. I was not upset to see that it had disappeared. I was a little upset to sit down in a sea of crumbs on the couch sometime later. But I accept a little rebellion from the canine now and again, after all he is a eunuch trapped in a house much of the day destined only to bark at the passing pedestrians, so why not seal a little bread.

Not one to take defeat at the periodic table of a little chemistry, I made a second loaf. I’d like to tell you how it was, but apparently the dog learned that I don’t get upset when he steals a loaf of bread – he’s seen Les Miserables and knows I’m a social liberal– so he got this last one on the morning of the baking.

Actually, the story is more humorous as I couldn’t get the loaf to drop from the bread machine pan so I began to try to pry it lose with a turkey carving fork. This did not work. It did, however, aerate the bread into an interesting Swiss cheese like formation. I sliced off three slices and offered them to Jes, who declined. When I came back in the room a few hours later the stale Swiss slices remained in their still life symmetry, but the loaf proper had gone the way of the dodo bird: extinction.

This is an informed assumption as there were no crumbs to indicate culpability. The usual suspects include: me, twenty seven fish, a cat and a dog. They are not flying fish or walking fish, the cat is smaller then the loaf in question, and it wasn’t me, so that leaves the repeat offender. What should I bake him next? The first two were French bread.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Here’s a fun meme taken from Kat

Karl is cute, and he knows how to shoot
Karl is ordering french fries
Karl is visited at work and we see him make eye contact for the first time
Karl is an answer in search of a few thousand questions
Karl is king. He will never kneel before you.
Karl is a prolific researcher and writer.
Karl is, at heart, a philosopher.
Karl is known for talking trash on the golf course
Karl is on his way back
KARL is the supreme master of the universe and beyond Petition

Directions: Type “(your name) is” (with the quotes) into a Google search; cut-and-paste the first 10 responses that work. Just pull the answers right out of the excerpt Google shows you, don’t click the link and search around. The only rule is that each one has to start with “(your name) is.”


Monday, October 03, 2005

I guess I’m not going to make it to another Cards game this year. I did go at the start of the season, so here is a long day’s journey into night post with pictures courtesy of Kat from my last visit to Busch Stadium with a beer salute from Vanessa.

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Just at a cursory glance Harriet Miers seems far from qualified. Obviously my swing runs to the left, but how can anyone who has never served as a judge be appointed to the highest court in the land?


Sunday, October 02, 2005

So Bizarre: I have a psychic girlfriend. She was making beads today at the afore mentioned festival, to display what one can learn at the glass studio. She made me a small bead size replica of the fish who had died today because she felt like I needed a fish. However, I had not told her that my fish had died. The glass fish she made me is slightly smaller than the deceased, but it has the exact same colors. She got a message from the infinite to make me a fish on the passing of my fish: strange.


I had a fish die today. He was a Tiger barb and they are sort of like background characters in my tanks. I have many of them. The last of the old guard three-year-old barbs died months ago, so I suspect that this corpse, with his eyes eaten out, was a victim of homicide (nurture or its lack) rather than nature. MB, Sebastian and I did a funeral at sea, but the dog was only really there for the whistling of Taps. I said a few words about the good fish, that he was a good fish as these things go, and then we commended his spirit to the great beneath; rather, the grate beneath the house.

It sometimes astounds me how much I can do in a weekend. It might exhaust me to tell you all of it. I helped my sister Vicky move out to St. Charles on Friday by taking a load of stuff to Kat’s charity, a load of stuff plus Vicky’s two dogs and their kennels to the new house, and I also (you’re going to love this) steam cleaned all her carpets in her three story condo. Once you tell people that you were a custodian and know how to work all the heavy equipment then they tend to impose, especially family. This is fine because I kept the equipment on her dime and steam cleaned all my carpets on Saturday.

Friday night I went to October Fest in St. Charles with Chris, Vanessa, and Beth. We watched several bands and ate cheap fabulous food. I had a huge, perfect brat with kraut and all the fixings for two dollars. They had fun drinking Schlafley beer while I had fun watching the eighties cover band, the German Polka band, and one of my favorite jam bands: Madahoochie. If you’ve been reading awhile you’ll remember that I used to go see them frequently on Monday nights at Cicero’s after bowling was over. I also ate a few bites of a funnel cake, a deep fried Snickers bar and a deep fried Twinkie. The Snickers bar was not that exciting, funnel cake is always good, but the Twinkie was orgasmic.

Saturday I cleaned everything, but I had to start by fixing the vacuum cleaner; which had eaten a belt (its own belt, not one of mine). I vacuumed all the carpets, worked at my online job for a few hours, did school work, steam cleaned all the rugs, rode Jes’ bike down to where she was working a booth at Taste of St. Louis and had lunch, took a nap, washed and waxed Jes' bike for her, returned the rented steam cleaner, met up with Kat and gave her a motorcycle ride down to the same festival, where Jes was putting in a fourteen hour day. While we were down there Aaron Neville started playing a free concert, you just have to love all the free music in St. Louis.

Today I went to the climbing gym and took a class in all the safety aspects of my new hobby. I learned how to belay properly, which is to hold the end of your rope while you climb and to catch you when you fall. I learned how to tie all kinds of cool knots and I got a workout by climbing several walls. I tried one that was way too hard for me and I fell like Icarus grasping at the sun or like a guy on a wall in a gym. Eric loaned me some rope to practice my knots on and I pity the next trailer that I have to tie off. Actually I pity whoever has to untie it.

After climbing, I took Eric up to the fair where Jes was again working and then went home to watch a few episodes of The West Wing. I went down on Jes’s bike in the late afternoon and we took a long trip out to St. Charles to see how Vicky was settling in. I took Jes back to the festival and I have been working at my online job for several hours now. Tomorrow will be all the school work I was avoiding with my many adventures.

Things I don’t have words for yet: the smell of the food at the festival, the bike roaring over the Missouri River on the Page Expansion bridge, when the bloom stays on the rose.