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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I had a phone appraisal on the ignition. Do I continue to drive with a screw driver for a key or to I cough up the $250 for the new ignition switch?


I have to admit that I am feeling a little creepy today for more than financial reasons. I cleaned out my car and found the thief’s MP3 player, a book of matches and a Busta-Rhymes mixed tape. I’ve got them all in a zip lock bag for the police. I think nothing much was stolen from the van because the thief still considered the whole thing his. He had changed the presets on the radio, not just one of them, but four of them.


I know more than I care to about my thief. I know what music he likes. I know from the matchbook that he banks at The Bank of Edwardsville. I am beginning to think that the van wasn’t found abandoned, it was just found.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

The cops called at 6:20 tonight to say they’d found my car. It was abandoned in the rear of 2050 Lafayette – you can map quest it if you’re curious. That’s about five miles from where we live. It is on both the edge of the projects and on the edge of the Mardi Gras party. It’s quite possible that kids stole the van to ride it down to Mardi Gras Friday night. Why wait for a bus when you can steal a car. There is still a half of a tank of gas. The radio station was set to 100.3. They backed it into a wall and bent the tailpipe. That is the only damage I can find other than the ignition, which they did a number on.

At first I thought I was going to have to get it towed, but then the officer explained that I could probably just do the same thing they did if I had a big enough screwdriver. My key is now a big screwdriver.

They fingerprinted the van and asked me what was missing. I had a car wallet on the visor with a blank computer disk and a receipt for Sebastian’s last rabies vaccination – essentially nothing. My briefcase and tools were still in the trunk. All my student’s papers are still there. I sometimes keep a checkbook in the glove box and there wasn’t one there. I honestly don’t know if it was stolen, but I spent two and a half hours today closing my account and opening a new one. So hopefully that is a dead issue.

We went straight to Auto Zone and bought a club. Now we are ordering a pizza and I am dizzy with relief. Thank you all so much for your well wishing. I’d invite you all over, but I know you no longer trust my neighborhood.

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When Jes was little she used to live in a big house in Soulard. This is what the house looked like over Mardi Gras.

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The house has since been split into two condos. The Bacardi people were using the back half as a staging area, but the owner, George, was also there with some of his friends. At first George thought we were putting him on, but then Jes convinced him via her knowledge of the architecture and we were then given a tour. In the basement we pilfered some Bacardi Mardi Gras shirts (“Are you pilfering our shirts?” “Yes, can we?” “Sure” “Thanks”) and then we went around front for another tour from the owner of the front half. He let us up on the roof.

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We also ran into Becky C’s brother Will at this party. So odd what a small town this is. My only other picture worth posting (most of them are out of focus) is of the start of the drag race over at Clementine’s. The queen in the pink wig won it:

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There were lots of naked people, but I’m sorry to say I didn’t photograph any of them. We were also too cold to stick around for the midget KISS cover band (which upon reflection may have been a mistake to miss).

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I don’t feel good. It’s five in the morning and I am up. I set the alarm so early because I have a ton of online grading to do. The system crashed last night (not mine, theirs) so that has left me behind a bit. I also have to decide if I am going to work. I don’t think that I am, as I need to go to the bank and other high priority tasks.


Jes has been great this weekend, helping me to keep focused on silver linings. We had planned to go to Mardi Gras on Saturday and despite the car theft we went anyway and had a great time, we even had some friends over for breakfast, because you just have to get on with things when life sends in the curve balls. The current plan is to give the police two weeks to find the car and then we start looking to buy one. Plans make you feel in control when of course you aren’t.


I talked to my dad last night and felt bad having to tell him. I had obviously put it off for a few days. He’s just sick about it. In our family there is this odd connection to cars. I might as well have told him someone chopped off my arm. I have the dubious distinction of being the first family member in the entire extended chain (which is not a small group of people) to have their car stolen. I am the prodigal deadbeat, the one who just can’t seem to get it together despite talent and intelligence. I am the source of much late life worry. It makes me ill to worry them. I am more than willing to sell out, but no one is buying what I have to sell.


So anyway, I had just put a large amount of money, around twelve hundred dollars, into new tires and other repairs. I can live with kids joyriding till they run out of gas, what makes me really sick is the thought of my van up on blocks somewhere with my new tires being taken off to put on the same model and make car that is owned by the thieves. This is what my father thinks has happened to it.
When I called the police to check on it yesterday I ended the call by saying something like, “I’m not sure how this works. Should I keep checking back in every few days?” The officer said, “We’ll call you unless you find it first, in which case you can call us and we’ll take it off the list.” There’s a not so subtle implication there that I am going to have just as much luck finding it as they are. Part of my plan is actually to go search the local school parking lots today. I am told that the kids do drive their newly stolen cars to school.


I live in a high crime area with a poorly funded police force. The majority of crimes are property crimes. I don’t know how to feel about this. I don’t like the thought of living anywhere where this sort of crime is common. I admire the rebirth that the city is experiencing, honestly it is so much better than it was, but I don’t have the personal means to subsidize the reconstruction through the theft of my property. Part of me wants out ASAP. “But Karl, then they win.” “Yup, they win – good for them, I’m not interested in playing by these rules thanks.”


The thing is there really is no out. Crime is everywhere. It’s just a question of whether or not you are the one that gets hit. Back in the ville the meth trade and the poverty resulted in all kinds of crime and even murder. It’s the same here, just on a bigger scale. Despite that, I really am thinking much more seriously about the rural districts.


I haven’t done my taxes yet, but as a full time student I didn’t make much money in the past year. I earned well less than fifteen thousand dollars total. How do you live on that? You take out massive student loans. If you figure that I had maybe three thousand invested in the car with only liability insurance (because who would steam my car) then I am out a significant and irreplaceable chunk of my overall net worth for the year. Ah well, I need to shower and get back in the game coach. I’ll keep you posted on how the inning goes.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Are your friends on Friendster? Some of mine are. More of my friends are on My Space. I have accounts for each of these sights primarily so I can view my friend’s blogs. Only subscribers can view them. If you are in one of these systems feel free to add me as a friend if you can find me. Obviously I am primarily on blogger and many of my friends are also on similar style services like Bloghorn (which Tempe’s husband Ben actually runs). I feel like the subscriber service blogs are a little out of control. I don’t need three blogs. I don’t need one blog for that matter, it’s just an odd and professionally dangerous hobby that is just part of this cultural moment.

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I can’t type on Jes’ laptop. The cursor keeps jumping around and driving me crazy. Theoretically I could turn the cursor off, but as I don’t know how to do that at the moment, so it’s just easier to switch machines.

No news on the car theft front. Kid-joyriding is apparently really common. I’ve talked to several friends who’ve had their cars stolen in the last year and all of them have had their cars found relatively undamaged within a two week window of the theft. That’s what I am looking at – sometime within the next two weeks. The exception would be a friend whose car was involved in several accidents, urinated in and then torched. Let’s not go there.

As you probably know I am very into hospitality and the thought that one of my guest’s cars could be stolen or vandalized is making me a little crazy. I almost feel like investing in a set of guest clubs for people who occasionally stay with us. I’m going to have to say folks; the airport garage is probably safer than our neighborhood.

Crime was one of my concerns when we moved here from U-city. I said first that I didn’t want to leave the little grocery store up the street and the apartment that I loved. But the grocery up the street closed and it took Katie many gallons of Kills to deal with the cigarette smoke in the once loved apartment. Our new place smelled of smoke until we got rid of a few fabric pieces of furniture. I have trouble with my blood pressure and living there was like smoking a few packs a day. My numbers are gradually dropping as I detoxify from the haze.

So I didn’t want to move to the city for the above reasons (that and I have a lot of crap so moving it was a pain), but also because I was worried about crime. I was convinced by several people that I didn’t have a car worth stealing, but just in case Jes and I worked out that I would park in back and she would park on the street. It turns out that the street is the safer bet with more human traffic. It’s not like they stole it in the middle of the night. They took it in the early evening.

If you’re thinking that it’s just a car and he’ll be fine, you’re right. Immediate problems are that I only carry liability insurance. It’s all I’ve ever carried on any vehicle I’ve owned as I’ve never owned a vehicle that blue booked at over twelve hundred, so what’s the point in all that extra coverage (LIKE THEAFT PROTECTION!!!). Anyway, please summon up your Tinker-Bell-Lives mojo and use your collective psychic powers to will that my car is found soon and in good condition. As Schopenhauer said, the world is nothing but will and representation. I need you all to represent for me and will a good outcome to this story.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

The hidden cost of city living:

So…. I’m in shock. I just went out back to hop in the van and go rent a movie. No VAN!!! My car was stolen at some point between five and eight. The police just left. I asked him my odds of getting the car back and he said, “Well, considering a ten year old could steal it with a screw driver I figure it was kids out joy riding. If you’re lucky they just drive it till they run out of gas.” He then showed me a page and a half of single space small print and said, “These are all the cars stolen from this area in the last seven days.” There’s no broken glass where it was. My brief case is in it with my academic life in it, all my planning for the semester, all my text books. I should have bought one of those clubs. I figured it was safe IN MY FUCKING DRIVEWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mardi Gras?

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I used to be a night owl. For most of my life I did my best work in the early hours of the day. This is still true, only now I have to get to those early hours from the opposite direction. Instead of staying up late, I am in bed before ten and then up between four and five. I keep making plans to grade at night after a full day of teaching and running life errands. Obviously this sort of planning does not end with a mind clear enough for fair grading. This is my preferred rationalization for putting grading off until the morning – if I am not clear headed how can I be a fair evaluator? Like all good rationalizations there is a shred of truth there.

Problems with my current lifestyle tend to be of the relationship variety in that I am often asleep before Jes gets home and I am gone by the time she wakes up.

Attention span break:

So this weekend is the big Mardi Gras. I have a month left on my no-drunk meds so there will be no big bender for me this year. I hear they are cracking down on public urination anyway, it’s a five hundred dollar fine or up to a year in jail depending how grievous your excreting is. I imagine the trespassing piss will have the highest price tag. And there is the bell to start my day – later.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

I’m going to have to start calling this blog “weekends only” because it seems like the only time I have is on the weekend. I need down time and this schedule is driving me a little insane. When I am not working I am grading. I need to get through a huge stack of papers tonight. I’m going to make a big pot of tea and force my way through. Jes is off at the UMSL speaker series with her dad. I think it’s the guy who found the Titanic speaking tonight. I passed on dinner so I could grade. Short attention span theater continues apace.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

All hail Amy!!!! (SPOOK) The manufacturer of this fabulous new template has once again designed a stylish splash page to stun the stumbling surfer into inquisitive verbal detritus digestion. Intergalactic monkey musing with the world as all we shall purvey. The Japanese Monkey Car fireworks logo reminds all who view it that we are not the ones who put the brake in branchiate.

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Ah, the dog parade. The kick off to the St. Louis Mardi Gras. Despite the cold we went anyway.
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Father Time, Mary and Champaign in high costume for this “fez – tive” occasion.
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The Beggin Strips Poster Dog sans a bit of head (these palms are hard to photograph with)

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My vote for best float!
Image hosting by Photobucket The crowd was 8,000 dogs strong according to the morning paper (plus owners).
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As we walked the route many were heard to say, “Look at the little shriner dog!! That dog has a fez on!!” Next year we are going to get all the French dogs together, fez them, and walk the route in figure eights.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

So what… I am sitting here on the couch, on the laptop, wondering what I am going to do with my day. I’ve just been surfing around the web and watching animal planet shows on the TV. I have a four-day weekend and I have lots of grading and life stuff to do, but a man needs time off as well. I have a lot to ruminate on. Jes is out being interviewed by her high school newspaper – they are doing a story on her as a person who has given a great deal back to her community – that’s cool isn’t it.

Yesterday I went to a job fair for teachers and had some interesting experiences. It was quite a meat market and depressingly crowded. I waited in long longs to glad hand the indifferent recruiters – most of whom simply encouraged online application. My big plan was that there was a greater demand for high school teachers than college teachers, but it is definitely still an employer’s market. I guess I shouldn’t talk about any specifics but I got about six good leads on jobs for the fall. Two of them, the best two, are not in St. Louis. They are in surrounding communities. We are talking about the pros and cons of moving out to the country. We could get a few acres and have horses. Jes knows how to train English style. She wants Clydesdales. We can afford that, right?

Everything would be a great deal cheaper in the country. I was reminded of that during our last visit to the ville where eating out and groceries were close to half of what we are accustomed to paying. We would actually be closer to my ville friends if I got the better of these two jobs. We would be further away from our St. Louis friends and family, but not outrageously so (think wineries). I like city living. I like country living. Either is really fine.

I don’t like the idea of another move in the same year that we get married, but this apartment is a little small.

Short attention span theater: Vicki likes weather reports and today’s sucks. It is currently five degrees out, but with wind chill it feels like negative thirteen. I had been planning on going to the dog parade tomorrow as part of the Mardi Gras kick off festivities, but if it is still this cold I think I’ll have to pass. I can’t decide. It starts at ten so we could do a breakfast here at eight thirty/nine and then all go over together. We were also thinking about having poker sometime this weekend. BJ is in town for his mom’s birthday, so it kind of depends on their schedule whether or not a game happens. Anyway, whatever I am going to do I need to get on with it. Let me know if you all are still thinking dog parade.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I went climbing tonight with Eric and I’m getting slightly better. I had been climbing using any hold I could get and tonight I did routes for the first time, where you ascend a wall using only the holds with a particular color tape by them. I went right up a red tape route with a level six difficulty, whatever that means. I don’t think it works like the earthquake scale. The route was appropriately called “New Guy”.

My new harness got a little use as I fell off the wall a few times and it worked both perfectly and comfortably. Did I tell you I bought a bunch of climbing equipment when my student loans came in? I also bought a year pass to the climbing gym. They have a one day a year half price sale, so it was a little under two hundred for the membership, which is insanely cheap for a year at a climbing gym considering that you can easily spend forty on a day pass with related rentals. I also got some really nice equipment at a big REI sale. I am now an REI member. What is happening to me?

If you figure in the money I spent on the safety class and the full price climbs last year then I am a few hundred into this new hobby/sport/whatever. I still need to buy climbing shoes that are sized to me as the rental ones remind me of Chinese foot binding. I feel good about it, investing in my health and all. I can’t ever seen to exercise when there is no goal involved and getting up a wall seems as rational a goal as anything else in the fitness world. More so, when you consider the potential of needing to climb out of a canyon that your plane has crashed in while you are pursued by a grizzly bear. Yeah.

I know a couple of people who work at the gym so it’s a little odd to be at a new place and still feel so familiar. Karen’s (who I went to graduate school with in the nineties) younger brother Allen designed several of the routes that I’ve been climbing and his girlfriend Brandy works there as well. They’ve invited Jes and I to go camping and climbing on real rocks with them some weekend when my skills are a little better. I went to college with Brandy and actually knew her independently of Allen, who I still think of as being in high school.

Have you all watched my poetry movie? It took me a few hours to learn how to post video and get the credits in etc. Please comment if you liked it and maybe I’ll do more clips. Video Blogger suggested that driving to work is a popular video blog. I go by the St. Louis Arch everyday at dawn so that could be a fun clip. I like my new commute; there are several cathedrals and a good swath of the Mississippi River.

I said to Jes the other day, “People don’t comment as much as they used to.” She sagely replied, “No one comments anymore on anyone’s blog. I think that’s kind of over.” Here I am on the back end of tend once again. Well, in the words of Sebastian (not my dog), fight the nothing with all your might. I suppose it would make more sense if I quoted Falcore.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

A few weeks ago Jes and I delved into the world of growing orchids. We got two orchids – Phalaenopsis Amabilis – (long life) – which has a white blossom with yellow hints in the interior and Phalaenopsis Schilleriana B#10 – which has a mixed purple and white blossom and a leopard spotted interior. They are both native to the Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea. Our tags say Java on them so I guess that solves that riddle.

The word on the street is that new “enthusiasts” kill their orchids by over watering them, so we are resisting the temptation. They do seem to like the humidity level in the bathroom. They like their water in mist form. These are low light plants I’ve recently learned – so the front room where they were may have had too much light.

We went to the orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Gardens this afternoon. It was overcast so the colors didn’t pop in the greenhouse like I remembered from previous shows. Still, everything was just as vaginal as I had recalled. Yes – I typed “vaginal”. Orchids just seem to scream vagina to me and I don’t think I’m alone on that front. This always makes the orchid show extra odd because they always add a theme.

A few years back the theme was the native women of Gauguin’s Tahiti – and that made sense. There were all these cardboard cut outs made from computer scans of the paintings – or maybe they were wooden and actually painted by an interpretive artist. Anyway, the theme was kinky, but it worked. I guess the subtext was “exploitation of all things tropical”.

This year’s theme is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The vague mixture of organic sexuality and children’s literature is just too Lewis Carroll. If you figure in all the photographers descending on the tableaus I think you’ve got a pretty loud echo of neurotic Victorian soft core. That’s the problem with us cultural studies folk, you can’t take us anywhere.

If it’s any consolation to putting you through those “readings” of the orchid show, we joined the garden at a family rate so that when our friends come to visit we can get everyone in for free. We were even thinking about getting married in the Japanese Garden, but the destination wedding is still on the table. Do you want to go to Jamaica for Thanksgiving?

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When Kat first saw this she said, "I guess you had to be there." Maybe that's true - have a few beers and then watch our movie. Bob and I wrote and performed this poem last weekend for Arnie and Alana's Groundhog party. Jen filmed it on my Palm Pilot.

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Test: Can you go here and see my movie?

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Did I tell you about my new bar toy?

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Brad’s sister got this in the divorce and wanted it gone.

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Note the refrigeration – small fridge in the lower left half – booze in the right

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I got this two or three weeks ago, but you haven’t been by since then so I thought I’d post it for you.

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Breakfast Steak:

Jes is sleeping in after last night’s benefit for the Glass Arts Society Conference – which is coming up in June. I bartended the event and am a little worn out from that, rock climbing with Fuzzy yesterday afternoon, and my week in general, but I was only able to sleep in until seven or so.

Jes eats not from the mammal branch of the great tree of being so it’s mostly chicken and fish on the protein front. When I went out for coffee beans this a.m. I decided to treat myself to a thinly sliced breakfast steak, confident that the French toast we have planned will not happen until much later in the day. After the climbing and the bar work I want to mega dose protein to build muscle right? Who are my health scholars? Scholars? Hello?

We had Mark in last night from the ville and also Jen was briefly here – Jes has been driving Jen’s van this week while Jen was leading a writing workshop in North Carolina. Mark is on his way to a musicology conference in Baton Rouge so by tonight he will be well into the heart of Cajun country, dancing to Zydeco.

He got a chance to meet some of the St. Louis tribe last night and mingle at the Glass Factory for what was essentially billed as a single’s event – oddly there were about three times as many women there as men – not generally the case at these sorts of events. Anyway, we live a little farther from the airport than we used to, but are still running a good staging ground for the national transit of our kville friends.

The event last night was cosponsored by St. Louis Magazine and Range Rover and there were two professional photographers shooting – they caught me doing bar tricks so it’ll be interesting to see if I’ve cocktailed myself into another issue of the magazine.

Back when I was at the HAC St. Louis Magazine ran a spread on alternative health practices and the article featured a shot of me getting bent backward in a Shiatsu stretch with Mary L kneeling on my ass and pulling me into a modified Cobra.

I had a girl recognize me from the spread when I was standing in line at a PetSmart – one’s fifteen minutes of fame can have odd consequence. It’s a good shot that has become one of their stock photos, so I’ve seen myself crop up from time to time in articles on massage and related topics.

I guess I am by nature fairly social and the world can be a small place so I wasn’t surprised to find quite a few people I know from varied contexts buying drinks from me. (I ran into a guy name Kelly at the grocery store this a.m. that I used to work with a few years ago.)

At the event there was a girl from a yoga workshop who was shocked to see me serving the dreaded alcohol, a woman I know as the ex of an old friend, a few current and former coworkers, and also a guy I was friends with during undergrad – Josh – who has been by the blog and maybe reading this right now (hi Josh).

Josh is just back from several years living in Latin America and has interesting stories to tell about working in the online gambling industry of Venezuela. More on that as we know more. I’ve been feeling like kicking up the level of wandering narrative around here – I used to spin a good blog yarn when I was more prone to the drunken wander.

I just had to put Ajax, the cat who has doubled in size since we got him, out of the room. Cats apparently love laptops. I am actually writing this over our wireless network, which is kinda fun. I like feeling all high tech. Jes’ mom bought David a laptop for Christmas and it came with a wireless router that they didn’t need so we got the re-gifted hook up. I am watching Best In Show out of the corner of my eye while I type this and sitting on the couch drinking coffee.

I have much grading to do for both the online classes and the high school kids. Then there is the Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Gardens – I think we’re doing that tomorrow with Myra and David (Jes’ mother and stepfather). Ah well, more later…

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

My dad turned seventy four on Tuesday last. I called and he thought I was my brother Phil for awhile – this is not a sign of senility or hearing loss – we actually all (four brothers) are hard to tell apart on the phone. I think Andy and I sound most alike in vocal quality, but he has the California surfer-dude-great-vowel-shift post Colorado accent now. Kris has gone long A and O (oh Yaaaa?) in the Milwaukee and Chicago flight school fly you up to the U.P. for some Silver Rail Beer kind of way (and so). His THs have also been replaced by a prominent D, which leaves Phil and I sounding most alike with our Latinate vocabularies strewn through with academic pretensions.

I am having a full day. I was up at four since I slept so much yesterday – I dreamt of Vikings that I went to visit in “the Northern most city on Earth”. I got to the Vikings through a tunnel that started in Texas: very strange.

After a day of teaching today – during which I was asked if teeth are made of porcelain and whether sexually transmitted diseases are called venereal or malarial diseases – I now have an evening class from four until six followed by a meeting at my online teaching facility. I doubt I’ll be done there until after nine and then tomorrow is the 3rd degree party that I am bartending plus I need to get Jen from the airport and I am putting Mark up for the night. Zoinks Scooby – I is doin too much.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I haven’t paid my sleep debt from the weekend yet. I am up most days at five and Saturday night/Sunday morning I stayed up until five, so I am completely wrecked really. I hit the snooze until six today and really best get on my way. But I am so sleepy that I just feel creepy.

I got caught in a freak traffic Jam yesterday. I saw the traffic building and so I started to work my way over to get off at Southwest Ave. I wasn’t able to get over in time to make the exit and so I figured I’d get off at the next one, Shrewsbury. I took forty-five minutes to get to the next exit, just a few miles up. I am never taking 44 to work again.

Ok kids, that’s all the anecdotes I have time for. Be well.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

I’ve just time to write a short note before I jet off to school. Jes, Mary and I had a great weekend in the ville. It was nice to catch up with that circle of friends and participate in some performance art – more about that later.

Bob and I have started a tradition of writing a poem in the style of one of the Beat writers and then presenting it at the Groundhog party. This year we wrote a poem in the style of Gregory Corso and it was very well received. Jen took video on my palm pilot so my question for you is: how do I post digital video on my blog?

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Supertramp – “Had an early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn…” I am up before the dawn everyday – I watch the sun rise under The Arch on my drive into work. Today is James Joyce’s birthday for those of you into literary trivia. My ADD is out of control.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Adobe acrobat keeps crashing my system. It took me several hours tonight to uninstall it and get the new version (it wouldn’t just update – I had to pull it out by the roots and plant a new one). I’m a little afraid to touch anything as I seem to have that breaking things vibe happening for me right now.

I keep having lousy conversations about my career. The job market for those with a Ph.D. in English is shitty. If your academic record isn’t perfect, and mine isn’t, you really aren’t in the running for the better jobs – and even if I got one of those jobs I’d have to spend the next few years fighting hard to keep it. My current experience is teaching me that the high schools aren’t broken – the culture is. The fights, the indifference, the gangs, the drop out rate, the teen pregnancy (I have several pregnant fifteen and sixteen year old students), are all systemic and more than can be overcome without a radical intervention – just imagine what America could be like if one fiftieth of the money spent on wars in the last few years could have been diverted to education. I’m having some doubts about fighting this uphill battle.