Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I feel a little like blogging, but about what I am not yet sure. I seem to have finally hit some kind of grading stride where I’ve overcome my natural inclinations to procrastination and am getting a lot done. I am also doing “that which I am doing” at school, thus not bringing my work home with me. This is a good thing.

I don’t feel like I got much of a weekend as I took three students to the state Chess tournament in Jefferson City on Saturday. My coaching of Chess is gratis work that falls under the abstract heading “institutional service”. They are at least paying me mileage for the trip. Not from St. Louis though, just from the school.

Financing of clubs is an obnoxious part of how teams are set up in my institution. I deposit student funds from club dues into an account. Then, when we need something, I front the money and petition the district to reimburse me from the account that I supposedly manage. They don’t cut the check until after the board approves the deal at a monthly meeting – so I can get stuck fronting funds for the better part of a month. Last month that was eighty bucks. It could be more this month as we are ordering T-shirts. Ah well, tis the nature of bureaucracy and it behooves me to have an iron clad paper trail where student funds are concerned.

Some people just don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain:

I have two new potential job offers for next year. I’ve been contacted by administrators and encouraged to apply. I am in a difficult position in that I love my current job, but it is far from where I live and I am always exhausted. We are no longer entertaining the notion of moving there. Now it seems that there is work closer to home that pays significantly more, several thousand dollars, and yet I feel committed to where I already am and actually love my job – but what I love most is teaching and that is potable. There are no easy answers in this line of work, where a game of musical chairs plays out over your entire career.

The district courting me offers more money, a more challenging (and potentially violent) student population, a more strenuous teaching schedule, a less strenuous commute, and a host of other pros and cons made more tangible in that I have already worked for this district in the past and so I know what I would be getting myself into – they also know me so the offer is more likely in that they came to me. I suppose time and money are the bottom line factors. A higher wage with a reduced commute seems like a win win. It’s hard to say just yet which way the wind will blow and I won’t really have to decide until/if potential offers become real offers – say mid March.

I am going back to work at the puppy mill as well. I start teaching an Ethics class for them on the twelfth of March – Monday nights. I know the material like the back of my hand and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The class is really an introduction to philosophy class and I so rarely get to teach that stuff, I can do it mostly from memory with minimal preparation, that it will be more pleasure than obligation. They offered me a Composition class as well, but the grading load of a writing class is prohibitive.

I know, I am insane; I am also a man with many debts making a living wage for the first time in several years and thus I need to make the most of people willing to pay me.


Thursday, February 22, 2007


I have a lot going on right now, but at this exact moment I am too wiped out to make progress on my to-do list, so I think I’ll blog a little. I’ve noticed that some of you have been blogging more and I want to hold up my end of the sphere (implicit spatial problems of the end of a sphere intentional).

My curt post the other day about my cultish upbringing was a reaction to a strained conversation with my parents in which they outlined my duties as a Christian man – which I am by upbringing, but not by belief. In other words I can’t deny being culturally Lutheran as the result of my childhood, even if I philosophically think it’s mostly crap. I can still appreciate the reasoning while denying most of the premises from which the Jenga tower of Babel ascends.

This type of syncretism is common in Christianity as numerous Christians have been known to fight in wars and do other ridiculous things that are completely antithetical to the teachings of any quasi-historical Christ. Turning the other cheek obviously involves no gun powder, smart bombs, or other implements of destruction. Christ’s only real Old Testament “eye for an eye” reciprocity was the assurance that those who live by the sword will die by it. Stick that in your right wing warmongering and smoke it, you “just war” fallacy touting fatheads.

So, Lutherans are good with the guilt, better in some instances than Catholics, and I was mightily given the guilt for not knowing that it was Transfiguration Sunday. My father bemoaned that fact that Transfiguration is lost in the bustle from Christmas to Easter. He blames bad Latin grammar on the part of many clergy for reasons that I can’t fully articulate at the moment, other than to note that the Latin labels for the church year have an implicit “sixth Sunday after Pentecost” relational thing going for them. The Catholics solved the proximity problem of Transfiguration being lost in the shuffle by moving the celebration of Transfiguration to August. Luther was a bit of a throw back to those early church councils and so in his calendar he put it back to where it was “originally” and somewhat arbitrarily placed.

The celebration marks a trip up a mountain with James, John and Peter during which Elijah and Moses show up and Jesus sports a halo. God the Father makes an appearance in the form of an articulate weather event, saying either as or within a cloud, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased” and the triune nature of the divinity is thus linked with preceding prophecy: all in all a good day on Mount Tabor.

Instead of celebrating transfigurations past I was myself being transfixed by the transfiguring beauty of the orchid show at the botanical gardens. Transposing the transience of the bloom onto traditional transfiguration territory was entrancing and I must admit that it was show with which I was well pleased.

Baruch Spinoza argued that if there was a god that preceded the world then the only substance of which to make the world would necessarily be that same divinity. So the idea of going somewhere else, like a church or a mountaintop, to get in touch with divine essence is as preposterous as trying to find hope for life after in death in a death that preceded your life. However, if you accept the premise of a flawed creation marred by a fall from grace in a not very original sin, the substitutionary sacrifice of a perfect life has a certain kind of symmetry, if not logic to it. As I am one, I prefer meditations on the transitory bloom.

That’s the thing about Jenga, it’s fun to set up, but it makes a mess when it falls.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Sometimes I think I was raised in a cult - crazy Lutherans....


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I have another snow day and so I have been cleaning and going through the mail, trying to get rested up for my three day weekend (President’s Day). We received a good balance transfer offer from our credit union, so I called their eight hundred number to apply. We are working hard to get out of debt for houses and children to come. I was chatting pleasantly with the account specialist only to discover, when I gave my last name, that the specialist in question was Eric’s fiancée Meg. It’s a small world after all; it’s a small, small world. She had to transfer me to another specialist for propriety, but was amused at the coincidence.

It’s Valentines Day and I am off school for reasons of improper highway management practices, not that I mind. Apparently they tried a new chemical that didn’t work and had to resort to using good old fashioned salt. St. Louis only owns two snow plows, so driving can be hazardous. During actual snow events the local drivers attempt to dodge individual flakes. I grew up in North Wisconsin and the local snow panic down here has always perplexed me. The idea that three to five inches of snow can shut down a city is bizarre. You would have to get several feet of snow up north for a similar reaction.

I tried to give Jes breakfast in bed, but she was up by the time I got back from the store with the perfunctory bouquet. I made three egg omelets with grilled onions and Wisconsin sharp cheddar. As a side dish, I made apple slices sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and fresh ground cinnamon. I haven’t been cooking as much as I like to, so it was nice to fire up the stove.

It’s odd to have time off. It shows me what my life could look like if I had a different job, one that was less stressful or closer. We had friends over on Sunday. As I started to watch the Grammies with them I had to comment that I almost felt like a guest in my own apartment, I am here so little. Despite what it may sound like, it is not my intent to complain. I am simply asking myself if what I am doing is wise. If there is a better way to live, I haven’t found it yet, but it seems like there should be a way to have both vocation and vacation.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I am sitting here waiting to see if my school will cancel on account of the storm. I kind of doubt it, as we just have rain around here. Still, I could really use a snow day for mental health reasons. While I wait I shall do Beth’s Alphabet Soup Meme – for which I have been duly tagged.

Alphabet Soup meme

A- Available or Single? Neither – taken – married – off the market – happily removed from the shop window, paired, snared, taken to her lair, kept behind a stair.
B- Best Friend? In addition to my wife, I am blessed with many, many good friends and I deny hierarchy
C- Cake or Pie? Angel food cake or apple pie.
D- Drink of Choice? G-n-T – anti-malarial of the gods
E- Essential Item? Pony tail holder – have you ever seen my hair down?
F- Favorite Color? No idea – it used to be red, now it might be blue
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Worms, or sharks swimming in Jello – was that an option?
H- Hometown? Ah….Garoka, New Guinea -believe it or not-
I- Indulgence? Yes
J- January or February? Feb – salary workers bonus on the short month
K- Kids and names? Emily and Isabel – but they’re not here yet – don’t have a boys name on tap.
L- Life is incomplete without…? books
M- Marriage Date? September 23rd 2006
N- Number of Siblings? Five
O- Oranges or Apples? Apples – we have a small orchard at my folk’s place
P- Phobias/Fears? Heights make me a little uncomfortable, so I just pretend that they are widths and I’m fine.
Q- Favorite Quote? The one I just heard – “Stay home Karl, it’s a snow day.” (So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.)
R- Reasons to smile? I am loved many times over and lucky for it.
S- Season? Fall – I hate being too warm, not thrilled with the deep freeze – fall is just right.
T- Tag 3 people? Jen, Jes, Michelle
U- Unknown Fact About Me? I consider metempsychosis quite plausible
V- Vegetable You Hate? Canned anything
W- Worst Habit? I bite my fingernails when I drive
X- Xrays You’ve Had? As a kid – hundreds – bad lungs. As and adult – left wrist, right legs, lungs again, panoramic one of my head at the dentist – that was so cool.
Y- Your Favorite Foods? Deep fried chicken or cod, beets, Thai Curry, Guinness
Z- Zodiac? Gemini on the Taurus cusp – schizophrenic and stubborn (but I’m of two minds about that)


Monday, February 12, 2007

I suppose I should try and keep up appearances around here by blogging occasionally – so that when you check in monthly at least there is a little new material. I really haven’t had either much time or much energy to post of late. Teaching is extraordinarily hard and mentally taxing work.

Humorous story that I should blog about: the landlady debacle. Our landlady lives above us and she is something of a character. This January she decided to spend her settlement from a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Fen-Phen by getting new windows. We had to send our pets away and move a fish tank to accommodate the reconstruction.

This weekend we received a phone call from a panicked Kathy, that’s her name, because she had managed to lock herself out on the second floor balcony. Apparently the new balcony door, installed at the same time the windows were, has both a deadbolt and a lock in the handle – like many bathroom doors do. She went outside with the phone and closed the door behind her aware of the deadbolt, but unaware of the other lock.

I got on the phone and told her I could break into her apartment in a few minutes if she didn’t mind a little damage. We share the basement and have two separate doors into out apartments from the basement stairwell. These doors have simple sliding latch bolts and after a few shoulder hits and a kick or two I managed to bust her bolt. It was odd to me that the metal gave way before the wood did.

Afterward, Kathy was singing my praises as her rescuer, while my mother-in-law has now begun referring to me as “my son-in-law the cat burglar”. Kathy does have three cats, so I guess it applies, though I haven’t really burgled so much as startled them.