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September 2005
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November 2005

Daylight savings is STUPID

First, a thing I like. It looks like VH1 will be bringing back the great and hysterical Bands on the Run. I know! It made my day, too.

Second, I would like to again mention how much I hate, hate, hate daylight savings time. Not only does it screw up my internal clock, it really screws up the internal clocks of the children, which screw mine up even more. I have spend the last two days feeling like doom is about to visit us -- I'm especially dreading Trick or Treating tonight because of lingering feelings of unease. I know that this isn't because I'm psychic and there will be doom. Just that I'm so very tired and discombobulated because my clock has been messed with. Grrrrrr.

Third, please consider adding input to the book list.

Fourth, the Diva has started declaring everything "stupid." Like her special dress-up shoes, which dared trip her. She tossed them in the bathroom after their transgression. As she tossed, she said "These shoes are STUPID." I don't know how I feel about this new language. I mean, I have a tendency to call things stupid at times. It just feels so weird when it comes out of her mouth. Of course, I'm too tired to deal with it, so I suspect everything will be STUPID before long. Now there's something to look forward to.

further proof that I have a head full of useless knowledge

English Genius
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Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Tapping the collective mind

First, two knitting-related links: a cunning hat and a freakishly compelling anatomy exercise.

Second, the tapping-the-collective-mind bit:

Bear with me. The set-up will take a minute.

This "spring" term, which starts in January and should really be called the "deepest, darkest winter" term, I'm teaching Advanced College Writing at Hartwick. Yeah, I was surprised, too. Turns out they like me there. They really like me. Wacky.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what I'd actually teach. In some ways, it's a lot like the Composition class I already teach. I get to pick my own text and loose theme, then make them write until their fingers bleed. It's great fun, although the eight billion papers that I have to grade can start to wear me down, especially by the end of the term, when I realize that I'm simply just picking up their bad habits and not really helping them move past said bad habits. Or so it feels by the end of the term. When my head clears, I can see improvements, which is all anyone can ask for.

I digress.

The Advanced College Writing course, far as I can tell, is similar in structure. I pick the books and theme, then make them write until their fingers bleed. But in an advanced way, rather than a rudimentary way.

I've been at a loss for what book(s) to use. The anthology of non-fiction essays that I like for the Composition class -- the text is *75 Readings Plus* and contains essays by the likes of Sedaris and Lethem and Didion -- isn't quite challenging enough. Plus, if the truth be told, two consecutive semesters with the same essays might make me scream. But I couldn't come up with a theme for next term. Until this a.m. in the shower, when I was making a mental list of the books I'd like to make students read. Yes, this is what I do in the shower. Doesn't everyone?

The list was fairly short. I chucked out my favorite book ever, which is DFW's Infinite Jest (yes, I am that pretentious), simply because it would be too damn much to deal with. But after a few missteps -- like Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation and Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn -- I hit upon an idea. I've been meaning to re-read Slaughterhouse Five, which would be perfect for the class. This led me to thinking about doing something like Allegheny History Prof. Stephen Lyons used to do, which was to assign a book and a paper question per week, require x papers per term and see what happens. His classes, if I may be so bold, were some of the best I ever took. It's saying a lot. I'd wager that any Allegheny class could be among the best offered at any like college in the country.

I'm digressing again. Sorry.

My point:

I've started assembling a list of (mostly) books that I could use. I doubt that I can get through a book a week like Lyons did, but I would like to have at least ten different titles related to the theme I've stumbled upon (see if you can guess it) and that showcase a wide variety of approaches. They seem to be falling into nice pairs in terms of sub-themes, but I'm not married to that. Here's where I am so far:

-- Ian McEwan's Atonement
-- Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth

-- Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five
-- (movie) Kiss of the Spider Woman

-- Haldeman's Forever War
-- Heinlein's Starship Troopers
-- Swofford's Jarhead
-- Scalzi's Old Man's War

-- (movie) Serenity
-- (movie) Star Wars

I'd like to generate more titles, simply so that I can get a better idea of where to go with this. Most of this is a working outline deal. I have no idea how many will make the final cut, but would appreciate input from all and sundry.


Silly time waster

You scored 45 Mass, 26 Electronegativity, 66 Metal, and 10 Radioactivity!
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Cat Bib: a new way to piss off the Mooch. Heh.

Like any such project, the Time magazine list of top 100 all-time novels is subjective and pretty dang arbitrary. Still, it seems to have picked up a lot of the titles that I think should be on such a list. Except for all of that dang Nabokov. Lolita is one of the few books that I've started at least half a dozen times but never managed to finish. On the plus side, the list does include Snow Crash, Watchman and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, indicating that the assemblers can admit that books that aren't ever taught in ivy-covered halls still have some value.

Someone else sees the wonder that is the Amazing Race's Carissa Gaghan. And, if you watched last night's episode, you just have to love this observation: When DJ finally bungee jumped at the Fast Forward, I’d say he screamed like a little girl, except that’s sexist and insulting to Carissa, who’d never scream like that.

Finally, the best news I've heard this week. Steven Brust has written a Firefly novel. Now who do I have to bribe to make sure it gets published?

three months on


The Diva at 3 months.


The Dude at 3 months.

Note similarities: Big, punkin' heads. No hair. Big grins. But rest assured that they are night and day, personality-wise. It's trip, really, that the same basic genes can make such different kids.

The three-month mark holds true with this one, too. The Dude is settling in and seems genuinely pleased to be here. Gone is the cranky newborn who simply wants to return to the state of having every last thing provided. Now he's interested in the world. And sleeping more regularly, which may color my interpretation of how he is as a baby. A little of both, I suspect.

In other news,


Trout is freezing.

We did cave last week and turn the heat on. And just in time -- tonight's weather may include snow. Right now, it is alternating between cold, cold rain and sleet. Since I have today off (and just got back from my first yoga class in a year (I'd forgotten how wonderful it is, frankly)), my goal is to make pumpkin cake and Cinicinnati chili. Yum.

VCR alert

As further proof that all roads lead to Knoxville, my favorite baker/fiddle player of all time will be competing in the Food Network's Cupcake Challenge. If you have a second, flip through one of her galleries, like the wedding cakes and kid's cakes. What the pictures don't tell you is how mind-blowingly delicious Peg's cakes are. Every major event in my Knoxville life was celebrated with one of these cakes -- if I can find the pictures of it, the cake she "tossed together" for the Diva's shower was stunning -- and I still dream of snacking on one. With apologies to Jenny's mom, Peg's white frosting is so blessedly good that I still have fantasies of asking her to FedEx a batch to me so that I may smear it on every possible edible surface in my house.

And, yes, I've already set up my DVR.

again with the alpacas

I spent most of my childhood touring one historic site after another. This is not a bad thing. The only one that truly bored the bejeezus out of me was one involving trains. I was so unimpressed by it that I have forgotten its actual name. I only remember walking through a gravel yard filled with nothing but trains that didn't work. Woo.

The Diva's childhood will be an endless succession of fiber-bearing beasts, I suspect. Soon she'll be old enough to drag to Rhinebeck. Until then, there are always the local events, like Columbus Day's Southern Tier Alpaca Tour, wherein you can drive around Upstate New York and visit these wonderful beasts and those who love them.

And you can tell how thrilled the Diva is to be with me...

We only made it to HaSu this year. The weather was a factor, as was the fact that we were all wiped out from a week full of visits from various grandparents. HaSu is about ten minutes from our house, in the hills and up a narrow dirt road. You can see what I mean about the weather -- and this is the most pleasant it ever really got.


Hazen and Susan, former Brooklynites, have quite the spread and quite the herd. Both are personable and great resources. I always feel like I'm taking advantage of the breeders' time when I go to farms on the tour. I have no desire to own an alpaca (as much as I may joke about it because it makes the Hub turn all sorts of shades of red), but loooooove to knit with the fleece. My only compaint about the stops on the tour is that they don't have enough yarn to paw through. But that's not really what the tour is for.


I have yet to meet an alpaca breeder/owner who isn't proud of their animals. They also all seem to be the sort of folk you'd trust with deep dark secrets or large sums of cash. Not that I would, mind you.


Perhaps this is due to many, many hours around these funny-looking things, which seem to be part camel and part alien.


And, maybe, part emu.

Random Wednesday, now with crafts

The Hub and I are now the "proud" owners of a used minivan. "Proud" is in quotes simply to convey quasi-sarcasm. I mean, it's a minivan. While it's a cool Honda Odyssey-type minivan with doors that open at the touch of a button, it is still, fundamentally, a minivan, no matter how cool the commercial is. I'd be PROUD to announce that we now owned a snazzy sportscar or Cooper Mini. With the Honda, I'm just "proud." Still, it'll be nice to have room for the children and all of their crap.

On my next syllabus for the writing section I teach at Hartwick, I shall add a proviso about Touching Narratives. If the monkeys are going to turn in late papers, I might as well find some amusement in the inconvenience.

Basil the cat says Happy Fall. And, speaking of, The Hub and I are officially in a stand-off with the crisp evening air. Our goal is to not turn the heat on until Nov. 1, no matter how dang chilly it gets. We shall persevere, even if there is ice on the inside of the windows. We shall not be cowed into submission by frostbite.

And speaking of fall, two projects that I must complete in order to celebrate the season: a monster wreath and some knitted gourds. I don't think I'll get them done for this Fall, mind you, but they are now officially on the to-be-crafted list.

The next person who looks at me queerly when I mention that the Dude's name is Cormac will be directed here, which is the modern English transcription of Good King Cormac's instructions on life. My father will find irony in the fact that Good King Cormac's first set of instructions involve the ale-house.

Finally, I've long been of the opinion that parents should be more or less left alone when it comes to their choices. Your kid(s) is(are) your problem, not mine, as long as your choices aren't actively dangerous. Elimination Communication, which a good friend of mine used with her first born, is one of those types of choices. I find it odd, frankly, and horrifically time consuming, but it makes no difference to me what said good friend chooses to do with her kid. I'll have to find out what she thinks of this Slate piece about how EC is keeping the mommy down.