Highway Six Revisited

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Just got back from a Halloween party. We were pretty psyched that we managed to find the place. It definitely fit into my theory about Ole Miss professors. This place looked like a boarding school -- huge. I really think that cheap housing is the secret wage down here. I haven't been to a professor's house that hasn't been right out of Better Homes and Gardens or just big, big, big. This party was BYOB and I managed to off load most of a six pack of Harp. Still don't understand how the makers of Guiness could come up with such a skunky lager. Glad to be rid of it. Finally met the other graduate of Iowa. She was in costume as a member of the "spirit squad." Also noticed that she was drinking a bottle of Harp...A good party...One of my more charasmatic friends was went as Cardinal Sin. Most of the historians didn't manage to dress up at all. I noticed, however, that I had completely dressed in green. If I had been thinking more quickly I could have gone as the Green Lantern. I really need to get a costume for occasions such as this. On the way home -- not even out of the driveway -- we blew a tire. Felt good that I was able to figure out a VW jack while slightly intoxicated -- no worries wasn't driving. Got the tire back on and talked of former car disasters. This is when the great story about baby projectile vomiting in the backseat, followed by a flat tire, followed by key breaking off in hotel room lock comes out. Highly entertaining in retrospect and can't be beat, although stories of 360s on ice in the middle of a highway come close. Toes still numb. Thankfully we gain an hour tonight. Weee.

Just about every blog has commented on Scooter Libby's indictment. I will also give it a go. I think impetuous leader's response is telling. The press asked him to comment and he just plowed on. His most substantive comment: "I look forward to working with Congress on policies to keep this economy moving." What, exactly, does this have to do with the increasing evidence that this administration is the most corrupt since Warren G. Harding's. I think he does view himself merely as the CEO of America -- give Libby a golden parachute and let's move on to keeping the economy moving (I wish he would learn his up from down). The existence of impetuous leader is almost conclusive proof why holding an MBA should preclude one from ever being president of the United States. We do need a bit of moral guidance. We do need someone who can articulate some big ideas. Oh, well. I used to be convinced that the big plan of the current administration was to make Bush senior look good. This has been accomplished. My mom just got a pain in her chest. Can't even mention the name in her presence. I think, however, that I was wrong about the overall plan. Impetuous leader has a secret desire to rehabilitate the administration of Warren G. Harding. I kid you not. After Rove is indicted next week, and Bush nominates G. Gordon Liddy to be the next Supreme Court Justice, impetuous leader will be aiming at the Franklin Pierce administration. He'll really need to hit the bottle to make that one work, though. Sounds like it's time for another vacation. My final question: "How are the Democrats going to screw this one up?" The country is being led by felons and future felons, the economy is sinking fast, no end in sight to the folly in Iraq (There was never meant to be -- there will always be tourists...), global warming, big SUV's, dogs and cats living together...damn...even Gary Hart could win in 2008. And what about the president of Iran -- he's just gotta be working for us. I mean, thanks a bundle, that's gonna be worth several extra billion for the Pentagon this year and war planners can work some overtime. Maybe we can do a two-for-one on Syria and Iran. I used to think getting old was the pits, now I am thinking that I might not be old enough.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

True, I should have named my blog the “intermittent blogger” or “sometimes blogger.” I blogged in my head many times during the last month. When I tried to get some ideas down yesterday evening they came out rather disjointed and I realized that I was writing a bad editorial. Not really why I tried to take up the blog in the first place. Anyway, I was trying to discuss Detroit, Rosa Parks, the number 2,000, Rita Schwerner Bender, and the fact that “Impetuous Leader” is a husk of man, devoid of honor, empathy, imagination, and (to everyone’s peril) foresight. Well, since my blog strategy has changed drastically in the last several hours, you all can put these topics together in your own editorial – discuss amongst yourselves.

The new plan is to write everyday – yep, everyday – but not worry too much about coherence – weeeee, I’m free from the tyranny of logic and argument.

Today just seems to be one of those days. I have felt off-kilter and out of sorts since returning from Detroit at the end of last weekend. I had to get up way too early on numerous days and feel tired and like I am getting sick. I also miss wife and kid who met me in Detroit, but had to return back home while I returned back here. Today I woke up feeling particularly out of it, having battled an underlying headache for the last several days. I also had gone to civil rights lectures on subsequent evenings. Rita Schwerner Bender talked at the first lecture. She was quite impressive – soft-spoken with an intensity and calmness that causes people to listen. Her history was good and she pulled no punches. I first felt inspired and then over subsequent days I started to feel a bit useless. Sometimes I feel a bit mired in the project to teach Irish ducks Jivanese.

Then last night I went and saw Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who at age 26, won Roe v.Wade. She tried to talk about too much and ended up not doing anything particularly well. I realized that I have much experience with this. Today I was just wandering in a haze. Subconsciously my brain was desperately trying to convince me that it was Wednesday. I still haven’t figured out why and it’s bugging me. I was so convinced that it was Wednesday that I let my class out 25 minutes early firmly convinced that I was out of time and wondering why I hadn’t managed to get through all my material. I did, of course, comment that I would have to stop because I was just about out of time and not one student mentioned that we had 25 minutes of class left. They probably needed a break, too. Although I didn’t really need a break – class was going well.

After class I spent some time looking at the Iraq war casualty photos at the New York Times. I do this every once in a while to try to remind myself of something. I usually end up looking at the 37-year-olds and the 18-year-olds and the soldiers from Iowa. They all deserved better and we all deserve better. There is something that I need to do, that we need to do, I am just unsure about what it is. Can we wake up before more people die? Can we recognize that the war on terror is a diversion? Bread and circuses without the bread. There was something more I was going to write about how we need Eugene Debs, or Mother Jones. We are surrounded by people like Rita Schwerner Bender, but there is some foggy disconnect between what is truly right and good and just and wonderful and what exists now. Is that gap evil? Why do our leaders try to extend the disconnect? How can we close the gap?

Anyway, this is the new blog. Enough with the dogs. Although I might subject everyone to my post-apocalyptic, gnostic, gothic, moon base, sci-fi novel on the installment plan in random chapter order. Don’t worry; I’ll never have the time.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

This might be a procrastinating kind of evening. I woke up in the middle of the night this morning feeling like someone was trying to get at my brain with a hatchet. Now, I just feel kind of slow and tired. I realized that plans for serious work were being derailed as I listened to the 30 second previews of audio books in iTunes. I am always quite amazed at the number of books that people have written -- very often the same people writing the same book. Now, however, I am also amazed at the sheer number of audio books. Some, judging from a 30 second preview, quite good -- others not so much. I wonder if the 30 second preview will influence what gets published. I mean, if you can't grab someone with a 30 second snippet the book might just not be all that good. The previews in iTunes drop you down wherever. I listened to part of a fantastic introduction to Douglas Adams' last work and then I listened to roboman read the copyright notice for one of Dave Barry's books. Not as good, really. We had some hard rain here in the afternoon. I came outside expecting it to be cooler. No luck -- everything smelled like wet dog.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I realized a couple of weeks ago that I am just about the only resident of my apartment complex that does not have a big, scary dog. These are big dogs -- Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers -- who never really seem to have any inclination to listen to their owners. Now, I'm not against pets -- we have a hairy and very pointy cat at my permanent home -- but I do have a problem understanding big dogs. It doesn't appear that the owners are having all that much fun. Usually they are outside, yelling at a dog that is doing something it shouldn't: "Hey, get away from there, you're screwing up your diet munching on that kid." It's always shouting and barking and shouting. I get the impression that some dog owners believe, like many people do about non-English speakers, that increased volume will increase understanding. I really don't think this is the case and I am increasingly convinced that most dogs listen less than cats. Oh yes cats listen, they just feel that it is beneath them to be ordered about by a pink monkey with apposing thumbs. The big dogs around me just seem to be one step behind: "Huh, what?!" Anyway, I just don't get the appeal. I mean, some people own pets so that they can control and take care of another living thing that is dependent on them. It's probably not the best reason to own a pet, but it could add some meaning to one's life. I don't see the typical Rottweiler as being all that dependent, or cute however. The owner-pet bond of friendship, or whatever, also seems to be competely lacking. Obviously, if you fell in the shower, the Rottweiler would rummage the fridge for barbecue sauce before calling 911. I think one of the real ominous signs here is that in order for dogs to actually do anything, they have to be bribed with doggy treats. Maybe their bottom-line materialism makes them a reassuring pet for some. One other thing, there's no leash law down here, so some of these big guys are just roaming about, doing whatever wherever. Oh well, I need to try to remove some of this damn cat hair from my keyboard.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I got up this morning with the idea of getting lots of stuff done. Conference paper looming, lectures to write, bills to pay. Yes, bills to pay. So, I've got the bills all done as the coffee is brewing and, for the life of me, can not find one stamp in the entire apartment. I vaguely recall thinking that I would need stamps and even buying stamps, but they are not here. I can say that with supreme certainty because it takes very little time to survey the few items that litter my apartment. So, I say to myself, "Well, I'll just run out to the Post Office and then go by Wal-mart for a few necessaries and be back for breakfast." Realizing my tendencies toward getting misplaced while driving without a navigator, I decided to print out some directions and a map from Mapquest. Very clever. Showing good forsight. Yes, I'm middle-aged man now. The combination of "Knowing the general direction" and having a map with a critical error can be a rather frustrating experience. After about an hour of getting a more intimate knowledge of the county roads and the lay of the land, I realized that a crucial street had BEEN RENAMED. Why do these things happen? A ten-minute trip turned into a confidence deflating adventure, when all a wanted was a stamp. Anyway, I found the Post Office, mailed my bill and noted -- I mean, really noted -- the location of the Post Office for future reference. Then, it was off to Wal-mart. I hate Wal-mart. I won't bore you with my specific grievances, because I imagine that just about every blogger posts an entry on this subject at least once. Wal-mart on Saturday morning appears to be the social event. Despite gas selling for $2.99 a gallon, the roads were still choked and Wal-mart was still a zoo. What is it going to take? True, I was contributing to the congestion, but virtuous man did ride the bike into work the last several days. O. K. it was because he doesn't have the right stickers for the car and finally got busted by the parking police. Anyway, I finally escaped Wal-mart, got home, called the wife and kid, and ate some food. It was now 3 pm and I am wondering, "Where has the time gone?" Plans for breakfast turned into plans for lunch turned in a late afternoon snack of pasta and peanut sauce -- I eat lots of the stuff. After I finish this blog I am going to try a new treat that I saw in the freezer aisle of Wal-mart and could not resist: Rootbeer float creamsicle bar. Ice cream innovations like this should be rewarded. My Dad actually has this idea about technology. He feels and successfully argues that it is his duty, as an educated, interested, person to buy the latest technological gadgets so that companies will continue to innovate, push the bounds of science, etc, etc. I know, it sounds suspiciously like an excuse to justify large expenditures on cool gadgets, but the citizen scientist angle -- "It is our duty to buy tech, son!" -- is, you have to admit, inspired. I long ago lost the tech war with Dad. My camera is a paltry 2 MB, the computer is running at 867, and my cell phone does not toast bagels. Now, I really need to get something done. Stay tuned, though, because when I blog again I will be discussing dogs.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I was going to write an extensive and illuminating entry documenting the last week, but I notice that the New York Times has a slideshow feature about the crowning of the Minnesota Dairy Princess -- Princess Kay of the Milky Way -- and the carving of her head in butter -- "a 90 pound block of grade A salted" -- so why bother.

I am obtaining transportation vehicles at a rapid clip. When my colleagues found out that I would be walking into school, one offered me a bike and then, later in the week, I obtained a car. I am going to let it slip that I could use a helicopter and see what happens. The typical temperature here is still mid-90s with soupy humidity unlike anything I have ever experienced. I can probably get to school faster on the bike, because I don't have to figure out where to park, but it takes some time to dry. The car is nice, of course, because I can go grocery shopping. My goal is never to have to step foot into Wal-Mart again. I still don't know how they pass off their special golf ball tomato variety to consumers. I did manage to find some produce at Krogers that actually tasted like the vegetable or fruit they physically resembled. I also bought some bread after having run out early in the week. Bread down here probably deserves an entire entry.

Yesterday evening I hung out with colleagues at a local bar and found out that not everything is cheaper down here. It was nice to find they had Guiness on tap -- reminded me of graduate school days. It did, however, make me miss $1.25 pints at the Mill.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I have spent the day (so far) doing class prep, reading, lamenting the absence of my primary helpmeet, and putting off doing laundry. I have been reading (alternating with what I really have to do) the new Harry Potter novel and I am a little concerned. I am on page 236 and nothing much has happened. Now, I wouldn't be all that concerned if the book was 800 pages, because a rather like Rowling's leisurely Tom Brown's Schooldays meets Tolkien style that typifies the beginning of her books. However, I am a bit concerned that the story might end rather abruptly. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I had a Bartlett pear that I had purchased several days ago from Wal-Mart. This was before I found out that Wal-Mart was not, actually, the only game in town. Anyway, the pear was a bit on the crisp side, tending towards softball consistency. Considering, however, that I am now without a car, I am loathe to discard any even remotely edible fruits. O. K. here's the weird thing -- I got the slight, but unmistable taste of jelly-donut as an aftertaste after several bites of this pear. Anybody else ever experience anything like this after eating a very crisp Bartlett? Well, I'm off to try one of those tomatoes crossed with a fish.