Friday, March 31, 2006

Augh. Brain. Explode. What happened to March?

[Here's a llama, there's a llama....]

      >> 10:45 AM

[I'm a theoretical vegetarian.] This seems to be a statement I make frequently these days.

      >> 6:30 AM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

News of [student protestors] ditching school to demonstrate against immigration reforms in California. Hooray! See, young people aren't totally disaffected. But also what's exciting is to see the newspaper article note that this demonstration/walkout "appeared to be loosely organized, with students learning about them through mass e-mails, fliers, instant messages, cellphone calls and postings on myspace.com Web pages." Maybe the internets isn't just about pedophiles stalking innocent girls through myspace, eh?

      >> 11:34 AM

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ugh. Totallly conference-d out. And a bus-load of high school students just arrived at our hotel this evening. And are being loud on this floor. I already poked my head out of my room to find them hanging out in the hallway. I asked them not to linger loudly in the hallways. Still lots of doors opening and closing, knocking, and so on.

      >> 8:28 PM

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So I'm now at a hotel in Atlanta for the [Association for Asian American Studies conference] these next few days. Drove six-and-a-half hours from Durham with a friend. Long road trips yuck. But conversation was great. A brief list of things we saw and talked about:Also, at the hotel, I was hit on by an older white man in the elevator -- ack, the lonely man traveling on business!

      >> 10:09 PM

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

[A video] featuring scenes from Brokeback Mountain set to James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." I am in love with James Blunt.

      >> 10:48 AM

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I think once Giles got re-acclimated to the dog park scene, he's been less crazy there. The last few days, I've felt comfortable enough to lug along the book I'm reading for fun -- Shani Mootoo's He Drown She in the Sea -- to glance at when things are calmer. I still watch carefully when new dogs enter the park, though, because Giles is a greeter (insert Wal*Mart comment here) except sometimes his greetings involve snarling and snapping at the newcomer's face.

Dinner in a half hour at Rob's mom's. I think Rob's sister is in town from Maryland for vacation. Not quite sure because he's been totally passed out in bed despite having set his alarm for 3 this afternoon. After we return from dinner, I will have to face the sad fact that my spring break is over. :( At least I have tomorrow to ease back into classes since the only thing I have on tap is a classroom observation in the morning. It'll be good to get me out of bed early and back on a my teaching sleep schedule.

After the observation, I plan on doing my gym workout before coming home to spend time with the dog and write. If all goes as planned, too, I'll be sending off revisions of an essay I'm contributing to a book. I'm totally excited that my little forays into publishing are moving forward. One of these days, I might actually have a publication to list on my c.v.!

      >> 5:33 PM

Giles just had a bath. He was getting STIIIIIIINKY.

Post bath, Giles races around the apartment. (Click picture to see slightly-less-crazy dog in action. I didn't take out the camera until he was already partially settled down.)

And some pictures from this past week's frolics with the dog:

At a small park I just found this week.

At another park in town, near a friend's house.

The stream that runs through it.

      >> 4:51 PM

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ooo... [Musipedia] sounds awesome -- you can apparently hum or whistle a tune and the program will tell you what song it comes from. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the right Java version to run it. :(

      >> 5:10 PM

Spring break has been good for my health. I've been going to the gym almost every day. Working out has improved my posture, I think. The week before break, I was noticing how much I was hunched over both while sitting or standing. It was like my body was ready to cave in on itself, pleading for mercy. I've also been eating regularly every day (and not just candy!). And I've even gotten back to flossing my teeth! Darned gums! It's also been great to spend more quality time with the dog rather than just grudgingly running him around the apartment complex a few times a day for him to pee and poop. I think Giles has appreciated it. His craziness at the dog park has actually decreased markedly over the past week. Today, he was a very good doggy and only tortured one puppy who was sort of asking for it (someone must've written about sadomasochism among dogs somewhere....). He's still quite barky when he sees other dogs while we're out, though. I'm tempted to take him out this afternoon to read with me at a coffee place, but since it's so nice out, all outdoor seating will be crowded. Maybe we'll just go for a walk later. Besides, I think I should make a library run....

      >> 1:13 PM

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Generous Experiencer

I swear, everyone else's bars look prettier. I like how the farthest-right green bar notes that I am, "Slightly Functional." Ha!

      >> 5:31 PM

What kind of world do we live in? Today's headline news -- [Operation Swarmer: U.S., Iraqis launch raid on insurgent hotbed] and [Cox Arena evacuated before NCAA tournament tipoff]. At the gym, watching CNN on mute while on the elliptical trainer, I wondered if, in the mid-80s, while I was mostly unaware of things going on outside my immediate life of home and school, the state of the world seemed so dire. I wondered if Cold War tensions, possible nuclear warfare, or the presence of Third World leaders like [Qaddafi] (a name I somehow remember from elementary school -- possibly from another kid who was playing war games on the playground, pretending to take down this dictator) rang this kind of note of despair in the daily news.

      >> 1:51 PM

Mr. Frog, doing what he does best, hiding in shadows.

      >> 1:46 PM

Dreamy dog overseers.

I love sleeping in until I wake up "naturally," without an alarm clock. It is disturbing, however, that most of the time, waking up "naturally" means coming out of a disturbing dream. I don't know how recently this trend developed, but it's been going on for at least this past school year. Many of my dreams are, oddly, about (or starring) my family -- I don't have much everyday contact with them, and I think though I do not consciously miss them, I must somehow, somewhere be despairing over being so far from any of them. This morning, however, my dream was about, of all things, taking TESTS. Specifically, I mistakenly took or gave an undergraduate midterm exam, and then had to go take a strange, group graduate exam in a food court-type space. I swear, my dreams all seem to be about two or three days behind what my days are about.

I don't know if I've ever had a dream with Giles in it. I wonder if I am sad about that or just confused. Or, if I tend to have anxiety dreams, maybe that's a good thing -- I'm not anxious about stinky-bot! These past couple of days, doggy is being a total food hound. We'll be walking around the apartment complex, and all of a sudden I'll hear this "crunch crunch" cracker-chewing sound. And Giles will be walking along beside me contentedly eating something he's sniffed out. People who live or work here must be dropping bits of food more frequently now.

Speaking of the people who work here, these landscapers have been doing major work on retaining walls. The men who do the actual heavy machinery driving, digging, and other manual work are almost all Latino immigrant workers. The one man who watches over them is this older white man with a big mustache, a pot belly, and a cowboy hat. The way he stands watching, he's very silent and domineering. Sometimes, especially on cold days, he just sits in his massive white truck, engine running, looking out the window. I haven't seen him giving directions or talking to any of the workers. (On the other hand, there's one woman who shows up occasionally who does talk directly to the workers in Spanish.) He has this total overseer-at-a-plantation feel about him. I keep expecting him to take out a whip and start snapping it.

Breakfast this morning was a poached egg, cheddar cheese, soy bacon sandwich on an English muffin, courtesy of [this bachelor's pad appliance] (one of Rob's Christmas presents -- if you visit the linked site, you must play the "Build One Yourself" game -- very good). I also had half a Ruby Red grapefruit briefly broiled with sugar on top. Now it's off to get some coffee and do some morning reading with the dog.

      >> 8:47 AM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I hate getting my hair cut. I think a big part of it is that no one here knows the first thing about cutting my type of hair -- it sticks straight out of my head and is, in the words of my cousin, like a [Koosh ball]. I tend to frequent the cookie-cutter barber shops in strip malls because even when I've gone to salons and paid $35 for a haircut, I haven't been able to find anyone who can give me a decent haircut.

I got my hair cut today at one of these strip mall shops. And it was so cute because the woman cutting my hair was so enthralled by how my hair sticks straight out. She kept saying it was easy to cut because she didn't have to figure out how the hair was lying on my head. And she said it was fun to run her fingers through my hair. Unfortunately, she still did a lousy job -- my hair is lopsided and there are uneven patches all over. But at least I made someone happy today.

      >> 4:27 PM

Mmmmm. [Calpico.]

Heating up weeks-old leftover lentil loaf for lunch. I hope it's not going to kill me. Also microwaving some [veggie bacon]. Mmm. Baco-strips.

I was up until 1 am grading the easy half of the midterm exams (identifications). Still gotta tackle the short essay questions.

      >> 12:13 PM

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ok. After this post, I really must get up from my computer and out to the gym....

[Michael Bérubé] writes about anxiety dreams of teaching. In my nightmares, I am speaking to a classroom of students, and they just start leaving while I'm talking. It's an awful feeling. The worst part is, sometimes, I have this lingering feeling the dream is actually a memory of something that has happened....

      >> 12:43 PM

Giles flipped out as we were leaving the coffee place earlier today. We walked by a dog and he got into snarly, snappy mood. Sigh. He's definitely showing these dominant, aggressive behaviors. Now that I think about it, though he's totally excited to go to the dog park, he doesn't really play with other dogs so much as check them out (sniff and growl at them) and then wander around the park mostly by himself. :( He used to love running around with dogs and playing. Now he doesn't seem quite to know what to do with other dogs.

I got to spend a pleasant late-morning, unplanned, catching up with a friend. We talked about cats and dogs and contract negotiations and other things of our everyday lives. Before that, I swung by campus with crazy dog to pick up midterm exams from my office where they've been resting since last Thursday. I've pretended they don't exist for these first few days of spring break. Now it's time to get them graded. Giles got to say hello to most of the English department office staff. They are all doggy lovers; it's wonderful.

Today's work goals: Grade at least half of the 35 midterm exams. Finish a draft of next week's conference presentation paper. (Where's my dissertation in all this? Good question.)

      >> 12:14 PM

[Baby Pandas Play in the Snow! (video)]

      >> 6:56 AM

Monday, March 13, 2006

The other thing I hate about warm weather is being inundated with screaming little children. This morning I went out with Giles again for coffee and had to flee one of my favorite coffee places because it was literally overrun with little girls in their sun dresses, chasing each other around the outdoor seating area. Plus, the place was way too busy. I wish there were a really smoky cafe around town -- not that I'm a fan of smoke -- because then it would be a place devoid of children. I believe little kids should be kept in the house until they reach adulthood.

So my morning got off to a rocky start. I had to get a cup of atrocious coffee from another coffee shop. And then while I nursed the coffee at the local community park, also overrun with little kids, a young mother with her son hovered by me and Giles. Clearly, she wanted to bring her son over to say hi to my dog. But luckily my scowling didn't go unnoticed. Giles barked at a couple of passing dogs but otherwise was not too bad. We went for a walk on the trail afterwards. Giles growled at a few of the dogs we passed. I wish he would stop with the growling and aggressive behavior. It would kill me if he got so out of hand that he has to be put down. At least he's small-ish, making it less likely for other people and dogs to consider him a real threat. But really, he's quite a bully. And he doesn't really know how to play with dogs at the dog park anymore. He runs around and then growls and snaps at dogs when they chase him.

Today's work goal: Grade one set of papers (13 students) and draft at least four pages of my upcoming conference paper.

      >> 11:08 AM

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's frickin' hot out!

In all my infinite wisdom and mind prowess, I think I've figured out what's causing my fatigue -- a combination of my allergy medicine and alcohol! Drinky drinks always make me sleepy anyways, but usually after a night's rest, the effect wears off. But I think with the allergy meds, the effect lingers for a day. And since I had drinks both Thursday evening and Friday evening, it felt like forever. We'll see if avoiding the bottle helps. Today, I'm feeling less fatigue-y. Still a teensy bit off, though.

This morning I went out with the little furry one to get some coffee and read outside. The first two coffee places we tried were over-run by families and little kids. Very annoying. The third place we tried was thankfully kid-free. And we spent about forty-five minutes hanging out there. I started reading Shani Mootoo's [He Drown She in the Sea], her second novel. One woman came over to say hello to whiny Giles. I think strangers must think I beat him because he's always acting so put upon.

Then we went for a brief walk at [Cornwallis Road Park] where, apparently, there's a frisbee golf course.

      >> 11:08 AM

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm plagued by this fatigue. Again? I'm not sure if my allergy medicine is perhaps the cause. Or if it's just a result of my haphazard sleeping pattern over the last two weeks. But essentially this past day has been wholly unproductive as I have napped most of it away. Sigh.

Well, at least I can clean up a tiny bit before I head back to bed for the night. But first, cake!

      >> 11:00 PM

[Minnesota college bars gay couples from staying together on school trips.] Got this link from a friend today. Another friend who lives in St. Paul told me on my campus visit that this was an issue emerging in the past year. Very disturbing. It's one of those crazy things where the school is trying to shore up these ideas of "marriage" without explicitly saying that they are against gay people. But then they don't acknowledge that a trip policy saying gay couples can't say in a room together because they're unmarried is quite crazy when gay couples can't (easily) be married. These kinds of arguments are why I'm not totally against the gay marriage fanaticism of gay rights organizations today even if I think marriage as an institution and unit of social organization isn't the most useful thing to push.

      >> 5:58 PM

Friday, March 10, 2006

Yay! Made it to Spring Break! The first thing I'm going to do is play some piano. And then there's a friend's birthday party tonight. And then tomorrow I'm going to clean the apartment. And once things are tidied up, I'll start tackling all the work I have waiting!

      >> 5:03 PM

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Meh. It could be that I'm just totally jaded about everything, but [Gay Sex in the 70s] wasn't particularly interesting. Went to a screening of it this evening at school. The director and producer were there for a discussion after along with a panel of film and sexuality studies professors from surrounding universities. The documentary, in the words of the director, was about celebrating the sexual liberation of the 1970s, to recall a point at which homosexuality became destigmatized and sex was based in pleasure rather than circumscribed with disease and fear. All of this is great, of course. But it did totally make universalizing claims about gay male sexuality and sexual expression. One panelist's question really seemed thoughtful to me -- about how the film constructs the spaces of NYC -- the piers, the bathhouses, and so on -- in very nostalgic ways as places where everybody connected and had sex, but what about the ways those spaces also served to divide and differentiate populations? What differences get played up in bars on the Upper West Side as opposed to the Rambles in Central Park? But in responding, the director merely reiterated his sense that sex was pervasive and available to all. I also thought it very telling and odd that the director bookends the film with a black man, but the film otherwise is pretty staunchly centered on white gay men and the social circuits in which they fucked (even if those included some black bodies). And another panelist asked about the audience for the film because it's so odd that this documentary seems made exclusively for gay men, providing images for nostalgic rememberences (whether one was there or not), but it also seems to assume that the viewer knows nothing about this contemporary gay history. The director said that his sense is that young gay men, using an example of his friends, a 30-somethings couple, don't know that people felt that way about sex and about the history of Stonewall, bathhouses, HIV, and so on. And while that is probably true generally given the weird way gay people grow up in heteronormative family structures, it's also true that once someone is aware enough of being gay and self-possessed enough to go watch a documentary film in a theater or other public screening, he is already likely aware of these stories and narratives of gay male sexuality and HIV. So I think his friends must just be idiots. But the question of the film's audience really is quite an interesting one because it changes the meaning of this film that is ostensibly educational or a project to recover lost memory. Also, at one point, the director said, "You can take your queer theory and...." Whatev.

      >> 10:09 PM

      >> 4:12 PM

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chinese Hot Tea Urn

      >> 11:39 PM

[Academic AWOL]:
If you’ve ever been missing in action, you know that the longer you’ve been gone, the harder it becomes to work on that late project. What can you do to break the cycle of avoidance and delay?
Advice for the procrastinating, deadline-missing, delinquent academic in all of us.

(Link via [Bitch Ph.D.].)

      >> 7:28 AM

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What kind of scholar do I look like? So, today I went to this conference on the American South, right? And I walk up to the registration table with my friend who gives the older white woman at the table her name and gets her registration packet. Then it's my turn, and I give the woman my name. And she can't find my name on the list. So she's, like, are you sure you're here for this conference? And she points to the sign in front of her with the name of the conference. And I'm like, yes. And she's like, the pediatrics conference is over there, and she points to a hallway. And I'm like, umm, no, I'm here for the southerners conference, you know. And she's like still unconvinced that I had registered for the southern studies conference.

We eventually got things cleared up. They had removed my name from the registered participants list because I had pulled out from presenting at the conference. I had told the organizer of the conference that I was still going to attend the conference, though, and had paid the registration fee and gotten the receipt and everything.

I just found it odd how this woman seemed sure I was in the wrong place. And I had to tell her a few times that I was defintiely at the right registration table before she had someone else go upstairs to check the registration records. At no point did she say that perhaps I hadn't registered and that I should fill out the form at the table, as I imagine she might have responded to someone else....

      >> 5:08 PM

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

None of the descriptions of dyslexia seem appropriate for my difficulties with reading these past few months. When I look at a page of text these days, my eyes refuse to follow the words in sequential order. Maybe I'm just impatient, but my eyes wander, jump from line to line, back and forth. It's a curious sensation. It's also made reading very difficult, and I've mostly skimmed random bits of articles and books rather than read more carefully.

      >> 7:47 PM

[Critics say Greenies are unsafe for pets, even fatal]:
S&M NuTec, the Kansas City. Mo.-based manufacturer of Greenies, announced the plans yesterday during a news conference that company officials called to allay mounting concerns. Media reports and Internet postings about the product have described dogs becoming sick and undergoing surgery to remove chunks of the treat from the esophagus and digestive tract.
We stopped giving Giles Greenies after Rob heard from someone at work that they are dangerous. We never got any substantial explanations of WHY they are dangerous, but why take a chance when there are plenty of alternative chews, right? And now it appears there is much more publicity about the dangers of Greenies, enought for the company to make a press statement about the safety of their product.

      >> 4:56 PM


      >> 8:27 AM