31 October 2007

Happy Birthday Grandma

Today is my grandmother's 80th Birthday. Azile Allen is still pretty spry for 80. She's accomplished a lot -- working at General Electric for over 30 years, a union organizer and secretary, raising two daughters and having a pretty big hand in raising four grandchildren, and lots of stuff I no doubt don't know about.

We were at a birthday dinner in her honor on Saturday in Conway. Like I said there, my grandmother embodies so much of what it means to be a good person -- hard working, patient, kind, smart, insightful, a person of deep faith who is never overbearing, and appropriately reserved. One of the things I admire is her timing. She doesn't talk just to hear herself speak and does not step into things unless she knows she's needed and it's important for her to do so.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! We love you!

30 October 2007

Sports and Writing

Since the World Series, I've been reading a lot of espn.com at lunch, digesting and, let's face it, reliving the Sox win a bit. The Sports Guy has a really nice piece about watching the end of the series with his daughter.

I also discovered that Chuck Klosterman writes a monthly column for ESPN. Who knew? I particularly enjoyed this one about the NBA; Klosterman is a good writer.

That column made me think of an interesting question: We regard college basketball as a "purer" version of the sport than the NBA. College football and the NFL are a bit of a wash. Both are popular, but seem almost like different sports. But it's professional baseball we regard as the true strain of that sport, with almost no regard for college ball at all. Why is that?

29 October 2007

World Series Thoughts

I am at work, bleary eyed a bit from watching TV until 12:30 AM. I've been doing that for two weeks, watching the Red Sox come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Indians and then clobber the Rockies. Here are some random thoughts about it all:

-- I will admit to not being horribly upset that the Indians were up 3-1. I root for the Sox. I thought they could come back. After all, my Green Pillow and I hung on every out for the 2004 comeback against the Yankees. And, deep down, there was a tiny part of me that thought it would be cool to be in a city where the World Series was happening, since I was going to Cleveland on the 25th. I did go to Cleveland and was just as happy to see it kinda bummed out. I watched game 2 from a bar in downtown Cleveland, but when it wasn't on for the pre-game, I was nervous about asking them to change the channel.

-- The Sox had two cancer survivors start in the Series and both were great. Lester got lots of attention, but I didn't know until today that MVP Mike Lowell fought off testicular cancer in 1999. The fact that these two guys could fight off cancer and come back and win the WS is pretty inspirational.

-- Shilling wants one more year, and I hope his very impressive post-season gets him one. It's just one more year, but I'll understand if management does not think he can hold up for another entire season.

-- One of the great things about baseball is how one swing can erase almost everything. Yes, I am looking at you, J.D. Drew.

-- Papelbon scares me, more than a little.

-- In 2004, we had the Roberts' Steal that turned it around. For 2007, I nominate the Drew Grand Slam. Or, if you are into smaller events, Manny throwing Lofton out.

-- What kind of asses are Boras and A-Rod? They make their big announcement for not coming back to the Yankees in the early innings of Game 4. That just reeks of no-class. Even Cashman, et al waited until the series was over before announcing Girardi as manager.

-- Please, for the love of all that is holy, don't let the Sox sign A-Rod. Please. (I don't think they will, since he clearly, clearly, sucks in the post-season and the Sox are built for post-season success).

-- We put Eleanor down to bed at her usual time, but she was pretty restless, getting up at 11:00 to eat. Even after that, she didn't really want to go back to sleep. My awesome wife got out of bed to try and calm her down so I could watch the end of the game. That didn't work, so after the game was over I went in and rocked Eleanor back to sleep. Personally, I think she was nervous about the outcome of the series and would not calm down until she knew the Sox had won. We did, after all, watch their opening game in Fenway this year when Eleanor was one day old. Our little fan. . .

17 October 2007

Back from the 'ville

Sarah, Eleanor, and I made it back from our Fall Break trip last night at about 9:00. Although we left Charlottesville about 2:00, it took a little longer than normal. A normal stop for gas turned out much longer than expected when we discovered Eleanor's diaper had "failed containment", so we had to do some changing and cleaning. Then, we were stopped in traffic on I-77 north of Charlotte after we had eaten dinner. I bailed on the interstate and took some back roads that took us through Davidson and Cornelius, bypassed the traffic, then got back on 77.

Aside from some grumpiness caused by being up so late on Friday night (we didn't get to Richmond until 11:00), Eleanor did great and garnered us lots of compliments.

We stayed at our friends Chuck and Kellie's Friday and Saturday night, visiting with them and their two daughters. They fed us well and we had a good time just hanging out. On our way out of town Sunday we spent some time with Kurt, Kristen, and their two kids. Sunday night in Charlottesville Rich and Laura fed us along with Matt and his new girlfriend (who was very nice). Monday we had Bodo's and I spent some time at UVA visiting with my advisor. Sarah had put together a gathering at Amigo's with some ACAC folks, which proved amusing due to a very congenial host. It looks like Amigo's has some new ownership and they are working hard to impress. Tuesday was more Bodo's, more visiting (we spent some time at Rob and Laura's Migration gallery), then the aforementioned trip home.

As always, it was a whirlwind and I don't feel like we spent enough time with anyone, but it was fun. We certainly miss C'ville, mainly for all the wonderful people we got to know during our time there.

12 October 2007

Friday and off!!

Haning out with Eleanor on a Friday morning while Sarah puts some time in at Cupps. Feels like a Friday for random things, so here goes:

Eleanor's 6 month checkup was Wednesday. Tale of the tape: 14 pounds 6 ozs (25th percentile); 25 inches long (25th percentile); 24 inch head (90th percentile!). My daughter's large cranium, combined with her ever-changing eye color and her uncanny ability to wake up just as Sarah and I peek in to check on her, caused me to remark that we would soon have to check and see if The Xavier Institute for the Gifted had any openings. My wife doesn't appreciate applying my geek humor to descriptions of our daughter.

Heading out today to Virginia. Winthrop's fall break is Monday and Tuesday, so we are visiting some friends in Richmond and Charlottesville. Looking forward to the trip, but of course it means I have 172 things to do at the office today in addition to the two big meetings I have to go to.

Andre remarked a few days ago how he loved VH1's Hip Hop Honors. I caught it on Tuesday. I've never been into hip-hop as much as my brother, but do like a lot of it that crosses my path. The show rekindled my interest in it a bit, so I am listening to the newest Common album (very good, supplied by my brother) and am going to try and restock my Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul stuff. Plus I need to get a GIANT multi-finger ring like Snoop wore at the VH1 honors that says "iPope" (my hip-hop/on-line persona).

One other thing about that show: Harvey Keitel introduced Snoop Dogg. Now, I like Snoop and I like Keitel, but how did those two get paired together? Did I miss something?

Will try to post from the road. I hope everyone has a good weekend!

10 October 2007

Writing patterns

I've been working pretty hard these past few weeks on two writing projects. The first is a paper on reflective equilibrium and education that I hope to submit (in some form) to the Philosophy of Education society meeting. The second is on Dewey's aesthetics, film, and social class that is for the History of Education society meeting at the end of October. It's the later I've focused on exclusively this week, because I really need to send it to the session chair by Friday (two weeks before the conference). I've banged out about 10 footnoted pages; that was working from texts, with only the roughest of outlines going in.

I procrastinated all to hell on the Dewey piece, but it's helped me better understand my writing process. I write in spurts, with an almost exclusive dedication to writing during that period. I am sure everyone does to some extent, especially when faced with a deadline, but I feel it's different for me. I've been thinking about this Dewey paper for two months -- going over what I want to write in my head, looking at references to use, rereading portions of Dewey -- but it's only very recently I felt ready to write anything. Hence the procrastination and the spurt of productivity.

This wasn't a real problem when I was writing my dissertation. My advisor was fine with my disappearing for three weeks then surfacing with 20 pages. I also didn't have much else to concentrate on during that period, so I could NOT think about writing for awhile (and just ruminate over things in the back of my mind), and JUST think about writing when it came time to bang it out. With teaching, that's a lot harder. Now, even though I am in the writing grove, I have to worry about meeting students and preparing for class. I can't just write. Of course, I should be honest and clear here. Even when I am in my writing grove, it's not like I write eight hours per day. It's more like four. Pre-teaching, however, I'd spend that other time not really doing very much mentally taxing -- cooking, working out, debating the merits of Lost episodes, etc. I think that not writing time helped me write.

It's not like I find the act of writing harder now. I find clearing the mental and caldenderial space to write harder. Given that I must write for my profession, I either need to readjust my writing habits or work my other duties around those habits. I could, for example, try to get ahead on my teaching prep and not schedule appointments when it's a writing week. I am not sure that my writing schedule is that predictable, though. Maybe it needs to be

08 October 2007

SAPES weekend

Friday and Saturday Winthrop and I played host to the South Atlantic Philosophy of Education Society (SAPES). It turned out wonderfully; we had good presentations, a great keynote from Jim Garrison of Virginia Tech, and wonderful accommodations provided by, well, me. I was able to arrange the banquet on Friday night, breakfast on Saturday, and a boxed lunch for everyone after the meeting was over. The hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn in Rock Hill) worked out well for everyone as well. I had lots of help, especially from the dean's assistant and our departmental assistant. SAPES is small (we had 20 or so attendees), but that makes for a very personable atmosphere. I had two students present papers as well, both of which were well received. At the business meeting on Saturday, I was elected program chair for next year, which will be at Virginia Tech.

After the conference ended on Saturday, I was beat. So beat I didn't make it to the Obama rally on Saturday night. :( I went to bed at 9:30 after falling asleep on the couch even earlier, but work up with Eleanor at 10:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I stayed up until almost one reading my book -- The Lions of Al-Rassan -- and finally was able to crash.

Sunday was just recovery for me. My late night and Eleanor's early morning combined to have us all in and out of bed until 11:00. We missed church. I spent the rest of the day getting a few things into the attic and setting a trap for the critter we occasionally hear scurrying about up there. But mostly I spent the rest of the day resting. Eleanor and I hung out while Sarah went to see Antigone at the university. We watched some baseball and football. I grilled a London Broil after Eleanor went to bed, then Sarah and I watched Blades of Glory. Which was dumb, funny, and not as good as say, Talladega Nights.

03 October 2007

A night out

Sarah's parents are hanging out for the week to visit with us, so last night Sarah and I got a nice night out. We waited until after we put Eleanor to bed, then we went to dinner at The Inn at Baxter. It was nice and quiet, with an open kitchen, one big open dining room, and a nice looking bar across the way. Sarah and I went all out (largely because it was Roger's treat. His Christmas present was a contest. We won, so we got a nice dinner). Sarah had a glass of wine, pecan crusted catfish, Butterfinger cake with a glass of port for dessert. She enjoyed her wine and fish very much, but the port was a little strong and the cake a little dry. I opted for some Grey Goose Pear for my cocktail, then had duck with a molasses/Tabasco glaze for my meal. No dessert for me. The duck was wonderful; I described it as a "party in my mouth" which sent Sarah into convulsions of laughter just as the waiter (who was great) came by to ask how everything was. The only downside of the night was how tired I was -- I had taught all day and was worn out.

It was great to get a nice quiet dinner to ourselves out. Thanks to Roger and Marilyn for looking after Eleanor and for giving us a great Christmas present!

01 October 2007

Eleanor's baptism

Yesterday, Eleanor was baptized at our church, St. Phillip Neri in Fort Mill. It turned out wonderfully. Lots of people were in town -- Sarah's parents; her sister from Texas; her other sister, her husband, and daughter from Baltimore; my dad and his wife; my mom, sister, and grandmother; my brother and his wife (Andre braved kidney stones to make it!) and, of course, Sarah and Eleanor. Saturday night cousin Robbie hosted a cookout for everyone. Sunday was the baptism, of course. Sarah's dad performed the ceremony (Deacons can do that sort of thing). The big family crowd was joined at the church by our friends Lee and Marrianne, Josh, Bernie, and Sarah's friends from her mom's group. John Harper is Eleanor's godfather, so he was there with Amelia. Sarah choose her college friend and roomate, Erin to be Eleanor's godmother, but due to a job change and a sooner than expected move, Erin could not make it. Leanna stood in for Erin.

My daughter is a huge ham and loves the spotlight already, so she just beamed up there in front of the church, enjoying all the attention.

After church we all went back to our house for brunch. All in all, it was an awesome weekend and our daughter is awesome.

Photos on her blog: Eleanor's Place