01 September 2008

New Blog

Professor Pope's blog has returned home, with a new format and better content. Update your readers to http://professorpope.com/blog

07 July 2008

Monday Updates Have Moved!

Part of rethinking the blog has led me to decide to post pure family stuff on Eleanor's Place. You can check it out and leave comments about our crazy weekend there!

04 July 2008

The things you don't think you'll miss

Eleanor is stirring now, at 6:45 AM. That's sleeping late for her. I got up close to my usual time, so I had some quiet time alone in the morning. As I made my tea, I was thinking I used to make my tea even earlier, after getting her back to sleep at 5:00 AM or getting up WITH her at 5:30. Some part of me missed that.

Sarah felt the same way yesterday. We visited our friend Jeannie, who just had a baby three weeks ago. Little Ethan fell asleep in Sarah's arms. When we got home, Eleanor needed a nap, so Sarah let her fall asleep in her arms in the rocking chair and held her while she slept. That's something we've been weaning her from for months. There was a time when Eleanor would ONLY nap in our arms. That got old pretty quickly, but Ethan reminded her that it's also nice once in awhile.

You don't think you will miss getting up at 5:00 AM or being chained to the couch while the baby naps, but you do.

03 July 2008

A Maelstorm of Discontent

I am not sure where that title came from -- it bubbled up in my head as I was wrestling with whether or not to write a blog entry. The discontent is really with myself -- my blogging and writing. Today hasn't been a good day for reinforcement, either, as a proposal I submitted was rejected (and I thought it was a shoe-in). I have been thinking hard about writing, my personal and professional life, communication, and blogging lately. I am still trying to sort it all out.

I want to write. I am trying to think of myself as a writer first. I HAVE to write for my job, or else no tenure for Professor Pope. But I don't want to just write academic stuff. So, what then? I am fortunate enough to be in a job that leaves me room for non-academic writing. But I am still a bit lost about what that writing should be like and how I should get it out there. Do I blog it all? Should I have a blog with a tighter focus -- writings on some general topic or another?

I am still pretty confused about all of this, as you can tell. That confusion is the explanation for the absence of blogging for the past 10 days or so.

19 June 2008

Don't go to graduate school?!

Penelope Trunk's recent blog entry lists seven reasons why graduate school is outdated.

As someone who invested considerable money and most of his 20's in graduate school, I was a bit miffed at the article. I think it grossly oversimplifies things and has a narrow focus masquerading behind a broad pronouncement that looks good as a headline. In short, it's a perfect blog entry :)

One big issue is that it seems she is defining "graduate school" in terms of law school and MBA programs. In those contexts, her advice makes a lot more sense. But even law school evades most of her advice, because there is simply no way to become a lawyer without going to graduate school. Just like there is simply no way to become a college professor or doctor without going to graduate school. So if you want to be one of those things, graduate school is necessary, not outdated.

Really, the good advice contained in the article is don't depend on graduate school to solve your problems. Grad school is a bad place to figure out what you want to do in life or to take refuge from poor job options. That's good advice. Grad school (of any kind) is too hard and too expensive to do it just because you can't think of anything better to do. I tell my students who are struggling with figuring out their path that all they really need to do is find someway to support themselves while the figure it out. There are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of later, when the direction has become clearer.

18 June 2008

A wireless world

Right now I am sitting outside of Panera, sipping green tea and working on my online course. I think it's pretty cool that I am able to work without being in the office, especially on a nice morning like this one. The heat has abated a little bit; the high today is only supposed to be 85 or so. Now there is a nice breeze and it is 70ish.

Panera is also apparently a Winthrop hangout. I've seen two other faculty members since I have been here.

I just think it is cool that I am able to do this; to come to a cafe (even a chain) to get my work done. My internet course has been pretty frustrating so far, with lots of technical issues form my students. But an advantage is I can "teach" from anywhere that has internet access. As I was brainstorming where I should go this morning, I realized that Rock Hill is actually set up nicely on this front. All of downtown has free wireless. The big new park and soccer complex, Manchaester Meadows, does as well. So does Glencarin Gardens. Panera has free access and so does Mcallister's Deli, I think. Winthrop is partially covered, but there are pretty big dead spots. And the reason I didn't stay at Winthrop and go outside to work is there aren't really any outside tables. That will hopefully be rectified when the new student center gets built. The spec drawings, at least, have lots of tables outside.

South Carolina has the opportunity to become a free wireless state, but there is considerable consternation in the legislature about the hows and whys and whethers. I don't know enough to get into all the tech and policy aspects of it, but it seems to rest on the question of whether internet access is a public good. Is it something that will benefit everyone to the extent that everyone deserves access and shares the associated costs (like, say, radio)? Ideologically, I would answer yes to that question, realizing that there are still technical issues to wrestle with. Given the recent trend toward the privatization of everything, especially in my conservative state that seems to be the duly designated colony of lots of far-right groups (external groups forcing the voucher issue and various religious groups), I am not optimistic about the possibility of wireless as a public utility. But I can still enjoy my wireless office this morning.

11 June 2008

Some random but cool links

Brazen Careerist -- The Hook ran her column when we lived in Charlottesville. I always found it pretty interesting advice. This column on "Mommy Porn" is pretty provocative, but I agree with most of it.

Sandie has a cool blog at GeekedOff.

Trucker Steve is pretty interesting. He's a trucker who does live webcam stuff and blogging from the road.

From the Department of Giant Time Wasting is a new Planet Defender game.

10 June 2008

A Year of Living Googly

I am considering an experiment -- beginning in July and running until July of next year, I am thinking about using Google for as many computer related tasks as I can. I want to see if it can be done and if it makes my life easier or harder. It's still in the conceptual stages, but here are my thoughts so far:
  • I already use gmail for my non-work email. I think I can set it up where I can use it to check my work email as well. This may be a huge hassle and not worth it. Not sure.
  • Google calendar for, well, my calendar.
  • iGoogle for my general desktop organizer.
  • Google sites for a class website and as an organizer for some new research projects I'll be starting at the end of summer.
  • Google docs for all the things I normally do in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
  • Google Reader for all my feeds (replacing Bloglines).
  • I already blog with blogger.
The only exception will be things I have already begun in some other format -- like the Score Pollution and Reflective Equilibrium papers I hope to finish this summer.

What does everyone think? Am I missing something cool that Google does? Does this just seem stupid?

Two good movies

While Saturday was a busy day for the Popes -- a cookout, birthday party and graduation party (congrats Megan!) all in one afternoon, Sarah and I did take some time this past weekend to watch two films, both of which turned out to be very good.

Friday we watched Michael Clayton. All the accolades were well deserved, as Clooney did a good job as the conflicted title character and Tilda Swinton earned her Oscar. I was both impressed that Clayton immediately sold out his friend and slightly disappointed he later did the right thing. I say "disappointed" only because it would have been interesting to have him never really turn the new leaf. But Clooney did a good job of showing the conflict inherent in the character and, hey, looking at some horses and almost getting blown up can change a person. I also liked how Clayton was always between two things, often represented by people: the corporate lawyer and the lawyer with a conscience, the police and the attorney, the law and the criminal. Good stuff.

Sunday we finally got around to watching Into the Wild. I say finally because our GA Kyle loaned it to me almost a month ago. It was excellent. Well acted and well shot. I read the book maybe 10 years ago and left it with little sympathy for Chris. While I was initially intrigued and envious of what he did, I lost that as he (in my opinion) became more self-absorbed, focusing on his own quest and neglecting the people that obviously cared for him. The movie increased my sympathy, largely though the use of the sister as narrator and by portraying Chris' revelation at the end as he scribbles "Happiness is meaningful only when shared" in Doctor Zhivago. I don't remember either one of those being in the book; I don't think Krakauer included much of the backstory about Chris' parents, which was an interesting choice. I left the film with an increased sympathy for Chris and a small desire to be an itinerant used bookseller. Slab City, man! I found the movie quite powerful and really enjoyed the soundtrack.

04 June 2008

Lost -- 29 May (There's No Place Like Home)

I finally watched the season finale last night, courtesy of ABC.com.

It was everything a good season finale should be. It answered some questions and gave us lots more. And, in true Lost fashion, it provided us with some nice character moments and drama.
  • Again, we see the complexity of Ben's character. There were lots of sympathetic Ben moments, in particular his anguish when he was turning the strange wheel. He realizes this is it for him and the Island and is understandably upset. But, minutes before, we see the cold, remorseless Ben, as he replies with an uncaring "So?" when Locke tells him he's just killed everyone on the freighter. I've totally gone from hating Ben to rooting for him.
  • Locke assumes the mantle of leadership. Nice shot with all The Others looking up at him. Why do those guys always need some outsider to rule them?
  • I loved how the episode began the instant after last year's season finale ended. It was a nice bit of continuity, as well as reinforcing the non-linearity of time that the show plays around with. The same with Ben's jacket and cut on his arm. We see why he was wearing a parka when he shows up in the desert.
  • Michael is, apparently, finally dead. He gets the "You can go now" nod from Christian. He's redeemed himself by helping to save the 6. It was good to see Walt again; nice bit of story structure and acting, there, as Hurley knows Michael is dead but doesn't want to tell Walt.
  • Jeremy Bentham. Let's hear it for 18th century philosophers! (I'll return to this bit in a moment).
  • Jack has good taste in music. Nirvana, The Pixies, etc.
  • The Keamy/Sayid fight was awesome!
  • Great to see the Penny/Desmond reunion. That was a nice conclusion to an ongoing plot line. It also provided a happy emotional counterpoint to Jin and Sun.
  • We learned how much time has passed for the 6 -- 3 years since they were rescued.
  • What were the "bad things" that happened on the island after the 6 left?
  • Is Jin really dead?
  • What was up with the Claire dream by Kate? Was it just anxiety or was it more like a vision? Who isn't supposed to go back to the island? Aaron? Why not? Maybe she means Ben or Whidmore.
  • What happened to the folks on the raft that were going back to the island?
  • One new mystery is Charlotte. What's her deal? Why has she been looking for the island? What did she mean by trying to find the place she was born?
  • What will happen with Sun and Whidmore? Is she trying to help him? Does she join up with him to fight Ben? Much of this hinges on who else she blames for Jin's death. She told her father he was one of two. Who is the other? Jack thinks it's him, but it could easily be Whidmore or Ben for that matter.
  • And, of course, the big question -- how did Locke get off the island, become Jeremy Bentham, and end up in that coffin?
My guess is we will spend most of next season answering that final question, as the 6 work to get back to the island. Given the reluctance Kate demonstrated to that possibility, it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

02 June 2008

Monday Update -- June Restart

Sarah's at work and Eleanor is napping, so it's time for the general Monday update! I'll be lazy and just do it with bullet points:

  • Went to Knoxville on Thursday to visit Dad and see Robert Earl Keen at Sundown in the City. Had to leave early to get Eleanor to bed, but REK always puts on a good show. Downtown Knoxville is pretty cool.
  • Saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Friday night. Lots of fun! I liked it a lot, even if I would put it as my least favorite Indy movie (or maybe tied with Temple of Doom).
  • Drove back Saturday. Driving through the mountains always makes me want to do more outdoor stuff and just move to some tiny mountain town. Hot Springs is a candidate.
  • Watched Ratatouille Saturday night. Very good. I laughed a lot.
  • Sunday was church and a picnic with some Winthrop faculty.
  • Still haven't watched the Lost finale. I know :(
June also marks a bit of a restart on some personal and family goals. I haven't been going to the gym, so I am going to get back on that wagon. I also have had a serious Coke relapse, so I am getting off that wagon. Sarah and I are also not doing any traveling in June in order to save money for Key West in July and to focus on the house more. We've got a weekly plan and everything. I'll try and post more about that later.

28 May 2008

Lost to the Future

Someone has put together a clip show of all the flashforwards in this season in chronological order. If this montage is correct, then the trial starts Jack and Kate's off island relationship and Jack begins to crack up after they have been together awhile.



There's a good possibility I won't be able to watch the season finale when it airs tomorrow night, since we will be at my father's house and, hopefully, in downtown Knoxville watching Robert Earl Keen. I will probably have to wait until Sunday to watch it on-line.

27 May 2008

Monday on Tuesday

Since we had a three day weekend, today is the semi-traditional "what we've been up to" post.

The big weekend event was a surprise weekend getaway organized by Andre. I have to give big props to my brother for working so hard to make sure he, my father, and I still have quality time together (and, by "quality time" I don't mean splitting wood). Some time ago, he asked me what Saturday in May would be good for the Pope men to do something together. I told him the 24th. A few weeks later, I get an email telling me I am supposed to be at some random exit off I-40 at 9:30 in the morning and to bring the following items:

3 Toothpicks
Matches or a lighter
1 Trash bag
2 small sticks about 1in in diameter and at least 6 inches long
A change of clothes including socks and shoes
2 Plastic Drinking Cups
Digital Camera
3 Zip Lock Bags
1 12x18 Baking Sheet Pan
1 Pen
1 Notebook

I was very intrigued and a little scared. It turned out, however, that most of those things were just a smokescreen, as they were not needed for our actual activity -- whitewater rafting down the Pigeon River. We hooked up with Big Creek Expeditions and our guide Nick took dad, Andre and I down the Pigeon. (And I can't recommend those guys enough. They are a smaller outfit, so you get a little more attention and experienced guides).

I had never been rafting before and, after the orientation, I was a little nervous. I had visions of giant rapids knocking me out of the boat and being caught in some hydraulic which would force me under water and against a rock until I either drowned or was hauled out by my vest. It was actually much smoother than I thought. We ran though some class III and class IV rapids, but our guide really knew what he was doing and the river didn't seem all that rough. The clouds which had hung over us all morning broke after we had been on the river 2o minutes or so, providing some rays to warm us up when we got wet. The only thing that was slightly disappointing about the whole trip was we were one of thirty or forty rafts on the river Saturday, since it was the first real day of the season, a holiday weekend, and there are several companies that make that run. And that really didn't matter that much. It was good just to be on the water with my dad and my brother.

The next Pope Man Trip is already planned -- canoing down the Waccamaw River next March.

22 May 2008

What can social foundations educators contribute to teacher ed?

(that no one else can)

One of the things I am interested in on a personal and professional level is what SoFo brings to the teacher ed table that other perspectives do not. This is important for personal and professional reasons. Personally, it helps me to think about what I am doing with my students -- what do we do in my classes that are complementary to other courses? What do we do that they will not get anywhere else? Answering those questions helps me focus and give direction to what I am teaching. The professional reason that question is important is we SoFo people often need to justify our existence in ways that other teacher ed faculty do not. I don't like that situation, but it is often the case. By figuring out what we bring to the table, what value we add, we can better make our case for our academic worth.

There are lots of possible answers to that question. Dan Butin gives three -- liberal arts, cultural competence, and teacher retention. I am not sure the first two will work, at least at my institution (and, I think, at a lot of others) because they are easily covered by other disciplines or folks within the colleges of education. If you are at a liberal arts institution, or at least an institution with a hefty set of core requirements, then the liberal arts answer may not have much sway. That is, it is easy for folks to say teacher education students get that stuff (the critical thinking aspect, anyway) from all the other elements of the university, even other education courses, so there is no real need to have a course where that is the primary focus. Of course we want critical thinkers -- that's the point of a university in the first place -- so if that's SoFo's justification for existence within a college of education, then it's pretty thin. (Note: Butin's argument is much more robust here than I am giving him credit for; he makes an important point about educational issues being the focus of such thinking. And this argument assumes colleges are really interested in developing critical thinkers. While many may not actually be, most I think, say they are. Thus, saying your course alone brings critical thinking to the table isn't going to get you very far).

The other dimension of the liberal arts answer is actually the traditional SoFo approach -- the X of education. SoFo is typically thought of as a conglomeration of disciplines focused on education: the history of education, the philosophy of education, etc. Through these disciplinary lenses, one gains the critical perspective on education the liberal arts answer says SoFo brings to the teacher ed table. As much as I think this is a good answer, the issue brought up here is always relevance. How is the history of education relevant to good classroom teaching? While I think this answer is obvious, it has been and continues to be dismissed or ignored. I just don't see (most) administrators and teacher ed students suddenly coming to the realization that history or philosophy of education is a vital part of teacher education.

The cultural competence answer is also easily dismissed by other folks within Colleges of Education, because that answer is often framed as the "diversity" answer. SoFo cannot lay claim to preparing teachers to teach in diverse classrooms, because t every other course deals with that in some way. Our ed psych sequence, for example, discusses poverty, race, gender, and cultural background as influences on student efficacy. We have a course that deals with students with learning differences in mainstream classrooms. And those are just in the core, not in C&I. So claiming that SoFo brings diversity to the teacher ed table won't get us very far, either. (Of course, there are criticisms of these diversity approaches from a SoFo perspective. Namely, that they neglect the social dimensions of these issues and individualize difference. That is, they neglect system and structure. In other words, while those other faculty are talking about poverty and the issues students of poverty present for the classroom teacher, none of them are talking about Marx. Talking about Marx, however, is not a good way to get people to listen to you in a college of ed. I don't think my colleagues fall into this neglect of system and structure, however).

In the next post, I'll look at Butin's third answer and put forward my own idea about SoFo's role within teacher education.

19 May 2008

Monday is Daddy's Turn

Eleanor has been napping for over two hours. I know (and appreciate) this because, as of today, I take care of Eleanor on Mondays. Sarah took a part time job at Portrait Innovations, one of those photo places you see in shopping centers. All of the stores nationwide are closed Monday, so all calls get routed to their corporate center in Charlotte. Sarah, and a bunch of other people, spend 12 hours on Mondays answering those phone calls. They pay well and it gets Sarah out of the house one day per week so she can do something else.

This leaves me at home with Eleanor. This should be no problem for the summer, as my summer teaching is all on-line. It should work out okay for the fall as well, as I have no Monday classes. Beyond that, we will see.

I am excited (and, honestly, a little nervous) about being the house-husband one full day per week. Today I got up at my normal "go to work" time (5:50), showered, shaved, and started getting things ready in the kitchen while Sarah woke up and showered. Eleanor woke up shortly after I went into the kitchen, so I got her up, changed her, and started to get her dressed. We usually just put her in a little sleeper for the morning, then really get her dressed after her morning nap. I made Sarah a lunch and got us some breakfast ready. Sarah went off to work and Eleanor and I played around a bit until she got tired. Now, she's napping.

Eleanor has been pretty sick all weekend, with a fever -- which got pretty high at times -- a runny nose, and, last night, one vomiting episode. That (her first) scared the crap out of Sarah and I, but there has been no more vomiting even as the fever has stuck around. This morning's long nap is undoubtedly a product of Eleanor's feeling poorly and a rough night last night for everyone.

I am trying to be both be productive on my Mondays and enjoy the time with Eleanor. The trick for both, I think, will be modest expectations on the productive front. If I can get a few things completed, either while Eleanor is napping or with her "help", I will feel good about not being at work and can, thus, enjoy my time with my daughter. Today, for example, I was able to review 20 proposals for a conference. And that was in her normal nap time span. I hope to get some laundry done as well, and maybe a few other things around the house. If Eleanor is feeling up to it, we will run a few errands after lunch. If not, no worries.

Since Sarah won't get home until 9:00 or so, I'll end up feeding Eleanor all three meals (although Sarah did help with breakfast), bathing her and putting her to bed. It sounds a little daunting, but Sarah does that stuff all the time, so this gives me a sense of what her week is like.

This setup has a lot of potential to be positive for all three of us, so I hope it works out. Most of all, I hope Eleanor feels better soon.

16 May 2008

Lost 5/15 -- There's No Place Like Home pt 1

One of the consequences of a strike-shortened season are these fast paced episodes, where lots of things happen. You don't get as much character development or even mystery deepening, but the plot advances fairly rapidly.

If you want to consider this episode the first part of the finale, then I was kinda right with my prediction that this season would end with the six getting off the island. I thought the final scene would be the Oceanic 6 coming down the ramp of the cargo plane, but that's probably not dramatic or cliffhanger-y enough to end a season on. Perhaps next week we will see the six leaving in some other way as the Island disappears.

The central issue we are now faced with is how to the 6 get together and get off the Island. Jack is with Sawyer in the jungle. Hurley is with Locke at the Orchid. Sun and Aaron are on the freighter, and Sayid and Kate are now captured by the Others. Is everyone going to end up in the same place, with some giant confrontation, where some decide to leave and others stay? That would be very similar to the beginning of this season, where Locke and Jack fight it out to hide or meet the helicopter. My gut tells me it's more accidental. Desmond and Jin would not decide to stay. Nor is it clear Ben or Locke would want Hurley (or anyone else) to leave.

One thing I am liking about the temporally displaced flashforwards, in addition to the fact that the technique itself is likely a clue to a big Island secret, is that we often see consequences before causes, actions before reasons. In the flashfoward from last night, we see the early stages of Hurley's "madness" and the first sign that the Island hasn't really let the 6 go, with the numbers in the Camaro. We see the reason Jack didn't want to see Aaron after Kate's trial -- Aaron is the visible reminder of his father's infidelity. We also see Sayid's brief reunion with Nadia and know that her death pushed him into Ben's service.

We still need to learn how, exactly, the 6 get off the Island. But other questions remain as well:
  • What are the Others up to? Why were they are grubby looking? Are they hanging out at The Temple (wherever that is)?
  • Who was Ben signaling with the mirror? What happened to that person? (Nice quip about the crackers, btw).
  • What's under The Orchid? How (or does) Locke move the Island?
Who knows how many of these will get answered in two weeks? Just enough, I suppose.

15 May 2008

Who is a "qualified" social foundations teacher?

One of my (seemingly infinite) recent research interests is social foundations as a discipline -- what is it and what does it do? One of the points frequently made is that there are non-foundations faculty teaching foundations courses. That's generally thought of as bad. No one wants non-chemistry faculty teaching chemistry courses. One of the issues here, though, is the field has trouble defining itself, so it's difficult to determine who counts as a "qualified" social foundations faculty member and what counts as a social foundations class. If you have a Ph.D. in social foundations (that's what it says on my degree, anyway) and teach a course called "Social Foundations of Education" then that would count. But what about someone who has a degree in Reading with a research focus on reading and critical pedagogy and does other work on race/class/gender? If they teach a SoFo course, does that count? What if that same professor does not teach a social foundations course (perhaps one is not offered at her institution), yet teaches a reading course with a SoFo/critical pedagogy focus?

It could be that if we define SoFo broadly, then we are not doing as bad as we think we are. It also could be that if we define it that broadly, then it ceases to have meaning as a category.

12 May 2008

Sniffly Monday

My allergies have been KILLING me lately. All the medicine I take only helps a little. It seems I have tried everything over the counter. I may have to go back to the doctor for some help.

Despite the allergies, we had a great weekend. Friday I drove down to Columbia for John's graduation from law school. Due to a threat of rain, they held it in the Koger Center instead of on The Horseshoe, but it was still nice. I then drove back to Rock Hill, ate lunch, picked up Sarah, then we drove back to Columbia for the party. We dropped E off at a friends who has two young children for her first slumber party. She did well by all accounts, which let Sarah and I stay at the party until pretty late. We drove back to Rock Hill, arriving home at 1:15 AM! Just like the old days!

Saturday morning we collected Eleanor and said farewell to Cupps. The one bright hang out spot in Rock Hill closed, which disappoints us to no end. We then went for an Eleanor photo shoot at Glencarin Gardens, then to the Winthrop Softball game -- they ended up winning their conference tournament.

Sunday was church and a day of taking care of Sarah. I cooked some steaks, using a peppercorn sauce recipe I found on the Accidental Hedonist. It turned out fairly well, given that BiLo was out off almost every ingredient when I dropped by there to pick up some groceries. That's what I get for needing exotic spices like garlic.

We also watched two movies over the weekend. American Gangster and No County for Old Men. Both were good, the later was excellent -- it deserved every award it received. I will do my best to write up an entry about the film later.

09 May 2008

Lost 5/8 -- Cabin Fever

First, we get a Ben episode. Then, a Jack episode. Now, a Locke episode. This gives us the Island's Big Three and illustrates a passing of the torch. As Ben escalates his war with Whidmore, Locke becomes the Islands caretaker.

Honestly, I thought this episode was a little flat. Perhaps it was because John's reemergence as the Island's man of faith was accomplished by simply demonstrating that he was the chosen one all along, not through any significant action on his or the Island's part. There were also parts of the episode that confused me, and not in a "holy crap!" way. More like in a "I thought we had settled this" kind of way.

That confusion was actually caused by Abbadon's appearance to Locke in the hospital. Prior to this, his appearances had been harbingers of sorts. He shows up to question Hurley in the hospital, asking if "they are still alive". So maybe he works for Whidmore. This view is given further support when we learn he recruits Naomi and the others for the freighter. But now we see him "recruiting" Locke, telling him to head to Australia for a walkabout. This is after Richard has shown up to Locke at two different points in his life (looking the same in the 1950's as in the present), trying to recruit him, presumably for the Island.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Abbadon and Richard are both on the same side. Richard could be trying to recruit Locke for the Island, while Abbadon works for Whidmore. Both know Locke is special and are trying to get him to join their side. So maybe I just no-prized that little puzzle. Locke's status is certainly unclear, as shown by Richard's reaction when 10-year-old Locke picks the knife. (Nice bit in the principal's office too, with the "You Can't Tell Me What I Can't Do!" line again). Although, come to think of it, that's not a very fatalist sort of attitude. Sounds more like a Jack line.

Then there was the mayhem on the freighter, which gives us lots of questions:

  • What's that thing strapped to Keamy's arm? It can't be good, whatever it is.
  • What's the secondary protocol? I didn't notice it at first, but that symbol on the protocol was the same symbol Ben had on his jacket when he showed up in the desert. Presumably, it's some place on the Island we haven't seen yet.
  • What happens to Desmond? He isn't one of the Six, yet he swears never to go back to the Island.
  • Nice how Keamy's gun misfired when he tried to kill Michael. The Island won't let it happen.
  • What's up with Claire? Just chillin' in the cabin, leaving her baby in the woods.
  • I am interested in Jack's father's connection to the Island. It would be fun to go back and look at Jack's earlier flashbacks to see if we could pick up more info.
That's all I got for now. Like I said, a good episode, but not one of my favorites.

Of co

08 May 2008

Geek Blasphemy: On Lovecraft

Three weeks ago, at my Wednesday night D&D game at Above Board Games, I saw a new book in their RPG section. It looked neat, so I flipped through it while I waited for our game to begin. It was a new RPG based on the Gumshoe system called Trail of Cthulhu. I wanted some new gaming material and, suitable inspired as always by NC Game Day, I picked it up last week.

In the interim, I plucked a compilation of Lovecraft stories off the shelf and started reading them again, beginning at the back with "The Shadow Out of Time."

Here's the blasphemy: I don't think Lovecraft writes that well.

Yes, I said it, and I know that probably looses me all sorts of geek points. I know Cthulhu's Librarian is getting in his car right now to drive down here and kick my ass. Or, perhaps more appropriately, drive me to the brink of madness by exposing me to cyclopean tenebrous horrors which Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Those cyclopean and tenebrous horrors are the problem. To be specific, the problem is the fact that the horrors are cyclopean and tenebrous. Expressions are curious. Exchanges are loathsome. Adjectives and adverbs are everywhere. That's the horror. Let's look at a passage at random from "The Shadow Out of Time:"

"The far horizon was always steamy and indistinct, but I could see the great jungles of unknown tree ferns, Calamites, Lepidodendro, and Sigillaria lay outside the city, their fantastic frondage waving mockingly in the shifting vapors." (362)

First of all, Lovecraft tells us those ferns are "unknown" but then tells us what they are. Then there are all those adjectives. The horizon is "far," "steamy," and "indistinct." The jungles are "great." The frondage is "fantastic."(Also note that my online spellcheck does not think "frondage" is a word). It waves "mockingly" (yes, I know that's an adverb). The vapors are "shifting," less we forget that the horizon is steamy and indistinct. That's seven adjectives and one adverb in one sentence. Are all of those things necessary?

My sense is people like that sort of language in Lovecraft. It's somewhat archaic. It may compliment his themes. Fundamentally, I think Lovecraft is critiquing the modernist project. Science and progress mean nothing in a world where humans are a mote of dust in a hostile universe. He wants to both show the hostility of that universe and remind us of some pre-modernist sensibilities. His language is supposed to be a vehicle for that, I guess. I think his language, however, gets in the way of the narrative more than occasionally. Instead of wondering what is going on with the narrator and his madness, we are distracted by all this damn verbage.

The way to avoid this criticism would be to claim that Lovecraft's stories are not really about narrative. That is, they are not plot driven and, instead, about atmosphere. That's why he needs all those adjectives, because he's painting us a (iridescent, abyssal) picture. But the stories are clearly plot driven. We have a big "reveal" at the end of "The Shadow Out of Time," when the protagonist (here's the spoiler) finds a book he has written in an archaeological site that is thousands of years old! That's a *gasp* moment, even as the reader knows it's going to happen. Lovecraft's story structure is wonderful, giving us flashbacks and flashforwards, playing with our sense of time, telegraphing the state of the protagonist to the reader which allows us to know where the story is headed even as the protagonist denies it to himself. Thus, our sympathy for the poor bastard when he makes his realization. Clearly, the narrative is important. But all those descriptors get in the way.

Lest you think I am a Lovecraft hater, I'll share a great sentence, coming at the end of the story. The reader knows what's coming. The narrator knows the reader knows what's coming (again, a nice bit of structure), so he wants to give the reader the insight he's gained through his literal and figurative descent into darkness:

"If that abyss and what it held were real, then there is no hope. Then, all too truly, there lies upon this world of man a mocking and incredible shadow out of time."

That's good stuff. It's too bad we have to wade through monstrous towers of unknown and shadowy frondage that wave above the distant misty vague horizon to get there.

07 May 2008

Nazi's Invade!! From the Moon!!



This looks pretty cool. Hope it turns out well on what looks to be a small budget.

Webiste: Iron Sky

06 May 2008

It's What I Do

Whew. What a day. Today was supposed to be easy; I was giving an exam this morning and grading the rest of the day, hoping to finish most of my semester's grades and just wrap things up tomorrow morning. That didn't really happen. I had a student quasi-emergency.

I had typed up most of this student's story, using gender-neutral pronouns no-less to further obfuscate the student's identity, but just deleted it all. I am not sure how much detail I should go into.

Let's just say the student had the deck stacked against him, made some poor choices early on that made it worse, and is now trying to rectify the situation. I am doing my best to help. Some of that stacked deck was financial, and that situation had reared up again. It's made me realize how close some of my students are to just chucking it all and ending up in the same poverty trap that they are trying to get out of. They are one frustrating form, one less than sympathetic professor or financial aid officer, one more parent who is unable or unwilling to offer some support away from some dead-end job in some dead-end town. It frustrates the hell out of me, because college should be about liberation -- about getting out of the chains of circumstance that trap us. It hits me in the gut when I see some kid who has that possibility but is walking that razor line between freedom and failure and so much of what determines her direction she can do nothing about. I really, really want to help push them in the other direction.

So I've got a lot invested in this kid now. I just want to make sure he walks across the stage in a year or so with a degree. That's what I am here for.

05 May 2008

Case of the Mondays May 5th

Lots of random stuff flying around at the moment, so I thought I'd do a quick Monday update.

It's the last week here at Winthrop. I've got an exam this afternoon and another one tomorrow morning. My hope is to figure final grades and get it all done by Thursday. Thursday night is graduate graduation, which I will be attending. Undergraduate graduation is Saturday, which I will not be attending. Since it's on;y my third year, I don't really have many students or advisees who will be walking yet. Next year those students who started with me will be graduating, so I will definitely go to the undergrad ceremony.

I hosted my graduate students at a cookout Saturday. That was lots of fun; I really enjoy teaching the MAT students. Sarah and Eleanor went to the Pope family reunion just outside of Lake City, where Eleanor was the belle of the ball. Everyone loves the new baby!

Saturday night I went with my friend Jason to see Iron Man. Good, good stuff. Lots of fun, Downey Jr was great, the effects were perfect, etc. Maybe they will be able to pull together an Avengers film.

Speaking of movies, Indiana Jones in two weeks!!! Were I in college, I am sure we'd all be donning fedoras and heading out to see it opening night en masse. As it stands, I may not make it opening weekend, but rest assured I will see it.

Busy week this week, with the grading and all. Friday is John's graduation from law school and Amelia's graduation with her MBA. Big party Friday night we are looking forward to.

That about covers where I am at, except for the three books I am trying to read while doing all this other stuff. But those books deserve their own post.

02 May 2008

Lost 5/1 -- Something Nice Back Home

If last week's episode was about humanizing Ben through the loss of his daughter, this week was about demonizing Jack as he gains a son. Demonizing is perhaps too strong a word, but we certainly see a key section of Jack's descent into the drug addled paranoiac that ended last season.

Jack has been portrayed as the "man of science" to Locke's "man of faith". Jack's science isn't necessarily about understanding; it's about control. His point of hubris is he cannot fathom a situation where he, in some fashion, cannot control the outcome. He assumed the leadership role on the island in an effort to assert that control and, in many ways, he's an excellent leader because he is willing to assert control when others are paralyzed by fear. What he cannot do, what becomes his undoing, is give up control when necessary or acknowledge that there are some things that simply "are." We see the first clearly in the appendectomy. Jack doesn't want to admit it's necessary. Then Jack wants to have a hand it it's outcome, despite the pain. He cannot let go. He cannot put his life into someone else's hands. That's what makes him so bad in relationships. You can't base a relationship on that sort of belief in control. Sometimes, you just have to let things go.

Not that I don't understand his anger at Kate. While this was a Jack-centered episode, we do get another glimpse of Kate off the island. Kate seems to have regained some of the strength we saw from her early on in the series, yet is still stuck between Jack and Sawyer. That she is defined so much by her relationship with two men can be seen as a little disappointing, but understandable given the context. She and Jack both have "daddy issues."

Other bits:
  • I really, really wanted Sawyer to say a line to Miles after Miles asked him "Are you her big brother or something." Sawyer should have said "Brother. Friend. I'm the guy with the gun."
  • The big mystery, of course, it what happened to Claire. I got nothing here, but I won't be surprised if we simply don't see her for awhile.
  • Poor Hurley. I really felt bad for him. That scene between he and Jack was wonderfully done. Good lighting, again.
  • Another mystery was the thing Kate had to do for Sawyer. Anyone have any theories?
  • I am looking for a literary analogue for Jack -- someone obsessed with control, with thwarting fate. Oedipus? McBeth? Suggestions?
  • What makes one a candidate for island healing? Rose gets healed. Locke does too. But Jack does not, nor does Ben. Is it a faith thing?

25 April 2008

Lost 4/24 -- The Shape of Things to Come

Lost, more than most shows, speaks to it's audience. There are the literal ways in which the audience gets involved, such as "The Lost Experience" internet game. There are the ways in which the writers use characters to answer audience questions or to take gentle jabs at fan nitpickyness, such as the in-show "answer" to why Hurley wasn't loosing any weight despite being stranded on an island with only fruit and fish to eat. There are the ways in which the show rewards the careful viewer, such as the name "Halliwax" on Ben's jacket from last night's episode. And there is the way in which the show leads us down an emotional path, only to confuse it all again and again. We want shows to be simple, for characters to be simple, yet Lost keeps adding angles and complexities that make it hard to find a hero and a villan.

If I had to pick one thing this season has been about, it has been the humanizing of Ben. We ended last season with Ben being seemingly irredeemable. He shot Locke and left him for dead. But this season we've seen Ben mistreated by a raging Jack, taunted by a confused Locke, and the target of an island invasion. Last night, we saw his daughter killed right before his (wide, staring, creepy) eyes. We saw him have remorse and grief. We felt for him a bit, despite his past sins and constant attempts to manipulate everything to his advantage. This episode humanized Ben further, while reminding us of what he is capable of. The smirk that crossed his face after he "recruited" Sayid was that Ben, even as the sobs that he gave as he closed Alex's eyes was something new. The episode ends with the viewers having an emotional dilemma. We still don't trust Ben. We know he's manipulative. But it looks like he was right all the time about the people on the boat. It looks like he is trying to protect the island from Whidmore. And we understand his desire for revenge given what Whidmore did to his daughter. The dilemma comes when Ben reveals he's going after Penny. We really like Penny, especially after the best episode of Lost this season -- "The Constant". The show has pit Ben against Penny; that's a hard one to stomach.

Other questions/comments:
1. What is up with the Smoke Monster? Can Ben control it?
2. Obviously, I need new cable and a new TV, since I missed all the cool writing on the stone wall because our cable sucks.
3. The final scene with Ben and Whidmore was just very well done. The white/black contrasts, the shadows, the scotch -- it just looked good. Plus we get all sorts of questions from it. What were "the rules"? Why can't Ben just kill Whidmore? Why does Whidmore say things like 'I know what you are' to Ben? (Could be that Whidmore knows Ben is just a nasty guy). What sort of relationship do these two have?
4. Who killed the doctor and why? How did Bernard learn Morse code?
5. Nice foreshadowing of Jack's pill addiction. From next week's previews, it looks like he has appendicitis. Ouch.

24 April 2008

The Chronotebook

The Chronotebook an non-linear organizer that, well, simply looks cool.

I find myself vacillating between pen and paper and tech for these sorts of things. I blog, but I also have a notebook I carry about with me. I basically use the Hipster PDA. I twitter, but I have a pencil and paper calendar. We use online banking for a lot of things, but have found that paying certain bills is easier/cheaper in person (for example, by paying our home equity line at the bank, it gets posted immediately, thus saving us money in interest).

Anyone else have this weird mash-up of high and low tech?

22 April 2008

Lost is returning Thursday

And if this clip is any indication, it looks to be awesome.



The only problem is they've moved to 10:00, so it will run past my bedtime.

21 April 2008

Twitter and waste the hours in an off-hand way

Saturday I was in Myrtle Beach for the Create South Conference, which was put together by my brother and other folks, including the Evil Genius. Afterwards, Andre asked me how it was.

"I count a conference successful if I can get one new, good idea and meet one cool and interesting person per day. This one day event was worth about a week in those terms."

So, yeah, it was productive for me! One of the new ideas I got was to use twitter for work and class purposes. I have avoided twitter for awhile. It has the potential to be a massive time suck (which I already am a slight victim of) and I thought no one needs to know what I am doing all the time. This was weighed against the potential for research purposes. I thought it would be neat if while I was reading an article, I could tweet myself important ideas and quotes, thus not loosing anything and keeping them all in one place. At the conference, I hit upon another idea. I could make my students twitter between class meetings about their readings, which would keep me abreast of their ideas and issues on the assignment. Then I could assign one or two students to aggregate the week's twitter streams, looking for common issues which we could address in class. That later idea is what pushed me into twitter realm.

Other cool stuff I picked up from the conference:
Home-Ec 101
Jott
Yelp

And I reconnected with an old friend -- Ava Ann. It was great to see her again and meet her guy Robert.

Thanks to my department for renting a car for me to go to Myrtle.

Sunday was even better, as it was Eleanor's birthday party. I am sure Sarah will post some pics soon an Eleanor's Place.

(oh, and I am down to seven research papers. Almost there. . . )

Anyone else twitter? Let me know.

18 April 2008

In the swamp

Not, literally, of course. But in the swamp of the end of the semester. Papers to be graded, meetings to go to, advisees to calm down when they didn't get the classes they needed. It all fell at once, really. But I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My undergrad research papers are almost done. Graduation is May 9th, so the end is in sight.

Honestly, I can't remember ever being this behind in my life. How did I get here? Well, poor planning for one. I assigned a bunch of things that were due at the same time, which contributed to the grading backlog. Then there was procrastination. Some things (like the paper proposal due today) could easily have been done several weeks ago. That ties into time management. The semester seems sort of cyclical, with ebbs and flows in demands. That's true as far as external deadlines and the like, but I could certainly even those ebbs and flows out a bit better, getting things done during the "light" weeks so I don't get so behind at other points in the semester. The final contributing factor to my present situation is travel. In the past three weeks, I have been to New York and Boston/Cambridge and was gone a total of eight days. That travel was for conferences and necessary, but certainly contributed to me getting behind.

I'll get back in shape, though. Hopefully with my sanity intact.

07 April 2008

Me versus the yard

I just got inside, right before sunset, after mowing my grass. As per Pope usual, what should have been simple turned into a lengthy project due to some lack of preparation. The mower ran out of gas with about 15% of the yard left. And, of course, I didn't have any gas in the can (can you still call it a "can" now, since they are all made of plastic? Can you have plastic cans?). A trip to the gas station then justified a trip to Lowes to get some grass seed. Hence, the production.

I've been trying to put Bermuda grass in the yard, but it hasn't really taken. My front yard is full of weeds. It certainly looks better than it did when we moved in; then, the yard was full of rocks! But the grass hasn't really taken and the yard is an odd mix of bermuda, fescue, and weeds. So tonight I just broke down and bought fescue, which is what all the neighbors have. I didn't even see any bermuda in the store. I spread it out on the front lawn along with some leftover starter fertilizer. We will see what happens.

04 April 2008

Priorities and Broken Glass

I am at Cupps this morning, grading some papers and working away from the office. The Smiths just starting playing in here (well, not literally, although I am not sure anyone sitting here would notice if Morrisey walked in), which has risen my mood a bit. Eleanor was up at 4:30 this morning. Sarah tried to take care of her for awhile, but handed her off to me at 5:30. I rocked her for half an hour and she feel asleep, but was up 20 minutes later. So there is some fuzzy headed lack of sleep vibe happening in the Pope house.

Something else happened this morning that made me think again about Getting Things Done. Part of that system is to keep track of all the things you need to do in a system, but to really avoid placing priorities on any of those things. There is no "A List" "B List" or anything like that. The reason is those priorities shift with conditions and, even though something is really important, you may not be able to tackle that thing in the 15 minutes you have before your meeting. GTD says you should do SOMETHING in those 15 minutes, so it doesn't make sense to work on the A list until it's done, then move onto the B List. How does this relate to this morning in my kitchen?

Sarah was nursing Eleanor while I was getting my lunch together. Our lunch stuff (water bottles, lunch bags, etc) are on the top shelf of the cabinet. While reaching for a lunch bag, I knocked over a shot glass on the middle shelf; it fell and broke.

Sarah and I have talked about our need to reorganize our kitchen. We have stuff crammed in some cabinets while others sit half-empty. We now have Eleanor's stuff, which is scattered in two or three cabinets. This need, of course, was made apparent by this broken glass. It makes no sense to keep those lunch boxes on the top shelf. I use them almost every day. They are not breakable or unsafe, so they could easily be something we could put in a cabinet Eleanor can get into. Our bar materials, however, we almost never use. Why are they on the shelf in a cabinet we open every day, between the mixing bowls shelf and the lunch stuff shelf?

I guess my point is that reorganizing the kitchen wasn't a priority until it Became A Priority, you know? It takes an emergency (or at least a broken glass) to make that happen. GTD is supposed to minimize those emergencies and give you the space to deal with them when they do happen.

02 April 2008

Wow-wee! A zeppelin!!

So we killed for guards and now we have an airship.

That sounded odd. Perhaps I should contextualize.

I have been playing D&D again at the FLGS, Above Board Games. Sarah met some other mom on her mom's group messageboard whose husband plays in a Wednesday night game there, so Sarah encouraged, nay, demanded, I check it out. I did. Husband's game was full, but another group that played said I could join immediately "if I played a healer". Thus, Brannon the Cleric was created.

For a few weeks now, I have been wanting to chronicle this game. It's interesting to be a player again after a long layoff. With all the 4th Edition news and hype coming out, it is interesting to compare and contrast a 3.5 game with the upcoming new edition (at least what we know about it). Plus I think my long layoff has given me a new perspective on the game and those who play it. So I am going to try and write these things up in an interesting, thoughtful, and hopefully funny way. It's not an attempt at a Story Hour or anything, because my table observations are going to be a big part of my write ups. I'll just dive right in with this week and try to fill in the past few weeks (this was my 4th time playing with these guys) as we progress.

We were sent by a lich to destroy a construct being built by The Black Hand, who are emerging as the principle antagonists in the game. So principle, in fact, that my good cleric apparently has no qualms about taking orders from an evil undead sorceress. Everyone else in the group is what I call neutral-pragmatic. The alignment description for NP is "NP characters do whatever it takes to stay on the quest the DM has put them on, because otherwise there would be no adventure." I am not saying the game is a railroad. Actually, I am fine with railroad games. But the default assumption is alignment doesn't really matter, because we are all going to engage in the quest anyway. That kinda makes sense and is probably the reason they are getting rid of alignment in 4ed.

Oh, and calling these things "quests" bugs the crap out of me. It's new school MMOG parlance and I don't like it. And stay off my lawn, too.

ANYWAY, the litch's undead army created a diversion for us to sneak though the enemy lines. Apparently, the undead are at war with the Black Hand. There are dragons and zeppelins involved, but I missed last session so I am not sure what is going on. And no one could really tell me, because no one else takes notes about the mission or plot. Tonight, when the lich gave us our task, I wrote stuff down. When I said to the group, "okay, this is what we are supposed to do" and read my notes, they looked at me like I had just given them the 12 step plan for solving the energy crisis. Easily impressed, I guess. Probably because the DM would have just reminded them what they were supposed to do when the time came anyway.

We journeyed across the grasslands to the enemy camp. En route, we were attacked by werewolves. Our burly fighter had a silvered sword, so he drove them away. I thought this was a nice encouter, actually, one that made use of a cool item the fighter has been carrying around for awhile and hasn't really used. The guy that plays the fighter is back into D&D after a LONG hiatus, so he is still getting the hang of the rules. And, as we all know, there are lots of rules in 3.5. I think he has a lot of potential, because he kept asking for descriptions of things, including combat, and seems to be really trying to learn the rules and become a better gamer.

Werewolves driven off, we made it to the camp. It was ringed with guards and, with a fighter and a cleric in heavy armor, we are not too sneaky. The rogue came up with the idea of having us armored types try to sneak in via the beach, since the waves would mask our clanking armor. A good plan (the rogue's player is a veteran. More on him later). We got some bonues to our MS check and these bonuses were good enough to offset the -10!! we had to sneaking in full plate. We made it to the four guards around the construct and attacked.

Our principle spellcaster is a dragonborn sorceror. That dude can do a lot of crap, including breathing a cone of fire and immolating himself periodically with nasty results for anyone near him. Oh, and he has a mini-beholder as a familiar. And spells. He breathes his fire, gets hacked on by a guard, I heal him, the fighter wades in, takes a little damage, and we make short work of the guards. Well, they do, because I don't think I actually swung. I just healed the sorceror. While we were fighting the rogue was sneaking around finding the artificer. The rogue knocked him out and took his stuff, including power rings to control some of the constructs. And the airship. So the sorceror took the rings and tried to figure out what they did with Use Magic Device. (Which puzzled me. Why does an arcane spellcaster need use magic device? Must be some rules thing I am missing.)

So, um, that was it. No other guards came to check out the big huge combat where flame was shooting out everwhere from Mr. Dragon Sorceror. This was what disappointed me the most, actually. Not the lack of realism, but the loss of a potentially cool scene where we frantically figured out how to work the airship while guards descended upon us. The fight that did was a bit of a letdown, too. Just four guards stood in the way of our objective and they were easily taken out. Granted, they did almost knock the dragon guy unconscious, but that was only because he had to run to the front to use his breath weapon. I didn't get hit, nor did the rogue, and the only reason the fighter took damage was because of a critical. Dramatic tension? Who needs it!?

We also had a guy observing our session. I talked to him afterwards. He just moved to the area, seems really cool, and is looking for a game. I hope he comes back next week, but I think he may have been scared off by the guy who plays the rogue. He is a veteran gamer, runs games at cons, and has a lot of good ideas at the table. But he talks A LOT. And tends to be a bit overbearing with those good ideas at the table, especially in the face of some novice players (which we have) and a novice DM (which we sorta have). Our DM is a 19 year old guy who works at Chick-fil-a and is known as "french fry" because he works in fast food. He's nice and pretty smart and plans to go to college in the fall, but is clearly kinda new at this DMing thing.

An interesting thing happened with him and another visitor to the game tonight, but I have rambled too much already.

01 April 2008

Overwhelmed?

I want to reinvigorate the blog a bit, so I am trying to up my posts for April. I thought about some clever April Fools post for today, like the funny "Send Your Emails Back In Time" bit that Google is doing. I had also thought about a "What I Have Been Reading" post, because I just finished a novella and am working my way through a big long novel right now. But then I got to work, read a chapter of David Allen's Ready for Anything, and instantly felt overwhelmed. The book didn't do it itself, it just helped me crystallize what is on my plate at the moment, which is a lot.

This is always a very busy time in the semester. We only have five weeks left, so everyone, including me, goes into "panic mode". Right now I have three classes worth of tests and papers to grade. I have the end of semester stuff to prepare for all my classes (one more test for my freshmen, material for the graduate class). It's advising time here at Winthrop, so a couple of hours of each day is devoted to that until April 9th. I just returned from a conference and have another one to go to next Thursday through Monday. I have a call for papers to write for the conference I am program chair for and a conference proposal to write by the 18th (and, btw, I am on that program committee as well). I have four papers/research projects that are in various stages; three of those could be made into submittable pieces with just a few solid hours of work, but it is hard to find those hours. And that is just work stuff.

I don't write all of this to complain. I was hoping that putting it all out there would make me fell better, but it hasn't really. Are there things I can be doing to manage my workload better, so things don't get like this? That is a clear "yes!". Several of the above things could have been done weeks ago, yet I didn't do them. It's easy to succumb to the lulling rhythm of the academic semester, when there are weeks when things are light and you feel you have the time to randomly surf the internet. That, I am beginning to realize, is a mistake. Constantly chipping away at these things, keeping track of all your commitments and "open loops" so things don't pile up and fall on your head is really the best way to go for me. It allows me to feel better about getting things done, so when I choose to NOT get things done (like playing with my daughter at home), I can concentrate on that and feel good about it. That's one of the goals of the GTD system. I have to focus better and remember that how I spend my time is a choice, and if I choose to muck around then I am choosing that over productive time and, in a sense, over family time and leisure time. When you look at it that way, the choice is pretty easy.

There, now I do feel better.

Leave some comments! What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? What do you do to avoid getting there in the first place?

27 March 2008

The Only Lonley Boy in New York?

I am in the Sheraton New York (not my hotel) for AERA, a giant educational research conference that meets this week in Manhattan. I just finished my session, which was pretty well received even though I had ventured out of my philosophical comfort zone to talk about ethics and assessment. The presentation was really all I had scheduled; I traveled all this way for 20 minutes of work. I do plan to attend some sessions later today and tomorrow, but it does make me wonder if it was worth packing my suit when all I am about to do is go back and change into more comfortable clothes.

I arrived yesterday and hung out with grad school buddy Kurt. We wandered around, hitting up "Curry Hill" and a very cool spice shop so he could get some stuff for his wife before wandering to The Strand. Last night we ate at John's on Bleeker for some great pizza.

The only real issue so far is my hotel is kind of far away, on the east side of the park at 62nd street. It's not really that far with the subway, but the hotel is 6 blocks from the nearest subway station, so getting anywhere is sort of a drag. Still, it's New York. Aren't your feet supposed to hurt?

24 March 2008

What I am doing right now

I am sitting on my couch, which now backs up to our large front picture window. From here, I can see though our dining room, out the sliding glass door, and to the trees beyond our deck. There are no leaves on the trees yet.

It is still light outside, but getting dark in here. It is hard to see the keys. The sun has gone down beyond the houses across the street and the blinds are closed.

My wife and daughter are at my father's house. They left today at lunch. It is quite in my house since I turned off the TV at 7:30, when Jeopardy ended.

I watched a Firefly episode (Objects In Space) as I ate my dinner of leftover chicken wings. That is not healthy (the wings, not Firefly).

I miss my family in the quiet house.

I have been thinking about this blog and what to do with it, if anything. Why can't I write more and write consistently, and that's not saying anything about writing well.

I took my fingers off the keys to use the touchpad to highlight "well" in the previous sentence and make it italics.

Is this how Twitter works?

Now this has devolved from description to stream of consciousness, so I will stop.

21 March 2008

Lost -- 13 March (Ji Yeon) and 20 March (Meet Kevin Johnson)

(It's been a crazy couple of weeks, with work, Sarah's birthday, family in town, and spring break. But things are back on track, beginning with Lost catch up).

It makes sense to discuss these two episodes together, because structurally they are similar. In both, the falshbacks and flashforwards really drive what is going on. The cliffhanger of Ji Yeon is resolved in Meet Kevin Johnson (which, of course, ends with another cliffhanger) and the misdirection of Ji Yeon is nicely counterbalanced by the straighforward narrative of MKJ. And we get two versions of who is behind the fake wreckage of flight 815.

Ji Yeon resolves the "Who are the Oceanic Six?" question. We know that it's Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, and Aaron. I guess Aaron does count, though I think that's kinda lame. We still don't know how of why it's those six, or what really happens to Jin (or Claire, or anyone else). Coupling the Jin flashback with the Sun flashforward was a nice device, I thought. It kept us guessing while reminding us of the ass that Jin was, which explained why he was able to forgive Sun for her affair, which made it more affecting when we saw Jin's grave.

It was also a nice device when coupled with the Michael flashback of MKJ. There's no time travel or dimension hopping trickery that gets Michael as Ben's man on the freighter. Driven by guilt, Michael tries to redeem himself by doing Ben's dirty work (which, we remember, was what got him into trouble in the first place). Most of the episode was flashback -- a straightforward narrative as Michael relates his situation to Sayid and Desmond. There was a bit of supernatural weirdness, nevertheless. Libby appears to Michael twice, and we learn that "the island won't let Michael die." Just like it wouldn't let Jack kill himself by jumping off the bridge or Hurley kill himself in a high speed chase.

Still, mysteries abound. The biggest one emerging from these two episodes is who, exactly, put that fake plane at the bottom of the ocean? Ben would have you believe it's Whidmore and all indications point to Whidmore being both obsessed with the island and not a very nice guy. He has the documents to prove it, even. But we know Ben is a big fat liar. We were reminded of this, in a very direct and bloody fashion, by the end of MKJ. Karl and Rousseau lay dead or dying, while Alex surrenders to whomever killed them. Was it The Others? Did Ben know and send Rousseau and Karl to their deaths? He's certainly capable. He killed his father. He's lied and lied and lied to anyone and everyone to suit his own mysterious purposes. And we have Gualt's claim that Whidmore actually recovered the flight recorder of the fake 815. If Whidmore spent all that time getting that black box, then did Ben arrange the fake wreckage? Why? Of course, it could have been Whidmore's team that killed Rousseau and Karl. Didn't the chopper pilot have to "run an errand" in Ji Yeon? That could have easily been to insert some of those assault rifle wielding guys on the island.

Other things -- all the nice irony going on. Sayid turns in Michael for working for Ben, yet we know he ends up working for Ben in the future. Michael sacrificing his friends on the island (and killing two people) to save Walt, only to lose Walt when they get back to the world because he confessed to Walt what he had done. I like this stuff. It's what makes Lost literary.

Finally, this post talks about some connections between Lost and Stephen King, especially The Dark Tower. I think it's pretty interesting and hope to do a future entry in response. It looks like I will have plenty of time, since there isn't a new episode until the end of April. Aggh!

09 March 2008

Sunday General Update -- leaks?

Eleanor has an ear infection, so her sleeping patterns have been all sorts of wacky lately. This morning, she woke up at about 7:00, screaming. Sarah got up, fed her, and brought her into bed with us (we had already been up twice during the night). Eleanor then fell back asleep on my chest until 9:30, which was doubly nice. The sleeping late was great, but having my little girl asleep in my arms was pretty special, too.

We knew we were not going to make church, so Sarah and I set ourselves to some cleaning. Sarah discovered a bunch of water under the sink, which filled me with dread as I envisioned a Sunday trying to be a plumber. I emptied out the cabinet under there, dried everything off, then tried to find the leak. I ran water through both sides of the sink, ran the garbage disposal, ran the dishwasher, and even sprayed the little sprayer thing, but no leak. I guess that's good, but I still wonder where the water came from.

Sarah tried her own plumbing project -- using baking soda and vinegar to clean out our shower drain, but she had trouble getting the drain stopper out. She asked for my help, and I fiddled with the thing for 30 minutes before discovering it simply screwed off. So, we've cleaned out the drain.

No real need to be a plumber today, which is a good thing.

07 March 2008

Lost -- 6 March (The Other Woman)

So, a Juliet centered episode. I like Juliet, although it seems like a lot of people do not. Still, after last weeks excellent episode, this one didn't quite stack up. We did learn that Ben's enemy is Whidmore, confirming a storyline that has been brewing for awhile. We were teased with the identity of Ben's man on the freighter, but it looks like we will find out next week. We got confirmation on Ben's obsession with Juliet, which has been hinted at since Juliet was introduced. We also got to hear the voices of the island again, which led to another character appearing and disappearing. I wonder if Dan and Charlotte were really saving everyone from poison gas, or disabling some of the island's defenses to make it easier for the people on the freighter to do whatever they are trying to do with the island. Locke appears to be getting dumber every week, falling (again) for Ben's manipulation. But Ben has shown he is the master at that sort of thing, so it's no big surprise. I did like the nod to the Red Sox, which makes two or three times their Series win has been referenced. And I still like Juliet.

05 March 2008

R.I.P. Gary Gygax

E. Gary Gygax, the man who invented Dungeons and Dragons died yesterday. Through D&D, Gygax indirectly gave me countless hours of fun, kept me out of trouble, helped develop my vocabulary and math skills, and led me to make lots of very good friends. His passing was not unexpected, as his health had been declining for some time, but it is sad nonetheless.

The NPR story is here. io9 has done a nice bit about Gygax and sci-fi

But I think Wil Wheaton explains best what it meant to be a geeky kid and find D&D.

Now I am all bummed out again.

29 February 2008

Lost -- 28 February ("The Constant")

Last night's episode may have been my favorite of this season, despite (or perhaps because of) it focused almost totally on Desmond. Desmond has become one of my favorite characters. He's a bit of a sad sack, but there is this tragic and romantic quality to him that I enjoy. His primary motivation is to demonstrate he's worthy of his love. I actually found the end of the spisode, where Desmond speaks to Penny for the first time in eight years, touching. It's also quite possible he knows when he is going to die. Plus he calls everyone "brother", which is kinda cool.

This episode confirmed the emerging theory that there is some sort of time displacement going on with the island itself. This was hinted at before, primarily with Dan's experiment where the timer arrived at the island half an hour after it should have. But now we know -- the chopper took off at dusk but arrived at midday; to those on the island it seemed as if a day had gone by while the flight only took twenty minutes. We learned Dan has been trying these time experiments for years and that Desmond's consciousness travels in time, from his army days back in 1996 to 2004. (It looks as if this consciousness time traveling was the reason Desmond sucked at being a solider).

As always, there were interesting questions. Who is the mysterious captain of the freighter? Is it someone we have seen before? Who unlocked the door to the sick bay? Presumably Ben's "man on the boat", but who is that? (Part of me thinks Michael is on that freighter). Why do the freighter people avoid Penny's transmissions? How is the Black Rock and the diary from the boat related to all this?

Anyone have any theories?

27 February 2008

And, lo, the stone was removed!

To quote Jimmy Hendrix, I am now stone free. Although I don't think he was talking about kidney stones and laser surgery. We went to the hospital in Pineville yesterday at about 9:00. I was processed and put in pre-op for an hour or so, then they took me to anesthesia. The last thing I remember was Dr. Doolittle (seriously) saying they were going to give me something to help me relax. Apparently, I relaxed enough to fall asleep. Everything else for the rest of the day was hazy. Apparently I asked Sarah to stop at the bookstore and wrote down a book to get for me. I do remember not being able to talk very well because of serious cotton mouth. I came home, slept, got up when Andre and Heidi arrived, ate a big dinner (I hadn't had anything to eat in 24 hours) then went back to bed. I woke up this morning in a little bit of pain, but nothing too bad. I go back on Friday for a follow up, which will hopefully be the end of the Kidney Stone Saga.

25 February 2008

Under the, um, laser?

Well, it's official. The stone has not moved at all, so I have to have surgery tomorrow. There will be no actual cutting, just, um, tubes and lasers and things of that nature. It's outpatient, so I should be home by tomorrow afternoon. It's a minor deal, but I am still a little nervous, so thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

22 February 2008

Lost -- 21 February

Warning -- I am typing this while under the influence of hydrocodone (the stone starting hurting when I got home this evening), so I take no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained herein.

Here's what we learned last night:
1. Kate cleans up really well.

Ummm. . . that's about it. Way more questions than answers.

1. The end, of course. How did Kate get Aaron?
2. What the hell is Ben up to? How does Miles know him? Why did Miles ask for 3.2 million dollars? (Interesting theory -- Miles is Ben's man on the boat and they were just speaking in some kind of code).
3. What happened to the helicopter? Looks like that gets answered next week.
After last week it seems like there is definitely some time travel/time displacement going on. Maybe it takes the helicopter three days to get back to the boat?
4. What is going on with Dan and Charlotte? Does Dan have memory issues or is he supposed to be psychic or something (although I thought Miles was supposed to be psychic)? Why didn't Charlotte tell anyone Ben has a man on the freighter?

I didn't like this episode as much as last week (Sayid as an assassin was awesome), but still good stuff. I read today that there will be 13 episodes this season, so hopefully we'll get some answers by May.

21 February 2008

Romancing the Stone

Quick health update: I went to the urologist yesterday -- no stone movement. Ugh. He's giving it until Monday, then they will have to "go get it." All I really care about that process is that I will be unconscious if it has to happen. So until Monday I am drinking lots and lots of water. I wish I liked beer, because that's supposed to help.

20 February 2008

Rocky Week

Wow. All sorts of things have been happening lately that have kept me busy, then laid me up, then put me in a funk that I am just now snapping out of.

I turned in my Pre-Tenure Review early, at about 11:00 on Thursday. Not an hour afterwards, we received an email from the dean extending that deadline until Monday. No matter. I was glad to have it done and turned it. It certainly took most of my time and energy for the previous week. I need to give big thanks to my wife for her editing skills and general understanding and my graduate assistant for all her help.

WARNING -- THIS NEXT BIT MAY GET INTO TMI TERRITORY

As it turns out, it was a very good thing I turned in my review early, as I woke up at 4:30 in the morning on Friday having to pee really bad. I staggered into the bathroom, did my business, but the sensation did not go away. Instead, it turned into excruciating pain that put me back into the bathroom puking. That's where I stayed for the next hour or so, as Sarah got Eleanor dressed and ready. They drove me to the local urgent care center, which was empty. (Tip -- if you want the doctor to see you right away, throw up in the waiting room bathroom. Although by this time it was just dry heaves,as my stomach had tossed out all the interlopers long before.)
A very surly doctor saw me first. He ordered some blood work and a urine sample. I spent the next 20 minutes or so heaving into the bathroom toilet or sitting in the exam room with my head on the exam table. A much nicer doctor then came in and said it looked like I had a kidney stone and he was sending me to the hospital for a CT scan. So we went, but not before getting a shot for the pain. Blessed Toridol! The CT scan revealed I did indeed have a fairly good sized stone, so it was back to urgent care. At first, the nice doctor said he would give me pain medicine and the weekend to pass it on my own, but I should contact the urologist the following week. But while I was waiting for my prescription, the urologist told nice doctor they wanted to see me that day. So off I went to the urologist, where they did more X-rays, and I did more peeing in cups. The urologist was super nice and told me exactly what was going on -- I had a big stone, but not too big to pass on it's own. It was pretty far down, close to my bladder already, which was good and bad. Good because it was close to getting out. Bad because if it didn't come out on it's own, it was a the point where they would have to do surgery to get it out. He gave me a perscription for better pain medicine (hydrocodone), some Flomax samples, told me to drink all the water I could stand, and sent me home. I felt much better on Saturday, kinda crappy again on Sunday (which resulted in me taking the codeine and being really stoned for four or five hours) and feel fine now. I've been peeing in a strainer at home, but am not sure I've really gotten rid of anything. I go back to the urologist this afternoon.

END TMI PORTION

So that was the weekend. The week started with some storm Sunday night that knocked out the power to our house. Despite no alarm clocks, I woke up at my usual time Monday morning. Eleanor was freaking out in the dark, but we got her out of her crib and she calmed down. I took a shower by candlelight (our hot water is gas, so that was fine. I am glad it wasn't cold outside, though) and we went out for breakfast. They didn't get the power back on until 11:00 or so. It just threw me off.

So, eventful. I am still trying to catch up after focusing on my Review for a solid week. I am also trying to shake off an inexplicable emotional funk. This morning I stayed home while Sarah went to the gym. She got some personal time while I played with Eleanor, which really improved my mood. Both of those girls are good for that.

13 February 2008

This is what I waste my 100th post on?

Yes, this is post 100. Unfortunately it comes during the week I am preparing my third year review, due Friday.

So I'll get back to that. But I promise more substantial writing and a new look for the blog soon.

08 February 2008

Lost -- 7 February

I missed the first 10 minutes or so of last night's episode trying to get Eleanor to go back to sleep (at which I failed miserably and had to call in the calvary, aka Sarah).
I think all I missed was Dan (or is it Dave -- the bearded parachute guy) and his flashback. I think it was neat how we got all four of the new arrival's flashbacks in one episode and, as usual, the flashbacks are where the mystery lies. The entire episode was a bit more of a setup show that last week, with little payoff and not much plot advancement. Still, there was some forward movement. The Dharma polar bear in Tunisia was nice and gives more evidence to the time travel/teleportation theory about what's going on on the island. We found out the mysterious black guy who appears to Hurley in the mental hospital in the future was the same guy who sent Naomi and the "rescue team". We find out that they are after Ben. We see some photo of Ben, but I couldn't tell how recent it was or where it was taken. If it was a recent photo or it's clearly not taken on the island, that would give more evidence to the time travel/teleportation element, too. We also learned Ben knows all about these strange people and has a mole aboard their boat. Despite knowing all of that stuff, Ben doesn't know what the smoke monster is all about (but he could be lying about that).

We also have another literary/philosophical figure on the island -- the red-head British woman is named Charlotte Simmons? Lewis, so now C.S. Lewis joins Locke, Rousseau, Sawyer, and other literary types on the island.

05 February 2008

The Pope Presidential Endorsement

I don't talk directly about politics much in my blog. Generally, I don't consider myself much of a political person. Perhaps it's the philosopher in me -- I am much more concerned about ideas than the messy business of politics, which often just annoys and frustrates me. That being said, I have found myself interested in all the current political hoopla. It's hard to avoid, for one. There is no predetermined outcome, for another. And, perhaps most importantly, I have come to support Barak Obama. To me, he represents a change away from many of the things I dislike about politics. He's inspiring in ways that others are not. I know people say that being inspiring and hopeful are not enough, that he needs experience. I think inspiration and hope are what we need right now, that personal qualities of integrity, leadership, and inspiration cannot be learned in the way that political savvy can be gained, that you can surround yourself with people that can help navigate the political waters, but one cannot be advised on hope.

Anyway, the Obama campaign sent me this video, which I found captures much of why I like Obama, so I thought I'd post it.



Edit: Apparently, great minds who happen to be brothers think alike. Andre talks about this video (that was produced by wil.i.am) on his blog.

02 February 2008

Saturday update

It's about 9:30 on a Saturday morning. Sarah is at work at Cupps. Eleanor is napping. I just finished a bowl of Honeycomb. As I glance around the house from my typing spot at the kitchen table, I see a lot that needs doing. There's a load of laundry in the washer; there are dirty dishes in the sink. There are gift cards scattered on the floor. Eleanor loves playing with those things, for some reason, so they always end up scattered on the floor. You'd think that I could avoid that whole problem by just putting the gift cards somewhere where Eleanor couldn't grab them, but that seems entirely too reasonable.

I also have a fair amount of reading I need to get done for my classes next week, along with a bit of grading of the blog I set up for my graduate class. The there is the looming pre-tenure review, due in two weeks.

There's also the Dragonlance DVD that's sitting on the television, which is, by all accounts, horrible. Yet I want to watch it anyway, and I should really do it while Sarah is gone, since she has no interest in that stuff whatsoever.

My dad and Teresa are coming today to take us out for my birthday (Monday), so I need to get the guest room ready. We are also pretty much out of food and diapers, so a trip to the grocery store and Target needs to happen today.

Boy, I have a lot to do! And if this post sounds depressingly busy, well, I am busy but certainly not depressed. It will get done and things are good.

01 February 2008

Lost -- 31 January

I was pretty keyed up for last night's season premiere, after watching the season 3 finale last week and the clip show that started at 8:00. Michael Emerson (the actor who plays Ben) narrated the clip show, which led to a creepy vibe as you felt that you were getting Ben's version of events. It also helped to jog my memory about a few things, like we found out that Jin is really the father of Sun's baby and Hurley had that episode on the island where he was seeing people who weren't there. I had also forgotten that there were Others on the island prior to the Dharma Initiative, that Ben had been instrumental in killing all of the Dharma folks, and that the Others don't age.
(Which brings me to new theory #1 -- the Others are part of the island, in something more than a metaphorical sense, which is what gives them the healing power. Locke is, in many ways, an Other. Maybe Mikael is too).

I thought the season premiere was very good. No new mysteries were resolved and a few new threads were started. Here are those questions, most of which come from the flash forward:

1. Do only six people leave the island? Flash-forward Hurley screams "I am part of the Oceanic Six"! Who are those six? We have seen Jack, Kate, and Hurley, but who else?
2. Charlie appears to Hurley and says "I am dead, but I am here now." What's that about?
3. Hurley gets angry at Jack's visit, saying "You're here to make sure I haven't told anybody." What happened that they aren't supposed to tell? That there are still people on the island?

I really enjoyed this episode's Hurley-centric focus. He is easily one of the most likable characters, so you really feel for him when he hears about Charlie, are genuinely scared for him when he's running through the woods and sees Jacob's house (which apparently can move -- it's like Baba Yaga's Hut), and are scared for him when he's threatened by the "attorney" in the institution. (another question -- who was that guy? someone from the "not-Penny's boat" people that are still looking for the rest of the island people?).

Overall, I felt the strength of this episode lay in returning to some of the character foundations we saw in the first season. Kate re-emerged as a strong competent woman, Sawyer as a bit of an ass, and the tension between Locke and Jack. The climax of the episode was, quite literally, a choice between those two and their respective ways of dealing with the island. I like that that thread, which has been around since the first episode, was made to literal here at the beginning of season 4.

26 January 2008

Lost -- Season Three Finale

Tell Winston Lost commentary is back! With the new season on Thursdays at 9:00, and me not having a brand new baby in the house, I plan on getting back to my musings on this wonderful show. Somehow Sarah and I missed last season's finale. I also then managed to avoid significant spoilers since then. Not sure how I managed that feat, but all I really knew about was the "flash forward" sequences that showed Jack as a man who clearly could not keep it together. So in preparation for the season four premiere, we Netflixed the last three episodes of season three and watched them last night. Whoah!

Of course, there are more questions than answers, so we will start with some lingering questions that will, perhaps, get answered in Season 4:

1. Who are the people in the freighter? Ben is obviously scared of them. They seem to be looking for the island and they are not connected with Penny's people searching for Desmond. We have gotten a glimpse of some of them in the trailers for next season -- that guy who says to Jack "getting your people off is not our primary objective".
2.What is up with Jacob -- the "voice of the island"? That was a creepy bit from the next to last episode, with Jacob talking to Locke and then Locke getting shot and dumped in a pit. Is Jacob and actual person, some supernatural force, some odd bit of technological trickery, or some odd manifestation of Ben? I was leaning toward the later, given all the Wizard of Oz references in the show thus far (remember that the name Ben gave Jack et all was Henry Gale and he came in a balloon).
3. Are there two forces on the island, some sort of spiritual yen and yang? One could be represented by Jacob who speaks to Ben. The other is represented by Walt (very cool to see Walt) and mostly speaks to Locke. Come to think of it, the castaways and the Others have mirrors of each other: Ben/Jack, Kate/Juliet, Locke/Mikael (neither one of whom can die, apparently), Sawyer/Tom. That may not have in-story significance and just be the writer's way of better structuring the narrative, but I do find the paralels interesting, especially the fact that Locke and Mikael both got brought back from the dead by the island (apparently) in the finale.
4. Is Charlie really dead? As bummed as that makes me, I think so. He filled his purpose and redeemed himself in a number of ways, much like Shannon or Boone. I will say that bit did strain my suspension of disbelief. Why didn't Charlie just run out and shut the door? Then the only thing that would have happened was the communication room would have flooded. Of course, if we believe Desmond, Charlie was destined to die. Now he gets to die a hero and, somewhat of his own choosing. He accepts his fate. Nice bit about needing a musician to type in the code, by the way.
5. All the stuff from the flash forward. Who was in the coffin? Who got off the island? Who was the "he" that Kate had to get back to? Is Jack's dad really alive? All I think right now is those people on the beach (Sawyer, Sayid, Jin, Hurley, Juliet, Bernard) get left on the island. Others make it off, but it apparently does not go well. Maybe Jack was being delusional about his father being alive. Maybe is was Rose in the coffin (African-American neighborhood, she was sick before being on the island and so dies after leaving it of her disease).

I am happy the show is back! I don't know how many episodes we will get with the strike, but I will take whatever I can.

24 January 2008

My little piece of internet fandom rage

I thought about just letting it go, but I think I would have to turn in my geek card if I didn't make some comment on the whole Spider-Man thing.

The digest version is: Aunt May gets shot, Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil so that she lives, but the world changes into a version where he and Mary Jane don't get married.

My take -- this sucks. It's lame retconning. It take a character I enjoyed growing up with and could relate to and turns him into a complete loser. It seems like a money grab and a movie tie-in, just like when Spidey had to wear the black costume again just when the third movie came out. Oh, and now instead of three Spider Man titles, we just get one that comes out three times per month. Know what that does? It makes it where those people (like me) who only really bought Amazing Spider Man now buy three books per month and makes it harder for other folks to tell interesting Spider Man stories.

Now, there's this rumor that the whole thing isn't actually happening, that it's all in Peter's head, so the devil can revel in his anguish. I don't know if that's better or worse. Worse, I think.

I could rant some more, but I have done enough to keep my comics cred, such as it is. For much better ranting, try websnark.

20 January 2008

Heathen Bowling

Sarah and Eleanor are making their way back from Pittsburgh today, so I took advantage of my last morning of pseudo-bachelorhood to sleep late. This means I missed church. That wasn't very good of me, but did allow me to participate in a new tradition our friends Jeannie and Jason have started -- Heathen Bowling. They go bowling on Sunday mornings. Games are cheap and their is usually no wait for a lane (the bowling alley here is always packed!). I met them this morning and bowled two games. I rolled a 190 on my second game, which is the best I have bowled in a long time. Now I have that odd arm ache that comes from bowling and it's hard to write.

19 January 2008

Home Alone Pt2 -- Snow Daze


Sarah and Eleanor were supposed to make it back today, but were getting snow here so they decided to wait until tomorrow to return and let this front move on to the east. I am really missing them; I have all week. But it was a rough week at work, so perhaps it was best they missed out on my grumpyness.

I watched a lot of TV and movies this week. Here's a quick recap:
The Sarah Connor Chronicles -- Good stuff. I think this show has lots of promise. I have this wild theory about the Oedipal nature of John Connor, his mom, and an attractive cyborg, but that piece of literary genius will have to wait.

Comanche Moon -- This prequel to Lonesome Dove featured great acting -- Val Kilmer was very good, while Karl Urban and Steve Zahn performed admirably in roles made famous by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. Too bad the story was a meandering mess. Six hours of mini-series and they couldn't find some narrative thread to hold it all together?

25th Hour -- This was really good. It's nice to see Spike Lee branching out a bit with this and Inside Man.

We Jam Econo - It was really neat to learn about and hear The Minutemen. iTunes has all their stuff. Go get it.

Shoot 'Em Up -- This was NOT GOOD. I know, it tried to be purposefully over the top and extreme, but it just ended up being silly. Still, it had Monica Belluci.

Cloverfield -- Tried to see this at the theatre last night with some friends. Notice I said "tried". Stupid shaky-cam. I had to leave about 35 minutes in or I would have thrown up all over the teenagers in front of me. Too bad, because it looked cool.

Unfortunately, I am now out of movies and am dangerously close to finishing my book. What will happen if I am stuck at home with no entertainment and no family? Ahhhhhh!!