30 December 2006

Things to do on Christmas Vacation

1. Get really sick. Thanks, Jake.

2. While sick, drink a lot and drive up and down the Eastern seaboard repeatedly. Drink an entire bottle of champagne to cure sore throat. Take cold medicine intermittently, frequently at the same time as bottles of champagne, wine and/or 30th birthday party shots.

3. See awesome friends who politely ignore hacking, feverishly nonsensical comments, and general lethargy and who instead provide kickass hugs (germs be damned!), stories, entertainment, food and fun. R., A., C., K., M. -- you are all excellent and very tolerant people. It was great to see you!

4. See family and wonder if it is the fever making you imagine that they actually fucking said they're going to join a cricket club this year. Cricket club? I can't be related to you. You're Catholic -- stop aspiring to be WASPs!

5. Watch a lot of cooking TV while recuperating and finally figure out what all the fuss is about Project Runway. Why haven't I been watching this all along? Apparently I had to fly across the country and get consumption to find some quality reality TV shows.

6. Drag self to the Tesoros exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Very worth it. My favorite was the painting of an angel with a gun, from the 18th century.

7. Fly while sick. This is so. much. fun.

8. When home, refuse to go to the doctor, just like a little kid. I'm feeling better! I don't have to go! The cough will go away soon!

I actually had a great break, and great visits with everyone -- fingers crossed that I didn't spread the Christmas plague too much. I hope you all had wonderful holidays as well!

15 December 2006

Happy Holidays!

I'm leaving this afternoon for the East Coast on a holiday whirlwind tour of Philadelphia, DC and New York. For those of you back East, I'll see you soon! For everyone else, have a wonderful holiday break/wintry two weeks! I hope there is lots of merriment and joy!

14 December 2006

Before and After

Some random shots from the last few days -- babysitting, dinner party, and much, much crafting:

Crushing the candy canes (baby helper joined in for this -- he refers to it as "hamo nandy!"). It is very satisfyingly violent and effective to smash up candy canes with a wee craft hammer.

And the finished product is pretty tasty, too. I call them peppermint mocha-cakes.

This is what happens when I first attempt to arrange magnetic letters on a stamper to read a holiday message. I have crafting-only dyslexia. I think it's like playing an album backwards -- it's some sort of message from the dark powers that there will never be peace on earth (or "no ecaep htrae").

When I arrange them the right way, it all works a lot better.

Baby self-portrait. He got ahold of my camera and went to town. I think his eye for photography surpasses mine, which isn't really too hard to do. Toward the end of the dinner party this little guy took every pot and pan we own out of the cupboards and walled me into a corner with them.

12 December 2006

The Terror of the Thames

I went to the office this morning to do a little scanning for the professor I'm R.A. for this quarter, and I brought my newly-refurbished Ipod with me for background music. When I got it back from the fine folks at Apple a few days ago, I realized that when they installed a new battery (I was part of the class action), it got rid of all my music/playlists/etc. So I updated it last night, and brought it in today. I scanned a few pages, turned on my Ipod (name: Sharky) and discovered that it is actually a weird little mp3-playing demon creature with a bizarre sense of humor. It updated, but for some unknown reason, it only updated 5 songs out of the thousands on my computer, and those five songs are: Don't You Forget About Me, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, and three songs from the original London recording of Cats. Growltiger's Last Stand (The Terror of the Thames), Gus: The Theatre Cat, and The Moments of Happiness. I swear on my beading pliers I have not listened to the Cats soundtrack in years, nor is it on any playlist, so I have no idea why the Ipod decided to update only those songs, along with the entirety of my Learn! Spanish! Now! CD's. I think it's a cruel tech-geek/hipster joke by Apple employees who have programmed the refurbished Ipods to seek out the lamest music on your computer and sync only that.

And for what it's worth, after I got desperate from the Tears for Fears/Simple Minds medley extraordinaire, I listened to Cats for a bit. And Gus? Made me teary, so it's probably best I don't listen to it regularly. Come on, the cat was old and thin, and his coat was all shabby, and he had the palsy! So his little paws shook! Palsy! I cannot deal with a homeless cat suffering from palsy, it's too much. Especially when the graduate director comes by to bug me about something when I'm in the middle of my Gus+palsy emotions.

Slavery Was A Bummer, But Hey -- Capitalism!

Conclusion from student paper today (the second one along these lines):

"The use of slaves has been around far longer than any one could actually imagine. It is very unethical and it is great that it isn't still legal in today's society. However, it was one of the main building blocks for the expansion of the economy in the past. Slaves had much involvement in the growth of mining and especially sugar production in Latin America. This diversity offered the Latin American culture with a constant source of labor and growth in the economy. It is especially shown by the dominance of the sugar industry in colonial Latin America, which would have been impossible to obtain without the help of the African slaves. Slavery has hurt many people over its years of existence, but if there was one good thing that came from it that would be the economy that it helped to create, which is still going strong today and should be for the centuries to come. Slavery is a horrible thing but just look what it helped build!"

OK -- he's not factually wrong, I just live in such a bubble that I forget sometimes that we're supposed to be happy to have an engine of global capitalism that feeds off human bodies and blood in order to provide some people with unlimited access to sugary soda and diamonds and cheap plastic toys. I'm sure the slaves of the past (and present) are just thrilled they could help with the construction of such a system. Sometimes in education it just feels like, as they say, throwing jell-o at the wall. Some stuff sticks, some doesn't. Slavery bad? Yep, everyone seems to agree on that. Any connection to capitalism itself as a questionable and morally bankrupt framework? Not sticking. Anyway, at least grades are done.

10 December 2006


Weekend highlights:

-- Hot springs (almost) all to ourselves. Apparently the piles of snow scare the bears off, but not me. I am officially a cold tub slut. Much like a Thai salad roll is to peanut sauce, the hot pool for me is just a conduit in order to get to the cold tub. The Breitenbush trip involved a lot of sleeping (bedtime at 8:30, up for breakfast and morning pools, then nap, then more pools, then second nap), a lot of eating from their delicious, communitarian, made-with-love hippie vegan buffet, and the rest of the time alternating between hot and cold amidst the snow and the fir trees with the river raging a hundred feet away. At one point Erin was concerned I may have had a heart attack because I'd been in the cold tub so long -- but I just like it that much (after the first time, granted that's a bit painful, but once you're warmed up, it's goodness). Damn, it's just so relaxing. I was like a pile of mush when we left.

-- I chopped more than eight inches off my hair in Portland. Haircuts are one of the things I've put off for the last several (six?) months, so getting "shorn" as Erin described it and getting lots of kicky layers makes my whole head feel lighter.

-- Homemade Indian feast was a terrific success -- dahl, cauliflower masala, curry naan, tamarind sauce, cilantro chutney, jasmine rice, and many, many, many samosas. I felt like a curry-scented fry cook by the end of the afternoon, but the birthday boy loved it and it was even topped off by his favorite, lemon meringue pie. I love other people's birthdays.

-- Back in the hometown, I was touched that the Christmas street decorations are still the same lighted tinsel candles my town has used since I was a little kid. This is no doubt partly because it's really freaking poor and there's no way they're ever getting new ones, but I found myself feeling fonder of my little community than I have in many years. The canned food warehouse outlet (our only grocery store -- just try to find produce there), the espresso drive-thru that cropped up just after I moved away and is still kicking, and especially the lights on the trailers in the parks -- I find them far more loveable and comprehensible than say, the mansions around here with their fields of lights arranged by fleets of undocumented gardeners, or the $7 price of a bunch of grapes at the yuppie grocery stores in town. That's right, even when I'm in a great mood, I can't stop ripping on the rich, yo. That's just how I roll.

-- Police blotter in my hometown paper listed as stolen recently: "A mounted bass, Dale Earnhardt alarm clocks, bedspread." Multiple Dale Earnhardt alarm clocks, people.

-- One of the most enjoyable typos I've ever seen in a student paper:

"After Pedro Alvares Cabral's shit hit land in Latin America, which was considered the first discovered sea route to Brazil, Portuguese settlers introduced sugar cane to the surrounding areas."


07 December 2006

Many Items/With Slashes

I'm about to go pick up seventy 7-10 page take-home finals in a few minutes that have to be graded this weekend, and when you have a pile of finals to grade, that's when you should take a day off and go to The Hot Springs. Or such is my thinking. Today we head up for a little hot springs in the snow/end of term action (where'd I put my bear spray?) and then on Friday continue on to throw a homemade Indian food feast/birthday celebration for my sophomore English teacher/adopted father figure/roommate's dad back in our hometown/economically depressed ghost town. Whew -- that's a lot of variant terminology. I'm sure I will complete much of my grading at his house, because it's the home of two public school teachers. They don't have time to shilly-shally around about this stuff -- that spirit of overworked and underpaid efficiency will rub off on me, right? Right? Besides, I want to finish the grading fast so that I can have time to make wreaths and my adopted stepmom can teach me to knit. So much to do! Hope you all have a great weekend!

06 December 2006

Cake, Joe

Last night was a lovely evening of cake and Everclear jell-o and birthday celebrating, in costume, as is the way of things. I take special pride in my exacto-knife stencil-creating skills, as seen below (and no fingers lost to the knife -- probably because I did it pre-jell-o). Happy birthday Saggitarians!

If you would like to start your day the right way, with a little This American Life, I recommend listening to the streaming audio of Act 3 of the 10/6/06 episode, With Great Power. All hail Joe! Joe sees all! I wish Joe could come write this syllabus that needs to get done today. I'm sleepy from staying up till 3:00 making earrings. Apparently Everclear lime jell-o + pink champagne + vodka tonics turns me into a scarily efficient factory of one. That, or my body clock has decided to reset itself to Hawaii time, in hopes I will take it there someday.

04 December 2006

Shameless Self-Promotion

So I have a shop now! Finally, you can fulfill all your dangly earring needs! Big thanks to E. and R! for their work on the pictures, which look fabulous and undoubtedly deserve most of the credit for the following. I am having a very good Monday morning, because after staying up late last night grading, I finally posted all the photos and descriptions just before midnight (along with some temporary images -- my graphic design team is currently otherwise occupied). And I woke up having sold 8 pairs while I slept! There is seriously no better way to wake up than to find that a bunch of strangers like the stuff you enjoy making and want to pay you money for it and it all happened while you were happily dreaming about Italy. I think it's partially due to the way Etsy works, kind of like Ebay, where if you're browsing for jewelry, whatever is most recently listed pops up. Still, I am revelling. That's almost as much as I make in a week of grad-studenting! Cheese for everyone tomorrow!

03 December 2006

Weekend of Festivities!

Friday was a day of Christmas tree getting and decorating at the BCC -- there was soy nog and the smell of fir needles and a kitty amongst the piles of ornaments.

Jake placing his ornaments at the back of the tree. We saved him a special space for Spiderman! Many more pictures of all the following, including tiny Santa hat portraits, on E's photo album.

Saturday was a day of fabulous double birthday celebrating with E & M -- multiple wineries, good food, good conversation, good friends, and some post-structuralism/deconstructing heteronormativity. We ended with a partial playing of The Game of Life, which is disturbingly accurate:

The birthday blondes, being adorable:

Wine makes everything hilarious:

Despite the hangover from the twelve hours straight of drinking yesterday, I still woke up this morning and made my sister-in-law a birthday brunch, which I am proud to have managed, again, given the twelve hours of drinking. I seem to have lost my voice, however. I blame Descartes. This afternoon Erin and I are attending a student's memorial on campus that requires either formal dress or pirate costumes -- this was a young woman that knew how to embrace life. There is no excuse not to celebrate the magical moments life occasionally gives us -- and this weekend has been a nonstop train of those moments. Yay for festivity! The real world will return soon enough. And we will meet it wearing prom dresses.

01 December 2006

Joyce Appleby, That Noise is Loud!

Yesterday was the last day of classes and as such I have three largely unrelated things to mention:

1) I offer you the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management prevention and control handbook. In case you encounter loud shuffling and chewing noises in the ceiling right above your head in the middle of the night, I want to save you from doing endless internet searches at 1 in the morning to learn about termite head-banging (which I must admit, made it kind of worth it -- that link refers to the termite noise as "street performers") and voles and feral dogs and magpies. At least the alligators portion of the handbook was unnecessary. I think my attic may house a few mice. I will sleep better if it's mice and not rats, due to some reading-the-last-50-pages-of-1984 adolescent trauma. It may also be squirrels. My ideal is bats. They're just cooler.

2) Based on various annoyances with a book read for a faculty seminar/discussion yesterday -- James Scott's Seeing Like A State -- and with the Atlantic article and its historians referenced below, I've decided to try using historians' names as curse words for a while, a la Jack on Will and Grace. I need to get out my irritation in some meaningful, yet also meaningless, and completely nerdy way. James Scott, that's a great idea! It's all in the inflection. Gordon Wood, that list was stupid! Kenneth Pomeranz, Scott's book is an apologia for neoliberalism that uncritically romanticizes the local! Yeah, I win the nerd hat for the day.

3) I registered for a metalsmithing class at the craft center winter quarter! Yippee -- metalsmithing!