Sunday, October 29, 2006

O lucky man

So, Otis and I bundled up like Esquimaux last night and took the scooter (on what is likely its last ride of the year) up to the warm and lovely apartment of the warm and lovely Sachet for a get-together that was ostensibly focused on pumpkin soup, but which was actually the setting for some great conversation and community.

Not that the food wasn't wonderful: Sachet's pumpkin soup was sweet and yummy, and she added little quiches and roasted punkin seeds and other goodies to the board; in addition, there was a festive autumnal salad, sweet honey bread and sour pumpernickel, nice wine, and a fresh apple crisp.

But all that culinary goodness became background for thought, and talk, and connection. With a group that included A-Man, E-rik, Silvio, Johnbai, and Dingo (and a late appearance by an after-work O), the topics of conversation ranged from the writing skills of high schoolers to future of the thermohaline system to the condition of roads in Guatemala. It was an engaging, relaxing, stimulating, enjoyable evening, the perfect cap to my day. Thanks to Sachet for spurring it and to everyone who helped realize it.

The day needed a nice nightcap, since it had been filled mostly with school work beforehand. Otis did enter the foreign world of salon hair care (more on that soon), and we took a jaunt up to Shoreline to have lunch with her grandmother, but other than that, the only break from working was a short walk we took midafternoon to keep from falling asleep over our papers. But we are filled with an extra hour of sleep today, thanks to the setting-back-of-the-clocks, so there's energy to spare for today's piles of paper.

A little slice of fun: I tripped over this (don't ask me how) and wanted you to share my slack-jawed amazement. It's Yakov Smirnoff's website.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Past and presents and futures

Tea and NPR in the pre-dawn still - how many times have I been here, at how many desks ?

I got a postal letter from my sister yesterday. She included a photo, scanned and cropped here:

Yeah, that's yours truly with my mother, Vera. I remember those duds - I have a dim recollection of their being associated with Easter, but I don't know for sure that's when this picture was taken; I may have worn them for some time afterwards as well. I must say that the pork-pie hat is pretty stylin', although I'm not so sure about the striped jacket anymore.

Vera looks pretty cool, too. I recall that she had a lot of those feathery, shell hats. Her coat is fairly plain, but dig those shoes - little strappy heels, very cool. I must admit that I have no idea what's going on with that strange handbag (although she never used that word, but called it a "pocketbook"). What is that? A quiver? An ammo case for one artillery shell? A bread carrier?

The odd sensation in response to this picture is the realization that I am older than my mother is in the photo, and when this photo was taken she had been married for thirty years and had five kids . What a different life.

By the way, she wasn't visiting me at juvenile hall; I believe that's Our Lady of Perpetual Help church behind us.

We celebrate MaryBee on her departure for Niceville, Florida; she is either in transit to the airport or actually getting on the plane even as I type these words. Here she is at her Thursday night farewell dinner, looking mock-distraught at her impending departure:

Mary is actually heading off to a great new job as the number two administrator in the Okaloosa County Public Library Cooperative (look for her name on this website soon). This is a great opportunity for her, and it allows her to move from direct library service to marketing/PR, which is her primary interest. Her parents are not too far away down the panhandle, but this is still a brave and big step for her to take: she'll be trying to integrate herself into a whole new environment, and somehow I think the Venn diagram comparing Seattle and Niceville doesn't have too much overlap to it. She has promised us a blog presence documenting her acculturation sometime soon, and we, of course, wish her all the best in her new job and her new life. Brava, Marybee!

I attended an English program meeting at Cascadia yesterday, and I actually have good feelings about the teaching part of this being a teacher business. It was great to spend a couple of hours in the company of folks who are all trying to accomplish the same goals, sharing ideas and observations. I'm excited about next quarter: in addition to a composition class with the graphic book theme, I'll be teaching a research writing class that I am looking forward to. It will be nice to have some new themes to play with; I think I'll be focusing on social class issues for the research course. For the comics-savvy, here's the reading list for the comp course:

Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers (a collection of essays)
Showcase Presents: Superman, Vol 1 (the forties and fifties)
Why I Hate Saturn
True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District
A Contract with God
Action Philosophers

Of course, all this excitement about the future doesn't assess papers by itself. I had best get busy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A quickie by remote

It has come to my attention that I have not blogged in almost 65 hours. To dispel any resultant concerns about my well-being, here I am, coming to you live from Bothell.

It wasn't that I was too busy with school work to blog; I have indeed been busy, but with lots of other stuff, like fiddling with the fireplace and trying to sell stuff and whatnot. In addition, we hosted MaryBee for a farewell dinner last night, before she heads off to the Sunshine State on Saturday.

I wish it had been responding that was keeping me from blogging over the past two days: that would mean that I wouldn't have to try to pound through twenty-five papers before my 2:00 pm meeting today. It's the same old story.

See ya soon!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I will be good... tomorrow

So, according to my self-imposed schedule, I am supposed to do about forty papers on Tuesdays (and 25 on Thursdays and fifty on Fridays). How many have I done so far? Well, as the saying goes, when I do this one and one more, I'll have done two.

No matter - like Rimmer in Red Dwarf (the movelization), I respond to this being-behindness not by working hard, but by revising the schedule. Twenty-five on Wednesday (usually an off-day), forty on Thursday, fifty on Friday, and Bob's you uncle, we're back in business.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether I'll stick to that schedule, or I'll have to re-do it again. Whatever. Today was a nice day of rain and naps and fussing around, and I regret not one second of it.


Johnbai whines a lot but then actually has a good idea at the end. Anybody up for a group version of this action? If we pool our resources, maybe we can pull off something seriously cool.

JustJon: no deck news for over two weeks! What up, dude?

Nedra is having a party and we're not there. Sometimes oceans suck. And continents can be a pain, too.

What does it say about me that I'd like to look at a painted forest more than a virgin wood? Thanks, Wheylona!

I fixed some code on The Healing Nest so it's subscribable now, but I still can't get the recent comments hack to work.

Wow, Jimbo sure writes a lot.

Something from the Green bin: treehugger, and attempt to combine eco-friendly with hip and stylin'. Does it work? You be the judge.

I know it's in German, but it's beautiful. Just click through the numbers and you'll dig the conceit.

I don;t know how I missed this two months ago, but Madman Moskowitz died. If any of you have ever listened to his programs, you know what a loss this is to local radio - to radio in general, even.

A totally cool picture.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Zena should be on

Back in the day, when I was living in Vancouver, Zena was on Sundays nights. It was the perfect way to actually call an end to the weekend and let go of the days off and precious free time, before sliding into sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of care and waking up to another Manic Monday, and stop me before I allude again.

Anyway, it's all just about wrapped up now: papers assessed, lessons planned, photocopies primed. It's too late to start another project or go out and too early to go to bed. Time to read and relax, or something like that.

It turned out to be a beautiful day today, so in addition to working, Otis and I took a turn around Green Lake in the sun. There were some chores as well this weekend, and meals to be had at home and away, and a grandma to visit, and a client in the house, too; just a textbook weekend for some working folk.

See you Tuesday.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gettin' crackin'

Okay, so last night's spectration was totally cool. Stella was the first to arrive, as usual, and she was joined promptly by Dingo (feeling a little under the weather but in good spirits) and Johnbai; MaryBee and J-Force rounded out our little audience. Otis provided tea and popcorn for all and sundry, and the movie (Dear Frankie) was heartwarming and wonderful. Selkie even made an appearance! Although various elements dropped out over the course of the post-film conversation, the evening really didn't end until well after midnight. Good stuff, Maynard!

Of course, that means that I am up and groggy and the keyboard, getting ready to hack at my do-list for the weekend. I think it's time to give up the pretense that I will ever get all my school work done between Monday and Friday and admit that I don't work five eight-hour days: I work seven five- or six-hour days. Plus a long day on Monday. Aaarghh - let's not get started on this again.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Piggyback blogging

I was just over at Johnbai's blog, checking out and responding to his recent acquisition of the comics superhero stamps. I wanted to report that while these new stamps may be the first superhero stamps, they are not the first comics stamps. I dug this out of my file cabinet:

This is the comic strip special issue that came out some years ago - whenever first class mail was thirty-two cents, obviously. Some beautiful art and history in this one, too. I got me a set, color-photocopied it (I don't think I had a scanner then), and used the stanps to mail letters.

I haven't picked up the new set yet, but when I do, I'll likely do the same thing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good times!

So, as of this moment, I am caught up on all my work. It was a little easier this week, because one of my Monday classes didn't have its usual assignment, but I'll take 'em where I can get 'em.

And I'm still basking in the Good Times from Librapalooza on Saturday night. Here's a little photo album; my camera was pooping out, so there's not much.

I have to send out mad props to Sachet and O, for providing, respectively, the venue (and all the hostly things that come with that) and the catering. The apartment was warm (!) and inviting and comfortable and great; the food was out-of-this-world. If O doesn't make a big splash in the Seattle culinary scene soon, it means this town doesn't have any taste. Stuff so good I don't even now what it was: lentil salads and sweet potato pastry and stuffed mushrooms and a cake and a cake frosting that she made from real stuff, like ginger, right there in front of us. As my buddy Royce Bemis in Charlotte, NC would say, them was some mighty fine groceries.

And Johnbai pulled out all the stops to attempt to embarrass and humiliate honor and celebrate me. The guests had all generously brought cool and funky T-shirts from Value Village or Goodwill, dozens of them, and they were mine, all mine! Except... I had to defend my ownership of them in contests of wit and skill against any challengers who desired any of the shirts. Up they came and down they went, as I sweated through trivia questions and staring contests and limbo dancing and card counting and god knows what-all else; it's all a blur now. I managed to overcome all assaults on Mount T-Shirt, except for a pebble-snatching contest against a Soapy Action Figure with dragon-hands action. Of course, most of the t-shirts got distributed out anyway, but it sure was a stressful fun way to spend a birthday party! Thanks, Johnbai!

Speaking of Johnbai, the next Good Times item is my fixing the broken banister is the hallway. The big man, if you recall, did the deed; he provided some super-mollies for the repair job, and tonight it was the work of mere moments to get the railing back up on the wall. Now, I wonder if I need to paint it yellow and black to make sure he doesn't lean on it again...

And now for the last Good Times: Here's another little movie for y'all, although I thought of Soapy first when I saw it. Three things to remember before you click:
Have your volume set, because the music is really pretty.
Let the movie load fully before it plays (or watch on a T1 connection); it's a big file, and you don't want this one to stall in the middle.
And remember that it's all real: no CGI.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Happy Baiday, John!

Okay, so this time I wasn't behind, I was just plain wrong: I thought Johnbai's birthday was later in the month, like the 21, but it's not, it was the 12. So while I celebrated it at Librapalooza, I missed it on the day. Here it is now:

Happy Birthday, John!

In keeping with the BftP theme, this is the oldest picture of Johnbai that I have - from way, way back in those halcyon days of March 2004.

Happy birthday, big guy, and especial thanks for all you did celebrate my birthday this year.

For details on that, and for more special thanks to Sachet and O for actualizing Librapalooza, you'll have to wait until Tuseday, because I still have some school work to do before I'm ready for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Diane!

In keeping with my theme-for-the-week of getting behind, I forgot to post this yesterday, on the day itself, even though I had lunch with the birthday girl. So here it is now:

Happy Birthday, Diane!

And in keeping with the theme-for-this-year of blast-from-the-past pictures, here's Dingo from who-knows-how long ago, jumping out of the picture in all her stylin' glory:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Okay, so I'm behind again...

...but this time, there's a good reason. Well, not really - I just got involved doing stuff other than school work, so my Thursday and Friday assessing did not get completed. It's not insurmountable, and not even as burdensome as last weekend. And there were some good reasons not work.

Like, yesterday, for example, there was laundry and vacuuming and whatnot, and then that just naturally led to re-organizing my closet and storing some summer stuff in the shed, right?

And today, after class, I took Dingo out for a birthday lunch, and if that took two-and-a-half hours, well, that's how long it takes, right? And then if Otis and I went to Value Village and did other errands, and had to go grocery shopping, that's all there is to it, it had to be done.

And if we had yummy home-improved pizza for dinner and watched some Battlestar Galactica DVDs Yojimbo gave me, well, that happens, no?

Oy, I'm going to have some work to do tomorrow.

On another note, since it really didn't distract me from work, as I had already given up: Selkie got into a major cat fight tonight. There are apparently three other cats around here. One is Mountain Lion, a feral guy who lives next door; he likes to share Selkie's food, and Selkie lets him, but he doesn't like people. Then there's Half-tail, who wanders through every now and again, but doesn't stay long or push his luck. But tonight, some other cat apparently encroached on Selkie's turf, and Selkie gave him what for. They were really going at it in the walkway - snarling and grappling and rolling, the fur flying everywhere. When I went out, the battle proceeded across the street to the yard of the house on the corner, the new tabby staging a fighting retreat against Selkie's advances. It calmed down after that, and a few minutes later Otis found Selkie walking through the big parking lot. He's in now, sleeping in hs basket, looking none too worse for wear.

But just a few minutes ago, we were sitting in the living room, and we heard our neighbor coming home with her three-year-old. He said something we couldn't catch and then we heard her say, "Yes, there's a lot of cat hair here - what do you think happened?"

Here's a little video treat: Dr. House singing Mystery.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Good evening

I am actually all caught up with school work and had tonight free after getting back from my last class at 5:30. Otis and I went across the street for a little dinner-date, and even headed down to Wallingford for some coffee and dessert! I spent some of the rest of the night working on my comix blog, and just had a relaxing evening for a change. If I can stay on top of my work tomorrow and Friday, I'll have a clear weekend, too.

Thnaks for the advice on the life-planning, guys. Scotty, it's not so much the learning but the regular practicing that my juggling regimen need nows; that doesn't mean you can't come by, though. Soapy, I think your one-a-day plan is inspired.

Here's a fun treat: while you are here on this page, cut and paste this into your address window and hit enter. Then try it on other pages.

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300;y5=200; DI=document.getElementsByTagName(%22img%22); DIL=DI.length;function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute';DIS.left=(Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5)+%22px%22;*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5)+%22px%22}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0)

Wheee! Via here and here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The pause that refreshes

Just got back from my morning classes a little it ago and am enjoying a cup o' tea before diving into assessing more papers. I am trying to stay on top of my schedule this week, since I don't have the birthday-distraction excuse anymore. I figure I need to clock about three to four hours of work every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday to keep my weekends clear. It's not all that much actually; it just feels pretty darn relentless sometimes. And try as I might, I can't eliminate all the last-minute instances of lesson-planning and photocopying, as those teachable moments arise and the students' needs make themselves known.

On top of this particular scheduling issue, I want to make sure I leave time for what I want to do as well as what I have to do. That includes blogging, comics blogging, "real" writing, learning to juggle, learning ukelele, and regular exercise, among other things. How do I make sure I can do the self-fulfilling stuff and the social stuff and the socially-conscious stuff as well as the work stuff? How do I fit all these activities in without scheduling every moment of my day? Mercy sakes, I'll need a bigger spreadsheet!

I would love to particiapte in NaNoWriMo, for example, but can't imagine how I would posssibly fit in writing 50,000 words in the same month that I will be reading about 500,000 words of student writing, as well as attempting to have a life of some sort. Well, maybe I can imagine it...

Teaching takes a lot of time; teaching writing classes takes a lot of time. Not so much more than actually working a real job, I guess, but it seems like there are more elements to balance. I suppose I could stay at my school(s) until 5:00 pm every day and just get everything done within a nine-to-five shift, but that doesn't sound like much fun either.

Thus ends another episode of Complaints of the Awfully Darn Lucky.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I misunderestimated

Man, that four hours of assessing I had to do today sure seemed to take a lot longer than that.

Today was another tethered day: as of 4:30 pm today, I hadn't been further away from the hosue than the mailbox since we got back from the movies Friday night. I broke my hermitage by going out for dinner with Otis, Grace, and the Putnams for some mediocre Chinese food.

We had a little cat-excitement tonight: Selkie brought a mouse home. It was still alive, held firmly but gently in his little fangs. I chased Otis upstairs and the cat outside and let nature take its course. Final score: Mouse 1, Cat 0 (the rodent got away).

Tomorrow is the looong day. See y'all around.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

10 down, 4 to go

Remember that when I got out of class yesterday, I had about 14 hours of assessing that need to be done? Well, I managed to plow through about ten hours of it, so there's a manageable two stacks left for tomorrow. Of course, I haven't been further from the house than the mailbox today, so there's definitely a trade-off there.

Last night, however, Otis and I ventured all the way to Ballard: first for grading, and then for pho with Dar-Dar and Mr. T. While we had a yummy soup-fest together and got all caught up, the happy couple wandered off to domestic bliss and didn't stay to watch Jet Li's Fearless at the Majestic Bay with us. But fear not: we were joined in the nick of time by Stella and Soapy, making it an official moovie nite.

Jet Li was wonderful and the movie was grand, combining an engaging story (that seemed to comment on Li's own recent personal development as well as telling a story about Chinese nationalism) with some breathtaking action sequences. There was some excitement in the trailers, as well: Yimou Zhang (who brought us Hero and House of Flying Daggers) has a new movie coming out, House of the Golden Cleavage Curse of the Golden Flower. It looks more epic-spectacley than the prior two.

And here's a little movie, mostly for Yojimbo, but fun for everyone.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I really should be working...

... since I have been rather nonproductive this week. Nonproductive in homework, that is; Wednesday is just about all-class, all-day, and while I had some free time yesterday, it was eaten up by meetings and lunches and errands. I reckon I have stacked up about fourteen hours of responding that absolutely, positively has to be finished by Monday. So, I guess I can start after lunch.

After all, it's not like I don't have anything else to do: I need to program my cool new phone.

I had been pondering getting a new phone, mainly because I couldn't read the time on my old one without my glasses, and partly because I was getting tired of the bar style and wanted a flip phone. But every time I went to the T-Mobile lace, the phones all cost more than i cared to pay for what was essentially a non-essential upgrade. Well, lo and behold, Otis goit a genuine no-strings-attached free upgrade, so she took it, and I took it, since she's not bored with her phone yet and can still see without glasses. No camera or internet or GPS or anything like that, just a phone.

But I still can't read the time without my glasses.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Birthdays: the welcome distraction

I didn't get a whole lot of school work done today, but I'm not going to complain aboutmy being busy or anything like that: The day was full of birthday celebrations!

Otis started it off my decorating the house with crepe paper and festive posters, so that while I was stumbloing around in the dark etting ready for class, I already had a smile on my face.

I did have to teach two classes this mornings, and biked to and from work to warm up for the Ultimate Ride for season 2006 (see below). When I got home, we had a yummy post-breakfast of sesame crunch waffles at Sunlight. Mmmmmmm.

A little bit later, we loaded the bikes on Red Renty and drive down to Gasworks Park, just so the last ride of the year didn't have a big hill at the end. Otis led the way as we cruised up the Burke to Bothell; I had no idea what I was in for, and it turned out to be a delicious Thai lunch with Stella!

As if that repast were not enough, we determined to have dessert. Luckily, downtown Bothell has a donut shop that exists in some sort of time-stasis field in which it's always 1973. We stopped in to enjoy the ambience and have some of the house specialities.

Lard, processed flour, and sugar: the taste that says "doughnut goodness."

Thus fortified, Otis and I made the trek back to the RD, dampened by the rain but with spirits high. I received, made, missed or returned birthday calls with my sisters NJ & Lin, with Dingo, and with the Putnams, and read bloggish good wishes from Yojimbo and Just Jon (who moved the observance up a few hours to coincide with K's).

Of course, we needed to go out to dinner as well, and Nana's Soup House is never a bad bet! And Otis gave me a super book (that you'll read about on the comix blog) and some comixy art of me.

To cap the evening off: grocery shopping at Safeway! (Well, we needed to do it, but it was kinda fun anyway.)

Now I need to wrap up this fun day and prepare to re-enter the world of teacherly responsibilities tomorrow. before I go, I thought I'd share this blast from the past. Since Yojimbo posted a picture from my Miami Vice period (I think it must come from 1987 or so), here's one from my cowboy-boot-wearing, motorcycle-riding, ESL-teaching phase (circa 1996):

Thanks for all the good wishes everyone! And thanks for a great day, Otis!

B1.4971K is over!

Well, my biking season is officially over, and the final tally after today's birthday ride (finished in the rain, of course) is 1,497.1 miles. Not a bad mark, even if it's not two grand. Here are some stats:

Days in the season: 186
Days with riding: 97
Total rides: 112
Longest sequence of riding days: 8 (6/30 - 7/7)
Longest sequence of idle days: 9 (9/24 - 10/2)

Average length of ride: 13.4 miles
Average speed: 13.1 mph
Longest ride: 32.6 miles
Highest sustained speed: 15.7 mph average over 15.4 miles

Some things I learned:

Round wheels roll better than flattened ones (I might need new wheels)
Long rides to work are more attractive than short rides to nowhere
Riding in the rain is not as much fun as riding in the sunshine
Hills are steeper in April than in September

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is this what 'mixed emotions' means?

I left the house fifteen hours ago to go to work.

I just got back a few minutes ago from my last class.

Five classes at three different schools in one day.

I collected about 85 papers that need responding.

And I need to send a student e-mail before I can call it quits.

And when I was walking to my car after class number four, a student ran to catch up to me to tell me how much he was enjoying being in my classes and how much it was helping him transition back to college after being away for four years. I told him that that was the purpose of the class and that his participation was really helping the class as a whole. He said no, that he was talking about my teaching style and that teaching was something I "should never give up."

He actually used those words.

Gotta make you wonder...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

This is what a weekend feels like

Well, I had thought that I got stuff done yesterday, but I guess it wasn't as much as I thought it was, since I had plenty to do today. I thought for sure that there was some schoolwork getting done in between the chores and errands and getting ready for the screening, but it seems not; and yet, neither was there any bike-riding going on. Odd how that can happen.

After doing whatever it was that took up so much of the day, we had a nice spectration in the evening. Pre-spectration activities included my cutting Dingo's hair, Johnbai and I not-fixing the banister, and Otis making like the hostess-with-neurosis and fixing all kinds of yummy foodstuffs for everyone. J-Force came early with wine but no whining, and JagGirl was no later than usual and laden with soy. Zatoichi was just as much fun the second time around (and was actually a first for half the audience).

The night didn't go so late that I wasn't up b&e checking the job world as usual (and getting the usual lack of results). I started my work early, too, but it was interrupted for a long, lazy sojourn with Farmer Scott and Yojimbo; to mark Scott's birthday, we had a big brunch, wandered the arboretum, and hung out here catching up and setting right all the ills of the world. There's a special kind of contentment that comes with conversing with people whom you've known for twenty years or more and whose insights, opinions, and expressions you respect and enjoy. Good times indeed.

Of course, that six-hour idyll had its price; I just finished my assessing and prepping a few minutes ago. Tomorrow will be a bear of a day: all five classes, all three schools, all in one day.

I think I need a bigger backpack.