Thursday, May 31, 2007

New news (but not a new record)

Yesterday's high temperature matched the record of 87 degrees for this date, and it sure felt good. It looks like good weather for the next few days, and I don't have a whole lot to do for school, so maybe I'll actually get out on the Burke-Gilman for a few miles.

I'm really online tight now just to spread the word for the Full Belly Project, the social justice project that John and Olaiya have initiated. You can read all about it on the dedicated Full Belly Blog, but in short, it combines good eating with good works: fund-raising meals to support microlending (and other) programs around the world.

It is inspiring to see people walk the walk instead of just talking about social justice, and if I know these guys, this is just the tip of the iceberg. So give them your support; I've added the event nights to the growing social calendar on the LotU Blog.

On a related note, but from the personal awareness perspective, Otis has asked an intriguing question in the Quiet Girl Gallery.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cat nap fever

What a glorious summer day! I scootered up to Bothell and then back down to NSCC for classes this morning; easy classes for me, since the students were doing all the work! It was truly a fine day to be on two wheels, even in traffic.

I came home for a solo late lunch (Otis is out visiting her visiting brother) to find cats melting in various spots around the place. They have since shifted spots, but are still basically puddles of goo.

I have been lounging about with all the doors and windows open, letting the sun stream in and the warm air waft about. Could it be?! Is the true beginning of summer?! Do you believe in the interrobang!?

Actually, I haven't just been lounging; I have been working, too. The end of the quarter doesn't have a rush this time - I spaced out the final assignments better - but I do need to prepare syllabi for the summer and such. Not that I'm killing myself here, y'unnerstand.

Anyway, here's a cartoon for Soapy, just because making fun of 300 never gets old:

(Check out theWarehouse; some good stuff there)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Now this is what I'm talking about

In the seventies today and hitting eight tomorrow. No more excuses for not being on the bike if this kind of weather continues! Seriously, I have made a bad start to the biking season, and have essentially frittered away the spring. Now that we are in "emotional summer," I hope that I can be a little more consistent. Walks around the lake are nice, but I have to roll some miles.

Yesterday was a long and full day. Otis and I were doorbusters at Ikea; she needed some stuff for her business and we were picking up some stuff for the house. We looked at some furniture, but walked away with what we could fit in one of their yellow bags and were home before lunchtime. Pretty painless. The rest of the day was filled with off-and-on work and walks and errands, and we got to spend a good part of the good part outside, so we'll call it good.

One of the things I did was commit to a seminar down in Portland with Scott McCloud, the subject of the abortive book-signing the other day. I figure that if I am serious about this comic scholarship, I should be devoting some resources to it, so I signed up for an intensive graphic novel class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Because I am teaching, I can only attend the two-day session that McCloud will be giving; I wish that I could have signed up for the whole week, but this is a start, anyway. It's at the end of June, after I get back from Vegas.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Let us honor on Memorial Day all those who gave their lives in service while doing their duty, and let us hope that our country never squanders the sacrifice that so many are willing to make.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Weekend wow-ness

What a jam-packed holiday weekend this is turning out to be.

Yesterday was supposed to be a work day for me while Otis was having appointments all day, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Otis did work, but I wound up doing not-work while waiting for Les Schwab to tell me that brake work to Otis's car would cost three and a half bills and that they couldn't do it until Tuesday. Still, I had a nice walk along the Fremont Canal, and a nice time at Canal Coffee in between taking care of business.

Anecdote the first: Since I left the car with Les, I needed to make my way home from Ballard, but I also needed a bit of lunch. As I worked my way up 15th Avenue and got navigational aid from Stella, I saw the big blue sign in front of me and decided to try out the Veggie Burger at Burger King (knowing I would never even get Otis inside a BK). It had been close to three years since I was inside a fast-food restaurant that wasn't Subway, so I felt a little lost in the protocols; the place had the same funky smell I remembered and not much seemed to have changed besides me. For $5.02, I got a meal of a veggie burger, fries,and a soft drink. The burger was actually quite tasty, with nice fresh tomatoes and lettuce on it; the fries were okay and not too greasy; the soda was the same as anywhere. I was in and out in about eleven minutes, even though I was reading someone's leftover newspaper while I ate. If it wasn't participating in in the Evil Economy, I'd go there again sometime.

In addition to telephony with Stella, I also talked to Johnbai, Soapy, Dingo, and J-Force at various points during the day, setting up the evening movie event. In the end, Dingo, Otis and I met at the Crest for Pan's Labyrinth; J-Force saw Miss Potter at the same time with some library pals and joined us afterwards in the lobby; and Soapy didn't see anything but met us for afters at 3PBR.

Pan's Labyrinth was a moving, affecting film. Otis was surprised by the amount of time the narrative spent in reality, and how brutal that reality was; she was expecting a movie set more in the fantasy realm. But the story was compelling and the film's portrayal of cruelty and meanness absolutely necessary and realistic. The special effects were wonderful and never overwhelmed the actors or the story, a rare feat in these CGI-heavy days. The interplay between the fantastical world and the real world was complex, and the layers of symbolism and structural parallels in the narrative warrant a sustained analysis. In the end, I felt that I had gotten a whole lot of story from the experience.

The afters kept us out late, but we were up and at 'em early. Otis was doing some personal work with a colleague in the morning, so I took myself to the Wallingford Tully's (as usual) and plowed through a stack of essays. I get a lot of work done when I'm away from home.

Anecdote the second: While at Tully's, a party of three sat down at the next table, two older gentlemen and a woman of a certain age. They were having an animated conversation and were a bit loud and distracting. I thought about getting annoyed, but then remembered how often I have been at coffee shops for afters, having a ripping good time and laughing and carrying on, and just let it be. When the group got up to leave, the woman came over to chat with me. She said that she was a recently retired English professor from SPU and that she could tell I was an English teacher by how I was grading. We talked shop for a minute, and then she apologized for talking loudly and explained that one of her gentlemen friends had been losing his hearing lately and that it was hard to keep him included in their visits. It was an educational and instructive encounter, and brought home to me in a very real way the truth behind all the cliched aphorisms and shibboleths about not judging someone until walking in their shoes and presuming the best of everyone and all that. I was glad that I had had the good sense to be gracious.

After lunch today came a short nap and more work; I am actually posting this from yet another coffee shop while Otis works her way through her stack of papers. Sorry we didn't get down to see Soapy at Folklife, but the will just wasn't there to face the crowds. This week is going to be summer-sized, so maybe there will be the chance for some outdoor goodness.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sierpinksi, Cantor, Menger, and Koch, Attys-at-Law

Dingo responded to my recent posting on the Golden Spiral with a reference of her own to a wonderful mathematical construct: the Sierpinski Triangle:

A little bit of exploring on the intartubes brought me into the wonderful world of fractals, which holds so much more than merely the popular Mandelbrot set. Looking through the websites I encountered, I felt a little bit of the excitement that theoretical mathematicians must get from Figuring Stuff Out - until, of course, that point (which occurs in any summary of mathematical phenomena) when the ratio of intelligible to unintelligible symbols in a given sentence reaches a tipping point and I might as well me reading Hungarian. Anyway, there are some beautiful images in this field; do your own search for some of the names in the title.

Besides the normal blah-blah-blah of teaching and whatnot, the "highlight" of yesterday was supposed to my attending a signing event at Zanadu comics. Comics guru Scott McCloud is on a 50-state tour to promote his new book, Making Comics. I went down, and the scene was what you would expect, I guess: Scott at a table and a line of people stretching through the store, each person in turn stepping up, presenting a book to be autographed, and exchanging a few minutes of conversation with the author.

I hung around for a bit, but really couldn't get into the process. I hadn't brought anything to have signed, but that was because I just don't get the whole autograph business anyway. I would like to have had a few minutes with Scott, to talk about using comics in the classroom, but standing at a table with twenty people lined up behind me didn't seem to be the way I wanted to do it, and besides, I try to avoid standing in lines for anything if I can help it. In the end, I just hung around a bit and eavesdropped on some of the conversations before packing it in. I'll try to find a more suitable venue - such as a seminar of a presentation - in which to interact with the sensei.

The part of yesterday's plan that did not go awry was the having-a-great-dinner part. Otis and I met Dingo, and eventually Johnbai and O, at Piecora's. The food was great but the company was even better, and reminded me of the value of wide-ranging, intelligent conversation with interested and interesting people. Sweet.

Just cuz I dig hardhat deep-sea divers, here's the Jumble I did the other day. (For all you Bogglists (Bogglers? Bogglados? Bogglistas?) out there, this took about 45 seconds to complete.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

I should be exercising...

... but I'm not. Otis just went for a run (around the lake?) but I'm just sitting here.

We both took a nice walk around Green Lake yesterday morning. It was a good stretch, and we saw something odd: the fish were thrashing about in the lily-pads something fierce. We saw splashes and bubbles and ripples and waves and half-expected the formaldehyde-mutant from Host to come rampaging up the walking path. We couldn't figure out if, in fact, it was just fish (although we caught glimpses of fins), if they were in distress (as opposed to just feeding or something), or if it was just some kind of normal behavior that looked worse than it was. I called a pal at the county who would know, but she wasn't at her desk, so in the end, we responded to it as we do to so many unexplained or unknown things: we walked away and continued in our ignorance.

Nothing else especially out of the ordinary happened yesterday, except that I forgot to turn off my scooter when I was out at a coffee shop (a cool new-to-me place: World Cup, just down the street) and ran the battery down. I had it attached to the handy-dandy charger all night and systems are green now; I'll put it back in this morning.

Last night, J-Force, Kris-10 and Rye-N (sounds like a robot task force) joined Otis and I to go see the Roosevelt High School production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. The play isn't as acid-trippy as the movie; it has been modified to remove some cultural insensitivity and to highlight the "true love" theme a bit more. Some good songs were lost, with nothing exceptional to replace them, and the telescoping of the story leads to an uneven narrative arc. The only great improvement is the addition of choreography for the tap-dancing steno pool.

The RHS production was marked by some exceptional talent: the principals all had pipes that wouldn't quit, and there was no fault in any of the vocal performances (except perhaps for that of Muzzy, the Carol Channing role from the movie, which needed less technique and more selling-the-song than the young woman was able to give). The acting was decent by high school standards, although some of the blocking and stage picture choices were puzzling.

One issue with the production was its use of the new $3.1 million (as we were specifically informed in a pre-curtain announcement) theatre at the high school. The proscenium stage is huge and very deep (but not raked); the director filled this space with a huge ensemble, a-tappin' and a-dancin' away. This is cool: a lot of students get to participate, it's impressive-looking, and everyone is happy. Unfortunately, the stage design did little in the way of filling this vast, desolate tundra with anything else, so when the scenes got more intimate, the sense of place was all out of whack. The scenes rarely conveyed any feeling of boundaries or walls; every encounter seemed to be taking place in the middle of a field or a deserted warehouse instead of in an office or a city street.

Other than that, there were the usual troubles with microphones cutting out and wandering spotlights and scene-change delays (this is an ambitious project for a high school, even an affluent one) and pacing, but nothing unusual for a high school play.

In the end, the Millie-maniacs (and J) enjoyed the show, and that is the most important thing.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Charlotte, they called it "Winzy"

The clock is clearly winding down on the quarter. Yesterday was my "long" day, but it was pretty low wattage as the bulk of the activity has moved to the students by now (as well it should).

Otis had a low-key day, too. After pulling an all-day chair massage gig with b on Tuesday, she took Wednesday off, got her own regular massage, and had lunch with her mother. I think she even watched American Idol.

I did finally connect by phone with the Whatcom VP, and he did offer me a job (looks like one of top four pulled out and they had to go to the bench). I, of course, declined, but I have to say it was nice to get another offer.

An additional positive benefit of this job business has been connecting with some pals after too long a time. Sometimes it takes exceptional news - good or bad - to crack the ice of inertia and help us re-establish contact with people we should never have lost touch with in the first place.

I must also say that from a certain perspective, I have had it easy with this process. I have only been adjuncting for three years, and really only looked for a job through two September cycles. In Washington, the average length of service as an adjunct before becoming full-time is eight years. It's a wonder to me that the institutions can keep the number of qualified educators that they do.

Now, if I could just get the miles clicking on the bike, all would be right with the world...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I got a phone message today from the VP up at Whatcom CC, the one who said I came in fifth out of four for the full-time position there - or first runner-up. He said to call him back tomorrow; I wonder what he wants.


This is for Yojimbo:


Shhhhh! I found a housewarming present for Jon of Monmouth! I know how much he likes these.


I thought that upon this occasion of returning to the ranks of the fully-employed, I ought to get a new tat. I have longed been intrigued by Phi, also known as the Golden Ratio. A common representation is this:

This Golden Rectangle, supposedly the most aesthetically pleasing rectangle, has sides with the Golden Ratio of 1: 1.618.... This is the same proportion created when you divide a line segment into two unequal parts such that the ratio of the big piece to the little piece is the same as the ratio of the whole segment to the big piece. This ratio is also reflected in the Fibonacci sequence, which is the series of numbers which are the sums of the previous two numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... The proportion between adjacent two numbers in the sequence converges on Phi.

Golden Rectangles and the Golden Ratio abound in nature and in art. For example, you can create a spiral from the Golden Triangle, called, naturally, the Golden Spiral:

This is the same spiral formed by the nautilus shell.

Innyway, I like the idea of having a tat focused on the concept. But what? A rectangle? A spiral? The Greek letter phi? Whaddaya think?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thanks for the memory

So, since I bounce around so much from computer to computer (even more now with the laptop), I have been keeping all my school files on a flash drive / thumb drive / memory stick / whatever the heck we're supposed to call them. I have a 512 MB unit with my Excel spreadsheet grade books, lessons, assignment rubrics, graphics, and all that stuff on it. I back it up regularly, but it sure makes life easier.

Today, when I pulled it out of the classroom computer at NSCC, it looked like this:

The formerly straight USB plug was bent at almost a 45-degree angle. This might be a cool design feature, but it was actually an accidental bend, probably occurring while it was in my pocket.

Needless to say, this worried me. It seemed to work fine, but I would hate to lose that data unexpectedly. When I got home, I immediately backed everything up again, and then started to play with the unit. I straightened out the plug, but something started to rattle around inside. The unit seemed to be working, but did not recognize the 'eject' command; it would give me the Danger! warning when I would take it out. Thinking the rattley bit might have something to do with that, I popped open the red plastic housing. A tiny little metal piece, about the size of the ball in a ball-point pen, fell out, but I couldn't tell where it had come from. The funny part was that the naked circuit board worked just perfectly - and looked really cool, too! (The power light was a whole lot brighter).

I figured that leaving the circuit board naked probably wasn't a good idea, no matter how cool it looked, so I snapped the unit back together and wrapped some tape around it for good measure. It appears to be working fine.

I guess the moral of the story is that those things aren't as fragile as we think, or I'm really lucky.


Yesterday was mostly work, but in the evening we did watch The Trouble with Harry, Alfred Hitchcock's black comedy about hiding a corpse, which stars John Forsythe as a flaky artist (?!) and marks Shirley MacLaine's screen debut. It was quite a change-of-pace for Hitchcock; I found it engaging, amusing, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I left home yesterday to roam around while Otis had some appointments. I hied myself to the Wallingford Tully's for a bagel and some browsing (what did I do before I had a laptop anyway?) while waiting for the rest of the world to wake up.

I went down to Gasworks Park for the PB&J. Dingo was still waking up and didn't want to bike, but Johnbai was game and said he would roll down the hill on his antique road bike. I made a little tour out to Ballard while waiting for him to reach the B-G Trail. The good news was our rendezvous was accomplished with little difficulty; the bad news was that Johnbai had a flat. We attempted repairs, but they didn't take, so we just took a nice walk back to the car and called it good. So much for the bike ride.

While drowning our sorrows in iced coffees, Dingo called and wanted company, so we zipped back up the hill for a Deluxe lunch, made even tastier when Silvio showed up. Dingo and I then took Johnbai home and met Sachet at their building, just before she took off on a mysterious mission. Dingo and I capped off the day by taking some goods up to the Value Village, and I dropped her off at the University Street Fair before heading home. Whew!

In contrast, the evening was very mellow. Otis had some grading to do after dinner, and then we just lay around the living room in the dark, listening to Amanda Wilde's "Swing Years" and taking turns petting the cat.

The big controversy discussed at lunch is the impending "obsolescence" of television sets. On February 17, 2009, broadcasters will begin transmitting digital signals only; analog TV broadcasts (the way they are now) will be no more. What that means is that old sets that receive signals through rabbit ears or antennae, and even old "cable-ready" sets that have the coax running directly into the set, will go dark at midnight - at least without a converter box. Fancy new sets and sets which use cable or satellite converter boxes already will not be affected, as they either have digital tuners in them or do the digital-to-analog conversion already. Here's a pretty good story from MSNBC, and I really like this proposed warning label.

All of this came up because Dingo was getting rid of an old TV (see above) and Jon of Monmouth has gotten a new one. Since many of us don't watch much TV and watch it on the computer a lot anyway, it wasn't an urgent item; I just love these culture-wide transitional moments - when Sweden changed to right-hand drive, when Europe went to the Euro, stuff like that. I imagine this event will be in the background of some movie someday.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mind, body, and soul

So, the package came late yesterday and early this morning I installed new memory into my G4 800Mhz "desk lamp" iMac, bringing the RAM into this stylish but somewhat antiquated machine to its maximum 768 MB. (I think I can get more if I have the dealer do it.) I wanted some more memory almost on principle, but also because I have been having trouble watching embedded videos, and I thought it would help. Well, I have been browsing a bit this morning, and the YouTube stuff seems to be streaming fine, but occasional clips still give me trouble - the Colbert Clip on Wheylona's blog, for example, is out of synch and keeps dropping out. I had thought - and still think - that there must also be a driver or codec issue going on, but I have downloaded every plugin I could find and have checked every forum I could fin, and I still can't figure out what's missing. Any ideas?

I'm looking out the window and I'm still not sure if the PB&J ride will be happening today; it was raining pretty hard a while ago, and the weather guys say showers on and off all day today. I'm going to put the rack on the car and the bike on the rack, and I'll be roaming around from about 9:30 am until about 3:15 pm while Otis works today, and I'll make sure I'm down at Gasworks Park at 11:30, but I make no specific promises. I want to ride, but not so strongly that I want to get real wet while doing it.

Last night, Otis and I went up to Edmonds so she could walk around the Convention Center with her name tag on as an On Wing Artist at the Puget Sound Bird Fest. One of her pieces was being shown in the juried art show associated with the Fest, and Otis had the pleasure of being informed by the show coordinator that hers was one of the more controversial pieces, generating a lot of buzz from viewers. The Putnam Clan, Sailor Sue, Sarry and Warry, and Gale all came out in support, as did Kris-10, whose late arrival led into a late-night snack -- and a late-night home. (Sorry to have to miss Johnbai and the gang in their post-arachnid disappointment.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Good stuff

Today's tidbits are brought to you (for no particular reason) by the Imaginary Airship Association

Yesterday was a pretty darn good day, with at-home work, in-class work, and at-coffee-shop work coming in turns, and a nice long walk in the Ravenna Crevasse and dinner at the Bombay Grill (with a coupon) for the fun bits. Here's hoping today is half as mellow.

Tonight is Otis's artists' reception up in Edmonds. It's a long way out from our usual stomping grounds, but it should be a pleasant, sunny evening, so if you're looking for a mini road-trip, stop by.

I want to comment on two recent bloggings that I think are outstanding:

Yojimbo's serial review of the "'I Want' Songs of Howard Ashman" is just marvelous. It has a strong conceit, is well-delivered, and displays the kind of critical thinking and compositional unity that I try to get across in my classes. Yojimbo supports his analysis of this musical trope with appropriate multi-media items, tying the whole thing up in a neat package that is a perfect example of long-form blogging. I don't know why he's giving this stuff away for free, when it could be an article in a "real" magazine. Now, if we could just get him to change that black background...

Johnbai's essay about his side trip to Ireland from Brussels starts out as one of those who-I-saw-and-what-I-drank posts, but somehow magically changes into a thoughtful observation on world affairs, building a strong metaphor almost accidentally and sustaining it through the rest if the piece. A small jewel.

I like that I was here at the start of this tiny little pocket universe of blogging that we have built; I like even better seeing how everyone has advanced the cause, each in his or her own way. Whenever I am about to begin thinking that I waste too much time blogging, items like this come up, and I don't.

Back in the real world: Otis has some appointments mid-day tomorrow, so I'm thinking of taking a PB&J bike ride. You remember those, right? You pack a lunch, meet at someplace like Gasworks Park, as some time like 11:30 or so, and ride out to someplace like Matthews Beach, and eat your sammich, and ride back? Anyone up for that on Saturday? I'll be there, no matter what. I need to get some miles in, but I need them to be flat. Come on out, why dontcha?

It my short-but-sweet-soapbox speech yesterday morning, I forgot to mention that Wednesday we celebrated the First of Jenuary. Old pal J-Force, as we all do from time to time, is taking some specific steps for renewal and growth; in aid of that, Otis and I passed part of the day with her, lunching in Ballard and watching late-night melodramas together. Three cheers for self-actualization!

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chop wood, carry water

Well, I haven't actually gotten the letter yet, but I have received some emails, so I guess it wasn't all a delusion episode. The funny thing is that as big a deal as this is, nothing will really change (besides my attitude) until September: I need to finish out the quarter (obviously) and my summer teaching plans will remain unchanged.

I wish that getting a position like this one wasn't the big deal that it is; those who choose teaching should be able to find work with less hullabaloo; there's certainly a need for teachers in the community. My own college offers enough English classes every quarter to keep between eight and twelve full-timers busy, yet the current staff totals only four (moving to five this September). This means that the majority of English classes (most of which are core, required classes) are being taught by part-timers. There are a lot of economic and policy reasons for this, but it still doesn't add up to right or fair, and I can't help but think that the establishment of universal health care would go a long way toward eliminating this imbalance, since benefits costs seem to be the primary factor.

Okay, soapbox off. I should be thanking everyone who sent their congratulations and good wishes, so now I am. Few things are more gratifying than the sincere support of good friends, and I have felt that in spades over the past twenty-four hours. Thanks, gang!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Let's not bury the lede

Lake Forest Park (Rooters): Today at about 8:30 pm PDT, Walaka was offered a full-time tenure-track faculty position at Cascadia Community College. The offer came via telephone from a Vice President of the College. Walaka took the call on his cell phone in the food court of Third Place Books, where he had just been attending a book reading by noted author Michael Chabon.

The offer is official, and provisional only to the extent that a written offer will come forthwith from the President of the College; Walaka will be expected to reply to the offer in writing as well. Upon offer and acceptance, Cascadia Human Resources will determine the exact starting salary according to the current collective bargaining agreement.

Full-time status at Cascadia for Walaka will begin in September 2007, and will bring to an end three calendar years of adjunct teaching, during which time he will have taught the equivalent of four-and-a-half academic years at full load.

Walaka received the phone call in the company of Otis, J-Force, and new pal Marian the Librarian, who were enjoying coffee or tea and dessert in the bookstore/mall complex.

The job offer capped an already splendid day for Walaka, which had included an unexpected visit from Ms. Matcha and BabyKoa and a long walk in the afternoon sun, as well as teaching a noon class.

Monday, May 14, 2007

End of the weekend and beginning of the week

So, Mother's day Sunday didn't turn out to be as nice as expected. Otis and I still had lunch in Madison Park with Mater and Pater Putnam, but we did not avail ourselves of the patio seating. It was a nice, if grey, view of lake Washington nonetheless.

The overcast day actually encouraged our respective grading processes in the afternoon and evening. We spent about three hours working in Tully's, had dinner, and spent another couple hours working at home afterwards. But we both got all caught up!

Today, on the other hand, was just a splendid day. I taught in the morning, and then had a catching-up lunch with A-Wo (the artist formerly known as Invisible Adam). Otis and I managed a walk in the sun this afternoon and then the entire Putnam clan came over for pizza to welcome one brother back for a visit from California and see the new (seven weeks old) son of other. It was a merry full house.

Tomorrow is supposed to be summer with a capital summ; I have to teach at noon, but I hope we can work some going out and about in there before the reading tomorrow evening.

That said, here's a little linkfarm!

Bruce Wayne, fat cat capitalist exploiter.

Obligatory cute animal video, with a twist.

A quiz that Yojimbo should ace.

I'm not a gearhead, and I still think this is cool.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

As it turned out, not much

Got done yesterday, that is. Well, as far as school stuff goes anyway. I did complete some job application work and household budget stuff and whatnot, but life and the world and weather beckoned, and I answered the call, so something had to give.

In what has become a fine, fine tradition, Dingo and Sachet inspired/instigated a gathering in Volunteer Park for badminton and shooting the breeze. Johnbai brought comestible delights from faraway lands; Andres(2) made an appearance after along time (from this perspective, anyway); Cal and Merry (recent emigrants from the lesser white north) came bearing home brew. Everyone except the under-the-weather Otis joined in the athletic activities; everyone enjoyed the company and the conversation. Good times, gang.

When Otis and I made our way home in late afternoon, it was to get some bidness done, have dinner, and watch Hilary and Jackie, a biopic from a few years ago about sister musicians. It was powerful at moments, although I wasn't quite satisfied with its overall structure, which felt a little contrived.

So, we'll put yesterday in the win column, as far as enjoyment and self-satisfaction go; today we (I) will need to make up for all the work we (I) didn't do. But that can wait until after lunch.


In the spirit of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis (mere et fille), I offer to all my family members and friends who have taken up the responsibility of of ensuring the perpetuation of the race in that most direct of ways best wishes for a Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Good day and prom night

Yesterday was swell! After a pretty nifty morning, I proctored an in-class essay for my noon class, and then scootered over to Nordstrom at Northgate. After showing my visa at the door, I went in and found some nice dress knee socks, suitable for formal kilting. Success!

Since Otis was busy, I took the opportunity to scooter up to Cap Hill to welcome Johnbai back from his trip abroad. He gifted me with a Belgian comic purchase, a French-language story set in Southern California about five luchadores who fight werewolves, tiki warriors, and dinosaurs. Cool! He also brought back some peach plutonium for Otis: apparently, a few drops in anything turns it super-peachy. Even more than his presents, I enjoyed his presence as we sat at a sidewalk cafe and enjoyed burrito (him) and smoothie (me). Welcome back!

The evening was set aside for the Cascadia Formal Ball Cruise. Stella and Sairey came by the house and we all headed down to the waterfront to spend the night on a private Argosy harbor cruise. Of course, we had the obligatory mug shots first:

Now that is some Celtic attitude

Formal Stella

Thoroughly Modern Otis

It's the socks, dude!

The ball was actually quite fun. There were about 150 people there, mostly students but with a goodly sprinkling of staff and faculty. There was no alcohol, but the soft drinks flowed freely and there were good hors d'oeuvre and desserts - including a Fountain o' Chocolate into which guests could dip strawberries, marshmallows, decadent creme puffs, and I guess anything else they wanted to. The deejay wasn't the best I've ever heard, and the tunes leaned heavily to beat-box rap, but there was a good chunk in the middle portion of the night when he played some rock and disco , so we all had a chance to cut the rug a bit. The night was beautiful and Elliot bay was mostly calm, so it was a fine experience all the way around.

Of course, it seems that the student government subsidized the event to the tune of about $60 per person, so I don't think we could quite get the same bang for our fifteen bucks as we did last night ever again. I also wonder just how much gasoline we used motoring around the sound for three hours. So it goes.

Today's agenda is supposed to include a great deal of work, but it's so nice out I don't know how much is actually going to get done. Johnbai wants to play in the park, and I think that might happen sooner rather than later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Another nice day!?

Looks like the semi-summerness we've been having will continue for another day. I'm sure liking the whole opening-up-all-the-windows business, as well as the relaxing-in-the-yard business and the riding-bike-and-scooter business, too.

Another needy-cat morning today, but that's cool.

Besides one class today, I still need to run to a store somewhere and find some black knee-socks to match the dress kilt. We went to REI yesterday, looking for hiking-type stuff, but no luck (although I did get some biking pants). I think I'll try the soccer store on Lake City Way and maybe Macy's for some old-school old-man socks.

I also need to run out and get tickets for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Since it's just down the street, we can buy them in person. Anyone else up for this? It's just two weeks away!

Speaking of deadlines, have y'all heard about the postal rate increase on Monday? It's not just a rate increase: the new rules have re-defined what can go as a first class letter. Here's an excerpt from the new rules:

1.0 Physical Standards for Letters

1.1 Dimensional Standards for Letters

Letter-size mail is:

a. Not less than 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007-inch thick.

b. Not more than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or more than 1/4-inch thick.

c. Not more than 3.5 ounces.

d. Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides. Letter-size, card-type mailpieces made of cardstock may have finished corners that do not exceed a radius of 0.125 inch (1/8 inch). See Exhibit 1.1d.

In addition, even if you meet the size criteria, there are other criteria

1.2 Nonmachinable Criteria

A letter-size piece is nonmachinable (see 6.4) if it has one or more of the following characteristics (see 601.1.4 to determine the length, height, top, and bottom of a mailpiece):

a. Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.

b. Is polybagged, polywrapped, or enclosed in any plastic material.

c. Has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.

d. Contains items such as pens, pencils, or loose keys or coins that cause the thickness of the mailpiece to be uneven (see 601.11.18, Odd-Shaped Items in Paper Envelopes).

e. Is too rigid (does not bend easily when subjected to a transport belt tension of 40 pounds around an 11-inch diameter turn).

f. For pieces more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, the thickness is less than 0.009 inch.

g. Has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.

h. Is a self-mailer with a folded edge perpendicular to the address if the piece is not folded and secured according to

i. Booklet-type pieces with the bound edge (spine) along the shorter dimension of the piece or at the top, unless prepared according to 201.3.13.

Near as I can tell, the only thing that is going to go First Class anymore are #10 envelopes with four or five sheets of paper, and birthday cards. Anything else gets bumped to "flat" or "parcel" and will cost about forty cents more for the same weight. So, the little thing I sent Jon of Monmouth yesterday would be rated up just because the envelope had a clasp on it, even if didn't have that little bump in it, and the DVD I mailed to Calico Mom couldn't be first class because it was too rigid.

I understand that this all has to do with the increasing mechanization and automation of the system, but I can see it requiring a trip to the post office every time I have to mail something, just to make sure I have the right postage on the piece.

Oh, and postcards went up two cents, too.

Hey, isn't Johnbai back yet?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's the cat's meow

I got up about an hour ago (and it was a lot sunnier then!) and went to check the cats, both of whom spent the night outside. Mountie just wanted to eat, but Selkie came in and started following me around. I tried to pass him off to Otis, who was still sleeping, but he wasn't having any of it: he had decided he wanted head-butts and chin scratches and that he wanted them from me. I had to pay a lot of attention to him while my morning Welsh tea (thanks, Stella!) was steeping; I guess it was sufficient, since he eventually went back outside for breakfast and his morning constitutional.

Yesterday was a decent day, work-wise: I had the students doing most of the heavy lifting, and personal conferences for my evening class. The next two days will mostly comprise proctoring writing, so I should slide into the weekend pretty smoothly. After being taken to school by Jon of Monmouth yesterday, I am going to try to clock some miles on the bike more than just to NSCC and back, too. Oh, and I got an email yesterday that included this:

Due to delays in completing our 2007-2008 Budget Review process, we will not be able to confirm our decisions on the hiring of full-time tenure track positions by May 10th ... we anticipate being able to begin making offers around May 17 or 18.

So, I have to wait another week to find out which way the thumb is pointing. No big deal, in the long run, anyway; the job doesn't start until September. It does mean that I have to complete some backup-plan job applications that I had thought I could postpone pending official notice from Cascadia, so that's something else I'll be doing this weekend.

I also have to find some black knee socks. Otis and I will be joining Stella and Sairey at the Cascadia formal dance cruise on Friday night. I'll be wearing my gray serge kilt and debuting my formal jacket, but I realized I don't have any appropriate socks. Ah, the travails of a beau brummel, eh?


Here's a deal I've been meaning to post for a month:

Which of these are the plots of Archie comics and which are the plots of indie films from the latest Madison, Wisconsin Film Festival?

1) In three days the local high school is holding a talent show, and four friends hatch a plan to learn a few pop tunes in time for the concert. But crisis looms when one the only girl who knows how to play has to drop out. The only replacement available is Son, a Korean exchange student. Can they pull it off?

2) A Vietnam veteran begins a harrowing voyage of redemption as he coaches a high school baseball team.

3) When a couple of guys attending the Air Guitar World Championships realized that no American was participating, they create a U.S. contest to decide who will represent the country and rock for the Red, White and Blue.

4) Could you survive in a world without oil? An unexpecting everyman wakes up to this nightmare.

5) What is a man without a car? Left without a ride, two heroes band together to enter a vehicle building competition with a first prize of a car. On the way, they learn a valuable lesson about ingenuity and stick-to-it-iveness

6) Curious about how so much corn gets into our food supply, two city folk move to farm country and buy one single acre of corn — a little corner patch in a huge field.

7) Terry is a teacher who supervises the detention period and his life is getting dull. Feeling like the discipline that he's required to dole out is stealing away some of his soul, he decides to play nice with the two students in today's session.

8) A cartoonist gets a chance of a lifetime – but is it worth dropping out of school?

Original posting and the answers are here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It's all about Jon

For right now, at least.

Good Jon of Monmouth: not only did he speedily send a nice dollop of memory to boost Otis's laptop, today he matched my entire season-to-date biking tally in one swift ride.

Other news: work, homemade yam fries for lunch, scooter in the sun, coming to you from Antioch before my evening class.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Amateur night

That's where I'm broadcasting from right now - courtesy of open mike at Third Place Books. The constant line-up of would-be folksingers represents a lot of enthusiasm, if uneven talent.

I was commenting on the vagaries of self-employment and the academic life earlier today. On the one hand, Otis and I had a relatively free morning; I didn't have to go anywhere until noon and was back by 1:30. Most people have to leave the house early and stay at work all day. On the other hand, I was responding papers all afternoon, and again for an hour or more after dinner, and Otis was reading high school projects. So I guess the difference is all in the arrangement, eh?

We did make it out to Golden Gardens yesterday; here are some more "summer" snapshots:

Walaka looking tough, if not buff.

Otis, making the same moves as every Japanese ESL student I've ever had

Today was just as nice - I rode to school, but didn't get another chance after that. The weather turned abruptly right about 5:45 pm - the temperature must have dropped ten degrees in as many minutes. I could stand as much spring as we could get, myself.

Oh, and some good news: I thought I lost two paychecks, but I didn't. Yay.

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's so sunny!

Item: The previous post was a shout-out to ScottyTuxedo, with whom I spoke yesterday by the miracle of wireless telephony, and who told me he reads the blog every morning. He's content in Denver, working on projects as well as his honeydew list. Wifey GinaTiara is thriving as well. We miss them and hope to see them both soon.

Okay, so maybe this is not going to be a good biking year. Yesterday never really got pretty out (not like today!) so I worked in the morning, then took a break, then worked all afternoon. During my break, I scootered up to Cap Hill to have lunch with Dingo. We took a little walk and discovered Streissguth Gardens, a tiny public park on the north end of Broadway, down the Blaine steps from 10th. It was a delightful spot, well worth a stop on any walk in the area. So, some activity, but no biking.

I don't know if I'll ride today, either. Otis and I were talking about hitting Golden Gardens, so we'll likely scooter over there and then take a walk.

Otis spent all day yesterday making art, and she developed several nice encaustic pieces. I imagine you'll see them in the Quiet Girt Gallery soon.

Hey, I saw Sunni-V today! He was acting ex officio at a workshop put on by N*W*C at Cascadia. It was good to check in; he's another one too long absent from festivities.

Good morning, Scotty!

The rest of you will get the joke later.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

There's still room for surprise

Last night, we had an impromptu Spectration; J-Force and Dingo swung by to help us finish off the remains of the salsa and chips and to watch what turned out to be a pretty decent movie: The Lake House. I had passed this by when it was it first came out, since the one-two punch of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock just about kayoed any hope that this would be a well-acted film. And it's not, really; the principals give decent enough performances within their limitations (Bullock's lack of range, Reeves's lack of talent) but that's not what is appealing. The film deftly presents the idea of communication across time and considers the idea of what the past can give to the present, as well as what the future could. The not-quite-parallel realities are handled about as well as can be, reminding me of Sliding Doors in tone if not in structure, and some nifty visuals represent the deepening communication between the two principals. Only the Hollywood ending complicates the time-theory (and the plot), but it wasn't enough to ruin the film for me.

Tidbits: The film was based on a Korean movie, Siworae, which we now want to see. And J-Force got the DVD from the library; just the right price to pay for any Keanu flick! Thanks, J!

Other watching than a fun movie, yesterday was filled with responding and teaching a segment of a graduate class at Antioch, which was cool because I got to pilot part of the class about comics I will be teaching in a year. Otis was mostly working during the day, and I made a pretty good shepherdess pie for dinner. I had a chance to talk to JustJon on the phone, and it looks like he may have a partial solution to our computer memory problem.

Today I hope to get a decent bike ride in before diving back into responding. Where's that darn sun, anyway?

Friday, May 04, 2007

On the road again

I am back in a Tully's, alebit a different one this time: U-district, not Wallingford. I am taking a powder while Otis has some appointments; I should have brought some more class work to do, since I have more time than I realized at first. But it won't be a total loss: I did some work stuff already, and will dink around a bit more.

I walked down here; I should have cycled. My mileage is embarrassingly low; negligible even. I can't even say how low it is. Okay, I'm like at 15 miles instead of 375, of something like that. Neepers, I'm lame.

Well, it's supposed to be 65 and sunny on Sunday, and Otis is spending the day at an art retreat, so I should have time for a looooong ride. Maybe I can boost my numbers up to 15% of standard instead of 4%. Yay me!

I have been calling around trying to develop some entertainment plans for this weekend, but we don't seem to be reaching consensus/critical mass. We'll see.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The beat goes on

So, we're dialed in by remote, sitting in the Tully's with twin iBooks, enjoying the community of Wallingfordians and watching the traffic hack its way across 45th Street. At least the bridge is open again.

That job thing: Today was a pretty low-key day, except that I received more notifications from referees that they had been contacted regarding my Cascadia application. It's hard not to take that as an encouraging sign, but I am trying not to think that much about it one way or another.

Memory, all alone in the moonlight: So, this new box has a good chunk of memory: 128M+516M. Nice, and it runs fast even for a G3. My iMac has 256M+256M; not so much, and I think I could use more. Otis's iBook has only 256M+0M; not nearly enough to keep her moving along. So I thought: I can buy a 516M chip for my computer, and move one 256 to Otis's, and we'll leverage the upgrade costs! But. Her chips are different from my chips, so that won't work. We will each have to buy our own new chip, and I will be left with a 256M chip and no place to put it. Grrrr. Still working on that one.

Alternate reality: What if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Isn't that the coolest idea you have heard in a long time? Well, apparently the plan was real, and Michael Chabon has written a book based on the premise that it actually happened. He's going to be at Third Place Books in LFP on Tuesday, May 15 at 7:00 pm. I'm a-gonna be there, and so is Otis. Y'all wanna come?

Everything today is thoroughly modern: Roosevelt High School is doing Thoroughly Modern Millie for their spring musical, so you know I'm going to be dragged Otis and I will be going to see it. So are a lot of Otis's friends; it looks like Thursday, May 24 is shaping up to be the date. Since it's just down the street, we'll be hosting a coffee-an' at the house afterwards.

(I known that stuff rightly belongs on the other blog; I'll cross-post later.)

And the wheel grinds slowly on...

First of all, I want to thank everyone who called or wrote or spoke me to with words of support in the job application process. It's a good feeling to know that your destiny matters to others.

In response to JustJon's hopes that this interview was a formality: the executive officers met with six candidates and will select two people for teaching positions. So I guess that puts my odds at one-in-three, not quite a slam-dunk.

I do know that my references were checked beginning yesterday, but I don't know if the college is checking references for all six candidates or just for their front-runners. (BTW, thanks for the ref and the message, Madame Dean!)

I was told to expect news around May 10, so there's not too long a wait. In the meanwhile, I'll just put it out of my mind and get on with gettin' on.


Wow, how about that sinkhole, huh? All big and watery and stuff? Yeah. Otis and I actually watched a little bit of the 11:00 news last night, to find out if the U-Bridge was going to remained closed for a while (it is). Man, local news sucks. All it showed was different car wrecks and train wrecks and life wrecks. I don't think in the fifteen minutes or so that I could stand that they even mentioned anything like, oh, I don't know, the war or the federal government or the state government or the city government - oh wait, they did mention that the mayor was concerned about sinkholes. Sheesh. I know this is all old news (heh) to everyone, but I really haven't seen local news in like a year or so, so it was pretty jarring.


I took my brand-new old iBook laptop to class last night (it's more like a writing lab than a traditional class) and felt all dialed in and stuff, until one of the students unveiled her brand-new, G5 duo processor MacBook with all the bells and whistles, and then I felt once again like I was driving a 1972 Dodge Dart with a faded vinyl roof. Actually, the new computer is just fine and does all that I need to and more.


I have no recent pictures to show, so here's one from exactly a year ago:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

You load sixteen tons...

Wow, today sure filled up. It seemed as though I have been working from about 7:00 am, and I'm not finished yet. I filled the morning before class with this and that: work emails, bills, and stuff like that. Then there was class, of course, followed by a whole afternoon's worth of responding, and an early evening of prep. (I did take time out for a nice dinner.) Now, fortified by a latte, I am ready to get the evening's reading.

Tomorrow is the "long" day, with classes morning, noon, and evening; it will be made longer by the second interview at Cascadia in the afternoon. Yes, I made the first cut and meet with the President and VP of the college between classes tomorrow. (So my commute will be Roosevelt, Bothell, Northgate, Roosevelt, Bothell, Belltown, Roosevelt. Sheesh.)

The only other news we have of that calibre is that the roses on the huge bush outside our dinette window are blooming. There had been pink buds for a week or so prior, but this morning we saw at least three open flowers. Oh, and there is a bird's nest on the side of the house in one of the fittings for the electrical power. Which brings to mind the classic couplet:

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz,
I wonder where the birdies is?

Apparently, right here.