Sunday, September 30, 2007

Half-a-century, Part Two: quiet time

Once we pried our eyes completely open this morning, Otis took me out into the peaceful wilderness of Granite Falls to the Tsubaki American Shrine, a traditional Jinja Shinto shrine, located on 25 wooded acres fronting the river south of the town proper. By prior arrangement, Koichi Barrish, the resident priest, performed a Shingan Joju Kigan ceremony for the realization of heartfelt wishes.

Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion whose tenets include a little ancestor reverence, some polytheism, some animism, and a focus on purification. The ceremony was contemplative and very stylized; the simplicity of the setting and the beauty of the natural surroundings made for a quiet and meditative morning.

Half-a-century, Part One: The Bestest League of America

So yesterday, after spending some time shilly-shallying and some time working, I headed out, up to Cap Hill to watch a totally nerdly movie with Johnbai, getting out of the house in keeping with my usual practice when Otis has clients - she had an appointment for a two-hour special late on Saturday.

I didn't know until almost three hours later - after a badly-done documentary and some Belgian beer - that I was being expertly played by the superheroes Force of Nature and Delaying-Tactics Man. My afternoon of male bonding was actually a diversion so that Otis could spring the Walaka-palooza Superhero Birthday Bash!

A satisfied Delaying-tactics Man leads me into the trap!

I found myself surrounded by an array of costumed crime-fighters merry-makers all intent on helping to mark my milestone birthday. I was immediately granted my own secret identity, and joined the revels as Bionic Birthday Boy (we had the technology).

Mighty Pretzel Woman with typical twisted humor!

Special team-up issue: Celtic Power Woman, Spawn of Hellboy, and Exhausted Nursing Student Boy!

Crowella was escorted by Bizzzzzzznessssss-Man!

Crossover collector's item: Cheetah, Queen of Ewop and Mr. Really Incredible

I join Social Justice Man, ENSB, and Repair-Man for some super-snacks!

As we drank Bubbling Kryptonite Punch (and beer and wine) and ate all kinds of goodies that had apparently been hidden around the house, Force of Nature orchestrated a Walaka-quiz, just to make me feel more focus than a big B around my neck and a crown could. Spawn of Hellboy took first prize, a fairly dim Chinese light saber.

Tomato-Man and Lady Lu, the Princess of Persuasion!

A threatening Spawn of Hellboy!

Super-villian Mu-Ha-Ha doing his thing!

The dynamic duo: Electro & Cute!

Celtic Power!

Delaying-tactics Man rolled out a new, improved version of Win Walaka's T-Shirts, the exhausting exciting game show that debuted at Librapalooza last year. An array of 25 totally cool T-shirts, all ostensibly "mine," were displayed, and anyone could challenge me for any one of them by competing in a quiz-show question (with audio and video clues). I managed to retain fifteen of the shirts, dominating the categories of Comics and Sci-Fi Movies and managing not be completely shut out in Flowers, Vegetables & Fruits, and Popular Music. (I could identify bird of paradise, calla lily, star fruit, Shirley Bassey, and Randy Newman.) Exhausted Nursing Student Boy made a fine showing in both flora categories, and super-villain Mu-Ha-Ha clawed his way to a few shirts as well.

Mad props to Delaying-tactics man for yeoman work!

Even superheroes get cake!

Superhero stamina is a thing to behold, and the party continued on long into the night, calling for an impromptu pot of chili to reinforce the munchies. Even Working-Caterer Woman, who made a late appearance, had plenty of time to join the wee-hours conversation. All heroes finally returned to their own secret lairs at about one in the morning.

Secret identities revealed!

My deep and sincere thanks to everyone who came by to help me have a good time, and an especial shout-out to the Audio-Visual Avenger, who could not be there in person but who supplied vintage Superman video, creative consultation, and moral support.

And, of course, hugs, kisses, and huzzahs for my personal Force of Nature for being as sweet as she is, not just with this party, but every day.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I am ninja, you are ninja

So, there I was yesterday, feeling like Harry Belafonte walking through a post-apocalyptic Manhattan in The World, The Flesh, and the Devil, or like Chuck Heston roaming an eerily vacant Los Angeles in The Omega Man. What brought me to this lonely wandering, in an empty landscape bereft of humanity? Oh, I just went in to work on campus Friday. I got a lot of responding done, though.

After work, I ran some errands, including stopping to pick up the snack for the Spectration that evening. That process turned into a huge shopping expedition during which every 10 for $10 sign seemed to be calling to me like a Siren. I filled the cart and subsequently the pantry with all kinds of mostly good stuff and just a little junk.

Said Spectration turned out to be a wonderful success. Dingo, tired but game, was first to arrive, followed by Yojimbo, snagged on his way to the ferry. Johnbai & O and J-Force & T-Square arrived in tandem and in sequence to round out the audience.

We watched Tongan Ninja, a delightful New Zealand martial arts spoof that was so deliberately bad that it was crazily good. Any movie that includes such scenes as the titular hero beating his opponent with the boom mike that has intruded into frame has got the right sense of humor.

Adding to the joy of the night was the presence of Strobey the iPup, who, after entertaining the crowd all night, was adopted by Dingo and will have a warm home up on the hill.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I got me a hat

Otis had to come up to First Hill tonight on reader business, so we stopped for dinner at Ballet afterward and then went to the Value Village. I got a hat to wear when I have to walk to the bus in the rain. We're up at Caffe Vita but the wi-fi is reallllllllllly slow.

Teaching has been going fine, btw - first week of class is over and it all looks good. The network difficulties are straightening themselves out although it all feels a bit like a shakedown cruise still. I'm settling in to the teach/read/prep rhythm - I'll be working in my office tomorrow. Otis has been having steady massage appointments and will pick up just a little reading work over the school year as extra work. We're kind of in hunkering-down mode, I guess, in response to the season change. It's even raining right now, so I'll get a chance to try out that hat soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Did I mention the deal with the bus?

During the orientation and pre-fall weeks, I was trying different ways to get into Bothell, one of which was the bus, and man, was it slick. I could catch a Metro bus down on 15th at just past half-past the hour and be up in Lake City at :52; then, the Sounder to Bothell came at :55 and I was off to the races. Cool! It even worked if you added 30 minutes to each time, for twice-hourly commuting goodness.

But (and there's always a but, isn't there?), on the first day of school, the bus schedules changed. Or at least the Metro schedules changed, so my bus comes just a few minutes later - at :39 or :42 - and gets to Lake City at :58 now. But the Sounder still comes at :55.

So, I'm basically screwed, bus-wise. I can either leave a half-hour earlier and spend 27 minutes standing in front of the Fred Meyer parking lot just to get to Cascadia at the same time, or I can walk not to 15th but to 25th and catch a different, direct bus that has an acceptable schedule, although I will get wetter when it rains.

But, as I always say, at least no one is dropping bombs on me as I make my commute, so I really can't complain.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall flotsam

So, today was my first day of teaching as a newly-minted tenure-track full-timer, and guess what? The in-classroom stuff feels exactly same - and everything else feels completely different. I've got some ideas burbling up about hierarchy and class in higher ed, but I think I'll save them for an article. Suffice it here to say that the day went fine and it looks like it will be a busy quarter.

Here's my shot of the video chat with Jon of Monmouth when I took a picture of him taking a picture of me over the intarweb. I didn't have him at full screen, so there's a window with him in it and also a picture-in-a-picture with me in it, and you can see the camera itself on its gooseneck.

I promised Wheylona I would make a lolcat, so here it is.

In case you missed it, one of Otis's art pieces is featured on a peace website. She has more info on her blog.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My loony bun is fine Benny Lava

Yesterday was a jam-packed day - Otis and I celebrated our first-date anniversary (observed) by going out and roaming around and eating and shopping and seeing a movie and all that jazz. It was fun and exhausting! We saw Stardust (which started out as a bit of a mess but turned into a fine and beautiful adventure story), I got a pair of PF Flyers for the new school year, and we even managed to survive dinner in Fremont in the middle of Oktoberfest! Yay!

So, anyway, here's your post for today:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Start of the weekend

Weekends will likely have a different flavor this fall. Since I will be at the campus so much, my intention is to get as much work done there as possible, trying to avoid taking work home at night and on the weekends. It's a bit of a switch; part of what I have liked about teaching in the ability to timeshift my work, and this seems like a step back toward nine-to-fiving it, but as long as the cultural expectations are there to be on campus, we’ll have to try it and see how it works out.

Yesterday was another fullish day, as usual. I drove my car for the first time since before Sachet left for Canada (that was fun!) and took it in for an oil change on the way to school. I messed about on campus for the day, photocopying and prepping lessons, and made it home (through traffic, ugh) in time to take a walk with Otis while the sun was shining bright.

Last night, we had a belated birthday celebration for J-Force, hosting her and new beau T-square for tea and port and peach champagne and strawberry shortcake (how genteel!).

Now, it’s time to have a good time.

After I posted those funky maps the other day, Yojimbo commented with an obscure reference to “Mule.”

M.U.L.E., as it is more properly known, was an early computer game from Infocom / Electronic Arts that I had for my Atari home computer. Back in the day when Yojimbo and I were each married to people who are now no longer our wives, and he was an overworked commercial producer, and I was a rookie cop, and our wives worked together in insurance, we somehow regularly found time for the four of us to crowd around the television set in my 600-square foot studio condo in Belltown-before-it-was-cool and play this digital version of a board game. I remember buying two extra joystick controllers to supplement the two that had come with the unit and all of us lined up on the couch with wires trailing to the set. It made it hard to get up and down for coffee or to pee, but we managed. Oh, and at any time, at least three of us were smokers, so you can add that to the ambiance.

The game itself was a little bit of Monopoly, mixed with the seeds of stuff like Sim City, with a few instances of actual hand-eye coordination and joystick control necessary. The scenario was that each player of four (the computer would take over a player if there were not enough people) was a settler on the planet Irata and the goal was to have the most successful settlement, while still ensuring that everyone survived enough for the whole colony to survive. So, there was no destroying your opponents – you needed them alive to buy your stuff and to validate your success.

Each round would begin with a land grant – a marker would move across the map of the area and each player would click to "claim" a plot. Each land area produced the three resources – food, energy, and ore – in different quantities, and you needed a good mix to be successful. There were also advantages to having contiguous plots, so there was competition to pick spots, and the quicker trigger usually won.

After everyone had picked a plot, there would be a sequence of timed plays in which each player “improved” the plot. This involved guiding your little icon-creature into town to buy and outfit a M.U.L.E. – a multiple-use labor element, the robot that worked your land for you – and lead him to the correct plot, all with the joystick. If you weren’t good at screen play you could screw up: the M.U.L.E. would run away and you would be out of luck. If you were good at it, you might be able to outfit and place two or three units and still have time to get back into town to visit the saloon and win money (the equivalent of passing go).

After each player had had a chance at improving their property, the game would have a sequence where stuff happened – the food grew, the energy energized, and the ore got mined. These processes could be affected by random events that favored one product over another.

This display was followed by a sequence showing the players how much of each product they had used and developed in the p[revious round. After the exposition, there was an auction to redistribute the goods. Players with surplus food, for example, would position themselves as sellers, and the hungry players would have to buy from them. These transactions took place graphically in a system that I always imagined as sellers and buyers dancing to meet at a spot in a path that indicated the agreed-upon price. Some people would profit, some would scrape buy, and the sequence would start again.

After ten rounds, the computer determined whether the colony had survived and which settler was the winner.

For a simple little bit of programming, it was surprising sophisticated and engendered all sorts of backstories and emotional responses from the people controlling the little creatures – well, at least from us, anyway. We played it over and over for hours and hours, and I never remember getting bored.

Doing a little research for this post, I found some cool stuff:

There is, of course, a little M.U.L.E. subculture to be found on the web, and it was a real award-winner in its day.

You can still play M.U.LE. with an online emulator – and you can play other people over the intarweb! (Go here just to hear the cool theme music.)

The games primary designer, Dani Bunten, has been recognized as a visionary pioneer in the field, responsible for much of what is good and complex in computer simulation games; it is unfortunate that she did not live to see the full development of the internet age, dying too young in 1998. She also had developed the game when she was known as Dan Bunten, before her gender-reassignment surgery.

There’s even a YouTube movie of actual gameplay:

Good times, indeed.

And I probably shouldn’t mention this, but I never did figure out why the planet was called Irata, until my pals laughed in my face when I wondered about it aloud.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fewer and farther between? (posts, that is)

Well, I'm sure the party's not even over yet, and she doesn't even leave until tomorrow afternoon, but Otis and I paid our official farewell call on Wheylona up at Dingo's tonight. I must say, it has been wonderful having the ol' gal around for such a long and relaxed visit; we're sure going to miss her awful quick, even with the miracle of of webcam-aided VOIP to keep us connected. So.

Agur, Wheylona!

There was more good news up at the festivities: Dingo got a new job that (a) is better-paying, (b) has fewer hours, (c) is closer, and (d) remains low-stress. She has calculated that she will gain 20 hours a week free time to fill with other endeavors (including the two steady massage gigs that she has developed). Go Dingo!

I'll continue good news, just to spite Bummerman: just before going to the do, I finished uploading all my final assessments from my last class (a day early, even). So now, summer quarter is officially put to bed and fall quarter can take center stage, as if it hasn't been muscling its way in anyway. Orientation meetings are over and today and tomorrow are official prep days: I should be in good shape for classes on Monday.

Now, here are a couple of maps.

This one's mostly for Stella (with a nod to a recent Wheylona post): what's odd?

Who out there drew one of these for themselves after staring at words on a monochrome screen for dozens of hours?

And here is a cool map website:

Strange Maps is well-maintained with terrific content.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Liminal time

Summer season to fall season.

Summer quarter ending to fall quarter starting.

Adjunct to tenure-track.

Less-structured to more-structured.

Betwixt and between, it seems; I wonder what things will be like on the other side.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Killin' time

So, since I was so unproductive over the weekend, I have a lot to do tonight, after a full day of meetings at school. But I wanted to stop in at 3PB/LFP for a presentation by a guy who has written a book on bike routes in Seattle before I did some late-evening work at home. First, I was going get some other work done at the office and meet Otis here just in time for dinner and the presentation, but I didn't have the material there that I wanted to work on. So I called Otis and she met me at LFP early, with my laptop and flash drive. Unfortunately, what I needed wasn't on them, either. Drat! So here I was, with no productive work to do, just waiting for the show, and knowing I would be heading home afterwards to more work waiting for me there.

Gee, I sound almost like B****rman, don't I?

But no worries! I had a great ride this morning (a hair over 15 miles in a whisker under 60 minutes) and another good short run to LFP (5.8 miles at 14 mph - I'm always slower in the afternoon).

And at least I'm not in the Land of the Lost!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Good intentions

So, I didn't get hardly no work done today (enough negatives in there for ya?) but in the spirit of Arnold Rimmer, I made up for it by developing a wonderful, color-coded schedule for the rest of the week.

The work did not go undone because of indolence, however; I did plenty of other stuff. Like, we went out to breakfast. Yeah. And I had to swing by Antioch to pick up some papers, and that took... well, minutes. And we went out to the movies with Stella this afternoon and stopped at the grocery store on the way home. So... yeah. Well.

Innyway, we saw Chalk, and I have to tell you, it was great. It is a mockumentary a la Christopher Guest's films, but it is much more realistic - except for a very few scenes, you would swear you were watching an actual documentary about teachers. Which is not to say it isn't funny - it is, very. It is also grounded in a strong sense of reality and presented with a great deal of verisimilitude and plausibility. Anyone who has ever taught will just love it. Catch it quick - it's on a limited engagement.

And Scotty Tuxedo called tonight, threatening to come over and visit, but he never did. He says he's in town, but I've heard that before. I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Busy boy

So, it's been a busy couple o' days. Friday, I was at campus almost all day, first for the convocation (big rah-rah meeting with the entire campus community) and then doing some prep work with colleagues. I got home to a spate of phone messages, among them Johnbai and Yojimbo wanting to hook up for some recreation. So, after a flurry of fussiness, there was a dinner at Jack's Tapas Cafe Mainly Chinese with me, Otis, Johnbai, O, and Yojimbo. Good grub and lots of it! Afterwards, we moved the moveable feast to 3PBR, from which venue you saw pictures last night, and were joined by Dingo and Wheylona. We were loud and festive and closed the joint. Coolishness.

Despite all that festivatin', I was up early as usual and fiddling around in the morning while Otis had a client. When she was done, we took off for a day of erranding, which included visits to Half-Price Books (selling, not buying), Office Max, the Mac Store, PetSmart, Waking Life Massage Supply, Zanadu, and so on. In the middle of all this, we had a great lunch at Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, a cool place that has lots of vegetarian and vegan dishes and raw food, and smoothies and juices, too. Check it out.

We came home and watched Something to Talk About during dinner. Johnbai had characterized this Julia Roberts - Dennis Quaid flick as an "unmemorable mainstream nineties dramedy" when he read the Netflix summary; it actually turned out to be a little more complex and engaging than that, and didn't quite have a Hollywood ending. A little eye-em-dee-beeing revealed that it was written by Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise ) and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and My Life as a Dog). What was disappointing was that Bonnie Raitt does not appear on the soundtrack.

We also did some grocery shopping but otherwise have hunkered down tonight, foregoing both the Cal & Merry movie-show and the NY-Alex usher-corps duty at the Sez You taping for mode solitary pleasures. Like this:

(Look back up to that list of errands and you'll see the Mac Store in there. You knew that had to mean trouble, didn't you?)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Craziness, sheer craziness!

We are all together, here in this place. We are me, Otis, Johnbai, O, Yojimbo, Dingo, and Wheylona; here is 3PBR; the craziness is translating, geeking out, blogging, working (Otis is on the phone AND her email at once right now), reading, picking out superhero costumes for Halloween, watching videos on the intarweb, and so on. Picture proof:

Too much fun - gotta go!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nearly simul-blogging

So, as we were sitting in Ladro working, who should come by but Wheylona! Being the dyed-in-the-wool geek that she is, she joined us for a blogging session right away. Here she is:

Yeah, I know, nerdlier than nerdly, but what the heck.

Look what I have made!

I just spent twenty minutes or so fighting with the space bar n my laptop. I had pulled it off for some reason, and the putting-back-in process involved several steps that included manipulating tiny components at extremely close tolerances; the process is further complicated by disassembling one of the internal assemblies by accidents, a practice that I suggest you avoid should find yourself involved in this operation. Sheesh! But now it works just fine, and I am amazed at how I could feel the difference between not-quite-done and back-to-normal in an instant.

Innyway, I continued my multi-modal transportation practices today: Monday I drove, Tuesday I biked, and Wednesday I scootered, so today I bussed. It was a fine ride, as usual, and I expect I'll be making it with some frequency, at least in one direction, over the long rainy season.

We finished off the orientation today' tomorrow is Convocation, the gathering of the entire college, all together, all in one place, except for a lot of people who won't come, of course. Next week is full of in-service training, except for Thursday and Friday, which are planning days. It'll be odd teaching three classes all at one place, but it will be nice having a coherent and unified getting-ready process.

Otis picked me up in Bothell so we could go out and do some errands, mostly fruitless. After I took an afternoon nap, we headed up to Cap Hill for dinner at TeaPot Veggie, and now we're here at Caffe Ladro, and now you know everything that I know.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A loooong day

Haven't had one of these for a while - eight to four at Cascadia and then seven to nine-thirty at Antioch.

I rode two wheels this morning, but of the scooterish variety not the pedally kind - I need to give my knees a break. Orientation was okay; the afternoon was an introduction to Office 2007, and I have to say, even as a Mac guy, it was pretty sweet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The thrill of victory and the agony of de feets

Oh, my aching knees! I’m back in the saddle, gang, and it sure ain’t pretty. But in keeping with the quotidian diary-blog nature of this site, let’s fade back to Monday morning, -ing, -ing, -ing...

Otis had her standing writer’s date, so I busied myself around the house while she went off and was writerly. When she came home to start an afternoon of appointments, I took the car and schlepped four bankers boxes and four grocery bags of books and files up to my office in Cascadia.

I have a different office than the one Stella and I shared when I was adjuncting (she’s still there). Full-time faculty are supposed to have a private office according to the contract, but space is at such a premium right now that we have doubled up, and I am sharing with a poli sci instructor who is new to the college (she commutes from Bremerton!). I packed everything away (with Stella’s gracious help), got my computer login all squared away (they just rebuilt the network over the weekend), and completed other administrivia. It was nice to get a bit of a jump on things.

I gave a ride home to a colleague and got back just in time to pick Otis up for to head out to an impromptu invitation from O for dinner. Johnbai was there to fetch and tote, and Dingo and the O-Mom, Char, was there to help enjoy the food. O made a great traditional antipasto, grilled fennel, and a lovely main dish of pesto spaghetti and zucchini. Nummers were had by all.

After an expansive evening of food, wine, and company, I had no trouble falling asleep when I got home; this was a Good Thing, because I was up at the crack and in the saddle by 7:00 am to ride up to Bothell. The morning spirit must have moved me and I flew like the wind! Bothell is not far enough away for a triple-dipple, but I did manage a single-tingle: 15.2 miles in 61 minutes for an average speed of 15 mph. It’s nice to know I can still dig it out after being such a slug all summer.

I spent the morning at an actually-not-bad orientation session with my “tenure cohort” – the seven newbies who will be going through the three-year process together. I am the only boy in the group, which includes my aforementioned office-mate from the Peninsula, a Developmental English instructor and a Speech Communications Instructor, both from North Carolina, a Japanese Instructor from Atlanta, and two other former adjuncts, one in Economics and one in English. We seem to be forming a pretty good esprit de corps, and I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the week.

Then I rode home. It wasn’t quite as happy as the ride out: I wasn’t going as far, since I was meeting Otis at Magnuson Park, and that was lucky, because my knees were really complaining the whole way. The final stats were 12.7 miles in 54 minutes (14.2 mph), but that does not capture, as Dr. Smith would say, the pain, oh the pain!

When we finally got home, I misted myself with the hose (it's HOT again today, innit?) and took a shower and then a nap. I’m just feeling human again now.

At O's dinner I described this video and everyone seemed to think it was funny, so here it is:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Busy in idleness

Twelve-mile ride: check. We drove down 65th to pick up the Burke because Otis’s knees are a bit dicky right now; nonetheless, she managed the six miles to LFP and back on the flats all right. We perused the bookstore and had burritos while we were up there; it’s always nice to have a goal.

Movie with friends: check. Dingo and Wheylona came by after dinner and we carpooled it up to the Crest to see Sicko. We had a great time: Moore has made a wonderful film. It was laugh-out-loud funny in parts, make-you-cry sad in others, and get-you-pissed almost all the time. Wheylona wonders if Neds is heading the wrong way…

Quasi-productive morning: check. After breakfast, Otis went off to meet her mama for coffee-an’, so I was left home to take care of business, which I did a little of, including reading the first part of Reading Comics by Douglas Wolk. It turned out to be a great overview of the form, pulling together different scholarly and popular trends of thought in a compelling way; I know I can mine it for some lessons in my course in Spring. The second half comprises reviews of individual works or authors; I’m less interested in that part, so I may return the book to the colleague from whom I borrowed it.

Quasi-productive afternoon: check. After lunch, Otis and I went off to Zoka’s near U Village to put in some wi-fi time. She got a lot done on poetry and art; I got a little done on a great big post to my comics blog. We rewarded ourselves with pad thai.

Productive evening: check. After dinner, Otis got all arty and stuff and I finished off my post.

Now we can relax, since the real work begins tomorrow!

Link farm!

Check this video out and see if you ever believe a photograph again.

Well, the week is about up and this prediction hasn't come through. Whew?

Is my finding this sort of like this?

Oh, and this one's for Soapy.

Somebody remind me that I am way too busy to go to this.

This may be old news now, but if Jon of Monmouth (at least) can't figure this out (don't look at the comments), I'll be surprised.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The busy bees are back

Wow, it sure has been jam-packed since Tuesday. I can tell that we are on the cusp of Fall – I have more and more to do!

Wednesday was full of busy-work up at Cascadia, leaving me with a good feeling about the upcoming quarter. We have a dynamic Teaching and Learning Lead (kind of like a department chair) and I think I’m going have a good time.

The trip out to Poulsbo on Wednesday night after class went smoothly; the trip to the peninsula wasn’t as long as one would think. The HIE was a pretty shabby affair, comparatively, but no real trial; it affected Otis more than me, obviously. We got a little bit of a chance to explore old Poulsbo on Thursday evening; the ambience was wonderful and the dinner at “That's-a Some Italian Restaurant” (yes, that’s the real name). It had been a while since I last visited, and I had a forgotten memory resurface of the Grand Kirk, a totally cool waterfront church that has been converted into condos, when we encountered it on our walk.

The Institute itself was a lot more useful and interesting that I had thought it was going to be. I think a lot of the presenters recognized that most of the attendees had a significant amount of teaching experience, and a lot breakout sections focused on topics more useful than “Top Ten Tips for your First day.” I met the new faculty in my tenure-track cohort; my office-mate, a poli sci instructor, seems easy to get along with, and we three new English teachers seem to have complementary rather than competing interests.

Upon coming home, we had a spot of dinner and then watched the weird Nurse Betty, in which two eccentric hit men pursue an unhinged Kansas housewife who thinks her favorite soap opera character is her ex-fiancĂ© and heads to California in a Buick with a trunkful of drugs. It was by turns hilarious and scary, and the great cast – including Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, and Crispin Glover – easily overcomes the inherent implausibility of the plot.

Otis had an appointment this morning but the client canceled out, so in a few minutes we are going to head out on a bike ride to LFP. I can enjoy this last “open” weekend and make a list of all the things I need to do in the next two weeks.

Otis wanted me to share this photo, capturing the cats when we returned home from dinner last night, after leaving them both inside. It proves that (a) the cats can indeed get along, and (b) I have lost the war.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quickie from Kitsap

I'm here at SBCTC New Faculty Institute in Poulsbo, taking a quick break before the afternoon sessions. To catch up on the highlights of Tuesday and Wednesday:

--Went to Tully's and responded papers on Tuesday morning (Well, it's a highlight for me).

--Had Wheylona over in Tuesday night to watch American Movie. It was simultaneously the funniest and saddest movie I have seen in a long time.

--Had an English discipline meeting for most of Wednesday and then my salary negotiations with the college. I got everything I wanted!

--I taught Wednesday evening and Otis picked me up to come out late last night.

--This Holiday Inn Express is not as nice as the three other Holiday Inn Expresses we have stayed at this summer.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Here comes the rain again

Doing all my early-morning stuff - cleaning the kitchen, taking out the garage and recycling, paying bills, and so on - I really felt as if this were a fall day and not still (technically) summer. The ground is wet, the rain is spitting in fits and starts, and the gutter across the alley is providing a continuous loud cascade - a release of stuff stored up overnight? It's as if the weather listened to pop culture, saw that Labor Day was over, and turned summer off.

Labor Day passed nicely enough, with labor actually involved. Otis had much labor - three appointments scheduled - so I hied myself off to a Tully's to respond some papers, as per usual. As per unusual, I went to the Tully's in Edmonds, so I could meet with Gweekers (still here from Spokane) and Dr. J (over on the ferry from Sequim), and the three of us could have a mini grad school reunion. We sipped and lunched and walked and sipped again, and had a great time.

Returning to the county of King, a slightly fatigued Otis and I decided to join the gleaning at the Value Village big-time Labor Day sale, and in proof that either great minds think alike or we're all cheap sonsaguns, we met Dingo and Wheylona and Sylvio there! It was a pretty good score, too: Otis got some shirts, slacks, and skirts, and I found some biking shirts for my commute. We saved enough for dinner at Piecora's!

Today is really my last "vacation" day, such as it is. Tomorrow, the new-quarter meetings start up with a vengeance. I feel once again like the summer went by without my accomplishing half the things I intended. There was lots of fun, of course, and a bit of travel, sure; but we never barbecued here at the house, we didn't get over to the island or up to Canada, I barely biked and didn't re-do my web pages -- the "didn't-do" list is way long. Where does the time go?

Hey, Soapy! Are ya still up?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Holiday post

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. - Abraham Lincoln

The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people. - Cesar Chavez

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men. - Clarence Darrow

Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most - that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least. - Eugene Debs

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dinner was had and a baby held

So, the question is: "Is Otis half-tipsy or half-sober?"

We traveled to the jaunty, nautical town of Edmonds last night to hook up with Spokane pals Gweekers & Mikey and their local relations Sarry & Warry for a nice Thai dinner and some good company. We started out at The Tacky Tiki bar (a real place), where Otis and Gweekers got a little lit, adding to the festive mood surrounding Sarry's impending birthday and the upcoming birth of her first baby. Huzzah!

Cohort mates cavort.

This morning continued the baby theme as we hosted Otis's bro and his wife and their almost-six-month-old for brunch. Yummy waffles and toppings and a nice relaxing midday followed. I even got to express my avuncular side:

Value Village, pho, and Green Lake burned the rest of the daylight; now it's time to TCB.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Come rain and come shine

So, shortly after the broadcast yesterday afternoon, Otis and I left the Tully’s to take a walk on the beach. My bald bean served as an early warning system to let me know it was starting to rain, so we abandoned the walk and jumped on the scooter to head home. As Dingo put it later that night, it rained for twenty minutes yesterday, and we were riding for all of them.

But the nice thing about getting wet is that you always dry off, so were happy and warm when we joined the gang for dinner at Ballet later in the evening. The aforementioned Dingo, Sylvio, Johnbai, and O all turned out for an informal fete with visiting celebrity Wheylona, and we had the good luck to be joined by a just-off-work-and-still-in-town Yojimbo.

While most of the gang headed off for some postprandial Boggle, O went home to go to bed and Otis and I strolled over to the Egyptian to catch a showing of The 11th Hour, Leonardo DeCaprio’s documentary about environmental crises. It was a fairly straightforward non-fiction film – talking heads interspersed with stock footage or animations – but it has a positive but not overly-optimistic view of the situation. I appreciated that it focused on the systemic and institutional changes that are required to correct the environmental damage already done by our overdependence on fossil fuels and to prevent any further badness: this is not a problem that is going to be solved by re-using our plastic grocery bags. The experts also stayed away from “save the earth” rhetoric, recognizing that the planet will continue long after we kill ourselves, if that’s the choice we make.

Instead, the film speaks to quality of life and imagines a world created by a profound change in the will of the community: a world of sustainable choices in which the economy functions (as it properly should) as a sub-system of the biosphere. And of all the non-fuzzy, non-hippie examples that society can indeed take this kind of action successfully, the film cites the USA’s shift from a civilian to a war economy during the forties, a massive economic and technological re-tooling that was accomplished almost overnight, because of our common will.

In that spirit, perhaps I will be forgiven a little copyright-infringing photoshop.

The film has an action website associated with it. Check it out.

This morning, feeling green and all, Otis and I walked down to the University Farmer’s Market to get us some of those local, organic, sustainable goodies. In addition to tomatoes and beans and all that, we got outselves some Chicken of the Woods mushroom:

Yeah, it’s a big sucker, innit? I talked to the lady shroomer who was selling them and checked things out on the internets and took a shot at cooking it up for lunch.

I cut it into finger-sized strips and sautéed it in butter with some onions for about ten minutes, then added liquid: vegetable broth, a little white wine, and just a splash of cream. I let it simmer, covered, for about another ten or fifteen minutes, and the mushroom absorbed most of the liquid. I served it over white rice with a little carrot, drizzled some of the leftover reduction on top.

Boy, was it good. I was so optimistic that I did the whole lunch up brown, and it lived up to the presentation.

I would recommend this to anyone – it has a firm consistency with just a hunt of a woody undertone, and it carried the flavors from the broth perfectly. I can see this as an excellent main dish for dinner, maybe with some green beans as well. Yum-o!

I guess we could consider lunch a pre-reward, since Otis is a busy bee doing both housekeeping and bidness today. I only have a little bit of productive work to do before we head up to meet the Spokaners (who are in town) for dinner.