Monday, March 27, 2006

the announcement of the new remodeling project for the dan ryan expressway in chicago stirred me up. this is one of my favorite roads - coming from the small town, landing in the middle of the south side, everyone going 75 & weaving back & forth...its remodeling will mean that south-siders will be thrown off for years. we on the far south side (5 1/2 hours) - well, we might get thrown off once or twice. nevertheless i've taken to collecting pictures and writing about it. and this is partly because traffic is on my mind for another project...this also about traffic.

a traffic story - in the summer of 1974, i was hitchhiking back from alaska and was in the yukon territory of canada...took a good look at a map and saw a road cutting down the western side of the british columbia mountains that would allow me to cut over to the coast and take the prince rupert ferry to vancouver island, one of the last places that i had not seen...and spare me the long haul through the peace river valley, dawson creek, edmonton and the great plains. i got myself dropped off at the edge of that road and camped the night with a distance bicyclist who warned me that it was a private road, gravel, owned by the logging trucks, and somewhat hazardous (he, nevertheless, was going to bicycle it) the morning the bicyclist was gone, up early, but i, after poking out the fire and collecting my things, standing by the road, was almost bowled over by one of those logging trucks, then picked up immediately by two guys in a more standard pickup, which, after a few miles, left that poor bicyclist in the dust. like many vehicles up there it had a metal screen in front, which the driver pointed out when I asked him why he sped up and tailgated the logging truck. it seemed to me that one wouldn't want to have that endless pile of gravel spewing up on one's windshield if one could possibly avoid it.

but there was another reason he tailgated the logging truck. the road's not wide enough, he said. so we always drive in the middle, and we always follow the trucks. the northbound logging truck will come through at a point about a hundred miles down the road; we both know when that truck will come through, and we'll all fit through that point at that time. but that's the only point, and that's the only time. if i'm not behind this logging truck, i have to wait for the next one, or give up driving altogether. after all, it's their road...

the conversation went included amazement at the fact that a mountain goat could come down from the mountains on that particular that must be a sign of something, given his solitary existence. and how the road was bumpy, the middle of the road was clearly the best place to be, the middle of the seat was somewhat rough for riders, but we were making good time, and the rocks flying up at us were doing no more damage than had already been done thousands of times. and, how, on long rides, going 75 behind a logging truck on a gravel mountain road, looking down the cliff to the right, one could even question the merits of hazing up the cab with sweet smoke, and seeing things from the mountain goat's point of view.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

landed at the paducah (ky) airport on friday night, st. patty's day, a little depressed - had lost my wallet in tampa; it was 40 degrees colder in kentucky/illinois than in florida, and i was back in a kind of isolated part of the country, away from the ebb & flow of the modern world. my green '68 truck made it back home ok, but i got back on the chat with the webheads on sun. morning at the first opportunity - hadn't seen much of them in tampa, actually. the chat was typical - we talked about photo storage on the web, moodles & wikis, a new year in iran, trying to get flash animations to pause (???)...but then two people got on who were actually in paris and were trying to connect with each other in order to a result, paris-type names were flying about: latin quarter, rueil-malmaison, roissy-rueil, etc. it was mentioned that the students are rioting; students are planning something for thursday; it's quite lively out there, and the words "1968" are being heard frequently.

i thought of my green truck, and then, the fact that, at least in my head, the words "1968" are heard a lot here too. i was encouraged by the feeling of being there, in paris, because, while the rest of us, alone at our computers, had one foot at home (bc canada, carbondale, abu dhabi, nantes, tehran, changsha city china, boston), the other in cyberspace, these two were on the ground, working out a reunion, actually giving us a feeling for the place. a feeling, maybe, that just came mostly from the place names, but an interesting feeling anyway.

then it turns out that the wallet is on its way back, my faith in the good people of tampa/tesol/ramada well-founded, my karma still good, or maybe just the luck of the irish. happy nowrooz (iranian new year) to all, and a good spring too. may the flowers return...and the last cold spell break for good.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

come back from tampa, some sun on my face, slightly lighter in the back pocket, got my green '68 ford from the paducah kentucky airport on st. patty's day & drove it home. saw the salukis losing a little at an airport 'tequiladora' - a nearby family was uni fans- but iowa, uni, so. illinois, kansas all lost in the first round, sparing me a dilemma of who to push for in the second (salukis & hawkeyes being in the same bracket).

all is well at home, my wife is frazzled, but the kids still recognize me, and i'm glad to see everyone. it's cold here. of the 1.7 mi. to school that constitutes my entire commute, about .9 of it is arena parking lot & campus roads, now closed for repair. a quiet, lonely stretch vast enough that they can blow fireworks there in summer & generally not hit anything. my obsession with the arena dates from the times i would walk in at night, to get some exercise, and its round majestic nature dominating a cool & vast stretch of asphalt would light my path. for memory's sake i stay loyal to iowa, pitt state, any place i've lived & suffered, but now i'm a saluki - though none of these teams make it far, i'll stick with the dawgs 'til the end.

tampa- a californiyish place, strip malls, dazzling water & pounding sun, a welcome break. but now, it's back to the valley.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

so, at a horseracing track called hawthorne, a horse called saluki cheerleader won the race. long shot, i guess!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

-salukis win gateway, cheerleader gives spirit
-term comes to end, papers fly, students anguish
-cold snap carries on, daffodils wait patiently
-train song laid down on cd track
-son-in-law's wedding postponed
-podcast remains in orbit, very little contact from headquarters
-fifteen wal-mart term-papers finished
-interfaith center fights for survival....keep the faith...more later!

Friday, March 03, 2006

the banjo is back...has a new head, but still needs restrung. this is a priority, over all the rest...taxes, finding bookends, etc. there's a possibility of laying down a track with it this weekend.

meanwhile southern illinois has become very cold. a false spring, then, wham, those early flowers are sorry. but it's really winter's last is lively, wal-mart is about finished, linguistics flaps in the breeze, & the podcast is up (go to iTunes & type in CESL) but all is well at home - & carbondale seems like its usual contentious, unpredictable, & ever-changing self...a lot like iowa, only more so.