Friday, May 30, 2008

ok ok so i haven't posted for a while, got busy, had no access, blah blah, but mainly, just got busy. now i'm full scale back into grading, doing html already getting old because too much detail and too many little errors to correct is a little to similar to the bone-crushing detail of paper-grading. my students are hard at work researching the ice shelf collapse of the antarctic, and this is very interesting if only because carbondale is beginning to get steamy, inhospitable, too hot for comfort. my classes themselves are smaller and more manageable- only 22-paper stacks as opposed to 38-paper- but, a stack is a stack, full time is full time & that's it. break times i do pop art...see andy warhol? our computers warholize anything we have in our office. so i'll give you an art tour of images in my office. first one- ancestors. second one- media.

have been experiencing sore wrist, and was afraid of carpal tunnel syndrome. one night it was so bad i went to bed before i'd even finished grading, but that happens often. and my life is not all that bad- though i grade from 9-11 or 12 sometimes, i often leave work early or swim, in other words, i'm just filling out an 8-hr. day or sometimes more. so anyway i go to bed worrying about carpal-tunnel, remember i'm a fiddler, don't want to lose that wrist, and wake up at maybe 3 am with my hand clenched completely, thousand pounds of pressure on my grading fist. why? i have no idea. it's like those people who grind their teeth to a nub. it answered the question...why is my wrist in pain?

it all will work out. down there in the antarctic, where ice shelves keep collapsing and falling into the sea, it turns out that the poles are shifting, and that that's where the deepest seawater comes up, churns around, and mixes. it's where the atlantic pours into the pacific, or the other way around. it's where, if you have a drain, say, on your roof, and lots of sticks get caught up in there, all kinds of hell might break loose. and consider, not only do we have the greenhouse thing going on, but we have that huge collection of plastic and debris sitting out there in the center of the ocean, in the backwater, the brackish place where debris ends up when all the other water is moving. so i think this inquiry into watkins ice shelf may turn out to be interesting...i'll keep you posted.

maybe i can put watkins ice shelf on a pop-art piece. now there's a cultural icon for ya. chou

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

from last winter:

picture break

Sunday, May 18, 2008

went out to a graduation party today, a celebration of a friend who, now 18, made it all the way through high school, and had family out there, from around illinois and wisconsin, to celebrate. it was out on a windy country road, with steep dropoffs, shawnee forest on both sides, stunningly beautiful, yet dangerous, and a starkly clear-blue sky for most of it too. the graduate had some friends there, also graduating, a little nervous, i think, as i would be, at such a big moment. if only because you are standing on the precipice, able to go each way, and it's a long fall, don't get dizzy. my daughter slouched a little when she went up to get her diploma (this was many years ago); i'd always had bad posture, so when her mom jumped on her (verbally) for slouching, i was naturally defensive on her behalf, but i also felt like saying, hey, if you consider all that adulthood holds for us, after eighteen, after graduation, it's enough to make anyone slouch. and it's a surprise more of them don't get into car wrecks on graduation night- as that could be as good as it's ever going to get.

artistically got into two new directions recently- one being that the camera at work does a "pop art" picture automatically, thus making one able to create pop art classics out of whatever one puts in front of the camera. after doing this a few times i came up with what i thought were a couple of good ones (see iowa, top one, and starbucks lady among others) then started thinking- what am i doing? falling into line behind marilyn, and the campbell's soup can? so i looked up andy warhol- so many links i couldn't begin to bring them to you- and he was from pittsburgh, by the way, where there is a museum to him even now. so what is this "pop art" movement- and, more to the point- now that our computers can just make this stuff out of everything in our environment, does a pop-art aficionado now go looking at the world, and making pop-art silkscreens out of every icon one encounters? consider the starbucks lady to be my marilyn- the map of iowa, my campbell's soup can. then, the next question, how does one turn these back around, so they are not mirror images? how does one not make a statement about iowa, that it is, artistically, the reverse of, say, marilyn, or, maybe, campbell's soup?

then, tonight, i watched 8 Mile, a good movie, about eminem, and rap, and culture, namely detroit culture (with 8 Mile itself, obviously, itself a line between cultures). i spent time growing up in that area, toledo to be exact, (as well as pittsburgh) so some of the street scenes were hauntingly familiar- and, for example, i felt that when they did the arson (and they got away with it, apparently) they were bringing detroit to us, as any good movie does- it gets right down in the center of the feeling. about rap, i can only say, it seems that if it has a tune at all, it's a crossover piece, intended to get us tuneheads hooked and drawn in, as the beat is really all there is. and the f- words everywhere- at every junction, said in every imaginable way- i could only be grateful that i don't live around that so much- as i was sick of it quickly, yet when it's your life, it's a lot harder to just walk out. good movie, i thought, powerful- good music too.

finally, in a week that was, technically, vacation, where i became engrossed in coding of arcane research interests (see also my linguistics cave, where i at least thought about restoring old and fascinating material)- in a week with lots of kids but not much sleep, wife out of town, when we spent thousands on pounding on our roof, and i had time to notice it- and went and insured it, down at the corner that flooded not too long ago, near the drug store- a week that started with mother's day and siuc graduation, and ended with h.s. graduation (above)- in the middle of this week, some poor guy on a wheelchair was hit by a train- right in the center of town, and it took a few days to find out that it was, in fact, someone i didn't know, and that, no, as far as they could tell, the wheelchair was not stuck, and, yes, it was right in the center of town, right at lunch hour. it rattled everyone, and upset them, and someone i talked to even got very angry, at the people in the cars, who were presumably there as they always are, and surely should have seen it coming and could have done something about it. but i could scarcely imagine even seeing it, don't know if i would have thought of the right thing, seeing as my mind drifts every time the white railroad crossing bar comes down in front of me. and then, if he wasn't stuck, as was originally reported, then what? no, i'm not mad at the drivers, & don't want to say much about someone i didn't actually know, though in a town this small, one actually kind of knows just about everyone, when you get right down to it, and that's why we're all just a little unbalanced by the whole thing. it reminded me that, at one time, i'd actually made an entire blog about that very spot- and it's still there, called boxcars on walnut- and it's primarily a site about living in a small town, when the train comes by, and, though one's mind is free, to count boxcars or whatever, well, who knows, anything can happen. and a person can cross a set of tracks, maybe a dozen times a day, and still feel a little nervous, a twinge of apprehension, every single time, and these days a prayer, for a soul, for my own balance, with the big weight of life, on a narrow rail, and a clear summer sun reflecting off the the insurance, get some sleep, grab the kids, tight, & don't let on why i'm nervous, or even short-tempered. it's just that summer's coming, and it gets a little hot around here, a little steamy, usually before you know it. but it's ok, these things pass, too, and tomorrow's another day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Freshly Doug, a short story, it'll take about ten minutes of your time, comments welcome. i gave up, temporarily, on trying to come up with big mac murders. if they happen, they happen. if not, roll with the punches, i say. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

now that it's break, i've got to get that ugly-looking pile (post below) out of sight. i'm done with it. i've got other things going on.

first, i had a colonoscopy- if you'd like to know more, read dave barry's version- believe me it wasn't quite that humorous, but humor is a good way to take it. once again it reminds me of my fallibility, my mortality- makes me hug the boys a few extra times, and be grateful i have health insurance. got out of the hospital, hung around the house moping a little, got the young ones worried that i didn't follow them around fast enough, and now, back on my feet, ready to think about business, which, if i really were to slog through it, would be incredibly dull. but i have become driven to really get to what counts.

it might be that, on my way to work, i choose between two different routes through pulliam, the large old building with the clocktower that dominates siu and blocks my path, from the parking lot in its shadow, to my office building. the walk is short, but there are two possibilities, and either way leads up past a japanese garden, carefully attended, but across from which is construction land, with overgrown grasses, piles of construction junk with snakes coming out from under it, etc. my choices are: go directly under the 12 o'clock tower: up the stairs, and past the inscription, and then down the long hill to the japanese garden. or: go around, through the metalworkers' patio, with the kiln, back by the swimmer's entrance, up the back steps past the iron stars in the metal window casings, and then down the long hill, this time cutting across the grass, to the japanese garden.

the inscription says: so enter- that daily thou mayest become more learned and thoughtful- so depart- that daily thou mayest become more useful to thy country and to mankind (from inscription found at padua university)(dashes inserted by me, but naturally placed according to placement of words)...what is interesting about this inscription is this. working for a large institution, i am often confronted with varying commands- i have so many superiors, and all with different motives. not to say they are always opposing, but sometimes, they have different directions. i owe my life, my living, my dinner to the university- my paycheck comes from it- so it's a matter of some importance which i should follow. and this is particularly of interest to me since i have about seventy hours of work to cram into only about forty five or fifty hours, in a given week. in the end, i make my own priorities, i judge, what can be done, and what can't. and a lot of it can't.

back around the swimmer's courtyard, i mention the metal stars, because once, at a coffeehouse with similar metal stars mounted or stuck onto a brick facade, i was told by some coffeehouse denizen that those five-pointed metal stars represented the fact that the given building was a place where horses could be boarded and fed. ??? the pulliam pool??? this particular grass spot is in the shadow of pine trees, smells very good in the rain, but quite treacherous, as a forgotten set of stairs, in a good ice storm...being in the back, the forgotten area of the building. though the metalworkers, the potters, the kiln-firers, and the swimmers are well familiar with the little place, it's the kind of place where a window can be broken, and the glass will sit there for a while until someone notices it, comes along and cleans it up. it's not a high priority. yet it's peaceful, a more gradual ascent than the inscription stairway, more of my time outdoors, and often i favor it for those reasons. my question is: did they ever board horses at pulliam? that would be a story...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

i feel like i've just run a marathon, but a mental one- slogging through thousands of words, of what could best be described as developmental grammar, compounded by the fact that i had many students, and my system ensures that they don't cheat, i.e. they wrote every single word of it themselves. i'd fall asleep nights grading, wake up and grade again, try and get some of the papers back to them, try to explain to the non-passers why it was not passing. the peak of it was last night- up until about three, crunching numbers, getting final grades, which i then handed back today.

at work, taking a minute off of grading, i'd snap pictures with a classy computer, which has a "photo booth" option...kind of like the old xerox art days, turning to the visual when the words just seem like so much confetti. if a picture is worth a thousand words, i think i'll raise the price on the pictures as the words all seem to be like garbage can lids on an interstate- just so much noise. it's a good time to work on my squares, my visuals in general, here on the web, but, i have other plans too...i'm heading into a week off, with lots going on.

still thinking about my trip to new york- speaking of a marathon, at one point i walked the entire length of avenue of the americas, which i took to be my central artery, since the hotels were on it. saw all the neighborhoods that it went through- saw the library, saw midtown, saw a bicyclist get hit by a car- saw times square through the buildings, at one point, as it was only one block away. i even saw a very old church and a very high fence that i'd seen before- and even written about, i believe, though i'm not sure i could find it. it was a basketball court, fenced in so completely that errant shots would never escape. saw some hollowed out neighborhoods, places where i wasn't sure who lived there or why.

why would i be remembering this? don't know. carbondale is lush in its greenness, flowers abloom everywhere, grass growing faster than a person can mow it. builders are changing the shape of our house, leaving the place not restful, not even the same from one day to the next. sleep is where a person can get it, but there hasn't been much, and the busy-ness of the season is beginning to heat up, before summer sets in and it gets crowded in a different way- the humidity pushes on you.

yet the camera plays- it turns stuff inside out, and makes color where my eyes have only seen faded sepia. makes little dots, and andy warhol design- though i myself can scarcely read a box score, or another bill. i'm tired, and need a break- don't mind teaching writing, i've learned a lot, i've been watching the way people pick stuff up...but the words, endless, by the million: they get like high water sometimes...time to get up on a roof, as they used to say in kansas, and wait it out. what else can you do? quick, before it rains again.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday, May 01, 2008

word comes tonight that an old friend of mine, michael roe, passed away, back in iowa, probably not far from a place called pilotsville, if i have that right, not too far from kalona and wellman, out in washington county, where i used to live. i didn't know him well, poured concrete with him, maybe, a time or two, but he was friend, and his close friends were also close friends of mine, MC, DW, PW, some of those folks. back then the kalona area had a lot of amish, and people who settled around there but weren't amish, were known as english. but they also had a somewhat closed social world, so those of us who weren't either, but were outsiders, all knew each other pretty well, it seemed, & i'll never forget.

these days my life is a huge stack of papers, as the pictures here and on my work weblog will testify. somewhat timeless, i'm left, late at night, totally beaten by a grammatical jumble that i'm unable to read. yet unable to sleep also, thinking of wellman, the english river, the back roads & buggies, pink porch & muscovy ducks, leonid & nikita. also, still thinking of a recent trip to new york, on which i spent a lot of time on the subway, two bucks a ride, watching how people lived and got back & forth from queens, up on the platform, down in the tunnels, where the tiles neatly laid out into a picture, one of them saying 57th street, all laid out beautifully by some tile-layer, deep underground in a dark cavern, where who knows who will come down the stairs, and nobody even notices it except me, & i wonder why there are no images of it on the googleimage. it is one of the premier sights of all, i was thinking, standing on the cement waiting for the n-train. new york was kind of timeless also- i had no watch, no cell phone, and the town had no clocks, none at all, maybe they thought everyone just had it taken care of somehow. everybody and their brother got on this particular train, and at some point an entire mariachi band complete with stand-up bass and everyone dressed in fine red and blue silk shirts got on, waited an entire stop, then started singing a winsome mexican country tune that inexplicably made me cry. then of course they passed the hat, and i gave, this is not something i can get refunded for back at the office.

in iowa, there were gravel roads with wide turns & hidden dangers like no shoulder, deep mud, snow drifts, buggy tracks. PW got snowed in for five days; i had an old vw, 61, but almost plowed it into a buggy one icy day, road was a solid sheet of ice. we knew some people, both amish and english, who were friendly, but mostly we were on our own, and speaking for myself only here, it was unsustainable, i ended up back in town. learned alot though...lived life to its country fullest...more later, it's too late. my love to michael, and all...