Sunday, April 30, 2006

you take your refuge in some written fiction

**update, monday 5/1, 4pm...

apparently boy did stephen colbert do quite the number at the white house correspondent's dinner this weekend. pissed off the decider-in-chief by lampooning a bit too harshly. you decide for yourself by either watching the rebroadcasts on c-span (if you can find it on the schedule) or on-line here (part 1) and here (part 2). note that some of the images on freevideoblog might now exactly be safe for a work computer.

better yet, watch it at youtube....

part 1, then part 2, then part 3.

or...not. copyright issues (at c-span?)

it's up at the c-span website, as well as here (though without the taped piece featuring helen thomas). the taped piece is at crooks & liars, which covers the 2nd half of the speech.

(despite this) is there anything better than youtube? bill simmons puts it best, in an article about why he likes sports. but it's applicable to everything you can find on youtube, which by now seems the entirety of human existence that's ever been taped or filmed...
Reason No. 877:

Just in the past week, I watched a clip of an old Mike Tyson interview with Jim Gray where he repeatedly praises Allah, then vows to eat Lennox Lewis' children. I watched a clip of A-Rod wiping down his bat during a game in the most inflammatory way possible. I watched a montage clip of horrible Jets draft picks over the years, followed by the crazed reactions of the Jets fans as the picks were announced (did anything top the Jeff Lageman pick?). I watched a clip of an interview in which an aging Iron Sheik repeatedly vowed to, um, humiliate other wrestlers in the most emotionally scarring way possible. I watched the famous clip of Joe Namath trying to kiss Suzy Kolber. I watched the clip of the "boom goes the dynamite!" guy for the umpteenth time. I even watched the clip of Roddy Piper slamming the coconut against Jimmy Snuka's head.

So here's my question: In a million years, did you ever think this would happen? One decade ago, I didn't even have an e-mail address or know what the Internet was ... now I can watch Piper slam a coconut against Snuka's head whenever I want? What will the world be like 10 years from now? Is it possible to procrastinate for 24 hours a day? Are we headed that way?

colbert's routine is worth the time to watch, if you haven't already. if you already watch the colbert report (and if not, why not?), you'll know what to expect. full transcript is here.

monday night's activity looks to be the monthly porchlight storytelling series at the swedish american hall above cafe du nord. should be interesting, as it's all about working in the film industry.

man about town

another day of apartment hunting and wandering around town, this time through the mission, noe valley, nob hill, tenderloin, civic center and hayes valley. as i've mentioned before, i love walking through walkable cities, and san francisco is an especially amazing city for wandering, especially on a mostly sunny and mild day, which yesterday was.

starting in the mission, the first leg of the journey covered over 6.5 miles, and took me through the mission, noe valley, up to castro street, back through the park area, and even more retracing to meet up with a wandering companion. after all that hiking, a brief respite for very good tacos (carne asada and chorizo) at taqueria el buen sabor on valencia.

included was a side trip down a mission alley to check out a mural done by a friend of wandering companion...

...there were also potatoes...

nob hill was the next destination, so on we went to bart. the swing up nob hill featured a quick apartment viewing, a walk through grace cathedral, and then sit down at cafe gallery on mason to grab cup of coffee. while i love that they use la colombe coffee (from philadelphia), the brewing strength was pretty weak. i lived in philly and went to la colombe often. their coffee shouldn't be wimpy.

that was all followed by another mile or so trekking along post st... dinner at chai yo (ginger salad, ginger tofu with scallions) then over to hayes ave for drinks at place pigalle.

in total, about 10 miles walked during the day (hopefully i'll have my legs for a soccer game this afternoon). no lease signed, but that just means another excuse to wander some more.

a brief word of praise for the g-map pedomter. if you want to know how far you've walked, or how far you'll need to walk, it's an awesome tool.

Friday, April 28, 2006

love with the proper congressman

via daily kos...

wow. i mean...WOW. this could be huge. lobbyists providing sitting congressmen with call girls. wow. and apparently it's been going on for about 15 years. wow.

nothing like a juicy sex scandal to turn d.c. upside down.

i wonder how many of those who end up implicated in this mess will be some of the more vocal family values moralizers, and more specifically, it'll be interesting to see how many of them pilloried bill clinton for his indiscretions.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

i am messy marvin

for the second time in less than a week i spilled coffee on my necktie. now i'm not nuts about having to wear a tie, but it's what the boss wants and they pay me well, so no big deal. plus, i have generally good taste in neckwear, thus i look good.

but if this continues, i'm going to end up having to take all my ties to the cleaners. though i should feel lucky i was wearing the tie, because the white shirt would have been wasted by the coffee (though not if i had been wearing one of my cool vintage thin ties...they look great, but don't catch as much errant coffee).

so the tie was more like a bib. which is maybe what is should start wearing while coffee's in the mug...a bib.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

mission to morocco - update

well, the tickets are booked and on june 15 it's off i go from sfo. get to cairo (via frankfurt) early evening june 16, stay a week then off to morocco june 23. back to sfo on july 2 via cairo, including a flight that gets to cairo (from casablanca) about 12:40am, then i leave 5 hours later for the journey home (via frankfurt and denver).

now it's all about crafting some sort of itinerary that includes cairo, pyramids, mt. siani, alexandria, casablanca, marrakech, fez, essaouira...doing it all in a little over two weeks.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

post hoc ergo propter hoc? or...

...don't you wish your boy/girlfriend was hot like me? or beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

so on saturday, watching some firemen do their stuff during a fire drill, a coworker asks me "why is it that all firemen are hot?"

i thought for a second, and my answer to her was that whether or not they are objectively hot they become hot by virtue of being firemen. that is, same guy, dressed the exact same way, talks to a girl in a bar. she asks what he does, he says "fireman". he's instantly hotter than an actuary (no offense to actuaries intended or implied, it's just that there's a reason the marlboro man doesn't wear a green eye shade and sit at a computer).

i've long had a corollary theory that women in new york are generally hotter by virtue of being new yorkers than if they look the same, are dressed the same and in d.c. or philly or boston. something about the way they carry themselves, the nyc style...that i'm starting to develop a similar thing about san fran women as well drives home the point that it's all context, the people we find attractive.

and this is a different thing than what makes a better long-term partner, explored by leah over at agirlandaboy. i'm talking feel it in your guts/loins hot.

there's a related thing having to do with bollywood romances, but this post is toolongalready and i'm too tired from a long 5 days of work and too little sleep, a soccer game in which i played crappy in net and sprained a finger.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

i'm in los angeles today, it smells like an airport runway

quick in-and-out trip to l.a. tonight and tomorrow. i won't even leave the immediate aiport the plane, to an airport hotel, work-related functions tonight, tomorrow morning and late afternoon, then back up here by 6pm. i've done trips like this before, and it's always so surreal to me...traveling without seeing anything.

and wow, that's two death cab song references in a row.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

your heart is an empty room

Back in the fall I twice saw previews for The War Within and wanted very much to see the film. For whatever reason, it didn't get a wide theatrical release and I was excited to see it out on dvd, so added it to the Netflix queue. It makes a good companion piece to Paradise Now, which I saw a few weeks ago.

Written by and starring Ayad Akhtar, and directed by his Columbia Film School compatriot Joseph Castelo, The War Within is an intense look at the personal and interpersonal conflicts that arise when a Pakistani man, Hassan, is driven to wanting to commit an act of suicide terrorism on American soil.

Akhtar is sort of an accomplished unknown, clearly someone to watch. He's crafted a taut, tense script with believable dialogue. It's not preachy, it's not overwrought or maudlin. He plays Hassan full of brooding conviction, a man who bears the physical and mental scars of his time being interrogated and tortured in a Pakistani jail after having been snatched off the streets of Paris. Hassan isn't presented as a raving fanatic. It's almost as if he's an everyman who just happens to have come to the US on a mission to wreak havoc, death and destruction. He has become, though, loveless, unable to connect to anything or anyone save for his hatred of the west and his hope for salvation through the ultimate sacrifice to his cause.

There are glimpses as to why Hassan becomes radicalized, but they are fleeting and surface-level. Though it might have provided some more depth to have explored that territory a bit more, too much focus might have distracted from the central story, which revloves around how two boyhood best friends ended up in such different places, and what happens when they confront each other's new realities.

The relationship between Sayeed and Hassan has become strained. Sayeed is a physician, having accepted some Western ways and befriending Americans. Hassan views America as an evil oppressor. Still they bound together by old forces -- the obvious attraction between Hassan and Sayeed's sister Duri (played by the astonishingly beautiful Nandana Sen, daughter of Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen. She's fast becoming a Bollywood star) and the budding relationship that Hassan develops with Sayeed's impressionable young son Ali. In a key moment, Sayeed grdugingly allows his friend, who he by then knows to have become orthodox, to teach Ali how to pray.

It's not perfect, but it is often gripping, and you come to care about the characters, even Hassan, as you hope that he lets go of his hate and accepts what could be a fulfilling life among good friends in a land that offers him, a Western educated (schooled in the US and France) engineer, plenty of opportunity.

As I've written before, seeing and being moved by a film like this is not any tacit or explicit affirmation of the motives of terrorists. This kind closed-mindedness, given national voice by the likes of Charles Krauthammer, shows a fundamental misundertanding of one of the main purposes of art -- to make us confront our interpretations of reality and understand why we think the way we do and understand why others might come away with a completely different view of the same reality.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

emotional rescue

Reading the aforementioned Year of Living Dangerously, I was particularly struck by this paragraph, as it could have been written about me (last paragraph in chapter 2):
Like most men who live alone, and have reached their maturity single, Hamilton had done so by numbing his feelings at crucial times, and turning to action for relief. Not selfish in a petty way, he nevertheless preferred the odourless, ethereal tensions of the world and his job to other people's emotions - with which, perhaps, he was mostly at a loss. And so he was often calmly unaware of their true natures, intensities and needs, floating and dissolving around him.
Now, this isn't me exactly -- I'm hardly a loner, I generally prefer being around people to being by myself. But the essence of what Koch writes resonates with how I see myself sometimes -- being more often self-identified as single rather than coupled, I tend to keep very busy with lots of extra-curricular activities -- music, soccer, volunteer fundraising, photography -- and I tend to keep the world at (a slightly bent) arm's length. It's not that I don't notice or care about the "true natures, intensities, and needs" of others (I'm actually very observant and sensitive to other people's emotions), I just don't usually let those kinds of things in too deep. It's easier not to...emotionally it's safer. The result is I come off as much more aloof and removed than I actually am. It's also a product of the terrible shyness that I had when I was younger and which I have only in the last 6-8 years mostly gotten over. Not completely, but mostly.

Not sure if this is a symptom or a function of my singlehood. It fits though, with a comment that someone recently made about my pictures -- "there's no people in your photos". Some of that stems from my reticence to take candid shots of people, my feeling that I'm intruding into their space. But a good deal it is in line with the way in which Koch portrays Guy Hamilton.

we should take a walk but you're such a fast walker

One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city is to walk it. Pick an area and explore it, block to block. It's the kind of thing I tend to do on my own, mainly because I like to set my own pace and follow whatever whim hits me as to where to go, where to stop in for a spell...

I've been here 10 months and planning to stay a long time, so I'm not a visitor. Still it was, then, that I decided today to take advantage of the cancellation of the Sunday soccer league game to spend the afternoon wandering the Mission District, scoping out where I want to live, getting a sense of the character of the area. A mostly sunny day punctuated by the odd rain shower, it was a good day for meandering.

Starting from the 16th & Mission BART station I went up to Valencia and then up towards 25th Street. The highlights of Valencia are of course the numerous book stores, thrift shops, furniture stores and places to eat and drink. Stopped in Community Thrift and poked around a bit.

The best part (for me) was the selection of used books, and I picked up The Year of Living Dangerously and Jay McInerney's Model Behavior for $1 each. I'm already 70 pages into The Year, which is one I've been wanting to read since seeing the Peter Weir film adaptation (with Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt doing a gender-bending turn as a male photographer). In a similar vein I need to get around to reading The Quiet American (and more Graham Geene for that matter)...something about that period of Southeast Asian history and the intersection of post-colonialism and the West's fear of communism spreading throughout the region has long intrigued me. Way back I enjoyed Bright Lights (though the movie version was crap), but nothing McInerney's done since has realy grabbed me. This one is supposed to be pretty good.

Though my goal at the outset was to sample a taqueria or three, I ambled into the Javalencia Cafe and got a very tasty smoked turkey sandwich. The bread was fresh and flavorful, and the honey-mustard dressing worked well with the tomato and sprouts.

After working my way up and along the main streets and side steets, I got to Dolores Park just as the sunshine was at its best of the day.

Unfortunately for the kids, the effects of the rain were still evident...

...though some kids did manage to play on the puddle-enclosed slide and jungle gym.

After some time in the park, I worked my way up Guerrero from 18th to 24th, stopping in at Cafe Que Tal to escape a brief rain with some coffee and a chocolate chip cookie.

The Mission reminds me in many ways of the San Telmo area of Buenos Aires...

Clearly the Latin influence has something to do with it, but beyond that it was the edgy but natural energy of the neighborhoods, the sense that the people who live there are happy to be in a place with some character, and make an effort to maintain that vibe. It's also because of the mix of San Telmo, the Mission isn't (well, yet anyway) a bunch of's really an "from all walks of life" kind of area.

The effect of the day is to confirm my suspicion that the Mission is where I want to live, preferably from about 18th-25th, between Valenica and the park. The side streets like San Jose and Fair Oaks are especially appealing...close enough to the action but not right in the middle of it. Now the fun part...actually finding a place to live.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

everyone's a critic and most people are djs

Neither rain nor gloom of day will deter me from a farmer's market trip and more importantly from playing soccer today. First match in almost a month. Mud? ha...i laugh at you.

(update...4:30)...tie game, 3-3. I was in goal for the second half, playing first half at sweeper back. I did let in the last goal with a few minutes to play on a shot I arguably had no chance at saving...point blank, wide open. I suppose I could have come out to cut the angle, but if I do that even a second too soon the guy's got an easy chip over my head, and right now he's a better striker than I am a keeper. I could say that the defender shouldn't have let the guy turn to shoot, but it's never cool to pass the buck. Bottom line, I didn't make the save. Still, a well-played and fun match. And no mud...we were on an artificial turf field.

The haul at the famer's market was some good looking spinach, more of the tangelos mentioned a week or so back, avocados (need to get some cheese and french bread to go with them) and green beans.

The playlist as of late...

* The M's - Mansion in the Valley. More mp3s on their website
* The Hard Tomorrows - Put Yourself Out.
* Fountains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song (no mp3 available, so here are the chords and lyrics). must be all the rain...i find myself changing the chorus to "the rain is coming down, in our bayside town, and it's been falling all month long"
* The Hold Steady - The Swish
* Kelley Stoltz - Rescue (echo & the bunnymen cover)

Finally saw Amelie last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of those I just somehow hadn't gotten to until now. And that includes the month that it sat in its Netflix sleeve on the living room table. The main point here is to point to this (unintended) hysterical review of it on the world socialist webiste. Among my favorite lines..."All of Jeunet’s characters in Amelie are semi-proletarian, but far removed from what might be regarded as ordinary." Someone paid attention in film school when they covered Marxist rhetorical critique. (/snark)

Friday, April 14, 2006

suddenly this summer

wow, all of a sudden i'm realizing that summer is almost upon us. sure, calendar-wise it's still 60 days or so away, but so many things seem to be intertwined and happening a once that i need to get moving now...

* planning for the trip. the logistics of doing both egypt and morocco are a bit daunting. airfare's pretty steep, but manageable. but there are so many permutations on getting to-from-from-to that sussing out the best itinerary may require a travel agent.

* moving to the city. east bay's nice, but i'm a city guy. so i move before the trip? secure a place for a move immediately after getting back? if right before or after, can i sublet my place in east bay? if not i'll be paying double rent. or do i wait til the lease is up in august?

all this, and the work queue looks to be mighty involved, both with job-specific stuff and independent research i want to do, including a paper proposal that was accepted for publication, so i'll actually have the analysis and write the damn thing.

plus, then there's you having fun. there are books to read, movies to see, music to hear (and play, maybe), improv classes to take, surfing to do more of, soccer to play, people to meet...

to the question of a place to live in the city, any leads on a place are welcome. main requirement is within 10-15 minutes walk (or muni, but preferably walk) of a bart station. option to get parking would be nice as well but not a deal breaker.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

talking with the taxman about poetry...

...and procrastination. Yes, I haven't done my taxes yet. Guess what's in store for this evening...

(update, 11:20pm)...refund's not quite what i expected, but the vagaries of relocation expense reimbursement and some consulting money lowered it. but at least it's done.

the soundtrack for the night was kelley stoltz's latest and the violent femmes first. mp3s from stoltz are here. in particular, check out his echo & the bunnymen covers. "rescue" is pretty damned good, which for me is saying something as that's one of my favorite echo songs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

sunny day real estate

A reminder of what a sunny day feels like...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

...and everywhere

a rain soaked and busy work-day, but the goal was the calexico in-store at amoeba, and it was worth the trip. they hit the right notes, struck the right chord, set the right mood. i almost didn't go, but i said "screw the rain" and even found parking in the haight. go me.

that was followed by a zipping trip downtown to meet friends for a dinner at the grand cafe at monaco hotel. my dish was a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with some sort of pork thing elsewhere on the plate. essentially, lots of pig. but very good, in that french bistro sort of way. good wine, good company...i'm now sad that the conference is over.

driving home i was transfixed by the concretes cover of the stones "miss you". also from that record, Layourbattleaxedown , the song "sugar", featuring the line "he gives me sugar again instead of salt, and it keeps me running back for more".

i'll ask nicely now...please...someone...stop the rain. please?

here and there

Great dinner last night at Fior d'Italia in North Beach. Excellent company of good friends made better by good food and wine. We started out with a special antipasti plate featuring prawns sauteed with lemon and garlic, dungeness crab, tomato with basil and mozzarella and melon wrapped in prosciutto. Among the dishes ordered were a cioppino, gnocchi, a rack of lamb...our waiter was a total pro who didn't mind the slightly ribald talk towards the end, even participated (with a good joke) and gave us each a small serving of a delicious after-dinner wine. High recommendation for an SF landmark. Actually ended up walking back from North Beach to my car parked at a lot on Mission at 5th. But the clear, cool evening made for great walking.

Also good on the eating meter was Sunday night's post-receptioning taco expedition to the Mission (Taqueria Jose, 24th & Mission). High marks for the place from a very diverse group of folks, some very wise in the ways of tacos, some virtual neophytes. I had the ceviche tostada and a chorizo taco, both very good.

I always get nervous recommending restaurants and movies to friends, and I'm always relieved (and validated?) when the recs turn up to be good.

An odd thing about having the conference in my home town -- I felt oddly disconnected from the immediacy and totality of the experience. Since I could mix work and conference, I did, splitting a few days between office and conference, so I wasn't around the whole time for it, and I didn't have a hotel room in the immediate vicinty (I commuted back and forth each day). So I was there but not there. The no close-by room also meant that the usual crash time you can have between sessions and the evening activities wasn't really there. Hard to keep going for 12-14 hours a day without any real quiet and sequestered downtime. Still a productive time, getting great ideas for projects and feeling reconnected to my work in a more global sense, stepping away from the minutia of the daily grind.

Did spend a bit of downtime yesterday reading and people-watching in Union Square and more importantly searching the racks at Rasputin. Among the haul was older stuff from Calexico and the Concretes and the latest from Matt Pond PA. Tonight of course is the Calexico in-store at Amoeba. So musically and foodly, a good couple of days.

Monday, April 10, 2006

talk amongst yourselves

From today's Wired Campus Blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education...

From the Ivory Tower to the Internet

An article in U.S. News & World Report takes note of a less-than-shocking phenomenon: Graduate students, it turns out, are among the Web's most devoted bloggers. (Young people with high-speed Internet access and plenty of opinions make good bloggers? Who'd've thunk it?)

But the story is well worth reading because it offers some nicely detailed glimpses into the different motivations of student bloggers. Some of the blogs are, as stereotypes suggest, outlets for political musings or personal minutia. But others, like Oh, Snap! (written by a graduate student in education) and Over My Med Body! (a handsome blog penned by a medical student) give readers an uncensored, inside look at the upper levels of academe. Those bloggers often find themselves wondering how to reconcile their online personae with their academic pursuits: Should they use pseudonyms? Can they criticize their colleges? What if a professor finds their blogs?

The sad truth might be, however, that...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

every day is like sunday

amazing what a few (ok, 9) good hours of sleep can do. back and ready to go at it. there's actually an interesting panel on community college transfer issues. hopefully it won't be in one of the glorified closets that the moscone conference center calls meeting rooms. and tonight is reception hell, with too many conflicting events. what's a guy to do when there's so many people to see? weather-wise, the call is for more rain...apparently yesterday was just a brief respite.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

another sunny day, i met you out in the garden

What a gorgeous friggin day. GORGEOUS. The scene at Yerba Buena...

Which of course didn't stop me from a late afternoon session at the Chieftan with an old friend...

Hefeweizen is such a great sunny day beer.

Long day but a good day. Well received paper commentary, which I appreciated, since the inspiration for the comments came all of a sudden, in a mad rush, and it was all I could do to keep my pen up with my brain as I was writing down the notes.

Then it was hours of missed connections and connected connections, and now it's apparent that the last few weeks, and in particular the last few days, have caught up with me.

now it'szzzzzzzzzz.........

pride (in the name of {?})

a question posed among friends, to which no satisfactory answer was given...

when it becomes obvious that two people who want the same thing are sending very indirect (maybe even passive-aggressive) but obvious messages to each other through an intermediary of any what point is the time to shit or get off the pot? what's gained? what's lost? who's first (and why)?

so. central rain (i'm sorry)

what a shock, another rainy norcal day. the out-of-towners couldn't quite understand our frustrations. no matter, good to see some infrequently seen friendly faces again.

dinner was colibri...mexican food served tapas style. some chorizo con quesofundido, lamb shank, chicken, filet mignon, good margaritas. mmm...good.

post dinner was mellow drinks at hotel rex (in the comfy chairs from the picture).

great that i'm up at 1am posting when i have a relatively early day tomorrow, including a morning session. bleh.

Friday, April 07, 2006

all tomorrow's parties

last night's activity was the opening at 111 minna. interesting scene, art just so-so, with the exception of adrienne yan's drawings, which i really dug. followed by a light bite at zebulon. excellent spring rolls. and what one of the people writes in the yelp review is spot's a bit too loud for the room. just a touch mellower..set the mood, don't make it impossible to's a small place.

saturday i'm going to try and convince my out of town friends (or at least those with art habits like mine) to go to the make out room for writers with drinks.

monday might be eef barzelay, though after a big group dinner it might be hard to get people rallied. but i have enough julie mccoy in me (somehow i'm always the cruise director) that i think i can swing it.

tuesday early evening is calexico's in-store at amoeba.

this in addition to (or in spite of?) the countless receptions and lunches and coffees and other things that are part of the social aspects of the conference. oh yeah...the panels and presentations too.

some weeks there's just too much to do. (not that i'm complaining)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

party at ground zero

so last saturday? at a local farmer's market? i strolled by a stand and the guys had some orange-looking things out for sample. turned out to be tangelo slices (i didn't realize it was season for them just yet). i took one.

amazing... a citrus party in my mouth.

for some reason, i only bought three. should have bought a dozen at least. no reason to mention this other than to say if in the next week or so you see tangelos at a farmer's market or some other place where you get good produce, buy some. the first of the season seem to be extra special good.


(modified...weekend activiy musings to its own post)

mission to morocco

with apologies to pat rapa for, uh, borrowing his concept (**), i hereby launch "mission to morocco". yes, tour guide, egypt is part of it. but i like alliteration, so "mission to morocco" it is. though i guess i could make it "mission to morocco, expedition to egypt".

the basic 2+ week itinerary would be:

* fly to cairo, spend 6-8 days in egypt. a hike up sinai will be part of the deal. there will also be pyramids.

* cairo to either marrakesh or casablanca, and a couple of days in each city.

* then, as mentioned previously, a trek along the atlantic coast, chilling, eating fresh seafood, surfing, chilling.

* get to the north coast, take a ferry to spain, then a train to madrid and fly home.

why a mission? no reason really. i figure i need to state it in a public forum and to as many people as possible so that i actually make it happen.

maybe this is what i was thinking about when i mentioned being on the verge of something. or maybe it was one of the many things i sensed coming down the pike (though not all are coming exactly as i sensed originally, but since when is intuition 100%?). point being, the thought's in my head and won't get out. so, i'm on a mission.

** pat, if you read really need to blog the e-mails from the mission to denmark thing. they were some of the funniest damn things to read. and one of these days you should go to denmark.

ps -- unlike pat's mission, mine will not include a fundraising pitch. though donations will not be turned away.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

bright future in sales

two professionally related things...

* I wrote a few weeks back about Stanford's announcement that entering students with family income of less than $45,000 would be free of tuition costs, and the family contribution would be halved for students from $45K-$60K. Since then the University of Pennsylvania announced that it would provide grants to cover costs for students from families with income below $50K. Harvard, apparently in the next seat around the poker table, upped the income limit to $60K. A few years ago there was even talk (in a GOP-controlled Congress no less!) about regulating tuition costs. It appears that the market is starting to correct itself a bit, and after years of being slow to recognize the problem there's now a flurry of movement to counteract tuition costs that over the past two decades have far outpaced family income. It will be interesting to see who raises the really has become like a poker game.

* In a shocker (ok, not really), research indicates that younger Gen-X scholars claim that they want transparent tenure standards and more balance between work and personal life. I gave up a tenure-track job for a research-based administrative job precisely because I wanted to stop feeling like every spare minute should be devoted to work in order to earn tenure, and I wasn't even sure exactly what the standards for tenure were. While I respect people who are incredibly devoted to scholarship and are very prolific, I decided that I wasn't ready to give up all of my free time for the chase. I like a job where I can have KEXP playing in the background, and where I don't take work home with me as often. I work hard and I enjoy what I do, but I've finally shed the "grad school guilt" complex of always feeling like I should be working.


Totally unrelated, but worth mentioning (since I saw the story while searaching the Harvard note) is this bit about ligament regeneration work being done at Children's Hospital in Boston. I've had acl replacement and the knee's still not to 100%. Related to the acl trauma I also still have meniscus issues. What I wouldn't give to have the meniscus fully healed and regenerated. Microfracture seems to be one option, but it's not guaranteed, especially for patients over 30.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

i want to glide through those brown eyes dreaming

current favorite obsessions...

the concretes -- fiction. an instant wow song. the guitar figure's embedded in my brain. not sure how long the link will be up, so get it now. more importantly, buy the record. song snippets of each song on "in colour". more downloads at the band's website.

wilco -- i am trying to break your heart, live version from kicking television. yeah, it's like the umpteenth time i've mentioned wilco lately. but seriously, i've been playing this song, handshake drugs and shot in the arm (they're in a row on disc 1 of kicking television), non-stop for the better part of two weeks now.

anything to take the edge off weeks upon weeks of rain, no soccer games (thanks to rain and travel and work), and a $450 car repair bill.

worker's playtime

there's a professional conference in town this week, one that i go to every year. between that and another conference held in the fall, it's the one of the few chances i have in any given year to see most of my friends and colleagues from around the country, so it's a good professional and personal event. lots of good eating, drinking, socializing and yes, even professional development and interesting research presentations. this is the first year, however, when i've been to a major conference that's in the city where i'm living. which means it feels less like the special event that it normally is, and more like just part of the work-week.

the session i'm doing is on saturday -- usually doing a saturday session is no big deal...when you're away, there's not as fine a line between weekday and weekend. you're just at the conference. now i'll have to get up early on a saturday and trek to the conference center. i should also probably get around (sooner rather than later) to reading the papers on which i'm supposed to be giving expert commentary (i'm discussant at the session, which means i give public critique of the papers).

the conference being here also means i'll have to play host...recommending restaurants and other places to go, like a good dive bar or two. the latter of which i know already (go figure) - but then i'm usually able to find a good bar in a strange town anyway (again, go figure).

Sunday, April 02, 2006

what was i thinking when i let go of you

there's a peculiar irony, two intertwined ones actually, to being single and actively dating in one's mid-30s and beyond. if you have a good job that keeps you busy and you also occupy yourself with lots of "extra-curricular" activities it constrains the time necessary for getting to know someone and making the right choice.

the first irony is a product of the very experience we count on to help us make good decisions sometimes results in us using too narrow a filter. the other (and related) irony is that often we get into those extra-curriculars not just for the intrinsic value of the activity itself but to meet people with whom to be friends or lovers. even though most of us won't admit that out loud, we know it's true that the single among us do these things as much to meet potential mates as anything else. and those of us who tend to be active will be more attracted to more active people. couch-potatoes and active people rarely are a good match.

for simplicity's sake i'll suggest that you can put any date into one of three groups -- no, maybe and yes. sure, there are stronger maybes than others, but the point here is to be brief...(yeah yeah, i know it's an essay about the dangers of too quickly and ruthlessly cutting to the chase)

clearly there are times when you know for certain something won't work. and usually (hopefully) it's obvious to both people right away. but sometimes that decision gets made not because the person is truly incompatible, but because of life's demands. we feel the need to cut to the chase, to quickly and efficiently filter out the noise from the signal. and in that rush we probably put a "maybe" too quickly into the "no" pile, usually based on some checklist derived from experience and used exactly because we're so busy that we feel we need the filter. and not that this is a bad thing. if you don't learn from experience you're going to make the same mistakes over and over. with the availablity of on-line dating sites, even if there's a dry spell of meeting people through traditional means, it's been made very easy to go back to the aquarium and pick out a new fish or three. it's perceived as no big loss to maybe throw back one that you at first thought didn't suit you. (related to all this but its own essay is how the myth of "instant chemistry or nothing" has been drilled into us thanks to hollywood and in particular shows like the bachelor(ette)).

when you both know it's a maybe is when it gets most complicated. here's where you really need to put in a bit of time to figure it out. but when both people have ski trips, shore trips, running clubs, soccer games, softball games, book clubs, volunteer work...before you know it your week, weekend and month is booked. so the potential of the "maybe" fizzles, as would any flame die for lack of proper fuel and attention. it takes some courage to step away from standing commitments and get to know a maybe or two (or three). it also takes some work between meetings...e-mails, phone calls...enough to keep things going but not too much to come off as clingy or needy.

even when we meet the obvious "yes" our schedules are so pre-booked that it can be a week between meetings. you still have these prior commitments. you still have lots of people counting on you to do things. but you really want to get together with mr/ms yes. you also don't want to be "that guy" who just dumps his friends and softball team every time a woman gets hold of him. and here you see it as even more important to make the time, that you feel there's something immediate and pressing at stake. but have things to do.

and what if we make the wrong choice between two definite maybes, or between what we thought was a yes and a definite maybe? what then? go back to one you let go but are still intrigued enough by that you can't get her out of your head? that takes some courage and letting go of pride on both ends. again, with on-line dating you can easily just turn your profile back on and pick from the new arrivals who come in daily (which is a whole other essay on disposable society). but you don't know until you ask.

so for all we think we've learned getting to this point it almost works against us in terms of making snap judgements, and for all the desire to stay active who's got the time to make the time?

hope springs eternal

Ahh...opening day. (**) Is there a better combination of words to capture the essence of early April? Every team's in first place, nothing but blue skies, green grass and 162 games of promise ahead until October.

Will this be the year the Braves finally don't win the NL East? (yeah, I'm calling you out Darren). For the record, I don't see the Phils winning it this year, maybe (and it pains me no end to say this) the Mets.

Will the A's finally get over the hump?

Will the steroid investigation (more stupidity from Selig) dominate talk and relegate what happens the on the field to the background? Or will the players take control of the game? Will the Giants season be nothing but a circus? Will anyone care when Bonds passes Ruth?

** yeah, yeah...the openers are technically at night this year. still, it's the first day of the season...opening day.