Monday, January 28, 2008

Home from class. It's 9:17 and I'm tired. It feels so late to me, yet six months ago it was normal for me to be at work right now. It's strange what you get used to. I don't miss working at night much. Yet if I had to get used to it again, I think I could.

It's a sign of a good class when you feel stupid sitting there listening to the professor and everyone seems smarter than you. Wha-a-a-at? But feeling that challenge reminds me why I signed up for grad school in the first place. Food for the mind. I'm glad I'm where I am and not working some mind-numbing job.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Caroline Kennedy supports Barack Obama for president:
"I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The New York Times "strongly recommends" Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic presidential nominee: "Hearing her talk about the presidency, her policies and answers for America’s big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience...The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Finally, a picture of the Sun Bowl game. It was a gorgeous day. I took about ten pictures and they all came out looking roughly the same as this one. Blame it on my crappy disposable camera.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia. My Chia head.

The sunset.
Once lived up to the hype. Sweet story, not a cliche in sight, with great music. Very nice.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Did the following today:
- Laundry
- Took not one, but two naps
- Read articles about postmodernism by Lyotard and Habermas. Interesting enough, but I thought both used overly difficult language to communicate relatively simple ideas. Is it a rule that philosophers have to make ideas hard to understand even when they're not?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

This morning I had a chai tea and a croissant for breakfast. Very international compared to my usual bowl of shredded wheat with milk.

I'm exhausted. I'm not used to waking up early, and teaching can be stressful, remember?

More in this space when I actually have something interesting to say.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 3 of school. Reading about postmodernism is warping my mind, and I don't really like night classes, but other than that I think I'm holding up remarkably well, sleepwise and freetime-wise. Of course, this is just the beginning; ask me how I'm doing in a month, probably a whole different story...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cookie meltdown

Besides watching the aforementioned movie, on Saturday I also tried baking some oatmeal raisin cookies. My sister made dozens of these cookies for the Christmas holiday, all of which came out looking perfect and tasting delicious. I figured it would be easy--just follow the same recipe, right? So I got out all the ingredients, mixed together the batter, started dropping the dough...but somehow the lumps looked a little bit liquidy. I figured they were supposed to look like that, I just didn't know it, and they would come out looking like they were supposed to. Wrong. The cookies ended up melting together in two cookie sheets worth of oatmeal-raisin goodness. They came out looking like a hybrid of granola and peanut brittle. Cookie meltdown.

I called over my sister, aka, the Cookie Master, keeper of what my family calls Cookie Magic, to make a diagnosis. "Are you missing an ingredient?" she said. "No," I said. I had put in everything called for on the recipe: sugar, vanilla, eggs, oatmeal, flour... Then I looked a the recipe a little more closely. 1-1/2 cups of flour. One and a half cups of flour. I had misread it, thinking it was 1-1 1/2 cups of flour, so had only put in one cup. *slaps forehead* DUH. A simple but crucial mistake, proving my sister's diagnosis correct. I think I'm done with baking for awhile, as it seems like I can't handle baking anything where I have to add more than two ingredients...
So last night I watched Zodiac. Maybe this is not the best movie to watch before going to bed (couldn't fall asleep thinking about it), but I thought it was really well-done. The dramatizations of the "Zodiac killer" crimes are very scary, but in the end the investigation of the crime, with its many twists, turns, and dead ends, ends up taking center stage and being just as fascinating. I liked how the filmmakers decided not to sensationalize the details of the crimes. The movie is chilling and suspenseful enough without embellishing the details too much. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More random lyrics: Fifty Years After the Fair

Fifty Years After the Fair by Aimee Mann
Fifty years after the fair
the picture I have is so clear
underneath the clouds in the air
rose the Trylon and the Perisphere
and that for me was the finest of scenes
that perfect world across the river in Queens

Fifty years after the fair
I drink from a different cup
but it does no good to compare
'cause nothing ever measures up
I guess just for a second we thought
that all good things would rise to the top

But how beautiful it was - 'tomorrow'
we'll never have a day of sorrow
we got through the '30's, but our belts were tight
we conceived of a future with no hope in sight
we've got decades ahead of us to get it right
I swear - fifty years after the fair

Fifty years after the fair
I live in tomorrow town
even on a wing and a prayer
the future never came around
It hurts to even think of those days
the damage we do by the hopes that we raise

But how beautiful it was - 'tomorrow'
we'll never have a day of sorrow
we got through the '30's, but our belts were tight
we conceived of a future with no hope in sight
we've got decades ahead of us to get it right
I swear - fifty years after the fair

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I kinda like this random song lyric thing.
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you
to the places where all the things meet yeah

No change, I can't change I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mold, I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The weather was so nice today (in January!) that I was inspired to wash my car. As I was scrubbing, I noticed that there's a large scratch on the front hood, the side stripe is peeling off, and that there's a large spot where the paint has faded to gray on the trunk. The front bumper is spray-painted a different color blue from the rest of the car (don't ask), and there are tiny dark spots where the paint has chipped off all over the car. Maybe these are relatively minor things, but I still think I'd be pretty embarrassed if the lady I bought the car from two years ago saw the car today. She kept the car in immaculate condition. She kept a car cover over it when she wasn't driving it. The inside upholstery of the car was perfect (one thing I've actually done a good job of maintaining), and I'll never forget when she popped open the hood of the car and I saw that it was spotless. She cleaned under the hood of the car. Whoa. I wish I was that dedicated to keeping my car looking nice. Alas, I think my car spends far too many hours under the blazing sun in the UTEP parking lot.

Last night I finally finished putting together my syllabi for the upcoming semester. I'm teaching two classes. Dare I say that I'm excited for the semester to start? I'm infinitely more sure of what I'm doing this time around. Funny how teaching is a learning experience.

Random song lyric of the day:
Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House

Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

Now I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
Don't ever let them win

Monday, January 07, 2008

My very adorable dog Bootsie

Today was the last day to pay tuition. I drove down to UTEP and the line to pay was nearly out the door. Thank God for the web, though--I got on the Internet and paid via webCheck and it took five minutes. It probably would have taken me at least an hour to get through that line. This is my second-to-last time paying tuition. Thank God for that, too.

As I'm typing this, I'm trying to eat the remnants of a bag of cotton candy I bought for a dollar yesterday. Not recommended.

I don't think I'll try running another poll for awhile. One person voted in my poll last time. A big thank you to that one non-resolution-making person, though.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Book review: The Last American Man

Reading like a tall tale with a large amount of psychoanalysis thrown in, The Last American Man (2002) is a fascinating profile of Eustace Conway, a man who creates a back-to-nature life light-years away from modern American society. A present-day Davy Crockett, Conway's life is closer to that of a 19th-century Native American than to that of a person born into late 2oth-century suburban America. Smart, funny, and wise author Elizabeth Gilbert (who also wrote 2006's Eat, Pray, Love) paints a picture of a man who is so frighteningly accomplished the reader is sometimes left wondering if he's real--long-distance hikes with bare-bones materials, record-setting horse rides, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world, and success in real estate. The details of his rugged lifestyle are often jaw-dropping and illustrate just how different today's world is from the world of our ancestors.

Gilbert chooses a mostly light, humorous touch for the material in The Last American Man rather than entering the dark intensity of survivalist books like Into the Wild. The author delves into how Conway fits into conceptions of American manhood and compares him favorably with past pioneer heroes such as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Throughout the book, Gilbert holds up Conway as an American icon, with many Americans saying they desire a life like his, but very few actually attaining any semblance of it. She also spends a good amount of time exploring Conway's trouble with relationships, finding some answers in his family background. Gilbert never hides the fact that she is writing this book about a friend, and I think her relationship with the subject adds to her ability to create this insightful portrait.

I enjoyed reading this book for what it says about America today, illustrating the conflict between our secret desires and reality. It allows the reader to visualize just what would happen if he or she dropped out of society and went to live in the woods, the way it sometimes seems tempting to do after a frustrating day of work. While Conway's extremism may be off-putting, I think most would agree that getting back to nature would do Americans a world of good. However, also implied in the book is that perhaps there is also something to be said for the "soft" relationship skills that have been free to develop along with modernization. Conway is a most deserving subject of a book, and Gilbert does a superb job of describing both his life and the cultural and psychological issues at play in it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

So the Tonight Show returned last night. Yay, though it wasn't quite as funny as usual. This guy even live blogged it. Wish I would have thought to do that.

Today I bought $100 worth of dress pants in preparation for the new semester. That's one thing I'll miss about being on vacation: wearing jeans every day. Ironing is not my favorite activity.

It was cold and cloudy today, exactly the type of day that makes me hate winter. The holidays are over. The days of idleness and constant blog posts about my random doings are fast coming to an end. Sad, I know.