March 30, 2004
This is a photo taken at the beginning of sunset over Shawnee National Forest, down the street from my apartment. There are no affects used, just the raw image. Looks like there should be an inspirational quotation in the bottom corner or something.
This is the same sky fifteen minutes later, after I got back from running an errand. Nicola posted a nice sky photo, too, so I thought I'd post some more. We should start a website just for sky pictures, like the site for mirror pictures!
March 28, 2004
Whining and fountain pens. There is nothing today but darkness and a weirdly humid heat for March. I have the air conditioning on, actually. It is a good day to stay inside, send spring cards to friends and family, and do some online shopping for pens and inks. I ordered my second fountain pen today, a Waterman Hemisphere in the stainless steel finish. I also ordered two bottles of Waterman ink: one blue and one green. I'm going to put the green in the steel Hemisphere in celebration of spring. The blue is for my Phileas; since it is itself blue, I can't bring myself to put anything but blue ink in it. I received a very attractive Levenger True Writer on Thursday. I didn't bother to research it or anything before I ordered it, and I read lots of negative "don't buy this pen!" reviews only after the order was placed. Issues involved ink flow, cap posting, weight, etc. Well, I opened my True Writer with a big smile on my face. The cap posted nicely. The finish was nothing short of beautiful. I went to put in the converter, and CRACK. The damned pen just broke apart right in my hands. Off we went to the local shop to get another fountain pen -- and to the post office to send Levenger back their piece of junk. Sitting at a red light, I thought it was funny that the nice FedEx man was still on his route while the Levenger pen and ink he just brought me were already on their way back to Levenger, in Florida. My nice blue Waterman Phileas (fine point, of course) came home with me straight away, and I took it with me to a colloquium on Scheler which one my favorite professors was giving that afternoon, to take notes. More importantly, though, I learned four lessons that day. One, never buy any of the over-priced crap from Levenger. Two, always research fountain pens at least a little before you invest in them. Three, I really like Waterman pens. Four, I have far too much free time these days.
March 26, 2004
Wet wet wet. Southern Illinois is wet today and has been either dark or wet (or both) for most of this week -- very different from the sky in the photo above, from March 5th. This weather makes it hard to want to do anything but drink coffee and read. Fortunately, the folks at Heartland News are predicting nice weather for tomorrow -- then rain again after that. Some respite from the clouds will be nice, even if only for a day. I'm sure this rain will pay off, though. You can begin to see the buds of trees trying to push their way out, and there are some blossoms at the university already!
March 24, 2004
You are the Low-Fidelity All-Star. You were born
with your cool, and it's totally natural. You
run the gamut from Hipster Supreme (only they
can ingest as much coffee as you) to the geeky
hipster (Mario Kart, anyone?).
What Kind of Hipster Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
March 22, 2004
Nicola posted a response to my request for more of her very cool mirror photos with a post containing links to her photos at The Mirror Project. You should really check them out. They seem to me like digital Ren� Magritte paintings -- only the artist's visage is obfuscated by a camera this time, rather than the ubiquitous green apple. I like them very much.
March 21, 2004
I read today that NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe wants to let Hubble die. That's sad, really. Saving it is certainly better than Mr. Bush's idea of going to the moon again (why?) and Mars. Here is a link to the article. Hubble is run from my hometown of Baltimore, and my undergraduate advisor's wife works at the center. I hope that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (from Baltimore!) is able to accomplish something in the way of saving our beloved Hubble. Geez, leave it to the Bush administration to throw away a technology when we don't have a replacement for it.
March 19, 2004
I had a pretty disturbing dream last night, wherein one of my brothers and I were in the military and were going to fight a war. In my dream, I was given a pistol and a small rifle and told to sleep until the morning, when we'd start fighting. We were assaulted in the middle of the sleepless night, but there was only a small skirmish consisting of frantically chaotic melee. The next day, I saw my mother, and she told me that my brother was killed. My youngest brother and I were the only ones left of the three brothers. One was missing and always would be missing. My father and mother were missing a son, and their son would be missing forever. A huge part of our family -- and of my life -- was gone, never ever to return. Nothing would ever be the same. Even though this was "but a dream," I woke up in a strange sadness until the sun-lit blue of the sky today made me think more pleasant thoughts. The picture above is of the brother of whose death I dreamt last night. He is actually in the US Army. And even though he is in the band (he's a sax-machine), and the band goes to war only after a draft (so my brother is safe in Maryland), I still get scared sometimes that something is going to happen to him. With Mr. Bush forcing members of our armed forces to stay past their contracted time periods, might he not also hand my brother a rifle and sent him off into the desert to fight his war? That photo is of my brother at the beginning of boot-camp. He came back from his training leaner and wiser and a different person altogether. I was terrified that the Army would turn him into a monster, since -- band-member or not -- he had to go through the same training as everyone else. I always remembered Nietzsche's epigram from Beyond Good and Evil: "Wer mit Ungeheuern kampft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in eine Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein." -- "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." But my brother didn't succumb to the part in one's training wherein they strip away the human being. I guess my he is stronger than I took anyone to be. Nonetheless, my brother's exemplary strength as a soldier and the bravery and willingness to sacrifice one's life for our nation exhibited in our soldiers do not make this war right. I had a terrible dream last night, probably the worst dream I have ever had. But almost everyday for the past year, someone else has lived it. There are now hundreds of broken families across America and all of the other nations that are members of our coalition -- which is not to mention all of the Iraqi deaths. I have been told by many people that patriotism is my duty as an American, and patriotism is supporting the troops. Apparently, in some people's minds, this means being in favor of the war that has cut short the lives of people who are even younger than I am; it means being in favor of the war that has given thousands of people worldwide the same dream I had last night -- only they don't get to wake up from it. I don't support the war, and I won't ever. Instead, I support the troops. Supporting them begins with not sending them to die, and that now means bringing them home.
March 17, 2004
Happy St. Patty's Day! Enough of my ancestry was Irish for me to really celebrate today! (My mother is half Irish, and my father has Irish on both sides. They are both also a lot of other things, since I am your typical post-modern American who is such a mutt that I cannot even tell you the exact nature of my ethnic background -- which I think is a good thing.) The photo is of my very good friend Brian. He looks very much like a wee Leprechaun. What a diabolical grin! I am sure we were up to no good when the picture was taken. Two years ago, we got drunk in Boston on St. Patty's day after we bought a bunch of books at The Brattle Book Shop. Very drunk. It was one of the few times I ever got drunk during my first graduate school. Neither us really knows how we took the Green Line to the Red Line from downtown Boston all the way to the South Shore, but we did. I will really party hardy this year. I have a Max Scheler seminar on the phenomenology of love in the afternoon, grocery shopping, and a Scheler presentation on the nature of suffering for which I have to prepare by Friday morning. I seem to get more and more exciting in my old age -- even at 24! I will be sure to wear my green clothing, and since my eyes are green when I am tired, I will be festive all over. Look out if you are not wearing your green, because I will out pinching behinds!
March 14, 2004
The Brattle Book Shop, Boston. Spring 2003. I was listening to The Verve today, and I got sad for the city. Last spring, I was listening to the B-side from Urban Hymns called "So Sister," wherein Mr. Ashcroft sings, "I wrote your name on a subway wall..." I was also looking at some of Witold's Moleskine sketches of the New York subway at the same time, and I was very sad to think that there would be no subway in Carbondale, Illinios, where I had to move to work on my PhD. No more Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority subway cars and trolleys. No more looking at the interesting people on the Green Line into downtown Boston from Chestnut Hill -- or the even more interesting people outside -- while drinking coffee from the Espresso Royale Caffe' with two Fs. I was afraid that Carbondale was going to be a one-horse town without even the horse. Fortunately, I was very wrong. Carbondale is not as...monochromatic as some other towns in this part of the country. There are plenty of colorful, even fascinating, people here. But I miss checking out five or more bookstores for something I lusted after, before the buzzkill of ordering on Amazon. I miss being on trains surrounding by people who didn't speak any English. I miss the whirling lights and the noise. I grew up in Baltimore city, and my only time (aside from my undergraduate residence years at Goucher College, in the woods) living away from the city is now. I was in Boy Scouts and such during the majority of my youth, and my father, who grew up in the country, always took my brothers and I out of the city and into "Nature." In short, I have spent more nights outside or in a tent than a lot of people who are actually from the country. Nonetheless, camping trips would always end, and I would always go home to the glare and bustle of the city. Now, I haven't seen a skyscraper in over two months, and I haven't heard anyone speak a language that I could not at least identify in much longer than that. There is, indeed, much to be said for nature and its positive effects on human life. But what about living in a modern apartment outside of nature? Is it the worst of both worlds? I am just whining. I have fresh air here, and lots of trees and animal friends. I can see a myriad of stars at night -- so many little pinholes of light in the inverted nadir of sky that I get dizzy looking at them. Sometimes, well, sometimes, I downright almost fall over.
March 12, 2004
Ah, the super-posh Cross ion gel pen is mine! We drove 100 miles today to Fairview Heights, a suburb of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. There is a "huge" mall and all manner of stores out there. My real reason for going was to go to Chili's, one of my favorite places to eat in while in Boston -- even though the only thing I can order on the menu without meat that is good is the black bean burger. It's worth it though, always worth it. I have been looking for a "fancy" gel pen lately, and the ion gets good reviews on epinions. My Dr. Grip Ltd. is just not...cool enough. And, since the space pens have been out of commission, I have missed having a pen that fits in my pocket. So far, the ion is very nice. It even has a lifetime warranty! I thought I bought one with green trim (with which I had planned to write in only green ink), but, as the picture shows, it is blue. Very well, then. "Wonderfalls," the new show I have been waiting for, is coming on in a few minutes, and the French press of coffee is ready. Bye bye for now.
March 10, 2004
Are you one of those people who, like me, cannot seem to read anything only out of mere intellectual curiosity? If I am reading a philosophy book, I have to buy into the philosophy and try to "live" it in order to enjoy the book enough to read it. I have to believe the poet and to want to experience her joy or his pain myself. I have to sympathize with and become the protagonist in the film or novel. I received a package today from one of my very favorite people in the universe, which included many goodies. Among them was the Prayers and Meditations collection of poems from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series (I believe that this volume is just called Prayers in the US). I am not a member of any church, but I find myself morphing from Jewish to Muslim, to Christian, to Buddhist while reading it. I can't seem to merely read prayers � or anything else � as an observer. When I watch my �La Femme Nikita� DVDs, I become Michael the spy. When I read Oscar Wilde, I become a Fl�neur, and the quips that burst forth from my mouth are astounding. I read Thoreau or Whitman, and I don't want to be inside. Is this a weakness? A sickness? A curse? A result of ADD? A lack of identity? Escape? Who knows? I am going to sit outside now and read some [become] Rimbaud.
March 09, 2004
I have really been looking forward to Fox's new show "Wonderfalls." I try not to watch too much television, but I fail sometimes. This show looks like Amélie (one of my all-time favorite films) for primetime. I hope that I am not disappointed. We'll find out Friday.
March 08, 2004
New houseplants, and the gnome gets a friend. I bought five small house plants today. I had no houseplants, since I have been moving around a bit over the past three or four years. So nice to have some extra life in the apartment. I had a neat plant bestowed on me once, while I was living in Massachusetts. My neighbor was an old lady who kept to herself (but always said "hello" to me). One day, she was gone, and there were people moving her things out. She had one plant left -- having gotten rid of the majority of them -- and her family put it on my balcony with my flowerpots when they left her apartment forever. I named the plant Anne Dahl, after the old lady whose fate I never learned. I took Anne Dahl with me to Baltimore before I moved out here to Southern Illinois. Unfortunately, it was so hot on moving day that the poor little plant died in the moving truck. Sad. My new plants will make nice places for my gnomes to hide! The green gnome is named Bling, so called because the flower he is holding looks like it is made of jewels. My mother sent him to me a few weeks ago. Bling's more colorful new friend came home with me this past weekend. His name is David, since he looks like the legendary David the Gnome. I am sure that he will be joined by more Davids, since all garden gnomes seem to be painted like David the Gnome. So, he is more specifically called Industrious David because of the full basket of apples on his back. He is no loafing gnome. I think Industrious David will be good company for Bling. I have not wanted to put Bling outside yet or to leave him alone for two long, for fear of making him lonely. I am hoping that, not only will David be a good friend and playmate, but perhaps his work ethic will rub off onto Bling. Maybe the two gnomes will become prodigiously industrious and clean my apartment while I am working in my office at the university. Maybe they will help research my dissertation when the time comes! Maybe I need to get another gnome.
March 07, 2004
Longbranch Coffee House, Carbondale. Saturday night. My officemate at the university jokes about me being a hipster. I sport my Fossil watch, Moleskines, gel pens, Timbuk2 bag (tossed aside in November for a Jansport), titanium glasses, Tevas, Nalgene bottle, five-door Focus, black Dell computer, a blog, digital camera, mobile phone, multiple French presses, etc., etc., etc. Of course, she is being facetious as she fills her fountain pen and then continues to type on her ibook. But are we Moleskinies bound to hipster-dom? Will we still write in these little black books in five years? Will interest in them wane enough in five years that they go out of production at that point -- again? I doubt it. Aside from the history and cool factor, these books are entirely pragmatik. I have dropped several, thrown one, spilled coffee on one, yelled at three or four and wished bad things to happen to one with bad things in it. And they all still survive. They keep my paper-ideas, poems, plans (I am "hip" enough to carry the planner, too) and secrets all to themselves, and my Moleskines still have whatever I need ready for me. So, even if the market for them goes away, mine will still survive, along with everything in them -- especially because Pilot's gel ink is archive-friendly. (Long live the hipsters!)
March 05, 2004
This photo is from Baltimore's Penn Station, on the North-bound track. It was taken on my last trip from Baltimore to Boston via Amtrak's Acela Regional, in June 2003. I thought to post it because of an interesting article I read today boasting 5 reasons to take the train. During the last year of my stint outside of Boston, my distaste for flying made me an adamant rail passenger. I liked the train so much that I rode Amtrak all of the way from Boston, Massachusetts to Houston, Texas when I went to the NAACP National Convention in the summer of 2002. I spent three days and two nights on the way down, and another three days and two nights on the way back. It was more fun than Houston itself. Flying from Boston to Baltimore in less than an hour is most certainly not the way to travel. A narration of the trip from Logan to BWI would sound thusly: "We are tenth in line for take-off...thank you for waiting, folks...we have reached cruising altitude...there is New York to the right...there is Philly...we are beginning our descent into Baltimore-Washington International Airport...thank you for flying with US Airways." There was no sense of how far one had really traveled. It was worse on a flight from Boston to LA that took only nine and half hours. I think I saw the Rocky Mountains, but I'm not sure, since they were so tiny from my window. Why do I like the train so much? There is the obvious getting-to-see-things-on-your-way-to-where-you-are-going reason. After Thanksgiving 2002, we rode along the Connecticut coast on the way to Boston, blowing dusty snow into the water and onto trees. It was the perfect start to the holiday season -- and definitely better than the stress of flying between two of the busiest airports in the US. Then there's the relaxed nature of train travel. You show up a few minutes before your train leaves, stroll aboard, choose your seat, put your feet up, pull out a book, and you're all set. No lines. No always getting selected for those "random" searches (maybe it's because of the members of my family who are in the military that airlines always pick me -- or my scary countenance!). There is better air and more room to walk around. I always feel safer on a train, too. If it crashes, I have a very good chance of surviving to tell a really cool story in a cafe' to someone I don't know. Money was never a good reason to take the train instead of flying. Trains have always been more expensive than planes, no matter where I was going. And train rides are always very good times to get some good writing done in your Moleskine. I have always been rather fascinated by trains. My father always built train gardens and took my brothers and I to see big displays when I was a lad. I loved Boston's subway and commuter rail (which I regularly took to Salem, Rockport Beach and Walden Pond) so much that I got rid of my car before I moved there. I sometimes went to Boston's South Station (once the busiest train station in the world) just to look at the trains. Even in the Heartland, I love to watch the huge trains come through town. And the gargantuan BBBAAAMMMPPP of the trains as chug come through Carbondale at night keeps me feeling connected to the rest of the world while I am out here on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. It makes me remember hearing trains' horns blasting through the frosty air when they came through Baltimore in the middle of the night when I was a teenager, as I sat near my open bedroom window in February painting or writing. Trains are a reminder in the 21st century for us to take our time when we can, to slow down enough to think about where we are going and to enjoy the trip. I hope that trains never get phased out.
March 04, 2004
Some uncharacteristic bragging. It was one year ago today that a dear friend was visiting me in Massachusetts. It was bitterly cold, and I was a bit in the dumps about receiving my first rejection from PhD programs in American Pragmatism on February 26, 2003. I received a letter from my university in the mail when we got to my apartment, and I hid it under my shirt. Whatever was in the envelope was not very thick, and I remembered from my Master's Degree applications that thin envelopes were indeed bad news. I locked myself in the bathroom, saying that all the beer we drank around Boston that day was getting to me -- in case it was another rejection. I didn't want my friend to know if it was more bad news. It indeed was not. It was news that my school was offerring me their top doctoral fellowship to go and begin work on my PhD in philosophy. It meant that my charmed life maintained its course and that things were still serendipitously working out for me in a manner which I have yet to live up to. It meant that all of the stress and worry from the previous months amounted to nothing and that the dark days from February 26th to March 4th were going to be a strange memory. My friend and I continued our Fat Tuesday festivities (though neither of us are Christians) after we called my undergraduate advisor who told me that my future was now in place. Now, I am half-way through my second semester of PhD work, narrowing down the dissertation topic and learning about the trade of academic philosophy. I don't have a ton of money, but I have enough to be comfortable and to have the leisure to study and think. I have my Moleskines and Library of America books and French presses, and I get more work done than I have since my second year of college. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Think you could be Shakespeare? Check out The Playwrite Game. Or, you can re-work one of the Bard's plays in The Altantic Monthly's contest to find the best re-write of the "All the world's a stage" speech from As You Like It. And here is a very cool little ditty I read while I was having a little shitty from the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly. I have a newfound respect for the Unibomber, murderer though he be. This is one of the funniest things I have ever seen: Virtual Crack. (No, it's not porn.) You can send someone virtual crack-rock via email. Well, I think it's funny, at least. Take that, War On Drugs!
March 03, 2004
Most Valuable Bloggers. This first post is really an acknowledgement of the three bloggers who made me want to blog in the first place (in alphabetical, rather than preferential, order): Armand from Moleskinerie Dave from the Carbondaley Dispatch Nicola from Vanilla Sky These are blogs that I like for different reasons. Armand brings together some of the best writing and Moleskine-related content on the web. Dave taught me all about life in Carbondale months before I ever even moved here. Nicola records her life in a way that makes it inexplicably wonderous and captivating. I am certain that this blog with do none of the above, or, at least, none of it so well as the MVBs. This blog will be my blog apart from Blog Collective, since my relaxed schedule allows me more time for blogging (and such) than my comrades. I have been monopolizing the blog over there for far too long.