We had an earthquake in Southern Illinois Monday. I totally missed it. I came out of the shower, and my wife told me that the apartment shook for a second. We thought the girls downstairs might be fighting or something. Yeah, breaking up a fight between two young women would not have been fun. I'd have been lucky to escape with my fellas intact. Sure as hell wasn't going down there. At any rate, there was no fight to break up, since what shook my little homestead was some big ole plates, not two angry coeds. I have never actually experienced an earthquake, so far as I remember. I recall that there was one in Maryland when I was very young, but it happened at night. Until recently, I was always a very sound sleeper, so I missed that one, too. I think my brother said he grabbed the tail of his Scooby Doo doll when he felt it. He'll deny that now, though. Funny, since Joy and I were just talking about quakes the day before we had one in Carbondale. The area around here is home to the worst recorded earthquake in the continental United States. Not San Francisco. New Madrid, Missouri. Seems that Tecumseh did it. There's a nice series of essays about it all in the 2004 Waterman and Hill Traveler's Companion; too bad it's not online. Read up on it. Now you've learned something here today. See how I love you? Pragmatikally, of course. But it's loving nonetheless.
June 29, 2005
If you've been waiting, like I have, for a Gmail notifier that works with Firefox and that does not require that annoying Google Toolbar, the wait is over. It's here! It works, so far as I've used it. Delicious, I know. If you're not using Firefox, you don't know what you're missing. It's not just some anti-Microsoft thing for me. I have nothing against Bill or Microsoft. I use Windows XP and don't really care for Macs that much (don't hurt me, Mac users!). The tabbed browsing is perfect for daily/hourly blog reading. I never use anything else for blogging. And it's not likely that the browser will crash while you're in the middle of a long post, either. That's always a good thing. Oh, and if you haven't tried Gmail yet, email me privately for an invitation. I've got at least 50 for the asking.
June 28, 2005
Five Things I've learned in the last 24 hours:1) Eating lunch is good. 2) Seeing the sun come up before you go to bed is not -- at least, not on Sunday/Monday. 3) Depeche Mode's "Walking In My Shoes" sounds hauntingly delightful on the mandolin. 3) "The Love Thieves" does not. 4) There is no such thing as too much coffee, even on a hot day, provided said coffee is in a cup of at least 20 oz. 5) Too much black bean soup means that I should be sequestered for the evening.
June 27, 2005
My wife begged me not to subject the internet public to images of my toenail after my little spill a few weeks ago, specifically before it totally came off. I could pull it all the way back, etc. Yeah, it was gross. Especially when I went camping and kept getting pebbles under it. That's up there with getting sand stuck in the little undies of men's swimming trunks. Seriously. Sorry, Mrs., but I can't resist. The first is what I would do with toenail right before I cut the whole thing off. This is the least gross photo, honest. The second is what it looks like now, with no nail at all. I was considering painting my toenails this summer. I wear socks and shoes rarely enough that it would be worth the trouble. When I was 15, I had them all painted a different color. The summer camp I worked at included an art program. So when the kiddies all made dough dogs and rings and cars, the art teacher made me a foot with multi-colored toes. Very sweet.
June 22, 2005
So I wanted to get a laptop, since I will be working on my dissertation this coming academic year (and the following several). However, I certainly don't want to shell out precious cash for something I have to lug around -- that I only want for checking my email and writing papers. So I thought I would get a cheaper Dell desktop and have that in my office. I love the nicer Dell we have at home. Low and behold, my youngest brother and father gave me my father's old laptop. It's free, is only two or so years old (has XP, so that's good). Faner Hall is all wireless now, so my wireless card from Dell (which came today via the door-pounding and doorbell-ignoring DHL dude who is still nice in my book) allows me to sit here blogging from my moderately chilly office on the third floor of Faner. No more excuses to not come into the office like I should, since being away from the computer on a weekday makes me unnecessarily uncomfortable. This means, of course, more blogging about useless things and topics, like my newly-exercised online-ness (!) in my office. Yeah. Sorry.
June 20, 2005
Last week, my wife and I both found the same fortune in our cookies when we had Chinese food delivered, as we do every Friday.(Enlarge to read fortune.) What does it mean to get the same fortune as someone at the same time? Does that make come true? Mean something deeper? Cause neither one of us is all that versatile, truth be told.
I'm pretty behind on weblog news and such lately, but there's a nice article linked to from the Thoreau Society's webpage which features Greg Perry, the kind gent who brings us The Blog of Henry David Thoreau every day. I though I'd mention it, since credit is clearly due. One of the chief aims of the Thoreau Society has always been to spread Henry's message, and Greg does that in a way that Henry himself would never have dreamt possible.
June 17, 2005
For Photo Friday: Sport. If you've been reading this blog for more than, say, a week, then you know that sports are not exactly my cup of tea. I got a concussion once playing football, four sprained fingers playing football. I played seven seasons of soccer, and I used to play baseball daily, not to mention shooting and archery in Boy Scouts. Once I hit college-age, drunken frisby was my Friday sport. This summer, my sport of choice is studying for my preliminary doctoral examinations (or whatever the hell the full name for them is). The injuries will only be moral or intellectual onces. I mean, I have to read Kant (again), and I think it's more than a little impossible to entirely escape injury reading Kant's ethics. But that's just me. Hume, in all of his sexiness, however, I'm looking forward to. (Mega thanks, Mr. H. for access to "the notes.")
June 15, 2005
I hate it when most people come out with supposed theories about humanity or the universe in general. These are usually half-cocked, over-arching statements that are as vague as fortune cookies and so, of course, are often at least partially accurate. These theories often come out after I answer the "What are you studying?" question that people inevitably ask when they learn that I'm entering my ninth year of schooling and won't be finished anytime soon -- though of course this only comes after it's clear that I choose to still be in school, not that I keep failing and/or partying and am taking nearly a decade to complete my BA. Anyway, my favorite answer to the "What are you studying?" question is always "Philosophy -- the money-maker." This is all-too-often followed with something like, "Oh, I'm a philosopher, too. I figured out that no one does anything unless they have to." What do you say to that? "Dude, you're a shitty philosopher," or, "That's an inane thing to say"? Maybe it's the philosophy-snob in me. "I do this for a living! How dare you concoct this bullshit and pretend to be one of the few, the proud, the chosen, the philosophers!" LOL. Hell, we call rich guys with law degrees and the leisure to write a short philosophy book (and then to pay us to read it and tell him what's wrong with it) "lay" people, as if philosophy goes beyond an academic or even intellectual pursuit and enters the realm of the religious or ever the sacred. Really, though, I don't think that my omnipresent snobbery is what drives me crazy when people tell me about their little theories. It's the fact that they really mean it. It's that some people decide that their moderately witty and pithy little theory about all of humanity is actually true -- and then go and live by it! Thoreau was correct to require that we all live by our principles, truths, etc. But some people have some strange and dangerous theories which they take as rules to live by. Shouldn't there be a test or some standard for what kinds of things we should live by? There are books on Creationism for sale at the Grand Canyon. While I certainly can't say that I believe in Creationism as a viable alternative to other more scientifically rigorous theories of the origin of the universe and its inhabitants (including humankind), there does not seem to me anything wrong with the Park Service selling these books. But these books are sold in the science section, along with science books. Far be it from me to judge another person's religious beliefs to be a little off. But calling Creationism a science like other sciences is just wrong. A professor I had in spring 2004 nailed it when he said what is wrong with that picture. Scientists are held to standards, scientific/academic standards. They have to prove what they posit, have to prove to a set of peers that what they say is not some crazy nonsense. Putting books on Creationism in the with science section is certainly cheating and allowing said books to be classified as actual science, when they are actually religious books. Religion and science might not mutually exclusive topics, yes. But they sure as hell are not the same thing. What I mean with this long aside is to ask: Are some people and their half-cocked theories about life, the universe and everything (salutes D.A.) as valid as, say, an actually thought-out theory about human behavior/nature? Aristotle's words or Peirce's essays are generally given more weight than Joe Theoryguy's concoctions. Why is this so? Doesn't it have something to do with reflection and testing and revising, etc.? I mean, it's not a degree. Neither of the gents mentioned above had philosophy degrees. I'm sure as hell not saying that one needs a degree or background in philosophy. I've met more people whom these degrees didn't help in being truly philosophical than I would care to recall. Most actively thoughtful and reflective people I've come across are not academic philosophers at all, and I think that hints at a lot of what's wrong with academic philosophy today (a topic for another time). Is a person's theory more "valid" then if he or she thinks about it more, reflects on experience, tests it against said experience (ah, the pragmatism!) and makes any necessary changes? Isn't the question then, a question of what makes philosophy? Or are we just foolish to make some universal-ish statements about the universe and humankind, after countless greater minds have failed to provide accurate theories? Are theories that are not universal but which work all we can hope for? [Note: Discussion continued here.]
June 13, 2005
Guess who's back? Back again. BC's back -- tell a friend. I was going to write about hate today. If you're aware of my dissertation topic, it would make sense. Instead, I'm going to plug the re-invented Blog Collective and state that we are still accepting new members for the time being (looks at Mr. H. in Faner). I'll darken your day with talk about hate tonight or tomorrow.
June 09, 2005
So, I have absolutely no idea what this is. It's about five or six inches long, perhaps two inches wide. That's Snowball II's windshield. West Virginia. Oh. My. God. How foul is that? I think I would have noticed a bird, small mammal, reptile or flying extraterrestrial being splattering itself across the glass like that as we careened through the mountains of West Virginia at 75-80 mph (love their higher speed limit). It was sunny enough and hot enough that I literally burned my finger touching the black paint to open the door at Sideling Hill. You can imagine how fun that mess was to get off at the next gas stop. So some moron in West Virginia chipped the windshield later that day. Said stupid redneck cut us off in a construction zone. I leaned on the horn and wished for some James Bond styled rockets behind the headlights. But damn, American cars don't have things like that in them, you know. Too bad, since -- in my experience -- drivers in West Virginia make the drivers in this area look like pros. Still, the Asshole Award goes to another idiot outside of Louisville, Kentucky. So there's an accident on the exit ramp onto Interstate 65, toward Nashville. It's on the left. Traffic stops, slows, stops, slows, etc. Contrary to my West Virginia experiences, I think that people in Western Kentucky are not only polite, friendly and nice, they are also pretty damned good drivers, too. So people are helping people out, letting people into and out of lanes, etc. I join in on spreading the goodness, and let out a gold PT Cruiser just as the traffic in the right lane is gone, while the left lane (waiting to get on I-65) is stopped totally. Cool. We both floor it, and we're doing 75 mph in no time. At this point, PT Asshole reveals that his plan has been all along to basically cut around the traffic waiting to get onto I-65 and to cut back in as close to the ramp as possible. This involves slamming on the breaks when he realizes that he has almost passed the ramp. This sudden stopping involves almost getting a Focus ZX-5 shoved up his ass. I was properly caffeinated, though, so it was Okay. No crash. But, yeah, PT Asshole, that was me leaning on the horn and offering you my crooked middle finger. Kiss my ass. (For the record, PT Asshole was from Indiana, not Kentucky.) The Funny As Shit Award goes to a Saab outside of Lexington, Kentucky. It's bumper sticker proclaims, "The only Bush I trust is my own." So true. So true. Sorry the photo is blurry.
June 08, 2005
Okay, so we have a written (typed) set of rules, a list of people, and a date for the Blog Collective relaunch this coming Monday. Yeah, the one some people are wetting themselves over, with the excitement. Yeah. If you would like to take part, please get in touch with either myself or Chris -- if you have not already done so. Use the contact link here, not at BC. Don't fret. If you miss Monday, there's always later. But why wait to be a part of something that used to kick and will resume the kicking of ass? Why?
June 07, 2005
June 06, 2005
So, here I am like an old lady, tired as hell at 11:30, though it's 12:30 tomorrow to me, since I woke up on the East Coast this morning. Driving 1/3 of the way across the country is tiring, dude. Really. Try it. I still feel like I'm being pulled along by the Focus at 75 mph and bouncing around Kentucky. And, no matter how much I turn up the subwoofer on the computer, it's quiet and without sufficient bass, after nearly 14 hours of the big car stereo. I think I'm deaf. More old lady complaints. On the bright side, the A/C in the Focus rocks, Ford style. God bless American and all that. I promise to get back to blogging more now that I'm back in Illinois. This break was much busier than I thought it would be, which means it was also one long party-ish-type-time. Too much pizza and beer. Moderate exercise. Too much money spent at Ikea. Too many books bought. Never enough time spent with some of my favorite people, as is always the case, it seems. So, I have some errands and chores and household shopping, but normal blogging will resume tomorrow (Tuesday) or the day after. Or I owe you each one beer, of your choosing. But no pizza. Come on, I'm a student, damn it. Many photos and stories, and I still have to get to the book meme, from Lorianne:)
June 02, 2005
(Continued from part i.) So why stay in what some consider a homophobic organization like the Boy Scouts of America, given my own political and -- more importantly -- ethical leanings? Because of my troop. Because of what it has done for myself, family members, friends. Because of what it still does for the young men involved. I have literally hundreds of stories about why my own troop is not and was not like other troops. There's the story of the older boys smoking multiple packs of cigarettes on a 27 mile hike but still getting to the top of the mountain first. There's that time at summer camp when I was 15 that I wore a different bowtie each night to dinner, with my "class A" uniform, the same year the older guys are all stoned in the troop photo. The time I fell out of a tree (branch broke) and bashed my head on a bench. When Geoff took a log to the head. When the summer camp we went to each year had to call the fire department to put out the massive fire we made for the council fire to end the week (which led to the subsequent banning of our troop from making the campwide fire at that camp ever again). How we never used the tents at summer camp and slept outside around a fire each night instead. The fact that I personally made some life-long friendships in our troop. That time my youngest brother put a wood chisel into his thigh and tried to cover up the blood running down his leg. The fact that my younger colleague, whom I have known since we were both kids, was able to get a fire started this past weekend with wet wood and no lighter fluid, and was then able to put out four hours worth of coals with an axe and a gallon of water (we taught him that). I know, some will say that their troops are like that. But I like to think ours is unique -- or at least rare. There's the way that we approached everything in a very matter-of-fact and laid-back manner and still won every single competition we entered. In 1993, we were invited to another district's annual camping event. We won so many of their trophies (including the coveted tug of war cup) that they invited us back every year to try to get them back. After half a decade, the event was no longer held, and they never got their trophies back. We were always honor troop this and camp excellence that. You'd be amazed. But our Scoutmaster, whom I've known for, let's just say, over two and a half decades, summed it up best during Saturday night's campfire. We were winding down from teaching the younger guys skits and songs and how to not catch oneself on fire while adding more wood to a hot fire, and he gave an impromtu speech. I wish I had a tape recorder with me, but I do remember the gist of what he said. That campfires and hikes and meals together are all things we'll take with us our whole lives. That sitting around a campfire talking or just enjoying that solitary glow in the night's darkness are even more important than merit badges or achieving the coveted Eagle medal. That part of being a member of our troop is learning to just be. He's right. We have a proud tradition of what Zack and I have termed "bullshitting." This often involves large amounts of coffee, but it always involves hours of talking and enjoying one another's company. Jokes, stories, politics -- it's all fair game and part of bullshitting. In fact, when a new parent or leader or district official comes around, we don't ask if he or she is nice, smart, etc. Zack or I will ask, "Can Andy bullshit?" That's the essence of our troop: enjoying the evening, the fire, standing on the sidewalk talking, whatever situation we're lucky enough to encounter in the lives we're lucky enough to lead. The ability to relax and to enjoy simple things extends, of course, far beyond our troop, the BSA or any other association we each might have. People tease me about being "laid-back," whether I'm working on a semester's finals, comprehensive exams, rush-hour traffic around Washington or a death in the family. More than one person has asked, "Dude, you party? How much weed do you smoke, man?" or "Day um, you must get laid a lot, huh?" Etc. Really, I learned how to relax and roll with situations through my experiences in our troop. I might have to mourn a lost loved-one or move to another city and another department, but I can still enjoy having coffee outside with my wife or just staring out the window into the night. I never realized until I got to college and graduate school that most people are either incapable or relaxing or just won't allow themselves to do so. I was talking to a couple of guys last month about marriage and a married man's sex-life, and someone said they have sex five times a week on average (Okay, that was me). A friend of mine responded, "Damn, I wish I had time for that much sex," and I think that's a good statement of how a lot of people these days seem to approach relaxing, chilling and bullshitting. They wish they could. The thing is, they can. I think that, more than anything else, my troop is excellent because of how its members learn to appreciate smaller things that most people don't make time for. How to cope. How to get by moving around to different schools and not having a ton of money. How to serve one's country in the military. How to remember how one got to where one is and to remember who helped one to get there. How to live a rich life, to live deliberately. It winds up having nothing to do with men, sex, money, beer, stress, career. It's a universal message and method for getting the most out of life. At least, that's what my troop has always been about. Our little secret.