Monday, September 05, 2016

irony today

I just saw someone post a "support the military" thing on Facebook which implied that if you didn't support our soldiers whenever, you were a bad American. Their profile pic was a Confederate battle flag. The Confederates were active traitors against the United States. In fact, they killed or mortally wounded over 110,000 United States soldiers.

The mental disconnect...it hurts my brain.

why am I surprised?

I've been shaking up my teaching in a whole lot of ways. One of the weirdest (for me, anyway) was to soup up my PowerPoints. No more of the bare bones, basic black text on white slides for me! I'm going to show everyone that I do actually know design. THE WORLD WILL THEN BE MINE!!!!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!

Excuse me.

Today, I'm laboring on Labor Day by assembling a slideshow for tomorrow's class. I had need of an image of a mad scientist for background art. So I did a Google image search. Not surprisingly, all of the results were for white males. I searched for female mad scientists, and then only half of the results were for white males. I searched for African American mad scientists, then Asian, then Indian. In all cases, half of the results were for (you guessed it) white males.

Oh, one other feature of the search results was that in most cases, I got to pictures of bikini-clad women at least halfway down the page. I'm not sure what the connection is between bikini babes and mad science. Maybe a psychology major can help me out.

But I really wanted diversity. So how did I get it? Five words: My Little Pony mad scientist.

Friday, August 26, 2016

praise

Today, I received some amazing praise from an old friend. We were chatting about someone who went to grad school with us, and my friend told me, "you were obviously doing something right if (person X) wanted to punch you."

Some days, you just need to hear words like this. Happiness achieved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the poetry of grading

I'm currently on lunch break of my job grading AP exams. I can't really talk about anything from the 839 exams I've graded so far, though. What I can do is share my three entries in the Question One Haiku Contest.

Due to the fact that
I don't know what I just read
Please send brain meds now

Your handwriting makes
Me cross-eyed and hurts my brain
Maybe pictograms?

"In modern times..." - Gah
Passive verbs will bury me
Arthritic joints throb

Sunday, June 12, 2016

when you are with me

It's my daughter's fifth birthday today. I'm stuck working in Kansas City. I know it's something I have to do; the money's too good, and we're too broke. But still, it's a sacrifice. I'm been dealing with it pretty well. This morning, though, my wife sent a photo of my daughter, sitting on the ground and playing with some new gifts. She's wearing some wrapping paper as a cape. I've looked at it ten times since she sent it. The photo's wonderful...even if her smile does make my heart hurt.

brainworm

There's a company in this part of the country named Toto. They make toilets and related products. And every time I encounter heir products in the wild, my mind clicks into "I know I must do what's right as sure as Killamanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengetis."

Kudos, most pretentious lyric of all time. Kudos.

Friday, June 10, 2016

sentiment

I have a few summer jobs this year, but this is the one I was dreading the most. I am in Kansas City to grade AP exams. I'm not a major fan of grading in general, but the rough part of this is being away from my family. It's my daughter's birthday on Sunday. I'm missing it.

On the way in, my wife called. We talked, and then she put my kid on the line. "I miss you, daddy. I wish you didn't have to do this."

I'm still trying to pull myself together.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

timing

When I was recording my album Skeleton Coast (just buy it already), my producer made cheap drum machine tracks for me to follow when I recorded my basic acoustic guitar, so we would start the recording process with everything in solid timing. One of the songs ("Totally Low Standard Blues") gave him trouble, and he couldn't figure out why. Then we got into a brief argument about timing, because he swore the song was in 4/4. Eventually, I convinced him it was actually in 6/8 time, and we got the track done no problem. He did, however, inform me that I was weird.

Most rock, pop, rap, and a decent amount of country is in 4/4 time (du du DA du, du du DA du). As a result, most musicians who don't have formal training are more or less used to 4/4, and anything else gives them a bit of trouble. If you play country, 3/4 timing slips in the mix (think waltz timing--DUN du du, DUN du du). 6/8, though, is a rarer bird.

Recently, I've had developments in my solo career which have pushed me towards preparing solo rock shows, without a band. I'm going to bring my electric and play with some strange pre-recorded drum/percussion tracks (I test this out tomorrow, so expect a progress report later this week). Of course, this means that I need to pre-record said pre-recorded backing tracks. Last week, I tackled "Totally Low Standard Blues," and even though I wrote the song, the 6/8 time signature still gave me fits. This is one in a long line of hints that I might be a weirdo.

Yesterday, I realized that one of the songs I'm in the middle of writing is also in 6/8 time. Maybe I'll do enough of these that weird time signatures become second nature. Or maybe I just like to make things difficult.

Monday, May 30, 2016

accomplishment

When I still used to think I could somehow become a scholar, I was faced with a quandary: I needed to keep publishing to even have a chance at getting a tenure track job, but since I was in a non-tenured position, the scholarship I did benefited my actual job not at all. In fact, my teaching load was so high, there was no time at all to even think scholarship during the semester.

Summers were the only time I could research and write. And write, I did. I would chain myself to books or to my computer for at least eight hours a day. I did an impressive volume and depth of work during those summers...more (I was told by reliable sources) than some of my tenure-track colleagues. Shame it never actually benefited me, though.

The arrival of my daughter coincided with me realizing I was never going to be a professional scholar, and, in anticipation of my girl coming, I decided I was done spending summers writing articles which never actually yielded tangible benefits. That was in 2011. This summer marks the five year anniversary of no scholarship.

Lest you feel this depressing in some way, I should tell you a little tale. Yesterday, I washed the dishes, made a big batch of burritos for the freezer (bean, mushroom, broccoli, onion, and vegetarian chorizo (the only decent vegetarian sausage)), cleaned the fish tank, and made my weekly batch of oatmeal. At the end of the  day, I felt more of a sense of accomplishment than at the end of one of the writing summers.

Just thought it should be noted. Of course, I did also apply for my third summer job...but you win some, lose some.