Hiding in the Bunker

SC is having one of its unwelcome two-day hot snaps (yesterday: 97, apparently), so I opted to spend the afternoon hiding in the bunker and watching Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job working on my dissertation.

This, the weather and the dissertation, makes me think about places B and I would be willing to move to if a job materialized. Let's see...
  • Nowhere too hot.
  • Nowhere too far from the ocean or at least some enormous body of water.
  • Nowhere in the deep south.
  • Nowhere too cold.
  • Nowhere so BFE that we were the only blue-state types in the county.
  • B would need some serious convincing to consider the eastern seaboard.
  • Nowhere with tornadoes or hurricanes as a regular weather phenomenon.
This narrows it down to, let's see, about seventy or eighty square miles of the United States, collectively. So we just need a tenure-track job in modern European history, preferably focused on intellectual history and/or French history, preferably with a heavy teaching focus, to open up somewhere in those areas.

P.S. This is why we have the "screw it, let's go to plan B" backup.


A Sonnet About Destroying All Acoustic Guitars

Stupid college student next door
Though you're a reasonably nice neighbor
Your acoustic guitar and singing would be no more
If I could sell you to a ruthless white slaver

Maybe that's a little extreme, though
You're not such a bad guy after all
Though I sit here thinking you're a bitch-ass ho
And giggling about homicidal fantasies - LOL!

No, wait, I'm more mature, older and wise
I don't need to want to exterminate your ass
You and the rest of those idiot guys
Razors, ropes, fire, bombs, and gas

I'll just destroy all acoustic guitars
Then give all their former owners SARS

(Yeah, sorry, but not bad for five minutes and some wine!)


Dork Cred

Of all the nerdy things I've done in my life, I never caught the Magic (i.e. Magic The Gathering, i.e. the card game, i.e. the thing that the kids in black trenchcoats played at lunch in high school) bus. Last night, homies K and L organized a "learn to play magic while you drink with other academics" party at the shared pad of a pack of astrophysics post-docs.* Many custom-built pizzas were prepared and more than several libations were enjoyed, and somewhere in there we kind of learned how to play Magic.

My initial reaction? It's a lot of math. I found myself ignoring the pictures of lightning bolts and dragons and so on and just trying to figure out what the cards actually did. It was also funny watching a bunch of people with PHDs in astrophysics pouring over the rules while L explained everything - middle schoolers can figure this shit out, but we can't?

Anyway, it made me reflect on my dork cred, because now I can say I know how to play Magic. Here's what I've got so far:
  1. Lifetime D+D player.
  2. Over four years as a computer tech.
  3. Devo fan with the tattoos to prove it.
  4. Academic.
  5. Have watched Lord of the Rings about two hundred times.
  6. Can't fight my way out of a wet paper bag.
  7. Simpsons quoting abilities (albeit rusty.)
But! I am missing things:
  1. Not a scientist, mediocre at math.
  2. Have never dressed up in a role-playing capacity. Really, seriously never intend to.
  3. Don't care about Star Trek. At all.
  4. Have never been to a con. Not a gamer, nor one of those media / science fiction / Joss Whedon people.
I am OK with missing those things.

* If you understood this sentence, good for you.


More Great Moments in Nineteenth-Century European Facial Hair

While teaching my intellectual history class last session, I put together an educational presentation on the facial hair of great European intellectuals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here are some new faces, garnered from the politicos and assorted detritus (no offense, Rasputin) of not-necessarily-intellectual history:

The lovely and talented Otto von Bismarck, Prussian chancellor and unifier of Germany

Note just how much Wilford Brimley looks like Bismarck. Coincidence?

Karl Marx's BFF, Friedrich Engels. They had a beard-off in the 1870s. Guess who won.

Holy. Fucking. Shit. King Victor Emmanuel of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Accidentally unified Italy in the 1860s. Ladies man.

Napoleon III of France. Known to jab out the eyes of his enemies with surprise 'stache-stabs.

The beleaguered captain Dreyfus of the infamous Dreyfus affair. A mustache as French as bad plumbing.

And, of course, crazy old unkillable Rasputin. That's a look that says "illiterate sex monk" and MEANS it.


Standards of Living

(Random pic from the interwebs...I don't know that guy.)

B and I had a chat the other night about our ongoing project to not drive each other completely batshit insane living together in this apartment. We both have techniques; I work on campus whenever she is going to be around working on crafts, she visits family and friends out of town, we have an elaborate, dance-like choreography of not getting in each other's way as we get socks and cook food and do other living-related tasks.* After three years in this place (estimated square feet: 450 - 500), we're usually able to benevolently ignore each other when necessary before we reconvene for dinner.

So: we make it work, but there's no question that we're sick of it. The one good thing about my absence in Paris last year, per B, was that she felt like she had enough space all of a sudden. Our "move back to Oregon, like, tomorrow" fantasies are embedded in a lust for elbow room, with smutty fantasies of offices and craft rooms and other things that are completely unimaginable in cost-of-living California.

The question is this: are we spoiled? Did our respective middle-class upbringings instill in us an unreasonable standard of space and privacy, or is it actually crazy for two 30-something year-old people and a bunny to share a small one-bedroom apartment? I feel like if you move to New York or Paris or Stockholm, you know what you're getting in for, but it shouldn't be the same deal if you move to a crumbling seaside tourist trap south of San Francisco. The bottom line is that, whatever happens with my all-too-soon academic job hunt, we need to get out of here in less than a year, or all three of us (Pesto included) will be climbing up the nearest clock tower with hunting rifles in tow...

* Granted, we still get in each other's way quite a lot.


Don't Step Up to the Grad Students at Trivia Night. Also, Prozac in the Water.

This is a two-parter.
  1. Last night, an elite cadre of grad students (mostly history, one electrical engineer by way of software design by way of astrophysics) gathered at a ritzy joint for drinks, then on to a pizza joint (with beer) for a trivia night. I have never done a trivia night before, but I felt pretty good about our chances. Let's just say that team Buttered and Delicious (that was us) kicked that trivia night's ASS. How many people getting PhDs do you need to rule at trivia? Six, apparently. Well done, team.
  2. Hanging with my home girl K in the bunker today, we have concluded that we need to find a way to introduce a massive quantity of prozac into the water supply of SC, because far too many people seemed mired in despair these days. It's definitely not helping that the smoke from the big fire in the hills is, apparently, supposed to linger for months. Beyond that, however, the larger issue is just that we all need a higher degree of default spring-in-step fuck-it-all attitude rather than abject terror, world-hating withdrawal, or all-around glumness.
P.S. Seriously: check out this amazing Vanity Fair slideshow of "Colonel Qaddafi: A Life in Fashion." It is really fucking funny.


A Hive of Scum and Villainy

It's what Obi Wan said about the spaceport of Mos Eisley, but for me it's just a lot of Pacific Avenue, AKA, "SC's entire downtown." Having (another) one of those days in which I walk down the street trying to avoid eye contact, thinking "that guy looks like an asshole. That one, too. That guy? Definite asshole."*

Note sure if this is related, but my dentist told me today that I should get gum graft surgery. This is the surgery B had two years ago that turned out to be fucking-A horrendous. We were out 1600 bucks out of pocket (i.e. after insurance), they prescribed B about 1/3 of the painkillers they should have, and it took her months to recover. I don't like disagreeing with professionals doing their jobs, but I played the "we're broke" card talking to the dentist today after mentioning how miserable B's experience had been. I'm left kind of wondering what the deal is with our dentist, though...I had never heard of these things before we moved here, and she seems to think that everyone ought to have one by the time they're 30.

Dear Medical Professionals: a "routine" procedure is not routine for the person getting it.

Dear Santa Cruz: get your shit together. Love, -KFR.

* In my internal monologue, the voice in which I think these thoughts mutters. I silently mutter about how everyone's an asshole.


It's Hard to be Instantly Awesome...

...at disc (or, as I still prefer to call it, frisbee) golf. While I remember Ransom and I developing some pretty sick frisbee-chucking skills back at the dot bomb we worked at in 2000, hucking those things the length of parking lots during our repeated very-long-breaks every day, my skills have obviously atrophied. This morning I joined three formidable companions on the 28-"hole" course up in the hills over SC and discovered that it's really freaking hard to make one of those things go straight, especially between trees.

On returning home, I scrubbed down with alcohol so that B wouldn't have to spend the rest of the week in abject terror about Poison Oak cross-contamination.

It makes me reflect, again, on getting older. When I was a kid I couldn't understand why my parents wasted so much time doing yard work; why would they deliberately buy and bury and fuss over plants rather than doing something more fun, something more indulgent? I realize now that a huge part of getting older is the ability to derive intense satisfaction from time-wasting. What I love about settling in to my thirties is the ability to whole-heartedly abandon concerns about whether what I'm doing in my spare time really matters as long as I'm able to do it while drinking coffee or beer. Clambering over hills and chucking a borrowed plastic disc across a field definitely counts.


It's Mokey Out

I stole the pic to the left from the local rag's website.

The fire season has been mellow this year, at least by California standards, but it's kicked off late with a massive blaze just to the northwest of SC.

This really sucks...it's probably the first forest fire to affect me personally, for two reasons. First, the air is just nasty. Second, my adviser's house, the one we're supposed to house-sit at in a month, is right smack in the line of fire in Bonny Doon. I'm worried for him and his wife and I'm, selfishly, worried for B and I in that I am really looking forward to house-sitting and I want the house to still be there to sit in.

The smoke was an appropriate backdrop for my bullshit errand-y day today, which involved going to the F'ing mall to get my tires rotated by the listless young men at the Sears Auto place. I've been running around since before 9am and I haven't gotten any of "my" work done. The logical choice? Throw in the towel and crack open a cold one. I recommend all of you do the same.

P.S. The term "mokey" is what our nephew, Littlest K, says about fires.


Making Myself Useful

Today, I give the gift of links!
  1. My lovely wife wrote a very adorable consideration of the 31 things she hoped to do while she was 31 (she turns 32 in a little less than a month.)
  2. My lovely wife's new flickr site is full of amazing shots. What's funny for me is looking at events and places we were both at and seeing the grotesque dichotomy between her beautiful framing and use of color and my clueless point-and-shooting.
  3. My homie K has been running a funny, pithy (sub-) pop-cultural geek blog with lots of great pictures and comics and clips. It needs more readership love, so give it some.
  4. I don't know who runs this other geek site I found recently, but I like it. May I recommend the linked ninja movie trailer?
  5. My other homie K has been frequently updating his blog as well. It's kind of a best-case scenario of the "blog about something off of the top of your head" phenomenon.
In unrelated news, I'm getting very tired of three-hour lectures, my insomnia's back with a vengeance, but there are faint stirrings of Fall on the breeze in SC, and I couldn't be happier about it.


Hangovers Post-25

I'm not really sure what the deal is with hangovers as you get older. I don't actually believe that they're worse than the hangovers of youth - I remember plenty of hangovers when I was 20 - 25 that reached that incredible blood-shooting-out-of-your-ears, clawing-at-your-face exorcist level of agony and rendered me utterly incapacitated for a day or more. Probably what changes is that you become less willing to lose a whole day as you get older and you muscle through the misery rather than just lying on the couch sipping an energy drink, which is what you probably should do.

Anyway, all of this is by way of tribute to the brave clan of grads that gathered at my place last night, a gathering that swiftly turned into a passionate drunk-ass discussion of the philosophy of science versus the philosophy of history. It was great fun, but at the same time I'm sulking around like a guilty puppy this morning as I forgot to send my address to one of the would-be attendees, who apparently went around the building knocking to no avail. Poorly played, KFR.

'sides that, I'm wondering if I can kind of trick my brain into writing my whole conference paper today. I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens.


8:13am Coffee Post

  1. John Hughes is dead. I think Ransom is obliged to comment on this. For me, I'll just say that I will always love the Breakfast Club and I will always be that one guy who hates, hates Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which should have been subtitled "The Smarmy Prick Who Got Away With Everything."
  2. I'm taking a more relaxed approach to the iceberg of work.
  3. Just to take it to the next dork level, last night while we were playing Vampire, L put on a Sisters of Mercy album. All we had to do was swish around Paris sewers in a cape while weeping.
  4. T-shirt motto seen on a dude at the bus station yesterday: "Man Boobs Are Sexy."
  5. My lectures this session are tough. I'm an empathetic enough teacher that I adjust my pace and approach depending on the reactions of the students, and I feel like the only way I can consistently connect with them is to project a lot of caffeinated energy. I feel like I'm doing the Napoleon Dynamite dance for three hours, basically.
  6. Looks like we're going to be house-sitting for my adviser in September - October. He lives in a place up in the woods in Bonny Doon, one of the weird mountain towns above SC. While this will involve more driving and logistics, it'll also be a massive dose of elbow room and I am totally looking forward to it.


New Happy Theme Picture

This is the first picture I've seen in a long time that has the power to convince me that everything is basically right with the world.* **

* Position subject to change.
** Lando was the best Star Wars character, because (A.) he was the smoothest operator in the galaxy and (B.) he blew up the second Death Star aided only by the underestimated and under-remembered Wedge Antilles.*** ****
*** Wedge Antilles was Luke's friend from Tatooine who survived all three movies and played a major role in the destruction of both Death Stars. He was kind of like a (hypothetical, obviously, since this didn't happen) red-shirted security guy on Star Trek who didn't die and, in fact, kicked ass. Also, the ska band I was in back in the 90s had a tribute song to Wedge. *****
**** Best Lando line (to Leia): "Truly you belong with us among the clouds..."
***** There was also a ska-punk band in town actually called Lando Calrissian! That about ties this all together.


Lo, for B's got a Flickr site now! If you know us and you're on flickr, add her as a contact and behold.

When she told me that she had gotten one as an anniversary present to me (because I wanted to see all the pics she's taken over the last few years), I was stoked. Yesterday I said something clunky and uninspired like "I'm sure it will accurately reflect your skills as a photographer." I realized only later that the same statement is true of my flickr site, unfortunately...


Two Observations

  1. How is it possible that there is a nerd accent? During K's visit this weekend, we hit three comic / game shops (she is both a comic geek and a game geek.) While we were there, we overheard several conversations in that weird nasal nerd-voice familiar from such pop cultural phenomena as every-movie-ever-making-fun-of-nerds-ever. How can that be?! I mean, how does one's voice change based on one's hobbies?! I've played D+D since fifth grade, but you can't tell that just from listening to me talk. So weird.*
  2. People who lick / suck their fingers in public while eating are fucking disgusting. It's worse when they're on the fucking bus. "Hmm. I think I will touch this bus seat or pole that is covered with the disgusting detritus of fifty thousand bus riders and then suck my fingers. Because I am a smart person."
* I ain't bein' racist or nothin', but I still think it's a little weird that there's a gay accent, too.


Back to Normal? Crap.

The ladies among the dinos along Highway 92 in Half Moon bay.

Moments from now our homie K will be taking off for the return flight to PDX. We had a rollicking good time checking out B's and my favorite spots in the SC environs during her visit, including but not limited to:
  • The UC to the SC campus! Which is nice because there are no students there right now!
  • The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose! Definitely as interesting for the terrible tattoo watching as for the weird architecture. I was also quite fond of our tour guide, Aaron. Well played, Aaron.
  • The Crow's Nest. It is more expensive than ever! Hot damn!
  • Fun adorable animals in the water being cute!
  • Half Moon Bay, featuring the above dinos! And plants!
  • Our favorite tide-pooling spot along Highway 1!
  • Downtown!
  • West Cliff!
I am crestfallen that her visit was so short, but it was well worth it. I'm also incredibly relieved to have had a whole long weekend during which I did no work at all. I don't know if this will help me be more productive or not in the immediate future, but it was a big F'in relief, either way.

Pics be up on flickr.