Losing the Thread

I am kind of out of ideas for this blog.  As I've said several times in the past, blogging only works when the blogger is hooked in to a community of some kind; my high point of blogging was in grad school, when I had lots of folks scattered around who actively wrote and read, and before Facebook swallowed up what passes for interaction on the interwebs.  The problem is that I have a few basic interests and activities, but it would make more sense to focus on one of them and devote a blog to it rather than sort of half-assedly post lists trying to address them all.  I refer to:
  1. Kid-having
  2. Band-playing-in
  3. College-history-teaching
I'm going to ponder a bit and try to figure out if I should ditch this blog and start a different one devoted to a specific topic, ditch the whole enterprise entirely, or what.

To the steadfast, in the meantime, thanks for reading.


Three Forward, Two Back

  1. Potty training comes with this little thing called "regression" wherein the kid who knew what he or she was doing pretends not to know and gets decidedly upset with the implication that she does, in fact, know how to plant her ass on the thing and use it.  This phenomenon has some kind of correlation with the whiskey consumption patterns of associated parents...I am still gathering data on that.
  2. Google Reader is dead.  Sigh.  Those few holdouts like me that still occasionally updated their blogs are left in a lurch.
  3. What do you do when the activist in your class gets into it with some of the vets in your class?  You do damage control!
  4. The Nervous digital EP thing is well on its way to completeness...our able producer, Jesse B Negative of The Bloodtypes, has been toiling away on mixing.  I am excited to post that shit.
  5. I can't remember if I mentioned already that we have a dog now.  Egon the mixed-small-dog (long story...he's definitely part dachshund, possibly Italian greyhound, maybe chihuahua, who knows what else...) is doing great.  We have our first full-immersion puppy discipline class on Saturday, and he had his first dog play-date with R+R's pup Ada the other night (which, after the shock and growling was over, went well.)


Happy July 5!

Another whole year until we need to put up with that shit again!  I love the Fifth of July!


One Down, Hopefully About 30 to Go

I wrapped up my first year as a full-time college history instructor yesterday.  A few observations about the job, in no particular order:

  • My nemeses are the mean versions of the nerdy know-it-all archetype.  I had a "can't we all just get along" attitude at the start of the year, but now I know better.
  • Conversely, I get along famously with just about all of the veterans and jocks (none of whom, to date, are nerdy know-it-alls.)  Who knew?
  • An hour and fifty minutes a class is a lot of time to fill when you're a shameless chalk-and-talk / sage-on-the-stage lecturer like I am.
  • I 80% love the shuttle to and from campus.  I love it because it's free and I can read or grade while I'm en route, but I don't love it a little because I get sick a couple of times a term and because I have to be on their schedule.
  • I wish my campus looked less like it was designed to sustain direct artillery barrages from the Wehrmacht.
  • Likewise, I wish it was part of an actual neighborhood that featured things like cafes and food carts.
  • I like my colleagues a lot.
  • My student evaluations are positive.  Some students are still taken aback by the fact that I insist they use proper grammar in their papers, however.
  • I dress the part.


A Terror of Butterflies: Notes on Child Psychology

Freud introduced the idea that neuroses in adulthood have their roots in childhood trauma, and despite the fact that Freud's theories are now much more important to philosophy and literature departments in universities than psychology itself, we still basically think he's right about that connection - go through something traumatic as a kid, grow up, have what we now call issues.

It's been fun for me as someone who knows whole half-dozens of things about Freud to watch Plan C growing up.  The man couldn't have been more wrong about the whole idea that the infant is perfectly happy until it is forced to confront its separation from its mother (a stage usually associated with the development of language); that one is complete bullshit, as anyone who's been around a screaming infant vs. a relatively content toddler could tell you.  But, the trauma thing is more surprising to me.  From what I've seen, trauma or fear or even a peculiar kind of low-grade phobia seems built in, even without an actual event to trigger it.

Example: butterflies.

Plan C is terrified of butterflies.  She frequently reassures B or me as we put her to bed that we shouldn't worry, the butterflies won't get her, or, she tells us when she wakes up that there were butterflies in her room.  When she plays with her little people they have whole conversations about how the butterflies are going to get them.  This is a big part of her mental life.

Now, I am here to tell you that she was never attacked, molested, or harrassed by a single butterfly.  Not ONE.  She has other things she's afraid of for no reason as well, most immediately other kinds of bugs (albeit none as panic-inducing as butterflies.)  The point here is that it's almost like fear just welled up in her sometime after she turned 2 and found something to purchase on; the butterflies aren't the important things, it's just that it was butterflies where her innate terror focused. 

It's friggin' interesting.

(Watch, she'll grow up to be an entomologist who only eats nectar.)


Life and Times

Here's the latest:
  1. The Nervous will be recording a 7" record / digital EP thing at some point in the nearish future, hopefully around the end of June.  I'm very excited about this; it's been about 10 years since I did any recording, and I'm stoked to send the MP3 of our song Publish or Perish to all of my grad school homies.
  2. Remember that whole "brutal insomnia since I was about 13 thing"?  Latex mattress = sleeping like a rock.  IMHO, the expensive bed has already paid for itself.
  3. (Not that you asked, but...) week 3 of potty training.  Plan C very much gets it at this point, but we still have to run interference sometimes to prevent accidents.  She's graduating to undies this coming week.  Now if the poor kid's digestive tract would just produce poops that weren't the size and consistency of car batteries, she'd be in good shape...
  4. Gorgeous rainy how-it's-supposed-to-be spring weather in the last week has done much to revive my spirits.  We had our first rainy-day BBQ on Friday, which was great fun but did involve too much mud getting tracked into the house.  I'm thinking about making people hose themselves off from the waist down before they are admitted in the future.
  5. Three weeks of classes to go, then finals, then summertime!  Hot damn!


Middle-Aged Moshpit; Portlandia Morning

Part I:

Last night, homies Ransom, P and I ventured far into the night to see NoMeansNo at the Hawthorne Theater.  I've been a huge fan of NMN since I was 14 and I got their seminal "Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?" on vinyl; I spent years trying to play bass like their stalwart leader Rob Wright, which is sort of like trying to play trumpet like Miles Davis.  Despite the heat and humidity in the stanky venue wreaking havoc with their equipment, the band itself was top-notch, delivering about 1.5 hours of blistering, dirgy (i.e. "like a dirge", not a misspelling of "dirty") punk.  Two notes on the show:
  1. Those guys have looked old since I first heard them.  They looked old on the album photo of their first album, put out in the early 80s.  They looked old the three times I saw them in the 1990s.  They still look old now, in 2013, but not really any older than they ever did.  It was WEIRD, you guys!
  2. More to the point, the show was 21 and over, and I expected it to just be a lot of old rockers like myself rocking.  That was indeed the case.  What I did not expect, however, was the presence of a full-on geriatric moshpit the whole time!  Big, sweaty dudes who happened to be in their 40s slamming into each other!  Minivan-age fellows crowd-surfing!  It was grampa punk at its purest!
Part II:

After getting home really late and getting a few hours of sleep, it was up for the big day-before-Plan C's 3rd birthday outing B and I had been planning.  We did the following things:
  1. Bought a bed frame from West Elm (high-end mall-pop blaring on the speakers included) to go with our new fancy latex mattress we bought last week.
  2. Got fancy donuts from the new fancy donuts joint Blue Star Donuts a few blocks away (I got a maple bacon one.)
  3. Did photobooth pictures in the lobby of the trendy-ass fancy Ace Hotel a few blocks away.
  4. Went to Powell's (which is just great, as always, not really "fancy", where I bought two more dragon-slaying paperbacks (a few blocks away.)
It was, in short, the most Portland yuppie/hipster morning conceivable.  We regret nothing. 


Dust Settling...Now What?

This has been a tough (school) year for me, but only as tough as one would expect: I am a first-year full-time instructor at a community college, and that entails a whole lot of work in preparing and teaching four classes per term.  I had to create two completely new-to-me courses from the ground up, including lectures, powerpoints, readings, and assignments.  I had to try to figure out how to pace myself delivering up to three 1 hour, 50 minute lectures a day (still working on the pacing thing.)  I'm also very carefully testing the waters of the inevitable office politics, although I'm incredibly lucky in that my colleagues are all great, smart, sympathetic people and there's no question I have less political bullshit to put up with than 90%+ of other teachers out there.

The thing is, though, I appear to be over the hump with the insanity; I have all four of my courses in reasonably good shape and I'm more-or-less on top of the material.  So...now what.  The weird and (possibly) interesting thing about teaching a specific set of classes is that you can fine-tune and modify as much as you want, but the time per lecture is always the same.  What I mean is that modification for the sake of modification would be pointless, and there is a high baby-out-with-bathwater chance if you were to just ditch a lecture topic in favor of a new one.  Likewise, since the students are new each term, novelty for the instructor ("Hey!  I am lecturing about Spain more than I used to!") just means a different narrative for the students, and one that isn't necessarily "better" than the old one.

Point is: I am still figuring this shit out.  Word.