Friday, April 01, 2011

muddy pumpkin farms

I want to help introduce to my family, friends, and the world a new website: Muddy Pumpkin Farms, the place to go for local foods in South Dakota. This is my family's burgeoning business, a collective endeavor devoted to building the local food movement in South Dakota. We are well on our way to getting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) developed, and we're hoping to meet up with people all over the state and region to sell them local, healthy foods, along with building community in the strongest sense of the word.

It's April 1st, but this is no April Fool's trick. It's what my family and I have put a lot of effort into as of late. Here is Mark's blog post from today. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook once that is up and running, or join our mailing list. And come check out the farm and our farmers markets whenever you're next in SD.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SDSU Women's Basketball Tourney Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on SDSU's game against Oklahoma, and the possible game against Georgia Tech or Arkansas-Little Rock.

According to one RPI site, SDSU made it into the top 100 during the conference tournament, which is good, because that should be one of our team's goals all the time (and hopefully Oakland/Oral Roberts/etc. will have that as a goal. If our conference had 3+ teams in the range better than 100, someone would always have a chance at an at-large bid.

We also ended up with 2 wins in the top 25 RPI, which isn't easy as a midmajor, and it should be noted that both MidTenn and Gonzaga should have been 5-7 ranks rather than 7 and 10 or whatever. That's the position SDSU was in last year, and it really makes life tough being slightly under ranked once you get to the second round. In the sweet 16, it gets tough no matter what, and obviously last year SDSU was good enough to beat Baylor as a 2 seed, but had we been a 5 rather than a 7, we would have only had to beat a 12 and 4 rather than a 10 and 2. That's really where midmajors get screwed, and it makes absolutely no sense how they seed things, since they are supposedly going by RPI, by results against top 25/50/100 RPI, and stuff like that. SDSU was more than good enough last year, and I think MTSU and Gonzaga are good enough this year.

As far as this weekend goes, we are listed as a 9 point underdog to Oklahoma, according to this RPI projection. That seems fair--I'm not sure it is taking into account the fact that this is far from a neutral site, but maybe that evens out SDSU's better play toward the end of the year.

They have a good coach in Coale and a great driving point guard in Danielle Robinson (who was almost as crucial to their success last year as the Paris sisters, but has had a greater load put on her this year). Add to that the fact that SDSU doesn't do all that well defending against driving PGs, and that might be key. Additionally, OK is taller than us in the 4/5 positions, but SDSU may be bigger at the 2/3 positions. OK looks pretty bad at 3pt% and probably don't shoot many, so that may be an equalizer. Additionally, SDSU may be better at some of the peripherals like blocks and steals. We've played against some top teams steal-wise (like ORU), and while good Big12 teams like Oklahoma have played against bigger players than us, I don't know if they've played against many teams that are as consistent and fast as us. If this were last year's team (not just the missing players, but the missing team defense that I thought was top 5 in the country last year--this year it's been hit-or-miss), I'd say we had a 50-50 chance (just as much chance of blowing them out as they have, and a pretty good chance of playing it close to the end). This year, I think we have a better chance of not showing up, and 35% seems fair. We would be their worst loss, and they would be our best win, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

You can see all the teams in our group here.

One thing I thought was crazy was how many tall players Georgia Tech has. They have five over 6-2 (OK has 3, and SDSU has none). In spite of the height, Georgia Tech has relatively few blocks and lots of steals (on par with SDSU steals-wise at ~300/year--maybe even better at 340/year--I don't think any team compares to Oral Roberts who had 500 team steals this year--it's almost insane). I'm not sure why GT had so few blocks.

Additionally, both OK and GT are substantially worse than SDSU in terms of 3's, both in terms of % and production. And I do mean substantially. Therefore, the 3 can be the equalizer for SDSU in these games, but since SDSU has been hot-or-cold with 3s, that means they could also be off and lose. The good side is they shot 3s better late in the year (last 10-12 games), and most consistently. The bad news is they may be playing against taller and more athletic teams.

OK: 166-534 .311
SDSU: 251-660 .380
GT: 88-338 .260
UALR: 112-352 .318

I haven't said much about UALR, and they're a very good team--giving Middle Tennessee a run for their money this whole year. In fact, their top player Chastity Reed was on my honorable mention list for top players. Their strength of schedule was worse than MTSU, but they won ~20 games in a row before losing the conference tournament final (in OT I think) against MTSU. I think they would be a great match for SDSU this year, and it would probably be a hard game. Too bad I don't see it happening. Their size is more like ours, and we are probably even bigger. Aside from Reed (averages 25 pts, 8 rebs, 2 st, and 1 bl--sort of like Boever's stats, but with twice as many points), I think we would be able to beat them easily without Reed, but Reed is close to on par with Kevi Lupar of Oral Roberts and Alysha Clark of MTSU, so she'd give us a run for our money.

One other thing I found of note was that GT has no wins against top-25 RPI teams, while SDSU has two (Gonzaga and MTSU). On the other hand, Oklahoma has seven, so I think they're in a different class. I think that SDSU could play with any 5+ seeds, but a good 3 seed like Oklahoma is going to be tough. Their Strength of Schedule is 7th in the nation, and ours is 205th (another reason we need more teams in the Summit League to get in the top 100, and a reason I'm happy to be rid of Centenary soon, in addition to the travel).

Recap: Oklahoma
In any case, I think that our strengths will be 3pt shooting, overall FG%, and steals. Blocks are a wash, as is FT%. They have a driving PG who will give us trouble, and two big girls who rebound and foul out a lot. They're just as balanced as we are, and I would say they are a slight to moderate favorite. The 35% chance that RPI gives us seems reasonable--I would have put it at 40%, but I'm overvaluing our improvement over the course of the year, and undervaluing their home court advantage. It should be a good game.

Friday, November 20, 2009

tree flow furniture

this isn't much of an update, but for those of you who are interested, you should check out the website i'm working on for my brother's furniture-building business: treeflow furniture. it's forcing me to relearn dreamweaver which i hadn't used in 10 years, but it'll be good for me. and maybe my own website will get a redesign sometime soon also.

past that, all is well in kentucky. it's been a pleasant fall, full of house-stuff, environmental ethics-stuff, and kitten-stuff. i'll write more soon.

Monday, August 31, 2009

softer than a shower

sometimes when a blog goes silent, it is because the writer has lost interest or trailed off. my silence here was intentional. i was applying for jobs, but even more importantly, i was trying to finish my dissertation. i now have a new job, and i defended my dissertation yesterday. i also am moving to a new state and part of the country, and i bought an old house. this hasn't left much time for reflection and song lyrics. it's possible that in the coming year this blog will change shape, have more about my new life experiences rather than memories, but i expect the song lyrics to stay the same. while i'm not getting exposed to as much new music these days, my interest remains rather pronounced. and actually, i'm thinking i'll get back into making music, recording some stuff myself. i'll let you know how that goes.

with all the craziness in my life this summer, a few things stand out. first, writing and defending my dissertation. second, learning what it takes to buy a house. third, spending time with friends and family, with all the fun and excitement of that, but also the varied frustrations. fourth, my big vacation was to vancouver and victoria, bc for a conference and to see my brother's place there. and fifth, the sunsets, bald eagles, orcas, and trees.

my favorite song of the summer of 2009 is a selection from what i would call a rock opera, or at the least a themed album by the decemberists. as always, i highly recommend the song. check it out. and check out what a corn crake is, too. this was the song that got me through writing my introduction and conclusion this summer, that and old sigur ros standby songs. i'm not sure where i would be without sigur ros right now, but i don't think i'd be done with graduate school.

the hazards of love / wager all by the decemberists

and here i am
softer than a shower
and here i am
to garland you with flowers

to lay you down
in clover bed
the stars a roof
above our heads

and all my life
i never felt the tremor
and all my life
that now disturbs my fingers

i lay you down
in clover bed
the stars a roof
above our heads

and we'll lie 'til the corn crake crows
bereft of the weight of our summer clothes
and i'd wager all
the hazards of love

and take my hand
and cradle it in your hand
and take my hand
to feel the pull of quicksand

i lay you down
in clover bed
the stars a roof
above our heads

and we'll lie 'til the corn crake crows
bereft of the weight of our summer clothes
and i'd wager all
the hazards of love

Sunday, January 04, 2009

good fortune

while i might post a reflective post about the last year sometime soon, i think that it's more important now that i tell a few tales, stories that can be read as stories of luck, of the holiday spirit, of minnesota nice, of holy presence, or of karma. choose your favorite narrative framework.

story #1. this took place last night, with the main characters being myself, my brother mark, and our friend adam. it's really a simple story. we had just finished eating at himalaya, a nepalese restaurant in my neighborhood that serves excellent food (i highly recommend it), and we were on our way to the nba basketball game between the golden state warriors and the timberwolves. the game was unspectacular, but fun--the highlight was the fact that starbury was in attendance watching his cousin, and therefore the highest paid basketball player in the building was not a member of either team, likely did not check the score of his team's game, but still managed to have an effect on the game by giving stephen jackson an energy drink at half-time.

the cool part of the game was that we were able to attend without paying for a single ticket--a friend gave us two tickets, so we figured we'd have to buy one ticket. i went up to the ticket booth, and when i said that i wanted one ticket, the cashier asked me whether i was going by myself, and i said yes, and then that my friends already had tickets. she then convinced me not to buy a ticket and instead take one that had just been left at the counter, worth $35 plus a free wristband good for all you can eat concessions. while we never ended up using the free concessions (being full from excellent nepalese food), it was nice that the kindness of friends and strangers gave us a cheap night of entertainment for my brother's last night in town.

story #2. on new year's eve (just a couple days ago), my brother, our friend hanna, and i were driving from our hometown in south dakota to the twin cities (where i live, from where my brother was flying back to canada, and where hanna was going to visit friends and family). the drive was especially anxious for me because the previous trip--from the twin cities to our hometown--was quite easily the worst drive of my life--mark and i drove home through white out conditions with drifts across the two-lane highway, making it on luck, awareness, resolve, and a healthy dose of stupidity or stubbornness, not to mention a semi/truck that we followed much of the way, using its tracks for the broken drifts. to put it mildly, the trip was awful, and while the new year's eve trip back was rather tame weather-wise, i was still a little paranoid because my front left tire had been losing air even though i had taken it into the shop at thanksgiving to get the tire repaired.

though i pumped up the tire just before getting on the road, the tire wasn't done deflating yet. after about eighty miles on the road, the steering wheel started feeling a little bit wobbly, and though i thought it could be snow/slush disrupting the wheel balance (which had been a factor on the previous trip), i got out and checked as we were pulling through the small town of vesta (population 300-350), pulling over on the side of the road.

the tire was done. i could have probably driven on it a little longer, but it was dead or dying quickly. the temperature was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero. and i had forgotten my winter gloves back in south dakota, so i pulled on a pair of thin gloves from trunk. i knew i'd have to put the spare on, so we unloaded a very packed trunk on the side of the road when a voice called from a building just off the road: "hey, why don't you bring the car over here, put it in the garage to change the tire?" i looked over and saw a guy waving at me, so i got in the car, drove it--flat tire and all--into the garage, a warm shop with a nice jack, an impact wrench, and three friendly guys, each helpful and nice. the guy in charge gave mark and hanna a beer each and joked enough to keep my stress levels low, and when i had the tire changed, they let us out and told us to stop by again.

we drove away feeling like the experience was angelic, that we'd drive by vesta again in a few weeks, and there would be no friendly guys, no shop, no building. one of the other two said that between the three of us, we must have saved up a large dose of luck over the last year to use it up on the last day.

i still haven't gotten the tire fixed--i will sometime this coming week once i'm safely in northfield (where i'll spend the next month), but if i had a wish for the new year, it would be that everyone who traveled highway 19 through minnesota would stop in vesta at the r.r.s. building and give the guys who work there cookies or pies or any other kind of karma-return, or just as importantly, do something like that for someone else, wherever it is you are, and do that sort of thing often. it doesn't have to be cliche like the silly commercials on tv, but i'd love to live in a world where it was normal for people to be as good and kind as those guys in the shop in vesta.

though i have a couple things to say about radiohead below, and though i think you should listen to in rainbows if you haven't yet, i'd actually prefer that you took a few minutes and listened to a few songs on my friend david's page. i really like his music, and if you think about your relative impact, it's certainly much more meaningful to listen to his music than to thom yorke's--just by the numbers. but more importantly, for any of the people who read this who know me, know about my life in college and after, or are from minneapolis, you'll have close connections to the artist--he's a friend and mentor, and he's also an excellent musician.

i'm mentioning this song because unlike most people like me who will probably consider radiohead the best band of their generation, i waited a year before really listening to the new album a bunch and really only got into it during the last week (and yes, i was one of the people who pre-ordered the most expensive box set even though i could have downloaded the music for free--and unlike with the radiohead bears that i still consider one of the best iconic symbols of the last twenty years, i didn't really get much out of the art work this time). yet for some unknown reason, i waited until now to really listen and really like in rainbows. it will probably take me another 20+ listens to start listening to the words, but i like the music. on this song for instance, i know the music almost perfectly, but had to try quite hard for a while to figure out the words, which don't really speak to me at all, but tracks three thru five have great sounds.

nude by radiohead

don't get any big ideas
they're not gonna happen

you paint yourself white
and fill up with noise
but there'll be something missing

now that you've found it, it's gone
now that you feel it, you don't
you've gone off the rails

so don't get any big ideas
they're not gonna happen

you'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking

Saturday, December 06, 2008

don't you worry about the atmosphere

much has happened since i've last posted here. i've written drafts of things multiple times but either never finished them or finished them and didn't feel like posting them. it's been one of those times. but i'll break the silence and let you in on a few thoughts and experiences.

as andrew bird says, "i know that it's starting to get warm in here, and things are starting to get strange." but it will be okay when we "meet someday in the crumbled financial institutions of this land" because "there will be snacks." i guess it's reminiscent of one of my favorite books from my childhood, one that my dad would read to me, using funny voices as he said, "lean over, fatly. the pig leaned over fatly." the story is appropriate because it addresses crisis--financial, or in this case environmental--in an interesting way (and i care because in my scholarly life, i study the rhetoric and literature of environmental crisis).

i highly recommend checking out or purchasing the book however you can (i've bought three copies in the last few years so that i have a copy everywhere i might want one), but until you get your own, this synopsis will work very nicely, thank you. euphonia was an older lady with a broom (named briskly), a pig (fatly), and a boat (mary anne). one day the creek in front of her house flooded, but rather than sitting around "hollering for help," euphonia, the pig, and broom got into the boat and took off down the creek, picking up new friends (a skunk, some chickens, and a bear) along the way. at the end of their adventure, they found a picnic where everyone was taking a pragmatic and hopeful approach to the natural disaster: they were having a picnic!

before i get back to the meaning of the book, i should say a couple things about that last sentence. first, there were tons of dissertation references in that last sentence, and second, at my brother's recommendation, i just started reading ted steinberg's history of natural disasters, and their relationship to human behavior: especially interesting is the section on the deadly floods of rapid city in 1972. the creek in front of my family's place in the black hills flooded a couple times this summer, to great effect, with water sashaying down the creek, carrying bridges, sticks, and other stuff downstream. not sure there was a picnic, in 2008 or 1972. but i guess that leads me back to the point: crisis, and in this case financial. that's what people are thinking about a lot right now (if i were a little smarter, i'd be writing my dissertation about the literature of financial crisis rather than environmental).

so welcome to a recession of some sort, which is a grown-up (and therefore less fun) version of recess i guess. it's when people get a break from work to play outside, right? wow, i didn't plan that out, and it came out irreverent, perhaps to the point of being callous and hurtful. i apologize. what i really mean to say is that things aren't good for a number of people--especially those who have lost their jobs--and they might get worse before they get better. and people's coping mechanisms are wide-ranging: working harder, doing nothing, reading fantasy books or watching reality tv, becoming cynical, depressed, naively optimistic, anxious, maybe even violent.

but what about the responses described by andrew bird and euphonia and the flood. will there be snacks or a picnic at the end of the recession? that's kind of what i'm banking on lately. i'm hoping things get better soon, but here's the thing about hope: it requires action--hopeful pragmatism as i call it. i'm working on a dissertation chapter on scott russell sanders' book hunting for hope right now (once i'm done with it, i'll be mostly done with my dissertation), and though i have much more to say about the book if you ever decide you want to read my literary/rhetorical criticism, the short version is this: finding hope in our life doesn't have to be entirely dependent on global economic systems, and the crumbling financial institutions bird mentions. and living in hope means making the best out of the situations and crises we encounter: enjoying the flood as much as possible.

please note that the scale of the disaster is key here: a flood can be fun, but it can also be dangerous--people die, whether it's in south dakota in 1972 or new orleans in 2005. the message though is that finding and enjoying the good things in life--family, food, fun, time spent together, working and playing--doesn't have to be dependent on things beyond one's control. our lives are certainly influenced by things like recessions and floods--sometimes in terrible ways--but small floods and recessions (let's pray this one is small) offer opportunities to step back from our everyday lives and either work together, play together, or somehow celebrate what we do have--picnics, dancing bears, a band, and pigs eating fatly. and the story of euphonia and the flood might even have an important message for people in times of economic or environmental crisis: reconnect with your neighbors and local food systems.

does this mean we shouldn't worry about the atmosphere, or some other crisis waiting in the wings? unfortunately, no. in fact, this might be the most important time for us to worry about the atmosphere, to redevelop our energy grids by investing in green-collar jobs, mass transportation systems, our countries' infrastructure, and solar/wind energy systems. and while we're working on responses to financial crisis and the atmosphere, while we're bring together science and engineering, business and politics, we can't "let the human factor fail to be a factor at all." we need stories, storytellers, lovers, friends, family members, snacks, and picnics, and if my impertinence can be forgiven one more time, i think we should strive to make this recession a little more like recess. i think that might be our best survival kit, our best equipment for living in crisis.

tables and chairs by andrew bird

if we can call them friends, then we can call them on red telephones
and they won't pretend that they're too busy or they're not alone
and if we can call them friends then we can call
holler at them down these hallowed halls
but just don't let the human factor fail to be a factor at all

don't you worry about the atmosphere or any sudden pressure change
cause i know that it's starting to get warm in here
and things are starting to get strange

and did you see how all our friends were there
and they're drinking roses from the can

and how i wish that i had talked to them
and i wished they fit into the plan

and we were tired of being mild
we were so tired of being mild
and we were tired

i know we're gonna meet someday in the crumbled financial institutions of this land
there will be tables and chairs
there'll be pony rides and dancing bears
there'll even be a band
'cause listen after the fall there'll be no more countries
no currencies at all
we're gonna live on our wits
we're gonna throw away survival kits
trade butterfly knives for adderall
and that's not all
there will be snacks

so don't you worry about the atmosphere

Thursday, October 23, 2008

safely across

obviously i'm in a phase where i'm writing on here more than i had been for a few months. i guess that's just the way this operates. maybe at some point, this blog will be a big enough priority in my life that i will update it often. but as it stands now, with a few casual readers, some friends (that i hopefully talk to anyway), and a few random people stopping by for song lyrics, i just don't have enough of a reason to write here for other people. it's still just for me. if you want me to take it more seriously, you're going to have to do part of the work of promoting it. tell all of our mutual friends to read what i have to write.

but that really is an aside. i am happy enough with recording my thoughts here and letting you eavesdrop. anything to keep me from thinking about baseball or the election (or job letters and my dissertation) is good. that sounds awful--that i'm trying not to think about the important things in my life (with the exception of the election, but i think that's something very important, even if it isn't directly a part of me).

in addition to thinking about student writing (since i'm giving feedback on papers right now), i've been thinking about how college students encounter, filter, and process information in a time when hypertext has turned into hyper-overload: information, entertainment, and spin. my friend and colleague greg brought up this point with respect to his students, and it has gotten me thinking (though i haven't made it far). i have a hard enough time sorting through information and news, and simplifying my life as much possible by cutting out tv entertainment (i am currently paying for heroes and how i met your mother on amazon since apple dropped heroes). i tried to listen to the twins on the radio (and watch gameday some) rather than watching them on tv, and i'm trying not to think about or care about nfl or college football (even though it still comes up in conversation) because i need my time and energy for other pursuits.

when it comes to news and analysis, i have my igoogle and rss feeds. i check the nyt website daily, and far too often, other baseball blogs (aarongleeman and the other twins people), read grist on the site or in my email, and get a variety of news stories from various listservs and friends. it's a far cry from reading the local or national newspaper, readers' digest, and u.s. news like i did when i was younger, and which my parents still do (though they read the emailed news stories i send them and go out and get others themselves).

but greg's worry, and my fear, is that students are all too often just encountering news and entertainment in random, incoherent bits, the "related" function in youtube, meaning having just watched a funny snl sketch the next thing to come up might be a clip from the colbert report or some other internet celebrity clip. the structure and connections, the deliberate reading of the news, and the chance to filter something out just aren't there. whether it's good or bad, it certainly is frustrating to be 28 years old and feel like an "old-timer" just because i don't let youtube pick what information i encounter next, just because i have particular news sites i read and process regularly, just because i have some kind of structure.

but it also brings up the questions of whether and how to develop students' capacities to think critically and analytically, how to help them structure papers and comments in class so that conversations aren't just a complex mess of tangential bullshit where one thing reminds them of another, and soon enough, no one has any idea why we're talking about animal planet by way of chinese birth control laws and norms when we really wanted to have a conversation about human augmentation and genetic engineering (this is an example from my class last week, and it was frustrating enough that i had to request students relate their comments back to the topic at hand multiple times).

so in the end, i'm still not sure what any of this means, and whether or what i and other instructors can do to help college students think better, read better, write better, and structure the world a little more than through tangential interest: if you liked watching midgets race against a giraffe, then you might also like a john mccain speech parody. if you have thoughts, let me know. but if you're more interested in music at times like these, then here's a draft playlist i'm working on for this month. below that, there's a note about a great singer and good friend, laura jean binkley.

october 2008 playlist (first one in a while without the decemberists)

midnight rider by the allman brothers
tables and chairs by andrew bird
forget about dre by eminem and dr. dre
omaha by counting crows
draggin' the line by tommy james and the shondells
mary jane's last dance by tom petty and the heartbreakers
subterranean homesick alien by radiohead
start a war by the national
adia by sarah mclachlan
the gardner by the tallest man on earth
sunshine by jonathan edwards
little one by beck
drivin' me wild by common
let her cry by hootie and the blowfish
don't be scared by andrew bird
whispering pines by dar williams
live and let die by guns 'n' roses
new by travis welk
shame by the avett brothers

check out laura jean's website for more information (and listen to her music). i was just listening to "walking dream" and "about you" and love them. but this song was played live on my friend james' phoning it in radio show at brown last year. i'm not sure about the title or even some of the lyrics, but you probably won't find them elsewhere unless laura has published them somewhere. if you want to hear the song, you'll have to find james' radio show archive at phoning it in.

ships and bridges by laura jean binkley

don't tell me not to hold my breath
don't tell me not to wait for death to impart
'cause you captured my heart

like the moon in the universe trapped by the earth
it travels round in a circle
every day since the birth of gravity
it's what you're doing to me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across

lay a nickel on the railroad track
wait a little bit
that nickel's flattened by a train
that's my kind of pain

like a black bird sitting on a white fence post
i complement you
i say you're the most of anything
for you like me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across
to hold you safely across

nothing is made
nothing disappears
everything we've saved has been around
for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years

so if i send you kisses on the waves of the wind
you may not feel them but i'm certain you'll receive
those kisses from me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across
to hold you safely across