Thursday, September 30, 2004

an airplane ride

i'm worn out right now and have to get up early to go teach and do class, but for those of you who haven't heard of a band by the name of the postal service, you have missed out to this point - i give them my highest recommendation. most people who i get to talk to often will know them and will also know this song hopefully. that's not the point. the point is that this is one of the most interesting perspectives and comments on the experience of riding in an airplane. ben gibbard is able to take an experience that many have had and offer the most lucid and interesting/insightful perspective on that experience. i'm not someone who really focuses on the lyrics the first time i hear a song (sometimes not even the fifth or fifteenth) - i hear them, and something sounds good or interesting, but i am very auditory and very interested in music. once i start focusing on the lyrics of songs (for whatever reason), it always amazes me how perfect they can be. ben gibbard is my favorite lyricist (and i find it pretty likely he could remain in this spot for a very long time). he's a great musician also, but that's not my focus here.

the lyrics speak of a common sight - the farms that are slowing eroding/fading into the ocean (the next time you're flying over the great plains and western united states, pay attention to the circles of green on the ground which come from the irrigation projects - my dad has written a book and is still looking for a publisher called circles of green that is the history of irrigation technology and science - that's my special story about airplane views - quite different from the patchwork one sees while flying over the eastern half of the us, but interesting nonetheless and flowing to the ocean all the same, creating hypoxic dead zones and wonderful song lyrics) - the song is lucid - i have this desire to explain the song, but the explanations are simple - the perspective and how he arrived at it - that is what is amazing. my hope is that people will just look for the meaning and inspiration and spark that comes from listening to these songs. for someone studying metaphor, rhetoric, identification, and stuff, i'm overwhelmed by the power of the songs people can write, and not the kind of songs written by industrialized pop songs (industrial not in the nine inch nails sense, but in the nsync/brittney spears sense - written, promoted, and performed by disparate music business people. by the way, i'm not against the music business, just against what it can be in extreme cases, which certainly abound.

for now, i must go to sleep. i wish you the best and hope that you have the greatest time.

I take a breath and pull the air in 'til there's nothing left
I'm feeling green like teenage lovers between the sheets

Ba ba ba ba ...

Knuckles clenched to white as the landing gear retract for flight
My head's a balloon inflating with the altitude

Ba ba ba ba...

I watch the patchwork farms' slow fade into the ocean's arms
And from here they can't see me stare
The stale taste of recycled air
I watch the patchwork farms' slow fade into the ocean's arms
Calm down, release your cares
The stale taste of recycled air

Monday, September 27, 2004

the atlantic was born today

if you've ever had someone you care about on the other side of an ocean (especially the atlantic), this song will probably mean more to you than can be expressed in words. it's amazing. truly.

i mentioned this in one of the first posts, but i didn't say much about it. my great friend emily is far away now, and i am quite happy that she's doing well and having a great time. but i do miss talking to her sometimes. i'll go visit her sometime. that will be fun and nice.

i haven't had time to think or relax much today, except for my time playing frisbee and making/eating a great dinner. so i am not going to reflect on things too much. i'll save that for time when my brain has worked a little bit less. the main thought for you to take away from this message is that clarity comes with writing, thinking comes with listening, the best experiences have a strange way of showing up. i think one of my most frustrating (at the time), but interesting experiences was this summer when i was lost in a south dakota prairie. my job was to go around looking for small pvc pipe wells that stuck up out of the ground a foot or so. unfortunately, the first time i tried finding them by myself, i didn't have a compass, the grass was tall, and i couldn't find anything. i didn't know where i was, where i should go next, or how to get wherever it was i was supposed to go. and this is in mixed (short and tall) grass prairie, not in the mountains or a forest. it wasn't the first (or last) time i've been lost. but it was probably one of the moments of my life i'll remember most clearly - it is leading me to reconsider ecology as a thing to study (being able to be outside, doing things, etc).

while i could write about times i've felt emotionally lost, intellectually lost, comparing them to this - i think that would fail to consider fully the importance of the experience of being lost. to some extent, it forces a person to recognize personal limits and confusion, paradox and lack of power. perhaps it just proved i'm not as clever as i might wish. i can't escape experiences like that. they're incredibly important to me, just like being able to smell like wetlands, be eaten by mosquitoes and ticks, avoid the smell of exhaust and humans. if i could redo the experience, i'd probably camp out there and experience the place over night if i could - i guess soccer keeps me in brookings, keeps me tied to civilization, tied to a schedule during the summer. that and the fear of vector-borne diseases i suppose (or just annoyance by them).

but few people can probably say they've been around ticks enough to observe them when they're not on humans or other animals, when they're living the other part of their life and not on a host. it was quite enlightening - i encourage people to take some time out in tall grass in june in south dakota - pick weeds, check water levels of wetlands, whatever - you'll experience a ton of ticks, but if you are lucky, you'll get to watch a tick walking around on the ground or on a leaf or making the transition to one's shirt sleeve. you'll realize something then. i did.

and i'm excited because tomorrow i'm going to a rilo kiley concert - definitely check them out if you get a chance. i promise i'll give a quick review of the concert - hopefully my travel plans to get there and back work out. we'll see. in the evening, i wish you all well and good. it's time for my sleep before waking to teach and learn.

The atlantic was born today and i'll tell you how...
The clouds above opened up and let it out.

I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole.
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
Making islands where no island should go.
Oh no.

Those people were overjoyed; they took to their boats.
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands to your door have been silenced forever more.
The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
It seems farther than ever before
Oh no.

I need you so much closer

I need you so much closer
So come on, come on

Sunday, September 26, 2004

looking back to our birth, forward to our demise

Simple outline of activities I have done in the last couple days include going to look for camping stuff at rei, exploring ecology (graduate programs and research studies/methods/topics in order to be able to intelligently write a brainstormed list of potential research projects), watching soccer games, watching movies, grading papers, and reading for my classes. Suffice it to say, I have not done as much as I might like. But I had great conversation(s) with Anna, hung out with friends, relaxed, and enjoyed life, and that's usually a pretty good thing. I feel like my body needs a break from something, but I think what it really needs is a lot more activity to wear it out more.

The most important thing I think and feel right now relates to geography. There is a lot to be said, and I will say little, but I think about place and where I am and where I want to be - quite a bit really. When I ask my students to write about their lives, I ask them to consider the important or life-determining aspects of it, and I mention that they can consider important people, places, experiences, thoughts, or whatever. It's usually rather easy to think about or consider people who have made a big influence on one's life (starting with parents, siblings, family and friends, followed by partners, friends, and children, followed perhaps by later generations). There are teachers, coaches, strangers (who are rarely mentioned when people think about important parts of their lives), and pets (interesting for those interested in non-humans). Experiences are also easy - there are certain experiences that jump out in one's life when one reflects on those matters of import. One thing that also jumps out are the places where these things take place - experiences of people, activities, or absences.

Right now in my life, I'm within decently close proximity to some people I care about and with whom I have shared experiences. But many more of the most important people in my life are far away. Many of my relations from Brookings and from Saint Olaf are far away from me, doing amazing and cool things, but faraway nonetheless. Others are far away only emotionally or because of busy lives. I could create a list of people who are faraway from me - perhaps I'll do that for my own benefit, but it seems unnecessary. If you know me, you know at least a few people who aren't within my reach. And that's fine, but it's strange. Moreover the places that I have grown to care about most in my life aren't near me. I am far from Brookings, the Two Rivers, Rochford, Northfield. Some of those places are different from how I remember them; others are similar. Only one is rejecting the process of growth (the Two Rivers) - Brookings is getting a SuperWalMart (something I hate), Rochford has neighbors more interested in cutting down trees and putting up buildings than remembering exactly what made the people like the area in the first place, Northfield continues to grow with the sprawl of the cities.

I guess this is the nature of humans. Aldo Leopold has written about how humans tend to destroy things we like (much like the big hairy guy in loony tunes that wanted to hold, pet, and name george every creature that crossed his path). I don't like cities, but I am going to have to live in cities for at least another 4 years for graduate school. I like open areas with few lights, no smog, the smell of decomposing leaves, the feeling of outdoors. Most people seem to, no matter what other things bring them together. People lament the growth of populations around places they appreciate. I don't have answers, at least not any easy answers that don't involve something damaging. Things usually end up being hard to stomach in some way or another. Things will likely become more important as time goes on. I'm not certain how population growth will change, but it seems to be going higher than I like. And I maintain that whatever the carrying capacity of the Earth is, it is much lower when one considers the other organisms on Earth and not just humans and the machines we value so highly. It seems to me that while non-human animal populations continue to decrease, non-human machine populations are ever-increasing. And that frightens me.

So when I say all this, am I just looking forward to our demise, looking back to our birth? Am I lamenting the past and expounding prophecy of doom in the future? It's possible, but any time one frames my thoughts in that way, one is missing the point, that it's unimportant if my rhetoric is apocalyptic or romantic. What seems to be important is that I have to change. We have to change. I have to work in all I do to help the non-human self-determined aspects of reality and try my best to hinder the non-human human controlled or manipulated aspects of reality. That's the game I play, the story I tell, what I value, and how I relate my worldview to the world. I'll find new narratives as I move through time, but right now I think this one is of utmost importance. It's important because I want to live in a world where there is mystery, where there are things outside of human control and prediction and understanding. It's important because life is amazing, uncertain, and special only because of its uncertainty. It's special because of its complexity and unintelligibility. We'll see how things go.

Look into Live's Stood Up For Love when you're looking for music. It took me a while to get used to the instrumentation of the verses - they just seemed to be interesting, but not pretty, but each time I hear the chorus, it all makes sense - going from something so off to something so beautiful - I love the chorus you see. It's a wonderful song with great lyrics and a great idea. And it fits somehow.

naked lovers feel the blood beneath their veins
electric nerves communicate
with tiny explosions through our brains
who is this energy that never left or came?
give rise to passion the only glory
of this human story

I give my heart and soul to the one

we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
looking back to our birth, forward to our demise
even scientists say, everything is just light
not created, destroyed but eternally bright
masters in everytime lord in everyplace
those who stood up for love down in spite of the hate
in spite of the hate

who put the flower in the barrel of that gun?
who lit the candle that started the fire,
burnt down the fortress, the throne?
who could house all the refugees in a single shack
or a lowly bungalow?
who lives in a different dimension, free from the
struggles we know?

I give my heart and soul to the one

we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
looking back to our birth, forward to our demise
even scientists say, everything is just light
not created, destroyed but eternally bright
masters in everytime lord in everyplace
those who stood up for love down in spite of the hate
we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
they live in the light

we made it to the moon
but we can't make it home
waitin' on a rescue that never comes
made it to the moon
but we can't make it home
maybe home is where the heart is given up
to the one
to the one

we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
lookin' back to our birth, forward to our demise
we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
they live, they

they stood up for love
stood up for love
stood up for love
they stood up for love
stood up for love
stood up for love

we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
masters in everytime
we spend all of our lives goin' out of our minds
stood up for love

Saturday, September 25, 2004

hands down

this dashboard song is just plain amazing. i love listening to it, and it was on a recent green lake trip music mix (what happens when kenny drives from minnesota to his cottage in wisconsin). i'm not going to reflect on it too much because i am just going to let it wash over me - you should try it too - it is one of those songs (like just about any rage against the machine song) that makes me want dislocate my neck.

what's on my mind today - i'll try to outline a simplified example of my current thoughts. imagine that you had to choose between doing graduate work in a field where that research probably wouldn't get you a job, and if you got a job, it wouldn't be well paying, but you would probably like the job if you got it. or you could do graduate study in a field you like, but perhaps slightly less, where you would be much more likely to get a job, and a well-paying one at that. you might have to do things you like slightly less in this job, but you might still be able to do the same sort of things as in the first job under the right circumstances. under either of the cases, your hope would be to do interdisciplinary teaching and research rather than disciplinary, but you realize that few places are currently hiring interdisciplinary teachers/researchers unless they have a developed expertise in a certain area.

that's where i'm at. it occupies my thoughts and time for too much of each day - i end up searching for things online about people or programs, writing down the same thoughts on stuff over and over, as it is framed the same way each time i think about it. i think i have found a few places that i would like to be, whether for their philosophy, ecology, or environmental studies. right now, those are university of oregon, university of wisconsin madison, university of washington seattle, duke university. that's four places, and i think i could see myself applying to a program in science and philosophy at each of them (not to mention the program i'm currently in). at $75 per application, that will end up being $600 or so, which is a lot for applications, but at the same time i suppose it's all worth it.

i know i would like to teach in the humanities, the environmental humanities, and do my research looking at the relationship between ecological science and environmental humanities. that's what my interest is, but in my opinion, most environmental studies and conservation biology programs that are interdisciplinary are more preparatory for work outside of academia. moreover, they often are more likely to combine science and social science (economics and policy) than they are to combine ecology and environmental philosophy in a meaningful way (to see why, see the previous comment on work outside of academia). they often operate under a paradigm of conservation, sustainability, and solving problems (science tells us what the problem is, and one solves the problem using economic/community-based/policy methods). I find this an important perspective, but it's not the only one (or in my opinion the best). This is not to say that I don't have a lot of respect for people structuring programs such as this because I do, but I have a different way of understanding relationships with the non-human (outside of solving problems with economics or policy).

so the program i envision would allow me to study ecological science in the company of ecological scientists (participate in research and stuff) and then work with it in a humanities context, preparing me to teach and research in a humanities situation, reflecting on the ethical, philosophical, rhetorical, and aesthetic dimensions of the ecological science's ramifications. i'm not sure what that means, but i don't really want to use already defined methods, except for maybe a combination of rhetoric/philosophy methods. i'm working on it, but i need practice. that's the main thing - i'm pretty sure that i could buy into either program and work my way through either, but i want my graduate experience to allow me to work on how i want to do things (which right now is still in experimental stages) rather than do something that doesn't really help me do what i want.

the main thing is i like lots of different perspectives, different methods, different approaches, different jargons/languages to questions/problems/issues - it keeps me thinking and continues to alternate between uncomfortable and comfortable processes of thinking - i come into a situation feeling uncomfortable and then learn it and develop some level of comfort (even though i never get as close to mastery of any area), which allows me to contribute. in the end, i cannot help but make meaningful connections through all the different strategies and rules and methods and rules - and i can develop something new through analogy.

i could probably continue speaking at length about this sort of thing, but i'll leave it there - it gives me enough to frame my thoughts entering sleep. that and a stimulating mess around session with anna. between those two things, i have enough to trouble my dreaming life.

Breathe in for luck,
breathe in so deep,
this air is blessed,
you share with me.
This night is wild,
so calm and dull,
these hearts they race,
from self control.
Your legs are smooth,
as they graze mine,
we're doing fine,
we're doing nothing at all.

My hopes are so high,
that your kiss might kill me.
So won't you kill me,
so I die happy.
My heart is yours to fill or burst,
to break or bury,
or wear as jewelery,
which ever you prefer.

The words are hushed lets not get busted;
just lay entwined here, undiscovered.
Safe in here from all the stupid questions.
"hey did you get some?"
Man, that is so dumb.
Stay quiet, stay near, stay close they can't hear...
so we can get some.

My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me.
So won't you kill me, so I die happy.
My heart is yours to fill or burst,
to break or bury, or wear as jewelery,
which ever you prefer.

Hands down this is the best day I can ever remember,
I'll always remember the sound of the stereo,
the dim of the soft lights,
the scent of your hair that you twirled in your fingers
and the time on the clock when we realized it's so late
and this walk that we shared together.
The streets were wet
and the gate was locked so I jumped it,
and I let you in.
And you stood at your door with your hands on my waist
and you kissed me like you meant it.
And I knew that you meant it,
that you meant it,
that you meant it,
and I knew,
that you meant it,
that you meant it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

learn how to throw away?

sometimes i'm curious what should be thrown away - i'm all for re-_____-ing, but that's not quite what this song is about. it's probably not clear what this song is about, but that may be why i like it. the band soulwax is amazing - i'm not quite clear what exactly soulwax is - i know it's two brothers who make music.

this song is one i love playing on piano - i can't play the strings simultaneously, but i can imagine them. i'm thinking that a lack of clarity and simplicity allows for most of the continued pleasure in music and lyrics. that's why i like metaphor, and that's why i like complexity in music to some degree. but i also like simplicity of the jack johnson/dispatch kind. i think that i've generally found a happy diversity in my interests and joys in that regard.

the main accomplishment in my life today was the commencement of writing my thesis - i started brainstorming in outline form, and i felt really good about the structure and organization it was taking on. last night before i went to bed, i did the same thing with a philosophy style paper on ethics and distant others. i think that both could be interesting, which is important because i don't want to get sick of them too early in the process of working on them, but i also recognize they are also things i just do and do them. things generally make sense. if i can avoid going blind for the next few months, i think i could potentially make a lot of progress on the writing of my thesis, which would make my life much nicer.

at any rate, i'll maybe put more thought into all this tomorrow - i've been thinking and doing academic for 50+ of the last 72 hours - that's too much. enjoy this song by soulwax sometime soon. it's called when logics die.

and the place of sadness
I occupy with dignity
was left like a dream among stones
and the words that you spill from the mouth that you fill
they abandon their grace and fatigue
oh to feel without touching and speak without talking
you'll spill the tissues of lies
how I wish we could mend things
or learn how to throw away
as we look for someone to blame

love's been denied
don't be polite
I owe u nothing
when logics die

and the dream is a night
but eternal the kiss
but I guess you already knew
I'm the orgy and the distant cool
the friend you will never fool
I like the way you oppose me
let the last thoughts languish
and try and distinguish
you'll spill the tissues of lies
how I wish we could mend this
or learn how throw away as we look for someone to blame

love's been denied
don't be polite
I owe u nothing
when logics die

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

longtime sunshine

while i'm not a rock star on tour and getting lonely and feeling superficial (though i've wanted to be that at various points in my life), this song really does it for me - mostly the simplicity and the feeling - i can imaginatively identify with it, even if i haven't been there and done that. today has been a busy day, and i again haven't finished the reading/grading of my student's papers, and i feel behind in my readings for class (though i'm staying rather current). i'm sure my students don't mind too much, but i certainly don't want to get in the habit of late returns.

today involved lots of reading and thinking and discussing - got a few nice emails - i'm behind on emails and need to send some responses out to people who are graciously writing to me. i had an enjoyable class and feel relatively prepared for my classes i teach tomorrow. i talked to a good friend online, which was nice.

what's important to me right now? i haven't quite figured that out. a bunch of my good friends aren't near me - i'm making a couple new good friends. i'm trying to preserve old friendships in some way, not necessarily how i have been. i'm liking life, teaching, classes, learning, that sort of thing. i really can't complain about bad things, just about the complexity of living really. my life has a lot going on, and sometimes it is hard to process or figure out. i can't claim or hope to figure things out once and for all, but i'm hoping to keep making my way through things. i guess a few divergent life plans may exist.

the first is probably the most dominant in my mind - getting a phd in the humanities (environmentally focused), then getting a job as a professor somewhere i love and enjoy and teaching and researching things i am interested in and want others to be interested in. job security in the humanities isn't great, especially job security for those who aren't the very top of whatever thing they are doing. in simple terms, a philosophy phd from a place that isn't ranked in the top 10 places may not get a job one wants, though one will probably be able to find work. i'm interested in environmental philosophy, and none of the ranked programs really focus on that sort of thing. at any rate, that might be a harsh reading of the state of affairs, but it sounds somewhat plausible.

the second is to get a phd in ecology - this would pay more and have more jobs, and if i did this at a respected university, i could get most jobs i wanted - that would be nice - except then i'd be worried about annoying things all the time like writing grants and stuff. i would also rather teach humanities type courses than teach intro biology courses. teaching environmental studies is probably my biggest goal i guess, along with some philosophy or rhetoric, english or ecology all fitting in somehow. i'm not sure how this would all go over with places i might want to work.

then there is the fact that geography is highly determinate of where i want to go in life right now - i'll probably go to a coast, but seattle, eugene, durham, and other places are all pretty good in my opinion. so if i can't eliminate choices based on places i don't want to go (like probably nyc, los angeles, and texas right now), and i can't eliminate certain disciplines or life choices based on overwhelming preference, and i can't predict how the state of academia will change over the next few years, i'm left with a bunch of good options, each of which would have good things and bad things. it's a real choice, and it's complex, but it doesn't help too much.

right now i would also really like to just take a lot of time and write about the thoughts i've been having lately. sometimes writers might get writer's block because they haven't had experiences or thoughts that seem important to write down or explore. that's not currently my problem - my problem is that i have a lot of ideas that i would like to explore and see what happens, but i don't have the time to write them down in as much detail or with as much attention as i might like. some of this writing is somewhat analytic or philosophical argumentation i suppose, but there are some ideas in fiction i am considering, and i just don't know how much time i can afford to put into these things when i have graduate school to do. if i weren't in graduate school, then i'd have to worry about bills (at least college loans). so we'll see what happens, but i am hoping to take next summer to work on some of this stuff. but the third option i guess is to be a part time writer and see where all this goes. and i know that academics read and write a lot in their disciplines, but that is more of a publish or perish sort of thing rather than feel free to come up with interesting ideas or ways of looking at the world.

so maybe in the end, i'd just like to pack everything up and live some other kind of normal life whatever that might be. for now though, go listen to this song by weezer, the title of this post. have a great night. all my best,

sometimes i wanna pack it all up, get on a bus and move to vermont
or maine, or any of those states back east that i remember
sometimes i wanna go back to school to an east coast college with some history
i'd be satisfied, i know, in the simple things

longtime sunshine, longtime sunshine upon me

sometimes i wanna build a house with a woodstove or a fireplace
in the middle of the living room an old piano
sometimes it don't seem so bad to settle down with a good woman
leave this lonely life behind forever and ever

longtime sunshine, longtime sunshine upon me
longtime sunshine, longtime sunshine upon me

sometimes i wanna get in a car, close my eyes and drive real fast
keep on going 'til i get some place where i can truly rest

longtime sunshine, longtime sunshine upon me
longtime sunshine, longtime sunshine upon me

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Vast - You

If you're interested in getting a song to listen to (one that I haven't listened to in a few years), try the song You by Vast. It's a quality track with some interesting synth and string accompaniments. The lyrics are at the bottom of this. if you want to check out a song that's slightly more disturbing - look into pretty when you cry.

I think that I'm not fighting a cold - my throat feels somewhat tight right now - hopefully it's not what the other instructors have been getting around here - if so, I'll just have to relax and sleep more, drink more water, enjoy being sick if that's what it comes to.

I'm starting to tell a few people about this site - I am not advertising it, but I like writing here well enough that I'm fine with others reading it - so if you are reading this, welcome - I hope you have a good day. If you ever want to contact me, just send me an email to and make sure I know it's about my writings here (otherwise i'll be quite confused). For now, I'm going to get back to reading philosophy papers on the ethical implications of individual's points of view, separateness, partiality, and personal projects or commitments. It's interesting information, and it addresses things that if I believed, I might frighten myself.

your dress
looks good on you my love
and your house looks like it's heaven
why are there
so many people outside of it
everything you have will be
oh you can't take anything with you
except the love
the love that i have for you
your eyes look like they're from god
and your face looks like it's from god
why are you
going to be
outside eternity
everything we know will be
oh you can't take anything with you
except the love
the love that i have for you
i know you want to

Monday, September 20, 2004

sleepy california

It has been a busy and wonderful day - I talked to an old friend, saw my younger brother, played frisbee, worked on school stuff, caught up on other tasks, and read some student's papers. I like it a lot. The song I just listened to that I want in my head as I go to sleep tonight is by Her Space Holiday. The lyrics are amazing and have been in my favorites for quite a while (the last year since my friend Tor introduced the band to me). The guy is from San Francisco and can relate to some aspect of my life also.

I have three surviving grandparents, all of whom I love dearly. They are all wonderful people, caring, and giving of themselves to others. My mother's father died when I was young, of cancer, and it's been something I've thought a lot about and prayed about over the last 15 years. I had one last chance to see him, but I went and played a soccer game on the day he died (rather than going with my mom and younger brother to see him) - I think it was a Tuesday night, but it might have been a Saturday. I remember not telling anyone in school about it, except when one day a friend was making fun of me for not being interested in doing something, and I told him to leave me alone because my Grandpa died, and I was thinking about him.

When I was in kindegarten (early on in the cancer stages), I used to pray every day multiple times. I always thought that praying would get me something tangible, and it didn't. Instead, I think that it helped me to process everything that was happening, something to do when things were weighing me down.

My grandfather Dale was an awesome person. He was a farmer, traded stocks, and was a player of games - he taught me cribbage, chess, checkers, and other games, from the time when I was four till when I was six or so (then he started getting sick). I miss him dearly and love to think about him and preserve his memory. He influenced my brothers and I in that we like games and strategy, but also expertise at any number of things. I'll maybe say more about him some other time, but right now I feel pretty tired and will go to sleep. I wish he felt young again, when everything was new. Here are the rest of the lyrics to that song.

I used to think that I knew
My way around this town
But I'm always getting lost
Since you're not around
I never thought that I would say this
But I miss my mom
Even though for all those years
We didn't get along
And when I stop to think about it
I guess we were the same
Too stubborn to apologize
Too filled up on rage

I wish she felt young again
When everything was new
When her father held her hand
And said, "There's nothing you can't do"

And then I woke up to a phone call
Right On Christmas day
It said, "Your grandmother is dying
In a painful way
Her lungs are filling up with fluid
Even as we speak"
The doctor said that if she's lucky
She'll make it 'til next week
I had one last chance to see her
Right before I moved
But I didn't end up going
I used some lame excuse

I hope that she's not scared
Lying there alone
I hope she hears her husband's voice
Telling her she's coming home

It's just Sleepy California
But I just hope they know
It's just Sleepy California
How much I really care
It's just Sleepy California
How I want the best for them
It's just Sleepy California
Even though I'm hardly there

Sunday, September 19, 2004

fire songs

i had a great weekend, having went to a friend's house and camped and made fires. i played frisbee some, ate some good food cooked over a fire, went to a hot air balloon nightglow (where they set them up and make them glow in the dark - my first experience of the kind, and it was cool) and saw a bunch of friends (and only one enemy). it was a great weekend, with time to relax sitting in a hammock, read some of my student's papers, and talk about a great number of things. the highlight was seeing kenny for the last time before he heads to costa rica (although seeing andy and birgitte was great too).

if i can, i'll recommend a few books (what i'd use to start my own "great books" program at a university rather than aristotle and shelley). let's start with the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky - it's the first that comes to mind for a reason, go read it. if you like it, check out a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by dave eggers. others include the little prince by antoine de saint-exupery, and over the weekend i read that the author has another book called wind, sand, and stars. i haven't read that one, nor his others listed as his bibliography. if you're interested in language, thinking, cognitive science, philosophy, or other things of that nature, i recommend george lakoff and mark johnson's metaphors we live by. if you're interested in music, read music, the brain, and ecstasy by robert jourdain. read ishmael by daniel quinn for an interesting look at human history. try a song of ice and fire by george r.r. martin if you're a fan of robert jordan's wheel of time series or tolkien's books (and you're not afraid to let main characters die). desert solitaire (or monkey wrench gang) are good books by edward abbey about the desert southwest, and the poisonwood bible by barbara kingsolver is a fantastic book. perhaps my favorite book of all time is hermann hesse's siddhartha although jack zipes' collection of hesse's fairy tales contains some awesome stories that i can read many times. i'll continue to give updates on good reading, but if you start with these, you're sure to find something you haven't read and should read. maybe i'll also try to give a better introduction to each, but i wanted there to be a place where they would all be mentioned together.

i'm going to get back to working on my cv/vitae/resume for a little bit, then grade some papers, but i might post again tonight to fill in a few good stories of some kind. for now i'll leave you with this.

when i was young (3-4 years old), i had a number of head injuries, mostly due to my stupidity and my older brothers undying care and awareness of my well-being. the first was when my oldest brother through a rock and hit my head. a while later, i stupidly walked behind them when they were playing "miners" with croquet mallets in the sandbox. the third came when i was standing on a rocking easy chair and my oldest brother threw a big pillow and knocked me into a coffee table corner. so those are my head injuries (i stayed relatively safe for a while then until high school and college soccer when i had a few concussion experiences, but nothing too serious - my brain should be okay).

Friday, September 17, 2004

it's a hit

If you haven't listened to Rilo Kiley, I recommend changing that state of affairs in your life. if you have, make sure you've listened to the new album (more adventurous) that they are now touring to promote. i've posted the lyrics to one of their songs (the title track, current single, and one they have a funny video for on their website) - it's great political commentary and rhetoric and poetics and whatever else.

past that, i made it through another week of school - a busy one, but i actually like the current schedule that i'm ascribing to. i'm happily exploring graduate school options for the next part of my life. i'm happy where i'm at, but i over-limited myself when i chose this particular program for two years, knowing full well that i could go somewhere else for my phd. maybe i should just write my master's thesis on rilo kiley lyrics.

past that, the music i'm listening to a lot right now includes death cab for cutie, the garden state soundtrack, sigur ros (my mainstay for the last five years), shins, wilco, modest mouse (all indie stuff my brother got me into listening to i guess - not that i care because i think we have a pretty mutual relationship on the music front over time - he has influenced my taste recently, but i think i probably influenced him a lot before).

i'm actually having a lot of fun writing these posts because i haven't told anyone about this website. i'm going to try to prolong telling them as long as possible, then make them catch up, slog through a number of days of my life in one chunk - see what they think. rather than people checking a website too often and having it not be updated (as seems to often be the case), i'll update it a lot and direct them to the updates only every once in a while.

when i'm doing something like this, i really do have a strong urge to tell others about it - maybe not to brag, not to do anything except let them know that i'm doing it. i don't tell lots of people, but it would be interesting to tell some people.

at any rate, i think that the cool thing about this kind of thing is that people will get to see how i write when i'm in a pseudo-audienced situation - when one writes primarily for oneself (like a journal), it's different from writing stuff for other people to read, and this is somewhere in between. i think that's what makes it different from other things i've done. it's the main reason why i'm doing it i suppose. that and the fact that i had a friend (or an amalgamation of friends) tell me i should do this. did i mention that it was in a dream (you could probably guess since i used the word amalgamation, but i might as well be clear).

so now i have one more way to change the world (i'm collecting ways in case you hadn't guessed). i'll talk more about that in the future. i'm going to bed now - it's been a long day. good, but long.

Rilo Kiley - It's A Hit
Any chimp can play human for a day
Use his opposable thumbs to iron his uniform
And run for office on election day
Fancy himself a real decision maker
And deploy more troops than salt shakers

But it's a jungle when war is made
And you'll panic and throw your own shit at the enemy
The camera pulls back to reveal your true identity
Look, it's a sheep in wolf's clothing
A smoking gun holding ape

Any asshole can open up a museum
Put all of the things he loves on display
So everyone could see them
The house, a car, a thoughtful wife
Ordinary moments in his ordinary life

But if she breaks a smile, she'll give you away
Cause no one wants to pay to see your happiness
No one wants to pay to see your day to day
And I'm not buying it either
But I'll try selling it anyway

Any idiot can play Greek for a day
And join a sorority or write a tragedy
And articulating all that pain
And maybe you'll get paid

But it's a sin when success complains
And your writers block, it don't mean shit
Just throw it against the wall and see what sticks
Gotta write a hit, I think this is it
It's a hit

And if it's not, then it's a holiday for hanging
Yeah it's a holiday for hanging
Yeah it's a holiday for hanging
Yeah it's a holiday for hanging
Yeah shoo-bop-shoo-bop my baby

Any fool can play executioner for a day
And say with fingers pointed in both directions
'He went thataway'
It's only a switch or syringe
Aww, exempt from eternal sins
But you still wear a cross
And you think you're gonna get in

Ah, but the pardons never come from up-stairs
They're always a moment too late
But it's entertainment
Keep the crowd on their toes
It's justice, we're safe
It's not a hit, it's a holiday
Shoo-bop-shoo-bop, my baby

It's a holiday for hanging, yeah
It's a holiday for hanging, yeah
It's a holiday for hanging, yeah
It's a holiday for hanging, yeah

I'm a holiday for hanging
I'm a holiday for hanging
I'm a holiday yeah
I'm a holiday for hanging
It's a holiday for hanging, yeah

Thursday, September 16, 2004

late nights and early mornings

i think that late nights should rarely be combined with early mornings. but i'm making a mistake of that sort tonight. i'll be fine of course, but i'll probably make my life a little bit difficult tomorrow sometime.

what's on my mind tonight? what i'm going to be teaching in class tomorrow. i have ideas, but nothing so far sounds incredibly fun or entertaining. i'll think of something - i do that.

past that, i'm thinking about the next part of my life - i probably spend too much time thinking about that and not enough on life in the present. but i try to be forward thinking and reflective about my life. it's a good thing in many ways.

the main problem is i want to do a lot of things, and i like a lot of things. and i am unwilling to accept that i cannot do certain things or am not good at certain things. what this means in a less abstract sense is that i plan to do more graduate school (so a phd), and i like environmental stuff, but i could do rhetoric more, philosophy, environmental studies (interdisciplinary), or ecology (science). there are a lot of things that go into exploring these options and will end up going into making the final decision - what i like most, job security/preference, ability to teach, what i would do in my job and my spare time, what i would have more difficulty doing, etc. but the good thing is that i am interested in things and am excited about life and jobs and futures and everything. that's the most important thing right now i think.

who knows - i can't really think any more - too many things on my mind and not enough will to clear them up - that's the task for tomorrow i guess
be at peace in true light

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Transatlanticism and Garden State

The song and movie that are most on my mind right now can really say a lot about where I am in life. Transatlanticism is the title track of Death Cab for Cutie's latest album. I'm going to their concert in October, and I'm quite excited. I went to Garden State last Saturday night, and it was quite an emotional rush for me. The main reason is that it's a good movie, and I highly recommend it. The more important reason deals more with me relating to the characters and situations in it. Using rhetorical language, I could identify with them (look into Kenneth Burke's Grammar of Motives and Rhetoric of Motives for more information). I think that the idea of identification is perhaps the most important thing to happen to rhetoric since the tradition started, but I promise to say more on this topic some time in the near future. For now, the movie and the song together reflect an important part of my life. The Atlantic means more to me today than it did two weeks ago. The combination of singing by Ben Gibbard (my current favorite singer), piano (with the right amount of presence), and guitar (simple but beautiful) makes the song amazing. It would be hard for anyone to put another song after it, but it's not even at the end of the album - the next song happens to be Passenger Seat, which was one of my favorite songs of last spring.

I think it's about time for me to go ride my bike through the wind and rain to work (it's currently only windy - about 30mph, but there is a big rain storm surrounding the area, and I expect that I'll be riding my bike home in the dark, in the rain, in the wind).

a new endeavor

This website, in true light ( ), is an experiment. i don't know where it will go, but i think that's fine. we'll see what all i put up here, but for now, a few ideas include music thoughts, movie thoughts, academic thoughts, politics thoughts, and personal thoughts. we'll start this week. i wish you all the best.