Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mini Rant: Overexposed Names Edition


Expectant parents: think ahead. Imagine the day you gaze lovingly upon the face of your newborn daughter, poised to call her by name for the first time. If that name is Brittany (in all its spellings) or Ashley, please, please, please, please, please, please reconsider.

Experts predict that the United States will exceed its Brittany-Ashley quota by the year 2010, approximately one year after the majority of American teachers' heads are predicted to explode over the confusion caused by 75% of all young women in the classroom being known by one of the two names.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nature Imitates Art

...or something like that. When I logged on just now, I was greeted by a graphic of Hurricane Dean, except in the instant I first saw it, I thought it was a painting by Van Gogh.



Friday, August 17, 2007

Foregone conclusion

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire with a cup of hot tea/chocolate and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance appeal to you? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and its eloquence, and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society; however, you can probably be overly-critical of works.
It's okay. I understand.

Drama Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

So when I saw this quiz at Shakesville, I took it myself, even though I knew the conclusion before I read the first question. Anyway, the questions hardly touch my nerdiness level. I mean, question #26, How many books have you read in your lifetime?, offers as its extreme answer 60 plus. What kind of book nerdishness does that signify? I probably own 600 plus. Never mind all the library books I borrowed and books I've given away. And those two degrees I have in literature? Not a single question about that.

I'm not a literature nerd. I'm a literature super-nerd. And what qualifies me as one more than anything is that I'm extremely aware of just how much I haven't read and probably can't get to in a single lifetime.

And as the ultimate proof of my literature nerdiness, I completed the incomplete sentence and corrected the grammar and punctuation errors in the narrative of the quiz results before I posted it. We won't be having any of that on MY blog.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Scribbles from the past

I found an old notebook, a small one, the kind I carry in my purse in case Something Needs to be Written Down.

Clues, such as an old Christmas shopping list that includes the name of my son's former fiancee, suggest that I started it about 3 years ago, then misplaced it for a while until I found it again last spring and used it to take notes from a lecture I attended.

It contains several lists of names, obviously students' names, but I don't remember most of these students. It sometimes distresses me how many of them simply flee my memory. In the early years I only taught a few classes at a time and over the years some students voluntarily came back to me for seconds, but a good estimate of the average number of students I've taught each year is 200. Nine years, 200 names a year -- probably I've forgotten 1600 of those 1800. This saddens me, because I tend to really like most of them.

I've found old to-do lists and notes from department meetings, and the thing that I actually wanted when I pulled out the notebook -- a folded-up handout from that spring lecture.

The oddest thing in the notebook, however, is this message to myself, in large letters, clearly intended to catch my attention:


I have no idea.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Hate When That Happens

I'm reading final papers, compiling final grades. Once that's done, I am finally free to CLEAN MY HOUSE! MOW MY LAWN! RECONNECT WITH MY FRIENDS! RECONNECT WITH MY FAMILY! GET BACK TO UNFINISHED PROJECTS! Etc.

So I took a break to have a snack and watch a little TV in my bedroom. (The living room TV has been disconnected for seven weeks; I was in mid-project when my summer semester began, and that's still the status of the project: mid.) The next thing I know, the poppies have overtaken me and I'm lying down. Ok. A half-hour snooze wouldn't hurt.

Four and a half hours later, I awaken.

Oh, this stinks.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cool news

I made two major changes to my electrical consumption during the same week, about 6 weeks ago. I changed most of my light bulbs to compact fluorescents (the remaining light fixtures get used either rarely or briefly). And Tall Son finally rendered operational the recycled central air conditioning unit that he salvaged for me last summer.

This time last year I was cooling by using two window a/c units and keeping my spare bedroom and office doors closed, so I was only cooling a part of my house.

To add to the equation, two weeks ago I had removed the tree in front of my house that provided shade during the afternoons, so I'm sure that the a/c now has to work even harder to keep me cool.

I’ve spent one very comfortable month: I keep the temp at about 75, even at night (I sleep poorly if I’m hot).

So today I got the electric bill, and I fully expected that upon opening that bill I’d have to turn the a/c up to 80 and start living in the dark.


The bill is for $74.69. For a full month. In Florida.

The recycled a/c is a Trane, but it’s 10 years old, so I wasn’t sure it would be all that efficient. I suppose it is.

My electric company offers interesting statistics on the bill: the KWH total and daily average and the same info from the same month one year earlier. Last summer, same month, with partial-home a/c and incandescent bulbs, I used a daily average KWH of 29. This summer, it’s 25.

I won’t really know the impact of the bulbs alone until a/c season is over and I can compare KWH consumption during the heating months to last year’s consumption.

But for!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Where did the mud go?

Yesterday I was on the phone with my daughter, who was in her backyard, and I overheard her Littlest, age 3, approach her and ask, "Where did the mud go?"

Apparently the day before his toy had been muddy, but now it wasn't.

“Here it is,” my daughter said. “It dried up. It’s dirt now. Mud is dirt mixed with water.”

“It is?” he asked incredulously. “Mud is dirt?” Littlest has a most appealing way of emphasizing his words when he’s expressing his amazement. Like Shirley Temple, only less precious.

At age three, one finds much to be amazed by.

Like mud, whose secret identity is dirt.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dear Netflix,

I know you’ve been worried about your movie. I’ve had it for over three weeks, and now you’re putting little notes on my queue, gently letting me know that it’s ok if something’s gone wrong with the disk; I can let you know without getting punished.

Well, Netflix, the disk is ok. I’ve just been really busy. You’ll see that other disks have come to and gone from my mailbox, but that’s because they’re episodic TV. I can fit in a 40 minute TV fix where I can’t manage a 120 minute flick.

And, oh, I don’t know. I think this disk was giving out vibes. I only vaguely knew what it was about anyway: general concept, big awards nominated and won. But I couldn’t get myself to actually put it in the DVD player.

Last night I did. Netflix, although it was tough for me to part with some films, such as Remains of the Day and Capote, you can have Adaptation back. I liked it and I hated it. I’m so confused.


It was, at first, stunningly – almost annoyingly – clever, so not-Hollywood. I even loved the revelation of “Susan Orlean’s” secret life. Because I was rather enjoying myself, I had such a sinking feeling when the movie decidedly went Hollywood. “Susan” decides to solve her problem by becoming a homicidal maniac? What?

On the other hand, the ending might be part of the looping-around metatextual nature of the film. After all, everything changed immediately after Charlie had his one-on-one with Robert McKee, the motivational hack screenwriting coach. So, upon McKee’s advice, Charlie – the fictional and the real one – does precisely what earlier he said he wouldn’t: “I just don’t want to ruin it by making it a Hollywood thing.”

I either get it: Kaufman’s making an ironic statement about the inability to escape the Hollywood ending (and didn't Altman already cover that in The Player?).

Or I don’t get it.

Anyway, Netflix, stop worrying. The disk is in the mail.