Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

If you are still undecided, it is not too late to write me in on Tuesday; look at how much fun Aubergine House would become!

For the FFM, as requested, tomorrow is the night to turn your clocks back. This is the longest span of time we have gone between springing ahead and falling back- ever-- since we started this business.

Halloween for me is more than a day to dress like a kook, wear my slinky black leather dress for the one day a year it's warranted, and drink cheap beer. It is also a day in which I light candles and remember important people in my life who are no longer here. I did not know Tony HIllerman personally, but boy will I miss his books. He had an insight into cultures that was easy, and a manner that was humble. In memoriam, today.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarkozy voodoo dolls become bestsellers

Just in time for Halloween!

Sarkozy lost his lawsuit to get the doll off the market:

Hey, what about getting the economy rolling again?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Another Day at Work

Assassination Plot Dusrupted

"Two young men who are believers in 'white power' were arrested in what federal officials described as a plan to assassinate Senator Barack Obama and kill black children at a school."


Sarcastic comment: "Yeah, my skin color is better than yours."

Serious reply: "Well, they aren't the only ones."

Wrong answer. True; skinheads aren't the only people out there with screwed up priorities and malicious intentions, but that's not the point. There are fewer ways to damn oneself, in my book, than via chosen ignorance and passing the buck to absolve a guilty party of responsibility.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gil Bates is Dead

If you can't hack the language, just the last 5 seconds should do.

Banality of Evil

In line with my last couple posts, this morning I finished reading an article titled "Blueberries, Accordions, and Auschwitz" by Jennifer L. Geddes in the Fall 2008 issue of IASC publication Culture, in which the author discusses Hannah Arendt's reference to the "banality of evil" in her 1963 coverage of the trial of Adolph Eichmann for Nazi war crimes during WWII. Geddes pointed out that Arendt's words have been misunderstood and maligned over the years to suggest that "evil" deeds are banal, or trivial, commonplace, trite, when in fact the person committing such acts was to whom the descriptor was being applied.

Arendt found Eichmann himself a "fool," according to Geddes; "she stated in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, a 'dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them.'" (Geddes page 3)

Geddes asserts, far more prettily than I have in my past two posts, but perfectly getting across what I've wanted to say (and that's why she has the fellowship and I don't, right?), "Arendt came to the striking conclusion that thoughtlessness- that is the failure to think reflectively about the world around us, our actions, and their possible consequences- can be a moral failing of the highest order."

Enough said on that.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nights Without Melatonin

Among the many topics that entered my mind, some to stick around for quite a bit of thought, last night while I wasn't sleeping, were soil project ideas and who might be good connections for problems that maybe would allow playing around with landscape architecture; the sophisticated yet primal beauty of Elphaba's death throes in the book "Wicked," by Gregory McGuire; and, most importantly, that I ought to clarify my most recent blog entry before Something Happens.

I was really mad the other day. It's easy to see how people can get passionate enough about their own beliefs and need for responsibility over their own lives to wish or bring ill upon those who threaten those beliefs and that need. I mean, I was really mad. But, I am also a person who believes in some amount of karmic something out there and generally ascribes to the Golden Rule, so I want to clarify that I do not really hope that everyone who believes it is an important political and moral issue to address gay marriage in our federal government so that God will take care of our country loses his or her job and every penny he or she has. That was more a figurative way of reacting to the threat of someone else trying to drive my life with his (what I consider misconstrued and nonuniversal) values and my general disillusionment with a large portion of the American public and their willingness to succumb to vague political or religious rhetoric or doctrine without full consideration of what that means.

For example, I imagine, though I could actually be wrong about this, that many people who believe the President of the USA should push for a legal nationwide ban on gay marriage also believe that terrorism by Muslim extremists at our doorstep is an imminent danger and that we are a freedom-loving equal-opportunity democracy that should not be threatened by Those People. Yet, as my friend from Turkmenistan pointed out at lunch last weekend, in her Muslim nation there was enough of a holdover from Soviet government when Turkmenistan became independent of Soviet rule, that women there are still paid the same as men for doing the same job. Period. That doesn't necessarily happen here in this Land of Opportunity; there is still a wage gap in the US of A.

But crap; I've blown my self-imposed moratorium on talking politics until after November 4. Dang!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh, My God?

Before I get started, check out this sweet colorful street art from Apex in San Francisco, provided by the ever-reliable Fatcap at

I'm slow getting around to this today. Scutabaga, my laptop by Acer, with Windows Vista, has completely stopped working. I have owned it for four months and have returned it to the company for repairs twice. I have been informed in messages on the computer over the past couple days that there is a software and a hardware problem.

On to today's real problem, the one that makes me want to do more than scream, that makes me want to shake people by the collars and punch them in the head with my jacknife (and I consider myself pretty much a pacifist who doesn't like conflict, particularly): Listening to Morning Edition on NPR this morning, I heard a man say that he doesn't care if the country goes broke, that what is important to him in voting is the issue of gay marriage; that if this country pays attention to morals, then God will take care of us.

K, people, I am going to break it down for you here, the Ten Commandments, the moral imperatives purportedly handed to Moses by that God guy of whom this man spoke:

1. I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder. (The Roman Catholic Church, I have read, uses the word "kill", instead of "murder.")
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal. (Apparently some Jewish sources reference kidnapping here.)
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; ou shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

See on this list where thou shalt not marry a person of the same gender? Me neither. I don't know where this man got his glasses. Perhaps the same place as those fancy ones Sarah Palin wears are sold.

See on this list where thou shalt not steal or covet thy neighbor's house? Me too. Apparently plenty of other people forgot those morals. I hope that man who spoke on the radio this morning, and everybody who holds the same morals he does, lose every single job and every single penny they have so that they will have something real to worry about instead of shoving their proposed Godly morals down my throat, which is really sore right now as it is, from screaming about thieves like Bill Gates, the fraudulent Big Brother of the software industry who holds us all under his command while he goes off on his self-righteous jihad against the ravaging diseases in Africa. Chicaner.
And I won't even get started on the separation of church and state thing. I have to go to work. Thank the Big Guy Upstairs I still have a job for now. Whew. And imagine Him taking care of a woman who thinks anyone should be able to marry anyone he or she loves enough to commit to at that sacred a level, regardless of gender!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Double-Sided Sticky Tape

So, this year if you happen to send Christmas presents to disadvantaged kids in foreign lands- you know, the ones who don't have shoes or running water or electricity, and every single one of them peers at his or her pitiful world through big wide puppy-dog eyes waiting for an American to save the day- you can feel like you're doing an extra helpful favor:

Tape measure: X-rays detected from Scotch tape

"...Escobar, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports the work with UCLA colleagues in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

"He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get. After all, you could peel tape or do something similar in such machines with just human power, like cranking."

Don't get me wrong. There are disadvantaged kids in foreign lands, and even in our Own Land. And kids everywhere shouldn't get Christmas presents. They should! Even if the PC Police are out again this year trying to put a moratorium on the use of the word "Christmas" in public, and to apply a hefty fine and perhaps a little jail time on those who don't comply. Presents are fun. Kids should have fun. Grownups, too. Presents for everyone, no matter what our eyes look like or where we live or whether we have shoes to wear or wear them if we have them.

"But," you may ask, "is it SAFE to use Scotch tape? Have I been irradiating myself all these years with undue amounts of x-radiation? Will I die of cancer?" Perhaps you will. Who knows? But not caused by contact with Scotch tape. If that were the case, my Aunt Joan would have shriveled up and gone long ago, and she is still kicking. And I would be bedridden by now, or using up the remainder of my credit card balances on sweet trips to Scotland and Barcelona if I could walk, just before I go.

"Escobar noted that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation.

"'If you're going to peel tape in a vacuum, you should be extra careful,"'he said. But 'I will continue to use Scotch tape during my daily life, and I think it's safe to do it in your office. No guarantees.'"

OK, so no guarantees on the tape, but no guarantees on anything in life, right? And come to think of it, daily life in a vacuum is a reality for some of us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ah, Democracy

As though we weren't expecting something, especially with all the crap going on about the myriad ways Republicans are trying to keep people's voices from being heard- again- and how Acorn needs to beef up the recruiting process so Mickey Mouse doesn't show up at the polls multiple times on November 4.

"High Turnout and Passions May Defeat Voting System." (How sad is that?)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mmm, Donuts

Ode to Michael Heffernan's

I'm going to go into my bedroom and walk around a little,
because it's time to crawl into bed and read,
after a day where the sun dropped
behind the earth. There isn't much here
in the bedroom of mine, except bedclothes and photos and books,
so why should I go investigate the carpeted floor
for evidence of sweet snacks,
the feeder of the tummy? I'm in here,
and off on a little walk to my bed,
but first I'd like to tell you I found
your box of Entenmann's donuts on the floor.
Quite candidly, I'm not sure what to do with them.
It is a variety pack, with three different donuts left,
the sugar toppings all sitting together
on top of yellow cakey sweetness in the box.
I am not so good when it comes to eating sweets
as others, like you, but I could reach in the box and pull out
a donut from those you left.
They came from Albertson's on October 18. I'd say,
except no one else is around and stuffed animals don't eat donuts,
Here are a couple donuts.
I know you will like them better than I would,
especially the one covered with chocolate wax,
since I can't fathom why anyone would eat that crap.
Or you can keep them
and give them to another good donut lover some day.
I'm sure the preservatives will keep them for a while.

When I e-mailed Mr. Heffernan at University of Arkansas, to ask him if he would mind my putting a blatant semi-rip-off of his own poem on my blog, he said I honor him with this poem. But, more important, he said, "What matters is the way these words of ours can be gifts across many miles and years, as we poems come to people we do not know." Whether spoken or written, poem or ugly epithet, words carry power to make people feel, even if we don't know our audience personally. Once we've spoken, there is a personal connection.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank God, Allah, Yahweh, the Big Guy Upstairs

This morning I woke to the news that a religious outcry has sparked the recall- or at least a hold-up in release- of the new and much-awaited (not by myself- I don't even own a PlayStation- but throngs of people out there who need a fix) Sony video game LittleBigPlanet.

"What are the damned fundamentalist Christians up to now?" I wondered. (You know a good number are damned; maybe they'll go to some sweet heaven someday where they'll sit on puffy clouds in neverending sunny 70 degree temps, and strum harps in perfect harmony, even if they've never had musical training before, aside from the experience of singing in church on Sundays, but admit it: those folks are pretty much living in hell on earth today when they refuse to enjoy all that's afforded in this life.) But it wasn't them this time.

LBP is a game of several levels of play, with themes based on various real-world-like locations (ie. deserts, city streets, the arctic) and in which players can band together and share their experience creating a global community. Doesn't sound too bad, right? So far no blasphemous utterances or decapitation of people of other colors or creeds or anything like that. Never having played the game, I can't attest to whether these are possibilities in the game world. (Players can slap each other, though; that's a fact.)

So, why was release of LBP delayed?

"Sony pulls its most celebrated title of the year four days before the store date over musical track containing 'potentially offensive' lines from the Qu'ran."---

"The 'social platforming' game is already gathering rave reviews, but it hasn't proven popular with one Muslim group, which issued a complaint to the game's publisher Sony concerning one background music track. Performed by award-winning Malian musician Toumani Diabate, the song quotes two verses from the Qur'an. Many Muslims consider the mixing of music and scripture to be deeply offensive."---Mike Smith for Yahoo!

There you have it: some people might be offended by a bit of the content in a video game, so the company is holding off relesase until the possibly repugnant song can be expunged. The game is packaged and ready to go. But, in the long run, this decision is probably good for the company. Now all those people who are complaining will, I'm sure, go buy it for themselves and add to the profit Sony makes. (Grab yours as soon as it finally gets here- October 27?)
The best part of the whole situation? That people really do respond quickly and decisively to even a few squeaky wheels, whether or not they are constituents. That's progress in the Free World.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breaking Campaign News!

Everyone, I woke up this morning and made a major decision: to suspend my campaign for President of the United States of America for election year 2008, to endorse Barack Obama, and to focus my attention on a new and pressing campaign: against Big Brother Bill Gates. (But, if you wish, you may still VOTE FOR ME on November 4.)

After many long conversations with some pretty cool people at Acer (and one guy yesterday who- I'm sorry, peeps, but I could not understand him with that accent- in the process of transferring me to the "main office," cut me off), and two trips for Scutabaga to the clinic in Texas, it has become glaringly apparent that the malfunctioning laptop with which I am unable to connect to the wireless service on campus where I work and soon will be enrolled again in school is not the fault of Acer, but entirely of Microsoft. I used to be able to get service at the prep station. Then, one night at 3AM, during a routine updating, the lights on my computer flashed on where it sat on the table, waking me from sleep in the bedroom. Something had happened to a wireless driver, and since then, I have not been able to get a wireless connection with the university.

During one call to Acer, I was referred to the Microsoft website to put Scutabaga through a 7-step program to make Vista compatible with wireless networks I could not access, but I found that the last file in step 2 was not present in my software. When I chatted this to the Microsoft employee with whom I was dealing, I was told that he couldn't help me, to return to Acer; they were the culprit. (People, does that make sense to you, that the maker of the software would refer me to the maker of the hardware for a problem with the software they made? Do these people think we are all stoopid?)

The hardware is working; the wireless card is working. Windows Vista is a piece of crap which I have not heard one person say he or she likes. It is full of holes, and Bill Gates does not care. He will fill you all with visions of his philanthropical ways, out there in the world attempting to thwart evil diseases in Africa, for instance, but in the meantime, his software empire has us all crushed under his not-so-microSoft thumb.

Do not be fooled by this man! He monopolizes the PC industry with savage and underhanded tricks. Wow, that sounds pretty serious, doesn't it? Well, I am serious. You want specifics? I have to take a shower and go to work now, but don't you worry: I am on this and will keep plugging away.

The only way I can see that Bill Gates can redeem himself in my eyes is to provide me with a scholarship to return to school in January as an underrepresented (female) student in the sciences, in a program which I intend to use to become educated so that I can make some kind of a difference out there restoring lands that have been ravaged by the extractive industries. Now, how's that for doing some good? Bill, are you listening? It'll hardly cost you a dime, compared with all the cash you've racked up over the years with us as your technologically captive high-paying audience. I think we can strike a sweet deal that will benefit this world and the American people. Whattaya think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lessons in Secession

Still not talking about politics. This is history:
(But hooray! Tonight is the last Presidential Candidate Debate!)
October 14, 2008 - 2:40 PM
We all know about the Confederate states leaving the Union. But that was far from the only secessionist movement in American history. Here are some rebellious regions you won’t find in too many history books.

1. The Kingdom of Beaver Island
Beaver Island, a small island in Lake Michigan, became the home of Mormon leader James Strang and his followers—called Strangites—in 1848. Two years later, Strang declared himself king of the church—complete with crown, scepter, robe, and a harem of 15 wives. However, most of the island’s inhabitants were his followers, so he essentially became King of Beaver Island. The power got to his head, and he began forcing his rule onto the non-believers, causing some violence between the two factions. In 1856, the USS Michigan pulled into the harbor and invited Strang aboard. As he was walking towards the ship, he was shot in the back by disgruntled followers, who then ran up the gangplank and escaped. Adding to the mysterious circumstances, the assassins were set ashore on nearby Mackinac Island and never charged for their crime. Shortly after the assassination, angry mobs from surrounding islands eventually forced the Strangites from their homes, thus ending the short-lived Kingdom of Beaver Island.

2. The State of Superior
Concern over a perceived lack of interest from the Michigan state government, the people of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.), affectionately known as “Yoopers,” have been trying to secede and form the State of Superior since as far back as 1897. The movement gained momentum after 1957 when a bridge connecting the U.P. region to Lower Michigan made it easier for southern “Trolls” (people who live “below the bridge”) and Yoopers to mingle. This animosity continued into the mid-1980s, when 20,000 signatures were collected and submitted to the state for a secession request. However, the number was shy of the 36,000 required, and the request subsequently denied. The secessionist drive lives on today, as numerous grassroots organizations are trying to muster support for another official attempt at an independent U.P. Until that day comes, though, the Yoopers and Trolls will just have to try to get along.

3. The Great Republic of Rough and Ready
Rough and Ready, California, was a mining town founded in 1849 by the Rough and Ready Company of Wisconsin. As the town’s population rapidly exploded to 3,000, lawlessness was on the rise—and the U.S. government was not much help squelching the rampant crime. Additionally, a new federal tax on mining operations added fuel to the region’s civil unrest. Seeing little support from Washington, on April 7, 1850, the townspeople voted to secede from the Union.
But just three months later, as the Fourth of July approached, The Great Republic of Rough and Ready wanted to have a celebration (which seems odd considering they were no longer, technically, Americans). When nearby Nevada City wouldn’t sell liquor to “foreign miners,” it was decided that maybe America wasn’t so bad after all. The townspeople voted themselves back into the Union on the very same day and the party went off as planned.

4. The Conch Republic
In the early-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the Florida Keys in an effort to stop illegal drugs and immigrants. The time to check everyone’s identification at the checkpoint resulted in a 20-mile traffic jam that turned tourists away, thus damaging the economy in the Keys. After numerous legal attempts to have the checkpoint removed, on April 23, 1982, Key West mayor Dennis Wardlow declared the Florida Keys were seceding from the Union.
Moments later, now-Prime Minister Wardlow symbolically declared war on the U.S. by breaking a stale piece of Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform. One minute later, Wardlow turned to the Admiral in charge of the U.S. Naval Base at Key West and surrendered, thus ending the Conch Republic’s Civil Rebellion. He then immediately asked for $1 billion in federal aid to help rebuild his war-torn nation’s economy. While officially the Republic only existed for one minute, the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the rebellion lives on. Today you can buy Conch Republic citizen and diplomatic passports (both of which have been used for international travel, though they are not intended to be official documents) and even an official flag of the republic (complete with the awesome motto, “We seceded where others failed”). The community has even minted a series of limited edition one-conch dollar coins that can be used as legal tender while in the Keys.

5. The State of Absaroka
Feeling that the Democratic southern half of Wyoming was not working in conjunction with the rest of the state, a secessionist movement was launched by northern Republicans in 1939 to create a new state that would better serve its more conservative population. This state, Absaroka—so named after the nearby mountain range—was to be made up of northern Wyoming, southeast Montana, and the western region of South Dakota. While the secessionist movement was never very large or pursued through legal channels, that didn’t stop A. R. Swickard, the street commissioner of Sheridan, WY, from appointing himself governor of the “state.”
The movement went so far as to press Absaroka license plates and crown a Miss Absaroka beauty queen. Absaroka could even brag about a visit from a foreign dignitary, King Haakon VII of Norway (though he was officially visiting Wyoming and just happened to be in Absaroka).
Despite all of the hoopla, the state never came to be, and now, so many years later, the intent of the secessionist movement is in question. Some believe there was a genuine attempt to create a new state, while others say it was just a fun way for cowboys to distract themselves during tough economic times.

6. The State of Jefferson
Northern California and southern Oregon have been trying to merge since 1852. The attempts have been met with mixed results, though the “State of Jefferson” movement of 1941 came closest to making it happen. The region felt it was being ignored by their respective state legislatures, so in response the people created the “State of Jefferson Citizen’s Committee” to explore the possibilities of secession. The group began stopping cars on Highway 99 to hand out the state’s “Proclamation of Independence,” a pamphlet outlining the grievances they held and the solutions they proposed. To help rally their cause, they developed a state flag made up of a gold miner’s pan with two black X’s inside, representing the double-cross they felt the Oregon and California state governments had pulled.
On December 4, 1941, Judge John Childs was elected governor of Jefferson in the state’s temporary capital of Yreka, CA. The event was filmed by numerous newsreel companies who were set to air the footage during the week of December 8th. History had other plans, as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the day before the big premiere. Driven by a sense of national obligation, the Jefferson secession was put aside and never really regained momentum. While the official movement might have died out, the residents of this region still hold the concept in their hearts, with many identifying themselves even today as the population of the great state of Jefferson.

7. The McDonald Territory
Noel, Missouri, located in McDonald County in the far southwest corner of the Show Me State, has been a popular tourist destination for many years. Therefore, when the Missouri State Highway Commission left Noel off their annual “Family Vacationland” map in 1961, the region was not happy pleased. To display their dissatisfaction, McDonald County drew up papers of secession and presented them to the state legislature, declaring itself the independent McDonald Territory. The county went so far as to elect officials, form a territorial militia, and even printed up visas that were issued to visitors so they could travel throughout the territory.
Perhaps the most lasting impression were the thousands of McDonald Territory stamps that were printed and sold throughout the area. While most agree that the secession was done purely for publicity, the state of Missouri wasn’t necessarily happy about the type of publicity it was garnering. So in order to end this mock rebellion, the state declared that state employee retirement pension payments would be suspended for McDonald County, all current state employees would be fired, and all state funding would be withheld. Needless to say, McDonald Territory surrendered and returned to being simply McDonald County, Missouri, once again.
And here’s one more secessionist movement recently covered here on the _floss:

8. Alaska
For decades, a well-organized separatist movement has campaigned to turn America’s largest state into its own nation. The bitterness dates back to 1958, when Alaska’s citizens were given a simple yes-or-no vote on statehood. Many Alaskans felt they were denied more options on the issue, prompting a land developer named Joe Vogler to organize a re-vote that would offer Alaskans four possibilities—remain a territory, become a state, take commonwealth status, or become a separate nation.
Using the vote as his platform, Vogler ran for governor in 1974—and soon made a habit of it. With colorful slogans such as, “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions,” Vogler spearheaded the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), and his campaign has twice topped 5 percent of the vote. More surprisingly, former U.S. interior secretary Wally Hickel got elected governor on the AIP ticket in 1990. Unfortunately for the party, Hickel only ran on the ticket because he lost the Republican primary. Never a supporter of the plebiscite idea, Hickel left the AIP and rejoined the Republicans in 1994.Today, the AIP continues to draw about 4 percent of voters statewide. And in 2006, Alaska took part in the first-ever North American Secessionist Convention, joining other groups from Vermont, Hawaii, and the South. As for Vogler, he was murdered in 1993—reportedly the result of an argument over a business deal. On a brighter note, honoring his wish to never be buried in U.S. soil, Vogler was laid to rest in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
–Jeff Fleischer (From ‘9 Modern-Day Independence Movements’)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where's the Money Going?

I've decided to return to school- again. Really, since Perpetual Student is my dream job, it's sort of the best thing I can do for myself, except that no one is paying me to do it- yet.

Last week I had an appointment scheduled with a former prof who is interested in advising me about the Reclamation and Restoration Ecology Certificate Program here at the University of Wyoming. I went online to do some research so I could be pretty well prepared for this appointment and had difficulty accessing some department webpages so that I could get to course listings that would be helpful to know, as they are part of the program options. So, I took a little walk from the Museum, where I was working, over to the Graduate School to request a hard copy of the Graduate School Bulletin.

I walked into the tiny office, and the woman at the reception desk looked at me as though I maybe shouldn't be there, and why on earth was I standing in front of her? I asked, "Do you have a copy of the Graduate School Bulletin I could have, since I am considering returning to school, or could you tell me where I might get one?"

"We don't have them," she answered. "You can't get one anywhere. We don't publish it anymore. You have to go online."

I lost my patience; I had been online, and that had not helped me. (Just to add a little fire to my story here, I have been online again this evening trying to do the same sort of research and again have been thwarted.) So, I told the woman the fact that the bulletin is not available except online is simply ludicrous and unacceptable, that I for one was not able to access the information I needed to plan properly for an appointment with my advisor, and someone needed to know this.

Now, two things here:

1) In the role of "therapeutic educator" that I have taken for many years in the professional world and will not again, as I have decided to make a Big Career Change with this Going Back to School Thing- again- I learned long ago and practiced wisely the mantra that one does not tell people what they "need" when "need" is not really the correct term. I know that no one "needs" to know that I am pissed to think that not only can I not access a simple book with pages all there that I can flip through and mark and rely on to not go away unless I rip them out, but that I have a big problem with our ultra-reliance on internet technology for all our "needs" these days, when some people who would like to go to graduate school may have limited access to computers at all, and particularly the internet (yeah, it's true!) so may be particularly pained and disadvantaged by the fact that the Graduate Bulletin is not available except for online. However, sometimes a girl gets mad and has to make a point.

2) You ought to know that there is all sorts of construction going on all over the University of Wyoming campus to make newer, bigger, facilities and grounds. But dare I say "better?" Because I don't believe it yet.

You see, campuses across the country are increasingly relying on online technology for course selection and registration as one method of cutting costs. However, tuition continues to rise, including at UWYo, and college costs in general increase at a rate greater than the cost of living annually. And are students, or prospective students, being served by this? It seems not at all.

Coming up, The Chronicle of Higher Education will feature a series of articles devoted to the question of why college costs are so high anymore. I will scour these articles in sincere hopes that there are actually some answers, and not just empty political rhetoric, to assuage my indignation. Because who really likes walking around all mad at the injustice of this kind of crap most of the time? Bleah!

p.s. The photo here is of the Classroom Building, which used to be pretty unique in its circular designed, but which now, all renovated, looks like a boring square with the cool old part just barely hanging in there. The classrooms are definitely in better shape, but speaking of shape, whatever happened to creative design? Progress, baby.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Villa Rides?

Last Sunday the FFM and I endured the 1968 film "Villa Rides," starring Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum and Charles Bronson. A little Ambrose Bierce might have spiced it up?

From 'Mental Floss': 5 Bodies Nobody Ever Found

Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?)
He was wounded during the Civil War, drank with fellow journalists Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, and kept a human skull on his desk. Bierce was also a devilishly fine writer who lampooned and skewered just about everyone in the American public eye during the last half of the 19th century. One thing he wasn’t, however, was found.In late 1913, Bierce went to Mexico to cover the country’s revolution. What happened to him when he got there is a mystery. Theories include: he was killed at the Battle of Ojinaga; he was executed by the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa; he shot himself at the Grand Canyon. Any of those ends would have doubtless suited Bierce. Death by bullet, he wrote before leaving for Mexico, “beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Read this:

Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out "Crowd Control"
By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted October 8, 2008.

I want to nail Bush for his own brand of insurrection ("an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government"- Merriam-Webster), but I'm done talking politics for a while, at least until after November 4. This time, really.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

30-Second Sarah

Nukyoolar Take II

We're So Stoopid!

Why didn't we, The People, combine our resources and go on a sweet retreat to an expensive California spa, instead of giving our money- or our progeny's future debt- to AIG so they could send a select few off to get pedicures instead? Duh!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

Today on Talk of the Nation, big news was that the Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded this week, not to an American most likely, especially since one judge on the committee just said that American authors are too "insular and ignorant," even though both Americans interviewed on TOTN and a caller agreed that Philip Roth should get the prize, one saying he's a shoo-in.

"Insular and ignorant?" Isn't the purpose of writers often to reflect culture? So what if our public radio stations tell the same news and features stories repeatedly all day, about American people doing American things in America? (Or occasionally in places like Iraq or Pakistan.) While the BBC tells news and features stories about America, too, but also Britain, and France, and other EU countries, and Somalia, and Uganda, and China and other places around the world. We have National Public Radio, not the BBC, World Service.

Anyway, one of the Americans being interviewed reminded Lynn Neary that there are other people in the world who have also not received the Nobel Prize, like James Joyce. Not American. But a friend of mine reminded me on International Talk Like a Pirate Day of another interesting fact about the man, aside from that he was a tremendous writer who gets way more crap than he should while other writers like Virginia Woolf and William Burroughs, who also employed stream of consciousness in their work, go essentially free: He also wore an eye patch, not as an affectation, but to rest his left eye and attempt to save his sight, though he was almost blind in that eye.

Oh, and William Faulkner, too.

Easy Like Monday Morning

It's pretty easy to sit at the table drinking coffee while morning sun finally tops the roofs and shines through the baring branches of trees outside, wavering in a breeze, and causes the frost to sparkle on the leaves that are browning on the ground, and to think of possibilities, to actually say, "This town has encouraged my awesome powers of resourcefulness like no other," rather than something far more negative. Even Wacky World has potential on a day like this.

That's either profoundly optimistic and forward-thinking and likely to get results- or crazy as anything I've thought in a long time and potentially self-defeating.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nukyoolar Meltdown

OK, people, obviously, Sarah Palin, still does not know what the Vice President's job is, and I have my doubts about whether or not John McCain even knows.

And I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty sure I cannot take four more years of one of our top two executive leaders mispronouncing "nuclear."

That's all I have time, or the stomach, for, right now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Get a Job- With a Wooden Arrow Company

I woke up this morning thinking about student loans. Dave was talking yesterday at work (we have jobs- for now) about how people who were in high school with him years ago and went to work in factories afterward are now going to college. I asked him how many of those people were going to school now because they have lost their jobs and think postsecondary education will not only allow them a possible new career path, but something to do while waiting for jobs to become available in the area where he grew up.

In this country we hear how important a college education is for getting a "good job" that "pays well" and "contributes to the global economy." Yet, postsecondary education in this country has become progressively more expensive, relative to the cost of living, and financial assistance has become less available, over the past several years. Kids are told that if they take out student loans and graduate with degrees, they will be able to find jobs so they can pay those loans back. But that isn't necessarily the case. And furthermore, there is evidence all over the place that there are job options that pay better than those associated with college degrees. Granted, there are figures that will show you that for the most part, someone who has higher than a high school education makes more money than someone who did not pursue college, but in these days people have limited choices and have to make them judiciously. And with student loan debt looming over people's heads down the road, and increasing restrictions on even that kind of money for school...

Suze Orman on that money show that made me want to hurl throwing stars at those experts to see if they could get out of that mess, was handing out tips to regular people about how to make sure this financial crisis affects them as little as possible, and how to avoid being crushed by the system down the road. She reminded college students that should you encounter difficult financial times, your student loan debt will not be forgiven, or struck from the books. You will always be responsible for it, until you have paid it off. That's right. You can get a deferment- with interest if the loan is not subsidized- should you return to school, and you can get a forbearance if the straits are rough enough for your lender to deem you worthy of a break for a while, but your tax refund will be taken away- if you have a job and get one- for the purpose of working toward satisfying your debt if you skip out on payments. The government will not come to your assistance if you suddenly find yourself unable to pay. So make sure you pay that student loan debt off right away- with those big fat paychecks you get from that sweet sweet job you land as soon as you graduate.

I tell you, I woke up thinking this stuff and got so mad I wished I could burst into flames like Selma Blair gets to do in the Hellboy films.
Finally, someone please tell me how this is necessary in the "Economic Rescue Plan:"
"Popular with lawmakers, the provisions include a research tax credit worth about $8.3 billion a year for companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Harley-Davidson Inc., and subsidies for the overseas financial services earnings of U.S.-based multinational corporations such as General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc."
Well, at least it provides money for Microsoft to work on finally getting Vista right so maybe the third time I have to send Scutabaga back to Texas for repairs, will be the last time. I'll need it for job seeking.
With all these extenders hanging off the bill the Senate just passed, my bet is on the tourniquet Judd Gregg called for applying to stabilize the problem being the only medical attention it will receive. Then the doctors and nurses will file out of the ER, wash their hands, and go have a drink.