Sunday, January 28, 2007

just a blog before I go

My pal Jim ("The Most Optimistic Man in America," which might be a trademark owned by a large conglomerate, but he doesn't care) Williams used to pun on the word "blog" in the titles of his entries, so this title is sort of an homage.

It's also true: we're bugging out for several days. More properly, we're being bugged out, because the mgmt wants to tent about a dozen units and gas them for termites. I suppose they have the right to do so, but insisting that we wear those armbands is, in my opinion, going too far.

In any event, blogging will be a very low priority during this period. Chances are, I won't have net access where we're staying, and hanging around on campus to post a blog entry seems awfully silly.

We were gonna hafta stay in the Best Western Dank Inn here in Turlock. This had been the only hotel anywhere near the university until just this past year, and rumor has it that the accomodations have in fact driven away candidates for tenure-track positions. But luckily a campus pal, Susan, offered us a place, for which we are highly grateful.

Lauren sings in the Motown Symphony Chorus concert this afternoon; then the bugging out begins.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

the state of our onion is strong

After the President's state of the union (approximately) speech, I made dinner: sauteed scallops, and shrimp with lots of garlic and some saffron served over linguine, with salad. I forgot the bread, but oh well. I did decide that while making the salad I should chop up green onions. While chopping I cut a chunk out of the nail on my left index finger, down to the flesh underneath. That's one tough onion.

I'm less sure about the US, though, after hearing the state of the union (in a manner of speaking). I don't recall Bush saying the state of the union (that thing) was strong, which is the traditional statement Presidents make. He didn't say it was weak, either. Should we infer that it's sorta fair-to-middlin'? Or moderately neato, as George Carlin put it? Hunky-dory? Okey-dokey? Blah? What? Damn it, man, speak up!

Actually, I didn't yell that at the TV. No, because we were watching the NHL All-Stars Superskills Competition (TM, in fact), which is far less exciting than you might expect, although Alexander Ovechkin just about fell on his face. I may have yelled a few things at that, or at the President. Who can tell?

Monday, January 22, 2007

yeesh! finally I'm more or less in one piece

After I was sick, I was sick again. Then I was in the middle of restructuring my entire Professional Ethics class, which is good work, but lots of work. So I haven't been blogging.

It's good, every once in a while, to take a course you've been teaching for a while and throw out everything you've used in the class. I suppose. You know, maybe it isn't such a good idea.

Anyway, I was having a blast yesterday preparing the materials on autonomy, its limitations and conditions, and how to respect autonomy understood that way. The articles were fascinating to me: depths of discussion of respect for client autonomy and competing values in social work, nursing, public policy regarding drug-using pregnant women, plus narrative identity, Rawlsian veils of ignorance, existential advocacy - a freakin' cornucopia o' concepts. Delicious!

It was about then that the realization hit me that, as always, my enthusiasm for these ideas would be much greater than my students'. This is natural, I guess. They don't have the context I have to see how challenging these ideas are to some predominant and rather naive conceptualizations of professional responsibility for client autonomy. I tried to share that today, but I don't think I gave it enough emphasis to show the contrast, and how much this set of essays opens these issues.

This is always a problem teaching any philosophy class. It's endemic to teaching philosophy that, on the fly, it's very difficult to convey to students how important it is that an idea or a way of life can be (in an intellectual sense) turned entirely upside down. Truly: from the assumption that clients are autonomous because they can choose from among options presented by professionals, we got to the analysis of the way conditions of need or lack undermine client autonomy. We moved from informed consent to autonomy as the self-direction implied in narrative identities deeply underlying public behavior and statements. I mean to say, whoa.

Then again, maybe some of them just didn't read the stuff because their midterms were due today. That happens, too. We'll see: Wednesday we'll be discussing assertions of the right to assisted dying. If that ain't fun, then maybe I just don't know what fun is!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

beach impeach project in San Francisco today

It was chilly out today, so about 1200 people snuggled up and incidentally spelled out IMPEACH!

Yeah, kinda silly, but sometimes the point of a protest action is to have a massive lie-in on the beach, complete, I couldn't help but notice, with 12-string guitars (I think that's a Fender, poor soul).

Also: saw Night at the Museum today, and it was a lot of fun. Ben was on a tight enough leash most of the time, which always helps. Good special effects, underdone, sorta warm-rare, if you dig that.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

other news

I bought a bass yesterday, during our trip up to Modesto to pay rent and get groceries from Trader Joe's. It's an OLP MM2, a four-string knock off that seems to have gotten solid reviews online. I have limited bass experience, but I always felt I had an intuitive sense of what to do to play a bassline for the kind of music I'm interested in, so this seems like the right kind of instrument for the task. So soon I'll be posting tracks with basslines. Lauren got a tambourine for Christmas, so now we've got a percussion instrument as well. Now I've got to make this wacko German software work with all these tracks.


Yep, I'm sick.

I switched to the new version of Blogger, for reasons surpassing imagination. But I'm sick.

Monday, January 01, 2007

home at last

Lauren and I left Turlock on Friday the 22nd for L.A. We left L.A. for Detroit on the 26th. We came back to L.A. on the 30th-31st. We stayed up until around 2 this morning talking about music, culture, politics, and hope, concluding yes, perhaps, of course (though ultimately doomed), and yes and no (yes for the planet, nature, cockroaches, individual persons, solidarity, struggle, and creativity, no for the species). We came home from L.A. today. Nuff said.

Got new music for Christmas from my loveliest - Tom Waits' Alice and a new find, a chick named Mirah, that were good eats. I've decided that I want to write the kind of imagery Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan do. Got a gift card from Allison towards getting a bass, and a hoopy "You can't have too many guitars" t-shirt. My folks bought us some of our airfare to Detroit, which was disgustingly expensive (though oddly and horribly less than my sister paid to fly from Phoenix, a shorter flight, which she booked far earlier).

Down in L.A. I put together a tune for my favorite of their cats, Stella, who only seems to like me and Allison, and whom I always greet by saying "Stelllla! Hey Stelllla!" So that could come online sometime during Winter Term (which, incidentally, starts in two freaking days). Meanwhile, there's a handful of songs up there now from the most recent sessions, at the end of the semester and during finals.

Lancelot is intact. We're intact. I restrung Guinnevere while half-watching the Maple Leafs-Bruins game. I hadn't seen the Leafs yet this year, so I have no idea if this was typical, but they were certainly entertaining. For whatever reason my octave-high G string snapped when I tried to tune it up, but luckily I had a spare.

By the by, I received an invite to link my blog to a site called NHLBloggers. This is odd because I don't particularly blog about hockey - it comes up, like tonight, because I love the game. But it doesn't come up in any systematic way, and if someone followed a link to my little outpouring of teeming meaningless details of my life, I'd think that person would be a little put off.

And so ends this random post. My brain, as of this writing, has the consistency and cognitive power of a bowl of tepid gruel.