Friday, December 31, 2010

top 5 stories of 2010

This will be the last in my series emulating the banal, creepily nostalgic pop culture artifact of reviewing the past year as it reaches its end. I won't use a headline like the San Francisco Chronic did today (Explosive losses, Giant victories), because eywwh.

Instead, I'll do a reverse-order top 5 kind of list. Those are always really uninteresting, aren't they? Gee, whatever could the top 5 stories of the year 2010 be? It's just that they write up all this stuff in early December so nobody actually has to work between Christmas and New Year's. Basically, almost nothing of global import happens during that week, except the occasional bombing, or attempted bombing, or maybe an assassination plot - nothing that won't keep until Monday morning, anyway.

5. The Apocalypse

This didn't actually happen. We did drive through Bakersfield on the way to and from LA several times, but that's really only a metaphor for the Apocalypse, not the actual event. This is what I tell myself over and over whenever we drive through. It helps.

4. Avalanche buries Cow State Santa Claus

This didn't happen, either. What did happen was the ongoing unrest on campus from Fall 2009 morphed into protests against the administration on March 4 and in the summer, related to some kind of event on campus the nature of which has slipped from my memory.

The avalanche referred to here is, like Bakersfield, metaphorical. It could be an allusion to the shredded non-existent documents allegedly the private property and garbage of a university official who maintained the non-existent documents on university property but which documents, had they existed, would not be university documents. Yes, that's right, it's an avalanche of bullshit. But seriously, what other kind could possibly strike our campus, given the topography around here (to say nothing of the climate)?

3. Former college instructor arrested following crime spree

This also didn't happen, but it was a near miss. Through much of the Spring semester, it seemed 90% certain that all or most of my work in the department would be cut. The philosophy job market nationwide was practically non-existent, as well. I had one interview, that I botched, for a job at a community college in Ohio where I wouldn't have been happy.

Given my advanced educational attainment in the humanities, my career options would have been sorely limited. Other than returning to school for something else, my best bet would have been a life of crime. I used to be pretty good at stealing stuff and breaking into places.

I'm glad to be teaching ethics, instead.

2. New enlightenment flourishes in social life and politics

Now I'm just making shit up, just like the pros do it. Although, even here, there's a grain of truth, if by "enlightenment" we mean an era of shrill, screeching, pandering, fear-mongering, and slander.

1. 2011 canceled due to budget cuts

We can't be sure this won't happen until midnight tonight. Given how many state budgets are in the crapper, and how poor the economy continues to treat most of us, states like California and Arizona could try this as a way to reduce deficits, or at least shift attention away from their gross irresponsibility when it comes to dealing with fiscal realities.

On the other hand, given how well the economy treats people who still profit from it, and how much they stand to benefit from this continuing, and paupering states in the process while they collect interest, tax breaks, and public money in the form of fees paid to outsource formerly public services like education, probably 2011 won't be canceled at all, it'll just be a repeat of 2010.

I don't know about you, but I'm planning to have bubbly on hand for the countdown.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 - a year in words and numbers

My series of entirely useless summing-up posts continues, this time taking up these spent and emptied examples of the genre.

Apparently, the OED added 39 words in 2010, including the vomitous defriend and staycation, the oddly old-fashioned fussbudget and buzzkill, the ubiquitous exit strategy, and the rarely-useful steampunk, quantitative easing, and microblogging. One imagines the difficulty of using all of these in a single sentence, although such a sentence could be a promising entry in the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest.

Of course, my own efforts in bad writing this year were restricted to participating in National Novel Writing Month - in which I completed the 70,000-word satirical Autobiography of Biff Nerfurpleberger. The book contains approximately 4 narrative voices, the two main ones being Biff's own, and his competing autobiographer, someone called Simon Ratmason - both of whom are unreliable narrators. Biff is a bad writer because he's completely inattentive to the fact that he's writing, or, at times, what he's writing. Simon's a terrible writer in the tradition of most celebrity biographers, especially musician biographers. It was great fun to write, even the hideous parts by Simon that made me cringe, or worse. I think, if you're writing a work of fiction, and you're yelling at your narrator, you're doing some worth doing.

Some more words related to 2010 include: peanuts, yeast, turtle, frustrating, delicious, hilarious, and subjection.

And now, some numbers.

0 - the number of remaining payments on Eddie Jetta.
10 - the number of courses at my birthday dinner party.
10 - the number of people at my birthday dinner party.
2 - the number of cats currently living with us.
13.5 - the number of pounds the lighter one weighs.
1 - the number of purple-handled scissors on my desk.
1 - the number of manufacturers who still build tape decks, apparently.

Also: 37, 117, 90, 12, 64, i, 41,233, 0.02.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 - the year in review, in terms of threats to homeland security

The following review interprets and determines threat levels regarding the relevant ongoing concerns.

Threat #1: Job Security

Despite constant threats to Job Security during 2009 and early 2010, Employment has remained intact. Current threats to Employment include long-standing political attacks on humanities, specifically philosophy, and ongoing state budget crises, coupled with withdrawal of public support for public universities. A new three-year "temporary" appointment was obtained in August, however, continuing state budget issues and local campus fiscal irregularities create an environment in which insurgency should be anticipated.

Threat Level: Yellow ("Elevated"). California's large budget deficit will continue to threaten Job Security for at least the remainder of this three-year "temporary" appointment. In addition, bargaining between the CFA and CSU point to emergent threats.

Threat #2: Health

Local conditions have resulted in resurgence of both depression and anxiety, culminating in two adverse events during 2010. In June, an outbreak of anxiety led to a full-scale panic attack on a commercial flight bound for NYC-JFK, forestalled only through the heroic efforts of on-board civilian medical personnel. In October, a depression insurgency arose; however, counter-insurgency by NaNoWriMo forces prevented any significant gains by the enemy.

In response to the panic attack, a summer program of health review and restoration was undertaken, with positive results including a wide reduction in stress, decreasing resting heart rate, and general improvements to preparedness. The October plot was undermined successfully as well.

Ongoing local threats include Feline-centered Urinary Tract threats, as well as Loveliest-Targeted threats that have, thus far, remained impervious to intelligence efforts.

Threat Level: Yellow ("Elevated"). It remains unclear when, if, or how these enemy covert operations may be launched. Constant surveillance continues to be necessary.

Threat #3: Canadians

It remains clear, as 2010 nears its close, that the biggest single threat to local security conditions in this area is posed by Canadians. The nature and extent of the threat is considered so serious that no detail of any kind, and no vague allusion of any kind, may be provided in this report, for fear of undermining security and intelligence efforts in this area.

Threat Level: Red ("Severe").

Saturday, December 18, 2010

landmark 650th post!

A few random items.

It's been a while since I posted anything about food or cooking. Last night was pizza night here, which can mean some combination of things. Last night I made my famous notorious gorgonzola b├ęchamel sauce and schmeared one pizza with that, adding fresh mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, scallions, kalamata olives, and crimini mushrooms (which I always pronounce like a euphemism for "Christ" that some folks enjoy, notably my Dad). I also made what I would love to call pizza sauvage or something equally pretentious, which is just dough with a coating of olive oil and sprinkled sea salt with toppings (the salt is, in this case, Hawaiian red salt, dried and cured in clay pots, old school, because, as has been mentioned in this space from time to time, I am a foodie snob in possession of 8 different salts and 5 peppers at any given moment, and let he among ye who isn't some kind of junkie cast the first paraphernalia). The naked pizza had diced tomatoes, criminis, fresh mozza, etc. etc., and spinach on it. It was one of the best pizzas I've ever made, in my estimation.

In my mind, the pizza orgy was to celebrate being 99 44/100% done grading for the semester. Lawdy, do I hate grading. But there it is. I have one paper, for one orphaned student for whom I am volunteering my work to be a project adviser, to go.

I already have received one complaint about grades, and it's a valid one, I think. Most grade complaints are, in my experience. I'm not perfect. I don't even add well.

Before I stop wasting everyone's time with this useless post, I'll pause to mention two things:

(1) That I'm planning a series of Year In Review posts, and

(2) I'm off to play a guitar lesson for an elaborated fingerstyle version of "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel."


And also that I dreamed all night of weird goings-on on our campus (though topographically, architecturally, and geographically transformed) involving former students suddenly getting married; festivals suddenly ending in ways that prohibited my access to my Loveliest, my old Japanese-built Takamine classical, and my car (regarding which, proceed with caution, Dan or Jackson, whoever in my dream world is driving Eddie Jetta); a rude security guard; and creepy people from the university doing creepy things (who shall remain nameless).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

crazy busy

I think I'm finally over the rotten head cold that forced me to teach the last week of classes via charades. Apparently, people don't play charades any more. I joked that I was playing charades in class, and proceeded to make the charades sign for "movie," but not one person played along. It's also pretty hard to perform charades of ethical concepts or abstractions like "obscenity."

The week before that I was grading term papers, to get them back for possible revision. That was the same week of way too much holiday musical performance. In one week, Lauren had her long dress rehearsal and two performances with the MSO chorus, then we saw the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus the evening after the second, matinee, MSO gig. The very next afternoon we went to Carolfest on campus, and last Saturday we went to the Central West Ballet performance of the Nutcracker. There's one more, next Tuesday - the Candlelight concert with MSO.

Final papers, and finalized term papers, are just starting to roll in, so I'll be looking at between 120 and 240 papers, depending on the various options my various students take. That's at least 100 too many, give or take.

Holiday shopping has been, perforce, hasty. Of updating this here online public journal, not a whit. However, in the course of writing the madcap and thoroughly alleged autobiography of Biff Nerfurpleberger, I dropped the names of various songs Biff composed and recorded throughout his career. I've had to write and record two of them, just out of compulsion. The second one, yesterday's achievement, is a seasonal song called "Don't Shoot! It's Santa! (And Rudolph too!) (And Frosty!) (And Jesus!)" Be forewarned that I may post to teh Interwebs.