Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Death to Summer: I Am The Sloth

Summer will be over tonight- September, the autumn month, begins her reign tonight at midnight. I would characterize my summer as passing too quickly and further demonstration of my eternal procrastination and laziness. I am The Sloth.

So now I spend my time in class; I have five classes. I don't particularly like school- I gave up on homework in sixth grade (the sandbox is as comfortable a place as any to finish last night's homework before the bell rings, my children) or buying school supplies from Hobby Lobby- I have a pottery kit and a sewing kit now. I will make epic shite.

So this is an adjustment to me. Here are the facts: I sleep in until afternoon, don't get dressed, spend my time awake at night perusing new musical acts (of value, obvs), and, in general, act as a giant suction cup attacked to the bottom of society (you could verify this- somewhere in between Courtney Love and crocs, I'll be there). I have been known to nap with reckless abandon. Waking up at an acceptable hour will take a fair amount of work. Though I did amass a glorious amount of music this summer, and I will be sharing that with you, I've no doubt that my independent research will be ending in favor of backpacks and that queen of captivating prose herself, Jane Austen.

True to form, the past three months yielded no fruits. And I remain as unproductive as ever- lack of motivation has become more own bane. I still hold onto the hope that the autumn months will be more fruititious, though in all likelihood we will be revisiting this post at the end of November. I don't seem to care anymore about this. But I wished to write a final summer post and I also wished to see the little number next to posts labeled "August" go up.

Goodbye, Summer. See you in June.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I am so glad I'm auditing.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you—but here it is, my first blog about photography class. I just finished week one. Assignment: create a self portrait with a prop that illustrates something about me. Now how hard can that be?

I go buy a tripod (short pause here while I take a brief, unplanned detour with a monopod. I will wait patiently while some explains to me the purpose of a one-legged camera stand.) I pile up a bunch of books, stick a pen behind my ear, and shazam, I’m ready. Set the timer, snap away. Change backgrounds, snap away. Move around the house, snap some more.

Three battery charges later I am so frustrated I could scream…wait…I did. Why is this so complicated?! It’s a self portrait, for Pete’s sake! I’m not looking to win a Pulitzer for it, just get a decent picture by midnight so my first assignment won’t be late. The problem I’m having is that none of the pictures I take are of me. They’re of some old woman I’ve never met. She has crow’s feet. Her forehead looks like the back yard of a train station. And what’s up with that neck? Ok, who invited her! WHY IS THIS OLD WOMAN HORNING HER WAY INTO ALL MY SHOTS???

Lesson one: You can lie to yourself all you want, but your camera will always be honest with you. Brutally, barefacedly honest.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Andromeda Party Plan

September 9th- it's on. Andromeda Party.

I have switched this party from the 8th to the 9th due to pesky school schedules. The 9th is a Thursday- no one will have to get up early on Fridays (Madre, Me, Vicki- psst...bring the telescope...).

You can bring music and journals if you wish. We can sit in the car for a little while if you want. I'll be Andromeditating in the meantime. I'm thinking Avatar soundtrack and Sigur Ros of course! But everyone who wishes to attend the Andromeda Party can bring what she wants.

Next, the Cosmic Committee must decide on a suitable location. No light pollution. I was thinking the hills behind our house (I don't know what they're called) but am open to other suggestions.

I will supply the junk food.

I may be going by myself. This is my party and I'll take this too Siriusly if I want to...

Who's with me?!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Hunt for Andromeda

I begin my quest to see Andromeda, the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. You might know her by her more famous and romantic name: Messier 31/NCG 224. Or you might know her as the faint smudge in the night sky in the Andromeda constellation.

She's big: bigger than our galaxy. While our galaxy is an itty bitty kitty of one hundred thousand light years (I know what you're thinking- That's all? That could fit on the end of my pencil!) and holds an embarrassingly low two hundred million stars at last estimate, Andromeda is a Big Cat at one trillion or so stars. Oh well- ours holds life. I guess that that's cool, too.

So anyway, Andromeda can be seen most clearly on moonless nights. I will be waiting. The next new moon is September 8th and somehow we lucked out: the best time to see her is August to March. I will be ready to...wake my mother up to drive to the trail and stare at the night sky again. We watched meteor showers a few nights ago while listening to Sigur Ros. It was epic. Andromeda will be epic much- very epic much.

This is how one goes about locating Andromeda, presented in five steps thanks to WikiHow (with some contributions/commentary from yours truly):

Find a moonless night and get away from the television. Mad Men isn't that interesting, anyway.* Locate the Andromeda constellation. This is a given. I don't know why WikiHow felt the need to add this. Next, locate the Pegasus and the Cassiopeia. This was a little less obvious. If you are looking before December, look after eight-o'-clock.

Pegasus is shaped like a rectangle, but it's name is the Great Square of Pegasus. Cassiopeia looks like an M or a W depending on whether the glass is half empty or half full. Andromeda is in between them like a little galaxy sandwich.

Draw a line on the star Sirrah, which is at the edge of the Pegasus and Andromeda constellations, to the Ruchbah in Cassiopeia.

Find Mirach. Then find mu Andromedae. Connect these two. This invisible line will pass through the first invisible line. You might have to squint, given that mu Andromedae isn't a very bright object. And given that the line you draw is invisible, unless you own a cosmic sharpie.

Scan just southeast of where the Invisibles meet. There will be a faint oval of light- the Andromeda galaxy. Despite being 2,500,000 light years away, we can still see it. And despite being a faint smudge, it is still beautiful and powerful nonetheless. Space rocks.

Wikipedia miscounted, but the four directions that they gave were accurate. Go get some binoculars, son. We shall have an Andromeda party.

If you see this instead of a smudge, give me a call.

*It's totally on our Netflix queue, dude.

The New Revolution

I didn’t know the puppy was going to get me up so early this morning, or I likely wouldn’t have stayed up as late as I did finishing Ken Robinson’s book The Element. Ok, not true. I was determined to finish the book in one sitting as I want to get started on the second Robinson book I bought, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. Just as an aside, I've taken my shoe addiction under control. I haven’t bought a new pair in weeks. However, I have replaced that addiction with another—books. They’re everywhere. Piled up under my couch as I write. Sitting next to my bed. Coffee table. Everywhere. Somebody buy me a Kindle, for Pete’s sake!

But back to a linear direction of some sort—I purchased the Robinson books after watching his 2006 talk on TED (check it out—he’s a funny guy on top of being pretty smart). I thought they (the books, that is) might give me some material for my freshman comp classes, which are so cleverly titled “The Creative Mind.” That’s where my own creativity ended. But as I read The Element I found passage after passage I want to bring into class. It’s a balancing act, focusing on the purpose of the course, which is to give students writing skills for college and career, and my purpose, which is to convince students that they can dare to dream, they can feed their spirits, they can pursue their true passions and strengths, and that writing is an integral part of the process, not the end result. I admit it—creativity sets me on fire. I like to challenge students to think about how anything can be done differently, maybe even how life can be lived differently. I love to watch students take an idea and go where I never expected. I enjoy the collaborative aspects of teaching, both with my students and my colleagues. Every semester, every single semester, we create something new. To borrow Robinson’s (and Savannah’s) term, I have found my tribe.

I have the best job in the world.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer musings

I have packed a lot into this summer. Took trips to Texas, Santa Fe, Albuquerque (some of them were even planned), turned Kailee’s room into my office (hope she isn’t planning on moving back in), gained back all the weight I’ve lost, (see photo of the Hey Cupcake trailer, in Austin. Absolutely the best chocolate on chocolate cupcake of my life) and acquired a second dog. Yep, a fruitful three months.

I have also waded into the wonderful world of Twitter. Little play with consonance there. Anyhoo, I have avoided Twitter because I thought it would be a drier, emoticon-free version of Plurk, which I bailed on just recently. I really didn’t want to get updates on what everyone was doing or wearing or going or eating or anything else. Instead, though, I have found it to be a fantastic networking tool. Who I follow can be divided into lists: education twitterers (is that a word?), writing, art, and just for fun. I admit, Jason Hawes from “Ghost Hunters” is on my list. And Grant, although he doesn’t tweet as much…

In a very short space of time I have learned so much about the ongoing conversation taking place around education. If anyone doubts the passion of teachers, I dare you to try to keep up with their threads. I have ‘met’ filmmakers and writers, artists and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, people! He twitters! I have him categorized under “just for fun,” but I admit that’s probably not the best choice. Maybe I need a new category. Any suggestions?

I have also been introduced to some great blogs. It’s a virtual smorgasbord of information out there—really, really good writing. And just in case I grow too serious about life, the Onion tweets some pretty outrageous headlines.

In other news, and closely aligned to the Twitter thing, I broke down and bought a smartphone. A BlackBerry. I have no idea what kind, except it’s not a Storm, which is good because I would have hated to spend that much money on a phone I can’t even use in the UAE. I say this is closely aligned to my Twitter adventure because this little black box that doesn’t really look like a berry at all brings Twitter right to my palm. I can also see my email and Facebook. Now, those of you accustomed to technology just stay offa my cloud. I’m like-- me in a candy store. I can even—ready for this?—surf the Internet while walking along the river. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic this is, but I’m liking it. A lot. I’ll let you know how much of my soul I’ve sold when I get my first bill…

But, sadly, summer has come to an end. I am back to work, which requires me to actually get up in the mornings. And wear shoes. However, I am taking a digital photography class, dance with me, people! I will no doubt be using this space to share my attempts throughout the semester. Consider yourself warned.