Wow - I've got lots of posts percolating, but none of them are fully brewed yet. Since I find myself, as I so often have in the past, out at a coffee shop, laptopping while Otis works, I thought I'd post an old-style "what's up" post just to keep the blog fresh.
So, in the midst of all this end-of-days, Second Great Depression, financial meltdown, failure of Randian objectivism, onset of creeping socialism, worldwide economic crisis stuff, has anyone noticed anything different in our quotidian lives? I mean, my pension plan is in the tank, but my salary hasn't changed, right? How does this affect us in the here-and now? I sure have noticed that my food bills have been going up over the past year - I track a few indicator species and have seen them go up and not come back down - but I don't think that has anything to do with this. Otis seems to have noticed a bit of a slowdown in her business recently, and I wonder if that's related to the psychological effects of all the bad financial news putting the brakes on consumer spending.
Our economics and business faculty up at Cascadia held a presentation Friday on the current financial situation and how it happened and what it all means. I wish I could have attended, but I was in Tacoma for training of a different kind: I attended the conference of the Washington State Community College Humanities Association. It was enlightening to hang out with and attend sessions from literature and history types as well as just composition and rhetoric folks; as I teach more and different classes, this broadening of my professional perspective is useful.
This WCCHA conference was also a nice counterpoint to the training I attended the prior week in North Bend; that session was much more nuts-and-bolts course planning, just as valuable but with a completely different (and more interdisciplinary) approach. This is turning into my Year of Professional Development, and if all the activities are as valuable as these have been, I'll be doing very well indeed.
I could say that the combination of professional education and the piles of grading that my courses generate (such as the one that I should be working on right now) keeps me from writing all the deep and insightful essays that should be filling up this space instead of these random ramblings, but that might be oversimplifying it a bit. There has still been time for fun and diversion as well.
Yesterday, a group of us convened at Johnbai's for a Saturday morning event: the price of admission was some sugary cereal and the main attraction was cartoons! In a fit of wistful nostalgia, the big man decided he wanted to recreate the happy memories of his youth, to wit, stuffing himself with oversweetened carbohydrates while lolling on the couch for hours watching animated mayhem. So that's exactly what we did, although in a sop to "adult" sensibilities, the cartoon of choice was The Venture Brothers, a mostly witty, slightly sophomoric, and sometimes smutty pastiche of Jonny Quest, the classic animated adventure series of the sixties. I must admit, I had to cut the sugar-only diet with a little protein in the form of vegetarian bacon, but I think we kept to the spirit of the event, anyway.
After too-many-hours-to-admit of indolence, the whole crew - Johnbai, O, Dingo, Soapy, Yojimbo, Otis and I - rejoined the human race by taking a nice walk to Volunteer Park in the afternoon. It was a nearly perfect day for taking in the fall foliage and the late-blooming dahlias - sunny and clear, with blue skies and crisp, cool air.
Later that evening, Otis and I watched Shirley Valentine, a pleasant British romance from 1989 about a 42-year-old woman rediscovering the joy of living. It was a nice counterpoint to Judge Dredd, the cartoonishly violent 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle (notable only for a rare (to me) action movie performance by Diane Lane), which we saw earlier in the week.
Maybe what I need to do to have a life and a blog is hire a ghost writer.