31 December 2008

in spite of it being a great year.

new year's resolutions.

A couple of years ago, while enjoying the fruits of full time labor in my own place and a particularly violent case of pink eye, my best friend and I made the most basic of New Year's resolutions: we assured each other that we would do something amazing that year.  It was not particularly difficult as I had, in a most resigned and desperate fashion, already mailed off an application to one graduate school.  So to be amazing was not too difficult considering I felt my acceptance was assured and quitting your job and filling your car with crap to move to another state is not so hard once you somebody gives you the go-ahead to do so.

This year, well I don't know about this year.  Maybe it's because the thoughts can't get through the background din of a cooing baby and Potato Head playing children-- that's what I'd like to blame it on-- but doing applications this time around things feel much less assured and I feel like resolutions presuppose-- and even require-- a certainly amount of stability to ensure follow through.  So I am mystified as to what to resolve to do.  Of course I will graduate; but making goals to do the inevitable seems kind of redundant.  Having no clue as to where I will wind up by July puts a kink in the great garden hose of my life plans, complicated by the vagaries of what one does with a master's degree in the humanities.  

And maybe it's not the noise or my own circumstantial instability.  Perhaps it is the unsure nature of our times (of course, historian, blame it on context!), but I don't feel resolute on this dreary gray New Year's Eve.  2009 looks as cloudy as this Washington morning, and my inclination is to do nothing more than immerse myself in the fleeting pleasures of Potato Heads and to wait and see what happens with everything else/

big brother thinks this is funny after drinking a forty.

30 December 2008

what i have been doing lately.

Don't think that I've forgotten about you lately!  I've been home living as my alter-ego, Auntie Mel.  As Auntie Mel I find myself getting up before nine, reading stories, trying to placate the baby, partaking in auntie-niece tooth-brushing sessions, supervising the clean-up "game," indulging in the occasional snuggle and getting nibbled by Frankie the Dog.  And drinking.  

It's nice to get in touch with all of the variety that is so easily accessible here in Tacoma.  Between Trader Joe's, Metropolitan Market and the seeming endless number of available draft beers, I have been filled with holiday cheer.  Here's what I've sampled since I got here:

Cook's mimosa, beloved adopted family's house
Big Horn Brewing's Big Red Amber Ale, growler, beloved adopted family's house
Livingston Blush, wine, Grami's house
Boring German white wine, mom stash, Grami's house
Lovely German Pfalz ice wine, mom stash, Grami's house 
Yellowtail Shiraz/Cabernet mix, Grami's house 
Rainier Beer, can, Brother's house
Rogue Dead Guy Ale, forty, brother's house
Dick's Cream Ale, draft, Parkway Tavern
Mac & Jack's Serengheti Wheat, draft, Parkway Tavern
New Belgium Mothership Wit, draft, Parkway Tavern
Trader Joe's Honey Moon viognier wine, brother's house
Charles Shaw ("two buck Chuck") cabernet savignon, brother's house 
more lovely German Pfalz ice wine, mom stash, brother's house
Brown's Point Porter, draft, The Hub

On tap:
Frontier Red wine
Snoqualmie Avalanche winter ale
Pyramid Snowcap Winter Ale
Schloss Biebrich champagne (New Year's)

25 December 2008

giving the brothers grimm a run for their money.

The past few nights that I've been here I've had the privilege of getting to help Niece One get ready for bed.  I cherish those mellower, quiet moments with her as she moves from the intensity of play into relaxation and sleep.  The other night after reading a couple of books to her I asked her to tell me a story.  She is a precocious little person who enjoys books and the oral tradition of her grandmother's "when I was a little girl" stories-- not to mention constant interaction with her gifted storyteller of a father.  After I told my brother the story she told me, he suggested I share it here on my blog.  So here it is, as best as I can remember it:

Once upon a time there was a family, a mother and a father and a little boy and a little girl.  One day some bad guys broke into their house and wouldn't leave.  So the family fled to the beach where they bought a tent to stay in from the lightbulb store.  The bad guys turned into foxes and they tore the mother and father's sheets and they still wouldn't leave. The family wanted to come back to their house so they caught one of the foxes and cut him up into little pieces.  (at this point she seemed satisfied that the story was over, so I asked for a happy ending).  But the other fox still wouldn't leave.  Then that fox destroyed the little boy's sheets and the little girl's sheets, so the family used magic on the fox.  Then the fox went like this (she put a finger in each of her cheeks and pulled her mouth into a smile) and that's the happy ending.  The family got to move back into their house again.

Extraordinary for a three year old, isn't it?  I love that kid!

24 December 2008

good tidings to you.

Big Brother castigated me for not updating even though I, the source of this blog, was sitting five feet away. Eggamuffin.

So, for the holidays, I have a story about breast reconstruction (you have a choice) an obligatory Paul Kruger puff piece and a video about people who do the Iditarod route by bike.  

I'll end this post with a Christmas classic:

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

20 December 2008


I can't tell you how excited I am to trade the blizzardlike conditions of a place that can handle snow for the blizzardlike conditions of a place that can't. Looks like I will be finishing all my Christmas shopping before I get home after all. Yeesh. I'm supposed to get in on Sunday night but that seems oh so iffy.

p.s. see here's the benefit of the stretch blog format: we can enjoy this picture how it's meant to be enjoyed!

19 December 2008

snowed in.

Lordy! It's been snowing literally since the second I got home from an appointment at noon and has not stopped snowing since. They sent all the University employees home which means plowing services will be reduced to nothing and I will be forgoing a Christmas party in order to stay safe and cozy up on the hill.

It's pretty isn't it? There should be some foothills in the background but they are hidden by the clouds.

Fortunately I was able to hit up the little convenience store at campus housing before it closed so I could stock up on nutritious non-perishables to see me through the storm. It was the perfect day for The Dark Knight to come from Netflix. Can't wait to party by myself tonight! Technically only three pages of thesis left to write!

(no, they do not sell Bacardi at the student store... but it's just too cold for gimlets so rum and cokes will have to do!)

p.s. I changed the layout to a stretch format to benefit those of us with widescreen computers-- feedback?

so depressingly true to life.

17 December 2008

finals week math.

Today's been a good day on the school front-- turned in a big paper, got a paper back with a very nice compliment, had a productive chat with a lady who cleared up some questions on my thesis.



Hot Buttered Rum (if you spill it on yourself, you'll smell like Christmas)


NYT talks to Julian Zelizer (I read this for pleasure)


= a pretty good Wednesday!

a picture post, because i am fast losing my ability to write.

Portrait of the Barack as a Young Man. Also badass.*

Bike badassness.

Bwhahahahaha! That is not badass at all! Poor guy.

Oh snap! I thought I was clicking on a preview and it's really the whole episode of the new Flight of the Conchords! Go Wednesday!

*COTGB sez: smoking is bad, kidz! Also, if you are the world's best swimmer and somebody tells you to wear clothes in a picture, you just tell them that this aggression will not stand!!

16 December 2008

as a blogger and a liberal, i am obligated to post this.

Say what you will about George Bush, but that guy's got the reflexes of a cat.

just in case you wondered about my future.

I played MASH online tonight while I was eating my dinner. Here were my results with interpretive commentary:

Your husband's name is Clive Owen (you don't have to twist my arm) and you have 4 children (good lord!). You're a Public Historian who drives to work every day in a Red Dutch Bike (fancy that).

It's truly a wonderful life when you consider the countless romantic nights you have spent with Clive Owen in your shack in Washington (indeed!).

Well, that takes care of things.

15 December 2008

oh snap.

Dang. Today was one of those interview experiences that really transformed what it means to me to be an oral historian. I spent two hours with her in a drafty library basement and came away with an interview released only to me, rather than the library for public use, and the release was further edited to limit the interview's use to the topic for which I contacted her. That's fine, I go with what works for the narrator.

But it's funny, in the midst of all that I have to do, two hours is a lot of time to come away with only ten minutes of actual usable material. What do I make of that, a second instance in which few of my questions were answered? I concluded that really the whole of the two hours, regardless of content, was so much more than just doing oral history research-- it was sharing in this profound, intangible human experience that I don't even think I can start to describe. I love that my research puts me in touch with people that I would never otherwise meet.

Today I think I finally realized how sublime it is to just listen, and how much people appreciate the small gesture of someone listening to them with an open mind.
I can't even tell you what it is like to be in a completely quiet room just listening to someone interpret their life. I came away from the interview with a higher respect for the opportunity I have. I don't know that the end result of preserving people's contributions to history is number one for me anymore; I think there is something to be said for giving people the opportunity for telling their stories and embracing the value of those stories to that person. I think the process is more important than the product. I think history is less about understanding the world and more about understanding each other. I think regardless of what happens with my applications and my life long term, I can really appreciate the education I'm getting in the moment and what it does for how I think about what it means to be human and to be alive.

fired up and ready to go.

I interrupt this regularly scheduled finals week programming of bitching and moaning to tell you that there is really nothing I enjoy more in the work that I'm doing than preparing for an oral history interview. I'm sure I've talked about this before, but as it has been four months since I last sat down with a stranger to ask them probing questions about their life, I am getting stoked! Making all of the little comprehensive neurotic lists of directions and things not to forget... and then the questions! Just making the list of questions embodies so much possibility! And then you get to go back and listen to them, and find that even the most soul crushing of interviews provides some neat bits and creates a record where there wasn't one before. And what's awesome is that tomorrow is the first of two interviews this week. My cup runneth over. And there should be some interviews in the future because today I registered for the 2009 state Eagle Forum conference. That's right, TWELVE STRAIGHT HOURS OF CONSERVATISM! That'll make a blog post you'll never forget.

And you know what? I am starting to have a damn good time writing my thesis too. As I start to realize that I am getting very close to my chair's very firm 30 page limit and as I rediscover really cool stuff in my notecards from St. Louis-- remember St. Louis??-- I am getting kind of stoked. It took me twenty-odd pages that I have to go back and revisereviserevise, but I am finally feeling some flow! I am writing a history that has never been written before! This is pretty bad ass.

You know what else is bad ass? The video I'm posting. We all need these kinds of kumbaya lovey feelings this time of the semester, and I feel so fortunate that people that people have been sending them my way that I want to put more of those feelings into the universe. And of course, I love Whitney Houston. Also-- I dedicate this one to all the Arrested Development fans out there.

13 December 2008

in which i realized that my ability to panic had disappeared.

This morning I found a nice way to cope with a mild hangover*: a nice protracted meandering through the Life photo archive in my bed. This was of course great until, being in bed and everything, my laptop overheated and shut down. I didn't realize that was why it happened and felt pretty convinced that it would never turn back on.

As it failed to come back on after several attempts, and I saw my thesis draft flash before my eyes, it occurred to me that in the past, such an incident would have freaked me out a lot more.
But the panic that I would've felt-- perhaps accompanied by some tears and frantic phone calls-- just wasn't there. There was even a moment where I was kinda glad, since it would mean taking the day off to order another computer and maybe actually getting my act together on my projects.

But alas, t
he computer came back on with a big SHAME ON YOU FOR LETTING ME GET TOO HOT message. As soon as it did, I backed everything up, and of course heaved a huge sigh of relief while I continued to entertain thoughts about getting a new computer in time to write it off. It was a very mellow little crisis.

I daresay, in the process of growing up and getting hormonally regulated, I have become completely uninteresting and entirely unfamiliar.

*don't have Imperial Stout and Outlaw Red in the same evening, ok?

10 December 2008

my pretty city.

While I'm hard at work on school stuff, it's nice to know that Dooce is out taking the kind of pictures I'd like to take. Click here and here to see.

using them is big and clever.

This video is fascinating. I particularly like the condom washing machines.

it's that time of the year again.

Annotated so you know what you're looking at.

08 December 2008

my love for tacky, vulgar animated gifs knows no bounds.

effing winter finally shows up.

After much anticipation, it snowed for the first time in over a month.

Some cute little boys built this snowman this afternoon.

And just in case you wondered, I still exist.

Happy winter, finally.

07 December 2008

mark kozelek week big finish.

And you can take a hit off of his forthcoming cover album here. Exquisite.

06 December 2008

discovering what makes westerns worthwhile.

Had to watch a bunch of westerns for class this week and I have to say, I was unprepared for what I've found. Namely,

that Robert Redford was one of the sexiest men to ever grace the silver screen. Seriously, out of the blue I was like, "Good lord, please bring mustaches BACK!" (really?!) It's like you think you know who you are and what you want and then Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid waltz in and turn it all upside down.

05 December 2008

pure magic matador.

Per yesterday's dismissive Trek bike post, I will qualify it by saying that I think better design thought has been put into their Gary Fisher Simple City line. Though I don't know that it will get you conversation with a cute guy parking his Bianchi (with a Brooks saddle, no less)... that was nice.

Here's is a dark but intriguing slideshow of Cuba. Castro wants to talk with Obama, and I really hope Barack will take him up on the offer. Our policy on Cuba requires reevaluation and I will be deeply disappointed if the embargo is still hanging on in four years.

For Mark Kozelek week, here's a really lovely live version of Salvador Sanchez.

who doesn't love a musical.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

04 December 2008

or you could just get yourself a dutch bike with a chain guard.

Trek's coming out with chainless bikes. Yawn. For the same price you can get a finely equipped steel hottie.

i wonder if bicycle jesus had a hand in this.

Ugh! I feel like today is taking a big dump right on my head. It's cloudy but it won't snow, but it's cold enough to make one's lungs exhausted from riding the bike. The bike elevator is broken down, yay delightful carrying of the ODT down and up three flights of stairs. I wrote down the wrong deadline to one of my schools, so I missed it, which I found out from one of my recommenders incidentally, which filled me with embarrassment and self loathing. My computer continues to gradually manifest its assholeness by growing slower, which probably portends its imminent death. Not to mention I have a billion things to do that aren't getting done because I just feel so tortured by the day.

So I found it almost annoying when I saw this picture. Ugh! I hate it when the positive energy of the universe speaks to me in my own language, right down to the bottle dynamo. I want to be negative, dangit!

Sounds like a challenge to me. I think I'll have a Peppermint Patty and engage in some intensive rewriting.

UPDATE: I went to check the mail and it is spitting snow (yay!) and my Bicycle Jesus shirt arrived. Redemption is nigh, perhaps?

03 December 2008

you are a cynic.

Piece related to Russia: Sarah Palin poetry!!! She gives Donald Rumsfeld a run for his money. This was my favorite:

"Challenge to a Cynic"

You are a cynic.
Because show me where
I have ever said
That there's absolute proof
That nothing that man
Has ever conducted
Or engaged in,
Has had any effect,
Or no effect,
On climate change.

(To C. Gibson, ABC News, Sept. 11, 2008)

Piece related to coffee

Piece tying coffee and Russia together, more or less
: The increasing popularity of White Russians is tied to The Big Lebowski. It reminded me that the only time I've ever had a White Russian, which was while watching The Big Lebowski. It knocked me out pretty early in the movie and as a result of this story, I am not qualified to be an alcoholic nor a hipster.

02 December 2008

you're the promise that i found.

These pictures of the Venice flood kind of blew my mind, and sent me into a whirl of "I've got to get back..."

I think it's turning into Mark Kozelek week here at COTGB, which is alright by me. Click here for "Revelation Big Sur." It's lovely.

Thank Bicycle Jesus that we have Chris Buttars to save Christmas.

i'm feeling festive.

01 December 2008

a little more mark kozelek for you.

Link: Red House Painters - Have You Forgotten

It's already clear that it's going to be one of those kinds of weeks. Cranking the soothing music and enjoying some Coca-cola, trying to muddle through.

bicycle commuting reimbursement.

This news by way of Velo Orange is too good to not post:
Bike commuters get tax breaks via the bailout!

I'm not entirely sure how it works, but for 20 bucks a month I am definitely on board. Though lucky for me, the ODT doesn't require much maintenance.

almost famous.

One of the great coup d'etats for the long weekend-- beyond the satisfaction of reading a couple o' books and making progress on my thesis draft-- was scoring Almost Famous for 5 bucks on Thanksgiving. I *might* have watched it twice in the same night. The soundtrack is perhaps the best ever. It has been in my head all weekend.

I like that scene because it features lots of Mark Kozelek. Watching that movie totally reignited my Sun Kill Moon / Red House Painters love. This song is not connected to the movie at all:

Ah. That was nice.