Rapid-fire blogging with swears

I have the new Modest Mouse album on repeat while I work this morning, and goddamn, you need a copy if you don't already have one. All killer, no filler.

Bill Clinton always looked like an old man to them

Holy shit - my kids were born after the 91 Gulf War.

I was only 12 when it happened, but I remember vividly watching it on CNN in my grandparents' basement. My parents were building onto our house at the time, and we were staying there for a few nights while the major work on the kitchen was going on. It's one of my first memories of international politics.

Keep your eyes peeled

According to my apartment-mate, who is also from Madison, David Lynch lives somewhere on the west side - and goes to the same video store I do. Mulholland Drive is one of my top three favorite movies, and now I'm going to be disappointed if I don't get to tell the director that in person.

It's not all teaching






New experiences all around.

Phone calls from parents is a completely new experience for me - one that I got to enjoy this afternoon. Fortunately, it was a concerned parent and not a frothing-with-anger parent, so I could have lost my parent-call virginity in far less savory ways. The student in question is quiet and shy, but perfectly competent - he's not the star of the class, though, and I think not outshining his peers is a new experience. It's a good lesson, though - I feel like I'm teaching life skills here, which is a new experience of my own. Today I taught them all how to find books in the stacks, and yesterday I taught them all how to skim articles to weed out the literary chaff.

The crushing lows, the not-so-dizzing highs

Some of you(Spice, for sure)know about the post-lecture emotional roller-coaster - an immediate quick high, followed by a pretty severe and exhausting drop (which hopefully disappears before you have to step up to the lectern again).

It turns out that teaching exuberant young children, especially smart ones that are in constant competition, is just exhausting the whole time. I'm only one day down on this California Adventure ride, and I'm beat. I'm toast. I'm flattened. I'm glad my lecture is ready to go for tomorrow already because I'm barely going to make it to the end of this senten

That's a cheap writing gag and it's below you - sorry.

I did bring the little geniuses down a peg during study hall tonight. They were supposed to read about 30 pages (and reading, I told them, means taking notes on what you're reading, not just speeding through it), then write a short response paper (to a specific question I had given them, not like they're in grad school). My TA reported that not one of them had enough time to get to the reaction paper, so maybe they'll be less out to prove themselves tomorrow. Or more. What do I know.

Dubbya tee eff, California?

Why is it so chilly here between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.? I had to ask M.Bro to mail me a sweatshirt this weekend.

The students descended on us today. They have an entire evening of icebreakers with the residential staff tonight, and we start classes bright and early tomorrow morning. I'm not nervous - just anxious. I really have no idea what to expect out of these kids. With college students, I can be reasonably sure they'll mostly look bored and/or hung-over, and that sureness is comforting - it makes the success of the class almost completely dependent on me and me alone.

The first RA/Instructor student-handoff happens at Leo (the) Lion at 8:50 tomorrow - wish me luck.

Here there be dragons

You're going to wish you were taking my class on Tuesday - it's going to be a blast and a half. I'm putting them in five groups of three to learn about the logic of collective action. Here's part of the activity instructions -
Congratulations! Your group has been elected by the people of Delta, one of the five independent states on CTY Island, to run the government of the state. The voters have told you their two main priorities – protecting your state from dragon attacks, but also building an island-wide system of roads to allow for the exchange of consumer goods between all the states on CTY Island.

You begin your first month in office with 10 resource points. Each month in office (a turn), you will have the chance to spend as many of your resource points as you wish for the Island Defense Fund, the Road Network Fund, or both. You may also choose to keep your resources in your mattress and not spend them on either defense or roads. You can increase your resource points by engaging in economic exchanges (which require a road network), but you will lose points if dragons are able to break through CTY Island’s defenses (which will happen if the defense fund is too low).

NO OTHER TEAM WILL KNOW WHAT YOU SPENT YOUR RESOURCES ON, OR WHETHER YOU SPENT ANY AT ALL. In fact, you may find that deceit, trickery, and bald-faced lying are useful techniques for preserving your resources.

Learning to Teach

It was Day 1 of faculty training, so lots of meetings today, lots of handouts, lots of exuberant enthusiasm for the CTY program. There are only a handful of new teachers - apparently most of them come back year after year (after year) and it's rare that an instructor position opens up. There's a fresh crop of new TAs almost every year, though, so I'm not the only one that hasn't been initiated into the community. My TA is a first-year grad student in my field at a pretty major California school, plus he has the same outlook on the field as me, so I think I lucked out in that regard.

Toiletry issues aside, I'm also pretty pleased with the housing situation. See that bluff? There's a multiple-mile running trail about halfway up(at least three - which is where I stopped today). See that building at the outcropping? That's Chez J.Bro for the next three weeks.

And this is the view from my classroom - some sort of mutant tree, the campus chapel, and the field on which Monday's croquet showdown will be waged.

J.Bro's California Adventure

What kind of private university doesn't supply toilet paper in the bathrooms of their faculty apartments? After checking in, my first order of business was walking down the highway to find a grocery store, a department store, a Walgreen's - any store that might carry toilet paper. I found a Home Depot around a mile north (where the day laborers in the parking lot didn't ask whether I needed a deck built), but they only had industrial-strength paper towels. My northerly path stymied by a no-pedestrian-access bridge, I went past LMU the other direction, and finally found a $7.49 four-pack at the expensive California version of Whole Foods.

On the plus side, I can see the ocean from my apartment, so there's that. An ocean-view cancels out a lot.

Go west, young man

My flight to LA leaves a scant 8 hours from now - pictures of temporary Chez J.Bro to follow!

68 more than you need

My office at summerjob looks over the beltline (it's impressive - I'll post anonymous photos sometime), and I just saw the biggest, largest, monstrositiest vehicle go by - an 70-wheeled semi! It was carrying some sort of massive metal frame and had two flashy-light escort vehicles in the front and the rear. I wonder what that caravan's per-mile carbon footprint is?

Daffy ineffable poetry

I have no funny or insightful comments, but here's a link to another story about high-end denim - this time, the New York Times on Japanese Levi's repros and fallout from January's lawsuit.
“We were sued,” said Kiya Babzani, the proprietor of Self Edge, a Mission District boutique that is truly missionary in its pursuit of denim enlightenment. What you will not find there are Levi’s own reissues of its old designs, sold under the premium Levi’s Vintage label. “Theirs is not nearly as close a reproduction of what a 501 was like in 1947 as Sugar Cane’s version is,” Mr. Babzani said. Only Sugar Cane’s $450 copies of the 1955 Levi’s use original Scovill zippers bought from dealers in vintage stock

In other denim news, I'm involved in a project on Superfuture that I'm pretty excited about - a guy with connections in Japan and experience in the industry is going to make a limited run of jeans with details chosen by members. Within the next couple weeks, there'll be a Superfuture-chosen pattern (probably close to the Dior 21cm cut), denim, stitching, rivets, details, etc. And since we're doing it as a cooperative, we'll pay no more than they actually cost - probably $90-120. Between those and the Context-designed Sling & Stones pair that Ryan and Sam say will be out around x-mas, I'm set for 2008.

I need you to confirm or deny!*

My friend Nathan says driving with your car windows down is less fuel-efficient than running the A/C. He says the increased drag requires more extra power than the A/C motor. But he rides a bike everywhere, so I need to get a second opinion on what he tells me.

*From an actual question a student e-mailed me about the International Law review session he missed.

Boom whap boom-boom whap!

Other than that ripping-off-clothes-through-the-decades commercial that I posted but have never seen on TV, I don't know whether/how Levi's does TV advertising now. In the past, though, apparently they did it high, borderline offensive, and patronizingly - that's how you sell jeans.


The new Swobo bikes - designed by a former Bianchi bigwig for a company that is known for making hipster wool jerseys - are out, and reaction seems to be mixed, but leaning negative.

I think Swobos are ugly and I'm dubious about the need for a saddle-mounted bottle-opener, but I really like the idea of low-cost (which this isn't), very simple, single-speed city cruisers. The SE Draft is a much better option - and would be an even betterer better option if it had a rear coaster brake and bullhorn bars. Sexy.

A pretty girl should live like a model, no?

Ugh - it's 5:45 a.m. and I've been up for an hour already, getting ready and trying to put down enough calories for a 3 1/2 hour on-the-bike photoshoot this morning. Summerjob's catalogs use employees where they can, and I get to be part of the road bike section again this year. Sometimes being so beautiful is a curse.

3:15 update: Between the wind, a photographer's assistant that couldn't drive the van at a consistent speed, and my shameful lack of fitness, that was an exhausting day of getting famous(er). On a positive note, we're supposed to get such a severe storm tonight that the school district has already cancelled everything.

Where's my tiara, bitches?

I've been voted one of the ten hottest women in the office. It's a dubious honor, but I shall do my office proud. Wave smile wave, wave.

Summer o' Plimsolls

Summertime is the right time to throw all your casual white socks away - you can replace them when you need them again in the Fall, because for right now you need to be rockin' your kicks barefoot.* John Lennon circa Abbey Road and I circa right now would like you to think about having a pair of white plimsolls shipped from across the pond. They'd be more affordable is our country's currency wasn't such a shameful shell of itself, but 16 pounds sterling (including 3-5 day shipping) shouldn't break anyone's back. Plus, they're Superfuture-approved, so you can walk tall, knowing a bunch of people on an internet fashion forum like your shoes.** Double-plus - you can call this impossible if you want, but they're even more minimalist*** than chucks.

*Unless you are a different gender than me, I cannot give my stamp of approval for sandals. And I actively discourate you from wearing flip-flops, whatever your special area happens to consist of.
**A guy named Brent, however, may ask whether you mugged a nurse to get them. Brent is not Superfuture-approved.

Oh, hey! It's Shorpy!

Shorpy is a blog of high-quality antique photos - many big enough for desktops, and some that you can order as wall-size prints. The photos themselves are striking, obviously, but my favorite part is that there's a brief description of what it is I'm looking at. For the photo below, for example -
Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co., South Pittston. January 1911. Spooky full image. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. JG Art Print.

"Breaker boys," or slate pickers, sat astride the breaker chutes, through which the coal roared, and picked out slate and other debris by hand. Boys as young as 8, working ten-hour days, began their coal careers in the breakers. They were paid less than the adults who performed the same work and faced the hazard of hand injuries or even falling into the chutes. Some breaker boys were the sons of miners who had been killed or disabled, often the only remaining source of income for their families. In 1900, boys accounted for one-sixth of the anthracite coal work force. Read a firsthand account of the breaker boys' work.

What Conservatives See

Hi, bloggers

I've been a little sporadic this week, both with posting and commenting. Tomorrow morning, though, I have an early-morning coffee date with all of our blogs.

I have achilles bursitis in my left ankle, which feels like something is broken. Not an excuse for not blogging, but I thought you'd like to know that running half-marathons isn't all daisies and roses.