Happy "X"mas, Santa!

Happy whatever holiday you and your pagan, hippie friends celebrate! Whatever it is, I hope you celebration includes woodland critters (a holiday tradition in my household)!

As of today, our decorations include a gingerbread house that Melanie made at school (instead of learning something useful for her future career, like sine waves, how a bill becomes a law, or All Quiet on the Western Front). But even though it comes at a high, high academic cost, it's an adorable little cottage. An adorable, delicious little cottage.

We'll be in Nebraska for a little over a week, so while there may be Neblogsking, you should plan to be pleasantly surprised if there's an update rather than up in arms if there isn't.

Update: Whoah, dudes - Missy doesn't cook very much, but she just busted out a salad that involved candying walnuts. Happy holidays, indeed!



Brit-brit's gonna be a aunt, y'all!


(My blog needs a Miley Ray Cyrus is Knocked Up countdown clock)

Buying an island is not an option

Imagine your life over the next 20-30 years - if you had to choose between one of these two paths, which would you pick? Why?

1) You very rarely travel, internationally even less so, but you own a cozy cottage in the woods. In fact, your cottage is on a lake and your birchbark canoe is tethered to your personal dock. Vacations aren't spent in far-flung locations or multi-million dollar amusement parks, but reading in the hammock off your cottage's back porch.

2) Exactly the opposite - no cabin, but your visa is stamped full. You've seen the corners of the world, eaten numerous bugs, and spent time in an Indonesian jail after what you're calling a "misunderstanding".

Up dere on the thumb

Although I'm not writing the name of my new school, you can do some detective work if you want to. My copy of Faith Builds a Chapel by Winifred Boynton (1st ed., 1953) came today, and although I haven't read it today, it's a really stunning addition to my bookshelf. 10"x13", gilted edges, set-in color illustrations, full-page pencil drawings - just stunning.

The story of its relation to my new school is really fascinating. Go to work, Sherlock.

Amazon has a few used copies available if you want your own.

Reject me all day, I don't mind

I just received the warmest rejection letter (from a pool of many) from a department that I won't name, other than to say that maybe the mountain views mellow everyone there out. Mine is one of 100+ they're sending, but I feel so special after reading it.

"Dear J.Bro:

I'm writing to let you know that we've extended an offer in our search for a faculty position in International Relations. We received many strong applications and our decision was quite difficult at every step of the process. Unfortunately, we were not able to include you in our list of finalists.

I know it's a difficult year on the job market. I hope you can appreciate that the department was impressed by many of the applications. Having received more than a few such letters over my career, I take no pleasure in sending so many out.

I wish you the best in your pursuit of a tenure-track position. Our review of these applications has reminded me how vital and deep the scholarly study of politics is in this country. Frankly, I'm inspired, and I wish you the best in your job search.


Chair and Rejector Extraordinaire"

As most of you know by now, though, I've already accepted a fantastic position at another university - at least as good as the one I would have drawn up for myself if given a blank slate. No only is it a great school, but we'll still be in the midwest, so my daughter will get to moan about heat-haze in the summer and pull on my beardsicles in the winter. I haven't decided how much to write about the new position (which is why I'm being intentionally vague here), but I'll say this for now - this would be an amazing house for $300K (but even better for $140K).

Almost as bad as Wichita

Even though I've only posted, like, twice this month, I don't consider myself a lazy blogger. You know what lazy bloggers do? They just post Onion stories and add a pithy comment, and I'm better than that.

Most of the time. But sometimes you click an Onion link from cnn.com, then a story from the archives happens to randomly pop up on the sidebar, and you just have to post that story because it's satire, but it's so totally not satire at all.

I give you: Rural Nebraskan Not Sure He Can Handle Frantic Pace of Omaha (1/17/01)

"Don't get Fred started on Omaha," friend Ken Carlson said. "He's always resented Amy for going there. They're a lot less close now than they used to be, and Fred feels it's because she's gotten a bit of an attitude since moving to the big city, like she's superior or something."

"Let's just say the glamour of city life has changed [Amy]," Linder said. "She's definitely 'gone Omaha,' if you catch my drift."

Linder has visited the Nebraska metropolis three times in his life, most recently in 1996 for a farm-equipment show.

"I prepared plenty well before that trip, you better believe," Linder said. "I bought a money belt and travelers' checks to protect myself from all those Omaha pickpockets and con men. And I made sure I had a full tank of gas before going, because I sure as heck wasn't about to pay Omaha prices for gas."

Linder said he has no plans to visit his sister in Omaha anytime soon.

How much of a letdown are you?

You don't even send holiday cards, do you? For shame! Look at these from Ted Sears, an early Disney animator - now he knew how to send a Christmas card! (I read about them on Daddytypes, because yes, I read new-dad blogs).
Wow. Ted Sears was an animator and the first head of the story department at Walt Disney Studios. According to his IMDb bio, he was very influential in the adoption by the film industry of storyboards. He wrote the lyrics to Peter Pan ["We're following the leader, the leader, the leader."] And for years, until his death in 1958, he and his wife Vee--and eventually, their daughter Marcia--made insanely elaborate Christmas cards using props, collage, trick photography, and other techniques.

What district is the North Pole in?

A question from another blog - is Santa a Republican or a Democrat?

From my comment there - On one hand, he's clearly an egalitarian when it comes to charitable contributions. He's also pretty secular. On the other hand, though, he runs a pretty big factory, and I've never heard of an elf-union. Tough question, JT - no wonder you were confused!

Cashmere Update: soft as a baby's guilty conscience

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what I thought were knock-off cashmere scarves at the giant mall by my apartment. Well, the Burberry tags are definitely fake, but apparently the cashmere is real - real enough to cause me all kinds of eco-guilt.

This is the story of how your sweater pollutes the air you breathe and how the rise of China shapes the world.

The country's enormous herds of cashmere-producing goats have slashed the price of sweaters. But they also have helped graze Chinese grasslands down to a moonscape, unleashing some of the worst dust storms on record. This fuels a plume of pollution heavy enough to reach the skies over North America, including Washington state.

The Wall Street Journal argues it would be worth it to move the decimal point one digit to the right for any future scarf purchases I have planned. Guess whether this snippet is about an Italian company that makes $950 sweaters or the kiosk at my local mall:
The yarn was then shipped to the Cucinelli factory, which is in a 17th-century castle. Each of its 1,500 employees has a key, says Mr. Caronna. They work each day from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., breaking for a 90-minute lunch. Many go home for lunch, but Mr. Caronna says that those who stay are served a free three-course meal cooked up by three local women who shop for fresh groceries every morning. Employees return to work from 2:30 until 6 p.m. and then head home.

Today was a good day - nay, a great day

Evidence: Check out these boots I found at the Saver's two blocks from my apartment. They're not LL Bean boots - they're better, because they're Sorels and Sorel is the Canadian company that LL Bean ripped off the design from. The leather laces are aged to buttery-smoothness and the leather uppers have so much character they tell stories about chasing arctic deer across the tundra. Now they're going to live with me in Wisconsin for a while.


Almost to a fault, I do my homework for my interviews. I say it's to a fault because, so far, I've inevitably been getting my hopes way up. I'm leaving Sunday morning to interview at a place where I could buy the house below, which is about two blocks from campus, for under $110,000. M.Bro said she almost stared crying (with happiness, I assume) when I showed her the pictures. From the listing:

Cozy home with lots of charm and many updates. Hardwood floors, open stairway, three sets of french doors, fireplace, beautiful woodwork, newer appliances. There is a three season room and a nice deck overlooking a large landscaped yard. Newer furnace and roof; plus great finished space in clean dry recreational room.

The furniture in the bottom picture would get burned in the fireplace before we unpacked the first box, but check out the brick fireplace! And French doors to the screened-in porch! Which I'll call the sun-room! And other French doors to the back yard! Which I'll probably just call the back yard! To distinguish it from the front yard! Two yards!

I would show you the site with the rest, but I don't want you to swoop in and buy it from under me. You housing-market vultures.

Douchebags in the Mist

Can you use "douchebags" in a major newspaper? I guess you can. I'm particularly willing to allow it if when the term is used to describe those to adopt the style fondly-called American Jackass (AmJack, for short, since you'll have to use it so often). If your name is TOWWAS, read closely - there's some real science up in here. Am I right, brah?

Untucked bold-striped dress shirts? Check. Distressed bootcut jeans with back pocket stitching resembling a peacock's plumage? Check. Square-toed Kenneth Coles in gloss-black? Double-check. Let's hit the clubs, broseph.

Interested in more douchebaggery? I highly recommend the blog Hot Chicks with Douchebags. The first part of that is debatable about 50% of the time, but the second is scientific fact, broheim.