September 18, 2004

Coming soon to a state near you

the 1st leg of my tripSome time today, I'll be departing on the first leg of my roadtrip, the one where I leave Syracuse in the rear view and visit Thomas and Jenny at Purdue.

Psychologically, I think I've been ready to go for almost a month now. Of course, in every other way, it's taken me a bit of time to prepare, not the least of which has been "finishing" the manuscript. Figuring out how much stuff I'll need for a 2-month trip has also been something of a challenge, as has figuring out how little planning I can get away with. It's been tough not to commit to specific dates, but I think I've held out pretty well in that regard. I don't really know yet where all I'll go, what all I'll do, or who all I'll see, but I can say with near certainty that I won't be here, and that it will be fun.

September 20, 2004


Total Miles: 717
Miles to Date: 717
Number of States Visited: 4
Number of State Troopers Avoided: 7

Arrived in Lafayette yesterday evening at around 5:00 or so. I left Syracuse Saturday night, but didn't end up driving through the night--my sleep schedule has actually cycled back to something resembling normality, and so late-night driving wears me down faster than usual.

First visit to Thomas and Jenny in their new house on Sandpiper Ct. Maybe later today, I'll try out my new FlickR account and post a photo or two. Right now, I'm blogging from Purdue, where I just ran into Charlie, who sounds like he's taken to the professional writing program here like a fish to water. He's working on really interesting stuff here.

Not much else to report. We're hitting a coffeeshop this afternoon, where I'll probably put in a couple of hours of reading and note-taking while Thomas and Jenny work on the stuff they've got to do. Maybe an entry from there if I'm in the mood.

September 22, 2004

Thomas & Jenny's house

Thomas & Jenny's house

Thomas & Jenny

Thomas & Jenny

We say slumber, you say party

the 2nd leg of my trip

I must be getting old. Three nights with Thomas and Jenny, and each night, I think I fell asleep before midnight. It's not like I was getting up all that early or anything. Part of it, I suppose, was the fact that they both teach morning classes. But the W. Lafayette police weren't receiving any complaints from the neighbors about late-night rowdiness, that's for sure.

Next up, in just a little bit, is one of shorter legs of the journey, from Lafayette to Davenport, which should only take me 5 hours or so, depending on how bad the traffic around Chicago is. It's never that great, but some times are worse than others...

Oh, and the previous two entries are courtesy of my new FlickR account. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll send you an invite...

September 23, 2004


Total Miles: 254
Miles to Date: 971
Speed Zones: 11 (counting Peoria)
Dairy Queens: 6
Chicago traffic related headaches: 0
Number of States Visited: 6

Got in last night, although the graphic of my trip was a little off. I ended up taking state highway 24 almost due west out of Lafayette, and avoided both the interstate and Chicago altogether. Ended up catching 74 outside of Peoria and winding up to the QC that way. Mileage-wise, it was a little shorter, but time-wise, about the same length. I'd much rather slow down for small towns than for teeth-grindingly slow rush hour gridlock, though, so it was a pretty fair trade.

I'm in D'port for a couple of days, and then it's down to Texas. More soon...

September 24, 2004

The house I grew up in

The house I grew up in

The two windows in the upper right corner? That'd be my room, for as long as I can remember. We moved here when I was two or so, and it's interesting to see old photos of the neighborhood, which was pretty undeveloped at the time. We used to be on the developing edge of Davenport, but that's long since moved on to other parts of the city...

The Mom I grew up with

The Mom I grew up with

I think I've mentioned that my mother is the Marketing Director for the local symphony here in Davenport. Well, this is my mom, and my mom's office. I went downtown today to have lunch with my other mom (my dad's 2nd wife), and stopped off at the Symphony office to (a) park, and (b) do a little photographing...

Theo's Java Hut

Theo's Java Hut

This was my first coffeehouse, or at least the first one where I became a regular. This was back during the early 90s, when I was deciding whether or not to return to grad school (having been pretty burnt out by my first stint). In fact, one of the baristas here, Robin, became a really good friend and talked through it all with me, ultimately helping me decide. I think Robin has since gotten married, and may still live in the QC, but I don't recall her last name (it used to be McAteer, I think).

Anyhow, Ted (the owner) was one of the first people to try and open a new business in what at the time was a pretty depressed downtown area. Now, downtown D'port thrives, with all sorts of new construction, and the tearing down of all the old, dark, brick buildings replacing them with much lighter, more modern looking structures. New restaurants, new shops, new life. It's a much different place from the one I left about ten years ago...

September 26, 2004



In addition to these handy plaques detailing Iowa's history (in this case, the various "utopian experiments" in this part of the state), Iowa rest stops are supplied with wireless networks, which is where you're getting both this photo and the commentary. Very strange. It's hard for me to imagine that someone would be so desperate for a connection that they'd actually trot out a laptop at the rest stop. Then again, that's what I'm doing now. I'm on I-35 S, a hop skip from the Missouri border....

September 27, 2004

The house I didn't grow up in

The house I didn't grow up in

Here's the Mayoral compound, home to my dad and other mom, who have just recently discovered that I have a blog. What you'll be able to see from the next picture is that they have a truly spectacular view of the Mississippi. What you won't be able to see is that they've renovated this house from top to bottom, back to front, and done amazing stuff with it.

the Mississippi

the Mississippi

Here's that view I referred to in my last caption. To the right of the house (as you face it from the street) they've got a side patio, and that's where I'm taking this picture from. It's also where I took the obligatory parental photo that follows this one...



I think my dad would look happier here were he not scanning the backyard anxiously for chipmunks. The backyard is basically a hill, which he's terraced with walls, and which the chipmunks constantly undermine. Okay, so maybe he doesn't look that anxious. This was on Saturday, by the way, before we went out to eat. We'd just finished watching Iowa embarrass themselves on national TV. Ugh. One other note: Brent Musberger is the biggest front-running homer of an announcer I've ever had the displeasure to listen to. Iowa's Ed Hinkel had a spectacular one-handed end zone grab, so spectacular in fact that it was one of ESPN's top 10 highlights of the weekend. It wasn't, however, a sufficiently high enough light to be considered as one of the big plays of the first half. It would have interfered with footage of the Michigan cheerleaders, the Michigan band, the Michigan fans, or Musberger's praise of the Michigan players, I suppose. (Don't even talk to me about Syracuse's performance on Saturday, btw.)

A slightly longer leg

the third leg of my trip

Forgot to post this yesterday, but better late than never. I'm currently in the middle of this leg, somewhere just past Emporia, Kansas, in a Holiday Inn Express with free wireless (or rather, with wireless built into the room price when compared to nearby competitors). Close to the halfway point. I think this leg will just about double my miles to date, but I'll know for sure when I hit Austin tomorrow.

September 28, 2004


Miles: 1113
Miles to Date: 2109
Casino billboards: 18
Southbound billboards for "Robertson's Ham Sandwiches" in a 1-mile stretch: 5
Number of seconds I was tempted by Robertson's Ham Sandwiches: @30
Number of States visited: 10

Mileage-wise, I spent more time in Texas yesterday than I did in Oklahoma. Karma-wise, however, it felt like I was born, raised, and died in Oklahoma before I got out. I now have an answer to the question of whether there is any more godforsaken stretch of road than I-65 from Indianapolis to Chicago. There is. It runs for about 200 miles, right after you get off the Kansas Turnpike, and about 50 miles before you get to Texas. Bad roads, no rest stops, and brown grass as far as the eye can see. Yuck. And unlike other states, where there are things like gas stations and restaurants, in Oklahoma, there was one place that actually advertised its "convenient I-35 access"--it was within sight of the interstate, you see. Every time I refueled, I had to drive 3-4 miles out of the way to get to a grungy place, stocked almost entirely with Dr. Pepper. Cases and cases and shelves and shelves of Dr. Pepper. I've got nothing personal against the good doctor, but he doesn't make my travel beverage of choice.

Well, at least it's over. I'm now in Austin for a spell, and once I get my laptop to recognize my camera, I'll throw up a couple of shots taken from the "Scenic Turnout" that I took in celebration of having made it through the grim of central Oklahoma.

September 30, 2004

As promised

As promised

This was the view back towards the road from the "scenic turnout" about 40 or so miles from the Texas border.

Oklahoma hills

Oklahoma hills

I know, Ansel Adams I am not, but Oklahoma didn't look so bad to me once I was just about to leave it.

October 7, 2004

Jenny & Shiva 1

Jenny & Shiva 1

I didn't want to wait too long to get pics of Jenny and Shiva up here. Jenny's currently at Watson, but she has grudgingly approved a couple of these pictures.

Jenny & Shiva 2

Jenny & Shiva 2

As I think is probably apparent, we had some trouble coordinating cats, open eyes, and smiles.

October 11, 2004

Tucumcari, NM

the fourth leg of my trip
Total Miles: 449
Miles to Date: 2880

On the road again...

I left Dallas Monday morning, heading west. I'd hoped to make it all the way to Taos in one go, planning on staying there a night, and moseying around for most of the day. As I hit New Mexico, though, I was more tired than I'd figured, and I hit a fairly steady rain, which made conditions less than ideal. So I pulled up and stayed the night in Tucumcari, not the least reason for which was that I liked the name.

The Texas leg of my trip was lo-o-o-o-ong, but on the bright side, there were a couple of pretty solid rest stops along US 287, which runs from Dallas to Amarillo. The first one was about 10 miles south of a town called Quanah (I think), and as I was heading back to my car, I was intercepted by the attendant. Turned out that he lived in Quanah, and his ride was 30 minutes late, so he wanted to know if I could give him a ride. We talked the whole time, without exchanging names (?), and it turned out that he had just moved to this little dinky town in Texas from Oakland, where he was in the process of taking a second crack at building a life for himself (he was 44). He ended up there because he had helped someone get there from California, and this woman's family helped him find a job, get a loan to help with his credit, etc. We talked a little about my trip, too, and by that time, we were where he needed to be.

About eighty miles later, there was another pretty nice rest stop. So I get out of my car, and walk towards the restrooms. As I do so, I walk past a pickup truck, and a middle-aged, red-haired woman who's clearly walking back to it. A conversation ensues:

She: Are you the New York boy?
Me, after a brief pause: That's me.
She: You're a long way from home...
Me: Yes. Yes I am.

I'm sure she must have passed me and noticed the plate, but I suppose there's also the possibility that New Yorkers are so rare in the ol' "Panhandle Plains" that word of my trespass preceded me.

Here come some pictures.

October 12, 2004

getting my kicks

getting my kicks

Here's the view from Rte. 66. I think I'm heading north towards Las Vegas, NM, at this point.

heading towards Taos

heading towards Taos

This is Eagle's Nest, a small town located in between the two difficult stretches leading to Taos.

NM-CO Border

NM-CO Border

There's another of those "scenic overlooks" just past the border into Colorado. The light was fading, but I did stop and snap a few.

October 13, 2004

another border shot

another border shot

I was incredibly lucky, I think, to hit this part of the country in October. All day long, it was in the low 60s and sunny, and all the trees were changing color. The entire drive, from about Las Vegas (NM) on, was simply gorgeous.

Pueblo, CO

Total Miles: 377
Miles to Date: 3257

I'm now in Pueblo, Colorado, which is where I'm posting both this entry and the last one, as well as the various pictures in between.

Got up fairly early this morning, with the idea that I would get to Taos in time for some lunch and some shopping. It took me a little longer than I'd planned. Yahoo maps tells you that it's roughly 70 miles or so from I-25 to Taos, and calculates the mileage as if you're averaging about 65 mph. What it doesn't tell you is that a good 30 miles of the trip to Taos is composed of narrow, mountainous, 2-lane highways filled with 30 mph squiggles and 20 mph switchbacks. I left Tucumcari thinking I'd get to Taos by about 11, and didn't actually make it until 1. Part of that was my fault, stopping for photos, but part of it was that the road to Taos is actually a pretty tough drive. I was happy that my car was fairly fresh, but even then it struggled a bit. There were stretches where I was literally slalomming up and down hills with frequent turns.

Still, it was gorgeous, and worth the trip. Since I was basically doing the tourist thing myself, I can't get too down on a town that's made such a central space for tourism. I did what I could to talk with the shopkeepers, though, and found out that there were actually quite a few New Yorkers there. I chatted up the guy who was "on duty" at an artists' co-op, and it turned out that (a) he sells a lot of his work to people from NY, and (b) he got a degree from Cornell in the early 80's. Yeah, I bought a small print of his, along with a few other things. A lot of small purchases for me, and a couple of mid-sized ones. Had some lunch at a local place that looked overpriced, but actually ended up being pretty good.

I did a little better job leaving Taos than I did getting there, but still it was a pretty tense drive. Not only is it winding road, but in a lot of places, you're a couple of feet from a pretty long drop. Combine that with the daredevils who push at you from behind, and it was a tense trip in and out. Once I got back to I-25, I managed a couple more hours of straightaway (albeit up and down quite a bit), before pulling up in Pueblo. Tomorrow, I'll be turning right at Denver, and making an I-80 run to Iowa.

[On a somewhat different note, maybe this service exists and I just don't have the energy to track it down tonight. But I'm less than satisfied with the fact that neither Yahoo nor Mapquest allows someone to input multiple points on a trip. I can get maps for Tucumcari to Taos and Taos to Pueblo, but not Tucumcari to Pueblo with a side-trip. Does anyone out there know of a multi-point trip tracker?]

Just south of Denver

Just south of Denver

rest stop

rest stop

Yes, that is snow on the roof of the little cabin to the right. Hard to believe that a little over a week ago, I was complaining about the high temperatures down in Austin.

Lexington, NE


Total Miles: 439
Miles to Date: 3726

It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing eloquent about how lucky I was to be in New Mexico this time of the year. That's mainly because I hadn't yet had the experience of being in Colorado this time of year. Leaving Pueblo, it was sunny and in the low 50s. About an hour later, the temperature reading outside my car declined steadily into the high 30s, I saw snow dripping off cars, and I spent the next 400 miles or so being buffeted by serious winds. Ugh.

It felt like I drove much further than 400-odd miles today, mainly because the whole leg involved me gripping the wheel tensely, and hoping that a semi didn't wobble or weave at the wrong moment. Through most of the first half of Nebraska, I was treated to several rainbows, which would have been nice but for the fact that they came at the end of several cloudbursts. Blue skies to my left, blue skies to my right, but for most of the afternoon, I was driving straight into thunderclouds.

I haven't been sleeping that well lately, so I went a little lighter on the caffeine today, and as a result, spent most of the day yawning uncontrollably (just did it again). Hopefully, though, that'll help, that and the fact that I didn't really relax until I got out of my car this evening. I've got about 500 miles or so left until I hit Davenport, which I should do sometime tomorrow night. I'll have to make sure and keep myself from stopping by habit at the local Hampton Inn.

Until then...

October 14, 2004

Is this heaven?

Well, no, but it does have wifi, which means that even though I've got a couple of hundred miles to go, I feel irresistibly compelled to post an entry, despite the fact that I have next to nothing to report from the road at the moment.

I can tell you that there were more road crews along I-80 in the eastern half of Nebraska than I encountered in 4 different states (counting the west half of Nebraska as a state) previously. Seemed like every ten miles we were slowing down to 55. Ugh.

No pictures to post, either. Just imagine being able to see miles in every direction. Got it? Okay. Now imagine everything the color of hay. Welcome to Nebraska and the western part of Iowa. I exaggerate, but only a little. At least today isn't windy.

Back to the road. That is all.

The compulsion continues

Just outside of Des Moines now, and have spent part of this mini-leg wondering why the noun form of compel is compulsion. Why not compelsion? Or compulled?

I also participated in a little Presidential straw poll. There was a couple from Nebraska who, as they passed me, held up a Kerry/Edwards sign in the window, and then asked me for a thumbs up or down. They seemed pretty happy with my answer, but then they had a K/E sticker on their car. A few minutes later, I passed someone with a variety of anti-abortion bumper stickers on their rusted-out van, and I'm pretty sure that this person cancelled me out.

I've had cause to reflect upon how little I like grooved pavement. It always makes me feel as though I've got less control over my car than I actually do.

I also discovered at this rest stop that there are 44 "fun spots" in Iowa, where folks can partake of "boogying."

Finally, I think that there's a piece of Colorado tumbleweed stuck to the underside of my car.

Oh, that wasn't the last one. Down at Lori's, I found out that her mom and I share a compulsion. When we're in cars, we cannot help but read signs, often out loud. I don't think I'm breaking a vow of silence when I say that Lori and Lana find this terribly annoying. Fortunately for Lori, and others around me, I don't usually vocalize my reading, so she had no idea that I had the same habit (until I told her). I have noticed myself doing it on this trip, though. There's just something about all those words, just crying out to be read. Last night, as I was winding into Lexington, I saw a billboard well off the highway to the left, and as I passed it, I couldn't make out all the text on it, and felt mildly insulted to be teased like that.

Oh yes. I'm just a barrel of fun in the car, especially after a couple thousand miles. Davenport soon. That is all.

October 15, 2004

Davenport, IA (again)

the seventh leg of my trip
Total Miles: 522
Miles to Date: 4248

The miles, they keep on climbing. I'm back in Iowa now, and wondering WTF I could have been thinking. I packed a duffel full of shorts and t-shirts, and brought 2 pairs of jeans and a couple of sweatshirts, "just in case." Hmmmm, just in case I found myself in the upper midwest in late October? When the temp rarely climbs much above 50? Maybe summer will last until November? Clever, clever boy. Argh.

On another note, I added another little tool to the sidebar. They're called HitMaps, and I heard about them over at Monkeymagic. Basically this service reads the IP addresses of visitors, and plots them all on a world map, increasing the size of the dots as the number of visitors at that location grows. I suspect that it's more useful for "long tail" sites like this one than it would be for power bloggers, but it's a nifty little visualization tool, and it verifies my hunch about how popular I am in Australia.

I've got a couple of other entries to post, but I think this one is finished. I'll be in Iowa for a couple of weeks, resting up and preparing for the Convergences conference in NC at the beginning of November. Maybe a day trip or two in the interim.

October 31, 2004

Mom's costume

Mom's costume

No disguise for me, but the QC Symphony held a Halloween Pops Concert this year, and all of the symphony folk dressed up. At first glance, none of my mom's co-workers recognized her.

December 17, 2004

en route

Well, not anymore, technically. I'm back in the heartland, and have more to say once I've slept for more than a couple of hours.

December 20, 2004


Well, more like 20-25% baked. Christmas is coming, which means that the blog gets short shrift, and a Collin's attention is shifted to the Annual Christmas Cookie Bake-Off, where I spend every spare moment preparing a bevy of cookies for Eve, Day, Night, and Snack desserts. Completed so far? Golden cookies, Clove cookies, & Peppermint Fudge. Next up? Chocolate Crinkles, M&M cookies, and Peanut Butter Kisses, all by the end of the day, I hope.

Travel was a little asymmetric this time around. I will grumble until the end of my days about how nothing good is ever preceded by the phrase "lake effect," and that includes the weather in the Buffalo-Erie corridor, which stopped me dead in my increasingly-deepening tracks on Thursday night. And unfortunately, that left me with 12-13 hours of the drive to complete on Friday. Which I did. Johndan talks about Yahoo's claim that they're going to be offering real-time traffic conditions on their maps, which is a mixed bag, as he notes. For my purposes, I'd much rather have a lagged map, one that actually attempts to present conditions in travel time. So for example, when I look at a map, it gives me local conditions where I'm at, and projected conditions for the time I actually hit that area. Sounds a little complicated, but actually, it's probably easier than I think. Not to mention less likely than I would wish.

Back to baking. That is all.

January 3, 2005

Ice storm

Ice storm

I would guess that this happens on the edges of weather fronts, when it's warm enough above to rain (instead of snow) and cold enough below to freeze (instead of drain). The result? A thin, brittle coating that just about dropped me on my butt when I half-skated down the driveway to retrieve the garbage cans today. But when the wind blows hard enough to move the lighter tree branches, you also get a crackle all around you that's one of the signature sounds of winter.

Very cool if all you're doing is peeking your head outdoors to listen (or moving your car into the garage temporarily).

January 13, 2005

La Vie Nomadique

Yes, I am back. Have been for a couple of days.

I woke up this morning to the sounds of people in my apartment. Yike. Fortunately, I suppose, it was the super and the building inspector, come to see that I was sleeping okay. Well, that, or to check on whatever it is that inspectors check.

The downside of unannounced home invasion is that it doesn't give you time to clean the apartment first, though. And, since I spent so much time away from here in the fall, umm...well...not the tidiest apartment in the building. If the mess in my apartment were a matter of homeland security, my door would be registering an alert level of orange. Actually, after an hour or so, it's probably down to yellow, and I'm hoping to settle down to green today before I take a break for lunch. Yeah. My problem is that I tend to go bananas when I'm getting ready for a trip, and so I always come home to an apartment that's messier than normal, but I rarely have the energy post-trip to do anything about it very quickly. Heck, if I've done laundry recently enough, I'll sometimes live out of my suitcase until it's unpacked.

Okay. Back to work. That is all.

January 22, 2005

The wrong kind of adventure

is when you have to spend 45 minutes moving your car less than a block, from one unplowed side of the street to the other unplowed side of the street, because if you don't, you'll get a $35 ticket. And you have to do so when:

Temperature: 3
Wind speed 20-30 mph
Wind Chill: -19
Current Snowfall: 4-6 inches
Depth of drift holding door open: 18-20 inches
Signs of snow stopping: 0

The only silver lining I can imagine here is the fact that my apartment building is about a block away from a Rite-Aid. Granted, it's uphill, but then the return trip is downhill. Granted, I have to cross a major thoroughfare to get there, but when it's this bad out, I can move about as fast as the cars.

March 19, 2005

Home already?

Yes, it's true.

I'm back in Syracuse after spending the majority of my break in semi sunny San Francisco. Got off the plane a couple of hours ago, and am psyching up for the longest uninterrupted sleep I've had in a few months now.

Tomorrow, look for some post-dated CCCC observations, and in the meantime, safe travels to all of those who stuck around in SF today to close the conference...

July 7, 2005

You can't see me

At least for a few days. I'm gearing up for my annual summer road trip, which this year includes stops at Penn State, Columbus, Lafayette, Chicago, and Davenport.

Laundry's done, mail's turned off, laptop's charged, iPod's updated, car is gassed. What else? Oh yeah, I have to give a paper on Tuesday. Wouldn't hurt to see if I can't get that written.

My plan is to try and be a little better about documenting the conference, both via Flickr and blogging sessions. Fortunately, that's at the beginning of the trip, before I get tired of lugging the laptop everywhere. I'll also have at least a couple of other people to help--Jenny and Jeff will be at Penn State as well. So, expect some session blogging as well as some pix from the Penn State Conference, but don't expect much action here in the next couple of days...

July 21, 2005

Another Day, Another Drought

Not much to report from the road, although I am now settled into Davenport for a couple of weeks visiting the family. On the local news, they've taken to labeling this The Drought of 2005. It's hot hot hot and for the most part has been dry dry dry. We had a little rain yesterday, but it didn't do much more than turn the QC into a sauna. At 10 last night, the heat index was a cool 100 degrees, between the heat and the humidity.

Access is intermittent, so I've fallen out of the blogging habit a touch. Mostly, it's been bits and pieces, none of which really has called out for its own entry:

  • I learned recently that, a few months from now, I'll become an uncle for the first time.
  • At least one sometime reader will be excited to learn that Avril Lavigne is playing here in the QC on Saturday. Most regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I won't be in attendance.
  • Spent last weekend with Thomas & Jenny, and it would be a mild understatement to say that we geeked out. I watched both the miniseries pilot and the first full season of Battlestar Galactica. And all I can say is wow. If you're a fanboy or fangirl and you're not watching BSG, you're missing out on the heir to the TV throne. You may giggle, and rightfully so, at the thought of Glen Larson's Cylons, but nothing of that 70s crapfest will prepare you for the sophisticated 2004-5 incarnation of the show. Smart smart stuff.
  • Jodie came through Tuesday on her way to Idaho, and we caught Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that night. It's an excellent movie which doesn't vary much from the original story, except where it must. Wonka is supplied with a little more motivation, and honestly, a better actor in Depp, and the movie is much more polished. I didn't really feel compelled to weigh in on the whole Michael Jackson debate, although I could definitely see why others do.

The only other, somewhat ongoing, piece of news is that my mom, my dad and stepmom, and my brother and sister-in-law are all putting their homes on the real estate market right now. In the case of my mom, this has meant a journey to the center of the earth (the Basement), the place where the collected memory of the first 18 years of my life used to reside. As I told Jodie, I spent a fair portion of Tuesday throwing away my childhood. Merciless. No, I won't ever need my high school letters from band, debate or soccer. Gone. No, I won't ever need a cassette tape of Simple Minds, Crowded House, or Madness. Gone. No, I won't ever wear that Swatch again. Gone. No, I don't plan on putting high school debate trophies on the mantle that I may one day have. Gone. No, I don't have a use for the ratty stuffed animals that I slept with when I was 6. Gone. And so it goes.

It sounds a little sad, I suppose, but it really hasn't been. It's been pretty easy to set aside stuff that I haven't wanted or needed for close on to twenty years now, and it makes me feel a little lighter in the life department. That's not a bad thing.

August 5, 2005

The Pilgrim's Regress

The return trip to NY began yesterday with nary a hitch. As is almost always the case, though, I overestimated my ability to time my trip with any sort of accuracy. I never quite get going when I think I will, and as a result, I'm always a little behind my estimates in terms of arrival times.

Ah well. It's worth noting that, in some bizarre, cosmic instance of symmetry, on the way through Illinois to Iowa, I stopped to visit Deb H (Holdstein) in Dekalb for what would have been lunch had I not been so late. And on my way through Illinois to Indiana, I stopped to visit Deb H (Hawhee) in Urbana for what indeed turned out to be lunch. Is there anyone other than me reflecting upon the fact that Illinois has a monopoly on Deb H's in our field? Maybe not.

Although I was running late out of Urbana, I got to Lafayette just in time for the dinner plans: Jenny, Thomas, and I had dinner with Janice Lauer last night. The place we went was a little loud, but the food was good, as were the stories.

And so now, I'm in IN for a few more days. There are a couple of posts out there that I was thinking about commenting on, but we'll see. I'm going to try and do some writing over the next couple--whether any of it will show up here is uncertain.

August 7, 2005

You catch more flies with Collin...

From the department of Largely Useless Observations, I should note that, for the past two days, both trips to coffeeshops have entailed virtually non-stop harrassment of me by flies. Apparently, the more annoyed I get, the sweeter I taste. If this is the case, then I am rapidly approaching Death by Chocolate status.

Only slightly less frivolously, I'd like to officially second Ze Frank's recommendation of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek." If you're like me, and you don't see the harm in a 99-cent tryout at the iTunes music store, then you should go download it. Now. I'll be picking up the album soon, I'm sure.

That is all.

August 12, 2005

The end of the road

It's been one of those weeks where, every day it seems, I think of about two or three things I could blog about, either individually or in a miscellany post, and I don't quite get around to it. Let's face it, when my reason for choosing not to blog is that Shiva is sleeping in Jenny's desk chair, clearly I'm not all that interested in blogging to begin with.

The problem with these kinds of weeks is that you hit a point where the number of things you have to blog about simply exceeds the energy you have to devote to the process, and that also keeps me from doing it. I got into town on Wednesday night, and went to my apartment, newly carpeted and painted during my temporary relocation. That was nice, but the downside is that my entire life is boxed and stacked against various walls. Nothing was in the right place, and I have enough stuff (and a small enough place) that arranging it is almost an all-or-nothing sort of deal, one of those "in order to move this, I have to move that, which means I have to move that, which involves moving that" and so on. Ugh. This means at least a week and maybe more of heavy lifting and shoving just to return my living and working spaces to a state where I can start to feel comfortable.

Needless to say, I celebrated by basically ignoring this situation for two days. And by not blogging about it. I don't typically use this space to work through my various mood swings, so the fact that I'm here now probably means that I'm slowly starting to overcome the depression-inducing, warehouse-resembling qualities of my apartment. Last night, I moved 20 boxes of books into semi-storage, having marked the ones while packing that were most immediately unpackable. Maybe tonight I'll arrange bookcases where they're supposed to be so I can empty some boxes. This is made more likely by the fact that my cable appears to be turned off at the moment.

And of course, the upshot of all this is that it's been exceedingly difficult to put a happy face on when people ask me how it feels to be back after my trip. Umm...

That's all.

October 15, 2005

On a Cingular 1-day pass

I need to remind myself, for the umpteenth time, that I'm not really the sort of person who likes to worry about catching a ride. And so, when I scheduled my return trip to Syracuse at 1:45 with the idea that I might be able to do something Saturday morning, I was basically fooling myself. Some two hours in advance of my departure, I'm sitting here in Penn Station, having ponied up for what amounts to a 2-hour wifi pass, so that I can do something other than stare at the other poor souls in the waiting area. I always hate myself for scheduling early departure times on trains, planes, etc., but I guess I need to remember that the only difference between early and later times is the amount of time I'll spend waiting.

Still, I've gotten caught up on my feeds, and a couple of days of email, and if I'm feeling frisky, I might even get a little reading done on the train for Tuesday's class.

The presentation seemed to go well--several people came up over the course of the day to tell me so. To me, it felt a little uneven--especially when I'm not working with a script, I tend to wobble, get nervous, lose vocabulary, and change my mind about what I'm saying almost as I'm saying it. I'm not saying that all that happened yesterday (well, except for the nervous part), but...

If I can, I'll get a slidecast up of it while it's still relatively fresh, but if you'd like to know what it was about, try this. Visit Kathleen's AOIR writeup first--the people that the presenters were talking about were the ones I spoke to yesterday. Too early to tell if anything will result by way of contacts/projects, but I did swap cards with a woman from Atypon, the company working on AnthroSource (see Speaker 2 of KF's writeup), and I'm crossing my fingers.

My talk was a mix of Web 2.0, Long Tail, and social bookmarking, and I think that I'm onto something in this regard. As I explained CCCO to people, it seemed to make sense to them, and I think that it's a model that will scale up. We'll see. In addition to 'casting my talk, I have it in mind to do a little geegaw on social bookmarking, sort of a "why is it important for educators?" thing. Seems to me that I saw someone a week or so asking for such, and I think I have a point or two to make. Maybe that's something else I'll hammer out on the train today.

That's about all I have at the moment. I'm gonna empty a few more feeds, maybe get some brunch, and hit the train.

March 14, 2006

The lesser of three travels

So I'm getting myself together to leave in the near future for my annual trip to the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Rather than regale you with tales of catching up on my bills or my laundry (both of which have commanded my attention today), I thought I might express my annual regret that I must go to CCCC instead of, say, ETech or SXSW, both of which command the attention of the blogerati this time of year. Not that there's anything wrong per se with CCCC--I always learn a little something, and I see a lot of people with whom I would otherwise fall out of touch. It's a visceral reminder for me of the academic community that I've chosen to join.

And yet. I can't help but feel that my interests and my inspirations would be better served at one of these other conferences. I envy Laura, who is/was down in Austin for SXSW. And I share her sense that "that education needs to catch up a little bit to this world." But I'm also struck by the outsider-ness of her post, because I've experienced that myself on more than a few occasions. I want to feel like there's a middle space, between the mercenary collisions of acronym people and the (at times) oblivious pokiness of the academy when it comes to these things. I think that there are conversations out there that are just waiting to be held, conversations that take the potential of these ideas as their jumping off point rather than the painstaking objective of endless wheel-reinventing presentations.

This is how you can tell that it's late, and I'm a little frustrated. I start stacking words and phrases as high as I can until they start wobbling.

At any rate, some of my frustration has its source in the fact that, unless I somehow move to CA or TX, I won't ever be a regular attendee at either of those conferences. As a humanities scholar, I'm basically priced out of those venues before I even start. The humanities don't get grants, they don't get corporate sponsors, and they don't include lavish travel budgets among the necessities. I can afford to go to Chicago for 4 days, but only because I applied to my college to cover the difference between cost and my normal travel funding allotment. They do so only because I'm giving a presentation--there is no argument I could make for putting a trip to SXSW on the university dime.

It's frustrating to me because I know where Laura's coming from when she despairs of "fighting the fight" of getting our colleagues to see technology and getting the technologists to see us as something other than a cottage industry ripe for takeover.

No grand conclusions or solutions to be found here. I know that there are those among us who would really welcome rich and complicated conversations, but I don't think it's simply a matter of academics being willing. It's also a matter of patience on the part of industry, some faith on their part that there's some long-term good to be had in engaging with us. Maybe there are already those kinds of spaces that I just don't know about. It's frustrating to me, though, not being able to afford to visit the ones I do know about, even as I suspect that I can't afford not to be there.

If that makes sense.

March 27, 2006

CCCC 06 Roundup

I would have posted this a little sooner, but I've spent the last day or so figuring out how I can cast aspersions on a field that I'm only peripherally involved with, reaching the conclusion that the best way to argue that the field is going in the wrong direction is to "cherry-pick" 5 panel titles, out of hundreds, from their annual conference, and then not going to the conference so as not to complicate my thinnnnnest-slice impression (which I'll describe, of course, as a "fair portion" which provides the double-entendre of both representativity and fairness) of what it is that they're doing.

That's all I have to say on that bit of nitwittery.

It was a good conference this year, although I definitely feel older and less able to keep up than I used to. This year's CCCC had the strange distinction of embodying two strange trends: each night, I got to bed later, and each morning I had to get up earlier. If I had stayed one more day, these trends might have passed each other in the wrong direction--I might have had to wake up before I went to bed. Eek.

As far as sessions went, I only hit a few of them, and they were pretty much superstar caliber. I didn't go to anything before Derek's and my performance at the Computer Connection on Thursday, but afterwards, I saw Jim Porter, Catherine Latterell, Dà€nielle Devoss, and Stuart Selber (E.28 Why Plagiarism Makes Sense in the Digital Age: Copying, Remixing, and Composing). It was a solid panel, doing some of the work necessary to bridge our disciplinary (and pretty traditionalist) notions of authorship with the implications of new media. Shockingly enough, after a 7 am breakfast meeting, I caught David Blakesley, Thomas Rickert, and Diane Davis all give really intriguing papers revisiting KB's notion of identification (F.15 The Rhetorics of Identification; Or, Me and You and You and Me, So Happy Together?). All three were strong papers, but I was especially interested in Diane's--the idea that mirror neurons suggest an originary, pre-linguistic "togetherness" which is first broken and then imperfectly healed through identification was (a) a really smart take on neurobiology's implications for rhetoric and (b) a very original challenge to some of our cherished disciplinary assumptions. After a brief pause to fill my body with sugar and caffeine, I went to see Becky Howard, David Russell, and Sandra Jamieson (H.15 Authentic Arguments: Information Literacy and Case Studies in FYC). Becky and I chat IL all the time, but I hadn't seen before the work that Russell was doing to track how students use sources in building arguments. Interesting stuff. Having been up at 6-ish, by the end of their session, I was pretty much wiped, so I skipped on the next 2 sessions plus the other general (the awards one).

(I didn't get to see the morning general session on Thursday, either, although I heard vaguely unflattering things about it, or rather that the Address itself had less than flattering things to say about some of the things that I do. Rather than offer a 4th hand response, I'll wait to see/read a version of it...)

Saturday morning, with my sleep and energy quotients approaching zero, I attended my final session of the conference, K.23 From Panel to Gallery: Twelve Digital Writings, One Installation, and no, I won't list the 12, although several are friends. Being able to walk around the room and futz was perfect for me, though, and there were some really sharp pieces. If I can find the URL, I'll post a link to Tim Richardson's thingamajig, which was a Flash interface that positively hypnotized me. It reminded me of the stories I've heard, and pics I've seen, of SIGGRAPH interface galleries. Cool Cool Cool.

Anyhow, that was my formal CCCC. Counting my own, I went to 5 sessions, which is about right, and I met lots and lots of people and strengthened ties with others. Can't ask for much more.

June 7, 2006

A la Road

If you haven't already gathered that I'm going to be intermittent whilst on the road, then I just don't know what to do with you.

Anyhow, I was thinking today about nothing much in general when I came across Laura's psuedo-signoff. Like the folks leaving comments, I hope that she takes some time off, reconnects with the people around her, and later on (post-diss, perhaps), finds a way to reintegrate blogging into her daily grind.

What strikes me about all this is the degree to which I'm basically the opposite. And I think that's a function largely of my lack of local connections. Asked last night if Iowa still feels like home, or if Syracuse has supplanted it, I ended up with a relatively unsatisfying "neither." It's not a sad nor a happy thing especially, but I was struck today by the fact that I feel more of the burdens and pleasures of connection here than I do in any particular locality. No, I'm not going to start waxing on about how this space is my home--it isn't. I don't feel anchored to any particular place. I have ties, and lots of them, to people and places, I suppose, but none of them seems to bear the weight in my head that's signified by "home."

I sympathize with and sometimes even envy those with a strong feeling of home, and I don't discount the possibility that I'll feel it myself at some point. And I'm fully willing to acknowledge that the fact that I'm currently traveling may have more than a little to do with how I'm feeling lately. Right now, I feel a little ghostly, floating around the country, not really tethered.

Like I said, it's not a good or bad thing. Just describes how I'm feeling at the time.

September 9, 2006

As for where I was for the last 48 hours

This should explain it.

Yes, that's me 1/4 responsible for keeping the chuppah adequately aloft.

Congratulations, Jeff & Jenny!!

March 26, 2007

4 Cs, 4 days, 16 panels

Inspired in part by Donna's theme review of CCCC:

CCCC 07 summed up in 16 panels

There was more to it than that, to be sure, but as far as my presentation went, at the risk of sounding like I'm fishing for sympathy, having a featured presentation on Saturday afternoon was a lot like being called up to the big leagues the day after one's team is knocked out of competing for the playoffs. Hard to know when or if I'll be back.

I continue to be grateful to Cheryl Glenn for the opportunity, grateful to those good people who did come, and grateful to Derek and Deb, whose presentations were excellent. And I'll go ahead and screencast my talk this week, for all of those who couldn't make it.

I may post a little more about the conference over the next couple of days as well. What won't I post about? The squawking that Alex references that's going on right now over whether or not it's better to read or speak.

That's all, except to note that I did this with Stripgenerator 1.0.1)

Update: You can find both my slides and Derek's at We'll both have screencasts soon as well.

June 21, 2007

Eclectic Youth

A couple of quick interruptions of my (admittedly intermittent) biographical musings. The first is a picture of me and Paul that Jenny posted yesterday. This summer's midwestern swing was like the Tour of Babies, seeing my nephew Patrick and meeting Paul and Vered for the first time each. This is the only photographic evidence of the Tour, however.

Feel free to suggest captions for the photo either here or at JB's.