Saturday, August 24, 2013

The more things change...

I'll be headed down in a little bit for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I'm sad, but not surprised, that we'll be marching for the same damn things they marched for in 1963.

Timidly dipping my toes in the water...

...of blogging with others who (whom? Jesus, I should know this) I find palm-swea-inducing, intimidatingly smart.

Solidcitizen asked me if I wanted to write here, I said yes (all the while frantically trying to quell the butterflies of inadequacy beating the shit out of my innards) so here I am.

Not sure what I'll contribute or how, but I am with company I deeply respect and would love to impress (or at the very least, not embarrass), so I'll try to make it not suck.

Since folks are kind of touching on the job thing, and life changes in general, I think I can jump in on that train of thought, as I've had some BIG life changes in recent years, and am pondering a BIG change in terms of my career as well.

And the lucky seven regular readers (as solid put it) will get to come along for the ride.

More to come. Need to let my brain marinate a little longer, and to probably get over myself a little more.

In the meantime, a meme to sum me up, to some extent:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lex Can Just Keep It To Himself

If you're thinking that a double live album by Jane's Addiction would totally be worth $28, please think again.

Not only does it sound muddy with buried vocals, but Perry Farrell does little bits between the songs that had my lady friend calling him a pretentious asshole. And she's married to me, so she knows from pretentious assholes.


That moment at work where you realize you are working on the right things, but approaching them with all the wrong assumptions.

Consider this a placeholder and a promise of a longer post to come about my philosophical differences with/ideological objections to the work I am doing in my present position.

But, getting back to a conversation we were having earlier, this is a thought I would feel more comfortable completing after we move into our new digs or, if we're staying here at Ye Olde Blogspot, after I adopt a more pseudonymous nom de post.

To be continued...

Four on the Floor


Solidcitizen texted me last night asking me if I'd consider writing again at the OG, and then told me to take a gander. It could have been a Pink-Floyd-minus-Roger-Waters-style nostalgia cash-in, I suppose. But no, the band is truly back together. And it struck me that I actually DID miss the camaraderie and the exercising of the old writing muscle (beyond the strictures of 140 characters) of the way-back-when.

So fuck yeah, I'll start blogging again. And as a tentative first step back into the deep end, I'll let you know what's been in the intervening years (assuming you haven't been able to piece it together).

  1. Worrying about debt - both personally and professionally, to the point where I'm very likely to ask my doctor about Xanax on my next visit.
  2. Parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome - a big joy with some challenges thrown in. Nine times out of ten it manifests as drawing some sort of really smart or profound connection. The tenth is usually a socially inappropriate display. 
  3. Being an engaged member of the community - I'll be honest: it took me a long time to feel connected to our little burg near the Capitol City. Like until last year. But now I really do feel like this is home to me, with good friends and a community of support. It's nice to feel that grounding again. And, like a real live adult, I've become involved in community organizations, like being a member of the board of our pool co-op (which has all the teeth-grinding of a regular governing board with the added irritation of being populated by hippies (including myself in that)).
  4. Indian cooking - my saag paneer and pork vindaloo really do bring all the boys to the yard.
  5. Learning guitar riffs - especially sloppy riffs. You'd be surprised how much fun it is to play 70s era Aerosmith.
It's good to be back.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Today I attended my institution’s first-ever new lecturer orientation. It was kinda awesome for a number of reasons.

First, talk about a good idea that is long overdue. More than two thirds of all instruction on our campus is delivered by lecturers. New tenure-track folks get two full days of orientation, as well as ongoing workshops and support activities throughout their first year. But apparently up until now it was assumed that NTT folks didn’t particularly need any information to acquaint them with campus or one another or any available resources. We need these things, one would assume, like we need a living wage or job security or respect, which is to say, not at all. Lecturers, unlike our tenure-line brethren, are capable of figuring everything out without a lot of hand-holding. That’s why we get paid the big bu…oh. Right. Nevermind…

Anyway, the point I was building up to is that previously getting new lecturers on board was the purview of the hiring department. And, as a former very dis-oriented lecturer, I can tell you that some departments seriously could not care less about this responsibility. When I was hired on in DEPARTMENT X, I got one email about my office assignment and another about where to pick up a key and not one thing more. I had no contract, no information about how to get an ID or activate my email account or access my class roster, no guidelines about university requirements for syllabi or how to order textbooks or how to set up my course in the campus LMS, no information about the technology available in the classrooms or how to use it, no introduction to campus resources for faculty or students. I met exactly one person: the department secretary. I had been teaching for three weeks before I met the woman I thought was the department chair; a week after that I learned that she hadn’t been chair since the following spring., which is probably why she never responded to any of my emails. One month in a meet & greet was planned to introduce the faculty and students to the 2 new TTs and 2 new lecturers. It was scheduled during the time that my class met. My class that met once a week. At night. I learned about the lecturer evaluation procedure when I was informed that my review portfolio, which I had never heard of, was two days late. My contract for the semester showed up in my department mailbox during finals week. So yeah, I’d say some formal mechanism for getting lecturers up and running is pretty fucking vitally necessary.

So, even though I’m not technically new and DEPARTMENT Y, to their credit, takes welcoming new NTT folks much more seriously than that other department, I went to orientation. I met other lecturers! I learned a lot that I didn’t know, even after having taught here previously and working on campus full time since January and learning things secondhand by nature of being a faculty spouse! They let us mingle with the privileged ones at the faculty reception! I got handouts! Useful ones! And invitations to future workshops!

I actually left feeling like a faculty member with a day job instead of…whatever it is that I usually think I am [insert self-deprecating comment here; bonus points for incorporating the words "failed" and "academic"]

Yeah, so it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blogspot Frustration

I am having a dickens of a time blogging on the blogspot on my ipad. I cannot upload photos or youtubes. Any thoughts about transferring to the wordpress? The obvious url seems to be available.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Scene from a SW Coffeshop

Large gentleman in front of me at the Starbucks wearing a bright blue Adidas shirt, shorts, socks, sandals (hey, that's my look!). As he's getting coffee, woman personing the espresso machine says "Hey Frank, how was your weekend?"

The man I take to be named Frank replies, "Oh I had to work on my car this weekend, so not much happening."

"Oh, what's wrong with your car?" the friendly barista asks.

"That's what I had to figure out!" said Frank. "My Infinity was running really rough. Turns out, a friend I lent it to put the wrong kinda gas in it. That's a tastey fix, I tell ya."

This is what I know at this point. Man is named Frank, he dresses casually at 7 in the morning, he is a regular at Starbucks, he drives an Infinity and he has a friend who put gas in the Infinity that is so wrong that Frank had to siphon the gas out. What kind of gas is this? I am wondering.

"Oh, that's horrible," the barista says with an actual measure of concern in her voice.

"Yeah, I got her running, but I gotta change the plugs, I think they're all fouled up from that bad gas. Then I did the front brakes on my Porsche."

"Wow, that's a lot of car repair."

"Yeah, then I replaced the front axel on my Pathfinder."

"How many cars to you have Frank?"

I should point out here that Frank, a man I think I could spend weeks following, observing, and learning from, has taken the lid off the sugar pourer and dumped about a quarter of the container into his 20 ounce coffee (I know it has an Italian name. Not knowing the names of the Starbucks products is the only way I can look myself in the review mirror when I get back in the car), he then adds a health amount of cream, stirs, tastes, and retakes the lid off the surgar to add more. Frank.

"I've got four. My wife has a Mercedes," says Frank.

"We're a three car family," says the barista who has, for reasons more mysterious than that gas conumdrum decided to compete with Frank. "Well, two cars and a scooter."

"Scooters don't count," I hear Frank say as I make my way out the door and into the slightly less colorful world that lies on the outside of my local Starbucks.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Sunday

What is solid up to on this fine Sunday, you are probably asking yourself. I'm making smoked pork neck chili, drinking Modelo Especials, reading the internet, and repeatedly listening to Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor.

 Had a visit from a special lady friend yesterday and went out for drinks with friends. Fine times had.

Lady friend and I went house shopping here in the pdx. This process is complicated by two factors. Given that we have no idea where G might be working when she arrives for good, we don't know where to look. I work in what I call South Portland, so any place remotely cool is a bit of a traffic challenge for me. If she lives here too, well then, Southtown living it is. If, however, she was working in the northern reaches, then we'd be happy to live there.

Complicating factor number 2 is that we are not actually going to be buying a house here anytime soon, so we are less shopping for houses than we are shopping for types of houses in neighborhoods we wouldn't mind living in maybe.

 We were heartend by two things - it's twos today! - one, that of the six houses we walked through, we would have been happy buying four of them. That's slightly not fair in that one of them was at the tippy-top of our price range so "we totally would have bought that amazing house we could only have theoretically afforded" probably shouldn't count.

The second thing that was cool was that lady friend and I were in perfect sync with one another. We liked the same things, we hated the same things, we ranked all the houses the same. I was more willing to dwell on the fruitless nature of ranking houses that are on the market a year before we are actually looking to buy, but it makes the eventual move here more realistic, so I backed off.

If we absolutely had to buy a house like in a month or something because I got a job and she was packing the house, we would have bid on a lovely house near Mississippi. It was so great I sort of questioned the price tag because it was beyond reasonable. I described it to the realator as "low" - digression, those that know me may be amazed that I talk to realators now. It is rare, but I am growing - he prefered to describe it as "priced to move." I gave him a hat tip for playing the game, but I'm still not sure exactly why it was low. I would have been tempted to bid above asking and that's where lady friend and I would part ways.

We looked at another great house up in the SW hills. It was modern, huge windows, spacious, beautiful. High side of price range and up in the hills, so a bit inaccessable inconvient maybe for friends to visit. Kind of like up Hendrix for you Eugeneians. We really liked it, but it seemed like a house that people in their mid 50s buy because they don't care about the city and want some peace and quiet, dammit. The tax bill was also huge - solid pays attention to these things now too - because many of the other houses in the neighborhood were seven figure houses, so we have to pay more to be rich types. And for the zoo, the realator explained. I wasn't sure what that meant, but retreating to comfortable ground, I nodded along.

House number 1
House number 2