Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Image "borrowed" from Blue Harvest Art .......

I was walking the dogs today just outside our apartment, when a police car sped up the street going the wrong way. Its lights were flashing and it definitely seemed like they were in a hurry to get somewhere.

When the car got near us, it came to an abrupt stop. It had not been the best of days, so immediately I thought I was going to be in some kind of trouble. Perhaps getting wrongly accused of not picking up after my dogs.

The window did go down and one of the two cops in the car called over to me.

"Hey, have you seen a pack of wild dogs around?"

Wild dogs?

"Um...no?" was the only response I could muster.

Wild dogs? In Manhattan?

The police car sped off...leaving me to ponder: wild dogs?

Then I realized maybe I should get back inside.

Mind you, we do live next to some large parks and I have heard stories about feral dogs living in one of them. I have never seen any of them. Cats? Yes. But dogs, no. And there isn't that much space for them to really hide.

Sara said that they must be little feral dogs. I can just imagine a wild pack of chihuahuas terrorizing northern Manhattan.

Later in the day I did notice a strong police presence on the streets around our apartment - keeping us safe from those wild dogs no doubt.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Delaware license plates look like they were made on an ink-jet printer.

I expect to see the ink start to run when it starts to rain.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Forging on into the Abyss

Well, it is not quite so melodramatic. The winter break is over and a new semester begins.

After four courses last semester, I felt like the spring would be easy and almost care free. Now I am reconsidering those feelings. Yes, there will be a lighter load, but I am teaching a new class for which there will be a lot of preparation involved. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself too because I want it to go well. The course is Food and Culture, an topic that is very dear to my heart (and gut). Perhaps I should lower my expectations. The first time you teach something is a challenge and there is a lot of trial and error.

I also had expectations for my research this spring. I was hoping to get started over the break, but that didn't happen. It wasn't a very productive break. Maybe I should not have had high expectation for that either. It may not have been realistic to think I could forge ahead with research after being mentally exhausted from the past year. I just feel like I have fallen far behind. And this is problem because....

...my employment situation is still up in the air. Things are moving along this time around more than they have in the past - so that is a bit encouraging. I have had some phone interviews and I will be having some campus interviews as well. However, Sara is going through the same process of applying and interviewing (and waiting). It is disconcerting not knowing where we will be or what we will be doing. Needless to say, this whole process lies ahead in the abyss that is the next few months and it too will eat away at my time, energy, and mental stability.

So in the meantime, I will try not to get too worked up about it, take one day at a time, and try to keep my wits about me. It certainly won't be easy, but there is no other way around the abyss. Wish me luck...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our apartment blows out an inordinate amount of light bulbs.

It must be shoddy wiring.

Or evil spirits who delight in watching me struggle with the light covers.

And our freezer frosts up so quickly. This is a problem because the way it is designed the air flows from the freezer to the fridge. If it frosts up, the air ducts clog with ice creating two problems:
  1. The thermostat is in the fridge, so it run continuously making our electric bill go way up.
  2. Our food starts smelling a little wanky.
It is getting to be the time to move.

I am not sure where, but it is time to move.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On Health

I am a bit irked. No, I am very irked.

I was well on my way to having a productive day when I got an email message from our college's human resources department. The message kindly informed all employees that our health insurance coverage was changing.

Now mind you, we do have fairly good coverage and we do have multiple options in terms of companies and plans. However, the message described how several of the plans were not going to be available to us anymore.

Of course, one of the plans is the one Sara and I are on. We have spent a lot of time researching and finding doctors that we trust and like, and have since developed a good rapport with them. This is important because we both have medical issues that are ongoing and need monitoring, so having a positive relationship with our medical doctors is important.

As of now, it seems like the plans that will be available to us will no longer cover any of our medical providers. This may change as the different websites that provide information have not been updated to reflect the upcoming changes. But I would be highly surprised if they suddenly were covered.

Our health care system, while touted as so great, is really a joke. Health care may be wonderful, I do not doubt the competence of many of our health care providers, but the system in which everything operates is a disaster, at best, and unethical at worst. In a nut shell, it aims to discourage people to seek care, funneling them into the most inexperienced, underqualified, or just poor providers possible so as to save a buck. The goal of many health insurance providers is to get people to leave the program; they make it more attractive for someone to get covered through a spouse's plan.

So most of us get bounced around, being herded into the most "cost effective" system to provide health care, where the bottom line is how little do we consume, not how healthy we are, while the executives of these companies boast how well the company is doing and earning millions in bonuses. And while we may have great health care in this country, it is becoming less and less accessible. Yet we spend more and more on trying to stay healthy.

On a related note, there was an interesting post on the Daily Kos today. It discussed the health insurance coverage of each of the presidential candidates and whether they provided health care for their campaign staff.

Here is a summary:

Candidate...................Coverage......................Provides care for staff?

Clinton .................... Covered by federal employees plan......................Yes
Edwards....................Blue Cross (coverage for the campaign)..............Yes
Obama......................Covered by federal employees plan......................Yes
Kucinich...................Covered by federal employees plan......................No

Giuliani ................Decline to disclose...............................Decline to disclose
Huckabee ..............Decline to disclose...............................Decline to disclose
McCain..... ............Covered by federal employees plan.........Decline to disclose
Paul......................Covered by federal employees plan.........No (staff are volunteers)
Romney ................Decline to disclose...............................Decline to disclose
Thompson ............Decline to disclose...............................Decline to disclose

Clinton, Obama, Kucinich, McCain, and Paul have the federal employees plan because they are all members of Congress. This plan is actually a very good plan, and some candidates argue it should be made available to everyone.

Romney is a resident of Massachusetts, which per law enacted by Romney when he was governor, requires everyone to have health insurance. It is possible that Thompson is covered through the Motion Picture Health Industry Plan because he is a member of the union (a bit ironic).

It is also important to note that Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson would probably be ineligible to obtain health insurance on the market because they have all had cancer.

Unfortunately, I don't see things getting any better anytime soon. However, we need a President (and a government in general) who will not allow things to get worse. I would settle for that.

As for us, we will see what happens. Who knows, we may be moving to new jobs, to a different place, so we might just have to get by in those few months. Or we might just have to deal with going out of network to see the doctors we like. There are lot of uncertainties lying ahead - I'll need to deal with each as I come to it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Two Developments

I have become officially invested in the Presidential race. I am waiting on pins and needles for the NH results to come in.

There has been some progress on the job search front. I am still nervous about it and the anxiety is only going to grow.

More on this later.

Monday, January 07, 2008



I haven't been around here for a while. I am not really sure why, but if I were to venture a guess, it would be burnout.

The past year was pretty brutal. I taught four courses in the spring, three courses in the summer, and four courses in the fall. Add to that a trip to Mexico (which almost didn't happen), applying for jobs, pretending to do some research, and a conference.

And it hardly feels like I have had a break. I was grading until the 27th. Then we had a stressful incident with Zephyr and last I got sick.

While the new semester is still two weeks away, I need to get back on the wagon and start making progress on all the things that have piled up.

I may also be a little burnt out on the whole writing online thing. But I do need a place to complain, so I will still be writing - at least for now. I think I put pressure on myself to write something of value, rather that just randomly spewing thoughts. Not that I have ever written much of value, just that my own expectations changed. I am not sure why.

Maybe I will pick this up again, maybe not.

We'll see...