Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Traffic jam in Dyersvile

Today I had a flashback to my commuting days in old Boston MA. I was heading into D-ville for some disposable brushes to apply finish to project I am completing for the holidays. I went the back way through down town when suddenly as I pulled onto the main drag traffic stopped??? there was a line of vehicles, as I came over the hill there was a line in the other direction too! Gridlock!

What in this peaceful town could have caused such calamity...
As I rounded the water tower I saw the culprit, The squeamish may want to stop now, all 500 lbs of him. The cow was casually trotting down the street. He seemed calm as he inspected each passing car with an air of "WHAT the hell do think your lookin' At" on his face and in his gate.

May be more surprising was the lack of response from other drivers and even myself. People slowed down, let him pass and then went about their business me included. I wonder what the response to this might have been on I 93 say between Quincy and Granite AVE? I picture State troopers and possibly SWAT. But alas in D-ville all the response was one man, watching his cow run down the street a look on his face that said, "Wonder when he's going to get tired of this and come back?"

The great thing about being home is knowing that this won't make the news, and I am sure the situation resolved itself as everyone else who saw it is confident the parties (the cow and the man) must have some agreement that will surely play out.

Boy am I glad I ran out of brushes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Animism in a scientfic world

Animism is the belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena. IE a sacred stone that can make crops grow(ala Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) A belief system that supports the idea that objects have spirits and worth outside of their material make up.

This last week at work I have been discussing in depth the renaissance in Europe. After the "Black Death" swept through killing at will and debasing the mystical power of the Christian church the world was "blessed" with the enlightenment and the developments that would lead to contemporary modern society. The scientific method was soon to follow and science would begin to rationalize and explain away the magic in our lives.

Upon the end of this section in our class we move directly to Africa and The Pre Colombian Americas. A land that had been previously left to develop in it's own ways was full of myth and magic that was in no way kitschy or banal (as western tourism has made it today) but was genuine and part of a broader holistic view that required belief in something that makes sense with out proof.

I then received an article from a good friend about a Man who upon finding a sweatshirt washed up on the beach decided that he would (if not cynically) explore the world of fashion with this new line of clothing. He considered the sweatshirt a collaboration between him and the sea and as a unique item priced it at 1200.00 (on par with other items in the store). Some people bought into the idea other thought the thing was only worth 4 or 500.00. Others thought he was an ass. You can decide.

All of these things make me wonder why we have lost that ability to have things of meaning in our lives. I feel like what is good and important in an object is simply what someone else says it is. Unless I am naked in a snow storm a sweatshirt is not worth 1200.00(never mind where I would keep the money to buy it) On the flip side some where along the line Americans have decided that 4 t shirts for 3.00 is better than 2 t shirts for 3.00 and as a result the clothing industry has moved away and has taken advantage of youth and poor people on the other side of the planet to provide objects that are cheaper and to me represent a misunderstanding of how we value objects. Better farming through science has killed the spirit of the plants and animals, and the earth itself as farmers pull more out put less in as if there is no spirit in the things they deal with. In our efforts to go go go we would put in place plans to burn food. So little disregard that our option is to burn food?

With the holidays around the corner I think a lot about getting things. We are thing makers and collectors and as Kurt Vonnegut mentions in "Sirens of Titan" humanity has to leave the earth because the museum collections over crowd the earth and we are forced out by our collection of the past

I am not one of those people who thinks it would be great if society collapsed and we all went back to simpler mystical times. But I do think as a people if we are to succeed into the future we will need to rediscover the spirit of the world we live in and mesh it with our incessant need to understand.

Next week the saga of the plastic trees our asininity knows no bounds.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog...

It has been 3 weeks or more since my last blog entry. I'm not sure why but here I go, back on the horse!

Some how in life I never left school. I had one year off from academics after I graduated College the first time and even then my lovely wife was a teacher so the academic schedule still ruled our home. Here it is 2 weeks till finals and then the all to necessary Christmas break! I love teaching, I specifically love teaching college the students are somewhat more engaged and infinitely more interesting,( although they do lack the unbridled enthusiasm of the HHFN kindergartners and the Santa's helper relay race I created).

As the end looms it becomes a great flurry of getting things done. I am more motivated, they are more motivated and soon it will be time to start over. I think that is the real catch for me. Every semester provides an opportunity to do it better, to try something new and expand on what you had. While staying up late to reread textbooks over and over does loose its luster about now. I take sollice in the fact that on Dec 16th I will be done with this chapter and on to the next.

That chapter is of course the holiday season! Holy crap! This year has been simultaneously the longest and shortest of my life. We moved 1300 miles across this great country twice. Bringing with everything that we own. We had our second child, I ran my own business, taught at 3 colleges and started my first full time teaching position. We bought a house, set up a new studio, and now I have completed the first semester of my new job. This is like 4 normal years of life crammed into one!

But on the other hand we spent most of this year waiting... Waiting for the baby, waiting to hear about the job offer, waiting to here about our house, waiting to move, just waiting.

Alas the end is near and then it will be time to start over, things to do, places to go, But I do hope we pace ourselves and enjoy the trip.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stir crazy and the effects of children

This weekend was weird. We had a lot of time to do things this weekend but we didn't really have anything to do? I know this sounds like a dream to some, but it drives me nuts. I cannot just sit. And to double my frustration I feel that I should spend all of my time with "the fam" for fear of being the absentee workaholic father figure, even if the ideal thing for my 2 year old is to do nothing, absolutely nothing, not even whine, or watch tv, just aimlessly walk around the house requiring little intervention from yours truly. I finally reached my breaking point around 12:30 this afternoon when I realized everything we had to do today was over. Up at 6, church at 8, lunch at noon, and then what? The sun was already heading down and it felt like 8pm.

We opted for a family walk. A fully bundled 30 degrees and windy family walk, I was desperate. Luckily after that my wife took pity on me and I retired to the studio for the afternoon. It definitely seems that it will be a long dark winter.........

Monday, November 3, 2008


Tuesday evening will mark the end of one of the most popular tv reality series in recent history. The 2 year race for presidency will finally be over after record turnout America will have spoken loud and clear, hopefully, or maybe they will simply affirm the last 2 elections and consumately determine that we are unable to make up our minds and will be left to have other "more equiped people" make our decisions for us.

I have to give it to the media and canpaing staff, they have really managed to appeal to the lowest common denomitor this time. Supporters on both sides of this campaing have truly come to grasps with thte emensity of the decision they need to make. Who is the coolest polotician in America. Who went on Letterman the most? Who guest spotted SNL. Who appeals to my backwards ideologies the most. Who seems to be the "simplest" most approachable, canidate? Who's going to fold my laundry and feed my kids? Who will personnally enter my dreams and decifer them for me allowing me to finally realize my potential! Who supports the my every whim? Who do any number of famous people support, I just love that Oprah!? The list could extemnd adnausium.

If I here one more zealot say, "I just love the way she doesn't get washington." or "She's really attractive" I may in fact drill a hole in my head!
If I here one more indoctrinated childrens chior singing the gospel of Barak I my vomit a little in my mouth. Our country has lost it's mind and is fanatally running wild on itself.

Once the lavish fundraisers are over, once the campaing budgets are spent(what do they do with the leftovers?), once the imported plastic elephants and donkeys are returned to china for recycling into baby toys, what then. Billions have been spent on the worlds most rediculous look at me I'm awesome contest ever. I have heard of students dropping out of school to campaing? People so emotionally damaged from loosing last campaings they hit big depressions? KNOCK IT OFF!!

Call me sinical, please feel free to call me sinical, I have lost a lot of faith in our poloticians and my fellow countrymen observing this freakshow, and cannot wait to kick back with a tall Coors 16 ozer, maybe watch a little mork and mindy on channel 57 and slip back to a consumptive slumber, I wonder if there will be any hot girls and guys on the next survivor?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Beer and Philosophy

Lets just say that life while not always what you want often gives you exactly what you need. I have been searching for a new book to read for several weeks. I often Find myself reading books about obscure things that are important for my work as an artist but really are not "fun". Until this week. My colleges library had as a new offering "Beer and Philosophy". It is a collection of contemporary philosophers, brew masters, and beer enthusiasts writing essays about the finer points of one of the worlds greatest accidents, my friend and colleague the beer!

As many who know me will say I have over the last 5 years become increasinly choosy about my beer. It has become a hobby, Looking for the next greatest thing! I have become in some cases according to family members, a beer "snob". If wanting to look for something interesting and unique in a mass produced world is being a snob then guilty! And the more I read about macro brewery techniques the more I question that they are even beer at all! Most good beer is regional and has limited distribution so I have recently found myself in a new search for my beverage of chose her in NE Iowa.

Last night I found myself home with nothing to do?! My 2 year old had hit the sack, my 4 month old passed out in the swing, and my wife was off indulging her own nerdocity at a reading group about the cold war, (I have now idea what is interesting about this but she doesn't get Jackson Pollock either). I desided to endulge in a favorite pass time, the long soak in a very hot tub with a book, "Beer and Phiolosophy". I took 2 new beers I'm getting to know from a variety pack of a local Wisconsin Brewery and indulged! 2 beers and 2 essays later(the book provides you with a beer drinking schedule to follow as you read) my wife was home, my toes were wrinkley and I was excited about the new beers I get to try and a little homesick for those I have left behind. All and all an excelent experience!

It all reminded me that it is impotant to remember to indulge in moderation. To realize when you are indulging yourself and to enjoy the fact that you are.

So this weekend try and remember the thing you like most and do it! Just remember the thing that makes it so great is that you don't always get to!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The frost is on the pumpkin

Well fall is here and I actually know it this year! the frost on my car window this morning confirmed it. I have anxiously been watching the slow transformation of the landscape out my kitchen window. The entire state of Iowa looses 7 feet of elevation each year as the corn crop is drawn in and the fields are prepared for wintering.
For several weeks I have watched as the early corn is chopped for feed over winter as well as the nervious shuffling of grain wagons form here to there all in anticipation of the last efforts of another life cycle of our planet. It seem quaint and boring at times but it resets my internal clock and sense of place and time.

I realized the affects of living here while I was discussing living on the east coast at lunch with colleagues the other day. One of them said something about boring old Dubuque... I quickly found myself defended the "boring-ness" of our particular geographical region. I forgot how evident the changing seasons and cycle of life are here. Living in a thriving busy metropolis often found myself forgetting what time of year it was, what day of the week it was. Even in New England the fall foliage would sneak up on me all the time. Life in New Bedford ran by the banks clock and the tides.

My life was task oriented not life oriented.

I am now finally settling in to a new way of life where I drive to work and think about where I am and what I am doing. Listening to talk radio and thinking about what they are saying, not cursing at other drivers or pedestrians or old ladies crossing against the light in downtown Boston!!!
Instead of fussing i find myself focusing? No small task for a mildly ADHD 20 something. I see the crops harvested and the steam rising from the herds of cattle. Everyone busying with the task of harvest preparing for a long rest and anticipation of spring. Life is a race to the finish and I definitely think I am tortoise ready to pace my self for the long hall. I do miss the hustle everyone in a while but hey that's what vacations are for!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Black holes and North East Iowa

Last night I went to an African dance show at the collegeI teach at. First I should note my school is a Coolege for the brotherhood of the divine word, a catholic seminary and 4 year college for religious people to prepar for missionary work around the globe, it is also located in a town of 500 people in the middle of a cornfeild?. Everything here is in the middle of a cornfeild, the towns are like a series of islands floating in a sea of swaying carbohydrates!

Most of my students are from other countries and speak english as a second language. It is an annomaly as many may guess since Iowa might be one ot the most homogenous places in the US. The crowd however consisted of a good mix, I was impressed that in this very rural area there were 100+ people who treked to the school to see this event. It was excelent!!! We danced and clapped and listened to stories we couldn't understand. The over 80 crowd (approx 30% of the audience) clapped more than danced but by god they were into it! This was just another of the surreal moments I find myself experiencing everyday.

One Moment I am tooling down the road enjoying the country views the soft cent of cow flatuence in the air and the vext I am hob knobbibg at a gallery openning with other people like myself. This is a strange place where people park in the church parking lot to walk to the bar? Can't blame them the church has the only parking and the bar is the only one in the area , it works for them.

Well I should go church tomorrow, and someones holding my barstool for me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Every ones Blogging but me?

Day 1.

I am blogging...I'm not sure why I am here but it seems to me that everyone I know and most of the people I don't are now blogging. My wife is blogging, sharing here day with others. Mostly people we know maybe some we don't but I have to say it is interesting for me to read her memoirs. Its nice that we can sit on opposite couches at our seperate laptops and really connect.? We are a nostalgic species, reminicing over the events of earlier this week, earlier today.

Still cynisism asside it is nice to share stories and stay in touch on a regular basis. I hope in the future to bring something to this blog that helps someone, somewhere feel a little better about something. That should be vague enough to almost be imposible to not accomplish.