Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Just In - Starting January 1, 2009


Good Bye, 2008 - This resolution is complete

A year ago today, I opted to create a blog to honor happiness in 2008. It was my New Year's Resolution and I am proud to say I stuck with it. Today is the last posting for this blog and culminates with my final posting - a short video montage.

I've enjoyed focusing on a year of happiness and look forward to revisiting this site every day in 2009 to learn what made me happy exactly one year ago! I'm making other resolutions for the upcoming year, but they don't include another year of posting to this site. It makes me sad, but happy, that this ritual has come to its end.

I wish you the best in 2009 and hope every day of the next calendar year finds you with happiness in your heart.

Best always,


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


As part of Cynde's birthday present, my mother and I got her a gym membership so she can work out with me. Tonight was our first night, and it's amazing! Already we are seeing a tremendous difference. Expect our workout video to come out soon so you can learn our secrets for looking this good.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I read a play by Silas House last night, the Kentucky writer acclaimed for his Appalachian voice. His play, The Hurting Part, was about the longing to be home when one is away from their childhood. The script was fast and truly representative of a time that once was.

I also finished John Dau's When God Grew Tired of Us which, coincidentally, also brings in the longing one has for home when they are uprooted. Together, the two stories allowed me to feel the enormity of the world, but also the proximity.

Perhaps this is why I found it interesting that I allowed myself to review The Sound of Music, commercials and all, after finishing my reading. As a child, the musical was a seasonal ritual and watching it last night made me long, myself, for simpler times and the longing for hills being alive with instrumentation.

The point is, stories matter. Families matter. And most importantly, singing matters - even from those of us who can't sing a note! And check this out -- even the Von Trap family ages!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Cynderballs

Today is Cynde's 39th birthday. After bowling on Wii, we went to Pooch's in Solvay to hear my friend Jodi's band, Rhythm Method. There wasn't a pole and none of us heard a cow bell ever. Instead, it was a tame bar and a quiet evening out on the town. No rock-n-roll at all and hardly any dancing. Just designated driver, Bryan, with a stuffed up, sinus head. Okay, I lied. There was a cow bell handed to Cynde and she did perform with the band.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Long Way Gone

One of my holiday goals was to finish Ishmael Beah's memoir A Long Way Gone which I accomplished late on Christmas night. It amazes me to read the journey of individuals from other parts of the world who grow up in circumstances quite oppositional to the way we live in America. I am more in awe of how individuals, such as this author, are able to overcome traumatic childhoods to find hope in their lives. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. It is a text that will be on my mind for a long time. Telling the story of Sierre Leone, Ishmael Beah's story is rather miraculous and hard to comprehend. In relation to our American lives, it puts our complaints into perspective that we live in a world of comfort and ease compared to conflict in some African countries.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My most relaxed day ever

A few years ago, Mike and I had a Lord of the Rings day and decided to watch all three episodes back to back. We started early in the a.m. and ended late at night and besides ordering a pizza, we sat glued to the television. I look on this day with my brother-in-law as the most relaxed time I've ever spent on earth and as a moment that is remarkable in history. The story, Peter Jackson's film, and the journey both allowed me to take is one of the happiest days of my life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

There is a Santa!

Earlier this Fall, I rode with my sister and her husband to pick apples. The three of us listened to their "love" tape and on the way to getting our harvest, the two of them sang their songs to one another for my entertainment. At that moment, I said, "All I want for Christmas is a video of you two singing one of your duets for me to keep forever."

Months later, I am given this video - the best Christmas present ever. Their daughter taped the performance and seemed to have a performance of her own going on, but the moment is precious and now a part of romantic history.

I share it here, because the two of them make me very happy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Today, the snow stopped and I cleared my driveway. The ritual of waking up, drinking coffee and then removing snow has ceased for a couple of days. Still, I found serenity in the peacefulness of being outdoors and removing snow, especially when looking at the pine trees around my house loaded with thick snow. It's beautiful, no? And it's a reminder that nature will always be stronger than any one moment in time. I find happiness in such moments.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sing It, Dean!

There are no words for this snow! Only music!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adams and Amalfi Drive

In 1986-1987 a girl named Sara began writing me letters. She beat me, actually, at a language fair and contacted me after taking the crown. The two of us have written letters back and forth since then, which means we've been pen pals for 22 years. We stopped during our undergraduate years, but as fates had it, I literally bumped into her at an environmental conference in California where she was there translating for Russian visitors. Since then, we've renewed our postal friendship.

We've also filled three or four books with letters and keep each other in check along the journey.

As the stars would have it, too, she is visiting her family an hour North of Syracuse and called to see if I was home. I was. She and her mother drove through the snow and, together, we went to an SU Women's Basketball game. It is probably our sixth time meeting face to face in 22 years!! There's something beautiful about that, and it makes me happy to know our connection will most likely continue for a lot longer.

Pals of the pen, are sojourners till the end.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Twas Five Nights Before Xmas

Twas five nights before Christmas
and all through my home,
birthday balloons bounced bodaciously
while the 'Cuse was away from the dome.

The children were here playing in their new room,
My nostrils were filled to an evening of sinus doom.

The cake was lit with chocolate galore,
and after the subs, we swore, "No, We can't eat no more."

But it was mom's birthday party and everyone was there,
sipping TheraFlu, wine, gingerale and beer.

And although I feel nasty and my head was congested,
I'm now going to bed like everyone suggested.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow Day

After a day like yesterday, I might rather work! Actually, it was great. Dad and I had breakfast. We hooked up mom's new t.v. and then I got their old set. The set was too big for my t.v. stand, so I ended up rearranging furniture, only to realize I needed to rearrange rooms. I also had to shovel (two hours) and clean my house (which still isn't done).

The day was white, and I spent most of it inside. I guess Snow Days are for kids, but they're fun for adults, too (who don't have kids!).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kadir Nelson, Abraham Lincoln & SudyRip

I stopped by Northern Onondaga Library today and the children's librarian gave me a copy of Abe's Honest Words because she thought I'd enjoy it. The illustrations are by Kadir Nelson and they're amazing. i continually question how we are text-rich society when individuals like Kadir can communicate a lifetime of knowledge in one piece of art. I checked out his other work and liked his piece "The Beckoning." I guess it feels really good to spend my days learning what I want to instead of being directed by higher education. Happiness is a library card.

Finally, it's mom's birthday!!! Happy Birthday! There's a theme to today's posting: Abe Lincoln, Kadir Nelson and Sue! Now, Good readers will be able to find this theme. Confused readers will be like, "What?" And Bryan is laughing at figuring it out himself.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

World's Best Cookies

They're nasty. Difficult to make. Take forever. And proof I'm a liar. They are the best bachelor pad cookies in the world to make and all you need is a roll of chocolate chip cookie batter, a mini-muffin tin and a bag of peanut butter cups. Bake the dough and pop the cups in when they're done then stick the concoction in the refrigerator for a while. Pop them out and never snack on them. Snacking on them is terrible and they taste horrible. But if you give in, you will be happy for sure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Rain, but snow in the forecast

In 1993, as I was getting ready to pack my Toyota and head to Kentucky, Blind Melon debuted "No Rain," and I used it often as my philosophy of life. I had long hair (like the lead singer), liberal ideologies and visions of chubby bee-girls dancing on stage with me as I did whatever it is I do.

And like this bee girl, I often felt out of sorts...that is, until I found Alice, Charlie and the Brown School. Suddenly, I felt there was a place for waltzing insects and other misfit toys. That was my comfort zone and now, out in the odd Universe again, I'm out of my comfort zone and neurotic. At Brown, being odd and unpredictable was the norm and a part of its hidden curriculum. Outside of Brown, the world is judgmental, harsh and controlling. It makes me very nervous. It saddens me and I wish for more Maudes.

I thought of the video yesterday morning when I went to a meeting and started sweating. I don't know what started the attack, but I got very nervous and didn't want to be there (I'm calling it mid-thirty male menopause). I got up, excused myself and left to walk outside. I wanted to find an apiary of chunky girls with glasses so I could say, "there...there. We know they laugh at you, but that's their problem." I wasn't laughed at, but the critical nature of higher education makes me very protective of the dweebs, geeks and weirdos out there, like myself, who don't feel comfortable flaunting perfection and truth onto other beings as the gospel. I have a strange aversion to the scientist peering into the microscope as an authority of the petri dish. No, some of us communicate in different ways and there needs to be better constructed places for our expression.

I thought of the video today as I calmed my mini-panic attack down and tried to restructure what it is I am trying to do in my life of higher education. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that those of us who are abnormal are a lot more normal than we think. We don't need to be reminded of the superior/inferior worlds that is preached at the academy because we'd rather be singing with Blind Melon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

small or medium?

I can now add concession stand employee to my resume, as I worked the Syracuse Dome tonight to help raise money for my niece's colorguard expenses. I was the ice and soda guy, while SU lost to Colorado State at a miracle buzzer-beater. I could hear the crowd, but alas, no view of the game. I did have a decent view of the Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist and Pepsi Machine, though. Hats off to that!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The smell of pine

Following in the spirit of Holly & Ivy day at the Louisville Nature Center, I went into the woods today and borrowed a few branches from pine trees, and a few red berries from Sumac, so I can once again set out to make my fingers bleed in sticky sap.

It is a tradition I cherish, and I am happy that my days as a naturalist taught me how to make greenery for my door. There is nothing like walking outdoors and picking items for traditional swag-making.

And the smell reminds me of December!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A bite of reality

In 1994, when I drove west to begin my Kentucky life, the movie Reality Bites with Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder hit the big screen. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking what a great title. Then I watched the movie and grew sad. I believe the film hit my generation in the gut as we entered the next phase of our life - the post-college life.

That was fourteen years ago, and it saddens me to think that this film, too, is a part of the past. I wonder, what is the wake up call for the new generations just inheriting the earth? Is it Juno? Has it been made yet? Either way, when art replicates life, I grow happy. Of course, the movie presents "reality t.v." through Ben Stiller's character and now life replicates art, huh? It's all fun.

PS: Notice the phones still have coil chords. PSS: Why do they speak Italian at the end?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My hats off to relaxation

It's all about a warm, fuzzy hat during the cold months and yesterday was spent searching for the perfect one for Nikki. It didn't occur though, but we did find one for Dylan. I have my share of great hats and the closer I look to a Russian fur trader, the happier I am. If my ears are warm, so is my soul.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Corn Fritters

There is nothing better than corn fritters with maple syrup on a Thursday night, but being able to post about them on a Friday morning. Yes, bacon, sausage and corn fritters are a feast and, in honor of Grandmother Vera, I eat them with a smile. Thanks, mom!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My favorite holiday song

sung by the Children of Chicago Chorus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Society of Dead (and very alive) Poets

As my semester comes to a close (and I write my final paper before the holidays), I recall the classic Robin William's film, Dead Poet's Society. Yes, it is a white tale - a rich, traditional, canonized white man's tale - but I'm thinking about its merits, anyway.

Keating challenges the space of the classroom, and as a result he is let go of his job. Still, the respect his students have for him is obvious. For him, language and words aren't contained and constrained by the banners presented at the beginning of the film. He teaches his students to be alive, and being alive is far from what the elders in this tribe want.

While I comb through course readings trying to figure out whether or not the educational field can ever be a science (well, at least English, anyway), I'm reminded of the scene where Robin William's tears out the pages of the textbook during a lesson on poetry. That scene, and that scene alone, is at the heart with my frustrations in academia. I doubt that words: poetic, fictionalized, autobiographical, editorial, etc. are meant to be scrutinized in the scientific method. Even so, that is what my readings at SU will have me believe.

No, to Carpe Diem, one needs to tap into heart and soul. My subject area is not one to be studied in a petri dish or under a microscope. It is not the work of scientists. It is the work of artists.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shoveling snow is better than shoveling $@$#

Our banks aren't this ridiculous yet, but we've had our share of snow-shoveling days. It is a pain, but I admit I enjoy it. I put on my iPod, listen to podcasts and make a dance out of removing snow from my driveway. Yesterday morning, I finally got to pushing the ice off, and I began with a cross pattern so that I wasn't working the driveway in the traditional way a hungry eater maneuvers an ear of corn. Nope. I chose to go Polluck with my shovel and see what I could make before removing it all. It's interesting to design with Mother Nature's beauty. Of course, I don't mind shoveling when I have time to shovel, either. The exercise is good and outside, the cold air cures my sinuses. Yes, early in this season I can say shoveling snow allows my teeth to show in a grin. Look at me being so optimistic.

Monday, December 8, 2008

good ol' David Sedaris

The first time I read Santa Land Diaries I had to take a walk because I was laughing so hard and I needed time to process Sedaris's sick humor and whacky perspective on the world. Yesterday, I saw a staged version of this story at Syracuse Stage and I guess, in a way, it welcomed the Christmas season with a chuckle. David Sedaris is a master of dry wit and sarcasm and his words work theatrically and leisurely. If you've never read this piece, I highly recommend it. It will make you happy, even if it is in perverse way.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

precious pre-xmas carols

The video is of Mimi Sue and Sean singing before putting up the tree. I was picking up the dog and used dad's camera to capture the moment. Good times.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In my classroom, I had a tissue box modeled from this Easter Island rock statue. Students could pull tissues from its nose.

I had forgotten about this prop until Andrew Gott told me he remembered the day that Brian Valentine was walking around my classroom wearing this Easter Island rock as a mask. I was trying to get him settled to do some work and I frustrated I said, "Brian, it's a good thing that love and hate are the same thing - the two strongest emotions a human can have - because I love you so much right now, I want to kill you!"

Gott's memory put a smile on my face.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jerome Harste

"Curriculum is a metaphor for how I want to live and who I want to be." - Jerome Harste

Well, I can't say that I've experienced the sun, but I did meet a lot of cool people. It is sort of amazing to see the people I've been reading forever face to face and in the flesh. It's like fictional creatures that come to life. I'm heading back to NY this morning and will be able to get back into my own routine. In the meantime, I have much to reflect on and leave you with Harste.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

something fishy, and something with stars

a student taught me during my last year of teaching why it is important to throw starfish back in the ocean. He told me that many of them might be dried and no longer, but every once in a while you can bring life to such a creature simply by returning him to the ocean.

I'm in Florida and spent all day yesterday inside. I never saw the sun. Even so, I did think about the starfish story and the fact that Andrew Gott, class of 2008, is driving to my hotel to see me. He attends college an hour away from here.

We might find a way to search for starfish in the sand and, perhaps, we'll bring more hope to this world. If not, I'll always know that Andrew is the one who introduced me to this story and taught me the importance of promoting the best life for all those around me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I've safely made it to Orlando. In fact, I gave up two seats and earned two free airline tickets. Bonus! All is well. I'll be happy after I present.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wishful thinking

All of you out there who are able to sleep in today, or even later this weekend, or even sometime next week, I nod my head to you. I am very much ready for a day to sleep in.

Actually, I'd like a routine of sleeping in and also falling asleep at night. In other words, I want a good night's sleep, because I know when I get good R.E.M.s and feel rested, I'm a much happier camper. I'm dreaming of rest. (Crimminy! Is it already December 2nd!!!)

Monday, December 1, 2008


On an ultimate procrastination quest, I managed to climb in my attic and pull down my holiday treasures. I built a fire to warm the house and changed bulbs in all my light strings. Yes, it is time to be dazzled by all the glowing white lights.

I've placed lights in every window and would have hung miles of lights outside if the weather didn't decided it wanted to spit cold ice instead of snow. I hope to get them on the fence tomorrow.

In the meantime, my nativity set is out and my Christmas tree, okay snowman with a tree growing out of his head, are up. Tis the season to be jolly.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I didn't know about Gertrude

My brother-in-law needed a ride to Sam's Club and we stopped by a mall to look for a Christmas gift for his wife. I noticed a Gertrude Chocolate store and decided to treat us to a snack. Dang. They make good chocolate, no?

In high school, I learned that chocolate releases serotonin into the blood to bring about pleasure and happy thoughts. I think there's truth to that because I'm still licking my teeth for the flavor. And it makes me happy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Newlywed Game

Back when couples were beautiful, life was more innocent, and people tried to win televisions, The Newlywed Game capture America's attention.

Last night, it was a tie. Who was the better Marlena and Roman couple? Casey & Dave or Cynde & Mike?

The answer is both. It was a tie.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

Whereas yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I am very thankful for being able to spend it with my family, I've opted to post, with happiness, a project that I'm dedicating In Memory of James A'kech Mungui, a Sudanese man I knew in Kentucky. Clicking on the link will take you to the video I've uploaded: nine frames of my dedication.

Today is Black Friday, and I wish you luck with the chaotic season that it represents. Happy shopping.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hard Work

or maybe it has.

After fixing an outside plumbing issue two nights ago, reworking multiple drafts of the NRC paper to be given next week, and then spending the evening hours of last night on a multimodal, technological presentation, I'm inclined to say, "hard work" is relative. I do know I am exhausted, but I also know, working hard makes me happy. I'm thankful I have time to put into my zany ideas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Week Ahead of the Game

A week from tonight, I need to miss my qualitative research class. Planning ahead, I did a portion of my presentation while not being able to attend. I post only because I'm happy that at least one item of my gigantic check list can be marked this morning.

I'm thrilled to know I can be in attendance without being in attendance. Woot Woot, I hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ice ice baby

icicles are beautiful, aren't they? they are wonderful when they form on the gutters of my house and they will be wonderful when they welcome spring by melting (some five months from now).

I'm being an optimist, looking for the beauty in a Central, New York, gray and yucky day.

and already thinking summer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ah, Carol

The streets are too icy to run, so I'm back to the treadmill at the gym and the weights that follow. It feels good to move muscles other than my legs and when I came across this Carol Burnett clip, I thought, well isn't this appropriate to the world of exercise I've know since birth.

I shouldn't laugh, but there is happiness to this clip and the drive many of us have to fight off the pre-holdiays, overeating anticipations. I hope this brings you a chuckle and a few memories of your own morning exercise regimen. Carol Burnett is needed in today's world and I miss her variety show immensely. She created a sweet tooth for zaniness in me that no other program has matched.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dweebs, Geeks and Weirdos

The best purchase I've ever made was for 25 cents at a garage sale while at Binghamton University. Dweebs, Geeks and Weirdos was with me during my hippie, collegiate days and became a trademark for end-of-the-year shenanigans with seniors when teaching in Kentucky. Now, back in New York, tossing the dip chips and being dorky is a requirement for the game.

Last night, Cynde, Mike, Nikki & Dylan came over and we, once again, battled over who is the biggest nitwit, dufus and nicompoop. Even though Mike didn't win, he did give the best crossed-eyed, nose wiggling performance I've ever seen. And Dylan's rendition of counting to ten in Godzilla language was worth his moving forward two spaces.

And Nikki's melting impersonation of the Wicked Witch was extremely realistic - almost as much as Cynderball's incredible ability to balance water on her head.

There's nothing wrong with being a nimrod and that's why this game makes me so happy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Ville and What was once Pleasant

During this time at the Brown School, Alice and I would be working through the Renaissance and discussing the importance of change, art, and believing in the freedom of outside-the-box thinking. To touch upon this importance, we'd show the film Pleasantiville and ask students to think about what would push them outside of a black and white world into one that allowed for more colors.

I have been thinking about this film a lot lately, both missing the Brown School and dreaming that a better world can exist for those who dream it. I was spoiled in my time at the Brown School because there I lived in a technocolor dreamcoat of diversity, acceptance and a true love of children. The sky was the limit, but because Umbridge and her hyenas came to town, I made a decision to leave.

I returned to a black and white world, but now wish to find the way back to the "roy.g.biv" way of better living. I've seen it. I've tasted it. I've felt it, and I've lived it. So, happiness, I suppose, will come from finding it once again. How do we make the world more Brown?

Friday, November 21, 2008

politically incorrect on Friday Morning

The bonus of heading towards the end-of-the semester is I can make use of my expensive cable bill. I actually turned on my t.v. last night and while doing work, I listened to Hi, My Name is Earl, The Office, and Kath & Kim. And Jaime Pressly is stunning. I love her character on Earl, and looking her up online, Yowza! Dang girl! You is sexy.

But more importantly, television is sexy and I am so glad that I got to be entertained by audio and visual information and non -textual communication for the first time since late August. It felt great. Yes, I did school work, too, but I also got to be American and delve into the power of a remote control (although I didn't make it beyond NBC, channel three).

I am happy because television and Jaime Pressly simultaneously exist.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wishful Thinking

I'm posting a day ahead of myself from a very cold room late on Wednesday night. I've been out of my house since 7 a.m., stopped to let the dog out, and have gone all day. I'm sitting in a computer lab at the University being taught flash animation, and feeling defeated by the exhaustion. The New York weather has me dreaming of a full body armor of flannel pajamas, a warm fire and a mug of hot cocoa. There is a wonderful calm in my blood knowing that such warmth exists.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

in the world of endless senses, we must sense our world, endlessly

A friend of mine sent me a link today to what some are calling transliteracies. Now, I know that it isn't in a dictionary (yet), and my spellcheck hates these academic words, but I am currently stoked about it.

Why? It fills in a lot of the gaps I've been having between linking written text, the Internet, and the arts (which includes the creative writing projects I like to play with).

In a nutshell,

"Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the twenty–first century. It is not a new behavior but has only been identified as a working concept since the Internet generated new ways of thinking about human communication. This article defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, and ethnography." (Thomas, et. al, 2007)

You probably are clueless to what I'm talking about. I am excited about linking ways people understand the world that are not traditionally seen as "proper," "acceptable," nor "high brow," because they create more accessibility to populations that don't get into the linear, minority view that knowledge and literacy is academic. I coined a thought the other day, "In the world of endless senses, we must sense our world endlessly." And that is the way I want to live life.

For me, this looks like an amoeba and that is amusing for the time being.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Perhaps we're all in jeopardy

I've remarked often that I am not Jeopardy smart. Even so, when time allows, I try to answer the few questions I can and from 7:30 - 8:00 p.m., I might be found asking, "What are answers, Alex?" The problem is, that even with an education I can only answer some questions, part of the time.

I am wondering about this. Working with brilliant minds of teachers and students, alike, I can't understand why more individuals don't perfect the Jeopardy game show. I may be wrong at using JEOPARDY as an objective test for knowledge, but does any test ever measure what any one individual knows, objectively? If knowledge was objective, then couldn't more people clear the board of such answers flawlessly and with ease? Nope.

This results for many reasons and I am happy I don't know why. I say, "Explaining truth, Alex, for 500." He says, "This results from trying to make sense of the world." I answer, "What is the point?" The point is everything cannot be known by any one person ever.

Yet, there's happiness in trying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

something fishy about yesterday's pot roast

Because it wasn't beef, it was pork. But does that make it fishy? Beats me.

I'm just happy the day ended. Why? Well, not because I got a chance to fine-dine my mom over Sangria and roasted carrots. Nor because I had a great fire all day and even made delicious apple crisp. I'm just glad the day ended because I was tired of working on SU stuff.

I much prefer sitting with my shellfish glasses and with the memory of St. Augustine Beach where I bought them. The glasses and my fish face makes me happy, as did feeding my mom with just a little 'thank you' for all the help she's given me this semester in keeping up.

It's Monday, and time to begin anew. Wee hoo hoo. Do as the hedonists do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


There was a point in the teaching year when I knew it was time to pull out the Pixar short, Boundin'. Featured as an extra from The Incredibles film, Bud Luckey's song seems to be a catchy little tune that is a jovial version, I suppose, of the Sisyphus conundrum. There's not much I can type. The happiness is in the clip.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

with Faith

Today I will be teaching Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach at North Syracuse Public Library. Reading about Faith Ringgold and, more importantly, seeing her paintings and quilts, is an inspiration.

Yesterday, at a meeting at Syracuse University, I met a Russian scholar who asked me about why America has Goodwill stores. She explained to me that in her country, when a new outfit is purchased, you wear it until it is not good clothing anymore. Then you wear it while camping, gardening or playing. Finally, when it has about had it, you cut it up and use it as a dust cloth. In other words, every item purchases is taken to its last thread.

I am thinking about overconsumption today, but I am also thinking about how we can take our excess and make art from it. This, after all, is how quilts used to be made. They are sustainable blankets and in these economic times, perhaps all of us should begin thinking creatively about how we overpurchase and make waste. How can waste be utilized better? I suppose there's happiness in that answer somewhere.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eddy Punster

Yesterday, a friend posted my 1990 yearbook photo on her Facebook. It was funny to see my 18 year-old self again, and to know it is accessible online (which wasn't even imaginable in the age of Madonna, Beaches, Two Live Crew and the onset of Nirvana). Even so, it is evidence of my Kid-n-play, white boy, box cut (notice the eddy, widow's peak still famous today).

Yesterday was also Becky Freeland's birthday. She is the smiling face and friendship that greets every entrance to the Reading and Language Arts Center at Syracuse University. Last year, upon hearing it was her birthday, I opted to, 'spur-of-the-moment,' give her a lab dance. Whereas the Where Are They Now publication for CNS has me listed as an exotic dancer and tarot card reader, doing a lab dance seemed an appropriate occupation for a wonderful woman's birthday. Recognizing I am in the land of political correctness and dignified scholarship, I figured a dog on a stick dancing around a colleague was a more appropriate, gender-neutral way to show love in the office.

This year, I decided to add another dog on a stick, this time, two dogs waltzed around a pole. The dogs definitely were dignified as they got jiggy-with-it. I added the music, "Who Let The Dogs Out," which also added a respectable ambiance to the celebration.

When Heidi, a friend in the Ph.D program, told me I was quite the punster with my lab dance, it reminded me of my widow's peak of 1990, and wola, "I am Eddy Punster". I am happy about today's entry. There's nothing wrong with being a complete dork.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lady Smith Black Mambazo

Several years ago, when I first began working with the refugees from the Sudan, Lady Smith Black Mambazo came to Kentucky. Many know their music from Lifesavers ads, but I learned of them through a live performance at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Coming out of South Africa and Zulu roots, Lady Smith Black Mambazo makes a sound like no other. Live, they also dance in ways that are brilliant and hard to put into words. The Kentucky men from Sudan were familiar with their music and most of them received driving lessons from me while listening to their soundtracks.

Today, Dominic Mathiang and I talked with members of SU's Honors Symposium on Migration. I didn't use Lady Smith Black Mambazo in my sound track of ideas, but I did hear their music as we held our discussion. Every time I think of their vibe in this world, I get a smile. I am hoping you will, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

integrating thoughts

I attended a conversation about integration and desegregation in American Public Schools that featured two academics from Illinois, Urbana: William Trent & James Anderson.

As they talked at Huntington Hall, and again at Hendrick's chapel, I began thinking about how a school like Brown, with its mission statement and history, is so far from the radar of Syracuse City Schools. In fact, that the Brown exists at all is rather miraculous.

Because integration isn't the mission of the community at large (although multiculturalism has been a buzz word for some time), the community doesn't integrate. The scholars emphasized a need for law and policies of intergration in place to support the integration of cultures.

I wonder how well that would go over in the suburban schools of America - could the predominantly white communities mix with individuals from African, Vietnamese, Bosnian, Nepalian, Cambodian, etc., descent?. Trent and Anderson's thinking reminded me, again and again, of the Brown and how people had the vision for a school ahead of its time. So, how do we make the above buzz words a norm for more schools, where democracy, individuality, high standards and equity are a vision of all involved? This seems to be the question that needs an answer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The strongest four letter word

In a workshop with middle school students, I asked participants to illustrate what the big words they live by actually were. The photo to the side is one student's creation. I began to think about that four letter word and concluded that it needs to be, if it isn't, central to everything we do in life. When we stray from love, we stray from being alive.

I love working with people. I love learning their stories and discussing the journey of life with them. I love believing in the power of humanity and I love that word - LOVE.

If I could give a homework assignment today, it would be to find something or someone you love and then to participate in a mini-act of kindness. The task would be assessed on whether a) you broke out of the routine of your day, b) you did something special, simply because you love it or him or her, and c) you let it be known. This couldn't be graded, but it could be felt. After all, isn't this what happiness is all about?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Tumnus

This posting is to prove a point. I do not look like Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, despite what my sisters think. They are hitting the opium pipes if you ask me. Tumnus has curly hair and blue eyes and his "soul patch" is much more engaging than mine. I've even tried bending my ears to see the resemblance, but I don't get it. I look like me and it makes me happy to prove it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

When we were kids

My sister Cynde used to be scared to death of Sleestaks from THE LAND OF THE LOST. I was scared of Cookie Monster who lived under my bed. Casey wasn't scared of anything and if a monster entered our house, she'd talk his ear off until he ran away screaming.

Fear is such a strange emotion, and I thought about it when I asked Cynde if she'd be with Casey for the delivery of her second child. Cynde and Mike thought it'd be funny if I went this time. I said, "Absolutely not," because I'd pass out as soon as I smelled the hospital. When I deconstruct why, it is because I fear the sterile environment of all medical facilities. They don't make me happy.

But, Sleestaks do. So does LAND OF THE LOST and memories of bad plots and horrible television programs. There's something humorous about the possibility that Cynderballs might have nightmares again when she sees this posting and that cracks me up.

kkkkhwwwwweeeeeeeeeeee, kkkkkwhhhhaaaaaaa

Saturday, November 8, 2008


There's nothing like green gook that creeps inside your lungs and nasal passages at the blink of an eye, and because of this, there's nothing like heated remedies to fight it. A cold is nature's way of singing Simon and Garfunkle's "Slow Down, You're moving to fast. You've got to make the morning last." Here's hoping it works and I get back to feeling groovy.