Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

daily existence away from chicago

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

A soccer fan already

A soccer fan already
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Her own commentary (also in Spanish, I believe)

Originally uploaded by shermans.


Heat Makes Hundreds of Jamboree Scouts Ill

I'm not sure what to make of the news that over three hundred scouts fell ill while waiting for the President to arrive. It's late, I can't sleep for whatever reason, and I'm prone to see the dark side to nearly every action this administration takes, but doesn't it seem careless if not insensitive and manipulative?

One: the president wedges in to a tragic story in order to offer comfort. Okay, perhaps I can give him this one. The scouts, after all, are a faith-based, discriminatory group. He probably does feel bad at losing some of his own. But my suspicion is that it was mostly done for p.r.

Two: Assuming the handlers of the president are aware of how complicated it is for any gathering to host POTUS, and assuming they can read a weather report, did it not occur to them that a significant delay on a day when temperatures approached 100 and high humidity would be at the very least, remarkably uncomfortable.

So a generous person gives the president the benefit of the doubt and assumes he wanted to make a gesture of respect and condolences to an iconic group assembling nearby. But a person disgusted with an isolationist, lying and manipulative white house with its collective head in the sand about anything outside its own sphere of interest sees one more instance of the collateral damage done.

The Bush years are best seen against a background of fallen men and boys in uniform.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Florida State as the center of the literary world

FSU's creative writing program: "Iowa can kick my redneck ass!"

What Book am I

as seen at Scrivenings

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Well, I won't speak to the infidelity aspect, but this book did send my head spinning when I read it in college. One of the few books I ever bought just because of the title. I recall that I had no idea who Marquez was at the time. I just loved the romantic desperation in those six words. For my overly dramatic sense of self, it seemed especially tragic and poetic. The book turned out to be so much more than that. I'm satisfied with this choice.

what country am I?

You're Brazil!

You're athletic, charming, and probably a good dancer.
 Unfortunately, you don't really mind chopping down the rain forest, and you probably consider homeless people expendable in certain circumstances.  Of course, your personality is so diverse that it's hard to track down exactly what you're like.  You definitely like Pele, the World Cup, and shouting "gooooal" at the top of your lungs.

the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ready to roll.

Ready to roll.
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Don't you come into my room.

Don't you come into my room.
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

NPR : Daytona Business Owners Fight Eminent Domain

On "Morning Edition" today, this story, about Daytona Beach trying to use eminent domain to take away three businesses in order to invigorate the boardwalk/beachfront.

What's notable is that the city is trying to use eminent domain in such a way to directly benefit a private entity. The city itself will not use the property for any municiple purpose, but rather give the land to a developer to create a hotel/mall destination for tourists. This is an abuse of eminent domain, it would seem to me. Eminent domain--the process of the state taking away a private person's property for the needs of the state in exchange for fair compensation--should only be used for public purposes. In this case, if the private developer has a profitable enterprise, he should keep upping the purchase price until the business owners sell. If not, then he must work around it. The fact that the city might benefit from a new project cannot justify the taking of one person's property and giving it to another.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Speaking of Republican Silences on Rove...

I haven't heard much from all those commenting on this blog after the Bush victory. Tater, BD? Where are you?

Has the Wall Street Journal Proven Itself as Anything but a Mouthpiece for the Administration?

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

Only in the Bizarro World of the Wall Street Jouranl editorial page would Karl Rove be a "whistleblower."

And in case anyone is swayed by talk that Wilson was somehow unqualified and a nepotistic call, this paragraph from's Sidney Blumenthal (thanks to Scrivner for highlighting the article).

"He had already performed one secret mission to Niger for the agency, in 1999, and was trusted. Wilson had also had a distinguished and storied career as a Foreign Service officer. He served as acting ambassador in Iraq during the Gulf War and was hailed by the first President Bush as a "hero." Wilson was an important part of the team and highly regarded by Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Wilson was also an Africa specialist. He had been a diplomat in Niger, ambassador to Gabon and senior director for Africa on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. (I first encountered Wilson then, and we have since become friends.) No other professional had such an ideal background for this CIA mission. "

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Chronicle Careers: 07/08/2005

Chronicle Careers: 07/08/2005

Ciela's not feeling well today, so we are sitting quietly at the desk, perhaps ready to take another nap.

A look at an old email account reveals this essay chastising job seekers for writing blogs. The obvious reasons are there: reveals too much personally, reveals an unprofessional attitude about current position, reveals that the candidate might have a life outside of academia. This last one sort of pissed me off. The pseudonymous Ivan Tribble intimates that one reason a candidate had a knock against him was that his blog revealed an intense interest in computer technology. The committee feared he would abandon ship for a comp science job. In his words, "the true passion of said blogger's life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of software systems." Presumably this search committee determined that the blogger in question was incapable of having a secondary interest outside his or her profession, ignoring the fact that a blog about computer software, hardware and systems might very well have an intense focus because that was the bleedin' reason it was created.

Of course, the author may be correct in that the job market for most humanities professions is so tight that any seemingly inconsequential action that could be taken negatively should be squelched. All this assuming that getting a job is the highest priority.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fun Watching McClellan Squirm

Scott McClellan backed up against the hars wall of reality. I admit to taken a schadenfruedistic delight in this transcript, but it won't mean a thing if Rove is not at least fired for being a duplicitious, vengeful weasel with no regard for law or common decency--as the President promised he would do. I'm waiting to hear from the legions of Republicans who called for Clinton's impeachment on the grounds of dignity and respect for the office. Their conspicuous silence only reveals that their first allegience is to their grip on power and not to the public for whom they serve.


QUESTION: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.

And as I’ve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren’t going to comment on it while it is ongoing.

QUESTION: I actually wasn’t talking about any investigation.

But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that’s why I said that our policy continues to be that we’re not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.

The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium.

MCCLELLAN: And so that’s why we are not going to get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation — or questions related to it.

QUESTION: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired.

And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved, so why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you’ve suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, We’re not going to comment on an ongoing investigation?

MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And that’s something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.

And that’s why we’re continuing to follow that approach and that policy.

Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.

QUESTION: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it’s not?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry’s question at the beginning. There came a point, when the investigation got under way, when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be — or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.

I think that’s the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.

QUESTION: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don’t think you should read anything into it other than: We’re going to continue not to comment on it while it’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, I’ve gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this ?

QUESTION: Do you stand by that statement?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we’re not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

QUESTION: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you’re going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you’ve decided not to talk.

You’ve got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I’m well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation…

QUESTION: (inaudible) when it’s appropriate and when it’s inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you’ll let me finish.

QUESTION: No, you’re not finishing. You’re not saying anything.

You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson’s wife. So don’t you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn’t he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you think people will accept that, what you’re saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I’ve responded to the question.

QUESTION: You’re in a bad spot here, Scott…


… because after the investigation began — after the criminal investigation was under way — you said, October 10th, 2003, I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this, from that podium. That’s after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

MCCLELLAN: No, that’s not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that.

We know each other very well. And it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation.

And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this. Because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I’m just not going to do that.

QUESTION: So you’re now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore and since then you haven’t.

MCCLELLAN: Again, you’re continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation and I’m just not going to respond to them.

QUESTION: When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you pin down a date?

MCCLELLAN: Back in that time period.

QUESTION: Well, then the president commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?

MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.

QUESTION: Well, we are going to keep asking them.

When did the president learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson’s wife in the decision to send him to Africa?

MCCLELLAN: I’ve responded to the questions.

QUESTION: When did the president learn that Karl Rove had been…

MCCLELLAN: I’ve responded to your questions.

QUESTION: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president’s word that anybody who was involved will be let go?

MCCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove’s lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?

MCCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it’s ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.

QUESTION: Scott, there’s a difference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action…

MCCLELLAN: (inaudible)

QUESTION: Can I finish, please?

MCCLELLAN: I’ll come back to you in a minute.

Prescott, AZ--Thumb Butte

Prescott, AZ--Granite Mt.
Originally uploaded by shermans.

For Judy's birthday, we drove north to Prescott where the elevation is higher and the temperatures are lower. We stayed in a nice inn and, as this picture attests, we test drove our new baby backpack courtesy of my parents. While Ciela didn't find the mountains and lakes as impressive as we did, she did spend inordinate amounts of time studying all the straps and buckles of her new mode of transportation. She's still adjusting to hiking, but we hope she's acquiring a taste for long walks in the mountains and desert. Of course, right now she really has no choice.

Aside from the hikes, we dined at nice restaurant and listened to the National Guard Band perform (and recite patriotic platitudes about freedom and sacrifice, and make simplistic statements about disarmament and foreign policy, and sing "God Bless the USA" prefaced by a complete disregard for separation of church and state claiming America's prominance in the world was a direct result of god liking us better than other people...but hey, the guy was responding to a protest sign that wasn't exactly a subtle discourse on pacifism: "Disarm Now.") on the courthouse lawn (another reason not to bring up god). The music was entertaining until the nationalism kicked into overdrive. And we visited a Native American art show with just some wickedly cool paintings on hides and a lot of other silly mystifications about elders and kachinas. The dancing was pretty neat, though, and some really awesome furniture that we didn't need and couldn't afford.

Prescott seems to be a small town still holding its own. The area around the courthouse square was always lively in the two days we were there. Restaurants and bars surround it, and most of them are locally owned places. In the square, people were eating ice cream, throwing footballs, walking dogs and breastfeeding babies (that last one was us). Like every place, the seem to have a problem with sprawl. Hiking up Thumb Butte, we could see the steady encroachment of houses up the hillsides. But the center is still vibrant, and that's what really holds a community together; not a new Target or Wal-Mart.

Below are two pictures of Watson Lake where we killed some time before dinner (and one of the last times I saw my credit card--somewhere in the mountains there's a visa w/ my name on it). If you look closely at "Bifurcation," you can see Judy standing on the rocks.


Originally uploaded by shermans.


Originally uploaded by shermans.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

F. Ll. Wright Fountain

F. Ll. Wright Fountain
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Taliesin West

Taliesan West
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Rick and Sharron (Mom and Dad to those in the know) left today after five days in the heat. Besides doing the foolhardy (golfing in 110 temps) and the obvious (going swimming in the pool), we went to Taliesin West.

[we will reconvene after a brief recess as Ciela has just decided to awaken and alter my plans for a blog entry]

Okay, so back in the saddle.

Visiting Scottsdale in July means more planning than usual. One can't just up and go for a nice walk during the afternoon as melting is a viable threat. J., C. and I hadn't been out here long enough to know of obvious indoor alternatives to the heat. Plus, we feared that July 4th would find a number of attractions--museums, historical sights, etc.--closed. And our plans for a day trip to the slightly cooler Sedona were scuttled because the wildfires threatened to close I17 all weekend. On hindsight, the whole weekend was a fine example of just how complex existence is in the desert. Even in the midst of this megalopolis, the sun, heat and fire still exercise a determining influence.

With this in mind, we elected to challenge nature in the most blunt and obnoxious way imaginable: we rented a room at a luxury spa and resort.

Resort rates are lower during the summer, for obvious reasons, and we live a five minute drive from one of the poshest: the Hyatt. With its 27 championship holes of golf, ten swimming pools including one with an actual beach, and promise of seeing the young, the rich and the surgically altered, it seemed the perfect way to give nature the finger.

Mind you, I went into this with eyes fully open. I recognized the subtle devastation of such luxury in the middle of such a harsh environment. But I also take a perverse pleasure in milling about such monstrosities--after all my dissertation did feature the ur-monstrosity Disney World.

[break number 2: time to put Ciela to bed]

Friday, July 01, 2005

7 Question Quiz

I volunteered to be tagged by Jo(e).

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?

Not trying to find a better job than busing tables after I graduated from Northwestern. Not a complete waste of a couple of years, but I could've done a lot better but was too scared to try.

Quitting guitar lessons in high school. I'm so desparate to have a musical skill now that I'm older.

Being shy for such a long time in my life. Every friend I've every had I wish I had known sooner. We have such a short time with each other that I feel very stupid for having wasted months and years because I was worried about what others thought of me.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

One single person? My wife, always trying to be the man she thought she married. Expanding beyond that...Tom LeClair, my advisor from grad school; I'm still trying to live up to that ideal. Paulo Lugari, founder of Gaviotas. This is an extreme "at this current moment" because I am struggling with a career crisis and a book about him is pulling me hard in one direction.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?

Jorge Luis Borges, Hunter S. Thompson (may he rest in peace), Laurance Sterne, Cervantes, Ed Abbey. That sounds like a fun dinner party.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

Still want to play that damn guitar.
Urban planners with an ounce of long-term thinking.
Soccer ball, fountain pen, newspaper, Wm Dean Howells, American Flag, canoe, and lots of other friends all to live within walking distance of my house.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

I regret that Scottsdale doesn't have a real downtown. (truth be told, I've only lived here a few weeks. I'm not entirely sure what we have and don't have)

Avoid July and possible August. I guess I would also avoid the water on the 18th hole at Silverado.

6. Name one event that has changed your life.

In my first year of grad school, reading an article about Andrew Ross and the idea that one could approach any text from an ecological point of view. That article, a puff piece in the departed Lingua Franca, altered my scholarship, my career and my sense of who I was as a person.

7. Tag 5 people.

I don't know five bloggers. They'll have to find this on their own.

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