Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

daily existence away from chicago

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Monday, August 29, 2005

The Long Spiral Downward

Take the quiz!

How far down the ladder do you have to go before you feel comfortable with a new president.

The Vice President Richard Cheney--Really, any impeachment of one is going to get the other.
Speaker of the House John Dennis Hastert--Yawn
President pro tempore of the Senate Ted Stevens--eek, drilling in the Arctic for sure.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice--the only way a black woman makes it to the oval office.
Secretary of the Treasury John Snow--He might pay attention to domestic issues.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld--worse case scenario.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales--torture allowed in grade school, and not just by nuns.
Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton--Yellowstone and Yosemite up for sale.
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns--Ich bin ein Cornhusker.
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez--can't choose him; Gutierrez was born in Cuba! Cubans can't be president.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao --Nice try, but Chao was born in Tawain. Asians can't be president.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt--National Health Care, but only for the healthy and wealthy.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson--best quote "Being poor is a state of mind, not a condition."
Secretary of Transportation Norman Yoshio Mineta--the rest of your life will be just as pleasant as commercial air travel.
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman--aka Dick Cheney
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings--all gay cartoon characters locked away or worse, erased.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson--being president would mean less work than dealing with thousands of injured vets.
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff--Oh, yes. Then we'd really be secure.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Terrorists in the Homeland

Crazy evangelist and all around man-of-god Pat Robertson advocates assassinating Hugo Chavez. Once again, the almighty gives me a perfect segue to blog about Sam Harris' book, _The End of Faith_.

The book is a serious and thorough indictment of religion in most of its guises. Harris deftly employs reason alongside with the numerous internal contradictions in Christianity, Judiasm and Islam to indict religion not only as the illogical and constricting social institution that it is, but also makes a strong case for religion being directly responsible for a good portion of deadly conflicts in both history and contemporary times. More frightening, he persuasively argues that without humanity moving beyond the primitive spirituality practiced in the big three religions based on texts and evidence from 2 millennia passed, we are doomed to nuclear annihilation.

I don't agree with some of his points, especially the argument for legitimizing torture, but I liked a lot of it. As a person increasingly frustrated by the stupidity foisted upon the world by people who willfully disengage their capacity for reason in order to propagate mythic stories about eternal paradise and hierarchies in which, not coincidently, they end up on top, this book articulated the case against religion far better than I can.

Below are some of the quotes I underlined. I actually had more, but Ciela pulled out a number of my post-it notes:

Harris, Sam The End of Faith: Religion, terror and the Future of Reason. New York: WW Norton, 2004.

17 “Some 46 percent of Americans take a literalist view of creation...This means that 120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.”

26 “give people divergent, irreconcilable, and untestable notions about what happens after death, and the oblige them to live together with limited resources. The result is just what we see: an unending cycle of murder and cease-fire.”

78 Quoting Bertrand Russell:
The Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants and then immediately dash their brains out: by this means they secured these infants went to Heaven. No orthodox Christian can find any logical reason for condemning their action, although all nowadays do so. In countless ways the doctrine of personal immortality in its Christian form has had disastrous effects upon morals.

99 On the doctrine of transubstantiation and the Fourth Lateran Council:
Henceforth, it was an indisputable fact of this world that the communion host is actually transformed at the Mass into the living body of Jesus Christ. After this incredible dogma had been established, by mere reiteration, to the satisfaction of everyone, Christians began to worry that these living wafers might be subjected to all manner of mistreatment, and even physical torture, at the hands of heretics and Jews. (One might wonder why eating the body of Jesus would be any less of a torment to him.)

173 Surely there must come a time when we will acknowledge the obvious: theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.

204 at the core of every religion lies an undeniable claim about the human condition: it is possible to have one’s experience of the world radically transformed....The problem with religion is that it blends this truth so thoroughly with the venom of unreason.

225 Nothing is more sacred than the facts. No one, therefore, should win any points in our discourse for deluding himself. The litmus test for reasonableness should be obvious: anyone who wants to know how the world is, whether in physical or spiritual terms, will be open to new evidence.

285n The New Age has offered little progress in this regard, because it has made spiritual life seem generally synonymous with the forfeiture of brain cells.

Ignore previous posts

they are just quick notes that I didn't have time to file.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

UPNE | Rethinking Disney

UPNE | Rethinking Disney : "Scott Hermanson"

Granta: Richard Powers

Granta: Richard Powers

Monday, August 22, 2005

Happy Jack

Check out my sister's very cool photos of my nephew--Happy Jack.

Encounter w/ Bureacracy

I'm home after a 1.5 hour ordeal of heat and traffic to go to human resources for payroll and verification. Instead, I was given a package to fill out and return--return! like I strolled over from across the block and didn't just drive 40 minutes with a cranky 1 year old--because no one told me I would need something more than a driver's license to get put into the system. This oversight also meant that I could not go to parking services to get a parking decal or bus pass. Which also meant that i could not park anywhere near my office (which is not really an office, but half a desk in a room with 6 other people).

All this is compounded by ASU neglecting to get me a contract until tuesday of last week, leaving me today or early tomorrow to fill out all my paperwork, get an id, get parking/bus pass, and open a computer account.

Frickin' paper pushers.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Eating an Elephant

I saw this quote atEating an Elephant, the blog of a History Grad student working through a dissertation. This is a pretty good view of what teaching is like.

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 (0r 400) people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there or were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he/she might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job." Donald Quinn

Riding the Train

Riding the Train
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A liberal takes her first steps

I started to blog this during the morning nap when the computer crashed. We have pushed our memory so far to the edge that she's breaking up at the edges.

We took Ciela to her first protest/vigil/rally last night. We were part of the 400-500 people lining the intersection of Camelback and 24th in Phoenix standing vigil alongside Cindy Sheehan in Texas. Personally, I don't believe that the president is obligated to speak with Sheehan, but I do think that the questions coalescing around her vigil do need to be addressed: questions concerning the false reasons for going to war, the inept handling of the occupation, and the growing corruption. We are trapped in an unjust war, and Sheehan has become a symbolic figure. She's certainly following in a long line of mothers of warriors standing in as the nagging conscience to power.

We stayed around for about an hour, pushing Ciela's temper, and then retired to chez beige to watch the news. Comical and inept as usual when it comes to local news. I almost never watch the local news because they have denegrated into half-hour long infantile babbling and commercials for forthcoming inept babbling...and the weather. FOX was pushing its investigative report on being a firefighter in Phoenix. After donning the full fireman's gear and hauling himself up a ladder in the practice "fire tower," the intrepid reporter came to the penetrating insight that it was hot. Stupid, stupid, stupid with at least three in-news promos AND it was done live. Live! Who really watches this shit?

The coverage that we did see about the protest can be reduced to two points: 1, gosh a lot more people came out here than we expected; 2, here's a schmuck we found near the protest who thinks W. is an allright guy.

Of note is that all the broadcasts that I was able to catch (4, if I remember correctly), felt compelled to present an "opposing view" to the protest. Now the story in and of itself was not about the war. See #1 above. The coverage was primarily about the numbers. Yet all the stations had somebody to respond. This was some misguided equal coverage, I suppose, but the upshot of the coverage was that 500 angry people organized for a night against a misguided war and one random guy off the street are equivalent arguments.

What is it about hawks that they are unable to understand the distinction between outrage at a stupid foreign policy move and feelings toward the individuals forced to carry out that policy. As a bleeding heart liberal, I've been against this war from the very beginning, but I'm not so stupid as to think that those who support it are gung-ho to see young Americans killed--even though that is the immediate result. What missing card from the decks of these idiots prevents them from seeing that a desire to bring military people home is not an insult to those men and women. We don't want them to die, and Tony FratBoy is "disgusted at what we are doing to the military." Frankie Silkshirt's stomach is turned "by these people and their attack on our military." It takes some incredible amount of stupidity and/or willful ignorance to see more dead people as good for the military and lots more live people as an affront.

Neither Judy, Ciela or I made the news.

Tressants - Invisible Cities

Rettberg blogged this pretty cool place in Spain. Scroll way down to be sure you get to the pool.

This is what good literature can provoke.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Cacti in silhouette

Cacti in sillouhette
Originally uploaded by shermans.

This past weekend we went to Payson, about an hour and a half north of Phoenix. The small town is a good base for exploring the Tonto National Forest and the Mogollon Rim. The Rim is where the Colorado Plateau begins, a fairly imposing cliff miles long across Arizona. South, the water flows south. North of the Rim, it goes north.

We were rained out our first day. We arrived arround 11:30am, checked in with the Ranger's station and our hotel, but by the time we had lunch, the thunderclouds had moved in. They stayed for the rest of the day and evening. Another interesting fact about the Mogollon Rim is that this is where the storms arise during the monsoon. The build over the mountains and then drift south over the desert valley. Usually, the storms start in the mid to late afternoon. We were unlucky to catch an early riser. Instead, we watched a cubs game in the hotel room and then treated ourselves to a nice Italian dinner with wine and two desserts. Saturday was better, with three hikes: along Tonto Creek, around the suspected trail blazed by an army general to supply Fort Apache, and up and down Tonto Natural Bridge to see...well, the natural bridge. The storm caught us on the way out of Payson to go home.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim
Originally uploaded by shermans.

The Mogollon Rim

Originally uploaded by shermans.

You should click on the picture to see the original at Flickr. It's pretty spectacular.

The monsoon strikes

The monsoon strikes
Originally uploaded by shermans.

This is the storm that caught us as we left town. The hills in front are lit in brilliant sunlight, and the sky behind them was absolutely dark. It looked very eerie and then just sheets of rain came down.

There are more pics at the site.

1001 Nights Cast

1001 Nights Cast
Refer for me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Where I get into a fight with Steve Nash

Ok, I really didn't get into a fight with Steve Nash, but apparently he did pass me and Ciela as we were jogging this morning (I was jogging: Ciela was riding). Some guy on a mountain bike zips by us from behind; no notice, no alert, not even a little bell. I make some loud comment along the lines of "Thanks for saying something." All I saw was long hair and shirtless, but another jogger coming in the other direction said it was Nash.

So there is my brush with greatness to go along with seeing John Mahoney in Oak Park and having a beer near Skip Prosser at Hap's in Cincinnati. With any luck, I'll bump into Family Circus's Bill Keane or legendary porn star Jenna Jameson, both residents in my neck of the valley.

I really don't see me as all that New York-ish

lou reed
You're Lou Reed.
God, you are cool, can I touch you so the magic
will rub off?
You are perceptive, witty, and badass. You wear
cool shades, even at night, and probably wear
black more than most people. You don't give a
fuck what other people think, but you are also
very sensitive in the way that you pick up on
things that others don't. Sometimes you come
off as an asshole, but that's what makes you
cool. You are a poet, and you embody New York
City. You will still be hip when you are old,
and artists love you.

Which rad old school 70's glam icon are you? (with pics)
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Meme Instead of Thought

Never let it be said that I passed up a perfectly good meme. This one seen at Scrivenings.

1a. What is your full name?
Scott Douglas Hermanson

1b. What is your first name?

1c. Were you named after anyone?
Oh, I'm sure lots of people were named before I was. There must be hundreds, thousands even.

2. What color pants are you wearing?
Khaki shorts.

3a. What are you listening to right now?
Silence right now, but a quick look at the iTunes reveals that...Richard Thompson "You, Me, Us?" was the last album of record.

3b. What is your most embarrassing CD?
Genesis "Invisible Touch." All those other really awful albums are Judy's.

4. What's the last thing you ate?
Leftover risotto w/ carrots and feta, tabouhli in a tortilla, chocolate sorbet.

5. Do you wish on stars?

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Burnt Sienna.

7. How is the weather right now?
Hot, 94 and high humidity with possible thunderstorm--deep in the heart of the monsoon in other words.

8. Last person you talked to on the phone?
Bicycle who went to the museum with me. BlueCross Blue Shield left me a message on the machine while I was gone.

9. Do you like the person at whose site you saw this?
Oh, yes, quite. He's ever so dreamy.

10. How old are you today?

11. Favorite drink?
Beer--dark ale.

12a. Favorite spectator sport?

12b. Favorite participatory sport?

13. What color are your eyes?

14. Do you wear contacts?
Nope--I'm in perfect eye-health.

15. Siblings?
One younger sister

16. Favorite month?

17. Favorite food?
Pasta Arrabiata

18. Last movie you watched?
On DVD, Ray. In the theater...God knows, its been so long. Probably Farenheit 911--opening weekend in Nebraska, good times.

19. Favorite day of the year?
I'm always partial to the day I turn in my final grades--so I have two favorite days of the year. I really, really like the thought of a long break away from teaching and the bureacracy.

20. What do you do to vent anger?
I don't.

21. Summer or winter?

22. Hugs or kisses?
Do guys have to answer this one?

23. Chocolate or vanilla?

24. Do you like your handwriting?

25. Red or pink?
What an odd dichotomy. Is this really a lawful pairing? Sign me up for red, but with an asterix for protest.

26. What's the furthest you've been from home?
Southern Italy

27. What did you do last night?
Watched the rest of a Six Feet Under episode, made reservations at a hotel in Payson, read.

28. Living arrangement?
A dull 3 bedroom apartment in a good location.Wife, daughter and python present. And at present one really annoying cricket hiding out in the potted plant that I have to drag into the bathroom so I can get some sleep.

29. When was the last time you cried?
I don't think we are that close yet.

30. What is under your bed?
Empty boxes for stereo equipment.

31. Who is the friend you've had the longest?
Friend from grade school, though I haven't spoken to him in a while. In regular contact: BD, high school friend and now brother-in-law.

32. Favorite smell?
garlic sizzling in oil

33. What are you afraid of?
That they are right, and I really am going to hell.

34. Popcorn - plain, buttered, or salted?
buttered and salted.

35. Favorite car?
bicycle (didn't I answer this at some point already?)

38. Can you juggle?

39. Favorite day of the week?

40. What did you do on your last birthday?
Bought flower pots, had the car washed, played golf. Coincidently, that was also father's day.

41. How many states have you lived in?

42. How many cities have you lived in?

43. How many countries have you lived in?

44. What was the first car you had?
1978 Honda Prelude, with sun-roof. A great car for driving down Michigan avenue when the Bulls when championships.

45. Where were you born?
Louisville, KY.

46. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Yes. I find myself fascinating. (Didn't I say this before?)

47. Do you have a journal?
Sort of: I have a blog. I have an extended letter that I am writing to my daughter. That's written in a journal. I have a small book where I pretend to write songs. I always have a blank book for writing down notes--at lectures, while reading, while bored at the drs office.

48. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Not nearly enough.

49. What are your nicknames?

50. Would you bungee jump?
Sure, but like Scriv, I most likely wouldn't pay to do it.

51. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Most of the time.

52. Do you think that you are strong?

53. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Stracciatella gelato.

54. Shoe Size?

55. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
We aren't that close yet.

56. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex?

57. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
The Beatles. (Though can we get a more recent representative division. R.E.M or the Replacements? The Replacements.

58. Do you have a special talent?
I can play goalie.

51. What is your ring tone?
Some sort of electronic rave thing that sounds cool to me but is probably completely unhip.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

weird search

I got a hit on my blog from an arabic google search looking for ".sex in a car girls with exciting undewear." I can't remember blogging about this particular topic, but it's nice to know that I'm starting to penetrate the Arab market.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tick tick tick tick

Summer's almost over. What have you done?

I moved to my eponymous town.

I met some nice people.

I've nearly finished my Rick Powers/Tom LeClair interview.

I've nearly finished the syllabus for new course.

I wrote a poem.

I made some phone calls.

I may or may not have had relations with a woman.

I caught some mysterious disease that has made my head hurt very badly
at times and really busted my budget for ibuprofen (or however you
spell that stuff).

I've biked approximately 200 miles.

I locked my keys in the trunk and had to take a $30 cab ride to get
the second set.

I bought a very tiny table and chairs set.



Originally uploaded by shermans.


Originally uploaded by shermans.


Originally uploaded by shermans.

Ciao redux

A couple of months ago I wrote about leaving Dana College and how unexpectedly emotional it was. I was most affected by the comments my students made about me as a teacher. They were very (extraordinarily) complimentary about my time there. The whole scenario was both uplifting and at times achingly felt.

Today, two of those students sent me a gift: a t-shirt with their favorite Hermanson sayings from the last year. I include them here without comment except to say I remember saying most of them, and the rest certainly seem plausible. It is interesting to find out what sticks after the final exams are finished.

15) "Pants" is one of the finniest words in the English language.
14) You guys are by far the most attractive class I've ever had.
13) It's the equivalent of "put your hands in the air! Lemme heaer ya say 'Yeah!'" Whitman was the first rapper.
12) Man, John is en fuego. Hey, maybe I'm Spanish!
11) Well, the thing is... Hey, I can see you all in the T.V.!
10) The Gates of Heaven have opened and are singing in your margins!
9) I love the dash! It's like the coolest punctuation mark ever!
8) Cool, I'm black! Hey, maybe I can dance!
7) Women shouldn't write so much. They're not very good at it.
6) Emily Dickinson is the SUV of poetry.
She falls over easily?
Yeah, she's top heavy.
5) It's like the water of Concord made everyone self-reliant.
4) I'm fascinating! I wanna hear what I have to say!
3) Minimum wage goes from whipping to five cents an hour.
2) This may be the first time I ever realized I was wrong.
1) I am Scott Hermanson. I am a kosmos.

Okay, some comments.
1. Apparently I use exclamation points a lot when I talk.
2. My ego may be as large as Judy claims.
3. I hope we all understand that #7 was most likely said sarcastically or perhaps as ventriloquism.
4. All that aside, "Minimum wage goes from whipping to five cents an hour" is damn funny stuff.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Baby Having Fun

Roll 75 - 8
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Cruisin' the Pool

Roll 74 - 9
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl


Yeah, dig those crazy jungle sounds. Lionel Hampton, eat your heart out, man.

Eat that chicken! Eat that chicken!

Doin' it, baby, doin' it!

Ah, this is kid's stuff, baby. I need something that grooves. I mean seriously grooves, man.

portrait 2



Kick in the Casio tones. Casio tone nation.

Dig the genius of the left hand. The genius, my friend, of the left hand.

Baby, I am large.

All the wine is all for me.

I'm sorry, but the motorcade will have to go around me this time.

Portrait 3


Bring it down, now, daddy. Bring it down.

Let's get funky in the back room.

Got to get in D. Got to get in D!

Funky D,

Groovy D.

Down D.

Got to get something funky, funky. Funky!

Keyboards is too square, baby.

portrait 4


What! I supposed to do with this? This ain't funky.

I mean, it's very Django Rheinhardt, but we're trying to get it on, not in some K.C. 1920s, Natchez Queen groove.

Get out the big guns.

portrait 5


Oh, yes. Now it's gettin' hot.

High beams are shining up my back.

I'm a festival. I'm a parade.

The canals all go straight to me, when in Rome, they do as me.

I carry the whole dollhouse on my shoulders.

I've renamed the all the animals: they cycle around me.

I am an infinite sphere. My center is everywhere.
I have no boundaries.
Circumscribe this, baby.

I AM the catalytic converter.

Goodnight, Cleveland!

Roll 75 - 25
Originally uploaded by shermans.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


So the monsoon finally came through with some serious butt-kickin' weather. I'd post some pictures, but we were too scared to open the door after getting soaked and then pelted with hail stones the first time we tried it. For the first week or so of the monsoon season, we just got a lot of high winds, lightening and little bits of percipitation. It didn't seem like such a big deal. But like the heat that didn't seem all that bad at 105 and then inexorably crept up to 115, the rains came with a vengence.

For those that have visited, the golf course, Silverado, was underwater. And I don't mean some whimpy metaphor for wet fairways and some unauthorized standing water. I mean, the WHOLE fairways were a moving river heading south. And I saw it around 10:00am, some 8 hours after the major part of the storm. Lest you think that this is similar to midwestern storms that eventually flood out golf courses, remember that we just finished a stretch that was the driest and nearly the hottest July on record. In the midwest, the ground gets waterlogged and eventually, over the course of a few days, the water builds up and has no where to go. This happend in a few hours. Just amazing. Its a whole new world out here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


So after having Sebald's book on the nightstand for months, I finally built up some momentum and finished it. Sebald is a remarkably idiosyncratic writer. A lot of back cover blurbs compare him to Kafka, and I can see a certain resemblance, but he truly is a unique voice. I had read Rings of Saturn based on the recommendation of D. and I really enjoyed it, and hence bught Austerlitz.

Sebald is definitely the persistance of modernism. I enjoyed his take on the evaporation of meaning that, for Europeans especially, is epitomized by the Holocaust. In Austerlitz, this emptiness pervades the contemporary landscape of London, Paris, Prague and by extension, all of Europe. The rationalization that lead to the Jewish ghettos and Auschwitz is mirrored in the Bibliotheque Nationale. The German precision of the map of Theresienstadt ghetto, described in psuedo multisyllabic congomes characteristic of the German language, echoes in the impeneterable bureacratic complexity of the library where the main character eventually abandons the search for facts about his father, relying, instead, on the power of his imagination, essentially seeking out the irrational where the rational not only fails but violently erases.

Another thing to love about Sebald are the photographs, the empty windows and shuttered doors of Terezin, the haunting image of the documents room for Theresienstadt--20 foot walls completely lined with small 18 inch cubes, each filled with files documenting the history of the ghetto. In the middle, a sparse table and four chairs. On the wall, a clock. The picture awesomely captures the stark banality of evil--the meticulous reduction of a tragedy into line items, records, tables, functions, sums, and subtractions.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Not Your Soldier

One way to stop the increasing militarism of the culture.

Who Links Here