Monthly Archives: November 2016


I am thankful to be at my home for Thanksgiving.  Yes, it is nice to see family and to be with family, but to be in my own home with no football on the TV is a small thing.  In the vast timelines of the Universe, the watching of football games have had no bearing on my life, but so many Thanksgivings have been so very boring due to the TV watching limitations.  Of course, now Sam and I will have to decide what to watch!  Will it be Buffy?  Will it be Star Trek?  Who knows!

A post on Facebook has me thinking, a post by my friend T – he says its disingenuous to be a Thanksgiving Scrooge, and I agree with him.  It is what it says on the tin – a day of Thanksgiving.  I’d love it to be removed from buckled hats and headdresses.  It’s one in a long line of pre-Winter celebrations, the success of the harvest.  We’ve harvested some in our garden, but not enough for winter – so we give thanks for the bounty of the world we live in.

There’s enough to go round, if only we could figure it out.

So, I spend this weekend in contemplation, in transit, on a tree farm, in a dentist’s chair, ignoring the nagging in the back of my head.  Baking, as well.  I love to cook.

We are cooking the turkey from Milk Street this year, which will be strange as I’ve never basted in my life.  What will come of this experiment?  Well, I am hopeful.  And there will be green beans and mashed potatoes – we don’t stretch too far come Thanksgiving.  At the family Christmas on Friday we are eating walking tacos and celebrating companionship.  Grandpa has hit the big 9-9 as well, which is a huge cause to celebrate, though he seems so tired.  He seems happier most of the time.


I don’t know who will visit tomorrow, but I do know a few.  It’s not something I’m overly concerned about, except that people need to stay out of the kitchen.  The eternal struggle – our kitchen is too small.  It is okay, but too small for people who love to can and make and bake.  The kids, too.

Also on Thanksgiving comes Sam’s birthday.  In the interest of decorum, the age remains silent, but youthfulness is still part of the equation.  We are young, yet, and I hope soon to find the final stop on our journey.  We like our house – but we do not enjoy the city.  To move from the city would be a grand event, indeed.

I would have my yelling kids dressed up and kicked out more often.  That’s one allowance I might change.  Because they are not yelling in anger, but in play – and play belongs in the backyard.  Soon they will have to wash their hands so we can bake Sam’s cake.  It will contain strawberries and love, because love is a secret ingredient.

Dad will be here, my sister may be here in a surprise twist of events.  I am excited to roast a turkey and to cook so many dishes the way I like them.  Oh yes.  Thanksgiving is partially about greed, too, so I am being greedy and making food the way I want to.

(Note – in deference to my students, I am trying to not use the same “Dead words” they are not allowed to use in class:  Thing, cool, fun, stuff.  I don’t know that I’m doing as well as I’d like, but they are on top of me like crazy in the classroom!


Hooptedoodle is a Steinbeck word, not a Vonnegut word.  I don’t know how the two men considered each other, if at all.

I’ve been roused from a slumber by the Kurt Vonneguys into re-reading Kurt’s work, damn you, Kurt Vonnegut!  With your penchant for accurately describing the human experience!  And it is fabulous to read Kurt again, it’s been a long vacation.  It’s a spur – I’ve been spurred – to write again.  These past weeks have brought a flow from me, a flow of words onto pages.  Long hand!  With a ball point!  These are not deep or dark secrets.

And yet, the dark specter of blerchery comes to tell me “why bother?”  Oh, the pages I’ve written longhand are garbage.  They are garbage – who will I show them to without embarrassment?  That’s what the mind tells me, until I feel spurred again.  This time, I am powering through it – or so I think.

Elections spur me.  I have things to say, and nothing at all.  My words reach a degree of metatext that no one wants to read.  Or do they?  Are you reading this?  Poo-tee-weet?

Vonnegut, man, Vonnegut.  His earlier novels are so bleak, so dark and twisted, there is no hope within them.  His later novels are bleak, too, but with hope at the end.  This is a terrible, cruel world we live in, so, dammit, we’ve got to be nice to each other.  This is not inferred from years of writing, Vonnegut makes it quite explicit throughout – telling us so in Man Without a Country.

If you are not listening to Kurt Vonneguys, Oh! You should.  It is incredibly entertaining and fun and a valuable use of time.  I know I’m sure enjoying it.  It is two guys from the Cracked website reading their way through Kurt chronologically.  I don’t know how the short fiction works into it, but I assume they will read those as collections.

My first Vonnegut was no doubt Slaughterhouse V, read over a weekend car ride to my grandparents.  I had not ever held such a specter of death and so much went over my head.  My mother recommended Welcome to the Monkey House which was not something a sheltered 8th grader was ready for.  I have read most of Kurt’s work, stifling only at Player Piano, which I attempted once more a week or so ago.  But it is so incredibly boring, I won’t try again for years.

Mother Night – here is a book I have recently finished in a weekend, and it is a powerful treatise on propaganda and silence, of the terrible things people do in wars, no matter how important they may be.  Vonnegut did not care to glorify war, it was necessary and dirty and not something to celebrate.  In Mother Night, there is no hope for the un-hero, he is not a man to pity or enjoy.  There is little hope for anyone – but later on, we will see hope emerge in Vonnegut, and I want to know why.

Will hope emerge again in America?  For many, it already has, but I don’t agree with that side of the aisle.  I am helped by news of solar roofs and carbon sequestration, but little else.  If I wrote a book now, there may be no hero – there is no hero in the book I am writing now.

I read my words and see youth played out still, though I am now an old man.  My age belies me.  How do authors do it?


What’s Next?

Conferences are over.  I have a class that’s half over.  The school year is a quarter over – we are in the worst marking period for teaching, the one that is divided by many breaks, and one of my good friends has had to take a break from political discussion.  Too much stress.

I’ve got about a thousand things to do, which I’m sure you do, too.  And I’m tired and feel full of fuzz today, but I wanted to type, I wanted to talk to the wilderness.

With the end of conferences, much stress evaporated.  I have to deal with no sub today, a whirlwind drive to Kalamazoo, but that’s not a big deal.  I’m picking up salmon eggs, which is okay.  I’ll enjoy the drive alone with a podcast, but it is an hour both ways.  For not a lot of bang.

My mind is filled with nonsense – I’ve been writing again, but only for two days so I do not feel accomplished.  And I am distracted by the concerns of college classes, school concerns, family life (the most important), and other.  Definitely a lot of other.

But I will persevere, mainly because I don’t really have anything to persevere against.  Life’s pretty all right right now, despite the nagging concern that we are all going to die in climate related disasters and things like white supremacists in the white house.  Aside from that, everything is fine.


Thank You For Your Service

I thought I’d do a little research into Veteran’s Day.  Kurt Vonnegut fans (and others) will remember it started as Armistice Day after World War 1.  The Atlantic had a well-written piece about it two years ago.

I like Armistice Day.  I like a day dedicated to peace and recognizing how terrible war is – something I think we need to remember today.  It’s been argued that Veteran’s Day encourages a sort of heroism that is more in line with blind Nationalism than truly wanting to serve the country, and I can’t say one way or the other.

We have Veterans Day.  I would prefer Armistice Day, but we have Veterans Day.  I know many veterans whom I respect not only for their service, but because they are human beings deserving of it.  Many of them fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and they did not get to choose why they fought because they had pledged to do service for our country.

Veterans chose to sacrifice part of their lives and risk losing them.  For that, I thank them.  They did what they had to do, put life and limb on the line in defense of our country.  That’s not an easy choice.  It is brave and it shows fortitude and I carry a great respect for all members, past and present, of our armed services because they will do what many of us are able to choose not to do, and that is risk their lives in defense of the US.

I know veterans, too, who are ready to jump back in when the time comes.  I know veterans who would refuse – their service has given them only a desire for peace. It’s easy to guess which I might sit with at lunch.

So, Veterans Day we have and Veterans Day we will keep – this day is for the living.  This is the day to thank those who have fought.

Soft Skills

It’s been a long time.  I always feel compelled to say “well, now I’ll start blogging” but I probably won’t, since anxiety so often sinks its hooks into me.  It feels like there’s other things I have to do, and I’m so tired of having so many things I have to do.  It’s not the world I was promised.

Elon Musk spoke up earlier this week about Universal Basic Income.  The truth of the matter is that people are going to be automated out of work – it’s not going to be anything they can “hard work” their way out of.  And it will happen because it will be cheaper for the companies.  The US will probably see a bunch of other countries do it, and we won’t, because socialism is bad or whatever.

That’s an aside – I’m very happy with my family.  That’s what I wanted to say, and instead of spending yesterday with them I was at school doing grades.  Hooray.  Grades are amongst my least favorite items of teaching, but they are done and now a new marking period dawns.

Man, this is a tough blogging experience.  Oh well.  They can’t all be winners.

I’m tired, and I’m going to go vote, and I’m sick of this election.  The unseasonably warm weather is concerning as well.  It’s hard to be a positive person lately, the eternal optimist.  Which I haven’t been lately and that’s discouraging.  It’s not at “Office Space” level, and never will be, but it’s concerning nonetheless.