Friday, August 20, 2010

First Impressions

On Wednesday, August 19 2010, my mom and I swam into the city of St. Joseph. You should read the word "swam" in a near literal sense as the humidity is intense. You could also think of it in terms of the sea of oversized insects that we drove through to get here. First impressions? Honestly, I was not ready to be here emotionally. I feel like I have left a lot behind me in Portland and Oregon. Anyway, St. Joe's is a small (75k) town about 60 miles north of Kansas City. It is pretty economically depressed and doesn't have the gentrified glitter or the weirdness of PDX for sure, but it is now "home".

Speaking of home, my new apartment is in the Mitchell Park Plaza. It is awesome. Pics will post later.

Anyway, after a failed attempt at a run today (weather + a broken treadmill at the hotel) I am back on the bed at the Drury Inn (full circle--this is where I stayed when I interviewed at MWSU) awaiting the movers who should come tomorrow with any luck at all.

So, as the old postcard from the game of Life once joked, "Keep writing so I can keep the home fires burning."

Which means--Stay in touch.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to the Blog

Well apologies for being gone for those of you who read this (I am guessing not many)! It's been a crazy summer full of life changes and I finally have the time to think about this blogspot. I have recently moved back to Portland, OR, and have finally settled into a nice routine. I am working at Lewis and Clark College for the year as well as Portland State.

So, what is the point of the day?
I would suggest that everyone go to the John McCain website and look at his dishonorable and deceptive ads. While earlier I said we needed more in this country than just the Mantra of Change, I believe now that we need Obama (and Joe Biden) more than anything. We are in dangerous times, economic and global, and we need leaders who are willing to lead and take this nation forward. 

What does this mean? It means that collectively we must fight against the deception of the McCain camp. While he claims he is a centrist I would suggest (as evidenced by his rapid shift on immigration policy) that he is nothing more than a political opportunist. This is not the John McCain of 2000, who make have been able to lay claim to the Maverick label. The time has come my friends, and that time is now, to rise up and reclaim our country our take us forward.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Cheers all,
I am sorry that I have been absent from the blogging world for awhile. It has been a less then pleasant month for me. My sister in San Jose had a near death experience, and while she survived (thank God) a week of waiting in the ICU took its toll on me emotionally. She still has several things that she needs to work out and through, but with any fortune we will collectively catch a break and things will work out for the best.

However, the experience did get me thinking a lot of about happiness and what we need and require in this life of ours. I think that we don't spend enough time reflecting on what we really need to achieve happiness in this world. It is much like the famous line from Real Genius, the old 80s flick starring Val Kilmer--"Moles and trolls, Molls and Trolls, work work work..." I know that there are plenty of people who are more erudite than I am who have extolled the horrors of our consumer driven society, but I sill think that it is worth spending some time reflecting upon.

So, my new pledge is to try and not be part of the consumer tradition in the US, and embark on finding a true sense of happiness within myself. See, I think that my sister had lost that sense of happiness, and while I regret more than words can say the fact that I could not recognize that, I realize now that I do not want to lose it within myself.

Of course, this is complicated, because for my given profession, we are denied the full freedom of choices that exist for other people. While the life of a university professor is pretty grand (I am writing a blog at 2pm on a Friday) the labor market for academics is pretty twisted. I have posted about this problem earlier, as some of you may know, so I don't need to rehash it again.

So, what are my goals to happiness? They are actually pretty simple. They begin with appreciating fully all that life has given me over the years. This includes a loving (if not horrible dysfunctional) family, amazing friends, a great education, and the opportunity to have traveled around the world. I am healthy, and reconnecting with my past and thinking about my future, all without a Wii, a surround sound home theater, or a designer label. Life is indeed beautiful.

So, to close this off today, to anyone who is reading I would ask you to join me in rediscovering the happiness in your life. Smell the proverbial flowers, tiptoe through the tulips, hug your partner, children, and friends. Remember, life is worth living and there is nothing for sale at any retail outlet that is a substitute for that.

Peace and thanks for listening...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Acadmic Uncertainty

So here is the deal and the reason why I find life so frustrating sometimes. Between my undergraduate, two masters and Ph.D. degrees, I have spent roughly 15 years of my life in engaged in higher education. Aside from the time commitment, which you must admit is hefty, there is an accompanying financial commitment to Uncle Sam. So one would think that with this type of self-investment, I would be in a great position to find the job of my dreams and live happily ever ater.

The sad part of the story is that is simply not the case. Academia engenders an incredible amount of uncertainty, in spite of a person's skills and training. What I mean is simply this; If a "normal" person wants to live in San Francisco, Portland, Boston, wherever, they can go move there and try to make a living. This is a luxury that academics do not have. If you know me, you know that there is nothing more that I would like then to move back to Oregon and live in Portland. But I don't have that flexibility, at least not as an academic.

This is just grumbling, but it is worth reflecting on. 15 years of your life and thousands of dollars of dept just for the privilege of having no control over your life. Seems a bit of a raw deal to me.

Anyway, thanks for listening and remember, without evil there can be no good.

Friday, January 18, 2008


If we need to retire one word at the end of 2008, it is the word change. There is not a single candidate, on either side of the political fence, who is not chanting this word as the mantra of their campaign.


Only the most painfully of the uniformed out there would deny that this country and our politics needs to change. However, there is more to change then just saying the word. The reality is that we need deeds, not words, if we want to turn our political situation around.

While Senator Obama is very good at using the rhetorical rhythm of the southern minister to make the listener (myself included) feel as if they are part of history, real change is more than that. Collectively we need to make history, not just choose to be a part of it. In the end, if we want change to happen, and I think I am ripping off Ghandi here, we have to be the change that we want to see happen. For me, this means we should all be a little nicer. Maybe we should try to exercise some patience.

Maybe we should just try to exercise something.

How about buying blue instead of selling out red? Try believing in real organic and, dare I say it, localized, organic foods. This means not buying into the super store routine of selling "organic" Kraft Mac and Cheese, but stopping and thinking about the choices we make.

You know, upon reflection, I was wrong. We don't need change in this country. We need a permanent revolution coupled with a reinvigoration of our connection to each other and to the planet.

Anyway, as always,
Without Dr. Evil there can be no good....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Civic Responsibility

I was thinking today that I spend a lot of time discussing civic engagement and civic responsibility in my classes and when I do so it is always with an activist voice. I try hard to conceal my political leanings, arguing right or left it doesn't matter, get out and get involved.

Upon reflection, that advice is disingenuous. It does matter what side you are on in the debate any more. I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine, and he drop in the well used line that if you aren't mad, you aren't paying attention. Rarely in our history has this been more true. Face it friends, when did progressive values such as respecting people, taking care of others, providing a solid education, and caring for our environment become wrong.

The time has come, and the time is now, for us to act with some civic responsibility and take back our government and country. To paraphrase from the American President, you fight the fights that are worth fighting. Never in my lifetime has there been a fight more worth fighting.

Look, I don't have kids and probably never will, but we have a collective obligation to create a future that we can be proud of. We must not forget that our destiny is our own, and even the most bitter harvest can be replanted. It is not too late for us to stand up for the rights of others and the rights of future generations.

So get out there and get angry. Every time a conservative candidate, colleague or friend tries to sell you a diamond ring for ten cents, remind them that they are selling you a diamond ring that's not worth a dime. Demand more, of yourself, of others, of our elected leaders and our ability to take control of our future.

Remember, without Dr. Evil, there can be no good....

About me?

Who is that face in the shadow? Who is the man behind the mask?

Well for those of you who have any interest in me, let me drop you a few nuggets of information to satiate your salivating desire for information.

Q: Who am I?
A: Oh that is too easy, and at the same time it is too hard. Who really knows who they are in this wide world. Our identities, despite attempts at purity, are as malleable as politicians political views. We change every day, I change every day.

Q: Fine, so why are you qualified to give opinions on the internet?
A: Fair enough. If I were arrogant, which despite some comments to the contrary I am not, I would say that I am fierce smart and tapped into the pulse of life. In honesty, I have some experience to comment on some things with expertise. I have a Ph.D. in Political Science, and feel pretty comfortable discussing events that relate to the field. Aside from that, I am person who listens and interacts with other people on a daily basis. I feel and live life alongside you all and given that I think my thoughts are pretty important. Who knows, they may not be, but that is for you all to decide.

Q: What are you going to blog about? Just politics?
A: I will blog about whatever catches my fancy. However, it will never be one of those tedious, today I got up and took a shower blogs. Trust me, there are times that even I cannot stand the tedium of my personal life and I would never inflict that upon someone else (except my closest of friends and family.) Sometimes there will be insightful commentary, sometimes a funny bit, often a rant, and even the occasional reflection on the meaning of life.

Q: How often?
A: Whenever I get time. I am currently working on a few things for publication and starting research on a new book project, so this is a distraction not a priority. But hey, we all need an outlet from time to time.

So if you have other questions, let me know. No promises on an immediate ansewr, but I do promise a straight answer when I can.