Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine


Science Fiction Double Feature

Back in the 70s, one of the Philadelphia UHF stations dedicated its Saturday afternoon airwaves to B-grade horror and science fiction movies. Horror Theater and Mad Theater (the show name varied according to the genre of movie being shown) were presided over by local personality Joseph Zawislak, aka Dr. Shock, an amiable vampire/mad scientist hybrid. Perhaps it is exposure to this program during my formative years that has always blurred the distinction between horror and sci-fi for me. In any case, it is with a tip of the cap to the good Doctor that I offer up a double bill of Halloween-ish playlists....


I turn 50 this year, a milestone that is neither particularly unusual nor particularly difficult to reach. Nevertheless, custom seems to dictate that I mark such an event in some way. So I rolled out of bed one morning, recalled the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir from last year, and decided if Stephin Merritt is allowed the indulgence of writing a song for every year of his life, I could at least get away with making a playlist of songs from every year of mine.


Visualizing ennui

I know my blogging has never been exactly punctual or steady, but with my las post having been made in January of last year , I'm not sure I can even claim to have a blog any more. Oddly enough, at no point in the last 20+ months did I say to myself, "I'm going to quit blogging for a while." I've always had intentions, sometimes more vague than others, of getting back into the blogging swing; I've just kept finding excuses or distractions to stay away from it. ...

…going soundlessly smash…

Nineteen years ago this weekend, my heart was captured. Three years ago this weekend, my heart was broken. I am not over this. I can't imagine being over this....

Favorite Albums of 2011

Maybe it is fitting that it has taken me until April Fool's Day to finally finish writing this. It certainly feels foolish to be going on about last year's albums a quarter of the way through the current one. But I am stubborn enough to post it anyway. I'd pretty much settled on my favorites back in February, but I needed to get that piece about what star ratings mean to me out of my system first (only partly to create some padding between this post and last year's favorite albums post), and then life intervened a little, and, well, here we are....

Oh my stars

This is the post I was trying to write earlier this month before I realized that what was supposed to be a parenthetical explanation of my Mix-o-matic playlist was spiraling out of control and needed to be quarantined in its own post. If it wasn't already clear from that post, I spend an absolutely inordinate amount of time thinking about the star ratings I assign songs in iTunes. That's partly because I rely on ratings to fuel things like the Mix-o-matic, and partly because I am just kind of obsessive that way. So obsessive, in fact, that I feel obliged to expose my thought process here....

Albums of 2010 revisited

In my usual late-to-the-party fashion, I am still working on my favorite albums of 2011 list (it's a smaller field than 2010 was, but a lot of the albums came out—or I only acquired them—late in the year, so my feelings on a lot of this stuff are still a bit unformed). In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to look back on my 2010 list (which, embarrassingly, is only two posts ago) and see if I still agree with myself.


Favorite albums of 2010

I have not made a practice of doing yearly ‘Top Albums’ lists. Usually, I am so far behind on and so slow to form opinions about new releases that any such list would have to be woefully incomplete and/or laughably late in arriving. This past year, however, I actually did manage to listen to a good bit of the year's music and had at least a few strong opinions about what I'd heard. I tweeted a provisional Top 10 countdown in the waning minutes of the year, and I probably would have left it at that, but the Grammy awards (and the hubbub over The Arcade Fire winning album of the year) got me thinking about this again.

So ...

More facts

I've been doing some re-connecting with people I'd lost touch with over the years, and my first step has generally been to point them toward April's Just the Facts post so I wouldn't have to go through all that exposition each time. But those facts are getting a bit outdated, so I figured it's time advance the exposition a bit....

Just the facts

Six weeks ago, I made cryptic allusions to ‘stuff’ and vague promises of an explanation. Today I am going to try to make good on that promise. I am going to try to keep this limited to basic facts because there is still much to this ‘stuff’ that is painful, that I feel confused about, or that I just don't feel comfortable writing about in public. Still, I think it is important to get these few facts out to clarify some things for friends and other interested parties who may be puzzled about my behavior, especially in the last 3 months or so. In addition, until I can these things out into the open, I think I am going to have a hard time moving forward with many things in my life, including this blog (which I do have hopes of returning to at least it's former level of irregular activity). So, then:

Shameless placeholding post

Well, Phase 2 of The Great Adventure is drawing to a close: I am sitting in the Hannover airport waiting to head home. I've been trying for two days to write something that would (a) serve as some kind of thoughtful reflection on this experience and (b) break my latest unplanned blogging hiatus before I actually left the country. It's obvious now that I won't be coming up with (a) any time soon, so I am settling for just (b). Voila! Hiatus broken! (Thoughtful reflections possibly to follow once I am back in the US of A.)

Il mondo cambia

Almost a week later, the significance of this year’s election is slowly starting to dawn on me. My initial reaction was a feeling of anticlimax. I was in Rome on election day with only the most tenuous of Internet connections, and in any case polls had not even closed on the east coast by the time I went to bed, so I missed out on the actual deciding moment and had to wait until Wednesday morning to get confirmation of Barack Obama’s victory. And while the training I’ve had as a supporter of the Phillies and other lost causes has taught me that failure is always a possibility, the tea leaves and entrails had been pointing pretty decisively toward the result for the past month, so I wasn’t exactly at the edge of my seat. Mostly, I felt relief that the whole thing was finally over.

But I a...

Of two minds

Phase 2 of The Great Adventure is now in full swing. I've managed to get into something like a routine in my new career as a telecommuter, and it is going surprisingly well. Indeed, the thing that I thought would be hardest—simply disciplining myself to ‘go to work’—has actually been quite easy. School/daycare for the kids, as well as other domestic obligations, provide a built-in structure to the day and working just becomes part of that, much as it was back home. I also have the advantage of being able to hole up in Sylvia's university office on her non-teaching days, which helps with focus. And of course, I am quite aware of the fact that I've been given something of a gift by my employer being able to do this, so I'm all the more motivated to prove to them it was not ill-advised.

The par...

The great adventure: Phase 1 complete (Thank God)

So, the first phase of the Great Adventure wrapped up 10 days ago, when I again made the trek from Kentucky through New Jersey and thence to Germany and rejoined the family in Germany. While Phase 2 carries with it its own set of challenges (notably my adjustment to telecommuting and learning to function in Germany at something above an advanced tourist level), my feeling is that this is going to be a piece of cake compared to the previous two months, which were, in the final analysis, pretty sucky....

Tiny changes

I'm not sure if it is a measure of how much I miss my family or just an indication that I am going soft in my old age, but when a friend pointed me, some weeks ago, toward the following video for Frightened Rabbit's Head Rolls Off, I found myself sitting in my office, transfixed and teary-eyed....

42.5 minutes of hope

For almost three decades—my entire adult life and then some—I have been utterly baffled and frequently saddened by American politics. I just cannot fathom what it is about the Republican Party's melange of fear-mongering, intolerance, and plutocracy that ‘average Americans’ find so comforting. Nor have I understood why the Democratic Party has been more or less in retreat ever since Reagan's landslide election in 1980 (yes, I am aware of Bill Clinton's presidency). Feeling so completely alienated from this climate, I've watched my own politics devolve into a mixture of cynicism and naiveté: expecting little from politicians and still finding ways to be profoundly disappointed by them.

So it's ...

"She moved so easily, all I could think of was sunlight"

At the risk of looking like I am bragging (when, really, I am just trying to bask in some reflected glory), I have to announce that Sylvia has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship for the coming year. This was part of the plan for the Great Adventure all along, but the Fulbright people took their sweet time in making their decision, so we had to decide whether we were going to go through with it regardless of the result or not. Obviously, we chose the former, and we were prepared to make it work that way. But the award makes it all easier, not to mention more glamorous. Mostly, I am happy for Sylvia because it provides the culmination of tremendous effort and initiative on her part. In the 15 years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen her fail to accomplish something once she put her mind to it. I am proud to know her, and if the fact that this intelligent, dedicated, and consummately professional woman allows me to associate with her casts me in a somewhat better light, well, I’ll ride those coat-tails as far as they'll take me.

The great adventure: Single life begins

With base camp more or less established and my annual allowance of vacation consumed, I am back home again. Nothing very remarkable to report about it all, except that it took a damn long time (from 4:30am taxi pickup to arrival at my doorstep here, with stops in Moorestown, NJ, and Elkview, WV, was about 60 hours). This week has been spent getting caught up at work and vaguely trying to reorganize myself for the next couple months....

Filed under Ego .

Adventures in wi-fi poaching

Day 7 without internet, and panic is starting to kick in. Yesterday, I made a solo expedition down the Lister Meile, a long shopping street extending, spoke-like, from the Hannover Hauptbahnhof out to the edge of List (our neighborhood), ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining a couple useful things (money and a subway map), but really an attempt to track down an Internet café or otherwise get myself online. After a couple hours of marching past closed shopfronts (it was a Sunday after all), I finally managed to land in a restaurant that, while not exactly advertising itself as an Internet cafe, did offer free wireless access. For the price of a cappuccino and having to endure an episode of MTV's That's Amore! with German subtitles, I was able to connect long enough to do some emergency email maintenance and download some new podcast episodes (which should make my return flight a little more bearable). I did not get around to uploading blog entries, however. Ah well.


Domestic affairs

It is Day 4 of the Great Adventure. We are still working on establishing Base Camp, but we’ve succeeded in unpacking, and actually finding places for the heaps of things we brought with us from the US. (We’ve also already started the list of critical things we forgot to bring.) We have also successfully used all of the major appliances in the apartment at least once (admittedly, the oven was only used to make toast; we haven't actually cooked a proper meal yet). We don't have Internet yet—except for the irregular interludes when we can mooch off some neighbor's unprotected wireless signal—and it won’t be set up until after I leave (which means that if you are reading this I have already returned or I discovered an Internet café somewhere nearby). Since the Adventure has not exactly generated much of a narrative yet, I'll fall back on making a few random observations at this juncture.

  • I have c...

Beginning of a great adventure

I am writing from Hannover, Germany, at the outset of what will be a year-long adventure for our family. Like any real adventure, it involves a foray into unknown territory and an element of danger but also the promise of great rewards. Summarized, it is simply this: Sylvia is on sabbatical this coming year and she is spending that year as a visiting professor at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität here. Stated that way, it hardly seems like Indiana Jones material, but the repercussions of that one decision are what bring in the element of adventure. Dante and Licia are also spending the year in Germany: Licia will complete first grade in a German school, while Dante will enter a German Kinderladen. I am only here for a couple weeks (my annual vacation allowance) while everyone gets settled; then it’s back to Kentucky and work for me. However, I've negotiated a six-month work-from-home arrangement with my dean that will allow me to come back in September and be here for all of Sylvia's first semester of teaching (we are choosing to interpret ‘home’ very liberally in this arrangement). So, there are challenges for everyone. Sylvia has to be a single parent for two months now and four more next summer while teaching new classes in an unfamiliar university environment. The kids get all the usual trauma of moving—new home, new environment, new school, new friends—plus the added challenge of being thrown into the deep end with the German language. As for myself, I’ll be splitting time between two existences, both rather different than my current one: country bachelor while I am in Kentucky and globe-trotting telecommuter while I am here. I’m not sure which one of those scares me more. Both will require degrees of discipline I am not sure I possess.

Fortunately, w...

Awaking from my long winter's nap

Well, neither I nor Donut Age are dead, I am pleased to report. I have just been hibernating, if you can call spending several hours a day on an MMORPG for three and a half months (more on that later) hibernating, which, I suppose, you really can’t. But that, along with working and, occasionally, sleeping is basically how I have been riding out the cold, dark winter months.


Heavy rotation: Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 2007

Here's installment number two of of my new format for music-logging. One thing that is already clear is that given my listening habits, which are structured around the monthly cycle of my eMusic subscription, the weekly "top artists" lists are going to have a fair amount repetition in them from one week to the next. I don't know if that's a problem per se—in fact it might be interesting to see if my enthusiasm for a brand new acquisition sustains for several weeks or fades after the first blush—but I'll go ahead an apologize in advance for entries along the lines of "Still listening to [insert album name] a lot. Still rocks."

  1. G...

Heavy Rotation: Oct. 21-28, 2007

Having fallen woefully behind on my "Acquisitions" series, I am trying out a new approach to logging my music habits, namely looking at my "weekly top artists" list and commenting on what I find there. This should have two advantages over the Acquisitions approach. First, since it is limited to ten artists, I shouldn't get overwhelmed by sheer volume, as was happening regularly with my monthly acquisitions lists. Second, since this is the music I've listened to the most in a given week (more or less—not everything I listen to manages to get scrobbled to, but the vast majority does), I should actually have something to say about it, which was not always the case with the brand-new music covered in my earlier posts. There should actually be some intersection between what comes up with this method and what 's actually new in my library, because the structure of my playlists keeps new arrivals in heavy rotation for about a month after they get added to iTunes. But it will also give me reason to revisit older music that's caught my ear, which appeals to me as well. Obviously, this will not wind up being some perfect log of my listening habits, but I never really set out to do that in the first place. The tougher question will be whether I can keep up with a regular schedule of weekly posts. History would suggest not, but maybe this exercise will be the impetus I needed to get more disciplined about my blogging.


Tweet, tweet

So as you can see, I've added a Twitter badge to my sidebar. Seeing all the cool kids doing it, I actually signed on last spring, but it did not especially appeal to me. More recently, however, I downloaded the Twitterific client, which makes both following and posting to Twitter almost infinitely less cumbersome. I also discovered Twitterfeed, which is letting me pipe content into my Twitter page: my recently-listened feed, my LibraryThing recently-added feed, and my bookmark feed. I rather like the idea of using Twitter as the glue for my now far-flung empire of social software site participation (though I am not completely happy with the feed: it's not really reflective of what is "now playing." Rather, it dumps the five most recent tracks as a block every half hour—the most frequent interval Twitterfeed will allow). Finally, I found a few folks that seemed interesting to follow, notably John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems. It is doubtful that any of these developments would hold my interest by itself, but taken together, they are keeping me intrigued with the service.

The ancestral lands

I am just back from an all-too-brief trip to the New Jersey shore (my people simply call it "the shore") for a multitude of birthdays: daughter's, father's, niece's and nephew's are all within a few days of each other. Besides the family time, the trip was a whirlwind tour of beloved foods that, if they exist at all outside of New Jersey/the Delaware Valley, do so only as pale shadows of their true essence: paper-thin slices of Nirvana from Mack and Manco's and a brimming tub of caramel decadence from Johnson's on the Ocean City boardwalk; a perfect turkey hoagie (no cheese, no mayo, just a dash of oil and vinegar) from Brady's Hoagie Dock; a trio of Philly soft pretzels from a stand in the airport. ...

Playin' hooky

Oops. Looks like I slept through the month of June without blogging. And I can't blame ill health either. For one reason or another, I got off to a slow start the first couple weeks, and then was on my vacation in Paris (poor me) with just limited enough Internet access to justify blowing off the month entirely. I am back home now, though, and have every intention of buckling down and getting back to my previous standard of erratic posting. ...

The (almost) lost month

Just like last year, I've come dangerously close to taking an o-fer for the month of May. Unlike last year, I have a reason, or at least an excuse, for the lack of activity here. This is now Day 40 of a tenacious "sinus event" that seems to be some combination of an actual infection, seasonal allergies (which, the medical establishment tells me, I don't actually have), and the hyperactive cough reflex I seem to have developed from the various bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis, and exercise-induced asthma that were annual features of my younger life. Because I am a firm believer in the old adage, "no one wants to hear about your mucus," I won't go into much detail about the ailment itself. However, three doctor visits, two courses of antibiotics, various permutations of prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines, expectorants, decongestants, cough suppressants, nasal sprays, salt gargles, and herbal throat lozenges have only succeeded in downgrading my cough from debilitating to a mere nuisance. When I haven't been physically wiped out, I just have not been in the mood for blogging. However, I seem (knock on wood) to be ever so slowly improving, so perhaps I'll get back to my normal, sporadic posting rate.

Acquisitions—February 2007

Still trying to catch up on the inventory additions. February was a very light month: it's shameful that I haven't been able to get this posted before now. At least I've formed some pretty firm opinions on most of this....


Since I have fallen so very far behind with this, I'm just going to list the last couple months of iTunes library additions with a minimum of commentary. Here's the rundown for December. ...

Strange but true technology fixes

I was rather amazed some months back when I discovered, while trying to solve a faculty member's printing woes, that the consensus fix for gunked up inkjet cartridges is to nuke them briefly in a microwave and even more surprised when it actually worked for said faculty member. I think, however, I've found an even less likely (and less advisable) computer fix. Shortly after getting my MacBook Pro last May, the latches that keep the laptop closed stopped working. It was one of those irritating problems that one never fixes because doing so would be more inconvenient than just living with it. ...

it's not you, it's me

As I alluded to briefly a while back, The Hold Steady played in Louisville on December 9, and by a happy coincidence, I was in town for work that very weekend. The show was supposed to be the highlight of my trip, but while there's little I can fault about the show, it was not the exhilarating experience I'd hoped. The biggest reason for this was that I was just too tired to fully enjoy it: I'd been conferencing for two days already, my arthritis was majorly acting up (thanks to my boneheaded decision to walk from downtown out to Headliners, which seems to be in some sort of outlying industrial district), and I just don't have the stamina for those midnight start times that are a point of pride among the indie hipster set (the two abysmal opening bands I endured to get to that midnight start didn't help either). ...


Ooops, it looks like I've fallen a little lot behind in my 'Acquisitions' reporting. Although I reined in the breakneck pace of previous months, I still have plenty to write about, so I'll catch up in two posts, starting with November's acquisitions....

Yes, I am aware they played baseball this year

Despite its complete absence from these pages, I have noticed and even followed (casually) the current major league baseball season. Even more than last year, I have been singularly unexcited by baseball. There are several factors—my growing disaffection with baseball's broken economics, my distance from an actual major league team, weak baseball coverage in the local paper—but I think the biggest reason is simply that my wireless coverage at home does not reliably reach the TV room. Forced to choose between wasting away my evening in front of the TV or in front of my web browser, I choose web almost every time.

I a...

36 days of fame

I wasn't aware of this until after the fact, but for 36 days, Donut Age was listed in the Wikipedia article on Doughnuts, under the heading of "Doughtnuts and popular culture." A revision for 13 August observed:...

Finding new music

Diane Greco was moved by my post on the New Pornographers/Belle & Sebastian show to go out and get The Life Pursuit (Stuart Murdoch, you now owe me 37¢!). She goes on to muse on the difficulty of finding new music: "I don't find new music by listening anymore. No radio, no MTV. It's all so sucky and boring. So the result is I don't hear about much, and when I do, the channel is almost as interesting as the band."


I'll get you, Dorothy! And your little dog, too!

I am becoming curious to the state of distraction about the identity behind that big red dot hovering over east-central Kansas in my ClustrMap ClustrMap of Donut Age visitors from the US, July 27-November 15, 2005 (ClustrMaps, incidentally, is the commercial re-birth of HitMaps after the latter was swamped by volume). They still have a free plan, but $10/year will get you higher traffic limits and nifty continent views like the one to the left.) That dot represents 30+ page views from a fairly small geographic area. The only other dots that big are me and a couple large metro areas. Unless some major search engine is based in Topeka Wichita, I can only conclude I have some intensely devoted reader out there in the heartland. If you are out there Mysterious Visitor, I have many questions for you, so . You can have a GMail, Flickr, and/or ClustrMaps invitation if you do.

Conference blogging

I am at the Kentucky Higher Education Computing Conference (KHECC) and I am taking my first stab at conference blogging. My notes are going up on the professional education/technology blog that I recently got up and running (I guess this also serves as my official announcement of said blog). So far, it's an interesting experience. I don't take notes the same way as I do when it's just for myself: I'm making more of an effort to listen and then digest information for posting (when I'm just writing my own notes it tends to be constant and stream-of-consciousness). I certainly feel like there's more of a purpose to my note-taking than usual. OK, back to the conference...


The past week or so, my mind has been cluttered. Lots of ideas and things to be doing, but I'm having trouble getting it all untangled so that I can actually do something productive with them. My usual tools (from Tinderbox to plain old pen & paper) don't seem to be helping me much. When I get like this, I not only don't get much work done, but I also don't have much fun because I won't let myself do those things whe the other stuff is still isn't sorted out. Bleagh,

Filed under Ego .


Six weeks without posting... yikes! I didn't mean to drop off the face of the blogosphere like that and I'm still not sure why it happened. It's not like I've been all that busy, although there was a vacation to the Jersey shore and a couple birthday celebrations buried in there, and I'm actually full of ideas I've been meaning to put down. Just a bad case of summer laziness, I guess. Anyhoo, I think I am back on the trolley and will soon be regaling the world with my insightful commentary on old news once again.

Alphabet Soup

Saw this meme a while back on mamamusings and thought it would be an amusing exercise. The rules are: sort your music collection by title and pick the first song listed for each letter of the alphabet. I decided to go one further and include songs for each numeral and miscellaneous punctuation marks. Here goes:

  • "A Big Hunk O' Love," Elvis Presley, The Number One Hits.
  • "B + A" Beta Band, The Three EPs.
  • "C Is The Heavenly Option," Heavenly, Le Jardin De Heavenly.
  • "D-C-G," Silo the Huskie,
  • "E Motel," The Clean, Old Enough To Know Better - 15 Years Of Merge Records.
  • "Fabliau Of Florida," Wallace Stevens, Poetry Speaks.
  • "Galveston Bay," Bruce Springsteen, The Ghost Of Tom Joad.
  • "H.W.C.," Liz Phair, Liz Phair.
  • "I (Heart Sign) Apple," The Mekons, I (Heart Symbol) Mekons.
  • "Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era," Pavement, Slanted & Enchanted.
  • "K-Jee," M.F.S.B., Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack.
  • "L Dopa," Big Black, Songs About Fucking.
  • "Ma Rainey," Sterling Brown, Call & Response - The Riverside Anthology To The African American Literary Tradition.
  • "Nadine," Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight.
  • "O Death," Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart.
  • "P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)," Parliament, Live: P-Funk Earth Tour.
  • "Quarrel With The World," Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Bait and Switch.
  • "R & R," Charles Mingus, In A Soulful Mood.
  • "SAAB," Randys,
  • "T. & T.," Ornette Coleman, Ornette!
  • "U Can Do (Life)," De La Soul, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump.
  • "Vague Space," Stephen Malkmus, Stephen Malkmus.
  • "W-I-F-E," Old 97's, Wreck Your Life.
  • "x-ray man," Liz Phair, Whip-Smart.
  • "Ya No Hay Mujeres Feas," Tito Puente, The Very Best of Tito Puentes and Vicento Valdes.
  • "Zebra," The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs.
  • "09-15-00 (Part One)," Godspeed You Black Emperor! Yanqui U.X.O.
  • "1 Million Bottlebags," Public Enemy, Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black.
  • "2 Piano Pieces: 1," Daniel Barenboim, Mendelssohn: Songs without Words.
  • "3 Away," Pretty Girls Make Graves, Pretty Girls Make Graves EP.
  • "4 (from The Dream Songs)," John Berryman, Poetry Speaks.
  • "5 Nights," Grafton, Salt Horse Release Party CD.
  • "6' 1"," Liz Phair, Exile In Guyville.
  • "7 Chinese Bros.," R.E.M., Reckoning.
  • "8 Ball (Remix)," NWA, Straight Outta Compton.
  • "9-9," R.E.M., Murmur.
  • "?," Outkast, Stankonia.
  • "...and Carrot Rope," Pavement, Terror Twilight.
  • "(Crazy for You But) Not That Crazy," The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs.
  • "#1 Hit Song," The Minutemen, Double Nickels On the Dime.


I have finally succeeded in creating a table-less web design. Not here (yet), but for a site I manage at work. When I inherited this site along with my job three years ago, it was a disaster. It had been set up with FrontPage, using all sorts of proprietary FP stuff, but then edited in other programs to the point that all the FP stuff was broken anyway. I spent significant parts of the next year and a half repairing, cleaning up, and generally making sense of the site, including doing my best hammer the original FP theme into more-or-less standards-compliant code. ...


Out of loyalty to my adolescence, I went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Sunday night. Reading the Hitchhiker's "trilogy" was one of the tests for entry into the inner circle of suburban American teenage geeks in the early 80s. Other tests included: reciting π to an arbitrary number of significant digits (I never got beyond 8), reading Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach (poked around in it in highschool and finally read it through in grad school), intimate knowledge of Monty Python's Flying Circus and/or Doctor Who (I reached moderate proficiency with the former but never did become a Whovian), creating recursive acronyms (OK, this one may be a little obscure, but I remember being both impressed by and jealous of "Bram, the Recursive Acronym Man," whom I met at geek summer camp), and playing Dungeons & Dragons (yup, and the less said about this the better).


Pound Encylopedia

I was very pleasantly surprised to receive my copy of The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia (Tryphonopoulos and Adams, eds. [Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005]) today.Ezra Pound Encyclopedia cover Pleasantly because I contributed a few entries (on Pound's critical reception 1908-1920 & 1945-1980, on the essay collection Pavannes and Divagations [1958], and on an obscure prose sketch by Eliot called "Eeldrop and Appleplex" [1917]) to the volume and this copy is my reward for those efforts; surprised because this project has been in the works for a long time (I was first invited to contribute in the fall of 1999 and submitted my draft articles in 2001), and I was beginning to wonder if it would ever be published....

Blogging workshop

Last week, I gave a workshop for faculty on blogging. I stuck mostly to the basics: giving some definitions (many thanks to Jill for helping me re-find hers), deciphering some of the jargon, showing a few examples, and finally (briefly) touching on the educational applications of blogging. ...

Fiddling about

I've been tinkering with and tweaking my stylesheet, templates, and sidebars. Nothing very earth shattering, but I would not be at all surprised if I seriously screwed up something along the way. ...

What is work?

A significant part of my job is to answer faculty members' and other people's questions when they get stuck, or confused, or just plain intimidated by technology or computers. Rarely do those questions have anything to do with topics that I've made a conscious effort to inform myself about (such as blogging, syndication, MOO programming, CSS arcana, or hypertext theory). Much more often, I come up with answers that draw on some buried nugget of tech knowledge I gleaned doing something entirely different and seemingly unproductive. For example, I've become fairly proficient with Microsoft Excel, managing to put together a nifty workbook that tracked demographic information about participants in a large grant project. I credit all my Excel prowess to several years I spent trying to use it to get an edge on my opponents in a fantasy baseball league. Does that mean that all the time I berated myself for wasting as I assembled my giant spreadsheet of player statistics are suddenly "billable hours," so to speak? Does being able to answer my dean's question about putting a desktop link to the university's administrative server (which must be telneted to) in OSX justify the frightening number of hours I have spent logged on to's nethack server (for which I wanted a desktop icon of my own)?...

Excuses, excuses

I've gone another several weeks without posting and I don't really know why. Sure, various things (personal, professional and global) have been going on, but none of them really explain or excuse my nonblogging. I've just been in an extended doldrum for a couple months, lacking the energy to do much of anything except play NetHack (at which I am largely sucking). In a week, I'll be heading to the beach for some vacation. Maybe, that'll recharge the batteries.

Blogging blahs

Hmmm. Almost a month since my last post. I'm not sure where the time went. I haven't really been all that busy (at least not compared to the month before that) and I haven't really lacked for things to write about (I've jotted down ideas for about a dozen posts in that time). I've just been feeling kind of blah about things, not just this blog, lately. Maybe this post will get me rolling again.

Slow posting next 107 miles

Our spring semester is coming to a close (May 7) as is the grant project I am working on (May 31), so I expect the next several weeks to be incredibly hectic. Blogging likely to remain sproradic throughout.

Fan Mail

I got my first piece of blog-related fanmail over the break, from Bob Torres of I should be more jaded (or less self-absorbed) than this, but it does give me a thrill to find out that someone actually reads the little text missiles I launch out into the world. A long, long time ago, I was referred to as a list "elder" (or something to that effect) on the Baseball (and lesser sports) Discussion List. I no longer remember what was under discussion at the time, but I remember the little surge of pride I felt at the idea that my opinions were valued there. But I digress.......

Now appearing in print

Today I finally got my courtesy copy of DRH 2001 and 2002: Selected papers from the Digital Resources for the Humanities Conferences at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in September 2001 and at Edinburgh University Library in September 2002 (whew!), on pages 57-70 of which one can read yours truly's paper on The Gromboolia Project. At the time I delivered the paper (2002), I still had high hopes that it would become my dissertation. Alas, it was not meant to be. The diss died, but Gromboolia lived on: it can be found on LinguaMOO (or login and @go Gromboolia), and if I can ever get Jan to give me more quota, I might even get around to finishing it. I still believe in the argument of this paper (and of the ill-fated dissertation), that MOOs have untapped potential as educational environments and are underappreciated as hypertext authoring systems.

Accidental techie

There's a post from Dorothea Salo on about being an "accidental techie," i.e., winding up in a technical field without a background in computer science or any of the other qualifications. Salo speculates whether gender is a factor:...

I am the best

I googled myself today and apparently I am now the best William Cole in the world, or at least on the web. At first I was inclined to credit Jill Walker's kind shout-out, but she referenced this site, not the Virtual William Cole subsite that showed up in Google. So maybe it is just my elaborate network of past sites that's bumping my pagerank. Or the rest of my eponyms are slackers. Jill, by the way, is not only the best Jill Walker in the world, but the best Jill in the world. Now that's impressive. Well done, Jill!