Friday, September 30, 2005

A closeup shot of that last one. Musk ox.

My picture of the musk ox.

A bit further on the right of the top of the mountain. This looks flat here but there's a drop off. Nome is in the distance.

Looking down from the Anvil. The Bering Sea is in the distance.

Looking down from the mountain. This one shows that trough (ditch) in the middle of the picture that I followed to make it up. Nome is in the far distance there on the Bering Sea, about five miles away. Our apartment building is in a group there on the right hand side, the white building.

Up at the top of Anvil Mountain, there is this old firepit. I have no idea how old it is. I have to do more research. I just thought it was extremely interesting that somebody (more than one, I'm sure) had cooked up here at one point.

Another closeup of the Anvil. I was very proud of myself for making it!

Another closeup of the Anvil, this one looking back toward the Bering Sea.

When you finally get to the mountain top, this is what you see. That concrete slab there is left over from some little huts they once built up here. This is the Anvil, a popular landmark of Nome.

This week's Safeway ad for Hanson's grocery. Don't ever bitch about the price of milk again!

Northern Lights

Saw my first northern lights this morning. 5:30 am as I am loading up the car for volleyball. Before any hint of sunrise, there it was, this green wavy light in the air. My first northern lights. Amy was up and I brought her out to see it too. I wish I could take a picture of it. Hey, maybe I can--I need to figure out the shutter speed on that camera...

Northern Lights. Wow. If you've never seen it...


I made the final decision for Varsity on volleyball today.

We held a fun practice today. We had a big 3-on-3 Queen of the Court Tournament. This may be the last practice with all the Varsity and Junior Varsity.

At the end of practice, I introduced the team. I really was thinking eight up until late last night/early this morning. Eight is the better number for traveling. Away games here in Nome are really away. Have to take a plane to get there. We travel to Barrow twice, Bethel, Dillingham. There is a seating problem on the plane. We rent smaller planes. Hopefully we will be getting the 19-seater most of the time so that we can bring 17 girls (two coaches). Even in that case, splitting up the Varsity and Junior Varsity is still a must. Can't just bring all my Varsity to play JV. That is why I wanted a tight eight. If we take the smaller 9-seater, I only get to bring seven varsity (Dillingham game?). We went with twelve girls on Varsity. There seemed to be a natural dividing line there out of the 35 girls. Now we will be able to scrimmage together as Varsity. It will work well. It will only be hard when we have to tell four Varsity girls that they aren't traveling this time. I am just going to have to tell them that that is the harsh reality. If we were down in the lower 48 we would all be riding in a big bus and could all come, every one of them. I think I am going to ask them how they want to handle it.

Most of the choices should have been obvious to the girls. I hope I don't get any slack from the decision. One good thing is that the assistant coach, Susan, and I are in complete agreement on who that Varsity is.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

You can't see it too well. It was early in the morning and the light must have been worse than I thought. This is a closeup of the ditch, the trough, that runs from the top of the mountain to the bottom. This is how the old gold settlers drained water off the mountain. This is the trail I took up the mountain.

I am getting closer. The mountain levels out a bit at the top.

I am getting closer to the Anvil. It is a rock formation at the top of the mountain closest to Nome and the apartment complex.

Finally got my pictures back from processing. These are the shots from climbing up Anvil Mountain. This first one is showing the Anvil in the distance as I am going up. That's my target.

Whitman final grade

I got a C in my Whitman class. I pulled out a 17 out of 20 on the final paper for my C. I had points taken off because of my tardiness with posts (and the fact that I never responded to anyone else's posts).

I just dislike the discussion boards. Why should I have to read the same thing from every member of the class and try to come up with something witty to say about it? Why can't I just read my textbook and answer my questions and write my papers? These online course save the travel and the "must be there" seat time, but they increase listening to the other poor slobs in the class. I'm sure they don't want to hear from me and I don't want to hear from them.

I should be able to take these classes by myself, individually, at my own pace. That should be online education.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Morgan in our new Nome backyard.

Madison in the hat that was given to me as a going away present.

Volleyball practice

Volleyball is going really well. I am amazed. These girls are really stepping up and doing more than they have to do. We even had a "wager" today on a serve making it in bounds for who cleans up and they all won. They STILL helped me clean up. Absolutely awesome.

We have been doing some scrimmaging. It is working pretty well, especially when we stop and tell them why we are doing certain drills when it comes up in a game situation. I think they are having a ton of fun with it too.

We usually start with stretches and a brief job. Monster crunches. Foot fire. Push ups. I had to model correct pushups today, showing that rigid body (I probably can't do 20 in a row anymore but I can do three perfectly modeled ones).

We did a serving drill today, and then a serving and a solo dig drill. Then we scrimmaged for a while today, probably forty minutes. Teams rotate out after losing a ball. If they just get beaten, it's just a lap around the small elementary school gym. If they serve it into the net or out of bounds, then it's pushups or crunches. Gotta have those serves in.

We are concentrating on the basics. Get it over the net. Don't kill your team with mistakes.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Checking the spelling for the Eagles entry, Simoneau comes up with that red squiggly line. Proper name, I figured that. Running spellchecker give you the option of “Somonauk,” the small town I grew up in out in Illinois. This is my Mac laptop. I know that I have not added it to the dictionary. Weird.


I have been renting the Millennium TV series through Netflix. This is that series by the Chris Carter, the creator of the X-Files, and starring Lance Henriksen. I only think it lasted two or three seasons, but it should have gone longer. It’s great.

And then I get to the Season Two Premiere. It was a cliffhanger that Frank Black’s wife, Catherine, was kidnapped. I didn’t get it until the next day. Frank crossed the line. The episode was average but I think the implications from it are deep and far-reaching.

Frank Black in effect stalks the kidnapper. There is something deeper going on with the entire Millennium group thing. The kidnapper only does this because the Millennium group wants Frank Black. And Frank’s liaison to the group, the same actor who plays Locke on Lost, still doesn’t tell Frank absolutely everything. But in order to save his wife (whose kidnapper the Millennium group mysteriously knows absolutely everything about already), Frank has to find her. And when he does, he doesn’t just stop and arrest him, but he kills him. No, be specific. First, he stops him in a knife fight, but then keeps stabbing him. That’s an important distinction. He was stopped, but Frank, all worried about the family, keeps stabbing the kidnapper to death.

It seemed like a silly thing for Catherine to leave Frank for. I think my wife would be pretty happy if I stabbed her kidnapper to death to save her. But she sees something, the fact that he doesn’t stop stabbing. “You crossed the line,” she said. This isn’t the Frank that she knows. He loses his gift a little after this episode, evident only in the next episode about dogs and boundaries—a weird one, and then Catherine and him separate. This is far-reaching because Frank made a point in the first season to tell them how they were the light in this dark world he lives in to catch these really bad guys.


I saw Troy the other night on HBO. I can’t help but think that it could have been better. After a while, I bought Brad Pitt as Achilles. I had to keep thinking of him in Fight Club for that tough guy image. It was okay simply because I think it is pretty hard to screw up a story like the Iliad that has been told for 3,000 years. It is one of mankind’s great stories. I could film it and couldn’t screw it up too badly.

Somehow Wolfgang Peterson seemed to forget about cutting and editing. It all seemed to merge into a hodgepodge. It was disjointed. While the costumes and backgrounds were nice, I kept getting the feeling that they filmed without setting up each scene.

I have to wonder about the Achilles character. He was having an internal fight without much to show for it. I don’t understand his love for that girl. I don’t understand why he was losing himself. There was no set up. He said once or twice that killing was what he was. Well, I don’t see what prompted him to fight that inside himself.

I will say this—the choreography and the fighting scenes were excellent. Top notch.

And I have to keep telling myself that this was the Iliad. It is kind of a fantasy. It is an epic, a tale of men greater than anything the world had ever seen. I think it is safe to say that Achilles was the greatest warrior of all time (not leader). So when Achilles calls Hector out when a barrage of arrows would have finished it was noble and honorable. King Priam even wanted his son Paris to fight, for honor, regardless that he was dying. You don’t run away from a fight. The Iliad stands for something that is greater than real life. So I think this movie did that, to a degree.

I liked it. I enjoyed watching it, even though some of the scenes, between brothers, between husband and wife, between lovers, seemed to rehash the same old ground. I am still waiting for these new blockbusters to WOW me, not just pump movies out to be digested like a dinner of a bologna sandwich. Sure, it may fill you up briefly, but it isn’t the best tasting thing out there. I want Hollywood to cook me a steak.

(Please, please, please, let Superman Returns next year be good. Please.)


9-25 10:35 am

Amy and I are having a bit of an NFL Pick Challenge. I want to see if Amy, who hates football and only knows about it from the cursory information she picks up when it is on the house, can still pick just as well as a guy like me who sorta knows what’s going on. She has to put up with me watching Sunday night and Monday night games as she usually works on Sunday. She is guessing in pure speculation. But as you know in the NFL, any team can beat any team on any given day. Look at Philadelphia today—their kicker David Akers gets hurt and somehow they don’t have a good backup. They can’t kick and even extra points are not automatic. That is definitely an edge. (Digression—why isn’t the Eagle punter kicking field goals?)

Here are Amy’s picks from before kickoff this morning:

Browns vs. Colts--WIN
Tennessee vs. St. Louis--loss
Jacksonville vs. Jets--WIN
Carolina vs. Miami--loss
Atlanta vs. Buffalo--loss
Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay--loss
New Orleans vs. Minnesota--WIN
Kansas City vs. Denver
Dallas vs. San Francisco--loss
Pittsburgh vs. New England--loss
Cardinals vs. Seattle--loss
Giants vs. Chargers
Philadelphia vs. Oakland--WIN
Bears vs. Cincinnati--loss

And here are my picks:

Browns vs. Colts--WIN
Tennessee vs. St. Louis--WIN
Jacksonville vs. Jets--loss
Carolina vs. Miami--loss
Atlanta vs. Buffalo--loss
Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay--WIN
New Orleans vs. Minnesota--loss
Kansas City vs. Denver
Dallas vs. San Francisco--WIN
Pittsburgh vs. New England--loss
Cardinals vs. Seattle--WIN
Giants vs. Chargers
Philadelphia vs. Oakland--WIN
Bears vs. Cincinnati--WIN

Bears—Kyle Orton throws four interceptions in the first half.
Can somebody please tell me how in a country of millions and a world of 6 billion that there are not 32 really good quarterbacks? Why is this such a problem? 32—for the 32 teams in the NFL. Just 32 really great quarterbacks. There are better than 32 really good golfers. There are better than 32 quality pitchers in MLB. They screw with the confidence of these young guys by drafting them and then making them sit on the bench for a year or two (or more) and keep telling them that they aren’t ready. If I were told for a year or more that I wasn’t ready after a good college tour, and especially behind a mediocre quarterback, I would question myself. Look at Tom Brady. The only reason he got to play was after an injury—and nobody can tell me that he shouldn’t have been playing after three Superbowl rings. Ben Roethlisberger was the same way and he becomes NFL offensive player of the year.

Eagles—Donovan McNabb is playing injured. He is obviously struggling, cannot run and cannot pass very well. Why is the backup not in? Hello? Wouldn’t a healthy backup be better than a hurt starter? Shouldn’t he be?

Eagles end of game—I watched the last few minutes with next-door neighbor Patrick as he was holding his baby daughter Dorothy. He came over after Janikowski missed that last field goal. The Raiders were losing 20-13 with about 4 minutes left, at the Eagles 20 yard line, and they come out and try a field goal. Help me here—what would losing 20-16 do for your team? You still need a touchdown. Hopefully you stop them and get the ball back, but you are banking on stopping Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles. And then you still need a touchdown. If you kick it and make it, you have to kick off again. If you go for a first down, and miss, you give them the ball at the 20-yard line. (If you kick and miss, according to the rules, you actually give the ball to the other team at the spot of the kick, or in this case the 37-yard line—better position for this other team. Is that a gamble you want to take?) Either way, you still need a touchdown to tie or win. And honestly it should have been a moot point because Akers got hurt and Simoneau missed that extra point, that’s why the Eagles only had 20 instead of 21. So I do not understand the Raider thinking on this. With four minutes to go, you play to tie, not to kick a field goal, stop them, and then come back to score a go-ahead touchdown. Not with only four minutes left.

So the Raiders do stop them, get the ball back, and score a touchdown. This ties the game. First of all, the Eagles should have run the ball to run off clock, but no, they throw incomplete passes and stop the clock and hardly run off any time. Oakland scores with a little over two minutes left. 20-20.

So what do the Raiders do? All game long they have been stopping the Eagles pretty much, especially the run. They just did it. So now they go into a prevent defense. Apparently this prevents your team from stopping the other team. Eagles gobbled up ten to fifteen yard pass plays and moved down the field, with all three timeouts and the two-minute warning. Eagles get to within the five-yard line and Akers, hurt and all, is able to chip the ball in for a game-winning field goal.

Patrick, by the way, predicted all of this. Every second. He knew exactly how the game was going to end. Oakland should be ashamed of this game.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I feel like a real geek for this. I feel William Shatner peering into my soul telling me to get a life. I still am a sap for sci-fi.

There's a new movie coming out on September 30 called Serenity. It is from the mind of Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I absolutely despise that show. A couple of years ago, Fox had a couple of programs on Friday nights called Firefly and John Doe. Well, we really got into John Doe in the Butcher household. That was a fantastic show and I was so sorry to see it cancelled before one season could finish. Firefly was also cancelled after only 11 episodes. I watched that one because it was on before John Doe. I kind of got hooked.

The creator Joss Whedon did not let it die. I don't know how he got backing for a big budget movie based on a show that was cancelled after 11 episodes, but he did. Fan base somehow really helped. Check out and the video section will amaze you at how intense the fans are.

It was different. There was something about space cowboys that was a little cheesy but it worked. Plus, I have to say that I was extremely intrigued by the politics of the Firefly universe. The storyline with Inara was mysterious and cool. It was like a space comic book; and I read comic books.

Plus the movie is going to have Chiwetel Ejiofor in it as well. He blew me away as an actor when I saw him in a DVD sent to me as a teacher called Why Shakespeare? I showed it to the class when we were memorizing and reciting Shakespearean speeches. I think they were blown away too. He reminded me of Derek Jacobi, my all-time favorite actor. He impressed me, and I am not that easily impressed with acting.

So I am looking forward to the movie.

Serenity: The Official Movie Website

Final Whitman essay question

Please let me pass!

Discuss Whitman’s views on the role of poetry in a democracy, his vision of America’s future (listing in what ways we have followed his advice and heeded his warnings), and his place as an American thinker. Supply your own estimate on the applicability of his views to today’s world.

Democracy was not just a dream to Whitman but a necessary course of action. When we express thoughts and revelations to each other, opening up, we share each other. Democracy to Whitman was the normal way the human race would evolve. “…the great question of democracy, as to every great question—I feel the parts harmoniously blended in my own realization and convictions, and present them to be read only in such oneness, each page and each claim and assertion modified and temper’d by the others. Bear in mind, too, that they are not the result of studying up in political economy, but of the ordinary sense, observing, wandering among men” (Democratic Vistas).

Early in his career, this vision was what humans in a democracy would do naturally. Love and admire one another, respecting the golden rule. It seemed to change as he got older, realizing that democracy would have to be worked at. Some people would have to be forced into it, especially as he watched Reconstruction fail and the body of President Lincoln travel by him. He says in the later part of Democratic Vistas, “America needs, and the world needs, a class of bards who will, now and ever, so link and tally the rational physical being of man, with the ensembles of time and space, and with this vast and multiform show, Nature, surrounding him, ever tantalizing him, equally a part, and yet not a part of him, as to essentially harmonize, satisfy, and put at rest. Faith, very old, now scared away by science, must be restored, brought back by the same power that caused her departure—restored with new sway, deeper, wider, higher than ever.”

Whitman held himself to this higher ideal. It is no wonder that he would stand between the master and the slave. It is no wonder that he would think the woman the equal of man (and maybe even a little greater for bearing child). It is no wonder that he felt a sexual revolution was in order.

This I think is the most trying aspect of Whitman that has not yet come to pass. Whitman wrote to combat these prejudices in our heads. The one danger and warning that has not yet come to pass is the understanding of homosexual relations. With his understanding of the immense closeness that sexual relations brings, he finds that this sharing of the self with someone of the same sex, which can bring no possible biological function like child bearing, is extreme closeness. The gay rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s touted almost unknown Whitman passages for these suggestions between adhesive and amative love. Could the greatest American poet have said these things?

Whitman believed in one simple thing, I have found. In order to truly be democratic, the country must allow all sorts of individual freedoms. Abolition happened. Women’s suffrage happened. To what degree can be argued. Gay rights will happen. Whitman’s pen talks us through understanding that “the work of the New World is not ended, but only fairly begun” (Democratic Vistas).

We didn't get to see Mt. McKinley as we flew in because of clouds. I want to see this one day. This is another of my Alaska postcards.

This is fantastic. Local Middle East writers are creating new comic books with Middle Eastern superheroes. Not the forced-homogeny when DC or Marvel does it, but a real local effort. And they are doing it cheap, 15 cents a book for an area that can't afford the $3 books. Excellent.

Whitman paper

Well, here's my paper on Walt Whitman being the first truly American author. I am not happy with it at all. I don't understand yet how these cumulative papers are supposed to be worked on all month yet you are still learning the information in the class.

Matt Butcher

Franz Potter

Eng 690A: Seminar in a Major Author: Walt Whitman

September 24, 2005

Walt Whitman—The Voice of America

Walt Whitman was the first American author. Americans had written before, but of all the authors that graced the continent from the first dreams of a new world as the pilgrims landed in 1620, there was no uniquely American voice. Authors up until Whitman were deeply influenced and structured by the European standards. Whitman created the new American standards that are still felt today. It is through the influential editions of his Leaves of Grass that American ideals of equality and freedom came to be.
Whitman spoke of equality between master and slave, between heterosexual and homosexual, between man and woman. One must remember the timeline here. The first edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1855. The Emancipation Proclamation was not signed until January 1, 1863. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Gay and lesbian rights are still not expressly guaranteed anywhere in the country, but through most editorials these rights are seen as inevitable. What came before Whitman was limited and highly influenced by the Europeans. “His literary style was experimental, a free-verse avalanche in celebration of nature and self that has since been described as the first expression of a distinctly American voice” (
Whitman was profoundly influenced by the Transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emerson published as essay entitled “The Poet” in 1844 calling for a new voice, a poet who would purge the shackles upon American poets in convention and burst forth into a uniquely American style. “…for the poet is representative. He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the commonwealth” (Emerson, “The Poet”). Emerson could not do it himself, by his own admission. “I look in vain for the poet whom I describe… But I am not wise enough for a national criticism.” Emerson seems to have found this great American poet after reading the 1855 edition of a new book of poems called Leaves of Grass. Emerson wrote to Whitman, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career” (Emerson letter).
Leaves of Grass was Whitman’s attempt to create a democratic poetry. He wanted to write verse to contain all the diversity of rapidly increasing nineteenth-century America. He knew this was a monumental task. In a poem he would write in a later edition of Leaves of Grass, he says,
Haughty this song, its words and scope,
To span vast realms of space and time,
Evolution--the cumulative--growths and generations (“L. of G.’s Purport”).

Whitman begins this grand endeavor by creating a democratic “I.” This is in juxtaposition to the royal “we.” defines the royal “we” as “Used by a royal person, and by writers and editors in formal use: to refer to themselves or the authority they represent” ( Whitman defies this and tries to speak for America, as the independent people that America comprises and the sense that Americans were all together. That is the underlying symbol of the title of the book. As a page is also known as a leaf, this ties together every American. Every American has blades of grass growing beneath their feet. America is full of this grass, grass of every type, yet still distinctly similar. Our American lawns are carpeted with it. Upon reading this book, the reader must understand that one’s passions and ideals are the same as the neighbor’s that lives next door or in the next county or in the next state. Every American shares these things, indeed, every human. The leaves of grass underneath our feet are the same as the leaves of grass underneath another’s feet. This is the underlying principle. Therefore, the “I” in the poems is not necessarily Walt Whitman. The “I” is the reader, all of us. Whitman understood that these thoughts he had may have been condemned by Victorian society but was in the minds and hearts of all Americans. Whitman tried to make the reader realize that these passions and thoughts were necessary to the human.

Do you see, O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is HAPPINESS

(“Song of Myself”).

Whitman’s subjects were often risqué for the time. He sees some truths that did not realize themselves until scores of years later. One of Whitman’s grand undertakings was dematerializing the bond between master and slave. When he sees a slave, he talks of the man as a perfect human specimen. “I behold the picturesque giant and love him.” When he harbors a runaway slave, he is not afraid as he feeds him and his “fire-lock lean'd in the corner.” He goes further than sympathy and walks a mile in the man’s shoes:
I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen,
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the
ooze of my skin.”
By placing the democratic “I” into the lines of the poem, the reader is sympathizing and almost ready to place himself between the opposing parties, saying these lines as sort of a mantra:
I am the poet of the body
And I am the poet of the soul
I go with the slaves of the earth equally with he masters
And I will stand between the masers and the slaves,
Entering into both so that both will understand me alike.
There are no sides. There are just two people who need to be heard.

Whitman also speaks of the similarities between men and women. At this time, sexual equality was far over the horizon. The section that begins with “Twenty-eight Young Men Bathe by the Shore” tells the story of a young girl of 28 looking upon the swimming men on the beach, a peeping-tom from her own house. She pretends she is there with them, touching them (“An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies”) and splashing them. She is looking upon them as objects. This is at a time before women were even allowed mention of such behavior. He empathizes his feelings upon her, I imagine, as we all think about people from a distance. This is even such a distance as looking out the house at the bathers. I want to equate this to men’s magazines and the dirty jokes that people make about men and these magazines together. I think this is a fantastic image of this concept, but from a 1860s perspective.

It is I, you women, I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these States, I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.

Whitman is talking about a woman that he can have wonderful sexual relations with, and start the next generation with. He knows that this product of their union will also be doing this same act. “I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you inter-penetrate now.” This woman will share this with him. This is not a solitary act or an act between two people. They make love now so that their progeny can make love in the future, ad infinitum.
However, Whitman braves even stronger boundaries when he talks about the sexual relations of two men together. This is not the same in Whitman’s mind. While sexual relations between a man and woman can culminate with a child and progeny, sexual relations between two men (or two women) serve no biological function. This to Whitman may be esteemed because sexual relations are the closest way to truly become one with another individual. Whitman talked of “amative” and “adhesive” love, the difference between heterosexual and homosexual love. Whitman believed in the divine experience of the human’s ability to procreate, but he also realized that humans don’t merely have sexual relations to procreate. Therefore, sexual relations between two men was, to Whitman, an even higher form of democracy. I cite a lengthy passage from Democratic Vistas:
I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American democracy, and for the spiritualization thereof. Many will say it is a dream, and will not follow my inferences: but I confidently expect a time when there will be seen, running like a half-hid warp through all the myriad audible and visible worldly interests of America, threads of manly friendship, fond and loving, pure and sweet, strong and life-long, carried to degree hitherto unknown—not only giving tone to individual character, and making it unprecedently emotional, muscular, heroic, and refined, but having the deepest relations to general politics. I say democracy infers such loving comradeship, as its most inevitable twin or counterpart, without which it will be incomplete, in vain, and incapable of perpetuating itself.
Even after all of these internal democratic passages and the ideals of what makes up the free society that is America, how would the literary critics think of Whitman in the pantheon of American literature? In an 1882 issue of The Atlantic, a critic finds certain gems of wisdom in Leaves of Grass, but finds it lacking. “He degrades body and soul by a brutish wallowing in animal matter as animal matter, deprived of its spiritual attributes…for imperfect though the race is, it still remains so much purer than the stained and distorted reflection of its animalism in Leaves of Grass, that the book cannot attain to any very wide influence” (The Atlantic). This is harsh compared to Whitman’s stature now, one hundred twenty-five years later. After an 1872 anthology of poems called American Poems published in Britain by Michael Rossetti, critics tended to start seeing American poetry not in how it compared to the form and function of the polished British, but in how it tried to dissociate itself from the British tradition (“An Introduction to American Poetry”).
This must be because it was not yet understood. Whitman did amazing things with his poetry that mimicked the life of America. One of the things he did continually in Leaves of Grass is create lists. These lists would mimic the structure of passages of the Bible, both Old and New Testament, that Americans would be reading in the old King James.
A song of the good green grass!
A song no more of the city streets;
A song of farms—a song of the soil of fields (“A Carol of Harvest”).
This closely resembles lists found in, for example, Ecclesiastes, where it lists “To everything there is a season” (King James Bible). Whitman also used words and language from all walks of life.
By the end of the poem “Song of Myself,” Whitman realizes that some of the things he was expressing may not be possible within every single American. “Very well, then, I contradict myself; / (I am large—I contain multitudes.)” At a time of incredible diversity and division with the beginnings and endings of the Civil War, Whitman paused to remind us that we could all work together, striving for the same ideals that make us all American.“The messages of great poets to each man and woman are, Come to us on equal terms, Only then can you understand us, We are no better than you, What we enclose you enclose, What we enjoy you may enjoy” (from the introduction to the 1855 edition). These are his images and his meanderings. Somehow, somehow he understands that the future will think highly of him. He truly feels that he is a man ahead of his time. “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it” (1855 edition).

Works Cited “We.” September 23, 2005.

Atlantic Monthly, The. “New Poetry of the Rosettis and Others.” January 1882.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Letter 21 July 1855.” September 23, 2005.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “The Poet.” September 23, 2005.

“Introduction to American Poetry, An.” September 23, 2005.

“Walt Whitman.” September 23, 2005.

Whitman, Walt. “A Carol of Harvest.”

Whitman, Walt. Democratic Vistas.

Whitman, Walt. “L. of G.’s Purport.” September 23, 2005.

Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself.”

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hey home slice?

I have barely talked to my old college roommate for years. Not by choice but by distance. We hung out a lot together. We were good buds. I could never have made the move to four-year college without rooming with him. In fact, I mention him a lot when I talk about my best friends of all time. He's Britt.

Then my buddy Brian emails us a new change of email address and he apparently gets the inkling to email me after seeing my name on the list. This is what he sends:

Just checkin in to see if you had any huricanes in Alaska. What kind of natural disasters happen in Alaska anyway? Say hi to Howling for me.

So I email back. I want to correspond.

What's up, Bo? No, no hurricanes in Alaska. We are having one doozyof a storm though today with wind and rain and fifteen-foot waves off the Bering Sea. They closed school today on us. What the hell is the "Howling"?

And this is all Britt:

Howling was the inn keepers name in Northern Exposurer. Can you get eskimo porn?

Years and about 3000 miles separate us and the first question he asks me is that. That's Britt.

Severe Weather Alert

This is taken from who teams up with The Weather Channel:


Amy just called from work to say hi. Front Street has been evacuated. That means the bank is closed too. Wind is pretty bad, she says.

I don't wanna...

God, I sound like one of my seventh graders. I have a ten page paper on Whitman to do this weekend. Thank God they called school off today. These waves and rain are scaring the hell out of the town. People aren't going in to work at the grocery store that Amy works at. They called off two days of volleyball practice well in advance of any really bad weather. I have discovered that last October there was a really bad storm that flooded Front Street downtown. Some windows got broken. Stores lost inventory. Here at the Beltz Apartments, yes, it's windy and rainy. The town sits right on the edge of the Bering Sea though. I am going to trust that the locals have had enough encounters with the sea to respect it this much. And I don't mind the day off. Ten pages on Whitman? I still have to devise a thesis, and what can I say that hasn't been said by twenty others in American literature criticism? I am going to pepper it with quotes and excerpts from Leaves of Grass and call it good. I just want to pass. I don't need an A. (I was kind of late on a couple of assignments and may not be able to get an A anyway. Teaching and family life and volleyball and I still have homework. It's hard to get it all done. As long as I get the credits, I keep telling myself.)

So that's what my day will be. And while I really am starting to enjoy Whitman's stuff, writing a paper is not really at the top of my list. If I get it done today then I can take Saturday off. So stop typing, Matt, and get to work.

NFL Week Three Picks

NFL Week Three Picks (my picks are in bold)
as of Friday, Sept. 23, 10 am.

Cleveland vs Indianapolis
Tampa Bay vs Green Bay
Cincinnati vs Chicago
Atlanta vs Buffalo
Tennessee vs St. Louis
Oakland vs Philadelphia
Jacksonville vs Jets
New Orleans vs Minnesota
Carolina vs Miami
Arizona vs Seattle
Dallas vs San Francisco
New England vs Pittsburgh
Giants vs San Diego
Kansas City vs Denver

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lost and Invasion

Saw the season premiere of Lost tonight. I was amazed and astonished. This show keeps getting better. The beginning was great because I thought it was another one of those flashbacks of the survivors. No! There was a man down in that hatch! That was interesting. I thought it was kind of cheesy that Jack had met him before—and in such an odd way, running in the stadium and then that “miracle” coming true. It did give me goose bumps when she wiggled her toes though, I’ll give it that.

Then I sat through that series premiere of Invasion. Ehhhh. I wasn’t all that blown away. I am intrigued slightly…it’s the sci-fi geek in me. I will probably stick around with it being right after Lost. See, that’s how they get you. They attach shows to each other, you leave the TV on the same channel as you get up for a drink, and you somehow stick around and watch that show. Think of all the capital-C Crap shows that survived on Thursday nights when Cosby show and Cheers were big. That’s how Thursdays survived so long on NBC.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

These are Madison's daycare buddies. Pictured here are Chase, Lupe, Madison, and Kelly (left to right).

$326 million. Superman Returns is going to become the most costly movie of all time. I am just sitting back and hoping that it is worth every penny.

They didn't know...

Had to play a quick game during seventh period because there was testing--some students didn't come back in time and their groups were all messed up. So I just tossed the plan and played this movie game I had where I write a movie on the board and they try to tell a team member whose back is to the board what the movie is without saying the title in twenty seconds. Here are some of the movies that whole groups DID NOT KNOW:

Return of the King
Empire Strikes Back (although they knew Return of the Jedi)
Batman & Robin (although I don't blame them for not knowing this one)

The blustery week

It is a windy, blustery day in Nome today. They are talking about roads getting washed out on the way to Council and evacuating some of the villages in Shishmaref up north.

I had the opportunity to go to the Notary Club of Nome at one of the little café restaurants downtown. I got to skip my fourth period class for it and everything. It’s a neat thing to see some of the other business people of the town. The superintendent of the school district got to do his shpiel on the new bond coming up in October to pay for the overages in construction costs (due to stuff like the war in Iraq) and for the new high school/middle school remodel. Right now, the junior high is in the middle of the building, with poor ventilation and no windows to the outside world. Fake lighting all the time makes for a long day. It looks like it will be an incredible new facility. I really hope the bond passes!! It is amazing how far this superintendent is taking this district—it really is.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The clock struck thirteen

9-18-05 11:13 am

The clock chimed! I have this sort of little mini-grandfather clock looking thing. It’s about two feet tall and has a pendulum and false hangy-thingies (I am really going to have to look up what those are called). love it because I love the sound of a clock chiming on the hour. And it has always kept such good time. The glass panel broke in shipping it to Nome. It also stopping working. The battery may be weak, however, the pendulum is still swinging under battery power. The clock never seemed to go around the horn, as if it was so weak the minutehand could not work itself from 7 to 12, but it could go from 12 to 6 just fine. I have been waiting to get a new battery—takes a D.

And then I am doing dishes just now, as the time on the clock, pendulum still swinging, has remained constant at about 8:46, and the clock chimes. It’s a wonderful melodic tune that is just pleasing to hear. It does not chime the particular number of the hour, just a nice tune.

And it chimed again, all on its own. I will have to keep looking at it today. This is weird.

On another topic, our TV now has proper color. I will explain.

I shipped it to Nome in a big box all on its own that cost about $100 just to ship it parcel post. When we got it a few days after we arrived, there was a slight crack on the front plastic paneling. It is a 20 inch Magnavox with DVD and VHS player. When we turned it on, there was a green tint to it. The outside of the TV screen had this green aura that seeped into the rest of the picture. We pretty much sighed and said, “Oh, well.” TVs cost a bundle here. And truthfully, we could put up with it for a while. I remember growing up and adjusting rabbit ears, making sure the connections in the back of the TV were just right. My dad at one point had two remotes for his dish, one to change the channel and one to change the A-B transponder button. You literally had to sit there with two remote controls as if you were a gunslinger with two six-shooters. Channel, transponder, channel transponder. It was the only way to cycle through channels.

Nome Public Schools, at leat the junior high/high school had our open house Thursday night. It was just an hour, from 6:30 to 7:30. While we were all sitting in the RC listening to the speakers, the power went off briefly. It only stayed off for a couple of minutes. The power also went off in the apartments.

When I got home, I wanted to relax a little by playing a video game. It is always a great time to just not think for a second. I wanted to play Mario Kart on the Gamecube. Great little racing game. When I turned it on, I noticed that the Mario Kart screen was colored correctly. It took a second to realize how brilliant the colors actually were. The whole TV got better, the blue DVD screen was now blue and not that sickly green. Our cable picture was normal.

Weird. The power outage somehow made our TV get back its proper color.


9-18-05 9:23 am

I can’t believe the only football game I get to watch today is Pittsburgh vs Houston. I am only getting the CBS station. I don’t get the early FOX game. I do get a choice later though. Pittsburgh is already winning 10-0 with 4 minutes to go in the first quarter. (update 9:54 am—it is now 17-0 with 12:00 remaining in the first half. The game is over. There is no way that the Steelers will allow 17 unanswered points. No way. This is why I hate getting only one game.)

Volleyball starts tomorrow. I think I am all set. is helping me out with a bunch of drills. My assistant coach Susan Rand is going to take care of the conditioning part first thing for practices. I have already learned a ton about the strategy of the actual game. I know where players are supposed to be standing and where to transition.

I want one of those new devices called the iPod Nano. It’s like the size of a credit card and holds 1,000 songs.

I am glad that I have this Mac laptop. I can take it home, as I am on it now on a Sunday, and I can take it with me on the volleyball trips.

The volleyball trips will be extremely interesting. I have never had to FLY to games before. It’ll feel like the big leagues. We get to take a little 19-seater plane.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

NFL Week Two results

NFL Week Two

My picks are in bold.

Ravens vs Titans--loss--what happened here? I guess the Ravens have no offense whatsoever
Buffalo vs Buccaneers--WIN
Detroit vs Chicago--loss--I never know how to pick the Bears; they trounced Detroit today
Jaguars vs Colts--WIN
Vikings vs Bengals--WIN Bengals look strong and Minnesota is apparently nothing without Moss
New England vs Panthers--loss--Patriots can't win them all
Steelers vs Texans--WIN
San Francisco vs Philadelphia--WIN
Atlanta vs Seattle--loss--Atlanta can't win two games in a row. It's a game like this that makes Hasselbeck look good even though he isn't
Rams vs Cardinals--loss--I don't know why I picked this one
Browns vs Packers--loss--I didn't think Packers would go to 0-2
Dolphins vs Jets--WIN
Chargers vs Broncos--WIN

The next three are the Sunday night and the two Monday night games this week. I am 7-6 at this point at 3:46 pm (ADT).
Chiefs vs Raiders
Giants vs Saints
Redskins vs Dallas


9-17-05 9 pm

Have a funny student story from yesterday.

In one of my classes, we are typing business letters into the computers at the back of my room. One student (I can’t say real names) has a name that isn’t the everyday type of name like John or Jimmy. And it isn’t different either. Let’s just say that Microsoft Word’s spellcheck puts one of those red squiggly lines under it to say it may be spelled wrong. (Fascinatingly, there currently is one of those lines underneath the word “spellcheck.” I cannot fathom what to do with it otherwise. Would it be two words?)

Anyway, he is typing his name, and he asks me, “How do you spell -------?” I surmised what he was asking and what was going on without even looking, and asked him, “How do YOU spell ------?” He barely listens as I try to explain how Word can’t get all proper names. He tells me that spellcheck says that one of the vowels should be replaced (without getting specific).

I swear, he honestly says that must be the way to spell it. And he left it there. Anything to get rid of that red squiggly line. He changed the spelling of his own name because Word told him to.

I can only imagine that he thinks his name has been spelled wrong for the past twelve years or so.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Blog 9-17-05

I think I’ve had a bit of an epiphany tonight. I am sitting here watching the old Hitchcock movie “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” at almost midnight. I think I now understand a bit more about my dad.

My dad always stayed up late. He often fell asleep in front of the tv. I think I understand why. After all day with the kids and a house full of people, this little bit of time alone is like living in another universe. Your own universe.

Everyone needs time alone. Just a little. There are no kids running around. Life isn’t going on. I can actually sit and watch a movie right now. I have tried watching movies at, say, 7 or 8 o’clock. Stuff happens. Madison has to be put to bed. Yada yada yada.

There’s nothing wrong with it. Just wanna watch a movie without a big to-do. Some nights I sit and read a book (if I try to read it earlier I often read a couple paragraphs and then Madison needs a new diaper or something.

That’s why Dad always stayed up late. He had three rugrats. I can’t even imagine three. He was so glad we all went to sleep so he could get some peace and quiet. He would force himself to stay up for a couple of hours just because he could breathe. He was a devoted family man, but where does a dad go? As a kid, I could always go to my room to read a comic book or a book. Where does a dad go? My room now as a 32-year-old dad is the living room, the community room. That’s just what it is. My dad had the same dilemma. It was his house so his room was the main room. He just had to wait until the small hours of the night to really enjoy it.

I become more like my dad as time goes by. My dad is a great man and if I am even half the man he is than I am doing a good job. It’s amazing when you understand another piece to the little puzzle.

NFL Week Two

NFL Week Two

My picks are in bold.

Ravens vs Titans
Buffalo vs Buccaneers
Detroit vs Chicago
Jaguars vs Colts
Vikings vs Bengals
New England vs Panthers
Steelers vs Texans
San Francisco vs Philadelphia
Atlanta vs Seattle
Rams vs Cardinals
Browns vs Packers
Dolphins vs Jets
Chargers vs Broncos
Chiefs vs Raiders
Giants vs Saints
Redskins vs Dallas

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sin City and Constantine

Amy graciously rented two comic book movies for me this last weekend. Sin City and Constantine. I finally got around to watching them. And you know the really terrible part? I saw them only on my TV screen.

I've never really been one for the "theater experience." Yes, there are some movies that have loud explosions but I find that sometimes in a theater they are loud just to be loud. I find it a waste of time seeing a comedy of some simple drama on the big screen--where's the real image, the real payoff? I am so used to watching movies on TV now that I haven't minded much. Sure, when Star Wars got remastered with that new footage, I went to see all three of them again in the theater. Those are images. I remember watching Batman in 1989 in the Countryside Theater in Yorkville, Illinois, and that was awesome because the movie was NEVER the same on VHS (you cannot watch it during the day or with any lights, period).

I think I missed out on these two very visual movies. I really enjoyed the innovation of the Sin City movie. That was breathtaking in some spots. It was basically three movies in one with the storyline crossovers, but it was good. As Amy said, "It's a comic book on the screen." Constantine was really entertaining too. I love the storyline, about the mythology of the angels and the demons. And I really enjoyed the ending. The comic book adaptation that I bought when the movie came out didn't do it justice. The movie was scary and fascinating.

The Hayabusa probe
(artist's rendition)

The Hayabusa probe is a Japanese venture to gather rocks from an asteroid between the Earth and Mars. I didn't know there was an asteroid between the two.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

NFL Week One Recap

The first week is always the toughest to pick. The preseason is no real indication. You just have to go with your gut. I still would keep almost all of my picks if these week one teams played again. I ended up 8 and 8. Getting .500 for the first week is all right with me.

(Although the Eagles should have won Monday night if not for those flippin turnovers, I bet with my heart on Chicago and am looking forward to another miserable year rooting for them, and the Seahawks are the biggest disappointment because of everything that is written about them by the so-called experts never actually plays on the field. Will someone please tell Mike Holmgren that Matt Hasselbeck stinks!!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Moose is big here. The moose season only lasts like two or three weeks and some kids have even missed some days of school for it. The reading teacher, Lynn, just let me have a piece of moose jerky. It was good, however, most jerky tastes the same to me, and I've had regular and deer jerky. That's my first piece of moose though.

I even found out that the teachers bring it to eat for lunch. Lynn had a moose tongue sandwich the other day. I wasn't grossed out, just never had it before. It's like saying steak and kidney pie in England. Wouldn't dream of telling anyone I ate cow kidney. She said it is the most tender meat she had ever had. She is going to bring me in a couple of steaks from last season that she has kept frozen. I can't wait to try it. My family probably won't eat it (unless I play the "don't tell them" game).

Hunting here is still sustenance for some families. Still absolute living sustenance. They do not do it for the game, they do it to survive. One girl in her paragraph today said how tired she was because they were out late hunting again.


One of the more interesting things here in Nome is a program called NACTEC, the Nothwest Alaska Career and Technical Center.

In cooperation with other districts, kids go to different towns and spend two weeks learning something new. The batch just arrived here yesterday from other parts of Northwest Alaska and are staying in the dorms off the district office. Our neighbor and babysitter, Becca, is helping out with them.

Some districts here in Alaska are huge, literally encompassing almost 100,000 square miles. If you look at a map, you have to remember that there are almost no roads around here. Sure in the Nome area there are about 300 miles of road, going from Teller to Kougarok to past Cape Nome, but most of Alaska is still isolated by anything but bush plane. "Bush" is the term Alaskans use for wilderness areas or the "boonies" as we called it back in Somonauk when you lived on a farm outside of town. This is even more remote because there is literally NO ROAD going there. Just imagine for a minute no roads. I actually didn't believe it at first. I kept thinking to myself that this was the twenty-first century, that there have to be roads now going everywhere. Nope.

So the kids come and stay here, in one of the big cities of the area, for two weeks, learning a new trade or vocation. The trip is probably half the fun. What a great concept. These children can still live where they want to, where their family is and lives have always been, and now get to learn current vocational training.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Oh my

I just looked up my official grade for that Film Theory class, the one that I thought I got a D in...she gave me a C-. And I got a B- in that Creative Writing class. I should have gotten lower for the quality of work that I turned in and how late some of the items were.

Now this raises an interesting educational quandry: did they give me a higher grade because of the work or because they felt sorry for me? If it was the latter, than why do they have deadlines--or are they just guidelines? If they gave it to me for the first reason, well, then my work simply does not support it. I turned in absolute crap on my final papers in Film Theory and Creative Writing just to turn something in. I still wound up with decent grades.

I will not stress over these classes again.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday Afternoon II

9-11-05 3:05 pm

Update 3:05 pm

The two games I got to see today were the Jaguars beat the Seahawks and the Lions beat the Packers. I, of course, then get to watch the ESPN game of the Colts vs the Ravens and then Monday night’s game of the Falcons vs the Eagles.

Week One NFL

(My picks are in bold)
New England vs. Raiders win
Chicago vs Redskins loss—I bet with my heart on this one
Bengals vs Browns win
Broncos vs Miami loss—Miami got better
Texas vs Buffalo win
Saints vs Carolina loss—stupid to bet against New Orleans today
Jets vs Chiefs loss—Jets usually start out strong, today they don’t
Seahawks vs Jaguars loss—this is Mike Holmgren’s last year, I guarantee
Tampa vs Minnesota win
Titans vs Steelers win
(I am 5-5 at the Sunday halfway point)
Rams vs 49ers loss—what the heck?
Cardinals vs Giants win
Green Bay vs Detroit loss—Detroit looks good
Dallas vs Chargers win
Colts vs Ravens win (update 7:30 pm)
Eagles vs Atlanta

Sunday afternoon

September 11, 2005 12:30 pm

I am sitting here on my Mac laptop watching the Sunday season opener for the Seahawks. They are losing right now 20-14 to the Jaguars. The Seahawks aren’t really my team. I have had to follow them the most because that is what I have been used to in five years in Seattle. It’s amazing how local teams get all the coverage. I’m a Bears fan, tried and true, even through the worst of it. I have a Bears banner hanging up on the wall. The games start here at 9am in Alaska. Pre-game shows start at 7:30 or 8. That’s really early compared with the fact that I grew up watching the Bears kickoff at noon.

Football is the game that I love to watch the most. I think the most perfect aspect for me is the amount of games. Sixteen games over seventeen weeks. Makes each and every game super important. I have always thought that baseball could cut out games every season. A few years ago, the Mariners tied an almost 100-year-old record of winning 116 games. That still means they lost 46 games—a month and a half’s worth of games. Who can follow 162 games a year? I wrote off the Seattle Mariners this year 2005 really early on in the season. What’s the point? But with football, a team can still make a playoff run with a mediocre 8-8 record. They are still in it. Hockey and basketball have too many if you ask me at 82 games, especially when you factor in the LOOOOOOONG post-season they have. And I love the playoffs in football—one game, one winner, advance to the next round, none of this best-of-seven stuff. Football has only three weeks of post-season and then the crème-de-la-crème of sporting events…the Superbowl. So what I am watching today, the games and the highlight reels and the analysis, will culminate in a final explosive event that almost everyone in the United States watches. I am building up to it for something that feels like another Christmas payoff. Remember that Christmas feeling when you were seven? I feel that every year on Superbowl day after following it all season. And I feel that I can follow all of it, every team, every week. There is really only one day to follow—Sunday. I can devote time on Sunday night to follow it, catch the highlights. With baseball, you have to check in every bloody day. With football, you can talk about a game for a week—with baseball, it’s gone in less than 24 hours, and they start to blend together.

I just like the football season. I find it focused.

Let’s see, what else have I done this weekend? I read the first Sin City graphic novel by Frank Miller—I have the first edition trade paperback from before it was subtitled The Hard Goodbye. I have been talking to the tech guy at work, Sergio, and he reads comics too so he lent me A Dame to Kill For. We rented the DVD and are going to watch it tonight when Amy gets home from work.

She also rented The Punisher movie from last year. I hadn’t seen it yet. I’m debating the issue in my mind on whether I liked it or not. There was some really good stuff in it but some weird aspects to it. I never read much of the comic book series of The Punisher, I only knew the basic story. The movie did that part well. I don’t think Travolta did a good job as a mobster—it just didn’t come off. I think I am going to rate it three stars on Netflix (3 out of 5).

I have been reading The Volleyball Coaching Bible and it does NOT live up to its grandiose name. You’d think something named a Bible would have everything in it, like basic patterns and formations, rules and regulations. No, this is pretty much a coach’s pep talk book, especially a coach that has done this before. Roger Thomas, another English teacher from Bremerton, got it for me as a going-away present because he was the volleyball coach there. I should have gone to those camps that he runs during the summer. I’ll be fine with this. I know how to run the basic patterns after looking at a few graphics on Yes, there’s a My assistant coach, Susan, will be running the conditioning parts of the practices and then I will do up a schedule of drills. I can run this—Eric Bergeson taught me a lot when I was assistant coach for soccer under him a few years ago at South Kitsap. I know what to do.

I am still reading The Lord of the Rings and have to snatch it away from Amy because she has started re-reading it too. I am also reading some other Tolkien stuff, especially that History of Middle-Earth series. I am into The Return of the Shadow, showing the process of writing the beginning of LOTR; The Book of Lost Tales I, and The Silmarillion. And I am so glad that we have Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by David Day for a handy reference. Putting it all together gets to be fascinating. Makes me want to create a world, it really does.

I am losing some of my football picks. Some of the teams are better than I thought they were. I will add them all up later.

Week One NFL

(My picks are in bold)
New England vs. Raiders win
Chicago vs Redskins loss—I bet with my heart on this one
Bengals vs Browns win
Broncos vs Miami loss—Miami got better
Texas vs Buffalo win
Saints vs Carolina loss—stupid to bet against New Orleans today
Jets vs Chiefs loss—Jets usually start out strong, today they don’t score
Seahawks vs Jaguars loss—this is Mike Holmgren’s last year, I guarantee
Tampa vs Minnesota win
Titans vs Steelers win
(I am 5-5 at the Sunday halfway point)
Rams vs 49ers
Cardinals vs Giants
Green Bay vs Detroit
Dallas vs Chargers
Colts vs Ravens
Eagles vs Atlanta

It is a very very rainy day here in Nome, Alaska. Very rainy. A good day for football.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

NFL Week One Picks

I may not have written it down, but I predicted the New England Patriots would beat the Oakland Raiders in the season opener. I am 1 for 1. My picks are in bold.

New England vs Raiders
Chicago vs Redskins
Bengals vs Browns
Broncos vs Miami
Texas vs Buffalo
Saints vs Carolina
Jets vs Chiefs
Seahawks vs Jaguars
Tampa vs Minnesota
Titans vs Steelers
Rams vs 49ers
Cardinals vs Giants
Green Bay vs Detroit
Dallas vs Chargers
Colts vs Ravens
Eagles vs Atlanta

I love the NFL.

The Class to Nowhere

I had this "training" last night on the new Skills Tutor website that the district purchased. It is a great idea and can be used as a diagnostic tool and give students challenging work dependent on their ability. Phenomenal idea. I am 100% behind it. The only reason I went to this training, to be honest, is that I got a stipend for going. And they fed us pizza from Milano's in town. Good stuff.

However, the training could probably have been boiled down to one hour, not four (originally scheduled for five hours but I think the guy ran out of things to talk about so how they came about the five hour mark beats the hell out of me). It's a web program and was quite easy for me. I didn't need to waste almost two hours "playing around" with the little lessons and tests available. Oh well...I got paid.

And it brings up a very interesting problem. Now I have to worry about scheduling computer lab time...around everyone else that will be trying to use this fantastic system. I have to schedule all my eighth grade (and then seventh grade) sections on the same day or then it becomes a nightmare as to where one section is compared to another section--of the same class! It all comes back to incorporating technology. I want to do it--I will do it--it just now becomes a little hectic with logistics. And Nome Public Schools have more and better technology than I have seen. It's remarkable how far advanced they are and how much we have. Unfortunately, until every single student has a laptop (a great wish, I know!!), there will always be this little hassle. I'll work around it. I think kids would rather play on the computer than do worksheets.

Yesterday at school, we were on an early release schedule because we all went out to see the first cross country track meet of the season out back. It was wet and muddy and for some reason we got out at 2:00 pm and had to wait around for the buses until 3:50 pm. (Luckily, I got to go to the training at 3:00 pm, another apparent bonus to the training.) Have you ever watched a cross country track meet? We don't have a track--they run along the road that leads up to Anvil Mountain out back. You only really see them for ten seconds at a time...when they start and when they finish. So the kids were bored for almost two hours. It was like a block party in the mud.

At home, our apartment complex, the Beltz Apartments they are called locally, had a pot luck. Amy made these awesome beef barbecue sandwiches. It really feels like the dorm life here, but with kids. It's kinda neat. The kids all play in the hallways and in each other's apartments. Morgan had two of her friends from the complex sleep over last night. Madison has Lupe right across the hall. I think there are a total of less than 20 apartment units and most of us work for the school. I remember the dorms. That junior year I roomed with Britt in Heninger Hall and then the next year I was solo in Tanner Hall and Hennigar and Ortlieb were on the same floor. Here, it feels more cozy. I guess it is the factor of growing up.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Random thoughts

One of the tough things about seventh and eighth grade is that there is really no buy-in with the tough students. It's not like they need the class for credit. And remember how it all seemed so long? I remember thinking I would never get out of high school--FOUR years? Now it seemed a flash in the pan. So in eighth grade, if you were a difficult student anyway, why should you want to pass?

We sat through and cringed through the horrible movie ALEXANDER last night. When they were done making that film, doesn't anyone sit around and watch it, somebody knew, and say, "That's crap." I said in one of my previous posts that I could save Hollywood. Someone HAS to watch these stinking movies before just releasing them to us. It may have been better, but it had no focus. They portrayed probably the greatest king of all time as a little wuss. "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer." No, he was crying because he was a little baby as portrayed in that movie. (Were they trying to show how he was getting parental approval on both sides? One day he's cool with them, the next he is spitting at them. And why, oh why did the storyline flashback and flash forward in the weirdest places?) I just don't understand the movie.

The sun isn't rising as early anymore here in Nome. It still stays up kind of late, later than what I've been used to. The clock marks your days here, not the sun.

I have to read THE VOLLEYBALL COACH BIBLE this weekend and map out my strategy for the season and how practices are going to run. I know the basics of volleyball, but not the strategy yet. I feel like my daughter watching baseball--she knows the basic rules but not when to move the infield up, or how lefties play against righties. That's me right now. I have some learning to do. And I have to be an expert before practice begins on Sept. 19. Last year's "captain" came to introduce herself and told me to ask her any questions. I do not have just one captain. A new captain earns it every week by showing great stuff during the week. Most weeks will have a new captain for the games over the weekend. That keeps everybody working hard, not complacent.

Two girls came to introduce themselves for drama club yesterday too. I have to start that up too. I will be putting on a production sometime, hopefully a comedy. Someone tried to talk administration into adding debate and ?forensics? into drama club. Thankfully, I talked them out of it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

At the spot

I am at that spot right now where I am getting a feeling for the kids and their abilities. You can't do it on the first day and start at the right spot. You have to play with it, giving easy and hard stuff and seeing where they fall in the middle. I feel that I can actually put them at that learning level where they belong now.

And it is more than two preps. In a perfect world, I would be able to plan for two classes: three sections of eighth grade and three sections of seventh grade. That is now going to work. I need to put the classes at the individual levels.

Which almost isn't fair to me. I need another prep and more time to do it properly. Fifty-five minutes a day isn't enough. There is a lot of time I will need to spend outside of school working on this and gathering things for them to do and read their stuff they write each day. Some of this is as low as crafting complete sentences and for others I need to give them higher things to do.

Lots of work. I am up to the challenge, but it is nice to know exactly what I need to do now. I need to plan for each of my six class periods as if they were different classes.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The son of an Englishman who went up a mountain but came down a hill this time

So they show me up today.

There has been a field trip planned to take a hike up Anvil Mountain. It got rained out on Friday. So we went today. How did I know we would take the hard way again? The same way that I went up yesterday? We did. So now my accomplishment of yesterday is dobuled. Although, taking the entire 7th and 8th grade classes with us kind of diminishes it. I made it again. A dozen stragglers didn't. One kid puked coming up the mountain. Even kids were resting. So there's no shame to my taking breathers. It was actually interesting to share the moment with the other teachers and the students. To be honest, I was wondering about this field trip after yesterday. I thought it might be a little dangerous for junior high. I can't believe we went. It was hard to get permission to go ANYWHERE in my other districts. We get to go up a mountain here at Nome. So now we get to go back to class, last four periods of the day. I am making them do a 10-minute non-stop freewrite, so I am doing it too.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The son of an Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain

I woke up early. It was Monday, Labor Day, a day off of teaching. Amy had the day off today too. She had Madison. Morgan spent the night at a slumber party downstairs. I put on my boots and set off at about 7:30 am.

Anvil Mountain. It's right behind our apartment. It's not tall--in fact, I think I have already joked about it in writing that it looks like a hill, really. At the top is a structure of rocks that looks like an anvil, of sorts. I went exploring. (I brought my disposable camera and have to send those pictures to be developed.)

So I started walking. This was the same area that the gold rush hit this area about 1900. Nome was incorporated in 1901 with a population that in its prime was about 40,000 people, most looking for gold. On this mountain, you can still see the remains of water drainage gullies that the prospectors had created to get water down the mountain. (I have to investigate how they got it UP the mountain.) This has been a well-travelled area, but not for some time. The occasional hiker struts their stuff but that's about it. The drainage gully was the most direct shot, straight up the gullet of the mountain. I didn't want to take the long way on the dirt road. I wanted to see the mountain.

Whew, but it was tough. Once I got onto the path, the incline was greater than I thought. I took some pictures of the area. I could see the whole town of Nome, the Bering Sea, Sledge Island. There were times I realized how really out of shape I am because I had to stop at least a dozen times to catch my breath. It was nippy out but not too cold. Amy made me wear a bright red cap because it was hunting season for moose. She joked that she was going to make me a hat with antlers. Thank goodness I had that red cap because it kept my ears warm. The wind whipped around.

I made my way up the mountain. Just straight up, wherever I could find a somewhat level path. I didn't have to climb with my hands or anything. I stopped every once in a while too to see the debris that has been left from 80 or more years ago. There is still some rusted leftovers of the metal that helped to make up the drainage ditch that had been lined with slate. I even took a couple of rusted souvenirs, metal end caps or something. At a certain level, the mountain began to resemble another planet at times. The rocks, some slate that was loose and gravelly, and some of the small plant life just looked different than any grass lawn that I was accustomed to.

I made it though. I put my hands on the Anvil. I looked around for a bit. Ever wonder what's on the other side of a mountain? I found out. I saw the Kigluiak and Bendeleben Mountain ranges blanketed with clouds. It was amazing. We actually would have a better view of these mountains if not for Anvil Mountain. Almost unfair that there is such a great view that is blocked. But I am sure that the Anvil blocks us from wind too.

So I climbed a mountain today.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Another postcard--this one is an aerial shot of the town. Flat, with no buildings anyone would consider "tall."


By the way, I squeaked out a B- somehow in that Creative Writing class. Makes me think that I could have done almost nothing and still passed. My last two final projects were a joke, from my expectations of myself anyway. So I will take the D in Film Theory, attribute it to the move to Nome, and move on. I will ace Whitman. I hereby prophesy.

Other than that, the kids are out playing, enjoying a sunny day. I can see Sledge Island out our back windows, and that is thirty miles away. I am staying in and rereading The Lord of the Rings. It is even better the second time. I have a copy of Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by David Day by my side to look up references to really fit it all in together. Having some history already from reading it once, the movies, and The Hobbit, really helps. I feel more enmeshed in the world. I read over 90 pages today, and that's a lot for me.

It's weird, I'm an English teacher yet an awfully slow reader. I take too much time reading the words and sounding them in my own head as if someone were actually reading them aloud. That's how I read--as if it were aloud to someone. I even took a College Reading class at Waubonsee years ago, that didn't count toward any program, to get the speed reading techniques to possibly read faster. Never worked. I know how to do it, but concentrating on it for a long time is another matter. I can speed read for quick bursts, like when I had to search for the word Gilthoniel in the Encyclopedia today, to understand the reference. Hard work. My mind works differently. I honestly SEE words, punctuation and all, in the air, like dialogue balloons in a comic book. I honestly do. When someone says a new word, especially a name or foreign word that is new to me, I have to ask the spelling. I have to see the word. It's bizarre. I am a terrific speller and grammarian. In college, I took too late classes on linguistics. I really got into them. I was absolutley fascinated by phonemes and morphemes and the way the tongue rested differently on "th" sound than it did on "t." Unfortunately, changing my major to linguistics would have required additional years of schooling, and I was already planning on four and a half years with my one semester of student teaching. I was hoping that my Masters would have some linguistics classes, but alas, no.

Maybe that's why I've always enjoyed comic books. I understand thought balloons. Sometimes I can't grasp when another person has difficulties reading and writing because I see it so much differently. I am wired differently.

Nome is the finish of the great Iditarod dogsled race. In March, there is no "spring break" here. There is a week off officially titled on my schedule as "Iditarod Break." This is Front Street, and I have touched the wooden finish line that the racers pass under. It is off tot he side, actually to the right of that white building with the cross, on display year round for everyone to see.

Alaska postcard. I haven't seen much of these flowers yet.

Whitman class

I must do better in my Whitman class than I did in the last two classes. How's this?

After a little research, find a working definition of “transcendentalism” that you are comfortable with using in this discussion. Do the same for “naturalism,” but be careful not to confuse Whitman’s sense of naturalism with the sense of “naturalism that developed towards the end of his life in the American novel (Dreiser, Norris). They are quite different.
In what ways does Whitman identify with nature? Section 24 of the Deathbed Edition of Leaves of Grass details many of Whitman’s views on natural and the natural man and woman. What are they? This section, as you have learned, caused some problems with prudish censors at the time, especially his comment that “copulation is no more rank to me than death.” Were Whitman’s praises of death and sexuality unusual in his time? How do these views fit in with natural and transcendental views? In what sense does Whitman say that he is “divine”? How does Section 32 (“I think I could turn and live with animals”) fit into this world view.
Throughout Leaves of Grass there are innumerable passages that reflect Whitman’s philosophy of nature and the self. In what passages do you find these views most prominent and well-expressed? In many ways, Whitman is trying to “express the ineffable,” that is, give words to what cannot be put in words. What does this mean? Where in Leaves of Grass do you find him attempting to express the “mystery” of life and perhaps failing—although the failure is magnificent? Is this ineffability what he is referring to in the last three lines of Section 52? Here they are:
• Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
• Missing me one place search another,
• I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Pointing out transcendentalism is tough to newcomers because it is a new way of thinking. Try to tell someone to think of a higher spiritual power without giving it the name of a god. I like to think Emerson’s one vision of the transparent eyeball holds much in this respect: I become a transparent eyeball;
I am nothing;
I see all;
the currents of the Universal being circulate through me;
I am part or parcel of God.
And Emerson also said, “To create—to create—is proof of a divine presence.”
I like the following definition of transcendentalism to give meat to the fact that they believed in something, not the dogma that organized religion provided: William Henry Channing(1810-1844)
"Transcendentalism, as viewed by its disciples, was a pilgrimage from the idolatrous world of creeds and rituals to the temple of the Living God in the soul. It was a putting to silence of tradition and formulas, that the Sacred Oracle might be heard through intuitions of the single-eyed and pure-hearted. Amidst materialists, zealots, and skeptics, the Transcendentalist believed in perpetual inspiration, the miraculous power of will, and a birthright to universal good. He sought to hold communion face to face with the unnameable Spirit of his spirit, and gave himself up to the embrace of nature's perfect joy, as a babe seeks the breast of a mother."

In this regard, naturalism comes out as a way to identify humanity’s place in a post-Darwinian world. I, myself, have this contradiction and have always liked the transcendentalists. I want to believe in the power of the spirit but see the Kansas song lyric, “All we are is dust in the wind,” just as true. How do you combine the two philosophies? Whitman tried to exemplify this with thinking that copulation was just another natural act, as death was. Years later, Freud would expand these theories. I remember getting in trouble in high school talking about Freud’s view of sex, basically anything pleasurable not necessarily copulation, in vulgar terms. It is not vulgar, but a simple drive. But in those days, the era of Victorian England, people would cover up the table legs to prevent uncouth thoughts. I think along these lines for simple bathroom functions—no one talks about them but we all do them, and shouldn’t we as a human race have been past this nastiness? The answer is no because we are natural creatures. So when Whitman praises these basest of the human frailties, he was seemed as a bit deviant. We want to think we have surpassed these things, but we simply cannot escape these basest of natural functions.

In the poem “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” Whitman tries to talk about the fact that he may not be as divine as he would have liked to think. He wanted his poetry to be this great manifestation of the ideal, of everything that he idealized. He realizes that it isn’t, at times, the work of a man looking back on it and creating true poetry out of the junk. He thinks that some of it is junk, yet still creates poetry out of it, because the junk is part of the everything that he is idealizing. “But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreached... / ...I have not really understood any thing, not a single object, man ever can." He thinks he “can turn and live with animals” because we ARE animals. In a way, he realizes that what he is creating is ineffable and can’t put words to it. He has great ideas, but expressing such a concept is hard. Look at the fact that there are numerous definitions of exactly what a transcendentalist is. He tries to create it, does his best, but in the end, all it is is himself standing there, planting the seeds of thoughts that maybe someone greater can help him with.

This is the official teaser poster for Superman Returns from Warner Bros.

Another postcard of the Alaskan northern lights. I will see even more of them when I go to Barrow twice this year to coach the volleyball team. (That's another thing I have to get started.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A beautiful day in Alaska

It's a gorgeous day here today. Sun is bright and the skies are clear. There is so much more sky here, it seems to me. I am not encased by trees as I was in Washington.

Got our love seat chairs from yesterday. We now have several sticks of furniture and a decent living room. We may be ordering a new 20" TV and a DVD/VCR combo through the Wal-Mart Alaskan Bush catalog. They ship to more remote places without charging an arm and a leg.

I'll be ok with teaching here. I just have to bring down my expectations to their actual level, then raise them as we go. The aide that is in my low-end first period class says there are kids in there who are doing great because they are writing things down. They are actually doing something when they haven't before. I guess that's leaps and strides. We'll work it out.

I am so glad it's a three-day weekend. I need the rest from getting back into the swing of things. I may be playing softball this evening--there is a big tournament for Labor Day. I would've played last night but the other team didn't all show.

I'm starting a Walt Whitman class for my Masters. Should be ok. I think I ended up with two D's in those last two classes because of all the late work I submitted because of the time without computer when I couldn't submit. Oh well. Just do better on this class now and my GPA will pop back up. I just want the damn degree anyway for the raise in pay. I did learn from the classes, just turned in late work. That's what's important: learning. That's two A's, a B, and two D's now. Oh well.

This apartment complex is feeling neater by the day. It feels just like a dorm room back in college except for the little kids running around.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I am going to try to be a little more creative with the kids to start with. They don't want to start with thesis statements (even though they need it and it helps them immensely). I am going to give them a creative prompt that will hopefully get the juices going. Today's is always the best in my repertoire: Try to describe chocolate to somebody who has never tasted chocolate. They scratch their heads but inevitably come up with some good similes and metaphors, and then I can talk about those. Since it is Friday, I am also going to have them create an Autobio-Poem today that is pretty rigidly structured. It helps them to know exactly what to write on each line. I will then be able to put them up on the wall to showcase their work. Helps with buy-in.

Off the topic, Amy's feet have been killing her when she comes home. Standing behind the checker counter at Hanson's grocery isn't as easy as it looks. Just standing on your own two feet in one spot is worse than walking. I thought about it last night and that must be why I was so skinny back in high school and college: I must have walked MILES each day at Art's Supermarket in Sandwich, Illinois. Miles. I never sat down but for the one (maybe two) fifteen minute breaks you were allowed. Sure we slacked off sometimes but we never sat down. They can catch you sitting down. Standing, you could always get away with pretending to do something else. That is why I am fatter now. I used to walk everything off, practically every day, for six to eight hours a day. I was a carry-out boy/stocker/checker. And I remember those days checking used to hurt my feet even more than walking the floor. I have felt a bit sorry for Amy. She is used to walking around and cutting hair. Now she has to stand in one place.

Off to plan for the day. I am going to have to decide how to split up the curriculum I set for myself for the lower-end classes. They are taking twice as long to write the friendly letter describing their product. So today's creativity ought to help.