27 June 2008

Disc Golf Mecca!

We just got back from a visit to Dad and Trisha's new home in South Carolina. Other than the drive there and back, it was a very relaxing week. We relaxed on the porch, drank good wine, ate good food, played a few rounds of golf. . . . Good times.

A highlight of the trip came when we all went to play a round of disc golf. I searched online (at http://www.pdga.org) for nearby courses. The closest good course was in Appling, Georgia. Off we went. When we got there, we discovered that we had stumbled upon the recently completed PDGA International Disc Golf Center-- the location of the PDGA Hall of Fame! It was cool. We all had fun playing the "Steady" Ed Headrick Memorial Course, named for the father of disc golf. 2500 disc golf courses in the United States, and we accidentally find the Mecca of the sport.

18 February 2008

We are the champions!

Either that or the Bigger Losers! You see, the normal snowfall for this point in the season is 35". We've had about 90". That is the highest total for any YEAR on record. The old record was a mere 76". We'll break 100" by the end of the season. We got about foot of the stuff yesterday. Sigh.

Time for fun with snow. In the picture above (of the back yard of a neighbor), can you count the vehicles? If you said one, you might live in Florida. There are three vehicles in this yard! (Two of them are to the left of the shoveled-out S.U.V.)

I've been lucky. I have a few neighbors with snow blowers, and they've been huge helps with our sidewalk. I paid a neighbor today to get as much of the snow and ice off of the roof as he could. The streets look like white canyons (what with all the snow piled on the sides). Classes at the college were cancelled again today, since the roads had not been cleared yet.

Any way you cut it, this has been a crazy year!

21 January 2008

Checking in. . . .

It's been a long time since I have written an entry. My wife is giving me some friendly grief about that.

We went to Tallahassee for Christmas to visit family. The visit went very well; it was great to see everyone, and the warm weather was nice also.

When we got back, I immediately started teaching a three-week Winter-term class (film studies). The assistant dean in charge of scheduling did not think that I could get the 13 students required for the class to break even; I have 31. I am very good at shameless self promotion. That class wraps up tomorrow. The Spring semester begins next week (though faculty reports tomorrow). My supervisor thinks I'm nuts to not take a break; he's worried that I'll burn out.

This has been a crazy winter. We've had ice-dam roof issues. I had to re-do the kitchen ceiling because of water damage. Now the roof is covered with snow again, so I am worried about a recurrence. Sigh. The joys of home ownership. There's something to be said for renting after all. . . .

22 November 2007


Here are a few pictures of Brigheon's new puppy, a small sheltie that we named Grendel (yes, after the demonic monster who battles Beowulf in the ancient Old English epic). We got Grendel from a local sheltie rescue. He's about eleven months old. He's a pretty typical sheltie, barking at odd noises and new objects. He does not, however, bark at cars like Logan. At first, Logan was pretty distrustful-- there was a lot of snarling and baring of teeth. Now, however, they run about and play. It does my heart good to see Logan act like a puppy himself. While Logan will usually curl up in a nearby room, Grendel would rather be at our feet (or, even better, beside us on the sofa). He's a real sweetie.

12 November 2007

Youth group retreat

Well, after a break of about nine years, I have been convinced to start volunteering in youth ministry again. This weekend, we had out first retreat. We had only five kids show up. That's a start, I suppose. Regardless, we had a great time. I hope the kids who did come really talk up the weekend, making the other kids jealous. We had Bible studies. We played Chubby Bunny (a silly game involving trying to talk with a mouthful of marshmallows). The best part was the challenge course at the retreat center. Click on the picture above for a close-up. Boy, my hair has gotten long!

21 October 2007

Wisconsin fall colors

We drove over to Fond du Lac yesterday to visit the Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue. We adopted a beautiful little puppy. He will be delivered in a week or two. We will call him Grendel.

Anyway, we hoped to see some great fall colors. As it turns out , the best leaves were in Baraboo. Here are a few pictures. The close ups are from our own yard. The distance shot is at the college.

15 October 2007

Bow before the great and powerful Oz!

One of my students has formed a facebook group dedicated to being a cult in my honor. He actually uses the word "cult." That's pretty disturbing. . . . Flattering (I guess), but disturbing. Apparently, the "cult" has more than thirty members (most of them my students). Oy. I've never been worshiped before-- not formally, anyway.

Oh, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

07 October 2007

Better living through chemistry

Okay, I'm not much for the whole holistic medicine field. Many of my friends who are into such things do so at the exclusion of traditional medicine, and I think that is a mistake. I say this to let anyone who finds this entry via a search engine know that I am a skeptic.

That being said, my hips have been hurting every day for months. (Perhaps that's the delayed result of being hit by a car twenty-eight years ago.) Anyway, I did not want to take pain meds for the rest of my life, so I thought I'd try glucosamine this week. The studies that I researched have conflictiong results, but I figured it was worth a try. The effects were almost instantaneous. I have had no hip pain all week. Wow.

28 August 2007

The Best of Luck!

Back in 1995 and 1996, when I lived in Camden Town (North London), there was a man who walked around the Sainsbury's (a grocery store). Every time he saw someone, he would shout "The Best of Luck!" He might have three items in his shopping cart; if you saw him again a few minutes later, he might have nothing in his trolley (or he might have several completely different items). Once, he lost his voice. He just wandered the store looking sad (thought the employees seems gleeful). I saw him and shouted "The Best of Luck!" He beamed. After that, we greeted each other anytime we saw each other (with, of course, "The Best of Luck!").

When my lovely wife and I went to London last month, I heard a man at Camden Lock Market shout "The Best of Luck!" I turned around to find a young man telling a young woman about this local legend. She seemed skeptical. I assured her that the man was real.

I did a bit of research tonight on the 'net, and I have found that he is quite famous in the Camden and Finchley areas. His name seems to be Horace. British comedian Ray Peacock has a nice posting on his blog that mentions Horace. Sadly, he is apparently quite mad and is given to angry and vulgar rants (directed mostly at young thugs who antagonize him by calling him Stanley). One site suggests that Stanley is the name of his deceased brother who died tragically in a fire. There are even some horrible YouTube videos of Horace shouting obscenities. (If anyone wants to see this, search for "bum fight promo. fighting talk"; I will not post the link-- it's too sad.) I found several videos of him shouting obscenities, but none of him smiling and shouting his signature phrase. That's a sad reflection of the rest of us. I found one grainy picture of him online (below).He may be nutters, but I liked him. The best of luck, Horace. God bless.

One last comment-- since I originally posted this blog entry, I've noticed a number of visits from readers who were googling words like "Horace," "Finchley," "Camden," and (or course) "The best of luck!" If you know of Horace or know more information, PLEASE post a comment. Thank you, and may you have the best of luck.

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14 August 2007

What book am I?

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I rather like the choice (though I dispute the allegation that I sleep "with as many people as I can"). My lovely wife took the quiz and got the same result that I did!

08 August 2007

I've been Simpsonized

In a total (but fun) waste of time, I visited the SimpsonizeMe website. Here is the result!

18 July 2007

We are back and I am 40.

We returned from our trip to England on Monday. My schedule is still a bit wonky.

My paper at the conference went well, and we had a great time. We traipsed all over London, and we took day trips to Canterbury, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Bath, and Oxford. (The picture above is me at Oxford.) I took about 700 pictures. It was good to return to my old haunts.

On another note, I turn 40 today. I suppose I am supposed to be freaked out about it, but I'm not.

05 July 2007

Not that anyone would notice, but

we will be at a literary conference in London for the next week and a half.

16 June 2007

yes I said yes I will Yes.

Happy Bloomsday. I sat at the local bookstore and read aloud (mostly alone) for about two hours this afternoon. (Yes, it was an arranged reading. Ulysses will be read aloud today and tomorrow until it's finished.)

By the way, the title of this post is comprised of the book's seven final words.

11 June 2007

FSU wins second national title in a row!

Longtime readers of this blog (both of you) will remember that I was pumped last year to discover that Florida State University had won the NCAA national championship for track and field. Well, our men did it again. Read all about it here.

Sadly, this year I got NO newspaper coverage. I suppose that I should not be surprised that no one in Wisconsin cares about FSU. I'm excited, for what it's worth. Go Noles!

09 June 2007

A guy with a PhD working in a burger joint?

Here's a picture of me working this Wednesday at Culver's Butterburgers and Frozen Custard. My father always made jokes along the line of "If you get a PhD in English, you'll end up working in a fast-food place!"; turns out he was right.

An explanation is in order. Perhaps you remember a few months ago when I reported that a favorite student of mine had been killed in a car accident. I found out ten minutes before class began. I walked into class and broke the news to her classmates. We spent about 45 minutes talking and crying together. I spent the last 30 minutes covering the material that we HAD to cover that day. I felt a bit useless, having wasted most of the class-- I just couldn't imagine that anything I had said had done any good. I got back to my office and had an email from a student in the class (named Missy). She had gone straight to the computer lab, I guess, and sent me a note thanking me for spending time talking about Megan. Missy said that it was nice to realize that she attended a college where the professors really cared. She close by saying that I should let her know if there was any sort of fundraiser for Megan's five-year-old son. An idea was planted.

I am very competitive and good at motivating others. I spearheaded a college fund for Megan's son. (I was fortunate to get a few other folks to do the real work, leaving me to handle cheerleading.) We raised money on campus. We got donations from the community. Pizza Hut donated 20% of their take on their buffet for a day (for anyone who brought in a coupon for the fundraiser); sadly, that only amounted to $148. I guess people can't be bothered to worry about such coupons. Anyway, Culver's generously decided to donate 10% of their take for the whole day last Wednesday-- no coupon necessary! To make it even better, they intentionally chose the last day of the school year for the local schools (one of the busiest days of the year). They asked me to work as a "celebrity employee," which I gladly did. That event raised about $800. I don't have final tally yet, but it looks as if we have raised about $3,500 for the college fund! Not a bad, huh? It certainly won't pay for this kid's college, but it's a good start. More than anything else, perhaps it will instill in him an expectation that college is a possibility for his future.

Anyway, this has taken up much of my time in recent weeks. I am glad that my part in it is finished. I'm tired.

24 May 2007

Towel Day!

Tomorrow is Towel Day. There will be an observance of Towel Day at the local book store downtown. We will be performing a reading of the original BBC radio script of THHGTTH. Join us! Read! There are many prime parts still up for grabs. (I've already got dibs on Arthur Dent.)

If you can't be there, then just carry a towel all day. After all, a towel "is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have."

23 May 2007

I'd have rather been Bogart. . . .

Your Score: John Wayne

You scored 33% Tough, 23% Roguish, 14% Friendly, and 28% Charming!

You, my friend, are a man's man, the original true grit, one tough talking, swaggering son of a bitch. You're not a bad guy, on the contrary, you're the ultimate good guy, but you're one tough character, rough and tumble, ready for anything. You call the shots and go your own way, and if some screwy dame is willing to accept your terms, that's just fine by you. Otherwise, you'll just hit the open trail and stay true to yourself. You stand up for what you believe and can handle any situation, usually by rushing into the thick of the action. You're not polished and you're not overly warm, but you're a straight shooter and a real stand up guy. Co-stars include Lauren Bacall and Maureen O'Hara, tough broads who can take care of themselves.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

A good day

Saturday was the graduation at the small college at which I teach. We only have about 550 students, so there were not very many graduates (and many of those do not participate in the graduation). Thus we probably had fifty or sixty grads marching. The faculty rent full regalia each year; I took the advice of older colleagues, who said that if they had it to do over again, they would purchase their own robes. It was expensive, but it will save me money in the long run. The picture above shows the English professors-- one of which is retired, one is retiring this year, and one retires next year. That means that I will be the associate chair in my third year! Absurd. This will be the last time that the four of us will be gathered together again....

Anyway, it was a great graduation. The weather was beautiful and the ceremony dignified. The best part (for me) was when I discovered that the students of the college had selected me for the "Faculty of the Year" award! Not bad for my first year, eh?

12 May 2007

We landed in a good place

Larry, a good friend and one of my former mentors, asked me if I'd landed in a good place. Yes. Here is a picture of me from a few weeks ago, playing disc golf with my lovely wife. (She's taking the picture.) In the background is the college's library building. We have a full 18-hole disc-golf course on the campus! I played yesterday with the chemistry prof; he won by one stroke. . . er, throw. (He says that he won by two, but that's because he charged me with a silly penalty stroke.) Good times.

06 May 2007


A coworker gave me a bag of six morel mushrooms. I had never had (or heard of) morels before moving the Wisconsin. Click for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morel

I soaked them in salt water for several hours (to kill any critters). Then I sliced them lengthwise and sauteed them in butter. I grilled some sirloin steaks and topped them with feta cheese (and left this on the grill to melt the feta slightly). I roasted some fresh asparagus, drizzled with olive oil and a bit of the Greek seasoning.

The steak and asparagus, though excellent examples of the respective dishes, were nowhere near as amazingly delicious as the morels. The flavor is indescribable. I'll try-- steaklike, but more complex and subtle. . . .



27 April 2007

I'm not sure where the "humble" part came from.... I answered all the questions honestly!

24 April 2007

Whenever anyone asked my grandfather what he wanted for any gift, he always gave the same reply:

“A smile and a kind word.”

When I was a child, I thought that was a silly answer.

The older I get, the more that I realize how wise Grandy’s answer was.

On an unrelated note, one of my favorite students was killed yesterday in a car accident. Megan was a bit punk, with a few piercings, a few tattoos, a sarcastic attitude, a sharp mind and wit, and a five-year-old son. Sigh. There is no joy in Mudville today.

Give someone a smile and a kind word today. They might need it, and you might not get another chance.

21 April 2007

Old Coots win!

Yesterday was the Coots vs. Whippersnappers softball game. That's not the actual name, but if I put the real words (which are similar), students may find this blog. Anyway, it's our student/faculty softball game. The faculty always win. Always. If, at the end of the day, the students are in the lead, we invoke "retroactive norming" to make the the score more. . . accurate.

Here I am getting a hit. I only took one at-bat, so I can claim that I am batting 1.000! Not many players can claim that. (Note the FSU cap and the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneakers. Cool, huh?)

I actually made it home! Here I am, having just crossed the plate with my veteran colleague Bill celebrating my run. My shirt is shameless self-promotion of my summer class. If I don't get enough students, I'll have to get a summer job! (My hair is getting long. . . .)

Astoundingly, we won the game (with some rather generous officiating playing a minor role). It was great fun. I have assumed the mantle of Captain Coot. (None of the more seasoned members of the faculty wanted the job.) My main task is trash-talk. I'm good at that. Last year, we had only nine members of faculty and staff who played. This year, we had over twenty. My inaugural outing as Captain was a success!

Good times.

10 April 2007


And now they are saying that we could get six inches of wet snow over the next twenty-four hours!

07 April 2007

Crazy weather

I suppose it might be sad that the most interesting thing that I have to talk about is the weather, but that's normal when one moves from Florida to Wisconsin (at least for the first year). It was 80 degrees two weeks ago. All the snow melted. I finally understood why e. e. cummings called spring "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful." I did not enjoy the mud like cummings did, but I certainly saw a lot of it! Anyway, now it's cold again. The low this week has been about 18 degrees most nights. Last night, it got down to 16! The high today is 32. It snowed this week! Nothing stuck, and it was just light flurries, but STILL! Crazy.

04 March 2007

Snow Oscar, Part II

My lovely wife was disappointed that I posted such a boring picture of my snow Oscar. She prefers the picture of me "accepting" the award. (If I ever had to give such a speech, it would be tough to get out of my mind the famous example of the importance of the comma before the "and" in a series-- "I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God.")

Anyway, it has been a week since the Acadeny Awards, and my snow Oscar is. . . leaning. In fact, I think he is defying gravity! It's a darn good thing that I DID give him a sword! That blade is turning out to be more of a cane. Maybe I should tell people that I have built a snow Dr. Gregory House. . . .

03 March 2007

First cold, then snow

Last month, it got down to around 20 below (twenty-two below at a co-worker's house just south of town); this week, we got slammed with snow. There has been a couple of feet of snow. This would be no big deal, except the plows push what is in the streets to the edge of your property. Thus, we end up with walls like those above. You can see my lovely wife shoveling the snow. She's been great about sharing the work.

The one advantage of all this snow is that I finally got to make my first snowman last Sunday. Nerd that I am, I was not content with the traditional snowman. I made a snow Oscar-- after all, it WAS the day of the Academy Awards. Our friend Bill came over for the Oscars, but he thought I had built a snow King Arthur! He said the sword threw him off. He's a member of the Screen Actors' Guild, and he did not know that the Oscar statue held a sword! I should have painted the whole thing gold....

19 February 2007

If you can't go to Mardi Gras....

then bring Mardi Gras to you! No, it's not the same as being in New Orleans, but we still had fun. A local non-profit hosted a Mardi Gras party this weekend. There was a great band, and the Cajun food was actually excellent (except for the awful hush puppies). My lovely wife and I decided to kick it old school-- as in 17th-century Venetian old school! Had there been a costume contest, we'd have won easily....

09 February 2007

Adult Chili Number 5 Rules!

Tonight was a local charity event to raise money for the local charter school. It was a square dance and chili cook-off. We are good friends with the event's organizer, so I threw my hat in the ring for the chili cook-off. I've always made good chili, if I do say so myself. However, I usually use Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit as a base. I did not feel right about using a mix for a contest, even just as a base; thus, Doc's Down South Chocolate Chili was born. (Yes, I do put a bit of grated unsweetened chocolate in it, much like a Mexican molé sauce.) There were nine entries (I was number 5), and most of them were quite good (especially the seafood chili and the chipotle vegetarian chili). Regardless, my chili won! For my culinary efforts, we get a night in a whirlpool suite at a resort up in the Dells. Woo hoo! Now I can call my concoction Doc's Award-Winning Down South Chocolate Chili....

03 February 2007


It's cold here. Right now it's five below zero (Fahrenheit). With gusts of up to 27 mph, that puts the wind chill at about 30 below. Oy. Tonight, the low will be 12 below. The high tomorrow will be four below. Tomorrow night, the low is supposed to be -15! And you know what? We're okay. I walked Logan this morning, and it was fine. I did bundle up pretty well.... As my old carpool buddy Mary said recently, "There is no such this as inclement weather, only inadequate clothing." The picture above is the view from our hallway window.

27 January 2007

Woo hoo!

Well, this week was my first real experience sledding. I went to the local Sears Grand and got the last sled that they had in stock-- a lime-green, 66", plastic toboggan. I talked the student activities director (George, pictured here) into showing me the ropes on the hill behind the college. It was a blast!

It may be sad to try sledding for the first time at 39, but better late than never....

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