Friday, January 19, 2007


This year there has been a theme to my reading habits I think I am going to encourage over the next eleven months, within reason. This is in no way a resolution. I've often noted definite holes in my well-readness: important books from the formative reading years that have somehow slipped between the cracks. This subject recently arose when I revealed that I've never read Catch 22. While I was chugging doggedly away at the collected works of Shakespeare my fourteenth summer, I was not reading Joseph Heller. As I forced down Moby Dick and Heart of Darkness, I was also somehow ignoring Jane Austin. Even back when I was reading about Paddington the Bear, I was not reading about Peter Pan. Last year I read Crime and Punishment and the Comedians. So far this year I've read Harper Lee and am poised to read Henry James. So I'm currently into a theme of reading missed classics, I guess. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, by the way. There's a scene in that book that is very much like today. I was woken-up early this morning because it was snowing in Greensboro, North Carolina. The snow was supposed to fall a few hours before turning into freezing rain that would not accumulate as the day warmed. I stayed up an hour, and then went back to sleep until this afternoon. The rain must never have happened because there is still snow on the ground at four. In Harper Lee's Maycomb, Alabama, it snowed the morning of Miss Maudie's house fire. A southern flurry, it was only enough for Scout and Jem to make a snowman out of mud to then encase in packed snow culled from several local yards. Today is like that in my own southern town. [Cavin]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Recently, Sunshine decided she was interested in investing a little time in the social network MySpace. She'd been signed-up there for a while, but never had the time to really begin the arduous process of persona management until last week. She seems to be enjoying herself immensely.* Then, a few days ago, a friend of mine devoted a little text to condemning MySpace over at his own public forum.* Fair enough: I have once upon a time spit vitriol in the name of social network franchises like MySpace (or Friendster, or Facebook, or many others). They all just seem so fictional and time-consuming. But this recent one-two helping of opposite opinions made me want to examine my feelings about the subject. I blog, the components of which can be boiled down into three parts: there is content consisting of produced material, an ability for users to create public interplay through commentary, and a contextual user profile. Importance is apportioned in roughly that order: content, interplay, context. If I were to force an arch nuance between my blog and the classic network site model, it would be that, while the content is by far the largest of these parts here, within MySpace, etc., the profile assumes the lead, closely followed by comment interplay, with content distantly trailing. These sites also employ a fourth, rather more meta, component: the ability to also orchestrate information by the subtle but public control of what information goes where. Within MySpace, users have the ability to limit group interaction as another method of persona building. This is interesting to me, but nothing with which I am interested in taking part. I want to create content, and let that content stand alone. I do not want to manage a persona of crafted group interactions. Therefore. [Cavin]

Monday, January 15, 2007


Often, while I'm away, I start thinking of Sunshine's family farm as being some sort of fantasy place. It's bucolic: mountain fields, ponds and shelves of rock dot the landscape. It often storms with showy electricity before settling into pretty lingering fog. In spring it explodes in flowers. It's brightly colored, upholstered, and scattered with interesting decorations. Bottle cap mosaics and painted gourds decorate the farmhouse, mannequins and decaying baby dolls sit here and there. Large paintings and collages with castaway AOL CDs can be found on nearby roofs and walls. There are small, year-round flowers cut from painted tin and larger flowers painted on little stands of satellite dishes. There are also the realities of farm life, of course. Even these seem whimsical to me: the history of tobacco farming, pastures lent for dairy cows and hay, beehives and honey, lopsided vegetable gardens. The fact is, looking at photos of the place, remembering spending time here, this farm seems to ferment mythologically in my mind. I begin thinking I'm enhancing things. I'm always surprised when I return to discover that, no, it's just exactly how I remember it. Today's waxing is brought to you by ladybugs, by the way. Any bug in sufficient quantity is considered a pest; yet ladybugs are so damn cute. Where I've lived, homes become infested with roaches, ants, or silverfish (one seldom worries about termites in rental property). Nasty, dirty-feeling creatures that creep and destroy wellbeing. But I recall that, instead of rats, this house has cute flying squirrels. When I spend summer weeks in the old smokehouse, I awake to hundreds of moths instead of hornets' nests. As I write this, I'm surrounded by spotted, harmless ladybugs. Even pests here are a bit whimsical, see; and will be, in retrospect, mythical. [Cavin]

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This news is one day old, but I thought it was appropriate here, so I'm putting it in. Yesterday, at six am Greek local time, militant factions attacked the second-floor bathroom of the US Embassy in Athens by firing a (possibly Soviet-made) rocket-propelled grenade through the front window.* Possibly they were aiming for the large blue and white eagle seal hanging near the bathroom window on the outside of the building. No one was injured; even the bathroom is expected to recover. Backseat pundits across the media landscape immediately suspected some sort of fundamental Islamic group to be behind the attack, but it turns out that it was actually terrorism: local Greek leftists with November 17 envy blowing attention-getting shit up. Who? There have been two different phone calls claiming responsibility, and I am loath to advertise the groups involved within this forum. Then why? There are many possible reasons,* but probably it was a "war on terror" reprisal, offering destructive criticism of our treatment of "prisoners" in Guantanamo Bay. Official US governmental reactions are trying to play the silly little attack down, possibly because it is embarrassing. While we blocked off traffic in the Greek capital for hours, we have not called for any military response. Good. It is flabbergasting that any little nobody with a legitimate beef can now lob, fire, drive, or otherwise transmit destructive force. It is a shame that they are willing to. Certainly it is sickening that a military response to a handful of neighborhood criminals is getting to be so rote that we are actually appraised, by international newspapers, when we decide against one. Were this to have happened in another country--African, say--it is all to easy to imagine our Blackhawks razing a few terrorist city blocks in reprisal. [Cavin]