I have my tenure letter in hand. It is a yes.
In one sense, receiving it was somewhat anti-climatic, as it is the end result of a very long process that involved a considerable amount of hard work. So, the actual moment is not as transformative or exciting as some might think it, at least for me; rather, it is merely a bright point on a continuing line.
But it’s very nice to have in hand, I have to say, especially with Luke almost here.
Baby’s almost here. We are as prepared as we’re going to be.
I’ve been playing the survival game The Long Dark of late. I recently passed the 50-day mark in the Steam achievements, in terms of days survived in the game’s simulation of the Canadian wilderness.
Overly aggressive wolves were a big problem at first until I figured out how to deal with them – scare them off with flares and torches until I got my hands on a rifle about 20 days in. Then they became a special treat.
Rabbits became my dietary staple in the last two weeks, as the wild’s ammo is quite limited.
I saw a bear, but you make different decisions when you have only one life. In some other game I would have attacked; here, I backed away slowly and then ran.
So I finally finished Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Short summary: So-so intro, great middle, so-so ending.
I certainly got my money’s worth. It has to be one of the longest RPGs I’ve ever played. The sheer number of quests and sidequests and fleshed-out areas to explore is mind-numbing.
I have to say, though, that I found the main quest lacking. The villain was one-dimensional – a standard I-like-chaos-wannabe-god type. He should have been dispatched in Act I and replaced immediately with someone more nuanced, like Flemeth or Morrigan, for example. Or the Plot Surprise (no spoilers) that comes in the end, instead of midgame where it would have made far more impact and led to a very different, and better, story.
I also don’t think that my BIG DECISIONS during the game made much difference on the ending. Templars vs. mages, Cassandra vs. Liliana, keeping Cole or Blackwall vs. dumping them, etc. The plot just sort went ‘eh’ when I made those decisions.
I also (this is turning into a list of the game’s flaws, isn’t it) was disappointed in the role of Power. I had over 250 Power at the end, and nothing to spend it on. I was assuming I was stockpiling it for a big battle or political maneuvering, but in the end I got a standard boss fight. Shades of ME3. Bioware, why do you always flub the ending?
I think my favorite part of the game is when the Inquistor gets to judge prisoners. Execute, imprison, let go, fine, recruit – what to do, now that you have power? Those were interesting decisions, with no clear-cut right answers. I would like to have seen more of that.
So I have gotten interested in playing guitar again, after a year or so of no activity, and I recently bought a few pedals to kind of broaden my sonic horizons, so to speak. They are the Octafuzz and the Shaky Jimi.
The Octafuzz is a ripoff of Roger Mayer’s famous Octavia, which is still made via Mayer, but is out of my price range at $300 a pop. Both are octave doublers that add a note one octave up to whatever note you’re playing. This sounds horrible with chords, but very good with single notes picked close to the neck pickup. Hendrix famously used the Octavia to play the blistering solos on “Purple Haze” and “Fire,” among many other instances. I can get something pretty close to that cuts-like-a-knife sound with the Octafuzz, especially if I combine it with my Fuzz Face, with the Fuzz Face first in the chain and the Octafuzz second.
The Shaky Jimi is a ripoff of the famous Univibe, with a separate chorus setting. When on the vibe setting, it makes a sound like an old Leslie rotating speaker cabinet. I primarily bought the SJ so I could approximate the sound in Hendrix’s “Hey Baby,” which is probably my favorite guitar song. I am happy to report that the SJ is indeed capable of this sound, with a little knob-fiddling. I had previously owned a Rotovibe, which also did this effect well, but it stopped working and I lost track of it between moves years ago.
In other news, H and I went to a joint baby shower for her and her sister (who is also pregnant) on Saturday. It was a fun occasion and we received a lot of really useful and wonderful stuff from some very thoughtful people.
This piece in the NYT describes the unique writing process of a pornographer who could write a book in three days. Fascinating stuff. I can see doing it in a month, but three days? That’s Isaac Asimov territory.
The baby’s still not here, but we spend an increasing amount of time thinking about it and realizing that it is indeed a REAL THING THAT WILL HAPPEN. Due date is April 12. It’s a boy and his name will be Luke.
Recently acquired a Les Paul, and having been playing it daily. It seems to have rekindled my interest in guitar, because I very rarely played last year. I also figured out how to play through headphones with my iPad, which is neat.
I also grew a beard over the holidays and have decided to keep it for awhile. No real reason. It seems to have attracted favorable comments so far.
My main mission this semester, outside of teaching, is to finally finish the article on Perleman and the state of the rhetoric discipline that I started last year. I think it’s doable as long as I do it well before the baby gets here.
The prosecutor in the Ferguson case, Robert McCulloch, gave a very interesting speech last night while announcing the grand jury’s decision. I am particularly interested in it because of the extensive use of moderating language, given that I have published a piece recently on moderation.
Over and over again, McCulloch stressed that the grand jury had worked extremely hard and that every piece of possible evidence had been extensively weighed and considered, and that the process was fair and impartial and had considered every angle. This must have been 90% of his prepared remarks and much of it predicated the actual announcement of the grand jury’s decision. The other 10% was criticizing the media. The announcement of the decision was almost anticlimactic given the amount of apology that preceded it.
Needless to say, all this moderating language as an apology for the decision could not have possibly succeeded. Ultimately the speech could do little more than reinforce the beliefs those who believed the shooting was justified, and anger those that thought the incident was some form of murder. In short, McCulloch was in a no-win situation, rhetorically – there is literally nothing he could have said that would change anyone’s reaction to the news. About the only way he could have done worse is to not give the speech at all.
I had to wipe my iPad yesterday and lost about six months worth of diary entries as a result. For some mysterious reason, it stopped recognizing my passcode. I think it may have been hacked when I connected it to the wireless at work that day, which I’d never done before – even though I’ve never heard of that happening.
I suppose I have learned my lesson and will start backing up documents either to the cloud or to my desktop. I didn’t lose too much, but it hurt.
Our article (Adam Ellwanger and I) “The Rhetoric of Moderation in Deliberative Discourse: Barack Obama’s December 1, 2009 Speech at West Point,” is online in the journal Cogency. I really thought our collaboration worked well in this article, and that it says several valuable things about how political discourse is formulated.
H and I learned recently that the baby is a boy. While I was going to be fine with it either way, I have to say that this is exciting, now that we know for sure.
Now I have a sort of general concern about being a dad, which veers from mild worry to abstract terror. It seems like there are a lot of things I could screw up, but none of these is anything in particular. People seem to learn as they go.