Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Busy Summer

It seems that life for a professor should slow down a little in the summer. This should be especially true for a professor who decides not to participate in the Summer Rep production this summer: Annie. You'd think! Well, somehow I've found myself on the search committee for a new theater professor, on the Take It To Town steering committee, a participant in the church's Lunch Bunch program at the housing project, on the planning committee for next fall's faculty retreat, on Blackburn's PR Advisory Committee, still involved in Summer Rep as Treasurer, and chief contract writer and budget master for Annie, The Boardinghouse (geriatric), Bully (David Sollish's farewll one-man show about TR), and an auditionee for this year's Nutcracker. Oh, yeah, and rewriting Pastor Charlotte Poetschner's contract at church, and updating the church by-laws. And that's not counting my work as an actual professor. I'm switching to a new text book for General Chemistry next year using the 'atoms first' approach, so I need to do some reading and rewriting. I'd also like to inventory and reorganize the stockrooms. I've also read some interesting books and watched a couple of good TV shows. But more about that later.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interesting Picture

I've been sorting hundreds of old and not-so-old photos from my parents house. I came across this one, which may be of interest to Dan and Sarah, especially. It's taken on the campus of Kalamazoo College, where my parents had met and married.

From left to right that's my brother Rick, my mother, and me. Behind us is Hoban Hall. Interestingly, I would grow up to attend Kalamazoo College, too, and I would live in Hoban Hall. I would meet my wife-to-be Lynn there. Furthermore my son Dan and his now-wife Sarah would visit Kalamazoo in early 2011, and he would take a picture of Hoban Hall from almost the exact same spot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

More Cicada News

I decided to mow the yards this morning before it got TOO hot (only in the upper 80's as opposed to the upper 90's due this afternoon). Ap the cicadas swarm in the morning, frantically looking for places to light and sing for a mate. So as I'm mowing over the mounds of rotting carcasses around the bases of the trees, the live ones are flying all around me, landing on my shirt, my bare legs, my neck, my forehead, my glasses (!) and my hair. When I knock them off, they fly away squealing like little pigs. So Dan, the joy of cicadas is actually tetra-sensory: sight/sound/smell/FEEL.

In fact I have heard that they are quite tasty as well, consisting of wholesome, high-quality protein and fat. I haven't eaten any myself, but I have heard and read that birds, fish and dogs and a few humans eat them readily. I haven't seen Jack eat any, nor have I seen evidence of it, so to speak.

Here's a nice link if you want to learn about the 13- vs 17-year cicadas and when and where each kind emerges.

It seems our Chicago friends aren't due for a great emergence of 17-year cicadas until 2024.

And finally, here's another clip which may give you an idea of the 6-second period they seem to use in their calling in the heat of the afternoon. (I believe there are actually two calls: the obvious high pitched ululations heard in the clip, and another steady, police-siren-like wail I've heard in some neighborhoods in town.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon" and LOST

I picked up a copy of Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon" at Leave it to Beaver and started reading it out of curiosity. Wow! It is really good! It gives an insight into life in the urban black community in the 30's through 60's. It has fascinating complex characters and a hint of fantasy as well. Imagine my surprise when I read the account of young Macon and his sister Pilate being led by their dead father to a cave where they found interesting and useful things! For you non-Losties, that's almost exactly what happened to Jack. I've done some looking, and I can't find any mention of Song of Solomon being a source reference for Lost. Perhaps nobody made the connection except me!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cicadas Redux

Here is a clip of cicadas on the telephone pole. (Sorry about the horizontal nature of the pole.) Turn the sound up and you can hear them singing in the tree in the front yard - along with some wind rumbles.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Plague of Locusts/Plague of Hail

Good old Carlinville has been visited with the 17-year cicadas. Dan and Sarah were here the day they emerged. Since then thousands of them have taken up residence all over the tree trunks, sign posts, tall weeds, even doorposts. There are neat little holes all over the ground from which they made their way into the world. They just started singing today, but they'll get much louder through the next month or so as they seek suitable cicadas of the opposite sex. I tried to take some close-ups, because they really are striking insects (when not squished on the driveway in the hundreds). But I couldn't get close enough and also focus. Here's an attempt.

I would have taken a picture of the stop-sign at the corner, covered with cicadas, but before I could, the hail knocked them all off. Yes, we have been hailed upon twice in the last week. Today we were driving home from Litchfield on the service road, when the car was pinged by a loud crack, like a rock hitting the window. Soon they were hitting us so hard and fast, we couldn't hear each other talk. It felt like we were driving on a gravel road. In addition to the hail, it was pouring rain. The visibility was so bad, we finally had to stop and pull over. The ground looked like it was covered with snow. I truly thought the hail would break a window. As it was, the silver car is now covered with cute little dimples. Here are some pictures.

It looks like snow by the side of the road. It's hailstones.

Taken beside the car just after the storm started.

These were taken after we got home, in the front yard. I don't know how long they'd been sitting in the grass, melting.

And just for fun, here's a creepy video of a flower pot full of cicadas before they molted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jack's garden

Whenever we work in the garden, Jack feels he has to do some digging too:

The Heart of the Island: