Friday, February 29, 2008

Memoir in Six Words

Land Mammal has challenged her regular readers to come up with a six-word memoir. After several days of gestation and several attempts that I rejected, I came up with the following effort: Once alone, naïve, impulsive, now not.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sleep and Sleeplessness

Many people I know have been talking about their problems sleeping. A niece says she has only been able to sleep for four hours at a time. This basic bodily function is often the most difficult one to obtain at length and to enjoy. It’s no wonder that the advertisements on television late at night are for more comfortable beds or sleep aids. Advertisers are targeting those of us who spend so much of our lives sleep-deprived.

One misconception many of us used to have about sleep is that it cannot be made up once it has been lost. Sleep researchers now have admitted that any sleep debt we incur will continue to accumulate until we find a way to repay what we owe. My sleep debt dates from graduate school—beginning about twenty-two years ago.

Before I started teaching the remainder of my five sections this semester, I was having a recurring dream in which it’s the end of the semester, and I’m late in posting my students’ grades, having failed to make the deadline for submitting my grades online. It seemed as though I was concerned about updating my online classes, even though a couple of weeks remained before the remaining classes got underway. After three or four hours of sleep, during the long weekend in mid-January, I woke up from this dream and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even the attempts to picture myself in a favorite place didn't help to bring on sleep. It got to a point when I couldn’t remain in bed and couldn’t relax enough to rest my head on the pillow. This inability to remain in bed has now occurred often enough that I refer to it as the crazies; usually it happens when I’m forced to sleep away from the house. I ended up sitting in the living room on those nights and reading The Long Emergency while surrounded with our three cats, only getting back to bed after the sun came up.

Going without sleep can be so draining. I can usually get through the day if I am forced to remain awake (with the aid of vitamins, herbs, and caffeine) but finding enthusiasm or interest in anything is extremely difficult. It’s as though I’m one of the zombies that my son and his friends find so fascinating and so frightening.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

My own attempts at photographing the eclipse were not successful. I can make a few recommendations, however. For a time lapse view of the eclipse, click on this link . Notice this picture , too. For other views of previous eclipses, try these links: here and here .

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Living with the Second Amendment

The best analysis I've seen regarding the school shooting last week at Northern Illinois U, and the three additional shootings that occurred in the US last week, appears at the World Socialist Web Site . Something is terribly wrong when four people in one week pick up guns and shoot others. Obama, at least, recognizes that something needs to be done, but he refuses to tamper with the Second Amendment, fearing, apparently, that the gun lobby will organize against him. Having the right to bear arms, I guess, means accepting that crackpots will suddenly kill and injure others, as a means of crying out in pain, before shooting themselves. I don't think the founding fathers had in mind murder and suicide (away from the battlefield) when creating the Second Amendment.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Work to Live

Revising two online classes caused me to neglect this blog for a few weeks. Once again, I am teaching five sections and have already gotten the first assignments to grade in three of these classes. The grading will now be constant until the end of the semester.

All I really want to do is write. I was once naïve enough to think that I could solicit funds from someone by placing an advertisement in the newspaper for a wealthy patron. I had been reading the poems of Sir Philip Sidney, along with other poets of England in the 15th and 16th centuries, and thought that maybe someone with a sizeable amount of disposable income would fund me to produce nothing but poems. No one in Wichita, where I was living at the time, cared enough about the arts to help out a hungry poet. There are, of course, grants available. Someone I once knew had gotten a federal grant of $20,000. per year for a period of two years. That amount of money would help by at least allowing me to reduce my teaching load, but I don’t foresee a time when I will get that kind of money for my writing.