Tuesday, June 27, 2006


As part of our slowly progressing redecorating project, we framed two posters that I received for my birthday and hung them in our dining room last week. If you couldn't tell, the frames cost about ten times what the posters did.

If we'd had them custom-framed at a regular frame shop, they probably would have made an even bigger dent in our wallet. Instead we went to The Great Frame Up, where I had a gift certificate. At stores like these, you can frame your own art. Baker remembers clamping down, gluing, and nailing strips of wood himself as a wee young boy at this place, but now building a frame here "yourself" means cleaning the glass and shooting little metal points into the pre-constructed frame so the posterboard doesn't fall out the back. It's hardly a do-it-yourself process.

And even though it's not super cheap, the results are pretty impressive. It's amazing how much hanging framed art can do for a pair of bland white walls.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Yes, that's right. I'm taking German. (For those of you not familiar with the language, this post's title means "German lessons.") Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to roam the streets of Munich or Berlin making friendly conversation with my fellow street-roamers any time soon; the course I'm taking is called "German for reading purposes."

And it's going to kick my butt big time. By Thursday, I've got to teach myself the first 6 chapters of our textbook, do a translation, and prepare for a quiz. So much for summer vacation.

Viel Erflog to me...

p.s. The first cool thing I've learned about the German language is that all the nouns are capitalized. I think I like that. It changes the significance of name and identity. If an apple becomes an Apple, does it become equal to a John or a Mary? Something to think about.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I guess there's no more denying it: summer is here. Yesterday the mercury climbed up to near 90 degrees and today it's supposed to soar past that. Chicago forecaster Tom Skilling even predicts that today will be "2006's hottest day to date." Bizarrely, that sounds kind of crude, doesn't it? As if I were talking about a top-notch Trixie (see second definition) instead of an early summer scorcher.

In any case, it's 74 already here at 7 a.m., but the light is beautiful. We're coming up on the longest day of the year, which is easy to lose track of (but shouldn't be for me, since it's also my brother's birthday.) It's at this point that I come full circle from where I usally am 6 months from now, when I'm cursing the fact that it's pitch black at 4 p.m. : do we really need so much light? I like a 7 p.m. sunset just as much as the next guy, but beyond that, my circadian rhythm is ready for some darkness. Plus, more daylight hours just means more hours of burning hot sun searing in the sky.

Anyway, I was inspired to take these shots before the heat became oppressive. At least the flowers seem to get a kick out of the strong sun and the even stronger humidity.

Happy sweating...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This American Television Show

Last night, I had the opportunity to view the pilot of the new This American Life TV show. Because I'm friendly with a few high-level WBEZ donors, I got invited to the show's first public screening. Before and afterward, Ira Glass, the host, asked and answered questions, told stories about filming and generally rambled on about the whole process of making a TV show out of a radio program. It was fascinating, actually. I didn't discover This American Life until a few years ago and I'm hardly a die-hard weekly listener, but I'm always captivated when I stumble across it on Friday evenings. It's just such a good idea for a radio show, and there really seems no end to the compelling stories out there that are dying to be told.

I recommend checking out the Staff Favorites at the website. You can download whole shows and listen for free. And if you're lucky enough to get Showtime, you'll eventually be able to watch the TV version of the show. I'm not sure if it's a little better or not quite as good as the radio version. Obviously things are gained and lost when you move from one format to the other....

In any case, if you haven't stumbled across TAL yet, I suggest you give it a try. Listening to the show never fails to brighten up the day of this literature student, who often forgets that most everyone is in some way still moved by a great story.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Life has not been particularly easy for me or the people I love over the past few weeks. But despite all the things there are to be sad about or to worry incessantly about, I still find myself doing things like noticing beautiful flowers and laughing. I guess it is possible do those things even when you don't think you'll be able to. I guess that's a good thing (as Martha might say.)

Unfortunately, as has been the case since maybe sometime back in high school, I find myself underwhelmed with excitement for the coming summer. Sure I'm looking forward to warm days, but most of them will probably be uncomfortably hot. And I really do tend to miss the absence of routine that the summer seems to entail. Of course I've done my best to cobble together some kind of regular class and work schedule, but it's loose and ambiguous at best.

I'm going to be taking German of all things and working for 3 weeks in August from 6 to 9 p.m. This is bizarre and troubles me because I like French and I like working in the morning. But this is what I've been given, so this is what I'll do.

I hope to do other things this summer as well, which are only possible when the routine is less structured. I want to cook more, buy potted herbs which I will attempt to keep alive on the back patio, run a few road races (provided my knee holds up), read books for no academic benefit whatsoever, and redecorate a little.

I'm not sure how long the trials will last, what will happen next, how I will feel. But I think I will emerge stronger; in fact I think I already have. I'm no Superman, but I'm definitely tougher than I thought I was. I hope I can continue to surprise myself.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Who doesn't love a wedding?

I'm a complete posting delinquent. I apologize. But there's a lot going on right now in my life. Papers. Tests. Weddings (see above.)

I will return with renewed vigor in a few weeks. I hope.