A guitar

I have not bought a guitar since 2003, and not a new one since, oh, 1993. This summer I decided to change that, and bought a brand new 2018 Gibson J-15.

It is the most inexpensive acoustic Gibson makes, which in layman’s terms means ‘not very bloody cheap’ because like all Gibsons, it is USA-made and gorgeous. I got it at a very steep discount online that felt almost criminal. Its main competition was a gently used 2013 Gibson Songwriter, which was a very nice guitar in its own right, but it didn’t scream BUY ME in my ear as the right guitar tends to do.

I tried a lot of Martins and Taylors. The Martin 000-015 was a live wire, but its lack of electronics was a dealbreaker. The Mexican Martins were all duds. Most of the Taylors, even the higher-end ones, were ok, but felt like toys. I found a nicely discounted GS Mini-e, but I could have snapped it in half over my knee.

I used to have a ’77 Gibson Heritage that I bought in Boston in 2001 or so. I sold it at a reasonable profit several years ago and have regretted it since. Now I feel much better. Getting a different guitar usually triggers a long period of increased playing for me, and I have been needing that.

On Facial Hair

The NYT has an amusing article on Bolton’s mustache and the political history of the particular trim level.

I have a full beard and long hair past my shoulders, so I feel qualified to hold forth somewhat on this topic.

I hate shaving. Absolutely hate it. I started in middle school and it remained a painful, tedious process for over twenty-five years. I started with an electric razor, but moved to a blade as I got older. It never got comfortable, and I always cut myself and irritated my face. My neck was typically a series of open wounds. Stubble for me appears in 12 hours or so, so shaving every day was mandatory.

As I got older, I went longer and longer between shaves, and often stopped for a week or more during vacations. If I needed to go on a job interview, I would shave close, but typically went 3 days in between. Stubble became acceptable.

Then, around the time H was pregnant with L – when I was 39 or so – I grew a full beard during a vacation and simply neglected to shave it off. I had tried a beard in college once, but it itched so bad I gave up after a month. This time I persisted, and it paid off. After that first month, the itching stopped, and it was a revelation.

It helps, of course, that I have an occupation – professor – that has no special expectation on facial hair, or head hair, for that matter. Most men in my department maintain some facial hair (typically with some gray) like the chin beards that are fashionable lately, or advanced stubble, but I have the only full one.

So I come to the question – what does it mean to have facial hair or not? Well, for me, my long hair signifies – to me – that I’m not a suit. The beard is simply further evidence of this. Frankly, if you think about it, if a man has the genetics to grow facial hair, why fight it? Social expectations? Trends come and go. I wish I had not listened to every conforming male for decades that told me to trim that stubble.

Now I’m comfortable with my face. It expresses some of my personality. H says I look ‘blank’ without at least some facial hair, so there is that to consider as well. I have also noticed that people tend to take me more seriously now, even at work. I think it is more the gray than the beard, but I don’t think it hurts.

Ultimately, though, it is a personal decision. I couldn’t care less about fashion. Beards are a little more ‘in’ now, but so what?

If you are judging a person on appearance you are literally and figuratively engaging them at the shallowest level possible. Rather, examine if they are fair and compassionate. Little else matters, and I say that as an academic. Intelligence is common and easily bent to evil, and looks always deceive. A sense of justice and a care for decency, though, are rare and hard to replace.

So, moral: grow your hair any way you want that pleases you.

New name?

For now I have placed the ‘rhetoricalcritic’ and ‘badrhetoric’ domains so they both point to the blog. But this kind of avoids the issue – namely, should I change the name of the blog?

‘badrhetoric’ was kind of a lowest common denominator choice back in the day (2006) but now I am slightly less snarky, and I have carved out a small niche where I publish. I am tempted to just make the big switch in total. Any thoughts?

Goodbye to Facebook

You may be here because I pulled the plug on FB today. My reasons are simple.

One, after blocking all the Trump supporters and other assorted idiots from my feed, there was nothing left but pictures of dogs and cowering Democrats waiting on Mueller to save them. It was monotonous and depressing.

Two, I had seen too many targeted ads.

Three, I don’t like data mining. At all. I have serious ethical problems with it.

Most repair work done – further thoughts

I have restored most of the past content after the hack. I have also done a few more things under the hood, such as turning comments back on again. I feel a lot more talkative than I did last year, so I think I’ll be posting far more often! Registering is still required to keep spam at bay.

My About page is still missing, as are some minor associated pages. I will fix this in the comng days.

So, updates.

My son L is almost three. He’s great. Another, M, is on the way, due in May. So that is all wonderful. H is still very sick, but hanging in there.

In a post from last July I expressed a lot of depression about my career. Most of that problem is addressed, and I feel much better about the status of my research agenda now. It really helps to switch between projects when one stalls out.

Trump remains odious. If he fires Mueller, I wonder if the university would frown upon me joining a march on Washington. That would seem the only appropriate response.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a beautiful game. If you don’t have a PS4, it is worth the whole console for just that one game.

I have starting reading Greek again, this time boning up on Attic to prep for what should be a strong article. It is like visiting an old friend one hasn’t seen in awhile.

Some of my graduate students are starting to produce some impressive work that is headed toward publication. That has me excited and engaged.

I have some medical problems that are drastically improved after a long period of reduced productivity. Mostly fatigue and blood sugar stuff. As it turns out, if you get regular sleep and don’t eat tons of sugar, those problems largely resolve! It is incredible how dense I am.

That is all for now.

So

I decided to try something new in the last few days. Well, something old, actually.

Remember me mentioning that I wrote a novel two summers ago? Well, I didn’t get much interest from agents back then, but I didn’t exactly do a great or comprehensive job of marketing. I pretty much suck at selling myself. Work and life get in the way quickly, and I’d nearly forgotten about it until a few days ago when I realized I have a little time to try and pitch it again.

This time the book is a little different thanks to a bit of editing, and I queried to many more agents that I didn’t even know existed. Time will tell if it piques any interest. I’m ok with it if it doesn’t; I have a career already. But it would be nice to have two!

I don’t think this summer is going to be fruitful for writing. It really needs to be devoted to vacation and stress-relieving. But it’s strange how the writing bug strikes me.

Luke continues to be awesome.

Fall

I love the fall. Houston is ridiculously hot most of the year, and the temperature change never comes to early.

L is six months old now. He is not really crawling yet – he flips over and turns 360, though -  but we’re not in a hurry for him to grow up. He is a general delight as he is.

The new house is a mess of boxes and stuff that we really don’t need but have, and with work and L to manage, it’s getting sorted very slowly. I have big plans for the garage that will probably take years to come to fruition. That’s ok.

In other news, I have gotten funding to attend RSA and CCCC next year. I have a major project to pitch to whomever will listen.

I’m also trying to decide between a PS4 and a new PC.  Can’t afford both, but one may be possible. There are a lot of good games that have come out, or will soon, that my four-year-old PC can’t handle.

 

Checking in

I haven’t written much here lately. I’ve been busy, what with L now four months old and  H and I having returned to work.

We are in the process of buying a house for the first time. Like with the baby, this is occurring a little later in life for us than most folks, but it’s happening. We’re moving back to an area of Houston that we’ve lived in before, fairly far out – we’ve more or less given up on living closer in. Fortunately, we can afford a bigger house that way.

So three of my four goals for the year – baby, tenure, house, new car – are checked off. The car will have to wait a while longer, perhaps several years, while we get adjusted to home ownership.

I am running into some difficulty publishing my latest article. It may be too unabashedly argumentative in its current form to be palatable. We’ll see.