Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ridiculous State

My side yard, 16 April.  Wallah?

I suspect Abu Dhabi received less snow today.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


My students love me - or at least know me.  I found this work of aesthetic brilliance when I walked into my COR 330 Dar al-Islam class today.  The artist is a mystery, although I would suspect a certain gentleman (and I use the term loosely) by the name of Spencer may be responsible (and I especially use that word in its broadest possible context).

It is a good likeness.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trade Winds

Maybe it's just another bitterly cold day in Vermont, or maybe it's reflecting on the more sedentary nature of my life now, but I'm suffering from some serious travel blues at the moment.  I guess one never gets rid of the travel bug when you've been bitten.  Mainly, I keep hearkening back to places like Sana'a and Zanzibar, maybe simply because they are so exotic and thus the opposite of my decidedly non-exotic life.  Also, I just have very fond memories of both places, especially Zanzibar, which was one of the most wonderful experiences of my entire life.  I found myself staring at this mask that I brought back from Stone Town, and which hangs on my wall - and stares accusingly at me.

I actually use this mask in my Aesthetic Expression class and have my students analyze it as compared to an African aesthetic of beauty.  No matter how it's judged, it's one of my favorite souvenirs.

OK, time to get back to work.  Actually, I'm getting some productive writing done lately on my long-delayed epics project.  This morning I actually felt that I had found my voice, which is not an easy thing to develop.  It also seems like the voice is different depending upon whether you're doing scholarly vs. creative writing, and I suspect there are sub-sections of both categories.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nano Cheating

In more whimsical moments I've proposed that while each new technological innovation might have had noble goals, in the end they are always subsumed by the need to provide porn more quickly and elegantly.  This is, sadly, probably true whether you're talking about the printing press or radio or TV or the Internet or smart phones.  Following hard on the heels of porn, however, is the endless ways that technology allows students to cheat.  Here is a classic example, a Nano wristwatch that was confiscated from one of the students at Zayed University when I taught there.  Essentially, it's a class Powerpoint called up on the device.  If only the students devoted as much time and dedication and innovation to studying as they do to trying to find ways to get around studying.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Russian Memories

Just a brief post inspired by my excellent friend Kerry sending along a picture from the time I led a team of Champlain professors to Moscow as part of the now sadly-deceased Global Modules program.  Home visits - and meals - are always the best parts of overseas trips.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yemen Stories

Following up on an earlier post - I've gone ahead and set up a new blog devoted to providing a more balanced view of everyday life in Yemen.  I've called it Yemen Stories and I'm in the process of looking for pictures and related stories from Yemenis or folks who have a lot of experience within the country.  Do I think I can change the world?  Hardly.  Even my ego isn't that big (although, as my friends are wont to point out, my plans never stay small for very long).  Mainly I'm trying to present a more balanced view of a mysterious and sadly demonized country.  Essentially I want to take advantage of the power of story-telling.  One of the things that blew me away about the Museum of Broken Relationships (discussed in an earlier posting under Croatia) was how a simple picture tied to a few explanatory sentences could tell a story and create an entire world (and break your heart).  I'd really like to take a similar approach with this blog.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Red Colobus Monkeys

Just a reflection on the blissful tranquility of Zanzibar on a cold Vermont day.  Here are a few shots of Red Colobus Monkeys, which are native to Zanzibar - and sadly endangered.