California Drowning

Curious what all the fuss is about in California these last two week? And, no, I am not talking about the resistance to Trump–that is alive and well. I’m talking about the damage to the Oroville dam spillway and emergency spillway and the tremendous storms that have hit the state. Here’s a look at California reservoir levels in 2014 and just yesterday.


May 8, 2014


February 18, 2017

Any questions?

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Protest Pup

The Princess Pooch couldn’t make it to the Women’s March, but she wanted to show her support for those who did.



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Cheeto in Chief Haz a Sad

The Cheeto in Chief is not a happy man. He’s pissed that his inauguration, the inauguration of the greatest, most amazing, terrific, huge, smart, and rich man didn’t draw many people.


In case the comparison isn’t enough, let’s look at the parade route:


Unless the Cheeto’s supporters are invisible, those seats are almost empty.

Then today, the crowds for the Women’s March in Washington and sister marches throughout the US and the world were historic. Organizers expected about 200,000 people in D.C. and over 500,000 showed. In Los Angeles, some 80,000 people were expected, and over 750,000 showed. 100,000 showed up in Boston. 250,000 showed up in New York City. It was like this all over the country — around 600 cities in all held Women’s Marches — and all around the world. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it was the biggest show of nationwide solidarity in our nation’s history.


Women’s March on Washington


Women’s March, NYC

And the Cheeto was not pleased. In fact, he was so pissed off that he actually gave a speech in front of a memorial wall for the more than 100 CIA officers who have fallen in the line of duty — a place where politicians are expected to be apolitical — and complained that the media misrepresented the size of his crowd. Hmm, perhaps should again look at the photographs.

But apparently the Cheeto’s ego is so bruised that he had to send his new press secretary,  Sean Spicer to deny reality, attack the press for not denying reality, and make clear that reality has no place in his administration.

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

I was happy to hear Michelle Trudeau’s “When The Brain Scrambles Names, It’s Because You Love Them”on NPR. Her interview with Samantha Deffler, a cognitive scientist at Rollins College, helped alleviate some of my growing anxiety about my ability to remember names.

Although Deffler pointed to her research on how common it is for people to sometimes mix up the names of family and friends, my mix up are more often about orators and rhetorical theorists. While a mom might go through a list of her kids names when addressing a particular child, I sometimes now find myself saying “Cicero, Plato, Isocrates, ah yes, Aristotle” as I reach to find a name.

My students find this amusing; come to think of it, that’s one of the things I like about teaching online: students don’t hear me grasping for a name!

I remember my grandmother running through the list, “Mary Ann, Barbara, Jimmy, Kathy” when she was going to chastise me for something; my mother sometimes did the same.

why-cats-ruleDeffler says “It’s a normal cognitive glitch,” and Trudeau adds that it’s not a matter of bad memory or getting old; instead it’s how the brain categorizes names. “It’s like having special folders for family names and friends names stored in the brain.” So when we land on the wrong name or go through a list to get to the name we need, it is often because those names all belong in the same category.


However, there is one point I think Deffler gets wrong. She says we are much more likely to be called the dog’s name than [we] are to be called the cat’s name.” Phooey! Neil Mulligan, a cognitive scientist at UNC Chapel Hill, concurs suggesting this implies that psychologically, we categorize the dog’s name along with our family member’s names: “And we don’t do that with cats’ names, apparently, or hamsters’ names or other animal names.”

Clearly these scientists and those they study aren’t familiar with the kind of cats I and many of my friends know. Cats who live large and demand it all, right here, right now!

I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have children. They might not feel special as they’d hear “Johnny, Scooter Pie, Bonnie, Monty, Rocky, Reilly, K.C.”

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Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary

Leia Organa, the politician and revolutionary who led the defeat of the Galactic Empire, died after a short illness. She was 60 years old. Hers was a life laced with controversy concerning everythi…

Source: Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary

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Academic Anxiety Dream

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a pre-semester anxiety dream. I hope last night’s return of the genre doesn’t suggest anything about the upcoming semester.

In my dream, I was looking for my class on campus, trying to find the right building, and figure out what room I was supposed to teach in since the printer I used to print my roster seemed unable to print numbers. The more I walked, the more unfamiliar my surroundings seemed to be, and when I was able to spot something I recognized it felt somehow out of place. Eventually it dawned on me that some of the buildings and art work were from other campuses–from my undergraduate days at CSU, Chico and my graduate studies at UConn, and from other campus where I have worked and visited.

I grew more anxious as I walked. I realized I had no idea what I was going to say if/when I found where I was supposed to teach since my syllabus wasn’t ready, and I’d forgotten to turn in my book order, so there was no class text to turn to. As I continued to make my way across campus, I tried to devise some explanation for not having a collegesyllabus or textbook and for being late since I had this feeling of dread about being able to actually find where I was supposed to be for class.

As I came around a building I didn’t recognize, I ran into my BFF Cindy who was also lost. We talked about how odd it was that we were teaching on the same campus–something we’d made elaborate plans about when we were in grad school–that we were both lost, hadn’t prepared a syllabus, and yep, hadn’t ordered a textbook. Interestingly, her printer had also not been able to print numbers on her roster, so we decided to continue searching for our buildings together–two heads are better than one, right?

We walked and walked and walked. Finally my friend looked at her watch and said “Shit, we are so late. Class time is almost over!” We stopped in the middle of what looked like some area of the Desert Botanical Garden, and looked around. “What should we do?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said. We stood there a few minutes, then looked left, then looked right and there was Madison Bear Gardens (Chico, CA). In unison we said “Fuck it, let’s go have a beer,” and headed toward the door. I turned to my friend and said, “you gotta try their burgers. There’s nothing better than a bear burger.” “Do they have vegetarian bear?” she asked. And I awoke.

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