The story behind the name:

One evening, at the Old Broadway Grill in Fargo, North Dakota, my brother caught the end of a Mountain Dew commercial. In the commercial, a Mountain Dew drinker was riding a shark in the ocean. My brother exclaimed in surprise, not realizing that it was a commercial. When I told him he declared "All I saw was a guy coming out of the shower with a shark." Of course, he meant water, but the idea of showering with sharks has been with me ever since.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Ride Home

Wednesday night Mark was in a pretty good mood when he picked me up for the drive home. He starts off by declaring happily that we are going to drive home with the fuel light on... again.

We merge onto I94 and were dealing with lighter-than-usual traffic. We chat about our day. Then, in a lull in the conversation, Mark suddenly breaks into song. He sings a few notes, no words. Then stops. While make a hand gesture to indicate the reading of Marquee sign he says,

"It could be the theme song from 'Mark: The Musical!'"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Happenin' Place

During lunch today in the cafeteria there was a cooking demonstration. There was a cooking station shaped like a U set up in front of a black curtain and there was a big video camera pointed at it. The demonstration didn't begin until about half-way through our lunch. To fully understand the situation, I need to give the cast of characters:

1. Deb - our department chair, been at Augsburg many many years, highly involved in the film program
2. David - on the comm faculty, also been at Augsburg many many years, teaches many many classes
3. Wes - the "film guy," knows lots about film and television production
4. Charlie - from computer science, occasionally puts up with us at lunch
5. Me

So, we're all sitting around the table finishing lunch when the demonstration begins. For a few moments there is some conversation about what is happening an why.

Finally, a little disgusted, Deb says, "You can't go anywhere on this campus where something isn't happening."

David says, "You could come to my classes."

We start laughing.

David says, "Ba Dum Bum." (the drum beats for a bad joke)



It all started Saturday night. Harper did not sleep well. She kept waking up and we couldn't really figure out why she was so unhappy. The unhappiness continued on Sunday. It was a preview of things to come (I, too, was unhappy by the time the Vikings/Saints game concluded that night). We thought that perhaps she was teething. She wasn't interested in her bottle, she was rubbing her face and ears, she wasn't napping well, and, of course, general fussiness. Harper didn't sleep well Sunday night either. She was up every two hours, which means, of course, that I was up every two hours. I was starting to feel a little paranoid. She had a bit of a temperature when we changed her diaper at o-dark-thirty and it was reminiscent of her Christmas ear infection. As we were getting back into bed, I said to Mark:

"I'm thinking about staying home with her tomorrow. I could take her to the walk-in clinic. They could check if it was an ear infection."

Mark replied, "Let's wait until morning and see."

In the morning Harper was still pretty unhappy. I decided to stay home from work. I emailed instructions to my workstudy. I fed Harper and got her dressed. We left for the clinic. Harper fell asleep on the way there, which was just a sign of how poorly she had slept the night before.

Fortunately, the clinic was practically empty. I had just un-buntinged (a word I made up just now to refer to taking Harper's bunting off) Harper when we were called back. The doctor looked in her ears and didn't see any sign of infection. He thought she was teething. Relieved, Harper and I went to the pharmacy to pick up some baby motrin and we were on our way home.

I should have know that it's never that easy.

Monday night, Harper didn't sleep well again. And she still wasn't drinking her bottle very well. We took her to daycare on Tuesday with the motrin and instructions on dosage. I was (and still am) of the belief that she is teething. When I went to pick up Harper from daycare she had JUST fallen asleep for her second nap of the day. I had to wake her up to bunt her (no, not hit her with a bat, put her in her bunting). She was M A D. And she cried. Sigh. Got her home. Fed her. We were getting her ready for her bath when she got really made. She was laying on her changing table and crying and the tears coming out of her right eye were PINK! I freaked and called the ask-a-nurse. I explained what had been going on with Harper and also mentioned that she seemed to be a little gooey in the right eye, along with the pink tears. After several phone calls and information relays between the nurse and the on-call physician, I was told that it might be pink eye and that I could go to the pharmacy to pick up some medicated eye drops.

I left the house at 7:30 p.m. and went to Walgreens. I returned home with the medicine at 8:30. Harper was asleep (hallelujah). I was really hoping for a good night's sleep. But I didn't get it (even though I went to bed at 9:15). I had to re-nuk Harper at 11 p.m. She had flung away her nuk and needed it back. At 1:15 we gave her a bottle and more motrin. She woke up fussing a few more times after that. Even though I didn't get up, she still woke me up.

So, now I am a zombie. Next month I am going to visit my friend Angela in Iowa for a weekend. It will be the first time I've been away from Harper over night. This morning while I was getting ready, all I could do was think about how awesome it was going to be to be able to sleep for an entire night without interruption. I can't wait.

In the meantime, I guess we'll continue to deal with Harper's teething/cold/pink eye? I already have my teeth, but the other two are contagious... maybe she'll be much better by the time we pick her up from daycare today?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hug A What?

So, I'm in my office, being all kinds of productive (drinking Diet Pepsi while watching last night's Colbert Report on when I click over to Augsburg's webpage so I can access my Moodle account. I glance over to the calendar bar on the right side of the page and I see the following:


National Squirrel Appreciation Day

Hug a squirrel today :)

Wow. I had no idea. Intrigued, I decided to (reluctantly) put off some speech grading to find out more about this fascinating and important holiday. At I learned that Squirrel Appreciation Day always falls on January 21. In addition, the website helpfully gave the following information:

"Squirrel Appreciation Day is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your tree climbing, nut gathering neighborhood squirrels. It's held in mid-winter when food sources are scarce for squirrels and other wildlife. Sure, squirrels spent all fall gathering and "squirreling " away food. But, their supplies may not be enough. And, the variety of food is limited. So, give them an extra special treat today to supplement their winter diets.

Not everyone likes squirrels. While they are fun to watch skirting around the yard and trees, they are aggressive at bird feeders. Squirrels tip almost any bird feeder and spill the seeds in search of the particular seeds they want. In the fall, they attack pumpkins on front porches in search of the seeds inside. For gardeners they dig up and steal flower bulbs, and may eat some of the veggies in your garden.

When you think about it, mid winter is the best time to appreciate squirrels. In the winter they provide a little entertainment. During other times of the year, you may look at them as a pest in the flower and vegetable gardens.

According to Christy Hargrove, the founder, 'Celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group -- anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.'"

This has given me a whole new perspective on these bushy-tailed and beady-eyed bundles of scary yellow teeth. Nevermind that a gray squirrel jumped out of a garbage can and almost killed David Lapakko yesterday as we were walking to lunch. I can now see that these little, misunderstood scavengers are really... wait, what does holiday insights say... oh yes, tree-climbing, nut-gathering neighborhood scavengers, err, squirrels. Except that I actually used correct punctuation when writing the compound adjectives, hence the lack of quotation marks. Actually, the holiday insights information doesn't really even say anything nice about squirrels. In fact, the post isn't complimentary in the least. Underneath the post there are two links to more "squirrely" fact. There is a link to a wildlife rehabilitation site apparently maintained by Christy Hargrove, the found of this glorious holiday, and link on how to control squirrels in your garden.

Now, despite a few run-ins with squirrels as they pop scarily out of campus garbage cans and an incident where Mark had an altercation with a squirrel in Loring Park (the squirrel came up to his bicycle as he stopped to take photographs and actually PUSHED his bike tire. He has pictures of the squirrel. You can really see the insanity in its eyes) I actually think squirrels are pretty cute. I think I'll take the advice of the Augsburg Calendar post and go out to hug a squirrel right now. Then, I will probably go get a tetanus shot.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I'm tired today... tired this week. Maybe I'm tired of winter, maybe I need a little sunshine. I'm not sure. I'm feeling a little like I'm getting buried. For me, this is unfortunate. The more buried I feel, the less inclined I feel to dig myself out. Part of my problem is that I've been feeling a low-grade sense of yuck for about a week now. I'm not sick... at least, I don't think I am... I just don't feel completely normal. When I feel like this, I have more of a tendency to want to read trashy novels on my couch. Reading trashy novels on the couch rarely solves anything (notice I said rarely, sometimes a couch and trashy novel is all one really needs).

Maybe I need a list. I like listing. Lists make me feel productive, especially when I get to check something off of them. So, what are things I am trying to accomplish right now? Where am I? I need to:
Grade some stuff
Write some stuff (oh, the now ever-present pressure of academia)
Lose some weight
Run some more
Eat less of some stuff
Eat more of other stuff
Spend less money
Save more money
Spend more time with Harper
Cook more at home
Eat out less
Cook better food
Cook for Harper
Buy some Midol
Take some Midol
Have more energy
Get more sleep
Have more me time
Have more couple time

Nope... That list didn't help at all...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mediated Communication

So, I am stealing this topic a little bit from Ali, but it's a good topic and there is lots to be said about it.

A little bit ago, Ali came in all a-breathin' fire, talking about how frustrating it is that some people are so down on computer-mediated communication (CMC). CMC is something that I frequently discuss in class. I vividly remember the first time I brought it up with a group of students here at Augsburg. I asked the class how many of them email and what they think about it. I was floored when half the class said that they hate email and CMC in general. I really couldn't figure that out. I LOVE CMC. CMC makes my life so much easier. I love my cell phone, my IM software, and texting. Don't mistake me, I also realize that CMC is having some detrimental effects on our overall ability to communication. For example, this morning on NPR I heard a story about a new study that found that college students that frequently text message do worse on formal writing assignments but better on informal writing assignments. I have seen evidence of this many times in student papers. However, after having many discussing about CMC, and having spent much time pondering the problem, I have come to the following conclusion:

CMC isn't stupid, people are.

Ok. That's not EXACTLY what I mean... people are lazy...allow me to elaborate... I am a frequent user of CMC. I also have good writing skills. While I do allow myself the occasional lazy use of abbreviations or accidentally-incorrect grammar, for the most part I am very diligent about making sure that my text messages and IMs have correct spelling and punctuation. Yes, it is a small point of pride that even my brief CM messages are well-written. More than pride, however, is the influence of habit. I practice and have practiced good writing habits my entire life. When I make a typo or grammatical error, my finger automatically flies to the delete button, fixing the problem before I am even conscious that I made it in the first place.

To sum up, CMC is a tool, not an excuse. Any thinking person has the ability to tailor their communication to suit the situation. Be mindful, pay attention to the context of that communication. Don't email your professor or boss in the language of the LOL Cats (or, as one of my students called it last week, "That kitten speech." If you don't know what this is, check out While those funny sayings over pictures of cute kitties are hilarious, they aren't exactly professional. Use common sense. If you have friended your boss on Facebook, remember not to post comments about how much you hate your job. Yes, it's convenient to blame CMC for many of societies woes, just as Plato wanted to blame rhetoric for badness in ancient Greece. However, I'm with Aristotle on this one: CMC (like rhetoric) is a tool. That tool can be used for good or evil. Now, I have to go take all my drunken party pics off my profile.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Diet Pepsi

I love Diet Pepsi. I blame my BFF Ang for this love. Anyway, this morning, I stepped out to our front desk to chat with my friend and work study, Ali Rapp. I noticed there was this sad, lonely, forelorn Diet Pepsi just sitting there.

"People shouldn't just leave Diet Pepsis around like that," I said, tempted to grab it and run.

"I think it's Eric's," said Ali.

I stared at it for a bit. "I want to take it," I said. "If it's still there when I come back from my next class I am stealing it."

"No, you are not," said Ali. "It's not yours." Ali is my external conscience. She is often more strict than my internal conscience, much to my dismay.

I huffed. Sometimes, I am very child-like. No, wait. Not child-like... childish.

I went into my office and emailed Ang about this sad, lonely Diet Pepsi. Ang emailed me back in short-order.

And I quote: "Take it. For the love of mankind... TAKE IT!!!"

About this time, Mark showed up in my office. He had to run an errand over on my side of campus (yes, half of the campus is, technically, mine). He got here just in time to hear me start laughing at Ang's response. THEN, Ang sent me a picture of her urging me to take the Diet Pepsi. The panic in her eyes was obvious and compelling. I laughed even more.

Mark shook his head in sort-of-sad amazement. His face was funny, so I opened up my photobooth and took a picture of us: me laughing, him looking ashamed and mystified by my amusement. I sent the picture to Ang. Ang responded with a picture of HER drinking a Diet Pepsi. Talk about adding insult to injury. In the email she said that I should make Mark go get me a Diet Pepsi. Alas, by this time Mark was gone. So was the Diet Pepsi. I was alone and soda-less.

Well, time heals all wounds, as it is wont to do. By noon I had forgotten about the Diet Pepsi. I went to lunch off campus. I returned at 1:50. Carly, our other work study, had a wonderful message for me. There was a 12-pack of Diet Pepsi behind the front desk JUST FOR ME!! My wonderful husband had picked up the Diet Pepsi and had dropped it off while I was at lunch. He is probably the best husband, ever.

Ahhhhhh... and this Diet Pepsi is sweet indeed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Value of Dreams

Mark and I are on our way to Hopkins when The Doors' Riders on the Storm came on the radio. Mark says:

"I listened to a lot of Doors when I was in high school."

"Oh yea?" I reply. "Were you a disenchanted youth?"

Mark kinda smiles and shrugs. "I don't know. I guess."

"Well," I say, "You are a disenchanted adult, so I imagine you were a disenchanted youth."

He laughs.

"Yeah," he says after a moment, "Hopes and dreams are for suckers."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not Quite Human

Last night Mark and I were discussing our Christmas presents on the way to a Wild game.

"You know you're going to have to read those books, because Jared is going to ask about them," I said to Mark. My brother got Mark World War Z and Zombie Apocalypse for Christmas. It was the Christmas of the zombie.

"Oh, God," said Mark. "I'll actually have to READ a BOOK." Mark can read books, he just doesn't very often. He was being sarcastic.

Continuing to give him grief, I said, "You know, I can read, like, three books in a day." This is actually true. I can, have, and do occasionally read three books a day.

"That's because you are not quite human," replied Mark.

I laughed. "Oh, really? Was that said with admiration or disgust?"

"There were elements of admiration."

That's my husband. He might not be able to read three books a day, but he is the master of the politically correct statement.