The AAR for PPL 2016

rockymtnnpOr, After Action Review for Parks as Portals to Learning–just a little taste of the ways in which military culture informs the history and present operations of the National Park Service.

My week up in Rocky, or ROMO (=ROcky MOuntain), another acronym used by Parkies, was a rich learning experience.  As a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Eastern historian my expertise was fairly irrelevant, but I took the opportunity to learn about how the NPS works.  Besides keeping up with all of the military- and government-style acronyms (EIS, NEPA, EA , ETC) for the laws and procedures that structure the park’s conservation work, faculty from Colorado State and UC Santa Barbara helped CSU students think through the ways that environmental history informs and can assist natural resource preservation as well as the interpretation and visitor experience of the park. Continue reading

No, I’m quite sure you have the wrong number: technology and boundaries

Pull up a chair and have a cuppa joe with me, willya?

Pull up a chair and have a cuppa joe with me, willya?

I’ve been up since the wee hours thinking about both communication and technology in our modern world, and how and in what contexts we encounter strangers.  I seem to get more calls from people who have the wrong number than I get from people who want to reach me, specifically.  It’s getting exhausting, especially this morning as I’ll explain below.

One of the first, and most terrifying, text messages I ever got was more than a decade ago when I first got a mobile phone. It was just a photograph–but some kind of awful bondage porn! (Thank goodness it was just a flip phone with a 1.5 square inch screen, so I couldn’t see all the details. Bleh!)

When I’d get friendly, innocuous texts from people clearly trying to make plans with a friend, I used to text them back and let them know that they had the wrong number.  Weirdly, some would try to argue with me:  “It’s Chelsea!!!”  Sorry, but I’m not expecting any visitors–I’m a college professor with a family.  But eventually the wrong numbers got so numerous I stopped arguing.

lotus

NOT my car.

Recently, I’ve been getting even more and crazier text messages: “Hey, it’s Rick! Sorry for the late notice, but are you free for poker tonight?” Or “Is the 2005 yellow Lotus still available?” (After a few of these, I figured out that this is a car. I got a lot of voicemails about the yellow Lotus, too. I am the last person in the world ever to buy or drive a yellow Lotus!  Lord.) I used to get long text messages that alluded to recent family illnesses and sadness–he seemed to be making care arrangements for someone.  I think these were from a man whose daughter we knew when she was in preschool. I finally texted him (anonymously) and suggested that he probably had the wrong number.

Early this morning, the wrong numbers took a turn from the virtual into real life.  I was awakened about 3:30 a.m. by the distinctive sound of someone trying to open my locked front door.  This is a sound I’m very familiar with–my kid never remembers to take her key with her, and because I spent the 1990s living in big cities, I am a habitual door-locker even in the daytime, even in the green country town in which we live.  It’s one thing to hear that sound in daylight while I’m working away in the office next to the front door, which is usually followed rapidly with pounding on the door and a “Mom, let me in!”  It’s quite another to hear that sound in the dead of night. Continue reading

Who do faculty “work for?”

cantevenUPDATED BELOW, Sunday afternoon.

Who do college and university faculty work for? Do we work for our students? Do we work for the administrators at our institutions? If we work at public universities, do we work for the taxpayers of our states? Do we work for our colleagues? Who has a right to demand work from us?

The reason I’m asking is that last week ended for me in a faculty meeting yesterday afternoon that was billed as “important” by our department chair, because we were going to learn all about some new software that would “make it easy” to generate our CVs and our annual reports.  (I bet some of you know where this is going.) Continue reading

Your weekend Public Service Announcement: Colorado has snow, bears.

Y'all come back now when the airport reopens!

Y’all come back now when the airport reopens!

Why, Denver Post, why do you bother with these “news” stories?

Hungry bears emerging from hibernation.
It is snowing in Colorado.

More later today, because apparently drizzle and snow have shut down Denver International Airport and much of this entire state, so what else can I do but stay at home, put a pot of soup on, and get my blog on? Continue reading

The high price of moral principles: why you will not see me at The Huffington Post

Up on my hobbyhorse again!

Up on my hobbyhorse again!

UPDATED ALREADY!  See what happened below.

I was contacted by an editor at The Huffington Post this week about re-publishing the blog post I published after last week’s primary elections, “A revolution happened last night and no one noticed,” in which I commented on the ignoring or merely grudging acknowledgement of Hillary Clinton’s pathbreaking, historic achievements by journalists and commentators covering the 2016 election.  No woman of either major American political party has ever led in the primary delegate race or been selected as its running mate, and she’s totally owning states that overwhelmingly voted for her opponent in 2008, Barack Obama.  Considering the awesome weight of history against which Clinton is working, you’d think this would be the political story of the year–but no, it’s all Donald Drumpf, all the time, with his ground-baloney complexion and his Cheez-Wiz coiffure.

My regular readers probably don’t realize this, but that post brought this blog record traffic late last week and over the weekend, when someone posted it to some Facebook page somewhere.  (It was surprisingly popular in Great Britain Saturday morning Mountain time, for some reason–my peak traffic was at 3 a.m.!)  So far, it’s had nearly 38,000 page views, which is pretty huge for a blog that these days is lucky to get 1,000 clicks from 700-850 visitors a day.  Saturday, March 18 was my highest-traffic day ever in eight years, with 17,603 page views and 16,465 unique visitors. Continue reading

Report from Precinct 114 in Weld County, Colorado

Me & my neighbors in Potterville tonight

Me & my neighbors in Potterville tonight

I’m just back from the caucus. It’s nice to see my friends and neighbors, but seriously: we vote by mail in this state. Why the FRICK are we stuck with this deeply undemocratic caucus which most people can’t or don’t know how to get to? I say secret ballots in primary elections serve democracy better.

THAT SAID, I arrived at the caucus at 6:40 to check in and find my precinct. After nearly an hour of standing around, waiting for stuff to happen, listening to the caucus Chair reading letters from a few Democratic candidates for down-ballot positions, and a short speech from my representative in the General Assembly, Dave Young, we got down to business. Continue reading

Teaching the sixties: what do you think?

ValleyoftheDollsposterMy colleague and co-conspiritor in teaching History of Sexuality in America over the past several years, Ruth Alexander, has suggested that we develop and co-teach another course on the 1960s. She has correctly deduced my excitement over the multi-media primary sources that modern historians can use–primarily video and audio clips that are available widely on the internet, as well as material culture and clothing that we find at Goodwill and garage sales! Wow!

When we had Carrie Pitzulo, author of Batchelors and Bunnies:  The Sexual Politics of Playboy as a special guest in our class last term to talk about her article on Hugh Hefner’s and Playboy‘s engagement with feminism, I couldn’t believe that there was an entire episode of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line on YouTube, starring Hefner and engaging his ideas about the sexual revolution and feminism!  Amazing.  It’s also fascinating as a style of TV production that never happens now, even on PBS.  Buckley draws Hefner out on “the Playboy philosophy” and where it fits in American intellectual history.

The sad truth about teaching the early modern period is that the video is totally inferior. Continue reading