Friday, July 28, 2006


Last night, about an hour after dinner, I started feeling itchy and noticed a few bumps on my arms. I figured I had been bitten a few times by a bug. By the time evening session was over, the bumps were expanding and spreading.

By then I figured out that I was having some sort of allergic reaction. But to what? I guessed it was something I'd eaten at the dining hall, but I hadn't eaten anything different from what I normally ate, other than one particular sauce on some tofu and vegetables.

Did some reading on the Internet and realized I probably had hives. Wasn't much I could do by now, it was 11 pm. So after I finished writing up the student rubrics at 2 am, I went to bed.

I woke up at 5 am this morning scratching at my own throat. In the men's room I looked in the mirror and found myself covered in a bright red bumpy rash from neck to knees. My skin felt like it was on fire. I took the picture above.

I wandered around outside in the pleasantly cool air until 8 am when the health center opened. The nurse was concerned. So was I.

She gave me some Benadryl and told me if I wasn't better by 3 I should go to the clinic. Well, looks like the Benadryl did the trick. My hives are all but gone, though my skin is still pretty sensitive. And I feel like I'm half asleep, though how much of that is the Benadryl and how much is the 3 hours of sleep I got is unclear.

Today was also the last day of class for the students. I met with each of them for a few minutes to cover their rubrics and final exams. A good bunch.

It's also about 100 degrees outside, so tonight I will probably stay holed up in one of the air-conditioned commons rooms and get some work done. Lots going on at the office and of course, I'm right back in it come Monday.

Quite an experience being here. Pleased with the students and their performance. A good term, if not life-changing. I'm ready to go home, though.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Order and Disorder

A good day in class! Started off what was known as "Mopey Monday" in truly mopey fashion by giving the students a very hard pop quiz. Some were quite upset. I haven't had time to read them yet.

We did "Jumping Dance" to get into a more learning-friendly mental state and then started talking about Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern - the serialist/12-tone composers. This is typically one of the best days for me - seeing the students "get" what 12-tone is about and how much fun it can be to compose is incredibly satisfying. Also, once the students start composing, the whole class takes on a different tone. Today did not disappoint!

We also discussed John Cage, his silence piece, and prepared piano. The students like that.

I am thrilled with one student in particular. Unlike past classes, most of the students this time have had some music experience and read music. Two don't. One of these two has really taken to this stuff and is really working hard. It's exciting to see someone want to learn so much!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Today I turned 37.

Hot today if you were in the sun and not in the shade. Beautiful breezes. Had a good breakfast and worked in the air-conditioned classroom on various tasks until lunchtime, managing to squeeze in some Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Post lunch, I retreated to my room for a little siesta - I've really gotten into the 20-minute power nap here. 5 minutes in, Lisa and Chris called, and I agreed to meet them at the Nasher gallery. I finished my nap and walked over, sticking to the shadows and hoping for a breeze.

The gallery itself was atypically modern for Duke's staid campus. Like most modern galleries, it featured a fancy gift shop selling all sorts of stuff barely relevant to the galleries. Of the remaning 4 rooms, one was reserved for a concert and one was a 90-minute film.

One of the rooms had an interesting exhibit, a loosely-themed mix of old and new with some nice pieces. The other had a survey of some African-American artists. Given how closely I've been looking at art lately, I could just see the influences right and left - Surrealism here, Ferdinand Leger there, Raul Hausman's photomontages there.

A quick tour of East Campus and then a huge, lush meal at a local restaurant. I ate way too much but it was quite good. Now I'm sitting in a darkened classroom watching Deadwood and reflecting.

This isn't the first birthday I've spent here. I still have a cassette copy of "Synchronicity" given to me here with "Happy Birthday, Anu!" written inside.

37. Life is good. Happy to be here, at TIP. Happy to be alive. Happy to have the life, family and friends I have. Thanks to all of you for another great year.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


The heat is oppressive.

Yesterday was a great teaching day, though we got a little behind. This resulted in my having to stay to teach evening session. We covered Expressionism, and this ended up being rather suitable, since it meant they saw all the creepy stuff as it was getting dark.

I also went for a run with one of the other teaching assistants - this 19 year-old kid with long, long legs. He ran like a gazelle. I couldn't keep up with him, and he had to slow down frequently so the old man could catch up and/or catch his breath. Ah well. At least I got out there in the heat.

Of course, my feet are paying the price. Having grown accustomed to sitting all day, suddenly changing to standing, walking, and running around a classroom 6-7 hours a day plus all the walking across campus has left my feet rather sore the last couple of days. The above-mentioned run didn't help much.

The food here has gotten much better, and I've been eating both healthy and well. Forecast says rain, hope this will cool things down a bit.

As for the students...well, when they try, they can do great things. Sometimes it's tough to get them to try. For the most part they seem interested in what's going on, and the class is moving along very quickly. I don't know if I could keep up were I in their shoes.

I feel like I've done some really good things in terms of presenting the material, however, and this makes me happy. Even if they're not totally getting it, I know they're getting it better/more than kids in previous years.

I'm also very tired.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 2

Today we talked about early musical technology, Bach, Wagner, Debussy.

I have a few great students who are really thinking and talking. I have one or two who are disturbingly quiet (as in "saying nothing"). The rest of the class is a good distribution in-between.

Trying hard to keep things varied and interesting in class - the first few days are difficult because there's so much to learn before you can get to the more interesting stuff. Oh well.

Some days I feel like a bad teacher. Today is one of them. I even misread a schedule and missed a lunch duty I needed to do.

It's been hot today - over 90. The cool weather of the last few days is unfortunately gone, and the forecast says "hot, until the weekend when it's hot and rainy".

Can't complain. I miss my wife. Work seems to be doing OK without me, too.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

That's some good eatin'

Very good BBQ. Of course.

Hot and Raining

Until July 29, I am at Duke University, teaching at the Talent Identification Program.

I’m here!

My flights were relatively uneventful – I sat in the exact same seat on two identical planes, both times lucky enough to have the middle vacant. However, the DFW-RDU leg was troubled by bad weather and we had to sit on the ground on the plane for 2 hours.

Aside from the usual nausea of getting up at 3:30 am to get to the airport (I don’t think the bad yogurt and fruit I ate for breakfast helped much!), everything was fine. Read some magazines. Slept a bit.

Turns out a few old friends are visiting in town this weekend – an unexpected bonus. Hot and rainy. Not as hot as I expected, and apparently the rain is part of a cold front moving through which should keep things cool tomorrow. The rain is the good, old-fashioned, East Coast kind of rain that’s like someone turned a shower on. It hisses against the pavement. Wonderful! Can’t get that kind of rain in San Francisco.

Ate some Mexican food, met some of the new staff. They asked me what I did for a living. I told them, and surprisingly, they’d actually heard of Rhapsody. Unfortunately, some of them through the TV commercials…

Adam made it in, but I haven’t seen him yet.

Now it’s 1:34 am on Thursday, and I’m almost tired enough to sleep. I better, because I have to get up way early tomorrow. I’m excited to be here, though I already miss my wife very much. Just walking around campus, catching the scent of the place, seeing the buildings…I feel like I’m 16 again.