e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Pepper Salad

Last weekend my dad hooked me up with 1) a peck basket full of peppers from his garden, and 2) the greatest recipe ever. You can use any combination of sweet and hot Italian peppers. I made a batch with half hot and half sweet. Came out very tasty and definitely not to hot--the marinating pretty much neutralizes the heat. Okay, here's the recipe:

-Cut a basket of peppers into 1/4" rings
-Cover rings with half vinegar and half water and let stand for 3 days
-Drain well
-Add 2 T. dried parsley, 2 T dried oregano, 1 T black pepper, and about a head of chopped, fresh garlic
-Add 2 cans of black olives and 2 small jars of green olives
-Cover with olive oil and store in the refrigerator...if the peppers are covered with the oil, they'll keep pretty much indefinitely

Delicious as a side with sandwiches, pasta, or any Italian food. I've got a big jar in my fridge. Here's the batch I made:

In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, my dad got the recipe from a guy at his church who looks EXACTLY like Ernest Borgnine.

It's uncanny. He has looked like Ernest Borgnine, circa Airwolf, for as long as I can recall. He doesn't age. And he provides us with delicious recipes. So he's got that going for him.


miscelaneous Friday

Been busy the past few days and haven't made much time to write. In preparation for this fall's service learning partnership--which involves working with kids--I had to get a TB test and criminal background clearance. Both involved going to two separate public service offices and then returning two days later for results.

Had a working lunch the other day (Annan in Dearborn...delicious!) with two of my comp. colleagues at UMD and made plans for simultaneously piloting both new (less draconian...yes!) placement procedures and more student choice for fulfilling the fy comp requirement. We're thinking of a version of directed self-placement as well as some thematic offerings of our writing classes. Not so much topics-based as much as special interest sections which students could elect. Some digital media sections. Some service learning sections (I'll work with these). And so on. Moving toward more choice and agency for students as well as the faculty who staff our courses.

Still reading like crazy for the civic engagement research I'm launching in the fall. Updates to the other blog soon. Good lunch yesterday with Dugdale (hey, Tim, glad you're staying in the motor city)...Toast in Ferndale, for a most excellent omelette. Superbad comes out today--another offering from the always funny Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, of Freaks and Geeks fame. Must find a chance to check it out this weekend.

dream cruise

For those of you who don't live in Detroit, this weekend is the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, an annual nuisance that crowds the main north-south drag with literally millions and millions of people admiring classic cars. Gas stations inflate their prices. Folks plan entire vacations around "the cruise." Today on a local radio show, callers were *showing off* about how lousy the mileage is on their muscle cars: "I get eight miles per gallon in my 'cuda." Excluding bars, local businesses on Woodward hate the cruise. You can't make left turns, parking lots are shut down (landowners rent out their lots to people who pay big bucks to breathe the fumes, I mean get good views of the cruise), and it takes an hour to drive a mile up the road...do the math, horrid for business.

I had lunch with a colleague yesterday (Toast in Ferndale...delicious!), who said, Bill you study working-class culture, this should be a great opportunity for you. Not so much. I can't get past the nuisance factor. The car becomes another consumer good that obscures class difference. The middle-management engineer comfortably affords the classic car. The line worker struggles to afford the same car, buys it soon after taking the assembly job, and scratches plans to go to school in a few years because of payments on said car. But, in the end, they've both got the car and they're out on Woodward showing it off.

The bottom line, I suppose, is that old cars don't interest me, but, hey, they give others pleasure, so have it! The fumes, the waste of gas, the fact that the oil companies must love this event, the near impossibility of getting from point A to point B...I'll admit that this weekend brings out my inner grump.

My Dream Cruise involvement? Tomorrow morning, I'll be joining folks from several local peace groups handing out literature advertising a 'Beat Joe Knollenberg' rally coming up at the end of August. The rally is part of a push by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq to target hawkish members of congress (like my own Rep., the aforementioned Knollenberg) for defeat in November. Get involved, peeps.


maybe I was falling in love

So Nicole and I have found three very different houses that we like, one of which needs a great deal of work. The fixer upper has huge rooms downstairs, including a sunroom, all with hardwood floors. Colonial brick. Nice fireplace. Plenty of room to spread out. A good place to write. On the other hand, the place needs a new furnace, new windows, updated electric service, and other significant improvements. We were happy that the place had its ups and its down, as one of our goals was NOT to fall in love with a house and thus get sucked into paying more than we should. Just found out the fixer upper has sold. Probably a good thing, as the price, though low, wasn't low enough, given the problems. Kind of a bummer, though, as the place had loads of character and loads of potential.


remembering composition

The new issue of JAC contains Halbritter and Taylor's video-essay 'Remembering Composition' on DVD. Apparently, copyright issues delayed its release. Cool piece for pushing at the boundaries of what our scholarship in the field of composition studies might look like. The piece makes a case for the role of new media in writing courses. In part, the it's a documentary, with folks in the field talking about their teaching. In part, it's a rock and roll song, written and performed by the "authors" of the piece (plays over the end credits). In part, a collage of voices. In part, a show-and-tell of interesting student work.

The 'talking head' portion of Remembering Composition seems to me to be the weak link. For a piece that pushes and challenges so successfully and provocatively, hearing soundbites--some of which are somewhat basic ('we need to teach writing technologies')--just seemed like business-as-usual. The student work on the other hand, consisting of documentaries made, I think, by students of Todd Taylor, really demonstrated cool possibilities. And the extended commentary from Halbritter (about midway through the film) nicely and reflexively stated how new media work blurs the editor-author role. And elsewhere, several of the voices make the case for more production of rhetoric--as opposed to getting stuck in the analysis/consumption rut. The latter stands out as one of the piece's motiffs/arguments.

I'm surprised nobody's talking about this piece: the blogosphere, the wpa listserv, etc. Maybe the folks who are interested in these issues already knew about the project and its content, and others are somewhat indifferent. Hope that's not the case.


oak ridge

Two friends were arrested this weekend in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Thanks for the dedication to peace work, Bill and Billie! Here's the story:

OAK RIDGE — Five protesters were arrested today on charges of obstructing a
roadway at the entrance to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

Four of the protesters chained themselves with a bicycle chain to a barricade in front of the plant and may face additional charges, according to Oak Ridge Police Capt. Alan Massengill. Those arrested were:
--Mary Dennis Lentsch, 70, of Oak Ridge.
--Elizabeth Velkey Brockman, 44, of Durham, N.C.
--Mary Ellen Gondeck, 66, of Detroit.
--William Hickey, 62, of Detroit.
--Billie Hickey, 58, of Detroit.

They were taken into custody by Oak Ridge City Police and were to be processed this afternoon. The five were among a couple hundred peace activists gathered to protest the continued production of nuclear weapons in Oak Ridge, one of the nation’s original atomic cities.

They began their day in the city’s Bissell Park, watching puppet shows, listening to music and hearing speeches about the evils of nuclear weapons. Shortly after 1 p.m. the demonstrators began walking toward the Y-12 complex a couple of miles away,
where they staged a demonstration.

Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, was upset with the arrangement at Y-12, where authorities had restricted the protest area to a small space near the plant’s entrance sign. Hutchison said a federal spokesman at Y-12 misled organizers about the arrangement.

The acts of “civil disobedience” at the Y-12 entrance were expected. The Peace Alliance has organized protests at the Y-12 plant for nearly 20 years. The events today and early next week will commemorate the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Y-12 enriched the uranium used in the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

More details as they develop online and in Sunday’s News Sentinel.

me during the summer?


alarming numbers

Numbers usually seem like abstractions to me. I don't think I'm alone in feeling like that. But this story gave me a jolt:
The Bush administration will announce next week a series of arms deals worth at least $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and five other oil-rich Persian Gulf states.
These are new deals. Not conintuations of already-existing expenditures. This on top of new military packages for Egypt ($13 billion) and Israel ($30 billion). That's all military spending. None of that money's going for humanitarian work, or any other kind of work for that matter. How many more bombs will these billions and billions of dollars inject into the middle east? Where are the arguments against throwing money at problems? Why is that argument only invoked with regard to education spending, and never with regard to military spending?

Every damned dollar that the government spends to buy a computer for a school must be accounted for with ridiculous tests and assessments. I'd like to see a similar test for every dollar and every bomb we give to the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia.

But changes happens more slowly in this troubled region. We're spreading democracy and that takes time.

Okay, fine, but if you're going to make that argument so vehemently with regard to the middle east, at least consider listening to similar arguments made by educators.

welcome Paint Valley community!

Recently Ray Malone, one of the musicians at the Paint Valley Jamboree, left me a comment on this blog. Ray mentioned he's going to tape up backstage at the Jamboree my post about the performance. Excellent. Maybe some of the Paint Valley folks will see the post and wander by the blog...if any of you out there are part of the Jamboree community, I just wanted to say welcome. Keep reading and keep rocking.


Talk about a well-deserved award. Jay Dolmage is the co-winner of the first annual Theresa Enos award for best Rhetoric Review essay of the year. Jay's article on the Greek figure Hephaestus (see issue 25.2 if you haven't yet read it) was such a smart and interesting piece of work. Rare that an article says something new about a specific area *and* has wide implications, but this research does just that. An important piece for people in disability studies and bodily rhetorics, but ALSO interesting and useful for anybody interested in history and identity politics. Jay was a student in the first grad class I taught at Miami (research methods in comp) and taught me a whole lot! A hearty congrats, man.