A List of Things I’ve Been Doing Instead of Writing On My Blog

1. I was supposed to be on leave from the department this quarter, but two days after classes started they asked me to TA an ethics course. I said yes. This was stupid because…

2. I was supposed to be using my leave to work on my dissertation, which I had on the back-burner during the fall and hoped to make some progress on during the winter. Now I’m doing that while also TA’ing. This is stupid because…

3. What I really should have been doing during this quarter, while on leave, was work on a course I’m teaching in the spring. Now I’m doing that while also writing a dissertation and grading papers/holding sections for undergrads.

4. I’ve been playing Hanging With Friends and Words With Friends. You should play me. I’m mediocre at it. My username is BackpackingDad.

5. I’ve been making Art. I’m an excellent drawer. I draw pictures and post them on my Google+ page. They often look like this one I did about the ESPN headline about NBA star Jeremy Lin:


6. I’ve been playing Mega Man 2.

7. I’ve been parenting. Sort of.

8. I’ve been husbanding. Sort of.

9. I’ve been pet-owning. Sort of.

10. I’ve been making lists.

Masquerade. Now With More Photos.

In case you missed my near-endless updating of Twitter and Google+ with pictures of me in a tuxedo, here are more. Why the tux? Because Emily and I attended a Venetian masquerade ball at the de Young museum in San Francisco, celebrating the end of its Masters of Venice exhibit.

Now, to be clear for a minute: We are not fancy ball-attenders. But this year has seen a bit more of the “Sure, why not?” attitude pervading our doings than previous years, so when Emily received a Gilt City coupon for tickets to this thing and asked me if I wanted to go, I replied “YES!”

Grandma was persuaded to watch the kids for the night so we could overnight in San Francisco and make a Valentine’s weekend out of it. Emily got her hair and makeup did. And I? I rented a tuxedo.


I want to wear a tuxedo every day now.

Since it was a masquerade, we also bought some masks at Cost Plus. Mine was a little small for my face, but did the trick.


We ate Venetian-style food (cheese? chicken skewers? some kind of thick bread that was a little pizza-ish) and drank Venetian-themed drinks and danced among the art while Masque of the Red Death was projected on the wall above us.

We looked at paintings by Venetian masters, noting how easy it was to pick out Jesus, and how the standards of feminine and masculine beauty have changed over the years (then: small boobs, big hips; small wangs, no abs. Now…different.)

We aren’t great at art. Mostly we went in order to wear fancy clothes. And also so that Emily could steal this lamp.


(Emily did not actually steal the lamp.)

Note that some people took “formal attire” or “evening wear” a little more casually than others. For Emily, it meant “ball gown”. For the woman behind Emily in that picture it meant “underwear”. For one dickwad, it meant “jeans”. He’d better be rich.

We talked to some people about technology and philosophy and performance art (I asked her what the appropriate way to interact with the hired contortionists was; she replied that they didn’t care, that for something like this they were just putting in the time, so go ahead and stare or not stare, smile or not smile, whatever), then cut to the dance floor where we ended the night.

I used the Uber app to get a car to our hotel so I didn’t have to wait around for a cab like one of the common folk. (I think it’s funny to refer to anyone wearing formal attire as “common folk”, but seriously, if you don’t have your act together to use technology to your advantage you’re a techno-peasant), and we cracked wise with the driver all the way to the hotel.

All of this brought to us by a coupon and a “Sure, why not?” attitude about the world. And a grandma willing to overnight with the kids.

Now, who has an event coming up I can wear a tux to?

(Photos without a lamp taken by Toni Bird.)

What is your most unusual, yet practical, use of a common household appliance?

So, Kenmore has invited me out to visit them and see cool Kenmore things at the Kenmore Blogger Summit. That will be this weekend. In advance of that, though, they asked me “What is your most unusual, yet practical, use of a common household appliance?” Why are they asking me this? Because, I assume, Kenmore is sick and tired of selling refrigerators to people who want to keep food cold, or blenders to people who just want to make smoothies. Where are those brave souls using stand mixers to trim the hedges? The split-level oven as bunk beds for tiny fire demons? Where is the creativity, America?

Anyway, Kenmore is having a video contest: Submit your most creative, but practical, use of an appliance for a chance to win prizes from Kenmore (I think it’s Sears gift cards in varying amounts, like $100, $50, or $25).

To enter:

    1. Be in America. Sorry, un-America.
    2. Record a video of unusual, but practical, appliance use. Cover up any non-Kenmore branding (you can use whatever appliance you want, but they can’t use videos that show another company’s brand. Just stick some tape over the name). If the videos are large, uncompressed Quicktime videos 1920 x 1080, 16:9 those are best, but not necessary. Mine won’t be. But the larger video size the better, they say. I say just shoot it on your phone and send it right away. THIS SHOULD NOT BE STRESSFUL.
    3. Submit a video TO ME, by e-mail: backpackingdad at backpackingdad dot com.
    4. I pick up to 5 good videos, and send them in to Kenmore, but I’m on a deadline, so I need your video sent to me by Wednesday, January 18th, at 5pm PST (Pacific).
    5. Wait, and wait and wait and wait and wait. I actually don’t know how long it will take for them to pick a winner.
    6. That’s it.

How much effort should this take? I don’t know. I pulled out my phone and shot a video in 24 seconds. Don’t think too hard about it. Just send a video in.

Here’s mine.

It’s as easy as that.


Again, you have to have a U.S. address to win a prize, so sorry un-America.