Monday, December 6, 2010


Get it?  I haven't been doing much drawing lately, but I did this while on the phone a few days ago.  Lately I've been busy grading and working on my dissertation topic.  I'll be in Providence for a few more weeks and then in Michigan for the holidays and then in Nepal for a few months.  Maybe more blogging then.  Or at least more interesting blogging.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Newport and such ...

Alex and I took a nice relaxing trip to Newport last week.  It was cloudy and windy, but not crowded at all.  Plus, it was restaurant week so we got some pretty fancy food for cheap.  When we got back my brother and his wife came to visit, which was nice and resulting more delicious food.  

Now that it's time to get down to grading, I've started to get sick.  I'm hoping to get rid of this one early; I stayed home and slept most of the day and I'm starting to feel better.  It seems unfair to grade some student's paper on Plato's Parmenides while jacked up on NyQuil ... 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From the desk of ...

I found this pretty interesting (and short) documentary about the desk called Desk

Today was my first day in a while without teaching or grading to do, so I took the opportunity to clean up my room.  For what it's worth, here's a snapshot of my desk (well, one of my desks) in it's current state:

Now to try to do some work on it ...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lately ...

Someday I'll get back to actually thinking about philosophy ... someday ...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Naked Baby Photo ...

While I was at my parents house in Michigan this summer I came across a box of old cassettes.  One of the tapes was of the Grosse Pointe North "Senior Concerto Concert" on June 1st, 1995.

In 1995 my older brother was in a band that lacked a drummer but wanted to play in the concert (I assume someone in the band was a senior in high school at the time).  I was twelve at the time, and though I got a drum set for the previous christmas, I hadn't been playing much longer than a few months.  Somehow intense shyness and lack of musical ability didn't stop me from playing with them.

We played an epic eleven minute version of the Allman Brothers' classic "It's Not My Cross To Bear" complete with a kazoo solo and what sounds like a violin (though I have no memory of any violin player).  Anyway, for your listening pleasure, here it is:

Sound quality is not the best, but what do you want from a cassette that's been sitting in a basement for fifteen years ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Guitar

While I was in Michigan this summer I got a new guitar.  I've had it for a while, but I've only recently been able to start recording with it (and blogging about it).  My previous guitar was a hand-me-down faux-Stratocaster made by Washburn called a "Lyon".  It worked pretty well for me for the last ten years, but lately it has not been doing so well.  In the summer, my dad and I went to our local music store under the pretense of looking at guitar strings.  I was very close to buying a Fender Jazzmaster.  After thinking on it for a few days, we came back and that day the store got in a shipment of Gibson hollow-bodies.  I was reluctant because my dad's Gibson ES-335 is so big, but the ES-339 is the same but with a smaller body.  Once I tried it, I couldn't go back. The fact that it was about as much as my first car was also cause for some deliberation.  Anyway, I bought it and managed to get it back to Providence safely.   Here are some pictures:

So far I really love it - sounds great (sustain!), plays great.  Now to make some time to record with it ... 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For all your upcycled / vintage jewelry needs ...

Alex has been making cool jewelry for a while now, but she finally opened her Etsy Store where you can buy some of it for yourself.  It's way stylish, so check it out!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A hitch in my git-along

I took a short trip to Seattle to see my friend Michael.  While I was there I saw some shows and did some recording at his Empty Sea studio.  While we were taking a short motorcycle trip on Orcas Island, I dropped his 400+ pound Triumph Bonneville on my foot.  The bike was mostly fine (just one bent turn signal and shifter), but it was sad because it was such a beautiful ride and the rest of our day was spent finding a clinic, getting x-rays, and waiting for the ferry back to Seattle.

Anyway, since then I have had a limp.  When I got back to my carrel in the library, I was going through the calendar of folksy sayings that Alex gave me and this one really fit the bill.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You heard it here first, Spirit Airlines is evil ..

I drew this on a Spirit flight from Michigan to Florida.  Spirit has gotten crazy with all their fees; $30 to carry on a bag, $30 to pick your seat, etc.  I thought they might have an ounce of humanity when they gave us free pretzels, but then they came by with the cart offering to sell cokes for $3 apiece and I knew who I was dealing with ... 

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've been in Michigan visiting family for the past two weeks but in the middle of my visit I took a trip with my dad and brother to Florida.  We went to see an old friend of my dad and his son, and the five of us went to the Florida Keys for some scuba diving and michiganians lobster hunting.  

The floridians did all the lobster hunting while the michiganders snorkeled around and watched.  I guess lobsters live in holes and when you hunt you drive around in the boat looking for these holes.  When you find one, you dive down with a tickle stick and use it to flush them out.  Once they come out you grab them with your hands and swim to the surface.  Because of regulations you have to measure them and if it is too small, you have to throw it back.  I can't stand bugs and I consider lobsters to be basically giant bugs so I wasn't too happy to have them crawling all over the boat.  I did manage to pick one up and throw it in a container before it snapped at me too much though ...

We went scuba diving near Sombrero Key Lighthouse.  I'd never been scuba diving before so I had a crash course on the first day.  It took me a while to get used to being under the water.  My ears had a hard time adjusting to the pressure.  Even though we only went down to about 25 feet, my head felt like it was ready to explode and I had a bloody nose when I got to the surface.  I also tried to swim the way I do on the surface which meant that I used my hands too much, flailed about, and used too much of my air.  The second day was much better.  The seas were rougher but the pressure didn't bother me so much and I managed to relax and use less of my air.  Otherwise it was really amazing.  It's like being inside an aquarium; the fish come right up to you and swim right in front of your face!

Anyway, now that I'm back in Providence and need to get back down to work there are sure to be more blog posts ... 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Music recommendations from the universe

Earlier this week I got a package from and it had a CD by John Renbourn in it.  I was surprised because I didn't order anything from and I never heard of John Renbourn before.  I emailed Amazon and told them what happened and they replied with a nice email saying,
Normally, we would ask that you return the item to As the cost of returning this item is likely to be prohibitive, please dispose of this item at your own convenience if the item is unusable, otherwise please keep it with our compliments or you may donate it to a local charity.
So I ripped the CD and have listened to some of it and I actually like it a lot so far.  It is instrumental acoustic guitar playing, a little similar to Leo Kottke.  I'm not sure of the odds of getting a CD sent to you by mistake, but it seems unlikely.  It seems even less likely that it would be something that you actually like.  Anyway, was a nice surprise.

UPDATE: Turns out this was a gift!  Still a nice surprise though ...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nice weather for Naps

Naps truly are one of the great things in life.  Today is overcast, cool, and rainy - perfect napping weather.  I'm so glad I don't have to work in an office at specific times and can nap whenever I feel sleepy ...

Monday, July 19, 2010

More of a rhombus, really ...

We're not the worker ants. We're the queens! You and me are the queen bees!

I'm going back to Michigan in about a week so I've been trying (and failing, mostly) to get work done before I go.  I've still got a week so things aren't so grim yet.  Plus, it's rainy all day and nothing says work like a rainy day ...

(Alex pointed out that he's a parallelogram, though 'rhombus' is still a funnier word ...)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yawn #2

Have been very sleepy today.  Maybe tomorrow I will be able to get going?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

English-Tibetan Dictionary

A while ago I inherited the English-Tibetan dictionary hosted at  I finally got around to getting it updated and online; you can find it at and also at my website.  It has a little over 1600 words but I've been adding to it as I study.  Right now it displays the Tibetan in transliteration, but I hope to get it to display in unicode Tibetan.

Anyway, if you or someone you know studies Tibetan pass the word along and maybe it can become a nice resource for everyone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Website Update

I finally got around to updating my website; I pruned away some of the garbage, made the site easier to navigate, and added some new stuff.  I haven't gotten the English-Tibetan dictionary working yet, but it will be up soon.  If you have time, take a look (also, let me know if anything is broken!).

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Ukulele

I bought a new Ukulele last week and I like it a lot so far.  It was about $50 on sale from about $90 and I'm surprised at how good it sounds.  It's perfect for wandering around the house on hot afternoons.  Here are some pictures and a sound clip I recorded (I'm not too good yet so don't expect much ...)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lhasa 2010 Pictures

I'm back from Lhasa now.  It was a really great trip, but it's nice to be back in Providence (humidity aside anyway).  Here are some photos from the trip:  

Prayer flags at Lake Namtso

Water show in front of the Potala 

Me and a monk friend

Wind Horse!

The Jianlibao can has Tibetan now! So delicious ...

Sunset at Lake Namtso

Me and my Tibetan mom & little sister

Tibetan little sister 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going to Lhasa

In a few days I'll be leaving for Tibet.  I'm an assistant on the University of St. Thomas Ethics in Tibet program.  I'm pretty excited to be able to go back (I lived in Lhasa for two years, but I haven't been back in the last three).  I hope I didn't forget all my Tibetan though ... Anyway, since I'll have limited internet access (and since is blocked in China) I won't be posting too much in the next month.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another watercolor

Here's another watercolor showing my poor Tibetan brushmanship.  The text is also a line from Gyalse Thogme Zangpo's Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas.  It's the first line from the ninth stanza; here is the stanza with a rough translation:


srid gsum bde ba rtswa rtse'i zil pa bzhin
yud tsam zhig gis 'jig pa'i chos can yin
nam yang mi 'gyur thar pa'i go 'phang mchog
don du gnyer ba rgyal sras lag len yin

Happiness in the Three Worlds is like dew on a blade of grass,
In just an instant it is gone.
The supreme unchanging state of liberation,
Strive for this goal!  This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.

Here the "Three Worlds" refers to the worlds of gods, humans, and the nāgas (snake-like spirits that live in the water).  The point is that for all life that is under, on, or above the Earth, happiness is fragile, temporary, and liable to disappear in an instant.  That sounds a little depressing, but the next lines, are more encouraging.  The idea being that if you take a good, hard look at what happiness is like for creatures like us, you end up with a kind of freedom.  In one sense, you at least quit expecting something that life cannot deliver.  But I sometimes find when I think about how the praise or job or novelty I want won't last, I get a better perspective on it and it doesn't seem like such a tragedy if I don't get it.  And when it does come along, I'm more likely to appreciate it and try to share it with others rather than hoarding it for myself.  One of my favorite bands, Do Make Say Think doesn't often sing but I thought they put it nicely in their song "In Mind": 

     When you die,
     You'll have to leave them behind.
     You should keep that in mind.
     When you keep that in mind, 
     You'll find 
     A love as big as the sky

So sadly, I don't seem to be getting much better at watercolors.  I think I'll go back to ink.  That's it for today.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kind of Blue ...

Yesterday was laundry day.  The blues looked neat enough to take a picture (but not neat enough to fold).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Waiting waiting waiting

It felt like most of my day today was spend either in waiting rooms or waiting in lines.  Sort of relaxing in a way when there is nothing you can do about it.  Anyway, here's this drawing.

Friday, April 16, 2010


This is a drawing I did while I was on the phone of a little Jizō statue that Alex brought me from her trip to the west coast.  The weather is cloudy and a little cold so it's kind of a low-key day today, which is fine by me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One way to respond to a valid argument

Everybody loves an ad hominem, right?  Some days I just don't feel like doing philosophy.  I call those "tuesdays" (weekdays?) ... wah-wah.  Anyway, here's the sort of drawing I do on those days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Cat's Yawn

This cat I drew says a Tibetan proverb:

          mi tshe zhi mi'i a stong tsam las med par stong zad ma gtong la

          Human life is just (as short as) a cat's yawn; don't waste it.

Though my Japanese translation is just a guess, but I thought maybe it would work as a Haiku:


hito jumyou
tada neko akubi
rouhi yamete

Which as a Haiku in English would be:

The human lifespan
Is only but a cat's yawn
Don't waste it away

I like this proverb and occasionally think about it when I find myself doing some totally trivial task that I don't enjoy anyway ... that's it for wasting time today (at least by blogging!).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

そろそろ (soro soro)

そろそろ (soro soro) is a Japanese word that means something like "slowly", "gradually", "quietly", "soon", or "almost."   I'm told it is often used as a suggestion as in "Let's start to [verb]" or "Lets move towards [verb]." Anyway, It's a nice sunday here in Providence so I'm going outside.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Late At Night 2:30 Disco

When I was in Lhasa for the first time about eight years ago, my friend Aaron found this beat up cassette on the ground.  After acquiring a crappy portable player we listened to it and found that it contained the most ridiculous techno ever.  The title is 深夜2:30的土高 (shenye 2:30 de tugao) - "Late At Night 2:30 Disco."  Classic.

When I moved back to Lhasa after college I would sometimes go out to dance clubs there (at that time it was either Babi-La or Tang Hui depending on which was open), and believe me this is pretty representative of what they played.  At first I hated it, but after a while its bizarre charm grew on me.

Anyway, I had planned to make an mp3 of the tape for a long time and since it is a miserable and rainy spring break here in Providence, today felt like the day.  So after eight years, here it is in all its glory, Late At Night 2:30 Disco:
There is some clicking at the start of the tracks, but what do you want from an eight year-old cassette that was found in the street.  For my money, the best part is at about thirteen minutes into Side A which features a segue from Aqua to Bon Jovi to Bonnie Tyler.  Magnificent!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Paradoxical, Socrates ..."

It's spring break here and since most people are gone I'm trying to use the week to catch up on all the stuff I told myself I'd do when I got some free time.  It's going pretty well so far (*knock on wood*) ...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rebel without logical coherence ...

Here's a little drawing I did on a handout at a pretty interesting talk on epistemology.  In the course of talking about how one might obey the advice "Don't trust any rule completely" there was an example featuring a bug.  So that explains that I guess.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spalding, get your foot off the boat ...

Here's a little watercolor I did a while ago.  As you can see, I write Tibetan the same way I write English - like drunken four year-old with a broken wrist.  Anyway, the Tibetan is from a text I'm reading by Gyalse Thogme Zangpo called The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas.  The line is the first line from the very first stanza after the dedication; here it is with a rough translation:


dal 'byor gru chen rnyed dka' thob dus 'dir
bdag gzhan 'khor ba'i mtsho las bsgral bya'i phir
nyin dang mtshan du g.yel ba med par ni
nyan sems bsgom pa rgyal sras lag len yin

That great ship of money and free time is hard to find in this life
In order to save yourself and others from the Ocean of Suffering,
Day and night, incessantly and carefully,
Listen, think, and meditate.  This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.

So there you have it.  On a lighter note, you might enjoy this list of funny boat names.  They're pretty bad, but I liked the "Maid of Plywood" ... 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dissertation topics are hard.

I've been trying to come up with a topic for my dissertation.  Today was better, but this pretty much captures how I've felt about it the last few days. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Yawn

I can't seem to get enough sleep this week.  I drew this on an index card that was on my desk while getting ready for bed.  Now I am going to bed.  Hopefully tomorrow holds fewer yawns ...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I wish this was hyperbole ...

Maybe not twelve, but I do often go up to nine or ten hours.  I just hate feeling sleepy so much ...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Instrumental Rationality

I drew this last year on a handout during a talk at the philosophy department about Instrumental Rationality (how to reason about the best means to a goal).  It's a terrible joke, but that's what happens during lectures ...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New and improved ...

I decided to start a new blog.  You might remember the old one, which had a lot of long-winded rants and complaining on it.  I don't have the energy to do that anymore, but I'll put up some drawings and what-not here from time to time.