Tomorrow I turn 40. Forty!

I know many of my readers have already reached or long surpassed that milestone.

However, 40 feels fantastic and momentous to me because I didn’t know if I would make it this far. Those decades of depression sometimes made it seem, moment to moment and in the aggregate, as if 40 was impossible.

What keeps me going? An overdeveloped sense of responsibility to colleagues and a desire not to disappoint family and friends. I get out of bed on even the worst mornings because a stronger voice than the depression tells me I must.

On rare occasions I get to experience real joy. I had a reminder this past weekend that I can still feel the warm glow of happiness and delight.

Fang managed to throw a surprise party without me getting even a whiff of it beforehand. Not only did he craft a small but perfect guest list—he persuaded one of my best friends from high school, someone I hadn’t seen for years, to fly in with his wife for the occasion. And the friend who hosted it pulled off, as usual, a Pinterest-worthy event. And thanks to the boy, even the flavors of the ice cream cake were spot on.

All through the evening, people from different walks of my life commented on what an amazing circle of friends I have.

And it’s true.

I feel blessed. Truly, truly blessed.

Thanks to everyone who showed up to mark the occasion, and to those who were there in spirit.

Here’s to the next 40.

(photos by Fang)

“Idaho Citizens”

15535882211_7a91024dde_zImage by Thomas Hawk, and used under a Creative Commons license


When I listen to testimony before Idaho’s state legislative committees, I invariably hear—mostly from conservative speakers, but not exclusively—multiple people mention how many years they have been “citizens of Idaho.”

I thought this was an interesting slip of the tongue. After all, those testifying were residents of Idaho and likely citizens of the United States. I don’t recall ever hearing anyone call herself a “California citizen” or a “citizen of Iowa” (or Virginia or D.C.) when I lived in those places.

Still, I wasn’t sure whether to be amused (was the use of “citizen” ignorant or accidental?) or infuriated (was it intentional?).

And then I came across these passages in the Idaho state GOP platform:

“We believe that Idaho Citizens should not and or shall not be taxed for federally mandated health care.”

“The Idaho Republican Party recognizes that the future of this great state lies with our faith and reliance on God our Creator, in our strong efforts to uphold family values, and in the quality of education provided for its citizens.”

“The benefits of hydroelectric power should be retained for the citizens of Idaho.”

“We encourage all Idaho citizens, and their religious, civic, and community organizations, to be actively engaged in this effort.”


This explains why the state GOP has made sure we’ll soon need passports to leave the state on an airplane—or, really, to fly anywhere in the U.S.

This state really is another country.

Little boxes

There’s a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one, And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same. (Would it be heavy-handed to quote the next verse?) I haven’t blogged for a while because the new job (director of instructional design and […]

[Continue reading...]

Mass firing in the History department at Boise State

This past week, the History department chair sent out an e-mail with the subject line “Grim News.” In the e-mail, she detailed extensive cuts to the History department’s funding, apparently emerging from the Provost’s office. Among the cuts are: The Public History faculty line I recently vacated 2/3 of the funds we use to support graduate assistants […]

[Continue reading...]

Two quick updates, perhaps burying the lede

Just a couple of things: I’ve been in the new job a month. I’m loving it. It’s a great blend of intellectual work, collaboration, and practical application of all kinds of things I’m thinking about. (Bonus: We’re no longer living hand-to-mouth. I can pay bills without breaking into a cold sweat. That’s a good feeling.) […]

[Continue reading...]


In my last post, I quoted Frederick Buechner’s thoughts on calling—that it’s “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” And then I asked, “At what point do we acknowledge that the world’s deep hunger has met our deep gladness in a way that is unsustainable, that exhausts us?” As I said, I’ve been […]

[Continue reading...]


I. I inhabit a lot of different social and cultural worlds, and sometimes the adjacency of posts on Facebook is stunning. I can’t share tonight’s example because a lot of people might misunderstand my motivation for highlighting it. I will say this: as someone with a diverse circle of Facebook friends, I have the privilege […]

[Continue reading...]

Humanities = employability

I found myself in a meeting on Friday with several science faculty, and I had the opportunity to share with them what I’m doing in my Digital History course this semester. When I mentioned in particular that my students were mapping the neighborhood’s irrigation ditches, an engineering professor asked me how they were doing that. […]

[Continue reading...]

On instructional design

On Wednesday morning, I’m interviewing for a director-level position that bridges academic technology, instructional design, and faculty development. As a result, I’ve been even more reflective than usual about the choices I’ve made regarding teaching and technology. I. This semester, in addition to continuing to build or maintain a slate of existing projects, I’ve tackled […]

[Continue reading...]

All I have are bullets (many of them literal)

 You may recall I fought very, very hard to keep guns off of Idaho’s college campuses. On day 6 of the semester, a gun went off in the middle of a class at a public university classroom on the other side of the state; a professor was negligent with his concealed firearm. Honestly, my money […]

[Continue reading...]