Thinking about Bill HD: Friendship Memories, Momento Mori

My friend Bill Hart Davidson died suddenly on April 23, 2024 of a heart attack while on a run after work. He was 53. Here’s a link to the obituary.

Annette and I (along with Steve Benninghoff– unfortunately, his wife was out of town) went up to The Compound for a dinner party the Saturday before. We’ve gotten together like this many times for the last 20 years, and often, there is some kind of activity or game. This time, Bill and Leslie asked us all to put together powerpoint presentations that are funny, interesting, and/or entertaining. Mine was about our new house. It was pretty lame because I was too busy trying to finish the grading for the winter semester. Annette, similarly busy but with her book, did a presentation about why The Big Lebowski is a perfect movie (totally agree). Benninghoff talked about some genealogy research he’s been doing about his family and some lost history going back to the Civil War, a presentation that ended with a sampling of scotch. Leslie and Bill were much more prepared. Leslie had a great talk about Betty Crocker (I think she’s doing some research for another cookbook sort of project), and Bill’s bit, complete with his bass for demonstration purposes, was about the similarities and differences between beat and rhythm. He won the prize for “most likely to do a TED talk.”

A good time was had by one and all, we talked about how Annette and I will have to host the next one of these get-togethers this summer once we move into our new place, and we all went home. Then we get a call from Benninghoff Monday night; he had gotten a call from Leslie that Bill had collapsed while on a run, and he was pronounced dead the next day.

It’s a lot to process, and so this is definitely very rambling and more personal I suppose than most of what I post here, and ultimately less about Bill than it is about memory and death and friendship. FWIW.

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A #cwcon 2014 in Pullman recap

I had an educational/fun time at the Computers and Writing Conference last week in Pullman, and I promise I’ll get to that after the jump. But let me get some complaining out of the way first.

I still wish that there was something more of an “organization” behind the annual Computers and Writing Conference, something more akin to the ATTW or RSA or CPTSC or whatever– not necessarily as structured and rigid as giant organizations like NCTE or the CCCC, but something more than the current non-structured affiliation (sorta/kinda) with a standing committee of the CCCCs which lacks an electing process, term limits, and (IMO) transparency. I’ve already voiced these complaints on mailing lists like tech-rhet– and by the way, my complaining a few months ago surfaced at this conference in the form of a few people saying to me stuff like “I’m glad someone finally said something” and a few others obviously avoided me. But maybe more organization isn’t necessary since there are other more organized groups out there. Anyway, got that off my chest. Again.

I still wish C&W would be held in an accessible location more than once every four or five years. Last year it was Frostburg, Maryland; this year, Pullman; next year (and of course we didn’t know the conference was going to happen at all until a few weeks ago), it’s going to be at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, which is just over an hour’s drive away from Minneapolis.  Not so distant past locations for the conference include Muncie, Indiana; Lubbock, Texas; and Normal, Illinois. Maybe for 2016, we need to go really remote, like Guam. (Actually, that might be kinda cool, Guam….)

I am still feeling a little “conferenced out” in general, and I only went to two this year– this one and the CCCCs in March. This complaint is not about Computers and Writing; it’s about the place where I am personally and professionally with academic conferences. Sure, I can and do learn a lot from attending conference sessions (see below) and a conference presentation does count on my C.V. for something, even if only five or so people come to my session (also see below). But with my meager travel budget (this jaunt to Pullman was completely out of pocket for me since I spent my money going to the CCCCs) and with other scholarly venues to present my scholarship (e.g., here, journals, more local events, etc.), I think I really need to rethink and to cut way back on the whole conference thing.

(Of course, I say that and then I do something different. There’s a pretty decent chance that I’ll go to at least three conferences next year, though two of them would be in Michigan).

Alright, enough whining. C&W 2014 in Pullman was pretty cool.

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Missouri et al trip recap

It’s funny because while I haven’t been here for the last week, I spent plenty of time online here, here, and here. In the real world, I was off on the every other year Krause family summer get together in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.  Here’s a set of pictures on Flickr; here’s a few highlights:

  • Spent the first night in St. Louis, where we enjoyed fried toasted ravioli and red sauce Italian food.  The next day, we went to the Arch (of course) and then City Museum, which I have to say is actually the “must see” attraction of the two, IMO.  There was some fun and funky stuff in St. Louis; I’m looking forward to going back when the CCCCs is there in few years.
  • My parents rented a house on the Lake of the Ozarks for the 10 adults and eight grandkids.  On the plus-side:  the house was pretty much big enough, pretty nice, had great views, and the water was accessible down many many stairs.  On the down-side:  it was down a winding road,  another winding road, a gravel road a gravel/dirt road, and finally a “holy shit, you want me to drive down that?!” gravel/dirt road.  Which meant it was about 35 minutes from the main road, which was where most of “civilization” was located.
  • The other down-side (which wasn’t exactly a surprise) was there was no easy internet access, which made teaching my online classes somewhat challenging for the week.  Surprisingly though, I think I pulled it off with a couple of trips to a Panera’s and the iPhone.  I did finally start playing around with iPhone internet tethering, which worked fantastic for me but which makes me paranoid.  I’m just worried I’m going to get some kind of huge charge added to my bill.
  • We had fun with the family (Will especially had fun playing with the cousins), the weather was much cooler and more reasonable than I was expecting, I got a chance to play golf a couple times, everyone but my father and me got a chance to go out on the water on a rented boat, had a lot of fun going to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and we had some nice views of the lake.  Having said that, Lake of the Ozarks seems mostly a place to go and get on a boat, drink beer, and go “wooo!”  A little country/hillbilly-ish for my tastes, generally speaking.
  • Then it was off to Chicago.  Went out with Troy and Lisa on Friday, which was great though our effort to get into Frontera Grill was thwarted by a 2+ hour wait.  Maybe next time.  (BTW, fun fact I didn’t know until I visited his web site:  Rick Bayless did at least some PhD work in Anthropological Linguisitcs at U of M.  Go figure).  Instead, we went to Vong’s Thai Kitchen, which was quite nice.
  • Got up the next morning and had a run/walk through Millennium Park as I went and picked up breakfast stuff for Will and Annette.  It was one of those mornings that made me think living in Chicago would be pretty cool.
  • Then onto the Museum of Science and Industry, mainly for Harry Potter:  The Exhibition.  I’d like to tell you to check out the pictures I took, but there was a definite NO PHOTOGRAPHY rule.  Despite that, it was a pretty cool collection of costumes and props and set stuff from the movie, probably more for the “hard core” fan (like my wife and son), but still enjoyable for the likes of me.  One of the tour dudes there told us that the movie makers working on something actually came back to get something from the exhibit, I guess to work on the current film.  The only down-side was we once again were not able to see the coal mine exhibit– or maybe a better way of putting it is we weren’t willing to wait in line for an hour or more.  Again, next time.
  • Managed to spend some time getting lost in some of the less desirable neighborhoods on the southside and near the Chicago Skyway Bridge, got stuck in traffic in Gary, etc.

All in all, a good trip.  Now it’s a couple weeks of “normalness” at home before the Traverse City experience.

“Golf can ‘damage hearing'”

This via boing-boing: “Golf can ‘damage hearing.'” I assume that what they are referring to here is the high-pitched “ping” made by some high-end drivers when the ball is struck. Specifically, the club specifically being complained about here is the King Cobra LD. It seems to me though that maybe the problem was that the golfer who had his hearing damaged was 55.

Oh, and I wish I had a link for this: when I was in Florida, I read an article in the Naples newspaper about how golf was good but not great exercise. Things I recall include that, not surprisingly, walking was more exercise than riding, but more surprisingly, using a push-cart and walking was about the same as carrying your clubs, riding still involved a fair amount of walking, and the actual swinging of the club involved quite a bit more exercise than the researchers expected. So what they said in this article was that golf was indeed a form of “exercise,” but it wasn’t enough exercise in and of itself. In other words, no one is going to get buff just by golfing, but it can fit into an overall workout program. Go figure.

The first of a couple animal videos: turtle at Eagle Crest Golf Course

For father’s day today, Jim K. and I played golf at EMU’s Eagle Crest Golf Course, which is described in this web site as being part of the “Eagle Crest Resort.” Well, if a corporate hotel and a golf course count as a “resort,” then I guess this is what this is.

Anyway, in the midst of my rather terrible play, we encountered a turtle on the fairway of number 15:

Note that this first video (one or two more animal videos are coming) were posted on Flickr, which I haven’t experimented yet with video. The preference for the service is clearly for short videos.

Computers and Writing 2008: Krause’s Big Wrap-Up

First off, let me back-track a bit and fill in a few more details on what I’ve already mentioned about C&W and this trip:

  • The “very good session” I went to on Friday morning before Jay David Bolter’s talk featured Rik Hunter, Dan Anderson, and Alex Reid. Follow the links for more info on the presentations. Actually, in Rik’s and Dan’s case, you can literally see what they did: both of them had everything pre-recorded and just “delivered” it by cranking up the computer and pushing play. Alex did his the old fashioned way– just talking. All were very good, but it was kind of strange to see the presenter standing there while his movie plays his presentation.
  • Speaking of Alex Reid, congratulations on the John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award for Digital Digs!
  • I wish Jay David Bolter’s talk was online someplace, and maybe it will be at some point– they videotaped it. I thought it would be a really interesting teaching tool because he made a bridge/connection between the hypertext experiments of the early 90’s (remember StorySpace?) with gaming experiments (, for example), poetry that plays on your iPod or your cell phone when you are in certain points of the Atlanta subway, a podcast tour of a cemetery, etc. It reminds me that I need to work gaming back into English 516 the next time I teach it.

Now on to the “part 3” or concluding episode of Computers and Writing 2008 from my pov:

  • My session was at 10 AM on Saturday, and the “prime time” seemed to help us draw a pretty decent-sized crowd. Before me was Gian Pugnucci with a talk called “The WikiBib Project: Exploring the nature of Teaching Collaborative Scholarships in a Wiki.” Basically, he was talking about using a wiki as a means of facilitating collaboration on an annotated bibliography assignment in a graduate class. I’ve talked with Gian about this before and I think we’re going to try and work something out together on this for his and my grad courses next year.

    I was second, and I’ll pretty much let my presentation speak (or not) for itself:

    A slight tangent here: I actually managed to forget the do-hickey for hooking up my laptop, so I spent a few moments thinking I was screwed. But it turns out I was doubly covered. Since this was the computers and writing conference after all, someone in the audience (Carl Whithaus, actually) immediately volunteered his adapter. But besides that, the fine folks in Georgia were completely prepared for this, too. The guy doing tech support for UGa told me he had a whole bag full of the adapters I needed and was very confident that he could get the projector set-up to work. Quite a contrast to the way the projectors often work (or not) in Pray-Harrold.Anyway, I got some great feedback from folks on what to do with the whole “finished blogger” issue, and as we discussed during the session, my use of the word “failure” in my talk is probably not right. “Not finished,” “abandoned, or and as often as not, “ended at the appropriate time” are probably better terms. In any event, helpful ideas from attendees.

    The third presenter was Natalie Szymanski from Florida State with a talk titled “Wikis and Composition Pedagogy: Avoiding the Bandwagon.” Basically, she was suggesting that maybe we ought to slow down a bit on all of this stuff like wikis. While I didn’t agree with many of the things she had to say, I had to give her credit because it’s nice to see someone at this conference have the guts to point out that we’re in the “writing business” and not the “isn’t this software I just learned about cool business.”

  • And then it was time for golf. I was part of a foursome with Steve Benninghoff, Gian, and Nick Carbone out at the University of Georgia Golf Course. In hind-sight, I think we should have picked a more “accessible” course since Benninghoff and I could have used a bit of a “palate cleanser” after the challenges of that course in Kentucky, and Gian and Nick, neither of whom had swung a club in over a year, could have just used something easier. This was one bad-assed hard hard course, certainly in the top 2 or 3 in difficulty that I’ve played, and a course that made me wish for an easy one like Pierce Lake or Eagle Crest.

    But hey, it was a friendly game, and a good time was had by one and all even if the play wasn’t great. Actually, it got a lot more fun when we started the back nine and we played a cart versus cart scramble, but Nick had to leave a little early, so it just kind of degenerated into some sloppy play at the end of a long death march of a round.

  • Steve B. and Gian and I had some BBQ that I thought was pretty so-so, and then we went off to Kingpins Bowl and Brew for the ritual of the bowling night. I managed to catch up with a few folks who I didn’t get a chance to talk to much during the conference itself (including Courtney, who is doing great), had a few more Terapins, and even managed a little bowling (I scored 100– I had forgotten that real bowling isn’t as easy as Wii bowling).
  • And then Sunday was the long drive home. I managed to prod my more leisurely traveling companion onto the road by 6:30 and we were back in Ypsilanti in less than 12 hours, which, when I think about the expense and general pain in the butt of flying, makes me think that driving was a good idea, with or without the golf.

So an excellent conference/roadtrip. Well done, UGa, folks! Here are some pictures of the whole things– eventually, I’ll add some info about all these pictures.

Next year, C&W is going to be at UC-Davis and it is going to be toward the end of June. I don’t know if I’ll be going yet or not, to tell the truth. On the down-side, the CCCCs is in San Francisco this year, and I don’t think I can afford 2 trips to California just to conference. On the other hand, Annette and Will and I might want to make this part of a west coast “pilgrimage” back to Ashland. We shall see….

It’s all relative, I suppose…

Steve B. and I played golf today at Reddeman Farms, and a good time with good play was had by one and all. I don’t think that Annette was thrilled with playing again this week after playing Sunday, but I still contend that Sunday was last week. And I’m not gonna lie– there were a couple mulligans and a “time traveler” involved– but I still managed to have a 96 on the round, I had six pars, and I didn’t melt down on any hole. Ultimately, I lost to Steve B. by two, but still, a great round for me.

Now, on the back nine, there was a college kid playing behind us by himself. He was walking, so we didn’t hold him up really, but we did get a chance to see him hit some great shots. So we (mostly Steve B., actually) were small-talking with him in the parking lot after the round and I asked him how he did. “69,” he said.

“No shit?!” I said.

“Well, I’ve played about 185 rounds this year.”

So, like I said, golf is a relative game.