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Monday, August 31, 2015


CEOs of large corporations earn 400 times what their workers make.  That is not what America is supposed to be about.
~ Bernie Sanders
- - - - -

I concur.  400%.

I guess that's what you get when you focus on the ME and the I in America instead of the us in the U.S.

I will say that when I teach, I feel like I learn 400 times what my students learn, but I don't think that's quite the same thing.  They already know so much and I have so much more to learn.  They are good teachers.

I hope if they become CEOs - which they could definitely do if they wanted to (not sure many of them want to) - that they continue to work toward equity and social justice with a sense of the common good.

If they don't, then I guess I failed.  Or maybe I should have failed them because obviously they didn't learn the important stuff.  But then if they did learn the important stuff, being a CEO is probably not on their to-do list. 

Of course my opinion on all of this is subjective.

And right.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Dictionary - opinion expressed as truth in alphabetical order.
~ John Ralston Saul
- - - - -

I like seeing letters for sale.  I don't like seeing typewriter keys for sale because I like the way typewriters look with their keys.  However, if no typewriters were harmed or if the typewriter was already damaged, then having the keys for a separate project is okay with me.

Anyway, I like seeing letters for sale.  I like especially seeing m, l and b for sale.  But I also enjoy other letters.  And I like seeing punctuation marks for sale a lot.

I bet this would sell a lot more quickly if they marketed it as a "U" instead of an "n."  People are like that.  They don't like it when you say to them, "It's all about yoU," but they sure do like to live their lives as if that was the case.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Doing well is a result of doing good.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -
We do the best we can.  Or we should try to.  We could always do better.  Most times we could also do worse.  Do the best you can and try to do a little better the next day.  Eventually you will be better than you are.
And talk to other people about how they're doing.  I do that with Wayne.  I really appreciate him.  He checks in with me periodically.  Sometimes he asks how I'm doing.  Sometimes he tells me how great I am.  Sometimes he shares information with me.
I'm grateful to him.  He's a good friend.  When a friend asks, be honest about how you're doing.  They can be helpful.  They can provide opportunities for you to reflect on your progress.  
Here is an example from a recent text where Wayne helped me understand how things are going for mesimply by asking two questions.
Wayne: How are you?
Me: IM PRETTY GOOD.  Ooops.  Not all caps good.
Me: Not quite.

Friday, August 28, 2015


We are each gifted in a unique and special way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.
~ Evelyn Dunbar
- - - - - -

I call this photo: "yoU just keep going toward the light."

But what if you ARE the light?

What if we are ALL the light?

Well, if we are all the light, I know some of us are burned out.  We need to rest and relax and refilament ourselves with energy.  Unless you are a neon light.  Then you don't have a filament.  In that case, you have gas.

I know a lot of neon light-type people.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


"Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet."
~ Chuck Palahniuk
- - - - -

It is important to communicate.  And it is important to build community.  I do believe, however that we can be sensitive in how we communicate with our communities.

For instance, the phrases "flushing hydrants" and "dark water alert" are gross together.  Flushing?  Really.  Couldn't it just be "rinsing" or "clearing" or "cleaning?"  Nope.  They're going to be flushing the dark water.

At least they put out an alert.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places.  He told me to quit going to those places.
~ Henny Youngman
- - - - -

This would not be reassuring to me if I was a kid in a dentist's office.  The elephant doesn't look happy.

Hm...  I wonder why I wrote "dentist's office" when this isn't a dentist kind of chair.  This is a doctor office thing.  Well, it wouldn't be reassuring to me there, either.

It would be even less reassuring to me if I went to someone's house on a first date and this was the only piece of furniture in the house.

It would be least reassuring if someone gave it to me as a gift.
Okay...  So I'm sitting in the library writing this and I feel compelled not to let the library staff see that I even have this picture.

Maybe I don't like it because the elephant looks sad.

I think I don't like it because I don't believe we should use animals as furniture.  We should use them as snacks.


Just kidding.  Some animals shouldn't be eaten as snacks.  Because some of them are main courses.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Fiction is the truth inside a lie.
~ Stephen King
- - - - -

I'm not sure what truth is, but I like trying to think about what I think about it.  I'm not sure if there is an ultimate, singular truth.  I'm not sure if the individual beliefs of individual people are the same as truth.  Some people can believe things that are not true.

When I think about the idea of writing a memoir, I am just curious about what it would entail.  Not the writing part.  I know the writing part would involve struggle and questioning and self-doubt and self-reflection and criticism and vulnerability and all of that (and more).

I just don't know if it would be true.  I don't mean I don't know if it would be "my truth" or not.  I just don't know if I can write the truth down when a fictionalized variation of that truth is so much more compelling.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don't do them to others, ever.
~ Dee Hock
- - - - -

Leslie and I were working on a grocery list the other day.  She had written something like PPT on the list.  I asked her what that meant and she said, "Paper towels."  I said that I didn't understand her abbreviations and asked if she could spell some things out.

She sighed and said, "Fine, but if I write 'TP' on the list do you know what that is?!"

I said, that yes... yes I did know what TP is.

I thought for a moment and made the drawing above.  I said, "If I put this on the grocery list do you know what IT is?"

She sighed again and said, "Yes.  I know what it is."

I said, "Olive Oyl.  It's OLIVE OIL!" and laughed.

She nodded, smiling sort of sadly and said quietly, "Yes.  I know."

I make me laugh.

Also, I'm not very good at drawing hands.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
- - - - - -

Calm can be difficult.  When you have ideas and energy and hopes and faith and you want what you want...  It is difficult to be calm.  To be patient.

And what is calm?  Is it the outer?  What we show to others?  What they see?  Or is calm defined by the inner?  The peaceful places no one can access but us ourselves?

The truth is, I don't know the answer.  I can tell you this, though...  all these questions with which you are bombarding me are making me not calm.  Uncalm.  Instilling in me a sense of calmlessness.

Be gone!

Saturday, August 22, 2015


The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers. 
~ Matsuo Basho
- - - - -

At the beginning of summer, I planted some flowers for Leslie's mom.  Leslie and I had gotten them from the nursery that Granny insists is the best one.  It was a pretty good nursery.  Or at least they had a lot of healthy-looking plants.  And I'm not sure how else you would describe a good nursery.

Anyway, I worked on planting the flowers while Leslie worked at the store.  Part way through my planting, Granny came out and sat on the front porch to keep me company while I planted.

When Leslie got home she said that the flowers looked good.  I told her that her mom had come out and supervised me.

"What did she say?" Leslie asked.

"She said that I wasn't doing it right and we got the wrong flowers and did I even know anything at all about planting things?!"

Leslie said, "No she didn't."

Leslie was right.  I made some of it up.

I just thought it made for a more interesting story than telling her that Granny said, "You're a good gal.  You're doing a nice job."


But maybe I'm wrong about that.

Friday, August 21, 2015


One of the effects of living with electric information is that we habitually live in a state of information overload.  There's always more than you can cope with.
~ Marshall McLuhan
- - - - -

I have found this to be really true lately.  There is so much on Facebook or in emails or on Twitter or on TV or on the scrolling thing across the bottom of the TV or on my phone or on the tablets and the computers.

I do try to plan times when I am disconnected from all of this.  It is really helpful.  What is interesting is that -- Wait.  Well, it's interesting to me.  It remains to be seen if it will be of interest to you.

What is interesting to me is that I feel more and more inclined to disconnect even when I am not in the midst of one of my planned disconnections.  I need to stay in touch on some issues, but do I?  Won't someone eventually let me know if there is something I should know?

They could write me a letter.  And would that delay really make a difference in terms of my involvement in whatever the issue of the day is? 

I don't know.

But here is another thought I think: There has always been more than we could cope with.  It's not just about the electronic stuff.  The world is an overstimulating place.

You have to step back.  And look at the pieces of it.  The bigness of it is too much.

I think that is part of the appeal of yelling, "Look!  Squirrel!"  It breaks the cycle and forces someone to focus on just the squirrel.

Also, it's hilarious when they look, whether there is a squirrel there or not.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


You build on failure.  You use it as a stepping stone.  Close the door on the past.  You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it.  You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
~ Johnny Cash
- - - - -
What is the difference between a rock and a stone?  Both are hard.  Both are solid.  Both hurt if you get one in your shoe - well, if you're wearing and walking around in that shoe.  Or both hurt if you get hit in the head with them.
I did a little not very good research.  I found out that stones are made in nature and rocks are made of candy.
Research is so fascinating.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


A pearl is worthless as long as it is in its shell.
~ Native American Proverb
- - - - -

When we went to the Mother's Day brunch, Leslie thought there were going to be oysters.  There were shrimp and two kinds of salmon, but no oysters.  She was pretty good, though.  She didn't flip over any tables.  She didn't say any bad swearwords.  She also didn't cry and cry and cry like I did when I was little and we were on vacation and I didn't get to have orange juice.
Which is good.  She is a full-grown person.  I was just a little kid.  Apparently, kind of a brat of a little kid.  And also I should be grateful that I didn't get orange juice because I probably would have gotten car sick.  And that's not fun for anyone. 
I would hate for my worst enemy to get carsick.
Clarification: I would hate for my worst enemy to get carsick if s/he was sitting next to me in the car.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


It isn't writing at all -- it's typing.
~ Truman Capote
- - - - -

The other night I was typing with my friend Rachel.  The one in Iowa.  Not the one in Chicago.  Or the one in Omaha.  Or Illinois.  Not that I wouldn't type with those Rachels.  I just wasn't.  And also, I know a lot more Rachels than I predicted I would.  Yes, I wrote that prediction on a piece of paper when I was in fifth grade and put it in an envelope and just recently opened it.

And, yes, I made up that thing about Rachel predictions.

But I digress...  Because that's what I do.

Anyway, Rachel and I were both complaining about typos in our writing back and forth.  

Me:  Stupid non-mind-reading keyboard!!

Rachel:  The keys are not keeping up with me either tonight.  I blame Mercury in retrograde.

Me:  I blame Uranus in Gatorade.

Rachel:  best. line. ever.  I will expect a blogpost forthwith.

I like being friends with Rachels.  That last line just happens to by why, good readers,  I am friends with this particular Rachel.  

Monday, August 17, 2015


Educating the mind without educating the heart 
is no education at all.
~ Aristotle
- - - - -
There is a lot to be learned. A lot to be taught. A lot to be changed. A lot to be critiqued. There is just a lot.

I try to remember to start class with time for people to share information and make announcements. I'm not sure that's a good use of time, though.  Instead I decided that we should replace our announcements at the beginning of class with class "denouncements."

We haven't implemented that yet, but I suspect that when we do we will only have time for my denouncements.  Because we have a lot to cover in class...

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I once saw a forklift lift a crate of forks and it was way too literal for me.
~ Mitch Hedberg
- - - - - -

I saw this in an antique / salvage store.  I figured it was a trap so I avoided it.

And here I am.  Was I wrong about the trap?  I don't know.  I'd rather not know if I was wrong than know for sure that I was right.  And that's not a bad way to live. 

Well, in this particular situation. 

Which probably won't happen that often.

But that's not my point.  My point is...

My point is that doing good things and being nice to others is a good thing to do in your life.  It was just a little hidden in the lesson above.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


The best of healers in good cheer.
~ Pindar
- - - - -

It is interesting to me the things for which people cheer.  Not just sports things, but other things.  We cheer each other up.  We send each other good cheer.  We say cheers when we do toasts to and with each other.

In South Carolina they have something called Cheerwine.  I tried it once.  It's okay.  I would probably buy a lot of it as gifts if it was called "Cheerwhiners."  Not that I have a lot of friends who are whiners, necessarily.  I sometimes give gifts to strangers when I know what they need.

Friday, August 14, 2015


I get mail; therefore I am.
~ Scott Adams

- - - - -

The first piece of mail I got at my new job as a faculty member at Clemson University was a postcard from Kirk and Jared.  They sent it on their honeymoon in Ireland / England.  It was a postcard about Guinness beer.  That's a nice way for whoever delivers my work mail to be introduced to me.

When they got home, Kirk texted me.

Kirk:  We made it back to Boston!!

Me:  I can't understand your accent.

Kirk:  Pip pip Bonnie lassie.  I have gone and left my tea covy in the luu.  FYI people in England hate when you start a conversation like that.

Me:  FYI so do people in America.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh
for five seconds and think for ten minutes.
~ William Davis
- - - - -
So I put this outside my office.  I replace it every once in a while.  Maybe once a week-ish.  I am troubled by the fact that people don't take humor.  It really bothers me.  I don't know if they don't take it because they think they have all the humor they need or a good sense of humor or if they think that humor won't really help them.
I guess that I shouldn't put out something and say "take what you need" and then get mad if they don't take what I think they need.
But, seriously.  They need some humor. 
I guess I could make a new sign with all the tabs that say "humor" and write on it, "Take what I think you need."

Why didn't I think of that to begin with?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Examine the contents, not the bottle.
~ The Talmud
- - - - - -

I like bottles.  I like the different colors and shapes and sometimes the labels.  It's good that little railing is on the shelf.  Otherwise the bottles might topple over the edge. Especially the little ones.  They really don't know any better.

You can sorta see what is in a bottle, but you never know for sure unless you get it to share its contents.  If you get them to pour out what's inside, then you know what they hold.  Like people.  I've seen in the movies that if you hold people upside down and shake them a little, they'll spill too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I wonder how much it would take to buy a soap bubble, if there were only one in the world.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

Children are fragile.  And fun.  And float through childhood (when they have the privilege of having childhoods) on the winds of whim and distraction.  Like bubbles.  They can bounce happily along for a while, but they can also be burst.  Which is probably where the phrase, "I hate to burst your bubble" comes from.  However, if you really hate to burst my bubble, then don't.

Sometimes I think you make things more complicated than they need to be.

Monday, August 10, 2015


My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. 
They both move people forward without wasting anything. 
The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.
~ Peter Golkin
- - - - -

Both bikes and libraries are about freedom.  Exploration.  The public good.

You know, even if you are caught stealing a bike to return an overdue library book it seems like you're a decent kind of criminal.  I would read a book about a person who stole a bike to return an overdue library book.

And what if I rode a stolen bike to a park to read that story in an overdue library book?!

That would be REALLY weird.

It would be even weirder if I rode a stolen bike to a coffee house to read that story in an overdue library book.  Because I don't drink coffee.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


We're the Pittsburgh Steelers.  We have fans everywhere.
~ Troy Polamalu
- - - - -

I think today is the first preseason game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  As you can see, Aurora is already being indoctrinated to support that team.  I think that happens to a lot of kids.  I mean, you don't see many parents or grandparents or great grandparents sitting down with one-year olds and going over all of the football (or basketball or cricket) teams and saying, "Now, which one would you like to cheer for?"

Do I think this is bad?  No.  I don't care about football that much.

Now baseball...  that's completely different.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


A man's errors are his portals to discovery.
~ James Joyce
- - - - -
Someone posted that s/he had been admitted to a doctoral program and s/he was now a "doctoral candidate!"
I said to Leslie, "Want to hear something really snotty?"
Leslie:  Sure.
Me:  Well, that person is not a doctoral candidate.  You aren't a doctoral candidate until you complete your comprehensive exams or the equivalent.
Leslie:  You didn't post that, did you?
Me:  No.  I didn't.
Leslie:  Good.  But if you DO post it make sure you sign it, "Dr. Michelle Boettcher, Ph.D.!"
The truth is, I don't think I knew the difference between the two until Aja or Cameron or someone explained it to me.  We all learn (and teach) in different ways.  I haven't found teaching by being snotty on Facebook to be particularly effective.
Apparently, I think teaching by being snotty in my blog is effective.
Dr. Michelle L. Boettcher, Ph.D. (and sometimes butthead)

Friday, August 7, 2015


Friendship either finds or makes equals.
~ Pubilius Syrus
- - - - -

I saw these two cans next to each other.  I thought, "Hm.  What if those two cans were friends.  What if one can thought of the other as a 'friend' and the other thought of the other as a 'bff'?  Would that be a good friendship? Would it be balanced?  Can I make assumptions about what the label 'friend' or 'bff' means to anyone except me?"

The answer is:  I have too much going on in my head at all times.

And also, who needs labels?

But the most important and real answer is, today is my friend Nate's birthday.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015


I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be a shadow.
~ Sylvia Plath
- - - - -

I love shadows and light.  Each makes the other more striking.  Without strong light, shadows are weak.  Without strong shadows we don't always notice the brightness of the light.

There are lots of things like this in the world.  Pieces of things that enhance and intensify other things.  Things that mean less without their "other."  Light and shadow.  Good and evil.  Day and night. 

I don't think people necessarily work this way.  I know that a nemesis can help us figure out who we are at our core, but how many real nemeses are there out there?  I mean, sure, I have a couple.  Do I think all of my goodness highlights their badness?

Yes.  I do.  But only because it does.

And does their goodness highlight my badness?  No.  It doesn't because my nemeses are all bad.  And I am all good.  Well, all good enough.  At least in my writing about myself I am.

Which is why this is such a good post.

And also I'm pretty sure people would see my goodness even if I didn't have a nemesis. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


It's no use going back to yesterday, 
because I was a different person then.
~ Lewis Carroll
- - - - -

So yesterday we made the final part of the drive to Clemson.  It has been a long process and today we have to begin the unpacking part.  All that said, it was a fun trip and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

Part of the fun of the trip was talking with Leslie.  Hearing her ideas.  Learning things.  

And also she sang sometimes on the trip.  When we got in the van in the morning, the first song she started to sing was "Yesterday" by the Beatles.  If you don't remember the first few lines of the song, you should look them up.  I'm a little concerned why that song and those lyrics came into her head as we were finishing our move.

But that was yesterday.  No use going back.


The measure of a superhero is always his nemesis.
~ David Lyons
- - - - -

I'm not sure what my mom thought about this postcard. She didn't respond. At least the next time we talked after she got it, she didn't mention it.

I try to mix things up when I write to her. To keep things interesting. It might be possible to try to make things TOO interesting.

But if you get overwhelmed or scared, it's okay. Just take a breath. Relax. And if you need some help, call Batman.

It's too bad his parents were killed. I think they would have been proud of him. I think his mother might have liked him to call her "Batmom."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I can't imagine anything worse than being required to have fun.
~ Scott Westerfeld
- - - - -

I looked up "fun house" somewhere and it said a "fun house" is a place of overwhelming and painful feelings prompted by terrible, frightening, terrifying, revolting and frightfully shocking things.

How is that fun?

It certainly isn't fun if clowns are involved.  And who would walk into the mouth of a clown?!

I never want to look a gift clown in the mouth.

I never want a gift clown at all.

Monday, August 3, 2015


After all, what's a life anyway?  We're born,
we live a little while, we die.
~ E. B. White
- - - - -
Today is Erik's birthday.  Leslie asked me a few months ago if I remember the day he was born.  I don't.  I mean, I remember it's August 3rd, but I don't recall the event.  I was two.  I'm sure it was change for me.  I imagine I was okay with it.  I don't remember my mom telling me that I did anything overly negative or positive in response to his arrival.
I can't remember if I have written this before or not on the blog, but I think he probably helped me become who I am more than anyone else.  I'm not sure if I should apologize to him or to the rest of you for that.
Anyway, I chose the E.B. White quote because E. B. actually stands for "Erik Boettcher."  A lot of people don't know that.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Never look backward or you'll fall down the stairs.
~ Rudyard Kipling
- - - - -

These are the stairs that lead up to the floor where my office is.  I don't really think about them that much.  On the day I took this photo, though, they were pretty stand outish.  The light and the shadow...  It caught my attention.

And that's the way a lot of things are, I think.  We don't notice or pay attention or respond to them unless they are cast in a certain light.  Otherwise, they blend in with our surroundings and our routines.  We just don't respond to them.

But when someone shines a light in our eyes and yells at us and asks us where we were on a certain night.  Especially if we are being accused of something, well then we pay attention.  A lot of attention.  At least I do.  I don't like a light being shined in my eyes.  A light being shone in my eyes?  I don't like being in a spotlight.

And I super don't like being yelled at.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
~ Carl Sagan
- - - - -

Apples represent a lot it seems.  Health.  Temptation.  Iatrophobia. Education (or at least as a bribe to educators). 

There was a second grade teacher at my elementary school - Mrs. Chapman - who said her family was related to Johnny Appleseed.  I don't know if that is true or not.  I didn't fact-check it.

There are lots of slogans and proverbs and sayings and idioms related to apples.  Like, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."  Things related to us are similar to us.  Close to us.  Unless we live on the side of a mountain and those things roll down the side of the mountain.  In those cases, the apply might fall very fall from the tree.

Or maybe not.  It would, I suppose fall near the tree and then just roll far away

Anyway, recently Leslie shared this thought with me...  "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...  That's why I'm always saying Aurora is so beautiful."

She is funny.