Weekend Wonk

Holy Mackerel

  Jerome Shea       April 26, 2010

The bala haunts me. I mean the bala shark I wrote about last week. For twenty years he has resided in our living room fish tank. Twenty years. Back and forth (or, in a daring reversal, forth and back; actually he just hangs still, mostly). Think what has happened in that time. Four presidential administrations. The fall of the Berlin Wall. 9/11. Our two kids’ growing up, suffering through their adolescence, and leaving the nest.


  Jerome Shea       April 25, 2010

Along my current running route in the Rio Grande bosque, not far from where Borghi, our late cat, rests, is a modest little stump. A foot and a half high, perhaps, and maybe seven inches across. It is not even cut cleanly through: though it definitely was sawed, the sawyer seems to have got discouraged at some point and tried again from one angle and again from another. I assume it is the stump of a young cottonwood.

Something Fishy This Way Comes

  Jerome Shea       April 12, 2010

Lately I have been thinking about fish. Maybe you should too. We pay too little attention, I think, to what goes on in the deep blue sea and even in the aquarium and the fish pond. On the other hand, what goes on may be little more exciting than watching algae grow. A case in the last point is the fish that the Sheas have: a dozen or more goldfish in the fish pond in the back yard, and our bala shark in the living room aquarium tank.

Sic Transit

  Jerome Shea       March 31, 2010

A friend died last week. But because there are so many ways to leave this life, let me be more specific. Hector Torres, my friend and colleague in the UNM English Department, was murdered. This happened because his girlfriend, Stephania Gray, had an ex-boyfriend who shot them both dead. I don’t feel constrained by the legal nicety of referring to him as the “alleged” killer, because he turned himself in the next day.

What Mac Brazel Found, or What Would We Do Without Weather Balloons?

  Jerome Shea       March 16, 2010

The Longsuffering Diana and I spent last weekend staying with friends in Roswell, New Mexico. We breezed through Roswell many years ago, but this time we discovered a little city with a lot to offer. Roswell is home to the venerable New Mexico Military Institute and to the Roswell Industrial Air Center. It boasts the Roswell Museum and Art Centre, and the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. (Don Anderson, a capable artist in his own right, and his brother Robert founded the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company.

Teacher’s Testament II

  Jerome Shea       March 3, 2010

One of the best things to happen to my teaching has been my wonking. I said last week that a writing teacher should be a writing practitioner. I don’t delude myself that my weekly wonks are high art, but I like to think they show care and craft, things that I can pass on to my students. It has given me a valuable lesson in humility, too. Try as I may, a couple of typos inevitably slip through (“Matt, can you PLEASE change ‘chose’ to ‘choose’ in the second paragraph?

A Teacher’s Testament

  Jerome Shea       February 23, 2010

I first stood on the other side of the lectern, the teacher’s side, close to a half-century ago. You will agree, I hope, that that constitutes a long ride—Lord knows how much chalk I have gone through in almost five decades—and it ain’t over yet. So, with your indulgence, perhaps the time has come for old Shea to wax profound and expansive, at least for one wonk. In all that time, what have I learned?


  Jerome Shea       February 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago Leslie Linthicum, one of my favorite Albuquerque Journal writers, did a touching piece about Spanish first names—“given” names, Baptismal names— in northern New Mexico. You are probably thinking Carlos or Juan or Miguel, but you would be wrong. No, these are names that I had no idea existed until I settled in New Mexico: Eustaquio, Dionicia, Epifanio, Procopio, Estanislao, Tranquilino, and a host of others. Why especially in the mountains of northern New Mexico?


  Jerome Shea       February 9, 2010

Interesting word, “shift.” Or perhaps I should say a word with interesting variations and connotations. “Shift for yourself” connotes a hardy resourcefulness. On the other hand, “shiftless” connotes laziness. The entry takes up over three column inches in my dictionary. “Makeshift” suggests crudeness but also ingenuity. Day shift. Graveyard shift. Shifts and stratagems. And certainly to describe someone as shifty is not a compliment. (Shift as camisole can’t possibly have the same etymology [can it?

Shifting for Yourself

  Jerome Shea       January 31, 2010

I’m driving through my neighborhood the other day and come upon an old Honda hatchback with these cautionary words soaped on the back window: Learning 5-speed Keep Distance Well, that forthright admission tickled me all the way home, where I raced to my computer and emailed Dan and his sister, passing along my find and adding, “Ah, the memories came flooding back to old Pops.” And indeed they did. I made it a point that our progeny learn to drive a stick shift, a transmission by which you have to use a clutch to shift gears.

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