Monday, November 17, 2014

Kairos in Cowing

* From Wikipedia: Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. What is happening when referring to kairos depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature.

It's not like I'm home alone reading a class assignment and blogging in a cow suit. My cat Phoebe's here. This is one of those times in the ole Cow Suit Saturday blog when I wonder if I'm absolutely nuts. Do people who are truly crazy know they are crazy? Do they care? Tonight I don't really care because we've had the first big snow storm of the season and my house is freezing. The cow suit is warm and comfy. A cold pre-winter night is a perfectly suitable time to cow.

This is the last blogging assignment for my Topics in Professional Writing Class at ISU. Moo-ray! I've enjoyed the class and the new spin it's put on how we write and in what mediums nowadays, but I need to get back to the gym.

This chapter is titled "Story Development (Argument)." I detest arguing. I'm usually good for a few back-and-forths, and then I'm done. And, definitely when it starts to get personal, I'm out. But I do enjoy reading, hearing or seeing an argument developed in a good story with a blend of our textbook's touted logos, ethos, pathos and kairos.

Sometimes I like it when my mind gets changed. I love that sense of enlightenment even if it is fleeting, and I love having the hope that if I can change my mind, others can too.

To recap, logos means logic; ethos means credibility, pathos means emotion and kairos as noted above means timing. In taking this class, I hoped to expand my writing skills to become a better technical writer but that's not really been a focus of the class.  I've been able to apply a lot to blogging and column-writing, though, so I have high hopes of monumental self-improvement as these settle into my comprehension. It's been nice to take a class with improvement as a goal and not making a grade or keeping a scholarship.

This chapter discusses the use of explicit versus implicit arguments in not only writing, but in photographs, audio and visual media As part of this chapter, our assignment is to create a podcast with a couple classmates.

I'd forgotten the chore it can be to coordinate fellow students' schedules and ideas. Who takes the lead? Who defers? How are meeting times and topics chosen?

We had a couple email threads which could be summarized by...

- Hey, we are in a group together.
- Cool. Can we talk about a topic after we all turn in our last assignment?
- Sure.

Then I sent out the following email:

Well...since I've completely used this class self-servingly to help me with my blog, I'll just throw it out there... We could meet somewhere in my cow suits, have a cup of coffee, a bagel, just gather in the SUB, a pub or anywhere and then talk about just that experience: Wearing a cow suit in public in November and anything it does or doesn't evoke from others or from within. The blog is at in case you are even remotely interested. And truly--it's just an idea. Some people are up for cowing; some aren't. It's cool. 

As I wrote that email, I crafted my words carefully. I considered attaching a link to the video below that I assembled for our previous assignment to bolster my "argument" to discuss cowing in a podcast. I could break it down as follows:

Logos: I have suits. Topic would be simple, unique & determined.
Ethos:  *I* am an expert cow & wouldn't lead you astray. Look. I've done this. You can, too.
Pathos: Don't you want a topic nailed down? Look at the smiles! Listen to the music! Don't you wanna cow? Along with doing an assignment, you could have fun!
Kairos: Tick-tock. The assignment is due, so we better hurry & decide on something.

I didn't do that, though, because I really don't want to corral people into a cow suit if they'd hate it or think it's stupid. It's supposed to be fun. I really was just throwing the idea out there because cowing is often on my mind, and it  would be a simple and unique podcast.  I made a point NOT to try to sell something if they weren't in the market to buy, but I should have made a point to communicate that I would like to get a plan in place ASAP. (As an aside, we are going to talk about how winter is upon us and all that is entailed in the cold, driving and other adjustments to life with a changing season. And despite the temptation, I will not show up to our recording meeting in a cow suit. Most likely.)

In addition to heeding the four "rhetorical appeals" above, the chapter reminds us to pay attention to the message, audience, design, medium and genre in our argument/story development. And indeed. I've been considering them in almost all of my communication lately because I feel like I'm in a constant state of developing stories or presenting some form of argument.

Audience is tricky with the dual nature of a class assignment within a blog (this particular blog) and it feels impossible to speak to them all.
(1) I'm talking to myself in the journal-esque reasons and ways one blogs.
(2) I'm talking to readers in the way that blogs could be book chapters.
(3) I'm writing to my professor who's likely got a combination of wanting to ensure I did and understand the assignment along with wanting to get the $#@! grading done.

(1) and (2) above seem near impossible in this one but I hope the earlier use of bold and italics of chapter references along with the previous class discussion at least secure a lil partial credit in my pursuit of (3)

I have hash-tagged on Twitter #alwaystimetocow and while I experience that over and over, there's #neverenoughtimetowrite.  The kairos in my cowing is always better than in my writing. With more and more practice and training now and then, I hope I can better balance the two.

I'll get right on that after the semester. And after the gym. And after I watch this collection of fun just one more time...

Monday, November 3, 2014

He's an Urban Cow Now

So, I went to junior high and high school with this guy named Jim. Jim married this gal named Nicole. I became Facebook friends with Nicole after my 20 year high school reunion, and yes, this is exactly how I began a previous blog Cows say 'Cheese'.  Nicole has been buggin' me for three years to visit them for the Urban Cow Half Marathon because, well, you know...COWS!

This was our text exchange earlier this summer:

Nicole: The Urban Cow half marathon is October 5.
Me: Ooooh. Are you running?!
Nicole: Jim is running. I hope to be cowing.

Subtle. So subtle. I adore Nicole. She is witty and smart and I swear that we spent time together in another life and whaddaya know--the Urban Cow finally worked into my schedule!

I've really only gotten to know Nicole over social media and I didn't talk to Jim much in junior high because I didn't think he was a serious enough student. Good grief. What kind of kid thinks that about her peers? Yeah. This over achiever teacher's pet right here. I'm lucky that  Jim has grown into a kind, cool and mature man (That's right--I just called Jim Bowmer "mature" ) and he doesn't hold any of my middle & high school flippancy against me.

Jim was the nicest guy in all of my middle and high school years in lil ole Pocatello, Idaho. He grew up just a few blocks from me but we never played together because I was either playing sports or studying and I imagine he was doing whatever shenanigans might resemble Huck Finn or the Goonies. After high school he went on to the University of Idaho to earn a degree in forestry, and get this--he's now an office forester. Because he's a knowledgeable & personable extrovert, he was tapped to work in Washington DC and contribute to policy and planning. He was transferred to California a few years ago.

I've loved seeing Jim's and Nicole's pictures on Facebook. With shots of pints, pets, and their favorite sports teams (the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys--COWboys. How fitting), theirs is an enviable lifestyle.

I was slated to be in Sacramento less than 48 hours. Jim picked me up from the airport in the 8th inning of a playoff game between the Nationals and the San Francisco Giants. Let's examine that for a second... Jim LEFT THE BAR and A NATIONALS GAME to come get me. This is just past kidney donation on Jim's list of selflessness. I'd had one of the crappiest weeks I'd had in a loooong time and the thought of having a few beers in a smokeless sports bar with some fabulous folks was going to be heaven.

I'd only had two Cliff bars to eat all day and by the 4th beer and 15th inning with no food, I was starting to get irritated that their stupid baseball team wasn't just getting it done. What we needed was some cow, so I left Jim & Nicole & went to my suit case to suit up.  I ran into these lovely folks in the parking lot. Apparently they don't see people throwing on cow suits in bar parking lots all that often, and after a couple questions, I extended a cheery invite for them to join me. They did!

New friends Dan & Alli

I have no idea when we finally got to Jim and Nicole's but it was after 18 (EIGHTEEN) innings and with a pizza under Jim's arm (thank God.)  We had to be up and at-em at 5:30. Mooooo!

The pictures below tell the story of Jim's Urban Cow Half Marathon race day...

The bib application is reminiscent of a prom corsage.
Jim is impressed with my desire to photo-document
his Urban Cow experience.

He relented for the photo op and is ready to run!

I was  trying to capture the porta-potty mayhem. Yowza.


ANOTHER BOUNCE HOUSE!  Notice the volunteers' skepticism here. they're willing to pose with the cow.

Nicole came over to join. We about went
rumproast-over-teakettle on this one.

If I were in college, this would be in my possession right now.

After Jim started his run, I had to find coffee, and
the rays of heaven shined down near a Starbucks.
(Note the National's hat.)

Waiting in line & playing with phones.

Nicole was soooo sweet making her way to the perfect spot at the finish line to get Jim's picture.
Once again he's earned the title...JIM'S AN URBAN COW!!

There he is! (For the record, his time was faster
han that because he was in the later wave.) 

Maybe I should run the Urban Cow so *I* can get a medal. Naaaaah!

If I were in college, this also might be in my possession now.
A couple who got engaged at the race last year.
Runners who wanted to pose with us. (This ALWAYS happens.)

I was posing to get the arch but I swear that Jim waited
until the scantly clad runner was there to snap the pic.
Jim gave me his bag! It's perfect for cowing!
(and for carrying food with me the next time
I watch a playoff game with them.)
Jim & Nicole were in a rush to get back to the bar for the Cowboys & Eagles games.
They brought their clothes with them and didn't tell me
we weren't going by the house to change.

Jim:  Whatever. The game's on.

Jim: No seriously. The game is on.
I've never been a Cowboy's fan. As soon as I learned about their cheerleaders when I was in elementary school, the lil feminist in me was like, "Nope." (Yes--I realize all NFL teams have cheerleaders, but I'm recounting the thoughts of a 10 year old here.)  I may just be a Cowboys fan now because (1) Jim likes them and I like Jim, (2) there is costume potential with their stars and my suits and (3) their stars remind me of Wonder Woman stars!  (There must be dumber reasons to like a sports team.)

As I consider a slow meandering path to becoming a fan of the Cowboys,  I consider the short, fast path to becoming a fan of Jim. It may sound trite, but I'm so proud of this guy and thrilled to know him. His journey from small city beginnings in Idaho to becoming a metropolitan professional is as quintessential American Awesome as his favorite Dallas Cowboys, ice cold beer and his (kickass) lady to love 'em both with.

Thanks to Jim for running and to Nicole for cowing... Cheers!