Cold > Heat

When it's cold and I'm tired, I fall into a deep, dreamless slumber, but when it's hot and I'm tired, I get listless and crabby and my feet swell and I want to start a land war in Asia.

Dr. Ferrari Makes You Go Faster

I knew Lance Armstrong had been involved in a doping scandal, but I didn't understand the extent until I listened to the Planet Money episode "Lance Armstrong and the Business of Doping"-- I will warn you, in case you're vasovagal like me, that there's plenty of blood in this episode, but I learned plenty: cycling is a team sport, so not only did Armstrong have to use the services of the aptly named Dr. Ferrari, but so did his teammates-- it was just as important that their blood was super-rich-- and this required a large-scale cover-up, plenty of subterfuge, and a code of silence . . . but there is a silver-lining, it seems that large-scale doping may have been curbed a bit recently, as winning times are much slower than they once were . . . but it's only a matter of time before the riders figure out some other way to super-charge their bodies; anyway, if you're not familiar with the specifics of the scandal, this is a good place to start.

Words of Wisdom from One Sibling to Another

My older son gave this piece of advice to his younger brother: "You can't really make yo'mama jokes to me because we come from the same mother."

When You're 46, Jargon > Slang

While it's embarrassing and cheesy for folks over thirty to use the lexicon of the youth-- I try to never use slang in front of my students unless it's obviously ironic-- but I did learn some excellent terms that I can sprinkle into conversation this week, I picked them up while listening to Vox's super-wonky policy podcast The Weeds:

1) dark fiber . . . is not bran cereal, it's a term for fiber optic cable that is not being used-- no light pulses are going through it, so it's "dark" . . . during the dotcom boom, shitloads of fiber optic cable was laid, and then the bubble burst, but the infrastructure was in place, just "dark";

2) shadow inventory . . . is not a bunch of captured souls in Satan's warehouse, it's the properties in the real estate market that are in foreclosure or haven't been listed because people are waiting for the market to improve, and this makes it difficult to peg the supply because there's al this inventory in the shadows, lurking . . . this reminds of the the term "overhang" in the diamond market, which refers to the massive amount of shadow inventory that prevents used diamonds from being worth anything near what a new one costs;

3) decouple . . . we're not talking trains, we're talking about decoupling health care from employment, which has its pros and cons, but mainly pros-- which is why most first world nations do it that way . . . anyway, while I won't be using any of the new slang words I learned in the near future (although once I turn seventy-five, I'm using all the youthful slang, because nothing is more hysterical than a really old codger claiming "this shizzle is off the hook") but I'm certainly going to try to work this new economic jargon into my daily conversation, preferably, all in one long intimidating sentence.

The Test Turns 50!

This week on The Test, Cunningham teaches us a lesson about finishing strong-- not only does she quiz us on the closing lines of some famous novels, but she also finishes the episode with a rousingly inspirational peroration . . . Stacey and decide that we prefer to start like a ball of fire and then fizzle . . . and that's exactly how we perform on this test.

New Slang (for Dave)

I've learned a lot of new slang in the past two weeks, from both the youth and the elders of society:

1) mansplaining . . . this is when a woman explains something and no one listens, but then a man explains it the same way, but LOUDER and people pay attention;

2) cut a bitch . . . as in "if this shizzle continues I may have to cut a bitch," which indicates that all other methods have been exhausted and the only alternative may be violence . . . I'm not sure if you can substitute "bee-otch" for bitch in this idiom;

3) lit . . . this means "off the hook" or extremely fun and excellent, as in "that party was lit" or "that eight AM literature seminar on The Great Gatsby was lit"

4) PMS . . . is an acronym that stands for Pointless Man Speculation . . . e.g. this blog;

5) shipping . . . is the desire to put two people (fictitious or not) in a relationship and I have no idea how to use this one in context . . . apparently it happens in fan-fiction, but I heard it used to describe reality . . . and you can "ship" for people to get together, so-- perhaps-- we were shipping for Mr. Burns and Smithers to finally get together?

Layers and Layers of Layers

"The Good Wife's Guide," an article in the May 1955 edition of Housekeeping Monthly, has been floating around the internet for many years-- you may have come across it-- but if you haven't, the article features eighteen tips on how to keep your husband happy . . . here are a few telling excerpts:

1) Have dinner ready;

2) Prepare yourself . . . touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair;

7) Prepare the children . . . minimize all noise;

14) Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night;

16) Arrange his pillow and speak in a low, soothing voice;

17) Remember he is the master of the house;

18) A good wife always knows her place;

and if this advice sounds absurdly chauvinistic and sexist, to the point of being satirical, that's because it is: there's never been a magazine called Housekeeping Monthly and the article is a hoax-- though many people don't know this (including, apparently the history department in my school-- one student of mine said they did a detailed analysis of the article as a historical document and the teacher had no idea that the article is an internet meme) and I think this is because so many people want to believe the article-- liberals want to use it as a document that concretely and definitively shows the oppression of women and their rights and intellect, and conservatives (check the comments on the link to the article, they're excellent) like it because it reminds them of a past that never actually existed . . . while women's rights has come a long way, Lucy's desire for true equality might be a more accurate depiction of the sentiment of the time . . . but what I really wonder about the piece is if it is liberal propaganda or conservative propaganda-- was it created by a feminist to sow discontent or was it created by a conservative with nostalgia for family values . . . or perhaps it was it created by someone with a great sense of humor; after teaching a lesson about these issues yesterday, and using the hoax-article (the kids were properly appalled, and some of them thought the article might be a fake . . . except for the kids who studied it in history class) while I was driving home, I saw a "Republicans for Voldemort" bumper sticker and had exactly the same layered epistemological-ontological thoughts-- was that bumper sticker made by a Democrat for other Democrats, to disparage Republicans, or is it a fun and ironic way to celebrate being a Republican . . . or is Voldemort actually a Democrat, and these Republicans for Voldemort a vocal minority?

Holy Sweet Mother of Nipple Miracles

Everyone who reads this blog is aware that miracles bestow themselves upon me with incredible frequency, and so it will be no surprise that when I walked into the English Office yesterday morning and one of the female teachers-- who will remain nameless-- said to me "That's it! I can see your nipples again! I've been biting my tongue since September, but every morning when you walk in here-- maybe it's cold outside-- but your nipples are hard and poking through your shirt!" and this started a large-scale-nipple-dialogue with the other teachers in the room and we determined that women have to worry about protruding nipples but men do not (someone remarked that the teacher that made the comment about my nipples had thought far more about my nipples than I ever had . . . because men don't worry about their nipples) and this coincidentally tied in to the Susan Sontag essay we were reading in class, called "A Woman's Beauty: Put Down or Power Source," because Sontag claims that beauty is an "obligation" for women and that they are taught see their body in "parts, and to evaluate each part separately . . . breasts, feets, hips, waistline, neck, eyes, nose, complexion, hair, and so" and they need to fretfully and anxiously scrutinize each of these-- and protruding nipples are verboten-- while in men good looks are "taken at a glance" and have to do with the "whole" and so after we read a bit of Twelfth Night, where Olivia expresses the same sentiment, then I showed the class the infamous Mean Girls clip, where Cady learns that there's far more than fat and skinny, and that your hairline can be weird, you can have man shoulders, your nail beds and your calves might suck or your pores might be too large . . . and I had forgotten-- miraculously-- that the scene starts with Regina's mom and her boob job (they're hard as rocks) and her incredibly sharp nipples, that stab Cady . . . bringing the discussion full-circle: a miracle in every way, shape, and form!

Dave Uses His Phone-Camera-Device!

It was 6:30 AM and I had just finished getting dressed for work, but when I passed by my son Ian's room, I noticed he wasn't in his bed-- instead, he was sitting in a laundry basket, ostensibly staring out the window, and since he's usually still sleeping when I leave for work, I wondered if this was a normal early-morning-ritual (he looked very meditative, especially with the early morning sun streaming through the window) and so I asked him if he normally pondered the oncoming day from the comfort of a half-full laundry basket-- which I found rather creepy, especially since it appeared he was going to be sucked into the light (run to the light, Carol Ann!) but it was something much more mundane: the laundry basket happened to be in front of his bookshelf, and he wasn't looking out the window in a contemplative state, he was perusing his collection of books, deciding which to read in bed, because he had woken up so early.

Running Cost-Benefit Poop Analysis

The more intricate the treads are on your fancy running shoes, the more difficult it is to remove the dog poop.

The Test 49: Where Do Bad Folks Go When They Die?

This week on The Test, Stacey challenges Cunningham and I to ponder seven existential questions, and Cunningham decides this is her "most favorite test" and that she wants to discuss these topics exclusively . . . then she promptly forgets the question and thinks she'd like to relinquish control of her free will; Stacey considers spooky stuff and I offer my unadulterated opinion of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and then we out our heads together and figure out the meaning of life (pretty much).


Sports Don't Build Character: They Reveal It

Yesterday, we played a team that slaughtered us 6-0 two weeks ago, and we were missing two of our best players-- both goalies-- so I wasn't particularly hopeful about our chances, but we packed it back and played everything to the outside and my son Ian played goalie in the first half-- he was very excited for this assignment and we went to the field early and trained (because he hadn't played goalie all season) and he played fantastic, and our defense picked up everyone goal-side, and then our other goalie played even better in the second half, but we were taking a beating; they were bigger and faster than us, and had a habit of kicking, tripping, and running us over from behind, and we went down 1-0, even though we were producing lots of chances, and then-- in the second half-- we finally finished one and tied the game and we were excited and pushing hard to score another and my son went down hard -- and this was the second time in the game that he got fouled so hard that he was seriously crying, real tears, and he's a tough kid who generally gets hammered because he dribbles too much and deals with hard fouls every game--  but for the second time one of their players kicked him from behind, this particular time he beat a kid on the dribble and the kid teed off and kicked him in the back of the knee and then kicked him in the head after he went down-- and so I lost my temper, which admittedly should not have happened-- you're supposed to keep your cool in front of the kids-- but the opposing team was consistently hurting my players, so at least I had good reason, and I told the ref and the opposing coaches that their team's behavior was disgraceful and the other team's coaches told me that if my players "stayed on their feet" and stopped "flopping" then there wouldn't be any problem and then things got chippy and ugly and the game ended up a tie, which I thought was a fantastic result, especially since we far outplayed them and there were six or seven totally ugly fouls committed by the opposing side, with no direction to do otherwise by their coaches (despite the fact that whenever my kids foul, my assistant and I pointed out the problem . . . and the last time we played this team, they were equally as rough, but that ref really took charge of the game and told kids what they were doing wrong . . . this ref called some fouls but didn't really take charge) but this is all run-of-the-mill stuff, HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART, the part of the story that made me more and more indignant as the day went on, though I was laughing about it when it happened: after the game, the the player who scored for us-- and I can't impress on you how small this kid is, he's the smallest kid on our team, and we have a small team-- he was shooting around with my son and some other players and the ball rolled behind the goal and the opposing head coach, who was next to his car, about to leave, picked up this little kid's ball-- and the kid was walking toward the coach to get the ball (a new ball he just received a week ago for his 11th birthday) and instead of rolling it back to him,  or passing it back to him, or even just leaving it, the head coach picked up the ball and he PUNTED it as far as he could, over the high fence and deep into the dog park . . . and this opposing team hails from the town where I work, a large and fiercely competitive soccer town-- so cheers to the Vultures, your valiant draw made an adult behave like a complete and utter idiot.

Nine Point One Thumbs Up For the New Radiohead Album

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead's new album, is an easy-listening-electronica-opera, and it manages to sound like a missive from the future, without sounding like sci-fi . . . I love stuff that actually sounds like science-fiction-- The Crystal Method's Vegas and everything by Underworld and The Future Sounds of London and, of course, OK Computer-- but this album is beyond that: it doesn't sound like the present reflecting on how music in the future will sound, and it isn't didactic-- it isn't music that reflects the direction the future is (hypothetically) headed . . . in other words, it doesn't sound anything like Kid A . . . the sounds decay, the lyrics repeat, and every note has some extra production subtly attached to it . . . and if you don't believe me, check out the Pitchfork review . . . I don't know how they come up with the decimal, but they gave it a 9.1 out of a possible 10.

Dogs Like to Eat Cactus?

My dog rarely chews up anything, but when he does, it's alway something special:

1) he chewed up this;

2) and these (but he hasn't done that for a long time)

3) and my Vibram Five Fingers (good riddance)

4) and a live mole, that he flushed out of the snow in Vermont

and most recently, he chewed several pieces off my cactus, but he didn't eat them-- instead he left them in the cushions of the couch . . . I can't wait to see what he chews up next!

Political Paradox of the Week!

American conservatives tend to be against abortion, but they also tend to be against paid-maternity-leave . . . if there's anything upon which bizarro-world candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should debate, it's this bizarro-world American paradox-- America has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, yet we are on the short list (with Oman and Papua New Guinea) of countries which offer no paid-family leave . . . from a logical standpoint, these two policies shouldn't exist in the same country . . . America . . . love it or leave it.

Notes to Future Self

We watched the time-travel movie Primer in philosophy class last week, and while the plot of the movie is close to incomprehensible (although there are plenty of explanations out there on the internet . . . but those are incomprehensible too) the central premise is easy enough to understand; Abe and Aaron keep looping back in time, in a rather short span, and they screw with their future selves-- Chuck Klosterman calls them "ethical Helen Kellers" . . . and this makes a terrible mess of their lives, their relationships, their careers, and their physical well-being; this leads to some mundane questions which we all need to address-- because we are all slowly traveling into the future:

1) how should you ethically behave towards your future self?

2) what do you owe to your future self?

3) are you your future self? 

4) is your future self someone else?

and while my philosophy class had a great time with these questions (and my examples . . . Past Dave decided to get a tattoo of a giant lizard ripping out of Past Dave's shoulder . . . he had very little consideration for Future Dave, but-- on the other hand-- Past Dave started diligently practicing the guitar in his twenties and travelled around the world, giving Future Dave some rudimentary musical skills and some vivid memories of the Middle and Far East . . . and so you should realize that when you go for a run, you are helping out your future self, but when you drink a bunch of beer and eat a cheesecake, then not so much) and this finally led us to a very weird place, because the newest findings about human memory conclude that every time we recall something, we alter that memory slightly, and our cells and tissue are dying and being replaced all the time . . . and so our Future Selves really are quite different than our Past Selves-- in a sense they are a person only tangentially related to our Present Selves . . . and so it is difficult to be super-concerned with them, yet we know if we start saving money now, or learning Japanese, then this Future Person might really benefit, and this logic finally leads to the Ship of Theseus thought experiment and the ultimate question: is this Porsche really a Porsche?

Double Dipping

I tried my darndest to get a decent (yet discreet) workout at our last faculty meeting-- calf raises, leg lifts, chair dips, wall sits, and lots of plyometrics-- and while it wasn't the most comfortable way to exercise, I was still paying closer attention than the people poking at their cell-phones.

Nocturnal Semantics

The opossum is certainly a synanthrope, but still generally reclusive and nocturnal, and so when the dog and I saw a mottled stiff tailed creature ambling across the road this morning, it took me a second to realize it wasn't a very ugly cat-- and then I wondered what it was doing up at this hour, and if a nocturnal creature is up early in the morning, walking groggily, does that mean it's up early or has it stayed out far too late late?

The Test 48: What Is It Based On?

This week on The Test, we learn that some stuff is based on other stuff, and that stuff might even be based on something else . . . and Cunningham nearly cries and Stacey-- right or wrong-- is nothing but confidence; as a bonus, there is a debate about who is better looking: Tina Fey or me . . . so play at home, keep score, and see if you can do better than "medium."

Interest in Pinterest . . .

I'm going to come clean and admit that last week I went on Pinterest-- several times-- to look at ways to hang planters by a bay window-- ostensibly this "research" was for a Mother's Day project-- but the fact of the matter is that I really enjoyed browsing the indoor plant ideas on the site, and now I want to build a "plant wall" in addition to hanging some plants, so I guess this means I'm transitioning (not that there's anything wrong with that) or maybe I've hit menopause . . . anyway, I'll keep you posted and as soon as the project is done, and I'll put up a picture (maybe I can even put a picture on Pinterest!)

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.