The burly cashier at Stop and Shop told the dude in front of me that his total, $8.68, was a "palindrome," and that sometimes-- once in a rare while-- the total and the change are both palindromes . . . and I should point out that this guy is coaching a youth soccer team; the last time I ran into him he told me there are two kinds of bars: 1) the kind where you look for trouble 2) the kind where you don't look for trouble; he is a font of wisdom.
AC/DC if your dad likes them too.
Your Favorite Story About Dave (Fit to Print on a Relatively Tame Blog): we have to travel back to what I call pre-Sentence of Dave . . . it was summer vacation and I was pushing my six month old son Alex from Highland Park to New Brunswick, where I was meeting my wife and brother for lunch, but on the way I saw my friend's grandmother and she wanted to get a closer look at the baby, so I took Alex out of the stroller so she could hold him, and then we blithely continued on our way up Third Avenue and along Route 27 towards the bridge to New Brunswick-- it was sunny so I put up the little awning on the stroller and Alex was quiet, watching the traffic, and I was in that oblivious zone of serenity that you occasionally enjoy as a new parent when your child is content and needs nothing-- when something at my feet startled me-- someone had left a doll on the sidewalk, and I ran over the doll with the stroller and nearly stepped on it, and who would leave a doll on the sidewalk like that?-- but, unfortunately, it wasn't a doll, it was my son Alex, I forgot to strap him back into the stroller after I showed him to my friend's grandmother, and he had slid down the front of the stroller, but my vision was blocked by the awning, so not only did he slide out of the stroller onto the pavement, but he also endured a mild crushing, and after I recognized that this was my son and not a doll, I picked him up to assess the damage: he had skinned knees, and skinned hands and arms, and a skinned nose, and he was crying, but the injuries were all superficial (and superficially ugly) and I didn't have a cell phone and I didn't know what to do, so I pushed him to the restaurant, and I got some odd looks on the way there, but I knew that the only person who would know what to do was my wife, and she was at Makeda, so that's where I went, and I entered in a frantic state but my wife cleaned him up and he stopped bleeding and crying and we ended up having a fairly pleasant lunch.
here, but an old student pointed out an apparent contradiction in my outspoken doubt of all things spooky: the fact that I found this movie incredibly scary suggests that my words may not accurately reflect my subconscious.
Steven Johnson-- to explain what I am doing here at Sentence of Dave . . . though you would never guess, I am actually continuing a 17th and 18th century intellectual tradition . . . seriously . . . in Johnson's new book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, he discusses the English Enlightenment habit of keeping a "commonplace book" full of inspirational quotations, desultory thoughts, reactions to one's reading, opinions on current events, and a "vast miscellany of hunches," and most of the commonplace book keepers (such as Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Joseph Priestley, and John Locke) attempted to index their varied writings . . . but none of their indexing efforts worked as well as the internet, which Johnson believes has the right balance of organization and chaotic tension to spur new thoughts . . . and Johnson uses various "long view" examples-- including an awesome four squared grid categorizing two hundred major inventions from antiquity until now-- to show that good ideas often take a long time to form, with help from lots of different people and events, some serendipity, and often without the constraints of patents and corporations, and without the need for a single solitary genius who sees far beyond all others of his time; on the last page of his book he advises us to "go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, reinvent."
Note to self: do not eat a salmon burger before a night soccer game (and you'd think I'd have learned my lesson about heavy meals before athletic events in college, when I went to the Wendy's SuperBar before an intramural football game and stuffed my belly full of tacos and pudding, and then got burned play after play by a tall wide receiver who probably ate a banana or a granola bar or something like that before the game, and waited until after the game to have a celebratory meal) but though our adult league game was a grueling battle-- I nearly puked-- we lucked out with a Diego Maradona "Hand of God" style goal in the waning minutes for the tie . . . and so we remain undefeated at 5-0-1.
In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the characters are bound to each other both by their inherent status and by the contracts they enter-- this is what generates the conflict in the play (Shylock cannot escape his status as a vilified minority so he clings to his contract for a pound of Antonio's flesh; Antonio maintains his status as the merchant of Venice despite forfeiture, yet he will not break contract because Venice thrives on business, Bassanio has the status of a gentleman so Portia enters into the marriage contract with him despite his insolvency; Portia is bound by an odd contract to her dead father; Shylock's daughter Jessica would like to erase her status as a Jew by entering a marriage contract with Lorenzo; etc.) and whenever I teach the kids this, I start to apply the terms of status and contract to the world around me (the status of being someone's teacher is a an excellent one-- no matter how smart, famous, and powerful my students become in the future, I will always be able to say to them, "I taught you everything you know," and this is similar to the status of "coach," as no matter how far my players go in soccer, I can always say, "I got them started") and so here is my new application of the terms: the reason Governor Christie has incited so much anger and rage among the teachers of New Jersey is because he ignored (and sometimes assaulted) the status of being a teacher-- which is the reason most people teach: to be a respected individual in the community, to make a permanent connection with generations of students, and to feel as though you are doing something positive with your career . . . it's certainly not for the money-- so when he said teachers were using students like "drug mules" and that schools grant tenure to anyone "still breathing", and then immediately turned to financial and contractual issues, teachers took incredible offense, and, predictably, like Shylock, when they were robbed of any status, they clung to their contracts and refused a pay freeze . . . perhaps if he were more diplomatic with teachers about their status in the community, they would be willing to cooperate with him . . . but apparently he hasn't read his Shakespeare.
Terry's Favorite Story About Dave, and today we will tackle Stacy's Favorite Story About Dave, and this story occurred P.S.D. (Pre-Sentence of Dave) so it may a be a new one for some readers but it is essential knowledge if you want to understand The Persona of Dave, so pay close attention: after swimming a set of grueling sprints in the LA Fitness pool, I stumbled out of the water, grabbed my towel and headed for the shower-- but in my oxygen deprived state, my brain on auto-pilot, I mistook the first shower-head I saw for the privacy of the Men's Locker Room, whipped off my bathing suit and started rinsing off . . . but, to my chagrin, I wasn't even near the Men's Locker Room, I was in the public shower in the window-surrounded pool area . . . stark naked and visible from the fitness floor as well as the outside world, but thank God a dude rounded the corner from the Men's Locker Room, and his odd expression alerted me that I was doing something very wrong; I snapped back into reality, grabbed my towel, wrapped it around my recently exposed genitalia, and ran to the safety Men's Locker Room-- blushing and humiliated-- and ducked into a curtained shower . . . how I mistook the pool shower, with its lack of curtains, for a locker room shower still boggles my mind, as does the fact that if a woman emerged from the hallway, fresh from the sanctity of the Women's Locker Room, she would have strolled into a hairy naked man in the pre-swim rinsing shower and I would have lost my gym membership and perhaps my job as well.
The key to a happy marriage is this: when you hear your wife pull into the driveway, get off the couch, race to the kitchen, and start doing the dishes . . . so that when she walks in the house and says "Hello?" then you can say to her, sincerely: "Hey, hon, I'm here in the kitchen . . . doing the dishes."
So I'm eating lunch in the English office and this kid walks in without knocking-- which is totally unacceptable-- and he picks up this huge oblong case with a handle and a faux-alligator skin exterior, and I say to him: "Hey, what is that? An accordion?" and he says: "Yeah, it's an accordion," and he walks out without complimenting me on my correct guess, and-- in my eyes-- not acknowledging my guess was even ruder than not knocking on the office door because there could have been anything in that case, it could have been a type-writer or a set of silverware or a geode collection . . . but I guess that's how it is with the kids these days . . . or maybe that's how it is with accordion players these days.
My wife had a long stressful day at work on Monday (she went to the wrong school for her work shop, and then when she finally found it, it turned out to be boring and useless) and then we had to coach our K/1 soccer team (and they were especially insane, perhaps because it was Columbus Day and they didn't attend school) and then she dumped the silverware all over the floor, and then-- despite her long and stressful day-- she set up at the kitchen table and started grading papers-- and after a few minutes, I asked her what she was doing with the chicken and she said she was going to have it for dinner and then five minutes later her mistake dawned on me, and I asked her if she thought she had put the chicken in the oven and she said, "Don't tell me I left it on top of the stove," and I said, "You left it on top of the stove," and she said, "Dammit, can you put it in the oven for me?' and I did and I was glad to do it because once in a while it's nice to see her act as retarded as me.
Last Friday was one of my strangest afternoons as a soccer coach: though the sun had been out for days, our field was still a mess-- there was standing water full of goose-shit all along the near sideline-- but luckily there was a pile of sand near the goal . . . so all we needed was a way to carry the sand over to the puddles so we could fill them in; I asked my players what we could use to move the sand and one of them suggested "a wheel barrow," which I told him was a great way to move sand, but unfortunately, we didn't have a wheel barrow (and honestly, would I have even asked that question if I had a wheel barrow?) but then in a flash of coaching brilliance I realized I had enough orange practice cones to give every player two, and so we formed a cone brigade and filled the puddles fairly quickly, but apparently this wasn't the best way to warm up for the game because we gave up three goals in the first half (we were playing into a strong wind and trying to score on the muddy side of the field and they had a big fast kid with a mustache, but that's still no excuse for giving up three goals) and then we gave up a fourth goal early in the second half and I was getting ready to call it a day when we finally knocked one in . . . but 4-1 in soccer is still pretty much insurmountable (even with some wind) but then one of my players literally ran a ball into the goal with his chest and our kids realized that they could score and so we knocked in two more to tie it up, and had the ball on their goal line twice in the last minute, and you've never seen kids so happy about a tie.
Like all people, I am both intrigued and apprehensive about how others perceive me, and so-- during an office conversation on the interplay of genetics and socialization in establishing gender roles-- Terry asked to the new teacher: "You want to know the best story about Dave?" and though she didn't seem to want to know The Best Story About Dave, it was intriguing to me, because I didn't know The Best Story About Dave, and so I asked Terry to enlighten me (and I was hoping it was one of my great teaching moments or when I saved that crippled kid from the rampant bear) but unfortunately it was one of my more embarrassing moments (in a long string of them) but the point of this sentence is not to recount this embarrassing incident-- an incident that Terry had a particularly good view of, so that he saw my face when I screwed it into the grimace of an angry three-year old-- the point of this sentence is that Terry said, "And that was pre-Sentence of Dave, so you should write a sentence about us talking about what happened so you can tell the story," and I agreed that it was a good idea, just the sort of content that I put on the Sentence of Dave, but the incident was not pre-Sentence of Dave . . . it was post-Sentence of Dave and here it is.
Last week I was teaching my students the importance of beginning their college essay with an engaging opening, and I decided to illustrate this with a contrary example; I began my class with an elaborately planned weak opening: I drew an inscrutable diagram on the board, gave vague advice, asked nebulous questions, ignored students when they answered, sorted a folder, took an awkwardly long drink of water, asked a student for an example and then while they read it I rummaged through my cabinet looking for a non-existent hand-out, complained about how late the Giants game went, asked the class if anyone had gum, took a piece of aforementioned gum that a student proffered and took my time unwrapping and chewing it, sat down in my chair and took my glasses off and rubbed my face, stuck my finger in my ear and then looked at the wax while a kid was trying to talk to me, and then-- finally-- started laughing and told them what I had been doing and had them connect the way they felt during my weak opening to how a reader might feel when reading the start of their narratives (they were especially cluttered, vague and weak) and I was quite proud of my brilliance and my convincing acting skills until one girl said, "I really didn't notice anything different than normal."
Ian has learned how to work a CD player and loves to listen to music, and so I gave him my CD collection (which is housed in one of those giant black books full of plastic CD sleeves) and, of course, he found GodWeenSatan: The Oneness and played "You Fucked Up" and I had to confiscate that one; during his explorations, he had a musical epiphany-- he came into the kitchen and told me, "Different songs make you feel different ways," and then he left the room several times to queue up particular songs, and for each he reported back to me on how they made him feel: "This song makes you feel cool . . . and this song makes you feel sad . . . and this song makes you feel like you did something really bad."
I did not go to Back to School Night for my kids (since I go to school every day, I don't have to attend) but Catherine reported that Ian's kindergarten teacher likes to teach using music and movement . . . and Catherine was early, so she had a few private words with Ian's teacher, and Ian's teacher euphemistically told Catherine, "Ian really likes to move around a LOT . . . I like to have the kids learn with movement, but Ian really likes to move around . . . a LOT," and this sounds a bit ominous as far as Ian's behavior goes, but-- as I pointed out earlier-- I'm trying not to think about what goes on in that building (although my wife did advise Ian to stop illustrating the demise of Jenny Jump at school so he doesn't get sent to psychological services).
Steve Weinberg's claim that while without religion good people would do good things and bad people bad things, only religion can make good people do bad things," and then Zizek notes the violence inherent in the New Testament and he cites plenty of scripture to back this up; there are too many passages to cite them all, but here's an example from Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" and another from Matthew: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword . . . for I came to set man against his father, and a daughter against her mother-in-law and a man's enemies will be the members of his household . . . he who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" and this makes me want to read the New Testament again and see exactly what's going on in there.
As I was getting home from work last week, I caught the tail end of a message from the school nurse . . . something about my son Ian being bitten in school, and so I picked up the phone and the nurse told me what happened: my son Ian had gotten into a scuffle with another student and that student bit Ian on the foot . . . but Ian was wearing a rubber rain boot . . . so there was no harm done, either to my son's foot or his rain boot, but there must be some law where the school has to call if a child is bitten or something . . . and perhaps Ian has a little crush on the nurse because he was down there the next day as well because he got hit in the face with a jump rope handle . . . when asked about the boot incident Ian simply said, "he tasted my boot," and that confuses things further . . . is that a euphemism for something else? . . . did the other kindergartener actually want to see what Ian's boot tasted like? . . . and I'm thinking it is best not to think too hard about what goes on in that building.
ersatz balls, we found what I was supposed to bring in the first place . . . the crate of assorted balls . . . it had been in my car since the last time she needed them: last year . . . and so the moral of the story is that sometimes it is best NOT to put your balls back where they belong.
My adult soccer team improved its record to 3-0 the other night, and once again we beat a team that was younger, more fit, and more skilled than us (they were a group of Irish and British ladies and lads, and the ladies were as good as the lads/ one of them nearly nailed me with a shot in the nads) but two minutes into the game I stepped in a hole and hyper-extended my already bad knee (on a super-excellent move that froze the opposition, you should have seen it, it was graceful and explosive, until I stepped in the hole and my knee buckled and I angrily kicked the ball out of bounds and hopped off the field, muttering things about turning forty) but after some stretching I was able to return and play (though rather lamely) but my knee injury paled in comparison to what happened at the end of the first half on a fairly innocuous play in the box . . . the opposing keeper came out for a through ball and his own defender pushed our player into him and he somehow knocked his head, either on our players knee or the ground, and the play concussed him and/or hurt his neck and he could barely speak and the EMT's had to be sent for and they back-boarded him and taped his head to the neck brace and the whole nine yards and then-- after that long ugly, awkward, delay-- we continued the game but they were a man down and things had soured as far as having some fun on a Wednesday and the injured player's dad went into goal (I think his sister rode in the ambulance to the hospital with him) but then he stomped out of goal when one of our players came close to him (but did not touch him) on a play in the box and part of me was wondering: what the hell am I doing out here when I could be at home having a beer and participating in some safe activity like watching TV or playing my guitar or shingling my roof.
Last week, a large wasp found its way into my classroom and the students had the usual reactions-- panic, terror, and the rapid fluttering of arms-- but despite this flurry of activity (and my attempt to lure it out the door by shutting off the lights) the wasp landed on the sleeve of a sophomore boy . . . but he did NOT panic, he remained calm and gingerly held the fabric of his sleeve away from his arm so the wasp couldn't sting him and waited patiently until I flicked it off his shirt and then I swatted it dead with my folder (heavy from freshly collected essays) and so, for his grace under duress, the next day I presented him with what I called "The Paper Heart," an official certificate of bravery that I scrawled on a piece of scrap paper, but I'm not sure anyone got the joke.
Ionian enchantment) and the book does it by deriving fairly simple formulas from the Pythagorean theorem to show that the general weirdness of relativity (time progressing at different speeds, nuclear bombs, the universal speed limit, motion affecting size, the four dimensions of spacetime, CERN ) does make logical sense and is a helpful in creating a model of the universe that applies to more than the tiny Newtonian sliver in which we reside (and though this sentence should not be compared to Einstein's earth shattering equation, I would like you to note that I did figure out how to make the two in his formula superscript, which is a pretty damned impressive accomplishment in itself).
While we were drinking beers at the local Hooters, my friend and colleague Stacy made a confession: her first year she asked me for a clever way to illustrate and teach personification, and I recommended playing the They Might Be Giants song "Birdhouse in Your Soul" for her students . . . months later she played the song for her class and announced to the office that it was a success, and I said, "Wow, I use the same song for personification, what a coincidence," and she didn't really know how to tell me that I had told her to use the song and just figured I was a dopey, spaced out guy and then she forgot all about it and didn't remember until the other night, but now it is all straightened out and it turns out I don't even remember the first part of the incident, so perhaps I am a dopey and spaced out guy.