In preparation for summer, Catherine depilated my back and shoulder hair with Veet hair removal cream and then I used my beard trimmer to tame my chest and leg hair, and now-- miracle of all miracles-- I can dry myself off with just one towel (instead of the usual three towel routine that I used to practice).
The music in the Canadian documentary series How It's Made is decidedly pornographic sounding, and-- oddly-- this fits the content of this wonderfully mindless "educational" show . . . as there is no end to the thrusting, riveting, pounding, compressing, and generally pneumatic action that goes into the manufacture of the featured articles . . . and the camera lingers on these activities for an extensively graphic and gratuitous amount of time, so that you can truly enjoy the rhythm and the motion of the machines, while you zone out to the cheesy techno riffs and beats.
The final lesson in Michael J. Sandel's book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets is that although a "fire hydrant with a KFC logo still delivers water to douse the flames" and "children can learn math by counting Tootsie Rolls" and fans still root for their home team in Bank of America Stadium, that doesn't mean that markets don't leave their mark . . . when ads appear in schools they undermine the purpose of education: critical thinking; when a person gets a tattooed body ad it demeans them; product placement corrupts the integrity of art . . . when everything is for sale it leads to the "skyboxification" of American life . . . we live and work and play in separate realms and this is not good for democracy . . . and so I am discontinuing my line of tampons with Sentence of Dave emblazoned on the penetrator, and instead I will try to allow my sentences to penetrate people's consciousness the old fashioned way.
If you were wondering if it's okay to allow your children to play with spearguns, the answer is: go for it! . . . because even if your kid shoots himself right through the skull, he very may well survive, as Yasser Lopez did . . . so don't deny your children the fun and good times of spear-fishing . . . and I am definitely going to give my parents a piece of my mind, because every Christmas I put a spear-gun on the top of my list, and Santa never delivered one.
In contrast to the all-encompassing logic of yesterday's post, today I will give some exceedingly specific and local advice: if you live in the New Brunswick area, and you like authentic Mexican food, then try Costa Chica Mexican Restaurant and Pizzeria . . . it's right in the middle of the barrio, on Handy Street, and everything we ate there was delicious . . . excellent chips, salsa, and fresh guacamole; tender and spicy marinated pork in the tacos pastor; great verde sauce; spicy chicken mole (although the chicken was on the bone, not a breast, but still super-delicious) and we had some kind of weird sweet tamale for dessert, which was also tasty . . . the place was loud and crowded, the waitress spoke a little English, and the chairs are especially festive and brightly colored.
Some people believe Everything Happens For A Reason, but other people are annoyed by this philosophy-- so if you'd like, you can buy a t-shirt with Everything Happens For No Reason emblazoned on it-- but logically, both these statements are identical . . . if everything happens for a reason, then nothing that happens has any greater reason than anything else . . . the fact that you spilled your coffee and the fact that thirty volcanoes erupt simultaneously on your birthday are both equivalent-- in fact, if everything happens for a reason, then everything is already determined and laid out in some sort of clockwork pattern and the universe is deterministic . . . and if everything happens for no reason, that doesn't mean that things are random and meaningless, because it's statistically impossible for every single thing to happen without reason, so it must mean that the universe was set rolling and now it's just proceeding like a column of dominoes, one event knocking into another in a chain reaction, without individual meaning . . . but possibly in some master pattern . . . so really the only interesting variant of these statements is Some Things Happen For A Reason, and Some Things Are Totally Random because that means there's something out there that can control things, and this thing occasionally takes an interest in the affairs of the universe and occasionally falls asleep at the wheel . . .
Cheryl Strayed's new memoir Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Coast Trail is the female version of Into the Wild, John Krakauer's story of Christopher McCandless (a.k.a Alexander Supertramp) . . . both hikers change their names to something apropos and both Strayed and Supertramp escape their lives in the wilderness . . . and both find that the wilderness is no place to escape-- Strayed thinks she will reflect on her mother's death, her own divorce, and her flirtation with heroin addiction . . . but all she ends up thinking about is her boots, her heavy pack, rattlesnakes, and bears . . . luckily, her story ends happily, and there is some romance along the way-- my only complaint is that Wild drags on some at the end , Krakauer tells McCandless's more epic and more tragic tale concisely, but the books are still complementary and good reads for the summer if you like to get outdoors and hike (and I am still wondering if my prediction will come true about my wife's book club).
Michael Sandel examines the inevitable corruption of ethics in a society where market mentality is pervasive in his new book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets . . . and while you may have heard that hunters can pay 150,000 to shoot a black rhino in South Africa-- and that this seemingly vile practice has actually increased the endangered rhino's population manifold, because now it's worth it for South Africans to protect the creatures from poachers-- you may not have heard that you can pay an Inuit guide six grand and he will will allow you to shoot a walrus . . . the Inuits have a walrus quota and the Canadian government allows them to sell the rights to shoot the walruses to "hunters" . . . though it is hardly a hunt-- journalist C.J. Chivers describes this practice as "a long boat ride to shoot a very large beanbag chair," and if these anecdotes disgust you and you can't stand the fact that everything has a price on it, then perhaps you should move to Finland, where they want to preserve the moral rectitude of a speeding ticket-- they don't want the wealthy to view a ticket as a simple fee to be paid for the right to drive fast, they want the ticket to be viewed as a fine that is levied because you did something dangerous and wrong-- so when you show up in Helsinki traffic court, your ticket is a percentage of your salary, and so Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki-- who earns seven million dollars a year-- was fined 217,000 dollars for driving 80kilometers per hour in a 40 km/h zone.
The high school where I teach holds their graduation ceremony down in Trenton, at the Sun National Bank Center, and every year I forget how long a drive it is to get there and how much traffic piles up around the arena . . . this year I actually did an illegal u-turn over a grass divider when I realized here was a way to avoid the long line of cars trying to make a left off of Hamilton Street . . . but though my timing in the car was off, once I got into my robe and sat down to listen to the names of seven hundred and fifty graduates, I improved: as the enunciators started their arduous task, I took a few samples, made some back of the envelope calculations-- without an envelope!-- and added my figure to the current time posted on the large red digital clock hanging from the arena ceiling . . . 46 minutes plus 12:04 . . . and I announced to the students around me that the reading of the names would be done at exactly ten of one . . . and forty-six minutes later, the last of the students lined up at the foot of the stage, waiting to be called, and I started getting nervous . . . it looked like I might be right . . . my palms started to sweat . . . one of my students said, "I think you're going to hit it on the nose" and the other students in my vicinity starting saying things like "Hurry up" and "Come on" and, though there was nothing on the line, I really, really wanted my prediction to come true . . . but, alas, there must have been some small flaw in my calculations, because the last student was announced at 12:51 . . . but the kids were nice about it and one consoled me, "That was still a really good guess."
Trilemma of Dave, I actually rested my injured knee, and I have been wearing my orthotics, which has really helped my plantar fasciitis . . . so this Sunday I was able to return to the soccer field-- with one wrinkle: I did no stretching whatsoever before I played . . . I read some recent research that suggests that static stretching actually weakens muscles, and I always thought when you were injured that you should do a lot of stretching, but I've given up on that philosophy-- not that I ever did that much stretching to begin with-- and I had no problems on the field, and both my legs and my feet felt good after the game, so this makes me very happy, because I find stretching really really boring (so now the question is, do I forego stretching when I am coaching kids? . . . I think we will warm-up and do some sport specific exercises before we play, but no more of the tedious circling up and stretching as a group).
My wife had the audacity to suggest that I ought to have gone grocery shopping yesterday afternoon, instead of taking my paddleboard out for a spin, because we had recently discussed the grocery list and the house was lacking in several basic items . . . and if she would have told me to go shopping, I would have done so without complaint, but there's no chance that I would take initiative and do something like that on my own, especially since the kids were at their respective after school programs and I had the opportunity to paddle around on the river . . . and think of what I would have missed if I went to the grocery store instead of the river yesterday: some of my best real-time content ever.
I took my stand-up paddleboard out on the Raritan this afternoon-- it's a dirty river, but the boat launch is only a couple hundred yards from my house, so despite the dead seagulls, I try to enjoy it as best I can-- and while when I paddleboard on the ocean, I hope to see dolphins and other beautiful sea life, I don't expect much on the river . . . however, today proved to be very, very different: three minutes after I shoved off from the dock, three fire trucks and an ambulance raced into the park, followed by several other vehicles; one of the fire trucks backed a small boat into the water, loaded with firemen, and they zipped past me and headed towards the nearby Donald Goodkind Bridge . . . and there were emergency vehicles up on the bridge, lights flashing, and a number of people looking down into the water . . . so I yelled to one of the firemen "What's going on?" and he told me that someone jumped off the bridge, apparently following in the footsteps of Detective Vin Markazian-- who leapt to his death off the same bridge in Season 1 of The Sopranos-- so once I found out this information, I kept paddling towards the scene, of course, despite the fact that I had to battle the wake of several boats, because when do you get to see an emergency situation on a stand-up paddleboard?-- and then a boat chugged past me headed the opposite direction, towards the way I came, so I turned and followed it: it was a small fishing skiff with a tiki hut and several corny flags flying that said things like COLD BEER and THE BAR IS OPEN and GONE FISHING . . . but it turns out this unlikely vessel fished the man out of the water, and delivered him to the dock, where he was taken into the ambulance waiting at the foot of the boat launch . . . and I find this slightly sad (and a little ironic) that whoever decided to end their life didn't have a more regal delivery from the murky waters of the Raritan, but I guess that's what you get when you jump off a bridge in Jersey . . . it's no Viking funeral, but it could have been worse . . . he could have been dragged in by a curious dude on a stand-up paddleboard (and I later found out that the man survived, and was actually treading water when the "Good Samaritan" boat rescued him).
A few days ago the Final Jeopardy! answer was "THE BESTSELLING ALBUM OF ALL TIME BY A FEMALE IS A 20 MILLION SELLER BY THIS WOMAN WHO STARTED SINGING AT AGE 8 IN ONTARIO" and I confidently yelled "Who is Celine Dion!"-- pleased that I knew she was from Canada-- and all three Jeopardy contestants also wrote down "Who is Celine Dion?" but we were unanimously wrong . . . the answer is Shania Twain, and so once again, I realize Canada is more deserving of my attention and care.
Running before work is risky, because if you get tired or injured miles from home, you've still got to get back in time to teach first period (I realized this Friday morning when I was three miles away from my house and my knee started to hurt . . . why I didn't realize it sooner and stay closer to home is a testament to my stupidity).
I carry cash, and associate this with being a man-- a man should have some green in his wallet, so he can pay quickly and fluidly, without a lot of mucking around . . . because if the shit goes down, you're going to need cash, and a man should be ready for when the shit goes down . . . my wife, on the other hand, rarely carries a lot of cash, and uses her credit card for the bulk of her purchases, and I associate this behavior with females (Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble cry "Charge it!" when they race off on a shopping spree) but I am beginning to realize that transactions these days are actually faster and cleaner if you use a credit card . . . and so it's the women who are quicker on the draw now, but despite this knowledge, I can't seem to switch over (especially for a cup of coffee at WaWa; I'll use my credit card for larger purchases, but can't pull the trigger for smaller items).
My dog bolted one time and learned his lesson . . . so last weekend when he popped loose from his collar, next to a busy road, and I told him to "stay," he did; he sat calmly and waited for me to reattach the leash-- it's wonderful, you tell him something once and he actually listens . . . on the other hand-- and this happened in the same day, making the contrast all the more apparent-- my children and I were planning on going on a family bike-ride, but they were too impatient to wait for me-- though I am clearly part of the family-- and while I was in the house getting a water bottle, they took off on their bikes, crossed the street they are not allowed to cross, and then got into a furious race with each other, all through the park-- never looking behind to see if their dad was accompanying them-- and when I finally found them, fifteen minutes later and a mile and a half away, they were still racing, weaving in and out, and Ian cut Alex off and Alex crashed and scraped his elbow, knee, and hand, and some woman stopped to tend to him, but I put an end to that and told him to get on his bike and ride home-- injured or not-- and so the dog has been earning treats left and right, but my kids have lost them for the week.
While the "super" setting on my window fan is hardly that, the "medium spicy" setting at our local Thai restaurant is absurdly spicy-- lip numbingly spicy, cold sweats in the night spicy, ring of fire in the morning spicy . . . we need a Better Bureau of Calibration for this stuff.
They have a new self-checkout kiosk at the library, so you can borrow a book without having to undergo the scrutiny of the librarian . . . now you can take out all those racy romance novels and sex manuals and hemorrhoid treatment tomes that you were previously too embarrassed to hand to the old lady at the desk, for fear that she'd make some small talk about them; I didn't go for anything particularly racy, instead I checked out Anne Coulter's newest book Demonic . . . I was curious as to what she has to say, but never wanted to be seen holding one of her books . . . I only read a few chapters, but I think I got the idea of the theme-- she creates a portrait of a typical liberal and then attacks that portrait, and in this book she paints a liberal as someone belonging to a mindless and dangerous "mob," which strikes me as funny, because-- according to Paul Krugman-- I am certainly a liberal, and maybe even a lazy progressive, but, as anyone who knows me knows, I hate mobs (unless I'm 19 years old and moshing to Primus) and absolutely refuse to take part in them . . . I get claustrophobic and anxious in large groups, hate chanting and marching, and I won't even do "the wave" at a sporting event, and so it's like an outer body experience reading this book-- as I know Coulter is attacking me, I'm right in her wheelhouse . . . I drive "the third most liberal car in America" and I think gay people should be able to get married, I think women should have free reign over their vaginas-- including the right to vajazzle-- I think drugs should be legalized, I think assault weapons should be illegalized, I think we should fund the arts, and I think the environment is more important than the economy, and-- though I am loath to admit it-- I think that I should probably be taxed a bit more and people that make a boatload of money should be taxed substantially more, so that we can make the infrastructure of this country as great as possible . . . and that probably completes someone's stereotype of a typical "liberal," and I'm sure I've got my own composite of a stereotypical conservative-- though none of the conservatives I know fit into that composite . . . Coulter occasionally attacks these run of the mill beliefs with inside jokes and sarcasm, but mainly it's this other thing: conservatives aren't the crazy racist zealous mob, liberals are! liberals are afraid of science! (unless it's evolution, I guess) liberals are the KKK! etc. and though I wish I had the patience to make it all the way through, because it's important to see both sides of the political spectrum, even the radical political spectrum, I found it much more politically enlightening to finish George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords . . . he is the conservative of the fantasy genre, concerned with realpolitik, finance, defense, and tactics, instead of happy elves.
I think the "low" and "high" settings on my Duracraft window fan are accurate, but I'm not sure if the "super" setting is warranted-- if a fan has a "super" setting, then you should be able to fly a kite indoors or dry a soggy dog in minutes, not just rustle the curtains.
Here's a cartoon idea that is too difficult for me to draw: Samuel Jackson is waiting in line at the airport security check, and there's a number of pictographs depicting the things you can't bring aboard the plane, using the classic red circle with a line through it to depict this . . . there's one banning liquids and one banning aerosol cans and one banning produce . . . and the last red circle with a line through it contains a snake.
You'd think the recent explosion in digital technology would have rubbed off on public transport, but train conductors are still punching away with those handheld hole punchers, clicking some inscrutable pattern of holes onto your ticket and every other ticket on the train . . . you'd think they'd all have carpal tunnel syndrome.
During my trip to see the collegiate sevens rugby tournament, we impressed a school bus driver into our service and tried to get her to take us back to center Philadelphia from the stadium in Chester, but the driver could only take us to the airport-- so we decided to make the best of it and retire to the airport bar . . . and Gus suggested a tequila shot called "the stuntman" and I like tequila well enough, so I agreed to have one . . . and Gus said we needed lime and salt, which always works with tequila, but when you do a "stuntman," instead of licking the salt, you snort it up your nose-- which hurts!-- and then you shoot the tequila, and then you squirt the lime into your eye (but luckily I was wearing glasses, so unlike the other "stuntmen," I didn't burn my retina).
I was walking through the park and I saw a couple of teenagers that looked like trouble-- black ski hats pulled low-- despite the warm weather-- saggy jeans revealing their boxers, surly expressions on their faces-- but they were zooming along on kick scooters and they weren't scrawny thirteen year olds, they were older teenagers . . . pushing twenty, and-- though I didn't have the heart to tell them-- once you hit a certain age, it's really tough to look like a bad-ass on a scooter.
Of my two sons, Alex reminds me more of myself-- impulsive, talkative, and just shy of smart . . . in college, my friends called me "the poor man's Galileo" because of my half-baked theorizing, and Alex is following suit; several days ago, in the midst of one of his interminably long monologues, he had this epiphany: "Dad! I know how they can let you eat the strawberries when you pick them! Because mom said we couldn't eat them when we went picking! They could weigh you before you start picking! Then they could weigh you after you're done picking! And if you gain like .5 or something, then you pay for .5 strawberries!" and I loved the idea, of course, but that's not saying much, especially since I remember back in college, when I worked for the Middlesex County Election Board in Roosevelt Park, and they had a scale in the break room-- one of those accurate old-school balance scales-- and so on Fridays we would weigh-in before lunch and then go to the all you can eat Sizzler buffet and then weigh ourselves again after lunch, and the person who gained the most weight would win ten dollars (I vaguely remember gaining seven pounds during one of these gluttonous sessions).
One of man's greatest inventions-- and I'm not being sexist here, as I am pretty sure that it was a man that designed the bikini-- is the beach . . . it's the one time that we outsmarted womankind; we convinced them to wear their underwear in public in broad daylight and all we offered in return is our hairy torsos . . . and if you've seen my back hair recently, then you will agree that we men are definitely making out on the deal.
Let me preface this by saying that my dog Sirius is a good dog, but sometimes good dogs do bad things . . . especially if there is a bunny involved . . . and so I was biking in the park with Sirius at my side, using a product called the Walky Dog Hands Free Bicycle Leash, which is an innocuous enough sounding name for what is essentially a metal stick with a bunjee cord running through it that clips under your bike seat and juts out perpendicular to your frame, but a better name for the Walky Dog Hands Free Bicycle Leash would be The Sling-Shot Canine Powered Kiss Your Ass And Your Family Good-bye Because You’re Never Going to See Either of Them Again Unless There Is An Afterlife Rocket Bike Attachment, and as we were biking along using this inaptly named product, a bunny rabbit scampered across the bike path and Sirius-- who is a good dog, but still, when all is said and done, a dog-- jetted sideways after the rabbit, putting him on the right side of two garbage pails and my bike and me on the left side of the two garbage pails . . . and so the stretched bunjee cord and the metal rod hit the cans, stopping the bike short and propelling my dog's head right out of his collar, and the two garbage pails flipped over and I shot over the handlebars of my new mountain bike (and as this happened, I thought to myself: why aren't I wearing that nice new helmet that I just bought?) and I flew through the air and landed on all fours, just like a cat-- completely uninjured, with eight lives to spare . . . a minor miracle if there ever was one-- but despite the miracle, I still had the awkward job of brushing myself off, righting the garbage cans, putting all the bottles and cans back into the garbage cans, getting my dog's collar back around his neck, getting my dog reattached to the Walky Dog Hands Free Bicycle Leash, and all the while three women at a picnic table watched me do this, and I felt like Kitty Genovese because they never offered to help me-- nor did they applaud my agility or passionately swoon at my feet in celebration of my feline landing-- instead they simply chuckled at me once I got rolling again (which I needed to do quickly, because my six year old son was ahead of me and never saw the crash, so he just kept on biking).
I wish I liked hockey, but I just can't muster up any interest in the Stanley Cup Finals . . . but I am interested in how many people that do not hail from New Jersey are familiar with the legend of the Jersey Devil . . . and do the people who don't know the legend think that the team is run by a bunch of Satanists?