A Young Lady Shuts Me Up

I was explaining this pathetic tale to my senior English class -- and I was taking the perspective that I had "accomplished the task given to me," and that my wife should not have been angry that I got a friend to buy the lingerie, but my senior girls weren't buying it: one outspoken and rather clever girl said simply, "If you assign us an essay topic, and we find a really great paper on the topic that someone else wrote, we can't hand it in to you or it's plagiarism . . . you cheated."

My Wife Admits She Erred!

Apparently, my wife has NOT been reading my blog, or she would have remembered this rule to live by . . . but instead of obeying my wisdom, she chose NOT to pack winter boots and clothing for our trip to Norfolk last weekend -- and so she spent the entire trip clutching my arm, trying not to slip on the inch of ice on the ground, which was made all the more treacherous because she was wearing cute, light-weight multicolored treadless running shoes (she also didn't pack a water-proof snow jacket or heavy gloves . . . I hope she has learned her lesson . . . and though I will admit that she looked beautiful in her wedding attire, that's no excuse for not bringing practical clothing and footwear in case of emergency).

That's Really Incredible!

Last Monday, while eating a delicious slice of porcetta (a meal that a friend of ours only prepares on Martin Luther King Day, because she has to buy the meat on Sunday and it takes a day to prepare) I reminisced with the hostess about watching classic reality TV, namely Real People and That's Incredible! . . .  and we are both dog owners, and so we were remembering the incredible tales of lost dogs who travelled cross-country to find their families and other such epic canine heroics . . . and now I have my own story to add to these fantastic tales; my dog has never touched a book and our house is full of books -- he chews on shoes and shin-guards and mittens -- but never literature, yet the other day, when I arrived home, I found one book in the middle of the room, completely eaten and destroyed, and he selected this book from a pile of books, but for some strange and incredible and miraculous reason, he selected a very particular book (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk) and the salient point about this book is it is the first book I've ever checked out from my school library -- my friend Kevin got them to order some new books that we wanted to read, and when we went down to check them out, the librarians were so happy to see us . . . they told us we didn't visit them often enough, were hoping that this was the start of a long-lasting relationship -- and my dog must have gotten some strange scent from this book from a new place, and so he selected it from among other library books, books we own, magazines, borrowed books, and used books, and tore it up; now I have to go back to the library with my tail between my legs, and use the lamest excuse in the world: my dog ate my book . . . and I know I'll put this off until the end of the year, but if I don't clear my library account, then I don't get my year end paycheck, so I'll keep you all posted on what happens.

How Much Campanology Can You Tolerate in a Novel?

I was enjoying Dorothy Sayers' classic mystery The Nine Tailors . . . but eventually all the campanology got to be too much for me and I quit reading it . . . I have only so much tolerance for information about "the casting and ringing of bells."

Coaching Trick

If you stick smelly, damp, and dirty soccer pinnies in the dryer for a bit, then they seem clean (or they seem clean to seven year old kids).

Shocking News in the World of Traffic!

I saw someone on Route 1 start to do the infamous "drive in reverse on the shoulder of a busy highway because I missed my exit and I am too lazy to proceed to the nearest U-turn" maneuver and then actually stop mid-move -- I am assuming they had a sudden epiphany and realized how stupid and unnecessarily dangerous this particular vehicular move is  -- and the car merged back onto the highway, do do a legal U-turn somewhere down the road, I assume.

Another Great Free Idea

Usually, my wife folds my laundry -- though I tell her this is unnecessary -- so this time, when she finished the load, I took the basket and threw all the clothes on our bed, and then I was able to grab the socks and t-shirts and sweat pants and other stuff that doesn't need to be folded and put them directly into drawers, and then I put the shirts and pants on hangers . . .  and so avoided any intermediate folding stage for those as well . . . but the problem with this method is that you have to do it right when the laundry gets done, and I don't know about your house, but in my house, nobody likes to put away clean laundry; even my wife -- who is perfect in all other regards -- has trouble completing this task in a timely manner.

There IS a Correct Answer to this Question

So Tuesday night at dinner, my eight year old son Alex posed this question to my wife: "Would you rather be bigger or smaller?" and my wife said, "Smaller, of course, women always want to be smaller," and then Alex said, "No, really small, like six inches, or really big, like fifty feet," and then my wife answered the question -- and she gave the wrong answer . . . so take a moment and decide which is the correct answer, and then I'll explain why one answer is correct and the other is not . . . okay, so now you've weighed the pros and cons and you're ready to see how well you've done on this very short quiz -- and, because it is only one question, you will either pass or fail; my wife said she would rather be fifty feet tall, and her reason was, "if you're six inches tall, you might get eaten by a dog," and while I can't deny that, there are many more difficulties to overcome if you are very large: mental, social and physical obstacles that could pose some real problems . . . you would have a hard time finding shelter, especially when it's very hot or very cold (my wife said, "You'd build some kind of shed for me," but judging by how long it took for me to build this shed, she'd probably die of hypothermia before I finished) and you would have a hard time hanging out with family and friends -- you'd be isolated and alienated and alone (even if you were famous) -- and you wouldn't be able to read a book or watch TV or see a movie or go to a party or attend class . . . and everything you did would be very public . . . where would you go to the bathroom? and if you got sick, it would take an incredible amount of medicine to make you well, and you'd have to eat an insane amount each day, and though you'd probably receive fashion endorsement money, it would still be very difficult to manufacture clothes for you . . . but if you were small, you could subsist on very little food and water, and as my friend Eric noted, "you'd only need to buy one bottle of bourbon and it would last the rest of your life," and though you would be reliant on people, you'd be so adorable that people would love to take you places and hang out with you and carry you around . . . you're life would be strange, but not horrible, as you'd still be able to do many of the same things you did before -- you could shrink the font on a Kindle and read a book (you could jump on the screen to turn the page) and a YouTube video on a phone would be like a big screen TV . . . and so I asked my students this question, and many of them got it wrong at first, but then they were generally convinced by these arguments to switch to the small size: did you get the answer correct?

Super Bowl XLVII: The Harbaugh Bowl or The Harbor Bowl?

Everyone and their brother has taken note of the fact that the upcoming Super Bowl is the first time siblings have met each other as opposing head coaches, but John and Jim Harbaugh are not the only noteworthy coincidence of Super Bowl XLVII . . . even more improbably, both participating teams hail from a city with a fantastic harbor: according to WikipediaThe Port of San Francisco is "one of the three great natural harbors in the world" and, if you believe the much venerated Urban Land Institute, then the Inner Harbor of Baltimore is "the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world" . . . and not only that, but the name "Harbaugh" sounds a lot like the word "harbor" . . . and so I will deem this a minor miracle, as you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried (and I wonder if Dwayne Nelson could use the harbor statistics in his foolproof NFL betting system).

I Am Not a Man

Instead of watching the Baltimore/New England NFL championship game on Sunday, my wife and I engaged in a marathon of the HBO comedy Girls . . . and the show is awesome: clever, funny, and prescient in the same way as this excellent and disturbing (if you're a guy) non-fiction book.

Dogs vs. Geese

I hate the park by my house right now -- it's muddy and full of goose-shit -- and the only way to solve the problem (without resorting to violence . . . and I will admit that violent thoughts about these geese cross my mind all the time) is to allow dogs free roam of the park, as the only thing that these geese are afraid of are dogs . . . but this might lead to a park full of dog-shit, or even worse, a headline like this: Wild Dogs Kill Four in Mexico City Park . . . so maybe I should stop complaining and just deal with the goose-shit.

You vs. Speransky

It's often surprising what can generate a good discussion in English class: last week I had the kids read a short passage from War and Peace -- which sounds like the kiss of death for getting kids engaged -- and the passage is fairly abstract, it's about master rhetorician Speransky, who "would never even think of acknowledging the idea that we all have thoughts beyond our power to express them" and I then had the kids compare their persuasive ability to that of Speransky, on a scale of 1-10, with Speransky being a ten, and explain why . . . and this led to a surprisingly lively discussion . . . it's good to think about how well you can express yourself, and how well you can influence others with words, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not very persuasive at all -- my credibility is suspect (earlier that day when someone was wondering about the difference between dandruff and dry scalp, I proclaimed: "Dandruff is dry scalp! Dry scalp is just a euphemism for people who don't want to say they have dandruff!" and I'm not sure why I claimed this, as I know nothing about either topic, and it turned out that I was completely wrong -- dandruff is caused by a bacterial infection . . . but I have a horrible habit of arguing any side of a topic -- even if I'm not passionate about it, and then I'm quick to concede that I'm wrong and often easily persuaded to the other side and I also have trouble remembering specific examples, and I'm not capable of generating a whole lot of emotion, like those teachers who can tell a class that they are "very disappointed in them and know they can do better" . . . I tried this and the kids just laughed at me . . . so I don't think I would be a very good politician . . . and, of course, when I needed persuade my students to donate money for poor children, I couldn't motivate my kids with words, I had to use this gimmick . . . and I'm also easily distracted, and apt to digress onto longwinded tangents).

They Are Probably High in Fiber

My dog likes to eat shin-guards.

If Only He Could Harness His Brain For Good

The other day my son Alex informed me that "if you say tuba backwards, it's 'a butt'"

There Is Definitely Something Wrong With Me

So my older son -- who is eight -- got a Ripstik caster board for Christmas; if you haven't seen one of these things, they look like an hourglass shaped skateboard, and you can use your feet to apply some torque on the connecting joint between the two halves of the hour-glass, and underneath, there is one wheel on a spinning caster in the front and one wheel on a spinning caster the back  . . . it is a very strange and ingenious contraption (it won the coveted Outdoor Toy of the Year award in 2007) and at first glance it appears impossible to ride, but my son -- who is very determined (and he's also a good skimboarder and skateboarder) stuck with it, and actually got quite good on it -- though my other son couldn't figure out how to work it . . . and seeing Alex zip around on his board made me very jealous, but he was using the junior version of the Ripstik, which supports a maximum of 170 pounds . . . so I couldn't use his, but I really wanted to see if I could do it -- and when I told my students about it, they claimed that it was nearly impossible to ride one --and this made me want to try it even more, and so I bought the larger model -- which supports up to 220 pounds -- and took it to the park with the kids . . . and I will be honest and tell you that I was very nervous; I knew if I couldn't master the Ripstik, that this would be the beginning of the end for me (I can remember when my brother and I starting beating our dad at ping-pong: he stopped playing with us) but I am extremely proud to say -- though I know this makes me sound mentally ill -- that after a few tries, I was able to get it rolling -- without breaking my neck -- and now I've gotten pretty adept at it: I can make it go and I can turn in either direction, and, if you like to snowboard, then I highly recommend getting one of these things-- it's a very similar feeling (and now both my children can do it, and they have no problem on the larger size, so you can buy that size as a "present" for your kids, when it's really for you).

Holes in the Loop

Not much to complain about with Rian Johnson's new time travel movie Looper -- the visual effects are gritty and realistic, Bruce Willis is still Bruce Willis (though he's a lot older than when he did my favorite time travel movie, Twelve Monkeys) and the plot is far easier to navigate than Primer . . . but it's still a time travel movie, which means when you think too hard about it, it doesn't make complete logical sense . . . I won't get into any spoilers here, but my advice is this: watch it, but don't think too hard about it . . . Bruce Willis gives his younger self the same sort of advice that Al  -- the time travelling diner owner in Stephen King's time travel novel 11/22/63 -- gives Jake Epping: "If we start talking about it, we'll be here all day, making diagrams with straws."


Katherine Boo's new book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is astounding on three levels: 1) it is a phenomenal narrative of the people of Annawadi, a tiny slum between luxury hotels, near the Mumbai International Airport, on the shore of a vast sewage lake, you follow the stories of Asha the aspiring slumlord, who escaped the clutches of rural poverty; Manju, her beautiful daughter, who is attending college; Abdul, the garbage sorter, who is the main provider for his family; Fatima the One Leg, a promiscuous and angry woman who may have drowned her young daughter in a bucket, and who lit herself on fire in order to exact revenge on Abdul's family; Kalu, the entertaining thief; Sunil and Sonu and Zehrunista and Meena . . . and their stories are by turns bleak, tragic, comic, petty, and sometimes slightly hopeful 2) it is also a courtroom drama, and you follow the criminal cases of the burning and several murders through the byzantine labyrinth and corruption of the Mumbai courts 3) it is a phenomenal work of journalism, and as you are reading the engaging narrative, there is no way not to also think about how all this information was ascertained, and Katherine Boo details this in the afterword: four years of painstaking research, living in the Annawadi slum; many many assistants and translators to help her interview the subjects; and Boo's dogged petitioning of government agencies under the aegis of India's Right to Information act, so that she could peruse over three thousand official documents: police records, court orders, public health notices, political documents, etcetera . . . if you read this book, you will never forget it . . . but I warn you, it doesn't end like Slumdog Millionaire ( and it's a good one to read if you're angry because you've just taken a pay cut, which I think many folks have . . . due to the end of the Payroll Tax Holiday, and for teachers, an increase in health care and pension payments . . . and though Donaldson Park is full of goose-shit at this time of year, it's still a far cry from a "vast sewage lake," so I'll look on the bright side of things).

Alex and I Take the High Road

The other night, I was reading my kids Daniel Pinkwater's awesomely bizarre children's book Lizard Music, and we came to the part when Victor enters the spooky lizard hut called The House of Memory, and he notices that the interior is much larger than it appears to be from the outside, and my older son said, "That's just like the TARDIS on Dr. Who," which is a perfect comparison, and so I told him how clever he was . . . and then my other son, Ian -- who is fairly competitive and can't stand it when his brother succeeds -- said, "I said that too," and we both said to him, "No you didn't" and he said, "Well, I thought of it" and Alex and I paused for a moment, and then I am proud to say that my older son and I quickly made a tacit agreement to NOT argue this absurdity . . . but, though I can't prove it, I don't think that my younger son thought that thought when he claimed he thought he thinked it.

Regrets: If You Don't Have Them You Are Dumb

I try to appreciate all that I have -- which I know is a lot . . . especially because I'm reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity -- but that doesn't mean I don't have regrets . . . and for those people who say they have absolutely no regrets and insist that if they did it all over again, they would lead their lives in exactly the same manner, I say to you folks: then you've never made any big choices and you've got a very small mind . . . I bring all this up because I recently finished the monstrous "oral history" of legendary rock promoter Billy Graham . . . Robert Greenfield organizes a chorus of over a hundred voices, from Ken Kesey to Pete Townshend to Jerry Garcia to the maitre d' at the Catskill hotel where Graham ran back-room dice games, and all these "minor" characters (plus Graham himself) paint a picture of a man who lived life larger than most -- despite his flaws -- and lived this life through some of the wildest times and places of modern America; and so I highly recommend Billy Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out, but with one caveatthere is no question that it will make you have regrets about your own life; it made me have thirteen of them, and I've posted them over at Gheorghe: The Blog if you're interested.

Another Rule to Live By

Even if you are going somewhere by car, you should still dress for the weather outside.

And I Thought I Was Living in a Democracy

My wife and I were "debating" over the placement of a piece of furniture, and my younger son Ian overheard this discussion and reminded me: "Mommy has a million votes and you have zero."

I'll Try Anything If It's Covered . . .

This Isn't Me, But It's What Happened.
This is me, several hours later.
So I guess I'm at the age where I'll let a person in white coat do anything to me: a few days ago, I went for acupuncture treatment . . . I'm hoping to alleviate some shoulder and knee pain -- and I also let the good doctor (a petite young Asian lady) do some "cupping" therapy; she lit alcohol swabs on fire and put them inside glass bowls, creating a vacuum in each, and then stuck them to my back and shoulders . . . and while the acupuncture was very relaxing (I fell asleep!) the cupping was kind of painful, and it made some reddish circular marks on my skin-- but it did loosen up my shoulders . . . and I played basketball last night, and my knee isn't swollen this morning-- though I can't tell if my liver and kidneys are stimulated (also, as a bonus, the doctor checked out my tongue, and said it looked fairly healthy -- and all this for a fifteen dollar co-pay!)

North Conway Pros and Cons

Over winter break we took a family vacation to North Conway, New Hampshire and stayed at the Red Jacket Resort, a big family-friendly hotel with a water park inside it, and -- in case you are thinking about a similar trip -- let me offer you some pros and cons of North Conway . . . I'll give you the bad news first:

1) North Conway is really far away -- do NOT believe the Google Maps estimate of six hours and thirty seven minutes . . . which is where I got directions, it is actually more like eight hours (with stops) and, oddly, Mapquest has a far more accurate assessment of the distance . . . so I learned something: those programs can offer VERY different estimates on how long it takes to get somewhere;

2) once you get to North Conway, which is nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, you would expect the traffic to all but disappear, but because of the narrow set of roads that leads through the valley the traffic is insane, all the time -- so every trip through town is like driving through downtown Manhattan during rush hour . . . which is fine if you're prepared for it, but when you are nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, this is always unexpected -- the amount of cars shocked me every time we got on the road, and I don't fare well in traffic, even if I'm prepared for it (at one point, I had to get out of the car and walk alongside it, so that I didn't suffer a claustrophobic nervous breakdown);

3) Cranmore Mountain doesn't have many signs to indicate what trail you are on, so I spent an entire day zooming down a trail that I thought was a Blue Intermediate -- which is my speed on a snowboard these days -- and every time down, I thought to myself: this is awful steep and there sure are a lot of moguls and ungroomed stuff . . . but it wasn't until the next day that I realized the trail was actually a Black Diamond, and that i was in danger of severely hurting myself . . . and by this time, though i didn't realize it, I had the flu -- so I thought I was just sore from snowboarding on moguls, but I was actually delirious with a 103 fever, which made the eight hour ride home especially awful:

but there are plenty of pros, so don't let the cons get you down:

1) the Red Jacket Mountain View Inn is a great place to stay with kids -- every hotel should have a giant indoor water park -- and my wife and I generated unbelievably dangerous speeds when we went tandem on the water slides, probably due to my incredible density . . . I really liked the fact that people were walking around the hotel either decked out in ski outfits or bathing suits -- it made for some surreal scenes;

2) the New Hampshire beer is excellent . . . I especially enjoyed the Tuckerman's I.P.A and Moat Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale;

3) North Conway has loads of great restaurants -- the barbecue at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery was excellent, and Peach's has amazing breakfast and lunch food;

4) it snows a LOT up there, which is a pro both for snowboarding and for hanging out in the water park, which is especially scenic when it snows -- but that's a con for driving home with a 103 fever.

I Did Suffer a 103 Fever!

Catherine Boo's new book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity -- a non-fiction account of life among the poor in India --  is having the same effect as this book on me, and it's making me feel guilty about complaining so much about having the flu . . . in the first few pages, Abdul -- a garbage sorter in the Annawadi slums, witnesses a boy's hand get "cut clean off when he was putting plastic in one of the shredders," but instead of complaining A LOT, which is one of the few benefits of getting your hand cut clean off -- you have the right to really gripe and bitch and moan about it for a while, because it trumps most other complaints -- but instead of claiming this inalienable right, the poor boy's "eyes had filled with tears but he hadn't screamed . . . instead he stood there with his blood-spurting stump, his ability to earn a living ended, and started apologizing to the owner of the plant . . . "Sa'ab, I'm sorry . . . I won't cause you any problems by reporting this . . . you will have no trouble from me."

Inadvertent Test

I accidentally performed a social experiment on my son Alex last Thursday night: it was soccer clinic night, and Ian was sick with the flu -- so I was just dropping Alex off . . . and he's eight now, old enough to get dropped off at something like this -- but my wife gave him the lecture about never accepting a ride from a stranger . . . or even someone he knew, if he wasn't informed that he was going home with this person -- and Alex asked a legitimate question: "What if you guys have to take Ian to the hospital and can't pick me up?" and so we told him we would definitely get a message to him that he was supposed to ride home with someone else -- maybe by cell-phone or one of us would stop by; so once we got to the clinic, Alex started playing soccer and I got to talking with the parents that I knew, and my friend Pete said that his wife Celine could drive Alex home, because she had to stay and watch her son, who was younger, and so I said, "Awesome . . . that will save Catherine a trip" and I left -- but when I got home I realized that I didn't tell Alex that Celine would be giving him a ride home -- I essentially set up the situation we talked about . . . and so we decided to see what he would do (much easier than going back to the clinic) and, of course, he got a ride home with Celine -- who he knows well, plus she's pregnant -- and you always a trust a pregnant lady . . . and when I asked him if he remembered what we talked about before I dropped him off, he thought for a moment and then laughed and said, Oh yeah" but it certainly didn't occur to him when he was getting a ride from Celine . . . and in retrospect, of course he did the right thing and accepted a ride form a close friend, but I'm also pretty sure that he's easy to abduct.

My Kids Did Not Take the Expected Journey

The Hobbit is a totally entertaining film -- though a bit over-the-top with the visual effects (especially the battling stone giants . . . did Peter Jackson really need them?) -- and now I know that if a movie is good enough, my children can sit still for over three hours, without having to urinate.

It's A Free Country Part II

In America, you have the right to put a slice of pig on your veggie burger, and you also apparently have the right to drive a twenty year old Bonneville with a plastic garbage bag as a rear window, a bumper sticker that says: "I don't believe the liberal media," and a giant wedge shaped sign protruding from the roof advertising a furniture liquidation sale . . . and you have the right to drive this vehicle thirty miles under the speed limit, on Route 1, while chatting on your cell-phone (Pennsylvania plates, of course).

It's a Free Country

Sometimes, I put a couple slices of ham on my veggie burger.

Emo Finally Defined

Ironically, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the first book I have read entirely in electronic format (on my wife's Kindle) . . . and if you haven't read the book, then you might not see the irony -- but the book is the opposite of cold digital technology, it is a sweet, sensitive, and emotional first person account of a boy's freshman year in high school -- and despite themes of suicide, sex, rape, closeted homosexuality, drugs, molestation, insanity, and depression, the book has a light touch-- due to Charlie's narration . . . and though this book has almost nothing I can relate to -- I am notoriously insensitive . . . and my children are following suit -- I am still glad that I read it (though the scene where Charlie gives the perfect present to each of his friends simultaneously amazed me and made me want to vomit) because it reminds me that some people are extra-sensitive, and it's good to be aware of this, and the book also finally defines the term that has remained undefinable: "emo" . . . although when I told my students this, they all said, "NO! Charlie's not emo!" but I think they do this to adults just to drive them crazy -- so Charlie is my personal definition of "emo" and as far as the whole Kindle reading experience . . . I am giving it a reserved "thumbs up,"  the screen is a bit small and I felt like I should have been reading a sci-fi novel or Wired Magazine, instead of a nostalgic high school favorite, but I give the device excellent marks for those who like to eat, read, and drink at the same time, as it lays perfectly flat, and you can turn the page with one hand, while eating or drinking with the other.

Sometimes It Takes A Decade For Closure

If you are frustrated by the incomprehensible school shooting Newtown, Connecticut, I highly recommend that you take a step back in time and read Dave Cullen's book Columbine -- the book took nearly ten years to write and dispels practically every assumption that was first asserted by the media about the massacre in Colorado . . . and it is an excellent reminder of the futility of trying to follow a news story in real time; I consciously avoided reading or watching anything about the Newtown shooting for this reason (and because the story was so damn disturbing) but reading about Columbine is working as a diversion -- I feel like I'm engaged with what is happening in our nation, but I'm not participating in the sensationalizing of a tragic event; unfortunately, no matter how long I wait, I may never know what made Adam Lanza tick, but Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were remorseless enough to have left behind a treasure trove of film, journals, criminal incidents, Web pages, and transcripts from the various counseling they went through, and this information allowed FBI Agent Dwayne Fusilier to paint a complete picture of exactly why the boys did what they did . . . and it had nothing to do with the "Trench Coat Mafia" or  being bullied or jocks or targeting specific ethnicities or cliques: Eric Harris was a psychopath, who believed that he was superior to all other "robots" and his motive was to kill as many people as possible  in the most terroristic, fearful way he could conjure from his unsympathetic and damaged mind, and Dylan Klebold was intelligent and sensitive, but also a malleable, seething bipolar depressive who got sucked into Eric Harris's vortex of hate  -- and though it is frustrating to read about the various strands of both of these kid's lives that indicated that the were planning this horrible event -- hindsight is 20/20, of course -- and that they were really capable of pulling it off (although if it went as actually planned, then it would have been far, far worse -- Harris was determined to rack up a bigger body count than the Oklahoma City bombing -- but his bombs didn't detonate) but Dave Cullen constantly reminds us that psychopaths are notorious for pulling the wool over the eyes of everyone around them-- especially authority figures -- as they can mimic normal human emotions, including the all important ones like repentance, guilt, and resolution, and so it would have been very difficult to separate Harris from a typical rebellious teenager who was trying to turn over a new leaf . . . but the most disturbing detail of the book isn't even about the killers, it is about the rest of us and what we desire, which may not be as violent as what Harris and Klebold desired, but it is equally as sick and weird: soon after the massacre, "tour operators were quick to capitalize . . . the buses would pull up in front of the school, and tourists would pile out and start snapping pictures: the school, the grounds, the kids practicing on the athletic fields or milling about in the park."

A Sentence with Very Little Resolve

My 2013 New Year's Resolution has me stumped -- I need to lose a few pounds, but no one cares about that, and I don't feel like restricting myself to a certain kind of food again, though that was fun while it lasted . . . and I haven't gotten too many suggestions for things I should improve in 2013 (which is odd) . . . although I do like my wife's idea: try as many new ethnic restaurants as possible (we have a plethora in our vicinity, yes, that's right, a plethora of Mexican restaurants, El Guapo, plus Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and just about everything else) but that's not really the point of a resolution, it should be something that leads to self-improvement (and I guess the Taco Count doesn't make much sense either) and I received one fairly insane idea from my friend Ed -- who was so excited that he delivered his plan by phone, I listened to his rambling monologue of my answering machine and then called him back because I had so many questions about the details: Ed thinks that I should allow one of my children -- Ian, the younger and more impressionable one -- unlimited access to premium cable TV, Facebook, Twitter, violent video games, and explicit music . . . set this child up with all these things in his bedroom, and then restrict my other child (Alex) to books, musical instruments, art supplies, and a reasonable bedtime . . . and do this for the course of a year and then note the effect on each child . . . and while this sounds like a worthy endeavor which would certainly provide fantastic sociological data for future parents, it's more of a crazy "Skinner Box" social experiment (and Snopes reports that B.F. Skinner did NOT raise his daughter in a Skinner Box) than a New Year's Resolution, which is something that I don't want to get involved in . . . I don't need any future lawsuits from my children . . . so unless someone comes up with something brilliant and quantifiable, then my resolution for 2013 is going to be "more of the same, with minor improvements" . . . I hope to be able to keep writing sentences, contribute to Gheorghe: The Blog a bit more often, finish some of the music I've been recording, coach my children, teach my students, lose my temper less, be kind and sensitive to my wife, make it to the pub on Thursdays, appreciate all the great family, friends, and colleagues that I have in my life, and finally sample human flesh.

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