Can YOU Hear the Hum?

Not only have I never heard "the hum," but until a few days ago, I had never heard of the hum . . . but apparently-- according to this New Republic article by Colin Dickey-- the hum is a constant noise that by some estimates two percent of the population experiences, a thick low inescapable buzzing sound that makes some people depressed and crazy . . . which is totally understandably, my son was bouncing a ball in his room the other night for ten minutes and I nearly cracked; the hum might be due to tinnitus, but no one is sure and there's not an exact correlation with people who experience ringing of the ears, and there haven't been many experiments to find the source of the hum, so the jury is still out, but geophysicist David Deming believes it might be a result of very-low wave frequency (VLF) aircraft communication with submarines, as these waves can penetrate most anything . . . anyway, the real question is: can YOU hear it?

Highs and Lows of our One Night Trip to Philly

Considering we were only away for one night, our trip to the City of Brotherly Love had plenty of highs and lows:

1) listening to Steve Buscemi's audio tour of Eastern State Penitentiary was spooky and excellent-- and the kids really enjoyed the ruined ambiance, the haunting anecdotes, and the punishment cells . . . plus, I coerced my son Alex into asking me if I believed in ghosts;

2) after touring the penitentiary, we decided to eat at Bridgid's instead of Jack's Firehouse-- both are great places and Jack's is right across from the jail-- but when we got to Bridgid's, we learned they were serving brunch . . . yuck . . . nobody in my family even deigns to say the word "brunch," let alone eat it and so we turned around and walked back to Jack's and they were serving brunch . . . but this turned out to be fine, because they had regular lunch stuff on the menu as well as brunch stuff, and my kids were highly amused by the finches that kept sneaking in through the big firehouse doors and stealing cornbread;

3) on the ride to Philly we listened to stand-up comedy, something my older son has gotten into lately-- and I tried to turn him on to Steve Martin and Steven Wright, but those early comedy albums aren't recorded all that clearly and the compression is terrible so it's hard to hear the jokes and then if you turn up the volume, the applause and screaming between bits blows out your eardrums;

4) we settled on Jim Gaffigan, he's funny, my son loves him, his voice is crystal clear and his albums are not only family friendly, but he also makes plenty of jokes about hotel rooms and hotel pools, which was perfect, since we were staying in a hotel with an indoor pool;

5) just as Jim Gaffigan predicted, the hotel pool was kind of gross-- it was a billion degrees in the pool room, too hot to lounge and read, and there were some very young kids in the pool, who would have probably urinated into the water if they weren't so dehydrated from the heat;

6) my kids loved Rocket Fizz, a store full of weird candy and "gourmet" soda-- Alex got a grapefruit pop that was tolerably good, and Ian got some sweet marionberry concoction called Martian Poop, which he had trouble finishing . . . but he kept the bottle as a souvenir;

7) we had been walking all day, and we kept on walking-- we started in the museum district (we were staying at the Sheraton) and went all the way down Arch Street, through the old city, out to Penn's Landing and then down to this new spot, Spruce Street Harbor Park, which was full of food trucks and corn hole and giant chess and hammocks and live music and weird hanging lights and would have been fun, if it wasn't insanely packed with people, and so we kept on walking, to South Street and ate at a place called Nora's which had decent authentic Mexican food and incredibly authentic Mexican weather (I sat next to the little portable air-conditioner which was maintaining between 86 and 85 degrees) and I was slurping down lots of their super-spicy churrasco salsa so my balding head was covered with droplets of sweat which my son said looked like "warriors ready to do battle in a forest";

8) after ice-cream on South Street, we took our first family Uber and the driver was super nice and full of information and she arrived quickly, which was fantastic because it was starting to rain;

9) the kids were happy watching a Harry Potter marathon and I was happy to pass out at nine;

10) I was not happy to be awoken at 1 AM by my wife, who told me I needed to find a 24 hour pharmacy and get my son allergy medicine and ibuprofen, because he had a terrible earache-- I blame the gross pool-- and I was less happy when I found a Walgreens and it was closed and then I walked a long way in the rain to a Rite-Aid, and then couldn't get the Uber app to work on my wife's phone, and so I took a regular cab back to the hotel . . . the driver was indifferent;

11) the medicine worked and my son passed out, but I couldn't fall back to sleep-- probably from all the stimulus of walking the city streets late at night-- lots of sketchy folks, drunk people, and restaurant workers finishing the late shift;

12) the hotel pool was closed Monday morning, and so the hotel gym was overrun with kids-- I bailed on my workout after a few minutes;

13) we had trouble finding a spot for some breakfast food and finally settled on Dunkin' Donuts-- yuck-- and the stools were all taken and my son Alex sat on the floor and started eating his Boston creme, until we explained to him that if you're civilized, you usually don't sit on the floor of a grubby chain restaurant in a major city and eat donuts-- Alex is twelve years old, so you'd think he'd know this;

14) we had a great time at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences . . . it's not the Museum of Natural History, but it's still full of great stuff-- and the film on how they make the museum dioramas is worth the price of admission-- there are zero bones in those stuffed animals-- and we got to see a possum up close and personal, they are perhaps the most ugly misshapen mammal in North America (and yes I considered the armadillo in that calculation).

The Test 51: Dave Does a Song Quiz?

This week on The Test, after weeks of fanfare, I finally unveil my first song quiz, and while I make my case on how it is far better than any of Stacey's song quizzes, empirically, this may not be the case (as the ladies discover) but despite the problems, we still have a good time-- see if you can figure out the overarching theme from the seven clips (and as a bonus, I reveal my plans for season two of the show).

Textbooks Matter

I've been binge-listening to all the old episodes of Vox's policy podcast The Weeds-- and while I'm not sure if I'm retaining all that much, I am learning how little I know about how government policy works-- which is always the first step in getting smarter-- anyway, this episode taught me about a Brookings Institution study by Thomas Kane that finds that good textbooks are clearly linked to academic success (especially in fourth and fifth grade math) and buying new textbooks is an easier solution than replacing mediocre or poor teachers with better teachers-- it's much harder to find good teachers and/or train them, and firing bad teachers takes time and resources-- and the gains from having a good textbook are significant, as Kane explains:

student achievement would rise overall roughly an average of 3.6 percentile points . . . although it might sound small, such a boost in the average teacher’s effectiveness would be larger than the improvement the typical teacher experiences in their first three years on the job, as they are just learning to teach . . .

which is a HUGE gain, because the difference between a first-year teacher and third year teacher is the difference between pandemonium and order; I also learned all about the new education policy that replaced No Child Left Behind in this episode and why there might be less standardized testing in our future. . . and this article is a nice summary of some of the lessons learned from what didn't work with the previous national education policies . . . and the takeaway from this rambling sentence is that you've got to feel dumber to get smarter.

Higher and Higher Dudgeon

Nothing puts me in a higher state of dudgeon than having to look up exactly what "high dudgeon" means (and now that I know what it means, I'll be using the phrase to put other people in a state of high dudgeon at my overbearing prolixity).

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!)

Like Father, Like Son

My son Ian had to write a "bio" poem for school-- and at first I thought this meant a "biology" poem-- but he told me that didn't make sense . . . although there is a great poem about biology called "Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes," and this is a very short poem so I will insert the entire thing inside this sentence:

Adam/ Had'em

but for this assignment, "Bio" is short for "biography" and Ian chose to write a "bio poem" about our dog Sirius, and not only is it fabulous (it even contains a pun, of which he is very proud) but it's also exactly one sentence long, and so I can append it to this rambling run-on:

Sirius the dog
Wishes to have a juicy, chewy, tasty steak waiting for him,
Dreaming to have a elongated beautiful tail that he’s missed since he was abandoned,
Who will never ever run away and if he does he’ll always come back,
Who wants to always to help the world around him,
Who wonders if he will ever get some shuteye on the couch with permission,
Who fears flowing water and being abandoned again,
Who likes falling snow, people, and tons and tons of food,
Who believes he can do anything and everything he desires,
Who sees us as a family that cherishes him,
Who adores me, Mom, Dad, Alex and everyone, except the evil poodle that lives down the street,
Who plans to live with our family until the world comes to an end,
Sirius, Sirius Black the bunny dog with a stub for a tail.

TV Stuff Part II

To continue yesterday's thread, the only TV I have been watching is The Office . . . my kids love it and I barely remember it, so we're going through them all-- we are on season three; in between laughing, during the awkward parts, I think most people invariably determine who they are in the office . . . which character on the show is the best parallel of their work behavior-- the first thing you need to do is eliminate Michael Scott (although if you're Michael Scott, then you don't know that you're Michael Scott) and while I can definitely be inappropriate and insensitive at times at work, I'm not as unaware as him and I'm not as dumb, and I'm pretty sure I have real friends and an actual wife and family-- I haven't photoshopped my face over someone's ex-husband so that I appear to be on a ski-trip with her and her kids-- and I hope people respect me a little bit more than they respect Michael Scott . . . and while I wish I were Jim Halpert, because everyone aspires to be Jim Halpert: funny, sensitive, witty, charming, understated, occasionally malevolent, but with a heart of gold, etcetera . . . unfortunately, I'm not him either, in fact-- after some candid self-reflection-- I'm pretty sure people at work see me as Creed (and this isn't even considering the ladies . . . I'm sure lots of women would like to be the Pam, not the Kelly, Phyllis or Angela . . . or -- God forbid-- the Meredith).

Medium Apostrophe

Sometimes I complain that there are too many good TV shows and it's impossible to keep up with everyone's recommendations, but that's not a complaint, it's actually the opposite of a complaint, it's a compliment . . . so great job TV, you've become so excellent you've completely overwhelmed me, to the point where I don't watch you at all.

Dave Gets Smart

I have finally entered the world of the smartphone, and it's awesome-- I did it on the cheap: I purchased an older model Samsung Galaxy and put a 64GB memory chip inside it, and I'm using Ting as my service provider and not using any data-- I only download stuff when I'm using wifi-- so the bill is 12 dollars a month (six dollars for the device, three for calling, and three for texting . . . if you want to sign up, refer me and I get some credit) and I'm paying for Google Play music, so I can download anything I want to the phone . . . here's what I have on there so far:

1) Underworld 1992 - 2012;

2) The Black Album Jay-Z;

3) Natasha Leggero Coke Money;

4) Pavement  Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain;

5) Gorillaz Demon Days;

6) The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime;

7) Underworld Dubnobasswithmyheadman;

8) Lewis Black The End of the Universe;

9) Wu- Tang Clan  Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers;

10) The Crusaders  Free as the Wind;

11) John Scofield  A Go Go;

12) Kendrick Lamar  good kid, m.A.A.d city;

13) Grant Green  Green is Beautiful;

14) Deerhunter  Halcyon Digest;

15) Squarepusher  Hello Everything;

16) Maria Bamford  How to Win;

17) Nas  Illmatic;

18) Wilco  Kicking Television Live;

19) Radiohead  Kid A;

20) Spoon  Kill the Moonlight;

21) The Pharcyde Labcabincalifornia;

22) Kanye West  Late Registration;

23) Kanye West  The Life of Pablo;

24) Future Sounds of London Lifeforms;

25) Natasha Leggero Live at Bimbos;

26) Toddy Barry  Medium Energy;

27) Massive Attack  Mezzanine;

28) Depeche Mode  Music for the Masses;

29)  John McLaughlin  My Goal's Beyond;

30) John Mulaney  New in Town;

31) Iggy Pop  Raw Power;

32) Jesus and Mary Chain  Psychocandy;

33) The Flaming Lips  The Soft Bulletin;

34) Run the Jewels;

35) Dave Attell  Skanks for the Memories;

36) LCD Soundsystem  Sounds of Silence;

and a bunch more stuff-- I'm getting sick of listing all this, but the list is heavy on female comics because I'm looking for bits when I teach Ibsen's A Doll's House and it's heavy on hip-hop because I can't listen to that stuff in the house . . . anyway, I'm in audio-overload mode, and I haven't even listed all the podcasts I've subscribed to on Podkicker!

Sears Catalog = internet

I have a friend who sells things on eBay, and not just old stuff-- she'll actually bargain-shop and buy new stuff and then flip it on eBay for profit . . . and while this is a savvy use of markets and technology, it's actually nothing new, just an incremental increase in the accuracy of the "fair market value" of goods for sale in the United States . . . and, according to Robert J. Gordon, in his fantastic and comprehensive new book The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War, the great leap forward in fair pricing and markets happened in the early 1900's-- as did many of the other impossible to reproduce leaps forward in technology-- when the Sears catalog become readily available (and free shipping on the items therein) because then these consumers were armed with pricing information from the catalog, and no longer beholden to the often unfair prices given at general stores-- so the Sears catalog was essentially the internet of its time, an incredibly informative piece of technology, and the concurrent adoption of the car (especially the affordable Model T) allowed people to roam far and wide, in search of fair prices for what they were buying and selling . . . so while my friend is in a sense a "fair market price hero," making the price of goods of services across our country more accurate, allowing someone in backwoods Arkansas to enjoy the low prices of a surplus of goods at a TJ Maxx in densely populated central New Jersey, we're only talking about a slight adjustment (and the convenience of shopping at home) and-- which is the thesis of Gordon's book-- there will never be a leap forward in market information as great as the one created by the innovative, earth-shattering inventions of the early twentieth century-- catalogs, cars, and even city department stores . . . but not having to get in the car to buy stuff is still pretty amazing, whether by internet or Sears catalog.

The Test 47: Opening Lines

This week on The Test, Cunningham quizzes us on the opening lines of seven famous literary works . . . and there's also sitcom nostalgia, ukulele aspirations, and plenty of zombies . . . so give it a shot and see how you do.

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