Saturday, June 04, 2005

Love Letter

To the driver of the gigantic brand-new Lexus that I was behind last night:

Isn’t it a pity that you spent god knows how much on that behemoth of a luxury SUV, and yet you still feel that you need to slow down to near-stopping to drive over a three inch high speed bump? Was it embarrassing to be passed by a guy on a bicycle?


Friday, June 03, 2005

Oh, Brother...

My brother is seriously damaged.

He sends me links.

I have to pass some on to you.

Best of the best - This music video might be something you will enjoy, but perhaps it would be besst to wait until you get home. It's includes more starbust filter shots than is safe, and there is talk of touching a man's Tra-La-La.

Blog dancer - I recomend "Mr. Roboto"

This artist needs funding.

Who doesn't love watching penguins? Of course, if you don't love penguins, then you should go here or here.

And All That Jazz

Student: So, this paper is going to be like the last ones? Thesis statement, structure, grammar and all that?

In Which CNN Gives Me Whiplash

No run today, just because I've been doing well on the three times a week lately, and I feel I need a break.

I just wanted to note that on CNN, coverage was of the airliner that was being diverted to Halifax. The hijacking signal had been tripped, and even though the authorities had good evidence that it was a mistake, out of safety, the flight was being sent away from its original destination, New York. Ok. This is all well and good. News. Then the anchor looked dead into the camera and said words to the effect of, Ok, while we're waiting for new information on that, let's get back to the Michael Jackson trail.


I know I can’t (and shouldn’t) be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes news, but can we please keep a healthy distance between the People Magazine section of life from the New York Times section?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Spelling Bees and Gymnasts' Knees

Well, the national spelling bee is finally over. I know a lot of you out there were following it pretty closely. You were all worried when Anurag Kashyap had to spell “sphygmomanometer,” but there was no need. He was a rock.

I’m fascinated by the things we do to our children. For those of you who haven’t seen Spellbound, do. There’s also another film that just came out called Mad Hot Ballroom. It’s about a ballroom dancing competition for children in New York, and it looks like it is really good too.

I’ve tried to figure out why I’m so enthralled by these things. I’m so very drawn in by the amazing things that children can do when they are allowed/encouraged/pushed/forced to do them. Miniature girls can twist themselves into pretzels and win a gold medal. Conveniently tall kids can weave through a crowded basketball court with grace. Chess Champions, quiz kids, athletes, pianists and polyglots – the ability for the young to mold or be molded is nothing short of miraculous.

What makes the scene even more absorbing is the ‘be molded’ part. The parents of these prodigies are sometimes more terrifying than I can easily come to terms with. I can be comfortable with my extreme distaste for the beauty queen who dolls her 4-year old up child and shoves her in front of a crowd for some pageant. Do we really live in a world where we need beauty pageants for four-year olds?

Similarly, I find it difficult to get behind those parents who ‘played ball’ in high school and decide to live vicariously through their child by trying to make them into super-athletes. I was lucky enough to play sports when I was younger while having the complete support of my parents, but they only wanted me to play because I wanted to, or in any case, that is how I saw it at the time, which may be just as important. Some of the players on my teams weren’t as lucky. Even the parents who don’t snap and take a baseball bat to the coach can be just as cruel emotionally.

So I end up with such admiration for the children who achieve, but always, in the back of my head, I wonder if they really chose to do what they do. In an extreme example, to be an Olympic gymnast, especially for the girls, you must start early. Some gyms will start training your child at one or two years old! Luckily, the US Gymnastics team, at least their trampoline team, waits until they are six years old before recruiting.

I realize that I’m skirting hyperbole here, but the point is: can a six year old really make these decisions? can a seven-year old? Eight? At what point in maturity (and I do believe that age is not necessarily a good measure of maturity) are we able to dedicate our lives to something? I’m asking because I honestly don’t know. It boils down to a simple question that gets asked in all sorts of other contexts: if they can’t make those choices, then should we just come to terms with parents designing their children, or should we allow them to mature a bit and allow them to make their own choices. And if the latter is more acceptable, are we willing to give up on gymnastics and spelling bees?

I imagine the answer is different for each parent and each child and each individual circumstance. I’m very happy for Anurag Kashyap, and I hope that he gets to enjoy his victory, but I’m so very glad that I didn’t go through all that.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It Ain't Easy Being Green.

Ugh. All my enthusiasm has drained. I’m beginning to believe that writing a proposal is nothing more than a cruel torture with the sole purpose of exposing your ignorance. I wrote almost nothing tonight, but I did add three books to the ‘must read to cover such and such angle’ pile. I know, I know, it’s good for me. Like brussel sprouts. But I like brussel sprouts. Although it seems that the spellcheck on Word doesn’t particularly care for them.

So, I guess I’m paying the price for slacking off yesterday. Well, I earned it.

Bright spot for today was seeing a friend of mine happy. She gets to see her husband about once or twice a year, and he just came into town last night. She dutifully came in today, but she was walking on clouds. I’ve never seen her bounce around like that. She was giddy. That is good stuff.

So, do you think the woman on the bicycle thought over the effects of biking in a micro miniskirt when she got dressed today? Or perhaps, did it dawn on her later in the day? In any case, as she rode by me, she had one hand on the handlebars and the other keeping the casual observer from finding out what color she was wearing today.

Just Another Manic... Wednesday?

Wow. Today’s been a crazy day already, and it’s nowhere near done. The smell of blood is in the water and the students are circling. Or is it the graders that are circling? Maybe the profs? Well, regardless, there is circling going on, and most of it has been happening in my office.

My office is wonderful. The only problem is that it’s the last place you want to go if you want to get any work done. Today, officemate #2 had a horde of students in and out, and lining up in the hallway, all in the hopes that a last minute pow-wow with the woman in control of their grades would somehow stave off disaster. I’m doubtful, but you’ve got to admire their pluck.

I had another meeting with the Awesome Advisor, which, just like last week, catapulted my motivation. I’m not going to be able to meet with him nearly enough during the summer, but he made a point of saying (without me even bringing the point up) that if I wanted to keep working together in the summer, he’d be happy to help. I wish I could clone this man and hand him out to friends.

Now that the office has cleared a bit, I can get down to writing. I think that’s a good thing.

I Ran. I Ran So Far Away

Originally uploaded by Overread.
5k – 26:49

Woohoo! I broke the 27 minute barrier! I actually felt pretty good on the run. A couple of times, I looked down at my watch to find out that I was going a little bit faster than I had feared. That’s good. I think I may even be able to get under 26:30 in a few runs. The big goal is to get an average for one of the kilometers under 5 minutes. Right now, I’m headed that direction, but we’ll see how things turn out. Here’s a screencap from the Nike software my watch uses. The software is pretty awful, but it does what I want it to do, so I can’t complain too much.

What Could I Do?

Last night, I went to the GinormoArgiConglomoCorp grocery store. Not only was Ben and Jerry’s on sale, but Mini Mint Milano (although they lose points for their website) cookies too! I’m only a man of flesh and blood! I’m not made of stone – how can I not buy these things? I also think it’s a good thing that I don’t have a car. If I did, I would fill it with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Mini Mint Milano cookies or a far too regular basis.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Red Pen

One more thing - am I the only one who gets upset that when you post to Blogger, you get the message, "This may take a few minutes, if you have a large blog"?

Does anyone else want to pull out their red pen and mark that up? Or am I just going through a grading-induced fit?

Not that those are mutually exclusive...

Please don't let this make anyone think that I strive for grammatic excellence here. I try, but I'm very sloppy grammatically. It's just that I get very picky at odd times...

Ice Cream Cures Cancer

Well, classes are winding up and the pressure is showing! One officemate is running on an espresso IV drip – I’m not sure she’s really slept properly in days – and the other has written out a schedule for the next days in such detail that I thought I might need to help her pencil in time for the bathroom. I guess I’m doing okay. I’ve got a couple of papers to turn in soonish and a technical piece to turn in sooner, but I think I’m doing alright on time. Then again, I could be deceiving myself. I am pretty good at that.

I’m feeling very jealous of Profgrrrrl and her sidekick Colaboratrix off on their wild tour. I was supposed to be out of the country all summer this year, but it didn’t happen. Even more jealousy-inducing is that a couple of folks I work with are going. It wasn’t a ‘them-or-me’ kind of thing, and I’m really happy for them that they get to go, but at the end of the day, here I am not moving anywhere.

So, if I’m ahead of the game, writing-wise, and I’m feeling sorry for myself on top of that, maybe it’s time for some gratuitous time wasting! Ice cream and a video game, maybe? I’d have to re-wire the desktop, but that shouldn’t be any grief…

It's Too Hard, Just Give Me A 'C'

Good post over at The Little Professor. Ah, freshman comp. 'But grammar is hard!' Appearantly, so is Math.

Circling the Barge

Ah, the papers were returned and the emails follow like seagulls that chase the trash-barges off the Jersey coast. I did get a couple of really nice ones though – along the lines of ‘thanks for the comments. What you wrote makes sense, and I think I can fix that in the next paper.’ Wow. Am I being buttered up, or is that for real? Does it matter?

Monday, May 30, 2005

This is problematic...

According to the BBC, I am neither male nor female. I tested dead center... or should that be dead centre?
I've always trusted the BBC before this, maybe I need to rethink my wardrobe.

The Future of Your Library

Dance Dance Revolution is coming to your local library!

I'm a gaming geek, but I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing. The concept is hilarious, though. And of course, there are photos of librarians dancing.

I actually spent a lot of time at my library when I was but a wee one, and as I remember, not a whole lot of that time was spent reading, so maybe it's not such an odd idea after all. Whatever gets them in the doors, right?

Oh For Crying Out Loud

I could write another post on the inanity of racing 'sports,' but I'll spare you. I just wanted to get this link out of the way.

She finished fourth, but caused a wreck that took a couple drivers out of the race. I figure that should fire up the 'women driver' jokes all the way around. She only did so well because she's light, and she can't drive to boot. Can we just close up those racing sports and put the money into something better, like lego building or something?

Well, Now You Know

Some say that yak's milk is pink. Others say it isn't so.

Running and Sports

5k – 27:07 Yea!

I should remember though, the longer I postpone my run, the hotter it gets. By the time I got on the trail today, it was hot. That means an extra gallon or twelve of sweat. That means the joy of dehydration. I actually never got near ‘dehydrated,’ but I was certainly less hydrated than I would have liked. Cotton mouth ain’t joyous.

Other random run thoughts:

Everyone on the trail, whether they be runners, walkers, painters, horse riders, bikers, whatever, they all go counter-clockwise. I go clockwise. Weird.

I started my run as Saffin and Robredo started the fifth set at the French Open. I came back completely drained and these two guys were still in the fifth set. Their match lasted around four hours.

Sports thoughts:

I’m a sports fan. I’m not a fanatic. I follow a couple of teams, and I like watching just about any sport on TV. I even go to the games on campus when I can. I say all of this to preface the idea that the fact that I really don’t like baseball is not borne of a general dislike of all sports. I’ve even gone a several games just to make sure that I wasn’t missing something in the live game that doesn’t show up on TV. Nope. It’s just as dull in person. It’s not that there aren’t exciting parts. It’s just that those parts are interspaced with interminable stretches of a whole lot of standing.

At one game, I saw an infielder twist his ankle. Like any other sport I’ve ever seen, he writhed on the ground a bit, and after awhile, he got helped off the field. I was waiting for the ‘action’ to get started up again, but nothing happened. Everyone was milling around, not doing much, and while to the untrained eye, this might seem like any other part of a baseball game, I noticed that the ball wasn’t being thrown to the batter. I asked the folks around me what has happening, only to find out that they were going to take the player into the locker room and look at his ankle, and maybe re-tape it or something. So we waited.

It amazes me that America still cares about this game. I thought we were all supposed to have the attentions of gnats on Pez. The only excuse I can think of is that maybe it’s just so institutionalized. After all, if you’re brought up to believe that Stalin is a nice grandfatherly figure, you’ll buy that too.