Thursday, January 28, 2016

weighty issues

Lately, I've lost a bit of weight. I knew I wanted to shed some tonnage for a while, but when I felt my head was good enough to not require 100% of my work, I changed my diet.  I had some thoughts about how to do so (I mean, I had already cut out meat and alcohol), but I decided to eliminate most sugar from my diet after watching this:

This had an interesting level of difficulty. When you start to become cognizant of sugar's omnipresence, grocery shopping changes. I can now only buy product from like 7% of the store. I went full-bore no sugar for the first couple of weeks before I added the occasional fruit back into my system. Even then, I stayed with low sugar (grapefruit, berries) or glucose-centric fruit (bananas, mostly). And whenever I had a craving for...pretty much anything, really, I went to nuts. Peanuts, cashews, and the like became my go-to food.

The results have been really startling so far. I started all of this sometime in the Fall (probably September), and now, I'm down about two and a half stone. I have had to buy smaller jeans, and I've moved up four notches on my belt.

The weirdest thing, though? When people point out that I've lost weight, they tell me "you look good." I respond with, "I always looked good." But really, did no one want to tell me that was I that much of a bloated whale carcass before?  Look, I think I feel better, but that everyone else is now able to look at me? Weird. If I ever break the 200 barrier, I might have to become a model!

ps: I am firmly aware that women have to put up with this kind of crap all the time, and that me having never heard such comments before is due to my male privilege. As much as the sudden focus on my attractiveness strikes me, I am also just adjusting to having people look at me. Weird.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

anecdotal evidence on genetics versus learned behavior

One of the coolest things about having a child is getting a chance to do some good first-hand science. After all, you have someone who comes out with only limited influences. What will lead to the subject's new behavior? It's a common question.I particularly love using my child to play out the environment versus genetics debate, and this is where I learned today's important lesson.

I saw a pretty cool article on Buzzfeed about Lego finally introducing a minifigure in a wheelchair. As a social justice warrior, I found this to be overwhelmingly positive, but I didn't want to make assumptions about the future generation. So I showed the picture to my kid. She looked at it and said, "Cool! But you know what's really cool? That one there pushing a lawnmower! Can we get these? Please?"

Now...I am perfectly aware that I might have influenced her lack of surprise when it comes to the physically disabled minifig. But I can most certainly guarantee you that I in no way would ever suggest that mowing the lawn was anything other than agonizing hell. In fact, I have no idea where she might've received a positive feeling towards lawn maintenance.

So, there you are. Science.

Friday, January 22, 2016

so I asked my daughter a question

...and, after she told me where my missing slipper was, she said, "I told you I know everything. I saw it with my bat vision."

This is the next generation. You're welcome, humanity.

Monday, January 18, 2016


I'm teaching two sections of a new (to me) class this semester. When they originally (and fairly at the last minute) threw me into Reading Poetry, I was scared. Not only was it fairly short notice on a class I had never taught class before, I had never actually taught poetry at all. Moreover, as it was a more advanced class than I normally teach, I knew I needed to do a good job. After deciding on a text and entering the initial planning stage, though, the fear turned to excitement. This was gonna be fun.

Of course, that excitement doesn't preclude more fear. I had vast plans this weekend to get my week's lesson plans knocked out early. However, I then got sick and spent most of the weekend scrunched up under a blankie. Today, I had to definitely get the Tuesday class lesson plan done, lingering exhaustion or no.  So I plowed through the material, and guess what? The panic returned.

The problem is that all poetry texts start off with the "how to analyze poetry" sections, and said sections are always the stuff like "all about imagery" or "figures of speech." This has always bored me. I understand the concept of introducing basic terminology, but the implied resulting action pushes poetry towards taxonomy. As an example, one of the poems in tomorrow's reading actually had a discussion question which asked students to circle all verbs and tie them into symbolism. Blech.

This kind of ruins the fun of poetry in my mind. It would be like thinking one could understand all the foibles of humanity by studying anatomy/physiology. One would gain a certain amount of knowledge, but it would be relatively pointless knowledge, suitable for no more than some contemporary card catalog of terminology...and that ain't poetry.

I was slogging through the readings for the second time, though, when it finally hit me. I heard the kettle drums of my psyche pounding. The fluorescents in my study somehow narrowed to a pinhole spot aimed directly at my cerebellum. Choirs of angels (who mysteriously rang out in a voice reminiscent more of Ronnie James Dio verse than of a Handel refrain) chanted. I knew how to tie it all together. The answer? Film director Edgar Wright.

I'd tell you more, but I, in the spirit of a good poetry reading, am more interested in your interpretation than any literal truth.

1) Please identify all uses of irony, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, paradox, and any other figure of speech and spell out the role of these devices in explicating the "epiphanies" mentioned in the title.
2) How would other poets have tackled the same issue? How is their particular use of tone different than in this piece?

just to clarify

It's been one of those weekends. While I could go on in depth on my feelings and attitudes towards said weekend, I just wanted, rather than addressing some specific points, to add some more general clarifying information. Pick and choose whichever is most applicable to you personally.
  • Even though some might deride the current crop of "kids" as whiners, the best way to make one's point is not by suggesting they be more often required to kill people. Just a thought, but constant warfare generally might not be a great thing.
  • Colleges? If you truly value active learning, you might want to not schedule 2 1/2 hour college classes for Friday afternoons.
  • You might possibly be more able to maintain an even mental keel if you quit hunting for people who tick you off so you can let them know you think they are stupid/evil/whatever. Being an evangelical anti-idiot is still being evangelical (in the worst possible way).
  • A company refusing to label their product as halal is not a victory in the war on terrorism any more than a company refusing the kosher label for their hot dogs makes said wiener makers anti-Semites.
  • I'm not being reclusive or paranoid, honestly, and I don't truly believe there's causality at work. I just seem to get sick whenever the taiko ensemble plays my local dive bar. Someone needs to figure this one out.
  • We all know the college textbook industry is evil. It seems college bookstores are complicit in said evil. They are the major pains in my pedagogical backside right now.
Okay, that's enough for now. I gotta get back to work so I can get out of debt, eventually buy a house, and tell kids to get off my lawn

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

day one from the trenches

Today is day one of the new semester. It's still too early to tell, but I think this will be a fun one.

I had my teaching schedule changed pretty late in the game. Normally, this is a bummer, but this time, I lost two sections of College Composition One and had them replaced with two sections of Reading Poetry. Usually, I'm stuck with the "welcome to college" writing classes or the tech/business writing classes. I do the best I can with them (I've even made the business/tech classes interesting to me...which was an accomplishment, because I found "here's how to write a resume" unbelievably dull). They are not, however, what I pictured myself doing with my life. The poetry classes? Those are fresh, exciting, and fun. I get to feel like a professional, like the kind of teacher I went to college for twelve plus years to become. I've only had literature classes twice before, but each time, they were marvelous. The last fiction class was by far the best time I've had teaching in my life. Don't know if this semester will go that well, but I have hopes.

One of the reasons I have hope? In class discussions today, we agreed that out of all the characters in the Star Wars series, Kylo Ren would be the most likely to be a poet. He is, they agreed, just emo enough to pull off the tortured coffee shop writer bit. I love it when my students are creatively funny.

After my last class, I saw a bunch of students who haven't yet got the textbook taking photos of our next class's reading from those students who already have it. It's the first time I've seen this happen, so I'm particularly impressed with their problem solving.

Let's hope the trend continues

Saturday, January 09, 2016

the big time

I guess I must've hit some level of the big time. I just got hacked! Passwords are changed and all, so we're all fine here, but don't open the link in the post earlier today (if you in fact saw it).

I hope this fulfilled some inner desire/ brings some peace to whomever hacked my account...or maybe gives them motivation to do something with their lives.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

the latest judgement on my character

My daughter has an issue with never wanting to go to bed. Tonight, after telling me she had been taking an eye injury to stay up, she then asked me to put one of her programs on TV. As a reasonable father, I pointed out that it was already an hour and a half past her bed time. She looked me in the eye and said, "you're as mean as a bulldog."

Of course, not two minutes later, she gave me a very chipper "I love you!" So who knows?

Friday, January 01, 2016

on the other side

The song of the season says, "May all acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind." That, however, ain't my life. In fact, I seem to have ended up on the opposite side of the equation.

I used to go gallivanting on the 31st. This year? I spent New Years Eve sitting on the couch by myself  (as my daughter was, as per usual, fighting against her mother over the topics of bedtime and sleep). I was watching a documentary as the ball fact, I didn't even think of the magic moment until about a quarter of an hour too late. This is, incidentally, much the same thing I did the year before (although, to be fair, I have no real idea what I was watching on 12/31/14).

Does everything (as another song says) really change on New Year's Day? Not for me. The wife and kiddo are visiting my in-laws while I'm prepping classes for next semester. The one person who I could think to call for lunch was too tired to leave his chair. I'm really less ringing out the old or in the new than continuing the same old slog.

I don't want to turn this into a pity party, though. I have plenty of friends...they just seem to live somewhere other than here. The ones still in the area are the ones with wacky schedules which never seem to coincide with mine. I don't quite know how this happened. Some time shortly after my daughter was born, I found it harder and harder to find anyone who wanted to hang out with me, even after doing everything possible to make myself a nicer and more friendly person. Still, the level of social connections just kept decreasing...and, several years later, I still can't seem to reverse the trend.

In one of my songs off the forthcoming album, I have a line that says: "don't wanna be here and still disappear...a social Schrodinger's thing." It's one of my favorite lyrics from the new album, but I gotta admit that it hits a little too close to home. Somehow, I've turned into a social afterthought, and I have no clue how this happened. I have a great life with my family, at work, and playing music. Outside of those, however, there's not much left. Most of the time, I deal with this just fine. Other days? It bothers me...but that's something me and my therapist will just have to keep working on.

Enjoy your 2016, everyone, but remember: more important than flipping over the calendar is finding and holding on to those around you. We're all social animals...even those of us who aren't currently finding much success pulling it off.