A year in books, food, movies, and music.

Here are some great things that I loved in 2010, but weren't necessarily birthed in 2010:

Books that captivated me this year:
Everything is Illuminated: Jonathan Safran Foer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Jonathan Safran Foer
The Lies of Locke Lamora: Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies: Scott Lynch
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Douglas Adams
Pygmy: Chuck Palahniuk
No Country for Old Men: Cormac McCarthy
1984: George Orwell
Towers of Midnight: Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan
The Road: Cormac McCarthy
Eating Animals: Jonathan Safran Foer
The Way of Shadows: Brent Weeks
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: Tim Burton
Gardens of the Moon: Steven Erikson

Music that moved me this year:
Sufjan Stevens: Age of Adz
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Blow: Paper Television
Bob Dylan: Biograph
Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles
Decendents: Milo Goes to College
Discovery: LP
Hot Chip: Made in the Dark
Jurassic 5: Quality Control
Justice: Cross
LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening
M.I.A.: Arular
Mates of State: Re-Arrange Us
MSTRKRFT: Fist of God
NOFX: Coaster, The Longest EP
Passion Pit: Manners
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Ratatat: LP4
Starf*cker: Jupiter
Vampire Weekend: Contra
Royksopp: The Understanding

Places that fed me:
Brugges Liege Waffles
The Park Cafe
Mazza Mediterranean
Sage Cafe
Vertical Diner
Desert Edge Pub
Red Iguana
Bay Leaf

Movies that blew me (mind):
True Grit
There Will be Blood
The Town
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
127 Hours
Shutter Island
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Waiting for Superman
Black Swan
The Cove

2k10, a miracle for every man, woman, and young(wo)man

For those of you who have pissed away an (but not limited to) entire year of your life reading this blog, you may recall that I dubbed 2k10 as the year of the miracle, due largely to a laundromat coin machine accidentally giving me 14 quarters instead of the customary 8 one would receive in exchange for 2 George Washingtons.

Since the end of the year is but a day away, I feel like an update as to the miraculous state of 2k10 is necessary. In reality, only one miracle I was expecting actually came to pass.

The first miracle I expected, was the acquisition of a grown up job. Not only do I not have a grown up job, but I was actually fired from the job that I had, thanks to a little fbook mishap. Turns out, after this guy
was "transfered" in lieu of a deserved firing, posting this:
was a poor life decision. Facebook privacy; too little too late. (A comment asking "what about Frank?" Frank, being the above photographed shitthead, is missing. This photo, taken from his craigslist female companionship solicitation, no less.)

So, rather than receiving the expected grown up job miracle, I took it upon myself to create my own miracle, by returning to school for a masters degree. Now I am hoping that 2k11 will be the year of the grown up job miracle.

The next miracle was that of acquiring a wife. This did not happen. I think I'm just going to go ahead an broaden my expectations for that miracle to occur sometime between 30-40. I mean, it has to. Right?

I expected that during 2k10, someone would acquire the internet nearby, and that I'd be able to steal it from them, instead of having to rely upon the laundromat, and the Salt Lake City Library Homeless Shelter for interweb browsing. I patiently waited at least 3 months for 2k10 to provide me with said miracle, but finally had to give in and pay qwest. The only bright point, is that I got to name my network "Interwebmachine3000," which is certainly the envy of all area networks.

The one miracle that actually did occur, was that 2k10 was a golden year for Javier. Nothing broke, no expensive parts failed, he only ran into the back of 1 Mercedes Benz, and killed fewer than 2 animals. I might wash him in 2k11.

I was hoping that during 2k10 the cat lady would either give up smoking or die. In that order. Neither miracle occurred, but lately she seems about as close to death as one can be, and still live alone eating enormous pizzas and drinking a 24 pack of Natty light weekly. All things are hastening her demise.

She did, however, lose Smokey the cat (to lung cancer, I suspect) a few months back. So now I only occasionally hear her yelling for 2 cats to get back in the house, instead of 3. And no more dead mice in the entry way, as apparently that was Smokey's specialty.

Even though many of the miracles I expected didn't come to pass, 2k10 was still a pretty good year. Here are some reasons:

Macbook pro
Jonathan Safran Foer
Sufjan Stevens in concert
Vancouver backpacking
2-3 times weekly summer mt. biking
10 lbs lost
10 lbs regained
Bosch mixer
The Walking Dead
Cooking skills
Summer birthday ropeswing picnic friend adventure
New nephew
New friends
A niece that loves me and can kind of say my name
3.9 in masters college
Bread baking skills
I like people I didn't used to like
Great books
Don't ask don't tell repealed
Brugges liege waffles
Park Cafe
The plant I mostly forget to water lives and thrives

So, even though every miracle I hoped for didn't come to pass, one thing is again certain; I love a lot more people this year than I did the year before. Which, I think, is the best measure of a good year.



I miss Christmas as a kid. I miss pouring over the humongous toy catalogue that came in the mail from Toys R Us every year, trying to find the perfect Medieval Lego set priced well under $100 dollars. I miss new Nintendo systems coming out, and begging for months to have one, and never really expecting one, but then actually getting one.

I miss the futility of attempting to sleep Christmas eve, and the pre-bed negotiations about the hour in which it would be legal to arise and acquire our stockings. I feel like my parents typically acquiesced to 5 am for the stocking retrieval, and then 6 am for present time.

I miss my parents saying, throughout the entire month of December, that times were tough this year, and Christmas probably wouldn't be as good as previous years. And then Christmas always being just as good, if not better than previous years.

I miss getting the absolute shittiest of presents that my siblings purchased from the Secret Santa Workshop at school. So shitty, in fact, that I can not recall a single one. But it sure made them feel like they were able to maintain an element of surprise in their gift giving, which is most of the fun.

I miss the year that I woke up about 4 am, and decided to pass the last hour watching cartoons. My room was directly adjacent to the TV area. I surreptitiously crept out of my room, sat on the Lazy-e-boy, and turned on the cartoons, keeping the sound above barely a whisper. Within moments, most of my siblings had sensed an animated presence in the house, and had themselves materialized upon the couches surrounding me. And then my mother, sensing the un welcomed AM cartoon invasion, and the premature arousal of her children, came downstairs and thwarted our efforts at arriving at legal Christmas wake up time via a quick, Nickelodeon diversion.

I miss having unmarried siblings with nowhere else to go.

I miss telling my best friend that I found out that Santa wasn't real. And then him telling his little sister that Santa wasn't real. Then his mom bitching to my mom about her telling me, me telling him, and he telling his sister, that Santa wasn't real.

I miss Santa being real.

I miss those 25 days till Christmas calendars with the little cardboard doors with the serrated edges that hide 25 dry, nasty chocolate treats within. I miss the tole painted elf with the little wooden squares that dictated how many days till Christmas, and taking turns with my siblings, changing the number each night.

I miss John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album being a Thanksgiving-December 25 staple.

I do not miss the year that my mother made us go see Voice Male.

I think I most miss really getting into the spirit of Christmas. It is difficult to do so, I think, when one lives alone. And when one is really busy with work and school, and living alone throughout most of December.

Merry Christmas, friends. Enjoy it with people you love.


A very epic maxim christmas bro!

There are few things on this planet that make me feel more simultaneously baffled and happy.

I can scarce contain my childlike wonder upon imagining the douchbaggery that will be present at this party beer bonging funnels of egg nog. Dude after dude, slamming redbull after redbull, minds abuzz with copious amounts of caffeine, ginseng, and taurine, clouding all judgement and landing them in the Bishops judgement seat on Sunday morning for excessive zipper sparking.

"Dress to impress from casual to glam but don't show ur assets at this Killer Maxim Theme Holiday Mansion party!!!" What? what does that even mean? And is "Killer" part of the title? Apparently "don't show ur assets" (it is somewhat painful to even quote "ur") is a hip way to say dress code. Which seems wholly unnecessary, since this isn't Halloween, which is the only certified BYU Mormon skank holiday.

I imagine the bro writing this was constantly pumping his fist in the air, after each "sentence." I'm pretty impressed that he used the correct "their," in reference to the female glory that would be in attendance. I am, however, concerned about "You into Boys? We got some crazy ones of them too!" Avant garde sentence structure aside, this question seems to be geared toward men, and therefore gay men. I think he should have been a little more clear and said, "Yo ladiez, you into boys..." This would help stem the tide of homosexuality that will probably mistakenly descend upon the party, drink all the fruit spritzers, realize no alcohol is involved, and storm out in a flamboyant rage, leaving with half the ladies who just wanted to dance and were sick of all the attempted bro crotch grinding.

I guess when I read these sorts of things, I am amazed that EVERYONE isn't having the same incredulous/embarrassed/hilarious reaction that I am. Incredulous, because how can this guy possibly be serious? Embarrassed, because...how can this guy possibly be serious? And hilarious, because...HOW CAN THIS GUY POSSIBLY BE SERIOUS??

I guess I fail to take into account the endless droves of dudes who purchase Ed Hardy shirts, whose main goals are at least 5:1 man to babe hot tub ratios (as opposed to the usually 20:1), finding the most epic killer top 40 grinding parties, and selling enough alarm system or Direct TV accounts to score sick H2's and beamers. And the true religion donning hollister babes that are like, so into that.



Blizzard jihad

Yesterday, Utah was brought to it's knees by a merciless testicle squeeze from the local weathermen and the media outlets for which they work. That was an inadvertent rhyme.

While I was hunkered down in a cold, dark basement next to a 50 gallon drum filled with wood, wadded up toilet paper, kerosene, and consequentially fire, a 72 hour kit strapped to my back, a rifle clutched in my cold, nervous hands, quick shallow breaths leaving visible evidence of my terror in the air, I thought, "maybe I'm overreacting."

As was the rest of Utah.

As I was browsing Facebook 'liking' all kinds of shit after waking up at about 11, I began to notice a lot of buzz about some blizzard that was either apparently ushering in the zombie apocalypse, or the second coming, depending upon what you believe/hope for. So I started doing some homework, and tuned into the radio. (The homework was unrelated to the radio, if that sentence confused you like it did me.)

Every few minutes, radio people were frantically updating an eager Utah about the certain death that was blowing in via Wendover. From what I could gather, by 2pm, Wendover had already been completely destroyed and had descended into anarchy. The citizenry had divided into vicious packs of survival gangs, burning all remaining tooth brushes, looting homes and businesses, and slaying local animals in order to make new clothing.

Schools everywhere were shutting down by 2pm, because a blizzard jihad was to be descending upon us within the next...4 to 5 hours. I could vividly imagine parents on a mad dash to get to school, some mom in her pink Bebe sweats in an Escalade, seat warmers cranked full blast, driving over the curb and onto the grass, running over 5 or 4 kids before skidding to a halt in front of the main entrance, rolling down the windows and screaming for her child. I imagined this sort of thing was going on at public schools all over Utah. Under slightly overcast skies. The wind seemed threatening though.

My school was the last higher learning edifice to bow to the hubris of the blizzard media. I was already at school when I found out that I was being deprived of my 3pm class. In lieu of being educated, I would have plenty of time to buy a lots of gallons of water, fruit snacks, dehydrated fruit, and jerky to get me through the impending doom. When apocalypses happen, one should be less than fickle about omnivorous responsibility. Nutrients are what's important.

I headed to Smith's to get supplies (milk, cereal, and ice cream, in reality) and there was literally no place to park. I walked into a mad house of people buying big boxes of bottled water, and tons of toilet paper. I guess I should have taken toilet paper into account; if the water system goes out, there goes my bidet. Certainly, Smith's was having record sales of flash lights and 50lb sacks of rice.

I got home, got my gun, and waited for the Jesus to come.

By about 8:30, there were a few inches of snow on the ground, and it had pretty much stopped falling out of the sky. In my frantic search throughout Smith's for 100 hour candles, I didn't consider the fact that maybe I was going to have a terrible hankering for a frozen pizza about 8:30. So, back to Smith's I went. Salt Lake City was a literal ghost town.

I went with a Di Giorno cheese stuffed crust 5 cheese pizza. And a veritable medieval broadsword of an ice scraper, as mine had broken near the end of last years snow season.

As soon as I took the first bite of the pizza, and was overwhelmed by the pungent taste of cheddar, I knew I'd made a huge mistake. I bit into the "cheese" filled crust, and my tongue was violated with none other than what seemed to be squeeze cheese out of a can. I have never wanted 5 dollars and a treacherous drive through snowy roads back so badly.

I am simply amazed by the media's power to utterly shut down the state, all because of some greenish blob on a radar screen. I will never trust reports or anarchy coming out of Wendover again.

There are some weathermen feeling very smug, or very sheepish today.



I wish that notifications on facebook were called "indications," because I believe that the quantity of one's so-called notifications really indicate just how good one is at friendship. If one only has a few notifications a week, this would obviously indicate that one isn't very good at friendship. Indications.

I recently had an experience in the rain, and I'm not sure what this indicated of me.

I was in dire need of some rice paper wraps for spring rolls. I had all other necessary ingredients chopped up and ready to go, yet somehow forgot the most crucial part. I entered my car, and ventured forth into an awful deluge from the heavens. I've never owned an umbrella, despite thinking every time I have to walk anywhere in the rain, "I wish I had an umbrella. I'm going to buy one next time I am in an umbrella store."

Every time, I think this. And I never think to buy an umbrella when I'm in the umbrella store.

I tried Smith's first. They didn't carry rice paper wraps. They did carry milk, which I also remembered I needed. As I was returning to my car (still in an unbelievable downpour) I received a phone call. There was a guy waiting for me at my car (unrelated to the phone call, though the previous sentence structure indicated that he might have been). Being distracted by the rain, the phone call, and just generally not thinking clearly, I put the jug of milk in the trunk of my car, where I typically put groceries. This gave the man the opportunity to approach me.

"Hey, um, I know you are on the phone. But can I ask you something?"
"Well. Okay. I guess so. But make it quick, it's raining like hell."
"OH. Okay. Well. Um. Say, that's a nice bike rack (referring to the one on my car). I used to have a bike."
"Yeah yeah, what do you need?"
He was talking very slowly. It was raining very hard. I was losing the patience that I never really had.
"Um, well, okay. Um. I used to be in this mission, and like um they used to help me out with some different things, and um well see, the thing is..."
"What are you getting at here? Money? You want money? Are you asking me for money?"
"Um, well, see the thing..."
"Here homes, here is a dollar. God bless."

I'm not really certain what that indicated.

Upon entering my car, I consulted the God Phone, and found an Asian market nearby called Southeast Supermarket. As I approached the street upon which it was to be located, I saw on the corner, through the rain, "Southeast Supermarket" in green letters on the front of the building. So I pulled in the parking lot, parked my car, finished my previous conversation, and re-entered the rain. There were a few "hipster" looking kids sitting at a table under the roof awning, barely out of the downpour.
"WTF are there hipster kids hanging outside an Asian supermarket in the pouring rain?"

As I approached the doors, I could see through the wall of windows lots of little tables inside, and lots of bags of coffee on shelves along the wall. "What the? Did they put a coffee shop in the Asian market? Where the hell am I?"

So I backed up to look at the "Southeast Supermarket" sign, and it turned out to say "Salt Lake's Finest." Somehow, between the S in Salt lake, and the est in Finest, my mind constructed Southeast Supermarket.

This would indicate that I'm blind AND stupid.


One more slice of faith in humanity lost

Today in my iGoogle page, the top "news story of interest" was about Lil' Wayne, a rapper who is actually (physically, anyway) a grown man, despite the confusing nature of the adjective antecedent to his name. (I realize most of you know precisely who he is; however. this blog is confoundingly prolific when it comes to acquiring mom-aged readers, and therefore Lil' Wayne may not be recognized with absolute ubiquity.)

This "top story" indicated that Lil' Wayne was worried that he might have some imminent legal trouble brewing from a woman claiming to have produced a fifth illegitimate child. The previous 4 were all with different women, 2 of which were born about 2 months apart. Classy.

How does this happen more than once, let alone 4 times? He certainly can't blame Catholicism, Mormonisim, Utah public education, nor extreme right wing Christianity for that level of contraceptive ignorance. He is apparently finding out the hard way that a girl-on-top can still get pregnant. Someone needs to clue him in. Although, making a gazillion dollars a year probably makes one less worried about child support bills, and therefore contraceptive measures. I don't even want to imagine the WayneTD's that guy is farming out.

Behold, your role model.


The glories of technology

For my teaching and technology class, we have this book that is apparently sort of a didactic joke. So our blessed teacher decided that it would be more helpful if we each picked a chapter, gleaned the most important points, and posted them to a Westminster wiki for reference purposes.

I realize that this may be funny only to me, but this was the result of that assignment. I might fail. It's hard to know.

For those who may not know, I am attempting to accrue massive debt amounts for a masters at teaching, in order to acquire a modest pay track bump, and to have the ability to look upon fellow inferior bachelors degree teachers with at least a minimal amount of credible disdain.

I spent at least 8 or 7 times as much time doing this assignment as what would have been the case had I not done it in such a ridiculous fashion, so I post this here with hopes that I didn't waste that much time so between 7 and 4 people would read it. Nay, I am hoping to double, possibly triple that number.

Anyways. Enjoy, or don't.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has created a base of standards for schools which basically state that all teachers must: understand diversity; teach lessons that incorporate diversity; connect instruction to students experiences and cultures; be culturally sensitive and sensitive to gender; classroom equity.

This chapter focuses on how to accomplish this with the glorious blessings of technology.

Technology is a means by which students who suffer with disabilities can express themselves and participate in classroom experiences and assignments when they otherwise may not have been able to do so. Technology can provide voice for those who can not speak, mobility for those who can not move, and many other glorious possibilities.

Students with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, who may lack the ability to manipulate a writing device, can use technology to veritably negate the rather antiquated craft of writing with one's hand.

Other students with disabilities, while having the ability to participate in activities such as brainstorming, may often write illegibly, and therefore find frustration upon attempting to read what they have written. Word processing programs may excoriate unnecessary frustrations from the learning process.

Word prediction software may also be used to promote writing victories for students who struggle with typing speed. After the first few keystrokes, the supercomputer software program divines the most likely word, thus increasing speed and spelling accuracy.

Custom dictionaries are also a superglorious function of some word processing programs. If, for instance, a student is writing with much frequency about a Scutellosaurus, which is an absurdly long and tedious word to write with multiplicity, the custom dictionary can learn this word, and insert it upon request. Also, the custom dictionary allows one to write such seemingly made up words with spell checker impunity. This causes the spell checker to seem less supercilious and fickle, and eliminates red underline ubiquity.

Talking spell checkers, besides being a valuable source of robotic companionship, allow students to make spelling selections based upon a phonetic suggestion, which is at times helpful when writing in this grammatically and vernacularly nonsensical language we call "English."

While these technologies may be invaluable tools in a teacher's digital tool belt, it is imperative that these tools not become as a prosthesis--a new limb, as it were, replacing the old worn out limb of "teaching." While the talking spell checker may be an admirable tool, it should not take the place of regular instruction. Tenure does not give the teacher permission to acquiesce control of the class to the talking spell checker.

Reading is another area of learning where technology has abundantly bequeathed upon teachers many invaluable resources. A High interest-lowlevel book, rather than simply converting text to sound in a dreadfully androgynous voice, dramatizes text with character voice distinction, thus creating an entertaining dramatization that is deceptively educational.

Scan/read systems, seemingly developed by mighty Zeus himself, allow users to scan any text existing upon planet earth, which is then (possibly via divine intervention, or extra terrestrial technology) converted into auditory output. As the mighty computer utters the text, the corresponding words are highlighted upon a screen, bestowing upon the reader an auditory/visual experience, unsurpassed by any Veggie Tales in existence.

Teachers who are lacking in skills of proper auditory projection may use Assistive listening devices in order to be heard and enjoyed by all students. Poor acoustics and quiet demeanors are no match for a personal amplification system, worn by students as earbuds. Sound amplification systems (external speaker systems), while also opening up the possibility of holding a successful Megadeath concert in the classroom, also create an environment where even the most soft-spoken teacher may never fear miscommunication, nor development of a hoarse voice from incessant yelling. However, with Sound amplification systems, one must be wary of profane utterances muttered under one's breath at every moment.

Expanded keyboards, mini-keyboards, and customizable keyboards, rather than referring to varying models of Casio music devices, are distinct typing units that exist to help students with various word processing needs. For students with limited range of motion, mini-keyboards may be of more practical use than a full sized keyboard. For those who struggle with precision, expanded keyboards may be the "cats pajamas," as it were.

Students gifted with minds immeasurably greater than those of average mortals, may also be blessed though educational technology. Rather than wallowing about in irrelevant, simplistic curriculum, they may use the "internet" to delve into more advanced realms of knowledge, not heretofore known in the public school system.

Technology, we must not fear. Educational technology is the door through which all students should pass, receiving a complementary gift bag of relevant technology, and bumper stickers with intelligent slogans on the way in. Why stand by, O fellow teachers, and let the technological fear train pass by, on tracks of digital wonder and achievement? Nay, let us employ all technological gifts imparted upon us as if from on high, that we may help--nay--usher our students into a new world order of quality, effective public education.

I'm sorry. This was self indulgent.


All things go...except me sometimes

There is a bathroom related mental disorder that I think is pretty universally referred to as “stage fright.” It seems that the extent to which people suffer from this affliction varies in degrees of intensity. Essentially, stage fright means that one is rendered unable to urinate when in the immediate vicinity of others. For some, a relatively small buffer zone between oneself and another fellow urinator is needed−perhaps a thin protective physical barrier between 2 urinals is sufficient. Or maybe, in a situation where multiple urinals line a wall, if the urinators are staggered by intervening empty urinals, bladder evacuation may successfully occur.

I once knew a guy that couldn’t even make it happen if there were someone else anywhere in the entire bathroom. On an 9 hour plane ride down to Argentina, he was unable to urinate the entire time. That guy was severely disabled.

If my bladder is above the 50% capacity threshold, I can typically successfully go, regardless of the bathroom occupancy/urinal layout situation. Below 50%, it gets iffy.

I don’t really understand the mechanics of the disorder. I don’t think it has anything to do with shame, or embarrassment−I suffer from neither. Basically, the feeling is thus; when I peel open my pants and get down to business in front of a urinal, if there is somebody really close by, the pressure, or physical urge to urinate depletes by about 50%. So, if I was at the 75% threshold, it diminishes to about 25%, and evacuation can be successful. However, if I am at like 35%, and just trying to avoid having to eventually be uncomfortable in a movie...I guess I’m probably going to end up uncomfortable during the movie.

It is an awkward feeling, standing there, sandwiched between 2 pissing dudes, and being unable to make it happen. On the rare occasion that this occurs, I feel like an explanation is probably necessary. Like I need to tell these dudes why I seem to be just hanging out in front of the urinal, instead of doing anything practical.

“Really guys, I’m not just hanging out here, hoping to catch a peripheral view of your genitals, sizable and impressive though they may be. I just can’t piss. Seriously.”

Plus, if one is standing there in a busy bathroom, while 2-3 people cycle through on either side, in my mind, it starts to look really suspect. Or at least I think that people are thinking that I am looking really suspect. Honestly, I doubt anyone is even paying attention. But these thoughts probably add to the mental urination block.

Last night, I was at Kingsbury Hall at the Sufjan Stevens concert. I don’t have words for how gloriously, spectacularly, wonderfully beautiful that experience was.

I decided, previous to Sufjan taking the stage, that I didn’t want to wish at any point during his set that I had urinated. I was only at about 25%. But I didn’t want that, over the ensuing 2.5 hours, to rise above 50%. So, I ventured down the the bathroom.

There was a line of about 10-15 urinals along the wall, all but one of them occupied. They were pretty damn close together, those urinals; broad shouldered men would be pret-ty cozy. I moved into the unoccupied urinal space. I tried to think watery thoughts, and to imagine I wasn’t practically bumping elbows with 2 other guys with exposed genitals.

At 25%, I didn’t stand a chance.

I glanced over my shoulder, and there were about 4 dudes waiting to fill in any vacancies. Double the pressure. “Common little guy, I can’t just keep standing here. It is getting awkward,” I told it. The guy on the right finished, flushed, and left.


A new guy cycled in. Finally, after another excruciatingly long 20 or so seconds, I decided it was time to give up. But I was also torn about what to do. I felt like I needed to say something, explain my failure. Explain that I wasn’t really just a penis spy. I did have to pee. Just not quite enough. I decided it was time to try something different, something other than just slinking away in shame.

I sighed. “Too much pressure. Can’t do it.”

The guy to my right absolutely cracked up. “Too much pressure. Oh man, that’s funny.” I zipped up, and walked away, dignity somewhat in tact.

In the restroom, honestly, apparently, is the best policy.


A good night for a fight

I've been thinking about fighting a lot lately. How fighting is such a meaningful activity, and how I'm really sorry I have been mostly deprived of the experience of feeling my fists pummel a kids face, or having the wind forced from my lungs by the knee of an opponent. Obviously, there is something really really great about fighting. I'm just not entirely sure what it is.

I think I have been sort of a coward for a lot of my life. I've never been a big fan of confrontation, which unfortunately happens to be an integral part of the fighting experience. I just don't get riled to the point where I think the only answer is to deal pains and injuries and bruises with my fists. I am typically okay with the idea of dealing out verbal mockery, and shaming a person into submission, rather than hitting.

I think, over the last several years, I have been under the influence of the thought that "I'm an adult, and it sure is embarrassing when adults fight." But secretly, whenever I am with a friend who I know beyond a doubt could protect me from just about anyone, I always secretly want someone to pick a fight with us. Then I could participate, but not be counted upon to deal the major damage. But it never happens.
In fact, I have only been in four fights in my entire life, three of which occurred in the second grade. There was this kid named Chad. He had some older friends who were coaxing him into battling me. He then attempted to punch me in the face. I ducked, quick as a quail, and followed with a few feeble pops to his cheeks/forehead. At which point, he crumpled to the earth and yelled that he had had enough. This happened thrice, and, feeling rather full of myself, I told my mother that I was sick of beating him up. We had a nice pow wow with my teacher, and all anger issues were resolved. Really, I should have continued kicking his ass every day for as long as possible, as the next time I would fight, I would take a rather stellar beating.

As soon as Wesley’s fist met my upper cheek/eye, and the back of my head consequentially slammed into the locker, I knew that not running away had been a poor life decision. Again, this fight had been utterly pointless, and caused by older guys putting him up to it. For like, three weeks he had been asking me when we were going to fight. And, for three weeks, I had managed to avoid the conflict. I had begun to carry around a small Old Timer knife, under the delusion that I would just pull it out and threaten to cut his head off if he managed to get me cornered. For some reason, things just never quite play out as you expect. Especially involving knives and threatening to cut someone’s head off.

“So, we gonna fight today Fish?” I was getting sick of that question. “Hold on. Let me put my bag in my locker.” At least he was a gentleman about it. As I slowly entered in the combination, I realized in horror that I had forgotten my blade. So much for threatening to decapitate him. I threw my bag in the locker, and turned around. About twenty people had gathered. Heart in my throat, I sort of squared up and put my fists about chest level, as the “Kick his ass Wesley!” chants began. And then my neck was snapping back, and I was wondering whether I could get away with punching him in the dick. After two or three more well placed blows to my facial region, I sort of flailed my arms at his face in a desperate attempt to inflict come sort of damage. I think I slapped him in the ear. He then proceeded to pummel me twice more, and then a teacher walked around the corner. At that point, everyone dispersed, and I reopened my locker. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I entered the locker room and cried like a baby bitch. It was my pride more than anything that had been wounded.

So since that time, I have been very hesitant to re-enter the world of fighting. I just remember thinking, as fist met cheek bone, "Holy shit. So that's what this feels like. This is about 75% worse than I expected."

I thought I came close recently. I was with a friend late in the eve in the Beto's drive-thru line. The line seemed forever long, and I needed to urinate. So I decided to exit the vehicle, run around the corner in an apartment complex parking lot, and piss on a wall. Upon rounding the corner, and undoing my belt and unzipping my pants, I noticed a guy walking out of a parking garage in my direction. There was an alley way about 10 yards away from me, so I jogged over to it.

Upon entering said alley, the guy yells, "Hey! What are you doing!"

I yelled, "Is there a problem?"

He yelled back, "What are you doing back there?"

I thought, is this my chance? Will this turn into a fight? Am I willing to push his buttons over a great place to urinate? Do I really want to fight with a full bladder? What if I get punched in the lower abdomen, and I pee?

I decided to push a tiny button. "What the hell is the problem?"

"I'm a deputy sheriff."

"Oh." Whoops.

So I walked over, and he asked what I was doing back there. I said, "Well, honestly, I was looking for a place to piss. Seemed like a good idea at the time."

He said, "Oh. Well. People are back there some times. I'm really tired, I've been working 72 hours."

I said, "Oh. I just need to pee."

He said, "Well, if you go back around over there, there are some rocks. You can pee back there."

"Thanks deputy."

I'm glad we didn't fight, because the reality is, I'd have probably ended up with a couple of black eyes and pants soaked in urine.


Great ideas

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about things that land people in really unfortunate life situations. Or how those situations and lifestyles are perpetuated.

The more I study, the more I realize that poverty begets poverty. If one's parents are poor and uneducated, it is often likely, without the intervention of a good school and quality teachers and parental pushing in an education oriented direction, that one will also end up poor and uneducated.

Hence, places like the projects exist. Neighborhoods in Harlem and the Bronx, and in every major city churn out generation after generation of impoverished people. White and black. Immigrants and natives. People with similar brain capacity, but dissimilar life opportunities. Contrary to antiquated belief (and still some right-wing-ultra-conservative-belief) stupidity and ignorance aren't hereditary, strictly speaking (obviously I am not talking about hereditary mental illness, or other disabilities caused by biology or genetics, nor did I mean to just call people with mental illness stupid...you get what I mean).

Here are a couple of things that I don't understand.

I get that sometimes kids are going to school, and what they are being taught seems pretty irrelevant. They feel like teachers don't care about them. That school is hard. They are falling and staying behind. The thing I don't quite understand, however, is at what point it ever seems like the best idea to just quit. How the most logical thing becomes dropping out.

"I think its time to really take charge of my life and quit school forever. Education? Get real. Fast food is where it's at. Americans are only getting fatter, and therefore I shall be entering a solid industry, with plenty of room for growth, and spectacular job security."

I mean, there are many schools in the country that have drop out rates of 50% or higher. Which means, there are millions of kids who somehow think that quitting school is a good life decision. Which I find wholly baffling. Perhaps, I simply have forgotten about the severe irrationality of youth.

I forget that I EVER thought it was a good idea to wear studded belts and army cargo pants. I remember convincing myself that science was bullshit, and that math was the PURE science (slightly ironic, since I can't even remember how to do long devision, and simple algorithms totally befuddle my mind). Because how did I know scientists weren't all liars? (the obvious irrationality of that thought does not escape me). Like take a nucleus for example. If scientists had never before seen a nucleus, maybe it wasn't real. I realize now that it was entirely possible that scientists had actually seen a nucleus, but my rural education misinformed me.

I actually still don't know if scientists have ever seen a nucleus. Thanks, college.

I am the American science/math failing statistic.

I understand that kids drop out for lots of reasons: the family needs more income, pregnancy, drug habits, drug selling incentives, and whatever. Anywhere from 8-10% of high school students drop out per year.

The other, I suppose somewhat related thing that I wonder about, is hardcore drug abuse. Such as meth. Or heroin. How exactly does ANYBODY ever even try that stuff? At what point does one think, "You know what? I think I'm just going to go ahead and give meth a shot. I've certainly heard a lot of success stories surrounding meth, I hate my teeth and wish they were rotten, I enjoy open sores, and I'm really ready for the emaciated look."

NOBODY doesn't know that meth way sucks. I mean, I understand kids giving weed, psychedelic drugs, and even coke a shot. But man. Meth. That doesn't ever turn out well for anyone. Designer drugs can be passed off as glamourous. Just look at Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins. But do a quick image search of "meth addict," and "coke addict," and you get very different results (please, PLEASE don't take this as me giving coke the thumbs up. Just saying that I slightly understand people doing coke, whereas meth just blows my mind). I realize that most people probably aren't starting with hardcore drugs. Obviously. And that people are seeking the most intense, cheapest high possible. But meth?

I guess every now and then I consider removing the breaks from my mountain bike, and bombing the steepest, fastest hill I can find. Which I guess is sort of like meth. And I suppose thinking about throwing my $3k mt bike off of a cliff, and buying a Walmart Schwinn is about like quitting school.

Never mind. I get it.


Merely animals

I think nature is beautiful.

I am bothered by how we treat some things in nature, specifically animals. I have written before about my thoughts on zoos. I recently went to the aquarium in Sandy with my family. Little fish in big tanks, I don't so much care about. However, a 20 foot long, 10 foot wide, 1.5 feet deep figure 8 shaped pool full of stingrays sure did bother me. Why do they have to be in there? So a bunch of fat Americans can shove their fat hands in the water and poke them? Why does ANYBODY need to be able to poke a stingray? It seems wrong.

In the age of high definition television and the existence of Planet Earth, I think we need not keep creatures in absurdly small cages in order to be able to have a "real life, animal experience." Well, it really isn't a real life, animal experience, because they aren't real wild animals anymore.

That, however, isn't what this is about.

Let me preface this with the idea that I don't, on some levels, have a problem with hunting. For instance, because we, as stewards of planet earth (and in this instance, the west) have basically eradicated wolves and many of the other large predators that historically kept deer populations in check, we now have the responsibility to maintain those populations, in order to avoid mass starvation and disease epidemics.

I also am much more okay with a deer or an elk living out its existence in the mountains, or wherever, and then being hunted and eaten by people, than the so-called living done by animals in factory farms previous to slaughter.

I noticed a friend had changed his facebook profile picture to one of him with a slain elk. Turns out, this photo had been uploaded to an fbook site for a bullet company. Upon clicking though some of the pictures, I was astounded by (and reminded of) the absolutely alien, completely unrelatable world in which rednecks dwell. The completely senseless nature of the killing that is applauded in the world of bad grammar, camouflage hunting brand hats, and humongous trucks.

For whatever reason, on planet redneck, small creatures are of little worth, beyond providing "fun" target practice. Even more disturbing than this photo, were the comments included therewith.
Kyle: "Yeeessssss I love it...lol"
Seriously? Kyle loves this? And is loling? Wtf is the matter with this guy/people? Why is blowing the guts out of a fat prairie dog funny, or thrilling, or awesome to anyone? On a similarly grotesque photo of another prairie dog's bullet induced visceral explosion were some other comments that really built my faith in humanity. Not only did 3 people "like" the photo, but Roger said: "Never knew what hit him ! lol" Again, the loling. One can not help but wonder what sort of chemical brain imbalance is required to induce maniacal laughter at the sight of a marmot that has been eviscerated by a bullet.

Pretty damned funny, don't you think?

Then there was this: Why does anybody have to kill one of these? Have you ever seen a mountain goat in the wild? They are unbelievably beautiful, and it is an amazing thing to watch one climb up the most impossibly steep terrain. From where does the need to destroy beauty stem? This mountain goat, stuffed with whatever the hell taxidermists stuff dead creatures with, set upon a fake mountain in a hunting store, or in some guy's office, or its head on some wall, will never come even close to invoking the feelings of awe that encountering one alive in the wild would.

Nobody is eating a tough old mountain goat, so don't try to use that as an excuse.

Lastly, why does anyone need to kill this? 2 of the comments that went along with the picture were the most bothersome:
Lane: "Well that is one beautiful bull. The trophy of a lifetime! Congratulations."
Ken: "WOW Beautiful animal You better have high ceilings to mount that guy on the wall."
That this bull's head is going to end up on some redneck's wall is nothing short of a tragedy. Ken and Lane were right. It WAS a beautiful creature. The trophy of a lifetime. But for what point? So Mr. Redneck can feel good about the size of his package every time he enters into the room and stares that bull in its dead, glass eyes? So that he can prove to all who see it that he was man enough to shoot it, rip out its guts, and cut off its head?

My father has no animal heads on his wall, nor has he ever slain a "trophy." He is certainly no less a man for it.

Killing for the sake of killing just seems wrong, even if they are merely animals. When one shoots marmots, or rabbits, or other small creatures that one is not going to eat (which is most small creatures) one is killing because one enjoys killing.

When one kills a large, inedible creature because one desires for said creature to adorn one's wall, one is killing because one enjoys killing. One is creating a monument to killing for sport.

That. Is. Wrong.


Showering with strangers

I think that there is either a creature, or a homeless man/woman that lives in the crawlspace of my house.

When turning on the shower, not much is worse than, upon turning the water knobs, getting shot on the crown of the head with an unexpected, cold shot of water. So extremely unpleasant. In order to avoid this reoccurring scenario, I always make certain I turn off the middle "shower activation knob" when I end the bodily cleansing process. I swear I always do it. I hate the cold-water-head-shot that much.

What I think is happening, is the homeless person/creature living in my crawlspace is coming out when I am gone, and using my shower. Which seems a little antithetical to the nature of a homeless person. I'd have expected he/she/it to consume my foods and maybe sell my clothing now and then. But apparently this is a clean homeless being. Although, if this being is dwelling in my crawlspace, technically it isn't homeless.

I really am bothered by this.

One time I think homeless being got careless, and turned off some lights while I was in the bathroom showering. I suppose it might have been in anger or frustration. Maybe there was a homeless ball, or some other such homeless activity that homeless being was attempting to attend, and he/she/it needed a shower, but was unable to since I was showering. It was an eerie feeling, opening the bathroom door to unexpected darkness. I'd be okay with this parasitic relationship if homeless being would simply remember to turn off the middle knob, because it sure as hell isn't me forgetting.

I google image searched "homeless shower creature," to try to get an idea of what I might be dealing with. I thought these were the 2 most likely and relevant results.

If it be the former, I'm probably going to let the issue slide. However, if it be the latter, I'm kicking Zac Efron's ass if I suffer another cold head squirt. I'm pretty sure I could.

I hope my towel isn't being used.


Beware the walmart nip slip

Why does choosing a toothpaste have to be such a complicated, difficult decision? The situation is infinitely worse when you hate most flavors of mint. Which I do. I'd rather get karate chopped in the throat than put a hard candy mint in my mouth. The only mint flavors I like are spearmint (some, in gum form) and wintergreen (all, in every form). Toothpaste does not exist in the former, that I have ever seen, and I have only ever found one paste in the latter. Crest has a whitening expressions wintergreen flavor. The problem--it exists only at Walmart.

I'd rather get karate chopped in the throat by a leper than go to Walmart.

Walmart may be one of the most depressing places on the planet, next to a dog pound, or maybe an orphanage that got half burnt down, so some of the kids have to sleep in the kitchen, or in the game room that has actually zero games. Maybe just like one edition of Candy Land, but most of the cards are missing, and 2 of the corners are chewed off.

Every time I go to Walmart, its like a pall of sadness descends upon me. Like I see the guy with the ultra-massive baggy jeans, a mesh top shirt, black fingernails, various hooks and chains connecting straps to other hooks or chains, super long greasy hair, neck tats and eye makeup, and for one second my heart is warmed. Because who the hell else would hire this guy? But then I get immediately depressed again, because how could they hire this guy?

As I find myself glad that goth guy's mesh shirt nipples are ate least barely covered by his blue vest, I am immediately depressed by all of the basically immobile folks hauling way too much ass around on the motorized carts, packing the baskets with frozen corn dogs and hostess cakes. I'm bummed out by the path they have taken (whether pushed onto, or voluntary) that has brought them to the motorized-cart-transfat-processed-food-Walmart-run. And I want to teach kids to avoid that path like maybe they should avoid goth guy. And then the philosophical, multicultural, supposed-to-be-non-biased teacher guy in me feels bad for thinking that.
But then I recall the time when I saw goth guy in line at the self checkout at Smith's, and heard him on the phone telling his friend how interested he was in serial killers and Charles Manson.

Kids should definitely avoid goth guy.

All of that, just for a tube of toothpaste.

This morning I squeezed the very last vestiges of the wintergreen toothpaste from the tube. Not one more iota of paste was left. I'd been putting off this trip for days. On my way to Walmart, I passed by Super Target, and suddenly remembered that Super Target existed, and also remembered that Super Target is at least 100% less depressing and 175% cleaner than Walmart. The risk, however, was whether or not they would have wintergreen toothpaste. I decided to risk it. No leprous drop kick to the chest for me today.

Once I finally navigated myself to the toothpaste aisle, I tried to make sense of the 400 different options available. One thing was immediately clear--no wintergreen. DAMMIT.

This is where it gets hard. HTF am I supposed to know which will be the least nasty mint? There are about 90 different flavors that end in mint, each flavor as arbitrarily nondescript as the next: smooth mint, radiant mint, long lasting mint, clean mint, fresh clean mint, extreme herbal mint, minty fresh mint, cool mint, refreshing mint. What a bullshit marketing strategy. They probably all taste roughly the same, yet pricing is slightly different all around. Plus, they all claim to serve differing functions. One is tartar control, another is cavity control. Why the hell can't tartar control AND cavity control be combined, along with super whitening power, and enamel booster, to create one hell of a super paste? It's all a gimmick.

The only mints with which I am immediately familiar, are ones that actually have names that refer to something specific--spearmint, and wintergreen. EVERYBODY knows what those taste like, but I'll be damned if most people are aware of the subtle differences between radiant and clean mint.

The only other flavor I could recall being somewhat able to stand was "regular paste." I swear they try to make you feel bad for buying the cheapest tube of toothpaste by calling it "regular paste." In fact, they probably add sugar to it as a punishment for not spending the extra 43 cents to get minty fresh mint. Or maybe sand. Maybe they should call it "sucker paste."


Pro-life vegan athiest

I have a friend who doesn't believe in God. Which doesn't make me sad, because this person isn't sad. Or lost. Or a bad person. I find the more I learn about what other people believe, the less I believe that my faith has any sort of a monopoly on happiness. In fact, I don't believe that in the slightest.

I believe that the ability to find happiness doesn't come from any singular source, that people can choose to be happy and good, whatever their state may be. Whether it is Mormonism, Catholicism, Islam, or cooking Liege waffles that makes you happy, that is your prerogative. It isn't my place to tell you what is valid. There are certainly things that inherently bring unhappiness, but I'm not going into that.

Christians may argue that the source of all happiness is God, or Christ. Which is fine, and doesn't disprove what I am saying in the least bit. If all happiness comes from God, (Christian God) then the happiness that people of different faiths (or no faith) feel ultimately comes from that source--but it is just simply labeled differently. Still, it boils down to a choice.

As I was thinking about this friend's non-belief in a God, some interesting philosophical questions cropped up in my mind concerning atheism. First, concerning abortion. It would seem to me that a person who believed that there was no God, and that there was no life after this one should be strongly opposed to abortion. If, when we die, we really really die, then any sort of practice that prematurely ends the life of another human should be looked upon with the greatest of abhorrence.

In the case of abortion, the possibility of existence would be completely and utterly canceled. I think that with a pre-life/post-life paradigm, it is possible to think that, if an abortion takes place, whatever God in which one believes could potentially "replant," for lack of a better word, the aborted spirit or soul elsewhere. Or, barring that, at least there is an afterlife. Existence isn't destroyed, merely postponed. Or shifted.

I also think that an atheist could conscionably be nothing but a vegan. The same idea applies--if there is only one existence, how could someone in good conscience unnecessarily cause the death of a living thing? Some may argue that an atheist has no conscience because an atheist, lacking a God and potential judgement, has no motivation to be a "good person." Which is totally bogus. It is a sad concept, thinking that people are only good because of a fear of God. People should be good, because being good is the right thing to do. Because being good makes one feel good.

Now, I realize that "being good" is somewhat relative. "Being good" means different things to different people. But I think that most, regardless of [no] faith can agree on a basic concept of goodness.

I realize this post doesn't flow with the regular tone of this blog, but I'd like to know what other people think about this.



This was GLORIOUS.

Almost as hilarious as the statement itself, is the response of all of the conservative pundits, i.e. Beck et al. They are all raving that this was some huge mockery of the system, that Colbert was making light of the very important immigration issue, and WTF were the democrats thinking?

First of all, if you/they listened to that and only saw a comedian making light of the immigration problem, I'm sorry that satire completely escapes you. And you are WRONG.

Secondly, if all you heard was Colbert making a mockery of the system...then you were SPOT ON. I think he very poignantly illustrated the fact that the system is a complete joke. That nothing gets done. The conservatives are all pist at the democrats for having him, but he made the democrats LOOK STUPID. A.) For inviting a comedian as brilliant as Colbert to speak to congress, and thinking that he was going to do ANYTHING but exactly what he did. B.) He flat out made fun of them. To their faces. And C.) he highlighted the ineptitude of Congress, which is chiefly run by democrats. Republicans, you should be smiling.

Except for, of course, the fact that he made you look stupid as well.

The point is, even though it was a joke, he made a very simple point. Nobody works together, nobody gets anything done. Picking beans and cherries sucks. The immigration issue is difficult and serious, and it is going to take some real live decision making to fix this issue--something our congress seems a bit incapable of doing. Perhaps they needed a public roasting to prod them into action.

Rather than doing this on his show, he did this to their FACES. I hope there were a lot of sweaty collars in that stuffy little room, because Steven Colbert punked them all.


Accidentally inappropriate shower songs

Turns out when you don't bike for almost 2 weeks, but instead train for employment at an italian restaurant, and eat massive amounts of pasta and cheese, it doesn't just end up being 2 weeks of carbo-loading, preparing you for the ride of your life. Rather, you gain about 5 lbs, and sweat and wheeze up the hill like it was the beginning of the season. Or something like it.

During the post sweat to death shower, for some reason I got the song "Beat It," by Michael Jackson stuck in my head. Upon writing that, and thinking about what I just wrote, I realize that the previous sentence inadvertently sounds REALLY SUSPECT. Honestly, just a coincidence.

Eventually, that song morphed into the Weird Al Yankovic parody "Eat it." Which unfortunately happens to songs, when there exists a Weird Al version that I listened to in my youth. And also, because I don't really know the words to Beat it. But I'll be damned if I don't know just about every line to Eat It.

There was always this one line in Eat It that I was unsure of. It went: "Your table manners are a crying shame, you're playing with your food is this some kind of game? Now if you start to dance, you'll just have yourself to blame so eat it." I never really knew what he was saying there, but it sounded like "now if you start to dance," which makes not one bit of sense. But for years, that's what it was in my mind.

Until I was standing in the shower, fairly annoyed that such a stupid song was going through my head. Upon arriving at that line, I stopped scrubbing my arm pits and thought about it. "Now...if...you...start...to...dance..." And then it clicked. After 20 years, it finally clicked. "Now if you STARVE to death."


Sometimes, when I get a song in my head and I don't really know the words, my mind just makes some up. Like the song, "Baby Come Back." The part where it says, "Baby come back, you can blame it all on me," for some weird reason becomes "Baby Tourettes, don't you blame your shit on me."

No idea why. But I'm not mad that it happens.


Throwing things a little kids

For college today, I had to go to this place in Liberty Park called Youth City. It is an after school program for kids whose parents want to conveniently get rid of them for 3 hours after school, racking up a grand total of 9 or 10 hours of kid free time on a school day. Smart parents. A far cry better than letting them be latch key kids, that's for damn sure.

Anyways, after 2 hours of orientations and whatnot, we all went outside to play some dodgeball hybrid, involving different colored balls, which accomplished different things. I was somewhat hesitant at first, because I wasn't really in the mood to run around with a bunch of kids 8-14, throwing balls around. Plus, I felt like maybe I would feel weird throwing balls at kids half my size, and (for some) 1/3 my age (shit.)

However, as the team captains were picked, something happened to me that never before happened in my life. I was picked first. Granted, I was a pretty damn obvious choice for a first pick, being the second hugest male there. But nonetheless, I went from being mostly indifferent, to very invested in who we were going to be picking for the rest of our team mates.

"No, June, don't pick him. He looks weak."

"Seriously June? Roger? You picked Roger? Did you not notice that he is slightly favoring his right leg? What happens when he can't pivot to avoid a grenade throw? Then what? Well, I'll tell you then what. Roger, his game leg, AND whomever is standing closest to him--gone. Dammit June, use your head."

For whatever reason, as soon as we started playing, I immediately snapped into "way serious dodgeball mode." A mode I wasn't previously aware that I had. I was entranced. Thoroughly invested. I was all over the field, blocking throws from weak arms with a ball in one hand, and then creaming the thrower with the ball from the other hand. Heads, bodies, arms, legs, stomachs. I can't aim worth a damn, so I hit whatever I could. I was ruthless. Effective. Deadly.

I think it finally dawned on me that I was being totally ridiculous when I drilled a kid right in the crotch with a mustard gas ball, and he curled up in the fetal position on the grass for 3 minutes. I think in the end, we both thought it was a pretty good joke.

Turns out, my team kinda sucked. When it came down to me and about 3 other kids, I let my guard down and got pegged right in the eyeball. I sat on the grass in shame, hoping someone would catch the purple ball so I could reenter the game. I tried to sneak back in unnoticed, but some 9 year old called me out.

Ultimately, my team lost. But I'll be damned if it was my fault. It was ROGER'S fault. He was the weak link. I told June. But she didn't listen.

And that, I think, was the lesson we were supposed to learn. Your war ball team is only as strong as your weakest Roger. So don't pick Roger.


Give the guy a break

Somehow, for the first time in the history of my life, I have managed to avoid acquiring even one mosquito bite this entire summer. Not ONE. It isn't that I have been lazy, or stayed indoors. Quite the contrary; I have been backpacking, camping, mountain biking multiple times per week, running, trail running, rope swinging, pond swimming, lake Powell dwelling, bicycle riding, summer sun laying, lawn mowing, bbqing, motorcycle riding, and many other things. Much of my time out doors was spent shirtless, in shorts that hit the mid thigh at best, leaving ample tracts of skin from which mosquitos could harvest vast troves of blood.

The truth is, I really haven't seen or noticed many mosquitos this year. And I'm going to go ahead and thank Global Warming for that.

I feel like global warming gets a way bad wrap, ALL THE TIME. I mean, he (we're going to go ahead and refer to Global Warming as a he, since mother nature gets to be a she) catches all kinds of shit for melting ice bergs, polar bears drowning, crying baby penguins, super intense hurricanes, massive floods, and extra sweaty fat people. He even gets blamed for things which contradict each other, like unseasonable heat, or record breaking cold, flood causing precipitation, or drought induced fires. Negative negative negative. How would you feel if you were global warming, and because mother nature bitched and moaned in front of the right people, Al Gore came and took your kids away?

Well global warming, whichever unseasonable, and contradictory phenomena caused there to be seemingly fewer mosquitos, and thereby made it possible for me to go through an entire summer without one single itchy lump on my skin--thanks for that. You are doing a bang up job.


Squirrel killer

Yesterday, I murdered a squirrel. Also, just now, it took me about 7 tries, and finally giving up and control-clicking the word to actually be able to spell squirrel. It started with squirell, and went to squiril, and up to 5 other moronic renditions including, but not limited to squrill, and squirril.


It was totally an accident, but I felt, on a scale from 1 to I-just-lied-to-my-grandmother-and-called-her-a-whore guilty, probably around a 5. It was weird, because my friend and I had been having conversations about squirrels earlier. It's like our topic of conversation was a mental tractor beam that just drew that little guy right in.

While driving up the canyon to go mountain biking, I was noticing an inordinate amount of squirrel activity. Like, they were running all over the place. I mentioned out loud to my friend, "There sure are a lot of trail beavers running around today." Because that is what I tend to call small rodent like creatures that run around the wilderness with large tails. They were running around with such unusual ubiquity, that I almost ran over one twice on my bike. Which would be quite a feat. A sad, sad feat.

So, after the ride, as I was transitioning from I-215 to I-80 west bound, suddenly a tiny little trail beaver darted in front of my car, about 5 seconds away. I immediately yelled, "No...NO! Run little trail beaver! Run for your life! No no NO NO WATCHOUT!" At which point, the trail beaver was thoroughly ground into oblivion, right beneath Javier's 2 left wheels. I couldn't help but bemoan the fate of the poor little trail beaver, who tried so frantically, during the last precious moments of his tiny life, to figure out just what the hell he was doing on that freeway. It was like watching frogger. He ran in the road, juked left, then right, then left then right the left then left then under my tires. All that remains of that majestic trail beaver, is viscera and fur, stuck to the freeway. A lousy, albeit quick way to go.

As to my knowledge, that is the only creature from the mammal section of the animal kingdom that I have ever murdered with my car. I came damn close to running over a goose once. I think that little pre-roadkill conversation I had with myself was a little different.
"Wtf, is that a goose? Get out of the road, you goose! Go get sucked into a plane engine and die with a little dignity, if that's what you are trying to do here." What an embarrassing way to go, for a goose.

Javier is just broken up over the whole thing. He refused to run the air conditioning the rest of the way home. Which I get. Those were HIS tires who sent that squirrel to a furry hell. Which is what I told him.
"Hey little guy. Don't fret. That squirrel was probably a real asshole. And may be in hell."

But deep down, I knew the truth.


Zombies and sleeveless shirts

Because I am obviously a supreme redneck with a desire to do a whole helluvalotta murder, and such, I decided last year that I wanted to get a conceal and carry permit. I PACK HEAT. Sometimes. Not every time, but sometimes. I just want to make sure that I am ready for the zombie apocalypse. Not that anybody would be checking permits, with zombies running around eating faces. But it's the principle which is important, I think.

Actually, the most disappointing thing to me about religion (mine, and others) is that there really isn't any doctrinal back up for an eminent zombie apocalypse. Sigh.

I found this on a friend's blog, and include it due to the relevancy and, I think, cultural importance:

I think this is something that everyone should really think about, because I mean, WHAT IF?

To my left: a shelf full of fantasy novels. While they may provide a lot of useful insight into how best one may fight in a rudimentary, medieval-esque fashion, (including varying weapon styles, spells, and witchery), as weapons themselves, they may prove to be somewhat wanting in efficacy. It would take an assload of books and a real firm commitment to the task, to beat a zombie's brains in with paper backs.

Today, for the second time in a year, I found myself doing fingerprints for a back ground check. Whereas last time, it was in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, today it was to be able to start student teaching. Which I think may end up being scarier than said apocalypse.

They do this FBI background check to make sure I'm not a pedophile, or a terrorist, or whatever. The really cool thing is, this background check/fingerprinting cost 85 bucks. And I had it done one year ago. And for whatever reason, the State can't collaborate with itself, and have a look at the previous check, even though they are good for 3 years. And done in the same place, by the same agency. Good job, government. Can we please make you bigger and in charge of more shit?

While I was waiting forever for like, 2 other people to get printed (excellent government efficiency at work), an older gentleman who seemed to have lost the sleeves to his shirt somewhere had approached the help window. I started paying attention to the conversation when he said this: "I ain't never had no possession of drugs. I just wanna get it off my record, cuz I wanna get a firearm."

"Cool," I thought. Me and that guy. We will obviously be ready. If, of course, he can get that pesky possession expunged from his record. 15 minutes, and 85 dollars later, I left that place in full confidence that a.) I was probably going to pass the background check, b.) I was justified in being annoyed about the incompetence of our government, and c.) that the woman at the help desk was going to do everything in her power to get that sleeveless man a gun.

1 step closer to teacherhood, and 2 steps closer to preventing zombie domination. Successful day? I think so.

What is to your left?



Its no secret that I drive a real piece of shit.

Javier, with his euro tail lights, muffler which sounds as though an explosion (or a race with some guy in an accord with a mis-matched body kit) is eminent, and problems accelerating when under 3000 rpms. Like, real problems. Especially when the air conditioner is on. Lord save me, if it is hotter than 70 degrees outside and I need to go up a hill. On on a flat surface. Anything other than down hill, really.

While I'm a little embarrassed that my car has euro tail lights, when I bough Javier, I was secretly really excited. I mean, I would most definitely never actually instal such things of my own accord. But boy, did I secretly love those twin diamonds adorning the ass end of my sweet little Javier. It made him seem deceptively cool, and possible fast, which Javier is definitely neither.

There are often moments when, while stopped at an intersection, another man in a Javier-esque car will pull up next to me. He will have most definitely noticed the euro's, and will then start sizing me up. I've thought about duct taping a can of hairspray, or something, to the inside frame around the window, to give off the appearance that I may actually have NOS capabilities. But I fear getting caught up in the moment and forgetting, due to my heart of hearts wish that it was actually NOS, that it isn't, and instead spraying myself in the eyes and mouth with hairspray right before take off. Probably no way to salvage dignity when that happens.

So, rather, I look at the other guy. He looks at me. He rev's up his piece of shit. I give mine a couple of foot pumps. Light switches, and we both take off, accelerating at somewhere near the rate of 0-35 in 10 or 12 seconds. And, of course, I lose. Partially, because Javier just can't handle anything beyond a Geo Metro, and partially because I just don't really give a damn.

I feel like, as Javier and I are zipping around the valley, I periodically notice other Honda Civics and Accords that have altered body kits. That make them look lower to the ground, and obviously extra fast. With super tinted windows, and pretty often a massive Virgin de Guadalupe decal on the rear, if we're going to be honest. But one universal thing I have noticed about these "tricked" out cars, is the fact that they ALWAYS look just absolutely beat to hell. It's like, one of the main requirements for putting a body kit on your dumpy Honda, is to probably never actually paint it to match the rest of the car. But also, to bump and scrape it against every tree, cement barrier, rock, or child with which you come into contact. I feel like I have never seen one of these vehicles that isn't scratched and dented all over, with at least 1-3 sections being held on my black/duct tape.

I think my first order of business, upon finishing grad college, will be to give Javier the body kit he has always wanted. We may not go so far as NOS, but he might get some super premium gasoline pumped into his tank now and then, if he is good. I'll have to take a friend vote on whether or not to fix the exhaust pipe. Because I can only imagine that sitting in the back of my car, feeling like your chest/inner ear components are about to explode from the sonic vibrations, can only be an extra pleasant experience.

If you ever wanna see what that's like, let me know.


Things that make me uncomfortable

As I approached the front door to my house (I share a 3 way entry with the cat lady and the chola) I set down my dirty clothes hamper and searched for my keys. I heard someone fiddling with the locks and door handle. Is it the cat lady, coming out to remind me to take out the trash cans tomorrow, or the ever elusive chola, slathered in liquid eyeliner and headed out to the bar? I was hoping for the latter, because then I would avoid the possibility of getting stuck discussing cat dander, or something equally pleasant. Turns out, it was a dude, exiting the dark interior of the chola's abode. As he stepped out of the door and pulled it shut behind him, he reached down, and zipped up his pants.

"Huh," I thought.

Then we made eye contact. He said, "Hey."
I said, "Hey."
Then I awkwardly moved me and my clothing hamper out of his way, and off he went. He definitely saw me see him do the zip up. Maybe next time he will remember to zip up before he takes off.


I was listening to some conservative talk radio yesterday. Because I forgot my Ipod, and have listened to the NOFX album "Coaster," about 175 times, because it is the only CD in my car for roughly the last year, and is therefore the default if there is nothing worth listening to on talk radio and I don't have an Ipod. I was tuned in to 105.7 KNRS, family values talk radio, home of esteemed queen of moral values Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and Lord of all assholes, Rush Limbaugh. Glen Beck used to be on around 4, but has recently been bumped by a local guy named Ron Arquette. When I tuned in, he happened to be talking to Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach center in Gainsville, Florida.

The church over which this abominable shithead of an imbecile pasteurizes, plans on declaring 9/11 "National Burn a Quran Day." Bigotry and hate. Cool. So, Ronald asks Terry what message he, and his churches congregation of primordial sheep hope to get across, by burning Islam's most sacred book.
"Well, we want to send a clear message that sharia law won't be accepted here in America, and that radicals aren't welcome."
Ronald asked Terry if this was his own idea.
"Well, it actually wasn't my idea. A member of the congregation came to me with this, and after a lot of contemplation and praying, I felt like this was the right thing to do."
Ronald asked Terry if he thought that maybe this would be sending the wrong message to moderate muslims the world over, and further drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians/Americans.
"Well, we believe that it might, but that the message is too important not to send. And, more importantly, the radicals will get the right message."
Ronald asked Terry if he thought that, by burning the Quran, Islamic radicals would twist the footage and story, and use it to show that America hates Muslims.
"Well, we believe that they will do such things anyway, and again, that the message is too important."
Ronald asked Terry if he would be offended by Muslims burning bibles.
"Well, yes, I would certainly be offended. But, again, this is different. We are sending an important message here. This isn't a message against moderate Muslims (which, throughout, he pronounced mawzluhms, which was super annoying), but rather against the radicals, and it is too important. The radicals will get the right message."

I don't even know where to start with this. I don't know how anyone with even 1/8 of a brain could possibly think this was any kind of a good idea. That this is anything less than pure, unadulterated bigotry, carelessly "hidden" behind the claim of "taking a stand," or "sending a message." These people are just as bad as the nefarious "Christian" refuse that pickets soldier's funerals with "God hates fags" signs. I understand that there is a national conservative fear that "we have become dangerously tolerant of radicalism," and that people fear that political correctness enables terrorist cells to grow and fester to the point of horrendous, deadly acts. But if nothing else, this sort of behavior CREATES AND LEGITIMIZES these cells. It, simply put, provides endless fuel for the "American infidels hate Muslims, and therefore must be destroyed," fire. How can these people not see that? Well, because they are blinded by pure, unfettered hatred. By the absolute epitome of ignorance. The fact that he said that he had prayed about this was even more infuriating. Maybe I'm just naive when I think that Jesus isn't a Muslim hating queer bashing condoner of common Nazi tactics e.g. book burning.

Burning a Quran doesn't send a message that "America hates sharia law." Burning a Quran simply sends a message of hate. Pure and simple. And the worst part is, the media plays right into it. If the media would simply ignore what this horse's ass is doing, nobody would ever know about it, and it would be a completely benign publicity stunt. I mean, if a church in Nephi Utah decided to burn every Quran in Juab country (which would probably be fewer than 1), if nobody reported it, nobody would know about it. So the media is pulling an equally stupid boner.

About 2 hours later, I was heading somewhere else, listening to the same show. Apparently, according to a Gallup pole, Obama is less popular among Mormons than among any other faith. He dropped from like, a 48% approval rate, to around a 23% since election. Whatever. So Mr. Arquette opened up the phone lines with a question: In one sentence, tell us why you like, or dislike Obama.

The overall tone and outcome of this question, I think, is pretty obvious, considering the station and the demographic. Me, I don't love Obama. But I think it is pretty silly to open up a "call us and tell us why you don't like Obama" forum. Maybe embarrassing, is a better word.
"I like Barak Hussein Obama because he is hastening the return of my Savior."
Followed by, "I dislike Barak Obama because he is a Gadianton robber." Not, he is LIKE a Gadianton robber (which would be equally ridiculous,) but he IS. (For those of you not familiar with the Book of Mormon, the Gadianton robbers were a group of, well, robbers and thieves and murderers who made a pact with Satan, essentially, to overthrow righteousness/the government, through secret combinations, or clandestine, underground groups, as it were.)
Double sigh.
And it went on, and on, and on. It just seems like such cheap, pathetic radio, to have a "Let's all call in and say why we hate the president" forum.
Here is the thing. If you want to sit at home, in your private little Mormon cottage adorned with every Greg Olsen painting ever created, and all of the various vinyl lettering inspirational sayings that Seagull Book and Tape ever offered, and think that Barak Obama is a Gadianton robber, effecting the complete moral destruction of the united states, and is, in effect, causing Christ to have to come even sooner than planned...can you PLEASE just keep that thought to your self? If that is what you believe in your heart of hearts, then God love you. It's your prerogative. But just don't make the rest of us (Mormons) sound like back woods, ignorant idiots, hunkering down for the eminent apocalypse. I'm not saying for people not to stand up for what they believe in. But have you ever heard any of the quorum of the 12 say anything about Obama being a Gadianton robber, or hastening the coming of the Lord?


So shut your mouth, and keep it to yourself. Stop making me feel embarrassed to be a Utah Mormon. Don't get me wrong-I feel like I need to rephrase that. I'm not embarrassed to be a Mormon. I'm not embarrassed by my religion. I am, however, embarrassed to be culturally and intellectually lumped in with people pulling crap like the aforementioned...crap. You may think Obama is destroying America with his policies. But to compare him with a group of murderers who made a pact with Lucifer to effect the destruction of all that is good and holy, is simply ludicrous. Maybe think about what you are really saying there, before you open your stupid mouth and word vomit all over the Utah airwaves.

Maybe, just maybe, this illustrates a little tiny fraction of what moderate muslims feel, when their radical brethren pull shit like explosive martyrdom. It's a shaky comparison at best, but I think there were a whole lot of Muslims cringing when those towers went down.

I guess we all cringe sometimes because of those with whom we share a faith, a political party...or a front entry way.


Burning wagons and fashion dilemmas

I went to lake Powell last week, because the best thing to do when unemployed is go on a vacation. I was getting so tired of sitting at home, sweaty in a chair, reading fantasy novel after fantasy novel, eating maybe like a thousand grapes, and 30-70 otterpops. In like a week. I just needed to DO something.

Isn't it weird how whenever you are working like, mostly full time, there always seems to be at least 100 shit that you need to do on your days off? Like seriously...100 shit, every time. There was never enough time on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for all of the biking, swimming, cooking, vegetable eating, motorcycling, responsible adult things that I wanted/needed to do. But as soon as I lose my job, I'm sitting there naked in my easy chair (because putting on clothing after a shower seemed like the worst idea ever) book in hand, wishing I had something important to do. Wishing someone would give me a task. Like maybe the mail man would knock on my door, and ask me for help re-sorting all of the junk mail that spilled all over my lawn when he tripped over Smokey (the cat lady's outside cat). He wouldn't even care that I was naked, that junk mail needed to be re-sorted so bad. People gotta get their coups.

Wait, I just remembered that such a scenario would be impossible, because Smokey is dead. After 15 years, he just finally succumbed to old age and maybe lung cancer. Although, he probably had less severe lung cancer (as comparable to her other 2-6 inside cats) due to being a mostly outside cat. God rest his little mouse catching soul. I'll sure miss the dead mice in the doorway.

Anyways, so when my friend invited me to go to lake Powell, even though I knew I would in all likelihood be spending 3 days in a sweet bro workshop, I finally felt like I had a task. Like life would be meaningful again. Lake Powell needed me. Which was a totally stupid thought.

So, to lake Powell I went, and boy oh boy, did I ever burn down the meat wagon. I really didn't think about it when I decided to go, just exactly what I was going to eat. Sometimes I forget that people don't eat like I do. There are still dudes in the world who want to eat every hotdog they can. And stuck on a boat, with nothing but Malt-O-Meal cocoa puffs as an alternative, sometimes even the guy who won't eat anything irresponsible breaks down and eats FIVE HAMBURGERS. Nothing ever felt so wrong, but at the same time so right. Especially when one was sandwiched between 2 slices of government texas toast (Walmart's G.V. ((great value)) brand always translates in my mind as "government" whenever I see it) with garlic butter slathered on both sides. The buttery saturated fat juices were literally dripping down my forearms. I guess if you have to fall off the meat wagon, that sure as hell is the way to do it.

I'm back on.

I think I ate more terrible food during those 3 days than I had in all the previous 3 months combined. Which I'm fairly certain caused me to gain no less than 5 lbs. And probably, unfortunately, in my neck/jowl region.


I started grad college yesterday. I feel like this is totally going to mess up a really good thing I had going, which was wearing basically the same 3 or 4 things, over and over again. Which made life really easy. I could get away with this because there are very few people I see more than once or twice a week. So I can wear like, the same pants and shirt 3 days in a row with no fear of social repercussions. And because I'm not a smelly dude. But now, I will be seeing the same people for 3 or more hours a day, every single day of the week. So now I have to come up with at least 5 distinct clothing combos. Which is logistically feasible, since I have no fewer than 20 pairs of jeans, and an assload of shirt that I never wear. I have a problem saying no to sub-$30 bargain jeans.

Anyways, in 6.5 hours I have to wake up and try to figure out what I didn't wear yesterday and the day before. Which may be hard.

Things are foggy for me before 10 am.