Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Forgive Me

Yes I know it's been awhile. My only excuse was that I was fried on blogging and needed a vacation, which I took. Now I'm back with a whole new set of material and thoughts.

I need to travel. It's something that my body finds relaxing. The drive to the airport, the manic waiting in security, the boring terminal, these are all things I find enjoyable. I know they are filled with anxiety and tension, but it's a different kind of stress. It's the stress of fun on the horizon. I look forward to that insane cavalcade of travel related issues.

The Friday I left was a little different. The wind jolted me across the Merritt Parkway, and I listened to the radio for the possibility of cancelled flights. Fortunately, they were saying that JFK was okay. So I drove confidently, thinking my flight would be on time to Texas, where I was meeting my brother.

Of course, nothing at New York airports ever quite works out. I arrived at the airport about two hours early because Jet Blue has a cool terminal to hang out in. My thought was that I could relax in the terminal, read a bit, and listen to music. These plans were foolish, as I walked into an airport refuge camp. While my flight was set to leave a mere 20 minutes late, some flights were up to 8 hours delayed, leaving a huge population of people stranded. My relaxing travel experience had been busted.

I did my best to be patient, carving out a tiny spot for myself near the gate and throwing on my headphones. People's attitudes in airports make me nervous though. Years of airline travel has taught me one important thing: do not bother the gate attendants. Your job is to sit quietly and wait for your flight to be called. Bothering the gate attendants only serves to slow down the process and elicits an irritated response from someone who is just trying to do their job. For some reason, common sense is thrown out the window in favor of absolute hysteria. People need the gate attendants to reassure them that everything is okay.

I can't stand when people form random lines. Do they not know the whole system behind boarding an airplane? They let parents with little children and disabled people on first. Then the plane is boarded by rows. Forming a random line by the gate will not change anything. Plus, what exactly is the end result of boarding the plane first? You sit in a cramped chair for longer, waiting for the plane to take off. If it were my decision, I would board the plane at the last possible minute.

We are sitting on the runway, waiting to take off. We've been here for about thirty minutes. Folks are getting nervous, staring at their watches and mentally calculating when we will arrive in Texas. I'm laughing like crazy at the Fox show Trading Spouses, where a woman flips out because the mom she traded with is not a Christian. She keeps saying she brought "dark spirits" into her household.

While I found the show funny, it also forced me to reflect on intolerance. The non-Christian woman came across as a really sweet, wonderful woman. She made the family she stayed with comfortable and happy. Meanwhile, the religious woman would accept nothing less than forcing her new family to church and shoving beliefs down their throats. She felt it was her duty to "plant the seed" but absolutely refused to participate in any alternative forms of spirituality. Her panic attack at the end of the show demonstrated how she was incapable of accepting other philosophies of life, which is unfortunate because there are lots of other perspectives on life. Refusing to even listen to another person's opinion is what fosters misunderstanding in the world. So while I found her freak-out funny, it also made me kind of sad about how some people lack acceptance of others and push their views on people.

Around my rumination the captain came on the headset and told us that the takeoff would be scary. I've had a lot of flights before and I have never been told that the flight would be frightening, so I knew it would be really bad. The engines fired up, roaring into the wind. I felt the plane vibrate against the gusts, fighting to gain enough speed to bump off the ground. The tiny regional jet kept rocking in the wind, and I knew the captain was keeping us on the ground longer in order to gain more airspeed. Finally, I felt the plane leave the ground. That's when it became scary.

The plane blew in the wind like a parasail, shifting back and forth as my stomach lurched. I looked out the window, my fingernails driven deep into the hard leather seat. The plane continued to rock, but we kept rising. When we achieved a thousand feet, I relaxed and apologized to my neighbor for screaming like a little girl. Okay, that's not necessarily true. I would never apologize for that.

The flight went by smoothly. I relaxed and watched some interesting satellite programming, my Dunkin Donuts coffee whispering to me that everything was okay. When the plane landed, I thought that it was time to relax and enjoy my vacation. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I've been wandering around this week, showing random people my hands. Sorry, I've just been excited about them. They look normal for once and I'm hoping they'll stay that way.

Oh please, please, please keep them looking normal.

Last night I found out something wonderful about myself. I was giving a presentation on sports or something (which was thrown together in an induced frenzy of caffeine and sweat) and I was asked a question that baffled me. Instead of looking foolish, I managed to answer the question by not answering the question at all. I've always suspected I have this superpower, but I just never had it manifest quite so well. I felt like a college professor, managing to keep the tone in my voice that I knew what the hell I was talking about, while simultaneously being terrified that my fraud would be discovered. Our Professor seemed pleased at my collegial ability to pretend to be much smarter than I am.

So it seems I'm off for a bit. To be more specific, I'm flying to Austin Texas tonight to visit family. My brother says he has a surprise waiting for me when I arrive. My only guess is quail hunting with Karl Rove. I'm excited. Catch all you CT people in about a week. In the immortal word of my good friend Bill:


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stress Doesn't Even Cover It

Yes, I know, I entirely failed to write a Valentine's Day posting. So Happy Valentine's Day Rachel McAdams, Ashlee Simpson, Kate Beckinsale, Heather Graham, Jennifer Morrison, Natalie Portman, Uma Thurman, Eliza Dusku, Elisha Cuthbert and, of course, the much loved and missed Spinning Instructor. You should all be receiving a wonderful card with a 5x7 headshot enclosed. Maybe not my headshot, but it's still a damn good looking man.

A friend told me I seemed "distracted" this week which I think is a very nice way of saying I seem like more of a Jittery McStressalot than usual. There are reasons, the primary being that I have a gazillion things to do in the next three days. I'm in the process of writing my first real graduate paper in years, which is going a lot better than I originally thought. The other is that I'm traveling to Texas on Friday. Excited and nervous tend to translate into roughly the same emotion for me. So please understand, if I'm short with you this week, or (more) weird, or "distracted," take it with a grain of salt. Or better yet, a whole desert of salt.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Weather News

Matty sort of beat me to the punch on this one, but I still need to comment. I mean, could the coverage of the snowstorm (I refuse to allow the media to give names to snow) been any worse? It's as if the WFSB went out, found people off the street who had no experience broadcasting, and stuck cameras in their faces. Plus, there was Scot Haney.

Lets get one thing straight- we all knew it was snowing. If you looked out your window, it was a given you could tell it was snowing. So their inane coverage with reporters standing outside in the snow was useless. Most of us were waiting for the forecast, which only came once every ten minutes or so. At one point they chose to inform us of what had already happened with the snow. Thanks meteorologists for the clue that it was snowing a couple of hours ago. At least you couldn't possibly be wrong by predicting what's already happened.

There were some seriously unintentionally funny moments sprinkled in there. One of my favorites was when a female reporter dipped a measuring stick into the snow and it was too small to actually measure the inches on the ground. It merely sank. She looked up into the camera and told us that this was surely a sign it had snowed a lot.

Thanks, because I was thinking that was a sign the world was ending.

Then there was the reporter telling us how all the cars were going at a snail's pace. Nobody seemed to be traveling quickly, and that was probably a wise thing. Cue the small car that barrels through the snow at a high speed.

Of course, nothing was as ridiculous as Scot Haney shoveling the path in front of the studio. The guy may be a terrible reporter, but surely you have something better for him to do? Yes, we know, it's snowing dammit. Get him back in the studio, telling us when it might stop, or send him over to my place to shovel. Either would be fine.

Oh, and in the meantime, I insist that the meteorologist who is so pregnant she's nearly popping, not come into work during the biggest blizzard we've had in decades. Yes, it definitely shows that women who are pregnant are just as capable as the rest of us. But there is a line of safety that should be considered. Maybe you should have watched your own programming. You would have known it was snowing outside.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Me Hate Clean

I despise cleaning. Being a bachelor, my apartment is usually in a state of disrepair that would make these people blush. The debris can pile up for months, until an extended break from work motivates me. Sometimes though, the mood strikes me, and I become a cleaning machine.

Yesterday, I woke up to the cats having messed up the apartment worse than college fraternity parties. Apparently, they had a catnip party, as they knocked most of my books on the floor, pooped on the rug and threw up in the hallway. My younger self was so proud that they are living like rockstars, but the adult in me had a hissy fit, and promptly went out to buy new cleaning materials. My Saturday morning was pretty much devoted to cleaning.

So I'm sitting in a nearly immaculate apartment now, except for one serious thing. I can never seem to clean the bathroom. Part of the problem is that I'm pretty sure I'm killing a unique biological lifeform by scrubbing my linoleum floor. I've done many things in my life, but I have never committed genocide. It's just not on the list.

The other problem is that the bedroom is easy to ignore. I can close the door and forget about it. Will I clean the bathroom? Eventually, but probably not until the new lifeform I'm cultivating stands up and begins talking to me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This is utterly brilliant. Truthfully, I always wondered about the relationship between Marty and Doc Brown. The video just nails it.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I've renewed my lease on my craptastic apartment. The cats were very vocal that we say where we are, and I decided it was just easier than moving. They are quite attached to that part of the rug they have destroyed. So I'm stuck for another year in renter hell.

Every year I renew my lease feels like another failure. People tell me that no matter what, I should be owning something. I just can't bring myself to raise that cash or do the work required to own something. It's much easier to walk into a rental office and pay my bill every month. But I know that I'm really just wasting money by being too lazy to do anything else.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Now why didn't we think of this.

Ordering Woes

I wish I had more control of what comes out of my mouth. But my mind just doesn't connect with my vocal cords in the right ways. A good example is ordering coffee in the morning. I practice while waiting in line, making sure I know exactly what I want. I want a medium black coffee with three splendas. Something about the person asking "may I help you?" messes me up. I say the strangest shit:

"Yeah, hi, good morning, how are you today? Um, I want a coffee, without cream, black. Oh, it needs to be a medium. So a medium, no cream. Did I say black? I want it black. I guess I want a medium coffee, black. Oh and three splendas. Make sure there's three splendas in there. So coffee, black, no creme or milk, with three splendas, medium."

It gets even worse at Starbucks. I always order a grande coffee in a ceramic mug. Before I go to bed, I recite "Grande coffee in a ceramic mug." I can never seem to get it right:

"Hey, whatsup, how has your day been? Yeah, um, a normal coffee please. A medium coffee, black. Oh that's right, I mean grande coffee black with three splendas in it. I forgot, you have the sweetener on the side. So just a grande coffee please. In a ceramic mug please. A grande coffee in a ceramic mug with three splendas. I'll go get the splendas myself. Would you care to join me for a cup? No, I understand."

Maybe the answer is to stop drinking coffee and switch to tea. That could be easier to order.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Other People's Thoughts on the Super Bowl

I know this may be a bit late in the blogging world, but I wanted to spend time yesterday looking over what members of the media (and my students) thought of the Super Bowl. I have come to several general conclusions:
  • The Super Bowl was generally crappy. The game was weak, and probably won by the Steelers based on some shady referee calls. Either way, it was a bad game.
  • The commercials were awful. There was no general stand out or water cooler commercial. However, Seth Stevenson of Slate, amusingly points out that The Onion's Gillette prophecy has been fulfilled. Personally, given all the hype about the Burger King commercial, I would much rather live the rest of my life without seeing a woman dressed up like a meat patty. Disgusting. Oh, and none of my students got the Benny Hill or MacGyver references. That made me feel old.
  • What should have been a poignant moment with John Madden and Al Michaels was quickly cut from in favor of less interesting analysis of a bad game. This may be their last Super Bowl together, lets show some respect.
  • Could we now stop talking about football for about seven months and get back to baseball please?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Confidence Boost

Attractive Woman: "Hey R-dogg and uh....R-dogg's friend."

I love how easily I vanish from people's memories.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Before I began my recollection of yesterday's travels, I'd like to note that my former professor and local Hartford scholar/philosopher/celebrity/all-around smart dude Colin McEnroe has a wonderful account of his moderated discussion last evening. There are lots of enlightening tidbits in there. Nevertheless, I was off doing my own hell-raising and had to miss the event.

I've always been a train person. As a former Connecticut gold-coaster and current lost child of Fairfield County, I took the chance to take the train into Manhattan as often as I could. However, I've recently been converted by my friend Langarang. Whereas I previously thought it was ludicrously expensive and complicated to drive into Manhattan , Langarang showed me it was indeed cheaper and easier than taking the train. Old notions are often made to be shattered.

So yesterday I drove into the city with several of my friends. With the relative size and fuel mileage of my Scion, it made sense for me to drive. Plus, I seem to have the appropriate genetic markers to effectively drive into the city. Kim the librarian noted the not so subtle change in my driving demeanor as we entered New York. Unbeknownst to me, my posture switched to sitting perfectly straight, my hands roughly clutching the wheel. I also honked and yelled a lot. She and my other friends, rather than being terrified of me, were more in awe of my ability to transform into a New York driver.

After a relatively easy trip onto the island, we found a great parking lot on 86th street right near Lexington Avenue. I frequently am too cheap to pay for parking in Hartford, but Manhattan is an entirely different sort of beast. Parking on the street is just begging for trouble, especially with an out of state plate. So I was quite happy to find a good lot to stow my car.

Our first destination was the Guggenheim museum, which is going through exterior restoration. It's a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright building that sticks out on the "museum mile." I'm sure the restoration will make the museum look even better, but unfortunately all the scaffolding and plastic sheeting made it look sad.

Fortunately, the inside was still a sight to see. Even without the art, the building is quite a sight. The majestic spiral and different angles are amazing. Wright was truly a genius.

I really went to see Kandinsky, but we got lucky and found some brilliant David Smith sculptures. Smith was a working class machinist who found beauty in the industrial forms and shapes of metal. His anti-war bronze plaques were really inspiring, especially considering the current political climate.

After an hour or so (R-dogg claims it was more like two and a half hours) our youthful attention spans got the best of us and we left. This is where I made my major mistake of the day. I decided we could cross Central Park and take the C train down to 4th street. As we were walking on the reservoir path, the casual drops of rain turned into heavy balls of water. The fog drifting above the reservoir was interesting, but we were distracted by the intense need to move out of the rain.

My friend A-list said she had a fear of the subways, which I was determined to dispel. I've ridden the New York subways nearly all my life, mostly with great results. But then, I don't really see a casual conversation with a crack addict as all that big a deal. In fact, I live for bizarre experiences on the subway.

I was good though and followed strict Manhattan Subway rules. No talking, no looking at anyone for an extended period of time, only soft conversations. The ride was eventless, ending at the exact spot I wanted to take us. This may seem boring, but it's actually quite a milestone for me to get a group of people to exactly the right point in Manhattan that I was intending. Usually I fumble around with my knowledge of the streets until we eventually get there.

Being in the Village, we hung out at several hip places. The first was a really great tea place, with a wide variety of leaves. If there were a place like it in Manchester, I would be in serious trouble. Half my wages would have to be put into a "tea fund."

Of course we stopped at The Bourgeois Pig, and drank some expensive and delicious wine. R-dogg tried some expensive port, while I drank a tasty dessert wine. A-list drank Sangria, while Kim had a bold red wine.

The Pig has the coolest setup I've probably seen for a bar. The dominant lighting is the neon red sign that hangs from the door. The place is bathed in a heavy red. Instead of uncomfortable bar stools and chairs, it has massive couches and cool pillows that make you drowsy after drinking one of their fine wines. We were lucky, as we had the place entirely to ourselves and could stretch out and relax. However, we didn't have a dearth of time, as we had other plans.

We had reservations at The Comedy Cellar, Manhattan's best (and possibly least known) comedy club. You need reservations to go the club a couple days in advance, as it is often attended by well-known comedians. I made reservations the day before for the 7:30 showing, but like the clumsy person I am, only made them for three people. There were definitely four of us.

The Comedy Cellar is only slightly larger than my apartment and therefore space is extremely limited. While I foolishly thought there were would be no problem to having an extra member of our group, the stern lady at the entrance had other plans. She would not let us in unless one of our party waited outside. We conferenced, I had my own reservations regarding leaving one of us to wait for a table, but the group convinced me it was an okay chance to take. So A-list was left waiting while R-dogg, Kim and I nervously sat down.

It took some maneuvering, but A-list eventually was let in. The show was well worth it, as it included the very funny Andrew Kennedy, Kurt Metzger, DC Benny, Colin Quinn , Keith Robinson and Jim Norton. Every comedian was great but there were some real surprises. Andrew Kennedy, who I admittedly never heard of, had me crying with laughter.

The other surprise was that Colin Quinn had a really funny set. I've seen him before, and thought he was merely okay. However, he's stopped trying to jam his jokes in until their funny, and now quickly moves away from material that is seemingly not funny. His new stuff is really great.

After the show, we walked Bleecker Street until we found a great Chinese food restaurant on Canal. R-dogg, being the world traveler he is, ordered off the menu. We ate delicious and authentic Szechuan chicken and vegetables. We also ordered standard Americanized Chinese food, which had an extra punch to is. It was a great end meal to a wonderful night.

A good sign of how the day went was that the conversation on the car rode home was energetic and full of laughter. The day was really worth it. I'm lucky to have wonderful friends who are willing to explore and find unique experiences.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Karmically Bitchslapped

I'm not exactly sure why the stars have been so out of alignment for me. This morning I woke up without all the tiredness I normally feel when I wake. Then I looked at the clock. It was 6:50. I had to be at work in exactly 20 minutes.

I threw myself together in a surprising amount of time and ran out the door. Everything was going to be okay. I decided to stop and use the extra five minutes I had to get some coffee and replace the breakfast I missed this morning. So I stopped in to Dunkin Donuts, which was a mistake in itself since I am such a loyal Starbucks patron. But Starbucks fails to serve hot food, which is what I wanted.

I order my coffee and bagel and pulled out the wonderful gift card A-list gave me for my birthday. The woman behind the counter looked at me, an expression of disapprval on her face. She told me that the gift cards weren't working. In my early morning haze, I decided that wasn't good enough. I had no cash, and wasn't prepared for any such contingency. So I told her thanks but no thanks. Under her breath, but loudly enough so I could hear her, she said I was being cheap. I turned to walk out and she told me in a condescending manner to take my coffee anyways. I took the coffee, but now felt guilty about the whole incident.

Which is the exact way Karma wanted me to feel. For when I walked out into the parking lot, my back tire was leaking quickly. Without thinking, I hurriedly drove over to Town Fair Tire. The nice guy there told me he'd take a look at it and get back to me. He also yelled at me for standing in the rain.

My loval friend Doc picked me up. Doc was on his way to work anyways, so it didn't seem to bother him. He's always good for a quick favor, although he scoffed at my lack of Starbucks. He's also a junkie.

We arrive at work, where my guilt has grown to the point where I feel I needed to give away my coffee. I have a policy about buying coffee in the morning. If I'm stopping anyways, it realy isn't all that big a deal to pick up two coffees. So I usually give a coffee away to someone anyway. In this case, I managed to unload both coffees and feel better about myself. The day wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Until I got the call. The nice guy from Town Fair very nicely, and in a rather meek tone, told me to he had some bad news for me. I figured he'd be telling me that the tire couldn't be repaired. He did, but then told me my other rear tire had also been punctured and I needed to replace them both.

So I'm sitting here, wondering what the hell I did that was so bad. When I find out, I'll let you know the Karmic equivalent of two flat tires.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Intelligence Loss

Could this "lawsuit" be any more ridiculous? It's a pretty common idea that blaring music through headphones at full volume will cause hearing loss. Why is Apple taking the heat for this now? Portable music players have been around for 25 years.So what this "lawsuit" is really saying is that Americans are too dumb to keep their music at a reasonable volume and therefore we deserve some sort of class-action money for our stupidity.


When we were younger, my brother and I always received cool presents for our birthdays. I remember one year waking up in the frigid air of the house we lived in and finding a new Nintendo cartridge on my nightstand. My mother screamed at me to go to school until I finally relented and ran out to the bus. I always looked forward to receiving something nice on my birthday.

A lot of things changed with our mother when dad died. There were a lot of good things that happened, but the one bad thing was that she stopped giving us presents. Instead, on our birthdays and holidays, Mark and I began finding checks. Mom gave up shopping for us.

I'm not good enough with money to effectively apply it to some sort of gift. Instead, it gets thrown into my bank account and used to pay a bill or two. So essentially, for my birthday, my mom has given me money to pay for the heat bill.

I'm trying not to be ungrateful, because money is always good to have. I just miss those times when I wondered what my parents were going to buy me for my birthday. There's no excitement when a check casually slips out of a greeting card. I'd rather take the cheap Nintendo cartridge any day.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Thanks Asshat!

Just because you tell us the truth about oil prices doesn't absolve you of the blame for letting them get so high. Hope your buddies in the oil business are enjoying their third vacation homes and yachts while some of us are struggling to make sure we can continue to pay the heating bill.


I'm a relentless snooze button masher. I often set my alarm clock to go off much earlier just for the joy of hitting the snooze button multiple times. The snooze button is one of my great addictions.

This morning, I began to wonder why and came to the realization that I'm being silly. I honestly wake up and think to myself "I'm exhausted now, but 5 and a half minutes from now, I should be feeling terrific." Inevitably I feel worse because I realize I was wrong. I've been sold out by the earlier me. The awful realization that I have to get up and go to work anyways passes over me.

I'm hoping the answer will be a Clocky. The Clocky solves two of my problems. It makes sure I don't have access to a snooze button after my first time, and it distracts the cats, so they don't pin me down. They don't like their primary caregiver leaving to go to work.

Sadly, Clocky is coming out sometime in the distant never...