Sunday, December 24, 2006

¡Feliz Navidad! Nollaig Shona! Felix Dies Navitates!

I'm going to throw this up here now since I probably won't be writing tomorrow. So everyone out there in internetland, Merry Christmas. The title tells you how to offer that holiday greeting in Spanish, Irish and Latin, in that order. The Spanish and Latin are both phonetic, but the Irish is pronounced No-lahk Ho-na, in case any leprechauns come across your path tomorrow.

People made a big deal this year about how stores are saying "Merry Christmas" again instead of "Happy Holidays." I have to wonder who exactly gets offended by being wished a Merry Christmas. As a Christian, I can't say I would be offended if a member of any other faith wished me a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Ramadan or whatever. In fact, I think I'd think it was kind of nice that they thought enough to offer such a salutation to me. Just because I don't celebrate one of these holidays, they still happen. I've been wished Happy Diwali before, and I didn't answer with "I'm not Indian, jackass." I answered with, "Thank you." What is wrong with people? I think that "Happy Holidays" is a little obnoxious because it's so non-committal. If you go into Wal-Mart and the greeter says "Happy Hanukkah" am I really going to stop shopping there? This really seems like kind of a petty thing to worry about, doesn't it?

One of the things that helps make my Christmas merry is that when I go back to my church down here and they have an insert in the program (which, inexplicably, didn't have a schedule in it; making me think that the purpose of the program is to serve as a coat for this insert) that includes a shortened version of a Longfellow poem called Christmas Bells. I am going to include it here, but it's important to note that this was written in 1861, as the Civil War was beginning.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said.
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The rest of the poem is just as good, and you should look it up and read it. Nollaig Shona!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I hope it's socks

Call me a resident of Mayberry if you like, but I don't get the people peek at their presents. I remember in elementary school and what not when people used to tell each other their techniques for finding out what Santa got them for Christmas, like sneaking into the closet when the parents were out boozing or carefully unwrapping a corner to see that it was Excitebike in that small box. Actually, I think Excitebike came out when I was like one, so I don't think this is accurate. But it would have been an awesome gift.

I like the surprise. I like the act of opening a package with unknown contents and reacting to it, so the giver sees the gratefulness in my eyes, because really, it's pretty nice the other way around so it seems pretty selfish to deprive the giver of that, especially when they're giving you stuff for free. So, basically, I'm calling you out if you peek. Ass.

I think it's a little bit like movies. I don't try to guess the plot of mystery movies as I'm watching them, because I like the revelatory experience. I like to get caught up in the experience. Like magic. It's pretty dumb, but it can be fun if you try to get into it. If a magician is reading this, I'm not apologizing. Because get a real job. A movie is supposed to allow you to enter into this alternate world, and if you're worried about guessing what's coming next, you're missing out on what the movie's supposed to be. Just like missing out on the Spirit of Christmas by peeking.

It's getting to be a bit less interesting these days. I'm not asking for a bike or Xboxes or Wiis. A few years ago I got a pretty awesome stereo. I don't know what I'm going to get this year, but I don't think it'll be quite that dramatic. Probably some dollars and maybe a movie or a book. Last year, one of my gifts was a cookbook, and it was awesome. I had no idea it was coming, unlike every scene in the new James Bond movie. I didn't want to guess it, but it was pretty predictable. But poker games in movies always end the same way. I'm still kind of bothered that it was poker instead of baccarat anyway.

The moral of the story, though, is that you're pretty much a bad person if you peek at your Christmas gifts. It's like stealing part of the moment from the people that are giving them to you, and showing that you're so impatient you can't wait. This is worse than those people who open gifts on Christmas Eve, which should b e completely unacceptable. So, if this you, work on it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

We shall never be satisfied

Christmas came a little bit early at my parents' house. When I got back into Florida, there was a Gillette Fusion razor waiting for me. But who am I to turn down a free razor? I have been living in the past with a razor that's only three razors, so not only is this razor free, I'm being propelled for free into the now. I'm doubling the number of blades on my razor.

This attitude, though, doesn't answer the question of why Gillette is sending me free Fusion razors. I didn't get Gillette anything; does that make me rude? Then again, Gillette can afford it. I haven't used it yet. I still have a few razors that are three razors, but I'm afraid to jump headlong into the six razor, in case the experience really is as revolutionary as the commercials lead me to believe. It's also a little more expensive for the six razor cartridges than the three razor cartridges.

I can't remember the last time that something I bought was as revolutionary as the advertisers wanted me to think it was. High definition television, maybe, or limeade. Actually I don't remember seeing any ads about limeade, but it is pretty darn revolutionary. Lemonade is for pansies. But I sure don't remember getting something for free that changed my life. So I have to say I'm skeptical about the Fusion. Especially since I don't know how I can be sure that Gillette will stop at six. Why not eight? How about ten? How much of a luddite will I be considered if I stick it out with my three razors? Once I try out the Fusion, you can be sure that you'll hear about how smoothly shaven my face is. My guess is that it will be delightful.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Where have all the "ue"s gone? Do doo doot, do doo doot...

For some reason, I have been writing a couple of words recently that end in -gue. Word and Google with their built in spell checkers have alerted me with their ubiquitous squiggly red underlining that the ue in some of those words are unnecessary. Now, I am an above average speller (I am hesitant to claim greatness in a category like this, because as soon as I do I know I'm going to get called out for misspelling something in this very post), so I got a little nervous. Catalogue, for example, is underlined right now, as I write this. Dialogue is another one. Microsoft and Google prefer catalog and dialog, and they look naked, not unlike alway. I usually take heed from the red squiggles, but the green squiggles I usually ignore, because computers still suck at grammar. If they spoke, I would expect them to sound like some FOB Eastern European with their botched syntax but excellent vocabulary.

Since I am considerably less confident in my ability to keep perfect memory compared to a computer, I looked it up with sweat forming on my brow, and sure enough, dialogue and catalogue are the proper spellings. (I also learned that brow is a synonym for gangplank. Who knew?) Although, in both cases, the alternate -ueless spelling is also included as an alternate spelling. I don't remember this happening. My honest-to-God dictionary (as opposed to a virtual one on the internet) that I stole from the Thorn has it the same way, so apparently this other spelling has been out there for some time. Is this like a British/American thing? Am I supporting the pansy Europeans? I hope not, because I like the -ue. I also like tea, and am not ashamed to admit it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Bowl Predictions

I love this coming time of year. The Bowl Games fill me with a wondrous delight, making me wish that Div II got better coverage so I would care about it enough to want to faithfully watch all of their playoff games as well. The week from Christmas to New Year's is like God's present to me, because Christmas is pretty concentrated awesome, the good football games start, and it ends with my birthday. Bowl Week's gotten a little bloated, though, since now it's like 3 weeks. But who has two thumbs and isn't complaining about that? This guy.

Dec 19 - Poinsettia Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. TCU (-12.5)
NIU has got a great tailback and nothing else. TCU has a coach that probably belongs in a BCS conference. Frogs win big, beat the spread, but Garrett Wolfe gets like 1,000 yards.

Dec 21 - Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (-4.0) vs. Oregon
Oregon has been playing like hell lately, and BYU will get another chance to try to knock off a quality BCS opponent (they almost brought down BC in Cherry Hill). BYU has only lost two, the other being to Arizona (a team that also beat Oregon by a bigger margin). I think I'm going to have to take Oregon, though, because it's a well known fact that Mormons are afraid of Ducks.

Dec 22 - New Orleans Bowl
Rice (-6.0) vs. Troy
Wow. Two crappy teams playing for a bowl game who don't normally get to do that. Rice is on a 6 game winning streak right now, after losing to the likes of Houston, UCLA, Texas, Tulane and FSU (who put 55 on them, back when we thought FSU might still be good). Troy isn't quiet as hot right now, but they didn't get crushed as badly by Florida State. Troy lost to crappier teams, though, so it looks like Rice should win this one. Maybe Rice should try some jambalaya while they're in New Orleans.

Dec 23 - Bowl
USF (-3.5) vs. ECU
Jim Leavitt has had the second best year of any Florida coach so far this year, and it's largely thanks to Matt Grothe, the talented freshman QB. The Pirates don't really have much on their resume, other than a win over NCSU, but they were pretty terrible this year. USF has wins over Pitt, UNC, WVU(!), and one that should've been a win against Rutgers. It's hard not to like the Bulls in this one, especially since Pirates are nowhere near as sweet as ninjas.

Dec 23 - New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico (-4.5) vs. San Jose St.
Anytime San Jose St. played anyone remotely good, they lost. NM at least beat Utah. I guess I'll take the Lobos, because apparently they get to play at home.

Dec 23 - Armed Forces Bowl
Tulsa vs. Utah (-2.5)
The Golden Hurricane of Tulsa has been a little off at the end of their season, but Utah's been going all right. The Runnin' Utes beat TCU, which is the best win between them. I'll go with Utah, even though Mormons don't have the same fear of Hurricanes that they do of ducks.

Dec 24 - Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii (-8.5) vs. Arizona State
This one's easy. Hawaii's Colt Brennan (yes, there are two QBs in NCAA football named Colt) has amassed PlayStation style numbers (53 TDs on the year!) and will tear apart ASU's defense through the air. Hawaii gets the game on their home field and the Devil's coach just got fired. The over/under is 74.5, and I gotta tell ya, the over would be tempting. But Hawaii wins big, by two TDs at least. I was about to say, "Wouldn't it suck to have to play football on Christmas Eve?" but then I remembered they're doing it in Hawaii, so I'm guessing not really.

Dec 26 - Motor City Bowl
Middle Tennessee vs. Central Michigan (-10.)
The only thing MTSU has going for it is that CMU's coach is heading to Cincinnati, but I don't think it'll be enough. CMU wins the game, but not the spread. It would probably suck worse to play in Detroit the day after Christmas, because they probably make you practice on the 25th. And Detroit's not exactly Hawaii.

Dec 27 - Emerald Bowl
FSU vs. UCLA (-5.0)
Wow. FSU is playing in a San Francisco bowl and isn't favored. I don't think UCLA will have any motivational problems, since FSU is still FSU, even if they aren't really this year. The Seminoles aren't really gelling, and I find it hard to believe that they will for this game, which is essentially meaningless. UCLA wins, and gets to end their season with wins over two storied programs who have been at their weakest points in the last five years. Next, Bruins Quarterback Patrick Cowan will beat up a cripple in La Jolla.

Dec 28 - Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State (-2.5) vs. Alabama
If Alabama had a coach, I might swing their way. But they don't, and may not have a permanent guy before this game happens. OKSt wins a close one, and the folks in Tuscaloosa are trying to remember why they fired Mike Shula.

Dec 28 - Holiday Bowl
Texas A&M vs. California (-5.5)
This is the very bowl where two years ago Cal got humiliated by Texas Tech after Mack Brown talked his way into the Rose Bowl to let Vince Young smoke Michigan the way he smoked the Texans last weekend. Although, the Michigan team may have been better than the Texans. Cal played two good teams, maybe three if you count UCLA or Oregon (you can't have both). They lost to two of them (or all of them, if you don't count UCLA or Oregon). TAMU has beaten Texas and Mizzou, and lost to OKSt and OU by a combined total of two points. I think Cal is in for another surprise; the Bears might win the first half, but the Aggies will take over in the second and win.

Dec 28 - Texas Bowl
Rutgers (-7.5) vs. Kansas State
Rutgers. Next.

Dec 29 - Gaylord Hotels Music Cirty Bowl
Clemson (-10) vs. Kentucky
I have to tell you, this game scares the hell out of me. We're favored by a lot, and my flag football team could probably score on Kentucky's defense. But the Tigers have been off their game ever since the VT blowout. I think we'll win, but I don't think we beat the spread. Vic Koenning needs to get our defense back to form, since we got manhandled by the Gamecocks on the ground.

Dec 29 - Sun Bowl
Oregon State (-3.5) vs. Missouri
Mizzou ended the season kind of poorly, but they lost to some quality opponents. Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Iowa State were three losses that ended three of their last four games. They probably should have lost all the games they did, except maybe Iowa State, and that's a close call, it was in Ames. Oregon State ended with a three game winning streak, topped off by a win over Hawaii. I think I'll take the Beavers in this one, but I must admit I don't really care that much.

Dec 29 - Liberty Bowl
USC (fake) (-7.0) vs. Houston
I think this is a game that the Cocks can lose, but I hope they don't because that would be embarrassing for us. I'll take South Carolina with the points.

Dec 29 - Insight Bowl
Texas Tech (-7.0) vs. Minnesota
I like Texas Tech a lot, and I'm glad that Leach won't be coaching in the ACC at Miami like he was rumored to be. Minnesota kind of sucks right now, so I'll definitely take Texas Tech in this one. Red Raiders steal the Golden Gophers' nuts. Do Gophers eat nuts? Well, regardless, the Raiders are stealing them.

Dec 29 - Champs Sports Bowl
Purdue vs. Maryland (even)
Maryland. Purdue sucks.

Dec 30 - Car Care Bowl
Navy vs. Boston College (-6.5)
Talk about an unfortunate match up. Navy is a solid team that could win this game, and if they don't, BC won't get any credit for it. Tom O'Brien won't be leading the Eagles against the Midshipmen, and I think that might be the difference in this game. Navy wins the spread, and I think they win this game, too. The option is just ca-razy.

Dec 30 - Alamo Bowl
Texas (-11.0) vs. Iowa
I would take Texas with a 15 point spread. Iowa was supposed to be good, but (surprise) they weren't really. Which is especially rough, since the Big Ten had two good times, one that might be good and the rest was crap. They finished with 2 conference wins, against Illinois and Purdue; they got beat by Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota. You know what? I'd take Texas if it was a 20 point spread. UT by like three TDs. Actually, that's assuming Colt McCoy is healthy; if he's not that line is pretty accurate.

Dec 30 - Peach bowl
Georgia vs. Virginia Tech (-3.0)
People are giving UGa too much credit. The win over Auburn was definitely a good one, but other than that, this guy's not impressed. I would take VT with double the points. The Hokies are the best team in the ACC right now and will make the Bulldogs cry. The Gobbler will peck Uga's eyes out.

Dec 31 - MPC Computers
Miami (-3.0) vs. Nevada
This one is a hard one to read. Nevada will be super pumped to be playing Miami, and who knows how Miami will be feeling. Nevada hasn't really beaten anybody good, so I think that will make Miami feel like they can handle it on talent. I'll take Nevada in that case. I was going to make a joke involving the pistol offense, but then I remembered that one of the Miami players was actually shot, and that joke may not be in bounds.

Jan 1 - Outback Bowl
Penn State vs. Tennessee (-4.5)
Penn State isn't a bad team, but I think Tennessee is better. The Nittany Lions got hammered by Notre Dame, and I think the Vols look a lot like them, except better at every position other than QB. I doubt the score will be as gawdy as the Irish-Lions matchup, but Tennessee wins the spread.

Jan 1 - Cotton Bowl
Auburn (-3.0) vs. Nebraska
This is a rather good match up. Nebraska has played some good games this year, but I think that Auburn will probably be better in the end. Go Tigers! At least this gives the Cornhuskers a chance to escape the State of Nebraska, for a little while, anyway.

Jan 1 - Gator Bowl
Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia (-7.0)
Chan Gailey coached maybe the worst game of his life in one of his biggest, so I expect the Mountaineers to look good in Jacksonville, especially with a big crowd behind them. It would've been fun to see Clemson in this match up, but after letting Cory Boyd run all over us, I think it would've been pretty ugly. There's no telling where Reggie Ball's passes will end up, because he has been pretty terrible lately. WVU wins.

Jan 1 - Citrus Bowl
Arkansas (-1.0) vs. Wisconsin
This one has the most deceptive lines in all of the bowl games. Wisconsin has an 11-1 record, and their only loss comes to Michigan, who could've played in the title game. Arkansas has three losses, one came from USC while All-Everything RB Darren McFadden wasn't 100%, one from LSU in a rivalry game, and one from UF, in the SEC Championship game. The Razorback's wins, though, include an Auburn team when they were on, a solid South Carolina team and a good Tennessee team. Wisconsin, on the other hand, didn't play anybody. They will get exposed by McFadden in a big way. Arkansas by 14 at least.

Jan 1 - Rose Bowl
Michigan vs. USC (real) (-1.0)
Wow, I'm a little surprised that the Trojans are favored. I guess they are pretty much at home, but I do have to say that I like them in this one. I think UM is nowhere near as good as people think, because the Big Ten has been very weak, with the exception of Ohio State this year. The Wolverines could suffer from let-down syndrome, since they missed the big one. I don't think Carroll's squad will have that problem. USC wins by more than one, and Song Girls are way better than the UM cheerleaders.

Jan 1 - Fiesta Bowl
Boise State vs. Oklahoma (-8.0)
Sooners should win. Boise's a solid team, but OU has the best running back in college football and a serious defense. Sooners by 10.

Jan 2 - Orange Bowl
Louisville (-9.5) vs. Wake Forest
I think this is one of the most compelling match ups of the bowl games. Clearly, the smart money says the Cards will score huge on the Deacs. However, Wake has got solid coaching and has been able to run with all sorts of teams that have way more talent than they do. They also haven't gotten a lot of love from anybody so far. Their secondary will have a huge task trying to contain UL's passing attack, but I think they will keep it close. Cardinals win the game, but not the spread.

Jan 3 - Sugar Bowl
Notre Dame vs. LSU (-8.5)
I don't see the attraction to Notre Dame. I don't know why so many people like them. Did they buy everyone hookers once? The Irish are in way over their head on this one. I think that people are going nuts over Charlie Weis way prematurely. He had a great big pile of Catholic money dumped on him, and I don't think he's done anything at Notre Dame that any other above average coach wouldn't have been able to do. They have an overrated team, and overrated coach and are playing a game in which they don't belong. LSU could've been the best team in the country and would be in the title picture if a few questionable calls went the other way against Auburn. The Tigers will crush the Irish in ways that the Irish have never been crushed before, but that won't stop them from getting embarrassed in a bowl game they shouldn't go to again next year. ND has the longest active losing streak in bowls. Tell you something? I will still watch this game, even though it will be the most one-sided of all BCS bowls, because ND deserves having everyone to watch them get beaten badly for taking the spot of a more deserving team.

Jan 6 - International Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati (-8.0)
What the hell is this game doing so late in the bowl season? I don't like this. Cincinnati wins though.

Jan 7 - GMAC Bowl
Ohio vs. Southern Miss (-6.5)
I can't say I like this pattern. USM wins this one.

Jan 8 - Championship Game
Ohio State (-8.0) vs. Florida
First off, that line is way too big. UF wins the spread, no question in my mind. The Buckeyes are a great team, but they really had an easy path to the BCS game. They played a Texas team that started a freshman quarterback in his second start. They played Iowa and Penn State while they were ranked, but they turned out to be pretty terrible. The only other ranked team was Michigan. They clearly deserve the #1 spot, but I'm not sold that they deserve to be 8 point favorites. Four is more my thinking. I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but I like Florida. I actually think they can win this game. I like Urban Meyer as a coach, I think the spread option as an offense with talent like this is a really strange thing to defend against, especially with QBs and WRs as leading rushers. Florida's special teams are amazing this year (well, in coverage anyway). There is something to be said about playing that schedule and coming out with 1 loss (which hinged on a weird turnover call). I think UF should've gotten consideration for this game even if USC beat UCLA, but I think I might be the only non-Gator to think so. People thought USC was in-Vince-able last year, and look how that turned out. OSU isn't as good as USC was last year, and UF might be about as good as Texas. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Snippets and pieces

Tonight, I wrote a bit. (Yes, I write in other contexts besides this blog. Sometimes it's even meaningful!) The problem is, all that came out was just snippets and pieces, nothing that I would call "anything," really. It's kind of a letdown, like when you have what you can tell is a really great sneeze coming, and after a few of those rearing-ups that precede the best, you can't force anything out. That's kind of how I feel about it.

I also have concerns about when it comes out as something that I don't want other people to read. I know there are folks out there who write for themselves and that's nice and all, but I don't get it. I can't really get on board if I don't think that somebody, at some point, will see what I pen in some way. Like in college, I wrote some movie shorts mostly because a friend of mine wanted to make movies and didn't have any movies to make. If wanted to make billboards (or comics, ahem), I would've done that too, just so people would get a chance to see my skillz.

I have a lot of stuff in my notebooks and hard drives and what not that will never see the light of day, because it's crap. That's ok, especially if it's something that I would call finished. There's closure there, I never have to worry about it again and can never have to worry about it again, much like the turd that gets flushed away. But if it sucks and I give up mid stream, then, well, I'm going to have to use another analogy because the toilet one just won't do anymore. Abandoning a kitten? Well, a kitten who sucks, so abandoning a puppy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What are we talking about again

Do you ever wish something that was socially acceptable that isn’t because you popped something in an odd place or dug something out of somewhere that came out in a funny shape? I sometimes do. I’m not going to tell you about what happened to me, because I don’t want your vision of my awesome to be tarnished by something socially unacceptable.

I do remember a story where my aunt was (proudly [not really]) telling a story about my uncle where he dug a hunk of wax out of his ear that was a perfect sphere. He, apparently, wondered this very same question, because she then proceeded to explain how he showed this artistic achievement to her.

I know there are people who compare farts, but that is actually pretty disgusting. I think it’d be a whole different ballgame, though, if farts didn’t stink. Do you really think they’d be all that objectionable if they were as inoffensively smelling as sneezes?

I’ve also come across people who are revolted by feet, which is sort of the opposite of what I’m thinking of here, but still weird enough to be mentioned, I think. I don’t feel any sort of animosity towards any particular body part. There are some that I like more than others (and I think you probably agree) but none that really offend me.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about something, but it’s not appropriate here, so I won’t go into it. Maybe we’ll talk more about potentially vile bodily functions, but not really.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Even Hall and Oates?

If you ask ten people or so what kind of music they listen to, I would wager than about five of them will say, "Oh, I like all kinds of music." You know what I think? I think they're liars, that's what. Nobody listens to all kinds of music. There is something out there that makes you say, "I swear to God, if I have to hear another Boston song, I will commit an act of arson." Or, bagpipes. Lots of people hate bagpipes. Not me though; if I could figure out a way, I'd have bagpipes play (in this order) Auld Lang Syne, You Might Think by the Cars and Happy Birthday every year on my birthday. (My birthday is on New Year's Day, which explains Auld Lang Syne.)

But more than Boston, I think I am tired of the Eagles. I honestly can say that if I hear Take it Easy on the radio one more time I am going to burn down a gas station. Or library. But then again, this isn't about me, because I definitely do not listen to all kinds of music. I'm actually a little ashamed that my near encyclopaedic (I chose the British spelling to be extra pretentious) of classic rock music has not translated into an interest in current music. I'm working on it, though, I promise.

People who say they like all kinds of music probably don't really care that much about music as an art form. That's my conclusion. If you are equally at home listening to, say, Ashlee Simpson as you are Miles Davis or Eric Clapton or Juice Newton or Parliament or Ricky Martin, really, can your opinions on music be trusted? Can your opinions on anything be trusted? This has been a pretty italics heavy post so far.

Here's what I have to say about this whole ordeal: just man up and commit to music. The crazy thing is you don't have to be monogamous or anything! Why is this so hard? Are you worried that when you run for Congress, somebody's going to be offended you forgot to mention you like reggae? I am offering two possible actions that I think are reasonable the next time somebody says that they like all music: simply walk away, mid-sentence, or punch them in the side. I have a Peaceful Easy Feeling that this will work out great.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

No, no, not a Jew. Achoo.

I have a funny sneeze. I purposely chose an adjective of ambiguous meaning in "funny" because I mean it both in the sense that it's distinctive and at times comical. That's expected, though; I come from a rather solid pedigree of funny sneezers. My mom's is superbly loud, my dad's actually sounds like "achoo", and is the only sneeze I've ever actually heard that sounds like that. To be accurate, though, it's more like "ah.... CHOOOO!" and it sounds like he's emphasizing the last part on purpose and kind of faking it. My mom and I have called him on it, but he thinks we're crazy. All I have to say is that I'm not faking my ludicrous sneeze. My brother's individual sneezes aren't anything to sneeze at (had to be done and I apologize for it) on their own, but the real distinctions is they travel in packs. He goes for like thirteen in a row, usually.

I remember the first time somebody laughed at my sneeze. It was kind of a strange experience, because really, what's funny about a sneeze? Apparently, the answer to that question (if it's my sneeze) is "the sound." I don't know what the acoustic cause is, maybe nostrils that are just perfectly shaped to get an unusual intonation. I wonder if it would change with a nose piercing. Anyway, somebody recently said "Is that a bird call?" after one of my sneezes in place of the more traditional "bless you."

This makes me wonder what sorts of etiquette implications are involved in a sneeze. Surely it is preferred to offer the bless you than not; but where is the line drawn? And how funny does the sneeze need to be for the laugh and the [not] clever one-liner to take its place? My typical rule of thumb is that I don't give the bless you to people I don't know, and even then, usually not to dudes. Don't know why, but that's just how I roll. I sometimes don't even bother with the ladies, though, because if a person has a quiet sneeze or like a half-sneeze, it's hard to tell if a bless you is warranted, because really, is there anything more embarrassing then blessing a cough? I submit there is not.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Deal breakers

This might be a recurring post, where I discuss the qualities in a significant other that are so outrageous that I simply cannot abide them. There are a lot of things that irritate me, I mean, most of you know me so you know that already. Those of you who don't, well, you're reading my blog. People who aren't bothered by trivial things don't write these.

1. I'll start easy - smoking. Smoking is not attractive. Also, it makes you smell bad. Women are supposed to smell delightful, like flowers or cinnamon or whiskey. Why would you want to ruin that with smoke? It's completely an aesthetic thing, though, so I don't have any opinion about someone who used to smoke, so long as they never do it again; secretly smoking is still unacceptable.

2. Tattoos are not high on my list either. Mostly, it's a declaration of a person's poor decision making ability. I don't want to be in a position where a person who decided it would be a good idea to permanently place an image of a dolphin on her hip can be involved in doing things like having a say in my financial future or driving my car.

3. Baby talk. Self-explanatory. I'll give them a warning, but this isn't baseball; one warning and that's it.

4. Riding with an animal in the car. The only exception for this is a trip to the vet. I am especially enraged when I see people ride with dogs in their laps. I want to go yell at people I don't know when I see this happen. It's dangerous, since you might kill me or dent a cool car like a Porsche or something if Bruiser makes in your lap, and it shows that you are so co-dependent you can't run to the bank without your pet. This should probably even result in a revocation of your license.

I'm also not fond of pets wearing clothes, but there are exceptions where this is ok. Mostly if it's funny enough. For example, a good friend of mine said that she was buying a Halloween costume for her dog, and I proceeded to explain how I hate people who do that and that I didn't really want to hate her, since we'd been friends for like 10 years, but then she said the costume was a hot dog. I was relieved, because a dog dressed as a hot dog is definitely funny enough, so I didn't have to hate my best friend.

Surprisingly, that's all I can think of right now. There'll probably be more someday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Whatever happened to that one with the chick gyrating to Foghat

I make fun of commercials and ad campaigns that are retarded pretty often. Taco Bell frequently comes to mind, as does Capital One. I just learned that as does is an awkward series of words. I do feel like I owe, every now and again, that I should credit to the commercials that do a good job, too. Geico had been the best of the bunch for a while. I haven't seen a new one in a while, though, so I can't speak of its current quality. The one with Mini-me kind of sucked, actually.

I like what the Hardee's ad people are doing. Granted, it's not making me laugh or being particularly memorable, but whenever I see a Hardee's commercial, I have an absolute understanding of who they are and for what they stand. They want to put as much stuff on top of a burger and to hell with all those whiny hippies who think stuff should be even moderately healthy. You're not going to see any McSalads at this place. You're going to see a pair of hamburger patties surrounded by mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, cheese and bacon. But there sure won't be any lettuce on that beast because that would just take the place of more bacon.

The commercial I saw most recently unveiled a new topping for this manliest of sandwiches: chili. Brilliant. What else could they add to make this sandwich more self-destructive? A chicken breast? We can only hope. I will be both simultaneously proud and pissed if that happens.

I think that Hardee's has a few things it can do to really go the distance and become the place to go where you want to kill yourself with food, like include a milkshake that is made entirely of egg and butter. Or offer a peanut butter dipping sauce for the french fries and chicken nuggets. Actually, I'm not sure that Hardee's offers chicken nuggets; chicken is too lean for a place like this. I also think that to really complete the picture, Hardee's needs to serve some sort of alcoholic beverage, but not just any. Beer isn't strong enough, vodka is too clean, bourbon is too refined. Moonshine. A perfect meal at would be like two 1/3 pound patties with six strips of bacon, a healthy slathering of mayo and three slices of cheese. Forget the tomato and pickles, they're too natural. Top it off with a side of fried breading (forget the potato part of the fries), dipped in deep fried ketchup, with a half a pint of moonshine. I could go for that right now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I ate 3.14 slices of pie today

Today, as you are probably aware, was Thanksgiving. Unless you're in Canada, then it was sometime last month. But I'm not, and I ate turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing today. It was glorious. I'm so glad we do this every year. It's really too bad that the whole being thankful part of Thanksgiving is so minimized. Because I'm definitely thankful for gravy. And pie.

For some reason, nearly 50% of the people who were in attendance of my family's Thanksgiving festivities brought a pie. Or two. Or in some cases, more. The highlight was my brother's chocolate cheesecake, which was pretty spectacular. To properly capture it's spectacularity in words, I would say it's like when you get the white Toad's house in Mario 3. There were other pies too, so many that I didn't even get the chance to get to the pecan, which is easily my favorite of the holiday pies. I know what you're thinking right now, "What about that lovable gourd, pumpkin? Surely you didn't forget that! There's even a Charlie Brown special about pumpkins!" And you'd be right, I didn't forget. I just hate them. Pumpkin pies seem to me as if they were created as an industrial alternative to giving soldiers real dessert in World War I. I understand that this is probably heretical to a lot of you, and I am at peace with that.

I didn't get to the pecan pie because there was also a key lime pie in attendance, which is my goto dessert for the non-holiday times. There was even a homemade graham cracker crust involved, and honestly, I don't need Christmas now. So, considering that, key lime won out over pecan, even though it was a holiday. We also had cherry and mince meat and probably another that I'm forgetting. Cherry is a fine pie, but it's no apple; mince meat was an interesting choice because nobody on earth aside from my grandfather actually likes it. The highlight of this particular dessert, though, was that there was a rather lengthy debate about what mince meat actually is. There was unanimous agreement that raisins and currants were involved, but the presence of actual meat was disputed. I fall within the pro-meat camp; but don't misinterpret that to mean that I think it's a good idea.

Oh, also, I was awoken this morning much earlier than I would have liked to the sound of Christmas music. This is particularly poignant because just yesterday my mom was complaining about the ubiquitous nature of Christmas music so early. I was pretty sure that tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, is the first day it's legal to play Christmas music. But I think I'll let the early waking thing slide, since she also made the key lime pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why aren't there Thanksgiving Carols?

I was going to post a vintage Opinions Editor piece from the Rose Thorn that talked about Thanksgiving, and notably, mashed potatoes and gravy. Turkey gravy placed on mashed potatoes is the greatest combination of things in human history, with the single exception of me and Giada De Laurentiis. I ran into some trouble with the formatting, so I guess you get an original instead.

The column I was going to post, incidentally, was written around the time the last Bond movie release, as well. I consider myself pretty well versed in the James Bond universe, and Die Another Day was in the bottom three of all the 20 movies. This next I expect to see later this evening, and I hope it's better. I have an awful lot invested in this franchise, when you consider time, money and knowledge, so I really hope this one's better.

Even if it's not, I guess tomorrow's feast will be enough to erase if from my immediate memory. Thanksgiving is a pretty high ranking holiday on my depth chart. Christmas, The 4th of July and St. Patrick's Day are all up there, too. I like holidays that involve food, although the 4th isn't nearly as much food central as the others. Sure, you have hamburgers and hot dogs, but they don't compare to turkey, ham and corned beef. Or mashed potatoes and gravy.

There's some family involved, too I guess. Every time I come home, there is not enough time for all the people I need to see, so there are just some people who don't make the cut. It's not their fault; there's only so much time and I only have to much motivation to see people I don't see all that often. Really, sitting on my couch watching Everyday Italian sounds a lot more appealing than trying to carry on a conversation with someone who only cares enough to try to answer back twice a year.

Anyway, I think that pretty much covers the important parts: mashed potatoes and gravy, James Bond, Italian women, and family who are only vaguely interested in you. That's what Thanksgiving is to me. There are also some more interested family, but they're more frequently seen, and part of the everyday landscape rather than the holiday one. And you know what? In a month, we do the same thing over again at Christmas. Spectacular!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't neglect the vents

Over the course of long drives, maintaining the delicate balance of the air conditioner can be tricky. This is especially true if it's cold or rainy outside, since the that causes the inside of the windshield to fog up. Alternating between face vent for comfort and defroster for being able to see stuff is a careful process, like maintaining the pH in a saltwater aquarium. But when you are worrying about comfort, I think that people underestimate the floor vents in their car. The conventional wisdom is to use the face-level vents to control the climate in the automobile because you feel it first. Also, people don't generally wear shoes on their face. I am here to tell you that the floor vents are not to be ignored.

This is especially true if you are driving with flip-flops. If you have warm air blowing over flip-flop shod feet it's akin to putting on socks fresh out of the dryer for the entire trip. That itself is worth consideration. It also slows down the rate at which the windshield will fog up on the inside, since it takes longer for the air to reach the windshield (or as they say in England, windscreen).

My AC has like 12 divisions on the temperature dial and the standard 4 for fan, plus the on/off switch for the compressor. That is sometimes not enough gradations to get the ideal temperature in the car; I could talk about heat transfer here, but that would be a discussion involving Watts and Navier-Stokes, and nobody wants that. But here's the thing: you can use the floor vents to divert some face vent air as like a half step between temperatures! It's brilliant, especially if you're wearing shoes. If you're wearing flip-flops, it's just delightful.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You know you're a person who [lives here, works here or does something] when...

The internet is a handy thing. It allows for the rapid distribution of news, information and nonsense written by people like me. Part of that nonsense is jokes, and I would say about 97% of them are not funny. For example, the "You know you're a [whatever] when..." which seem to be oh so popular among people who are [whatever]. In the early days of the internet, before people really understood, these mass forwardings of what are essentially chain letters seemed cute and nice. They are not. The first ones I remember seeing are for Southerner and Small Town in place of [whatever], including the appropriate grammar to make them fit. I also remember seeing my freshman year the other guy from Florida on my floor in my dorm put up the corresponding one from Florida, and it was not funny. In fact, it was a little embarrassing, because it reflected poorly on my glorious state. Florida is called the Sunshine State for a reason; when you think of it you should think of heaven falling from the sky rather than jokes about how to pronounce Kissimmee.

I guess I have to ask the question why are they so popular? Why does have my facebook friends list include them as one of their groups, especially when hometown is one of the things they fill out anyway? I can see that you're from New Jersey. Or Indiana. Or Chicago. Or Charleston. The inane list of landmarks and colloquialisms is fine and all, but is that something you really want to advertise? And driving habits are a favorite, particularly with New Jersey, Michigan and the touristy places. They have weird left turns in MI, and they love themselves for it. Apparently NJ has something strange about that too, so does that mean Michiganders are going to have to throw themselves off the Mackinac Bridge because they're not the only place with crazy turns? And if it's a forwarded e-mail, is this something that I am really going to read? If I know you, I already know you're from wherever. If it's about Florida, or Daytona or something, I already know about those locations, because I live there. If it's from someplace I've never lived, then these jokes aren't going to be funny. See the inherent failure of the joke?

Also, it might be devastating to learn, but many of those things, particularly about tourist beach towns, are not unique. Every tourist beach town is almost exactly the same when you describe them on paper. Myrtle Beach looks a lot like Daytona Beach -- full of junk shops where you can buy towels with dolphins, the name of the city and naked ladies on them. Savannah, Charleston and St. Augustine are very old and similar, too, except St. Augustine is Spanish instead of English, which means StAuggy has better food.

I don't want to simply say, "Let's stop doing these," because I guess if you really want to who am I to stop you? I just need to point out that they are not that funny. None of them are. None of them are particularly creative, either. I have seen White Castle as an important distinction in both the Midwest and the Northeast, two regions of distinctly different culture which each claim a fast food restaurant as a regional landmark. You might be from Florida if you like college football and eat seafood and go to the beach! Nobody else does that, right?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I started reading about Borat and ended up at Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

I hope this happens to other people. Sometimes I start thinking about something, go look it up, and somehow end up at IMDB or Wikipedia and one thing leads to another and I don't know how I got there. Sometimes it starts with Napoleon and ends up at the Farsi language; others I start looking up what the deal with the free kick after a safety is all about and find myself reading about Paul of Tarsus. You might want to know what the intermediate steps of that chain would be, and honestly, so do I.

Usually, when this happens, I don't even remember why I wanted to know about the thing that sent me on this snipe hunt in the first place. Like tonight, for example, I was sitting on my bed watching the football game, started to check out a video with Sacha Baron Cohen appearing with Martha Stewart on Leno and next thing I know I'm thinking to myself, "You know, if Sarah Silverman were consistently funny instead of annoying, she'd be the perfect woman," and watching Desperate Housewives. But then again, if Silverman's with Jimmy Kimmel these days, then there are deficiencies with her decision making of which I want no part.

In these bizarre series of discovery, you never know what you'll find out. Like that Dr. Katz was on for six seasons. Remember that impossibly irritating program that had wiggly people in it? It was one of the very early Comedy Central shows, back when it had stuff on it that wasn't MadTV. I watched a lot of Dr. Katz in the mornings when I was home from school during the summers. You might also find out things that will be helpful in Jeopardy, like for example, the word prose comes from the Latin word prosa, meaning straightforward. Unless Wikipedia is lying, which it very well might be. I didn't get that far in my Latin class to know for sure. I do remember that "rex parvorum virorum sum" means "I am the king of the small men." Beautiful language, that Latin.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Can't be simple again

I don't want to write about things that irritate me today. It gets kind of depressing, you know? It gets hard to write about things that are awesome, because you don't see them all that often, and usually they don't cause the same sorts of emotional reactions that things you hate do. For example, the KKK didn't make parades and give awards to honor white people, the made parades and lynched black people and Jews, even though we know that the KKK did indeed think white people were pretty awesome and that blacks and Jews were decidedly less awesome. I think that if they had Chad Johnson back then we could've missed a big part of our racist history. That is, Chad Johnson from last season.

The problem, though, is when you turn on the tv you see stuff like Capitol One commercials (do these people not realize when to pull the plug on a campaign that is terrible?), people talking about how Rutgers might be more deserving of a spot in the BCS title game than a 1-loss SEC team (Louisville or WVU I would buy pre-loss, but Rutgers I think is a stretch), or that Wal-Mart ran out of Scrubs Season 4s, it's easy to fall into that trap again. There are like a hundred commercials that are just as insipid as Capitol One (what's in your wallet?), so that's a pit of despair that I just want to avoid for now. College football makes me a little sadder now that Clemson lost two in a row. Not having Scrubs Season 4 should be punishable by fine, which is problematic, since I don't have it yet. I blame Wal-Mart.

There is still awesome stuff out there, though. Like simple pleasures that often get overlooked. Think about some of the things that you did today, were any of them spectacular? I can think of a few. I just changed my sheets today. So all day, I get to look forward to climbing into a tightly made bed with fresh sheets. I also just bought new razor blades, so next time I shave I will have a hard time not touching my own face all day. If I had thought ahead, I would've shaved today, so that I can lay my smooth face down on fresh pillowcases. I might still do that before I go to sleep.

I also like it when I finish a glass of milk and then refill it, so that first drink tastes way colder than the last one did. I like milk so much, I could go to a bar and be happier with a pitcher of milk than beer. It's just hard to keep it cold enough to not get gross. Although I hear that Europeans serve it warm. I think that may be part of the reason why America's political power rose so sharply following WW2. On a related food note, I made chili today and smell in my apartment was great.

These are insignificant, yes. But the point is, I didn't do anything today. I mean it; the most productive thing I did (aside from the chili) was take a nap. I could come up with a few good things to write about on a day when I did absolutely nothing, so unless you're a Republican in Congress, let's be less pissed off.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I just spent a good part of the past four days inside of a car on an interstate in one of three states in the southeast. Geography quiz: one of them was South Carolina and one of them was Florida, can you guess the other?

Now, this drive is boring. I suppose any 8 hour drive would be boring. There are only two places where I actually enjoyed the driving part: through Tennessee and to Key West. The scenery adds to the merriment in those two places. I was reminded while I was behind the wheel of my Ram how much I don't understand vanity plates. People actually go out of their way to pay their respective state governments extra money to put a little message on the backs of their cars. It's puzzling. The biggest drawback, I think, is that you can't rob a bank. I don't think I'll ever actually do that, but I'd like to have the option. But if the back of my car said ENGRSTD, then it'd be pretty easy to catch me. So I'm going to go with the quickpick whenever I buy a new car.

In order to pass the time on the 500 mile drive, I started to take note of the plates that I saw, and I'm going to comment on the best ones now. I hope I'm not breaking the law by publishing them.

I saw the first two right near each other, and they were the ones that really got me started on this project: I4PEACE and IM LATE. What in the world would possess someone to announce to the driving public IM LATE? I4PEACE I guess I understand a little better, but really, who's for war? Nobody is for war; even the people who are in favor of the war don't want war.

I saw a couple that I didn't know what they meant, like KREON and YARDNU. The only Kreon I know is from Oedipus, but that was spelled Creon, and I'm pretty sure that if he was real he's dead by now. And besides, Creon was killed by his son, who then went on to marry Jocasta, Creon's wife and Oedipus's mom, so that's not really the sort of thing that people would brag about, unlike TEAM DOC or FLYBOI. I saw TEAM DOC in the parking lot of the O'Connell Center at UF, so I suspect it was a trainer for the current National Champs or just a liar. I suspect Flyboi is a pilot, and used the less frequently seen spelling of boy, but I really wish he was a skater. I saw DUXNBUX up here, and I didn't get what that meant until my Wisconsonite roommate explained that it has something to do with hunting. Although it was a while ago, so I can't be positive that it wasn't BUXNDUX, but really, who cares.

The last two, though, are way better than any of these earlier ones. IM NONNI was on the back of some station wagon in Georgia, I think, that was driven by someone I can only imagine was Nonni. 4ALPACAS is a bit of a mystery, since 4 can be a stand-in for a variety of homophones. We can't be sure if this man owns four alpacas, is an advocate for alpacas of any number, or he frequently plays golf with the South American llama like creatures. Honestly, I'm in the golf camp because I think it's a little unrealistic that the guy would be advocate for alpacas.

I saw a few others, but they were even dumber than these. One girl in high school had MS GIRL except instead of girl, it was her actual name. I'm a little conflicted as to whether or not I should put her actual name on there. But if any of my readers out there have a vanity plate, please understand that this is all in jest when I say: I think you spent your money on an identifying mark that makes you look a little bit retarded.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No funciona la computadora

My regular schedule has been slowed due to a catastrophic failure in my laptop's backlight, making it very difficult to do things like see what I'm clicking. Instead, I have to use my lab computer as if it were my own, which is ok, I guess, but it makes me feel like one of the foreign people who basically lives in their offices, like the tall Sikh or the Chinese girl who has a boy's haircut but is still somehow kind of cute. I'll bet they know how to make good food, though.

Anyway, I'm sitting in my lab, trying to justify my time here by looking for articles on how to improve the vacuum seal of my project, but really, I don't think there's any search terms that will give me any sort of useful journals, since "vacuum seal" is pretty generic. It's like the mechanical engineering equivalent of searching for something like "existential angst" in an English database; it's not the most common thing, but you have your hands full looking through the results.

As you can probably imagine, at 8:15, I'm not making a lot of progress. I'm pretty sure the answer is that my setup won't work, so I'm not really that concerned anyway. I'm in here by myself rocking out to Pet Sounds. Actually, there may or may not be a post doc in the next lab over, listening to me harmonize. But who is he to judge?

Anyway, I didn't want to lose my surging fanbase of 6 because I have been having trouble updating. I expect to resume my normal level of output sometime next week, after I steal my little brother's hand-me-down, which is a little shaming for an engineer to admit.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


There is something inherently fascinating about the vending machines where things fall down after you select them. Like candy bars or gum, after the strange circular springs (which look like dough hooks) rotate and advance them and they fall into the ingeniously designed chamber that prevents you from reaching your hand up to pluck them from their resting places. There was an episode of The Critic where guns did that.

I purchased an individually sized, overpriced bag of potato chips in this manner today to eat with my lunch. (It was a chicken sandwich with swiss cheese, mayonnaise and honey mustard, if you're curious. It was average.) Some of the chips were smashed when I ate them, and that is really unfortunate. Is there anything less desirable, chipwise, than broken pieces? No.

This isn't revolutionary news, I'm aware, because chips are frequently broken at the bottom. However, I also noticed that the potato chips are on the top level of the vending machine. What a disastrous placement of such a fragile food! Especially when there are heartier things in there, like Snickers and granola bars small tubes of Pringles. I want to share with you a design to help minimize the tragedy of chip breakage in vending machine falls. Observe:

I can't say for certain that the chips weren't broken before the fall, but really, I don't want to take that chance, either. Hopefully, together we can keep other chips from suffering a similar fate. The gum can go screw itself, though.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My clothes sometimes smell like wood. That's not an innuendo. (Inyourendo.)

My dresser, as most dressers are, is made of some variety of wood. I purchased mine about five months ago, and it still sometimes transfers the odor of wood to my shirts and pants. On its face, that is not any real problem, since wood usually smells nice. However, it kind of plays with your head when you smell it on clothes, like if you were to drink a glass of milk and it tasted like celery. It's not inherently bad, it's just weird enough that it catches you off guard and feels wrong.

So, after I do my laundry and stick my clothes in the dresser, it collects the sent of cheap pine. After a few hours of everyday wear, though, it just starts to smell like regular clothes, so it's not a big deal. The big news is I started using a new laundry detergent last time I went grocery shopping, and the combination of cheap pine and Cheer is a smell as foul as any I have ever experienced, save a fat guy waiting in line on Summer day at Disney world. I mostly notice it in my towels, which makes me really excited to dry my hair with them. I worry that my head is broadcasting all sorts of stink rays, some ruthless combination of Cheer and pine, that makes my otherwise dapper appearance seem completely offensive.

I think I'm just going to have to wait it out, though, use up all of my laundry detergent and go back to an odorless soap once its all gone. I didn't realize at the time that I was buying an scented one, or that the previous one was in fact odorless. I just knew that my clothes didn't smell like the underside of the Loch Ness monster's flippers. Maybe I should just do what I used to do, and leave my clothes in piles on my floor. I never had unfortunately smells in my shirts when I did that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I can think of something you probably don't care about

Every once in a while, I'll notice that my profile is next to empty, and say, "You know, I should add stuff to it, because the whole thing about Capricorn seems to give the wrong impression of me." Even though it does it automatically, being a Capricorn isn't all that important to me. I don't really even know what it means to be a Capricorn, but it is kind of a funny idea to make a goat that's also a fish.

So looking at the things to add to my profile are a bunch of things that I really can't imagine the average visitor caring about. I try to entertain you for a few minutes with these delightful blogs, and the best that Google can offer for the profile is the generic list of movie, music, etc. They try to be cute with their random questions, but they always suck. They try to be off the wall, and it's obvious that they're trying too hard and it comes off weak. At least that's how I see it. For example, the current one it's asking me is: " When your science teacher smashed a frozen rose with a hammer, did you warm the petals to bring them back to life?" I can only assume they're talking about the liquid nitrogen demonstrations where you can freeze the water in stuff to make it really rigid in this case, and the best part is the liquid nitrogen, which they don't even mention. Also, the use of the hammer takes away from the demonstration; it's great because you stick a flower or a whatever into the nitrogen and slam it on the table and pieces go everywhere and nobody in the seventh grade is expecting it. Also, when you pluck the flower, it's already dead.

But really, most people who write these blogs are so self-centered that they're writing about themselves anyway and will probably talk about movies and music they like in the text of the writing itself. Many of those self-centered people aren't interesting enough to write about other stuff too, so by taking away the music and movies they like, what are you leaving them, Google? You're not going to force us to read about what people ate for lunch, are you?

I guess the idea is that people can read the profiles and see "Oh, this person is interested in politics and cats and loved Hitch. I think I'll read this blog." The about me is also a puzzler. I'm either completely anonymous or you already knew me. If I'm anonymous, why do you want to know if I prefer Coke to Pepsi or like sour cream and onion potato chips? If you already know me, then you already know me. Maybe this irritation is one of the personality traits that a goat would have if it were also a fish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let it Rain

I haven't gone into the lab yet today because it's raining. Really. I woke up this morning, heard the rain falling down, and said to myself, "It's rainy and probably cold. I don't feel like putting on shoes yet." My job is either awesome or terrible, it's hard to say.

I am probably going to go in after I finish lunch, though. It's still raining, but I don't really have anything else to do this afternoon anyway, other than play Xbox, and that seems kind of depressing. What I really wanted to write about today is the food I'm eating for lunch. I've already told you that I'm pretty awesome with food, but I want to take it a step further. Over the weekend, I decided to recreate a Cuban dish I had in Miami that was stellar. It's called ropa vieja, which means old clothes. Nothing as delicious as a shredded t-shirt seasoned with cumin.

It got that name because it looks like shredded clothes, which is kind of weird, because I don't know how carrots fit into a fashion ensemble. The meal involves flank steak, a tomato based sauce and vegetables over rice. It's the sort of meal I should carry around with me in a small pan and portable stove, to get people to do my bidding. I need to recruit a chorus of women to eat my food and then sing me praises in three part harmony.

I have a very general theory of food that coastal cultures in general produce better food than mainland cultures. Peoples like Cuban, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Thai, etc, do good work, particularly when contrasted with the trainwreck that is German or Slavic cuisine. (Chorizo, a Spanish sausage, is infinitely better than any sausage to come out of Germany.) There are, of course, exceptions; for example, my very own peoples, the British and the Irish aren't really spectacular at food making, and they're both islands. (They seem to have brewing and distilling down pat, though). People seem pretty excited about the French, too, but other than their cheeses and breads, I'm not all that familiar. Actually, looking at the geography, maybe it has something to do with warm weather being better; because Scandinavian food is really confusing, and they have all those fjords up there. So the theory needs revision, that's what you people are for.

The US kind of wins, though, because we just steal everyone else's and make it our own. Pizza? Made in New York. General Tso's Chicken? Had to be our influence, after all, we have Colonel Sanders, too. French Fries and French Toast? All American, and we name it after another the French to stick it to them, because you know they hate to think of that they'd be responsible for those. I guess I'll make the chorus sing patriotic songs, too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A group of people whose priorities are in perfect order

When you see a title like that in a blog like this, you would probably be wise to detect a level of sarcasm in the tone. After all, the most serious topic I've tackled since I've been writing this has been facial hair in sports (not counting the actual serious one). Not to trivialize the importance of ridiculing the ugly, but this is something deserving of all of our attention.

Six Flags mounted a disgusting promotion allowing people at their Illinois theme park to get discounts and preferred treatment in line at the rides if they eat cockroaches. Madagascar hissing cockroaches, no less, which are so named because when threatened they, of course, giggle like a schoolgirl. In case you were wondering what this vile creature looks like, here's a link that will answer all of your questions, because I don't want images of these things on my blog. This is a place for comfort and whimsy, not insects that have the potential for vomit inducement.

Now, you might think that I am questioning the priorities of the people who are eating the cockroaches to save 35 minutes in line for a roller coaster. I am not. If you have ever been to a theme park, you have probably considered making deals with God or Satan or cockroaches to get a little closer to the line to get out of the heat or from behind the giant hairy guy in front of you who is wearing a muscle shirt and smells like the bottom of your bathroom wastebasket. The cockroach is probably a fair compromise, all things considered. I do wonder, though, if you swallow it whole, can you still feel it trying to walk around or fly around inside of you? Because if you swallow an ice cube or a chunk of hot food, you can tell where it is in your throat the whole way down. I can only imagine that the little legs of an insect would be fluttering madly down your esophagus. That's pretty gross.

The people whose priorities are in question are those mentioned in this story, and if you had to guess, involve PETA. They are protesting because it seems unfair in their minds that roaches should be eaten alive for such a ridiculous marketing campaign. I think they might get better traction if the folks at Six Flags were eating something like kittens rather than roaches. Kittens don't pose nearly as many health risks and are a lot more helpless than roaches. Unless it's like a Jaguar kitten, then it is probably a little less helpless.

The point is, there are like a trillion causes that are more worthwhile than this one. I personally think that many of the animal rights ones are misdirected effort anyway, since there are still people out there who don't drive Land Rovers. But clearly, I think PETA's time could be better spent on doing something other than trying to halt a marketing campaign involving eating a live cockroach. They could, for example, donate blood, bake cookies, or lick 100,000 envelopes for no reason. Any of those would be more productive and make PETA look less ridiculous.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tree people get up early

This time of year, it's cooling down nicely, so I like to sleep with my windows open. After all, it's fall in South Carolina (the Men of the Square Table won't let you say "autumn"), and even though the leaves haven't started changing yet, it's definitely getting to be a rather nice temperature outside, as opposed to the outrageous scorching that the summer usually gives us. Reminds me of home, really. The only bad part is that women start putting on more clothes, but as I've said earlier (not on this blog, though) women wearing winter clothes pull it off pretty well. (Don't forget: I am a Floridian at heart, and this mid-50s low-60s weather is winter weather in my mind.) I can't say I really get why winter clothes work that way, but there is no question about it. It's a good look for them, and I applaud them for it.

So I've taken to sleeping with my window open, because the fresh air is nice and it will save on the AC bill. I get the go to sleep to the rhythm of the crickets and a nice breeze, without having to deal with the start and stop of the air conditioner all through the night. I had to break out an extra blanket, but all in all, it was an excellent system; I was spending less money and being more comfortable. It was scrumtralescent.

There's just one wrinkle. For some reason, a developer has decided that this part of Central needs to have no more trees. I suspect they are going to build something, but it's a little hard to tell since it's not particularly stellar land on which to build. Nevertheless, they are tearing down trees all around us, which wasn't a big deal until this morning. You see, immediately across the street from our apartment was a small collection of woods and trees and what not. These trees were slated for execution. That wasn't really a big problem for me until they started removing them this morning at 7:30. I mean, good Lord. Even though this street is not predominantly college students, it is still a college town and it should be illegal to operate machinery before 9. They can do it until 2 am if they like, but starting before 9 or so is a bigger tragedy than the Hindenburg and Ricky Martin combined.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The answer, of course, is onions

I'm a little surprised that I went 64 posts without mentioning honey mustard sooner. (This is 65.) Finding a good honey mustard is a tricky endeavor, because there are varying amounts of the two ingredients (let alone spiciness!) that interferes with the inherent goodness of this wondrous condiment. Honey mustard is to condiments what holy water is to water.

I was thinking about it because today I went to the grocery store and realized I needed more honey mustard, especially considering I purchased cheddarwursts. Those two make a stellar combination. I decided on French's, it's not the best honey mustard I've ever had, but for the price it's definitely serviceable. I was thinking of doing a review of good one and bad ones, but really, who cares. The important thing is that honey mustards are like most other gourmet product, and you get what you pay for.

Another interesting variety of mustard I think you all should be aware of is whiskey mustard. It's funny to say those two words in order, because they don't even sound right together. But surprisingly, whiskey mustard is delicious. I learned about its existence from my Irish cookbook (leave it to the Irish to put whiskey in everything) and tried its recipe - mustard chicken. It was great, even though it was Jack Daniels whiskey mustard. Jack Daniels, in my experience, is a rather low ranking whiskey, particularly for the price. There's a reason why you don't see Wild Turkey or Maker's Mark mustard or coffee -- because the liquor is better consumed in liquor form rather than mustard or coffee form.

I sometimes get in arguments with friends over honey vs. spicy; I pretty much have to go with honey on this one. Don't get me wrong, I like the picante as much as the next guy, but I'm really particular about where the spice is applied. For example, I don't like hot Italian sausage in spaghetti, because that's just not a combinations of flavors to which I look forward, even though hot Italian sausage you get at the grocery store isn't really all that hot. In salsa or Chinese food, I want it to burn my esophagus on the way down. I want to have to suck on a fire extinguisher for relief. Just not on a bratwurst.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A little fashion sense even I can understand

People everywhere have very strong opinions about popping the collar. I see signs, have heard people bitch about it, and there are facebook groups about it. The thing is, I've only seen one collar actually be popped. It was at a Ralph Lauren Outlet store, and I'm pretty sure the guy worked there. He looked like sort of guy who would drink a Bud Select while calling it a "brew." Or put rufies in a girl's drink at a party.

So, judging from my statistical sample of one person with a popped collar, I can understand where the opposition comes from. However, I don't really understand how this level of vitriol developed for such an uncommon thing. Something like violent anger directed at CSI is more understandable, because you can't turn around, televisionwise, without running into one of those Jerry Bruckheimer produced pieces of filth. Then again, I don't go to frat parties much and I try to avoid places where crappy beers are the drink of choice, which I guess are really two of the same things, so I might not be in the collar popper's native habitat.

So where does this happen? Is it simply a manifestation of a bad college stereotype, as I suspect? It can't simply be that; people I've run into who never go to those places have formed more intense opinions about this than they have about abortion. I have to say that until I see it pop up (ha ha!) more often, I'm probably not going to care, even though I realize this issue is like two years old at this point. So yes, I'm a little behind. I'm in grad school; time doesn't flow the same way for me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I don't understand the turntable

There are a lot of things that are puzzling about a microwave. I don't mean how they work, that's not that tricky. A filiment generating EM radiation about the same size of water molecules irradiates the food, vibrating the water to generate heat. What's so hard about that? Also, it doesn't cook from the inside out. That'd be absurd.

The thing that I have trouble with is the timer. I was heating up some stuffed shells for lunch today (they were delicious, by the way) and I accidentally hit 1 - 8 - 0 instead of 1 - 0 - 0 as I was trying to heat them up, when I realized, if I let this go, I have no idea for how long that will go. Will it be 180 seconds? Or 140 seconds, for a minute and 80 seconds? How come, when everything else in our society is base ten, our clocks and microwaves aren't? I also can't believe I actually changed it now, because I want to know how long it would have cooked for.

I also don't know why microwave manufacturers insist on putting in the turntable. Radiation, by nature, is emitted in all directions from its source, so reflections from the walls will cause the variety of angles sufficient to heat it from different directions. The turntable mostly makes my food spill and pulls off the paper towel I put on top to keep my food from spilling.

I also think it's pretty funny that people have discovered all sorts of weird things that will happen when you put crazy things into microwaves. Whoever the first guy was to put a cd into a microwave deserves a medal, because really, why would anyone ever think to do that? I think something crazy happens when you put a peep into microwave, too, but since I hate them I've never done it. I do, however, think it would be pretty fun to put a bottle of shaving cream into a microwave* and let it go for 3 - 6 -0, even though I have no idea how long that would be.

I have also decided that I never want to reheat pizza in a microwave ever again. It ruins the crust. So, really, there are only three options: take the time and reheat it in the oven, eat it cold or man up and finish it the day before.

*Please don't actually try this. I don't want to be responsible for internet kids getting burned by shaving shrapnel.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dear Alma Mater Be Our Guide / Reveal to Us the Way

I have gone to three schools that have an Alma Mater, and I still don't know why the songs are called that. I understand a little bit as to why the schools themselves are called that, since there is a bit of "nourishing" of a person through education. For all you ignoramuses out there (and yes, that is the plural, it's not ignorami), alma mater is Latin for nourishing mother. So, the school itself sort of makes sense, but the naming of the song doesn't.

Mr. Wagner, one of those teachers you'll remember forever (if you had him) made all of us new freshman in his class memorize the Spruce Creek High School Alma Mater. The totality of what I remember from that exercise is visible in the title bar above, so it made quite an impact on me. We also had to memorize the fight song, the Gettysberg Address, the Constitution, and the 1st and 4th verses of the national anthem. There were probably other things he had us memorize, but I can't remember what they were.

Rose-Hulman had an Alma Mater, too, I'm pretty sure. I must say that after three and a quarter years there if the Rose pep band played it in my living room, I wouldn't be able to identify it. Then again, they could be playing Pinball Wizard and I wouldn't recognize it (that actually happened - not in my living room). They weren't very good, but the point is I don't know the Alma Mater for my alma mater. I think the fight song is called "Dear Old Rose", but I don't know the words. I understand the football team sang it after wins, which I didn't know until halfway through the senior season. The probably did a lot of stuff that they didn't publicize very well. I blame the newspaper.

There is no mistake about Clemson's Alma Mater. They sing it all the time. Before games, after games, before class, when the president goes to the bathroom, etc. It's a fine song, with one glaringly monumental flaw. The first two lines are "Where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness / Where the Tigers play." So far, so good; Blue Ridge Moutains are right up the street and yawning greatness is a pretty good image of effortlessly being awesome. We are all Tigers, and play is better than work, so I'm ok with this part. The next lines are "Here the sons of dear old Clemson / Reign supreme alway." I hate the missing s in always. It turns out, though, that it is an acceptable archaic or poetic form of the word, but it doesn't make it easier for me. The word looks naked. If it were a sexy, feminine word like curvacious or bassoon, then nobody would be complaining about the word being a little immodest. But with a stubby misshapen word like always, it needs the s to pull off its look.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A mystery for the ages

You know, every morning when I open my newspaper after I've finished reading the news, opinions and sports sections, I always go to comics. It may seem juvenile, but really, there are a few that I look out for and occasionally enjoy. There are a few that are just so ingrained in my newspaper experience that I read them even though I know they're not going to be amusing in anyway, like Garfield and Blondie. Dilbert is usually solid, sometimes brilliant and every once in a while terrible. But, if you know me, you know I don't want to talk about the good ones. I want to talk about the ones that are so maddening that I would rather set fire to the page and burn my initials into my right arm with the fire.

This is a tricky distinction, though, because comics like Snuffy Smith are immediately unreadable. This one is just blank space as far as I'm concerned, so it doesn't offend me nearly as much as, say, Mary Worth or Cathy. Most of the continuity print comics, like Mary Worth, are difficult to get into because you can't read from the beginning of the arc. Also, Mary Worth has been running since before World War I (Mary Worth was quite a dish when the series started), so it would take a lot of back reading to get started. Cathy is just ink vomit on the page; she a stereotype of annoying woman that I wouldn't tolerate in real life and certainly don't want any part of on the comics page. Oddly enough, I don't mind For Better or For Worse, though, even though that one's not funny and it is nominally a continuity comic. It manages to pack a lot of stuff into the four panels, handle the continuity and stand alone. That's the key -- standalone as well.

Family Circus, Ziggy and one called Pluggers all get honorable mention. Family Circus is supposed to be cute, I guess, but it isn't. It's like "Dennis the Menace", another one panel comic, without the "Menace." Who cares? Pluggers is one I don't recall seeing outside of the Greenville paper, but it's MO is describing what a plugger is, and basically it's an old fat person. Great. Just what I always wanted to see in average drawings and writing. I don't know what Ziggy's problem is, but I don't want any part of it.

Undoubtedly, the be all end all of awful comics is Frank and Ernest. If you are unfamiliar with this comic, I have the deepest envy of you. It is a poorly drawn comic that is never funny. Yet somehow, every time I open to the comics page, I end up reading it. I don't have this problem with Snuffy Smith. I don't know why Frank and Ernest fill me with more hate than, say, Nazis. I think that whoever this Thaves character is deserved to be tried for crimes against humanity.

This comic, which I just made up, is better than any Frank and Earnest comic I have ever read.

Who out there thinks that Frank and Ernest is good? If you leave me a comment and say you like it, you better be able to describe to me your favorite strip or I will call you a liar and an accomplice. I cannot believe that this comic continues to run. I suppose newspapers don't really get a lot of complaints about comics, especially inoffensive ones, but I'm thinking about writing some letters.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Absurdity in Supporting College Teams

Strange things happen when you pull for a college football team. For example, orange and purple are colors that are much more appealing to me now than they were, say, a year and a half ago, and I wear orange twice a week. I don't think I wore orange at all before becoming a Clemson fan. Certainly not with purple. My fashion sense leaves quite a bit to be desired, but I knew that would look ridiculous; now I'm not so sure.

On Saturday, though, North Carolina State played against Boston College. BC beat the mighty Tigers by 1 point, and are our only loss so far. They led the ACC Atlantic division, until they traveled to Raleigh and lost to the Wolfpack by 2. Everyone in Clemson wanted NCSU to beat the Eagles, even though the Wolfpack and the Tigers meet every year in a heated rivalry called (this is true) The Textile Bowl. This strikes me as odd, because otherwise we're not such big fans of the Wolfpack. We don't really care for any of the other ACC schools, but any team with whom we compete in a Textile Bowl is clearly disliked more than others.

So, because of the way the conference is organized we find ourselves wanting teams to win that we actually hate. It would be like a circumstance where Ron Burgundy (Clemson) has to cheer for Frank Pritchard (NC State) in a ratings war to beat Wes Mantooth (BC), to help facilitate Burgundy (Clemson) dominance, because Pritchard (NCSU) sucks more. I think Public TV Anchor would be UNC, UVA, Wake or Duke because they're more liberal and aren't taken seriously and Arturo Mendes would probably be Miami because there are a lot of people who speak Spanish down there. I don't know if there are enough characters for people to give FSU a role, but let's just say they're one of the guys that Ron beat the crap out of in the rumble. Or Dorothy Mantooth.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Winners in categories of whatever I want

Keeping up with How Observant has slowed a little, sadly, because The Tiger is publishing again now, and I am a columnist for that fine publication. I don't think they have put up my first column on-line yet, but when/if they do (they should), I'll pop a link in here. I got another one coming out on Friday. Either I'm getting crappier at it, or a lot more demanding on myself because I have been having a lot of questions about how satisfied I am with my submissions.

Anyway, I am going to give you some winners of whatever categories I feel like filling, a la the Emmys. Except not tv shows or gay.

Best Song Involving Fruit
Nominees: Tangerine [Led Zeppelin], Grapefruit - Juicy Fruit [Jimmy Buffett], Coconut [Harry Nilsson], These Apples [Barenaked Ladies]

Winner: I know Bobby is going to throw a fit, but I've gotta go with Coconut on this one. It's weird enough to be funny, but sane enough to be good. Also, Jacob and I performed it at open mic once, so it has sentimental value. Tangerine lost out mostly because the only fruit involvement comes from the title. If it was actually about a tangerine rather than a girl nicknamed Tangerine, it would've probably won.

Most Irritating Grammatical Error
Nominees: Misspelling, Pluralizing with an apostrophe, Ending a sentence with a preposition, Incorrect subject/verb agreement

Winner: This is really an easy one, Pluralizing with an apostrophe is really in another league here. Misspelling is bad, but in this age of computers, typos are an evil with which we simply have to live. Preposition is close, but it definitely seems pretentious and subject/verb simply isn't a common enough mistake to get the air time it deserves.

Worst State I've Ever Lived In
Nominees: Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina

Winner: Those are all the states I've actually lived in for longer than like a week, so even the good ones are in there. This one is another with a clear cut winner; these middles ones are like the Best Score and Best Editor awards during the Academy Awards. Slow parts until the big ones come. Indiana is clearly the winner here; the Midwest is really lame.

Best Actor to Play Batman
Nominees: Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Val Kilmer

Winner: I think it's interesting to see that Val Kilmer beat out George Clooney in the nominations; the judges are really taking a risk there. Really, though, Adam West has to win this. I think Christian Bale could really compete in the future, but he needs more than one outing as the Caped Crusader to take home the win. But sometimes you just have to ask the question, "What sits in a tree, weighs six ounces and is very dangerous?"

Most Annoying Classic Rock Radio Staple Band
Nominees: Styx, Supertramp, Rush, REO Speedwagon

Winner: This is definitely the most contentious category so far; any one of them could easily be the winner against lesser competition. But this isn't lesser competition; this is the winners in whatever categories I want. And I want to find the most annoying classic rock radio staple band. I think it really has to be REO Speedwagon, though, because they're not even really rock, and they get a lot of air time. Why? They're not very good. Rush and Styx are really annoying, but at least nominally they are a rock band. Supertramp had somebody cover their work and made it sound worse, so I think they get a pass for now. But REO Speedwagon seems to combine the worst of Styx and Rush - the faggety sounding singing with the soulless pop music backing it. Congratulations!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I have so many opinions my opinions have opinions

There are things about the internet that bother me. Well, I guess that's a little misleading. There are things about browsers that bother me, but they only do those things while browsing the internet. It isn't the internet's fault; that's like saying "There are things about stupid people I don't like" because I don't like listening to stupid people bitch. It's not so much the stupid person's fault, I just don't like want to hear it. Wait, that's a terrible example. Stupid people are annoying all the time.

Anyway, if I am ever working in two windows at the same time, and I click on a link that takes a while to load, switch over to the other window and start typing something, perhaps into the Google toolbar, and the other one loads I hate how it switches over in mid sentence. I hope there's a way to never have another window interrupt the one I have active. I wouldn't care if it blinked at the bottom or anything, just don't interrupt me while I'm typing. It's like getting between a fat guy and his roast beef. Not a good idea, and my computer knows it: there is a gash in my screen from when I dropped my compass on it. (Not the boy scouts North/South kind of compass, the drawing compass with a lethal javelin one one end.) I particularly dislike it if I'm typing into the toolbar at the top of the page and things are loading, I hate how it sometimes draws the cursor away from the bar at the top into some other text box in the page itself As far as I can tell, IE, Netscape and Mozilla all do this. Consequently, I hate them all.

I also have an intense dislike for tabs. This one I will have a harder time explaining, it's just something that really bothers me, like grapefruit juice, anything that feels sticky (yes, including stickers and bandaids) and Ashton Kutcher. I understand how tabs could be useful. I understand that other people can use them. This is America, go ahead and use them if you want. But I will not. Don't try to convert me on this; just leave me with my irrational feelings towards tabs like you leave your somewhat racist grandmother to hers. Actually, I have no idea why someone would try to convert me in favor of tabs.

I also dislike the memory in the URL dropdown. There's probably a way to fix it, but I'm either too lazy or ignorant to sort it out. I like having some things in there, and I like how IE used to reorder them according to frequency of use. Mozilla just adds them to the top, and sometimes removes them. I don't know how it decides which ones to weed out, but some webpages I would like to save get lost into the depths of the internet aether while typos are remembered for posterity. Some of those typos were caused by drawing my cursor away from the bar by a loading page.

I realized that it might be difficult to explain those problems in written form, and they have been bothering me for a while. I finally decided to man up and try to explain my internet woes, because I just couldn't take it anymore. I think you computer people should never stop in developing better ways to access this series of tubes we call the internet.

Monday, September 11, 2006

This one's not supposed to be funny

One of the things I remember about my freshman year of college was that when something really big was on tv you could walk down the hallway and hear it in stereo. One week there was a Star Trek marathon, and that sticks out to me as one of those times -– it was Rose-Hulman, after all -- on my way to my room, out of every doorway I could hear the unmistakable sound of the doors opening on the deck of the starship Enterprise. Every once in a while you could hear the voice of Apu from the Simpsons (it was popular enough that if you had the misfortune to head to the dining hall at 6:30 you would get caught in the Simpsons rush). Two other times like this are rather memorable: the NCAA tournament, when everyone could keep track of their inevitably busted brackets simply by walking down Speed Hall and the events that transpired five years ago today.

I remember it was a Tuesday, my longest day. I’ll never forget that it was a Tuesday because it was the first day I was to put on the uniform of an Air Force ROTC cadet. That day it was only a t-shirt that read Air Force and khaki pants, because I hadn’t had my trousers altered to my size just yet; but nonetheless, I was wearing the uniform of my country on that day. I didn’t know there would be anything else remarkable about that day when I got up that morning and went to breakfast and physics. It started out like every other day did; a bowl of cereal and a battle to stay awake in the most impersonal 24 person 8 am class I’ve ever had. Most folks then, as they do now, try to avoid 8 am classes, but that first semester I was not one of the lucky ones. Afterwards, though, it became clear that my wearing a gym shirt proclaiming my membership in the Air Force ROTC was the least remarkable thing about this day.

I walked into the residence hall (they frown on the word dorm) and saw that the crappy big screen in the common area was tuned to CNN, and the most bizarre image I have ever seen. Black smoke was billowing out of one of the most recognizable buildings in the world – The Pentagon – which took me some time to digest, especially when they flashed over to two other instantly recognizable buildings – both World Trade Center towers. I didn’t quite put it together at first. I saw this image on the screen, but it wasn’t real to me yet. So I ran upstairs to turn on my tv where images like this never appear. I didn’t need to, though; I could hear the sounds of the news coming down the hallway. I watched it. I watched it all. The towers hadn’t fallen yet. When they told us what had happened, there was no mistake. This wasn’t an accident. I kept watching. I cried. I cried a lot that day.

I don’t remember exactly when my parents called, but my mom did, asking, in a panic, if I was all right. I was 800 miles from danger, but it didn’t matter to her. I can understand, though; the people in those office buildings had no reason to expect that Hell would open up in Manhattan and try to grab them. I’d like to think that Hell only managed to claim 10 people in New York that day, with another 5 coming from Washington and 4 more in an obscure field in Pennsylvania, while 2,973 others managed to escape that fiery grasp for a happier destination.

There was other happy news, though, too. Not all of it came immediately, like the story that would raise goosebumps on the dead, hearing the members of Congress gather on the steps of that building to sing “God Bless America.” Some took a few days, like the equally goosebump inspiring British changing of the guard ceremony that took place the following day under the sound of The Star Spangled Banner. We had a president who never looked quite as presidential as he did on that day. We had a mayor who told a Saudi prince that we didn’t need his money if he insisted we take any part of the blame. We all felt like Rudy was our mayor, even if we had never set foot in the City of New York. We all felt like we belonged to the city now, and it to all of us.

We watched it, all day, every moment, on its most vulnerable day. We cried with it, we grieved with it, we prayed with it, we got angry with it. The breathtaking height of these towers, a visibly proclaiming their confidence and worldly importance while gracefully avoiding ostentation, seemed to be twisted unimaginably as they were wounded. That very same height now seemed more to be more of a reach for God, asking for mercy. Although it didn’t seem like it at first considering the magnitude of nearly 3,000 dead, He did indeed grant it; around 16,000 people who stood below the ghastly sight managed to leave safely. Tonight, when you go before God like those towers did, it will be easy to remember the 18,973 people and their families who were there that morning, but don’t forget those who still wish us harm in your prayers, either. We are a big enough nation and people to do that. God Bless America.

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." - Matthew 5:44