Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two People Overheard Agreeing On An Elevator

A: I don't care what the words are, if a song has a good beat, I like it.

B: Yes! It doesn't matter whether it's country or rap, or you're black or white, if the song has good words and a good beat, I like it.

I think they were agreeing that sometimes one thing's being the case does not prevent another thing's being the case.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bad bad bad

Just when I thought today might be all right, I realized there were not one but two meetings I have to go to scheduled for this evening--one right before I go to work at 6PM and one right after I get back, which means I'm booked from 5PM to at least 8PM, covering the three hours during which Buggle is at his most terrorsome. No one around here is going to be happy about this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Haste Makes Waste:The First in a Series of Political Allegories

I always think I can do a bunch of things at once because I've always been able to do it in video games. But the truth is that one thing at a time is hard enough for me and two things at once is just out of the question. Last night while clearing the table after a delicious dinner, I found myself standing in the kitchen with two Tupperware containers of chickpea salad stacked one on top of the other, all afire to seal the top
Tupperware and refrigerate both. Friday, who had her hands full with garbage, asked me to open the trash for her. I obliged without a thought for the precarious balance keeping the salad safely stacked. The consequence you have no doubt divined: I scored a clumsy but solid shot in the good old game of throwing Tupperware into the trash.

I think my wife might have been angry that I wasted her good cooking had I not explained to her that throwing away perfectly good leftovers is real good for the economy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Questions About The Economy

Would Wall Street have any money if no one trusted faceless inhuman monsters (e.g. "banks") to invest their money? If Wall Street didn't have any money, would the rest of us have more of it? If we invested in ourselves (e.g. by acquiring and developing resources for production, by using extra income to buy time to develop our skills and learn to create value), would we be freer, more independent, more capable, more productive, and therefore wealthier? If we invested in endeavors we believed in, would the world look more like our dreams?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bring on the Student Loans!

I knew the Department of Education had to be good for something.

Monday, June 15, 2009

time to blog

I've been wishing for time to do a blog for the last two weeks. Tonight I am "attending" an on-line webinar, which means I have half a brain free to do other things that don't require much concentration, like...blogging! So I'm checking in here to tell you, well, to tell you that I am attending an on-line webinar.

Why would I do this? Because they are paying me to do it. As of this week I am a part time tutor for a big tutoring company, and the training process requires me to be logged in to an on-line orientation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

He admits he was wrong

Well, it seems that I maligned the fates when I proposed that I might be prevented in every attempt to get my Texas driver's license. As it happened I was thwarted only one more time, by a representative at the DMV who claimed that I could get a ticket for driving my parents' Ohio-registered car with a Texas license. I sat down with the forms and called the police station, whose number I cleverly entered into my cell phone last year, and asked whether this information was correct. The woman I spoke with on the phone thought it sounded wrong and called an officer to confirm, but when she came back with the answer my phone ran out of batteries.

Not to be discouraged by a mere four fruitless trips to the DMV (It took me seven trips to get my license in the first place. Ask me about it sometime), I dared to venture a fifth, all applicable divine prohibitions notwithstanding. As a result, I am now the proud owner of a small piece of paper which declares that I will have a Texas license within six weeks.

Huh, that doesn't seem quite as triumphant as it did at the time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Deja DMVu

This morning, for the second time this year, I packed up all the necessary documents to get a driver's license into my briefcase, loaded Buggle into the car, and headed for the DMV. Actually, depending on how you count, this was both the second and third time; the first time, I had to go twice, because when I got there I found I had forgotten the briefcase. When I got back again with the briefcase, I discovered that my social security card was missing.

Today, I very deliberately packed my brand new replacement social security card in with the other documents, and was feeling pretty competent all the way to the DMV, where I bought the same cup of crappy coffee from 6th Street Donuts as last time, having forgotten that food and drink are not permitted in the DMV. Well, Daniel and I would sit outside while I finished the coffee, just like last time...wait, no, last time I was drinking the coffee on the way home to get the briefcase, which of course this time is in the back seat of the...wait, where, under that blanket? Behind the car seat? Hmmm.

Maybe I will never get a Texas Driver's License. When the Iowa license expires I will just start biking everywhere. It sounds easier than getting a few pieces of paper from point A to point B, of which I am evidently incapable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are we displacing behaviour yet?

I just want the world to know that when I read the following passage, I had reached such a degree of vexation with J. L. Austin's article that I was in fact standing on my head:

Observation of animal behaviour shows that regularly, when an animal is embarked on some recognizable pattern of behaviour but meets in the course of it with an insuperable obstacle, it will betake itself to energetic, but quite unrelated, activity of some wild kind, such as standing on its head. This phenomenon is called "displacement behaviour" and is well identifiable. If now, in the light of this, we look back at ordinary human life, we see that displacement behaviour bulks quite large in it: yet we have apparently no word, or at least no clear and simple word, for it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Ideally I would like to live in a big building with four wings surrounding an enclosure, with a garden and a nice fountain. Shaped like this:

My family and I would live in one wing, and in the other wings would live all our best friends.

We are not moving into that building. But we are moving into a condo in a group of buildings that looks like this:

As you can see, this group of condos is very similar to the building I would like to live in. As you can also see, there is a swimming pool, which is kind of like a very big fountain that happens not to be running. What you cannot see from this picture is that we will live here:

and that a group of some of our best friends lives here:

So that's a whole corner of my dream right there. Maybe if I dream harder it will spread until I have the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm trying to start journaling in the morning, but my entries always amount to cryptic variations on "I feel like crap" or "I feel pretty good." Any advice?

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Aspiration

Watch (almost) every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Flight of the Conchords (possibly also The Office (either version) should be on this list), and you, too, may come to believe as I have that there is an inestimable beauty in a life of bungling simplicity. You might even have a dream like this:

I took a trip to Rome and found when I got there that although I had brought all my suitcases I had forgotten to put anything in them. I figured I needed to make a living now so I spent the next day in a cafe discussing job options with Bret and Jemaine. I think "cafe guy" (i.e. someone who sits in a cafe) topped the list, just edging out "living statue."

I believe that this dream is an expression of my desire to live more simply and fecklessly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why is Adam Cooper's birthday different from any other day of the year?

Last night after the birthday party, around 8, we were lingering at the Lavergnes over coffee, until someone realized that nobody had eaten dinner. By a series of steps, we went from planning to go home to make Natalie's potato egg pie for dinner, to planning to go across the street to the Rathskeller (at this point Adam Cooper himself disappeared into a telephone conversation, ruling out the possibility of taking him out for birthday dinner), to my offering to scrounge up a meal in the kitchen, to Natalie taking over and making potato egg pie.

I hope Adam got some.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

One of the lives I wish I were living

is the life of this guy. He spent some years spending enough less than he earned that he can now live on withdrawals from his savings that total less than the interest (about 4%). He is retired, before the age of forty (except now for half an hour a day of copy editing), and spends all his time doing what he wants, and (this is the really cool part) what he wants is to volunteer his skills to add value to the world.

Every time I read this blog, I think about how inefficiently, slavishly, and selfishly I spend my time. Not that I want to accomplish anything as extreme as Jacob; I think setting myself up as a professional academic will have very nearly the same effects as would achieving complete economic freedom and then doing what I want. But I do want the level of self-mastery Jacob seems to have, instead of letting everything be dictated to me by outside demands (which in some cases include demands stemming from my past decisions, in case you were thinking of bringing up the Grackle as proof that I already have this self-mastery). I'm afraid of finding myself in the situation where I've worked to place and resenting the demands of the position (as I already often resent the demands of being a student) instead of living the life.

So, today, my focus is on bringing the love back to "love of wisdom."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Why is it that when a candidate promises to change the way an entire nation operates, people get excited, but when an online social networking company changes the way their website looks, people get outraged?

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I am going on vacation and will probably be taking a break from blogging, not that you would notice except for this post. Please eagerly await my glorious return and slowly realize that I will only disappoint you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sick Sick Sick and a Reflection of My State of Mind

My temperature spiked to 101.9 tonight and I'm pretty much using it as an excuse to sit around internetting instead of cleaning up around the house. What is sicker: being sick, or...whatever the other choice is, you know. what? um.

Think I'll go pick up some laundry off the floor and then get back to watching the Carpet Brothers on hulu.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


My wife has noticed that since Buggle was born, her tolerance for dropped food has increased. I found this interesting but I didn't seriously think that the threshold of sanitariness could get much lower for an inveterate five-second-rule-stretcher such as I am. But I don't think that a year ago if someone had knocked a salad off my lap, I would have picked up every single piece of lettuce and sliced-side-down tomato off the carpet, plucked out a few balsamic cat hairs and enjoyed the salad as though nothing had happened.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm pretty sure I have to have this

The "updated classic" takes a shocking turn. 

I hope this is more fun than "All the World's a Grave: A New Play By William Shakespeare " turned out to be.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I am weird

Some things I have done recently that have provoked remark, though I didn't see anything strange about them:

1. I shelled an egg into my hat.
2. I can't think of anything else.
3. So maybe I am not really that weird.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I'm pretty sure my previous two posts together constitute the shortest Menippean Satire ever written.

Second (and last?) self-referential one-liner

This concept seems to be wearing thin quickly.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Secret to My (Future) Success

I'm told that blogs with a new post every day or two are more successful, regardless of the length of each post, so I am going to post a self-referential one-liner every day until I think of something better.

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Exemplary Tale

Buggle blew out three diapers in a row yesterday. I blame the economy.

Yes, I will explain.

As you all know, now that Barack Obama is captain of the planet there is a tremendous[ly expensive] stimulus package in the works to heal the ailing economy. What you may not know is that the program actually started several days ago when Obama commandeered Sam's Club for three days (ending yesterday) and ordered them to distribute $25 dollar gift cards to all new members, effectively bringing the cost of joining Sam's down from $40 to $15. Now, as it happens, the Club also offers a "collegiate membership" with comes with a $15 gift card. Combined with the Obama Samulus Card, this made the membership free! So you see, I had no choice.

When I arrived at Sam's, at 7:45 last night, I was in a nervous, pessimistic mood, for reasons which I will explain perhaps tomorrow. So I was not too surprised when something immediately went wrong: the lady at the membership desk tried to tell me I had to choose between the two promotions. I thought about explaining to her that the power of Change could not be limited by her preconceived categories, but decided that she was a Hope-less case and went with pointing out that the ad didn't stipulate anything about not combining either of the deals with other Sam's Club offers. After I pressed this point for a few minutes, the lady seemed to give in. She alternated between typing secret information into a computer and consulting a colleague on the other end of the counter for I think about twenty minutes, then finally took my picture. I wish I could show it to you. Somehow she managed to take the picture so that I have two necks.

Well, the time came to pay. It was 8:17. I swiped my credit card and drummed my fingers on the counter relishing the thought of those gift cards--oh how close they were! But, alas, my credit card was "invalid." It turns out Sam's doesn't take Visa. Oh, and they close at 8:30. And their ATM doesn't work very well--which is to say that pressing the "ATM" button on their multi-function machine takes you to a screen that says "Assistance Needed for Service Error," until an employee shows up and helpfully punches numbers into it until it freezes completely, and then ten minutes later someone from accounting finally arrives and explains to you that it will take 15 minutes to reboot.

In trying situations like these, as Barack Obama relates in his memoir (the unpublished one), he always involves a manager. So that's what I did. And, you know, I think the manager of my local Sam's Club might be all right. She suggested that I run over to Wal-Mart and get a $40 gift card, which would be redeemable at Sam's, and promised that someone would let me back in through the exit. It all worked, much, I think, to the disappointment of my antagonist, who activated my gift cards with a resentful air, and as slowly as humanly possible. Now the checkout counters were closing. I had maybe two minutes to pick out a box of diapers and pay for it. I paid for my 234 Pampers and headed home.

I think you know how this story ends. Yes. They were too small. Buggle has magically grown to a size 3, and the 1-2 size diapers I ended up with in my haste--let's just say they suggest a speedo on him, and not dwell on the messier consequences.

But, you know, we have friends who could use two hundred small diapers next month. Spending two hours to buy a huge box of the wrong size diapers isn't a failure if it means you can do someone you care about a favor. And that's why I'm putting this one down as a golden mediocrity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Home Improvement

There's nothing like knocking over your wife's new lamp, smashing several crucial wall plugs to little pieces and making a borrowed power drill flash and smoke to make you feel like, you know, a natural not-man.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

too late + too soon = golden mediocrity

Some time ago, I put a sheet of paper with the words "do a blog" written on it into my "next action" files, at a position where (in theory), I would find it if and when all of my defined tasks had been duly dispatched, leaving all my files empty and me very smug, relaxed, and ready to brag. The idea was to make blogging into a jewel in the crown of leisure rather than a distraction from real work. But that obviously would have been too excellent for this blog. Instead, I arrived at that slip of paper only by sneakily inserting new next actions reminders behind it in the folder, and also by routinely ignoring all of my online actions folders until they atrophied into annoying, disorganized collections of meaningless bookmarks. And it still took me a month.

Nevertheless (and let me just bask in that word for a while...ah, feels good!), I'm pretty happy about the fact that I've turned not updating for a month from a source of irrational guilt to a source of mitigated pride.