Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adventures in Education, Chapter 7

Today, Summer Camp, 12:37pm
Lunch Table

2nd Grader: [Playing harmonica]
Me: Jared, you can't possibly be eating your lunch if you're playing the harmonica.
2nd Grader: [Begins to chew his sandwich while shifting his harmonica to his nostrils and continuing to play]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekends and Odds

  • Today at a red light, I saw a truck driver from a parked Bob's Discount Furniture delivery truck chasing one of our local wild turkeys through a gas station. Sure, he could have just called Animal Control, but I'd like to commend the dude from Bob's for cutting out the middleman (and passing on the savings to us).
  • Speaking of South Easton's wild turkeys, they're starting to walk around like they own the place. I'm not sure I've ever seen an animal strut as much as they do. I was reading on the patio last week and the four that live in our woods came out and walked right by me like they were all that and a bag of chips. I think they need a reality check. I might start throwing mayonnaise at them.
  • It hailed today. Hailed. Seriously, Mother Nature? Go sit on an upside-down stool.
  • On the iTunes chart, Michael Jackson currently has eight of the top 10 songs, nine of the top 10 albums, and all ten top 10 music videos. According to Billboard, he could hit #1 on the album chart and pretty much hold the top 10. If not totally unprecedented, this could at least be one of the most dominant weeks of music sales for one artist in a very, very long time. But seriously, who pays for music anymore?
  • I realize that the rush to praise the recently departed is generally way over the top and just short of sickening, but I'd like to point out the obvious--Billie Jean is an absofreakinlutely phenomenal song. Holy crap. Say what you want about the man, but if that isn't the perfect pop song, I don't know what is. If they had just released the bassline in 1982, I'm pretty sure it would've been #1 for weeks.
  • Finally, I can honestly say I prefer Michael Bay's Verizon Wireless commercial to his Transformers 2. It's not even close.
That's all I've got, losers. Now hurry up, it's already 6:30! Time to go get dressed up and pregame so you can still come home alone tonight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pay For What You Get

Tonight I decided that it was a great time to finally mooch off of my brother's employee discount at Target. I needed a new set of headphones, had new music to listen to, and had to pick him up from work when he got off an hour before closing. The stars were aligned, and I felt like being a sponge.

As I roll up to the front of the parking lot and approach the entrance, I meet my brother JP and shamelessly usher him to the electronics section, where I pick out a pair of decent (and dorky) headphones from Sony for $20. Cool. As I prepare to surrender my debit card and thus my life savings to my brother, I am informed that the Target Team Member (read: employee) discount is applicable only when paying with cash.

Cash? What the crap is cash? I'm fairly certain that--outside of the vending machine market--I have not paid in cash since the Clinton administration. My brother comes to the rescue, again, by loaning me the cash out of his wallet. The employee discount that I totally had no part in earning was 10% off the top and netted me a mere $2.00 in savings. At this point, I'm feeling kind of cheap. I hadn't asked, but I was guessing that the discount might be more like 25 or 30% off. Whatever, $2.00 is a coffee, right? And it totally took care of the sales tax and then some.

As I left South Easton's gorgeous shopping complex, with two saved dollars to my name, I pull into the local bank to hit up the ATM and pay JP back on the spot. While I have no issue with carting him around and shamelessly filching his discount option, I did feel a bit crummy about borrowing cash from my little brother. I opted to get a quick $20. This bank, however, is not my bank. This ATM, therefore, was not my ATM.

Vis a vis, I paid a ATM fee.

A $2.00 ATM fee.

This is the kind of story that, if told in person, would receive sighs and stares from the few people who stuck it out til the end. I'd follow it up with a quick 'Then I found five dollars!' but it would heavily alter the math and principles involved. No, you will never get that two minutes of your life back ever again. But I felt like sharing my boring story. I feel that in some abstract way it could be a metaphor for life. Or some BS like that. Two page reflection due Thursday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Swift Post

I realize that this should hardly count as an update, but I was reminded of this quote today by the "A Word A Day" email list, and I was pleasantly impressed with its accuracy. Jonathan Swift is one of those writers I tend to forget about sometimes, but he's easily one of my favorites. In addition to being a satirical genius, he had a keen eye for human nature and was one of the better critics of it (says this guy).

"If a Man would register all his Opinions upon Love, Politicks, Religion, Learning and the Like; beginning from his Youth, and so go on to Old Age, What a Bundle of Inconsistencies and Contradictions would appear at last."
- Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745

Bam. There's your thought for today. Remember that it's okay to reserve the right to change your mind, because Swift said so, and he was smarter and funnier and cooler than you are now. Incidentally, this might be the only blog in the entire world where you are just as likely to read about literature as you are to read about dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Joke Worth Its Own Post

Q: What do you call a man floating in the ocean with no arms and no legs?
A: Bob.

Thanks John.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adventures in Education, Chapter 6

I have learned many things during my stint as a preschool substitute teacher. Now, I know what you're thinking. And you're an asshole.

I also know what you should be thinking: what could someone with a college education possibly learn in a preschool classroom? Well, besides "Down, Over, Down some more, That's the way we make a Four", one kernel of knowledge stands out above the rest. I think you're on the verge of a similar epiphany yourself.

I LOVE dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.

You feel me. You know what I'm talking about. Those regular old oval ones from Burger King aren't going to cut it this time. You're craving delicious, microwaved dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets just like your mom made for you when you had to go to bed early so she could host a Tupperware party. Oh yes, that's the good stuff right there.

Somehow, in all the fuss that accompanies growing up, I had left behind the scrumptious refuge of this comfort food. It took all of one minute at preschool lunchtime for me to remember what I was missing. Honestly, I've had a year-long craving for lightly breaded chicken portions shaped like a stegosaurus and reheated for 15 seconds in the microwave. If there's some honey to dip them into on the side, all the better. Who doesn't love fun dinosaur shapes? Not kids, this Tyson advertisement says here. I dream about that first bite into that slightly wet, lukewarm nugget like an athlete dreams of a championship. Like a prisoner dreams of freedom. Like Andrew Ridgeley dreams of a Wham! reunion.

Seriously, if you want to know the way to this man's heart (and I'm assuming you do and were just too shy to ask), just visit the refrigerated section of your local supermarket, right by the chicken patties and the soy-nugget alternatives, and pick me up a tray or five. I will thank you profusely.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What A College Education Can Do For You

Around the time I was wrapping up my senior year in college, I concocted a brilliant plan.

First, some background. At many liberal arts schools like my own, there is a set of core requirements for courses in several different academic fields. Ostensibly, this is to produce a well-rounded graduate with a firm grounding in the arts, humanities, and sciences. What this really ends up doing, in most cases, is cramping your style by forcing you to mix in a 100-level intro course--completely unrelated to your major or career path--with the rest of your 300- and 400-level courses. I found myself wrapping up my Science II core in 2008. I took the opportunity to sign up for a course on physics of sound, thinking that it might be remotely useful.

This class was the bane of my existence for the entire semester. As the year wound down, I realized that the final was on the very last day of finals week--literally mere hours before our commencement activities started. It would be the last academic item required of me before receiving a degree. However, the terrible placement of the exam ensured that no fun was to be had leading up to it, and that there would be no down time for finals week if I wanted an A.

This is about when I realized that I didn't need an A.

As the month of March gave way to better weather, I went into action. I worked my tail off, completing all assignments and receiving A's on tests, labs, and quizzes. Such dedication and studiousness must have impressed those around me, and I conceivably could have been gaining a reputation as a hard worker. My zeal, however, was not driven by any sense of earnestness.

In fact, my only goal was to finish with a high enough average that my final exam (which would comprise 30% of my grade) would have no bearing on whether I passed or failed. Needing only a D- to satisfy the requirement, I took the low road and aimed for a final meaningless final. As the weeks got closer, I elaborated on my plan. My pipe dream was to show up for the final exam late, ridiculously drunk, and wearing an Alumni t-shirt. I would then proceed to crack open another Keystone Light and use crayons to color on my blue book until it was taken away from me. This would surely secure my status as a legend among the many underclassmen in my course, and I would pass the semester regardless.

Unfortunately, this dynamite moment never came to pass. In lieu of a final exam, group projects were announced. Now I would be tanking the grades of two other fine individuals, as opposed to just my own. It still saddens me that I was unable to pull off such a major coup.

Some might take offense to my disregard for my own well-being in this course. After paying exorbitant tuition for four years, how could I simply throw away one more educational opportunity? The answer to that is a simple one, even if we forget that the curriculum had no bearing whatsoever on anything I have done or ever will be doing.

If I learned one thing at college, it was this: All that one has to do to be fabulously wealthy and successful in life is merely open a liquor store near campus.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Would Make A Horrible Diplomat

The other day, I told a friend that I thought it would be funny if the President of South Korea officially changed the name of the country to "Korea", merely to piss off the North Koreans. It would be similar to South Dakota's reaction when North Dakota wanted to change its name to just "Dakota" (Apparently they felt "North Dakota" sounded too cold, and as Jon Stewart pointed out, "South Manitoba" didn't seem that much warmer).

As it turns out, I forgot that South Korea really is, officially, the Republic of Korea, thereby rendering my hilarious observation to be both irrelevant and ignorant. This is one of many reasons I could never pretend to be a citizen of the world. I spent much of history class in high school checking out the girl next to me, so my knowledge of world affairs prior to, say, yesterday, is a bit limited.

Of course, I jest. I read the newspaper every day and on a good day can name all seven Stans (even if I can't quite pronounce Kyrgyzstan). Although I am usually unable to name more than 100 countries in five minutes, I did routinely get A+'s on fill-in map quizzes in 7th grade World Studies class (let me tell you how much tail that gets you! Oh man, the stories).

Still, there's a part of me that feels bad for making ignorant mistakes like that, even in the name of comedy. Though I will say this: I will never hear the name "Puntland" and not laugh. Punt is a funny sounding word as it is, but to add the rich symbolism behind the ritual surrendering of possession due to offensive ineptitude in American football... well, that's just hilarious. Puntland. Ha! They suck.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Everybody Loves Free Stuff!

So today I was sitting at work in a free t-shirt that I got at college, and it occured to me that, man, I loves me some free stuff. It is therefore entirely unsurprising that I took advantage of the greatest American celebration in the history of American History today: National Donut Day.

Man, I love donuts. I am reasonably certain that I could eat a dozen in one day, though I have yet to make it past four without feeling tremendously paunchy and bloated (albeit deliriously happy at the same time). Chocolate, Jelly, Sprinkles, Blueberry Cake, Boston Creme, Pumpkin, Entenmann's Powdered... it really doesn't matter. A donut is a donut, and thank you I will have another. The only thing better than a donut is a free donut. This is why I support any and all legislation that led to this great national holiday, which curiously only shows up on the calendars of private food service companies. Hmm.

At any rate, Friendly's Ice Cream jumped on that bandwagon too, so if you live near one of these fine (?) establishments, cruise on over tomorrow between noon and 5pm and get yourself a Free Scoop of Ice Cream. Skip the one in Foxboro, MA, though. My brother used to work there and those guys are buttholes. Although maybe the lack of profit tomorrow is why you should go. I'm not an economics major so I'll just stick to spittin' some prose.

To round out this entirely unnutritious entry, I thought I'd pass along more free and link to an mp3 of one of my favorite cover songs (Link courtesy of the Ben Folds fan site wokeupwaytolate.com). This is a cover of Steely Dan's "Barrytown" performed by Ben Folds Five, very shortly before the trio broke up. The acerbic lyrics create a perfect juxtaposition with the fantastic chord progressions and catchy pop hooks that Steely Dan is known for, and the Five does it justice with their piano/bass/drums take. In plain speak, this song kicks ass. Punk rock for sissies.

Ben Folds Five - Barrytown.mp3
Right click + Save As to download, or play it here:

I'm off to go bowling and hit up the drive thru for one more free donut. Happy weekend, America.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Beatles Rock Band Trailer Goes Live

I'm not even a big gamer, and I think I need a fresh pair of pants. Only partial word on the set list so far, but the official trailer went live today. Wow.

I'm getting the feeling that they did this one right. "Taxman" on the 1966 tour? Are you kidding me? Awesome. I really didn't expect to be buying this but it might be hard not to.

Video copyright Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. and Apple Corps, Ltd., 2009. Accessed from www.thebeatlesrockband.com/trailer.php .

Don't Be "That Guy"

What up, dorks?

Some of you might log off the internets every now and again to venture out into the big, scary world. It's a trip for most of you, I'm sure. While you are out enjoying that strange, wonderful phenomenon known as fresh air, remember that if you aren't careful you might encounter a collection of other human individuals (just like you!) who collectively make up what is known as society. Not only that, but if (Clapton forbid) your iPod isn't working, you might even be forced to interact with said Earth cohabitants. This can be a daunting and unfamiliar challenge for many of you, so I've gone ahead to do you all a favor and help you not be That Guy.

Who is "That Guy", you might ask? You know That Guy. There are That Guys all around us. At the supermarket, in line at the gas station, at work, at school, at the post office, and most certainly at any social function. That Guy is that guy that aggrivates the rest of the group, constantly finding a way to rub everyone the wrong way and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe it's a poorly timed divorce comment in a crowd of suddenly single adults, or perhaps it's a massively complicated drive-thru order during morning rush hour, but something always sets That Guy apart.

What we (I) here have done at The Sound of One Hand Clapping is isolate a few such traits of That Guys everywhere, and we now pass this knowledge on to you. Do we (I) share simply out of benevolence and goodwill? No. We're (I'm) just tired of putting up with you, and are (am) actively seeking to make our (my) own lives (life) less headache-inducing. And so, with minimal further ado (really, very little though. It's gonna pass soon. You'll hardly even notice that this was here), we present to you:

A Practical Guide to Not Being "That Guy"
  • Don't complain to your direct coworkers about how busy you are. If they don't strike you as being particularly busy in comparison, it is distinctly possible that they are more productive than you are and make a more effective use of their time than looking around to see who else is busy.
  • If you approach a busy street in your car, and have already decided to pull out in front of someone, get a move on. Very few people mind that unless you're going to spend the next half mile getting your car warmed up and slowly working your way up to five under the limit.
  • At any buffet or barbeque, one plate of food will suffice. If you want two, finish the first plate and then go get in line again. Oink.
  • Don't ask for a ride so you can "save money on gas".
  • There is no Exact Change Award. Just round up to the nearest dollar bill and accept your change like the rest of us. You're not doing the cashier a favor. In fact, he or she probably hates you.
  • Don't drink all the beer. Asshole.
  • Don't talk about how old/fat/poor you feel when in a group of mixed ages/weights/tax brackets.
  • There haven't been any studies done, but I'm sure if someone took it upon themselves, the scientific community would find that "Baby On Board" signs have reduced motor vehicle accidents by a factor of 0. Don't put them on your car.
  • Do not broadcast your cell phone conversation to the rest of the sidewalk/subway/bus/cafe. Not only do we really, legitimately, totally not care about your life, you're hijacking ours until you hang up.
  • Don't tell everyone about your last mission on World of Warcraft. Rule of thumb: If it isn't real, no one cares.
  • Flush the toilet. Holy jumping JesĂș on a frying pan, I can't believe that even has to be said.
  • If you are allowed to take a right on red, I am assuming you will take it. Don't wuss out, grandpa. Do it.
  • If you find a way to bring up your significant other in every single conversation, people will stop talking to you. Maybe I only say this because I'm the male equivalent of an old cat lady, but seriously. Exist on your own every now and then. We'll like you more.
  • Fit your car/truck/tank into only one parking space, between the lines. I know it takes a few seconds, but you can do it. I have faith.
  • Don't step in front of people who have been waiting (at a customer service desk, a bar, etc). It makes people homocidal and no jury would convict them.
  • Don't broadcast your pet peeves in a blog and expect people to read it. It's preachy, antagonistic, and just unfriendly.
Don't be That Guy. No one likes That Guy.