Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In dreams

Nightmares, really.  It's too bad my therapist changed her address and phone number without forwarding the changes to me -- I'm trying hard not to take it personally! -- because she would have had a field day with the bizarre dreams I've had lately.  Last night, for example, I dreamt my immediate family and I were stranded in a foreign country.  We had to spend the night someplace, and I wound up in a place that looked suspiciously like the basement of our home in Cleveland, only it was infested by spiders and some sort of demonic female child.  I killed them all, only to be chastised by my father, who explained that I need not kill things strictly based upon the fact I feared them.

The night before, I dreamt some random guy was bullying me, and I was so surprised by his high-school tactics all I could do was laugh.  All of my friends were embarrassed by what they perceived as cowardice on my part, so I vowed to not hesitate if it should happen again.  Happen again it did, on a school bus -- we were both teachers.  I was speaking with another teacher, and he muttered something under his breath.  I asked him to repeat it, he started threatening me and got up, so I got up and started swinging for the fences.  I mostly missed, but he backed himself into a corner, at which point I jumped on him and savagely bit his nose, and started shaking my head back and forth like a rabid dog while also throwing haymakers at his rib-cage. Those around us screamed in horror and unsuccessfully tried to pry us apart, until I managed to actually bite a chunk of his nose right off his face and spit it at my friends, as if daring them to think me a coward again. Yikes.

A few nights before that, I dreamt I was at a bar with the woman who cuts my hair, and she accidentally bumped into an overweight, extremely unattractive woman.  The woman started cursing her out, so I got between them and explained to the woman it was an honest accident.  She started cursing me out, and then her equally overweight and ugly boyfriend pushed me and took a wild swing at me.  I grabbed a barstool and smashed it over his head, and when his girlfriend started giving me lip, I punched her out.  We high-tailed it out of the bar, and drove off in a panic -- I didn't want to get arrested.  My companion insisted we take some bizarre short-cut, and we wound up lost and out of gas in some hick town, where we were promptly arrested and held prisoners in a barn.

I guess I should be thankful my dreams haven't become really violent. Yet.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spike in my veins

KoRn's "The Paradigm Shift" hit stores a few days ago.  After listening to it a few times, my opinion is the album is outstanding.  Lots of old-style songs, lots of new-style songs, some dubstep... hopefully, something to please everyone.  I know I'm pleased as punch, especially with "Spike in my Veins," which features a great vocal line, a Slayer-like riff, a Mushroomhead-like keyboard accompaniment, some timely dubstep, and a great chorus.  I can't wait to see them again when they tour.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I may or may not have ranted about this before, but in honor of our government’s failtacular shutdown, here goes.

I’m not sure exactly when the so-called American Dream mutated from “opportunity + hard work = success” into “ridiculous profits for 0.001% of Americans = thorough ass-fuckery for the remaining 99.999%.”  I do know what allows it to continue to occur unchecked, though: the “My party good, your party bad” rhetoric, our collective stupidity and refusal to understand that capitalism is a very broad term, and our government’s toothless and utterly pathetic acceptance of cronyism and lobby whoring.  I remember going absolutely bonkers when Governor Romney insisted on talking about “Chinese cheating.”  What the bloody hell is that?  I can’t stand this bullshit rhetoric of making other countries out to be cheaters and thieves when WE are the ones who empower them to do so.

Never mind the “Chinese cheating” horseshit.  The greedy pig attitude of most organizations is what’s wrong with this country.  One of roughly a million examples I could cite:  my beloved Converse, an American company with a perennially popular shoe made of rubber and canvas, manufactured in the U.S. by American workers, somewhere in North Carolina, if memory serves.  These shoes – Chuck Taylor All-Stars, aka Chuckies – used to be available for $20-$30 in stores, via catalog, on the web, etc.  Some five years ago, mega-giant Nike bought out Converse in a deal widely lauded as “a real coup” for Nike by Wall Street types.  America rejoiced.  “Capitalism at its finest!  Good for Converse for cashing in!”  Not really.  Nike proceeded to shut down the production facility in North Carolina, and Converse are now mass-produced in Vietnamese and Chinese sweatshops for roughly one tenth of the cost of manufacturing them here – and this cost includes shipping and distribution.  America rejoices still.  “Wonderful!  Trickle-down economics!  The cheaper cost will result in savings for the consumers!  Everybody wins!”  Wrong.  Finding Converse for less than $50 is an out-and-out miracle.  Thousands of Americans were laid off from work.  Vietnamese and Chinese children work outlandish hours for pennies in facilities so atrociously unsafe even the fucking rats won’t venture in.  Everybody loses... except for the Converse honchos who cashed out, and the Nike honchos who are cashing in.

Citing some arcane and utterly ridiculous Horatio Alger rags-to-riches bullshit cannot remotely come close to justifying or even explaining the uncontrolled avalanche of greed that has ruined this fucking nation.  The saddest part of the Converse example is people’s reaction to this type of chicanery.  “Well, you can’t blame the very rich for trying to become richer.  I would have done the same in their place!”  Not me.  There has to be some concern for the greater good.  There HAS to.  When one’s only driving interest is the bottom line at any cost, one becomes a pathetic sheep that lends his or herself to getting ass-raped by the very privileged few, all whilst mentally chuckling and patting the ass-rapists on the back.  It makes me fucking sick.

“But what about China?  By devaluating their currency they keep the cost of their labor lower than ours, making it advantageous to manufacture in China!”  Really?  Fuck China and its currency.  No one is twisting the Nikes of the world’s collective arms to manufacture their goods there.  Let the Chinas and Nikes do what they will... but offer sizable incentives / tax and tariff breaks to companies that manufacture their goods here, and raise taxes and tariffs on companies that whore out cheap labor overseas.  Let’s say an American company does some market analysis and optimization and determines it can charge roughly $100 for their product.  If the product is manufactured here, it’ll “only” yield a profit of $30 per item, but if it’s made in China, it’ll yield a profit of $80.  In this scenario, manufacturing the product in China is kind of a no-brainer for the bottom-liners.  But if manufacturing overseas were to yield a profit of only $15 per item because of taxes and tariffs, that $30 profit suddenly becomes the no-brainer.  Profits are still made, and jobs and an economy based on something other than fucking paper magically reappear.  Stop bickering about the fine print in some idiotic health care plan and make this happen, God damn it!

Friday, September 20, 2013


A physical manifestation of the deep, burning hatred that runs through every fiber of my being?  Nope.  Just a very painful sunburn.
Note to self:  use sunscreen.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dear Mr. Fantasy

Thanks to the wonders of better living through chemistry, I'm no longer a jagged, desperate, suicidal train wreck.  Be that as it may, there are times when my melancholic depression kicks it up a notch, and leaves me feeling... blah.  Disinterested, detached, uninspired, like I'm just going through the motions.  I've been in just such a funk for well over a month now.  With sincere apologies to Jefferson Airplane, one pill makes me frantic, the other makes me calm.  I don't know what my third pill does, but I know what it should do:  be my own, personal Mr. Fantasy.  Do anything, take me out of this gloom.  And make it snappy.

Friday, July 26, 2013


No, not the outstanding movie starring Kurt Russell and the late, great J.T. Walsh. The nervous kind. How does one characterize it? What are the criteria? Does one have to go on crazy crying jags? Does one need to be Baker-Acted, yet again? Does one have to hunt someone down and beat them so hard they'll piss blood for a year? Or is it enough to be constantly consumed by an incredibly unpleasant reliving of the moment someone you not only respected but loved revealed his or herself to be a treacherous, lying coward? Discuss.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cry for the Indians

Oh, that Tribe.  After starting the season a ho-hum 5-5, the Tribe has gone on the following stretches: 3-8, then 18-5, and now 4-16.  During those stretches, it's been all or nothing.  Lackluster hitting and erratic pitching, then stellar pitching and a prolific offense, then mediocre pitching and an offense more anemic than the Olson twins.  It's that time of year again.  Time to cry for the Indians.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oldie but... well, you decide

Was looking around my drive in search of a photo, and found this essay I wrote back in my undergraduate days. Does it hold up well?

Place Assignment: The Commute

He always takes Chester Avenue on the way to work. He doesn’t particularly like Chester. In fact, he dislikes it intensely. There’s a traffic signal every other block or so. If the timing is just right – or rather, just wrong – he has to stop and start twenty-three times between the moment he turns onto Chester until he finally hops on I-71. He’s counted. His personal best thus far is ten stops. He’s tried to duplicate this feat, but the signals don’t seem to have a particular pattern. Chester is bleak, and it epitomizes the seediness of East Cleveland. During the wintertime, it seems as though every derelict in the city gathers there to huddle around makeshift bonfires. There are several abandoned homes along Chester, and all have been vandalized. In one particularly crazy week, someone or ones torched several of the empty homes. The police suspected an insurance arson scam, but could never prove it. Still, he takes Chester on the way to work because the traffic on Carnegie Avenue is brutal, even at eight in the evening.

He dreads the commute to work. Work itself is fine. Proofreading checks is dull and not the least bit challenging, but it leaves him alone with his thoughts, and that suits his brooding, introspective nature. He takes pride in his accuracy – sometimes, he goes months without making a mistake – and he likes most of his co-workers. His supervisor Katherine is beautiful, and he finds her irresistible. Even though she’s married and some ten years older than him, she can tell he has a crush on her, and flirts with him shamelessly. When no one else is within earshot, he calls her “Kitty” and they both constantly find excuses to touch one another – a little pat on the shoulder here, a friendly hand on her waist when he walks past her there. These little interactions set him aflame, and he often daydreams of making love to her while she purrs in his ear. Nothing will come of this flirtation, but even though he can’t conceive of sleeping with a married woman, the way he covets Kitty is the beginning of a disturbing trend of becoming attracted to, and eventually sleeping with, married women.

On the way back from work, he takes Carnegie. The oppressively claustrophobic sea of cars that clog the traffic during normal hours is non-existent at four in the morning. He’s a creature of obsessive-compulsive routine, and he always times himself to see how consistent his driving is. Now that he’s been on the job for a few months, he has perfected his routine so that it takes him exactly twenty minutes to go from work to the corner of Carnegie and Prospect. He uses this intersection as a landmark because it’s exactly thirteen minutes from his apartment. There’s a large digital clock and thermometer display on the northwest corner, and he always checks it as he drives past. On this particular night, he’s fifteen minutes later than usual, but this is because it’s brutally cold, even for Cleveland, and he helped jump-start two of his co-workers’ cars when their engines refused to turn over.

He’s absurdly proud of the fact that his car not only started right up, but also had enough juice to jump-start two others, almost as though he were personally responsible for his car’s superior tolerance for extremely cold weather. Kitty winked at him when she saw him jump-start one of the pressmen’s beat-up Mustang. He can’t remember the pressman’s name – Bob? Rob? – but he’s so exhilarated during the drive back that for a second, what he sees on the corner of Carnegie and Prospect doesn’t quite register. He slows down to a near-stop as he waits for the digital display to cycle through the time and display the temperature. Minus twenty-six degrees! This is easily the coldest temperature he’s ever seen. He pulls over to the side of the road and gets out of the car. It feels cold, but not extremely so. Then a frigid gust of wind comes through and shocks him with its iciness. His eyes well up, and the hair in his nose crimps. He spits on the road and watches the saliva freeze solid in less than a minute. Minus twenty-six – a multiple of lucky thirteen, to boot! For one of the few times of his life, he experiences true happiness. He smiles and gets back in his car. Exactly thirteen minutes later, he’s home.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Twice bitten, ...

... thrice shy? Four times shy? Two times the square root of five times shy? Four times the square root of two times shy? The possibilities are literally endless. Whatever the next number in the bitten-shy sequence may be, color me that number. Had my routine dental check-up / cleaning last week. Felt a little pain around my gums, bottom left-hand side. No biggie. Pain persisted into the next day. Annoyed, not worried. Hygienist must have scraped my gum. Pain worsened the next day, and the area became very sensitive to hot and cold substances. Pain worsened again the next day, stopped chewing / drinking on the left side. That same evening, the area started throbbing. By the time I went to bed, the pain was almost unbearable. When I woke up yesterday morning, the area was swollen, red, and hurt like a motherfucker. Infection. Called the dentist, she couldn’t see me right away, gave me a prescription for Amoxicillin. The last time this happened, the progression was identical. I ended up needing oral surgery. What the fucking fuck? Cleanings are supposed to be beneficial. I would sue if I wasn’t so lazy / in such miserable pain.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On accuracy and the suspension of disbelief

Science teachers are a weird bunch, to be sure. But there has to be a method to our so-called madness. A couple of months ago, a fellow Physics teacher came under severe parent fire for assigning the following word problem:

“A northbound car with a velocity of 100 m/s ran over a baby with a momentum of 800 kg m/s, what is the mass of the car?”

I’m sorry, but that problem is an absolute ignominy. For one thing, it should have been broken up into two sentences. For another, the solution is 8 kg. Eight kilograms!!! That’s 17.6 lbs. A seventeen/eighteen-pound car??? This guy is a disgrace to the profession.

A word problem has to be realistic. Here, for example, are a couple of the momentum problems I assigned during midterms:

“Cyclops” is a one-eyed cat with a mass of 6.8 kg. Cyclops’ owner is tired of looking into Cyclops’ sad little eye, and throws it out the door, where it strikes a stationary three-legged cat, “Stumpy,” that has a mass of 1.6 kg.  Stumpy flies forward with a velocity of 6.8 m/s, and Cyclops continues forward at 4.5 m/s.  What was Cyclops’ initial velocity?

An astronaut with a mass of 81 kg is outside a space capsule when the tether line breaks. Luckily, said astronaut has his pet cat “Litter” with him. To return to the capsule, the astronaut throws the 2.5 kg cat away from the capsule at a speed of 16 m/s, thus being able to return to the capsule safely. As for Litter... well, better luck in the next of its nine lives. At what speed does the astronaut move toward the capsule?

An 8-kg car simply won’t do.