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22 December 2008

A little somethin' for the ladies

Sorry girls, I'm spoken for.
Honestly, I don't know when it happened, and I couldn't tell you exactly why, but it's become an insurmountable compulsion at this point to make a shitty face like this whenever a camera is pointed my way. In my twilight years, I will wistfully browse through pictures on my whizzbang-o-matic, and refer to my mid-to-late twenties as my "who farted?" period.

05 December 2008

I am offended by your casual disregard for my basic psychological needs.

One of the few things I remember from Intro to Psychology (though I don't remember what it's called) is the fairly obvious fact that people fear unpleasant things more and more the closer they get. Which is why most people make dentist appointments a few weeks in advance, so that they can lock themselves into something they know they need to do, before the prospect of actually going becomes so daunting that they just forget about it.

With that in mind, I got up the nerve to call the dentist's office yesterday for one of the first times since my mom stopped making appointments for me. Imagine my surprise/disgust when they offered me an appointment for 10 AM the very next morning. As in today. Haven't you people taken Into to Psychology? Have you no decency?

I go now, to walk through The Valley of the Shadow of Sharp Metal Pokers alone. Farewell.

17 November 2008

Watching the wagon roll away, dusting myself off.

So, I'm drinking coffee again. Which isn't really such a big deal, except that I was pretty successful in quitting it for a pretty long time. I was prepared to chalk my most recent transgressions up to temporary relapses and not full-monty abandonment of my commitment, but then the other day I didn't just have a few sips of the stale pot in the office that someone else made. I paid for it. With money. Twice.

That was nice while it lasted.

In related news, Dunkin' Donuts Egg White Veggie Flatbreads are kinda gross.

In completely unrelated news, I finally got around to purchasing one of these Mad Peck Providence posters, only 4 years after moving out of Providence and thinking to myself that I'd like to have one. If it was concern that they might be expensive, and I'm not sure that it was, it was probably just inertia, then that was a very silly reason to wait so long, because it turns out they're actually only $5 before shipping. F'ing sweet.

27 October 2008


In a week in which many of my most persistent character flaws have been cast into stark relief and I've been compelled to finally learn some big-boy lessons instead of continuing to expect different results from the same behaviors, I seem still not to have learned one thing that I really, at this point, should know very well. No matter how funny it seems in my head before I say it out loud (or, honestly, how funny it seems to me even after I say it), it's a mistake to expect anything other than polite smiles and cricket sounds to follow a good pun. Which is completely unfair.

Hi, I'm Mike, and I'm a Weapon of Math Destruction.

::chirp chirp::

23 October 2008


Man, I've been sitting here for the past 2 hours trying to put down some ideas I've had lately for...something. A song, maybe? Do I still write those? I was actually thinking of making it a short story, but if the still-young day of 10/23/08 has taught me anything so far, it's that when you completely neglect your old resolutions to write whenever you have time, your writing skills suffer. Oh I know, I couldn't believe it either.

I went to my first show in forever the other night and had one of these absolute only-in-NY kind of moments: a Jaymay show punctuated by a bordeline raving lunatic joining her on stage to make sure that everyone in the audience knew that (among other things) the black man depicted on his jacket was Martin Luther King, and not Barack Obama. I was slackjawed the entire time he was on stage, as the audience streamed out of the venue, at what I was witnessing. It was all I wanted to talk about afterwards. And then I sat down at a keyboard to type something about it and all I could come up with was this dreck. Frustrating.

Anyway, it hasn't all been just that I'm so busy (though that's a lot of it). It's partly that lately whenever I sit down at a computer I can't tear myself away from all the snark and vitriol and bile spewed into the Internet with regards to the election long enough to write anything. Between Michele Bachmann calling for McCarthyism 2.0 and...holy shit sandwich watch that video. Could there be anybody worse than Michele Bachmann? I mean honestly. She is completely unhinged. The point is, I've been distracted. The point also is: vote.


25 September 2008


In recent years, I've made it a point to be low-key about birthdays. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention for an entire day, especially when it's just for being born (which is simultaneously totally cool and kinda unremarkable), and not for something boss like how stupefyingly good I am at high school level algebra and geometry. I have successfully hidden my birthday from coworkers a few times, even.

But Amy threw me a surprise party this year. She tricked me (really had to twist my arm) into going into one of my favorite bars to wait for a fancy dinner reservation, and a bunch of my friends were there. They were all waiting in the back for me, and I'm sure they (and Amy) imagined me walking back there and freaking out when everyone yelled "Surprise!" all at once. I foiled that plan by making a beeline to the bar as soon as I got inside, so instead of a big surprise, I was the jackass thinking, as the first of them revealed himself, "Oh, crazy, what a coincidence that Jeremy's here." Slowly, though, it dawned on me that more than mere happenstance was at work, and what was already shaping up to be a very nice night evolved into one of the best nights I can remember having in a very long time.

As if that wasn't enough, a few of my Facebook savvy students found me out too, and for the past 2 nights I've been touched by some very thoughtful and unexpected gestures that, honestly, caught me completely off-guard. And then, today, the steady stream of calls, cards, texts, emails, and Facebook messages was really nice. I heard from a bunch of people I hadn't heard from in a long time.

Anyway, this is mushier than I usually get, especially in the tubes, so I should wrap it up before I lose my nerve. I sat down to write this tonight to thank everyone that made me feel like my 27th birthday was something worth celebrating. So, thank you. I'm lucky to have such good friends.

13 August 2008

Brain Teaser

One of the cool things about my job is that once in a while, my boss will throw some sort of ridiculous brain teaser my way, just to keep me sharp. I was digging through some old stuff because I recently switched offices (movin' on up...) and found this one, which I remembered thinking about for days before solving it drunk on over-sized mudslides at a Dallas BBQ. So I looked at it again, and for the life of me couldn't remember where to start for another day. This shit is hard.
Working alone, Holmes puts two coats of paint on a wall, one before lunch and one after lunch. One day, Holmes began at the usual time, and two hours before lunch he was joined by Watson, who paints at the rate of 600 square meters per day, and who left when they finished the first coat. Holmes promptly began the second coat, and then he broke for lunch at the usual time. One hour before his normal quitting time, Holmes had painted a second coat everywhere except where Watson had painted that morning. If each man works at a constant rate, what was the area of the wall, in square meters?
Have at it, if you dare.

07 August 2008

Can anything stop The Animal?

When I lived in Queens (coming up on 2 years ago now), the street parking market was so competitive that I would have nightmares about it. I would also end up settling very often for a spot that would allow me to get a few quick hours of sleep at the end of a long work day, knowing that I would have to wake up and move my car to another spot that surely would not exist before 7:30 AM due to the unfortunate timing of my neighborhood's street cleaning schedule.

Last night, for reasons I'm not sure I understand yet, I decided to park in the one place in my current Brooklyn neighborhood that would require me to have life prior to the hour of 7 AM: a school zone. And so here I am, wide awake at 6:45, an hour wondering who I am and what I've done with the Mike that I used to know and sort of like.

And since my early rising has me nostalgic, I happened across a familiar face the other night, one I figured I'd never see again as long as I lived. Which is funny, because I hadn't realized that I'd thought such a morbid thought until I actually saw her, and thought to myself, "Okay, I guess I'll really never see her again after this." Anyway, I'm not sure if she saw me too, but I like to think that she did, so that I can sleep soundly under the blanket of assumption that despite us both ending up in the same place at the same time against all odds, I wasn't the only one who (out of debilitating social awkwardness, not malice) couldn't muster a hello.

My relationship with Fantastic Contraption started slow, but has quickly devolved into borderline obsession. I played it until 2 AM last night even though I knew I would be waking up at 6 to move my car, and went to bed still thinking about it. My designs are -- generally speaking -- quick, dirty, and unimpressive, but I did pat myself on the shoulder briefly for this one, inspired by the fantasy toy of anyone who was 6 years old in 1987 and ever dared to dream: The Animal. Sing it with me now: The Animal, The Animal, Can anything stop, The ANIMALLLL?

16 July 2008

What he would have wanted

I worked late tonight. Which matters not to this story, other than to establish the setting. I was driving down a dark, curvy suburban road and I saw the car in front of me hit an opossum and never even slow down. Honestly, there's a pretty good chance the driver never saw the thing because it darted out pretty close, but I was surprised not to even see brake lights after what surely must have been a decent bump. But while the driver's (lack of) humanity might have been disappointing, it wasn't what drove me to recount the scene.

There was another witness. Another opossum, in fact, of similar size and speed. Just...luckier I guess. I probably didn't brake as much as it felt like I did, but time seemed to slow down as I rolled by to see him (no, I don't know how to tell the difference, but I'm assuming masculinity) stood in the other lane, looking back at his fallen comrade in a pool of fresh blood, then at me. It was as if he was trying to decide whether he should go back and help. Or see if I would stop to do the same. Or maybe he was just slowly processing the whole thing.

And then he just turned around, and finished crossing the road, probably never to return. To do whatever it is that his kind does. Because that's what he set out to do, and all he could do. Because that's life, really. And I just kept driving, careful to avoid the corpse.

Anyway, that was about an hour ago.

09 July 2008

One more thing about California

In more than one store in the San Diego area, I was offered a choice of a paper or plastic bag. This is something that I remember being commonplace when I would accompany my mom to the grocery store as a kid, but that I've never witnessed in 4 years in New York. What's more, it wasn't just a simple, indifferent "Paper or plastic?"

"Would you like a paper bag," one checkout girl asked with a shy, almost flirty smile. Then she crumpled up her face, as though she had overheard a racist joke at the very same moment that she smelled a fart, to finish the question: "or do you need plastic?"

Honestly, I spent a good deal of the trip dismayed at the fact that one must drive forever to get anywhere in Southern California, but this bit of environmental awareness really warmed my heart a bit.

Yeah, I hug the shit out of trees.


One thing I forgot to mention in the last post about my trip to California is that although I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to food, I found something new to append to my list of food I've tried, but never want to try again: pickled shark bones (which aren't really bones, they're cartilage, but whatever). Imagine if you will something that is concomitantly slimy and crunchy, and tastes remarkably like a solid form of sea water.

I'm reminded of this because I've been receiving regular communiques from Handsome James (who hasn't ever referred to himself as such, but who I hope will now consider it), who finds himself this summer in Beijing, which is infamous for its...uniquely liberal take on what is and what is not appetizing. He sent me the following image, which can go straight to the list of things I will never under any circumstances put in my mouth and chew on:
click image to see it bigger if you dare
So yeah, it's been a while since I wrote about centipedes on here, huh? Good to see you again, old friends.

07 July 2008

California roundup

I'm sitting in the San Diego Airport waiting for a delayed red eye flight back to JFK. What better time to fashion a bulleted list to document and reflect upon -- in a disorganized way -- my trip to Californ-I-A?
  • This afternoon on a double-decker bus tour of downtown S.D., I saw clouds in the sky for the first time all week. A few wispy, white, unmenacing clouds.
  • We rented a convertible for the week, a Mitsubishi Eclipse.
    • The first car I ever drove was a Wrangler, so I know what it's like to drive without a roof, but it's different in California when it's warm enough to do it every day. Also, the Eclipse's engine never stalled dead at 70 mph on the highway like that old Wrangler used to do.
    • I've never really been behind the wheel of even an entry-level sports car before. Don't get me wrong, I love the Yaris, but it was nice to be able to take off on an open road without the fear of an automotive hernia.
  • One really does need a vehicle to do anything here.
  • On a related note, we saw fireworks on the 4th at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and I have never in my life seen such expansive parking lots. And it still wasn't enough.
  • At the fair, you could pay someone to strap you into an apparatus, and slingshot you straight up a few hundred feet in the air, and then bounce you around bungee-style, upside down and inside out, until you begged for death.
  • They had a swing ride at the fair. I've vomited on a number of carnival rides in my life, but never in so fantastic a manner as I did on the swings at the Big East fair in Connecticut when I was about 10. At least I think it was that fair. I just remember the shirt I was wearing. And the barf.
  • This airport has only one runway, and a plane either lands or takes off every 90 seconds. Why oh why not mine?
  • I just realized an epic fail: I left something I really would've liked to keep in the rental car. Fudge.
  • You know what's really big? An aircraft carrier. Although we didn't go on (who has the time), we did drive by, and The Midway is huge. It's really amazing that something like that can float.
  • If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, apparently, you should NOT ask someone to suck the poison out. Which really makes me think...what OTHER misinformation have I been fed by Hollywood?
  • Of course, when in San Diego, one must go to the zoo. The animal that stares most hungrily at zoo visitors: the Komodo dragon. Animals that dig most enthusiastically in each others' butts: these guys.
  • The people I met in San Diego were, in general, extremely proud of their city. And not in a jingoistic "your city sucks" kind of way (I'm looking at you, Boston), in a charming way. It made me like the city more.
  • Only about 15,000 people live in downtown San Diego (according to the recording on the tour bus). I thought it was way bigger than that.
There's more, probably. But I landed back in New York yesterday, having cut this off when the plane began to board and I wasn't done yet. So...try not to lose any sleep lamenting the incompleteness of a post that, if you really read it, might have been the biggest waste of your time since you watched this.

03 July 2008

Now that's what I'm talking about.

It's been a long time since I sat down to write here. A lot has happened, too. I had my 5 year college reunion at the end of May, and surely something worth mentioning happened in June, although it became the first month since I made this site that didn't see even a single post.

So I've been down, with regards to the site, but I'm not out. Not as long as life continues to greet me with awesome things like this:That's the toilet paper roll at The Standard in Downtown Los Angeles, from the desk of which I am currently writing this post. Actually, I don't know if it's from this particular hotel or one of their other ones, because I had to find it here via Google image search; my camera has committed Seppuku since the last time I used it, perhaps to avoid the dishonor of snapping this very picture (the first I tried to take upon arrival). Regardless, I was careful in removing that sticker, and I'm keeping it.

Right, Los Angeles. So far it's pretty cool, even without the pooping sticker. We went to The Getty Center, and have had some amazing sushi. We even got to check out a show at El Rey.

The Getty Center was the only time I've been madder about the camera since it broke than I was when I saw the toilet paper -- it's transcendently beautiful. In New York I've felt the few times I've been to the Guggenheim that the architecture of the building remains the main attraction, overshadowing whatever collections reside within. Well, add to The Getty's amazing architecture a panoramic view of Los Angeles (and its smog) from a hilltop, some remarkable gardens and fountains, and a cloudless sunny sky, and you might understand why we didn't see much of the artwork housed inside the buildings. I didn't want to leave.

20 May 2008

Very professional.

My morning routine consists of hitting snooze between 2 and 4 times (inclusive), walking to the shower with my eyes closed, eating a vitamin, getting dressed, and then plopping down in front of the computer for 20 minutes before I leave the house to see what the Internet has been up to overnight. I don't usually put shoes on until right before I leave, around the same time I put my phone and keys and wallet into my pockets.

This morning it was kinda cold in the apartment, so mid-Internetting I put my slippers on. Then, when it was time to go to work, I just got up, walked out of the house, got into the car, and drove to work. Still in my slippers.

18 May 2008

The opera.

I went to see Verdi's Macbeth last night at the Met. I'm going to do a bullet point thing here, but before I dig into it, I want to say unequivocally that although I'm not much of an opera buff, I had an awesome time.
  • There was a guy there in a cape. In the audience. And not the kind of cape you'd expect in the Grand Tier of The Metropolitan Opera. A cape like it just came out of a square-shaped costume package from the Halloween store. It still had all the fold marks, and it was clearly made of the kind of material out of which only Halloween Dracula costumes are made. At first, in fact, I thought it was a costume. But then I followed him long enough to see him talk to someone, to see if he was wearing fake fangs (what, intermission is long), and he wasn't. He was just wearing a costume store cape. I wanted to take a picture so bad.
  • I like the company numbers a lot better than the solos. I think this lands me in the minority of those that end up at the opera house, but it's true. When all those people are singing at once with their big opera voices, it's awesome.
  • I've always known this about myself, but last night really cast it into stark relief: technical prowess impresses me a lot less that does...pretty melody. The gasps and whispers and shouts of "BRAVO!" after each run-filled solo were well deserved to be sure, but I was, for the most part, the most pumped after the company pieces and when the orchestra was doing its thing. The one exception, I suppose, was towards the end when Macduff finds out that his family has been murdered. That guy's voice was totally boss and rad.
  • There's very little acting in opera.
  • The director made some strangely anachronistic decisions. For example, the armies carried rifles, not swords, and in one scene, drove a Jeep to battle. Most of the bad guys wore black leather jackets. But still, many scenes took place in the castle, and all the murders still happened with knives. When Baz Luhrmann reinterpreted the world of Romeo and Juliet to fit it into a modern gang war, he really took great pains so that it would make as much sense as possible. Here, it felt like someone just said something to the effect of "Guns are cooler than swords. Give them guns." Which, I mean, come on, is totally fine with me.
  • Some of the things they do with the set at The Met are really cool. I remember thinking the same thing the only other time I've ever been.
  • I hadn't read Macbeth since 9th grade, which was like 13 years ago. I had totally forgotten that Macduff was not "of woman born" because he was born by Cesarean section. I can't be the only one that wants to call bullshit on that, right?

12 May 2008


So I have ants on my desk at work. Not huge ones, just little tiny ones. And not swarms, just a few crawl by a day. I don't know what to do about them, really. I put a couple traps down, and I've made sure there's no food around for them to find. Still they march ever onward, in search of that which they will not find, destined only to meet their untimely end by my Wrathful Hand.

The killer inside me, long dormant since I moved away from Queens (where things like this used to happen), has reawakened. I kill without remorse; I kill without pause.

I've noticed something strange about the oozing corpses of my foes. They smell like nail polish remover. At first, I had assumed that that the smell was coming from elsewhere. But as the bodies piled up, it became abundantly clear. It was my own lethal hand that smelled of acetone. My own, unpolished hand.

So yeah. Apparently this isn't news to anyone who hangs out with ants a lot, but it was news to me. My first guess, which wasn't too far off, was that I was smelling a very concentrated amount of the chemical ants use to make trails other ants can follow. It turns out ants produce a lot of chemicals other than that one, and what I'm really smelling is a cocktail of all those different acids, that just kinda happens to smell like acetone to me. Thanks, Internet!

Money quote from The Straight Dope: "That smell coming off those crushed ants is not just the smell of fear and death, but also the smell of true cleanliness and health." Read the whole explanation to find out why.

06 May 2008

On gas.

I'm really sick of reading about Clinton's and McCain's gas tax ideas. So, I figured I'd write about them, so everyone else that's sick of reading about them can roll their eyes and click on by. I promise not to make such topical distractions a habit on this, my largely self involved corner of the Internet.

It just won't work. Economists say so. Most intelligent people I've spoken to about it say so. Hell, Obama knows it won't work because he tried some similar shit in Illinois and it didn't work. What's more, it seems even Clinton and McCain know it won't work, but can't resist the opportunity to prey on public anxiety for political gain. It's exactly the kind of cynical pandering that makes me so sick to my stomach about our political system, and what bother me most about this particular steaming pile are the Lilliputian dollar amounts that are being touted as relief.

Most people that would benefit at all from this "relief" of $30 or so are about to receive checks for $600 from the federal government just for filing their taxes. That kind of money is relief. I'm looking forward to that $600, and although I certainly would be able to think of a few things to do with $30 other than light it on fire if someone handed it to me, the notion that my vote might be bought for the phantom promise of such a paltry sum really irks me.

Look, if you really want to propose a solution that would never get through our bureaucracy anyway just to grab the votes of at least a few simpletons, aim high.

How about this?

How about you repeal the sales tax on the purchase of all vehicles (new and used) that get over 35 miles per gallon? Now that would save some people a lot of money on gas, not to mention encourage a shift in public thinking to prioritize fuel efficiency over the ability to drive the kids to the soccer game through molten lava. My car gets about 36 miles to a gallon (for real, I keep a spreadsheet) and although I do a lot of driving for work, rising gas prices haven't really hurt me too badly yet. I still fill up for about $35.

Hell, take it one step further: waive the sales tax for new cars only if the car gets better than 35 miles per gallon and is made in the USA. Create some jobs in Detroit!

Sure, not everyone can afford to buy a new car. Or a used one. But there's going to come a time in the not-so-distant future when people are going to have to seriously weigh the cost of maintaining a gas guzzler against the cost of junking it and getting a car with some fuel efficiency. Why not give a few people a head start?

Unreasonable? Sure. You could drive a Hummer through the holes in it. But if someone started stumping with this sort of plan at least it would pique my interest, not just ignite my utter seething contempt.

20 April 2008

smelling the light at the end of the tunnel

I was hours into an epic battle with the dust bunnies in my bedroom the other day when I got to the corner of the room occupied by my guitar. I wiped a thickness of dust measurable in centimeters off the case, and opened it up. Still in tune! So, needing a break from Spring cleaning, I played for a while. I played for the first time in months. And I started writing a song about weather and love and Pop-Tarts* and I think it's coming along all right. It has a melody and a structure and a first verse and I have sore fingertips.

My guitar (like my blog) has been woefully neglected lately as I spend the majority of my waking life leading a Shermanic march towards the May SAT. Once that test has come and gone, my next big push won't really start until September. I'm really not sure exactly what I'll do with myself in the meantime. Depending on which day it is, I alternate between visions of two extreme scenarios: 1) a sangria-drenched summer punctuated by productive creative bursts, cross-country trips, friends and Mets games, or 2) a sedentary marathon of FPS-induced brain-softening. It'll probably (I hope) end up being somewhere in between.

I bought a new laptop last week. A Macbook. I had been thinking about doing it for a while, and when I woke up on my one day off last week and there was somebody sleeping on the couch that I had been planning to occupy for the better part of the day, I decided to get out of the apartment. The only place I could think to go was the Apple Store in SoHo, which is a wonderful part of town to be in on a warm spring day. There's always a better than decent chance that, if you look at all like you know what you're doing, you'll be asked for directions by a runway model with an accent. Anyway, I'm writing on it now from a monastery-converted-to-a-conference-center outside the city. Aside from my frustration that the 'control' key seems to have been robbed of its livelihood, and my hardened conviction that Winamp is far superior to iTunes for album listening, I rather like it.

* It might not still have Pop-Tarts in it when it's done.

12 March 2008

My Big Mouth and I

Yesterday on the way out of the burrito place near work I was talked into staring into a television camera and telling the viewership of some Long Island news program -- burrito in hand -- how I felt about Eliot Spitzer's transgressions.

It went something like this:
News Lady: Excuse me. Do you have a minute to tell us how you feel about the Governor's sex scandal?
Me: (staring at my plainly watch-less wrist) Uhh...No. No thanks.
NL: Oh, come on. I can tell from that response that you have an opinion.
Lady Driving By in Her Car: Excuse me, is there something wrong?
Camera Woman: No, we're just getting people's opinions about Spitzer.
LDBiHC: Oh! He should RESIGN!
NL: Do you want to say that on camera?
LDBiHC: YES!!! (actually chirps her tires to find a parking spot)
NL (to me now): So?
Me: Fine.
So yeah, nobody twisted my arm. I ended up acquiescing because 1) the News Lady cleverly keyed into the fact that although I generally keep my mouth shut about this kind of thing, I do have an opinion, and 2) I'm a closet egomaniac and even though I should know better, sometimes I can't shake the feeling that I'm the only person in the world that's right about anything. Kidding. Sort of.

So I stood there while they got the angles right, and I spoke into the microphone they shoved in my face about how I feel betrayed by the guy; a guy that's risen to political stardom by standing up to rich white guys who write their own rules and should make sure he keeps his own nose clean, that he doesn't become that which he has labored to defeat. And yes, I did vote for him, and I wouldn't take back that vote but how knowing what I know now I wouldn't vote for him again and how yes, I do think he should resign. On that last point my original answer to the question was a non-committal "...Yeah," but I was asked to restate my response in a complete sentence, which leads me to believe that if any of the whole thing made it to air, it was that part.

Anyway, as I walked to my car afterwards, I just felt dirty. It's another nasty, awful thing to have happened in politics, which is to say, it's mostly business as usual. But I allowed myself to be cajoled into taking a black-or-white stance on one side of an issue that's actually quite gray. I don't expect that anybody I know was watching because I didn't tell anyone (until now), and it's a moot point now that he's gone and resigned this morning, but when it was over I regretted contributing to a media circus that I find generally distasteful. I mean for fuck's sake, she called it a "sex scandal." It makes my skin crawl.

Also, I was having a really bad hair day.

07 March 2008

taking stock

In September I turned 26. And although I've never stuck to a New Year's resolution in my life, I figured I'd try to set some goals for myself in this, my 26th solar circumnavigation. Early goal for next year: stop saying shit like "solar circumnavigation."

Anyway, I figured I'd revisit the list see how I'm doing.
  • Tell someone very clearly and sincerely to "piss up a rope." - I'm disappointed to report that I haven't done this. Rest assured that it will happen eventually.
  • Score a 2400 on the SAT. - Achievement unlocked. Ladies, line up on one side for makeouts. Dudes, to the other side for high fives.
  • Become good ( domination good) at some shooter video game. - No dice. I suck at everything. ESPECIALLY Call of Duty 4.
  • Become a vegetarian 3-4 days a week. - Actually, it's more like 6-7 days at this point. Funny thing is, it was really hard when it was 3-4 days a week because I could never settle on which days would be veg and which wouldn't. But gradually, I just started wanting meat less, and wanting broccoli like all the damn time. I think it was harder to quit drinking coffee, which I also did. I haven't felt this good since the last time I got regular exercise, circa 2003.
  • Go to the dentist for crissakes. - Um, maybe in June.
  • Start playing guitar again. - God damn do I wish I could say that I've done any playing since September. This one is going to start taking a much higher priority.
So...2 out of 5. But the year's only half over.

20 February 2008

Well, there goes November.

If you call me in November and I don't answer, there's a pretty good chance Gears of War 2 will be the reason.

07 February 2008


I've heard British people call math "maths," which I suppose makes just as much sense as "math" if we're just abbreviating mathematics. I love math(s). I love it (them...ok F this) with all my heart. I've always felt comfortable in the company of a geometry proof. Cold rooms seem warmer when there's math to be done.

Once in a while Rob (he of the 7 minute piano outro) and I will have a few drinks and dig into a brain teaser, which is pretty much the perfect night. He likes math too. In fact, he's written some of the most beautiful poetry I've ever read (loosely) inspired by physics and math. I ask him sometimes to put it online and I hope eventually he will so that I can link you to it. If it doesn't move you, your heart is cold, black, and abnormally small.

Thing is, most people don't. I think it's a lot like golf. Golf is the most frustrating game in the world, but any golfer (especially a shitty one) will tell you that he was hooked the first time he hit a long, straight drive, or landed an approach shot 3 feet from the pin; he goes out and curses his way up and down the course time and time again chasing the ghost of that first high. I'll never forget the feeling I had the first time I impressed a teacher by navigating a really hard geometry problem. I don't think anyone that's never experienced a similar thrill should be allowed around children.

A lot of what I teach isn't math. The SAT isn't a math test as much as it is a reasoning test, and the fastest, most foolproof way to get a lot of those questions right is to sidestep the math altogether. There's plenty of fun to be had talking about that kind of stuff too, but I always look forward to the questions that can only be solved with some deep understanding of, say, the definition of absolute value.

It's not rocket science, but I really love geeking out about the way |f(x)| bounces off the X-axis wherever f(x) might cross it, and explaining why. I just think it's neat.

So, tonight was a good night. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go give myself that swirly I've been begging for.

22 January 2008


So part of the job I have now is making sure that when kids show up to get their learn on, some things are there, ready to facilitate this hallowed process. Things like, oh, I don't know, teachers. And all the stuff the teachers might need, like chalk. And food and drink.

So I'm in the Rite Aid the other night in Great Neck (East Egg, if you're a Gatsby fan) waiting in line to purchase some beverages for the instructors I have arriving on the 6:19 train. It's right about 6pm. And although there's a line of customers waiting to pay, the one cashier behind the counter is motionless, staring blankly at some items on her counter. Items belonging, it seemed, to an invisible customer.

It became clear shortly thereafter that it was not an invisible customer at all that was keeping us waiting, but another Rite Aid employee whose shift had just ended, and who wanted to take advantage of what must be a generous employee discount to bring home some deodorant and salt. Sure, there was a line, and sure, such a transaction requires that a manager come over to the register and apply the discount, when he gets around to it. But I've worked in retail, and I know how much clerks learn to give a shit about customers in a rush, so although I was annoyed, nothing about the situation really surprised me.

Nothing, that is, until the guy in front of me, without really raising his voice, just said something flatly to the clerk waiting for manager's approval. That's when I had my Where am I? moment.

"You know, this is why your stock price is down."

Funny, I thought it was because of a poorly executed takeover of a few rival chains, compounded by waning consumer confidence and other, more complicated, negative market conditions. But your perspicacity, sir, cannot be denied. It's definitely the deodorant and the salt.

08 January 2008

come on.

So I've been bringing a clementine or two with me in the car when I drive to work in the mornings lately. Trying to eat breakfast, which has never really been a priority for me in the past. It's kinda dangerous because I peel them with one hand while I drive with the other, but so far it's been fine. I just toss the peel down on the passenger seat and stuff the whole little fruit in my mouth. But today when I looked down on the seat when I got to work, this is what was staring back at me:


OK fine so I placed the little stem thing there for effect. But that's how I peeled it, completely accidentally. Not even looking at it. And that's how the peel was staring back at me from the seat when I finally looked down.

This incident, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what the gods had in mind when they gave us camera phones.