Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Apt Name If Ever There Was One

Just over a year ago, I was working a summer job, preparing for the birth of my son and the move from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. One of my co-workers was a frumpier, upper-middle-aged woman whose constant cheeriness and tall-tales gave me plenty of dinnertime conversation fodder when I'd come home to Melanie. Well, this woman also happened to be one of those types that always has some physical ailment or another and wants to make sure you are well aware of it whenever you look at her. If she was going through one of her rough times, you couldn't look at her without finding her face exaggeratedly contorted into something you might, for the sake of pure convenience, call a "grimace." In other words, this was the kind of woman that was extremely friendly, but probably because she needed more friends than she actually had. She needed attention.

This post has nothing to do with that woman. Not exactly anyway, but I wanted to give you some relevant background information so that you could understand just why I feel as shocked as I do about the subject that is the topic of this post. Returning to the story, I one day noticed that this woman was wearing these really weird looking shoes (if you could even call them shoes). They were extremely goofy looking, but I assumed they were some medically prescribed footwear that served some greater purpose about which I could not even begin to guess. So I dismissed them as another token of this woman's eccentricity and, of course, perpetual ill health.

Only recently have I learned from my beloved wife that these shoes are actually a current fad. That's right, what I thought must surely be a bizarre experiment in podiatry is in actuality the latest footwear fashion trend. It turns out my former co-worker was donning the gay apparel that is Crocs.

I don't claim to be a fashion guru, but I have to ask—really? As I've looked into it more, there are a few variations of Crocs that look fairly normal. But the standard issue chunk of plastic that's been taken to a hole-punch one too many timeswell, I just don't get it. Maybe it makes sense for kids. Maybe. But only because kids can plug those holes with little trinkets and basically turn their shoes into a combination toy/fashion statement. But adults? Adults?!?

In case you don't know what Crocs are, you can check out the following video, courtesy of YouTube. I love that they make sure to point out that one of the people claiming to love Crocs is a dentist. If a dentist loves this brand of shoes, then what in the world are we all waiting for??? What a crock!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Quick update: I've taught my last real class of the semester. I teach again on Monday, but it's a review session. I've told the students to come prepared with questions because I'm not going to be planning anything in particular. While I do want to help those students that need the help and are willing to ask for it, I'm hoping that most of the class will be a no-show. Or at least, I hope that there's not really that many questions to be answered. I'm more than ready to be done with it all. Plus, I'm working on a free will paper for my directed readings course. It's coming along, but it has to be done by next week, which is also when I'll be grading a bunch of final papers for the class I'm teaching. Yikes.

But I might as well share some good news. A while back I heard that the format of the GRE was going to be changed after July. The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a test that many graduate programs require their applicants to take, including all of the Ph.D. programs I will be applying to this fall. I took the GRE a couple of years ago and could theoretically just re-use my old score, but I took the exam without prepping for it at all. All things considered, I scored fairly well, but my goal was to actually study for it this summer and then take it before July was over, while the format would still be familiar to me. I felt fairly confident that with a little bit of effort, I could get a score worth bragging about. Of course, that was before I got into teaching and realized there would be no such thing as study time. Before I knew it, it was halfway through July and I mentally kissed my chance of retaking the GRE in the familiar format goodbye.

Well, the other day I looked into the GRE again, and I learned that they are no longer revamping the test. That means I can take the exam anytime in August or September or even later and it will basically be the same as when I took it before. Different questions, of course, but same format. That means that the study guide I bought needn't go to waste. And, even better, I can wrap up my summer teaching before I worry about studying. I can't tell you how joyous this information made me. I honestly felt completely renewed, like I'd been given a second chance at my collegiate life.

That's how I felt for a day or two, at least. Now I'm back to stressing because I have less than two weeks between grades being due and the beginning of the fall semester. Fall is going to be one of the busiest times of my life EVER, so I can't push anything off until then. During the interim between summer semester and fall semester, I am therefore hoping not only to do some GRE studying, but I am also hoping to bulk up on some logic skills so I can test out of the logic class that is required by my program. I don't know that I'll have time to adequately do the latter, but I've got to give it a shot. If I don't test out of it, I'm stuck taking the logic class in the fall, which is really not what I want to be doing. Because I'll be teaching at least two classes, I don't think I can handle taking more than one class for credit, and I don't want it to be logic. But it might have to be. I guess I'll know soon enough...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Crazy Eights

As I mentioned in my previous post, Jennifer of Balance (via Offbeat Homes) volunteered me to participate in a meme. Without further ado, here it is...

8 Random Things about Me

  1. I kind of hope that when I'm old and all my hair (what's left of it) is gray, I will have crazy old-man eyebrows.
  2. Once in a blue moon, I still test out my telekinetic abilities, just in case someday it works. (I thought probably everyone did this from time to time, but my wife seems to disagree.)
  3. I also still fantasize on a somewhat regular basis about being famous (usually a famous musician). I'll even carry on extensive interviews in my head sometimes. (Okay, based on these first three answers, you'll think I'm nuts and living in a fantasy world--which I guess might be right.)
  4. I think one of the most satisfying breakfasts is a bowl of corn flakes with sliced banana, a glass of orange juice, and a toasted English muffin with butter. Really, I'm always so surprised at how perfectly it hits the spot.
  5. (Inspired by Sarah.) The first time I ever went to a water slide park, and I suppose I was a bit older than a lot of people when they do this, I had a brand new swimsuit that was almost denim-like. I thought nothing of it until I tried going down my first water slide and found that I was slide retardant. I had to scoot myself most of the way down the slide, which felt pretty humiliating. Luckily, they eventually sent down the person behind me, my pseudo-sister Brandy, who slammed into me and propelled me down the rest of the slide under her weight. When we finally crashed into the pool at the bottom, and when I finally wriggled my way out from underneath Brandy and resurfaced, the lifeguard there yelled at us for not having gone down one at a time. 'Tis not a great summertime memory.
  6. I have never seen Top Gun, and I don't care.
  7. During college, I once took an ethics course that required its students to do volunteer work and report on it as a final project. I totally fabricated mine. Can you really get more unethical than that?
  8. Velvet makes my teeth hurt. Touching, or even watching someone else touch, velvet gives me the same negative visceral reaction that some people associate with the scraping of fingernails on a chalkboard. It's been that way for about as long as I can remember. Anything even remotely velvet-like, such as felt, stands a good chance of making the nerves in my two front teeth start to sing. Corduroy and suede are borderline. Even a really downy blanket can cause problems if the softness and fuzziness ratio are just right (or wrong, I guess I should say). In fact, my teeth are starting to ache just writing about this. So I think I'll stop.
I guess the rules are that I'm now supposed to tag eight other people, who are then under the strictest of moral obligations to continue the meme and "pay it forward," if you will. I'll mostly have to tag family members because few else read my blog. Very few. And some of those few have already done this. So, although I do not expect anyone to actually follow through with this assignment, I hereby tag: Melanie, Mudderbear, Jak, and The Damsel. As for those fortunate enough not to be related to me (and who haven't already done this meme, as far as I can remember), I hereby tag: Mac G, Momentary Academic, and Brent if you're still alive. That leaves one nomination up for grabs. Take it if you want it.

If any of you find this as insulting as having a friend send you a chain letter, I apologize and happily relinquish you of any obligation to comply.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quoth This

I’ve been given an assignment by one of my favorite bloggers out there, Jennifer of Balance, whose many professional blogging endeavors—and yes, professional blogging does exist—is Offbeat Homes, a blog dedicated to architectural eccentricity. I have to say I was quite honored by Jennifer’s reference to me as “my oldest most likeable blog buddy Benny.” Is that sweet or what? Well, I’m still going to fulfill that assignment, Jennifer, but first I’m going to do something that requires even less creativity on my part. I’ve been thinking that an easy way to post more frequently (but with less stress) would be to start sharing book quotes that I have enjoyed over the years. I haven’t always been diligent about keeping a record of enjoyable book quotes, so I can’t guarantee these will always be the absolute cream of the crop. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to rack up a decent list of quotables that I think are worth sharing.

To begin, I will start with the current novel I am reading, Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett. I haven’t read a Pratchett novel before, but my little sister was quite a fan of Good Omens and so while aimlessly wandering through my local library branch one day, I ended up perusing what books of Pratchett’s happened to be on the shelf. Thief of Time promised to be a philosophical satire of sorts, so naturally I had to pick it up. So far I think I’m reading it too sporadically to keep track of things as well as I should, but that hasn’t prevented me from finding some decent quotations. Here is one of the more recent gems I’ve stumbled upon, and one which I think is probably more true than we’d sometimes like to believe:

“Well?” said Lu-Tze.
“The Way has an answer for everything, does it?”
“Then …” Lobsang nodded at the little volcano, which was gently smoking, “… how does that work? It is on a saucer!”
Lu-Tze stared straight ahead, his lips moving.
“Page seventy-six, I think,” he said.
Lobsang turned to the page.
“‘Because,’” he read.
“Good answer,” said Lu-Tze, gently caressing a minute crag with a camel-hair brush.
“Just ‘Because,’ master? No reason?”
“Reason? What reason can a mountain have? And, as you accumulate years, you will learn that most answers boil down, eventually, to ‘Because.’”

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What'll Ya Have, What'll Ya Have?

As a graduate student of philosophy, money is something I’m used to dealing with almost purely on the theoretical level. Summertime is even harder, as student loans from the previous academic year have all been depleted but the monthly bills remain. Add to that the twice deferred payment schedule for those students who are teaching summer classes in order to earn some extra dough (such as yours truly), and you begin to realize just how bleak the perennial college life is.

Sadly, I’ve had to send my little boy off to work. Just shy of turning 1-year-old, he’s been brave about the whole thing. I think he chose rightly to begin in the fast food industry. By the time he’s in high school, he’ll be able to salt fries with both his hands tied behind his back. For an after school job, he’ll have his pick of any mall food court eatery you can imagine.

Though I probably embarrassed him in front of all his new friends, I couldn’t resist showing up in the middle of Edison’s first shift at The Varsity. For those who don’t know, The Varsity is considered a landmark, the world’s largest drive-in (see the Wikipedia article here). You can eat inside the restaurant too, which is where Eddie is stationed. Anyway, I snuck in and snapped some pictures of him before he realized I was there. I can’t believe how grown up he looks, all dressed up for work. Sigh. Take a look:

Young Edison welcomes customers with The Varsity’s trademark greeting.

Eddie diligently works to fashion his first hamburger patty.

Eddie samples the wares – don’t let the manager see you, li'l guy!

Eddie proudly hands a customer the correct amount of change (give or take a nickel).

Having just been given his first “special order” (in this case, hold the ketchup), Edison experiences his first few moments of wavering self-doubt. “Cheating” off his co-worker, Eddie is finally able to type the correct code into his cash register.

Surprise! Edison is slightly taken aback as Mom and Dad come out of the crowd and reveal themselves. His embarrassment turns to gratitude when Mom lovingly reminds him, “Nobody’ll want you to take their order if we don’t change your diaper at least once during your shift!”