Thursday, January 31, 2008

Potpourri No. 19

200th Post
That's right, you're now reading the official 200th post by yours truly. I know, it's not a huge milestone considering I've been writing this blog for over three years now. (Wow!) A lot of bloggers would have passed their 200th post mark long before their first year was up, but if I tried to blog on a daily basis, I would probably flunk out of school and spend even less quality time with my family than I already do. So, perhaps I should be celebrating how little I've written rather than how much. Whatever. I'll let you decide how to interpret the specialness of this occasion.

Cutting Footloose
I'm now officially off of my crutches and out of my walking boot. In order to accommodate the swelling that still remains in my left foot (and will likely remain for as long as a year, saith the doctor), I had to buy some cheap shoes that are one size bigger than I normally wear. It feels weird to be in a regular shoe, simply because I'm not used to it, but it's also nice to see normalcy on the horizon. In related news, I've started physical therapy. Sometimes I'm unsure of how much good it's doing, especially considering it's costing me (after insurance!) roughly $100 per week! But I assume they know what they're doing. As long as they can get me to the point where I can kick 'em in the rear if it ends up being a waste of my time, I guess that's something.

Rockin' Robin
Melanie and I recently splurged and went out to eat at a bona fide sit-down-and-get-served restaurant. We went to Red Robin, the gourmet burger establishment. And I must say, it was certainly a gourmet burger that I enjoyed. It's the new "Burger Parmigiana," which comes with marinara sauce, sautéed peppers and onions (I got mine without the onions, of course), Parmesan cheese, garlic mayo, and the coup de grâce, a "crisply fried Mozzarella wheel." If you're sick of relying on triple bacon cheeseburgers to get all that fat into your system, the revolutionary idea of adding fried dairy products to your burger should prove very appealing.

Watch for Falling Stars
I don't suppose very many of you pay attention to the ever-changing contents of my sidebar, where I feature the most recent books, movies, and music that I have read, seen, and/or heard. Even fewer of you (we're threatening to get into negative numbers now) are likely to pay attention to the star rating I bestow upon the movies I see, based on a traditional four-star rating scale (going from "zero" meaning crap to "* * * *" meaning excellent, ascending in half-star increments). Well, I think I'm going to change things up a bit. Back in the day, I used to do an excessive amount of movie watching and I viewed myself as an amateur critic. I wrote movie reviews for my high school newspaper, and I continued the trend after graduating high school by participating in an online forum for modest critics such as myself. (You can still find the 80 or so reviews I wrote if you know where to look.) But nowadays I find myself more distracted in life, and I find that I am not so particular about the movies I see. That is, I don't scrutinize like I once did, although I pride myself on being more perceptive than the average movie goer. The belabored point being, I think I'll make my movie ratings more vague. Basically, I'll have four categories. I may come up with some clever way of labeling them, but in a nutshell it will be as follows (from best to worst): highly recommended, recommended, not recommended, strongly not recommended. That should be precise enough to express my opinion without reducing things to a potentially meaningless numerical breakdown. Yup.

This is the Song that Doesn't End
A while back, a good friend of mine introduced me to a video that his son had come to be a rather large fan of. Not that long ago, I showed it to my own son, and now Eddie is constantly requesting to sit at the computer and watch it. (The only thing he requests more frequently is, at least currently, Finding Nemo. See Melanie's post about that.) I tracked down the video on YouTube (not the video's official home) so I can now share it with you. It cuts off a second earlier than it should, but I don't think that will prevent it from getting stuck in your head almost indefinitely. Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Really Milli Vanilli?

So, if Milli Vanilli didn't really sing their own songs, explain this video, which clearly shows the duo belting out one of their greatest hits! Was the Milli Vanilli conspiracy a conspiracy of its own?!? Although, I must admit, for being two guys, I don't really hear more than one voice most of the time. That's kind of odd. I'm also surprised to see how much one of these guys (the more vanilli of the two) resembles Mary Kate or Ashley Olsen (take your pick--about the Olsen's, not the Milli's). Am I wrong?

Wax nostalgic and enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Headphone Hideaway

The following was written yesterday during my office hours. I didn’t quite have time to post it before I had to leave for a class. When I went outside, it was snowing. I decided to post a blog about that yesterday, so now I’m presenting this one today. Not that any of that matters…

This semester, I am trying something new. I am keeping a pair of headphones in my backpack, so that whenever I’m in the philosophy department computer lab—primarily during my office hours—I can plug into a PC and listen to whatever CDs I have on hand or, more often, Yahoo! Music. It’s only the second week of the semester, but I’ve really enjoyed doing this. In semesters past, office hours seemed to drag on. The quiet of the computer lab was almost distracting to me. But now, with a pair of headphones incessantly expectorating tunes into my auditory canals, office hours have gone from taxing to relaxing. I’ve been surprised at just how quickly the office hours have passed. Granted this is only the second week, but the difference has been amazing. Hence, the following ode to headphones.

Headphones don’t just prevent others from listening to (or, more accurately, having to listen to) whatever you’re listening to, they block out almost anything other than your immediate sensory experience and whatever accompanying mental narration you care to provide (which needn’t be much). It’s a very freeing feeling. Mental moseying becomes unimpeded. The general public, which so often stomps through your mind whether you want it to or not, is suddenly denied entry.* At the very least, anyone wanting access must first stop and knock, and it is you who ultimately decides whether or not to unlock the door and let them in. You’ve closed up shop. Visiting hours are over. You’re alone. Don’t believe it? Think of how strikingly less alone you feel when you’re behind the closed door of a public restroom stall, completely out of view, with just one stranger standing outside your door at the wash basin, versus being on a crowded train, smashed up against several people you’ve never even made eye contact with, but with a pair of headphones on. That’s what I thought.

Headphones place a transparent, polyphonic pane between you and other people. Even if someone manages to catch your eye, there is little they can do other than wave at you through an invisible weave of quarter notes and minor seventh chords. This is the magic of headphones. True, they have other benefits, benefits more strictly connected with the experience of the music itself. (Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is an entirely different song when listened to through headphones; I also have fond memories of the first time I heard Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun,” in a tent, in the dark, on headphones—but not on acid, for the record. Still, a very surreal experience. There are certainly other headphone moments worth mentioning, but my point has been made.) It’s been so long since I’ve listened to music through headphones that I had forgotten how pleasant and refreshing an experience it can be. Up until this past week, I’ve never cared that I’ve yet to join the iPod revolution. Now I’m starting to rethink things. It’s only 9½ months until my birthday – take note.

*The general belief is that minds are private, but who are we kidding? Even if much of our mind remains off-limits to the masses, anyone can access the lobby. Indeed, insofar as human beings come into contact with each other at all, we necessarily pass through the lobbies of each other’s minds. We get annoyed at the person on the bus who talks too loudly on their cell phone because, as far as we’re concerned, they’re blathering at a volume inappropriate for the classiness we try to maintain in our own mental establishment. It’s like someone waltzing through a 5-star hotel lobby in cut-off shorts and a wifebeater. But such is life. Everybody crosses through everybody else’s lobby. Sometimes you hardly take notice of it, and sometimes they don’t even notice it. Other times, someone genuinely seems to appreciate the décor, and we’re flattered by it. Sometimes people are just downright ignorant of the dirt and muck they leave behind as they tromp through, oblivious that they have even come into your building. For them, you’re simply another room to pass through on the way to their final destination. They don’t care how nice your lobby is or how much they scuff the floor. Is it any wonder we sometimes need to lock the doors and do some mental polishing?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snowing in Georgia!

That’s right! It’s snowing here. And it’s a decent amount of snow at that. We’ll see if it sticks—probably not, from what I’ve heard. But this is the first time I’ve seen it snow here, so I thought I’d pass on the news…

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Postcards from the Edj

By now, our holiday trip to Utah is over and done. I am back in school, and all too easily it is beginning to feel like I never had a break in the first place. Luckily, I’ve got some photographic mementos to prove that Edison, Melanie, and I did enjoy a full two weeks with our native families. Given that Edison is arguably the cutest of us all, I will now present to you a collection of pics from Eddie’s first interactive dealings with the winter wonderland (at least compared to Georgia) that is Utah.

Easily one of Melanie and my favorite pics from the trip. (Melanie included it on her latest post as well.) This picture of Edison happily sinking up to his waist in snow is now the wallpaper on our computer desktop. Feel free to do the same with it. It works great!

Not a winter scene per se, but Eddie did make great use out of both of his grandmother’s pianos. I don’t know if my readers will be able to tell, but Eddie plays rather intensely. He scrunches up his face in a huge smile and slams the keys hard and fast. You can kind of see that in this picture.

Edison greatly enjoyed helping create a gingerbread house. He also enjoyed eating as much of the decorative frosting as he could, as evidenced by the white specks adorning his face and shirt.

To earn our keep at Melanie’s parents’ house, we had to make Eddie do most of the snow shoveling. Unfortunately, it snowed enough to make this a difficult task. In this picture, Eddie lifts up his ever-drooping hat to see how much work is left to be done—sadly, it’s a lot.

Another of Melanie and my favorites (and another one that Melanie also has on her blog). Though he had already experienced light snowfalls by this point in the trip, this was the first time Eddie was outside while it was snowing hard enough that you couldn’t ignore it. He loved it.

Edison is still young enough that he didn’t really differentiate between his Christmas gifts and everybody else’s. Fortunately, he’s also young enough that he isn’t greedy about anything. Here on Christmas Day, Eddie enjoys one of his cousin’s gifts, a perfect combination of two of Edison’s favorite things—chairs and balls.

Because I’m still in a walking boot, I’m technically not supposed to drive. That means that, whenever Melanie wasn’t available, I had to make Edison drive me to my various destinations. This was especially scary, not only because of the harsh, snowy conditions, but because Edison is too short to check the side-view mirrors without completely letting go of the steering wheel. Freaky!

Okay, I already posted a piano picture. But this one is equally cute, and it seems like a good finale. So there.