Sunday, November 24, 2013

School, Snot, Sex, Cinema, Etc., Etc., Etc.

Thanks to Thanksgiving, I’m now enjoying a good, long 9-day weekend. I canceled tomorrow’s class, and the school is closed Wednesday through Friday for the holiday, so that puts me back to school on Monday, December 2nd. Pretty nice. Even crazier, I’ve already given my final lecture of the semester. Of the three remaining class sessions, two are going to be review days, and one is going to be an exam. On review days, I just take questions and go over homework, so there isn’t really any prepping to be done. On exam days, I just stand there and stare. So, aside from grading, I’m done for the semester. Cheers!

I don’t know precisely what I’ll be doing next semester. I won’t be teaching, which means I’ll once again be a TA. That’s kind of a bummer—mainly because it has the potential to be a gigantic bummer if my TA assignment is something awful. I won’t know until the last minute what my TA assignment is going to be, so here’s to hope. There is a class on the philosophy of sex being taught next semester, which I would find very interesting. It’s a topic I’ve thought about researching on my own. (There’s probably a joke to be made here, but I’ll leave it up to the reader.) If I don’t get that, the only other choices I marked as highly preferred (which doesn’t guarantee anything) are critical thinking and logic classes. Those are in line with what I’m already teaching this semester, which would be nice, plus they aren’t likely to require the students to write essays, which will make grading much easier. Grading a crap load of essays is such a drain. At the moment, it sounds truly awful.

To briefly catch up on other things, the collective health of my family has gone downhill since I last wrote. Nobody’s in a terrible state, but I thought we were improving, so I find the downturn disappointing. Throats are sore, a couple of kids had fevers for a day, the stuffy noses persist. Melanie and I had to cancel our date for Friday night, which was sad. We had tickets to Catching Fire and even had a babysitter already lined up, but Friday was a low point for the kiddos, so we canceled everything. Via telephone, the movie theater assured me we can trade our unused tickets for another showing, and the babysitter said she could help us out on Tuesday night if we are feeling better. So, hopefully Tuesday will be our date night. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fair Weather Fun

It’s that time of year. Temperatures have dropped … slightly. We’re still getting into the 80s here and there, but mostly we stick between mid-60s and lower 70s. Not too shabby. People are getting sick. Yay. For a few weeks now, one or more of my children have been hacking quite a bit, or dabbing at their noses, or for one brief spell, puking. Despite all of that, we’ve also been having a lot of fun. On Veteran’s Day, we went as a family to see Despicable Me 2, which we very much enjoyed. Illness kept us away from church for a couple of Sundays. On one of those Sundays, we went on a nice long drive, which I haven’t done in quite a while. That was nice and made our Sunday feel more like a day of rest than it does when we go to church, no doubt about that. Within the last couple of weeks, Peter has started taking an arts and crafts class that is just for the holiday season. He was excited about the class and said he wanted to do it, which marks one of the first times he’s pushed for something he didn’t expect Edison to be a part of. I’m glad to see Peter branching out on his own. He’s an adorable kid, inside and out.

A highlight from the last couple of weeks would have to be our trip to the North Florida Fair. We’ve gone to the fair pretty much every year here in Tallahassee, but this year was a rather different experience. Peter has been very reluctant to try things in years past. Two years ago, I wrote about the trauma Peter experienced at the fair. Since that time, he hasn’t dared go on any rides other than carousels and Ferris wheels. (This has made our numerous visits to Wild Adventures somewhat pointless for him.) But this year Peter was eager to branch out. He went on a ton of stuff, including – believe it or not – a kiddie roller coaster! And Creegan, being our most spirited child, went along with everything his brothers did, including the roller coaster! Creegan even burst into tears when he wasn’t tall enough to go on something with Peter. I loved that everyone in the family was involved with doing things, rather than having Melanie and me take turns going on things with Eddie while the rest of the family waits. That’s kind of what it’s been in years past. We’ve always had fun, but this was really awesome in comparison.

Here are two of the very few photos I got at the fair. Our camera battery was on the verge of death, which we didn’t realize until we got to the fair and started taking pictures. It died on us after a few shots. What a crapper.

We had planned to leave the fair by 8 p.m., but that didn’t happen. We didn’t really get out of there until about 9:20 p.m., which is after we cut things short and denied Eddie and Peter the opportunity to go on more rides. Creegan fell asleep almost as soon as he was put into his car seat. Meanwhile, the rest of us were quite hungry. We had splurged and eaten a red velvet funnel cake at the fair, but now we wanted dinner. Edison remembered that we had stopped at Little Caesar’s on our way home from the fair last year, so he wanted to do that again. (He’s very into tradition and knowing what to expect.) We happily agreed. Melanie and I decided we’d stop and get the kids a cheapo pizza, and she and I would order some Chinese food from a restaurant that is practically across the street from our apartment. (They have the best Chinese food we’ve discovered outside of Utah, and it might be my very favorite of anywhere at this point.) Things then got a little bit crazy. I called the Chinese restaurant; they answered and told me that they had closed about ten minutes earlier but that they would cook me a meal nonetheless. I found that incredibly generous of them. A few moments later, I pulled up to Little Caesar’s only to discover that they had closed at 9 p.m. It seems Tuesday night was not made for late meals. The boys were devastated at the thought of missing out on the cheese pizza they had been promised, and so I quickly called Pizza Hut and put in an order for takeout. The pizza would be ready in 15 minutes, but the Chinese food would be ready in about 10. I didn’t want to keep the folks at the Chinese restaurant waiting, since they were doing me a special favor. But Pizza Hut was officially behind us and we would have to backtrack to it. We decided to press forward to the Chinese restaurant, pick up the Chinese food, and then go back for the pizza. That’s what we did. It worked out quite well in the end. The pizza looked super good, better than usual. Our Chinese food was also exceptionally good that night. I think in both cases, we got piping hot fresh food because we were ordering at such a late hour (for a Tuesday night, anyway). Eddie and Peter stayed up quite late that night, but it was really fun. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Fair thee well. LOLOLOLOLOL!!!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Slogans for Out Back

If you’ve left your house anytime during the last few years, you’re no doubt aware of a certain fashion trend that involves slogans being written across the rear end of women’s clothing. This is particularly common in sweatpants. Among the most frequently encountered slogans are “juicy” and “pink.” Behold Exhibit A:


If you’re a sensitive person like me, you worry that this type of clothing objectifies women, turning them into pieces of meat that are meant to be consumed. Why, the very slogans that appear on these ladies’ derrieres are the words that would be used on a steakhouse menu to whet the appetites of consumers. Recently, the trend has only gotten worse. The sweatpants I have seen lately are appalling. The fashion industry is becoming less and less subtle about its productizing of women. In fact, I did an informal study. I looked at nearly two dozen sweatpants and compared the slogans printed across the buttocks to the dinner menu of my local Outback Steakhouse. Believe it or not, every single slogan found on these sweatpants could be found on the Outback Steakhouse menu. In my anger and disgust, I now want to present my findings to you.

To begin with, it is worth noting that women of all ages are targeted as potential consumers of these sweatpants. Clearly, the messages written across the bottoms are meant to entice men. But designers are indifferent as to what women they objectify. If you are a female, the fashion designers want to turn you into a strip sirloin, a tantalizing dish prepared especially for the masticating male. Thus, they have designed sweatpants that will appeal to the young:

And they have designed sweatpants that will appeal to the old:

Perhaps the casual onlooker will not equate either of the above slogans with food. They are undoubtedly among the tamest. But as we continue through the selection of sweatpants, it becomes more and more obvious that any woman who wears them is to be regarded as a 13 oz. ribeye:

Some slogans are even more outrageous, scarcely concealing the commoditization of women. With this next pair of sweatpants, the message is loud and clear—if you’re a salivating customer with enough money in your wallet, you can get what you want:

“Pink” and “juicy” now seem mild in comparison, don’t they? Well, can I tell you about something that is not mild? It’s the alarm I felt in realizing that, in some cases, fashion designers have gone so far as to quote verbatim the descriptions found on Outback Steakhouse menus regarding the various ways in which steaks can be prepared.

Consider this pair of sweatpants, which contains the exact description of an Outback steak prepared “medium”:

Designers also utilized the description for steaks prepared “well-done”:


In their callous greed, designers have begun to utilize a wider- and wider-range of phrases plucked from the Outback menu. As they do so, the results become more and more perplexing. Consider the next batch of sweatpants. As a male, I admit that each one piqued my curiosity and struck me as highly alluring. And yet, the precise meaning of each slogan becomes increasingly allusive. At some points it is downright baffling. This indicates that fashion designers are seeking to appeal solely to the base and appetitive parts of our nature. They care not one whit for the rational parts of the soul. Take a look:

Even the dessert menu is not off-limits. Whether it’s a description of carrot cake or of Outback’s famous Chocolate Thunder from Down Under®, fashion designers want to take something innocent and pervert it by plastering it across the butts of women everywhere:

This is merely one study, conducted informally, and comparing the menu of just one restaurant to a small sample of sweatpants. I can only imagine what I’d find if I searched out more sweatpants and opened up more menus. Olive Garden, P.F. Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory. It turns my stomach how, after conducting my simple study, merely listing these restaurants’ names is causing my loins to stir. Something must be done about this. If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments. I myself will be thinking about what to do as I go eat lunch. I’m very hungry now, as you can imagine.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Halloween 2013

October was full of lots of Halloween fun. A yearly tradition for us is to visit the Tallahassee Heights United Methodist Church. THUMC hosts an annual October pumpkin patch that is a virtual carnival on Saturdays, complete with bounce houses, pony rides, and concessions. We rarely purchase anything, but we like to go and partake of the fun.

Dinky the Hippopotamus, the sixth member of our family, tagged along with us.

Eddie's a nervous fellow.  You can tell that he's a little uncertain about his balance here.

Our own church hosted the (not always) annual “trunk-or-treat,” a pre-Halloween Saturday morning get-together that features games and “trick or treating” out of the trunks of parked vehicles. Here are some photos from this event:


Peter ("the unknown phantom" on the left), Eddie, Creegan, and Melanie participating in a cupcake walk.

Eddie got a cupcake fairly soon.  Peter, Melanie, and Creegan were stuck in the cupcake walk forever before any of them got a prize.

Hey!  It's a hay ride!  You may recognize the princess as Eddie's and Peter's best friend, who appeared in my last post.

Creegan didn't waste any time getting to his candy.  He plopped right down in an empty parking space and got to work.

We also had some fun activities at home. The boys were excited to decorate. There is a popular Halloween street in Tallahassee where many of the residents really go to town with their Halloween decorations. After seeing that, Eddie and Peter were inspired to design scary signs to put up on our apartment door. Take a look:

Click this photo to see an enlarged version thereof.

On Halloween Eve, the boys carved pumpkins. Although Mom and Dad helped with the carving, each pumpkin was entirely designed by its owner. Check it out:

This is a good Halloween photo because Eddie looks slightly psychotic here.

From left to right: Eddie's pumpkin, Creegan's pumpkin, and Peter's pumpkin.  I couldn't tell as I snapped this photo that a bag was slightly in front of Eddie's pumpkin, obscuring its mouth somewhat.

And then there was Halloween itself. We didn’t get many pictures, and we got none of me in my costume. That’s a shame because I was HILARIOUS!!! Well, I liked my costume anyway. It was a last-minute idea and actually a spin-off of an idea that Melanie had, so I can’t take much credit. I simply taped a white sheet of paper to my chest on which was printed: #halloweencostume.  It was particularly popular among the younger folk.

Reminder: that's Peter in the burqa.  Er, I mean the "unknown phantom" costume.

Melanie as a gypsy, or whatever the politically correct word is for those nomadic people that travel in caravans and cast spells on you.  Peter took this photo.

This is the group with whom we went trick-or-treating.  Eddie's pumpkin face is almost smack dab in the middle, with Peter just in front of him in black.  Creegan's running over to be in the photo at the left.  I'm in the back left corner.  Melanie's next to me, but you can't see her at all.  I'm permanently borrowing this photo from the friend who took it.

There ya go!