Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's a Madhouse

Madhouse, a British apparel company has apparently been putting more than just "vintage wear" into their jeans (read: trousers). Emma Barnett, a British journalist and popular blogger, was outraged when she went to wash her boyfriends pants and noticed an incendiary and misogynistic label below the care instructions for washing and drying. The label reads verbatim: "Or give it to your woman it's her job."

The company hasn't responded to public outcry yet and strangely hasn't issued a statement regarding the matter which begs a few questions: did they know the label was there or was it a rogue or former employee who placed it there?; did they think that no one would see the label and that they would get away with it?; or did they actually think that the label was just a bad joke that people would gloss over, or even show their friends, and this would allow the company to use their sexist remarks as a marketing tool?

The gauge on the internet shows a lot of anger and resentment toward this once-popular company, but searches on the company and the company's clothing are now being snatched up in droves.

Clever marketing tool or deplorable sexist comments?

Revised to show that CNN has now picked up the story and a link to it has been posted below; no new pictures to add besides the one tweeted. Are there more out there?

Cubicle Modifications has come out with a list of 40 hilarious alternatives to the mundane cubicle; some are pranks, some are designs, and some, like Google's, are definitely inspirational to workers. So for your weekly antidote to office ennui here's the link to the article:

9 Unique Places to Visit in the World

Looking across the web today I've found that several blogs and sites of interest have begun posting in regards to the same story from The World Geography in regards to 9 of the world's most Unique and Unusual Travel Destinations. It was picked up by, among others, CNN and the Presurfer.

Some seem interesting, others breathtaking, but the one that is the most intriguing is definitely the Ice Hotels, which, though they are only open for certain times during the year for obvious reasons, offer the longest among of "awe" out of most of the options. Others are short-lived

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rush to get him off the air

Rush Limbaugh’s grotesque pandering to the under-educated, misogynistic and gullible must be stopped.

Recently Rush went on a rampage condemning Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke (FLUK) for testifying on the need for government-sponsored birth control. While the request seems simple, and is, at times, a necessity for many women across the country, Rush went on the offensive, declaring that any female who needs birth control this badly and “cannot afford her own” must be having “so much sex” that she doesn’t have the time for anything else. And while this doesn’t equate in the minds of most Americans, in Mr. Limbaugh’s, it sure does.

Let’s begin with the facts: birth control pills don’t come in a per-use collection by which those who are most promiscuous or insatiable are running up a steep pill tab; they are instead preventative and, in most cases, beneficial to those women who need a regulatory system in place to alleviate the unpredictability and discomfort that greets them one per month. Furthermore, Ms. Fluke was the only female to testify as part of an all-male panel discussing the need for government sponsorship of birth control and other contraceptives in healthcare mandates; this makes her more credible than anyone else there to at least 50% of the population. Rush’ demographic (overweight, white, male, wealthy) was well-represented, so of course, this being America, there needed to be another voice to resoundingly echo the vitriol with which Ms. Fluke was encountered.

But wait, she wasn’t. In fact, most members of congress not only listened intently to her testimony, but nodded their heads in approval as she delivered her testimony. There was no vituperative language hurled from congressional members, nor were there outcries from conservatives who deem birth control a “sin.” There was, at worst, quiet disagreement. So what, this blogger asks, is Mr. Limbaugh trying to accomplish? Does he really believe that he is the voice of a marginalized population of angry anti-birth control advocates bent on destroying the reputations of any women who opposes them? Or is he simply an uber-misogynistic sociopath who has the ability to slander and libel to any extent he wishes and then can retract any portion of his statements at any later date with little to no repercussion? If it is the latter then I beg of you, he must be taken down.

Not since Don Imus’ notorious “nappy-headed ho’s” comment in reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team, has there been such an outrage over a radio or television personalities opinions. Imus issued a litany of apologies, both general and personal to individual players, completed services as a self-imposed “rehabilitation” which includes public service announcements and appearances free of charge, and was also immediately “removed” from his position. Why doesn’t Rush receive the same treatment? Is he infallible or untouchable? He certainly is no saint or pope nor is he created in the image of God.

My opinion is that since the need to pay for contraceptives are already endorsed by Obamacare, Rush’ insinuations are twice as lethal and twice as unnecessary. When one considers that he is essentially labeling every female currently taking birth control pills, who is benefiting from Obamacare’s mandate, a “slut,” there is no question that his comments are so out of line that there is no logical place for them in either written or spoken form. He is a dictator howling from a shielded radio cubicle trying to incite an angry mob to go overthrow and “kill the monster,” i.e. liberal women on birth control.

I know many women, and even young women, who are not promiscuous and most likely aren’t involved or indulging in these kinds of behaviors. So, is it fair to label them all with a sweeping generalization? Or is it ever morally responsible to broadcast this radical opinion to the masses, many of whom are probably misinformed about birth control pills?

AND Rush went so far as to request that there should be “videos” of the acts created and that they should be “posted online,” so that the American people could, theoretically, see where there money is going. He continued on by insinuating that Ms. Fluke should reveal who “bought her condoms in junior high” and that she has so many gentlemen callers that they are “lining up around the block.”

There is no place for this type of speech, behavior or condemnation in a progressive nation which prides itself on equality and opportunity. He is a cancerous contagion that needs to be eradicated figuratively or literally.

Rush’s point is that the “feminazi’s” are trying to overtake healthcare reform and are clearly trying to be rewarded for having sex. Since there is no truth to this there is therefore no truth to his words, and a man without truth to his words is a liar, a sin declared in the bible and in the moral laws of this country; furthermore, his vitriolic language and sweeping generalizations which don’t ever deserve the negative label of “stereotypes,” have already infected the ears of every listener both to his program and to any news organization which rebroadcast any portion of his verbal pollution. His pejoratives are intended to inflict moral harm, and while he wields this “moral” saber around, he takes no care to look at who he hits, who he harms and notices not the bridges that he has just sliced down.

Rush should (and I again have no idea why it hasn’t happened yet) find himself alone atop his self-imposed pillar with the world surrounding him, chanting for him to be brought down, dethroned, like an idol of a past dictator, a relic of an evil time long ago, and he should find this noose draped over his swelled neck, pulling him down into the bowels of a world he is so quick to condemn and forget he is a part of.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cupcake Dispensing ATM?

Yes, please!

A new ATM in Beverly Hills, California, is offering patrons the opportunity to purchase a freshly baked cupcake at a walk-up ATM, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The idea came from the Sprinkles cupcake and ice cream company nestled in the heart of Beverly Hills.

Sounds both delicious than innovative; I'm just hoping that there's no way any rodents can find their way into that area during the wee hours of the morning when not many people will be interested in cupcakes...

Full article:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You know this looks hilarious...

A Snow Day...WHAT?!

North Attleboro currently looks like a winter wonderland. And by winter wonderland I mean the picturesque ideal winter wonderland in which the trees look like they have been sprayed with a glistening white decorative fluff, the roads are clear and wet, and the yard has been covered by a pristine white carpet.

Not pictured in this imagery are the shovels, snowblowers, plows, salt, sand, etc. that routinely comprise the cliche first morning after a New England snowstorm.

So I'm left begging the question: Why was there a snowday today when not even 30 miles south we don't even even have a half inch of anything outside, including rain.

Don't mistake this rant for complaining about having a much-needed snowday (see previous post about students' personalities and abilities on days that should/could have been snowdays), but as a rant instead bashing this winter for being very wussy. We had a wallop of a winter last year and this is the best this year can muster? I'm afraid of what it means for this spring or this summer.

Are there going to be squalls and small storms continuing into May? Is summer going to be a record-breaking scorcher with frequent storms and deadly lightning, or perhaps even another hurricane this year to make it back-to-back?

Gotye_ Somebody I Used To Know

The fact that he sounds so much like Sting when he goes into his high resister is awesome, but the catchiness of this song and the subtle nuances of the plucked notes and synthesized vibratos, I think, deserves some sort of accolade alone, without the sugar-pop induced popularity the song has attained already.

Stop Reincarnating!

China, in a swift decisive move to echo their totalitarian judgements, has condemned Buddhist monks for believing in and urging others to strive for reincarnation. The government insists that the opportunity to reincarnate is restricted under Chinese governmental law which controls such aspects of daily life such as opposition to popular thought and action as well as questioning approved methodology and ideology.

Now I know this is an extreme example of the lengths the Chinese government goes to in order to control their citizens, but if limiting your citizens' access to Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc. and then telling peaceful monks that they can no longer advocate reincarnation as a possibility without it being a government approved "activity," where will it end?

Political pundits like to bash President Obama and his so-called divergence into the territory occupied by the governments of China and Russia; they insinuate our beloved and liberated country will slip into the abyss of theocracy or dictatorship without really understanding the limits to which other governments "tell" their people versus how our government, no matter how liberal, still "listens" to their people.

SOPA had terrible connotations to it, and with that worry came protests, both silent and vocal, and then a nearly unanimous veto of the proposal, all because our citizens stood against something and our government listened. I don't ever think the Chinese government would do that, and I don't think that any "liberal" governmental system, whether in the United States of Europe would ever do this.

I do, however, and this is where we get into the thesis of this post, believe that an extremely conservative or radical governmental entity in the Unites States would be more likely, counter-intuitively to what many GOP party members insist, to regulate for and dictate to their citizens than any liberal party. The GOP has long insisted that any liberal government or movement gone unchecked will lead to socialism, communism and thereby will look like Europe, Russia and, at the extreme, China, right?

Our government seems to be loosening its reigns the more liberal it becomes, which is why I have never subscribed to the argument of the GOP in regards to personal liberties. I write this because whenever a speed bump appears in the road (SOPA, requiring hospitals to offer birth control and/or abortion, ruling for or against a particular religion or ideaology, etc.) there is always a protest which is "heard" or "seen;" this is especially true for those that are broadcast across our television stations, which many assert are STILL controlled by the government!

Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck at a circus and I'm wandering through the mirror funhouse. Beside me are children of varying ages, and together we're looking into these mirrors and seeing the distorted reflections of our own ideologies, reservations and liberties, as well as those discussed in the politics and punditry of this nation. I see us moving slowly back and forth watching the faces contort into new faces of differing colors and genders, or different beliefs and far-reaching goals, and I think about the possibility of such a nation surviving on such a quixotic idea when our foundations rest on a soil that has changed composition since we laid our framework.

Can we all still make the same comparisons and assertions regarding our founding and our future when the variables keep changing? Look into the mirror with me and tell me what you see.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Goggle's New Privacy Settings

It seems that we've been hearing about Google's new settings for quite a long time now, and tomorrow they are set to take effect.

What am I, a lonely sole blogger, to make of all of it?

For starters they sound complicated. To simplify and dilute around 60 privacy settings into a single setting is quite risky and frightening when one considers the possible consequences and unknowns regarding privacy, social interaction, and search key remembrance. I am, however, reading a lot about the lack of change most users will see and feel when they use and reuse Google and it's subsidiaries and products.

And on the positive side, I know many YouTubers would actually be happy if their videos and posts were linked to more videos and were aggregate at an optimal level.

Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be a failure or a dime-a-dozen disappointment like so many other short-lived Internet companies or their poor decisions--like Yahoo's loss of ground to Google over user interfacing and ease of navigation, Groupon and Pandora's quick fade from glory, or Google's Google+ "failure."

The point of my post rests on this thesis: if we, the users, don't like Google's decisions, all we can do is beg and complain for them to revert back because there is no alternative. Think about it: Google has us by a chokehold. We can't defect to a different host, can't abandon Google (after all, Google has moved into our daily lexicon as a synonymous verb for "to search"), and can't change their minds since they have obviously switched to a more streamlined system for multiple reasons, none of which rely upon our immediate satisfaction with their changes.

To Google is to search, but it is also to stare wide-eyed into the Internet, wondering (if there is a problem or a disappointment after their change) if the experience will ever be the same again.

First REAL Snowfall of Winter

Today marks the first "real" snowfall of the year, and accompanying are the ubiquitous "Warzecha, are we gonna have school tomorrow?" Followed by my sincere and certain, "yes, no, maybe, I don't know."

First, I write "real" since our only true storm of this year took place last year, in October, before winter began, and even before the regular temperatures dipped below 60 degrees during the day. Discrediting that storm for its fortuitousness, this winter has been extremely quiet. Too quiet, even eerie. Perhaps even foreboding, which is why this storm doesn't even feel like the whopper that were awaiting.

If we don't have school tomorrow, I can led some credibility to this storm but if, as the forecast predicts, the storm turns into rain and then only a tiny bit more snow tomorrow morning and it only brings with it a delay or nothing at all, then I can't say this winter was even a "winter."

Remember waking up as a child to scan the television for the list of closures, praying you'd see your school? Well, there are times in which teachers do the same thing; we hope for the reprieve from a day of whining and resentful students who only hours before had awoken with the greatest of hopes for a snow day. These days are often the worst since I will most likely find my attendance sheet dwindled, and will be met with pent-up frustration and teenage angst.

And all the while in the back of my mind is the constant thought: is this it?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dunce Helmet

I'm pretty sure this just needs to be classified under ____________ because that's exactly how many good reasons there are to do this...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fairy Tales Are Too Real

That's essentially what parents across the country are beginning to say when it comes to bedtime stories. A new study shows many parents across the country are foregoing the traditional bedtime stories because they believe they are "too real" and therefore "too scary."

The partial list of egregious tales includes Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Disney classics including Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty.

I'm sorry, but when have children become these tiny creatures who should never be exposed to anything remotely out of the comfort zones of the most conservative of parents? Remember your own childhood? The stories, television shows and movies we watched when growing up are nothing in comparison to the types of shows, movies and especially video games out there right now. Is there really any way to justify that Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Brothers are scarier than Call of Duty or Resident Evil? Can a case really be made that Sleeping Beauty is scarier than Twilight? Sure, it's a love story...but it's a love story with a vampire. A vampire. One is a fantastical murderer who destroys lives, families and dreams...the other sleeps for an extended period of time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another Reason To Stay In School

Employment figures out today show that 1.8 million college graduates have found employment within the past 26 months (net), while 128,000 jobs for those who have dropped out of high school have been lost (net) in the past 26 months. Bottom line: Graduate high school and attend college if you want to remain employed in the "new" economy.

Employers will be looking for skilled graduates who have shown an aptitude to succeed in different environments, including graduating from high school, which many have said are "prerequisites" for any potential job prospect. While these sentiments certainly don't reflect the rhetoric and marketability of 40 years ago, it does echo the writing on the wall. Furthermore, the article warns, those already stuck in this position (between 25 and 55) without a high school diploma, GED, or, in many cases, a college degree, will continue to face bleak prospects for years to come. The market for a particular skill without a broad educational foundation, career training, etc. will make many candidates discouraged and force many into unnecessary worry or hardships.

The article does, however, say those who have pursued a GED and have either gone back to school years later for a degree, or have gone to a specialized school (truck driving, mechanic, trade school, etc.) will fare nearly as well as those with a diploma and degree. In some cases, employers are looking for those who later on in life went back to school because it shows they have managed to juggle career, personal life, personal goals and school.

Huffington Post version of the article below:

A Long...February

With the promise of spring only a few weeks away, and with February being the shortest month of the year (despite this year being the dreaded leap year), one would theoretically assume that February would fly by or would offer the kind of respite needed from the arduous months of December and January. But, here I sit in February, shivering, as the cold month ticks slowly by.

In years past hasn't January's ugly step-brother gone by much quicker? I seem to remember it doing so; barely remembering the month had begun by the time my father's birthday rolled around at the end of the month. Maybe it's because I have so many plans for this spring, or because I refuse to spend a fortune on heating oil this year, or more likely, it's because we've had fewer than 9" of snow here since the pre-Halloween storm. For whatever reason, it's becoming quite annoying. I'd even trade this February break from school if we could have returned to school for the beginning of March today instead of the 21st of February.

Anyone else agree?

And more...

And some Black Keys... "Lonely Boy"

Some More New Blues

Gary Clark, Jr. "Bright Lights"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why I Will Never Be As Great At Guitar As I Want To Be


A guy quits his job and tours the world for nearly an entire year, all the while taking time lapse photos that he compiled into this breathtaking video which begs the question, if you were able to do the same thing, where would you go?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Steve Carrell and the End of the World

Looking for a great movie to boost your spirits before the end of the world? Thank God it's not Bruce Almighty 2.

Like the pun there?

You're welcome.

I thought I was smart until I read this...

From The Wall Street Journal...

A researcher, John Sloboda, more than 20 years ago figured out how the specific arrangements of notes in a song, paired with vocal melodies and harmonies between vocal and musical layers, actually creates a physical emotional reaction in a listener. Translation: You can literally play specific notes in a specific order in order to make someone cry. These notes, or their order, are called appoggiatura.

A note that augments a pleasing sound creates enough dissonant sounds (think anything but a perfect 4th or 5th--yes! Music Theory geek!) that it causes a small, subconscious level of distress in a listener. Rescue them with a pleasing crescendo or chorus, reiterate it, and then layer it with staggered timings (basically the same structure of any pop song), and you have successfully played an order of notes that can physically cause tears.


This guy can chop.

So, maybe I am a sucker for historical fiction because this looks awesome...

Now THIS Looks Like Fun

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Perform or Not To Perform

As the drama club director at my high school, I'm in charge of not only coordinating rehearsals and showtimes but I am charged with trying to fit two or three performances into the busy schedules of 30+ high schoolers of varying ages and abilities, some of whom are involved in more extracurricular activities than I can even count.

The most difficult part of this process is choosing the final dates of the show. Though it seems counter-intuitive, a lot of thought goes into the choosing of these dates, beginning with the length of time that it will take to rehearse the show before it will be ready to be performed. Sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast.

It's always different for each show, and it's always different when you have a larger number of actors and actresses and when you have a lot of newer performers who haven't been on the stage before. There's a steep learning curve for some that includes not only stage presence but stage voicing (think about teaching introverted high schoolers how to project from their diaphragm and appear to be 8 weeks).

To add to these difficulties, there must also be a play chosen. Giving the students options for the play they want to perform is always a safe route to go in, but the dangers with this lie in the rushing to figure out several things once they choose a play. The length of time to rehearse is suddenly scrutinized not only for its end date, but for its beginning date. More than 50% of the students who participate in drama club also participate in at least one fall sport. The amount of time that would be "wasted" with rehearsals with too few students or none at all for scenes would exhaust many students, and of course, the director.

The next step in the arduous process is to coordinate with their schedules. Asking for a copy of everyone's prior commitments at the beginning of the first day of rehearsals is a good start, but things always come up, and there are always a dozen or so who will forget really important dates at the beginning, which is what happened to me this year. To add to this, previously scheduled events (some from the previous year and some perennial) and changed event dates plague my would-be calendar nearly every year, but this year they have nearly eradicated it.

After a week or two of hysteria, in which I lost more than a hundred extra hairs, I've arrived at three remaining sets of dates (one of which I believe has just been crossed off by some drama students outside my room who have dance competitions and a sporting event) on which to hold our performances.

While this post does have a negative slant to it, I don't want it to be misconstrued as complaining or searching for commiseration. I'm proud of my students for being involved in so many activities and for having such busy schedules that they barely have time for this portion of their lives. Despite the fact that it's causing me undue stress and craziness, I feel some kind of promise for the future generation knowing that so many are so interested in doing more than sitting at home with a video game controller glued to their palms, and that not all of them will be satiated by a few lazy performances and a couple of sporadic performances. They might not all have the same quixotic hopes that I do for the production and the same optimism that any date I choose will work for everyone, but their dogged involvement in myriad sports and activities is the best worst thing I could hope for in this situation.

When Writing Gets Personal

Nearly every local newspaper in California has created a "Hot for Teacher" headline about a 56-year-old married man who has been ousted from Oakland University after writing a creative essay with sexual undertones, which may or may not be directed at his professor. While he had written essays of the like before, the professor felt that he content was too explicit and was directed at her. Different articles give different ages for the professor, but most agree that she is younger than he is, which provides extra credibility to her case that he "intimidated" her with his writing and that she no longer felt safe having him in her class.

Joe Corlett contends that he has never, nor will ever, have fantasies regarding the professor, though he admits she is an attractive woman. He was simply writing furiously and "fearless"ly, as his wife calls it, and had received good feedback on his previous essays which he says also contained questionable material.

I agree with the teacher in this case. The student-teacher relationship is one that has to have set boundaries, and though at times it can become blurred when extraneous elements come into play (a lot of teachers are also sometimes thrust into the role of counselor and sounding board when familial and friend problems arise), the idea that an essay of questionable nature and intent is written directly to a teacher is disconcerting, especially if it's a male writing to a female.

I am also happy, as many bloggers and commentators have also stated, that this story hasn't been spun somehow, insinuating that the teacher gave an inappropriate prompt, requested the type of writing that was produced, or had led Mr. Corlett on. One commentator in particular had the following to say, which, as clever as it is, rings pretty true, "Finally, a good teacher in a bad situation isn't vilified."

Full local article here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So...A Guy Walks Into A Bar...

And is holding a gun...

And everyone ignores him.

Then chase him down.

And chat afterward that they were disappointed they had their night interrupted by chasing down the gunslinger.



Go ahead and attempt an Ace Ventura impression...


Imagine Grandma Doing This....

And you thought you knew what awesome was...

Not until you've seen professional biker Mikael Dupont attempt (and mostly succeed) in performing some BMX-style tricks using a circa 1940s women's bike.

Added bonus: He welds a support bar onto the frame to keep the bike from bending in half...a second time.

Yo, Dat's Cra-Z, broski.

In what comes as no surprise to any of us educators, a school in England has banned its students from using any slang whatsoever while on school grounds, including on all assignments; their reasoning being that students in the mostly working class town will be better equipped and prepared for employment if they distance themselves from the type of language that is often associated with a lack of education and lackadaisical attitudes. So far, they aren't sure what the backlash and reception will be like, but I know if it were to occur in this area it would be met with high expectations but with little tangible result or change.

I would love to enforce this rule in my own school; I can definitely see the benefits to it, and I'm already seeing a lot of it manifest in negative ways in my students' papers. There's a serious problem when critiques of "ppl" instead of "people" and "wat" instead of "what" are met with a lot of resistance because it seems "just fine" and "you knew what I meant."

Read the full story here:

Ripped from the Daily What:

Whitney Houston

Yesterday, on his audioblog, Charles, a local DJ on 94.1 WHJY, expressed concern over the mass hysteria surrounding the death of Whitney Houston. While I at first vehemently disagreed with his statements and his opinions, during the course of his argument he became extremely convincing.

His thesis: People never cared about Whitney Houston until she died.

Seems harsh, right? Well, his reasoning is somewhat sound. Whitney Houston was one of the golden divas of the late 1980s and early 1990s; people bought her records en masse and celebrated her amazing performances and strong resonant voice, insinuating she would rise to the acclaim of all the great divas before her--Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin--and would achieve long-lived fandom when most others fizzled out rather quickly. Her career seemed pristine and enviable, until her life began spiraling out of control because of her marriage to Bobby Brown and the controversy that surrounded the two of them and their cavalier drug use and abuse. Then came the realizations that there was physical abuse in their relationship; there were questions as to whether their daughter would be taken away, and whether her career could be resurrected.

She was vilified in the media, pilloried for scorn and negative example.

She then seemed to fade away into static and oblivion.

Then came a reality show which she begrudgingly agreed to be on, which was followed by even more scrutiny and negativity. Her life spiraled further into tabloid fodder, her marriage fell apart and her appearances on television or other programming were heralded with anything but positivity.

Insert a few years of obscurity and mediocrity and you arrive at the present, wherein she is being celebrated as one of the greatest voices of her generation, as a true diva, and as the definition of beauty, talent and role model.

As Charles pointed out, something doesn't add up here; people are more concerned about her postmortem than they were even 10 years ago. Her divorce wouldn't have made front page news, a comeback tour would have been shuddered quickly, and anything other than the aforementioned would have been ignored almost entirely.

Are we, as a culture, so quick to grasp onto only the good in a person, or are we too quick to judge and condemn someone for even the smallest of failings. Are we too critical, analytical and quick to judge? Or are we genuinely concerned and saddened by her passing.

As Charles put it, "I can't be saddened by the death of someone I never met and know little about." While I agree, I don't entirely. I do feel some empathy, especially for her family and friends, and perhaps for the music community, knowing they lost someone so impacting.

I think the true test will lie in whether she is as greatly remembered in two months or even a year from now as she is today.

Time Travel, Kind of...

As if I hadn't published enough oddities lately, here's another piece of history to tickle your "no way" nerves:

Highlight: The fact that a 81-year-old civil war veteran married a 21-year-old girl right before his death.

Check This Out

The link below is to 11 daredevil accomplishments that seem improbable or even impossible. Some of these were even new to me...

A timelapse video of the Milky Way Galaxy, as seen from central South Dakota

It's Snowing Like...


What the hell?!

Last winter the northeast saw the 9th largest snowfall amount on record; it seemed every day we were shovelin' (insert repetitive syncopated pop beat here). This year we're in a snow drought. At my home, we've shoveled twice and I pulled out the snowblower once, just to say I used it this year, though a paltry 4" of fluffy snow is hardly what I would consider the backbreaking labor of bygone winters. AND it was 50 degrees the next two days following the snowfall. Talk about anticlimactic.

Is this a byproduct of global warming, or of some cyclical trend in nature that we naive humans have yet to understand? Does that mean this summer is going to be a scorcher? Or that it will be even milder? Maybe we'll get deluged with a straight week or rain...

I'm not praying for anything one way or another, I just miss the seasons when one knew what to expect: hot, dry summer days, winters full of snow and cold, an autumn and a spring in which temperatures were actually around 55 degrees every day (and not either 38 or 75).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hacksaw Jim Duggan and my wrestling debut

You can call me The War-lord.

Waiting for effect with dramatic pause (read: line break). Nothing? Bueller?

Oh well.

This past Friday I got the opportunity to participate in a live action wrestling event when Big Time Wrestling came to my high school. As part of their stage show, their performers tried to hype our smallish audience with the type of banter that incites frustration from the younger kids who still want the "good guys" to win, and palpitations and mini-strokes from the faculty who must deal with the fallout from the curses and racial epithets blurted out by the cavalier superstars. The company ransacked their repertoire in search of the most creative matches they could muster for the tiny town of Northbridge. We received two tag team matches and a dog collar match. :/

I, however, was undeterred by the lack of creativity as it pertained to the matches, but was engrossed with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, a superstar from my childhood who stood larger than life in the ring, inciting cheers and the kind of mild hysteria you can only get from a wrestler 20 years past their prime.

I also got to participate in one of the matches: the dog collar match. The heel, Mister TA, and his manager, John Cena, Sr., came down to the ring and began to unfairly attack and gain advantage over The Hillbilly, Cousin Larry. At this point, becoming clearly frustrated, Larry declares he needed assistance from the likes of Jeff, a local "hero" whom he had met earlier that day at the local restaurant, Brian's.

While I wait for my royalties from Brian's for the free advertising I'll relay the remainder of the story.

I came down to the ring, pretended to become involved as much as possible, and ended up orchestrated (ahead of time of course) a win for the Hillbilly and clear vindication for the crowd who had just moments earlier seemed so upset about his impending loss.

Truth be told, the audience was actually more excited to see me by the stage than to see the match, and although I didn't do anything particularly special or warranting of applause, instill receive requests for autographs from several children. Ok, I said to them, I'll sign this for you, but I'd you stay in school you can have plenty of autographs from me all over your papers.

It was an awesome experience, and somewhat of a dream come true, although muted and on a much smaller scale obviously. I would do it again in a heartbeat, though, and it was great to meet one of my childhood heroes. The classes made a lot of money and overall I think everyone had a great time, even if some of them were upset by the fact that there weren't more big names in attendance.

As for my stardom, I think I'll stick to teaching and writing; I don't know d the world is ready for the War-Lors just yet.

But you never know.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Cities in the World to Live?

CNBC put up another round of their "Best Places to Live" in the world, with a little help from several consulting firms and other magazines.

A link to the article is above. And what's not surprising about it? Not a single city from the United States made it to the list, while Canada came in with three cities and Europe (despite being vilified in the news) had almost all the remaining cities. They were awarded such prestige because they actually, in every category, rated higher than any American city in terms of pay, ease, employment, happiness, etc.

Maybe we SHOULD be trying to be a bit more like Europe. What do you think?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Long Hiatus

After graduating with my MFA (woo!), I've decided it's time to begin getting serious about, what else, writing!

With that being said, I think this blog will become the most sporadic and most personal and reflective of a collection of blogs-to-come. So I suppose the whole four month lull may become a norm.

One of the treats of graduation weekend is that a distinguished panel of writers, editors and publishers moseys onto campus to answer our pressing questions regarding post-MFA opportunities and, inevitably, what can we do to make money since we're so far into debt now?

The answer was resoundingly: blogging. (With some online copy, social media commentary, etc. mixed in) The stipulation, however, was that only 1% of the people in the room (meaning 1.21 people) would be able to successfully manufacture a living solely off of blogging, while an equally small percentage would find it possible to supplement their incomes with blogging and the infrequent freelance job. The bottom line: be excellent or find a real job.

I've decided to do both, not because of my head-to-the-wind blind stupidity but because of the open challenge of the idea. Blogging is free, essentially. It only "costs" time, of which I now have a "copious" (if it ever can be) amount of every evening sans my hours of Master's work and my streamlining of previous lessons and foresight into future lessons. So I've decided to break up into at least three separate blogs all of which I hope to monetize in the future and at least link to a growing writing portfolio.

Look for updates.