Monday, December 24, 2007

The Turning Point

I have a few ideas for blogs in the pipeline so those of you still reading have that to look forward to.

But how about a traumatizing story from my childhood in light of the holiday season?

The other day I realized just when I lost my chance to be cool as a child. In sixth grade I sat in the back of the bus. There were three of us who sat back there, Dean, Robbie, and myself. And those of you who rode buses to school understand the importance of the back seat. For those of you who don't, the back seat was reserved for the coolest kids on your bus route. Nobody messed with them, nobody bullied them. It was the top of the pecking order and those below you had to move up if they tried to take your place. All this despite transferring to my grade school from Catholic school and being a relative nerd (I was in my schools enrichment program for example). I had managed to work my way to the back. I can't recall even particularly liking Robbie and Dean.

Our next door neighbors at that time had two children, Jeff and Michelle. Jeff was three years younger than me. Michelle was about two years older. Jeff and I had been friends but the age difference was becoming pronounced. One day while walking home from the bus, Jeff started making fun of my younger sister who was the same age as Jeff. Now to be honest, I often participated in this activity. I'm her older brother, not a saint.

But today it was really hurting her feelings and something familial stirred in me. I told him to stop. He didn't. So I hit him in the arm. Yet he kept it up. So I punched him in the stomach. Not surprisingly he stopped. And I realized what I had done, basically beat up a little kid. So I did the only thing a big brother does when he has heroically stood up for his little sister. I ran home and started crying to my mother.

Guess who she was sitting around having coffee with. Yep, Jeff's mom. I have no idea what affect this had on their relationship but at least I was crying about it, not bragging. I don't recall being punished by adults over this. My sister was quick to confirm that Jeff had been rather mean to her and all. But the real impact on me was yet to come. Remember what I said about Jeff having an older sister? Well, by this point she was a burner in training. And Robbie and Dean were burner hopefuls. It wasn't long before word was out among the burner grapevine that I was to be shunned by them. And if the burners reject you and you aren't sporty or rich enough, it isn't long before the "cool" kids reject you as well. And that was it, my fate was sealed. No more back of the bus. No more in crowd. Heck, younger kids started realizing my new status in the pecking order and even some of them started hassling me. Especially the ones bigger than me.

Jeff, Michelle, and their family moved away not too long after the punching incident. But the damage would follow me for years. Eventually I managed to get ignored most of the time. I found social circles of similar damaged goods. And the bus became a place to nap if I wasn't stuck sitting in front of someone who might try to hassle or bully me. My senior year I had a car, though I drove to school alone. And by that time I found punk rock and freaked out the cliques by not caring that I wasn't in a clique. And escaping to college. Ahh, college. Maybe that's part of the reason I became a professor. My life was reborn there.

Not surprisingly I haven't made it to any of my high school reunions. Class of 1988 Moon Senior High. Let's see if they somehow track me down through this.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dear student:

Sometimes I want to respond to an email and not be diplomatic:

"Dear complaining student,

I realize you were not paying attention when I explained this assignment. Or when I re-explained it. Or when I suggested to the class for the 20th time that if they didn't understand to come to my office hours and I would try to help. With that in mind, the last week of class is probably too late to ask me what you can do to improve your grade. Or if I give extra credit. When you get your first job ask your boss if she gives extra credit. Or your loan officer.

I'm also already aware that you have 7 other finals all due on the same day. And that you work three jobs. Find me a student who doesn't. What you fail to realize is that pretty much every one of your teachers went through the same thing. I worked and put myself through school at the same time. And I'm not so impressed when you complain about having five days to do a take home exam with 4 questions on it. During my PhD I once wrote 36 pages in 72 hours. I also wrote a six chapter dissertation of over 200 pages in six months while starting a new full time tenure track job. (Yes, I'm bragging there a little).

Any professor who decides things are too tough for you because you can't do the same work every other student has to do isn't doing you any favors.

And another thing, I don't grade anybody harsher because I hate them. I don't know any of my students well enough to hate them. Sure, there are a lot that don't make a good impression on me. Perhaps I even dislike them. But I grade on performance, not personality."

Man, did that feel good to write. Sometimes I really wonder why a student thinks their rhetorical approach of insulting or whining is going to work. Did it work on a different professor? I can't believe it did but then again I've also heard some bizarre stories over the years.

I have had times where I didn't perform to my full ability or turned something in late or had a teacher that really sucked. But you know what? I still took responsibility for my actions. Sure, that graduate student had no business teaching Comp Sci 101 but I shouldn't have blown off so many classes or slept so much when I did go. So it was my fault I failed. Actually, I never should have taken the class in the first place but again, my fault for not doing the research about the class or not dropping when I could have. Not crazy graduate student instructor who got mad when I asked for help.

How about you? You ever get a bad grade that wasn't your fault? Not even a little?

Just don't try to tell me you have a 4.0 except that now you're getting a D in my class. We can look that sort of thing up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Guitar Hero

That is why I'm not posting more. Guitar Hero. If you play it, you know the joy it brings.

If you don't, well, what are you waiting for? It is awesome and terrible in its power to addict and enslave. Don't say I didn't warn you. I taught my department head how to play last week. I'll be taking my system in for the last day of lecture in my class on video gaming and she's asked to "observe" the class that day. I'm pretty sure I could talk her into getting it so we can have it around our offices. For research purposes of course.

At this point I'm starting to almost get comfortable with medium difficulty. But I'm still not ready to attempt to tackle hard. Soon hopefully, but not yet. I also really wish Wife would play but she's a little intimidated by it. She's from the Genesis/ Super Nintendo era of controllers. Anything more than three buttons starts to overwhelm her a little. I wish it wasn't so because I'd like to share this with her, but such is life. She is willing to hang out with me and read while I play, something she doesn't do with a lot of other games.

By the way, if you didn't pick up on it in the second paragraph, yes I get paid to talk about and play video games. My job is cool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


An unnamed fast food company (known as "royalty" among ground beef grillers) screwed up Wife's sandwich last night. They included pickles and american cheese and made it a junior sized version of their regular sized hamburger sammich.

So on the plus side it meant I had lunch for today already made for me. After eating it I realized it had an abundance of mayonnaise. It was only then that Wife reminded me of my predictions.

Could the Prophecy be fulfilled? Is this the end of days? Will the world worship me even as it fears me?

Now that would be cool.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Sorry about the length between posts. I have a bunch of topics, so the next few days should be a whirlwind comparatively. I hope folks are still checking in.

So, to follow up on the next great disaster post, if you guessed a neighborhood semi-feral cat would use one of our scooters as a springboard to jump a fence and in the process rip great holes in one of our 40+ dollar scooter covers, you'd be right. Our neighborhood has a large number of wandering cats. They're semi-domesticated, some more than others. And a large number of them like to hang out in our backyard and sleep under our car. And under our apartment. And walk on our car and leave footprints.

I realize that cats are a common critter in many parts of our country. But down here there are few rivals or predators. No rats big enough to fight back for example. And no winter cold snap to send them for cover. Or kill them or whatever. And little enough traffic so that's not a threat either. So they lounge around our yard. And crap in it from time to time.

This isn't the first time I've had a less than happy interaction with neighborhood cats either. Back a few years I lived in a townhouse. We were in the middle one of a row of five. And there was a space underneath that was about 2 feet deep that ran the entire length of the row. So a feral cat chose to have her liter of kittens down there. My roommate at the time decided we needed to save them. Or adopt one at least. So I stupidly climbed under the townhouse and spent a half an hour sweating underneath, trying not to bang my head and trying to corner one of them even though they were much quicker and more agile than I was. I finally gave up. Twenty minutes later they were on the back porch and I managed to throw a towel over one and scoop it up. I am well aware of how stupid this is, thank you. Not surprisingly it came out angry and defensive, all claws and hissing and teeth. And that tiny, tiny little bastard wiggled free and clamped down on my thumb hard enough to bite through the nail.

I had to physically shake it off cause it did not want to let go. Amazingly enough, it didn't draw blood due to the angle of the bite even though it was near the bed. That was some comfort but let me tell you if you've never had an animal bite through your thumb nail, it really hurts.

Don't get me wrong, I like cats. We have one of our own after all. But I also don't try so hard to keep the dog from chasing them away any more. Hey, I don't see the one who ripped up my cover coming forward to apologize or chip in to help replace it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

When it rains, it punches you in the mouth

I think that's how that cliche goes. Something like that.

At least that's the way it feels around the old homestead right now. Wife has broken leg. We had to take her for more check ups today. The Ultrasound revealed she didn't have a blood clot. Just pain. So that's sort of good. Except she's still uncomfortable. And we have a CT scheduled for next week to find out if she needs surgery.

On the way there we learned the noise I was suspicious the car was making is in fact some sort of rubbing/grinding coming from the transmission or drive train or something. Something expensive I'm sure. Something I can't afford to fix on a car I was hoping to pay down for another six months so we can get close to value on a trade in. At this point with this noise and the banged in door from a hit and run I'm going to have to eat around three thousand bucks that will get folded in to the value of whatever I trade it in on.

And Wife's scooter is having trouble. Hopefully that will only be a few hundred bucks to fix. Plus my PDA isn't really working in any truly useful way. And my digital camera broke. While my parents were visiting. I have next to no pictures from their trip. My scooter may be leaking oil. And all of this means no money to repair my vintage motorcycle.

Part of me is wondering what else will be dished out. So I'm predicting the next disaster:

-Cobra in my underwear drawer
-Visigoth attack
-Religious cult decides I am the evil one they are required to stop but only by mayonnaise based methods
-People magazine singles me out as one of America's least sexy males
-East Timor claims our bedroom as their sovereign territory
-Cat suffers genetic mutation, takes over world, refuses to loan me money
-Mr T decides I am fool but refuses to pity me claiming excessive jibber-jabber
-Unwanted pregnancy for Dog, despite the fact she's spayed

Which do you think will happen? Or suggest your own possible thing I need to be worrying about that I'm not.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I abide and I endure

We watched The Night of the Hunter last night together, hence the title. Wife is trapped in bed so I took advantage of it and her desire to hang out with me to get her to watch movies that I love. And that was on TCM. Amazing movie, I highly recommend it.

Right now I feel a little like that's what I'm doing right now, abiding and enduring. I feel a little ragged having to take care of everything in the household and everything work related at the same time. I'm busy enough with teaching, grading, getting ready for end of semester and prepping for next semester. I'm also handling advising for students on top of that. And then there's taking care of the dog. I need to go to the laundromat last week and still haven't been.

And that's enough whining about how hard my life is.

In other news, with the clock change by 6:30 it's pitch dark outside. Okay, we do live in a neighborhood with a lot less street lights than the old one. But that doesn't change when the sun goes down. But what makes it even more weird is how comfortable it still is outside. We're having the coldest days since we moved here. And it's still in the 60s and even 70s. So it feels partially to me like its February with how early it gets dark. But on the other it still feels almost summer like. Throw in Christmas commercials starting up and I have no idea what time of year it is supposed to be like.

I'm hearing that some of you out there are already getting snow flurries. 70 degrees in November makes it a lot easier to abide and endure.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gimme some candy

Happy Halloween everyone. In some ways this has become my favorite holiday. I mean it is hard to top Christmas cause you get presents and maybe that family and friends aspect. And Valentine's day is the anniversary of when me and Wife started dating so that's much more important.

But come on, Halloween you get to play dress up and hopefully get candy. Not from me because I turn off lights and hide from the doorbell (much easier to do in Chicago where many kids only trick or treat in their building). Dress up! Candy! Too cool.

Possibly my best costume ever was the year I went as Vanilla Ice. Wish I had a digital scan so you could witness the majesty. For it was majestic. I even shaved my eyebrow which took days to grow back. For I am willing to sacrifice to make people laugh.

Now I just enjoy one day a year where I get to dress even more casually for class. One of the perks of being a professor is that I get to wear sneakers every day if I want to. And believe me, I want to. But for Halloween I take it a step further and drag out my Misfits skull shirt and other such accessories. I also throw on a cool sports coat cause I'm not a slob after all.

This year the sports coat is a bit warm though. It's still in the low 80s today. I can remember wearing costumes as a kid with a winter coat over it. This year I could wear shorts. Much better. It just doesn't feel or smell much like fall. But the candy still tastes as good.

As a bit of a PS for anyone who reads my blog but not the Wife's, she broke her leg on Monday. Expect a post down the road where I detail what my life as become as caretaker for an invalid.

Friday, October 26, 2007

One more thing about Convocation

I forgot to mention that pretty much every woman who won a service award had her status as a wonderful mother mentioned. When the men were introduced, not one was described as being a wonderful father. They had important careers and hobbies instead I guess.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pomp and ..... more pomp.

Yesterday was the official Convocation at my new school. One of the definitions of convocation is "a collective noun for eagles." This was not one a grouping of eagles. That would have been cool though. I bet the students would have enjoyed it more. Attendance was mandatory for faculty and for students who intend to graduate this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with this type of convocation, probably because you were able to skip it at your school, it is an official calling together of people for a special purpose. Some schools call their commencements convocations, some have them at the beginning of the year so they can prepare for what is to come, some at the end of the year to celebrate what was accomplished. We had ours in the middle of the fall semester, to signify ... uhm, something. Maybe it was so we didn't have to wear our regalia in August.

That was the best part of the whole show, getting to throw on my regalia. I skipped my PhD hooding ceremony because it was on my birthday and so was our favorite scooter rally of the year. Which would you have done on your birthday, partied with friends or worn a gown in front of a room full of people you might have contempt for (I have some issues with some of the folks at Northwestern. It's a love/hate thing)? So this was my first time to wear the full Doctoral robes. I looked pimp. Northwestern graduates get special gowns that are purple with black velvet accents. Almost everyone else was in black.

The downside, I was lined up with people I don't know yet so no one really to talk to during the actual ceremony. We opened with a prayer and closed with one plus three of the four songs sang had religious overtones. This is not a religious school. Technically. And the speeches were pretty boring. I'm pretty sure the wife slept through a lot of it. It was a lot of empty ceremony and I'm not sure who is supposed to actually enjoy it. Outside of the folks getting to make the speeches perhaps.

Still, there is importance in creating community and togetherness. Even if that togetherness is created by getting the faculty together to bitch about having to get together. And did I mention, I looked pimp?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Too smart for my own good

I'm a professor of new media and culture. I started this blog as a test of the technical elements of blogger since I'm having my classes use it. I had to know how to in order to teach it. Now my students may not appreciate this, but the advantage they have is they at least have some sense of the purpose of their blog.

But I'm not so sure about mine. Maybe I'm just overthinking but I can't decide what my goal here should be. Is this some sort of online journal? Should I use it to explore my thoughts on new media similar to what my students are doing? Is it just a dumping ground for random ideas? Is anyone even paying attention other than my wife and one reader in Chicago and two in Kentucky (Hi Monya, Amanda, and Jason by the way)?

I feel like I should try to figure out a purpose otherwise I'm just adding noise to an already overcrowded blogsphere. Did you know that at one point blog tracking site Technorati was reporting that two new blogs were being created every second? That's a lot of noise for anything to get around and through. I think part of this concern is that we're doing the chapters on the failure of the WWW to live up to the sheer volume of hype attached to it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dirty confession

My name is Professor Matthew and I have a problem.

I want one of almost every motorcycle and scooter in the world. Or at least one of all the cool ones.

Well, maybe not that bad but I do want a whole lot more than I have. Or that I can afford. Which is partially funny if you know me because I can get paranoid about money. I've been poor from time to time since I've left home. Never destitute but praying I get paid enough that I can cover rent/eating ramen noodles or peanut butter and jelly for all my meals that I don't get for free from my food service job poor. So often I get a little scared that I'm going to come up short. It makes my wife a little stressed when I get stressed. (In my defense, there are times when she isn't stressed enough but that's not the point right now). But I have a weakness for three main things. Shoes, tattoos, and motorized bikes. If you're careful, two of those three aren't really that much of a burden. My just considering a bike once caused my wife to have a breakdown in an Olive Garden.

For those who don't know, different bikes can fulfill different roles. Some are great for getting around urban areas, some are great for long distance riding, some are great for riding two up with a friend or wife (or whomever you would prefer to ride two up with, I'm not here to judge. Unless you don't want to ride at all, in which case you're a dirty communist and you make baby kitties cry). And some just look amazing. Actually a lot look amazing and again in different ways.

To be honest (and what's the point of lying about this anyway?), the only types of bikes I don't want one of are giant cruisers or giant sports bikes. I don't need to go 200 mph and I don't need a bike so large it can't be lifted again if it tips over. But I can come up with all sorts of justifications for why I need a bigger scooter (sometimes I want to ride on the interstate) and a new Triumph Bonneville or Scrambler (classic bike looks with modern bike technology!) and another vintage bike (just look at a 60s or early 70s Honda CB and tell me that isn't cool).

To put it in perspective, I currently have one really nice scooter and one 1966 Honda. And the wife has a nice scooter that I'm paying for so if she leaves me she has to give it back or buy it off me. We've had as many as 5 at the same time. It's not like I can ride more than one bike at a time. And my current vintage motorcycle needs some work anyway. I really should just concentrate on that and get it running again. Then it will be like I have a new bike again. At least for a little while till I have to fight off the urge again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I should be in bed

"I should be drinking a toast to absent friends instead of these comedians"
-Elvis Costello

I just got done sending a message to one of my oldest remaining friends. It's put me in a bit of a mood. It won't last long hopefully. My bad moods seldom do. On a certain level I'm grateful for that but on a different one they never really last long enough to spur me to do anything about them to ensure they don't come back.

Anyway, to focus on the business at hand, I'm real good about letting friends get away. I've moved a lot as an adult, trying to find my place in the world or what have you. Six states since I've left home for college, if you count the two months in Delaware one summer. I've made eight major moves in my life since graduating from Penn State. And what happens every time is I lose most of the people I've managed to make some level of friends with. Out of sight and it becomes way to easy for them to become out of mind.

Most of the time I prefer the company of my wife to any other person on the planet. Which should only make sense since I married her and all. But there are those rare moments when either she's busy or working or I want to do something that I know she has no interest in or the rare times when I want to talk about her but not with her.

Like this weekend. There's a scooter rally and it is about a five hour ride to get there. Six if you count the stops for gas, water, bathroom, and just resting your back and shoulders. And I have no one to ride it with. So I'm probably not going to go. And some guys I know are doing an event in Alabama but I don't feel strong enough in the relationship to figure out how to get invited along.

Bottom line, I feel lonely but I just don't want to deal with having to go through the effort yet again to make new friends. I want my old friends back. But I'm kind of doubting any of them plan on moving any time soon.

Well, at least it won't last for long. Hopefully.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I don't want to be all gushy and if I'm going to talk about media I'd prefer to do it intellectually, I am a professor of media after all.

But just watch Pushing Up Daisies. It is an impressive show. It's is quirky, hilarious, charming, has just enough action and mystery to appeal to guys and just enough romance and charm to appeal to women. I know, weak adjectives.

Anyway I feel like I've discovered this secret gem and this show is either going to fail because it can't find an audience or is going to become this huge phenomenon and go down hill fast because it is going to change something crucial to what makes it good. Just watch it. I'd try to describe it but I think it would ruin the surprise of discovery.

Just ... angry for no good reason

Somehow I slept through most of my first class today. It's an 8 o'clock class which is hard enough to get up for but the good thing is that once it's over, my day is half over. Well, I have office hours but office hours, even if you are working on grading or lesson plans, never feel like work really. Unless you're on deadline for something that is.

I digress. The alarm didn't go off or somehow I turned it off and back on again or something. I checked the volume so that wasn't it and I turned the time forward and it went off. So what was it? Now I'm behind in that class and I was already about 20 minutes behind where I wanted to be anyway.

I'll never know exactly what happened, which makes me mad. Most of the time I'm really good at letting go the things that I have no control over. Most of the time. But some things just hit me the wrong way and I can't control it. If I'm lucky I let out a small burst of frustration and that is it, it's over and we move on (though it sometimes scares my wife because it is literally a burst. I yell really loud or something to get it out).

But sometimes it just lingers. It gnaws at me and I just have trouble even functioning. It's amazing I've written this much. There is nothing I can do, I can't travel in time and wake myself up so I make it to class. I can't fix this easily. I just have to figure out how to play catch up next week. Not sure how I'm going to do this.

Funny thing is, writing about it helped a little. Go figure.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

How is your evening going?

I'm sitting at the computer right now working on a lesson plan for class tomorrow. Or more accurately, I'm procrastinating a little before I finally force myself to get something, anything, done. And I hear a little scritchy noise.

In this part of the country I've learned a scritchy noise usually means one thing. So I look around a little and sure enough, I can see its outline in the plastic upside down "lampshade" thing in the light that I just turned on. Big roach. It's trying to climb up away from the hot bulb but it can't get enough traction on the plastic to make it.

So basically I'm watching a roach slowly die. Just so you know, I don't feel any guilt. And if you could see the size of this thing you'd know why I'm waiting till I know it's dead before I turn off the light and try to fish it out.

That light may stay on for a long time before I even try to look.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mmmm, ham

I was joking with my wife this morning. Or teasing depending on your point of view but I'm the one telling this story so stop trying to impose your perceptions on me. Anyway, she's been missing having friends she can talk to face to face. So far I've had a little more time to socialize out of the house with others and understandably she's missing the people she's used to seeing every day.

So she was emailing one of these friends this morning and to get back on track here is what roughly went down.

Me: "Are you writing Person X?" (Note this is not this person's name though that would be really bad ass if it was. I'd love an awesome code name. Wait, I have one already Professor Makey-Outey, no, I mean Professor Matthew).

Wife (Another note, not what I call her, at least most of the time): "Yes." I'm paraphasing.

Me, pretending what I'm saying is what she's writing: "'I miss talking to you. Move down here and live with me. We can dump Matthew in the alligator farm.'" Again, paraphrasing.

Wife: "Hmmm, alligators don't like human flesh, we'd have to attach hams to the body."

Her tone of voice was so matter of fact it was as if this is something she'd considered for some length before realizing hams would be the perfect solution to this situation. And truth be told, she's right.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We are! Penn State!

If you don't know, I'm a sports fan. On a certain level with some of my peer group that's a dirty thing to be. Sports aren't exactly punk rock. But I'm a fan. Especially of college football, hockey, and soccer. Also of trash sports but I think that might be better as a separate blog post.

Anyway, recently ESPN put out a list of rules for college football fans. And in reading them I realize, I don't do a very good job of following them. I went to Penn State and while I love Joe Pa like I should and celebrate the fact that we can win football games and graduate players who can read, I have trouble with other factors.

I don't hate our current Big Ten rivals. When I went to school there we were independent. So our rivals were Notre Dame. And to a lesser extent Miami. And I still hate them. Along with Nebraska for some reason, still not sure why I don't like them but I don't. I'm enjoying this season as much for Penn State's success as for the schadenfreude of Notre Dame's season. Nice job there giving the "genius" Charlie Weis all that money after you ran Ty Willingham out of town for doing what has now amounted to a better job.

But when I was a kid, I rooted for the Big Ten to beat Notre Dame so now I can't really get behind rooting against most of them except when they play my Lions. It also doesn't help that my academic career has taken me to so many different schools, both as a student and as a professor. You gain an interest in all of them, at least a desire to see them succeed, especially if you have athletes in your class that are good students. It makes me a sports team whore. Some times I feel no better than the people who jumped on the Red Sox bandwagon just so they could back a winner and feel good story.

Except when the Lions are on. I have trouble watching them unless they are blowing out their opponent. Every bad play makes me so anxious. I really do honestly feel horrible if they lose but it's even worse if I watched it cause what if I jinxed them somehow? Not the best logic. But isn't that part of what being a fan is sometimes?

Fight on State. Roar, Lions, roar. LET’S GO STATE!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We're all adults here

The school I'm now teaching at has some unique ideas when it comes to the social lives of students. There is absolutely no mingling of the genders in the dorms. Males are not allowed in female dorm areas at any time and females are not allowed in male dorms at any time. Also, zero tolerance with regard to alcohol.

Now a lot of schools have a zero tolerance with regard to underage drinking. But this is zero tolerance with regard to alcohol. None on campus. Also, none in your body on campus. That's right, even if you are of legal age to drink and go to a bar, if you get drunk then don't go back to your dorm room. Stay off campus till you're sober. Or else.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm loving working and teaching here. But there is concern in some of the administration because of retention. We lose bad students. But all schools lose bad students. Bad students hopefully realize they don't belong in college and stop wasting time and money or realize they need to take things more seriously and become better students. But we also lose a decent percentage of good students too. And they're not sure why.

Maybe because they are smart enough to realize that we expect them to act and behave like adults with regard to planning their future but we don't trust them enough to actually behave like adults when it comes to their social lives? Maybe they realize they can go to some other school that will allow them to perform activities that other 18 or 21 year olds can do? The ones many of us took advantage of during our college years to various levels of success or excess. You think?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

By the way

We got wedding band tattoos. Yes, it hurt quite a bit. But it was over quickly. And they look amazing. I can't decide if I'm even going to go back to wearing my band once it finishes healing.

What is that, is that Asian?

Word has gotten out about me on campus. So far it appears to take two main tracks.

One is that I have my tattoos and my plugs. I'm starting to attract a little bit of the freak population. I've also heard through the grapevine that one of my students told a different professor that, "He's cool. I wasn't sure because of the tattoos but he's cool." What's funny is that I haven't worn short sleeves to class yet because I'm trying to establish credibility. I can't wait till the middle of next week because it is still way hot even with a recent cool down in temperatures.

The other is one that is hilarious if you know what I look like. People think I'm Asian because of my last name. Many students have asked other faculty if I was Japanese. And if not then I must be Russian. One said she is going to start telling students I might be both. I've told a couple people to tell students I was adopted by a couple from Korea just to see if I can get that rumor to spread. You know, Americans go to China to adopt babies, so why wouldn't Koreans come here?

The last name is Polish if you didn't know for some reason.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It Begins!

I've started having meetings and getting "training" here for school. So it's about to begin. The main reason we went through this whole move starts for real next Monday when I meet my 20+ advisees and try not to screw up their futures any worse than they will without my help. I quite possibly will not have a computer and printer to help me with this. I'm hoping I can actually move in to my office today but it depends on when the wife gets back with the car that is full of my books and files.

Actually, moving into the office has been a minor trial itself. It took me three weeks to finally get my keys. The folks who were there weren't ready to move out because their new office wasn't ready. So they couldn't turn in their keys. Until they were turned in, I couldn't get them. Perfectly reasonable but annoying. I also talked to maintenance and my office should have furniture today or tomorrow. Right now all it has is a desk from some grade school somewhere. I'm serious, this thing is the same size as the desk you had when you were in 4th grade. And my phone answering message currently has someone mispronouncing my last name and calling me Matt instead of Matthew.

Beyond that the last textbook I needed to finish up my pre-semester prep work took two extra weeks to show up. Luckily it looks like I'll be able to use it for at least the first time I teach this course because there isn't time to order another one.

For those of you reading who are college students or graduates, there is a ton of behind the scene work that we have to do to make it seem like everything in class is happening for a reason. We plan, we fine tune, we adjust, we tinker. Or at least those professors who give a damn do. I don't doubt there are professors out there who have no business being in front of a classroom. I'm just determined not to be one of them.

I also managed to lose my keys to my scooter the other day. Took me five hours to find and unpack the spares (somebody convinced me that I had packed them so I kept looking in places I would have put them to keep them safe and beating myself up mentally that I just couldn't remember where that was. Then I found them in someone else's luggage). But it turns out someone on campus found them AND turned them in to security. In Chicago they would have been long gone. So it's been testing but there are rays of sunshine other than the ones that gave me sunburn last week.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just touring the bridges

We finally managed to hook up with area scooterists and go for a ride on Sunday. Well, area means an hour north in this case. It's not that there aren't a lot of scooters all over our town. Just that most of them are tourists, renters, and the like. I get the impression that some of them are liquor bikes too. What's a liquor bike? Lose your license for drunk driving and get a small scooter. In some states you don't need a license to operate one so it is an attractive option for the drunk with the need to go visiting.

One funny thing that happened during the ride is that I ended up leading it for a little while. I just took it on a simple loop because that is all that was asked of me. But it is funny how often I do end up leading rides. Once I ended up leading a ride of around 100 lost riders in a city I didn't live in because the folks in charge of the ride were dealing with a crisis. Why did I end up being the one to lead the group? Because no one else wanted to. If I was being honest I would say because I'm kind of anal like that. I sort of gravitate towards being the responsible person in group activities. I know, shocking that a college professor would have that sort of personality. I was successful in getting the group back to where it needed to be though.

Supposedly there are folks here in town who like to scooter like we do. It is my favorite method of getting to work (I live four blocks from work and I still take the scooter many days instead of the bicycle. I know, not very green of me). I also love to just go for a ride. See the countryside, get lost and then get unlost. Go places I'd never go otherwise. We did hook up with the vintage motorcycle crew and once I get some help and get my 1966 Honda running properly I'll do some riding with them I hope. But my scooter is reliable, always there and always ready to go. I wish I had a better facility with language to convey the joy it gives me when I go for a ride. I wish you'd come with me so you could see for yourself what I'm trying to communicate. Anytime you want to come with, let me know. I'll dig out the spare helmets.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Working a theme

In light of our lack of male songs, and songs in general, we went to a karaoke night at a local watering hole. It is a cool place, has cider and many other favorites on tap. It even sells scotch eggs as a bar snack. The local vintage motorcyclists use it as a gathering place. If you know or feel similar to how we do, all of this sounds promising so far, doesn't it?

Until you see the group there to sing. It was quite the collection of regulars primarily. Now, to be fair, they could sing. But they weren't really the sort of people that we're likely to socialize with even with the power of the Roke to bind us. I can't prove it, but I think the KJ (that's Karaoke Jockey) was line jumping his friends and favorites. That and the selection was large but not diverse.

To begin with, we got stuck with the titles book not the artists list. And who decides on a song for karaoke with the titles list? You look for the artist you like and then see if they have the song by the artist you want to sing. Most of the songs we like to sing were not on the list.

Christine got lucky and did a Blondie's song she's good at but I went with Cheap Trick and did a lousy job. I sang "I want you to want me" and I'm much better at "Surrender". And the mix seemed weird so that didn't help. I even got heckled by someone. Luckily he didn't decide to respond to the gesture I made to him to show my appreciation for his criticism. It was bad enough, it didn't need an altercation adding to the fun.

I ended the evening with a bag of Krystal's. They so wish they were White Castle. And they ran out of chili for my chili cheese fries. Damn them, damn them straight to hell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We got the beat?

So last week Christine told me she got me a surprise. It had to be special ordered. She kept saying weird things about what she had to do to get the surprise ready and other strange things about it. Luckily it came quickly because she was really being a little obsessive about it without actually giving hints. It came yesterday.

Karaoke machine. Yes, that's right, I now have a karaoke machine. I love karaoke. Or the Roke, as I have learned actor Paul Rudd calls it. I am a huge ham and a frustrated punk rock god. So this is an amazing gift.

Only one problem. We only have two cds. Blondie, The Bangles, and The Go Go's. Blondie and The Go Go's are, of course, awesome. Only one problem. They're also female singers. So I wait to unleash my inner god of rock. It's like telling a hungry person we have the meat and the fixings, we're just waiting for the buns. Then you'll get your sandwich.

Also, Belinda Carlisle was hella cooler when she was chubby and wearing garbage bags.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What the?

Okay, I'll admit I'm new to the whole "having a blog" thing. But blogger has this feature that lets you click on "next blog" and I suppose the idea is that it creates some sort of sense of community with the blogosphere. So why is it that every time I click on it I either get something in a foreign language that I have no chance of comprehending or amateur porn?

Oh, and a link to one blog that is about someone encouraging you to reestablish your relationship with your savior. Proselytizing on the internet, is that better or worse than porn? I leave that up to you and your moral compass.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

1104.57 miles from Chicago

Yesterday was amazing. We went to the beach finally in the late morning early afternoon. Not the tourist beach, the primarily locals beach. Had a huge strip of sand all to ourselves and the only other people in the water were a few kids splashing nearby. And swearing a decent amount. More than I remember swearing at that age anyway. Yes, I'm not afraid to write it. We frolicked. We let the sun dry us off. On the way back to town we saw pelicans. Plural.

Then in the evening we went to a Crab Shack and Marina for dinner. Got the two person seafood boil. If you've never had a boil, basically it means more food than you should safely eat but you are going to anyway. Crab, mussels, crawfish, shrimp, sausage, and more. Plus all the sweet tea you can drink. Next time is the fried but we'll need a few weeks to make room for it. Then we wandered over to the dock and saw a live wild alligator floating by the boats. It was small for an alligator but I'm betting it was still hoping some chubby kid slipped off the docks.

That's a long way to get to my point. And I have one, I think. If you've ever been on a longer vacation somewhere you have that day before you have to go back to wherever it is you came from. It's a fun day cause it is still vacation but there is a little desperation because you know it is almost over, this is the last of the fun. Well, we realized that day for us is never coming. No packing the car and heading out tomorrow. If I want to go to the beach, I can. And the day after and the day after that. Sure, school will start in a couple of weeks, but if I wanted I could hop in the ocean before or after if I so desire.

And right now you're probably hating me just a little bit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quick design note

Some folks dislike light text on a dark background. Well, it cuts down on the amount of electricity that your monitor uses displaying on a black background.

So worship my eco-friendly design! My ramblings do less damage to the environment than yours! I am the winner!

You moved here from where?

We moved half way across the country a couple of weeks ago. I will write a post on it soon. If I can get my memories and thoughts organized on it into something worth reading in one sitting. In fact it was doing the move that convinced me to finally start a blog of my own. But I try to think about it in my head and it gets all jumbled and I realize there are so many details and tangents so I put it off for another day.

In the meantime, while I’m still in the honeymoon phase on our new place, I want to point out one major advantage to living in a small town instead of Chicago where we just moved from. Here it’s not a production to go someplace. Almost everything in this county is something like 30 minutes away. Everything in Chicago was effort.

Almost no one came to our “big” going away bash. [We did have a smaller affair that had limited space and a bigger attendance, but I digress.] A few dedicated friends but that was it. Why? Because everyone already had a million plans. Too many things competing. Some folks thought it was on a different night. Others thought it was too far away. In a small town you tell folks that you’re going out the day before and I bet as many people showed up as showed up to our final event. Cause it’s something to do.

Of course it also could have been nobody showed up because they didn’t really like me, but that isn’t as good for my ego so we won’t even dwell on that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm still lauging about this one

I went for my first spin around town tonight. I know, it took me long enough. Let's just say that my second spin will be tomorrow.

On the way home I crossed this bridge over the inlet and stopped at a red light right near the main square in town. Some guy pulls up in the lane next to me on this enormous sport bike. He's wearing sandals, board shorts and sunglasses. And that's it.

So I was chuckling a little to myself thinking about how much it would hurt if he laid his bike down just wearing that. Maybe he noticed or maybe he was just showing off. Either way, he starts doing a burnout. I'm trying not to look because I don't want to encourage him but I'm keeping my eye on him just in case.

Those of you familiar with idiots doing burnouts can probably see where this is going. That's right, he starts getting a little sloppy and of course dumps his bike and it lands on top of him. He's response as he tries to jump up and act like he meant to do that, "Whoa." He kills the engine as smoke wafts around him. The light turns green.

Remember what I wrote about this being right near the town square. Which is practically ground zero for tourists. People on the sidewalk are staring down the road trying to figure out what happened. And also looking at me because I am laughing so hard they can actually hear me.

Definitely a good ride.