Saturday, January 31, 2009

Parade Rest

TonyN's comments on my last post reminded me of a time when I could take a shower in under 30 seconds.

See, when I was a teenager a number of people in the peer group I was in joined the Civil Air Patrol. I was in the cadet program which is like Junior ROTC but for the air force and members are civilians. Even though we met on an air force base. Hard to say their greatest claim to fame but CAP pilots did manage to sink two Uboats in WWII.

In order to hang out with them I joined too. For a year it was kind of interesting and some of it was fun. What was weird was how quickly you can get sucked in to the quasi-military mindset. It's built around testing self-esteem and then giving tiny little rewards that make you want to try and get the next little reward. And creating a sense of belonging to a group that exerts more pressure on you to conform and fit in. And this wasn't even the real military.

The best part about it was the group I was in "won" and got to represent the state I grew up in for a cadet competition. I say won because we were the only one in our state to enter. The cool part was we got to fly to another state in a C-130. It's a big prop plane and equipment transporter. It was like flying in a bus with wings. Back then I didn't get airsick like I do now. That and the plane flew low so we didn't have to deal with full pressurization.

We did poorly in much of the competition, though far from the worst, and did manage to win best spirit. The team from New York was an unstoppable juggernaut that lived for the competition and was among the best in the country. Yes, they can be very proud of their ability to march as a group in both preordained and creative patterns. I'm sure it is a skill that has come up again and again in life.

What does this have to do with showering? We did a separate week long retreat and training thing while I was there that involved groups from our geographic area. One of the things they did to "break you down and build you up" was we got no more than 30 seconds for a shower for most of the week. So you learned to lather up in the sink and use that time to rinse and not much more. The weird thing, the last day we got all the time you wanted to shower and after about a minute you were clean. Anything longer seemed wasteful.

I do have to say though, to this day I'm still not sure how making perfect hospital corners helps a soldier in the field.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Trying to do good for the planet

Recently I read an article in the local alternative weekly about the amount of water used in our part of the country. We face drought conditions in a few years due to overuse. One of the suggestions was to not shower every day arguing that most people don't need to unless they work a physically demanding job.

I shower every day, it helps wake me up in the morning before coffee and I really do enjoy a long hot shower. Heck, if I had the time there would be many days where I would shower till the tub filled with hot water and then soak in the tub till it cooled and then another hot blast from the shower before I got out of the bathroom.

But this is not water smart. So today I just washed face and pits in the sink. I have felt itchy, sticky, and greasy all day. I feel gross. Now I also exercised today but it was only tai chi, not exactly high impact. Still, Wife just told me that I smell bad.

So maybe I'll just work on taking shorter showers and not turning the hot water up too high. Small improvements are better than no improvements.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quick thought for my 100th post

This is just a thought that hit me as I was getting ready to ride to work this morning. So one of the arguments made against homosexuals is that they choose to have sex with the same gender. Choice, not genetics, right? And some even argue that with counseling they can overcome this and learn to choose opposite gender partners and be "normal and happy."

How come the same argument is not made about pedophiles? If sexual attraction is a choice then pedophiles choose to be attracted to children and with counseling can overcome this easily. Yet I don't see Exodus International starting up a string of day care centers. Look them up yourself if you are interested. I'm not increasing their traffic by linking to them.

Please be aware that I'm not arguing in favor of pedophilia or that we should equate homosexuality with pedophilia. I just really hate both hypocrisy and flawed logic.

Coincidentally, my friend Elephants on Bicycles touched on similar, but more thorough and intelligent, ideas in the fourth paragraph of his latest blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Student Evaluations

Time for another round of what my students think of me. The thing I'm learning is that for 24 hours I'm a little annoyed with the negative comments. Then I get a little defensive. Then they get amusing.

Then I share them with the Internets. Not a lot of negative ones, most were positive or too generic for commentary. But four really shine.

One student had advice for how I should behave: "Stop the tough guy act. You're a nice guy." This is true. But evil is more fun.

For a different student I had a positive long term impact on their future: "After taking this course I am not sure I even want to major in communications now." Better to realize that now rather than on graduation day.

Normally this one would be the finest one to share. But one tops it. Keep that in mind as you read this: "[Professor Matthew] is a bitter disgruntled man who desparately [sic] wishes to upset and humilate students.... Enjoyed putting down students in front of the class and embarrassing anyone who dared speak up. Really made me regret being a student here, and I cringe when I think of him remaining a teacher...."

Normally you would think making a student cringe would be the high point of these evaluations but you would be mistaken. For one goes to a level that no student has ever gone before. This comment is the new extreme in unique student comments. In fact it is so singular that I will not sully it with commentary afterwards. This is the future of our country:

"I was born in the dungeon of flesh solitary confinement underneath your duress but I broke those shackles I bent the bar I got out of there and drove away in my car"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Internets

Sorry I didn't see The Dark Knight till this last weekend. I get why all the buzz, my bad.

Batman did seem a little un-Batman-like at times though. Just saying.

And who is going to be the bad guy in the next one? Running low on the really good ones.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I don't get it

Why is it when many people dial a wrong number they get mad at you? I'm not the one who dialed your phone. Or on the other hand I'm not the one who gave you the wrong number when you asked for their "digits" with your "mad game skillz". I've gotten four wrong numbers in the last two days. It's getting annoying.

Actual conversation from earlier today:

Them: "Is (mumbles) there?"

Me: "I'm sorry, who?"

"Can I talk to Rachel?"

"There's no one here by that name."

"I'm calling for Rachel."

"This is not her number."

"Who is this?" He sounds annoyed or suspicious. Like Rachel is cheating on him with me. Or maybe he's a telemarketer willing to sell to anyone who answers the phone.

Me: "Who are you?" He hangs up. Maybe he's the one Rachel is cheating with? I'll never know.

To the anonymous caller I have a question. I don't hang up on you when I realize you're a dumbass, why hang up on me without apologizing? I'm the person getting their time wasted.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Other teachers get coffee mugs

Some teachers receive small gifts around the holidays that show that their students like and appreciate them. Once, a long time ago I even received a pretty decent pen from a student. She was recent immigrant and I'm still not sure if she was trying to bribe me for a passing grade or really felt that I was worthy.

But those days are long gone. Now what do I get from students to show their "affection"?

Some student or students copied a picture out of our text book that looks somewhat like me photographed from the side and then drew tattoos and earrings on it and posted them around the library before our final exam. I didn't notice till after it was over so who knows how many folks saw it. I don't know whether to be flattered with the effort, creeped out, or just amused by the whole thing.

I don't get secret Santas. I get secret stalkers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What must the neighbors think?

Yes, yes, I'm back after family visiting. Blog post to follow on that one. But in the mean time, here's a little New Year Day story for you.

Wife took Dog out for a last pee before bed. And then came back in very upset. It seemed Dog found something interesting to smell. A dead rat. It's the second one that has been found in our back yard in the last few weeks. And might explain the sounds of cat screaming we heard earlier.

This is understandably upsetting and gross. We don't want Dog trying to play with it again and it would probably be best if it wasn't left out to attract flies or other critters. I go out and get the shovel.

A quick survey makes me realize that the front yard by the street has ample light and very soft sandy soil to dig in. So I carry the corpse up there and find a decent spot to go to work. One shallow grave later and the rat is hopefully entombed. A quick pat down of the dirt and I look up to see a middle age African American woman walking down the street.

"Happy new year" she says. I respond in kind. It was very neighborly. But part of me does wonder what she was thinking to see some tattooed guy digging a hole in the middle of the night.