Monday, August 28, 2006

Contemplations with a Broken Finger

10. Why does the middle finger have such an uninteresting name? Consider the other fingers. Big Mr. Opposible gets the common moniker "thumb." Proceeding to the right (we are discussing the right hand, in this case), we have the index finger. Why? Well, because this is the finger we generally use when following down the list in an index, looking for the topic we are curious about. Then, sad middle finger. Obviously, it IS the finger in the middle, but why isn't the index finger called "middle finger minus one" or "almost middle finger" or "inframiddle finger"? Next, we have the ring finger. This seems to answer the age old question, "Which came first the ring or the finger?" However, if you think about it, how much sense does that make? Finally, the pinkie. Obviously, a white man came up with this name. I wish it would have been named by someone of a darker race. After all, who wouldn't want to walk around with a couple of "brownies" on his or her hands?

9. It's not easy to brush one's teeth or shave with a broken middle finger. Don't even get me started on the difficulty of flossing.

8. One cannot appreciate how often one bangs his or her finger on random objects until one bangs a broken finger on a door knob, a steering wheel, a gallon of milk, a faucet handle, a sofa arm, an alarm clock, a brake handle, the inside of a mailbox. The list, unfortunately, is endless.

7. Using two hands to field a ground ball is fundamentally sound. I keep telling myself this. From now on, however, I will charge ALL ground balls.

6. Everybody has a funny question about someone else's broken finger. It's like that scene in Sid and Nancy, when Johnny is sitting on a counter, getting his battered face bandaged. He's apparently been assaulted. Someone enters the room, sees Johnny and says, "What happened John? Tried to kiss your mother?" I will not regale you with the witticisms I have endured.

5. Teachers do a great deal of writing.

4. Walgreen's has a not very large, but adequate selection of splints.

3. Given time, one can figure out how to do just about anything with a broken middle finger. Fortunately, I have been able to use my busted digit to avoid washing the dishes for a little while.

2. Ice cream makes everything feel better.

1. Given the choice, I would rather have a broken finger than a broken just-about-anything-else.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Injured Reserve

I rounded first
Never thought of the worst
As I studied the shortstop's position
Crack went my leg
Like the shell of an egg
Someone call a decent physician
--Jimmy Buffet, "Growing Older But Not Up"

Broken finger! Softball. And the right hand, too.

Left handed typing is too exasperating. Although I did do a whole crossword this afternoon with my left. That was taxing my patience.

Details later. How much later? Don't know. Give me a few days, at least.

Peace (and watch out for those bad hops at third).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In the Weeds

Sorry that I have been so unbloggery lately. Prepping for tomorrow's impending first-day-of-school-ness has been a daunting task, for some reason. Perhaps the prospective of working with several long-term substitutes (due to the loss of my partner teacher for a couple of months for an operation and chemo treatment in St. Louis) has me a bit flustered and I am overcompensating by trying to plan a lot more in advance than I usually do. Perhaps the fact that this will be my last year at my current school is creeping into my mind and making things harder (shouldn't it make it easier? You know, what are they gonna do, fire me?).

Whatever the reason, I have been out of touch. I apologize. Let this serve only to put me back in touch. I have nothing to report. Only seven more days until the next Chicken Nugget Opportunity! Oh, baby.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Knowledge is Power

Things you didn't know
Wouldn't change anything now.
--The Bottle Rockets, "Things You Didn't Know"

Ten Things I Didn't Know (That I Know Now)

10. The porcelain pitcher that accompanied a wash basin (pre-modern indoor plumbing) was known as (and is still known as) a ewer. Coincidently (which I am beginning to use more and more frequently in the sense of two incidents that occur in close temporal proximity, rather than two incidents that occur with no fatalistic influence whatsoever), after encountering this word in a crossword puzzle this weekend, I came across it while reading The Time Traveler's Wife. Past experience makes me suspect that I will see this word at least twice more in the near future.

9. Hotlinking in the "Comments" section does not work. Anon AMVB taught me that. Thanks, Fashionista!

8. Sore necks can last for at least three days. Ouch!

7. Some of the folks that produce TV shows do not do a great deal of dramaturgical research. A recent episode of a new weekly drama, using Civil War reenactors in a large part of the story, really blew some historical veracity involving "Bloody" Bill Quantrill and his final battle. Any Civil War reenactor worth his or her salt would have gotten it right. It's fanatically important to them.

6. The mangosteen will save the world. I don't know how, but it will, I just know it.

5. Yesterday's sunset was beautiful. The whole late afternoon was pleasant. Visited with Aunt James and friends for a little while, and my bike ride back home was great. Almost cool. Today feels almost early Fall-like. I'm sure the blistering heat will return, but for today--wonderful.

4. This is my last free Tuesday before the start of our contracted work days (they start on Thursday). The plan is to head up to school for a little while today, to get some more preliminary work done, but, you know how plans work with me.

3. Insects visited me in my dreams last night. It's not the first time that has happened, and I'm certain it will not be the last. Just so you know, they were pleasant dreams (and pleasant insects--we had coffee!).

2. Given recent trends (and a well-learned sports pessimism), the Cardinals will not make the playoffs this year. On an editorial note (which is redundant, I guess, since almost all of this is editorial, in a sense), such a result this season might be the best thing that could happen to the team. Many stalwarts have passed their point of true production, and the pitching has been flaky and unreliable this year. Some of the current young pitchers could work out great next year, but the line up (beside Pujols and Rolen) needs an overhaul.

1. Playing guitar is painful. Until the fingers toughen up (literally) those digits really wail. I'm just about over that, now. But I still sound pretty awful. Practice, practice, practice. There will be no public performances any time soon, if you're wondering.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Spiders, Flies, and Medical Conditions I Wouldn't Wish On My Worst Enemy

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
(It wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her).
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don't know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she'll die.
--"There Was an Old Lady"

There's this fly in the house. I speculate, using my awesome powers of perception, that this is probably a house fly. It keeps buzzing at the window (as house flies will), trying to get out. But why? If it is a house fly, and this is a house (both of which are even-money propositions), then why does this creature feel the need to vacate the premises for which it is named? I can't answer that. But, I can tell you that the incessant buzzing (which sounds like this: "buzzzzz buzzzzz buzzzzzz") is annoying me just a bit. I hope it soon either a) finds it's way out of the house, b) learns to accept its lot in life, or c) dies (which in some ways is related to b)).

Also bothersome are the occasional outbreaks of fruit flies. We haven't had many this year, but sometimes, they just seem to appear all over the kitchen. This could be a function of either a) their small size making it difficult to see them entering the house through screens and open doors, b) their small size allowing them to come in to the house undetected riding bananas and peaches, c) their advanced, yet undetected civilization having the ability to teleport themsleves.

Perhaps more troubling for Monkey, however, is a recent phenomenon involving wolf spiders. The other day (Saturday, I think), we were standing in the kitchen. Monkey had just cut her finger on we-don't-know-what (very mysterious, really--she was making wheatcakes; how does one cut a finger making wheatcakes? Sharp flax seeds?), and we were in the midst of bandaging said finger (a pinkie, by the way--left one, I think). Monkey looks down at the floor, and standing menacingly in the doorway between the kitchen and my office is a big wolf spider. This thing was maybe two inches long from the tip of its back leg to the tip of its front leg. Before really thinking about it, I dispatched the spider with a paper towel (much to Monkey's relief). I felt a bit bad about this. I know these spiders are not dangerous, but in the middle of the mysterious cut finger episode, I shot first and asked questions later.

After disposing of the arachnid, I had a flashback. I saw, in my mind's eye, the satisfied look on the spider's face. I saw the blood slowly pooling on Monkey's pinkie. Was that a flash of reflection I saw as I leaned down to squash the spider? Did he have a small piece of glass raised in one pointy leg? How had I escaped the vicious slicing action of his last desperate attempt to wreak havoc on my family? Where was the dog? I looked around frantically, only to find Ripken lounging blissfully ignorant on his new, fluffy and immense dog bed (the whole family can fit on this thing). Then, I passed out.

I came to, and not a minute after, another, much smaller wolf spider popped out of the same room. Having set a precedent, I stomped that one, too. I felt like Jeff Daniels. We haven't seen anymore spiders since then (nor any cocooned people in the neighborhood).

On Friday, I drove down to Eagle Bluffs. There, the car was invaded by giant black horse flies. I feared for my life! I have seen several black horse flies hunt in packs, carrying large deer and small children off into the setting sun, never to be seen or heard from again. Lucky for me, I managed to maneuver the invaders out of the vehicle without getting myself assaulted or kidnapped (although I did have to give them all the cash in my wallet--but it was money well-spent). I saw them later that day, drinking Miller Lite cans in the parking lot of Lucy's. Those flies are not to be played with. Bad flies.

In other developments, I woke up Sunday with a stiff neck (lucky for me I didn't have other symptoms, as well). It was about the worst stiff neck I have ever had. I could barely move my head in any direction. I sat/reclined on the sofa with a heating pad all day (didn't even change out of my PJs until 4pm). It's still a bit sore today, but it is a more diffuse copable pain. I think it might be the house fly's fault.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Somebody Loves Hypertext!

Dear readers, my apologies.
I'm drifting in and out of sleep.
--REM, "The Sad Professor"

As I wipe the nap drool from my cheek and crack the vertebrae in my neck, Summer sizzles to a close. Let's recap our off-season reading list. I will try to be as chronologically faithful as my memory will allow, starting with the most recent. If I have already mentioned any of these in previous posts, I apologize.

Currently engaged with Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife. So far, so good. I am fairly interested in the concepts of time and space (but aren't we all) in a theoretical sort of way. I read How to Build a Time Machine a while back, but, as of yet, I have not built one. Anyway, this has been an interesting read, what with the concepts it deals with (in a totally non-conceptual way), and it takes some attention to keep up with all the shifts in time and place, as well as the relationships between the characters (in their various nows and heres).

Prior to that was Chuck Pahluniak's Invisible Monsters. Pahluniak wrote Fight Club (which I have not read). This was a wild ride. Fast, furious, and fun. It deals with our culture's ideas about and relationship with physical beauty, as well as familial relationships, sexual and gender identity, prescription drugs, real estate, and Canada. Okay, Canada doesn't play that large of a role in the story, but it makes an appearance. Perhaps the cover should say, "Special Appearance by Canada." Recommended. It can be as deep or as shallow as you want it to be--just like this Blog.

Jump back to Kinky Friedman's The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover--wait...I think I did this one already. As well as that which came before it, Dan Brown's blockbuster The DaVinci Code. It was a'ight. They both were a'ight. We could all live and die without reading these two and manage to be fulfilled completely.

So, back to time travel. Beside the fact that we are all time travelers (moving onward each second, now, and now, and now), here I type this entry while the Cardinals-Reds ball game from last night is on the tube. A rebroadcast. The Cards lose 10-3. It ain't pretty. But for the two hours (or three)that this is on, are we not transported back to yesterday evening? Yeah, I know, we're not, but a boy can make broad leaps of faith, can he not?

The heat keeps coming, although it has lately stayed in the balmy 90s instead of the wicked 100s, so, thanks for that.

Monkey has been in a wonderful frame of mind (except for the heat) since her test. Not getting up at five am and studying like it's a full time job (beside your full time job) really puts a girl in a good place, apparently.

I am trying to suck as much sloth-like behavior as possible out of the last eight days of summer break. Wish me luck--it's nap time!

Monday, August 07, 2006

All That and Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin

Be my sweet potato
Be my honey lamb
Dance around the campfire
Hang around a while
--Cracker, "Sweet Potato"

Spent the weekend celebrating Monkey and hanging out with folks. Friday we hit Chevy's for Happy Hour, with a cast of irregulars, some with proper Blog names, and some without. I will spare you the details. Fun had by all, of course.

Saturday, Monkey and I saw a matinee (since she didn't have to study all day) of The Night Listener. We enjoyed it (if I may speak for Monkey). I would recommend it. It's a kind of psychological thriller. Not an action packed type of flick, but it keeps you thinking.

After the movie, we went to a local "nice" restaurant for official couple recognition of the end of the Death March (see previous post). The food was good--we both had halibut (Carribean style), and the sweet potatoes au gratin were almost better than the fish!

Sunday, the weather went all Hell on us again--103, after three whole days under 100. We went to Favorite Berry's Main Squeeze's house for some grillin' and chillin'. Good food--turkey burgers with brie (nice), and some damn good potatoes.

A digression on the potato: given the choice of three things that I would have to eat exclusively for the rest of my life, I would probably choose tomatoes, potatoes, and thin-sliced pork chops. And I would probably not eat the pork chops all the time. Something about the potato (and I am thinking here mostly about your workaday russet-like potato, although, if the fine print allows it, I would try to slip in some sweet potatoes and such every now and then; you know, maybe a yam). When I was in my first bout of college, at Towson State University (now, just Towson University), I had this buddy in an acting class who would bring a potato (microwaved/baked) to rehearsal in a Tupperware container every night. And every night, I was one jealous SOB. There I was nibbling on some stale-ass Fritos I got out of the roach-infested vending machines in the basement of Fine Arts (which is a really beautiful building now after the renovations--but I digress in this digression), and he's enjoying the earthy, room tempature goodness of a cooked potato, and he was eating with his hands (well, and his mouth, of course).

But, did I ever bring my own potato to enjoy? No, I suffered for my art, and in subsequent scenes with this particular actor, I used my jealousy as an emotional touchstone. Oh, the wonders of the acting technique. A Moon for the Misbegotten over a potato--aaaaaand scene.

Anyway, good potatoes, good dinners. In between the eating and celebrating, it was Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. We watched a number of cartilaginous fishes chomping down some defrosted tuna pieces and a few arms and legs, too. I have to admit, I wish that the programs would steer a bit away from the sensational and stay more within the educational aspect, but I guess those days are gone. We miss you, Jacques Cousteau!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Power of Positive Thinking

Today is the big day for Monkey. She takes her EPPP exam this morning, down in the state capital. I offered to drive her, but she said no. We have been thinking positive thoughts, and I ask that you do the same for her today, between 10am Central and about 3pm Central (just to be on the safe side).

Now, I don't expect that you will be able (or willing) to devote five prime day time hours to concentrating on directing your energies to Monkey as she sits in front of a computer and tries to diagnose medical and psychological conditions in vignettes about made up people that have a) gone nuts, b) smacked their head on a bed post, c) lost their marbles, d) boinked their melon off a windshield at thirty-seven miles per (not wearing a seatbelt, you know), e) all of the above. Any little bit, however, helps. Even if all you can manage is to puff out one second of positive energy for Monkey, in the middle of sticking a new pin in the voodoo doll of your boss that you keep in the big right hand drawer in your desk, under the folder of corporate references and that small, but well-known bottle of "cough syrup" that you need to hit about three to seven times a week. Even if all you can give her is a pair of positive ions that float out of your mental melange of regular thoughts, like, "I need a haircut," "Who am I, really?," and "Why is this can of tuna so hard to drain?"

Tonight, we will be celebrating the end of an era that I like to call, Monkey's Self-Enforced Bataan Death March of Studying. She won't know how she did on the test until the end of the month, so I'm sure she'll (and I'll) be a little nervous waiting for the results (which, of course, will be positive--positive thoughts), but, at least she won't have to study like it's a second full-time job any longer.

You go, Monkey!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Welcome to Hell, Part One Hundred and Two

Goddamn, it's hot! After a brief respite last week, the Fiery Furnace of the Plains is back open for business. Recent highlights include watching birds drop from the sky fully roasted, making melted crayon mosaics in the street, and trying to coax Woody the Whistle Pig out from under the house with a Fudgesicle in one hand and a piece of frozen celery in the other (neither worked). One oh four yesterday, one oh one today, one oh-my-God tomorrow (you saw that coming, di'n't-cha?)

Spent today in the casa, working on that ol' vocabulary. Updated the "Currently Teaching" links, since I will soon be teaching something again.

As well, I've decided to learn to play the guitar. In my high school and college days, I was a drummer until I sold my drums back in the day (when I moved out of my parents' house). I guess I can still play, but it's been a while. Now, I am focusing my energy on the guitar, with ambitions to eventually tackle the piano, the trumpet, and the violin. I was never really that interested in other instruments when I was younger, but there's no time like the present.

If I find some time, I plan on improving my French and getting fluent in Spanish and Polish, too.

Somewhere in there, I expect I'll pick up my PhD in Twentieth Century American Poetry, Forestry, and Entymology. I still love me some insects!

What am I doing typing this? I gotta go, I got too much to do. Au revoir!