May 27, 2009

When I was back there in middle school

I loved this book when I was a kid. I can't wait to read it again. For free. On my Kindle, baby! Also available as a free audiobook, if that's the kind of thing you go for.

I don't remember much about it, so it will be interesting to see if I can remember why it spoke to me or what it said when it did.

What I remember most about middle school is hating middle school. I remember a kind of creepy PE teacher who, in my imagination, looked and talked a lot like Col. Kilgore. Rumor was, he was still going overseas and flying missions on the weekends.

We didn't have recess; we had "Recreation" every other Wednesday, and it was a pubescent version of the prison yard. There was a kid who was called "Dirt Ball," and he had a game named after him. Somebody would yell "dirt ball!" and everybody would pelt him with footballs, basketballs, baseballs, whatever. And he would cry. I don't know if he was dirty, but I'm pretty sure his family was poor. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Not my scene, even though I wasn't Dirt Ball. I hated it, so I asked Kilgore if I could spend recreation in the library instead. He looked at me as if I were a pathetic, greasy-haired little punk in clothes his mom made him. Which, to be fair, was not far wrong. He let me go, though, probably because I was beneath his considerable contempt.

As an aside: this was recreation, not PE. PE was worse, because Kilgore could not tolerate lazy, idle little schemers who wore their underwear under their shorts rather than a jock strap. There were spot checks. And he was very concerned with cleanliness. After PE, the communal shower was excruciating, and if there was horseplay in the shower, the punishment was to assume the pushup position, unpleasant enough at the best of times, even worse when you're twelve, in shower with twenty other twelve year olds, in six inches of plugged up drain water, holding yourself in the "up" pushup position and hoping your hands didn't slip out from under you in the scummy water. There wasn't a lot of horseplay in the shower under the watchful, watchful eye of the PE teacher.

I loved the library though. The librarian was a younger guy, soft-spoken, patient, tolerant. Polite but not personally friendly. I and a few other unathletic types would sit there and listen to records ... Bill Cosby and Elton John are ones I remember. Once we "accidentally" pulled out the headphone jack while "The Bitch is Back" was playing, and this got us into a little obligatory trouble.

I signed out books by the armload and spent as much time in the library as possible. The librarian let me spend a ton of time in there and made sure I picked books that would make me want to read more books.

For this I am truly grateful.

Changing Lanes and Other Tangential Ruminations

My theory on changing lanes is that in general, there's little or nothing to be gained from changing lanes. Whatever lane you get into will probably slow down to a stop as soon as you get into it. There's probably a reason for it, like the ripple effect of people tapping their brakes in traffic. Or maybe it's just perception.

But I think it's real. And it's not only the case when you're waiting on the interstate while an accident is cleared or while people are jockeying for position whilst funneling down to one lane. It's also the case in the checkout line in Walmart.

Also: the self-checkout line isn't usually faster. It just isn't! And it's a ripoff, since you have to pay the same to check out your own stuff. That's how they get you.

I also am against people waving other people on. When I'm about to turn left in front of you, don't wave me ahead. Just go so I can turn left. You wave me on, I take your wave as a free pass, and the next thing you know I'm pulling out into oncoming traffic. The rules were designed for a reason, people.

May 12, 2009

A mere scutcheon

When I taught the Brit lit survey, one of the themes that emerged was the idea of honor ... easy to follow through Beowulf, 1 Henry IV, and Paradise Lost, for instance. And since I was running an honors program, I guess I had the idea on my mind.

So when I saw Star Trek last week, I was forced to realize that everything I think about honor probably came from the original series ... very disconcerting.

Of course, I can pontificate on the subject all day to little effect ... or I can point you toward this, if you haven't seen it already.

May 05, 2009

Sunshine on a Stick!

Ah, the hard lessons of childhood: Pixie Stick powder, stirred in water, does not make Kool Aid. And healthy as it might be, nothing you freeze yourself is going to have the consistency of a popsicle:

I'm not even sure juice is that good for you anymore. Full of sugar, isn't it? I also remember "Timer" urging me to eat cheese all afternoon ... and cheese, correct me if I'm wrong, is basically congealed fat.

And if you're bored on a rainy day and want to do something fun, waiting for juice to freeze in the freezer might not be the greatest thing.

But did you catch those metal ice trays? Anybody else miss ice with jagged edges?