Friday, November 30, 2007
For the next six months, this blog will be dark. I have a new blog, and those who have written me will soon get a link to this new vision of mine.
I should apologize for not posting before this, but I've been busy with finals this week.
So what do I say before I step out of the light? I thought about talking about my Turkey Day, but that seemed to selfish.
I had a post talking about the unfortunate nature of the modern teenager, but I don't want to get fired (and Big Brother is watching).
So what do I end with?
Well, I just want to thank you, dear reader, for being a part of this journey for the last two years. Though my stories may seem incredibly odd, or even maybe narcissistic, my hope is that my trials, tribulations, and experiences have helped you to learn something.
The world is an odd place. The more you experience people, the easier it becomes to read them. Go out and meet people. Talk to people. Don't be afraid.
Frank Herbert said, "Fear is the mind killer." It's true. People have so many fears, and it cripples them.
Don't be afraid. Don't let the possibility of looking foolish stop you.
I wish you peace, happiness, and love. If you really need some Ironic, please look over my posts from the last two years.
Namaste, and I'll see you in a while.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I'm thankful for a wonderful, understanding wife, and though we may not always agree, she is one of the reasons I'm still alive.
I'm thankful for my son, who reminds me that I must continue to make the world a better place...at least for his sake.
I'm thankful for my sisters and parents. They are the reminders of what I came from, and regardless of good or bad, I know that we need each other and will be there for one another at any time.
I'm thankful for my job. Sure, it has its negatives at times, but I enjoy (for the most part) the kids and adults I work with on a daily basis.
I'm thankful for my health (for better or worse). I don't need a wheelchair, I don't need someone to wipe my butt, and I can still eat corn. That, to me, means I'm ok.
I wish you a blissful Thanksgiving.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Let's get to it.
So, without further ado: REXIE
Around the Interweb:
When I get Insomnia, which is frequent, I start searching around the web for interesting facts, tidbits, and sites to read.
I don't use Twitter. There are a few people I know (including some readers) who Twitter constantly.
However, I can see the value in it.
That's why I present an interesting link to the Writers' Strike.
You can get an interesting look at how things are going from this link.
Otherwise, you can find some resources for the strike here.
Let's say, however, that the whole shutdown is not your thing. Maybe coffee is your thing. In the modern society, people have begun to stop going to coffee shops and make just single servings of coffee (The Leab Lair currently has a Keurig). If you want more information about the machines and coffees available, then I recommend singleservecoffee.com. The site gives you reviews, recipes, and everything else you might need.
Finally, I recommend DVD Verdict. This site has reviews from viewers like me about DVD releases. The best part, however, is they tell you whether or not you should buy the DVD. For example, as the holiday season approaches, movie studios are putting out shiny new versions of already released films. The reviewers will tell you honestly if the upgrade is worth it.
Do You Hear that Cliquing Sound?:
I am a very reasonable person, but I find it fascinating that Cyberspace is almost exactly like real life: people get into cliques and have a really hard time getting out of them.
Look at MNSpeak, for example. If you're part of the clique, then more links appear to things that you write. If you aren't, then you're nothing more than a lurker or a troll. I've been a part of the site ever since Rex put me on a link, but if I comment or try to post, the piece is either ignored (including a wonderful comment of "Who the hell is this guy") or it turns into a stupid troll fest where the end point is nowhere near what was mentioned.
It's sad but true that life is really like high school. You will fall in with like people, you will have a group that you shun or shuns you, and people are afraid of ideas that challenge their beliefs.
I find it fascinating that many of the MNSpeakers take shots at Hipsters...and then act just like them. It's the kids who get bullied and then when they have power...bully other people.
Look, I like the site alot, but if the point is to not only get information across to the public, but also bring Minnesotans together, it's failing. The originals are starting to abandon the site.
And as I finish this piece, I would bet someone from the site will read it and bitch. Maybe I'm wrong, but it had a different feel only a year ago.
Warning: the following story is not for the faint of heart or those afraid of the dentist. If you are either of those, skip this piece all together.
You've been warned.
I had to return to the dentist to have the tooth from the last time I was there checked on by the doctor. It pretty much hasn't stopped bleeding since the root canal, but that's not the point right now. It needed to be checked and a filling needed to be put in on my rear-most tooth.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Let's get to it....
So without further ado: BOOGIE!
The Cost of Politics:
By now everyone knows the story about Stephen Colbert and his attempt to run for President in only South Carolina.
What I find fascinating is the immense difference in the filing fee.
Democratic filing fee: $2,500
Republican filing fee: $35,000
The almost $33,000 difference illustrates the problem with modern politics: he (or she) with the most money will almost always win.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Over the course of this week, several of my students have been dealing with breaking up, leaving relationships, dumping, and being dumped. Maybe it's the pressure of Halloween, or maybe it's the change in weather, but love has been in and out of the air of the school.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
In a month, I will be moving on from Ironic Teachings.
It's not that I don't like to write.
It's not that I don't have enough readers.
It's not that I don't have anything to say.
The problem is that anonymity is gone. Too many people (students, colleagues, higher-ups) are sharing the site name with each other, coming along and reading, and then complaining or are just worried about what is being said.
There is a real fear. And with fear comes threats and problems. So, in order to avoid anymore problems, I am retiring this blog for a short time. Think Michael Jordan in the early nineties...except I won't play baseball, I'll just write somewhere else.
If you are interested in knowing where I will be, you can contact me through email. Though it sounds bad, if I think you should be allowed to stay on, dear reader, I will give you details.
So there it is. The countdown is on.
Let me make it clear to those of you who read this: I love this blog. I will be back to it one day, so it isn't going away, just me.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
As cynical as it might sound, we make them into way too much of a big deal.
There is a truth we ignore: Once you have turned 21...birthdays are overrated.
You were born on this earth 23, 31, or even 75 years ago? Good for you. That doesn't mean that you get a free pass to do whatever you wish.
Other than to your family and friends, you are just another being who will spend a cosmically short time on Earth, help some people, harm others, do (hopefully) something worthwhile along the way, and die with a few people remembering scant and vague memories about you.
And yet, when it is your birthday, you truly hope that those around you who you care about, who you have helped, and who you love will remember and say those simple words that are like chocolate to a child: "Happy Birthday!"
I say this with a form of clarity in my mind. Today was (or at least is for the next forty minutes) my birthday. It should be a big deal. I'm entering my final year of twenties, which seems to frighten so many of my generation, but I don't care.
My day? I woke up with my son at 7. My wife looked tired, so I decided to let her sleep in and had breakfast with Poozer. Later on, my wife awoke. We both got ready, got Little Leab ready, headed out to lunch. Nothing fancy, just a meal at Noodles so my son could have some Mac and Cheese. Then my wife went shopping while I walked around with my son. Next came grocery shopping. Then home so my wife and son could nap while I cleaned up the fountain in the front for winter storage as well as washing down my son's high chair for storage. Dinner was fish sticks, tater tots, and yogurt (all for my son) and then we played until he fell asleep. With Poozer tucked in, I graded. My wife looked over her work email. That's my birthday. Now my wife and son are asleep, and I sit here alone. Just a normal Saturday. The only difference is that 29 years ago, I was cut out of my mother.
And so my next birthday is my thirtieth...and it seems like no big deal? So what?
To me, birthdays stopped being a big deal after I turned twenty-one. My now-wife/then-fiance threw a surprise party for me, which was nice...and had a Halloween theme. People had a great deal of fun.
However, every birthday after that has been nothing more than another day.
And this is where the problem starts for me. The Taoist in me says, "Yes, it is your birthday, but it's also just a Saturday. So it's just a normal day. No reason to get excited. Some people are glad you're here, but some are not."
At the same time, there's a little eight year old Leab in the back of my mind saying, "It's your birthday. Everyone should be celebrating. You should get to party and have fun and let go."
I should point out that I'm not a huge fan of eight year old Leab as he has had a hand (nice alliteration) in getting me in trouble in the past and present.
Let me be clear: I don't want a giant party where I'm the center of attention. All eyes staring at me makes me uncomfortable (which is ironic as I am a teacher and have students staring at me all the time). What I want is my family members to call me and tell me they love me and wish me a joyous day of my exiting the womb. I also want my wife to give me a hug, tell me she loves me, and wish the same tidings. That's it.
I don't need presents.
I don't need billboards.
I don't need people to show up at some restaurant and toast me.
That's just not me.
You have to understand, my in-laws forced me to create an Amazon wishlist (and unlike some of my colleagues, I won't be linking to it), because they feel that gifts are the main way of showing you care about someone on their birthday.
The unfortunate idea, however, is one that I also had to explain to Sister #1 today. She is currently in the process of sending me a gift for my joyous Uteral Exit day and feels bad that it will be late. I tried to explain to her the same sentiment: it's not about the gift. She doesn't have to send one. All I require is a phone call or an email saying nothing more than, "Happy birthday." That's it.
My generation has unfortunately created some major problems on the birthday front. It is the people around my age who have children and want them to have AMAZING birthdays that create these outlandish and overdone parties and give overpriced and overdone gifts so that they kids come to expect it.
Parties where kids are flown to other states.
Crazy Sweet Sixteen parties that cost more than my house.
Presents that have a price in the range of my zip code (starts with 55, folks).
There's even a fear of giving the wrong birthday present to someone. God forbid....
And yet this is where my hypocrisy and split nature comes into play.
Again, I don't want a huge party, nor do I care about what gifts are given to me, nor do I really want people fawning over me. When I turned twenty-one, I didn't tell most of the bartenders that it was my birthday. I had stopped being carded long before that, so it wasn't a big deal to me.
When I was a kid, my parents threw me a really nice party for my tenth birthday. The school I was at had an auction, and my parents won (ratherly cheaply my mother told me) a party at a local movie theater. So I invited my class (all eleven of them) and we watched a movie, had some pizza, and had a nice time.
It may have been the nicest party I've ever had, but that's not why I'm a hypocrite.
No, the hypocrisy comes from wanting my family members, especially my wife, to say those words. None of them ever have to send me or give me gifts. I don't need or really want a party. They just have to call.
This is why my heart is hurting a little tonight. With only a few minutes to go before October 28th sweeps into existence in the Central Time Zone, my wife has not said those words. And though I rarely ever admit it, this is one time that my feelings are actually hurt.
Thus, it becomes easier to lower your expectations for what people will do.
Indeed, I thought about totally screwing with people this year and sending them gifts for my birthday. Hey, I turned twenty-nine. Happy birthday to me; here's a new Nintendo Wii for you!
That would totally blow their minds.
There's also another aspect to it: ever since I was fifteen, I have a had dream about dying on my thirtieth birthday. I'm sitting at a table, and a faceless woman who I know is my wife brings me a birthday cake. I make a wish that my friends and family are prosperous in the next year, and then as I blow out the candles, I die of a heart attack. The dream comes to me a few times a year.
I am also a hypocrite, because my wife will turn thirty in a few weeks, and I will throw a huge surprise party (and I can write that here because she'll never see this. Three years of writing, and she's never looked once). Her friends will be there and possibly her family as well. Because to my wife, her thirtieth birthday is a huge deal. I don't know why.
Well, I sort of see the deal.
The day you're born is supposed to be your day (though with 6.5 Billion people on the planet, it's hard to believe it's YOUR day). It's the one day where everything feels about you. No matter how small you feel, no matter how bad things may be going, this is supposed to be your day.
And we are told that certain years are important:
First birthday (technically 2nd): You have achieved a year on the Earth.
Thirteenth birthday: You have made it to Teenager.
Eighteenth birthday: You're now a technical adult (helllllo, Army and voting).
Twenty-first birthday: You're now a real adult, Pinocchio.
Decade birthdays (30, 40, etc): You're getting older.
But why do we care so much? This could lead me to go off on on the useless holidays for which we suddenly have to buy gifts. National Teacher Appreciation Day? Really? It's as if we as a culture are saying we can't show love without a physical representation in the form of a materialistic good.
Off topic...moving back.
Maybe I'm just too cynical, maybe I'm just a bad person, or maybe I'm just hurt that as the clock strikes midnight, my wife has not said those words yet, but I think we do make too big a deal out of birthdays. Parties and gifts and such are for children. This is not an indictment, this is truth. The look on a six year old's face when they rip open the paper is priceless, but at the same time I wonder if they would feel the same way if they were unaware of the materialistic goods out there.
Because this is the bottom line for me: I ask for gift cards...then I turn around and buy things for other people using them.
So what have we learned in this silly rambling?
1. Apparently I'm narcissistic enough to believe that I can write about myself, and you'll learn something.
2. Birthdays are fine until after you're twenty-one and then it becomes just another day.
3. Birthday parties and such are really for kids, but we have to be careful about what we do. Too much and kids become spoiled; too little and kids wonder what they did wrong.
4. That even though birthdays are just another day, the people whose birthday it is want a hug and want to be recognized.
5. Don't forget a loved one's birthday. If you have a memory issue, write it down. And say the words. Say them or write them, but let them know that you know.
6. I may have only a year to live....
Of course what do I know? I'm just a narcissistic cynic sitting alone at the end of his birthday wondering what will happen to me in the next 365 days. I could be wrong.
Namaste...and happy birthday John Cleese, Roberto Benigni, Dylan Thomas, Roy Lichtenstein, and Teddy Roosevelt.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I recently had this event.
About a week ago, I started to have a sharp pain on my side. It felt like I had pulled a muscle in my lower back or maybe one of my obliques. Now, unfortunately for me, I had to work the Homecoming dance, so, even with pain running through my body, I went to work.
The dance was pretty quiet except for two girls passing out from heat exhaustion (you have to be careful) and two kids having to be separated for being macho idiots.
In separating the kids, I thought I had pulled the muscle even worse than before. When I arrived home, my legs were hurting, and the pain was so bad in my back and side that I almost couldn't sleep that night. Verge of tears kind of pain we're talking here.
Sunday morning the fear starts to creep in a little. The pain is now throughout my whole body. My legs are hurting all over, my back is barking, and even my arms hurt. All very badly. I can't even pick up my son. That's how painful it is. Somehow I manage to help my wife with my son. Poozer was no amused when "Da-Da" couldn't lift him up.
Years of experience have taught me that muscle pain (if it is muscle pain) needs to be taken care of with heat. So a hot bath and a heating pad were on the menu. Unfortunately, the pain didn't get any better.
Monday morning I have to drag myself down the stairs to shower and get dressed. The pain was really bad, and I had a really hard time buttoning the shirt I was wearing. The pain had moved from my back to my arms and legs. It was so bad, that I had to...uh...remove the contents of my stomach. My wife was worried.
"Don't go to work."
"I have to," I replied.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I don't have everything set up for a sub."
After a moment of staring me up and down, my wife quietly said, "You're an idiot...but I love you."
It would get worse. I had a fever (101), and my left hand would go numb after my first period class.
With no options left, I went to the nurse and asked her for advice.
"Well, you have a fever (which I already knew), but your blood pressure is fine. So I have no idea why you're hand is numb."
After leaving the nurse's office, my right hand would begin to cramp up and go numb. The pain was so bad, I couldn't even hold a pen. This led to three problems:
1. Couldn't hold a pen, which meant I couldn't really grade.
2. Couldn't hold a piece of chalk, which meant I couldn't write on the board.
3. Couldn't type, which meant no entering of grades (or blogging).
I figured I needed another day, so I finished the day out and went home. Again, couldn't hold my son, couldn't walk, couldn't do anything. I could not, however, take Tuesday off. The kids were turning in journals, so I needed to be there. Plus, if I was going to go to a doctor and sit in an office for hours on end, I wanted something to read.
Maybe it's the German in me, but efficiency is key. I may have been sick, and I may have been in pain, but that doesn't mean I can't work.
As the son (no, not a misspelling) rose on Tuesday morning, I was in a bad way. The numbness and pain were still there, but now I had muscle fatigue. This is how bad it was:
Imagine a handshake. You grip the hand all the way around, but primarily from the bottom. I couldn't do that. The top part was ok, but the bottom wasn't. It felt like muscles in my arm were just hyper tense all the time. I would later find out that the problem area was also known as the Ulnar Nerve.
The issue with the muscle fatigue was that the mundane was now hard.
I couldn't open my car door with one hand; it took both hands.
I had to manipulate my body in a new way to get doors open, hold books, and more. I couldn't even hold a pen or type on a keyboard (hence the lack of posts for a while).
And yet I really did not want to see a doctor. Not because I was afraid of what it might be, but because I never have a good visit to my doctor. I never leave feeling satisfied. Still, with the pain and numbness getting worse, I had to go. So I begrudgingly took a sick day. Of course, before I would miss any work, I made sure the students would have work to do. Yes, Virginia, I am that mean of a teacher.
In the past I have talked about my doctor's office. Aside from making an appointment with him, however, I also made an appointment with a chiropractor. This would cover both bases. Either it was a misplaced disc or nerve, or I was really sick.
The first appointment was the chiropractor. I regaled him with stories about the pain and problems in my arms and legs.
It's never good when the guy looks at you and says, "I...I don't know what this could be." He started talking about "Bi-Lateral" and more. The entire time he kept staring at my arms as if they were encased in gold. As he took his little hammer and tapped my leg, nothing happened.
"Huh. That's strange."
He started tapping harder. Finally, after a few more tries, he looked at the knee, cocked his head, and said, "Oh. I've been tapping in the wrong place. Silly me."
He then tapped again and the leg spasmed.
"Lie down on the table," he said sweetly. "I'm going to adjust you...but I think this is viral. Honestly it looks like Lyme. Go to a doctor."
Then the cracking started. It didn't help.
The next stop was the clinic. I have explained before how I feel about doctors. So there I am sitting in the clinic waiting to see the doctor and get blood tests and I feel totally out of place. Everyone around me is an old person waiting to get a flu shot.
After a forty minutes of grading and waiting, the nurse comes up and mispronounces my name (not a shock at this point).
Five minutes in the small room which inlcuded getting weighed and chit-chat about random things (really, do I need to hear about your dying cat?), and I'm off to have blood taken.
Now this is an easy process. You sit in the table, they tie off your arm and stick the needle in, and then you wait while the blood flows.
The nurse was still telling me all about how her cat is dying and how her child is so upset. I politely nod. Unfortunately her mind is distracted, so she misses the vein the first time.
I guess it was supposed to hurt, but I didn't feel it. There's a bruise a little larger than a quarter on my right arm from her missing.
Three vials later, the nurse gives me that strange, "Hmm."
"What's wrong I ask?"
"Your blood is flowing really slowly. It might be a problem."
She takes the fourth vial which is the slow flowing one to the back. While she's in the back, a nurse comes by looking for my doctor.
"Have you seen him?" she asks.
"He's in that office," I reply.
She goes to talk to him. Though I couldn't hear it all, I caught the end of the conversation when he yells at her, "Figure it out! That's your JOB!"
My nurse returns. "I have to take two more vials. The last two apparently won't work."
"Ok," I reply. I don't really have a choice.
Again she puts the needle in (though she doesn't miss this time) and takes more blood. Again the blood flows really slowly.
"That's so weird," she comments.
Now, if you've ever donated blood, you know that there's a point where you can become dizzy. No food, no water, and blood being taken equals a woozy Ironic.
Time passes. I know I sat for a few minutes gaining my wits, then I left.
It wasn't until today that I got the news. My white blood cell count is down, so is my Vitamin D. It's not Lyme.
I need more sun, and I had some sort of virus that hit my nervous system.
The main issue with the doctor's office was my actual doctor. I was in the same room that I once dropped trousers in and was stared at from the parking ramp. My doctor listened to my story and just stared at me.
"Been bitten by a tick lately?"
"No," I replied."
"Hmm. How long have you been feeling sick?"
"Since Sunday," I said.
"And you're just coming here now?"
He sighed, finished his notes, and went into the hall.
Not completely muffled, I hear, "What the hell is this guy thinking? Why didn't he come in earlier? Why are some people stupid about health?"
I'm not feeling well, and I'm nervous, but this comment angers me, so I say out loud, "I can hear you, doctor."
Silence, then the swishing of pant legs moving quickly away from my door.
As you can tell from this post, I'm ok now. I still have some fatigue, but nothing too serious. I do need more sun, however.
It just saddens me how the medical world has changed. I honestly blame insurance companies and the modern idea of speed. We want a quick diagnosis so we can move on to the next thing. If a doctor tries to be personable, we become uneasy.
That which does not kill me can only make me stronger. Unfortunately, it can also makes us madder.
Then again, what do I know? I'm the patient in 305. I could be wrong.
Monday, October 15, 2007
So if you want to know why all your grades aren't in, this is why.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Need groceries? You can get them.
Need baby clothes? Just a couple aisles over.
Need an air mattress for that cousin coming to stay with you? Right this way.
It's wonderful and horrible at the same time. You can get everything you want, but it also makes you become dependant...and slightly angry when the materials you want aren't there.
There is another issue, however, that seems to occur to me all the time: People think I work in the store.
You see the school I work at has red as one of its colors. The first Tuesday of October, as part of Homecoming Week's "Jersey Day", I wore a red shirt underneath a red Minnesota Wild Jersey. My wife, son, and I needed to head to Target to pick up some groceries (diapers, bubble bath, etc...I like a clean kid...moving on). I took the jersey off and sported a nice, red polo shirt and khaki pants. This is otherwise known as the Target Uniform.
I knew it from the second I walked in to the store. Eyes immediately turned to me as if to try and figure out what I could do to help them.
I turned to my wife.
"I have to take off my shirt."
"What are you talking about," she replied.
"I'm wearing khakis and a red shirt. I can't lose the pants so I need to lose the shirt," I said and began to take the polo off.
"Leave it on." She was on the edge of being mortified as her husband was stripping in the middle of the store. "No one will bug you. Just LEAVE it ON!"
And as soon as the final syllable has left my wife's lips, the first questions start.
"Where do you guys keep the shampoo?" an older woman asks me.
"I don't work here," I replied. A second passes as her face let's this sink in.
"Oh...sorry. You just...you just look...like you work here."
"I know. Sorry...and shampoo is right there by the sign that says 'Shampoo', ma'am."
This woman shuffles off, but still others are starting to make way toward my wife, son, and I. My instincts tell me to get away, so I step on to the cart, push hard with the other foot, and begin gliding away. Imagine a two hundred pound man squealing like a small child as he flies past children's clothes.
You're probably smiling. My wife was not.
Throughout the next half an hour (who knew shopping took so long?), I was pulled aside many times for help. However, three of the times were by employees, which was fascinating and funny.
Employee 1: She pulled me aside to ask me, "Why aren't you wearing you're radio? It's a team job, you know?"
I smiled politely and said, "I don't work here."
She shook her head. "I've heard that before. Go to the back and get the hand cart."
I held up my hands. "No, I really don't work here. Look." And I reached into my pocket and produced my school badge to prove I was a teacher.
"Oh," she said, "Well...do you want a job here?"
Employee 2: My wife is looking at Halloween costumes for my son. (FYI: He will be a dinosaur this year. Yes, I will post a photo.) I feel a hand on my arm and suddenly I'm spun around by this guy.
"Where are you supposed to be?" Number Two asks obviously annoyed.
"I don't work here. I'm actually a shopper."
This news sinks in for a minute.
"Can I see your id?"
"Why?" I ask.
"Verification," he replies.
I show him my school ID. He takes it, picks up his radio, and calls someone.
"Yeah, Jerry. Do we have a 'Leab' on staff?"
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Making sure," he gruffs.
My wife rolls her eyes and says, "You had to wear red?"
The radio squelches. "There's no 'Leab' on staff."
A moment of silence as Number Two and I lock eyes.
"My ID, please," I say while pointing at the badge.
"Sorry, just had to make sure," Number Two says. He starts to turn and then adds, "In the future, sir, you shouldn't wear red in the store."
Employee 3: It's checkout time, and the Leab family is scanning its purchases. The gal behind the counter is quite jovial and is laughing at my jokes about the weather and such. She even guffaws when I pull out my signature line (not sharing that here...you won't laugh when you see me). As we finish ringing up, she hits all these buttons on the register and goes through screens I've never seen before. After a few seconds she says, "Your number?"
As I'm still in "smart-ass" mode, I say, "eight."
She punches in eight. "And the rest," she says.
"Oh you were serious," I say. "Numbers for what?"
"You're employee discount number," she says.
A moment passes in which a scene from My Blue Heaven plays in my head. Steve Martin's character (Vinnie) is supposed to give Rick Moranis' character (Barney) a social security number. He starts giving random numbers until Barney says, "Wait. That's too many numbers," and Vinnie replies: "Take off the 5."
I wondered if I could give numbers until she told me I had too many.
Of course I didn't even try. My wife and I laughed almost simultaneously. "He doesn't work here," my wife said.
"Oh," Number Three says. "It's just the red shirt and khakis. No one outside of Target employees usually wears...that."
This leads to one of the more interesting issues of our world. Regardless of the advice of NOT judging a book by its cover, we find it so much easier to truly look at someone and say, "I know you."
I'm guilty of it on certain levels. The way a kid dresses can tell me a lot about the group they hang out with on a regular basis, the kind of mindset he or she probably has, and how I should talk to him or her.
Kid wears all black, a Pantera shirt, and has tousled hair. Metal head. Will play video games and act weird for the hopes of attention.
Kid wears expensive name brands, is eager to announce his or her use of money, and plays a high profile sport. This kid wants the name recognition and is very competitive.
I could go on and on. Remember, I can read people, for better or worse, but we, as human beings, are about slight and quick judgements.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression we've been told. Why are first impressions so important? Because more often than not that's how we figure out what we will think.
I walk around Target in a red shirt and khakis, and the assumption is (and in some ways MUST BE) I work there. We are trained to see it, but we also make the leap.
Each of the employees I talked to only talked to me for a short time, but I can look at each of the three conversations and come up with a first impression.
1. Tired of dealing with lazy colleagues.
2. Unhappy and angry.
3. Good natured, but annoyed at ignorance/idiocy.
We would love, as human beings, to believe that we don't snap judge, but it's a way of life. It's why people are afraid to be near other people in dark alleys, why we avoid homeless folks, why we gravitate toward trusting good-looking people, and why we tend to move away from those we deem unattractive. This is why newscasters are supposed to be good-looking. We trust them from our snap judgements.
It's why teachers will wear suits on the first days...and why we aren't supposed to smile.
Then again what do I know? As a first impression, the adjective most likely to describe Leab is crazy. I could be wrong.
Monday, October 01, 2007
So, without further ado: GONE, BABY, GONE!
Last Wednesday was killer for my mouth. I ended up laying in a chair in my dentist's office for three hours. Three hours!
That's not the bad part.
I ended up having to get a root canal, because he made a mistake.
Still not the bad part.
The office's music got stuck on the best of the Bee Gees. I listened to Andy and Barry Gibb for close to three hours.
That's Hell, ladies and gentlemen.
When I die, I will have a really nice condo in Hell. A ton of space will be available to me. Then I will leave everyday to go to a pit where I will sit in a chair and listen to the Bee Gees for all of eternity. That's Hell.
Of course this is if I go to Hell, which my wife says I won't. How nice of her.
I was at my Dentist's office because I have a dying tooth. It's called Resorption. Essentially the living tissue in this particular tooth is being sucked back into the body. It's making the tooth hollow. At first my dentist said, "We'll probably have to pull and replace with a fake tooth."
This was not a good option in my mind. The thought of a screw being pressed into my jaw and a fake tooth being put on top of it made me...unhappy.
So I was in the chair as he began to drill. After a few minutes of high whirring sounds and the smell of burning, my dentist stopped. "I think," he said, "I can actually just put a filling in....If I can just stop this bleeding."
There are a couple of issues that hit at this point.
1. Blood pouring into the back of my throat from my gums.
2. My dentist quietly cursing under his breath.
3. The fact that the Novocaine was wearing off. (This would happen twice and would require more shots.)
It turns out that the dentist drilled too far and hit the root of the tooth. This would mean I would need a root canal.
So here I was lying in the chair, listening to "Staying Alive" for the fourth time, and raising my hand because my dentist nicked my toungue with the drill and it both hurt and bled.
While I was in there, I started to contemplate a few things. If dentists want to truly make patients happy, here are some ideas for the office.
A. Do something interesting with the ceiling. This is what the patients see most of the time. Whether it's for cleanings, surgeries, or exams, the patients stare up at the ceiling the whole time, so do the following:
* Paint an intricate picture. Have it be multilayered so we can truly contemplate it's depth and meaning.
* Put interesting quotes and sayings up there. We can contemplate life.
* This is the most gauche, but place a projector going up so we can look at ads or movies or different pieces.
We can't talk, and we can't move, so give us something.
B. Have a system that allows patients to bring their own music. Again, we have to sit there. You get to concentrate on working, so you shouldn't care. Let us bring music to calm us down.
C. Don't talk to us. I like talking to you. We can share some interesting ideas, but I can't talk when my tongue is being tied down and sharp instruments are in my mouth. It's...um...hard. Don't ask me my opinions or ideas about something when I cannot answer. It makes me feel bad that I can't truly answer for you. Then again, I could write. Give me a whiteboard and a marker, and I'll talk.
This is what I contemplated as I lay there.
My jaw hurt when I went home. I was no longer numb when I left the office. In fact, because I just wanted to get it over with, I never told the dentist that the Novovaine had worn off while he was putting the filling in my mouth. It was a new pain. I can now say I've felt it.
The other issue is that I didn't need the root canal at first. He nicked it, so I had to get it...and I had to PAY FOR IT! I had to pay for his mistake. I thought it was slightly unfair.
Dentists do get a bad rap. Most people will go to a doctor, but you talk about a dentist and people wig out. Heck, just the sound of the drill can put some people in the fetal position. I don't mind the dentist. They think I'm cursed, but I don't mind them.
My mouth still hurts, however.
Burn, Baby, Burn:
So the guy in Anoka burned a cross into his own lawn? Because he hates his neighbors? Wow, that's gutsy.
It gave me some ideas.
Maybe I should paste some yellow stars on my house and lawn and say my neighbors hate Jews.
Maybe I should TP my own house and say that they hate teachers.
Maybe I should smash the windows on my car and say they hate foreign cars.
I could go on and on.
It just amazes me the lengths that some people will go to in order to get attention or revenge. This event also saddens me. It shows how evil humans can be (sure, it also shows how stupid they can be, but that is neither nor there).
I also find it fascinating that no one is really talking about this.
This story also illustrates why people are so cynical about the world. Man cries out that he's been wronged. That he's been a victim of a hate crime...but he lied. How you can trust anyone when they keep crying wolf? It's no wonder that so many crimes and cries are not taken seriously....
It's All About...Us?
Have you seen these commercials for ESPN V-Cast?
They illustrate the egotistical nature of American culture today.
Each of the commercials, if you haven't seen them, deals with guys (and it's always guys) talking to a "sportscaster" about how they were able to use the phone in a public place. One guy, for example, talks about hiding behind his buddy at a wedding in order to check his fantasy scores. There's another one where the guy talks about hiding his phone at a funeral.
These commercials are supposed to be fun, but they come off as childish. They aren't the only ones.
Many commericals today deal with bandwagon propaganda. Everyone's doing it, so you should too!
Maybe it's just me.
Of course, what do I know? I'm the new pitchman for Tide. Get it out. We good? Where's my check? I could be wrong.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
How strange or odd some’er I bear myself
(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on)
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall note
That you know aught of me."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I didn't really think twice about what he wrote.
However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that he is right. Common courtesy is dying. Americans...check that...humans do not truly know what common courtesy is anymore.
About a week before school started, my wife and I took advantage of a business trip she had to take and now we are out on the East Coast. This, of course, meant traveling by plane.
Airports and air travel is insane now. Security pushes you through faster than a fast food joint, though they are just as surly. My wife was attempting to get her shoes off (and her belt...that was a new one) while holding our son. I was putting our bags (and her computer, which has to be pulled out and put in a bucket) on the belt. The TSA officer kept telling my wife, "You must go faster, Ma'am. You MUST go FASTER." If you're ever tried to do anything while holding a toddler, you know it's impossible to truly go faster.
I, meanwhile, am being talked about by the woman behind me.
"Could this guy TAKE UP anymore space?" she asked snarkily.
I let that one go. I was more concerned with my wife and son.
"I fucking hate people who just don't know how to fly," her friend says.
Let that one go too.
"Look at the woman with the kid," Snarky now says while indicating my wife. "I bet I sit near that bitch and her brat."
That's where my courtesy ends.
It doesn't take much to look like what I call a "flying idiot." As Snarky started to put her stuff behind mine I positioned my stuff at a slight angle. Then, when the conveyor belt started to take my stuff, I would have to reposition it. If you do it right, then the repostioning forces the first thing behind it to fall off the belt. In this case, her shoes and jacket plopped over the side into dust bunnies.
However, the real issue of common courtesy came at the gate. My son is now walking. At the time, however, he was still learning, so he needed to hold our hands for help. Being that we had a small child, we decided to board early for the first time ever. The three of us heard the call and walked up toward the gate with my son leading the way. Suddenly, a woman with a large stroller cut us off and knocked my son down. Then, as she wasn't paying attention, she ran over his hand. He started crying. The woman who knocked him down turned, looked at him then at my wife and I, and said, "Do something. He's upsetting my daughter."
I lost it.
"Apologize," I said.
"Excuse me?" she said.
"You ran over my son's hand and hurt him. Apologize for what you did."
"No. You should have had a better grip on him."
"You cut us off," I said.
"I was here first. Make him stop crying."
"Apologize or I will make a scene so crass and loud that people here will think you kicked him in the face."
She turned to the attendant and said, "Do something. This man is threatening me."
The attendant looked at her and said, "You did knock down his child. However, sir, you need to stop or I will remove you from this flight."
I took a deep breath when the attendant put her hand on my shoulder.
"Sir, you, your wife, and your son can board first since you're sitting away from this family."
We boarded, but it was a hollow victory. The woman felt no shame about knocking down an infant that wasn't hers.
The lack of courtesy is not just in the airport either
My wife and I took our breakfast from IHOP one morning last week. A woman paying her bill as asked if she liked everything. Instead of saying, "Thank you for asking but I didn't enjoy everything," she called over the manager and started to talk about how (and I quote), "The server is obviously retarded, the food tastes like ass, and your cleanliness is bad." The server asked what she could do to help, and the woman said, "You should quit, because you suck."
We waited a little longer and watched as a guy walked in and took a booth without permission. When the server asked him to move, the guy merely said, "Make me."
There's always the issues with cell phones. A guy in Barnes and Noble was screaming across the room tonight while on the phone.
I love going to the movie theatre, but I think I'm at the point where it's cost and the lack of courtesy from the people around me make me want to stay home.
People rarely hold doors anymore, and today's kids almost never show good manners and common courtesy. Hmm, maybe that's not fair. Some do show it, but most don't.
Then again maybe my issues with the world also stem from myself. I've been feeling like a lousy parent ever since school started back up last week. I have 200 students, so I have to grade. Unfortunately it means my grading has to come home with me. That means a few hours of work at night. My son looks to me to play and be with him, and I can't. That frustrates me.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"I paint," Van Gogh tells him, "because the sun compels me to." Kurosawa's Van Gogh also goes on to explain that he cut off his ear, because he could not get it right in the painting. As "I" chases the artist, he starts heading through the Van Gogh's rough sketches as the painter was approaching the end of his life.