Monday, July 30th 2007

Where have I been?
posted @ 8:14 am in [ ]

Yeah, I didn’t post last week. I assure you that it’s not because I forgot I have a blog. I was working on a couple of articles and poking at a short story I wrote a while back.

One of the articles is based on the kinky math chapter of my dissertation and should show up in a special issue of Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences in January, barring any unforeseen disasters or unanticipated complete and total wrongness on my part. The other is a critique of Lonnie Athens’ theory of violentization, based on one of the first chapters of the diss. That one is (again, barring unforeseen disasters and wrongness) going into a special issue of Studies in Symbolic Interaction that’s being put together by Lonnie Athens himself. That one is due in the next couple of days. Whenever I get an email from him, I try to be all collegial and cool and all, but really I just want to scream, “Holy &#$@ing %$#*! I have a message from Lonnie Athens!”

The story is the serialized one I put up here in 2004. I’ve been consolidating it, checking it for consistency, changing some things around, stuff like that. I think I’d like to write more fiction soon. I missed it.

Friday, July 20th 2007

Grandma Lois: A Life Well Lived
posted @ 7:05 pm in [ ]

Phillip’s paternal grandmother died a couple of nights ago. She was in her mid-nineties, and was active and engaged her whole life. She was a terrific character. I’m glad I got to know her. I wrote this eulogy for Phillip to deliver at her funeral tomorrow.

We’re here today to celebrate a life truly well lived. Grandma Lois never wasted anything, and looking back on it as we do today, she made the most out of every moment, and every relationship in her 95 years.

Grandma Lois used her gifts well. She gave freely of herself to her family and community, and was truly creative, in the problems she solved and the practical and beautiful things she crafted with her gentle and capable hands. When she could no longer quilt, she still always had a rug going, and many of us here today have one of them in our favorite colors. She made it all look easy, even though she would comment that she didn’t know where her son Marvin got his artistic abilities.

As a grandmother, Grandma Lois was the best kind. She would let you eat ice cream at night and go to the pool every day. She was proud when you caught an 18-inch bass and she didn’t care if you got dirty before lunch—she’d just give you a bath. She’d make granddad bring fridge boxes home from deliveries for you to play with, and would pull toys out of the attic she’d had for 40 years. Always practical, Grandma Lois saved absolutely everything that was worth saving. I still have the Tinker Toys I played with, my older cousins played with before me, and my uncles and father played with before them. You always felt a little spoiled at Grandma’s, but you behaved yourself because she kept you in line, too.

She also did everything right. She raised 3 boys right (2 in the depression, 1 during wartime). They grew up to be 3 good men, good partners, husbands, uncles and fathers, all successful at what they chose to do. They raised their 5 kids right, and they in turn raised their 7 kids right. Part of Grandma Lois’ solid foundation of practicality was teaching her boys to cook, clean, and iron. She didn’t want her boys to be domestically useless, even if all of them would later earn advanced degrees. I learned those things, too, and I’m sure my cousins did.

When I think of how profound Grandma Lois’ love and legacy were for her family, I think most of my father, when he was heading a financial company back east. Grandma Lois’ values impacted that company in a very direct way, and I work by the same standards in my own professional life.

My father used to say to his staff, “Never bring me a deal I can’t show my mother.”

“I don’t know your mother,” one staffer once countered.

“You know me,” he replied.

So strong are those governing values within us all that to know us is truly to know a part of Grandma Lois. Be nice to people. Faith and hard work are the cornerstones of a good life. A strong home life and a good education help you put your gifts to work, and they honor the faith and family that gave them to you. Do what you say you’re going to do, and give it your all. Doing good things may well come back to you, but it’s always rewarding in the present—easy things often aren’t. And maybe even: marrying someone who is smarter than you and probably tougher than you makes you a better man, not a weaker one.

The legacy of her values and our memories, as well as the example of Grandma Lois’ well-lived life, give us a blueprint for doing everything right, too. May we all live such long, good lives that touch so many, if only to make her proud of us.

Tuesday, July 17th 2007

Evil Lair staffing
posted @ 8:48 am in [ ]

Well, the evil lair is pretty well staffed at this point, with one exception: I still don’t have an evil bodyman. True, I have mad organizational skills, but I can’t do it all… The quest continues, but here are all the nice — I mean — evil folks who have been installed thus far. Of course, we will create a position for the right applicant.

Evil R&D: Josh H. Evil
Evil Publicity: Melissa R. Evil

Evil Engineering and Maintenance: Derek S. Evil
Evil Hospitality and Reception: Chris P. Evil

Evil Litigation and Accounting: Robert Z. Evil, Esq. (in negotiations
Evil Ballistics, Explosives and Security: Tommy S. Evil

Evil Pastry Chef: Michael M. Evil

Evil Animal Husbandry: Sparky J. Evil

Evil Transportation: Scott U. Evil

Evil Real Estate and Development: Zen S. Evil (in negotiations)
Evil Personal Valet: still open!
Evil Interior Design and Propaganda: Jese E. K. Evil

Evil IT Support: Wookie D. Evil

Evil Housekeeping: My mom

Evil Union Shop Steward: Phillip S. Evil

Friday, July 13th 2007

Enlightenment pills?
posted @ 10:43 am in [ ]

Since my suggestion yesterday about getting President Asshat some enlightenment pills, a few of you have asked about the nature of said prescription. They’re actually from a joke, which I will now impart to you, and apologize beforehand: I’m sorry. Now, then:

A man goes to a guru and says to him, “How can I be more enlightened?”

The guru gives him a small prescription bottle and says, “Take one of these every day.” Elated that the fix is so quick, the man takes the bottle and begins taking the contents. After a week or so, he returns to the guru.

“I don’t know if these pills are helping,” he says. “And they seem to be an awful lot like rabbit crap.”

“See?” Says the guru. “You’re getting more enlightened already!”

Thursday, July 12th 2007

You’re fired, President Asshat!
posted @ 8:35 am in [ ]

I’m here watching the presidential news conference right now, and I can’t believe the total lack of common sense the chucklehead-in-chief is displaying. I really can’t believe how much he seems to believe what he’s saying — it doesn’t even seem to pass the most basic test of logic, or for that matter, junior high school civics. As usual, I’m horrified and yelling at the TV screen. Eventually, the clever sarcastic quips subside and I have to revert to, “You’re fired! You are SO fired!”

“You know what we should do?” Phillip suggests. “We should all underpay our taxes by $1, or whatever part of our taxes goes to his salary.” What a fine idea. I’d like to send my dollar to Helen Thomas, myself. Thanks, Helen, for your efforts to save the republic! If enough of us did that, she could get a tidy little bonus. I don’t want to pay the presidential expenses, either, unless they’re things like foreign policy textbooks (allow me to make some recommendations!) or enlightenment pills.

Monday, July 9th 2007

Sucky metabolism bullying research
posted @ 3:32 pm in [ - ]

Today I went to a few different gyms (and one dance studio) and talked to a personal trainer. I looked at lots and lots of facilities, asked tons of questions, told everybody what I want to do. I’m going to meet the nice personal trainer lady in the morning. She has both an athletic and a dance background, so it seems like a great match. She’s experienced and not annoyingly perky or anything. I’ll let you know how it goes. I also got myself a new pair of hand weights. I’m looking forward to kicking my own butt into shape.

Saturday, July 7th 2007

I grapple with my sucky metabolism
posted @ 4:53 pm in [ - ]

It’s true: I have a sucky metabolism. Once upon a time it would not have been sucky; it would have saved me from starvation during successive terrible famines by simply slowing down to adapt to whatever nourishment it would get and making do. Apparently, most of my forebears survived such famines in this way, because here in the modern era, where we tend to eat daily, much of my family struggles with dieting and general chubbiness. It’s hard for any of us to stay trim. Except my dad, who survives on coffee and cigarettes like a hummingbird does on nectar. But he’s, you know, a freak. I got his hands and his chin and his lower-back birthmark — why the hell not his metabolism?! I didn’t get my mom’s fabulous gams, either. If only the gene pool were more like a cafeteria.

Additionally, I made this sucky metabolism even suckier with a years-long eating disorder in my teens and early twenties, with a bunch of yo-yo dieting (subsequent and concurrent) thrown in for good measure. So my metabolism is pretty much sucky and busted forever, but I can’t trade it in for another, like a sh*tbox rusted out Honda to which you lost the title years ago. You may recall that I had a string of injuries over the last few years, got squishy, and have been taking off the squish and getting back into shape. I succeeded in removing the vast majority of squish, getting back to my preferred size range, and riding my bike just about as often as I’d like, but these last months have been a real struggle. I’ve mostly worked super hard to ride four days a week and maintain a miniscule caloric intake with not a whole lot of payoff at all. Damn non-hummingbird sucky metabolism!

So there’s only one thing to do: Bully the sucky metabolism with exercise. The times when I’ve been happiest with my body have involved many weekly hours of exercise that I managed to enjoy somehow. With the added challenge of aging, which was not at all my plan in any way, I think the only thing to do is a ton of cardio and weight training. I’ve spent the last few days looking for a good, cheap gym to join. I’ve been resisting (no pun intended) getting one of those huge balls, because I think they only look fun if you can throw them around, and that’s just not an option in my house. I can’t say exactly what it is that annoys me about them. It might be the trendiness factor, or the fact that even one would pose a serious storage problem, and a few would transform my house into a Chuck E. Cheese-esque ball pit for grownups.

Denver has a whole bunch of these terrific little rec centers, which are dirt cheap, one of which is even close to my house. The Y also seems to be pretty reasonable, and includes a consult with a trainer and a customized training program. Surprisingly, DU’s fitness center is pretty good. I’ve been calling it the Bitchy Illness Center (instead of the Ritchie Wellness Center) for so long, I wasn’t prepared to be impressed with the value, or with the subsiding of the previously pervasive bitchy illin’. I tried a nearby branch of 24 Hour Fitness yesterday, but had an incredibly bad sales experience and split, taking my business with me. Their fitness manager was so fantastic, though, that I haven’t entirely ruled out a return.

I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, July 6th 2007

Spambot takes a holiday
posted @ 7:16 am in [ ]

Over the last couple of days, my comment spam dropped off sharply, but it’s right back up now. Apparently, even spambots take the 4th of July off. That just cracks me up. Did they all go out to a spambot barbecue? Take a drive to the lake? Just relax and read the paper? Set off some illegal fireworks? Just what does a spambot do on its day off? And why doesn’t it do that on weekends — just holidays? It’s a mystery.

Thursday, July 5th 2007

My glamourous life
posted @ 1:43 pm in [ ]

So what’s going on these days? Well, I’m looking for whole frickin’ career, as you know. I’m at the stage at the moment where I’m updating various profiles on various websites and doing career worksheets and stuff. I’m also trying to figure out how to get my odd dissertation published. In the meantime, I have a couple of article manuscripts due in the coming weeks, so at least some publication is happening while I sort out my first book. I’m also beginning to return to other things I just want to do.

For example, I’m a terrible pool player, but I think I could be better with practice, because I have good hand-eye coordination, and I get the whole angle-of-incidence-equals-angle-of-reflection thing. I have a couple of books and a weekly practice reminder. I used to really like to do puzzles, so I have some puzzles on the agenda. I’ve started picking up sewing projects where I left off. I need a short brown skirt in the worst way, for example, and I’ve had the fabric for many moons — just a matter of putting it all together. I’ve decided to learn to play chess, too. Someone started teaching me almost 20 years ago. He won the first game, I won the next five, and he would never play with me again. I have always thought, though, that I might be able to be good at it. So I got myself a chessboard with some plastic pieces and, of course, a book.

So that’s pretty much what I’m up to: working on my articles (details to follow), looking for a career, figuring out how the first book should work, and trying to remember how to do things I like just because I like them.