Tuesday, April 24, 2007
When I turned 21, I was attending an elite university and my dreams of pursuing a career in sanitation technology seemed just as out of reach as they were when I was a child.
Shortly after my 21st birthday my friends from Loyola threw a house party. I took an inordinate amount of birthday shots and ended up departing around 4 in the morning in an excessively drunken state. After saying my goodbyes I grabbed a road beer and headed to the street to hail a cab. In the dark of the Baltimore night I was unable to properly see the cars as they approached but after several minutes I saw a car coming my way with a light on its hood. I stepped out into the street, threw my hand up in the air, and realized I had just hailed a cop car.
As I recall it, one of the cops was a reasonable guy while the other was really something of a prick. The "bad cop" started writing up a ticket for an open container which sent me into a rant which included the words "it's not like there's any real crime going on in Baltimore," which set the bad cop off and the good cop was forced to step in to restore order.
After several minutes and some well place humor I had gotten on the good side of the cops to the point where they both laughed when I asked if they could change the "Busch Lite" on the ticket to a Heineken. Unfortunately this did not keep them from issuing the ticket which required me to be in court several weeks later.
The day of my court appearance I waited in the halls of a sterile Baltimore courthouse for upwards of four hours before finally getting my case called. I was then offered to have the ticket removed from my record in exchange for 5 hours of community service. I accepted the "plea" and was issued the 5 hours at the "Department of Public Works - Solid" the following Friday at 7 am.
That Friday, I woke up to my alarm blaring at 6:00 am and felt like the grim specter of death. I had not spent many 6 am's awake in my college career and the few that I had did not include sleep prior to that dreadful hour.
I got showered, got breakfasted and started on a 2 mile walk to the "Department of Public Works - Solid."
When I arrived I was sent into a trailer and forced to sit with the type of people who inhabit Pimlico race track on Tuesday afternoons. If there was a hell, I was not far from it.
After half an hour, a gum chewing woman with hair as big as her body called me into her office and introduced me to a black dude named Allen. I shook hands with Allen, was told I was going to be working with him that day and was tossed a jumpsuit and gloves. Allen and I then walked outside where he told me to put on the gloves and suit and "hop on". Initially, I didn't know what Allen was talking about but after looking up at him I noticed he was talking about the gigantic yellow garbage truck parked across the street.
I felt like the Yankees had just won the World Series while I was drinking a Guinness, smoking a Cohiba and eating lobster. It was miraculous.
I quickly put on my jumpsuit, ran over to the truck and hopped on the back (attempting to hide my glee the entire time because Allen was a full-time garbageman and did not seem to be a fan of his profession). As luck would have it, the first area where we were picking up garbage was Charles Village, a mere 2 minute walk from the Hopkins campus. I was in heaven. Not only was I fulfilling a life long dream but it also occurred to me that someone I know might see me and think that I had become a garbageman (I don't actually know if this happened but the mere thought of it was enough to delight me).
The end of the day was somewhat less exciting as we moved further and further into shady neighborhoods but all in all the day was a wondrous experience and the fulfillment of a life long dream all thanks to an open can of Busch Lite.
Side note: Several years later I was out drinking with coworkers when apparently the jones to dispose other peoples garbage caught me again. As the story goes, I was standing across the street from them when they saw me hop on a garbage truck that then drove around the corner. I have no recollection of the event and woke up in my room the next day without any idea as to how I had gotten there.
Monday, April 23, 2007
A recurring question I've had, while dealing with all this nonsense, is why companies invest in this type of advertisement? Seeing a Tide advertisement as my computer dies a slow death certainly doesn't inspire an interest in their fabric softener. I understand the head of advertising for Tide isn't likely involved with some shady computer hacker but somewhere along the line some one from Tide is paying some one from Shady Comp Hacker inc. and as a result some one (eg, me) will no longer be purchasing Tide products. It just doesn't seem like effective product placement to have an ad pop up on my computer screen moments before it inexplicably turns black.
In other news the Kremlin recently took over Russia's largest independent radio news network and mandated that at least 50% of the news they broadcast about Russia be "positive". This made me wonder if the radio network was allowed to consider that story "positive news". I spent some time studying Russian media relations last year and it's really a nightmare. I do not envy their journalists.
This is a really compelling story that unfortunately is just a story. I do appreciate that it is posted on a website called the Conservative Voice; every now and then I catch a glimpse of the concept of limited government within the conservative movement in the US. It's rare but there is a voice or two out there that calls for deregulation.
Finally, I had a thought while watching Capote for the second time recently that I think is worthwhile. A professor of mine was showing selections from the film and as a lead in, mentioned that "In Cold Blood" was Capote's first venture into the world of non-fiction. Through that lens, I re-watched the first hour or so and realized that the book wasn't really non-fiction at all, not in Capote's world anyway. Capote was an amoral individual (and perhaps unethical although I would prefer if aethical were a word) who essentially played the puppeteer to real life people in the film. He fed his subject (Perry Smith) to keep him alive and then obtained legal services for him in an attempt to have his execution stayed. Yet Capote does all of this in an entirely self-interested way. I'm convinced that he never felt an ounce of emotion or compassion for Smith. It's like Smith is a character in a Capote book, who is enough a creation of his own that Capote can't dictate exactly what he does and says, but he can place him in situations in order to advance the plot line.
Through this line of thought I decided that a benevolent God can only exist in a world in which humans have free will but that is another post entirely...Be back on the morrow.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
This seems remarkably inappropriate but I suppose that's what Fox News is for. I just wish they would remove the "News" from their name. Here (http://thinkprogress.org/2007/04/16/daily-show-fox-knowledge/) is a link to something that does well to illustrate Fox New's typical audience member. I've yet to stop at a rest stop on my drive from Syracuse to NYC that hasn't been showing Fox News. Something to think about.
Be back soon with a tale of sanitation redemption.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
a magazine titled PC in which our crack staff of ethnically diverse reporters write stories informing "out races" about matters of "in races". So for instance we would have a black reporter get the inside story on how native born Asians pick their Americanized names when they come to the states and the struggle of deciding to go with an "American" name to begin with. Or Hispanics could interview white people about why many of us hold allegiances to the countries of our distant relatives despite never being there or even knowing people from there. The magazine would also include a series of racially insensitive jokes at the beginning of each issue as a way of informing our audience what to be offended by. I think this idea has legs.
And I really do.
Every time a racially charged event occurs, thousands of politicians, columnists, pundits and talking heads call for an "honest discussion of race in this country," and I don't even think they know what that means. I certainly don't, or didn't, until I had this idea. I mean a truly honest conversation about race in this country can only take place when we admit to ourselves that there are things about large portions of other races that we do not understand. Once we are informed about these matters we become far better equipped to interact with one another with civility and understanding.
Plus the magazine would be funny as hell.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Also, according to this article - which is actually really interesting - my new neighbors include the Hilton and Marriot chains in addition to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (who moved up there already). So, fingers crossed I'll be building that lunar dream home sooner rather than later (I hope I have a water view).
I've posted the above video in honor of the Wood Memorial which was held this past weekend (I got smoked in the Wood but ended the day up about $50). Honestly, you don't have to be a horse racing fan to enjoy the clip, it’s truly a remarkable video (it had me in tears the first time I saw it although I think the alcohol and music played a part as well). I probably could have rode Secratariat to victory that day. Also, the last minute or so features footage compiled in a way that could only describe as beasteorotic - really high comedy. Till tomorrow
Friday, April 6, 2007
I mean like a wildly disproportionate amount of Asians.
This wasn't really a positive or a negative; it was just something that struck me as different. I grew up in a town that was whiter than loose-leaf and the change in atmosphere was conspicuous.
I took particular note of the cliquishness with which many Asian students seemed to socialize (In retrospect I imagine they thought the same thing of many of the white males at Hopkins but hindsight is always 20/20). It bothered me for a variety of reasons, most notably that I found myself attracted to a number of my Asian classmates.
As time passed I found my inability to crack the impenetrable shield of the Asian clique to be quite disheartening. I went through three full academic years and a trip to Tokyo -between freshman and sophomore year - without ever hooking up with a single Asian female (the trip to Tokyo is the only time I will ever regret hooking up with a 19 year old blond chick from North Carolina, without a doubt).
By the fall of senior year, I was fairly well convinced that my attraction to Asian women was forever to go unrequited, and then out of nowhere, it happened. I met a real cute girl on the dance floor of my fraternity house one Saturday evening. She was from Hong Kong and we ended up spending the evening with one another, drinking wine and discussing our philosophical and theological influences (David Hume and Thomas Aquinas primarily) then passed out in a blaze of passion.
When we woke the next morning, she reminded me that she went to the University of Rochester (a fact that she apparently had informed me of the evening prior but that I had inexplicably forgotten) and that she had to be on her way. Heartbroken, I walked her to her car, wished her the best in all her future endeavors, told her to call me if she was ever back in Baltimore and bid her farewell.
That Monday I had class from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening. The class was Business Ethics (not an oxy moron I learned) and the professor was a bit of a stickler, so I made certain to turn off my cell phone ringer before class. The three hour class passed slowly but uneventfully and on the walk home I pulled out my phone to check for missed calls/messages.
I would be lying if I didn't say that I was surprised to see five missed calls from the same unknown area code within a half an hour time span. Confused, I decided to wait a day to return the calls.
When I phoned on Tuesday, AC apologized for the flurry of calls from the night before and informed me that she would be returning to Baltimore that very weekend. This was highly unusual as Rochester is at least a 6 hour drive from Baltimore. I told her we could hang out Friday night but Saturday was my sister’s birthday so I would be spending it with her and her friends (quick thinking bullshit).
AC arrived at my place at around 8 on Friday evening in good spirits and full of enthusiasm for an evening out on the town. Unfortunately, that town was DC. She and her friends had made plans to go see Tiesto (a famous trance DJ) spin at a club in DC called the Nation. This would have been fine except she wanted me to go with them. By this point in my college career I had already gone through a club-scene-phase and was not interested in that type of nonsense but her continual coaxing finally got me to cave.
Her 3 friends arrived at my house at around 10:30 and the five of us walked to her car. The AC-mobile was a black Volkswagan Beetle with standard transmission. Unfortunately, she and I had both drank too much to drive and her friends (two girls and a guy) didn't have any experience driving standard. The guy ended up giving it a try but right when we got to one of the really shady neighborhoods in Baltimore he burned the clutch. So There I was, with 3 Asian women (all about 5'4) and one Asian dude (somewhere around 5'8) in the middle of East Baltimore standing next to a broken down Volkswagen Beetle. This was a nightmare
.I called Hopkins security and upon hearing of our location they dispatched a security van immediately. Thankfully the van arrived in short order and we headed back to my house for the evening.
The following morning we woke up around noon, an hour before the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were to play Florida State. ND was something like 7-0 at the time and I was really fired up for the game. AC said she understood that I wanted to watch the game but asked if she could make breakfast for the two of us. Not one to deny home cooked meals I agreed and we went to the supermarket to buy food.
She collected a good $35 worth of food and when we got to the checkout counter there was a wordless showdown as the cashier rang up the total. Finally she reached into her purse and pulled out a credit card (this seems somewhat crass to me now considering the night before her car had incurred several thousand dollars worth of damage, but I had planned on spending about $5 on breakfast and was dumbfounded by the amount of food she had purchased).
We went back to my apartment and I set her up with the supplies to cook the vegetable soup she had planned. Coincidentally, the only pot we had that was large enough to cook the soup was a wok. When my roommate awoke, several minutes after she began cooking, he stepped out of his room to see a diminutive Asian woman cooking on a wok in our kitchen. The look on his face as he stepped into the common room could not be accurately described even if I devoted another 5,000 word post to it, it was truly magical.
We had the soup (which was actually quite good), watched the game (ND won) and then prepared for AC's departure. Unfortunately, when AC called her friend she failed to answer the phone call. This meant that she had nowhere to go until her friend called her back. This meant that she was going to have to stay at my apartment until her friend called her back. This meant that I was going to have to get prepared to go out for my sister’s imaginary birthday until her friend called her back. This meant that after a shower, a button down and a nice pair of pants I was going to walk up two flights of stairs and wait in a friend’s apartment until AC left my apartment.
I was up there for like an hour and a half. Every 30 minutes or so I sent a friend down to see if she had left yet, it was ridiculous. Finally she departed and I felt as though I had gotten my life back. I spent the evening bar hopping downtown with a couple friends and then returned to the local Hopkins bar for a night cap whereupon I re-encountered AC.
She had been talking to a friend of mine (Bretters) and they seemed to be hitting it off. I said hi then got involved in several other conversations. About 30 mins later Bretters came up to me and asked what the deal was with AC. I told him that we had hooked up but if she wanted to go home with him, who was I to stand in the way of true love. Bretters, being the drunken retard that he is went back up to AC and asked if she wanted to leave. She replied that she was with me, to which he said, “Oh no, I just talked to GG, he said he was cool with it,” this did not go over well with AC.
The tears flowed like water through the Yangtze. I was completely baffled by this outporing of emotion from a girl I had met one week prior and spent a total of 15 hours with. I walked her back to my apartment, explained to her the misunderstanding and eventually calmed her down enough to go to sleep (I refused her attempts to re-engage our passion). The next day, we shared an awkward wakeup, talked things out a bit more and then I took her to the bus station for her return trip to Rochester, never to see her again.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
First; media outlets officially need to rethink their business model. The bottom line (pun not initially intended but then realized and appreciated) is that piracy is no longer an anomaly, it's the norm, and until media outlets start to capitalize on the explosion of "illegal" viewers, they'll continue to suffer setbacks. (That link is much cooler than the argument that followed, trust me click on it, you will not be disappointed).
Second; I had thought that this website was more well known but I mentioned it in a class today and not a soul knew of it. I certainly don't consider myself beholden to the thoughts of critics and I don't recommend anyone else be, but the site is a cool way to get informed about what people are talking about and what may capture your own interest.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
These are some comically bad (?) exam answers that do well to express desires we've all had from time to time. I really like the "Find X" answer myself. In the interest of full disclosure, every time a question is posed to me in a similar format I take at least a couple minutes to answer in a comical fashion before addressing the real crux of the matter. I'm a T.A. btw.
(Sports related disclaimer)
I think Florida's victory in yesterday's national championship game is interesting for a variety of reasons but primarily due to the questions surrounding Billy Donovan's departure from UF.
I've heard allot of talking heads discussing the need for Donovan to leave UF because the school has no basketball tradition. They claim he'll forever play second fiddle to the football program at Florida. I do not dispute the importance of football at Florida however a look at Duke's history prior to Coach K's rise to prominence suggests that a basketball legacy can be made in a relatively short period of time.
From 1970 (around the time when the NCAA tournament became the top dog of postseason play) until 1986 the Blue Devils only made 1 final four appearance. They were by no means the program we have all come to know and hate in its current incarnation.
I think Donovan, with his recruiting abilities and coaching supremacy, can create a similar legacy at UF. There are no rules against a school having two dominant programs, and with Donovan at the helm there is no reason to believe UF can't be that program.
I'll be back tomorrow with a tale of magnificent deviance.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
This is from the MTV show The State, that ran in the mid-90's. It was a really clever show that ran during a time when MTV still did some compelling programming as well as play music from time to time.