Monday, December 21, 2009

Today's rant

All hail the myth of the lazy ass American student. Reading this article, I couldn’t help but think, that yes, there are lots of college students who spend too much time with their x-box hoohaa gadgety things and stay up late and party and don’t study like they should.

Then again, I’m sure some harried college professor could have written this same article in the 1950s and simply replaced x-box with crazy Elvis Presley rock and roll LPs. Do the foreign students who come to American colleges outperform American students and show more interest? I don’t necessarily doubt that. But that is not the same as saying that all foreign students outperform all American students. After all, the very small percentage of foreigners who are educated in the US are making tremendous sacrifices, traveling thousands of miles from home, often learning a new language and plopping themselves down in a foreign culture. Are the study habits of these very committed students the same as those who travel a couple of miles from the suburbs into St. Petersburg or Ho Chi Minh City Community College? If we take the reverse case, and look at the American students who travel to foreign countries to go to school, are they still the lazy video game players who can’t get shit done on time, or are they the ones who are dedicated and taking advantage of a rare opportunity?

Through the magic of Facebook, I am friends with two people who I have never met in person, who are probably on different ends of the political spectrum and live on different sides of the country. What do they have in common? They both teach at the college level? What else have I noticed about the two? They are both filled with praise for their students at the end of each semester.

Now I don’t doubt that all students could benefit from studying more, better time management, and a little time away from the beer and video games, but using a lame, age-old argument that’s probably been around since they popped the cork on the first keg of ale back in Harvard in 1640 is not going to convince me that the country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The weekend that was

We are almost recovered from our Saturday out in the belly of the beast, also known as the Market Basket on the Saturday before Christmas and the day before a snow storm. Oddly enough, it was far from the worst I have ever seen the place. Sure, negotiating the corners around the aisles still took nerves of steel, stopping to spend more than three seconds in any one spot meant some nearsighted 90 year old would ram a carriage up your ass, and a sleeping bag was probably still needed= if you were going to take a number at the deli, but over all, it was not the apocalyptic end of days I was expecting. Still, even the best of days at the Market Basket can leave you scrambling to figure out just how much whiskey you have left in the cupboard when you get home.

Just some other randomness to throw out there, as the year comes to its natural calendar-imposed conclusion, it seems as good a time as any to make lists, take stock, look ahead, look back, etc., etc., etc. Not tonight, but there should be enough evergreen topics to grasp onto in the coming weeks. (I know somebody in the EC household loves the resolutions.)

Stopped by the Used Book Superstore (in the Market Basket plaza, by the way) the other day, and picked up a couple books for the unbeatable low price of $1.99 each. The UB Superstore isn't the sort of place you necessarily go when you are looking for a specific title, but with a pretty big selection and way cheap prices, it's hard to not find something worthwhile. This week, I picked up Adventures in the Buddha, an anthology of western writers who have gone to the East to study Buddhism, and a Donald Hall poetry anthology. Once again, poetry, religion, both fertile topics for future episodes, but not tonight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today's report

1) So, there’s no half and half in the fridge at work today. Usually, when this happens, I am split down the middle as whether to drink my coffee black or add the nondairy creamer powder that comes in the industrial size BJs containers. Really, I should just stick to the black coffee in these situations. Even if I can’t really tell the difference in taste between the half and half and the powdered stuff, I inevitably spend my whole time drinking my coffee thinking “Wow, this stuff seems just like something that would cause cancer in lab rats.”

2) A good percentage of the time when I am debating the benefits and pitfalls of black coffee versus the white nondairy death powder at the coffee machine, there will be two or more of my coworkers discussing their fantasy football teams. I don’t know, I guess I don’t really get the appeal of fantasy football. It eats away at the concept of the team versus the individual when it comes to appreciating sports. Or maybe I just have enough other inane pursuits to eat up my day.

3) I need to read more. Books I mean. I’m thinking of coming up with some kind of position paper on my stance on Kindles and Nooks and other electronic book reading gizmo-type things. The Ludditte in me seems like they will never be able to replace the feeling you get from holding a tome of some weight and heft with actual moving pages in your hand, but the part of me that likes bright shiny things seems like it would love the chance to carry around a library of 100s of books in my back pocket and having instant access to hundreds of thousands of titles within a minute. Something to mutter to myself about at a future date, I suppose. Right now, I just need to read more books, no matter how they get to me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie DJ

As the cookie baking extravaganza in our kitchen rolls toward C Day, I have begun to comfortably settle into my role in the whole flour- and sugar-encrusted process.

I am the cookie baking DJ.

Yes, occasionally I am entrusted with some other ancillary duties, such as drying dishes, digging spatulas out of the baking drawer, or unwrapping Hershey Kisses from the foil for insertion on top of the peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies, but my primary responsibility is as the late night Youtubin’ DJ who finds and plays the tunes that keep the kitchen moving and grooving along. (At this point, I must also point out the important role KenNY plays as the sous DJ, following along, sometimes leading with his own awesome tunes [minus 311] that make the whole holiday baking experience even more groove-worthy. I am fairly certain that he is also at home, virtually drying virtual cookie sheets and virtually finding virtual spatulas in the virtual baking drawer as the baking evening progresses.)

So what lessons have we learned when it comes to mixing baking with music? Without a doubt, there has to be a big groove and some kind of danceable aspect to the baking music. Giant cookie success has been had thus far with the beats of old skool hip hop and classic ska and reggae. We have also discovered that while the Grateful Dead may be a good choice for baking some kinds of brownies, not so much for the kind of brownies that don’t make you hungry for Cheetos.

But, you might ask, why not just play Christmas music while making Christmas cookies? Good question, glad you asked. For one thing, there may be a burnout factor of having listened to too much Christmas music too early in the season, which can quickly numb the brain when the two radio stations that play Christmas music play the same 25 songs over and over. Plus, it is a total waste of my kitchen talents if all I do is turn on the radio and then stand around and hope there is a heavy volume of cookie sheets to dry and spatulas to be found. (At this point, I should mention that Ethan has actually spent more time than I have this year using the mixer, adding ingredients, etc. I take this only as a validation of my awesome skills as a kitchen DJ, and not a knock at my actual cooking and baking skills.)

You might also ask, at this point, with many cookies left to bake, has the well run dry? Let me just tell you, I am still filled with ideas. I am thinking there will be at least one night of big band swinging cookie baking fueled by the sounds of Frank, Dino, Tony, Al and the boys. When you are entrusted with such awesome baking responsibilities as I am, after all, you have to keep the ingredients fresh.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random thoughts, 12/15

Devils Night Radio, available online and on iTunes radio under the alternative stream, is the greatest thing since sliced radio bread. Is it too obvious to say commercial radio sucks? Well, okay, sometimes I am obvious, it sucks and is dying a tortured, drawn out death. Satellite radio, iTunes, Pandora, and Lastfm are all viable options, but there is still something about an actual radio program, station, programmed by real people that can surprise you in ways that listening to your own record, mp3 collection can't.

And the fact that there is a radio station out there streaming over the waves of the internet that will play Dean Martin, Fear, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, the Church, and the Real Kids within the same hour, and it wasn't programmed by me, warms my little musical heart, gives me hope that there is one small bastion of musical good taste holding strong against the forces of the GaGas, jonases, chris browns, ad whatever the hell sells for big time rocknroll these days.

I actually had higher hopes for this article about why one sports fan decided to pack it in, but it just kind of sat there and fizzled.

In short, I enjoy watching sports, but I do not belong to that segment of the sporting population that lives and dies by how the local team does. Red Sox on? Beats the hell out of three hours of reality crap programming on television. Red Sox blow a playoff game in astoundingly dumbfoundingly puzzling fashion? Well, I'll sleep tonight. The endless fascination over who will rotate in and out of left field or who will bat sixth during road games? Yeah, well, I've killed enough brain cells on my own and don't really feel the need to puzzle that one out in my spare time.