Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Quotes from President Bush's press conference today

Seriously.

"If diplomacy is the wrong approach, I guess that means military. That's how I view it as either diplomacy or military. I am for the diplomacy approach," he said. "And for those who say we ought to be using our military to stop a problem, I would say that while all options are on the table, we've still got a ways to go to solve this diplomatically."

"...that's the issue before us, and that is whether or not we use taxpayers' money to destroy life. ... I don't believe we should."

Was his name... Fek?

It's one of the eternal ironies of graduate school that despite the close association of faculty and student, they often experience the same department in radically different ways. This comes out in a number of venues, ranging from the qualifying exam process, which is often seen as a ridiculous hoop by faculty and an imposing challenge by students, as well as in regular meetings with one's advisor. It is this last experience with which I identify most strongly.

Yet, in another way, grad school provides deep insights into human nature if you are observant enough to notice. Some students may spend years neglected and virtually forgotten by their nominal advisors, only to be showered with attention when said advisor needs someone to do grunt work like writing statistical code. Despite our frequent distaste for economists and their rational actor models (Tom Bozzo being a notable exception who, doubtless, remains crunchy in milk) they do sometimes fit the bill rather nicely.

Alternatively, some students may find themselves toiling on a faculty project for years, logging such a vast stockpile of research hours that their own skills in the area become razor-sharp. Yet, when it comes time to publish, their name has somehow dropped in the authorship list from second, to third, to god knows what, or even into the accursed limbo of the acknowledgements section.

Finally, there are those students who find themselves constantly buried in the sisyphean task of teaching. The grading, and lesson plans, and office hours surrounding them so that some ambitious younger faculty member can publish, while at the same time guaranteeing that their poor advisee shall perish.

Such thoughts have been swirling through my mind since I saw the new Star Wars movie with its emphasis on the Sith Lords. I wonder if grad students and faculty have something in common with Sith Lords and their Apprentices. Like Sith Apprentices, we grad students obey our lords faculty because we hunger after their wisdom, and knowledge of the ways of the force (i.e. "Funding"). Similarly, those same Sith Lords faculty employ us because, despite their vast power, they require someone to do the actual dirty work to carry out their vicious schemes. The parallel seems not entirely inaccurate to me. I do, however, wonder about a further parallel: like Sith Apprentices, must we too assassinate our masters in order to become Lords ourselves? Must we lie, cheat, steal, or perhaps use telekinetic powers to crush the windpipes of our foes, if we are to, dare I say it, graduate? I'm not sure, one way or another, but I will tell you this:

If my advisor starts wearing flowing robes and referring to me as "Darth Drek," I'm fucking dropping out.

UPDATE: Does Jorge Cham read my blog? Judging by his newest strip you might think so. If we came up with this comparison independently, however, I think it says some disturbing things about grad school.

Monday, May 30, 2005

There's spam, and then there's this...

Having just returned from a lengthy trip to the alternate dimension known as "Washington D.C." (And those of you who have lived there know of what I speak- any road system collectively developed by two states and the federal government must, almost by definition, be capable of channeling an Old One through the sheer force of despair it generates) I am currently involved in a battle to regain control of my e-mail inbox. I refer to this as a "battle" because hordes of spammers routinely harass me with all manner of offers I could have no conceivable interest in. I would raise my spam shields more thoroughly, but I am unfortunately friendly with certain individuals who insist on both using sketchy e-mail accounts and/or subject lines, and are similarly incapable of picking up a goddamn phone. You bastards know who you are. So, I have no choice but to keep my delete key at the ready whenever I consult my electronic oracle.

In any case, while wading through the detritus clogging my inbox I ran across what might be the single most disturbing internet "quiz" I've ever seen. Needless to say, with a lead-in like that, I am compelled to provide a link. Allow me to warn, however, that this is most assuredly not work safe. It is, however, something I would like to invite comment on by bloggers with a bit more time for analysis than I do at present.

I think I will, in keeping with that invitation, limit myself to remarking that I find it interesting that people are being encouraged to try to tell something that is natural from something that is enhanced- particularly in light of the fact that naturally occurring examples that fit the "ideal type" are so rare as to be virtually impossible. It creates a heinous sort of double-bind where if one is not naturally blessed, there is no recourse but to take a chance on an unnatural, and apparently undervalued, alternative. Or, at the same time, to simply accept imperfection in the first place. What a charming machine for generating insecurity and self-doubt.

I'd say it also nicely shows off what sort of pigs we have roaming the internet, but that's a separate issue.

And having said that, I'm off to continue my work. For those of you to whom I owe e-mail, rest assured that I will get around to you. Sometime. Probably.

Right.

For anyone who is curious, I scored a 6 out of 12 and feel no particular need to develop such a worthless skill any farther.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Scene from an Airport...

The Setting: An airport baggage claim where a small boy, perhaps at the tender age of 11, is playing on a luggage carousel. He hangs his buttocks precariously over the sliding metal plates of the belt. Eventually he settles onto the device, riding a distance on the interlaved steel plates. His parents look on unconcerndedly. Nearby Drek and his sainted girlfriend (MSGf) watch and wait for their bags.

Drek: You know what the best kind of selection is?

MSGf: What?

Drek: Natural selection.

Yep, folks, we've returned from our trip. You can look forward to a resumption of my blogging just as soon as I get around to it.

And isn't THAT just an informative promise?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ok, seriously, where am I again?

Howdy boys and girls and welcome to another exciting installment of Total Drek where we ask the question: Wait, what just happened?

If you're wondering why I'm in such a tizzy, and why I'm using words like "tizzy," it's because I've been wandering all over Virginia with My Sainted Girlfriend for the past few days. Specifically we managed to visit Williamsburg, home of the College of William & Mary (To which I would provide a link if this computer were displaying the blogger control panel properly. Take what you can get people, all right?), Jamestown, home of not a goddamn thing, Yorktown, where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War, and Virginia Beach, home of a barbecue joint named "Frankie's" which does not provide a good value in their two-dollar side salads. MSGf was particularly vexed by that realization.

I've also managed to deal with a succession of tired, poorly-paid, and ornery Indian hoteliers. This leads me to remark: no, motherfucker, the website says "cancellation before 6 PM" not "cancellation 48 hours in advance." Argue with your own corporate folks, not me.

Today, after returning from north of Richmond and running into one of the most interesting advertising efforts I think I've ever seen (more on that later- as in, "when I can download pictures from my camera") MSGf and I visited the Smithsonian's Natural History Mueseum, and then went for dinner and dessert in Dupont Circle. For those in the D.C. area, allow me to strongly recommend the restautant/coffee bar "Cosi." Reasonably priced and quite tasty. Also: the on-table s'mores thing is pretty nifty. Unlike me, however, I recommend that you not trip over a chain fence and fall on the concrete. Yes, folks, my lithe, cat-like reflexes really served me well this evening. After recovering, however, we managed a pleasant evening stroll on the mall which, it turns out, is rather well populated by teenagers once the sun goes down. Who knew?

Why am I sharing all this in a live-journal sort of way? Well, I don't have anything else to share right now, and figured I may as well vomit this horseshit out upon thee. Don't you feel lucky? More to the point- don't you wonder why you bother to read any of this crap to start with?

Indeed you do, as well you should. More serious posting will have to await my return. However, in the meantime, allow me to promise you a special treat.

Slag was passing through D.C. while I was around and we managed to meet up. More interestingly, we managed to get a picture taken. When I return home and can download pictures, I promise the first ever Slag/Drek photo. Stay tuned, things can only get more thrilling with time.

Of course, that's a little like pointing out that the television program "Baywatch Nights" had nowhere to go but up.

And as long as we're on the subject, did you know that an actress from the popular series "Law & Order" actually starred on Baywatch Nights? Did you care? Do I care? Fuck no, I'm just rambling because I'm tired.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Live from Washington D.C.- It's SUNDAY NIGHT!!!

Well hello, folks. Despite expectations to the contrary, I have indeed managed to find a way to blog from the road. Specifically, a good friend of mine has loaned me her computer to use to feed my crushing addiction to pointless drivel.

Today has been exciting- a journey in sight-seeing in which My Sainted Girlfriend and I viewed the museums and monuments accessible from the Mall in four hours or less. So, basically, we hardly saw a damned thing, but have sore feet anyway. Such is life when you visit D.C.

I'd write more, seeing as how you won't get another chance to "enjoy" my perspective on things for a few days, but I really just don't care. Or, then again, maybe it has to do with MSGf and her desire to blog about... something? I don't know exactly what, but given the occasional giggling emanating from her side of the room, I think we're all in for a treat.

Or not. Who knows? Maybe I'm making her up? After all, what sort of woman would consort with the likes of me?

The answer, obviously, is: that's why I refer to her as sainted. How else could she put up with so much Drek?

So, without further ado:

The Word According to Drek's Sainted Girlfriend

Despite what you all may think, I do not in fact, think of myself as sainted, but I am not going to stand in Drek's way if he wants to call me that. : ) And you all may speculate for yourselves about the reasons why we are together...

So, I have been wanting to write about something lately, and since Drek asked me a little while ago if I'd like to blog tonight, I decided to give it a go. So, here goes...

I live in a climate that gets quite warm for many months out of the year, as do quite a few locations in the U.S. I obviously chose to move there for graduate school, and will flee away to another part of the country as soon as I graduate. However, there are lots of people who move there for the beauty. I get this - there are places I definitely want to move for the beauty too. The problem is that these people are the same people who complain when it gets hot in our town, which is inevitable in the summer. I was speaking with a woman from the South about this just the other day. She was telling me how she was going to hide inside the following weekend to avoid the heat. I did not question the soundness of her logic in deciding to stay inside, but I guess I'm just confused about why you would move to a place you find beautiful only to spend your time indoors. I'd much rather move to a place that has a climate I don't have to hide from, and leave it at that.

With that being said, I will close my first post on Drek's blog. I realize this hasn't been that exciting a post, but it's been on my mind, and so now I've subjected you to it as well. But from what I can tell, that's what blogs are for...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Is that a baton, or are you just happy to see me?

Thanks to the ever-popular Alan Schussman I have been passed a musical baton. Far be it for me to not make use of a pre-made blog post, so here goes.

Total Volume of Music on my Computer: Well, that depends. On my computer itself I have about 1.1 gigabytes of music. Most of my music, however, is stored on an external hard-drive that I can move between the office and home. That device has about 2.69 gigabytes of music. I'm well aware that makes me a musical feather-weight, which is fine with me. I build computers inside of mini-fridges for crying out loud! My discretionary income, such as it is, obviously finds its way into other projects.

Last CD I bought: Lest We Forget, Marilyn Manson

Song playing right now: Superhero, Aaron Bilodeau

Five songs I listen to a lot, or mean a lot to me:

(1) Sorrow, Bad Religion. Best Pro-Atheism, anti-Christianity alternative you can find.

(2) Dragula [Hot Rod Herman Remix], Rob Zombie. A kickass deathmetal/techno fusion tune- quite appropriate for freeway driving at three in the morning.

(3) The Long Way Home, Norah Jones. Long story. Don't ask.

(4) He's Got an Answer, Letters to Cleo. How can anyone not like a song that asks, "If you want to know about landlocked countries in Asia under the strongarmed hold of Buddhists," and then answers, "It's Nepal!"

(5) What a Feeling, Heather Nova. Some of us have been to the edge. Some have been over it. And some of us have managed to come back.

And, now comes the most tiresome of exercises:

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton:

Hazel
Belle Reve
J Autumn
Shakha
Dorotha

Are we all satisfied now?

Well, I hope so, because it's gonna have to hold you for a while. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I will be departing this weekend on a magical journey to a place known as Washington D.C. Am I going to overthrow the government? To protest the actions of the Bush Administration? To check out the newest exhibits at the National Air & Space Museum?

Nah. I'm taking a brief vacation with My Sainted Girlfriend which will include stops in D.C., which she's never seen and where I used to live, in Jamestown, where we can get our history on, and in the Williamsburg area. Then, at the conclusion, we'll attend the graduation of a very, very good friend of mine from Law School. Yes, folks, this means that when the inevitable law suits begin, I will have a ready source of legal advice. I am now, truly, invincible.

With luck I'll be able to post occasionally from the road, but I wouldn't bet on it. I'll likely have better things to do with my time which, given the sort of luck I tend to have on trips, will include, but not be limited to: running from an enraged and well-armed doctor from Tennessee, trying not to get mugged, apologizing to enraged parents for singing the theme song to Team America: World Police (America: FUCK YEAH!) on the steps of the Capitol building, trying not to get anyone hurt when I do get mugged, getting lost in Arlington even though I used to live there, and arguing with local hoteliers about just what, exactly, the phrase "free continental breakfast," means in light of the fact that MSGf is a smidge cranky in the morning until she's eaten.

It should be an interesting trip.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thank you?

You know, under normal circumstances, I really wouldn't know how to feel about Brayden calling me sexy.

Upsides and downsides.

Normally I don't post things that might be regarded as particularly favorable towards half-assed technophobic environmentalism. This is because, while I am something of an environmentalist, I belong to the "better living through technology" branch of the movement. However, in this one case, I'll make an exception for this charming little movie: Grocery Store Wars. It finally answers the question: can a cucumber act more skillfully than Mark Hamill?

While watching, however, please keep a few things in mind: irradiated food is quite safe, there's no reason whatsoever to assume that organic farming is, indeed, more sustainable than mechanized agriculture, and that advances in farming technology are all that have allowed us to develop our civilization to the extent that we have people with sufficient leisure time to bitch about mechanized farming.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The city is, indeed, rather sinful.

Last night a couple of friends- meaning HyRo and the non-annoying-guy- (which I now realize with considerable amusement can be abbreviated NAG) and I went to see the movie Sin City at one of our local cheap theatres. For those who are interested, this film is based off of the comics of one Frank Miller, who is in no way responsible for other Sin Cities you may find online.

So what is this movie like? Well, in a nutshell, it's superb. I went in expecting, at best, a mediocre experience. This is both because it is a comic-to-movie conversion, which typically isn't a fruitful endeavour, and because it's more or less within the noir genre of film. Don't get me wrong, film noir is pretty neat when done properly, but it is distressingly difficult to do properly. Nevertheless, Sin City manages to both accomplish a decent comic-to-film transition, and faithfully reproduce film noir, all at once.

Moreover, the writing is simply excellent. The character narration ranges back and forth from dramatic, to melodramatic, to comic, to absurd, to reasonable, often within the same paragraph. This is definitely a thinking person's movie, including such convoluted lines as, "I'm about as good at calming scared a 19 year-old as a a palsy vistim is at doing brain surgery with a pipe wrench." That's a far cry from typical action movie fare like Arnold's "You're luggage," or Casper's "Kill 'em all!" This is a movie written by, and for, people who are in love with language.

Beyond the writing, the movie has a certain style that at first jars, but then satisfies. The vast majority of the film is shot in a smooth-grained black and white, with color added to particular features, like eyes, dresses, or hair, to emphasize characters. Excellent use is also made of reverse colors, and stark white-on-black animation. Added to all this is excellent acting, and action sequences that even self-indulgent fuckjob Quentin Tarantino, a guest director on the film, couldn't screw up. In short: this is a movie that does everything right, so long as you don't object to nudity, violence, lots of dialogue, more violence, black and white photography, unrealistic feats of strength, and copious amounts of violence.

Oh, and it's a little violent. And bloody. And gruesome.

So, if you think you have the stomach for it, I strongly recommend you go see Sin City, especially now that it is at second run theatres and can be seen on the big screen for a reasonable price. It might turn your stomach at times, if you're faint of heart, but it's an experience that nobody should miss.

Just don't blame me if you have screaming nightmares featuring Elijah Wood. That little hobbit is one freaky bastard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm surprised it took this long.

Folks who pay attention to the younguns over at Wisconversation (Yes, I know that isn't what they call it, but I like the name I use for reasons I've made quite clear) may have noticed a rather interesting little discussion taking place in their comments.

To wit, a senior undergraduate and aspiring Wisconsin sociology grad student is asking if the department is really as craptacular as it appears, based on the Wisconversation blog. So far the answers consist of, "No, it isn't, go read our formal recruitment materials," and, "Merciful god, yes, it sucks, run for the hills." I have no idea which of these is accurate, nor do I give much of a crap, but I do wonder why it's taken so long for this to happen. It was more or less inevitable that blogging play a role in how our departments are seen by those who do web searches on sociology- and that means aspiring grad students, among others.

If the Sconnie blog starts impacting recruitment, I suspect that the faculty might get interested. And that will cast the entire discussion of anonymity in blogging into a new light. Maybe we're about to find out if blogging can have real world consequences after all.

A New Blogging Innovation...

The problem with blogging is there's no easy way to produce a filler episode. I mean, you might get busy, or need to spend more time at work that month, but does the blogging world slow down? Nope. Unlike television shows, however, there's no easy way to produce a flashback episode. You know- an episode that consists mostly of old footage with, perhaps, ten minutes of new material added on for flavor. Sure, it's the audio-visual equivalent of a plate of leftovers with tabasco sauce thrown on top, but it's still a meal. Of sorts. Yes, it is indeed a shame there isn't a way to do this with blogs.

Or is there? I do, after all, have lots and lots of archives. I do, after all, have a distinct paragraph structure. Maybe there actually is a way to do a flashback episode. You wanna find out?

Well too fucking bad, because we're going to anyway.



Before we begin, I'd just like to thank Brayden King for his welcome to the world of blogging. Then again, I guess it's only fair since he's the one that talked me into this.

As you all know, I'm a grad student in Sociology. Or, well, as you all should know if you keep reading this crap, since it says so right up there in my profile. Now, Sociology is perhaps not one of the most respected of sciences, probably owing to the fact that our models provide quite a bit less predictive power than the models used by other scientists in other fields. As such, we frequently seem to take shit from our bretheren in the sciences about whether or not we're a "real" science.

Of those fellow scientists who mock us, probably the worst are the physicists. We've all had the experience, encountering one of those paragons of physical law with their "strong nuclear force" and "gravity" and "thermodynamics" nonsense. Well la-dee-dah! Whatever our level of annoyance with them, however, we must concede that they have developed a very impressive science with considerable explanatory power. Or, so we've all been led to believe. It has recently come to my attention that, perhaps, physics is not in as strong a position as it would like.

In short, our ability to feel and express an amount of conflict is a unifying, rather than divisive, force because it allows different and largely incompatible people to exist within the same social structure. Further, on a more fundamental level, conflict is itself a type of social relation thus implying engagement. Such engagement is necessary for any social structure to endure. Conflict, in a sociological sense, is then likely preferrable to indifference, which signals a lack of engagement. A very similar argument is made in Simmel's essay on money, in which he observes that money both unifies a society (by allowing wider and more intricate commerce) and divides it (by making exchange relations impersonal). Such a dual view of something that is often considered intrinsically bad seems to me to be more scientific than perspectives that prejudge an outcome in moral terms. The relevant issue is to figure out what functions a given thing has, and what consequences are generated by its normal functioning. Decisions as to the desirability of those elements can come later.

As a side note: This may actually be something of a problem in certain cases. My mother used to teach 1st grade and once had a child who would zone out in class. This, by itself, was not all that strange. What was strange was the series of hand movements he would make while zoned. The entire situation was confusing since, besides this behavior, he didn't exhibit any of the classic signs of autism or other similar disorders. Eventually she realized, and confirmed via the boy, that he was playing Nintendo in his head. The hand movements were essentially replicas of what his fingers would be doing on the controller if he were actually playing.

Many, many people seem to access their faith, and god, through fear of doing something wrong. These are the people that constantly search for wisdom in the bible, who obsessively pursue scripture, who seek to erradicate those who believe differently from them, and who determinedly avoid perspectives other than their own. These people see their salvation as stemming from an unthinking, unwavering devotion to the authoritative structure of the church and their religion. Questioning and divergence are unacceptable because they are afraid that by questioning, or doing something not explicitly condoned by religion, that they will offend god and damn themselves. These poor people are like the child who has been beaten repeatedly: their every action, their every thought, is bent to avoid the wrath of a powerful other. They live to assauge their own fear of making a mistake. They are locked into a prison of their faith, and feel constantly insecure because their own moral worth is dependent on adhering to a set of boundaries that are marked in invisible ink. It is, then, no surprise that my questions about coloring on canvas were slapped down- I was doing the thing that is not permitted above all others. I was suggesting we do something a different way. Yes, I was asking about crayons and canvas, but habits are habits, and for some questions are always bad.

The funny thing is, though, that I have another reason for loving Halloween. I refer, obviously, to candy. Halloween is a night when we are supposed to pelt children in costumes with all manner of sugary treats. One wonders how this ever became popular, since each piece of candy likely translates in some linear, or even curvilinear, fashion into hours of lost sleep and frustration for parents, but what would society be without irrational passive-aggressive holidays? Now, I love pelting children with things as much as the next guy, so this is one practice I can really get behind. When I was a camp counselor, I was once told by the camp nurse to pelt the crap out of my charges with a sock full of cornstarch to prevent heat rash, so I know how cathartic a solid pelting can be. Yet, in four years at my current apartment, I have come to understand that there aren't any kids around here. Seriously. Usually, I only see a few kids belonging to other grad students. This year I saw but a single child, dressed up as a witch, and was otherwise undisturbed the entire evening.

Now, I agree that the apparent disinterest in facts present among the general population is of concern, but I don't agree that facts are not helpful in a battle against misinformation. People, indeed, seem to be powerfully concerned about whether or not they are being lied to. If you ask a random person, "Do you mind being lied to," they will likely answer, "yes." The prevalence of sensationalist talk shows in which men and women take lie detector tests to uncover infidelity shows that there is a powerful public interest in what is fact, and what is fiction. A battle between misinformation and facts is tantamount to a battle between lies and truths.

Since returning home I have gone shooting with one of my good friends, who might safely be referred to as a "gun nut." During this trip to the range I had the chance to fire off six different types of rifles (ranging from a bolt-action .30-06, to a semi-automatic .223) as well as three different pistols (ranging from .45 caliber to 9mm). If we had more time, my friend doubtless would have brought along his two black powder smoothbores, which start at .55 caliber and go up from there. Needless to say, it was an exciting day in which we discovered that I am a better shot with a pistol than many of the security guards who practice on my friend's range. Since this was the first time I had fired a pistol, none of you should feel particularly pleased about this.



So, did everyone enjoy this little bit of potpourri? No? Okay. That's fine too.

And you thought I was incoherent before!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Oma ist nicht da!

For those of you who do not speak German (and that likely includes most of you since, while I do have a foreign readership, most favor other languages) the title of this post means "Grandmother is not here."

Well, I say it does. Babelfish claims it means something along the lines of "not there Granny is," but I think that might be a tad off. In any case, this particular phrase will always be burned into my memory thanks to my foreign language "training" in high school. I say "training" because my education in German was roughly as effective as my education in mime. If any of you are suddenly picturing me in whiteface and a striped shirt, let me assure you that you're stupid.

Anyway, my training in the German language included a series of helpful audio cassettes recorded sometime during the fifties. These cassettes featured a perky German family known as the Baumanns. I suppose they were good people but I can't really say as I never spoke enough German to follow their conversations past the first tape, which was helpfully named "Oma ist nicht da." Needless to say, it focussed on the family's dawning realization that Oma was, in fact, nicht da. It was hard to miss this realization since it was repeated more times over the course of the tape than a commercial for Cialis during an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not working my way around to the assertion that my own grandmother isn't here. All of my grandparents are, in fact, presently dead, and I don't expect that state of affairs to change anytime soon. For the record, I do love and miss my grandparents, I simply don't wish to see them turn into various forms of the undead like vampires, zombies, or, god forbid, something even more terrible. No, it is not my grandmother who is not here, but rather my mother, or as the Germans would say, "Meine Mutter ist nicht hier." Needless to say this means that my mother was here recently.

Oh, boy, was she. In a divergence from norm, she recently decided to visit me, in the process driving me up a goddamn wall. Well, the visit was the divergence from norm- the driving me up a fucking wall part is fairly standard. Why is this, you ask? Well, you see, my mother is a wonderful woman who is unable to show affection save through purchasing random shit, and criticizing my driving. So, after having had my dear mum here for a week, I am now the proud owner of more toilet paper than I can ever conceive of using, and am driving extremely defensively. At least this year I came up with the idea of having my mother buy my friends and associates crap, like a meal, so as to hit her "I've expressed my love" dollar amount threshold, and shut down the wackiness. Regrettably a similar tactic doesn't seem viable when it comes to the whole driving thing, but we can work on that in the future.

The real hero of this past week, though, was not me, nor my loser friends, but rather My Sainted Girlfriend. I refer to her as such because she braved multiple repeated contacts with the bundle of insanity from whose loins I sprang. She did so with grace, aplomb, and no small amount of charm, despite the fact that my mother is a staunch Republican and my girlfriend really isn't. So, having emerged alive and well from my recent close encounter of the maternal kind, I just want to extend my thanks and appreciation to MSGf: you're amazing, and really made the time go by much more smoothly. I owe you.

Big time.

Or, as the Germans would say:

Meine Freundin ist sehr viel intelligenter, lustiger, und attraktiver als Ihre. Es sei denn d.h. sind Sie eine gerade Frau oder ein homosexueller Mann, in diesem Fall lassen uns gerechtes Sagen, dem ich sie wirklich mag und es an dem lasse.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pretty much the case here too.

This installment of David Willis' Shortpacked! more or less explains why my officemates hate and fear my occasional non sequitur.

It's a scary, scary thing.

And as long as we're on the subject of "Things we don't want to hear about," we need to discuss the new Star Wars movie: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Folks, I am a Star Wars nut. I mean, really and truly. When I was a small boy I read one of those picture book/audio cassette combinations so many times, I could recite the entire thing- with sound effects- from memory. I know this because my parents have a damned video tape of me doing it, which I am certain will surface if I ever choose to run for president. Not that it'll matter, since an Atheist has about the same chance of making president in this country as I do of turning my penis into a pogo stick and jumping over the moon. But I digress...

Really, the thing I want to say is this: it's coming out today, I promised a friend of mine that I'd see it with her when my girlfriend and I go see her graduate from law school, and so there's going to be a bit of period in which people could... ummm... let things slip. So just give me a break here, okay? This is probably the last new Star Wars film that's ever going to be.

Unless George Lucas has his way with that "Adventures of Jar-Jar" crap I keep hearing rumors about.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Interesting...

I love the United States Postal Service. No, really, I do. This is in no small part because, despite all the crap they take, studies clearly indicate that they are one of the best governmental postal systems in the world. Yet, all the same, they occasionally do things that I find really bizarre, and really amusing. The last time, it was a rather odd little flyer encouraging people to keep their dogs under control. The weirdness of this flyer was not lost on the kids over at Something Awful who provided an adequate send-up.

Well, those wacky postal workers are at it again. This time, it's a rather entertaining little flyer that is apparently warning parents not to let their super-powerful children steal mail trucks. Well, it doesn't quite say that but I think the meaning of the picture is fairly clear. Super-children are running amok and it is only a matter of time until federal employees are threatened. Clearly, we must act.

Or, then again, maybe we should just feel lucky that the Postal Service can't hire graphic artists with enough skill to not provide us with hours of unintended enjoyment.

Thank god for the USPS!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Madness of HyRo Antagonist

Those of you who are of the literary persuasion may recognize the title of this post as a reference to the character "Hiro Protagonist" from Neal Stephenson's excellent book Snow Crash. You would indeed be correct if you speculated that this is where I derived the notion for this title, though you will undoubtedly be disappointed by the far lesser quality of my writing in comparison to Stephenson's. Not that this will, in any way, come as a surprise. Nevertheless, we must press forward as we always do.

I do not mean, however, to refer to Hiro, the protagonist of Stephenson's story, but rather to HyRo, who is the antagonist of my own. I refer, of course, to my Hypothetical Roommate here, who can be abbreviated as HyRo in a move to save my poor aching fingers from having to type such a long-ass nickname every time I refer to him. In any case, HyRo has been harassing me for some time to write a very particular blog post. He has asked during walks to the student union, "When are you going to write that Travelocity post?" He has asked at random moments in our office, "When are you going to write that Travelocity post?" He has asked during his infrequent visits to our (?) apartment, "When are you going to write that Travelocity post?" Doubtless, when he sees this, he will ask me: "When are you going to write that Travelocity post?" Given how long he's been asking me, since the incident during which I first said I would write a post about Travelocity (back in February), I think I should finally answer HyRo's query. And that answer is this:

Right goddamn now you goat-fucker! Now will you please shut the hell up?! I'm tempted to tell everyone that one really embarrassing story just to pay you back for months of acute annoyance! And you goddamn well know what story I mean, as does everyone who goes to the sports bar with us. Don't make me explain, you won't like it.

But I digress...

I have, indeed, been meaning to write a post for some time about the bargain travel website Travelocity. This website- HyRo, my officemate, and I have discovered- is an excellent way to economize on travel expenses. An excellent way, that is, assuming that you don't mind being ass-rammed by a faceless bureaucracy with no more concern for your well-being than a tiger has for a lamb with a steak stabled to its forehead.

For the staggeringly simple-minded in the audience, that isn't very much.

I say this because of an uncomfortable discovery we made. During our recent Misery Journey we stayed in the Ramadan hotel. Okay, technically it was a Ramada, but I do enjoy renaming things from time to time. In any case, we made arranagements for four people to stay in the relevant Remadan near the destination of our misery journey. These arrangements were made through, as you might have guessed, Travelocity.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, Travelocity didn't make those arrangements. It made arrangements for two of us to stay there, pocketed the excess cash, and left us to work out the situation with several irate hoteliers. You see, as I said, Travelocity is a very economical way to make travel plans, but it appears that this is because Travelocity doesn't necessarily make the plans you think it's making. It may, in fact, make an entirely different set of plans and take the money you thought was destined for something else. I'm not business man, nor a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure they refer to that as fraud. Let me repeat that, I think the term "Fraud," defined as, "A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain," applies in a situation where a company offers to sell a particular item, accepts money for aforementioned item, and then, and this is the critical part, doesn't provide said item. I wouldn't be very upset about this but, as it turns out, Hoteliers can be quite pissy.

So, take it from me, and HyRo, and my officemate: if you must travel, don't use Travelocity. Instead, if you must use a website, use Expedia, or Sidestep, or, if you're a fan of William Shatner, go with Priceline. Just don't go with Travelocity.

Unless, of course, like HyRo, you enjoy anal sex with Hoteliers. Man, if it hadn't been for HyRo and his amazing colon, we would have been sleeping outdoors.

Thanks again, Buddy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Just a thought, but...

I appreciate Jeremy's concerns about his seduction style, but I'm fairly sure that my own results call the validity of the entire test into question:





Your Seduction Style: Ideal Lover





You seduce people by tapping into their dreams and desires.
And because of this sensitivity, you can be the ideal lover for anyone you seek.
You are a shapeshifter - bringing romance, adventure, spirituality to relationships.
It all depends on who your with, and what their vision of a perfect relationship is.





I mean, seriously, were these people high when they wrote up this test? Sensitivity? Spirituality? Just... wow.

And yes, this is the extent of my blogging for the day. I have a longer, better post partly written, but no time just now to finish. Tomorrow maybe?

We'll see.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More fun with the youth group.

Drek: So, what's your father like, Emma?

Emma: He's a total redneck. I hate him.

Drek: Really? He's a redneck?

Emma: Yeah. Have you seen his truck? It's huge! It all takes diesel and stuff. All the other people at church, they're like, 'I forgot to charge my car last night,' and there he is with this truck that's, like, twice as tall as anyone else's.

Drek's Girlfriend: I don't think that makes him a redneck, though.

Emma: He is! Have you seen those sunglasses he wears?

Drek's Girlfriend: Yeah, they look fine.

Emma: They look stupid! They all wrap around his face like, bwulorgh! [As an editorial note: I really don't know how to spell the sound she made at this point.] His old ones were cool, all square. They made him look like Bono. Hey, there he is now.

Drek and company take a look.

Drek: Emma, he's a redneck like I'm Boston brahmin.

Emma: I thought you were from Florida?

Drek: Right. I keep forgetting that.

This conversation has been modified somewhat for continuity and flow... and because if I try to pepper "like" into my writing as liberally as teenagers seem to use it, I'm fairly sure my third grade teacher will suddenly appear for the sole purpose of bitch-slapping me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Total Drek Guide: Funny/Not Funny

I spent part of this weekend helping my girlfriend with the youth group at her church. Yes, I'm entirely serious. She's been participating in the coming-of-age activities for some of the late middle school age members, and due to her affection for me did not see my involvement as the recipe for disaster that it obviously is. As a result of this experience, I just want to provide y'all with the following handy quick reference guide to humor. Please keep in mind that all of the following jokes were suppled by members of the youth group.

Funny: sort of...

You know that Rolling Stones song, Hey, you, get offa my cloud? Well, they had some problems marketing it in Scotland- people out there kept thinking it should go, "Hey, McLeod, got offa my ewe!"

Minimally Funny:

Q: What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?

A: Finding half a worm in your apple.

Not Funny:

Q: What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?

A: The Holocaust.

Please just keep this in mind whenever you feel the urge to tell a joke.

PLEASE.

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