Friday, February 27, 2009

Mathematical Musings: XIV

More profoundly shallow dribble from my math classes
  • I got a note from a student’s parent the other day that said, “Please excuse ‘so and so’s’ tardy. We were running late.” I wrote a note back saying, “Please excuse my incredulity, I was in disbelief.”
  • OK! It’s 2 in the afternoon in a Calculus class. I have one question to ask: Who’s makin’ bacon? I’m starting to salivate, and it’s not over this math problem!
  • I realize the test is a little long, but I promise I will give you sufficient time to incomplete it.
  • The janitor outside uses his shoe to remove scuff marks from the floor. When he’s hard at it, his sneakers squeak so much, you’d swear he was playing a game of one-on-none with himself.
  • Student: Will you write me a letter of Recommendation? Korpi: Sure, but it all depends on what you want me to recommend you for. Tell you what, you write one, and I might sign it. Thanks. By the way, I’ll need it by tomorrow.
  • The 3-dimensional Moebius Torus is a twist on the 2-D Moebius Strip.
  • Time, Money, and Quality are three competing resources. You can usually have only two of them at the expense of the third.
  • Today we will be starting a Calculus lesson on Optimization. I am going to try to cram as much information as possible into the lesson in the allotted amount of time.
  • As your understanding of the second derivative matures, your knowledge will increase at an increasing rate, meaning, it will be concave up.
  • Patience now, patience. There are plenty of exams to go around. In fact, there are so many questions on this test, we can make two or three out of them.
  • The test is not long, only eleven and a half inches down each of the 5 pages on which it is typed--8 point narrow font . . .
  • If the radius of the coke can was as large as it could be, the height would be zero. What I’d get from the Coke machine wouldn’t be a can at all, it would be two large aluminum disks sandwiched around an infinitely thin layer of air. But I don’t want a sandwich! I’m not hungry, I’m thirsty, and that’s why I tried to buy Coke.
  • There is a much easier way to do this problem if you would just quit making it so difficult.
  • As much as it hurts to get hit by rocks, I think it would hurt even more to get hit by frozen rocks.
  • I can't even imagine being chapped to death. I need my Carmex just thinking about it.
  • Your indefinite integral needs to be more definitive.
  • Just in case you all didn’t know, here’s some mathematical trivia: Zero is neither positive, nor is it negative. It is neutral. It’s the numerical equivalent of Switzerland.
  • We used to have an organ growing up, but my mom ended up giving it to Goodwill. She said it was a very noble thing to be an organ donor.
  • When I die, I’m going to leave my Pianos to Goodwill and my Organs to Science.
  • When I say “jump,” you say “how high?” When I say, “don’t jump,” you don’t say, “how low?”
  • Do you know that our school board just spent almost 40 grand on a consultant just to tell them how they can save money? Doesn’t that seem odd to you? I always knew that it took money to make money, but apparently now it takes money to save money.
  • I wouldn’t call Precalculus a breeze. A strong Gale, though, I would, perhaps a furious hurricane.
  • Of course I’m not going to read your Calculus Christmas Carol to the entire class, Carols are written to be SUNG!
  • Bye! Have an edible Lunch (as students leave the class to go to lunch.)
  • So far, in my 29 short years, I have successfully avoided death. On some Friday nights in high school, I also successfully avoided having a life.
  • When all else fails, hit all the buttons at once.
  • Call me Korpi Klaus, bringer of Glad Tidings and Mathematical Merriment.
  • When we go Calculus Caroling, it won’t work unless we all sing, but even then it probably still won’t, but I want everyone to try, so if you get embarrassed easily, pretend that you don’t.
  • Hello class, we are the AP calculus class, and we are about to sing some Christmas carols like you’ve never heard . . Believe me!!!! Please save all your jeering until the very end.
  • It’s funny that you heard us caroling and came running to see what it was. It’s usually the other way around.
  • Hello, we are the AP calculus class, and we are going to sing some modified Christmas Carols for you. So if you are planning to take Calculus in the future, you have something to look forward to. To succeed in Calculus, you not only need to be good at math, but you must have a high tolerance for public ridicule.
  • Your test will be multiple choice, but not on Scantron. If you write your answer choices straight down the left-hand side of your paper, I can grade them just as quickly. I usually have the letter sequence memorized by the third paper. I usually make some type of word out of them, for example: “AahBeBeCeEeeAahAahBeCeeDahDahAahEeeCeDah”
  • While speaking with the Principal this morning, totally against my will, I discovered two ways to avoid speaking to him altogether. All you have to do is one of the following: Discuss something intelligent with him – or – speak with a sense of humor. He hates them both, apparently.
  • As a potential author of several books, I don’t care if people read the books I haven’t written, as long as they buy them.
  • I will now pass around this small package of table salt. When it comes to you, please remove only one grain from the package, because what I have to tell you, I want you to take with a grain of salt: “I only have one packet to share among all of us. Hard to believe, I know.”
  • Student: “How long has it been taking the other classes to finish the test?” Korpi: “Oh, about 28 questions.”
  • Korpi: “Hey, I just found a dollar bill out in the hall. This must be my lucky day!” Student: “Oh, that’s mine I just dropped it.” Korpi: “Really! Ok, then, can you describe what it looks like?” Student: “Yes, it’s green and has a picture of George Washington on the front.” Korpi: “Oh, so close. I’m sorry, though. This one is green, too, but it has a picture of George Washington on the back, not the front.”
  • Any positive number is bigger than any negative number, for example, one is much bigger than negative one million.
  • The definite integral gives the NET area, not necessarily the gross area. For example, in this problem there are 4 inches below the x-axis and 1 square inch above the x-axis. If I was looking to carpet this area, I would need to order 4+1=5 square inches of carpet, which is hardly worth ordering to begin with. However, the definite integral gives us the net area: the area below the x-axis is negative, and positive above, so the net area is negative 4 plus one which is negative 3 square inches. That amount of carpet would be even harder to order.
  • Bye, Bye. Have fun with that math homework. Do all you want; I’ll make more.
  • I don’t really like the taste of lipstick. I won’t even kiss my wife if she’s wearing it. Incidentally, she won’t kiss me either if I’m wearing it, but for a different reason, of course.
  • Students: “Mr. Korpi, how’d you hurt your knee?” Korpi: “Well I was 4-wheeling, then I was suddenly zero-wheeling.”
  • Students: “Mr. Korpi, how’d you hurt your knee?” Korpi: Well, let’s just say that it is very, very important to stretch prior to working very large math problems.”
  • Students: “Mr. Korpi, how’d you hurt your knee?” Korpi: Well, let’s just say holding your breath does nothing to cushion your fall off of a 9 foot tall set ofMonkey Bars."
  • Don’t forget to get me that newspaper when you come back from lunch, if you remember.
  • Korpi: “Don’t make fun of the way I dress. My wife picks out my clothes for me, so laugh at my wife.” Students: “Really?! Your wife picks out your clothes?” Korpi: “Of course not, sillies. It was just a joke. That’s still my mom’s job!”
  • Did you all hear President Bush’s new Mars proposal. He said that the U.S. was fixin’ to get ready to think about making plans to plan a trip that would land us on Mars sometime.
  • For those of you who think Hitler is still alive, he’d be 114 today!—April 20, 2003
  • This is the worst week I’ve had in a couple of days.
  • Alright! Which one of you young ladies was first? You? OK, then. I’m sorry, but you are just going to have to wait your turn!
  • We all make mistakes. In this case, it was quite an obvious mistake we should have recognized sooner. It was right there in front of our noses the whole time. But if you think about it, how often during the day do you actually see your nose. Unless you cross your eyes, or have a really big nose, you can’t see it, you just trust that it’s there. Right now, for instance, I assume my nose is still there, because if it wasn’t you would all be laughing or being grossed out. Y’all would be like, “Wow! Look, Michael Jackson is our Calculus Teacher!” But I’m too dark to be Michael Jackson. I’d have to prove that I wasn’t just by Moonwalking during a math problem. So as I was saying . . .
  • I’m a math teacher. Even my dreams are boring. In fact, they are so boring, they put me to sleep.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Holy Moley (Moly?) Can one guy get any busier (lazier)? It seems like me insatiable need to get my thoughts onto virtual paper have been satiated by the simple demands of living, and teaching, and vacationing, and pricing buckets of buckets of garage sale items (who knew an attic could ever fill up with so much stuff--almost gravity defying.)

Since our mini three-day vacation to the coast over Presidents Day, spending the time in a high-dollar condo with "free internet access" that didn't work at all (despite my multiple attempts to connect it legally, illegally, and serendiptiously), I haven't felt much like doing anything but laying around when I can watching the history channel while experimenting with the comfort levels of different parts of the couch. Of course there's still the obligations of being a father of two, a husband of one, and a teacher of many, but there's little motivation beyond that.

I've even quit listening to NPR, and instead have indulged in Pink's discography (she sure cusses more than Michele Norris.) I've even given up my staple of Iron Maiden listening for the only band more vulgar than pink and harder than a diamond: Five Finger Death Punch (they ironically do NOT make me want to watch David Carradine reruns.)

I've been using every bit of residual energy and motivation just to attend my kid's "Science Night" at there school, return phone calls to close friends, and keep my eyelids open during "American Idol" (which the entire family schedule's their life around--the DVR watching of.) Perhaps I've just grown weary of brow-beating myself and my the constant pain of the pinched nerve in my arthritic neck . . . perhaps.

Even the novelty of the new elliptical has worn off, as I just can't convince myself that the tool cabinet in front of me in my garage is really a beautiful ever-changing vista I could be enjoying on a REAL run through my favorite parts of town that my bum knee still prevent me from doing.

The honeymoon with the Xbox Live/Netflix thing ended abruptly as I realized that no matter what the price/bargain/savings, I just cannot make it through a full hour of "The Best of Tim Conway (he's not as good without Harvey Korman trying to keep a straight face aroun him.)" Actually, I love that stuff, I just don't see why I should pay to watch it for a fee when I can watch it for free on "Youtube" and "Hulu" (which are other reasons why I've lost my initiative for going above and beyond.

Additionally, I've quit rising at 4 am (or the periodic 1am-ers) and have forced myself to stay in bed until 6am or so, not that I'm sleeping. I haven't even the motivation to get up, exercise, watch Sportscenter, and twidle my thumbs or a few hours in the wee-hours of the morning anymore. I don't even get up to quiet my barking dog (who barks in her sleep--and in her awake) until I'm convinced she's not going to stop on her own (after 20 minutes) or that a neighbor might be agrily knocking on my door in the middle of the night (which would only require too much effort.)

Perhaps all I need is a good chiropractic adjustment, a good night's sleep, and some more Tim Conway.

Maybe all I really need to get out of my "blog-less" slump is to simply blog more. Afterall, the best cure for insomnia is sleep.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It makes me SICK!

I have to finally admit that I'm proud of my son.

He's done some pretty amazing things that have impressed a lot of people, like reciting the presidents in order when he was just 2 years old or shooting spaghetti out of his nose just last week, but he's finally earned my respect.

I can finally say he's a "chip off the ol' block," not that I can't shoot spaghetti out my nose.

Once a month, my son's great 3rd grade teacher requires her students to memorize a poem to recite to the class. They get graded according to some sort of rubric that takes into account how well they memorize it, if the poem meets the required length, how well they make eye contact while they recite it, how enthusiastically and dramatically they recite it, how little they mumble when they recited it, and how badly they pee their pants while reciting it (deductions here, even if poem is about 'peeing pants.')

We have frequently looked to Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, and Dad as sources of comical, clever, rhyming poems for my son's recitational fodder. This time, while I fumbled through several 60-word poems about Abraham Lincoln, my son decided to take the poetic pen into his own hands and create his own masterpiece which he could recite.

I have to say this time, he trumped me. Although he can rhyme "Lincoln" as effectively as I can, he circumvented the whole presidential thing and successfully flowed about something closer to home for him. He even wrote in faster than I wrote my amazingly comical account of Honest Abe's "Young Lyceum Speech." It makes me sick and so very proud at the same time.

Although his poem is a ficticious account of the dire circumstances of an epidemic among his academic peers, it's something to laugh about, especially his "punchline" ending (which he though of entirely on his own.)

Here's what my 8-year-old "chip of the ol' block" son wrote and will be reciting in class next week (as soon as he memorizes it.)

My Classmates Are Sick
By Tate Korpi

My classmates are sick,
It’s a good thing I’m not.
These are the diseases
that they say they got.

Manny got the chicken pox,
Tammy got the flu.
Linda got diphtheria,
I don’t know what to do!

Kenny got the measles,
Xavier got a cold.
Sammy’s kind of wheezy,
And Mary’s ill, I’m told.

Herman has tuberculosis,
Benny has a rash.
Edgar has a case of mumps.
And Karen has whiplash.

I’m glad that I’m not sick like them
I guess it’s all okay,
There’s only one thing bad about it all . . .
Today's "class picture" day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's all the fuss about

There's a lot of talk these days on the calculus listserv a.k.a. "electronic discussion board" that I read. Now before you bat your eyes in incredulity that there even exists such a board, know that there are strict qualifications for even having access to such a discussion group, mainly, one must have a computer with internet access and the ability to create a unique "username" that doesn't sound too geeky (mine is "mathjusttakesmybreathaway". Note: "Ilovemath," "Iheartmath," and "calculusfiend" were already taken.)

Anyway, there is a lot of talk, that is "typing," on the listserv these days, which makes for a very "lively" discussion group. Usually, I can be described as a listserv "lurker," withdrawing but not depositing, reading but not contributing, judging and not being judged . . . and today is no exception. However, every once in a while, a topic comes up that is actually interesting. Something that goes beyond a novice calculus teacher's desparate plea for help on a particular problem they don't know how to do or a college professor's shameless plug of his software, textbooks, or hand-crafted wire figurines.

Today, there's a hullabaloo about whether "No Child Left Behind," derisively referred to as "NCLB," "that law," and "everyone's a hard-working jenius" or "eahwj" is actually contributing to students being "left behind." Wow, how ironic would THAT be!!! Legislators would certainly have egg on their face, like the time the Senator, when asked by his IHOP waitress if he needed a napkin, confidently replied "No, thank you," while his Huevos Rancheros dripped from his chin.

The reason I find it so interesting is that college professors are now feeling the pangs of having to "make grape jelly with the grapes they are given," rather than making wine from the finest grapes available, something we public school teachers have been having to do for a long time now (not to mention eating toast with jam rather than sipping a fine Cabernet Savignon--if they even exist.) What NCLB has done, the mathematically vocal pundits argue, is created a generation of "test monkeys" that have no interest in real learning or real education, that rely soley and sadly dependendent on their teacher to prep them for the next exam. Students have apparently learned, not math, but how to "milk" the system. With our focus on passing high-stakes tests, and devoting so much time to getting them to pass THAT specific test, they have grown accustomed to, in the normal course of their curriculum, a review sheet before every test that looks, feels, acts, and tastes like the actual test.

Who can blame them.

It takes a mighty strong, courageous man of independent righteousness and stamina to reshape the student's expectations and behaviors around the qualities that really matter in life when all the people in power around him are bludgeoning him with "monkey" skills and test passing. When the tests are really more "high stakes" for individual teachers and school than they are for students, the burden falls directly on the teacher and not the student. The argument is that this "contrition" is empowering the crafty, albeit "lazy" students of today to do as they always have done: optimize grades at the expense of effort.

Well, I am proud to say that I am one of those mighty strong, courageous men of independent righteousness and stamina, and I couldn't care less about my students passing those standardized tests that only really assess MINIMUM skills at best and "monkey" skills at worst. Instead, I push my studenst to think every single day. Think, think, think. I even have take the bold initiative of automatically including one of those cute quotes at the end of all my emails that espouses my beliefs. No, not "Live every week of your life like it was 'Shark Week,' but a quote by the wise John Wesley Young: "It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think."

Sure, it's an uphill battle. Sure it's tiring. Sure I have high blood pressure that's still erratic under medication. Sure I can't wait for the weekends.

But I also can't wait for the weekdays, 'cause I have a chance everyday in that classroom to make a difference in someone's life, whether it be for the better or worse. I don't get caught up in all the petty rules and laws and goings-on in the teachers' lounge. That's all just negative energy to me. So what if my president passes the "NCLB" bill, I can still teach my class and do my thing with both hands tied behind my back, blindfolded, underwater, . . . . as long as I have my canvas that is my whiteboard, and my pastels which are my dry-erase markers. I know that if I do my job, if I fulfill my passion in getting students to think, they are GOING to pass that "remedial" standardized test, and they will ALSO be able to think for themselves, even if their only thought is, "Man that Mr. Korpi is a jerk."

Afterall, mathjusttakesmybreathaway

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting more bettererer . . . ???!!!!

What if you were the best surgeon in the world? OK, let's make it more realistic. Let's say that you were one of the most competent, decorated, esteemed surgeons in your hospital? Let's say that you were so good at what you do that some professional organization, an organization recognizing your competence, decorations, and esteemed skills, wanted you to come speak at their national convention? Wouldn't that be great?

What also, if that same organization wanted to PAY you a small speaking stipend for your troubles? Even better, right? Depends on your audience, you might say?

Well, what if your audience was 900 of the other competent, decorated, esteemed surgeons from all around the nation, and each of them was also scheduled to speak for a fee.

As a competent, decorated, esteemed professional, would you feel honored to be so selected to participate in such an event? Would you go into the event thinking that you had nothing to learn from these other 899 competent, decorated, esteemed professionals?Would your hospital be so proud and excited for you that they give you a ceremonial send off party, complete with brass band and hours dourves?

OK, fast forward now to AFTER attending the event (you DID accept, right?) Was your hospital proud of your selection and of your representation of their small corner of the world? Did they welcome you back with eager open arms waiting to hear and learn of your exploits? Would your colleagues and hospital administrators be excited to learn what you've learned? Would they embrace your new-found insight into the collective expertise of America's best? Would they be inspired by the new level of care you can bring to your patients through your honorable experience?

All these questions are simple rhetorical questions for the simple reason that they are not intended to actually be answered. Why? (rhetorical again). Simply because anyone would be foolish to answer in any way but the affirmative. These are all GOOD, if not GREAT things that all contribute to an organization, if not the human race, moving forward in the right direction. They encompass the Korpi motto of "Learn a lot, Love a lot, Laugh a lot." Pride, honor, dedication, discipline, integrity, and duty all wrapped up into one. The right, noble, and honorable thing to do.

OK, here's the catch.

Imagine now that when you get back for your esteemed conference that you are met with indifference and unceremonious apathy and aloofness, not by colleagues, but bythe hospital administrators, those required to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s on the paper work, the same people in charge of requisitions, taxes, and utility bills that run amok because of all the hot water required to clean and sterilize the hospital laundry. Their opinion doesn't matter, right? Well, to a professional surgeon like you, the solicitudes of the bureaucracy shouldn't effect (or affect) your role as a surgeon. But this is NOT how it works.

In fact, getting caught up in running a business has taken priority over the actual business.

Let's say that the hospital requires 18 hours of professional development hours from ALL its professionals, as ALL good hospitals should. But let's also say that your hospital, after reviewing the specifics of your tremendously honorable, learning, professional experience, then say that you have to earn your 18 hours through some other, local, less valuable, "experience" that the one from which you just so recently and euphorically returned.

Their rationale? You attended as an expert, and so had nothing to gain from a week-long, intensive, communal seminar with the other 899 experts from around the nation. Moreover, because you received a stipend for your efforts (and recognition), the hours are "fruit of the poisonous" tree on the official books. Instead, what you are forced to do is attend 3 6-hour Saturday sessions away from your family sitting in the hospital board room listen to a non-surgeon administrator-type talk to you about the "color of your balloon," "how to talk to your patients while under general anesthesia," and "how to properly document in triplicate the hours earned while learning how to document them" all in the name of making you "better" at your profession, and in the "best interest" of your patients.


Imagine that!!!!!!

Thank God that is only hypothetical, right? Irrational, illogical decisions don't happen in the real world, do they?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What the wife REALLY wants this Valentine's Day

There's love in the air.
It's that time of year
For roses and chocolates
And Valentine cheer

From little heart candies
That say "Please Be Mine"
To a card, and some dinner
With a bottle of wine.

But those things are typical
Ordinary and bland
So this year I've got something
Much bigger planned.

It will be so romantic
That it might be scary.
Not frightful or ghoulish
But a horror contrary.

I'll put music on low,
Some good 'Mericana
Then take a hot shower,
Even though I don't wanna.

After washing myself,
In between all my toes,
I'll shock my dear wife
By washing some clothes.

I'll clean all the bathrooms,
Including the sink.
I'll throw out the food
In the fridge that now stinks.

I'll rake all the leaves.
Trim back the Crepe Myrtles.
I'll compost her garden
To make it more fertile.

I'll detail her car
And make the kid's lunches,
Work on the love handles
By doing some crunches.

I'll balance the checkbook
And file all the bills.
I'll check the kids' homework,
Give them meds if they're ill.

Then I'll vacuum and mop.
I'll put away dishes,
And dust 'round the house,
Fulfill all her wishes.

'Cause there's nothing more sexy
Or loving or sweet
Than a freshly-clean husband
Who sweeps his wife off her feet.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Deal of the Century

Now that I've got the Xbox Live up and running, I'm finding it difficult to control myself. Like a kid in a candy store (with a grown-up's allowance), I'm finding all sorts of new and creative ways to spend money.

Getting passed the one-year Xbox Live "Gold" membership fee was just the start. With that upgraded service, I could really expand the capabilities of the free "Silver" membership level. There exists a fancy chart with check marks in columns showing all the extra thing the Gold gets you, but I don't want to bore you with that, just know that there's a LOT more I can do, even if I never get around to actually DOING it. It's nice to know the powerful capabilities and expandable dimensions are there.

Shortly after agreeing to the upgrade fee, I went to the "Marketplace" to purchase some new songs for the Guitar Hero III, and World Tour games. I wanted to find new songs that my son didn't know so that I could have a chance to actually beat him in a head-to-head match on "Hard" level. What I found were a LOT of cool songs that I really wanted, songs by the Killers, Journey, Boston, The Eagles, Marilyn Manson, Reggae songs, etc. I quickly gave the game system my credit card info, purchased some "points" then just as quickly cashed them in for several songs and song packages--all from the comfort of my couch. With the surround sound blaring on the elevated 50-inch plasma in the living room, my son and I jammed to "Mr. Brightside," "Putting Hole in it," and "Life in the Fast Lane." Coming in second place never felt so good.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, supper was getting cold.

The next day, while talking with my brother who is also an Xbox Live-er, I discovered what could be one of the best deals in this sluggish economy. One word (that sounds like two):


What this company is doing is finally something worth paying for--on demand video straight to your PC or PC-ready device. For a nominal monthly fee of abou $8, you get access to over 12,000 videos including movies and television, streamed in high quality (and some in high-def) straight to your computer. Were talking stuff you can't watch on for free, like old episodes of "Quincy, M.E.," old "Pink Panther" cartoons, and all the old classic movies and many recent releases, documentaries, and new TV series like "30 Rock," and "The Office."

So how does the Xbox come into this? Well Microsoft has a deal with Netflix so that Xbox "Gold" members (that's me!) and Netflix members (that's me too!) can watch those same videos on their home theater systems for no additional cost simply by streaming them through the Xbox wireless connection!!!! You simply visit the Netflix website, shop for you free videos, click a button, and watch them queue up on your high-def television.

The family spent Saturday night watching things we had long forgotten about. For instance, I had forgotten how passionate Quincy was as the county's Medical Examiner, and how, for an old man in his 60s, how fit he looked in tab collars and polyester pants. Those new CSI guys have nothing on him, except maybe better wardrobes. Rewatching that great show begs the question: "WWQD?"

Want the epitome of unrequited love? I never even knew there was a Valentine Charlie Brown special until I stumbled upon it while searching through the "Romance" category online (not to mention timeless classics like "It Happened One Night," "A Boyfriend for Christmas," "Cabaret," and "Scarface.")

I won't even go into all the awesome westerns you have available at your fingertips (if only there was a way to watch them in "fast forward" and still take in every gunshot, liquor shot, and spoken word . . . ) You've got movies like "Unforgiven," "Urban Cowboy (a Western?)," and the best western I've never heard of "The Ballad of Cable Hogue." There's even a FEW John Wayne movies (and one by a different guy, I think, named Jon Waine.)

Want war stories? There's a plethora you couldn't get to in a lifetime, even if you don't count watching all the movies in the "marriage" category. You've got "To Hell and Back" with John Wayne, Jr., Audie Murphy, the movie I simply cannot get of (making fun of) "Bataan," and a Kirk Douglas movie I never knew existed.

With unlimited access to so many movies, you can't go wrong! It's the Deal of the Century! (They have that too.)

Avoid the wife and kids, shirk you fatherly responsibilities and watch some movies using the trial and error method. You're sure to find at least one with an original plot combined with great acting (to skip right to it, check out "Godzilla 2000" starring that guy from Tokyo--he's amaaaaazing in it, and by "he," I mean Godzilla.)

I know it's only been a few days, but I'm sure this new Xbox Live/wireless internet adapter thing is going to change my life . . . . for the better or worse.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A real LIVE experience

Last week, I got a gift card from my brother and parents to "Game Stop." With the intent that I could buy the drum set for our family's "Guitar Hero" parties, I ventured into the store last Friday. With my 5-year-old daughter with me, we (mainly "I") decided instead to buy the wireless network adapter for the Xbox 360, which, at $99, wouldn't leave us much left over on the $100 card.

"We have a used one for $63 dollars," the seemingly helpful store clerk said. I was immediately caught in a "Catch-22."

If I went with the used one, I'd risk it not working (why else would someone return it), doubting if they even tested the device upon its return. If I did try the used one, I'd have $37 dollars to buy another game, say "Rock Band," or "Call of Duty." If I spent the entire wad on a new one, I was more likely to have success and less frustration setting up the network adapter, but then I'd be kicking and doubting myself for passing up the option on a "perfectly good" one.

My daughter already had a "My Baby Girl" newborn simulator game in her hand for her Nintendo DS. "I want this Daddy?"

It turns out that that was the only thing I needed to hear, not to mention that irresistible look in her eye that I couldn't help but see. With the assurance of techno-video-game-store-clerk guy that I could return the used adapter within 30 days for a full refund if I was unhappy with it at all, or if it happened not to work (in which case he would simply repackage and restock it for the next "victim"), I went with the used one and the $39.99 baby game.

I raced home, eager to hop onto Xbox Live and to get my daughter set up on her new virtual venture into motherhood. That's when the frustration set in.

Not only did the "plug and play" adapter not turn the proper green color, but the game system didn't even acknowledge my home wireless network. Throw in the additional frustration of a crying baby on a video game that needed a bottle every 3 minutes and a 5-year-old girl who wasn't skilled enough with the game stylus enough to hold the bottle at the correct, inverted angle so that the nipple of the bottle stay free of air and full of milk, leaving the more-skilled 35-year-old father, with real-life bottle experience to boot, to alternate between cussing at an Xbox to cooing at at a DS.

I then did what any frustrated father (and virtual grandfather) would do: I put the baby to sleep, left my daughter to gently rock her pink DS, and I hit the internet for network support and how-tos.

After several Youtube videos of people demonstrating the simplicity of the setup and others who had better, cheaper, alternative solutions for Xbox live that circumvented the expensive, wireless device, I tried once more.

Reconfiguring my home network, pinging a new IP address, changing the SSID name and WEP password (like I even NOW know exactly what all those things really mean or HOW I actually pulled it off), I was only successful at disabling the perfectly working wireless service to my downstairs laptop computer. Things were definitely moving in the wrong direction.

After another bottle feeding of the baby, who my daughter sinced named "Ng", I felt my blood pressure come down and the sensation of evaporative cooling upon my forehead as my sweat began to dry. I wanted to give it one more go before I through in the towel/burp cloth.

With a few clicks into new windows and system setting boxes on my computer, I finally reestablished connectivity with my laptop to the network, its printer, and the all-important internet. I felt a new confidence that I could "accidentally" get the Xbox wireless network adapter to work as well. Thinking that plugging in the USB plug on the adapter into the back of the machine more slowly would help the game system and the home network communicate, I blew into the end of it and carefully, deliberately, painstakingly slowly plugged it in. It flashed red, then went blank. I waited for green. It didn't come. I went to the Xbox manual network settings and carefully typed in the new IP address, the Subnet Mask, the Default Gateway, and the number of the DHCP server.

This HAD to work.

It didn't.

Frusrated, and finally realizing that I wouldn't be downloading any new songs for Guitar Hero that day, I packaged up the device in the the original, repackaged packaging, stuck it in the store bag with the receipt, and set it buy the door.

The next day, after Ng's routine feedings of course, I returned the adapter to the Game Stop and voiced my frustration, concern for the practice of selling used, untested products. The only thing the guy, a different guy (the manager!) said was, get this . . . . . ."Yeah, it happens sometimes. So you want to buy a new one?" No apology, no remorse, no guilt, no problem. Business as usual.

"Heck yeah!" I said in an hyperbolic voice that carried the indubitable dual tone of incredulity and satrirical cynisicm.

I paid the difference, left the store with a brand new device, went home, plugged it in, and watched it turn green immediately.

Within one minute of plugging it in, I was on Xbox live, enjoying creating an online Avatar with my son.

It's a shame that our society has become so disposable, inculpable, and shameless, where things breaking and going wrong and being frustrated and inconvenienced are now just routine expectations.

In my mind, the store selling a returned, untested device, even at a discount is tantamount to Wal-Mart taking back dirty diapers and restocking them on the shelves. A foul practice no doubt.

Speaking of dirty diapers, the Ninetendo DS is starting to cry and smell very suspicious.

Gotto go.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Let's play a game. A vocabulary game. A game much like the incredibly fun and funny Balderdash board game. Here's how it works.

I'll give you a word, followed by a list of definitions of the word. Your task, should you choose to play along, is to select the correct definition out of all the other tempting and curiously interesting "bogus" definitions.

For instance, If I say the word is "Math," you would choose correct definition from the list below.
  • The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities, using numbers and symbols.
  • the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations.
  • A foreign language.
  • The deepest beauty of Mother Nature.
  • The subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
  • Countin', Recknonin', & Cipherin'
  • The dirtiest 4-letter word.
  • A nickname for "Matthew."
  • An egregious misspelling of "Psychology."
  • The Jonas Brothers' favorite subject in High School.
  • Something a priest with a lisp gives each Sunday
You get the point, so enough of that. That was just an EXAMPLE. If you've got the hang of it, and by the way, the real definition of "Math" is . . . . well . . . . you wouldn't believe me if I told you anyway, then we're ready to play the REAL game.

The word is "Senioritis." (Click on the word to cheat and find the answer before playing.)

Which of the following is the TRUE definition???
  • An inflammation of the senior.
  • An old person with a big head.
  • the act of calling every male person "SeƱor."
  • Another name for Alzheimer's Disease.
  • A swelling of a father's head during his fit of rage when Junior wrecks the car.
  • An egregious misspelling of "Psychology."
  • a seasonal disease appearing earlier and earlier each year that causes a relaxed irresponsible state of laxity in which otherwise capable individuals conserve expendable, replenishable energy in an effort to maximize their diminishing opportunities to hang out with other, similar-minded adolescents while minimizing their efforts in the classroom, thereby causing their grades to plummet like a bowling ball in a bag of boulders strapped to an anvil falling down a vacuum tube, and their teachers, who are not immune to the disease, yet fight it tooth and nail, to pull their hair out while trying to encourage, motivate, cajole, and blackmail afflicted students into doing something, anything, while attempting to inoculate the juniors and sophomores and, God forbid, the freshman from catching the debilitating infection, lest they tumble down the broken staircase of academic ruin, which, if left untreated, can cause such side effects as loss of scholarship money, academic probation at an "already accepted" University, loss of matriculation rights at aforementioned University, and acute vertigo with temporary blindness, and can eventually lead to more serious, chronic conditions such as "perpetual apathy," "Video Game Wrist," "Boomerang Living," and "Hypoencephalism Disfuncta."
Good luck. Have fun. Check the link above for the correct answer or just scroll down.

Answer: An egregious misspelling of "Psychology."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bird on the Bridge

I walked along a lonely bridge
and looked among the clouds.
Each step I took was just by feel
My footfalls were not loud.

I tried to make out constellations
out among the stars
but all I saw were random bursts
sprinkled out afar

I looked for meaning on that night
of why I walked this Earth
Of why I had to some day die
and why my mom gave birth

The wind whipped through me like fire on ice
it stopped me in my thought
I shrugged and shivered among the black
I forged, and cried, and fought.

The bridge gave way to massive winds
I shook above its beams
the vacillation made me feel
Like I was in a dream

And dream I wish that I was in
'cause I felt so alone
I wondered how far down it was
so I threw down a stone.

It took so long before I heard
the plopping of the rock
but time stood still as I counted
my mind's internal clock

A mockingbird just then flew by
I thought I heard it laugh
with me but not at me
It seemed to speak on my behalf

I forced a smile amidst the black
I walked back towards the shore
limping slowly, carefully
Not like I did before

I reached the end where buttress' fly
support lay all around
and soon enough, I stood upon
the safety of the ground

The bird flew by one final time
as I climbed inside my car
"Be thankful not for what you were,
but rather what you are."

I turned the key and turned the page
as I set out down the road
thankful for that quiet night
and the insight it bestowed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Power to the People

Have you ever felt like the tail is wagging the dog instead of the other way around like it's supposed to be?

Every day, I become increasingly aware that the autonomy of individuals, the initiative of professionals, and the prevalence of common sense are being replaced by rules, laws, mandates, ordinances, stipulations, requirements, and edicts that usurp each of the above.

Founded on the basis of laws ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all, we have become a nation of line-item legislation that regulate the most excruciating detail of every aspect of Americans' lives, written by non-initiates known as elected officials who are trying to make a name for themselves, or passed down judiciously through some frivolous law suit.

We are a nation of wasted paper and meandering paper trails, backed up in triplicate. We have become so hamstrung with Bureaucratic "red tape" that we risk being chocked to death navigating the gauntlet of slow, painfully difficult process.

For those who still bravely fight for ideals and strive for excellence under the oppressive directives, we nonetheless grow weary from the constant rub of going against the grain and the constant hoop jumping, only to be "rewarded" in the end by more paperwork and more hoops to navigate. Our society has created a climate where the incentive is to do less, get more. To swim with the current and eat a buffet along the way. We've been trained to think that what were originally our privileges have become our sanctioned rights. We have been conditioned to shirk our responsibilities and duties in favor of demanding that we are entitled to the results without the effort.

We are at a point where we are blindly, pathetically disregarding the Heliocentric Theory of the Universe in favor of the fictitious, fragile Egocentric Theory of America. We have been spoiled by the commercial luxuries and conveniences, encouraged to live beyond our means to buy things we cannot afford and do not need. We've grown hedonistic and hypersensitive, believing that every problem we have, every bad thing that happens to us is someone else's fault, for which there is an "inalienable" right to compensation and special treatment.

We are empowered to be mediocre, apathetic, indifferent, and righteously sinful.

"Judge not lest ye be judged" has lost its original message of tolerance out of love and compassion and has become a misused Biblical verse that defends shameful, selfish, narcissism.

In an era motivated by greed and self-interest, where Big Businesses with "Fat Cat" executives and Major Banks with specious lending practices are bailed out by our own government, why should we expect culpability on an individual level in everyday dealings. The trickle-down effect works with both the good and the bad.

More money and lip service is paid for remediation, re-remediation, intervention and rescue programs that were are getting used to inconsequential rashness and foolishness. We spend more time and defending our actions and lifestyles than we do actually trying to improve our own cause through good old-fashioned honest toil.

Integrity and accountability have become such foreign, abstracts that an entire presidential campaign recently succeeded under the mantras of "Hope" and "Change," but I have a feeling that many who supported those messages were hoping for the idea of change . . . . for others. Not blaming anyone who wants a better lot for themselves, it cannot come magically through any anointed messiah, especially when the anointed one works among the most avarice group in the nation--the legislature.

But I am hopeful that we have in fact entered into a "new era of responsibility," and that more of the good, and less of the bad, will trickle down. We mustn't be content with holding onto handrail of mediocrity, for it leads down the downward spiral of despair and degradation. We mustn't be satisfied with words alone, but with actions, and in doing things of which we are proud and of which we have no need to defend or desire to exaggerate through boast.

Change must be from within, a grassroots movement of like-minded, responsible people who have the endurance to wend through the labyrinth of hoops and red tape, those who, as Lincoln said, gather strength from the fact the "right makes might," and not from the perspective of "might makes right."

Imagine living, once again, not with the chronic stress of ephemeral chimeras and petty self-interest, but rather under the comforting lasting qualities of Truth and Timelessness, where we can cast off all the artificial value and meaning of the possessions and attributes of little substance and liberate ourselves from a shallow existence of suffering and overcompensation, free from a world where we cannot even protect ourselves from the consequences of our own imaginations, a world where common sense is common practice, a world where life itself isn't viewed as an antagonist, where people are less concerned about image and more about substance, where we don't sit and think about living, but rather get on with it, a world with magic mirrors, where people who look in the mirror see who they really are.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm running free, yeah!

Spent the night in an L. A. jail, and listened to the sirens wail. They ain't got a thing on me, I'm running wild, I'm running free.--Iron Maiden
This morning, I finished my last of 11 weeks of physical therapy. Even though I have about 6 months left of recovery to get back to me pre-surgical, pre-infection self, it will come under my own supervision, performing what my parting therapist called "advanced" exercises. What this means is that I won't have to take precious time out of my busy schedule, leaving work three times a week, to flex, stretch, bend, extend, push, pull, distend, protract, recline, incline, strain, spin, hop, balance, tighten, unfold, roll, compress, and get electrocuted.

It's going to be so, so very nice not to have one less thing to worry about. For a guy who still can't remember what day his son has piano, I think he's there right now--that would explain the quiet, stillness in the house, or the day his daughter has gymnastics--I hope it's not right now, 'cause she's currently diving into a bowl of macaroni, it is like a giant albatros lifted off my brain. No longer do I have to remember if this week is Monday/Tue/Fri or Tue/Thur/Fri. I'm free from the menally taxing activity of recalling if I was to be there at 8:00am or at 4:00pm. No longer do I have the arduous task of trying to remember to look for my day planner so that I can check its contents, in which every date and time is precisely written.

No longer do I have to stretch the truth about how I pulled my hamstring. No more must I exercise my poetic liscense of interpretting running on the hard pavement too prematurely to gently stroking the foot pedals on my low-impact, but incredibly boring, elliptical machine. The days are over whereby I exaggerate the number of leg lifts I've been doing at home (twice as many each time, previously zero) and how often I've been icing it (daily, if you count going outside in the cold weather wearing shorts.) No longer do I need to communicate in euphamisms, in the hyperbolic language of "compliant" patient.

No, now I can be honest with myself, and admit, guilt-free, that although I didn't always follow the written script, I did substitute activities requiring as much, if not more, effort. As someone who pushes himself to his limits, often to the admonishon of my wife, therapist, or surgeon, I know my own body and its limitations. Rest assured that I will continue to push myself to the the extreme, promulgating the acceleration of my recovery, backing off only when the pain becomes intolerable, or my wife tells me to.

And so for the next 6 months, or hopefully just the next 3, I'll be doing the "advanced" home exercises written in my discharge papers today, which means I'll be stooping on my bad leg only to pick up pretend (or real) items off the floor in between my 45 minutes on the elliptical and the 30 minutes of pounding the pavement around my block. If you happen to see me on the road, with that noticeable Terry Fox-like limp, know that the smile on my face is a wincing grimace, but a smile nonetheless.