There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Times Great Oldies

It feels like ages since I've dropped a post in here and the last week's events would seemingly offer plenty of material. I'll kick things off with a little shameless self-promotion of my most recent race. Since concluding college I've raced rather sparingly. Immediately following my last race (Thanksgiving) I ended up injuring myself, and I followed suit here so, not knowing when my next run or race might be, right, that self-promotion thing. The local paper also put together some photos of the event here. Booooooooring...

The next race I had planned was actually this past weekend, the now annual tradition of a WesTech graduation beer mile. Shout-out to the AgBat on his victory in a cookin' 6:10 and to Nick "Saturday Night" Holowka for his competitive spirit bringing that time so low even if post-race crime scene analysis would show failure to complete at least one beer and a resultant DQ. Wish I could have run it boys, but you made it a lot of fun to watch.

The true beauty of it all was the reuniting of the Stable Boyz and subsequently many other old friends. Basking in the resplendent beauty of Western Mass tugged at the dichotomous heartstrings that draw me to cities and people even as I am pulled toward the simplistic wonder of the outdoors. It was probably instilled in my youth on family camping trips even if I was likely grumbling about bugs while it happened. I still grumble about the bugs, but it's worth it. Hobbling down highway 112 from the Vermont border down into Colrain Mass after an ill-advised run was probably the best I've felt about any running injury I've ever incurred. Just a little more time to soak in the beauty.

The sweet (actually it's bitter, but you know what I mean) taste of a McNeill's Duck's Breath on cask even at it's now jacked up $4 (this is Brattleboro, VT after all) with some BYOIndian is the kind of simplicity I feel gets lost all too frequently in the materialistic society we've grown to.

But yes, the people. I spent about forty-eight hours on the campus of my alma-mater for the first time in a year and it really did feel great. To walk by an enormous backyard BBQ and waltz in seamlessly, that atmosphere is a big part of why I ended up where I did. They've changed a lot of my favorite things, for the worse in my estimation, but when a dozen or more of your good friends congregate and you can kick it with some legit undergrads/recent grads, it brightens my soul in an indescribable way. I'm actually not satisfied with the quality of education and guidance I received at school, but the people I met there made the experience more than worth it and I would never dream of changing where I ended up attending school. I always found that it allowed me to embrace who I was, who I am, or even maybe just who I thought I wanted to be. Look for some of those words when I speak at commencement next year...

I don't really know where all this post is going, it just felt like some of these things needed to get down. Same reason I've been trying to take more pictures of late. On the near final leg of my travels, on a Metro North train bound for Grand Central Station I must pen what I deem amusing banter between three elderly folks seated behind me and John "Diddlemonster" Kraus. Nearing the end of our journey I thought to reach up to grab my bag but thought better of it as it rested above said eldlerly folks' seats. Now it could have been coincidence, but as soon as I turned around their conversation turned to beards when one man began, "You should grow a beard Tom."

This was followed by Tom's precious response: "I feel like a beard is for someone who's accomplished something, that you can't grow one until then. Look at all those guys in the Middle East that have beards... they're all assholes." There was a nice little hiss of emphasis on the esses that I'm not sure how to replicate written down. The jury is out on whether I've accomplished enough to have earned my beard or if I'm just an asshole from the Middle East. I just think it balances my eyebrows...and shaving is kind of a hassle.

Dear Wesleyan,
It's always worth it for the 3rd Floor Olin Bathroom and the Freeman shower...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Will People Ever Stop Shooting Each Other?

In what appears to be an isolated incident, a Wesleyan University student was shot and killed yesterday by an unknown gunman while she was working at the café at the campus bookstore. An article I just read and link at the end of the following paragraph says it may not be an isolated incident, but that remains unsubstantiated for now. This story was all over the news and gets extra special attention from me as it took place at my alma mater. I received several emails about the incident and the facebook status message of many of my old schoolmates was something referencing it as well. I hate the news report manner in which I opened this entry, but I can't think of how else to put it.

It is indeed a terrible thing, and you feel for this girl's family and friends. What else can you say to those most closely affected? You think about it, and you let those people know, but words...words fail. With the possibility that it was an angry and/or disturbed ex-boyfriend that perpetrated the crime (fostered by the caption in that Fox news link), I couldn't help but be reminded of a shooting that took place at a mall in my hometown less than two years ago now. I just read through my thoughts on that, and a lot of them hold true for this. There will always be outliers in the mental community who, when pushed, will take extreme actions such as this, but I really do think we need to take a step back and look at the culture that fosters incidents like this. When or if we'd be able to eliminate all such incidents it is hard to say, but we need to strive towards it. I wrote the words that follow before reading this update on the shooting. An italicized addendum follows.

I do wonder how much talking might help. As a generalization, many of us crave attention. Even if it is not the search for mass celebrity, we probably want the attention of those close to us. We like to feel like we count, like we amount to something, and the nature of that is context, the context of our peer group, our culture, our family, our friends. This is not to say all such incidents can be resolved through dialogue, but for all that the digital age has increased our ability to communicate, the nature of what we are communicating about seems to have dropped down several notches. Think of any argument you've ever been in. Rarely is an argument resolved quickly, and it often devolves into one party having the final word. It seems idiotic, but I know I've been there. Somewhere it is supposed to say that we are mature for knowing when to stop, but we want to say our piece. We hope that it sinks in with the other person. Being right would be an added bonus, but so much of it amounts to just letting it out.

Actions speak louder than words they say, and it's hard not to believe that. Sometimes the extreme actions taken by individuals, that is their voice, their last gasp that instead comes out as a shout. Some individuals are disturbed enough that nothing short of locking them away or medicating them might prevent their taking horrendous action but I like to believe more than we think can be done through a cultural revision. What that constitutes and where that starts, those are difficult questions. Being nice and listening to others have roots in good intentions, but that alone can start to give people the wrong idea. That can foster misinterpretation of the strength and importance of a relationship.

Reading that second article only makes this all the worse. The precise nature of the relationship between the suspect, Stephen Morgan, and the victim, Johanna Justin-Jinich, is not stated, but it seems as if there could be smatterings of what I just alluded to. Justin-Jinich had already filed harassment charges against Morgan two years ago. It's plausible she was friendly towards him to begin with (worked at a café, described in that article by a classmate as having "a great smile"), he got the wrong idea, and when perhaps she wasn't fueling his obsession, Morgan took things to a whole new level. But I don't really want to make any assumptions about this case. The mind is complex and for all that we connect on many things, every mind is different. Why I want to avoid assumptions has basis in this second article as well.

I took the "angry ex-boyfriend" angle from the caption of a Fox news article, and if I go with this NBC coverage I will be confirming a targeting of Jewish individuals. That might be the case, but if NBC can't substantiate their source, I think it should be left out rather than planting these strange seeds in our, or at least my, mind(s). I admit I am bothered as well that there is a history of harassment from this man and that wasn't an initial clue. Perhaps there had been no contact between suspect and victim between then and now. How much would talking to the suspect bring to light. Regardless of his true thought process, he can say whatever he wants. We can't crawl into his mind or anyone else's. Would we want to? I don't even know how to put a period on my own musings, so I close instead with some words from the Pixies, a question: Where is my mind?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sonic: No Longer Just a Hedgehog to Me

Six weeks or so ago, maybe more (oh how time flies) I finally made my inaugural trip to Sonic. I've been seeing ads for Sonic since the Summer of 2003, if not earlier, with their advertising especially heavy on ESPN. Watching late night broadcasts of Sportscenter, me and my friends couldn't help but get excited by the prospect of another entrant to the fast-food market. The only drawback was that, at that time, there wasn't a Sonic further north than Virginia, which wasn't doing us much good over in Jersey. In the last couple of years Sonic ads found their way on to network television and that's when it got to be too much. By this time, Sonic had made it's way to Jersey but well South, in a town that I believe is named Millville and where a film like Napoleon Dynamite could have been filmed.

People quickly forget that New Jersey is a lot more than the dirty turnpike factories of the north, the rundown cities of Camden, Newark and Trenton, the ritzy 'burbs of Bergen County, and the Jersey shore. It goes without saying there is plenty in between that and, along with middle-class suburbia and even farm country, there is what a lot of people would call the boonies. I'm saying Millville qualifies, no offense Millville. To be fair though, I really didn't make it through town as the sole destination was Sonic, and first impressions can be deceiving. The rest of Millville may be quaint and pretty for all I know...I actually stopped at this Sonic after a trip to Atlantic City, but it had nothing on the true experience of the maiden voyage that landed me in Bensalem, PA. Like parts of South Jersey, Pennsylvania is, in general, a whole other world from where I am in Jersey, despite reasonable geographic proximity. But that was a great thing here.

The service could hardly have been more pleasant and you are served by chicks on rollerskates or, if they're feeling frisky, rollerblades. I've been back to this same Sonic since and I have to say, all of their servers have personality and that goes a long way. I enjoyed my sandwiches, my tater tots, my sweet tea, my milkshakes, even something called a frito chili-cheese wrap, but the deal sealer is the service. It's just a happy environment and that's what I'm really looking for when I go out to eat. I can eat unhealthy almost anywhere, so please bring a smile. McDonald's used to say they loved to see me smile, but my servers there are always the most miserable people in the world (and I am not saying I blame them).

Plus, on my last trip, through some errors, I ended up with two free drinks and they even let me put my chicken sandwich on texas toast for no additional charge. Now if that doesn't make you have a super-Sonic day, I don't know what will. So go there for the "t's": texas toast, tots, tea...and stay for the service. Thanks Sonic, I'll be back.
Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.