Sunday, October 19, 2008


Went and saw this with Do.

This film turned Oliver Stone into the Anti-Stone in that he didn't spend the whole film hitting you over the head with his perspective. Instead, it was a high energy flatline. It fell short of everything it pretended to be.

The first of my concerns is whether or some of the details from Bush's life and presidency were true as depicted in the film. A few incidents have been in the public dialog for some time, but others were new to me.

The few reviews I have read praised several actors for not being caricatures of the people they portrayed. But That was one of the problems. As fine as many of the actors were, they were flat caricatures. Most of them played their parts on one note.

I chuckled a couple of times, but never felt any empathy for any of the characters. About an hour into it, I was anxious for it to end.

Let me be clear that I hate what W and his cronies have done to this country. But this film did nothing for me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate 3

Tonight's debate was underwhelming for me. It didn't change my vote.

But one thing I found funny and very informative. Towards the end of the debate, John McCain laughed at a joke he had made and snorted. I don't think I want a president who snorts when he laughs.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Heart, New Job

I have 5 years until my projected retirement. I may be wrong, but I am determined to NOT work full-time past that date, even if my 401K doesn't rebound. I have this philosophy about quality of life being as important as money. I joke about living in my car, but sometimes I'm not sure that I am.

My friend Tom got to retire early at 55. His doctor told him that he needed to for his health. He had high blood pressure. He and his wife discussed this and decided that, with his Calstrs (Teacher's retiement) and her income (she's in banking), they could live very comfortably.

The part she left out was that she was seeing another man and had planned on divorcing Tom very soon.

So Tom retired, divorced, got an alimony settlement from his wife, stayed retired for about ten years.

His alimony settlement comes up for renegotiation next year and he decided that he would not go through a courtroom battle to continue getting payments--partly because their adult son has asked that they not go through another big fight.

So he decides to go back and teach a few more years.

Then he has a heart attack.

Then he has triple bypass.

Now, seven weeks later, he gets a call from the district where we both used to teach together. They have an opening. Would he be interested?

So, seven weeks after a triple bypass, he may have a job.

I counseled him against it, but his doctor has told him to go for it.

My reasons for it are because, after his bypass, he has made the time to eat right and exercise regularly--something he has never done in all of the years I have known him. I told him that having a job where he had to be on premises at fixed times--AND take home work on weekends, AND join committees, AND deal with students in all of their most and least pleasant manifestations--he would soon find himself making excuses and pretty soon going back to his old habits, which would be a bad thing.

But he's going to do it anyway.

Part of Tom's problem is that he didn't have much of a plan for retirement--at least not as a single man. He's tried other things, but kind of half-assedly. He tried real estate, but let his focus be drawn away by this crazy woman he was seeing at the time. He thought he might like working at a winery and settled in at this design-a-winery in town, where customers got to order wine mixed to their specifications. I don't know how it worked, but the wine tastes like soda to me and the owners had no head for business, so they never had customers.

I guess I just want to live in a world where everybody gets a prolonged recess after working hard all of their lives--one where they get to recreate themselves into new beings.

I guess you've just gotta let people choose their own poison.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Religulous and "Pundits"

So a gaggle of us saw Bill Maher's Religulous Sat Night.

The good news: Billy C and I got senior discounts without asking.

The bad news: Billy C and I got senior discounts without asking.

When I realized what had happened, I felt like going back to the window and demanding that the young lady take more of my money.

The film entertained me. But here's my complaints about Bill Maher, whom I think is funny and whose shows I have always enjoyed:

1. The vast majority of the people he talked to were ridiculous people who had no idea how ridiculous they sounded. Other than a couple of catholic priests and one scientist, most of the people he interviewed were fringe people who clung a cartoon version of religion. It was hard to take them seriously. A couple of interviews with muslims were also pretty calm--but I find it hard to judge all believers by extremists. I know from panels Maher has had on both Politically Incorrect and Real Time, that he knows of religious leaders who have a more intelligent view on faith. Maybe it would not have been the same film, but why not talk to a few of those people.

2. Just as with his book When You Ride Alone, You Ride with bin Laden, he interrupts important points to remind you that he tells jokes for a living. It's as if he doesn't trust the material enough to let it speak, and get laughs, for itself.

3. He's a smart guy, but, like most contemporary "pundits," he doesn't have all of the answers. He may have a lot of them, but not all of them. I get tired of "pundits" who have no more qualifications than you or me telling me what to think. Ask the questions, Bill. I'll do the thinking for myself.

But I am glad I saw it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Electronic Elephant Trunk

I went in for a follow-up on my sleep study. You may recall that the therapist gave me a gizmo that I had to strap around myself. I then had to sleep on my back while numerous electrodes monitored my sleep patterns. Eve though I took a sleeping pill, I only slept for about 1 1/2 hours, woke up, and spent the rest of the night on my back trying to get back to sleep--getting up once to rage against the porcelain.

So, this time a therapist gave me breathing gizmo used for people afflicted with sleep apnea--which I believe is one of the reasons I have a hard time feeling rested when I get up. She starts talking about the results of my test and I interrupt her to interject that, while they wanted about 5 hours worth of sleep data, I may have only given them 1 1/2 hours. She replied, "So you cat-napped the rest of the night." I said "No, I stayed awake the rest of the 5 hours and then took the gizmo off. She sad, "Yes, catnapped." I said "No, catnapped."

I decided that, since I did think that I had sleep apnea, arguing was pointless. I would just bring it up when I talked to my doctor next time.

The purpose of giving me the new gizmo was to determine the specific gizmi that I might have to attach to my personal gizmo when I get it: like a humidifier attachment and who knows what else.

The gizmo was much smaller than I expected--about the size of a small CD player. It had a tube attached to a face mask that attached to a hole through which air pumped in to my nasal area. It would keep my nasal area full of air so my breathing tube wouldn't be closed off. She said I could return it Sunday, so I figured I had it for three nights.

Night 1 I could breath alright, but the noise kept me awake So detached myself from the gizmo.

Night 2 I took a pill and, although my nose was a little stuffed, I slept for a little while. When I awoke, my nose was more stuffed , so I detached from the gizmo again.

Tonight, I will take a sleeping pill my allergy pill, and snort some nasal spray and see how that works.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Sound of Thunder

I did something in class yesterday that I have never done in 26 years of teaching.

I farted in class.

It was during 4th period and the room was dead quiet--the students working more quietly than any classroom full of teenagers had ever worked. I was at front and center, my back turned to the class as I checked my wall calendar. If there had been a spotlight on me it couldn't have been more obvious who did it.

I could feel it looming inside of me and thought I had it under control, but somehow relaxed and it happened.

It wasn't very long or loud--more like the sound of a bubble bursting. But I know that at least a couple of girls in the front row heard it. When I turned around, trying not to look like I had just farted, they were both hiding their faces behind their books, trying to suppress their laughter.

Every move I made must have looked like I was trying to appear to have not farted. I tried not to look at the two girls for fear my eyes would betray me. I then looked at the girls for fear of not looking at them would make it look like I had done what I had done. I walked around the room, acting nonchalantly, but the cloud of guilt followed me.

Since no one else laughed or looked up, I'm pretty sure that only those two girls heard it. I'm sure that someone will write about this incident in their yearbook.

Another career milestone.