WARNING!

Reading this blog has made people want to kill themselves, so if you are easily depressed, perhaps you should find something more uplifting to do, like watch a Holocaust documentary or read a Cormac McCarthy novel.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Diet & Fitness Books of the Bible

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/lists/1hughes.html

DIET & FITNESS BOOKS OF THE BIBLE.

BY LAURENCE HUGHES

- - - -

Cross Training

Pontius Pilates

Low-Impact Ecclesiastes

Antiochcidents

Psweatin' to the Psalms

The All-You-Can-Eat Loaves-and-Fishes Diet

The AbsSolution

Power Walking on Water

Good Fat, Bad Fat, Jehoshaphat

The Flat Belly of the Whale Diet

Fit for Life Everlasting

Pillar-of-Salt-Free Cooking

YOU on a Diet of Worms

Take and Eat This, Not That

The Resurrection Regimen: Three Days to a Transmogrified You

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

standing on the precipice of what remains of my life

So obviously the great Lenten experiment was a bust. Ran out of energy/gumption/anything significant to write about at the end. But the attempt was there and at least I wrote something, which is more than I had been doing before Lent.

A fellow traveler posted something that rang true for me. I, too, haven't really "felt" much this Lenten season. No ecstatic highs. No epiphanies. No overwhelming sense of God's presence. And as faithful readers can attest, I had more than my share of lows this season - lower than I've been in quite a while. I don't believe the two are related (Lent and my bouts with depression), though I do wonder if my writing did at least bring some of what I experienced to the fore. Still not sure that was a good thing - still feeling the effects of it. Was a complete ass this afternoon during our staff social. Lack of sleep is definitely not helping much, either. Too awake when it's time to go to bed last couple of nights - was up until 1AM both nights, back up at 5AM. Not nearly enough sleep. Here's hoping I can get some over break. Sleep, that is.

'Twas a good weekend (I know, it was forever ago, right?). Good to see everyone and to remember Jeremy. Not that that doesn't happen normally, but you know how it is. Still hard to believe he's gone. Still hard to believe that the grass hasn't grown in front of his grave yet. :) While we were standing around, sharing memories and scaring off other visitors, I began to look around at the other headstones around Jeremy's. Names, dates, each one a story. I wonder about Walter and Raymond and their shared headstone and the 21-year difference in their ages. How did they find each other? What was their story? Or Earnest and Linda, who got married when when he was 42 and she was 25. Standing there I couldn't help but find hope in those stories I don't know, that maybe life isn't completely over once tomorrow comes.

Other unknown stories - a man with two young children came to a newly dug grave - not even a headstone yet. They didn't stay long, but I couldn't help wondering if they were their to visit their wife and mom. It just felt like that. Reminded me everyone deals with pain - too often we get caught up in our own stories and forget to look around and see we're all dealing with loss, we're all clinging to those closest to us to help us get through. There's a poem I often read to my classes that sums it up pretty well:

Tuesday 9:00 AM

Denver Butson

A man standing at the bus stop
reading the newspaper is on fire
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him
wants to mention it to him
that he is burning
but she is drowning
Water is everywhere
in her mouth and ears
in her eyes
A stream of water runs
steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop
freezing to death
She tries to stand near the man
who is on fire
to try to melt the icicles
that have formed on her eyelashes
and on her nostrils
to stop her teeth long enough
from chattering to say something
to the woman who is drowning
but the woman who is freezing to death
has trouble moving
with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time
to board the bus
what with the flames
and water and ice
But when they finally climb the stairs
and take their seats
the driver doesn't even notice
that none of them has paid
because he is tortured
by visions and is wondering
if the man who got off at the last stop
was really being mauled to death
by wild dogs.


One of my favorites.

Part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and stay up all night watching movies, trying to squeeze as much celebration as I can into tomorrow. I mean, it's not like I have to do anything once school ends, right? Although if I stay up all night tonight, I'll collapse in the middle of the Poms show tomorrow before I can get to Dewey's for my free pint glass and Graeters for my free scoop of ice cream (strawberry chip is back tomorrow!). I don't know. Of course, I'll probably be up anyway so I might as well do something. The question is, what should I watch? 40-Year-Old Virgin is a little too on the nose. Maybe a little High Fidelity. Watched that ten years ago when I turned 30. Though it might depress me just how little my life has actually changed since then...

Think I'll save talking about Sunday's Maproom until later. Our Journey to the Cross was a rough one for me. And it all started with this simple question: If you knew this was the last week of your life, how would you spend it? I'll share my thoughts for...well, probably Friday because I'll be too busy celebrating tomorrow to come here and type. Or maybe I won't be. We'll see.

See, after 11:00 and I'm not tired in the least. Not a good sign. One more hour until my birth-day (though technically I wasn't born until after 10:00 PM, so I don't turn 40 for another 23 hours). Goodbye 30s. Here's hoping my 40s are better than I can imagine right now...
Æ

Friday, March 26, 2010

write...now

Bad sign: not here because I have anything to share. Only here out of obligation and wanted to knock this out before spending the evening in my comfy chair catching up on TV and, if the spirit moves, watching some basketball.

You've been warned.

Final full day of classes today before spring break. Not that we're there yet - still four more days to go. But next week is whack: Black History Month speaker on Monday means I only see half my students and have 4+ hours (7:15 - 11:43) before I teach my first class (to clarify, Mason is aware Black History Month is in February, but we had a snow day when the speaker was originally planned and I have such an open time because I have first bell plan, which is when the speaker is planned); Tuesday is a "make-up" day for the speaker on Monday, which means I don't get a plan bell but do get to teach extended-remix classes for my first two bells to make up for not seeing them on Monday; Wednesday, which I nearly took as a personal day since I can't take off my birthday because it falls the day before a break, is our usual shortened primetime day; and Thursday, the day before break, we have a shortened schedule for an afternoon pep assembly (which, unfortunately, was not planned to celebrate my birthday. Oh well). All that is far more information than anyone needs about my coming week, but I thought I'd let you in on the craziness. Turns out doing a unit focused mostly on students being self-directed was a brilliant move on my part. Can't imagine trying to teach a "typical" lesson next week.

Because I am wonderfully blessed with four hours on Monday, I left all my grading at school and will tackle it on Monday. If I'm feeling up to it, I might try to grade the wiki discussions on Sunday night, but we'll see how I feel after the weekend.

This weekend is Jeremy's wake up in Mansfield/Bucyrus. Looking forward to seeing friends and remembering Jeremy (or is that Jerry?). Not looking forward to the 6+ hours in the car. Still hard to believe most days that he's gone. Just feels like he's moved away and I don't get to see him as often as I used to. Of course, going to the grave site kind of brings it all home. I do enjoy the fact that every time I've gone to the site, it's been mostly filled with laughter, which is what I think Jeremy would have wanted. Not sure how that goes over with the other visitors, but then, that fits Jeremy, too.

Lethargy is settling in - too much Jalapenos, not enough sleep. Time to excuse myself from my office and get comfortable in my comfy chair. On the playlist tonight: FlashForward (yes, I'm still watching), Important Things with Demitri Martin, Spartacus and, if I'm up to it, the first disc of the first season of The Wire. Never seen it. Afraid I might acquire a new addiction - just in time for spring break.

Not sure I'll get here tomorrow - leaving at 9AM and won't return sometime after midnight. We'll see how wired I am from the drive. In the mean time, do me a favor: find a friend you haven't talked to in a while and send them a message telling them how much they mean to you. Life's too short and people connect too rarely to let friendships die. Æ

Thursday, March 25, 2010

tie-errrrd

I am so going to get sick. Three hours dance rehearsal, sweating like a stuck pig, only to walk out into the nearly freezing rain. Hot cold, hot cold. Bleah. And I can already feel a lack of sleep coming on. Too wired to sleep, too tired to do much else. Lovely.

You know, I spend far too much time talking about myself on this blog, never taking a moment to ask you, my reader, how you're doing. So how are you? Life been treating you well? Seems like a lot of people's worlds came to an end this week - lots of skies falling, lots of praying for Jesus to return, lots of websearches on moving to other countries. Trust me, I've been there. For about eight years. You eventually get used to it.

My friend Brad, who teaches down in Florida, sent me a vision of my eventual future this week. Seems the powers that be, in an attempt to "improve" schools, have decided the problem lies with the teachers. Our schools would be successful if it wasn't for those selfish, lazy, overpaid know-it-alls clogging up the works. So they're in the process of passing a bill to solve the problem. The magic bullet? More testing, of course, paid for by the taxpayers and the school districts to fill the bottomless coffers of the test designers. There's a special interest group no one ever talks about but which wields incredible power in government. Below are some of the provisions, along with the commentary I sent along with it in italics.

The Florida Senate is right now working on a bill - SB 6 - that will seriously affect educators in the state of Florida. Here's what it will do if passed:

1. Takes 5% of all operating funds from each school district (estimated to be in the $900-$950 million dollar range) to be used to develop the tests which will be used to measure student learning gains and then to pay any performance pay benefits required by the bill. In essence, all teachers are paying for the cost of the test development and performance awards which may become due under this bill.

Yes, once again, testing companies have sold lawmakers a bill of goods, claiming they are the only way for true education reform. Because how do we know students are learning unless they can fill in bubbles and pass a test? To steal money from school districts to develop these tests is downright criminal. But you know, corporations now have more rights than citizens. Shows where our priorities are.

2. Places all new teachers on annual contracts for the duration of their teaching careers and the contracts may be non-renewed for any reason or no reason without recourse.

I know why they want this - too much "dead weight" according to them. But why can't they take care of the problem without punishing all teachers? Nothing like working with no job security and nothing to protect teachers from being wrongfully dismissed or pushed out (which happens more often than you think).

3. Requires 50% of performance appraisals to be based on student learning gains based upon end of course tests which don't yet exist.

Unfortunately, this is the next wave of reform and I'm convinced the majority of the country will move to these end of course tests in the next five years. Mason has already started giving them. They claim it's to track students' progress, but we all know eventually it will be tied to our reviews. They also claim it will only be used to reward good teaching (think bonus), but I doubt it stays that way. The good news is, judging from our experience, the tests are way simple, which is usually how standardized tests work - they shoot for the lowest common denominator, which, judging from the test, is pretty low. Which is probably good because they'll have a lowest common denominator work force to teach to the test.

4. Removes local decision-making by elected school boards or through collective bargaining on matters which relate to wages, hours andterms and conditions of employment.

Yes, by all means, let's take this out of local hands, who might actually have an understanding of their district's population and its needs, and give it to ...who? State officials? Some new bureaucracy? Brilliant.

5. Prohibits recognition of years of service or advanced degrees in determining teacher salaries.

I...have no idea what to say. How would this help? What problem would this solve? How is experience and education a bad thing, especially in education? Oh right, we want to base teacher salaries on how their students do. So are we going to do that for all professions? If a doctor's patients don't stay healthy, will we dock their pay? If a politicians constituency continues to break the law, could we demand they return their paychecks? Just checking.

6. Permits non-renewal of a teaching certificate if a teacher cannot demonstrate student learning gains in 4 of the preceding 5 years.

Again, we're back to tests being the "magic cure" for all of education's ills. Gotta hand it to the testing companies - they learned well from their teachers how to manipulate the system through propaganda. This is the problem when decisions like this are made by politicians who have only tangential connection to education and not by educators themselves. Frustrating. Wish they'd listen to educators, those actually, you know, teaching. I don't have solutions to all the problems, but I know bad solutions when I see them.

Look, I realize schools aren't perfect and there are teachers who need to find their true passion in life instead of drawing a paycheck and screwing up students. But denigrating the entire profession because of a few bad apples is demeaning and ultimately going to harm the ones reformers claim they want to help the most: the students.

OK, that took much longer than I anticipated. Hopefully I didn't put you to sleep. Unfortunately, it didn't put me to sleep, either. I think there might be a basketball game on or something. Maybe that will do it. Night.
Æ

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what's done is done

No beating myself up over missing the last few days. I know, I know, you're thinking, "Wait. Is this some impostor pretending to be Thurman. 'Cause he feels guilty like Kevin Smith tweets." Don't let this aberration throw you.Trust me, it's me.

Been an interesting week. And by interesting, I don't mean "Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die." OK, maybe not interesting. Odd? Does that work? Of course, my life is pretty odd anyway, so that doesn't help much. Ah, I've lost my adjectives. Screw it.

Been swimming through a sea of nostalgia this week. About a year ago, I gave my friend Steve all my old vinyl albums to rip into mp3s. They were sitting in my basement doing no one any good, but I couldn't just part with them. So he said he would rip them for me when he got the chance. Well, between foreign exchange students and adopting a son, he's been a bit busy. But on Monday he messaged me and told me he'd found a site I might want to check out: http://flipsidemn.blogspot.com/ So I did. And I was immediately transported to a time when I wore sleeveless shirts and headbands with no sense of irony.

I know this may be hard to believe, but I have not always been the indie musical elitist you see before you now. Back in junior high, I had a whole other obsession: Christian Rock. That's right boys and girls, I used to tow the line, refusing to purchase any music that didn't come from a Christian bookstore or wasn't featured in Campus Life magazine. In my defense, I stayed clear of bands that might be heard on what passed for Christan radio at the time. No Amy Grant. No Michael W. Smith. No Russ Taff. No, I stayed to the fringes of Christian music, which is why when I got older and moved from vinyl and tapes to CDs, I lost a lot of that music. Not like there was a lot of money to be made selling CDs by the obscure artists I liked.

But now, through this site, I've reliving my junior high days (ok, and some high school). Barnabas. Daniel Band. Undercover. Mad at the World. Messiah Prophet. Flock 14. The adult part of me wants to pick it apart, cringe at the derivativenes, mock the trite lyrics and bad theology. But the junior high me has been living it up all week. So strange to hear music I haven't heard for over 20 years. Scares me how many of the lyrics I still know by heart. I can't wait to get the batch my friend Steve has downloaded for me. Reminds me of a more innocent time, a time when the world wasn't quite so complicated and faith was as easy as yelling "God Rules!" at a concert.

Sometimes I wish it was still that easy.

The other event causing nostalgia overdosing this week is the loss of my favorite radio station - WOXY. I discovered WOXY about the time I realized listening to secular music wasn't going to send me to hell. Back then it was an over the air station from Oxford that barely reached Dayton. I was lucky if I got to listen to a whole song without static breaking in, especially if I was in my car. Even today, when I hear some of those songs I first experienced through WOXY, I half expect a burst of static to drown out the chorus. The music they played not only shaped my musical tastes during college, but in many ways sharpened my critical ear and broadened my horizons. I wouldn't be the person I am today without WOXY.

Now there's hope it will rise again - it's done so before, transforming into an internet only station. But until then, I will mourn the passing of such an important part of my life.

I have nothing else I want to share, so I think I'm going to try and go to bed early tonight, though last time I did that, I woke up in the middle of the night. I think my days of sleeping for more than six hours at a time are in the past. Guess the only thing left is to get my AARP card and start eating at Golden Corral at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Only one more week in my 30s. *sigh*
Æ

Saturday, March 20, 2010

not nearly long enough

There's the blank space here, waiting for me to type in, but as I stare at it, I can't think of anything important enough to share from my day today. Woke up late (well, for me, anyway). Watched some TV/DVR/Netflix stream. Went to Jalapenos. Used up my month's worth of shopping energy looking for a new TV. Took a nap. Helped celebrate Mac's birthday. Came home. Stared at the blank space until I started typing just a minute or so ago.

Really. Not much there.

I could talk about the miserableness of shopping - the overbearing sales assistants who try to convince you if you don't buy this TV right now you will regret it for the rest of your life because this amazing sale ends tonight and prices like this won't be seen again ever (at least, not until their next sale). But I'd rather not relive the experience.

Mac's last minute birthday celebration was great - went to McCormick and Schmicks and ate seafood for the first time probably this millennium. Had salmon which I liked. Didn't convert me to a seafood lover, but was very tasty. Tried some wine, too, which I still don't like. And since this was good wine, I think that confirms the fact that I'll probably never like wine. We were there about four hours - lots of great conversation and food.

Of course, I kept being asked what I was doing to celebrate my not dying for another year in a couple of weeks. I've got nothing planned. I think I'm in denial - if I don't celebrate it, it won't be real. Not sure why this birthday is screwing me up so bad - not like I had this problem when I turned 30.

Well, nothing I want to talk about here.

So glad I didn't do a bracket this year. Much more fun to root for all the underdogs. And to all my friends who picked Kansas: you should have known once everyone picked them that they'd lose. They only win when no one expects them to. You know how this works.

No where near 30 minutes but I'm calling it a night. Might go watch Withnail and I for the first time (thank you Netflix). Could use some good British humor (or is that humour?). And probably should figure out if I need to be at tomorrow's rehearsal or not. You would think I could figure that out. You'd be wrong. Night.
Æ

Friday, March 19, 2010

if you're wondering how my day went, this post won't help

I'm beginning to think this Lenten experiment was a bad idea. I didn't write last night because I had a crisis a faith. Not about my actual faith, but about writing. I thought adding this discipline to my Lenten remembrance would help me focus, would add something to this usual season of subtraction. But what I'm adding to the world isn't always a positive thing. Too often I focus on the dark side of life and I can't imagine anyone feels better or closer to God after reading my ramblings the past couple of posts.

Part of the problem is the inherent narcissism involved in writing, and especially in blogging. I constantly talk about the fact that I write for myself and no one else. What could be more selfish than that? And in this kind of blog, where I talk mostly about my life, the selfishness is increased tenfold. Is it any wonder my experience this Lent has been less than fulfilling. It's like I purposefully sabotaged it by choosing an activity that goes against the self-sacrificing spirit of the season.

Of course the flip side is that perhaps my writing has given me the opportunity to bring to the surface some thoughts and feelings that would normally stay hidden. Maybe my writing is a purging of the poisons inside of me so I can be healthier and can fill the vacuum left behind with better things. The problem is the process is quite unpleasant. It's been emotionally draining and has forced me to question who I am and where I'm going and in some cases where I've been.

Making it worse, I'm doing it in a public sphere as opposed to somewhere private like therapy or a private journal. I'm spewing all this nastiness on my friends who were probably only expecting a quick overview of what my day was like (of course, if they know me, they had to know that's not the way I tend to write). Initially I thought sharing these ideas might help others who felt this way. But I'm not sure all this ugliness is actually doing that. If it's making me more miserable and not helping others, maybe I'd be better off not doing it?

I don't know.

I'd hate to give up now, with only a couple of weeks left, but can't help thinking we'd all be better off if I did.

But for now we'll plow on. Thanks to all those who responded to my last posts. It's strange - I sound much more depressed in my writing than I actually feel. Hopefully that's some consolation to those who feared I might be going off the deep end. Contentment seems to be the issue - I'm not content with the way I am and perhaps I need to be. But as another blogger friend pointed out, once we become content, we stop trying to change, stop trying to make tomorrow better than the day before. At least that's the tendency. And perhaps that's one of my fears: that if I accept I will never get married, I will no longer put myself in situations where I could meet someone. I know, I know - it's when you stop looking that love finds you. Sorry, that may work for some people but it's never worked for me. Not that actively searching has done wonders either...It's not an either/or thing. Contentment and hope aren't mutually exclusive. At least I hope not. But how do we feel content when we're always hoping for something else out of our lives?

Been reading Klosterman's latest, Eating the Dinosaur. His essay on voyeurism, "Through the Glass, Blindly," touches on part of what I've been feeling/experiencing:

What are the things that make adults depressed? The master list is too comprehensive to quantify (plane crashes, unemployment, killer bees, impotence, Stringer Bell's murder, gambling, addictions, crib death, the music of Bon Iver, et al.). But whenever people talk about their personal bouts of depression in the abstract, there are two obstructions I hear more than any other: The possibility that one's life is not important, and the mundane predictability of day-to-day existence. Talk to a depressed person (particularly one who's nearing midlife), and one (or both) of these problems will inevitably be described. Since the end of World War II, every generation of American children has been endlessly conditioned to believe that their lives are supposed to be great - a meaningful life is not just possible, but required. Part of the reason forward-thinking media networks like Twitter succeed is because people want to believe that every immaterial thing they do is pertinent by default; it's interesting because it happened to them, which translates as interesting to all. At the same time, we concede that a compelling life is supposed to be spontaneous and unpredictable - any artistic depiction of someone who does the same thing every day portrays that character as tragically imprisoned (January Jones on Mad Men, Ron Livingston in Office Space, the lyrics to "Eleanor Rigby," all novels set in affluent suburbs, pretty much every project Sam Mendes has ever conceived, etc.). If you know exactly what's going to happen tomorrow, the voltage of that experience is immediately mitigated. Yet most lives are the same, 95 percent of the time. And most lives aren't extrinsically meaningful, unless you're delusionally self-absorbed or authentically Born Again. So here's where we find the creeping melancholy of modernity: The one thing all people are supposed to inherently deserve - a daily subsistence that's both meaningful and unpredictable - tends to be an incredibly rare commodity.
The two obstructions he points out - an unimportant life and a mundane predictability - are what I've been struggling with. And look, it's happening just before my 40th birthday. Great. I'm a cliché. But at least I'm not alone - can't be if I'm a cliché, right?

And I've run out of ideas and the fact that I slept not at all last night isn't helping. So I guess I'll keep writing for now. I only ask that you, my faithful readers, take my thoughts with a grain of salt. In some cases, with an entire saltlick's worth. 'Til tomorrow. Æ