2006-02-27

Oscar wisdom frothing

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I was once known as someone terribly knowledgable about current film. Not any more. But in case you are interested in how badly I anticipate losing Edgy's game, here's my savvy re: this year's nominated films on horrid display:

(key)

1-Seen it
2-Desperate to
3-Want to
4-Not interested enough to bother
5-Truly uninterested
6-This is a film?


    6-AUSREISSER (THE RUNAWAY)

    3-BADGERED

    1-BATMAN BEGINS

    4-BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

    2-CAPOTE

    6-CASHBACK

    2-CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

    1-THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

    5-CINDERELLA MAN

    4-THE CONSTANT GARDENER

    5-CRASH

    6-DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE

    6-THE DEATH OF KEVIN CARTER: CASUALTY OF THE BANG BANG CLUB

    6-DON'T TELL

    3-ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM

    6-GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA

    2-GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

    3-HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

    3-A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

    1-HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

    4-HUSTLE & FLOW

    6-JOYEUX NOël

    4-JUNEBUG

    2-KING KONG

    6-THE LAST FARM

    2-MARCH OF THE PENGUINS

    4-MATCH POINT

    4-MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

    3-THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION

    5-MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS

    5-MUNICH

    2-MURDERBALL

    6-THE MUSHROOM CLUB

    3-THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO

    4-THE NEW WORLD

    3-9

    5-NORTH COUNTRY

    6-A NOTE OF TRIUMPH: THE GOLDEN AGE OF NORMAN CORWIN

    2-ONE MAN BAND

    6-OUR TIME IS UP

    6-PARADISE NOW

    3-PRIDE & PREJUDICE

    6-SIX SHOOTER

    6-SOPHIE SCHOLL - THE FINAL DAYS

    3-THE SQUID AND THE WHALE

    1-STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH

    6-STREET FIGHT

    3-SYRIANA

    2-TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE

    5-TRANSAMERICA

    6-TSOTSI

    2-WALK THE LINE

    1-WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

    3-WAR OF THE WORLDS


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Sentence fragment reviews of the 1s:

    Batman: Very good indeed.
    Narnia: Even more disappointing than expected.
    Howl's: Good but not great.
    Star Wars: Nice recovery.
    Were-Rabbit: Quite enjoyable, chuck.


-----

Hoo. Not impressive. Not only have I only seen five of the films nominated, but it's all cartoons and popcorns. Some ill-in-the-head folks are likely to give me crap for that. So let's look at my (currrent) 2s as well, in hope of redemption:

    CAPOTE
    CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
    GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
    KING KONG
    MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
    MURDERBALL
    ONE MAN BAND
    TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
    WALK THE LINE


Am I redeemed?


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Now! I encourage you to take advantage of my alphabetization and make your own Oscar list. Show me up. I know you can.

Infighting

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So people have been coming to my blog still searching for that address over in England. I searched for it myself and finally figured out why people looking for it are arriving here: I posted it as part of that nasty, phishy email I had received. I hope people arriving here in search of more information are leaving wiser and not sending their personal information away in this ridiculous--but very well crafted--scam.

All people arriving at Thmusings in search of 21 Campshill Road Se13 6qu Lewisham London England please be warned that they're playing you for a sucker.

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On a more personal note, someone else arrived at my blog searching for daltongirl loves cicada more than you.

Fine.

But, Cicada, please be aware that I now hate you forever.

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Someone I like better is Miss Nemesis, since someone arrived searching for link:http://missnemesis.blogspot.com, and my dear wife because of the search lady steed california.

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Other recent searches include "why spam makes no sense" and another round of o' so krispie hairstyle.

It's good to know I'm providing such a vital public service.

Four (blanketyblankety) things

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Four Jobs I've Had

    Removing stickers from boxes
    Cleaning clean toilets
    Putting stickers on boxes
    Peddling alchohol, smokes, and pornography



Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over Again
    Napoleon Dynamite
    About a Boy
    The Incredibles
    The Hudsucker Proxy



Four Places I've Lived

    Bear Lake
    Nauvoo
    Cheju
    Tehachapi



Four TV Shows I Love

    Space Ghost Coast to Coast
    Malcolm in the Middle
    Futurama
    Arrested Development



Four Highly Regarded and Recommended TV Shows That I've Never Watched a Full Episode of

    Lost
    24
    My Name Is Earl
    Everybody Hates Chris
    (and practically any other one you could name)



Four Places I've Vacationed

    Grand Canyon
    Lake Tahoe
    Morro Bay
    the Moon



Four of My Favorite Dishes

    Plates
    Cups
    Saucers
    Fingerbowls



Four Site I Visit Daily
    Your blog
    My blog
    His blog
    Her blog



Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now
    Home
    Bed
    Asleep
    Mmmmm



Four Bloggers I Am Tagging

Homesick

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I want to be home with my wife and my child. Some days it kills me to leave in the morning. This is one of those days.

2006-02-26

Svithe: Text from Habbakuk

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(Note: First-time visitors brought by the LDOTFMOTNY Annual Report are invited to start their Thumsing experience here.)

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2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.


Nice, but arguably a mixed metaphor.

I don't suppose that matters....



Last week's svithe.

2006-02-25

prelude to A Month of Abject Poverty

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Since moving to the AV, Lady Steed and I have become rather more spend-happy. We eat out quite a bit, for instance. It did not used to be this way.

Recognizing our decent into monetary madness, a couple weeks ago we decided to declare March A Month of Abject Poverty, in which we would behave as fiscally responsible persons and not spend money on anything but milk, bread, eggs, and gasoline. That decision seems even more prescient now as we return from our trip to LA.

Calendrical difficulties

We arrived at the hotel and checked in; the district's check was sitting there, awaiting my arrival. The next morning we arose early and drove from Downey to Cerritos the hotel where I would be instructed in teaching young people to be intelligent. Only no one was there. Unless you include several hundred lawyers. Or Estée Lauder executives. Which I don't.

So I ran back out to the parking lot and asked Lady Steed and the Big O to wait a minute while I figured out what was going on. I found the hotel's event manager and discovered myintelligencee-instruction would be taking place not on Wednesday and Thursday, but on Thursday and Friday.

Huh.

So I called my district's sub-line, said I was going to be sick Friday, and returned to the parking lot, in sudden possession of a day off. First item of business: paying for an extra night at our hotel.

Travel Town

We decided to spend the day in LA's massive Griffith Park--especially in Travel Town, where the Big O could see all sorts of trains. (Including, it ended up, one with wheels taller than his father.)

While in Griffith Park, we spent $10 on minitrain rides.

Fortunately, the gift shop was closed.

Lunch

We left the park and freeway-meandered our way towards Hollywood, thinking we would magically run into the famous Pink's and get a dog with the Dogg, but instead we found The Hot Dog Show with its hot dog angel logo and ate there instead.

For $20.

Books
Courtesy of the RAMJAC Corporation
I had been reading my first-edition copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird that I picked up with a coupon at Pioneer Books once and so brought it with me to LA. The first day of the actual conference, I was reading the second-to-last paragraph just as Lady Steed arrived to pick me up. Our meeting place was in front of Borders and I was about 60 seconds away from standing up and walking inside to buy a new book.

Normally, I am not allowed to buy new books, since more than half of the zillion books we own I have not yet read. But since I was about to be alone in the wilds of LA without an unread book, that rule wasobviouslyy to be ignored. I was quite excited at the prospect.

Then that excitement was run over by a Ford Taurus driven by my wife.
You can only see her legs, I suspect, because her bodice has been ripped.
Which was okay. She was reading The Timetraveler'ss Wife--a Valentines gift--and was probably done by now, so I would just read that next.

Except she was not finished, curse her.

We stopped at a Costco near our hotel to get gas, only to discover it was a gasless Costco. But we stopped the car anyway and I went inside to purchase a book.

Not only was this Costco gasfree, but it was also nearly bookfree, the crummiest selection of any Costco I have ever seen. But I was able to find a worthy volume, and I purchased it.
Elementary, my dear WWAG.
I had read Michael Chabon before, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I had liked okay even though it polluted my mind with an image I fear I will never loose and which image still gives me the heeby-jeebies; and we own Summerland (though I have never read it, lovers aside).

Once again, I liked the book okay. I noticed that the author bio says he lives inBerkeleyy. So if Lady Steed and I end up moving to El Cerrito, I'll have to invite him to join Fob East Bay. (Although...can I start my own Fob? Yes, I'm a cofounder of the original Fob, but can a Fob be begun without a Master Fob? Before I met Master Fob, I had an idea for a writers group remarkably like the current incarnation of Fob called WWAG. Perhaps I'll invite Mike to WWAG East Bay. I'm sure he'll join. After all, having seen his picture, I now know that Michael Chabon is none other than my friend the Flourman. Done.)
Boo!
Anyway, Lady Steed was late picking me up Friday, so I finished The Final Solution and went inside to buy a book. I had a hard time deciding even what I felt like reading, but I ended up considering H.P. Lovecraft whom I know very poorly. I found him and picking a volume was tough--one had a lengthy introduction by Joyce Carol Oats!--but I settled on the one with this quote on the cover:

"On of the greatest short novels in American literature, and a key text in my own understanding of what that literature can do." --Michael Chabon.

Felt like destiny.
I have never actually read this before....
(Also: we wandered into a Ross Friday and purchased three books for the Big O, including the one pictured. Um, and jeans, sandals, a beading toy....)

Lady Steed and the Big O

While I was learning how to teach (more on that some other time), Lady Steed and the Big O went to the aquarium and the zoo, cheap prospects neither, and various freeway shenanigans. She can tell you about them--I wasn't there. Suffice it to say we lost money.

Food

Eating out.

(check)

Buying vast quantities of tasty frozen foods/crummy yogurt cups/ lots of cookies.

(check)

Eating out.

(check)

Money saved

We left LA so late Friday night, we did not make it to IKEA. Approximate savings: $215.

Not purchasing MirrorMask even though we were so happy to see it for sale. Approximate savings: $20.

Not purchasing train paraphernalia at Travel Town. Approximate savings: $35.

Not purchasing pufferfish tshirt. Approximate savings: $15.

Therefore:

Therefore, we enter March more certain than ever that it must become A Month of Abject Poverty.

Therefore, if you invite us to dinner, you're paying.

We have a Marie Callender pie in the fridge we can share afterwards.

And lots of cookies.

2006-02-21

When I drive, I drive with my brights on

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My commute is through a deserted desert wilderness. Speeds are generally high and the roads have just enough wave to them that you can never be entirely sure you can see all of oncoming traffic. And so passing has this delicious element of danger. Tastes like iron filings. Yum!

Anyway, because of the desert, I, even in daylight, tend to put my lights on.

Skip ahead to my mechanical abilities:

Besides my lack thereof, there is also the fact that whenever my beloved Lapper loses a headlight, it is the dead of winter. And so I am changing a headlight with numbed fingers. Thereby losing screws and springs and nuts into the guts of the automobile, never to be recovered.

The result is that now, one headlight points up into space, a little to the right of the car. The other’s not exactly right on either.

And so in order to see at night, I have to use my brights.

I have electrical problems anyway and so my “brights” are still duller than most people’s dims. The brights have been on nonstop for two years now and only one person has flashed me. They were obviously insane.

The only people ever to be bothered by my headlights are truckers I’m passing—as the one headlight shoots directly into their cab. Poor truckers.

So I have my brights on. And I usually have them on day and night.

But the Lapper’s getting a break this week. Lady Steed, the Big O and I are going to LA in the Taurus tonight. I have a seminar the next two days and the other two get to go to the zoo and a train museum. They’ll have fun, but I’ll get the better food.

More on why they don’t get good food when we get back.

In the meantime, read this post over and over.

2006-02-20

LDotFMotNYl: Deleted Scenes (2)

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(Notes:

(This is the second in a series of scenes deleted from the LDotFMotNY letter. The first included an explanation of what these scenes are.

(If you are here because of the LDotFMotNY letter, you are cordially invited to visit this post first.)


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(Rolling the second deleted scene.)


Thteed and Fob Families Meet to Discuss Possible Merger

This summer, the Thteed Family had a weeklong meeting with Fob Family Inc to feel out the possibility of a merger between Junior Member the Big O and Fob junior member S-Boogie in 23 years . A good time was had by all, though the Big O did not approve of the hugging that occurred.

An additional meeting was held in December to test the viability of this merger, where innocent kissing occurred. However, caution reigns as other suitors, unable to meet this year, remain eligible and available.

Together, the Big O and S-Boogie pursue knowledge with an intellectual furor rarely seen in almost-two-year-olds.

The first time is always a little awkward....

Caption: >>Junior member Big O Thteed and Junior member S-Boogie Fob enjoying reading and the Big O barely tolerating hugging






















Commentary

This scene is unique in that it was totally penned by Lady Steed. (This is not why it was cut.)

The ultimate reason this scene was cut is simple (and don't tell S-Boogie): the Big O has another long distance relationship with another girl named S-Boogie (what are the chances!) and although he has not seen her since December 2004, it seemed unkind to send her an LDotFMotNY letter with this scene included.

Lady Steed fought hard to keep it, since the event in question was included in the Fob's Christmas letter, but I prevailed.

Did we make the right decision?

You be the judge.

All I'll say is that the year-end kissing mentioned did not look so innocent to me....

2006-02-19

My First Svithe

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(Note: First-time visitors brought by the LDOTFMOTNY Annual Report are invited to start their Thumsing experience here.)

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Shortly after I began teaching at Bedrock High, the teacher in whose room I teach sixth period, got into his browser's history and found my blog. He asked me about it the next day and thought it was strange that I would be so open about my life in such a potentially public forum. I have never particularly considered my blogging to be that revealing but I understood his concern. Then he asked me if a blog was like a prayer list or something.

A prayer list.

I was immediately disappointed in myself that I had never used Tehachapiltdownman as a religious forum. And told myself that when we brought the Internet into our home, I would blog each Sunday on something godly. This is the first such venture. And the first such venture begins in an unusually ungodly manner: With boasting.

Yesterday I learned how to juggle.

That's right, yesterday. Juggling. And in the last, oh 36 hours, I've gotten pretty decent at keeping three items in the air. I started with toy carafes, then decided to roll some socks and use those instead.

I suppose for some people, learning a new trick is no big deal, but I am the oldest and doggiest person you can ever hope to meet. I haven't learned a new trick since my few months of motorcycling back in the early Nineties. And before that it was learning to ride a bike at age six. I don't learn new tricks. It's not something I do. It's one of the ways I'm able to hold onto my title as World's Most Boring Person, Northern Hemisphere. (And someday I will best that Kiwi Matilda Methelsen and take the Whole World title.)

The religious significance of this new skill is simple: It is never too late to change. If I can learn to juggle, I can maybe learn to exercise, thus living past forty; I can maybe learn to move outside myself and better love my neighbors, thus adding to the beauty of the world; I can maybe learn to serve God with my whole heart, might, mind and strength, thus making a difference to Him, to me, and to the people I love--or should love.

Being a Christian is not a simple thing. The concept is simple, of course, but truly loving all the people in the world? Have you tried it?

If I can make my next new trick charity, I suppose I'll be doing okay. I guess I'll start by, gulp, trying to love you. Wish me luck.

2006-02-18

On being a writer

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I'm sorry I can't give credit to the artist, but you all deserve to see this, and I am interested in whether or not animated gifs can be posted. Call it an experiment.


Don't try this at home.

2006-02-17

Celebrating home, smithies

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Hi.

You'll never guess where I am.

I'm at home.

Sweet, isn't it?

(Note: If you are here because of our annual report, please visit here first. Then, you might be interested in this spot as well.)

Today Adelphia arrived and hooked us up. Lady Steed just caught up on her email, Thmusings and Nem's blog and has a headache. So I'm taking over.

Given that this post is being written at and will be posted from home, I feel a need to do a homey post. And what could be homier than Martha Stewart?

This year is Martha Stewart Living's fifteenth anniversary and in honor of that milestone the magazine is featuring Fifteen Years of Dessert, Fifteen Years of Garden Greats, Fifteen Years of Good Things, etc.

I admit that I read much of Lady Steed's Marthas. I enjoyed the articles on peppers in this month's for instance, and I remember one on lemons I really dug.

But what I am really looking forward to is next month's issue, which will feature Fifteen Years of Metallurgy. I lost the instructions for making gilded nickel doilies and I've been wanting to make some in the cluny style.

The thing that most people don't realize is that metallurgy is not just for women. In fact, many men have been involved in metallurgy from the earliest ages--from Achilles to Vulcan to Nephi to Aaron Burr to Napoleon Dynamite. It is a tradition with wholly repectable masculine undertones.

What bugs me is that I can't even mention metallurgy without people conjuring up images of prim and proper ladies gathered around a forge, gossiping and making frilly things out of copper.

Copper!

It's all that %@#* Susan B. Anthony's fault of course, barging into places where she didn't belong. If she had stopped at the polls this world would be a better place. And no doubt women can work a forge as well as any man, but why did men have to be banned from smithing?

What was once a perfectly respectable profession for men is now as bad as being a nurse, librarian or lumberjack! It's just not fair!

Of course, you know, I'm joking.

And if any of you women have a cast iron cluny pattern, I will accept it from you with the utmost humility.

2006-02-16

Wrong man for the job

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(Note: first-time arrivers who come via a blue envelope are invited to start their journey here.)

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If the stars now aligned remain aligned long, my life may be about to make a major turn.

My classes at Bedrock High actually went quite well today. Through some series of miracles I successfully wrangled groups of 30+ sophomores for 90-minute stretches. My career thoughts are not initiated by my well understood inadequacies. My thoughts are deeper and come to the root of What Is a High School Education?

I am listening to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on cd in my car as I have been driving to and from work. Today the character Phaedrus has reached a realization:


    The Church of Reason [the university], like all institutions of the System, is based not on individual strength but upon individual weakness. What's really demanded in the Church of Reason is not ability, but inability. Then you are considered teachable. A truly able person is always a threat.


And I realized it is true.


I have come up with the following statements which I feel reflect what should be true:


    What is the purpose of a university?

    Teaching?

    No! No! No! No! No!

    Learning?

    Closer, but no.

    The purpose of the university is the pursuit of truth.

    The pursuit

    of truth.

    All people at the university, old and new, instructor and student, are alike in their pursuit of truth.

    For that is the purpose of the university.


Not so at the high school.

Last week in my waste-of-time class, we discussed that college requires abstract, original thought--which high school's requirements of rote memorization and regurgitation of facts fails to prepare them for.

I desire to teach high school students to think. That is my goal. I admit I'm not yet very good at it but believe I could become good at it.

Tonight in my waste-of-time class, we discussed Problems that teachers have to deal with (eg, religion, sexual harassment, abuse, etc). The possibility of a student bringing up the Scopes trial or creationism or whatever came up. The professor said to express no opinion and refuse to discuss the issue with students.

I countered that what the students needed was instruction in differing epistimologies so that they can see how one epistemology fits in with a school environment while another may not--and that one epistemology does not threaten another. I was told that in no circumstance should I ever do that, that I would be opening a can of worms and that angry parents would be at my throats in no time.

For teaching epistemology?!?! For teaching kids how to think?!?!

What am I doing here? Why should I teach if I can't teach thinking? What good are facts without a mind to process them?

Am I about to get in trouble because today I used a New Testament example to explain a vocabulary term? Because we listened to a Simon & Garfunkel song about suicide?

I believe in being open and forthright with kids. If they ask me a question, they will get a straight answer. Sometimes even in words they don't expect a teacher to use. (And this from the guy with a notorious unwillingness to swear or get drunk.) Does that mean I shouldn't be teaching high school students?

I think the very question is ridiculous.

High school students deserve the right to be spoken to straightly and to be respected as peers and to think. If I don't give them those three things, I cannot consider myself a success.

And if being a successful teacher by my standards means my career is in jeopardy, then what am I supposed to do? Must a be I failure to succeed?


Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........


Anyway, tonight in my waste-of-time class I got a paper back with the following portion highlighted. Once again, I thought I was being too smartalecky obnoxious for my own good and ended up being rewarded for it. Do you think this belongs in a serious paper?


    Every child who has the right to study flute should be required to study flute. Every child who has the right to study piccolo should be required to study piccolo. Every child who has the right to study percussion should be required to study percussion. Every child who has the right to study drums should be required to study drums. Every child who has the right to study high hat should be required to study high hat. Where do we stop? After all, must every child study high hat just because he has the right to? What will our then ultra-virtuous society do with the overabundance of high hat players it will be producing?


Gotta love the high hat....

2006-02-15

LDotFMotNYl: Deleted Scenes (1)

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(Note: This post refers to the Last Day of the First Month of the New Year letter sent out by my family. If you are here because you received that letter [or if you want background information before proceeding], please read this post first.)

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I love me my DVDs. And the more better the extra features, the more better I love the DVD.

One beloved feature, of course, is the deleted scene. I find film a mysterious process--I wish I understood how a camera angle elicits an emotion or how cutting at this frame rather than that creates a totally different effect, but I don't. It's a mystery. But watching deleted scenes helps me understand filmmaking just a little bit better.

Similarly, some people love them their Last Day of the First Month of the New Year letters. And who can blame them? But perhaps they do not understand how such a thing is put together. In order to demonstrate the process in some small way, I will be featuring some deleted scenes (with commentary) here on Thmusings. Alas, but the scenes are not polished. Like on the DVD where the green screen is still visible and James Newton Howard Shore's awesome score is missing, these scenes are in second-draft form and lack the design that Lady Steed brought to those that made the final cut. Also: no pictures.

Before this first scene, let me explain a bit how the scenes have been altered to fit in with Thmusing's format:

I appear as Thmazing or Theric (as the whim strikes me); my dear wife appears as Lady Steed, and our son appears as the Big O.

Not so in the original.

Our last name was inspired by LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's. His name before marriage was Antonio Villar. He and his wife combined their last names (she was a Raigosa) and their new nom thus appeared. I think that's pretty cool, and if Lady Steed and I had names that meshed better it may have been worth considering. (Of course, by the tenth generation, people would have names like Smithmacdougaltayloroatsprenticemibonaparte, but that's for another post).

However! in blog world, we'll pull it off:

I hereby declare our family name to be (for now) Thteed.

(A truly excellent name because it is difficult not to spit while saying it.)

Anyway, enough of that. On with our first deleted scene. Roll 'em!


Thteed Family Policy on the War on Christmas

Contrary to allegations made by certain radio hosts, the Thteed Family has not aligned itself with the forces of evil in the War on Christmas. In fact, the Thteed Family began its Last Day of the First Month of the New Year-letter tradition nearly a full calendar year before hearing of the War on Christmas. So what we have here is another instance of the forces of evil aligning themselves with the Thteed Family. You can stop mailing us your angry letters now.


Commentary

Space constraints are what really killed this one. As the price of the letter mounted, we realized that we were going to have to cut down on the total number of pages--The War on Christmas policy thus took the ax.

There were some artistic differences on this decision as I loved the policy and thought it was worth saying lest our more conservative loved ones grow concerned for our spiritual well-being.

But Lady Steed thought, No, no, no! Th'policy's gotta go!

And so it did.

In terms of design, the letter is better without it. In terms of a written package however, I still think the loss was tragic.

Thank goodness for blogs where gems like this can live forever!

2006-02-14

Don't be shy!

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(Note: If this is your first time here and you are arriving because of an envelope you received in your mail, please visit this page first.)

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Today as I, in my decidedly noncreepy, husbandly way, looked at Lady Steed as she slept and before I left for work, I had a simple epiphany, one I think is part of the Happy Marriage Equation.

When I first took the leap and began saying mushy things to Lady Steed, it was risky business--opening my heart up to all sorts of dangers with plenty of opportunity for disaster. But these were important sentiments and they had to be said. That opening up to danger is the only way to----

Here's a metaphor: Open heart surgery is dangerous, even in the best of circumstances. Opening the metaphorical heart is just as dangerous. But one metaphorical heart is only part of a heart, and until mine was combined with Lady Steed's, they were incomplete. That risky surgery of melding two open hearts into one was the only way to make them whole.

Now, years later, it occurs to me that the sap flows less frequently. And sometimes the distance of years makes its silliness more apparent. But that sappy, silly, sentimental schlock is still true schlock and I can never feel silly for saying I love you and you are beautiful and I want to live each day more worthy of your love, more desperate for eternity, more certain of its surety. Because, in matters of the heart, saying it makes it so.

And it is so.

Lady Steed, I love you.

St. Valentine's unadulterated truth

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(Note: Those who are arriving because of their copy of the LDotFMotNY letter are invited to begin their journey here.)

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In my freshmen classes today we are making up histories for one or all of those elusive Valentines. To demonstrate how this could be done, I wrote the following stories as a sort of performance art--as I typed, the story was projected upon a screen in the front of the class.

St. Valentine of Constantinople

born 523 in Constantinople
died 548 at a crossroads outside Constantinople

When St. Valentine was born, his parents called him Peter Valentine after his uncle Valentine and that Christian guy Peter. Peter was interested in Christianity because of that and became a Christian himself. When he was twenty, he became a priest and started marrying Christians to each other. All the Christian kids liked Peter and his wedding services became the hot thing in Constantinople and there was a waiting list seven months long. The authorities heard about it and didn’t like what they heard. After all, in these days Christians were good for only one thing: Lion Chow.

So they arrested poor Peter and locked him up. They did not understand, however, just how popular he was among the kids of Constantinople. Before they realized there was any risk, all the marriage-hungry teenagers and twenty-somethings broke into Constantinople prison and broke Peter out so he could marry them.

He stayed up for 60 hours straight marrying everybody before the authorities caught up with him. They told him if he did not revoke all the marriages he had performed they would kill him. He said, “Nay, for love is the most important thing in this world of ours.”

Well, that ticked them off. So they grabbed him by the beard and drug him through the streets till his clothes and skin had all worn off and his blood was pooling in the gutter. Then they took him out of town to a small but much traveled crossroad and they all picked up rocks from the side of the road and threw them at him as hard as they could until he was dead. Then they cut him into pieces and buried him right there in the street.

The people whom Peter Valentine had married never forgot him though and in memory of his dismembered body, they made cards that looked like bloody hearts and exchanged them as symbols of their love and of the man who had made it possible for them to lives their lives bound by holy matrimony.


St. Valentine

born 552 in Rome
died 639 near Rome

Valentine was born to poor parents in the worst part of Rome. His father was killed in a street fight when Valentine was only ten days old and his mother caught dysentery ten years later.

The orphaned Valentine was adopted into a monastery and raised by monks. Since in those days it was still illegal to be a Christian, the monastery was hidden on a farm outside of Rome. Whenever soldiers happened by, the monks would do all they could to hide the fact that they were in fact Christians—but the rest of the time they were out doing good works and that sort of stuff.

Valentine really got into the whole monk thing. He liked helping out poor people etc. When he turned twenty-five, the other monks put him in charge of all the marriages they performed.

The way it worked was this: two young Christian kids would fall in love and the way things worked, they would have to be married by a monk or they didn’t believe the marriage was real.

By the time Valentine took over the weddings, there were getting to be a lot of Christians in Rome—most of them young people who would soon find themselves coming to the monastery to get married. The legal officials found it suspicious how many people were visiting this “farm” and sent spies to check it out. They found Valentine performing illegal Christian weddings and soon Valentine found Roman soldiers bursting into the farm. They told him to renounce his religion and to revoke the marriages he had performed. He refused and the soldiers dragged him out into the front of the monastery and beheaded him.

After Valentine’s execution, his fellow monks buried him and on the cross they placed at his head they wrote, “He died for love.”

2006-02-10

Search engine update

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(If you are here for the first time because of a certain annual report, a special welcome awaits you here.)

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Blogpatrol has been nothing but trouble lately and some wiseguy decided to block SiteMeter from Bedrock High's computers so it looks like I will never get to know who what where when why about this blog ever again. Therefore I am sharing what little I know about which keywords have led folks to Thmusings since 2005.01.19 before the information becomes even more out-of-date and incomplete:


14yrold

21 Campshill Road. Se13 6qu Lewisham, London, England

Answer Key + The Devil and Tom Walker

artificial perfection

bunnies

funkadelic wallpaper

gromit as an adjective

Nigerian Prince

o so krispie hairstyles

thmazing



The one I am most interested in is the address. I don't know how someone looking for that address found Thmusings, but what really gets me is trying to imagine who might live there. It's not Nemesis or Queen Zippergut, this I know. Perhaps this is the work of βρείτε, the Fate of Search Engines, trying to introduce me to a new friend?

Or maybe it is the Search Engine Gremlins preparing a foul-minded trap.

I can see I need to start hashing out an internet mythology so I know who to thank, who to blame, and who to burn incense to when I can't get my stats....

Any suggestions?

(ps: Please don't be obnoxious like me and post suggestions in Greek. Only a total jerk would do something like pretend he knows Greek just to name a new Fate. I swear.)

(pps: Also it would be obnoxious to act like I don't know the word whom. I swear.

(ppps: Have you visited my wife lately? I swear.)

Why Lady Steed?

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Why indeed?

2006-02-09

Grammy recap

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(Note: All those welcome souls who are arriving here for the first time because of a certain blue envelope that arrived in the mail are cordially invited to first visit this post.)

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Well, I did okay with those predictions, I suppose. Not bad. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the Academy's official page still doesn't have all the winners marked so I can't make a final tally of my successes.

Alas that Napoleon Dynamite did not win (who knew it was nominated!) although hurrah for The Incredibles for pulling of one win from several nominations.

You know, the Recording Academy's calendar must be a fascinating piece of work....

My only regret in not watching the Grammys was missing Paul McCartney perform with Jay-Z and Linkin Park. Not only did I not see it, but I'm having trouble even imagining it. Given that "Yesterday" is the most recorded pop song is history, I would not have thought we needed another version. I obviously could not have been more wrong.

Categories I never knew existed until this morning:
Category 61 - Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album
Category 63 - Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album
Category 69 - Best Hawaiian Music Album
Category 74 - Best Polka Album
Category 89 - Best Historical Album

You know, I would like a Grammy--say in 2010? I'll start working on that goal this year by writing some killer liner notes. After all, even if I get them out there too soon--this year even--they'll still be eligible in 2010, right?

Right.

2006-02-08

The Last Day of the First Month of the New Year Letter, 2006

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It's too late. The list is made, the envelopes are stuffed, we're headed to the post office--and only nine days late. (Being late is part of the tradition.)

Since Lady Steed and I were wed, we have planned to send out an annual family letter--just on some holiday other than Christmas. (Note: This should not be construed as demonstrating our allegiance to those warriors against Christmas, as may be explained later according to certain principles that will be explained later.) We originally planned on picking Halloween since it is Lady Steed's favoritest of holidays, but in the end we just made up our own holiday: the Last Day of the First Month of the New Year.

January 31, 2005 was the first year we sent out such a letter and this year is the second.

This year's is a much more elaborate creation, although receivers should keep in mind that the letter is, after all, still only in its second year. And given our resources, please forgive any extremely embarrassing spelling errors or my blood on your staples.

This blog post is particularly aimed at people who have never been to Thmusings before and have arrived here via the LDotFMotNYl. No one else feel left out, but I am now going to introduce Thmusings to said neophytes.

Thmusings (née Tehachapiltdownman) is a blog written by me. I am Thmazing. I am also Theric. Many people just call me Th. Pick any of those. But not my so-called real name--for anonymity reigns on Thmusings.

Thmusings is many things--most of which are not according to instructions.

Anyway, welcome. If you are coming here because of our letter, you are welcome. Feel free to look around--I can vouch for the crowd that hangs here.

And to those of you who are longtime Thmusings visitors, you're still welcome too, of course.

As an added bonus to those who have received the letter and are now visiting Thmusings, and as an added bonus to those who have not received the letter but are still visiting Thmusings, I will be posting some Deleted Scenes from time to time. The scenes were deleted from the L-Dot F-Mot letter, but will live anyway when they find a home here. Our family policy on the War on Christmas is one such deleted scene. I would even include it now but it's at home and I'm not and, well, you know....

Anyway, one more time: Welcome. Young and old, innocent and experienced. Come thmuse with me.

2006-02-07

Thmazing's Exhaustive Grammy Coverage

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It is true that I'm not as hip as I used to be. It is also true that I was never terribly hip in the first place. But that doesn't mean I'm a complete idiot and so I thought I would help Vegas out and decide the odds for some of the big races.

(Don't miss the Grammys! On tv! Wednesday! Like I will! Let me know what happens!)

Record of the Year: Well, I haven't heard Mariah's or Kanye's entries, but I understand most oddsmakers like one of them to win. I've heard the Green Day song and it's pretty good. If "Hollaback Girl" is the Fiddler on the Roof song, then I've heard it too. It's okay, but how did that become the biggest song of the year? If the Gorillaz song is the one with the laughing then it's terrific. It should win. Let's give it, um, 2:1. In fact, let's give all my choices 2:1.

Album of the Year: Okay, the only one of these albums I've heard is the U2 one and I didn't like it much. The only other one I'm rather interested in hearing is Paul McCartney's. But even though Kanye West is way too cocky, no doubt he's expected to win a bunch of stuff. Let's give him this one. 2:1.

Song of the Year: I guess I've heard the U2 sing since I've heard the album, but I don't remember it. Which means I haven't heard any of these songs. But John Legend looks like a nice guy. 2:1.

Best New Artist: Hmm. Well, I hear it's between Fall Out Boy or John Legend, but we already gave something to JL. Besides, shouldn't someone named FOB get a Grammy? 2:1.

Best Female Pop Performance: I've heard the Kelly Clarkson song and liked it so much I'm embarrassed. We already mentioned Gwen's "Hollaback" and Mariah, which leaves Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, both of whom I like, but especially Sheryl. But I don't know either song. I take it this is what has been on the radio? Let's give it to that AI girl. 2:1.

Best Male Pop Performance: I find it hard to believe I've really never heard these songs. I mean--is it possible to never hear a hit Rob Thomas song? But Stevie Wonder's nominated with a song that has a title that matches a line in a Lionel Richie song. Given my adult contemporary format raising, (Stevie + Lionel) / 2 = Wicka Cool. Let's give it to Stevie at 2:1.

Best Hard Rock Performance: I thought Audioslave was a speaker brand. Huh. Well, I have heard one of the songs off Nine Inch Nail's new album and it was cool. Let's give it to Trent. 2:1.

Best Metal Performance: Again, I know nothing. But I don't see how a Rammstein song couldn't be cool. How's 2:1 sound?

Best Rock Song: Hmm. Foo Fighters. Weezer. Coldplay. U2. Bruce Springsteen. I wish I was familiar with these songs. Well, Foo Fighters are also up for Best Surround Sound Album, so you know it's a good song. 2:1.

Best Rock Album: Now, I gave this U2 album to Lady Steed two Christmases ago. How is it even eligible? I think for this one I'll pick that least likely to sound like the others. Neil Young--wanna Grammy? 2:1.

Best Alternative Album: Beck's Guero is the only other nominated thing we own and I love it. But I think Arcade Fire is a great name for a band; I'm always hearing about Death Cab for Cutie; I feel bad for not owning a White Stripes album (and because Missy Elliot likes them and I only know the Napoleon song); and apparently Franz Ferdinand are Scotland's best export since golf. But I don't like golf. Nor do I like guilt. But it is a powerful persuader. White Stripes, 2:1.

Best R&B Song: Haven't heard 'em. But Alicia Keys has a piano. That's hot. 2:1.

Best R&B Album: Earth, Wind and Fire? Are they still around? Give them a Grammy! 2:1.

Best Contemporary R&B Album: I haven't so much as heard of three of the nominees, let alone their albums. Since it's supposed to be Mariah's year and since I haven't given her anything yet, let's give her this--2:1.

Best Rap Song: Let's see.... 'Kay, the 50 Cent vote'll cancel itself out leaving.... Well, since Kanye and I share politics, let's give him this one. 2:1.

Best Rap Album: Master Fob has made me want to hear Common's album, which is a powerful achievement. But let's face it: Kanye looks like Jesus. This one is his too. 2:1.

Best Country Song: I have reason to believe that, although most modern country is annoying, I may like Brad Paisley (though I have yet to see hard evidence). I have no reason to doubt how irritating Gretchen Wilson is. Also up are Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Lee Ann Womack. Getting all logistical on ya, I'm going with Rascal Flatts because their (his?) song is also nominated for song of the year. 2:1.

Best Country Album: Easy one. Gotta love Trisha of course, but the only way anyone can even pretend to compete against Alison Krauss for a Grammy is if they are either Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris. If I live a thousand years and never hear the album, it's still going to Alison Krauss and Union Station. 2:1.

Jazz Whatever: I haven't seen any noms for the jazz categories, but you know the Thelonious Monk / John Coltrane cd must be nominated. So it's going to win. 2:1.

That ought to cover the biggies. Print this out and make yourself a checksheet and rake in the dough.

Thursday, come back and share your awesome success stories.

Minimalism

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2006-02-06

Update: Internet

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So I know many of you are sick of hearing my side of the story untempered by any rebuttals from Lady Steed. Well, here's the deal:

1. We decide to go DSL.

2. We contact Verizon.

3. I spend many, many minutes getting all my questions answered to make sure this alleged deal is not, instead, a hidden shaft.

4. Convinced, I decide to sign up.

5. After the signing-up process is complete, the guy tells me, "Oh. Darn. We can't accept any more DSL customers in your area right now. When someone drops their service, call back and we'll hook you up. Good-bye."

6. A couple weeks later, we decide that Verizon DSL is never going to happen.

7. We decide we are willing to pay extra for Adelphia's cable service.

8. I call Adelphia and they set an appointment for their man to come by Monday, February 6 to hook us up.

9. Our video card dies.

10. Adelphia calls to confirm; we cancel.

And that's how things stand at the moment.

I swear I'm not keeping Lady Steed from you and that she's not locked up in our attic or anything.

I swear.

Cursed editing

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It doesn't matter how much something is looked over and triple checked because one repealed change considered for design purposes only will result in something like opportunnity to slip through. It will, of course, immediately be noticed during assembly, but then it is too late.

We're not wealthy people!

So far I have found two such errors...and they are on the same page. It's enough to break your heart....

2006-02-03

The world turned upside down

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For some reason, the grade distribution in my classes tends to look like an upside-down bell graph. Here's an example:

Sad, isn't it?

I don't know why this is. Of course, most of the Fs are from students who won't do anything. And then, I suppose, since I make it hard not to get a good grade in my class, the chart becomes top heavy.

What I do know is that this distribution says something about my teaching and that something is not good. I just don't know what that something is.

Blog Post #163, in which Theric apologizes

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I am writing this without looking at my last post or at the Fobcave comments that inspired it. Not looking because it might color the contriteness I feel right now.

I don't think I made any personal attacks as I went on and on, but my manner of speaking when I get on topics I feel moral outrage against (eg, genital mutilation, pedophilia, diamond engagement rings), sometimes my rhetoric results in people feeling that I do not respect them or their ideas.

While I grant the latter may be true, I don't intend the former.

I don't know how many people I fatally offended by going off against diamond engagement rings while at BYU. I would rattle off stats about slavery and limbs lost in Sierra Leone, about market manipulation, about al Qaeda, about how DeBeers's actions almost threw WWII to the Nazis, about going into marriage in debt for a trinket, about how a virtuous woman's price may be above rubies but it doesn't seem to be above diamonds, about buying and selling love for hunks of stone....

Perhaps you can see how offensive I was to all the poor girls whose innocent hearts were set on getting a gaudy monstrosity and calling it love.

Whoa.

Okay, I need to work on this apology thing a little more.

Let's start with Edgy, whom I aimed at most directly. I'm sorry if any barbs hit you--I'll cover the therapy bills.

Bawb--I hope my quoting you did not seem intended to make you look stupid. I swear that wasn't my intent at all.

To all the people uncertain, I apologize if my heavyhandedness made it seem like I think you're idiots for even considering cutting up babies.

....

I'm looking over these apologies and realizing I'm not doing a very good job. Maybe this is an occasion where I just need to shut up for a while and hope everyone forgets that I ever spoke out on this subject.

But, while you're forgetting, don't forget me entirely. Please. That would be too great a punishment to bear.

2006-02-02

Don't!

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For those of you who missed my impassioned rant(s) over at the Fobcave, I'm going to continue in a similar manner here. If you find me an insufferable, self-righteous prig, I apologize. Go away until I am better. And if you find yourself discounting all my snipcentric opinions because I am obviously a lunatic, LEAVE NOW!!!!!

This post, you may be happy to hear, is not about cutting off chunks of your man-child, but about body mutilation all sorts.

Body mutilation. I'm against it.

I have a pretty liberal definition regarding What Body Mutilation Is, so maybe we should start there (WARNING: this is were the insufferable, self-righteous priggishness starts up).

Body mutilation: Any purposeful yet purposeless alteration of the body, esp. with sharp instruments.

Examples: tattoos, piercing (whether tongue, uvula, fingerflesh, ear, nose, nipple, whatever), burning, scarring, etc etc etc.

Yes, I am even against one modest earring.

Now I should admit that when we were engaged there were a certain pair of earrings that Lady Steed would wear that in certain circumstances could become the sexiest fool things on the planet. But just because I find something sexy doesn't mean I think it is good and right. Maybe if I had a makeout session with someone with a tongue stud I might find that sexy too. Doesn't erase all the many, many health and dental problems associated with them. (Or the fact that I just think it's wrong.) And if Lady Steed thought a Prince Albert to be hot stuff?

No. Way.

So I don't find sexiness a reasonable argument. And if not sexiness, then definitely not cuteness or attractiveness or punkness or politicalstatementness or foolishness or anything else.

Unless we're talking triple bypass, why would someone purposefully ply their body with sharp stuff? It's weird.

Here's another, realer reason I feel this way:

Each of us has been given a body with its own beauty and charm and grace and abilities. It might need repairing, sure, but it does not need ornamenting.

Call me a minimalist, but I think the human body is lovely on its own.

Body mutilation is a form of hubris against the Great Artist.


Is that self-righteous enough?

Fluff enough

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Iguana Sam wins. His sentence of choice was underlined and called "beautiful."

2006-02-01

Well someone is watching!

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I see from my stats that the mysterious Blue Betas have been discussing me in some small way. Since they have passwords and other secrety combinationy stuff, I know not what they have said, but I do wonder: Should I be scared?

Blogito ergo sum

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The problem with being a clever person is that every clever person somehow thinks he (she) is the only clever person (persun) and is always shocked when discovering that quite the opposite is true. In fact, in a world with billions of people, how in the world could I have possibly imagined that I would be the first to think of this clever post title? But it is clever, right? And I did think of it on my own, even if many other clever people beat me to it.

I guess this may be the reason for writing books--anyone can think up a pun, but surely I'll never write a book only to find out that someone else has written it, right?

Actually...:

I came to BYU as a transfer student. After my first, oh, six months and after serious consideration, I decided to be join the honors program. I did not want to join unless I was sure I could do it and was sure I wanted to do it. The clincher was that I would have to write a thesis. I was very excited about that.

I spent the rest of that summer finishing all the other honors requirements so that the following fall I could focus on my thesis, then get back to my regular coursework knowing that special graduation-time asterisk would be by my name.

I took a class that fall that was supposed to provide resources to get my thesis done. It seemed like a good idea because hey--why not get credit for work I would be doing anyway? Seemed like an easy A and a smoother semester. I knew what my thesis would be on, had already done much of the research and knew exactly how it would play out.

The class's first assignment was to go to the library and look up former students' theses and try to find one in near approximation to my topic so that I could see how other students had handled such things.

I did not find a near approximation. I found my paper--in some places a word-for-word plagiarization of the paper I had not yet written.

Which was disheartening to be sure, but that was not the worst part.

The worst part was this: The thesis I found was written crappily--it was worse than my rough draft would have been. Its points were not well supported; its syntax was frequently awkward; its research was incomplete; its worth was small. Yet, in outline, it was my paper. And so close to my paper that, as I read it, I knew I could never write mine. Because I could never be sure which ideas were mine and which were "stolen" from the hack who came before--or if there was even a difference. And if I could not tell, how could anyone else?

So there I was--in a thesis-writing class without a topic.

I scrambled and tried to sell my backup plans to professors, but being an unknown-quantity transfer student and a poor salesman, no one was at all interested in taking me on.

After weeks of trying to salvage my thesis--any thesis--I had to drop the class and accept the blackmark on my transcript.

And that was the first of what would become a swiftly accumulating pile of reasons to scrap the whole grad school plan.

Anyway, the point is how jolly it is to be clever.

Clevito ergo sum?

The further adventures of wasting time

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The next ridiculous assignment I'm working on in my silly class, is to make a poster depicting a flowchart that shows the process for a routine activity, eg, turning in homework.

A flowchart.

Um. Huh. Okay. Let's see....

Is this cynical enough?
image adapted from one at http://www.spambouncer.org/aboutsb/flowchart.shtml
Something about this class really brings out the worst in me....