Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Half-pint

I'm working on a new side project to pass the downtime that I seem to have a lot of lately. And to justify having Little House on the Prairie adding 4 hours to my TiVo playlist daily (seriously, Hallmark Channel?). It's a recap blog called "WTF, Little House on the Prairie?". I have just an intro post at the moment, but I have a recap in progress and a few episodes in the hopper. My big plan is to do an episode a week, posting one segment each day. Although I would prefer to do a Monday-Friday schedule, I think this first episode will start Friday and post through Tuesday.

Anyway, check it out and let me know what y'all think!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Itemize

*I attempted an alfredo style dish on Tuesday. Chop up some onions, garlic, green pepper, spinach, and various other tasty bits and set aside. Boil some water for pasta (I was using some rainbow colored various shaped pasta from Trader Joe's). Cut up some sausage (Sun-dried tomato chicken sausage from TJ's is a good choice). Heat up a skillet and pour some olive oil. Throw in all the veggies except the spinach and get a nice sizzle. Throw in the sausage and get the flavors to congregate. The pasta should be cooking at this point. Use one of those alfredo packets and follow the instructions, but add a little pesto to give it some personality. Once the pasta is ready, drain then add to the skillet. Throw in the spinach and cover the skillet. Once the alfredo is ready, add to the mix and really get everything to gel together.

I was disappointed at the initial serving -- the alfredo didn't quite congeal the way I had hoped it would. However, it has been delicious as microwaved leftovers. Go figure.

*I may have finally figured out how to get out of my bowling slump. I've adopted a point-and-shoot approach where I just pick where I will stand, pick where I'm targeting, and then go. It worked well Wednesday (bowled a 199 on Shark). Thursday it worked even better: I have a 178 average in that league and bowled a 643 series. It was the high series for the team. Unfortunately, if the only bowler on the team with a sub-200 average is the only bowler who bowls a 600+ series, then the team is going to have difficulty winning. We got swept.

*There was a book sale at the library today. I didn't plan on going -- I just happened to have books that were due. I peeked in and was a little disappointed. Not one copy of Lee Iacocca's autobiography to be found. Maybe it's a Michigan thing, but no book sale is worth its salt without at least 7 copies of it for sale. It becomes a game of hide-and-seek, since the book will be filed in biographies, automotive, history, popular, and often times miscategorized. I was at one book sale where I found 20 copies, none of which were located adjacently. The closest I got today was two copies of John Stossel's book, which managed to drown out the shrieking toddler at the sale with its shrillness. I did get a Christmas present out of the sale, so it wasn't a total loss.

*There is a potential follow-up to my last post, but it will have to wait until Sunday or Monday. I want the full story first.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Eggs

"Doc, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken."
"Why don't you turn him in?"
"I would, but I need the eggs."

So before you hear any wild rumors, I decided to start seeing a therapist again. I've been really stressed out lately and have been acting out in irrational, socially awkward/inapprorpriate ways. So for anyone avoiding me recently because of said acting out, would you consider this an early Christmas present?

I am seeing a different therapist this time around. My old therapist isn't covered by my insurance and, in retrospect, she wasn't as productive as I would have hoped. Her meeting room was rather poorly lit which contributed to a stifled feeling I would have in my sessions. I also felt like I wasn't a real priority on her docket. I very well could have been the least crisised of her clients, but for the 55 minutes that I am paying fully out-of-pocket for, I think it would at least be a professional courtesy to fake it.

In my most recent session the subject of romantic relationships came up and it was a bit of an eye-opener. It was the first line of questioning that poked that ooey-gooey spot, causing me to pull it together before continuing. We talked about it in generalities with a few specifics thrown in, but time ran out before we could prep for the full dissection. The subject has weighed on my mind since the end of my session Wednesday afternoon.

The timing of this realization was semi-optimal. On the one hand, I feel like I'm making some progress. On the other, it did put a bit of a pall on my weekend. For starters, I think it prevented me from fully enjoying Margaret Cho when I saw her Friday night. I didn't have as many belly laughs as I would have hoped, though the potential was certainly there. However, when she was talking about Proposition 8 (which she is PISSED about, as you might imagine) she spoke about how gay people really need to get over themselves -- we have enough obstacles thrown our way without creating our own. She was talking about this in the context of her being considered a Goldilocks in the Bear community. It reminded me of how RuPaul would sign off on her short-lived VH1 talk show: "If you don't love yourself, how the hell can you love anybody else?" I am fairly certain this will be the only time I will quote RuPaul on this blog.

As I slowly picked at this food for thought as I moved it around my plate this weekend, I started evaluating my process for dating. Ummm, the process needs an overhaul. I'm not a fan of the club scene for several reasons. First, geography is currently an obstacle as Cleveland and Sandusky are both a significant drive away. I think there are places in Lorain, but just the idea of that seems sketchy and makes me feel the need to shower. I'm intimidated by the meat market mentality that pervades the clubs -- I feel like I'm ranked somewhere between prison grade meat and the stuff hot dogs are made of. The bravado and success rate of the club scene requires confidence, which that last sentence shows could use some improvement. Also, I feel weird about going by myself when I am a complete wallflower. I can stand in the corner and look at my watch repeatedly at home, thank you very much. If there were people I could go with it would be easier, but again I don't have the confidence yet to interact with complete strangers, so I would just stay with my friends and not accomplish what I set out to do in the first place.

So my only real recourse is online chat rooms. Here I have a little more control of the process. The wallflower strategy, which I implement like a pro, has mixed-to-poor results here as well. Sitting around waiting for someone, anyone, to IM is not the best way to spend an evening, let me tell you. So this weekend I've been a bit more proactive and attempted to start conversations. This is not without challenges. Sometimes, people just don't feel like chatting and trying to force a conversation just doesn't work. Other times, people are freak shows and the conversation shifts from bland pleasantries to figuring out how to permanently ignore the person. The biggest difficulty is the people who seem perfectly nice but are challenging to converse with. Against my better judgment, I'm slowly getting over the use of internet shorthand (how I loathe "how r u? kewl") and the overuse of "lol" ("I'm John...lol"), but there are a lot of people out there who haven't realized that telling me that you're bored is not conducive to a good conversation. Granted, "bored" is usually code for "me want sex", but since me no want sex at this point in our soon-to-be-truncated relationship, there's really no point in continuing to try to talk. But I have been persevering and things are going slightly better. So far I inadvertently hit on someone who might be a colleague (I didn't ask for confirmation since that would have been extra weird at that point) and have had a few decent conversations with some Clevelanders and central New Yorkers (might as well prep for next year).

I won't get into the actual dating part now, since this post is far longer than I anticipated, but I will offer a bit more clarification before I go. I TiVo'd Annie Hall last week and got around to watching it this morning. Each time I see it, I find more parallels to my own experience and identify more and more with Alvie Singer. I'm not sure if that is a positive or an inevitability for the viewer. Anyway, the movie ends with the joke that began this post and this hypothesis:

"I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs."

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I was watching MSNBC instead

Help me, Wolf Blitzer. You're my only hope!



Huh.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Season: Tuesday

Tuesdays are usually a lighter load/catchup day in terms of programming. Since I generally don't get home much before 10pm on Mondays and have to be at work at 10am on Tuesdays, I can't watch all that gets recorded. But there is still new stuff added and here it is:

House

I started watching House last season and was surprised by how quickly I got hooked. I'm usually not into medical dramas, but this one is so wonderfully written and Hugh Laurie is brilliant. The search for the new fellows story arc was rather engaging, though I'm still not won over by Taub (dude, chill), Kutner (dude, stop setting patients on fire) or Thirteen (dude...just dude). The season finale was incredibly good, though I think I will miss Amber/Cut Throat Bitch.

However, this has now set up a story line where House and Wilson have essentially broken up. We're two episodes into the season (counting tonight's episode) and I still don't know how I feel about this development. Although it is organic in terms of the characters' histories, the House/Wilson relationship moved from subtext to text which takes out some of the fun. The show is usually pretty good about reaching satisfactory resolutions, but I'm still a little leery.

Dancing with the Stars: Results

3 minutes of content (6 if there's a group number) in 60 minutes of program. After 8 years of reality television you would think that ratio would have gotten less oppressive.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Season: Monday

Tonight is the official start of the 2008-2009 TV season, and my TiVo is filled to the gills with season passes. It's rather sad in a wonderful, wonderful way. As I was loading season passes last night during the god-awful Emmy awards, I kept getting warnings that shows weren't going to record due to lack of space. Granted, said Emmys were taking up 4 hours of real estate (they were promptly evicted), there's just a lot of anticipation for this week. Let's see how many of these shows survive.

Heroes

Last season was extremely problematic. A number of new characters were either dull (Peter's Irish lass) or incredibly irritating (Maya, of "ALEJANDRO!!!!!!!!" lame, er fame). Oddly, this is one of those shows that I think may have greatly benefited from last year's writers' strike. Before things really started flying off the tracks, Kring and company needed to buttonhole things quickly. Some stories may have been rushed, but at least the really irksome ones (Maya/Sylar, Claire/West, Feudal Hiro) are pretty much done. That and the 8 months since the last episode may have caused people to forget all the bad juju the sophomore slump created.

If there's still bad juju, this show may be in trouble.

Dancing with the Stars

First: Shut up. American Idol doesn't swing back around until January so this show fills the void. I'm not a huge fan of the show, but I do like a number of the individual elements. I like Tom Bergeron, I like the application of ballroom to some unlikely songs, and the cast usually has 1 or 2 folks that I already like and someone I will eventually grow to like (who will get voted off soon after). I don't like Samantha Harris, but I like making fun of her. The band and the singers are TERRIBLE, but their choices are easy to make fun of as well.

For me, this season is about Lance Bass. There has been speculation for a number of seasons that he would be on the show and the question about who his partner will be has been the center of the discussion. Specifically, will the partner be male or female? Although my people would have loved to see some guy-on-guy rumba or salsa action (admit it, you would too), Bass would actually be at a significant disadvantage. I'm not talking about people not voting for him -- I'm talking about executing the dance. All of the other male dancers will be dancing as the male in the couple. In fairness, Bass should also have to dance as the male. Therefore, his professional male partner would have to dance as the female. This presents problems for both teacher and student that none of the other couples would encounter.

That's not to say that he won't already have issues. His partner is Lacey Schwimmer, who came in 4th on So You Think You Can Dance in 2007. I hated Lacey. Hopefully she has become less insufferable in the last 15 months, because I would like Lance to do well.

Again, shut up.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Shield

The last 20 hours have been terrible. Thursday nights I've been bowling in a league at Black River Lanes with Bryan, Bukie and James. The first week of the league went fine. My scores were about on average, though I was low man for the evening. The following week I was having some trouble, but I just chalked it up to being tired -- it was the first week of the semester and I was swamped at work.

Last week was a major stumbling block. I couldn't get any of my equipment to do anything and by the third game I was fed up. 8-year-olds having a temper tantrum is annoying. If you are 25 it is really unforgivable. I instantly regretted it, but there's really nothing you can do at that point.

Last night I went in with the mindset that no matter how bad things might get, I will not behave the same way. By the middle of the second game, it was taking every ounce of will to keep myself in check. The frustration is attacking from several different angles. First, I am the only person on my team struggling. The other guys are averaging 200+, James even bowled his first 700 last night. It has nothing to do with the left side as our opponent's had a lefty on their team who was doing just fine. Also, this is the third week in a row I have been struggling on three different pairs of lanes, which means that the center isn't the variable. The only common denominator is me.

It was during the third game that I realized what my problem is. For whatever reason, I feel like I have to prove myself, which is causing me to try way too hard, which is causing me to do all sorts of weird shit in my shot making and is clouding my judgment when I need to make adjustments. The thought that occurred to me was a suggestion my therapist presented at my last meeting with her: that I am not comfortable in my own skin. Sure, my defensiveness, my inability to allow people to get close to me (intimately or even physically), and a host of other issues play into that theory, but for whatever reason I am demanding more proof.

When I came to this realization, I started to panic. Whenever I visualize this concept, I picture a boss from a game like Metroid or Zelda where you have to wait for the scales on their body or some protective covering moves away for a second so you can strike their weak point. When you hit that spot, the boss cries out in pain. I could see my vulnerability being exposed and an ice-cold blade getting ready to poke it. My focus shifted from shot making to holding it together. After the third game was done and I limped over the 400 line (I think? I didn't bother adding the scores) I threw my equipment in my bag, congratulated James and told Bryan I was going to wait in the car.

As we were driving back to Oberlin, my rear window was fogged up, so I turned on the rear defrost. About 2 minutes later, I heard a POP. At first I thought a tire blew out, but then someone said my window was cracking. Was it a gunshot? A meteorite? Whatever it was, it caused me to not hold it together anymore as I listened to the crystallized crackling sound of my rear window. As I approached 511, I hit a bump which caused the entire window to collapse. I won't bore you with the transcript of what I said, but rest assured it was not rated G.

I'm now waiting for my replacement window to get installed. This whole window thing is far too metaphorical for my taste. And expensive. Future metaphors take note: you need to cost less than $50.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Retraction

You might recall a previous post where I discussed Big Brother, in particular a specific houseguest. To quote:

I have a feeling the only change in opinion I will have will be to something more unfavorable, but I'll just have to wait and see. My guess: he will either be the first out or around for a LONG time.

I was right about the second part. Although he was targeted the first couple of weeks, he actually lasted all the way to the end. And won. By a unanimous vote.

I was wrong about the first part. Dan proved to be one of the most awesome players in the history of the series and certainly the most deserving of the contestants this season.

Congratulations, Dan! Sorry about the pregame negativity.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Journey

"I can't believe you're going to see Journey! Please post a count of mullets--may you find yourself in a sea of fabulous hairstyles."

Last night I went to see Journey at Blossom. The ticket also included Cheap Trick (meh) and Heart (EEEEE!). We (Sarah and I) ended up in one of the distant lots and Cheap Trick took the stage as we made the long trek to the gate. By the time we got settled on the hillside, they were pretty much done. Again, no big loss: I'm completely neutral about Cheap Trick. That's not to say the people around us were also ambivalent -- far from it. Although the crowd was significantly younger than I expected (mostly thirty-somethings and their kids), many of the people in the crowd were doing those dances that middle-aged people do. The kind that cause the kids to say "MOOOOOOOOOOOM! You are totally EMBARRASSING me!" which I witnessed at least once or twice. So many forlorn children. The hair was also pretty normal, though some women were teased out to the shoulders. I only saw one mullet, but it was so perfect that I could only describe it as "professional".

After a brief intermission, Heart took the stage. I warned Sarah that I was going to probably dork out during that set, but I think she out-dorked me. Both Ann and Nancy Wilson are still looking fabulous and totally owned the stage. Overall, I think their set was the best -- I've been singing "Alone" all day.

Another short intermission and Journey took the stage. Although Steve Perry is no longer in the band, the new lead singer (Arnel Pineda) is a fine substitute. Unfortunately, he is so good that his career can be viewed as a Steve Perry impersonator. Sorry Arnel. Anyway, the first few songs were ones that I didn't recognize. The crowd didn't seem as into it either, which was surprising. That was until Separate Ways, truly one of the finer points in Journey's career. They did their big hits ("Don't Stop Believin'", "Anyway You Want It", etc.), but the rest of their set was either new stuff (Booo!) or not easily recognized.

Overall, Heart ROCKED it and the show was quite a bit of fun.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Legit

Okay, so that part in my last post where I said I wasn't going to write anymore about the election? Ignore that -- this Sarah Palin character is way too interesting to pass up.

First up, the baby mama drama (will that be your title card, Fox news?). There were some rumors circulating after Palin was tapped last week that her youngest child (who has Down's Syndrome, not that that is relevant) might actually be her daughter's kid (therefore, Palin's grandchild). How 1950's. During an NPR interview of some RNC representative, the rumors were described as "vicious" and "untrue". No, no, no, the story is much less sordid, with the 17-year-old daughter now 5 months pregnant. Good news -- she's keeping the baby (there's a shock, daughter of the conservative VP candidate) and she will marry the boyfriend so they can raise the child together. See, not salacious at all. On the plus side, this means that the Right will have to abandon the whole "family values" platform, which really didn't sit well with me anyway.

I shouldn't make fun, especially since these are lifelong obstacles getting thrown Palin's way and not a simple case of foot-in-mouth disease. But during the course of the same interview Robert Siegel asked several questions about the vetting process -- a step that I had forgotten was part of the candidate selection. Despite all these obstacles (both personal and political), the McCain camp still determined that, of the choices presented, Palin was the pick of the litter.

It really makes me wonder what caused the others to be disqualified. I'm dying to dig that dirt.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shania

Back at the end of April, Kristy Lee Cook was eliminated from American Idol. As Ryan Seacrest wrapped up her goodbye video package, the caremas cut to a shot of the final six. I distinctly remember what my reaction was: "Really? That's the top 6? Huh." That's kind of how I feel things have gone on the Republican side of things during this election cycle.

Now I haven't written much of anything about the presidential election and I don't really intend to beyond this post. I know who I am voting for, my mind is not going to change, and I kind of expect others to be in the same position regardless of who they are voting for. Honestly, I'm a little weirded out by those who claim to be "undecided" since, unlike the last two election cycles, the two candidates are pretty distinct from one another and there doesn't seem to be as much of a "Anyone but whats-his-nutz" mentality (at least not as much as the last few go-rounds).

But thank goodness McCain is making this election interesting, at least in the "Really? Huh." sense. First, you have him comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, which has resulted in Paris going up in esteem in many people's eyes (who saw that happening?). Then you have his selection of My-Big-Fat-Karen-SVU-30-Rock star VP in Palin. I didn't see the video of the announcement until late this evening, but I honestly expected to hear a record scratching sound effect followed by the crowd going "whaaaa?" There's being a maverick and then there's queering your message. Which do you think this is? The more I think about it, the more this reminds me of the Harriet Myers debacle three years ago when both Rehnquist and O'Connor were getting replaced on the Supreme Court. It's a sort of half-assed attempt at being pro-feminism -- like lighting a bra on fire that the owner is still wearing. It's going through the motions but not understanding the reasoning for what you are doing at all.

I've never fully understood the politics of VP selection. Supposedly it is a way of balancing out the ticket to round up the most votes, but I have to wonder how much that actually factors into the voter's decision making process. At least in a positive way. With Kerry/Edwards, I don't recall ever thinking "well, Horseface and I don't see eye-to-eye on such and such issue, but Andy Griffith is there with the assist." My internal monologue is a little less polite than the guy you chat with on a regular basis. What I can see is how things can be affected negatively, such as Perot/Scottsdale or Gore/Lieberman. I don't think Biden is a bad choice for Obama, it just isn't a dealmaker or dealbreaker.

This election is getting dangerously close to absurdist and it isn't even September yet. I'm honestly expecting Shania Twain being used as the soundtrack for the rest of the McCain campaign. I don't know her politics (not to mention she is Canadian), but I'm just playing a hunch. I'm just glad I already know I don't have to go to work before 3pm on November 5th -- I'm expecting a late night on the 4th.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Staff training started on Wednesday and things went off without a hitch. A slight snag occurred Thursday when the Wilder staff scheduled a Blood Borne Pathogen training session and invited the Lanes staff to participate. Judging by the thickness of dust on our blood bucket, our previous training session was my senior year, so the new staff will be the only people on staff who have had this particular tutorial. I'm not sure how we fell through the cracks there, but luckily we haven't had any exposures --- that I'm aware of, anyway.

"Okay, since I give this talk several times a day and I don't want to get bored, we're going to play Jeopardy," the lady from Lorain County Health Department screeched at us. "Now we're going to split up into teams because you can't play Jeopardy by yourself." Apparently the show has been doing it wrong for the last 24 years. Way to go, Trebek. My clusterfuck alarm started to ring in my head and I maybe should have kept an eye on the lanes instead of taking in the tutorial.

Once our teams assembled, we were told that we have one minute to figure out how we are going to buzz in. Since it took everyone forty five seconds to process the WTF nature of the request, LoCo HelDe decided that in honor of county fair week each team would be assigned a barnyard sound. I took this moment to warm up the death glare. We were assigned wolves and would have to howl to buzz in. Death glare still calibrating.

What annoyed me most about this exercise was that there was no prep prior to playing. Jeopardy-like exercises are used to reinforce knowledge but don't work all that well in terms of presenting new concepts. It also doesn't help when Loco Helde is heckling people who give incorrect answers or, in my fellow teammate's case, an inability to remember what stupid sound effect he is supposed to make (or just say "howl").

When we finally suffered through all the questions, we had to do "Final Jeopardy", including writing down answers and whatnot. You know what I don't enjoy? People who hum the Final Jeopardy theme to imply that something is taking too long. Would Helde appreciate it if I started doing that the second she opened her mouth?

The torture ended at about 11:30 but I don't feel any more enriched than I did at 10:30. Of course, pathogen stuff is easy (from my tutorial my senior year...of HIGH SCHOOL): wash your hands, use gloves, double bag and throw out anything that comes in contact with major bodily fluids. See, I just saved you 59 minutes.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Girl You Know It's True

I didn't watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics this year. Although I love the Olympics, I'm not so keen on parades and decided to pass on the festivities. What I haven't passed on is the controversy about a girl lip-synching some ballad during the ceremony. I love these sort of controversies because it is quite a bit of hullabaloo over something that doesn't seem that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Though without such controversies we, as a culture, would not have had VH1's Behind the Music (probably) or Ashlee Simpson's Dance Academy.

My favorite part of the New York Times version of the story is this correction at the end:

"A Getty Images picture that appeared earlier with this article and on the home page was published in error. The girl shown was an unidentified performer in the opening ceremony at the Olympics; it was not Lin Miaoke, a nine-year-old who also performed."

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Deserve

I try to avoid using the word "deserve". I think part of this stems from the idea that it is often used incorrectly. Many times when someone starts a sentence with "I deserve...", it is bolstered by a misplaced sense of entitlement or, at best, self-righteousness that is so over the top that it is almost laughable. Maybe I'm a pushover, but I am hard-pressed to find a situation where I would actually attempt to appeal to someone by saying "I deserve" something to correct some perceived wrong.

This is not to say that the opposite should be avoided: "I do not deserve this." My thinking on this comes from one of the common applications I encounter with the term, that being a sort of Old Testament style punishment cast upon a sinner. My favorite is on court shows where the litigants are ex-lovers bickering over every petty item and going into almost obscene detail of every act of revenge. After about fifteen minutes of downright upsetting, filthy laundry, the judge will stop the arguing by declaring that both litigants deserve each other, which: true. I seem to recall a number of children's stories where the bad guy ended up getting what he deserved, be it getting eaten by a wolf, thrown down a well, or carted off to debtors' prison. The bad guy may scream out "I don't deserve this sort of treatment," but karma can be a harsh mistress.

But every so often I feel like I am getting some sort of cosmic raw deal and I am unsure of how to react. A story:

Ben had mentioned getting a date or two through the site OKCupid. The gimmick with this site is that the users not only fill out profiles but also surveys about their ideal match. Each question (and the importance that you enumerate) gets factored into a logarithm and results are compared to other users. The site has a sense of humor and is also a hub for a number of those goofy internet surveys, such as "Which Skittle Flavor are U?!" Anyway, I started playing around with the site and it actually is pretty nifty -- I recommend it. Last week I got an e-mail from a guy interested in my profile and we sent some e-mails back and forth. They have a chat client on the site and we talked and seemed to hit it off really well. We agreed to meet this past Saturday for dinner.

Saturday morning, before I leave for work, I get a phone call from him saying that his grandmother is in the hospital. I honestly believe his intention was to warn me about plans possibly needing to be shifted, but I couldn't help think that maybe he was trying to blow me off. However, given the timing and everything I trusted that it was genuine. That and it is customary for me to freak out for approximately 12 hours prior to any date (it keeps me chatty).

We both ended up running a little late (we were meeting in Strongsville), so that wasn't a significant issue. The dinner portion went relatively well -- the food was gross but the conversation was engrossing. We left the restaurant and started to drive around to find something to do. There's not much going on in Strongsville or the surrounding areas. We drove through a nearby Metropark and got a little lost before finally returning to the restaurant parking lot. Things ended somewhat awkwardly (I think we were both intimidated by each other) but overall things seemed positive.

I didn't hear from him on Sunday, but I still don't know the post-date protocol -- when it's two guys who is supposed to call whom? I came up with a date idea and e-mailed him Monday morning and did not get a reply. No worries, he typically responds to my e-mails at night. Anyway, I'm playing on OKCupid and he IM's me. Things start off pleasantly enough, but then he has what he calls good and bad news. I'm expecting something like "I can't make it on Saturday, but I've got tickets for something on Friday." Not quite. His ex heard about his grandmother and contacted him to find out how things were going. Apparently this rekindled some old flames. To clarify: It's not separate good news and bad news -- it is good for him and bad for me. Despite the fact that we both had a wonderful time on Saturday and we are both attracted to each other, in less than 48 hours I'm back to where I was two weeks ago, only more bitter.

This is (by my count) the third time this year where a guy makes me feel so much better about myself only to yank the rug out from under me. As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with me, but I am the common denominator. If I am such a catch, why do I keep getting thrown back? Have I done, or not done, something to deserve this?

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Notebook

I feel like posting, but I don't have any good stories. Instead, I am just going to list items I have written in my mini notebook over the last couple of weeks.

"Don't play well with others"

"She is just a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those being 'in his vicinity' and 'ever'."

"Guy in wheelchair = costume?"

"THE BUMS WILL ALWAYS LOSE."

"Invest in baby boomer's demise."

"All I know is 'LOL' and 'G2G'"

"Ivy, you're not in charge of the world. Shut your mouth."

"Why are you staring off into space? There aren't any cute boys over there."

"Carrots are nature's diabetic candy."

"Get the fuck out of my candy store."

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Achiever

Sarah and I went down to Louisville this weekend for a festival: Lebowski Fest. It is a little like a Star Trek convention, only with funnier costumes, wittier conversation, and more white Russians. We drove down Friday and arrived at about 10:30. We missed the documentary about the event and a couple of the performers, but we were present for the outdoor screening of The Big Lebowski.

Typically I am not a fan of people who speak the dialogue of a movie as you're watching it. Punchlines get ruined, emphasis is lost, and I'm not watching a movie to listen to you. But at Lebowski Fest, it is a bit different. I think the entire movie was spoken by the audience, but the level of emphasis imparted by the speakers varied so much. Lines that you might consider to be insignificant might be shouted by someone else. I actually found this viewing to be pretty enjoyable.

The next day started at about 5pm when we headed to the Garden Party. This was at the same location as the movie screening, only now along with the musicians they had some fairway games set up.

Game One: Ringer Toss. Get into the driver's side of The Dude's car and toss the ringer (bowling bag filled with Walter's underwear) over the car. If you hit the Nihilist, you win a prize.

Game Two: Dunk the Marmot. Hit a catapult with a mallet to launch the marmot. If it lands in the tub, you win. I won some Nihilist Gum (they don't believe in flavor).

Game Three: Mug Shot. Throw a coffee mug at a picture of The Dude. If you hit him in the forehead, you win.

They also had a couple of games of Cornhole set up. The boards had silkscreens of various Lebowski characters. We played a couple of games before heading to the bowling center for the Bowling Party. The line started forming at about 7, but the doors didn't open until 8 so it gave us an opportunity to check out some of the costumes people were sporting. There were plenty of Dudes, Walters, Jesuses (Jesi?), and Maudes, but other costumes were clever and/or obscure. A couple required some explanation, such as the woman wearing a lampshade and carrying what looked like a log wearing a baby bonnet. She was "New Shit Coming to Light", a line from the movie. My favorite of this type of costume was "Beaver Picture": two girls in beaver costumes walking around with a cardboard picture frame so that people could get photos. Awesome. That required some major dedication on their part because it was really hot and muggy on Saturday, so those costumes must have been uncomfortable.

Sarah and I didn't do costumes, but I wore my Oberlin button down bowling shirt and Sarah wore her Cleveland Steamers t-shirt (they're a roller derby team, sickos). One of the guys standing in line in front of us not only was from the Cleveland area (there were a lot of Cleveland people, actually), but he also works at Sherwin-Williams, just a few floors above Sarah. Very small world.

When we finally got into the bowling center we scrambled to find a lane to bowl on. A guy in a Dude costume invited us over to play on Lane 22, so we joined him. A few others joined our lane and we started to play. Sarah had an amazing first game, bowling a 197. This would ultimately be the 4th highest score of the night overall. After the first game we had some people leave and new people join us, and it was a pretty steady stream of people mingling, taking photos and enjoying the atmosphere as you sipped your beer or white Russian. Jeff, The Dude on our lane, and his wife (dressed as Ms. Jamtoss, the teacher who graded the homework assignment left by Larry in the car) were a constant presence and they are awesome.

At about 10, the guy who played Liam (The Jesus' bowling partner who shakes his hips at the beginning of the movie) got up on the makeshift stage and did a ball-buffing and hip-shaking demo. About ten minutes later, he joined us on our pair and rolled a couple of shots and took pictures. He's a really nice guy and is just tickled about his entire Lebowski experience.

About an hour later, the costume contest got underway. There was a general category for costumes like Beaver Picture, a superhero named Not-on-the-Rug Man, and This Aggression Will Not Stand -- two people dressed in Middle Eastern garb circa 1991 rolling around on office chairs. There were also separate categories for Best Dude, Walter, Jesus, and Maude. The winners in those categories would bowl in a one-shot roll-off, the winner receiving a check for $0.69 (ref. the grocery store scene). Maude won.

We ended up staying to the very end of the bowling and then headed over to the host hotel for the afterparty. I think what I enjoyed most about the whole event was that despite all of the alcohol flowing and the abundance of Walters at the venue, I did not see anyone being a jerk or engaging in obnoxious behavior. Everyone just seemed to have a good time and wanted everyone else to have a good time.

Everyone was an Achiever, and proud we are of all of them.

If you would like to see pictures and some video, click here:

Lebowskifest 2008

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh "Brother"

I've been toying with the idea of adding a semi-regular feature to this blog where I write about why I TiVo what I TiVo. Hey, not much is going on right now and we might be watching the same shows. I wasn't sure where to start, but after skimming this morning's TV news I found my first topic. So, without further ado I bring you: Why I TiVo: Big Brother 10.

I used to be a fan of Big Brother. I watched the dismally dull first season off and on and was surprised that it was picked up for a season two. They revamped the show the second time around and it was WAY more fun. That season had more interesting characters (Evil Dr. Will, Monica) and the players took care of eliminations instead of the viewers. The third season was also realllly entertaining, with contestants who were even more batshit crazy.

Then the show took a turn. It became about the twists and most of them made things unbearable rather than tantalizing. Season four featured ex-boyfriends/girlfriends ("X-Factor"). Five was "Project DNA" which featured identical twins switching in and out of the game (awesome) and reuniting long-lost half-siblings (not as awesome). Season six, the "Summer of Secrets" (these are not my titles, by the way) featured people playing in pairs. At first they were secret, but the houseguests soon figured it out. Of these three seasons, six was certainly the best one. The show then did an All-Star season for seven, which almost always is a bad idea. As with The Amazing Race and the first All-Star season of Survivor, all the characters you liked before end up becoming realllllly unlikeable.

Last summer was season 8 and a new executive producer, Allison Grodner, took the helm. She champions all the twists and soul-and-relationship crushing brought on by the show. At first the cast was fun but then the house sociopath (and eventual winner, as is usually the case with the house sociopath) Dick systematically alienated and violated the other contestants. The worst instance was when he BURNED ANOTHER CONTESTANT WITH A CIGARETTE. That was one of the most nauseating things I have ever seen. As a result, I decided not to watch any of this past winter's Season 9.

I was going to pass on this summer's edition as well, but today they released the identities of the new contestants. I skimmed the article and got down to the bullet point list and started looking at where people were from. Here is a transcript:

"...southerner...southerner...souther--hey! Dearborn!...OH MY GOD!"

Dan Gheesling, 24, Dearborn, MI. I went to Sunday school with the guy. We were sorta buddies, but then he changed churches in 4th grade and we didn't cross paths again until middle school. Although we got along at Sunday school, he was kind of a jerk 6th-8th grade. He was part of the "pretty people" crowd, a phrase that still causes anxiety and my blood pressure to rise. Of course, it isn't really fair to hold middle school against people, so I was curious to see if maybe he turned out alright.

To quote Julie Chen during the cast reveal video segment: "Dan is going to have a problem with a lot of the women in the house." I don't think right-wing nutjob is the fairest assessment but, well, take a look at his bio. Oh, and he was the only person that Julie said anything remotely negative about.

I have a feeling the only change in opinion I will have will be to something more unfavorable, but I'll just have to wait and see. My guess: he will either be the first out or around for a LONG time.

Big Brother 10: Tuesdays at 9p, Wednesdays and Sundays at 8p. Starts July 13. All times Eastern.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Status Quo

Today was my first real day as a salaried employee of Oberlin College. Well, sort of. Mooch had asked me Saturday if I had received my letter yet, and I had no idea what he was talking about. This might have been related to my visit to Human Resources a day earlier when I tried to fill out some paperwork and they had no file of me whatsoever. Great.

When I got to work on Monday, Tom filled me in that I will need to take my letter of appointment to HR -- once I get it that is. He also said that Linda Gates was finishing those up that day, so it might be a day or two before I become for realsies. Today when I got to work, Tom left me a note saying that Linda's secretary Barb needed my address. Why that is not on file -- oh right, there is no file, even though I have been getting paychecks and W2's sent to me with no problem. Also, my suspicion is that the address is for my letter when it would have been faster for me to run across the street and pick up the letter in person. Save a stamp and envelope and let me get through the bureaucracy, please?

Not that I would have had much of an opportunity to take care of such an errand. James decided that he wanted to celebrate my new status by having some bizzaro back spasm (I told him that he really shouldn't have, but he insisted). It was totally random -- he had just gotten the oil machine in position to get lifted onto the lane and as he reached for the handle his back seized up. From what I saw and what he later confirmed, he had not yet engaged in the lifting motion, so it does not seem to be directly related to the oiling machine. Really, I think this is just his way of making sure I included everything I needed to in the Injuries section of the Worker's Guide that I wrote up yesterday. I did actually miss a step in the process, but a note in red ink would have been just as effective. He should be okay, but it will take a while to recover. The best part is that both Tom (who met up with James at Allen ER) and James reported back that the doctor suggested "let pain be your guide", in terms of how to dictate activity. Er, that sounds like a decent rule of thumb for life but okay.

Who knew that becoming salaried would be so chaotic?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Waiting

It has been a long summer already and we are still in June. This is not a good sign. So much of my time has been spent waiting, waiting, waiting, and I'm getting a little stir crazy. I had to wait for James to get back from Arizona to do job training. I had to wait for the schools to let out so that the summer programs would finally get into full swing. Right now I'm desperately waiting for July 1 to roll around.

On July 1, two very important events happen. First, my job switches over to a real position meaning benefits, sick days, vacation days, and all those bells and whistles that are supposed to be part of a job you get after graduating college. More importantly, I can finally say to people that I am starting my grad program next July instead of the wordier "not this July but July 2009." I'm still not regretting my decision to defer because I so could not afford or handle moving right now. But now I can't stave off boredom by pretending to buckle down to write that personal statement or researching programs. Instead I just get to think about what I could be learning now and will now have to wait twelve months. Not exactly boredom reducing.

The boredom and stir craziness is starting to get to me, though. I saw this article last week and I'm honestly a little spooked. My initial reaction after reading this was, if the findings of this study are consistent with my biology (since I have not had a brain scan) and the hypothesis presented is correct, then I have wasted so much time. I was told a few months ago that the switch for sexual preferences flips on at the age of 8 or 9, and my reaction when I heard that was remarkably similar.

I feel like I'm losing the passion for the things in my day-to-day life. And as much as I wait for something to jump start my enthusiasm, it just isn't happening. It's a long time until September.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Politico

I got home from work tonight expecting to write a tongue in cheek post about what happened during my shift, but then I saw on Yahoo news that Tim Russert had died. I'm watching Frank Rich and Keith Olberman talking about it now. I simply cannot believe it.

I was a huge fan of Russert. I found his approach to be incredibly accessible, not necessarily simplifying political issues but keeping the conversation of topics easier to understand. His enthusiasm reminded me of my friends and family on election night. I recall on election night in 2004, he had a small whiteboard where he was keeping track of electoral votes and the nerdiest grin on his face as he dissected all of the possible outcomes with the remaining states.

It is so sad that we will be going into this general election without Tim Russert's knowledge, enthusiasm and insight.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Confidence

About fifteen minutes after I woke up this morning there was a knock on my door. I thought I had heard my landlord's voice earlier so perhaps there was some emergency he was going around to warn the tenants about. I open the door and did not see my landlord. "I take it you are the king of this castle?" It was some kid who I would guess might be 16 or so. He was incredibly obnoxious. He kept bouncing around telling me I can help him get enough points to win a thousand bucks to go towards a trip to some mystery location. He wouldn't say where at first, but he gave me a hint: "You can't drink the water but you don't want to down the worm if you know what I mean." He confused my flat affect with ignorance as I told him to cut to the chase. But no, he wanted me to read the question written in the red box on the card he was carrying around. As I closed the door on him, he thanked me in a way that tried to make it seem like I was the asshole in the dialogue. That kid was lucky that I was already awake, because if he had woken me up he would be trying to avoid sucking up the worm with his straw.

What astounded me about the whole interaction was the extreme level of confidence demonstrated by this kid. I'm not envious, as this little exercise shows that there is an upper limit where too much confidence makes you really annoying, but I am aware that the highest level of confidence I have ever demonstrated has certainly paled in comparison. Yes, there have been instances where I have demonstrated cajones, but those were more in response to some sort of adrenaline rush or some other breaking point. I visualize confidence as sauntering, not barging in guns blazing.

One of my pet peeves when I talk to people about my job is the initial response that I get 90% of the time. "I'm the manager at a bowling center." "Oh, I suck at bowling." Usually this conversation takes place in singles chat rooms (shut up) and it certainly takes the flirtiness out of the situation. I realize that they might think they are being self-deprecating, but that would be like me responding to a guy saying "I'm in real estate" with "Oh, I suck at selling houses." To me, it's a confidence issue. I would be much more comfortable with a guy that said "I don't like bowling" than someone who immediately discounts their abilities.

It's a bit strange talking about this topic. I felt so confident leaving high school and Oberlin did a fantastic job of destroying any and all confidence I had built up in myself. It is only recently that I have finally felt like I have been coming into my own. I've been out of school for 3 years: that's a long time. Don't worry: at this pace I will be like that kid when I'm in my seventies. I'm fairly confident in that estimation.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Phase

I'm a little late getting out the post-reunion post. My excuse is that reunion weekend caught up with me on Tuesday and I'm still trying to revive.

I inadvertently scheduled myself for nine hours on Friday. Oops. When I got home I thought about just vegging out as preparation for the weekend but then the Mazurs invited me over for an impromptu barbecue. Part of the refreshments included a combination of leftover margarita mix and leftover tequila, though the proportions favored the alcohol instead of the mix. Did I mention that I adore tequila?

We played some bocce and Wii (I beat Brian in Smash!) and then I got a call from Zaldonis. Yay! Turns out he was staying with a friend who lives in another section in my building so I headed over there after dropping off some stuff at my place. It was great catching up with John and Kayla and meeting some new people talking about Oberlin, New York, and things in between. Staying up until 2 might not have been the wisest course of action with an alumni bowling tournament starting at 10am.

The turnout for the Funraiser was much higher than anticipated, even with the RSVP's from a Facebook invite. We actually had to turn people away, which was unfortunate. But I got to bowl with Clare, Meghan, and Colin and schmooze with quite a few other alums. Unfortunately, despite our camaraderie, we were not able to scrounge up enough pins to beat the current students. We'll get them next year. Afterwards we headed to Tom's house for picnicking, croquet, and cornhole. After spending almost the entire day at Tom's, I met up with Clare, Anna and Anna's boyfriend at Toooooooooo Chi-noise for dinner. We had a lovely meal and eventually made our way to South, which was the headquarters for the 5 Year Reunion. So many people!

I had to oil the lanes on Sunday and treated the afternoon as a rest period before heading out to meet Sarah on Tappan Square. We were to meet John and his crew for dinner but everything was packed. We eventually got a table at Lorenzo's and had a pretty good meal. Illumination had finished setting up as we ate, so Sarah and I wandered Tappan Square a bit until I got a call from the lanes. An emergency came up and I had to close, which put a damper on my evening.

Commencement went well. Sarah and I skipped out on most of the talking, opting to go to Feve brunch instead. We did get back in time for Fareed Zakaria's speech which was pretty good. Then people graduated. It's a little weird now: this class was the last class of students who were students while I was a student. Except for the few people on the 5+ year plan, there aren't any "peers" remaining in the student body. I'm not saying that in an elitist way, but now the students I know I met through my manager position. Eeek.

After the ceremony, Sarah and I got lunch, browsed downtown, played some Wii, then headed to the Union Street house to say "so long" to the fellas. "So long" includes GTAIV, Red Wings hockey, double entendres, and microwaving light bulbs (among other things). I'll miss those guys.

So now it's summer, I guess. Work is in a transition period and things are really quiet on campus. As for me, I met my initial weight loss goal for this year, which was to get down to or below 205 pounds (my weight at the end of Freshman year) and I now tip the scales at 195. I know! I'm using this week as the benchmark to try to lose 10% (thanks, Jenny Craig commercials) before Labor Day, which would put me at 176 pounds. Considering I've been rather lazy these past couple of weeks and have not suffered any negative consequences yet, I think once I get back into an exercise routine I should be able to meet that goal.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Snooze

I love board games, but there are a few out there that make me uncomfortable. When I visited Amanda in Chicago a few years ago we stopped by FAO Schwarz where I saw the following:

Brains


I wish I could have found a good photo of the box. This game, much like its predecessor, requires precise movement to extract all the wacky objects implanted in your patient. It's like an episode of House. Unlike Operation Original Recipe, rather than tweezers you just stick your hand INTO THE HEAD OF YOUR PATIENT. Unsanitary. Also, one misstep and the nose lights up and your patient will squeal "Ooooooo! That tickles!" Ick.

The other game that causes great concern is called Don't Wake Daddy. I have not played this game, but I remember the commercial:



Let's discuss. First, there are a lot of obstacles en route to the fridge. That seems dangerous, regardless of time of day. Also, if daddy happens to awaken, he seems more like he is recovering from a night terror rather than being inconvenienced by his clumsy, clumsy children. Also, the way he shoots up is apparently physically impossible. And let's not forget the implications of child abuse that make the game FUN!

They have updated the game though. I was at Target tonight and walked past the endcaps in the toy department. Mostly it was Indiana Jones branded toys, but one endcap actually made me stop and look again. For 2008: Don't Wake the Hulk! That actually seems more realistic.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Sedigive

I have yet to give any money to Oberlin since changing my membership status from "student" to "alum" 3 years ago. It's not like I haven't tried: I filled out the "Donate my matriculation deposit" paperwork completely the day it arrived in my OCMR yet the school still sent me my check. I certainly can afford to give but I feel no guilt about my current miserly ways. I figure I am already making a contribution by working for the school (as a wage slave, no less) and actually keeping one of the few profitable parts of the campus up and running and, dare I say, more profitable. I've actually tried explaining this logic to the student fundraisers (leaving out the profits part) but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Whatever.

Today I received a troubling e-mail. Here is how it began:

Dear Michael,

Hello, fellow classmates! I hope that this letter finds you well. I am not the most articulate when writing these types of letters. And, like you, when I see a letter asking for money, I simply throw it into the recycle bin. This letter, however, is different. The purpose of this letter is not simply to ask you for money, rather it is a letter designed to evoke your emotions and thus make you want to give back to Oberlin College.


Don't you love it when a form letter tries, and fails, to seem all personalized? I do give it points for the "throw it into the recycle bin" part -- I usually throw mine in the trash. Save your tar and feathers, it gets better.

I was thinking about starting this letter with some type of antidotal story, but I was not able to think of one. Then, I was thinking that I would just quickly tell you about the many changes at Oberlin, but the reality is that things haven't changed much in the past two and half years. While Oberlin does have a new president, the student body is still liberal, and they are still trying to change the world one person at a time.

"Antidotal"? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! This person is trying to convince his fellow college graduates to donate money by using not just the wrong word but a word that Firefox is currently underlining with red? And Oberlin not changing that much in the last 2.5 years? Are you kidding me? There is a controversial new slogan, a couple new programs of study, new village housing with additional construction projects on the horizon, new scholarship and financial aid programs...none of these are worth highlighting?

He goes on to talk about the alumni website, which is a helpful resource from the various "antidotes" I've heard from others. But then:

While some of these options may not interest you, or you might be like me and want to do more, you can also give back with a monetary donation. The amount you donate does not matter because, like you, I know that things are financially hard being a recent grad. Nevertheless, I have decided to give back to Oberlin yearly because I want current students to have at least the same, if not better, experience that I had while at Oberlin. Furthermore, donating to Oberlin helps increase alumni participation rates. This is important not only for national ranking in U.S. News and World Report, but also for grant funding, which most ask for participation rates.

Besides the dubious politics of the U.S. News and World Report rankings, that seems like a pretty lousy reason to donate to the school. I would much rather my (currently hypothetical) donation go towards developing something more positive than elitism.

He concludes with:

I challenge you to walk with me in the pursuit of bringing Oberlin to the next level. If you have any questions, comments, or intelligent thoughts, then please do not hesitate to contact me.


Whenever I hear the phrase "bring [blah] to the next level", I immediately think of America's Next Top Model, where that phrase loosely translates to "we're dying your hair blonde." I don't think Oberlin would look good as a blonde -- it's more of a brunette.

As for intelligent thoughts: PROOFREAD.

Then I read the signature and busted out laughing. Apparently our '05 alumni shill happens to be a person who holds the distinction of saying one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my time at Oberlin (7 years and counting). It was sophomore year in Dawson's Intro to Government class. A bunch of students were up in arms over some auxiliary staff getting sacked (this was when the College's financial future started looking gloomy). They wanted us to donate the class treasury (money collected from people who showed up late to class) to help out the recently jobless. This person made the argument that we should help them pay their cable bill, to which I asked "if times are tight, why not get rid of the cable?" His response: "But there are a lot of good shows..." We ended up donating the money to a recovering cancer patient. The alumni fund was not proposed.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Perfect

So I've been sick for the last week or so -- a sinus infection thing that is as stubborn as its host. It usually happens once a year, so fortunately I've got the 2008 bug out of the way, though things still sound really tinny as I continue to recover. But today was the first day where I felt really, really good. Like, in a long while.

Last night I was all ambitious, thinking I would wake up fresh as a daisy at 7:30, get a workout at the gym, shower, and then head to work. I scored a 50 on that test, waking up at 8:45, showering and then hightailing it to work (Thursday is my early day). The weather has been beautiful the last few days and being able to walk to work with little to no trouble is certainly a perk. When I get to work, there is a note from Tom that Chris will be coming in to practice and wanted a pattern if possible. Since last night's PBA was still on the lanes, the hour I had scheduled for oiling now only required half that time -- bonus!

As Bowling I trickled in, Shaq asked if it was possible to prebowl after class. I told him yes, pleased with the knowledge that I would get to prebowl with someone else. You see, I hate prebowling. Besides not being a full recreation of the league experience, if I am by myself I end up rushing and generally do not bowl well. Having some to pace with helps me immensely. Plus, Shaq is a good egg so even if I don't bowl well I'll still have a good time.

Class finally ended and I gave Shaq the score sheet for prebowling. Practice went fine, with a number of errant shots made by both of us. When we finally started, we bowled TV style. This is where you bowl two frames in a row and then wait for your opponent to bowl two frames. This way each bowler gets to step back for a bit and there will be someone at the score table - two very important aspects of the game. Anyway, I was standing on board 19 and targeted 2nd arrow. I did not deviate from this position the entire session. I bowled a 236 the first game. I felt completely locked in and, despite a horrible loss of focus in the third frame of game two causing a gutterball, I regained my focus and bowled another 236. Consistent.

At this point, Shaq mentioned the possibility of me getting a triplicate. I have yet to accomplish that feat, and I agreed that 236 would be a great score to do it with. "Would that be a 7?" he asked. Realizing that he was about to do the arithmetic, I quickly said that we can figure out the math later, knowing full well that it would be a 708. I got the first strike and the second strike in my first turn. On the third frame, I sent the ball a little too far left. But the Black Widow Bite, my Platonic love, swung into the pins and managed to knock them all down. The next few shots were solid and I soon found myself with 8 strikes in a row.

I glimpsed at the clock to see that it was about five past one. "Good," I thought to myself, "Murray Ridge isn't here yet, so they probably won't be showing up at all." As soon as I finish the thought, they walk through the door. Murray Ridge is a service center for the Mentally Retarded and Developmentally Disabled. Every Thursday they come in to bowl and it is a really cool program. However, they do require bumpers, the wheelchair ramps, and aren't necessarily aware of the concept of lane courtesy. 99% of the time this is a non-issue. Today was that magical 1%. They were using lanes 5 and 6 and we were prebowling on 3 and 4. My ninth frame was on lane 3 and not an issue (strike). During the first shot of my tenth frame, Alan was waiting for me so he could pull up the bumpers. Strike. As I waited for my ball to return for shot 11, the Murray Ridge staff used that as an opportunity to pull a wheelchair up onto the approach and help the client get into playing position. I was able to shoot once they settled (strike). As I stepped up onto the approach for my final shot, I could hear Anne tell one of the bowlers "Ok, go ahead." I stepped down immediately as one of the clients grabbed his ball for a practice shot. In fairness, Anne had no idea that I had the first 11 strikes and that this was kind of a big deal. That didn't stop me from putting the ball down and saying "oh my gawwwwwwwd," whining as my "worst case scenario" unfolded before my eyes. I fanned my hand as the bowler on 5 completed his frame, thinking not about the shot so much as I thought "okay, you are locked in and it is ALL gravy at this point." I had my 7, that was what I wanted.

I get up on the approach. Shaq, Alan, Tom, Chris and one of his PBA friends are all there. I make my approach and it felt like almost all the other approaches I made during the series. The ball came off my hand the same way it had been, going over my target. As soon as I release I lock my eyes on the ball, my hand drawn to my mouth as if I am trying to remember the last item I wanted to add to my grocery list. It was a solid pocket hit - much more solid than the last time I was in this situation. Unlike last time: ALL the pins went down.

Once I calmed down and Shaq finished his game, we had Alan double check the scoring. Oddly, both games one and two had a 10-pin error, resulting in scores of 226 for both. That triplicate would have been less impressive, resulting in a 678 series. My final series: 752.

I just wish I could have been at the beginning of league tonight to see how everyone reacted to seeing the scores -- not in a braggy way, but rather to see what sort of response people would have seeing that one of their rivals bowled out of their mind. Unfortunately, it sounds like my team struggled and the only game we won was the third one. I haven't done the official tally, but I'm secretly hoping that we lose the third game just so I can razz them about "Hey, I did everything I possibly could, what more do you want?"

And I didn't have to use my AK. Today was a good day.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Defer

So I haven't been updating much recently, as you might have noticed. It is not because stuff hasn't been happening -- quite the contrary. It has been a hectic month and I ended up crashing last week as a result of go go GOING without rest. Fortunately, everything that is happening intertwines nicely so this post should border on coherent.

So the end of March was Spring Break and I was facing the indecision about following through and going to Syracuse, remember? Anyway, I took on a project the remainder of Spring Break where I would try to talk with the President's office to see if maybe they could apply some top-down pressure. This required me to research the College's Strategic Plan, all of my timesheets since 2005, and dusting off my George Bailey crystal ball to predict what would happen if my position were left unfilled next year. Think of it as an immersion language course where the dialect is influenced by cost-benefit analysis.

I didn't get to schedule my meeting until after my trip to Syracuse. The drive there was a bit torturous, as I was really tired before the 6 hour trek and there's nothing all that stimulating on the New York Thruway. The weather was chilly and drizzly, something that could be considered a bad sign of things to come. But after checking out the facility, listening about the details of the TRF program, and seeing just how excited the current students still were 9 months into the program totally sold me. More importantly, I finally understood that I was beyond qualified for the program and couldn't imagine not participating.

Of course, a 6 hour drive there means a 6 hour drive back, giving me a lot of time to think things through. Yes, the program is exactly what I want to do. However, what I have been doing for the last 3 years would be completely erased with no one there to keep things going. Another major concern occurred to me as I put another $30 into the gas tank: I'm not in a position to move. Specifically, the brakes needing repair, car insurance coming due, visiting a potential grad school, and a slew of other unavoidable expenses and a dwindling savings account means that I could move to Syracuse but not do anything that cost money -- including eat or acquire toiletries.

So I have a applied for a deferment of my admission and my request has been granted. What this means:

  • I will be going to Syracuse in July of 2009.

  • I will be in Oberlin in the meantime, working on saving money.

  • In the event that my job doesn't become a real job (we'll call that "status quo"), I can use the next year to prepare the staff and the facility for transition. 14 months is way easier to work with than 10 weeks.


  • The best part is I think this solution works for everyone, especially me. When I sent my defer request, I did not feel any twinges of regret or despair. And who knows, maybe some more positive change will come out of waiting one more year.

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    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Supercouple

    Back in high school, there were a number of pairings within my group of acquaintances that non-paired individuals often referred to as "Supercouples". The term, not always used positively, was reserved for those couples who could not be referred to by their individual parts: it was never Lamis or Ryan, it was "LamisAndRyan", "ErinAndCory", etc. Fortunately this was before portmanteau became the way to refer to couples, so the word "Rymis" never came out of anyone's misguided mouth. Come to think about it, none of those Supercouples are in existence today, though their individual components are all doing their own thing and have turned out fine.

    There has been only one time at Oberlin that I have encountered the "Supercouple" phenomenon. It was my senior year and the weekend of that God forsaken bowling tournament in Pittsburgh. I was one of the drivers and the new guy on the team and his girlfriend were two of my passengers. I didn't really know either of them that well, but he was from the Pittsburgh area so if we got lost, he would be a good person to have in the car. Well, sort of. We got lost almost instantly, and he didn't know that area of the city at all. As we passed the final street we were supposed to turn on, I decided to turn on the next street to try to catch the intersection. Of course, Pittsburgh is not constructed that way, so when I turn I am faced with a 45 degree incline. This was back when I had my Lumina, so as the car struggled up the hill, the girlfriend mentions "I think I smell gas fumes." We were already about 45 minutes late, so this concern was added to the bottom of an already lengthy list.

    Add in all the shenanigans after the tournament involving dinner, I don't think I made the most positive first impression. But as we got back on the expressway to Ohio, the two of them decided to sing a couple of songs from Avenue Q, a capella, apropos of nothing. I wasn't really in the mood, but I did make a note of just how, precious?, the whole thing was. It was one of those lucid moments where you fully understand just how compatible two people can be. I seem to recall joking with Meister later about how those two must have been married for years.

    Brooks-Mazur

    Well, they weren't officially married until this past Saturday. Congratulations Meghan and Brian!

    And thanks for not letting a poor first impression on my part complicate things :)

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    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Google

    I was hanging out with Sir Cucumber on Saturday and while eating dinner and watching Mr. Show he pulled up his data from Google Analytics. Basically, this site keeps track of webtraffic to and from any website that you specify, so long as the site has the special html/java code written in. This is how Ben, I mean Cucumber, found out that one of his weekly haiku entries on his gaming blog was linked by G4 (a video gaming news network) earlier in the day. Pretty nifty. As he checked again, the same entry was linked by Kotaku, a video game news blog that many gaming nerds flock to regularly (myself included).

    You haven't seen "Geeking Out" until a gamer has his blog linked by another blog -- all demonstrated in line graph form.

    Anyway, I decided to set up analysis for my blogs and the College Lanes site just as a curiosity. My second blog (which I haven't told anyone about yet -- be on the lookout) has yet to get any traffic, but RGD is actually getting some traffic. 5 unique hits. That's 4 people who are not me! Also, the reports tell you how people get to your site. One of the hits was from someone on Resigned Gamer. My favorite info point is what sort of web searches bring people to you.

    Google the phrase "old songs kids still listen to" and see what site is at the top of the list. Awesome.

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Bluff

    In case you missed it in my last post: I got into Syracuse. I'm not exactly jumping up and down about this development. I got my letters about a week and a half ago and the feeling I experienced as I retrieved the envelopes could best be described as "dread".

    The issue here I think is motivation. I decided to apply to grad school towards the end of summer because I was pissed at how awful work was...at that point. Actually, it was going to be law school that I was going to focus on since I had an LSAT score that was set to expire. I also wanted to try to create some leverage with Tom to see if maybe, just maybe, my job might get turned into a real position. Of course, both Tom and I knew that applying leverage to the top of the boulder isn't going to cause it to move. It wasn't until the drive to the Pittsburgh tournament that Tom and I discussed the issue further. We eventually settled on the idea that perhaps grad school would be a better fit -- despite the obvious consequence of me having to leave the lanes.

    I was still waffling on whether or not to apply, despite taking the GRE over Fall Break. I ended up seeing a therapist shortly after Thanksgiving due to some emotional and stress related issues. During the course of our first meeting, she suggested that I follow through with applying so that I could confront a fear of rejection that seemed to be coming up as a recurring theme in our discussions.

    Syracuse did not hold up on its end of the "confrontation". I thoroughly did not expect to get in and I'm still a little surprised that I got into both programs I applied for. Honestly, I feel like Syracuse is calling my bluff, which...crap.

    What sucks is that, despite the setback of last summer (which I know this summer is not going to be a repeat), I REALLY like my job. But it still isn't a real job and I don't know if I can afford it. But is the best alternative to take on what could be $40,000 of additional student debt? I haven't really told a lot of people yet about getting into Syracuse, mainly because the people who do know ave expressed their concerns about "what happens next"? "I don't know" doesn't put them at ease, specifically Tom.

    James and I had a pretty lengthy discussion about the situation this afternoon. He brought up the good point that if I enjoy what I'm doing so much, why stop doing it? I confided in him that when I go to visit the campus next week, I secretly hope that I hate it there and see nothing but red flags. And then the fire alarms went off. My job still holds surprises.

    I hate this -- I really don't know what to do. I have until May 1st to send in my matriculation deposit. It's going to be a challenging five weeks. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Belt

    So the always awesome Kathy has been blogging about her adventures in the realm of ritualized dieting and I think it is high time that I update about my own adventures.

    It began with an epiphany of sorts during staff training last August. The first day of First Year Orientation is also the same day that the entire staff meets for the first time to go over procedures and introductions. One of the odd things about this year is that, up until February 29th, the days and dates this year matched up with my first year back in 2001 (I'm not an FTL! I'm launching, I swear!). For some reason, this bit of nostalgic trivia was bubbling on the back burner of my mind as I looked over the staff. The overly-athletic-or-at-least-otherwise-trim-staff. And then there was me. Back in 2001, I was under doctor's advisement that I needed to lose some of my 240 pounds, which, thanks to avoiding evil roommate and a co-op diet that included poorly cooked kale, I was able to do. I think the lowest I ever got was 205 by the middle of my first year - a number I gradually crept away from as the years moved on.

    Although I did try going to the gym a bit more (as in, ever) during the fall, my motivation wasn't really where it needed to be. Specifically, the mantra "get thin for him" which...no. I'm sure there were tiny results, but nothing that counterbalanced the constant dining out and weekends spent with TiVo and Pepsi. It wasn't until I started getting information about this year's class reunions that I realized a major shift was needed. You see, this year's 5-year reunion is for the 02-03-04 cluster of grads. In other words, all the older cool kids when I was a bright-eyed first year. Thinking back to people who may have last seen me in 2002, I could honestly see their reaction being "wow, he really let himself go." Not really the best way to kick off reminiscing.

    Oddly, I haven't treated that perception as a mantra during this process. Basically, I'm using Alumni Weekend as the end-date goal, which is so much more helpful than an open-ended process. Right now I'm just trying to get under 200 and I'm getting pretty close. I was at about 230 in December and, as of this morning, I'm down to 207. I'm less intimidated by the weight room, though I'm still befuddled by a number of the machines. Still, I'm learning, which is good. My endurance is much higher than I think it has ever been and I'm not dreading the process the way I have in the past.

    There is one disadvantage I am noticing. I have this pair of pants that I call my "hot pants" (boot-cut jeans from H&M, NOT booty shorts) which I used to pull out for special occasions or when I want to create the effect of sausage casing. They have now entered my regular rotation because they are the only ones that fit me comfortably now - the rest are a bit too loose. I am also in need of new belts - partly because I am apparently too abusive to some, partly because a couple are too big and there aren't any more notches. Money is tight at the moment, so a new wardrobe isn't really an option at the moment. But I'm making progress. I just need a belt.

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    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Mascot

    With March Madness approaching, I'm actually finding myself anxious about selection Sunday and going into Bracketology discussions about a subject that I really know nothing about. Last year my pick of Albany going all the way to the Final Four was described as "Ballsy" in a "Bless his heart" kind of way. Although I actually enjoy watching college sports, I find rallying behind teams almost impossible -- and I hold my education fully responsible.

    I have come out on the loser end of the mascot lottery since kindergarten. I went to Woodworth for K-4 where we were the Hornets. Since inter-school competition doesn't really start until 5th grade it's a little difficult to get jazzed about a purple and gold bug when there's nothing to root for. I spent fifth grade at Henry Ford Elementary where we were the Pintos. Theoretically, we explode on the basketball court -- usually with the lightest of impacts. Moving on to middle school, we were the Stout Falcons, a place where I got fat and had my soul pecked away by predatory birds. Boo metaphorical interpretations.

    While most of the people at Stout moved on to Edsel Ford (the same namesake for the car), I moved on to Fordson where we were, wait for it, the Tractors! Because at the time the school was built, the Fordson Tractor was one of the most popular Ford products. Fifteen years earlier and we could have been the Model-T's. How do you rally behind a piece of farm equipment? I suppose it was somewhat fitting that I went on to Oberlin to become a Yeoman. Not because of the farm connection, but because of the "what the hell kind of mascot is that?" question.

    The evolution continues. This morning I received my decision letters from Syracuse. I got in to both the Advertising and Television Studies programs. It still hasn't fully sunk in yet that once I send my deposit check I will be an Orangeman. Not orange the color, orange the fruit. For a school in Upstate New York. The student webpages are referred to as "MySlice". There is an orange with a couple of leaves at the top of the Financial Aid page. Dan speculated that it was along the same lines as the Stanford Cardinals: not the bird or the religious figure, but the color Cardinal Red.

    I'm sure there are worse mascots out there. They just better not screw up my bracket.

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    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Ides

    So I got an e-mail from the Syracuse Financial Aid office today. It told me all about how to access my portfolio and see how much debt I will accumulate. Potentially. I still have not received a decision letter and it looks like this e-mail was sent to all applicants. Why must you toy with me, oh Orange ones?

    I'm getting antsy. As your calendar has likely informed you, we are transitioning from "beginning of March" to "mid-March", the time when decision letters will be mailed. It's been well over a month since I submitted my application and it's been a patient waiting game through February. I still have no idea where I stand in terms of getting in and I just want to know so I can figure out if I need to plan a move or not. Honestly, I'm totally okay with not getting in, as I have renewed my infatuation with my job and current life situation. What I'm not okay with is waiting to check my mail every day to see if my letters have arrived while getting electronic mixed signals from the school.

    At worst, I have another e-mail address for the time being. What is with me and mixed signals? Gah.

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    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    Deceptacon

    You know that John Cusack movie where he holds the stereo over his head and that Peter Gabriel song starts playing and everyone in the audience, dudes included, get all "squee!"? Big romantic moment, right? But imagine if another song were playing, like, I don't know, The Beatles' "Run for Your Life" or something. Instantly fucking creepy. Oddly, the way that romantic obsessive love and creepy stalkerish obsessive love can be conveyed cinematically are somewhat similar: standing outside the house of the object of affection in the rain, staring at their window as s/he thinks "if only..." The major difference: if there's lightning, call the cops.

    Anyway, I've been thinking about that duality lately and I'm in the process of working on a mix invoking that theme. I'm calling it Coming on a Little Strong. I'm combing my iTunes right now trying to pick out songs that are super romantic/sweet/squee and then I'll comb that list for ones that, if listened to with a flip in perspective, can be...uncomfortable. Let me give you a few examples:

    #1 Crush ~ Garbage
    Ring of Fire ~ Johnny Cash (the link has an awesome story about the writing of the song)
    Obsession ~ Animotion
    Daughters ~ John Mayer (why do I have this song, anyway?)

    I've got quite a bit more combing to do, as I'm still in the J's ("so here I am...with OOOOOOOOOPEN ARRRRRRRMS..."), but I'm curious what suggestions y'all might have. As you can see there is a range in terms of subtlety (I'm looking at you Animotion) and I'm sure there are some that are so obvious that I've just passed them without thinking.

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    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Skid

    For about the last week and a half, I've been feeling like I'm riding on the edge of falling into a bad patch lifewise. Things have been going okay for the most part, great even, but I just have this sense of foreboding not unlike the sighting of the Big Gray Ass Cloud on the horizon every October.

    I've been making some positive changes in my life that are actually reaping benefits. I've stopped drinking pop and have been more or less off the stuff for about a month. The only exceptions were a disgusting cream soda that I tried a couple weeks ago (they did come in nice bottles) and a can of Cherry Vanilla Blue Sky, also kinda gross. I've developed tunnel vision at the grocery store, essentially avoiding the junk aisles and hanging out in the produce section and the deli. I've focused more on exercising, be it rocking out on DDR or going to the gym. I'm losing weight, if the gym scale is to be believed, and have made a surprising amount of progress. Hockey is helping too, especially this past class. We had our first scrimmage, and my first interaction as a defenseman almost broke out into a hockey fight. I've got some good bruises going on.

    But there is still the foreboding. This morning I woke up early (another benefit, as my Blood/High Fructose Corn Syrup Content is much lower and not causing insomnia) so I could take my car in to have the brakes checked. As I described it to the woman at Midas when I made my appointment yesterday, the breaks are grinding and they just sound unhappy. Anyway, I turn on the computer and my cell phone. My cell phone has no service and an unregistered SIM. Great. You see, I decided to switch phone companies and get a new phone (QWERTY phone, woot!) and keep my number. The number transfer went through, but I don't actually have the new phone yet. Great. I check the UPS tracking and the phone is "out for delivery". This is good news, except for: I have to drop off my car at 9:30 and have no way of changing my appointment since I can't call Midas; the only way Midas can contact me is through my work number, so I have to stay at the lanes; if UPS doesn't have a key to get into my building, they have no way of reaching me since the doorbell phone calls my cell phone (which they are delivering). Oh, and everything is frozen over because it's Ohio. Awesome.

    I got the call about my car at about 10:30. The woman was very nice, though when she broke the news about what was wrong and how much it was going to cost she delivered it the same way that a vet would tell you that your six week old puppy will have to be put down. I guess this is why I have a savings account, but geez.

    I'm still skirting that edge, but one push and it's going to be a hard fall.

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    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Pr0n

    Usually when 2 o'clock rolls around, I know I can get a quick laugh just by checking my e-mail. Oberlin's spam filter sends its report to both my account and the Lanes' account at about that time and there is quite a bit of stuff that gets reported. Recently, though, the ones sent to the bowling account have gotten somewhat bizarre. Granted, I only have the subject lines to work from but there's some "target demo" issues that I think need exploring.

    "After taking this and putting on 3 inches, your girlfriend will not be able to take her hands off you."

    "Change your tiny tool into a POWER DRILL"

    "If your girlfriend doesn't come EVERYTIME you have sex, you need a larger schlong for sure."

    "Be longer, bigger, thicker and be INVINCIBLE - wome love it."

    Spelling errors aside, I can't help but imagine a bowling center with a massive piece. A building with balls; an erection that is well-endowed (monetarily speaking); I'm sure there are plenty more puns that will make you cringe and giggle.

    A couple of questions do come up. First, are women size queens to the level that these ads suggest? My understanding is that things get kind of painful in a "putting toothpaste back in the tube" sort of way if there is too much of a size disparity. Moreover, gay men do not appear to be a marketing target either, despite the size queening that goes on in that community. Again, there's the same camel through the eye of a needle issue but, y'know. Have I made this awkward enough? Good.

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    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Hoosier Daddy

    This past weekend was the 39th annual Hoosier Classic bowling tournament in Indianapolis and the Oberlin College team was in attendance. Surprisingly, the level of drama was significantly lower than the high-water mark established in years past. I'll try to make this post interesting.

    We only sent five bowlers this time around which made logistics and budgeting significantly easier. Since there were only 6 people traveling we decided to rent a minivan from the College. Advantage 1 of being the coach: I get to be a control freak when it comes to transportation. I didn't think I would like driving a minivan but I really liked our car -- a Toyota Sienna. The part I liked was that the back row of seats can fold into the floor (as they were when I picked up the van), but when they were pulled out there was a sunken in storage area that was perfect for bowling equipment. It was also a very comfortable ride and really user friendly.

    The drive down was not that bad. James volunteered to navigate and took his role almost too seriously (which is actually pretty helpful when you need assistance opening a Nalgene or regulating the temperature). Brad brought a DVD player for himself, so he was pacified and out of my hair. Everyone else was quiet for the most part -- not that I demanded that but I think I was able to make better time since I wasn't overly chatty. Of course, Tom was nice enough to let me include travel time on my timecard, so I guess that worked against me in a sense.

    We got to the hotel at about quarter to eleven. I was pleased with the accommodations. The first time we went to the Hoosier, we stayed in these ridiculous suites that, while very comfortable, must have cost a fortune. The second time around, we went the cheap route and stayed at the Knight's Inn (one step above paying-by-the-hour lodging). While that one was cheap, there was significant travel involved in that location. If you look at a map of Indianapolis, I-465 circumnavigates the city. I-70, the road we come in on, is at 3 o'clock, the bowling center is at 12, and the Knight's Inn is at 6. The Days Inn we stayed at was at 1 o'clock, so it was quite convenient and not all that expensive. Considering how late we made our reservations I'm surprised they still had space for us. As I checked in, there was a complicated series of Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine room assignments. For some reason, Brad wanted to room with Avi and would not budge from that position. James and Max didn't seem all that invested in where they slept though Ra'Mar seemed to have a strong preference as he kept pushing more RPS matches. Once I got the keys, I took one set for my room and gave Ra'Mar the other set. This seemed to bring about a much quicker resolution than the "best 14 out of 27" situation that was developing.

    The rooms were quite nice, especially considering the price. There was a mini-kitchenette (kitchenetteette?) with a sink, but there was also a sink and counter space in the bathroom. I know it's not that big a deal, but I so prefer to do all of my morning ablutions in private, not just the nudey ones. The only downside that we, well Max, found was that the beds didn't have bottom sheets -- only the top sheets just sort of laying on top of the mattress. Kind of weird, but certainly not the weirdest thing I've encountered in bowling team travels. After everyone got settled, we had a mini-powwow to go over what would be happening in the tournament, looking over printouts of the oil patterns and answering any lingering questions.

    The alarm went off at 6 the next morning. I usually don't feel so good if I wake up after a reduced amount of sleep, but Saturday I felt more like I was exhibiting symptoms rather than general fatigue. We met down in the lobby for breakfast where I choked down half a bowl of raisin bran and thanked my lucky stars that I didn't have to bowl today. The team seemed to be in much better shape than me, so that was a promising sign. We headed over to the center and promptly checked in. One of the things I love about this tournament, besides its Top Notch status, is how well organized the event is. I have never felt confused about what was going on at any point and even if I did I knew I would get a quick and clear answer from the tournament staff. As I waited in the arcade for the coaches meeting, a person a few feet away looked at the lane assignment list and said "Oh, Oberlin is here." It's an awkward situation because I could say something, but the way he said it could have been followed with "It'll be nice to see them" or "What the hell?" I'll just assume that it would be the first one and smile quietly. We have arrived.

    Another plus of this particular tournament: Since we had only one team going, they would get my undivided attention. With other tournaments, I would often find myself running back and forth checking in on teams and trying to address the most pressing issues but in ways that never really seemed to instill confidence in the bowler. In this situation, I could provide significantly better advice since I could watch every shot made by our team and by the other team on the pair.

    Unfortunately, there were difficulties. First off, the patterns were extremely challenging. This wasn't a surprise, but I think the level of difficulty was probably at 9 when we were anticipating maybe 7 and a half. In these situations, breakpoint theory is the way to go. Basically, the breakpoint is the spot on the lane where the ball will break out of its skid and start to hook. If you find the optimal breakpoint, your ball should go into the pocket. If you don't get a strike, you have a strong chance of leaving a makable spare. Although it may sound easy in that explanation, it is incredibly challenging to execute effectively. Although a couple of the bowlers have been lightly exposed to breakpoint theory through the Bowling II class, this was a crash course in the concept for all five members of the team. I will say that I am impressed with how well they rose to the challenge in terms of executing shots and making adjustments to help play to the proper breakpoint.

    Despite this, the scores for our team were quite low. The two problems that kept coming up was a lack of momentum and what I consider to be poor spare shooting. The momentum aspect really kind of baffled me. For some reason the energy was lacking for most of the day, though it didn't seem to be caused by fatigue or bad chemistry. There were sparks here and there, but we just couldn't get the fire started. Though maybe the spare shooting is to blame. Most bowling matches are won when all spares are picked up and all splits are maximized. There were far too many spares left uncovered during the first day and I think our overall score was a few hundred pins lower than it should have been. That's not to say there was no effort -- in fact there were many splits converted when all we ask in that situation is that the bowler tries to get as many pins as reasonably possible. Of course, when you as the coach realize that the spare shooting is one of the main problems, telling a bowler to pick up their spares is 1) ineffective and 2) just adding to the disappointment/frustrated feeling that the bowler is already experiencing. You just have to add it to the "Things to work on" list and move on.

    At the end of Saturday we were all feeling pretty tired. However, the head of the coaches' association wanted to have a meeting after the last game and I had to stay for that. It was actually a pretty interesting meeting, though it devolved into people talking about all of the second- and third-order decisions which of course made the meeting that much longer. So long, in fact, that Avi called me during the meeting to make sure that I didn't leave the bowling center without the team. I clocked in a 7am on Saturday, clocked out at 7pm. And then we had to figure out dinner. It didn't help that everyone was extremely tired, I was feeling really gross and the only people who had real opinions on the subject were throwing out suggestions that made me feel even worse than I already did. We eventually decided on Fazoli's. When we went inside, the fluorescent-lit menus and the red trays caused a majority of us to say "can we go somewhere else?" I was experiencing Killer Fatigue at this point which is never a happy place and causes you to say things like "I just want to eat somewhere where I don't have to bus my own table." Although others agreed with me, there's really no way to say that without sounding petulant. Avi, James, Max and I ended up at this sushi restaurant while Brad and Ra'Mar went to Steak N Shake (I'll spare you the really obnoxious things I said about that). It's a shame I wasn't feeling better because it sounds like everyone had some tasty dishes. I just got soup which was good but it would have been nicer to have something more extravagant.

    When we got back to the hotel, we ended up splitting into our rooms -- Max, James and me in one; Ra'Mar, Brad and Avi in the other. I don't know how they passed the time in the other room, but we spent the night talking about some heavy duty stuff. Max and I accidentally grilled James on libertarian fiscal policy, which...no. Granted, I'm in favor of the idealized impractical economic theory at the other end of the spectrum (socialism) but I'm not as passionate about it. I've accepted that my preferred theory would never work and I've moved on and perhaps someday James will do the same. Based on the conversation I've pretty much concluded that a libertarian economic system would essentially be a form of neo-feudalism which would totally suck because I would so end up being a serf. I DON'T WANT TO TOIL IN THE MUD! Eventually the topic got around to gay rights and how Dale v. BSA is the most awesome Supreme Court case ever. That's right -- we know how to party in Indianapolis on a Saturday night.

    I woke up on Sunday feeling worse. First, I have a tendency to wake up in anticipation of alarm clocks because I hate being startled by loud noises. I think I went to sleep a little after 12:30 and it felt like 5:45. I look over at the clock: 2:30. Ugh. All in all, not a good night's sleep. The routine was essentially a repeat of Saturday, only instead of raisin bran I barely choked down a third of a piece of toast and we had to check out of the hotel. Apparently I missed Tony Reyes checking in. The PBA World Championship is this week and will be bowling in the same center that our tournament was at.

    We eventually made our way to the center for the last three games of the tournament. My Killer Fatigue had not completely worn off yet and people were tap dancing on my nerves. The first game seemed to be a continuation of the problems from the day before. I soon realized that part of the problem involved how we practice back at Oberlin. Before tournaments, we play a game called +1/-1. On the first ball of a frame, if you get the ball in play (hitting the ballside of the head pin) you get +1. If you are out of play you get -1. If you strike you also get +1, so an in play strike is +2, an out of play strike is 0. If you leave pins, you get +1 if you make the spare or -1 if you miss it (if it is a split and you maximize, you get 0). Here is the problem: If you get an out of play strike, you get 0 but it is a wash since you have the strike helping out your score. In the current structure, If you get an in play hit that leaves a corner pin, you have +1. If you miss your spare (a bowler really shouldn't be missing a corner pin spare) that is -1, making a total of 0. However, this is not a wash since you do not get a score boost in terms of regular scoring. If anything missing a spare (that isn't a split) should be -2. So for the second game, I started keeping track of the team's +1/-2 scores and the results were eye-opening. As I explained to the individuals on the team as they saw what I was doing I was hoping to raise the standard that bowlers should be holding themselves to. I heard at least twice that "it sucks to lose 3 points in a single frame." This was not stated as a gripe but more as a realization. I think I made a breakthrough.

    Game 9 started against UNLV and Oberlin was still in next-to-last place (thanks Notre Dame!). The UNLV team seemed extremely frustrated and were having slide issues that no one on the Oberlin team seemed to experience. Both teams had a somewhat rough start, though Oberlin was slightly ahead. As I stood towards the back of the settee area, I felt someone tap my shoulder. It was Chris Loschetter, the PBA bowler who practices in our center. You know, there's something truly magnificent when the 14th best bowler in the world (according to the current rankings) is not only hanging out with one of the least impressive teams at a tournament, but that he was actually looking for us so he could say hi. Even better, he could totally commiserate with the team, telling us why he dislikes sport shots and how he doesn't really like team bowling. He was only on our pair for about ten minutes, but that was enough to get our fire going. Max bowled the high game for Oberlin with a 196 and we ended up beating UNLV (who were ranked 29 prior to that match). So awesome.

    The drive back was a bit of a challenge, given my fatigued state, but we made it back safe and in good time. Although there was a great deal of frustration in terms of the conditions and Oberlin's performance, I think we did a good job and I'm optimistic that we have figured out areas that we need to work on. And although it was a challenging weekend, I think I did a good job.

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