Gin and Root Beer

03. October 2013 here now 0
A poet, a friend of a friend on Facebook, is unemployed and living in his grandmother’s basement and writing The Unemployment Sonnets. For five dollars, you can commission a poem. My poem is entitled “Gin and Root Beer.” It is about striving and taste and ceiling fans. I lost the envelope already. All I have is a ...

Summer Anthems, One More Time

12. June 2012 here now 4
I let my students out of their final and told them all, “Have a good summer.” I had to come down on them, this morning. There was a thing with grading, and grades, and whether they had to complete the last paper… (which yes, they did). On the one hand, it breaks my heart every ...

Problems with Authority, Part II

23. March 2012 here now 1
To recap: Eskimo wisdom — “By gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.” Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Behavioral economists. This is what I’m thinking about, lately. In this talk, the behavioral economist Dan Pink, a behavioral economist, notes that people perform poorly when big money is at stake. Then, as behavioral economists ...

Problems with Authority, Part I

16. March 2012 here now 5
A friend of ours, R., experimented with walking a certain number of steps every day. He said during the experiment he would look at his little device, realize he needed another ninety seven steps, and walk out to get a carton of milk. Keeping track kept him motivated. I find this interesting, not because it ...

hair of the dog

07. March 2012 here now 0
At the Museum of Jurassic Technology, in the section on folk remedies, there’s a little display for “Hair of the Dog”–dog hair was meant to cure the animal’s bite–right next to “Mice on Toast.” I don’t remember what the Mice are meant to cure. I remember what they look like: tiny, grey carcasses, blurry in the ...

Mondegreens

23. February 2012 here now 1
A “Mondegreen” is when they play Owner of a Lonely Heart, and you hear “Omar was a lonely horse.” I learned Home, Home on the Range when I was very young. I didn’t know what “seldom” meant when I learned the song: Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all ...

Index

06. December 2011 here now 0
End of the quarter: 9 days from now Hours on the train: 2 Hours commuting: 4 Hours out of the house: 11.5 Predicted height of stack of student portfolios: 2.5’ Number of things in the media that made me cry: 2 Glasses of white wine–short glasses, long pour: 2 Vegetables: 2 Other substances: caffeine, mucinex, ...

Match point

24. October 2011 here now 0
Scotch after dinner vs. swimming laps at dawn. The moment the sky turns gray-pink like the underbelly of  a river dolphin and the fluorescent lights around the pool switch off vs. the moment the hot water hits my skin in the locker room shower. Someone else’s hair on the stall door vs. the sense that ...

Dear FB,

02. October 2011 here now 3
Admit it. When you change the site, you have an equation that predicts the socioeconomic profile of every annoyed user who will leave. Each vaguely annoying shift purges the unwilling, those refusing to shape themselves to the technology instead of letting it shape them. Admit it. With every change, you monitor us more closely. We ...

Cocktails: Part II — Bacchus

29. July 2011 here now 1
Bacchus commands that everything be hard For him who abstains from wine, and Bacchus says The troubles that wear away our days are not Made easier by any other means. This is Horace, translated by David Ferry, on the god of wine. Dionysus: god of fertility, harvest, ecstasy, god of “personal delivery from the daily ...