Inferior Imitator

ep·i·gone n. A second-rate imitator or follower, especially of an artist or a philosopher.

Monday, July 31, 2006

I like political humor. I love The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I'm trying to reconcile this fact with how offended I get when my Uncle T. forwards political jokes to me. The last one that set me off was something called "How to Recognize a Good Liberal" which I deleted and can't find anymore, but basically made fun of liberal positions the way this one ridicules conservative. I've emailed him in the past about things he's forwarded that the basic purpose of is to belittle someone's belief system. When I emailed him about this last one I got this in return:

Sorry, I really don't want to offend you.

I now realize that you've become a "moderate". From now on I'll only forward those emails that I forward to my liberal friends!

I still love you!

My family doesn't talk about politics much, but we're all Lutherans, so I assume most politics are on the conservative side. Uncle T. is pretty much the only one that I would say is active on the "issues". He's a very smart man, with well-thought out positions and I respect his opinion. So the thing I'm most offended about is the implication that my political positions are a character flaw.

But to get to the point of this post, my response was this:

I'm not sure "offended" is the right word. Sure, forwards like that and [Things Republicans Believe] are good for a chuckle for the opposite side, but it's also a symptom of what's wrong with modern political discussion. This kind of "discussion" simplifies and belittles beliefs. I'm curious as how you feel when you read this "Things Republicans Believe" as opposed to "How to Recognize a Good Liberal". Is it just as funny, or do you find yourself defending each "point"? What makes one funny and not the other?

I believe every word of what I said, but I also think the world of The Daily Show. Can I justify it by saying that it is an equal-opportunity heckler? Am I really laughing at Stupid Politics or is it actually because the butt of the joke is the Other Side? I truly don't want to belittle anyone's beliefs, even if they're somewhat misguided. Am I just a hippocrite?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm hot. I've been trying to do non-hot things, like staying inside. Just walking outside last night to help Josh and Chelsea store some of their stuff in my garage over homeless days made me sweat. Thank the Lord in Heaven for central air, or I'd spend a couple months a year just sick. I explained it to one of the RAGBRAIers this way: I get heat exhaustion like some people get colds. I've managed to avoid it so far this year, mostly by skipping TKD for the last month and staying inside on days like this. But football season is what kills me - the first few, anyway. Four hours in the sun is really tough. We'll see; I'm going to bring more water to the game and try protective clothing instead of the less-is-more method.

My tenant got most of her stuff out yesterday. Woo-hoo! I've been looking forward to this for months! No more wearing earplugs to bed, no more bitching about the TV, no more elephant steps overhead. *Knocks on wood* We'll see how the new gal works out. I'm a little bit worried about how well she'll clean, though - she wasn't the tidiest of people and the check-out list I made up for her is still sitting in her mailbox. What's up with not picking up your mail for a week? It's not like she doesn't live here still. At any rate, I've tentatively taken PTO for Tuesday morning in case I'll have to do some touch ups before move-in at noon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Every year, during the hottest week of the year, there's something called RAGBRAI. Basically, it's several thousand people taking a week to bike across Iowa. Every year, it's a different route, and this year it came through Coralville. Although every town that the route passes through has something special going on for the riders (food, mostly), the designated overnight spots are where the parties are. My next door neighbor offered to host a group (provide a place for their RV, offer showers, and a place to sleep and to store their bikes).

Since there was this party next door, I got myself invited over and met some pretty cool people. The group was put together by a guy from Seattle, who invited all his old college friends from Ottomua Heights (now Indian Hills) to go with him: "If I plan, will you ride?" Some of these people hadn't seen each other in 20 years, so it was a lot of fun eavesdropping on their reminiscing. The other interesting thing was hearing the impressions of Iowa from the out-of-staters. They hadn't seen lightning bugs before, and thought the locusts were really loud. (Which they actually are in my neighborhood for some reason. Mom was up a couple days ago and commented on how loud they were.) They also couldn't get over how fabulous the pie was. "Those churches are the place to eat along the way. Those grandmas can really bake pie."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My brother says fuel pumps are important. Damn. I took my Ranger in to the auto mechanic, because it was taking way too many cranks to get the engine to turn over. They called and said it was the fuel pump and it was going to cost about $500 to fix. Shit. I'm glad I only put half down on the windows, instead of the 75% I was planning. I thought, "I'd better keep the extra cash around for emergencies. Plus, there's the sidewalk and the painting I'm going to have to pay for this summer, too." Forethought! It's great!

So much for my perfect record on repairs. But it is seven years old, so something had to go sooner or later. I could have just wished that it was something a little less labor-intensive. "I'm not surprised [it'll cost that much]," Lew said. "They'll probably have to drop the tank out to get to the pump, since there's no bed access." Who designed this stupid thing? I have to pay extra for oil changes, too, since it's difficult to reach the oil filter.

But I do love my truck. I'll probably end up driving it into the ground, just like Dad does to his cars. Did I ever tell you about the Taurus? The one that's three colors and he carries a portable heater in the passenger seat in the winter because the heat doesn't work and he doesn't want to put the money into it to fix it? He's determined to drive it until it dies. I won't be that bad, but I won't be buying a new vehicle when my loan is paid off (ten more months!). I've got it set up so that my paycheck automatically goes toward paying the loan, and when it's paid off, the money will go into my savings account instead, so it's earmarked for a new vehicle when I do need one. I thought that was pretty clever of me.

But it does pain me to part with money like this.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm in a quandry. Test 2 did not go nearly as well as Test 1. I know I'm going to get pleas for extra credit because of this, and I really don't want to do extra credit. Either your work warranted the grade, or it doesn't. I've got a pretty good bell curve going, mostly B's, some A's and C's, and a couple D's. And one person flunking, but she hasn't shown up since week two. I don't feel responsible for her.

And that's where my quandry lies. I feel responsible for all these kids. Or maybe not responsible: parts of me feel like the kids who are getting A's are doing it all on their own, and the ones who aren't doing well aren't doing well because I'm not teaching it well enough. I know it's a little bit of both. This is college, and all I'm supposed to do is present the material and make sure I'm available to answer questions. These kids don't ask questions so much, so it's difficult to gauge how well they understand until we get to a graded assignment. I'm constantly reverting to the TKD teaching mantra that I picked up from Randal: "Does that make sense?" Sometimes I get a couple nods, but mostly non-committal faces. I have to look for blank looks, and I don't see many, but that could be inexperience, too.

At any rate, most of them will be disappointed in their grades, because I am, too. There was one question in particular that disappointed me, because 90% of the class didn't read the question that was asked. [rolleyes] I will definitely be going over Word Problems 101 this evening. I told them it was going to be a difficult test, and I let them have cheat sheets on index cards, and I gave them a study guide with the topics on the test. Number one clue that it's going to be a difficult test is that you get a cheat sheet. You know that what's on the cheat sheet is not what you're going to be tested on. It's your ability to use what's on the cheat sheet. Better they learn that now, I guess.

God, I'm glad this class is almost over.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I am very, very upset. I am in angry grizzly bear protecting her cub mode, and I have absolutely no outlet. My favorite fantasy involves provoking assault and pressing charges to the fullest extent of the law. Another involves a well-placed spin hook kick to the face, preferably involving a broken nose and multiple reconstructive surgeries.

I know I can't hurt her physically, but God help that woman if I ever meet her again. She's messed with the wrong person, and she will not get away with it this time.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Windows! I have windows! The installer called me yesterday, and said "Can we install tomorrow?" and of course I said yes. I went around in the rain before I left this morning and took pictures of the old windows, so I had something to compare to. When I came home this afternoon, I had brand new windows, and my house stunk to high heaven. I think it's from the caulking, and I'm trying desperately to air out my house, which is difficult because it's like 90 degrees and 200% humidity outside. They have to come back Monday and finish the trim on the outside, so I have to wait to take after pictures, but I'll post them then.

They seem so much bigger! I think it's because there were quarter dividers on the old set. I look out my windows and think, "Wow! Look at that! Such a big outside from here!" Plus, these are clean. Fabulous! I'm so giddy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Love and marriage, love and marriage...go together like a horse and carriage..."

Having just finished (like a month ago) Marriage, a History, by Stephanie Coontz, the song doesn't make so much sense anymore, besides dredging up an unavoidable association of Married, with Children. I was born in 1978, which doesn't excuse my lack of knowledge of history, but I've only ever known a world where equality in marriage is a given. Not so much anymore. I learned that women hadn't been allowed to apply for credit cards without their husbands' permissions before the 1970's, and illegitimate children got inheritance rights only around the same time.

To summarize the book: The reasons for marrying used to be simply for political or economic gain. If you happened to fall in love, that was just icing on the cake. The concept of marrying for love only started taking a foothold in the eighteenth century, and the "traditional" marriage politicians keep lamenting the decline of was pretty much a mid-twentieth century fluke. In the author's opinion, that decline was inevitable because we as a society have made marriage a choice - it is no longer required to be the building block of society.

Think about it: we no longer need to marry in order to have successful lives or satisfying relationships. We have the choice to fulfill economic, social, and political needs outside marriage, so we are free to marry for love. Does it now follow that when the reason for that relationship is gone, we should be free to end that relationship? And in my opinion, it is that ability to end it that makes marriage so powerful in today's society. The people that choose to marry, and to stay married, are making a statement about their level of commitment to each other and to their relationship. The rarer something is, the more valuable it is.

It's because marriage is what it is, a public statement about the commitment between two people, that I believe that the opportunity to marry should be offered to people of the same sex. Sure there would be same-sex couples who wouldn't embody the ideal of marriage, or they would get divorced, or have kids that would have to shuttle back and forth between parents. But there are many, many thousands of same-sex couples who would make ideal parents, and be good role models, and would love their husband or wife with every fiber of their being to the day they died and beyond, and how can we deny them that chance to say to the rest of the world, "This is what we mean to each other, and we can say it with one word: married."

So really, what do we want to make marriage mean? Do we really want to make it about one penis and one vagina, or do we want to make it about love and commitment and compromise and respect and that moment on your deathbed when the last thing you hear is the person you shared that with for the past fifty years of your life cry out, "Goodbye, my love! I love you!" Isn't that what we all want? Why would you want to deny that to anyone?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Miss Matchmaker is at it again, and it's really starting to piss me off. It's one of the most annoying things about newlyweds: they're so damn happy, they think no one else can be happy unless they're in a relationship, too. I was really torn about it, though. There was no chemistry that I could tell, but I don't know how much chance I should have given it. I don't remember how long it usually takes me, but an evening should do it, shouldn't it? The ones that stick out in my mind, I knew right away there was something about them. Like that new IT guy at work. When I know he's around, I have trouble paying attention to my work. Is that what it feels like to be a guy?

At any rate, I shut the poor guy down. I told him I wasn't ready to move on yet, which is mostly true, at least not with him. IT guy, maybe, but not him. For now, it just feels really good to have a crush again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I would by no means call myself claustrophobic. But every once in a while, I get a little panicked on the bottom floor of a parking garage. Something about all those heavy layers of concrete above me and low ceilings. It doesn't happen very often, but it's happened pretty often recently, due to the work they've been doing to my parking garage this summer:

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Every few feet, there's a hole in the floor like this one! I'm terrified! You can see through the floor! I'm pretty sure it has to do with giving the concrete room to expand and contract, but it reminds me that there are tons and tons of concrete above my head with holes like this one. I'm not sure how much longer I can live like this. Fill the holes!