Sunday, April 29, 2007

(untitled 145)

I've been through about a hundred different versions of this in my head, and I can't think of a clever or lyrical way to put this, so I'm just going to say it the way I announced it to the family tonight.

We're engaged. And I couldn't be happier.

Friday, April 20, 2007

(untitled 144)

Two cool things, in the order that they happened to me:

1. I fell asleep at work. In my boss's office. With him watching me. While I was reading a book.

I am the man.

2. I got the following email from the Kellog's Corporation in response to my earlier query about what the K in "Kellog's Special K" stood for:

Mr. [Optimistic.],

Thank you for contacting us concerning what the K stands for in KELLOGG'S® SPECIAL K®. We appreciate your interest in our company and products.

In naming our products, we try to choose words that describe the cereal and can be protected by a trademark. KELLOGG'S® SPECIAL K® cereal was developed in the mid-1950s as an entirely new kind of cereal. Since we felt that most Americans were familiar with the 'K' in our logo and that this was a special kind of cereal, the name KELLOGG’S® SPECIAL K® seemed quite appropriate.

Here is a little more information that might be of interest to you. The name KELLOGG'S® FROOT LOOPS® cereal describes the flavor and shape of this product. By changing the spelling of the word “fruit,” we selected a name that could easily be registered as a trademark. The name KELLOGG'S® POP-TARTS® Toaster Pastries is also descriptive. These toaster pastries are “tarts,” and they “pop” up in a toaster when heated. When KELLOGG’S® APPLE JACKS® was introduced in 1965, the apple ingredient was promoted on our package and in our advertising. In recent years, our market research with kids tells us that they do not necessarily separate the apple flavor in this product as the one they most enjoy or even perceive. They simply agree that they like the taste and the combination of flavors that KELLOGG’S® APPLE JACKS® provides. KELLOGG'S® PRODUCT 19® cereal was the nineteenth product introduced in the Kellogg’s™ line of brands. Since the cereal had been referred to in this way during the development stage, we decided to keep this name and register it.

We appreciate your interest in our company and products.


Idalia Acosta
Consumer Affairs Department



Kellogg North America
Battle Creek, MI 49016-1986

And now you know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

(untitled 143)

Today's action daydream:

In light of the recent events at Virginia Tech, everyone at my high school was on their guard in case a copycat assailant should show up. It turned out I was the first one to see him walking through the parking lot. It's fortunate that I was observing other teachers today, since my usual classroom doesn't have any windows. This one looked out directly over the parking lot. He didn't seem especially intimidating when I first got a look at him - just a scrawny kid who happened to be dressed in black and toting a submachine gun. At first, I wasn't sure what to do. Should I run and tell the main office? What happens if he seems me in the hall, though? I'd be gone for sure, but someone needs to know so we don't lose dozens of students. After a moment of indecision, I get up and head to the door. No sooner do I reach to open the door, however, than I realize that he's on the other side, trying to get in. It's a heavy door, so I know he won't be able to shoot through it. This emboldens me, convincing me to push the door shut on him. He manages to get the barrel through the crack of the door, pointing it around wildly and trying to shoot anyone he can. My mind is clear, however, as I calmly instruct students (and the teacher) to stand against the walls and out of the line of fire. I surprise him by pulling the door open, causing him to fall on the floor. A wide-eyed look of disbelief comes over his face as the gun slips falls from his grip and comes to rest under my waiting foot. "Not on my watch," I declare.

Instantly, I'm a national hero. I have single-handedly prevented a second school shooting in as many days, and a grateful nation lines up to congratulate me. My face is all over the news. President Bush extends a personal message of gratitude and names a county in Kansas after me. Word gets out that I'm an aspiring teacher looking for a job, and districts across the country line up to offer me teaching positions. After all, what greater qualification can there be for a teacher than of saving students' lives?

When I came back to reality, however, I found out that a student in my regular classes had a seizure, and that my cooperating teacher was tending to him. Turns out he's the real hero in this school.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

(untitled 142)

It's 1.16 AM. On my plate are two chocolate chip cookies, a cupcake with purple frosting and sprinkles, and a donut. I have a tall glass of orange Fanta to wash it all down, and I'm watching the roommates play Wii Bowling.

Yup, looks like I'm done with my undergraduate career. You can tell how much I've matured.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

(untitled 141)

I'm mad. People I care about are being taken advantage of. Their lives are being corrupted. Precious things are being ruined, and there's nothing I can do about it.

One of my students came up to me before class with a set of keys he'd found. One of my students from an earlier class had left it behind. It wasn't anything fancy, just a pair of keys attached to a Jurassic Park keychain with his name on it. It had an air of innocence in my view; it was nothing more than a young man proclaiming to the world that he liked Jurassic Park. He thought dinosaurs were cool.

I think dinosaurs are cool.

This young man came back after school once he'd realized he'd misplaced his keys. I handed them back, glad he'd returned; they didn't look like car keys (frankly, he's not the sort who would drive a car to school), but they did look like house keys, and I had a fleeting image tinged with melancholy of him sitting by his locked front door, waiting the three hours until his parents got home. As soon as he got them, though, he cast a quick glance around the room and said, "Was there a flash drive attached to it?"

Someone stole his flash drive.

This made me mad. It was painfully obvious that it was his flash drive. The keychain had his name on it. How on earth can anyone justify taking something from a Jurassic Park keychain with someone else's name on it? That keychain rang of innocence to me; whoever stole his flash drive corrupted this young man's innocence. He's lucky I don't run the justice system in this country. I probably would have done something rash and violent.

I have a friend who had a bad day, but it's really symptomatic of a bad couple of months. She has someone who she clearly cares about deeply. I don't blame her. I have someone like that of my own. This young man, however, isn't returning the favor. The latest in a series of alternating professions of love and indifference was too much for her. Fortunately, she had someone nearby to be there for her. I wish I could have been there, but really, I'm glad I wasn't. I would have given her a hug and done something extremely inadvisable to this young man. He's lucky I don't run the justice system in this country.

While I don't know him, somewhere out there is a young man who raped one of my friends. He raped her. I can't think of a more horrible thing to do to anyone. Not only did he inflict that unimaginable crime on her, but he also corrupted love for her.

He corrupted trust.

He corrupted happiness.

He's lucky I don't run the justice system in this country. I probably would have done something I would have regretted for a long time. I would have made him suffer. I would have done all kinds of unspeakable things to him. It's a good thing I wasn't there.

The destruction of innocence around me makes me really mad. I can't think of anything that affects me more powerfully, except possibly the fact that there's nothing I can do about it. The world is full of awful people, people that I would hit with a baseball bat if it wouldn't drag me into the muck they live in. I guess it makes the good that much more precious, though. It gives us something to cling to.

Still, though, I'm mad.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

(untitled 140)

Weird, weird dream last night/this morning, friends.

I'm never sure who reads this blog, so whenever I mention anything that has to do with LDS theology, I feel a need to explain it. I imagine most people know that young men in the LDS Church (specifically 19 year-olds) are asked to serve as missionaries for a two year period. Mission assignments are determined by revelation, so these young men can be assigned to go nearly anywhere in the world. I went to Japan for my mission. It was a wonderful experience, but no one warned me beforehand how intensely difficult and demanding it was going to be. I found out firsthand. Robert Poste and I used to joke about how we would probably refuse to serve a second mission if we were asked to.

On to the dream.

A companion from the mission (aside: LDS missionaries work in sets of two; said missionaries are referred to as "companions") came to talk to me. He was one of my Japanese companions, and said that he was heading back to Japan to serve a second mission. Admittedly, he was on his way out, but he was stopping by to see if I wanted in. "Why not," I thought to myself, and packed up a few white shirts and ties. Off we went to Japan.

After a couple of months of missionary work, I began to wonder about the logistics of my decision. I realized that I hadn't actually told anyone at home of my decision. I just threw some clothes in a duffel bag and jumped on a plane. All of my things were still in my apartment, too, and I only had a contract through August. I didn't know how the people moving into my apartment in May were going to deal with all of the things I'd left there. On top of that, I was quickly realizing that I wasn't especially enthusiastic about full-time missionary service anymore, to say nothing of the fact that I was far less than excited to serve for another 22 months.

How to get home, though? I hadn't really considered that, and I didn't have the money it was going to take to get back home. However, I quickly remembered that Genuine Draft was going to a foreign exchange school in Japan, so I decided to pay her a visit. (Of course she was in Japan. Why wouldn't she be?) I tagged around with her for a while, curious to hear what her Japanese sounded like, since I didn't remember her speaking any Japanese the whole time I knew her. I settled into one of her classes and sat down next to her, only to find that I was actually sitting next to Uffish Thought. Also, apparently the school was an American international school, so the whole class was conducted in English. I never got to hear either Genuine Draft or Uffish Thought speak any Japanese.

Clearly emblazoned in my mind when I awoke, however, was the thought, "What was I thinking? Why on earth would I want to serve a second mission?"

Dreams. What bizarre things we subject ourselves to every night.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

(untitled 139)

It has come to my attention that spring has sprung. So long, winter. Rear your hoary head no more. Spring is here to stay.

I've started walking places now. I was heading to a Happy Pirates show last night and decided that rather than driving, I would prefer to walk the ten or so blocks. It was a pleasant evening and I wanted to enjoy the breeze and the cool air. (I also wanted to enjoy the walk home with Genuine Draft, but we ended up taking a detour to the hospital cafe and drove home with Thirdmango. Ah well.) Part of the reason I wanted to walk had to do with a piece on NPR I was listening to about mass transit and protecting the environment, but I think that most of it had to do with the overwhelming pleasantness of the evening. Winter has definitely left us. If nothing else, you can see it in the trees. Blossoms are slowly peeking out of the skeletal trees lining the streets, adding a rainbow of color to the neighborhood. I was worried that the late snow we had last week was going to kill off the fledgling blossoms, but, almost phoenix-like, they came back and are now flourishing.

I'm wearing my sandals again. I reserve my sandals for the summer, usually, but I can make allowances for the spring. There's just something about the feeling of wind between your toes that makes you feel like a million bucks. It's liberating. It's the same feeling that I have when I wear shorts, but I don't think I plan on subjecting the world to my ivory legs for at least a month or so.

During the spring and summer, when I'm out of school, I make a point of going to the library and checking out dozens of books at a time to make an effort to culture myself. I went to the library for the first time this year yesterday (well, at least the first time this year to check out books; I checked out a couple of Rocky movies a few weeks ago) and picked up four books for myself. There's just something about reading that I adore. I love having a book and time to take for myself. That's part of the mystique of spring for me. I read close to fifty books last summer and felt great. With only four books, I still have a long way to go yet, but I'm off to a good start. Once I get out of classes and other obligations, I'll be able to read even more. It's going to be great. I'm starting with Voltaire's Candide, and it's been hilarious so far. Having never read it before yet talked about it all the time as a historian, I felt a need to take a look at it. I love it. If you haven't read it yet, you really ought to make a point of it.

The one drawback to the new season that I can think of is the overwhelming odor of flowers. A few flowers are nice. I like smelling flowers here and there. It's pleasant. What I don't care for is walking around feeling as though a burly Scotsman is ramming begonias into my nasal cavity. I don't need the overwhelming stench of spring to remind me that winter is over. I could tell, thank you. So long as I stay away from the cavalcade of flowers that parade about on campus, I'm fine. In fact, locked here inside my living room cell, I can hardly tell that it's spring at all. It could still be February, as far as I know. I really ought to get outside and enjoy the day. Maybe I'll take my library books and read in the grass somewhere.

Then again, maybe I'll just take a shower and watch Jeopardy!