Hello. I took December off. Didja miss me?

     I’d like to start out what promises to be a mammoth entry by ranting and raving about school for a bit. Somehow I managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory in the last few weeks of the semester. Now, a less informed person might blame this feat on the fact that I was ridiulously busy this semester, but that had nothing to do with my current scholastic problems.

     First, to give you an idea of what sort of problems I’m talking about I’ll bore the fuck out of you by explaining the classes I took this past semester. Then to make things interesting (Actually no, it probably still won’t be interesting), I’ll list the grade I would deserve if any of these professors actually stuck to their own grading scales, then predict the grade I’ll actually get. You see, engineering professors (At WSU at least) are notorious for instituting absolutely ridiculous curves after giving you mind-bendingly impossible exams. This practice, augmented by WSU’s policy of not mailing grades for the Fall semester until the Winter semester has already begun makes for a very high engineering-student-to-ulcer ratio.

Technichal Writing 2 (ENG 3060)

     My professor for this class was an older man who spoke in that salty sea captain voice that many older men develop. He would best be described as “eccentric.” To give you a rough idea of what I’m talking about, here is a list of things he actually said in class, transcribed verbatim from my notes (Remember to imagine these things in the salty sea captain voice. It’s funnier):

“I am the father of countless children, none of whom I’ll ever see.”

“Hairpins fucking Work.”

“I don’t have any of those upscale japanese erasers.”

“We played a game called ‘Who has the oldest money?'”

“When I was in the Seminary we used to have flatulance contests.”

“Have you ever worked with such an asshole as me?”

“I’m not gonna do anything shitty.”

“I live out here in the hood, so I hate cops.”

“I often wonder, when I go to hell, will they crisp me from toe up or top down?”

“Who laughed?! We don’t do that in America. We save ourselves for the big battles. You can’t grin in the infantry.”

“When you’ve had all this shit come down the pipe you’re gonna respond the same as any other shiteater.”

“Slap the hell out of them, then thank them for bleeding in a way that doesn’t get it on the carpet.”

“Food should be consumed in a private room by yourself. Then food would be better than sex, because you need someone else for sex. At least if you’re going to heaven you do.”

“Professional and to the point?! It SUCKS!”

“Ceaser is bisexual, as every good general should be. That’s how you control the troops.”

“I was an attendant at a hospital. I was good at it so i was a medic in the army. So I wiped some MORE asses.”

“You understand that I’m not in DIRECT contact with the archangel Gabriel.”

     Ok. That said, he knew what he was doing, and he was more than fair to everyone. No complaints here.

Estimated deserved grade: B+
Estimated actual grade: B+/A-

Linear Signals

     This guy was an asshole. The book he likes to teach from went out of print a few years back so he recommended that the university require us to buy a $100+ book. We never used the book we bought, despite the fact that he had instructed us that it was required. He taught from the old book, in which the chapters, order, methods and examples were all just different enough to make our book useless. Also: He refused to make copies of the relevant chapters from the old book for us. We ended up spending more time waiting for the one copy of the old book in our library to become available than learning.

     His greatest joy in life seemed to come from introducing new material ON EXAMS. To top everything off, his final exam consisted of four questions. Two of these questions (ie 50% of the final exam) were based on a “Special Case” type of problem that he did ONE example of in lecture. This sort of problem was never mentioned again on any homework assignment, exam, or review sheet. If I saw you at that Detroit Contemporary RSB show a few Tuesdays ago and I looked like someone had just punched me in the face a few hundred times, it was because I had literally *just* finished this exam.

Estimated deserved grade: D
Estimated actual grade: C+/B-

Ethics in the Workplace

     No complaints here… this guy was pretty..well, ethical.

Estimated deserved grade: A-
Estimated actual grade: A-/A

Computational Methods in Engineering

     This class is every bit as dull as it sounds. Imagine if you will, a very repetitive and pointless task. Now take that task, and enlarge it to the largest possible magnitude. The resulting monstrosity would be any given assignment in this class. The focus is on ridiculously overcomplicated ways of solving things that your calculator can already do for you. The professor lets you use A LAPTOP WITH EXCEL on exams so you can show how you got your answer, but just trusting your calculator: no good. Additionally, his lectures use Powerpoint exclusively (If you are a teacher, please for the love of god NEVER use powerpoint. It’s a CRUTCH, and people don’t learn from it, ESPECIALLY if you use it for math).

      I took the class last fall, but took an incomplete because I was a bit overwhelmed when returning for finals after my brother’s accident. This was the last semester I could still make up the incomplete work and still get credit for the class, so I sat in on the professor’s lectures all semester. I made up the one quiz and homework assignment I missed, and asked when he wanted me to take the final. He asked if I could make it to the final with his current class and i agreed to be there.

     Thing is: I overslept. The final began at 10:40 AM and I woke up at 10:50 AM. So I sped down to Detroit and ran all the way across campus and entered the room halfway through the exam. I explained to the professor that I was the student who had been making up the incomplete, and asked if I could have some extra time and / or take a different exam. Naturally he wasn’t having any of that, so I set to work attempting to solve A RIDICULOUSLY HARD two hour exam in one hour, the catch being that this professor stipulates that students have to get 50% on the final or else they don’t pass, no matter how good their grade is. After he calls time, a girl a few rows in front of me starts CRYING. So depending on whether I achieved 50% in that hour or not, I either passed the class with a B or failed outright, all because I overslept one freaking day. The prospect of sitting through this guy’s powerpoint lectures a third time is not a pleasant one.

Estimated deserved grade: B- or E
Estimated actual grade: B-

     In conclusion, I’d just like to say that I’ve adopted a new philosophy on college. This new philosphy comes from comedic genius Jack Black, via a commercial for the forthcoming “Orange County.” You can download an audio clip of this philosophy (In MP3 format) here.

Magazines that are actually worth paying for:

  • Readymade: The first issue should be in all the larger chain stores now. It’s sort of like an artsy do it yourself magazine for poor twentysomethings. Notable articles in the first issue include pieces by Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve writer/artist), and Neal Pollack (McSweeney’s Contributor), but the whole thing is good.

  • Chunklet #16: Best magazine ever. Includes the hilarious shitlist, in which bands are alphabetically given what-for (Example: “My Bloody Valentine [1991]: Like standing in front of a jet engine. The loudest thing ever. Anybody who says they enjoyed this is lying.”), and the best no-holds barred tour diary ever, chronicling the last days of Don Caballero. A months worth of interesting reading.

     Did you know they made Simpsons breakfast cereals for a little while? I didn’t either until I found some discounted a few weeks back. Check it:


     The very best part about these cereals is the fact that on Homer’s, he is so happy to have donuts that he is crying. So great.

Two-second reviews of completely unrelated things:

  • Vanilla Sky: Take the money you were going to spend on seeing this, buy the soundtrack (Which is exemplary as far as hollywood soundtracks go, but they left off some of the best music used in the film) and listen to it in the dark for 3 hours. Twelve times as interesting.

  • The Strokes (live): Like listening to the album, only louder and smokier. Roughly the same level of animation from the music source. But check out the B-side “When it Started.” Good.

Four things about ads:

  • All the postal trucks in our area have recently been covered in gigantic Microsoft ads on both sides. What the hell is that? Since when does the post office offer advertising?

  • You know how sometimes people go door to door hanging ads on your doorknob in little plastic bags? Well that happened to me today, and the bag says “ADS” on it. How stupid is that? Do they really think people are going to see this opaque bag hanging on their doorknob and think “Oh! ADS! Hot Damn!”
  • Just a few minutes ago I saw a commercial that had Portishead’s “Roads” playing in the background. It was one of those sports commercials where you can’t even tell what the hell they’re advertising. Again: what the hell is that? The only way this is acceptable is if Portishead took that money and is finishing that new album they’ve supposedly been making (Update: I’m told that the commercial is for Nike and / or Michael Jordan).
  • If you happen to be lobbying for funding for time machine research, My collegue Zach Curd and I have come up with a slogan you can use to gain grassroots support, free of charge. Here ’tis: “Time Machines: We Need ‘Em.” You’re welcome. On the off chance that you’re NOT lobbying for funding for time machine research, you can say this whenever you and/or any number of those you count among your “Pals” (also:”Buds”) does something stupid.

     I had the weakest case of the hiccups EVER this past week. It lasted all of two hiccups. One less Hiccup, and I wouldn’t have had the Hiccups, I would have had the Hiccup. Lame.

     Hey you don’t happen to have the ability to read the writing on the keychain pictured below, do you? A friend of mine found it and wants to know what it says. Any takers?

     So one of my coworkers also has a tivo and we typically compare notes on all the crazy upgrades they’ve been throwing around. Recently there was this annoying lexus ad thingy that popped up when you’d turn it on. We had previously discussed this. So one day at work the following exchange takes place:

Him: Hey Adam, that thing went away for me.

Adam: Yeah, me too.

…which would have been fine if there hadn’t been another coworker standing there with us to look at us funny. Har!

Fun with Instant Messenger:

Chris H: did everybody look at their hands?

Adam: ?

Chris H: I was quoting men without hats

Adam: oh

Adam: ha

Chris H: they really need to get back together

Chris H: I think it would really repair the hole left in our hearts from the WTC

Adam: ha I agree.

Chris H: plus if everyone was doing the safety dance the world would be.. well.. safer.

Adam: Your logic is irrefutable.

Chris H: aye

     Black Books is a mediocre british sitcom that is currently airing on Comedy Central in the wee hours. The good thing is it’s set in a bookshop, so it echoes many of my own complaints. Some audio samples for your listening pleasure: Mellow, Morning, and Bastard.

Anonymous mail I recieved:

     “umm you dont know me but my my friend has the same last name as you and i know you will think this is so stupid but i just think some people have the same last name. dont you think that is amazing.”

Yes. Amazing.

My friend Ryan A. saw that new indie rock supergroup Zwan (Corgan / Pajo / Sweeney / Chamberlain) this past month. Here is his review:

     “…also, i saw Zwan tonight (the new billy corgan band) and it was somewhat surprising and almost impressive… they were sort of like a more melodic Will Oldham-ish Americana/Folk thing, with this really strange Negro-hymnish undertone type thing going on… i’m not even joking… the whole set was done acoustic, with Dave Pajo (slint/papa m) primarily playing 12 string guitar, Billy singing and playing an aray of extremley expensive acoustic guitars (with the exception of a Gretch hollow body on one song, the only song he stood up to play), Matt Sweeney (chavez/bonnie prince billy) playing electric guitar (with the tone set perfectly for that warm bluesy sound), and Jimmy Chamberlain playing very minimalistic and wearing a Hawaiian shirt… Billy was actually very funny, saying to a guy who kept yelling out “drum solo!” that, “Jimmy will give you 20 dollars if you shut the fuck up” then “jimmy will let you give him a blow job after the show”… at the end of the set (after they played their most pumpkins-esque song, called “broken heart” i think) billy led the band in an impromptu song called “chicks get in the way”… his best line was something like “hey, i’m not gay, but chicks really get in the way”… it was really fucking strange… billy involved the audience on a few songs, leading some hand claps, and doing a sort of call and response blues thing that was sort of insane, but kind of endearing… besides that craziness (and the Iron Maiden cover that sweeney sang), the songs were really soulful (i know… i know… dumb) and sad, but played in a really honest and jovial way… it was something to see anyway…”

Barnes & Noble stories:

     It’s been a relatively slow holiday for insane people at Barnes & Noble. Nonetheless, there have been a few notable cases.

Scene: Interior, Barnes & Noble Men’s Room.

Adam: (Enters, walks towards “fixtures”)

Old Creepy Guy: Excuse me, but would you mind taking my picture?

Adam: Um… (cautiously) where do you want it taken?

Old Creepy Guy: In here.

Adam: Um, I guess I could.

Old Creepy Guy: (Hands Adam his camera, and backs up against the wall. Also: Smiles.)

Adam: (Takes picture.)

Old Creepy Guy: Retrieves camera and leaves without saying a word.

     Phrase uttered by college student to his friend in reference to O(U?)sama Bin Laden on cover of Newsweek: “Dude, it sucks for that Dude, Dude.”

     So this woman comes through the checkout with one of those cellphones that has a speaker phone option. And it’s stuck on. So as this woman is paying, one of her friends calls her up and doesn’t realize the situation with the cell phone. The conversation turns to some sort of situation involving one of them scrutinizing a photocopy of the other’s ass at work or something. The woman at B&N immediately stops talking hoping her friend will shut the fuck up, but instead the friend seems to misconstrue the silence as a reception problem and loudly repeats herself.

Scene: Calling a customer.

Me: (Waiting for an answer)….

Them: (picks up, then immediately:) GRAMMA!

Me:… Um. This is Barnes & Noble

Them: YOU’RE NOT GRAMMA!

Me: …No. Is your mom there?

Them: NOPE!

Me: Can I leave a message?

Them: NOPE!

Me: Uh.. ok. Bye.

THEM: I LOVE YOU!

(Both hang up)

     While in the middle of a transaction, an elderly man unbuckled his belt, adjusted and yanked up his trousers, and re-buckled his belt while looking directly at me. Creepy.

Scene: Answering the phone.

Me: Hello, Barnes & Noble, this is Adam, can I help you?

Them: Is This Barnes & Noble?

Me: Yes it is…

Them: What’s your phone number?

Me: Excuse me?

Them: Can you give me your phone number there?

Me: (gives number).

Them: Okay, thanks. *click*

     A foreign man and his young son are in line to buy a relatively expensive Thomas the Tank Engine Train set. Figure about fifty bucks. He approaches the counter and produces a gallon-sized ziplock bag filled with change. As the cashier eyes it in an “I don’t want to count that” manner, the man holds it out to him and says very emphatically in a thick european accent: “FROM A PIG!”
     He meant that the change came from his son’s piggy bank. This experience has scarred me and the scar is this: I will never again be able to see any quantity of loose change without thinking “FROM A PIG!” again.

Total number of people who tried to have me redeem a Borders Gift Card on the day after Christmas: 5

Number of these people who not-so-silently conspired with their significant other while remaining oblivious to the fact that I was watching him dismissively whisper “He’ll never notice,” which only made the task of refusing the card slightly more enjoyable (Yes sir, you’re absolutely right. I work at a bookstore, but lack the knowledge to discern the differences between the phrases “Borders” and “Barnes & Noble” in print. Additionally, the fact that they are ELECTRONIC gift cards should not prevent your redeeming the Borders card either, as we all know that all computer systems function identically and are 100% compatible with each other.): 1

Number of times this guy said “C’mon can’t you do something for me?” after I refused his card: 1

Overheard in class:

     (In reference to a particularly strict engineering professor, who marks down if you don’t use the exact same notation as he does, even if the problem is correct.) “It’s his way or the highway. Like Limp Bizkit.”

Things not to do:

1.) Don’t ever obliviously go to Ann Arbor on the day of the U of M / Ohio State game.

2.) Also, don’t try to drive home from Ann Arbor after this game.

3.) Especially if U of M lost.

In case you accidentally do these three things, you should proceed in the following manner:

1.) Make sure you have a cell phone.

2.) Watch as 50 year old men who have more school spirit than you will ever have in your life refuse to let you in for two hours. Note that many of these men probably didn’t even GO to this school.

3.) Play the “Call everyone whose number I have stored in my cellphone’s memory in alphabetical order” game.

4.) For the first few minutes of each call, just make random small talk, as though there is no real point to your call. This really creeps people out.

Two recommendations:

  • If you want to hear Sloan circa 1991 mangle some Smiths songs, click here.

  • If you like oldies and high pitched pop, you might really like the rants. I do.

     Many MST3K afficionados would agree that “Manos: The Hands of Fate” is one of the best episodes of the series. Here‘s a good interview with someone who was involved in the production of the film. Turns out the actor that played the movie’s monster, “Torgo” took his own life shortly after making his big screen debut.

Some interesting Beatles-related stuff:

  • This “I am Sam” movie looks pretty good, and the soundtrack looks even better (Well, some of it). Click here for an interesting (To me, at least) article about the Beatles’ role in the film and the shady nature of soundtrack rights. No wonder Smash Mouth is in every fucking movie ever. They must be GAZILLIONAIRES.
  • A good discussion of the folklore that “Beacuse” from Abbey Road is actually just Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata backwards can be found here. An even more involved and infinately dorkier discussion of a decidedly more musical bent can be found here.

     I was recently informed that my friend Dan Clark sings a totally bizzarre second verse to “Happy Birthday,” and has since he was a child. I asked Dan how this second verse went, and he replied:

     “Yeah, seriously, i’d always thought that was the real second verse… turns out the nanny of my two great uncles sam and hal wrote that verse a long time back, and it’s been a family tradition. Here it is:

they say that our (name), he ain’t got no style
got style all the while
got style all the while
they say that our (name), he ain’t got no style
got style all the while, all the while
ain’t he sweet, haha, neat, haha
handsome and fair
he’s a jim-dandy the girls all declare
he’s a high-rolling, rollicking swell
here’s to our (name), now don’t he look well

…and of course pronouns and the word “girls” may be switched for a female’s
birthday.”

     Awesome. If you ever run into Dan Clark, ask him to sing it for you, because Dan Clark loves singing things to people. Also: If you have any other crazy birthday song variants that don’t deal with monkeys, zoos, age inquiries or pinching, I’d like to hear about them.

Bonus Completely unrelated links:

     In today’s cutthroat internet climate, I figured this site just couldn’t compete without having a fun quiz that gives results you can plaster all over your livejournals and / or diaries. Here it is (Update: It has come to my attention that lots of people don’t “get” this joke. Go to livejournal.com and visit a few member pages and you should get the idea [2nd update! it’s already causing all sorts of havoc! Hooray!]).