Sunday, July 31, 2005


A little proof for the doubters out there. This is the USGS marker at the very top. Posted by Picasa

The peak. Most of the mountains in the background are in Colorado. Posted by Picasa

Me at the peak.The trail started in that little slot above my left ear where the woods and rocks meet. Posted by Picasa

At the peak, looking north. That's Elk Mountain. Posted by Picasa

A little higher. Still a long ways to go. Posted by Picasa

Looking at the ridge from the .9 mile marker. Still another 1,000 ft. and 2.6 miles to the peak. . .  Posted by Picasa

As your body grows bigger / Your mind must flower / It's great to learn / 'Cuz knowledge is power! / It's Schoolhouse Rocky / A chip off the block / Of your favorite schoolhouse / Schoolhouse Rock! Posted by Picasa

From the Mirror Lake trailhead the trail gains about 1,000 ft. of elevation in less than a mile. This is at the .9 mi. mark, looking east. Laramie is over the horizon at center somewhere. Posted by Picasa

Willie, this is looking towards your neck of the woods. I realize you can't tell from this picture, but the snowy mountains just behind the tree are the range through which Rabbit Ears Pass cuts. I think one of those smaller lumps is probably Hahn's Peak. Posted by Picasa

Me at Libby Flats. Medicine Bow Peak is the slightly higher lump right of center (almost directly above my left shoulder). Posted by Picasa

Medicine Bow Peak

Three friends and I hiked Medicine Bow Peak yesterday. I still think it's longer than 3.5 miles, but I'll skip the long-winded trip report and just post some pictures instead. Although I will say that first 1.5 miles of that hike is remarkably brutal for a non-technical trail.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Did We Say 'One Iraqi Man Who Preferred Not to be Identified?' Because We Meant 'A U.S. Army PR Sergeant.'"

And we should mention, just for the record, that we're about to get all Code Red on his ass for this little fuckup.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Idle Hands III: Smell This Pillow

I've mentioned previously that I enjoy pranking people. For about a week now we've had a random set of linens sitting on the lobby counter, and a few days ago as I leaned over the counter I smelled something really bad.

I sniffed at the sheet, tentatively and from a very safe distance. Nothing. The blanket? Nothing. The pillow?

Oh. . . My . . . God. I'm not exactly sure how a pillow could come to smell like a combination of death, gas, and the breath of someone who doesn't floss, but it did. This smell had a force and presence to it; I literally had to take a step back and bat at my nose like a cat who just stuck its face in something really awful. To quote Fat Bastard, "Even Stink would say 'that stinks.'"

And of course that got me thinking. What's the easiest way to get fellow RAs, debate campers, and other hall guests to smell a nasty pillow? Why, just ask them to, of course.

So I made a little trifold sign that said, "Smell this pillow" and set it on the pillow. Only two people - both teenagers - fell for it before someone came and picked up the linens to be washed.

You Know That Scene in "The Year of Living Dangerously" Where Mel Gibson Naps at the Mansion and Dreams About the Hot Chick Who Drowns Him?

That's what it's like to sleep in my room: hotter than hell. So hot it gives you bad dreams. Hot and lately, filled with bugs. So I had to close my window, which makes it hotter.

Two . . . weeks . . . left . . . in Downey . . .

Things Are Just Not Going My Way

One has to lower one's standards when dealing with debate camp. You can't expect them, for example, to be asleep at four in the morning. Nor can you expect them to take noise complaints seriously. Nor can you expect them to use their swipecards to enter the building, which means they have to buzz in - a very loud and very obnoxious buzzer goes off when that happens, and I have to get up to hit the unlock button. On busy days it feels Pavlovian.

And today is not just a busy day, but a long one. Debate is leaving today, thank Christ, but I'm working the desk from 6am to 6pm today and 10am to 10pm tomorrow due to a comepletely fucked up schedule. Long story short, I'm working two 12 hour shifts this weekend, and I'm not happy about it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

What Post?

Some of you may have seen a post earlier about an experience at an elementary school. I took it down, due to concerns I've mentioned previously. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From the "One of the Dumbest Fucking Things You Can Do as a Teacher" Department

I haven't even stepped foot in a classroom, but I know not to do this. Granted, this is higher education and the student's name wasn't posted, but still . . . c'mon, man, use your head.

But while I'm on the topic. . .

This brings up a subject that I've been meaning to broach for a while now, Dearest Readership.

[Insert dramatic sigh here]

This blog will soon be no more. Oh, it might still be accessible on the Internet, sure, but I won't be posting to it much longer. The main reason is that once I head into the public school classroom in any capacity (I won't do student teaching until spring but will be observing before then), I will no longer be comfortable writing about my life in such a public forum. High school kids are crafty little devils, and it might make for an uncomfortable situation if at some point I'm trying to teach about, say, transcendentalism and one of my students asks, "So, Mr. P., what's this I hear about your curse?"

Will I start another, completely anonymous blog? Eah. Maybe. Will I tell you how to find that blog? Probably. But not here (I'll ensure you have a way to contact me when the time comes), and there will be many rules about linking to my new blog and/or referring to me by name anywhere on the Internet.

The Funny Post About Michael Berube

Okay, so it's not exactly about Michael Berube, but it's still funny. First a little background.

In my two years at the University of Illinois, from the fall of 1994 to graduation in spring of 1996, I more or less fell in love with no fewer than 5 women. Now, when I say I "fell in love" with these women, I mean that I found them physically attractive and they were smarter than hell... and that combination is usually enough. The mid-90's, if you'll recall, was just about the height of the whole retro look, so many women were wearing funky outfits from every decade of C20. In the fall of 1994 I took an Intro to Film class, and besides being totally smitten by the GA, I also developed a huge crush on this young woman who sat next to me. I mean, Christ, she wore flapper outfits all the time. It's hard not to like a woman in a flapper outfit.

One night early that year I was hanging out in Murphy's and she was there with a group of friends. This was back when Murphy's was populated by graduate students and English majors, before they expanded and lit the place up, and before it was overrun by Greeks. My friends were kneedeep in Guiness and I was three sheets to the wind on - oh how very appropos - Cutty Sark, neat. One of my good friends also vaguely knew this young woman, and towards the end of the night as she headed up to the bar she patted our heads duck-duck-goose style on her way past us.

I said to my friend something like, "Oh my god, I really think I'm in love with her."

"Dyke," he said.

"What?"

"She doesn't like your penis. Sorry."

And that night in Murphy's Pub marked the beginning of an odd and recurring phenomenon in which I fall in love with a woman and then find out, either immediately or eventually, that she's a lesbian. I have come to refer to this phenomenon as The Curse, and it has struck many times since. Which brings me to Michael Berube for two reasons.

For one thing, the last time The Curse struck in Champaign was in his Modern American Literature class in the spring of 1996. I can't remember the young woman's name who sat next to me, but I can remember very clearly the feeling of my heart getting crushed when I saw her kissing another woman on the quad late one night. In fact, it felt remarkably like my heart was getting ground under the heel of a big black Doc Marten boot.

The other Berube connection is why I'm writing today. About five years ago I somehow found out he'd moved on to Penn State and emailed him one of those "Hey you probably don't remember me but I was in your class... here's what I'm doing now but am thinking of quitting (Amazon was just starting to get bad at that point) . . . do you have any advice, etc." emails. Dude writes back. Totally remembers me and taunts me for liking the Detroit Red Wings.

So after a few years of not emailing him again, about a year ago I did a Google search and found his website. If you haven't checked out his site, do so RIGHT FUCKING NOW. Surf around. Check out the archives. I simply can't believe how smart the guy is, not to mention prolific. His posts about critical theory are especially impressive, and as intimidating as they are, are also fantastically reassuring to me that I'm not entering an English PhD program. No sirree, the high school classroom is the place for me.

But alas, whenever I read Michael's posts and subsequent comments, I have this really strong urge to post a comment of my own. A small part of this is ego - them's some smart goddamn people that read and comment at Michael's site, and I want to be considered a smart goddamn person too. The problem (no, a better word here is "curse") is that every time I post a comment over on Michael's site, I make a typo or other error of some kind. And when you're trying to hang with English PhDs, it's best to not make grammatical errors.

And I'm not just talking misplaced apostrophes. I'm talking dumbass typos, and in the worst possible case, misspelling authors' names. Granted, not everyone will get "Alasdair Gray" right the first time. But almost everyone will get it right the second time, unless they are me.

Funny stuff, but I think this last typo episode marks the last time I will ever comment on Michael's site.

Two Blogs

So, I'm sitting here working the lobby desk - although I use the term "working" very loosely here - and surfing around the blogosphere. Lo and behold, it's one of those days when I randomly come across blogs that are not just well-written but also just goddamn smart. I think I found one of them via my main man Michael Berube (funny post about Michael Berube impending) and the other one, well, I have no idea. You know how surfing goes.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

And People Don't Understand Why I Randomly Laugh To Myself Sometimes

Picture this: an ESL student from Japan, whose English is still very, very, VERY much his second language, sits on a lobby sofa. Across from him, a person from the ESL office expounds at great length on the difference between K-Mart and Wal-Mart.

Someday I Won't Live in a Residence Hall Anymore

I haven't been sleeping well all summer. I've narrowed the reasons down to three sources: a rickety bunk bed from the Ford administration (whenever I climb up to bed I feel the whole thing shake, and the feeling that your bed might collapse is not exactly an ideal sleeping environment); my room this summer looks out over Grand Avenue, Laramie's busiest street, and at any given moment there are three or four diesel duellie pickups racing (I'm thoroughly convinced that the size of a man's tires is inversely proportional to the size of his penis); and worse, my window faces south – it's just plain goddamn hot in there.

Wow. That's one sentence.

Anyway, so I haven't been sleeping well at all this summer, but Thursday night was the topper. I covered someone's shift from 10pm until 2am Friday morning, and at 5am the cops knocked on my door.

"You're an RA, right?" one of them asked. He's a good guy, funny as hell, and when you're an RA it pays to make nicey-nice with the cops. So while a part of me was instantly curious and intuitively helpful, another part of me wasn't cool with being woken up at 5 in the morning.

"Yeah," I said, bleary.

"Come here for a second. You won't believe this," he said. He had the kind of bemused grin that's reserved for cops, medical professionals, and teachers.

He led me to a "study room" on my floor, which is basically a ten by six room sectioned off from the lobby. Each study room has windows that look out on the small section of pavement and flower beds between Downey Hall and Washakie Cafeteria. He pointed his flashlight straight down.

"Look down there," he said.

Six floors below, in the middle of a flower bed, was a shattered window. Someone threw a fucking window out the window? Are you fucking kidding me?

"It came from right here," the cop said. He pointed to the now-empty window frame. Then he pointed at the ashes on the window ledge. "We think they were up here smoking and somehow either threw or knocked the window out."

Well, no shit. We'd had the biggest thunderstorm of the year earlier in the night, so the ashes happened sometime between 9pm Thursday and – Jesus, what time is it now?

"Okay," I said. "I might wait to write this one up until tomorrow, though," I said. Anytime a wise RA interacts with the cops – anytime at all – the wise RA will write up an incident report.

"You mean this morning," the cop said. "What time do you have to get up?"

"Six thirty."

"In an hour and a half? Have fun with this one."

So I was a little out of it on Friday in class, but caught a great nap that afternoon. Saturday I lounged around a great deal. Today I'm working from 2-10, but between a few projects and papers to be working on, I have plenty to do.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As Official As Can Be Until Spring

It's almost official: as of the start of my new class yesterday, I'm a grad student. I don't have to apply to the Graduate School until spring for some reason but the class will count toward graduate credit. It's called "The Art and Science of Teaching," and so far I'm really impressed with the instructor. He's a GA pursuing his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, the same field in which I'll eventually have my MA. He used to teach high school Spanish and is a pretty bright dude; like me, he worked in the corporate world for a few years before deciding to teach. And so far, this class is right up there with my Young Adult Literature class in terms of delivering useful, "real-world" scenario teaching tactics. Great stuff.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Nightmares for the Rest of My Life

Do not, under any circumstances, click here.

Apparently these are not Barbie dolls but real people. Which frankly scares the shit out of me. Big thanks, I guess, to Mary for sending me the link.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Camping

Friday afternoon I took off for Lander, where Chad lives. He and I had been planning a weekend, non-serious car-camping excursion practically all summer, and lucky for me (but luckier for him), his fiancee's family has land in the Owl Creek Mountains near Thermopolis. It's just over 3 hours to Lander and the drive can be brutal - giant rolling hills with a 75mph speed limit, semis, tourists in RVs, blazing sun, and of course, wind. Lots and lots of wind. I pulled into Lander with a screamer headache, but after taking a great drive up into Sinks Canyon and then dinner and beer at the Gannett Grill, I was feeling better. After a good night's sleep we finally loaded up and headed for Riverton, where Chad's fiancee lives.

We collected coolers, gear, and her dog and the three (well, four, counting the dog) of us headed for the rendezvous. Chad's fiancee's cousin and her husband met us at a predetermined spot, and we loaded all the gear into their pickup and put M and her dog in the back of Chad's Jeep. He was wise enough to predict that my truck wouldn't make it halfway to the property, and he was right. The dusty road rose out of low rocky foothills into high rockier ranchland. . . my truck definitely would have crapped out in many, many places. Chad's a hell of a technical driver, though, and after an hour of crawling down a two-track trail through scrub and sage, we finally got to the spot. It was hotter than hell, but gorgeous: a tiny creek running by a strand of cottonwoods (I think - Chad?), with 300 ft. valley walls rising above them.

From there it was more or less like any other car-camping experience, except that M's cousins' favorite thing to do is climb the valley walls, shovels in hand, and then pry gigantic granite boulders loose and watch them crash down the valley. It's called "trundling," and it's one hell of a good time.

After dinner and smores we headed into our respective tents. I got a few hours of sleep but then woke up sneezing due to some wicked allergy attack. I didn't get back to sleep, and when the sky first hinted at turning from starlit black to gray, I got out of my bag and climbed the nearest hill. I watched the sky for a bit, headed back to the tent, and caught one more hour of sleep before the other folks started waking up.

Breakfast consisted of coffee, eggs, bacon, toast (kind of - I just stuck some bread on a stick and held it over the fire), and pancakes. After just a little bit more exploring, we headed out.

The drive back to Laramie was much easier, thanks to a tailwind. I'm sitting here freshly showered - you should thank me for that - sipping a beer and watching a baseball game. At some point I really need to air out my bag and tent, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. I sense an early bedtime coming tonight.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Things That Go Boom

I had yesterday completely off - my only shifts are 2-10 on Sundays and Tuesdays, and class is over (until the new one starts this Monday). So basically I have a week off, and the 4th was a great start.

After sleeping in until 8, I cooked up some tasty French press coffee and watched ESPN for, like, a few hours. Then I went to the local driving range and got my mid-irons to work pretty well (and like I said in a previous post, anything past 1oo yards is "pretty well" by my standards).

After that, my fishing buddy, A, and his girlfriend and fellow RA, K, and I had a little cookout with a propane grill. Hotdogs, chips, soda - and then we watched Those Goddamn New York Yankees beat up on the hapless Baltimore Orioles.

Back up to my room for a while, where I watched a Bond movie - can't remember which one, and they're all starting to blur together anyway. At dusk I snuck onto the 8th floor balcony, which is technically off-limits this summer.

Of course, the difference between "technically" and "really" off-limits comes down to how likely it is that I'll get caught, so I snuck out there with an Arturo Fuente (I always celebrate the end of a semester or class with a cigar). A few other RAs and summer students joined me, and as the northern sky faded through various pastels, we watched bottlerockets shoot like geysers above cottonwoods in Laramie's northern neighborhood. Some guys at the frat house right across the street fired off Roman candles, and sparks fell on their house. We RAs secretly (well, actually, not so secretly) hoped that the place would burn to the ground, because those guys are a total pain in the ass. Meanwhile, firecrackers popped in the distance.

As true darkness approached the first big fireworks went off, northeast of campus by the practice fields. Laramie has an impressive fireworks display every year and this was no different. From well over a mile away we could hear the crowds cheering.

Good stuff, even if I didn't get to light off my own this year.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Blogger is screwing me. New posts are simply replacing the most recent mosts, and the posts they replace aren't showing up in my "edit posts" tab.

Uh. Not cool.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I Got the Fever, redux

How very odd.

Yesterday I posted a couple of paragraphs about how I get hooked on golf every year at this time, and then the post just plain disappeared. Which would explain, hopefully, the title of the previous post.

I spent the morning hitting a few buckets at the local driving range. For the first outing of the year, I didn't swing too poorly. I got decent but not impressive distances, even by my low standards: the 6 iron was going about 130 yds, the 7 about 110-120, and the 8 just at 100. Mostly straight.

We won't discuss what happened when I unsheathed the 5 wood.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Rothfuss Joins the Crowd

Rothfuss is my best friend - we've known each other since junior high but weren't really friends until the last day of our sophomore year of high school. I have many, many, many stories about him, but for now just swing by his blog and check it out. Be sure to check out the pictures of his son Connor.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Great Moments in Film

A completely random selection of my favorite moments/scenes from movies:

In Boogie Nights, John C. Reilly's segue during Amber Waves' cinematic ode to Dirk. There's a guy in my class who goes off on tangents just exactly like that, and I struggle to keep from laughing out loud every time.

The tavern gunfight in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure, sure, the Germans are shooting MP-40s in 1936 (MP-40 stands for "machine-pistol 1940," roughly translated), but it's just such a fantastic action sequence that minor anachronisms can be excused.

In Rushmore, Bill Murray's facial expression when he learns the truth about Max's father. Quite possibly the strongest moment of Bill Murray's career.

The look on Dave's face in 2001: A Space Odyssey when HAL says "I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen." The look falls somewhere between "Busted" and "I'm going to kill that fucking computer."

The scene in Nobody's Fool when Paul Newman's grandson returns the prosthetic leg.

To be continued. . .