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Showing posts from January, 2012

The Hunger Games opened

I finished the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy about a week ago. A couple friends have been on me to read the books for several months, so I finally started.I rather like dystopian novels, after all. My favorite was Fahrenheit 451 (possibly ‘cause I’m such a book nerd). And 1984 (and its little-known predecessor, The Napoleon of Notting Hill) and Brave New World were both fascinating. Unfortunately I haven’t read Animal Farm, but never fear, I’ll get to it someday.What fascinates me so much is how each dystopian novel unnerves you by tugging at one seemingly innocuous tendency in modern society (or, at least, modern Western society) and stretching it to its logical conclusion. In Brave New World, for example (since that’s what I read most recently), the pursuit of happiness becomes elevated above all else. These novels explore how the world might end up if such-and-such a tendency were to persist and become the world’s defining characteristic over against contradictory tendenci…

Life on my own #18: Office politics (and The Sports Guy)

Office politics. Inescapable.I work next to The Sports Guy. He signs his e-mails that way. And you have to capitalize all those initial letters in The Sports Guy or else he’ll start honking his bike horn at you.Not the one on his bike, mind you. I’ve never seen him ride a bike. He keeps this bike horn at his desk, ready at hand whenever someone starts to tease him. Or just in case the traffic gets bad in the hallway.The Editor bought it for him on a whim and gave it to him during the Christmas gift exchange. She might be regretting that impulse buy. Remember, kids, just because it’s loud and oddly shaped, doesn’t mean it’s the perfect gift.The Sports Guy, including his capital letters, is highly childish. He once crammed about 26 Tootsie Rolls into his mouth just to see how many would fit. And he was surprised to find out that his jaw hurt afterward. Before he was bequeathed the noisy bike horn, he kept a strange-looking Big Bird rubber toy at his desk, and would occasionally squeeze …

RS, meet marijuana.

Early this month I had a novel experience. Marijuana stung my eyes.Innocent that I am, I’ve never seen someone so much as smoking marijuana, let alone growing it. Or at least, I’m not aware that I have. But to judge from the pictures I’d seen, it looked like either poison ivy or buckeye leaves. (That’s why some people joke that Ohio State University has marijuana in its emblems.)And then, I was sitting at my news reporter’s desk being all reporter-y. The chief of police in my town called up a little before my lunchtime, rather randomly I had thought at first, and asked if I had a minute to come take a picture. He could hardly disguise his glee—they’d found an in-home grow, he said. I wasn’t sure, but I thought that meant marijuana.I walked in the police station and the chief met me at the vestibule. Then, leading me down a short corridor, he began to descend a stairway. As I neared the stairway I could smell something.It reminded me of spearmint. You know how, if you have a huge clump…

Compendium of Links #24 (Ed-Tech edition)

I didn’t expect to have a bunch of links to read this week. After all, I didn’t even have internet access at the library for most of it. But today’s catch-up day, and I can’t resist the allure of these links about… education and technology.Why you should postpone college—Amen and amen! Written by somebody at Forbes who forgot to add that summer jobs could just as easily serve his purpose of “grownup training,” avoiding the necessity of a two-year gap between high school graduation and one’s freshman year at college.You can’t afford Apple’s education revolution—yet. I.e., i-Texbooks sound awesome at fifteen bucks a pop (compared to fifty at the used bookstore), but there are some caveats—like the cost of the device itself. (I’m not going to spend my extra $500 on it. When my current laptop poops out, I’m buying a real Mac, with InDesign and Photoshop and possibly Quark if I can afford it.) And for the record, I’m writing an article right now on the bunches of iPads the local school dis…

Dependence on the library

I was all set Tuesday afternoon to walk over to the library after I got off work. (The perks of working in a newspaper: you’re downtown, where you’re also most likely to find the local Carnegie library.) But alas and alack, they closed early that day.My library doesn’t normally do that.Seems their server had crashed. They were going to reopen the next afternoon… except that they found another problem. Then they were going to reopen Thursday afternoon. Didn’t happen; the server problems mounted. Thursday night was a no-go, too.They finally said they’d reopen today, Friday, and extended extra time for everybody who had stuff due that they couldn’t return. (Or rather, that the computer couldn’t recognize as returned. Because it was, in fact, laid up for the duration.)And you know where I access the internet for fun? Yep, at the library.I spent Tuesday night watching a movie instead of goofing off on my laptop at the library, even though I’d already watched said movie over the weekend. Oh…

If my dumbphone could speak…

Smartphoner picks up phone. Smartphoner speaks to phone: Where's the closest gas station? Phone: That is an unintelligible statement. Smartphoner: What's so unintelligible about it? Phone: That is an unintelligible statement. Smartphoner: It's not a statement, it's a question. Phone: That is an unintelligible statement, you idiot. Smartphoner: *sigh* Where can I buy gas? Phone: You are able to buy gas at any gas station. Smartphoner: I know that. Where's the closest gas station? Phone: That is another unintelligible statement. Smartphoner: What's so unintelligible about it? *speaks loudly and distinctly* where is the closest gas station? Phone: Your question contains no frame of reference. Smartphoner: Well at least it's intelligible. Which gas station is closest to me? Phone: Your question contains no frame of reference. Smartphoner: Closest to me, I said. Where's the closest gas station? Phone: That is an unintelligible statement. Sma…

Life on my own #17: Magazine subscriptions

I got my very first issue of The Atlantic in the mail this week! It was a pleasant surprise to find it in my quaint black mailbox when I got home from work. I wonder what the mailman thought about it?Funny thing about magazines—you can get your first very own issue, complete with your name stamped on it like a monogram, while still having read the thing for years. Me, I grew up with Dad’s extraneous copies lying around, simply begging me to turn to Barbara Wallraff’s wordsmithing column just inside the back cover. That tells you how long ago I got hooked. She hasn’t written that dual column for, oh, six years at least? Very likely more. And even those copies of Dad’s were actually refugees from the library, some of them with “discard” marked on ‘em. My parents were (are) cheap like that.Alas, my local library hadn’t the forethought to order a subscription when it found out I’d be moving to town. Thus I’ve been bereft of the fond pastime of reading the thing since I graduated from coll…

Compendium of Links #23

I just spend an overnight with my college roommate and a mutual friend back at college. (Our mutual friend is a senior this year.) That was the first time I’ve been back when there were actually classes going on… I went a couple times over the summer to get the yearbook finished up, but I don’t really count those visits since I stayed in the Mac lab the whole time.It was weird to be back, and yet it felt very comfortable. I even knew a lot of people there, mostly fifth-year seniors but several students who were a year or two behind me.Anyhow. A small collection of the links I’ve found in the past couple of weeks:“If I Were a Poor Black Kid” by Megan McArdle over at The Atlantic—this was an interesting essay drawing on sociological research into why poor people are, and stay, poor. Apparently some of the cultural stuff is different. Which may be why education isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem, but in some cases it can help.Another bit from The Atlantic warns people to take i…