Monday, August 29, 2005

Day Eighty-Seven

LECTURE NOTES
Tomorrow I present to Hilary my readings for my lecture on September 22nd on the legacies of the Marxist tradition. I keep telling her that my knowledge of social theory is pretty limited, but she insists I know more than I think I do (ok...). When she pressed me for what theorist I knew the most about and could lecture on, I quickly claimed I knew a lot about Marx. Whom I think I do.

So today I polished up the list of readings I intend to subject the kiddies to. The only real restriction I had was to not top 50 pages, 'cause undergrads'z laaaazeee. So, I managed to do 59 pages of reading for them, bibliographies and charts inclusive, from Lenin, Mao, Gramsci, Polanyi, Wallerstein, and Erik Olin Wright. Hopefully I can turn that mess into a coherent mess come September 22nd.

Now, I have to scramble to put together a lecture on the legacies of Weber... But I think I know where I'm going with that one: C. Wright Mills, sociology's badass (he rode a motorcycle. Without a helmet).

IT TAKES A MESSAGE BOARD
Recently, the knee message board I read frequently (link's somewhere on the right side of the blog) has achieved a heated, and some would say a quite vituperrious tenor. A few days ago, "drmark" as he's known on the board, began posting responses to questions on the board. Usually the board consists of people recounting their rehab or injuries, asking questions of other injured people about their experiences. All in all, the board was very warm and very comforting. With drmark around, the attitude of the board changed significantly.

First, drmark posted all the time. Answering every post. Usually in a very informed, yet sort of blunt manner. He summed up his board presence after a few postings:

We are on the internet now and can be brutally honest with each other. I
guess its my personality. I like telling people what the [sic] want to hear, but
REALLY like telling people what they DON'T want to hear, especially when it [sic] the
TRUTH and is backed up by articles in publications such as the Journal of Sports
Medicine.

I guess my real goal is to educate people into knowing that they don't
have to spend the rest of their lives with some doctor's dumb busines [sic] card in
their wallet reminding them of their next appointment.

To those who continue to think I'm a flake, good luck to them and their
stiff knees, I no longer have any of them in my Houston, Texas practice.

I put my money where my mouth is so to speak. I am willing to speak to
any knee patient and post my website, email and cell phone. My goal is to
educate, even if I communicate a sometimes unconventional type of wisdom borne
from 25 years in this business

He added at the end, "Bring on the hate mail if you like. I will answer all of it." Certainly the most unconventional thing about drmark's post was that he was egging people on.

His posts would take some interesting turns. Sometimes, he'd be very defensive and academic. If he were challenged by any of the more knowledgeable of the board members, he'd whip out the academese. See this exchange between SueBW (who has been the "resident smaahty") and drmark starting here.

Other times, drmark was obviously making people feel very insecure about their current rehab and surgical decisions, usually by telling them they're wasting their time, that their chosen graft would fail, and that he offered the TRUTH (as he put it). Here's his take on the board in general, claiming in the title of this post that he could get you back at sports condition 3 months as opposed to the usual 6:

All I have concluded from reading these pages is that most patients and doctors
are in the dark ages with graft selection and rehab. Our guys get back to sports
at 3 months. We have not had any complications related to ACL reconstruction
such as early failure, or stiffness in years. None of our patients ever, right
ever [sic], use crutches.

He followed with a link to his clinic and gave "kudus" [sic] to his mentor DR. RON SHELBOURNE (the TRUTH!).

That post engendered this first response:

I think this has to be someone joking around. Nobody I know with medical
training would make such cutting remarks about their peers & patients in
this kind of forum, hand out their personal cell phone number, call themselves
something like "drmark" or use this style of language & grammar (your
average OS knows how to spell peripheral)

People were pretty darn skeptical of drmark, and partly because he never wrote very well. I asked him for some citations, but many were much more skeptical, just from his posts. Here's a response by the good dr after a reader pointed out his spelling errors:

Sorry for my grammar, I type fast and don't have spellcheck on these message
boards. The facts are the same whether you like them or not. If you continue to
have problems with your knee, you are the one that suffers. My patients do not.
Check out the website. To my knowledge there are no more spelling errors. If you
find one, email me.

Damn. drmark said facts are always right, and as much as you point out his spelling errors, the facts are STILL right. In other words, YOU'S WRONG, BITCH!

After a few posts between SueBW and drmark, one person wrote this to him:

I have read all the above posts with increasing mirth knowing that Sue BW
is the co-author of a huge number of the most important papers on the outcomes
of knee ligament surgery in one of the most highly regarded knee units in the
world.

Mark....her input to the board has been immensely helpful over the
years in particular to those of us with complex knee injuries. At the same time
she is very careful not to condemn peoples treatment without very good reason.
This is a board for support rather than creating feelings of insecurity and
there is often more than one way to deal with a knee problem. You only have to
look at changing reconstruction techniques over the last 20 years. It is also
quite hard emotionally, geographically, and sometimes financially to change a
knee surgeon.

Oh snap. But drmark had a comeback:

Thank you for your email. Sue's contribution to our collective knowlege has been
great. We spent the morning exchanging private email and in discussions that
maybe [sic] beyond the scope of this layperson's forum [emphasis
added!]

YOU'S DUMB, BITCH! After that off-handed putdown, drmark continued:


I am not asking people to send me their records and come to Houston for me to
treat them. Perhaps those that are insecure need to sit down with their doctors
and find out why their treatments are not going as they had thought.

Oh, but he was. Constantly claiming he had the TRUE way, hocking his site, his successes, and that sly, sly remark that the "insecure" should find out why "their treatments are not going as they had thought." It's funny because, again, the board usually was filled with people comisserating about their conditions, how long PT was taking, how frustrated they were, but no one told anyone to give up -- it was always a positive space for reinforcing a long and difficult recovery to full health.

drmark started to go a little crazy here and there. First, after calling out SueBW on her support of knee braces (he doesn't use them), he responded to a response that tried to metaphorically tie drmark's logic to the OJ Simpson trial (BIG mistake):

If you ask most people of Color, they will tell you that OJ was set up by the
LAPD, and they have known police to be doing that since Jim Crow. I [sic] you
ask a Caucasian, they respond like Michael [the previous poster]. The emotional
responses to this question mirror the debate about knee braces. A a Caucasian, I
do know that he was found not guilty. The state couldn't prove its case against
OJ or for knee braces

I don't recall the case People of California vs. Knee Braces. Granted, he was given the clay to work with on that one, but it was getting absurd.

Anyway, one poster DonJoy Braceman had had enough. drmark began to claim that there was some sort of conspiracy between the big business knee brace companies and the message board, and DonJoy Braceman came to the rescue:

If anyone should be criticizing the brace manufacturers, it should NOT be
you. All I see when I read your posts is a constant advertisement for you,
constant references to your website and a section of your site devoted to 'Out
of Town Patients'. Please, with a straight face, tell me you are not advertising
your services. At least, the brace resellers PAID to advertise on the Board.

Normally, I would have no beef with you self-promoting, but you simply
degrade what I and any other brace manufacturer provide to the industry. By
simply defining us as companies just trying to take your money, clearly shows
your arrogance. The fact is we are BOTH providing a service or a product for a
fee. You charge between $290 - 350 for a consultation. Not surgery, just a
consultation. To some that may seem like wasteful spending, you see at as your
business

He finished, "quit trying to play the Everyone is Corrupt Card [sic]." drmark has yet to respond.

Today, poster Ellen asked, "So, I go away for a couple of weeks and I come back and log in to find that the tenor of this board has completely changed. Is it just me or does anyone else want the old style back?"

Indeed Ellen, I certainly do. drmark was like an internet knee recovery message board neopopulist, attempting to generate a manichean distrust for "the man" while building himself up as the savior of all knees. "Kudus" to DonJoy Braceman for doing a little shut-up work on drmark (to be sure, drmark did make a couple other posts after that, but nothing responding to DonJoy Braceman).

Where drmark went wrong was his perhaps unintentional criticism of the gullibility of the average board poster/knee rehabber. You can't win over the people if you tell them they're stupid. Sure, you can tell them they've been deceived, but his attacks aren't nuanced enough.

The members of the board community are much more savvy than any average joe (and I would venture to guess, extreme motocross rider), probably because in the time it takes someone to undertake such a long recovery process, that person learns a lot about anatomy, physiology, and even sports psychology. When people like this come together, their collective knowledge is reinforced through shared experience -- a discursive community that would make Toqueville and Habermas proud. All the commiserating and support truly engendered a community of understanding and support, and really, of a single goal of the psychic and physical well-being of all the people on the board.

Where drmark failed was in his attempt to make value claims using everything but those that would lead to communicative action. drmark engaged in everything from "rational" pleas towards "strategic action" (I'm a doctor, I know better, go to my website), "dramaturgical" (I don't want you to come to Houston, etc.), and "emotional" (those inspiring stories...), but never fully or sincerely engaged in the coordination of social integration, a la Habermas, through "communicative action" or a coming to an understanding of each other. Habermas claimed that strategic action could encroach upon communicative action, but it seemed that the understanding already built between board members prevented this attempt by a so-called expert to tell them they're wrong.

After DonJoy Braceman's post, drmark has been on the board much more sporadically, and I've noticed a return to the old "it's ok, we all went through it, keep on trying" posts that, maybe, are much more helpful in recovery than any one doctor could ever be.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Day Eighty-Six

ALWAYS HAVE YOUR DREAM KNIVES SHARPENED
Last night, I had a nightmare for the first time in awhile. I can pick up the action from the middle...

My family, some other random people, and I were in what seemed to be a larger version of my house, but nearly pitch black inside. We were huddled in our downstairs family room. You could hear moaning and wailing faintly from inside the house, as well as an ambient rumbling. We were all scared shitless.

All of a sudden I realized that zombies were somehow holed up upstairs in our house and making their way downstairs towards us. These weren't any regular zombie -- they were spawned from hell itself, with blackened skin and red glowing eyes and horrible dental care.

The first wave made it downstairs. Someone shouted out, "Cut off their heads!" And lo and behold, I had a long kitchen knife with me. Now usually in dreams like these, I get bitten in the neck fairly early, or I can't move well enough to avoid whatever's coming after me, but this time, I was on FIRE! I dodged a zombie's lunge, then drove my knife into his neck, bladeside-first. The problem was, my knife wasn't so sharp -- I couldn't get the cut to go all the way, and had to sort of saw his head off. I concluded that this was a quite inefficient mode of cutting off people's heads.

We lasted until morning. Well at least some of us did. The next day, I told my mom to slap me just to check if this was a dream. She did, and I didn't feel it, so at that point I think I was very lucidly dreaming. Just to reconfirm though, I punched my mom in the chest. Yep, it was a dream.

In my mind, I was running through the possible places where these zombies were emanating from. Was it from this room? Or that room? Or this closet? The tub? The attic (we don't have an attic)? Just thinking about that was making me ruinously scared.

Then towards the end of the dream, I think I was hiding behind some furniture and saw that the zombies were coming out of a temporary portal to hell.

All in all, a wholly unpleasant experience. Considering how tired I was when I got up, and how cranky I was all day, I don't think I really slept at all last night.

THE WEEKS BECOME HARROWING
This weekend was relaxing. Two of my aunts came up today, and we went to lunch, ice cream, and a long (what seemed to be long) visit to Coffee Exchange. I almost fell asleep playing CoH today (and it got me killed at one point). Cleaned a little.

And then I realized I forgot my dayplanner at the office. I was planning on inputting some of the various things I have to do this week, and realized that I have a bit to do, and constantly. Yeah, I know, what a life: PT, orientation for the first years, lunches, dinners to cook, etc. So it's great, a real grind again.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Day Eighty-Five

THE KIDZBOPPING OF AMERICA
As per my Saturday morning ritual, I got up early enough to have breakfast while watching the Power Rangers on ABC Family. Power Rangers was lametastic -- they were repeating the feature episodes for pink and yellow (read "girl") rangers, but seemingly out of nowhere, one of my favorite pet peeves popped up again during the commercials... That's right, KidzBop, the Splendanized rehashing of today's already saccharine pop songs by the virtue of having little kids sing them. To be sure, they do have some "adult" voices handle some of the heavy lifting, but the sound of what sounds like an 6th grade class during choir period really takes the edge off.

For that matter, why, or I guess a better question is how is ABC Family showing such salacious fair as Cruel Intentions? Arguably, it's just another teen movie, and a very, very bad one at that, filled to the brim with sexual situations and that rampant "witty reparte" that's all the rage among the 'tweens these days. I wondered how far they'd go, so I watched a little tiny bit, trying to recall the "real" rated-R version that I attempted to forget so many years ago. The ABC Family version STILL was bad, so I stopped watching. I can only imagine how far ABC Family had to go to censor that flick to make it acceptable to soccer mom America.

Or am I wrong and is the fact that Cruel Intentions' appearance on ABC Family an emblem of how things are getting more vulgar? I somehow doubt it. And I'm not clamoring for some return to decency or to the purity of bubble gum pop, I'm just finding the confluence of the saccharine and the profane to be a little unsettling. It might simply be tween marketing, but I really REALLY doubt that kids don't feel patronized by those Kidz Bop songs, or that ABC Family-watching families sit down and say, "gee sweetie, let's watch Cruel Intentions!"

But what about those 'tweens that everyone's marketing to these days? Disney, MTV, everyone. 'Tweens seem predictable enough: appeal to their burgeoning sexuality and pretend that everyone lives in the land of eternal sarcasm. But perhaps the other side of the coin is that these 'tweens still rely on their parents to buy them shit and to talk back to, so slightly sanitizing the offerings makes everyone a little happier.

Except me, of course. Unless the people you talk to have incredibly thick skin or can dish it back at you, or if you're a 1940s Bob Hope, sarcasm is not for you. Only Brad Kreit can bring out the sarcasm in people without them getting totally furious, and there's only one Brad Kreit. Sacasm doesn't equal wit, and really, it's only funny when it's done deadpan or among jocks (ahhh those 49ers...). See? That was funny sarcasm.

Secondly, parents, please, stop being stupid. Please, if you're going to allow your kids to listen to music, don't patronize them. Unless they're stupid enough to assume that those are the actual songs you're playing for them? Are you playing them for 5-year olds? They don't fucking know the difference. But somehow, I doubt you do too.

OR I'M JUST GETTING OLD
So my middle bro's putting up AIM profiles:

Yeah, 14/m/ California. I'm writing a book, and stuff. Anyway... I don't know
what to put here. What's wrong with this?


I'm old.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Day Eighty-Four

TIRED
I'm tired. But still awesome.

THE PESSIMISM
Sometimes if I think hard enough, I see that I'm not a liberal. Not in the lib vs. conservative sense, but I lost my faith in the Enlightenment a long time ago, and even in the attempts of many philosophers and social theorists to recover the potential of humankind.

I think of Marx and how he attempted to salvage the promise of the Enlightenment through the proposition of a future of socialism, where the elimination of capitalism would supposedly bring forth the true promises of human freedom. Sad really.

I think I agree that capitalism, or even hypercapitalism, generates the alienation of the present. I agree as well that the development of the state has encroached on our ability to communicate and make demands.

However I don't believe that communicative action or communist revolution are effective tools at combating hypercapitalism and state domination. History shows waaay too many times where pure domination ends fragile communities, while the rest are atomized through mass consumerism. BAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Please don't tell me I'm becoming an existentialist.

HUMAN TENDENCY TO TRUCK, BARTER, AND SPAM
So I got like 9 comments on this post. Unfortunately, they were all spam. I'm sure you can check them out yourself, but I like how they purport to be positive comments and then slyly (not slyly?) hide the ad in the bottom line:

Your blog was created with a certain niche in mind and I'm confident that
it is a topic that you are somewhat familiar with. The essence of a blog can be
many things. You have certainly captured at least one of them.

It will be interesting to see how your blog evolves over time. Blogs have
sprouted up to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands a day. Maybe yours will be
one of those with some longivity. I'm sure it has an audience. [link] The
Thermax Vacuum Part site.


High quality. Points all around. What niche? So wonderfully vague: "The essence of a blog can be many things. You have certainly capture at least one of them". Mmmmmm.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Day Eighty-Three

KING OF THAT WHICH IS CHICKENTASTIC
I picked up a couple 8-packs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs today at Whole Foods. When I got home, I realized I didn't feel like making any of the three variations of broiled chicken thighs that I already knew, so I decided to push my luck and make "spicy" broiled chicken thighs. I indiscriminately mixed chicken thighs with chili powder, Tabasco sauce, pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes, then rubbed it all in. I was a little afraid of what might have come out after it'd been cooked, so I only broiled half of the batch of chicken thighs.

Twenty minutes later, I prepared myself for what could be a raging wave of capsaisin burning the Grand Canyon into my tongue...

Actually, it turned out REALLY REALLY well. It was just spicy enough to make it tart and exciting, but not enough to make me scream to high heaven (btw, it'd be a high-pitched scream).

ZOMBAY KILLAH!
Please listen to "Zombie Killer" http://www.myspace.com/LESLIEHALL. No one's ever captured how I feel about zombies. I guess this song really spoke to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Day Eighty-One

WORKING HARD MEANS STAYING AWAKE
Well, sort of. I didn't have too much of a long day ahead of me, but I decided to get a jump on it anyway. I got up at 6 and got to the gym by 7 (a long, but satisfying poop). Saw one of my basketball friends there and I did set shots with him. Twas fun.

Made it to the department by about 10:30 and read all day. I stayed until about 6pm, so I worked for a good 7 and a half hours. Well, minus my half-hour for lunch and a 45-minute nap (shhh...).

CRAZIES ASSASINATING CRAZIES...
What's the world coming to? I'm too lazy to link to it, but Pat Robertson is calling for, well, I guess he's "suggesting" that we (the US Government) assasinate Hugo Chavez!

Ugh so lazy, can't blog....

HOW I'M BOTH INSECURE, BUT STILL TOTALLY AWESOME
Let's face it, I'm insecure, but still totally awesome. I'm going to go fix my hair.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Day Seventy-Nine

NO PEP
I got up at around 8:30 just to call Pep Boys and see if I could get on the repair schedule. Of course, no one's open at 8:30am on a Sunday, let alone Pep Boys, which doesn't open until 12 on Sundays. So, I tried to kill some time until then -- made a terrible breakfast burrito, cleaned my room, played with the TimeRobo.

When I called at 12:01, I was directed to press "1" for "Service and Repairs". So I did. It rang for a bit, then said "one moment please", then rang for a bit, then said "one moment please", then rang for a bit until I got the picture. I called back later on and it was the same deal. I figured the service division must be closed on Sundays. Great.

TUMMY ACHE
Today I had the third bout of the tummy aches in the last week. As I went to get some Tums, I was reminded that someone apparently had been taking them while I was gone. Yet another reason I should get out of here.

GETTING OUT OF HERE
I'm doing preliminary research on new places to live. As it is, I'll have to bite the bullet in terms of cost -- a comparable place could easily be upwards of $550, a good bit more expensive than my current rent. Factor in utilities and off-street parking and I might be looking at the most half of my monthly pay. I guess that's them apples.

I'm looking at a couple places hopefully this week, and hopefully I can figure something out where I can move all my shit in short notice.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Day Seventy-Eight

I AM STILL A CHILD
I saw the 40-Year Old Virgin today with Becca Strauss. It's humorous, and certainly not as gut-wrenching as Meet the Parents. I vote "yes".

But, there's one vignette sequence where Steve Carrell's character is at his apartment alone singing karaoke, playing with toys, playing video games, marching around while playing a french horn, you get the idea -- he's a dork. I could not help but think that's nearly exactly what I do every day.

For instance:
- Singing and dancing? How do you think I come up with such great choreography? Also, Filipinos love to sing and dance! That's how we stole all the white women.

- Playing with toys? I just got my consolation prize for missing out on the Biorobo from awhile back: the TimeRobo. Now, this one is fucking awesome. It consists of five jets that can form together into a larger jet and two differnt kinds of robot. I spent part of the afternoon putting the decals on it (yes, I opened the box and thus reduced its value, but I wanted to PLAY with it), then kept just transforming it from mode to mode. Right now it's in Alpha or Red mode on my desk and I can't stop touching it. Touch, touch, touch. This thing will obviously be my mascot for this upcoming year.

- Playing video games? I have to admit that Steve Carrell's setup was sweet -- he had a video game chair with controllers in the armrests and a huge plasma screen TV. But, I guess it goes without saying that I play my fair share of video games, albeit old ones.

- Marching around while playing a french horn? Whoops, beat me there.

I can also notch a win in the "done it with chicks" column, the "eventually prestigous job" column, and the "world's best mediocre athlete" column.

Oh, FYI, I'm in the running this year for "World's Most Forgiveable Inconvenience".

Anyway yeah, I emphathized with Steve's character. Timerobo! Deploy saber! BWHAHAHAHA!

THE CAR THAT BOUNCES
I made Becca's ride back to her house really miserable by complaining abou how my car keeps jumping when it's idle. I was glad to park it at home so I could finally dodge the sensation that it might just blow up on me. The plan is to call Pep Boys tomorrow and have it looked at so I can get some piece of mind.

Holy crap, I gonna play with my TimeRobo.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Day Seventy-Seven

COMPUTER LO-O-OVE-ah
I knew that if I plugged my computer in I'd sit in front of it all day. It took me a couple hours to go downstair to get breakfast and it wasn't like I was doing anything important on the internet either; I recycled Fark multiple times just to see what would come up.

THE LEGEND OF PT
Eventually I did make it out of the house. I went to the mall first to do some research, as my aunt is sending me some gift cards, and since the mall is on the way to PT. Nothing really to note there, except I burned four bucks on parking for less than an hour.

PT was an experience. In fact, it was an epic adventure, filled with mazes and long battles. The first journey: getting to the door. Normally you can turn left into PT parking lot, but there's a bunch of construction going on, so they moved the entrance a couple BLOCKS down the street. I ended up parking somewhere not unreasonably far, but far enough for me to complain. In fact, in order to get to PT, I had to climb up these rickety stairs that I know aren't supposed to be used anymore to get on top of an elevated slab of concrete that acts as another parking lot, which is on the same level as the PT building.

Anyway, I got there on time, but a woman needed help translating some patient information forms to Spanish, so I did my very best in explaining some interesting medical terms. That turned out well. I doth translated the Patient Information Form of Medical Records and thus completed another task on my quest.

Finally, I started up with the same therapist I had before I left. I did really most everything I had been doing, except they had me use the weight machines instead of the theraband for some of my hip exercises.

I have to say, for some reason doing PT at this place lasts FOREVER. I'd be in and out at the one in Pacifica in around an hour's time. I went in today at around 1:15 and left nearly at 3:00. Holy crap. I have to find a way to speed that stuff up. Although, at least here, they really pay attention to what you're doing, monitoring you pretty closely. And, it's $3 cheaper a session. Anytime I can save Gil, I'll do it -- somewhere down the line those three ducats will help me purchase a sword from Alcartu the smithy, for he forgeth swords whose price is dear, but whose blade is true!

Speaking of cost, I got the insurance bill in the mail today. Mom sent it in another envelope, and for good reason too -- the original envelope was ripped width-wise and came with a post office sticker noting it had arrived in damaged condition. I was surprised to find that I'm going to have to pony up a lot less than I had expected. Tried calling the billing office to pay it off, but I had to leave a message. And thusly, my hit points were regerated with little gil spent at the inn.

YOU GET A FREE FROGURT!
So I dicked around mostly today. I did read a bit, however, but I could feel the computer calling to me to check sfgate and cnn and porn, so I decided to get out of the house and take a walk. iPod in pocket, I did a big loop through College Hill here in Providence and admired a house or two before it got dark.

I headed down Thayer Street with a hankering for ice cream. I figured with all my diet changes from cutting, I could afford to have one cheat snack. So I went into the candy store towards the top of Thayer (they had a clapboard sign outside that said "ICE CREAM"). I walked past the chocolates and to the ice cream section, where the girl working the scoops was rinsing out their Del's Frozen Lemonade Machine. It took her a couple minutes to notice I was there, but that gave me enough time to practice how I was going to order my ice cream.

"Hey, I'd like a scoop of the chocolate peanut butter cup," I said. Fucking score.

So she proceeded to scoop out some of what was really frozen yogurt into a sugar cone. Now, normally I don't think this is a problem, but she didn't remove her soapy gloves from cleaning the frozen lemonade machine, so apparently she had very little control over the scoop and the cone.

"Uh oh, I cracked the cone," she said. Lamentable, but I really didn't mind. She got another cone and tried to scoop more gingerly. "The cones are very fragile," she clarified.

This was becoming quite an undertaking, and I was feeling pretty embarassed that I had ordered such an awkward thing at such an awkward time. Her coworker came in from the front of the store, and soapy scooper girl asked her to scoop the ice cream for her. The coworker was just as careful and did slightly better, until...

"Um, do you want a cup?" she asked me.

"Well, I kinda want it in a cone," I said. Most of it was in a cone already.

"Oh yeah, we'll just put some in a cup," she said.

"Uh, sure, ok," I responded. I think if you tallied it up, I got a little more of that ice cream than I should have gotten.

But anyway, the ice cream/frozen yogurt finally scooped out into a cup and onto a cone, I was led to the front of the store where I was rung up.

"Hey, um, do you want a free Del's?" she asked. She plopped a big, big cup of raspberry Del's on the counter (For those of you who don't know, Del's refers to Del's Frozen Lemonade, which is just that, frozen lemonade).

"Uh, why?" I asked.

"Well 'cause we drained the machine and I feel guilty wasting it," she said.

So I agreed. Then I started thinking critically.

"I'm kinda short on hands though," I said. I had an ice cream cone in one hand and a cup of ice cream in the other.

"Oh, I'll put it in a bag," she said. She took the cup and put it in a little plastic bag, I paid, and it was all done.

Just to follow up, the ice cream/frozen yogurt was quite good, but I don't think I'll be drinking any more Del's, free or otherwise, in the near future.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Day Seventy-Six

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH....
Welcome to the world of mild relief. I got my car back yesterday, and while it's nice to have it back, it's now doing this weird jumping thing when it's idle that drives me crazy. Also, my power adapter got her today, so I'm back to burning my entire day on my computer!

Had dinner at Becca Strauss' house today. She's back in Providence from Alaska. Her dog sat on my shoe on multiple occasions.

For those of you who like Star Wars, I'm sorry. But, this was pretty darn funny. Ahhh the "Backstroke of the West"...

Nothing too exciting to note as of yet. I'll talk more tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Day Seventy-Two

AWESOMENESS
I have my action hero line for today. I made it up. I hope I'm the first... Imagine a scene where I, the leader of a rag-tag bunch, crouch down in a bunker while the sounds of enemy fire rage overhead. A timid member of my group speaks, something along the lines of "I'm thankful that we're still alive."

I respond, "Save it for Thanksgiving; we've got some ass to kick."

Yes. I will then destroy all the badguys without getting shot. It will be the greatest movie ever and they will have to make up an Oscar category for me called "Total Bestitude". I will win it.

CAMPTASTIC
Drove to Pleasant Hill to pick up my bros and my mom from camp today. They were happy campers, lolz. We had to take a kid home because of some weird reason and I'm amazed that we were able to fit all my mom's stuff and an extra person in the van. I weaseled my way out of driving back too.

They were apparently eaten alive by mosquitos; Mom was complaining about how itchy she was, my middle bro was covered (I think), and the little one got bitten through his shoe and scratched it so much it bled. They came home, took showers, and then raided the medicine cabinets for any kind of itch relieving substances.

For dinner, I cooked. BWAHAHAHAH! I r0x0r the broiled lemon pepper chicken! Even Mom was asking for seconds. Well, it is her recipe. Shut up.

PAINFULLY COOL THING OF THE DAY
As I was researching Neighborhoodies and Spreadshirt, I listened to Leslie and the Ly's. Sample their goods here - "Beat Dazzler". It can only be described in a made-up word: Gorfabkon. Watch it all the way through.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Day Seventy-One

SADNESS...
Ah, I did not win the Biorobo. The sale price jumped to about $152 and that was waaay over my head. I was willing, however, to shell out $101.75 for it. S'coo, s'coo.

The thing is though, I spent the morning singing the Biorobo song (see yesterday's post) and imagining me holding BioJet-1 and BioJet-2 as I did the choreography to "Beat It". To further compound my already-crushing sadness, I missed free lessons on how to actually do the "Beat It" choreography in New York.

PACKTASTIC
Had my last PT session here in Pacifica today. Nothing too big, no big goodbyes, but I'll miss them over at Coastside Physical Therapy. Went to the gym and then the pool, then came come and packed all day.

I found lots of paperwork I had put aside in my drugged phase back in June -- registration renewal for Tauro, loan deferrment, etc. I put them in nice piles, then stuffed those piles into my laptop backpack.

Packed up all my clothes today too, so I'll be living out of my backpack for the next couple days. No biggie.

Really not much else to report. I did laundry, um, yeah.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Day Seventy

I AM A CHILD
Dinner was leftovers tonight, so I shouldn't expect the best, but one piece of chicken in particular tasted and smelled like butt, and of course, I ate it. Now I'm burping up this butt smell/taste that is quite unpleasant. It's like I'm farting with my mouth.

In other adolescent news, I was peeing at a urinal at the gym today and I accidentally peed on my hand. It was just a small diversion of the main stream (those of you who are uncircumcised know what I'm talking about), but it certainly was out of the ordinary and quite uncomfortable.

For the past couple days, I've been trolling eBay for old robot toys that I used to have as a kid. Back in the mid-80s, my aunt used to take me to this toy shop in Japantown here in SF quite a bit, and I'd bask in all the neat transformers and robots that were quite original and nothing like the Transformers on TV. My aunt bought me a few toys from that store. One I still have: a Macross fighter in pretty shabby condition that my brothers don't play with (probably because it's such a complicated toy). But I remember very, very clearly two others I got from that shop -- two toys that were shipped off to the Philippines unceremoniously along with all my other toys (it was a very abrubt end to my childhood). One was Vavilos -- a sort of robot/jet/gun that I tried to put on my 8th birthday cake, but my Mom stopped me just in time. The other was the Gogglerobo, which confused the hell out of me then (and now) as to how a dump truck was at all cool (it formed the legs).

Those two were part of the Godaikin line of toy robots that Bandai put out back in the 80s. These toys seriously put my Transformers to shame: they were nearly all metal, super durable, and super super interesting to transform. Plus they ACTUALLY SHOT MISSILES. Vavilos was the only "toy gun" I really owned (I think), and he fired many a time from gun mode.

So after sitting on my butt listening to sentai theme songs all Summer, I was inspired to try to find some of the super robots from the sentai series. Lo and behold, I came across many Godaikin robots for sale on eBay. I realized I used to have some of these toys, and also realized that these were pretty expensive collectors' items now. I tried bidding on a Vavilos and a Gogglerobo, but once it got a little hairy around $50, I bowed out.

I wasn't interested in buying one of these to keep as a souvenir; I wanted to PLAY with it. So, as luck would have it, I stumbled across a BioRobo from Bioman that was in pretty played-in condition and made it a point to try to win it. So far, so good with one day left in the auction. Then I can sing the Biorobo song while I make Bio Jet-1 and Bio Jet-2 "Gattai Haipaa Curossu!" (thanks to Yuko, that's roughly translated to "Combine [or have sex] Hyper Cross!")

CASTING HAS ALREADY BEGUN
Only the truly crazy would suggest I need pictures of "obese black women like [an interesting Asian man we both know]", and that crazy person is named Patrick Joseph Davila. Patrick had a little fun thingy on his profile a couple years back about who you'd cast for yourself in the movie of Patrick's life. I was reluctant to provide an actor who could play me, partly because I couldn't think of any that looked like me, partly because, come on, no one can play me.

In my total boredom and conceitedness, I googled my name (just "Oslec") and came across some info on a soap opera produced in the Philippines a few years back called "Mangarap Ka," which featured a title character named...

Oslec!

which as we all know is...

backwards for Celso

and who is a "charming rogue protagonist..., a street-smart Robin Hood in the gritty streets of Quiapo, Manila." (same article for both links).

Damn straight. The actor playing me is named Piolo Pascual, and while he's not as good-looking as I am, I can't go back and change what has already happened. And what has happened is this:

When we last left them, Oslec (Piolo Pascual) was still smarting from two
shocking revelations: that his sometime rival Tristan (Patrick Garcia) was
actually his estranged brother, and that his father Celso (Miguel Vera), whom he
thought was long dead, was actually still alive, after faking his own death with
Tristan’s help. But now that the evil Junie Mun (Pinky Amador) has their father
in her clutches, will Oslec and Tristan now be able to put their differences
aside in order to rescue Celso? How will Tikoy (Steven Christian Fermo) fare now
that he is reunited with his mother (Ilonah Jean)? Will Cutie finally choose
between Oslec and Tristan? And will Oslec finally be deserving of the Dragon
King appellation that Tikoy gave him so long ago?


Will he, indeed? I guess we can add "Dragon King" to my list of titles which already includes "Rhode Island God of Desire". Hey, people with normal names get characters named after them all the time. Me, I get ONE in the history of mankind. So suck it.

In the meantime, I gotta go find this Cutie person...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Day Sixty-Nine

You know what to do when day sixty-nine comes around... Bask in the glory that is the Oslecman.

YOU HAVE TO PLUMB THE DEEPEST OF THE DEPTHS TO FIND ANYTHING LIKE ME
PT was a little disheartening today. I still can't get -5 degrees hyperextension (I'm at -3), and I'm not doing heel to butt yet on flexion. Just more hard work to do in that department.

Felt sort of tired today. I've been sleeping late this week, running unnecessary shit through my head. I'm planning on sleeping early tonight, but that remains to be seen.

Today was not awesome enough to warrant a description of it. Suffice it to say, I am still grander than the highest, most majestic peaks.

Day Sixty-Eight

So we here at my chair and faux computer desk have decided on some changes for good ole "Your Brain on Democracy." While that name was mad catchy, hardly anything I wrote really qualified such an astoundingly tremendous and quite ingenious title (if I do say so myself). It was sort of tough to keep to any coherent theme tied to the name "Your Brain on Democracy." Partly, I went for the angle that I'd been driven mad because I think about democracy all the time. Unfortunately, I'm quite mad with or without democracy on my mind, and, I wasn't really acting the part if I wasn't posting about democracy.

I returned to what Jordan mentioned, how this blog was really sort of a recap of my day, mundane observation, useless knowledge, nothing terribly interesting, etc. But I thought to myself, "haven't I already done shit like that before?" And true enough, while I had been blogging away, I had been neglecting my AIM profile, which for some time had been called "Your Daily Fix of Oslec's Ego," wherein I'd impart my witticisms and chest-pounding self-congratulations upon the world of my buddy list. So, why not name this other mostrosity of my pompous mind the same thing? I'm not some sort of creative hard worker or anything!

So welcome to "Your Daily Fix of Oslec's Ego" - the blog. You can still catch the AIM version at my screenname, The Bosslec (you have to be cool to be my AIM buddy).

I think I can lay out what I'm thinking into some discrete categories: Vanity, Avarice, Jealousy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, and Greed. We may not get to all of them today, but first things first, Vanity.

AM I AWESOME? I AM GETTING TOTALLY AWESOMER TO THE X-TREME
So first things first, how awesome am I? Totally. With no running for at least a month, and no serious running until December, plus me having two months of rust from lifting sort of limits my options at the gym a little. I've decided to "cut" for six or so weeks and see if I can't possibly see my abs for once in my life without flexing. It's simple really - reduce the total number of calories consumed per week slightly. Using these calculations (scroll down a bit), I've balanced out my intake better, so we'll see what happens.

POOP
Now that that's out of the way, here's something that was not awesome: D.E.B.S. I forget exactly how Netflix directed me to it, but I put it on my queue with some sort of anticipation for this film to be funny. It was not. The basic premise of the film is that a plaid skirt-wearing secret agent lady falls for an evil villian lady, who, by the way, are both hot (if you can forgive Jordana Brewster's orangeness). Now, throw in Spy Kids special effects; poorly poorly acted tongue-in-cheek action; dialog that fits the Star Wars addage from Harrison Ford that you can write this shit, but you can't say it; and it comes out of the colon of independent films a warm, slushy, foamy mess.

Granted, the film was groundbreaking because it was funny (supposedly) and it was about lesbians. Sundance, a lot of the Netflix reviewers, and this person loved it. Now, don't get me wrong -- just like The Debut, which I also hated, D.E.B.S. is one of those films that you have to give props to because it allows mainstream exposure to "the other" in a positive light. I can't knock anyone for trying, but I think it's entirely fair to knock them when they can't entertain at the same time.

While not a preachy cultural lovefest/Filipino's be hard and keep shit real fiasco, D.E.B.S. fails because it's totally unbelieveable as a parody or a love story. Because the actors are trying to be tongue-in-cheek in a movie that hasn't really decided if it's a parody-plus-love story or a very poorly written situation comedy, or Disney teen movie, nothing that comes out of the mouths of the actors is truly witty or funny and it's very difficult to tell if the actors knew the difference either. It's like watching the lesbian coming out episodes of Lizzie Maguire and Kim Possible rolled into one. Thank god neither of those exist.

I think the marketing for D.E.B.S. is one of the best Kaufmanesque jokes ever. Nowhere in the description does it say that the film is about two women falling in love. I loved the Netflix reviews where the mothers and father who rented the film for their kids were shocked by the subject matter. None of those reviews were over the top, thank God, but it's true -- if you didn't already have an open mind about homosexuality, you'd feel like you were in a comedic version of Boys Don't Cry or the Crying Game.

On a larger note, why does the cultural production of "The Other" suck so hard? In order to get some mainstream attention, the energy that could be spent on really talking about social ills is channeled into making something so insipidly innane that it's like pandering to children. On the other hand, if it's too "deep," you should prepare to meet Terri Gross on "Fresh Air" next week to talk about your work. Hella respect to Apl from the Black Eyed Peas for "The Apl Song" and "Bebot," but your rhymes suck. It's like having a Dick and Jane version of the Filipino experience. Or am I missing the point and are race and gender not so deep as to necessitate a more penetrating expression in pop culture?

THE KNEE
The knee's fine today. Did bike work and stairs with no problem.

WORRIED
Julia. Does she still like me? I still like me (see above under AWESOME).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Day Sixty-Seven

One week from now, I'll be back in P-Town, dealing with more weirdness at my house...

I called up Mae on Saturday and, along with knowing nothing about the two parking tickets I was charged $93 for, she informed me of the following:

- Her ex-mother-in-law has cancer and is undergoing treatment. Because of some issue with her daughter and an apartment lease, she's staying in the house until her treatment is over, at which time she will go to Costa Rica. For the time being, she's staying in one of the second floor bedrooms.

- As what usually happens, a foreign exchange medical student has appeared months early. Because her ex-mother-in-law is downstairs in the room usually occupied by the foreign exchange medical students, Mae's had to put the guy ON MY FLOOR, in the tiny room to the right of my own.

- The Brazilian comp sci student, who was supposed to only live at the house for a month, is still living at the house, but his whereabouts are unknown.

In sum, I feel bad for Mae's ex-mother-in-law, but I think I'm entitled to a reduction in rent. I'm certainly not sharing my refrigerator or cupboard space, and I was never, ever supposed to share the upstairs bathroom.

My car should be returned to me on time, but it also seems as if Barbara has disappeared temporarily.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Day Sixty-Six

Drove my bros and mom to Pleasant Hill this morning for camp. Mom packed half the house -- portable toilet, inflatable mattresses, two chairs, cushions, two containers of food, I think three bags of clothes, among other things. She also insisted that my brothers put two plastic bags over their sleeping bags, lest they get "dusty." Maybe since I've never gone to camp I have this romantic perception of it, but there's no way that all of that stuff is necessary.

Read this today on sfgate. Hipsters becoming not hip, babies having babies... it's a mad world. I sort of take offense to the super hip since their faux nerdiness is not very much inspired by actual history of nerdiness, but one of a general nostalgia, I think. To be sure, I myself can't claim to not care about style (mm confusing negative syntax), but I did reject world-weary irony awhile ago because, well, capitalism hasn't fucked everything up that there's nothing worth celebrating anymore. Plus it's debatable whether or not my passion for bad 80s music and Japanese children's action shows is an exhaltation of kitch or me being unable to hide how lame I actually am.

Somehow I ended up paying $93 for two overdue parking tickets on Tauro. More later...

Day Sixty-Five

I found my digital camera in the van yesterday. Here's a progression of pictures of my knee since day zero. I guess it'd be more impressive had I taken a picture for every day, but I wasn't nearly that interested in looking at my scars as I thought.




That last one was from today, a few seconds ago. My knee hair has not grown back to its former bushiness, but that's forgivable. You can make out some definition again, indicating that my swelling has gone down a lot.

Jordan commented on my blog (1,000 points for being the first one). Jordan, I feel ya -- people probably won't comment on a blog that's updated daily with mundane crap. And if anything, it means my life thus far has not been worth commenting on. One day, there'll be something like a meaningful event or an experience worth detailing that people will want to read about and make comments, but let's give it some time since I'm not trying too hard.

I may not be a blogger, and I may not save the world from itself, but I guess I make people happy from time to time.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Day Sixty-Three

My stepdad got off from jury duty yesterday, and my mom is taking him on a tennis vacation down in San Jose until Saturday. Until then, I'm here with my bros, hopefully not exploding from the annoyance.

As it's the first Thursday of the month, we have the terrible trifecta of homeschool activities that I must now be surrogate mother and chauffer. First, my middle bro has garage band at 2pm. I have to admit, band has been a spectacular activity for improving my middle bro's self-confidence and overall coolness. The downside has been he's totally annoying at home -- he's really not much of an air guitarist yet, so his rendition of the riffs in various songs are somewhat lacking. Second, we have park day. Park day is when all the homeschool kids play in a park and all the homeschool moms talk about middle-aged mom stuff. Guess what surrogate mothers do? Talk about grad school. Finally, we have game night, wherein the homeschool kids fill a Round Table and play board games and the homeschool moms talk about middle-aged mom stuff again. What do I do? Talk about grad school.

Now, I'm not complaining. Too hard. The entire homeschool trifecta of evil will last from about 1:30pm (the time I have to leave the house to get to Half Moon Bay) to about 8:30 (the time it'll take us to exit gracefully from game night and return to Pacifica). So I'm facing about seven or so hours of sheltered little kids spreading mollescum contagiosum all over the place and their doting, overprotective mothers who'll interrogate me about why such an amazing individual such as myself could make it to an MA in sociology from an Ivy League school while being a product of the public school system that they abhor for being undisciplined and inadequate for the specific needs of their child. Fucking mollescum contagiosum.

The knee was a little sore on the medial side, which probably indicated I was working it a little too much yesterday. Otherwise, week 9 is looking like a good week for recovery.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Day Sixty-Two

Two month anniversary today! If I had my digital camera, I'd take a picture of my knees again, but it's still missing. A lot has changed just in my room since a couple months ago -- my crutches, my knee brace, and my ice machine are all in my closet, and my "sidetable of doom" isn't littered with snacks and medicine; it's my computer desk. Two 35-pound weights later and we've arrived at the room of two months, post-op.

Went to the pool again today after going to the gym. I think I might have aggravated my knee a little, but it's dying down already.

My bros and I have been exploring the world of aviation quite a bit this past couple weeks. First it was Aerobiz. Then it was paper airplanes. After that came kites (not a very good kite). Today, we've got a propeller-powered wing that we're attempting to fly.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Day Sixty

Today was pretty busy. I picked up my grandaunt at the airport and brought her home to Milpitas. She treated me to lunch (Japanese food!) and we talked about the charity she's involved in, though its name in Tagalog escapes me. I think she sent my mom some literature earlier this summer; I should dig it up. Apparently what they do it build entire villages for squatters in the Philippines and provide occupational training. It sounded waaay too good to be true. Anyway, I'll find a link somewhere so all of you (all two of you) can see it.

I did a little mind work today, reading more about civil society in the Philippines and trying to penetrate a Barrington Moore lecture from 1987. I also helped my little bro make a kite. Suffice it to say that my imprecision makes me a bad person to make such delicately-balanced objects.

Went to the gym for the first time in a couple months today. I took up Dr. Akizuki's suggestion and jogged ever so slowly on the treadmill to work on my form. It was somewhat satisfying, although I wished I could really book it. I lifted afterwards (two months off is a LONG time), and then ran in the pool. Unfortunately, it was rec swim, so the diving section was off limits. I had to run in 5 foot deep water, but it wasn't a huge deal.

I came back for dinner and my family had been entertaining a couple of my stepdad's assistants. They were nice people. One talked a lot. I'll leave it at that.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Day Fifty-Nine

A few weeks ago, my grandaunt called up and had me help her book an airline ticket online. Of course, it was much more complicated than that: she's a former Delta employee and so flies on standby. In the good old days before the internet, she used to call up the Delta offices in Atlanta. But with the wonderful advent of booking flights online, Delta gave its former employees a whole bunch of code numbers and passwords then told them to go online.

So, after a few iterations of fumbing with passwords, employee account numbers, and downloading Delta VPN software, we were able to book her a couple tickets online.

Today she called up and informed us that she was coming back. Not out of the ordinary. Well, that and she needed someone to pick her up. So, tomorrow I'm gonna swing by SFO and drop her off in Milpitas.

In other news, I noticed that with me staying till the 15th, my brothers and my mother will be gone for an entire week, somewhat defeating the idea of me staying around because of family. So I'm thinking about taking "a week off" from doing nothing and doing something -- going somewhere, doing the tourist thing, stimulating myself (mentally). I'll have a car, so I could go to a few places, or I could fly a short distance. Sadly, I left my passport in Providence, so going to Cabo or to a safari in South Africa are out of the question. Plus, I'm not made of that much money.

So, where am I going? Where should I go? I was exploring the possibility of going to Vegas for a week. What I'd do specifically, I'm not sure, nor can I really think of anything I could do by myself that doesn't involve some sort of naive exploration into illicit activities. I was thinking about San Diego, but I don't want to go down an just mooch off friends for a week either.

So, let's see how this turns out. I'll take suggestions. I mean, if there are actually people reading this thing.