Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

On The Cover II

My MxPx library is up to 246 songs. I’ve been listening to them for, well, ten years and running. One of the first albums I bought, On The Cover, is a little known cover album (if you aren’t an MxPx fan) of a wide variety of songs. From the beginning, it has been one of my favorites. There is no beating “Take On Me” by A-Ha. And I always was a sucker for “Drum Machine Joy” and “You Found Me.” So I was really excited to hear of MxPx’s On The Cover II. I picked it up last week and the songs are growing on me. The instantly recognizable hits are “I Will Follow”, “500 Miles”, and “Major Tom.” “Somebody to Love” and “Linda Linda” are also promising.

I’ve only listened through twice. I’m sure to find more songs I love, but if you are in the mood for punk rawk covers, you can’t go wrong with this album or it’s predecessor.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Why did I have a proclivity for Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations? To be honest, I think I was very confused when I picked the book up. I thought I had heard some time ago that Meditations was a founding treatise of sorts on modern Christian thinking, even though it was written in the second century.

I was wrong. Although there are passages in the book that can be construed as Christian tenets, they aren’t explicitly Christian statements. There is no mention of Jesus, only of God and Gods and, even then, the mention of God seems off-the-cuff.

After having done a little research on Meditations, I think the book I must have confused it for is Confessions by St. Augustine. My bad, St. Augustine. I can’t give to you the month I toiled with Meditations which, by the way, is only 93 pages long.

As you might be able to tell, I didn’t care for the book. It made me thankful, once again, that I was, and never will be, a student of philosophy. Meditations bored me with its mostly archaic language and stiff translation. However, I did find myself sporadically underlining sentences throughout the book. I will close with a couple lines after this pronouncement: Meditations is a boring book. Sure, it is a classic in the Stoic tradition, but unless it’s on a course syllabus, stay away.

“For clearly one who loses his temper is turning away from Reason with a kind of pain and inward spasm; whereas he who offends through appetite is the victim of pleasure and is clearly more vicious in a way and more effeminate in his wrongdoing.” – Mediations, Book II, Chapter 10

“Don’t live as though you were going to live a myriad years. Fate is hanging over your head; while you have life, while you may, become good.” – Mediations, Book IV, Chapter 17

Friday, March 27, 2009

Broadcasting, not living

Via Sullivan’s blog yesterday I was directed to a post by Nicholas Carr, in which he talks about Jean Baudrillard’s simulacra and simulation obsession and how he accurately spoke of an era in which “we broadcast our lives instead of live them.”

Money quote:

The fact that Baudrillard could so clearly describe the twitterification phenomenon ten years before it became a phenomenon reveals that the phrase “new media,” when used to describe the exchange of digital messages over the Internet, is a coinage of the fabulist. What we see today is not discontinuity but continuity. Mass media reaches its natural end-state when we broadcast our lives rather than live them.

The age of Twitter is upon us and that’s bad news for productivity. That’s bad news for constituents that want their elected officials to do their job instead of posting snarky prattle about an opponent’s speech in congress or something of the sort.

But it’s not just the productivity of politicians that is concerning, it is everyone’s productivity. Twittering is nearly identical to updating the status on one’s facebook page. When I had facebook, I could sign on and view my friends with updated statuses. I could see from the list of friends that some were working, some were exercising, and others were pissed about the outcome of some game last night. You see what I am getting at? This information is completely useless; it corroborates Carr’s point.

What could John McCain politicians have done during President Barack Obama’s non-SOTU address if they weren’t concerned about appearing to be hip by using Twitter? What could you have done instead of constantly letting us know where you were? 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

14,650 Yards

Collegiate swimming teams usually get a break of 2-3 weeks after the last meet of the season before they come back from spring training, which often lasts up until the week of finals in the spring semester. My team started swimming on Monday and I have decided to get in the water and swim the workouts with them during the spring.

I swam three times last week in order to sort of prepare for Monday. However, the most I did last week was 2400 yards. So, when Monday rolled around and the workout we gave them was 4750 yards, I was hurting, but I did it all. And the day after that I did 4950 yards. The day after that I did another 4950. I still have something left in the tank, but I can feel the lack of a base when I get in the water with our athletes. They make me feel slow and out of shape, but the desire to race is still there and each one of these workouts is chipping away at the months and years I’ve spent out of the pool since it used to be my home.

I exercise for my job. How lucky I am.

Random Sentences with GRE Vocab

The professor intended to abase me with her criticisms of my short story.

The pain abates as I swim more regularly.

At the last possible second, Cheney abdicated his position and the Veep’s residence became visible on Google Earth once again.

(The following sentence was the example given on the vocabulary card for aberrant.) Since he had been a steady, cheerful worker for many years, his fellow postal workers did not expect his aberrant burst of rage.

USA Swimming is holding Michael Phelps in abeyance for taking a hit off of that bong.

People thought he had abjured his Christian faith when they found out he voted for a Democrat.

He absconded from the sanctuary because the sermon was awful.

His appetite for cheese was abstemious to begin with, but he abstained from eating it throughout lent.

That man’s belly button is an abyss. I am sure his love for donuts resulted in an accretion of that gaping hole.

It was supposed to be the acme of cheese, but its acidulous finish made Bryce puke.

He adulterated everything he touched.

I had a smug look on my face as I advocated the vegetarian diet.

Aerie is a word that is commonly used as an answer in crossword puzzles.

After seeing his artwork, I was convinced he couldn’t have been a part of the aesthetic movement.

How could Bill’s love for Hillary not be affected?

Some are worried that Obama is seeking to aggrandize government.

His alacrity aided him in his Jeopardy victory.

My noise cancelling headphones helped to alleviate the incessant noise from your mouth.

He amalgamated the ingredients for his favorite cookies.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thinking about a MFA

An excerpt from an email I sent to a writing professor:

My question for you is, what is the value of an MFA? In my idealized world, the value of an MFA would include a job following graduation (either in academia or writing for almost any publication) and, hopefully, some sort of publishable work because, after all, I just spent a few years of my life honing my writing skills and I would have a marketable skill. In reality, none of that is guaranteed to happen and that concerns me. 

Why has this doubt crept into my mind? I guess I have some doubt in my writing ability. Luckily, I know I am not alone in that doubt/fear. I would venture a guess that all writers feel that way at some point or throughout their entire lives. Couple that with the Hemingway quote ("Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of two absolute necessities. The other, unfortunately, is talent.") and I don't exactly become a wellspring of hope because I know talent and fabulous prose can't necessarily be taught. 

With that said, I believe in my writing. That belief may be hanging by a thread now and forevermore, but it is there, and it is what is driving me to pursue writing in almost any manner, and more specifically, working toward an MFA. 

I recently finished reading a series of thought provoking posts at an online literary journal which attempts to qualify, define, and consider the value of getting an MFA. You can find them here , here , and here . Read them if you want, but it isn't necessary because my original question still remains, what is the value of an MFA?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Deep Thought

Obama's problems are ones that he mostly inherited from Bush and damn the man for trying to solve more than one issue at a time. How irresponsible.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Madness

I am currently on the overall leaderboard in ESPN’s bracket challenge. There were over five million brackets filled out at espn.com and somehow I’ve gotten lucky and correctly picked most of these games so far, but I don’t know, Cleveland State might be the death of me.

You may have believed me for a second. I am sorry about that. It just felt good to act like I was some big time basketball guru who doesn’t need to do all the analyzing and research. I just know the winners. In real life I am not on the leaderboard, but I have now broken into the top 850,000 at espn.com. For a little bit I was just hovering around 3.5 million in the rankings and then Wisconsin, Siena, and Arizona won and I jumped up to 1.5 million-ish. When it is all said and done, I may be back down in the dumps after the final four, but the fact that I’ve even broken the top million after spending roughly sixty seconds filling out my bracket and with no research into any of the matchups, is a testament to the madness of the tournament. It is anybody’s game and that’s why this mayhem is so appealing to the masses with great or little investments in the outcome. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Warren Buffett Wisdom

This is Warren Buffett writing in Newsweek about the economy:

The present housing debacle should teach homebuyers, lenders, brokers and government some simple lessons that will ensure stability in the future. Home purchases should involve an honest-to-God down payment of at least 10 percent and monthly payments that can be comfortably handled by the borrower's income. That income should be carefully verified. Putting people into homes, though a desirable goal, shouldn't be our country's primary objective. Keeping them in their homes should be the ambition.


Approval, though, is not the goal of investing. In fact, approval is often counter-productive because it sedates the brain and makes it less receptive to new facts or a re-examination of conclusions formed earlier.

The first passage is just personally relevant for me right now. Kate and I would like to be homeowners in less than two years so we have started to talk about how we would go about purchasing a home. Our goal is to put at least 10 percent down. With this goal in mind, we are going to be automatically limited to a price range that is feasible, meaning if we can’t put 10 percent down right away; the house is not within our income.

Buffett’s writing here strikes me as just common sense, although it isn’t very common. Many of us buy with our eyes without any consideration of our assets. I’ve been guilty of this before. However, when purchasing a home, one needs to purchase within their income. That just seems very obvious to me, but apparently not so much to many Americans who just needed to have that McMansion, even if it meant getting an adjustable-rate-mortgage to have it.

What I love about the second passage is its wisdom. Approval sedates and inures us to archaic prejudices, or a life we weren’t called to live. A “reexamination of conclusions formed earlier” is essential to learning and education. Just something to think about.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SoCal Visit List

Shamu’s got ups.

In-N-Out is no longer an obsession of mine. I have found their burgers and fries less than ideal for a couple years now. I am becoming more of an epicure and things that used to be great are just good or average now.

On the flights back to Milwaukee I officially went through all of my GRE vocab flashcards without missing a single word. There are 500 words in that box. I’ve been connected to that little box for a while now. At first it represented an almost insurmountable task, memorizing 500 words that I might not use in everyday conversation for the rest of my life. It then became a friend, a loyal sidekick of education. And now it’s my bitch, because I go through the box once a day and I know all of those words. We’re still friends though.

I slept miserably every single night. The Hoge crew has a hand-me-down double bed in the guestroom with an awful footboard on it that makes for difficult sleeping when you are over six feet tall. Kate got the bed. I lasted two nights on it before I opted for an air mattress.

It was warmer in Milwaukee yesterday (high of 74) than it was during any one of the days in San Diego.

The 57-degree water made me miss the 70-degree water of Florida beaches. However, I prefer the west coast.

I am so, so, so thankful I don’t have a kid. For Kate, the feeling is mutual. I was thankful for this exact reason before this trip, but I am even more thankful after spending a week out there. I am also more appreciative of and impressed by people that are good parents and people that actually want to have kids.

I still want to live on The Strand on Manhattan Beach. I think I could put up with people walking by everyday and gazing into my house. That’s what tinted windows are for. I wouldn’t mind a house like this.

Some people in California just have no clue of Lake Michigan’s size. No, you can’t see across the lake. Yes, you can surf its waves sometimes.

My sister is doing a great job of being a mother. Her job, her life, is this girl and that’s incredible devotion and love.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

So Many Pictures

We took 310 pictures/videos in California. Here are a few. If I ever upload the rest to flickr or another site I will let you know. We had a great trip. More on that later. For now, pictures.

Finally getting a picture of me holding Brooklyn on the last day we were there. 

Brooklyn on the Manhattan Beach pier. Kate got this one. A picture perfect girl.

We went to Sea World one day. It was awesome. I've got a lot of amazing pictures from the Shamu show and videos. I'll try to upload some in the future.

Brooklyn and her grandpa in La Jolla.

La Jolla, California.

I carried Brooklyn on my back during our afternoon in La Jolla. She loved it and was very well behaved...and not too heavy.

Hot, with one 't'

73 degrees in Milwaukee and rising. I think there is going to be a record broken today. 

Monday, March 09, 2009

Cali, great place to visit

Thirteen months is a long time to go without seeing my sister, her husband, and their only child. This is the kind of gap that would only be acceptable if I lived on the other side of the Atlantic, but even then, I would secretly hope that thirteen months would not pass between visits.

Nevertheless, that is exactly what has happened and my sister and family are only in California. I want to say never again. This is not going to happen again because I care too much about my relationship with them. However, once you do something it sort of becomes easier to do and we tend to become indolent in our quest to never let it happen again. As for this, I hope that’s not the case. The thirteen months have been hard. I don’t want it to get harder.

We leave tomorrow. Back on Sunday.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bold = Praying for Obama outloud in church

Written January 25, 2009
A girl prayed for Obama this morning and thanked God for the new president. I thought this was brave of her. Even I, an Obama volunteer, cringed a little, but then I asked myself, why should I cringe? How did we let it get that bad in the church that people cringe when someone thanks God for this country’s new, democratic leader?

This is sad, but true. Words of thankfulness for a democrat in the Oval Office felt out of place this morning. The speaker took a risk by praying for Obama and thanking God for him. Some people in the pews might have felt uncomfortable and might have been offended. That’s okay. Plenty of people before have been offended by messages of exclusivity, intolerance and the dangers of some highlighted sins, i.e. homosexuality, gay marriage, and a vote that is pro-choice.

I want to see honesty and openness from the pulpit that highlights inclusiveness, love, scriptural discussion, debate and forgiveness. Open up the church to people with words. Break down old barriers. Don’t shut the doors. Don’t build up walls.

Voting against abortion is a prerequisite to sit in the pews every Sunday morning and so is a desire to constitutionally outlaw gay marriage or gay civil unions. To sit in the pews, one must not support stem-cell research. These ideas are rubbish, absolute drivel, handed down from generation to generation and I am thankful that this morning someone did their best to shatter them by simply praying for someone.

Friday, March 06, 2009

This Cafe Has Pets

Much like Jefferson Street, Water Street and the nearby streets in the Third Ward have a plethora of restaurants. Some of them are huge (Milwaukee Ale House) and some are skinny, able to stride past in a few steps (Rustico). And some are sort of hard to find like the Third Ward Café. Maybe it is too good at blending in or easily missed because it is across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market.

If it weren’t for our friends standing inside the door, my wife and I would have walked right past the entrance. Once inside we found ourselves in a very intimate dining setting with lots of candles, huge booths and a plate of olives waiting for us at the table. The service and atmosphere were promising starts to the evening and I was looking forward to having my taste buds stimulated when I saw a sizable, dark object scurrying down the brick wall I was facing, roughly ten feet away. When I realized it was a two-inch long cockroach I gently nudged my wife. Our friends knew something was up when my wife’s eyes widened like she had seen a ghost. As one of our friends caught sight of the cockroach and let out an audible gasp of surprise, it ran toward the ground and disappeared out of sight.

There was a moment in which we thought of leaving. We didn’t and we all made a gallant attempt at acting like the roach didn’t bother us. However, throughout the meal I kept my eye in the corner for the cockroach. It didn’t show itself again and, luckily, the food and wine was enjoyable enough to keep our minds off the roach for a bit. As for the food, it was good, but not exceptional. I had the minestrone with the salmon and noodles. The Chilean Sea Bass my wife had was delicious, but it was half the size of my salmon and nine dollars more which made me feel bad for giving the restaurant the money we did. Going out is such a risk. You are going to pay for it whether you like it or not and when it was all said and done, we left feeling like the Third Ward Café was just a scant overpriced. It is not that we didn’t like it. The food was fine. Service was excellent and the restaurant appeared to be clean. It was the roach that sort of spoiled the night. Look, I know a lot of restaurants have roaches, but keep them out of the sight of customers. If I hadn’t seen it, maybe I would feel completely different about the experience, but for now, the Third Ward Café is filed under the good, but not likely to return label. 

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More Conference Photos

One of the sprinters had a great friend taking pictures during the entire meet. They are exceptional. If you care to see any of them please check out her flickr page. Here is the link to the conference set.

The Dow Doesn't Know All

A gem from last night's show. 

Not Hoping for Failure

"When a real crisis happened on 9/11, I remember the Democrats rushing to do whatever Bush wanted. I remember hand-holding and singing on the Capitol Steps. I don’t remember them hoping Bush’s response would fail," - John Cole

Via: The Dish.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pics from the Meet

The youngest D-1 swimming staff in the country. Average age: 25. 

Not the clearest shot, but I like it because it captures a lot of action. Kate was there for Saturday and taking pictures for most of the time.

On the starting blocks. 

Erica and I at our posts.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Last Swim

Conference is over. What a long, wonderful week of swimming. 
The women finished in 2nd place, one place up from last year. The men finished 3rd with 56 points separating them from first place. They also moved up this year compared to last year's finish. 

All relay records were broken on both sides. The last race of the night was the men's 400 free relay. The previous record was a 3:02.48 and this team of guys had been gunning for that record all season long. They finished with a time of 3:00.68, with a senior anchoring the relay with a personal best split of 45.36. It was an extremely gratifying race to watch as a coach and something that I will always remember because of my connection with each one of those guys.