Thoughts from an airplane

June 12th, 2011 / #awesomeness, #observations, #random

June 8, 2011 – Somewhere over Georgia

I like flying. I don’t understand people who don’t. Of course, I don’t do it often.

I also like to eat ice cream. As with flying, I don’t eat ice cream often.

People who fly often, whether for business or pleasure, validate their detest for flight by pointing out how much they do it. But repeated actions alone aren’t enough to cause one not to like something. If I ate ice cream every day of my life, for example, I bet I’d like it. Sure I’d be fat(ter) and my lactose intolerance would make every trip to the bathroom a fecal disaster, but I never said I liked the events associated with ice cream. I said I liked eating ice cream.

I’m also not saying I like the inconveniences of air travel; I just like flying. Even though the eight year old Egyptian girl sitting behind me is kicking the back of my seat like she’s on her way to try out for the national soccer (sorry, football) team, I think it’s pretty awesome that I’m in a steel cylinder 36,000 feet above a ground I can’t even see and the thing I’m most concerned about is the juvenile ruckus happening in seat 11-D.

Some people are afraid of flying. I suppose I can get on board with that train of thought. But, like most, I’ve also fallen into complacency in this respect. We’ve come a long way in the short amount of time humans have tamed the skies. A logical man would see the great risk associated with traversing the heavens on one individual flight (and putting his life in the hands of some muffled, quick-talking voice he’s never heard before), yet we continue to blindly board. People are irrational.

For example, they will cower in the shadow of a rollercoaster – a one-way ride that’s bolted to the ground – yet they happily climb aboard a vehicle that will take them thousands of feet higher than the dreaded coaster at a speed of more than ten times what you’ll see at Disney World. Like I said: People are irrational. (But we all knew that, so maybe we aren’t as irrational as I think.)

Which brings me to my own irrational behavior. I’ve never used the lavatory on an airplane before. At first, this was because I simply didn’t have to. Now, though, it’s been such a great conversation piece when discussing travel with others that I don’t want to ruin it.

My dedication to preserving this ace in the hole is noteworthy in it’s own right: I flew back to the U.S. from a vacation in Rio de Janeiro a few months ago. I held in a turd from the skies above Panama to the first bathroom in Houston.

Smuggled the little guy in.

It’s my party, and I’ll cheer if I want to

In general, writing about politics is a bad idea.

Wait, scratch that: writing about politics in a forum where lots of other people will read it is a bad idea. So I’ll continue.

But first, a disclaimer: I hate politics. That’s a funny thing for a former political science major to say, I know, but I mean it. After spending the four most formative years of my adolescence sitting in classrooms learning about Washington’s committees, subcommittees, whips and weasels, the promised land of graduate school has offered a welcome respite from the sort of tug of war approach to political discourse that most of my classmates engaged in. It’s not that I didn’t like my classmates as humans (for the most part), but I found it pretty sad that they fell so easily into the common trap of treating politics like a baseball game: I root for my team, you root for yours, and we’ll see who can hit the ball farthest when it’s my turn to bat.

Maybe this is the cynic in me, but it seems like this rah-rah competition is not the most efficient way to govern. After all – and I know a lot of people would disagree vehemently with this assessment – most politicians are pretty similar. Sure, they might have widely different priorities in terms of particular issues. But the end of the day, most politicians are slaves to the ballot box and, above all, human.

Given my understanding of the way this country works, I do as any normal person who’s upset with the system would do: I treat politics as the biggest, most convoluted reality television show ever conceived. Catty congresswomen, old white bigwigs who can’t keep their junk in their pants, an insane billionaire looking to hijack the most powerful office in the world – America has it all.

So, you’ll forgive me if I perceive people who are staunch supporters of either side as the equivalent of Team Snookie. The way the electorate clings to one party line or the other without considering the strengths and weaknesses of other opinions seems pretty silly to me. In school, kids learn about the ever-important “marketplace of ideas.” This term no longer applies to American political discourse, however. Now, political junkies do their idea shopping at one of two strip malls on opposite sides of town. Very impractical.

Which leads me to the news du jour: the recent assassination of international terrorist and all-around bad guy, Osama bin Laden.

Like most Americans, I waited with bated breath for Barack Obama’s announcement in the late hours of May 1. And like most Americans, I was thrilled when the announcement came. But what struck me about the news was not the event itself, nor the reaction to the event, but the secondary reaction to America’s initial reaction to the event.

In the hours and days since a gaggle of George Washington University students – college kids, mind you – triumphantly gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue, it has become chic for bloggers, tweeters, and serious media people to reflect back upon that night’s scenes of euphoria with reserved derision. To cheer the murder of another human, they reason, is uncouth. Some have even suggested that when folks lit off firecrackers in front of the executive mansion, a bit of American credibility was lost in the eyes of the world.

Ah, just what Americans love: other people telling them how they should feel.

I think much of this backlash to the initial jubilation can be attributed to the Internet. Before social media, people actually had to – gasp! – talk to other people. While I can’t speak for anyone else, I find that I’m moderately reserved when talking to others: if possible, I try to avoid potentially divisive political discussions because, sadly, many people judge others for their opinions. To disagree with this generation of cable-fed political know-it-alls could be detrimental to one’s social life.

Luckily, the invention of social media has allowed us to compose updates that touch on topics we wouldn’t usually pursue in the course of an old fashioned conversation. After the initial reaction to the news died down on May 2, I was barraged with countless tweets, status updates, blog posts, editorials, and columns decrying the initial American response of elation as detrimental to the ideals of peace and harmony.

The simple fact is that as long as humans have free will, fish swim in the ocean, and there is an episode of To Catch A Predator airing on some station deep in the recesses of my 2,000 cable channels, there will not be peace in the world. And to operate under the illusion that America has a responsibility to promote such peace by not doing whatever is necessary to rid the world of crazy people like bin Laden is naive and childish.

True, some would concede: the elimination of Osama was necessary, but the American reaction to the news wasn’t proper. Instead of engaging in a solemn period of reflection, America did what it does best: it reverted into a country of screaming, passionate homers.

Of course they did! And that was probably the best thing about that entire evening. Americans rarely agree about anything. Usually, the only times Americans band together in unity is in the aftermath of great turmoil or great success. Sadly, the former seems to occur much more often than the latter.

On this night, something was different. Gone was the baseball game mentality between folks at different ends of the political spectrum. Gone were the cheers and jeers amongst the electorate of government officials. Sure, there were people in front of the White House with Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden campaign signs that likely wouldn’t agree on much, but everyone could agree on one thing: this was great news.

I’ll admit that America’s jubilant reaction to the news might rally anti-American sentiment abroad, sure. But perhaps it was worth it. After all, what doesn’t seem to provoke those who hate America? The War on Terror hasn’t provided much good news around which most Americans could rally in a long time, but Osama bin Laden’s extermination was a welcome diversion from the silly two-sided battle Americans fight every day.

The fact of the matter is simple: this inning, everybody won. Enjoy it, because it probably won’t happen again for some time.

My First Impressions of the Rest of My Life

August 10th, 2010 / #awesomeness, #observations, #usfsp

Yesterday, I went for the first time to my new school’s campus. I realize that it is extremely risky and not generally recommended to sign over multiple years of your early twenties to an institution you’ve never seen in real life, but in this case I think I lucked out.

The campus is nestled mere blocks from the hallowed halls of Tropicana Field with a quaint view of Bayboro Harbor and buildings that seem younger than I am, which is always nice when you consider that such edifices are more likely to have clean bathrooms. Also, their Chick-fil-A is on the waterfront, which I think is the perfect way to enjoy overpriced (but admittedly delicious) chicken.

But the best part? YOU SHOULD FEEL THE AIR CONDITIONING. I’m not kidding. I walked across 6th Avenue South after my appointment with human resources so I could scope out the building where most of my classes will be, and I’m pretty sure I somehow fell asleep and entered into that dream from Inception with all the snow. Trust me, after parading around in my avian disguise for the amusement of strangers in temperatures above one hundred degrees day in and day out, the frigid respite of the Peter R. Wallace Florida Center for Teachers is quite a welcome surprise.

In an unrelated matter, I’m pretty sure the hardest part about adjusting to J-school will be only using one space between sentences.

"I’m a simple man. I like pretty, dark-haired women and breakfast food."

February 15th, 2010 / #awesomeness, #pictures, #television

At first, I respected and admired Ron Swanson more than any man in the world. Then I found out he married Karen Walker from Will & Grace. Then, I found this, and it erased any doubts I might have developed about Ron Swanson’s awesomeness.

Well, someone had to pay for Tim Tebow's hospital bill

September 27th, 2009 / #awesomeness, #complaints, #football

Last Thursday began as any other would: I awoke, went to my classes, ate my (pre-packed and cheap!) bagged lunch, and went to get my ticket for Saturday’s football game with Angus.

As we approached the ticket window, I decided to go to the line belonging to the fellow who had given us our tickets for the week prior. After I gave him our school IDs, though, I regretted trusting him with such an important task. After swiping Angus’ card and printing his ticket, he informed me that because my card wouldn’t swipe, I would have to high-tail it to the student union to get another one before I could have the ticket that I’d already paid for.

“So, they’ll replace it?”

“Yeah, for 15 bucks.”

Wait a second, Johnny Ticketmaster. My ID had never once swiped properly before. I watched you guys. You would try to swipe it on one machine, again on another machine, and then you would break down and enter my student identification number into your magical ticket machine, and I would have my tickets. Heck, I even watched you do it a mere seven days prior!

Upon telling him this, he simply told me to get a new card. No apologies, no explanations for his inability to deal with customers, not even a smile for the fat, hairy guy who was about to speed walk across campus in 300 degree weather.

So, after some choice words for my newfound archenemy, I went. I gave Bernie Machen $15 to replace a card that hadn’t worked since he gave it to me three years ago. I ran back to the ticket office, drenched in Eau de Peterson, gave some new choice words to the incapable one behind the window, and I was on my way.

However, leave it to me to find the silver lining. Though I may have lost $15 and gained a new (terrible) photo on my ID, I apparently have an unused vending account from years ago with $30 still left on it.

Take that, ticket tyrant! My net profit of 15 dollars has foiled your dastardly plan, and the citizens of the UF community can now sleep easier with the knowledge that you aren’t invincible.

One Awesome Thing And One Not Awesome Thing

Awesome: Pitchmen on the Discovery Channel. Just in case 30 seconds of Billy Mays screaming at the top of his lungs and smiling like a forty-something housewife at a Botox treatment is just too short a time to fully appreciate his greatness, this is for you. And he’s based out of Tampa, which makes it the second ridiculous show like that to come about in my backyard, after the short but hilariously ill-fated Hogan Knows Best.

Not Awesome: Daytona Cubs Centerfielder Anthony Campana. Ian and I went out to the Clearwater Threshers game last night, and after 13 and a half innings, the score was tied. After walking two batters to load the bases with one out, Clearwater’s Fidel Hernandez flied out to centerfield, where Campana did a double-pump and never even parted with the ball, allowing the man on third to tag up, score and win the game. I know this isn’t particularly interesting, but I looked and there doesn’t seem to be a formal account of Campana’s epic failure on the Internet. I just feel that this should be documented lest he ever become anything in the realm of baseball.

Garfield Minus Garfield

November 12th, 2008 / #awesomeness, #books

If I owned a coffee table, this would be perfect for it.

I hear next week Mom's learning how to text message

May 22nd, 2008 / #awesomeness, #family, #videogames

Interesting fact about my awesome parents #4381: Today, they bought a Wii. For themselves.

How We Didn't Lose The Greatest Game Ever Played

February 22nd, 2008 / #awesomeness, #college, #sports

Great news, everyone!

Thanks to the benevolence of the God above, the heavens parted tonight and poured down upon the fields of green that we so commonly call the Southwest Recreational Center.

You know what this means, right?

The Red Devil Gators didn’t lose. Oh, it was glorious: I didn’t strike out, overrun a fly ball, or commit my usual fourteen errors. Yes, it was undoubtedly the greatest game I’ve ever played.

Now it’s time for the playoff push. I hope the good Lord decides to spring another 40 days and 40 nights of rain on us again – I think it’s time for some spring cleaning.

  • Who I Am

    I'm a nobody from Florida with things to say (sometimes).

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    This is a not-so-detailed account of my adolescence over the course of almost a decade. Here, I shared my thoughts about things of no real consequence while at the same time being reckless with semicolons and flowery language.

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