Saturday, December 24, 2016

Writing This Blog is Still Weird

Seven years ago, shortly after I started writing this blog, I penned a short piece entitled, “Writing A Blog is Weird.”  At the time, this blog was four months old and I was astounded at the amount of hate mail I was receiving. 

This week, the blog passed a milestone:  it has had over a million views—a number that grows at about 100K a month.  The volume of hate mail has kept pace, and while about half the hate mail arrives in a language I can neither read nor identify, the rest I carefully read, grade, and return. 

Over time, a few of the blogs have been reprinted—most of them with my permission—while a whole raft of them have been reprinted without my permission on webpages scattered all over the world.  One has even been included in a textbook.  When I started, I never thought about the longevity of a blog post—a blog is immortal!  By this, I mean that no matter how nonsensical the post was, it is still in circulation out there.  I regularly get mail about something I wrote years ago. 

I have discovered that the absolutely essential piece of hardware for bloggers is a notebook.  Personally, I’m obsessed with Moleskin notebooks.  I am constantly writing in them for fear of losing an idea, having learned all too painfully that my memory is only good enough to remember that I forgot something… Perversely, if I actually write something down, I’ll remember it forever.

So, I have a whole pile of little black notebooks filled with cramped, horrible handwriting recording total garbage—notebooks that I have almost never gone back and looked at...Until today.  I actually sat for a couple of hours reading through years of long-forgotten notes.  I thought that I would share a few of these truly Random Thoughts.  (Actually, I wanted to write about the Battle of Agincourt, but The Doc said that no one wants to read about war at Christmas.  Okay, but next week, New Years or not, this blog’s gonna kill some Frogs.)

About half the entries in my notebook were about ideas for future blogs, most of which were eventually written.  The other half are weird little nuggets of brain barf, which are all too frequently about the idiocy of working in higher education.  There were some really bad jokes.  I have no idea where this stuff comes from.  Some of it I probably read, some came from drinking scotch with my friend Jack Wright, and some came from my own fevered brain as I sat in interminable meetings.  Look for yourself:

    In 1884, Thomas Stevens rode a Penny Farthing bicycle (the ones with a big wheel in front and a tiny wheel in back) around the world, and wrote a book about his trip.  In 2008, someone did it again on the same type of bike, 124 years later.    Proof Englishmen Mad?

    Most of New Mexico is just an ordinary small town along a very, very long street.

    It is simply amazing to think that by the time William Shakespeare was my age, he had managed to be dead for eleven years.

    NEW RULE!  Never again buy a cornbread mix that says it can be prepared in a microwave.

    The State Department should only employ people who live with cats.  You cannot possibly understand protocol until you have been owned by a cat.

    Watching this year’s election is like watching a rat give birth.  In your kitchen.

    Almost hourly, this university reminds me why aliens fly right by us on their way to Roswell.

    Why does the new Performing Arts Building look like a Post-Modern gay prison?  It is impossible to drive by this monstrosity without finding a new feature to hate.  The people responsible for this monstrosity aren’t smart enough to be the towel boy in a Turkish Bathhouse.

    In 1326, Richard the Raker of London drowned in a pool of human shit.  The records do not record which university he worked for.

    You have no choice but to believe in free will.

    Two cannibals are eating a clown.  One turns to the other and says, “Does this taste funny?”

    Compromise is the art of drinking slightly less poison that the person on the other side of the table.

    Worried about bad government, the framers of the New Mexico constitution included a clause that specifically denied the right to vote to “idiots.”  Unfortunately, they did not exclude them from running for office.

    Writing in a notebook is not an old man mumbling to himself.  It is a mature professor in search of an expert opinions.

    Why does the university hold anger management classes?  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply employ fewer stupid people?  True, we would have to shut down at least one of the Sociology Departments.  But, there would still be several left. 

    “It is always the best policy to speak the truth—unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.”  -Jerome K. Jerome.  Though his autobiography doesn’t mention it, Jerome must have worked at a university at one point in his life.

    Definition:  Vade Mecum.  A book or guide that you take with you.  Does this notebook qualify?

    In 2017, if Obama moved to Nigeria, he could run for President.  If elected, he would be their first white president.

    The Doc and I are eating breakfast at The Shed.  We are both having Eggs Benedict.  Hers are ham and Hollandaise sauce.  Mine are baked oysters and a green chile sauce.  Obviously, she loses.

    Once again, it is time for the annual History Department Choir Retreat.  This is when all the nutcases gather and allow the voices in their heads to sing in harmony.  Off key.

    What does it mean when I sat at my office desk for five minutes trying to remember the History Department Head’s name?  It didn’t really worry me, as I could have looked it up, but it just didn’t seem terribly important.  Does this say something about him or me? 

    Why do so many politicians claim to love America when they obviously hate Americans?

    First rule of university survival:  Beware the jack-booted pacifist with a cause. 

    Met the dean’s boyfriend at a gas station.  He was driving her car.  He asked me what I did for a living.  I told him I plucked chickens for Colonel Sanders.

    Emergency Room doctors, confronted with alcoholics exhibiting diminished mental acuity, have a simple test for Wernicke-Korsakoff Encephalopathy:  Holding their hands about six inches apart, they ask, “Do you see the red string?”  Since there is no actual red string present, the healthy patient will answer negatively.  Those who answer affirmatively are said to be doing what doctors call Karsakoff Syndrome Confabulation.  Everyone else would call this “making shit up.”    There is, of course, an educational equivalent.  All it takes is for one academic to say, “Can you see the strategic benefits of the Boyer Model?”  All the diseased minds in the room will nod their heads in agreement.

    At a banquet, The Doc asked why the members were called Elks.  I told her that Cecil B. DeMille once said actresses were called ‘starlets’ because ‘piglets’ was already taken.  She’s giving me that look again.

    Tucson is a town only suited to raising insects.  Nasty insects that need stomping.  Somewhere nearby, on the slope of a higher mountain is a community called ‘Hell.’

    It is a strange commentary on mankind when we store oil in salt domes to keep it safe while we print books on paper and store them in wooden libraries.

    Oh shit.  The dean wants the department to set new goals.  Since no one could remember last year's, we looked them up.  “Visibility, Service Learning, and Grant Writing.”  If any of that happened last year, I missed it.  Hoping we would set more realistic goals, I suggested: “Lie, Cheat, and Steal.”  We would have no problem making those goals.

    One of the problems with academia is that it is entirely too easy for idiots to hide among the eccentric.  

    There is a band called 1023 Megabytes.  So far, it hasn’t gotten any gigs.

    The bar is crowded with the afterwork crowd when the phone rings.  Five different guys yell, “If that’s my wife…”  No one notices Dr. Pavlov running out the door, muttering, “I forgot to feed the dog!”

    It was the existence of cats that prompted the creation of purgatory.

    Germanic anesthetic:  A rubber hammer.

    The old rancher took his wife to see old Doc Clarke.  Now the whole community knew that the Doc was an ornery cuss, not exactly known for his bedside manner.  No one doubted he was a good sawbones, but it was generally agreed that he was the kind of man who eats off the same plate as a sidewinder.

Well, the old rancher helped his wife down from the buckboard and opened the gate for her as she made her way into the doctor’s front parlor that doubled as the physician’s clinic.  Meanwhile, the old rancher hung around the hitching post out front and gossiped with a few old friends he only got a chance to see when he made one of his infrequent trips into town.

Suddenly, he heard his wife scream—and two seconds later, the screen door slammed open as his wife came running out.  She leaped down the steps and was the better part of a country mile down the road before the old rancher caught up with her and coaxed her back into the buckboard.  It took a solid hour to calm the woman down enough for the old rancher to return to the clinic and confront the doctor.

“What in tarnation did you do that for?” the old rancher thundered.  “My wife is 68 years old and has 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild!”

“So?” asked the doctor.

“Damn it,” exclaimed the rancher.  “You told her she was pregnant!”

The doctor pulled his cigar out of this mouth and looked the old rancher square in the eyes.

“Does she still have the hiccups?”


  1. I'd hate to think what sort of crap is in my old notebooks. I think there was a sci-fi story about people who could move very fast by accelerating their perception. The kid runs off with this cute girl and they start fresh on an island. I kind of ran out of story about there. I was sixteen and the two of them were fixing to get naked and I had no personal experience of that sort of thing.

  2. Tom King: "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything" by John D MacDonald.