Tuesday, November 30, 2010

notes from the typing wars

- I've pretty much mastered all the letters, though with X and C, "mastery" is relative ...

- Hitting about 35-40 words/min when I'm on a roll. On given exercises, such as middle row review. Throw in the QWOP wild card, and it becomes a crapshoot ...

- Favorite word to type: "slowly." Not because that's how I type, ha ha, but because it's got a nice rhythm to it. Left finger, right finger, left, right, etc. Bam ba bam bam bam ...

- Am I touch-typing this post? Hell no! Everyone thinks it's all about the letters, but there's punctuation and capitalization that have to be mastered too, you know ...

- I've noticed some touch-typists on the computers in the library. They look so smug, sitting there casually and tip-tapping away without even looking at the keys. I fucking hate that. When I finally get typing down, I'm gonna be humble about my skills ...

- Favorite letter to type: J. Right there with the right index finger. It's so visceral, almost primeval. Damn ...

- The key to typing? If you ask me, it's "staying home." Don't let your fingers drift out of position, or before you know it, you'll be thinking M and hitting K. I know this firsthand: it's happened to me ...

- Sometimes I'm typing, and I'll hit the right letter without even thinking about it. Sometimes, even entire words (shorter words). Ever have that happen to you? It's like being in Xanadu or something ...

- I'll let you all know when I touch-type my first blog post. Believe me, you will ALL hear about it, and hear all about it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

silver tree

The last time I was in Seattle, I had a chance to tour the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is really a very impressive public installation. Probably my favorite piece was Split, an actual-size metal rendering of a leafless tree by someone named Roxy Paine. When I went to the OSP website to learn more about it, there was this statement:
"Camouflaged in the natural setting and light, Split reflects its surroundings and poses the question, 'What is nature, what is art?' "

Now, this is interesting for several reasons. First of all, it's the type of vague, watery description which seems so prevalent in art museums now, and which I would expect to find in a B-minus art studies paper. And second of all, it's not how I regarded Split at all. I just thought it was a beautiful sculpture, period. No ambivalence. I've always thought that the form of a tree is one of the most beautiful things in nature, and I kind of gravitate towards art that includes representations of trees, and this one was especially striking.

But I guess you have to say something about art, don't you? You can't just describe everything in a museum with "Beautiful, huh?" So if it had been up to me, I would've written something like, "Who says you can't gild the lily?" Even though it's a tree, not a lily; and it's silver, not gold.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

touch-typing practice

dall all a lass is a lad
lass falls kid laffs ha ha ha
lass is aghast
shaft lit aghast shit i can really do thos kind of
ha h a lil lad the lass kik ur ass
fads last as lids lag ha ha

(back to hunt & peck)

I'm spent! But as you can see, I've become a master of the middle row. QWERTY, you're next ...

Monday, November 22, 2010


You know, I've heard Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" on my car radio twice within the past week or so. And I'm afraid I'm gonna have to call bullshit on that. Why? Because the only appropriate time to play that song is late August, maybe early to mid-September. I suppose you could make a case for early October, if there's been a real Indian summer or something like that. Or in the setting of the baseball playoffs, because baseball players are sometimes referred to as the "boys of summer."

See, that song is all about wistfulness. It's about the summer being *over.* "Nobody on the road/nobody on the beach/ feel it in the air/summer's out of reach." It's melancholic, bittersweet, and incredibly haunting. Some people, I'm sure, feel pangs or heartache when they hear it. But not in November. There is no friggin' reason in the world to play "Boys of Summer" in November. It's like having Thanksgiving dinner on the 4th of July.

I don't know what it is with the DJ's these days. When I was a lad, being a DJ meant something. DJ's had wisdom, and integrity. They didn't just play whatever the hell they felt like, regardless of the season. And "Boys of Summer" here is just one example. I get galled even more when someone plays "Manic Monday" on a Thursday, or even worse, on the weekend. What the fuck??? "Manic Monday" is a melancholic, bittersweet song about going back to work after the weekend.

These are the same dipshits who play "Friday on my Mind" on a Tuesday. And I'm not gonna stand for it anymore. I'm ... gonna blog about it. And I'm not pulling any punches. You've all been warned ...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

bagging the haters

"What's with the bags?" you're asking yourself. Good question. Those are all plastic bags that I retrieved from the trailside during a recent ride on the Glacial Drumlin trail, here in south-central WI. Some were on the ground, some were in bushes or trees, one was caught on a fence. The photo doesn't include other pieces of plastic that I picked up and put in the trash at the end of my ride. I figured I'd recycle the bags.

The way I see it, there is one big problem in the world today: People Who Don't Give a Damn. They're known by other names in some places (i.e. People Who Don't Give a Fuck), but we all know the breed. They're not really committed to any particular philosophy or religion, though many go to church or some other house of worship for social appearances. If they vote, it's Democrat in one election and Republican in the next. Biggest day-to-day concern? Making sure that the Tivo is set to capture "American Idol." They kind of want to recycle but don't. Their kids tend to grow up just like them. They wouldn't go out of their way to harm someone, but it takes an awful lot to make them help someone, too. They probably account for, like, 30-50% of the current US population, and I suspect they're growing.

"But what about the people who do give a damn, but in the wrong way? You know, like Sarah Palin. Aren't they the worst?" you ask. No. Because it's easy to spot people like Sarah Palin, and deride and discount her, and in a more ideal world she would have little sway. But it's the PWDGADs who empower her, because they're attracted by her superficial folksiness and likeability and don't see the menace lying underneath.

Anyhow, that's the general problem with the world. Of course, there's a spectrum of people, ranging from the true couch potatoes to the Nobel Prize winners and messianic figures. By picking up those plastic bags during my recent bike ride, I have positioned myself up on a plane above them all. I'm, like, levitating up there in some Buddha lotus position, serene, with golden rays emanating from every precipice of my body, spouting wacky aphorisms about Reiki energy or some shit like that. Yeah, feeling pretty good about myself ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

american cheese

American cheese is kind of disgusting. I don't mean to be unpatriotic or anything - it's just a fact. Why the #%$&! would anyone ever order American cheese, on anything? Get cheddar instead.

short & pithy

In an effort to make this blog more readable, I plan to write more short, pithy things from here on out. I'll still compose the occasional doozy about touch-typing and other interesting subjects; but I think the ultimate key to readability, and capturing people's attention, is shortness and pithiness. Or ... I guess that's two keys.

There are two keys to capturing people's attention: shortness, and pithiness. But on top of that, you also need something worth saying. If you know what I mean. I've always striven for that, and I do think I have my finger on the pulse of the national spirit, but I also have to consider that my readers may not necessarily reflect the -

This one's totally getting away from me. Fuck it! Short & pithy, and damn the hindmost ...

touch typing

This is probably going to amaze most of you, especially given my blogging prowess, but I don't know how to touch-type. It's a long story, which I'll summarize for you here:

Back when I was in high school, hardly anyone had personal computers. And the only people who took typing in high school were girls headed for secretarial careers. So I really had no incentive to learn how to type (at least, that I could think of).

Once I got to college ... well, yeah. I had to write papers more frequently, and they were longer papers. But what was I going to do: drop a history of language class to take typing? Or take a semester off to learn how to type on my own? Not to mention, I still didn't have a personal computer at that point, and the Internet hadn't even been invented by Al Gore yet. So I just kept on banging out my papers (on an electric typewriter, no less) all through college. Though I did finally switch to writing on a computer, at the computer center, for my senior thesis.

1994: I decide to go back to school, to do pre-med.

1995: I start my post-baccalaureate studies at UW. Still don't have my own computer yet, or even an email account. I do get email after a couple months back in college.

OK, this is taking forever. Let's flash-forward to 2010: I've been getting by more or less OK with my touch-typing. I'm quite accurate - hardly ever make typos - and would estimate my wpm at around 35-40. But I have to periodically look at the keyboard when I'm typing, and that's a huge hindrance. And there's a chance that I'll have to start typing a whole lot (patient visits, etc) once I get a permanent job.

So, I've bought myself a self-help CD called Typing Instructor and I'm working on it. But it's tough! And I get demoralized pretty easy. I'd say the book's out right now on whether I'll become a real typist before I start working 60-80 hrs/week at a full-time job. Keep me in your thoughts, people! Just remember: the better I type, the more I blog. Oh, and one other thing: make sure your kids start learning how to type at a young age. Like, before puberty. Because once puberty hits, there's gonna be all sorts of distractions. All right, peace out ...

Friday, November 5, 2010

election recap

I think a lot of people are expecting me to blog extensively about the recent elections in the US, given my occasional political bent. But I'm not sure if anyone's even reading this blog anymore, so I don't see the point. In effect, I'm turning it into my own personal online journal, to refer back to from time to time whenever I get whimsical about the recent past. And besides, I've got more important issues to cover right now. See below ...

our amazing language

One of the cool things about the English language is that it continues to grow and adapt to our changing world. Here's an example: "sitcom." What started off as a shorthand term for a "situation comedy" is now an official word! That's pretty cool. And other words have followed, like "dramedy" and "staycation" and "bridezilla."

Some say that I'm also kind of handy with coining new words and phrases. Here's one for you: "BROadcast." You know, "bro" as in the slang term for a dude or fellow. A BROadcast is any program aimed at the 18-to-34 year old male demographic. Consider it and weep, suckahs ...