Saturday, April 30, 2005

Last Call for Help!

Tomorrow, I will be doing "The Walk for Hunger" - a 20 mile walk throughout the greater Boston area to raise money for an organization called Project Bread.

I am passionate about this organization and their mission. If you would like to contribute as a sponsor to me, click the "I want to sponsor Chris" link at the bottom of this post and you'll be able to make a contribution using your credit card online (I guarantee it is safe).

Thanks for any consideration and positive thoughts.


I want to sponsor Chris

Friday, April 29, 2005

Congratulations to Two Beautiful People

I'm genuinely choked up with happiness beyond words. Congratulations to Michael and Jennifer who despite 5000 miles of land and ocean, found each other. May you always find joy and happiness and may the miracle of fate and the strength of your love and determination remain strong and inspiring.

Now go here.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Disturbing or Funny?

Both, I say. I was providing technical assistance to an individual who will remain nameless in this post when I looked up and saw what you will see in the photo below. My first reaction (to myself) was, "hmmm, somewhat unconventional but they are just instructional dolls used to teach prospective nurses - I'll leave it alone." Almost immediately afterward I realized that a photo-op like this dosen't come along too often and I just happened to have a digital camera in my pocket. So, like any good nut case, I snapped the photo and present it to all of you for your perusal.

Though I am fairly certain that the arrangement of these most frightening dolls is purely coincedental comedic, there is a defintive disturbing aspect that can't be ignored.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Three New Haikus

It's been far too long
since I've written a haiku
the wait is over
- - - - - - - - - -
Going back in time
can't be done but in a dream
I'm dreaming of you
- - - - - - - - - -
Swimming with my fears
trying to make sense of them
When will I escape?
- - - - - - - - - -
Edited on Tuesday, 4/26 (8:15am) - This morning I was thinking about a friend and was inspired to write this Haiku a few moments ago:
You once controlled me
Now I have defeated you
My life is my own

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Big "O"

I'm sitting here watching The Contender and flipping through The Boston Globe during commercials when I ran across an outstanding article that happens to be about orgasms, more specifically, the significance of the female orgasm. In a brief moment of maturity, I thought I'd reprint the article (without permission) here:

Orgasmic science
By Christopher Shea April 24, 2005
THE LATE Stephen Jay Gould was quite fond of his nipples. As the Harvard paleontologist wrote in a 1987 essay in the magazine Natural History, the fact that male nipples, as virtually all biologists believe, are a mere developmental echo of female nipples - whose purpose in child-rearing is obvious - is no reason to think less of them. ''I, for one, am quite attached to all my body parts,'' he wrote, no matter how useless they may seem.
Gould made that argument as an entrée into a touchier one: He went on to suggest that the clitoris, and by extension the female orgasm, also had no purpose in evolutionary terms. In a situation exactly analogous to the male nipple, Gould wrote, the clitoris and the female orgasm were simply developmental echoes of the male penis and orgasm, whose importance to reproduction is obvious.

Gould's article (later reprinted under the title ''Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples'') ignited a war in the letters column of Natural History, though he was not the first to make the argument that the female orgasm serves no evolutionary purpose. After the anthropologist Donald Symons made the same point in his 1979 book ''The Evolution of Human Sexuality,'' the feminist anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy noted in a review that ''a gentlemanly breeze from the 19th century drifts from the pages.'' The argument that the male orgasm was a naturally selected miracle and the female one a wan copy, she thought, smacked of sexism.
In his essay, Gould said he had been influenced by the writings of a young philosopher of science named Elisabeth A. Lloyd. Now Lloyd, a professor at Indiana University, is coming forward with a full-blown book that brings his argument up to date.

In ''The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution,'' published next month by Harvard University Press, Lloyd summarizes dozens of evolutionary accounts of the female orgasm - and knocks them all down. Like Gould, she thinks the female orgasm is purposeless, which is not to say pleasureless. And she extends the charge of bias, charging that too many scientists take the male-centered view that the female orgasm is closely linked to heterosexual intercourse and reproduction. ''The history of evolutionary explanations of female orgasm,'' Lloyd writes, ''is a history of missteps, misuse of evidence, and missed references.''
. . .
Until the 1970s or so, it was thought that women were the only female primates to experience orgasm, which led some scientists to speculate that in humans the female orgasm served as a sort of replacement for estrus, or ''heat'' - an encouragement to mate. But sightings of give-away shrieks and grimaces among female primates - which tended, incidentally, to occur more frequently in same-sex encounters - chipped away at this conventional wisdom.

Even in humans, male-female coitus is an iffy route to female orgasm, Lloyd notes in her book. (She declined to be interviewed for this article.) According to research she cites, only 55 percent of women have orgasms more than half the time during intercourse, while 5 to 10 percent never have them under any circumstances.
The ''tremendous variation in the manifestation of the female orgasm,'' says Richard Wrangham, a professor of anthropology at Harvard, ''doesn't seem compatible with an evolutionary history in which it is enormously important.''

But this hasn't stopped other researchers from speculating on the female orgasm's role in natural selection. In his 1967 pop-science classic ''The Naked Ape,'' the Oxford-trained zoologist Desmond Morris argued that the female orgasm evolved to cement the male-female pair bond, which gave offspring a survival advantage. Furthermore, Morris wrote, when it comes to fertilization ''there is a great advantage in any reaction that tends to keep the female horizontal when the male ejaculates and stops copulation.''
Lloyd wryly points out a couple of problems here. First, connection between the female pursuit of orgasms and monogamy is not exactly self-evident. Second, the link between a ''horizontal'' position and the female orgasm is also less than ironclad.

Lloyd likewise dismisses the explicitly feminist theories of Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California at Davis. Hrdy, who been tinkering with her theories since the late 1970s, believes that the female orgasm evolved to encourage females to mate with numerous men in pursuit of those elusive fireworks. The evolutionary benefits of multiple partners? Not only would women be more likely to conceive, but men would be less likely to kill the resulting infants, since no one would be sure whose child was whose.

According to Lloyd, Hrdy too succumbs to the fallacy that orgasm has a strong link to procreative intercourse, especially given how little attention our ancestor males probably gave to the clitoris (other primate males ignore it). Hrdy counters via email that an alleged emphasis on penetration in the theory ''is [Lloyd's] insertion (no pun intended), not my assumption.'' The theory would still hold if females supplemented coitus with self-stimulation and other sex play, she contends.

Throughout the 1990s, researchers continued to look for empirical evidence that the female orgasm contributed to reproductive success. In 1993, writing in the journal Animal Behaviour, Robin Baker and Mark Bellis reported confirmation of the indelicately named ''upsuck'' theory. After measuring (self-collected) semen that flowed out of the vaginas of 32 women following intercourse, Baker and Bellis concluded that orgasms from one minute before male climax to 45 minutes afterwards increased the amount of semen retained by the female.

In 1995, in the same journal, Randy Thornhill, a biologist at the University of New Mexico, and two colleagues announced that female frequency of orgasm correlated with the physical ''symmetry'' of their partners' bodies, which in many species is a rough proxy for health and reproductive fitness. This finding, they claimed, suggested that the orgasm helped steer women toward mates more likely to produce healthy offspring.

Lloyd sees desperation in the sheer variety of proposed explanations for the orgasm. (She also sees fatal statistical problems in the Baker and Bellis article, which Baker, in an email, disputes.) Meanwhile, her critics see her drive to shoot down all adaptive arguments as quixotic.

''If the clitoris is an irrelevant organ,'' asks the Emory University psychologist and primatologist Frans de Waal, ''why in cultures that want to control female sexuality do they have it removed?''
But wherever the argument goes, most female onlookers are likely to view their orgasms as the late Professor Gould viewed his nipples. Purpose, shmurpose. I'm just going to enjoy them.

Christopher Shea's column appears in Ideas biweekly. Email critical.faculties@verizon.net.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Listen to Me Ramble

this is an audio post - click to play

NOTE: Audio no longer available; host site gone.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

At Home with a Gnome

as promised yesterday, here are my witty little Gnome writings:

#1
I’m Ichabod, the little red Gnome
Protector – of your little red home

I’ll sit here and watch over your house
While you do the newlywed nasty
With your new spouse

#2
If at times you are neglectful
and lose your keys at work
and your day has been so dreadful
‘cause your boss is a big jerk

Hide a spare key inside of me
your ugly helpful Gnome
I’ll be your sentry, and grant you entry
into your little red home

#3
It’s not the way you decorate
or the color of your paint
It’s not the way you furnish it
there’s a lot of things it ain’t

The only thing you need
for your house to be a home
is me outside the front door
Fred, the little red Gnome

#4
An answering machine message…

Hello, this is Ichabod, the little red Gnome
Tracy and Keith have asked me
to answer their telephone
they’re busy being newlyweds
if you know what I’m trying to say
So leave your little message
and I be sure they get it
later on today

#5
West Roxbury, like any town, has houses on its streets
And when you walk up to their doors
its people you will meet

But here at 34 Johnson, it’s me that you’ll see first
A smallish, redish, ugly Gnome
At first you’ll swear I’m cursed

I’m only here to greet you
With Gnomish cheer and style
Welcome to the Gagnons
We hope you’ll stay a while

#6
Call me Red; it’s my Gnome de Plume
I’m sitting in the garden
to watch the flowers bloom

Ichabod’s my real name
Keith & Tracy live inside
In this little red house on Johnson Street
the three of us reside

I offer a humble welcome
to our humble little home
and promise not to tell a soul
that you’re talking to a Gnome

#7
A Gnome rap…

I’ve got short stubby fingers
On my short stubby hands
I’m a short red stubby Gnome
I’m an ugly little man

But I’m here for a purpose
So stop there in your tracks
Keith & Tracy are busy bopping
You’ll have to leave
but please come back

When the hootchie-kootchie’s finished
right here on Johnson street
guest are more than welcome
just remember – bring something sweet

#8
A parody of the song “Just a Gigolo”

I’m just a little Gnome
34 Johnson street’s my home
I live here with Keith and Tracy

They’re newlyweds you know
just like two horny toads
they’re always acting kinda racy

There will come a day
the sex will fade away
then in this house, you may enter

But until that day comes
I’ll be twiddling my thumbs
Life goes on…without them

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

More to Come...

My blogging has suffered severely as a result fo the insanity that led me to teach on Saturday's (leaving me no other time to grade stuff except the time I'd normally be blogging).

I was commissioned by a colleague to write some humorous poems revolving around GNOMES and will be posting my comic brilliance sometime tomorrow.

Until then, the Yankees have been frustrating, my lawn has owned me, I've already received my modest yet welcome tax refund, the new pope chose the name Benedict XVI, it's been way too long since I've watched the movie Crazy People - it's one of my all-time favorites.

Since I've been walking/exercising and eating better, I've lost 13 pounds (YAY)!

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sunnyside Cafe

Have you ever totally ignored a local eatery for no good reason? "It's just up the road, I can go there anytime." "It just off Main St., where will I park?" "We really should go there...soon."

I'm a moron , this wonderful place in our own back yard serves wonderful food with neighborhood charm and I've avoided it forever. That is, until today where I had a delightful late breakfast/early lunch after church.

The Sunnyside Cafe is one of those places where you're bound to bump into a friendly face (I bumped into two people I knew), here alot of local chit-chat, and be served simple, no-nonsense food that looks and tastes wonderful (and the prices are great too).

When I left, I actually only had two bucks in cash but the guy peddling newspapers out front remembered that I wanted a paper. I regretfully told him that I was a bit short when he said, "You always have good credit 'round here, I got ya covered on the balance." So besides owing 50 cents to this dude, I got a long overdue dose of hometown hospitality.

All of this had be wondering about the expression "hometown"; does it exclusively refer to the town or place of birth or is/can it referring to the town/place that you make your home in?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Reality of Addiction...

...to Reality Television (and other tidbits fro my so called life).

First off, here's my TV Schedule for the week:
Sunday: The Contender, The Surreal Life
Monday: Fear Factor
Tuesday: American Idol, Amazing Race (Thanks Egan for correcting me)
Wednesday: American Idol (Results Show), America's Next Top Model, Simple Life
Thursday: Survivor, The Apprentice

I also try to catch Jeopardy daily, House on Tuesday nights, and some daily dose of news and an occasional baseball game when the Yankees are available for free on one of the million and a half sports channels on DISH Network (of course The Swan is off season right now but I am patiently awaiting its return).

Funny, I know I had another tidbit or two to mention when I began this post but even I think less of myself after typing this TV schedule for all the world to see. I'll just go now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Life Gets In The Way

Hi there reader. I have not been feeling great of late and on top of that things have been a bit crazier than I would like for them to be. As a result, my blogging has suffered...for that, I apologize.

Perhaps later we can chat but for now, I must return to work.
Peace and Love.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sunflower Power

  • Thank Heaven for a good Sunday Sermon.
  • This has been a grueling two week period and I am exhauseted.
  • I'm glad the weather is nice. Over the past two days I've walked about 10 miles outdoors.
  • Just how did Caesar's salad really get its name?
  • Clorox wipes are a great product.
  • Michael O'Mahoney is probably the best writer the "masses" haven't heard of (yet).
  • I'm embarrassed to say that I've still only read one book in 2005 thus far.
  • Can someone tell me the specific difference between Linguica and Chourico?
  • If everybody knows that nobody does it like Sara Lee, does that make her a whore?
  • I don't care much any more for Carmen San Diego, but where in the world is Daisy Doria?
  • Why are pharmaceuticals so much less fun when you must rely on someone else to prescribe them?
  • Peace and Love to all. See ya later.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saturday Blues

It's 8am on Saturday morning and I've been up since 6am. Know why? Where could I be? AT WORK!

I really love to teach and this class seems like a good group, but I am a FOOL for giving up 8 Saturdays through May 21st from 8:30-1:30.

There's nothing more to say right now and even if there was I don't have the time because I need to take care of some last minute prep for my lecture and lessons.

I miss you all!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Perfect Timing

The expression perfect timing was redefined for me today. At the college, we’ve been amidst a grueling accreditation process that has kept all of us busy and in meetings and others of us with the added responsibility of making sure all things technical (computers, laptops, A/V, video, teleconferencing) were working as they should.

So, today, after several days of on site visits and interviews, the accreditation team presented their preliminary report live in the auditorium of one campus while being teleconferenced out to another. A few minutes before go time, I am standing on stage doing a microphone sound check for the teleconference and just about ready for the go sign when of all things, the fire alarm sounds and we all must exit the building.

Here’s the timing sequence: I speak into the microphone and say “check, check, testing, 1,2,3,4. Terry, are we ready to go?” I then gander over to the control room, Terry’s arm begins to give the go sign and at the same time I place the microphone into the table stand and give the go sign to the moderator – then the alarm blows.

So the two to three hundred or so of us exit the auditorium (along with the rest of the campus population) and gather at the flagpole outside. Thankfully the weather was nice and after about fifteen or so minutes we head back inside and eventually, the presentation begins.

About twenty minutes into the presentation, while the speaker is presenting various strengths and “concerns”, she made mention of how one of the strengths is the recent investment in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system upgrade is wonderful and great. The instant the sentence was complete a loud thunderous roar diverts the attention of everyone in the room. Lo and behold the HVAC system kicked into gear and decided to let the world know about it.
Then, it was all finally over and many of us took a deep breath and were grateful that we can go back to our normal hectic routine (as opposed to the kicked up intense hectic routine of this week).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Shadow Poetry

This past Saturday the class I am teaching began. It is an 8-week intensive Intro. to Computers class. Just what 29 college student want to do at 8:30 am - spend 5 hours learning about computers from little old me.

I'm not sure why, but giving back that hour Sunday morning sucked big time.

I found a really cool poetry web site called Shadow Poetry.

If you have an iPod and are just about the laziest human on earth, there is actually a service that will do it for you...LoadPod.

Spaghetti squash might be the most interesting of all vegetables.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

R.I.P. Mitch Hedberg

February 24 1968 - March 30 2005

I didn't even know who Mich Hedberg was until about a month or two ago. I was flipping through the channels and stopped at Comedy Central as I typically do when I see a stand up. After seven consecutive minutes of laughter, there was a commercial break that identified the shaded "Kid-Rockish" looking comedian as Mitch Hedberg.

I wish I knew more about him and had more of a chance to see and hear his work but as has happened far too often in my lifetime, a promising comedian is gone too soon.

I would appreciate any of your readers who may know more about this lost talent to please comment and let me know more about Mitch Hedberg. In the meantime, I've found a web site that pulished a bunch of Hedberg's material; I leave you with the source of some wonderful laughter...

"Has anyone seen me on Lettermen? 2 billion people watch that show and I don't know where they are. You might have seen this next comedian on the Late Show, but I think more people have seen me at the store."

"I tried walking into a Target, but I missed."

"I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long."

"I type 101 words a minute. But it's in my own language."

"I wish I could play little league now. I'd be way better than before."

"I would imagine if you understood Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy."

"It's hard to dance if you just lost your wallet. Whoa! Where's my wallet? But, hey this song is funky."

"I played golf....I did not get a hole in one, but I did hit a guy and that's way more satisfying. You’re supposed to yell FORE, but I was too busy mumbling that ain't no way that's gonna hit him."

"I wrote a letter to my dad- I wrote, I really enjoy being here. But I accidentally wrote rarely, instead of really. But I still wanted to use it, so I crossed it out and wrote I rarely drive steamboats, Dad. There's a lot you don't know about me. Quit trying to act like I'm a steamboat operator. This letter took a harsh turn right away."

"And then at the end of the letter I like to write P.S. - This is what part of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated."

"The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how much I play, I'll never be as good as a wall. I played a wall once. They're relentless."

"When someone hands you a flyer, it's like they're saying here you throw this away."

"I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something."

"I got my hair highlighted, because I felt some strands were more important that others."

"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it."

"I hate turkeys. If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get mad at turkeys. There's turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Some one needs to tell the turkey, man, just be yourself."

"I like refried beans. I wanna try fried beans, because maybe they're just as good and we're just wasting time."

"I got into and argument with a girlfriend inside of a tent. That's a bad place for an argument, because I tried to walk out and slam the flap. How are you supposed to express your anger in this situation? Zipper it up real quick?"

"This product that was on TV was available for four easy payments of $19.95. I would like a product that was available for three easy payments and one complicated payment. We can't tell you which payment it is, but one of these payments is going to be hard."

"I was going to get my teeth whitened, but I said screw that, I'll just get a tan instead."

"I was at this casino minding my own business and this guy came up to me and said your gonna have to move you're blocking a fire exit. As if there were a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you are flammable and have legs you are never blocking a fire exit."

"I don't own a cell phone or a pager. I just hang around everyone I know, all the time. If someone wants to get a hold of me they just say "Mitch," and I say "What?" and turn my head slightly."

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later."

"My friend said to me "You know what I like? Mashed potatoes," I was like, Dude, you gotta give me time to guess. If you’re going to quiz me, you must put a pause in there."

"An escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You would never seen an Escalator temporarily out of order sign, just Escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience."

"I was walking down the street with my friend and he said "I hear music" As though there's another way you can take it in. You’re not special. That's how I receive it too. I tried to taste it, but it did not work."

"I went to the park and saw a kid flying a kite. The kid was really excited. I don't know why, that's what they're supposed to do. Now if he had a chair on the other end of that string, I would have been impressed."

"I was at the airport and this guy came up to me and said I saw you on TV last night. He didn't say if I was any good. He just told me where I was. So turned away for a minute and said Hey I saw you at the airport a minute ago. You were good."

I can't get into flossing, I can't. People who smoke say you don't know how hard it is to stop smoking. Yes I do. It's as hard as it is to start flossing. You seem jittery. Yeah, I'm about to floss.

"One time a guy handed me a picture of himself and he said.”Here's a picture of me when I was younger." Every picture of you is when you were younger. Here's a picture of me when I'm older. How'd you pull that off? Let me see that camera."

"I think pickles are cucumbers that sold out. They sold their soul to the devil and the devil is....Dill."

"Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only disease that you can get yelled at for having. Dammit Otto, you’re an alcoholic. Dammit Otto, you have Lupus. One of those two doesn't sound right."

"I was walking by a drycleaner at 3a.m. and there was a sign that said Sorry, we're closed. You don't have to be sorry. It's 3a.m. and you’re a drycleaner. It would be ridiculous for me to expect you to be open. I'm not gonna come by at 10 and say, hey I was here at 3a.m and you guys were closed. Someone owes me an apology."

"I get the Reese's candy bar, if you read it, there's an apostrophe. The candy bar is his. I didn't know that. Next time your eating a Reese's and some guy named Reese comes up to you and says let me have that. You better give it to him. I'm sorry Reece; I didn’t think I would ever run into you."

"I've been working the colleges and I always buy the shirts from the college, because they're quality shirts. But people always get the wrong idea. I'm walking around wearing a Washington U shirt and someone says "Hey Washington U, Did you go there?" Yeah! It was a Wednesday."

"Y'know I order a club sandwich all the time. And I'm not even a member. I don't know how I get away with it. I like my sandwiches with three pieces of bread. So do I. Lets form a club. Okay, but we're gonna need more stipulation. Yes we do. Instead of cutting it once, let’s cut it again. Yeah, four triangles. And we shall dump chips in the middle. Let me ask you something, how do you feel about frilly toothpicks? I'm for them."

"I opened a yogurt and underneath the lid it said "please try again" they were having a contest that I was unaware of. I thought maybe I had opened the yogurt wrong. Or maybe Yoplait was trying to inspire me. Come on Mitch, don't give up! An inspirational message from your friends at Yoplait, fruit on the bottom, hope on top."

"I brought a donut and the guy gave me a receipt for the donut. I don't need a receipt for the donut, I give you the money, you give me the donut, end of transaction. We do not need to bring ink and paper into this. I can not imagine the scenario where I would have to prove that I brought a donut. Some skeptical friend. Don't even act like I didn't get that donut. I got the documentation right here."
"When you go a restaurant on the weekends and it's busy so they start a waiting list. They say Dufrane, party of two, table ready for Dufrane, party of two , and if no one answers they'll say the name again, Dufrane, party of two. Bu then if no one answers, they'll move on to the next name. Bush party of three. Yeah, but what happened to the Dufranes, No one seems to care, who can eat at a time like this? People are missing. You people are selfish. The Dufranes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths and they're hungry. That’s a double whammy! We need help! Bush search party of three. You can eat once you find the Dufranes."

Foggy Noised Brain Cells

Too much distortion
Thoughts cloudy
Mind and heart
Lacking synchronicity
Burning confusion
Endless Complications
Burnt out
Alone in a crowded room
The screams are unbearable
I'm gone
Can I ever return?