Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What up, Dawg!?

Well gang, fall has...sprung? That's not the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind. Autumn is my favorite time of year, by far. The leaves are changing/falling, it's raining, and it's about time to find that someone to cuddle up with for the long winter. Not to mention the fact that you should probably be putting on those few extra pounds for the season so that you can face those harsh Midwestern winters. That means plenty of Pizza and Ice Cream.

Of course, that is not true. I am in the process of trying to lose 45 lbs. by Christmas. An unrealistic goal, I know, but the fact is what's the point of setting goals if the target is too low. There would be no sense of achievement. Okay, I have to go to class right now. I just wanted to let everyone know that I think everything is awesome right now and I hope you all feel the same. Word.

-A.R. Leith

Quote- "I'm not coming back. I'm over feeling sorry, so just deal with it. Find comfort in yourself, and know that what you have's not what you are." - Midtown

Saturday, September 17, 2005

If There Were Any Justice in the World at All, There Would Be a God-damn 7-11 Around When I Want a Slurpee.

That is all.

-A.R. Leith

Quote: "Lately I've been feeling dead inside; like my guts have dried up and died. But every night, I water them back to life."- Alkaline Trio

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dumber than a Bag of Dicks

Lately a lot of things have come to my attention that are both figuratively and literally "dumber than a bag of dicks". And I will talk about them at length, but first:

I would like to give big ups to the wonderful young lady who introduced me to the above-mentioned phrase. It never ceases to make me laugh, either for the people/situations it describes or the mental imagery it offers. So, thanks, El Dub. Both for the quote, and just for being you.

Alright, this one is probably going to get lengthy, because I haven't typed in a while, I have a morning to kill, and I am trying not to turn on the television. So get out your spectacles kids!

Number One- Picking your fights. (There is some saying about picking your friend's noses that I think might apply here, but probably not.) Personally, I think there are a lot of kids who are upset about the wrong kinds of things on my college campus. There is a local resort for skiing, known as Wolf Creek. At present there is a plan on the table for said ski area to be expanded into a sort of destination resort for the rich and famous. There is a coalition of locals who have come out against this project. That's just fine, I get it, right now Wolfie is a small ski area with great terrain that is very "local-oriented" and it has its charm. What I don't understand is why it takes some impingement on their valued free time activity to motivate the young people today to be upset about irresponsible civic expansion in the region.

Let's face it, Durango is a bit of a dump. For all the money being poured into development in the area there is a lot of shitty real estate that is going un-improved. If I were to be mad about anything involving development I would show a little outrage at the fact that there are many houses--particularly on the south side of downtown--that are barely fit for human habitation. However, because knocking down these homes to make way for newer affordable housing is less profitable for builders they would rather just raze previously untouched tracks of land and throw up a quickie development. (I'm not even going to get started on the quality of construction in the region right now...) Fuck these builders. For a town that claims to love the wilderness there sure isn't much resistance to destroying it. Alls I'm saying is that concentrated urban renewal seems more responsible than outward expansion. On the other hand the people here love the wilderness and seem to hate each other, and can't stand being close to other people. So it's a dilemma.

One solution that I like, and I think might have a chance, is for the college to buy up houses in town and use them for housing for upper level students. Word on the street is that Fort Lewis has plenty of money for acquisition and building, just not a lot for upkeep. Maybe the bulk of students throwing some rent their way would help out both the city and the school. I don't know.

Number Two- I went to see that movie, The Aristocrats, last night. There was very little actually funny about the whole thing. Oh, there was a lot of laughing, but it was more that nervous laughter when someone says something so horrible you cannot help but laugh, otherwise you might throw up a little bit in your mouth. There were three things that I found genuinely funny in the movie, though. 1. When Eric Cartman was telling the joke and enumerating the participants he used his fingers, which I found amusing because he was wearing mittens. It didn't make a lot of sense, but was cute. 2. An aging Eric Idle wondering aloud why the joke works at all in America, because there are no Aristocrats in the U.S. First of all, BURN. Second of all, it's kind of true because many Americans are dumber than bags of dicks and probably only like the joke because it has dirty words in it. 3. There was some discussion about how the sexual and scatalogical content of the joke just do not cut it anymore, so in order to continue to shock the audience new and horrible references must be included. So, to my mind, the funniest thing said in the movie was when Taylor Negron reminded us that we should not forget the terrible events of January 3rd...when he left his Visa card at the Four Seasons. It was refreshingly funny amongst the filth.

Number Three- I have started reading again. Time consuming, I know, but it also means that there will be a lot of stuff for YOU, dear reader, to process here once I have processed it in my little head. So, I read this morning that there is a not-so-new problem facing the city of Chicago. Apparently the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA)--when they are not too busy worrying about people's back porches--is systematically eliminating low-income houses with no positive change for the former residents. The interesting question, I think, that is raised by this is the fact that these people are being moved out of segregated communities into other segregated communities or neighborhoods. Now, it's no secret that Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the U.S., but what is the alternative. I haven't yet come down on either side of this issue yet, because there are pros and cons both ways.

Of course, you could continue business as usual, sweeping the problem under the rug and turning a blind eye to poverty and blight. OR, you could relocate these people by interspersing them into established communities. There are problems either way. In the former case chances for advancement remain limited, schooling is sub-par, and only the scenery changes. However, there is safety and comfort in groups. If the people of the low-income areas were moved into random houses and apartments around the city would their lot be any better? Should the CHA be responsible should their new neighbors treat them badly? Would the simple act of the move really offer any chance at betterment, or would it accentuate the problem? Like I say, I am not making any statements one way or the other, just sort of thinking out loud about the situation. If I am going to someday save the world these are the problems I will need to have figured out, right?

Number Four- Evidently in Columbia the Coca Cola company is implicitly involved in the terrorization, intimidation, and sometimes assassination of attempted unionizers by paramilitary groups. This has prompted several colleges and universities here in the States to boycott Coca Cola on the campus. Not that the kids should be drinking that much soda anyway--it's not good for you...Rots the teeth. I don't really know how to feel about this. These sort of tactics certainly don't seem to be limited to the soda (or "pop", if you prefer) bottling industry. And overall it presents a problem for my overall ideology on globalization. Namely that I think economic expansion is just fine, and will be kept in check if the people of developing nations stand up for themselves and do not work for cheap wages. That way companies can expand their markets and improve profits without abusing human rights. The introduction of force and coercion into the situation kind of puts a kink in my theory. It is kind of a Catch 22. As the book says, "Catch 22 means that they can do whatever we cannot stop them from doing."

I also think that arbitrary growth rates set by corporations are unrealistic and greedy. Making a good product at a decent price while treating your employees well seems much more beneficial to society as a whole to me. But what to I know, I study English which is basically another way for saying that I am in a very expensive book club. I guess I just want everyone to be happy for a while before they inevitably shuffle off the mortal coil. I think the re-introduction of the middle-class to the wild would allow a lot more people to be happy without amassing so much shit that just goes to waste in the end.

Finally- Whatever the case may be, I think I may be an idealist, but I am also a realist. I am also a "happy-go-lucky-misanthrope". I might also be a socialist. I just want everyone to get-on and have a good time of it. With that in mind I have to allow myself every day, in every way, to be keen to give-'er. Things can get pretty muddled pretty quickly, you just have to make the best of it and not be afraid to draw some lines.

Okay, enough moralizing...especially from a kid who's barely holding it together lately, right? I'll let you go, but still send me any topic ideas you want me to write on. I like to hear, and hopefully offer some different views on the world...

-A.R. Leith

Quote- "Andy, you have a very tenuous grasp on reality." -My dear Ma

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I don't really think I have anything worth writing about lately.

If anyone has anything they want to hear opined or griped about, you just let me know. Depending on how interested I am we could have another volume on a very insignificant subject. Just try me. I love to express my opinion about anything and everything. Even if said opinion is needlessly strict or angry. I think it's just fun. Go.

-A.R. Leith

Monday, September 05, 2005

Ten and Two

During my overwhelming course load this morning (remedial math from 8-8:55) I had a moment. Not the sort of shared moment that one has when they realize they are looking into the eyes of the person they want to spend the rest of their life with for the first time, but rather the type of epiphany that makes sense and order out of some belief or behavior with roots in our childhood.

The instructor of my class was likening the fundamentals of Algebra to that time in a young person's life when they are just learning to operate a motor vehicle. The idea being that going slowly and with caution in the very beginning would, indeed, be germane. While that may be true for mathematics it made my brain race backwards to the actual time when I was learning to drive.

I tend to get, well, frustrated with a lot of people who are on the road at the same time as me. When I am back home I hardly have any instances of this frustration. While there is a vast difference in the way that people drive between Chicago and Durango my anger with the situation did not really make any sense until this morning. I know full well that the pace of life in general in Durango is much slower than a lot of other cities and towns, that is a given. How else would you be able to justify everyone's acceptance of a nearly non-existent public transportation system? People here just don't seem to need, or want, to be anywhere in a hurry. And that is fine. That is mountain life and it is why many people have moved here in the first place. (My one exception to this forgiveness is when people feel that this means that their word--eg. saying you will be somewhere and not showing up, or showing up late--does not mean what it should. There is never any excuse for being inconsiderate or impolite, no matter how 'relaxed' the town you live in is.)

So why, then, do I become so anxious behind the wheel when I have to drive in the state of Colorado? I'll tell you why. It is because of my first day in driver's education class. (By the way, I am pretty sure that they do not teach parallel parking in Colorado's drivers ed.) My first time behind the wheel of a car was sometime in the fall of 1994 I believe. I was the first one in my group of three to get out on the roadways, and as I turned the Toyota Corolla onto southbound Willow Springs Road the 'behind the wheel' instructors first words of advice to me as a young driver were, "You'd better pick it up. People will not like you if you drive too slow."

"People will not like you if you drive too slow." What kind of psychology does that give a youngster? Am I to understand that my social standing will be hindered if I do not keep pace with the other cars on the road? As a sidebar, anyone not familiar with driving in Chicago--and probably any other large metropolitan area--should probably be aware that on the highway there 20 miles per hour over the speed limit is pretty much standard procedure for everyday driving. It is terrifying and exhilarating all at once. It is because of this driving history that any posted speed limit seems to me about right for the minimum speed to be driven. This is why I am often baffled and angered by people who lolligag around town going several miles below the posted speed limit while I, a very busy person with things to do and people to see, am stuck behind them because passing lanes are limited and oncoming traffic also seems not to care about my schedule. Also, as young drivers we had it on good authority (somebody's uncle or father or something) that the police in Chicago were not going to pull you over if you were only going 10mph over the limit, because the fine was small, and therefore a waste of time and paperwork. I just thought it was odd this all flashed into my head during math. That's all.

It is worth noting that if you drive in the Pacific Northwest you will feel like a wanted criminal if you drive just the speed limit. Those people evidently don't have much going on in their days and see no problem with routinely traveling at ten mph below the posted limits on the highway, God bless them.

-A.R. Leith

Quote: "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."- Louis Prima

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Education Schmeducation

I've been told, yet again, that I do not 'blog' enough. I don't know what to say other than, sorry. I'm not made of time, you know. Sometimes I have to sleep and stuff.


The other day I was playing tennis against my roommate at one of the local tennis facilities. (Where better to play, right?) On the next court over there was a young acquaintance of my roommate and they conversed briefly. Now, this young man was playing with two young women. I shall not speculate as to their relationship, other than to say that they may have been brother and sisters or similar. That is not the point. Not the point at all...

These young people spoke very properly. In this day and age it is rare to hear a young person speaking properly. That is why it took me only two guesses to discover how they came to be so well spoken. My first question, obviously, was whether or not this threesome had immigrated from Canada. It's a logical question, I think. Aside from the "Ehs", the "Oots" and "Aboots" Canadians are generally well disciplined speakers. Much more so than American English speakers who have somehow found it in their hearts to include words like "ain't" in the dictionary even though it is a wholly bastardized version of the words are and not or is and not. Frankly, it doesn't even really make sense as a word. But god bless the American soft-hearts who could no less turn out the lowly "ain't" than they could find it in themselves to throttle a three legged puppy.

They were not, and continue not to be, from Canada.

My second guess as to their diction was home schooling. Spot on. I was so right that I might have given myself an elevated hand-slap if that were at all an acceptable social practice. The simple fact that this guess was correct says a lot about the modern school system here in America. You may rant all you want about underfunding of schools and whatnot, but the simple fact is that if a kid cannot cut it they should not pass a grade. People should never graduate grade school--let alone high school--without a working knowledge of the world around them. That includes mathematics, language, science, etc. It is not like most jobs that people end up with these days really require much else from you than showing up and sitting still for a predetermined amount of time anyway. (I actually think that the requirement of a college degree for so many jobs these days is more a form of classist discrimination against those who are self taught or cannot afford higher education than it is a necessity to perform the duties required of the position. But that is a topic for a time when I am able to write more.)

At any rate, I feel that schools in America have lowered the target so low that it is impossible to miss the mark. In fact, there is no way I should have graduated high school with the effort I put into my work. Schools are more diploma mills than houses of serious education these days, and that is disheartening.

Okay, that's it for tonight. I have more homework to attend to.

-A.R. Leith

Quote: "Only wimps cannot handle broken hearts."- Piebald

P.S.- The blog spell-check wanted me to replace the word 'classist' with the word 'classiest'. I thought that was kind of funny.