Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


After Paris, seeing red — and blue and white and black and green

French flag

Bleu, blanc et rouge

A thoughtful friend on Facebook reminded me today of my cultural blindness.

Yesterday terrorists claimed by the Islamic State committed an act of war in Paris: eight known attackers, seven bombs, five locations, and a storm of bullets.

The death toll is currently at 127, with 300 more hospitalized, 80 in critical condition. It’s incalculably tragic. My eyes well up when I think of the bullet holes, the shattered glass, the chaos, the lives cut short, the families damaged beyond repair, a nation terrorized yet again.

Friends of mine posted messages of support on Instagram and Facebook yesterday. I myself changed my Facebook profile picture to a beautiful photo of the Eiffel Tower lit up bleu, blanc et rouge. It was a gesture so simple as to be nearly meaningless, but it made me feel good for a minute.

This morning, dozens more have added transparent overlays to their photos, blue, blanc et rouge. It’s a move familiar to us, whether it’s the purple of anti-bullying or the rainbow of marriage equality. Simple gestures of support. Facebook makes it easy to show we care.

I don’t remember a similar outpouring when 147 were killed and scores more were injured in April at Garissa University College attack in KenyaContinue reading ‘After Paris, seeing red — and blue and white and black and green’


like a tornado, gurl!

Saw this going around yesterday. Just want to say, I envy this guy’s fearlessness and, frankly, his respectfulness. I say bravo to all of this. (Except … I think the library is open on those eyebrows.)

Continue reading ‘like a tornado, gurl!’


‘Manspreading’ is merely silly, not a sign of the apocalypse

“Manspreading” is a thing, and bloggers of the world are desperate to prove it. Every day I see men on public transportation sitting with their legs spread, sometimes at a comically obtuse angle, taking up more than one seat. It can be annoying and look a little weird—but is it a swiftly sweeping global scourge that we must be hyper-vigilant against and merciless in our mockery and shaming of?

I’m going to say no. Continue reading ‘‘Manspreading’ is merely silly, not a sign of the apocalypse’


Mass transit is an unwise place to nap

Not until the bus took off did I notice the ball rolling toward me. It was about two and a half inches in diameter, pale brown. It looked like a dusty lump of clay, a fuzzy ping pong ball. It went directly for my feet. Then there were two. Then three. I shifted my legs to avoid crushing, kicking or otherwise interacting with them.

When the bus stopped and the trio skipped along forward, I realized they were stale powdered cinnamon Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts. They rolled too well to be soft and fresh.

(Image stolen from Maryann's Baking Company in Sacramento, California.)

(Image stolen from Maryann’s Baking Company in Sacramento, California.)

Following their trail toward the front of the bus, I saw a puddle spreading forward and backward along the ravines in the floor. It was the same color as the Munchkins. Coffee with cream. Ah, someone had been to Dunkin’ Donuts and spilled something.

I traced the coffee to its source. A woman seated near the front of the bus was reaching down to the floor, concentrating very hard on gathering up the donut holes in the clear plastic cup they came in. What is she going to do with them? I thought. Does she actually want to eat them, or is she just cleaning up after herself?

The coffee cup, on its side on the floor under her seat, rolled helplessly back and forth in a lazy half-circle. Continue reading ‘Mass transit is an unwise place to nap’


In matters of airline safety, syntax matters

You know people are going to jump all over the Associated Press for this news alert:

The Dutch military plane did not crash.

This is why syntax and word choice are important.

The phrase “crash landing” is redundant. “Crash” is sufficient in the event of an actual crash. The AP knows this, so their original tweet is not incorrect. It’s just easy to misunderstand. So I am glad for their clarification:



Don’t ‘like’

It makes me angry to see an Instagram video of an apartment fire in Manhattan with 86 likes. I know people are actually liking the photographer’s hope that no one got hurt, but that fire killed a friend of mine and left his husband in critical condition, and it’s jarring to see people “liking” that.

Bad news gets reported on social media, too, folks. Not everything needs to be “liked.” Not everything needs your mark.

There must be a better way. Why can’t we turn off the “like” function for posts we don’t actually want people to like? Can someone at Facebook and Instagram take a second look at this? Please. It’s ridiculous.


ATTN WRITERS (and friends of writers): Seeking essays on same-sex marriage

As you may know, I edit a blog for NewsWorks called Speak Easy, where I run essays and commentary from people in the Philly region. I’m on the lookout for new perspectives on same-sex marriage. Would you be interested in writing something? or do you know someone who might be? Continue reading ‘ATTN WRITERS (and friends of writers): Seeking essays on same-sex marriage’


The end of the summer

The September trees of Michigan publish unsubtle previews of the more fiery palette of autumn. Dashes of red and yellow steal out from the green canopy, a reminder of the yearly spectacle. The end of the summer.

Within weeks, these trees will explode into a celebration of vitality, one last hurrah before winter closes its hard grip.

We won’t give up so easily. Not without a fight. And we will be back.


The best way to get oneself out of bed

Sunrise came with an important discovery today: the best way to get oneself out of bed. Simply accidentally drop your alarm clock in the laundry basket in your closet. The trick is to do it by accident, so you don’t spoil the surprise. You may want to enlist the assistance of a helpful roommate or significant other.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, you will have no idea where the sound is coming from. Throw back the covers and look all around yourself in desperation and confusion. It won’t help if you utter a helpless and heavy “huh?” but it might make you feel better.

Get out of bed and look on the floor. Under the bed. Behind the night stand. As the sound gets steadily louder and more frantic, you will finally isolate it to your closet.

Root around in the dirty clothes, in the dark, because it hasn’t occurred to you to turn on the light.

By the time you discover the source of the awful racket, you won’t care about getting back to bed. Your boiling blood will have woken you up completely, and you’ll just head downstairs to make coffee and feed the cat, who by now has also woken up.


Putting the BS in BCS

When asked where we went to college, we graduates of Michigan State are often annoyed by the follow up question: “That’s in Ann Arbor, right?”

It’s as if, because we went to a big state school, it must the University of Michigan. That’s the one that counts, right? And even if you said “Michigan State,” it must be the good one in Ann Arbor, and I’m just getting them confused, right?

The prejudice runs deep, and it is hard to escape. It shows up no more prominently than in the rivalry between Michigan’s and Michigan State’s football teams. I don’t pretend to know a lot about the calculations behind college football standings (Roger Groves, a contributing writer for Forbes, explains how State was cheated yet again), but I do know a little about fairness.

When the better team in the eyes of the establishment gets more attention and more endorsements and more money, being serious about fairness matters. However, the Bowl Championship Series deciders have little interest in fairness.

I don’t know what they’re interested in, because Michigan, with a worse record than State, is playing in the Sugar Bowl, one of the five important BCS matches.

Our reward: The Outback Bowl. Steaks. Baby back ribs. Tobster tails. Bloomin’ onion. Heartburn. Heartbreak.

Continue reading ‘Putting the BS in BCS’

the untallied hours