Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My default TV watching habit is to at least check out the NFL Network to see if anything interesting is on. Usually there isn't, sometimes there is (such as the America's Game series, which is unbelievably good). If you watch much NFL Network, you can't help but see a bunch of commercials for Fathead. Fatheads are life-sized posters of NFL players that stick to your wall, which would be truly awesome if I were 11.

The reason I bring up these commercials is a throwaway line that they slip in to let you know why you can only get a Fathead online: "Too big and real for stores." Haven't you always wandered around stores thinking, "Man, why hasn't store technology proceeded to the point where we can sell things in here that exceed a particular amount of bigness and/or realness?"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yesterday should provide a nice nutshell of what I have in store for the summer:

  • 6:30 a.m.: alarm
  • 6:40: quick breakfast
  • 6:45-8:15: gym (including walking time, etc.)
  • 8:15-8:45: showering, morning routine, etc.
  • 9-12:45 p.m.: Bar review class
  • 1: home from lunch and a short break
  • 2-7: studying Torts, including an hour and a half of practice multiple choice questions
  • 7-8: bike ride along Huron River
  • 8-8:30: quick shower and microwaved dinner
  • 8:30-11: drinks with friends
  • 11:30: fall asleep to Scrubs on WGN
The main variations to this schedule will be that lots of evenings will have a DVD, TV, or more bar study instead of drinks; I won't always be studying Torts; I'll probably mix up the bike route a bit; and sometimes the Cubs or White Sox will be on the West Coast.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I had big plans to do a lot of blogging from home last week, but my parents' screwy emachine literally would not let me log in to Blogger to post. So it goes.

My mom called me home from Massachusetts a day and a half early because Dad had a fever and that was a problem, but it turned out to be largely a false alarm. So it was another week hanging out in hospice, reading, doing puzzles, and mostly just being bored.

Then on Friday and Saturday, I went to the University Honors College reunion at Pitt. This was a really cool event. The UHC turned 20 and invited alums from that whole time (and even its prior 10 years as an honors program) to come back and see its newish renovation project and to see how old everyone's gotten. I was thrilled to catch up with some people I hadn't seen in nine or 10 years, and to see some friends who I've only seen very intermittently lately. There was some talk of having this event every several years, and I hope those plans come off.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My lovely vacation continues here in Billerica. I should note that while most normal human beings would of course pronounce this bill-AIR-rick-uh, the locals say bəl-RICK-kuh. Then again, the woman in Dunkin Donuts this morning asked me a question that I couldn't comprehend in the slightest, and on the second try (plus context) I identified as "creme and sugar?" But I'd swear that the first time she said it, she didn't use a single phoneme that I normally associate with those words.

Yesterday I biked the nine-mile roundtrip on the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord, saw the Old North Bridge, and then went to Grindhouse, which was awesome. Today I got up ridiculously early to bike the Minuteman Bikeway, which is a 21-mile roundtrip from Bedford to Cambridge. That may have been a bit ambitious, but I can still walk, and I do have feeling back in my hands and wrists now.

Then I went to Lowell, which was kind of a history expatriate homecoming. You see, as a grad student in U.S. social history in the late '90s, there was no avoiding the Lowell mill girls--Yankee women who worked the Lowell textile mills in the 1830s and 1840s. Not only were they women working outside the house way before that tended to happen (especially for women from good families), but they were also proto-labor activists of sorts. Taking all these facts together, any good U.S. social historian gets their panties all in bunch and swoon at the mere thought of the Lowell mill girls. My complete and utter boredom in the face of phenomena such as the Lowell mill girls should have told me something early on in grad school, but I guess I was a bit thick about these things.

The biggest threat to my tranquility the last several days has happened every time I get into the driver's seat of my car. There are two distinct problems, and I'll treat them separately.

One is that I hate Massachusetts drivers. Now, I'll admit that every place has bad drivers, and every place thinks it has the best drivers or the worst drivers. Michigan is no slouch here--this probably has to do with the state-wide delusion that the state legislature has banned the use of the turn signal. It hasn't. I looked it up. I'll also note that as I believe Anna Karenina said, all good drivers are the same while all bad drivers are bad in their own way. The Massachusetts version is that drivers turning left here have the right of way. And by "have" I mean "aggressively assert". They'll put up with 25 mph meandering country roads, but they'll be damned if they'll wait until no one is bearing down upon them before taking their God-given right to turn left RIGHT NOW.

Two is 25 mph meandering country roads. The roads here are a mess. If you want to drive around here, you should know that all roads are required to change names every mile or so, and you usually won't be informed. Any numbered road is required to move to a different road periodically, and you may or may not be informed. You know how most state roads will reassure you every so often that you're on that road? Not here. If you assume you're on the correct road just because you were on the correct road and have continued to drive straight, you will probably end up at least 10 miles in the wrong direction. Mapquest and Google Maps will not help you. Sure you can print them out, but every time the directions say "Continue on x", add 10 minutes to your expected travel time for you to figure out what that should mean, then figure out the hard way what it actually means, then struggle to find a place to turn around. Oh, and despite that struggle, I've decided that Massachusetts is no longer the Bay State, but from here on out will instead be the U-Turn State.

For all that, don't feel too sorry for me, because I'm still having a heaping helping of relax-y goodness.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I think I could live in North Billerica, Massachusetts, forever if it were always May. If anyone ever hears about them cancelling winter in New England, please let me know and I'll act accordingly. I'm here visiting Tim (USC roommate, not Michigan roommate), but mostly I'm here to unwind. You see, I graduated on Saturday, and then I have to face another week at home starting on Monday and bar prep starting the following Wednesday. So 13 hours on the road yesterday and 11 more on Monday seemed like a small price to pay to find somewhere where I could hide from life for a little bit. Tim is very busy with school stuff this week (being both a teacher and an M.F.A. candidate), so I'm largely on my own.

So far so good. Despite not seeing any other bikes anywhere at all, the town is very bikeable and I put in about three miles going to the Post Office, Starbucks, lunch, and a little bit of exploring. I also spent several hours in Starbucks reading the first half of a book that I've been meaning to get around to for years. Now I'm back at Tim's fabulous new townhouse, on the deck overlooking the Concord River. I can hear a few birds, one distant lawnmower, and the natural river flow back here, and that's about it. In fact, I should wrap this up and get back to that shortly.

As I mentioned, I graduated on Saturday--hooray!! I still have some independent study obligations that will carry into the summer, but unlike most of my slacker classmates (I don't mean they're all slackers; I mean of the ones who are) it's not my fault because the work I'm supposed to be doing is just now becoming available. Other than that, the tests are done, the papers are in, and now I just have to pass the dreaded California bar.

But in the meantime, I'm off to Lexington and Concord tomorrow, and hopefully Newport and Pawtucket on Sunday, and a whole lot of relaxation in between.

Oh, and I should mention, finally, that it's been a good couple of weeks for the Wright men in generally--last Wednesday my brother became the junior planner for Lancaster County. I suspect that life among the Amish will never be the same again.