Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The alarm rings once. Then twice. Then three times. On the third ring a sleep bloated hand lumbers to the bedside table, leaving a path of destruction on the bedside table with pencils and floss sticks flying in a desperate attempt to hit the snooze. The alarm turns off and a contented sigh rumbles from the bed. In 5 minutes time please return to sentence one and repeat.
Why did we even bother to call this little beeping menace an alarm? The inventor, ironically enough, was most certainly an aging 37 year old who loved his sleep and 9:30 mornings, which goes a great deal in explaining why according to Oxford American alarm means ' a warning of danger.' Perhaps Tony the Tiger is a little too terrifying to handle at 6 AM.
This conception is not the essence of snooze buttons however. I admit that I too have often looked at my alarm as a gong of doom, tolling out a last minute call to arms as the nefarious forces of the dawn, school, and homework march across the field of battle. What is amazing is that this alarm bell has an off switch.
Let us imagine for a moment that every alarm in the world has a snooze button. Forget about the fire, it can wait 5 minutes. Nah, the brownies will be fine. Tornado? No biggie, we can hold on a few minutes longer. Now of course this is an exaggeration, but surely this attitude has affected far more areas of our life than we would like to admit. The 'snooze affect', as I like to call it, is becoming far more popular in American culture, among teenagers and adults alike. Homework, or I suppose all types of work, is one of the most glaring examples, and the hallway of the high school half an hour before the first bell is strewn with dozens of students scribbling out essays and reading chapters they should have easily completed the night before. The snooze affect has seemed also to influence our disciplinary actions. It is disturbing to me to watch scores of youngsters, young enough to hide beneath the average chair when being chased, but certainly old enough to understand right, wrong, and the expectations of others. Still, when they cross the line, they are snoozed. They don't have to be perfect NOW, we'll fix it LATER. Apparently this is how the leading officials in our government were also raised. Let us forget about debt now, we need the money. Let us continue to fight a war where the alarm bells of irresponsibility have been tolling for years, and pull the troops out later. Lets keep funding massive gas companies now, cause we still have the gas, and when we run dry then, maybe then, we'll put our money into alternate sources of energy.
The time for then is over my fellow Americans. A society based on the then cannot prosper. We are doomed to be caught snoozing in the bed as our country crumbles around us.
I'm up, are you?

Monday, April 19, 2010


Woe unto the man who robs my house.
More specifically my brothers room, Faunus, as he shall be called here. As I clack away on a set of white plastic squares, Faunus is sitting outside wrapped in quilts, tending to a tiny fire he made with the help of his flint and steel, a tool he has begun to carry everywhere on his person. It wonders me that this should seem shocking and even dangerous to the average parent. Thankfully, I live under the peaceful reign of quite out of the ordinary parents, which suits me just fine as I become more and more dissatisfied with the ordinary.
And the ordinary is this: the conception that 'now' we know so much more then they did 'then'. Of course this is preposterous. Despite our college graduates and our pre-school reading programs we have stopped learning things and are now content with learning about things. Let us say, perhaps, that I wish to learn about a crow. Such a simple creature would appear a rather easy obstacle to hurdle, and yet present this idea to a hundred biology teachers and only a handful would even bring me within a hundred yards of the squawking creature, let alone actually try to catch it or watch it feed. I tap away happily on this keyboard and yet couldn't even tell you what a hard drive looks like. Put in this perspective our education seems perhaps at more jeopardy than it ever has before!
While the rest of the neighborhood fretted and worried with the power down, Faunus laughed, and then frowned when we received it again. He was far too caught up in his education, with emergency candles burning and a fire to keep us warm to worry about the thousands of emails we might be missing. In the long run, its the boy spending this frigid night outside that I will want covering my back when the going gets tough.
I can picture the robber now, creeping into the room, reaching for the desk only to be met by a well aimed hatcher to the temple. Don't tell me you learn how to do that at Harvard.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Zen #1

Gratuitously donated from my rip off calendar.

A monk traveled a long way to visit the master, Nansen. The monk found him by the side of the road, cutting grass.
"What is the way to Nansen?" asked the monk.
Nansen answered: "I bought this sickle for thirty cents."
The monk said: "I did not ask about the sickle. I ask the way to Nansen."
Nansen answered: "I use it in full enjoyment."

Be thankful for what you have.

Take it however you like. Thats why its a koan.

Tut tut, looks like rain

The world has been dumped. Covered. Redone. A million colors which reflected the sun so gaily yesterday are lost in a thick layer of gray. Splat. The paint bucket tipped.
"Isn't is strange?" Red said to me. "When its sunny outside, the teachers don;t give you hard work but when its raining, they make us do stuff! I mean come on! We're already sad cause of the weather!"
I nod. I agree.
To most of us, this question seems like an obvious answer. A rainy day is a bad day. We associate precipitation with such words as "Lousy day" or "mean weather." This is not surprising to me. Since we were ever placed on the couch and a cassette(remember those?) was slotted into the VHS, we were taught by Disney himself that rain was bad. Remember when Snow White bites the dust? Remember when Gaston knives the beast? Remember when Scar and Simbah showdown? Rain Rain Rain. And it doesn't end when you get into high school either. Here come the Uruk-Hai and, you guessed it....storm clouds follow right behind. I can picture a sleepy doorman with coke bottle glasses who has been handing out a brochure of things to know about life upon entry, and there it is. Number #7(we'll get to the other 10 later) Rain, as a form of liquid precipitation descending from above, is a sign of foreboding and disaster at the present or in the near future.
Now maybe you will agree with me.
Certainly Adam laughed when it rained. Nature's shower, nature's watering can, nature's drinking fountain. Surely ancient priests with sweating glistening hides would shudder as we don our rain boots shortly after they whooped and whirled and bled around a crackling fire, their only hope to bring long and prosperous rain upon the parched earth. In answer to their jubilant supplication we unfold our umbrellas and buy a ticket to a movie, rushing quickly from car to door, puddles splashing our ankles and faces with dissatisfied expressions.
I too scoff at these layered hurriers, unwilling to give in to natures pervading gift. I hope to join Gene Kelley on the slippery streets and splash my way through life, wet smile faced upwards to the heavens in a hilarity of thanks.
Why not join me?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Walking Dead

I wake to the sound of rock music. It is a strange sensation, to be waiting calmly in a tacit dream suddenly realize that Led Zeppelin has permeated your meditation. Realization becomes regret as I am dragged from sleep, the dream becomes reality, and I find myself grasping for life like a confused child. Most mornings I clutch it firmly, pulling myself from the tomb of pillows. However 5 hours is not forgiving, and I find myself writhing stiffly from the sepulcher. This morning, life has eluded me.
As I walk through the doors of the high school into a world of fluorescents, I can barely hold down my laughter as I se my own symptoms mirrored in the blank faces of those jostling around me. Welcome to the American High School. A veritable land of the sleep deprived dead. Several things tip me off, and my hand tightens around a sharpened pencil as I take in the facts. The average student here receives between 6 and 4 hours of sleep. In any given class 1 out of 5 students will be wearing sweatpants or pajamas. I see more coffee mugs on desks than text books. The American teenager has done the impossible. We have evolved into something new, a hybrid animal, stuck between nocturnal and diurnal, with less and less time spent daily on rest and increasingly greater time spent on schoolwork, or in more cases than one, social networking. Research tell us that to operate at their full capacity teens need a whopping 9.2 hours of sleep, almost twice as much as the average teen receives nightly. Yet somehow we still manage to crawl out of bed every morning, slog through hours of work, and in some cases even squeeze out 100's. Who knows what we could do at maximum capacity. I'm sure with a seven period schedule and two AP classes, I'll never know.

Its no wonder vampire books are the craze. Contrary to popular belief, its not because we have the chance to picture ourselves as beautiful immortals. Its because the teens in all the gossip girl books aren't nearly extreme enough. Paint me a picture of a night stalking creature, unaccountable for their actions, disconnected with the sunshiney world, and then maybe you've got a closer simile.

I entomb myself again at 10:30, satisfied that with 7 hours of peaceful rest the miracle of life will bless me tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Why do we cheer when we know that our teacher is gone? The word travels like wildfire through the narrow halls: Substitute! Substitute! Yet here I am at my computer, the class engaged in a silent and meaningless study hall under the cruel hand of one such substitute. I can't help but think that if my teacher were here, we would be laughing and chatting as normal, lines of healthy conversation filling this void now insufficiently met by a humming machine.
Embedded deeply inside the consciousness of every teenager is a syndrome which is steadily extending itself to all ages. The yearning for a lack of authority. We relish in the teacher who does not know our name, the note on the door which tells us mother is out, and the joyous tones of the otherwise dissonant school bell. It is what we desire that will truly tell others who we are, and a society of those unwilling to follow the rules when not watched is doomed to flounder in laziness. The class around me comprising of obedient AP students seem to fall like casualties on this battlefield of work. Our loyal band of 15 has now been reduced to a measly 2, as a score of soldiers were lost to the tempting outdoors of distraction, several to the deadly rounds of internet surfing, and my right hand man taking lethal blows as he clicks away furiously, a tricky level of Modern Warfare almost complete. It is no wonder that we are now watched from the dreaded MAC, a pristine room of internet surveillance where your every cyber footstep is traced. We are truly the one guards of our protection, and how can we marvel at firewalls and motion sensors when we immediately check our email when the masters back is turned?
My own guard has slipped, and I too fall wounded on this battlefield, work forgotten.


The curtain opens(all good movie theaters should have a curtain, in my opinion)and the film begins. It is scratchy, not digital. The camera jerks. The cast is huge, all the stunts are real, and the CGI department was replaced with a live zoo. You might even see the zits on the actors face. Welcome to the theater. Welcome to This American Youth.