Cursive. That archaic mode of recording one’s thoughts.

I have been spending some small bit of my spare time trying to remember how cursive handwriting works. I had abandoned it shortly after graduating high school. This was due both to my block letters being vastly more legible, and the increasing uselessness of handwriting in everyday life. I do remember, as a younger sibling wanting to learn cursive to be like my older sister and her friends. That squiggly, contiguous form of penmanship that they were learning made them seem so much more like adults who seemed to have this ability to pay for nearly anything by simply swiping a pen across the checkbook. This was of course before the prevalence of debit cards which opened up a whole new series of wondrous mysteries where purchasing options were concerned1. It seemed so fancy and beautiful. I was so fascinated by it that I got scolded once or twice by a teacher for drawing lines between my print letters to connect them.

When I had finally reached the age that it was deemed reasonable to be enlightened by the public education system as to the eldritch secrets of what I was assured to be the defacto way of writing2  I soon discovered the hand cramping agony of each loop and arc. My mind numbed at the similarities of lowercase L and B, the capitals T and F had the same issue, and the letter X was basically a V with a line through it. And what the hell was the going on with Z? My technique was awful and my teachers went to great efforts to point this out. My L’s didn’t have enough loop, and my T’s had too much (which is to say any). The little hooks of the letters O, V, and B left me at a loss as to how to start the next letter3, did I just start them at mid stroke or did I bring the pen down to the bottom of the line and start there, either answer seemed wrong at some point or other. I never remembered to dot my i’s or cross my t’s and when I did it was because I had broken the rules and not waited until I had completed the whole word. When I tried to write more neatly I wasn’t able to finish assignments in time and was marked off for having my papers uncompleted. Continued years of physical and psychological anguish over the subject did not improve matters. The introduction of a typewritten requirement to my reports and essays helped to greatly advance my self-worth.

Why then, am I revisiting this ancient horror?

I wouldn’t trouble myself, believe me I am not a masochist. It seems there is no plan to teach it at my daughter’s school. Now, I really don’t think it is all that important. Quite frankly it seems that most of the people who I’ve spoken to who are upset about the removal of cursive from the curriculum are people who still hold a grudge about having to learn it when they were young4. But anyway, my wife has mentioned in passing that she thinks we should teach her ourselves. Which I feel ultimately means I am going to end up trying to show her how it’s done And if that’s is the case, well I should have at least something resembling proficiency in the task.

I’d like to think that the price of keeping art and music in her school is the loss of cursive I am perfectly fine with that. Sadly that’s not the case. Art and Music will consistently be on the chopping block, because just like cursive it isn’t part of the standardized tests. The schools are beholden to these damn tests in order to maintain funding and resources, and so more funding and time is funneled to teaching towards the tests. That’s a negative feedback loop that is draining all of the actual education out of schools. We aren’t losing cursive to laziness, we’re losing it to bureaucracy.

Anyway, that’s What I’ve been thinking about over the past week. How about you?

Happy Monday5


  1. I really do long for those days when I was a child and had no need for the petty adult realities of personal finance 
  2.  Apparently they didn’t discuss the matter with my Mechanical Drawing instructor who just a year later would spend weeks teaching us the importance of perfectly drawn block capitals. 
  3.  If, while in grade school, I had been asked to write the word “bovine” there would have been an… incident. 
  4.  And damn it, if I had to shovel coal when we were kids then this lazy, good for nuthin’ generation should have to shovel coal too, by gum. 
  5. Wow it’s been almost a year since I typed those two words. And I still love me some footnotes. 

I Didn’t Celebrate My Birthday Again This Year

My birthday came and went without much ceremony. I haven’t put much stock in it over the last few years. I tend to just go to work, because I am an adult and I have bills to pay. I don’t have parties because, I feel I’ve gotten to old to be fussed over and, as a grown up I can have all the cake and ice cream I want, whenever I like. Plus, when it all boils down, no one else really cares. I think if it weren’t for Facebook there’d be about five or six people in the world who’d remember what the date was. I’m counting myself in that number. I do appreciate the well wishes because, well you’d have to be a giant ungrateful prick not to. I may be a cynic but I am not a piece of shit about it. I have gotten so good at not making a big deal about it that the event slipped my families mind until later that night. I feel like I should have been more bothered by this than I was.

I spent the next day in the annual introspection and life cataloging, that I really hope everyone else does. This was followed by the general numbness and sense of disappointment that this type of thing leads to. I am amazed by the minds capacity to look back on decisions that you’ve made, no matter how good they were, and see nothing but a long string of missed opportunities and heart breaks. This type of activity leads me to be conflicted by the need to be by myself and a crushing feeling of loneliness. The end result is moping about the house silently while everyone tries to figure out whether your angry at them or about to burst into tears.

Fortunately the internet vomited up this before I got on anyone’s nerves too badly.


And really what, chance does a bad mood have after that?

Hope you all had a Happy Monday

Near as I can tell that wonderful animation originated at

The Morning Coffee Comes Late Today

The morning coffee comes late today,
Gone are dregs from night before.
The child awoke in sluggish fasion,
Two bowls of cereal and asks for more.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Kid to dress and bag to pack.
Out of time and out the door,
Sadly it is the caffeine I lack.

The morning coffee comes late today.
We hurry our way down the street.
To a morning finess group,
Cause she’s got some friends to meet.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Back home still no time to brew.
I plot my errands on city bus,
Oh there’s just to much shit to do.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Book store trip, then a groceries buy.
I’ve lost all patience with mankind,
And just then bagel shop I spy.

The morning coffee comes late today,
The line is long I’ll have to say.
Place the order,
The five bucks I pay.

The morning coffee comes late today,
Cardboard cup contains house blend.
I sit and sip,
My shakes now end.

Happy Monday!



Lately, when I finally get settled in to start writing, I’ll have my coffee on my desk, right where I like it. Nestled behind my computer screen, its handle just barely peeking out into view. The kid is at school or, asleep or, otherwise pried from the YouTube dispensary. The terriers have been walked and fed. The cats have gotten bored with my existence and wandered off to take a nap or find some small creatures terrorize. I rest my fingers on the keys, take a deep breath and, in that moment will realize I don’t have my damned glasses.

I wear glasses now. Only for reading, so far, and I’m able to get by on a cheap set of cheaters that I bought at the local Y’all-mart, at least for now. This appears to be yet another symptom of my progress into my forties. Along with the greying hair, the widening midsection, general fatigue, numerous aches and pains, and increasing sense of dread and anxiety about what the future holds. Apparently I get all of that, and I get to slowly go blind as well. For as long as I can remember I was the only person in my family that didn’t wear them. But, I guess I wear glasses now.

When I was younger I often secretly wanted to wear glasses. Thought they’d make me look distinguished or, more intelligent or, dashing or, some shit. Since they have become a necessity they seem to be intent on making me look like a doddering idiot. Whenever someone tries to hand me something I need to read things, look at some inane image or video on their phones or, sign some random invoice; and I have to figure out what the hell I did with the damned things. I spend several minutes patting myself down and, reaching into pockets. Then, once I have secured the fact that they are not in my immediate possession, I have to go through my mental atlas of places I may have set them down. Are they in my purse? Did I leave them on the back table? Oh good god… I hope I didn’t leave them at work/ home/ any-of-the-other-various-locations-may-have-visited-today!

Realizing once I get home at midnight, after having been up since 5:30 in the morning, and am going to do it all again tomorrow, that I my glasses are sitting in their little brown slip case on the shelf in kitchen at work, is a major bummer. In exhaustion all I can do is sigh and tell myself, “Well, I guess I won’t be looking at any shit for next several hours.”

It really is the petty complaints, and grievances of my life that are going to drive me mad.

Happy Monday.

P.S. : To be honest I really do look pretty good in them. You know, distinguished and shit.

Of Cigarettes and Alcohol

I was recently asked by a coworker, apparently out of idle curiosity, whether it was harder to quit smoking or quit drinking. I told him it depends on how you look at it.

When I quit smoking it sucked right away. It sucked for me and everyone around me. I was nervous, irritable, and moody. I was hardly able to concentrate on anything at all. I couldn’t sit still, and I couldn’t stop talking. In short I was a severe annoyance to myself and others. For months after my last cigarette I would still pat myself down looking for a loose pack. In the long run though, it got easy. I would find myself standing in line at convenience stores staring longingly at the tobacco displays. At some point I stopped thinking about smoking, mostly. I still have those few moments where I crave one, but I realize how stupid that is and it goes away on its own.

Not drinking was pretty easy at first, I mean once I got past the actual not drinking part. It took a couple of days to really sink in. Then the internal dialogue began trying to talk me into giving in. It became an unsilenceable argument about how I could handle it and I was just out to prove something. A never-ending torrent of utter bullshit, that still crops up on a regular basis. The farther out I get from my last drink the more time seems to crawl. When I think about it I now I still get anxious. I find myself from time to time nervously walking through beer aisles at stores. The worst part is that now, approaching three years sober there is still this emptiness. Like a hole somewhere that I nothing else will fit into, no matter what I try. I don’t have bad days with sobriety, I bad have weeks and months where all I want is to get drunk.

Because it would be easier.

In the end I explained it like this; When I quit smoking I stopped carrying a lighter on me. I still have a bottle opener on my key chain.

That’s what’s been on my mind this past week.

Happy Monday.

What I want for her

Last week I posted a review of the Daredevil series on Netflix. There I wrote that my only real problem with the show was with that female characters, and how they seem to serve as little more than incidental plot devices. There two things I’d like to address from that article.

One, I need to practice being more critical of media simply so that I learn to express my opinions more concisely. Seriously, looking back at it that article it seems like it was written by an adolescent spider monkey. It was basically the critical equivalent of just declaring, “I feel ways about stuff.” (Which is basically what I’m doing here. But, hey that’s what blogs are for right?)

Secondly, that stuff I feel ways about is women’s roles in fiction. Well women’s roles in general. To be completely honest I don’t know if I  care about this because I’ve grown more mature and can see a bigger picture or, did I decide to care about gender equality as a result of raising my daughter.

I think it is important to have strong women role models in books, and other media because our imaginations shape so much of our world view. I see so many female characters that are either simply there to be damsels in distress, sex kittens, or nagging harpies. Stronger roles tend towards emotionally inaccessible bitches. That’s just not reflective of the women I know, but it is reflective of how men I know talk about women. That’s not what I want my daughter think of as normal or okay.

I’ve known about inequality all of my life, in one way or another. It, after all, would be hard to get through even elementary social studies classes, without having some idea that the society we live in has been shaped by wealthy white men. I’ve always thought it was wrong, but I really never bothered to say anything or do anything about it.  One of the benefits of growing up as a white male is that you can opt to have a sort of indignant ambivalence towards some of the social issues. I mean you can say that MRA guys are asshats but you’re not the one who really has to deal with them. Same thing goes for pay equality or reproductive rights; you might have a sympathetic opinion that you’re willing to share but, at the end of the day it’s not like you’re the one with an immediate interest in the fight. Even this article isn’t really saying much. It sure as hell isn’t going to change anything.

I guess what I really want is for my daughter to grow up in world where the promise I keep making to her can be kept. You know the one about her having the opportunity to be whatever she wants. I want her to be inspired by people, artists and writers that care about the messages they send. I want her to live her life ad define herself, not to have her life defined by assumptions based on gender.

Yes, there’s a chance I am reacting to things in an exaggerated way about this. I may not be reacting enough. There’s a real good chance I have no idea what I’m talking about, because here I am, that guy trying to understand and discuss women’s issues. I am definitely rambling on.

It is, however what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday

Clean Reader, Lazy Mind

Recently I posted a piece of fiction in response to a writing challenge posted over at Terribleminds, a blog hosted by Chuck Wendig. The particular challenge was spurred by an objection to a new app called Clean Reader. The point of this app is to scrub profanity from e-books, thus allowing people to read books they might otherwise find offensive. Had it not been for this challenge I probably never would heard it. Now Mr. Wendig’s, as it happens, has a  problem with the app, as do other authors. I feel their concerns are understandable. I did a small amount of research myself and decided to do something I don’t normally do, in a somewhat serious manner.

Express my opinion.

I am not going to scream about censorship. I am not going to worry you about authorial consent. I am not even going to explain in-depth the obvious point that; if you do not like the language a writer uses, guess what, you don’t like the writing they produce.

I just want to say that, I feel, this app was born of laziness and fosters ignorance. Especially where children are concerned.

The masterminds behinds this idea were parents of a child who apparently was having a frowny-face-day because she read a book at school that had some bad words in it. They wanted their daughter, who was apparently a capable reader to be able to seek out books that were challenging but, not have to read profanity. As a result they got someone to develop their little brain child. Their way of phrasing this can be found on the apps FAQ page.

Did they discuss with their child the fact that swear words are in fact part of human language? Did they explain to their child the appropriate usage of language? Did they sit down a talk about what is and is not appropriate reading material for their child? Did they make an attempt to reaffirm the values they wished their child to believe in and uphold?

Nope, apparently they decided it would be better to invent a friendly robot to shield their beloved lust spawn, and keep it clean and ignorant of the nuances of human interaction. Why? Well probably because it was easier than, I don’t know, maybe being a parent. Also probably because they figured they could make a couple of bucks by helping to limit the access to choice to the youth of other overprotective parents trying to raise good little mindless, whiny, dullards in this immoral society that lets children have access to such dangerous things as words and books and ideas.

Now I am sure their hearts are in the right place. Granted, as I say that I am picturing a small, engraved wooden box, a chalked circle, and several candles that must never, under any circumstances, be extinguished. Their might possibly be several contracts drawn up in blood. I have a vivid imagination though.

In a way I can relate though. I have a daughter, who I love very much. She is a fairly advanced reader for her age and we make an effort to get her to read more complex material. Now, I have seen the library at her school, I have no worries about the content available to her there. At the public library we walk with her and talk about her selections. There will come an age where this is neither welcomed nor necessary, as I do intend to raise her to be a thoughtful and independent young woman. I have to admit I will be a little sad when that day comes, but I don’t fear for her encountering some awful, filthy disgusting language. One, because I don’t believe such a thing exists, and two because she already has heard and knows a few swear words because they are so available in society.

On the first point I’d like to clarify that words, are in no way offensive, it is intent and usage that gives words their weight. Language is not vulgar or crude, that distinction belongs solely to people. What I find more offensive than the speaking of any epitaph is the notion that somehow the decay of moral society has anything to do with the utterance of some, to be honest, quite hazily defined list of words and phrases.

Secondly, when my daughter began to experiment in the use of profanity I took her aside and explained to her that she shouldn’t use certain words, or phrases in public because they might offend some people. I told her this with the full intention of that under my careful tutelage she will one day know exactly when it is both appropriate and necessary to properly offend those people.

Those who know me in my personal life have probably witnessed my frequent and creative uses of various expletives; those who have read the content of my space here know I don’t often go in for gratuitous uses of profanity in my limited experience as a writer. I do use it but, in correct doses. Partially because I don’t feel it warranted to convey my ideas and, partially because, unlike face to face communication, the written word offers me use of commas and other punctuation to help direct readers minds where I would like them to go.

I am a parent, an involved parent, who wants their child to be educated and to read challenging books. Challenging books, as it happens, contain words and ideas that might be uncomfortable, that provoke thoughtful discussion, and will allow her to reach her own (eventually) mature and informed conclusions. Simply eliminating words from view, changing what has been written, or otherwise sanitizing text  is, in my opinion, counterproductive to that goal.

Worse, it is lazy parenting, and it is possible you will wind up raising ignorant, easily pacified adults.

But, that’s just my opinion; and it’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday!

A Sign of Evolution

I’m sure I mentioned this before but, I used to smoke.

Like a freakin’ chimney.

At the top of my game I smoked three packs of non-filtered cigarettes a day. But then I realized that I didn’t really have that kind of free time.

When I started smoking, at the completely appropriate age of fourteen years old, it seemed like one of the most socially acceptable vices ever conceived. It was easy to buy smokes with your allowances, because they were cheap and readily available in vending machines. You never got busted, mostly because no one cared.

Me and my buddie, Lefty and Sing-Sing Tommy just killing time outside The Gap. The good old days

Me and my buddies, Lefty and Sing-Sing Tommy just killing time outside The Gap. The good old days

I’m serious, literally not one adult gave a rodents rear-end when they saw kids smoking. At least not enough to do more than grumble about those damned delinquents with nothing better to do but hang around the malls in their black denim jackets smoking cigarettes.

That’s right you could smoke in the mall.

You could smoke pretty much anywhere. In restaurants nonsmokers would huddle in small, cramped separatist camps, the boundaries of their clean little world clearly demarcated by signs on brass poles, open doorways, and (if you were in a real classy joint) velvet ropes. All of seemed things seemed sufficient to ward off dreaded second-hand smoke.

Things started to get a little serious just before the time I was old enough to buy cigarettes legally. Someone shouted, “Think of the children!” and so they got tough on sales to minors. I got carded once or twice but that was easy to get around. Most of the Einsteins they had jockeying registers couldn’t imagine a seventeen year old being ballsy enough to present there driver’s license in expectation that they weren’t going to be paying enough attention to notice he was a minor. Either that or they really sucked at math.240px-No_smoking_symbol

Also I started noticing a lot more of these odd little signs every where.

Flash forward a couple of years and by the time I was in my mid twenties the tables had turned. These signs were practically everywhere and it was smokers being herded to a few scant tables in the dark recesses of local eateries. Gone were the tall sand filled ashtrays that once lined the halls at local shopping centers. My friends and I would constantly complain how it wasn’t fair. We talked with some indignation about some imagined rights of ours being overlooked, ignored, and just plain violated.

Time passed, I grew older. I became a homeless wastrel, faced the harsher realities of life. At some point you see that there is more to existence than when and where you can smoke. So when, after I spent sometime getting my crap together, the state I reside in decided to outlaw smoking in restaurants I didn’t take it as a personal insult. I did think it was dumb that it became a matter of legislation rather than the property owner’s choice but whatever. So it became that you could only smoke outside. Well, except if your standing outside the airport waiting for your ride.


No smokes, no gum. Now your screwed

Their really cracking down on this second-hand chewing thing.

Eventually I quit smoking. Not because anyone was making harder to do, because lets face it they’re not. You can still get all the nicotine you want at your corner drugstore.  I quit because it was bad for me and I was tired of doing it.

The thing that got me thinking about all of this was on my way to work I saw this sign I had never seen wpid-img_20150325_125033.jpgbefore. It caught my eye and made me think.

I started wonder if this was some sort of symbol of us evolving as a society. That we didn’t have to bother telling people that they couldn’t smoke somewhere anymore, because it was just expected that you couldn’t. That finally we have accepted that the health of the many, might outweigh the desires of the few.

It was in that moment I realized how fortunate it is that we, as a society, have finally sorted out where people can and can not stand while smoking.

With any luck and another couple of decades or so worth of work we can finally deal with smaller social justice issues, like poverty or civil rights. That would be nice. Maybe we could get a couple of guys to get some real work done with public education, you know if we can spare them.

Anyway, that’s what I spent some time thinking about in the past week.

Happy Monday.

P.S.: Can someone go get a ladder and help me down off this horse?

Photo of newsies smoking by Lewis Hine and is in the public domain.

No Smoking placard pictured at the right side of this article modified from
No Smoking Sign by Zubi CC BY-SA 3.0  

I Have Written

I have written.

For the first time in months have written something more than a grocery list.

It felt good.

I sat down to type and there it was nice, neat and fast. A few quick little edits and I had something workable. I really liked it. I saved it to draft and moved on. Next, I got started on a fluffy little filler piece. Something nice and bloggy.

I got about half way done with that. A good start for returning from a long absence. I wanted to keep going but, I had an early start to a long day in a few hours. So, feeling quite pleased with myself, I turned in. I lay there for a few minutes listening to a podcast that I had been meaning to catch up on, waiting for sleep to catch up with me.

That’s when it crept in. That feeling I had forgotten about. That doubting little piece of crap feeling I always get when I try to put myself out there in public. That whiny little voice proclaiming that everything I think and feel is trite bullshit. That I am nowhere near as clever as I think I am (which admittedly could be true but highly unlikely). That whispering coward telling me that they’re all going to laugh at me.

I strongly suspect that this voice is some bastard cousin of the other voice. The one that keeps telling me that it would be all right if I only had just one drink. We already know that voice is a lying prick.

I lay there floating in my little eddy of self-doubt, listening to my cowardice echo around the inside of my head, drowning out the story of a sleepy little desert community being piped in through the headphones. I got very little sleep, and barely dragged myself through the day; and when finally I slumped into my chair, full of exhaustion and loathing, I realized something.

I don’t give one turd what that jackass in my head has to say on the subject.

Now I return to the keyboard, because it doesn’t matter if I have doubts. What matters is I have written, for the first time in months.

It felt good.

Happy Monday!

Life and Its Little Ironies

Ironies, contradictions, incongruities, disparities, call them what you like life is full of these amusing little gems. Recently some of the small contradictions of life have been in the forefront of my brain.

For instance, I recently took my family out for a late Sunday breakfast. I wouldn’t call it a brunch because of the setting. It was one of those twenty-four hour, breakfast all day that I so love. Upon walking in, while I was day dreaming about the prospects of a country fried steak and two eggs over easy with a side of home fries and a buttermilk biscuit, we passed an innocent little gumball machine. My daughter took immediate note of this, because it apparently dispensed what was apparently the cadilac of bubble gum. By the time our order was taken I found myself explaining to my child that she couldn’t have any candy unless she ate her pancakes first.

2417434820_1cc7e9c0cb_mIn other words I was telling her, “No, I won’t let you have this wad of bubblegum, wrapped in a candy shell and impregnated with dozens of crunchy sugar bits. But, if you’re good and eat your plate of fried batter smothered in strawberry syrup, maybe you can have some later.” Apparently good parenting is about putting your foot down about what type of glucose delivery vehicle is acceptable at a given hour of the day.

One day I was going through the motions at work when it finally dawned on me; I was hired to do a job based on skills and experience that I rarely if at all use in any capacity that I have held during my tenure there.  Oddly I left a position which fueled my passion and creativity, because this one seemed to offer a wider range of experience and Bracethe prospect of better pay. While this has been marginally true I now seem trapped in monotony to ensure a modicum of financial security.

This startling revelation was probably induced by the bitterness I feel due to having resorted to wearing a brace on my wrist for repetitive strain. In other words I have started using a device to enable me to continue working in a field which is injurious to myself. I mean beyond the cuts, burns, and bruises that I have long since accepted as being part of putting in an honest day’s work.

Did I mention I sold my truck. That evil, foul-smelling, expensive mode of conveyance. That one and a half ton monument to my laziness. Yes well, I foisted it off on someone else. Doing so I bid farewell (though most likely not goodbye) to the constant expense of pouring gasoline down into an ever thirstier hole. I also am now rid of its ample cargo bed. See I have to move soon. I sold the damned thing to cover my moving expenses, but I sure as hell could use it when the day comes and I have to haul all my families crap across town.

I do suppose it is for the best in the long run. I have no excuses left about whether I am going to ride my bike for my daily commute. Ninety degree heat or thunderstorms be damned. I could use the exercise, I know that for sure. I might even lose some of the excess baggage around the waist that’s been pissing me off lately too

On a final note only a bit of fairly shallow introspection is needed to see I use my writing in a cathartic way. It remains the cheapest and most effective way I have for staving off my depression. Life gets in the way sometimes, and my little fits spiral outward. The tricky part is that if I fly too far from my center I become nearly paralyzed with fear, sadness and self doubt. Hover too close and I become complacent, lazy and unmotivated. It would lead me to the foregone conclusion that in order for me to accomplish something that makes me happy, the universe first requires that I partake in a certain amount of prescribed misery.

I suspect that life quite enjoys its little ironies. I have to admit it can be amusing if you look at from the right angles.

At any rate, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately

Happy Monday.

Top left image: Strawberry Pancakes @ IHOP by Ankur Gulati (CC BY-ND 2.0)