Tag Archives: geek

Moving On Up

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In other news, I have a phone that works.

I’ve had a phone. I’ve used Tracfone since I turned sixteen. That phone was the most exciting present I got that year, and I was very grateful for it. Now I could keep in easier contact with my parents when I was at school and coordinate rides when I went off with my friends. It was an exciting day for me.

The older I got, though, the more people I had to keep in contact with. And as other phones got progressively more advanced than Tracfone could handle, the more it cost me to communicate with others. Messages from my friends with iPhone cost double. Group texts used up about 2 minutes each for each text I got. And Tracfone’s coverage got progressively worse, with dropped calls, a billion dead spots, and dropped texts, each costing me a little of the amount I’d paid for a minutes card. Also, the Tracfone models are all very buggy, limited, and touchy, especially the last one I bought. You get what you pay for.

Then I heard about Republic Wireless, which offers unlimited texts and calls at $10 a month and no contract.

Unbelievable, I know, but I did my research, interviewed people who signed up, and decided to use my graduation gift money to buy a phone.

Now I have a phone. A real, honest-to-goodness phone. That actually makes calls. And sends text messages. And has a functional camera. And…and…it has a compass in the stock…and this thing which tells time.

I’m pretty excited.

I hope it’s not too good to be true.

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Shopping

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I’m in a dangerous line of work for a book worm. I work in a library.

I’m not sure if that makes me a librarian. I think you need a degree to earn that title, which is a degree I’m not planning on getting, at least for the time being. Just for fun, let’s call me a librarian. Yes, let’s.

My job is to find all the things. The missing things. The found things that got lost and wandered into the wrong place. The things that decided to be tricksy and stand in the wrong order in line.

I also make lists of things. I make lists of the things that are really, really lost and don’t seem to want to come home. I give this list to my supervisor at some point.

At some point.

But in the process of looking for the little lost books, I get…distracted. Perhaps this is a rookie mistake. But especially when I’m wandering through the section of kid’s books or health books or cook books or psychology books or knitting books I…well I have trouble. Their covers are so enticing. Their back-cover information so fascinating. Their tables of contents so juicy, I want to take a bite.

But I can’t. I have to persevere and ignore my hyperactive imagination, rubbing my hands together to ward off the frostbite in those meat-locker temperatures. I think about call numbers and barcodes. Nothing shuts my imagination down like a number.  

Nevertheless, I came home with a huge stack of books yesterday. One of the job’s perks is that we get first pick. If we see something we like, we get to take it with us and check it out to ourselves, stamp it ourselves, and wish ourselves a nice day without having to go through a mediator. It’s like shopping, but everything is free. You just have to bring it back when you’re done with it.

But the stack will grow. And that’s what I’m worried about. 

Call Me Old-Fashioned

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My father gave me a tablet for Christmas. I love this little gadget. I carry it around with me everywhere. It has a keyboard, so I even use it for class notes, since looking at a screen keeps me awake better than staring at paper. It helps me stay in contact with people throughout the day. I can use it for Skype calls and tweeting and all those modern-y things I do these days.

This was all fine and dandy until the battery slipped away.

I had lunch plans today that were interrupted by a rescheduled event. I tried to call the girl I was meeting and she didn’t answer, and her voicemail inbox was full. I found out later that the phone’s volume was all the way up, but still didn’t make any noise. So the poor girl waited and waited but didn’t know where I was.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I pulled out my tablet with the purpose of sending her an email explaining where I was. The battery had died, so there went that idea.

Despite all the gadgets and gizmos at my disposal, I still was unable to communicate with the girl I most needed to reach at that moment.

And I couldn’t type my notes in class. Thank goodness I had a trusty analogue notebook and pen with me.

I love my tablet. It’s made life easier for me. It’s shiny and sleek and nerdy and portable, which will make traveling this summer a treat. I use it as a planner and a notebook and a means of communication. But when the battery goes, it’s useless.

I took it back to my room and charged it up. It still works just fine (yes, Daddy, I knew you’d be worried). It just chose an inopportune moment to take a nap.

Yes, my friends, I still love paper. Technology has its manifold benefits, but for me, paper will never lose its charm. 

Forth, and Fear No Darkness

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Here we are. On the eve of a nine month battle.

Some of us have gone to bed early, so as to face tomorrow with a bit more wakefulness than they’d have otherwise. Some are stretching, loosening their muscles and relaxing before hitting the hay. Some are drinking tea and reading. Others are on Facebook, alerting the world to the fact that classes begin tomorrow. I’m doing the same thing, but on a blog.

You’d think that after four years, I’d know what to expect on the first day of classes. But I don’t. I have an internship, but the people at the place where I’m interning haven’t told me anything about where I need to be or when or if there are meetings I need to attend or what. So I’m just going to show up bright and early tomorrow morning and hope that they’ll tell me what to do.

Also, my books might not arrive in the mail for another day or so. This will make doing homework a challenge.

Overarching the uncertainty is the knowledge that every time I attend a special campus event, like the opening services or daily chapel, it is one of the last times I will experience that event. The knowledge that graduation is coming. The knowledge that the future, vast and laden with possibility, is coming and coming quickly.  

Yes. Yes I am intimidated.

But I know that everything will resolve itself the way it should.

And that is an encouraging thought. 

Six

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Never Be Normal

What is normal, anyway?

Starting around seventh grade, the pressure to be “normal” becomes a harsh and heavy reality. No one’s entirely sure what the standard of true normalcy is, but boy, if you deviate from that standard for even a moment, you’re toast.

Delightfully catch-22, isn’t it?

Yes, sir, the powers that be among your set of peers will be doing just that—peering over your shoulder while you draw monsters in your history notes; peering at your outfits to see if they measure up; peering at your grades to see if they’re too high or too low; peering at what you choose to laugh at or not laugh at. From seventh grade onward, you will be judged. By everyone. And if the masses deem you “abnormal,” prepare for immediate ostracization.

The wonderful thing is, that once you are kicked out of the spheres of possible popularity (and you will be, if you choose to be yourself), you will find the Others. Others who like the same books that you do. Others that still think old movies are cool. Others who whistle loudly as they walk down the sidewalk. Others who understand, because they think the same thing. Others who may look at you a little oddly when you laugh really loudly at something that wasn’t actually funny, but they like you anyway. Others who are “not normal.” Suddenly those who accused you of non-normalcy are the weird ones.

And then you realize that there never is, nor will there ever be, a “normal” person. Because we’re all different. Yes, several of us overlap in terms of tastes and appearance, and those who do tend to flock together, but we’re all different. There are jocks who love basketball and other jocks who like baseball. There are geeks who prefer The Original Series to The Next Generation. If there were some sort of mold that we all fit into, we’d be a planet of automatons. The chaos reigning on planet Earth is a testament to the fact that we most definitely are not.

I’m an individual. And so are you.

I figured out a long time ago that if I tried to fit in, I’d be miserable. I’d be miserable because God didn’t make me to be just like anybody else. I cannot be melted down and poured into a mold—anybody’s mold—because my shape, my mind, my heart, and my path are all unique. That’s the way God made the world. A billion different people on a billion different, interconnecting paths.

I am me. I cannot be normal. That is the way it is. The minute I am accused of being “normal,” I will halt everything and reevaluate my life. If I cease to be odd, than I have ceased to be myself.

And that just won’t do.

The Epitome of Epic

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This one’s going to be short. I’ve noticed in looking at my blog stats that I don’t get that many blog views during the summer, so I don’t feel as much pressure to crank out awesomeness every single night. Today will be show-and-tell time. I’m warning you now so if you think this will be boring, you can go ahead and leave. I won’t be offended.

Okay. See this?

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This book doesn’t hit the shelves until October.

This book was written by one of my favorite authors of all time, Lemony Snicket. While my school chums growing up were obsessing over video games and/or sports and/or makeup and/or boys, I was devouring the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. Those books are the most surprisingly intricate children’s books ever written. They’re clever. They’re intelligent. They’re well-crafted. They have a good story. And every book is a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t make sense—at all—until you get to The End—which is the title of the last book. Even then, there were several points left deliberately ambiguous by the author, who is very ambiguous himself. His real name is Daniel Handler—part of the series’ mystique is that the author never shows his face and only drops hints as to his entirely fictional murky past. After the Series was over, all the Snicketites adopted other fandoms, abandoning hope that there might ever be an explanation of who Beatrice really was, or what happened to the Quagmires, or what that question-mark shaped sea vessel had anything to do with VFD—and what on earth was VFD anyway?

But, much to our surprise and delight, Snicket started writing again. A prequel series designed to answer our questions by asking a lot of wrong ones.

My awesome coworker and comrade in nerddom went to a book expo last week and met all kinds of interesting people, including Ted Dekker—and she even waited in line to get me a signed copy of Snicket’s latest book. Yes, ladies and gents, this book is signed. With a short, quasi-personal message addressed to me. By the author. Not just any author—Lemony stinkin’ SNICKET.

To my awesome coworker and friend:  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU OH MY GOODNESS THANK YOU AND YOU ARE EXCEEDINGLY AWESOME. 

Okay, maybe I’m alone on this fan-boat. But, frankly, I don’t care. I cannot hear you scoffing over the sound of my flipping pages in this book that has not yet been published.

 

Antiquity

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There’s something about old books.

It’s undefinable, this something. Maybe it’s the smell: that odor of incense and burning leaves, mixed with the smell of ink—if ink has a smell.

Or maybe it’s the battered edges—the dog-eared pages, the pencil scribblings in the margins, the pages that are torn or missing.

Maybe it’s the covers. Some have finger prints on the dust jackets. Some are bent, or have that book “overbite” where the front cover juts out ahead of the bottom one. Some were bound in leather in the 1920s or earlier. Some are paperbacks.

Oddly, some used books are untouched. No bends, scratches, torn pages—they even have the original price tags. The books that no one has read are perhaps the saddest.

Maybe it’s that every time you pick up a used book, you pick up a part of someone else’s journey. Who knows what the last owner was thinking when he bought that book? Was he mourning the death of a loved one as he thumbed through that collection of Sandburg poems? Was she about to give Anna Karenina to her best friend when she discovered she already had a copy? When that student made that notation in the margin of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, had she eaten that night? How many hands has this book, this story, been passed through?

How many stories has this story been a part of?

Sometimes I wonder if, in the years to come, I’ll amble through a used books store and find a book I’ve written on a shelf. I hope that book will be dog-eared and underlined and bent, with signs of being carried around in pockets and purses, mulled over, re-read, and shared with dozens of people. I don’t care if it’s not on the best seller list. If one person—only one—liked my story enough to it a part of theirs, then, well, that’s enough.

An old book is simply that—an old book—a shell with words. But this undefinable “something” is the story within—and the stories we all hope to write for ourselves.

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What Comes of Listening to Too Much Owl City and Watching Too Much Doctor Who

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Woke up on the wrong side today

And found that you had gone away—

You said that you were here to stay

            So where could you have gone?

                 where could you have gone?

 

I go out to the railway station

Thinking you’ve gone on vacation

I call your name—wake up the nation—

            The people stop and stare

                   people stop and stare.

 

Shy and scared, but still unbowed,

An airplane lost inside a cloud—

All these faces in the crowd

            And none of them are you

                    none of them are you.

 

So I go back to where you found me

Hoping to find you around me

The silence here simply astounds me

            You’re so far away

                        so very far away.

 

I know I’m not always on top of things

I fall flat each time I try my wings

But I still want to go on adventurings

With you

With you

So please let me come along

On your adventurings

Will you let me come along

On your adventurings

With you,

Just you?

 

Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow,

Find a bit more time to borrow,

Pack my joy and leave my sorrow

            And follow where you lead

                    follow where you lead.

 

And maybe if you’ll stop a minute

I’ll catch up and we’ll begin it—

Seize the day and finally win it

            Once I’ve found you again

                     I’ve found you again.

 

I know I’m not always on top of things

I fall flat each time I try my wings

But I still want to go on adventurings

With you,

Just you—

I can’t see the road any other way

So please come back and please come back to stay

And please let today turn into the someday

With you

With you

Please let today be the first day of every day

With you.

To Read

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For the student-geek, summer means books.

This may seem a little counterintuitive. After all, school means books. Truckloads of books. Books on psychology and philosophy and science and literature. We read and/or skim them from cover to cover, semester in and semester out.

That’s the point.

Summer means we get to read what we want to read.

Novel concept.

Pun so intended.

For me, this means the first book in the new Lemony Snicket series, which I received for my birthday. This means Beauty, a retelling of “the Beauty and the Beast” by the brilliant Robin McKinley. This means C.S. Lewis and Ray Bradbury. This means both Brontes. This means Victor Hugo.

This means basking in the brilliance of the writer who have come before me and left their mark on the world. This means reading, taking notes, and learning from their examples.

I’m so excited I can’t stand myself. 

Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey

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My father made a startling announcement over lunch today.

“Your mother and I have decided what our esoteric summer entertainment will be this year.”

“Oh, joy! I love the annual summer esotericism,” I said, leaning forward in my seat a little. Every summer for as many, many years, my family and I have selected some random television program to check out from the library to watch on Saturday nights. We don’t have television—no cable, just a TV—so if we want to watch episodes of anything, we have to find it on DVD. A few summers ago, we watched our way through Star Trek: The Next Generation. Years ago we watched as many episodes of BBC’s Miss Marple we could get our hands on. Then there was the summer where we watched nothing but episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey, which is about as random and British as a show can get. Summers of watching esoteric (which, in case you were wondering, means “obscure”) television programs hold some of my fondest family bonding memories, because every episode would lead to a discussion about some principle of morality, or a discussion of relevant historical facts, or even a discussion of politics. We Ramblers are scatterbrained that way.

“Yes,” my father continued. “We recently discovered that there are several seasons of Dr. Who on Netflix, and we want to give it a try.”

The room spun for a moment as I tried to grapple with the implications of what my father just said. We’re all sci-fi fans in my family, and we all have a taste for British humor. But Dr. Who is more than a just show. It’s practically a cult. Just ask any of the Whovians.

Yes. The Whovians. That’s a self-proclaimed title, lest any of you think I’m being derisive. Whovians are people who have such a deep appreciation for the show that their lifestyles start to undergo certain…changes. Things like painting the kitchens a certain shade of blue, wearing bowties or suspenders, and arguing over which is better—11 or 10. Or 9. Or whatever. And they always bring bananas to parties. If you’re short on bananas, just invite a Whovian.

I know more about the show than I should for someone who only watched part of an episode before falling asleep. There’s this guy who’s a Time Lord (not sure what all that entails) who travels around in a time machine called the TARDIS (apparently that stands for something) which can assume any form but has somehow gotten stuck in the shape of a Police call box. This time lord guy goes by the name “Dr. Who” (no one knows his real first name) and travels around in his TARDIS saving the universe from impending doom. He occasionally “dies” and “regenerates,” which is a convenient way for the producers to use a different actor for every season to keep things fresh. He also goes through a long series of assistants, usually female, called “companions,” one or two of whom he marries. That part gets really confusing. Again, I don’t get it.

As far as I can figure, Dr. Who is more or less Star Trek meets Monty Python. And it’s addicting. Rumor has it that it only takes watching two episodes to get you completely hooked.

I’m sure the show is wonderful. I know the writing is good, and I know it’s incredibly quotable material.

But this could be the dawn of a new family fandom. I ‘m not sure if I’m ready for this. This could be huge. This could change our family bonding dynamic forever. Irreconcilably. We, too, might become…Whovians.

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Sestina, Wherefore Art Thou?

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Have you ever heard of a sestina?

No, a sestina is not a waitress who serves sauces at fancy dinners, nor is it a medieval stringed instrument similar to the lute. A sestina is, in fact, a specific form of poetry.

Did you know that? I didn’t know that either until I started taking a university-level poetry writing class, since that is one of the many things that creative writing majors do with their time in college. They write poetry, or poetic things, or both simultaneously.

The sestina is the poetic equivalent to advanced trigonometry. The unique feature of the sestina is not its rhyme or meter, but the order of the words at the end of each line. For example: the end word of line 1 in the first stanza becomes the end-word of the second line of the second stanza, while the sixth line’s end-word in the first stanza become the first line’s end-word in the second stanza. As to the rest of the pattern, it is no less confusing, and my text book only offered a not-so-helpful “etc.” to describe the way the rest of the end-words are supposed to interact.  

Guess what we had to write this week for poetry class this week? You got it—a sestina.

Now, considering it’s February (we all know what happens in February) and I have been assigned to write a poem, there is really only one logical path to take in terms of the poem’s subject matter. That’s right. I wrote about Odysseus. I’m four weeks into studying classical literature—what else is there to think about?

So here you are: my first meager sestina. It will be revised to the point of being unrecognizable in a week’s time, but accomplishing the first draft is quite enough for me. At least until the final draft is due.

 

Odysseus

 

Surrounded by the ocean’s hungry roar

I wait, yearning for a raft on which to sail

Away, to find my lovely island home.

But the Lady of Deception holds me back

Though she promises my life will never end,

I think of Her, who waits at home, and my joy dies.

 

Waiting on this island where death dies,

The hungry heart within me starts to roar.

For here is where all valor meets its end:

A horseless chariot, a ship without a sail

Am I, without an army at my back.

Adrift am I, an eternity from home.

 

Asleep at night, my dreaming wanders home.

I hear my bride sing gentle melodies

While she deftly pulls the shuttle forward, back.

Our cups all overflow, and fires roar;

I think no thought of ever setting sail—

Awake again, my dreaming doesn’t end.

 

My keeper here, she says she is my friend

(Twisted friendship, keeping me from home).

Determined that she will not let me sail,

She hopes to starve my yearning ‘till it dies.

Out there, she says, the monstrous maelstroms roar,

And peace is here. Why bother to go back?

 

But every word she whispers takes me back

Along a road of memories without end.

My cries at night become an angry roar

Demanding for a ship, a journey home.

I’m weary of her empty comedies,

This phony paradise, sensations that assail.

 

My hope lives still. I know that I will sail.

My patient bride will see me coming back.

I’ll perish only when my last hope dies,

Then only will my weary battle end.

Hope and Fortune’s winds will take me home.

Let thunder crash! Let monsters roar!

 

Long though I sail, I’ll reach my journey’s end.

Her memory calls me back. Hold on, I’m coming home!

Far from these tragedies; far from the ocean’s roar.

Groundhog Day

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If you needed any further proof of my family’s quirkiness, don’t worry, you’re about to get a truckload.

Groundhog Day, as I’m sure you know, is a holiday surrounding the legend that if a groundhog sees its shadow on the 2nd of February, there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow: early spring. Utter myth, but it’s a nice little story for elementary school teachers to tell the first week of February.

Years ago, Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell starred in an adorable little romcom named after this holiday. The premise of the film is that Bill Murray’s character, Phil, is a total jerk until he finds himself reliving the same day—Groundhog Day—over and over again until he gets an attitude adjustment. Andie MacDowell plays the angelic female figure he reforms for. Hilarity ensues.

Being a Bill Murray film, it’s extremely quotable. Since our family uses movies quotes as our primary means of communication, we latched onto this film and can quote it backwards and forwards. The need to watch it on a yearly basis is next to zero, since we can recite the sucker backwards and forwards. But nothing is better than a shared laugh, so we watch it over every year anyway. Every year, at or near the actual day, we watch the movie and eat junk food. It’s tradition.

This year, as you already know, February 2nd fell on a Saturday. Saturdays are the only days I can come home during the semester. This only meant one thing: I would be coming home on Groundhog Day, and the festivities would commence.

This year we may or may not have gone a little overboard. We adapted quotes from the movie into elements of the meal. For example:

“Don’t mess with me, Pork-chop.” We had pork-chops.

“Sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist, please.” “[To bartender] The same. [To Phil] That’s my favorite drink!” We don’t drink in our family (nor do we endorse the habit), but we did grab some sparkling cider. It was yummy.

There’s a moment in the movie after Phil discovers he can do whatever he wants without having to face the consequences (the advantage of reliving the same day over and over) where he goes to a diner and orders all the pastries they offer. His table is piled with cakes, pies, waffles, doughnuts, ice cream, etc. The most memorable part of this scene is when he shoves a whole slice of cake into his mouth and chews, slowly. In honor of this shot, we bought doughnuts.

The main course this evening was burgers made from ground pork. Ground. Hog. Groundhog. Groundhog burgers. Yup. They were delicious.

Needless to say, we are stuffed and we laughed altogether too much over a silly movie we’ve seen every year for who knows how many years. But we had fun. Together. And after all, that’s the really important thing.

To top it all off, it snowed today. Even though the groundhog’s forecast called for an early spring, we got a blast of flurries this afternoon that were truly smile-worthy. All in all, this day couldn’t have gotten any better.

Once Upon a Nightmare

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There are a lot of things I don’t understand. I don’t understand the appeal of caviar. I don’t understand why we drive on parkways and park on driveways. I don’t understand why every brand of clothing sizes things differently. I just don’t, and I never will.

But one thing that puzzles me more with each passing year is why girls are attracted to bad men.

I will use fandoms as a microcosm of this female phenomena. The musical The Phantom of the Opera is a favorite among women, probably because its exaggerated portrayal of romance matches most women’s delusional fantasies of the way they think love works. The hero of the story is Good Guy Raoul, a viscount who is in love with his childhood friend and singer Christine Daae. The only person that stands between them is a guy who lives in the basement of the opera house and writes music for fun, killing the odd stagehand as a side job. He is grossly deformed, which inspires pity in the hearts of the audience. Pity enough, it seems, for them to forget that he’s a murderous, controlling, abusive charlatan who is more obsessed with owning Christine than he is interested in her inner being, her soul. For some inexplicable reason, some women are upset that Christine chooses Good Guy Raoul over the twisted evil guy. In their eyes, it would be better for Christine to live out her days in a dank basement with a creepy stalker than to travel the world with the man of her dreams who loves her enough to be willing to die for her.

What?

Then there’s Loki. You know, antlered Mr. Meany from The Avengers. He’s got a whole flock of women who are obsessed with him. Something to do with the expression in his eyes, apparently. These spellbound women overlook the fact that this person was perfectly comfortable with killing innocent people to show his older brother that he’s just as cool as he is, no matter what Daddy says. Sure, girls say they feel sorry for him because his father never loved him, and if only he had, maybe Loki would’ve turned out okay. Look, girls, if you want the same kind of sob story, the same thing happened to Faramir, and he knew how to be a gentleman about it.

What makes evil so attractive? In the real world, girls fall for bad boys all the time. They pass up the solid, mentally stable and very sweet men for the rebels who turn into controllers, abusers, or philanderers. What normally happens is that a girl will fall for a boy solely for his good looks, and find out too late that the pretty apple has a rotten core. I have a hard enough time understanding the appeal of romance as it is. Why do women go out of their way to fall in love with difficult men?

Normally I can supply theories by way of an answer. Tonight I cannot. This is an open question brought about by scrolling around in the “Geek” category on Pinterest. All I can say is, Girls, be careful. These visions are seldom what they seem.

Homer Nods

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The universe is immeasurable. Our galaxy is immense, and it is only a speck of dust compared to the boundless ocean of space that rolls out to the fringes of the unknown. In this universe there are particles, atoms, solids, liquids, gasses, humans, animals, and plants. There are 7 billion humans on this planet, and those are only the ones still living and not counting the figures of the past. And then humans have souls just as immeasurable and unfathomable as the universe they inhabit.  

You’d think that from this cavernous gulf teeming with all sorts of fascinating life and unfolding history and transmogrifying cultures, I’d be able to scrap together enough thoughts to form a topic for this blog post.

The universe, as far as we know, has no visible boundaries. My brain, however, has very visible boundaries that stretch from one ear to the other, and all the thoughts of the universe have no room in this finite space. Therefore, all I can think about at the moment is how fun rehearsal was, how much I have to do tomorrow, and how very, very tired I am, none of which are topics worth exploring. I could tell you, but who in their right mind would sit there and listen to me complain?

I’m afraid, dearest readers, that all I could offer you right now would be trite truisms and meaningless song lyrics applied loosely to life’s tumultuous circumstances, and you can go to other blogs for that kind of thing.

My goal, normally, is to make you laugh. But I discovered long ago that I cannot force myself to be funny. All I can do is remind you that the opposite of irony is wrinkly, and that if you watch Godzilla backwards, it’s about a giant lizard which helps rebuild a half-burnt-down city, then moonwalks into the ocean, neither of which are thoughts that are original to me.

So there you have it. I have scraped the bottom of my universe’s barrel for your amusement. Even Homer nods, and soon I’ll be nodding off myself.