Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Kroger Incident

Last year, I remember posting a disturbing incident involving a romantic Kroger employee and a fish but I don't think I wrote anything about this. . . reason being I still think it could have been overblown and distorted.

Before the Forest Hills Kroger moved across the street as the flagship of the Anderson Towne Center, the deli department was in the shape of an "L" with unnecessary partitions and strangely angled walls (think the lair of Chthulu).

For a short while I had the lowest seniority and usually worked with the second-lowest employee, Erica. Later they hired a guy named Mike, bumping Erica and me marginally up the union ladder. Erica loved to cause trouble, such as asking elderly co-workers their favorite sexual positions and, while I got along with Mike, he vaguely reminded me of the Columbine killers.

One day when the deli was packed with customers, Erica began trash-talking (and yes, you can do this in front of the customers or even directly to the customers and only get "written up," a meaningless punishment with no consequences whatsoever). Mike was working on the slicer next to me and when Erica walked by, she said something that he took offense to.

I don't remember my exact order but it involved shaving lunchmeat (for those of you like the pre-Kroger me, "shaved meat" might sound dirty but it's simply cut extremely thin. It takes forever to do it and is difficult to judge how much it weighs. Extreme-bastards will reject two pounds of shaved meat and insist it be "more shaved than that.")

Apparently while I was shaving, Mike grabbed Erica around the neck and refused to let her go. They were close enough that I could have reached over and touched them but the way the deli was designed didn't give me a clear view so I just thought they were goofing around.

After a few minutes, Erica started yelling, broke loose, and went to the manager's office. Mike pretended it didn't happen. Other deli workers came out of the back and asked me what was going on. I looked dazed and said, "What?"

This happened in plain sight of at least 15 to 20 customers but none of them said or did anything. Eventually Erica's customer did get angry but only because she left the department without filling his order.

I got called up to the office and asked to write down what I saw. My account was much more vague than even what's above but apparently it matched Erica's story more than Mike's.

He was fired, from what I understand not because management believed he was guilty, but because Erica was already a union member and he was still probationary. I went back to being lowest deli worker until they hired a slew of new people for the new store.

I have no idea if Erica over-reacted or misjudged the situation. Many, many people brought up the point that I was standing right next to them, either implying that:
a. it wasn't serious; or
b. I was/am a moron.

Mike came back to the store a few times but didn't say anything to anyone in the department. For a while I was worried about seeing him approach in a trenchcoat but nothing happened.

Now Erica and I are on the top half of deli seniority. That was the last assault of any sort, and with the layout of the new store, anything like that would now be impossible to miss.

Pretty pointless compared to the fish story but that's the deli department for you.
Simpson Millionaire

Yesterday my wife clogged the toilet. My five-year old daughter had an accident getting out of the bathtub, spreading feces throughout the entire bathroom. My two-year old son had two solid waste diapers. I had to clean up after the dog outside and cleaned the cat's litterbox and two hamster cages. I was spared only by the goldfish.

Yet at this moment I feel happy. I just won $1,000,000 with Simpsons' trivia.
I Had Her In Class

Via Snopes, this sounds exactly like one of my old students who wanted President Clinton to raise the minimum wage in Mexico. I don't know what she would be doing in Orange County.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bounty for the Tasmanian Tiger

Conventional science believes that the last Tasmanian Tiger (or thylacine) died September 7, 1936 but each year dozens of sightings are reported. Finally cash in on the line.

Cryptozoologists have special hopes for the thylacine (one of the crypto societies even adopted it as a mascot). As improbable as they might be, thylacines still seem more credible than Bigfoot or Nessie.

According to Robert Bakker in Dinosaur Heresies (I think--I don't have it in front of me), the thylacine was restricted to Tasmania because during the last Ice Age, sea levels dropped, connecting Tasmania and many other islands to the mainland. Various non-marsupial species, including humans, were able to make their way to Australia and take the place of native creatures. When Asian canines arrived in Australia, the thylacine couldn't compete. As fierce as they were, placental mammals outbred and replaced them. Fortunately for the thylacine, crossing the Australian desert isn't the easily thing in the world, so by the time the Asian dogs spread throughout the entire continent, the earth had warmed, making Tasmania an island once more. Had Tasmania been on the accessible northern side of Australia, instead of the southern, the thylacine (and the devil) would have gone extinct thousands of years ago.

The Asian canines evolved into the modern dingo, occasionally snatching a baby, but no longer such a genocidal threat. Thylacines thrived until European settlers wiped them out. Sadly, this wasn't the only species in Tasmania driven to extinction. Native humans were killed to the last man, woman, and child, giving Tasmanian settlers the distinction of being more genocidally effective than Hitler, Pol Pot, or Stalin. At least the devils are still with us.
Happy Easter/Birthday

My birthday fell on Easter this year but I still didn't get much of a payoff. My mom sent an ugly shirt and my wife gave me a DVD that cost $3.88. No candy at all.

I got my kids a ton of Easter candy but it's a far cry from when I turned 12.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Negro Space Program

For years the accomplishments of the Negro Space Program were downplayed and ignored by the media. At long last, they're gaining recognition.
Everyone's a Cannibal

Since I started working in the Kroger deli, I've come to terms with the fact that anyone who eats meat from an animal he or she hasn't personally killed and cleaned, is eating a certain percentage of human flesh (this is also true of many vegetarian products which contain even more human hair and skin).

Here's a case of it going a little too far (via Snopes).

Recently there was a federal report that 80% of meat-workers cut themselves to some degree. That's like saying 80% of men masturbate. Virtually everyone who works with meat is cut on a regular basis. I cut myself twice last Sunday and since I started working at least four other workers were so badly injured that they went to the hospital. None of the injuries was reported to OSHA so it's as if they never happened.

This seems disgusting but considering some of the other additives that finds itself into food, human flesh is at least a good source of protein.

UPDATE: Tangent from Cecil Adams
Test Day

Literature classes are so much better than writing classes. Today we had the dreaded poetry test and I had a whole class of sitting happily, only answering the occasional odd question. With writing classes, there are no test days but twice the grading.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Democrats and the South

Here's an odd political posting for this blog but I've been thinking about this for a while.

Looking back at the Democratic candidates for president over the last century (and change) gives you this:

North South
2004 Kerry (Mass) L 2000 Gore (Tenn.) L (although I'm
not sure if Gore was considered a true Southerner)
1988 Dukasis (Mass) L 1996 Clinton (Ark.) W
1984 Mondale (Minn.) L 1992 Clinton (Ark) W
1972 McGovern (SD) L 1980 Carter (GA) L
1968 Humphreys (Minn) L 1976 Carter (GA) W
1960 JFK (Mass.) W/shot 1964 Johnson (TX) W
1956/1952 Stevenson L/L 1948 Truman (Missouri) W (is Missouri part of the South? It was a slave state until the end of the Civil War.)
1932-44 FDR (NY) 4W/died 1908/1900/1896 W.J.Bryan (FLA) L/L/L
1928 Smith (NY) L
1924 Davis (NY) L
1920 Cox (Cin.) L
1912/1916 Wilson (NJ) W/W (Wilson technically was a Yankee but was born in the South and was an open white supremacist.)
1904 Parker (NY) L
1892 Cleveland (NY) W (Last true Yankee who didn't die in the course of office.)

The last Northern Democrat to serve out his full terms of office was Woodrow Wilson who had strong Southern ties. Overall the South's record is 5-5 (going back to WJB--post-1908, it's 5-2). Overall the North's is 8-11 (half of which is from FDR). Since the Civil Rights era, the North is 0-5; the South is 4-2.

I've never heard the Democrats even mention this. I don't think a Southern candidate is necessary but it might be a consideration.
Liberal Bias

The Walk in Brain blog has posted a number of comments about liberal bias from university professors. Even though I try to have classes write about political and social issues, I think the only bias I give is from the deeply saddened point of view ("The president doesn't have the power to raise the minimum wage in Mexico" and "Murder is already against the law.")

I can only think of two times when I actually raised my voice about political issues. One was about animal rights which I think defies left or right status. A few students in class repeated PETA's claim that no medical advances have been made by animal experimentation. (Watch Penn and Teller's episode of Bullshit for a thorough refutation of this.) I brought up the point that the rabies vaccine was developed through animal (and human) experiments and has saved the lives of countless humans and animals (especially dogs).

They refused to believe it.

"You can argue that the advances made through animal experimentation don't justify it. You can argue that there are better ways to experiment now. You can argue that many experiments are pointless and needlessly cruel but you can't argue that no advances have been made whatsoever."

They denied it. They denied that Pasteur developed the rabies vaccine through experiments on animals AND that vaccinating dogs helped them.

I remember asking "Why do you think corporations pay millions of dollars for laboratories and to pay scientists if it never did any good? Because they care so much for the consumer?"

They stopped arguing so I'll never know for sure but I think they assumed the scientists were just being mean. This was back when "mean-spirited" was the catchphrase of the day.

The other time was about capital punishment. A group dogmatically stated that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

I pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled that the way states meted out death sentences was unconstitutional but that the ruling wasn't strictly against capital punishment itself.

None of them knew that the Supreme Court had ever struck down the death penalty but they still insisted that it was unconstitutional.

Finally I broke down and said louder than I should have that capital punishment is directly addressed in the Constitution (the Fifth Amendment to be exact) and so while it could be wrong, unfair, or immoral, it wasn't unconstitutional.

Again, I didn't change anyone's mind, just scared them into being quiet. It didn't occur to me until much later that the students thought "unconstitutional" was just another word for "mean" or "unfair." They didn't see a connection between the word and the actual Constitution at all. If I would have seen that then, I might have made myself clear.

These weren't the dumbest reactions from students (only one in about 35 students has even a foggy idea of what cloning is--many, possibly most, students think that clones have all the memories of the original organism and instantly age to become duplicates of the original).

I'm sure the students thought I was unfair and biased (although in both cases, it's more of a conservative bias than liberal). I have to wonder how much "liberal bias" is from comments like "Maybe the Trail of Tears wasn't the best decision the U.S. ever made" being interpreted as "I am a communist and hate America."

I made a trip to NKU for a make-up test for a student. Turned out he didn't show. This is the last week I have daycare for devilboy (appropriately his expulsion isn't official until this Friday).

Starting wages at the Kroger deli pays more than teaching part-time (plus health insurance and employee discounts).

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hamster Update

The baby hamsters are now living in three separate cages. They're starting to fight so we'll need to find homes for at least half of them.

When I took them from their mother, she was no longer tolerating them. She climbed up into her loop tube (if you've ever seen the tubing for hamsters and gerbils, it's a circular tube leading from the top of the cage) to get away from them. The babies were too small to climb up so she would pack her cheeks with food and camp at the highest point, only coming down for provisions. She seems much happier to have the cage to herself.

Initially I put the babies in two different cages, putting the first four I could catch in a ten-gallon aquarium and the two quicker ones together in a smaller wire cage. Later when I bought a new cage, I split the group of four into two pairs.

By luck, it turned out the the two in the wire cage were both male and the rest female. I hope that I caught them in time so that we don't have to worry about a new generation.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

IHOP over McDonalds

Normally the kids whine for McDonalds so much that we take them once a week. Last night we went to IHOP instead which was much more expensive but I guess worth it, considering this (via Hoax Museum).

I found all the material from KPA in my mailbox at NKU. According to the schedule, I was supposed to go on Friday March 5. I'm sure that was a typo (the next day listed is Saturday March 5) but with an obvious schedule screw-up, I don't feel quite as bad. I was supposed to go with Jim Chambliss of U of Louisville ("Sparks of Creativity: The Influence of Epilepsy in Writing and Art") and Becky Lee Meadows, also of U of L ("Manic Depression, Childhood Bereavement, and the Return of the Dead in Edgar Allan Poe's Works").

My paper was about development of children's ability to recognize gender in language and doesn't really fit the others (or anything else at the conference). They had me scheduled for 9:00 a.m., the first time slot, so I doubt if I had much of an audience.

I could probably put this down on my vida and no one would know but I don't think I'm that desperate yet.
Keeps on Going

Apparently it wasn't the end. The case went to court on March 11 and the prosecutor filed for a continuance until April 20 (Hitler's birthday and the anniversary of Columbine).

I get this information from my wife and she must have got something jumbled because she said that he was offered a plea bargain down to a fifth degree felony with no jail time and mandatory registration as a sex offender for two years. According to the Ohio Revised Code, only Importuning even comes close to those penalties and I don't think Importuning remotely fits the charges.

My niece is living with one of her mother's friends (which may not be good but at least is better than staying home). I hope, no matter the outcome of the trial, that she doesn't move back.

Now I don't know what to think. My wife gets most of this from her mother and some of it seems very distorted. At least this keeps whittling down the days until my niece's 18th birthday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I'm supposed to be in room 256 as I write this. I've been waiting for students to turn in final papers since 5:00. I've got two of them that I'm holding out hope but another 15 minutes or so and I'm out the door.

For about a minute yesterday, I thought I would be able to start taking classes again to finish my doctorate. Today it looks like my son is getting kicked out of daycare so that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

It just took the better part of ten minutes to move into "create a new post" mode. NKU's computers are about 40 times faster than Clermont's.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Last Friday I was supposed to give a paper at KPA (Kentucky Philological Association) but missed it entirely. Those of you who know Andy Miller know that he was a big part of the convention and I feel terrible for letting him down. Everything I've come in contact with lately has fallen to pieces. NKU's spring break is this week so I'll have more of a chance to get organized and get things back in order.
UC Over

Just finished my last class at UC. For the first time in my life, I didn't ask for feedback at the end. That was one of my least favorite classes of my life.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The End

It looks like my sister-in-law won. She's having my niece medicated for nightmares, claiming that she imagines people were grabbing her in her sleep. She couldn't do this unless my niece goes along with it to some degree. No one knows what is going on--neither my wife or mother-in-law have can get through to talk to her anymore.

I'm virtually positive that she won't testify. From hearing stories from 241-KIDS, parents can get away with more than you would ever imagine but I can't see what they could do to make her go back to living in the same house as him. It's 579 days until she turns 18 but now I don't know if she'll do anything even then.

This Wednesday I paid for the book she checked out from the library when she was with us. I doubt if she still has it--her mom restricts what she watches and reads.

I've been expecting something like this so I don't feel as mad as I should. The whole idea of him getting away with it.

Part this happened because my mother-in-law had more health problems. It looked like she had a growth on her liver but now it might not be cancerous. Part of it was that we didn't pursue it hard enough. I didn't think we'd have to resort to so much. I still don't understand this. If my niece made one phone call (and she and her much younger sisters and brother are often left unattended), it would be over in her favor. If she talked to one of her teachers or even a neighbor, it would be over. I still don't see how she felt like she did just a few weeks ago into this. Potentially everything could turn out well but I don't think it will happen. Maybe she'll change again but this is like something out of Orwell.

I should feel worse but maybe it hasn't sunk in completely. It still seems like a lead-in to a bad joke. My class went fine today, at least from my prospective.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Faulkner Not So Bad?

The guy who objected to "A Rose for Emily" turned in a luke-warm positive response about it. I'd rather someone honestly write "I hated the damn thing" and tell me why than tell me what they think I'd like to hear.

Despite the Southern linguistic influence found in Cincinnati, I scored a 13% on the Are You a Yankee or a Rebel speech test.

And I say "pop" instead of "soda." (As I tell my wife uses East Coast expressions, "Soda involves ice cream.")

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

UC Nearly Over

It's about midterm at NKU but I've only got one more class to go with Tuesday night 103 (two more with Thursday 103 and three more with 101).

The final paper is on comedy and I showed video clips from different movies to illustrate various concepts and ended with my Oscar-worthy performance in Evil Ambitions. Didn't have the guts to show Live, Nude Shakespeare.
Please Be Fake

German artist wants to build a "corpse factory" in Poland.

Here's a list of wacky art projects, all listed as real, but I hope at least a few were hoaxes:

Artist Catherine Gregory exhibited in Scarborough in 1992, a dog that had been chopped into nine pieces, 63 smashed mice, and three dismembered rabbits

Artist Hermann Nitsch displayed a dead bull and 11 dead sheep in 1975.

Danish artist in 1994, Christian Lemmerz displayed six rotting pigs in glass cases. Shut down when it was too much for the building's ventilator.

"One is always considered mad when one perfects something that others cannot grasp." Ed Woods.

I can't imagine anyone else would be worked up over this but I just finished a class about comedy in literature and mentioned the origin of the word slapstick.

Oh, right. I didn't think you'd care.