You cannot petition the lord with prayer, and it really pisses Dr. Calculus off.
When I was back there at the University of Maine, for some reason, Jim Morison was still remarkably popular among the undergrads, despite the fact that he had already been dead for almost a decade. See?
To this day, I still have flashbacks of being awakened in the wee hours by the exhortations of Jim and company as they blasted from the refrigerator-size speakers that took up more space than the beds in one of the more notorious rooms down the hall. Apparently volume was crucial to a successful trip, as was repetition, because even now, I can recall the words to that song. To the letter.
Now, with the psychedelic experience often come unusual compulsions, such as the need to undress in public, or at the very least in the company of several of your closest friends and/or acquaintances. Or so I have heard. Of course the streaking craze of the early Seventies had been largely consigned to memory by the time I began my long, hazy journey through academia, though like all exhibitionistic indulgences, it has enjoyed periodic resurgences and upticks in activity ever since.
But as I say, back in the day, it wasn’t widely practiced, other than by a couple of incorrigible undergraduate nudists on campus, more often than not after a long evening of consuming grain alcohol mixed with Kool Aid that was served by the tumbler from a garbage can. Understandable of course. As such, I did spy the occasional exposed member or naked cheek of a weekend evening; however, the practice of stripping down in public was exclusively the domain of the student rather than the faculty.
And so it was with some interest and no little surprise that I happened upon the story of the Michigan State math professor who melted down to such an extent — in the classroom — that he felt compelled to strip completely naked and utterly nude in the middle of a calculus lecture. Now I’m no math whiz, but I’d have to say that if anything could make me lose my grip on reality, not to mention my underthings, it would be having to teach an advanced mathematics class. So I sympathize. Or is it empathize? I can never remember. Anyways…take a look.
What I love about this article is the reference to keeping your socks on by the student in the classroom. If you’ll recall, one of my state’s most colorful scandals involved the charming Eliot Spitzer, aka the “Luv Guv,” who was found to have availed himself of the services of a bevy of sex workers, and subsequently lost his dream job. Like the mad calculus professor, he too preferred to keep his socks on, though if the press accounts are to believed, he lobbied his escorts heavily for unprotected sex. Now that’s a thrill seeker.
Here’s what I don’t get. It wasn’t until Professor Crazy stripped naked that the students became fearful. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems unlikely he could conceal a weapon once he was down to his birthday suit. Who knows, maybe there was a shiv in his sock or a telltale scab on the nether regions that posed an infection risk? Unlikely, you must admit. So why then, would a group of healthy twenty year-olds fear one paunchy un-armed math professor? The photo is a bit grainy, but he’s clearly no Arnold Schwartzenneger.
In fact, a quick scroll through the Facebook would indicate that the youth of today are far less inhibited about being caught naked on film than any previous generation. One might conclude, therefore, that this professor’s little trip to Crazy Town should have been no more traumatic than a night in the frat house for his students. Perhaps it wasn’t the nudity, but the existential crisis that got them all in a lather. Maybe it was the notion that not only can you NOT petition the lord with prayer, but He doesn’t actually exist at all that put them in a tizzy. Or maybe it was just the calculus. Would have done it for me.
I’ll admit it. Technology has gotten away from me. Every innovation, each update, every new feature sends me into an angst fueled emotional crisis; vodka bottles are drained, the medicine cabinet must be locked, and Dr
Feelgood Feldman rises to the top of my speed dial list, or whatever we’re calling that now — iFriendFone, iTalkieFavorites, iSpeedyDial, I don’t fucking know.
Facebook mystifies me. Can you or can’t you send a private message to one of your friends? If you can, why not just email? Isn’t the point of Facebook to make your every breath, utterance and rest stop into a public holiday? And why does my page now look like it was laid out by an ADHD-addled first-year graphic design student with a psychotic disorder and an astigmatism? I can’t find ANYTHING on my own page. So I never look at it. Ever.
I can just about cope with Twitter, though I have no idea what the point is. Tumblr, I am told, is a new social media must, as is Pinterest. I tried to set up a Pinterest account but they put me on a waiting list. Apparently it’s very exclusive — some kind of virtual country club or ivy league college. Later, they sent me a congratulatory email when they magnanimously bestowed an account upon me. Am I supposed to feel thrilled at being included? Again, I don’t fucking know. And I don’t much care. After fifteen hours of trying to find some kind of technical support I gave up. The social media world will have to spin without me.
Hardware poses even greater challenges. While others eagerly seek the newest, shiniest, most cutting edge gizmos on the market, I sit pining for my Palm Pilot and the long dead Vindigo application. I know there are other ways to find a piano bar near 70th and Park, or a shoe repair shop within limping distance of Gand Central, or a bathroom in the Financial District, but they’re all different applications. I just want my one source, and the late Vindigo was it.
I recently got an iPhone because I wanted one simple thing: to be able to see the same calendar and address book on my phone and my laptop. That’s it. Instead, the simple act of syncing my phone to my laptop unleashed a tsunami of technical difficulties requiring no fewer than six calls to APPLECARE, a $50 operating system upgrade for my computer and a $150 RAM upgrade. I got the phone a month ago and I still haven’t figured out how to keep it from duplicating every appointment in my calendar and switching the listings from last-name-first to first-name-first. Nor can I color code the events in my calendar without a slide rule, an HTML brain implant and a TIME MACHINE.
What it really comes down to is this: technology exhausts me. So much so, in fact, that I can barely cope with my own little blog. For example, what is an RSS feed and how do I use it? If I add it to my site, what will the implications be? If I click it on someone else’s post will it inundate me with unwanted comments, put cookies in my laptop (sure there are plenty of crumbs in there, but a whole cookie strikes me as a bit too much), or worse, send loads of unwanted Spam my way? I hate Spam. How come other bloggers have RSS feeds and I don’t?
Here’s what WordPress has to say on the subject of RSS.
Subscribing to a feed is very easy and only requires a feed reader. Most browsers can already read feeds, as can many email clients. In addition, you can download special desktop clients for this purpose, and other websites even provide feed reading services, as well.
Feed reader? Clients? When did I get clients? I don’t want clients — that’s why I stopped working in business. Are desktop clients different from regular ones? Will they be expecting cookies? I have absolutely no idea what any of this this means, so I looked it up in my Dummies book. Here’s what they have to say:
“RSS is a format that allows readers to subscribe to your blog and read it in an application — an RSS reader such as Google Reader…The best way to keep track of your RSS subscribers is to replace the RSS feed created by your blogging platform with a feed from Google’s free FeedBurner service…etc.”
Feedburner service? Sounds like dinner with my inlaws. I’ll spare you the five step process for affecting this change. It’s full of redirects, logins to accounts I don’t have and hyperlinks. For example: “Use the new Feedburner address in the hyperlink for your Subscribe button or link, not the original one created by your software.” Is it me? Can you follow this?
All of this is entirely too much like a flashback of sophomore Geometry, which I slogged through for what seemed like decades and barely managed to pass. It was all well and good when we were looking at shapes and vectors and points and angles, but then one day we turned to theorems and proofs, and we might as well have been talking about feedburner plug-ins.
Interestingly, the following year I scored highest in my class on some kind of standardized math exam. At the time, owing to some very high grade under the counter substances, I couldn’t even recall taking it. The teacher gave me a filthy, accusatory look, like I’d been hiding algorithms in my bra, and promptly started calling on me in class, which made it a lot harder to skip doing my homework.
So I’m wondering, if by some remote chance I master RSS, SEO, XML, DNS and the myriad other ingredients in the electronic soup of the world wide interweb, does that mean I’ll have to start showing up for class and turning assignments in on time? If it does, I’m out.
With props for inspiration to the tallest and the baddest, our own Cristy Carrington.