It's no dumber than re-enacting Second Bull Run every weekend

You don't have to be a nerd to appreciate this, but it does help.

And don't you think that the guy playing Mr. Fantastic looks disconcertingly like Jon Stewart? Or is it just me?

In other Nerdly news, if you're a nerd, or would like to be one, you totally need to check out "Dave's Long Box,"* (now conveniently added to the blogroll at right for your browsing pleasure) one of the great nerdblogs on the internets.

* Long Box (n., nerd-speak) A cardboard box specifically designed to hold comic books. Long boxes hold 300 comics, and exist in two states. A long box is either immaculate and obsessively organized, or held together with duct tape and overfilled with comics in no discernable order.

I [heart] Firemen

A Denver firefighter died on Sunday following a week in the ICU after rescuing a sixteen-year-old girl from a house fire. Colfax Avenue - Denver's main street, for those unfamiliar with the Queen City of the Plains - was closed for a big stretch this morning and into the afternoon for his funeral procession. There were dozens upon dozens of fire engines from all over the state parked along the street, and huge crowds flooding into the Cathedral. It was reminiscent of the funeral for a police officer who was killed in the line of duty last year.

Cops get lots of press and airtime. There's dozens of cop shows on TV. I don't have a problem with police in general. But I do think there's far too many people who join the police force because they want to carry a gun and wear a badge to back up the fact that they're bullies who want to act like hard-ons and push people around. Not all of them, probably not even most of them. But a significant number of them.

Firefighters, on the other hand, don't carry guns and, unless they're in dress uniform, don't generally wear a badge. They don't get to push people around. A firefighter is, ultimately, just a badass who works lousy hours and takes insultingly shitty pay to do a job where sometimes he charges into a burning building in order to save people's lives.

Yeah, it's kinda corny. But Raquel Guttierez is alive today because Richard Montoya is dead.

Our New Neighbor

So there's this lady who lives in the apartment building across the alley from our new place. She's got to be the nicest, friendliest lady on Earth. I don't know how it is that she's living in Denver, as she clearly graduated at the top of her class from New York Jewish Grandmother School.

As I was leaving the house the other day, she was on her way out with her dog. "How 'bout this weathah?" she says.
"Pretty hot," I say, nodding.
"Well, youah young and have ya health, you could use some hot weathah," she says. I laugh and we part ways.

Today, I'm leaving the house and she's on her way back in with her dog. Without so much as a greeting, she says to me, "I was reading Little House on the Prairie, and do you know what they fed theiah dawgs? And these were big dawgs, too. Cowahnbread. Can you believe that? So I made some cowahn muffins the othah day, fed one to my dawg. I couldn't tell if he likes it or naht. Still, he seems pretty healthy."

We chat about the weather again for a minute more, and she closes with, "Well, I gotta go. Nice tawkin' to ya, handsome. Take care."

I don't know anything more about her than that she lives in the building across the alley and likes to walk her Aussie Shepherd. Still, I would surmise that she probably has grandchildren who she doesn't see nearly often enough, and when she does see them, she says things like, "You look thin. Are you eating enough?"

Th' Cabin

Wyoming has a bad rep as a sparsely populated state of dumb redneck cowboys. And it's not entirely undeserved - Matthew Sheppard was crucified by a couple of dumb rednecks in Wyoming, after all. Still, it's a gorgeous state, and a lot of the dumb rednecks are really nice and not so dumb at all.

My friend Chris's dad owns a few acres of land in the foothills of the Medicine Bow mountains near Douglas, Wyoming. It's a good four-hour drive from Denver to get there, and it's worth every minute. There's plenty of camping and hiking and general outdoorsiness to be had much closer to home...but none of it has The Cabin.

The Cabin is an old, rustic log cabin, not a great big modern house with a hot tub and a satellite dish that happens to be in the mountains. It does have electricity and running water, which means you can go for a long hike and come back to a cold beer from the fridge and a hot shower. There's a fabulous firepit and always plenty of firewood. There's not just an outhouse but a two-seater outhouse, which I don't think I have to tell you is pretty damn sweet.

The best thing about The Cabin is that it's miles and miles from the nearest town in the least populated state in the Union. You go to The Cabin and you're wonderfully isolated from the rest of the world. An occasional jet passes by overhead, but there's no traffic, no car alarms, no sirens, no bums harassing you for spare change. When we're there, we go to sleep each night listening to the sound of a mountain stream instead of two crackheads screaming at each other in the alley.

Behind the land that The Cabin is on is nothing but miles and miles of national forest, so you can hike for miles and miles. There's a swimmin' hole and a fishin' hole (the stream is swarming with trout in the summer). There are no demands on your time. I spent the morning on Saturday flying a kite, and quite literally had nothing better to do.

We got back from a weekend at The Cabin yesterday. We can't wait to go back.

Get Off Your Ath and Do Some Math

Math and Me haven't always been friends. In eighth grade, I took Algebra I. I went to class every day, but that was about it. When I should have been learning about the Cartesian Plane and factoring and the FOIL method and all that shit, I sat in the back of the room drawing Batman in my notebook. Consequently, I took Algebra I again in ninth grade. That year was different. I went to class every day and instead of learning about the Cartesian Plane and factoring and the FOIL method and all that shit, I sat in the back of the room drawing the X-Men in my notebook. By springtime, with some "encouragement" from my parents, I decided that I really, really didn't want a third go-round with Algebra I in tenth grade. So, with the help of a tutor from the local university and a math teacher who was, in retrospect, far nicer and more understanding than I had any right to expect, declaring that he would give me a passing grade if I passed the final (On the off chance you're reading this, Bob Grimes, you da man). Working my ass off, I scraped out a "C" on the final.

So in tenth grade, it was on to the exciting world of Geometry I. I was no more interested in learning about the Pythagorean Theorem and calculating the volume of a cone than I was in the Cartesian Plane and all that Algebra shit. Another notebook, more X-Men. Dude, when you're a big nerd in tenth grade, you can never get tired of drawing Wolverine. Never. Anyway, with another "Oh, fuck, I don't want to repeat this class" effort in the spring, I managed to get a "C" in Geometry. And now I couldn't calculate the volume of a cone if my life depended on it. Which, thankfully, it doesn't.

As part of some lame-ass new "well-rounded education" thing that I guess colleges are trying these days, I have to pass College Algebra as a requirement to get an art degree. So this semester, I dutifully enrolled in "Remedial Algebra for Those of You Who Haven't Taken a Math Class in Nearly Fifteen Years." Since I was paying for it - or rather, going into debt for it - I decided to pay attention to the teacher and not draw any comic book superheroes in my notebook. Amazingly, it made a difference.

I got a 98 on my final exam. I'm going to get what is quite literally my first-ever "A" in a math class. And that's just a hell of a thing. Dude, I rule.

And now, having accomplished that and learned all kinds of shit about how to calculate the slope of a line and graph it...back to drawing Wolverine...

Freedom Costs a Buck-oh-Five

Save the Internet: Click here

Do you like freedom? Not the idiotic and infuriating neocon co-opted "Th' terarists hate us 'cuz they hate freedom" kind. I'm talking about the real deal, good old-fashioned First Amendment-style "you get to say whatever you want to and no one can stop you" freedom. The kind we used to have before the giant corporations of the world realized just how easy it is to buy Congress.

Yeah, me too.

Congress is trying to hand over control of the internet to AT&T and the rest of the giant corporate telecomm industry. This would, in my opinion, be a Very Bad Thing. I think you'll agree with me.

Spread the word. Write/call/fax your Congresspersonages. If we don't protect Net Neutrality, we're going to miss it when AT&T and Comcast are blocking access to the sites they don't like and steering you towards their own content.

¡En Español, por favór!

Amidst all the current debate about immigration, I have a burning question that no one seems to be able to answer. Why, exactly, is it such a problem that recent immigrants (and, indeed, not-so-recent immigrants) speak Spanish? Today being A Day Without an Immigrant, there was much discussion of the issue in my drawing class as we worked on our projects. Everyone (but me, as I sat silently, telling myself over and over again not to get involved so as not to turn the big circle-jerk into an actual argument) agreed with statements like, "they should have to pass a test" or "they should have to have a ten-minute conversation in English to get a visa." I resisted with all my might the urge to shout things like, "Did you know that the United States doesn't actually have an official language, you dumb fucks?"

Please, someone, explain to me why this is such an issue. Why does it bother people so much that immigrants, for some strange reason, are more comfortable conversing in their native language? How does this affect anyone's lives but their own? Here's what I've been able to come up with:

1. You have to spend four extra seconds when you're at the ATM selecting "English" instead of "Español." If you add up every ATM transaction you'll ever make in your life, that's five minutes of precious, precious that's been wasted by those thoughtless immigrants who refuse to learn English.

2. If you're in a service-industry job, you may occasionally encounter a customer who wishes to conduct a transaction in Spanish. This puts you through the heart-rending humiliation of saying, "Sorry, I don't speak Spanish," and maybe finding a co-worker who does speak Spanish to help that horrible, evil, thoughtless immigrant.

3. Sometimes, in a public facility, you may have to listen to announcements in both English and Spanish (e.g., "The library will close in fifteen minutes. La biblioteca se cerrará en quince minutos."). This is another enormous time-drain. If you add up every minute you spend ignoring announcements in Spanish in public facilities, why, that's a total of zero minutes through your entire life, absolutely wasted!

4. It can be tough to understand the busboys at your favorite restaurant when they ask you, "Can I take this plate?"

5. Um, and lots of other reasons, too. Like, how, speaking Spanish is, you know, like...wrong, and stuff.

There's plenty to discuss when it comes to immigration, legal or otherwise. But somehow this is the meaningless and idiotic notion that so many people cling to when immigration is the topic. This little nugget of xenophobia is at its finest when someone overhears two people conversing in Spanish and launches into it - "They ought to learn English," they say. This, of course, assumes that the people in question are conversing in Spanish because they can't do so in English, and not because they find it easier to converse in their mutual native language. If Mle and I moved to Mexico, I'm pretty sure we would continue to speak to one another in English, no matter how fluent we became in Spanish.

They always bring up previous generations of (European) immigrants, too. "They learned to speak English, why can't the Mexicans?" Well, actually, no, they didn't - not all of them, anyway. There were plenty of immigrants from Italy, Germany, Poland, wherever, who lived most of their lives in the United States and never learned much English. My great-grandmother spent most of her life in Lincoln, Nebraska, and also spent most of her life speaking German. She lived in a community of German immigrants, so she could do just fine in German. But her children learned to speak English, because that's what the children of immigrants do. That's how the process of assimilation works. It's a generational thing, not an instant transformation. I went to school with a lot of Mexican immigrants' children, and they all spoke English just fine.

So...can anyone explain it? Is there some major, significant issue I'm missing here that makes immigrants' language of choice a real problem? Why does it matter so much?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?