Gear Grind

  • There are two blog prompts in this post. You must complete one of them by Sunday April 30th. You must complete the other by Sunday May 7th. You may do them in whichever order you choose.

Your job is to identify something that grinds your gears and explain why.

  • Ice in milk
    • seriously, who does that??? heathens
    • No, but let’s be real, putting ice in milk sounds (and tastes) like an awful idea. Sure, it might keep the delicious ivory bovine secretion cold (for a while, that is), but what happens if you don’t drink the entire frothy cup of calcium-filled goodness right away? That’s right: the ice melts and you’re left with a liquidy cup of sadness and broken promises. Don’t drink broken promises: keep ice out of milk.
    • Even more seriously: drinking anything watery (with exceptions for things deliberately watery, such as tea, because they’re intended to be that way and may actually taste bad if they are not watery) is incredibly disappointing and disgusting. There’s not enough flavor in the watery milk to be rewarding and delicious, and the drink is not flavorless enough to be plain water. It’s some sort of awful mix between the two, which is incredibly unfortunate for unsuspecting taste buds.
    • “Okay,” you say, “big deal. I don’t really taste a difference. Are you sure you’re not just being picky?”
    • Well, friend, you’re absolutely right: I am being picky. I’ve always been selective about the food I eat (though I have been branching out some in the past few years). If you’re a parent of a picky eater (or have a sibling who’s particular about food), then you might have heard the following idea on how to “cure” a picky eater: refuse to feed them anything else until they eat the thing they’re refusing. Once they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it and see it’s not so bad, right? Wrong. I was the child who starved in the name of stubbornness and selective eating. (side note: that’s an awful way to teach kids to eat food. I was forced to eat carrots when I was younger in order to get dessert…I ate the carrots, promptly threw up, and refuse to eat carrots to this day.) Anyways, one of the things I do eat (or, rather, drink), is milk. I drink it every day with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and often in-between. As a result, I’m a bit of a milk snob. (that’s another thing that grinds my gears, calling someone with refined tastes a “____ snob.” Why are you looking down on someone who’s better than the average Joe at distinguishing certain tastes and quality in a certain food or drink?”) I prefer whole milk, but can make do with 2%, and avoid skim milk for several reasons, but mainly because it tastes watery compared to whole milk. So, putting ice in milk is even worse for me because 1) I have high standards and expectations for anything which passes through my digestive track, but especially so when it comes to milk, and 2) I’m picky, I can taste the difference, and I don’t like the slight alteration in taste brought on by ice cubes.
    • Watery milk is unsettling to me in the way that watery soda is unsettling to other people.
    • Protip: freeze milk instead of water to make special ice cubes which will keep your milk (or coffee, or tea, etc) cold without watering it down! 😉


Pick a podcast, either from the list above or by searching for one online that interests you. Listen to an episode. In your post, name the podcast and episode, and describe what you heard/learned/thought.

I listened to “Alexander Hamilton: Most Influential American?” by Stuff You Should Know

I chose this podcast because I am a huge nerd and also because I love the Alexander Hamilton Broadway Musical (Leslie Odom Jr.’s voice I can’t even).

Less than five minutes into the podcast, I could already tell it was going to be interesting. Besides one of the speakers sounding personally offended that Hamilton was not, in fact, born in London, several sarcastic exchanges occurred, such as this one:

He was not skilled at being deferential, or, uh-” “right. Didn’t know how to bow, certainly didn’t know how to curtsy” “No, like he would come out and say ‘No, you’re completely wrong, for these 14 reasons’” “right, and: ‘you’re ugly’

While avidly listening to Hamilton Broadway music and reading nerdy tumblr posts which find their way to Pinterest doesn’t necessarily mean I posses extensive knowledge of Hamilton and his life, the historical accuracy of most Hamilton songs means I do already know much about his life. Despite this previous knowledge, I did learn that Hamilton may have fudged his birth date by two years (like my great grandma Rachel, who stole and married her younger sister’s boyfriend and then put the wrong year of birth on her gravestone to make herself younger than her younger sister). Hamilton attended King’s College, which later lost its cool name by becoming Columbia University. While in the army, he founded an artillery unit which still survives today. I was surprised that Hamilton actually tried to prevent his duel with Burr, even apparently almost going so far as to offer a retraction. It was also surprising to learn that some people believe Hamilton may have purposefully tried to egg Burr on right before the duel so that Burr would shoot him (with the goal of possibly ruining Burr’s career). Additionally, The Reynolds Pamphlet came about because Jefferson came into possession of some letters between Hamilton and Maria Reynolds and published them, so Hamilton published his version of events in retaliation. Hamilton is buried near Trinity Church.

While initially worried the podcast would be boring, I ended up liking it. Though I don’t think I would listen to podcasts daily and cringe at swapping podcasts for my regular free-time activities, I do think I’ll take the time to start listening to podcasts more often. Focusing solely on the voices proved difficult at times, either because of external distractions (yay internet!) or because I’m a chronic daydreamer. Overall the experience was not unpleasant and I think I’ll try it again sometime.


Taxes, bleh

In your blog post, state how much money is owed and to whom. Next, discuss your level of familiarity with the process of doing taxes and your experience in completing this blog post.

$2,423.41 is owed to the IRS. I did the math by hand and then double-checked with a calculator because math is difficult and I don’t quite trust that I got the same answer as the calculator.

Before doing this blog post, my familiarity with taxes consisted of the vague knowledge that people don’t seem to like them and that the government has deemed them necessary.  It’s therefore rather safe to say that this assignment taught me practically everything I know about taxes.

Blog 55A

What do you see? What are your reactions? Why do you suppose this painting is as famous as it is? How does its size change the way you would experience it in person?Write about Sullivan’s reaction: her assertions, conclusions, and how she makes her point.

“Number 1 by Jackson Pollock (1948)” by Nancy Sullivan.

No name but a number.
Trickles and valleys of paint
Devise this maze
Into a game of Monopoly
Without any bank. Into
A linoleum on the floor
In a dream. Into
Murals inside of the mind.
No similes here. Nothing
But paint. Such purity
Taxes the poem that speaks
Still of something in a place
Or at a time.
How to realize his question
Let alone his answer?

Upon first glance, the painting appears to be a large conglomeration of colored squiggles. I’m sure there’s something deep associated with the painting, such as the lines presenting the crazy chaos of life; or how experiences build on top of each other much like the lines of paint lie one atop the other; or how each line haphazardly crossing over other lines represents how lives overlap each other such that some meet, some don’t, but all combine to make one big work. The painting is alternatively interesting to reflect upon (what does it mean? how does it convey that meaning? how could it be interpreted differently?) and boring (seriously, just a bunch of random squiggles…). Knowing that it is 6 ft by 9ft just makes me wonder exactly how he got paint everywhere without smudging things. The canvas was probably vertical, so did he really spend a ton of hours slowly and carefully painting chaotic and messy-looking lines? That’s like spending a ton of extra effort trying to copy your 6-year-old self’s crude drawings (unless you were a genius art child).

Sullivan uses various literary devices to assert that the painting asks each viewer a question which may or may not have an answer, or that if an answer existed, it would be difficult to find. First, she describes the poem as a “maze,” an mazes generally contain both starting and ending points. However, she elaborates upon that comparison, notig how the maze is turned “Into a game of Monopoly/ Without any bank.” Monopoly cannot reach an ending (and could hardly start) without a bank; in the same way, a question cannot reach a conclusion without an answer to conclude with. She also notes how the painting deviates from the expected, as there are “No similes here. Nothing/ But paint.” While painting usually involves replicating the likeness of something else, she concludes that this painting does not seek to do that; instead, it “speaks/ Still of something in a place/ Or at a time.” But what, exactly, does it speak of? Again, the answer in unknown. To conclude, Sullivan ponders “How to realize his question/ Let alone his answer,” directly stating the painting’s purpose: to ask a question, as well as possibly offer an answer. However, it also implies another purpose of the painting: to make its viewers think.


Fitting Fate?

Write about the sections of the play you have read. Cite the text by Act. Text

Why is there so much emphasis on unchanging and unchangeable fate in this play? What does it add to the meaning of the text?

Fate makes an appearance from the very beginning of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Act 1 opens with Guildenstern flipping coins as Rosencrantz announces how they land. Though “they have apparently been doing this for some time,” each coin lands face-up such that “the run of ‘heads’ is impossible” (Act 1). This does not seem to bother Rosencrantz at all but prompts Guildenstern to brainstorm possible explanations for why every coin lands the same. Most people in today’s world would think the run of heads unusual – surely 89 in a row is extremely unlikely? However, when fate is applied, it seems expected; that is, if the coins are fated to land heads-up, it seems only natural and right that they do so.

Rosencrantz could be said to represent one extreme, in that things which are “fated” rarely seem to bother him. Rather than become distressed or engage in an abundance of thinking, he seems (for the most part) not to worry overmuch (even if he doesn’t fully or consciously accept said fate). In contract, Guildenstern actively works to understand and rationalize the effects of fate. When the coins consistently land face up, he tries to explain the results using the law of probability and the law of diminishing returns. When this proves unsatisfactory, he entertains other ideas: “one: I’m willing it…two: time has stopped dead…three: divine intervention…four: a spectacular vindication of the principle that each individual coin spun individually…is as likely to come down heads as tails” (Act 1). He also creates syllogisms, which Merriam-Webster define as “1: a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in “every virtue is laudable; kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable”). 2:  a subtle, specious, or crafty argument. 3:  deductive reasoning,” as another attempt to explain the results.

Emphasizing the role of fate in the play reinforces the idea that the events of the play occur alongside those of Hamlet, and therefore must match Hamlet‘s ending. Additionally, it highlights how tragic plays such as Hamlet tend to follow the same basic structure: the Hero (or main character) has a tragic flaw which eventually causes the death of him and several others. While the character names, scenery, and plot details may change from play to play, the end results are predictable. This notion is emphasized in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead to draw the audience’s attention to it; in other tragic plays, though the audience may be aware of the fated ending, it is easy to believe that maybe this time someone will get it right and bodies won’t start piling. My sister is watching Pride & Prejudice in the background, I’m going to wrap this up really quickly. Since the ending is already known by the audience, it seems foolish for the play to lead the audience to believe otherwise. Knowing that R&G are fated to die causes the audience to view their actions with an increased sense of urgency, dread, foreboding, importance, etc. since these will be the last actions they take.

Don’t Scroll Past These Scrolls

  • Write a blog post in which you first summarize the contents of the article and then—more importantly—react to the article in a mature, intelligent way.
  • In your reaction, look beyond the article’s implications for you personally; address its impact on the school district, state, world, scientific community, or whichever other group is affected.

You can read the article I chose here.

A new cave associated with the famous Dead Sea Scrolls was recently uncovered. It is the first such cave discovered after the year 1956. Fragments of ancient parchment were found inside alongside pottery shards, rusty pickaxes, and other evidence the cave had been looted in the past. This discovery was part of Operation Scroll, which was launched the Israel Antiquities Authority. Ancient parchment scraps have enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent times, prompting increased sales on the black market and a subsequent increase in looting. Alongside this, Dead Sea Scroll forgeries have become more frequent. Researchers hope to use scroll fragments found in the newly discovered cave to assist in separating forgeries from authentic material.

Such a discovery has the potential to greatly affect the scientifical, historical, and theological communities. If Operation Scroll leads to the discovery of new scrolls, they could have enormous value; new scrolls similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls could further corroborate or conflict with materials contained in previously discovered scrolls, while other scrolls may contain previously undiscovered information pertaining to ancient beliefs or customs. For example, new scrolls could add new materials or further authenticity to other scrolls previously found in nearby caves, such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. If they were to contain material identical to the Dead Sea Scrolls, they could add another layer of possible authenticity. If they contained contradictory material, however, they could cast doubt as to their own accuracy or the accuracy of the other scrolls.

Additionally, besides explaining how so many high-quality forgeries have made their way into the private art market, the discovery of parchment scraps will enable researchers to more accurately determine between said authentic pieces and forgeries. This would benefit future studies pertaining to the ancient scrolls by ensuring only ones which are authentic are analyzed and recorded, while also providing additional means by which to recognize and prevent forged scrolls. The discovery of new scrolls would also allow insight into the writing materials used by ancient peoples, such as the type of ink used and possibly how the paper was prepared; in turn, this could reveal new information regarding how ancient civilizations kept and used written records.


It’s funny knowing both a nurse and police officer because, besides never having to see a doctor except as a last resort and hearing free stories about all the hilarious ways people get caught breaking the law, you learn random things about stuff.

Take full moons, for example. Without believing superstitions, without subscribing to the notion of “werewolves,” without consulting the plots of B-listed horror movies, these people will swear up and down that things just happen. More babies are born. The “crazies” start appearing. It’s always something, and it’s always on a full moon, or a comet, or even just a weekend.

So what happens when you get a full moon, lunar eclipse, and comet all in one Friday night (besides the beginning of a long weekend)? Both the nurse and police officer swore off working and told their bosses not to call no matter what happens.

Me: “You were right – there’s gonna be a green comet at 3 a.m.!”

Officer: *chuckle* “Yup. That’s why I’m not answering the phone”

In which I am salty but the road is not

25% salty, 58% tired, 73% sure math is not my forte

  • The fact that the car had just slid off the road and into the snowy ditch seemed like a minor annoyance compared to…


the stress of having hours of homework yet to be completed, whilst being obliged to stay at school until seven or eight in the evenings each day to practice for an upcoming musical; in fact, the car’s twisted exterior became comparatively minor in the face of all the uncompleted items due the next day, items which would now not be attempted until near the next day’s dawning breath (if actually attempted at all, which, at this point, seemed incredibly unlikely). With both parents out of the house, and the car’s heater no longer functional, it would become even colder inside the poor remnant(s) of the car before anyone arrived to help. The 911 operator answered quickly, balancing both patience and fatigue. The scarceness of snowy weather, they explained, meant it was wont to wreak mayhem during the times it did arrive, and since the police department was understaffed due both to a lack of funding by the city and a rise in retirees and resignations as a result of salaries years behind where they should be and the drastic increase in the price of some of officers’ insurance,* officers were currently stretched too thin as it was to arrive until they had dealt with more serious emergencies.

“Oh well.”

What else was there to do? Someone would arrive or someone wouldn’t. Walking was possible, but a last resort; directions had always been confusing and nothing was familiar. Even the slick black road, rough and endless, seemed hostile and new; the car, crumpled, and ancient in a way that made it seem the result of a sudden jump in time, rather than years of love and use. Snowflakes drifted slowly, settling without regard on street and that one piece of skin which manages to be unwittingly exposed, utterly disrespecting convenience; they settled thinly across the brittle grasses and shivering trees, the crumpled green hood and the fuzzy black one, the slick gray road and the rough gravel shoulder. They fell one flake at a time, at first melting upon contact with the car’s damaged hood. After a matter of minutes, however, they began to melt slower…and slower…and…slowly…a pile of unblemished snowflakes began to form, each crystalline fragment piled delicately upon the next. Slowly, slowly, help arrived, slowly, the car was pulled from the ditch, slowly, slowly, home was reached, assignments were finished, but quickly, sleep arrived.



Rostercart And Giddyturn Have A Misadventure

Cite at least two specific ways in Acts I and II in which the shortened (and possibly pirated) First Quarto of Hamlet differs from the accepted definitive text and explain how they alter the meaning of the play. Additionally, write about anything else that this laughably bad version of Hamlet brings to mind.

(Fair warning, this started seriously but fell into extreme sarcasm)


The further you read in the First Quarto, the more obvious it becomes that it varies greatly from the accepted version(s) of “Hamlet.” However, significant changes are noticeable as early as Scene 2 of Act 1. More specifically, the opening half of King Claudius’s opening speech seems to have disappeared! Instead, he begins his speech with “Lords, we here have writ to Fortenbrasse” (209?), and Fortinbras’s name manages to be misspelled (though phonetically it remains the same). Without that part of his speech, the audience remains unaware that Claudius has married his late brother’s wife and receives little to no background about young Fortinbras. Additionally, though the audience hopefully realized the ghost appeared in the image of a dead king, they do not hear the explanation that Claudius’s brother, the former king and father of Hamlet, has recently died, and thus it becomes more difficult for them to understand why the ghost is relevant to the character of Hamlet in particular.


Suddenly, in Scene 2 of Act 2, the quarto somewhat follows along and then skips right into a version of Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy that I’m sure they didn’t realize would be famous or they’d be thoroughly embarrassed by how royally they fouled it up. Before that disaster, however, the First Quarto skips a bit of dialogue, possibly because their mole took a nap during the latter half of scene (tbh, not that unbelievable, as riveting as it is). First, the audience misses a conversation between Hamlet and Polonius (or is it Corambis? They sound so similar!) in which Hamlet adds fuel to the idea that he truly is crazy. Second, the audience has no idea Rossencraft and Gilderstone (*snicker*) have news of a troupe of actors which have traveled with them. They also miss Hamlet’s excitement and subsequent reciting (why isn’t recitement a word when I’dn’t’ve is?) of a rather long speech from a play he’d apparently seen once a long time ago (I wish I had that kind of memory – I’d always get 100% on tests). Importantly, the First Quarto completely leaves out that little part where Hamlet decides “the play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” Oh yeah. That might’ve been important. At this rate they’ll forget to include the play within the play. Then, they forget to mention how Rosieants and Gildedstem tattled on Hamlet to the King, except they didn’t have anything to tattle on except that Hamlet won’t reveal why he’s crazy. Then, finally, the First Quarto catches up and has Hamlet perform his soliloquy, although it’d probably be better if they’d forgotten that part too, because it sounds like they cut the script up, shuffled the pieces, had a random stranger make up new lines, and pasted everything randomly back into “order” just in time for Hamlet to wax on about how no one would endure life’s struggles (the struggle is real, Shakespear edition) “but for a hope of something after death” (1731). And then he talks about how death “makes us rather bear these evils we have than to fly to others that we know not of” (1735-1736). So little Hammy talks about how people try not to die because they hope there’s something after death (A+ logic, I mean really), and then he talks about how people try not to die because of the unknown evils of death (but Hammy, I thought we had hope about death, not fear?).

Ah, but at least dear Rostencalf and gentle Glimmystern stayed true.

A Post About A Musical Canadian Jew, Because Titles Are Difficult

Find one you really like, embed it in a blog post, and write about it. Include lyrics. Who was this musician? Why were they famous? Did they have any big hits? What has been their lasting influence? Why do you enjoy this song? What is remarkable about the sound of the music? What is remarkable about the writing of the lyrics?

Leonard Cohen was born in 1934 to a Jewish Canadian family. Interested in music from a young age, he began playing the guitar by the time he was 13. He formed a group called the “Buckskin Boys,” which performed in cafes in his hometown of Montreal. At first drawn to poetry more than music, Cohen published several novels and poetry collections. After his successes as a writer, Cohen turned towards music as another possible outlet for his poetry and moved to New York. On November 7, 2016, Cohen passed away during his sleep shortly after suffering a fall. Some of his most notable songs include “Chelsea Hotel #2,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Lady Mischief,” and, of course, “Hallelujah,” which is what I have chosen to write about.

Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah

One of his most famous songs, “Hallelujah” has been performed and modified by countless other artists since it was released in 1984. Though I’ve heard other artists’ renditions in passing, I’d never heard the original song as sung by Cohen before. Cohen’s low (baritone?) and gravelly voice,  combined with his slow, deliberate singing style, caught my attention as different from most other songs I’ve heard. Instead of wowing an audience with vocal riffs, piercing high notes, and abundance of pleasing chords, Cohen sings plainly, straightforward, in a direct and impactful manner.

Cohen is accompanied by several background vocalists (I think that’s what they’re called? I don’t know much about choir terminology and the internet is not always helpful if you don’t even know what you’re trying to find), as well as drums, a guitar, and a keyboard/synthesizer. Cohen’s voice is the most prominent sound throughout the majority of the song, with the other vocalists lending power to his voice and taking over during the chorus. The keyboard/synthesizer is audible every so often, adding color to the overall song (hah, “adding color.” DuPlooy always says that in band to make the woodwinds play quieter). Meanwhile, the guitar and drum play a steady beat which provides a background pulse for the song.

Lyrically, a bit of strangeness occurs. Though Cohen repeats a biblical phrase of worship, “Hallelujah,” throughout the entirety of the song, and even named his song after the phrase, the lyrics speak almost bitterly of religion and love in multiple lines, creating an interesting contrast.



Facts in the first paragraph sourced from