Thursday, May 12, 2005

From Perfect Strangers to Role Players

So, what else does one do during a time when he is writing his dissertation?

He tutors someone who ask’d him for help on a project. Only, this isn’t just any project. This project is what is otherwise known to the layman as a “dissertation.” Yep. & the guy who is writing the dissertation is writing it in English—which is his 2nd language. & he wants to defend this dissertation @ the end of June or early July so… I’m the final line of offense/defense b4 he brings it to his committee.

Flashback: Does anyone remember the board game Stratego? It’s still sold in stores (well, the last time I was in a game store Stratego was there… musta been about ’82.

Oh, please, it wasn’t ’82. Though, if I remember correctly, back then I was going through a mid-life crisis—something about seeing the end of my single-digit years approach’g along the distant horizon—or was that just a booze-cruise on the Atlantic head’g down to Atlantic City? I dunno.)

Well, Stratego is a board game where “each side of the battlefield (composed of ten squares by ten squares) is populated by an army consisting of quasi-European military units circa 1820” ( Each army had ten types of soldiers, from the lieutenant to scouts. The goal: move the pieces accordingly until you captured the enemy’s flag. (Yes, it was a very original idea.)

Each soldier had a number from 1 to 9, 9 being the least powerful. So, every time two soldiers touch pieces, the lower score won. (You mov’d pieces from square to square, kinda like checkers, but you didn’t have always go diagonal.) And there were bombs! Wow! Only the Miners, #8, could safely remove your opponents bombs. Miners weren’t a “strong” fight’g/attack’g piece, but they were the only ones that could remove bombs that usually surround’d the opponent’s flag. Great team players. Not Jason Giambi.

(At this point, I’m feel’g slightly embarras’d by this: partly because it’s really turn’g into an odd metaphor for tutor’g; 2ndly, because I’ve been in-and-out of read’g “Metaphors We Live By” by Johnson & Lakoff I’m realiz’g this is really, really is a bizarre metaphor [tutor’g as war?]; 3rdly, because… I’m writing about Stratego.)

But this is what I thought about today while I was think’g about the tutor’g session I had this morn’g. You see, I felt like a miner.

I felt like this dude who is writing the dissertation is in this battlefield, trying to move about, get through some difficulties, and capture the flag (er, piece of paper that screams, “PH.D.!!”) & I’m a role player in this process, trying to help remove the “bombs” in his way, & clear his path to the golden highway. (Not a direct reference to Highway 101.) And if I don’t @ least (help him) remove some of the bombs, well… mulligan, anyone?

He’s really a fine writer—especially for writing in a 2nd language, & his study is amazing. & I have the absolute highest respect not only for people who live/study in a country where they speak the language as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th (oh, c’mon, more than 5th? Talk about put’g others to shame!), but for someone to write a dissertation in a 2nd language—they get major props!

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Speak’g of ridiculousness, I’d like to end today w/ a short slice o’ life.

Ben Rafoth and I were talk’g one time (about a year ago) about how ridiculous something was. It was a fun(ny) conversation & I don’t know how it came about, but we realiz’d that Google is ridiculous. Honestly. It is. In a good way, of course. (Okay, all search engines are ridiculous, but it just so happen'd that we had the internet up & were using Google @ the time. We were probably look’g up Shanti Bruce or someone else we need’d background info on.) :)

But Google is ridiculous. Check this out: I typed in the word “mulligan” & w/in .22 seconds, Google provid’d me w/ more than 1.8 million references. In approximately one-fifth of 1 second, almost 2 million links were made available to me, including the exact one I was hoping for (see it above). Can you imagine say'g "pizza" or "rice, bean, and cheese burrito" & having 22 million made available to yr door in less than 1 second?

That’s ridiculous. & so is (hold on a second... delivery guy's here.)...

& so is think’g of myself as a miner.

One more blog to go!


“made up my mind to make a new start,
going to California with an aching in my heart…”



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