Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fragments

- I don't often get excited about amending forms, but if President Obama is able to simply the FAFSA in a meaningful way, I say, Hooray! The FAFSA is the form that students and prospective students have to fill out to apply for Federally-backed financial aid, and it's worse than the 1040. It's just horrible. Kafka would have considered it over-the-top. I'm not a believer in the "it should fit on a postcard" theory, but surely there's middle ground between a postcard and a dissertation. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a much simpler FAFSA result in more completed applications from first-generation students and students whose first language isn't English. You pretty much need a graduate degree to navigate the flippin' thing. And even for those who survive the present form, surely reducing their time spent on paperwork by a few hours is a good thing.

- TW and the kids are out of town for a few days -- not in Argentina, happily -- so I'm doing the temporary bachelor thing. It's amazing how quickly old habits come back. (She would probably use a term like "regression.") Having the house to myself is a lot of fun for the first hour or so. Then it starts to get lonely. I also hadn't fully appreciated the appetite-suppressant role the kids play. When they're gone, I eat like I'm preparing to hibernate. It's a good thing they won't be gone long, or I'd have to start buying all new clothes.

- Doing employee evaluations sucks. I will offer no further details on that.

- Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson were both major figures with other people my age, but neither of them meant much to me. She seemed harmless enough, but I was never a fan. (When she hit big, I was all about Lynda Carter.) And MJ went from 'oddity' to 'criminal' in my mind some time ago, when the pedophilia became too obvious to ignore. The only celebrity death I recall really affecting me emotionally beyond the initial 'that's too bad' was Kurt Cobain. I remember my Dad's reaction when Elvis died, and I remember a whole bunch of people around me being sad when John Lennon was killed, but those were both more salient to previous generations. Cobain and I were nearly the same age, and I remember really admiring the way he embodied the contradictory impulses towards both cynicism and hope that were very real to me then. He also had a contrarian sense of humor that I found refreshing. When Courtney Love read his suicide note over loudspeakers to a crowd outside their Seattle house, doing a running commentary as she read, I was riveted. Shortly after his death, I remember Andy Rooney dismissing his depression as a sort of affectation; that was the last time I paid attention to Andy Rooney. Since then, I've cut Courtney Love more slack than she probably deserves, but hey.

- Along the lines of age and generation, I've hit the age at which I'll hear baseball players' names and immediately recognize them as "that's so-and-so's kid." Last week I saw part of a Brewers game, and during the few minutes that TW watched with me, Prince Fielder came to bat. I let slip something like "he looks just like his father," which elicited a pretty good eye-roll from TW. I haven't yet hit the "get off the lawn!" stage, but it's probably inevitable.

- TB's end-of-year report card was a smashing success. Among the piles of school detritus he brought home were several notebooks' worth of stories he had written while waiting for others to finish assignments, and a pair of mash notes from girls in his class. He's mostly excited that now he gets to stay up later reading his books. We've got some summer stuff lined up, but we're building in some "figure out for yourself what to do" time, too. I suspect he's up to it.