Like a Wolf
Today I saw a shirt that reminded me of Genesis 49:27:
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”
I was briefly tempted, but I did not buy the shirt. Reason reigned.
The Dissertation is Formatted
Today I received confirmation from The Graduate School that my dissertation is formatted correctly. Now that the formatting is approved it is just a matter of getting the content approved (which is a bigger step). I currently have my dissertation backed up in multiple locations. I have never been this paranoid about losing a file before. Losing the file now would be devastating, like running a marathon and getting to the finish line only to hear: “Guess what? We forgot to start the timer, so you’re gonna need to run it again. Sorry.”
Buying Paper Towels
I like to have paper towels on hand. I buy them in bulk–always before I run out. I have a very strong preference for non-printed paper towels. I’ll even spend a bit more to avoid decorations. The printing on paper towels reminds me of cheap tattoos. The lines are blurry. The colors are gaudy. They seem trashy.
When it comes to paper towels I do not have brand loyalty. I realized today that in the last seven years I have purchased every brand of non-decorated paper towel my local Wal-Mart and Wegman’s stock.
I’ve been reading a collection of Walt Whitman’s poems recently. One of them made me smile, for it is the story of my 2012 experience so far:
Year that trembled and reel’d beneath me!
Your summer wind was warm enough–yet the air I breathed froze me;
A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken’d me;
Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to myself;
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirge of the baffled?
And sullen hymns of defeat?
This one is challenging:
Have you learned lessons only of those who admired you,
and were tender with you, and stood aside for you?
Have you not learned the great lessons of those who rejected you,
and braced themselves against you? or who treated you
with contempt, or disputed the passage with you?
Have you had no practice to recieve opponents when they come?
My neighbor has a white Boxer. It’s a friendly dog. It spends the majority of most days inside. Sometimes in the evening my neighbor leaves the front door ajar, and the dog frolics outside until he is beckoned to return. I like the dog and always say hello when our paths cross. We get along well.
Yesterday in the early afternoon I took a short walk to check my mail. As I walked past my neighbor’s apartment I noticed the Boxer looking longingly out the window. By the time I returned the screen had been pushed out of the window, and the boxer had his head sticking outside. He was smiling.
Within moments he decided to leap. It was just several feet to the ground, so he landed safely. I opened the blinds on my balcony door so I could watch him. His first order of business was to run around marking trees. His tail was wagging. He was happy.
After he had marked trees, chased squirrels, and sniffed everything that looked remotely interesting he got bored. The Boxer realized he couldn’t jump back through the window; he was locked out of his apartment. So he laid down in the grass. He stayed there for hours. When he would briefly get up to circle a few times his head and tail were down. He was no longer happy.
Eventually clouds began to congregate in the sky. A slight breeze picked up. Rain fell. The Boxer got up and moved to the door mat in front of his apartment. He sat there forlornly in the rain, waiting for his owner to return and open the door.
I decided he was too big for me to simply lift back through the window (plus it might have looked bad if I was leaning into my neighbor’s apartment through a smashed screen if he happened to return). I was headed out to run some errands, so I didn’t want to leave the boxer unattended in my apartment (it also might have looked like dognapping). So I decided to keep the boxer company for a while. I went out and talked to him. He was happy to receive a little attention. We sat in the rain and talked about life . He wagged his tail. He was happy.
By the time I ran my errands I was soaking wet.
 It turns out that hearing loss is common in white Boxers, with some estimates as high as 8% that are completely deaf and another 22% with complete hearing loss on one side. I had no idea. So it is possible the dog was just being polite and had no idea what I was saying.
I manage several email addresses through one interface with Gmail. My primary email addresses receive little spam, and that spam is caught by Gmail spam filters. This is in part because I am careful where I use my primary addresses. I have an account set up with Yahoo that I use where I fear spammers might exploit the address (and that account gets a ridiculous amount of spam). I usually dump the spam from my primary accounts without reading it–but I recently made a comment in a casual conversation that I wanted to back up with some data. The comment was this: “Most of the spam I get is targeted toward personal growth.” 
I made this comment because it seems like a disproportionate amount of the spam I get at my primary email accounts is related to “male enhancement.” But after making the comment I wondered, is it true? Or do the often hilarious subject lines from these emails just make a bigger impression than the other spam?
So for one week I charted the spam I received at my primary email addresses. And behold:
The verdict: My statement could be considered valid or invalid, depending upon how you define it. Only 46% of the spam I received in the past 7 days was focused on personal growth , but that is still a staggering majority when it comes to subject matter. The closest to the 46% share was the 8% represented by dating (and the dating category was pretty broad–from legitimate dating to nsa matching). It’s safe to say that the dominant subject was personal growth.
This is rather amazing to me. I understand that male insecurity is difficult to overestimate. My question is: who falls for this? Seriously?
I’m very curious what the trigger was for this onslaught of spam. Is it purely demographic or is it based upon where my address was gleaned? (I knew I shouldn’t have signed up for the Monster Trucks Weekly and Bazooka Hunting Quarterly newsletters.)
 This was a euphemism–and most people in the conversation realized that was the case.
 Technically it may have exceeded 50% if you broaden personal growth to include education: I got offers to learn languages and earn degrees.