Monday, September 10, 2007

The Importance of Being Ernest...

Names are so important in life, but at the same time, they don't really matter because they ARE arbitrary. My wife and I are struggling to find names that might communicate the perceived possibility of our baby. Of course we have no real idea what this child will become, but being first-time parents, we want to positively influence our oldest child to be the coolest, smartest, etc that they can.

I've been told and heard that this radically changes with a second and subsequent children. Being a second/middle child, I understand why and how this occurs, yet I am not immune to my psychology's attempt to determine the need for us to choose THE perfect name for our son.

Furthermore, being a student of semiotics and cultural studies, so many different and competing drives enter the equation. I want to choose a name that will give my son some gender fluidity because I don't want to force hegemonic (yeah, I used that word, whatcha gonna say about it?) masculine ideals on him, say "Hank" or "Dick". At the same time, knowing the strength of power in culture, I do not want to be too out there and leave them open to painful and potentially scarring him by the years of jeers and beatings that my sons will probably be subject to just by the fact that they have me for a father, say "Claire" or "Rene".

In addition to gender distinctions, there are obvious ethnic, racial, and ideological influences. We want to communicate our faith and family backgrounds but do not want to force that on our child but would prefer that they express that interest as a choice.

This does not really represent a wholly intellectual pursuit either. We also want to have a pleasant aesthetic sense in a name that will will probably end up calling and saying and yelling for the rest of our lives.

All of this rigamoral of discussion is just to say: If you have suggestions of guides or names that would fulfill all of these criteria, then I am open to suggestions.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Making the Geezers laugh...

As a new lecturer/professor, whatever I am, I've been trying to figure out who I am and what in the wide world of sports I am supposed to be accomplishing in each class. These students pay a fair amount of money to be in a classroom with me, but it is not a commercial relationship. This has lead me to an observation.

Teaching is a hell of a lot like being a stand-up comedian in an old-folks home. While I have not ever held this position, but I can guess from my experiences in church and band when we played or sang for old folks. My imagination gives me an image that is remarkably similar to what I do every day.

Nearly every day, I stand in front of a group of people who are...
  • confused as to why they are there and
  • who would prefer to be in bed.
  • Many of them are on drugs or the influence of something.
  • Without fail at least one of the audience falls asleep during my spiel, and
  • they resent all attempts to make them get up, move around, or interact with each other.
  • None of the audience really trusts other members of the audience, and
  • they displace these feelings by revealing cynical/skeptical opinions about me, my topics, and my being there.
  • The fact that I dress up or down results in criticism from some quarter.
  • I have no real idea where they are coming from or what they might be interested.
  • Many of the members of the audience miss their home and familiar surroundings.
  • The male members of the audience wish to find the prettiest thing in the room and stare at it or touch it.
  • The females wish to be pleasant and not attract too much attention.
  • There is drooling.
  • I am expected to do my little song and dance, but actual attempts to be cute/charming/etc are frowned upon.
Of course, this implies some stereotypes, but it is close enough to keep me up at night.