The good old days

I realize that blogging has gone the way of Groupon…. a very useful trend that had its heyday a good five years ago and is now preserved by semi-tradiitionalists, people like me  who in their impulse to blog, are too verbose to tweet and yearn for the relative simplicity of the past.


I know I get nostalgic, especially when I reflect on what it’s like to teach during this ever so brave new world of digital madness.

I decided to become a teacher in the pre-internet age which was a good seven years BCE (Before cellphones existed).. I was sitting in a history class that I was on the verge of failing (ergo why I switched my major to English) and despite my lousy grades, I was so impressed that someone could be as passionate about teaching 19th European history as I was abut cheering for Larry Bird. I turned to my  classmate and said, I think I want to do what he does.


My friend laughed, one of those incredulous chuckles. “Oh yea,  well, you better start getting used to long weekends in the library”.

As I recall, I did not spend long weekends in the library, not unless there was a ton of snow and no one to play squash with. But I do remember that during my few periods of determined studying, my only bona fide distraction was a walkman (yes a walkman) on which I listened to the occasional game or alternative music mix tape.

It wasn’t until the internet was already past its embryonic stage that I actualized my plan to be a classroom teacher. But since it was still the 90’s, I can fairly accurately assert we were still in the analog age. Even when I was doing  student teaching for middle schoolers, miscreants whose attention span was just slightly longer than it takes to munch a foot long from Subway, if you taught a good lesson and varied the instructional mode, you could more or less keep their attention on you and the material. In fact, there were a few eager beaver learners who seemed disappointed when the bell rang. In the evenings, my grad school teachers imparted valuable wisdom and my peers were full of rich suggestions for dynamic lesson plans.

Fast forward to the sweet spot of the digital age. I have a few hours of classroom teaching and tutoring experience. And despite watching an excessive amount of tennis and reruns of the Ali G show, my brain still “functions ” effectively. Most days, it seems I’ve gained a pearl of wisdom or two. Regardless , I know the nuances of teaching, when to lecture and when to turn the reins over to the students.  Given a little bit of time, I can even create interactive, multi platform lessons. And best of all for maintaining a scholarly atmosphere, I mainly teach “adults”.


So during any given week, the seeds are planted for optimal teaching and learning. For the purpose of this blog, lets say my situation speaks for a large swatch of teachers who work at similar levels or age groups. And picture this, you have prepared a fantastic lesson that includes discussing the film The Big Short, creating a simulated activity that shows what was going on behind the scenes, even brought in examples that reflect similar activities in each of their host countries. Plus you have had your morning Joe.
…Except there is one minor impediment…

There stands a wall so large that not even Donald Trump could build it, a force field of interference so powerful not even the North Koreans could disable it. I feel it would be an insult to your intelligence to even spell it out. I’ll just use a few of the images. The adults and most of the teenagers caress, fondle, whisper sweet nothings and listen to its every utterance. Given the proper preparation and condiments, they would likely devour it whole. They can do the circuit training of swipe, punch in, press, upload, tag, send, log off, press and mute with their eyes closed.

And then there is the sobering side. Who is on the wrong side of the fence here? Or rather, who is on the wrong side of history? Is it Team Analog, within which we struggle to walk and chew gum at the same time, those of us who either paid attention most of the way through or fell asleep in class? Or Team Digital, able to rent an apartment, sell a couch, upload two pictures to Instagram, “poke” a friend, learn a new idiom and tag themselves in a post all in a single breath?  Perhaps this is TBD, but we know which team is having more fun…

digital addiction

Still, team Analog is convinced that team Digital is losing out. That one day they will wonder why it was worth maxing their ICloud storage space when they could have been focused on reading The Alchemist or analyzing highly relevant op-ed articles from the New York Times. Team Analog is still convinced that one day these millennial behaving adults will be asked to spontaneously recite a verse from a Robert Frost poem and panic because they can’t get Wifi.

Team Digital, meanwhile, thinks Team Analog should wake up and smell the coffee, or if not, at least upload his Groupon purchase using a mobile app.

As I continue teaching to the underinspired, I steal a glance at my phone. I wonder if it’s okay, if it is suffering the pangs of childhood neglect (after all, he is just six months old). All alone on a naked side of the desk, with no one to talk to… oh well at least he is getting fed, legions of group messages and emails…. And then I wonder if I am ok, separation anxiety has not fully set in, but it might soon if I don’t stay focused on explaining the difference between selling a stock short and merely buying at a low price.

My students, on the other hand, need not ask such frivolous questions. They have pictures to tag, texts to send and condos to buy. Besides, their maternal instincts are much stronger. They know better than to leave what is apparently, a very needy child, all to his lonesome.



Deja Vu…. All over?…Never!



This is entirely a work of satirical fiction. All characters, utterances, grievances, references to imminent events, and proximity to family are entirely fictitious, unless of course you agree with me. In that case, we will call it merely satire.
So you are starting to feel good about yourself and rightfully so. It’s 10:45 on a Thursday night and in addition to cleaning up the kitchen, having paid all the monthly bills and trudging your way through 45 minutes of weights in your basement, you have completed a day in which you worked six hours, bought flowers, chocolates, jewelry, took your wife out to a dinner and a short ballet recital, and restocked her supply of size 8 taupe shoes with four inch heels. That is in addition to handcrafting a “Happy 3 year anniversary of the day we went on our second date card”.

To savor the satisfaction, you grab one of the remaining four chocolates, catch your breath and uber reward yourself by allowing 10 minutes of ESPN inhalation. at 10:47, however,  you get blindsided by a revelation. Oh no, there is something I have to do this weekendI. Is it a birthday party? nah, we went to three last weekend. Golf with Ray? Nah, you used up that mulligan. Oh shit, Sunday is International XX Chromosome Day!!


Oh shit, Sunday is International XX Chromosome Day!!
Are you kidding me? What kind of sadistic feminist would make XX Day just three days after the third anniversary of my second date? Or for that matter, what kind of sadist would require relatively new husbands and fathers to commemorate so many days when lets face it, you are still working blood, sweat and tears to change a diaper before the next poop and memorize the lyrics to itsy bitsy spider. Come on, I need a personal assistant for these events.
And then for one second, there is a momentary wave of relief, kind of like what happens when you take your first sip of a cold beer after having turned in your third quarter 10th grade English grades.
Maybe my wife doesn’t know its XX chromosome day. Maybe she is so busy doing motherly things that she simply doesn’t have the time. Maybe all of her friends will forget too. Okay, I won’t cancel that golf game just yet.


And then an Eddie Murphy sized laugh detonates in your brain. Who are you fooling?

If you are one of the billions of men with wives, parents, siblings, offspring, and a bit of discretionary income, I’m sure you can relate.

As we age, “special days” lose their novelty, but multiply in frequency. And no down payments, dowry-sized gifts or IOU’s will suffice. You have to bring your A game at least 10 times a year. Lets look at the numbers:

Not including the major league acts of penance, there are at least a baseball lineup’s worth of events, New Years, Valentines, your souse and their parents birthdays, anniversary day, engagement day, and if you are in a mixed marriage, Christmas and Chanukah, not to mention Easter, Passover and All Saints Day. This does not even include your siblings and their children’s birthdays, much less your grandparents if they can still remember the date on which they were born.

I realize these events can be reciprocally demanding. At least in theory. But it overlooks three key factors. (1) Women like “events” and the logistics including shopping that go along with it (2) Men are not really good at these things other than making reservations, buying gift cards and tickets for big sporting events. (3) Failure to meet expectations is not mutually binding.


Then there is the strategic challenge. If you overdo it during the courtship phase, what can you do for an encore? Under-do things and you run a much less future failure risk but you also, well lets just say its a “dog eat dog world out there”.

The dilemma requires at least some munching on the four remaining pieces of chocolate.


I propose a solution. It plays into a man’s strengths even if it might not win over a large chunk of Hillary Clinton’s constituency. This takes into account that men are usually quite skilled when they get to focus on the big picture, or more specifically, one thing. Let birthdays, Mother and Father’s Day and religious holidays remain as they are particularly if they lead to ski trips or safaris in Tanzania. But for those over 35, lets designate one day, ideally either July 3 or 5 so we are likely to have the day off and some good food on the brain. We can call it IILD (International I Love You Day). The day and all its pomp and ceremony come with a 12 month residual.

Here’s the upside. The possibilities for cards and tokens of affection are endless. You could literally buy any card they sell, or use one that has been sitting in your car for a year. Plus the stores would have to get rid of some of the ultra corny celebration specific ones. You can buy a car, a house, an island, dog, shoe rack with shoes included. Bigger is better. But much like paying your homeowners insurance premium, you are then good till the next year.

And wait, the infomercial isn’t finished. The non-perishable ways of expressing your love are endless too..

I’m fan of this consolidation, so much so that I’ll even send all the chocolate I have left over from the last decade and a few shares of FB stock to the guy who lobbies Congress to make it happen. Shit I’ll even vote for Trump because he will certainly make it “great”.

And I have a funny feeling that people close to us, lets say our wives, might by bullish on it too.

After all, there will be fewer required trips to Sports Authority.


Well that’s it for my “theoretical” rant. I have a golf game at 2. Oh crap, wait, I know there is something else I have planned for today. I think it involves lunch and a few tokens of appreciation.

It’s coming to the frontal lobe. Oh yes, I remember now. It’s the Kentucky Derby.

Oh wait that was yesterday.

I’ll check the iPhone I just bought for my…….grandmother.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!