Just so you know...

The Tumblr app is better for my iPhone.

I have just launched a year-long journey, teaching English in Seoul, South Korea.

Follow me at jcganus.tumblr.com.

Best is yet to come...


Bring it.

I am a commitaphobe. I'm not afraid to admit that - in most circumstances it comes in handy, keeps me from making plans I am not prepared to make. "Dinner next week?" - we'll see. "Cancun for Spring Break?" - talk to me closer to time. What if something goes wrong? What if I don't feel like eating a single meal all of next week? How am I supposed to explain that to someone without hurting their feelings?
The best ways to get me to commit to a task are A)pay me B)bet me. The latter explains why I am in the middle of week 3 of p90x (henceforth known as The Bitch).

For those of you who are thinking about jumping on the extreme-workout wagon, let me give you a rundown of the schedule for the first three weeks of the journey.

Day 1 - Chest and back: Just freaking shoot me. This workout is so hard all pretence of eloquence escapes me. Six types of push-ups (yes, there are actually six out there), 5 types of pull-ups, all done with max reps...twice (hence the "X").

As each workout proceeds we are encouraged to set goals per exercise. Since I am fully committed to this program, I comply. First time around I feel good. The leader, Tony, and his cronies set goals along the lines of 30 (and more annoyingly, 31). I am realistic and set a goal along the lines of 10, which I proudly announce to the television when asked. "Great," comes Tony's reply after my proclamation...sometimes I feel like I am watching Dora. These 10 I do with relative difficuty, the military push-ups come after regular push-ups, the wide-set pull-ups after reverse grip pull-ups...but I get through dammit.

The second time around, however, I have to really commit myself. I must muster all the discipline I have put on reserve for so many years and let it rush to my mind, to my biceps, to my back and chest. I must fight the fatigue and shove aside that voice in my head telling me to stop, to give up. I grunt, and breath, and groan, and scream...

This doesn't work. I fall on my face.

Over and over I fall on my face. No amount of proper breathing or focus helps. I start at the top of a push-up in beautiful form, but as soon as my elbows come out of their locked position, my joints become bendy straws and I fall to the ground.

"If you can't do it yet, just keep trying," the asshole on the screen encourages me from his 45-year-old-but-looks-maybe-20-at-the-most mouth, the sound resonating in his perfect chest, while his 45th rep looks more perfect than my first.

At this moment I make a real commitment. From this second on, I hate all people with muscles.


Counting to 100-hundred

I was "Star of the Week."

This is a big deal - an entire bulletin board dedicated solely to you...in this case, me. My accomplishments and interests put on display for all to envy. Move over Jonathan DuPriest, I was about to be the most fascinating person in class (he was typically considered the most interesting because he was the only black person in the class...maybe in the whole school).

I had made my mother take a series of me in my favorite yellow shirt (the one with giraffes on it). I had painstakingly assembled my list of favorites.
Color: orange
Food: CCC and Fettucini Alfredo (I was impressed with myself for knowing CCC could stand for chocolate chip cookies and for knowing a pasta dish beyond the mundane spaghetti and meatballs).
Place I've Been: Italy (booyah! The best one so far had been the Grand Canyon)
Famous person: George Bush (Typically the question for boys was "Favorite Sports Star," but I only knew one. I would have preferred the girl's question, "Favorite Movie Star," but didn't want to answer a girl question. GB had just been elected so I thought it was a reasonable move.)
What I want to be: A doctor, artist, actor, lawyer, house-husband, switchboard operator or president. (Further explaining my very unique and intriguing interest in Bush.)

Just one more major question remained - "An Interesting Fact About Me."
Most of those were covered in the answers to previous questions. I.e., I want to be president, I know a lot about food, I have been to Italy. Luckily I had had a striking revelation earlier that morning....

We had been studying numbers. After reaching 100 my teacher explained how it works from there, "and when you get to ten-hundred it's called something different. It's called a thousand!"

My mind had been blown - more than a hundred was simply unbelievable. but with deliberate thought and careful consideration I came up with my interesting fact.

"I can count to ten-thousand!"

This was shear brilliance. No one else in class could do that, and if they could they hadn't figured it out yet. But then, as always, my teacher had to shoot me down for the heavens.

"No you can't," she said with a snicker.

"Of course I can - you taught us how this morning," I quickly replied.
"But you never have," she fired back.

"I've never done a penny-drop from the highbar, but I know I can do that. I've never run around the room with my shirt over my head, but I know I can do that."

Whether it was my simple defiance, or the teacher was still sensitive to the subject because Meredith had been sent to the office earlier in the day for running around the playground with her dress over her head - I ended up in the guidance counselor's office. A room with which I was very familiar.
After talking to Mrs. McKee for a few minutes I returned to the room.

"Now, have you come up with something?"

"Yes. I think it is interesting that no one believes I can't count to 10,000, even though I can," I said confidently. And after quick reflection added, "and I can do a penny-drop from the highbar."


From my father

There is no doubt I received most of my personality from my mother. My tendency towards codependence, my resolve to do things that can't be done, my conviction of self disillusionment as a form of progress - these are characteristics that have been passed down for generations in my mitochondrial DNA. They may seem negative, but I will be the first to point out they are actually keys to understanding others. And if there is one thing my mother (therefor I) does (do) well, it's understand others.

Through the years I have blamed my father for many things: my inability to shave properly, my utter hatred of boats (especially ones headed for waterfalls), puberty, my adolescence, the fact that I can't save a dime to save my life (granted, it's because he was too good of a provider, but I still blame him). However, there are a few - 6 to be exact - things I gleaned from him that rank among my favorite personal attributes.

1. I am a musical snob. Not in the good way. Not in the way that I am always up to date on the current stuff, and turn my nose up at the Kings and Queens of Pop and Rock - whomever they may be at the time. You see, unlike my father I am able to let loose of preconceived notions regarding musicianship to accept new forms and experience a song viscerally instead of just rationally. That said: chintzy music is not an option. Cheap thrills in musicals or orchestras will not be tolerated. Do it well, or don't do it at all.

2. Driving is just like sitting. In fact, it's better because you are going somewhere. If there is somewhere to go and you have the time, you may as well drive. My dad has been known to drive 3 hours for dinner with his kids and drive back after the meal, or 16 hours to drop off a washer and dryer just to unload and head back home.
In fact, if you give me an audiobook - I feel like I am cheating the system. I am getting to sit (which is one of my favorite things to do), "read" a book (which is also a fave) and set forth with a definite purpose and achievable goal...ah, rewards.

3. Why say "hello" when you can say "good evening?" One of the most loathed memories of my life started with my beloved Pops saying "good evening" to me. But it's such a good thing to say. Why say "it was really good" when "it was wonderful" sounds superior. "She is very nice" pales in comparison to "she is delightful."
In this way you can also avoid wasting words. Which leads to number 4...

4. There is no point in arguing with an intelligent man. We were raised knowing arguing was fruitless based on this premise: "I respect your intelligence enough to know you are either right, or will come to the right conclusion in your own time." A time comes when my words will do no more to enlighten, and will only rev the defensiveness of the wrong..ahem, I mean 'opposition.'

5. It is much more rewarding to be angry with someone if they don't know you are angry with them. This way they cannot feel satisfaction at having angered you, and you run less risk of blowing up at them. Many people call this "passive aggressiveness." I call it "paternal instinct."

6. At the end of the day, nothing puts my mind at ease more than a clean kitchen. Unloading and loading the dishwasher. Scrubbing a few pots from dinner. Wrapping up the leftovers. Scrubbing out the sink, wiping down the range, sweeping the floor. Turn on the dishwasher and turn out the lights. Your hands smell like disinfecting wipes and soap, and your pleasant fatigue makes Conan just that much funnier.
Granted, I think I Dad mostly cleaned the kitchen at night so we wouldn't immediately ruin everything - but I hope he gets at least a little of the satisfaction out of it that I do.

If not - perhaps that is something I can teach him one day.


This post is boring

Saturday doesn't count. It can't. I went to the lake - one cannot be held accountable for things that happen (or do not happen, for that matter) at the lake. Somewhere — in that vast pool of water that spans as far as the eye can see — there is a whirlpool that sucks all the knowledge and desire for knowledge into a deep, very intelligent, aquatic chasm. A lengthy way of saying it is nearly impossible to get anything done while sitting at the lake.

Today, however, I studied. I went to the library and made a legitimate attempt at learning. I put amino acids down on cards, pretended to do some problems (but really just let the back of the book guide me through the answers — which inevitably screws me on a test) and talked to Hamilton about the electrician's report on his new house. Trust me, that last part is very necessary in biochemistry.

Do you think people who haven't gone to, or registered for college get the "101" reference? I've seen it a lot today "church growth 101," "downtown artists 101," and I am afraid there is a large portion of the population who have know idea what 101 means. Just another case for making education more accessible.

#1 distraction today: sleep. It's so great. As a person who is deftly skilled in the art of sleep, I hone my skills whenever possible. I took an impressive nap. Some people consider napping and sleeping in to be a waste of time, but really, if I could do one thing for the rest of my life it would be sleep. So really I am just doing something I love.

To end this disjointed post: a recipe (dinner tonight).

Cream sauce
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parm
stick of butter
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dry basil (probably about 1/2 tsp)

Mix it in a saucepan, don't let it boil. Use your favorite pasta (bowtie, in my case).

Notes: use less cream cheese, fresh parm and just add nutmeg to individual bowls - but it really kicks off the flavor.


What I should be doing

I'm in school and it's hard. I am frequently told for every 1 hour of time in class I should spend a minimum of 3 hours outside of classes in preparation.

This is simply not possible.

People might disagree, but they shouldn't. Anyone who says they actually study that much is either dreadfully boring or a much better person than I. So, obviously the former. I am much more of the mind that studying for a solid 20 or 30 hours leading right up to test time is more effective (this theory is still being tested with varying results).

So I am going to take advantage of my lack of focus. I will not feel guilt, or wallow in self-pity while my classmates (a.k.a. the people getting into medical school instead of me) bury their brown-noses in a book and try to stay afloat in the cesspool of biochemistry.

I am going to blog about it.

I am going to contribute a few weeks to noticing what it is that I am doing instead of what I should be doing. This is an exercise akin to writing down all one's purchases and identifying the trivialities of spending (yet another goal that is completely unachievable by people of reason).

I should be making out the rest of my amino acid flash cards...instead I am writing this. Day 1.


The perfect public restroom:

Starts with an entry way - just somewhere to stand should a line develop. This will lead to a row of urinals (the right height, and depth as to prevent splashing) spaced far enough apart, with dividers - preferably with a ledge (to place a drink on).

The sinks are on the opposite wall, it's disgusting to be in the same line as men peeing when you are trying to clean your hands. They are positioned on a counter top that is sloped towards the sink in order to prevent a solid inch of water from leaving a nasty line on trousers should one accidentally lean against the vanity. The faucets would have sensors and one thick flow - not the kind with several thin streams. Foam soap...with a sensor.

Hand dryers in order of preference:

1. XLerator. This goes against my typical aversion to clever misspellings for marketing purposes - but this guy makes up for it. It is fast, hygienic, loud (to drown out anyone who might still be trying to talk to you in the bathroom) and entertaining (it moves all the skin around on your hand). Plus they are motion controlled, so you don't feel wasteful for walking away before it is done.

2. Motion controlled paper towel dispenser. Only if it ejects a sheet long enough to actually dry hands with. Few things are more annoying than having to wait for that dang red light to go off so you can wave your hand around like a moron attempting to get another square-inch of paper towel.

3. Lever controlled paper towel dispenser. Preferably the kind that has a big enough handle to push with my elbow. I don't like the tiny ones that you have to grip.

4. Regular paper towel dispenser. When correctly loaded these classic fixtures can allow for perfectly controlled and customizable hand drying.

The following have no place in a public restroom:

5. Regular-powered hand dryers. They are ineffective, slow and wasteful. I always end up giving in and just wiping my hands on my jeans.

6. Funneled paper towel dispensers. The kind that looks like you are pulling a Clorox wipe out of the bin. By the time the towel is flattened to full capacity it is too wet to do any good. Also difficult to pull out the right amount, they just keep coming.

7. The fabric towel swing. While this is an entertaining novelty - it is just sick. Sick.

8. "Using both hands, pull firmly on edges of towel. If no towel is present turn wheel on side of fixture." No, just give me a damn towel. This isn't a freaking Olympic sport.

All this leads to a trash can near the door, one without a lid and no overhang (to allow for an easy toss-in), and a door that you can push open. Yes, push. Why would I go through all the trouble of sanitizing my hands just to have them soiled by the neanderthal before me who wouldn't know good hygiene if it licked the underside of his shoe.

One day I will find this place and I will pee a very happy man.