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Paul Stories: Twilight of a Mediocre Academic Career

Read the explanation of this series here.

In the middle of my freshman year, I met with Prof. Tony Sinskey, my advisor. In my first term, I had four passes and one incomplete, in Calculus. He said, “If you don’t stop spending so much time at the newspaper (Ergo) and the radio station (WTBS), you are in the twilight of a mediocre academic career, taking the path of least resistance, just slipping by everything. That can be done, you know. This is really a pretty easy school to slip by, if that’s all you want. But what will you be qualified to do if you just slip by? Certainly nothing in Mathematics or the Natural Sciences… It’s very easy here to try to do too much. And unless you’re a genius, your academic performance will suffer. And I don’t think you’re a genius.” Turns out I was qualified to be a journalist. And he was right, I wasn’t a genius.

Virtual Happy Hour Meets in Person

I have been meeting with a dozen fellow MIT alums of roughly my vintage on a zoom call (known as the VHH--Virtual Happy Hour) since the  height of Covid. With the perceived decreasing risk of the disease, there have been a few in-person sessions.

 For Derby Day, two of the south-bay members of the group joined two Lamorindans for fried chicken, deviled eggs, Mint Juleps, cookies and brownies (My Juleps were virgin), and beer cheese with crudités and dipping pretzels (along with some normal dips as well). It was three women and me, but as the father of two daughters it wasn't the first time I have been the only male in the room (including the time I was the only male in the pressroom at the first meeting of the National Women’s Political Caucus).

Fancy hats are a derby day tradition, so, for the first time in a few years, I donned my silk top hat.

Vhh top hat

  This and That

AI Coronation Afterparty

Cute and very scary

Two Decent Jokes.
In the otherwise deadly serious (pun intended) Fatal Attraction sequel on Paramount +: “Why do thet call them buildings when they’re already built? Why do they call them apartments when they’re close together?” George Carlin lives…

Crappy Signage
Do I get upset about lousy signage? Yes I do. The terrible signs at Kaiser Martinez for  example.
AI Coke Commercial
Far be it from me to fail to participate in the AI hype cycle: Generative AI Coke Commercial.

Humor: We’re Number One

The Top 5 Indications a Supreme Court Justice Is Taking Bribes

One of my three submissions made No. 1; the other two didn’t make the list. Guess which one:.(answer at bottom of this item, or at the other end of the link above. No cheating!)

  1. Takes a private jet from the bench to the men’s room
  2. Refers to the White House as an adorable little cottage.
  3. Casts the swing vote in favor of reversing the estate tax, so it is paid by the government instead of to it.

I’ve had scores of No. 1s over the years, but I am still happy when I have another. Most of mine disappeared when the original site was dismantled and closed for a decade, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, and old PSACOT columns, I recovered a half-dozen of my No. 1s.

Also: a great poem by the late humorist George Carlin.

Book Club: The Next Chapter

Book Club: The Next Chapter is a beautiful Italian travelogue, with some acting and too-cute-by far smutty/funny dialog thrown in. They had me at Diane Keaton (but aren’t you old enough to lose the ditzy?), Jane Fonda (a bit ironed for my taste, and proof you CAN be too thin), Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen. Their average age (as well as their mean age) is 82. It is a joy and pleasure to see all of them still working, and as leads, not cameos