John Lemon's Barrel of Fish

Posterboy for the whining conservative academic set. Candidate for troll of the week.


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Friday, September 05, 2003


Heavy schedule means that blogging will be light for awhile. My general impression at this time is that college would be a much better place to work if it wasn't for all the students and administerial duties. I've also tuned out the news for a few days, just long enough to buy a cowboy hat. I am asuming that nothing is happening out there in the world.

posted by John at 10:19 PM


Today while bathing Lemon Jr. in the master bathtub (a reward for showing his teachers the futility of postmodern pedagogy -- i.e., teaching from the heart), I noticed some very wet walls. Since it was the master bathtub (a very large soaking tub with room for massive amounts of toys), the walls don't have tiling, but are instead simply drywall and paint. No one would expect water to splash up there.

When asked how the water got on the walls (most likely when I went under the sink to get a new bottle of shampoo), Lemon Jr. replied, "It wasn't me. A giant airplane with a mouse came down and the mouse made the walls wet."

The NY Times will be picking up on this story shortly.

posted by John at 10:18 PM


Setting: Day 4 of Pre-School

"Dr. Lemon, normally our discipline policy is to help the child understand why he hurt the feelings of others. We encourage passive resolutions of conflict. However, we believe that your child is an extraordinary child and for that reason we have drafted a restraining order. If your son doesn't adapt to our nuturing environment, we're calling the police on Monday."

posted by John at 10:12 PM


I bought a cowboy hat yesterday! That didn't go over too well with 50% of the adults in the Lemonhouse. A vast majority of the toddler set approved though.

I also bought a paisley silk waistcoat (i.e., vest) that compliments some of my suits. I thought Mrs. Lemon would freak on that one, but she actually liked it.

posted by John at 10:08 PM


Mrs. Lemon and I have been wrangling over the following question today:

"Is it appropriate for a child to explore the world around him?"

Your input in settling this dispute would be greatly appreciated.

posted by John at 10:06 PM


It should read, "Is it appropriate for a child to explore the trash dumpster behind McDonald's?"

You might be suprised how the various adult members of the Lemonhouse lined up on this issue.

posted by John at 10:05 PM


Did anybody notice that yesterday's Democratic presidential candidate debate, which was geared towards the Latino audience, did not feature any questions or comments regarding Miguel Estrada? Hmmmm...

(Note: Blogging is light since I have much work here at the beginning of the semester.)

posted by John at 12:43 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003


Today's reading: Smashmouth and Tom Petty. (My wife had the Steve Burns CD). It was a very good day today!

posted by John at 6:01 PM


Bob Kerrey had a rather well-written op-ed in the WSJ today. I won't link to it b/c you have to be a paid website subscriber, and because I like my news to come in tree form. Kerrey's main point was that Lieberman is taking the high principled road in the Democratic nomination process, willing to "tell it like it is" when it comes to issues like school vouchers and foreign policy. I'm a bit skeptical on some of Lieberman's positions since he has "gone wobbly" on a few issues near and dear to my heart (namely vouchers). Need I remind you he backed away from some of his more conservative policies when he ran with Gore.

Nonetheless, Lieberman is a Democrat I could live with in the White House. (And the way Bush is going, Lieberman may even be the more conservative.*) At a minimum, I wish Lieberman would get nominated in the top slot of the Dem's ticket as I think a real debate on some issues would be warranted. Bush shouldn't be afraid to debate the tough issues so long as he holds true to some basic conservative principles (which, as I implied, he has shied away from). And as I said before, I think a Dean candidacy would be a drawback for the GOP's Senate hopes as an early Bush sweep out east could mean a drop in GOP voter turnout out west (disproportionate to Dean's supporters) and this in turn could translate into not picking up key Senate seats (and governorships, etc.).

* I'm disappointed recently in the White House not using the bully pulpit for Estrada (and as a means of winning over Latino voters to the extent that they could have) as well as this weird commission on saving manufacturing jobs, which won't save manufacturing jobs but will just waste money. The UN in Iraq thing has got me down as well.

posted by John at 6:00 PM

SMALL FISH IN A BIG POND, OR SMALLER POND?, which usually has trashy little articles that make USA Today look like the NY Times, and which are really nothing more than advertisements dressed as articles, today had a trashly little article nearly dressed as an ad. However, it raised an interesting question -- is it better to go to a smaller college as compared to a big university?

My initial answer is, yes the smaller college route is better. You are able to get much better attention at small schools and the faculty are less bogged down with work so you are more likely to get challenging writing assignments. Of course, there are always exceptions (one I will note below), but I think this is basically true. Interestingly, we pick most of our graduate students from the ranks of "middle tier" small colleges, not the big research universities. Of course the argument can be made that the big research U's have the brilliant scholars, but if they aren't teaching much or "dumbing down" assignments to make grading easier, then students won't benefit much. You don't become smart by standing next to a brilliant mind. You become smart by working hard (and getting a dose of good genetics helps too).

My caveat is that certain students who are aggressive in pursuing their education at a big U can do quite well for themselves. In large part these students are self-motivated and willing to demand a great deal from their institution. These are the skills that are needed in the corporate or entrepreneurial world. Nonetheless, the chances are higher that the "average" student will find it difficult getting the necessary challenges they need to improve themselves at a big U.


posted by John at 5:51 PM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003


This is getting ridiculous. The White House (via the EPA) lied about the air quality at Ground Zero following 9/11. Put your thinking caps on and lets imagine for a minute. It is September 12, 2001. Two buildings are down. The EPA orders an evacuation of a 20 square block radius around Ground Zero just in case the air is bad. What do you think the headlines would read now?

Perspective, folks. Perspective. No one ever imagined a couple of planes would down some major skyscrapers. And when it happened there is going to be some bad stuff in the air. Don't we have more important things to worry about relating to 9/11?

posted by John at 8:30 PM

Monday, September 01, 2003


Lemon Jr. starts pre-school on Tuesday. In addition to an exhorbitant tuition, we get assessed a special fee for the privilege of serving on the PTA, which all parents must volunteer for. What the hell is the point of sending him to school if I'm always gonna be there volunteering? Aargh.

Anyways, we had to fill out a questionnaire ahead of time about our child. Here are the questions (in bold) and my answers to the questions. Unfortunately, Mrs. Lemon had white-out and made a few changes.

What are your expectations for your child this year?

Survival is primary. Beyond that, I just hope he doesn’t bite anyone. [I thought this question was inane since the curriculum is set. However, Mrs. Lemon informs me that this is a Monsterstory school, which apparently means “anarchy.” I was quite disturbed to discover that the teachers want our child to find “his own ways of learning.” First, what the hell are we paying the teachers to do? Second, I think they will quickly agree that biting is not an adequate pedagogy.]

What are you [sic] child’s interests/hobbies?

Screaming in the car. Running around naked. Missing the toilet. Throwing Mommy on the roof. And farting contests with Daddy. Fortunately, grammar is not a key interest in our household as that doesn’t seem to be a priority at this school either. (This question was pretty difficult to answer given that “interest” implies some degree of focused attention – at least 5 minutes. You'll understand if you have a four year old.)

[Of course, our actual answers were: classical music, a desire to play the violin, reading Solzhenitsyn, and debating postmodern existentialism.]

What interest do you share as a family?

Farting contests. Screaming. That pretty much sums it up.

What kinds of guidance and discipline techniques do you use at home?

I wanted to say “smacking him with a brick” to see how fast they would sic the state on us, but calmer heads prevailed. Of course, like every other family, we put down that we have long, loving discussions with our son about the various consequences resulting from inappropriate behavior and then engage in a negotiation over acceptable boundaries. Our voices are always happy whispers.

What do you see as your child’s strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: He can terrorize the neighbor’s 7 year old. Isn’t distracted by any one thing for more than 3 minutes. Memorized Scooby Doo and Bad Boys theme songs. Doesn’t cry during horror flicks anymore.

Weaknesses: Still not as stinky as his father during various family contests. Can’t hit a 95 mph fastball.

Please offer any other information that you feel may help us to know your child.

He is pretty much annoyed by the 0.1% of kids who have peanut allergies since PB&J sandwiches have become a larger threat to our schools than heroin. And I really don't want you all to "know" my child. I want you to teach my child. That is why I am writing a big check. If I wanted somebody to know my child, I would allow him to wander freely at the Coffee Bean.

posted by John at 9:26 PM


...what a shitty little airline. They sell you headphones, but don't have any audio, just lame video. (I like my Enya-like posers on the plane.) Everyone was crabby. They wouldn't recognize any of my United stuff for upgrades. Asking for a bulkhead apparently was akin to petitioning the Supreme Court. And when I spilled water on myself, having bumped the beverage cart (my fault, not theirs), they didn't even offer me another glass of water!

posted by John at 8:52 PM


Why is it that I cannot paint my small tool shed (set back in the woods some 75 yards from the house) barn red, yet the neighbors kids can play in my yard whenever they want, leaving behind all manner of toys and items of apparel?

I think another name for "neighborhood organization" should be "supreme soviet."

posted by John at 8:49 PM


"Are you making coffee? Oh, its just the toilet."

"Daddy, let's clean the litter box and then throw Mommy on the roof."*

"Cats can't flush."**

* Totally unprovoked, this was one of the most quizzical comments I've heard from Lemon Jr. in quite sometime. FYI, Lemonhead does not have, nor has ever had, a policy of throwing the spouse on the roof.

** While not universally true, this was an accurate statement in a probabilistic sense.

posted by John at 8:40 PM

Sunday, August 31, 2003


I just had one of the best shoeshines ever. It took nearly a half hour, but I wish it would have continued longer. While the shoes were shined with the utmost attention to detail, my conversation with the shoeshine guy was one of the most interesting ever. The guy taught me more in 30 minutes than I learned over the past year, plus he did a dance. I gave him a 100% tip.

posted by John at 10:49 PM


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