Morbid thought of the day

The Duke Magazine periodical that I receive in the mail every other month is a pretty nice publication, but I only read it for the obituaries. And then I look up the deceased on Facebook.

(I’ll post some pet pics tomorrow, lighten things up…)


Duke takes its fourth

I’ve got some blurry iPhone pics from Satisfaction in downtown Durham, taken after Duke sealed its win over Butler for its fourth men’s basketball championship. What a game!

No, Psi Upsilon brethren, I did not go to campus to help defend the bench. I once kicked a Duke frat guy in the head, and I really didn’t enjoy it. I’m a 34-year-old dialysis patient (who skipped dialysis tonight to ENJOY the experience of the championship). Forgive me for not wanting to go to campus to defend a bench.

Go Duke!

Blurry iPhone photos can be a bit surreal…

Duke Radiology’s Right-Wing Propaganda

No, I’m sorry, sweeetie. I can’t change it. I’ll lose my job.

This is what a staffer in the Duke Hospital Radiology Department said to me after I, after 90 minutes of agony, requested that the television in the waiting room be switched from Fox News to anything else.

So I listed to Fox’s panel of analysts mock the the enthusiasm around the country for Barack Obama as if people who might be inspired by someone refreshing on the political scene were as crazy as…a bunch of Benny Hinn apostles (my analogy).

Then I heard about a half-hour on sexual predators, which seems to be the favorite topic of an loyal Fox News viewer. Slow news day? What’s going on in sexual predator legislation? And the story is always delivered with mock sincerity by one of those provocatively-clad blonde Fox NILFs.

And then, did you hear how low The New York Times has sunk, accusing John McCain of having had an affair? What gutter journalism by those liberal smear-mongers! Of course, the “fair and balanced” fact that Fox News ignores is that the Times story did not accuse McCain of having an affair. It simply reports that McCain staffers were very concerned that McCain was engaged in an inappropriate relationship. The Times wasn’t trying to make it a smear story about sex. The story is about how unstable McCain’s ethics might be, in direct contrast to his crusades for lobbying and campaign-finance reform. Those who worked closely with McCain had reason to believe that McCain was behaving inappropriately. That’s a legitimate story.

Anyway, anyone who either volunteers to watch or is subjected to watching Fox News on a regular basis without other news sources truly is getting a distorted view of the world. I don’t care if those with conservative leanings want to watch it. I do care that any place of business would force its patrons to watch it, let alone a health care facility where keeping patients calm and relaxed should be a top priority.

So, who is the big shot at Duke Radiology responsible for the don’t-turn-off-Fox-News-in-the-waiting-room policy?

Errors abound in new Duke lax book

I don’t know anything about K.C. Johnson’s new book chronicling the Duke lacrosse saga other than that it contains erroneous information that is used to help heap blame upon the local media, specifically the News & Observer. For a book which I assume purports to detail the shortcomings of the Durham police and DA’s fact-finding efforts, it is unfortunate that it itself contains errors, which, while seemingly minor, do unnecessarily tarnish the reputations of journalists who covered the case.

News & Observer editor Melanie Sills on Correcting “Until Proven Innocent”

Johnson has admitted a few of his errors, but, hey, the Duke lax players have heard plenty of apologies, too, and they still want $30 million. The absurdity of that is a whole other matter that I won’t go into. Alas, I’ve probably already said too much to prevents the inevitable comment attempting to lasso me into a debate on the matter. I probably won’t take the bait.

Drinking at Duke (circa September 1993)

Uncovered in a Toastie ’97 entry from Saturday, September 4, 1993, I wrote this for a freshman writing class.

Duke and drinking- I knew that the latter was embedded in the essence of the former, although this fact did not bother me in the least as I prepared to attend my university, Duke University. However, whatever nebulous blueprint I had conjured up for my first few days at Duke did not include the consumption of alcohol. Nonetheless, I found myself touring “the kegs” my first Saturday night at Duke. I found myself becoming immersed into Duke’s culture.

I certainly do not consider myself to have been a heavy drinker in high school. My social opportunities to drink were limited, and, thus, the occasions on which I drank and perhaps became drunk were very few as well. But I had been exposed to alcohol enough to know what effects it would have on me- my actions, my personality. While drinking always made me a more social person, as it does to most, I never drank to the point where I would lose the sense of who my true self was. Alcohol never compromised my morals or my emotions. And so one question which has pervaded my mind during my initiation into life at Duke has been, “What will my relationship with alcohol be now that I have entered a world which, much more than the place from which I come, truly embraces alcohol as part of its culture?” Introduction to “the kegs” at Duke has enabled me to begin answering this question.

The kegs. My “friends” from back home in New Jersey had to use their fake IDs to obtain them. Not until graduation-time did kegs even make an appearance at most parties (although that statement evolves from my very limited perspective of the high school social scene). But at college- at Duke- the kegs are simply a fact of life. Sure, they are supposedly banned on campus except for on weekends, but when the weekends do roll around, the kegs roll with them.

My cultural experience at Duke Saturday night found me among a small group of freshmen is search of these kegs on West Campus. I felt like an eaglet, gliding behind a few more learned predators, on a quest to find a party to descend upon. I had brought along an apparatus with me that I had heard might aid me if I happened to achieve the goal of finding a party. I plundered the Trent Cafe of a large-sized Coke cup which could be filled with 32 ounces of foaming brew. One of the elder hunters in the group led us to a small gathering of about a dozen upperclassmen. There were no other freshmen besides my wandering companions and me, and there was not much of a party, but there was a keg. And my Coke cup runneth over with beer. I downed the Super Big Gulp of beer in my hand and refilled for the unknown journey that would take me to the next party.

Next stop: Sigma Nu. Greek life. Okay. Of course, the significance of my first exposure to the world of frats did not escape me simply because the state of my mind was not completely lucid. As far as I know, this party epitomized the parties to come, although I am certainly no expert on the subject of frat parties at Duke. I observed casual contact between the sexes that I assumed would lead to much more in many cases. I saw the long lines of perspiring partygoers waiting for another refill of beer. A dark, crowded room contained the chaotic outlines of people dancing. Always self-conscious about my lack of dancing ability, I did realize that how I looked didn’t really matter to anybody. I was relaxed, and I was able to enjoy myself, which was a bit of a surprise to me. So I was just one of a hundred intoxicated souls, having fun. But I wonder how many of those people took some time to contemplate the nature of what they were experiencing. I am either blessed or damned with the tendency towards contemplation no matter what condition my mind might be in. What exactly was Dave doing at this Sigma Nu party? Well, this mind-blowing question would just have to be discarded, as my new contemplation was on the question of how I could possibly enjoy dancing and talking to a female whom I would probably never see or speak to every again. Does anyone pause in the middle of a keg party to consider such a thought? Does anyone else consider the such a thought paramount enough to relate to the female in question? Well, Dave does. Luckily, a couple of more beers and change of location ended my decent into the sober realities of my situation.

My last stop on my first tour of the kegs was “Pika” (Pi Kappa Alpha.) No contemplation here. Maybe I had another beer. One recollection I have is of an urgent need to relieve myself of what I had consumed. (I will not recount how I accomplished this task.) I also recall having a lot of fun and a lot of failure attempting to throw a guy’s hat up to his window two stories up. I had found a girl from my dorm at Pika, and so I did not have to experience any lonely emptiness returning to my dorm around 2AM. I actually engaged in some thoughtful conversation upon my return to my floor, but my first contact with my pillow sent me straight into a deep state of unconsciousness.

Two extra-strength Tylenol caplets at 5AM, and I felt fine upon waking up at 10AM. I did not drink enough to vomit or to lose that sense of my “true self.” And I actually had a good time.

I constantly contradict myself over the idea of drinking. I often disdain drinking and all that is associated with it. Behaviors and attitudes I have observed in others while they have been drinking have disgusted me, and I sometimes lose respect for myself when I realize that my short-lived contentment is being induced my alcohol. I have the highest respect for those who chose not to drink for whatever reasons they might have. What I have just said might indicate that I am against drinking. But I’m usually not. No matter how crude and senseless drinking may seem, I still want to do it, and I am still going to do it.

So I am obviously still very confused about my attitudes towards drinking. For God’s sake, I have been a freshman at Duke for one week; I am in an alien world. I think I should be confused. There is no doubt that kegs are a dominant part of the culture here at Duke, and I have no doubt that it will take some time before I figure out exactly how I fit into this culture. I think I have only begun to tap the kegs.

Why I Like Where I Live #9: Duke Athletics

Toastie, Duke Athletics??? But you’re always ranting about the lacrosse team. I figured you hated all things related to Duke Athletics.

Nah, I still like Duke Basketball, men’s and women’s. And while the Duke Football team has never inspired much loyalty from me, Wallace Wade is a nice place to spend a crisp autumn Saturday, especially if you’re trying to find a quiet place to reflect. 😀

I’ve just gone ahead and ordered a Duke Athletics Family Pass. I think it’s a great deal–four tickets to all of the Duke Football games and all of the Women’s Basketball games. (For Men’s Basketball, I get four tickets to a practice and a raffled chance to purchase “cheap” tickets to some games).

But, Toastie, you don’t have a family…

The Family Pass is a lot more economical than a Single Pass. I do have at least three friends. I might have to pay them to go to a football game with me, but that’s okay.

And this get a “Why I Like” entry because I’m only a couple miles away from Cameron and Wally Wade.


I don’t want to regurgitate my vitriol related to the Duke Lacrosse saga. Mike Nifong is out. Finally. Good. But, personally, the whole saga reflects far more poorly on Duke than it is does on Nifong or the Durham Police or the City of Durham. I’ve already said too much…do some in-site searching to find out whatever it is I wrote about the case over the past year.

Michael Bacon’s Bull in Full blog has an excellent summary of the conclusion of this mess

Memo to Reade, Collin, and David: STFU already

Cleared Duke student has hope for future – TODAY: People –

Seligmann told TODAY host Meredith Vieira that the 395-day ordeal for him and his fellow Duke lacrosse team players opened his eyes to the power prosecutors wield and the possibility that many innocent people may be imprisoned because they lacked the resources to fight false allegations vigorously.

Yeah, Reade, I know, I thought this only happened to poor, black people. I didn’t give a shit then. But now that I know it can happen to elite, white jocks, we’ve totally got to due something about it!

Seligmann turned down Duke University’s invitation to return to his studies, hoping instead to enroll in another school and work toward possibly becoming a criminal defense attorney himself one day.

Oh, poor Duke. I hope Dicky B. doesn’t take the rejection too hard. Hey, Reade, the thing about criminal defense attorneys…they make a lot more money when they defend guilty, rich people. Are you going to defend the poor, black guys on death row? Didn’t think so. That’s ok. There will always be young, rich assholes like you getting into trouble who will need your help.

“I think the ‘Duke rape case’ will always be associated with my name, but I think it is up to me to make something positive out of that,” Seligmann said. “I can either let that define who I am, or I can make changes. We can all work together and make positive things come out of this, and help people in the future who are falsely accused of crimes and prosecutorial misconduct.”

Reade, join hands with me and sing, “Kumbayah!”