Wednesday Morning, 4am

(Originally ran on February 10th, 2003)

There are certain questions we must all ask ourselves at some point in our lives: Why am I here? Where am I going? Am I going anywhere? Will this degree give me access to any form of palatable employment within my lifetime? And speaking of Lifetime, are there more than fourteen people that actually watch that network on a regular basis? Most importantly, just why on earth am I sitting at my computer at 4:23AM typing up a stream-of-consciousness rant that probably will be read by no more than those same fourteen people? (Mental Note: Make sure to include goofy illustration to attract readers.)

I'll tell you why I'm typing this, dear friend. Because we need to talk about the internet. The internet, you say? Why, what could move you to bring up such a thing in the wee hours of the morning? Just what about this "vast panacea of knowledge"* do we need to discuss?

This is what we need to discuss: online classes. Convenient? Yes. Innovative? Yes. Good source for pictures of people that look like Kenny Rodgers? You bet. Inexpensive? Not really. Effective? Can't say.

I can't say because I'm still in my first semester of such coursework. I can say one thing with confidence. If you only take two classes in a semester, and still plan on retaining some sort of marginal interaction with other human beings, don't take both classes online. For the past five weeks my entire classroom experience has consisted of exchanged message postings with people that claim to be fellow students but may in fact be deranged Communists doing extensive research in order to finalize their insiduous plot to rob my freedoms and make me like the Dave Matthews Band. Even now I sit alone in the dark trying to have a meaningful conversation with a 19-inch Mitsubishi monitor.

All of this research and study on the virtual world has given me the distinct impression that there are people out there that think an ideal life would be one completely alienated from society where you can manage all of your temporal needs through the services of US West and UPS. It reminds me of those old sci-fi TV shows where somebody like Captain Kirk meets an alien life form that has become so advanced that the only physical form they have left is this brain-looking thing that floats in a bowl of cream soda. Wait. Maybe that was a movie with Will Smith. At any rate, I'm quite glad to have my English1010 classes to keep me sane, where I can discuss important topics like Monty Python and the film Zoolander with my students face-to-face. There is something about human interaction that is vital, something we just can't do without. Maybe it's purely psychological. Maybe it's genetic. Maybe it's just that it's much more fun to see someone's instant reaction to being called a butt-head instead of waiting for a returned e-mail. Viva higher education.

Now for another important issue. I recently made the jump from Friday to Monday publication, a move that was extensively celebrated by friends, family, and an underground religious cult led by a buddy of mine from High School. While it makes me happy, it also concerns me to find that I am running against that grand inspirational figure of my own personal writing, Mr. Dave Barry. It concerns me because I'm not as funny as he is.

Mr. Barry, of course, has the benefit of fascinating letters being sent to him from across the country that give him zany ideas. I have the benefit of getting fascinating letters from the Columbia House DVD club demanding that I pay them for the copy of the Scorpion King that they shipped but that I didn't really want.

Therefore, in an effort to generate more mail response and hopefully more inspiration for healthy, humorous columns, I have decided to make my column more offensive. Here goes:

"You are all a bunch of snivelling, worthless ingrates with no taste in music, the best thing to do on a date in this town is to visit the Hyrum meat-packing plant, and Merlin Olsen wears go-go boots."

I look forward to your e-mails.

*quote attributed to my good friend and mentor Dr. David Vergobbi of the University of Utah. Important note: Dr. Vergobbi is a real-life good friend and mentor, as opposed to Dr. Venison Skidmore, my alter-ego good friend and mentor that happens to be named after deer meat.