Monday, July 31, 2006

10 Things to Know When Driving in Phoenix

As a service to the public, I have decided to provide a list of 10 Things to Know when Driving in Phoenix.

1. 98% of the drivers do not know how to drive in the rain. Even little sprinkles can throw Phoenix drivers into a panic. They either slow to a crawl or continue to drive like maniacs.

2. On the relatively rare occasions a road floods, if there is a sign saying "Do Not Enter", DO NOT enter, dumbass. I don't care if you have an SUV, you probably have never taken it off-road (and no, the dirt parking lot at the local camp ground does not count) so you have no idea exactly how it's going to handle and will probably get stuck. The only people who will care that you have an SUV are the cops who are going to have to pull your dumbass out - did I mention, if they have to rescue you, they charge you for it? And that's only when they can get around to it, assuming you're not in imminent danger.

3. Turn blinkers are completely optional. If you want to change lanes, the best way to do so is to simply start to move over. If they don't move, then signal with the middle finger of the most appropriate hand.

4. The speed limit is always at least 5 mph faster than the person in front of you.

5. The police radars are set to take your picture only if you are more than 10 mph over the speed limit. This means if you suddenly brake down to the real speed limit, you are likely to either be rear-ended or flipped off, or both.

6. Fancy sports cars, Hummers, and "crotch-rocket" type motorcycles always have the right of way, regardless of any laws which may say otherwise. It's not so much a rule as a safety thing. They're probably going to take the right of way regardless, and as they obviously have more money than you, they can afford to hire a better lawyer to get them off and blame you for any accidents. It's just better to let them have their way.

7. If you're here in the summer, your car will be hot. I'm talking industrial oven hot - for example, if you leave a water bottle in the car all day, by the time you come back it will be hotter than the coffee you had this morning. Nothing you can do will really prevent this (lessen it some, yes, but really prevent, no), so get over it and quit whining. This means you do not want to leave anything which can melt in your car. This includes, but is not limited to: cassette tapes, most foods, the glue holding the clip on your garage door opener, and your hands when you first grip the wheel. Most importantly, DO NOT leave any living thing (ie - children, pets, elderly relatives) in there without the a/c on (seriously, in my opinion anyone who does this should be locked in an a hot car themselves until they look like a well cooked pot roast)!

8. Road closures for construction are the norm, here. The roads are an ever shifting slalom of cones, barrels, and potholes. Personally, I think they just keep moving the cones around to confuse people but I have no proof of this . . . yet. Along with this are the people who will try to force their way to front of a construction zone. Most other drivers will not let these people in and are often carrying guns, large tire irons, and/or large Maglites, so if you are thinking about cutting around like this, don't.

9. There will be at least one accident every rush hour, more likely 3 or 4. If you pass one, don't rubberneck unless you want to be the next one. Just accept that your drive will likely be hindered by an accident - even if it's not in the immediate area as traffic will be diverted your direction. Believe me when I tell you that "car-b-q" is a real and frequently used term.

10. People will jump on the red light just as other people are trying to sneak through. This is why one of my friends and I have talked about getting an old beat up truck, welding a roll cage in the cab, getting crash helmets and five-point harnesses so that we can cut these people off when the light goes green. We'll be fine and then we can just settle with them right there for whatever they have on them - their watch, their cash, any CDs they might have, their cell phone. If they try to complain, well, funny, my neck is starting to hurt and now my back is beginning to spasm, and you know, I think that nice BMW you hit us with might just cover the medical bills!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Randomness for July 26, 2006

Random Quote:
It's foolish to bet on a horse without talking to him first. I know it seems silly to ask a horse who's going to win a race - but it's no sillier than asking anyone else. ~ Grace Allen

Question of the Moment:
Why do people care so damn much about the offspring of celebrities?

Current Mood: none
Current Music: The Grateful Dead, "France," Shakedown Street

Visit from Kaha'i

Ask and you shall receive, I guess. The other day I was lamenting the lack of rain here in Arizona. Apparently the gods were listening. Last night Haniakuluiau paid us another visit, but this time she brought Kaha'i, the god of lightning, with her. And boy was it obvious when they arrived. It rained at my place for a good three hours, and there was a period of maybe 30 or 40 minutes when there was just constant lightning. I filmed some it and you can see it here. Most of it was just up in the clouds, but there were a few ground strikes. In fact, one hit one of the buildings in my apartment complex - the one directly across from mine. There was this absolutely tremendous flash/bang, which caused the lights to flicker. I went outside to see what had happened and one of my neighbors was on his porch. He pointed across the said and told me the lightning had hit "right fucking there!" I couldn't see any damage last night or this morning, so I guess things are OK, but still - it surprised the hell out of me. What I did see this morning was the damage to all the trees in the area. I expect to see some branches and maybe a small sapling down (of which there were many), but the wind was strong enough to bring down at least two full grown trees that I saw. The radio this morning said that Sky Harbor Airport reported at least one gust of wind over 90 mph (I have not, however, been able to confirm this report as of yet).

I stood outside for quite a while just watching last night. As I've said, I love the rain, but I also love lightning. The pure power and beauty of it is hard to match. This does not mean I'm stupid about it, however. Having electrocuted myself on a couple of occasions, and as the family car was struck by ball lightning (basically a big static discharge) while my father was holding on the raised tailgate, we know for sure that my family seems to attract electrical activity. While I love to watch the lightning, I respect it and don't mess around with it.

You know, there are days you wonder if the gods are really there and if they are really listening. Then there are the days they make sure you know.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More Fun than a Clown Car on Fire

If you don't mind a bit of twisted humor, check out Foamy the Squirrel at iLL WiLL PreSS. I will warn you, this is twisted humor and not necessarily for the little ones or the easily offended. It updates every two weeks, so you can just check in every now and then. The current episode is on the possitive influence of Mexicans in America. DO NOT start ranting about illegal immigration (that means you, Theodore!) - that's NOT what this episode is about. Just watch it!

As someone living in Arizona, the influence of Mexican society is just a given - and in my mind, it's a welcome thing.

Also, anyone who either works in or deals with tech support should go to Friends of Foamy and check out episode 57, aptly named "Tech Support," in the archives.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Driving to Work on a Monday

It's amazing how aggravating a ten minute drive to work can be. And I don't simply mean because it's Monday - although that might explain some of the brilliant driving I saw this morning. I known for a while that people in Phoenix don't know how to drive, but rarely have I seen it as clearly as this morning. First, there was the asshole in my apartment complex who decided to back out without looking behind them and nearly ran their little "sporty" car into my truck (it wasn't a real sports car, but one of those designed to look one). Next, there was the guy who decided he was tired of waiting behind someone at a left turn - so he pulled around them on the left (ie - into the on-coming lanes) to make the turn, but luckily there was no one there for him to hit. Number three was the guy in front of me who was going so slow that he was dangerous to everyone. As I passed him, I saw why - he was talking on his cell phone! Now, I'll admit that I have been know to drive and talk on my cell at the same time, but at least I put it on cruise control, and ask whoever it is if I can call them back in a few. Fourth, a two-for-one. Two different drivers pushed their way to the front of the line at a construction zone. You know where construction narrows the road from two lanes to one? And there are always the people who feel they should be able to just cut to front and not wait like everyone else? Yeah, that. These people really bug me, and whenever it's possible (and safe) I try to block them out. And then to top it all off, when I got the parking lot and ejected my CD, the radio was playing Phil Collins. I hate Phil Collins. Let's see, it was about ten minute drive, with five aggravation, that works out to one aggravation every two minutes. This does not bode well for the start of the week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mahalo, Haniakuluiau.

We are finally getting some halfway decent rain here in Phoenix. It doesn't happen all that often, even with our talk of "monsoon" season. The Phoenix Valley is a little bit of an odd place when it comes to the rain. Whenever we get a grey, cloudy, rainy day, people are actually very happy. Maybe it's because it's such a relatively unusual event for us. I mean, other places I've lived, when it starts to rain people get depressed and they mope around. Here, you will see people walking around in the rain with their heads tipped back just a bit so the rain falls on their faces. I will freely admit that I am one of these people. Thinking about it, the lack of rain is probably the thing I dislike the most about living in Arizona (and, yes, I am aware of the fact that I frequently rant about the heat, but that's really a secondary thing). Don't get me wrong, I actually have come to really love living here. The desert has a unique beauty to it that cannot be found elsewhere. And I'm not too sorry to be rid of the three feet of snow you sometimes get in Colorado. But I do miss the rain.

Everywhere else I've lived, it rained on at least a semi-regular basis. In Colorado, during the summer, you could watch the thunderheads build and boil over the front range through the early afternoon and we would often get these absolutely amazing thunderstorms in the early evening and into the night. I lived just outside Seattle for a few years as a small child, and we all know how much it rains there in the winter (despite popular opinion, it does not rain all year - just for between half and three-quarters of it). Hawai'i, where my dad's family is from, is pictured as this sunny paradise - which much of it is. But where we're from, it's rain forest. You get both the strong down pours and the long, light drizzles. It rains in Waimea (Big Island, not Kaua'i) probably between 3 and 5 days a week on the dry side of town. The wet side, it's 5 to 7 days a week. I also spend some time living in Swansea, Wales, which could give Scotland a run for its money when it comes to rain - at least, during the winter it could. It doesn't rain that much in the summer. So, Arizona is really the first place I've lived without at least some rain. It means that I take special pleasure in days like this when we do get some.

Of course, in time I spent writing this, the rain has stopped. sigh.
And before anyone asks, Haniakuluiau is the Hawai'ian goddess of rain.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Randomness for July 18, 2006

Random Quote:
"Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons. ~ Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Question of the Moment:
Why is it that I'm being blamed for drinking all of the coffee? Especially considering that it's my coffee, in my coffee pot, in my office.

Current Mood: cynical
Current Music: Green Day, "Jesus of Suburbia," American Idiot

HA! How do you like it?!?

Finally, the rest of the nation knows something of what we deal with every summer here in Arizona! While most of the rest of the country is in the grips of a "deadly heat wave" (that's how phased it), we here in Arizona are asking, "What's the big fucking deal?" Yes, it's hot. So what? So New York is supposed to be 100 today. Phoenix had it's first 100 degree day back on February 26th! People are talking like this will cause the collapse of civilization and that it's "not fit for human beings" (CNN again). Get over it. Yes, I know there is this thing called "humidity" which other parts of the nation have to deal with. And if I understand it right, this so-called "humidity" makes it more uncomfortable. Good! You're going have to put up with "deadly heat" for what, maybe a week? Our heat last for months! (I'm clearly taking a certain amount of malicious glee in all of this, aren't I?) Just wait until you walk outside in the morning and think, "boy, it's a little cool this morning," only to realize that it's already above 80. Then you can complain about the heat!

And just so people don't think I'm completely indifferent to the fact that people have died because of this heat, I want to make it clear that I'm not. It is sad. BUT! Arizona had 51 heat related deaths last year. So, to the rest of the country, you're nothing special. Just deal with it and quit whining!

UPDATE: Wednesday, July 19, 2006
CNN now reports that heat deaths are up to a total of 12 people across the country. When I first wrote this, there were only three.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Randomness for July 13, 2006

Random Quote:
"I gotta pull up my boots real high because the bullshit is getting thicker." ~ Richard Pryor

Question of the Moment:
Who the hell thought it was a good idea to construct an all glass building in Arizona? Can you say "Big Fucking Green House"?

Current Mood: irreverent
Current Music: Capercaillie, Secret People

Red Paper Clip = House?

Well, I'm sure some of you have heard of this, but there is a blogger from Canada who has been working on converting a red paper clip into a house. Seriously. Kyle MacDonald started with a single red paper clip about a year ago. It was his goal to trade the paper clip for something just a little bigger and a little better. He would then repeat the process until he could trade for a house. He has finally succeeded. I must admit, I wouldn't have thought of doing it, but I do have tip my hat to him. Hmmm....I wonder if I could do the same to get the money to pay off my car loan? Anyone want to trade for an old, dry ball point pen? Anyone? No one? *sigh* back to doing it the old fashioned way, I guess . . .

Read the Reuters report here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Signs You Have Had Too Good A Time

Well, I threatened a while back to write a list for all the dumbasses who don't know when they have had too much fun (read the original post here). This was not an idle threat. So, here is the "Signs You Have Had Too Much Fun" list.

1. Your underwear ends up on another person's car.

2. You develop an accent - from a place you have never been.

3. Suddenly, you are an expert on politics, sports, Russian literature, and obscure music - and you know they are all interrelated . . . somehow.

4. W's foreign policies begin to sound rational and coherent.

5. You believe the Democratic Party actually has a platform.

6. You believe that your beer is the best place to store your cell phone.

7. The winos are looking concerned at your behavior.

8. The room spins in different directions depending on which eye you have open - and you don't want to even think about what would happen if you opened both at the same time.

9. The idea of mixing random liquors in hope of finding the perfect shot is an appealing one.

10a. Americans - You begin to understand the rules for cricket.
10b. English - You begin to enjoy baseball.
10c. Welsh - You begin to cheer for England in a football (soccer) game.

11. The police knock on the door and you ask them if they were brought the pizza and another case of beer.

12. You think Kenny G and Michael Bolton are gods!

13. Your equally impaired friend says, "I bet you can't [fill in the blank]" and you, of course, have to prove them wrong.

14. You wake up and your first thought isn't "Where am I and what did I do?" It's "What day is it and who the hell am I?"

15. You start dancing to Hootie and the Blowfish.

16. You swat the car on the nose and drive your dog home.

17. You have a deep and meaningful conversation - with the cat.

18. The ATF has formed a You division.

19. You find out what you did last weekend from a judge.

20. You friends tell you that you invented a new language made entirely of swear words.

21. Your last breathalyzer reading was "No Fucking Way."

22. You can say "Whiskey, please" in 6 languages, but can't understand "Last call" in English.

23. The bartender gives you a "special" drink (water and food coloring) - and you can't notice the difference.

24. You play the same song 20 times in a row at top volume at three in the morning and are certain the neighbors don't mind because, you know, it's such a kick-ass song.

25. You get the best night of sleep you've ever had - in a random flower bed.

A Way With Words . . . Or Not

Here's one for the "Strange but True" category.

Every year, the English Department at San Jose State University hold the Bulwer-Lytton literary parody contest. What is the Bulwer-Lytton literary parody contest? Basically, it is an annual contest to see who can submit the worst opening line to an imaginary novel. Begun in 1982, originally it was just a quiet thing on the SJSU campus, but it has evolved to point that thounsands of people send in entries every year.

This year's winner was announced Tuesday as Jim Guigli of California - I'm sure his mother is just so proud. Here is his "winning" entry: "Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean." Honestly, I have no idea what to say . . .

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If You Can't Duct It . . .

Just further proof that Duct Tape really is the greatest thing in the Universe! News story.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You're Only Paranoid if They're NOT Out to Get You

I think there is a vast conspiracy to make sure I don't actually get much work done during the day. Every time it seems like I'm actually making good progress on something, some one stops by "just to chat" or "for a cup of coffee." They stay just long enough I lose my train of thought and then leave. I tell ya, it's all a conspiracy!

And, yes, I realize that blogging tends to result in the same lack of work! Speaking of which, time to get back to it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Somebody Must Have Had A Very Good Time

I know that the 4th of July is supposed to be a celebration. And I accept this. There are something, however, which reveal that some people are having too good a time. Near the very top of this list is the removal and discarding of underwear in public.

Let me explain . . .

I was on my way out to work Wednesday morning (the morning after the 4th of July). It was actually raining at my apartment, so I'm walking with my head down a bit. As I approach my truck, I notice that there is . . . something . . . on the windshield. But I can't tell straight off what exactly it is. As I get closer, I realize that the "something" appears to be a black thong. When I actually get to my truck I realize that is exactly what it is. Some one has left a black thong on my truck. This is not the sort of thing I'm accustom to seeing on my truck first thing in the morning. Needless to say, this is enough of a surprise that I stand there in the rain for half a minute just staring. This prompts one of my neighbors who happens to be walking by to stop and look as well. I tell him that I don't normally expect to see a thong on my truck first thing in the morning, to which he just laughs and walks on by. I remove the article and proceed on into work.

During the drive in, I come up with three options on how it may have come to be there.

  1. My girl friend left it there as a joke when she left the afternoon before and I simply missed seeing it until the next morning. Unlikely, for reasons which will be explained below.

  2. I have a secret admirer in the apartment complex. Also possible, I guess. If I do, however, this is a little bit of a weird way of getting my attention - weird in the "maybe-I-should-start-checking-for-stalkers" way.

  3. Some one had too much to drink/smoke the night before, tossed their thong away, and the fact that it landed on my truck is just coincidence. I'm liking this option.

I said that the idea of my girl friend doing this was probably out. I say this because randomly leaving a thong on the windshield of my truck is simply not her style. Just to confirm, however, I emailed her to check. She said, "No, if I were trying to embarrass or amuse you, I'd probably pick something more visible. Or put your name on it." Now, that would be more like her style!

So, by eliminating the first two (and adding a solemn prayer against the second), I'm going with the "too much to drink/smoke" option. If I come out and find another article of clothing, however, I may have to reevaluate!

Afterthough: Maybe as a service to humanity (read: "dumbasses") I should create the "Signs You Have Had Too Much Fun" list. hmmmm......

The Overlord

OK - so one of my jobs is as a research assistant/webmaster for one of the professors at my current institution. He is commonly referred to (by his assistants) as "The Overlord" - note the capitalized "T". In general, he is actually a very good person to work for, because he actually respects the ideas and opinions of the people around him, including his grad students. There is also the fact that he pays rather well, and that is always a good thing. There are times, however, when it can be a little difficult to work for him.

Here is an example. He was out of town for a couple weeks and we were left, more or less, to our own designs. Before he left, we had told him what we would be working on the next few weeks, based on the idea that he would be gone for 2 weeks. He said fine, and we scheduled a 1:30 meeting for the Wednesday we was supposed to get back. Well, that Wednesday, 1:00 came around - we hadn't seen him yet. 1:15 - still nothing. 1:20 - finally we get an email that he might be late, or he might not show up at all. (To be fair, he had just gotten back into the country that morning and he was a little jet lagged.) Well, the end of our scheduled shift came and he hadn't shown, so we left. The next Monday, when our regular weekly meeting are usually held, we still didn't see him. So we emailed asking if we were going to meet. End of the shift, still hadn't heard, so we left. Again, in fairness, this was on July 3rd so it was the day before a holiday - understandable that he might take the time off, but it would have been nice to know that he wasn't going to show. Wednesday - we're waiting to see if he's going to come in. Nope. This time, he at least emails and lets us know. By this time, of course, we have gone through all the stuff we had planned to have ready upon his return, and while there are other things which we need to work on, there were some items which needed his input before we could go any further. And then, he asks if we can make a special meeting today, which of course we say yes to, because he is The Overlord - that and we didn't really have anything else planned. A big pain in the ass, yes? But this is the life for one of The Overlord's minions (and, yes, we are actually called "minions").

Here is where he made up for all of this, however. Today's meeting was a lunch meeting, on him, at a local Irish pub. So, we sat around, ate pub fare, drank Guinness, and talked shop. Work is always so much better when you're allowed to have a Guinness at the same time!

I maybe make it sound like working for him is worse than it actually is. He really is a very good boss to work for, and he treats his people well. There is also the fact that having worked for him looks very good on the resume. This is some one who brings in MILLIONS of dollars to the department in the form of grants and projects very year, so it looks good to have worked for him. He just can be . . . frustrating at times. Still, with the potential of being paid off in Guinness - it's all worth it!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Randomness for July 3, 2006

Random Quote:
"An operating system is the 'Godfather' program that operates behind the scenes, telling all other programs what to do, making sure they cooperate, and if necessary leaving the heads of virtual horses in their beds." ~Dave Barry (Dave Barry in Cyberspace)

Question of the Moment:
Why is that you are always the only person on the road who knows how to drive?

Current Mood: Lyle Lovett, Step Inside this House, "Step Inside this House"
Current Music: mischievous