Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Some News I Bet You Didn't Know About

I am pretty sure that most of you have heard about "Ernesto" - the storm which hit Florida late Tuesday night. Sure you have, it's been on the news for days now. But here's some news you probably didn't know about. There are two other major storms, which the new has, for the most part, been ignoring.

Hurrican John is a Catagory 4 hurricane, which is currently getting ready to hit the western coast of Mexico. It's expected to dump as much as a foot of rain. Surges are predicted to reach 18 FEET above normal. Winds are reaching 135 mph.

And then there is a Catagory 5 "Super" Typhoon, "Ioke," aproaching Wake Island and might even reach the Northern Marianna Islands. Sustained winds are above 155 mph, and have been recorded as reaching as high as 185 mph.

Lets review:
Ernesto: Tropical depression, 45 mph winds, 1-3 foot surge
John: Catagory 4 hurricane, 135 mph winds, 18 foot surge
Ioke: Catagory 5 "Super" Typhoon, 155-185 mph winds, surge unknown

I am often very disappointed with the news services around here. If it's not happing to the US, to US citizens, or places where the US has an active interest, it might as well not be happening at all. If you want to hear about some of this stuff, you have to go out and hunt it down yourself.

Resources and More Information:
CNN on Ernesto: here
CNN on John: here
CNN on Ioke: here

NOAA on Ernesto: top of this page
NOAA on John: half way down this page
NOAA on Ioke: here

Japanese Meteorological Agency (in English) on Ioke: here

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Reflections of a Beer Snob: New Belgium's "Skinny Dip"

Skinny Dip, New Belgium Brewing Company, Ft. Collins, CO.

This beer has a nice light pallet to it. It is a little hoppier than some other summer beers, but as they use Cascade hops, it is not over-powering in anyway. Overall flavor is a little weak, however, and it does not really hold a head too long. It is still a nice first or maybe second beer on a hot summer day when you want something which will go down fast, smooth, and clean, but you may want something a little more interesting after that.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Thoughts at the end of the NFL Preseason

As anyone who knows me is aware, I am a hockey FANATIC. But, I am also a big football fan. I have spent many a Sunday at the bar, drinking beer and watching the game. So naturally, I have been watching much of the Preseason goings on and I have reached some conclusions.

1. I hope the Tuna kicks T.O.'s ass all over Dallas. The Cowboys only have room for one boss on the field. And it must be Bill Parcells. Anything else will just lead to a repeat of what we've already seen with T.O. in San Fran and Phili. That and T.O. is just an ass. I was greatly relieved when he didn't go to my Broncos.

2. Farve needs to retire. I'm sorry to all you Packers' fans, I really am. But after watching him last night, I can't help but think this year is going to be even worse than last. Farve had a fumble and an interception in the first FIVE MINUTES OF THE GAME! And the rest of the time he didn't look much better. Now I like Farve. I think he's one of the all time greatest quarterbacks in football history, but all good things must come to an end. Step aside, let Aaron Rodgers take over.

3. Gary Kubiak is what the Texans have needed. He's a no-nonsense coach, with tons of experience both on and off the field. He's also not afraid to get the face of one of his players if they're screwing things up. One of the problems with the Texans over the last few years is that no one was willing to tell David Carr to get his head out of his ass. Instead, they treated him with kid-gloves. Kubiak, on the other hand, has flat out told Carr that he is no longer a rookie and will not be allowed to make rookie mistakes. Period. And it seems to be paying off. The Texans are 2-1 so far in the Preseason. Both of their wins have been by at least 7 points, and they only lost to the Broncos by 3. There's no way in hell they're going to win their division or even get to the play offs (the AFC is way too strong for that to happen), but they will have a much better year than last year (although, with a 2-14 record in 2005, it would be hard to get worse).

4. Hard-core fantasy footballers are idiots. I play fantasy football myself, but it's just a bit of a distraction once a week or so. There are grown men who spend hours every day working on their team. Three words: Get. A. Life.

5. The Oakland Raiders are already in deep shit if they've been forced to sign Jeff George again (he was a Raider 1997). The man has not thrown an NFL pass since 2001! Only in an Al Davis universe.

6. There has been a lot of hype this Preseason about the Arizona Cardinals. Well, here's the sad truth, Arizona. The Cards will suck this season - again. They may not suck as bad as some past seasons, but they will still suck. Here's why: Kurt Warner is incredibly inconsistent and gets shaken far too easily, and Matt Leinart does not have enough experience at the pro level to really carry the team by himself. Edgerrin James is a great runner, but the O-line isn't good enough to give him the holes he needs to be truly effective. Without a good running game, defenses will key on the Cardinals' passing game. Even if one or both of the quarterbacks were perfect, again the O-line won't be able to provide decent pass protection and the secondary will know the ball is probably coming their way, meaning they can prepare for it. Yes, the Cards' defense has looked pretty good (good, not great), but you can't really expect to win with just your defense (well, maybe if you're the 2005 Chicago Bears, but no one else). Yes, the new stadium is cool and attendance will be plenty high this year (actually, it's pretty much sold out for the entire season - never thought I'd see that happen), but the team will probably still will have a losing season. Final record for 2006: 6-10.

7. Denver running backs. It seems almost every year the Broncos have a new running back who rushes for 1000+ yards in the season. And every year people are surprised. See, there's this thing called an "offensive line" and they do this thing called "blocking." Now, when your "offensive line" is "blocking" effectively, it is very easy for the running back to get 5-10 yards a carry. Denver's offensive line has been one of the best in the NFL in the last decade. Match that with a quarterback who can throw a mile, which stretches the defense, and you have a great running game with a running back of average ability. Why do you think Clinton Portis and Rueben Droughns have not been as effective since they left Denver?

So those are the thoughts I have come away from this preseason with. For the record, here are my late-August Playoff Predictions:

AFC Division Winners
AFC Wild Card Teams

NFC Division Winners
NFC Wild Card Teams

We'll see come the first week of January!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Great Line

Heard on the radio this morning: "I'm 61 years old. Too young for Medicare, too old for women to care." Unfortunately, I missed the name of the guy who said this, but it's still an absolutely brilliant line!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They're Back!

Once again, the unwashed masses have descended on the Tempe area. Yes, the college students have returned! This means that once again the streets will be clogged with yuppie-larva driving trendy little cars Mommy and Daddy paid for. Unfortunately for me, since I basically live on campus during the week, I have to be on the road at the same time as these oblivious little shits. And NONE OF THEM KNOW HOW TO DRIVE! They seem to think that the most important thing they can do with their life is to push hard to get one car ahead, even if that means running red lights, screeching their tires, or cutting someone off.

And this kind of behavior doesn't stop when they get out of the car - not by a long shot. They continue to have a complete disregard for the people around them (unless it's one of their friends, then it's okay to notice another person). For example, there is a free bus service around campus so that students don't have to walk from the student parking in the Arizona heat. (This, by the way, is a very good thing at 5:00 in the evening when I'm tired and just want to get the hell out of here.) This morning, I get on at one of the first stops, which means it's easy for me to get a seat, where I can get some reading done. At the next stop, there are a number of kids waiting to get on, so the remaining seats fill up rather quickly and people are forced to stand in the aisle - not exactly an uncommon occurrence by any means. There are a couple of young women, however, who decide the best place for them to stand is toward the front of the bus, where there are seats on both sides, rather than back just a bit where they could stand by the back door, thereby giving everyone more comfort room. Fine, whatever, it doesn't really affect me as I'm not near the front. At the next stop, there are more people waiting to board. Well, these two young women are too busy talking about how much they hate one of their professors (and I would like to point out that classes just started on Monday) to move back or out of the way so these new people can board. Finally, one of the new passengers calls out, "Hey, could you move to the back so the rest of us can get on?" The two gossips get these really disgusted looks on their faces, clearly thinking, "Why the hell are you talking to me?" One of them grudgingly moves, but the other simply crowds over against one of the seats - I'm sure the woman sitting there really appreciated having some annoying little brat of a girl shove her ass in her face. Great way to start the day, huh? There is now just enough room for people to get by. But, of course, the person who had called out, asking them to move, proceeds to walk just beyond this self-absorbed little twit . . . and stops, effectively blocking the aisle once again. Idiot.

THIS, dear readers, is what happens when parents refuse to raise their children. You can see the early stages of this in the behavior of the little boy I mentioned the other day (read about it here). And you can witness it almost any morning (or after about 4:00PM for that matter) here at ASU.

The only saving grace here is that, in a few weeks time, these yuppie-larva will decide they no longer need to go to their 8:00AM classes, and some of this will ease. Of course, when finals get close at the end of the semester, it will start over once again.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Randomness for August 17, 2006

Random Quote:
"I shall soon be six-and-twenty. Is there anything in the future that can possibly console us for not being always twenty-five? ~ Lord Byron (The answer is "yes, fun with friends and family")

Question of the Moment:
When the hell is the university going to deliver the keys to my new office?

Current Mood: surprisingly good!
Current Music: Uncle Tupelo, "Still Be Around," Still Feel Gone

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Maybe There Are Some People Who Actually Try to Discipline Their Children

I recently received a copy of the family tree for my mother's side, which is something I had asked for in the past. This was a birthday gift from one of my aunts, and is a professional job - very nice. Well, I decided to take some time today and look into having it framed (as it turned out, the place I went is going to have a sale starting this weekend, so I'll go back then). Well, as I'm standing there waiting for the young woman behind the counter to finish up with the customers in front of me, this kid - probably 10 or 12 years old - come running around a corner, brandishing a little plastic picture stand like a gun, making little ray-gun noises. Fine - annoying, but not a big deal. I set my family tree, which is rolled up, on the counter and step to side about 3 feet to look at some of the prints the store has. This kid runs up and promptly sticks the picture stand inside the rolled up family tree. I say, "Excuse me, please don't do that, it's rather expensive and I don't want it damaged." At this point, his mother, who has been busy with the sales clerk, whips her head around, barks out his name and tells him to knock it off (amazing, a parent who actually bothers to try and discipline their child). He runs off and she apologizes to me. There's no damage done, so I tell her it's ok and let it go. Well, she finishes up with the clerk and starts getting her things together to leave. I unroll the family tree on the counter and start discussing framing options with the clerk. This little bastard runs up and pokes at the paper - you know, the whole "I'm not supposed to touch this so of course I'm going to" thing. Luckily, Mom saw this and immediately grabbed him, hauled him off to the side and started reading him the riot in both English and Spanish - and maybe something else because there were words in there I've never even heard before! She came back over, apologizing even more profusely and checking see if there was any damage. I assured her there wasn't and they went of with her dropping the classic "Just you wait until your father gets home" line. I turn back to the sales clerk, who has the rather impressed smirk on her face as she watches them walk off. She turned back and said how glad she was that some one actually was willing to punish their child for misbehaving. I agree with this and we go about our business.

Now, this is something which I have discussed at various points with other people. One of my friends has put forward the idea that parents today were determined not to raise their children the same way their parents raised them. And they haven't. The result of this is that kids today spend most of their time just running wild. I have to say that I don't think he's completely wrong. Today's experience gives me some hope, however, that this is not totally the case.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Follow Up to Yesterday's Post

In yesterday's post, I went off on Maurice Clarett, calling him a dumbass for all the stupid shit he's pulled over the last couple years. Well, I still stand by that. I also said that there might be some very good reasons for Clarett's behavior. Apparently, I'm not the only to wonder this. The judge presiding over the robbery and gun charge case, David Fais (this is not the same judge who set his bail at $5 million), has ordered that Clarett undergo a "mental health evaluation" before the trial. To quote those old Guinness adds, "Brilliant!" Why has no one thought of this before?!?

The best part, Clarett thinks it's completely unnecessary. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, after Judge Fais order the eval, Clarett said, "I clearly understand everything, and I don't know why we have to drag this thing out." Hello! Do we need to go over you list of Dumbass Moves again? I think this will be a good thing, regardless of what the results are. We'll either know he's nuts, or if he's not, they can put him away longer. Either way, it could be good.

Randomness for August 11, 2006

Random Quote:
"If Michelangelo had been a heterosexual, the Sistine Chapel would have been painted basic white and with a roller. ~ Rita Mae Brown

Question of the Moment:
Is time to go home, yet?

Current Mood: Damn glad it's Friday
Current Music: Gatsbys American Dream, "Guilt Engine," Volcano

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What a Dumbass

Now, I know that there are plenty of dumbasses at any given moment, but occasionally, one stands out from the rest. Today's is good ol' Maurice Clarett. Those of you who don't regularly follow sports and sports news might be glancing around, wondering "Who the hell is 'Maurice Clarett'?" The short of version of his bio might read, "Maurice Clarett showed great potential and tremendous ability as a freshman running back at Ohio State during 2002 season, but in the years since, his life has slowly crumbled to the point he is now facing robbery and gun charges." Fun, huh?

OK, so lets take a look at Clarett's timeline and we'll see just how big a dumbass he has been:

Jan. 2003: Scores the winning touchdown to give Ohio State the win over Miami in the National Championship game. So far, so good.

July 2003: Is accused of getting preferential treatment by a teacher at Ohio State. No so good, but it's not like this is the first time star athletes have been given a break. He was just stupid to place himself in a situation where the accusation could even come up. Dumbass move #1

Sept. 2003: Is charged with falsifying a police report for reporting $10,000 worth of property stolen from a car he had rented. Now we're getting into really bad things. Can you say "misdemeanor"? Dumbass move #2

Sept. 2003: Is suspended for the season by Ohio State for receiving thousands of dollars worth of "special" benefits. Everyone who goes through NCAA sports knows this is a violation of policies - hell, even most people who watch NCAA sports know this! Dumbass move #3

Sept. 2003: Sues the NFL, challenging a policy which states that players have to have been out of high school at least 3 years to be eligible for the draft. OK, now he has angered football personnel at both the college and pro levels. BIG Dumbass move #4

Jan. 2004: Pleads guilty of "failure to aid law enforcement" (a reduced charge from the falsified report in Sept. 2003). Still a dumbass for doing it in the first place, but at least he is taking some responsibility. No additional dumbass charges here.

Feb.-April 2004: Court rules in favor of Clarett over the NFL. The ruling in over turned by a federal court. Clarett files an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court, who refuse to even hear the case. Clarett is forced to wait until the 2005 draft to be eligible. Now he just looks like a REALLY BIG dumbass. Dumbass move #5

April 2005: Is drafted in the third round by my Denver Broncos. This is a real surprise that he went this early, as most were predicting a sixth or seventh round pick, but Mike Shanahan has been know do make some bold moves in the draft. Clarett makes the statement that he is happy to just have a chance and won't squander the opportunity. Maybe he is finally growing up some. No dumbass move here.

Aug. 2005: Complains that he is not getting enough reps in practice, is injured, calls for the dismissal of a Broncos assistant coach for yelling at him, and is repeatedly heard before practices to say something to effect of "I have to get my 'goose' on" (keep this in mind for later!). Predictably, he is cut by the Broncos. So, you don't want to squander your opportunity, huh? Dumbass moves #6, #7, and #8

Jan. 2006: Is accused of robbing two people at gunpoint in a Columbus, OH, alley. Turns himself in. The turning himself in is a very good thing, but it does not out weigh the VERY bad thing of armed robbery. Dumbass move #9

Aug. 2006: Is pulled over (for reckless driving) after a short chase. Police order him out of the car. They are forced to try and physically remove him when he won't comply, and when that fails, they hit with a taser to no effect. Clarett is finally removed after being maced, which is when police discover the taser had no effect because Clarett was wearing a bullet-proof vest. In the car they discover a hatchet, an AK-47 assault rifle (loaded), three handguns (also loaded) one of which was found to have been under his leg before the police pulled him out of the driver's seat, and a bottle of Grey Goose vodka (getting his "goose on" I guess). It has also been reported by ESPN that he was within blocks of the home of a woman who was scheduled to testify against him in the armed robbery case. Dumbass moves #10 through #19

Really, how can a person make so many completely dumbass moves in such a short span of time? And I acknowledge that he has not been convicted of anything yet, but you have to admit that it doesn't look good. My roommate commented that this is probably just an example of a star athlete who had become accustomed to having everyone kiss their ass all the time and now thinks that they can get away with anything they want. Possibly so. But there have been other athletes who started out this way and managed to learn the truth pretty quick. No, my guess is that it is a combination of things. Yes, the star athlete treatment thing is a big part of it. But there is also the suspected alcohol abuse, a very clear sense of entitlement, the possibility of being a habitual liar (there were other reported instances of him lying to people when he thought it would benefit him), and a profound sense of paranoia (he has claimed to have received death threats and that his telephone was bugged - I have no idea if this is all true or not, but he clearly believes it to be). And biggest of all, I think, HE'S A DUMBASS! Regardless of what comes of these latest troubles, I get the feeling this is not the last we've heard of Maurice Clarett. I don't know, but maybe at this he'll actually be able to turn his life around. We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006, 1:30 PM (AZ Time)

According to, Clarett's bail for this latest charge has been set to $5 MILLION! Citing Clarett as "a threat to the community," assistant prosecutor Chris Brown, originally had asked Judge Andrea Peeples to set bail at a minimum of $1 million. She decided that $1 was nowhere near enough. Clarett's attorney, Nick Mango, called the amount excessive - No. Shit. Sherlock. That's kind of the point - you want the judge to set a low bail for someone who was carrying four loaded guns, wearing a bullet-proof vest, was in the area of the home of a potential witness against them, and tried to run from the cops? Ladies and gentlemen, I present, for your amusement, another DUMBASS!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Randomness for August 8, 2006

Random Quote:
"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working when you get up in the morning, and doesn't stop until you get to the office." ~ Robert Frost

Question of the Moment:
When exactly did you lose your mind? (Sometime in high school, I think) And do you miss it? (Not yet)

Current Mood: amused
Current Music: The Eagles, "Take It Easy," Hell Freezes Over

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Exactly What You Don't Want to See When You Leave Work

And, no, I'm not talking about your boss with a stack of things which need to be finished before you leave - although that's bad, too.

So, here's how it went down. I leave work and head for my truck, with the plan of running a couple of errands and then heading home. Apparently, this is not what the universe had planned for me. When I got to my truck, I noticed that it was listing slightly. My immediate thought was "Ah fuck!" as I knew this probably meant I had a flat. Sure enough, one of the rear tires was about two-thirds down, and I could see the head of the offending screw. Luckily, there was enough air left that I could drive the quarter mile to a gas station and fill the tire up enough to get to the tire shop. Yes, I could have changed the tire or called AAA. But changing a tire in the middle of a blacktop in Arizona on a summer afternoon is not exactly my first choice, and calling AAA would have taken longer and been a bigger pain in the ass than just topping it off. (You know, thinking about it, I still need to get an roadside kit set up for this truck - maybe I'll try to remember to add a can of fix-a-flat or whatever the hell it's called.)

So, I made it to the gas station, topped it off, and headed off to get it fixed. Luckily, there's a place a few miles down the road from where I was, so I just went there. They got the tire fixed up just fine, but it took me sitting there for about an hour - it was about 5 PM and they were backed up some, so I completely understand, but it still kind of sucked. Of course, this prevented me from completing one of my errands (that place closed at 6, which was just about the time they finished with my tire so that one will have to happen this afternoon), but I got the others finished. It just annoyed me a bit. Luckily, the tire fix was only $12, which is about the cheapest car fix you can get.

To be perfectly honest, I would have expected something like this to happen much sooner. I've lived in my current apartment for about a year and a half, and for probably half that time the street has been torn up as they work on putting in a light rail line. Fine. I support public transit and if they get it done in time, I may actually be able to use to get to work, which would be nice. But it means that there is all the debris which goes with such an undertaking. They way my luck usually runs, I would have expected a screw/nail flat, a chipped windshield, something of that nature. I'm just surprised it took this long for it happen.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Having to Turn Down Work

Recently, I had to turn down a contract consulting job to complete a National Register of Historic Places nomination. This is a slightly odd sensation. As a grad student, I don't have a lot of money. So when a contract job comes along, I don't really like the idea of turning it down. Afterall, with a going rate of $25-30 an hour for this kind of historic preservation project, I can make a few good bucks in short order. (Just as a side note here, once you are really established as an h.p. consultant, you can charge upwards of $75-100 an hour - I know one woman who regularly charges $150/hr!) But, as a grad student, I am also very short on time. Right now I'm trying to juggle finishing a thesis, a reseach job for one of my professors, one historic preservation contract, one web design contract, and (most important) actually being able to see my girlfriend! Plus, we have a wedding to go to in San Diego this weekend. In the end, I decided that based on my schedule and when this client wanted the project done, I simply could not take it on. Too bad, as it sounds like a relatively easy nomination. It was for a single ranch house in downtown Phoenix, where L. Ron Hubbard lived when he started Scientology, which has recenly been restored to its original condition. It should have no trouble getting registered, but she wanted it done in the next 2 to 3 weeks. No way I could get that done, so I had to decline. Oh well - there'll be others. It's still odd to turn down work and money . . .