Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Really Fuckin' Annoyed

I just discovered that the Colorado/Anaheim hockey game is apparently on the "NHL Network," whatever the fuck that is. I paid good money for Center Ice, and now they're telling me that I can't get my games? WHAT THE FUCK?!?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crazy Magnet Pt. 2

I have further proof of my last post!

I stopped by Safeway on my way home this evening to pick up a few things. As I was finishing up and getting ready to head for check out, I heard someone yelling and cursing. I headed towards the sound to check out what was going on. Turns out, a couple of store employees were physically restraining a guy on the floor. He was cursing them out and threatening to sue the store. I'm not exactly clear on why they had him on the ground, but there was a cart right there that one of the store managers quickly spirited away. This went on for at least 15 minutes while I was there, and was still going on after I had checked out and left the store. It's my assumption that they were waiting for the police.

Okay, so unlike the rest of my examples, this didn't happen directly to me, but I believe my point still stands. I mean, really, what were the chances of that occurring at the exact time that I just happened to be there?

Crazy Magnet

For some reason, in the last few weeks I have become a magnet for crazy. Naturally, not everyone and everything around me is crazy. But it does seem like the number of crazy people I encounter on a regular basis has increased recently. Now, I don't mean people talking to their shoes kind of crazy. More the walk away and think "wow - there's a nut job for you" kind of crazy.

First, there was the guy who was trying to convince me and one of my friends that the "immaculate conception" was really the product of space aliens. And he was sure that, since I am a pagan, I believed the same. We just smiled and nodded.

Then there were the two drunk girls a couple weekends ago. One of them stumbled up the table my friends and I were at, proceeded to try and bet us that she weighed more than I do. I am not exactly a small person, so we knew she was drunk/crazy. She wandered off, and we just kind of laughed and went back to watching college football. As we were leaving the bar, however, we encountered the two of them again. This time, they were having problems with their car. As in they had managed to lock themselves inside and couldn't get out. Yes, that's right, INSIDE! One of them (the one who had tried to bet us earlier) had made it out through an open sun-roof. The other was terribly upset because her "boobs were too big to fit through!" (Her words, not mine.) And on top of it all, she couldn't get the keys out of the ignition and couldn't get the car to start. One of my friends climbed in through the open roof, got the keys out of the ignition with no problem, and handed them out to me. I opened the door, letting the other girl out - who promptly ran inside, moaning about how badly she had to pee. I tried starting the car - and had no trouble whatsoever. We told them to go back inside, and get a cup of coffee to warm up (and hopefully sober up, too). Yeah, crazy.

Next, there was the couple who switched back and forth between talking to me about football and beer, and having a loud, rather heated argument about plane tickets from Phoenix to Las Vegas. The argument ended when he said "this relationship is over" and she stormed out. After he paid and left, all of us in the near vicinity looked at each other and quickly agreed that that was rather uncomfortable.

And most recently, was the guy who tried to tell me that he could determine my entire personality based on the beer bottle I had in front of me. While this might have actually been really interesting and amusing, he never actually got around to telling me what kind of personality I have. I also decided not to tell him that the bottle in front of me wasn't mine, but one that someone had left just prior to my sitting down. For the record, it was a Bud Lite bottle. Anyone who knows me will tell you I DON'T drink Bud-fuckin'-Lite. Or any other mass produced American pilsner for that matter. Bud, Coors, Michelob, etc, not my taste.

For some reason, people like to approach me and want to talk. I'm accustomed to this. I don't particularly give off a threatening vibe or anything, so random people will talk to me. That, and the fact that I tend to make eye contact with people. It's my way of acknowledging another human being. So I make eye contact and people feel free to talk to me. But recently, a lot of those random people have been down right crazy. It's like I'm wearing a sign which says, "Hey, please dump all your crazy right here!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unusual Weather

Well, in addition to it finally being winter - or at least what passes for winter in this part of Arizona - we had heavy heavy fog this morning. We're not talking a little fog either. This was thick enough that, at times, driving visibility was below 1000 feet. And since it was still dark, that made the drive into work kind of fun! At least most of the drivers out had enough sense to take it a little slower - this is actually a bit of a shock given the usual behavior of Arizona drivers in bad weather.

I haven't seen fog like this sense I was in Wales, where the whole area is often in the middle of a cloud. You get used to it when it's always foggy, but it's been long enough for me that this morning was actually pretty cool! This was the kind of fog that is so thick, it almost appears as a solid wall when you approach it. For example, the parking lot was shrouded in fog, while my building wasn't. I took a minute to look back when I got to my floor's landing, and I could see where it was nice and clear and where the buildings suddenly disappeared in gray. It was almost like something out of an old bad horror flick!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Well That Was Stupid of Me

As I said a few days ago, I was hoping to be able to get a little more sleep now that my coursework is done for the semester. This morning, I tried to make that happen.

I should have gotten up at my usual time.

I really was pretty stupid to think that the Universe would let me sleep in without some kind of reprisal. I had failed to take into account that today is the first day of finals. And since there are finals which begin at 7:30, there are far more whiney little undergrads running around this morning than usual.

And, of course, I had decided to sleep in only about half an hour - which meant that I came into campus at about 7:20. Just in time to have deal with these undergrads. I think being dragged over carpet tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol would have been more fun.

But, at least now I'm safely in my office, with some Irish-punk playing, and my coffee in hand!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Unexpected Development

So, I have mentioned problems with my roommates before. As of sometime yesterday, I don't have to worry about it any more.

They moved out.

They were there when I left for work yesterday morning, but when I got home they were gone. Poof! All they left behind were a pumpkin they bought right before Halloween, their keys, the gate remote, and an empty Sunny-D jug (in the fridge, for crying out loud!). Oh, and a water glass sitting in front of my bedroom door. Even I'll admit that was a nice little parting statement.

Luckily, they had already given me a check which covers last month's utilities and about 2 weeks of December's rent, so I'm not fucked for rent this month. The fact that the check was left for me Monday morning and they were gone by Tuesday evening makes me think they had planned this out a bit.

And while the timing is not great, it could be worse. At least I'm done with classes for the semester, and I know that there are usually people looking for a new place to live around the first of the year. Granted, it would have been nice to know that they were planning on leaving. Ah well.

If it seems a little strange that I'm not going off in my usual fashion on this, it's because I had pretty much come to the conclusion that it was time to get rid of them. Nothing personal, exactly; it just wasn't working out for any of us. The final impetus came, ironically enough, with the rent check left on Monday. I didn't see my roommates Sunday, so I left a note on their bedroom door Sunday night, stating what the rent was for this month, and asking that they just leave a check on the table for me to pick up Monday morning. Left with their check was a note saying sorry, but they didn't have enough money in their checking account to cover the full amount and that they would leave another check for Tuesday morning with the balance. My thought was, "Well that's a pain. Haven't you guys learned yet that rent will be due start of the month? And you should know by now roughly how much it will be. Try planning ahead." But I didn't make a big deal out of this simply because I had other things more deserving of my attention at the start of this week. Well, yesterday morning I got up and looked for a check on my way out the door. There wasn't one, but since I knew I wasn't going to make to bank yesterday before they closed, I decided not to worry about too much.

I related the first part of the this check saga to Journey over the phone Monday night, and she said "I think it's really time you got rid of these guys." She was right, and by the time I got up Tuesday morning, I had decided to give them notice that it really wasn't working and that I was going to ask them to be out by first of the year. I figured I could give them until the end of the month, especially given that at that point I was assuming they were going to pay for December. But, they beat me to it.

So, if I'm not fuming about it, heaping curses upon them, or dropping the F-Bomb, it's because the decision had already been made. I was (and still am) a little annoyed that I had to scramble a bit last night to get roommate-wanted ads posted, but that I can live with. Hopefully I can get some good applicants this time around!

(Needless to say, this was NOT what I had in mind when I posted yesterday afternoon, but it does fit the bill I guess!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I Think I Can Start Sleeping Again

Well, as of about 30 seconds ago, I have turned in my last paper for the semester. This means I no longer will feel the need to be in quite so early every day. There's still work for me to do for The Overlord, but with my classwork done for the semester, I relax a bit.

I really must admit, I'm looking forward to sleeping more than 5 hours a night during the week. And with any luck, I'll be able to go back to getting some real positing done on a regular basis! I even have a couple of things in mind for later this week or the start of next week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Den of Coffee Bean Hell

Well, it's been a while, but there is finally a new Foamy which I really enjoyed.

Check it out.

And remember, you're only paranoid if they're not out to get you!

Where Did It Go?

What the hell happened to the last year?!? I was reminded today that Repeal Day (Dec. 5th) is coming up soon. As first, my thought was "That can't be right! Wasn't Repeal Day was just a couple months ago? I posted about it!" But then I went back and looked, and sure enough, that post was from almost a year ago. Somehow, with all the crazy shit going on in my life (and don't get me wrong, much of that is the good kind of crazy shit), this last year has just flown by. It's a little hard to believe that we're already at the end of November. Somehow, part of my mind is certain that it's really still early October. (Check out this PhD Comic - yeah, I'm the guy in the third panel right now!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Well, That's A New One

I currently serve as the moderator for a graduate student listserv for our department. It doens't really mean much work, but it does mean that I get requests for approval on what are clearly spam messages. Since I don't really have to do anything with them but delete the request, I don't think about them too much. Occasionally, however, something interesting comes through. Each approval request includes the subject line from the message. I just had this one come through:

"Vampire Computer Clown Triangle Crystal Family Family"

This is probably the most bizarre one I've ever had. I only wish I knew what the hell it means!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bizarre

Know what this is? Yes, I know it's a fence! But look closer, know what the fence it made of?

These are old, surplus medical stretchers from WWI. They have been turned on their sides and used to make this fence around a public housing development in England. I came across a reference to this kind of thing is something I was reading a month or two ago. It was such a bizarre notion that I went in search of some images online, but couldn't find any. So I did some follow up research and ended up emailing the British National Trust (kind of like the US National Park Service). After my request for information got bounced around a bit, I got a reply from someone in London, who said that the specific development I had referred to in my email was gone, but that it had been a common practice. In fact, the Tube line one of his friends takes home goes right along one of these housing developments. He'll ask his friend to stop by and take some pictures and then he'll email them to me.

The next day, I had an email with a stack of pictures. The one above is one of the better ones. This is a closer shot, showing the "leg" of the stretcher.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You Probably Could've Planned That Better

I came across an interesting sounding job today (in Denver, so that might be kind of cool). The application instructions just wanted you to send in a cover letter and resume by email to the HR director at a specific address they provided. So I did.

And I got an auto reply back saying "I will be out of the office until Nov. 16." Now, this job posted today, the 14th. My thinking is, if you're going to be out of the office until the 16th, why don't you just wait and post the job on the 16th? You know, when you actually be in the office? Or if you don't want to have the job be posted on a Friday, wait for Monday.

But maybe that's just me.


UPDATE: 11/15, 10:15 AM

Well, I now have an answer - or, at least the question no longer really matters. As it turns out, they have someone else covering the incoming applications while the HR director is out of the office. I heard back from them today, saying they wanted to fill out one of those Affirmative Action survey forms and mail it back to them. Fine, I'll tell them I'm a white/Native Hawai'ian, non-disabled male who is not a military vet. At least I can use one of the department pre-paid envelopes to send it back - the department actually encourages grad students applying for jobs to use these as it's faster, cheaper, and helps with the department's placement rate. Fine by me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Wonder What It Means

"Never could read no road map
And I don't know what the weather might do,
But hear that witch wind whinin'
0h, see that Dog Star's shinin',
I've got a feelin' there's no time to lose,
No time to lose!"
~Grateful Dead, "Saint of Circumstance"

I've been listening to the Dead most of today at work. But for some reason, this particular verse caught my attention and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. I'm sure there's a reason for this, but I have no idea what that could be.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You Must Believe

Before going any further, I will freely admit I'm a little left in my politics. I see the Republican Party as more than a little creepy and weird, favoring the pursuit for money and power over all else. I do not, however, hold any specific feelings for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has more than itself of nut-jobs and crazies hypocrites who specialize in running around like chickens with their heads cut off (most of Boulder, CO, for example). And I want to stress here that I am talking about the Parties, not specific people belonging to those parties!

All that being said, however, I found this most amusing this morning. I have lifted it from Propsqueen, who I'm sure won't mind me reposting it here (after all, she got it from someone else, plus if she has a problem she'll simply let me know by giving me a smack upside the head next time I see her!).

So, without further ado . . .

To Be A Republic Today You Need To Believe:

1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him , a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)

16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

And, yes, there are any number of posts out there which do the same thing to Democrats, but this was more amusing to me!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Obliviousness

You may have heard or seen that there was a fire at the ASU student union yesterday. It was a 2-alarm fire, which broke out around 12:45PM and forced the fire department to evacuate the whole building - about 5,000 people. The Union is going to be closed for at least today, and likely most of the weekend at the very least, but luckily no one was hurt.

Why did I title this "Obliviousness" if I'm talking about a fire that was all over the news, you may ask. Well, that's because I didn't know about it until about 2:15 - an hour and a half after it started and nearly forty-five minutes after they got it put out! And my office is only about 1,000 feet from the Union!

I didn't notice a damn thing!

I only found about it when a friend who works across town emailed me to ask if the Union really was on fire. My response - "Huh?!?"

I was so wrapped up in what I was working on that, with the exception of grabbing things off the hall printer 3 or 4 times, I hadn't left my office since 7:00AM.

One of the most amusing/disturbing things with this whole thing had to do with ASU's notification system. After the Virginia Tech thing, ASU decided to set up a couple of notification systems to let students and staff know about emergencies. You could sign up for text message notifications, and if anything were to happen, ASU would send you a message. They also would send emails to addy of record for all students and staff.

We didn't get the email notification until 3:15. That's an HOUR after I found out about it! By the time they told everyone there was fire, it had already been out for 90 minutes!

And the sad part about this, myself and the other grad students in the department were too busy or so occupied that the fire was of interest for only about 10 or 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

To celebrate . . . Singing ZOMBIES!!!

Music is by Jonathan Coulton.

Quote of the Day

Idiot Box, n.: The part of the envelope that tells a person where to place the stamp when they can't quite figure it out for themselves. -- Rich Hall, "Sniglets"

Courtesy of an email from my father this morning!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Public Service Announcement #2

If you pay attention, and I know that's really hard for some of you, you'll notice that those little arrows on elevators light up. When the elevator arrives, if you look at that little arrow, it will tell if the elevator is going up or if it's going down.

If you do this, you won't have to look like an idiot by asking which way it's going!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

This is directed at those who drive the I-10 in the Phoenix area.

As you drive out of Chandler on the eastbound I-10, you may notice that there are a bunch of Christmas decorations going up on the south side of the road. Let me assure you, you DON'T have to slow down to see what's going on!!!

These decorations are, in fact, a perfectly normal thing around here. They go up every year (although it seems a little earlier than usual this year) and they'll be up until after New Years. You will have plenty of time to see them as you drive by. And please rest assured that what you can see from the road can be seen just as well at 65-70 mph as at 10-15 mph. In fact, in some ways, they are better when seen at 65 or 70. That way it only takes you a second or two to see it all. When you're going 10 or 15, you have to spend most of your time checking on all the cars around you so you don't either get rear-ended or rear-end someone else.

For fuck's sake, they're just Christmas decorations! It's not like they're something you're never going to see again anywhere else in the world. And really, just how interesting are a bunch of fake trees and some over-sized fake packages? It's not like it's a bunch naked people running around, juggling flaming chainsaws or anything really cool like that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Art of Being a Bastard

As I have said, I do actually enjoy being a bastard at times. It is not something to be done indiscriminately, however. The whole thing with my roommate the other night got me thinking about the way I respond to problems like this. I have come to conclusion that I will pursue reasonable solutions to problems for only so long. I give people the chance to respond in an appropriate fashion. I will give people multiple opportunities to respond. At a certain point, however, I say "fuck it" and take a more "creative" approach to problem solving.

But there are three forms of bastardness. The first is the kind I used on my roommates. It is very clearly being a bastard, but a slightly indirect fashion. This form has a very specific target, and is applied to a very specific end.

For example, during the course of my first year as a graduate student, one of the grad students did a series of things which angered a number of us. They accused some of our colleagues of being stupid because they did not speak up in class very often, and declared that they did not want to work with these people on a group project (the groups were put together by the professor for the class who is also the director of our program, and he only assigned the groups after observing people over the course of most of the semester - he basically told her "too bad, get over it, go to work"). Both of the people in question here happen to be good friends of mine, who I knew to actually be far more intelligent than this person. She also made some disparaging remarks about the rest of us because most of us because we were younger than her, and since she had "real world experience" and we did not, she was in a better position to tell us how to be grad students (despite the fact that this was her first year, too!) and how to live our lives. Yeah, didn't go over so well with us. The next semester, I had my chance to be a bastard. We had another class with a group project. I ended up being on one of the "committees" with her. Over the course of the project, I found out that she hadn't really done anything for any of the committees she was on. As part of final report for this project, we had to write up a short paragraph on what each of did to contribute to the project. I had assumed editorial control over compiling this final report and had asked everyone to send my their little write up. She didn't. After several requests, I reached the "fuck it, I'm going to be a bastard" point and wrote it myself. I gave her name and said she "reported to be on the following committees". And that was it. Everyone else's write had information on which committees they worked on, what specific duties they carried out, etc. It became very clear to the people we were presenting this report to that she hadn't done jack shit. It took a while, and was done in a fairly subtle fashion, but I was able to play the bastard.

This form of bastardness must be used very carefully, however. It must well planned and carried out in such a fashion that it hopefully prevents further or escalated problems. It also must be done rather sparingly. If you are this kind of bastard all the time, it begins to lose it's effect. People just end up saying "yeah yeah, whatever" and ignoring it. This defeats the point of being a bastard. The entire purpose of being this first form of a bastard is to achieve a specific goal. It is most effective when people don't necessarily see it coming. It lets them know you are serious. When it works, it works beautifully. When it doesn't, things get bad. If you do it sparingly, and plan your approach right, you will succeed without too much fallout or collateral damage.

The second form is really just being a bastard for the sake of being a bastard. There is very little planning involved and it is a response to a specific situation, applied on the spur of the moment. This is blocking out someone who is trying to speed ahead in a construction zone. It's just responding in a bastardly fashion because you can. If you want an example, check out this Anywhere But Here strip. (I hope Jason Siebels doesn't mind me using one of his comics, but it really is just a perfect depiction of my point!)

The third form is is my favorite and most used form. But this is usually only carried out on friends in appropriate situations. Again, it is being a bastard for the sake of being a bastard. There is no real malice behind it. It's just giving your friends shit.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Win

I have spent much of the last ten hours or so (at least, the hours I was awake) contemplating the Art of Being a Bastard.

A few months back, I picked up some new roommates. And there has be a . . . breaking in process involved. From everything I can tell, based on what they've said and what they've done, this is the first time that either of them have lived away from home. This despite this fact that they are both in their early to mid 20s. Until now, I think, they have always had someone to take care of them.

Well, I'm not their mommy. And I fucking shouldn't have to be. They are perfectly old enough to be able to function as adults in a shared apartment space. Most of the time, the things they've been doing have been fairly minor in the grant scheme of the universe. But it's my apartment - they just live there. I'm the only one on the lease, and they rent from me. I explained my basic rules when they moved in. Things like keeping music/movies turned down at night (that whole trying not to piss off the neighbors thing), putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher and no the sink does NOT cut it, wiping up spills and crumbs from the kitchen counter, floor, and dining table, if you borrow one of my DVDs return it promptly and put it back in the right spot (not that hard when they're all in alphabetical order). Little things. I do not expect perfect cleanliness. I can't manage that, why should I expect it from them?

Well, they haven't done these things. So, I tried talking to them. When that didn't work, I took to leaving notes. What that too failed, I moved into Bastard Mode. I took to placing dirty dishes and the trash they left out in their doorway (if you haven't figured it out, they are a couple and are sharing a single room). If this didn't work, my plan was to threaten to hire a cleaning crew and charge them for it. Fortunately, I don't think it's going to come to that. One of them confronted me last night about leaving stuff outside their door. My response was simply "Well, pick it up in the first place I won't have to." At which point I explained that the glasses and trash I had placed there that morning (it was now about 9:30 at night) had been sitting on the table for 3 or 4 days at this point.

The mere fact that it has annoyed them to point of confronting me means that they are finally starting to get the message. They now understand that I can be a bastard and I will make sure that do these things one way or another.

I. Win.

It is not that I especially enjoy being a bastard. Okay, I actually do enjoy it, but I do not like being forced into being a bastard. If I am going be one, I want to make it a deliberate choice to do so. And while there is a whole philosophical argument that I always have a choice, I'm not going to go into that. The point is that I hate it when I feel compelled to act a certain way because of the particular situation. It this case, I had the choice of: (1) ignoring the situation - which would have been a good choice because that would just add to my stress level, and I really don't need that and neither do the people around me; (2) continuing to play mommy and leave them notes asking them to pick their stuff - also not a good choice because that will only result in me being pissed off, again not good for me or the people around me; or (3) be a Bastard - it may not really reduce my stress, but at least I'll be having some "fun" in the process. I took option #3.

I actually have a philosophy on the Art of Being a Bastard. But as this post is already getting fairly long, I'll save that for maybe this afternoon or tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Priming the Pump

I was just pumped for information!

I don't know if I've mentioned it before or not, but I serve as a commission member for my local historic preservation committee. This is actually pretty impressive, given that I am still fairly young in terms of my professional career. I haven't been at this all that long and I'm already serving on a semi-judicial governing body. Pretty cool, huh?!?

Anyway, recently, we lost our Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) to another city in and another state, which means the city is in the process of trying to hire a new HPO. As it turns out, I know at least one, more like two, of the candidates. And he stopped by my office this morning to "chat".

Knowing this person the way I do, I can say that his intent was not really to try and get information out of me on other possible candidates or on how the committee was going to go about our business. But I can tell that he was hoping I would let something slip! It was a very passive-aggressive approach to the whole thing, really. But still slightly amusing!

Naturally, I realized what was going on and didn't say anything that he couldn't have found out through other means, so I'm the clear there. But really, how oblivious does he think I am? Did he honestly think that I wouldn't see what he was doing right away?

I know I've admitted to being a cynic before, so you can believe when I say that I was rather expecting something like this at some point. While I've not seen an actual list of people who have applied for the HPO job, by keeping my ear to the ground and by simply walking in the circles I do, I've heard of some of the people who were considering applying. And I know several of them. I'm actually rather surprised that it took this long. I mean, I am rather easy to bribe - a beer or two is usually all it takes!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lack of Posts

I know, it's been almost two weeks since I last posted anything. If I said I really did mean to post, can I be forgiven? Things have just been really bust around here the last few weeks and I simply couldn't find the time to sit down and write for even a few minutes - or at least not when I had energy enough to write.

The reason I've been so bust recently is that last week was the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference. As I'm just about the point of needing a real job (now there's a rather frightening thought, me a professional!), I decided that this year would be a good one to attend the conference and network. Unfortunately, since the conference ran all of last week and since I'm still a grad student, that meant I had NO extra time the week before last. I needed to not only get all my work for last week done before I left, I wanted to get as much of my work for the first part of this week done as well. Didn't get all of what I wanted done, but got enough that I could go to the conference with a (mostly) clear conscience.

The conference was fun, so it was all worth it. I got a chance to see St. Paul, MN, which I had never been to before, and the weather was quite nice. I went to some interesting sessions - even if I already knew most of what they were presenting. I had the chance to network with a bunch of interesting people, including the top two people from the historic preservation office I would really like to work for. Handed out a bunch of business cards and even a couple of resumes, which was good. Even if they don't really look at them right now, it means that if I end up applying for a job with one of them at some point, they are more likely to at least recognize my name - and name recognition is a great and good thing!

And best of all, Journey was able to get the time off and come along. I tell you, there's nothing quite like coming back from a day full of meetings to find a beautiful woman waiting for you! And it was really good be able to spend some real time together. We're both so busy that we don't get to spend as much time together as we would like. And even if I was gone for most of the day, we were able to have dinner together every night. And we had all of the weekend together, although a good chunk of Sunday was taken up with traveling.

That was actually one of the things I was going to write about before I left and never got the chance to - traveling. (We break from our regularly scheduled post for this important side-rant.) I have come to the realization that people love to tell you how go about traveling. Even if they have never been where you're going, they'll have some advice for you. And I'm quite sure that I am just as guilty of doing this as everyone else. When I told people Journey and I were headed to St. Paul, I got all kinds of recommendations on where we should stay (I already have booked the hotel), which airline we should fly (again, already done), what the weather was going to be like (that's what weather.com is for), and what it was going to be like. Telling some one what a place is like is kind of like trying to tell them what it's like to hang-glide - talk all you want, but they're not going to really know until they do themselves. And before you ask, no I've never been hang-gliding, and no, I'm not planning on it! (We now return you to our regularly schedule post, already in progress.)

Anyway, we had a good time. The conference was good, the chance to relax some was even better. And we only heard one person say "eh?" or "don-cha-know?" (our cab driver to the airport)!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Votes Are In And The Winner Is . . .

Well, the votes have been counted and the fate of the infamous home run #756 ball has been decided. It will be branded and sent to Cooperstown! Here's the SI.com story. You can see the final voting break down at www.vote756.com.

I didn't tell you my vote earlier, although, as I said then, if you know me you could probably guess. Now that the vote is over, however, I'm more than happy to admit that I voted for branding it! And not just because it has a very "bastard-like" feel to it and the very idea made me laugh. I voted that way because, by branding it, the ball becomes a physical symbol and reminder of the whole damn mess. It no longer is just about breaking Hank's record. And it's not just about the allegations of steroid use. Or about the media, government, and public reactions. The branded ball represents all of that. It is a messy and unpleasant situation, but we should remember the whole situation, not just a part of it. Then again, I'm a historian, so this is how my mind works in general.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two Dogs Looking for a Home

Hey, one of my friends here in the department found a couple of stray dogs and has agreed to foster them in an attempt to prevent them from being put down. But her lease won't really allow her to keep them. So, she's looking for some one who would like to adopt them (preferably as a pair, as they hate being separated). If you are in the Phoenix area (or willing to come in from further afield), you can find out some more information on them here. And feel free to pass this on to anyone else who might be interested!

Thanks!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Irony Is Almost Painful

On Thursday, I posted a short rant on spam. On Friday, someone spammed that post! I almost can't believe it - almost. I have deleted the comment simply because I won't put with that kind of shit on my blog. But, so you can see that I'm not making this up, here's a screen shot of it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Spam Spam Spam Spam

No, this is not a Monty Python post.

The university recently went over to a new model for their IT support. So far, it's been working out okay, but there have been a few glitches. The particular one which is annoying me right now is the spam filter on email.

Whatever changes they made to the system, suddenly, all kinds of spam is coming through. I can understand my gmail account getting lots of spam because it's attached to this blog and it's listed on-line in a number of places, so it's easy for the spammers to get their hands on it. But that isn't the case for my university account.

For most of the last three years while I've been here, spam hasn't really been a big problem. The university system filtered most of it out and I would only have maybe five or six make through in a week. Now, however, I'm getting five or six an hour! And those are the ones making to my in-box.

I am annoyed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Big Surprise

I'm a big fucking geek.

Just in case you hadn't noticed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yea! Temperatures in the Mid 90s

Yes, that's right. I'm excited by the fact that temperatures are going to be in mid to low 90s all this week. I know this may not sound all that pleasant to those of you in other parts of the nation, but as I have ranted on many times before, things are a little different here in Arizona when comes to weather. We've had temperatures in the 100s or above for most of the last five months or so (and highs in the mid to high 90s since February). So, when I look at the forecast and it says mid to low 90s for the next week, it is a vast and great thing. There's also the added bonus of fairly low dew points right now, which means there is a greater different in day-time and night-time temperatures. This means that when I walked out the door at about a quarter to 7:00 this morning, the temperature was below 80. This is awesome! I actually could turn off the air in my truck on the way to work today, and just drove with the window cracked a bit. It also means that it will become increasingly pleasant to sit outside for our weekly meetings at the bar. And really, sitting outside having a beer with friends is so much better than being crammed in a little bar with your friends and everyone else's friends.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Now This Is My Kind Of Democracy

Recently, the (in)famous Barry Bonds home run number 756 baseball sold at auction for more than 3/4 of a million dollars. The buyer, it was revealed, was fashion designer Marc Ekco. Now he's trying decide what to do with it. The twist here is that he has opened up to a vote! He has said that he will let the public decide the final fate of the ball. There are 3 choices available:

1. Put it in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

2. Brand it was an asterisk . . . and then send it to Cooperstown.

3. Send it into space.
I certainly know my vote on this - and those of you who know me well can probably guess my pick pretty quick.

If you are interesting in voting, here's the link. You have until 11:59 EST, September 25th 2007 to vote

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Avalanche Uniforms

Well, the new design for the Colorado Avalanche uniforms has been revealed. And I have to say that, while I will miss the old design (mostly because that's the one I already own), the new ones aren't bad at all. It will probably take me a few games to get used to them, but that's only to be expected.

If you want to check them out, you can see the slide show here.

Oh Sweet Jeeebus, Thank You!

I just found out that a meeting I thought I had to attend tomorrow night has been cancelled! Which means I'm off the hook. This bodes well for the day.

And yes, I am looking at meeting minutes and agendas at 6:00 in the morning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Idiots!

I'm surrounded by them and they are preventing me from getting my work done!

Random Quote

"So we're living on top of a quite randomly constructed heap of technologies that were once new, and that now we don't even think of as technology. People think technology is something we bring home in a box from some kind of future shop."
~William Gibson, author

Santa Fe Trip

In my post last Tuesday, I mentioned that there was more to tell on NPS project, but it would have to wait until there was some more time. Well, this morning there's more time, so here we go:

Part of this NPS project actually involved the three of us having to go out to Santa Fe for a couple days of training over Labor Day weekend (I'll refer to the other two students as H and J, just to help keep things straight). We were there from Thursday to Saturday evening, which was a little annoying but not too bad as business trips go. And considering that Santa Fe was a good 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix, well there are worse fates in life. It was an interesting trip, however.

We had to fly into Albuquerque because Santa Fe doesn't really have an airport. Okay, they have one, but it's basically a little strip of concrete, a guys with a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie, and an old sock on a stick. So Albuquerque it was. The flight was fine, no problems (not like Journey's and my trip to San Francisco). From there we had to drive to Santa Fe, which isn't too bad a drive, even if it is on I-25. The only problem is that our rental car was a little 4-cylinder, so trying to go up hills at 75 mph was a little challenging, but we made it fine.

Once we got into town, we found our hotel and right away knew that things were going to be "interesting." The Best Western we were staying at was right next to a closed down pawn shop advertising used guns in its windows, and there were a couple of police cars parked in the hotel's parking lot. These are not good signs. We checked in and headed up to our rooms. Mine was fine, if a little funky smelling (a few hours with the window open took care of that), and H's room was fine. But when J opened the door to her room, we found that the TV and lights were on, the bed was unmade, and there was a brief case sitting on the table. Luckily, there wasn't anyone standing there. We did, however, all go right back down stairs and reported this. The guy at the counter apologized and gave J another room, which was good. But it was what he said while doing this that disturbed us. He explained that since the doors had the swipe key cards, there was no way to quickly determine how many keys there were for each room. And how it was better when the keys were real keys because then you knew that there were only two of them. Yes, he's right about this, but J really didn't want to be told that!

From there we took the desk clerk's recommendation, and went over to a little place called the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery, not far from the hotel. Pretty good. If you're ever in Santa Fe, I would recommend giving it a try. They have their own microbrews on tap - and you can get a sampler platter of all of them! - and their food was actually very good. Mostly Southwest fusion - a mix of Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and general Tex/Mex-ish foods. Just be prepared, some of the dishes are really spicy! I'm perfectly fine with spicy food, so I was happy, but some other people aren't. If you're one of those, you may want to check with your server before you order.

Friday was our first day in the office. That's when we started to get the details on our various projects and what the CLI program was. After a few hours of that, we (me, H, J, and our NPS contact) grabbed some lunch before heading out to Pecos National Monument. Pecos was cool, but we had to brave the threat of rain and coyote calls.

That night, H, J, and I went down to the Plaza for dinner at a place called (amazingly enough, given our trip to Pecos) the Coyote Cafe, at their Cantina. One of the really nice things about this place was that it was on an up-stairs patio, so you could see out into the rest of the Plaza and do some people watching while you ate. Unfortunately, their margaritas weren't anything special, but the food was pretty good and after a long day, we were all glad to just sit back for a while, eat, chat, and laugh. We tried to go out bar hopping after dinner, but we were all so tired that we only made it one place before calling it a night - at about 9:30.

Saturday morning was more training in the office, before going to a little place in the middle of nowhere for a lunch of green chile stew. I wish I could remember the name of this place, but it's gone. Oh well.

After lunch we went back to the office to pick up our stuff and hit the road for Albuquerque. Not five minutes after we got onto I-25, however, we got caught in a major rain storm. We couldn't see lanes on the road and it was starting to hail, so we joined the crowd of people pulling off onto the shoulder for a while to let the worst of the storm pass. Luckily, we only had to wait about 10 minutes or so before it was safe to start off again. Still not fun driving, but safe enough. We spent most of the drive back to Albuquerque either running from one storm or watching another to see if it was going to swing our way. We made it just fine, but it was not one of my more pleasant driving experiences.

All in all, it was a pretty good trip. We learned a lot, had some really good food, and made it back in one piece. And best of all, since it was Labor Day weekend, we still had two days before we had to go back to work!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Short (And Carefully Worded) Explanation

About yesterday's post. There have been rather nasty department politics brewing around here recently. Yesterday some of the grad students had a meeting, during which we "discussed" these politics. In general, people were in agreement as the grad student position on this particular topic (which I'm not going to go into, because it involves current grad students and it's really an internal matter which needs to stay internal at least for now). I however, thought that a degree of mob mentality was beginning to take and that people were starting to go too far in their calls to punish these particular grad students. And I agree that they need to be punished. What they've done is unacceptable as far as we're concerned. But, I feel that there are different degrees of "crime" here, and that there should be some reasonableness to their punishment.

In other words, I was trying to be the voice of reason in a situation where many people didn't want to be reasonable. And in a few cases, people equated reasonableness with acceptance or tolerance. That's most definitely not the case, here. Anyway, after the meeting I received a couple of emails in which their authors gave me both barrels. Not fun.

Luckily, today things seem to have calmed down some, and one of those email authors actually wrote again to apologize, which was greatly appreciated. Hopefully, from here we can proceed in a sane fashion and take care of this tastiness.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Don't Need This Right Now

Too much stress today. I wish I could just get out of here and go home. But I can't. It's bad enough I've found myself listening to Iggy Pop today, which is not exactly office music. Okay, enough complaining, back to work damnit!

Madtv - Apple I-rack

I know this has been out a while, but if you haven't seen this yet, you must!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Year Has Begun

I know it's been a little while since I last posted, so I thought I would give a brief update on what's been going on recently. Most of my time has been taken up with the beginning of the semester. This is my last year of course work, so I'm trying to finish getting in the classes I need. Not much in the way of real exciting or interesting classes this time around, but that's university life I guess. And as with the beginning of any new school year, there are a bunch of new graduate students who are running around looking scared and stressed and trying to figure everything out. Fortunately, this looks like a pretty good class, and I think almost all of them will make it. But it's going to take them a couple weeks to get into the swing of being a grad student. And as I seem to be one of the people they can most easily come to for help/advise/coffee, this means a another few weeks of them randomly stopping in to see me. I really don't mind this (I was once a first-year and can remember wanting to have someone I could go to for help), but occasionally I would like them to go away so I can get my work done. And there are a couple of them in particular who hang around far longer than they should. "Yes, it's been nice chatting with you, but it's been half an hour and I need to get back to work." But I know all this will pass in time - I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

While classes aren't anything special, at least my TA work is more interesting this year. Half of my time is still working for The Overlord, mostly doing web design and tech support as usual. But he's a good person to work for, and he has more money than he knows what to do with, so I can't really complain. My other TA work, however, is much more exciting. Myself and two other grad students are going to be working on a National Park Service Cooperative Agreement contract. Each of us has been given a different Cultural Landscape project to work on in conjunction with the Cultural Landscapes Inventory (CLI) program. CLIs are basically how the Park Service tries to preserve landscapes which hold special cultural significance beyond simply the buildings and structures. For example, a CLI project would look at an entire ranch, and not just the barn and bunk house. While some of the work will be simple data entry, there will also be some research and some work on updating National Register nominations, which is why NPS brought in a bunch of historians to do this work. We will be taking landscape architect speak and translating it into National Register speak. Once I'm done with this project, I can legitimately say that I have experience working in preservation at the city, state, and regional levels, and I can list a city historic preservation program, a SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office), and NPS as past employers. These are all good things to have on your resume! (And, yes, I am aware that I sound like a big geek here.)

There's more to tell on this NPS thing, but I'll save that for a little later when I have some more time!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We've Been Warned

We have been warned for years that video games were bad for us. While this story certainly proves it, I'm guessing this isn't exactly what our parents were thinking when they issued those dire warnings.

Thanks to Propsqueen for passing this on to me!


Update:I came across this story from the Arizona Republic. See?!? They are out to get us!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You Found Me Where?

As part of this blog, I have a stat counter which not only tracks the number of hits I receive, but where they are coming from. Before anyone freaks out, it only supplies some basic information. It tells me what city/state/country the hits are coming from, what pages they are looking at, how long they stay, and if they used a referring link. Okay, yes it gives me the IP address, but it does not attach a name or full physical address to it. There are some I've learned who they are, but that's because I already know them. I can recognize the IP address of people like Journey, Brett, and my friend Propsqueen (I'm not posting her link because I don't know if she wants it out there or not). Some others I can guess because I know where they are from their blogs and I can make an semi-educated guess. Everyone else, complete mystery who you really are.

One of the most interesting things about the stat tracker is the referring link information. The vast majority of the time it either says "No referring link" - meaning that person used a bookmark or typed in my URL directly - or it's a search engine hit - right now I'm getting a lot of hits off "new NHL uniforms."

But every so often a hit comes in from some completely unexpected location. For example, I have had one this morning from "Bike Forums." The fuck? I've never posted on "Bike Forums" - hell, I didn't even know "Bike Forums" existed. So, I followed the referring link to find out what I had to do with this particular forum. Turns out, this particular thread is debating the ACLU, and someone had copied and pasted one of my posts (the one on the footbaths at the University of Michigan-Dearborn), and then given me credit for it and proved a link to the post.

Personally, I find it rather interesting and more than a little amusing that I'm starting to pop up in random places like this. I did not start writing here because I was looking to spread my views of make a mark on cyberspace or anything of that nature. It simply was a way to entertain myself and have some fun. Not that I'm necessarily surprised mind you. I know how quickly and how far things can spread online, and I know how long they remain out there (that's a story for another time - got keep people coming back at least some!). And I certainly am not opposed to people doing this sort of thing. As long as people give me credit for my stuff, and don't change it or use it out of context, I really don't care.



By the way, probably the funniest hits I get are from people looking for porn. I have a post on the "12 Days of Christmas - Hawai'ian Style" (a song I grew up hearing every year). Well, in the lyrics, instead of spelling 6 like this "six" it's spelled "seex" - because that's the way 6 is said in Hawai'ian pidgin (the local/slag way of speaking). So I get hits from people searching for "sex" with two E's.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It Continues

Internet access is still flaky - even university sites don't always load!

I just spent an hour and a half in a pointless meeting about things I already knew, but that I was required to attend anyway.

And I have another meeting this afternoon, also about things I already know but that I am required to attend anyway.

Well, That Didn't Take Long

It's not even 8:30 in the morning yet and already I'm annoyed. Yeah yeah, I know, me being annoyed at something isn't exactly front page news or anything. The fact that it happened so early in the day is a little impressive, however. First was the guy who was completely incapable of making a left turn at an intersection. They have finally laid down the light rail tracks outside my apartment. With that, I now have to go out the back gate and use the light to make a left. Well, the guy in front of me today pulled out into the intersection and waited for on-coming traffic to clear so he could make his turn. Unfortunately, there was a enough on-coming traffic that the light went yellow and then red before he could get across. This complete waste of oxygen, however, didn't complete the turn. No, he waited on the tracks in the middle of the road.

You are in the intersection, dumbass! Finish making your turn instead of holding up traffic and creating a major hazard! If trains were running, he would have been roadkill.

The next fun was one of those drivers who knows that the right-hand lane is about so end so they speed up and try to get ahead of as many people as possible. Unfortunately for this particular young woman, I saw this. And when she was finally forced to merge over, it was behind me. So I, knowing that she was obviously in some great hurry, promptly slowed down to the exact speed limit. Since traffic in the left lane was heavy, she couldn't move over either! Boy was she pissed. But, you know, it's hard to scare anyone when your a little blond girl with over sized "trendy" white sunglasses, driving a bright yellow VW Beetle. And I will freely admit that I take a great deal of rather malicious pleasure in getting in the way of people like her. (Incidental, I came across this article, Tires and Brimstone, yesterday on the nine levels of hell for bad drivers.) About half way to work, she turned off and went another direction, which made me happy and allowed me to speed up to the flow of traffic.

Once I actually reached campus, I had the fun of dealing with all the freshmen moving in today. Actually, freshmen move in began yesterday, but the people today were far worse. I keep reminding myself that I was the same way when I moved into the dorms as a freshmen, so I should really cut them some slack. That being said, however, they still annoyed me.

If things had ended there, I would probably be just fine. But no. Apparently our network is having some kind of shit-fit this morning and I'm only getting intermittent Internet connections (I actually have been writing this in WordPerfect and will copy-n-paste over to blogger when I'm done and have a connection). I have work to do and I really kind of need the network to be functioning. Needless to say, this has officially put me over the top and I can now say:

"I am annoyed. Greatly annoyed."

And it's still not even 9:00 AM. Great. At least having Zeppelin playing is helping some!

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's Golden

To the fans at the Denver/San Francisco game who were yelling out during the moment of silence for Bill Walsh:

It's called a moment of silence for a reason, dumbasses! It's not called a "moment of jackassery"! So shut up and act like you actually have some grace.

Who Turned Up The Heat?

Well, after a relatively mild summer for us in Arizona, things are starting to get hot again. When I say mild, you have understand that I'm talking about the fact that for the last four weeks or so temperatures have been hovering right around 100F. For us, that's mild - usually the end of July/start of August is more like 110 or higher. But this year, it's been kind of nice. And yes, that 10 degrees makes a big difference.

But as of yesterday, it's been getting hotter again. Normally, our average right now is about 105. Yesterday we topped out at 114, breaking the record (previously 113). Today, we're going to be right there again. Most of the time, I don't have to deal with it too much simply because I work inside in the a/c. But, there are some signs when it's getting hot again. For example, you notice that you get hot water out of the tap. More specifically, the cold tap. For whatever reason (and no one knows exactly why), when they built this building, they only installed hot water taps on every other floor. The floor I'm on is one of the ones without hot water. Most of the time, anyway. I'm not talking about room temperature water - no this water is actually warm. And considering it's only 10:30, that's not a good sign.

Be Fair

As I was scanning the news this morning, I came across this story from the New York Times. The gist of the story is that the University of Michigan-Dearborn has decided to install some footbaths across campus. They decided to do this because they have a rather significant Muslim student population (more than 10%). Part of the five-times-a-day prayer ritual Muslims preform involves the washing of feet. Muslim students had been using sinks, which resulted in puddles on the floor and damaged fixtures. So the University plans to install these footbaths to make things easier for Muslims and to deal with the puddles and damages.

This prompted a degree of outrage from some people in the area, who decried the "Islamification" of the University. They argue that the installation of these footbaths would be an unconstitutional governmental support of a religion. I just have one question for these people: Would you have a problem with a university building a chapel on campus? Because nearly every university I've ever been to has had one. It's usually small and off the side somewhere, but it's there. If the installation of a few footbaths is unconstitutional, what about these chapels? Do you think we should tear them down?

Oh, and one more thing, a few footbaths do not mean the "Islamification" of the university! Quit over-reacting and get on with your lives!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More Fun With New Neighbors

I found out something interesting from the apartment manager today. I'm not the only one who has been annoyed by the new neighbors I mentioned last week. Recently, they woke me up one morning at about 5:00 AM or so by breaking something. I wasn't sure what it was, but it certianly was loud enough to wake me. After that, they quieted down enough that I was able to go right back to sleep. Yesterday, however, I discovered what is was they had broken - their own front window! Looks like they did it from the inside, because you can see all the glass shards in the rocks right below the window. I saw this yesterday, but didn't call the manager at the time. I figured the neighbors would take care of it. But when it still hadn't even been cleaned up yet, I decided to call it in. Given my previous encounter with on of these guys, I wasn't entirely sure that they would even know they had a broken window.

So I called the apartment manager this morning. She told me that, in fact, they were aware of it and were working to get it fixed. But, while she had me on the phone, she was wondering if I had had any problems with these guys. Were they too noisey or have they been causing any problems or anything. I admitted, yeah, they were a little too loud for my tastes, and I related the rattling silverware incenident. She informed me that others had reported problems and filed complaints on these guys. And they would be recieving a written notice today, warning them to keep it down or risk being evicted. This is awesome! The manager said that she wasn't going to put up with this kind of behavior. This is even better! Hopefully, the threat will be enough. But if not, I may have a new set of new neighbors.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mwha Haaa Ha!

I came across this comic today and found it terribly amusing! Click on the image for a lager version.

You can go to "Jet Packs and Time Machines" here.


Sorry, had to include this one as well. It was too good not to!

A Weekend in San Francisco

This past weekend, Journey and I went to San Francisco to meet up with my dad's side of the family. The plan was for us to fly into San Fran early evening and then meet up with my family for dinner in Chinatown. Well, that sure didn't work out the way we had it planned. When Journey and I got to the airport, we tried to check in at one of the little "we're-too-cheap-to-pay-for-real-people" computer kiosks. And got a little yellow note on the screen that our flight had been cancelled and we needed to talk to a ticket agent. What the fuck?!? And right at that moment about eight other people when "What the fuck?!?" We tried to talk to one of the people behind the counter, only to find out that this is the first they've heard of this. So we had to go stand in line to talk to a real ticket agent. And, of course, the woman in front of us got the next to last seat on another airline's next flight to San Fran. And since there were two of us, that one remaining seat wasn't going to do us any good. Our original flight was supposed to be at 3:30. The next flight we could get on wasn't until 7:10. So, we decided the only we could do was to go with the 7:10 flight, and in the meantime go get something to eat at a real restaurant. If you have even been through Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that there's nothing worth eating in there.

After getting some real food in us, Journey and I came back to the airport and hung around for a few hours, waiting for our flight. Which, quite naturally, was delayed until 7:45 because of weather problems in Denver (where that particular plane was coming from). So in the end, we didn't actually get to San Fran until 10:00 PM or so, which was far too late for the planned dinner. Instead, we ended up splitting a cheese, crackers, and bread plate from room service. Oh, and so you know, we were staying here. The only way we could afford it was because we managed to get a discounted, pay-up-front rate, and got the plane tickets from my parents.

Once we actually made it to San Francisco, we had a good time. We spent most of Saturday during the day tooling around with Journey's aunt, who lives about 40 minutes outside the city, but used to live in San Fran proper. So she gave us the nickel tour around town, which was fun and it was a good chance to get to know Journey's aunt. After the tour, Journey and I met up with the rest of my family for dinner. In addition to introducing my future wife to my uncles and my grandfather, we also got the chance to meet my uncles's girlfriends, who I had never met before. Dinner went well, even if my grandfather was a little to free with the wine (knowing that this would likely be the case, I declined a wine glass and just had a Jack and water before dinner, and a single malt scotch afterward). But everyone seemed to be having a good time and getting along well. There wasn't any of the usual family drama which seems to have been par for the course the last few years, and that was a relief! After dinner, Journey and I sat in the hotel lobby bar with my grandfather, his companion, one of my uncles, and his girlfriend for a while, just chatting. After my grandfather and his companion retired, the rest of us went to a little lounge down the street, where everyone else was hanging out listening to some live music. The band was really good and the crowd was into it. We ended up sitting next to some local guy whose music knowledge was beyond anything or anyone I've even known (and considering I wrote a Master's thesis on American folk music, that's saying something). But what impressed me the most was that this guy knew more about music than my father. My father takes a great deal of pride (even if he would never admit it) in the fact that he knows more about music than most people. He almost never misses a question on music trivia, but this was able to answer every single question he was asked!

Sunday morning we had reservations at a very nice restaurant for brunch, where we all ate too much but had a good time together. We also took the time to celebrate one of my uncle's birthday while we were there. And given that he has gone through some real hell in the last few years (and no, I'm not going to be going into that here, that's a family matter), it was really good to see him happy and having fun and back to his old self. He's always been one of my favorite uncles.

After brunch, we went back to the hotel and changed into street clothes. Since Journey and I still had a few hours until we were scheduled to fly back to Phoenix, so we went down to Fisherman's Wharf and wandered around the shops down there. We were going to grab the cable car down, but as we got to the stop, the one coming up the hill was the wrong line, so we decided to catch a taxi instead as we didn't really have enough time to wait for another cable car. Right as we were getting ready to move over to taxi que, however, black stretched limo pulled up and driver offered to take us to Fisherman's Wharf for $5 each. What are we going to do, turn down a $5 ride in a limo? Yeah, right! So we hopped in and headed out. We decided later that he probably was already on his way down there to pick some one up, so why not make a couple of bucks on the side. Worked for us. And let me tell you, it was an interesting ride. Think rally-car race, but in a stretched limo. Actually, it was pretty damn amusing and Journey and I got a good laugh out of it after we got out! We wandered the wharf for a while and picked up some gifts for people, before having to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and going to the airport.

And the flight back to Phoenix was almost as fun as the flight out. We boarded on time and there were even a few empty seats. But then the pilot comes on and says that it's going to be 20-25 minutes before we can get going because they have to reboot the plane's computer. Now, I've done my share of traveling, but I've never heard of them having to "reboot the plane's computer" before. And during this whole thing, there's a loud sound coming from the plane directly below where we're sitting. It sounded kind of like the pneumatic lug gun they use to change your tires (know what I mean?). And we've heard that sound before, but this was louder and went on longer than either Journey or I had ever heard before. Finally, they got the plane's computer rebooted and we got under way. We got out on the runway, and then pulled over and stopped. The pilot informed us that a switch wasn't working properly, but that they were going to try and fix it out there. Of course, this didn't work and we had to return to the terminal. We all got ready to deplane . . . and he came back on saying that they had a replacement part and it would only take about 15 minutes to replace, so we weren't going to get off the plane after all. Amazingly, replacing the part only took about 5 minutes, but getting the new paperwork, which was supposed take another 5 minutes, really took about 15. I guess that's a wash. By this time, it's 8:00 or 8:15. Our flight was scheduled to take off at 6:30.

Eventually, we took off and the flight to Phoenix was uneventful. No real turbulence or anything, which was nice. But our travel fun wasn't over yet. Oh no, they had one more little surprise for us. We came in for landing at Sky Harbor, only to touch down and then promptly take off again! The only time I've ever had a touch-and-go like that was to avoid hitting some animals on the runway. What was the reason this time? The runway was too short! Again, what the fuck?!? "Too short?!?" Somebody done fucked up! It's not like we had an odd sized plane or anything! So we had the great fun of smacking the runway once, coming back up to speed, taking off again, circling, and being redirected to another runway. By this time, I was listening in on the tower communications and I actually heard them divert another plane to a different runway so we could land. At last we made it down safe. By the time we got our bags, made it to my truck, and got out of the airport, it was after 11:00PM.

We both decided we were going to take yesterday off to recover from our vacation. So we slept late, and had a leisurely lunch before Journey had to head back to Tucson. All in all, I'd say it was a fun trip and we had a good time. The getting there and back sucked, but the trip itself was fun!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Arizona Monsoon Rains

We had a great rain storm start up this afternoon while I was at work - including an emergency flooding warning on the radio. It was impressive enough that the power was flickering in and out. At one point it was bad enough that I actually had to shut down my office computer. This particular computer is crappy enough that it's perpetually on the verge of just dying, so a lightning strike would probably would have caused it to explode! So, I ended up spending a little over an hour trying to get work done without a computer. All kinds of fun.

The drive home was . . . interesting. First, there was a traffic light out and a lone (very wet) police officer trying to help traffic through. Poor guy, I do not envy him. While mostly uneventful, the rest of the drive was a pain simply because it took so long. Under normal rush-hour conditions, it takes me about 20-30 minutes to get home. Today, it was almost an hour! But, I'm actually willing to accept this because it means that people were driving reasonable speeds, given the conditions. Well, most people anyway. There was one guy who insisted on driving well above the speed limit - a speed which is based on good driving conditions, not rain and flooded roads. And, of course, he hit a very large puddle in the middle of the road right as he was passing me, spending a small title wave over the hood, windshield, driver's side window of my truck. At least I saw him coming up from behind and was prepared, and luckily there was no one to my left. So I simply slowed down, sped up my wipers, and let him go ahead of me. That way, if he were to get in an accident, at least it wouldn't be with me!

After that, it was just slow going until I reached my apartment complex. And found the parking lot one giant lake. Even around the edges where I park, the water was at least six inches deep. And me wearing business shoes, too. Had I been wearing my normal hiking boots or my shit-kickers, there wouldn't have been any problem. But no, I have to go and try to look professional. At least I was able to park near a curb, so I only had to get one foot wet. I just hope my shoe is all the way dry by tomorrow morning.

And you know what? I'm not pissed, angry, or annoyed! I'm actually quite pleased - because it rained!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yea, Free Burrito-ie Goodness!

They just opened a new Chipotle near campus. And today they had a special promo - if you showed up with an ASU ID, you got a free burrito or bowl, including guac and a drink! Yes, the line was incredibly long, but it moved quick and we were willing to wait for free food!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Joys of New Neighbors

Recently, the people who lived in the apartment below mine moved out. All things considered, these people weren't too bad as neighbors. You could occasionally feel and hear the bass from their music coming up through the floor, but it wasn't enough to really cause any problems. Once in a while they would throw a party on the weekend, which could get pretty loud. But they pretty much always wrapped up by midnight or 1:00AM, and they wouldn't leave the front of the building trashed or anything like that, so I was willing to live and let live.

Someone else has now moved in, and already I'm concerned. Yesterday as I was trying to relax at the end of the day, the new neighbor decided to listen to his music. This guy's music was turned up so loud that I could hear the lyrics, and the bass was so high that things in my kitchen were rattling. I know that I live in an apartment complex, so there is going to be some noise bleeding through, but when the silverware in the drawer in rattling in time with someone's music, that's over the line. So, I went downstairs and knocked on his door, planning on asking to turn it down some. I knocked and waited, and waited, and waited some more. No answer – the music was so loud I don't think he heard me. So I knocked again, with a little more force. This time I got his attention. I could hear some muffled fumbling around, and eventually he opened the door. And I learned why the music was so loud and why it took him so long to come to the door.

If you've ever smoked pot, or even been around someone who is, you can identify the smell really quick. And that was the first thing I noticed when he opened the door – that smell. Well, the smell and the guy’s red eyes (another big hint). If people want to toke, fine. Doesn't really bother me at all. It just means that I have to be very clear with whatever information I'm trying to get across to them. So, I very nicely told him that I was his upstairs neighbor and that his music was moving things around in my kitchen and would he mind turning it down. This was all said in three short, very simple sentences. He kind of blinked two or three times, processing the request. For the computer geeks out there, it’s like when you ask an older machine to perform a task which is right at the limits of its abilities, like run a newer, more complex program, and it has to stop everything else its doing and things almost freeze for few seconds. I could have sworn that's what I was looking at as he was "thinking." And then, like that old computer does when it's finally opened that program, everything came back up to (almost) full speed. "Oh, sorry, man," he said, "I’ll keep it down." I thanked him and went back to my apartment. And thankfully, he was able to carry through on his word and things remained acceptably quick the rest of the night. I'm just hoping that I don't have to do this too often.

I am really looking forward to marrying Journey and getting a place of our own, where we don't have to worry about this kind of thing too much unless we want to!

Vick, Bonds, and Donaghy

Disclaimer: These are simply my views on all of these things. I am in no way an expert on all the details or circumstances surrounding these men. Do not take my words as the be all and end all. As has been pointed out in the past, often by me, I am a well practiced and experienced bull-shitter. So, take these comments with a grain of salt – in other words, lighten up and consider who’s writing this crap (namely, me).

Michael Vick
I have tried to avoid writing about this simply because so many other people have written on it and, I think, many people are starting to get tired of it. As I have been following this, however, there is one thing that I've noticed and cannot keep silent about. This is the fact that nearly all of the commentators I've heard have already tried and convicted Vick. The man has a right to defend himself in the court of law before we condemn him. A grand jury indictment simply means that a group of people have decided that there is enough evidence that they are willing to listen to case. It does not mean, however, that the prosecution has proved their case.

That having been said, however, I personally think that he was involved, but I will give him the benefit of doubt until the legal process has run its course. Now, I've never been a big fan of Michael Vick. I think he's been over-hyped and over-rated since he entered the NFL. Not that he's a bad player, but he certainly didn't reinvent either the game as a whole or the quarterback position – which many were expecting when he came in. And on top of that, he's always come off a little arrogant to me. Not as bad as, say, Randy Moss or Chris Carter, but arrogant nonetheless.

And just a brief aside, here. The very thought of dog-fighting is abhorrent to me. Yes, I know it takes place and that such "sports" have been going on for centuries; for example, in the Medieval period, it was not uncommon for "bear-baiting" to go on. This was where they would chain a bear to a stake and then release several dogs on it, while the crowd bet on whether the bear or dogs would survive, and how many dogs the bear would kill or maim before it was all over. Society as a whole, however, as evolved and progressed, and it's time that we get past such behavior. We also used to think it was okay to tell women they weren't smart enough to vote. Societal evolution is a good thing.

Barry Bonds
Much like Vick, Barry Bonds has been convicted in the public eye before anything has been proven in any sort of court. And much like Vick, I personally think Bonds used steroids, but I'll give him the benefit of doubt for now. As Bonds approaches Hank Aaron's homerun record, I find myself wondering how history will record the event. Will it be recorded as a triumph or will it be recorded as a cheater simply getting away with it? Or will it be something in between? I honestly don't know. My guess is that there will always been a little asterisk next to him and his record.

Regardless of how history records it, I will always have more respect for Aaron than I will for Bonds. Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record with dignity and poise, all the while receiving hate mail and death threats. I have to give him some real credit for being able maintain his pride and dignity through it all. Bonds on the other hand, seems to feel that he is entitled to the record. This just annoys me. Sports figures should not feel "entitled" to anything, much less a record. Honored, proud, or grateful? Okay. Humbled? Even better. But not entitled. Never entitled.

I also wonder how many more seasons Bonds will play after breaking the record. I must admit that I would not be entirely surprised if he only played one more season and then retired.

Tim Donaghy
Again, I must emphasize that he has not been tried or convicted of anything as of yet. But I must admit that things don't look real good for him. I just have to wonder if this guy really thought he would be able to get away with this kind of thing. Sports and sports betting are so heavily watched that you would think that he’d know he’d be caught eventually.

But while what Donaghy is accused of having done is bad, I have to admit that I have long wondered at some of the officiating in the NBA. I'm not a huge basketball fan – a bunch of tall sweaty guys running around slapping a little round ball isn't all that exciting to me. (Although, I must admit that I've gotten into it a little more since I moved to the Phoenix area and get to see the Suns play. The game is certainly more interesting when you're surrounded by hard-core fans at the local bar.) But even I've noticed that there seem be a rather high number of bizarre or strange calls, both called and uncalled. I mean, at least in the other major sports there's some kind of back up system in place. Replay in football and hockey, call checks in baseball, and ref conferences in all three. But you almost never see NBA refs getting together to talk about a call or going back and looking at video replay (or at least, not in my limited experience).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great Quote

I was watching "Around the Horn" this afternoon. It's a show on ESPN where a group of sports analysts go around and debate current sports topics and news. One of the regulars on the show is Woody Paige, a sports columnist for the Denver Post. Part of Woody's "schtick" on the show is to have a chalk board with some kind of funny statement on it behind him. Today's read: "Don't follow in my footsteps - I walk into walls!"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Singin' the Blues

I'm a big fan of the blues - Chicago blues, Memphis blues, Delta blues - doesn't matter, I like them all. I have the blues on CD, MP3, and vinyl. I can even play the blues . . . at least, some. When I have time (which is rather rare), I sometimes relax by playing the blues on my bass guitar. As much I enjoy playing, I'm not all that great. And as much as I enjoy playing a couple of blues records on my stereo, nothing, nothing, can replace live blues. There is an energy and power to live blues which simply cannot be found on any recording. Unfortunately, there aren't really any good blues joints around here.

. . . Or, at least, there weren't.

I recently found out that a particular bar in my area was going to renovate and become a blues, jazz, and soul bar. Now, previously, this bar was such a dive, even I wouldn't go in there. It was dark, dirty, and not very inviting. It's still small and dark, but it's now clean and a great place to hang out. Last night was their grand re-opening, so I decided to check it out. It was great! The bands were groovin', and crowd was into it, and everybody was having a good time. So, if you're even in the Tempe/Mesa area, and feel like hearing some good live blues or jazz, stop by the Big Fish Pub. It still doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside you'll find great music and a fun night out. Oh, and the prices on drinks aren't too bad either!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oh, I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener . . .

Saw this story on the Arizona Daily Star website. Apparently, Tucson police mistakenly pulled over the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, thinking it was stolen when it wasn't. I just have to wonder how the officer called it in: "Uh, dispatch, I am currently in pursuit of a 25 foot hot dog, please send back-up with lots of ketchup, mustard, and relish. And a beer. Over."

7-2-7

July 2, 2007.

That's when one of my favorite web-comics is coming back. Anywhere But Here has been on hiatus since April while the author, Jason Siebels, dealt with some real-life things. But he had now announced that he's ready to get things going again. The strip will back in full swing as of Monday. If you haven't ever read ABH, you might want to check it out!

New NHL Uniforms

Beginning this coming season, NHL teams are going to have new uniforms. The new unis will be designed and produced by Reebok. They'll include a tighter fit and a different fabric which is intended to move better and keep the players cooler. At the same time, teams have been given the opportunity to redesign their uniforms' look. While information is still a little scarce, a few teams have unveiled their plans. The Boston Bruins, for example, have only made a slight change to theirs. The primary logo has changed slightly, and the secondary logo (on the shoulder) has been redesigned.
Other teams are going for a whole new look, most notably the Washington Capitals. They have completely scrapped their old unis and colors.

Here's the old uniformAnd here is the new one:And in addition to what we do know, there is plenty of speculation as to what other teams' new uniforms will look like. NHL Digest has a series of potential designs for a few teams. Of particular interest to me, of course, is the new Colorado Avalanche uniform.
I could live with this. As it is, my current jersey is out of date. I have a old Rob Blake white home jersey. Rob Blake is no longer with the Avs, his number now belongs to John-Michael Liles, and white is now the away color. Unfortunately, hockey jerseys tend to be rather expensive, so I don't think I'll be able to replace mine anytime soon. Of course, on the plus side, the wearing of old style jerseys is a perfectly acceptable practice for hockey fans, so there's no real hurry!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

World Won't End Before 2060

According to Newton anyway. CNN.com posted this story about a series of papers written by Isaac Newton, in which he predicted that world would not end prior to 2060. According to the CNN story, Newton wrote, "It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner."

This works out perfectly for me. For a long time, I have said that when I turn 80, I'm going to plant myself on the front porch with a carton of cigarettes, a case of Jack, and a loaded shotgun.

I was born in 1980. So by 2060, I'll be . . . you guessed it, 80. The timing couldn't be better. I'll be able to sit, smoke, drink, and just wait for the end of the world!

Friday, June 15, 2007

NOW It's Time!

Yay! My salsa is ready. Now, one thing you should understand. When I say I want salsa, I mean I want real salsa. "Pace" doesn't count! I want big chunks of tomato, onion, lots of cilantro and garlic, etc. A lot of watered-down tomato sauce with a couple pieces of tomato and onion and a ton of salt - i.e. Pace-style "salsa" - simply does not cut it. Admittedly, I do keep a jar of commercial "salsa" in my fridge simply because it keeps longer and works on short notice. As is evident from my post yesterday, having to wait for good salsa is not exactly something I'm good at. But, I try to buy something better than Pace. Anyway, I can now have my salsa, real salsa.

"Man goes into cage, cage goes into salsa. Shark's in the salsa. Our shark." ~ Randal Graves, Clerks

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Hate Waiting

I was in the mode for fresh, home-made salsa today, so I stopped by the store and picked up the stuff. Unfortunately, salsa really needs at least 12 hours or so to meld and come together. This means waiting until tomorrow - this I do not like. And this is really good salsa, too.

[tick tick tick]

Is it ready yet?

Where Are My Files?

So the ASU History Department has just launched a new webpage. In my opinion, this is a good thing. I was the one who designed the old page and managed it for a while, but I was not a big fan of it. The problem was that I didn't really have any creative control, so the results were less than ideal. Still better than the previous versions, but that's not saying much.

Anyway, this new version was designed by a professional web designer and is pretty nice. There are few things I don't like, but you're never going to make everyone happy. Anyway, when this new page was launched, the designer removed all of the old files from the server - including the files for the six project webpages I manage. This annoyed me. And it's not like the faculty members on the website committee don't know about these pages or the fact that I manage them. Luckily, I'm anal-retentive enough about my files that I have several back-ups, including the original files. Some designers I know just work on the server copies and don't bother having the originals on their computer. Not me! This means that I was able to just reload the files and everything was fine again.

But still! To just assume that those files were unimportant and could be deleted . . . There were many obscenities said under my breath at work today.

Monday, June 04, 2007

No Shit . . .

A word of advice - if you ever have to submit photos of your house to government for any reason, it's probably a good idea to wait and take the picture after your dog has finished taking a shit in the middle of the lawn - and, hence, in the middle of your shot. Believe me, submitting a picture with your dog in mid-squat will not, repeat not, help your case with the city.