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 story. You can see the final voting break down at

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!


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


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!