Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Well, despite my previous post, I actually am in a rather good mood this morning. This is because I have discovered that the key to my office (which I had to wait so long for at the beginning of the school year) opens more than just my office.

Maybe I should explain a bit here. There is one standard key which opens most all the graduate student offices. And opens only the graduate student offices. It does not open things like the break room or the work room. And I understand and accept this. So when I finally received the key to my current office, I assumed the same thing and didn't even think about it. Well, it turns out I was wrong. My key opens both the break room and the work room! Now, I rarely have much need to get into the work room outside the hours that it should be open (about 8:00 to 5:00). Access to the break room, however, it another matter all together.

I am a big coffee drinker during the work week. It's not the caffeine, but rather the taste and smell of it which I enjoy. (And, no, I will not switch to decaf, for reasons which would take too long to explain here.) So, when I get into the office in the morning, I need to get water for my coffee pot. Often the break room has been left open from the night before and there's no problem. But sometimes, it's actually locked when I get here (which is before the secretaries start their day). This causes a problem. I can't really use the drinking fountain on the floor as it's too small and has too little water pressure to use unless I want to take 15 or 20 minutes, by which time someone would have showed up with a key to break room anyway. So I have often been forced to wait.

This was the situation in which I found myself this morning. After finding the door locked, I threw a good little four-lettered word at the ceiling, and got ready to wait. And then I though, "I wonder if one of my new keys might work?" I decided it was worth a shot, so I tried. And the key turned. I was so dumbfounded that I actually pulled the key out and retried the door handle to make sure I wasn't hallucinating or something. Nope, still locked. I re-inserted the key and turned it again. And, as if by magic, the door opened!

After I got my coffee going, the evil little part of my brain whispered "What other doors might this key open?" So I tried the work room and it worked there as well. I'm still slightly curious if it might open some of the professors's offices, but I respect other people's privacy too much to go there, so that will remain an idle curiosity.

Now this discovery presently me with some new found power. The only question is whether I use it for good or for evil (cue the maniacal chuckle). I have mentioned the professor who's so anal about noise (here). Now there is no time constraints on my messing with him. That, obviously, goes in the "evil" column. On the good side, should there be an early meeting which needs to get into a room, or if someone has forgotten their keys that day, I can get into the work room and get them the spare. Will I be faced with these sorts of things every often? No. Really, the big deal, as far as I'm concerned, is simply being able to get water for my coffee whenever I want.

"What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate"*

This falls into the category of stupid drivers in Phoenix (or the Phoenix area as the case may be). I have ranted on this before, but this particular crime of stupidity came up last night. Admittedly, this was at about 9:00 PM, after I had been on campus for 13 and a half hours, so maybe I'm just being "over-reacting-bad-karma-boy" (to use the words of Henry Rollins), but I really don't think so . . .

There are some people around here who seem completely incapable of reading road signs. As I have mentioned before, there is an insane amount of road work going on around here. In this particular case, I was riding the bus back to my truck so I could go home. The route this bus takes means that we have to go through a section of construction which narrows both directions down to one lane right at an intersection. There are a number of very clearly posted signs which say "no left turn" - you know, these ones:
They have these signs because if you try to make a left turn in a construction zone along a particularly busy street, you are going to hold up traffic rather severely. And this results in many many pissed off people behind you. Well, this happened last night, and I have seen it happen many times at this particular intersection over the last week or so. The bus driver and other drivers who were forced to wait on this idiot all began to lay on their horns. To no avail. The idiot continued to wait until they could make their turn. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this meant waiting until the light had changed. To make his infraction even more annoying, he had been the first one in line when light turned green initially - so the rest of us had to sit through the whole cycle twice.

And this not the only place or time I've witnessed this sort of behavior. It is unbelievable common around here.

I find myself forced to consider this question: "Are these people really that stupid, or are they simply so self-centered that they don't care?" In the end I'm forced to conclude that whichever is the answer, it worries and disturbs me and I really don't like it.

*And if you don't know this quote, go watch Cool Hand Luke, you uncultured shmuck!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Randomness for January 24, 2007

(Boy, been a while since I did one of these!)

Random Quote: "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." ~George Barnard Shaw

Question of the Moment: When did it become a bad thing to ask questions?

Current Mood: Tired but relaxed
Current Music: Grateful Dead, "Black Muddy River," Touch of Grey

Monday, January 22, 2007

Arizonans in the Rain

I have decided that there are hardly any Arizonans who know what to do when it rains. And I'm including many of the people who have moved here as well - this is not just directed at native Arizonans. Every time it rains, I fully expect to see someone curled up the fetal position in the corner sucking their thumb and staring blankly into space. And almost none know how to drive in the rain. Even when it just sprinkles a little, they go into a complete mental shutdown and lose all ability to think rationally (by the way, it seems to me that rational thinking should be an integral part of driving - just a little important). They seem to either slow to a crawl or drive even faster. And given that the normal speed of traffic is at least 10 to 15 mph over the posted speed limit, that's saying something.

If you don't believe me, just consider the fact that Arizona has a "Stupid Motorist Law." Read it for yourself here. Basically it says that if you drive around posted barricades telling you that the road is closed due to flood conditions, and they have someone to rescue your dumb ass, you can charged for any and all fees and costs associated with the rescue. Personally, I like this law. It means that my taxes don't have to go up when the city or state it forced to save someone from becoming a candidate for the Darwin Awards (speaking of which, I have added the Darwin Awards to my list of links). Here's a picture of the barricades.

I got this picture from here

And it's not just drivers who fall apart in the rain. People walking around do it too. For example, we had some rain here last night, which naturally meant there were some puddles on the sidewalks this morning. Walking from the bus stop to my office, I encountered several of these. Unfortunately, so did the people in front of people. At the first, a few of them actually stopped short and had to think about what they were going to do about this puddle. I was dumbfounded. It's not like this was a big puddle or anything. It was maybe 3 feet long, 1 foot wide, and maybe, maybe half an inch deep. Half an inch! And they had to stop and think about it. And none of these people were wearing expensive or open-toed shoes (I know, I looked, thinking that had to be the reason for the stoppage). They were all in tennis shoes or boots, for fuck's sake! Eventually, they decided that, yes, it was possible to step over or around it, and we all proceeded on our way, me shaking my head sadly and muttering "unbe-fucking-lieveable" under my breath.

Of course, many of these people were probably the same ones you see walking (okay, maybe it's more like "scurrying") around in the rain wearing nice leather coats, or no coats at all, and then going around bitching about how their clothes have been damaged. Here's a hint, dumbass: when it's raining, wear something which is meant for the rain! Like, say, oh I don't know, a rain coat. Once you're inside where it's dry, then you can take off the rain coat and go back to worrying about looking trendy and/or stylish.

So what does all my ranting here come down to? Just this:

It's just water, so get over it and use your head, dumbass!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In Memory of Art Buchwald

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
~Art Buchwald, 1925-2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Overlord

It has occurred to me that I've mentioned The Overlord several times without actually telling you anything about who he is. The Overlord is one of the professors in my department. He is one of those academics who really doesn't care to teach, so he takes on a bunch of different funded projects. He quite literally brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants every year. Currently, he has at least four different projects going, each of which is funded by outside organizations or groups. With so many projects going on at any one time, he needs a number of grad students working for him. We are referred to as "minions". I think there are nine of us right now.

Overall, The Overlord is a good boss to work for. He expects you be in the office during your scheduled hours and working, and sometimes your hours extend beyond what you are assigned. He also expects you to be on email regularly, and to respond within 24 hour during the week (48 hours on weekends). If you're out of town, that's fine but you have to tell him in advance and still try to reply to emails as promptly as possible. But the flip-side is that he takes care of you. He usually takes his minions out to lunch at least once a semester. And he makes sure you have good equipment to use. I spent much of the last semester designing, purchasing, and setting up new computer equipment for one of the projects I'm working on. This means that I get to spend most of my time working on a brand new, top of the line computer. I have maxed out hardware (including a 20 inch, flat-panel monitor) and have up-to-date software. He basically handed me the credit card and said "Go buy it." Of course, I had to run things by him first, but he has never turned down one of my requests. By the time I have purchased everything we want, I will have spent over $18,000 on computer equipment. Here's the list so far: 2 desk-tops (1 maxed out, 1 a step down from there), 2 laptops (1 work-horse, 1 ultra-portable), a portable projector, 2 portable hard-drives, a color laser printer, a 3-in-1 printer/scanner/copier, and full versions of Adobe Acrobat and Macromedia Creative Suite.

He also throws a party every year, to which all the minions are invited and expected to attend. This is not just a little back-yard BBQ either. This is the fully blown thing, complete with all kinds of food, alcohol, and live music. Friends of his from around the country take time to come out for this thing. That's how big it is.

So, while he's demanding, he's a good boss. But the title of "The Overlord" is more than fitting!

In Town Once More

What's this? The RogueHistorian is actually back in town?!? I know, it seems unbelievable given the last month or so, but it's true. I'm actually in town again for a while. With the exception of weekend trips to Tucson to actually see my fiancee, I should be around most of the time for the next few months.

It's not that I have a great longing to be in the Phoenix area or anything like that. No, the reason is much simpler: classes have started again. And I already know it's going to be a busy semester. Besides my normal work for The Overlord, I'll have four classes (which is a heavy load for grad school). And Tuesday's are going to be my long day of the week. I work for The Overlord in the morning, have one class in the middle of the day, and then another class from 5:30 to 8:30 in the evening. This basically guarantees that I will be putting in more than twelve hours on Tuesdays. I'm just jumping for joy.

In other news, I'm having the great fun of searching for a new roommate (it's simply too expensive around here to live any place half-way decent without a roommate). He has decided to go back to school for his MLS (Masters of Library Science, not Major League Soccer - and on a brief side note, the idea of David Beckham playing for anyone but Man U is still weird to me). I cannot fault him for deciding to go back to school - it's hard to make a real living as a librarian without one. But he's going to a school back East, so he's moving out at the end of this month. Luckily, I'm currently in contact with someone who's interested and sounds like a good roommate, so hopefully that will work itself out in short order.

Oh yeah, I also received a notice for jury duty next month. Fortunately, the day they said I might have to serve is a day I don't have class, just work for The Overlord. And he feels that preforming one's civic duty is more important that working for him, so I'm in the clear there. Of course, the Maricopa County court system can't actually tell if I'll be needed until after 4:30 PM the day before, so I no idea if I'll actually have to serve until then. The Overlord has assured me, however, that if I tell them I'm actually capable of logical and rational thought, they'll dismiss me right away. Sounds about right to me!

Monday, January 08, 2007

So Much For My NFL Playoff Predictions

Back in an August post, I made some predictions on who would make it into the playoffs this year. I got five of twelve right: Indianapolis, New England, Chicago, Seattle, and Dallas. This is why I usually don't bet money on sports.

Back in Town - Briefly

Okay - so technically, I was back in town as of last Wednesday, but this is really the first time I've felt like posting. Mostly, I've just been trying to get back on to a work schedule - and I've been somewhat successful, although not entirely.

And I'm off again as of this Wednesday. April and I are going out to Disneyland for her birthday. So I'll be gone again until early next week.

Now on to the holiday report. Nothing terribly exciting, just the usual headaches of travel and family which usually accompany this time of year. Luckily I missed the worst of the weather in Colorado. By the time I was flying in, they were starting to get caught up, and there were only a few snags. First, the plane was late getting into Phoenix, which meant it was late leaving Phoenix, which meant it was late getting into Denver. When we landed (about an hour late) and taxied to the gate, we had to wait for someone to come out and direct us in, which took about five minutes. And then we had to wait for them to extend the walkway (another ten minutes). And here's the kicker, we had to wait two and a half fuckin' hours for them to get my bags to baggage claim! As near as we could tell, it was because United only had one ground crew working that night, and they were trying to get all the bags which needed to go on connecting flights taken care of first. Bags which were remaining in Denver were of the lowest priority. This of course, included mine. Luckily, these were the only real travel problems I had.

The rest of the holidays went pretty well. My family and I went out to Hawai'i the day after Christmas, and spend a week out there, which was nice. There were, of course, all the usual family . . . tensions is maybe the right word. I like to think of it as tapping dancing around family landmines. As most people have probably noticed, I'm not exactly one to bite my tongue or pay lip-service. But when it comes to family, I often to have go against my natural inclinations and do exactly that. My grandfather's "companion" is one of the those people who always has to be the center of attention, and no matter what story you might have, she has a bigger and better version which she just has to tell you about. For my part, these conversations involve a lot of smiling and head nodding. I am willing to put up with these, however, in exchange for having views like these:

Looking South, with Mauna Kea in the background

Looking Southwest, and although you can't see it, Hualalai is behind the clouds

Looking West, over the ocean at sunset

And before anyone asks, yes, I took these.

Anyway, hope the holidays went well for everyone else! Now, get back to work!