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!