Saturday, October 17, 2009


Ok, so you might remember me railing against the establishment a couple months ago and insinuating that anyone with certain words in their job title were nothing more than grifters hellbent on pilfering any credit for successful operations. What I failed to mention was all the hard work those people do supporting, training, and assisting their coworkers in a multitude of different work-related scenarios and endeavors. Add to that the fact that these people tend to be paragons of social embededness and interactivity, and I really feel like a jerk. I mean, these are professionals that have spent years dedicating their lives to their craft; if they delegate a task to a coworker it must be because they have other things that are keeping them busy and they have the utmost confidence in their coworker's ability to complete said task. And when you take into account the amount of time they spend working outside the office, well, they should probably be up for a raise!

Anyway, I can't believe I was so short-sighted in my characterization of people simply because of their job titles. How silly, huh guys?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I don't really understand why I bother giving myself an hour and a half or more when getting to the airport. Outside of one experience at O'Hare during the Christmas season evacuation I don't think it has ever taken me more than about 15 minutes to get through security and I always plan on it taking over an'd think I'd learn. As you can guess I'm typing this up from Gate B13 in Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor - the last remaining airport where wifi is free, and for that SH will always be my favorite airport.

Anyway, getting up before 5 am to give yourself enough time to make your flight only to have to spend an hour dicking around on the internet to pass the time really sucks. Wish me luck as I travel to Minneapolis for a Very Mayer/Bos Wedding!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


It's amazing how different two people's reactions can be to the exact same scenario. Even more fascinating is the consistency in differences between two types of people and their responses.


Obviously we're talking about the workplace and the way things are handled (it's not like I have a social life to discuss). As I was saying, the most interesting difference I've noticed is the way parents and non-parents interact with other people in the workplace.

Parents seem to be able to deal with a much wider range of personalities and managing styles and are much less likely to make or listen to excuses of others. Frankfurt wrote a book about the difference between bullshit, lies, and simple ignorance. In my experience parents and cynics have an uncanny ability to sniff out the bullshit shoveled by other departments. Maybe people just aren't cynical enough anymore. Maybe. It might be the teacher in me, but I find myself having much more in common with my parental co-workers when it comes to social temperament and the competence level of the people I'm working with.

By contrast, people without kids or experience with them seem to be much more passive or at least willing to put up with the rationalization other people put forth. I'm not sure if I would describe this approach as soft or simply diplomatic but it drives me crazy. My two biggest points of contention occur when a.) people can't handle criticism or view it as some sort of personal attack when commenting on an idea or procedure or b.) some one's not doing their job and rather than hold that party responsible some excuse is made (or accepted) and the behavior is never corrected - the ringing bell in this Pavlovian example is the bullshit being proposed as some acceptable excuse and the salivating dog is the diplomat who wants nothing more than to believe that everyone is telling the truth and no one has any need for deception. There is no food here, the subject has already been properly conditioned.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


You know what I hate? My conscience or maybe more accurately, my sub-conscious, or something. Not that I think I'd be better off without them/it, just that I wish it'd shut up every once in a while. Like when I'm walking through the store wondering how the hell I can manage to spend a hundred sixty dollars a month on groceries and I grab a bag of Doritos because they're on sale for $1.88 and that little voice goes, "THAT, THAT RIGHT THERE, THAT'S HOW YOU SPEND ALMOST TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH ON GROCERIES!"

"Geez, calm down, you don't have to yell at me, man I haven't had Doritos in forever and they finally go on sale and I get a lecture...I really don't need this. Oh crap, am I having a breakdown in the snack food aisle of Safeway? OH CRAP AM I SAYING ALL THIS OUT LOUD?!"

"Now, who's yelling? I needed to yell to be heard over that stupid iPod. What's your excuse?"

It's an awkward feeling watching security of Safeway approach you, nervously glancing at each other, hands hovering over what I can only assume are high-caliber hand canons needed to protect the grocery store from fat people in their Hoverounds and old ladies with their walkers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

my moment

I think rituals and routines are very close cousins in the evolution of habits. They needn't be something we get sucked blindly into and continue doing by going through the motions. That morning cup of coffee used to be a nice morning ritual - walk through the park to get to the barista, slowly sip, give tongue second degree burns, soak in the rising sun and singing birds. And now it's become a chore? People ask where you're going and you angrily mumble something about caffeine and the intense need for everyone to shut the hell up. Take back your morning. Take back your ritual. Whether it's a morning cup of coffee, a walk at lunch, a cigarette after dinner, or watching the sun lower itself to bed on Wednesdays, don't let the ritual routinize.

Personally I have a moment. One moment everyday that alleviates my stress. One point where everything that has built up and grayed another dozen hairs gets released. It's a moment of pure freedom. I fight gravity and win, if only for a second, and in that moment I'm literally flying.

There's a small ramp where the bike path I take climbs to the sidewalk as the street goes over the I-10. It's the kind of spot with a wide line of sight and plenty of time to get up to cruising speed. Everyday I hit that ramp in top gear and go airborne. My moment lets me forget everything that's happened that day and everything that might happen that night and focus, ever so briefly, on not dying upon returning to earth.

My point is, it's important that we all have our moment, our ritual. Having that space that we can step into gives us the freedom to evaluate things from a different perspective. When I'm soaring, weightless, over the concrete I'm not concerned with the day that just occurred nor am I thinking about the approaching evening - my only thought is on sticking that landing, and maybe how you would describe the taste of cotton candy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


So where did you think you would be twenty years ago? If your life is anywhere close to where you thought it would be, then congratulations you are either incredibly focused and single-minded or some kind of sorcerer. "Having a job" or "being happy" don't count, you don't get points for being a vague and smart-alecky preteen. Five years ago you probably had a better grasp on where you'd be standing today, maybe even ten years ago. But, unless you're over forty, twenty years ago is probably a stretch. Why? Because thinking in the abstract is hard. Especially for young minds where the ability to think abstractly about a solution or outcome are limited at best. (The prefrontal cortex doesn't really start developing until 15 or 16 and doesn't finish developing until 24 or 25 - yes, most of us have passed our cognitive prime. High-five you guys!)

And guess what - for some of us it's still nearly impossible. Look at me, I've talked about 'when this is finished then...' or 'once I've done this I will...' with virtually no detectable progress towards anything that can reasonably be called a goal. The thing is, time has a way of catching up to someone that's always putting stuff off and I think that moment for me might have been last weekend. It's so easy to talk about things when all your projects will take *years*, and suddenly those years have passed and the moment of The Next Step is upon us. I think Next Step's are a necessary part of growing up and experiencing life and accordingly each Step becomes harder and harder to make as networks are built, comfort levels discovered, and priorities get re...prioritized. Sometimes Steps can be put off for more school or a new job or a stable relationship, but school finishes, jobs get monotonous (unless it's a career, in which case you might be done with Steps!), and relationships end (or take their own Step).

In the end I think it's about priorities, what's important to a person will determine their next step. Whether it's career, family, travel, location, people, culture, or something else entirely, these are the things that make it hard to know where we'll be in five years and nearly impossible to know where we'll be in twenty. These are all the things that are affected by the abstraction of time that make life a pain. Oh, but also worth living. Den-what?!

Monday, August 31, 2009



Are there still people out there that don't understand smoking is bad for them? And if so, what legislation will possibly make people quit now? This "War on Smokers" has to be called on account of lunacy. The anti-smoking groups have been awarded billions, their commercials continue to ruin good TV, and I'm pretty sure they've succeeded in getting the word out - tobacco companies want their customers to keep smoking so they can continue making money. We get it. Feel free to stop with the self-righteous, antagonistic bullshit anytime now.

I have an idea. Let's look at some numbers, because, ya know, numbers don't lie! They say every cigarette takes 11 minutes off the smoker's life. Wanna know what that amounts to over a lifetime? At a pack a day, that's 55 days a year, over 40 years it's 6.1 years and over 50 years (smoking from 18-68, a pack/day mind you) 7.63 years. So with the modern world's current life expectancy around 75 or so, you get to start smoking a pack a day at 18 and die at 68 from your habit (on which you will have spent over $100,000). That is, figuring a rough average of $6/pack -- currently cigarettes are $9/pack here in Phoenix. Roughly 40% of that is taxes which means someone starting smoking today and smoking for 50 years will spend at least $164,250 of which $65,700 will go back to the state in the form of taxes. And that's just taxes from cigarettes, they'll also be paying income taxes (and potentially property taxes) to the state as well.

Also on The Truth site, you'll find such nuggets as, "In 2006, over 5 million people around the world died from tobacco products." and "Cigarettes kill over 50 people an hour." Oh no! That sounds terrible, and it is. But actually looking at the numbers reveals something else. First a note; the anti-smoking camp is very, very precise...until they start making stuff up. For example, they can tell you how much nicotine is in different smokeless tobaccos down to the hundredth of a milligram, but when we're talking about human lives it becomes "over 5 million" and "over 50". So what do those numbers add up to? Well cigarettes, at 50 deaths per day, cause 438,000 deaths over the course of a year. So other tobacco products account for 4,562,000. What other tobacco products cause that much death? That's a whole order of magnitude greater than the damage cigarettes do! If that's the case, then cigarettes seem to be the least lethal of all tobacco products!

Look, I understand that there aren't many people out there that enjoy the smell of smoke in the air or on clothes or on skin, but this is getting silly. Sticking $3 worth of taxes on every pack is a great way to increase the state's revenue stream(haha, you wacky smokers can't quit so we're going to bleed you dry!) but this holier-than-smoker attitude is only serving to ostracize and alienate a part of the population that already has trouble dealing with stress (or doesn't have trouble...I can't decide). In the end, if the "Truthers" actually gave a shit and wanted to help smokers, they would use some of the millions they were given and spend it on research for quitting aides or a cancer cure. But that's not their interest. Their interest is making "Big Tobacco" look bad and thinking of the children.

God help us if cancer ever overtakes heart disease as the leading cause of death. We'll never hear the end of it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

apparel appeal

Ah, it's that time of the year again. Classes around the country are being called back into session. You can always spot the freshmen; they're the ones showing up to 7:40 am classes dressed like they're going to a movie premier. This will last MAYBE through the first week, after which they'll figure out they don't need to be half an hour early and that it's a lot harder to go to bed at a reasonable hour when you share 120 square feet with another human being that - TURN THAT GOD DAMN STEREO DOWN - is either a vampire or insomniac. Hell, after my first week I realized I didn't even need to GO to morning classes, much less get dressed before noon.

As I said, it is the beginning of classes and that means it is the beginning of the end. My final class. Ever. It's likely to be the hardest of my classes and I will likely have to do actual work, but after this I move to Denver so I'm willing to put in my time.

Monday, August 17, 2009


First of all a big Thank You to the team that helped make Operation: Scott and Mary Go Skiing a success - or at least, phase ONE a success. Phase two is a little out of our hands. For those of you not privy to the finer details of the operation, allow me to elaborate.

Many years ago, as I was blissfully swishing, swooshing, and tumbling ski boots over goggles down the Alaskan slopes, it occurred to me it had been a long time since I had so thoroughly enjoyed myself. Maybe it was the company I was fortunate enough to keep or the cranial hemorrhaging suffered from a complete lack of balance or my unusual proximity to the Arctic Circle, but I hadn't been skiing in several years and I realized just how much I missed the activity. My parents had spent their mid 20s as ski bums in Park City, Vail, and other parts of Colorado and Utah and, from the wistful tones of their voices and faraway looks in their eyes - well, let's just say, I totally ruined that, haha! That day though I had so much fun and, as a broke twenty year-old college undergrad I realized what I had to do. Riding an Alaskan lift back to the top for another run, I promised I would send my parents on one more ski trip. Someday.

There was more than one problem with this plan. You might remember, for example, that I was a broke college student with my only steady source of income being my parents and a student job that paid $6.25/hr. Not a problem; they still had a dog, a horse, and a seventeen year old daughter at home to tend to. I amended my promise to, "When they no longer have those responsibilities, I will send them on a ski trip" and the quiet, unspoken thought that followed was, "please let [my little sister] grow up in the next few years". Fast forward six years to early spring of 2009 - my sister still isn't grown up (really, very immature) but she's at least moved out to the east coast and is no longer a physical and mental burden on my poor parents, the horse is still around, but all he needs is a bale of hay and he's good for a day or two and we have neighbors that are happy to help, and the dog, the dog finally passed. At 17 years old she was deaf, blind, and suffered from vertigo - if you could ignore how sad it was, it was pretty funny watching her navigate around by bumping off the walls/furniture/strategically placed boots. She was still happy though and not in any noticeable pain, until one day she was, and the next day wasn't any better, and the third day they made the tough decision that no parents or pet owners ever want to make. And with that Tootsie was laid to rest. Seventeen years spent being the smallest pup of the litter. Seventeen years spent making parents and kids/teens/young adults laugh. Seventeen years of non-stop barking at shadows. And seventeen years of being the perfect height to jump up and nail Dad in the junk. Never fail. That dog would jump, extend both front legs with purpose, and drill the family jewels. And, never fail, Dad would collapse onto a chair muttering something about the dog (and his testes) not being long for this world.

Now that the dog had finally stopped fighting the good fight, I had to fulfill my promise. As luck would have it their anniversary was coming up in a little more than three months and I was no longer an unemployed college kid (now I'm a tech grunt with a steady source of income, limited expenses, and student loans sitting in deferment!) The plan was twofold; first, I emailed their brothers and sisters asking for volunteers and donations. The donations would go towards buying gift certificates towards airfare, hotel stay, rental car, and lift tickets. The volunteers entered in Part Two where I gathered pictures of my parents skiing from relatives and my Mom (under the guise of doing a web project), photoshopped them into one picture, which ended up looking like my Mom was running Dad off the mountain. Then I blew the picture up into an 6' x 3' poster, numbered all 24 pages of the poster, and mailed 3 or 4 pages to each of the volunteers who then sent the packet to my parents. So, during the week of their anniversary my parents received three or four seemingly random pages with no distinguishable features printed on the front and a random number on the back. Slowly they filled in the puzzle until at last they received the final pages from me with a Visa gift card and a voucher good on American Airlines.

Special thanks to Grandma for not ruining the surprise with your love of ruining surprises...I mean, your incessant talking...I mean, talking. And special thanks to my Mom for not buying a similar trip as a present for yourself. In the three months leading up to this there were no fewer than a dozen phone calls in which my mother excitedly discussed the prospect of skiing again. Nostalgically she would recount the time that her and Ellen had skied The Upper Rim or something or the time it snowed a whole lot and their car could barely make it to the parking lot ¡LOL! I developed a sneaking suspicion that she knew about the whole Operation and was just enjoying the sound of grinding teeth on the other end of the line. To her credit though she didn't purchase her own trip and I didn't have to remove my hair with my own hands and shout expletives into a pillow all while pretending to be happy to hear that they'd get to go skiing again. No, instead we get this:

full-size image

Yes, that is my Mom putting bunny ears on a picture of my Dad - and now we know where my sister gets her maturity.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The longer I'm at my job the more and more I'm convinced that anyone could do it. It requires no special training; only patience, curiosity, and the ability to suppress your homicidal instincts. The last part is especially easy when your as mellow and easy-going as I am. We'll be in a meeting and my boss will make a comment along the lines of "Our specialist will get in touch with your coordinator and make sure everything is working together properly" and suddenly people are looking at me and saying things like, "Right?"

My mind struggles to figure out who I am in this scenario...I'm certainly no coordinator, I'm merely a tech grunt. Am I the specialist? Holy crap, she did mean me, me the specialist, when did this happen? How did this happen? Did I get a raise too? No? What about a new title? Nu-huh? Ok, how would you like this "specialist" to proceed? Contact the coordinator, work with the director, fulfill all their requests, and make sure their conference goes off without a hitch? No problem. By five o'clock you say? Easier done than said.

I think any field that requires a "specialist" to interpret things into lay terms is pretty suspect. Specialists and consultants fall into the charlatan category when it comes to job knowledge and amount of work done - think of them as the op-ed author in your local paper. They talk a good game, but largely they're grasping at straws and making up technical jargon that they'll cite as "industry speak". When it comes to work actually getting done or getting things to actually function properly, you can rest assured the specialists and consultants will be far removed from the action, but always at the ready to swoop in and take credit for what the proletariat has accomplished. When in doubt, remember this graph:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Constants Pt. 2

A shuffling sound in the room triggered something, a primal response, a wave of fear and anxiety rushed over him. He was the protector after all. Slowly and calmly he opened an eye. She was tugging at the bottom of her sports bra with one hand and in the other held...running shoes. Crap, he thought. It was too early for this nonsense, he had just gone to bed a couple hours ago after thanklessly patrolling the living room and keeping it free from invaders. Besides, it was cold and wet outside. He could smell it. No, this was not a morning for running, this was a morning for lying curled up with ones favorite chew toy or stretched across floor getting a tummy rub. He closed his eye and tucked his head down into his pillow hoping she wouldn't notice.

The door closed with a click behind her and he found himself wondering if maybe he should have gone with her. He had anointed himself her personal bodyguard and he wondered if he was negligent in his duties by wanting a couple extra hours of sleep. The thought wouldn't leave him. He tried changing positions, stand up, circle, circle, circle, change directions, circle, circle, flop, close eyes. Nope. He was awake now and really wishing he had gone with. Maybe he could find solace next to Jason - she called him Jay or Jason (he just thought of him as His Pal). He'd either get yelled at for being on the bed or be ignored, but a warm body might be a nice comfort. He hopped up and, as stealthy as he could, stretched across the remaining part of the bed. It was easily large enough for the both of them, but his long, slender frame took up considerably more than half of the space. Jason adjusted himself and he felt one of his paws and toenails make contact with his back. Uh oh, he thought, this will not end well. He continued to adjust himself and his nail continued to dig into his back until, finally, a muffled "Hmph, huh, wha" was heard and what followed next was as predictable as the sunrise. "Dammit dog, get DOWN". Fine, he thought sullenly, I didn't want to be up there anyway, but you'll notice you're all by yourself. And for emphasis, he barked.

He paced his way into the living room, back into the bedroom, checked the bathroom, and meandered his way into the kitchen. He stopped here to take in the smells; last night's baked mostaccioli still hung in the air like a heavy mist and the sweet smell of wine cut through like a single ray of light through a thundercloud. He looked up at the hanging basket where they kept the peaches and bananas, and their scents reached down and tickled his nose with a pleasant odor that begged him to poke one out for breakfast. He'd had peaches before, when she was making fruit salad or had an extra slice from a morning snack she'd slip it to him when Jason wasn't looking. He liked the sweet, tangy juice, but he was already in the doghouse for clawing Jay so he thought better of sneaking any fruit. He hadn't had bananas before, at least, he didn't think he'd ever had bananas before. He remembered once how she had told Jason, "you're not supposed to eat them when they're still crispy" and he'd mumbled something about being left to eat his not-yet-rotten bananas in peace. The kitchen was nothing but temptation and he decided to evacuate before he submitted to the voices in the trash can telling him to tip it over.

He found himself in the living room again, there weren't many other places for an anxious cerberus to go, collapsed in front of the door and woefully stared up at the handle. Maybe he could will her back. She had left her phone, maybe she'd come back for it and see him eagerly waiting for her. She'd retrieve his leash from the top of the fridge and maybe grab a tennis ball from the closet and he'd play keep away. He was good at luring them in before snatching the ball up and running off. They were gullible like that, but she had a quicker first step and would occasionally pounce on him before ripping the ball away. He always did like a challenge. His Pal was content to serve as interference, standing in her way while he hid behind, or sometimes actively teaming up and tossing him the ball while she chased after. He closed his eyes and felt himself begin to dream of games of keep away and chasing after the Australian Shepherd that was always at the park.

Friday, July 31, 2009


No fewer than three people have commented to me this week that I must not be eating because it looks like I'm "wasting away". Truth is I haven't lost any weight in about ten months - I've been at 175 ± 3 since last August, which is the same weight I've been at for the past eight years (except for a brief soiree in '06 and '07 into ~200 territory). Since I hit "adulthood" I've been pretty close to the same weight the whole way through. I was a little lighter when I got to college (around 160) and there was a time I pretty much stopped exercising at all and just drank a lot of beer that pushed me up over two hundred, but mostly it's been steady.

It got me to thinking how much of it is genetic predisposition (metabolism) and how much of it is diet and exercise. As soon as I started riding my bike and playing basketball again, my weight returned to normal. The funny thing is that I didn't look much bigger, at least, I don't think I did, I just had less muscle and an extra inch of fat around my midsection. Which doesn't make since since muscle is supposed to weigh more than fat.

Either way, the experience brought me to one very important point: it's about taking small steps. Go slow, one step at a time, baby steps, and any other cliché you can come up. Tasks that seem daunting need to be broken down into smaller parts. It's not about losing twenty pounds and becoming healthy this week or this month, it's about spending twenty minutes on the bike in the morning before work and twenty when you get home. It's about replacing that danish and coffee with an apple and glass of milk. Maybe not even every day, start off by doing it on Fridays, then after a couple weeks, Thursdays and Fridays and go from there, in a couple months it'll be every day and the difference will be noticeable. Apply the same approach for large projects, like say, Master's projects that seem impossibly demanding =\

Anyways, don't worry Mom, I'm eating plenty.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Her eyes flickered open, slowly she shuttled herself to the side of the bed. Judging by the light seeping through the blinds it was obviously daylight, but not the kind one would expect from a midsummer's day in the desert. She peeled back the blinds to reveal an unusually cloudy day. Groggily she slogged into the living room and slid open the door to the balcony. Expecting a blast of hot air to shake her from her daze she was instead overwhelmed with cool, wet air and the smell of rain. Invigorated, she glanced at the clock, 6:49, a normal time during the week and had it been a normal Saturday she might have been more upset at being up so early, but there was rain and cool air that smelled of life and ozone instead of decaying garbage and tar. She looked at her boys. One a German Shepherd curled up in the corner on a massive pillow with the stuffing coming out. The other in bed, propped up against the wall with a body pillow. She was tempted to have them start the day with her. On a run. She debated between having two angry boys the rest of the weekend and having a peaceful run all to herself and, wisely, decided on the latter of the two options.

Quietly, she slipped out of her jams and pulled on her jogging shorts, sports bra, and shoes. It was cool, but still not cool enough to warrant an actual t-shirt, besides, the sports bra had a mesh lining that allowed her body to breath a little easier. Thunder stirred from his pillow, opened an eye, and quickly put his head down before he'd be noticed.

She went to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of orange juice and plucked an apple from the crisper. She turned on the weather channel to apprise herself of the situation while she pulled on her running shoes and drank her juice. The talking head on TV indicated that the hurricane to the south would be pushing wet air up all weekend and advised people "not to leave the house without an umbrella because it's gonna be wet, oh boy". She laughed to herself softly and thought, 'it rains here ten days a year and he's advising people not to leave without an umbrella - seems like a bucket would be more appropriate'. She finished her juice, placed the glass in the sink, stuck the apple in her mouth, and walked to the door.

As she locked the door behind her and took a bite of the apple, she started thinking about the route she would take; she could run downtown around the stadium and back - it would be quiet during the early weekend hours or she could head to the park and run around the "lake" front. The "lake" being a generous word the locals used to describe the man-made puddle in the middle of an otherwise impressive park. She took another bite of the apple as she headed towards the gate of the apartment complex and decided it would be a nice morning to see the lake in action. The rain was sure to bring out the ducks and other wildlife that would make the run there worthwhile.

The park consisted of several basketball courts, two volleyball courts, a playground, softball field, numerous benches, and a sprawling green space in an otherwise desolate, urban landscape. Normally it would take less than 5 minutes to jog here but she had opted to walk to the park and jog around the lake which meant she had long finished the apple by the time she got the entrance. Upon reaching the lake, she tossed the remaining apple in - there were plenty of creatures around to nibble on it and barely had it hit the water than she saw the ripples of fish picking at it's fleshy, submerged core.

The slight drizzle that continued to fall had an oddly muting effect on an otherwise noisy area. It was the middle of a city after all, but now, early morning on a rainy weekend there was only nature. Birds called back and forth to each other. Crickets chirped from their dry havens beneath the ramadas. Even the fish were making noise, breaching in the lake as they took aim at the insects (and apple cores) floating above their watery prison. She found it all to be incredibly peaceful, almost, comforting.

As she began her jog around the lake, thoughts of simpler times crept into her head. Being in this place, seemingly devoid of human activity, transported her - as her feet wandered, so did her mind. It's amazing all the things humans have in common, she thought. We're all born, we all have death on the horizon, and in between we all try to find a space in which to be happy. We all see rain (if we're lucky) and we all depend on the sun for, well, pretty much everything. We all feel attraction and seek out happiness even if some people's happiness is different than others. She chuckled to herself, the Buddha was right, all suffering does come from desire. It's because we can't have what we desire that causes that suffering. She thought of her boys and how happy she was that she had them. She desired them, no doubt, but they desired her as well and that made her happy. Well, that and the fact that she also had them. She tried to imagine what it would be like to desire them and not have them, but it was too disturbing to consider for more than a few seconds. She had been with both of them for almost the same amount of time and loved both equally. In her eyes they were all a family and picking a favorite would be tantamount to picking a favorite offspring, it just wasn't done.

She continued to think of all the things humans have in common which lead to her thinking of other constants. Instead of universal constants, she began thinking of familial constants. All the women in her family were doing amazing things - getting advanced degrees, working in chem labs or law firms, getting married and starting families, or traveling the world and making a difference. And what are you doing? she thought sarcastically. Living in a shitty little apartment and working a monkey's job while you wait for what? For him to pop the question while he works at his state job, making nothing? Maybe you're waiting for Thunder to just offer his back so you can ride off into the sunset? SHUT UP, she thought to herself. Her thoughts had the tendency to get the better of her and she had to remind herself it wasn't necessarily about the here and now that was important, but what things would be like a few years down the road. They'd both have better jobs and degrees by then, and they'd have a house with plenty of room for the dog to have a better half and maybe even some puppies.

As she rounded the lake for the third time she began to think of her own mother's journey. She realized she was following in quite similar footsteps. They both had been adventurous as young women, granted it had taken her a little longer to "branch out" than her Mom, but eventually she moved away from the homestead in search of something both unfamiliar and comfortable. She wasn't sure if she had been lucky or just looking for the right qualifications, but she felt lucky in landing in a place where both what she was looking for and what her boys were looking for existed together. It was funny, she thought, one came from a group of friends highly recommended and another came from a group at the park, also highly recommended. The two were interchangeable and she laughed at the idea. If only there were a pound for boys: she could go and find one that looked right, behaved himself, and treated her right and she could trade in whichever wasn't acting proper. Part of her chastised her mind for thinking such things, the other part laughed and thought what fun it would be to trade them both in for a weekend with a body-builder. She was not one to give in to such flights of fancy. She was happy with what she had; even though should knew things could be better she knew that they didn't have to be better. THAT was the difference, she wasn't settling, she knew what she had, could have, and had had, and was happy in her current situation.

The idea of constants came flooding back to the forefront. Things that her family all seemed to go through and things his family all went through. If there were such things as omens the families' past were sure to be an example. The male side of his family all had problems with recklessness, misogyny, and alcohol, but they had problems in their late teens and early twenties and he was well past that. She saw flashes of it. When he came home from work in a mood or spent a night drinking with his friends he would get more mouthy than usual, but overall he was respectful, unless she decided to have fun and push back, in which case, all bets were off. They'd had their share of fights - early on a couple were even physical - but more and more they had been nothing more than a close couple blowing off steam. She found it as entertaining as she did puzzling. How could someone so calm and balanced become so loud and vitriolic? It was like there was an entire world lurking beneath what she knew.

She rounded the bend of the lake for her fifth and final lap and thought of the paths she'd followed, of the paths her mother followed, of the paths her cousins followed, and of the paths her nieces, nephews, and offspring would follow. Even the difference between herself and her cousins, which was only a few years, amazed her. She had grown up with a library, rotary dial phone, and ceiling fan. They had grown up with the internet, cable TV, and central air conditioning. The expectations of each group were so enormously disparate, she could barely fathom the concept, and the only reason she could was that upon arriving at her college dorm room she had the internet, cable, and AC. Again the idea of constants came to her. What could she reasonably expect other people to have experienced? Obviously the things she had seen and done were exceptional, but not everything she did could be exceptional, could it?

It began to dawn on her that with each generation the gap closes a little bit, and at this point in time, the gap closed a little bit more per generation. The gap for her aunts and uncles and her great-aunts and uncles, for example, was greater than the gap between her and her aunts and uncles. In fact, technology had likely closed that gap for good - except for her "IT Aunt". She was the one everyone in the family went to when they needed help setting up their printer or configuring their new computer to get on the internet. It was amazing, she thought, the internet had completely closed the technology gap. She knew how to setup printers, routers, modems, and servers as well as her technologically capable aunts and uncles did. Her parents were a different story, a special story, a story she didn't expect anything out of, especially when it came to technology. Why should they have to worry about the latest and greatest when they had her to look out for them and their technological needs?

She kept thinking of the gap between cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents. It got her thinking about how excited her Grandma had been when she bought her the digital picture frame for Christmas. Her grandma had been rightfully excited and expressed her gratitude even though they both knew she would never update the pictures or otherwise touch the frame. She felt a slight twinge as she uploaded the pictures she could gather for it. A few of her brother, a couple she had forced from her parents, and a few older pictures that her parents had of the cousins. It would make her Grandma happy, but she wanted current pictures, not something from last May.

It began to dawn on her that she was leaving the park without really coming to any conclusions. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that's how most of her excursions ended. Sure, sometimes she'd have the dog with her and they'd stop at the park and chat with the other dog owners and she'd go home when it got dark, but when she was by herself she left with nothing but her own thoughts - thoughts she'd been having all evening. Now she decided to have specific ideas, to be "strong" and not give in to the other pressures in the park. Surely this would mean she'd run into other ups and downs, but it was better than not being part of it at all. She ran past the gate and towards the complex. She would be there in less than five minutes...unless something stopped her.

Friday, July 17, 2009


"So where do you want to go to dinner?"

"Meh, I could care less."

Your brain freezes for a moment. Is that their subtle, passive-aggressive way of suggesting they have a restaurant preference, but that you have to play twenty questions if you ever want a hope in hell of figuring out what it is? Do they want burgers? Maybe thai food? Do they want to go to IHOP again? Perhaps they're in the mood for Chinese or Indian? It IS Monday, maybe they want the spaghetti special or their taste buds are screaming for-

"Just not IHOP again"

Oh, well that clears that up.

Then there's our second scenario. It's two thirty in the morning and you're watching tv (because what else would you be doing?) An ad comes across your screen pitching something that's "free with subscription". Again, your brain freezes (or maybe not, it IS two-thirty, there's a good chance your brain has been off for awhile). Your neurons struggle with the definition of "subscription" and it occurs to them that anything included in the subscription is thereby covered, in cost, by the subscription. Then the next commercial features a young WASP couple saying, "We used the money we saved to buy Product X!" Later the coroner will declare CoD to be an aneurysm.

While we're talking about semantics, what is up with "sub par"? Someone unfamiliar with golf had to be the originator here. It had to have gone down like this; Bob, in his weekly TPS report (with the proper cover sheet) demonstrates a new shipping model that will save the company millions and Alice, his boss, compliments him on doing a sub par job. Bob, being an idiot and knowing nothing about golf, thinks Alice is going to take credit for his work and continue to climb the corporate ladder and leave Bob behind, so he hatches a scheme. One night when Alice is staying late, Bob locks Alice in her office and burns the building to the ground. The next day the PTBs from corporate meet with Bob and promote him into Alice's old position and mention that Alice had emailed them - the term only recently entered the lexicon... - Bob's idea for saving the company money and credits Bob with doing a "superb" job. Bob then changes his name to Karl Rove.

I try to present my concerns over language to "friends", but every time I start describing the need to use proper semantics I'm met with

"Meh, I could care less"

Friday, July 10, 2009


You've dropped the last couple ice cubes into your glass and now it's time to refill the tray and stick it back in the freezer. No problem, right? Well, no problem as long as you're not me. You see, I have a problem with this process. I'm not sure why or how, but every time I try to put an ice cube tray filled with something besides ice, like water, back into the freezer I end up watering my hardwood floors like I'm growing a garden under the fridge. Sometimes I even manage to spill ice cubes all over. Go figure.

There are other everyday, household issues that most people seem to be able to handle that I just can't manage. Dishes, for example, more closely resemble a three year old bathing than an adult cleaning silverware. By the end of a load of dishes the ceiling, walls, spigot, and my hair are all covered in soap suds and a sinking feeling that this is not the way things should be. Laundry is an animal all its own. I haven't had to separate whites and colors in years because I don't own any clothes from this century (ok, there are a couple t-shirts that I picked up in 2004). Then there's making the bed...actually, I can make the bed as well as the average person considering I have a single blanket and it's folded up and stuffed in the closet when temperatures are above 110° (which is everyday after May 13th). Setting up the home wireless network? Piece of cake.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ready. Set. Ready!

In the course of my travels (and preparing for travels), it has occurred to me that there are no fewer than 3 responses to the question, "Are you ready?" The three categories I have observed so far are:

"Ready!" - this group is actually ready to walk out the door. They're packed. They have snacks. Their electronics are all fully charged. They've just gone to the bathroom and they have a full bottle of ice water. Oftentimes they are equipped with a no-nonsense attitude and Listerine-colored checklists.

"Ready?" - this group is not ready. Not only is this group not ready, they didn't even realize they were going somewhere, at least, not so soon! If you hadn't set their alarm for them, texted when you woke up, called them when you were on your way, and threatened to immolate their living room upon arrival, you never would have made it the the airport with a full three minutes to spare.

"Not yet/Almost/two minutes" - That is, they'll be ready as soon as they; pack, put their contacts in, take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, update their iTunes, find their socks, clean their sunglasses, have lunch, change their voicemail, write to their Aunt Linda, and bake some fresh muffins for the trip. It is unlikely that this group will ever actually BE ready, so it is on the other members of the group to push them out the door. Inevitably they will have forgotten "the most important thing ever" and blame those who "rushed" them out the door.

Anyways, I'm totally ready for my trip to Chicago tomorrow. I haven't packed yet, but how long does that take? two minutes?

UPDATE: As I was being rushed out the door it dawned on me as I got to the airport that I left the Greyhound tickets on the coffee table. Frig.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gee Reg

Recently, a friend of my returned from a trip to Romanisylvania, or Rome, or something. You know, someplace FOREIGN. Weird language, used euros, good food, bad drivers, the whole bit. Foreign. The type of place any of us would love to go when our work/school is paying for it. Ask him how it went though and you'll get, "What a shithole!". And now if you know me and my friends, you know who I'm talking about. This is the only person on the planet that could visit Rome, see the Colosseum, stop by the Vatican, have everything paid for, and still be pissed off about the whole ordeal.

Granted he was there to speak at a technology symposium about some papers that he and a team of nerdy engineers had published, so it wasn't a trip of pleasure. The way he tells it though the Colosseum is in better shape than ninety percent of Rome's buildings and walking through the Vatican is like "...going from Third World Mexico into the U.S. except the streets are paved with gold and the buildings lined with pearls". He gave the food two thumbs up, but did note that it was crazy expensive (something like 24 euros for breakfast). I knew I should have invested in Euros when it was something like 80 cents to one Euro =(

I guess that just means I'll need to save up for a few extra months before I make the jump across the pond!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I've been tracking my grocery budget in an excel spreadsheet complete with monthly subtotals, graphs, and a "savings" column. It's not Type A. I'm just bored. Or easily amused I'm not sure. I've already spent as much this month as I normally would in an entire month. I blame having to occasionally cook vegan muffins, tofu scramble, and potato pancakes (the ingredients for the scramble cost a little over twenty bucks!) Not really a big deal, but there are some, unusual?, items in my kitchen/fridge at them moment. Like the ~4 ounces of extra firm tofu and bag of spinach in my fridge. Or the bottle of extra virgin olive oil and garlic on the counter (the potatoes don't really stand out, I'm a carbs kinda guy).

None of that really bothers me, but it did get me thinking about what my normal diet was costing me (health-wise and money-wise). I've been eating much healthier than I have in the past. Consider this time two and a half years ago I was having cigarettes and Mt. Dew for breakfast, eating Doritos or Goldfish for lunch, and having Hot Pockets and beer for dinner. A little over two years ago I lost the cigarettes (and my sunny disposition). And last summer I replaced the Mt. Dew with an apple and shortly thereafter added a bowl of cereal to the morning routine, granted the cereal is usually Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or Lucky Charms, OR Quaker Oat Squares if I can ever find them on sale, so the cereal isn't exactly healthy, but it usually comes with some vitamins and extra-sugary milk; ingredients I haven't seen on the label of Mt. Dew. Last fall I swapped out the Doritos with crackers (Triscuits or Townhouse) and added in a sandwich on homemade wheat bread. So far this year I've even started eating peaches and bananas with regularity (and I stopped buying beer at the grocery store - a case or two a week is a bit silly and really expensive). Breakfast and lunch have been fixed, but dinner, to this day, remains hit or miss. Sometimes it's cheese and crackers with fruit or potatoes. Other days it's Ramen or corn dogs or frozen fish sticks. Sometimes it's chili or tuna casserole with leftovers served for the rest of the week.

Money-wise my meals run between $1.25 and $2.00 a meal. It depends on how much fruit I go through and what's on sale. A loaf of bread costs about $2 to make and I go through 3 loaves every two weeks, so yes, it would be cheaper to buy bread at the store, but homemade bread provides that extra knowledge of what exactly is in it. And it is soooo tasty warm and covered in butter. I've started looking at items in the store thinking "How many meals could I get out of that? And how much would it cost per meal?" Does anyone else do that?

Most cost effective AND tasty dish? Pizza.
From Taste of Chicago, WI

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Over the years I have been fortunate to live in some places with some pretty rockin' (not to mention rocky) camping areas, and at every opportunity I would venture into the wilderness to enjoy the silence and the stars. On a recent excursion, however, it occurred to me that I had only ever been "kid camping". The realization came when the sun dipped behind the hillside and I ducked into my tent to equip my pjs and prepare for bed. My fellow campers encouraged me to stay up for a while with calls of, "If you go to bed now, we're dog-piling you every hour until the sun comes up." It was then that the moment dawned on me - I had never been camping AND drinking. All my camping experience was of the "s'mores and story-telling" variety not the "I wonder if this flaming log would work well as a brandinOWWWWWWWW".

There are some differences between kid camping and non-kid camping that are worth noting. First, anything goes. You might think that's for kid camping. It's not. Anything adults can do to entertain themselves once the sun goes down is in bounds, and adults have a much wider range of toys at their disposal (like squirt guns filled with lighter fluid or everclear and a hatred of eyebrows). Second, kids can camp anywhere and on anything. Ice need only be melted. The pitch of a water-based campground is soothing. Any temperature is the right temperature. Rocks and hard-packed dirt are the equivalent of pillows and a padded mattress. And sunrise cannot come soon enough. Adults on the other hand need pretty much their entire living rooms setup in A CAMPGROUND before they'll even consider spending more than a couple hours away from home. Tents are to be setup as a food station and to keep the bears distracted from the tasty humans packed into the can (not unlike sardines in a tin). If one is to venture out and setup camp away from the stereo and xbox in the camper, they will find that rocks litter the entire area not one smaller than a coconut or smoother than a hedgehog's backside, and the dirt is so hard-packed as to give one sweet dreams of being water boarded on a bed of nails. As for the sun, adults might as well be vampires with slightly grumpier dispositions. This was the camping trip when I realized I had become an adult and taken part in an adult camping trip. And wished I could go back to kid camping.

This was also the same trip that made me wonder why I had lived in Arizona for seven and a half years and never been to Sedona before. It's really beautiful as these pictures can attest to. And these.

From SSO Camping

From SSO Camping

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Subtitled: That make me get up and dance around my apartment like a goof

Gallery Piece by Of Montreal
Tonto by Battles
Freedom Hangs Like Heaven (Live @ Bonnaroo) - Iron & Wine

I don't know when this happened, but apparently I have a sense of rhythm. I'm still completely tone deaf, so while it sounds (to me) like I could pass for Sam Beam on karoke night I more accurately sound like your Uncle Lou after a hard night of cigars and whiskey.

It's hard news when a body finds out that The Dance is still alive inside them, especially after so many years of subjecting it to oppression and enhanced interrogation. Oh, oh, I love this song (now playing: Boy With A Coin - I&W). Wait, what are my feet doing? Stop that! No shuffling! What are you doing? Are you moving to the beat?! Holy hell are my hips gyrating?! Someone please help, I don't know what's going on or how to stop it. Oh no, now that cute girl on the couch is laughing at me. AHHHH, this is SO embarassing, please, someone put on Limp Bizkit, quick! Why is she getting off the couch? No, don't leave, wait...what are you doing? Oh no, the dance has infected us both, we're hopeless! It's like some sick plague, save yourselves, chop off your footsies lest they infect others! AIIEEEEEEEE!

Friday, April 17, 2009


When people ask for an individual's life goal why is "Live life without regrets" always seem to be at the top? What does that even mean? Are there really people out there that don't regret anything? and how do they manage that?! Are mistakes automatically regretted, but accepted because it's part of a learning process whereas regrets are just painful memories serving no purpose than to flag a decision we once made and will never have a chance to rectify?

As you might be able to tell, this is a topic I've recently devoted at least my partial attention to. I've concluded I'm ok with regrets - little regrets. Granted, those little regrets can easily lead to big decisions and changes that escalate into larger regrets, but at the time it wasn't possible to know or foresee those broader implications (ok it might have been possible, but not someone that has to be told clouds=rain). You guys know what little regrets I'm talking about right? Like not not sending a card for someone's birthday. Or not having time for a friend that's going through a hard time because, honestly, you have your own problems. Or not holding hands as you and your date walk to the movie theater. I'm going to stop writing before it becomes more apparent that I'm a horrible person.

It's the big regrets that hard to deal with; like never putting yourself out there, playing the "safe" game with no risk. Oh, and seeing The Village.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I had a whole post written in my head about that annoying Pizza Hut commercial, you know, that one where the customer and PH employee repeat the fact that a pizza mia is only $5.99 about a dozen times? Unfortunately most of the funny of this post depended on me being able to track and embed the video and apparently recording and posting annoying commercials to youtube isn't something people spend time doing. Will that stop me? HA! It merely turns a humorous post into another nasally whine-fest like all the others. Anyway, every time that commercial comes on I keep hoping a bus is going to come crashing through the Pizza Hut destroying all in its path and whimsically eviscerating our antagonists (protags?) Who comes up with an ad like that?

"Hey guys, we're gonna run a new promotion: $5.99 for a large, single-topping pizza mia. Get cracking on an ad, eh?"
*thirty seconds later*
"Then we're agreed, we'll just have a couple people on screen repeat the special over and over and over until we have no more customers?"

"Ok, so, back to Call of Duty then?" - YOU DON'T SNIPE IN CARRINGTON!

Then I saw an ad for Empire carpet, remember that one guys?! Five eight eight two three hundred emmmmmpiiiiiire! I remember seeing those commercials while watching Saturday morning cartoons and it was the same old guy pitching floor tile at low, low prices. You know what they've done to the old guy? They digitized him! I actually think he died about ten years ago and they're just using old sound bites from the 80s and his CGI doppelganger carries on the family business.

You know what else I hate about the pizza hut ad? One version has the guy saying 'I have six dollars, can I get a pizza' and the answer isn't "Yes" because that would be a lie, the answer is 'For $5.99'. And there's not even a disclaimer about additional taxes and fees. Five ninety-nine my ass it should say what it'll really cost - $6.48

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


From random

From random

Ah, it's that time of the year. The blast furnace that is Phoenix begins its pre-heating cycle while the rest of the country thaws out...sort of. Yep, it's time to start planning what is to be done with those precious few months where there is sun, green grass, fresh flowers, and cool breezes (and skirts!) across the country. Yes indeed now is the time to plan it all least, everything besides June. But June is a busy month, shouldn't you plan it all out? You might find yourself asking (or you might not, I don't know my audience that well). I would tend to agree with you, my insightful audience, but a certain relative is planning a graduation party of a certain younger relative and has issued the following edict to the rest of the family, "Keep June open." I've tried explaining it's much easier to keep a month of the year open when the distance to be traveled is < 500 miles, but for each increment of 500 over that it gets exponentially difficult. The message has yet to sink in and my June is still "open".

That is, until I can get some other people on board with some summer events!

Things to do:
1.) Coachella - April 17th - probably not going to happen seeing as how it's in two weeks
2.) Bonnaroo - June 11th - this I would really like to go to, but it is quite pricey
3.) SummerFest - June 25th - might be able to make this one depending on when aforementioned graduation party is held
4.) Lollapalooza - August 7th - Ah, sweet home Chicago
5.) Setup meeting with agents on the East Coast - top secret code names to be distributed later
6.) Float Teh Riva - any random weekend where we feel like getting way too much sun and beer in the same day
7.) Hiking Flagstaff - gotta escape the heat sink of Phoenix at some point
8.) Lose job, boomerang back to parents' couch to be waited on hand and foot - what? they don't have a dog to take care of anymore, so they need something even more helpless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

enter 'i_t'

Ok, so if you were actually "wait[ing] 4 it", then I'm sorry to disappoint you and say "i_t" was just my birthday and it came and went yesterday and thank you Sarah for the well wishes and what I am going to choose to interpret as a song. It was lovely, thank you, I'll try to make it to Denver next year for the live performance. My Mom actually tried cheating and calling me the day before with 'oh I had some time so I thought I would call and say hello and see if you had plans for your big day tomorrow'. First of all, nowhere in there was anything close to a 'happy birthday', and second, if I tried to pull that on HER birthday she would revoke my "favorite son" card - AND SHE ONLY HAS ONE! (son that is, not card, although technically she could only have...esplode!) She decided to do the semi-honorable thing and have Dad call me on the actual day. And, from the sound of his greeting, he was confused as to why he was calling...I might have told him my birthday was the 24th thereby driving the crazy train right into the bus of confusion and creating mass apathy.

Overall it was great. I got to chat with a couple people I haven't heard from in awhile (Csi and Knet). I heard from my agent in New Hampshire whom is doing quite well from the sounds of it and is thoroughly enjoying herself. My spy in Tucson gave me a ring and we discussed the finer points of mutual friends spending the first couple hours of a Saturday morning on the wagon - oh and Teh Riva! (coming mid-May). And tonight the LoneKnight and Timmay! took me out to the Brewhouse which is an improvement from last year when stupid Easter made everything be closed on the big day. And the parents sent a gift certificate for which I promptly used to buy Proust was a Neuroscientist – Jonah Leherer, Hot, Flat, and Crowded – Thomas Friedman, and The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life – Ramesh Ponnuru. Also on my list of books to buy are the HOW series by Dr. Doris Haggis-on-whey, seriously look them up, they look hysterical.

A couple excerpts if I may: "Many Barracudas Are Named Ignacio And Want To Direct Films." and "...extremely comprehensive, dealing not only with the larger marine science issues one would expect from such a volume ("The Mid-Atlantic Grey Shark's Guide to Installing Floor Tile," and "What Kind of Music Do Giant Squids Listen to While Traveling by Train?"), but also detailing related topics such as "How Recycling Works in Utah," and "How Bread is Made." This strikes me as a must-own volume of reference material.

Something to consider: celery, raisins, carrots, crackers, cookies, bread, my finger, is there anything peanut butter doesn't make better? Broccoli? pizza?

Gross, pb pizza.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Apparently sitting at home, quietly reading is no longer the thing to do on Tuesday evenings, who knew? I've had no fewer than three people call me and excitedly ask "Hey, where you at? What you up to?" 1.) I'm at home 2.) I'm not ending my sentences in prepositions?

These responses, for whatever reason, seem to draw the ire of the caller. "Well, what are you doing later [on]?" Hmmm, since you insist, I was going to finish reading this technical manual for the Cisco CTS3200 TelePresence and Unified Conferencing System then I was going to jump back into Free Culture because it's been two days since I've had a chance to pick that one up and I was thoroughly enjoying it until I had to put it down and actually do stupid schoolwork. Hello? still there? This massive sentence usually puts them to sleep or makes them hang up. But for those still on the line I get a wicked tongue lashing about reading and being "boring" and a "recluse" or "homebody". Look you philistines, I enjoy my quiet time and I enjoy reading I don't care if it's Saturday night or Tuesday night if I have a good book in my hands (or on my Kindle) I want to be reading it. The End.

I guess when I don't want to go out with my friends it's because I "enjoy the dark, dank confines of [my] cave-like apartment", but when they don't want to go out it's because they're "trying to save money" or "have other plans" or "jesus christ it's nine thirty in the morning dude". Look, I'm twenty-five and stuck in a surprisingly meaningless existence - I don't need some silly excuse to drink, if anything I need a reason NOT to be inebriated (and even work fails to be reason enough). I never realized "my friends" - who are terrible people and I have no idea why I bother keeping them around - were so happy with their lives they need special occasions to consume depressants. Me? I do it to help me sleep.

Anyone have good book recommendations? Preferably non-fiction =) I'll pimp How We Decide it's a great book and his blog is fascinating. It kept me distracted from homework for a few hours this past weekend.

Grandma Simpson would be proud ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Gotta post it; Happy Pi Day everyone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


There have been a lot of metaphors used over the years to describe schools; lush gardens where the future is tended and grown, artisans molding the clay of young minds, a factory where the next generation's proletariat can be efficiently subdued, oh, and prison. Ever wonder which is more accurate?

I'm beginning to think teachers are being overwhelmed by the expectations being placed on their profession. Teachers are expected to be well versed in multiple learning theories whose axioms are often very different and occasionally contradictory all while preparing lessons and assessments that incorporate different levels of student abilities, technology, diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, and state and national standards. Oh, and did I mention the tests? All these things seem to obfuscate the only goal a teacher should have: teaching. I realize that common sense dictates that more information, more oversight, more options, and more considerations are all good things, but ultimately it places a considerable drain on a teacher, their mental faculties, and resources.

What other profession has so many groups to answer to? Parents, students, politicians, and administrators. Whose "clients" are people that are being forced to be there? yes, this is assuming the students are the clients - I realize the argument could easily be made that the parents/taxpayers are the clients, but the students are the only people that teachers deal with on a daily basis and also ultimately decide how well a teacher is doing mostly because of their test scores. What other profession is expected to continue their education after being hired on? Teachers are expected to keep up to speed on technology, new learning theories, and new assessment strategies.

Some professions that I can think of that match up fairly well with teachers: doctors - they're expected to remain aware of new medical techniques and diseases, but don't have quite the clientele AND they tend to be fairly well reimbursed. Military personnel are under intense public scrutiny, but again don't have the clientele. Prison wardens have to know the law, deal with cranky clients, and are under a pretty serious microscope. We need a change in focus and priority if we're going to change the metaphor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Talk about a vicious cycle - blowing one's nose, especially when it's all runny and stuffins. You blow it and it feels better, but the more you blow the more tender it becomes and the more sensitive it is. So what happens? Well if so much as a dust particle settles on this area (forget a runny nose) you have to blow your nose again, thereby tenderizing it more, ad infinitum. And guess what IT'S BAD FOR YOU!
To summarizate: Blowing one's nose reverses the direction the mucus is trying to drain and can cause addition bacteria to become lodged in the sinus cavity. Yes, you're supposed to let the mucus drain - into your throat - so all that hacking and disgusting gurgling that person in the cube next to you is doing, they're trying to be healthy about things and not make themselves sicker, give them a break, eh? If you much blow your nose, do it one nostril at a time. And it just wouldn't be publishable in America if it didn't suggest you take drugs. So hop yourself up on decongestants and blow one nostril at a time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


People certainly love giving advice. This never seems to be more evident than when there are injuries afoot. Everyone has a guy to recommend. Or a method of rehab to be tried. Or a diet to be implemented. THANK - YOU. Now please stop, unless your city cures the ailment I don't need to hear about it. On top of that people always have stories of how their experiences were awful. I had so many people tell me of the misery they experienced when they had their wisdom teeth pulled I had an ulcer by the time I got to the office to have them removed. And how did it go? I was eating pizza three days later and had only the smallest of headaches throughout the whole ordeal. Take it from me folks, if you're about to get your wisdom teeth out, everything is going to be FINE. Do not panic. And whatever you do, don't go out the night before, purchase a gallon of vodka, a speedball, rent a car, get hookers, and a new life insurance policy before torching the car and driving it into the Mississippi. Anyways, I had a cervical epidural today which is supposed to reduce the inflammation around the nerve in my spine and hopefully I'll be able to feel my thumb again soon. Regret of the day: Not having a camera to capture the look on my doctor's face when I asked if I could play volleyball this weekend if I felt better. Sorry vball crew, looks like it'll be another week or two ;(

Shout outs this week: Word to all my Catholic peeps celebrating Ash Wednesday tomorrow! Share what you're giving up for Lent in the comments section. I'm giving up procrastinating - no more waiting to do homework. And I'm done putting things off until the "right moment"...this doesn't mean I'm going to ask that girl out right away, just that, once I'm drunk enough I'll totally text her or call and hang up a few times or passive-aggressively hint that I like her and we should go out but never address the situation in a serious manner and ultimately hate myself for my complete lack of gravitas, maybe.

Next, I would tell you to check out the Jeff Bezos interview on the Daily Show where he continues to pimp the Kindle 2, but that would be a waste of your time. Seriously, it was terrible, don't bother.

New book - How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. In a word: awesome. I only got it yesterday so I've only made it through the first two chapters, but so far it is very readable. If any of you have read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell it is very similar in nature, but not quite as anecdotal. How We Decide seems much more, so far, scientific in nature. Cliffs notes thus far - well it's a book about neuroscience and nueroeconomics. It looks at the rational brain vs. the emotional brain and how people make decisions. Apparently Plato's metaphor of charioteer and wild horses is accurate except the charioteer is the emotional brain. Ok, it's not quite THAT extreme, but the emotional brain is involved way more than any of us would like to think (PUN!)

Speaking of decisions, after leaving the hospital I got back to the train station and out of habit tapped my back pocket to make sure my pass was tucked away. Yep, no pass. I could now decide to take the two dollars I had in my wallet and buy a $1.25 one-way ride or I could bet that there would be no one to check my pass on my twelve minute ride home. What would I decide? What would YOU decide? And which parts of our brain were making that decision?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Oh they've done it now. Nope, not talking about L.A. banning new fast food establishments within certain parts of the city. Not talking about Chicago's foie gras ban or New York's War on Trans Fats™ or the country's hatred of smokers. A few days ago there was a headline about New Hampshire introducing a bill to limit the amount of alcohol a bar can serve someone to 1 drink per hour. Fortunately, the aneurysm produced by said headline did not keep me from finishing my unproductive day of work. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that did not immediately leave my head and was, instead, stuck; bouncing quite fervently on my frontal lobe until I simply had to research the matter to satiate my curiosity. As it turns out the bill isn't quite worded that way.

Here it is!

So as it is worded it makes it illegal to knowingly serve someone that is already intoxicated. It seems likely to me the '1 hr/drink' headline comes from the idea that it takes the body about one hour to metabolize one drink (loophole alert: you could technically do three or four shots in the first ten minutes and not ask to be served all night yet still be wayyy drunk and dangerous). Seeing as I now have an agent in New Hampshire I thought I should get her perspective on this. I decided to delicately broach the subject. "WTF is wrong with your state?" I asked politely. "lol. Nothing, why? lower unemployment here" she tartly replied. I was in no mood for verbal abuse, so I quickly presented my scientific findings. "Your legislature is a bunch of stoners that are firmly in the pocket of the powerful Doritos™ lobby and they must be stopped. They're proposing crazy legislation on drinking" I posited. "Like they could ever reinforce that!" she said. Granted, she meant enforce, but lets cut her some slack. She's probably drunk.

The fact that this law is ridiculously difficult to enforce is beside the point. The heart of the issue is that this would essentially make getting drunk, illegal. I realize people are terrified of drunk drivers, but this is not a law that is going address the problem of drunk driving. It seems more likely this law will either a.) make people pre-game a little harder at home before heading out or b.) increase the sale of personal flasks ten-fold. This raises the question, can stores continue to sell twelve packs? or, god-forbid, handles of five-dollar Fleischmann's? Unless there is a special law regarding liquor stores because the way this bill is worded it leaves little doubt " No licensee, salesperson...shall sell or give away or cause or allow or procure to be sold...liquor or beverage to a person under the age of 21 or to knowingly serve an intoxicated individual." I guess the key here is the person being intoxicated. So you're still allowed to go into a store (or bar for that matter) grab a case and head out. And of course everyone is responsible enough to wait until they get home to start consuming their hooch, oh wait, we're legislating responsibility here. No getting drunk at home either!

Oh, and guess what? I happened to find something beautiful while I was researching this. Also on the list of legislation? A bill to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Yes, you read that right A BILL TO LOWER THE DRINKING AGE FROM 21 TO 18 - awesome. Hey kids, now you can drink when 8th hour lets out, oh...but you can't get drunk! You still have to do that at school. HAHAHA!

I don't understand the desire to legislate personal responsibility on the masses (gay marriage, suicide, smoking). What makes all this especially outlandish is that the same people restricting personal freedoms are the ones giving banks, auto manufacturers, and airlines billions of dollars in corporate bailouts so their CEOs can continue giving themselves eight figure bonuses. The hell? I heard a proposal that we should have given the billions in bank bailouts to individuals with the rationale being individuals would use that money to pay down credit card debt and/or save the money which means it would, largely, end up in the banks. Then you have a consumer base with a reduced credit burden so they feel freer to spend AND the banks have recouped their money from individuals with poor credit, so you've bailed out people AND their banks. The only argument I can think of against this would be that the individuals of this country aren't exactly known for their fiscal responsibility and rather than use the bailout money to pay off credit card debt or save, they'd use it to buy a big flat screen TV, or put a down payment on a boat or something else equally useless. And now my faith in humanity begins its downward spiral, I need to turn on the news and hear about something good to restore, turn it off, turnitoff!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sleep is one of those weird things, huh? Sometimes you can get a few hours and feel great all week, and other times you can get ten to twelve hours in a single night and all you can think about the next day is a few more p's and q's...wait, I think I got my phrases turned around on that one. I find that I can get four hours or eight and a half hours and be good, but anything between leaves my eyelids feeling like paperweights on my face...faceweights! That's mine! Quick someone bust out the faceweights©, there we go, sweet. Anyway, yes, I am acutely aware how weird that sounds, but what it has resulted in is me sleeping from 5-7 in the evening and then again from 1-5. It seems the two hours is enough to get me through six hours and four hours can carry me through the other twelve...hmm, PATTERN! As part of my tubing I came across multiple sites that are apparently dedicated to this topic; biphasic (me), triphasic (3 90 minute naps a day), tetraphasic (a half hour every six hours)...up through 'hexaphasic' (15-30 minute naps every 4 hours - supposedly pulled off by Da Vinci). There is also a great suggestion for a 28 hour day made by Randall Munroe of xkcd fame here. So far I have only gone slightly crazy from my bizarre schedule and hope to return to a more steady setup when I can actually sleep in my bed again (it's been since January 13th). My sleep schedule hasn't been this warped since sophomore year when I was working third shift. Talk about funtimesgalore; up for 36 hours, sleep for 12, occasionally snuggle up on the couches in the basement of the MU *nostalgia alert! nostalgia alert!* Woah, we narrowly avoided that cluster of nostalgia there...I need to re-calibrate the sensors.

On the technical front Jeff Bezos and company held another press conference for their Kindle 2. I'm not exactly impressed. The buttons look like they'll still be in the way. There is still no 'hold' button. The screen isn't a whole lot bigger. The screen still cannot be rotated (view in landscape). Not color (no, not really a big deal). No SD smart card. That being said there are some neato features on the new Kindle. The screen is bigger. The storage space is much bigger. The buttons are more difficult to accidentally bump. And it has a text-to-speech function (which I suspect will take up a chunk of that extra storage space...) I guess there are some Kindle 1 owners that are complaining that Amazon isn't offering them discounts to upgrade to the Kindle 2. To which I can only manage a WHAAAA? (followed by a fit of maniacal laughter). You don't get benis for being an early adopter. You've had your Kindle for almost a year and a half while the rest of the world was trying to figure out how to get that darned book off their computer screen and take it with them on the bus. You're already a winner, shut up and revel in the fact that you didn't have to buy the carrying case for your Kindle (enjoy spending that extra $30 Kindle 2 owners).

*cue maniacal laughter*

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

word games

When did data become plural? The only thing data are is is *esplode*

If I hear one more instance of "begging the question" being used when it should be "raising the question", I might lose it. One is a logical fallacy the other is basically an if -> then statement. I can handle the math behind both so I'm not entirely sure why this bothers me, but dammit they mean different things, semantics are all we have people!

When asked why our government is mortaging our future and spending more now than it did under President Bush, be sure to say in a dark voice resembling Emperor Palpatine "O-BAMA". I did this last week and now my office is using "O-BAMA" as an expletive. Guys, this is your chance to spread a new meme, JOIN US!

And I thought yarwhal was a real word º~º <- disappointed emoticon

For anyone that missed The Colbert Report last night, check out the "Nailed 'Em - Amtrak Photographer" video (best part starts at the 3:10 mark). LINKY

Ok, time for everyone to share their pet peeves here during Pet Peeves Week at TS™

EDIT: Snakes are not poisonous (ok, there might be one or two poisonous snakes out there, but I doubt it). What people mean is that snakes are venomous. Yes there is a difference. Yes this bothers me. No I don't know why.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Education on the cheep

The word of the week: furlough! What does every employee at ASU have to take at least two weeks of? Furlough! The hell is furlough? An unpaid vacation! Fortunately we live in a state that values education and would do all it can to protect this most precious of investments.
TEMPE, Ariz. – The options proposed by the state legislature today would cut the university system’s budget by up to $243 million for the remaining few months of fiscal year 2009 and $388 million for fiscal year 2010. This would be the largest higher education budget reduction in the state’s history. Cuts of this magnitude would require Arizona State University to reduce costs by up to $126 million in less than five months and $194 million next fiscal year.

Perhaps I spoke too soon. What this boils down to (for ASU) is a 35 percent reduction of the 2009 state General Fund budget that is remaining for the year and when the proposed 2010 cuts are added, it totals 40 percent of the university’s state General Fund appropriation in 2008 on a Full-time Equivalent (either a full-time student or its equivalent of two part-time students) basis. Let me restate that using bigger words: THE STATE WANTS US TO CUT 35% OF OUR BUDGET OVER THE LAST 5 MONTHS OF THE FISCAL YEAR.

The legislature has also used the argument that ASU is unwilling to make cuts when in fact ASU has already:
*taken more than $37 million in state funding cuts
*eliminated a total of 550 staff positions and 200 faculty associate positions.
*disestablished schools and merged academic departments while managing to preserve academic quality.

Here's the cherry on top. The proposed budget cut would take student funding at ASU back about 20 years, from $8,111 per full-time student (or equivalent) in 2008 to $4,902 for 2010, which is lower than the $5,017 ASU received in 1989. Yes, you read that right. Students attending ASU in 2010 would receive less funding than those who attended in 1989 and THAT'S NOT ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION! Think all those Fulbright and National Merit Scholars will keep flocking to ASU?

Hopefully all these things are incendiary enough to spur the population as a whole into action. Education is an investment. It's a tool. It's a starting point not an end point. It's not a political club to be wielded as one might a sledgehammer when demolishing a house. But that is precisely what this legislature and the men introducing this budget are doing. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills and Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa are destroying the educational house that Arizona's residents, universities, and students have spent decades building.

UPDATE: The proposed budget has become the actual budget. Gov. Brewer signs budget...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Talk to me sweetly

Do the talking M&Ms do it for people? I mean, is there a subset of humanity out there on the fence about purchasing certain food items, but then they see an advertisement where the food is walking and talking and they're like, yes, I would like to purchase and consume that item. And aren't those people then just closet cannibals?

Or the talking tub of Parkay butter. At least that doesn't take on other human features like eyes and legs, it just talks. And who hasn't had a bag of Funyuns or box of doughnuts say "EAT ME!" to them before? Not to mention the anthropomorphized food that eats itself. The hell? Granted, I haven't seen one of those ads for a while, but I remember a few years ago there was a local place here in Phoenix that had a giant talking chicken discussing the deliciousness of the chicken at the restaurant. Then he was seated by the hostess and started FEASTING ON CHICKEN WINGS! In the words of the late, great Chris Farley, "Who are the ad wizards that came up with that one?!" In summation - anthrofood creeps me out.

On the injury front, my right arm feels like it is trying to jump ship and the neurospecialists I've talked to aren't taking new patients until May at which point I will be a.) fine b.) dead and in either scenario a trip to a doctor's office would seem unnecessary. I went to my, for lack of a better term, family doctor on Friday, so he'll be looking at the MRI/CT films and providing me with options. From the sounds of it physical therapy like traction (yes, Kristin, you called it), or a cortisol shot to the spine which reduces the inflammation and cures world hunger? It sounds terrifying. My arm hurts and it's getting annoying this is stupid.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


It would appear they're building a Six Flags™ outside my office. Look! It even has its own mono-rail, except it runs on two tracks...around the rest of the city. So it's not going to be an amusement park, but it will be a park and a neat looking one at that. The light rail has been pretty solid so far with the exception that there is no accountability. By that I mean, you don't pay when you get on, you're supposed to buy a pass on the platform and have your pass/receipt when you're on the train and they have security officers on random cars asking to see everyone's pass. There are no turnstiles, no conductors, no guaranteed method of recovery. I've ridden it about a dozen times and have had my card checked once. But it sure makes getting to Tempe quicker! or downtown to the new amusement park. Although at this point I can't go on rides anyway. Oh yeah, guess what happened guys. Apparently I herniated a disc this past week? I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I suspect the five hours of volleyball last Saturday may have been a bit of an instigating factor. Sunday my neck/back was a little tight, Monday it was worse, and Tuesday I fainted on the way to the bathroom from the pain. Who faints? people haven't fainted since the '40s. I made it to work for a couple hours, then went to the Health Center who recommended I go to the ER. A CT scan, MRI, and six hours later I was told I have a C5-C6 disc herniation. ugh. They prescribed steroids for the inflammation and vicodin for the pain. It's one of those things that sounds bad, but like any injury you learn to live with it. And, as with any injury, it's the little things that prove to be the biggest challenges. Stuff like putting on socks, getting a backpack on, shopping for groceries. Man, grocery shopping sucks, carrying around your vittles in that little basket and then carrying them home. woof. And as I sit here I'm reminded - sit with your back up against the back of the slouching with a herniated neck, big no-no. So it looks like I'm relegated to card games and watching sports instead of participating in basketball or volleyball games. Maybe I'll spend some more time with homework or my French. maybe.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Turing movies

Hey look a blog about tech stuff that hardly ever posts about tech stuff! And then...

Look, a place where you can just enter text and it turns it into a movie with robot voices and Lego® recreations of Sean Connery and Queen Elizabeth Xtranormal. I'm working on a killer screenplay about robots that don't know they're robots until they discover a website called, um,!

Also, the Windows 7 beta is out, so if you'd like to work as a Microsoft developer with all the frustration and none of the salary go check it out at: Windows 7!. I might actually do this seeing as I have, let's see, onetwo...Three (thanks Count von Count!) computers sitting around doing NOTHING right now.

Played five hours of volleyball today and I work tomorrow, so...bai!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stream of consciousness

Ok, this is a blog, which means every now and then I get to write silly posts about nothing. Enjoy the bloginess.

On politics: As President Bush's second term draws to a close I'd like to say this. President Bush, I'm sorry people hate you. People that don't know you shouldn't hate. I honestly believe you did what you felt was in the best interest of the nation, and that you are not a bad or malicious person. Unfortunately you were wrong in several instances. It brings to mind the proverb - The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Oh, and congratulations to President-Elect Obama. I'm way excited.

On panhandling: In a word - ambivalent. Talk about a tough situation. To be completely dependent on the generosity of others at a time when thousands are losing their jobs and homes. I wouldn't wish that on anyway. BUT, at the same time, I would like to be able to walk 500 feet without hearing "Chhhaaaange?" Oh, and dude playing the guitar on the corner, I appreciate you're at least trying to earn some money, but you're ruining The Shins I've got playing on my iPod and playing louder only exposes the fact that you really can't play guitar to begin with. Talk about sounding like an asshole huh? Here's me with an iPod listening to some esoteric indie band that few people are familiar with complaining about a guy without so much as a cardboard box. That's gonna earn me some bad karma.

On personal responsibility: People like to have someone or something to blame for their problems, as long as it's not themselves. This could easily be me projecting, but I've found myself fall into this trap plenty. Work, relationships, future, etc. my fault it wasn't. It's hard to look in the mirror and admit that everything I have, I have because of me. And everything I don't have, I don't have because of me. The difficult part, in my opinion, is maintaining focus on those things one has rather than what one doesn't. Personal responsibility is a bitch.

On the inclusion of glitter on wrapping paper: Pretty sweet if the goal is to infuriate the gift recipient.

On hair: I'm starting to like the goofy hippie look. I think I might keep it.

On the Chicago Bears: I love them. The End.