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.