Monday, December 29, 2008

Quote for the Week #3

"You're born, you take shit, get out in the world, you take more shit, you climb a little higher, you take less shit, 'til one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son." - Eddie Temple

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quote(s) for the Week #2

Bonus points will be awarded to the first person to correctly identify the show from which these quotes originated. I was feeling generous, and named the character attributed to each quote. I don't necessarily agree with the quotes, but they are all worth discussion. I just finished watching the complete run of this series this afternoon. It really is a shame that it only ran for two seasons. Phenomenal show. Everyone should check it out. The answer will either appear in the comment section or a follow-up post next week.


"Don't be a fool. All that really counts in this world is what others think of you." - Professor Lodz (via Ruthie)

"Everything's impossible. 'Til it ain't." - Ben Hawkins

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was created by the devil to keep Christians from running their own country." - Brother Justin Crowe

"The dumbest thing is dyin' when you ain't gotta. Dyin' just cause you're piss poor at livin'. I'll tell you something else that's true. When it comes to livin', dyin' is the easy part." - Samson

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fun With Facial Hair

The urge to trim down the beard has finally overtaken me. Well, that is, until shortly after I made the first cut. Then I paused in amazement at the sheer awesomeness I had created. Check out the new look. It's going to be a kind of social experiment for a little while. It'll give me something else to blog about in the coming days. Enjoy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feng Shui

I watched this season's Top Design on Bravo and decided to try my hand at interior design. How do you like the new layout of my apartment? I personally like the way the coffee table rests against the couch, creating a cozy environment. The lamp on the love seat was a stylistic touch I spent quite some time perfecting. I'd say that I feng shui'd the shit out of it, wouldn't you agree? Now that I'm looking at the photos, maybe I should turn the recliner around so the back is facing the television. Excellent... it is nearing perfection.





On a completely unrelated note - Happy 28th birthday Steven!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not A Sexist

I am not a sexist, but I still find myself laughing at sexist humor. Is that wrong? The answer is... no. Take the exchange that is located at the bottom of this post as an example. It's funny because of Stan is a complete idiot - not because that he is trying to insult Francine. Justification... I think so.


Francine: Stan, we've been wondering around for hours. Klaus' bowl is starting to freeze. It must be ten below out here.
Stan: Fine, if you hate Christmas so much, you can go wait in the car.
Francine: So what are you going to do, spend all night looking for the perfect tree? You'll catch your death out here.
Stan: Honey, just because snow is the same color as our refrigerator doesn't mean you know how it works.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Schrute-ism #4

In the Schrute family we believe in a five fingered intervention. Awareness, education, control, acceptance and punching.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quote for the Week

"You run a hit TV show. You have very impressive friends. You've found a hairstyle that works for you so long as it's not too humid and you're telling me you don't have the confidence to face a bunch of whittling, jug blowing IHOP monkeys. Lemon, you go and show that Kelsey Winthrop that the ugly ducking has turned into a vaguely ethnic swan." - Jack Donaghy


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hilarity

Yesterday, I quoted Robert Frost under the heading of "appropriate". Today I will quote John Oliver under the heading of "hilarity", but one could probably (taking the following quotes entirely out of context) make these quotes relevant to the times as well. Oliver's quotes are much more vulgar than Frost's, however, so consider this your warning.


"When you're a bankrupt ideology, pursuing a bankrupt strategy, the only move you've got is the dick one."

"There have always been motherfuckers, there will always be motherfuckers, but what we can't do is let them control our motherfucking lives."



Monday, December 1, 2008

Appropriate

This seems incredibly appropriate considering the current times.


The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Robert Frost

Friday, November 21, 2008

Silent No More

I have taken some time from writing here for many reasons. Many of you probably know what has been happening recently and I am not really going to be detailing any of it now. I thought about taking this site down or just not writing any more, but I don't see the point in disappearing. I have no reason to hide.

For the sake of continuity and to close one chapter of my life in order to begin another, I would like to only speak of this once and then I will hopefully never dip back into this subject again.

Sometimes you have a vitally important decision to make. When you make that decision, there are a series of unintended consequences. I have made some poor financial decisions in my past (and have plenty of debt to prove it). A situation arose that I needed a little bit of extra time to really know exactly what was going to happen - financially. To make a vague story even more vague, the unintended casualty was the nearly one-year long relationship with Megan. Honestly, I did not want things to end, and even if they were destined to end, I did not want things to end the way they did.

There are two sides to every story, but it isn't in my nature to publicly speak about private situations. If you simply must know more, I am willing to provide more information... privately - not in public forum. Things are not always what they seem. If my character is in question, then the entirety is not known. The comments section of this blog is moderated by me and anyone with questions can privately use that feature - ask questions, and I will answer honestly. I promise that I will not post the private comments for the sake of anonymity (make sure to leave contact info with the comment).

I have already spent enough time dwelling on an incredibly bad situation and I do not intend on writing volumes about it here. It is time to move on. Since I have considerable amount of free time now, there will be more blogging... just not about this topic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Officially Old: A Top Five

Since I turned thirty about two weeks ago, I have decided to make a top five list of ways I can tell that I am officially "old". If I weren't so old and could concentrate for a longer period of time, this would be a top ten list. But, alas... I'm old. What was I saying?

5. I listen to NPR on occasion.
4. I live (for the time being) in a condo.
3. I have items of clothing in my "wardrobe" that are nearly as old some of the undergrads that annoyingly congregate around the lower floors of the building I work in.
2. I seek out competition to play the game of golf or the sport of tennis instead of baseball or basketball.
1. I listen to "classic" rock because "new" music sucks... it's just a bunch of noise. Damn you kids, with your iPods and your fancy cellular phones. Get off my lawn. If I wasn't so old, I'd come down there and tell you a thing or two about what it was like back in my day.

Open Challenge

I dare anyone to beat my time on the Evil difficulty on the WebSudoku site. If anyone wants to take me up on the challenge, feel free to post your times in the comments section and I will write a new post one week from today with the results. If anyone is interested in a more elaborate competition using the different difficulties, just let me know and I am certain we can come up with something. Good luck to everyone!

NOTE: For users new to the websudoku site, I'd recommend clicking the option button on the puzzle screen and checking all of the boxes and have the buttons set to "regular".

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Skaff Energy Policy

My biggest concern surrounding the entire election is the stance on energy. McCain appears to want to take the shotgun approach and see what sticks, but the main focus is on off-shore drilling. The experts have said that beginning a drilling program to tap into those oil reserves would take ten years to see results. That is just not going to help right now when we need it. Obama's plan seems to shift weekly from one thing to another.

The U.S. needs a focused plan that makes sense and the government is going to have to oversee it. We are living in a time where everyone should see what a lack of oversight has done to the economy. Since we do not live in a free-market society any longer (investors can short sell financial companies, government will soon be purchasing another 1.4% of the total market (not including AIG and portions of Citi - via the Wachovia buyout, and the other debt they have taken on in the pre-"official bailout plan" era).

SIDE NOTE: To my Republican or just anti-Clinton readers - I do not understand how anyone can just blame all of the current economic collapse on policies and deregulation during the Clinton administration. The Republicans have been in office for eight years, during which the first four of those years, both houses of Congress, the Executive branch and Judicial branches of the government along with the media were under Republican control. If they thought those policies were wrong, there was plenty of time and they had the power to force a change. Their hands are just as dirty as anyone else's in this problem. END SIDE NOTE.

Here is my all-inclusive problem solving plan to solving nearly all of our current problems. If we were to shift focus from off-shore drilling to alternative sources - nuclear, wind and solar energies, then focus on building a national energy network. This country would produce hundreds of thousands of jobs which would stimulate the economy (a la FDR and LBJ style of national infrastructure plans during difficult economic times) and converting the country's resources from oil to alternatives. If we were to share these technologies with China and India, oil becomes universally less important. Without the Middle East holding the oil resources over the world's collective head, the region will become literally irrelevant. I am well aware that this would take a considerable amount of time (probably 20 years), but if we were to start something like this soon we would at least have some form of direction. This country has just been wandering in fifteen different directions for a decade now. It's time to move ahead and put all this petty partisan crap aside and make this happen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Answer the God Damned Question

Last night I watched the vice presidential debates with the stunningly beautiful Ms. Florance. Just like the rest of the country, I didn't expect much. After watching the entirety of the debate, I thought that both candidates reigned in what are perceived to be their biggest flaws. Biden has a tendency to say exactly what he is thinking and ends up being condescending. Palin typically sounds like she doesn't know anything about anything because she is not qualified to be the mayor of a small town in Alaska, let alone the Vice President. During the course of the debate, Biden kept his temper in check and didn't make any derogatory or absurd comments, and Palin passed herself off as being capable of being the mayor of a small town in Alaska.

The thing that was most annoying about the debate was the lack of ANSWERING THE GOD DAMNED QUESTIONS. Biden would tend to answer a question similar to the one asked. Palin would simply dismiss the question so that she could blah, blah, blah, on about her non-existent record as governor for all of two years during which time she BIRTHED A CHILD. Palin did do a better job than I expected (but that isn't saying much - anything is better than nothing), but realistically anyone could perform at least that well. She has been sheltered and coached for this event from the second she was chosen to the time of the debate (five weeks). Biden also did better than I expected. Overall, neither candidate made major mistakes and I would guess that the overall net movement in the polls will be virtually nil. I must admit, the debate would have been more interesting if one of the candidates would have spontaneously burst into flames. But, that's why everyone watches the debates... just in case.

NOTE: I am well aware of my own political bias, but I am also well aware of the flaws of both parties.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Fruit of My Labor

The poster is officially complete. Since this is about to be public information, I don't see any harm in posting an image of the poster here. So, if anyone is interested in the type of work that I do, take a look. Enjoy! Feel free to ask questions


Monday, September 29, 2008

Too Much Stress

Holy crap! I can't believe that it has been weeks (three to be precise) since I have posted anything here. I've been under so much stress recently that I think I have barely been holding on. Right now it is quarter to five... AM. And I haven't been to sleep yet. I am currently working on a poster that will be presented at the Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference in Chicago next weekend - unless I do not survive that long. I was supposed to have this done (or at least a draft) two weeks ago, but I have been dragging my feet. There was a piece of elusive data I spent a much to long on trying pin down... but have not had success. Hoping to get that piece of data, I had put off preparing the poster. Now my back is against the wall and time is running out.

With this and several other stressors, I've been having trouble concentrating on much of anything. I make stupid mistakes at work then I come home and just stare at the damned television. I haven't even been playing video games, just mindlessly staring and letting all the crap swirl around in my head and stress myself out even more. I should know pretty well by now that I need to write during these phases. So I'm back... apparently. The poster should be done soon and after the conference is over with I might have a chance to relax, until the next huge stressor (whatever that will be) pops up. It just seems like endless frustration. Where is the relief?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mildly Prepared For Some Football

The 2008 NFL season begins today for the Kansas City Chiefs. I have to admit, this is the least excited as I have ever been for the beginning of the football season. The Chiefs prospects for an even remotely decent season are pretty, pretty slim. Opening the season at New England is a game that virtually no one would predict a KC victory. But, with absolutely no expectations, it would be quite difficult to be disappointed.

I'm thinking about pitching a slogan to the team for this season. Something that would appear on bumper stickers and billboards around town. Here are my first three suggestions. I'll take votes on which one would be the most appropriate.

The 2008 Kansas City Chiefs - Mediocrity At Its Finest
The 2008 Kansas City Chiefs - Setting The Bar Low
The 2008 Kansas City Chiefs - Who Fucking Cares?



Live Update - As I was typing this post, Pollard destroyed Tom Brady's knee and Randy Moss fumbled on the same play. Maybe the Chiefs will have a chance in this game. If they can injure enough players, they just might level the playing field.

Party Politics Defeat Personal Politics

I am a Democrat. However, I always do my best to hear the cases from every angle before defending a position or directing criticism. I watched both the Republican and the Democratic National Convention speeches (not just The Daily Show coverage). I even spent different nights of the conventions watching from different networks: CNN, CBS, PBS and NBC. I do not particularly "like" either of the candidates in this election. If I had to choose a candidate regardless of party affiliation or the linearity of time, John McCain circa 2003 would probably end up being the choice. However, I have serious issue with his party.

John McCain circa 2008 is nothing more than an empty shell of his former self. John McCain was a "maverick". McCain was willing to speak his mind and stand for what he believed, even if that meant crossing party lines. That was all before the 2004 election. There was even talk from the Democratic Party in the run up to the 2004 conventions that McCain was on the list of potential VP candidates on Kerry's ticket because of this willingness to reach across the isle. I do not believe that McCain would have accepted this invitation because he IS a republican. Party politics always come first (unless you are Joe Lieberman who stands for absolutely nothing). I am not discounting McCain for sticking to his party. I am discounting McCain for reversing his verbiage on every issue he previously stood for when he suddenly began campaigning for George W. Bush after his name became associated with Kerry (honestly, I can't blame him for not wanting to be associated with Kerry, but not at the cost of what he believes in).

I sincerely believe that Bush and Co. got to McCain and promised him their support in the 2008 pre-election build up. I believed this theory at the time in 2004, and now I believe it to be completely obvious. McCain's speech at the RNC (which I did watch at great personal discomfort) was full of Bush rhetoric and people apparently do not recognize this. John McCain is no longer a maverick and Sarah Palin is still just an attempt by the Republican elite to pander to the independent/undecided voters. There is nothing special about this ticket. They are just party politicians doing the job of the Republican Party.

I will conclude this post with two more videos by way of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Again, Comedy Central proves itself as the only news network with the ability to point out fallacy in politics or the media. Comedy Central and The Daily Show, the most respectable news organization in the United States... pathetic.



Friday, September 5, 2008

Never Trust A Pundit

Why is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart the only news program that is willing to show the bullshit other news organizations constantly air? Why is The Daily Show the closest to non-partisan outlet available today? No one should look down on viewers that use The Daily Show as their main source for news items. You will find more intelligent criticism of the political process here than any of the slanted major news networks. Enjoy this clip and remember... never trust anything said by a pundit. They are ALL completely full of shit.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Giant Steaming Pile Of Crap

Today was one of those days... The last couple days have been semi-crappy, so my motivation wasn't particularly high. I dragged my feet in starting my experiment in the lab because I really didn't want to work on it. I did a feeler type experiment last week to find a jumping off spot for today's experiment. I wasn't going in to this blindly. Because this is a time-course experiment, I had to pretty much stare at a shitty old computer monitor for the entire day. The experiment started off poorly, so I was forced to make adjustments and restart (wasted hour number one). My adjustment wasn't drastic enough, so I had to restart it again (wasted hour number two). The third attempt appeared to be declared, "good enough". With the background reading out of the way, I continued on to the actual experiment. The first curve - crap (wasted hour number three). I repeated it again with more adjustments - crap (wasted hour number four). One more time - still crap (wasted hour number five). That was enough for me and I called it a day... at 830pm.

All of that time spent collecting data just to have it all be worth exactly nothing. What makes this even worse is that I have to start it all over tomorrow. How am I supposed to get motivated to do this all over again? My choice - spend some time catching up on blogging. Holy crap - it's been a week and a half since I've written anything here? How did that happen?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rocky

Last weekend was not particularly good. It started off nicely on Friday, but Saturday was one of those days were every minute decision I made turned out to have extremely poor consequences and pretty much spoiled the rest of the weekend. And they weren't even big decisions, just little stupid things like what time to go into the lab to take care of the work I couldn't get completed on Friday. I won't bore anyone with details and I would actually rather not even recount it in my head.

Anyway, my weekend was capped off with the sad news that one of my cats from a former life had passed away. Although I hadn't seen him in over a year, the news really got to me. He was like a giant orange friend to me for seven years. He may have driven me crazy for a lot of that time, but he was always friendly and doing things that made everyone laugh. I miss him. Rest in peace, Rocky.


Rocky (2000-2008)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Review: Lamborghini Gallardo

After two very long entries this week into this blog, I think I will keep this one short and toss in a bunch of photos from Kim's birthday celebration which included the rental of a Lamborghini Gallardo. Having never been the passenger in a vehicle like this before, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew it would be impressive, but WOW! It's more of an experience than a ride in a car. People stare and lean out of their vehicles and yell things like "That car is sick!" at you when you pass by. It will toss you back in your seat when it accelerates to 110 with ease (in a 45 zone - nice job Steven!) and you can feel the car lower down to achieve a better grip on the road. It was incredibly impressive. My favorite reaction post-Lamborghini ride was "It's the Batmobile!" How nice it must be to have money. If only I could afford one (and the insurance to cover it).

Here is my quick review of the Gallardo:

Appearance: Wow!
General Performance: Wow!
Handling: Wow!
Acceleration: Wow!
Storage Space: What?
Fuel Consumption: Who cares?
Additional thoughts: Wow!


I assume that this vehicle was crafted by the Hand of God. How else could something this majestic this have been created?

Wow!

Hood logo.

Side view.

My "stylish" shot for the day. This is the side mirror looking back at the air intake on the passenger side.

Even the tailpipes look cool.

I believe this is the first photo of myself that has appeared here, but it won't be the last. I was reluctant in the past to post photos of myself, but, who cares. This is my brother (driver) and myself (passenger). Notice the family resemblance?

I thought this photo was pretty sweet, not just because of the lines of the car, but also the quality of the paint job. You can see a perfect reflection of myself in the the fender while taking the shot.

Life Goal: High-Speed Chase

PRELIMINARY NOTE: When reading this post, please keep this in mind - I know how to drive and I know the capabilities of myself and my vehicle. I won't do anything I'm not comfortable doing or has the possibility of causing harm to myself or others.

I have a mental list of things that I would like to do in my lifetime. I have referred to these as "life goals" (before "The Bucket List" movie existed). After the recent ordeal at O'Hare Airport in Chicago on Sunday, I am going to cross one of them off - be in a high-speed chase. The odds of myself being in a legit high-speed chase are pretty slim - neither being a police officer nor having criminal tendencies. I never really figured out what kind of scenario would place me behind the wheel being forced to keep all of my concentration on driving because everything depends on my performance. The trip to O'Hare on Sunday may be the closest I will ever come, so I am officially crossing it off of my imaginary list.

Recently (by coincidence only), I've been playing Project Gotham Racing 4 on the Xbox360, but I didn't realize that it was going to be like a warm up. Sunday, I got to live it (well, Saturday as a passenger in the Lamborghini and Sunday driving the Mustang). The last time I was in Chicago, I decided that I would rent a "cool" car to drive. When I go to Chicago, there tends to be a lot of driving involved since my brother and sister-in-law (Steven and Kim) live in a suburb in northern Chicago. I found that Hertz at the O'Hare Airport has the Ford Mustang as one of their "guaranteed" vehicles (as in you request a Mustang, you get a Mustang - not this "or similar model" bullshit with almost all of their other rentals).

I am not a "Ford person". My first car was a 1983 Fold LTD (if you guessed that the LTD stands for "limited", you'd be wrong, it actually is an acronym for "piece of shit"). After this vehicle, I vowed to never own a Ford again. The car was that bad. But, driving a Mustang for one weekend was not breaking my promise. It's a semi-sports car and I have never gotten to drive a car designed for fun and power. Plus I kind of wanted to see if Ford had made any advancements since the 1983 models. They have, but I'm still not going to buy a Ford.

The Mustang was fun to drive and has considerably more power than my 2003 Nissan Sentra, but the visibility is so poor that constant vigilance is required. Passing cars on the interstate was much more enjoyable, but (before Sunday) with all of the road construction in Chicago, there weren't many opportunities to pass, or drive very fast. But it was still fun and worth it even before the debacle. The bright spot in the day (in my opinion, probably not Megan's) was the drive from the suburb of Libertyville to O'Hare Airport. Mapquest posts the distance between the hotel and the airport as 29.25 miles with an estimated time of travel of 39 minutes (assuming the speed limit is not restricted for road construction). I would guess that with the speed limits dropped to 45 for nearly the entire route, that the trip should have taken at least 45 minutes.

Here is the Mapquest route.

Here is a crude representation of the route with the road construction marked in yellow.

Because of the construction, there were three lanes (one express lane and two regular lanes separated by cement barricades) and the barricades were also on the outsides of the lanes. There were intermittent shoulders in the express lane, but not on the regular lanes for most of the trip. When we left the hotel at 650am, I knew that we were going to be cutting it damned close in arriving at the airport. Nothing could go wrong or we would miss our flight. Our only chance to get there on time would be to do some fancy driving. Fancy driving I did (not that it ended up mattering in the end, but I didn't know how the day would turn out).

Just before getting to I-94, we hit a red light. After stopping and looking, no one was around - after a brief debate I gunned it through the intersection and sped onto the highway on-ramp not looking back. I made it into the express lane and got my speed up to the 90-95 range. This is a tight road with the construction with barriers on both sides of the lane, but I wasn't worried. Since it was still before 7am, there weren't many cars on the highway, but there were a few. Luckily, when I approached cars in the express lane, the shoulder became wide enough that I was able to squeeze the car by. That's right, I jammed on the gas and blew by cars on the shoulder of I-94. I managed to keep my speed above 70 even through the passing and kept the speedometer between 90 and 95 almost the entire way. I briefly touched off 100, but the road was just too narrow to drive any faster and not worry about slipping up and slamming into anything.

I hit the correct exit for the airport, slowed down enough to pay the toll and flew down the ramp to the rental return exit. Total time of the drive 23 minutes. Fuck yeah! That's an average speed of 76 mph. Actual speed limit for almost the entire trip - 45 mph. The city claims to have cameras up around the city to deter speeding. If, indeed, they do... I expect to get a handful of tickets - speeding, running red lights, speeding, passing on the shoulder, speeding. I hope that putting up the signs is just a method of deterring speeding and an empty threat, because otherwise... I'm totally screwed.

I have never driven like that before and the Mustang will have a special place in my heart for performing as it did. It was quite exhilarating to drive like a damned madman, but it's probably not worth it to do very often... if ever. I was too afraid to look over at Megan. I have no idea if she was scared to death that she was going to die in that Mustang, or if she was enjoying it, or if she was too upset/angry/worried about getting to the airport to really register any such feelings about the trip from the hotel to the airport. Maybe she will share her thoughts in the comments section...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Day Lost In O'Hare City

Warning! Typically, I censor myself pretty tightly when I write on this blog. Today, I'm throwing that concept aside because I kind of just feel like swearing. Anyway... consider yourself warned.

Megan and I made the trip to Chicago for Kim's (ilaxstudio) birthday celebration, which included the final part of Steven and Kim's wedding gift - a ride in a Lamborghini Gallardo (more on that in a future post). The flight out there was easy and quick (no delays), getting the rental car was smooth (a red 2008 Ford Mustang) and getting up to Steven and Kim's place was no problem. The weekend was nice and visiting with all of the family that came into town for the event was fun. The return to KC on Sunday, however, was a different story.

The alarm on my phone was set for 530 am to make our 8 am flight out of O'Hare airport, which in itself (by my estimation) would qualify as the second largest city in Illinois. Here is the approximate timeline of occurrences for the day.

530 am - The alarm goes off. I wake up and silence it.
530 and 10 seconds - Back asleep - FUCK!
645 - Megan wakes up screaming "Wake up! It's 645!" (SHIT! How did that happen?)
650 - We have packed and gotten in the car after checking out at the front desk (How we did this in 5 minutes, I have no idea).
713 - Arrive at the rental car return station 29 miles from the hotel (Fuck yeah, I'm a madman).
715 - On the bus back to the airport.
725 - In line at the check-in station outside the airport.
732 - Are informed that we were 7 minutes too late to check our bags outside (FUCK!!!) and have to go to the line inside.
745 - Get through the line inside and are informed that we were too late to get on the plane at all (FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!!!!!). We are transferred to the "standby" list for the next flight to KC.
755 - We get through security and walk the 1.2 miles to the terminal for the 950 flight.
800 - Now notice that our 8am flight to KC has been delayed until 820 (What the fuck? Why didn't they tell us the flight had been delayed - we could have made that).
805 - I rush back to the gate for the original flight... to find it uninhabited. Check with other gate employees who inform me that once the flight has been loaded and the door closed that they can't do anything. The plane is being "balanced" and fueled and that putting anyone else on the plane would upset the "balancing". My response - "that's the biggest load of horse shit I've ever heard, you just don't want to do anything you lazy sack of crap." My vocal response - "OK, thanks."
810 - Back to the gate for the 950 flight that we may or may not be able to get on to sit/stand and wait. Megan is not happy. Waiting is uncomfortable.
950 - We are informed that the flight is full and our standby status is rolled over to the next flight to KC at 1220, but our bags went out with the 950 flight.
1000 - I decide that we could try to fly to another city if we could get guaranteed seats, then we could rent a car and drive back. We find there is a flight to Wichita at 11am.
1020 - After racing the 2 miles to the gate for that flight. Where they stare at me like I'm from another planet and tell me to go call the airline's ticketing number.
1030 - The airline ticketing number tells me that they can't do that over the phone and I'd have to go back to the ticketing counter, outside security.
1045 - Back in line at the ticket counter.
1105 - Are informed that we can transfer our tickets to Wichita for the difference in price plus a transfer fee. The grand total for this transfer including the credit for our current flight- $1,000. Thats one fucking thousand dollars. We consider driving to KC from Chicago (7 hours).
1115 - The employee behind the counter takes pity on us and for a $100 fee, she gets us guaranteed seats on the overbooked 1220pm which is now the 105pm flight. How she did this, I do not know. She claimed that she is not supposed to do this, but was willing. We thank her profusely and ask her if she is allowed to accept tips. She refuses. More thanking, then we head back through security.
1145 - We finish lunch inside O'Hare City, then see that the 105 flight is now the 145 flight to KC (seriously?!?)
100 - Waiting is still uncomfortable. Megan is still unhappy, I have resigned myself to reading to pass the time. Two Arab women claim the empty seats around us for themselves and their twenty poorly behaved children in the age range of two to five.
102 - Megan has had enough and finds another location to wait.
130 - Flight is delayed another 10 minutes - now 155pm.
150 - Plane has still not arrived at the hangar despite the expected departure time in five minutes.
155 - Plane arrives and begins unloading.
220 - We have boarded and leave Chicago.
330 - We land in KC to actual applause from the passengers.
335 - Manage to find our bags, which have not been lost or stolen despite arriving in KC 3-4 hours ahead of us.
415 - Drop Megan off at her place.
500 - Arrive back at my place.
545 - Eat some leftover pasta from Thursday night.
730 - Pass out on couch watching television.

Yes, I was well aware that the mistake was mine and I bore the responsibility of correcting it. I did. We made it back to KC in one piece out only time and a little money. I did get to catch up a little on exercise though, walking eight to nine miles inside of the airport pretty much took care of that. And I read half of a book. Megan is no longer unhappy, so I guess everything worked out. But crap, what an ordeal. There was one more thing that I will write about tomorrow... I kind of (in some way) fulfilled a "life goal" in the process of the ordeal. But more on that tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: The Sprint Center

Kansas City has been without an NBA or NHL team for decades. One of the reasons for that has been the lack of a large enough arena to make the revenue streams attractive. Finally, after the city decided the mostly dead downtown Kansas City was in need of rejuvenation, The Sprint Center was commissioned. The concept of the "if you build it, they will come" mentality would surely result in a professional team being lured to a new home. As of last year, after all of the preparation, the decision of the location, the design of the structure, the securing of funds, the construction, the finishing touches and, as of last year, the opening of Kansas City's glorious new arena... no team has taken the bait. Instead of just having a brand-new, state-of-the-art venue sitting vacant, The Sprint Center is used for concerts and the crappy Arena League Football team, the Kansas City Brigade (which I believe went 2-6 this season, but no one ever talks about them, so I'm not entirely sure they even exist).

Vagrants and police officers were once about the only movement on the streets at night in downtown KC ten years ago. With the rejuvenation project now mostly complete, people live downtown again in "lofts" and there are trendy restaurants and second floor bowling alley/martini bars and open air concert venues. That's right, the homeless people have all been replaced by yuppies and douchebags. Improvement? I'm not necessarily sure. Instead of having to defend yourself from beggars, you just want to beat the morons wearing their polo shirts with the "popped" collars and sideways visors. In effect it's just replacing a defensively violent mindset... with offensively violent thoughts.

Anyway... My old route into work would take me right by the construction site for the arena, so I got to watch the progress. Two years later (a year after opening) my first opportunity to see The Sprint Center from the inside presented itself. The event was my Valentine's Day gift to Megan - tickets to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (review of the concert is on the way). From outside, the arena is quite striking. The 360 degree glass-covered structure looks as though a UFO landed smack dab in the middle of downtown. We arrived at 730, the time the concert was supposed to have started... but thousands of people were lined up outside. When they finally started letting people in, the lines barely moved. Twenty minutes later, as we approached the doors, we realize that it is because they have metal detectors installed at each door, so everyone has to empty their pockets and pass through one at a time. I guess it makes things safer (theoretically), but what the hell? I just want to get in the place quickly, get something to drink and find my seat before the event is supposed to start.

The concourses are nice and wide, and there are plenty of concession stands. The appearance is quite pleasant, falling somewhere between an indoor mall and say the airport. Not that either of those choices are considered to be "pleasant", or "comfortable". You're not really going to be living here, it's not supposed to be that inviting. It is somewhat difficult to figure out how to get up to the upper tier, so Megan and I end up walking half way around the arena before we come across the 50 story high (only a slight embellishment), open air escalator into oblivion. Have I mentioned that I don't like heights? The 62-minute slow assent into the clouds was particularly unpleasant for me, as my knuckles were turning white after we approached the altitude of the moon, but most people didn't seem to mind (we took the stairs down, thankfully). The balcony level, is extremely steep and made me feel a little unstable when descending the stairs to our row, but the seats were quite comfortable even being somewhat narrow.

We were seated about as far away from the stage as possible, but the acoustics were quite great. The crowd noise was impressively loud and should create a real home-team advantage for whomever chooses to claim the center. The biggest drawback I noticed was the lack of preparedness of the concession stands. By the mid-point of the concert, the stand nearest my location was out of just about everything. The concert was sold out, they should anticipate that those people are going to want to eat and drink while they are there. Hopefully, they are still working out the kinks as to how simple things like that will function more efficiently.

All in all, The Sprint Center looks and feels like it would be a fantastic venue for sporting events, but smaller arenas or outdoor locales seem to be more enjoyable settings for concerts, in my opinion. They have already announced a pre-season NHL game between St. Louis and LA to be hosted by KC (probably an audition for the NHL management in choosing potential expansion cities) for this September. I have purchased tickets to show my support. Thankfully, I managed to acquire seats in the lower deck... no escalator!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Meme Via Mo

I am just blatantly ripping this off from Megan, but I'll put a slightly different twist onto it. So, it's exactly the same, but totally different. According to Megan (if you can trust her as a source), this is the list of Entertainment Weekly's top 100 movies of the last 25 years. As she has done, I have placed the films I have seen in bold font, but I have given a rating for each film of one to five stars based on my personal taste as opposed to her marking of the movies she liked. Yup, I'm claiming that I've made it totally different based on that minor modification.

I am particularly happy that Pulp Fiction was chosen as the #1 film since it was one of the few movies that I considered to have changed my life (along with The Rock - I wouldn't be a biochemist if it weren't for Nicolas Cage's Stanley Goodspeed).

Feel free to give me loads of crap for my poor ratings of Moulin Rouge, Jerry Maguire and The Unforgiven (three of the most liked movies of the last 15 years that I have little to no appreciation for) or for the fact that I haven't seen Goodfellas, Scarface or Dazed and Confused (three of the most talked about movies of my generation).

NOTE: This is a rare occasion because I can say that I have seen nearly (67 to her 78) as many films from a list compared to Megan. I believe that the only list I can claim superiority would be the list of DVDs... I currently own. Ha! That's right, Moflo, let's see who's seen more of those movies (watch, I'll publish a list and still somehow manage to lose).

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)*****
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)*****
3. Titanic (1997)**
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)***
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)**
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)****
9. Die Hard (1988)****
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)*
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
12. The Matrix (1999)*****
13. GoodFellas (1990)
14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)*
16. Boogie Nights (1997)*
17. Jerry Maguire (1996)*
18. Do the Right Thing (1989)**
19. Casino Royale (2006)****
20. The Lion King (1994)***
21. Schindler's List (1993)***
22. Rushmore (1998)***
23. Memento (2001)****
24. A Room With a View (1986)
25. Shrek (2001)**
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)**
27. Aliens (1986)***
28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)**
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)**
31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)***
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)****
34. Fargo (1996)***
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)**
37. Pretty Woman (1990)**
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
39. The Sixth Sense (1999)***
40. Speed (1994)***
41. Dazed and Confused (1993)
42. Clueless (1995)**
43. Gladiator (2000)***
44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988)**
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997)***
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)*
50. The Piano (1993)*
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)***
53. The Truman Show (1998)**
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)*
55. Risky Business (1983)**
56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)**
58. Ghostbusters (1984)***
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)***
60. Scream (1996)**
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)***
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
63. Big (1988)**
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)****
65. Dirty Dancing (1987)*
66. Natural Born Killers (1994)*
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)**
68. Witness (1985)***
69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987)
71. Unforgiven (1992)*
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999)****
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985)
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)**
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)**
82. Lost in Translation (2003)**
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)**
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)***
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)****
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)***
91. Back to the Future (1985)***
92. Menace II Society (1993)**
93. Ed Wood (1994)**
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)*
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)**
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)*
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)***

Preparation For The Flood

Apparently, I have taken a week off from blogging. There has been so much to do at work (where I end up doing most of my blogging) and my evenings and weekends have been pretty booked up (not complaining). I keep coming up with ideas for blog posts, but then just never write anything. Well, that's about to change. Beginning right now and extending into the weekend (or further), new content will be appearing staggering quantities.

Up first, a movie meme via Megan, followed by reviews of recent activities ranging from baseball to movies to concerts to... the DMV! I'm sure everyone will be looking forward to a review of the DMV. I've been pretty busy, so there is plenty of material to work with.

Note: The term 'staggering quantities' is relative to the last two months, so anything more than about three posts in a week would be considered staggering.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post All-Star Game

Finally, after 15 innings, the All-Star Game has come to a close. The AL scored the winning run on a very close play at the plate after several exciting near ends to the game. Honestly, I think the home plate ump just wanted the game to be over and he intended on calling Morneau safe no matter what happened.

Typically, I hold an All-Star Game party ever year and have a group of friends come over, eat snack food, pizza and brownies throughout the entire game and make fun of the announcing duo of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Now that I'm in a different city it was time to start a new tradition - a unique tradition that I would have to guess there were very, very few people in the entire world that can say they did this. The beautiful and ingenious, Ms. Florance, came up with a way to combine three of America's favorite past times - drinking, swimming and baseball. That's right, we pulled a TV out onto the patio, consumed a few tasty beverages (woah, woah, we're not alcoholics, we had like two drinks during the course of the game) and watched the game while chillin' in the pool. Hell yeah! Seriously... the perfect woman!

Here's the recap of how I fared on my predictions:
Final Score: AL 9, NL 4 - the AL did win, although the final was less lopsided.
MVP: Hamilton - he did go 1-3 with a stolen base, but didn't factor into any of the runs. JD Drew deserved the award with the 2-run homer, stolen base and getting on base in extra innings three times.
Win/Loss: E. Santana/Sheets - I didn't really expect the game to go 15 innings, so I was way off on this one.
Bold Prediction #1: - Joakim "The Mexicutioner" Soria would appear in the game - This may not have seemed very "bold", but Royals players have a tendency to not make appearances in All-Star games. The east coast bias tends to leave the KC players on the bench, no matter how good they are, but since the game went to extra innings, Soria did get to pitch. Unfortunately, McCarver and Buck blah blahed all over his impressive knee-buckling strikeouts and general nastiness. He didn't have his best appearance, but he didn't give up any runs and he got out of a couple tight spot. Could a better nickname than The Mexicutioner even exist?
Bold Prediction #2: - McCarver bursts into flames - I didn't witness this happen during the game, but I'm sure it was on a time delay because of the live event, so I'm sure FOX would have covered it up if it did. I'm going to assume that it did happen, there isn't any evidence otherwise, so I'll call it good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pre-All Star Game

As following a long standing tradition, I will make my annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game prediction. Since this is the first year that I have operated a blog, I will make my prediction available to the entire free world (or the eight people that will read this).

Final Score - American League 9, National League 4
MVP - Josh Hamilton (everything else good happens to this guy now, he's a shoo-in - I think he sold his soul to the devil)
Win/Loss - Ervin Santana will receive the win and the loss will go to Ben Sheets
Bold Prediction #1 - Royals representative, Joakim Soria, WILL appear in the game
Bold Prediction #2 - Tim McCarver will say something so inane and ridiculous, that he will spontaneously burst into flames on live television.

I know that my second prediction is rather... out there. I can hope, right?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

HD-DVD Offer

I purchased an HD-DVD attachment for my Xbox360 late last year. Yes, I know the format is now defunct, and new movies are not going to be released for it. But, the player was cheap and it came with Season 1 of Heroes and a five free movie rebate deal. In my defense, I did purchase the player before Blu-Ray won the format war. The way the rebate offer played out was pretty amusing. At the end of February, I sent in my selections for my free movies. They gave three choices for each of the five slots and these films were what I considered to be the best of each category:

The Italian Job
Pitch Black
Swordfish
The Frighteners
Darkman

About a month after I sent in the offer, they sent it back with some problem and asked me to re-fill out the form. I did so and returned it. They arrived on Saturday with a note saying "some of the movies you requested were no longer available" and they hoped that their alternates (that were not even on the original list) were acceptable. Here were movies I received:

Backdraft
Knocked Up
Blood Diamond
Bourne Identity
Transformers

You might have noticed that none of the movies I requested were actually received. Realistically, I am happier with the random HD-DVDs they sent me than the ones they allowed me to choose from. Why did they even allow me to "choose" if they didn't even send me one film from my list? Also, why did it take five months to put those movies into a container to ship? Anyway, maybe now I'll be motivated to plug the HD-DVD player into the 360. It's just been sitting there for months.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunburn Is A Bitch

When I showed up at Megan's place on the Fourth, the first question I hear is "Why aren't you wearing red, white and blue?" Crap, why didn't I think of that when I got up in the morning? "I guess I'm just not that patriotic" was my response (Honestly, I just didn't think about expressing my patriotism through my clothing. I thought that was always done by how much shit I chose to blow up after dark). I could have driven back to my place and changed or bought a different shirt from the mall that is a mere three blocks from Megan's place - but being the resourceful problem solver that I am, I decided to make up for my faux pas by somewhat unconventional methods. I had blue and white in the shirt I was wearing... so I was just missing the red. I chose to spend the entire afternoon out in Megan's above ground pool to change my skin to a bright shade of red... which officially completed the color trio. Bam! Problem solved!

It has been years since the area the common t-shirt typically covers has been exposed to the sun, so this has become quite the ordeal, even now, three days out from the inception. Raising my arms above my head, putting on a shirt and carrying my laptop bag, are all things that I have to now consciously consider before just doing them. It's mostly just a nuisance and it is improving, but if I don't gripe about it now... it will be too late. I couldn't possibly miss my window of opportunity to bitch about something, could I?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Blackout

Last night, I arrived back at my apartment building to find that the thunderstorm had knocked out the power. The entire building was dark from outside, so I knew before I got inside that things would be somewhat interesting. I pulled into the parking garage, which was pitch black, and found a parking spot and carefully walked into the building. The elevators would surely be off, so I took the stairs. The emergency lights were on to light the stairwell... until I reached the 4th floor.

I consider myself to be resourceful, so I quickly whipped out my cell phone and used the backlight to illuminate my path. When I got to my floor, I again used my phone to find the proper key and went inside. Normally, my routine would be to change clothes, plop down on the couch, watch Pardon the Interruption (my favorite sports commentary show with hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon), fool around on the internet (checking sports scores and whatnot), then play an Xbox360 game until it's time to turn in. With no power, my usual routine was completely shot.

I found my stash of candles buried in a closet (with the use of the handy cell phone) and lit them with my torch lighter - which I normally don't carry, but have recently been, so it really came in handy (otherwise I would have been out of luck because I don't think I would have had any way to light them - no matches, maybe the gas stove would have worked... but I didn't need to try that). Then came the shocking part... I sat down and started reading a book. WTF? And not the Jon Hodgman book, or anything published by The Onion... but a real book - a Pulitzer Prize winning novel even - Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which was lent to me by the lovely Ms. Florance. I'm sure that I will post a review of some kind when I finish it next year. Ha! It's just too easy to watch television than to sit and read. I just try to make reading into a habit. The book is rather interesting so far, so I am sure that I'll work through this book on occasions other than blackouts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If Only...

This is an excerpt of a conversation between Megan's brother and his daughter, Lillian, from two weekends ago. I found the question to be absolutely hysterical... and the answer to be adorable. Lillian (the most adorable two year old little girl) had only moments ago, tipped over in a chair on the patio. She was probably just startled and scared, but was screaming. She had been rushed into the house and into the arms of her parents. After they had determined that she was going to be fine... this was the end of the conversation:

"Would some sort of frozen confection or cookie help to ease the pain?"
Lillian's tiny wavering voice barely cut through the tears "yes."

Once the frosted sugar cookie was in hand, everything was fine.

I am reminded of a time that I was playing basketball as an undergraduate and I had jumped up (the term "jump" is used loosely) for a rebound and I came down onto another player's foot. My foot folded to the side and my ankle actually touched the gym floor - in other words... I rolled my ankle. I remember the intense immediate pain and trying to "walk it off", which I did and continued playing. If only I would have had someone there to offer me a cookie and have the pain alleviated immediately. Maybe we should all carry cookies or some sort of frozen confection with us at all times.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Aviles

The Royals have had problems getting production from the shortstop position in almost every season that I can remember (the exception being the 2003 season when Angel Berroa won the Rookie of the Year award). This season was beginning to look like the trend would continue with the horrid offensive performance turned in by Tony Pena, Jr., or TPJ as the KC announce team refers to him. The team manager Trey Hillman claimed that he was leaving TPJ in the position because of his defensive abilities and that his plate performance would come around. It did not.

Pena was hitting in the number nine spot in the lineup and hitting .157, which would qualify him as one of the worst hitters in baseball... possibly across the history of the major league baseball system. He doesn't draw walks and is physically incapable of successfully laying down a bunt. So, he doesn't get hits, he doesn't get on base and he can't help move runners up or manage productive outs. In other words - he's completely useless at the plate. But he is capable of fielding his position. Big fucking deal.

Finally, a change was made and Mike Aviles was brought up from Omaha a couple weeks ago. Aviles had been playing well in the minors this season and his performance now at the major league level has not dropped off. Now they have options. There isn't a guaranteed out in the lineup. What a difference that has made. In the Pena Jr. era, KC was scoring 3.6 runs per game. Since Aviles has take over the spot the Royals are scoring 5.4 runs per game. Aviles gets on base, he drives in runs, he moves runners up, he doesn't strike out as often and the real kicker - his fielding percentage has actually been better than Pena's on the season. Bye bye Pena, I hope I never see you again.

As always, here are some statistics to show the overall team performance increase since making the change, as well as the stats proving that Aviles in 18 games has surpassed the stats accumulated in Pena's 60 games this season.

In the pre-Aviles era, the Royals record is 23-37. Since Aviles began getting regular playing time in the Royals lineup on June 6th, KC is 11-6.

Mike Aviles - 68 AtBats, 23 Hits (13 extra base hits), 14 Runs, 13 RBI, 2 Walks, 2 Steals, 9 Strikeouts, .338 Batting Average, .632 Slugging Percentage

Tony Pena Jr. - 166 AtBats, 26 Hits (5 extra base hits), 14 Runs, 7 RBI, 5 Walks, 3 Steals, 35 Strikeouts, .157 Batting Average, .193 Slugging Percentage

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ahhh, The Onion...

This is story on The Onion's website meant to be funny... but this product will probably exist not too far into the future. Worthy of note is the crawl across the bottom of the screen - one story that passes reads: "Shasta Soda Company unveils 'new look, same fucking disgusting taste' ad campaign." Fantastic! Ahhh, The Onion. It's always entertaining.


New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less



One additional article of note (a real article... not from The Onion) can be found here. I always considered myself "evolutionarily evolved" compared to most of the people I have encountered... but I didn't know that it was actually because of my constant use of sarcasm. Check it out, it's been examined in a seemingly scientific manner!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Progress?

My goals for the week (here) may have been... a little on the ambitious side. With Thursday now in the books, the mid-point for the week has passed and I've barely scratched the surface. I have advanced one, possibly two of the projects at work, but the third is, shall we say, lagging behind. I haven't even touched my lab notebook, which was goal numero uno.

Including this post, I will have managed to put something on the blog on three of the four days of the week, but not quite what I had wanted. I am officially caught up on Lost, but Battlestar will have to wait for a while. Progress has been made (from 70% to start the week to 85% now) on the Lego: Indiana Jones game, but finishing it this week is a long shot at best.

With a busy weekend planned, I think the most reasonable thing to do is to just push the date for completion back to the end of the month. If I'm doing that, I will add - clean my apartment, get my car title/registration/driver's license bullshit taken care of and get some damn exercise onto that list. Blah, there's just so much work to do (at work) and I don't want to do any of it. Then that spills into the outside of work life. It may be time for some form of a vacation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Por Favor

Whomever is using the landing between the third and fourth floors as a restroom - please stop.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Listen... Do You Smell Something?

It is so freaking quiet. Today is the first day of being alone in the laboratory for the week. When I took this post doc job in Feb of 2007, there were two other post docs and two graduate students (and myself) sharing two large labs. The other post docs moved on last fall and one of the graduate students (Tim, who will be spoken of in a post that will appear later in the week) completed his stay at the end of last week. No one has replaced these scientists, so the roster now just includes myself and one graduate student. This week however, my other colleague is out of town, which leaves me with just my own thoughts to keep me company during the work day.

I will attempt to use the quiet time to my advantage and call this a "catch up" week. I have become neglectful in several different aspects recently and I think that it's time to make up for it. The two areas that I have slacked on recently are my laboratory notebook (in dire need of attention) and this blog (as evidenced by the lack of new material the last few weeks). So, I'm going to set a few goals in "print" that I will attempt to make good on and anyone that reads this should feel free to pester the hell out of me to keep me on task.

Goals for the week:
1) Catch my lab book up to the current date
2) Make significant progress on all three projects I am working on in the lab
3) Post on this blog every day this week (or more frequently if time permits)
4) Catch up to the current episodes of Lost and Battlestar Galactica
5) Complete the Lego Indiana Jones Xbox 36o game

Yes I realize that two of those goals are totally lame (the work related ones of course), but they all need to be done! Luckily for me, by simply writing this, I am helping to fulfill one of my weekly goals. Progress!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hypermiling = Bullshit And Other Driving Related Matters

I happened to catch a story about saving gas money based on a "new technique" for driving called "Hypermiling" on Yahoo! News last week. I must admit, this is the most bullshit method for driving a car that I have ever even seen be considered. I have two reasons why this is not even worthy of being attempted. The first is that the technique would only be remotely effective for hybrid vehicles and would actually hurt the average fuel mileage for any non-hybrid vehicle. This is never mentioned in the story and now many people will see this and think "it works for that guy, so it will work for me." Wrong. My second point is this - if I see people driving like this, I would want to kill them. There are already enough bad drivers on the road at any given time - now let's tell these bad drivers to drive extremely slowly on the interstates... people are going to get killed and it's because of crap like this. If you want to drive under the speed limit and inconvenience every one else on the road to save a couple nickels, then you deserve whatever horrible flaming death from within the confines of your snobby vehicle you will most definitely receive.

Here is my assessment of the current condition of the drivers in the areas of my expertise (KC/Des Moines/St. Louis). I would give the estimate that seventy percent of the people driving should likely be stripped of their licenses. Another twenty percent of drivers are "questionably decent" drivers. Possibly seven percent of the drivers are "acceptable". And that leaves three percent that would be considered "good" or better. "Hypermiling" will only force an even further degradation in the quality of traveling.

In an attempt to improve the conditions on the road, here are some simple rules to follow. Realistically, there are only two rules that must be followed at all times and these rules are of the utmost importance. What I'm trying to say is that these rules are important.

Rule Number 1: Get the fuck out of my way.
Rule Number 2: Always obey rule number 1.

To continue this rambling rant, here are the most annoying driving habits that I witness on a continuous basis:
1. Driving in the passing lane but not passing anyone - if you are not passing someone, get out of the passing lane. If you aren't driving more than five miles an hour faster than the car you are passing, either speed up and finish passing and get out of the way, or slow down and get out of the passing lane. In either case, get the hell out of the passing lane.
2. Not using turn signals at appropriate times - they are installed on cars for a reason, use them. If you're sitting at a stop light and the light turns green, then you turn your signal on, it is way, way too late. The drivers behind you have every right to run over you.

All in all, it all boils down to courtesy, which is highly lacking in today's society. Any one that believes that they are more important than anyone else out there is causing a problem. Pay attention to the vehicles around you, you are not alone out there.

In itself, speeding should not be a ticketable offense. When coupled with another infraction (no lights, no turn signals, whatever), fine, write speeding tickets. Having speed traps up just causes people to be worried and tense and causes more problems. Ticket writing is just a scam for the city/county/state to make more money. Now with gas prices being higher, the prices of tickets have to increase so they can justify having the patrols on the street. The city isn't safer because some douche wrote five hundred tickets in one day on a heavily traveled commuter pathway. Why does the gas station down the street get robbed every other day? Can't the city hire policemen instead of ticket writers (they aren't even real cops in KC - it's a freaking business scam). Look, I am personally comfortable driving a speeds higher than the posted "limits" and I can safely handle my car at a high velocity. Any one that isn't comfortable driving at interstate speeds should not be on the road, period. Speed limit signs are just guidelines - they should more accurately be called speed minimums. No one should ever drop below the speed limit unless traffic is too heavy to accommodate the speed. If the road is clear and dry - for the love of God, drive the speed limit.

Finally, elderly, retired persons need not ever be on the road during the rush hour period. You have all day to do whatever it is that you need to do. Why add to the chaos of rush hour when it is not necessary?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So. Freaking. Busy.

Work is driving me crazy. There is too much to do and no time to write. I did manage to find a few minutes here and there and even started a few different posts, but haven't had enough time to complete anything. I feel obligated to put something out, so this is what happens - another boring blah blah blah, I'm busy excuse post gets placed on the blog until further notice. I'd say that something will get posted on the weekend, but I'll be helping a friend move into the world's darkest place (for an Iowa Stater, but more on that later). With multiple posts sitting in the wings, just waiting (festering) for a polishing touch. My prediction is that there will be a flood of posts next week. Maybe I will find a little time tomorrow. Until then... blah blah blah.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happyface

I pulled another old CD out of my trusty carrying case last weekend to make a copy for one of Megan's friends. After this, it seems to have found it's way into my car CD player and has yet to be removed. The album is Rubberneck by The Toadies from back in my high school days (Released in 1994). One of the songs, "Happyface" brought back an interesting memory. I remember laying awake, my plans for a peaceful night's sleep dashed by the obnoxious sound of a cricket chirping from somewhere in my bedroom. I remember looking for it for a while on separate days trying to figure out where it was hiding but to no avail. Eventually, I would end up trying to just ignore it and covering my head with a pillow to try to drown out its incessant racket.

Finally, one night it was quiet enough that I was able to pinpoint where the little bastard was (inside of a shoe) and took care of the problem. In that moment, The Toadies song "Happyface" seemed completely appropriate... so I broke out the album and listened to it right then. I'm sure that the song wasn't written about a cricket, but it seemed perfect for this occasion. For anyone curious, here are the lyrics:

I try to wish you away
I'll do more than wishin' someday
No no no more son of a bitch
No no no more wishin'
No no no more son of a bitch
No more happyface!

You and I have nothin' more to say
We'll do more than talkin' someday
No no no more son of a bitch
No no no more talkin'
No no no more son of a bitch
No more happyface!

No no no more son of a bitch
No no no more talkin'
No no no more son of a bitch
No more happyface

If I
could find
the will
to KILL!
Here we go again

No no no more son of a bitch
No no no no more son of a bitch
No no no more son of a bitch
No more happy face

If I
Could find
the will
to KILL
Well, I'll kill you son of a bitch!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Four Day Weekend

Thanks to Justin and Cathy's wedding in St. Louis on Friday and Memorial Day... I got a four day weekend! Although, there was enough going on during those four days that I didn't necessarily feel refreshed afterwards. There were the eight to nine hours of driving associated with the wedding trip, just to come back in time to give Megan a hand with the barbecue she hosted on Saturday night. Megan did a fantastic job hosting the event and everyone that attended seemed to have a marvelous time. Sunday was barbecue number two for the weekend over at Megan's parents' home. I must admit, it is a real treat to spend time with Megan's parents. Typically, dinner with a significant other's parents (who are potentially future in-laws) can be stressful and tiring... but her family is fantastic - and I actually look forward to going over to their home. I have only been there a few times, but the visits have always been filled with good food and witty conversation. Then, Monday was my third barbecue in three days - this one was at my parents' home. Again, good food and witty conversation always makes for an enjoyable time.

Even though there were three different barbecues over the weekend, all had completely different menus and all were entertaining. All-in-all, it was an event filled weekend... but not terribly relaxing. Actually, there won't be a free weekend in the near future (family coming in to town this weekend and helping a co-worker move the following weekend), so I'd better get some relaxing done during the week... yeah right. Who needs relaxation?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Live on Location: St. Louis

Well, I'm in a city where I have had exactly zero fond memories. So what would bring me back to the godforsaken city of St. Louis, MO? My good friend, Justin (whom I worked with and spoke to nearly every day for more than three years at Iowa State in graduate school, and who slaughtered me on a regular basis on the racquetball court) and his beautiful fiancee, Cathy, had invited me to attend their wedding ceremony. How could I refuse?

Here's my quick review of the night - The wedding ceremony itself was very well done (and thankfully, not the full service including mass despite the setting in a Catholic church - it's not that I dislike the traditional Catholic service, I find it be exclusionary to non-Catholics and that defeats the purpose of gathering friends and family that may have differing viewpoints on religion). The reception blended a rare mix of surprisingly good food (I have been extremely disappointed with many, many weddings in the past so I tend to not expect much) entertaining conversation with old friends (Nate, Andrew, Mandy and Desi) and, of course, the open bar.

All in all it was a very nice night and I am glad that I made the trip. Congratulations Justin and Cathy and I wish you the best of luck in beginning your life together!

Mysteriously Absent

Many people have asked about the sudden disappearance of Megan's blog. I would like to reassure everyone that Megan does, in fact, still exist and she is still passionate (and often quite angry) about the events occurring in the world. However, with all of the work during the semester, the conferences and keeping up the blog, she has become somewhat burned out on writing. A somewhat "rash decision" (her words) led her to pull the blog, effectively erasing it from existence. I am sure that the world has not seen the last of "Megan's Blog About Flowers And Bunnies", but for now, it is officially on hiatus. I may force her to guest write for me on this site if I become neglectful... you know - like this week. Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Cure

For those of you that know my musical taste, you might think that The Cure would be a somewhat odd band for me to see live in concert. For those of you that don't know, my limited concert going experiences include headliners such as Metallica, Korn, Staind and Tool. Actually that encompasses the entirety of the list of concerts that I have attended. However, The Cure happens to be one of the lovely Ms. Florance's favorite bands, so I was more than happy to oblige by picking up tickets to the event.

I only know a handful of The Cure's songs, so I didn't really know what to expect during the course of an entire concert. Additionally, I had never heard any of their music performed live (in person, or on CD) but, I have absolute faith in Megan's choice of music because she has yet to lead me down a path I have not enjoyed. I wasn't worried. Since Megan considered seeing The Cure perform to be one of her "life goals", I was extremely not worried.

I can safely say that Megan and I were the best dressed couple in the entire place. Megan donned a very sleek and sexy, little black dress and I was clad entirely in black as well (black shirt, slacks and shoes) - we were quite "vampiric" in appearance... and we looked damned good. Well, I looked acceptable, but Megan was a knockout - as usual. And the weather was absolutely perfect - warm enough that Megan wasn't freezing in her dress, but cool enough that I wasn't sweating in my attire. It could not have been more perfect.

The set was simple, the lighting was non-distracting, the mixing was done tastefully, which was not too overpoweringly loud (even with understandable vocals!) but strong enough that the audience still feels the drum and bass lines. The focus was entirely on the band and the music. The crowd was loud and responsive and stayed standing for the entire event. Although we paid for seating in the amphitheater, we never touched a seat during the entire concert. I must admit, The Cure rocked as hard as any of the bands I have seen perform.

I enjoyed the entire concert, start to finish, but to make my evening complete, Megan just happened to have made this statement: "It was one of the best nights of my entire life." I could have been run over by a truck after hearing that and the night still would have been considered successful. I am just glad to have been part of it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Long Night

It's been a long night and I am still not particularly tired. When I'm trying to relax, I have to either empty the contents of my head somehow or try to fill my head with something light and humorous. Tonight, I dipped back into the John Hodgman book The Areas of My Expertise and came across a passage that hit very close to home. In the section "Our 51 United States", Hodgman lists "facts" about each state. The entry on the state of my residence was amusing but quite accurate.

DISCLAIMER: As a little background information on this book, here is an excerpt from the cover: "In the great tradition of the American Almanac, The Areas of My Expertise is a brilliant and hilarious compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom on all topics large and small. Although bestsellers such as Poor Richard's Almanack and The Book of Lists were certainly valuable, they also were largely true. Here is a different kind of handy desk reference, one in which all of the historical oddities and amazing true facts are sifted through the singular, illuminating imagination of John Hodgman-which is the nice way of saying: He made it all up."

Missouri
Nicknames: The Show-Me State, The Prove-It State, The Demonstrate-Your-God-Damned-Thesis State
Motto: "We demand that it be revealed immediately."
Notes: Most experts agree that everything is up-to-date in Kansas City, Mo. With its seven-story skyscrapers, full telephone service, burlesque theaters, and multiple gas buggies, it has gone about as far as it can go. No further progress will be undertaken.

-John Hodgman, from The Areas of My Expertise

Hodgman pretty much hit the nail on the head, whether or not he actually knows anything about Kansas City. The city is truly at a point that it will either be forced to redevelop itself or it will perish. KC needs a revolution, but apparently they plan to do so despite making steep cuts to the City Planning and Development Department (see 2008-9 budget here). All I can really say is good luck in that KC.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Frustration

What do I write about? I don't know. I'd like to talk about the Royals showing improvement, but each time I have done that... they've fallen back into the suckfest that has been their recent past. I'd talk about politics, but that is completely stagnated. There's nothing really "new" to add to my previous entries (here, and here) - the Democrats are still fighting each other and McCain is still sitting around on his increasing political bank account. I could tell humorous stories about the last weekend, but Megan made a fantastic version of the weekend events and I can't compete with that. I will,however, add my congrats to Tim... or should I say, Dr. Tim, for the celebration of his accomplishment Saturday.

I guess that this "non-post" will have to suffice until I am able to complete the next entry in the "Profiles..." series. Next up in that series is the somewhat slow, but secretly violent, Benny. Creativity will return when the frustration subsides... I hope.