Monday, June 23, 2008


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


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.