This name is difficult for some people to make possessive (and by "some people" I mean "retards who don't know how to make names possessive.")
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by morons.
- Yesterday going into the El Paso County (CO) Courthouse a recorded voice said, “Before proceeding through security remove ALL ITEMS from your pockets, INCLUDING plastic and paper items. Once ALL ITEMS are removed from your pockets, THEN proceed through security.” The recording said the stressed words slowly and loudly, obviously because the instructions were too complex for most people with court dates. I realized while I was in line that in modern America the biggest gathering place for white trash people outside of the trailer park is the courthouse. When I worked at the garage door factory our orientation included instructions on how to take time off for your court date and how to avoid having an ex-spouse come harass you at work. No place else I’ve worked has needed to train me on such things. Back in the courthouse line, I saw a very skinny nicely dressed woman and I thought, “She’s here because of her meth addiction.”
- Sitting next to me on my flight from Denver to Kansas City was a man who put in a wad of chewing tobacco and then spat in an empty water bottle for the rest of the flight. Why does anyone think you can chew tobacco anywhere but outdoors? Not just outdoors, but away from civilization. Being on a sidewalk is not good enough; you have to be on a ranch or in a national forest. I was at an orientation meeting at KU where a kid was chewing and spitting in an empty water bottle, which I guess is the thing to do for modern tobacco chewers. And chewing tobacco stinks almost worst than coffee. (I said “almost,” coffee drinkers.)
- The fly-by-night shuttle company that my work had drive me to and from the airport has one employee who knows what’s going on, and then an endless supply of clueless ones. The one, Heather, is informative and helpful when I get her on the phone. She said she would call me when the drive was nearing the airport. An hour later a different lady called and said, “Your driver has been waiting for you at the baggage claim area with a sign with your name on it.” Why would I still be at baggage claim an hour after getting my bag? Then I got in the van (this one at least had corporate markings, but they were of a different company) and the driver said, “Your credit card is invalid.” I said, “It was valid for my trip to the airport earlier this week.” And it's not my credit card.
Now for a product endorsement: go to a store and find their candy aisle, then find the Reese’s Whipps bars, then buy all of them and eat them. Return to store and repeat. The world’s most fantastic candy in bar form.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I had three meetings this morning. The first two went well, and the third one nearly exploded my head with the sheer idiocy of the people in the meeting. But the good news is: I got five more counties today.
Since the sun had been out for three straight days, I went through Chama, over Cumbres Pass and La Manga Pass. They weren't too bad, and nearly no one else was on the road, so it was relatively easy. I went over Cumbres Pass just as the sun was setting, so I was through both of them before it was too dark. And I got Archuleta County, Colorado. Then, when I got to Alamosa, I decided to keep going north instead of heading over to the interstate. I got Saguache County (where I peed on the side of the road in eight-degree weather) and Chaffee County, then I went a little further and got Lake County before turning around and heading east. When I got back into Buena Vista, Colorado, I stopped at Subway to get some food, since I had only eaten a buffet breakfast at my hotel and then an orange in the parking lot of an Indian nation's government building. The sign on Subway's door said they were open until nine, and I got there at 8:30. The door was locked and the two employees inside waved me away. When I looked at my watch, they laughed. So I headed east, through Park County, and got to Colorado Springs at 10. I ate at Denny's, got a tasty new candy bar at a 7-11 (it's a Reese's bar with whipped peanut buttery filling), then sat in the hot tub and pool for a little bit. That was my day.
Now that I'm at the hotel and on the Internet, I see that Justin told me it was a good idea to not go over the mountain passes. Luckily, nothing bad happened to me today. In northern Chaffee County there is a sign warning of bighorn sheep in the road. I was hoping to see one, since I had already seen a deer in Huerfano County and those two elk in Taos County, but I saw nothing.
So now for the important part: the five new counties today raises the total for this trip to 16, the total for my year to 198, and the total for my life to 934. My Colorado total is now 43 of 64, making it my eighth most-completed state (tied with California at 67.2% finished). I now have 11 states that are more than half-way done (Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Colorado, Kansas, and Nevada). Check out the totally sweet map of my travels in Colorado I just made. The dark gray are the counties I'd already visited and the red ones are new from this trip. Yes, this shapefile is missing Broomfield County. What are you going to do? [I replaced the first map with this better one, which has Broomfield County, painstakingly added by hand by yours truly.]
Oh, here's something I forgot to mention before: I saw an old lady taking a leak on my flight to Denver. I usually never leave my seat on a flight (it's such a hassle), but I was on the aisle at the back of the airplane, so it was really easy for me to get up. There was one lavatory in the back, and the sign on the door said "VACANT." So I opened the door. Inside was a tiny old lady, the type that wears sweatshirts with iron-on teddy bears, taking a leak. (The lady was taking the leak, not the teddy bear on the sweatshirt.) She pulled the door shut, then locked it so the sign said "OCCUPIED." A flight attendant came back to the galley and I said to him, "Isn't the first rule of airplane bathrooms that you lock the door?" The good news is that I didn't see any gray/shriveled/dried-up bits.
Another thing: I ate at The Olive Garden in Santa Fe last night, where I ordered some sort of stuffed chicken prosciutto, which was marvelous. It came with a type of macaroni and cheese that was the world's best macaroni and cheese (and I consider myself a bit of a macaroni and cheese connoisseur, since I ate 40 boxes of it during my senior year in high school to get a free tee shirt with a Cheesasaurus Rex on it). If God had a macaroni and cheese recipe, it would come in second place behind this Olive Garden recipe. Now for what is wrong with The Olive Garden: something like a third of the world lives on less than a dollar a day but I spent $20 for more food than some people get in a week, and I can almost guarantee that the meal's total calories exceeded my recommendation for an entire day. (It had better, with how good it tasted.) They brought me a salad that would have served my entire family, and then they asked if I wanted more. They put cheese on everything except my raspberry lemonade, but that was only because I didn't ask for it on the lemonade. But if you're going to The Olive Garden, and you have no problem with living a disgustingly decadent lifestyle, order the stuffed chicken prosciutto.
Monday, December 17, 2007
So here is the result of my latest road trip:
Okay, not quite. But almost.
I had to come to Santa Fe for work again, so this time I threw my weight around and I made it so I flew to Colorado Springs and drove down, getting new counties in Colorado along the way.
First, my shuttle to the airport totally sucked. And I can tell you their name since all of this is factual and ever since colonial days American courts have ruled it's not libel if it's true.
So Midwest Shuttle told my office manager they would pick me up between 6:30 and 7:15 for a flight that departed Kansas City at 9:35. At 7:00 I called the shuttle company and spoke to a woman who took my name and had actual data to give me. The driver was going to be ten minutes late. That would be 7:25.
At 7:35 I called again and got a guy who just told me, "He'll be there." At 7:55 I got that guy again. He tried to tell me again to not worry. I said, "I need confirmation he's going to pick me up." He said, "You've got it." I said, "You don't even know my name." He promised I would make a flight that began boarding at 9:05.
The shuttle arrived at 8:10. He sped on the turnpike the entire way (we had a moderately sized snow storm yesterday, wherein my family spun 90 degrees to the left, then 270 degrees to the right, then 540 degrees back to the left while traveling at 50 miles per hour on US-169 en route to my nephew's baptism in Paola--we were fine and a guy pulled us out in ten minutes), which made me wonder more than once if we were going to have an accident.
We got to the airport at 9:05. The inside line was enormous, but there was no line outside, so I went back out and checked my bag at the curb. My gate was right next to the door, and there was no line at security. I know the guy from Midwest would say, "So what's the big deal; you made your flight," but I only made my flight because of an unnatural combination of airport efficiency, not because the shuttle had me at the airport when I was supposed to be there.
I landed in Denver, transferred flights, and then took off for Colorado Springs. That flight's airtime was only 18 minutes. Shortly after takeoff the stewardess announced we could turn on our electronic devices since we'd reached our cruising altitude, and then within five minutes she announced we'd begun our descent, so we had to turn our electronic devices off again.
One thing about Colorado Springs: tons of young winter-sport athletes all over the airport.
I got my car assignment and went out to the lot to pick it up. I walked past a crusty old man returning a car. The attendant opened the door for him, and the renter got out mid-cigarette. The attendant said, "These are non-smoking cars, sir." That made me laugh.
New counties: El Paso CO, Teller CO, Fremont CO, Custer CO, Pueblo CO, Huerfano CO, Las Animas CO, Costilla CO, Alamosa CO, Rio Grande CO, and Conejos CO. That's 11 more, for a yearly total of 193 and an overall total of 929. I had originally planned to also get Archuleta CO, but my trip over North La Veta Pass (8,800 feet) with the sun still up was difficult enough that I decided not to try Cumbres and La Manga Passes (10,200 feet) with the sun down.
The San Luis Valley is beautiful. If I were going to be a rich yuppie, I'd buy a ranch there and fly our family for vacations in our private jet. Good thing I'm going to be poor for the rest of my life, so I don't have to worry about that.
Once I crossed over the New Mexico state line, there were many "ELK CROSSING" signs. About halfway between Tres Piedras and Ojo Caliente there were two elk standing on the side of the road. One was eating and the other was watching traffic. Both were enormous. I made eye contact with the elk whose head was up. He said to me, "I could have chosen to stand three feet further over, in which case you'd be dead right now." And I said to him, "Yeah, and you'd have four sprained ankles." We both said our lines really fast, because I went by at 70 miles per hour.
So that was my trip today to Santa Fe. Now two days of work in Española, a morning of work in Colorado Springs, and back home on Wednesday.
As for the spinning around yesterday, I was silent until we were facing backwards, at which time I knew all hope was lost, and I said, "Shiznit." I surprised myself with my rapper lingo. I didn't think I'd resort to "shiznit." I'm more of a "shazbot" type of guy, although when I use "shazbot," it usually conveys mild pleasure in the surprise, and there was nothing pleasurable about spinning off the road. Our kids didn't notice anything because they were both looking at books. All of a sudden we were stopped in the median and they didn't know why. The rest of the trip was nowhere near as eventful.
Friday, December 14, 2007
You jerks have sucked me in. Here I was, minding my own business, happily avoiding the crapulence that is American (Presidential) Idol, confident in my assertions that the best way to make the election stop creeping forward is not pay attention to it when it does, but now I can’t help it. I have to have an opinion, even though the election is eleven months away.
My opinion is that none of it matters. There are two types of people who want to be president: the type who are looking for power and prestige to validate their inflated self-images (and fleece the nation to the benefit of themselves and their friends while they’re at it), and the type naïve enough to think anything can be accomplished from the presidency besides validating your inflated self-image (and fleecing the nation).
Type one: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson. Type two: Barack Obama, Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul.
Yesterday I was IMing Persephone while I was supposed to be working (just like today I’m typing this while I’m supposed to be working) and I said Huckabee had apologized to Romney before the last Iowa debate. Persephone said, “That’s good, right?” I said, “It doesn’t really matter. He’s said what he wanted to say, and it helped him with the group he was targeting. Apologizing won’t hurt him with that group, so there’s no reason to not go run a campaign that just repeatedly crosses the line and then apologizes for it.”
Today in this article the point is made that Huckabee’s apology to Romney and Clinton’s apology to Obama aren’t sincere because the offending candidate keeps bringing the topics back up.
Here’s how you run for president: One time you have an operative tell a reporter, “Yeah, I guess our opponent is an all right guy, if you have a thing for crack-head sheep molesters.” Then the next time you see each other face-to-face in front of cameras you apologize for your staffer’s behavior, forcing the smear target to accept your apology because if he doesn’t he’ll look like a jerk. You look fine because you didn’t say the negatives things yourself, and in fact you gave your staff what-for. He forgives you because otherwise he looks petty and unforgiving. Then you spend the rest of the campaign saying, “I have vowed to not make political hay out of these serious allegations of drug use and bestiality swirling around my opponent. It was unfortunate that they came to light and I apologized for the actions of my staffers who first raised these troubling accusations.” Repeat process as needed until your inauguration day.
This is why Americans hate their politics, which makes the politicians happy because fewer people are incensed by their fleecing.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Father Jonathan Morris is making my blog practically write itself. All I have to do is sit back and wait for the checks to come rolling in. Oh, wait. That’s right. Anyway, I can still sit back, at least.
In his article today, Morris writes: “A political candidate does not need to be a theologian. He does not need to be the spokesperson for his church. He does not need to defend the legitimacy of his religious tradition.” But this is a paragraph after he’s written: “Is it unfair for an Evangelical to ask fmr. Gov. Romney what the Mormon church means when it teaches that ‘the president of the Church today is a living prophet’ and that ‘you must prepare yourself so that when the prophets and apostles speak, the Holy Ghost can confirm the truths they teach and you can then determine to follow the counsel they give you?’ (www.mormon.org)”
Why would Romney have to answer for “what the Mormon church means” if a candidate “does not need to be the spokesman for his church”?
There’s a huge difference between the Huckabee quote he uses about how we need to “take back this country for Christ,” uttered as an elected official, and the mormon.org quote he uses, which isn’t something Romney is saying is a goal for anyone but himself. If Huckabee had said, “I want to take back my own life for Christ,” then they would be comparable quotes. Romney wants to prepare himself to obey the prophet, not necessarily prepare the country. Does Morris really not see a difference here?
Morris seems to want Romney to separate himself from the mormon.org quote the way most people would want Huckabee to separate himself from the “country for Christ” quote. Throwing central tenets of your faith under the bus, however, isn’t something he takes kindly in his fellow Catholics, as his quick digs at Kennedy and Kerry show. His example of a Catholic president being directly petitioned by the Pope to change government policy is a far cry from a Mormon president changing his personal life to comply with generalized gospel teaching. A comparison would have been, “When the Pope says in a general way that all good Catholics should be doing Item X, would a Catholic president do Item X?” And the answer is, “Why not? Is it illegal? Does it require the undermining of the Constitution? If not, then not only would we expect a Catholic president to do it, but we should expect him to do it if he’s a man of his word.” If the Pope changed Catholic practice, I wouldn’t follow since I’m not Catholic, but I would expect a Catholic president to honor his commitments, and I’d be disappointed if he didn’t. You see, I don’t want my Catholic presidents to stop being Catholic so they can be president. Morris, however, seems to think only Mormons have to quit being Mormon to get elected.
Religion matters in that it informs an ethical viewpoint. Ideally, religious people embrace a set of ethics beyond their own expediency. They embrace a standard of behavior above their current practice, which impels them to try every day to be a better person. They embrace the idea of accountability, and a perspective that helps them look past themselves. Oftentimes religion includes oaths or covenants, and as such religion informs a candidate’s trustworthiness, just like marriage does. This is why Giuliani’s and McCain’s and Thompson’s “frequent marriage miles” are troubling, and a candidate who says, “Yeah, I believe in my church, except for when I don’t,” (or a candidate like Al Gore who dismisses his religion as his ancestors’ “faith tradition,”) is troubling. Giuliani never cheated on me (that I know about), but if he treats his most sacred personal vows so carelessly, what will he do with this nation’s most sacred public vow, the presidential oath? Look at Romney’s marriage to see how he treats his commitments. Look at his religious oaths to see if he keeps his word. Look at his religious participation to see if he embraces the moral standard we want in a president, but going beyond that, as Morris does in this article, is simply looking for reasons to disqualify a Mormon without having to say as much.
From Dinesh D’Souza’s Virtue of Prosperity (p. 73):
At animal clinics around the country, such as the Animal Medical Center in New York, dogs, cats, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even snakes arrive daily: "My snake isn’t eating." "My rat has skin problems." "My dog needs a kidney transplant." "My cat needs brain surgery." For sums ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, these animals receive medical treatment as if they were people. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, expecting him to find the whole concept ridiculous. But he didn’t: his cat, he explained, was seeing a pet psychiatrist to deal with mood fluctuations.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
When my kids were in utero, they were going to make Albert Einstein look like Albert Molina. (Nothing against Albert Molina. Every time I see that guy in a movie I think, "Oh, it's the brother from 'Mad About You.'")
But now they're out and reality has set in. While my five-year-old daughter generated the following Christmas list,
Aipod, abrbie book, a brbie toy, feyplada, totsstuff towwactots, AND pat budrfliy, uslfon, brets, crimisbooks, sled tou
[translation: an iPod, a Barbie book, a Barbie toy, free play date, Tots [like Tater Tots], stuff to make Tots, and pet butterfly, a cell phone, barrettes, Christmas books, sled too.]
Why are my kids being so lazy?
Remember that movie “Firefox,” where Clint Eastwood has to steal a super-secret Soviet plane and fly it back to America, but he’s nearly incapacitated by Vietnam flashbacks? At least, that’s how I remember the plot of the movie from when I saw it as a six-year old. Let me check the Internet to see if I’m right. Please wait. [“Spanish Flea” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing.] One hundred percent correct, baby! Yeah!
Anyway, the point is that’s how I feel having Mike Huckabee running for president. Every time I turn around I have to read another retarded article that reminds me how much I hated my mission.
Yeah, there it is: I hated being a missionary. And I know I’m not supposed to say that. I’m supposed to be one of those guys who looks wistfully into the near-distance and says, like Uncle Rico, “Ooh man, I wish I could go back in time. I’d baptize a stake! President would have put me in Nuestra Señora del Milagro Despreciable for my last six months, we would have converted every Latino in the world. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.”
But instead I had a mission in >Wisconsin, full of Mike Huckabees.
Contact: You’re not Christian.
Me: What’s it take to be Christian?
Contact: Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
Me: I do.
Contact: No, you don’t.
Me: Well, I’m doing it right now.
Contact: Um...I’ve got a church.
Two years of that crap. I know everyone gets it as a missionary, no matter where they go, but I don’t know of anyone who got it for two straight years. So reading a collection of Huckabee quotes sends me back, and not in a good way.
Wednesday, December 5 (Fox News): “I am just not going to go into evaluating other people’s doctrines and faiths. I think that is absolutely not a role for a president.”
Wednesday, December 12 (Associated Press): “Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks in an upcoming article, ‘Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’”
To the press he says he’s not running for president of a theological school, but then to voters he says his faith defines him and in his ads he calls himself a Christian leader. He’s asked if Romney is Christian and he dodges it by saying that’s not a question he can answer, but what he can answer is if he believes Romney is Christian.
So I started this campaign “season” (when is it ever not campaign season now?) feeling pressured into Romney’s camp and resisting it. But what are my options?
Giuliani: socially liberal, fiscally liberal, deadly to terrorists. He gets a one out of three.
Thompson: socially neutral, fiscally neutral, harmful to terrorists. He gets maybe half a point for each, so a total of 1.5 out of three.
McCain: same as Thompson, but crankier.
Romney: socially conservative (sort of), fiscally conservative (sort of), deadly to terrorists (sort of). Maybe three-quarters of a point each, for a total of 2.25.
Huckabee: socially conservative, fiscally neutral, harmful to terrorists, anti-Mormon. That’s about a zero from me. I’m as likely to vote for Huckabee (or Brownback before him) as a black guy is likely to vote for David Duke.
Paul: socially libertarian, fiscally libertarian, non-threatening to terrorists. I just don’t know about Paul. I’ve got reservations about strict libertarianism in practice. That’s why I still even bother with the Democrat-Lite (Republican) Party. Maybe a two for Paul.
So my candidate choice in order right now is:
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I'm smack-dab in the middle of my first day as an on-campus resident. Here's the report so far:
Monday, 3:00 am - wake up and drive myself to school. Due to some scientific freak accident, the windows of our car de-iced themselves overnight, even though the temperature never got above 20. I make a mental note to give Global Warming a high-five next time I see it.
Monday, 3:30 am - get to library and start studying for labor economics final.
Monday, 5:30 am - get bored, so read news headlines and check friends' blogs.
Monday, 7:00 am - get to classroom early to ask professor a few questions. (Every time I sit in class and think, "We haven't gone over anything today," there's always a ton of stuff I miss on the days I don't go. I decide that, no matter how many times my wife tells me, "It's okay; you don't have to go to class today," I'm going to class every day next semester.)
Monday, 8:00 am - finish final, worry a little that I'm done so quickly, then turn it in. Stop by economics office and get the assignments for the classes I'm TAing for next semester. Feel a slight rush of power as I envision ruining the lives of scores of freshmen.
Monday, 9:00 am - come home for a visit. My kids are sitting on the couch watching television. Crazy Jane says, "What were you doing outside?" I say, "I was at school." Articulate Joe says, "I thought you was upstairs in the bedroom in bed." Later I find out that he woke up at six and spent two hours in my spot in bed. Why did he think I was in bed?
Monday, 10:00 am - eat breakfast with my family. I go upstairs to get together the things I'll take back to school with me. Crazy Jane comes upstairs and asks why I'm not going to work. I tell her, "I'm finishing school today and tomorrow," and then she says, "Then we'll have more time to hang out." Where did she learn that "hanging out" is a good thing to do?
Monday, 11:00 am - back to school with a backpack full of borrowed Calculus texts and my alarm clock.
Monday, 12:00 pm - during a Calculus review session I get a text message from the university saying I need to check my e-mail for news about whether the next day's finals will be rescheduled to January due to the forecasted ice storm. The e-mail says they will make a decision by 6 am tomorrow.
Monday, 4:00 pm - eat Chick-Fil-A and pray for ice. Make plans for how I will study all Christmas break and ace my rescheduled finals.
Monday, 6:00 pm - bored with studying, try to sleep for an hour slumped over my library desk. It doesn't really work.
Monday, 9:00 pm - discover a new bathroom in Anschutz Library. This one is nice, neat, spacious, and the stall walls aren't covered with offers for gay sex. Why have I been using the other bathrooms this whole time?
Monday, 10:00 pm - check forecast, get excited. Weather.com says we have a 100% chance of heavy freezing rain all night long. Start checking e-mail hourly for announcement of rescheduling.
Tuesday, 12:00 am - set alarm for 3 am and try to sleep slumped over desk. Take off sweatshirt to use as pillow. Then move to floor. Nothing works. What's the deal? I used to be able to sleep on the floor of the Lee Library at BYU at the drop of a hat. There were times when I didn't want to sleep on the floor but I ended up doing it, anyway. Now whatever part of me touches the floor starts apainin'. Yes, I'm nearly 10 years older. Yea, thanks.
Tuesday, 1:30 am - start studying for industrial organization final, but in a lackluster manner, since I'm confident it will be rescheduled. When I venture up to the ground floor there is not much rain going on, but weather.com says I have nothing to worry about.
Tuesday, 4:30 am - set alarm for 6 am and pull together three chairs to make a type of bed. I finally fall asleep at 5, then wake up at 5:58, turn off my alarm before it starts ringing, and check my e-mail.
Tuesday, 5:59 am - finals will proceed as scheduled.
Tuesday, 6:00 am - swear. Make mental note to firebomb offices of weather.com. Jot down a reminder to pimp-slap Global Warming across its fool mouth next time I see it.
Tuesday, 7:00 am - buy a muffin for breakfast.
Tuesday, 7:30 am - take industrial organization final. While sitting waiting for professor to show up, think, "I'm the type of guy who goes crazy if something doesn't go his way and ends up on the news." The objective part of my brain makes a note that the subjective part of my brain has gone loopy.
Tuesday, 8:30 am - finish final. Walk back to the library, slipping on ice all over every sidewalk and street. If they weren't going to reschedule finals for this, what would it have taken? Sit down at computer and start typing this instead of starting studying for Calculus II final tonight at 4:30 pm. Plan is to finish final by 7 pm and take the bus home.
Friday, December 07, 2007
So I guess Mitt Romney gave a speech yesterday, and for some reason his handlers didn’t forward my suggested text of, “I don’t have time for bigots, and neither should you.” What I read of his speech made some good points, I thought. I’m glad he didn’t try to answer doctrinal questions, since that’s not a candidate’s job.However, today on Fox News I read a commentary by Father Jonathan Morris where he criticizes Mitt for not doing so. Father Jonathan (did his PR firm nix “Father Morris”?) writes:
I would vote for a Mormon who has the integrity and courage to explain what his church really teaches (not many people know) and how this would affect his policy proposals and execution.
But, I wouldn’t vote for a Mormon who sidesteps or otherwise obscures what the Mormon Church believes—-especially as it differs from mainline Christianity—-or who suggests that his unique religious belief would in no way affect his action.
It’s the same three-pronged test I would apply to Catholics, Unitarians, Jews, Muslims and Evangelicals: what do you believe in, how will this affect the carrying out of your office, and do you have the strength of character to live up to what you profess?
Father Jonathan claims there is nothing out-of-the-ordinary in this type of requirement, yet I feel he’s not being honest. Does he really require Rudy Giuliani to explain the Immaculate Conception, did he ask Joe Lieberman in 2000 to explain how a group of people goes about becoming God’s covenant people, or does Mike Huckabee have to explain salvation through grace? Yet Father Jonathan says he applies this criterion to “Catholics, ...Jews, ...and Evangelicals.”
Don’t get me wrong. His speech would have been excellent had it been given by any other candidate. It was deep, passionate and presidential. He even ended with, “God bless America.”
The problem is that the much-hyped speech did nothing to achieve his goal of convincing doubting Evangelicals and Catholics that his Mormon beliefs will not hinder him from being a good president.
If “Evangelicals and Catholics” are doubting, why is it Romney’s responsibility to talk them through their bigotry? Is Barack Obama supposed to tell someone, “It’s okay that you’re racist; I’m going to explain away my blackness for you”? The burden of intolerance lies on the intolerant, not the “different.”
Still more abrasive to Christian sensibilities was the attempt to pass off Mormon doctrine about Jesus Christ as equal to that of Christianity. He said, “What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of mankind.”
OK, Mitt. But do you really want to get into what that means for you?
A Catholic priest should know better. There are no “Christian sensibilities” and no doctrine of Christianity for Romney to try to equal. There are Catholics, and there are Protestants, and there are who-knows-whats. Where they are common is in their belief of Christ’s divinity, which is what Romney said he believes, too. Morris’s critical, “do you really want to get into what that means for you” is a cheap shot from a man who should know that that means something different to everyone.
Look, why is Morris Catholic and not something else? Because, at some level, he thinks Catholicism is correct on doctrinal issues that others get wrong. Huckabee’s understanding of Christ is, from a Catholic perspective, wrong. So why does Romney have to account to Morris for his differences but Huckabee gets a pass? Wrong is wrong. If Romney’s “wrongness” is a deal-breaker, why is it so for only Romney?
There is a club mentality among some Christian sects wherein they say to some others, “You’re not the same as me but it’s okay.” This discounts the worth of their own group. If Morris is okay with Evangelicals, then what’s so special about Catholicism? And if there’s nothing special about Catholicism, why dedicate your life to the priesthood? Morris isn’t just a run-of-the-mill member; he’s taken his commitment to Catholicism to the highest level, yet he throws away his Catholicism when it comes to “mainstream” Christian sects. “They’re all good,” he says.
And then Morris’s bigotry can’t be contained, like Dr. Stangelove’s involuntary hand motions:
Mitt Romney would have had to say that his church teaches that in 1820 an angel appeared to a man from Vermont named Joseph Smith and told him to go to the town of Manchester in upstate New York where he would find plates of gold upon which there were engravings only Joseph could understand and translate. Miraculously, from the three plates came a 500 page book, now called the Book of Mormon.
Aside from the misleading statements (while being a man from Vermont, he wasn’t told to go to upstate New York because he was already there) and the factual inaccuracies (there weren’t three plates), Morris loses me with the snarky “Miraculously.”
What the hell is that about? “Miraculously”?!?! From a Catholic priest we get criticism of miracles? Hey, Morris, how was Jesus conceived? How did He turn water into wine? How did He walk on water? How did He atone for the sins of mankind? How was He slain and rose from the dead? How did He ascend to heaven? How will He come again? Are these not miracles?
So Morris’s argument boils down to: “He’s not like me.” It’s funny how bigotry is still acceptable as long as you call it something else. Morris isn’t “bigoted,” he’s “concerned,” or he’s “troubled,” or he’s “doubting.” He admits as much when he says “I happen to think Mitt Romney is a man of character.” But, despite his talk of how that’s all that matters, when it comes to Romney that’s not enough. Morris says, “His speech would have been excellent had it been given by any other candidate.” But I thought you used “the same three-pronged test”? Morris’s argument can’t hold water because it isn’t an argument at all. It’s an emotional rejection of the different slopped over with a patina of reason and concern. But bigotry is bigotry, and this is nothing but.
Cristin will be so happy to know that, in an Yahoo Finance article about how to decommercialize your Christmas, the first idea was this:
Yankee Swap --
Everyone brings a wrapped gift within an agreed spending range or limit. Stephanie Ling, of Florida, says her family calls this "Full Contact Christmas." She explains that all the unidentifiable gifts are piled in one spot and everyone picks a number from a bowl. The fun starts when No. 1 picks a gift and opens it in front of the group. "The second person has a choice -- to either take the gift No. 1 opened or select another unopened gift. If the second person 'steals' the previous gift, No. 1 gets to open a new gift. The third person then can take either of the opened gifts or open a new one," says Ling. "Pretty soon, you're taking gifts from one another left and right."
You can set your own rules. Usually, it's forbidden to take a gift back immediately after it's taken from you. You also may want to set a limit on how many times a gift can be "stolen," adds Ling. "Things could get ugly."
The game ends, she says, only when someone opens the last gift and decides to keep it. "It's a fun game that goes on and on and involves everyone," Ling says. Some people use a variation of this called a White Elephant Exchange -- wrapping silly gifts no one really wants.
Seriously, the first idea was Yankee Swap? The best way to decommercialize Christmas is to fight over which gift you get? I call “load of crap” on this one. Who’s with me?
IN OTHER NEWS: Today on my way to work I saw a car with the following inspirational quote on the back window in stick-on letters: “IF GOD IS WIT ME, WHO CAN BE AGAINST ME”. Yes, that’s right, it used the word “WIT.” The spacing of the lettering was such that there appeared to have never been enough room for the letter H. It didn’t fall off, it wasn’t stolen. It just was never there. Now, I’m all for gangstas getting religion, but shouldn’t they also get spelling lessons, too?
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Every time I write an article for the paper, I turn it in with a suggested headline. Not once have they (I have two editors) used one of my headlines, invariably making up their own, much lamer headline. (Once I wrote an article about how everyone was wearing The North Face jackets and they gave it the headline “Winter Weather Prompts Winter Wear.” Like it’s news that people bundle up when it gets colder. And if you’re thinking, “Um, isn’t that what your article was about?”, no, it wasn't. It was about trends and social status, smart ass.) Anyway, lately I’ve taken it for granted that they won’t use my headline suggestion, so I’ve been writing funnier headline suggestions. Last month I wrote an article about how the decision was made to move the KU-MU football game to Kansas City and I suggested the headline, “KU Athletics Should Die in a Fire.” Last week I wrote about my family’s dealings with maternity insurance and entitled it, “My Boys Can Swim!” I’ve been worried, though, that one week they’ll take me at face-value and run one of these headlines.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
It looks like I get to go to New Mexico for work again the week after finals. What will be nicer than all my previous business trips is that, on this one, it'll be just me. No moronic co-workers to pretend to like. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it so I fly in and out of Colorado Springs instead of Albuquerque, which will help me get 12 new counties in southern Colorado. Then, at least according to my plan, I will get seven more in southern Kansas on December 29, which will make my total for the year 201. That's right, suckers: I will have been to over 200 new counties this year alone!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
So a couple weeks ago Cristin wanted to know why so many knocked up chicks were going toes up. Well, it seems a lot of it is the fatties’ own faults. Which reminds me of this ever-timely news article:
Monday, December 03, 2007
Okay, firstly I'm "watching" Monday Night Football on nfl.com and I'm so excited about Baltimore leading New England! And I'm a Steelers fan, but it doesn't matter right now; I'm rooting for Baltimore. (When I told my son that one of the teams was from Baltimore, he told me, "That's not a real word!" Of course, if anyone from Baltimore heard my son say such things, he would pop a cap in his ass. Baltimore don't play, cousin.)
Secondly, I'm watching "CSI: Beautiful People" because my wife is watching it and I am still hoping that some day someone will shoot Calleigh Duquesne right in the face. I'm not talking about a Mary Jo Buttafuocco maiming; I want Calleigh dead! But the point is, I realized the reason the CSIs are all jumping the shark so quickly is that there are so many of them. There are only so many interesting ways to have someone die, and instead of using one way each week for three years, they've been using three ways each week, and now they're beyond help.
Thirdly, Saturday night the wife and I watched "Casino Royale." Here is why it is the best James Bond movie ever:
- There were no stupid names. The main female character's name is Vesper Lynd, not Come-On-I-Wanna-Lay-Ya. In fact, they make fun of the overly-sexual character names when James tells Vesper her alias is "Stephanie Broadchest."
- There were no stupid lines. When James orders a martini the bartender asks him, "Shaken or stirred?" and James says, "Do I look like I give a damn?"
- There were no stupid plots. There was no weird moon base or satellite that can control the weather. It was just a terrorist funding plot, which is something totally believable.
Anger! What kind of crap punt was that?! When leading by four points midway through the fourth quarter, you shouldn't go three-and-out, and you definitely shouldn't punt 27 yards, giving the best team in football the ball at midfield.
Fourthly, our local news cast ("Live in the first five minutes") sucks. First at ten-ten they tell me, "You'll want to stay up for this at ten-sixteen." Then they play a taped interview of a woman carjack victim and in the middle of her talking, her telephone starts ringing. It rang three times. Why didn't they do another take? Now they showed two tween girls in Minnesota who pulled a friend of theirs out of a lake and when the girls jokingly flexed their muscles, the male newscaster said, "They call that gun power, don't they?" And this weather girl isn't a girl, isn't hot, and might be an actual meteorologist. Talk about three strikes against her!
Fifthly, Missouri vs. Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl should be given the media nickname Cousin-Lovin' Showdown.
I really should do math now. Or maybe tomorrow morning. We'll see.
So I decided a couple months ago to run a little competition here in the office. Each week we pick the winners of football games and then we get points for being correct. One guy here in the office is taking this really seriously, which is sort of taking some of the fun away. He's already expressed displeasure that the season champion will win "a celebratory potluck lunch in his honor." Well, we have a guy here who has been away for the first half the season due to some legal troubles (i.e.: in the pen), but since he came back, I've allowed him to be in the pool. Earlier in the year we had a guy miss picking one week because he was sick, so I decided we would go to a "points-per-game" basis of deciding the champion. This means that, even though this guy who was in prison missed the first half the season, he isn't being penalized for it. Beyond the whole "the rest of your life is ruined" aspect of it, I mean.
Well, the prison guy just had an awesome week wherein he picked nearly every winner of every football game correctly. (Probably due to prison learning or something.) Since he's only picked two weeks, his points-per-game spiked upward and now he is in first place. The guy who takes it too seriously, who is now in second place, is livid. I'm just glad I turned my desk around last week so I can laugh at the serious guy and he can't see me behind my monitors.
Here's what Mitt Romney is going to say on Tuesday in his "important" speech about not having horns, consummating his marriage on a temple altar, et cetera, et cetera:
I don't have time to deal with bigots. Neither should you.
Just kidding, he's going to piss himself attempting to explain, "But really, guys, I'm a Christian, just like you. I promise. Please believe me. Please?"
About two months ago we showed up at church one Sunday morning and saw that our building had been graffitied overnight. The conducting bishopric member stood up and started sacrament meeting and mentioned the graffiti, but then he said, "We were not the only church that was targeted; there were numerous churches along Kasold Drive that were spray-painted last night." I wrote a note to Persephone on the back of the program that read, "Mormons are so concerned with being accepted by other Christians that they can take having the church spray-painted and turn it into a positive thing. 'Look, they tagged our church like other Christian churches! That means they like us!'"
While I'm complaining about lame church members, what is wrong with testimony meeting? Seriously, it might have been a good idea one hundred years ago, but now it's just worthless stories. When I was a kid it was stories told by people who thought they were bearing testimonies. Now it's stories told by people who know they are telling stories. We have one guy who takes a half hour "telling stories," as he calls it, and he follows every story with, "And what does that have to do with the church? I don't know." Then his wife gets up and spends fifteen more minutes telling the same story she has told every month for years.
And why does it have to be once a month? It destroys my will to live. I told Persephone that the three worst ideas in the history of the modern church have been 3) Mountain Meadow Massacre, 2) Martin-Willie Handcart Companies, and 1) testimony meeting. Honorable mentions go to Haun's Mill, the Mormon Rap, and "Saturday's Warrior," but testimony meeting beats them all like a rented mule.
Honestly, why does it feel like 85% of the crap we do in the church is because someone thought they needed to make up some busy work? I've got enough going on in my life already. I don't need endless meetings and boring activities just to avoid some sort of soul-crushing loneliness. I can count on one hand the number of sacrament meetings I was glad I had attended. I heard an interesting talk in Waukesha Ward in 1997 by a high council member, then I heard a good testimony in Camarillo Third Ward in 2003, then I heard another good talk in Camarillo Sixth Ward in 2005. That has been it. One good sacrament meeting for each decade of my life. But the number of times I've heard people bear witness to urban legends is about ten times that many. (Just to clarify, Captain Kangaroo was not a Green Beret and he had no confirmed kills, and Mr. Rogers did not wear a sweater to cover tattoos on his arms.)
My wife, who was taking a nap next to me, has now woken up and is concerned that I'm becoming apostate.
Friday, November 30, 2007
So I was sitting at work with an hour left in the day and I started searching the Internet for people I know. After a while of that, I started searching for me, which I do sort of regularly. Well, this time a lot of my articles I'd written for the university paper came up as being on scholarly research sites, or sports chat sites, or just "this guy thinks this" blogs. It was sort of weird. I'd always thought I was writing for the local audience, and maybe more people would read it on the Internet, but only by going to the paper's website. It turns out you could read one of my articles at cstv.com, which is big enough of a thing that I'd heard of it before today.
I'd like to think this is my ticket out of this dump, but I know it's not.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wow, it turned out my "Iron Chef America" posting could be my most widely-read EVER! It already has four comments! Now, I'm still short of a typical Cristin Lassen level of comment inciting, but this is a big deal for me. I've discovered the secret to successful blogging: write about crap TV shows. However, I don't really watch TV much at all, so that kind of puts a damper on that. I did see the world's ugliest picture of Marie Osmond online the other day, and that made me grateful I have seen only part of one episode of "Dancing With the Stars."
Remember "Circus of the Stars"? I thought that show sucked even when I was a kid, but I remember my mother watching it pretty regularly. Then just when I was getting old enough to appreciate the slutty circus costumes the ladies were wearing, the show was gone. I had a sad childhood.
Here's something I did watch last night: "Hot Rod." Why? Because it was either that or study Calculus. My take on the movie is this: I liked it. It was a lot like if Adam Sandler had made "Napoleon Dynamite." I think I would watch this movie frequently enough to make it worth buying it should I find it on sale somewhere for $9.99 (or, like some DVDs at Target last weekend, $3.99). And seeing how we rent from our grocery store for $1.50 instead of paying those "outrageous" Blockbuster prices, that's really saying something.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Holy hell, the world is coming to an end. I speak specifically today of the craptacular television show "Iron Chef America," which I saw for the first time this weekend. Yes, every time I start to think, "I wonder what we';re missing by not having cable," we go to my parents' house and see exactly what we're missing, then thank our lucky stars we're so poor. If I ever find myself contemplating signing up for cable I'll know I've got too much money on my hands.
What is wrong with "Iron Chef America"? It would be easier to tell you what isn't wrong with it: it hasn't led to any mass suicides (of which I'm aware).
Honestly, my problems begin and end with "The Chairman." Seriously? They all call him "The Chairman" with a straight face? Or are we watching Take 83 every time? Anyway, there's this guy called "The Chairman" who comes out in a martial arts outfit and does a cartwheel into a suit, or something like that. Then he announces the "secret ingredient" with smoke machines, yelling, and karate chops. Again, no one laughs. How, I'm sure I don't know. Maybe they've all received extensive training from Steve Carell.
I saw two episodes this weekend. In the first "The Chairman" introduced the secret ingredient as "THANKSGIVING!" and in the second it was "CRANBERRY!" Yes, he yelled out "cranberry" with his hands flailing. Then all episode long they called it "Battle of Cranberry."
I've looked for it on YouTube, but no one else seems to have the car-wreck can't-look-away-it's-so-bad reaction to it that I have. I told Persephone, "If we had cable I would Tevo the hell out of that show and make a YouTube clip like the one of Horatio Caine and his sunglasses," which is a family favorite in our house.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
THE SIGMA SOLUTION
Cast of Characters:
- Lt. Cmdr. Bill "Hack" Hackathorne
- Spc. Monica Beal
- Sgt. Tyrone Wiggins
- Terrorist Leader
- Various Terrorists
- Probably some villagers or something like that
Setting: a dystopian America of the year 2067
Open with several shots of deserted Midwestern towns. Typed in the lower corner of the screen is "AMERICA: 2067."
Terrorist attacks against the United States continued throughout the early 21st century. Americans became more deeply divided over how to respond. As the Second Civil War spread throughout the land, the wide-open freedom of the Midwest became a haven for lawless bands. Most citizens fled to cities. America's enemies made alliances with these domestic gangs, controlling large swathes of countryside and with it, the national food supply.
[Show a shot of rag-tag band of smugglers trying to drive a truckload of corn down a dark country road.]
Patriots and profiteers alike tried to break the food cartel, with often bloody results.
[Show a shot of vigilantes stopping truck with gunfire, show corn spilling on ground with sinister music and dramatic lighting.]
Both American governments, the American Republic and the Democratic Republic of America, have undertaken covert operations to break the agrarian gangs, losing many soldiers along the way.
[Show a military funeral.]
Domestic unrest builds as food becomes more scarce. Governments are getting desperate. Time is running out.
[Show Hack and Wiggins crawling up to the edge of a fortified compound at night.]
How many you got?
I count ten.
There are two inside that control room. Watch their shadows on the wall through the window. They're playing cards. A slow-moving game.
Man. I only counted eight. We can't take ten guys. We've only got six.
Well, none of them are going to go away, and we're not going to get any more of us. We've got surprise on our side.
We had surprise on our side last time, too. And we lost three men.
But that was against twenty-five. We'll get them this time.
We've got to.
[Like I've always said, drunken monkeys can write commercially-successful Hollywood films. I might write more later, depending on how bored I am.]
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So I was reading on Wikipedia about the movie "The Singles Ward," and it turns out the girl from that movie, the one who is kind of cute but also kind of looks twenty years older than she robably really is, was in a movie called "Trolls 2," which Wikipedia says is one of IMDB's worst movies of all time. So I went to see what the worst movies of all time are, since I'm at work and incredibly bored. So here they are, according to IMDB. (I can't get my stupid computer to automatically number in reverse order, so I'm going to number these 1 to 100, but really they are 100 to 1, so the last movie listed will be IMDB's worst movie of all time.)
- Hercules in New York
- Material Girls
- 3 Ninjas: Knuckle Up
- Jaws: The Revenge
- Slumber Party Massacre II
- The Beast of Yucca Flats
- The Hellcats
- Feel the Noise
- House Party 3
- Legion of the Dead
- Little Witches
- Police Academy: Mission to Moscow
- Shark: Rosso nell'oceano
- Night of the Ghouls
- Shanghai Surprise
- American Ninja 4: The Annihilation
- Lady Killers
- Anus Magillicutty [yes, that's really its name]
- Track of the Moon Beast
- The Astro-Zombies
- Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf
- Toter hing im Netz, Ein
- Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
- Daniel - Der Zauberer
- I Accuse My Parents
- Epic Movie
- Uchu Kaisoku-sen
- Howling III
- The Bat People
- American Soldiers
- The Honeymooners
- The Last Sign
- Five the Hard Way
- It's Pat
- Dis - en historie om kjaerlighet
- Nine Lives
- The Comebacks
- The Smokers
- You Got Served
- Carry on, Columbus
- Angels' Brigade
- Phat Girlz
- Alone in the Dark
- Jail Bait
- Baby Geniuses
- Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace
- Meatballs 4
- Creepshow III
- Simon Sez
- In the Mix
- Leonard Part 6
- Troll 2
- Son of the Mask
- Cool as Ice
- 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain
- Ghosts Can't Do It
- Love in Paris
- Chairman of the Board
- House of the Dead
- American Ninja V
- Santa With Muscles
- Car 54, Where Are You?
- Bottoms Up
- Snowboard Academy
- Hababam sinifi 3.5
- Seven Mummies
- Santa Claus
- Going Overboard
- Manos: The Hands of Fate
- Keloglan kara prens-e karsi
- From Justin to Kelly
- SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2
- The Hillz
- Anne B. Real
- Pledge This!
- Surf School
- Dunyayi kurtaran adam-in oglu
- The Tony Blair Witch Project
- Die Hard Dracula
- Daddy Day Camp
- Who's Your Caddy?
So the good news is, I don't think I've ever seen one of these. I might have seen "Jaws: The Revenge," but I don't think so. I'm surprised that there's a "Police Academy" movie I haven't seen, but evidently there is. Now for the sobering news: I've come close to seeing a lot of these. I've heard they were bad but I still thought, "Meh, they can't be that bad." The movies I've almost seen from this list include "Slumber Party Massacre II," "Lady Killers," "Battlefield Earth," "The Honeymooners," "It's Pat" (actually I did see about five minutes of this once when I was out of town on business, but mercifully something else was on), "Kazaam," "Meatballs 4," and "Leonard Part 6."
Monday, November 19, 2007
I've seen three movies sort of recently, so I'll review all of them, since work is boring.
- "Ocean's Thirteen"
- "Strangers On a Train"
This movie was just as entertaining for me as the other two, but it had the same problems as the other two: unexplained plot holes that are supposed to make you think the movie is clever when really it just wouldn't stand up to scrutiny if they told you everything, and a combination of George Clooney and Brad Pitt. What's wrong with George Clooney? Well, to hear him tell it, nothing at all. And that's a little irritating. It doesn't make a person "brave" to make an Anti-McCarthy film fifty years after McCarthyism, and even ten years after Jim Carrey ("The Majestic") and Reese Witherspoon ("Pleasantville"). In modern America it's the people who say that McCarthy was right who face public scrutiny. And Brad Pitt, aside from always being annoying as a kind of male Natalie Portman (can't act, just looks nice), threw America's Sweetheart under the bus so he could shack up with Crazy McBaby-Nabber and her jumbo sausage lips.
Bristol Stool Chart Rating: 2
I liked this movie, I think. There were some issues, however.
- Guy's wife is uglier than sin! Asking me to believe that she can get two dates to the fair is to stretch credibility beyond belief.
- Barbara was hilarious, and the fact that she wasn't in more scenes is unforgivable.
- The first time Bruno says to Guy, "Hey, let's talk about your divorce," Guy should have switched cars, and then there would have been no problem.
- Guy wore a blazer and shorts in one scene, and in another he put on a heavy wool sweater before playing tennis. Did people ever really do that?
- Bruno has no real motivation other than, "Well, he's crazy."
- The Senator sure is okay with having a homewrecker of a daughter.
- I found myself thinking, "I wonder what color that piece of clothing was? Was it red? Or blue? Or just a shade of gray like it looks to me?"
- As a geographer, it bothered me that they never really explained where the town was other than "between New York and Washington."
However, here's what I liked about it. I liked that the Senator's daughter immediately suspected Guy when his wife turned up dead. Most movie girls are too stupid to put crap together like that. I liked that Guy didn't win his tennis match in straight sets. I liked that the end involved a carousel, the most under-utilized piece of fairground equipment in thriller movies. And I liked seeing the inside of Pennsylvania Station, even if it was a little sad.
Bristol Stool Chart Rating: 3
This movie was pretty good by "comic-book-themed movie standards" (which is to say, it didn't totally suck like most of these movies do), but it wasn't as good as "Spiderman 2." I'm glad they got rid of most of the corny mid-fight dialog that usually clings like daggetts to comic book movies' sphincters. I felt bad when Peter was being a schlemiel to Ursula because I like Ursula. And it was long. I mean, not "Meet Joe Black" long, but long. (Speaking of "Meet Joe Black," I went to see it at the movies with a girl. It was boring, so I said I had to go to the bathroom with the intention of sneaking into another film for a while, but the only other one on my side of the theater was "Ever After," so I actually watched about fifteen minutes of that before going back to my own theater and falling asleep. I thought Claire Forlani (who totally shouldn't have dumped Lt. Dan on "CSIPD Blue") was pretty enough that I wouldn't mind sitting through "Meet Joe Black." I was wrong. I don't even know what it's about. He ends up being dead, doesn't he?)
From the beginning of this football season, I have had two problems with the Kansas Jayhawks: 1. their early-season hype was completely unwarranted (see here), and 2. The University of Kansas cares more about athletics than about academics (see here and here).
I stand by those assessments. However, KU has played its conference schedule against much stronger teams than comprised their non-conference schedule, and the football team has taken steps to make future non-conference schedules more demanding. When the Jayhawks beat Florida International and then fans all over Lawrence were screaming for a national ranking, I was telling them to shut up. Now the Jayhawks are one of two undefeated teams remaining in the FBS division with victories over quality teams, and I don't feel that I've been proven wrong. Mind you, my entire argument was "the team has not shown itself to be good," and at that time I was correct. The team has now shown itself to be good, but that doesn't disprove my earlier point. Should KU win out against highly-ranked teams such as Missouri and Oklahoma, they will show themselves to be much better than a victory over Florida International ever could.
As to my second point, nothing has changed. The only difference is that football games are on Saturdays, so they don't affect school as much. I've had my wife drop me off and pick me up at the library on game days without a problem. However, every time there is a home basketball game, there is no place to park to go to the library that night. Last week I had to meet with two classmates at the library, but every parking lot on campus was blocked off because the basketball team was playing Washburn. I asked one of the parking lot attendants where I should park to go to the library and he said in his best Missouri drawl, "Uh, I don' even know where the libery is." I thought, "You don't know where the library is, or you don't know what the library is?"
So I don't think I am betraying myself if I root for KU this weekend, am I? I mean, what else am I supposed to do, root for slavers?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
And another thing we should all cheer: let's hear it for one hour of sleep! I was up yesterday from seven to six-twenty, then back up at seven-twenty. Right now it's noon and I feel GREAT! Seriously. I was going to blow off work, but there's no reason, so here I am. Maybe my years of prayers have paid off and now I don't need to sleep anymore. That would be AWESOME!!!!!111!!eleventy!!!! Do you know how productive I'd be! It would be like polyphasic sleep, but better!
Let's hear it for my former employer, Western Wats, who made foxnews.com today in this article about Mitt Romney being a dastardly Mormon.
Two things: everyone at Western Wats is as Mormon as they come, and I wonder if Romney's campaign would do this type of over-the-top questioning to make the issue become taboo and keep others from doing a more-subtle form of it.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So Barry Bonds was indicted today on perjury and obstruction of justice, which can only mean one thing: he's gearing up to run for president. Because felonies like that don't qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanors."
The mark of a lazy writer is a "top ten" list, followed closely by a "best of" list. So I give you a "best of" list that is sure to make the "top ten" list of "best of" lists.
BEST OF 2007
- Best Movie Seen in a Movie Theater: "The Simpsons Movie"
- Best Movie Seen Anywhere: "Breach"
- Best Album Heard: "Sam's Town" by The Killers
- Best Book Read:
- Best County Visited: Pike County, Indiana.
- Best Restaurant:
Because it was the only movie I saw in a theater all year. But aside from that, I still thought it was pretty good. I consider myself a pretty big fan of "The Simpsons," although I haven't seen a new episode in over three years, thanks to my giving up Sunday television. But I don't really think I'm missing much, since the last episodes I saw had lost their objectivity and consistently mocked only one viewpoint. Remember the episode where Apu is found out to be an illegal immigrant and Marge says, "His only crime is breaking federal law"? Or the episode where the mall excavation turns up and angel skeleton and it's not just religionists who are mocked, but Lisa's militant skepticism, too? That type of even-handedness has been jettisoned in favor of whole episodes opposing the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. Anyway, the movie turned out to be better than I thought it would be. I look forward to the DVD.
I might have seen a better one this year; I'm not really sure. "Spiderman 3" was pretty good, but long and not as good as "Spiderman 2." Anyway, I remember "Breach" being good, so it makes the list. We were surprised at how little action was in the movie, but that is more like real life. Spies don't typically blow up the Kremlin or steal a supersonic plane from the Soviets while having Nam flashbacks. They make photocopies and send them through the mail. Ooooh, espionage! You make my pants fit funny!
Okay, I know this album is from last year, but it's the most-recent album I own. However, I have reason to believe I am getting the new albums from The Hives and from The Killers for Christmas this year. Also, I have not yet heard any of the new stuff from The Rentals.
I can't remember right now.
Because we missed it last year. While driving back from my grandmother's funeral in Pittsburgh, I let my brother drive and I slept in the passenger seat. He missed the exit before I could wake up, so we didn't get Pike County. This year on the way back from Richmond, Virginia, we made sure we got it.
All right, here's the thing about "best of" lists: you have to have a lot of opinions about meaningless crap. I don't care which restaurant is best. It depends on what type of food I like and how rich I feel. So maybe this list was a bad idea. But it took a lot of work time, which is always a good thing.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
From an article about student protests at University of New Mexico over the cost of birth control:
Restoring the funds will reduce the squeeze on cash-strapped students, added Ambrosia Ortiz.
"So they don't have to make a choice between their birth control and their cell phone bill or their birth control and their gym membership and their birth control," Ortiz said. "These are choices women that women shouldn't have to make."
"Birth control should be very affordable."
I can’t make this crap up. I especially like how the last decision is a three-parter:
- birth control
- gym membership
- birth control
I feel like Deb trying to pick the perfect wig for Napoleon: “There’re just so many options!”
Maybe if these chicks would let their gym memberships lapse the fatties wouldn’t need so much birth control. Hey oh!
You know, I can honestly say that every time Cynthia McKinney's name has come up at home, I've said to Persephone, "That is one classy lady." But what made me laugh today was when I read in a news article that McKinney, who has moved to California, has a group of whack-jobs trying to get her to run for president on the Green Party ticket. Because the Green Party has gravitas to burn, evidently. If I were in charge of the group, I would call it "Run, Cynthia!" meaning I am commanding a woman named Cynthia to run. This group, however, is called "Run! Cynthia!" like what people yell when Godzilla is spotted downtown. "Run! Godzilla!" Knowing Cynthia McKinney, however, (did I mention how classy she is?), I don't know that the name is an accident.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Today a co-worker said to me: "Why do they keep sending you out of town? I mean, no offense, but you caused problems when they sent you to New Mexico, you caused problems when they sent you to Columbia, you caused problems when they were supposed to send you to San Diego. I mean, I guess that's cool for you because you get to travel, but they should just stop sending you places."
Two weeks ago he said: "What do you do here? How do you pass your performance reviews? Have you been here long enough to have a performance review? How did you pass it? What do you do?"
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Remember the movie "Josie and the Pussycats," which is one of my wife's secret all-time favorite movies, how there is a group of girls who spend the whole movie saying, "[color] is the new [color]!"? One time in class we were renumbering problems on a homework assignment and I the girl next to me asked for clarification, so I said, "Two is the new three," and she said, "Oh, you speak my language!" Which was funny because we are friends. If we weren't friends, I would probably tell this story in a mocking fashion.
Anyway, The Beach Club at Jimmy John's is the new Italian Night Club, at least in my opinion. Although, just like how the Italian Night Club can be sabotaged by an overzealous application of hot peppers, the Beach Club can be overpowered by alfalfa spouts if used too liberally. But while the hot peppers are extra on the Italian Night Club, the sprouts are gratis (or, as they say in Spain, "gratis").
And I'll tell you something else: there is a difference between the bulk candy Swedish Fish I buy at The Palace (the local card and gift shop down the block from my work) and the Swedish Fish I buy in a box at Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee. I almost don't want to buy candy at The Palace anymore, but I have to because work is so incredibly boring so often.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
We mark the anniversary of when my wife and kids flew into Kansas to live here with me. I drove all our stuff here on September 2, but they didn't arrive until September 14, which is now our family holiday.
Well, we're about to get another family holiday as soon as Articulate Joe craps in the toilet. We keep talking it up, adding more exciting things to try to entice him to not run for a corner (or a closet). As of today, his holiday will include a parade, musical instruments, supper of his choice (current front-runner: Little Caesar's), games, and traffic cones made of construction paper than can be worn as hats or placed on the ground.
What he doesn't know is that I envision a continual holiday, with each year being more embarrassing for him as we commemorate the anniversary of his pooping on the potty. We can have some of Rachel's "gorilla poop" cookies folded up in little paper diapers. We can give him rolls of toilet paper for presents. Eventually he will appreciate how much fun it is, I think.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I’ve got no business writing a blog. Nothing exciting happens. Not even anything interesting. For instance:
I woke up this morning at five, then lay in bed for until 5:10, then dressed in the dark and went downstairs to do my math homework. I did the first half, then took a break to eat some breakfast (Cinnamon Life), then finished my math homework. Then it was seven, and I had a half-hour until I had to leave for school. So I went upstairs and got back in bed, hoping my wife would wake up and I could tell her that it was 24 degrees and she would drive me to school, but she was virtually passed out, so I got out of bed and went back downstairs, then got on my bike and rode to school. I went to my first class (Calculus II: Son of Calculus) and there was a rolled up projection screen laying across the seat I usually use, so I had to sit on the other side of the room. I took pretty good notes (because I could understand the crap today), then class ended and I asked the instructor how to do a particular problem. The answer was very simple, which made me look like a fool. (One time I went to her during office hours with a different very easy question. I think she thinks I’m retarded.) Then, on my way to my next class, I stopped by the records office and dropped Economics 700, which makes me a quitter, but a quitter with a higher GPA. Then I went to Economics 640 and did the Crypto-Quip and half the crossword puzzle before class began. The lecture was on stuff I learned last year in 582, so I didn’t have to pay that much attention. Then my next class, Economics 630, is in the same classroom, so I just stayed in my seat and finished the crossword and then did the Sudoku before class started. I helped heckle the teacher some (when he made a simple math mistake on the board I said, “That’s 20 points off”) and then when class ended, instead of staying in my seat (again) for 700, I got my stuff and left. It was a sort of Walk of Shame as I passed all my former classmates waiting in the hallway. I went to the library, checked out a laptop, and wrote the editorial board story for Friday (Ward Churchill “teaching” again at Colorado is no big deal), then rode my bike to work, where I’ve been trying to become motivated for a long time now.
Future plans: sit at work until five, then ride my bike down to the community building and watch my daughter’s final dance class, then put the bike on the back of the car and go home with my family, eat supper, read Thomas the Tank Engine and Farmer Boy, put our kids to bed, take a shower, file some papers I have sitting on my desk, run some genealogy names through IGI, and, let’s face it, maybe [REDACTED ON INSISTENCE OF MY WIFE].
Such excitement! I can’t understand why I don’t have ten blogs, each more kick-ass than the one before!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
A guy comes out of his house and notices a neighbor kid laughing at him. The guy continues on his way and the kid keeps laughing at him. The guy goes over to the kid and says, "What's so funny?" The kid says, "Well, last night I was looking out my window and I saw you and your wife having sex." The guy says, "The joke's on you, kid; I wasn't even home last night!"
I love that joke.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I have two classes right now with the same professor. One of them is an undergraduate course and the other is a graduate course. In both classes he is just as incompetent, but the graduate students maintain a little more decorum. The undergrads, however, have been revolting for a few weeks now. One kid, Alex, yells at the professor. A lot. When the professor writes something wrong on the board (which he often does), some of the students say, "If I would have done that on my homework you would have taken off twenty points."
Anyway, I went in to see the guy today to drop out of the grad class and take it again next year, since I have to be here that long, anyway. He told me he might not teach the course next year because a different professor is the usual instructor. So when I got to work I looked up both of them on ratemyprofessor.com. It turns out the only professor in the entire department who is rated lower than my current instructor is the other guy who usually teaches the class.
But the real point here is that, no matter what the problem is, quitting is always the answer.
Friday, November 02, 2007
I love Wikipedia. Today I looked up "earwax" (it turns out Asians have different earwax than whites and blacks), and using only the links to related articles at the bottom of each page, I ended up reading about Principality of Hutt River, a ranch in Western Australia whose owner declared its independence in 1970 and has basically, it seems, gotten the Australian government to agree that, in principle, he's right. He issues his own money and stamps and Australian courts have ruled they are valid, and it seems like he doesn't pay taxes, either.
When watching baseball, if you have to pee, hold it. If the half-inning is short, you can go while the teams switch places, and if the half-inning is long, you can go while they bring in the new pitcher. But if you're watching football, you don't want to hold it because eventually you won't be able to hold it any longer and when you go between plays you will have saved up so much urine that it will take you longer than 30 seconds, so you'll miss the next play. In that case, the best thing to do is to go during the huddle as soon as you realize you have a need.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
I have a moustache today. My wife hates it when I grow a moustache, but I think it looks great. Here are my reasons:
1. It's so expressive. As I tried explaining to my wife a few years ago (in defense if another moustache effort), it's like a third eyebrow.
2. It's my way of giving back to the community. Everyone who sees it smiles, so it's like a tiny present I've given him to brighten his day. My wife said, "They smile because they are laughing at you." I said, "What do I care?" She actually said, "You've got a wife and kids to think about."
3. It makes me funnier. Everything I say is hilarious when I say it with a moustache on my face.
But my wife, who responds to the name Kill-Joy, said, "No one but Justin would think it looks good, because no one else would know you are joking." So there you have it: my wife thinks Justin has a thing for dudes with moustaches. I don't really see how you can draw any other conclusion from what she said. It's like night following day (or is it day following night, which also happens a lot?). But any way you look at it, my moustache is fabulous.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This post probably won't end up being about work, but I'll leave the title alone because that's how I feel.
Today is Halloween. I'm dressed up as nothing, because I am an adult. My children are a giant Candy Corn and a UPS man. Last year they were a bumblebee (I think) and a Red Sox player. The year before they were a ladybug and a dinosaur. Before that they were a princess and a fish. Before that we only had one kid and she was a peacock. And before that she was a sweat pea.
Halloween is the stupidest event of the year. I immediately lose all respect for anyone who says Halloween is her (it's only women, for some reason) favorite "holiday." Calling Halloween a holiday probably makes Jesus spin in His grave.
Other things that make me discount people as morons: smoking, swearing, having visible tattoos, placing sports bets, taking pride in an "I was so drunk" story, or talking loudly about how expensive something was (as opposed to how cheap something was, which is acceptable.)
True story about a drunk girl: I went to class last year and the girl in front of me smelled (I thought) like beer, but I wasn't sure because I don't spend a whole lot of time around the stuff. Another girl came in and sat next to the first one and the first one started up her, "OMG, I was out so late last night and got so wasted!" story. The second one asked, "Have you showered?" The first said, "No, why?" And the second said, "Because you smell like alcohol." Ha ha! A joke at a the alcoholic's expense! However, the alcoholic is a really nice girl and every time I see her around campus and talk to her, I feel bad that I think this story is funny. Which is why it's a good thing she's spending this semester in Europe, so I won't have to see her and I can just enjoy the story without any shame.
Well, I'm just about out of stuff to say, so let me just end with a list of movies that I thought were cool when I was a kid because I didn't understand them but I was certain they were cool, but now that I'm older and understand them, I now see them as the stupid movies they always were:
4. Reservoir Dogs
2. Pulp Fiction
1. E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I have a blog because I was suckered into it by my wife, who was suckered into it by her friend Angela. Persephone tried to register to comment on Angela's blog and, viola!, she had her own blog. Same thing happened to me.
I have a MySpace page because I wanted to send an e-mail to a friend of mine who had a MySpace page. The thing is, he never even responded. I think I am probably the world's oldest man on MySpace.
Now I might end up having to get a Facebook page. Here's why: there's a cartoon in the Daily Kansan called "Jimmy Bates and Triangle," which is hilarious. I e-mailed the guy who draws it to tell him so. He responded and thanked me, but sent me a link to a group of people who hate the comic. When I clicked on the link, it's a Facebook group and I have to log in to see it.
My social website presences are sad because they point out the obvious: I have no friends. I have probably two regular blog readers, and I have a group of about five people who've been shamed into visiting my blog haphazardly. My MySpace page has only something like 10 friends, and two of those friends never respond when I write to them. Now I'll have a Facebook account and no "friends" or whatever they call it on their site.
To show just how few friends I have, my children freaked out last night because I had a friend over for dinner. He's a guy who used to work in my office, but now he's moved to New Mexico and works for us down there. He was back in town this weekend for meetings, so I invited him over if he wanted to eat with us. Persephone said the kids were bouncing all over the place because "Daddy's friend was coming!" They probably had no idea I even had friends until they saw this guy walk through our door last night.
At least my kids are my friends, but I know that won't last forever. When we listen to the Cheap Trick song "Surrender," Crazy Jane always asks, "Why are his mommy and daddy a little weird?" I say, "That's what happens when you get older; you think your parents are weird." She says, "I won't think you're weird when I grow up." But what she doesn't know is that she definitely will.
She's five now, which means we've only got half-a-dozen years, at most. I read an article today in the Washington Post about 11 year-olds wearing whore Halloween costumes and their parents trying to stop them. Within five years Crazy Jane will say, "Why can't I wear this Harem Girl costume?! At least I'm going to wear a costume; Ashleigheeeyeiegh is going to the Halloween party naked and telling everyone she's dressed as a baby!"
Monday, October 29, 2007
So I said to my wife last night, "Congratulations on your team winning. I hope you don't win again for 86 years, sucker."
She said, "Well, it's not like I'm a bandwagon fan."
I said, "My poor team. Nineteen-seventy-nine was so long ago. I can't believe we're going to tie the Philadelphia Phillies for most consecutive losing seasons."
Also, I realized last night that they've never had a World Series that didn't have at least one of the "classic" sixteen franchises in it.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
So here are some photos that will shock you. Maybe not as much as Articulate Joe here, but some. Although this free-range Utard cow doesn't look too shocked, so who knows what your response will be.
We were driving along a state highway and saw a sign telling us to watch out for cows standing in the road. Not too much longer along we came across this cow standing in the median, waiting for a really nice car to step in front of so he can collect a lot of insurance money. What you can't see is the neck brace he had stashed behind a bush. When we crossed into Nevada, the warning signs replaced the placid cow outline with a charging bull outline, but everything's a little edgier in Nevada.
Have you ever driven through a small town and asked yourself, "I wonder how many gays they've got here?" Well, this town in Illinois we drove through lets you know right up front that they've got 300 of them.
Or maybe you've said, "What this parking lot needs is about eight more stop signs." Look no further. Or farther. Or BOTH!
Because here they are, in another part of the same parking lot.
Another rural Illinois town might not quite understand the rules of apostrophe usage (who does these days, with honest-to-goodness high school text books telling students you can write things like Rodriguez'), but they understand how they feel about the most wonderful woman in the history of the world (according to the hired goons she sent to my house when she learned I was mentioning her in a blog post).
Perhaps you've thought, "What are the chances that my non-profit organization will be allowed to make its own license plates?" If you live in Missouri, your chances are pretty high. Or, if you want, you can get two states in on the game, like this bus agency did:
Of course, don't forget Shakespeare's comments on beards: "He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man."
This guy has both a beard and a Hummer; he must be way more than a man (or mayhaps he be much less than a boy?)
When I worked at Triple-A and things would get slow, I'd read some of the guide books we handed out to customers. That was where I read this about my sister-in-law's hometown, Kirksville, MO:
Kirksville was named for Jesse Kirk, who exchanged a turkey dinner for the right to name the town after himself.You can't make that crap up. Later I read this about Marysville, KS, and I knew we had to go there:
Marysville, known as the "Black Squirrel City," is one of few known spots in the country in which the black squirrel lives in the wild. The squirrels first came to the city in 1912 as part of a carnival's sideshow to entertain a group of Civil War veterans. Some local youngsters released the squirrels, which scampered from their cages to freedom in the city park, where their descendants still frolic.I don't know about "frolic," but here's one sitting still.
Persephone had to work with the squirrel a lot to get him to pose for us so well. He was waiting to hear about a part he'd gotten a call-back for, so he kept taking calls from his agent.And now for a fat guy pretending to lick a sign:
Friday, October 26, 2007
Deseret News comes through with this beauty of a quotation:
"It's too bad that all of the media in Utah are liars and murderers," he said. "You just destroyed the greatest computer company of all time. We were the best in the world, the world champion. All this hatred was created by you. You're basically angels of Satan. All I can say to the people in Utah is, please pray for all the news people."
So because I am at work right now I’m passing the time reading this guy’s blog posting about Super Dell and Totally Awesome Computers. Besides the weird rantings of Super Dell in the comments section, the strangest part of it was when I would get to a comment posted by a guy named “Brandon Mansfield” and I thought, “That’s my name!” Then I realized it wasn’t, and I kept reading until the next Brandon Mansfield comment when I would again think, “That’s my name!”
And yes, by virtue of the fact that I intentionally opened Google to search for “Totally Awesome Computers,” I have established myself as the most bored man on earth.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This post has nothing to do with Wayne Brady, Willard Scott, or Malcolm-X, but I love that quote from "Chappelle's Show." It makes me laugh every time I think of it. Like a guy I work with who laughs anytime someone says, "A bag of walnuts."
Really, I have nothing to say right now, but work is so boring that I can't bring myself to end this. So here's some useless information.
STADIA WHERE I'VE SEEN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYED
Three Rivers Stadium
Milwaukee County Stadium
Jack Murphy Stadium
Busch Stadium (the new one)
STADIA I'VE SEEN FROM THE OUTSIDE
Bank One Ballpark
Comiskey Park (the new one)
Robert F. Kennedy Stadium
Busch Stadium (the old one)
Skydome (I went inside it, but not during a baseball game)
Here's my problem with current baseball stadia naming convention. It doesn't matter what fly-by-night company currently owns the naming rights to Jack Murphy Stadium; I can always call it by its original name. But what am I supposed to call Bank One Ballpark now that it's called something else? It never had a regular name.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I slept in my clothes last night. For about two hours.
I was at the library until four when I decided that what I needed was to go to Burger King and get some food, and then keep studying at home. When I got to Burger King they told me they were closed for the next ten minutes (evidently "Open 24 Hours" really means "Open from 4:05 AM to 3:55 AM") and when they reopened they would be in breakfast mode. So I went next door to McDonald's, where they were open but only taking cash and only serving breakfast. So I went to Hy-Vee and bought some microwave burritos. I came home and ate them and studied, then went to bed to take a break. Persephone woke me up at seven and I talked her into letting me sleep until seven-thirty and then driving me to school, which she did, because she knows what side her bread's buttered on. So she and the kids drove me to school. Luckily, I showered and changed clothes last night before I went to the library, so I wasn't too stinky. But let me tell you about the burps those burritos caused! Boy howdy! They were massive!