Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Fire and brimstone

Sorry if I sounded preachy yesterday. I try not to. I just know that no one group has all the answers and that's the bottom line.

Ugh. Focus is not happy. I changed her main belt a few months ago and she developed a squeal when you crank her. I changed the belt tensioner two days ago but it didn't help. I bought a new belt from NAPA this morning so hopefully that'll do the trick. It doesn't really hurt anything it just sounds dreadful and I don't want it to happen this weekend in front of all the other autocrossers.

J made chicken pot pie for dinner last night. It was delicious.

We're still keeping Foxy and Leon separated during the day because Foxy still has some worms and we want both cats worm free.

Ah, a HUGE thanks to Random Movie Club and Dawn for sending out a special treat to its loyal readers. I received a Random Movie Club magnet and a Starbucks card! Hooray!

I want to advertise this blog and make it more famous but I don't want to at the exact same time. Right now more can go wrong than right, so we'll just keep this between you and I.

I will be taking my camera to the Doublecross this weekend in Atlanta. I will wash Focus beforehand. We have to put lots of stickers on our cars for this event. It's part of the national tour which has sponsors so I'll be driving a small billboard around the parking lot this weekend.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Watch out!

So Paris is out of jail. I'm not sure I've ever seen her without makeup. Either they have good makeup in prison now or she looks good without it. Either way, glad you're out Paris and lets try and drive sober from now on. I'm sure you can afford a chauffeur or a cab, so put those numbers in your Iphone.

How do I know she has an Iphone? Because it just came out and it's cool. And yes I want one too but not really. The fees they charge to surf the net and IM and all that good stuff is outrageous. Yeah I'm talking about you AT&T. And yes you'll get your money from my wife and I this month too. I really want to try Working Assets Wireless. They use Sprint's service and claim to donate some of the profits to worthy causes. The subject needs some more research definitely.

Let me tell you about a little film my wife and I watched last night. Two actually. We finally watched Raging Bull. Pretty good and it's comforting seeing alot of the same cast pop up in Marty's movies from time to time. DeNiro, Pesci, Moriarty and Vincent all did an amazing job and I'm glad I finally caught it and only 27 years after its release.

The other one we watched was a film called The F Word. It is written and directed by Jed Weintrob. The premise is Joe Pace (played by Josh Hamilton) is being taken off the air by the FCC for racking up $1 million in fines. His last day on KPOL coincides with the last day of the Republican National Convention, so Joe takes to the streets for some interviews instead of sitting in the studio sulking and reminiscing. It's supposed to look like a documentary and they toss in some actual protesters along with the actor's performances. What I really liked about it was that it showed all sides. It even ran into some Conservative protesters who were being abused verbally and even physically a bit. I would HIGHLY recommend this movie to anyone, as long as they don't mind some strong language. "Fuck the FCC" is mentioned a few times because they suck, are awful and really only cater to people who like to complain.

The impression I was left with most was how strong and awful hate is. True hate. It helps nothing and yet is such an easily accessible human emotion. J asked if I hate Bush. I don't honestly. I'm not a fan of his administration and the Supreme Court Justices he appointed REALLY scare me, but I don't hate him. He's just a cokehead C student who came out of the right vagina at the right place and time. He's a figurehead. Do you really think ol' Dubya makes any decision by himself?

Hate won't solve anything. Being open-minded, listening and willing to compromise are the only things that are going to take this country forward. Taking a genuine interest in the people behind the ideas and hearing about how they formed their opinions and why they feel the way they do.

I just figured out that one scene that was making me angry was actually two actors. A "construction worker (Michael Tenaglia)" was getting a hot dog and talking about why the Republicans suck and then a "businessman (J. Richey Nash)" piped up from behind and defended them some and then Michael started saying that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans really have it right so he voted for Nader. At which point the "Republican businessman" thanked him because any vote for Nader was a vote for Bush. That's what really sent me over the edge. But horrifically this country still has been duped into thinking that only the big 2 parties have the answers. They don't. They think they do and they're going to pump money everywhere to make sure they have a chance but nothing will ever change unless we get enough people to lose faith in those 2 parties. Take Dennis Kucinich. He would make a great Independent or maybe even Green party candidate but he would get exactly ZERO national exposure if he ran on either of those tickets, so he's trying to become the Democratic presidential candidate. Both he and I know that won't happen next year, but he has made some supporters off of his national TV exposure and getting his name out there, and all that happened because he tossed his hat in the Democrat ring.

J wanted to know who abortion hurts besides the baby, the mother and Jesus? In The F Word, there were some pro-choice marchers and some pro-lifers. They didn't get much airtime but were there.

Extremes never work. This country will not be happy with either extreme. We need some open dialog and discussion and for people to start taking some responsibility back.

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Monday, June 25, 2007


So little to do, so much time to do it in.

Oops, reverse that.

I didn't tell you on Friday that we picked up a new kitten on Thurs. because I didn't have pics yet. So you ready? Are you sure? Maybe you should check out just to gear yourself up for the onslaught of the Cute.

We named her Foxy. I'm taking them both to the vet at 9:45 am today, so we're not 100% certain of her gender but we're thinking she's a she. She had 2 types of worms. One is already cleared up and the other has a few more days of medicine before they're wiped out.

I'm presenting in group meeting today so I'll be working on that. Hopefully the trip to the vet is short so I can get back to work quickly. Leon and Foxy hissed at each other a bit but Leon is used to her by now.

The new place is coming along. Some shelves are up, some pictures, just a little more and it'll be done.

Ready? Here we go.

You can click on my Flickr badge over there if you want to check out my tiny vegetables and more cat/kitten pics.

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Friday, June 22, 2007


Inferiority complex

You may or may not know that our group grows crystals. We use a technique that usually renders a much higher quality crystal than others, specifically hydrothermal vs. melt techniques. It isn't the best or fastest way to grow them but we can grow compounds that no one else can.

We're very happy with nice pretty crystals that range in size from 1-10 mm. Yeah, millimeters. Then if they have interesting properties and someone wants a larger one, we can do that. But even then we're only talking about a few centimeters. The largest single crystal I've seen is a quartz crystal grown by Bell Labs and it was about 10 inches long and several inches thick. Huge by our crystal growing standards. However time and time again, Mother Nature has to show up and prove she's the baddest bitch on the block. Check out the crystals that she grew.

Damn. Damn damn. The first official scientific expedition went into the Crystal Cave of the Giants in the Naica Mine in Naica mountain in the Chihuahua state of Mexico. We're already planning a field trip. No we weren't invited on the first expedition. They chose spelunkers and geologists from all over the world, but not us crystal growers. Maybe next time. You can check out the blog of the expedition here. We're still waiting for that final report. Maybe they're waiting to publish it in a journal rather than a blog. The only problem is that the humidity and 60 degrees Celsius (136 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature inside the cave make it an inhospitable environment for humans but obviously the crystals can't get enough. The crystals, if you were wondering, are gypsum, or calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4ยท2H2O.

Here are a few other websites discussing La Cueva de los Cristales:
Crystallinks page
Official National Geographic page with the best quality pics
Giant Crystal Project website

I also found this interesting. I got it from Cynical Chris who got it from Information Aesthetics who got it from Strangemaps.

It's a map of the USA with each state renamed for the country that its GDP most resembles. So if you live in Cali, then your state has the same GDP as France and over here in SC, we are comparable with Singapore. Other notables, Alabama is on par with Iran and J's home state actually coincides with the country where she was born, Florida. Although next time I'm in Iran, I probably won't start the conversation with "Hey, my state which is near the bottom of the US in most statistics has the same GDP as your whole country!"

Sure we have more money than most of the rest of the world but we pay for it. Hey, you in Costa Rica, how much do you pay for papaya? I paid $1 and it was on sale from $2. I pay $1 per mango. Oranges are $0.69 a piece. Sure we make more money but our cost of living is also much much higher than most of those countries. So to all the hopeful immigrants, just take a second and appreciate your local market with its fresh fruit, fresh meat and its relatively low prices before jumping on that boat or into the back of that van.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


RIP Li Zhao

On Monday, June 11, 2007 Li Zhao lost her long hard fight with cancer at the tender age of 37. This was written by Michiko Katsuhito about Li:
Li faced the ultimate grim end with courage. She didn't shed one tear, nor did she lament her circumstances. Once she compared living to a candle's flame. A lot of attention is placed on the ornament and design of the candle when the real beauty is the flame itself. In people its only when the flame of life is extinguished do we see the candle for what it really is, and however beautiful the design, it is never as able to illuminate like the flame in its full glow.

She will surely be missed. If you would like to express your condolences please visit Archie Summers, Michiko Katsuhito, Adam Narcross, Richard Everest, Alexander Earl Li Zhao Yoriki Matuoko, Susannah Davenport and Lord Els Gray at Lone Sloan Delirius.

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This is the end, my only friend, the end.

Not really but I heard Jim and the Doors singing that the other day and it's a good one.

Facebook is great. A couple classmates from high school found my friend Emily who told me about it and now I'm slowly adding them as friends. It's cool to find out what people have been up to since technically this is my 10 year reunion (graduated from Santiago Christian School in 1997). I think there was talk of a class reunion and that would be lots of fun but I would like to get out of school, get a real job and pay down some of our school loan debt first.

Does anyone watch Cathouse on HBO? J was commenting that she doesn't know anyone else that watches it. It's such an interesting premise and an environment that most people never get to experience. The show focuses on the working girls of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch. Ah, apparently it's Moonlite. Ok. But it's just so amazing. The girls seem happy and seem to enjoy their jobs. There is drama and some catfights but for the most part it's a business and they have a product to sell. Depending on your feelings towards prostitution you may or may not like the idea of legal brothels. Don't worry, as far as I know they only exist in one county in Nevada, but I believe it is how prostitution should be treated everywhere. Condom use is mandatory, STD testing is mandatory, girls are licensed by the county and the business pays its taxes. J always asks me if I would ever go to a hooker. If I wasn't married, hadn't had sex in at least a couple months, had some money burning a hole in my pocket and was in Nevada, then yes, I would go to a brothel and pay someone to have sex with me. Sad? Maybe but it is the world's oldest profession.

I think I had another topic to discuss but I can't remember it. My Bob Harris Jeopardy book is pretty interesting. He deals with how memory works a bit much for my taste but he's the one who has studied it and won thousands of dollars on the show, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

We might get another cat tonight. We called our vet and he told us of a lady in Liberty (small town about 20 min. away) that had some female kittens for adoption and they're 9 weeks old. Perfect. Then my co-worker mentioned how you can't just drop off the new cat in the house and expect everyone to be buddy-buddy. He said you should keep them in separate parts of the house and let them smell each other under the door and then you can let them out for an hour or so and then separate them again. It really worked wonders when he introduced his 3rd cat to the other two. So I'll do some research on it and figure out the best plan of action.

I have the cutest green bell pepper growing in my backyard. I'll try and snap a pic.

We hopefully will be sharing a cable connection wirelessly with a neighbor but I couldn't get it to work last night. Maybe he'll know what's going on.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Prisoner of Trebekistan

I stumbled across Bob Harris' blog yesterday. He had a post about the Sopranos final episode that received 80,000 hits in 2 days, linked by the I think his name is Scott who runs it. But it turns out that Bob Harris was on Jeopardy and went a bit crazy while studying for the show. It also has a few tips on predicting categories and where the Daily Double is, and since I would love to go on Jeopardy and put some of this useless knowledge to work for me. I'll let you know how it turns out, and what sort of secret insider info it contains.

I googled myself just now (ewwwwwww) and found that I have not shared this story. The setting is junior year of undergrad, coming home from China-Mart or something else driving my 1993 Saturn SL2, 5 speed of course. Her name was Clio after the Renault car of the same name, but the Frenchies Clio is much much faster than mine was.

I'm driving along, take a left onto campus, roll up to the stop sign, don't really feel like completely stopping since it's late and there isn't much traffic (I know officer, that isn't an excuse), and roll through the stop sign. I look to my right and see a "Pinky" as my dad calls them because when he went there the writing on the car was in pink or something, but it's a campus cop in his early 90's Jeep Cherokee and since it isn't a real cop car it has the yellow roof lights.

Crap I think to myself, but he hasn't flipped on his lights yet. Maybe I'm good? I come to a complete stop at the next intersection and turn left. And I drop the hammer. His lights aren't on so maybe I can get away from him, I think to myself. I get about 150 yards from his Jeep and then he flips on the lights. I take a quick right (and in 20/20 retrospect I should've pulled into a parking space after the right and duck down, that was my only real hope of pulling this off) and punch it again. He's still back there but I'm gaining some ground. Another right and back down the hill. Blow through a stop sign (but look around to make sure there weren't any other cars or people, I'm not adding hit & run or manslaughter charges today) and make my way towards the main entrance. The thought that is stuck in my head is "If I can just get off campus, then I'm home free". Flying over speed bumps, the Jeep pulls up along side me (in the oncoming traffic lane) and then I take a quick right towards the main entrance, slow down for the turn, look for oncoming traffic and then pull onto Lakeshore (main road by campus) and he keeps following me. Fuck. My stupid theory didn't pan out. So I slow down and turn back onto campus. I pull into a parking spot and hop out of the car with license, registration and student ID in hand. He gives me this look like "what the hell were you doing?" and I just keep quiet and keep my trademark smirk on my face.

At this point I have no idea what's going to happen to me. I'm actually hoping he'll hit me so I can get out of this or at least get him in trouble too. But he keeps his cool and waits for back-up, which turns out to be the only real cop on the "force". He gets there and he said he was about to call in the real police for back-up. Phew, at least I kept it on campus. He asks why I run (ran the stop sign and obviously wasn't actually thinking), if I had any drugs or alcohol in the car (it's a dry campus). Nope but he can check if he wants. He doesn't and they write me a ticket for running the stop sign and then another one for running from them. Oh, the first guy also said he didn't think Saturns could go that fast. Honestly that almost made it all worth it. And for anyone wondering, this was before I cared about cars and before I autocrossed, so maybe that is a health outlet for driving aggression?

So what ultimately happened to me? Not too much. Went before the "values violation" board, explained the situation, and they hit me with probation for a semester and I could only park on campus right near the guard shack near entrance to campus. A good hike back to my dorm on the other side of campus. But I felt I could get away with parking on campus a few times. I couldn't and 2 car boots later, I can't park on campus anymore and probation is extended to a year. No biggie, I'm moving off campus that summer and I know of a couple back entrances to where I need to go on campus than most on campus parking.

I learned my "don't run from the cops" lesson and my criminal record is still spotless. I love college.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Dad, you're out of shape even for an American.

Lisa to Homer, both Simpson

You know how the media love a good tragedy. And if it involves an attractive white lady, all the better. Well sometimes they cover other "news" at the expense of a heart breaking missing persons story. The current white lady in the "news" overshadowed the case of Stepha Henry, a 22 year old recent college grad who was well on her way to law school, vanished from Peppers nightclub in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Transcript from Greta Van Sustern's interview with Stepha's parents

Miami Herald article

Story about how MSNBC dropped the story to cover the current white lady in distress.

I'm shocked by this because I had no idea. Hadn't heard about it on the radio or the internet and that isn't right. The sooner info gets out about the missing, the better. But the info can't get out if the airwaves are clogged with pointless drivel.

I miss independent media. At least we have the internet to help out the little guys. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Henry family.

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Monday, June 18, 2007


Belt squeal

Focus' accessory belt is still squealing. The guy sent me the wrong part, but I assume he's going to work with me to replace it. I knew it looked like the wrong part.

Leon finally calmed down and is now right at home, chasing his spongy soccer balls and trying to get out the door.

There is still a good trip or two worth of stuff at the old place but we still need to paint and clean, so we're in no hurry to get it completely empty.

We went washer and dryer shopping yesterday. We really want the fancy pants front loaders because then if the TV goes out, you can watch your clothes flail about; plus they use less water and are gentler on your clothes. I need to research washer and dryers a bit on ye olde internet before we start swiping plastic cards though.

Our 5 year first date anniversary is coming up on Fri. I'm not sure what we're planning on doing to commemorate it.

I came to the conclusion that I would rather not buy a new digicam and buy a big TV. But the TV we want is still a bit out of our price range, so J might get her new pink camera soon enough.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007



I'm loving the bamboo in the backyard and can't wait to break out the mini-saw and get medieval on that fallen tree's ass.

I'm hating the dirt at the bottom of all the windows left by my property management and previous tenants.

Leon is freaked out. He barely leaves the safety of the twin bed's box spring. But his tail is slowing coming up, so he'll get used to it.

Thanks to the neighbor for the internet.

Moving sucked and I think we have enough empty boxes now to completely clear the old apartment out.

The new non-Tivo DirecTV DVR is installed. I paid nothing, got some "free" programming and it's not a horrible deal. Plus I hate our local cable co.

We still haven't made a meal here yet but that'll soon change.

If we have internet, I'll catch you, my loyal readers, up on the past two races in this year's F1 season.


Friday, June 15, 2007


Think intergalactically. Act interplanetary.

That's a bumper sticker from one of my favorite shows. It takes place in the future and is contains some drama.

I moved the first load of stuff over to the new place before work this morning. Basically it was one less trip that we would have to do later and would also give me a chance to make any final demands of the property management people. Yep the old tenants couches and bed frame and desk and coffee table are still there. Great. Oh, and our keys don't work on the deadbolt. Nice. So I ran back by and let them know that they can leave the microwave (I hope it's clean and works) but get the rest of that junk out of my apartment!

I'm not sure what Leon is thinking. He might start freaking out as the apartment gets emptier and emptier but I assured him that we're taking him with us and to not be worried. And he'll be getting a new sister soon, but that'll happen once we get settled.

Oh! As I was leaving there were 2 old doormats laying on the stoop. We have at least one so I threw one of them in the trash. This doormat was either hiding a wasp or was in a relationship with a wasp because it came out of nowhere and stung my calf. Luckily only once and it's a dull pain but I'm still not allergic to bees! Hooray! My leg hurts and I can't remember the last time I was stung by anything, but it's always nice to know that it won't kill me. I guess that means it'll make me stronger but my leg disagrees with that stupid saying.

I can't wait to get the plants over to the new place and get the backyard under control. There is a downed tree but the bamboo that is growing there is gorgeous! It's like a Chinese jungle. All I need are a few panda and I'll be set. There will definitely be pics once everything is up to J's lofty standards. I have standards too but usually hers are higher.

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What else is going on?

I just made my list of around the house projects that I would like to get done this week and into the weekend. I won't get into it. One is finish painting my helmet for the autocross this Saturday. It's south of ATL at their NASCAR track, the Atlanta Motor Speedway. They have some nice huge lots and the first car isn't off until 7 pm, so we'll be racing under the lights. Should be lots of fun.

But what else is going on in Blogland? We'll start with the good news first:
Our dear Waiter over at Waiterrant turned in his manuscript for his book. Congrats!

Even bigger news is that Rob the Bouncer's book is out! Hooray! Way to go Rob! Standing on the Box was one of the first blogs I got hooked on and he transformed his pseudo success into a real book that you can buy at your local bookery! I will definitely have to pick up a copy. I wish I could buy it directly from him and make him a little more money but that isn't how it works these days with agents and publishing companies. So next time I'm in Barnes & Noble, I'll pick up a copy. They better stock it or they'll be hell to pay.

Okay, ready for the bad news? Varla, our favorite vixen, suffered a horrible loss recently. Kyu-Jin has passed away. He leaves behind a loving sister, Anoki, and a loving mother in Varla. We'll miss you.

I'll keep this post up for a bit too, just for Kyu-Jin.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


Why can't you just Focus?

Subaru and I worked on the car yesterday. She has this really annoying chirp of the accessory belt slipping right when you start it up. Sometimes it goes away and sometimes it gets worse and then other times it sounds like there is a team of banshees lighting screaming bottle rockets under my hood. There is also a lower radiator support that has been bent by me on 2 separate occasions. We also had to replace some lug studs because I keep breaking those bad boys. I had some H&R lug studs that were supposedly hardened but I snapped 2 of those and when I called H&R's customer service, the lady (whose name I should've gotten) was decidedly unhelpful. So I turned to ARP (Automotive Racing Products) and picked up some Camaro lug studs that fit Focus. They're pretty long. Long enough so that I had to take the brake caliper off to slip them into the holes whereas the H&R and the OEM studs you can just slip in from behind without removing anything.

Some basic parts that needed replacing, nothing major.

I don't know how I've survived this long without a drill. Well I do know actually. I've just been borrowing the lab's drill and drill bits. But one day I'll have to break down and get my own drill. Maybe cordless if I can get one with enough voltage to be effective. But the thing I dream about as I'm laying on my back wrenching on a bolt is an air compressor with some air tools. The stereotypical garage sound of the impact wrench is what I want emanating from my garage. Bolts would fly off with my air ratchet. I could've busted out a grinder and ground down the piece that was preventing me from slipping the new lug studs through. Toss in a lift, a few thousand more in tools and machines, a welder and some schooling and experience and I'll have a garage capable of most anything. That's the dream. And if I have friends who come over and help out with projects and bring in projects of their own, even better.

The Move keeps getting closer and closer. There are no books left on the main bookcase. The couches have been donated to the Salvation Army. J is bringing home a few more boxes. We still have suitcases and duffel bags for clothes if need be. I'm just hoping all the utilities get turned on tomorrow and that we have a nice strong wireless signal waiting for us.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


RIP Mr. Wizard

Don Hebert, aka Mr. Wizard, lost his battle against multiple myeloma, whic is literally an "oma," or tumor, involving the "myelo," or blood-producing cells in the bone marrow, according to the International Myeloma Foundation.

Mr. Wizard had a popular science show in the 50's and 60's and again on Nickelodeon from 1983 to 1990. He inspired millions of kids to question and think for themselves. I specifically remember him cooking an egg outside using only the power of the sun and taught me how to put my head through a business card. The first exposure to scientific thinking came courtesy of Mr. Wizard and I haven't looked back since. I constantly crave to know why and how things work. More recently Bill Nye and Beakman's World have carried on Mr. Wizards tradition of inspiring children to learn about their world and how it works.

Thank you Don Hebert for your years of service to the scientific community. You will be truly missed.

Mr. Wizard Studios

LA Times article on Don Hebert

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Inside the Green Berets

Did anyone watch that on the National Geographic Channel? It was incredible. Usually film crews only get 48 hours with a unit but this film crew were granted an "unprecedented" 10 days. They were stationed with the Green Berets at Firebase Cobra in Afghanistan. It was really incredible to see what they went through each and everyday from the intense missions to the utter boredom of nightfall. Unfortunately while they were filming, a Hummer was hit by an IED, killing a Green Beret and 2 of the film crew.

I also read about a study published in LiveScience which publishes succinct accounts of published papers. This particular article is about the link between finger length and your SAT scores. If your index finger (pointer finger, that one next to the thumb) is longer than your ring finger then you probably score higher on the verbal section than the math. If your pointer finger is shorter than your ring finger (like me), then you probably scored better in math than in the verbal section. Yep, holds true in my case. So quick, take a peek at your fingers. Is your ring finger or pointer finger longer? Are you more math inclined or verbally inclined (if you don't remember your SAT scores)?

The Move is imminent. Packing will happen tonight. We scored a treasure trove of boxes yesterday.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


How hot was it?

I miss that set up for jokes.

The autocross went well on Saturday. It was hot and I don't see how anyone lives in Columbia on purpose. Our friend in the Evo laid down a 38.8 and I wanted to get into the 39s but could only muster a 40.5. I was co-driving Subaru's Suby and he was able to get down to 40.1, so he redeemed himself after I beat him in his own car at an Atlanta event. Decent course, but the South Carolina's region never has stellar courses. I probably couldn't do any better but I would like to give it a shot. I'll post the link with results whenever they get them up.

I can't believe I haven't remembered this story until now but better late than never I suppose. This took place 2-3 months ago.

Around the bend I come, the same bend I take everyday going and coming home from work, and I see a few kids standing by the side of the road. There are a few families that live around here so nothing new but it's a young boy and two older girls. The young boy is holding a baby wrapped in cloth. He's tickling and laughing with the baby. He moves to cross the street and drops the child! Oh no! I think to myself. Maybe I should stop and make sure everything is okay. When he drops the baby, the kids eyes become dinner saucers as one of the girls rushes over to the baby's side. Then I notice the sheen coming off the baby's head. WTF? Oh, it's a plastic baby! Hahahahaha, excellent at-home Jackass recreation. And I completely bought it for a few fractions of a second. The kids continue their street theatre with some wailing and shouts. As I pass the kids, a huge smile is on my face letting them know I appreciated their performance.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


No you can't go for a DRIVE!

Here in America, and lots of other places, we take things for granted. Being able to shop 24 hrs. a day, either in person or online. Voting for whoever we want. Speaking ill of the President and not vanishing. Sure we all know that there are people in this world who aren't as fortunate (but are happier, studies show), but when we're sitting in traffic, we just want to get home, not solve world hunger.

But what really made me grateful was reading about Saudi Arabia. Cynical Chris shared this story by Megan K. Stack about her experiences in Saudi Arabia, originally written for the LA Times and you have to be registered to see the story.

That inspired me to find a blog or two by Saudi women and try and get a sense of what it's like to live like that all the time.

Jo's blog "A Thought in the Kingdom of Lunacy" was by far the best I came across.

In Saudi Arabia women cannot vote, they can't drive, they are not allowed to walk the streets without a male escort (usually a family member or trusted person employed by the family), and must be covered from head to toe in a black ibayah. They are not allowed to leave the house without permission, again from a male.

But I thought about this today as my co-workers wife picked us up to take us to lunch and how virtually impossible that would've been in Saudi Arabia. Or if not impossible, much more difficult.

Many Saudis are critical of Jo and her blog because she speaks from her heart and speaks the truth. She doesn't know how Saudi can keep progressing economically and technologically but not progressing socially. It will be interesting how that all plays out.

Personally, I would like to see what it would be like to live in a strict theocracy like that. The religious police watching, making sure that no women are sitting with the men. No women are walking around unescorted. I'm sure if every American experienced that, we would be more appreciative of our daily freedoms, and maybe we would be a little more open-minded.

Another point Jo brings up is why Saudi is so misogynistic. She can't find in the Qur'an where it says that women aren't allowed to leave the house or drive. Yet another injustice carried out in the name of Allah and/or God.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Black God rules!

- Bart Simpson, from the chicken pox Simpsons episode, they're looking for Dr. Hibbard in the First A.M.E. Church of Springfield and it's distinctly more lively than Rev. Lovejoy's service.

The Clemson Sports Car Club website has been down for almost 2 weeks now. Hopefully it will be back up soon but if not, I'll see our webmaster at the autocross in Columbia this weekend and see what's up.

We resubscribed to The Week magazine and am now slightly more up to date with worldy goings on. Apparently the "president" of Syria was reelected to a 2nd 7 year term. Out of 12 million Syrians, 11 million voted and he "won" with a resounding 97%. Right.

I've been thinking about Europe recently. My friend Tom went just a few months ago. Supposedly he has a blog for it that he's been working on but being the anal perfectionist he is, he's been working on it a long time and I still haven't seen it. Also there is a Summer Undergrad Research Project participant (SURP) from Germany who is really cool and reminded me how much I liked Germany, the people and their accents. Then I was watching "Dream Car Garage" and they took an '06 Corvette Z06 up to 185 mph on the autobahn, all without fear of a ticket. Crazy.

I performed research in Mainz, Germany (about 15 min. outside of Frankfurt by train) for 2 months the summer before my senior year of undergrad aka the summer of 2000. So many awesome memories and experiences from that trip. Got to see the last solar eclipse of the 20th century, got drunk and smoked hash in a hostel in Paris, laid on the beach in Nice, Musee D'Orsay in Paris, Neuschwanstein in Fussen near Munich, Milan, the leaning tower of Pisa, Firenze (Florence in Italian). Great memories and I want to take J there and make some new ones. All in good time I suppose. Nope, just checked, no recounting of any Europe stories.

If I had more time (if someone paid me to blog or was independently wealthy) I would get a negative scanner, convert all my Europics to digital and then upload them and have lovely pictures to accompany the posts, but I won't. I do want to go through all the pictures and enlarge some and just generally organize my picture bag.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007



It's Tuesday. Many parts for Focus have been ordered. Her serpentine belt has been squealing, so we're going to try replacing the belt tensioner. The radiator support and some lug studs are also being replaced.

An autocross is taking place this weekend in Columbia, SC. It's going to be hot. Stupid hot. Kills babies and old people hot. It's going to be good practice for the Doublecross Challenge in Atlanta at the end of the month. Here are last year's posts concerning the event. In a nut shell, it is two autocross courses that will be run simultaneously and have a mutual finish line. It's confusing but if it sounds interesting, please drive on over the the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds and check it out on both Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1st.

This year, we will also be camping the first night and then staying in a hotel for the second night so we can take showers and what not. Of course as of right now I'm the only 1 of the 3 resident autocrossers who is signed up, so I might be looking for a place to crash both those nights. We'll see.

It is part of the SCCA ProSolo National Tour, so the competition will be nationally competitive. I'm gonna get waxed but it's gonna be fun!

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Monday, June 04, 2007


Wait, what was in that box?

We hit up Blockbuster, returned some movies, picked up some others and exchanged a piece of paper for a free Wii game rental. We decided on Marvel Ultimate Alliance because most everything else was out. It isn't a terrible game but it isn't going to win any awards. If you're a Marvel fan, you would love it. In between levels, you can switch your party of 4 with any number of Marvel heroes. Thing, Daredevil, Elektra, and some I had no idea existed like Moonknight and Ms. Marvel. During play you can switch to any of the 4 characters in your party. The problem for us is we played through the first 3 levels and then had no idea what to do. It's a decent multi-player game for the Wii if you're tired of mini-game type games but I'm saving my pennies up for Zelda and Resident Evil 4 when it come out.

We pulled stuff out of closets, threw some stuff away, boxed other stuff up. I think we have a pretty good plan. We move on 6/15 and that week we are going to bribe a neighbor into using his truck to take our old couches to GoodWill and this will really open up space in the living room for the real moving which will happen on Fri. evening. For some reason the Penske truck place has different rates for a full 24 hr. truck rental so instead of $55 for 5 pm to 5 pm, we are paying $35 for 5 pm to 8 am. It's worth $15 to me to wake up that early, even though I might have to promise J some breakfast to get her out of bed. I'm planning on taking at least that Fri. afternoon off and getting a jump on moving. We have lots of little boxes that we don't need the truck for.

Oh yeah, also on Sat. morning [originally I was to go bouldering in NC with Subaru, his wife and some other folks but the forecast was foreboding so everyone bailed] Subaru and I put replaced Tercel's struts. Care to venture a guess as to how many of 4 were completely blown? J guessed 4 and was close. 3. 3 of 4 struts were useless. But Tercel now feels like a new car! And I keep toying with the idea of keeping her as my daily driver and taking Focus off of insurance, taking the plates off and making her a full-fledged race car, but that is very space dependent. Of course, now it's painfully obvious what Tercel's shortcoming as a car is. Tires. Remember our tire discussion from the other day? So Focus wears 205/55/16s. Tercel is rolling around on some paltry 165/80/13s. That's alotta sidewall my friend. And lots of sidewall means lots of sidewall flex. I found some inexpensive 175/70/13s online and will be getting those sometime soon. But what I really like about Tercel is her bolt pattern and that she's a Toyota. She has a 4x100 mm bolt pattern which is shared with most econo cars on the road today. And she's a Toyota so she'll run for a long time, but when she does bite the dust, just plop in a new engine and keep on running. Nice. I just hope wherever I end up I can find some cool guys to help out with engine stuff like that. It isn't a one person job by any stretch of the imagination.

The Wii is still awesome and I can't wait to try it out in our new house.

My Xbox died this weekend. We were watching a DVD and it froze. So we restarted it and a message popped up saying "Your Xbox needs customer service." Nice work Microsoft. Just in time for me to go out and buy a 360. I wonder what they would say if I called up and said my Xbox was broken. I still have quite a few Xbox games that I enjoy playing and it was our main DVD player in the living room. For the record, I would like to point out that to this day I have still not purchased a standalone DVD player. So far the only DVD players I have bought have been a Xbox and a PS2. Honestly, I'm waiting for the format wars to die down a bit before I make the move up to a PS3 or Xbox 360. I just wish the Wii played DVDS. I hear it's coming down the line, but it isn't here quite yet.

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Friday, June 01, 2007


I DO want national internet!

Thanks go out to Julie H. who invited me to join the "I want national internet" facebook group. Apparently all TV stations are going digital in 2009 or 2011, in a few years, and the FCC is getting offers from AT&T and Verizon to buy the frequencies that TV used to broadcast their signals. They would then charge their customers more money for access to their wireless signal. But what the FCC SHOULD do is set it up as a non-profit organization that provides wi-fi to the whole country at no charge. I would definitely pay more in taxes for a national wireless internet system. But we'll see if the people win out or once again the corporations will exert their unseen force and make another dollar off the American people.

Pissed off? Want to join the revolution? Sign the petition!

Back to Easley and Seneca eateries. Copper River Grill is wonderful. Excellent variety in their menu. Don't get the onion strings for an appetizer. It's very thin onion, balled up and then deep fried so you get a crusty melange of grease and onion. Just do yourself a favor and get the BBQ chicken nachos or the honey butter croissants.

Cafe Fritz in Easley is incredible. Very German but still with a Southern flavor. Fried green tomatoes, knockwurst, weisswurst, sauerkraut all delicious. I love me some sausage. I can't wait to go back.

If my post yesterday sounded derogatory, I can't help it. Some Southerners are wonderfully nice people. Some rednecks are nice people. But the others are the scum of the earth. Tossing beer cans out their trucks. Holding onto racist thoughts and traditions. Southern accents so thick most would need a translator. 4th grade education. No interest in continuing their education. Staunchly republican just cuz their daddy wuz. The list gets new additions everyday.

It's like this everywhere. A few great people scattered in a sea of malcontents and scumbags. I really enjoyed this post from Rob the other day. The only part of his job I envy is getting to make fun of morons every night. Everything else sounds like it sucks. But damn it makes for some great posts.

I've also been slowly reading through Barista Brat's archives. I almost want to work at a Starbucks. Or at least her Starbucks. Sounds like a great time besides having a line out the door and only one blender to make 20 frappucinos. I'm a fairly low maintenance customer for the most part. Occasionally I'll ask for something to be taken out of a dish, but at coffee shops I'm easy. It's usually an espresso or hot tea. Everything else is either overpriced or sweet enough to send me into insulin shock. Get out for under $2 is my goal. This rule only applies when I'm by myself. J's vanilla latte skyrockets me past my spending limit.

I don't hate rednecks. I don't hate Guidos. I hate stupid people and people who have no desire to learn. And I hate people who drive Pontiac Azteks. Seriously. If you drive one, go trade it in right now. Or just set it on fire and collect some insurance money.

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