Sunday, December 14, 2008

Multitasking Is A Waste Of Time

As this country has claimed the title of most overworked populace in the world, we have picked up some nasty habits. This phenomena has been aided in large part by mutlitasking. We have all heard of it, and have been encouraged (or even forced) to adopt it as a "best practice" in our working lives. The truth is, however, that multitasking actually decreases efficiency and productivity while helping to increase overall stress levels.

By focusing on multiple things at once, we are allowing some level of inefficiency given the fact that our lack of a singular focus will cause mistakes across a spectrum of tasks, rather than a single task. This, of course, means we (or someone else for that matter) have to spend more time cross-checking our mistakes across several tasks, which adds cost to our given end-products. If we stop there, we have already built in more effort for a given task thanks to multitasking than if we had simply focused on a single task at a time. Since we are not alone in this waste of time, there is the very real chance that any mistake might not get noticed. Therefore, any efforts to rectify mistakes due to multitasking are factored exponentially since they are compounded as they progress.

I know what you're saying. Given the ability to have constant, instant information updates thanks to technological advances, multitasking has become paramount in our everyday lives. Well, I have to disagree. If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well. And if you're chatting on your bluetooth headset while texting someone and IM'ing a few other people, all while trying to update a couple office documents and check the latest stock market quotes, you are bound to make mistakes. So the next time you are tempted to engage in multitasking, stop; take a deep breath, finish the task at hand, and move onto the next task, because not only will you get a lot more done, you will get a lot more done right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Growing up in Kansas, I became accustomed to a certain level of skill from meteorologists. This could easily be quantified in the local NBC affiliate's three degree guarantee. If they were off by more than plus or minus three degrees on their temperature predictions, they would give money to some charity. Of course, they were rarely off by more than a degree, so they did not have to pay out that often. Fast forward to my current residence of Southern California. This weekend was supposed to bring a furious winter storm complex. Up to three inches of snow and 70 mph wind gusts. And you know what happened? Nothing. So thanks to my faith in the fire and brimstone weather forecast, I stayed at home and missed out on some awesomeness. Am I bitter? You betcha. Because a night out that I can not participate in equates to several potential lost opportunities. So for at least tonight all the meteorologists in SoCal get a big WTF? from me. Thanks for nothing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

National Repeal Day

In case you didn't already know, today is National Repeal Day. It was seventy five years ago today that the 21st Amendment was ratified, putting an end to prohibition. This amendment was historic for two reasons. First, by nullifying the 18th Amendment, it was the first (and to date the only) time a Constitutional amendment had been repealed. Second, it was the first (and to date the only) time a Constitutional amendment had been ratified by means of state conventions, rather than by state legislatures. By utilizing state conventions, the federal government was able to by-pass state legislatures who were believed to be too afraid to stand up to temperance advocates, essentially using a back door voting process already built into the Constitution. While the argument could be made that Prohibition was a noble social experiment, the reality is that Prohibition was a success only in its utter failure. It proved that legislating morality by simply outlawing activities does nothing but push them even farther to the fringes of society (something we could learn with our modern war on drugs). So raise a glass and celebrate your Constitutionally-protected right to drink!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just Sad

Today is Black Friday, probably the closest this country comes to a nation wide consumerism-orgy, all in an effort to find the best deal on stuff that more than likely was produced in China. There are always stories of local police having to tame rowdy crowds (usually at a Walmart), but for the most part no one gets hurt. That is, until this morning. While perusing the intertron, I happened across this story of a person who was trampled to death at a Walmart in Long Island after the crowd became impatient in their quest for cheap goods. One witness said:

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping".

I don't even know where to start. In addition to this guy being killed, several other people where sent to the hospital due to injuries, including a woman who is eight months pregnant. To say that anyone who was involved in this incident should be ashamed of themselves does not even begin to speak to the depravity of people who would put $10 off a toaster above another person's life. All of the people who contributed to this absolute failure of civility should be lined up in front of that store and shot. While that sort of punishment might be considered harsh, those people forfeited their right to due process when they decided to break down a metal door just so they could get a good deal on more stuff they do not need.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keith Olbermann Is My Homeboy

There are several reasons to love Keith Olbermann. His Special Comments are constructive, ultra-critical rebuttals of their respective targets in a time and place where "spin" is all the rage. The latest installment, however, is more than just another great piece of journalism; it is the essence of one person's beliefs, looking for logic and sense amidst an ideological cesspool.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If You Can See The Cop...

...who is out clocking, it's too late buddy. Just like when you see a sniper; he's been watching you for fifteen minutes already. California drivers for some reason seem to think that just because they slow down when driving by a cop, they were not really speeding. Who are they kidding? That highway patrolman already knew you were doing 80 in a 65; slamming on your brakes only reaffirms that fact that you were driving like a complete idiot. So next time you get the urge to try and fool yourself and all the idiots like me on your bumper, don't. Just keep on driving whatever insane speed you are cruising along at and accept the fact that you will likely get away with it. Why? Because it's Cali-freakin'-fornia.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Something To Chew On

Next year is the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. While I have a general dislike for coincidences (and fate as a whole), there will be a certain tinge of irony on February 12th. That is because the ceremonies to honor Lincoln, a single term senator from Illinois, regarded as our greatest president for his actions to begin freeing our nation from the tyranny of slavery, will be presided over by president-elect Obama, a single term senator from Illinois, and the first black president in our nations history. Think about that for a while.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lending My Support...

...from all the way out in crazy California. It's time for some much-needed change.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thankfully I'm Not A Betting Man

This weekend has been pretty crappy for me from a sports perspective. Let's take a look at the evidence:

1) The Yankees are not in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Meanwhile, Joe Torre is a couple of games away from managing Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers into the World Series. That right there is enough to make me want to puke my guts out.

2) Oklahoma's loss to Texas on Saturday ruined their bid for an undefeated season, knocked them off of their #1 ranking, and all but takes them out of contention for a Big XII championship (since Texas own a tie-breaker over them now). Sounds like it's time for several Prozac and a bottle of Jameson.

3) Dale Earnhardt Jr. cut a tire early in the race Saturday night, effectively ending his bid to climb back into contention for a NASCAR championship. While he was probably already mathematically out of it already, this hearkened back to his last couple of years with DEI where he floundered thanks to shoddy equipment.

So there you have it. For the sake of time I have omitted any fantasy football shortcoming from this week (thanks a lot, Phillip Rivers). All was not lost, however. Kansas City had a bye week, thereby preventing them from being embarrassed in a game this week. Next week will be a different story...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

GFC: Playoffs Round 1

After a week layoff due to Rosh Hashanah, playoffs finally began last night. Since we finished first in our conference (and in the division overall), we drew the lowest ranked team in the opposing conference, the Ball Breakers. It just so happened that not only did one of our current team members use to play for them, there were also some intra-office rivalries sparked as co-workers squared off in a battle to the death (not exactly, but you get the point). Not to take anything away from the Ball Breakers, but the game was over pretty quick. Our prototypical suffocating defense was in top form while our offense hit on all cylinders (two homeruns and 4 extra base kicks) en route to a 12-0 win. With our undefeated record now up to 9-0, we face Feets of Fury next week in what should be the first game of a double header. That's right folks; quarterfinals and semifinals are on the same night. Why, do you ask? Because that's just how kickball rolls (bad puns not withstanding).

Friday, October 3, 2008

You Can Never Go Home Again

Growing up, I was always perplexed whenever hearing some variant of the quote "you can never go home again". Obviously someone was greatly mistaken. If I visited somewhere, going back home was achieved with absolute simplicity; get back in a car or an airplane and Bam!, I was back in Wichita. Maybe the person who generated this quote had something happen which precluded their neo-enlightenment on the shortcomings of their hometown. Now that I have lived in California for almost five years, however, I realize that a person would be hard pressed to find truer words that have ever been spoken.

Only now do I realize the fundamental error in my previous logic. In order to realize the difficulty in leaving home I had to actually leave home, i.e., move away. It's one thing to travel somewhere else; it's a completely different ballgame to pick up and start a new life somewhere else. During my time in college, I saw the writing on the wall and realized that in order to start a career it would probably be in my best interest to move away from Wichita. Little did I know that an opportunity to do just that would present itself. Looking back, I now realize the magnitude of a single decision. In the span of two weeks, I went from being a degreed Mechanical Engineer working at Pizza Hut and living in his Dad's basement to living in California working as an engineer. Talk about doing a complete 180.

The first year was not too bad. I had some family members come out to visit me, and going back home felt just like any other time I had left. That second year, however, was the turning point. After a couple years of being on my own, I had started to become set in my ways of doing things. Little by little, I had started to forget streets and places that had once been as famaliar as a part of my own body. Now I have become so entrenched in my lifestyle that any more than a few days at a time and I begin to yearn for the comforts afforded by California. Driving is a chore when visiting home, because going anymore than 5 mph over the speed limit is asking for a ticket, rather than being the absolute slowest car in a twenty-mile radius. Instead of doing whatever I want to, I have to take into consideration other people who might want to see me during my annual pilgrimage back home. You could go so far as to say that Christmas vacation is actually more work for me than my actual job. I have to deal with however many hundreds of thousands of people are flying in and out of LAX to fly half way across the country only to spend my time driving between the various factions of my family who want to see me, but insist on me making the effort to travel to arrange a meeting (even though I just traveled half-way across the country).

Now, I could put my foot down and say "enough". The end result would that a lot of people would be hurt, and I would look like a bad guy. In fact, I am ready to stop going back home until someone comes out to visit me since my first year out here. While I realize everyone is still back home, I am tired of being the only one who is expected to make an effort to shoulder (both the time and financial) burden of traveling.; it's time that folks realize I am out here to stay. There may come a time in the not so distant future when I will not be able to come back. Someone will have to come out here and accept that I have built my own life, and my time in Wichita is only a distant memory to be recounted in stories when I'm old and gray.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Regular Season Champs!

After eight hard fought games, the Guy Fawkes Conservatory emerged unscathed with a perfect 8-0 record for Studio Division's summer season, clinching the regular season championship. Not only have we secured the number one seed for the playoffs (of which everyone qualifies), we also secured a berth in next years National Tournament which rumor has it will be in Vegas again (hopefully when it's not so damn hot). Our perfect season was sealed this past Monday night after an intense 3-0 victory over Trey Stafford Explosion. In typical GFC fashion, a strong defense, some timely kicking, and dominating pitching paved the way. Congrats GFC and hopefully the wins keep coming in the playoffs!

Monday, September 22, 2008

GFC: Week 6 & 7

I know, still running behind...

Week 6 brought the third installment of our grudge match with Uno Mas. Even though they are having a bit of a down year, they always seem to give us fits. Early on they jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Their lead did not stand for long, however, as we rallied for two runs. Our strong defense (fueled by my first strike out as a pitcher) stiffened down the stretch to seal a 2-1 victory and keep us undefeated on the season.

Week 7 we faced That's What She Said who are the only team in the league to not have a win. Thanks to a couple strikeouts from our dominating pitchers and some well placed kicking, we pulled out a 4-1 (guess who gave up that lone run?) win to run our regular season to 7-0 and set up a winner take all for our final regular season game.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Stevie Ray Vaughan gives his weather forecast for the weekend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

GFC: Week 5

Yes, I know I'm two weeks behind.

Week 5 saw the fruition of our cross-conference mystery matchups; the mystery being that game matchups would be determined by that weeks standings. Since we were first in our conference, we were paired against the Mean Boys (who are not really mean). Despite the fact that we allowed more runs in the game than we had allowed all season to that point, we erupted for an offensive explosion (at least by our standards) to help seal a win and keep our perfect record intact. As a side note, this game featured the first player ejection in our league's three-year history. Honestly, it could have been avoided, but unfortunately folks emotions get the better of them sometimes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just Can't Win

The last week or so has been pretty rough on me. Last Tuesday a trojan horse managed to get past my firewall and infect my PC. Of course, that means I spent the next couple of days reloading Windows (and all it's updates), along with the various programs I use. Fortunately, I keep all my data on a separate drive, so none of that was infected. Those were the latest in a string of several nights where I got at most four hours of sleep a night. By the time Friday rolled around, I was absolutely exhausted and needed to take a day off from work (I'll leave work out of this). The weekend was relatively uneventful, but Monday brought it's own little surprise. The folks who ordered my contact lenses made a mistake and ordered the wrong kind (ones that adjust for astigmatism), so I had to schedule a visit to the eye doctor. The quickest I could get in was Wednesday at lunch; rather than deal with driving back and forth to work, I decided to take the day off for what turned out to be a ten minute exam to confirm my contacts were in fact wrong (the right ones were then ordered). Today brought the ruining of another tire (the second in about six months), so rather than screw around with trying to find a single tire, I broke down and went to Costco for a whole new set of tires. I'm really hoping things start going my way because this is starting to get frustrating. Then again, I'm going to Vegas next weekend, so maybe my luck will change at just the right time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

GFC: Week 4

This week we played a brand new team. As expected, we beat the hell out of them 13-0. Everyone was able to kick twice for the first this season (which was awesome), and I had a really sweet double play in the fifth inning. Since we are now 4-0, we play the top-rated team from the other conference in our division next week as our prelude/warmup for the tournament on the 30th. No youtube video this week, however.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

GFC: Week 3

Another week of kickball brought another close game. This week we had Redrum, who edged us out in the bottom of the fifth inning of our first ever game a couple of seasons ago. Needless to say, we had revenge on our minds. Fortunately, we came out with a 1-0 win this time around (despite my mindless base running mistake). Take it from here youtube...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

GFC: Week 2

We won a back and forth nail-biter against Nut's & Honey's to bring our record to 2-0 (our best start ever). Cue up the embedded youtube clip!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Football, Where Are You?

It's the beginning of August, and that can only mean one thing; the start of football season is around the corner. So far it has been six months(!) since there was a meaningful game, and like many people around this country, my (probably unhealthy) addiction to the game is in full withdrawal. Since college football is the embodiment of the game's purity for me, I still have to wait another three weeks or so before Oklahoma begins their march to an eighth national championship. Until then, I have to get my fix somewhere, somehow. And to what lengths have I gone? Not only have I attempted to watch AFL games (which is not real football, IMHO), I have actually been watching Sportscenter with bated breath for Canadian league highlights (don't get me started about NFL pre-season games). Not exactly passed out in a gutter in Tijuana missing my pants and wearing a blond wig, but probably not far from it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Couldn't Let This Go

Looks like it's going to be a two-post kind of day (woohoo!). I try to peruse the Wichita Eagle's site everyday in an effort to stay informed of what is going on in my hometown (re: make sure it hasn't been wiped off the face of the earth). Even though the city as a whole has a tendency to be slightly behind the power curve of progress (Kellogg, anyone?), I still marvel at the level of buck-toothed, cross-eyed, sister-fucking, redneck hick that some people are still able to achieve despite having opposable thumbs.

After living in California for almost five years now (which bans smoking in all bars, restaurants, and almost all public places), I can attest to how nice it is to go out and not come home smelling like an ashtray. Following that vein of enlightenment, Wichita has decided to push through legislation to ban smoking in public places. Businesses can actually become exempt from the ban by doing three things:

1) Not allowing patrons under 18 years old
2) Posting signs that warn about second-hand smoke
3) Paying a $250 fee.

Given both the cream-puff means of achieving an exemption and the fact that there is even an exemption at all, you would think this would be a non-issue. Progress, however, can be a four-letter word, and this instance is no exception. Take this little nugget plucked from the comments section of today's article covering the smoking ban:

"This Puritanical mindset that there are "those people" that Know best for the rest of us Fools what is good for us and what is bad is a desease. It's a virus. A Cancer. The gov't has no business legislating health, safety and moral issues. Smoking, helmets, seatbelts, volume are items of personal choice. If you ride a motorcycle and don't wear a helmet, you're on your own. Same thing with Seatbelts. Smoking is None of the Gov'ts business. Absolutely None of it's business. The Goodie-Two-Shoes that are spearheading this need to find their own island and move there and revel in their "Inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of butting into other's business. Being elected doesn't mean that You have a corner on righteousness."

To be quite honest, knowing that someone is able to function while maintaining this level of absolute stupidity makes me sad for the human race. If this idiot could pull himself away from Fox Noise Channel for five seconds, he might realize the inherent flaws of his argument. First, the purpose of any regulation is to ensure safety, period. Why are there laws enforcing the use of seat belts? Because otherwise people like this would be killed in accidents heading to the store for more Cheese Whiz (on second thought, that might not be a bad thing). Second, if the government did not have health regulations in place, guess what that would mean? It would be perfectly legal for someone to put whatever the hell they wanted into your cigarettes. Battery acid? Of course. Mercury? Sure. Arsenic? Why not. Again, regulations are in place so that people are not out killing each other all the time. I guarantee if this asshole got salmonella from a restaurant he would change his tune about health regulations in a heartbeat. Finally, I do have to partially agree that legislating morality is a slippery slope at best. However, I am fairly confident in assuming this guy means legislating his morale views, not those of society as a whole. He is probably anti-abortion, pro-capitol punishment, and for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. And guess what, those all deal with regulating morality.

Where is this going, you ask? Good question. A lot of people in this country like to put up a front about individuals' rights and give a bevy of examples of how their rights are being eroded by things like smoking bans. What they fail to realize, however, is that individuals rights extend to each individual; democracy is about compromise, not acting like an overly-righteous petulant child when someone offers a different point of view. If you want to really talk about the erosion of individuals' rights, look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and our current administration who is listening to your phone calls, reading your emails, and invading sovereign nations, all in an effort to find "people of interest". We need look no further than our own past to find invaluable wisdom regarding the precarious situation we find ourselves in:

"Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."
-Benjamin Franklin

Kickball Is Here Again

The time has come for yet another season of kickball (yeah!). Rather than try and kill myself by playing in multiple divisions (and sucking up plenty of $4.00+ per gallon of the gasoline), I decided to keep it simple and focus on my main team the Guy Fawkes Conservatory. Even though we managed to finish second in the division last season, thereby qualifying for the national tournament in Vegas next month, we had a considerable amount of turnover (to the tune of losing 6 of 20 people). Along with finding six more folks, we managed to pick up three more additional people, bringing us to a grand total of 23 brave souls. Despite the net gain (and our largest team yet), we are still one of the smallest teams in the division. (I will post a link to our video recaps each week as they become available.)

For our first game of the season, we drew the Rhino Stampede (a bunch of folks from Rhino Records), which gave us an opportunity to exact some revenge. All four of our losses last season were by a score of 1-0, one of which was at the hands of the Rhinos. The game started out with both sides showing a strong defensive effort, the only blemish coming in the top of the 3rd when we surrendered a single run. We managed to break through and put up two runs in the same inning, adding another one in the bottom of the 4th inning. Some lights-out pitching in the 5th by myself (three up, three down, yo!) helped secure our first win of the brand new season. Next week we have Nuts & Honeys, which despite the 3-0 beatdown we handed them last season could prove to be tough.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Logic Not Included

Being a rather large individual in a society that covets an unhealthy thin physique presents several opportunities for rage-induced outbursts. There is nothing more infuriating than walking into a store, looking around for an hour or so, and not even finding anything to try on. *sigh* While the intertron provides a plethora of retailers who are more than happy to cater to folks like myself (and take my money), the journey can be fraught with despair. Lacking a uniform sizing standard, there can be a great variance not only between brands, but often within a brand itself (which is particularly frustrating).

Enter the guilty pleasure of eBay. In an effort to try and find an authentic Derek Jeter jersey (since he's my boy) for a relatively cheap price, I was led astray by Majestic's confusing and absolutely moronic sizing. Rather than use something simple like L, XL, XXL, etc., Majestic chose to use a number to identify the different sizes. This would be fine and dandy if the numbers corresponded to some actual measurement. Looking at their site, they say a size 52 jersey is a XXL. Since a XXL usually fits pretty well (sometimes a little tight in the shoulders), I find one on eBay and buy it. You can only imagine the shock and furious anger when said jersey arrives and I can barely button it up; a fit similar to an XL. After doing a little more checking, it turns out that a size 52 is in fact an XL, while a 54 is XXL. Why would Majestic use such an idiotic system of measurement that even they identify incorrectly on their website? If I would have bought a jersey through them (or on the Yankees site), not only would I have plunked down $180, I would have had to go through the hassle of trying to return it while waiting for what hopefully should be the correct size. Instead, I'm only out $60 for that jersey (can't return it), and have already bought another one that should be the correct size (it better be). Thankfully, one of my cousins is into Jeter even more than I am, so she's getting a nice little gift.

So what's the moral of the story? I think this is yet another example that everyone in the clothing industry is purposely trying to make my life miserable. How else can such shear stupidity be explained?

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Hot In The Desert

Everyone knows that deserts are hot. Given that I live in the southwestern corner of the Mojave desert, it's a foregone conclusion that summers are really hot. Even though the humidity is almost non-existent, heat is still heat. Here are the temperatures of the past week as interpreted by my car's ambient temperature gauge (while sitting on a concrete runway all day):

Monday - 110
Tuesday - 118 (holy shit!!!)
Wednesday - 109
Thursday - 106
Friday - 101 (thanks to some clouds and a 30+ mph wind).

Did I forget to mention that I do not like hot weather (and that I am constantly reminded it was 112 degrees and 100% humidity the day I was born)? The longer I am out in California the more I grow accustomed to warm weather. However, everyone has their limits. It might be a dry heat, but 100+ degrees is still hot no matter how low the humidity is. At least there is air conditioning (assuming the power has not gone out from the demand for electricity).

The Burden Of Intelligence

**Warning! This post contains statements that could be construed as overtly egotistical. Such instances are purely coincidental. Also, the remaining balance of a 12-pack of PBR can be blamed for any lengthly tangential relations.**
It is extremely difficult to be naturally gifted with a high degree of intelligence. I do not say this to brag; rather, I say it in hope of giving some insight as to what is a daily struggle between realistic expectations and the unattainable goals that come as the result of an ideal built up over several years.

For as long as I can remember, the seemingly complex has usually come easy to me, while what should have been rudimentary was often not without struggle. To this day I can not describe the differences between nouns, verbs, adjectives and the like. On the contrary, I can manipulate the English language with such deftness that almost every teacher/professor I have had has stumbled over themselves to praise my literary prowess; so much so that I (ever so) briefly considered minoring in creative writing. In a previous post I mentioned how my command of mathematics could have been called into question by a single ACT score. For whatever reason, the sole use of numbers seems to provide a severely limited perspective, and thus an even further limited train of thought; thinking in terms of letters and symbols seems much simpler by contrast (and might explain why I like calculus so much).

For whatever reason, seemingly everyone I know seems to think I know everything. I work in a group of engineers, and even they think I am a nerdy know-it-all. This is a great burden to bear because I am constantly put in a position whereupon people look to me for answers; a position that demands absolute perfection at all times. If you try your best, what's the big deal, you say? The bottom line is if I give a wrong answer, I will more than likely let someone down. One could easily make the argument that relying solely on another person's opinion should have an inherent risk. While it is completely unreasonable to think someone has all the answers, we as a society do it all the time (albeit through specialization). Add to that an aura of masculine invincibility and you have the classical situation of unreasonable expectations. While I think this is an extremely unfair position to be put in, it is invariably the hand I have been dealt, and as such is both a panacea and plague.

What is my point of all this whining? Just because I am smart does not necessarily make life easier for me; in fact, it makes it exponentially more difficult. So the next time you run into an alleged know-it-all, remember this: they are not machines, they are people capable of making mistakes, only their mistakes can carry devastating consequences.

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th 'O July Rundown

Once again, the time to celebrate our nation's birth has come and past, but it did not go quietly. Here's a quick rundown of what turned out to be a pretty good weekend:

July 2nd - My 28th birthday *sigh*. How did I celebrate? By making it through yet another day at work and having all you can eat sushi by myself. Even though it doesn't sound like much, it was actually pretty awesome. Nothing like absolutely gorging yourself on raw fish.

July 3rd - A small reprieve from work with a day off (wOOT!). And how did I celebrate such a glorious event? By killing Mexican terrorists all day with Joe & Sully on Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Needless to say, awesomeness prevailed for a second straight day.

July 4th - The morning was filled with kickball in the sweltering heat. Afternoon and evening consisted of drinking and swimming, with some sweet fireworks tossed in for good measure (way to go Burbank!).

July 5th & 6th - Wash, rinse, and repeat of the 3rd.

About the only thing lacking was debating the socio-economic impact of fluctuating chocolate truffle prices in Northern Uganda due to unrest within the African Union with Tina Fey (with glasses) while in an American-flag bikini. That would have been the highlight of my year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hands-Free, With A Twist

In an effort to help ensure the safety of it's millions of drivers (rather than keeping some of them off the street), California has been the latest state to enact legislation that bars the use of cell phones by motorist while driving. Spend any amount of time on the roadways of this great state and you will soon realize why getting people to put their phones down is a good idea. You would think a law such as this would be simple: the only permitted use of a cell phone is with a "hands-free" device (such as a wired ear piece or bluetooth), with the exception of an emergency (re: life threatening) situation. Alas, things are never that simple, and California's new law is a prime example of how loopholes can make any legislation utterly worthless. Here are a couple examples:

- Speakerphones are permissible, but the use of a headsets push-to talk feature is not. Both require you to hold the headset. Both require the same amount of distraction.

- Dialing is not prohibited. Just like speakerphones, one must physically handle the headset. This time, they get the added bonus of utilizing visual confirmation of textile inputs while hurtling down the freeway in 2000+ pounds of steel at 75 mph.

- Text messaging is not prohibited, only strongly cautioned against. This has to be the pinnacle of bureaucratic bullshit personified in this state. It is not illegal to engage in probably the most distracting form of communication possible on a cell phone, but you can still be pulled over and cited if a law enforcement official feels you were sufficiently distracted.

Add to this the non-homogeneous enforcement by law enforcement officials, and you have a complete waste of time. If states were serious about curbing cell phone related accidents, they would ban ALL cell phone use while operating a vehicle, save for situations of life-threatening emergencies. Unfortunately, no legislature in this country has the balls to step and put their money where their mouth is because they are too busy pandering to the few of us who vote in order to win reelection.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Manny Being Retarded

First off, as an avid Yankees fan, I have a distinct dislike for the Red Sox. Babe Ruth and 26 World Series titles aside, my dislike has turned to outright hatred that last few seasons thanks to Manny Ramirez. Not because he is one of the best hitters in the game. Not because he kills the Yanks. And not because (seemingly) everyone in "Red Sox Nation" adores him. It's because he is a complete idiot with no accountability which has been dubbed "Manny being Manny". Sure, it's not uncommon for players to ask for trades, have a melancholy outlook of the team's performance, or getting into fights with teammates. But shoving a Red Sox employee to the ground (and a 60 year-old man at that) for not being able to score free tickets? Just saying "my bad" is good enough for the Boston brass; I'll bet Shawn Chacon would love to have had that kind of leeway. If I shoved one of my co-workers to the ground and said "just do your job", would I be able to makes things right with just an apology? No; I would be occupying a spot in the unemployment line. But so long as the Sox are winning and Manny can still hit a baseball (since he fields like a blind midget 90% of the time), his antics will continue to be tolerated. Mark my words, though: one of these days, he will cost Boston in the playoffs, and will more than likely be indifferent about it. Maybe, just maybe we will be lucky enough that he will have a Bill Buckner-esque moment, and Boston will see him for just what he is: a spoiled brat not worth the trouble.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Joba Time!

Amongst the gloom and doom that has become our flailing economy (that is somehow not in a recession?), there is a shining beacon of hope to lift us up: Joba Chamberlain's first win as a starter. This calls for a national holiday. Scratch that, a whole week of national holidays is in order. Joba will use his 100 mph fastball to raise the value of the dollar. He will buckle the knees of oil speculators with his changeup. And he will leave anti-American sentiments in a crumpled heap with the deftness of his curveball. (Note: I saw him pitch while in New York last year, and can attest to the Jesus-like healing powers of his pitching.) Give Joba two weeks of starts and he will have this country back where it was in the 90's; with a booming economy, a surplus in the federal reserve, and a democrat in office leading us to prosperity. All this while leading the 27th World Series parade through the Bronx. Every good superhero has a good side-kick, and the Yankees lineup is certainly not lacking: take your pick of the Sandman, the Kid, or my personal favorite, Jason Giambi's 'stache. Good times will be here again, unless of course the Evil Empire somehow ruins everything.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Standardized Tests: The Downfall of Education

Any person who has set foot in an American classroom within the last few decades has been subjected to one of the greatest scourges of the education system: standardized tests. On the surface, standardized tests appear to offer tremendous value to academic institutions by providing a quantitative analysis of a student's threshold for learning for a given subject. With the ever-increasing competition to get into the best schools (re: brand name) in order to get the best jobs, more and more emphasis is being placed on SATs, ACTs, and the like than ever. While some would argue this help will bring education to a higher plane, I think it will have a much more damaging effect. Why is this? Because we are creating a generation of test takers rather than educated individuals. (I will leave the No Child Left Behind Act for another special rant.)

Say you want to get into school X (insert any brand name here). That means you will more than likely take the PSAT, SAT, maybe the ACT, and some AP courses (assuming your high school offers them). Since you are competing against thousands of other kids like yourself (assuming you are at least upper-middle class), you will probably take prep courses for each of those tests to help ensure you get a good score. Will these tests show an over-arching knowledge commiserate with one's education? Maybe, but there is a good chance they will not. Case in point: I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and was one class short of a minor in Mathematics (I was too lazy to take Linear Algebra). Guess which part of the ACT I performed the poorest on (the one time I took the test)? The math portion. Draw your own conclusions from that.

The purpose of institutions of higher education is preciously that: to provide a means through which an individual can attain an education. Not just a means to and end. Not just another bullet point on a resume. And certainly not as a social-class status symbol. Education and knowledge are supposed to help blur the social lines we have created, not reinforce them. Maybe I have an overly optimistic view of the power of education to help facilitate social change; or maybe the education system just has it's head up it's ass.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the year

"Soccer is the metric system of sports."

Talk about conveying immense complexity with such a simple statement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hybrid Vehicles: The Anti-Green

With the price of oil spiraling out of control, newly developing nations putting an increasing strain on natural resources, and the effects of our past environmental indiscretions yielding the results of their physical trauma, going "green" has become the new trend. And in a country that created the car culture, the ethos of eco-friendly has spread to the automotive industry in the form of hybrid vehicles. In theory, a hybrid approach sounds great. By using a regenerative electrical drive system coupled with a traditional gasoline engine, cars can have much higher fuel efficiency while producing less emissions. This sounds like the answer to all our problems! Or does it?

Here are the problems with current hybrid technology. (I'm going to single out the Toyota Prius for this discussion.) First, unless you drive exclusively in a city setting, you will not reap the benefits of the electric motor. That is because once the vehicle reaches speeds above roughly 20 mph, the electric motor shuts off and the gasoline engine takes over. This means my Honda Civic is just as (if not more) fuel efficient roughly 60% of the time as a higher priced Prius. Second, by relying solely on the regenerative braking system to charge both the electric drive battery (which powers the electric motor) and the 12V battery (which runs everything else), a person must drive for sometimes up to 10 hours in order to recharge the 12V battery. What are the consequences? If you have ever dealt with a dead battery in heavy traffic, then you know how dangerous and frustrating such an event can be. And last (but certainly not least), what do we do with all those 100 pound batteries when they eventually fail? Better yet, what is their life expectancy and how much will they cost to replace? Nothing like thousands of pounds of good ol' e-waste sitting around adding to our pollution problem.

In short, hybrid vehicles provide at best a stop-gap to try and help wean us from our insatiable petroleum fix. However, there many potential pitfalls that make them nothing more than yet another hollow status symbol in a country obsessed with one-upsmanship.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Intial post...sort of

Testing one, two, three...
It is amazing how technology has given us a vehicle where upon we can elucidate our opinions and beliefs from behind the shroud of anonymity, all in an effort to help humanity as a whole coalesce and move forward. Of course, that is a nice way of saying everyone has a chance to chime in with their two cents, no matter how unmerited or undignified (along with several other words that have the prefix un-).

What do I aim to accomplish from adding yet another blog to the already clogged tubes of the internet? To help distill the crap we are fed on a daily basis from large corporate media outlets? To try and find some small sliver of hope in a country that has lost it's way? To find out why everything tastes like chicken? Maybe my goals are not quite so lofty. My hope is that there are other people out there who share my concerns, and that they too can make a difference - no matter how small - that can have a lasting effect on us all. And if all else fails, at least I have a means to bitch and complain like everyone else.