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.