January 31, 2004

Andy Vogel, cooking machine

Today I made Thai Chicken wraps with spicy peanut sauce. Yeah, that's right. I went to town on those bad boys. I found the recipe on the Food Network website. They were delicious. If you're interested, you can find the recipe here. Again, a great meal that took only about 30 minutes. That Rachel Ray, she's no liar when she says a great meal is only thirty minutes away. Of course, I don't know why I do this, since most people who read this don't cook at all. I suppose I could see Vikki going to town on this recipe, but I don't think James will be running out to the store to buy sesame seeds any time soon. I can only assume he doesn't have them laying around, since we didn't until buying them today. He should go get some, though. This is a seriously easy meal to make, and it was delicious.

Ok, time for Super Bowl XXXVIII picks. Panthers vs. Patriots. A lot of people think this is a Patriots game to lose, and it is in a lot of ways. I have to say, though, I'm not really buying this whole "Tom Brady as Joe Montana" thing. He is a guy with a lot of poise, and a modest amount of talent. ESPN's Sports Guy put it best, and this guy thinks there's no way the Patriots lose. He even talked about how Manning stunk it up for the whole game two weeks ago and the Colts still had a chance to win with 2 minutes left in the game. Also, I respect the 14 game win streak, but it is attributable to luck as much as skill. The percentages say that a team will lose at least once in 14 games. The 1993 Cowboys of Aikman, Irvin, and Smith were a far superior team to this Patriots team, but they didn't win 14 games in a row. In my mind, the Panthers are able to run on the Pats, and Stephen Davis steps up to the challenge of the Super Bowl. Add that to the fact that the New England offense has been having trouble punching it into the end zone. Add that to their kicker's season long slump, and we've got the makings of an upset. Panthers 19, Patriots 16

January 30, 2004

Stinking Parking

If anyone reading this goes, or has ever gone, to Messiah College and complained about parking, please consider the following: There is never anywhere to park on campus here at NC State. This is evidenced by the fact that we live in campus owned housing, and we pay an annual fee of $157 to park where we live. Janet is now a full time, permanent employee of NC State University, and she has to pay for parking. It's rather unbelieveable if you ask me. For the level of permit that is currenly available, it will cost her $275 per year to park in a lot that is nowhere near where her job is. The next step up would get her closer to the library, but there is an estimated four year wait to get one of those permits. It would also increase the cost to either $300 or $327 depending on the lot. This, my friends, is ridiculous, but I suppose it's their land to charge for.

The only real problem I had with the parking at Messiah was the policy of giving preferred spots to RAs and students who studied abroad the previous semester. It doesn't make a lot of sense. The study abroad students got to pick whatever lot they wanted. I have yet to determine a reason behind this, but whatever. The RAs were nearly as maddening. They also got to pick whatever lot they pleased. The student teachers and nurses get to pick too, but they have a legitimate reason, though I could argue that student teachers should only have preference for the semester that they teach. I assume the RAs get preference because they might have to take a student somewhere in the middle of the night, but to that I say, "Hogwash!" The only way I see justification in giving them preference is to require them to have cars. Otherwise, you're saying they should be close so they can take people places, but they don't have to have a car with which to do it. The logic just falls apart.

January 29, 2004

I'll give you a dollar if you guess when this was taken

Actually, I won't. It was taken when Janet and I went to visit Liz in Virginia Beach. There we were, standing on the beach, in the sun, on January 3rd. It was unbelieveable.

January 28, 2004

Online Gaming

I joined a few online games today. I joined the free ones that you don't have to have any software for. These are the kind of things that you don't have to invest a lot of time in. You go in, talk to a few people, walk around a bit, do a few things, and then go about your day. The other people involved in the game, and there could be thousdands, will show up when they get the chance and do their thing. This way, you can interact with lots of people (in character, of course) but not get so hung up in it that you lose track of the fact that you have a real life. I'm involved with Cantr II and the Star Wars Combine. If you're interested, check it out and let me know what your character's name is. The Star Wars one has all the aspects of the Star Wars universe, and you can travel around and get stuff and talk to people. We'll see if it's interesting enough to keep me involved. James, you should get in on this action.

January 27, 2004

Dean's Religion Problem

I admit it's not an original title, but it fits nonetheless. In a nation where most people believe in God, Governor Dean is faced with trying to appear religious enough to be elected president. I was reading this article about Dean and religion. It appears he was raised Episcopalian, yet left the church over a bike path(!). Then he joined a Congregationalist church, which, in most cases, is an acceptable liberal church (as opposed to say, the Presbyterian Church in America, which I doubt has a strong foothold in New England). He married a Jewish woman and allowed his children to be raised Jewish. That's his choice, but his words belie his claims as a "devout Christian." He thinks it is great that "Christianity" and Judaism can live under the same roof in his home. Apparently, Governor Dean missed the part of the New Testament where Judaism and Christianity diverged in a rather bloody fashion. He speaks of the "closeness" between Christianity and Judaism because Jesus was a Jew while failing to mention that the Jews crucified Jesus for daring to disagree with them.

He tends to pass all this religion talk off as being personal and that he doesn't talk about it because he is from New England. I'll agree that New England is a place where people tend to keep it all in, but I think the real answer here is that if Governor Dean believes in God, it is not in any way that bears on his life other than to give him a place to go occasionally on Sundays to make him feel better about himself. I don't know anything about his wife's religion other than to suggest that her faith in Judaism is stronger than his faith because they chose to raise their children Jewish. Other than that, I can't speak as to her faith in any accurate way.

Dean's stance on religion has served him well in secular New England, but the rest of the country stands in stark contrast to his position. I am not suggesting that most people are Christians; in fact, I would state the opposite, but I feel that the rest of the country at least has a strong moral compass related to Christianity that was more prevalent in years past than the secular attitude of New England that is evidenced by the ubiquitous Congregationalist, Unitarian, and Universalist churches of the region. Many New Englanders would pass this off as saying religion is so personal that it is not spoken about, but I would posit that it is not discussed for many people because it is non-existent for many people.

On the subject of Howard Dean, I am torn. On one hand, I have trouble finding anything to like about him, and I don't want him to win a single primary. On the other hand, I don't think he has a chance of unseating President Bush in a general election, so I want him to get the chance to lose. Recent events (primaries and caucuses) make it look like he will not win the nomination, so I suppose it doesn't matter what I think, but I just wanted to address the issue here.

There will be school

Tomorrow, the school will be open. I have no class, but it looks like Janet will be going to work for her third try at a first day. I will try to spend my day doing some homework. If I can stay on top of it at the beginning of the semester, it will end up helping down the road. This will help especially in my Digital ASIC Design class which features a substantial project that the professor repeatedly stressed that the project will take more than a weekend. As usual, I'll try to stay current and ahead of the game with all my work, but I'm sure there will be slip ups here and there. Some things never change, but I always get it done in time. In that sense, I'm not so different than anyone else. I may get behind, but I usually pay the price to clear it all up.

All right, enough of that. I'm realizing that I have little interesting to say in this space today. Maybe I should go out on Hillsborough Street and talk to some of the homeless people and write down what they say. I think I would only spend my time on that if I was getting paid, which isn't about to happen. Not too many engineers on the best seller list. I could write a diet book, but who would buy it. I'm not sure my weight loss techniques during wrestling would appeal to many people. Somehow, cutting down on the calories, running four times a week, and wrestling 5 days a week doesn't seem to fit in with the current raft of low carb and no carb diets. Every commercial touts the low level of carbohydrates in the food being advertised. It used to be calories, then fat, now carbs. Eventually, it will probably work its way back to fat and calories. Then again, maybe it will be something all together different.

January 26, 2004

A Kitchen Essential

Everyone should have an electric kettle. We use ours all the time. It was an unexpected wedding gift that has proved extraordinarily useful. It boils water much faster than the stove. We use it mostly for preheating water. If you're making rice or pasta, it makes the water boil on the stove way faster. Even Alton Brown of Good Eats used one on his show the other night. If he uses it, it must be cool. I would like to have his KitchenAid, which is painted black and has flames on it. Ours is jus a boring white. I'm not sure, and I don't have any scientific data, but I'm pretty sure a mixer with flames on it works better than one with just a plain white finish.

January 25, 2004

It's a dang wonderland out there

The snow/rain/sleet has continued to fall throughout the day and into the night. It is the only story on television. The news interrupted a TV show at 11am when there was still grass visible beneath the snow. Nearly every school in North Carolina is closed tomorrow, including the esteemed land grant institution known as North Carolina State University. Too bad this barely affects me. In the North, when it snows like this, people strip to the waist, go outside, and shout, "Is that all you got?" at the sky. In the South, they huddle indoors and stay the heck off the roads (which haven't been cleared) except to go stockpile bread and milk in the event of some sort of weather catastrophe (in their fair defense, I've heard that the more severe weather causes the grocery stores to close, thus possibly warranting said behavior).

Adding insult to injury is the fact that nothing is on television tonight thanks to those stupid Golden Globes. NBC won't show Law and Order: Criminal Intent because they are showing that awful show dedicated to pandering. ABC is showing an Alias rerun in cowering fear. After that, the only shows left are reality, decorating, and cooking shows. I only watch one cooking show (Good Eats) which is usually on at 11:30pm. Thank goodness for 1pm class. Coming back to Law and Order: Criminal Intent, this show is cool. That Vincent D'Onofrio has his role nailed to the wall. In the words of Bill Cosby: they don't know who they're fooling with. In a contrast with the other shows in the franchise, there is very little lawyering going down. My man Vincent gets the job done himself by being smarter than the rest of the entire city of New York. Let's just say that you don't want your crime referred to the Major Case Squad.

For the benefit of all

I was emailing my mom this recipe, and I thought I should share it with the world. It is a delicious vegetarian chili that I made for the first time this week. I wondered what it would be like without meat, but it has tons of flavor and I will surely make it again. It is chopping intensive however, since I had to chop up 3 tomatoes, two peppers, two zucchini, and an onion. I saw a V-slicer thing at the state fair, and I would so use that thing if we had one. Anyhow, make it and enjoy.

Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 cups chopped tomatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (5.5 oz) cans spicy hot vegetable juice
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, minced and seeded

Heat oil in Dutch over over medium high heat, add onion and garlic. Cook until tender, stirring constantly. Add zucchini and bell peppers; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It is delicious.

Everybody look out!

It's snowing as we speak, and it's sticking. At this rate, there will be no school tomorrow, which doesn't affect my classes, but will affect the lab I have to teach. It cracks me up. The minute it started snowing, churches started canceling services. One school had already closed for tomorrow at 11:30am. There has also already been a weather related accident within 3 miles of our apartment. Some goober who has likely never driven in the snow before slid into a guardrail on the expressway. They showed the road, and there was only one lane open, and the other one had snow on it. Would it kill the city of Raleigh to invest in a single plow truck to at least scrape off the beltline so these inexperienced winter drivers wouldn't wreck their cars zipping around in this mysterious white stuff?

On the other hand, I'd rather they slacked off on the plowing as long as they promise it never gets so cold people die. In Springfield, Vermont, this morning (Janet's hometown) the Weather Channel website told me that it was -2 degrees with a windchill of 17 below zero. No matter what anyone tells me, there is the reason right there that no one lives in Vermont. No amount of love for skiing makes it worth living through that. Besides, I doubt people ski when it's that cold anyhow. The snow probably isn't as slippery because it doesn't melt right.

January 24, 2004

Since it was 1 degree this morning in Vermont, let's talk about ice

I've been seeing previews for the movie Miracle in the last few weeks. I was surprised that it's been 24 years since the event, and no movie has been made. I did a little digging and found that there was a movie made in 1989. Oddly, and sadly, IMDB says that if you liked it, you would also like The Cutting Edge, which is a figure skating movie. The old one didn't star Kurt Russell, so it didn't get the press, I'd imagine. I do plan to go and see it, since it was quite a story. I may end up waiting for the $1.50 theater, but that still counts. No one could have foreseen the turn of events that would result in a bunch of American college kids taking down the Russians after only six months of working together. Throw in the Iran hostages and an oil crisis and you've got the potential for big stinking deal if the college kids win. The Russian papers didn't even put a score in the paper.

January 23, 2004

Hardcore Howard

Howard Dean was on TV three times last night trying to save his campaign. First, there was the debate, then there was the televised interview with his wife. I don't understand the media obsession with his wife. The woman is a doctor with an active practice; she can't take a month off to go traipsing around Iowa and New Hampshire to show her support for her husband. I'm sure she supports him plenty from back home in Vermont. Finally, he appeared on David Letterman to read the following Top Ten List:
Top Ten Ways I, Howard Dean, Can Turn Things Around
10. "Switch to decaf"
9. "Unveil new slogan: 'Vote for Dean and get one dollar off you next purchase at Blimpie'"
8. "Marry Rachel on final episode of 'Friends'"
7. "Don't change a thing -- it's going great"
6. "Show a little more skin"
5. "Go on 'American Idol' and give 'em a taste of these pipes"
4. "Start working out and speaking with Austrian accent"
3. "I can't give specifics yet, but it involves Ted Danson"
2. "Fire the staffer who suggested we do this lousy Top Ten list instead of actually campaigning"
1. "Oh, I don't know -- maybe fewer crazy, redfaced rants"

I heard it on the radio, and it was pretty funny. I'm not sure what he was thinking, hey, if it works, it works.

Finally, Janet and I decided that the primaries need to be arranged in order of weather. Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico....these are the states that should be going first. Iowa and New Hampshire are pretty darn cold in January, as I'm sure the candidates discovered. Here are the predicted highs (Fahrenheit) for every day until the New Hampshire primary: 17, 14, 13, 14, 20. The lows: -2, -5, 0, 9, 18. Basically, cold enough to kill a person. Garrison Keillor was talking about Minnesota when he said the following, but I'm sure it applies to New Hampshire: "It's the kind of place that, once or twice during January and February, does its best to kill you."

My Favorite Show

Sadly, it is true. Ed is done in three episodes. I can't say that I'm surprised. The writers of the show had a big job to keep it entertaining week after week, and they did a pretty good job for about 1 1/2 seasons. Then they fell prey to the temptation to write "America's Love Story." I knew that Ed and Carol was the death knell of my favorite show, but it happened nonetheless. The DVD of the first season will be a must-buy, I think, since that's when all the best episodes were. Ed dressed up in a knight suit, hired a skywriter, chucked waffles on a roof, made a giant meatloaf, and strung up a bunch of electric stars in the first season. I think the show first took a turn for the worse when Kenny left the show. Eli is just too straight to fit in at Stuckeybowl. With Kenny, he told Phil he was crazy, but there was something always a little off with him as well. Also, the evil district attorney Bonnie Hane should have found her way back to Stuckeyville more often. The show worked best with an ensemble cast of borderline lunatics bouncing off of each other, with the occasional lawsuit thrown in. Ed hasn't done much lawyering lately, and the show has suffered. There isn't another show on TV like it, and I'm sad to see it go, though I wish it could have sustained its peak a little longer. It's like Howard Dean. Surged at the beginning, then ran out of steam and ended up looking really silly. Unfortunately, Howie gets a second chance, but Ed is history.

January 22, 2004

Gone Dutch

Janet and I looked at two apartments today. We were quite taken with Dutch Village. It looks just like it does in the pictures on the web site. The best part about it is that the apartment we would move into has been renovated very recently, and no one has lived in it since its renovation. It's like getting a new house. The kitchen is big, the floors have carpet, and the walls are not all white. This is a rarity in apartment living, and we're darn happy about it. It's nice and close to NC State, which makes it convenient, yet it's out of the way of most of the bad traffic. The only real downside is that we have to decide so quickly and then make a move in the middle of the semester, though my prodigious class scheduling skills have allowed me some off days during the week to make the move easier. We knew we wanted to move when we found out the rent was going up this summer, and we're glad that we won't live in the trashiest place of anyone we know in Raleigh. Of course, this all depends on us getting accepted, though I don't think we'll have a problem unless Janet has major credit issues that she never told me about. I think we'll be ok, though.

January 21, 2004

I can't stop myself

More on Howard: A man named James Lileks has mixed up the funniest thing I've heard in a while. He sampled Howie's speech after losing the Iowa caucuses, and the result is rather humorous. The file is about 1.6 MB, so I wouldn't recommend trying to download it on dial up unless you'll be online for a while.

January 20, 2004

People are Weird

I ran into a gaggle of weirdos today. I was walking to the gym today and passed this guy. He was listening to rap, I assume, since he was "singing" along rather loudly. I couldn't understand the words, since he wasn't really articulate, but the only words I could understand when he was telling someone to "don't front" at the end of every line. I wanted to tell him that I don't like rap and to knock it off, but instead I just picked up the pace and went to work out.

Then, after class, I went to the library to read and do the crossword puzzle in the school paper (yeah, I finished that bad boy). When I sat down, I noticed this guy passed out on the chair. He was dead asleep for around 40 minutes after I got there. Who knows how long he was there before I got there. The weird thing was that he didn't have a book or a bag or anything. Then he groggily got up, looked around, and staggered off.

The sniffer sat next to me in class tonight. Every minute or two he made a short, sharp sniffing sound. I wanted to ask him if he'd had his cocaine fix yet today. It was really annoying, and I'll avoid this guy in the future. This shouldn't be too hard, since there are 100 people in the class.

Finally, the biggest one of all. Howard Dean. This guy was shouting and rolling up his sleeves and tossing hats into the crown and yelling some more about conquering or something. Speaking of politics, I suggest you get your news from The Daily Show. It may be fake news, but it's at least as factual as the political predictors on so called reputable news stations.

January 19, 2004

James as a Child

Janet and I went to P.F. Chang's for dinner tonight and got a little glimpse of James as a child. There was a kid sitting at a nearby table with his family. The entire time we saw him, he was playing a Gameboy. One time, he put it down to look at his video game magazine. Other than that, he was playing away. Even when the food came, he kept playing. His mom had to make him put down the toy, and he argued with her, though mom eventually won. I can see James' mom doing this to him when he was this kid's age, though I do doubt it really happened to James. He was probably a lot better behaved, though he did get the same toy the kid was using for Christmas this year.

As for the restaurant, I recommend it. I've been there a few times and never been disappointed. If you ever get the chance, order appetizers, and get the lettuce wraps. You can thank me later. Once you go, you'll want to go back just so you can try everything on the menu. It's a medium priced place, so you can't go every night or anything like that, but not so much that you have to be rich. Janet said she's been thinking about it ever since we went the last time, so now she can relax a bit. Going through recipes last night got her thinking she just had to have some spring rolls.

January 18, 2004

Super Sunday

The Patriots and Panthers made the Super Bowl. This has to be the least exciting of all possible matchups. I mean, the good people of New England and Charlotte will be interested, but what about the rest of us? I think Colts-Eagles would have had more national interest. That would of course mean breaking the news to New England that the rest of the country doesn't really care about them, but it would be a small price to pay. Instead, we've got the potential for the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history with the two defense oriented teams and offenses captained by "system quarterbacks."

4 Days

I get four days off every weeked. Well, I get four days off from classes. It seems like it will be a nice deal. Tuesdays and Thursdays are a beating, but I get plenty of time to recover. Here I sit on a Sunday night knowing that I don't have to go to class tomorrow. I think I will try to finish my homework due for Thursday. That would be a good use of my time, I think. I haven't been given a TA assignment yet, so I have no responsibilities except for my classes for a litle while, at least. I reallly hope to get one of those posh assignments where you don't have as much work as I did last semester. I had to grade homework, grade lab reports, grade tests, and teach lab sections. It was not the most fun I've ever had, that's for sure. At least I didn't suffer alone. I had co-workers to help me deal with it. We all could moan and groan together. The one thing working against me in my quest for a new assignment is the professor's desire for continuity. He likes to have the same people in consecutive semesters because of their familiarity with the class procedures and labs. One of the guys has done it quite a few times in a row now. This spring is his last semester though, so he'll be done with NC State.

January 17, 2004

Slice and Dice

I sliced a couple of my fingers while washing dishes yesterday. Did it on a sharp knife, so now I have a little red line on the index and middle fingers of my right hand. The whole situation is a double edged (Ha!) blade. The knife might not have cut me if it weren't so sharp, but the sharpness ends up making the cut narrower and quicker to heal. This is the second time I've cut myself washing dishes in the past month. The first time didn't involve a knife, however. Our class thermometer broke and we thought we got all the pieces. The next day, the sink was draining slow, so I reached down to pull some food out of the drain and there I found the last piece of glass. I guess you could say that it found me, but, either way, I was bleeding. Fingers sure do know how to bleed, but having the sink and paper towels right there helped matters. Then I just got rid of the paper towel and put the Barbie Band-Aid on. We bought more masculine bandages the other day, so I don't have to deal with Barbie anymore.

Be Careful What Wish For

There was a time when we complained about our leaky apartment and how it gets kind of cold in here when the temperature drops. Then, yesterday, it started to get really hot. We noticed that the heater had been on for quite a while, and we were starting to get a little hot, to our surprise. When I looked at the thermostat, the thermometer was all the way to the left, saying that it was in the 90s in here. Now, it wasn't nearly that hot, so we knew something was amiss, since any heater that thought it was in the 90s ought to have shut off. We called the maintenance guy, and he came and poked around for a while before determining what he needed to do. The good news is that he knows what he needs to do. The bad news is that he can't do it until Tuesday. To hold us over, he lent us 2 aging space heaters; the type I remember so fondly from my childhood living on the third floor. They really don't get the job done quite right unless you really crank them up. I can't wait for our electric bill, though it should hopefully be offset by our lower gas bill. I think I liked it the best when we didn't have to heat or cool this place and our utility bills were nice and low. Those days should briefly return this spring, only to be swept away in the sweltering heat of summer in the South.

January 16, 2004

Let's just get it over with

I have never filled one of these out, and I didn't think James would either. He must be really bored, then he sent it to me. I will now fill it out and post it here so I hope to never get one again. Stop it! All of you!

1. WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME? Andrew Joseph Vogel
2. WHAT COLOR PANTS ARE YOU WEARING? Blue jeans
3. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? television
4. WHAT ARE THE LAST 4 DIGITS OF YOUR PHONE NUMBER? 9196
5. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Strawberry smoothie
6. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? blue
7. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Janet
8. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT THE OPPOSITE SEX? lots of things
9. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT YOU THIS? i did until i got it
10. HOW ARE YOU TODAY? not bad, though I've been waiting on my sick wife all day
11. FAVORITE DRINK? root beer
12. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK? i don't drink
13. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? baseball and wrestling
14. HAIR COLOR? brown
15. EYE COLOR? green/brown
16. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? almost every day
17. SIBLINGS AND THEIR AGES? Katrina, 21; Steve, 16
18. FAVORITE MONTH? what kind of question is this
19. FAVORITE FOOD? Mexican
20. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Pirates of the Carribbean
21. FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR? again, what's the deal here
22. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT? almost every time
23. SUMMER OR WINTER? summer
24. HUGS OR KISSES? both
25. RELATIONSHIPS OR ONE-NIGHT STANDS? Relationships
26. CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? usually chocolate, but it depends
27. DO YOU WANT YOUR FRIENDS TO WRITE BACK? leave it in the guest book
28. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? n/a
29. WHO IS LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? n/a
30. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS? an all too tiny apartment with a currently broken heater
31. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? school books
32. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? a drawing of eyeballs floating in the ocean and in the air (it's cool as heck)

There you have it, now leave me be.

In Case You Wondered

I still want a MINI, I just haven't mentioned it here lately.

January 15, 2004

I just took the Emode IQ Test

It told me my IQ is 142 and gave the following description:

Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns.

So maybe I will get a job after all. I wonder how much money there is in the Visionary Philosopher market.

Bursting the Bubble

Janet said that someone dropped off an application today at the store, and under Education, she listed that she had a Bachelor's and a Master's in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State. Five years ago, this person would have had 5 job offers in Northern California and she would have been allowed to wear shorts to work. Now, she's trying to make seven bucks an hour in retail. Something doesn't add up. The engineering job market is a little rough, but it's not that rough. I was thinking, though, as I sat in my Digital ASIC Design class today. Five years ago, if you took that class, that alone could get you a job. Now, the only people getting a job based solely on the skills of that class work in India and Southern China. Occasionally, I wish I had graduated back during the tech bubble. Then, today, I got to thinking. Maybe I would have gotten a job out of college, but where would I be now? Every so often you'll read articles about people who were pulling down 80K a year in the late 90's but work at a San Jose Starbucks now. I don't think I need that kind of life. I'll settle for a job that isn't going to disappear when the company I'm working for has to start selling off furniture so they can pay the rent and utilities. I just need to work hard to find a job when the time comes, then I can put this advanced degree to work.

Marching

Vikki reminded me of one of the things I'd like to forget about chapel at Messiah College. You see, Messiah is really white. It's to be expected for a small Christian college in the foothills of Central Pennsylvania. It's not exactly Grambling, if you know what I mean, and that's ok. In fact, it's about 95% white. However, every once in a while Messiah gets a bee in its bonnet and tries to do something about racial conflict. Obviously, there isn't a whole lot of it going on at the school, but people drum in up every once in a while. There was the fondly remembered rally at which an African-American student yelled through a microphone that every white person has negative thoughts when seeing a black person. To think, her point was to try to end racial stereotypes. Anyhow, whenever Messiah is feeling diverse, they sing a song entitled "We Are Marching." This involves some dancing and also singing in an unknown African language. The problem isn't the song, per se, it's that it's the only song they ever sing when they want to feel diverse. Of course, this brings me to the other thing I didn't understand about chapel there. One year the chapel theme was "Unity through Diversity," or something like that. It never made any sense. Let's create unity by emphasizing our differences. It's kind of like, though not as severe as, "Let's be friends by punching each other in the face."

January 14, 2004

Feel the Power

Yes, I still exert some influence on the corner of the world known as Grantham. I had feared my power had dried up since I moved to warmer climes, but witness Brooke's blog. The shoutouts and Christian Aguilera lyrics are (at least temporarily) gone. Now we'll see what the people say. James, for one, agrees with me, so let the truth be told.

January 13, 2004

I think it's time to rate the blogs

I will now rate the blogs that my friends/acquaintances write which I read regularly. This is not a ranking, just my comments on quality and such. I'll be leaving my own blog out, since it obviously runs roughshod over the competition. The fact that I just used the word "roughshod" proves it.

In no particular order:

James: James has his act together. He updates almost every day and has a wide variety of topics. His post today is a little off the wall. Something about centers and some other stuff that makes one think he reads too many Star Wars books. He's got the links on the side and the occasional picture. High quality stuff. I look forward to it every day when he gets home from work and fires up the old PC.

Vikki: Vikki also does a good job on the updates. They say you should write something every day, and she manages it even when she was student teaching. She keeps up the good stories, though she does need to realize that Boston is far from the center of the universe, since they pronounce the letter R at the center of the universe, wherever that may be. If you want to know what's of note in celebrity land, talk to The Vikster.

Janet: My ever loving wife has the most trouble staying on top of her blog. Her job at Barnes and Noble, nearing the end it may be, keeps her tired enough to just want to lay down when she gets home. The stuff she writes is always entertaining, and she makes me laugh. One side note: I made her watch The Italian Job, and my MINI brainwashing is nearly complete.

Lisa: Lisa doesn't write every day, but it's allowed under the "first year medical student" section of the blogging handbook. Nowhere else can you hear about her cutting up a dead guy she has named Bob. Heck, maybe his name was Bob. Why did she name a cadaver, I have no idea. They barely look like people when they get to the students. Anyhow, she's frequently funny, often cynical, and pretty much sounds like she needs a hug a lot of the time, but she entertains the masses.

Brooke: If you can wade through, her mood, music, favorite people, and shoutouts, there is occasionally some good stuff. The window dressing kind of takes away from it. Maybe the other people who read her blog enjoy getting shout outs or something. I think the song lyrics could be ok if they didn't so often feature lyrics by by singers no one will remember in 5 years. The content can be good, and gives a different look at Messiah College than you'll get from the "nearly a full blown teacher" Ms. Bol. She should update more, though.

Chuck: Chuck found my blog somehow. I've never met him, and likely never will, but he liked my stuff, so I link to his blog. He has a picture with every post. He hosts his own blog, which makes him way cooler than us proletariat Blogger users. He posts a lot and has links to people he thinks have cool blogs. His content is varied as well, though I fear he has a potentially unhealthy attachment to Lord of the Rings. Nothing blatant, just a subtle undertone marked by the occasional post.

The end came

The president of Messiah College, Rodney Sawatsky, has resigned his post. He was there all four years of my stay, and he'll wrap up his 10th and final year in June. His deteriorating health due to a brain tumor is to blame for this turn of events. You can read about it here. Now, the school will have to find a new president. I wonder, how does a school go about finding a new president? Do they post it on Monster or what? What are the qualifications? Could I be the president? Could you? I think it could be a fun job. Maybe I'll send in an application. I doubt they'd take it seriously, though I have met the chair of the board of trustees, and I'd think she'd remember me. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. From my four recent years there, it would not surprise me if the school tried inordinately hard to get a woman or a minority as the next president. Is this the right thing to do? Maybe, maybe not, but I hope they don't let the race or gender of the applicant cloud their judgment to the point that Messiah College becomes the poster boy of affirmative action.

Back to Class

Today I return to class. I have three classes today and Thursday, but none the other three days of the week. We'll see how I like it. I think I can swing this into a pretty good deal, if I play it right. I may be able to get most of my homework done in between classes, and do as little of it at home as possible. Also, I plan to try to start doing some strength training in between my first and second classes. I should be able to do a good workout and shower in plenty of time to make it to my next class. Then, on the days I don't have class, I hope to be able to start doing some running.

Eventually, I will find out my TA assignment for the semseter. You'd think they would do this stuff before the semester starts, but that would be far too logical. I think other departments do it, but we engineers don't quite have our acts together I suppose. Anyway, we'll see how many papers I get to grade this time around.

Back in the South

Lo and behold, there were traces of snow on the ground when we got back to Raleigh last night around 11. It was just the last remnants, but when it was truly cold, the snow may have covered the grass. None of this excites me, of course. I'd be happy as ever if I never saw another snowflake as long as I lived, but it won't wreck my day or anything. I did get to experience something in Ohio that I hadn't in a while. The day we left, it was dark and dreary with freezing rain. It had been since last winter that I had the pleasure of experiencing that, and I don't miss it at all. I might as well say, though, that I would like to try snowboarding some day, but I'm not sure it's worth living in a place where it gets cold enough to do it. That said, I'm not promising to never live somewhere with a real winter, I'm just saying that I don't like the cold. Therefore, I will enjoy living in the South while I'm here, and try not to complain too much if I end up elsewhere.

January 12, 2004

Television Time

I won't write much, since I'm still in Ohio, but I have to comment on some television shows.

Ed: Do I even care about this show anymore? Of course I do, but it's just getting dumber and dumber. Vikki seems to still think it's good, but who the heck knows why. I wait three weeks for a new episode, and that is what they give me? They need to just get married so the show can get back to what made it funny, the whole ensemble cast. Can they not afford to have everyone in the show anymore. It's like we have to choose between the Burtons, Cheswick, and the bowling alley employees. Why, NBC, why?

Alias: Sweet fancy Moses! It's crazier than a donkey eating a waffle. It's nuttier than squirrel droppings. Let's just say that if you haven't been watching this show and you turned it on next week, it would take a week to explain everything to you, and then you still wouldn't get it. I've seen every episode this season but none of the other seasons, and it's hard enough for me.

We'll be back to our regular blogging schedule (oh yeah, and class starts) tomorrow.

January 7, 2004

Don't try this at home

This is my phone --->

Actually, it's almost my phone. Mine doesn't have a color screen. Either way, I recommend it. I was talking to Janet today and I dropped it on the floor when I went to switch hands. Basically, it went from ear level down to a tile floor and survived without a scratch or ding. Janet didn't even know what had happened. If you're like me, this is an important feature to have in a cell phone, though my next phone will likely be one of those newfangled phone/PDA hybrids.

Seriously, dude

I somehow remember it being warm a few days ago, but the icy wind cutting me to my bones outside begs to differ. The bad news is that it's cold as anything outside. The good news is that at least we won't be here to experience it. Of course, the place we're going will be colder, but hey, if you're doing winter, might as well go all out, right?

I will now comment on Britney Spears. She claims it was a joke that went to far. I think this "joke" was aided and abetted by some grown-up beverages. Either way, how does one end up married at the end of the night? It's not like you can trip and fall, and then get up married. You have to go get the marriage license, then you have to drive to the wedding chapel, then you have to walk down the aisle. I say this takes, at bare minimum, half an hour, and that's if you're flying. That means you have 30 minutes after deciding to get married in which to come to your senses and call the charade off. I guess intelligence isn't a strong suit for Ms. Spears. The guy, I can understand. "Hey, I'm marrying Britney Spears!" That's what he was probably thinking.

At least James can still dream. I don't think he should worry too much about what Kate thinks. I'm sure she'll see it as the joke it is. The only frightening development is the revelation that Kate would likely write about her affections for Sean Connery if she was blogging. I can only say one word to that: Yuck. The man is seventy three years old! Old enough to be her grandfather, let alone her father. He may have had it going on back in the day when he was James Bond, but seriously folks, this guy was old when he played Indiana Jones' Dad.

January 5, 2004

Let's Motor

Allegedly, the calendar tells me that it's January 5th, but I'm inclined to disagree. I spent a few days in Virginia visiting Liz this past weekend, and it hit 76 degrees on Saturday, and I'm sure it was close to that or warmer further south here in Raleigh. We had a fun trip, and it was good to get away for a while. It was a warm up trip for our loooooong drive north at the end of this week when we make the 8 hour trip to Ohio. I'm looking forward to being there, but not to getting there, if you know what I mean. I will get my hair cut by Marvelous Mary, so that alone is worth the trip.

The real kicker from this past weekend was my long awaited test drive of a new MINI. You can read my review below:

My first thought when sliding into the driver's seat was that what I'd heard was true: it's a lot roomier than you'd expect. The three of us (Liz, Janet, and myself) could all fit fairly comfortably in the car. If a taller person was in one of the front seats, it may be uncomfortable behind them, but with Janet and I in front, Liz said she had plenty of room. The back seats are recessed a bit so they have more room than it looks like on the outside. Staying with this theme, the storage in the back, while smaller than your standard hatchback, looked like it could fit more than I expected. One could easily puth three paper bags full of groceries back there. Also, the seats fold down, giving all the cargo room you'd need, provided you didn't have any back seat passengers. I really don't know what the driving would be like for a taller driver, but I've heard that it's no trouble for the 6 foot crowd. I'm told my parents' neighbor drove home in one last week, and she's nearly six feet tall.

The interior is well put together, the main feature being the giant speedometer centrally mounted on the dash. It may take some getting used to looking down and right for your speed, but it's not really necessary, since the steering column mounted tachometer features a digital readout of the current speed as welll as engine RPM. The seats and wheel adjust to give a comfortable driving position and most of the controls are easy to reach. The available multifunction steering wheel and automatic climate control are both options that I would imagine are sold on nearly all new Coopers. (automatic climate control is cool as heck. i know it's not new, but i'm still impressed) Visibility is good out the windows and windshield, which is always a plus. Janet did not really like the small windshield, though she did like it a little better when she adjusted the seat to lower her head so the roof was not so easily in her line of vision. The main drawback to the interior that I experienced was the fact that the glove compartment tends to hit the passenger in the legs when it is opened. Moving the seat back could remedy this, yet it would cause a problem should there be a passenger in the back seat.

The ride itself was the best part. Up until Saturday, my only experience with standard transmission driving was a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle and our 1992 Saab 9000. Now, the Beetle is trash, but our Saab performs very well considering that it is 11 years old. Goes to the construction of the car, I suppose. Given my limited experience, I was not prepared for the precision of the shifting on the MINI. It was unbelieveable how easy it was to find the gears and how smoothly it transitioned from one to the next. A driver with any amount of skill could have his passengers believing they were in an automatic after just a small amount of practice. The handling was as precise and responsive as advertised. The wheels pushed out to the corners did exactly what they promised and exactly what I asked. The brakes (arguably the most important part of a car for avoiding accidents) stopped the car on a dime and gave you back change (as the salesman put it). Owing to the car's light weight, it accelerated and decelerated very quickly, and darted around corners. The turn signal lever could stand to be slightly longer, but that's a minor problem. The car we tested had a sunroof, though we'd probably forego it on our car to save some of the cost. Also, there was a hand operated screen that covered the sunroof that Janet had a really hard time operating, not to mention the fact that it was nearly useless for blocking out light.

Most drivers want solid handling, peppy acceleration, and good stopping power. The MINI delivers on all three accounts. If you're looking for a good family car, this isn't your car, but if you're looking for a relatively low cost car with good performance and and the unmeasureable "cool factor," go get one now. The MINI figures to hold its value very well due to the popularity and relative scarcity compared to many other models. This will not be a repeat of the PT Cruiser, which sold for thousands above MSRP at it's release, but the market was saturated two years later, making it a poor investment. Finally, we're looking at the Indi Blue Metallic color, as seen below, though without the stripes.

January 2, 2004

Handicapping the Field

Maybe I'll take a stab at politics. Here are my comments, in no particular order, on the field for the White House in 2004.

John Edwards - Effectively ended his political career by declaring he won't run for Senate again in order to focus on a Presidential race he can't win.

John Kerry - Lots of money and experience, but can't get anyone excited about him.

Dennis Kucinich - Slimy in general; more specifically, Drew Carey will tell you that he was the mayor of the only American city to go into default since the Depression.

Carol Moseley Braun - I'm not sure even she wants to be running for president.

Wesley Clark - The latecomer in the race. His inexperience shows, but he is one of few Democratic candidates to have the ability to praise the work of American troops without spinning it into some sort of anti-war, anti-Bush statement.

Richard Gephardt - Up until now, the highlight has been the constant repetition of the "miserable failure" line from one of the Debates.

Howard Dean - The apparent Democrat front runner, but he isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is. His flip-flopping on the issues and flagrant condescending attitude toward everyone in the country may come back to haunt him.

Joe Lieberman - Stung when Al Gore threw his support behind the only candidate who has a lower view of the American public than he does (Dean), Lieberman remains the only Democrat candidate willing to take an unpopular stand as well as stick to his guns in the face of opposition. (As an aside, he's the one Democrat I would feel comfortable voting for right now)

Al Sharpton - This is a joke, right? I mean, this guy has to be from another planet. He has previously compared the NY Attorney General to Hitler and accused the former governor of having ties to the KKK.

George W. Bush - Regardless of approval ratings and popularity, it appears whoever finally claws his way to the top of the Democrat heap still faces a tall order in unseating the President. He still has the support of most Americans not employed by the news media and soldiers who can't understand why all they see on TV is how bad a job they are doing.


January 1, 2004

Failure?

Read this article, then ask yourself why the media refuses to report this stuff. Ann Coulter has an interesting book that explains it, but some people might not be ready for her brand of commentary. It is difficult to hear the media and presidential candidates consistenly talk down the situation in Iraq while the people there doing the work are their desired constituents. The media doesn't report it because they think it furthers the cause of the Democrats, and that's what a disproportionate number of newsmedia folk are. My thought is the following: these soldiers get to vote, and they'll be voting for the one who's been supporting them all along, not someone who wants to abandon their work and say bad things about what they were doing. It will be interesting to see who the soldiers vote for come November.

A second point on the news media. It appears that when they can't bend the truth, they resort to outright lies. Every person in the country can remember the media-created "quagmire" that the Army apparently got itself into in Iraq during the beginning of the war. What is this "quagmire" they were talking about? They simply refused to report the truth. The fastest military advance in the history of armed combat was referred to as a "quagmire." It's inexplicable, and makes me glad for the internet as a news source.