February 29, 2004

Best Dog Ever

I took this picture last summer. She's the best dog in the whole world. This is not a discussion. It's a fact.

Coolest Free Couch Ever

This is our couch. Isn't it cool? Robin gave it to us. Isn't she wonderful?

February 28, 2004

Carpet and everything!

We made the big move today. We got the truck loaded her up and drove on over. As an added bonus, Robin gave us a couch that she had been trying to get rid of. Before you snicker, let me tell you about how nice this couch is. It's big and soft and even matches the paint in our living room (it matches the other couch, to boot). After paying our helpers with chili and brownies, we're off to procure a kitchen cart from Target. If I get my way, we may come back with a tv stand, since I've put my foot down and declared our living room a filing cabinet free zone. Well, Janet is calling me from downstairs (we have two floors, hee) so I must go.

February 27, 2004

Blog Note

Janet updated her blog three times in the last two days.

Can you design transformers?

My mom calls me today and says there is a message on the answering machine from some guy who wants to talk to me about a job. This was odd, I thought, since I haven't given anyone a resume with that number on it in a long while. I called the guy back and it turns out he's a recruiter for a staffing agency in Ventura, California. How this guy found my resume and number is way beyond me, but it has at least restored my faith in the internet as a job search medium. Anyhow, this guy was looking for someone who had the skills/experience to design transformers. I don't have either, so I couldn't help him out, but I was puzzled as to what made him call me for that sort of thing. Later, I realized that I had a job for two summers testing transformer oil. I can only assume that my resume was in some database he searched and he found the word "transformer" squirreled away in there and decided to give me a call. Well, I doubt any job he has is anywhere near this time zone.

Secondly, congratulations to Jimmy on his raise. Now he's getting closer to being paid what he's worth, though with no cost of living, I think he's doing ok for himself.

Oh, and by the way, NC State closed school today. It didn't get under freezing all day, and still is hovering above it right now at 11:39pm. I never would have guessed Southerners were such wimps. Does John Edwards plan to shut down the country every time it snows if he somehow finds his way into the White House?

February 26, 2004

Paralyzed again by the last death throes of winter

Half the South canceled school today. NC State braved the storm long enough to make to the evening, but classes after 6pm bit the big one. That resulted in me missing my favorite class, but class missed is still fun, no matter how much you like it. The main drawback to this last gasp of winter is that we're moving this weekend, and I'm hoping to not do it in a blizzard. I was thinking we'd be ok after last weekend's 70 degree temperatures and a forecast as little as two days ago for 60 this Saturday, so we'll see. 50s would be OK, but 30s and snowy would make moving our pillowtop mattress down the outdoor steps a bit of a chore.

On a different note, after perusing the Mini Owner's Lounge message boards, I've determined, thankfully, that there are people who are way way way more crazy about those little cars than I could even imagine being. They'll order one then call every day to check on its production and shipping progress. I'm just happy that I could know what ship it's on and when it's supposed to be feet dry in Charleston. Other than that, I don't really need to find out the coordinates of the ship to make sure it's on schedule. I can trust the sailors to find their way to Charleston. Heck, with all this GPS and satellite stuff, I bet me, Jimmy, and his spider monkey could get the ship to South Carolina. It makes me think back to last spring about this time when I was in Charleston for a job interview and I was sitting along the harbor watching container ships sail in. They could have been bringing MINIs to the good people of Charleston right before my eyes.

February 25, 2004

Wish me luck

Sometimes, good things happen. How good still remains to be seen, but we're at least headed in the right direction. Imagine my surprise when I was called this morning to go interview for a summer internship in the Research Triangle Park at a place called MCNC. I really do I hope I'm close to what they're looking for, since I'm not sure what I'll do this summer if this doesn't work out. I may end up as a Teaching Assistant for the summer session. I was surprised to get the call, since the job was posted on the NC State Career Center web site where anyone could see it. As I said before, my one asset that is somewhat unique is my U.S. citizenship (never thought I would say that my citizenship was rare), and this job requires a U.S. citizen with the ability to get a security clearance. Then I will know things I can't tell you......or something.

February 24, 2004

Somebody get that speech writer a raise!

"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions. For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."

-- President Bush, as quoted by the Boston Globe, in a speech last night to Republican governors.

Funny Typo

The following appeared on my Yahoo! start page this morning. The second headline caught my eye and clued me in to the apparently highly competitive world of British Printing. I suppose they should have an S in there since the printers aren't exactly juicing up, nor is it a sport:

February 23, 2004

I think my friends are unbalanced

But it's ok, they're still my friends, and they might say the same thing about me. I was reminded of this since Ralph Nader has decided to run for President, once again defying the constitutional provision requiring the President to be from the United States, let alone born on this planet. At least he's done some good about car safety. Otherwise, we might be driving around with dashboard hibachi grills. Anyhow, this guy continues to run for President, and I'm not sure even he knows why. He's as bad as Kucinich or Al Sharpton. No chance to win, just enough to get a few whackos to vote for him. Now we get to my unbalanced friend. Jimmy wanted to vote for him last time. However, he does has some sense, which is why he's my friend. He let a cooler head prevail and surrendered his vote to Ryan Watson. Now he's got another chance to go for the tree hugger. I say, knock yourself out this time, Jimmy. If you want to go green, go for it. A lot of people think Nader cost Gore Florida last time, which in turn cost him the Presidency. Let's see if Ralph can have another go of it. I don't think he can win, since I'll be elected president before the good people of America elect a President named "Ralph."

February 22, 2004

Ch ch ch changes

It's been a fairly eventful weekend, I'd say. On Friday, we signed the lease on our new apartment. Obviously, the pictures are below. It is a nice place, and we're thrilled to death about it. We just can't wait to have carpet, colored (non-cinderblock) walls, a dishwasher, and appliances that aren't sized for little people. A large part of our Saturday was spent driving around looking at furniture stores to see if there were any sort of used furniture deals to be had. We found a few promising possibilities, but didn't buy anything. The closet space we're gaining can offset the loss of the built in dressers for the time being until we get something we know we want. Then, today and yesterday we started the process of moving our life three miles down the road to Dutch Village. We recruited ourselves a few movers and rented a truck for next Saturday to complete the process. Then we have to clean this place. I doubt the standards are that high, considering the state we found the place. I guess 40 year old building doesn't require hospital-style cleanliness for checkout. The new place, though, we had to sign a special "new carpet" form to make sure we knew what the replacement cost would be if we messed anything up.

We expected all that, however. What was a little less sure a week ago is what I'm about to tell you. I had been trying to find the car for me with the MINI dealer in Virginia Beach, but I was coming up empty. All he had was cars that were more than we wanted to pay. I tried to stay in touch and either he didn't get my messages, or he didn't call me back. No matter; I called the Winston-Salem dealer and he had one coming in threeish weeks that was nearly exactly what we wanted. We talked it over, and I called him back on Saturday. As soon as it arrives at the dealer, Janet and I will go pick up our shiny blue MINI. I'm looking forward to it, and just to make my wait seem that much longer, I can track the car on the MINI website to see where it is. As of today, the car is currently sitting in England waiting to be put on a boat headed for Charleston, South Carolina and on to Winston-Salem.

February 21, 2004

New Place

Our new apartment:


Ladies and Gentlemen

Three True Outcomes

Every once in a while, the boys over at Baseball Prospectus talk about what has been called the Three True Outcomes. I don't think they invented it, but they talk about it when they're trying to have a little fun. The Three True Outcomes got its start with the career of Rob Deer. If you don't remember, Rob was good at three things: drawing walks, hitting home runs, and striking out. These are the Three True Outcomes. They don't involve anyone else on the field except the hitter and the pitcher (the reason they talk about it is that the statistics that are best for evaluating a player are those that don't depend on anyone except pitcher and hitter; this is why RBI is a nearly meaningless statistic). It's all very interesting (well, to me at least) and they give charts and tables trying to figure out who the best TTO player is in a given season. There are people who think it can measure the value of players, and they have reason to believe it. Obviously, home runs and walks are good. However, it has been determined (with a fair amount of certainty) that strikeouts aren't so bad. The argument there is that grounding out to short has no greater value (most of the time) than striking out, and you can't hit into a double play if you strike out. Some evidence to support the TTO theory is that the highest single season TTO%, which is (HR+BB+K)/(AB+BB), was turned in by Mark McGwire in 1998. Current TTO heroes include Adam Dunn of Cincinnati and Jim Thome of Cleveland. The prototypical TTO guy appears to be a power hitter with a good eye who swings and misses a lot. I don't know much about Dunn, but that fits Thome to a T. If you want to know more about, I suggest this article by Rany Jazayerli. The tone is kind of goofy, but he gets the point across that maybe the Indians should have been a little more patient with Russ Branyan.

February 19, 2004

In honor of my job search

I have decided to put my resume in the the blog. Now hire me.

Think about this

Job fairs just depress me. They used to depress me for a different reason. They used to depress me because no one came to them looking for engineers. That was the case at the previous job fair I attended. There we were, James, Amy, Tim, and I walking around trying to find a job in some Holiday Inn in Frederick, Maryland. I'd say the phrase we heard the most that day was, "Are you an accounting major?" There were lots of people looking for those. I should mention, for the sake of full disclosure, that I did end up getting a job offer as a result of attending that job fair, though I have a feeling they were pretty desperate.

The latest job fair depressed me today. No one was looking for accountants, since it was an Engineering job fair, but still, let's paint a mental picture. There were 60-odd companies represented that were all supposedly looking to hire engineers. This turned out to be the case, but there's a problem. The problem is that every graduating engineer in the whole wide world appears to have been there today. So you stand in line, talk to some company representative for five minutes, give them your resume, on which they hastily scribble some notes. Then you go about your business and the next person does the same thing. How do they pick a person from this mess? I have no idea. Another issue for me is that I need to stay in Raleigh, whether I go for the internship or the full time job. I hear Northop-Grumman is snatching people up left and right, but they aren't around here. If I wanted to move to suburban Baltimore, that would work, but not at this point in my life. The way I see it, my main advantage over most people at this fair is my U.S. citizenship. It just makes life easier for companies if you're already legal. Some jobs requre U.S. citizenship, but not the ones I dealt with. There is a company in Raleigh here called Plexus that I think has the job I want, but how do I go about getting the interview? I just have to hope that my resume sparks some interest with whoever I have to impress so that they will call me back. I'm thinking of harassing the woman in charge of HR and recruiting for Raleigh to let her know how interested I am in the job. Yes. I will do it.

February 17, 2004

Pray for Tim's Family

Enough Said

It's a weather emergency

Let me tell you a little bit about snow, since, apparently, this is the first winter they've ever had it here in the Triangle. Of course, this isn't true. It snows every year, but you'd never know it. The schools and news stations about lose their minds when any snow falls. It snowed some last night, but nothing is on the road at all now at 11:30am. However, the Wake County schools are closing early today, and some schools closed at 10am. Mind you, it had stopped snowing by 10am, but the kids all went home. Listening to the television weather reports is like watching Saturday Night Live skits. I've never seen so much fuss over snow when I can still see the grass.

February 14, 2004

Go Pack (as in NC State, not what I should be doing right now)

I went to a wrestling match today. North Carolina State took on Virginia. It was a close match that went down to the last match of the day. Virginia ended up winning 22-21. NC State had to wrestle without their regular 157 and 133 wrestlers. That may have made a difference. I'm not sure if the 133 would have won, but the 157 would definitely have been favored. There were two turning points that swung the match the Cavaliers way. First, at 165, NC State's best guy was wrestling a ranked guy. It was going well until the Virginia guy scored some backpoints and the State guy pulled one of his fingers illegally. After that, the State guy head butted him, and then later hit his face a little too enthusiastically. That ended the match and put 6 points on the scoreboard for Virginia. The Wolfpack almost recovered, though. The 285 match featured a match that the State guy should have won bigger. In the third period, all he had to do was escape and get another takedown, which hadn't looked like it would be a problem up to that point. Instead, he gave up a takedown he never should have given up and ended up winning by 6 instead of 8 or 9. Those were the main turning points that I saw. Secondarily, I had hoped that the State 141 would not get pinned, even though he was wrestling the #1 ranked guy in the country. Also, at 149, the State wrestler scored three first period takedowns, but still ended up with only a regular decision. Obviously, the match didn't hinge on one thing, but those four situations could have made a difference in the match.

February 13, 2004

Boxes

We started packing some stuff up in boxes today. It's a big job to transport everything you own, even if it's just across town. Heck, it's not even across town, it's more like down the street a few miles. The increase in quality is unmistakable, however. No more cinderblock, no more leaky windows and doors. Full sized appliances. Central heat and air. All of the previously mentioned features are not present in our soon to be former apartment. The only drawback is the location, but we'll survive that one, I'm sure. It will be worth it. It's finally time to get out of the college dorm style living spaces and up to grown-up ones. We spent four years at Messiah living like sardines, at least compared to every other college, and now six more months of it. It's time to say, "No more," and move on.

February 12, 2004

A Mother-in-Law Story

You've all heard or seen on television stories of horrible in-laws. My story is nothing of the sort, though some may find it amusing. Janet's mom is what I would call a "compulsive mailer." She mails us things all the time. We probably get a package every other week from her. Oftentimes it arises from us asking for some document. Rather than put it in an envelope with a single stamp, we will receive a box full of whatever was lying around, it seems. We get every issue of Time as well as any mail that still gets sent to Janet in Vermont. Sometimes we get things that Janet left at home on purpose. Mostly, it's just magazines, though. Time, Vegetarian Times, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Cooking Light, that sort of thing. We also get the comics from the Sunday paper. Often, the paper in question is several weeks or even months old. We ask her to stop, but we're not sure she can.

February 10, 2004

Walking

I was walking from class to the car today (I missed the bus, so I drove and parked in the church parking lot, a 10 minute walk, but the weather was nice) and I saw three MINIs on the way to the car. It was more than I expected, that's for sure. All three were parked in faculty lots, which would explain things a little bit. Two of them were Coopers and one was a Cooper S with a spoiler, fog lights, and external driving lights. Someone dropped some serious change on that car. I think if I was going to spend that much money on it, I wouldn't get it in white. White just gets dirty, if you ask me.

February 9, 2004

Turn it off

I have an excellent idea for all you people who think the Grammys weren't that great. Heck, even if you did, my advice is the same: Stop Watching. This is dreck for televison. There is no plot, most bands suck live, and you don't need an awards show to tell you which music you like. Just like you don't need awards to tell you which movies to watch. Just like you don't need awards to tell you which television shows you like.

It's sad the devotion we have to our celebrities. Seriously people, there are more important things in the world. My only conclusion is that the people who are watching these shows don't have enough to do except watch famous people give awards to other famous people while talking about how great they are. Almost makes me want to turn on a Presidential Debate, since at least that contest might affect my life in some small way.

Time to get back to a point I made earlier about how bad bands can be live. Most bands are really no good if you take them away from their mixing machines and make them do it all in one take. There are a few bands that succeed in live performances, and when they do, you know it. I can't even describe how good U2 is live. They probably didn't even lip synch at the Greatest Super Bowl Show Ever (I'll take Bono and The Edge over a Jackson boob anyday. Ralph Wiley on ESPN.com said it was, "Best halftime show I've ever seen." I almost spit orange juice all over the screen when I read that one. Since when is Kid Rock wearing a flag and tossing it around quality entertainment? I think Wiley just liked the ending) Just go get one of their concert DVDs and see it for yourself. I got one as a wedding gift. Even Vikki would like it, since it was filmed at the Fleet Center (good thing, too, since she can hardly talk about cities that aren't in New England without smirking). James Taylor is another good live act, though definitely not for everyone. Fleetwood Mac is good too. I've heard Matchbox 20 puts on a pretty good show, though I don't have any personal experience. Some bands, though, really tank it when put on the spot. I saw Uncle Kracker on the Today Show once, and it was like listening to a different band that didn't make it out of the high school battle of the bands. Sugar Ray did halftime of an NBA game once and he surely didn't have what it takes. I don't have any facts to back it up, but I'm pretty sure Kelly Clarkson's voice is doctored up pretty good by her sound people, since she doesn't sound quite like she used to back in her American Idol days.

February 8, 2004

The best invention ever!

I got one of these V-slicer things from Janet for my birthday. I never thought I would enjoy getting cooking utensils for a birthday, but I had never seen the V-slicer until recently. I chop so many vegetables, and this thing makes it ridiculously easy. You can dice, slice, chop, julienne, whatever you want. I made shredded lettus the other day. Took about 14 seconds to make two salads' worth. Then, yesterday, I diced a tomatoe in about 10 seconds. Vegetables never know what hit them. I made french fries, too, and they were delicious. It's a rare device that you see on infomercials (we actually saw it at the NC State Fair) that actually gets the job done like it says it will. It helped, of course, that Alton Brown of Good Eats whipped on out on his show one time. I was hooked. I'm telling you, if you cook but don't have one of these things, you are missing out. Chopping vegetables with a knife is for suckers.

February 6, 2004

Ed is bye bye

It's all over but the crying now. I don't get to watch Ed anymore. It was a good college thing. It came on my sophomore year, and now it's gone. For a long time, it was the only show I ever watched, at least when the baseball playoffs weren't on. Now, it is no more. I suppose it's a fitting end, now that my friends and I are moving on to bigger and brighter things. At least I'm hoping bigger and brighter things.

Finally, some good news.

Our car is fixed, and well ahead of schedule. Our good buddy James (no, not that one) took us to Durham so we could get the car. All in all, everyone was helpful. James drove us, and the people at Swedish Imports just left the car outside the gate so we could get it any time. It was a heck of deal. The only bad part is the cost of the new fuel pump, but hey, it was worth it. We're hoping this car lasts us a good long time. I'm hoping we can swing it so that we never have to have two car payments at once. Enough for now, Ed is on, and it will never be on again.

February 5, 2004

A Bad Day

What's worse than not being able to go to a wrestling match?
-Not being able to go because your car won't start.

What's worse than not being able to go to a wrestling match because your car won't start?
-Since your car won't start, you can't get your wife at work and she has to ride the bus.

What's worse than not being able to go to a wrestling match because your car won't start and you can't pick your wife up?
-Now that you have no car, you can't go to the store or go out to eat.

What's worse than not being able to go to a wrestling match because your car won't start and you can't pick up your wife or go to the store or get something to eat?
-When it happens on your birthday.

The AAA guy came and took our car away today. Took it to get fixed. No idea what's wrong with it, I just hope it isn't expensive. The car was fine yesterday morning, but now, nothing. Another bad deal is that they won't be able to look at it until Monday. Let's hope they work fast. I don't want to rent a car for a long period of time, since those under 25 fees will get you every time.

February 3, 2004

Toasted Subs

I saw a couple of commercials today for Quizno's Subs. They involve these deranged furry things singing about how much they love subs. If you go to their website, you can see what I'm talking about and even watch them online for yourself. I about fell out of my chair (it's happened before) when I saw these furballs the first time. I can't even describe it or do it a remote amount of justice by trying to explain the hilarity, so you'll have to check it out yourself.

February 2, 2004

Exciting at the end

The Super Bowl was some seriously lousy football with a frantic ending. That ending didn't redeem the rest of the shoddy play. Adam Vinatieri is no hero. He just happened to be the kicker at that time. He also wouldn't have gotten the chance if Kasay hadn't honked the kickoff. My Cowboys won a game on the same kind of deal earlier this season. Vikki just likes to put her propaganda up there for everyone to see. Practically everything she reads is from Boston.com. Instead, try a more objective take on things. 27 scoreless minutes does not a classic make.