25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my friends, family, and those I have never met. I hope this Christmas season has brought you joy and happiness, and I wish peace and good tidings to all! As "President Bartlett" toasted on the "West Wing": "Here's to absent friends, and to those who are here now."

17 December 2008

2008: Year in Review Part I

2008. What an interesting year. Now that it's just a mere 14 days from being over, I thought this would be the perfect instance to focus on what made the past 351 days interesting, awesome, crappy, happy, funny, sad, and monotonous, and what I'd llike to see for the future. Consider this post 1 of a series. Achievements: In 2008, I cannot mention achievements without focusing on my major achievement: graduating college officially in September this year (though I walked in May). My four-year American Political Studies Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Public Administration represented the culmination of 16 years of hard work and dedication. During my school years, I was part of a television news crew, served in the choir, the band, the orchestra, art groups, clubs, was the President of Student Government, moved to Texas and back, excelled in high school, failed miserably at junior high, went to 8 different schools in K-12 grades, gave the graduation speech at my high school, applied for and was accepted at NAU, joined the College Republicans, ran for CR Vice-Chairman, interned for a US Congressman for 2 years, wrote the Constitutions for three different organizations, traveled to DC and Europe, became a resident assistant for Mountain View Hall, made lots of friends, had great jobs, became unemployed, and finally graduated. There is only one thing I regret never having in my school years, and if you know me well, you know what that is. Outside of myself, the world in 2008 has become a transformed place. In America, we elected our first black president this year after the longest election cycle in history. We also have seen the economy crash and burn in a matter of months, to the worst it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We are still waging the War on Terror, and though significant strides have been made this year, it is likely that conflict over the United States' policies will continue for some time. During the past year, Russia has become more and more aggressive, first with its invasion of Georgia and now with reports that Russian warships are being sent to Cuba. Evil dictators and governments abound, what with Zimbabwe refusing to take care of its citizens, North Korea's continued instability with regard to its nuclear regime, and Venezuela's idiot president being, well, an idiot. On the positive side, 2008 saw the Olympic Games held in Beijing, China, where American swimmer Michael Phelps broke the all-time most gold medals in one Games record with 8 in his events. "The Dark Knight" broke many box office records with the outstanding (and sadly, posthumous) performance of Heath Ledger as "The Joker," for which he deserves to earn a posthumous Oscar or something. The Large Hadron Collider was officially turned on and tested, and though it worked for the test, it subsequently broke down and is currently under repair. Just the other day, officials confirmed the case finally closed for the murder of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh's son Adam - very good news after so long a wait. And though we hoped, the discovery of a "real" Bigfoot carcass turned out to be a hoax in the form of a rubber suit. Politically, achievements for the anti-gay-marriage crowd came in the form of Arizona's Prop 102, inserting an amendment into the State Constitution making marriage between a man and a woman only. Blacks achieved the honor of having the first minority president be from their race, while women had many opportunities to have the first woman president (in Hillary Clinton) and Vice-President (in Sarah Palin). Some headway was created into the energy crisis, after a group of Republicans staged a sit-in in the House of Representatives during the fall recess demanding that Speaker Pelosi call the House back into session and concede to a bill allowing drilling along with alternative energy options. Subsequently, we achieved both the highest price of gasoline ever around $5.00 per gallon, and what might be the biggest drop in prices from $5.00 to the current $1.55 near my house. 2008 was definitely a fun year for politics, though not so fun for Republicans. Very few survived the onslaught of anti-GOP sentiment carried over from 2006 and magnified by a lackluster presidential candidate (McCain) and plenty of evidence that the Republicans needed a wake-up call back to small-government principles. Stay tuned for Part II of my Year in Review!

13 December 2008

Irony

Why's it so hard to find something to do in Mesa, Arizona? Especially if you're not into the bar-slash-getting drunk scenes? I have been wracking my brain all day trying to think of something to do this afternoon here, but I have come up empty-handed. It's actually a little ironic: I want to do something that requires me not sitting at home being bored, and the lack of anything to do is requiring me to sit at home being bored! (I love irony....) To that end, why is it so difficult to find people to do something with? Even if I did come up with an idea, all of my friends either don't want to do anything or live much too far away and it's not reasonable for them to drive all the way out in the boondocks where I live. How does an unemployed, out-of-school graduate with no real ties to anything in Mesa FIND new friends? I mean, one place would be the local bars, which are essentially hangouts for twenty-to-thirty-something people who are bored and like to drink. I am not much for alcohol, and I really prefer someplace a lot quieter than most bars around here. Another place would, I imagine, be a church, but I'd really like to make some friends that I can see outside of the 8am service time. I just don't know.

12 December 2008

Friday Evening Movie Review

WARNING: Please do not read further if you do not want to know more about the specifics of the movie. As some would say: Spoilers ahead! * * * * * I gotta say, I just came from seeing this movie, and I don't think it's as bad as has been portrayed. I'm not 63 years old, and I wasn't around when the first version was introduced, so I'm in the target audience for the 2008 release. First off, the movie was pretty much as I envisioned it: a decent sci-fi movie about the impending destruction of the human race by intergalactic beings who view us as a threat. I mean, if you were looking for more than that, some sort of message, then I guess you came away disappointed, but I for one was not looking to be preached at about how we're slowly poisoning the Earth through global warming, on the brink of worldwide nuclear war, or consuming the resources of the planet faster than we should be. I get enough of that stuff on the evening news. It was intended as entertainment, not as a 1950's parable, and it succeeded in entertaining me for 110 minutes. Regarding the acting, well, it's Keanu Reeves.... If you were expecting brilliant oratory, maybe you should have gone and seen "Frost/Nixon" or some sort of Shakespearian drama. What I didn't find was overly cheesy acting, which was what I expected. It was dry in some parts, sure, but not laughable like has been suggested. I liked the interplay between the kid, Helen and Klaatu; it made the movie's premise about Klaatu changing his mind about the human condition much more believable. One of the previous commenters [on MSNBC.com] suggested that all Helen did was plead that "We can change...!" the whole time, but I say that the actions of the characters in the movie speak louder than their words. Finally, regarding the science: I liked how they protrayed the "nanotechnology" as little bugs that pretty much ate everything in their paths; kind of a cool twist on an old theme. I first read about nanites in Crichton's novels, and I've been interested in the subject ever since. Making the nanites akin to bugs reinforced the "cleansing the Earth of all but the basest lifeforms" theme. One problem I had, though, was this: how did the nanites distinguish between human flesh and animal/plant cells? Can they actually be programmed to recognize and consume artificial materials and the specific human DNA pattern while leaving everything else? All-in-all, it was a movie I would watch again for the sheer entertainment value. Happy moviegoing to the rest of you!

08 December 2008

Chez Geek

It's official: I won the MSNBC Geek Gift contest, put on by Cosmic Log blogger and MSNBC Science Editor Alan Boyle. About an hour ago, Mr. Boyle called to congratulate me and let me know I'd won. I chose to claim the "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions" DVD box set and "13 Things That Don't Make Sense" book as my prizes. All told, I garnered approximately 25% of the 630 votes cast (158), beating the next closest person (who submitted a suggestion for a Zydeco Musical Tie which even I find geeky..., but would probably find SOME occasion to wear it anyway) by 32 votes, assuming my math is correct. Thanks to all my friends who checked my notes on Facebook and cast a vote in my favor. There are too many of you to name here, but you know who you are! I'll be thanking you again when I start watching the NASA box set! Also thanks to Mr. Boyle for the contest.... it was fun to participate, and hopefully you will have many new readers for the Cosmic Log now that I sent invitations to 300-some-odd people for the contest! For those of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about, please refer to the following sources: 1. My original blog post pleading for votes 2. Cosmic Log's original article announcing the finalists

06 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

Today marks stop #6 on the Holiday Advent Tour, and I'm happy that I get to be a part of sharing in it. So, Merry Christmas!
Now, you may be wondering why I say that with such gusto.... Well, today is the first of two Christmas Days that I celebrate! That's right, I celebrate Dutch Christmas AND the regular American Christmas on Dec. 25th.
Being 1/2 Dutch from my Dad's side of the family, the traditions of Sinterclaas carried on through my grandfathers and my father and became a part of my family; I look forward to passing it on to my children someday!
On December 5th, the date of Saint Nickolas' death, each of the six people in my family lays out their wooden shoes (yes, I own a pair of wooden clogs) under the Christmas tree and goes to bed so that Sinterclaas (Santa Claus) will come, with his elves, called Zwarte Pieten (Dark Helpers). Riding across rooftops on his white horse dressed in a bright red bishop's robe, complete with a staff and mitre, Sinterclaas looks very much like what you'd expect the Catholic Saint Nickolas to look like. Sinterclaas keeps a list of all the children who've been good (they get candies and small toys which fit in the wooden shoes) and bad (they get carted off to uncharted lands in a big sack).
But enough history! My family sticks our wooden shoes under the tree, goes to bed, and *magically!* the next morning, they are filled with little toys, gift cards, and peppermints! That day, I ALWAYS wear a big Santa hat to pay tribute to the holiday, and I absolutely love it when a hundred people stop me at school or work to ask me why I'm celebrating Christmas so early!
So, if you ever see a guy wearing a Santa hat on Dec. 6th, saying 'Merry Christmas' to everyone and getting lots of quizzical stares, just know that he might be Dutch and is celebrating Christmas!
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

03 December 2008

VOTE FOR ME!

I am a winner! At least, that's what I hope I get to write on Tuesday Dec. 9th.... You see, MSNBC's Science department held a contest recently asking for the best geeky Christmas gift suggestions, and out of a vast amount of them, I was chosen as one of 15 finalists for the award - as voted on by the public! The winner in the voting as of 3pm EST on Monday, Dec. 8th will win their choice of five cool (and geeky, of course) prizes, like the "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions DVD box set, awesome coffee-table space books, the biography of Albert Einstein, or "13 Things That Don't Make Sense" by Michael Brooks. The #1 voting winner gets first pick of the prizes, #2 gets second, and so on. So I'm pleading for your help, my friends and readers, to vote for my gift suggestion: a sweatshirt or t-shirt from www.XKCD.com, the "super hip science [comic] strip" according to Alan Boyle, the contest admin. To help me achieve my goal of becoming the ultimate geek, go to: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/12/03/1697462.aspx and at the end of the article, click on "CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE TOP GEEK GIFT!" and vote for the "XKCD Sweatshirt option! If I win, I'll post about it on Tuesday the 9th, so check back then, and thanks a LOT for your help!

02 December 2008

Cooking

Lately, I've been taking up the chore of cooking for my family while I am stuck at home job hunting, so I've been using the time to experiment a bit with dishes I like. Last night, dinner came out GREAT so I figured I'd share what I did with my friends. Chicken Parmesan Ingredients: 1 package of spaghetti/linguini noodles 1 large jar of spaghetti sauce 4-6 cleaned, uncooked boneless chicken breasts 1 box Shake 'n' Bake Parmesan Garlic mix 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese Parmesan cheese to taste A pinch of salt About 2 tsp. olive oil Hot water Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). On the stove on high heat, boil about 4 quarts of hot water on the stove, add salt and oil (so the pasta doesn't stick together). 2. While the pasta water is heating up, clean and rinse your chicken breasts. Follow instructions on the Shake 'n' Bake packaging to coat the chicken breasts with the parmesan garlic breading. 3. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, coat each breast with mozzarella cheese and place back in oven for about 6-7 more minutes until cheese is bubbly and browning. 4. When your pasta water at a rolling boil, take your noodles, break them in half and add them to the water (this helps it cook evenly). Stir continuously for about 12 minutes until the pasta is tender to taste. 5. When done, drain pasta and place in a large bowl. Stir in spaghetti sauce until pasta is well-coated. 6. Place about 1 1/2 cups of pasta on each of four plates. Top with one chicken breast. Add parmesan cheese as desired. Enjoy! Cook time: About 45 minutes to an hour Serves: 4 Dessert: Andrew's YAF-Style Pudding Cups Ingredients: 1 small container of blackberries 1 small container of raspberries 1 small container of blueberries 4 leaves fresh mint 6 packets of Jell-o vanilla pudding singles 3 cups milk Chocolate sauce 4 half-glasses or tumblers Directions: 1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, pour milk and pudding packets together, and stir rapidly until evenly mixed (it will look like watery vanilla pudding). Pour even amounts immediately into each of the tumblers or half-glasses. (NOTE: You must pour the mixture before it starts to set up - about 5 minutes - or it's a pain in the butt.) 2. Wash and dry sixteen each of the raspberries and blackberries and all of the blueberries and mint leaves. 3. Once the pudding has set up a bit so the berries don't sink into the surface much, arrange the berries atop the pudding. Feel free to be creative here, but I arranged mine like a compass: blackberries at the north, south, east, and west points; blackberries at the north-east, north-west, south-east, and south-west points, and a small handful of blueberries in the middle. 4. Top the berries with one of the mint leaves. 5. Cover with plastic wrap or tinfoil, and place the tumblers in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill. You can serve the pudding immediately if you want, but I think it's better cold. Enjoy! Cook time: 10 minutes plus refrigerator time Serves: 4

01 December 2008

100th Post

Wow.... I cannot believe I've kept this blog going through 100 posts. I started this baby as "The View From Flagstaff" back in February at the suggestion of Chelsea from A Fish Out of Water, who thought it would be interesting to hear how I was doing throughout my last semester of college. Now that I've graduated, received my diploma, and gone through an election cycle with The View From Arizona, I couldn't be happier to dedicate my 100th Post to Chelsea for getting me going! Thanks!

29 November 2008

Happy Birthday

... to me. I'm 23 today!

28 November 2008

Bolt: The Super Dog

(Photo comes from www.allmoviephoto.com, Bolt is copywrited to Walt Disney Pictures.)

Another movie review for you, and this time it is Walt Disney Pictures' Bolt, the story of a dog raised to believe he is a superhero but is in reality an actor for a hit television series. After many years as "Bolt the Superdog," Bolt really thinks he has superspeed, a Super Bark, can leap over tall objects in a single bound, and can crash through walls!

After the studio decides to up the ante on its program, Bolt's owner Penny is "captured" on set by "the Green-Eyed Man" and taken away. Bolt, believing he must rescue Penny, escapes his ruse of a life and winds up in New York, struggling to understand why his powers have vanished (maybe the styrofoam?). He, his captured cat guide Mittens, and a pudgy Uber-fan of the TV show Rhino the hamster set off to return to Hollywood in search of the truth.

I must say, I really enjoyed the movie, and my sister did too. It was funny, well-animated, and had a nice story with multi-dimensional characters. The moral of the story, though not overbearing, was well executed: loyalty to your friends brings happiness for yourself. If you have enjoyed other Disney movies (Disney/Pixar movies like The Incredibles or Finding Nemo) then I would recommend that you check this one out too. Good for kids (and kids-at-heart) of all ages!

Black Friday

It's the most... wonderful time... of the year. Black Friday! The one day a year when stampedes over the last XBox 360 at Wal-Mart which kill one employee and cause a woman to miscarry are more-or-less accepted by society. I mean, to save $29.99 on that must-have Christmas sweater, it's totally worth it to juke the security guards and bust down store doors! Not to say I've never done shopping on Black Friday, because I have: last year I won a $500 Visa gift card from Arizona Mills Mall on Black Friday from a drawing I entered at 6am. Then I went shopping in the mall for a bit, and nabbed some nice deals. But I have never seen anything so like a feeding frenzy before as this day! Good luck and Godspeed to those of you who are brave enough to attempt Wal-Mart today! In other news, my family totally forgot my birthday isn't until tomorrow. I woke up this morning and my dad and brother came into the den with a joyous "Happy birthday!" only to have me remind them that today is 11/28/2008, and my birthday is 11/29/2008. Needless to say, my dad now feels "old" and "forgetful." (Sorry Dad! Next time I'll just stay quiet and eat the cake!) Otherwise, I may or may not be suffering from an acute allergic attack at the moment due to the high amount of dust/pollen in the air, or I may just be getting a cold. Either way, it sucks!

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, while we have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry and pumpkin bread, green bean casserole, jello, yams, and assorted other foods, I would like to thank some of the special people in my life for being there when I needed them and for being my friends: Scott: Of course, #1 on my list, you've always been my best friend. I am thankful for the time we get to spend together playing video games or watching bad anime! Ryan: I always enjoy our discussions. It's not often I can find someone who won't put up with my crap and will call me out on it! I look forward to many more intellectual conversations at midnight at Tempe Marketplace! Kaylynn: Always fun, never dull when we hang out getting coffee or whatever. You're absolutely, unequivocally CRAZY, but then again, so am I so it works! Max: Ah, Max, you're the bomb - coming to put up with me and my sign-posting madness during the election, and now going to Europe! You still need to email me your stuff, by the way.... My family: Well, I could have been screwed for a place to live after college, so it's nice to be home for that, and even though it's a pain having me home putting a strain on resources in a tough time, I love you all! All my other friends: If you didn't get mentioned by name here right now, FEAR NOT! It's mostly because of the triptophan and my strong desire to fall asleep right now. Zzzzzzzz! But really, you know who you are, and I thank you for all you do! People like Chris, Chelsea, Blake, other Chris, Jenn, Tim, the View Crew, Ryan and Summer, and more! "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God." - Thessalonians 5:18 (I know I'm not the most religious person, but this verse seems especially appropriate!)

25 November 2008

A Bond Bombshell

And not the good kind, either. Last week I went to see the opening of the newest Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace." What a disappointment, let me tell you. While I do like Daniel Craig as Bond, this movie was nothing like the Bond of old - a singular bad guy working for "the other side" whether that be Commies, terrorists, or mad scientists hell bent on world domination. Instead, Bond was just another guy with a gun, pissed off because of Vesper's death and betrayal, who decides to go on a killing rampage. The plot of the movie involves something about the lead Bond girl's (Olga Kurylenko as Camille) desire for her own brand of revenge and the plot to take over a country's water supply in the middle of the desert. Thus, obviously giving tons of money and power to the South American thugs who will sell Aquafina at ridiculously obscene prices to the starving (and dehydrated) Bolivian natives. Along the way, a new criminal terrorist organization is introduced, Quantum, whose sole purpose is to meet at the opera in plain sight and communicate through throat microphones. Not really, but that's what you get from the film. I guess they're the H2O-deprived masterminds who thought up the take-all-the-water plot, but it's not really completely clear. I don't think I even heard the line "The name is Bond. James Bond." anywhere in the entire movie. Recap: No plot. No desirable Bond women. No "bad guy." Bond's character is monodimensional and dull. No memorable chase scenes, explosions, or special effects to speak of. I give it a major thumbs down, and I would not recommend it to my friends unless it happens to be on Spike TV sometime in the future and you've got 2 hours to kill. Hopefully the next Bond will bring the character back to the martini-drinking, shaken-not-stirred, tuxedo-wearing, Goldfinger-thrashing badass we all love!

22 November 2008

Snow in Phoenix Yesterday?

Yesterday night, it was snowing in Mesa near my house. Or at least I thought it was. I was driving out to hang with my friend Scott, and all of a sudden I noticed little white flecks catapulting on my windshield and beginning to cover the roadway. For a split second my brain went "HUH?!?" Then I saw the truck about a quarter mile in front of me, filled with pillows, a couple of which had split open, and small down feathers were flying out of the bed of the truck. The "snowstorm" was about the closest we'll come to winter weather in Phoenix, so it was pretty cool, even if it wasn't real!

21 November 2008

Non Sequitur

Okay, so I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to start this post, and I really have no good way to do so. It's not like a story, where you can just begin with the old standby "It was a dark and stormy night," and it's not like a techincal paper which requires a table of contents and a formal introductory paragraph (yay college term papers), so it can be tricky. Do you begin with "so, this week..." blah blah blah, or start off with the infamous "I did..." blah blah "then I did..." blah blah blah? Either way, I foresee epic failure. Maybe I'll try this: the word of the day from Merriam-Webster.com is "non sequitur," meaning "it does not follow" in Latin. Okay, that's technically two words, but whatever. Their problem. This week has been a bit of a non sequitur for me. Logically, nothing I did this week was really well-related to anything else I did. I need a job, but I decided that with what little cash I actually have, I would go to Flagstaff last weekend. Mind you, it was TOTALLY worth it, but nonetheless, it was something more spur of the moment get-me-the-hell-out-of-Phoenix-esque than logical for my situation. Ryan went along with me, after much arm-twisting, and we both had a good time seeing some old friends from Mountain View and Taylor Halls, hiking in the gorgeous weather, and hanging out at some of the local bars like the Wine Loft and Rendezvous, neither of which I had been to more than once before. (I actually did find a great wine I like called "Bommarito" - a red Cabernet Sauvignon.) Then, the job hunt continued most of my week until yesterday, where I took a break from job hunting to - what else? - work. I substitute taught for a sixth grade class at the school my mom works for, which wasn't a bad gig, but I'm really finding I don't enjoy elementary teaching. If I was going to be a teacher in the future, it would have to be high school to college teaching, because I think I would be a better fit there. It's hard to have thoughtful discussions on whatever with a bunch of 12-year-olds. Still, it's not a hard job to substitute, and it pays $90 a day, so it's some pocket change every now and then. After teaching, I came home and flipped on the news - a habit more than anything now - and there was ABC15's Daphne Monroe talking about the great deal of the day: $50 in free Thanksgiving groceries from Albertsons to the first 50 people at a couple select locations around the valley. Well, hell, who's going to pass up free everything non-perishable you will need for Thanksgiving (paper plates, cups, towels, canned goods, soda, juice, au gratin potatoes, stuffing mix, etc.) if given the opportunity. So I drove out to one of the locations, and I was number 49 of 50 in line to get the groceries! Good times! Mom was happy. Today, I've been fairly productive. My dad left me with a mandate that if I was going to be home all day, instead of job searching in the morning, I should (okay, had to) clean up the house, dishes, all that crap instead. So, after about four hours of work, the house looks great, and I even have dinner all laid out for tonight for them. I just have to cook it at 5:30 or so. Ham and salami paninis with fresh-sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and peppers on toasted sourdough with kettle chips, bacon and potato salad, and a pickle spear. For drinks, Arnold Palmers (lemonade-iced tea mix).

13 November 2008

42 Days 'Til Christmas

I'm really on the ball this year. There are 42 days left until Christmas Day (which means 41 shopping days left, for you procrastinators) and I am proud to say that I am DONE with my gift-getting. I had it all planned in advance, I had some money from my temporary election job, and I got it all done within the past week. The only thing left is to get the addresses of my friends for whom I do not have addresses. I sent you all out emails, so please respond! Now all I have to worry about is the job hunt and budgeting the rest of my money to maximize its effectiveness in said job hunt.

09 November 2008

A Collection Complete

I finally completed a collection near and dear to me: all seven seasons of "The West Wing," possibly my favorite TV show of all time. Circuit City near my house is going out of business, and they were liquidating their entire stock of everything, including DVDs. So I got the last season in my collection for dirt cheap!
For those of you who don't know, The West Wing stars Martin Sheen as the President of the United States, and follows him and his staff throughout the President's two terms of office, beginning shortly after Inauguration Day of the first term, and ending on Inauguration Day of the new POTUS eight years later. The show was nominated for, and won, many Emmy Awards, and its cast is phenomenal, including Allison Janning as CJ Cregg (press secretary and later Chief of Staff), John Spencer as Leo McGarry (CoS and later Vice-Presidential candidate), Bradley Whitford as Joshua Lyman (deputy CoS and Santos for President campaign manager), and many others.
Written by Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay genius and mastermind of such films and shows as "The American President," "A Few Good Men," "Schindler's List," "The Rock," and "Charlie Wilson's War," the show has done everything from exploring a possible presidential assassination plot and following the post-traumatic stress syndrome of characters afterward, to terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip, to exploring the tensions between Christians and Muslims in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael" which ran immediately after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, to enduring the death of John Spencer from a heart attack (coincidentially not long after his character had a major heart attack on the show).
If you are even remotely interested in a good TV drama show that is funny, well-written, and very intelligent (you won't get your fix of brain-cell-killing slapstick humor here), I encourage you to check out the show!

08 November 2008

Now That It's Over

It's time to get back to basics. I'm talking food, water, shelter, JOB here. And so thus begins the great job search yet again! I'm well aware that it won't be easy: jobless rates in the country today are as bad as ever at 6.5%, and the economy only looks to be declining further in the coming weeks. It's pretty much time to hunker down and try to wait out the storm more than actively searching for employment, but search I shall. Otherwise, now that election '08 is finally over, I'm sort of bored. There's no more polling data to look up, very few "too-close-to-call" races left to adjudicate, and people in general seem to be pretty well done with talking politics or baseball (my favorite subjects!). My birthday is actually right around the corner, on Nov. 29th, right after Thanksgiving, which only means that both days will get combined into one celebration. Kind of like having a Dec. 25th birthday; a bit lackluster. On the plus, Phoenix has gotten much, much cooler in recent days, with highs in the mid-70s to upper-80s, and it's actually quite nice. Now all we need are some trees and grass here and it would be nice. Maybe a lake. I am going to try to head out to Circuit City today, as they are liquidating everything in their stores out here in Mesa, going out of business. Maybe I can find a decent laptop for relatively cheap? That would be nice. Updates to follow!

05 November 2008

Results

ELECTION 2008
Well, Americans, once more you have gone the route of change, though not for the better. Yesterday, you voted for a move to socialism and big government, rather than for sound economic policy and a more limited government. Indeed, we all kind of knew it was coming, because the Republican Party has done little to earn your trust as the party of fiscal restraint, limited government, and sound judgement and morals over the last eight years, but it's still a little disheartening and disappointing. In 2006, voters cast their ballots against Republicans - not for Democrats, a big distinction. In 2008, however, the Republican Party really let conservatives down. Voters voted in liberal ideologues, and for at least two years, we're stuck with that decision. As a party, Republicans are now at a tipping point. Will we tip backwards and become the party of yesteryear, resigned to a fate as the minority in the House, Senate, and White House? Or will we tip forward and work harder to reclaim the majority by getting back to the fundamental principles of conservatism? The 210-plus people we have sent back as Republican delegates to Congress will tell. It's on their heads now. Perhaps Congressman Jeff Flake (R - AZ06) said it best in his guest column "A Way Out of the Wilderness" in the Washington Post this morning:
"There is reason for Republicans to feel optimism. Politically, America remains a center-right country, and America loves a chastened and repentant sinner. As surely as the sun rises in the east, the Democrats will overreach. As long as we Republicans are willing to admit our folly, get back to first principles and work like there's no tomorrow, we've got 'em just where we want 'em."
To Senator McCain, you fought a long, greuling campaign and impressed a lot of people. I am glad you will be coming back to work for the State of Arizona in the Senate. I was at the Biltmore Hotel last night for the results party, and I was moved by how gracious your election concession speech was - your pledge to support President-elect Obama in the Senate, your call to action for your supporters to do the same, and your heartfelt thanks to all those who had made a difference in your campaign. To President-elect Obama, congratulations. Your election is an historic one. While I remain skeptical of your policy positions, I will be among those watching your presidency very closely in the hopes that you do bring some good to our country as you have promised. Good luck, and God speed. To the American electorate, while I am disappointed in your choice, I understand it and was not surprised by it. I urge every citizen of this country to look back on the campaigns that were just fought, and do you part to hold our leaders accountable for their actions in Congress and the White House. In four years, we'll start all this madness again, and it's your right, your duty, and your responsibility to be ready to make the best choice for America at that time. ---------------------- Arizona Results: President: John McCain (54%-45%) CD-1: Ann Kirkpatrick CD-2: Trent Franks CD-3: John Shadegg CD-4: Ed Pastor CD-5: Harry Mitchell CD-6: Jeff Flake CD-7: Raul Grijalva CD-8: Gabby Giffords Prop 100 and Prop 102 passed Prop 101, 105, 200, 201, 202, and 300 failed Maricopa County Sheriff: Joe Arpaio MC Attorney: Andrew Thomas Corporation Commission: S. Kennedy, S. George, and P. Newman (the so-called "Solar Team") LD19 House: Kirk Adams and Rich Crandall LD19 Senate: Chuck Gray

04 November 2008

How We're Voting II

How We're Voting

Breaking Down the Election

Poll Closing Times (all EST): [Battleground States in BOLD] 6:00pm: Most of Indiana, eastern Kentucky 7:00pm: Florida peninsula, Georgia, Indiana, western Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia 7:30pm: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia 8:00pm: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (western panhandle), Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (most of state), Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, eastern South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (most of state) 8:30pm: Arkansas 9:00pm: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan (rest of state), Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, western South Dakota, Texas (rest of state), Wisconsin, Wyoming 10:00pm: southern Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, eastern North Dakota, eastern Oregon, Utah 11:00pm: California, Hawaii, northern Idaho, western North Dakota, western Oregon, Washington 12:00am: Alaska 1:00am: Alaska (Aleutian Islands) As you can see, by 9pm EST, 3/4 of the "battleground" swing states will be closing their polls, and we will see who wins this election. Of course, if some states like North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida remain too close to call (within about 4-5 percentage points), the night could get interesting! Now, not only are we voting for the highest executive office in the land, but also for 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the Senate, eleven Governors, and incalculable local races and ballot propositions. Here are some of the more interesting races to watch this evening. Many people are predicting a Democratic landslide overall: House: 250 Dem, 185 Rep Senate: 58 Dem, 42 Rep (note that this is 2 seats shy of a 60-seat supermajority for the Dems; it will be very interesting to see if there are any surprise red-to-blue flips in Senate seats to get them there) Governors: 29 Dem, 21 Rep (currently there are five Rep seats up for election and 6 Dem seats; the only one really contested is Indiana, where it could flip) For Arizona: My predictions for the major races in the state of Arizona: President: John McCain by 8 points (54-46) CD-1: Kirkpatrick CD-2: Franks CD-3: Shadegg CD-4: Pastor CD-5: Mitchell CD-6: Flake CD-7: Grijalva CD-8: Giffords Corporation Commissioner: McClure, Stump, Wong County Attorney: Thomas County Recorder: Purcell County Sheriff: Arpaio Prop 100: No Prop 101: No Prop 102: Toss up, I'm guessing Yes Prop 105: Yes Prop 200: Toss up, I'm guessing No Prop 201: No Prop 202: No Prop 300: No LD-19 (my district) House: Adams and Crandall Senate: C. Gray We'll see how I do come tomorrow!

03 November 2008

The West Wing

Today, I am reminded of one of my favorite television shows, "The West Wing" which has since ended after seven great seasons. I was thinking today about one particular episode, and indeed one quote. It's the one where Sam Seaborne flies out to Orange County, California, where Will Bailey is running the campaign of a man who died, but whose name will still appear on the ballot. Sam asks Will to stop, because the campaign is becoming "an embarassment to the President" and Will abruptly ends the conversation and starts to walk away. On the way out the door, they stop to talk to a couple little girls who have been making campaign posters.
GIRLS: "We did the PSA." WILL: "Let me see. Very nice. But do me a favor - read this for me." GIRLS: "It doesn't matter who you vote for, make sure you vote!" WILL: "I like the sentiment, but the thing is, I think it does matter who you vote for. What if it said, 'No matter who you vote for, make sure you vote!' What do you think?" GIRLS: "Good."
In this election today, I too think it matters who you vote for. So in the words of Will Bailey, for Election Day, November 4th, 2008, NO MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR, MAKE SURE YOU VOTE! Happy Election Day!

One Day Out

Currently, we are now less than one day out from Election Day, and this is my plea to all of the people reading this blog to get out and vote. Not only is it your civic duty, but this election stands as one of the most important of this generation. The mainstream media is already comparing it in importance to the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. For those of us in the Mesa area, you will not only have the opportunity to vote for President of the United States, for which office there are five candidates (Dem., Rep., Lib., Grn., and Ind.), but also for the U.S. House of Representatives, County Attorney, County Assessor, Sheriff, Special Healthcare Board, Corporation Commissioner, School Board, the retaining of judges to the bench, and a host of very important propositions which could seriously have an impact on Arizona's economy and society. Most of you who read this will already know for whom my votes have been cast, and I would urge you to consider those people and Propositions accordingly, but ultimately, just make sure you get out tomorrow and cast your own ballot! God bless America!

31 October 2008

I Voted Today

This evening after work, I went and cast my early ballot at the Mesa early voting location. When I say that, however, it's important to grasp the full meaning of those words. I did not simply walk into the elections office, grab a ballot, and turn it in. I stood in line. For four hours. I didn't mind it so much because I didn't have anything I was doing tonight (a bit sad really, Friday night, Halloween, and I was early voting...). Now, I'm all about democracy and the need of the indivdual to vote, but really, I don't honestly blame those people who decided to leave and potentially not cast a ballot at all because the line was nearly as bad as the one to get in to see "Star Wars Episode III" on opening night. I am kind of partial to the idea of getting rid of this early balloting and instituting "Election Week" in the country rather than this mess of early voting, mail-in voting, and Election Day (singular) voting. Make it a week, and everyone who wants to vote will have ample time to do so. But anyway, I voted, got my sticker, and have all my free time on Tuesday to help out with Election Day activities where I can. I can't wait to see the results!

29 October 2008

Phillies Defeat Rays

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies are World Champions of Baseball after they finally won the World Series 4 games to 1 this evening, overtaking the Tampa Bay Rays in the city of brotherly love. I say finally only because game 5 of the Series was actually delayed by about 46 hours due to rain. Technically speaking, the game was "suspended" under a new baseball rule that only took effect in 2007 which states that a game which must be called due to weather, technical failure, etc., and which has met certain qualifications (like the away team ties or changes the lead in the top half of an inning and the home team does not get a chance to bat), will be suspended until such time as that game can be rescheduled and started from the point at which it was suspended. Because on Monday, the rain got so bad during the middle of the sixth inning (actually, they probably shouldn't have even started the game, but whatever) and the Rays had just tied the score at 2-2, without the Phillies having a chance to bat in the bottom of the sixth, the game was suspended until 5:30pm Arizona time today and restarted in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Lidge, if you're curious, got his (still perfect) 7th postseason save for the Phillies, and Pedro Feliz knocked through the winning run in the 7th inning (second inning of play tonight).

27 October 2008

The "Arizona Republic" Endorses Jeff Flake

Thought I'd post this for your enjoyment, along with a letter to the editor I wrote in response below:
Flake a good fit for East Valley Oct. 27, 2008

Even the worst storms leave pockets of undisturbed calm . . . isolated spots amid the wreckage left untouched by the devastating winds.

That pretty much describes the 2008 election season for Rep. Jeff Flake, R-District 6. Opportunistic Democrats are pouring millions into formerly safe Republican congressional districts, seeking to maximize the anticipated rout of the GOP this year.

But Flake's East Valley district? Well, even this crazy election isn't crazy enough to render the conservative Flake vulnerable in one of the West's most conservative congressional districts.

Conservative with a healthy dollop of libertarian, Jeff Flake is a good fit for District 6. The Republic recommends that district voters do exactly as they seem inclined to do, which is to return Flake to Congress.

Flake is opposed by Democrat Rebecca Schneider, and Libertarian Party candidate Rick Biondi. Schneider is an earnest political neophyte. Biondi, meanwhile, freely admits that there are "very few actions (Flake) has taken that I wouldn't take myself," thus negating any meaningful rationale for ousting the incumbent.

Consistently wary of government intrusion, Flake has never been an easy vote for the Bush administration. He managed to insert six amendments into the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He will continue to argue persistently for free trade, even with the likes of Cuba. And, as always, we expect Flake will continue to shine a light on inappropriate federal spending.

The Republic recommends District 6 voters retain Republican Jeff Flake for Congress.

Letter to the Editor: "Dear "Republic" Editorial Board, "I was very happy to see that the Republic has endorsed Congressman Jeff Flake for re-election in Congressional District 6. As a newly graduated College Republican from Flagstaff, I have worked with Congressman Flake's campaign in the past and in the present, and I know him to be not only an upstanding citizen and a leader for my district, but a traditional conservative as well - something of a rarity in today's political climate. "From his stand against government waste to his Goldwater-esque stance on limited government power, Jeff Flake represents what the Republican Party used to be known for, and what it must embrace again for the future if our country is to continue to prosper. "Thank you, Arizona Republic Editorial Board, for remembering that the best leaders in Congress aren't always the ones who conform to outdated Washington norms, but who instead try to make government work for "we the people." Jeff Flake is just such a tried and true leader, and the people of the sixth district would be sorely remiss if they did not return him to Congress come November 4th. Andrew Meeusen"

25 October 2008

Reading List

I'm finally finishing up with "The Eight" by Katherine Neville, and I'm looking forward to my new books yet to be read: "The Last Oracle" by James Rollins "Painting the Map Red" by Hugh Hewitt "Legend" by the guy who wrote "Event" "The Execution Channel" that I checked out of the library Also, I kind of want to get "The Fire" by Neville, to see if her sequel to "The Eight" stacks up.

24 October 2008

Meeting Jeff Flake

Yesterday evening, Congressman Jeff Flake went to the Arizona State University College Republicans' meeting to speak about the election and the upcoming opportunities the CRs would have to volunteer to keep Arizona a red state (whereas it is currently purple trending royal blue). I also attended, both to meet the congressman and to see the ASUCRs, whom I had not seen in a couple years since Junior year of college. So, making a long story short, I did finally meet Congressman Flake, who is a very cool guy, even though he semi-not-really-referred to me as "John Murtha" while talking about the manner in which earmarks are appropriated! The CRs also seemed to enjoy having him there, and definitely enjoyed his jokes and being able to ask him some questions about earmarks, banking, and the propositions here in Arizona. I'm way glad I have the opportunity to work on his campaign, and I hope I'll be a part of his work in the future!

21 October 2008

Walter Cronkite

This evening I attended the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication's forum on the First Amendment, in celebration of Freedom Week. It was your basic panel discussion, with panelists from the Tuscon news media, Arizona Republic, Justice Andrew Hurwitz from the Arizona Supreme Court, and an attorney whose name I didn't quite catch except to say it was David. They discussed the first amendment to the Constitution as it pertains to journalism, specifically freedom of speech and of the press, and how it is becoming a challenge to keep up standards of ethical journalism in a time when mass communications (think blogs) disseminate much more unverified information than ever before. The basic tenet I, as an outside, non-journalism non-student took away from it was "the ends of the story do not necessarily justify the means to collect the information in it." Truth be told, I honestly think the forum, though advertised online for anyone to attend, was meant mostly for ASU journalism majors. I was hoping for more of a discussion of the original intent of the amendment and its political manifestations in modern times, but alas, I was harangued!

A Shout Out

Happy Anniversary, Scott and Abigail!

19 October 2008

Rays Win!

The Rays beat the Red Sox tonight in the decisive 7th game of the American League Championship Series, and will face the Phillies on Wednesday evening in the 2008 World Series! The game was a classic pitchers' duel, with John Lester (BOS) and Matt Garza (TB) combining for only 8 hits and 4 runs between them in the 3:31 game. After Dustin Pedroia (BOS) hit a first-inning big fly over the wall in left to give the Sox the lead, you had the sense that things might only go downhill from there, but Garza settled in, giving up merely 1 hit and 3 walks in his next 6 2/3 innings of work while striking out 9. The big game-changing moment for me, when I was absolutely certain the Rays had won it came in the 8th inning when Kevin Youkilis fouled off the fifth pitch of the at-bat for a full count. He ended up walking, but I somehow just absolutely knew that the Rays were going to win. I guess my curse worked!

18 October 2008

FLORIDA

So for those of you who might regularly read my blog (all three of you lol!), you've probably heard that I won a radio contest called the Two-Minute Drill from AM 620 KTAR sports radio for a trip to any football game's city and tickets to the game playing on 10/12/2008. I chose to go to Tampa, Florida and see the Panthers-Buccaneers game. Here's what we did on the trip!
At 9am on Saturday, my dad and I boarded our nonstop flight to Tampa. Southwest Airlines does not have very good seating, may I say, though the flight itself wasn't that bad. I just happen to be a large person, and it's less than easy fitting in a tin can with seatbelts! But nonetheless, we got to Tampa just fine, checked into our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, and immediately left for Tropicana Field to see if we could score some (relatively) cheapish tickets to the ALCS Game 2 between the Red Sox and Rays.
Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay at dusk

At Tropicana Field for Game 2 of the ALCS

I won't tell you how much the tickets cost, but suffice it to say that I was glad I'd just been paid the previous day! The game itself was GREAT! And LONG. It was a 9-8 Rays victory over 11 innings and 5 1/2 hours. The game started at 8:07 pm EST and ended at 1:37 am EST! After the flight and the game, I was definitely ready for bed! The next day, we got up fairly early, had our complementary continental breakfast (from a hotel costing $200 a night, continental breakfast is GOOD!) and went to Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers. We were seated in front of the big (and quite unique) pirate ship on the North end of the stadium, about 8 rows off of field level. Every time the Bucs scored, big loud cannons would fire from the ship, rocking the stadium and just about deafening me and dad!

The game was a good shellacking of the Panthers, with the final score ending up as 27-3 Bucs. I saw my first in-person blocked punt on the first drive of the game, and one of the Buccaneers was called for "unsportsmanlike conduct" after cartwheeling (yes, cartwheeling) off the field after having intercepted a pass!

The only downfall was that the stadium was open-air and REALLY hot (see: humid). Suffice it to say that I got quite nicely sunburned. But it was definitely a fun and unique experience!

Pregame at RJ Stadium with the pirate ship behind me The famous Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cheerleaders!

During halftime at RJS

After the game, we drove down and over the Sunshine Skyway toll bridge south of St. Petersburg, because my dad wanted to see it - it's a cool bridge, actually. It's a suspension bridge where all the weight of the bridge is carried on two superstrong pillers, supported by high-tension cables trailing down to the roadway level. (See photo below) It was actually hit by a boat in 1980 and destroyed, and they rebuilt it this way:

We also did the obligatory stop at St. Pete's beaches, driving up the Gulf coast from the Sunshine Skyway to Clearwater, FL. There, where it had been sunny and bright all day, it suddenly turned stormy, and I caught this beautiful photo of one of the Tampa bridges and causeways out on the edge of Tampa Bay:

That night, we ate at Bahama Breeze, a restaurant overlooking the bay, and I got something called a paiella, basically cajun-style rice with Creole spices, Tampa Bay scallops, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and other goodies. It was delicious! The next day, we checked out of the Hyatt fairly early, and spent much of the day at the Florida Aquarium, which I will elaborate on in another post probably tomorrow.

But it was really a great trip, and I had so much fun! (Now I'm about to go see if the Rays can finish off the Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS!)

16 October 2008

Cursed!

In light of the Rays rather devastating loss to the "Comeback Kings" of the Red Sox this evening, I would like to announce that I, Andrew Meeusen, Lover of Baseball and Longtime Arizona Diamondbacks Fan, do hereby and henceforth place a new curse upon the Boston Red Sox lasting for a period of one decade from October 16, 2008 to October 16, 2018 that during this time they shall not again win an American League Championship Series. Boston fans, consider thyselves cursed!

15 October 2008

The 3rd Debate

While I know I promised Florida, my pictures aren't available yet, so you'll all just have to settle for my take on Debate Part III! McCain Positives: 1. On the attack, McCain actually looked ALIVE in a debate for the first time. 2. McCain actually stuck to many of the issues instead of beating 'round the bush. McCain Negatives: 1. He is a BAD public speaker. He rivals President Bush, because where the president just isn't eloquent, McCain is actually just plain erratic-sounding. Ever read "Don Quixote de la Mancha?" McCain sounds like he, too, is tilting at windmills. 2. He seemed to devolve from enthusiasm and offensive attacks showcasing his drive and determination to do well tonight into a bitterness and cynicism that we have come to expect to see from his campaign over the last few weeks as his poll numbers have slipped. 3. The pundits are saying that he made a big gaffe when he dismissively shrugged off questions "about the life of the mother" in abortion policy and Roe v. Wade. I don't know about that. The people that care about that particular line were never going to vote for McCain anyway. I just thought I'd pass that info along. 4. "Let me tell you" and "Let me say this" and "Let me show you" are all McCain phrases that get REALLY old the third time after he gets asked a question or asked to respond to Obama. Obama Positives: 1. Sounded calm, cool, collected, and - dare I say - presidential. Specifically when dealing with the economy, McCain seemed to be trying to relate to the "anger" of the populace, while Obama tried to portray a leader who is calm in the face of an impending challenge. I'd say he pulled it off. 2. Did NOT attack McCain and Palin back on a number of random charges. He could have, and it probably would've been just fine, but as a taxpaying voter, I have to admit a certain appreciation for Obama's sticking to the issues for the most part. 3. Explained his positions fully and at a level for the "Regular Joe the Plumber." Even when they weren't on issues (see: William Ayers, ACORN, etc). Even though some of the stuff he said was full of [insert expletive here], he talked it down and made it understandable and positive-sounding. Obama Negatives: 1. Not delivering a knockout punch. He could have, but he didn't. It leaves at least a glimmer of hope for a McCain Miracle. Big Gaffes: 1. For McCain, while the pundits say his big gaffe was made on abortion, I think his all-around worst mistake was to take on an air of anger in both his tone and his demeanor. He started off as an angry guy wanting to affect change and eventually devolved into a cynical old man who couldn't string together his words. Best Line: "Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." - John McCain (Seriously, now, this was without question the best line of all three presidential debates.) Who Won the Debate: 1. As far as anything else goes, I think Joe the Plumber won the debate fairly easily. I mean, both campaigns talked with him and about him, and he was mentioned more than any other single issue was if my count is correct. How can he NOT be at least A winner? 2. The winner of the debate between McCain and Obama is most likely McCain. Even though Obama did well, he only performed at a consistant level with his other two appearances. McCain NEEDED a home run tonight, and though his performance was dottery and quixotic, he performed at his highest level of the three debates. If I could, I'd give it a tie.

14 October 2008

Updates Soon

So, I'm now back from Florida and I wanted to make sure to get up a new post soon, but I've been busy, not to mention tired from the weekend. Suffice it to say for now that it was a GREAT trip! I'll post more details on what my dad and I did in Tampa probably tomorrow. Stay tuned, sports fans!

09 October 2008

My Super Busy (and Super Fun) Weekend

This weekend, by which I mean Friday-Monday, I am going to be SUPER busy having loads of fun on a variety of different projects. Here's a rundown: Friday: Fundraiser for Rep. Adams in LD-19 featuring former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. I am helping with volunteer coordination, registration, and whatever else needs to be done. Four CRs will also be there from ASU as my volunteers, so that should be good times! Saturday: Fly out of Phoenix at 9am and arrive in Tampa, FL around 4pm EST. Then, I'm going to try to catch the Red Sox-Rays game that night at 8:07 EST, though I might not be able to if I can't find any cheap tickets by start time. Either way, I'll check out the stadium! Sunday: I plan on going to the beach in the morning and checking out the Atlantic Ocean, since I've never actually been to the Atlantic before. (The two closest times were when I was in Washington, DC and in England/France, but I never actually got to go to the ocean. Then at 1:00pm EST, I have free tickets to see the Panthers and Buccaneers game, courtesy the radio station. The Buccaneers' stadium is pretty darn cool, nicknamed the "Crown Jewel of the NFL." My seats are right down by field level in front of the famous Pirate Ship in the north end zone. After the game, I am not sure what we'll be doing, but I do plan to try to explore some of Tampa!
The Pirate Ship

Info: (from www.raymodjames.com/stadium/stadium_facts.htm) "The same company that produces props for Walt Disney World created the mighty pirate ship that is permanently harbored in Buccaneer Cove. The pirate ship comes to life after the Buccaneers score a field goal or touchdown. Its loud cannons fire seven times to signal a touchdown and three to announce a field goal. The pirate ship is an authentic replica of an early 1800s pirate ship, arguably one of the most recognizable stadium features in the world. It is 103 feet long with huge 32x50 foot sails."

Monday: The flight back is at 4pm EST, so we have most of the day to explore the area and see what's around. We land back in Phoenix around 5:30pm MST having gained an additional three hours or so that we had lost when we flew out. The only downfall: the flight is nonstop, so I'm sure I'll get antsy being stuck on a plane for 4 hours. I guess it'll be great opportunity to catch up on some reading. I just got a new book called "Painting the Map Red" by Hugh Hewitt, and I need to finish "Legend," the second Event Group thriller. Tuesday: Back to work! Hopefully I'll have pics and recap of my trip up on the blog here by then, so definitely check it out!

07 October 2008

Going to Florida

So, less than 24 hours after I was involved in a car accident which just took my week off to a soaring (sarcasm) start, I won a trip to Florida - airfare, two nights in the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in a room overlooking the bay, and tickets to Sunday's Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game from AM 620 KTAR radio. For those of you (Max) who want more details, I was sitting at home getting ready for work when the phone rang. It was my dad, telling me I had about 2 minutes to call the radio station to claim a prize. I didn't know what prize, or even when I had signed up for a contest, but I called in anyway, verified who I was, and was put on the air with Gambo and Ash from the morning sports radio talk show. They told me I was the winner of the 2-Minute Drill contest, where they would call a name from those people who had signed up as AM 620 All-Stars, and if and when that person called within a few minutes of that announcement, they'd win a trip to any NFL stadium of their choice in the country playing this Sunday to go fly out and see the game! However, if the person couldn't make up their mind within 2 minutes (hence the Drill part), then the radio hosts would pick the game (probably a pretty crappy matchup in some cold, drizzly city) that the person would win. Fortunately, I was of enough sound mind to pick probably the best game going on this Sunday between the Panthers and Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida! So this weekend (fly out Saturday morning, fly back Monday afternoon) I will be lounging by the beach, catching the game (end zone near the Buccaneers' famed pirate ship, 8th row), and seeing Florida since I've never been there - all paid for except the rental car! And because there were 2 tickets, I'm taking my dad, since he was kind enough to let me know I needed to call the station, otherwise I'd have never known about it! I'll be certain to post pics when I get back for all my blog fans!

Presidential Debate #2

While I know quite well that my posting on the Vice-Presidential debate was long and rather analytical (by which I mean that many of my work-weary friends didn't read all of it), I promise to keep my recap of the second Presidential debate to a shorter length! What McCain Did Well: - The town hall format is HIS format, and he was certainly natural speaking to the audience without the restrictions of a podium. - He articulated his positions effectively to the crowd and clarified his record nicely on a number of recently challenged points. - He spoke about the economic "crisis" without sounding like either a moldy history professor or a communications major in a senior-level accounting course. What Obama Did Well: - He kept pace with McCain in all of the debate questions. - He answered every question fully without jumping off on a lot of tangents. - He spoke about foreign policy well, and very nicely pointed out the differences in his plans for the Middle East and Russia versus McCain's plans. - He didn't attack McCain, but rather let his words on the issues point out stark contrasts between the two men. What McCain Did Poorly On: - He didn't want to stay in his seat when not speaking. - I personally disagree with his "lets have government buy up the mortgage debts and renegotiate them" plan, and I think it is far too neo-conservative a plan for this election cycle. We need a candidate to reign in government control over our property, not extend it. - He failed to answer questions on economic policy, tax policy, and climate change. Instead, he generically spoke about the problems involved in each, and pointed out his record of bipartisanship. I wasn't impressed. What Obama Did Poorly On: - Not abiding by the rules of the debate, which did not allow for rebuttals between candidates on questions. Major Gaffes: - McCain: Government control over mortgage debt - Obama: No major gaffes Best Line: "It's like nailin' Jello to the wall!" - John McCain Style: McCain: Looked like a Commander-in-Chief. Obama: Looked like a President well equipped to look objectively at a situation and utilize his resources to solve problems. Who Won the Debate? - Barack Obama Why? - While both candidates did very well and outperformed my expectations, because the bar was set so much lower for Obama, and because he was able to keep pace with McCain while clearly articulating himself and his positions, I believe he is the winner of this debate. His answers were clear, concise, directed to the question rather than the opposing candidate, and identifiable to the "mainstream American" viewer. ------------------------------------- I'm not really sure how the Republican ticket can recover from three debates so far in which the Democratic candidate has at least kept pace with the Republican candidate, in some areas outperforming the Republican candidate. McCain will need a very clear win in the third debate.

06 October 2008

CRASH!

For the second time in roughly three weeks, I was nearly killed - this time in a car accident in Mesa on my way back to work from the post office. Okay, maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole.... I wasn't actually almost killed, but I was hit by a young woman who crossed over about 7 lanes of traffic in order to turn into my lane - with me in it! Don't worry, though. I'm fine, she was fine, and my car still works, there are just several new deep scratches and dents in the driver's door that weren't there before.
My car
Her car

03 October 2008

My VP Debate Analysis

I know some of my friends are going to think me an idiot, but this is what I got out of last night's VP debate: (I wrote this last night as a Facebook note, so I've just reproduced it here) This evening was the Vice-Presidential Debate between Governor Sarah Palin (R) and Senator Joseph Biden (D). While a lot of people on Facebook and in the mainstream media are quick to point out who "won" the debate, most people who aren't super-political don't really know what "winning a debate" entails. From my few years being actively involved with politics and the many debates I've watched and analyzed with my friends and colleagues, I wanted to share my thoughts on the Biden-Palin debate. Disclaimer: All opinions and statements are my own and are not necessarily indicative of support for any candidate or campaign. All statements are subjective in nature and are not meant to be a comprehensive description of what to look for in a political debate, but rather guidelines for watching and understanding. Finally, please do not reproduce the writing herein contained unless done so in a full and unabridged format with my name as citation. All quotes used below are from CNN.com's debate transcript. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- First, it is important to discern in any type of political conversation what the goal of the discourse is for each party or person. What objective does each person have to attain to consider their night a "win" and claim victory? In the Presidential debate of a few nights ago, Senator McCain's objective was to both make himself look and sound new and exciting and to display his extensive set of knowledge on foreign policy matters, and Senator Obama's goal was to try to be able to show the public that he could hold his own against McCain in foreign policy. Tonight, Governor Palin's challenge was to (1) make up for the poor showing in interviews that she recently had with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric and (2) to reconnect with the independent voters and the Republican base that she excited during the Republican convention but whom have of late been seeing her as a liability to McCain's campaign. Senator Biden's big challenge was simply not to "put his foot in his mouth" while talking. Obviously, Governor Palin had the bigger challenge. How did each candidate do in meeting their goals? Governor Palin was bold in many of her statements, at times was downright "folksy," and often aimed at connecting specifically with middle-class America. She upheld Senator McCain as a maverick and a strong leader, and stuck to straightforward Republican talking points on most of the issues. Overall, I think she probably accomplished most of what she was going for in terms of message and interpersonal relations with the people sitting in their La-Z-Boys watching the debate. Senator Biden, as pretty much any pundit will tell you on tomorrow's morning news, achieved his goal of not committing any "gaffes" during the debate, and did his job as the VP candidate of both strongly supporting his candidate while pointing out the flaws of Senator McCain and Governor Palin and making himself look like he is ready to take over for Obama should anything happen. The second thing to pay attention to in the debates is the quality of their responses. Candidates' answers should be within the time limits prescribed by the moderator, be relatively understandable for an average person, and should seek to answer the questions presented. In this regard, my opinion is that Senator Biden won hands down. He spoke fairly concisely throughout each question, addressed the question at hand, and didn't spend the whole time pandering. From the very first question about the bailout bill "was this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington that we saw..." Senator Biden first answered the question - "I think it's neither the best or worst of Washington, but it's evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we've ever had" - and then discussed how to fix the problem through Obama's four basic criteria for his ideal version of a rescue plan. Governor Palin, on the other hand, using the same question, said "I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy, is go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, 'How are you feeling about the economy'" and began talking about McCain being the agent of reform, but not addressing the problem. In at least one instance, the Governor was stopped mid-sentance by the moderator for exceeding the time limitations, and in several instances, she failed to address the questions at all, instead telling the moderator during a question on a bankruptcy bill, "I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket's energy ticket." I think that what Governor Palin was attempting to do was to bring the debate into areas she felt comfortable with, like energy policy, but by not at least giving some consideration to the question at hand before attacking Senators Biden and Obama, she came across to me as both erratic and inexperienced on a lot of issues, specifically ones relating to foreign policy and economic policy. Senator Biden was the complete mirror image of that, being articulate on the issues, showing his depth of experience on everything from foreign policy to energy. Even their appeals to the "average" American show a stark contrast: while Palin mentioned several times throughout the evening that she "had been there" living paycheck-to-paycheck and having no health insurance, Biden showed a human side in the tone of his voice that people not familiar with politics may not have seen before (let's face it, the mainstream media paints that guy as a wacko liberal nut job out of touch with non-East Coast elites): "Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it." The third point to watch for is the style of the speakers' remarks. It's often been cited in contemporary election politics that the way a person looks or sounds can be as influential to some people as what they are saying. John F. Kennedy being one example, in his television debates with Richard Nixon, Kennedy looked young, fresh, and energetic, while Nixon was cited as looking "sick" and sounding "gravelly." Many politicos also say that those televised debates "had a profound impact on the 1960 election" in part due to the stylistic differences between the two. Tonight, Senator Biden was smooth, polished, and looked like... well, a politician. His answers were practiced, though not "canned," and as was mentioned before, free of major gaffes or foot-in-mouth statements. He also looked confident at his podium, like he had been there many times before and it was natural now for him (which it probably is). Governor Palin in contrast looked very good at the podium, and though this was her first national stage to debate her opponents, she did display a lot of confidence and poise. That's not to say she was perfect, though, as several times during the debate, she appeared a bit flustered, stammered through some of her talking points on foreign policy questions, and at times during questions which were more difficult for her to answer because of a lack of experience in the subject matter she seemed to rock back and forth at the podium giving the impression of indecisivness and of being uncomfortable. Another style point I personally disliked about Governor Palin had to do with her syntax and speaking style. In the beginning of the debate, I felt it was fine for her to be droppin' her G's and speakin' like a reg'lar American with the "heckuva" and "Heaven forbid" and "Say it ain't so, Joe," but after a short while, it simply became annoying, and I was waiting for her to start speaking professionally. During the past eight years, the President of the United States was criticized incessantly for his speaking style. If our next Vice-President sounds like a 16-year old high school teenager, is that any better? Finally, the fun stuff to look for: (1) who had the best line of the night, (2) who had the strongest line of the night, (3) who committed the biggest mistake, and (4) what I like to call the WTF?! moments. I make a distinction, as you can see, between the "best" line of the night - the line that is the funniest, zings the most, or produces the biggest crowd reaction - with the "strongest" line of the night: the line which I felt stood out the most in terms of displaying the confidence of the candidate. Governor Palin won both 1 and 2. (1) Governor Palin definitely had the best one-liner of the night:
Moderator Ifill: Governor, you said in July that someone would have to explain to you exactly what it is the vice president does every day. You, senator, said you would not be vice president under any circumstances.... What it is you think the vice presidency is worth now? PALIN: In my comment there, it was a lame attempt at a joke and yours was a lame attempt at a joke, too, I guess, because nobody got it.
This one-line zinger right at Senator Biden both made me laugh the hardest and got the biggest reaction from the crowd (which was silent for pretty much everything else). By contrast, Biden's best one-liner was certainly with regard to healthcare, "So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere." (2) Governor Palin also had what I consider the strongest line of the night when she said in response to a question about whether either ticket would have trouble keeping their campaign promises, "I don't believe that John McCain has made any promise that he would not be able to keep, either." (3) Neither side really made any mistakes, as I've said before. However, Senator Biden did make a number of good decisions when choosing not to entrap himself in Governor Palin's attacks. If he had done so, the way Biden is in extemporaneous speaking when he gets heated, he could have really come across very badly for Obama. I would speculate that his pre-debate preparation included some tips for ignoring the character attacks by Palin and working on correcting factual mistakes instead to avoid his sometimes-wacky temperment. (4) WTF?! moments are any moment that sticks out in your head as a "did they say that" moment. For example, while speaking, Governor Palin called Senator Biden "O'Biden" which I can only assume was a slip of the tongue as she attempted not to say Obama. Senator Biden stood out for not literally saying literally every third literal sentence, literally like he did in his first joint appearance with Senator Obama. Governor Palin was certainly channelling that day though, as she "also" way more often than she should have been, which stuck out as badly as "like" and "you know" did in junior high school. Finally, something that I noticed that most others wouldn't have thought twice about was that Palin referred to the US commanding General in Afghanistan as "General McClellan" when it's actually General McKiernan. Last, but not least, I look at the format of the debate itself. In the Presidential debate of last Friday, the format was pretty open, with questions being followed by nine minutes of essentially open time for the candidates to respond to one another without being roped in by time limitations on their responses. They played off of some another rather than off of the moderator, which I really enjoyed. In tonight's debate, candidates had five minutes per question split up into one- and two-minute segments, meaning that the candidates' responses had to be by nature more rehearsed and less fluid. Personally, I'd be all for a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglass debates, but in the TV soundbite era, I doubt that will ever happen. Summary: In my four main criteria for looking at a debate - candidates' goals, quality of responses, style, and "fun stuff" - I think that on an even platform, Senator Biden easily won. He was smooth, somewhat polished, poignent, concise, and looked Vice-Presidential. Governor Palin looked charming, poised, and supportive of John McCain, but was also much more erratic, uncertain of herself, and looked somewhat uncomfortable in some subjects. While Palin definitely had the best and strongest lines of the night, Biden did himself and Senator Obama a favor by not taking the bait on some of Palin's attacks and slip-ups. If you take into account the theory that the platform tonight was not even, however, meaning that while the bar for Biden was set at a normal height, Governor Palin's was set much lower as she is a newcomer into national politics and has really only been "in the spotlight" for a month or so, Governor Palin did equally as well as Biden in most categories. I hope for the debates on October 7th and 15th between Senator McCain and Senator Obama that some of my readers will come away with a better sense of what I, at least, look for in a debate, and come to your own conclusions about what makes a "winner" versus a "loser" of each!

02 October 2008

By the Numbers

Lately I've been noticing that a lot of things are circulating numerically in the world, and I thought I'd take a moment to showcase a few that I've found particularly intriguing. Some are subjective and of my own personal opinions, others are factual. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do! Baseball: NLDS A: Phillies 2 games, Brewers 0 games NLDS B: Dodgers 2 games, Cubs 0 games ALDS A: Rays 1 game, White Sox 0 games ALDS B: Red Sox 1 game, Angels 0 games Debate scores (subjective): Presidential Debates: McCain 1, Obama 0 (it was close, but I think McCain pulled out the win) Vice-Presidential Debate: Biden 1, Palin 0 $700,000,000,000,000.00: The amount of money the Senate and possibly the House intend to shove down the throats (or up some other unmentionable places) of taxpayers to bail out the US economy. I guess I can kiss my hopes for any kind of savings plan goodbye for a few decades. (Other, related numbers: Senate vote: 74 Aye, 25 Nay; House vote: 205 Aye, 228 Nay.) Total miles I drive per day for work-related tasks: 24.4 (on average). Total miles per gallon my car gets: 25 (approximately). Current dollar amount per gallon of gas at the Diamond Shamrock near my house: $3.29. Total amount of money I will spend filling up the car each week: approximately $45.00. Total percentage of my approximate weekly income that is: 12.9% (Ouch! Just for gas! Add in the cell phone bill and that percentage jumps to 28.6%) Number of books I have started since school ended on 5/10/08: 6 Number finished: 1 Number of days spent working since school ended 5/10/08: 12 Number of those which were volunteer work days: 6 Number of paychecks received: 0 Number of resumes sent out in the 30 days prior to starting work at Halo PA: 63 Number of responses received: 4 Friends of mine who have had birthdays within the last 30 days: 12 Number I've been able to visit with in the last 30 days: 1 Can anyone add to this list? I'd be interested in hearing what some of your important numerical moments of the recent past have been!

01 October 2008

It's Getting Cooler!

That's right, the TV weatherman speculated that tomorrow might just be the last 100-degree day of the year, with the strong possibility of a high of 84 degrees in Phoenix by Sunday! That's good for me, 'cuz holy asparagus, it was hot out today. I know it was only 100, but when you're running around and sitting in an office without the world's greatest A/C system, it gets warm. I will definitely be glad for sweater weather again! I'm really also getting accustomed to my new job, even though I've only been there 5 work days. I handle almost all of the mail, the deposits, and maintain office supply stocks. I also am working on getting volunteers for one of our events coming up - a fundraiser for State Rep. Kirk Adams of AZLD-19 - so I've been in touch with the CRs to see if they'd like to help out, and I'm tackling the rather auspicious task of maintaining the sanity of the event RSVP list. I have decided, though, that I actually rather enjoy the public affairs sector of business. Always something new going on, never a dull moment, and my input is valued. So that's three sectors of employment I have found I like or at least would like to experience more of: Congressional office work (in constituent services), public affairs, and library sciences. Other than that, I must give a shoutout to three of my good friends whose birthdays happen to fall on today, and while I know that only one of the three reads this blog, I hope that my well wishes to each of them are known: Blake Rebling, Scott Sampson, and Desiree Bloom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And finally, to Doug, who got me interested in the TV show "House": It's become one of my favorites, and I've got you to thank! Who knew that encephalobronchiomyalitis streptococcus could be so interesting when diagnosed by an asshole doctor who really just needs a hug!?

26 September 2008

Back to Work!

Well, after many months of pretty much nonstop searching, I was finally rewarded for my efforts with a temporary job through the election cycle (I imagine that means I'll be back to looking come Nov. 4th) with Halo Public Affairs, LLC. We are working on the public affairs for Congressman Jeff Flake (AZ-06), Sydney Hay (AZ-01 candidate), Kirk Adams (AZLD-19 House member), and Jonathon Paton (LD Representative from Tucson). My job is pretty much to do the day-to-day operations of the office like getting and sending mail, creating event lists, working with fundraising operations, maintaining office supplies, running errands, etc. I am unbelievably excited to both be back to work and to get to learn about public affairs up close! Today was my first day, and it went really well despite some minor issues with the internet not being kind to me, and I'm going back tomorrow to finish up the stuff I was working on this afternoon!

25 September 2008

End of the Road

Finished. Caput. Done. Finite. Washed up. Ended. Stick a fork in 'em. Pushing up daisies. Wait... that last one was for "dead," right? Anyway, the Arizona Diamondbacks' hopes of going back to the playoffs this year and winning the NL West came to a halt this afternoon as they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, giving the Dodgers the title. I can't say I blame the Dodgers for our predicament, though, what with all the Arizona injuries (Hudson, Byrnes, Jackson for a bit, Upton for a bit, Young, etc) and the extremely poor condition of the bullpen staff (Lyon couldn't close effectively, Rouch and Qualls' problems, Cruz being injured), it's not a surprise that we slid so far. So, thus ends the 2008 bid for the DBacks. Things to watch as the final three games are played: 1. Brandon Webb getting victory 23 on Saturday to hopefully solidify his place as NL Cy Young Award winner. 2. Dan Haren's 200th single-season strikeout, which could come on Friday if can can punch out three batters. Also, a Haren win on Friday would net him his career-high 17th single-season win. 3. Mark Reynolds already has set the mark as the first ever player to strike out 200 times in a season, and he will retain his title as the player with the most Ks provided Ryan Howard (5 behind) or Jack Cust (9 behind) don't overtake him in the final three games. 4. Mark Reynolds could also get his 30th homer of this season with 2 more and his 100th RBI of this season with 4 more. 5. With just one more double, Adam Dunn will claim 200 career 2Bs. Things to look for in 2009: 1. The return of Orlando Hudson (2B) and Eric Byrnes (LF) tops this list. Had these two been healthy, we might have been looking forward to some October baseball. Instead, Byrnes' hamstring injury and Hudson's broken hand really cost the DBacks big time. Their return and hopefully healthy 2009 season should be a big pick-me-up for the slumping youngsters from the farm system. 2. Big changes in the bullpen pitching staff. The Diamondbacks need a closer, and they need one badly. Why they ever got rid of Jose Valverde in favor of making one of their setup men close out the games is beyond me, and frankly goes down as one of their most boneheaded moves in my book. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Brandon Lyon (not just for the roar from the scoreboard that accompanies every Lyon strikeout), but he is a reliever, not a closer. They need to pick up (in the best case scenario) someone like Francisco Rodriguez, Eric Gagne, or Jason Isringhausen, all of whom will be free agents after this year. 3. The return of the Big Unit. Seeking his 300th career victory, Randy Johnson will hopefully be back next year provided his health holds up. He deserves 300 wins, given his storied career. Then he can retire as a Diamondback! 4. Defensive changes? I still like our main outfielders of Byrnes (LF), Young (CF), and Upton (RF). Conor Jackson should move back to 1B once Adam Dunn leaves (he'll be a free agent after this year, and I don't imagine he'll stick around, though you never know). 2B will go back to Hudson, Drew at SS, and Reynolds at 3B. Chris Snyder behind the plate caps it all off. However, the Diamondbacks could try to capitalize on some of their young talent, trading off maybe Upton or Byrnes to try to gain some other big name outfielders who would boost both the hitting prowess of the DBacks and act as veteran anchors of the team. I like Ibanez, Burrell, or Carl Crawford. 5. Getting back to baseball season in 2009! For now, I guess I will root for the Chicago Cubs in the postseason. I have plenty of Cubs fan friends, and I think it's time the Curse of the Billy Goat was broken. This year, the 100th anniversary of the Cubs' last World Series victory, it's their year now (now that the DBacks are out, anyway)!

24 September 2008

East Valley Job Fair

Today, I went and checked out the EV Job Fair at the Mesa Convention Center after having lunch with my good buddy Scott, who happens to work very close to there. Unfortunately for Max, it was not quite as epic an adventure as the job fair at UPS Stadium in Glendale (Dale Glen for those of you who know of what I speak), but it was nonetheless a decent time. I spoke with Grand Canyon State University about communications/PR/document control positions, a few staffing agencies about temp-to-hire work, M&I Bank about a teller position near my house, and the City of Mesa about some of their open positions. All-in-all, I got to hand out some resumes, chat it up with some employers, and hopefully something will eventually come of it. After doing the meet-and-greet thing, I went around the corner to where they were doing "resume review" workshops, and had my resume critiqued by a professional resume correcting person, whom I am supposed to remember to thank if I ever become President of the United States. (This brings my number of voters for my campaign in 2012 to 36 now. You never know, a few million more and I could be a threat! :P) She gave me some good tips, so now I need to reorganize my resume again this weekend to see if I can't beef it up some more. After that, I tried to donate my time as a volunteer for the GOP out in East Mesa, but I got chewed out by some old woman who was being pretty offensively sexist and tried to threaten me with her "investigative journalist friend who could crush you like THAT." So I just left instead. Ah, fun times!

22 September 2008

My First Day of School

Today has been one hell of a day. It was good, it was bad, it was funny, it made me want to cry, I loved aspects of it, and I loathed others. All in all, it was a day. At least I didn't die (though, it was pretty iffy there for a few minutes)! Today was "Mr. Meeusen's" first day of substitute teaching for my mom's 5th grade class. She had a doctor's appointment, and her charter school was willing to accept me as a sub without the teaching certificate so long as I had fingerprint clearance. Without boring you all on the details, it was kind of fun. I got to teach math, introduced a new class book for reading, helped with spelling/vocabulary practice, screened a "Goosebumps" movie during "game time," held a Writer's Club meeting at lunch, and discussed voting and basic election facts for social studies. The kids were great, very quiet when they needed to be, and respectful all day. No major or minor problems among any of them. That was a big plus on my day. At the end of the day, my mom picked me up on her way home, and we got a phone call that my aunt's car was out of gas, and could we drive a few miles out of our way and bring some to her? Yeah, sure, why not? Easy enough. Go buy a red gas container, a gallon of fuel, put it in, send her back on her way to north Scottsdale, right? WRONG! You know how every family has that one crazy relative? The wacky one who wears the Hawaiian shirt and socks and sandals to Thanksgiving dinner? The one who cracks the WORST possible joke at the worst possible time? The one who thinks "pull my finger" is still funny? Um, yeah. So we put the gas in the car, and then she decides to tell us that the car won't start, too, and could we jump it? Ugh, slightly more hassle, working out in the sun in a parking lot, yadda yadda, but what the hell, I've got nothing better to do for an hour, right? So she gets out her jumper cables, and proceeds to hook them up to her car. I'm not watching this, getting my end ready. I hook the red cable to the positive side and hook the black cable to the... ZAAAPPP! And the cable starts to smoke and the rubber wire coating starts to MELT off the cables! My aunt had hooked the + wire to the - port and vice versa, shorting out the battery, and just about electrocuting me with a nasty voltage! So while mom and my aunt are freaking out about the Incredible Melting Jumper Cables, I ignore the fact that I could be dead right now, grab a cardboard box quickly from the car, and proceed to very quickly smack the cables off the battery terminals, thus cutting off the electricity. But, of course I'm not finished yet. I get "volunteered" to run to Wal-Mart a few blocks away (still nervously making sure the second-degree electrical burns on my hands are imaginary) and buy some NEW jumper cables so we could try this again. Upon returning, you better believe that my mom and aunt were not allowed within 20 feet of the batteries! However, the jump didn't work (possibly because my aunt's mistake fried the car), and we drop my aunt off with my grandmother and go home to see if my dad can help fix anything. At this point, I started to relax, getting into the groove of "House, MD" and watching the DBacks beat up the St. Louis Cardinals. Around about the 6th inning, I get a phone call from mom. "Your dad and I have to come home, will you come and watch your aunt here until the tow truck comes?" It's 7:30 at this point, and if you have been paying attention to entertainment news lately, you'll recognize that the "Heroes" season 3 2-hour much-anticipated-for-6-months premiere is TONIGHT at 7:00! VERY reluctantly, I agreed to help out, and I finally got back home at about 8:15, over halfway through the show. There was just no point in picking it up from there, so I have missed it. I know blood is supposed to be thicker than water, but come on.... it's not like I was really looking forward to this for a few months or anything (please note the inherent sarcasm in this remark). I can't wait to get my own place....

17 September 2008

Happy Constitution Day!

Today marks the 221st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America. Way back in 1787, the 12 original states decided to dump the Articles of Confederation and adopt a plan for a central government that has carried on and helped shape one of the strongest countries in the world. As my personal way of celebrating this day, I decided to help pass along my knowledge to the next generation of young Americans - namely three classes of 5th and 6th grade students at the charter school in Mesa where my mom works. Each classroom gave me about 30 minutes or so to talk about the Constitution, how the government is set up, and some of the basic rights contained in the 27 amendments. All the kids were very receptive, had some killer questions (better than some college students I know), and the experience was fun. I wish more people would get excited about our country, because it seems like all anyone wants to do is complain about it. Write your representatives, get your voice out there, and be the change you wish to see in your country!