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!

16 September 2008

A Little Thing Called Energy

Throughout much of today, C-SPAN has been running the floor debate in the House of Representatives on House Resolution 6899, the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act. This bill would, if passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President, commit the United States
to advance the national security interests of the United States by reducing its dependency on oil through renewable and clean, alternative fuel technologies while building a bridge to the future through expanded access to Federal oil and natural gas resources, revising the relationship between the oil and gas industry and the consumers who own those resources and deserve a fair return from the development of publicly owned oil and gas, ending tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies, and facilitating energy efficiencies in the building, housing, and transportation sectors, and for other purposes.
In other words, it provides for expanded alternative energy research and use, including in wind, solar, and biofuel technologies in the effort to move the United States from its current comsumption of foreign oil energy sources (about 70% of out current oil comes from overseas, half of which comes from "unstable" countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia). However, and this is a big problem, the bill does little to address the near term needs of consumers. It provides for expansion of offshore drilling, but only in places where little oil is to be gained anyway. Most of American oil sources are located within 50 miles of the Gulf Coast or up in the near-barren slopes of Alaska. HR 6899 only allows drilling between 50 and 100 miles off the Gulf Coast, and not at all within Alaska. Furthermore, while the bill allows each state to opt into drilling off their coast, those states which will pay for the cost of drilling do not get to participate in something known as revenue sharing, which would help alleviate the costs off the (already overtaxed) states. The bill also allows for environmentalists to sue to stop each drilling site by not providing for a moratorium on frivolous lawsuits with respect to drilling, even 100 miles away from shore. According to Congressman Shadegg (R-AZ03), of the last 100 or so plans for drilling for American oil as allowed by law, every single one has been tied up in the courts for decades with appeals and stall tactics. That means that not one BTU of energy has come from lawful drilling activities in those areas. HR 6899 does not put any emphasis on other alternative energies like "clean coal," oil shale exploration, or nuclear power. Coal has always been America's major natural resource; nowhere else on Earth is coal found in such abundance as here, yet the Democrat bill doesn't choose to include its eco-friendly brother, clean coal, to supplant foreign oil dependence. Nuclear power, which is helping the United Arab Emirates, China, India, and other countries around the world achieve energy independence (I think the statistic was that India is building 17 power plants, China 34, and Dubai is getting one in the UAE), is being shunned by the Democratic majority Congress. They seem to be unaware in 21st century technologies which are allowing for the reprocessing and reuse of previously "spent" nuclear fuel rods, advances in safety at nuclear plants, and the simple fact that nuclear energy is a huge source of power. One chart I saw showed that 25% of the world's tower cranes are stationed on the Arabian peninsula in the Middle East building brand new superstructures. That's all infrastructure that the United States is missing out on! Unfortunately, the people in Congress don't want to compromise on this issue. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic caucus introduced HR 6899 - a 290 page monster of a bill - at 9:45 pm last night and told the Congress that they would be voting on it 24 hours later. There was no thought to asking the Republicans to help write the bill, no time given for the legislation to be looked at by any member of Congress or their staffs, and in the process, the Democrats forced through a piece of legislation that not only disincentivizes states from WANTING to produce energy, it opens up production of energy and natural resources to a slew of frivolous lawsuits which will only postpone getting our dependence off foreign energy, and it completely ignores some very good sources of energy that we, ourselves, can produce right here at home. This is my mini-rant of the day. Feel free to provide your own perspectives on energy policy!

Clearing Out My Pics

Mural made by my RA staff and I last year. Mine's the orange one in the center.
Apparently, I take a lot of pictures with my cell phone's camera... more than I thought I did. So when my phone told me it was time to delete some pictures, I did, saving some of the best ones (in my opinion) to post here as time goes on.

15 September 2008

Stymied By Bureaucracy

I had every intention of going and getting all my substitute teaching paperwork turned in today, getting registered, and just having to wait on the fingerprint clearance from the Department of Public Safety, but alas, I was stymied this afternoon when I was told that in order to turn in all the paperwork, I first needed a substitute teaching certificate from the Arizona Department of Education. However, in order to get the substitute teaching certificate, I must first have the fingerprint clearance card from the Department of Public Safety/Federal Bureau of Investigation. And in order to receive the fingerprint clearance card, I first had to drive all over downtown Mesa this afternoon to find the fingerprinting place, get my fingerprints taken, and then wait 15-180 days to have the background checks completed and receive my clearance card in the mail. It was a rather epic journey, beginning with waking up at 8 am this morning only to find out that my little brother had, in an epic display of FAIL, forgotten again to leave me the only key to my morning mode of travel. This effectively stranded me at home until he got out of school at noon. When he got home, I took the car to downtown Mesa and spent 20 minutes trying to find the Department of Public Safety, which Mesa had, in its infinite wisdom, decided to tuck behind the storefronts and the Department of Information Technology. But I found it - only to be told that my fingerprints couldn't be taken at the central station (as DPS had told me). I needed to go out to the fingerprint clearance card Information Processing Center to which Mesa Police Department had outsourced all non-court mandated fingerprinting. After another 20 minutes of wandering the streets of downtown, I finally found the podunk hole-in-the-wall place, staffed by two women who definitely looked like they could kick my ass (and I'm no little guy). I filled out some paperwork and was ushered into a back room where they inked me up until my fingers were sooty black, fingerprinted me, and let me wash up with some Uber-industrial superdetergent hand cleaner. Upon leaving, I inquired as to where Mesa Public Schools was headquartered, and was told "somewhere up around the corner." Easy enough. Except for the fact that no one told me there were no signs for MPS, which happens to be in the same building as Mesa Bank, a nine-story behemoth of a building in which MPS occupies the second through fourth floors. It took another 20 minutes of circling around before I figured this out. So finally, my hard work paying off, I entered the Substitute Services Department of MPS, paperwork in hand, official transcripts, immunization records, W-2's all filled out properly, and - BOOM! Stymied by the fact that I couldn't get registered as a sub because I didn't have the certificate, which I didn't have because I didn't have the fingerprint clearance card, which I didn't have because it takes 15-180 days to get that in the mail from the time the fingerprinting is done. So, long story short, in between two weeks and six months, I could be a substitute teacher for the Mesa Public School District. Not that they need teachers desperately or anything (note: sarcasm). Ah, bureaucracy, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...!

14 September 2008


In the coming week, I have made plans to start on at least one track for employment until I find something I really want to do. Tomorrow, I will be turning in an application, transcripts, and fingerprint clearance paperwork to work as a substitute teacher (good for six years, as I understand it) for Mesa Public Schools. The job pays $90 a day, and I get to choose the days and places I want to work. For 7-12 grades, I also get to choose the subjects I will work in, with high school english and government courses topping my list, and mathematics nearing the bottom of my favorites. I also put in an application to work as a security guard, and I need to go to their offices for an interview sometime this week. That company has paid guard training for the Arizona Guard Clearance Card, CCW training, and is fairly close to home. It also pays $11 an hour, which would enable me to buy my own car/insurance/gas and save some money for DC. I'm also making plans to talk with the University of Arizona about their MILS degree (library science) to see how all that works. I will continue updates as applicable on how things go on each of these fronts!

10 September 2008

The End

It didn't come today, even as the LHC was switched on and test-fired at CERN. No black holes, super-particles, or other assorted physics-related paraphenomena. While this is good news, I'm still waiting for late October, when CERN plans to actually crash particles into one another. This test was to make sure all systems were working. So far, so good. In other death-related news, a friend of mine apparently got sent home from work early today and won't be in for a week after a customer at the store he was working was found unconscious on their restroom floor without a pulse. Further updates to come, as I keep reading the news and after I talk to him directly later on. And in other destruction-related news, the Diamondbacks lost. Again. To the Giants in the ninth inning. Again. Thanks to a walk-off hit by Eugenio Velez. Again. I mean, come on guys! Why the blowup all of a sudden, dropping something like 9 of their last 10 games and falling 3-1/2 games behind the Dodgers. With so few games left in the season, it's going to be hard to catch up and reclaim the lead at this point. Finally, it's raining here, which is nice, and the forecasts call for at least a 20% chance of thunderstorms for the next few days, keeping temperatures below 100 degrees for at least the next week....

09 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider

Also known as the LHC for short, this superconducting supercollider is perhaps the world's coolest science experiment since the atomic bomb was tested in the 1940's. It's being done at CERN, a European research center for physicists. The LHC is a 17-mile around circle of supercooled magnets, wiring, plumbing, and assorted other goodies, and will work (starting tomorrow) on the basic premise that if you take two particles (two atoms or neutrons, I suppose), and set them rolling in opposite directions at immense speeds, and then smash them into one another, they will produce new subatomic particles that we haven't seen before. Cool stuff: 1. The search for the Higgs boson particle, also known as the "God Particle." 2. Possible creation of microscopic black holes from the collision of particles inside the collider. 3. Could help to prove the existance of multiple dimensions outside the four we already know of (length, width, depth, and time). 4. Better understanding of the subatomic universe could benefit mankind in many ways, such as in quantum computing (supercomputers), super-secure communications networks, medical research (think suped-up CAT scan devices), new sources of energy (black holes DO have a lot!), and possibly an entirely new industrial revolution for the world based on the technologies developed from the research at CERN. Uncool stuff: 1. Some scientists have theorized that the creation of microscopic black holes, while cool, could be deadly to the earth, as the singularities might not simply "fizzle out" and could begin to eat away at our planet, causing the destruction of Earth and mankind. 2. When the particles collide, they will probably produce quarks, a type of particle smaller than an atom. If multiple quarks combine, some physicists have theorized that they could combine to form a "strangelet" - a negatively charged superparticle which could turn everything it touches into more strangelets. Kind of like nanomachines which could replicate themselves by "eating" the matter around them, except totally not. 3. Magnetic "monopoles" could be created, which are magnets which have only a north or a south magnetic field, but not both (like half a regular magnet). They could potentially "wreak havok" on things in the LHC. So here's the deal: by this time tomorrow, either the world will be destroyed by black holes, strangelets, and monopoles, or it won't and we may or may not have a better understanding of the universe thanks to a $2 billion science project involving some very big, very cold, very powerful magnets in Europe. I wish I could be there to see it!

07 September 2008

BS of APS on PA from NAU

I figured this deserved its own post. I finally completed my Bachelor's of Science degree of American Political Studies focusing on Public Administration from Northern Arizona University (BS of APS on PA from NAU) and received my diploma in the mail today! It is beautiful!

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

So many things have been going on and finishing up recently that I figured it was time to post and update the few people that read this. Primary election day was this past Tuesday, and while I put in my 14 hours helping with phone banking, precinct walking, and standing at polling locations around CD-5, it proved not to have been fruitful, as Jim Ogsbury lost the election. He garnered about 11.3% of the vote. David Schweikert ended up being the nominee with about 30% of the vote, followed closely by Susan Bitter-Smith, then Laura Knaperek and Mark Anderson. Only Lee Gentry, the independent pseudo-candidate did worse than us. But, I have no regrets. It was fun working with the Derr brothers and their crack team of people, and I hope I will have the chance to work with them again someday. Also, even though he lost the CD-5 election, Jim Ogsbury was a great guy to have volunteered for, and I firmly believe his door-to-door campaign is something more candidates should do to meet their constituents. Around 8:30pm Tuesday night, the volunteers, staff members, and friends of the candidate and campaign gathered at the Canal restaurant in Scottsdale to await the results. I admit I was fairly excited, because even the photographer from the Tribune said that her bosses were expecting him to do well. But alas, at 8:30 or so, Jim came in, asked for everyone's attention, and said he had just gotten off the phone with Schweikert and Bitter-Smith congratulating them on their race (it was too close to call between them at the time) and said that he was conceding the race. C'est la vie - such is life. You can't win them all. I wish Schweikert the best of luck in challenging Harry Mitchell for the seat, and I hope I get the chance to help out where I can. For those of you wondering about it back in District or elsewhere, I have not yet garnered my dream job, or even a random intermittant job at this point, though not for lack of trying. To date, I have submitted 579 resumes and applications to companies and campaigns since March of this year, and obtained 32 responses, almost all of them the standard "other candidates met our qualifications better" letters or emails. Lowering my expectations seems to be in order now. I am applying at Blockbuster, receptionist spots at doctors' offices, drugstores, OfficeMax, and other retail spots in the hopes that I find something to bring in some pocket change while I continue my hunt. Oh, and my laptop broke, which royally ticked me off last week. Someone dropped it while I was out of the house, and ripped the adapter plug out of the DC jack, breaking it. That jack is apparently attached to the motherboard, and will cost at cheapest around $75 to fix. Not to mention the $32 I just paid for a new adapter. So that was very disappointing, especially considering that most of my resume stuff, cover letters, and nice Microsoft Office 2007 programs are on there. No damage to the hard drive, though, so if I can get the jack repaired, theoretically, all the data should still remain okay.