30 April 2009
I have a new Epic Adventure to share with you all, my friends. Some of you longtime readers may remember my last Epic Adventure to the Jobing.com career fair in Glendale (that turned out to be a resounding disappointment). This one is thankfully a bit closer to home, at the Red Mountain Public Library. It all began Monday afternoon.... Andrew: Oh no, my library books are due! I must return them before I rack up fees! Alas, I am working, therefore, I shall wait and when my brother picks me up today, I shall have him ferry me to the library! [Work, work, work....] David: Hi, Andrew. Ready to go? Andrew: Absolutely, I just need you to run me by the library so I might return these books before the day is done so that I do not accrue fees upon my account! [Drive to library. Put books in outside deposit slot. Drive home. Note that books are undamaged, and in good condition.] [Skip to this morning.] Andrew: Ah, good morning! Let me check my email! A new message from the library! Email: A book has been returned to our facility in an unrepairable damaged condition from being warped. You owe us $27.00 in fees and processing charges to replace the book. Andrew: Um.... that's not right. [Work, then drive to library this afternoon.] Andrew: I have a bit of a problem. I'm being charged $27.00 to replace a book which you are saying is damaged, but that I returned in good condition. I have people who can corroborate that, and I want to know what we can do to remove this charge. May I see the damage to the book? Librarian: I'm sorry, the book has been shipped to the Main Library. We do not have it here, and in fact, they are the ones who marked the book damaged and unrepairable. We can have it shipped back to this library so you can take a look at it, if you like. Andrew: Yes, I would appreciate that. I cannot justify paying fees for something I did not do, especially if I cannot see the damage to the book first. Can I ask why the book was shipped out of this library without anyone catching the damage? Is it possible the book was damaged during transit? Librarian: I don't know why we didn't catch any damage here. We're training a new staff right now, so it's possible that they may have just not put a note in the computer about the damage. It's unlikely the damage happened during transit, since we pack the books in special cases when they're being transported to a different library. Andrew: Okay. Is there a supervisor I should talk with about disputing the charge on my account, and do you have a procedure here for disputing a charge? Librarian: No, we don't have a form or anything if that's what you're asking. The supervisor you want to speak with is T. She'll be back tomorrow. [End epic tale.] So, now I'm waiting for the book to be shipped back to the RMPL, so that I can review the damage with T, the supervisor and dispute the charge on my account so I can start checking out books again. Good times.... Good times....
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 15:15
29 April 2009
After a few weeks of business, work, activities, and baseball games, Tuesday and today came to a crashing halt for me. Essentially, I have had nothing to do but search again for jobs. And frankly, I really hate being bored. It's possibly the worst feeling in the world. I mean, forget waterboarding, just stick me in a plain, white, featureless room by myself for a few days, and I start to go insane. In fact, the only reason I'm aimlessly writing this post is because I currently have nothing to do. On a regular Wednesday, I might be getting ready for the 6:40pm Diamondbacks game and setting up my scorecard, or I might be making dinner, or I might be chatting with people online or something. Alas, mom's making dinner, the DBacks won today 10-0 in their day game versus the Cubs, and there really isn't anyone to talk with online at the moment. So yeah. I could craft this post into something more verbally grandiose about President Obama's first 100 days, since that speech is going on in the background right now as I'm writing, or I might be able to go off on a tangent about how the Diamondbacks are showing signs of life after a terrible April. Fortunately for those of you who have actually gotten this far into the post, I don't really care to do that right now. What I really wish is for someone to call me back about a job. I mean, it's been a freaking year now, and recession or no recession, this is rediculous. There has to be someone out there, in any field, in any city, who needs an researcher, a legislative aide - hell, even a secretary. Bah! Despite this, I feel quite conflicted recently, because I know I'm supposed to feel happy for all my friends who are actually doing well during this time. Scott & Abigail just bought their first house, my college friends are all graduating (many with honors or job offers as they leave school), and still others are working, earning money, and doing well. What's wrong with me that I can't seem to do that?! -- End of post on note of frustration --
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 17:43
25 April 2009
I hit the baseball jackpot this week! Okay, maybe not, but I did get lucky enough to go to three games this week: Monday and Tuesday against the Rockies thanks to my dad and Nate who got tickets from their companies, and today's game against the San Francisco Giants (Justin Upton bobblehead day!). Not only that, we had some killer seats Monday (second deck just off first base) and Tuesday (first deck in foul ball territory off first base), and our seats today are in the brand new-ish "All-You-Can-Eat" section out in left field! Hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, beers, etc! Also, I'm trying to keep my record solid: I've only been to three losing games in my life at Chase Field, one of which came on Tuesday. So to take 2-out-of-3 in my own little personal series here, Max Scherzer needs a win against Randy Johnson in today's game. Tall order be damned, I'm calling the score right now as of 12:30pm 4/25/09 as Giants 3, DBacks 5.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 12:24
22 April 2009
The last two weeks I've been working for my dad's company as a fill-in receptionist while Lisa, the full time person I replaced, was on a leave of absence. I guess she comes back Monday, so my estimate of 3 weeks worth of work is now only going to last two, but hey, pocket change is pocket change. I did get a raise since the last time I worked, so that's pretty awesome (thanks, Julie!). Point is, since I'm not the real deal as far as receptionists go, I don't get near the workload I could handle in a front desk position such as ordering supplies, typing, filing, etc. This gives me time to read, an activity I've not done for pleasure in many years, since the summer of 2005 at least. During the past two weeks at O'Neil Construction, I have gone through three books, and all three were good enough for me to give short reviews of them here at "The View from Arizona." 1. As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires by Bruce Weber Trivia question: What association is more universally despised by the average American citizen than almost any other in today's society, and where it's perfectly normal for a person to espouse his or her disgust with the people filling the job description? That would be the association of Major League Baseball umpires. From the workweariness of umpiring school, where amatures are intensively schooled in the rules of the game and trained mercilessly in learning umpiring mechanics and positions, to the minor league systems where the pay is akin to the level of a paid intern and the working conditions are vitriolic at best, finally, after a decade or more of abuse, the most senior umpires might hive a shot at dealing with whiny players and hateful MLB staffers in the Majors. The world of the Umps is filled with racism (how many black umpires do you see calling games?), segregation (ever seen a woman signaling a home run?), and treatment that at any other job would be considered grounds for a lawsuit - seriously, the old catchphrase among fans used to be "Kill the Ump!" Despite all this, though, every umpire in Weber's novel has one common goal: to uphold the traditions of the sport of baseball. While not without their faults - and of their vices there can be no doubt - on the field umpires are truly the caretakers of the American Pastime. I would encourage all baseball fans and all who claim to love the game to read this biography of the stewards of the sport! 2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card I first read this sci-fi classic when I was much younger, around ten or so, perhaps, and in rereading it, I have come to appreciate the complexities that Card grants his characters so much more than I ever did at that young age. The novel, set amidst the dark shadow of alien invasion by a race (the only one humans have made contact with at this time) called the "buggers" weaves the story of Andrew Wiggin, the Wunderkind nicknamed "Ender" who at the age of 6 is drafted into a specialized officer training school to become a tool used to defend Earth from the second invasion of bugger forces. Ender, whose modified genes give him a military mind sharper than that of any adult, trains in the school's Battle Room practicing military formations with the other child-trainees and adapting to the most intense challenges the adults can think to throw at him to help him grow. Throughout it all, though, Ender wishes for nothing else except to return home to his family - his sister Valentine in particular - and be done with killing and training. My words do not do justice to Card's grand juxtaposition of love and hate, the innocence of childhood against the harshness of the human survival instinct, and above all else, truth versus deception. If you are a lover of the classics, this book as much as any from centuries past, will stand the test of time. 3. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card Card's sequel to "Ender's Game," Speaker is the story of what happened AFTER Ender the Xenocide won the Bugger Wars for the humans. After traveling the stars in search of a final resting place for the last surviving bugger queen, whose race Ender utterly wiped out three thousand years earlier, Andrew Wiggin is now the Speaker for the Dead - a eulogizer whose purpose if uncovering the truth of a person's life after he or she has died and Speaking that truth to his or her family and acquaintances. When Speaker Andrew is called to Speak for a biologist on a distant world inhabited by the second sentient species humankind has found among the stars - but which is also seemingly predestined to be exterminated by humankind no matter how well-intentioned - he accepts the offer with the hope that it will be the trip which finally allows him to undo his guilty conscience and allow the bugger queen to be reborn. In no other book have a ever found myself so profoundly moved by the notion that the truth - the honest-to-God, blunt and in-your-face, spoken without judgement truth - can really free the soul. This book can be read alone or as the sequel to "Ender's Game" but regardless of which you choose, "Speaker for the Dead" is astounding literature. 4. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card The newest Ender novel by Card, published in 2008, Ender in Exile tells the story of what happens to Andrew Wiggin between "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead." Andrew, traveling to Shakespeare Colony some 22 light years from Earth after being appointed Governor of the colony makes the transition from wartime commanding to peacetime commanding and diplomacy. The novel's main sticking point is its development of, specifically, Ender's character, and believe me, Card does it brilliantly.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 21:11
19 April 2009
This morning, I picked up on a news article on AZCentral titled "Amid State Tuition Increases, Cries of Constitutional Foul," and I felt compelled to comment on it. Something I didn't know before happens to be that the Arizona State Constitution, when discussing higher education costs, incudes the following phrase: "The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible." - Art. 11, Sec. 6 The key phrase being "as nearly free as possible." Even to the average layman, who isn't a constitutional scholar, that phrase implies that college tuition should be affordable for all those who choose to attend universities. Even now, ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents, and to some extent UA and NAU, are jacking up fees and surcharges and tuition rates in order to attract more students, better professors, build better buildings, etc. All in the middle of a deep recession where the Legislature is threatening to cut higher education funding by hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, ASU President Michael Crow - not a well-liked person among Arizona educational circles by any means - is proposing a 33% tuition hike for 2009-10 for students. According to the ASU tuition website, that means that the average tuition (which varies depending on when you got accepted to ASU) is $3003.00 for an Arizona resident, and over $9000.00 for a non-resident. An increase of 33% (one-third) means that next year, residents could be paying $4000.00 per semester for tuition, and non residents over $12,000! At UA, a full-time resident student will pay $2772.00 this Spring semester in tuition and fees, while a non-resident will pay $9339.00. Add in the 30% hike UA plans on, and you get numbers of $3603.60 and $12,140.70 respectively. NAU's proposed 21% hike is no better: $3158 up from $2610 for residents and $9406 up from $7774. These proposed hikes could put Arizona above the national average, which according to USA Today, stands at $6,585.00 per year (if the proposed hikes are instituted, it would put tuition at $8008, $7206, and $6316 per year from ASU, UA, and NAU respectively). All of this begs two obvious questions: first, is the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) violating the Arizona Constitution by continuing to hike fees, surcharges, and tuition costs? The Arizona State Supreme Court decided in Kromko v Arizona Board of Regents (2007) that the question represented a "non-justiciable" lawsuit, and declined to decide the case. What that means is that the case represented "a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it." In other words, since there are no standards out there to measure what "nearly free" and "as possible" are, the court could not rule on the case. This brings up question two: what does "as nearly free as possible" imply? First and foremost, it implies that tuition rates will be set at a reasonable level: according to statutes, that level can be no higher than the highest amount of the bottom third of similar universities or colleges, though the Legislature can change this any time they like. Personally, I also take the "nearly free as possible" clause to mean that the schools will not be hiking tuition to pay for anything not essential to their charge as educational institutions. Did NAU really need to install the state's first Platinum LEED-certified building at extraordinary cost to students? The building, one of the three "greenest" in the world due to it's 60-out-of-69 point rating, cost $26 million to build, 10% higher cost than regular construction. All I can say is that if Arizona doesn't quit hiking tuition rates, our public schools won't be the only failing part of Arizona's education system.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 08:58
16 April 2009
Yesterday, thousands, if not millions of people participated in an event dating back to the late 18th century, at least, albeit with some changes made to accomodate for increases in technology, population, and messaging. I'm talking, of course, about paying their taxes, whether online or in line at the post office until all hours of the night (shame on you procrastinators!). Fortunately for me, I did my taxes a month ago (not that it was that hard having only made $1200 in wages last year plus winning a $2500 trip from the radio), and I got my refund shortly thereafter. In case you're curious, I did help to stimulate the economy with my tax refund, buying some goods and services like Spring Training tickets, food, and a movie or two! Speaking of the American economy (wow, what a transition!), yesterday was also the date of the Tax Day TEA Parties across America to protest the incredibly shocking and slightly terrifying tax increases and government growth of the last few months and years. Here in Arizona, an estimated 5,000-6,000 people gathered at the Arizona State Capitol in the chill of the blustery April 15th air with signs and banners and flags to try and let Governor Jan Brewer, Speaker of the House Kirk Adams, and Senate President Robert Burns know that the proposed tax increases the legislature is mulling over are not acceptable as solutions to Arizona's deficit. All told, throughout the day at least 18 major TEA Party events took place throughout Arizona. Gilbert's protest featured Rep. Andy Biggs and Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor of LD-22 and drew 1,000 participants, while the party down in Tucson drew upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 people. My alma mater city of Flagstaff chipped in with 200 supporters, a lower-than-expected turnout because of cold conditions, but impressive for an ultra-liberal stronghold nonetheless! Well done, Arizonans! However, now I get to play political scientist for a moment and wonder what, if any, impact this is actually going to have on tax rates, government transparency, "anti-Socialism," and the advancement of fiscal discipline ideology among the average voter. After a cursory check of various major news sites throughout Arizona, I find that the local sites (www.azdailysun.com - Flagstaff, www.azstarnet.com - Tucson) have stories up on their home pages regarding that city's local protests, but just 18 hours after the protests were in full swing, Arizona's undeniably largest online news source www.AZCentral.com has a grand total of ZERO stories on the protests. Nationally, DrudgeReport (www.drudgereport.com) has one story which is entirely eclipsed by (of all people) Janet Napolitano right now. CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and MSNBC.com all have either moved Tax Day protest stories off their homepages or have them buried under American Idol and "breaking news" about Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA officials for waterboarding tactics. In fact, virtually the only people still talking about the TEA Parties are those people who helped organize them. Like the Twitter #DontGo movement, Tax Day TEA Parties are already falling into obscurity. Will anything actually come of the well-coordinated national movement? Will politicians stand up and take notice that "tens of thousands" of American citizens got up and said "enough is enough" with regards to higher taxes and out-of-control federal spending? To be honest, I don't know. Obviously, as we're already seeing, some Republicans are already trying to capitalize on the movement, using it as the starting line of a race to the 2010 elections to solidify their stances as defenders of fiscal conservatism. Others, like Governor Rick Perry of Texas are already calling for a new Civil War, saying "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that." And, of course, Democrats are calling Republicans all a bunch of crazed wacko anarchists like usual. From Jan Schakowski (D-IL09): "It’s despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt," she added. "Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians.” Frankly, I think Ms. Schakowski is flat-out wrong. First off, no one is cheapening any moment of American history; rather, the events of yesterday were an attempt to draw the corrolation between the events of the famed 1773 tea party, which was a stunt organized to get the average colonial citizen to recognize that taxing people without giving them representation in British Parliament was wrong, and the TEA Parties of yesterday, which were a stunt organized to get the average American citizen to realize that taxing people to death is ALSO wrong. Given that the only thing most people can tell you about the American tax code is that it sucks, drawing that historical connection is not only appropriate, it's necessary to get people to understand the message. Will our leaders listen? Will they try to change? Only time wil tell.
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 11:26
13 April 2009
Good news, everybody (and, no, we're not on Futurama)! My three-day-long temp job for my dad's company has turned into a three-week temp job with the possibility for more afterward, as their full-time receptionist will be on her leave of absence until April 30th! At my current hourly rate of $12.00 per hour, that's $1248.00 worth of work (less taxes, of course). That will be enough to pay the cell phone bill through the end of the year and buy me a few DBacks tickets while I continue on the full-time job hunt! The work is repetitive, to be certain, as I am not the regular receptionist, so most of the projects typically assigned the person in the job (such as ordering supplies, mail duties, and special projects) are fulfilled by others, meaning my time at the office ends up being sometimes dull. I read about 70 pages in my new book today alone while waiting for the phone to ring between 2:30 and 5pm. But hey, work is work, and I'd definitely rather be getting paid to read my book, answer some phones, and do some light filing work over sitting at home on CareerBuilder or something! Plus it's a chance to talk to my dad at lunch and carpooling to and from the office, which I don't get to do near enough, so that's nice. Unfortunately, work also means I won't be at the all-America TEA Party at the Capitol this Wednesday, since I get off at 5pm and Dad doesn't want to go. I'll be watching the news, though, so hopefully you all have a good time and get the point across that we really don't need a tax increase here. If anything, we need more of OUR money to spend OURSELVES and thereby help the economy. Personally, I need a car and an apartment. I'm sure the economy won't mind if I buy/rent those. Oh well, at least my Diamondbacks aren't doing too bad.... Yeah. 2-5 record to start the year, after having lost series to both the Dodgers and Rockies and dropping tonight's game 2-1 to the Cardinals. Brandon Webb's on the DL until April 22nd, Justin Upton is STILL looking for his first hit, and the DBacks bats seem to have been chewed through by termites.... Ugh. Almost makes you wanna start supporting a winning team, like the Blue Jays or Marlins... wait, what?! Yup. Those two teams are among the first-week leaders in the AL and NL respectively. Fun baseball fact of the day: Orlando Hudson (former DBack-turned-Dodger) hit for the cycle today off of both Randy Johnson and Brandon Medders (former DBacks-turned-Giants) thus obtaining the first cycle by a Dodger ever at Dodger Stadium for his onetime MLB rivals. I sense a hint of irony, with a pinch of disdain and a hearty helping of DBacks disgust at having traded O-Dog!
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 20:49
10 April 2009
It was announced today that the 2011 All-Star Game (and the Home Run Derby and other assorted All-Star festivities) will be played at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona! I don't know about you, but I'm going to reserve MY All-Star tickets as soon as I can!
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 17:49
09 April 2009
It has certainly been an eventful week during the past few days, despite it not even being over until tomorrow. Quick recap: Monday: Went to the Opening Day game for the Arizona Diamondbacks season against the Colorado Rockies. It was an awesome game, what with the Snakes hitting five homers and the Rockies hitting three for a final score of 9-8 Diamondbacks. The (statistically) cool thing that happened during the game, too, was that for the first time in club history, two Diamondbacks players hit two home runs with one being from each side of the plate. That means that in the same game, both Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez hit home runs while batting left-handed, and again while batting right-handed. Good start to the season (although at the time of writing, they ended up dropping the next two games to the Rox). Tuesday: Landed myself at the Capitol for a meeting with Arizona Builder's Alliance director Mark Minter, who provided me with some new places to look for my job hunt and gave me some much-needed hints on breaking into the political world here in Arizona. After the meeting, I took his advice to heart and walked over to the Arizona House offices and met with Chief of Staff Victor Riches regarding the resume I had sent my respresentative, Speaker Kirk Adams. I actually honestly didn't think I'd get to meet with anyone, given how busy the House is right now, but Mr. Riches was quite kind enough to grant me some time to speak with him. Wednesday: Well, actually, I didn't do much of anything, save for making my famous chicken enchiladas for dinner! Yum! Tonight: Decided the time was right to jump back into local politics, having been out of the game for about 5 years now due to my being in Flagstaff for school and all. So I attended the LD-22 meeting this evening, and I was really glad I did! Some of the Gilbert leaders were there to speak about some of the things going on at the Legislature recently, I got a (much-needed) tutorial on ALIS - the legislative calendar and information system for the state government - and got to speak with some of my political friends, like the director of Arizonans in Action. This blog, "The View From Arizona" even got a shout-out from former state legislator Trish Groe who provided the ALIS tutorial. (Hopefully you all are enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it!) Tomorrow: Substitute teaching for 5th grade at Mom's charter school again, but since it's a half-day, which is because of AIMS testing right now, I'll have to find something else for tomorrow evening to do.... maybe geocaching since I hear it will be cooler! Next week's forecast: WORK! I actually do have a job lined up, albeit only for M/W/F of next week. I'll be the receptionist for my father's company, WE O'Neil Construction due to their full-time receptionist taking a short leave of absence. For those that have been avid readers of this blog since the summer, you may remember that I was the fill-in guy for O'Neil for a couple weeks back then, too. Look for more political commentary coming up in future weeks and months, too, because I have started a new pet project, and I am going to see where it takes me. I'll be explaining it more in coming posts!
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 22:38
01 April 2009
So today was April Fools day, and out of my usual fashion I decided to have some fun with my friends. I posted on Facebook that a Congressional office in DC had called me to set up an interview on Sunday and I was flying out Friday. Hilarity ensued, as I ensnared about 20 people overall in my trap, and led some of them on for up to a half hour.... you know who you are! I tried to get them to catch on, but to no avail: Person: "Whose office?" Me: "Oh, JD Salinger's office from Maine." (Salinger being the author who wrote "Catcher in the Rye.") Person: "What will you be doing?" Me: "Well, throughout APRIL, I'll be getting the FOOLS in Congress any info they need ona wide number of topics." Person: "Is Salinger a Democrat or a Republican?" Me: "He's a very leftist guy, but I totally agree with his positions on abortion and green energy." (I told them he was pro-choice and anti-nuclear, which most people know are not my positions.) Person: "Why are you gonna work for a Democrat?" Me: In this economy, I'd be a FOOL not to take a job!" At the end of the conversation, I still had to explain to some I'd been joking by telling them, by the way, Happy April Fool's Day! (My cousin TOTALLY didn't get it when I said this.) Thanks all for being good sports and indulging my moment of humor upon my joblessness!
Posted by Andrew Meeusen at 23:44