Usually drunken.

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Mountain Biking - Part 2: "The Wipe Out"

Mar 24, 2009, 7:58 am by John

So yesterday afternoon my buddy and I went riding in Terry Hershey Park here in Houston. It's basically a 7 or so mile long park following a creek with a concrete path on one side and a mountain biking/hiking dirt trail on the other. About 20 minutes into the ride we decide to switch bikes just to see how the other rode. So my buddy and I are riding along the dirt path and get to this fairly steep 10' tall hill. Neither one of us makes it up the front side and have to walk to the top of the hill. He immediately jumps on my bike and makes it down no problem. At the end of the hill was a big tree lying across the path and so he jumps off the bike to get under it, just as I take off from the top of the hill.

So the path down the back side of this hill is covered in roots from rain water washing the dirt out and other mountain bikers. This usually is a bigger deal going up than down so I didn't think too much of it...yet. So I start off and go over a couple roots no problem and then I get to this one that's sticking up about 6" above the trail. I'm not sure if I didn't try to pick up the front wheel or as I did I hit the brake, all I know is that I hit the root and my front tire stopped immediately. So, this isn't the first time this has happened and usually I just jump off the seat, put my feet on the ground, and awkwardly walk down the hill. This would not be the case today.

As my front tire stopped I jump off my seat, put my feet on the ground, and said "Uh oh!," immediately catching my buddy's attention so he could watch the events unfold. As my feet hit the ground the rear tire lifted and I went straight over the bars. As I fell over the bars I tucked my right shoulder, I think I do this because of the number of times I jumped off my house and out of trees as a kid. Anyway, as I tucked my shoulder my left foot came up first and my heel caught the pedal of the bike, lifting it and sending it soaring in the air. As I landed flat on my back I looked up at a bike, that isn't mine, flying through the air. It landed about 4 feet away.

At this point my buddy is also on the ground, except he's laughing his ass off. He somehow squeezed out "are you OK?," and by this time I realized that I wasn't in too much pain. I got back up, checked his bike and our cell phones that were in my Camelback. Thankfully there were no injuries to the rider, the bike, or the phones. We continued our ride and got a solid 13 miles in.

My buddy swears it's the funniest thing he's seen in a long time. My shoulder's a little sore this morning.

Sea Town, Here I Come!

Mar 22, 2009, 10:22 pm by Sam

space needleI'm going to Seattle tomorrow morning. I'm going to be getting a physical for a job I hope to get. Don't ask me why I have to go to Seattle to get the physical--that's just what my travel orders state. Getting asked to get a physical means I'm quite a bit closer to landing my dream job, provided that I pass the physical and that at least one other person does not pass the physical, which may be the case, since they don't ask you to get it unless someone else failed or is disqualified.

Even though I'm only going to be there for a few days and it'll be mostly sitting in a doctor's office, I'm pretty excited. The only other time I was in Seattle was a far-too-long layover in the Sea-Tac airport in the middle of the night with nothing to eat but fast food. This time I might get a little time to see the city.

I'm also stoked about getting a three day extension on spring break. I need a rest from SXSW!

I’d rather be dancing ballroom

Mar 12, 2009, 10:37 am by Paul Stiverson

Last week at The Hall I realized that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with country-western dancing. I guess it isn’t specifically the dancing that I am bored with, but rather the (wait, let me get out my soapbox) relatively low quality of the average partner. There are, of course, some outstanding dancers to be found at The Hall, but they are the minority. I am usually fortunate to be surrounded by good partners, but on slow nights I find myself torn between my desire to dance, and my aversion to dancing with somebody who (a) is no good, and (b) has no desire to improve (either of the two is fine, but together it is a shitty combination).

Another infuriating aspect of C&W is the lack of dancing etiquette. There are a few simple rules that—when followed my everybody—make dancing much more pleasant, they prevent collision and reduce traffic-jams. However, folks at honky-tonks have no knowledge of these guidelines (or perhaps they know them but have no desire to follow them, either way the result is the same). These rules include: No standing on the dance-floor, slower moving couples should stay to the inside of the dance-floor allowing faster moving couples to pass by, avoid stopping (for floor moves or otherwise) in a choked area of the dance-floor, don’t attempt lifts when another couple is in striking distance, and remain vigilant of other couples so as to avoid collisions.

The Hall has also made a deliberate shift in their musical selection, this move toward Nashville Country is infuriating. The management claims it is good for business, but I don’t see how selling out your regulars and becoming exactly like your competition is a good thing.

There is no denying that there are bad dancers and people with poor etiquette at ballroom dances as well. However there is adequate social pressure to correct the etiquette problems, and it is easier to recognize good dancers.

I will continue to dance C&W because it is fun and I still enjoy the different social aspects of a honky-tonk, but there are several things that I would change given the opportunity.

don't just say google

Mar 7, 2009, 4:25 pm by Lew

here let me google that for youI have something that matters to share with the internet. When someone asks a question don't just tell them to google it. A question is a way of starting a conversation. conversations are an essential tool for human survival and happiness. if someone asks you a question they are interested in you. they have some sort of respect for you and want you to share knowledge. we could just google everything but that isn't a society i want to partake in.

Gogo Thismatters

Mar 4, 2009, 6:39 am by Paul Stiverson

check the stats, yo.So, I’m pretty anal about checking the statistics of thismatters, this morning I checked the stats for February (at right). Fifteen Hundred viewers in the month of February, 50% more than January. Eat your heart out [other self-run website about nothing].

In case you’re wondering almost all the hits were for my Lone Star bottle cap collection, and a great deal of them came from a meta-filter article about Lone Star Beer—which I swear I didn’t write—that gave me a pretty big shout out. The link from the Lone Star Beer Wikipedia entry has always brought in a few hits, but this meta-filter page is doing gangbusters.

If I keep getting mad hits on my cap view page then I might have to add an ad to it and start making back some of these hosting costs. I know what you’re thinking, ads are stupid and annoying, and you are right, but one company is actually doing internet ads the right way. If I were to add an ad it would be through them, but I probably won’t because ads are stupid and annoying, plus I have a job and don’t really need the money.

    you're definitely doing it way wrong

    Feb 27, 2009, 6:06 pm by Trey

    BBBOOOOOCCCKKKK!!!!!!to kind of lighten up the mood of the blog for a change; i came across this motivational poster while i was being bored on the internet today.
    it pertains in two ways:
    a. you're doing it wrong
    b. i like chickens

    it made me giggle, thoughts?

    Axioms: Meta-Nature's Candy

    Feb 24, 2009, 11:16 pm by Paul Stiverson

    The following is a guest post made by my roommate, Tim.

    Sometimes in philosophy and math, it becomes requisite to acknowledge that certain "facts" are unverifiable. Assumptions are made, and arguments use these assumptions as a starting point. There's not a question of them being right or wrong, as they're either "self-evident" or just light from the proverbial void. I point this out in reference to a statement that "2+2=4" is "always completely verifiable". It's not that it's a bad assumption to make, but it's being somewhat abused to make a point about morality or birth control... or something.

    Let's start with what doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't scientific). Firstly, the afore-mentioned "2+2=4" is a special instance of what is called the law of identity (e.g. a = a). For certain arguments, this so-called law has been used as the assumption upon which various blitheringly stupid arguments have been made (see: Ayn Rand). Basically, science doesn't enter into it. Science is all about figuring things out based on empirical observation (called "a posteriori" knowledge), and the law of identity is self-asserting, not based on experience (called "a priori" knowledge), but draws its truth value from the claim itself. 2+2=4 is neither a scientific claim nor a scientific fact.

    That being said, let's talk about another thing that doesn't have anything to do with scientific fact (in this case, because it isn't fact). It's true that scientists of a sort became aware of a possible health danger exists in the consumption of eggs. Researchers (people who experiment and analyze results) discovered a link between the amount and type of cholesterol in egg yolks and a dangerous increase in LDL cholesterol levels in the human blood stream. The researchers in question work in biomedical science, which at this point is far softer science than something like chemistry, making it particularly difficult to verify the veracity of claims made. At very best, there was fairly compelling evidence that the assertion could be true. The link was popularized, and many people did accept as "gospel truth" that "eggs gon' kill us". This speaks more to the fickleness of the general populus and less to the claims made by "science". As happens with things that may or may not be true, studies have been done that suggest the exact opposite; that eggs in fact lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. The absolute truth of the matter is arguably difficult to pin down, and as long as people keep immediately believing anything published on paper, people will continue to scapegoat "science" for giving us lowly commoners "facts" that later end up not being true. To clarify, the Houston Chronicle's "health" section doesn't count as science, as far as any vaguely accurate definition is concerned.

    Now, let's change things up completely and talk about why scientific fact doesn't have anything to do with what was said (in this case, because the term "scientific fact" doesn't make a damned bit of sense). The "facts" (I'm just going to discuss the laws of thermodynamics as the strongest possible objection to my own argument) that science currently possesses are very strong, but no matter how strong they contend to be, there's an implicit assumption that they are correct and that they are just so compelling that they're almost certainly true. I'm not going to disagree, as they are very, very compelling. Despite that opinion/fact, there are various contingencies in which science's strongest facts manage to be actively false (e.g. our context isn't as clear as it seems, there are forces at work we just flatly can't currently see... There are more. But don't take my word for it!).

    I've managed to pretty bluntly avoid my real problem with the obviously referent argument. The morality/ethics/religion/science battle royale being waged earlier was convoluted enough that I'm not sure that any of the parties involved were necessarily sure what was even being argued. But I suppose that's content for another headache.

    I suppose it's pointless to mention that THIS MATTERS.

    Mountain Biking

    Feb 17, 2009, 2:18 pm by John

    I finally decided that i am gaining too much weight and needed to do something about it. i have joined a gym and it is nice to have a place to workout and destroy co-workers in racquetball but sometimes i just want to be outside. i have also found, over the years, that i despise running because i find it one of the most boring things to do ever.

    I have some friends in college station and here, in houston, who mountain bike on a regular basis and after riding with them a few times i decided to go ahead and buy one (see pic)

    i rode it a few times up and down the bayou behind my house but didn't get into any intense riding until this weekend. while riding i came upon 2 very important discoveries. 1. know which way your shifters shift. when you get up to a big hill you don't want to go into a higher gear, stall out, and stumble half way down...in front of other people. this sounds simple but you would be amazed what actually happens when you get into this situation. 2. look at where you want to go and not where you don't want to. this, too, sounds simple but have you ever seen those video shows where the guy driving down the highway crashes into the police car sitting on the side of the road? same concept when applied to trees and stumps while riding a bike.

    anyway, i would recommend this source of exercise to anyone. it's a great way to get out and get some fresh air, while getting a full body work out without getting bored.

    Update (Re: Options)

    Feb 16, 2009, 1:28 pm by Paul Stiverson

    I previously posted that I was considering quitting graduate school after finishing my Master’s degree. I’m happy to say that I have decided against that plan. My new advisor was able to pull some strings at NASA and get them to open up a fellowship position for me which led to a significant pay increase from my previous salary so I am in a much better financial situation than before. I’m still looking forward to teaching full (or at least mostly full) time, but I can put it off a few more years and muscle through my doctorate. In the interim I will continue to tutor and keep applying to be a lecturer here in the Mechanical Engineering department. As far as research goes I am enjoying my current topic a lot more now that I have funding and time to work on it, but will keep looking for a new and exciting topic for my Ph.D.

    As part of this development I took my qualifying exams (or prelims if you will) last week. I’m happy to announce that I passed them both on the first attempt, so I am now qualified to start Doctoral work.

    Valentine's Day

    Feb 14, 2009, 7:55 pm by Sam

    cupidI am sick of Valentine's Day. Not because of the commercialization or the fact that I'm single, but because of all the single people who complain about it. I know too many people who bitch about it for weeks on end and then have anti-Valentine's Day celebrations, wherein they pretend to not enjoy the idea of showing their loved ones what they mean to them. I celebrated anti-Valentine's Day exactly once, and that was when I was in 7th grade. Eleven years ago. I was 14 years old.

    Calling it Singles Awareness Day doesn't make you edgy. Nor does burning your panties or eating upside down heart cookies. Face the facts: you are, for some reason, obsessed with the idea of being in a relationship and bitter as fuck that you're not in one. You may say all the anti-V-Day stuff is a joke, but there's a kernel of truth to every joke. Maybe the reason you're single is because of your terrible attitude.

    Heaven forbid you let other people have fun today. Maybe one day when you find your sack and quit wearing shortpants to work, you might actually have a significant other and you will have fun celebrating V-Day. More than likely, you will not, so next year when you're feeling like a pathetic neckbearded lump of angst, try calling your mom or grandma and telling them happy Valentine's Day. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you and it'll give you something nice to do.

    Maybe next time Yom Kippur rolls around, I'll bitch and moan about it for weeks and call it Gentile Awareness Day. Or maybe on Bastille Day I'll have an anti-France party, even though I think France looks really lovely and I'd like to go one day. Anything to make a point to you chronic complainers.

    No Condoms

    Feb 4, 2009, 5:39 pm by Paul Stiverson

    Preface: this post was inspired by a pro-life facebook note that evolved into a discussion about contraceptive education in schools. This post can be considered an expansion on a previous post.

    Anytime I find myself in a civil dialog concerning abortion and unplanned pregnancy I always bring up the inadequacy of sexual education in schools, and it is always a touchy subject. I believe that when it comes to education that you must never seek to hide or alter the truth from the student, to do so keeps the student ignorant, and ultimately destroys the students’ ability to form coherent and informed opinions. Needless to say I think that sex-ed—if it is to be taught in public schools—should include common contraceptives as well as the merits of abstinence.

    I’m sure the careful reader is aware that the Holy Roman Catholic Church has—historically—taken a strong stance on the use of contraceptives: latex+penis=hell (although they are starting to come around). I can appreciate their views on the subject, they believe that when blocking the chance of conception the “marriage act” (Catholic for sex) is incomplete and amoral.1 This view doesn’t stop them from trying to prevent conception thought, oh no, they came up with a strategy for doing the marriage act without having kids and without bringing down the fire and brimstone. In order to not conceive you should practice natural family planning, to do it properly you should probably invest in a pocket calendar (for the record I have no problem with that being taught in schools, as long as condoms can get equal time).

    Now, in the recent past there has been quite a hubub regarding teaching kids about condom use—preferring to rely on shame and fear to keep kids safe—because of this (religious) belief. It seems to me that writing a curriculum based on some religious docorine is a pretty clear violation of the separation of church and state. In order to get around that violation they changed their tune: contraceptive talk shouldn’t be allowed because their effectiveness is sub-optimal. Well sure, the effectiveness is debatable (99.98%2 isn't quite perfect), but even the worst condom is more effective than none at all, and couple it with an oral contraceptive and the effectiveness jumps significantly. Who’s keeping track. If we want to restrict sex-ed talks to methods that are 100% effective then why don’t we teach our kids about anal sex? Probably because the church thinks it is icky.3

    The time to start giving teens accurate, reliable, and unbiased information about their sexual health is now. To be completely honest though, I don’t think it should be the schools’ job, it is time for parents to step up to the plate and teach their children well.4 If it is to be taught in (public) schools then there should be no pretense regarding the morality of sex, keep it simple and give them the facts. Leave the sermons to the priests.


    1. I’m deriving this from the document Morals and Marriage, Part IV Morality of Intercourse, from a section titled “Purity implies sex”. Not a bad read, check it out if you’ve got some time to kill.
    2. Hatcher RA et al. Contraceptive Technology, 18th rev. ed. New York: Ardent Media, 2004.
    3. For the record, it is icky. That whole section on anal sex is a joke (a reference to a great site technicalvirgin.com, which has sadly been removed), lighten up zealots.
    4. [Crosby, Stills, and Nash joke here]

    Street Art II

    Jan 30, 2009, 9:54 am by Lew

    rocket shipThis was in a construction tunnel for the condo tower "the austonian" on Congress ave. I liked it. I thought it was neat that someone would spray paint a rocket ship.

    Administration Building

    Jan 23, 2009, 3:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

    The column toppers are awesomeFor those who are unaware, I have a pretty serious love affair going on with Texas. So, when I happened upon an orgy of Texas themed awesomeness I thought it would be appropriate to share it with you all.

    I had reason to visit the Jack K. Williams Administration Building on campus, which is a pretty sweet looking building from the outside. I had no idea the treat that I was in for. If you find yourself on the Texas A&M campus then stop by the administration building and treat yourself to some awesome.

    The included images are a taste of the treats in store for you.
    the floor is awesome

    Array Brownies

    Jan 23, 2009, 2:01 pm by Lew

    array cake get!Yesterday was my bday and for the occasion my fiancee made me a delicious and hilarious microarray brownie cake. if you are a bio nerd this is funny. if not then it is jargon. i wanted to share though.

    Street Art I

    Jan 21, 2009, 3:47 pm by Lew

    Barton Springs under the Missouri Pacific BridgeI have long wanted to document street art that I happen upon. I finally got a camera phone so now I can start doing it. There are some street artists (that I have known) that have a strict code. They are artists using the outdoors as a gallery. They only put their art on public spots, like electic boxes and light polls. never on a building or private propert. many are wheat-pasters, they use a flour based adhesive so their pictures will dissolve after a month. i don't always condone street art. but some of it is really good. i won't post every scibble i happen on, but anything that obviously took some thought and effort i will add here. So here is my first contribution. This was taken on Barton Springs Road in Austin, it is a stencil sprayed on a bridge pillar on the missouri pacific (mopac) railroad bridge. enjoy.

    Fireside Chat

    Jan 21, 2009, 7:55 am by Paul Stiverson

    Exciting times in America, we have ourselves a new president: a liberal fellow who will surely restore some international (and intranational) trust in America, who will push us forward into the future with the only thing that can possibly push a people forward: forward thinking. Honestly, I will be happy if he just pushes for higher research funding, scientific research is the only thing that can make the future better than the present.

    As part of his presidency Barack Obama is bringing back the fireside chat, although it will not be called the fireside chat, but instead a “Weekly Video Address”. Every Saturday President Obama (it is really nice to finally say “President Obama”) will record and post a video aimed at the American public, hopefully to keep us apprised of situations and keep people engaged in civic participation.

    If you click on the above link you will be taken to the freshly re-designed WhiteHouse.gov which is done in the same style as Obama’s campaign website and the now-removed transition website, change.gov. Of course, WhiteHouse.gov will not feature any of the user-created content like BarackObama.com, and WhiteHouse.gov will have graphics set in a presidential Times New Roman rather than the sleek and hip Gotham which was used on all campaign materials.

    The new president will also, apparently, be keeping a blog, it is a brave new world.


    Jan 20, 2009, 4:34 pm by Lew

    First post during the Obama administration! I ducked out with a few co-workers to catch the inaugural address. We watched it at oaxacan tamaleo near our lab. starting out the obama administration with a plate of enfrioladas and good coffee was the right thing to do. it was just us and the tamale folks there watching it (it was a bit early for tamales). they were super nice to let watch it with them and provide tasty food. we walked in on the tail end of rick warren's prayer. i like him. i like him in the same way i like mike huckabbe. i disagree with him strongly but like him as a person. i thought it was a nice and touching invocation. aretha franklin proved that she is the only diva, damn she can sing like no one else alive. i am looking forward to beyonce singing "at last" for the first dance at the inaugural ball. but beyonce, don't forget aretha stills runs the show. i face palmed when the chief justice flubbed the swearing in. obama's speech was right on i thought. i am not sure it will be famous for generations but i thought it was right on for the climate right now. i whooped (really i did) when he said "We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders..." and "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers." non-believers appreciate the shout out mr. president. The poem was a flop. the final convocation rocked. if you didn't see it you need to. it was the most memorable part of the inauguration.


    Jan 16, 2009, 4:40 pm by Trey

    Socks, now made to stay fresh.
    Two things to note in this picture...
    1. The big ass "socks" word.
    2. The "resealable bag" phrase in the middle of the picture.
    lol really? i found this while opening up my new socks today. I guess they are worried about them spoiling now-a-days. any other thoughts?

    iTunes and DRM

    Jan 11, 2009, 10:10 am by Paul Stiverson

    So, Apple announced that it is actively removing their version of Digital Rights Management (DRM) from their music store on iTunes. This decision lags significantly behind other online music stores moving away from restrictive DRM, and is long past due. Probably two years ago Apple introduced iTunes Plus which represented a class of songs that were available in higher quality than the standard iTunes, and were free of DRM. However, when they released it they were only making a limited selection of new music available on iTunes Plus; now they are going to retroactively make all songs iTunes Plus.

    I’ll say that this decision makes me extremely happy, it probably won’t stop me from pirating music (the stuff that really isn’t worth buying), but I will likely double the number of albums I will legally buy in a year. Typically I would only buy albums at local shows (assuming I like the music, John can back me up on this one), or if it is an artist I really like. The notable exceptions are albums that are out of print, largely unavailable for piracy, and extremely desirable: those I would buy on iTunes. I’ll admit that I have bought DRM’d music, but as a rule I find the practice of limiting the use of legitimately purchased media to be ridiculous. I still prefer to get a hard-copy, but a DRM-free soft copy is nearly as good.

    I’ll defend my piracy not because I like free (as in no cost), but because I like free (as in freedom), and as this XKCD points out, you can still be a criminal with legally acquired media.

    Bonus: Check out Kyle Park if you get a chance.

    2 great finds on saturday night

    Jan 5, 2009, 1:49 pm by John

    This past saturday night i got the pleasure of find 2 things that i love. a new band and a new music hall. i call it a music hall, though it is basically a long skinny store with a bar down the length of 1 wall.

    the band is "Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers" and the music hall is "the continental club" in downtown houston.

    mr. stiverson and i have had many conversations about what various bands were lacking. i think, he will correct me if i'm wrong, we've decided that most bands need a double bass, an steel guitar, or a fiddle. add in the drums and you have "Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers." I don't believe i had ever seen a country band that lacked an electric guitar but these guys didn't need one.

    To add to the great band, who all knew how to play their instruments well, Miss leslie is a singer song writer, which is always the best. they did, however, cover some songs including johnny bush's "green snakes on the ceiling" and some patsy cline. they were definitely a texas swing band much like "asleep at the wheel." this makes their songs more difficult to dance to but perfect for just having a drink with some friends and listening to. despite this, there were several couples dancing in the small area in front of the stage.

    the other great part of the evening was going to "the continental club." this place looks straight out of the 1960s, complete with shlitz in a can and lonestar on tap! i knew this place was going to be good when i walked in and saw that neon light fixtures, not neon light beer signs or any of that jazz, but actual fixtures made up the lighting of the whole place. to top it off they had some locals in the back with fresh cajun food. i didn't have any but looked and smelled delicious.

    i had a very pleasant evening listening to some texas swing in one of the places, it appeared, where it was born. be sure to look up "miss leslie" and "the continental club," they won't disappoint.

    Edit: I originally posted that the band had an electric guitar. It is actually a steel guitar. It's not easy to mix them up and I don't know what I was thinking. The band consisted of a steel guitar, double bass, fiddle and drums! Most excellent!

    Próspero Año

    Jan 1, 2009, 9:39 pm by Lew

    Happy New Year y'all. 2008 was quite a year it had big ups and downs but the ups were truly great and the downs manageable. 2009 will be guaranteed to be awesome as I get married this year. The fiancee and I enjoyed drinks and fireworks for new year's eve. We had noodles for dinner tonight as a tip of the hat to chinese new year, long new noodles long life. I took a swim in Barton Springs pool to start the new year and it was glorious. I skipped (slept through) the morning dunk most swimmers take and went after dark. There were only a couple people there, the water was crystal clear even in the darkness. I could see some large-ish fish swimming and all the plants on the bottom. There were stars out (almost as much as the east austin sky), the zilker tree was still up, and the towers were glowing across the river. I put on a pot of black-eyed peas and ate a small bowl of them when I got home. I don't know the origin of that new years tradition but as long as I remember I have had them every new years. Should be a lucky and prosperous year amiright?


    Dec 28, 2008, 9:29 am by Paul Stiverson

    When I left the house on Saturday to get lunch I noticed that the driver’s side rear-door window of my car had been broken, and that the contents of my vehicle were in disarray. The stereo was gone and the contents of the glove box were spilled out on the floor. At 11:04AM I called the College Station Police’s non-emergency line, and was told to wait for an officer to arrive. A speedy 38 minutes elapsed before officer Brown showed up to collect all the details, we went through the regular crap, he dusted the car for fingerprints (I have to admit, I am a little surprised about that). Once I was able to look inside I confirmed that the stereo was indeed gone, and that my iPod—which was connected to the stereo—was also gone. All said about $500 worth of stuff taken, and $200 worth of damage done.

    It seems to me that there are a class of products aimed at car-theft prevention, but very few aimed at car-thief apprehension, and it seems quite feasible to tailor make products specifically aimed at catching and convicting petty criminals. These, of course, wouldn’t be terribly effective at preventing the crime from taking place, but at preventing future crime from taking place by removing criminals from the streets.

    Of course the most effective way to stop criminal activity would be to effectively rehabilitate criminals already in the prison system, let them gain some value to the workforce while in prison and then once they are out facilitate the job search. The way to stop criminal activity before it starts is to effectively educate all young people (even if just a vocation) in order to give them options. It is my sincere belief—and I’m sure I’ll catch some flack for this—that thieves aren’t stealing because they necessarily want to, but instead because it is the most lucrative option they have (or because they had a role model who felt that way). Start opening positions that offer a living wage, and offer an available alternative to a life of crime; this has been proven to improve impoverished areas.

    On a happier note, I finished writing the first draft of my thesis.

      planet blu-ray

      Dec 27, 2008, 1:29 am by Lew

      that's sir david I learned two things recently. The first is that blu-ray is totally worth it and that if you are making a documentary you either need to have someone who speaks English with an accent or you need James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman. There are no other Americans who can narrate for a damn. I got a blu-ray player for Christmas and the planet earth bbc discs. The difference is amazing. I did not think the vhs to dvd jump was a big deal, the picture is comparable. Watching a wolf take down a caribou in hd is amazing. I like nature films and this is the best non-Jacques Cousteau series I have seen. Cousteau may lack hd but the weird places he went and the drama he brings more than makes up for it. Now if they could do his movies on blu-ray I would probably sell a testicle to see them. This tangents to my other point. David Attenborough narrates planet earth. I watched a (regular def) documentary by Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) and it was good. But it was narrated by just regular American dude. Why the hell didn’t Jean-Michel narrate? He is franco-american he was born to narrate. Documentaries either need the authenticity and exotic quality of accented English or the gravity of james earl jones, otherwise it just footage of outside with dudes chattering.

      Merry Holiday

      Dec 25, 2008, 10:46 pm by Lew

      to be young and unibrowedMerry Holiday all you good boys and girls that matter.

      grinds my gears

      Dec 19, 2008, 6:22 pm by Lew

      I cannot affect these larger world happening but they are bothering me. Hperhaps this post will have a butterfly effect. December 25 is not "holiday" it is christmas. saying the name of the holiday is not offensive. it is more offensive to me to act like a p.c. wimp than it is to make a reference to the holiday. it is an insult and a lie to go so out of the way to say "holiday" instead of christmas.

      Caroline Kennedy can be the new york senator if she wants and can convince the governor. she is not the liberal sarah palin. she has never held elected office but neither had hillary clinton and she was elected. if caroline kennedy ran she would certainly win so just give her the seat if she wants it and let her defend it in 2010. stop whinning that she is acting entitled, everyone who wants to be appointed thinks they are entitled.

      yes pastor rick warren is opposed to gay marriage and a pro-lifer. that is because he is a pastor. you would be hard pressed to find many pastors who aren't. a pastor is going to deliver the inaugral convocation. he isn't being appointed to the supreme court, he is making a speech and obama in a brilliant politician for asking a very popular, moderate conservative pastor to speak. it is a nice symbol to those who felt left out following the election. just because obama won doesn't mean that the whole country is now the castro neighborhood in san francisco.

      finally, kanye west and most other rappers. rhyming a word with itself is not a rhyme. buy a rhyming dictionary and spend a few more minutes writing your raps!

      On Christianity

      Dec 19, 2008, 4:52 pm by Paul Stiverson

      I’ve considered myself a non-theist (or maybe an atheist) for quite some time now, but I was raised Christian. I had never explored the reasons why I fell from the fold until recently when I was asked seriously (by somebody who I felt deserved an honest response). There are a slew of bullshit reasons that I can give: atrocities performed in the name of Christ, my personal inability to commit to something of that magnitude, my general skepticism, the hive-mind mindset that allows injustices (and ignorance in the sciences) to be perpetuated, the fast and loose (mis)interpretation of scripture which permits the aforementioned injustices to come into existence. I could cite the passing of my father during my childhood, and bitch about the apparent lack of justice and equity in the world as evidence of the lack of a grand creator. I could note that to be a scientist you have to have an open mind—free of preconceived notions of an unseen and unmeasurable force driving the universe. I could say that I’ve never been touched by the hand of god, as so many Christians claim to have experienced. I could point to some mal-developed part of my brain that deals with the spiritual, but all those reasons are flimsy and unimportant. Ultimately I don’t think I have a legitimate reason, I am who I am.

      When people discover that I’m not Christian (at least here in College Station) there is often a palpable shift in their body language, as if—since I’m not in their club—I’m suddenly an immoral person. It has always bothered me that religious folks associate morality with religion, as if god is the only thing that can stop a person from acting out all of their wildest impulses. As if god stops you from being pure id. The only thing god provides—in the arena of self-control, and in my experience—is a place to put all the regret you feel for doing whatever bad things you do, he lets you cop out of your sins, he forgives you so you can forgive yourself. The beautiful thing about not believing in god is that you have to be responsible for yourself and your actions. I don’t have the luxury of asking anybody for forgiveness other than the person I may have wronged, the regret for past transgressions has nowhere to go but toward stopping me from repeating my mistakes.

      All that being said, I do think that religious teachings have a place, the Bible is an excellent document for teaching people how to live well. It tells you not to be a bastard, and illustrates past bastards who were punished for their bastardy ways. The rub is that people don’t just take away the lessons, they get all manner of byproducts that end up diluting the important lessons. Jesus’ teachings are absolutely right on, he told his followers that they needed to go further than not being bad, but indeed, to be good. Love you neighbor, don’t judge people, and that the wonder of life doesn’t reside in the material. These teachings should not be neglected, they should be celebrated and followed in their purest form. The circumstances of his life (and the afterlife in general) are insignificant compared to his words, and you don’t have to believe that Jesus was the messiah (or the son of the messiah, or anything else special)—or even believe that he actually existed—to benefit from the quality of the teachings.

      power to the proletariat

      Dec 19, 2008, 3:14 pm by Lew

      At my work like many other business places things have been tougher over the last few months. There seems to be new bad news trickling down from our corporate parents every couple of weeks that results in us getting it in the shorts. At first everyone is pissed when a new piece of bad news falls in our laps. We are outraged then the next next everyone shrugs, says “at least we have jobs” puts their nose down and gets back to work. That is b.s. in my view. I think the higher ups are fully aware of this average reaction to bad news and are using the situation to chip away at their commitments to the employees while we are vulnerable. There is not much confidence in the economy right now but truly not much has changed from a few months ago. People are still making stuff and selling it to other people. The attitude has changed, working folks feel vulnerable and can be bullied a little bit without putting up a fight. I am new to the work force, but I am sure this method of peeling back wages and benefits is nothing new. It disturbs me to see this corporate reality and makes me wonder what is being done to people elsewhere who are more vulnerable who don't deserve to be pushed around.

      please note that I am equally incensed by dumbass employees who bitch about everything the benefits they think they deserve when they haven't done anything to earn it. Working at a business is very different than anything I have done before and is quite eye opening. It make academia seem removed. Everything is about profit of course, that is obvious. But in a company people are forced together and have to invent a culture that lets them get along. Maybe some companies pick people with a culture in mind, but large ones like mine just need qualified people. Give the surveillance tapes to a sociologist (or better yet a primate zoologist) and I bet we could learn a lot about human animal behavior.

      community partay!

      faith in austin destroyed

      Dec 13, 2008, 7:42 pm by Sam

      Just when I was starting to think that my neighborhood wasn't all bad, it went and pissed me off today. This afternoon, as I was on my way to the Verizon store to buy a new phone, I saw a really old lady in an electric wheelchair in the middle of an intersection (at 6th and Chic�³n, for those interested), waving her arms. The chair was obviously out of juice and people just kept driving around her. I parked my car at a goddamn art gallery and went to see if she needed help. Her chair was in fact broken, so I pushed her all the way home on 5th and a few blocks west. Little known fact: electric wheelchairs weigh as much as one and a half Honda Civics.

      1. Fucking yuppie motherfuckers driving their goddamn Priuses around a goddamn old lady STUCK in the MIDDLE of a goddamn INTERSECTION. Fuck you, dickbags. If you can't help your neighbors, get the fuck out. They come here, buy $250,000 condos, raise property taxes out the wazoo, and shit all over their neighbors. Fuck your art galleries. Fuck your condos. Fuck you.

      2. The lady was gracious and told me thank you and bless you and whatnot, but her (presumable) daughter just stood there smoking a cigarette on the stoop. Didn't say thank you or fuck you or anything and didn't offer me a glass of water or anything even though I was panting. I just walked away.

      I didn't do it expecting a thank you, but you'd think that's common courtesy. The old lady was very gracious, which was all that was necessary, but you'd think the daughter would be gracious...at least a little. This post was not to tell everyone what a good samaritan I am, as I was just doing my duty and helping a fellow Texan. Why nobody else in the neighborhood thought this was a priority is beyond me. I am at a loss for words.

      Wild Tales

      Dec 9, 2008, 3:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

      Foreword: I am writing this review about 35 years late… better late than never.

      Over the summer I started listening to Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)), I bought his first solo album Songs for Beginners and was quite impressed. After hearing several of the tracks off his second album Wild Tales I decided to purchase it too. WOW. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is probably the best album I have ever heard, from top to bottom it is a powerhouse of songwriting and lyricism. Each of the ten tracks is strong enough to be a single—one of them, “You’ll never be the same”, would have been quite comfortable on a country station.

      “Prison Song” is a protest of drug laws, pointing out the inconsistencies of sentencing in different states. He offers two stories of people sent to jail for buying or selling marijuana (presumably), and notes the bias of judgments due to the offenders’ wealth: “There’s not a rich man there who couldn’t pay his way, and buy the freedom that’s a high price for the poor”. The harmonica makes gives the song a bluesy, in prison feel. “And So It Goes” tries to capture the common bond that we all share (in a very abstract hippie kind of way)—“We are loved and we are lonely, we are many, we are few; make it out of love and build a dream”.

      “Oh! Camil”, my favorite track, is spirited waltz, although not one meant for dancing. It is a song for returning soldiers and their stories: “When you tell me your story are you making amends for all the hatred you saw? Will you tell all the people about the people who cry out for God, not for country or war?” “On the Line” is written with an interesting rhyme scheme, just about every line in each of the verses rhymes, it reminds me of “There’s Only One” from Songs for Beginners. The closing track, “Another Sleep Song”1, is gentle and hypnotic, a plea to be awaken.

      Buy this album, you will not be disappointed.


      1. On his first album there was a track called “Sleep Song”, I don’t think the subject matter carries over, but it could have been written for the same person, who knows.

      flu vaccine II

      Dec 9, 2008, 2:15 pm by Lew

      Here is a nice citation about mass flu vaccination Over the last seven years Ontario gave free influenza vaccinations to everyone over 6 months old. The rest of Canada, like the USA, continued population targeted vaccinations. In Ontario the number of influenza related deaths and hospital visits went down dramatically compared to the rest of the country.

      The Effect of Universal Influenza Immunization on Mortality and Health Care Use

      The results of this large-scale natural experiment suggest that universal

      vaccination may be an effective public health measure for reducing the annual

      burden of influenza.

      I can't find the link but the cdc is adding people 6 months to 18 years old to the targeted vaccination group. Not because they are vulnerable but because school children are a major vector pool for influenza.

      a brief note on neckwear, pt. 1

      Dec 7, 2008, 9:15 pm by Sam

      windsor knotI've noticed that almost none of the male teachers at my school wear ties. I can only recall seeing one teacher wear one, and usually only the principal and AP's wear them. I firmly believe that when you dress nicer, you will perform better and be perceived as being more professional. I think part of the problem with my low-performing, academically unacceptable school is that the teachers take no pride in their work and it shows in their dress. Casual Friday, at least at my school, now means bluejeans, any grungy old t-shirt, and flip flops. (On Fridays, I wear whatever I would wear every other day of the week, but with jeans in place of slacks.) In an effort to look more professional at school and to get the principals' attention, I've started wearing ties, and it's working. The students are slightly more respectful, teachers have told me how nice I look and the principals now say good morning to me.

      I only have a handful of modern, fashionable ties, but slowly making my collection larger. Good ties cost as much or more than a good shirt, but can be well worth the cost. Your tie should be darker than your shirt and should have similar colors, unless you're wearing a solid white or light colored shirt, in which case your tie can be almost any color. Note how the tie in the photo picks up the gold lines on the shirt. Current fashion dictates that your tie be patterned and not solid. The monochrome look went out in the early 2000s, but go ahead and hang onto those ties as they'll likely become fashionable again in 10-15 years. Patterns may be like the one shown here (but a little less shiny), or diagonal stripes. You should never wear a tie with images or pictures unless it's to your goofy office holiday party. The tip of your tie should just touch the top of your belt--no longer, no shorter. Your tie should be silk. Wool and polyester ties have not been in fashion for a long time, and hopefully never will be again. Unless you're going in costume as a 70s sleaze, your tie should not be very wide. Unless you're a jazz musician, your tie should not be very thin. A good rule of thumb is that your tie should be as wide as your lapel if you're wearing a jacket, and luckily for you, dear reader, almost all ties sold in stores are of the preferred standard width.

      There are a variety of knots which may be used. The most common is the four-in-hand knot, the one your father likely taught you when you were 12 and attending your first wedding. This knot is good and versatile, but other knots can be more appropriate for certain shirts and situations. In a more formal situation, a half- or full-windsor is more appropriate. The knot in the photo is a full-windsor. It leaves a wide, symmetrical triangle as opposed to the thin, slightly lopsided four-in-hand. This knot also works well for wide collars and for gentlemen of a larger frame, such as myself.

      Bow ties are another option. They should be worn with a tux, obviously, but can also be worn in any other situation which requires a tie, but with discretion. If you're very skinny or very corpulent, a bow tie will only make you look skinnier or fatter. If you choose to wear a bow tie to work, make sure you're the only one in your office or workplace who does. If you can pull of a bow tie, you can be the "bow tie guy", which, when done correctly, allows other people you don't interact with daily to remember who you are. If you can't pull off a bow tie, you will be known as "that guy with a bow tie", who you do not want to be. I'm going to buy a bow tie this week and see if I can pull it off.

      I Guarantee It… Is Crap.

      Dec 5, 2008, 8:54 pm by Paul Stiverson

      I’ve been a customer of Men’s Warehouse for a couple years now, and when I first started patronizing their chain, they tried to peddle me a non-iron shirt. Being a master ironer I declined their offer, as it was intended for a lesser gentleman. In my latest trip I bought two shirts which, due to a lack of options, were non-iron. After wearing them I discovered that despite the “No Ironing Required” advertisement the shirts were interminably wrinkled. Being as I prefer my sleeves to be sharp enough to cut a bitch, I found this to be unacceptable. I broke out the iron and starch and went to town, I quickly found that the starch left the once-white shirt slightly discolored. The discoloration will wash out I’m sure, but then I’ll be back to the problem of limp—and slightly wrinkly—shirts.

      Mark my words, I will not buy another non-iron shirt, and thus I will not be shopping at Men’s Warehouse until they start carrying real mens shirts.


      Dec 5, 2008, 8:35 pm by Lew

      Poasting from my Ubuntu powered laptop! Like it so far. It is much faster than before I accidentally deleted XP. It is a lot smarter than windows. It seems much more solid and well made, and I always considered xp to be a solid os.

        faith in austin restored

        Dec 1, 2008, 9:46 pm by Sam

        longbranch innI think it's pretty well known that I have mixed feelings on Austin. On the one hand, it's got a lot of fun things to do, but on the other, it's filled with trustafarians, hipster scum, and lots and lots of posers.

        This weekend, however, my opinion started to change. I've been going to the Longbranch Inn (on E. 11th and Lydia, for those who live around here) lately. It's a nice little dive close to my house and it's quickly becoming my regular neighborhood bar. There's only one row of tables parallel to one long wall, so when it's not dead inside, you usually have to sit next to other groups of people if you want to sit down. This Saturday night, a friend and I went, and sure enough, there were only two available seats--right next to a couple.

        We asked if we could sit down and they kindly obliged. It turns out they were on their first date and had met online. It quickly became obvious that they were not too into one another and were all too glad to have some other people to chat with to break the monotony. We had a really good time chatting with these strangers and I'm even still in touch with one of them.

        Later that night, the friend and I went to Creekside (on 6th and Red River), which has a great back deck. Standing around, sipping our Lone Stars and smoking our Camels, another couple approached us out of the blue and chatted us up. We didn't chat for long, but they were very friendly.

        I don't know if it was something in the air or if people were still riding a Thanksgiving high, but this was the first time I've seen such displays of friendliness in Austin. If things continue in this manner, I think I'll stick around a little longer.

        broken windows

        Dec 1, 2008, 12:32 pm by Lew

        For fun last night I decided to install ubuntu linux on my laptop. I used linux before getting to college when certain applications forced me back to windows. I am constantly frustrated by windows. It seems like it never improves. Computers are getting better but windows just gets more bloated. It never runs faster. It seems like there has been no improvement since windows 95, windows just gets shinier and fatter. My windows laptop refuses to shutdown or restart on its own, I always have to hold down the power button. It takes like 10 minutes to boot up. Microsoft in their generosity gives me huge updates every couple days that break competing programs. Blah blah micro$oft blah. Rachel recently got a Eee pc 901 laptop. She put ubuntu on it and it has basically been the best thing since the intertubes were invented. Last night I decided I would go the dualboot route and installed ubuntu on my laptop. And somewhere in the installation I managed to format my hard drive. It must have been during the partitioning. To top it off my bootable cd has an error so I can’t finish the linux installation. This is the second bad iso disc I have made so I decided to order an official copy of ubuntu. So I should be up and running with essentially a brand new computer later this week. Fortunately I backed up my essential documents. I am kind of happy that I get to start fresh with this computer. Though my own stupidity forced me into, and now I really have no choice but become a linux dork. I have no idea where my XP disc might be. It is just as well I think I will be happier when I comfy with linux and no longer need windows. I don’t see windows going well, I will never get vista so it is just as well that I jumped ship now. Though I still plan on getting a mac desktop soon. If operating systems were lovers I would probably have the clap.

        Winter in Texas

        Dec 1, 2008, 12:17 pm by Paul Stiverson

        In Texas once the weather gets below 55ºF for two consecutive days you know that it is indeed winter, another way to tell is to visit the Texas A&M campus and enter a building. If you start sweating due to the sweltering heat then it is officially winter. I don’t know how it is done up north, but during both1 of the seasons in Texas you will either be freezing or sweating depending on whether you are indoors or out.

        Now, I can’t speak for everybody, but I most definitely prefer the cold2—I look forward to winter during the other 10 months of the year. When it finally rolls around I will frequently leave my windows open and try to acclimate to the cold so I won’t require a heavy jacket3, I’ll usually get away with a long sleeve undershirt (of late I am quite taken with Smartwool). However, campus always messes up my rotation because the buildings (and busses) are all at least 80ºF and removing an undershirt is not a particularly graceful affair. I could wear a hoodie4, but removing a hoodie is only slightly less awkward than losing an undershirt, and what are you supposed to do with hoodie when you aren’t wearing it? Tie it around your waist? I think not.

        This wouldn’t be a big deal I only spent time in one building, but the transient nature of being a student makes the removal and replacement dance a pain in the ass. This campus needs to either get its temperature gradients under control or develop some coat-checking system.

        As I mentioned the problem is reversed in the summer, too cold indoors and too hot outdoors. Your body never gets a chance to get used to the climate and you end up being miserable indoors and out. The human body is more than capable of handling the intense Texan summer heat, but not with air conditioning messing up the process.


        1. I hear tales of Spring and Fall, but I won’t buy the patent medicine.
        2. Realize that I am referring to “Texan cold”, not crazy-ass yankee cold.
        3. Being a robust gentleman helps with this.
        4. It would also be possible for me to wear a nicer coat type thing like what Sam was looking for but let’s not kid ourselves, that won’t happen.

        Saw ’em off

        Nov 24, 2008, 6:55 pm by Paul Stiverson

        Saw em off logoI’m all for traditions, and I’m all for strong rivalries, but there should be a limit to the degree of the rivalry. I am, of course, referring to the rivalry with t.u., which has gotten a bit out of hand. It seems like Aggies are more enthusiastic about denigrating Longhorns than lauding our wonderful school. Take, for instance, the War Hymn which—as I hope my readers know—has two verses, the first of which actually talks about A&M. Of course, ask your typical Aggie and they will only know the second verse which focuses exclusively on the University of Texas.

        Take also “Saw ’em off”, it isn’t uncommon to see vehicles decked out with a Saw ’em off decal with nary a mention of A&M. The same is true with t-shirts around campus. Hell, look at the South-gate Aggieland Outfitters, they have an exterior wall painted with sawed-off horns, and Bevo standing out front.

        It’s time we stop defining ourselves by hating somebody else, and start defining ourselves on how awesome we are. However, if folks still insist on still wearing Saw ’em off gear then they should demand that they use a real apostrophe in place of the insufferable single open-quote, this abuse of our language lends credence to the claims that Aggies are dumb.
        The right way to do apostrophes

        It’s Dot Com

        Nov 20, 2008, 12:22 pm by Paul Stiverson

        One of my pet-peeves is systemic disorganization1, I prefer for there to be a specific place where every individual thing (or class of things) belongs2. This idiosyncrasy makes me both love and hate the internet—originally there were bins for each type of website: commercial sites, business sites, informative sites, educational sites, sites for organizations, &c. The practice of organizing sites by top-level domain has unfortunately fallen out of practice, and, as a result, the internet has become a mess.

        For the most part this isn’t a big deal, but in my romantic view of the internet I see sites organized by fully useful URLs. Rather than “aggielandhelpwanted.com” you could navigate to “aggieland.jobs”, and instead of “producerscooperative.com” you could use “producers.coop”. The best example of somebody using top-level domains correctly that comes to mind is aggieland menus (.info), which—oddly enough—provides information.

        I have been able to pinpoint the root of the problem: stupid people; but more pointedly: stupid web designers (or web designers who were unwilling to tell their clients no). As Artemy Lebedev illustrates, the customer rarely knows what the hell they are talking about or what they want, so it is up to the designer (in this case the web designer) to step up and say, “You don’t really want ‘coopertravelagency.com’, you want ‘cooper.travel’”. However, it is rare that the web designer has the balls to tell their customer that they are wrong (for fear of losing business), and rarer still that they have the insight to separate what the customer says they want, from what the customer needs.

        I would like to see a return to deliberate categorization of sites, and strict adherence to URL meanings; unfortunately it isn’t feasible to prevent people from abusing the internet. I propose that ICANN adopt a few new top-level domains (like .art for artists, musicians, and the like; and .gen for general shit), start enforcing restriction on new domain registration to categorize them effectively, and disallow the renewal of domains that currently don’t fit in their TLD.


        1. Anybody who has seen my room knows that localized disorganization doesn’t bother me so much.
        2. For instance, rather than keeping a jar for all coins I keep a jar for each denomination of coin.

        November 18, 1999

        Nov 17, 2008, 8:16 pm by John

        http://mikeandtim.com/wp-content/uploads/Bonfire.jSince the bonfire memorial was erected, every November 18th while I was a student at Texas A&M I came to the memorial with hundreds of other Aggies. Like everyone else I have seen the pictures from bonfire's past. I imagine the flood lights on stack, Aggies all around, people carrying logs, others on the stack strapping logs together, everyone talking about who's dorm is best, yelling, laughter, no one wanting to be anywhere else. Aggies being Aggies.

        Then, at 2:42AM on November 18th, 1999 everything changed.

        It doesn't matter what your thoughts about bonfire are; whether or not you think that bonfire should be back on campus or not is irrelevant on this day. It is a day to remember 12 fallen members of the Aggie family.

        I have never seen Bonfire on campus. Every year I wish I could, just to be a part of something like the picture above.

        Never forget

        Redistribution of Wealth

        Nov 5, 2008, 9:19 am by Paul Stiverson

        I would like to start by noting the trouncing that McCain received last night. Seriously, that was a clean ass-whipping, Obama straight up earned double the amount of electoral votes and cleaned house on the popular vote as well.

        Next, I would like to spend some time on a talking point that is commonly raised against liberal politians. People have long claimed that Democrats push for a redistribution of wealth, a claim which is false. The truth is that any taxation could be considered a redistribution of wealth: You are taking money from people, and giving it back to people by building roads, schools, developing infrastructure, and funding science. Sadly it is often the case that the people paying the bill aren’t always directly seeing the benefit, but typically the inequity of the payment reflects the inequity of benefit—it is rare to see rich homes surrounded by shoddy streets, or rich kids attending underfunded schools. Even our beloved Ronald Reagan redistributed wealth (so did “Read My Lips” George Bush Sr.).

        The desired imagery of the redistribution of wealth rhetoric is the strict communist definition: Take all the wealth from the wealthy and redistribute it evenly, putting everybody on equal (financial) footing. The closest thing we (as Americans) have to this is our services to the poor (Welfare and Medicaid), and referring to those as redistribution of wealth is laughable. I dare you to name for me one case, just one, of a wealthy person1 losing their riches (or status… hell, use any metric you want), or of a poor person becoming wealthy due to of Welfare. The fact of the matter is that even our most socialistic policies do little to impact the wealth of the wealthy. They do, however, have an effect on the middle class which is why I think it fair to push some of the burden to the truly wealthy and leave a bigger portion of the middle class’ earnings to the middle class (yes, even the upper middle class). In a country where the richest 10% holds 71% of the wealth I think they can afford the hit.2


        1. By “Wealthy” I’m referring to people with a liquid worth in the millions.
        2. That statistic comes from Wikipedia

        lew's electoral prediction

        Nov 4, 2008, 1:44 pm by Lew

        real prediction: obama wins all the states plus frMy guess is Obama wins with 344 electoral votes. I think of the toss-up states Obama gets are Virginia and Missouri. Which I predict is the beginning of blue dripping down into southern states if obama is a decent president.

        What is your guess/prediction?

        flu vaccine

        Nov 4, 2008, 12:25 pm by Lew

        get vaccinatedI the flu vaccine today. If you don't get vaccinated you are a jerk. If you aren't part of the solution you are a vector. Oh and go vote while you are out.

        Fashion Exaptations

        Nov 2, 2008, 12:28 pm by Sam

        do ragI've been thinking a lot about fashion statements. Working in a high school, I see lots of interesting fashion choices made by my students. In the adult world, one typically aspires to dress in such a fashion that shows they are smart, neat, clean and financially well to do. In the teen world, one typically aspires to dress in such a fashion that shows either their uniqueness and individuality or, conversely, affiliation with a certain group, although one may argue that the kids who dress "differently" are actually still adhering to strict guidelines set forth by their clique.

        Working with lower-income kids, I've noticed that many things they wear are declarations of pride in one's poverty. These things originally had a functional use for older working members of certain groups and are worn in emulation of their older peers by teenagers. This is similar to the idea of exaptation in evolutionary biology in which some physical structure or biochemical process of a living organism serves a different function than for which it originally evolved (think whale's flipper). Here is a list of things I've noticed, none of which are particularly new, but still interesting:

        · Sagging Pants - In prison, your belt is taken away and unless your pants are close fitting, they will sag. This look was taken up by lower income kids and now adults, I suppose, to show they they've been to prison, but is now quite ubiquitous.
        · Dickies - These are worn by cholo boys and sometimes chola girls. Dickies are functional if you're a mechanic or something and need tough pants that are cheap enough to not worry about becoming stained with grease and oil.
        · Janitoresque Shirts and Pants - Similar in function to cholo boys' Dickies, I've seen these worn by chola girls at my school. Their moms and aunts and grandmas typically work as custodians and the girls emulate this look.
        · Do Rags - These are worn by black boys. When a wavy look was fashionable with black men, these would be worn in bed at night after the application of pomade to achieve said look. For some reason, younger black boys (and now men) wear them during the day as a fashion statement.
        · Hair Nets - Similar in function to the do rag, these are worn by cholo boys to hold down their slicked back hair. These would have been worn at home while getting ready to go out, but they've since made their way into every day wear. I find this to be one of the stupidest looking fashion statements my students make.
        · Wranglers and Cowboy Boots - These are worn by both redneck white kids and some Mexican boys. Obviously these serve a function when working on a ranch, but have no real function otherwise. I find this to be the best-looking fashion statement made by my students.
        · ID Cards on Lanyard - This one is pretty ridiculous. I noticed this one when I was in high school a lot too. Kids in inner city ghetto schools usually have to wear their student IDs on a lanyard in plain view to show that they are indeed a student at the school. Those kids try to hide them or forget them at home. At the high school I attended and now at the school in which I work, ID cards are worn by black and hispanic kids when they're not required at all. I suppose they've seen cousins or friends from much poorer schools wearing their IDs and want to emulate the look. At my school, their only real use is as a debit card in the cafeteria.

        I think the only thing I wear that isn't a product of exapted function is cowboy boots, which I only wear once every week or two. Everything else pretty much serves its function as I wear it. What other fashion exaptations can you think of?

        Sweeney Todd

        Oct 30, 2008, 12:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

        My FriendsLast night I had the great pleasure of watching a stage production of Sweeney Todd. My dance partner, Natalie, was kind enough to join me for what was an amazing performance—as well as an amazing interpretation of the musical. The entire cast was on stage for the whole show, and on top of singing and arranging the stage props, they were playing. All the actors were quite competent on at least one of the many instruments found on stage: Violin, Cello, Contrabass, Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Baritone, Accordion, Piano, and a battery of percussion instruments (including a well used Triangle).

        The company used a black wooden coffin as their primary prop, arranging it in every imaginable way to set scenes throughout the show. Chairs, and a ladder were used to allow the actors to elevate themselves over the stage as necessary. As cast members were killed off, they (being a vital part of the musical ensemble) couldn’t leave the stage, instead they donned bloodstained barber shirts and haunted the stage. The cast also made clever use of flashlights to indicate important movements, like that of the key to Johanna’s room moving from Judge Terpin to Anthony. There were some technical blunders in the show, a few microphone wires out of place (and Sweeney’s guitar mic fell off), but ultimately a grand performance.

        The one shortcoming—for me at least—was the actor’s dancing. Briefly, during one of the numbers, Sweeney and Ms. Lovett waltz on stage, granted that the song was rather quick, and the footwear was less than desirable for the conditions; the waltzing was abysmal. I was entirely drawn into Johanna’s performance, when she was “offstage” (not at the forefront of a scene) she would affix her eyes to a point in the audience and wail on her cello, it was really creepy. Toby’s performance was also quite good, he was very Gollum-like in the way he would slink around the stage and reach out to the other characters.

        If you think you are having déjà vu, relax, I have made a post about Sweeney Todd before (bitching about Johnny Depp’s ignorance of barbering procedure).

        texas news

        Oct 30, 2008, 9:53 am by Lew

        big john!Today I want to share a few things i found interesting on the internet. Dear my fellow texans, wtf? Why do 23% of Texans think Obama is a secret muslim? 5-10% of the rest of the country thinks that, but nearly 1 in 4 texas think that. I guess those are the people who think John Cornyn is a cowboy.

        It some good news the Bonfire lawsuits are finally settled. It seems we are on a path to returning Bonfire to campus. I have mixed feeling about it. If it comes back to campus I worry there won't be any real student involvement in building it. As much as I would love to see it return to campus from its current exile I just don't know how it can be done well and meet liability issues the university will need to deal with. what do you think ags?


        Oct 25, 2008, 2:36 pm by Sam

        Teenage Mutant Ninja PoodleWhile looking at this picture, I got to thinking about Sarah Palin. Look at this poor dog. Forced to look like a ninja turtle. Not just any ninja turtle, but Leonardo, the de facto leader of the group. This poor poodle doesn't look too happy about that. I doubt he feels equipped or ready to handle a leadership position, but, well, here he is, like it or not. There's a pit bull lipstick joke here somewhere.

        This morning I saw this video of Mrs. Palin talking about how silly it is for scientists to get funding to study something as silly as "fruit fly research in Paris, France," all the while doing that folksy little headcocking business. Way to play to the uneducated hicks who make up the vast majority of your voting base, ma'am. I also saw a clip somewhere of John McCain saying he wanted to end funding silly projects like "black bear DEE ENN AY" (with strategic pauses between DEE, ENN and AY to highlight the notion that it's all just made up hoo-ha).

        It really grinds my fucking gears when people think any research that isn't directly related to CANCER or something is stupid and a huge waste of money and effort. As if all scientists (especially biologists) are just a bunch of crazy kooks in lab coats, drunk on lab-grade ethanol, laughing in a menacing manner and studying bear DEE ENN AY. Give me a cotton pickin' break.

        Vote Democrat, if only for the reason that the Republicans want to squash funding for research they don't understand.

        Also, happy birthday, Paul.

        Burger Tex

        Oct 24, 2008, 12:42 pm by John

        http://www.lonestarcorvairs.com/gallery/main.php?gi'm one of those people that loves to eat at local places. when ever i visit a new place i refuse to eat at fast food joints unless absolutely necessary. so one day, my buddy asked me if i wanted to go to a local burger joint and the obvious answer was yes.

        my buddy and i roll up to "burger tex" and i looked at the parking lot and found that 2 of every 3 vehicles in the parking lot are trucks. this place must be good. as we walked inside i immediately noticed something about this place was different. all the workers are asian.

        for the record i have no problem with asian people (i call them asian because i don't want to insult them by trying to guess their country of origin) and since i work for a japanese company i work with other races all the time. that being said, i found this very unusual for a texas burger joint.

        all fears about these guys being able to make a good burger were doused when i saw that, not only did they cook their burgers fresh from real ground beef, but that they bake their own buns fresh each day! once i got my burger i made my way over to the buffet of toppings and realized this place also had melted cheese...this is going to be delicious.

        from the first bite to the last, this had to be one of the best burgers i'd had anywhere! so if you're ever in the northwest houston area and are looking for one of the best burgers you'll ever have, look up "burger tex," it's worth it

        I'm the people I talk about.

        Oct 21, 2008, 5:56 pm by Trey

        It's a medium!

        It is now approximately 6:00pm. The shown picture is the shirt I have been wearing all day (compliments of my mother, thank you). There is however something odd/out of place on the damn thing. Can you find it? Yes, I'm sure as you quite promptly figured out, I had removed about 4 stickers from the shirt, and didn't think to examine the back of the shirt before donning it. there it is, a circular white tag with the letter m, meaning medium no doubt. i walked around with this both on and off campus in many different public places without a clue. if i see someone with a tag on their shirt, someone with something on themselves, hell even someone with a booger hanging out i let them know, because that's what i would hope someone would do to me. i'm not really embarrassed by the fact i'm an idiot, but rather annoyed that no-one had the decency to stifle their giggles and let me know i was walking around like a damned fool.

        Rent like an idiot

        Oct 14, 2008, 11:04 am by Paul Stiverson

        Your invited…I just received an email from the fine folks at “The Lofts at Wolf Pen Creek”. For those who are unaware it is the newest upscale apartment complex in town—which will be opening in a couple days. They, like “The Woodlands” before them, are trying to sell a luxury housing experience to the college crowd (along with a hefty price tag). For the record, I am patently opposed to such monstrosities (for students), when you come to college you should get the college experience of living in the dorms, or living in a beat up apartment that costs less per month than the electricity bill. It’s part of the charm of college, and it makes for better stories than “I lived at ‘The Golden Bidet’ where my rent costed more than what you make in a month”.

        I digress, the point of this post is to point out that despite all the money they spent building the complex (with adjoining parking garage, and mini-mall), they apparently had too little left over to hire somebody with half a brain to run their marketing campaign. Look toward the bottom of the attached image: “Your invited…”. My invited what? My invited killed a man? Oh, now I see, they meant “You’re invited…”.

        Some of you know that one of my big pet-peeves is the misuse of primes (') in place of apostrophes (’), and since this is a common error I was sure that I would be able to find it somewhere in the email. However, the one place they found use of such a mark they used the appropriate symbol, but the dark cloud that goes with this silver lining is that they shouldn’t have been using an apostrophe in the first place. The screenshot below shows the offending line. Note to the designer, you don’t put an apostrophe every time a word end’s with an es’s, and when you are making a word plural it doesn’t get an apostrophe. The only time you add an apostrophe is when you are making a contraction, or when a word is possessive.

        The point is moot though, because all of the spoiled-silver-spoon-up-their-ass brats who can afford to live in such a place are too ignorant to notice the errors, or too indifferent to cast their consumer vote for a company that doesn’t abuse our language and our minds. Another victory for consumerism.

        [Note: I think I am going to start a series of posts that will fit the form “<blank> like an idiot”, I like them.]
        Flat screen TV’s

        i'm camexrealian

        Oct 13, 2008, 4:48 pm by Lew

        if only. . .What countries can one move to and reasonably become a citizen? i have heard people say you can become canadian fairly easily. you only need to buy a little land, visit that land once-a year-for four year, then viola you can be a citizen. so that's not so hard. but really who wants to move to canada? i am sure it is nice for a bit, but I imagine anyone saying "i'm from canada!" with any pride. i realized i could become israeli without too much trouble thanks to israel's "law of return" which let's you claim jewness and become israeli if you have so much as seen an episode of seinfeld. i have heard israel is like california and hawai'i rolled into one (with a dash of suicide bombings). but really i can't imagine being israeli being any more fun than canadian. i can't think of any other countries that let you get citizenship without a lifetime of difficulty. Can I become mexican? if you sneak into mexico do they care? if you move to another country do you still have to pay taxes in the usa? i originally thought about this as a joke in the case of a palin presidency. now i am just thinking it would be cool to get as many citizenships as you can. it makes you that much more free. and that is more fun. it would be okay to say i am mexican.

        Downtown Bryan

        Oct 13, 2008, 10:07 am by John

        This past weekend I had the opportunity, thanks to Mr. Stiverson, to visit 2 establishments in Downtown Bryan. This was my 3rd trip to the heart of Bryan and I am disappointed that I didn't go more often. Previously, when I had thought about Bryan, I thought of a slightly run down area with low income families and rickety houses from the 70's. After living in Bryan for 3 years my opinion hadn't changed. I started to see the light with my first trips to downtown. I had heard good things about Caffe Capri and decided to take my girl friend for dinner. While we were walking around downtown waiting for a table to clear I noticed the String and Horn Shoppe. Since I dabble in the fiddle I grabbed a good friend who plays the banjo and bought a few music books.

        It was probably another year before I made my way back this past weekend. I asked Mr. Stiverson if he would like to get some breakfast before we headed out for the football game and he said he had just the spot. So we headed to Los Nortenos.

        I had heard great things about this place but had never visited. Maybe because of my preconcieved ideas that Downtown Bryan was run down or that it was "too far." Maybe I thought that it was all down hill since Robert Keen sang about. I'm not sure, but I wish I had visited sooner. I was instructed that "1 breakfast taco would be plenty," but I was skeptical. When the waitress brought out my plate, my jaw dropped. I was staring at a breakfast taco like none other. I finished, maybe, 2/3 of it and I enjoyed every bite. The best part came at the check-out counter. $5.19! What a deal.

        After the Aggie football team ran out of time against Kansas State we decided it was time for a pick-me-up. "To the Corner of Time!" Once again, this was an establishment I had heard of but had never visited. I heard that they had real soda jerks and made Dublin Dr. Pepper starting with just the syrup. This sounded ideal after a long hot football game. So we headed up there where I met my sister, her boyfriend, and my dance partner. It was amazing! The coldest, tastiest, freshest Dr. Pepper I had ever had. Delicous! And with a warm brownie I was in heaven. Good food, good drink, and good friends. Could it get any better!?

        I'd like to conclude by asking you to make sure to get over to Downtown Bryan just to walk around. Step into the small shops and look around. You never know what you might find or who you might meet. It makes me wish more places were like this. friendly people, smiles, and howdys. the way texas should be.

        third place is the third winner

        Oct 8, 2008, 9:55 am by Lew

        Let's get dirtyBask in the glory of my bronze medal winning 'stache!

        edit: are you thoroughly basking in the glory?!

        On Jackets

        Oct 7, 2008, 11:54 pm by Sam

        eskimoIt's a bone-chilling 66ºF currently in Austin, Texas. While it'll be a good while before I need to wear anything resembling a jacket, I got to thinking about jackets. Now that I'm an "adult" and have a "job" that requires me to dress slightly nicer than jeans and tshirt, I should probably have an adult jacket, but not sure what to get. The following is a timeline of notable jackets I have owned.

        7th grade (1996-1997): Big Starter jackets were all the rage. I had a Dallas Stars jacket.
        8th grade (1997-1998): I had a Longhorns Starter jacket. Not sure what I was thinking there.
        9th grade (1998-1999): For Christmas I got an Adidas windbreaker that I was pretty proud of.
        10th-12th grades and early college(1999-2004): I guess I mostly wore hoodie sweatshirts.
        Late college (2004-2005): I got into vintage brown leather jackets in a big way, thanks to Fight Club. I got my first one in a thrift store in New Orleans. I found another in a thrift store somewhere else. Maybe the Left Handed Monkey. I also got into corduroy jackets. I had a brown corduroy number that hinted at being western. I also had a gray corduroy jacket with brown suede elbow patches that I called my professor jacket, but the back of it had some stains, so I only wore it to dark places. It looked especially quaint during the time I broke several toes and walked with a cane for a few weeks.
        Grad school (2006-2008): I wore a casual navy blue zip-up American Eagle jacket that I got with a gift card someone gave me. An ok jacket, but a little preppy. Also the sleeve cuffs stretched out and became loose and floppy if I pushed my sleeves up for more than 5 minutes, which I did often. This jacket required lots of washing to reshrink the cuffs. I also started wearing flannel shirts in college on days that weren't freezing, but required something long-sleeve.
        Adulthood (2008-????): Not sure what to get. I'd like something that says I'm an adult, well put together, but also young and fashionable and still with the indie crowd. Suggestions?

        What are some of your notable jackets?

        I don't normally tackle the divine, but here I go anyway

        Oct 7, 2008, 11:12 pm by Lew

        you get two point if know why i used this graphicSomething just made me a little sad. Intelligent Design is making me a little sad. Not the idea itself but the existence of it. Intelligent Design is another name for creationism. If you believe in creationism that is your faith. Calling it intelligent design is trying to use scientific logic to justify your faith. If you have faith I think it is sad to feel you need science to justify it. That to me is what it sad. To me that is a lack of faith.

        John Steinbeck is what got me thinking about this. In a few paragraphs in “Log from the Sea of Cortez” he discusses how people react to ideas that they hate. He argues that the best reaction to a new idea is to study it for complete comprehension and only then giving your views of the strengths and faults of the ideas. When someone hates an idea, they do not try to understand, they try to destroy it. This made me think about the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. 5 minutes ago I would have said I hate the idea of intelligent design. But then I tried to understand why intelligent design is out there in the first place. I do not think anyone actually loves the idea in and of itself. It is obviously a way to try to work creationism into the domain of science. It is a reaction by people of faith to the theory of evolution. If you are a person of faith you shouldn’t be scared of biological theories. If you think god is almighty and unfathomable why be scared of science? Yet enough people of faith are scared that they make a public issue out of scientific fact. They realized they cannot fight evidence based logic with faith based beliefs. So they have dressed up genesis with science. The testaments don’t command you to accrue the evidence necessary to prove the divine. The bible asks for faith. If you have faith, then have faith.

        Vote like an idiot

        Oct 7, 2008, 1:48 pm by Paul Stiverson

        Vote like a girlI’ve been seeing shirts around town, purporting that it is a good thing to vote for McCain-Palin because one of them shares your gender. What I want to know is where were the pro-Hillary “Vote like a girl” shirts? When there was a woman running who actually supported women’s rights, where were you Aggieland Outfitters?

        Before I take such an anti-Palin stance let’s look at what she brings to the table. It is pretty clear that she is a woman, former Miss Alaska actually, she is a Washington outsider, and apparently a Maverick (There can’t be two Mavericks, one of them has to be Goose). She is the recent mother of a special needs child1, coincidentally an ardent pro-lifer, and a soon-to-be grandmother (another win for abstinence-only education). Part of her charm is that she is something of an every(wo)man, lauding that she is a “Hockey Mom” and sympathizing with the “Six-pack Joes” out there with their American Light Lagers. I guess John McCain realized that he was losing the George W. Bush crowd who don’t want to vote for somebody smarter than they are, so he brought on a buffoon to mis-pronounce words and be ignorant to current events and make GOP voters feel a little better about being ’Mericans—not to mention she has tits which have been distracting the key demographic since kindergarten.

        Not to belabor her ignorance, but when asked by Katie Couric what periodicals she reads to keep her up to date with the world, she couldn’t name a single one; instead she offered “I read all of them”, I guess she couldn’t remember the name “Guns and Ammo”, or “Auto Trader”. I have absolutely no problem with people not staying current with national politics, but I do have a problem with somebody with no handle on the world around them being the vice-president. If you want to vote for Palin because she is female, then go ahead: Vote like a girl.


        1. It should be noted that she drastically cut the special needs education budget in Alaska before her latest child was born.

        it is something

        Oct 6, 2008, 3:49 pm by Lew

        ain't it?!Last night fellow rambler sam made an astute statement. once you are doing this adulthood thing many of us have recently engaged in that "there is always something." it feels like you always have a bunch of tasks that for legal/financial/employment/all-of-the-above reasons needs your immediate attention (and money). It is always something. You plan out your near future and figure out what needs your attention, thinking once that is done you will be able to relax a little. but as soon as you are done something else just as demanding pops up. i have certainly found this to be true. i started writing this with intentions on bitching, but i won't. i think while writing this i came to terms with the fact that "it is always something." that is just part of the background noise of adulthood. now that i have accepted that fact i think i can deal with it better. maybe i can relax even when there is "something." if i don't well then i guess i can never relax.

        tangent! do y'all smell things in your dreams? i rarely do but now and then i remember smelling things in my dreams. it surpises me a little that i dont more often because smelling is so intimately tied to memory. i could smell my car (the thing i was going to bitch about) in my dream last night. it was cool. i usually see and hear things in my dreams. rarely smell. never taste or feel (i guess that is why i have never had a wet dream). so tally please. how often do you smell things in your dreams?

        Gee, thanks, Sarah!

        Oct 2, 2008, 10:46 pm by Sam

        Watching the VP debate tonight was fun and frustrating. The part that irked me the most, and I knew it would, was the mere mention of education reform. Wow, Sarah, you think education is good and things should be done to make it better? Great! Ok, what the hell are you going to do?

        I tutor about a hundred 9th and 10th graders in math (algebra I, II and geometry) and science (biology and chemistry). My list of resources include three biology text books and 3 algebra I books. That's it. My students don't even have books to take home, so they rarely have homework. For a while I showed them cool videos on YouTube of how proteins actively transport molecules across cell membranes and what the inside of a cell looks like, but someone in the technology department found out I was using YouTube and blocked my computer from accessing it. God forbid there be any relevant, useful, and easy to find videos there. Advice I was given from other teachers and admins: just do your best.

        No child left behind was the most retarded thing ever. This may sound shocking, but some students really should be left behind. I know that sounds terrible, but some of my sophomores are so defiant, nasty, snotty and mean that I've just decided to quit helping them. Sorry. In a class of 25 students, I'd rather help the 5 or 6 who genuinely want help than spend all of my time with those who just refuse help.

        I did make one breakthrough today. I felt like Jaime Escalante. I have one student who is pretty defiant, but shows a lot of potential. He usually ignored me, so I started ignoring him. Until today when it came up that he's from Alexandria, LA, where my mom is from. When I told him that, he sat his ass down next to me and asked for help with chemistry. Booyah. Stand and Deliver.

        Actors & Politics

        Oct 2, 2008, 8:39 pm by John

        So Take i on this subject ended with a not very well thought out ramble complaining about people giving their opinion when that is what they are paid to do. so i didn't really have a reason to complain in the first place and decided to remove my post. after more thought i decided to give this another shot.

        take ii:

        the other day i was watching the morning news and they talked about how the ladies on the view got into a big to do about political matters. i then decided that i didn't like that they were giving their opinions in the first place, but mr. stiverson pointed out that they are paid to do just that. so why are tv hosts asked to give their opinions in the first place? some how i see a disconnect between their daily lives and mine. for that matter, i'm sure that their lives are drastically different than 95% of the people who watch these shows and maybe are falsely leading people to a certain candidate.

        so people are paid to give their opinion...i don't like it but i can't do anything to stop it. i think what really turns my stomach, and why i don't like this so much, is that these people might actually effect how someone else votes and who wins an election. does anybody think that an average american would watch one of these shows and actually vote because of who someone like a barbara walters is going to vote for? (comments please, i'd like to know what you think) i'm of the opinion that a person should base their vote on the debates or other speeches from the candidates. this is the only time you get to see how a candidate, from their own mouth, feels about a subject (without the media's "filter"). maybe i'm more of a free thinker than i thought...


        Sep 29, 2008, 3:28 pm by Paul Stiverson

        For some time now I’ve entertained the notion of getting my doctorate and going to teach somewhere, lately though—and especially considering my poor financial situation—I’ve become less enthusiastic about it. If you don’t mind I’m going to do some analysis of my situation (if you do mind then skip this post, I’m doing it anyway).

        Getting a Ph.D. means about 4 more years of education, this in-and-of-itself is a good thing. I like school, and I’ve never had too tough a time with it. Staying in school lets me stay in College Station (or allows me to move just as easily), which is nice because I really like it here. Going for the gusto also means four more years of research, this is the rub, I don’t derive a great deal of pleasure from research—it could be that I haven’t found an engaging subject or any host of other issues, but the fact stands that I don’t get as much out of it as I do from other things, namely teaching. The whole reason that I initially wanted a Ph.D. was that it would allow me to teach at a major university, without the teaching aspect I never would have wanted a doctorate. The other major drawback to getting a doctorate is funding, right now funding is pretty sparse unless you are doing work for an oil company or in defense applications. Since I have ethical problems with either of those routes I am left grasping at the leavings of NSF grants, being funded by my prof, or being a TA. Needless to say none of those are very lucrative.

        Now, one of the things that I’ve been told about being a grad student is that you shouldn’t be concerned with the amount of money you are bringing in, as long as you can pay the rent you are doing fine. This is fine, it is part of the college experience, and I’ve done fine with it so far, but I do need to consider my financial future. At present I have $0 in savings, that is not an exaggeration. I’m not saying that I have debt offsetting my savings, I’m saying that I have no savings (and debt too). On top of that I have no holdings, I’m a renter so I haven’t any equity. I am literally worthless. My 25th birthday is rapidly approaching and at that time I have to take control of my own insurance (both health, and car), and I’m afraid I don’t have the means to afford to live anymore. I don’t see why it is necessarily impossible to start “Life” (buying a house, starting a family, etc.) while still in school, but it is practically impossible to think about making a major purchase when you aren’t sure where your (meager) paycheck will be coming from in the next 6 months.

        I’ve been thinking about solutions to this problem, and I think I’ve got a workable plan. This will let me have financial solvency and it will let me teach (which I am wildly enthusiastic about), and eliminate the bullshit about school that I could do without. I’m going to be a lecturer. No research, still in academia (sorta). Optimally I would lecture here at A&M (so I don’t have to leave town), but my department doesn’t have any lecturers. I’m going to build up a case for myself and create an opening for myself in the system. Otherwise I’ll look at smaller schools in the area (SHSU and Blinn). Once I have some funds in the bank I can reasonably look at chasing my dreams (Stiverson Press here I come).

        Open Letter to the Yell Leaders

        Sep 28, 2008, 10:08 am by Paul Stiverson

        This past weekend I attended the A&M–Army game, and like so many before I was disappointed at the Yell Leaders. I’m not sure why I didn’t write this letter earlier, but it probably had to do with the fact that I used to sit on second deck, so I attributed many of the problems to the crowd rather than the Yell Leaders, however after three games [back] on first deck I’ve realized that it is indeed a problem with you, the Yell Leaders. The problem is the pass back.

        In order for a yell to be properly executed, all in the crowd who plan on yelling need to know what yell is to be performed; otherwise there will be a weak start and a gradual crescendo leading up to the wildcat as people catch on. As yell leaders it is up to you to decide when to perform a yell, and thus when to signal the beginning of a yell. What I am asking (the ultimate point of this letter) is for you to decide earlier, and give more than a three second pass back. Now, I was out of eyeshot of the head yell leader—more on this in a moment—so I couldn’t tell if he was issuing a pass back for a longer period, but the Yell Leaders I could see (and did watch for a considerable amount of time, rather than the nightmarish defensive performance) barely gave the pass back for long enough for the front row to see. If the problem is in communication (amongst yourselves) then look into a new means of communication.

        A large part of the reason I couldn’t see the Head Yell Leader was that you were all hugging the first deck. There were times that you were invisible even during the yell, I had to get by on crowd cues to know when the yell started. If you cannot see the middle and last seats of each of the decks then they cannot see you, stand a bit further back.

        Though my undergraduate and graduate career (standing both in Corps Block and out) here at Texas A&M I’ve seen seven sets of Yell Leaders come and go, and they have gotten progressively worse; both in quality and cockiness. Please, make the eighth show improvement. It is important to note that you are already on a better track than many of your predecessors because you haven’t insisted on introducing and performing any new yells, so please fix these problems and make us glad we elected you.

        The Prelude

        Sep 22, 2008, 9:56 am by Trey

        Well this is going to be anything but a short series of posts and for those that don't care what I have to say, well suck it up and read it anyway, my life is interesting.
        This weekend was by far the best weekend of my entire life. I am actually composing this post on my iPhone riding with my father back from three rivers down here in south Texas. I think I'm going to post this in a book type form with chapters for better organization, as I have much to say, so here it goes. And yes I have posted them backwards for ease of reading on the website. Sorry for those with rss feeds.

          Chapter 1: WTF Wednesday

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:56 am by Trey

          WTF Wednesday batt advertToday is Wednesday September 17th. My emotions are basically riding the batman roller coaster and have been all week. As of now however they are in the apex of the tightest and most intense length of track. Tomorrow is Thursday, the day before the day I have been waiting for my entire life, no exaggeration. Good bull. Tomorrow is Thursday, the night I have dedicated to drinking and 'shooting the shit' with some of my close friends. Good bull. Tomorrow is Thursday, and I have a test in one of my online classes (bad idea btw) around 11:00am. Bad bull. But it is Wednesday, WTF Wednesday to be exact (so says the texas hall of fame), and I am waiting for jenny to come and pick me up to go for a night of drinking, dancing, and pool at our beloved honky tonk.
          The night was a different kind of fun than I am used to while attending any kind of event at the hall; it was incredibly relaxing. They did however, both fortunately and unfortunately, kick us out around midnight because we accounted for 2 of the 7 people in the entire place.

          Chapter 2: I'll Just Wing It

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:55 am by Trey

          Well it's Thursday September 18th and I just got out of my poultry nutrition test (the online class). I think I did pretty decent considering my level of preparedness. Shooting for a low B.
          Oh shit it's Thursday... I have an organic chemistry test tomorrow. I decided to just wing it. I'll post my grade at a later date and we shall see how that went. I really couldn't bring myself to care about it. Even remotely. I wonder if something else was on my mind. Hmm...
          It's now 7pm and I have a chem review starting in 30 minutes. Where am I? I hope you guessed the hall. I had a blast as always, and am looking forward to tomorrow with a stupidly high level of excitement. Jenny and I are going to camp out tonight in front of g. rolly to get group 1 ring tickets.

          Chapter 3: My July 20, 1969

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:55 am by Trey

          Me and my dadIt is 8am on Friday September 19th and my professor just told me I looked like death itself. It was colder than balls last night and I have now been awake for 25 hours. I finished my test in approximately 30 minutes and feel decently confident I made a low B or high C. I'm on the way home with 1 thing on my mind... 3:00pm. I attempted to lie down and sleep to pass the time and to catch up on my missed rest, but due to the coffee I basically chugged just an hour before made that attempt very futile. Great...now I have to sit and do nothing for the next 6 hours. Gqdoehqjrohehwhjdaf.
          5.5 hours and a gallon of released endorphins later I step in my truck to head up to campus. My father, 12th man foundation member and class of '82 '84 '86, has come into town to watch me get my very own aggie ring. My girlfriend heather also has skipped her class so she could be with me on the (so far) proudest day of my life. Thank you babe.
          It is now 2:50 and I have met up with jenny and alex. The yells are fixing to start and I am damn glad I wore sunglasses. And no not because it was bright. It took me by surprise that they did not pass back the reload yell, but I very shortly didn't give a rat’s ass. The yells concluded and we moved into G. rolly. The place was incredibly organized and I waited no longer than 5 minutes after entering the building.
          Is this really happening? I walk up to the table and reach into my pocket to get my ID. I try to hand it to the ring attendant, note the word 'try.' I have suddenly contracted a temporary and extreme case of palsy. This shit was bad guys, I could have aerated lake Bryan with a single hand. I finally got my adrenaline levels back to a level I could control, and received my ring. Oh shit! I donned it and my knees just about gave out on me. I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, and hell I couldn't even breathe. I owe heather and jenny the courtesy of reminding me to do that; I didn't think unintentionally not breathing was even possible.
          The day finished out with me constantly looking at it and it is now time to continue the rest of my book.

          Chapter 4: White Wing Heaven

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:55 am by Trey

          My ring with the blood of poor innocent birds on iIt's now approximately 7:00am on Saturday September 20th, and I am sitting in the middle of a field holding a shotgun with my uncles. We are waiting for the dove to start flying.
          We got an incredibly good lease this year. There was approximately 2500 acres of land we were hunting that was full of goat weed with a few centralized and easily accessible ponds. (this is where we were, let's not get stupid and think we actually walked around this place).
          After the sun finished rising, the dove started flying, and let me tell you they were big, they were fast, and they were numerous. We slaughtered them, both in the morning and in the evening.
          On that note, any time you slaughter something there is going to be blood, fact of life. My aggie ring got a pretty damn good christening I think. Whoop.

          Chapter 5: The Rattlesnake

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:55 am by Trey

          It is a good thing rattles give you a little warniIt's around 6:00pm now, still Friday September 20th, and I had 2 movements at this particular moment. A vocal movement of many loud profanities and a finger movement that happened to be resting on the trigger of my shotgun. Talk about stuff that gives you the heebie-jeebies. I had been crashing and rummaging around in the damn bushes all morning and all afternoon not paying near as much attention as I should have been apparently, and all that time this 6 foot rattle snake was creeping around!? Oh hell no... All I have to say is thank you evolution for slappin' rattlers on those mean sons-a-bitches. It does appear though that between the battle of big sharp pointy teeth and a holy 12-gauge shotgun, the shotgun is the suits trump. The snake had (and I repeat had) 16 rattlers on it, one for each time it sheds. btw, rattlesnakes shed once a year... Wow.

          The catch

          Chapter 6: Sticks and Stones

          Sep 22, 2008, 9:55 am by Trey

          Sticks and stones have never broken my bones, but shit fire gun butts sure can. This is mainly my dads’ fault however, maybe if he would replace his 90-year-old gun case that doesn't zip up the back anymore my little toe wouldn't have the blues. His truck is fairly tall, I'd say it stands probably 5 foot to the top of the bed, so as I was lifting his gun out, I lifted it probably about 7 foot into the air as I had to clear various other items that were sharing bed space; at this point his gun then slides out of the case and basically plummets to the earth butt down and crashes into not my foot, but just my damn little toe. It hurt and I was cussing.
          My shoulder is really f'ing sore from the butt as well, but that's just an unfortunate byproduct of a really kick ass weekend.
          The End.

          Number 48, your order is *OUCH*

          Sep 18, 2008, 11:06 am by Paul Stiverson

          look at dat fukken order numberEvery time I go to Jason’s Deli—or any other establishment that gives out numbers on big sticks—I feel like thwacking the crap out of somebody with my order number stick.

          The only way Jason’s could give us a better weapon (without ruining all functionality as an order number indicator) would be to make the red part razor sharp. I propose that we all get together at Jason’s Deli and take hostages with our numbers.

          This has always bugged me

          Sep 17, 2008, 4:03 pm by Paul Stiverson

          Maybe it’s just me, but the phrase “Texas A&M Aggie”, has always bugged the crap outta me. It’s just “Texas Aggies”, folks.

          Thanks and Gig Them.

          Hurricane Ike: Part II - The Party

          Sep 16, 2008, 8:21 am by John

          i left off with preparations for ike made. 5 of us were at my friend's apartment ready for this storm to come. by late evening we had seen what was going on in houston and on the coast. around 6am the worst of it hit bcs. i was disappointed. i had expected much better. i went outside anyway just to see what the wind was like and i wasn't able to keep my eyes open when looking into the wind, but that was about all.

          saturday was full of movie and dvd watching. of course this was topped off by eating a large amount of baked good, prepared by our wonderful host, as well as chips and dips and large amounts of dr. pepper. all in all i had a good time hanging out with my friends, but was not very impressed with ike. saturday evening my girl friend and i went to her place for a nice warm shower and a real bed.

          sunday morning i planned to head back to houston, for i was a little worried about damage to my roommates house. since he was in indianapolis all weekend i felt that it would be a good idea to get down there to see if there was any damage. i just hoped that the gas, water, and power were on

          to be continued...

            Hurricane Etiquette

            Sep 14, 2008, 10:10 am by Paul Stiverson

            Let me give you a bit of background. In the “Pre-Katrina” world there was relatively little fanfare for hurricanes, sure people by the coast had their little tracker maps and the Weather Channel was consulted regularly to get the latest coordinates. There would be a Weather Channel correspondent struggling to stand up in a 50mph wind, but ultimately Geraldo stayed at home. Now, however, even a paltry category 2 (out of a possible 5) gets ’round-the-clock coverage on every news outlet in the country. Want to know the weather in your locality? Too bad, the weather channel has more important work to tend to.

            All you need to do now to boost the sale of bottled water and spam is put up a picture of Katrina devastation and point to a hurricane in the gulf. But ultimately there is little need for such hysteria, I propose for you a list of appropriate measures to take for a hurricane (this, of course, depends on the severity of the ’cane, and proximity to the coast (more on this later)):

            1. Contact your inner core of friends, contact them in order of sturdiest house to least sturdy house. When you call, say something like this: “Hey <Name of Friend>, Hurricane <Name of Hurricane> looks like it’s going to hit us, what sort of preparations are you making?” At which point—unless they are big pussies—they will say something like “We’re going to board up and ride it out.” Now is when you determine how much they like you; if they like you the next sentence will be, “We’re having a Hurricane party, would you like to join us?” If they don’t like you they will say, “What preparations are you making?” Now, the person with the sturdiest house knows that they have a the sturdiest house of the group, and that is why they bought it. However, it would be impolite to assume they are having a Hurricane party, or to insinuate that they should invite you to said Hurricane party. If you aren’t invited to your friends’ Hurricane party, then call the person with the next sturdiest house (and try to not be such a jerkface).
            2. So you’ve been invited to a Hurricane party, now what? Go around the outside of your house, collecting and removing any movable (or valuable) objects, place them in the garage, this is vital because the last thing you want is to have neighbors that are pissed-off because your lawn gnome just destroyed their new HDTV. This should be done for even the smallest Hurricane because it shows concern for the neighbors, and they appreciate it.
            3. Next up, grab the boards and put them up. No boards you say? Well get your ass to “Big-Box Hardware Store” two weeks ago and get some. Make sure your house insurance is up to date.
            4. Raid the liquor cabinet, you should be looking for rum—you cannot ride out a Hurricane without rum—and if you show up to the Hurricane party without enough rum for yourself then you will be shunned1. It is also appropriate to bring other liquors—leave the plastic bottles at home you cheap bastard—if you know the favorite liquor of your host bring a good bottle of it as a gift.
            5. Re-read the previous step, it is important.
            6. Gather other sundries: batteries, canned goods, a camp stove, flashlight, water. Ultimately the survival goods are the responsibility of the host, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
            7. A few hours before the first rain starts falling, head over to the host’s house to take care of any last-minute issues. Then start drinking and recounting old Hurricane party stories (when you live near the coast long enough you acquire a collection). Once an hour it is somebody’s responsibility to walk over to the window with the best board-peephole and say, “Man, it is really coming down out there,” or “Must be a break in the storm.” There should be one TV in the house which is turned to the Weather Channel at all times.
            8. During breaks in the storm it is perfectly acceptable to go outside and assess damage, gather debris, perform feats of drunken jackassery, or any combination thereof. For obvious reasons it is imperative that you don’t hurt yourself during this whole ordeal.
            9. Once the storm has passed it is important that you stay and help the host clean up, alternately you can feign concern about your own domicile and rush out to asses damages. If you choose the latter then don’t expect to be invited to the next Hurricane party.

            Note that this checklist is appropriate for Hurricanes up to and including a category 4. For a category 5 storm, move the party inland by at least 200 miles, but the main steps remain the same.

            If you are thinking of holding a Hurricane party you should choose your guest list carefully, you don’t want to invite too many people, and remember that you’ll be stuck with them for a couple days. Lastly, if your house is sea-side, or on stilts then it is automatically excluded from the sturdiness appraisal, and if you should choose to hold a Hurricane party it will be poorly attended.


            1. This is really not the time you want to be shunned from your friends, you are going to be trapped in a house with them for at least 2 days. Also, you might have to rely on them with your life.

              professional courtesan

              Sep 13, 2008, 2:35 pm by Lew

              oh shii have a work dilemma people. i am going to apply for a position in another lab group within my company. i like my current lab, especially my boss who is cool as hell. but as a career move i want to move to this other group. i have talked to the group that i am applying to, but i have not told my current boss i will be applying. at what point do i tell my boss? do i tell her right away so she knows and can plan replacing me? do i put off telling her? if i tell her now she might make sure i get training that will help me in the new job. or it could backfire and she will be mad at me for thinking about leaving the group. it could make the next couple months really awkward. she could be understanding and encouraging or really offended and mad. i am not sure what the professional courtesy rules in the situation are, and what the general courtesy guidelines are.

              Hurricane Ike: Part I - The Refugee

              Sep 12, 2008, 6:10 pm by John

              This story starts two weeks ago. I was talking to my girl friend, who lives in College Station, and I decided that I wanted to come into town on a Thursday night so that I could get out to my favorite local establishment, The Texas Hall of Fame. I then decided that a great time to do this would be the weekend that the Aggies didn't have a football game (the weekend of September 13th). This would be great because I could spend time with my friends and not have to throw out a day of relaxation to tail gating, lots of walking, and 3 to 4 hours of standing. Though I do enjoy all of the things in the previous sentence, I'm sure everyone can agree that it is nice when you can have a weekend to just hang out. Plus, without a football game the city would be much less crowded.

              I first met Ike about two weeks ago when he first showed up. His brother Gustav was around scaring everyone in New Orleans. I always suspected that this guy, Ike, could be trouble. Sure enough, he wasn't a partier like his brother Gustav, so he skipped over New Orleans and headed for Houston. By the time we knew, approximately, where Ike would be travelling, I had already arranged with my boss, to take vacation days on September 11th and 12th. I needed to register my new truck and run some other errands before getting up to College Station on Thursday for a fun night of dancing. I awoke on Thursday morning, at 7am, approximately an hour and a half later than normal, and found out that mandatory evacuations were in place for Galveston. Thanks Ike....

              With errands to run I got to work. Since I would have to deal with local government, while registering my truck, I assumed this would eat up the majority of my day. But to my suprise, no one is interested in registering vehicles when a hurricane is 2 days out and everyone is leaving the city!! Victory! So I registered my truck, and now $1200 less rich I got home at around 9:30am. At this point I remembered that I had a softball game with my work team at 6:00pm Thursday night...ugh. What would I do with 9 hours of free time? Anti-love bugging my truck took the top spot.

              I knew that a hurricane was coming but my nice, new, shiny truck had love bugs on it. The front of my truck looked like a psycho-killer/porn flick. So as I wash the front of my truck, because the whole thing would be getting a bath in 48 hours, I noticed that my neighbor, the conductor imfamous "Eduardo Freak Out" was once again boarding up his house. I felt that maybe this time my priorities were slightly mixed up...

              Around 11am I found out that my softball game was cancelled and I was free to go to College Station. I packed up my things, a couple Gatorades, pretzels, and my weather radio and hit the road. Suprisingly 290 was not overly crowded and my trip took just over an hour. I was now "safely" in College Station with lots of other evacuees. I hung out with my girl friend in the afternoon and prepared for my night at the before mentioned local dancehall. I had a great time, and now I sit at 6pm on Friday, groceries secured in the fridge, truck parked far away from trees, waiting for my new buddy Ike to come on up to BCS. It's overcast and the wind is picking up. I'm really not too worried but better safe than sorry. Bring on a night of DVD's and unhealthy snacks! To be continued...


              Sep 9, 2008, 12:48 pm by John

              So I passed by HEB down here in Houston this weekend and noticed that they were selling E85 for about $2.80 and that got me to thinking about whether or not E85 was worth it or not. The only thing I could come up with is that it is renewable...atleast in a short term sense. However, it has LOTS of problems.

              First of all i'd like to say that i am all for helping out the farmers and ranchers of america. That being said the only person who benefits from this product is the corn farmer, again, only in the short term. he grows oodles of corn and is now able to sell it because everyone wants it for E85 manufacturing. however, this means that the national price of corn increases because the demand increases.

              so the price of corn goes up a few cents...so what? well i'll tell you what. every domestic animal in this country also enjoys corn as much as you and i, except they eat it almost every day. so mr. rancher's feed gets more expensive. so of course the price of beef, pork, and chicken increases, either because they have to charge more, or because ranchers are forced out of business by increasing prices and the supply drops. every cow, pig, chicken, horse, dog, cat, and turkey in the country eats this stuff. so not only does the price of corn go up, but so does the price of milk, eggs, butter, pork, beef, chicken, leather, cosmetics, glue...etc.

              but this is okay because the environment is better off. wrong.

              being the engineer that i am, i know that the amount of energy out of anything has to equal the amount of energy in. so this means, unless the process is 100% efficient, which, obviously, nothing is, we have to put more power into the system to get e85 out for our cars. this means that more coal and natural gas has to be burned to make energy to power the e85 plant. so we end up with even more polution then if we had just stuck with gasoline.

              for those of you who buy kroger gasoline because it's cheaper, don't forget that little sign that says "may contain up to 15% e85". they are basically putting a thinner in their gas that makes your car less efficient, yet you pay around the same amount per gallon. i will say i haven't tested this yet, but i do know that e85 is less efficient, so if you are paying the same price for this slight blend, it can't be worth it.

              finally, let's just say that growing e85 is unstoppable because we run out of oil. then, all of the big companies will take over all of the little corn farms and will put the farmer out of business. this means that the farmers and the ranchers are out of work, we have no beef, we pay $10 per ear of corn, a gallon of milk cost 5 times what a gallon of gas does, and our dog's food is more expensive then ours.....well maybe not quite that extreme but you get my point.

              rant over. have a great day :)

              The Sound of Settling

              Sep 8, 2008, 2:16 pm by Paul Stiverson

              I danced with two peopleI’m a longtime reader of the Postsecret blog and I usually come across a secret or two that make me laugh, and a few more that make me sad. The one I’ve posted today made me particularly sad, my friend Teague and I agreed long ago that it would be a heartbreaking experience to be the person that somebody settled for.

              The secret made me think about all the people I know who might have settled for the first person who asked (to marry them) rather than waiting for (or seeking) someone who would have loved them more.1 Now there is no way for me to tell if it was the bride or groom that sent in the message, but it seems to me that it was likely the bride, as they are usually the more passive in the proposal.

              Don’t be with somebody that you aren’t completely engrossed in, if you know there is somebody you would rather be with then go after them.


              1. Shamelessly stolen from the song “Cath…” by Death Cab for Cutie, which is extremely appropriate for this post.

              Hawai'ian shirt day

              Sep 5, 2008, 10:09 pm by Lew

              ALOHA!We had Hawai'ian shirt day at work. In order to participate without partaking in a style I don't care for I made and wore this shirt.

              Oaxacan Conspiraleo

              Sep 5, 2008, 2:05 pm by Lew

              we bet a gentlemanI had a fascinating lunch yesterday. My coworker and I had a delicious lunch at oaxacan tamaleo. It is a oaxacan restaurant on hwy 71 west of Bastrop. They make tamales in banana leaves. The name tamaleo is a combination of tamale and leo, the name of owner of the restaurant. Anyway we have lunch there every couple weeks, the food is delicious and the place is interesting. They sell biodiesel, have a pacman machine, the occasional lion hunting dog wandering by (rip lion dog) and I learned they have awesome conspiracy theories. The younger guy in the picture believes that if barack obama becomes president that Alaska will leave the union, the government will cause a great depression and Obama will convince everyone to work for the government for less than minimum wage. The waiter from tamaleo plans on running away to mexico before this new order is established. He admits he has crazy conspiracy theories. So it was more entertaining than crazy, but still pretty crazy. We now have a bet riding on the establishment of the new order, the wager is a favor. If he wins I have to do him a favor and vice-versa. It could be anything. He said I may be in the border patrol in the new order and I would have to get him into mexico. If I when he said he would cook my thanksgiving dinner. These are just examples though. It could be anything. We have a gentleman’s agreement. So we will have to agree when the bet is over. I am pretty sure I am going to win (should Obama be elected). What should my favor be?

              Blue Eyes

              Sep 3, 2008, 4:23 pm by Paul Stiverson

              Toward the end of the summer I broke down and bought the soundtrack to Garden State, it is a fantastic album each track is quite strong (with the exception of “I Just Don’t think I’ll Get Over You” I could do without that one, it hardly even made an appearance in the movie even). However the focus of this posting is the track “Blue Eyes”, by the Cary Brothers.

              This is a beautiful song—like so many other beautiful songs—about a girl, and to make it even better it is a waltz. The singer is essentially professing his love for the unnamed ‘Blue Eyes’, saying “You’re the secret I keep”, and “You are all that I need”. This track would be my absolute favorite on the album if the writer had simply left out, replaced, or even revised one line, see if you can guess which.

              ’cause Blue Eyes
              You are destiny’s scene
              ’cause Blue Eyes
              I just wanna be the one

              I just wanna sing a song with you
              I just wanna get it on with you

              ’cause Blue Eyes
              You’re the secret I keep

              Now why would you spend three minutes and twenty-five seconds eloquently professing your love just to come out and say “I just wanna fuck you”. Way to fuck it up Cary Brothers.

              Be the Squeaky Wheel

              Sep 3, 2008, 2:09 pm by Paul Stiverson

              Well, now that I’m finally—officially—in my office I can start formally complaining about it. There is a black panel on the wall, which I can only assume works by magic because I’ve never actually seen anybody servicing it, this panel indicates when there is a malfunction in the utilities of the building. Part of its function is to notify the people around it that there is a problem, however this does little good because the people around it have no idea how to fix the problem, or even how to turn off the alarm. So, when there is a problem the thing beeps like mad and gives a status message saying what caused the alarm. That’s right, the physical plant installed a system in each building to monitor that building, but neglected to connect the alarms to a central control room. They leave it up to the patrons of the building to call up the electronics shop to let them know when an alarm has been tripped. Brilliant. We’ll make sure you know if there’s a problem, make sure you let us know about it too. Here comes the best part, wait for it, nowhere on or around the panel is there a notification of who to call to report the alarm. Super Brilliant. I would like to propose that we fire the whole herd of morons who work for the Physical Plant and use the money that goes to their salary to make the campus a better place—did I say fire, I meant kill with fire.

              Also, the building I’m housed in—the Reed-McDonald Building—is being renovated, this means that there are a bunch of moderately skilled workers (who I’m sure have been briefed about the monitoring system) futzing around with the electrical and plumbing systems in the building. This means that the alarm goes off constantly, and while it isn’t as pervasive as a fire alarm it is pretty annoying persistent beep. This beeping will slowly but surely work its way into your brain and eventually turn you into a homicidal maniac, I’ve had to personally take down 3 other graduate students who cracked, but I’m afraid I might be the next to crack and I don’t know if any of the asians will be able to take me out. It would be like Godzilla attacking Tokyo in here.

              In order to remedy the situation I’ve committed to call the Physical Plant any time that damn panel is beeping, more than once a day if necessary. I’ve put in a work request to have a red phone—which patches me directly to the electonics shop—installed in my office, but I doubt they will get around to it anytime soon.

              Office Space

              Aug 29, 2008, 3:25 pm by Paul Stiverson

              Part of my grad school arrangement is that I’m a teachers assistant, and part of being a TA is that they give you an office—well a cubicle—in which to hold office hours, grade, and piddle. Now, they make you turn in your key at the end of each semester and pick it up at the beginning of the new one; they claim that they use the break to clean everything and make preparations for the upcoming semester. No biggie. The problem with this arrangement is that they never have the office assignments ready before the semester starts, this makes it extraordinarily tough to get your office hours nailed down and given to the students (“Hey, these are my office hours, but I can’t tell you where they are located, just guess… good luck, fuckers”). The start of a semester is frustrating enough without having to deal with not having an office to store all your crap.

              To deal with this I’ve typically just used my previous office until the new assignment comes in (I have always gotten the same cube so it hasn’t been a problem), and that is exactly what I was doing today until the receptionist for the department rolled through and complained about me using my former and future cubicle. “You aren’t supposed to use these until they are assigned to you” she said.

              “Well, I see that you are holding a sheet with my name on it that belongs to this cubicle, I’m pretty sure you are assigning it to me”, I replied.

              “That doesn’t matter, I haven’t given you your key yet, it isn’t yours.”

              “Well, classes have started and I’m expected to hold office hours, where better to do so than my office, perhaps if you assigned them in a more timely manner this wouldn’t be an issue”.

              I don’t see the harm in using an unoccupied office, especially when you were the last (and next) person assigned to it, but apparently it is a major transgression.

              Drunken Stuper

              Aug 25, 2008, 1:02 pm by John

              I made it up to College Station this past weekend and had a great time. All of my friends, who are still in school, are back in town and I got to see quite a few of them. Two of these people are contributers to this blog and we went out to our favorite hangout, the texas hall of fame, on saturday evening.

              Highspeed Hayride was on the bill and they weren't bad at all. most of their songs sounded very similar but they were pretty good and they played covers well. they are a band that plays some purely country songs but even these have a rock influence. Anyway, after 3 lonestars, part of a pitcher of shiner, and several swigs from 2 young ladies' whiskey and cokes, i was feeling pretty good. just to point of slight dance floor stumbling but not even close to "oh crap i need to go to the bathr....". i was sitting in my chair, right off of the floor, slouching quite a bit, listening to the middle of some song i don't remember with the stage lights change colors from blue, to yellow, to pink and back to blue again. it was at this point, that i realized that i had been in this exact situation many times before and it was like Déjà vu all over again. there have been several times listening to this type of band, with this much alcohol in my system, that i begin to think about all of the concerts i had seen here and all of the people i had met and all the good times i've had. it was relaxing and surreal and amazing all at the same time. maybe it's just that i've graduated and realized that my good times at the hall may be fewer and further between, but it was one of my favorite nights surrounded by most of the people that made those memories happen.

              check etiquette

              Aug 24, 2008, 1:14 pm by Sam

              I hate writing checks. I only use checks to pay rent. I'd rather pay cash, but I like having the proof that I paid the rent. Until August, I subleased a duplex in College Station. Two other girls lived there, but they were absent almost the entire summer, so I had it almost all to myself. It was really nice. It got stinky when it came to paying utilities. Different girls were in charge of different utilities. The arrangement was that they'd tell me what my share was and then I'd just give them the money. Both months I lived there, they didn't tell me how much I owed until a few weeks after they already paid the bills and then acted pissy that I didn't already give them money. Whatever. They insisted on checks, which was fine with me and both months they took their sweet time cashing those checks.

              One of them just now cashed a check that I wrote over a month ago. I, like a dumbass, didn't take into account that a check was out and completely forgot about it. I do check my bank balance at least once a day, though. This morning I checked it, and sure enough, it was almost zero. I couldn't figure out why because I thought I already knew the exact balance. I budgeted my checking account to last me exactly until the end of the month, and now I'm fucked. I was planning on going to a concert next Friday, but it looks like that's off now.

              When written a check, I always cash it immediately. Isn't that proper check etiquette? At least that's what my parents told me when I was a kid. Why don't people know this? I don't think they're being malicious by any means, but just so self-centered that it would never occur to them that it's important to cash checks in a timely manner. I'm not without fault considering I neglected that check when doing my monthly budget, but still, give me a break.

                Finally Home

                Aug 22, 2008, 12:35 pm by Paul Stiverson

                Well I’m finally back from California, I’ve been in Texas since late Sunday night, but I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to make a post about it until I really got home. Last night was Thursday and—as usual—we went to the hall. The very minute I walked in there and saw all my friends all the homesickness I had been feeling went right away.

                There were a few changes at the hall, first they did some remodeling in the shadow box area (both sides have been done now). Next, they hired a new DJ, the old DJ, Ron, is now the manager. At first I thought the new DJ was going to be a problem—he was playing a bit more Nashville country than I would have liked—but when I approached him with my concerns he was receptive and fixed the problem. He also played an impressive number of waltzes which is an entirely welcome change. They are also taking out the platform at the center of the dancefloor, good riddance as far as I’m concerned, I hate all the showboating bullshit that goes on up there. However it was quite helpful to have the raised platform for dance lessons, oh well. Overall it was a pretty awesome night though, good to see the old crew (sans John).

                a few things that matter

                Aug 20, 2008, 11:26 am by Lew

                Into the wild is a terrible movie. If you are not familiar with it already let me bring you up to speed. It is based on a true story about a guy who gave up all his money and possessions and lived in the wild. Eventually making his way up to Alaska, where he died after eating poisonous berries. I am all behind people living in nature, doing without modern comforts. It is a beautiful and romantic idea. I was really excited to see the movie. However the movie’s portrayal of this guy’s adventure is awful. The dialog is at a middle school level (or apparently sean penn level), the acting is not very good (it has vince Vaughn in it for some reason). So nothing against the real guy, I am pretty sure this movie is not doing his story justice. It is the first movie that I rented and could not sit through. I turned it off twice trying to trudge my way though it. I can usually sit through a movie even it is bad, this was painful.

                This morning my cat was screaming at me to wake up and feed her. I wasn’t ready to get up yet a rolled over back to sleep. I dreamt that my cat was angry at me and decided to ally herself to the Russians. In the dream the Russians were my rabbits.

                I am sad that the frozen bigfoot was (of course) a hoax. I wanted to believe!!!

                I am extra sad about the 1 month old humpback whale baby in Australia. It got separated from its mother somehow and has been cuddling up to a boat it mistakes for a momma whale. It tries to nurse off the boat. They will probably euthanize the poor thing before it starves to death unless another momma whale happens by and adopts the baby whale.

                I need to stop reading the news so much.

                po' baby whale

                My New Truck

                Aug 20, 2008, 9:14 am by John

                http://images.dealer.com/jato/us/photo400/FORD/F-1This last weekend I bought a new truck. It is awesome and so far I wish I could drive it more...if someone else picked up the gas bill. Not that it's a gas guzzler, it's just that all cars use gas (yes Paul there are some electric cars out there but I call the golf carts not cars) and to go down the road you must purchase some. Unlike the typical Texan, redneck, diesel driving daddy, I bought a half-ton, 4.6L V8, regular cab that gets about 20mpg (before you ask, it gets the same gas milage as the V6). And unlike the typical Texan, I have already used it to tow a trailer and it only has 500 miles on it.

                Before my purchase everyone wanted me to get an extended cab, or four-door or the biggest V8 engine...but this all seems like a waste of money and resources. I don't need an extra 800lbs added to my 2 ton truck. I also don't plan on carrying more then 1 or 2 people. If 10 people need a ride...there's a bed. In an emergency, I can get 15 people where ever they need to go. Finally, for those of you who worried about me driving a 95 Ford Probe (feel free to chuckle) from Dallas to Houston and being stranded somewhere between Corsicana and Buffalo...WORRY NO MORE! :)

                  posts taste like internet

                  Aug 19, 2008, 10:19 pm by Lew

                  I try to enjoy the fine things in life, rather I try to enjoy things finely. Not necessarily the expensive or the rare, just the fine. I just try to enjoy things for what they are. To enjoy the essence, the spirit of a thing. Anything one does for pleasure has a spirit, the thing that is motivating you to partake. I am making a concerted effort to enjoy things purely with an undiluted spirit. With a build up like this you are surely wondering what I am getting at. Liquor and coffee, that is the subject of my musings. Liquor should taste like liquor. Not like a slurpy with booze. A cocktail is liquor with flavors, usually served very cold. The alcohol brings its own flavor and heightens the taste of the ingredients. A cocktail is an experience, a powerful and unique culinary experience. Yes culinary. Cocktails are a great way to experience flavors because many aromatics are soluble in alcohol. It wasn't until I had homemade cocktails that I experienced what a drink can be. A margarita at a tex-mex place is tasty and happiness inducing, but an experience it is not. When I had this revelation admit I started kind of looking down my nose at people who couldn't handle a real drink (by my definition). Then I realized what a hypocrite I am. I drink coffee all day, but with more milk and sugar than a snickers bar. Coffee should taste like coffee, not like candy. I learned to drink coffee at starbucks, where they make coffee flavored milk shakes. Coffee is great for getting you wired, but it is also a flavor experience to savor. I am trying to cut out the sugar and use just a touch of milk. I am enjoying it, my coffee tastes like coffee! Imagine that!

                  Trip report: California to Texas

                  Aug 19, 2008, 12:47 am by Paul Stiverson

                  In my previous post I mentioned that I would likely start the long drive on Monday, i.e. today, but that was before I found out that my travel partner, Mallory, had little desire to visit San Francisco. Once I learned this fact we decided to skip town a bit early. We also decided that it would be cool to see the Grand Canyon, and that doing so would only add a couple hours to the trip. Well I’m happy to report that I am safely back in Texas, and that the Grand Canyon is pretty awesome. Presently I’m in McKinney, TX and I will be back in CS tomorrow by mid-day.

                  Press Shops «Part 2»

                  Aug 15, 2008, 12:51 pm by Paul Stiverson

                  8 thousand dollar bibleYesterday I completed my tour of letterpress shops in San Francisco by visiting the Arion Press—there are about 5 other shops in the area, but there were time constraints to be dealt with. I took the train into town, which drops off at the North-East corner of San Francisco, and the shop is in The Presidio, which is in the South-West corner. I had a long way to go and a short time to get there (an hour); thankfully a helpful bus driver intervened and told me how to get there using the wonders of the San Francisco Municipal Transit System—branded simply as The Muni. I jumped on bus 47, then I got on the 1, then I walked a couple blocks. I was a bit late for the tour, but the guide delayed things for me. The gentleman leading the tour was a bit older, I think he was a man of some import around the press (maybe the head dude, I’m not sure). Anyhow, he started by describing what the press (the business, not the machine) does, which is to commission artwork to accompany classic literary works, then typeset them beautifully along with the artwork, print them, bind them, and sell them to collectors (note this is all done by hand, so the limited edition books end up being quite beautiful, if expensive). They typically do 3–4 books a year with a run of no more than 500, oftentimes a much smaller run.

                  The fellow then took us down to where the magic happens, the print room. The printer had just finished a run on a page (two pages actually) of Don Quixote; he described the machines, and told us why they weren’t using the larger presses for this particular job (I think it would have been terribly appropriate for them to be printing with a Windmill, but instead they were using a Cylinder). He also had some proofs of the accompanying artwork We were shown the extensive collection of irreplaceable type, and their type warehouse. Next stop was the type foundry, where they actually cast the little metal sorts and arrange them into pages. This is the part that is truly rare, there are very few active type foundries left in the world. They let us take an ornamental sort, and then we moved to the binding room, where two cute gals were working like slaves making boxes that Quixote would eventually find his way into (fine books typically come in a box so they don’t fall open on the shelf). There were stacks of unbound books that were in various stages of completion: folded pages, sewn, formed, etc. He showed us the device that sews the edges of the book together and described the way books are mass produced noting, and how they sometimes hand sew the leaves.

                  We then returned upstairs and perused their collection. In the tradition of Gutenburg they printed a two volume bible (pictured at right) which looks beautiful but carries a price tag of seven-thousand dollars, you can add a grand to that if you want it bound. Another interesting work is a take on Waiting for Godot pictured below.

                  This tour was awesome, and it further cemented my desire to get into letterpress in any way possible.
                  Go Dough

                  Press Shops

                  Aug 13, 2008, 8:05 pm by Paul Stiverson

                  After the criticism I received from a previous post I decided that there were a few locations that I would like to see before I leave town. So today I set out to visit a couple letterpress shops in San Francisco, these are print shops that utilize more traditional methods than a local Kinko’s—Gutenburg would actually recognize what is going on in these shops (for the most part)—and the difference shows in the product.

                  My first destination was One Heart Press, which is conveniently located just a couple blocks from the CalTrain station. I met with Val, who was nice enough to show me the (admittedly small) shop. She told me a bit about the business, showed me a beautiful portfolio of work, described for me their set up. They typically don’t use too much traditional movable type, they instead use custom plates to make impressions. This allows them to use robust graphics and reduce the amount of type (the individual metal characters) they have to keep, they do keep some large wooden sorts on hand in the event they are needed. I eventually got to see their Heidelburg Windmill in action (they weren’t printing anything just lubing the machine up for the day’s printing) which was really impressive. Imagine a one ton piece of equipment that is capable of printing 5000 impressions an hour with pinpoint accuracy (feeding the new sheet, inking the type surface, pressing the page, and depositing it in hopper) all without the benefit of electronics, and all running off of a single fly wheel. An engineering masterpiece.

                  My next stop was the Hello!Lucky shop, I didn’t stay as long there, but I did see that they used much the same technique as the previous shop. I got to see a Heidelburg Cylinder Press in action, another beautifully engineered piece of equipment. This shop specialized in fun and colorful cards (birthday, thank you, christmas, etc.), and they kept a staff of designers to keep them coming.

                  The printers at both shops suggested that I go tour Arion Press, which still does hand typesetting to produce limited edition books and what have you, and they have a fully functioning type foundry to make all the little characters (or sorts as they are called in the biz. Fun Fact: The saying “All out of sorts” is a typography term, so is “Mind your pees and queues”). Thankfully they give tours every Thursday, so I’ll be able to make one. Expect another typography post tomorrow.

                  eating my way through the day

                  Aug 13, 2008, 3:45 pm by Lew

                  I am going to try to do more “what I ate for breakfast” type postings. Not every post needs to be deep and insightful, this is a blog afterall. I am here to help you procrastinate from whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. This post will probably contain no insights or life shaking events. Today I was in an earthquake! My like was shook! Actually today I had the slowest day of my working career. It was not a bad thing though. I wrapped up a 3 week long project today and had a quarterly review with my boss which went just fine. I had not taken any other work in the last 3 weeks so when I turned in my paper work this morning I had nothing to do. I piddled the rest of the day away by stretching out some busy work, it also took me all day to eat lunch. I didn’t eat slowly I just ate one item at a time every couple hours. I had chickpeas/garbanzos with curry powder as the main course. Later I had carrots. Later still ½ a peanut butter sandwich. Not a cut in half sandwich mind you, a folded in half piece of bread. I am trying to save so as to pay off certain debts faster. So I am trying to eat mostly from things already in the pantry or fridge, hence my mildly eclectic meal today. I am slowly clearing out my cluttered pantry which is a bit of a relief. If only I could clean out my bookshelf by eating my way though it. Or the cat’s litter box for that matter. On top of lunch I had a piece of apple pie and a Capri sun. The pie was part of a celebration for my coworker who was sworn in as an American citizen yesterday. The Capri sun just because it is delicious and I haven’t had one in 30 years. We decorated my coworker’s lab bench in patriotic garb like ribbons, flags, god bless the USA signs and of course a copy the most important document in American history, Stephen Colbert’s “I am America and so can you.” It was fun surprising her, she got a kick out of it. She is a mild little Indian lady. Actually now she is a mild little American lady. She was embarrassed but enjoyed having a fuss made about her. In somewhat life shaking news I am constructing a list. Yes dear readers a list! It is a list projects that I want to do in my spare time, I will share more later as I move through the list but they include things like underwater photography and writing a children’s book. The first thing I get to check off the list is purchasing a projecting microscope. I have wanted one for a year since reading “Darwin and the barnacle” (before becoming famous for “origin of the species” chuck Darwin was not famous for his barnacle studies). I want to watch small living things projected 1000x on my wall. My first plan is watching a fish embryo develop in real time. Exciting stuff.

                  and that is what I ate for breakfast.

                  Mark’s Wedding

                  Aug 11, 2008, 11:20 am by Paul Stiverson

                  This past weekend I travelled to Dallas for Mark’s (a fellow contributor to this bloog) wedding, and boy howdy, it was a blast.

                  The Rehearsal Dinner

                  Everybody meets up at the church and we proceed to have a pretty elaborate rehearsal for the wedding… rather than just remember where we were supposed to stand we put pins in the carpet to mark our locations. The planner did a really great job at being prepared, but sometimes it is best to just step back and let the magic happen. On an interesting side-note, I got matched up with the best looking bridesmaid. One thing that struck me as kinda odd was that the bride didn’t participate in the rehearsal at all, she was there, but she just sat there in the pew. Apparently the planner wanted her to shoot from the hip on the big day. Anyway, after the rehearsal we all went to dinner at a ridiculous restaurant in Dallas (I can’t remember the name, Mark?). We get there and the first thing they do is start pouring us some pretty damn tasty wine, so far so good. The food they delivered was abso-fucking-lutely amazing, but unfortunately I was seated across the table from one of the less good looking bridesmaids (thanks Mark). Then came the gift giving part. Mark had everybody in the room leaking like a sieve with his emotionally charged descriptions of his relationship with everybody in the room (thanks Mark).

                  Post Rehearsal Dinner Drunkfest

                  After the rehearsal dinner we all retired to the hotel (which Mark’s parents were gracious enough to provide for us) and promptly got fucked up and retold some old corps stories. The fellow with whom I was sharing a room ended up getting a little too drunk though, and the night ended with him wandering around the room naked looking for his cellphone/underwear (well it really ended with me leaving the room after he started vomiting, but that isn’t as funny as the drunken nakedness).

                  Pre-Wedding Shenanigans

                  About an hour and fifteen minutes before we were supposed to be at the church (for preparations and pictures and shit) we decided to make a trip down to the amusement center which was conveniently located directly adjacent to the hotel to ride some go-carts. I have to admit that I wasn’t too keen on the plan, but I went so as not to be a wet-blanket. This was the right decision, I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun. Needless to say we were all about 15 minutes late to the church, and the groom was about 30 minutes late; no biggie.

                  Wedding Boringness

                  Once we are all there and dressed we commence the waiting around part of the day. We all sat around for at least 30 minutes waiting for the photographer to show up, and after the elderly couple with the camera and weird umbrella thing showed up we all wanted to kill them. They were easily the most irritating people within a two-mile radius.

                  The wedding went off without a hitch; credit should go to the thorough preparation by the wedding planner I’m sure.

                  Immediately after the wedding there were more pictures to be taken. If I had a crowbar I would have taken to each of those camera toting dorks with a fury that cannot be adequately described.


                  The reception was pretty awesome (I submit that Jim and Jamie’s was still awesomer but that is neither here nor there). At one point the DJ brought the entire wedding party out on the dance floor to do a wedding party dance, this was the definition of a poorly executed great idea. First problem, the dance floor was about two sizes too small for the number of people on it. Second problem, the song that was selected was entirely too fast (3rd gear and seventeen, but Aaron Watson). Third problem, I’m a natural showoff. Those three things equal my dance parter and me in a compromising position on the ground, goddamn I’m a loose cannon sometimes. Oh well, nobody got hurt, but it did so happen that the cameraman got the whole incident on film (thanks Mark, I expect you to edit that out (and put it on youtube or some shit)).

                  Those who know me best are aware that I love to waltz, this being the case I bugged the crap out of Mark (before the wedding) to make sure that the DJ played some waltzes, and then I bugged the crap out of the DJ to play some waltzes. Unfortunately only one waltz was played, and it was only for the married couples. I asked the DJ to spin another and he said, “Sure thing chief, the next song will be a waltz”. As it happened the next song was “The Chair”, by George Strait; at the time I thought, hmm not a waltz, but a good song never-the-less. I went back and bugged the DJ, “I though you were going to play a waltz”, the person behind the booth replied “‘The Chair’ is a waltz”. I was once again reaching for my crowbar. A lesson for the rest of you: when hiring a DJ bring along a boom-box and ask them to classify a few songs by the type of dance that is to be done to them, if they can’t determine what a waltz is then hire somebody else. This wasn’t a huge deal, but I didn’t get to waltz with Mandy or Mallory.

                  Post Reception Drunkfest

                  After the reception we all retired to the hotel once again, and we got drunk(er) once again; but this time we had some intelligence and we went back to the go-carts, it was slightly less fun this time because the place was a bit more crowded, but still pretty damn fun.

                  Narrow Stairs

                  Aug 11, 2008, 10:26 am by Paul Stiverson

                  A few months ago Faith, a regular commentor on Ramblings, turned me on to The Postal Service; (the band, not the people who handle mail), and subsequently Death Cab for Cutie. I quickly became enamored with one of Death Cab’s albums, Plans. I recently decided to buy their latest album, Narrow Stairs, and I must say I am impressed.

                  I know that many of you longtime Death Cab fans will lambast me with claims that their old stuff was way better, and more power to you. I’m focussing this post on their current work.

                  Aside from a few extended instrumental parts that I could take or leave, the whole album is strong, but I have a few favorites. Lyrically—and lets face it, all of Ben Gibbard’s projects are stronger lyrically than musically—the strongest tracks are “Bixby Canyon Bridge”, “Cath…”, and “Grapevine Fires”. There is one track that really strikes a chord (lol) with me, “Your New Twin Sized Bed”. The singer describes a scenario wherein a queen-sized bed owner decides that—since the other side of it never gets used—that it should be dispensed with in favor of a more realistic size, namely a twin. It is essentially a song about giving up, I’m not sure why I like it so much, but I do (maybe it reflects my own defeatist attitude).

                  One thing I could do with is the hypnotic repeatitious parts of the album, such as those featured at the end of “Pity and Fear” and “Bixby Canyon Bridge” (once again, I’m sure longtime fans will have something to say here, but I don’t care for it). This complaint doesn’t extend to the 4 minute intro to “I Will Possess Your Heart” though, I think the radio edit loses a lot of the tension and anticipation that the album track has.

                  Finally a decent seat, oh wait.

                  Aug 11, 2008, 10:18 am by Paul Stiverson

                  Preface: I’m writing this from American Airlines flight 1396, nonstop service from SFO to DFW. I’m on my way to Mark’s wedding.

                  I think I found the best and worst seat on the Macdonald Douglas Super 80, I have all the legroom an adult human could need—a full foot of space between my knees and the wall in front of me. However, to make up for the lack of tray table in front of me they gave us a seat with a build in tray table (think of the desks in a big lecture hall), this means that the width of the seat was reduced slightly, and that the armrests are not movable. This poses a problem for the large framed individual, the Asian fellow next to me doesn't appear to be in duress, but I’m a bit cramped. This seat happens to be located directly behind the flight attendants’ station—toward the rear of the aircraft—and the S80 just so happens to have twin rear mounted engines. Basically this row of seats (and the one directly behind us) is crammed between two massive turbine engines rotating at ungodly speeds; it is quite loud back here. So loud in fact that I have my iPod turned up to nearly full blast, I’m probably above OSHA regulation aural safety levels here, I anticipate that Mark will have to speak up a bit when he picks me up.

                  I took advantage of the TSA’s relaxation of their liquids policy by bringing on some Whiskey (Gentleman Jack) that I was fortunate to find in quantities of less than 3 ounces (90ml). I had just finished up my second 50ml bottle when the flight attendent told me that I wasn't allowed to consume alcohol that they hadn’t served me. Apparently it’s bar rules up here. Anyway, I appologized, she said it was no problem. Even though I know better know I’m still pulling this every time, it is a pretty good racket. My polite appology also bought us some favor with the nice lady because she brought me a delicious cup of ice cream, I’m not sure if she was just trying to make the other passengers jealous, or if we are like the ghetto first class, but it was pretty nice.

                  Olympic Protests

                  Aug 8, 2008, 11:39 am by John

                  what are the olympics? well i thought it was a time when the best athletes from around the world to get together at one place and compete against each other to see which country is the best in different events. Boy was I wrong. Appearently it's the the time of year when everyone and their mother decides that they want to protest whatever their mind feels like. Having been an athlete for the majority of my life I know what it is like to train for hours a day, everyday of the year. Of course I was never close to Olympic calliber but it gives me a good idea and great respect for all of the work that these athletes put in. Now when these athletes get to show the world their talent and share it with their countrymen, in what should be an event that the entire world gets together and watches, people who don't have anything better to do take to the streets and try to stop one of the greatest world traditions, in the running of the olympic torch.

                  exactly how will stopping the torch fix all of the world's problems? i'm pretty sure it won't. people say things like, the olympics shouldn't be held in china because they are communist. well i'm sorry, i didn't know that being communist had anything to do with athletic ability. in that case, why aren't all athletes communist? maybe they are....hmmm.

                  why can't people put away their differences for 2 weeks and just stay at home and watch the Olympics? The Olympics are about sports. For those of you who didn't catch it the first time...the Olympics are about sports. if you and your ego feel that you are so important that you need to show the entire world how you feel, use other means. i'm all for getting together and voicing your opinion and marching up and down the streets with signs. I don't want to take anyone's rights away but I can gaurantee you that when an american goes into a gold medal match, for whatever sport, he doesn't care about the person on the other side's political views...he just wants to beat the snot out of them.

                  a quick note, the iraqi athletes were nearly disqualified from the olympics because their olympic body was disperessed...like it was their fault. i don't see why anyone shouldn't be allowed to compete despite what their government does.

                  let's talk politics in a few weeks. get out of the streets, go inside, watch the games on tv and for now, sit back and enjoy an amazing display of athletic talent.

                  Happy Birthday Rachi-chi!

                  Aug 8, 2008, 11:26 am by Lew

                  Daniel Boone was a man!Today, 8-8-08, is my lovely Fiancée’s 24th birthday! Happy birthday sweetie! For her birthday she will be celebrating with mojitos and queso a brilliant combination. I got her the Daniel Boone tv show season 2 on dvd. If you are not familiar with the show it is a fantastic old show about Daniel boone conquering the wilderness and bringing civility to Indians and outlaws. It features Ed Ames in red face as the lovable oxford education apache “mingo.” I am trying with no luck to find her an ipod dock for her car that plugs into the cigarette lighter and uses and auxiliary cable. So if you know of one please tell me. Last night we had a fantastic dinner (at our maybe rehearsal dinner site), played smash bros and made Mario mushroom cupcakes. Things are good.

                  everyone sing-type happy birthday to her!

                    tropical storms II

                    Aug 6, 2008, 7:05 am by John

                    so the storm of the century came through yesterday and somehow i managed to survive.

                    on my way out the door at 6:20 i could see it coming. it was on the horizon and looked like a big gray blanket about to sweep over the entire area. it was coming from the east so the sun rising behind it made it look pretty spectacular. the roads were deserted. there must have been about a quarter of the normal traffic load. it was the best drive to work i've had in the 2 months i've been here. as i got to work the clouds started to sweep over northwest houston.

                    the rain started around 9am. i walked over to a window to see this storm i'd been hearing about for, going on, 3 days now. when i walked over to the window i noticed that the sky was a light shade of grey and it was sprinkling. i thought to myself "there must be some mistake. this storm should be bending trees over and dumping rain down so hard i shouldn't be able to see more then 50ft." if only i hadn't listened to the media's hype i might have thought it was nothing more then a spring time shower.

                    i checked back with the storm every hour or so and at one point the wind might have been gusting up to 20mph. it did rain hard at times but nothing to worry about. as i checked the radar in the early afternoon i noticed that instead of turning north like the meteorologists had guessed the storm came right through downtown houston. i work just northwest of downtown so this had me a little worried...worried that i might get wet on the way out to my car in the afternoon.

                    as 3:45pm came through i left my post and headed out to the parking lot. it was sunny. i lugged my umbrella around just knowing that i would have to use it for this tropical storm, alas, it stayed dry. no rain coming into work, no rain leaving work. how disappointing. the best part about the entire day was the drive home. when i reached my car the temperature outside was 80°, instead of the usual 100, so just getting in my car was more pleasurable. then, when i got on the road it became appearent that the hundreds of thousands of people who didn't go to work in the morning were still at home and the roads were clear again. finally, to sum up the whole day...the roads were dry.

                    i've decided we should have a tropical storms more often. people will stay off the road, my car will stay cooler, and since everyone will have already filled their cars up with gas i will be able to go to the gas station and not have to wait for 10 minutes to get a spot. thanks for a great day edouard.

                    ps. i laughed my ass off when i got home, looked down the street, and saw that the house on the corner had all its windows covered in plywood. hilarious.

                    Tropical Storms

                    Aug 5, 2008, 11:39 am by John

                    Preface: As mentioned before I am from Dallas and we don't get tropical storms or hurricanes up there.

                    So my only previous tropical storm/hurricane experience is with Rita when everyone in College Station freaked out and school was canceled. Then the storm turned north and absolutely nothing happened. Once again, Mr. Stiverson will correct me if I'm wrong but tropical storms and class 1 maybe 2 hurricanes seem like big thunderstorms, atleast when you are more than 50 miles inland. If you are on the coast it might be a different story, I don't know, but it sure doesn't seem like something to freak out over.

                    Yesterday I went to Kroger to fill up with gas. Big mistake! I did not go because I fear evacuation or gas price increases but because my gauge was near E. When I got there it looked like they were giving the stuff away. People were lined up 3 and 4 deep! The same story at the Exxon across street.

                    Today they were talking on the radio about how people were buying up all the water and supplies at grocery stores. While I was passing up Kroger, I came back later for my gas, I noticed that the grocery store was packed as well. I don't get it. We'll see here in a few hours, when this storm hits, but I think it's going to be a lot like when a line of thunderstorms sweeps across North Texas, except it will last all day. Down here I don't even have to look out for tornadoes! What's all the fuss about? I don't want to knock people around here for getting ready for a hurricane but Edouard (or however the hell you spell it...what kind of name is that anyway!?) is a tropical storm... S-T-O-R-M. So maybe I'm wrong but 35-50mph wind sounds like good kite flying whether to me. This thing doesn't even seem to have lightening to worry about.

                    More to come after the storm of the century passes


                    Aug 5, 2008, 10:29 am by Paul Stiverson

                    Well, my time in California is winding down (thank goodness). My last day of work is Wednesday, the sixth, on the seventh I fly to Dallas for (my fellow blooger) Mark’s wedding. Here comes the twist, on the tenth I fly back to San Francisco. [I drove here, and I don’t much want to leave my car in the Bay Area.] Then I wait, you see Mallory is flying in to the Bay Area to make the drive back to Texas with me, it will be nice to not be alone with my thoughts for 28 more hours—it gets scary in there. The problem is that Mal flies in on the 15th, leaving me with 5 unscheduled days in South Bay, this shouldn’t be a big problem though, I made it though the three unscheduled days at the start of summer right, and now I know the area, piece of cake.

                    There is a pretty kick-ass bookstore about two miles from the base, and they have a frequent readers card sort of thing going on. They track your purchases on this little paper card, and when you buy 10 books they give you a book of the average value (of the 10 purchased books) for free. Last night I realized that I had a half full card (and a lot of upcoming free time) so I finished out the card and got my free book. Six new books I now have resting on my desk. I figure I should be able to knock one (and maybe a half) out during all the flying parts, leaving me 5 or so to read during the 5 unscheduled days. The books are as follows.

                    As I sit here I see 15 books I’ve read already (and three I couldn’t stand to read one more freaking page of), it has been a good literary summer.

                    Fantasy Football

                    Aug 4, 2008, 6:40 pm by John

                    Preface: I consider my self a big sports fan. I watch at least an hour of ESPN everyday and I check their website a few times a day. I'm not a HUGE fan of any given team or sport but I am a big fan of all of the Dallas teams and could probably tell you more than you want to know about any of them.

                    Fantasy Football is about to, and in some places has, kicked off and I wanted to give everyone my thoughts on the subject. I don't like it because I find myself having to root for other teams and, sometimes, against my own in order to have a good fantasy week. I am from Dallas, I am a Cowboys fan. But if I have a fantasy football team I have to become a Ravens, Giants, 49ers, Lions, Browns, Texans, Packers, Patriots fan so I can cheer for my players to have a good week. Of course you don't have to root for the team just 1 or 2 players, but hopefully these players are on your fantasy team because their team turns to them when they are down and gives them the ball in hopes they will produce a victory. Dilemma.

                    I have decided that fantasy sports are just a way for professional organizations to get more people to watch their broadcasts and serve no other purpose besides bragging rights. I have not taken part in a fantasy league of any kind since then. I only want to cheer, and will only cheer for the Cowboys, Rangers, Stars, and Mavericks. I don't care about how any other team or player in the game does. Take all that time you spend messing with the fantasy team and apply it to playing that sport. Then we might get somewhere.

                    what is the opposite of a triumphant return?

                    Aug 4, 2008, 1:17 pm by Lew

                    don’t normally post truly personal things on the internets beyond “I did this today” type stuff. I don’t really think the internet is conducive to sharing things that are truly personal, but that is based on a certain forum I pollinate at which will tear the things you hold dear to shreds should you share them. Perhaps thismatters is different. Mi vida the last few weeks have prevented me from posting much. Not because I am so busy. There are things I want to post. But they feel trivial compared to my real life so I didn’t post and I didn’t post the personal stuff because of my aforementioned attitude. I need to remedy that and get back to blooging. So I am just going to go ahead and post the personal stuff so I can move on with my ilife. First here is a list of things I hope to share with you soon. I am writing them down so I don’t renege on the topics later. The list: places I want to go, my love affair with my apartment pool, shark wrangling, skin eating fish, booze and coffee, and probably some other bs.

                    now here is the stuff that has been going on that keeps me from posting. Warning: this will not seem that interesting or dramatic but it has been a big deal to me lately. So two months ago I got engaged. Wedding planning was going at a high pace, things seemed smooth. Then my parents came to visit about two weeks after we got engaged. It was not a good trip. Not at all. They thought they were coming to make all the arrangements for the rehearsal dinner, and that wasn’t really what we had in mind. We stalled them and prevented any real planning, they resented this and started fuming and got mad about every detail of my life that they had a problem with. They snidely commented on everything from my apartment, to my job down to my hair style. Keep in mind my parents are older, traditional and conservative. Rachel and I are a bit more bohemian and they didn’t really get that. Anyway it has dragged on over the last month or two because we were both so mad that we couldn’t talk without making shit worse. So two weeks ago I decided to buy a plane ticket and go to el paso that weekend and straighten things out. Things were straightened out to a point. There were a lot of misunderstanding and there might still be some. I had a five hour long conversation with my parents trying to address each of their concerns. To my parents credit they were much more understanding and open minded than I was expecting. Though I now know we will probably continue having some conflict sense we see things very differently. Normally it isn’t a problem as they live 700miles away. But planning a wedding we are interacting more and having to make mutual decisions. Making decisions can be hard when people want very different things, and especially hard when it is as personal as a wedding. Once the wedding stuff is decided life will be easier. But right now even with things in a relative calm compared to before my trip to el paso I still think I am bit more stressed than I like to be. So I am looking forward to being done planning, but I need to keep my energy up and not get passive due to my desire to get things done. Rachel’s parents are paying for the wedding. My parents are paying for the rehearsal dinner. My parents have made it clear they are not happy with site we chose for the wedding. But tough titties they have no rights to the wedding. However, the rehearsal dinner has become their fortress. Not that they are going to do anything horrible. They want to do something nice that we enjoy. But where rachel’s parents have a hands off attitude, my parents think the rehearsal dinner is their event for us, not our event. So while they want us to like it, we don’t have free reign. This wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t want such different things. In order to move along we are trying to be compromising without giving up our desires but it is tough. It wouldn’t be so tough, after all it is just a dinner, except that when my parents get angry things can get out of control and I am trying not to let that happen again. The plan is to have my parents come to dallas sometime soon and have a powwow with us and rachel’s folks and hammer everything out. Arg! I just want to get married to Rachel! Why does it have to be so insane!

                    disclaimer: please do not make any assumptions based on my rant, my parents are good folk and this is a synapses of two months (or twenty-five years) of events. Disclaimer II: I need to get back to work so I am not editing this right now, please forgive any errors and things that just make no sense.

                    Cuil your jets

                    Aug 2, 2008, 7:05 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past weeks you will have heard about the new search engine on the block, Cuil. Now, being a narcissist, the first time I used it I searched for the very site you are reading—it wasn’t found—I almost instantly wrote it off as a piece of garbage. However the buzz about the search engine kept bringing me back, and I eventually found a way to submit pages to be parsed (I’ve sent in the request, but as of yet it hasn’t been added to their index).

                    It is true that the search results are garbage (so far), but the engine is promising when you look at its fabric. For starters, I like the interface, the three column business is pretty nice, and overall it feels really clean. There is a cool tab breakdown that lets you immediately refine your searches that is quite promising. The next good thing is the lack of page ranking, sometimes you aren’t looking for the most popular search result, but the most pertinent result. They don’t index Wikipedia, if you’re like me then you are sick of seeing Wikipedia as the first three Google results—when I want Wikipedia’s input on an issue I’ll ring their fucking bell myself. The last—and most compelling—reason I like Cuil is their privacy policy. It is really simple, they don’t collect any user data. When compared to Google’s labyrinthian privacy policy it is a breath of fresh air.

                    The folks at Cuil have some challenges ahead of them if they are to gain a toehold in the internet search business. First, they need to seriously improve their search results. They need to index probably twice the number of sites they have currently indexed (which is a ton more than Google already has). Then they need to get some name recognition—people need to start saying “Cuil it”, not “Google it”. They need to keep their nose where it belongs, don’t start making maps, don’t start hosting email, just index the web.

                    What really confuses me about Cuil is their business model. They don’t have any advertisements, they don’t charge you to search, and they don’t make you pay to be indexed, so how do they make their money? I think it will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.

                    Stop Lights

                    Aug 1, 2008, 7:34 pm by John

                    Since this is my first post on here I feel that I should put up something that I feel passionate about...stop lights. As Mr. Stiverson will atest, I despise the people who program stop lights, or forget to, in every town except my hometown (Plano, TX). Is it really that difficult to spend 30 minutes at a traffic light at 3 or 4 different times during any given day and figure out how to time the light? Or heaven forbid, get in a car and drive from 1 light to another to determine the time it takes to get there!? There is no reason I should hit every single stop light when traveling with heavy traffic in the same direction. Also, its 2 AM and I am the only car in the entire area and I have to wait 3 minutes at every single light. Are you kidding me!? I know all of the intersections now have sensors in the ground to detect if there is a car sitting there. After 11 PM I shouldn't have to sit for more then 15 seconds at any given light. Also, why am I waiting at a light when I am at an intersection where a 6 lane road crosses a 2 lane road? Why aren't the lights flashing yellow on the big road and red on the small one? This is better for all parties involved. I don't have to wait on a car who has been sitting at this light for 5 minutes and he wouldn't have to waste 5 minutes of his time waiting on this stupid signal. You might say if it's the middle of the night just run the red light...but I know that as soon as I do the 1 car I am sharing the road with is a cop.

                    Plano has figured this out and driving around most of the time is a breeze. At night all of the small intersections have flashing lights and when you pull up to a big intersection the light immediately changes. It's not that difficult. The part I also enjoy is knowing what a particular light will be when I get there. If I know I take this turn on this street, on this day, at this time, the light will ALWAYS do the same thing. Then I know what to expect. This may be a lot to ask of College Station, but I'm in a highly populated section of north-east Houston. Let's get it together!

                    I'll save my rant about left turn only lights for another day.

                    Final Presentation

                    Jul 30, 2008, 7:07 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    The astute reader will realize that it has been some time since my last real post, this is because I have been a bit swamped with work and social shit, but today my work culminated during a blissful 15 minute presentation.

                    Sidenote: Keynote is decidedly the best presentation making software on the motherfucking planet. If you find yourself working a job that requires giving a bunch of presentations, buy a Mac and get your keynote on.

                    I probably put 8 solid hours in the creation of the 10 slide masterpiece, but when my office-mates said it was the best presentation they had ever seen I realized it was time well spent. I set the bar high for the other interns. What now? I’ve got 5 work days left to tie up the loose ends and get my ass back to slacking off. I’ve got a couple of good posts brewing for y’all, look for them over the next few days.

                    Stiverson Press

                    Jul 25, 2008, 12:40 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    For a while I’ve been kinda enamored with typography: fonts, typesetting, design, and the like. I’ve been reading a typography blog, and their most recent entry suggested pressing as a hobby. I think this is a capital idea, how fun would it be to have your own letterpress? So, starting today (yesterday) I’m in the market for an old table press, should you happen across one (5x8 or larger) call me immediately. Incidentally, I’ll also need type, some job cases, and a composing desk. Get on it people.


                    Jul 19, 2008, 7:49 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    This weekend I decided I should get my act together and finally spend some time outdoors. I was planning to backpack at King’s Canyon National Park, but upon realizing that it was 5 hours away (and would have cost me at least $80 in gas alone) I decided to go with a place that is a little closer. Henry W. Coe State Park fit the bill, it was close (less than 50 miles away), and it was open. I’m happy to report that I’m home safe, and I’m sad to report that backpacking alone sucks, like really bad. I’m sure some people get a kick out of it, but I am not one of those.

                    The park is pretty nice, but it was very dry and pretty warm (for the area), and the landscape reminded me of West Texas (with fewer cacti). The trails were nice for the most part (except the “Obscure Trails”, those were kinda tough to follow), but one of the roads—which I hiked on for a while—was in pretty haggard condition, and entirely too steep for hiking. I slipped and fell, did a kind of split thing and hit my knee pretty hard. Steep descents are always hell on my knees anyway, but hitting it didn’t really do me any favors, by the time I made it to the bottom of the hill I had to favor my left knee pretty heavily. There was a flock of birds that I inadvertently roused, and they scared the crap out of me, they sounded like damn helicopters—their wingbeats were absurdly violent.

                    I made it to my first night’s camp well before dusk, and decided that a tarp/shelter wasn’t necessary, so I laid my sleeping bag out on my groundsheet (to let it loft up). I boiled water to make my usual boil-in-a-bag dinner, and enjoyed the surroundings, which were nice. Then I wrote a bit in the ol’ camp journal (“Dear Diary…”). I ran out of stuff to do before the sun fell behind the hilltops but I decided to lay down anyway, I planned my route for the next day (today) knowing that I wasn’t planning on staying another night (lone backpacking sucks and knee pain), then slept fitfully for a couple hours. I woke up after it had gotten dark but before the moonrise, I was happy that I was able to see some stars. The big dipper was the first constellation to appear, so I used it to find the North Star, but I noticed that there was a lot of light pollution coming from the south. When the moon finally rose I figured out where the light pollution was coming from. It was a nearly full moon, and that fucker was BRIGHT, I could have packed up camp and hiked out under light of the moon alone, when I looked north I saw that I was casting a legitimate shadow.

                    I was eventually able to fall back asleep (I never sleep well in the outdoors), and I woke up shivering several hours later. I had left my sleeping bag open since it was so warm, so I pulled on my base layer (I love Smartwool) and watch cap and zipped up the sleeping bag (the little foot vent too). I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes trying to get warm and trying to figure out how long I had slept by the rotation of the stars (couldn’t do it, too bright).

                    When the morning—well dawn—finally rolled around I figured I had gotten a good 4 hours of sleep and decided that I should cook breakfast and get ready to roll out. My sleeping bag was a bit dewy and as I was hanging up to dry I realized that I had a problem. I had to poop, pretty bad. So begins my first outdoor pooping experience (that I can recall) since I was in diapers, luckily I started packing toilet paper some time back and I’ve read extensively on the topic. I opted to go with the ‘smear technique’, considering that the creek was dry (and likely to be for the next month or so), I figured that all the nasties would be gone before any water could come in contact with it; the cat-hole technique doesn’t get rid of the nasty bacteria for a number of years, and I don’t know exactly were all the water sources are in the area.

                    In the afternoon I stopped for lunch and happened to spot a Coyote who had just caught his dinner, I could see the smile on his face and sense the bounce in his step. I didn’t take any pictures because I’m not a camera-carrying dork.

                    prepare to be disturbed

                    Jul 18, 2008, 11:08 pm by Lew

                    ouch my soulFridays at work are pretty great. Everyone is happy and in a funny mood. We usually have strange conversation on Fridays. Today was especially strange. There are these baby dolls that look very realistic. Apparently someone left one of these dolls in a car. Police broke into the car thinking they were rescuing a real child. The dolls have heart beats and breathe gently. The dolls are not for kids. They for collectors. Scary, scary baby collectors. Even more frightening are the “chimp babies” (pictured). Half-human half- chimp baby dolls. These dolls shake me to my very core (note the chimp hand-feet). Somehow these dolls lead to a discussion of human taxidermy. Apparently it is illegal to taxidermy a human. So we discussed whether there should be laws against things just because most people find them creepy. If you want to be taxidermied and posed that is your business. Who gets to decide what is so creepy that it is illegal? Well we realized that we the people do through our elected officials. If I was passionate enough about the issue I could base my vote on it. Where do Obama and McCain stand on human taxidermy. Honestly, I find chimp baby dolls more creepy. They should be illegal.
                    there should be laws against this

                    Let's keep this short

                    Jul 17, 2008, 3:02 pm by Jon

                    Poasting from New Mexico *stop*
                    Sitting in Sante Fe cafe *stop*
                    Laptop battery almo

                    fags and their birds

                    Big Flippin’ Windtunnel

                    Jul 16, 2008, 5:46 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    look at dat fukken windtunnelI just got back from a tour of the 80'x120' windtunnel here at Ames. They finished building it in 1987, and it was built as an addition to the existing 40'x80' tunnel (which was the biggest until the 80'x120' was finished). I’ve walked by this thing pretty often and it is pretty impressive, but when compared to Hangar 1 it isn’t that big, however when you walk inside all the illusion is dissipated by the hugeness of the room. They had a parachute for the set up for testing.

                    The inlet (there in the picture) is as big as a football field.

                    one wuss at a time

                    Jul 14, 2008, 3:32 pm by Lew

                    What would kinky do? I need his wisdom. Kinky said he will fight the wuss out of texas if he has to do it one wuss once at a time. I am trying to decide whether to do something about the p.c. stuff in my lab. Last year the Christmas party was called the holiday party as to not offend non-christians. This year it is going to be called the year end celebration as the term holiday was still offensive. I am not a Christian, I am about as secular as you get. Christmas parties do not offend me. Is it worth diluting 200 other peoples' experience at the risk of offending a couple people? What is offensive about it? Just because you do not celebrate the same things does not mean other customs are automatically offensive. Today was I believe the silliest, wussiest p.c. thing I have ever heard. Someone complained about the monthly birthday party. They are a Jehovahs witness and they do not celebrate birthdays. So now it is called the cake and ice cream celebration. Now the person who complained feels comfortable enjoying cake and ice cream with everyone else. But it is still a damn birthday party. We aren’t celebrating cake and ice cream, we are still having them because it is a birthday party. Do they think they are tricking Jehovah with the new name? how do I fight wussification? do I send out a company wide e-mail? Start a petition to de-wuss the company? Keep my mouth shut? Is it worth the fight? WWKD?


                    Jul 14, 2008, 11:23 am by Paul Stiverson

                    I went and saw Hancock the other night. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what I expected; I was really hoping to see some more character development from Hancock himself (Will Smith), but instead they tried to sell us some half cocked love story bullcrap. Also I was really hoping that it would be funnier, the beginning was pretty great but the second half was almost laugh-free.

                    B±, wouldn’t watch again.

                    Texan Accent

                    Jul 12, 2008, 6:34 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    The other day I realized that I do have a Texan accent. I was talking to another intern mentioning that I bough my old roommate a pen to match mine as a graduation gift. Somehow the conversation shifted to pins out of the blue, I was notably confused and decreed that I was talking about writing utensils, not pointy things you use to decorate your clothing. I said, “I’m talking about pens, not pins.” They heard, “I’m talking about pens, not pens.” Apparently I don’t differentiate those two vowels in that context, while crazy yankees do; funny no Texans have missed my context clues.


                    Jul 9, 2008, 11:22 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    Typically we go to dinner in downtown Mountain View, which is about a mile from the base here, but today—on a whim—we went to Sunnyvale for dinner. We had a bit of trouble finding the ‘Downtown’ area, but when we finally got there we were greeted by a freaking kick-ass street festival, they had a live Zydeco band and everything. I thought that I had somehow traveled back to East Texas until I tasted the fried fish to find that it was cod instead of catfish. It was really awesome never-the-less.

                    I don’t care what people think

                    Jul 9, 2008, 1:41 pm by Paul Stiverson

                    I’ve been thinking about people who say “I don’t care what people think about me”, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is bullshit. The simple fact that you are defending your honor vocally means that you do, in fact, care about the image that you present to [at least] a subset of society. If you truly didn’t care then you would just let slide whatever shit is on your mind.

                    Further, by purporting to not care, many people are trying to gain status by being aloof, because it is clear that people do value independence. “Look how cool this guy is, he doesn’t care about his image at all”. Thus, they not only care, but they actively care about their image, and are trying to make up for the fact that their societal independence hasn’t been acknowledged by others.

                    I tend to take it as a complement when people who value independence (read: claim to not care) assert their independence to me though. By telling me that you are independent, you are essentially telling me that you do care what I think (and sacrificing something which you hold to be important); if you didn’t then you wouldn’t be telling me how independent you are, in fact it is unlikely that you would be talking to me at all.

                    This is one of those times when actions speak louder than words. Don’t assert your independence, just be independent.

                      Venture Bros.

                      Jul 9, 2008, 1:28 pm by Lew

                      get it?I realized something recently. i am a venture bros. fanboy. I know I am fanboy for Nintendo and Jeaques Cousteau. But recently I was scouring a venture bros. fansite for any back story hints that I have missed. One does not care about the back story of completely fictional cartoon unless they are a fanboy. If you are not familiar with this cartoon I am not surprised. It is on late at night on Sundays on cartoon network’s adult swim programming block. The show follows the exploits of a failed super scientist, his bumbling archenemies and other fantastic characters. It is fantastic except it is all supposed to take place in the real world. Bjork and dépêche mode are referenced often. David Bowie is the head of the super villain union (super villains are unionized). I think I have a little envious of the heroes on the show. I wish I was a good enough scientist so I could get the attention of costumed nemesis.

                      I have never been into comic books. But I think my interest in the show is like what others have for comic books. How did the characters get where they are? Why do they hate each other? Who killed who? Why does Jackie Kennedy-Onassis have such a deep gravely voice?

                      I didn’t care for the show when it first started. It seemed goofy and stupid. But now I need to know everything. I never follow tv shows. For some reason I care about the characters. You can catch new episodes online at adultswim.com but you need to watch the first two seasons to appreciate it. The show is a brilliant combination of over the top cartoonish adventure and human frailty. It is strange and hilarious. Will you be my arch nemesis? What will your costume be?


                      Jul 8, 2008, 10:54 pm by Lew

                      I am a smidgen drunk. i am going to take advantage of that to give you my thoughts for the day. 1) sleeping is nice, i want a job where i sleep until 11. then go to work if i want to. i want the same money i make now for that. i mean i could do a weeks worth of work in one day if they didn't care about face time at the lab. can i just work 2 days solid and then have the next 5 to knock around? is this a fair and just world? 2) i was sweeping my kitchen and thinking about capitalism. while doing that i imagined a picture of me sweeping the kitchen with a caption "this is the moment you realized you don't have to be a slave." the thought made me giggle a little. fuck it y'all let's all build greenhouses and grow our own food (and die of gangrene). 3) robots. what the hell. is everything going to be robots? will there be robots to replace all the animals? will there be robot deer with glowing robot eyes? who the hell needs that. we already have deer. we don't need robot deer. fucking shit man. i thought that at lunch today with vince. i didn't say that out loud. i should have.

                      damn my bunnies are gay for each other.

                      Roomate Lulz

                      Jul 7, 2008, 11:45 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      On Mondays we usually make a run to the supermarket after supper, and today was no exception. This week I happened to notice that the limes were right by the coconuts, and—like the rest of you—I immediately thought of the song and laughed. The gal who was there beside me (who happens to be Indian and had never heard the song) asked what was so funny, and I explained that just about every American would spout off that song when presented with a lime and a coconut. I proved this shortly after by showing that very combination to another intern who promptly sang the song. Anywho, we decided that it would be fun to buy and eat a coconut.

                      Well, we get back to the dorm and break out the coconut, puncture the top and try the milk… not too good, in fact, pretty dang bad. We decide that we should open it up and see what the coconut itself tastes like. When I cracked it open everything looked fine, we decide to taste it. HORRIBLE. At this point my roommate, Marco—remember, he is Italian—walks up and asks if he can try some; we give him fair warning that it tastes bad and he disregards the warning and tosses a bit in his mouth. A few moments of contemplation later he looks up at us, arms by his sides, shoulders kinda slumped and says, “Am I going to die?” I almost fell over the railing on the balcony I was laughing so hard.


                      Jul 6, 2008, 5:07 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      Cover of Yesterday I was traipsing through a local bookstore looking for something interesting to read when I happened upon an unexpected treasure: What Would Kinky Do? by none other than the most famous Independent former Gubernatorial candidate for the great state of Texas, Kinky Friedman. I picked it up and I was—for lack of a better word—giddy, so happy was I that I managed to work into conversation with the clerk that I had the great pleasure of voting for the author in 2006.

                      I would have made this post earlier, but I was too intently focused on reading the book. It is hard to call it a book, it is actually a collection of essays and articles written for previous publications, although I’m sure some of them were written for this publication. I am quite happy with it, and I suggest that the rest of y’all go out and procure a copy; although I do wish it was a bit more coherent (a bit of it was repetitious).

                      In one of my favorite parts Kinky recounts a story involving some Green Berets, himself and his Peace-Corps buddies, and a bar in Thailand, that could have had catastrophic results for the author had he not realized that one of the Green Berets was a fellow Texan: “The next thing anybody knew, the invisible bond of latent homosexual Texas manhood had transcended all other human chemistry in the bar and the world.”

                      I call Dibs

                      Jul 3, 2008, 5:47 pm by Jon

                      What a boring day, and by boring I mean... well, uneventful kinda. The Boss was out, and I've actually been the only person in the office all day today. It's 5:45 PM. I should be leaving now. I should be.

                      So anyways, the day. It's spent sitting in front of a computer mostly copy/pasting information back and forth between an executive summary and the main report. I write reports IRL. But it's boring, and I'm bored, and forget trying to focus on any one thing. So lunch rolls around at 11:00-ish and I head out for some sweet Panera Bread sustenance. I get to read In Search of Memory for a while and it's pretty damn interesting. Nerves! Proteins! Charged Ion Channels! The first part of it is mostly review for anyone who may have taken a class that covered cell biology. It covers it in a historical perspective, though, so even if you can still remember all the way back to those college courses (assuming you didn't sleep through them), it makes for any interesting read about the people behind the discoveries.

                      After finishing up there I run by B&N to pick up a book covering Chinese characters and their stroke order (no, this is not about epileptic kung fu actors). I want to do something productive, and the Olympics are coming up, this could be productive (maybe I'll post about it).

                      On to the meat of the story. I'm cruising around with the windows down rocking some Röyksopp and it's damn hot. I pass up my normal turn-off and pull into a Walgreen to get some icy deliciousness (see where this is heading). I'm not sure what I want, it just has to be cold. And then I see them, Dibs, man. They're almost an iconic ice-cream treat, like Dip-N-Dots or astronaut ice-cream. So I grab a 26 piece container and head on my way. It's hot, the ice-cream is cold, my lap feels like an arctic prairie on a cool spring afternoon. This stuff is awesome. I just consumed 99% of my saturated fat for the day no lie!

                      I get back here to spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the internet and avoiding doing any actual work. Browsing the net I find some pics of Dibs containers to post here and they all have different brand names. Apparently, Nestle owns Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc. So that explains the Dreyer's labels and the Nestle labels, but what about this Edy's that I see too?

                      Let's call Dreyer's.

                      I call the number on the container and ask the lady on the line why there are Dreyer's and Edy's ice-cream products. Turns out that Breyers, not to be confused with Dreyer's, is an east-coast product, and so as not to have to compete with Breyers brand wise, Dreyer's used their co-founder Joseph Edy's name.

                      Someone should tell Dreyer's that Texas is East of the Rockies, I want some Edy's ice-cream now.

                      Words, man!


                      Jul 3, 2008, 3:30 pm by Lew

                      i was engaged in a throwdown today. a haiku throwdown. my labmate and i were competing to see who was the better note writer. it all started after she asserted a unicorn i drew was stupid. i had to defend the noble beasts honor. no one could decide who was superior so we had a tie breaking haiku competition. the haiku had to be about pcr (polymerase chain reaction) which is what we work on. if you don't have a molecular biology background these will not be very funny.

                      here is the haiku i lost to:

                      Sweet Polymerase
                      Nimbly dance on DNA
                      Forming chains of life

                      here is my submission:

                      Hot spring denizen
                      A gift from Yellowstone Park
                      T. aquaticus

                      if you are biology nerd then those are quite funny. i let you down unicorn. the bible teaches that jews should not be trusted with unicorns. i should have known.
                      forgive me...

                      Like my melons?

                      Jul 2, 2008, 11:35 pm by Lew

                      canta.... muskmeloni have a little garden. really rachel and i and our friends john and jade have a garden. it is in john and jade's backyard. i do most of the daily tending. i sneak in their backyard on my way to work to check for pests and do any pruning. We have a good pepper crop, as well as many herbs and we used to have squash (it is now out of season). we also have tomatoes, but birds destroyed our first crop. i am hoping to get another batch, i have since learned how to protect tomatoes from birds.

                      I am most proud though of my melons. in the pictures you can see our watermelon and cantaloupe vines. little known fact that you can grow melons vertically in a small space. in the first picture is a cantaloupe. in the second you can see a tiny little watermelon. those are the biggest fruits at the moment though the vines are covered in smaller immature fruits. i am a cantaloupe enthusiast. i would say so bold as to say cantaloupe is my favorite fruit. a perfectly ripe cantaloupe is unbeatable. a melon can be a meal, a dessert and makes an fantastic ice cream. so i am excited about growing my own. there are varieties of fruits and veggies that you can not buy in grocery stores, you have to grow them. the cantaloupes are two different heirloom varieties that you cannot get in stores. in addition to my fondness for the flavor i have a connection to them as they are one of the few fruits that grows well in west texas. a pecos melon is the champagne of melons.

                      this morning i rigged up little slings to hold up the melons. i wrapped pantyhose around the melons and then strung them up to support the weight. the pantyhose stretches as the melon grows and keeps birds off. the support keeps the vine from breaking so it can ripen fully. yes, i had to go buy pantyhose just for my melons.

                      i am looking forward to august and the start of the fall growing season. in texas one can grow crops year round. the least productive time is the heat of the summer. you can still grow in winter if you are careful. come august i am going to convert the gardens to strawberries and green beans. yum.
                      farmer lew


                      Jul 2, 2008, 9:54 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      I took my laptop into the shop on Sunday for the same damn screen problem, and this time they said they were going to replace the screen (which would take a little longer), so for the interim I will be using my new (used) eeepc which I picked up on Craigslist for $310. So far I am pretty pleased with this tiny beast, the keyboard takes a bit of getting used to, but usable—also it was approximately the same price as an iPod touch and much fuller featured (and running Linux :).

                      what's cooler than cool?

                      Jul 2, 2008, 3:52 pm by Lew

                      ice cold! i love when we get in a shipment that comes on dry ice. that stuff is like a toy you weren't allowed to have when your a kid. dry ice hockey. dry ice bombs and of course bubbling bottles of pure science!

                      back to playing with the dry ice.

                      How old am I?

                      Jul 2, 2008, 3:35 pm by Lew

                      i have an awesome apartment in a great location, at a great price. it used to be a very low key complex, in an otherwise bustling area. my own oasis. recently i have been disturbed by the number of young college types that have moved into my apartment complex. really i am concerned by the number of incosiderate people moving in. we used to never hear a peep (except when our former neighbor was doin' it) from the outside world. now we have upstairs neighbors who get drunk and have silly fights ("you don't understaaaaaaand waaaaah"). they listen to the same two hendrix and nirvana albums over and over. the other night at about 4am they and all their buddies hung out on the stairs and shouted outside our window all night. there is another group of about 10 people who use the pool all afternoon every freaking day. they have cases of corona and all their dogs in the pool. both of which are not allowed in the pool. people, i don't want to swim in your dog water! then they leave their trash piled up by this tiny trash can instead of walking 40 feet to the dumpster. cleaning up after them is not the custodians job. this isn't a college apartment, it is a real world apartment. *bitch and moan*

                      my 29 year old neighbor (who is a college student, and a very considerate one) and i wear complaining to each other about the shift in the vibe in the complex. bastard making us feel like the old guy who keeps the frisbees that land in his yard. it isn't that they are young, they are just plain inconsiderate.

                      should i figure out who is leaving the bottles, bag them all up and drop them on their door step? should i say something to the landlord (who is super nice) or just leave them be?

                      Picture day

                      Jul 1, 2008, 12:00 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      All the interns in a certain program have to submit an abstract of their work to be published as a collection of the interns’ abstracts, and they want to have individual headshots of us to put next to the text. This totally reminds me of school picture day, only I’m kinda looking forward to it. I thought about wearing my spacesuit, but I think that might be a bit presumptuous.

                      SUIT UP!

                      Update: pictures taken, I’m not too comfortable with the one of me splaying.

                      Typography gal

                      Jun 30, 2008, 12:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      various ampersandsYesterday, shortly after my previous post, I ventured into the Virgin Megastore on Market and Ellis to find Helvetica—a documentary about typography. As it happened, the film was there, tucked behind some other DVD; I grabbed it and perused the rest of the DVDs. When it came time to check out I glanced at the counter and saw a clipboard, and the right-hand side of the top page was covered with ampersands (right, image not mine) of varying sizes and styles.

                      “Who is the ampersand fan”, I enquired.

                      “I am”, replied the lovely young lady with the lip ring behind the counter.

                      I asked if she was just a ampersand fan or if she was a designer, she said the latter, and I suggested a blog for her to check out, Mandership. I was immediately attracted, but thought it would be in bad taste to hit on her—being in her workplace and all, also I happened to be in the store with a co-worker (female).

                      Shortly after leaving the store the female co-worker said, “I’m surprised you didn’t ask her out”. At that point I said (audibly) “Fuck, I should have.” After eating I returned to the store to do just that in my mealy-mouthed way; so who knows, maybe we’ll hang out sometime.

                      It was a truly rare experience, I’ve never met—in person—another person who was enamored with typography (who knew the history of the ampersand). If her sleuthing skills are sharp she might just read this post (I hope you enjoyed it).

                      Gay Pride Parade

                      Jun 29, 2008, 3:56 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      I'm posting from an apple store in San Francisco (using an iPod touch). I just got done watching the gay pride parade, it was pretty kick ass. It was nice to see so many people out to support the gay folks.

                      New Feature

                      Jun 28, 2008, 7:11 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      If you look down at the bottom of the post you will see a new link, it’s a category tag. If you click on it you will be directed to posts that fit in the same category!

                      This is pretty worthless right now because old posts haven’t been categorized yet, but eventually—as the other ramblers and I update our posts—it will become a handy tool.

                      Edit: All of my posts are tagged now, I see Trey has done both of his posts as well.

                      California vs. Texas

                      Jun 27, 2008, 12:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      I’m rapidly approaching the 2 month mark here in the Bay Area and I think I have gathered enough data to publish my opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the Golden State (or at least the Bay Area), Texas will be the basis for comparison (so obviously California loses). Here goes.

                      Final score: California 4, Texas 10. Not even close, I’ll be home for good on August 20th or so.

                      In other news, I got my laptop back on Wednesday—they replaced the motherboard, and it seems to be running fine.

                      edit: it is still doing the dark on half the screen thing. Looks like I’ll take it back in again.

                      Texas A&M is awesome

                      Jun 26, 2008, 8:33 pm by Lew

                      i already knew this to be true but i was really mulling it over yesterday. texas a&m is a fucking great university. the school is austin is a very good school no doubt, one of the top schools in the country. but it isn't really anything special. i went there for a bit in grad school. it was nice. they obviously have a lot of money. but the only thing going for them that sets them apart from other state schools elsewhere is that is lucky enough to be in the capitol city of the great state of texas. nothing else really sets it apart. a&m has set itself apart despite being in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. a&m does a lot and basically gets little recognition. i think the thing is that a&m is strong in the sciences but could give a rats ass about everything else. so people think aggies are a bunch of hicks. the following is a list of a&m's awesomeness. please contribute more points of greatness in the comments as i am sure i left out many.

                      1. the mars lander that found ice at the poles. an aggie is the head of that mission.
                      2. norman bourlag. basically saved the indian continent from starvation. got a nobel prize and almost no popular recognition.
                      3. root stock from grape vines discovered by an a&m professor saved the french wine industry from a grape blight. old grape vines in france still are growing on texas a&m roots.
                      4. i believe half of all officers who served in ww II came to a&m to get trained.
                      5. oil, all of it flows through a&m on its way to the rest of the world. i am pretty sure this is true.
                      6. robert gates. the only one with a brain in the whole bush administration. and they stole him from a&m.
                      7. a&m has an extension station in every county in texas. every damn county.
                      8. replant. big event. the largest volunteer organizations of any american university.
                      9. silver taps. muster.

                      Trailer Treasure

                      Jun 26, 2008, 9:11 am by Lew

                      My esteemed fellow blooger, Mr. Z.P. Cress and I were discussing country living recently. He was looking at houses in the country and was displeased that a large number of available houses are trailers. I totally understand the bad taste "trailer" leaves in one's mouth. however, i think the trailers' reputation is a bit undeserved. how is a trailer any less respectable than living in an apartment? the only reason trailers are looked down on is because of the stereotypes of the people who live in them. i have known respectable, intelligent, all around good people who don't like city life. for the price of renting a tiny apartment one gets a little piece of land and a trailer to live in. young people usually begin independent life in the city by renting an apartment. it makes sense to me that a trailer is the country equivalent. you can't afford a plantation home yet, but you want to live out in the country, so you go with what you can afford. nothing wrong with that. make it tasteful, don't pile car parts in the yard. do it right and i bet no one would notice your house is a trailer.

                      Good Morning, jiffy lube sucks

                      Jun 25, 2008, 10:53 am by Lew

                      You have aquired lube cannon.this morning is an example of how to start your day. rachel is taking a day off because she can (I wish I had that many days off left to use). she woke up with me and we made eggs, toast and coffee and had breakfast on our back porch. there were birds squaking in the trees and we translated bird screeches into english (male bird, "haaaaave sex with me!!!" female bird, "nooooooo!"). I then went for a quick swim, which was fantastic. i plan on having a post soon about my pool addiction. the water was crisp and clear and the sky was gorgeous. then i took a hot shower and sweat shave. then i squeezed in a quick level of mega man 6. the double "w" house is in a n.e.s. renaissance. then finally left to work, just a touch late, but that is not a big deal.

                      i was late to work because of jiffy lube. not because of breakfast, birds, swimming, showering or mega man 6. i had my oil changed at jiffy lube a couple days ago. i noticed my car had been riding strangely since the oil change. on a hunch i checked my tire pressure and it was 7 lbs lower than i keep it. while i was at jiffy lube they said they adjusted the pressure on my tires for me. i thought it was strange to adjust tires that are hot from the road but it's part of the service. well it wasn't a good idea. my milage has been crap since i had my oil changed. the caps on the tires were barely on. and they left a freaking wrench on the rim below my windshield. that place is a freaking scam, but it is the only oil shop near my lab. they always call you out to see your air filter to show you how dirty it is. yeah of course the air filter in my car is dirty, that means it is working! they adjusted my tire to 40psi, crazy high and i told them to bring it back to the 32f/30r that honda recommends. which lead to my underinflated tires. so long story longer, i reinflated my tires on my way to work and my car felt much better. though that made me a few minutes late. which no one noticed.

                      i need to learn to change my own oil so i don't have to pay scam artists $30 for 5 minutes worth of work.

                      At least I have my books…

                      Jun 24, 2008, 10:56 am by Paul Stiverson

                      On Sunday I took my mac to the shop, it has been doing this weird thing where the left side of the screen is occasionally dimmer than the right, and since I’m less than 10 miles away from an Apple store (in any direction), and 8 miles away from Apple headquarters (south, in Cupertino) I figured now would be the appropriate time to have it looked at. I had kinda hoped they would say, “Oh, yours is broken; here is a new one with a nice LED backlit glossy screen,” but instead they said, “Oh, we’ll need to send this in for repairs, it will most likely be back on Thursday.” I’m still hoping that it will be un-repairable so I can get a new one with a nice LED backlit glossy screen.

                      The moral of the story is that I’m without a computer until Thursday, thankfully the fine IT department hooked me up with a loaner for use at work (G4 PowerMac, 2003) that should tide me over until I get mine back.

                      cats, sans lol

                      Jun 23, 2008, 10:56 pm by Lew

                      your cat would eat you if you were smallerWhat is the deal with people and cats? i was at a group function with what i would call hip young people, probably about 10 people at this gathering. we jokingly started talking about our cats in the way old people do, but the joke stopped and the cat talk continued. where were the dogs in the conversation? let me say, i like cats, i have a cat. except during college i have always had a cat. i love all animals i would have one of everything on earth if i could. i think on some level we can relate to any animal. but i think dogs and humans have a special relationship. we see our favorite human characteristics in dogs and they see their's in us. since we came out of the trees canines and humans have been growing closer, relying on each other more. dogs would not be here without us (wolfs would, but not dogs) and who knows maybe we would have been eaten by saber tooth tigers were it not for our canine companions. in the last couple years, for the first time in american history the cat has been more popular than the dog as a pet. cats have their place in our homes, but they are not our partner in the way dogs are. they like us and give companionship but really it is a relationship of convienience for them. they eat our pests, we give them a home. we feed them, they return with purring and nuzzling. but most of the time they could care less about us. what does it say about as a people that we are becoming cat people? what does it say about our society? cats are an easy pet. they don't need walks. they don't really need our companionship. are we getting lazy? are we going for the easy pet? are we becoming more like cats? we would rather lay on the couch and sleep than chase a fish in the river? this bothers me people. i must confess i do not currently have a dog. i can't bring myself to keep a dog in my tiny apartment all day. but in my ideal world our dogs would be our constant companions. not in the way but there. riding in the backs of our (solar powered) trucks. curled up under our desks at work. and making sure we get outside and run and play a bit. cats are good but when have you seen a cat ride in a truck bed? or help a person catch food? never. they are sweet. a cat (that is friends with the dog) is part of my american dream. but i am a bit disturbed by the penchant for cats that i am perceiving. maybe it is because i am living in a real city for the first time in my life (el paso does not count) because this preference is new to me. dogs are popular in austin. it is a dog friendly city. i think what i am getting at is i want a dog!!!

                      edit: this was sort of prompted by sam's post below. it in no way is meant to denigrate him or his kitties. they are good kitties and he's a good guy. but people get some dogs! seriously. if i could i would have an actual wolf and it would protect me from other native tribes. i will settle for a siberian husky and tennis ball though.


                      Jun 22, 2008, 9:50 pm by Sam

                      garbage loretta cressIf there's one thing I hate, it's women who watch Sex and the City and agree with it and think that all men are pigs or bumbling buffoons who can't function without women. What I also hate about the show is that it tells single women that it's not their fault that they're single--it's men's fault because they're pigs and/or bumbling buffoons. The whole damn show sold itself as a feminist empowerment thing, but all it did was set the movement back about 30 years.

                      This said, I have a Sex and the Cityesque poast, al reves. I don't want anyone here to think that I'm some sad guy all bitter and shit. Don't get me wrong. I get laid like a madman. I got two blowjobs just last night. However, I was thinking about it today and I realized that my ideal woman shares a lot in common with my cat, Garbage Loretta. I come home and she's happy to see me. She gives me some affection and we both eat dinner. I cook whatever I want and she's happy with whatever I give her. After we've eaten, we each go about our own business. Most of the time I read the intertubes or work on my thesis or read or watch TV. She terrorizes the other cat (Ginger) or just entertains herself with whatever she can find. When it's time to go to bed, she crawls into bed with me and gives me little kisses. I rub on her and give her love, but when I'm ready to go to sleep, she respects that and goes to sleep on the floor or in a chair or in another room. She and I both do not like to be touched or near another body during sleep.

                      I reckon what I'm trying to say is that I wish women would be less clingy and only get all up ons when it's obvious that I want it. This may (and probably does) make me sound like a pig and/or bumbling buffoon, but c'est la vie. I am a man and I think like a man, no matter how liberal and progressive I may vote.

                      Only at NASA

                      Jun 22, 2008, 11:44 am by Paul Stiverson

                      Last night I watched Star Wars (Eps. 4 et 5) with four other people. This in-and-of-itself isn’t too strange, I’ve watched Star Wars in groups before, what was strange is that I was the only guy in the room. That’s right, there are an abundance of girls here, and they are the types of girls that like Star Wars.

                      FakeEdit: Upon review of this statement I realize that I know lots of girls who like Star Wars, but scarcely have I seen four girls in one room watching it. Also, these aren’t the weird sorts of girls who play D&D and claim to be pagan… but they are into science and shit, which is cool. I think Rachel would fit right in here.

                      Sausage Fest

                      Jun 21, 2008, 12:37 am by Lew

                      Now don't get me wrong, I am as much a fan of meat and spices encased in intestinal lining as anyone but I realized that this place is a freaking sausage party. I tried enticing Rachel to thismatters but yeah she already has no dearth of interweb opportunities. What I am sayin is "where the bitches at?!" Paul get some girls up in this place, and some black people and an eskimo up in here. Sorry mark and trey if you are black eskimo girls, I don't know you and I am assuming you are not. ladies if you are reading this, consider mattering with us. we need someone to teach us how to dress better and to snuggle our posts up next to after a hard days blooging.

                      yeah this entry is a good idea. right?

                      Hell is other people

                      Jun 20, 2008, 4:06 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      Every time a certain one of my office-mates talks I want to knock his fucking teeth in. It kills me because he is really argumentative, and he speaks in a monotone. Not only does he speak in a monotone, but he doesn’t shut up—his method of winning arguments is to pummel you with non-sensical tangents until you get sick of hearing his voice. Also, by talking constantly it prevents you from getting a word in, thus your thoughts get backed up in your head and you start forgetting things that you were going to use as counter arguments. He is a pretty smart guy, and he usually has the right idea, but he needs to revise his style of debate in order to not drive everybody around him crazy.

                      thrown to the sharks

                      Jun 20, 2008, 4:04 pm by Sam

                      But not the fun sharks at Qua where Lewis works. Instead I was thrown to the biotech sharks, also where Lewis works. Interviews are weird. I'm terrible at them. What's my greatest weakness? Not being able to answer stupid questions that don't pertain to the job. What interpersonal skills would I bring to the team? I'm not an asshole and I bathe regularly. Tell us about a situation in which you had a conflict with a coworker and how did you resolve it? I work with a foreign girl who has no common sense and messes things up a lot. I resolve it by telling her to quit fucking it up.

                      Of course, these were not the answers I gave. Instead I gave the generic answers that I assume interviewers are looking for. Or maybe not. Maybe if someone actually said things like "I'm not an asshole," they might throw their hands in the air, shout hallelujah and ask me to start next week at twice the pay over the regular PCR monkeys.

                      In other news, I think I may have put my underwear on backwards this morning. Everything feels off.

                      I am internet famous by association

                      Jun 19, 2008, 11:42 pm by Lew

                      Brad Neely and the real Baby CakesTonight me and some fine folks (john, jade, vince, finacee rachie and sarah) went to the Alamo drafthouse downtown for the Brad Neely Animation showcase. Mr. Neely was there in person and I got my picture with him in person. excuse the ugly dude in the picture me i was drunk and it is an iphone in a dark room. If you are not familiar with the name Brad Neely he is the genius behind washington. It was a pretty great event and it was cool seeing Neely. He was hilarious and incredibly shy.

                      if you like washington he has more on super deluxe


                      Jun 19, 2008, 12:10 am by Lew

                      It is Juneteenth people. The anniversary of Texas slaves being set free and the future anniversary of Sam's interview that gets him a job at Agilent. Get some fresh batteries and start sending out good vibes.

                      Tuesday Night Dance

                      Jun 18, 2008, 12:19 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      I found out that there are dance lessons here (on base) every Tuesday from 5–9 which is pretty sweet, This month they were doing the Society Tempo Two-step—which is really quite different from the C&W two-step that most of the readers are familiar with. I came in a bit late on the lessons (like 2 weeks late) but was able to keep up with the class, and I feel quite comfortable doing the dance. After about two hours of two-step we moved on to a crazy salsa-square dance hybrid—called La Rueda—that was really quite fun. Everybody forms a big circle and there is a dude calling out steps to perform and ever so often all the leaders move to the next follower in the circle.

                      I’ve never been a big fan of salsa dance, but I think I could get into it, it was pretty enjoyable; also it might give me a way to dance to the hip-hop music they play at The Hall.

                      Alright, lets do a little TAAS review, this is an analogy that is quite fitting, “mexicans:Texas::asians:the bay area”. I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but I hadn’t realized the degree to which this holds.

                      Facebook advertisements «Part 2»

                      Jun 16, 2008, 3:53 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      herpes advertisementPass it back, Ags, WTF Facebook.

                      I guess it isn’t really facebook’s fault that this ad exists, though. How specific will dating sites become before they become passé? Are you looking for single transgendered multi-racial midgets—err, little people; I’ve got just the site for you.

                      Weird happenings

                      Jun 14, 2008, 10:11 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      To start off the day I went and had breakfast after dropping somebody off to pick up a rental car, the place we went for breakfast was a small taqueria—with roughly the same decorations and smells you would expect in a Tex-Mex Taqueria; however this place was different in a significant way to any taqueria I had been in up to this point. They didn’t have breakfast tacos.

                      THEY DIDN’T HAVE BREAKFAST TACOS.

                      If you call a place a taqueria and it doesn’t have tacos then you should expect to be fucking deported (to the fucking sun). When I asked if they would whip me up a taco, the waitress looked at me kinda funny, but agreed. When she brought them out they were on corn tortillas; I almost had a conniption fit.

                      Quite a bit later we went out to dinner—which was fantastic, but not the point of the story—and as we crossed an intersection on the way back to the car we heard an exclamation, “I’m turning right, bitch,” we quickly found the source of the statement, a black guy in his teens giving a mexican a pump on his bike. It was quite reasonable in retrospect, bikes don’t have blinkers.

                      Further down the street I heard a street musician playing “Wagon Wheel” on his guitar, which made me quite happy.

                      The Hulk, Incredible

                      Jun 14, 2008, 1:47 pm by Paul Stiverson

                      Last night I went with some folks to see The Incredible Hulk, it was really pretty good. Of course, I’ve been a long time fan of Ed Norton, he is a tremendous actor, and Liv Tyler made a good supporting actress. I really liked that Marvel just disregarded the previous movie by the same title, sort of a redo, but this time they got it right.

                      A guy—Ben—who is spending the summer with Google is staying in the dorms here, he suggested we go see it, and mentioned that he had ticket vouchers (which Google gives their employees apparently) so we could see it for free. While standing in line to cash in the vouchers a guy approached us and asked if we wanted free tickets. I cautiously said yes, expecting to have to sign up for a credit card or some nonsense, but was just handed a free ticket (actually four, one for everybody) by a dude who said the theater wouldn’t give him a refund. Despite the fact that I was going to get a free ticket anyway I was still stoked.

                      I gonna be a husband

                      Jun 12, 2008, 11:24 pm by Lew

                      pngaged!Two weeks ago today my girlfriend became my fiancee rachel! this is the official interweb announcement. We have been dating for 5 years 3 months. i asked her at a candy store down the street from our apartment. the candy shop is called big top candy shop, it awesome and if you are in austin you are required to buy candy from them. the ring was in the case with the chocolates and i "ordered" the ring and bam! one knee will you marry me the whole shebang. last weekend we went to dallas so I could ask her parents permission to marry her. it is the gentlemanly thing to do. so she said yes, we are so lovey it disgusts the world but get used to it cause we are together for next few decades at least (would you put your brain in a robot body?)
                      engagement ring can haz a flavor

                      He Gonna Be A Doctor Son

                      Jun 12, 2008, 10:55 am by Lew

                      Science!On monday my good friend vince nieto passed his preliminary exams in the microbiology program at t.u.- Austin. I would like to use this entry to say congratulations sir. If you are not familiar with the process of a biology PhD know that it is grueling. I didn't last a year in my program. Vince was in the same time as me and through an herculaian amount of work and a ventnerian amount of genius he has qualified and is now a phd candidate. In addition to be a microbiological champion he maintains a darn good bloog. madpimpvince check it out after refering 10 of your friends to thismatters.net.

                      Desktop background

                      Jun 11, 2008, 11:23 am by Paul Stiverson

                      Historically I’ve used a solid color (usually a dark grey) as my desktop background because I didn’t see much point in having a picture back there. But three days ago I made a move that has made me undyingly happy every time I’ve caught a glimpse of an empty desktop; I made Theodore Mewsevelt my centered background pic. A glorious move.
                      he’s so cute

                      Worthless people piss me off

                      Jun 11, 2008, 12:32 am by Paul Stiverson

                      When it comes to conversation there are several types of people out there, there are the proficient people—those who always have something to add that is at least mildly interesting. Then we have the pensive folks—they aren’t always talking, but when they are it is extremely worthwhile. The third group rarely has anything interesting to say, but they make up for it by rarely speaking. The fourth group is the one that everybody should strive to avoid (both being around these people, and being these people) and these are the ones who have nothing to add to conversation but feel the incessant need to talk.

                      These folks are either oblivious to the fact that they are uninteresting, or they may know that they are uninteresting but try to make up for it with quantity, a third possibility is that they are nervous and thus get diarrhea of the mouth (these are the best because once they collect their thoughts they improve). Needless to say they are quite annoying. There is one such character here (that I’ve met at least), and despite trying to avoid him he will occasionally catch me for a ride to the supermarket or dinner thus putting me in a position where I will hear his wannabe clever comments (I hesitate to list his name, in the event that he happens upon this post and has ready access to a handgun). I really want to tell him to shut the fuck up until he has something interesting to contribute to the conversation, but that is a little harsh; it would be optimum if I could meet a few other “type fours” and get them to all lump together into a quagmire of uninteresting bleating. At least one of them would have to notice that the others were boring and talkative, and hopefully he would realize that he was that guy in a normal group and remedy his ways. Like a support group for the socially awkward.

                      That is, in fact, a very fitting definition for Cepheid Variable; it lets people learn how to negotiate social situations without burdening (or bludgeoning) the rest of us with their braying (there are some social butterflies in Cepheid, but the general populace should be considered a “type four” until they prove otherwise). I am fully aware—with the benefit of hindsight—that I was once a “type four,” but I like to think that I have grown (mostly) out of that phase… if I’m wrong please, please let me know so I can fix the situation.

                        Palo Alto, Stanford visited by Interns

                        Jun 8, 2008, 11:23 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        Today we went to downtown Palo Alto (a city near where I’m living). We went and had lunch and just walked around for the most part. After we finished up there we headed onto the Stanford campus—which is in Palo Alto—to see what it is about. There happens to be a pretty nice museum there with a permanent display of statues by Auguste Rodin including The Thinker, Adam, Eve, and The Gates of Hell. They were awesome, but my favorite was The Kiss—it was amazing to see. One thing I noticed about Rodin’s work is the scaling, a great deal of the characters were larger than life, but their feet were enormous, they totally didn’t scale with the subject, but that’s cool, it was probably a limitation of the medium… make the feet and legs too small and the heavy as shit marble (which they very well could have been re-sculpted in at some point in time) could collapse. The majority of the statues were reproductions—of course—and were bronze (which made me think of a Tom Goes to the Mayor episode).

                        Facebook advertisements

                        Jun 7, 2008, 8:40 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        Hot Christian SinglesThe absurdity of facebook advertisements has reached astounding levels. I present the figure at right, which purports that I can meet “Hot Christian Singles” which is not (necessarily) a ridiculous notion, I’ve usually found Christian girls to be agreeable. What really stands out about this particular advertisement is the model they chose to represent the Christian single that I can supposedly meet, now I’m not claiming that this particular gal isn’t a Christian, she may very well be quite pure and pious. I’m not sure if it is the 6 months worth of tanning to achieve that level of bronze, the enormous (presumably fake) breasts, or her particular method of displaying said breasts, but she doesn’t strike me as the paradigm case of a Christian girl. Far be it from me to say that a Christian must look a certain way, but seriously, there is a limit to the level of vanity that should be displayed by the little Christs among us.

                        The next question has nothing to do with the picture. If you are claiming to be a Christian male shouldn’t you be seeking to look past the physical appearance of your potential lovers in order to forge a meaningful and spiritual relationship? It seems to me that looking exclusively for the “Hot” is more than a little sacrilegious.

                        What would Jesus do?
                        I’d hit it

                        yes i felt awkward, it was weird

                        Jun 7, 2008, 5:49 pm by Trey

                        so first off, anyone who know me in the least bit, knows that i live for and strive on incredibly awkward moments pertaining to and ranging from just about anything and everything.

                        this however, made me feel incredibly inferior to about 5 coworkers that... well let's just say, there is no way i am inferior to them, except maybe that i can't place in the special olympics; well, they aren't really retarded, but they are about as smart as my fossil wallet (on one of it's bad days at that).

                        anyway, what happened; we were casually jesting with one of our coworkers (who is afraid of his own shadow mind you) about roosters and how mean and forceful they can be. the conversation quickly escalated and a joke was made about one tripping him and pecking his eyes out. me, being the idiot that i am, knowing good and well that no-one in the lunch-room would catch the reference, quickly popped off
                        "quoth the raven, nevermore!"
                        loud enough to get the attention of everyone (which i soon realized i didn't want). well after this clever moment (so i thought), all conversation ceased for about 10 seconds and they just looked at me with a blank stare, and i swear i got a telepathic message from every one of them saying "...huh?"

                        needless to say, that was the end of our lunch and for probably the second time in my entire life, i actually felt awkward.

                        Silly gays, marriage is for straights.

                        Jun 5, 2008, 10:51 am by Paul Stiverson

                        Some of you might know that the California Supreme Court recently legalized gay marriage by declaring an adopted proposition (voted on by the populace) to be unconstitutional (Essentially the same scenario that played out in Massachusetts). The ’packers can officially become man-and-man on June 17. I personally support gay marriage, but the timing of the decision couldn’t be worse… we are in the middle of an election cycle, and with the present division in the democratic party the last thing we need is some new proposition bringing out the queer-fear voters in droves, and wouldn’t you know it but a ‘Limit to Marriage’ proposition has already gathered the million signatures required to put it on the November 2008 ballot.

                        It is widely hypothesized that John Kerry would be the president if it weren’t for the gay marriage proposition on the Ohio ballot in 2004.1 The last hope for McCain is to work on the Obama-Clinton division voters and play hard on the “sanctity of marriage” crowd in California. Although that might even fail since there is a majority of Californians who support butt-buddy-betrothal,2 but if McCain can convince enough Hillanuts to stay home then he might just take California, and push us further into our conservative tailspin. Needless to say, if this happens I will be a bit upset at gay people for once again selfishly thinking that they somehow deserve “marriage equality”.3


                        1. Bush’s 2004 ‘Mandate’ (more like man-date lol)
                        2. 51-42% support gay marriage, 7% have no opinion
                        3. This would be the perfect place for an irony mark, also, I apologize to any gays who I offended with words like “butt-buddy” or “’packers,” but you guys have the best slurs… suck it up. (pun intended?)

                        Barack Wins

                        Jun 4, 2008, 12:35 am by Paul Stiverson

                        See title.

                        Barack Obama will be the democratic presidential nominee. I’m as excited for the future as I have ever been, more excited than I’ve ever been—even counting the day before my birthday. It is truly a great time to be an American.

                        By the way, my mom thinks Barack is the anti-christ, I just think she has fallen victim to her newfound moneyed lifestyle… she has become an upper-class republican who is afraid of a change in the status quo.

                        A San Francisco Treat

                        Jun 2, 2008, 12:39 am by Paul Stiverson

                        Some fellow interns and I went to San Francisco today. We drove out to Mountain view, about a mile, and took the train out to the city. The train was packed due to the Giants game, but we made it without incident. The CalTrains line ends on Fourth street, about 5 blocks from the heart of downtown, and on the way downtown we stopped for lunch at the Fourth Street Bar and Deli. We finally made it Fourth and Market and we quickly realized that we had no idea where anything was, so we went to a Walgreens and bought a map. We weren’t far from the Museum of Modern Art so that was our first stop. Luckily we were there on some kinda family day so admission was free. After browsing that we hit up the Comic Art Museum, but it was almost closing time so we only got 30 minutes in there, but we got in for half price because of the hour… yes Mark there was a Captain America board or two.

                        Next, we hiked up the road a ways and caught a Cable Car toward the Fisherman’s Wharf. Riding on the Cable Car was really cool, I feel stupid saying it, but it’s true. Everything on them is manual, at the turnarounds the operators get out and physically rotate the car then push it back onto the main track (so it can engage the cable), on the main track the driver is pulling levers like a madman to engage the cable or apply the brakes, all the while the backman is communicating with the frontman using a bell. The hills that these things have to climb are freaking serious too.

                        Once we hit the end of the line we decided it was time for some dinner so we found a resturaunt, Mood—Thai, Sushi, and more. I had Green Curry with Beef, it was amazing. Then we hit the Wharf and got a good look at the bay. The whole day it was quite cold, around 55ºF, but near the bay it was about 5º cooler and much windier, thus we decided it was time to call it a day. When we got to the other turnaround we found a really long line (to get on the Cable Car) so we decided to hike up the hill to the next stop in hopes of finding a spot to stand. Damn, that hill was fucking steep, but by the third stop we were able to catch a car. This time I was holding on around the perimeter (even cooler than before). We walked back to the train station and caught our ride back to Moffett, happy to find that my car hadn’t been towed.

                        Sushi Bar

                        May 31, 2008, 12:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        Last night a co-worker, Heather, and I went out for some sushi at a place in downtown Mountain View. It was quite good if a little overpriced. The coolest thing was the method they used to distribute the sushi, they had a trough that ran along the inside of the oval shaped bar, and in the trough they had water flowing around the circuit and wooden boats drifting—all were connected by rope to keep them evenly spaced—carrying their sushi cargo. As the little dishes were removed by patrons (or chefs noticing that they had been on there too long) they were replenished by the chefs in the center of bar. Each of the dishes had two or three pieces of sushi (there were a few with adamame), and the dishes were color—or rather pattern—coded as to the price of the dish, so when you are done eating the waitress comes over and counts ’em up and gives you the bill.

                        It just occurred to me that this might not be the novel Idea that I think it is, but it’s pretty damn cool, and I’ve never seen it before.

                        You never loved your friends, my friends, as I will love my foes!

                        May 30, 2008, 11:26 am by Paul Stiverson

                        I’ve never been one for a poem
                        I’ve found them a waste of time
                        try and toil, studying a tome
                        never can make sense the rhyme.

                        Lo, this morn that did revise
                        no word, no sound hit my ear
                        but a verse opened my eyes
                        Everything finally made clear.

                        Enough with that gayety, on to the point of this post. This morning I was making my usual rounds, checking blogs, reading webcomics, and rather than the typically hilarious, sarcastic post from Paul Burns for America I found a glorious poem by a Gilbert Chesterton. It honestly did change my opinions of poetry… I hate to say it (because I thought it a contradiction), but this poem is fucking awesome. I leave you with a stanza.

                        The tide of battle changes, so may all battle be
                        I stole my lady bride from them; they stole her back from me
                        As I wrenched her from her red roofed halls, I rose and saw arise
                        More lovely than the living flowers, the hatred in her eyes
                        She never loved me, never wept, never was less divine
                        And sunset never knew us, her world was never mine
                        Was it all for nothing that she stood, imperial in duresse
                        Silence itself made softer with the sweeping of her dress
                        O you who drain the cup of life! O You who wear the crown!
                        You never loved a woman's smile as I have loved her frown!

                        The poem that opened the post was all me by the way.

                        OSX complaint

                        May 28, 2008, 6:39 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        Before any of you Windows types pipe up with your nonsense, this is just a cosmetic complaint, and it is a cosmetic complaint on something that Windows hasn’t stolen borrowed yet. Stacks.

                        Stacks is an awesome addition to the Dock that allows you to easily and quickly view the contents of a directory, for instance one of the default Stacks is the ‘Downloads’ directory (showing what you have downloaded from the internets). Now, for the complaint. The views that are available are limited by the placement of the dock. I prefer to keep my dock on the right side of my screen—it feels natural there, and since I have a wide screen it dominates less real estate over there—but while it is over there I can’t view my Stacks as a fan (below).

                        Fanned Stack

                        Instead I can only get a Grid view (below)

                        Gridded Stack

                        I know that a fanned stack would look kinda silly coming from the side of the screen, and that the file name would have to be oriented in a funny way, but damnit I want the option.

                        what do i live for now??

                        May 27, 2008, 9:26 pm by Trey

                        so first off, of course, i would like to thank mr. stiverson for setting me up with the ability to jot down my nonsense every now and then. i really don't know why anyone would want to necessarily read anything i may be thinking, but it gives me something to do... so thanks paul

                        so now, which would be the purpose of this entire post, you get to read about my last two days and discover the meaning to the depressing title i gave it

                        call me weird or strange if you must, but i have grown up in a family of aggies; and by family i pretty much just mean my father and my uncle. which, if you are an aggie (and i'm sure anyone reading this more than likely is) you would know that 2 people is 1 person more than it requires to persuade anyone to become a part of this 'cult' if i may call it what it truly is. being raised in various bars by my father, granted that probably wasn't the best [insert good christian raisin' here], it taught me much about life and people (mainly how stupid they are, but that's an entire 'nother post for a much later date).

                        anyway, im getting off topic; back to being raised by my father.

                        this is where i think im going to get a few weird looks, i used to sleep (when i was little of course) with my fathers aggie ring on my bed-stand right next to my head, and would stare at it basically until i fell asleep. granted i did not do this constantly, but on several occasions do i have distinct memories of this and some wonderful resulting dreams that have stayed with me through the years.

                        well today, at approximately 9:55 AM i ordered my very own aggie ring. i have been waiting for the ability to do this since i started thinking cognitively, and no that's not an exaggeration; shortly after ordering the ring while walking back to my truck i came to the realization that this is what i have been living for (call it sad if you wish) for many many years now. when i had this enlightening moment of sorts, it came to me as quite a shock because i usually do not put so much meaning on such physical possessions; however all here i think can attest with me that this simple 'physical possession' has a very deep and non-physical meaning to it shared by countless aggies around the world. to sum that entire thing up, my day started off very kick ass and i can't wait until september 19th.

                        now for the end to my day:

                        i have been saying for about a year and a half now that the day i order my ring (well i guess it would be ordered now) i was going to get a tattoo. although many thoughts of it ran through my mind, of course it all remained centered around a single thing. texas a&m...duh, but when i sat down and started playing in photoshop the night before i ordered (this would be monday), i decided that i wanted to add a little bit of a texas swing to it. i came up with a couple of fairly good ideas, but was pressed for time and did not get to fully map anything out in photoshop very well. so i just decided i would get the standard block atm on my left shoulder.

                        when i got to poking you tattoo (which, by the way, impressed the hell out of me) i spoke with one of the artists there named derek. he was very helpful and drew up the sketch for the block atm that i wanted. just as he finished i had a revelation. i had just thought of the perfect addition to this tattoo and quickly asked him if he could do something to implement the idea. he and several other customers in the store caught me completely off guard and made me gag a little bit by their lack of knowledge on the "come and get it!" flag. i quickly pulled up a picture of it on his laptop and he had a sketch of something that appealed to me beyond belief within 15 minutes (again, super impressed).

                        all-in-all the tattoo went very well, i am extremely pleased with it. as for the pain, i am a skinny bastard, so unfortunately it hurt a little bit even on top of my fairly high pain tolerance, but i really only winced when he had to basically tattoo the damn bone of my shoulder blade.

                        ATM come and take it!

                        i apologize for the extremely long post, but it is my first one and i had quite a bit to share. until next time! -trey


                        May 26, 2008, 3:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        You might have noticed, from my last post, that I have become a bit forgetful. I left my book in two different places, and I also lost my pen, which is something that usually doesn’t happen.

                        Apart from reading Snuff on the plane I also read, The Last Lecture. In it the author talks about achieving goals you set as a child.

                        You might ask what the last two paragraphs (sentences) have to do with anything, and the answer is simple. I’ve been forgetful lately because I’ve been distracted—I’m not going into details as to the nature of this distraction, suffice it to say that my focus in life has been distracted. The distraction has been present for some time, but the recent move to California has exacerbated it, and it has to very much to do with one of my (the only notable) childhood dreams. I have decided how I will relieve the distraction, but alas it is something that would be terribly difficult to do from here, so this distraction will have to remain in place until the Fall.

                        Trip Itinerary, a retrospect.

                        May 26, 2008, 1:46 am by Paul Stiverson

                        On Thursday I took a short lunch and took off from work a little early, I went back to the dorm and packed all the stuff I had set out into my backpack, grabbed my book, and was southbound on the 101 by 5:15. Unfortunately I was on the 101 at 5:15 which meant I was mostly sitting still; it took over an hour to drive the 30 miles required to make it to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Now my flight to DFW was scheduled to leave at 7:10, so I was a bit nervous while navigating the labyrinth of overpasses leading into the airport but finally found a parking space in section E22 and after hastily grabbing my backpack, shoes, and book I started running (that’s right, running) to the check-in desk. I made it to the check in desk by 6:30 and thankfully there was no line, not even a hint of a line… I was the only person. I got my boarding pass and head to security—there were a few people in the security line, but no worries it seemed to be moving pretty quickly and my flight hadn’t even started boarding yet. About the time I took off my shoes and tossed them in the grey bucket/tray thing I realize that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) setting at the checkout line. I thought it would be a terrible tragedy to miss my flight on account of a paperback (no matter how engaging it is) so I chalked it up as a loss. I get chosen for a random security check, thankfully I left my bomb in my other backpack… close call. I throw my shoes back on (I didn’t bother to tie them) and head for my gate, stopping briefly on the way to see if the newsstand has any interesting books. After looking at the shelf full of Dean Koontz novels I decide that I can make the 3 hour flight without a book.

                        After boarding the plane I met a lovely young couple who were flying home to visit their families. The two were from Dallas, but had been living in the Bay Area for a few years. Really nice folks. The flight went smoothly—we left, and arrived on time. Mark was waiting for me, and we proceeded back to his house for the night.

                        In the morning we all got up and started getting our shit together for the drive to Bellville. I asked if we could stop on the way at a bookstore so I could pick up a new copy of Dreams From My Father, Mark obliged. The trip went smoothly, putting us in Bellville and at the church with enough time to change before the rehearsal dinner got underway. At the rehearsal I got to meet the bride’s two little brothers—who were serving as junior groomsmen—good kids. The rehearsal dinner itself was quite nice, we had mexican food which was quite delicious. Also, Andrew, the groom, presented us with our Groomsmen gifts, a slick Kershaw knife, which I had to leave in Texas because I wasn’t going to check any luggage on the return flight. During the dinner I was reminded of a story which I then told, and will eventually share here—“The Beanhole”. After the rehearsal dinner many of us retired to the hotel in Brenham to share a few beers and many laughs, Steven was kind enough to open his room to me for the night.

                        The day of the wedding we all congregated at the church to get ready, we took some pictures before everything got underway. Then the big moment was upon us. The bride’s mother misplaced the groom’s ring so we had to stall for a minute, the ring was eventually found, but not until after the ceremony—another groomsman volunteered his for the actual exchange.

                        At the reception I got to see most of my fish buddies, including one who had recently gotten back from Korea. Jenny was kind enough to make the trip down to be my date. Dancing ensued. After the reception I retired to The Woodlands with Mark and company to bed down for the night.

                        The following afternoon (today, mind you), Mark’s mom gave me a ride to Bush Intercontinental for my connecting flight to DFW. About halfway to IAH I realized that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) sitting on her counter, I declined her invitation to turn around and get it, deciding that Mark could mail it to me along with my knife. I entered IAH at approximately 12:40 with plenty of time to catch my 2:05 flight, I knew little of the ordeal that awaited me on the other side of that security station. I stopped at a book shop in IAH and bought a book, Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk, then made my way to the gate in time to find that my flight had been delayed by half an hour. Eventually we board and make our way to DFW, a short flight. In DFW I check the departure screen to see that my intended connection is in the final stages or boarding, and in a different terminal; I make my way to the skylink and head toward gate D22 (from C18). Upon arrival I find that I have missed flight 39 and must try to board another flight. I make my way to gate A13 where I am able to get a ticket for the next outgoing flight. The plane that I should be boarding arrives and the passengers disembark, we all start to line up for the ensuing boarding frenzy, but are told that boarding will be delayed for mechanical reasons. We all take our seats. About an hour later the flight attendant comes back on the line and tells us that the flight has been cancelled, but not to worry, there are other flights leaving town and we will all have a place on one of them. After four hours in DFW I am finally boarding a plane to SFO where I will find that my book has disappeared into somebody else’s possession (not in the lost and found) and that I had parked in short term parking, I payed the $113 to get my car out of hawk and drove back to the dorm in the cold and uninviting 55º California night.


                        May 25, 2008, 7:17 pm by Lew

                        Lately I have come to appreciate service when I trading money for goods and service. I think it is because in the last year I have truly started supporting myself and have, at last, learned the value of a honest days pay for an honest days work. Or maybe just because I have money to I am buying things. I now patronize places where I receive good service. I like restaurants with good food and nice people, a bonus if they remember me next time I visit.

                        I was having a problem with an iPod dock that I bought at Fry's. I went to Fry's to get help with it and I was bascially chased out of the building rather than being helped. Out of desperation I popped into a nearby Apple store to see if they could help. Which they did without hesitation. I have not bought any yet but after the awesome treatment there I am switching to Apple comp. Dell has not been bad with their service but no where near as good. Today I bought a new digital camera. Normally I would go to Best Buy (I no longer go to Fry's) but decided to try a local camera shop first. Not only did they have every model of brand I like (Canon) but the prices were good and the people working there KNEW ABOUT CAMERAS. It was so nice getting a professional opinion. The camera lady stayed with us the whole time from looking until check out. Plus we got a free photo printer, reasonably priced 1G SD cards and the shop gives photography lessons free when you buy a camera. That my friends is service.

                        lewslist? lewreport? lewmazon?

                        May 23, 2008, 3:01 pm by Lew

                        Has the internet caused a new interest in reality? today after browsing craig's list and drudge's report it really hit me how amazingingly the internet lets regular people compete at the same level as those with much bigger bank accounts. regular people can't get a fm channel, or start a broadcast network. but they can start a website (this matters!). this low investment let some guy who posts links change journalism and a guy trying to sell an old car create a new nationwide commerce system. it boogles my googles! i feel lucky to have seen the internets birth. it really is like landing on a new continent. it is a frontier. the internet is north american 400 years ago, fertile and ready to be conquered (good thing there weren't any internatives to be given small pox).

                        i guess this is all very obvious, but it impressed me today and makes me want to get better at this thing called the internet. i can barely make seperate paragraphs here. how hard it is to learn how make one's own internet pages? where does one begin?

                        wow i totally got off topic. what the hell does my first sentence mean? i was goin going to write something really profound but went off on a pretty useless rant. i hope you enjoyed that rant though.


                        May 23, 2008, 1:57 pm by Lew

                        Dear the world: visit www.ta73.com. One it is my gf's website, but more importantly it is a great site from a great person. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating on ta73.com by being on thismatters.net but that is neither here nor there. I know Paul already has a link for her site but it deserves a link on every page. Her last post is totally emo, but don't assume it is all emo. If you like music, 8-bit games, or you are a cool person then you will like her site. oh and Paul, I'll work your backend.

                        Flight Simulator

                        May 22, 2008, 4:40 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        I just got back from watching a flight simulator demonstration/trial at one of the (many) flight simulators here on the Ames campus. It happened to be the same one that the Mythbusters used for the Talked Into Landing Myth, it was a really cool facility. They were running an experiment to test a new bit of feedback they are looking to give pilots in close proximity landing situations—where two planes are landing at nearly the same time on two runways that are close togethter.

                        New New Roommate

                        May 22, 2008, 10:42 am by Paul Stiverson

                        Following the debacle with my old new roommate I was assigned a new roommate, he is the fellow I mentioned in the post “New Friends,” Marco, from Italy. We have been hanging out a bit and he seems really cool. I am glad to have him as my roommate, as I would not want to live with some of the other folks I’ve met, they would get on my nerves.

                        This evening I will be flying to Texas (visiting the old country, as it were) for my buddy Andrew’s wedding, should my plane crash before I get over Texas it is all of y’alls responsibility to band together and drive to the crash-site and drag my charred remains back to Texas—immediately, I don’t want to have even cooled off from the inferno. In fact that goes for the entire time I’m out of state, if I die, get my dead ass back to Texas at once.

                        11th Commandment

                        May 21, 2008, 10:33 pm by Lew

                        Thou shall remove thy lint from thine line trap upon removing thine garments. Seriously people, if you share a laundry room with strangers have the decency to clean out the lint trap when you take out your drying. In fact you should do it before you take out your drying otherwise you end up getting lint on your clean clothes. I do not want to take out your pubic hair clogged lint ball before I dry my t-shirts. No one does. Except Rachel, she loves lint traps. So sayeth the Lord.

                        New Contributor

                        May 21, 2008, 11:25 am by Paul Stiverson

                        We have ourselves another new contributor, Trey, who will hopefully grace us with an introductory post—following Lew’s good example. I am still waiting for Mark to post the famous “Jacket Story”.

                        Internet Pornography

                        May 20, 2008, 1:25 pm by Paul Stiverson

                        I think we are all keenly aware of the ubiquitous nature of pornography on the internet, and I think we can all agree that it has always been the case that porn (perhaps in more primitive forms, lol the jpeg) was readily shared one the internet escaped Al Gore’s basement and became a public medium, and indeed was a driving force for the internet’s growth. Also we know that the internet has had a dramatic influence on our development—economic, scientific, academic, and societal—as a nation over the last 15 years (approximately). And now entire industries are run via the internet, including the “Adult Entertainment” one, which leads me to posit that a great deal of our economy—and likely your job1—is owed to porno.


                        1. Unless you are working on a Chicken Farm, Trey.

                          New Roommate

                          May 20, 2008, 5:11 am by Paul Stiverson

                          I met my roommate today, I wasn’t expecting him to get into town until Wednesday, but alas, he showed up today (well, yesterday actually, but since I haven’t slept I still consider now (today) to be part of yesterday). Bob—from Wisconsin—comes in as I was reading, introduces himself as my new roommate and then mentions that this is his third summer in the program and that he was hoping to room with his roommate from last summer. He went to the front desk and requested a different room; he was my roommate for about 15 minutes, no big deal, I like living alone. Anywho, after he got his stuff sufficiently moved into his room he came up and we (Bob, I, and Neuman—Bob’s preferred roommate) went to get some beer. The remainder of the night was spent talking about past summer experiences (boobs), science, boobs, and socialism. The latter topic ended up being the most lengthy bit of discussion by almost an order of magnitude. It was a good night.

                          Good night.

                          Unfied theory of girls and dance

                          May 19, 2008, 9:08 am by Paul Stiverson

                          In my ramblings I haver regularly talked about dancing, and today Thinkin’ Lincoln followed my lead. I have been of the opinion for some time that every girl (ever) loves to dance, no matter how bad they are at it. There are some who say, “Ugh, I hate dancing,” but they are simply covering up for the fact that they have never done it. Also, when a girl gets it in her head that she wants to dance, there is no avoiding it… you will be dancing by the end of the night or you will find yourself dateless. This doesn’t happen to be a problem for me because I’m always up for dancing (given the proper venue), but for some fellows I can see this as being an issue.

                          New Friends

                          May 18, 2008, 10:21 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          At last some new faces have started appearing on the balconies of the dorm I am staying in. Last evening I met a fellow—Marco, from Italy—who I had lunch with today. And this afternoon I met a young man who studies economics at Columbia, we had a brief discussion about Texas; he quizzed me on several Texan stereotypes which I readily dispelled (of course some of the stereotypes are accurate, so those I let stand). I feel that I will have the great honor to meet some interesting folks over the course of the summer. I’ll keep you posted.

                          I would like to formally welcome Lew and Mark as two new contributors to ramblings. I have no doubt that the current readership will enjoy what they have to offer. However, if you would choose not to read what they have to say you can always bookmark the link on the sidebar and only view a specific contributor’s contributions.


                          May 18, 2008, 6:58 pm by Lew

                          I would like to thank my gracious host Paul Stiverson allowing me to contribute to thismatters.net. Paul, your site is one of my favorites and it is an honor to be here, I hope to do you proud.

                          I will make my first real post soon. This post is so we can get to know each other. I am LEW. I live in Austin, TX with my lovely girl friend Rachel. A mean cat and two gay rabbits. I hope to share my exploits and thoughts. I am a full time biologist and part time shark wrangler. My interests are science, especially marine biology, Texas, delicious food (including the growing and preparation of it) and living well. I don't have anyone in particular I dislike, but I want to live well just in case I ever need to get revenge.

                          I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences and I hope to learn about yours, perhaps inspire you try something fun and new. Until next... catch phrase!

                          Dance Dance Revolution (part 2)

                          May 17, 2008, 1:57 am by Paul Stiverson

                          So the title of the previous post was some sort of crazy omen/prediction because there were a shitload of asian folks there, like well over 60%, then again I was pretty much in Silicon Valley so I don’t know why I was so surprised. The cover was $12, but it wasn’t really a bar per se because they didn’t serve alcohol, so I guess it is alright that the cover is high. The DJ left something to be desired… he didn’t have much personality, and the selection of music was pretty mundane; he did do one thing that was really nice though, he had a big board behind him where he posted what type of songs were coming up so you would know that the next song was going to be a waltz and two songs after that would be a tango (I might try to get that implemented at The Hall). The dance floor was large and well maintained, actually there were two dance floors, one for dancing and one for practicing. It was really funny to see all the tiny asian dudes dancing alone in front of a mirror, I’m only used to seeing one asian dude dancing funny.

                          The dancers left something to be desired, a majority of the ladies didn’t maintain a proper frame which makes the dances look sloppy. Although, there were a few really stand out dancers there, I’m thinking that the dance instructors (the place is actually a dance studio that holds dances on the weekend, so the instructors are copious) aren’t doing there jobs correctly. Altogether a pretty enjoyable night.

                          I miss my dance partners.

                          Dance Dance Revolution

                          May 16, 2008, 10:43 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          Last night was the first Thursday—apart from those adjacent to a major holiday—that I have not gone out dancing in some time. This upset me to a degree that I don’t expect many of you to understand. However I am overjoyed to say that I have found a place to go dance, the Starlite Dance Club; although it isn’t the type of dancing I typically do on a weekly basis it should be good enough to hold me over. I’ll still be on the lookout for a honky-tonk where I can drink a beer though.

                          I leave you with a Doug Moreland lyric:

                          I know I’ll never be homeless
                          long as there honky-tonk somewhere

                          One to Nine

                          May 15, 2008, 10:12 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          Do not, I repeat, Do not buy the book One to Nine. It is a horrid, incomprehensible piece of crap.

                          If I were Mr. Hodges editor/publisher I would have pulled the back of his shirt over his head and punched him in the face until he bled out from the massive facial injuries I imparted—I would have done this after reading a sample chapter of the stream of consciousness bullshit he calls writing.

                          That is all.

                          First Day of Work

                          May 15, 2008, 4:43 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          OMG I’m posting this from my office, behind two—count them, two—guarded fences. That’s right, I’m posting from inside the NASA Ames research facility in Moffett Field NAS. I’m not just wasting your time with this drivel I’m wasting the taxpayers’ time too (I guess that means you’re getting double wammied if you pay taxes). The downside to posting from work is that I’m using a Windows machine which means that I don’t have the handy language shortcuts that Macs utilize… so to make a proper apostrophe (’) I have to type ‘&#146;’, and for the em-dash (—) I have to type ‘&mdash;’; only a minor inconvenience.

                          The first day is going well, I’m mostly just getting caught up on the details of the project that I’ll be working on—which is actually pretty interesting. I’ll spend the next 2–3 days reading papers and asking questions in preparation to actually start working. I think I’ll really like it here, all the people seem friendly enough.

                          Every Thursday one of the fellows here, Ty, cooks “Texas Style” bar-b-que, and I got in on some of that action today. It was good, but not quite Texas Style… too sweet.

                          Extended first impressions

                          May 14, 2008, 2:26 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          I finally got some internet in my room so I’m going to post this update. My room reminds me of my first college dorm, McInnis Hall. It is a balcony style with the same feel to it, but the room is more spacious and each room has its own bathroom; also it has a ceiling fan, which is a major selling point.

                          I did a little research and determined that there is a laundry room available, and I took the opportunity to do some laundry yesterday. Let me tell you, this was an eerie experience. First, I had to walk two buildings over, which is no big deal. What is weird is that the two buildings—rather two sets of buildings (think Northside quad)—are completely vacant and should probably be condemned. However there are remnants of residents, like McDonald’s cups you can see through the barred windows, mattresses leaned against the walls, rusted out bikes, and an old rusty lamp. Also there are imposing asbestos warnings scattered about. I get passed those buildings to see, what can only be described as, a bunker surrounded by three more equally creepy buildings. This bunker is where I’m supposed to do laundry but there is no entrance that is readily apparent. I walk around to the other side to see a set of floor to ceiling windows and two entrances, through the windows I see the oldest television set I have ever seen (the kind you might have found in your grandma’s house when you were a kid), and a haggard looking couch and non matching chair. I fight my urge to vacate this particularly awkward locale and enter the key code on the door, I was hit by an odor I can’t quite describe—it wasn’t particularly strong, but it was noticeable. About half the carpet in the room is torn out, and there are no washers and driers that I can see, but there is an unexplored dark room. At this point I’m feeling a bit like Alice from Resident Evil, fully expecting to be attacked by an irradiated zombie. I walk into this dark area and fumble for the light switch, and when the lights click on I am presented with a room that is just weird, not frightening, just weird. First i was painted this peculiar shade of baby blue, it had exposed piping and ductwork (including a special duct for routing out the drier exhaust). It had 5 sets of washers and driers, but connections for up to eight. I can’t really place what was so weird feeling about this place, but damn, those elements had no business existing in the same room. Seriously, if that whole area were haunted by baby orphan souls I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. By the third time I went in there I had stopped being so weirded out by it, but didn’t really want to spend any more time in there than I had to. On my way out after collecting my dry laundry I noticed the asbestos warning on the bunker.

                          In fact the whole base has a palpable ghost town feel to it because most of the buildings are vacant and in shambles. Also there is a rather prominent airship hangar—Hangar 1, which has been vacant for some time due to the toxic nature of the materials with which it was consructed—that can be seen from all over the campus, which serves to show the age of the base. The parts that are inhabited are actually in quite good condition considering their age.

                          I’ve been going to lunch daily on this street near the base, Castro Street, which apparently only offers Asian, or Asian Fusion cuisine. It is pretty cool, but I’m concerned with the variety.

                          Overall, despite the attitude of this post, I am enjoying my stay thus far; I’ve been spending most of my time in my room, reading. I’ve read two books in as many days, and am about halfway through with the third, so I’m looking to keep my streak alive. It is nice to be reading again, between being social, school, work, dance lessons, and tutoring it was tough to find time back home; I’m sure that I will eventually fall back into not reading as time progresses this summer and I make some friends, but for now it is nice.

                          I start work tomorrow, so be prepared for a new update tomorrow.

                          Finally here

                          May 12, 2008, 5:44 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          28 hours of driving and I am finally to my destination—I’ve actually been here since about noon (PST) but I’ve just now found a place with internet. To be exact on my location, I am staying and working in Moffett Field, which is located at the south end of the San Francisco Bay (just north of Mountain View, which is where I am now eating some delicious Chinese food). When I got to Moffett I went into the place where I was supposed to check in only to find that I would be staying in—what is essentially—a hotel so as it turns out I didn’t need to bring any bedding and the like because there was fully made bed waiting for me. Guess I should have done some research before I left. I am pretty happy with the room, but I haven’t met my roommate yet, he doesn’t come in until the 21st, and I don’t get any internet in the room until my internship officially starts on the 15th.

                          The weather is anything but frightful, about 70º and sunny, there is a nice cool breeze blowing too. As for the last leg of the drive: it was pretty sweet, I passed about 50 miles of orchards and a dairy farm or two.

                          Oh yeah, I haven’t secured a PO Box just yet, but it is on the agenda for tomorrow.

                          For those interested, the total milage was 1891 miles.

                          Second day of Driving

                          May 12, 2008, 5:22 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          Foreword: This post was written at 1:17AM CST on May 12th. I drove another 13 hours or so and stopped in at a Motel 6 off of I-5.

                          The drive today was long, but not too bad overall. There was a truck driving, one of those car carriers, and it had a sweet looking wrecked Ferrari, it was totally demolished… there was no way the driver could have survived that wreck though. Also, I saw two carnival trucks. There was a bit of delay in Phoenix (Phoenix isn’t spelled the way it should be) because of some construction. I discovered that the mountainous desert landscape is really quite beautiful. In my last post I mentioned that it took 2 tanks of gas to get out of Texas, well it took 1.5 tanks to make it through New Mexico and Arizona (combined). As I rolled through southern California I went through a windfarm and thought I was going to be blown off the road. I got lost in Los Angeles so I stopped and got a map, and as it turned out I wasn’t that lost. Once I found my way to I-5 I was astounded by the views, it was amazing. I thoroughly suggest you traverse it sometime. Once you get past the mountainy part there is a long boring flat part, but fortunately there was an In-and-Out Burger before I undertook the flat part between Bakersfield and San Francisco. The burger was good, but it was no Whataburger. I’m about 100 miles Southwest of San Francisco and it is windy as all hell, and the Motel 6 doesn’t have any internet (contrary to their advertisement).

                          Upon proofreading this post I realize that it is pretty weak in the prose department, but as Ani says, “Ten hours of driving will make your mind kinda numb.” So back the fuck off.

                          First day of driving

                          May 11, 2008, 12:12 am by Paul Stiverson

                          I left College Station at approximately 10:20 CST and stopped in at a Best Western in Silver City, NM at 11:30 CST. It took two tanks of gas just to make it out of Texas, but the views in the Hill Country and West Texas were awesome. Tomorrow I’ll get up and do the same damn thing. I took some pictures on the way, I’ll post them on Monday when I arrive in California.

                          Last night in town

                          May 11, 2008, 12:02 am by Paul Stiverson

                          Foreword: this post was written on Saturday, May 10th at 12:30AM, but due to a lack of internet connectivity it wasn’t posted till now. Tonight marked my last night in College Station for the next few months, and for the first time I have truly realized that my friends are really great. All of the people (save a few) who I consider myself really good friends with came out to the Lakeside Icehouse for a Doug Moreland show. [Two who couldn’t make it were predisposed with graduating and watching the other one graduate.] It was the best sendoff to the wild blue yonder I could ask for. Keep checking in for [hopefully frequent] updates from California.

                          Dance Partners

                          May 9, 2008, 3:57 am by Paul Stiverson

                          About a year ago there was this gal, Liz, who would hang out at my bar. Every night she would dance with me to “The Road Goes on Forever” which is a notoriously long and fast song. While she wasn’t my first choice of people to dance with I didn’t mind dancing with her because she was reliable… I could count on her being there so it was important to keep a working friendship. Lately, however, her attendance on Thursday nights has been sparse—I know I’ll come off sounding terrible here—and as a result I don’t feel compelled to save her a dance. If you aren’t that good of a dancer and you aren’t reliable then you should be totally prepared to sit on the sidelines (as far as I’m concerned), because there are plenty of girls who do come out every week and who are better dancers.

                          Exchange of the night:
                          Me: Mallory, you are a habitual line stepper
                          Mallory: My friends call me bold
                          Kellan: I bowled a 220 last night


                          May 7, 2008, 1:17 am by Paul Stiverson

                          On Monday I rented a storage unit to keep all my crap in while I’m in California, and that was the first time that I caught a grasp of the magnitude of this move. Even though it is only for the summer it is easily the biggest upheaval of my life. I’m really excited to make the move, but at the same time I’m quite apprehensive about my living situation, and the job requirements.

                          Anybody want to come visit me over the summer?

                          Old Couples

                          May 4, 2008, 1:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          At the Hall last night there was a couple of old fogies—probably in their 70s—who where just dancing and having a good time. It makes me really happy to see old married couples who are staying active and still enjoying one another, still sharing a passion that they surely shared early in their relationship. I look forward to having those days.


                          Apr 29, 2008, 12:29 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          Okay bananas, this is your last warning, stop going bad so quickly. When ripe you taste delicious, but who really wants to eat 6 bananas in 3 days before you turn all brown and disgusting? Take a cue from apples and stay ripe a bit longer, if you really want to go for the gold talk to oranges. I swear I ate an orange that was 2 weeks old and it was juicy and delicious (maybe even a little fermented), if you left a banana sitting for 2 weeks it would be a puddle.

                          Driving School

                          Apr 25, 2008, 11:30 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          Today I was driving to Ingleside (where my parents live) and it became obvious that there are a whole bunch of people out there who never learned how to drive at driving school. They learned that they are supposed to keep the yellow line on the left and the white on the right, but they missed all the nuance and subtlety of driving. I’m sure that none of my readers fall into this class of ignorant drivers, but just for posterity I’m going to outline a few of the largely unlearned rules of the road.

                          Feel free to comment with any rules you feel should be added, if there is interest I will expand this to a page of its own.

                          The quote of the day comes from Mandy today: “Jack Ingram’s a dunderhead.”

                          Personal Identification Number Number

                          Apr 24, 2008, 4:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

                          I was trying to make a transfer on Wells Fargo today and I couldn’t remember my PIN to save my life. I wasn’t too worried about it because I forgot my PIN once before, when I was a fish, but lo, whenever I walked up to an ATM my fingers did their little dance without hesitation. From that point forward I have had little regard for remembering my PIN, and today my super-power came through once again, I walked up to the automated teller and boom “****” appeared in front of me… though this time I watched my fingers and re-learned my PIN.

                          This oddity could prove to be less than helpful if I’m ever robbed though. “I swear, I can’t remember my PIN unless I’m standing in front of an ATM.”

                            New Punctuation, use it.

                            Apr 22, 2008, 4:55 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            interrobang, double comma, and the irony markAt present, punctuation is pretty appropriately descriptive, but I feel that there should be a few additions, namely the ones discussed in this post.

                            The interrobang is already used pretty heavily in everyday text. “You want me to put what, where!?” being a prime example, however it would be nice if it were ligature-ized—as is commonly done for the eff and ell character, fl; or the eff and eye, fi—to look cooler, and (to a lesser degree) save space. Apparently some folks in the sixties tried to add it to our typographical lexicon, but ultimately failed.

                            The double comma should be used to to indicate a pause in spoken word, like a semi-colon or an ellipsis might. Artemy Levedev builds a strong case for its use, and I tend to agree with just about anything he has to say about typography or design.

                            The irony mark is something the French tried to introduce a long time ago, and damnit it would be useful on the internet where irony oftentimes goes missed… on second thought, a lot is missed on the internet because people don’t use punctuation, so I guess adding new punctuation wouldn’t fix this particular problem. Either way, I think it would make a valuable addition to world of typography.

                            I FOUND IT

                            Apr 19, 2008, 7:23 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            I finally found the solution to my google search issue. Inquisitor is pretty sweet.

                            GoGo Safari

                            Apr 19, 2008, 12:56 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            Warning: there be nerdery below (keep reading Trey).

                            So, I was just doing my monthly search for alternatives to the google searchbar in Safari, and so far no solution has presented itself (related post). For the time being I have set Scroogle as my home page and navigate to that whenever I need to do a search, but unfortunately you can’t even remove the Google bar from sight because it is married to the address bar. However my search resulted in finding something that is infinitely more useful and valuable

                            What I discovered is that the fine folks at Apple wrote a DOM inspector that puts Firefox’s to shame. Seriously, this thing is like a web-designers wet dream, but it isn’t activated by default… so you can’t use it right out of the box. To activate it, open up a terminal and issue the following command:

                            defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

                            Then restart Safari. Navigate to a page, right-click, and select “Inspect Element”, before you do this you should make the appropriate preparations for having your mind blown.

                            When you open the inspector you get a wonderful panel that tells you everything about the page, and each of its elements right down to the css that goes into rendering each object. It will even show you how the element is boxed (element, padding, border, and margin size). Further, you can dock it on the Safari window and it stays current with the page you navigate to—which Firefox doesn’t do. Also, if you double click on an element the inspector re-centers itself as though that element’s parent were the top element, this is especially useful on large and complex pages (if you’ve used Firefox’s DOM-inspector then you know what a pain in the ass it is to get the info you want). Oh yeah, it will even tell you about the bandwidth consumption from the page, and suggest how to reduce it.

                            If you do web design, server maintenance, or you are just interested in how designers do the cool stuff they do then I would definitely suggest activating this feature.

                            Stupid Classes

                            Apr 17, 2008, 1:44 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            I just caught a glimpse of a take-home exam that a friend of mine is working on. I think it is quite sad that there is an entire course (at a major university) dedicated to computer literacy; further, it is a joke that the students should be taught to use one specific software suite. I feel this way not because of my dislike for Microsoft, but because software is subject to change, the information taught in the class will likely be outdated by the next version of Microsoft Office. Instead of teaching people what menu they should click to find the spell checker, they should be taught how to find what they are looking for when using computers—or better yet, how to spell. Courses that lack any sort of academic credibility (like this one) aren’t just useless, they are actually harmful because they teach students how to get away with not thinking. They exemplify what is wrong with academic institutions, and thus the minds they shape.

                            Don’t misunderstand my words, I don’t think there is anything wrong with training somebody on a specific piece of software, but the university is not the place for such training. In college people are supposed to learn how to think critically, solve problems, and interpret information effectively.


                            Apr 16, 2008, 3:32 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            For those who are unaware, I’m taking one hour of classes this semester. This one hour is a seminar class, wherein we sit and listen to a person tell us about his or her research, and we fill out an evaluation every week. While this sounds easy enough, it is actually quite a pain in the ass because apparently the only people Dr. Ochoa could find to come and lecture to us belong to a subset of the population who cannot make the one thing they have centered their livelihoods around sound even mildly interesting. Over the course of the semester there have been exactly two lecturers who have managed to maintain the interest of a majority of the room (one of them had to resort to self-deprecating humor).

                            The main problem that each of them encounters is that they are too close to the material they are presenting, and they tend to focus on details that they find wildly interesting, but are far too specific to be of use to anybody else (ever). The one good presenter was actually talking about some really boring stuff, but he kept it on a level that everybody in the room could understand (we are all graduate level engineers, so we are capable of understanding quite a lot), and he was enthusiastic enough to make us all excited about it. Further, he described the entire apparatus he was using before he started discussing experimental results, this gave us a relatively deep understanding of the project before we got bored by charts and graphs.

                            I bring this up because I just got done reviewing last week’s presenter who was talking about the characterization of a 3D woven fabric composite, and who was presenting results that were less than 3 days old… while being at the cutting edge of science is fun, it is only fun if it is your science.


                            Apr 15, 2008, 11:56 am by Paul Stiverson

                            Last night I started Tango lessons; the tango is an awesome looking dance, and it is shaping up to be a really fun dance too. Also, I went to my second family dinner which a weekly dinner that some friends of mine put on so everybody can get a good home-cooked meal and enjoy everybody else’s company. Toward the end of the night a political/energy policy discussion broke out, and—as usual—I was the only donkey in the room, but it was a productive discussion never-the-less.

                            In the afternoon I finished reading the last two chapters of The Audacity of Hope, and for the first time I was interested enough to read an epilogue. I was truly upset to be at the end of the book, I might need to buy Dreams from My Father to get some more Barack.

                            On Anger

                            Apr 11, 2008, 9:16 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            The other day I was sitting in my office doing a little research [reading the internets], it was about 6PM so the building was pretty empty. I heard a labored shout, “Hello, Somebody Help me,” before I could respond it continued, “Help me.” Knowing that the building was mostly vacant due to the hour, and those who would be there wouldn’t be that strong in english, I figured I should respond. Also it seemed—since the shouting was so intent—that I should respond quickly; I sprang into action. It was a middle aged lady who was making all the big noise, and, thankfully, she was not having a medical emergency. Her ‘emergency’ was that her car was locked in a gated construction area that which had a sign prominently posted at the entrance saying “Authorized Personnel Only.”

                            When I came around the corner she started yelling at me to find her a phone book, it was surreal, I was attempting to help this woman and she started accosting me. She was mad as hell saying, “I need to get maintenance out here, I don’t care if they cut the god-damned lock, find me a phone book.” I pointed her to a phone book, and promptly walked away, I didn’t feel like dealing with a belligerent dingbat at that particular moment. A few moments later I heard her yelling again, “Hello, are you here?” Not wanting to deal with her anymore I ignored her plea, but she eventually tracked me down. “Do you have a phone?” Not wanting to be an outright ass, I handed her my cell phone. She pushed it back at me, “I don’t know how to use this damn thing, dial it for me,” mind you, this lady is not nearly old enough to be unfamiliar with cellular technology (especially a simple phone like mine). I asked her the number and she said, “Should I be calling maintenance?” To which I replied, “I have no idea, I try to keep myself out of these situations.” She gave up on the calling option, for which I’m thankful; I didn’t want to sit around and wait for somebody to show up and tell her there was nothing they could do.

                            She asked me if I would go outside and help her get her car out, presumably by tearing down the fence. I said I would help. After about 20 seconds of stern thought I figured out a way to break out without damaging the fence. I opened it (with little effort), and let her out—she was parked in a handicapped space, despite her lively traipsing about—I turned the sign around to show her what she missed earlier. She lied, “That wasn’t there earlier,” and I told her that there was ample handicapped parking in the front of the building for future reference. If she had considered the problem and potential solutions before she got all worked up then I think she could have escaped quite easily on her own.

                            When people get angry they stop thinking, and that bad for everybody. We should all strive to be cool headed and calmly find our own way out of fenced-in construction zones.

                            Taco Salad

                            Apr 8, 2008, 3:52 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            When made correctly, the taco salad is a fantastic dish. The proper order to assemble a taco salad follows (this is definative).

                            1. Shell
                            2. Lettuce
                            3. Beans (preferably black)
                            4. Rice
                            5. Meat
                            6. Pico de gallo
                            7. Assorted other veggies
                            8. Cheese
                            9. Guacamole and the like

                            If the salad is not made in that order then it becomes a bitch to eat. Enjoy.

                            On Abortion

                            Apr 7, 2008, 5:20 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            I’ve been reading The Audacity of Hope, and in Chapter 6 (Faith), Barack says (about abortion), “I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved and wrestled with her conscience when making that heart-wrenching decision…” I believe this statement to be true on the whole; however, in the fictional work Fight Club (the book, not the movie) the character Marla Singer mentions to Tyler Durden that she wants to get pregnant and have his abortion.1 I’m sure there are women out there who do have such cavalier feelings about abortion, but it is safe to say that this is not the majority opinion (and not the subject of this post).

                            I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing people on both sides of the abortion fence, and—more often than not—I’ve been able to have civil discussions with them on the subject. The most common protest against abortion I’ve encountered is the “Life is sacred” arguement (coming from the pious). And it is true that life is sacred, I don't think that anybody would condone killing a newborn baby (excepting the murderous types), but there is a marked difference between a fetus and a newborn baby. The problem with this argument is the ol’ when does life start question; but I don’t think that will be resolved in this post. Honestly, the previous argument is the only one that is even remotely valid. Other arguments are easily defused with a small dose of science or common sense.

                            To the pious: It seems that terminating the pregnancy would be a pretty sweet deal for the fetus; it gets to skip being born into a household where it isn’t wanted and go straight to heaven. Isn’t that the goal of your life? How could it be a bad deal to get into heaven without that whole “giving your life to Jesus” thing?

                            The other side’s argument is “It’s a woman’s choice,” is (as I see it) a bastardization of the original message of Margaret Sanger—the founder of Planned Parenthood—who believed that a woman should be free to not be a baby factory. She argued that women had the right to use birth control, so they could elect to not get pregnant (also that they should be free from being told that they cannot have children—I’m not so sure that Margaret was on board here, as she was pretty racist, but nobody is perfect).

                            It is probably pretty clear by now that I support the legality of abortion, but it is an action that I don’t find morally defensible. I support its legality because it is better than the alternative situation where women attempt to self-terminate.2 What I really want is the elimination of abortion through improved education; I think it is a good thing for young people to know what goes where, and how to be safe and responsible. It is pretty clear that current sex education programs are pretty lacking, some would argue that telling kids about condoms will promote promiscuity. Maybe it will/does, but safety/security through ignorance/obscurity is a pretty bad policy; I would rather every teen be fucking safely rather than most of them fucking unsafely. And let’s not mince words here, teens have sex, and they always have (yes, even in the ’50s), and it is mighty hard to un-ring that bell no matter how deep your head is in the sand.


                            1. That line was originally in the movie but was changed to “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.” Source
                            2. There is a good article where an abortion doctor outlines his experience in a trauma ward devoted to women who tried to self terminate. Link

                            Old People Parties «part deux»

                            Apr 5, 2008, 9:07 am by Paul Stiverson

                            Last night I went to the B/CS Dinner and Dance Club’s monthly dinner and dance party. It was a freaking blast, the food was delicious, the people were all quite nice, and the music was spectacular.

                            Dinner started promptly at 7—we had smoked turkey. The dancing started at 7:30—the DJ was awesome, he had a trunk full of hats and wigs that he would put on to go with the song; excellent stage presence. The music was a great mix of Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-cha, Swing, Polka, and Tango—this was my first proper ballroom dance. Since it was a dinner dance club it was patronized by quite a few older couples, Natalie and I were the youngest people in attendance by at least 8 years. All together a really great time.

                            Coming Soon!

                            Apr 3, 2008, 2:21 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            I’ve been around this internet block a few times and there is little in the world that bugs me more than a link to a page that is not complete.

                            Not for nothing, but I typically don’t add a link until something is nearly complete, or I at least get some sort of beta page up with a simple framework of information to be a legitimate placeholder.

                            Update: Deryl Dodd finally got with the program and put up his new site… so Exhibit B is fixed.

                            King’s Ransom

                            Apr 1, 2008, 1:05 pm by Paul Stiverson

                            The saying, “Paying a King’s ransom,” is stupid. What idiot is going to pay a crapload of money to get back some ruler they didn’t even have anything to do with picking, and that wouldn’t give a crap about one of his subjects being kidnapped.

                            Is kidnapped even an appropriate term for an adult, or a king for that matter… Adultnapped? Kingnapped?

                            In thousands of years science is going to think we’re all idiots.

                              New Tattoo

                              Mar 31, 2008, 11:35 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              It’s payday, and I’ve been wanting to get a new tattoo… so guess what, I got one. It is the Go Texan logo, about 2.5ʺ wide over my heart. Pictures to come later.

                              My artist was Meg at Poking You, and she was fantastic.

                              How I learned to stop worrying and love my cast (or Civil Disobedience)

                              Mar 30, 2008, 7:04 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              Background: I was the director of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for Aggiecon 39. Every year there are two shows during the convention, Friday and Saturday Night. We do a shadow cast, which is where we act out the movie as it plays behind us.

                              About a month ago I was told that a member of my cast (the character ‘Frank’) was banned from the convention, and that I needed to find a new one. It would have been quite difficult to replace Frank because she had been performing as that character as long I have been associated with the show. But the story goes deeper than that, we (as a cast) had spent a long time working together to make the show possible, and we became good friends in the process. For me to have told Frank that we were replacing her with some Johnny-come-lately would have gone against everything I stand for. Loyalty is something I take very seriously, and further I don’t feel obligated to follow rules that are unjustified. So, I kept her in the show knowing full well that we could get cancelled once the jig was up. The first night’s show went well, but the poopie hit the ol’ fan on Saturday afternoon. Originally they were going to kick us all out and just play the movie in the background, but by the strategic use of leverage and group solidarity we were able to save the show with just the replacement of the Frank character. The cast was banned from performing next year, and I was banned from performing or directing indefinitely. This bannination turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we didn’t have anything to lose and we put on the best performance I’ve ever seen. I’m upset that I won’t be able to perform next year, but what a way to go out.

                              Jobs abound

                              Mar 28, 2008, 3:36 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              For the first time I have had to turn down a job offer, it is nice to be wanted. This one was with the Air Force Research Lab (Wright-Patterson) in Dayton, Ohio. It would be cool to work there, and I wish I could take them both, but that would be one hell of a commute. Perhaps next year I can go work up there.

                              Sweeny Todd

                              Mar 27, 2008, 10:25 am by Paul Stiverson

                              I was getting ready to shave this morning and I thought back to the movie Sweeny Todd (not the play, the movie). There are a few scenes in there where the character Sweeny Todd is preparing a razor to give a shave. This process involves stropping—running the blade of the razor along a leather strap—which refines the edge. Stropping is done in such a manner that the edge of the razor is being dragged along the leather, opposite the cutting direction. In the movie, however, Sweeny runs the blade the other way (in the cutting direction), such an action would cause the razor to slice right through the strop (this is generally considered ‘bad’). Had Mr. Depp been using sharp razors, or ever visited a barber shop for a shave, he would have noticed his folly (which I’m sure he has since been informed of). This error really took me out of my ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ mode. It is upsetting that a major studio production wouldn’t do the cursory research required to ensure the activities portrayed were realistic.

                              Edit: The character Pirelli stropped in the correct direction.

                              On Rejection

                              Mar 25, 2008, 12:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              Rejection is a topic I have quite some expertise in so I feel like it is appropriate for me to make some comments here.

                              First off, it sucks, but the sting is pretty temporary as long as things are handled appropriately. Guys, stop pining. I know this is a problem for me, and I assume that many more of you have the same problem. Ladies, give it to us straight. If you don’t want to date one of us, just say so, we can handle it. What we can’t handle is the bullshit of giving us your number then never answering, or hoping that we won’t call. Also, don’t make excuses, it is perfectly reasonable to say no (perhaps elaborate on the ‘no’ if prompted). Sure, we are going to think you are a bitch for it, but we’ll eventually think you’re a bitch for not saying anything later; at least this way you’re an honest bitch. Back to guys, don’t get pissed if you are rejected, what would you say if the female equivalent of your foul-mouthed out-of-shape ass asked you out; everybody is looking to trade up.

                              I know this entry probably sounds pretty bitter, and no, I wasn’t just rejected. I just felt it was time I spoke my mind on the issue.

                              This Weekend

                              Mar 23, 2008, 12:25 am by Paul Stiverson

                              Some friends and I planned a backpacking trip to Bastrop State Park for this weekend, but we didn’t do too much forward planning so we didn’t know that there were only about 10 miles of trail. Upon realizing that we had covered the entire park we decided to call it a weekend and head home. It was a good trip but altogether unnecessary to stay a second night since we had already seen everything the park had to offer. Coming home was a good idea because it gave me the option of going to see Doug Moreland at the Lakeside Icehouse (formerly The Hook). It was a great show as usual and I want to share some lyrics from one of his older songs, Prayers and Wishes.

                              Superstitious mind is haunting me
                              I know prayers and wishes are two different things
                              I’m a God-fearing man but I do believe
                              Wish for what you want, but pray for what you need
                              And the confusion of the issue is
                              I know not whether to, pray or wish for you

                              It is also quite lucky that we came home early since I forgot that I had exams to grade. I still haven’t graded them because they are locked up in the ENPH building and I can’t get to them.

                              Calendar Updated

                              Mar 18, 2008, 1:43 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I just finished updating the calendar of shows, which is always a long process. However, if artists wouldn’t use flash websites it would be much easier (so I can save a link directly to their tour info), also if they would keep their freaking sites from playing music it would be a bit less annoying. Lastly, if you insist on keeping all your data on MySpace, please keep the goddamn background from interfering with the information.

                              Protip: start being professional and stop using MySpace, hosting is pretty cheap and I’m sure you can dig deep in your fan base and find somebody who can design a site relatively well.

                              Delicious Beer

                              Mar 15, 2008, 12:07 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              picture of Shiner 99Some friends and I drove down to Shiner, Texas yesterday to visit the brewery. As usual it was pretty kickass, but there was some unexpected goodness; Shiner released their 99th anniversary brew recently so I was able to get a taste. It is freaking fantastic. I picked myself up a case while I was down in Shiner, and the packaging is nearly as awesome as the beer (image at right, click it for a bigger picture). I really hope they keep this anniversary brew thing going after the centennial.

                              On a related note I spent most of the day either in a car or drinking. During some of the drinking part there was dominos to be played, and delicious summer sausage to be eaten (that’s what she said). Altogether it was a pretty amazing day.

                              Elliot Spitzer

                              Mar 13, 2008, 12:14 am by Paul Stiverson

                              Anybody who has turned on a TV in the last 48 hours has heard of Elliot Spitzer and his high end whore, and I want to know why we care so much that somebody is getting laid. Back when JFK was nailing Marilyn Monroe nobody seemed to care, but Bill Clinton gets a beej in the oval office and we have to sit through an impeachment trial and a month worth of pundits running their damn mouths. And now Spitzer’s career is over because his wife wouldn’t do the freaky stuff that he was into—not that I would blame his wife for his infidelity, but a little ‘business time’ could have saved this fella a lot of trouble.

                              For the record I think prostitution should be legal anyway, but I also think that politicians should be allowed a little bit of privacy (or at least an “ignore that dead hooker in the trunk” card).

                              Lolling through the supermarket

                              Mar 11, 2008, 11:35 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I went to HEB (a Texan chain of grocery stores, for those not in the know), and as I was browsing I came across the snack food aisle—chips, snack cakes, etc.—and I happened to look up at the categories listed for that aisle and they included “Diet”. I guess they are really testing a potential dieters resolve by putting the things they need on an aisle full of the very things that made them need a diet.

                              Also, I would like to announce I am joining a most prestigious blogring:
                              Spitzer is my homeboy
                              Thank you Rachel for being so awesome.

                              Good News

                              Mar 7, 2008, 11:53 am by Paul Stiverson

                              More like super awesome news really, I’ve been offered an internship in sunny California. I’ll be spending 12 weeks in central California researching at the University of California in Santa Cruz, the project I’ll be working on is a NASA Ames sponsored project… so prestigious++. This is the first time visiting, let alone living on, the west coast, I’m looking forward to spending some time in the outdoors up there where it won’t be so ridiculously hot. I’ll be coming back to Texas twice during the internship for weddings so I won’t be jonesin’ for Texas too bad.

                              Great Expectations

                              Mar 4, 2008, 1:54 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I’m grading (what was supposed to be) a computational project right now, and the ‘reports’ are abysmal. However I feel that less than ten percent of the blame should fall on the students, because the project statement was hastily written, and lacks focus. It all falls back to the old adage “Garbage in garbage out”. If you give crap projects to (even the brightest) students you will get crap results. However if you give the same group of students a carefully constructed problem that is professionally presented, and give them a clear indication of what you are expecting in return then they might just surprise you with their results. Or they might still turn in crap… you can’t really tell a priori.

                              Visitation hours are over

                              Feb 26, 2008, 5:50 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              My good friend from undergrad came into town last night, we had dinner at Haiku, it was a good time. I also started Waltz and Foxtrot 2 last night; I missed the first week so I had some catching up to do, but I kept up like a champ.

                              More Bloog Happenings

                              Feb 24, 2008, 3:02 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I’ve been working a bit more on this page. I’ve added a Atom and RSS feed. So, subscribe away. It’s all my own coding, so there might be a bug or two. If you find something that doesn’t work, or something I should add then contact me.


                              Feb 20, 2008, 1:51 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              My fingers get exceptionally cold when I’m grading. Somebody make me grading mittens.

                              Also, grading sucks. . . seriously.


                              Feb 20, 2008, 12:32 am by Paul Stiverson

                              If you haven’t heard it before, you should listen to Sitting, by Cat Stevens. If you have heard it, you should listen again. It is a powerful song about death with strong spiritual undertones (I’m not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see), but it isn’t insistent on any particular religion; although I think Cat was dabbling in Buddhism at the time he wrote the song.

                              Just keep on pushing hard, boy, try as you may; you’re gonna wind up where you started from.


                              Feb 19, 2008, 10:53 am by Paul Stiverson

                              I applied for a teaching fellowship which would allow me to teach science, math, and engineering at a rural school twice a week. It was apparently a popular fellowship to apply for because 120 applicants showed up to the meet-and-greet they had last night; did I mention there are 12 positions available. I’m excited to see if I get an interview, it sounds like a really cool opportunity. At the meet-and-greet they wanted each applicant to stand up and give a 2 minute biography of their teaching experience, which wasn’t that bad (I’m really not that good at extemporaneous public speaking so it wasn’t great), but the ridiculous number of applicants almost made me late to an exam review I was giving. Fortunately I was right on time.

                              Bloog happenings

                              Feb 18, 2008, 11:25 am by Paul Stiverson

                              I spent a great deal of yesterday working on this page. You might notice the differences; however, if you are using Internet Explorer on Windows then you might think the additions look unpolished. The reason for this is Microsoft doesn’t want to conform to CSS standards, this is unfortunate because IE has the largest market share of all the browsers, and everybody wants those people to be able to use their site.

                              I would suggest upgrading your browser to Firefox if you want this and other pages to render correctly.

                              You can leave comments on any post by clicking the comment(s) link below, if anybody is reading this you should leave a comment (and you can see an extra feature I put in).

                              Okay Chad Hammock

                              Feb 9, 2008, 2:38 am by Paul Stiverson

                              You and all your damn cronies like the Bart Crow Band can go to hell. If you want to play rock, play rock, but stay the hell out of Texas honkey tonks, and stop calling yourself country.

                              Attn: Ladies

                              Feb 4, 2008, 9:32 am by Paul Stiverson

                              If you are not single you should not go to dance lessons alone. :mad:

                              Old People Parties

                              Jan 27, 2008, 2:18 am by Paul Stiverson

                              This evening I went to a Mardi Gras themed party at a professor’s house, and it was pretty freaking sweet. There was nobody throwing up, everybody was at least mildly interesting—some people were downright awesome, there were tasty snacks, and nobody passed out. Basically it was like a college party filled with adults… I could get used to this.

                              Good Friends Leaving

                              Dec 16, 2007, 3:57 am by Paul Stiverson

                              My bartender, Carol, graduated today, and she leaves town on Monday. It’s amazing how quickly you can become attached to somebody; quite a few people have moved out of my life over the years, but this is somehow different. I will miss you, I love you.

                              I know I’ve told you about this site, I hope you read this, and I hope you use the contact link to stay in touch.

                              I hate Houston

                              Nov 24, 2007, 12:40 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I was driving to (South-East) Houston on the morning of Thanksgiving—which, in and of itself is pretty bad—just following the directions I got online. I exit I-45 and turn right on Monroe Rd. as directed, the next step of the directions was “Continue on Winkler Street, 1.1mi”. I see that the road splits to the right and the sign says “Winkler Street”, I think to my self, “This must be what they meant” (poor assumption). I turn down the road and a mile later I see an on-ramp to I-45 and I think “Nope, don't want to be there” so I turn onto the nearest street (it just so happened that my lane was requiring me to do so). Now I’m on Broadway, I drive down a ways seeing if I can pick out any street names that might help me get my bearings… nothing, and I approach the 610 loop so I figure I ought to turn around and head back to I-45. On my way back west I see a Policeman and think, “Hey, it would totally be appropriate to ask this dude for directions, after all his job is to ‘Serve and Protect’, right?” I stop, and he seems to be unfamiliar with: a) where we are, and b) where I’m going, but he suggests that I head up to I-45, take a left, and keep searching for S. Richey Street, so I do. I get to I-45, turn left, putz around looking intently for my target, only to find that my lane once again spills me onto FUCKING BROADWAY, I’ve come full circle. I now stop completely and wait for some of my family members to find me, and right in this moment, as if by fate, the person I most wanted to talk to in the world calls me.

                              Even with being lost somewhere between “Over the river”, and “Through the woods”, in a place I hate, right then, my day was perfect.

                              So, as it turns out the street I originally turned on after exiting I-45 (Monroe Street), that was actually called Winkler Street once you crossed under I-45. And that street that was called Winkler (the one I veered right on), that was only built to confuse and mis-direct logical non-Houstonites. I hate Houston.

                              Being a TA is fun

                              Nov 15, 2007, 3:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              It is really cool to be a TA, you have no real responsibility, the students who come to your office hours think you are awesome if you are even the least bit helpful, and you really only need to know how to solve the three hardest problems in any section. Everybody should be a TA for a while. The only downside is grading. Grading is the worst activity ever conceived by man.

                              On an unrelated note: I’m really excited about going dancing tonight; I just got my boots back from the cobbler (a shoe maker/repairer, not dessert), so I’ve got new soles and heels. It should be fun to slide again.

                              Doug Moreland

                              Nov 10, 2007, 1:04 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              Last night, John and I went to see Doug Moreland at The Hook (out at Lake Bryan), and hot damn it was a breath of fresh air. I’ve seen him before and I enjoyed it, but he has been writing some new material and it is really quite good. He has always played a great deal of humorous songs—which is cool— but he is starting to get away from that (to sing some more serious songs) with his new set list—which is great.

                              WTF Apple

                              Nov 3, 2007, 3:39 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I really like the new features in Safari 3, but there is still a glaring discrepancy: Google is still the only search engine available without some silly hack. This, in and of itself, isn’t a huge problem, what gets me is that in the Windows version of Safari you can choose between Google and Yahoo. So its clear that they have added the ability to choose in their code base, but have chosen not to include that in their native build. Now I understand that the two applications (Safari, and Safari for Windows) are different branches of the same tree and likely don’t share a great deal of code, but this is inexcusable. Also, I think it is outrageous that they wouldn’t add the ability to choose any search engine available. I am fully aware of how profitable a successful search engine can be, and that they are fighting to keep market share, thus they are willing to pay well to stay on top of everybody’s browser… but come on Apple, you’re better than that.


                              Oct 17, 2007, 10:21 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              Mac OS X.5—or Leopard as Mac enthusiasts will know it—was announced to be released on October 26th. One of the questions I had about a new feature was answered by the updated literature on Apples website, that question: Will ‘Time Machine’ keep backups locally? The answer is no, apparently you need to have an external drive to keep the snapshots, but this announcement raises another question: Can I use a new 160gb iPod Classic as this external hard drive? It is quite nice to have all my music handy, it would be superb to have my music and files right there in the even that my MacBook Pro should die. I’ve done some preliminary searching and found no documentation. The Apple website says, “You can designate just about any HFS+ formatted FireWire or USB drive connected to a Mac as a Time Machine backup drive”. And since you can use HFS on an iPod it seems to be a safe assumption, but you know how assumptions go. Anyhow, if you can use the classic as a Time Machine backup then I have an excuse to buy a new iPod (I’ve filled up my 15gig third generation anyhow); perhaps since the 26th is my birthday some nice soul will get me one (I’m mighty partial to the silver 160gb).

                              On Writing Well

                              Oct 15, 2007, 6:19 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              So, lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing, namely, I’ve been writing notes for my MEEN 364 students. And since I would like to write my notes well I’ve been spending a fair amount of time searching for answers to my common grammar questions, and I feel that my grammar has been improving steadily. I’ve also been grading my 363 students’ project reports, and I’ve realized that—by and large—they do not write well. Thinking back to my report writing (undergraduate) days I realize that I didn’t write particularly well either (I could still stand to improve considerably) because I didn’t care, and I’m sure they don’t either. The years of high school English were a complete waste of everybody’s time (save the teachers, perhaps… they were getting paid).

                              This is not to say that proper grammar is on its way out, because as soon as somebody cares about what they are saying they will (hopefully) improve their prose.

                              Note: I am aware that this site doesn’t have anything capitalized as it should be, that is by design.


                              Aug 31, 2007, 2:35 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              During the long spring and summer months I spent living alone I almost forgot the neverending joy that comes from sharing a domicile with two people in love. The flirty laughter, the sound of tender kissing, and carressing two feet directly to my left exacerbates my solitude orders of magnitude at once. Furthermore the constant presence of a girl that is wholly off limits is infuriating at best. Don’t mis-understand me, I think the both of them are great when separate, and they are fun in public situations, but when the two of them are alone—with me—they are unbearable. I’m sure it is easy to lose touch with reality and not realize how grating you are being, and I’m sure that someone will quickly point out that I’ve never been in love so I have no perspective; but I know that it is possible to keep yourself in check for I have lived with a couple who were able to keep their dealings to themselves. Oh well, I’ve got new headphones so I needn’t hear them anymore, or at least I can drown out the sound of my teeth grinding.

                              My agent sucks

                              Aug 18, 2007, 3:18 am by Paul Stiverson

                              Shakespeare (and Geddy Lee) says:

                              All the world’s a stage,
                              And all the men and women merely players:
                              They have their exits and their entrances;
                              And one man in his time plays many parts…

                              He goes on to describe the seven ages (acts), but that is outside the context that is necessary. It seems throughout my entire adolescent/adult life I’ve been stuck in one part. I’ve been playing the lovable friend who—while is important to the plot—is utterly unimportant to the other characters, namely the heroines on the stage.

                              This post was brewed in the wake of yet another platonic pseudo-date with a spectacular girl that I will never make a move on because I: a) choke on my own fear of rejection; b) have a self-sabotaging lack of spine. The two qualities previously mentioned added to the fact that none of the spectacular girls I’ve tried courting are the least bit interested in me romantically adds up to a recipe for ‘single guy with a boatload of female friends a la mode,’ which, conveniently enough, can be prepared in the microwave. I’m getting another beer, post over.


                              Aug 5, 2007, 11:17 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              So I was enjoying some wine (Barking Mad Shiraz) and cheese (Asiago) tonight and I cut the ever-loving hell outta my thumb, but don’t fret, I threw a band-aid on there and finished up the wine and cheese while watching The Breakfast Club on USA. To make a long story short, I really like the way band-aids smell. Cheers.

                              No Relationships

                              Jul 11, 2007, 5:23 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              The other night at the the local watering-hole I worked up the nerve to ask a lovely young lady out, and while she didn’t say no she didn’t exactly say yes. Her response was “I’m willing to date, but I’m not looking for a relationship,” which my mind immediately translated to “You can spend money on me, but you will be wasting your time.” Maybe I’m just cynical, but what’s the point of dating if you aren’t looking for something more serious, but perhaps I’m over-thinking what was just a kind rejection. Oh well.

                              New Beers

                              Jul 8, 2007, 9:17 am by Paul Stiverson

                              Yesterday my good buddy Brandon called me up and suggested that I go to Houston for a Ben Morris show, and after a few minutes of fighting the urge to be lazy and anti-social I decided that I would go. I must say that I made the right choice because it was a damn fine time. One of the best parts of the show was the venue, JP Hops House, which prides itself on being quite a nice brew house. I tried 6 beers that I had never seen before and they were delicious, I think I could make a habit out of trying new beer. The favorite of the night for me was Duvel, if you haven't had the pleasure, go get a bottle now and drink up (I'll wait). Another surprise was Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat, which nobody else in the party cared for, but I thought was delicious.

                              Lone Star Caps

                              Jun 27, 2007, 6:55 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I’ve been experimenting with removing those linings (little gaskets) from the insides of my Lone Star bottle caps. They can sometimes be cloudy and make the puzzles harder to solve, and way harder to photograph. A side by side example of caps with and without the linings is photographed here. I’m thinking about removing all the gaskets from my collection, but it will take some time since you have to warm the bottle cap slightly then gingerly pull the lining off. If you try to scrape it off too roughly you will damage the gold finish inside the cap.


                              Jun 27, 2007, 9:22 am by Paul Stiverson

                              This morning I was making some toast (with butter), and I accidentally dropped something on the edge of the plate and the toast went a-flying. Both pieces flipped over—butter side down mind you—and one landed on the plate, the other piece hit me in the tummy and stuck there. It was nice that it didn’t land on the floor, but unfortunate because I got butter’d.

                              On an unrelated note I recently discovered the Sarah Silverman Program, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen

                              Scroogle on Safari

                              Jun 23, 2007, 12:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              So on my favorites page I said that I don’t really care for Google as such I try to avoid using Google search as much as possible. Instead I use scroogle, but Safari (OSX’s default browser) uses Google search by default, and there is (so I thought) no good way to change that, so I stuck with Firefox which lets you change your default browser (Thus why I say free software kicks ass). Today I happened upon a fantastic little (free) application called Acidsearch that lets me use Safari and Scroogle (Happy days are here again). Who’s looking forward to Safari 3? I am.

                              Getting towed sucks

                              Jun 17, 2007, 3:12 am by Paul Stiverson

                              (preface: it’s 3AM.) So what was otherwise a great day (sat around mostly, watched some King of the Hill and My Name is Earl, ate macaroni and cheese, and saw Adam Carrol (woohoo)) ended with a colossal pain in the ass (and wallet). I parked at the Coyote parking lot behind Zapato’s, and upon returning I found [gasp] no car. I found also that there were some other fellows there with a similar predicament, and after a few moments of cursing and spitting four other people came a-walking up. Fortunately for yours truly one of them hadn’t parked in the lot and gotten towed, and they were able to give us a ride to the fine establishment where towed cars end up. Of course the non-real-job-having bastards only take cash, so we stopped by an ATM on the way to get $116.65. The kicker is, and I’m sure any residents of College Station will agree, is that the Coyote lot never has people towed, I’ve parked there dozens of times and never once even seen a tow-truck. Had I known that they were once again charging for parking I would have parked on campus for free. Thank you to the kind soul that gave me a ride out to Bryan.

                              Good Christian Raisin

                              Jun 16, 2007, 3:05 am by Paul Stiverson

                              Some of you may be familiar with a song called “Georgia on a Fast Train” by Billy Joe Shaver, well in the chorus of the song Billy says:

                              I’ve been to Georgia on a fast train honey
                              I wudn’t born no yesterday
                              Got a good Christian raisin’ and an eighth grade education
                              Ain’t no need in y’all a treatin’ me this way

                              Every time I hear that third line I can’t stop my mind from picturing a good Christian raisin. I drew that last night at the bar so I could get that visual stuck in their heads too.

                              Note about this site

                              Jun 11, 2007, 10:47 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              So, as Brandon knows, this site was supposed to be hosted under the domain name ‘stiverson.net’, but about a month before I actually purchased this fine domain name some other dude (who shares my last name) decided to buy up ‘stiverson.net’. I’m not going to link to it, because it isn’t worth your time, I hate to rag on somebody with such a fine surname, but it is really quite underdeveloped I’m sorry to say. What’s worse is that it is hosted by Google, it has a score of links to Windows and Microsoft resources (eww), and has some disgusting Microsoft Word-esque non-valid markup (if you view the source of his page and compare it to mine you will appreciate the difference, your browser will too). Perhaps someday this fellow will build a site that lives up to the Stiverson name, but until then, I bite my thumb at thee.

                              Not your cheese

                              Jun 5, 2007, 4:24 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              Everytime I see a Taco Bell commercial that mentions ‘nacho cheese’ I can’t help but think how funny it would be if they were saying ‘notchyo cheese’.

                              Edit: I just found out that this is a gag from King of the Hill season 10 episode 1. Bill says, “if it’s notchyo cheese, then whose is it?” Later in the episode Dale claims that he found the joke on a popsicle stick.

                              Public Apologies

                              May 17, 2007, 8:51 pm by Paul Stiverson

                              I’m sick of people apologizing for things they say, for once I wish somebody would say “Yeah I said ‘Nappy headed hoes’, and I would say it again, because that’s what they are, I’m sorry if that offends you, but that’s how I feel”. Nobody has a backbone anymore, and that pisses me off. To those of you who push for celebrities to apologies, give it a rest—we all had to go through the high school, and that’s when we are supposed to learn how not to be pansies.

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