24 May 2005

Moral indignation, weddings, and skiing...

I really can’t believe the moral indignation and outrage that has been spilling from the White House and the Bush Administration in general over this Newsweek story that ran last week talking about detainees at Guantanamo Bay having their Koran’s desecrated. The White House lays claim to the “fact” that because of the story itself, there were riots around the Muslim world and 15 or 16 people died because of said riots. The White House is outraged over this, and can’t believe how irresponsible Newsweek was in running this story, and that it caused needless deaths around the Muslim world. Hmm… Is this a classic case of the pot talking to the kettle or what? Actually, it’s much worse than that. Look at the innocent Iraqi deaths caused by the US invasion of Iraq over 2 years ago. We don’t know the exact numbers of Iraqis killed, because the US doesn’t keep track of such things (I’m sure out of a fear that it might make us look bad, and it does). Estimates from the International Red Cross put Iraqi civilian dead up over 100,000 people and climbing everyday because of the continuing violence from insurgents and terrorists that have taken up the Jihad in Iraq. Why isn’t the White House and the Bush Administration outraged over this needless loss of life? 16 versus 100,000. I’m not really sure that you can compare the 2 of them. So the Bush Administration is outraged over the loss of 16 lives, but they remain silent on the 100,000+ lives that they are directly responsible for ending? I don’t get it. Oh wait… I remember now. Those 100,000+ lives were taken in the pursuit of freedom and democracy, so that makes it OK I guess. At least according to our pro-life President George W. Bush. In one sense I sort of agree with the White House in the fact that the 15 or 16 people who were killed in rioting was a tragedy, and probably needless, but then again, so is this entire war that they’ve wrapped us up in.

The thing about pro-life people these days, is that their message is not consistent. Let’s take a look at Bush for one. He says he’s pro-life, but doesn’t think twice about invading 2 countries, and killing lots of people in the process. He says he’s pro-life, but I’m pretty sure that he eats meat on a daily basis, him being from “Texas” and all. He says that he’s pro-life, but pro death penalty, and was responsible for executing more people when he was governor of Texas than all other states combined. And there was a story about a woman that was executed, and how he was laughing about it because he denied her clemency on the day of her death. Real peach of a pro-life guy right there. So he’s pro-life, as long as it appeals to his religious right base of conservatives, which translates over to, he’s anti abortion. Sure he’ll sweep the military into countries, kill innocent civilians, put murderers to death, and eat animal products, but as long as he’s anti-abortion, he’s pro-life. What a crock of shit. I don’t have a problem, per se, with the pro-life people. They can believe what they want to believe, and far be it from me to push my beliefs on anyone else, too much, but if you’re going to be pro-life, then do it all. I have a lot more respect for the right wing Christian zealots who come out against all death. Abortion, war, murder, death penalty, animals, and so on, and there are a lot of those people around, but their message is consistent, and across the board. Pro-life for everything. Our President would have you think that he’s pro-life, but he’s pro-life when it appeals to his “base”, and when it suits his political needs, and when it makes him gains on the political front. Essentially, he’s just a mush-mouthed hypocrite in a suit. Right now his overall approval rating is way down, and so is the overall approval rating for the Republican party in general. This is good, because the next election cycle is coming up next year in 2006, and it could be a good chance for Democrats to take back majorities in the Senate and the House. That is, if they don’t blow it again. Which, chances are likely, they will. Maybe they’ll get a new strategist into the fray and come up with something new and different to appeal to their “base” of supporters. I can only hope.

If you have never heard of Michael Savage, consider yourself lucky. But he is a man that has to be heard to be believed. He is further right than Rush Limbaugh, but of the same mold, well, actually, he’s a lot worse. I can’t even explain his fiery rhetoric, it has to be heard to be believed. So look for his show, The Savage Nation, somewhere near you and listen in, and see how much of an idiot this guy is. I listen in every once in awhile, and I don’t know why, because just about everything that falls from his mouth makes me angry at him, and want to jump through the radio and throttle him for being so stupid. One of his main points that he likes to hit on, it seems in every show, is how anti-immigrant he is. Not just illegal immigrants mind you, but ALL immigrants. Which always makes me chuckle when someone who is not of Native American blood decries immigration in the United States. It’s kind of like, “Hey asshole. Were it not for immigration, you wouldn't be here either you friggin’ prick.” He elicits that kind of response to me. I’d drop him an e-mail, but it would go unanswered I’m sure, and I’m also sure that he gets enough “hate mail” without me adding to the pile that he goes through everyday and deletes without looking at it. Here are some links about this whacko:


This guy is truly a piece of shit. And I don’t really say that about too many people these days, or at all really. How can someone go from being a hippy love everybody kind of person to this hate monger? I don’t get it. He’s also what I would call a pseudo intellectual, meaning, he has a PhD, but he’s still an idiot.

So going back to fun things for a moment. This Friday night, there is going to be a huge bike race in downtown Raleigh, NC. Well, I hope that it’s huge. It should be because there is a prize list of $10,000 for the criterium, so it should draw some good crowds, and some really good competition I hope. I think it’s going to be fun. Check out the schedule and race information at the following link:


And then on Saturday morning, myself and the SO are flying out of RDU to head back to Maine, where the SO will no doubt freeze her arse off in Mexico Maine, because the weather, hasn’t been so nice up there lately. Looking at good old weather.com, it appears that the temps yesterday were in the 40’s and low 50’s with lots of rain. It looks spectacular! We’re heading back North for the long weekend to attend the older sister’s wedding to Doug, held at the old stomping grounds of Black Mountain of Maine, or as we used to call it BMOM. The mountain has done some incredible work over the last couple of seasons with chairlifts being installed, and a new lodge being built, it almost looks like a real ski area now, whereas before, it was definitely low key and local, but it was always fun having a ski area more or less in your hometown. Mom could drive us up there, drop off, we could ski for hours on end, and then come home exhausted at the end of the day. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed that part of it, the coming home exhausted and sleepy part of things. Something about the cold winter air and activity, man, it takes it out of you. Skiing was pretty cool, although I’ve pretty much given it up for the most part, living in the South is not conducive to getting a whole lot downhill skiing in. Not a whole lot of snow hanging around, and the ski resorts around here, well, they’re just not what I’m used to. Once again, spoiled with the ski area in the backyard more or less, and really spoiled when I worked at the Sunday River Ski Resort for about 10 years during the winters. That free pass does things to a person for sure. As in, you don’t feel like you should have to pay for skiing anymore, and the conditions should always be as good as they were there. So yeah, now I have a hard time paying to go skiing, which is something I do like once per year at the most, and shelling out that $50+ for one day of making turns in the snow, it’s just not good.
So yeah, the wedding. Kelly is getting hitched, and it should be a good family party I’m sure. There will be a whole bunch of people there that I’ve not seen in quite some time, so it’ll be a family reunion of sorts. Hopefully, there is no drama, but hey, it’s a family function, there will always be drama.

20 May 2005

Vibrating razors...

I got this vibrating razor a few weeks ago. I’m not really sure what to completely make of this thing yet. Allegedly in another great marketing scheme thought up by people at Gillette, they say that this new razor makes for an even closer shave than before. No, really, it is supposed to do this. Whether it really does this or not, I’m not really sure to be certain, but in the few times that I have raked this thing across my face, the skin seems to feel smoother, and looks smoother. Yeah, my 5 o’ clock shadow doesn’t come back for like 30 minutes now, whereas before, it was more like 10 minutes. If you have ever seen Fred Flintstone or Homer Simpson, the shading they have around their faces, that’s about what I look like, even when freshly shaven. It’s almost, no, it is ridiculous. I can’t help it. I have “thick hair” genes or something that I was either blessed or cursed with when I was born. Sure, I still have a full head of hair on top of my head from these genes, and for someone in their 30’s, this is pretty freakin’ good. But I also have a full back of hair, a full ass of hair, and a full chest of hair. And that stuff is just very annoying. I keep thinking about getting laser hair removal, but after hearing some horror stories about such things, I’ll just deal with it. There was a woman here in Raleigh, NC that had laser hair removal, but before she could even get to the final process, she was dead because of the topical numbing cream her doctor had given her to use before the procedure. She obviously had an allergic reaction. Tragic consequences that came out of the pursuit of vanity I say. Going back to the razor though, it kind of makes shaving fun, because even if the vibrating thing isn’t doing anything, it feels like a face massage, and that’s OK with me. I think that they have cornered the market on men’s beauty products anyway, so what’s one more thing to throw into the ring?

The big thing this week though is the Senate battle over judicial nominees (did you see how I segwayed into politics right from back hair – pretty cool eh??). We have this enormous jackass up there in the form of Bill Frist, who has been talking and talking and talking some more about triggering the nuclear option to rule out judicial filibusters. In order to do this, he would need a simple majority of Senators to vote to change Senatorial processes on the floor. In other words, he’d be taking away the minority dissent from the Senate floor on these remaining 12 nominees that Bush has kept trotting out to the Senate and the American people. While the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and the House for that matter, they could make this change very easily. Triggering this change though I think would be detrimental. This would make the Democrats go into full shut down mode for the most part. They would then be uncooperative in the Senate on everything else for the remainder of the term. It could be disastrous, and all because Bush wants ALL of his judicial nominees put onto the bench, and just not 99% of them. Since he’s been in office, Bush has had all of his nominees confirmed by the Senate except for these remaining 12. The Republicans in the Senate keep preaching about up or down votes on the Bush’s nominees because they are the people that Bush thinks should be on those benches. Well, they were singing a different tune when Clinton was in office, and they killed off 60 or more of his nominees in committee BEFORE they were allowed onto the Senate floor. 60! Let me say that again. 6-0! They obviously didn’t believe that all of Clinton’s nominees deserved up or down votes on the Senate floors, so why should Bush’s? Should we just pencil whip the judiciary arm of our government? I think not. This is most definitely blurring the line of the separation of powers. Essentially, the way that it has been since Bush took office is that he tells Congress what he wants, and he gets it. Almost no questions asked. You can really count on one hand the times a Republican Congressman/woman has questioned Bush on something, or raised doubts about what the President wanted or wants. McCain does it once in awhile, because he has a backbone. The Senators from Maine actually do it a lot as well, because they seem to be more mindful of being good common sense type of people rather than toting the party line 24/7. But for the rest, they’re just yes men and women who are at the beck and call of the President. Plainly, that just sucks.

I saw today where Bush is talking about vetoing a bill that would provide more money for research into stem cells. He doesn’t want more money going into this research. Once again, the Bush administration proves that they are very anti-science. For them, it’s all fine and good to kill off 100,000 innocent people in the name of the war on terrorism, but taking some stem cells from aborted fetuses and possibly using those stem cells in curing currently incurable ills in the world, and doing that with federal monies just seems to be an abomination to him. He equates it with basically taking a life to possibly save a life. Well, it’s just not like that Mr. President. The man is such a dumb ass, I can’t believe that we as a nation re-elected that mealy mouthed SOB. Really now. What were we thinking?

The other thing I found very funny this week was Laura Bush coming out and saying that she was going on a goodwill tour of the Middle East this week, or next week, or sometime here in the near future. She is going on this tour to promote the goodwill of the United States in general, mostly because, in her own words (I’m paraphrasing here of course), she needs to repair the damage done to America’s reputation from the Newsweek story about the desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. She must be off in la-la land. Lady, your husband has done more to damage the reputation of this great country over the last 5 years than any one person has probably done in history. Let me see what kind of list I can come up… Here are some things that have promoted ill will towards the US that he’s done:

• Breaking off all relations with North Korea
• Attacking Iraq
• Repeatedly ignoring the UN
• Attacking Afghanistan
• Supporting Israel
• Endangering relations with our NATO allies
• Responsible for starting the war in Iraq that has killed over 100,000 innocent people
• Making sure the rich get richer
• Trying to dismantle Social Security
• Drilling oil wells in the Arctic Refuge
• Pulling out of the Kyoto protocol (because he doesn’t believe global warming is ‘real’)
• Turning back environmental protections put into place by Clinton and previous administrations

And my list could go on forever…

The point is, the anti United States sentiment being portrayed by most of the rest of the world is not due to a 6 sentence story that ran in Newsweek, although the right wing talk radio shows would have you believe this, but by a muddled and shitty foreign policy being foisted upon the world by the Bush administration. And it shall continue at least until 2008, when hopefully, we’ll get him out of office, unless he changes the Constitution to allow himself another term to really run the country and probably the world into the ground. I mean, Hell, he already talked about getting the Constitution amended once before (so gay people couldn’t get married), but he dropped that as soon as he got re-elected. Funny how the right side of the political spectrum keeps trying to take rights away from people that they don’t already have. Ah, the right wing view of being the so-called persecuted MAJORITY. I love this concept that they have out there. It works. It really does work. Even when you’re in the majority, and are running things, and have been running things for a long time, the way to consolidate your power is to tell everyone that there are forces out there trying to attack and bring down your way of life, when the truth is so much further from that. But it does scare people, and energizes their base, which is why we’re stuck with an Alfred E. Neumann look-a-like in the White House bringing down the house around our ears. Bush is such a shmuck.

18 May 2005

Bathrooms and hand washing...

For those of you that know me, and know me well (this would be most people who have traveled with me to a race or 2 over the years), you know I tend to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Call it an overactive bladder, or something of that nature. Graham once said I shit more than a seagull, and well, he may be right. But this is not about the actual act of defecation, it’s about the act that should take place after you do your duty, or after you complete your morning/afternoon sabbatical as I call it. Yes, the act of washing one’s hands when they are done doing their business in the bathrooms of the world.

As sure as the sun comes up in the East every single morning, I’ll be in the men’s restroom at work, doing what comes so naturally to me, and someone else will waltz into the bathroom. I don’t have a problem with this because hey, it’s a public facility. All are welcome to come and use it. Listening to the action that takes place outside of the stall I’ve locked myself into I hear a fellow co-worker of mine relieve themselves either in the urinal or the stall next door to where I currently sit. Now, what happens after they get done is that the hands should be washed, or at the very least rinsed off, but 9 times out of 10 I don’t hear the water running. I just hear the person zip up, and walk out of the bathroom, hands unwashed, urine staining their mitts, and of course subsequently the handle of the door. Several times in the past when I’ve been copping a squat, I’ve seen the person or persons who have perpetrated this act (you can see through the cracks of the stall), and when I’ve known the person who did this, I called them out on it from behind the stall door. As in, “Hey! Aren’t you going to wash your little piss hands before you leave the bathroom??” Normally the response I would get from such a question runs along the lines of, “Well I didn’t piss on my hands, so no I’m not going to.” Now these are allegedly semi-well educated (most have attended and finished college and have a bachelor’s degree of some variety) individuals that I work with, and they don’t wash their hands. I’m not some crazy obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) guy over here. I’m just looking for them to not spread their germs and bodily fluids around the public restroom. I think I probably picked up this quirk of hand washing from my grandfather, affectionately known as Gaggy. If there was one thing in life that this man was and still is adamant about, it’s washing your hands after using the bathroom, and not just washing, but scrubbing. So I’m sure that some of that OCD of his was not lost on me when I was growing up and being forced to wash my hands all of the time when at their house. After using the bathroom, after petting the dog (dog’s name was Pistol), after being outside, before going outside, and so on and so forth, but I digress, back to the bathroom here… It’s bad enough that the men’s room allegedly gets cleaned several times a day, but always seems to smell like an isolated corner in an alley somewhere, and now these guys are bringing their dirty mitts back out into the workplace. I don’t know where they’re placing their hands after they leave the restroom. On the copier maybe? Or possibly on the water fountain? I just don’t know really, and it kind of scares me. If I was a germ-a-phobe like my friend Colin, I’d never be able to work in this joint. Then there is the even stranger case of one person that I work with. Like clockwork, he’ll roll into the bathroom, wash his hands before going relieving himself, and then walk out. What? Why does he do that? Why wash before you go but not after? This is something I just don’t plainly understand. I think I need to buy stock in Purell around here and keep a vat of that stuff sitting at my desk, because soon, it’s not going to be enough for me to just wash my hands, I’m going to have to sanitize them as well. If only I could steam clean them after going into the great wasteland that is the men’s bathroom. I think it entirely possible that if I did that, the flesh would probably fall from the fingers and hands, so we’ll have to skip that step, and I’ll just have to roll with the hand washing instead. Oh, and of course, when I leave the bathroom, I have to use the paper towels I just dried my hands with to open the door with. I won’t use my bare hands to open the door, because of the mere fact that I know that 9 out of 10 guys who go into that bathroom to rid themselves of excess fluids stored in their bladder don’t wash after doing the deed. It’s just disgusting really, and there’s really no reason for it. I’m thinking about starting a “Wash your hands” campaign at work with the advisement and support of the company nurse. Either that or I’ll just send out a bunch of internet links for people to peruse about hand washing. Here are a few that I found about the subject matter at hand (OK, pun fully intended there, and yes, I know it wasn’t funny):


Let me go on about the alleged restroom cleaning that is supposed to take place in the bathroom that I most frequent in my workplace. Sure, there is someone in there replacing the paper towels, and wiping down the countertop with plain water, but does the place really get clean?? Not even close. Standing over the urinal in the bathroom, one is greeted with the unexpected smell over severely rancid human urine. Looking at the urinal itself, you see it’s white and shiny, and it has a urinal cake in it, so it can’t possibly be the bathroom receptacle. Then your gaze falls onto the floor. The black, dirty, and semi-sticky floor. This, is where the stank is coming from. There is an accumulation of, how shall we call it, missed deposits on the floor beside, underneath, and on the stall next to the urinal in the men’s room. It wreaks. You can’t even imagine the stench wafting from the floor in this location. Several times over the past years I’ve complained to the HR department about this, but I think since they’re all women, and they don’t frequent the men’s room, they probably think I’m embellishing the state of the floor underneath the urinal. Well, I’m not. I’ve smelled port-o-johns that were cleaner than this floor. It got to a point a short while ago that I couldn’t use the urinal anymore because it made my stomach turn when I had to stand over the piss stained floor. Finally, one day, I’d had enough, and I pulled the HR manager into the bathroom after I had been in it, and of course when I knew nobody else was in there and made her stand over the urinal. Her face turned about 14 shades of green, and I knew that she got the point of my complaints before. Believe it or not, this final straw worked for the most part, and now, when our cleaning crew cleans the bathroom (a thankless job I might add but one that is unfortunately necessary) they actually MOP the floor, whereas before, they just ignored it like it would go away and not be noticed. So for the last few months, things have been better in the men’s room at work. Much better. This is not to say that I still don’t scrub my paws and open the door with a paper towel, but at least the floor doesn’t feel like the sticky floor of the Rumford Cinema that used to be normally covered with all sorts of filth and interesting things (well, at least when the local movie theatre was still open in Rumford Maine circa 1988). At least now, I can go in there and not feel like I’m coming out more dirty than when I went into the place. Well, most of the time that is.

13 May 2005


Commuting. Let me just say that commuting sucks. That’s about as basic and plain as I can make it really. Driving, 45 minutes one way, every single work day, for the last almost 4 years, really sucks. The mileage is rotten as well. It’s 35 miles one way, and that’s just to get to work. Add in another 5-10 miles for driving around at lunch, and with the way gas prices are right now, it all adds up to something rather dreary. I pay a lot for gas. This morning, I filled up, and I have a small semi-economical 4 cylinder car, and the tank is not that large (15 gallon) and it added up to over $30. Just for a comparison, when I first moved down to NC in the summer of 1999, it would normally take me under $12 to fill up my car with the same sized tank, then again, gas prices were below a dollar, whereas now, they’re closer to 2 and ½ dollars. Yikes! Ouch! It hits the wallet pretty hard when you have to fill up your car 2 times during the week. Once at the start of it, and then again towards the end of it. If only it were possible to ride my bike to work, but that’s just a pipe dream really. I’ve done it a couple of times, and never have I been more frightened of riding on a road then when I rode my bike to work. The roads between my house and Roxboro, NC are filled with rabid backcountry redneck drivers who think it is their God given right to take the entire lane, and to throw things at you as they pass. If they don’t throw anything at you, normally they’ll yell something very appropriate like, “FAG!” or “WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD YOU QUEER!” Anything that they do yell at you is almost always followed by some sort of homosexual derogatory statement. They think anyone riding a bike in tight shorts must be a gay homosexual. This is always very funny and entertaining to me, because for one thing, I know that I’m not gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that (Seinfeld reference). And second, the same guys who yell these things at you invariably have some sort of sticker on their car representing their man-love for Dale Earnhardt Jr. or some other NASCAR driver who they worship and would probably do cartwheels for if they were ever to actually meet them somewhere. I think there is just a lot of latent homosexuality seething in the South. These guys will just keep it under wraps because they live in the Bible Belt and all. Don’t want to disappoint God or anything like that. I mean come on, does anyone remember Deliverance for crying out loud??

Going back to the original point before I got off on a very weird tangent there, commuting. I’d rather not do it if I could. Unfortunately it has become a rather large part of my life now. 9 hours at work. 1.5 hours in the car. 10.5 hours total each day just for work, add in another 8-9 hours of sleep, and I’m looking at free time only in the range of 6-7 hours each day, and I’m not really sure where all of that goes at times. Ideal situation for me, living where I live, and working somewhere in town. I could wake up later, ride my bike to work, and leave the car parked for the most part during the week. I think my frame of mind would be so much better if that were the case. Alas, manufacturing jobs are never located within an actual town. They’re always on the outskirts, or placed into some location that is far away and out of the way for most normal people, because people don’t want a manufacturing location plopped down into their backyard. And of course in America where the car is King, it’s never a problem to find people to staff these locations, because dumb-asses like me, are willing to drive 40-45 minutes every morning to get to work. In my own defense, if you’ve ever been to Roxboro, you’d know why I live in Chapel Hill instead of close to work. Sure, I could like very close to where I work, but I’m pretty sure I’d either have to commit myself to a mental institution after residing in this town for about 1-2 months, or I’d just commit some sort of ritual suicide to get away from it. It’s very depressed and depressing around here, as much as I can tell from just working here. I don’t think it’s very conducive for, well, anything. The one upside to it though, is that (for those who know baseball) Enos “Country” Slaughter was from Roxboro. He’s the one famous resident from this town. Of course, that’s one more famous person than Mexico Maine ever had, as far as I know (are there any famous people from Mexico Maine?? And no, Randy Judkins doesn’t count (
http://www.randyjudkins.com/). Anyone who juggles balls for a living I don’t think can be considered “famous” by any stretch of the imagination.

The other thing that really bothers me about commuting is the traffic. This isn’t any run of the mill traffic that you’d think about really, and for the most part, my drive is more or less unimpeded. Meaning, I don’t have a stop and go situation in the morning, but the people I have to drive behind. It’s infuriating. I’d almost rather be stuck in gridlock. Driving to work involves me going through some back roads in Orange and Person counties in North Carolina. Driving these back roads along with me are dump trucks, little old ladies, and people who just don’t seem to know how to drive their cars anywhere near the legal and posted speed limit. 55 means you can drive 55, or if you’re feeling so obliged, maybe even a little faster (which is helpful). Also, in my lifetime of driving, I had never had a windshield get broken until I started driving to Roxboro from Chapel Hill. In the time span that I have been doing this drive, I’ve managed to have 4 windshields broken. 4!! This is really unacceptable, and it all stems from the gravel pit that lies off of Route 57 that I travel, and the dump trucks that pick-up loads of gravel from said gravel pit. They drive slow, and sometimes in the afternoon, the road is a little backed up, and it’s hard to pass someone. Going 35 mph when all you want to do is to get home is hair pulling and head banging frustrating. So you get closer to the truck to pass, and you see it. One small rock bounces from the bed of the dump truck, and it’s like it’s in slow motion traveling through the air. You see its spin, and its roll, and then, SMACK! Spider webs in the windshield, again… Then we have the folks who won’t drive 55 on a 2 lane back road, even though the road is straight and very non-technical in its nature. Then as we careen and wind through the countryside at a safe 45-40 mph, and we approach a small stretch of a 4 lane divided highway, their speed all of a sudden jumps up to well over 65, therefore preventing me the chance to pass. As soon as the road goes back to 2 lanes, their speed drops back down into the “frustration zone” of things. People should really just learn how to use their cruise control, and things would be so much easier in the long run. Well, at least for me it would be. I mean, if everyone drove like me, the world would be a much better, and safer I might add, place to be in. Because hell, I’m a very good driver (channeling Rainman over here). I also have the biggest problem with people pulling out in front of me. One second, I’m cruising along doing 65 or so down the back roads. I see someone waiting at an intersection to move into traffic. This will almost, without a doubt, happen before I get to the intersection. This means, slamming on of brakes, and me slowing down to accept the other car into my lane. I wouldn’t have so much a problem with this happening if for; 1. It didn’t happen to me every single day, and 2. There wasn’t 4 miles of empty road behind me. So instead of waiting another 5 seconds for me to pass, these complete moronic assholes decide that they need to be on the road, in front of me, NOW! I almost always give them the horn, and or the finger, and if they’re really lucky, sometimes both.

If only I had a surplus transporter from Star Trek to get me to and from work, now that would be something. On another note about the transporter from Star Trek… Did you know Gene Rodenberry (Star Trek creator) came up with the transporter idea because he didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of creating landing and taking off sequences for the Enterprise during the weekly show. It’s a true story, but I digress, I’m just a trivia geek. I just wish that the physicists would figure that one out sooner rather than later.

12 May 2005

Bolton - No not Michael


Take a look at this guy. He just looks like an asshole. I mean, there are people out there that look like assholes, and there are people that ARE assholes, but this guy, he is both an asshole and he looks like an asshole. If you were walking down the street and he was walking the other way, you’d say to yourself, “This guy looks like a complete and utter asshole.” Admit it. You’d think that to yourself. Then again, I’m sure there are tons of people who think such things about me as well, but we’re not talking about me right now, we’re talking about this Bolton guy.

Bush, in his never ending quest to ramrod things down the American people’s throats has nominated this peach of a guy to be our representation at the United Nations. Funnily enough, this man, Bolton, has railed against the mere existence of the United Nations for many years. He’s been, and probably still will be, vehemently against the theory and the practice of the UN as it is now and might be in the future. In the “real” world, this guy would have been fired and put out on the sidewalk many years ago. The people who are for him say things like this , "The picture is one of an aggressive policy-maker who pressed his missions at every opportunity and argued vociferously for his point of view. In the process, his blunt style alienated some colleagues, but there is no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct." I can agree with one part of that statement. He probably hasn’t broken any laws. That’s about it though. The statement about “blunt style” screams to me that he bullies his way around the room, and gets what he wants (even if it’s not the right thing), and will take down anyone in his way. Bolton was personally responsible for scrapping the agreements that we had with North Korea about uranium enrichment, and essentially could be seen as the one person most responsible for them possibly having a nuclear weapon or 2 in the arsenal. He thought that we should not do business or negotiate with North Korea, so this whole thing that was worked out during the Clinton administration was taken off the table when Bush rolled into office, and this guy was the architect of that. Sometimes, I would like to think, that as a diplomat, and a politician, that you might listen to dissenting opinions, and listen to other arguments, take other people’s advice, and then make some decisions. Everything I’ve heard about this guy says different. It’s either his way, or the highway. Sounds like someone else I know in the world of politics (George W. Bush anyone??). No wonder Bush loves this guy, they’re just alike. It’s all about me, me, and more me, and what I want, not what might be good for the country. It disgusts me that Bush keeps coming up with people like this to “serve” the American public. At least there is one US Senator not toting the Bush party line this time. Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio, described Bolton as "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be." Damn, at least someone in Washington gets it. Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s former top aide, said that Bolton was not allowed to make comments in public, unless his comments or statements were personally reviewed by him before they were uttered. Bolton has also been described as a kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy. Sounds to me that he is someone that just has his nose shoved into someone’s ass, which as most of us know will actually get you far in life, especially in politics. Look at the Bush cabinet. Every single person on it is a yes-man, or a yes-woman. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in one of those cabinet meetings. I’m pretty sure it goes something like, “President Bush, that’s a stupendous idea and thought! We should do that immediately!!” This would be the standard response for, I would imagine everything brought up in said meeting. But Bolton, yeah, I don’t think he’s the right man for the job in this case. We need someone with more tact, someone with more couth, and someone that can work with other countries to effect a change for the better. He sounds more like a man out to push the Bush agenda back onto the rest of the world, which as we’ve seen time and again, that’s not what the rest of the world really wants most of the time.

Bolton, when confirmed, as I have no doubt he will be, will cause waves of all the wrong kind at the UN. We’ve already heard the rhetoric from Senator Richard Lugar that since Bolton was Bush’s choice, he should be confirmed immediately. I can’t believe what a bunch of underwear sniffers our Congressmen and Congresswomen have become in the time of King George. Most of them seem to be taking the line of, well, this is what the President wants so we should give it to him. What the hell happened to the practice of checks and balances? What happened to informed debate? What happened to talking about things before just pushing them through?? This doesn’t seem to happen anymore on Capitol Hill, which scares me. With the Republican majority in the Senate and The House, everything Bush wants, Bush gets. He hasn’t vetoed one piece of legislation since he was first elected President. That seems strange. Not one veto? Not one dissent. This theory of “what he wants he gets” keeps going with his judicial nominees. The President gets every single one of his judicial nominees appointed except for what are considered the most extreme 12 or so nominees. Since Republicans control the judiciary committee, they get these 12 onto the floor for votes. Enter the filibuster. Which has caused quite a bit of consternation from the majority leader Frist. Which is funny since back when Clinton was trying to get judicial nominees through, he enacted a filibuster to stop some of his nominees. The difference, even in a Republican controlled majority, was that Clinton’s nominees (at least the ones that made it to the floor) were moderate enough to have a 2/3rds vote taken in their favor for a vote of confirmation. So when the Republicans talk about the filibuster never having been used to stop a judicial nominee from being voted on, they’re mostly right, because their attempts at filibustering in the past have been met with the 2/3rds vote getting said nominees out onto the floor for a vote. So, as always, you have to read a little between the lines before you get the real story of what’s going on now, and what’s gone on in the past. It’s still amazing though, that Bush re-nominates the same people who were turned down the first time, and he’s fuming mad that not ALL of his nominees have been confirmed. In the history of the United States, he’s had more judicial nominees confirmed than any other President, which says to me he probably made some half decent choices there (well that and his party controls the vote and has the majority). But once again, going back to the theme I was talking about before with this administration, it’s once again, it HAS to be Bush’s way. He wants all of them confirmed. It’s not enough that he’s had more than anyone else, he wants them all, and will actually stop at nothing to get that done and completed. Including having Frist change the rules so they can circumvent the filibusters being thrown out there by the Democrats. The only upside to this is that I think it can definitely place the Republicans into a bad light, and when the next election cycle comes around, the Democrats might be able to take back the majority of one or possibly both the House and Senate.

Some possible interesting reading for you out there:

What about the theory that many have put out there, including Majority leader Frist, that anyone against the remaining judicial nominees put forth by Bush are anti-Christian somehow. This is amazing to me. So now, according to the religious right of the political spectrum, if you oppose Bush’s nominees, you are a God-less heathen who is most definitely going to Hell, because these folks nominated are good people of faith. Give me a freakin’ break. Whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or some other religion doesn’t matter one little bit. As long as you are fair and impartial, it wouldn’t matter to me what religion you are. Some folks most definitely think differently. They think that everyone should espouse Christian values, and that there should be a copy of the 10 Commandments posted in every courthouse in the land. Pretty soon, and this might just happen, the US could turn into a fundamentalist country that is no better, in reality, than say, somewhere like Iran that is a fundamentalist Muslim country. We’d be living under Christian Biblical law, which some people on the surface might say is great, but in reality, most people would never be able to do it. Too many rules to follow, and too strict, and the people that want this to happen are Old Testament kinds of people. Fire, brimstone, old wrath of God type stuff. I don’t think that would jibe too well with the whole, “Land of the free” moniker that we’ve given ourselves.

Weird things...

I have this issue. I've had this issue for a long time, but it always seems to come at me about this time of year more than other times of the year, I think mostly because it's warming up nicely in the South, and people start to go beach crazy (that's another item for discussion). For me though, I have this firm belief and or fear that there are weird things swimming around in the ocean, and they're going to get me if I swim in said ocean with them.

I'm not sure where this innate fear stems from. As a kid, I never spent a lot of time at the beach, well, make that I never spent any time at the beach, and when you live in Maine, it's very seldom that the water warms up enough in the ocean to actually swim in it. I do remember being in the ocean though, and feeling the tide moving me around, the seaweed floating around me, and then something bumping into me. I'm sure it was just a small little fish or something, but that freaked me out (as it would just about any 10-11 year old kid), and I bolted out of the water. Now, bolting out of the water for a plump overweight pasty white kid from Maine was something all and of itself, but I ran like I had never run before, and by that, I mean fast. I went back into the water later on in the day if I remember correctly, but somewhere in the back of my head, that little incident festered into a psychological scar that I carry with me to this day. Maybe this is why I don't like the beach so much. No, there are other reasons for that (some of which we'll get into at some point in time). Fast forward to the year 1997. Location, Myrtle Beach, SC. I'm walking along the beach with a woman who would become my fiance, and then later break things off with me (again, another story), and we came across a sign posted in the sand by some sort of local authority. It said something about sharks being in the area of the beach, and that there have been sightings, but no attacks as far as they could tell thus far, so it should be "safe" to be in the water, just be aware of what's going on around you. OK... Sharks. Water. I won't be going into that puddle of water known as the Atlantic Ocean during this trip. In order to reinforce the sign in the back of my mind, as we continue walking down the beach, we see a rather large fish, which has been bitten completely in half, and is now laying on the sand on the beach. Large teeth marks are prevalent where this fish has been bitten in half and eaten. This fish is about the size of my 2 legs if they were put together. Now, I don't know what bit this fish in half, but chances are good, it's something I don't want to run into while swimming in the ocean, splish splashing about without a care in the world. Without a care in the world that is, until... CHOMP! Something bites your frigin' leg off. So now we have 2 strikes against the ocean on this one trip. A sign warning of sharks and a large fish decomposing on the sand (the smell was incredible, and by incredible I mean awful) that had been clamped down in a vice like set of teeth and mangled. Strike 3 came later on in the day, when I was standing in the water near the shoreline, when the future fiance/girl who dumped me, came running out of the water like an American sprinter on steroids. Something had just bumped into her while she was out swimming. Once again, probably was nothing, but let's not take chances. We spent the rest of that vacation on the sand drinking cocktails, and ignoring the call of the water. Which for her was a sort of dicey thing because she was a competitive swimmer who claimed to like swimming in the open water of the ocean, but she wasn't going back in. If she wasn't going back in, neither was I. To Hell with that one.

There are weird things that swim around in the ocean. You're always seeing something strange getting pulled up in some fisherman's net somewhere around the world, and what's to keep those weird things from coming to get me if I choose to swim in the ocean? Umm, nothing could prevent such a take down. The ocean is also vast and expansive, and I'm certain there are things floating around in the ocean that we'll never know about and will go undiscovered, but that doesn't mean they can't "get you" while you're in their territory. Lakes, ponds, and rivers are a different story for me. Maybe I just have something completely against salt water, but get me near a clean and clear lake, pond, or a river, and I'll swim without a second thought. In North Carolina though, most of the freshwater bodies of water though are either polluted so much that you can't swim in them (lots of rivers), or the lakes are manmade, meaning dam lakes, and the water looks like chocolate milk. So most of the time, I save my freshwater swimming for when I go home to Maine where there are actually still a lot of pristine waters to swim in, or if I happen to know someone who happens to have a pool either in their apartment complex or at their house. It's funny because as a kid, I couldn't be torn away from the water. I spent summers either in my Aunt and Uncle's pool, or in the river up the street from my house. I miss the days where I could leave my parent's house on my BMX bike, ride up the road about a mile, and be at the first of many swimming holes on Route 17. Good stuff. It was a good way to kill a summer when you were old enough to do what you wanted to do during the day, but not old enough to actually get a job. Being, say, 12-15 years old, those were prime years of fun.

Going back this beach thing though. People in NC are beach crazy. By beach crazy, I mean this seems to be the only place where they are willing to go on vacation. If you ask someone around here what they're going to do for a vacation this year, the common response is (and this is given with a look of disdain and hurt like you should know the answer already), "We're going to the beach for a week or so." This would be my personal Hell. I get bored at the beach. So there is sand, water, and wind. That's about it. There's no action at the beach, nothing goes on at the beach. Sure you could throw a frisbee or something like that, and by the time the end of the day rolls around you've been in too much sun and water to want to go out and do anything, so you sit at home, and sleep. And repeat, day after day until you go home. As I mentioned, nightmare. Then again, my idea of a vacation would make people want to cry. For instance. My vacation this year will see me flying to the great State of Wisconsin to race my bicycle for a period of 10 days. Vacation for me, not so much for other people I'm sure. People look at me weird when I tell them this is what I'm going to do with my time off. This is not to say that I'm completely and totally anti-beach. I'm just anti North Carolina beach for the most part. I could go there anytime. If I'm going to go to a beach, it's going to have to be in the Caribbean, or somewhere that's actually exotic, as opposed to something like Myrtle Beach that's just an oversized tourist trap where you can get cheap t-shirts and lots of traffic. Hawaii would be OK as well, as would something in like Southern France, or like I said, somewhere exotic and mysterious, and different. Also, it has to be quiet for the most part. If I'm on vacation, the last thing I'm going to want to do is get caught in traffic, and have to eat at Planet Hollywood or some other chain novelty eatery. I want peace, and serenity. Not so much to ask for is it?

09 May 2005

Cell phones and IM

Cell phones and IM (instant messaging for those of you not in "the know" of things) have become so prevalent in the community that I live in that it's actually become very annoying. I think that it does have a lot to do with living in a college town, but it's just completely and utterly annoying at times. OK, most of the time.
As I either ride my bike down the streets of Chapel Hill or drive around in my car in and around Chapel Hill I see it all around me. College kids walking down the street yapping on their cell phones, driving their Mom and Dad provided BMWs yapping on their cell phones, it's like it's not OK to be out of contact for even one minute. This is the world that we live in. Constant communication and contact 24/7 no matter what. It wasn't that long ago that anyone who had a cell phone had to have some cash on-hand, a lot of cash. First, the phones weren't cheap, and the service, even less cheap. I have to admit that I have been on the cell phone wagon for a long time (since 1995 or so), but in my own defense, back in those days, I traveled a lot, and had an unreliable car. It would be nice to have contact with someone should something happen to me on the road. And also back in the day, we didn't carry our phones around with us, mostly because there was not that much coverage and we couldn't be reached most of the time anyway, but for most of us, they had a permanent place of residence in our glove compartments in our cars. And most times, they were just turned off. Who is going to call me on a cell phone anyway?? Obviously times have changed. Technology has improved vastly, and coverage has increased probably a thousand times better than it used to be, and hence the proliferation of cell phones on the general populace. Spending the last few bike racing seasons traveling with a college kid has given me general insight into how cell phones are now used with the modern era of people. Essentially, said cell phone is stuck to his ear. Many calls are received, many calls are placed, and a general disavowance of what is actually going on around this person (in his presence) is disregarded for talking on the cell phone. I had a good example of this one weekend. I was in a car, driving to dinner with 4 college kids. Bear in mind that total elapsed travel time from hotel to the eatery we were going to dine at was 10 minutes at the most. In that period of time, every single person in the vehicle, except for me, was talking on their cell phones. The entire drive over. And the calls kept coming. During dinner. After dinner. And on the way back to the hotel. I kind of give the kids the old stink eye when they whip out their cell phone at dinner to talk with someone about something very inconsequential, and at one point in time, they would put it away, but now, they just ignore the stink eye and keep on talking. How rude is it to be out to dinner with a bunch of people and take phone calls during the entire time that you're eating? Very rude indeed. It's just not good manners. Now, one time I was out with a doctor friend of mine, and she laid her phone on the table, and said that she was on-call that evening, and that someone might call for advice. This is acceptable. A college kid whose roommate calls him to say that they're going to have a raging party this particular evening, or who just happened to see a gorgeous woman walking down the street and felt the need to tell someone about it, not acceptable. Not acceptable at all. And driving... Don't even get me started on that one. I do it on occasion myself, so I probably shouldn't cast stones, but when you're driving down the road in the middle of town, and you actually need to pay close attention to what you're doing, they're just talk, talk, talking away, and almost running me over with their parent provided cars in the process. I just wish they'd pay closer attention at times. OK, all of the time.
IM is another case in point. It's just another means for today's youth to stay in constant contact with their peeps. According to the SO, IM is so rampant, that kids are trying to do it during classtime, during the time when they're supposed to be getting an edumacation at an institute of higher learning. Now I didn't pay super close attention all the time when I was in school, but at least I "pretended" like I was when I was in class. I didn't tap away on my laptop during the class chatting with my friend sitting 2 seats away. I know college kids who leave their IM on ALL THE TIME. 24/7/365 they do. Even when they're nowhere near their computer. It drives me up the wall.
Why do we need to be in constant contact all of the time? Why do we need to be on the grid and always available? I don't like to be myself. I like some quiet time. I do bring my phone with me most places that I go, but there are actually times when I won't answer it. Yes, believe it or not, I won't answer my phone at times, depending on the situation that I'm in. My friend Curtis finds this astonishing that I don't answer every call that comes into me. I just use the old adage of, if it's really important, they'll leave me a message and I can get back to whomever it is that's calling me. I like for it to be quiet sometimes, and the ringing of a cell phone would just ruin it all.

06 May 2005

Backing in...

Why do people persist in backing into parking spots? This is something that I have never ever understood in the 16 years that I've been driving a motor vehicle on the highways and by-ways of America. If you look at the way a parking lot is designed, it is designed for you to pull in and not back in. Being an engineer, I can recognize these designs very easily. The parking space for example. Just large enough for you to fit your car into so that you have enough space to open your door and get out and get to where you're going. The aisle behind your car that drove on to get to said parking space, 2 lanes wide, and very easy to maneuver through. If you pull into a parking space and have to back out, the lane and or aisle behind you is a lot wider, and larger than the parking space to begin with, so it's very much easier to back out into the lane, and pull away. If you back into a parking space, it takes forever. Most of the time I'm a patient person, but if there is someone around me backing into a spot, and I have to wait for them to back in, move forward, correct their position, back in some more, move forward again, correct their position, and then back in again, and then finally open their door to make sure they're not too close to the vehicle behind them, and then once more go through the process of moving forward and finally backing fully into their parking spot. This takes 5-10 minutes for most people that I've seen try to accomplish this task. All the while, I'm waiting because they're half in and half out of the travel lane of the parking lot, and I can't move. When I finally can get past them, I PULL into my parking space, stop my car, get out, lock doors, and walk past them as they struggle with the backing in process further. I don't get it. Why do you need the nose of your car pointing out? Planning on making a quick get-a-way when you do have to leave wherever you are? I do concede though that pulling through (like when there is an open space in front of you and you can have your car nose out towards the travel lane of the parking lot) is a very acceptable means of parking your car. I have also found that for the most part, the people who most often back in to a parking spot, tend to be rednecks.
This brings me to another point I've been thinking of. People I know in North Carolina fail to believe that there is such a thing as a redneck in Maine. I beg to differ. Having lived in both places for a good amount of time, I can firmly and unequivocally state that there are plenty of rednecks in Maine. The only difference between the 2 redneck species is the accent. While the Maine accent sounds something like a Massachusetts accent slowed down and drawn out (Thom Bosley did a very bad impression of it on the Murder She Wrote TV show, and most Stephen King movies have someone doing a bad Maine accent), the Southern accent is, well, Southern y'all. You know what I mean. Rednecks in Maine, and rednecks in North Carolina both love the same things. They rank (in no particular order mind you) as follows:
Beer Drinkin'
Garages (as long as it's bigger than your house)
Pick 'em Up Trucks
Loud Cars
Ball Sports (Football, Basketball, and more or less Baseball - soccer is no good)
I guess the one exception is that rednecks in Maine tend to do a lot of their fishing through sheets of ice in the winter, whereas for the most part in North Carolina you can fish open water the year through. That's it. Those are the only differences (aside from the previously stated accent difference). I'm sure that if somehow we could get the Southern redneck together with the Northern redneck variety, all animosity towards the North for winning the "War of Northern Aggression" (ie The Civil War) would be done and finally over with.

Bible Theories...

Living in the Bible Belt of the Southeastern USA, one comes to a certain appreciation, or comes to a certain understanding about Christianity that you probably didn't have before you lived here. God and Christianity assails you from all sides when living in the South. You're never very far from it. Never. Some may argue that this is a good thing. Well, I guess that just all depends on how you view this certain form of religion to begin with. I see it all of the time. It goes from the people I work with who sign their e-mails, "Have a blessed day" to just driving along down any road in North Carolina where there appears to be a church literally every mile or so. It's actually kind of annoying if you ask me. They just beat you over the head with it.
Anyway, the Bible, the end all be all document for the folks from the Bible belt. Most people I know at my workplace have one on their desk, they read it at lunch, and carry it around like it was their lifeblood. Which to some of them, it just might be. Now going back into my Catholic education, I'm to understand that the Bible is the literal word of God as it was handed down to mere mortals through some sort of divine intervention. The prophets wrote the Bible, and the disciples wrote of their stories and travels with Jesus throughout the years. The biggest problem that I have with folks and the Bible is the fact that they take it as the literal word of God. And the problem that I have with it, is that it wasn't written by God, it was written by the hand of men. Men are fallible, and therefore I can deduct that their writings are subject to the same failings. The other major problem that I have with it, is that a lot of these writings came from people (the prophets) who said that they heard God talking to them. OK. Today if you have someone who says you have God talking to them, nobody believes them, and generally these same folks get a good looking over by a mental health professional. A lot of times, the "voice of God" that these people are hearing is nothing more than a schizophrenic break with reality. These are the people that you can see standing on a corner somewhere with a sign reading something like, "THE END IS NIGH!! REPENT SINNERS!!" or something along those lines. These are no doubt, the same people who wrote large chunks of the Bible. Back in the day, these folks didn't know anything about mental illnesses, so if someone heard voices, it had to be divine intervention. It couldn't have possibly been their own brain playing tricks on them. This is why I don't think I place a lot of stock in the Bible and its teachings. They were probably written by a bunch of raving lunatics who went untreated in their mental illnesses because people back then didn't have the capacity to understand what was happening, nor the medical knowledge to correct it. If they had lithium back then, we probably wouldn't have had the Bible as we know it now.
The other thing that really bugs me about living in the Bible belt is the relentless pursuit by Christian conservative groups to press their agenda into public schools. They want to teach the Bible as literature, they want to teach creationism and intelligent design instead of actual sound science like evolution, and the thing that especially bothers me is that the only form of sex education that they want to teach is abstinence. They think, and I can't believe that people actually still think this way, that if sex is not presented to the kids, they won't do it. I guess that's why North Carolina has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Abstinence education must be working oh so well. If you tell a kid about safe sex and condoms, this isn't going to make them go out and do it. When are people going to realize this? The other argument that parents come up with is that they want to teach their kids about such things, and they don't want schools teaching them about it. Well, this would be find and well, except the parents don't take the responsibility to teach this to their kids. They just ignore it. The other sticking point, and this allegedly goes back to the Bible, is that whenever they try to teach kids about homosexuality, they cry foul! They cry about how this is against God's will, and against their religious beliefs, and how it's just wrong and that they don't want the "homosexual agenda" propagated to their kids. Homosexual agenda. This is a term that makes me laugh. Do people really think that there are groups of homosexuals running around the country trying to recruit their kids into their "movement"? Trust me. There are people who think this. I heard a bunch of them talking about it on NPR yesterday. These same folks, I wish I could remember their group name, were railing on about how they aren't homophobes, but that they just don't want to hear about it, don't want their kids to know about it, and basically just want to disavow any knowledge that it exists in the world at large. Yeah, not homophobic. That would be akin to me proclaiming that I don't have a hairy back, when everyone I know knows damn well that I do. These people of course do this in the name of God. I have to believe that God is probably pretty pissed at the stuff that people try to do in his/her name. Same goes for Jesus.
Why is it every Christian or conservative group, or combine the 2, relate themselves to the word "family" somehow? Are the rest of us that don't maybe have a religious affiliation, or are to the left of the political spectrum of things any less inclined to be family type of people? I think not. It makes me mad when I hear someone proclaiming family values. As if someone else doesn't have them just because they think differently. I do believe that the Christian right movement has become emboldened after the 2004 elections, where their horses won a lot of races, and now they are trying to ramrod their values down the rest of the country's throat. I feel like it's almost the 1920's again. People trying to get the Bible taught in public schools, intelligent design accepted as fact, labeling biology books because they contain mentions of evolution in them, and then there are the dominionists. These are the people to be especially afraid of. These are the people who want to turn America into a fundamentalist Christian nation. Think Iran, except for Christians instead of Muslims. They want to enforce Old Testament law, and essentially kick anyone out who doesn't agree with them. You might think that this is some sort of fringe movement, but indeed, they have about 3 million people who believe in this crap, and who are working to effect that change. Be on the lookout. Check out this link to a Rolling Stone story about this group of people: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/7235393?pageid=rs.Home&pageregion=single7&rnd=1112887778015&has-player=true&version=
And I'm out.

03 May 2005

Subway and lines...

So look, working in a town called Roxboro North Carolina, you don't have much in the way of getting something for lunch, let alone getting something that might be healthy (OK, more or less healthy). With that in mind, I've become a regular at the old Subway down the street from the workplace. I highly recommend the grilled chicken and baby spinach salad. Sure, the chicken isn't really grilled, and the rest of the vegetables aren't super fresh, but once again, working in Roxboro, it's a safer bet than say eating at a place called Hog Heaven. There are one or two other places in town that I would consider eating at as well. There is the good old American Hero deli (run by a bunch of really super nice Egyptian guys), and there is another place called Clarkesville Station which has what I would consider quite possibly the best marinated chicken sandwich I've ever had. Not sure what they soak those chicken breasts in, but it is good eating. But I digress, this is about Subway, not my gastrointestinal adventures in the big C-I-T-Y of Roxboro.

I've run into this problem as of late going into Subway, and it seems to keep happening to me on a weekly basis. I'll get in line, and I'll be in the "on deck" circle so to speak (next up to get my order taken care of), but for some insane reason, whoever the person in front of me seems to be, they have taken orders for every Tom, Dick, and Harry at their workplace. Look people, this is a Subway. It's supposed to be fast food, not wait in line food as it's turned into as of late. I am not even close to kidding when I say that I got into line this afternoon, and the woman 1 person in front of me had a list of orders that was 15 sandwiches long. 15!! I am going to start a letter writing campaign to Subway headquarters, wherever that may be, and suggest that along with the rules that they post near the ordering station about how their "sandwich artists" are only allowed to put onto the sandwich you order the correct "formula" for whatever sandwich you order, that no person who comes into that place can order more than 2 sandwiches at the same time. I'd limit it to just 1 sandwich, but I'll allow for someone to come in and order for their SO (remember, this means significant other) or their kid, or something like that. But 15 sandwiches!! This just fries my brain that I have to wait almost 30 minutes to get a salad.

The other thing, aside from people who order too many sandwiches at Subway, that bothers me are the people who roll in there, order their 1 sandwich, and then can't seem to decide what to get on it. Hello? Folks? The ingredients are right there in front of you blocked off with a handy dandy sneeze guard. Just look down, pick the veggies and or fake cheese that you want on your sandwich, and be done with it already. I'm assuming that since you're at Subway, it's probably not the first time that you've ever had a sandwich in your life. You are probably already aware of the things that you like on a sandwich, and I'm certain that Subway has those same things that you do like (in most cases). Just go in there with even half a clue of what you want, and I won't have to take up my valuable time waiting for you to decide whether or not you want mustard or mayo on that sandwich. Those are basic condiments. This is something that everyone should know. The only thing worse than NOT knowing what you want on your sandwich are the people that get something put on their sandwich, and then decide that they don't want said item on there, and they make the poor underpaid minimum wage hearing Subway workers make them a new sandwich. All the while, there are rumblings of dissent coming from the back of the line. Just to make it perfectly clear, I don't blame the Subway workers at all. I blame the people going in there. If I ever do something of this nature, I give you permission to crack me in the head with a steel toed shoe for my inability to order a sandwich and have it made in a timely manner.

Continuing on a Subway trend here. I do remember the first time a Subway opened in my hometown back when I was in high school. Up until that point in time, the only fast food joint that we had in town, well, sort of in town, was a McDonald's that resided slightly out of town out on US Route #2 as you headed out of Rumford Maine. Right near the McDonald's was a business plaza that contained a store named Zayre's (I think I spelled that right), which was like a scaled down version of a K-Mart. Anyway, Subway opened and there were lines out of the store and down the sidewalk. You would think that people within the 2 combined small towns of Mexico and Rumford had never had a sandwich in their entire lives. It was a cultural phenomenon in the 2 small burgs. I, being ever the semi nonconformist, decided that I would avoid the crowds, and get a sandwich from them a month or so after the hype had died down. The hype actually didn't die down, it just kept going. The place was packed morning, noon, and night. It must have been the highest grossing per capita Subway in the world at that point in time. Never wanting to deal with the crowds swarming the new local Subway, I never did get a sandwich there. Instead I returned (well, actually never left) to my roots of getting sandwiches from the local corner store just a hop, skip, and a jump down the street from the family home at the place formerly known as Romey's Market, and now known as Phil's Place. I think now (in 2005) it is known as The Mexico One Stop. Hey, support local businesses, and local business people. I still believe in that today. Well, that, and it was walking distance from the house, so there was no car required to get there, and to order food from there one only had to walk down the street, say hello to Phil, get your order, and walk home. They had good stuff there. Probably still do. So yeah, Subway didn't start getting my business until much later on down the road. Now, I'm a frequenter. Once again, limited options, Roxboro North Carolina (look it up on a map you'll see what I mean).

Now to start that letter writing campaign. I'm sure it would start something like, "Dear Jared..."

02 May 2005


If you've been following the news at all this past week, you've undoubtedly seen the story about the bride to be in Georgia who ran away from her own wedding because of the immense size and scale of what her ceremony was conceived to be. Let me just run down some of the quick statistics that I read in the news. 14 bridesmaids, 14 groomsmen, 600 guests, and 8 wedding showers. Is this really necessary? Isn't it supposed to be about the marriage anyway? What are these people thinking? I'm pretty sure there were probably fireworks to be shot off at the end of this putrid ceremony. I don't blame this woman one little bit for running like the wind from this business. It sounds like it was something that she didn't want, and was probably foisted on her by her parents who wanted to show the town they were from how important they were. I'm betting good money that out of the 600 people that were invited to this mess, the bride and groom probably only knew a small portion of those attending.
This brings me to another point. If you are getting married, why don't you just have the important people in your life attend to share it with you? This makes sense. Doesn't it? Well, to some, I'm sure it does, but to some others, I'm sure that it doesn't. I had a recent chance to see the wedding machine in full tilt this weekend when I went with my SO (significant other for those of you not in "the know") to a bridal mart to help her pick up bridesmaids dresses for a wedding that she's going to be in later this summer. Now this bridal mart has these very specific rules. You must pick up all of the dresses at the same time. You have to come and get them within 2 weeks of when they send you a card saying that the dresses are in. You might be delayed in getting your order because they might be busy. In preparation for this, the SO brought snacks and reading material just in case we were delayed in getting the dresses from the bridal mart. Luckily, we were in and out in a matter of minutes, and all was well. While in the mart though, I was able to observe the craziness that was going on inside of its borders. Young girls running around grabbing wedding dresses, trying them on, prancing around, and having everyone tell them how good they looked no matter how bad they looked. Why don't the people that these brides trust tell them when they don't look good in something? Unless of course, they actually believe that she does look good. Which in most cases that I observed this weekend, was just not the fact of the matter at all. There were some bad dresses going on there. Now, I'm no fashionista, because most of you have seen my t-shirt collection and my ratty shorts, but damn, someone needs to step in and help these young women.
That was another thing. The age of these brides to be surprised me. It seems as though every girl under the age of 23 in Alamance County North Carolina is getting married soon. They were young. Very young. Some seemed just fresh out of high school no doubt. As cynical as I like to think that I am, I'm pretty sure that for most of the women I saw this past Saturday, these are going to be starter marriages for them. They'll hopefully get it right the 2nd time. I honestly hope that they get it right the first time. No, really, I do. I'm not THAT cynical. OK, well maybe I am. I can't help it. I'm from New England.

Recovering and racing bicycles...

Recovering and racing…

This weekend was the annual suffer fest known as The Meadowmont Criterium in Chapel Hill. For those of you who don’t know about Meadowmont, Meadowmont is a planned community. It is set in Chapel Hill, but the general plan of it is that you can walk to everything you need to get to in this little setting. There are shops, restaurants, grocery stores, bike and running paths, and essentially everything you need right near where you’re living. So it’s a nice little planned community like that. Once a year, they open up a few streets to us to race our bikes on. It’s actually a great venue, because the people who live around the route of the race actually support it really well. They’re all out there in their driveways cooking out, drinking beer, and cheering on everyone as they ride around the course. They really do support it, which is great, because it’s a great place to race. I think it’s also one of the more challenging criterium courses on the schedule. I say this because on the backside of the course, there are 2 hills in succession. The first one is fairly steep, but you get a good run at it coming into it. Once you crest the top of the first hill, there is a short drop and a sweeping turn and then you come into the 2nd hill, which I think is a lot worse than the first. It’s a little longer, and it seems steeper towards the top of it. On the run in coming into the 2nd hill, you’re doing 30-31 MPH. As you crest the top of it, our speeds were regularly around 13 MPH. So you could see how that would hurt you. Once you get to the top of the 2nd hill though, it’s a downhill run into the start finish line, and then more downhill into turn 1 of the course. I am a firm believer that turn #1 of this particular race course is the best turn #1 going. You hit it at around 35 MPH or higher, and you can just carve around the turn, carry your speed, and blast through the straightaway that comes after turn #1. The problem with the straightaway after turn #1 is that this weekend, there was a stiff headwind blowing into the peloton. This made for some hard racing this weekend, and you could tell, as the group was generally single file for a lot of the race. The speeds and pace were high.

The race started this weekend as most races have been starting this year with the Hincapie team going to the front immediately at the start of the race to try and put someone from their team in a breakaway. This didn’t work too well at first, as everyone was kind of feeling out the crowd. Round about the 3rd lap of the race, John Hamblen went around the field, took a few other people with him (group of 6 I believe that it was), and started a breakaway. Since most of the major teams that were in the race were happy with that, they got a gap very quickly, and were never seen again, well, that is until the break group lapped the field with 1 lap to go in the race. So with the breakaway gone up the road, it then became a matter of an internal power struggle with other teams to get someone else up the road and away from the group. With Hincapie having once again about 20 people on the start line, they started doing completely stupid things, such as going to the front of the group, and slamming on their brakes going into the corners, causing gaps to form, and for small groups to be able to get off the front, at which time a concerted chase would begin within the group to re-absorb the 4-6 people who had ridden off the front. I can tell that this is going to be a long season of dealing with the Hincapie team if they keep doing stupid things like this during races. They’re not racing. They’re putting 1 or 2 of their guys in the break group, which is good, but then they’re blocking the front of the race, sitting up in the middle of the pack, slowing down, and causing general negative racing within the group once a break has gone up the road. That’s not good racing, and they’re quickly gaining a reputation for stupid racing tactics. The downside to it is that they have so many people on their team, and the people that they do have are strong enough to keep doing these things week in and week out, and a guy like me who might only have 1 or 2 teammates at best in a race, can’t do anything about, and most times the larger teams can’t do anything about it either. It’s frustrating. The only thing I can do is to work to get into the breakaways with their guys, and then their dumb tactics will work for me as well. Now I just have to be strong enough to get into a breakaway with them. But I digress. All in due time. All in due time.

So anyway, the race progresses. We beat each other mercilessly for the remainder of the time we’re on the course, and the break group comes around, and laps the field. Small groups try to get off, but are always brought back, so that on the last lap, we’re “gruppo compacto”, meaning everyone is together. Chris Harkey goes to the front, and drills it hard as we come through with 1 to go. This shreds the group very nicely. Someone lets a gap open in front of me, and I work to get onto the back of the group. Coming into the hilly section, I’m still with the group, but it’s a long single file line, of which I’m in the middle of it. We roll into the finishing straight, and I’m still in the same position, with essentially no hope of sprinting for a placing for this weekend. I just roll across the finish line with a few other people around me. Pack fill once again this weekend. But that’s OK, considering what happened to me last weekend in Charleston. Let’s just say I signed up to ride in 4 races last weekend, and did not finish (DNF in racing parlance) any of the 4 races. So for me, this was a just a little small personal victory. Hey, baby steps my friends, baby steps.
Next weekend, Charlotte and the Dilworth Criterium. Yesterday at the start of the race, it was announced that the South End Criterium was cancelled for this year. That is not so good. I like that race and that course. Unfortunate.
So the recovering part came from drinking wine on Thursday night, and suffering (as mentioned in a previous entry) with the hangover and consequence of that wine drinking throughout the day on Friday. This recovery continued well into Friday afternoon and early evening, and by 8:00 PM on Friday night, I was in bed, sleeping like the dead. Yeah, I know, purely exciting life that this kid leads, in bed at 8:00 PM on a Friday night. Hey, I am getting older, but I did feel so much better on Saturday morning. I remember the good old college days of drinking 1 to 1.5 cases of beer on a Friday night, and then doing it again on Saturday evening. What happened to those days? OK, maybe I don't want those days back again, but the alcohol tolerance was so much better when I got to "practice" a lot.