29 September 2005

Getting colder

I put on a sweater today expecting to be warm, and I was freezing -- I guess the flip-flops I had on while I was waiting for the bus didn't exactly help. I just now seem to be realizing that it's almost October.

I think I've just been having a wierd time the last few days, maybe it's that I'm realizing how much more quickly time is going by. I never noticed before, but now I look back and September is gone. What's more, I can't shake this feeling that life is slipping by a little too fast, maybe even go so far as to say it's slipping away from me.

It's not a feeling I enjoy.


In short...

Things that made me angry today:

  • My alarm clock

  • A thunderstorm hitting just before I got in the pool

  • The lady at the deli who flipped out on the girl for not having French rolls

  • The girl who got on the elevator at floor 2, and got off at floor 3

  • Statistics

Things that made me happy today:

  • Having lunch with my honey

  • A thunderstorm hitting just before I got in the pool (the Teach knows what I'm talking about)

  • Making a new friend at seminar

  • Knowing now I can go home and take a nap


28 September 2005

Just wierd.

Hey kids! Welcome to your weekly dose of "WTF?"

They never showed this in Guidance Class... Link


27 September 2005

The Wheels on the Bus go 'round and 'round...

A conversation:

"The other day, I had me some caviar, and it was pretty good."

"Girl, you are so gourmet! Always trying new things."

"Yeah, baby, the other day I was at this Chinese buffet, and they had these.. oh, um.. froglegs, they had frog legs. Mmm, girl, they taste just like chicken."

I love riding the bus.


26 September 2005

A reflection on gas prices..

I really like Dave Barry, and still get his old columns from the Miami Herald -- it made me smile a little to see that this one is still as relevant as it was 5 years ago.

We're just a few dinosaurs short of a full tank


(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published on April 16, 2000.)

If you've been to a gas station lately, you have no doubt been shocked by the prices: $1.67, $1.78, even $1.92. And that's just for Hostess Twinkies. Gas prices are even worse.

Americans are ticked off about this, and with good reason: Our rights are being violated! The First Amendment clearly states: 'In addition to freedom of speech, Americans shall always have low gasoline prices, so they can drive around in `sport utility' vehicles the size of minor planets.''

And don't let any so-called ''economists'' try to tell you that foreigners pay more for gas than we do. Foreigners use metric gasoline, which is sold in foreign units called ''kilometers,'' plus they are paying for it with foreign currencies such as the ''franc,'' the ''lira'' and the ''doubloon.'' So in fact there is no mathematical way to tell WHAT they are paying.

But here in the U.S., we are definitely getting messed over, and the question is: What are we going to do about it? Step one, of course, is to file a class-action lawsuit against the cigarette companies. They have nothing to do with gasoline, but juries really hate them, so we'd probably win several hundred billion dollars.

But that is a short-term answer. To truly solve this problem, we must understand how the oil business works. Like most Americans, you probably think that gasoline comes from the pump at the gas station. Ha ha! What an idiot. In fact, the gasoline comes from tanks located UNDER the gas station.

These tanks are connected to underground pipelines, which carry large oil tankers filled with oil from the Middle East.

But how did the oil get in the Middle East in the first place? To answer that question, we must go back millions of years, to an era that geologists call the Voracious Period, when giant dinosaurs roamed the Earth, eating everything that stood in their path, except for broccoli, which they hated.

And then, one fateful day (Oct. 8), a runaway asteroid, believed by scientists to be nearly twice the diameter of the late Orson Welles, slammed into the Earth and killed the dinosaurs, who by sheer bad luck all happened to be standing right where it landed. The massive impact turned the dinosaurs, via a process called photosynthesis, into oil; this oil was then gradually covered with a layer of sand, which in turn was gradually covered by a layer of people who hate each other, and thus the Middle East was formed.

For many years, the Middle East was content to supply the United States with as much oil as we wanted at fair constitutional prices. But then the major oil-producing nations -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Texas -- got all snotty and formed an organization called OPEC, which stands for ''North Atlantic Treaty Organization.'' In the 1970s, OPEC decided to raise prices, and soon the United States was caught up in a serious crisis: The Disco Era.

It was horrible. You couldn't go to a bar or wedding reception without being ordered onto the dance floor to learn ``The Hustle.''

At the same time, we also had an oil crisis, which was caused by the fact that every motorist in the United States was determined to keep his or her automobile gas tank completely filled at all times. As soon as your gas gauge dropped from ''Full'' to ''Fifteen-sixteenths,'' you'd rush to a gas station and get in a huge line with hundreds of other motorists who also had nearly full tanks. Also a lot of people, including me, saved on heating oil by buying kerosene space heaters, which enabled us to transform a cold, dank room into a cold, dank room filled with kerosene fumes.

Buying gas and dancing ''The Hustle'' with people who smelled like kerosene: That was the '70s.

So anyway, the oil crisis finally ended, and over time we got rid of our Volkswagen Rabbits and replaced them with Chevrolet Suburbans boasting the same fuel economy as the Pentagon. Now, once again, we find ourselves facing rising gas prices, and the question is: This time, are we going to learn from the past? Are we finally going to get serious about energy conservation?

Of course not! We have the brains of mealworms! So we need to get more oil somehow. As far as I can figure, there's only one practical way to do this.

That's right: We need to clone more dinosaurs. We have the technology, as was shown in two blockbuster scientific movies, ''Jurassic Park'' and ''Jurassic Park Returns with Exactly the Same Plot.'' Once we have the dinosaurs, all we need is an asteroid. Or, if he is available, Michael Moore.

If this plan makes sense to you, double your medication dosage, then write to your congressperson. Do it now! That way you'll be busy when I siphon your tank.



A little Monday-morning stupidity to start off the week: Link


25 September 2005

Designer condoms

This is an actual MSN news story, linked here

Chinese rubber company begins marketing condoms with Clinton, Lewinsky brand names

BEIJING -- A rubber company in China has begun marketing condoms under the brand names Clinton and Lewinsky, apparently seeking to exploit the White House affair that led to the impeachment of America's 42nd president.

Spokesman Liu Wenhua of the Guangzhou Rubber Group said the company was handing out 100,000 free Clinton and Lewinsky condoms as part of a promotion to raise consumer awareness of its new products.

He said that after the promotion ends, the Clinton condoms will go on sale in southern China for 29.8 Yuan (US$3.72) for a box of 12, while the Lewinsky model will be priced at 18.8 Yuan (US$2.35) for the same quantity.

"The Clinton condom will be the top of our line," he said. "The Lewinsky condom is not quite as good."
'Not quite as good?' As in, it wall influence you to call people you barely know and chat about your illicit exploits? As in, it comes lubed with liquid cement? I don't know if the government of one of the most populated countries in the world should be dispensing second-rate jimmy hats..
Liu said the company had chosen to use the Clinton name because consumers viewed the former president as a responsible person, who would want to stress safe sex as an effective way to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.

"The names we chose are symbols of people who are responsible and dedicated to their jobs," he said. "I believe Bill Clinton cannot be unhappy about this because he's a very generous man."
Because when I think Clinton and Lewinsky in the same sentence, I think about people who are serious about their jobs.

Other condom ideas that never quite got off the ground:

  • The CIA Lifestye - because loose lips sink ships

  • Voo Doo Rubbers - use the red pins for extra spice

  • The Wendy's condom - where's the beef?

  • Biodegradeable Trojans - environmentally friendly

  • Slimjim Lifestyles - snap into a slim jim!
  •

    24 September 2005


    I'm never drinking again.

    And this time I almost mean it.

    I did find some interesting internet material on hangover cures. One of my favorites, and by favorites I mean 'ew':

    Apparently, in the Wild Wild West, whisky-swilling cowboys swore by a stiff cup of rabbit-poo tea. As if that morning breath wasn't bad enough already.


    23 September 2005

    Rainy-day reading?



    22 September 2005

    One up for intolerance...

    This really bothers me.


    Carlton Jr.

    So, I realized that while the title of my blog is 'Adventures of a Graduate Student', I don't always adequately cover my Adventures, or the fact that I'm a graduate student. In an effort to give you a true glimpse into my daily life, I'm going to talk a little bit more about my classes.

    More specifically, my statistics class.

    Now, I can't really talk about what we're learning, because I really don't care at the moment and the PostDoc (PD) teaching the class is still kinda working on this whole 'teaching' thing. Though she's really nice. Alias and I, who had identical schedules last year down to lab hours (we worked in the same place) are in this class together. It's actually the biggest class I've been in so far, with twenty-some people, and the longest.

    Because of one person, who is very nice but by some freakish twist of reality looks, sounds, and acts like the lovechild of Carlton from Fresh Prince and Steve Urkel from Family Matters. I swear I speak the truth.

    Here is a typical class:

    PD: "All right, so here is our data distribution. This is similar to what I plan to give you on the test, and it is very straightforward."

    Carlton: "Pardon. Can you tell us how you might be arranging the exam?"

    PD: "Well, I am planning on having problems on the first one, and a few concepts to illustrate the higher points. It is just like we are going through your notes."

    Alias: "So wait, our exams are going to be open note?"

    PD: "No, not open note. But I am going to let you bring a cheat sheet. It would be far too hard open note."

    Carlton: "Pardon. So would the exam be easier if it wasn't open note?"

    PD: "No, it is not that it is easier or harder. You just need to know--"

    Carlton: "Are you going to have trick questions?"

    PD: "Well, I can't really say that, because what you view to be a trick question might not be my definition. But I am not going to try to mess you up."

    Carlton: "Pardon. Are there going to be things on there that might make the question difficult to understand?"

    Now, this dialogue is paraphrased, because at the time I was torn between writing it down for my blog and jamming my pencil through my eardrum so I wouldn't have to take the pain anymore. If you made it all the way through, I'm impressed. Take the time it took you to read those few lines, imagine it extending to 120 minutss. Welcome to my Tuesday/Thursday afternoons.


    21 September 2005


    I'm sitting here surfing the web and listening to the news (a major local news netowrk), and I hear this headline...

    Hurricanes and Tornados -- acts of nature, or linked to Aliens?

    Ow. My brain.


    Things I am now addicted to...


    Spaghetti Squash.

    ..independent of each other.


    More stock fraud in the news

    Senator sold stock before price dropped

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

    Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

    Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

    Hey, does this sound familiar to anyone else? I doubt he'll be serving any jail time, though...

    The value of Frist's stock at the time of the sale was not disclosed. Earlier this year, he reported holding blind trusts valued at $7 million to $35 million.

    Blind trusts are used to avoid conflicts of interest. Assets are turned over to a trustee who manages them without divulging any purchases or sales and reports only the total value and income earned to the owner.

    To keep the trust blind, Frist was not allowed to know how much HCA stock he owned, Call said, but he was allowed to ask for all of it to be sold.

    Frist, a surgeon first elected to the Senate in 1994, had been criticized for maintaining the holdings while dealing with legislation affecting the medical industry and managed care. Call said the Senate Select Committee on Ethics has found nothing wrong with Frist's holdings in the company in a blind trust.

    "To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, Senator Frist went beyond what ethics requires and sold the stock," Call said.

    It always demands a lot of sacrifice to make a move that will save you millions of dollars. For someone who went to medical school, he's not very keen on how this looks, even if insider trading hasn't occurred. Of course, this is the same physician (who's been in the senate for almost 12 years -- would you have him operate on you at this point? It's not like riding a bike, people -- who made a prognosis on a patient he'd never personally met, based on a few hours of videotape, so maybe he skipped a couple of lectures.

    Asked why he had not done so before, she said, "I don't know that he's been worried about it in the past."

    HCA -- formerly known as Columbia HCA Healthcare Corp. -- has been a top contributor to the senator's campaigns, donating $83,450 since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


    20 September 2005


    The Washington Post put out an article today that made me shake my head. Seems like I'm doing that a lot these days.

    When Trish Thackston's 7-year-old son, Connor, broke out with chickenpox recently, she quickly scheduled play dates with four families over the next four days at their Alexandria house.

    The kids made art projects with glue and glitter, worked side by side on dinosaur puzzles and shared spoons, all with the intention of transmitting the illness to the healthy children. Her son, thrilled not to be sequestered from friends as he usually is on sick days, said excitedly one morning: "Who's coming over to catch my chickenpox today?"

    Some parents, including Thackston, are shunning the chickenpox vaccine, introduced in 1995 and considered safe and effective by most health authorities, in favor of the old-style method of exposing children to the real thing at an early age. Today's parents may remember their own moms and dads tucking sick siblings in bed with healthy ones and inviting friends over to spread the illness.

    Many who choose to expose their children believe that catching the illness at "chickenpox parties" is safer and more effective than using vaccines.

    These people are idiots. That's a great idea -- expose your child to an illness, and let it run its course, a process you can't control at all. Their reasoning?

    Many parents who don't vaccinate their children or who use vaccines sparingly worry that ingredients in the shots could cause autism or other disorders, although no connection between vaccines and these disorders has been proven.

    In fact, the chicken pox vaccine has been shown in repeated studies to be safe and effective. One article reported the vaccine had an efficacy of 85%, and those children that did contract the disease experienced much milder forms. In addition, resources suggest infection with chicken pox does not confer lifelong immunity -- people infected as children have an increased risk experiencing the painful adult relapse of the disease, commonly known as 'shingles.' Of course, these people are looking out for the best interests of their children -- so what do they do?

    For those in favor of pox play dates, finding each other has become much easier through the Internet, where parents can post e-mails on message groups seeking the pox or offering their homes for a party.

    Because obviously that's the safest thing to do in this day and age. Meet a stranger on the internet and bring your kid. Actually, I found the scariest thing was that the second most commonly refused vaccine (following chicken pox) was the MMR shot. I just don't understand how a parent could willingly expose their child to potentially fatal or debilitating illnesses for which we have a cure.

    The Story



    So, tonight was Italian, part due, which was actually just as much fun, and a little less frustrating than the first night. Because Lawnmower couldn't get into the class, she and I spent some time this afternoon practicing things like the alphabet (alfabeto) and numbers (numeri). All in all, it went something like this..

    Me: "Ok, let's go through the numbers in the book over thirty. Ready? Trenta."

    Lawnmower: "Trenta"

    Me: "Quaranta"

    Lawnmower: "Quaranta"

    Me: "Cinquanta"

    Lawnmower: "Chinquanta"

    Me: "Sessanta."

    Lawnmower: "Sessanta... like, Sessanta Anna?"

    Me: "Settanta"

    Lawnmower: "Settanta.. Like, Settanta Clause?"

    At that point, we pretty much gave in to ADD and got absolutely nothing done. But it was nice to hang out.


    19 September 2005

    Talk like a pirate day!

    Happy National Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr.

    So, now that I'm into the spirit of things, I thought I'd spend a moment on reflecting on one of the truly tragic losses of our time: the now endangered Pirate.

    Throughout history, pirates have adapted to their times. Bucking the labels of convention, their motto could go something like: "One man's criminal is another's privateer. Now give me your gold and your maidens." There's lots of historical evidence on the roles of pirates in wars and government, but as I don't really feel like reading up on it, I'm going to go on making things up.

    Pirates evolved about a thousand years ago (with the dinosaurs, if you're a creationist) into a people dedicated to the sea. They started a war with their natural enemy, the ninja, who eventually forced them off their land. They took to the sea to find a better life. Along the way, they met the ship DDD, laid the righteous pirate slap (see below) upon them, and won! They decided that chasing booty was the way to go, and thus a new enterprise was born. Incidentally, the present day frat-boy is a distant descendant of this species.

    Sadly, pirates are ill adapted to our knew, modern day society. Modern technology has only sparingly adapted to pirate needs. From what I could see during my google search, those that didn't choose the life of videogame and movie characters have been forced to model bad halloween costumes, though the market seems to be ripe for pirates willing to bare their cleavage to the adult industry. Fortunately, their legacy lives on in a wonderful range of phrases immortalized in reference literature. Some of my favorites include the angry pirate, pirate pants, the famous pirate slap, and apparently 'Pirates', a beer in France with massive alcohol content.

    So, next time you cheer for the Pirates (hockey or baseball), or catch yourself listening to some Piratecore, take a moment to reflect on everything pirates have done for you.

    Cap'n Abigail Firebeard, signing off.


    15 September 2005

    Gift Ideas

    It's always hard to shop for some people, whether its a birthday, a holiday, or just a special occassion. Having given a lot of thought to someone's birthday present recently (and by a lot of thought I mean I asked him what he wanted), I scoured the web for some unique gift ideas (and by scoured I mean googled for ten minutes). Below is a partial list of what I found, so you too can share the gift of wierd with your loved ones.

    5. Coming in at the start of the list (bottom? top? I can't decide if this is a countdown or a count up.): give the gift of pestilence. That's right, now you can share your favorite virulent pathogen with your loved one -- and then give them a stuffed animal to commemorate it! The Giant Microbe Flu Bug is a great gift for all ages.

    4. If diseases aren't your thing, you can give the gift of a better life. Nothing says "baby I love you" like a class that says "you suck at life and need special tutoring." The Life Coaching Seminar offered in the UK can help your loved one improve any area of their life. Hopefully relationships will be one of them.

    3. Give the gift of new dental work! Your loved one will be swooning all the way to the emergency dentist with this next gift, a finely crafted Solid Silver Rollo. Personalize it with a special message, or with your loved one's dental records.

    2. Help improve the garden or yard with this next lovely piece, an ornamental Squatting gnome advertised as quirky and enjoyable. One site even suggests he might 'lead you to the buried treasure'. Steaming turd shipped by special request.

    1. Topping (ending?) the count is........ (drumroll please)
    Plastic figurines that dispense cigarettes or candy from their assholes. Because nothing says classy like eating jelly beans that fell out of a plastic cow's rectum.

    I hope you've enjoyed this handy reference for those hard-to-shop-for people in your life. Remember, the best gifts are those that keep on giving. Make memories that you'll talk about for years to come (unless that restraining order gets in the way).


    13 September 2005

    Buona sera!

    Needless to say, tonight was the first evening of my noncredit Italian course. Sans book, but I'll work to resolve that tomorrow. Overall I enjoyed it -- if the instructor has a great sense of humor he left it at home tonight, but he seems ok, and the class was basic, which is what I need. And it sounds so sexy! I love to hear someone speak it. I can now count, introduce myself, say hello and goodbye, where I'm from, spell my name, and give my phone number. Grandma would be so proud :)

    Now, time to recover from my three-hours of sleep last night.


    12 September 2005

    Cawfee Tawk

    Ok, blogger boys and girls, here's my monday morning thoughts: who is responsible for your personal security?

    Now, I'm aware that this is only one thought. And this is probably a good time to mention that I am starting this post with every intention of not going political with it, though we all know how these things can spiral out of control. But lots of things can come from this consideration.

    I think many people who participate in discussions about this sort of thing would probably lean toward the belief that people should be responsible for their own security -- though American society as a whole exists in a state which decidedly denies acceptance of consequences and such. You can sue anyone for anything, deserved or not, and until I make several million dollars in a case like that, I'm wholeheartedly against it. (Ahem. Joke.) But I guess the question is whether or not a decision like that is as clear-cut as the first six words of this paragraph could lead someone to believe.

    Let's take one example hot in the news: Identity theft.

    It's a good idea nowadays to monitor your banking closely on line, check your credit statement often during the year, and avoid giving out information over channels that may be less than secure. You could argue that it is your personal responsibility to do these things. But consider the following situations:

  • I make a payment for a purchase I can only get over a line that's not guaranteed secure. (or something) My savings gets cleaned out. Who is at fault?

  • Same situation, but this time I'm an elderly person who isn't comfortable using computers, and thus I don't monitor my account activity as closely as I might otherwise. Who is at fault?

  • Ok, same as number two, no factor in that I live in a poor neighborhood with minimal earnings. Even though I have no debts (good credit) I can't afford a computer/internet, or I work too many hours to make accessing what is available at the public library really possible. Maybe I only watch the HSN. Am I at fault then if my identity is stolen, or could more have been done to prevent it?

  • I've set up home networking, and the company's failure to provide instruction on securing the network results in information fraud. Am I responsible for the result? What if they set it up incorrectly? What if they set it up correctly and the security is compromised by a hacker or virus?
    If it's not your fault, who pays? If it is, who pays?

    Well, this is a little harder then I thought, but feel free to give your own comments. On to situation number two: Your safety.

    The same line of thought should be accountable for your own safety, whether it means training, or making common sense decisions (dark alley... well-lit street... dark alley.... well-lit street...) But again, the more I think about it, the more I see that could be discussed.

  • I'm walking out to my car at night and I get mugged. Could I have prevented this?

  • I've been studying the Steven Segall school of martial arts for the last ten years, and feel confident in many situations. I can break concrete walls with my head. I get mugged, and get the crap kicked out of me. Am I at fault? Is my teacher? (Maybe he could have taught running better...)

  • I walk to my car at night, and normally carry something for protection, but my workplace has just instituted a ban on weapons of that type. Without my defense, am I an easier prey? Should the workplace be then held accountable for providing better security?

  • Consider the same situation as above, but now I am in an airplane, unable to carry my knife or mace or lighterfluid, whatever it is they've confiscated at security. If no federal air marshall is on board, and something happens, is the airline responsible for compensation for my injury? The FAA? The government?

  • Maybe these are wierd questions to ask, but more and more I look at the news and shake my head at what's going on. I read a news article last week about a family suing the city and the police department for the death of two children struck by a suspect fleeing in a chase that had been called off. I see the ads for malpractice and ambulance-chasing lawyers, some of which do good and just work, but I can't believe all alleged malpractice cases are legitimately such. I worked as a lifeguard for years, but when I moved to another workplaces, I had to consider if I would be willing to respond to a rescue situation outside the environment in which I was trained. What if someone sued me for helping? What if someone tried to sue me for not? But even more importantly, how could I deal with the consequences of not helping?

    Well, if you made it to the end of this post, leave a comment and let me know what you think. I'm curious.


    11 September 2005

    French army knife

    Just a little humor to end the weekend.


    09 September 2005

    Well, what now?

    So, for the last few days, I've been giving some serious thought to my dissertation project. I've got to get moving, or I'll be stuck in this program for the next ten years. Today, I found out the place I'm working now doesn't have the funding to keep me, which was not the answer I'd been given when I first started there. I understand things change, but my boss knew all week that I was planning on talking to her abot a project, and she never brought it up to me herself that she didn't currently have grant money.

    Wat can you do, right?

    At least I learned a lot. Now, I have to go back and see if the last lab I worked in will support my research idea. If not.. well, I didn't really like working there last semester, and if I can't do something I actually want to do, I'm not sure where I'm going to go now. Unfortunately, I can't afford to be unemployed. :( Sigh.


    07 September 2005

    The Debate over New Orleans...

    Ok, I'm really not trying to join the ranks of all the bloggers who are screaming about how ineffective or effective they themselves think the response to the crises in the Gulf has been. I'm sure there's plenty of information out there I don't know, and I actually don't plan on going into my own personal opinions about what I've heard -- but I did see something on the news (written article in the Durham Herald-Sun) today that I wanted to write about.

    Three kids from Duke University got into a car and drove down to New Orleans to help out, after being bombarded with images of the disaster, tragedy, and news anchors still not believing they were lucky enough to get such a horrific event to report on. Apparently, they made their way through Mississippi and hit New Orleans, where officials turned them away from the city -- and they ended up volunteering elsewhere for two days. Come Saturday, they were frustrated enough to photo-shop themselves some journalist passes, which got them anywhere they wanted into the city.

    "We waved the press pass, and they looked at each other, the two guards, and waved us on in," Buder said.
    Crack security, right? They actually got seven people out of the city, and during their interview on CNN they claimed that there was no reason people sat there for five days, when busses were available and leaving the city empty. Now, I'm not really impressed by this story, because they don't address the fact that by the time the kids arrived, the convention center evacuation was basically complete. I don't know if the water levels changed, or what might have happened. Maybe the Duke students are right, people could have been taken out earlier. But there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the whole operation. The Washington post reported:
    A Louisiana official said this morning the state won't make people leave their homes in the besieged city just one day after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin authorized law enforcement officers and the military to force the evacuation of all residents who refuse to leave. Released late Tuesday, Nagin's emergency declaration targets all those still in New Orleans who have not been designated by government officials as helping with the relief effort.
    Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, La., Ed Jones, chief of disaster recovery and mitigation for the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, said the decision to use the military and state rescue personnel to forcibly evacuate citizens from New Orleans lies with the governor, not with the mayor.

    National Guard and state rescue workers have not received any communication from Mayor Nagin about forcing people out of their homes and an order to take such action would need to come from the governor, said Jones at disaster headquarters in Baton Rouge.
    But later in New Orleans, Police Supt. Eddie Compass said city officials would go forward with the mayor's plan. He said once the "voluntary evacuations take place, then we will concentrate our efforts and forces to mandatorily evacuate residents."

    Compass said thousands of people still wanted to voluntarily evacuate the city.

    "We hope that most people cooperate," Compass said. "We have a large enough manpower force with the army and the state, city and federal agencies to do this expeditiously and as safe as possible." Compass said authorities will use "the minimal amount of force necessary to evacuate people from the city."

    Officials said the authority for the mandatory evacuation order came through state statutes.
    This a pretty basic thing that should be decided. There's no drinkable water down there. I don't know if there's food. I also think recovery priorities are slightly misplaced:
    Also today, Doug Thornton, vice president of the firm that manages the Superdome, said the structure sustained "severe" damage, and estimated that repairing the facility will cost at least $100 million.

    But, he said, it was premature to consider tearing the state-owned facility down, home of the New Orleans Saints, and officials won't have a firm estimate of the full extent of the damage for two months. Replacing the 30-year-old structure could cost up to $600 million, he said.

    "We would like to salvage that building," said Thornton, noting that it hosted a papal visit, a presidential nomination and collegiate basketball championships. Structurally, he said, the facility is "steady as a rock."
    Does anyone know what's going on down there? Is there any reason, with all the money we've spent on Homeland Security, to try and plan for a terrorist attack, that we can't respond to an act of nature? They're not so different, in terms of effect -- loss of communication, loss of life, etc. And where are the people planning to improve these responses? What the hell is everyone doing?


    06 September 2005


    Ok, so I picked up on this story from Evil Jesus' blog, which came from a blog called the Kung Fu Monkey which cited an article that was published in the Post about a month ago. Sad thing is, I actually read the post, and somehow I missed it. Or, I read it, and my brain promptly induced an aneurism in its attempt to block out the information. The article, entitled Bush Remarks On 'Intelligent Design' Theory Fuel Debate is just one more example of how ridiculously right the government is getting.

    The gist of the article is that Bush is promoting an alternative theory to evolution, which he terms 'Intelligent Design.' No, the Federal government shouldn't be involved in planning out our children's educations, but HE thinks that children need to hear what in my opinion (and yes, I have listened to Creationists talk about their theory) is at best pseudo-science fiction, and at worst religious propoganda. Seriously, this is a man who stumbles over his words and uses 'strategery' in an actual sentence -- he clearly should know what's best for education. Is that what you get from an ivy league University?


    Poker Night

    Tonight was the second poker night, the first of which was hardly worth mentioning because I lost all my chips in an hour. This time around, I actually made a profit of ninety cents, plus three hours or so of entertainment, so I can't really ask for more. A good time was had by all I think -- and it was nice to have people over to the house, something our social schedules haven't really allowed.

    Yesterday we barbequed at my parents' house -- the ribs were awesome, as was everything else. I was so full! But it was a good way to end the summer, and it really does feel like the end of the season. Now, on to fall!.


    05 September 2005

    And the ratings are in...

    This site is certified 24% EVIL by the Gematriculator

    In a shocking turn of events, I find that my blog (remember, it's the reflection of my inner-most thoughts. Please disregard the dustbunnies) is not even a fourth evil. Maybe if I made some more political posts... In any case, I'll need to work on that.

    ©COPYRIGHT 2000-2005 SINFEST PRODUCTIONS/All rights reserved, baby.


    04 September 2005


    I found this story linked off a great blog, The Sneeze:

    The Whammy Scam Story


    03 September 2005

    Things that really suck

    1) My home networking

    I'm so pissed off I can't even write a decent post.


    02 September 2005


    Most Friday evenings I hit Happy Hour at a local restaurant (think red stripes and Office Space) with a bunch of people from my part-time job at the pool. They've made a bunch of renovations over the last few months, but we noticed a new change this week. On the glass pane next to the entrance (a single door) was taped the following sign:


    Apparently, The Bartender told us he'd watched something like nineteen people in the course of the day faceplant into the window, expecting it to be a door. Sober people. Like, at lunchtime. Now, this might be understandable if the pane was centered with the walkway.... but not so much. You pretty much have to veer left to run right into it. Somehow, one particularly intelligent person managed to split their lip open hitting it, hence the sign. At least the staff had the entertainment for a little while...


    01 September 2005

    On Assemble-it-yourself Furniture...

    Moving is a very exciting time, but also a little stressful. During the first week we were in the house, my thoughts pingponged between "How am I going to fill all this space with stuff?" and "How am I going to cram all my crap in this house?" Finally, I came up with the answer: More furniture, of course.

    Now, being that I'm a poor student, my home furnishings range from Sterilite containers and cardboard boxes to fine peices from Target and Ikea. One such new addition came into being this week, giving me one more reason to look forward to the day when I can purchase already-assembled furniture.

    So I recruited Lawnmower and we hit the target, where I bought the things I needed, and some more things I didn't. The particular item in question was a bookshelf that Target had considerately marked down to sale price just at the time I wanted to buy it. Good Target. If you've never assembled something like this on your own, I'll walk you through it briefly. First, you need to make sure you have several items.

    A screwdriver
    A hammer
    The intelligence of a baked potato.

    Should you find yourself lacking any of these things, you can improvise. For example, when Sideshow built my dresser sans hammer, he used the back of the screwdriver to pound in the sides. And, as in my case this week, something like a power drill can supplement the apparent lack of IQ needed.

    So I began.

    This particular bookcase could be assembled one of two ways, depending on which side you wanted open, and this was the reason I wanted it. The instructions seemed simple, which is probably why it took me about an hour to put the thing together. First, I got all the shelves on, before realizing it wasn't in the right orientation. So I took it apart. Then I reversed it and got to the same point. The exact same point.

    Then I left the room for a little while.

    Then I came back and put it together correctly.

    So, in summary, while Target gets a thumbs up for sale-timing, their directions really need to take into account people like me.