Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Geocentric = Everything Revolves Around A Car

Here's a quote from a New York Times article: "One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century."

The article has some other interesting gems in it, but that one knocked me out of my chair. Not because I don't believe it, but because even with all my cynicism I didn't think it was quite that bad. Not only does that explain why I don't get to drive a flying car here in the far-flung year of 2005, but it also explains the resurgent fascination with creationism. It's much easier to say "God did it" or "That mystical piece of toast did it" than to actually stop and read a book or do some research. Putting the responsibility onto someone else is an unfortunate theme amongst humans. I saw it at my former place of employment, and it continues full force. "God done did it all, and now I'm gonna go watch me some NASCAR and then some wrasslin'." Soon to be printed on the newly-designed currency for our blossoming theocracy. After all, them NASCAR cars go around in circles, just like the Sun goes around the Earth! That makes it a divine sport!

Apologies to Peter Gabriel

We've been availing ourselves of the pool here at the complex. (The pool itself is not complex, though it does have an asymmetrical shape.) An hour a day so far, in all of two days. Well, nights, really. It's cooler at night, plus there's far less chance of human contact. Two extremely good things. We also get to see the stars at night, and hear the occasional coyote. There's just something magical about looking up at the sky (and actually seeing stars and not the orange glow of civilization) and hearing a pack of coyotes off in the distance. Funny thing... when my nephew was here it was the first time he had ever seen the glow of civilization at night. I thought that was ironic. I'm happy to see stars again, and he was in awe of the shopping mall glowing in the distance. Hey, he could walk to it, and it had a cool arcade. That's something worthy of awe to an 11-year old.

Oh. If you've read this far and have no idea what the title has to do with the post, here you go.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I Drop It

This didn't surprise me, but it did make me mad. Which, of course, means that I have to share it. California has simplified the instructions it provides its jurors. Why? "Confusing terminology" is cited as the cause. Here's the example that was provided, and I'll let you decide whether it was confusing or not:

Old: "Innocent misrecollection is not uncommon."
New: "People sometimes honestly forget things or make mistakes about what they remember."

The first one has five words and is easy to comprehend. The second has twelve words and smacks of a third-grade reader. The problem is not that the wording is "confusing", the problem is that we're cranking out illiterates in our schools. I just hope that everyone gets on with their cave paintings after I'm dead. Or send me to a cave with my books, and they can go on with their pointing and grunting. When the "No Child Left Behind" rule came along and put the responsibility of a child's education on the school instead of the child, that marked the end of any hope for even a minimally-educated America. In my book, anyway. Reason 834,072 not to replicate the DNA.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's All In The Reflexes

Weird day. It began with a phone call at 5:00 A.M. when my step brother-in-law thought he was calling my brother-in-law regarding hurricane Katrina. Followed shortly by the inverse of the two aforementioned parties and a missed speed dial button. In other words, I went to bed at 2-ish, was awakened at 5-ish, and at 3-ish I ran out of steam and fell asleep for an hour. On the plus side, though, I was awakened by thunder and looked out the window to see this:

When the rain stopped, we drove down to the Tucson Mall. Along the way, my reflexes were put to the test. A young woman suddenly decided that she and her car needed to occupy the exact same space as our car. She didn't use her turn signal, wave, or even turn her head in our general direction. She just went for it. Luckily, I wasn't groggy from my nap. She didn't have to make a turn, she didn't even speed up. I honked the horn at her, and she gave me an "oh well" hand gesture. My teeth are grinding so much that sparks are flying out of my mouth like one of those little wind-up Godzilla toys. (I'm trying to cut back on cursing, and it's also good to be able to spit forth flame on cue.) Then, however, came the part that made Deb and I curse up a storm. First one set of wee bitty hands appeared, then another. The woman had two small kids in the back of the car. If I hadn't been paying attention, the kid on the driver's side would have been crushed. If I had panicked, I could've easily hit her car and made her spin, and probably both kids would be crushed. (My car was the larger in this equation.)

Now, I may not understand why people want to have children, but I understand it even less when the people who do have children don't give enough of a damn about them to turn their heads when they're driving on a three lane highway. I guess you can always make more kids, right? Idiots.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Catalina Highway, Mt. Lemmon, 9000 feet, and Irony

Backing up a bit... On the 22nd we all went for a drive on the Catalina Highway. Our destination was Mt. Lemmon, but as in so many things it wasn't the destination so much as it was the journey. I'm not even sure how to begin with this one. I mean, I've been to a lot of places in the U.S. I've seen some amazing sights. New York certainly has its share of scenic beauty, and I've seen a great deal of that. But... oh my. Never have I driven so short a distance (about 80 miles round trip) yet travelled so far and seen so much. To start out on a trip that begins in the desert city of Tucson, with saguaro cacti and temperatures in the 90s at an elevation of about 2500 feet above sea level, and end up almost 9000 feet above sea level with the air about 20 degrees cooler in the middle of a pine forest? Oh, and if you look that way you see another state? If you look down, you see the tiny little ribbon of a road that brought you up so high. A stretch of road that, moments before, seemed so incredibly high off the ground. The first view from the first stop lets you look out across the huge sprawl that is Tucson. It's a vast city. (Coming home the other day, we passed a sign denoting the city limits. 21 miles away from the city's center.) Not only did we get to look out over the city, but got to see heavy rain over parts of it. Heavy rain that blotted out the mountains beyond. Rain that looked like a part of the sky fell on the ground. (There's nothing quite like hearing thunder in the sky when you're a few thousand feet closer to the clouds.)

And waterfalls? Plural? We didn't go near them, but the binoculars showed us they were huge. Just as the binoculars showed us the unfortunate fate of the cars that drove off the road at the Seven Cataracts Vista. If there was anyone in the cars when they went over the edge, they certainly didn't survive. And they didn't even roll all the way down to the bottom.

Windy Point Vista was unanimously the scariest part of the trip. Mainly because the scenic overlook was built away from the side of the mountain so you were really looking straight down on... well, everything you had seen so far. Not a place for those afraid of heights, yet three out of four of us were just that. (Myself included.) I'm not ashamed to say that I clutched the iron railing as I took pictures. Yet, if you look at the pictures, you'll notice which idiot went up even higher to take pictures of the other three? Looking down at the road, and the previous stop, wayyyy down there... yikes.

And the sky kept putting on a show for us. Sunny, then cloudy, then thunder. Always raining over part of the city (or state). For us, though, it was comfortable and breezy.

Drive up a little (ha!) more, and there's a sign informing you that what you see in the distance is New Mexico. I do not know exactly how far that is, but Google maps estimates 120 miles as the crow flies. (That's like being able to see Montauk Point from Brooklyn, or Oswego from my parents' house.) (Putting things in perspective for my faithful readers.) (And don't quote me on distances, OK? Close comparative analogy, here.)

Also of note were the stone walls, made of indigenous rocks. What kind of rocks? Neat kinds. Like rocks with mica, and iron pyrite (fool's gold).

Further we drove, and things kept changing. There was a lake up there, but we didn't stop. At just over 8,000 feet, we hit the ski resort. And grass. Lots of it. Pretty cool.

On the way back down, we were treated to a textbook Arizona sunset. The sky changes so rapidly through so many colors, if you look away for a minute and look back it's as if you're looking at an entirely different sky.

The whole trip was amazing. We travelled the climatic equivalent of Mexico to Canada in under 100 miles. It took us a little over five hours, but I'm ready to spend another 5000 hours there. I want to explore every rock, every waterfall, every precipitous drop. But I'll need to get a few more cards for the ol' digital camera first...

Oh yeah. Irony. At the apex of our journey we encountered a family consisting of mommy (Barbie), daddy (Lloyd), and Brittany/Morgan/Paige/Paisley/Ampersand/Insert pretentious name here. Barbie did not shut up. Not once. Lloyd was taking pictures, but then it came time for the "spontaneous" photo of the little offspring. The kid was four, and wanted nothing to do with it. We think she was actually having fun getting Barbie all annoyed. (When we got back in the car, I turned to Deb and told her she was wonderful. She asked me why I said that, to which I responded "because you are nothing at all like that woman.") Here's the irony: Barbie & Company were on the same flight out of Tucson as Scott & Matt. Way to put a cap on the vacation!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Flight, Flood, and Formatting

No major excursions today. We took Scott and Matt to the airport at 11 A.M. our time. At 11 P.M. our time, they finally got home. They don't have luggage, but they're home. Where it's currently 46 degrees. That's a 50 degree difference, give or take. (I hope they don't get sick.) They finally did get to see a nifty thunderstorm, though. Lots and lots of lightning, and enough rain to make the news around here. Most of the dry riverbeds and washes to the south of us aren't dry any longer. They're flooding. The Santa Cruz River rose over 11 feet in five hours! That's in a "river" that didn't have any flowing water last week. None. Think about that one for a minute. They're also evacuating people. Some people got evacuated to a casino, which I find fascinating. Now that you're safe from the flooding, prepare for a fleecing!

This is all well to the south of us. We had a light rain for most of the day, and it's stayed cool. (74 as I type this.) No more ceiling leaks or anything like that.

The other noteworthy event, for me at least, is that I reformatted my computer today. It started to hang whenever I tried to do anything with images. That's why my last few posts have had links to the Kodak site instead of any eye candy. Repairing XP just made it worse, so I started over. Saved all of my images, but my e-mails are gone. So if you're reading this and you want to hear from me, send me an e-mail.

OK, off to install more stuff. Keeps my mind off of how empty the apartment is now.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chiracahua National Monument

Holy. Cow. That's all there is to say. For a last-minute, "let's see what this is" kind of trip... holy cow. We got to see all manner of amazing rock formations, Mars, giant mutant monster clouds over a spooky Little House on the Prairie house... just awesome. Five bucks per adult gets you admission for seven days. That's almost a dollar a day! (I don't know. I suck at math.) I'll advise you to look at the pics, (Deb's making her own photo gallery as I type. The ones on this one are just the good ones from my camera.) but for the curious it's "cheer-uh-cow-uh". Now you know.

In other news, my nephew has started a blog. It's the "Kid Photo" link on the blogroll. I just hope he and my brother can continue blogging at the rapid-fire 28.8 speeds they achieve at home.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Desert Museum and "uh tunnuh buttuhfloyz"

Today's excursion was to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. It is in the desert, but I wouldn't call it a museum. More like a hiking zoo. It was also warm, but not terrible. Unfortunately, "warm" meant that the coyotes and wolves didn't come out. We did get to see every other critter there, though. We even caught a glimpse of a prairie dog this time! The pictures are here, but as of this writing they haven't been organized nor have Deb's pictures been added.

We also got to experience the antics of another species. This happened at around 6pm, when the desert really comes alive. The animal in question is the Red-blooded Idiot (ignoramus ignoramus). We were fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to see two different sub-species. While enjoying the brightly colored flowers and multitude of butterflies at the butterfly garden, we heard the call of the New York Idiot (vinnicus goombaticus). They are extremely rare in Arizona, and are heard only during tourist season. This specimen was heard to cry out: "Hey! Dehs uh tunnuh buttuhfloyz ova heeyuh!" I've spent some time in the field, so I'm able to translate that into: "Hey! There's a ton of butterflies over here!" I couldn't help but laugh as soon as I heard that, because in my head I was hearing the follow-up statements: "There's a friggin' ton of air out here!" and "There's a ton of dirt on the ground!" This species can be counted on to remark upon the obvious at decibel levels that would drown out commercial airliners.

The other species of Idiot was encountered shortly after that. This was the sub-species Illiterate Fat Ass (no readicus butt hugeicus). This alpha female was heard to bellow "Which way are the hummingbirds?" to no one in particular. I suppose she didn't realize that her Death Star-sized ass was nigh-eclipsing the sign which read, in part, "< Hummingbirds". (Where the "<" denotes an arrow pointing the direction one would travel should one desire to see the hummingbirds.)

These and many more species were pouring in to the establishment as we were leaving. We were all glad they were travelling in the opposite direction.

It should be noted that we had some fascinating discussions regarding the different sub-species we had encountered. Punctuated with much laughter. Science at its best!

CSI: Old Tucson

Today we went a little bit beyond Saguaro National Park to see Old Tucson Studios. We had no idea what to expect from the place. It wasn't bad, though it's apparently their off season so some of the stuff was closed. That was a little disappointing, but if you look at the pictures it wasn't disappointing in the case of the log flume ride. Ick. The best part about it being off season was the fact that there were very few other human beings in the place. That's why some of the pictures look like we were in a ghost town. It's a multi-faceted visit. Some of it consisted of out-and-out price gouging (like chargin $2 for a soda from a vending machine?!? Nope.), to cheesy (like the godawful stunt show hosted by some friggin' junior high school kids), to authentic and cool (the derelict train, wagons, buildings...). There were a bunch of movies shot at the place during the last 60 years or so. Scott knew them, but the only one I'm really familiar with is The Three Amigos. Because, honestly, who doesn't love Chevy Chase in a big stupid sombrero? That's comedy!

We also got to experience the haunted mine. It was cheesy, but well done. Rubber bats, rats, and skeletons... and a maze. In the dark. With small angled bits of wood on the floor so you're not only feeling your way along the walls, but you're also tripping as you drag your feet. Oh! And narrow, too. My shoulders were brushing against the walls, and just when you turn to correct that the walls turn as well. Deb made it through the maze first, and then got to see yours truly come through with Matt holding my shirttail in one hand and Scott in the other. A conga line of Scotsmen in a haunted house in the desert doesn't happen every day.

Then, cut to about 11pm. We're all outside on the patio because it's a cool, breezy evening. We're watching a small airplane go by in the distance. Then it turned around and headed back. And again. And again. It slowly dawns on us that this plane is flying in a search pattern over the mountains. You know, the ones directly out our front windows? After about an hour, a helicopter comes zooming in on the scene. Low. Very low. The helicopter zapped its bajillion candle power spotlight on the mountains while the airplane continued to circle. Cool! The binoculars are out, we're looking at all this stuff as it goes on for about 20 minutes. No idea what/who they're looking for. The helicopter and airplane abruptly leave in different directions, but the helicopter came back about five minutes later to shine the spotlight on the mountain again. Then it left. That was it. Hopefully there will be some mention of it on the news tomorrow. Otherwise it'll just be one of them there mysteries of the desert.

Hey, when you vacation with us, you get a thrill-a-minute! We should charge for this!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rock Climbing

The highlight of the day was spent climbing up, down, and around the Saguaro National Park. Matt and Scott went scurrying up the nearest bit of rocks, and kept right on scurrying. Deb headed off in one direction, leaving me to just shuffle along and take pictures of everyone either high above my head or sprinting for the next ridge. Didn't really bother me, though. Not only was I immersed in the awesome scenery and absolute silence of the place, but I had the car keys. They weren't going anywhere without me.

If you've read Scott's stuff over at his blog "Scootertown", you know that he's discovered that aches and pains don't exist in this climate. If you have aches and pains and have resigned yourself to the fact that they'll be with you until you die, you're wrong. (I was.) It's good to see him actually feeling well for a change.

Click on the things for pictures, yadda yadda. I'm tired, so that's it from me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tombstone 2 - Electric Boogaloo

My brother and nephew are out for a visit. Most people can't tell we're related. Personally, I tend to agree. I mean, for one thing, he's taller than I am. For another... umm... did I mention he's taller? Good lord, we've got the same damn head. Except mine is bigger, because I'm smarter. Or I've got encephalitis. Never could tell. (In case you're wondering, we're looking at the sunset. Not the neighbors.)

My nephew is almost as tall as I am. This is completely unfair, and he needs to stop it immediately. My niece is already taller than I am, and I think that's quite enough.

Their first full day in AZ found them in Tombstone. Probably because we drove them there. A good time was had by all. It was significantly less crowded, and the temperature was much cooler. It's really a fascinating place to visit, even if you're not into the whole western/wild west thing. And speaking of wild west things, poor Deb had to put up with this:

Somebody send her a sympathy e-mail, quick!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I get a lot of people from across the globe reading my words, so I'm making this blog thingy interactive with a question. This is not me being sarcastic. This is an actual, honest question to which I would like an honest answer. Here it is:

Why do people have children?

I'm not looking for a biology lesson. I'm looking for the why. What is it that makes you wake up one day and say: "I'd like to make another person!" (This question, obviously, is for those who actually planned the existence of their children.) A few words of warning first. Don't tell me it's genetic. I've known plenty of people of both genders of all ages and sexual orientations who flat-out do not want children. They may like children, even love them. But they don't want to make one.

So please, share your thoughts. I hate it when I can't figure things out. I've opened comments to all comers for this one. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I Still Got It

Those of you who might be concerned for my personality losing some of its New York cuddliness may put those fears to rest. I'm still a pissed off bastard. We were in the bastion of consumerism this evening (Wal-Mart) and I got to the point where I could hear my Highland ancestors screaming full-throated battlecries and whirling claymores in my head. Why? We were in the express lane, and there was a kid at the register (referred to henceforth as "Todd") and a kid buying crap (aka "Spicoli"). A gallon of neapolitan ice cream and three single-subject notebooks. Spicoli was stoned out of his mind. Hence the nickname. (Todd was either on something or just rock stupid. Too tough to call.) He was purchasing his items with a debit card. Todd rang up the ice cream... and stopped. Spicoli was swiping his damn debit card through the machine from the moment he put his crap on the counter. Slllooooowwwwwlllyyy. And he had to keep doing it, because the machine wasn't reading it. Why? Because the machine was working about 852 bajillion times faster than his drugged-out brain could ever process. Todd was helpful, though. He walked around to Spicoli and tried to swipe the card for him. Yes, walked around. Not "hurried around", not even "scooted". Walked. I've never worked a day of retail in my life, yet even I know you can spin the damn card reader around! Todd couldn't get the card to work either. So he put it in a plastic bag and then ran it through. Yep. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it, so I don't blame you. So, Spicoli has finally purchased his ice cream. Hooray! It's at this point that the guy behind him in line (the one in front of us) reminds him that he has not yet purchased his wee notebooks.

See, here's the thing. Despite the fact that it was an absolutely lovely day here, cool, upper 60s low 70s, and we were in an air-conditioned store... if I had been carrying ice cream it would've turned to steam by now. I think the candies in the display next to me had all fused into one billion-calorie nugget at this point.

Through teamwork and perseverance, Spicoli and Todd managed to complete the purchase. Sure, it took about 20 minutes longer than it should have, but I'm certain they formed a bond that only two stoners can share. Shame that neither of them will remember it.

Oh, and when we finally exited the store, a string of expletives that would make Lenny blush was heard ringing through the Arizona night sky. A white-hot slice of New York, baby.

For those of you still reading, the picture is of part of the ceiling at the San Xavier mission. I just thought it looked neat.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Not Apparent

While enjoying our breakfast/lunch/dinner today at a local eatery, Deb and I got to overhear a familial conversation. Couldn't help it. The parents of two darling young girls were trying to get them to behave. The names of the children: Paige and Morgan. (Some of you see where this is going already.) Paige wasn't really hungry, and kept fidgeting. By "fidgeting" I mean getting up every .003 seconds and crawling under the table, wandering around, things like that. The parents were doing their darndest to deal with the situation. That is, if the situation was a friggin' debate. "We won't go to the toy store unless you eat! Morgan, you listen because this affects you too!" They also told her that if she crawled under the table, she'd get bugs. Bugs? Nice. On the plus side, it means she'll be deathly afraid of restaurants for the rest of her life. Did I mention that both children were under the age of 5? They had a stroller for one of them, for cryin' out loud! You don't have a long-winded dissertation on the causal relationships of dining etiquette with someone in a stroller! They go home, they go in their room, and they are told to read. No TV, no "outside and play", no computer, no video games. They read. If you tell me the child is too young to read, I'll give you my mom's e-mail address and she'll tell you how old I was when I learned to read.

Oh, and the parents were younger than me. Damn stupid kids having kids.

The picture is from tonight's walk at sunset. Have I mentioned lately how great it is here?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cafe ImPressive

As anyone who has a cafepress store would do, we ordered some stuff from them. It all arrived today, and I have to say that we're really impressed. The image transfers on the shirts are excellent. I'll admit I was a little bit worried about the t-shirt images when I was first making the store, because my only frame of reference are those iron-on t-shirt things from the 70s. You know, the ones that just break and flake off? These are an entirely different world of quality. The colors are strong, and they look good. (I mean technical quality. I'm not being pompous.) The journal is also excellent. Blank pages inside, and the cover colors perfectly matched what I had on my screen. Last but not least, we got one tile and one tile box thing. Easily the best of the bunch, and that's saying a lot. The images look so freakin' good on the tiles! I don't skimp on color in my images. I go for rich colors, and I don't look back. Well, these tiles are just awesome! The colors really pop. My only negative is in the construction of the actual box. It's made of alderwood, whatever that is, and it just feels a little flimsy to me. But then, my knowledge of jewelry boxes is severely limited, so that may have a lot to do with it.

So, all in all, we're quite pleased. Didn't know what to expect quality-wise from cafepress, but now I'm glad to have stores there. (Sorry this whole thing just sounded like a commercial, but now I feel better about selling things after having seen them.)

On that note, here's another shot from last night. No inspired story, though it certainly deserves one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


He stumbled as he ran. Heart pounding, blood thundering in his head and drowning out the sound of his own labored breathing. As he caught his balance, he glanced up at the moon and threw a wordless curse at it. The moon was not his friend this night. Enough light for it to be seen, but not enough light to let him find his way with any speed across the unforgiving terrain. His need for haste was great. His pursuer did not need light, but he did. Just a little more. Just a little more light, and he wouldn't trip so often. Just a little more speed, and he wouldn't fear for his life. Just a little more time, and he might actually live until the morning. Just a little more luck, and he'd never go out into the desert at night again.

He tripped again, and fell headlong to the rocky soil. Just like that, his time, luck, and speed ran out. Unfortunately for him, there was just enough light to see his own extermination.

Despite the dark clouds, this picture was taken at the last light of sunset. Just a short walk from our apartment. Pretty neat, huh?

Dust in the Wind

I need help with this one. Really. See, the Kansas board of education has taken steps to lessen the role of evolution in the origins of life, and go with an "intelligent design" model. (Formerly known as "creationism".) Maybe I'm wrong, but last time I checked it was the 21st century. We don't drill holes in the heads of crazy people to let the demons out, we don't administer leeches for an appendicitis, and we don't round off our maps with "here there be dragons!" So why the monumental leap backwards? And for that matter, exactly which version of creationism is going to be taught? The one where humans were created out of mud? That's a nice cross-cultural, muti-pantheon one, so it's got broad appeal. Older, too. By a lot. Much more creative than the idea of a Doug Henning type of creator, lifting up his holy handkerchief and Lo! there's a guy in a fig leaf. For my next trick, I'll make your brains disappear. Wait for it...

I guess I'm concerned not for the intelligence of America, as I knew that was headed for the crapper anyway. My concern is that if this trend continues then most of the people I know will be burned as witches simply because they know how to do stuff on a computer. That real-yet-unreal dimension of ones and zeroes is downright scary! If'n I can't touch it, then it's bad! She turned me into a newt!

Theocracy and de-evolution. Two of many reasons I will never have children.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Summer Goeth Before the Fall, Too

I'm not often proud of the pictures and stuff that I make. I like them, enjoy looking at them, but they usually don't make me go: "Wow! I made that!" This image would be one of the few exceptions to that rule. It may be wrong to feel pride, but I don't care. While I was putting this on the requisite ton of things over at cafepress, I wanted to buy most of them. Not because of the pride, but because of how this particular image spoke to me. Or speaks to me. (Metaphorically, of course.) (Crying angels weren't talking in my head when I worked for the government and was stressed out of my mind. They sure as hell aren't about to start now!) (The yodelling eggplants, however, will keep pestering me until the day I die.)

In other news, the roof still isn't fixed. Doesn't really bother me considering that the same storm knocked out power to several thousand people who, as of yesterday, still didn't have power. I'll take a leaky ceiling over no power any day.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Lock, Stock, and Rain(bow) Barrel

Day three of the stock thing was uneventful. We left at lunch, because today was pretty much just a sales pitch day. Oh well. I will say that we got our money's worth out of the deal, and I'm sure the whole course would be equally beneficial. (Toot toot)

This evening's "severe weather alert" was precipitated (no pun intended) by a very cool double rainbow. Yes, it's out our front window. That area seems to be rainbow central or something. The bottom "bow" was very strong and fully formed, but neither of us could get it in one shot. This is the best picture I could get, though. I have others, but they all have dots of rain on them.

Speaking of rain, I may have been a bit harsh in my estimate of Arizona's monsoons. I say that in the hopes of appeasing the monsoon gods who have seen fit to pound the apartment so severely that the roof is leaking. Where? Why, in the computer room, of course! We had just shut off the computers after a particularly close (and loud!) bolt of lightning struck, and went to another room. I was walking by the computer room when I heard an odd sound. Like the window was open. Nope! Just water leaking in through the ceiling and dripping on the new carpet. Oh, and on one of the power strips. Nothing too severe, right? (Luckily, not near the computers.) We did move some furniture and put up some garbage cans to catch the water, though. There's a strip of water damage about a foot long on this side of the closet, and maybe six inches on the other. This is one of the good things about living in an apartment. Tomorrow we make a call and say "fix it", and it gets fixed. Sunday or not. Because, same time tomorrow, we're likely to have more thunderstorms.

Lastly, I had my first international sale at cafepress. Japan, no less. That there interweb is really cool.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Stocks! In the Name of Love...

Day two of the STAR Trader thing was even more informative than the first. It was also the day that they finally did their little reveal of the prices of the more advanced classes. I think it's safe to say that the simple fact that neither of us screamed, laughed uncontrollably, or just fell out of our chairs is testament to the fact that we are both professional people. I'm not going to quote prices, but rather I'll use analogies to describe these gems. The cost of their software alone (for a whopping six months, mind you) could buy you two or three top of the line computer systems. With monitors. Not kidding. Their most expensive package o' classes, which included that nifty software, was about half of my former annual salary. Gross. (Yes, before taxes. And again, I'm not kidding.) There were about eight different packages, but those two bookend the price ranges offered.

Now, I don't consider myself cheap. I'm sure there are those who would disagree with me, but I don't care. I think many of you will agree with me when I say that if I'm going to give someone money with that many zeroes on it, you damn well better worship me, peel me grapes, and throw rose petals at my feet. And I get to beat the crap out of you whenever I feel like it. I do not expect to pay that much money to sit in a room with 49 other people who have difficulty with some of the, shall we say, more basic aspects of education? (Case in point: more than one person today had a problem following the alphabet. English. You know, the one with the song? Yeah.) We also learned today that the people in the room wanted to retire at 65, and live for 30 years afterwards. I think that the fact that 1/3 of the people in the room are 94 1/2 had a lot to do with that strange demographic hiccup. 95 is a speed, not an age. If you want to be that old, then there's something seriously wrong with you.

So, needless to say, we're not going to sign up for any additional classes. If it was a tenth as much, then we'd probably do it. The classes are really quite good. It's a bit discouraging to learn that two out of three instructors borrowed the money to take these advanced courses from Mommy and Daddy, though. (Damn kids.) We're going back tomorrow. Just because. We paid for three days, we'll get as much out of it as we can. I'm just not keen on selling a kidney to learn more. (Not my own, anyway.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If You Call in the Next Ten Minutes...

... we'll give you a free Pocket Fisherman! (No idea why you'd want to fish in your pockets, and I really don't want to know.)

Today was our first day of the STAR Trader stock market seminar thingy we purchased thanks to a late night infomercial. The parts that sucked were having to get up at 7am in order to get there on time, and having to take a sleeping pill in order to fall asleep in the first place. (Yeah, I know. Boo hoo.) The class was very informative. I'm impressed with it all so far, and we both feel we're getting our money's worth. Teach me how to read charts on a computer to make money? Where have you been all my life?!? I don't have to talk to anyone, never go near a phone, don't have to get up early, and I get rewarded based on how well I figure stuff out? I think I hear my calling calling.

It was also interesting to note yet another cultural difference. I've been in a large number of classes in NY, both as a student and as an instructor. This was the first time I have ever seen every single person come back from break and lunch on time if not early! Sure, you could argue that since the people actually paid to be there, they're not going to want to miss any of it. I would counter that since the people who were in the classes I taught paid taxes, they had paid to be there as well. (But that kind of logic never worked.)

Anyhoo, we've got two more days of learnin', which means two more days of alarm clocks.

Oh! Here's something that'll scare the people who know me... it was flippin' freezing in the classroom! Granted, I'm still not wearing pants, but it used to take a hell of a lot for me to get a chill. (Hypothermia for a normal person = chill for me) Either my blood has thinned out to a fine mist, or we were right under an A/C vent, but it actually felt good to go outside into the 90-ish weather! (Hmm... maybe I was abducted by aliens and replaced with a replicant. Stupid aliens could've at least made this body thinner. Or maybe some hair.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Extreme Golf!

We saw an ad for a golf course earlier today. Something that sure wouldn't have worked in New York. I don't remember which golf course, but the commercial opened with: "It's never too hot to golf", and halfway through told us to "play until you're dehydrated." Neat! I guess it's OK, as long as they expire in the sand trap. See, if a New York commercial had that, they'd have lawsuits up the wazoo with cries of: "But they told me to play until I was dehydrated!" No, not all New Yorkers do what their televisions tell them to do. Calm down. They do love to sue, though. If they can sue over spoiled meat, they'd sure as hell sue for false advertising. And they'd never have something like the stupid motorist law.

Personally, I'm waiting for the "misuse of an apostrophe S" law.