Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
… 2 new blogs that you might be interested in. One is mine, Stop Me If You've Heard This One Already..., which will be family stories from my life. I’ve got a better description if you go check out the blog.
… The other one is my sister-in-law’s, Divinely Inspired. As many of you know, she got her Master’s degree in Divinity the same time I got my Master’s, and from what I understand, her blog is going to be about her feelings about her relationship with God and God’s relationship with the human race.
… Crystal Anderson died in a car accident yesterday. What’s different about this one is that her death was a direct result of her desire to help other accident victims. She got out of her vehicle to help some people in a car that landed on it’s roof, and got struck by someone else that had lost control on the slick road. (Tribune article here).
Saturday, December 26, 2009
… You’re going to have to click on these pictures if you want to read them. I got the first one from a student a few years ago. He was in my first Web Design class, and as you might be able to infer from the letter, we had a lot of fun.
… The second one was from a student this year. She struggles in math, asks a million questions throughout my lectures, works pretty hard to get a B out of my class. Sometimes, being constantly interrupted with questions can get a little frustrating, but I keep reminding myself that it’s better than sitting there silently, oblivious, and then when the test comes around staring at it and saying “I don’t get any of this.”
… Just you don’t get the impression it’s all compliments, another student handed me a Christmas card this year and said “Here, my mom made me give cards to all my teachers.”
… And finally, on the Chevron front, from one of the 20-something employees when we were talking about how Oregon doesn’t allow self-serve gas pumping. He says “Having someone fill my gas tank for me would be like a complete stranger giving me a massage.” Has is really been that long since we’ve had full-serve stations?
… I actually bought Palin’s latest book. Ok, so it was as a gag gift for the faculty Christmas dinner, but this does mean that I have bought both of her books. I did read her first one, “A New Kind Of Leader”, and even got an A on the report for my Leadership class.
… But this post is about the word “rogue” and choosing one’s words carefully.
… There’s been a few letters in the Public Forum of the Salt Lake Tribune that have commented on the meaning of the word “rogue” and it’s negative connotations. Today’s writer looked up the word in the American College Dictionary, I can’t remember the one the previous writer used, I looked it up online just to double check the facts.
- a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel.
- a playfully mischievous person; scamp
- a tramp or vagabond.
- a rogue elephant or other animal of similar disposition.
- Biology. a usually inferior organism, esp. a plant, varying markedly from the normal.
- to cheat.
- to uproot or destroy (plants, etc., that do not conform to a desired standard).
- (of an animal) having an abnormally savage or unpredictable disposition, as a rogue elephant.
- no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade: a rogue cop; a rogue union local, a rogue Alaskan Governor and Vice Presidential candidate. (ok, I added that last little bit in.)
- a dishonest or worthless person; scoundrel
- an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation
… Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume she was going for something close to the meaning I put in red, in order to imply she does not follow the dictates of the party line or follow what the powers that be would expect her to do.
… Yet, being the astute political observer that she is, you would have expected her to anticipate the fun and ridicule that opponents would get from the many other, less complimentary, meanings of the word.
… Then again, maybe not.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
… 3 months ago Battlecruiser passed inspection. I never got it registered, I needed to drop the insurance on it and park it for the winter. So, today I brought it out to get inspected. With old cars, there’s always the anticipation of it being rejected, for a number of reasons, and even though it passed only 3 months ago, and hasn’t been used since then, I was a little anxious. So when I saw the REJECTED stamp on my paperwork, I was running through my mind the things that could go wrong while just sitting, and guesstimating how much it was going to cost.
… Imagine my surprise when it failed because the wiper-washers weren’t working. As a matter of fact, most of the system was removed by the previous owner in order to install a second, backup battery. It’s not something someone would steal out of the car.
… So, tell me why, two years in a row it can pass inspection without any wiper-washers, and then all of a sudden this time they notice? Guess it all depends on who is doing the inspection, and what kind of day they are having.
… I brought the car home, jumped in the Subaru and went down to Pep Boys to see if they had the stuff to fix it. I knew pretty much nobody would have original equipment parts for that system, so I just wanted to get a universal, after-market system. The guy at the counter looked at me like I was growing a 3rd arm out the top of my head. I had to explain the whole situation to him before he figured out enough to send me to someone who actually knew cars*. This is how I discovered CarQuest down on 3rd East and about 22nd South. I walked in there, looked around and immediately felt like these guys knew what they were selling. I asked one of the guys on the counter about and after-market wiper-washer system and he said “Jes a sec.”, wandered off and came back 5 minutes later with exactly what I needed, short one piece. I found a vacuum hose T which looked like what I needed and asked him if it would work with the washer system. Instead of “dunno”, he said that it sure would, since the systems are basically the same. $55 later I have just what I need to get the car to pass inspection, just need daylight back so I can see what I’m doing when I install it.
*My brothers and I have often discussed how to work in a car parts store these days all you need to know is how to read a computer terminal. The days of “Well, I got the part for a 1971, but if ya just drill an extra hole in it it’ll work for a ‘68” are long gone.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
… On the way to work today, right before 4pm, the traffic watch on the radio station I listen to told of 6 or 7 different accidents causing delays for the daily commute. It never ceases to amaze me how Utahns forget how to drive in snow over every summer.
… To me, the worst offenders are the people in 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles. They seem to forget that despite the fact that they can get through a lot of stuff those poor 2-wheel drives can’t, that they neither stop nor corner any better than any other car on the road. Case in point, the Jeep in the picture. We heard about it from a customer, and of course had to look out the back door of the Chevron and check it out. I have no idea exactly what happened, but they were high-centered on a huge boulder. To do that they must have been going fairly fast, to have the momentum to get up on the rock.
… But, hey, they have 4-wheel drive. They were able to get going fast up the hill, why shouldn’t they? It shouldn’t be able to be pushed around by slush and snow on the road. It shouldn’t lose control and slam into the median. No matter how fast they go, they wouldn’t end up being yanked off a big ol’ rock by a tow truck. Then again, maybe it would.
… Snowed most of the day today, and it’s supposed to continue into tomorrow. This is a good thing, not only for skiers, but for anyone who breathes the air in the valley. The city is so beautiful right after a snow, when the mountains are covered in white, and the air is crystal clear.
… I finished off my first day of Christmas, oops, sorry, Winter Break with a hot buttered rum. I think it’s going to be a nightly tradition for the rest of the break.
… It all started off when I was having dinner with some friends from Granite High. One of the ladies who has been a widow for a couple of decades decided to adopt the motto “2000 men in 2000-ten”. Of course she was just kidding, that would be over 5 men a day, but we sure had a laugh over it. So, I decided to commit to drinking one bottle of liquor every night for the 16 days of break.
… When she decided to adapt “2000 men in 2000-ten” to something more reasonable, like just getting a date or two, I decided to reduce mine too. Somebody suggested hot buttered rum, and with how cold it is out there, it sounded perfect.
… So, one hot buttered rum right before bed. Just finished off the first one, it was good, warming and comforting after this cold and dreary day. Just in case you are interested in joining me, here is the recipe (I got off the internet):
· 1 small slice soft butter
· 1 tsp brown sugar
· optional spices: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg
· vanilla extract
· 2 oz dark rum
· boiling water
1. Place the butter, sugar and spices at the bottom of an
….Irish coffee glass or mug.
2. Mix well or muddle.
3. Pour in the rum and boiling water.
Monday, December 21, 2009
… Because they can convince you that you need to buy their product now solely because you can get that new lid that you’d just throw away if it came on the can instead of next to it.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
… Anybody else having flashbacks to the Lori Hacking case? Back in 2004. The current Susan Powell case sure is giving me them.
… There are some differences though. In the Hacking case the wife supposedly went out jogging and never came back. In the Powell case the husband took the kids out* and came back to find his wife missing.
… In both cases, the closer police look(ed), the more holes they found in the husbands’ stories.
… I pray that they find Susan Powell alive and relatively well. But if I were a betting man, my money would be on it turning out a lot like the Hacking case. I just hope that they find her, one way or the other, so her family can get the closure they deserve.
*Camping. At midnight. In the middle of winter. With a 2 and 4 year old. Just overnight. Yeah, I believe it.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
… Because of some before the break activities, we had a pretty bizarre schedule on Friday. Lunch normally revolves around 3rd period, Friday it revolved around 4th, which we knew would create some havoc for the students, despite herculean efforts to prevent that. But I had two 9th grade students come in the last seconds of 4th period, when we were handing out the tickets to get into the various activities, and tell me they accidentally went to 2nd lunch, they swore they weren’t sluffing. For those of you that don’t teach middle school, that would mean they came to my class during 1st lunch, when nobody was there, spent half an hour wandering around the school trying to figure out why nobody was in my room, and then when the bell rang for 2nd lunch thought “Oh, guess we missed them, time to head over to lunch.” The most insulting part is that they really expected me to fall for it.
… I was standing at the back door of the gym, letting kids in and out to cool off from the dance, when Pedro’s post about the inversion came to mind. It hasn’t gotten any better since his post. I looked out across the field at the muck in the air and thought “How in hell can Utah politicians deny that we’re messing up the planet?”
… See, we live in a bowl here in Salt Lake City. Mountains pretty much all around us. And when a high pressure sets in, it’s like putting a lid on that bowl. The jet stream pushes warmer air over us, but it can’t get into the valley*. Hence the inversion, it will actually be warmer up in Park City than it is down in the valley, sometimes by almost 10 degrees. What that also means is that all the pollution gets stuck in the bowl too. If an inversion lasts long enough, newscasters will advise residents to get out of the city and go up into the mountains for a few hours, not only for clean air, but also for whatever it is in direct sunlight that helps alleviate SAD depression. Which is why I’m praying for a good snow storm this weekend. More often than not, the bitter cold comes right before a snowstorm, which rips the lid off the bowl, scouring out the pollution and warming up the valley.
… Yes, I AM dreaming of a white Christmas. Or day before Christmas. Or tomorrow.
* Meteorological information is a combination of facts I’ve absorbed over the years and personal conjecture from those facts. Some of it could be wrong, but at least it sounds good.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
… I showed up to work at Chevron and one of the workers told me that they had a little bit of excitement that morning. He showed me the tire tracks going through the snow and over the lawn.
… It seems that a drunk driver (the cop arrested him for DUI, so he really was) tried to come in to get some gas and missed the driveway by a little bit. He must have been going pretty fast, since he was in a 2 wheel drive SAAB, and still made it up and over the lawn, which is a little hill. He was also incredibly lucky that he missed both the light pole on the left side, and the huge rock in the bushes on the right side. (Click on the second picture to enlarge so you can see the rock). Lucky, yes and no. The manager said that the driver was drunk enough that he could smell beer all over the guy. Which is probably why he got arrested for DUI.
… The thing I’m still having a hard time with is that this all happened at 10 in the morning. Seriously, that “well, it’s after 5pm somewhere in the world” really shouldn’t work.
Monday, December 14, 2009
“Enjoy the ride. There is no return ticket.”
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably.
Got that in an email today. There was a lot more to it, which was all the usual Carlin good, but I just wanted to put these few tidbits on here.
… I installed my smoke/CO detectors last night. I bought them because they didn’t look like your usual detectors, they’re square and curved. Figured they wouldn’t stick out as much. They do much more than just warn you that your house is on fire or you are about to suffocate. They beep and they say “Fire, exit now” and “Carbon dioxide detected, move to fresh air” in both English and Spanish.
… But even better they have you set these little switches to match. I had no idea why until I tested the second one – and they both went off. Yup, they’re a SYSTEM. If one goes off, it tells the other one to go off also. Way cool. Now I want to get a dozen more, so I can hear “Monoxido de carbono detectado. Muevase a un sitio con aire fresco.” broadcast throughout the house.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
… This woman was having trouble with her card out at the pumps, and came in with an attitude. Before I could even say “HI”, she says to me “What’s the problem out there at your pumps?” Instead of saying that 9 times out of 10 it’s the proverbial ID-10-T error, I blamed it on the weather, and cheerfully offered to run it pre-pay at my register. Attitude still intact, (apparently I was suppose to mystically fix the problem at the pump), she agreed and we ran her card.
… “Credit Card Declined”. In this case, the most beautiful words I’d seen all day. Usually I don’t like to see those words. It makes the customer unhappy, makes me uncomfortable and I hate explaining that I have no idea why the card was denied and, no, I can’t change it. But I have to admit, making an arrogant person eat crow feels good. Especially when you can do it in a customer-service appropriate way.
… Seems I left a little mess at the bottom of the oven last time I used it. I was cooking up a casserole this morning and smoke started pouring out of the oven. As you can see, it filled the house. No big deal, it didn’t smell up the house, and it’s already clearing out. Except for one thing. Neither of my smoke alarms went off, and I just changed the batteries when we went off daylight savings time. Not the one on the kitchen ceiling, not the one in the bedroom. I even did the little “weekly test” on them, while the house was full of smoke, and both tested out fine. Yeah, they work, they just can’t smell smoke. Hmmm, just a wee bit scary.
… Guess where I’m going before work today? Yup. Home Depot. To get 2 brand new smoke detectors. The wiring in my house is only about 5 years old, but I did it myself and the house is almost 100 years old. My biggest fear, other than the inevitable earthquake, is an electrical fire. Which, until today, was comforted by the fact that I had 2 smoke alarms in a 1100 sq ft home. Tonight I’ll sleep fine, with 2 brand new ones.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
… In my opinion, one of the worst problems to have in a old car is an electrical one. With literally miles of wiring, problems can take hours and hours just to track down. Which is why I’ve always said if you take it to a repair shop you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars on labor just to have a 47 cent part replaced.
… The most worrisome problem I saw when I pickled up my $200 car #55 was in the turn signal system. The left signal worked perfect, but when you turned on the right signal, the left signal flashed also, although not as brightly. It was even worse when either the tail lights or the brake lights were on. Because of the crossover from one side to the other, I didn’t automatically assume that it had something to do with bad light bulbs, after all, they were all working.
… So I took apart the right tail light and started messing around with it. All the bulbs were working, but I finally did notice that one of the two bulbs for the tail/signal/brake lights always burned bright. The other one was bright whenever the signal was on, but was dimmer when it was just the tail light. (Older car tail lights have bulbs with two filaments in them, one dim one for the tail lights and one bright one for both the brakes and signals.) So, I pulled out the bulb and noticed that it was a 1 filament bulb, in a 2 filament socket. Not good. A single filament bulb has a single electrical connection in the center, the double filament has two connections, one for the dim system, one for the bright system. With the single connection in the center, put in the double socket, it was connecting the two systems together, which was what was making the whole thing skewompus.
… I put in a correct bulb and voila, everything worked right. Which is a big relief for me, since the cost of fixing electrical problems can be so unpredictable. Now, I at least have an good idea how much it’s going to cost me to get the new beast on the road. I know it’s going to need a new exhaust system, which is no big deal since I’ve always put dual exhaust on the old LTDs I buy. It will also need brakes and tires. It’ll cost around $1,000 altogether, but at least I now know I’m not going to have to buy a complete new electrical harness for the car.