Monday, July 26, 2004


Here's a closer look. Posted by Hello


I wonder how long it's been since this blade has seen the light of day. Glad I checked it out before I took it to the lawn! Posted by Hello

Insert Witty Title Here

Another weekend past, time for an update to the blog. I think I'll try to go in reverse chronological order, as it's easier for me to remember that way.
I had a good chat with Rob last night, who is is currently down at Texas A&M. I finally straightened out what kind of car he's driving, a Volkswagen Rabbit (I think it was a 1983):

I think that photo is from the wrong year though. Anyway we talked about work, surfing, folks from Grand Haven. He sounded happy to talk, which I was glad about. Sometimes when you get Rob on the phone and he wants to be doing something else the conversation is pretty one-sided (though I'm guilty of that as well).
I also got some lawn care items this weekend from Susan's house. Her house sold, so know they (Susan and my Dad) have about a month to dispose of the things that won't fit in the new place or they already have. I got a lawnmower, fertilizer spreader, and a garden house. Just in time too, as the lawn is really starting to look do for a trim. I just need to locate a new blade for the lawnmower. Susan told me I should check the blade before I tried to mow, and excellent suggestion. I took a photo of it to post, hopefully I'll remember to post it tonight. I think folks will crack a smile when they see the photo and think about me trying to mow the yard with it.
This weekend Ellie and I made the trek to Grand Haven for Cook- Scott wedding. AJ asked me to be one of the groomsman, and I was quite happy to oblige. Scott Szcepanek had an excellent toast, a nice balance of cute and humorous. Being there I talked with a lot of people I really haven't seen much of since I went off to Michigan State. Sometimes I feel a bit melancholic that I lost contact with people that I was such good friends with in high school, and then I remember that most of us have the same experience. As many times as I've tried to paint myself as an individual, I recognize my experience is much like the rest of us. Keeps me human. I enjoyed talking with everyone I've been out of touch with.
It was especially nice to see Kris (Engel). I can't recall the last time we saw each other face to face. I've really missed talking to him. I think I felt like I was in a time warp, standing there talking, swinging one-liners and laughing together. It's always a pleasure to stand with someone, have a conversation, and just enjoy their company.
We took some photos and hung out. The church had a working Nintendo, so we spent our time reminiscing and playing Super Mario Brothers and Kung Fu. Ellie spent much of her time hanging out with another one of the groomsman's wives who is also pregnant. They also just moved into a new house. Her husband is changing to a new job soon, as am I (or at least a status change in my case).
Unfortunately we weren't able to make it to the rehearsal dinner on Friday. Ellie had to work until late that evening, and we had to run several errands as well. In the end we got to Grand Haven at about 10:30pm, but we did run out and meet some of the other wedding party members and got my tuxedo. Spent about 20 minutes, then everyone else was off to bed or The Bourne Supremacy. The wedding party said it was very mediocre.
I think that's probably enough for know, perhaps I'll try to write out something more later.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Floored

    I took the day off of work yesterday to be home for a new floor to be installed. When we moved into the house there were spots of polyurethane that had dried onto the flooring, as well as a host of nicks and a long scrape where the dish washer had been dragged along the floor. Westridge Builders co-owner (I think) saw it and decided that after all our complaints about it that they should just replace it.
    So yesterday the flooring guys showed up and put down a new flooring in the kitchen and dining area for us. I spent a good chunk of the day painting the door that leads from the garage into the house. It was hot and humid yesterday, so I had to give each coat of paint over an hour to dry, so I started in the morning and didn't put the door on until early this morning. Looks very blue.
    I painted both sides of the door, which unfortunately Ellie didn't want. She asked me to paint the door, which in my mind meant both sides. She meant only the side facing the garage. By the time this was determined I had already put paint on both sides of the door though. When I door the front door with both agreed it will only be the exterior face, but I think I'll need to get some more paint before I can finish that.
    For the first time in my life I took the time to write my US Representative and both Senators for Michigan. I used a free fax service to send them as an email to a fax machine in Washington DC, which then faxes to the appropriate number. Unfortunately only one went through correctly. Apparently my Senators fax machines are on the fritz. I'll try sending them again later, since I've got nothing to lose doing so. I sent them a message regarding Senator Hatch's proposed INDUCE Act legislation. I'm thinking of sending another to mention some Voice Over IP legislation that is also in the Senate. Basically, my feeling is to place only minimal regulation on either of them. Sen. Hatch wants to hold software companies liable for the bad judgement of their users, while some of the other senators want to tax VoIP (probably to death), so it's like normal phone lines. VoIP's best feature is it's cheaper that normal phone service because there are no taxes on it at this point. We'll see how things go I guess.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I know the last post was quite short. I had originally written a much longer post, but when I went to publish it to the web the publish step failed. Of course I had written the file on the manual entry page of Blogger, rather than composing it in my email client and sending it that way. The result was I lost the next 3 paragraphs I had written. A quick summary would be that there are other Man Movies that are being considered in the future.

I was supposed to paint the front door and interior garage doors this weekend. I even went to Lowe's and picked up the painter's tape to put on the windows. I didn't pick up any brushes though, because I think we have some around the house. Ellie seems to think we don't. Either way, I didn't get around to looking for them, as we instead did some cleaning around the house and reorganized some closets. Ellie got tired, so we stopped and decided to relax for Sunday afternoon. We watched In America. It's so exciting to see that we still get films that pull the heartstrings, and leave us with happiness that there is true goodness in life. Sometimes its quite easy to feel all the negativity surrounding us. I don't want to bury my head in the sand to avoid it, but it is so frustrating to turn on the news, see violence being done to so many people, and then realize that the story is the same as it was 4000 years ago. Anyway, it was a great film.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Man Movie Night

This last Wednesday some of my fellow lab workers and I got together for what we decided to call the "Man Movie Night." For this inaugural edition we all chose to go to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. It was pretty humorous, not roll on the ground funny, but there were some very humorous moments. I keep finding myself saying "Como estas, bitches" when I walk into the grad student office, which I thought was one of the more humurous moments in the movie. I also really enjoyed the performance of Steve Carrell (normally of Comedy Central's Daily Show) as the bizarre weatherman. Totally off the wall comments that cracked me up.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Representative Government

The thought occured to me last week, but I've been putting off writing
about it for some time now. In Michigan there are people trying to get
particular measures on the ballot, with varying levels of success. Off
the top of my head they are:
-Removing a ban on the death penalty in Michigan
-Banning gay marriage
-Ending race preference in admission to state schools
-Prohibiting partial-birth abortion

Some of these are going to be on the ballot, some are not. I like the
idea of the voters as a population deciding the issue, but one thing
troubles me. Why do we need these ballot initiatives? If a reporter
stopped me and asked what was going on my answer would be that our
elected officials are not doing their jobs. They are not representing
the views of the people they represent, rather they are pushing through
along party agendas.

Something reminded me, inspired me this morning to actually get to
writing on this. There was a discussion on the Diane Rheem show about
Catholic bishops saying that John Kerry should not be allowed communion
because of his views on abortion, with a few bishops saying that he
should be excommunicated! Now I've heard some rumbling about this, but
one caller made an excellent point. How can Catholics, or any Chrisitian
people, rail against John Kerry and then promote George Bush? The caller
pointed out that George Bush was a pro-war, pro-death penalty
politician, both of which the Catholic Church condemns.

I feel like people, especaially our elected officials, have lost touch
with what we the people want for our nation . It seems there is no room
for the moderate left. There are only "swing voters" who are either
pulled left or right. I'm so frustrated with this two party system. I
wish John McCain and Bill Bradley would get together and forge a new
party, one that people could say "Gee, I don't agree with you in that
respect, but I think we can approach it with some discussion" rather
than yelling from either side of the aisle about "hippies" or
"chickenhawks."

On a different, personal note, Ellie and I enjoyed another great weekend
up at the Evart lake house with her parents. I got a chance to go out
golfing and really enjoyed myself on the back part of the course. I've
got a recurrent issue when golfing, when I hit the ball it tends to
slice off to the right. I noticed toward the end of the day that as I
took my swing if I kept my left arm pretty straight and didn't try to
deepen the backswing by shifting my wrists (basically taking a partial
backswing), it seemed like I could straighten the shot out a bit. Of
course I didn't notice it until the 17th hole, but next time out I'll
have to try to remember that.

Friday, July 02, 2004

From the Mouths of Soldiers

There hasn't been much on my mind to write about of late. Rather than
rehashing what we've been doing around the house (growing grass), I'll
mention that Ellie's 25th birthday came on the 30th. Her parents drove
up from VA and are now spending the summer up at their lake house. It
was great to see them, it's really too bad Ellie and I live so far from
them now. We hope to spend some weekends up north at the lake house,
including this upcoming weekend.

The title of the post has nothing to do with the above. This morning
Ellie and I were carpooling to work. I often like to listen to National
Public Radio when we drive, so I was getting my morning news fix. NPR
apparently has an ongoing interview with a Army soldier, who has just
returned from a year in Iraq, preceded by a year in Afghanistan (I may
be mixing this up, I can't seem to find the piece on NPR's website so I
can't check my facts). One thing I do remember clearly and distinctly
was when the interviewer asked about how the soldier felt about our
justification in going to Iraq he said "I have to be careful what I say."

This really got my brain spinning, enought to inspire a blog post. If
even our soldiers can't say with positive conviction we did the right
thing, I think obviously we haven't. I don't think anyone debates the
war in Afghanistan was justifable. The war in Iraq is something else
though. For many Americans it is a badge of shame. Recently I've been
watching Band of Brothers on the History Channel. An
outstanding drama in my mind, I think some of the actors really managed
to capture some of the sadness of war. There is a striking contrast
between the comments of the soldiers involved in World War II and the
soldier on NPR this morning. All the WWII soldiers believed in what they
were doing, and don't offer this justifcation for WWII : "We just doing
our job, what we were ordered to do." They were truly defending the
freedom of the people of the world.

Our soldiers cannot say that about the Iraq war. Many have been shouted
down for comparing Iraq to Vietnam, but at this point the similarities
are obvious. We are in a country that doesn't want us there. Soldiers
die nearly every day from guerilla warfare. At this point I just don't
have much spirit to write much more on the subject. It's too saddening,
too infuriating. I'll put it simply, and just say I think I'm one of
many that is losing faith in our government. I think it will be
interesting to see the participation in the Novemeber elections, if more
people turn out than in 2000 or fewer. Time will tell.