Sunday, May 31, 2009

Job Hunting Introspection

I'm trying to figure out how I should fit my current job as a loss prevention agent into my resume given that I am trying to get out of the security field. I think it is a bad fit for me and I'd much rather have a job that was less physically dangerous even if it paid less. Resume writing is one of my least favorite tasks since I feel like I have nothing to brag about and this sort of self examination is exactly the sort of thing that tends to bring on bouts of depression. Thus trapping me in less than desirable job positions.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Good Mail Day

It was a very good mail day! Today I got my paystub, which is not actual money (it having already gone into my account) but is still nice, and my Denver Botanic Gardens membership card, and a CD all the way from Europe sent by my wonderful friend Vince.

Hold fast to the law
Of the last cold tome
Where the earth
Of the truth lies thick
Upon the page
And the loam
Of faith
In the ink
Long fled
From the drone
Of the nib
Flows on,
Till the last
Of the first
And the least
Of the past
Is dust
And the dust
Is lost
Hold fast!

I'm listing now and it is making me pretty darn happy along with a glass of port and some nice cheese.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Considering Vehicle Purchase

I am seriously considering the purchase of a new car. Why? Because buying now may be paradoxically safer than waiting until I have more money later. If inflation takes off then money I am currently saving towards a new car right now would be partially wiped out. On the other hand if I can get a fixed loan from my credit union or whatever other financing group I would be protected. Provided I also could save a near equal amount as a hedge against the much more frightening prospect of deflation.

I could also, slightly, reduce the amount I spend every month on gasoline if I purchased a more efficient car. I currently get about 28 miles per gallon and given my moderate driving habits I can expect to do slightly better than the EPA rating for a car. If I got one of the new Priuses I could halve my gas expense at the cost of a higher car payment than if I got a less expensive vehicle (as I would want to get it a Prius would cost about $23,348). Also, I have heard there is a waiting list.

On the other hand I could get the nearly as efficient new Honda Insight for just $20,769. Given Honda's ability and reputation I expect that it would be just about as well made as the Toyota. The only reason to go with the Prius is that it is a third generation of an existing car where they've worked out the bugs rather than essentially a completely redesigned model. Plus I've heard good things so far about the things they're doing to make the Prius more reliable, like eliminating belts.

Possibly more practical would be getting a Honda Fit ($15,706) or a Toyota Yaris ($15,288). Of the two I would probably lean towards the Honda going for a bargain price car. Really it is the much more likely option, but it would probably only give me a marginal improvement over my current gas mileage.

Repeal in 2012?

I am increasingly comfortable with the idea of a ballot initiative to remove the anti-same sex marriage amendment from the Colorado State Constitution. I've looked at the numbers myself and read an analysis by Nate Silver of that is even more optimistic than my own. He has the break over point as being in 2010, that is if the anti-gay marriage initiative was on the ballot next year rather than back in 2006 it would have failed. My own numbers seem to be a bit more conservative, I put the break over year as being 2014.

The thing is that with all these numbers the situation at the time can overwhelm demographics. I mean by this that even if Nate is right that we could have a lackluster liberal turn out in 2010 in Colorado due to uninspiring candidates or disillusionment with the folks we elected last time.

My impression is that the best early date would be 2012 if President Obama is popular and we could reasonably expect high turn out among gay allies. If not we'd have to put it off until 2014 or 2016. The same would seem to hold true with California, which Nate Silver puts in the same category as Colorado. Personally I think that California is a bit more likely to get an early date done due to the gay rights groups out there being fired up to win and on the ball with figuring out how to run a better campaign.

And if it succeeds it might finally give everyone a reason to approve of higher numbers to change the constitutions of both states.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marcus Brigstocke

My first exposure to the humor of Marcus Brigstocke was in a you tube video created by a fan by adding (a somewhat mediocre) collage of images to a radio program.

It is not an exact representation of my views. Well my serious views anyways. But it does get my general point of view about religion across in a humorous way. Not in a way that I would share with, say, my parents or someone else I liked a great deal who I knew to be seriously religious. I could see where some religious people would have a nice laugh about this much the same way that I would laugh at jokes pointing out the (well known) foibles of Atheists, but it isn't entirely fair. That said most humor isn't fair and it amused me.

Yes, I realize that if religion actually went away it would not mean a new era of peace and prosperity. It would just mean that people who wanted to beat up someone they do not like would need to find a new excuse or rationalization as to why it is okay. But I have every confidence that people would find a way and possibly even to pretend that it was better for the person being killed than to go on living in his mistaken beliefs. People are amazing at what they can rationalize. But it is a nice little fantasy that maybe if normal, sane rational religious people stopped going to church because of the irrationality of their leaders we might actually get a better world.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Remembering Oatmeals Breakfasts Past

I seem to be thinking a lot about food lately. Food and memory seem to be intertwined for me, which should not be surprising since memory is largely about being able to find food. And I'm hardly the first to make the connection between food and memory, Proust famously started remembering things because of petite madeleines.

I am mostly remembering all the camping trips I took as child and young man. Today it was seeing the packages of instant oatmeal in all their flavors that brings back those mountain mornings. I remember that I had a definite hierarchy of which packets were better or worse. I liked the apple and cinnamon ones with their funny little bits of dried apples and the fake dairy powder. The 'maple' flavor was okay, but even back then I had a preference for fruit. Terrible was if I got stuck with a packet of plain. I think I recall liking the peaches and cream flavor okay. But apple was definitely tops. The flavor I saw today was strawberry and I don't recall that one specifically, but I suspect I disliked it for not tasting either of real strawberries or artificial in a way that appealed to my childish palate.

I remember specifically that we'd bring water to boil, rather quickly at over 2750 meters in elevation (9,022 feet), and then carefully pour it into the bowl. I always wanted just enough to moisten the oatmeal and not enough to make it goopy. My mother liked it a lot better when it was more like traditional oatmeal, I wanted it to be almost like oatmeal cookie dough in consistency. Plus without as much water it could be eaten faster since not as much heat would be transferred. Perhaps my aversion grew out of an early experience of trying to eat hot oatmeal on a cold morning too quickly.

I cannot say which camping trip it was specifically, but I remember it was in the beat up camper that my father had before he got the big trailer. It seemed to be at Steamboat Reservoir, but we went there so often it could be a composite memory rather than one specif instance when I got the oatmeal just so and was quite happy with it.

Tomorrow I shall have peaches and whole milk on my oatmeal. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Home Made Pickelhaube Helmet

Funny thing seen at work today. A guy with a pink motorcycle helmet with a black spike like a Pickelhaube (those old Prussian/German army helmets). When I walked by him I realized that the spike was in all probably a very thin butt plug. I found this more amusing than anything else and I assume the vast majority of people would never realize what the intended purpose of the spike on his helmet was.

Absence of Gum

Usually the presence of something triggers a memory. How much longer does the absences of something take to make someone remember? I noticed the other day that Trident no longer sells cinnamon gum. That was the kind that my paternal grandmother almost always carried. I have a lot of memories of her giving me a stick while we rode around in her big van in San Diego. She often sang part of a song that I thought was a lullaby while driving.

"Down in the valley, valley so low
Hang your head over
And hear the wind blow"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Royal Flushometer Failure

One of the differences between my apartment and most places I've lived is that in the bathroom the toilet uses a flushometer rather than the tank usual in private residences. This morning when I went to flush the thing first would not work and then allowed the water to flow until I figured out how to close the 'control stop' to shut the thing off. Learn something new every day and all that (The particular model is a Sloan Royal Flushometer and the internet supplied me with the assurance to turn the little screw thingy with worry that I was going to cause a worse problem).

It did make me wonder why different types of hardware are selected though. I know that to work the flushometer type need bigger pipes, but that should cost more money. Does the use of the type in commercial settings indicate that they make it more expensive to install but less expensive to operate? Certainly in rural settings the water pressure might be insufficient for the flushometer type to work, but why are they not more widely used in cities?

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Much Easier Decision

I almost never go to conventions because of the guests. I do, sometimes, avoid them because of their guests though. I was just looking at the guests for Gaylaxicon and MileHiCon this year because I can only get the time off for one and saw that Lawrence Schimel is going to be at Gaylaxicon. I have a high negative desire to meet him so I'm glad on two levels. One I do not have to back out of plans now and I feel much better about being a stick in the mud and staying in Denver.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Institutional Grade Science Fiction

The ads for the new Star Trek movie do not excite me. In fairness I am often a fairly difficult person to convince that something will be good. Advertisements in particular have a particularly high hurtle to get over with me since I have seen so many good ads for bad movies or products. However, I do have a certain fondness for Star Trek since it was a favorite of mine when I was a child, though that nostalgia is tempered the the knowledge that it was great for its time and when I have seen reruns of the original series it is no longer quite as magical.

What excited me about Star Trek was that even in the 1980s it was pretty cutting edge. Not in its special effects but in the stories that it was telling and the issues it was asking us to have a hard look at. Racism is not exactly dead even today, but when Star Trek put a black woman on the bridge of a starship it was a completely different world. Not to mention the story lines that dealt with exactly the same issues, but using aliens as metaphors. Not to mention that the idea of a future where the Russians would be trusted friends and all the rest of it.

Even Star Trek: The Next Generation did a certain amount of dealing with real world issues though science fiction and asking questions about how we treat returning soldiers for instance. But unlike the first television series it seemed to shy away from being too critical of our own culture or the hard issues of our time. Gays and homosexuals in the future? Never once. Not even in metaphor. Every series since that time has moved further and further away from asking hard questions as the franchise became more mainstream.

Under all the bright shiny newness it has become one of the boring mainstream institutions. Established institutions don't deal with hard issues, they put them off until someone else has to deal with them. Under all the gadgets and special effects there isn't a story for me to be interested in anymore. That's what is wrong with Star Trek for me.

Plus I'm sure that I've already seen all these special effects/stunts before in everything from Independence Day to Riddic. Great. Someone who can show how bad-ass he is by kicking it up to 11 and jumping of something even higher or blowing up something bigger. Bah.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Compact Disc Rarities

Perhaps I was just not as effective at searching all those years ago or perhaps it was all ready out of print when I first saw it, but this evening I thought to search for the Gormenghast Soundtrack. The best price I saw was for a used copy in the UK going for thirty pounds. That is currently about forty-five dollars plus international shipping and whatever I might have to pay for conversion. Call it a nice round $60.00 on a sight unseen item...

I would overall be happier to pay such a price if I knew that the artists involved were going to see any of it rather than the speculator who bought the physical CD. And yet I am almost considering this. Almost, but not quite yet.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Behind the Talk Show Curtain

Why am I ranting today? Because after watching "The Old Curiosity Shop" on PBS I happened to see part of something like a gay talk show. As usual even liberal talk shows are full of people who act like they got one too many whacks with the stupid stick as a baby. It does not matter if a talk show is conservative or liberal, it is at heart about filling time with things that will make people alternate between rage and schadenfreude. Because it is all about filling airtime with stuff that will keep people tuned in at low cost.

Mission accomplished on the making me angry. Though not in either keeping me tuned in or turning me again the target I suppose they wanted to point me at. After just a few moments I wanted to shout at them, "What the hell is wrong with you people?" As a thinking person I am outraged that you're paying attention to the opinion of a beauty pageant contestant.

"Headline: Beauty pageant contestant says something stupid. People shocked that woman selected solely upon her beauty would not necessarily be a nice person. In other news an untrained dog bit its owner today. Bystanders quoted, 'We never expected this.'"

If the Senator from California had said what she did I would have been surprised and outraged. But a beauty contest winner? Come on people. She's just a pretty face, not an elected official or something. She isn't even as consequential as a "D list" actress. The only reason she has become important is because all the twits in the gay and liberal communities are acting rather like that alcoholic uncle who somehow learned about your birthday party with the open bar.

The sad thing is, that unlike relatives with unfortunate social skills, the talk show problem would go away if we'd just tune them out. Notice I didn't put down the name of this show precisely to break the cycle of paying attention to this sort of nonsense. Turn them off and they'll go away.