Sunday, February 25, 2007

dealing with thugs senior citizen style

This gives a whole new meaning to going "old school" on somebody. Talk about a rough day for those muggers. I mean, if you're a Costa Rican dude who wants loads of cash for little effort, then a tourist bus full of seniors from the U.S. should be a safe bet, right? Well, not so much. Anyone thinking of robbing an old guy at gunpoint would be wise to read this article first:

Tourist Kills Mugger With Bare Hands
Suddenly, one of the tourists, a U.S. military veteran trained in self defense, jumped out of the van and put the gunman in a headlock...the American, whom [the police chief] refused to identify, struggled with the robber, breaking his collarbone and eventually killing him.
That's what I'm talkin' about! To heck with just fending them off, why not deal with the problem once and for all, and even put on a demonstration for any shady fellas watching? I'd give almost anything to witness something like that first-hand. A punk freaks everyone out by holding up a bus, then some grey-haired guy bursts onto the scene from nowhere and opens up a huge can of whoopa$$ on the unfortunate assailant...priceless. Talk about picking the wrong bus at the wrong time. Just thinking of this has me laughing.

It's worth noting that the guy was obviously from the days before the kinder, gentler military we have now. He met a cowardly act with deadly force and left no questions. He saw a problem and he dealt with it, simple as that. You know, maybe we could call up a few of these guys who know how to get the job done and send them to the Middle East to punish some evildoers. Why not?

Elderly or not, the guy sets a good example for people everywhere to follow. If somebody (or some nation) wants to play rough, then serve it back to 'em!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

pure gold

Just read the last bit of Exodus as part of one of those one-year Bible reading plans.* One thing that jumped out to even an OT novice like myself is how many times toward the end of the book it refers to various objects being made of "pure gold". Gold being a rather weak and nonmalleable metal, this strikes me as odd. How could they have made all those ornaments and such out of "pure gold" and had them last or even take shape in the first place? I'm sure they could have melted it to form the right shapes, but even then I wouldn't have thought it'd be strong enough to hold up and keep its form without breaking. We're talking stuff like rings and lampstands that would have been intricate and yet strong enough to hold up such things as curtains -- or in the case of a lampstand, hold itself up without breaking apart.

In the same passages, though, God tells them to overlay other things like wood poles with gold. So he was particular enough to spell out exact and differing requirements for each piece, and he wouldn't have commanded something that was impossible to do or create. So I guess one must conclude that the gold stuff was strong enough, or else come up with some theory as to what "pure gold" really means or how that gold was somehow special or different. I don't have any such theories in mind and that strikes me as shoddy, interpret-the-Bible-by-what-we-already-know exegesis anyway. So the former it is.

Oh learn something new every day I suppose. I still think it's bizarre though.

* I wanted to start at the beginning of the year, as I do at the beginning of every year, and I was as successful this year as I have been for about the last eight. But a couple of weeks ago I found a reading schedule that does the Bible in chronological order and figured that'd be a good way to try it. And I already have a Narrated Bible that's arranged in chronological order and is easier to read large chunks of than a normal one. (Unfortunately, the schedule is laid out differently than my Narrated Bible, which confuses and slightly annoys me.) One of the consequences of starting late is that I picked up in Exodus 32 and haven't gone back to cover the other stuff (Job, Genesis, most of Exodus) yet. And so I lack some context for the latter part of Exodus.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

quote of the week

This one deserves a post of its own:
...carrying flowers or some other sacrifice to avert the wrath of the women in their life...
That's bleepin' great. Thanks Nate, funniest thing I've read in days. (And with some of the emails flying around at work, that's not an empty statement.) And yet so true. That's basically what it boils down to. Women have been programmed to expect some token gesture of effort on the part of the man, and men have been programmed to think they need perform a "special" rite on this day, as if it's somehow different than any other day or worthy of its own special treatment for falling on the 14th of February. And this whole game is held up as some kind of cardinal law that everyone mustn't dare fall short of. A sham, I tell ya! But at least it seems that Marisa doesn't seem to take it too seriously either (or you're dead, one of the two, and I like my chances with the former), which buys yet more respect points from me. Tell her to start spreading some of that wisdom around, will ye? Heck, it's got to start somewhere...wait, I'm approaching a topic I promised myself I'd shut up about for a while.
Why don't women think this holiday is degrading?
You know, that's a good question. I've wondered that for a long time myself. It seems that if someone is actually pleased by some expected ritualistic display of affection that has no spontaneity or deep meaning, their expectations are so low or they're being disrespected so much the rest of the time that such would indicate deeper issues. It's a shame I didn't read this earlier this evening or I'd have thrown it out to be answered at Crossroads. And some of them are plenty materialistic to take great umbrage to my boldness and straightforwardness in actually saying something like that, so it might have been not only informative but also exciting and funny (not sure "funny" is the word I'm looking for but it'll work) as well. It surely would have sparked a discussion, and I don't figure I have much of a "rep" in that crowd anyway so personal damage wouldn't have been a concern. Alas, an opportunity missed...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the dumbest holiday of the year

As long as I'm blogging, let me set the record straight on something. For as long as I can remember, I've claimed that Valentine's Day is the stupidest, most pointless holiday celebrated in America. I mean, it's totally commercially-driven and does a very poor job of masquerading as anything meaningful (even when love is mentioned it's almost always in the context of a dinner out or jewelry or something), and it doesn't cause us to ponder any significant events in history. It's as if people wanted a holiday in the middle of winter so they'd have a reason to get excited and spend money, and what better way to go about that than play to the emotions?

However, it's ironic that I should post this on Valentine's Day because I must correct myself. I've put some thought into it and concluded that this day isn't so bad. Yeah, it causes all the restaurants to clog up, but I rarely eat out anymore anyway so that's not a big deal. It results in lots of bothersome mushy commercials and ads and stuff, but I never watch TV anymore and only do minimal shopping in the first place so that's not too bad either. It can cause some annoying chatter and overdone drama and similar crap, but that dynamic hasn't been too noticeable this time around. And on top of all that, Valentine's Day candy is awesome and it always goes on sale the day after, so I get a welcome chance to splurge and score some unhealthy stuff that I otherwise wouldn't plunk down money on. So overall it's not so bad and even presents some opportunities.

By my criteria of ranking holidays in dumbness (commercialism, negative interference with my life, lack of historical significance), I think Labor Day takes the cake. We celebrate work by giving people an excuse to not work? Whatever. It's not like there aren't any other off-days during the year. And there are certainly plenty of other days worthy of time off to celebrate and remember someone or something of historical significance. There are also plenty of better excuses to just take a day off for no other reason. So even though I get Labor Day off, I don't think it's really a meaningful holiday as much as an excuse to slap a holiday in the middle of a chunk of calendar space otherwise devoid of them.

That's cute and all, but I'd rather just have another vacation day. Come to think of it, that applies to every holiday I'm off for. A few more days of vacation time to use anywhere in the year would do me wonders right about now.

dan hawkins rocks

Add another item to the list of great sports rants of all time. In response to an anonymous letter from a parent (more on that in a bit), Hawkins snapped and delivered what can only be called a classic rant. It's not on the level of the thundering Bobby Knight's Purdue speech, but I'd say it's up there with the unforgettable outbursts from Jim Mora and Herm Edwards.

And, as both Mora and Edwards were, Hawkins is right. He's trying to turn around a Division I football program in a tough conference, and his guys are whining about how much time off they get in the summer? Wow. You're getting a free ride from the school and a chance to play the game you love at a big-time level, and you probably don't even have to show up to classes because you've got five tutors making sure you pass exams you don't even know about, and you're moaning about not getting that third week off to begin the summer. Freakin' pathetic. Well, fellas, I hate to break it to you, but if you don't land a pro football career then you'll be lucky to get three weeks off in a year. And with your work ethic, you'd better get used to surviving in the real world because you have less than a snowball's chance in hell of getting to the NFL.

Yeah, and about that parent's letter. Just thinking about that ticks me off and I'm not even remotely close to the situation. I don't know if the kid put his parent up to it or not, but if he did then that would make them both that much more pathetic, the kid for getting someone else to do his dirty work and the parent for letting an obviously immature kid call the shots. I'll assume it was the parent acting out of "concern". How the heck can that jerk not avoid meddling in something that is very clearly not his/her business and not see that such meddling is only going to bring about huge trouble? Amazing...wait, this is 21st century America so such behavior is no longer extraordinary. What a fool. I'll say straight out -- and I can say it because I know y'all read this -- that if either of my parents jumped in the middle of my life and did something that incredibly stupid and disrespectful they would have not heard from me for a long, long time. Thankfully that never happened. To that extent. That I'm aware of.

After hearing that, Dan Hawkins is a guy I'd play for if given the chance. He's there to mold players into winners, not coach down to their level. Isn't the point of a coach to raise the level of his players, both as athletes and as adults? Of course. If not then why the heck is he coaching? And I think much more highly of Hawkins for going off like that. Now I can't say I'd have liked it so much when I was fresh out of high school, and given my inability to tolerate NROTC I most certainly wouldn't have, but that's another difference age makes I guess. And that's where mentors like coaches -- real coaches like Dan Hawkins -- fill the gap.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

damn that rex grossman

That's about all I have to say about the Stupid Bowl right now. I hate to say I told you so, but I am proud that I'm one of the many who never drank the "Rex will turn it around and start playing well" kool-aid. That guy has sucked since the day he graduated from Florida, and a flurry of non-mediocreness against a weak schedule early this season didn't change that. The Bears desperately needed someone to just manage the offense and not try to do anything superhuman, and Grossman is not that kind of player. Such a QB could have turned the ball over less and at least kept the game interesting and gave the Bears defense the chance to be the deciding factor. Alas...I guess I'll wait another 21 years for Chicago to make it back to a Stupid Bowl. And maybe by then they'll have figured out that Florida QB's aren't championship material after they leave college.

my next job?

Just got an email from a friend I work with about a unique engineering opportunity. (He still gets stuff every now and then from listings he signed up for a few years back.) It's not exactly my engineering specialty but I'm confident someone with my focus would also be in demand for similar positions.

Check this out... A one-year contract position (read: no benefits like retirement plans, health insurance, etc.). Working off the coast of Russia (obscure foreign location, check). Typical work day of 12-14 hours (read: 14+ hours). Typical work week of 80-90 hours (read: 90+ hours and you're too stressed out and exhausted to do anything at all during your miniscule amount of time off). Work environment = oil platforms and refineries; I briefly looked into that some years back and engineering doesn't get much rougher. Sounds great, eh?

Well, not quite. Until one reads the other half of the story. Salary of $120-145k (that's one hundred twenty thousand dollars a year, folks -- not small change), possibly tax-free depending on some overseas income rules I know nothing about. Not too shabby, but it gets better. Four weeks on, four weeks off, of which two to four off-days will be paid travel days between the work site and your home. So that's paid travel time, far too many airline miles to count (read: free personal-use tickets almost at will), and huge chunks of time off such that you never get too bored at home and no matter how bad it gets you always know some time off is within sight. [Borat voice] Very nice!

I mean, HFS. That's what I'm in this for. To heck with this normal work schedule crap, I've been saying for years I want a job that lets me go nuts for a while and then take a while off. Well, voila. And at $120k? Are they kidding? Suddenly that PE license exam looks eons away from now. If only there were a fast-forward button for life.

There's a bit more to it than that. If there's one thing about engineering I've learned, it's that it isn't a glamorous, high-paying, sought-after career field. It's the last market I'd expect to find a something-for-nothing deal in. In other words, no company dangles a carrot that huge for nothing. I'm sure that's a HARD job that will completely beat the crap out of anyone who takes it. And it'd be hard to really lead much of a consistent life over here and keep up with friends and such when you're gone most of the time. One's spiritual walk would get stronger in some ways -- tough circumstances have a way of bringing that about -- but would suffer in other ways, in areas like close relationships and ongoing involvement in...well, pretty much anything.

But do the math here. Assuming something close to worst case, we have four weeks of hell (which would get less hellish as one got used to it or at least numb to it), a week to wind down and catch up on rest, and a week of dreading having to go back to work. That still leaves two weeks in the middle to chill and do squat, or travel around, or hang out with friends, or whatever. And at 120 G's, savings and trip finances would work themselves out just fine. From where I'm sitting, that adds up nicely. Jesse wins.

I suppose for now I just need to stay put and keep my sights on doing every freaking thing I can to make damn sure I pass the PE exam next fall. And a job like that leaves no room for on-the-job training so I'd better have some knowledge of what I'm doing before I jump in over my head. For all I know, those types may only be interested in people with several years of related experience. (Then again, given the wacky schedule and travel requirements, they're probably taking in a lot of young, single, adventure-thirsty folks like myself.) So, first things first I guess.

But it's sure as heck nice to see some potential light at the end of the tunnel. The kind of job I want and am convinced would satisfy me is out there, and surprisingly accessible from what I can tell. Even if this isn't it, it's got enough in common with The Perfect Job that one can dream and know that there's a little bit of reality mixed in there. It's at least worth keeping in mind if for no other reason than as proof that the work/life balance I've been chasing is at least possible.