Friday, January 09, 2004

More Martian Madness...

It's absolutely correct to be skeptical that we (by we, I mean the good 'ol US of A) will be willing to put money into strapping a couple of folks to a rocket and sending them to Mars on the off-chance that they will return safely. It's going to cost trillions, and it's going to be pretty much a colossal waste of time. But, dammit, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.

We spend tax dollars on some pretty ridiculous nonsense (did you know Dick Cheney INSISTS on Oreos and will not tolerate the cheaper, tastier Hydrox?). We also spend billions and trillions preparing for wars which may never happen, and teaching kids who are pretty stupid, anyway. But if we can get to Mars, it will give this Leaguer hope that the human spirit of endeavour and achievement and exploration is no longer limited to seeing what's on the channels over 55 on the flipper. It will mean that we, as a people, have agreed that we are ready to spread our wings as a species and are now ready to soar among the stars. And we are ready to bring back buxom space vixens.

As much as my post from earlier indicates the very real financial benefits, really, if we have a trillion dollars, maybe we could try to feed people, or buy off Castro into retirement, or get a Cardinals team which I might pay to see. I dunno. THere's reason to be skeptical, and uses on this little blue marble for all that dough.

But a part of me wants to see the first footage broadcast by a human in a space suit, waving back to the world from that dusty red planet. Hell, let's have a bake sale. I'm sure we can find the money somewhere.

I love me the space program. I hope this is a serious effort and not just election year hoo-hah. I choose not to be cynical on this one.

The Space Program offers both a lot tangibles and intangibles to the American people. A lot of everyday technology was developed for the Space Program (microwave ovens, Tang, zero-G toilets), and a lot more will be necessary for reaching Mars and returning to the moon. The Space Program is good for businesses associated with this kind of development and construction.

Exploration and discovery offers those intagibles of national pride, excitement of discovery, and could spark the imaginations for genreations of future engineers. (My employing university is wrapped up with the current Mars expedition. We're pretty excited).

Most of all, I want to see a man walk on Mars before I'm 50, but I'll take a permanent moon colony. This could really be the beginning of a bold new era.
1) Mel has been spending his days outside lately with the fantastic Arizona winter weather. It's like lows of 50 and highs of mid-70's. He's nuts for being outside.

2) Mel received many presents for Christmas from my folks (in a doggy gift basket). He's quite insane now with too many toys to choose from. Most disturbing is the disembodied, red pig-head which squeaks when you squeeze it.

3) The phone rang at 4:00am this morning. No message was left, and the caller ID failed to identify the caller. I laid in bed for about half an hour imagining all sorts of nightmare scenarios in which someone tried to call me for assitance, but nobody called back. I was reminded of a phone number I had to change in college. It was a former FAX number. Everynight I would get 2-3 calls from FAX services. usually between 1am and 6am. It was a nightmare.

4) Busy day today. But check out Jim's insightful response to yesterday's shenanigans. Also, help us identify Zak Bennigan's.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Couple of things:

1) Randy has sent along a photo of he and Emily. THis is the same photo removed from Randy's wedding site after Emily decided that my review of Randy's demeanour was, perhaps, unkind.

After strong-arming Randy, I have obtained a link to the photo once again. Randy, in all of his insane glory, may be found here (possibly threatening Emily with a butter knife held in his left hand). Here's that pic.

2) For some reason JimD. and I decided to get into it today over the piece of crappy graphitti art on 21st and Guadalupe in Austin. While in a lot of ways, I agree with Jimbo, in other ways, I clearly do not. Unfortunately for Jim, I am right and he is wrong.

Some other guy kind of insulted me for screwing up Daniel Johnston's name. Which is fair, because, dammit, I called the man a "staple" and then got the name all botched up. Well, as long as I don't screw up my wife's name, it's all gravy. Anyway, I went and checked out a site the gentleman linked to and found a deep love of the frog. Jamie will appreciate this, even if the Cow Head Man thinks I'm a dork.
Shoemaker has sent in an ultra-late Holiday entry: The Waitress's "Merry Christmas". There's no note of explanation, but there is a link.

For those of you who submitted ON TIME, your prize is in the mail.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

sometimes I get down about how weird and kind of fruitless it is working for the state, and then I remember it's this or flipping burgers and I perk right up again.

Monday, January 05, 2004

So I finally picked up my comics from the last two weeks (which is probably the longest between trips to the shop i've been in a year, at least). And they just rebooted Superman with issue #200 of Superman. Beginning next month, Superman will have a slightly different origin. Comics are so weird.

Anyway, Superman #200 was not as bad as I had read it would be in a review. What I really dug, however, was Superman/ Batman #5. Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Ed McGuinness, this was part 5 of a 6 part story in which Lex Luthor tries to take down Superman once and for all. In this issue, Team Superman and the Batman Family enter the White House to confront president Lex Luthor. Yeah, these comics are insane.

But if you like cool art (Randy, this might include you), and lots of action, this series might be up your alley.

McGuiness's take on Hawkman is fantastic, but I think he draws all of the characters very, very well for a guy locked into a cartoony style.

I like comics, and this comic renews that affection. It's over the top, it's ridiculous, it's not particularly emotionally mature, but it's more fun than eating Rain-Blo by the handful and jumping on a trampoline.

And word on the street is that in a few months they bring back the classic version fo Supergirl in this title. Hurray!

I haven't really been at work in two weeks, and that means I've been watching an inordinate amount of television. And after having watched two weeks worth of TV, and thousands of commercials, I have one question:

What the hell is a "hemi", and why should I care?

Look, I'm no car guy. I drive a 4-cylinder, and always have. I do not feel the need to drive a V6 (except on the rare occasion after having borrowed someone else's V6), a V8 or V12, nor an 18-wheeler. I have long believed cars are a tool, and not a way to flaunt one's manhood.

A lot of people don't like SUV's for a lot of legitimate reasons. A lot of people DO like SUV's for some legitimate, and a lot of quasi-legitimate reasons. It's the quasi-legitimate reasons, the one's they now spend billions advertising to, that blow my mind.

When i was a kid, my folks bought a monstrous conversion van. It had two stereos, seated somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 and had niceties like a table one could assemble and play checkers on. Which was great for the trip to the groccery store and whereever. I would be lying if I thought we really needed the damn thing, but we had not just one... when I was 14, we got another one. THis one had a bench seat which (with the touch of a button) folded out into a bed. It also had a built in bar in the back for "tailgating" (which we never did), and a spot where a TV was supposed to be installed. We never got the TV and VCR, although we had the wiring and hook-ups, because the day we picked up the van, my mom burst into tears at the thought her children would rather watch Sanford and Son reruns than talk to her while in the car. Which i thought was kind of weird at the time.

Apparently, this isn't such a concern with today's savvy parent. Now, when toting the kids to and from soccer practice, in the half an hour a day when you could be talking to your kid, your babysitter has been provided to you. Once again, you can feel free to let the flickering box raise your kids so you can focus on the cell phone conversation you were having before you picked up the little monstrosities.

Look, I don't have kids. And I can't guarantee if I did have a kid, s/he wouldn't turn out like Jeffrey Dahmer. But I do know when you have a kid, you're supposed to pay attention to it. I don't care how tired you are from work, or who is calling your cell phone. But a part of me also knows I wouldn't do any better than anyone else, and makes me not really want to have kids... because folks, I don't want to be the guy I made fun of all these years.

My favorite thing in the commericals is seeing how happy mom and dad are... how they look to one another with loving, knowing smiles... as if to say "hear all that silence? THose little brats have been hypnotized into a stupor once again... it's so mercifully quiet, we can pretend we are once again childless."

I'm now horrified by my parents' van ownership, but I understand why folks buy huge cars when they have kids. I understand far less why my parents now own a monstrous SUV with seating for 8, but since they paid for my college, i keep it on the QT. I'm just glad they didn't own one of the vans which said "Goodtimes Van" on the back in 60's psychedelic script.

So you've turned your car into the babysitter by getting the car with seats as big as a sofa and DVD player. Now you've still got to have adventure! You're still a virile alpha-male... which means you MUST be able to take it off-road. You must climb boulders and mountains and go from 0-60 in 5 seconds (despite the fact your car weighs 10 tons). And I guess the "hemi" is the new thing to have. It must be some sort of shiny engine. It's a big 'ol honking engine Dad would have in his truck if... if he were a swinging single adventurer! He can still live out the fantasy, though, as long as it's hidden beneath the hood of the moving living room.

Poor, emasculated dad... Knowing that his "hemi" will only help him pass Monte Carlo's on the toll-road on his way to his boring office job. WAIT! Only Dad doesn't get to drive the "hemi" powered wonder car. He drives the Corrola, because Mom needs the SUV to transport the kids to go roller-skating... And the hemi is only really there because you need that kind of horsepower to keep your moving living room from stalling on every incline, anyway...

Look, I don't know why those commercials bug me so much, but they do. I know people feel as if they need these cars, the way they needed conversion vans in the 80's, then mini-vans in the mid-90's, and now Tahoes or whatever. Maybe they need these things as surely as they need beds and food for their children. I do not know. I do know, TV's in cars are dumb. But I liked the idea a heck of a lot more when they had to start passing laws stating it was illegal to watch porn on your car TV, lest everyone see your feature attraction from your rear window.

Maybe a week of watching TV did nothing good for me.
Apparently Ms. Emily took exception to my post from a few days ago regarding Randy being completely insane. The link to The Knot now sports a new picture of Homer and Marge Simpson. Randy has gone ahead and posted about Emily's reaction, and his feelings upon the whole ordeal. It is unfortunate that Emily has selected to remove the photo of she and her beau. Indeed, it was quite thrilling to see the Tjahjono's looking so blissful (even if half of them are insane).

I request that Emily reconsider, and if nothing else, find a new picture of she and her man.

Chin up, Emily. Randy is more or less a good guy, and while I am afraid for you, I believe you are more or less making the right choice. So let's see you put up that photo again lest i turn it into my year-long crusade to see that picture posted once more...

Sunday, January 04, 2004

one out of fifteen ain't bad...

I guess the Martians got sick of shooting these things out of the sky...

I have taken a great deal of time off of work. It's been pleasant. I am classified as "faculty" in my position at the University, which means I have an insane amount of vacation, which I can rarely use. But the Holidays are a perfect time for disappearing, and so I haven't been to work since December 22nd.

On Monday I must return to work, and what I would like to do is return with a new enthusiasm. Will this actually happen? Only time will tell. We're going to be going directly into one of our two "busy" periods, lasting about three to four weeks each, occuring in accordance with the spring and fall semesters.

So it's probably good I took a break.

I've watched alot of movies on DVD, I've drawn more, I tried some writing (hopefully Hustler won't turn me down this time), and I am trying to build some more furniture. I'm not very good at building at furniture, but if all 90 degree angles is your bag, I am your man.

I haven't really been unemployed since about 1996, and I kind of miss the time off. One thing university life provides is a good amount of vacation (or did at UT), so I will try in the future to make the most of the time I've been given. Watching this episode of Justice LEague, next vacation, maybe I'll make a rail gun. Looks like fun.

Anyway, next week I return to normal programming. See you then.