Friday, July 28, 2006

Steven Colbert interviews the angriest woman alive

Ladies and Gentleman, The Colbert Report's "Better Know a District" presents Eleanor Holmes Norton (D -DC):

Graffiti Research Lab

One of their videos was featured on YouTube yesterday, so once I saw it and dug into their website I had to blog about it. This, like Hackers, makes me wish I grew up in NYC.

Graffiti Research Lab claims they are dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists with open source technologies for urban communication. That, and freeing Borf.

One of their projects was the creation of throwies:

Then I read about Night Writer:

And then, cooler than cool, is Jesus 2.0:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spend (half of) your hump day in Richmond

I had class until 9:30pm on Tuesday night and had to be in Richmond at 8:00am Wednesday morning for Commonwealth Project Management training, so right after class I ran home to pack a bag and got in the car.

I had no problem getting down to Richmond and finding my hotel. The Crowne Plaza was right around the corner from the training, and I had never stayed at one before. The hotel and the room were nice (all 6 1/2 hours I was in it), but all too soon my alarm went off and I was out the door.

Training was a waste of time for the most part. There were 120 Powerpoint slides, and on slide twelve we learned that all schools that are members of VASCUPP are exempt from 2/3 of the state's IT Project Management Policy (and the other 1/3 represents 1 project every five years for us). I did meet some very nice people from Mary Washington University, and had a tasty hamburger for lunch at the Ale House just around the corner.

Not soon enough, it was 3:30pm and time to head back to my car and get on the road. Once I was outside the fan and back in 95 I figured I'd stop at the next rest area and change back into shorts and a tee. I stopped, changed, and didn't even make it out of the parking lot before I heard "THA-THUMP THUMP THUMP"...flat tire. I jacked up the car, put on the spare, but couldn't find anything wrong with the tire (sidewalls were fine, no nails or anything in the treads), still no idea what went wrong.

I got back in the car and had a text message from Joey. She knew already that I had a flat because she'd just passed me going down 95 to South Carolina and saw me putting the tire into my trunk. Very odd.

To add insult to injury, once I got off 95 in Quantico a 100 year old woman ran me off the road at a merge and forced me into a row of giant orange plastic barriers. The side of my car is covered with rubber residue, though I guess it could be worse (it could have been a guard rail).

Maybe next time I'll spend a full 24 hours in Richmond, and my car will come home in one piece.

Concert: Train

As stated previously, Michael, Jason, and I went to a recruiting event for Michael's company at Wolftrap (which was during the Train concert).

We had a little happy hour at Mr. Smith's before we got there, and on our way to get beer once we were inside Wolftrap we ran into Rita and Kevin from FELD, so most of the opening act was spent talking shop.

It was nice for Michael to invite us, and I guess a free concert is a free concert, but maybe next time it will be somebody who doesn't claim that that crowd at Wolftrap is their biggest audience ever.

And maybe next time, I won't leave sober so very far behind...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Motorcycle Ridership

To get a motorcycle license in Virginia, one either has to (1) take the written test and hold their permit for at least 30 days before taking and passing the riding test, or (2) take ridership training and pass the DMV written test. I've been pondering a motorcycle for a couple years now, so in 2006 it officially made my list of New Years resolutions. The wait to get into ridership class in Northern Virginia is almost six months, so I booked a weekend in Charlottesville, VA though the Abermarle County Community Workforce Program and made a hotel reservation.

The class is broken into several parts: there's classroom instruction Friday night with all 24 participants, then 12 people attend Saturday and Sunday morning while the other 12 attend Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Saturday and Sunday classes are spent entirely on the bikes, and with only minimal instruction everybody understood all of the instructor's range signals and were able to move in formation. I understood pretty quickly how easy it can be to raise a militia (at least if said militia was composed of eager adults who spent the entire weekend giving each other a rash of shit). All of the bikes are 250cc -- two other guys and I rode Honda Rebels:

We joked that we should get Rebel tattoos that said "250 cc" on our biceps, then roll into a biker bar and order a couple Miller Lights.

One of my classmates plays lacrosse for Duke. Two others were from the DC area (a black guy and his girlfriend) and cracked me up all weekend. Homeboy went right up to the lacrosse player at one point and said, "You seem cool, so I'm only going to say this once: I know how you Duke lacrosse players are with the sistas, so if I see you looking at my girlfriend I'll kill you motherfucker." Then smiled a huge, toothy smile and laughed.

In the end, everybody passed the riding skills exam and the written test. Our instructors were great, and everybody had great time. That said, the entire weekend was spent hearing about how expert riders who have been on bikes for decades make one small mistake and drop their bikes (or high-side, or low-side, or whatever). Personally I dropped the bike in class because I came to a complete stop and looked at my instructor.

I'm going to try and get over to DMV asap to take the written test and get licensed, but I'm going to hold off and think before I get a bike.

Concert Preparedness

Lil' Michael Wright is taking Jason and I to see Train at Wolftrap as part of his employer's "Bring a Friend" program (which is a psuedo-recruiting event).

Whatever. A free concert is a free concert. Unless it's Meatloaf. Or Wasp. Or Metallica.

It occured to me this morning that I may not be prepared, so I IM'ed Jason to discuss:

theAlphaJohn: do you know what kind of designer drugs are appropriate for a train concert? i've never been
Jason: lol
Jason: LSD always works nicely
theAlphaJohn: hrmm
theAlphaJohn: i don't think i have any of that
theAlphaJohn: can you run to 7-11 and pick some up?
Jason: i think you can make it out of the 7 year old danager dogs they keep on those rollers
theAlphaJohn: i have had some baked goods at 7-11 that made me hallucinate
theAlphaJohn: although i may have been hallucinating before i ate the baked goods
theAlphaJohn: chicken and the egg problem, like always
theAlphaJohn: will you be wearing your work attire tonight?
Jason: yes
theAlphaJohn: I think I'm going to run home and change
theAlphaJohn: because I have no one to impress
theAlphaJohn: and the kind of sweat hogs that go to see train go ga-ga over my calves ;)
Jason: ha

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Charlottesville is Odd

I can only get a wireless signal from the lobby of my hotel, and I just watched a nasty old man walk by with his hooker (and a happily opened body of wine) twice.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Concert: Ryan Cabrera

Greta was good enough to accompany me to last night's Ryan Cabrera concert at the 930 club.

I know you're wondering why I went to a Ryan Cabrera concert, but this text message conversation with Joey should clear that all up:

theAlphaJohn: The concert I'm at will be immortilized in the MySpace blogs of all 20 girls in attendance.
Joey: What concert?
theAlphaJohn: Ryan Cabrera
Joey: Why are you at a Ryan Cabrera concert?!?1
theAlphaJohn: I bought tickets like the rest of the Gilmore Girls.

This was the least attended show I have ever seen at 930 Club, I would love to know what the drop count was. That said, greta and I arrived for the second opener and didn't have to fight any of the tweens to get a beer at the bar.

Cabrera did a great set, he plowed through his entire catalog of songs (which isn't that big to begin with) and has a surprisingly solid stage presence. He does, however, have this funny mannerism when we takes a drink of his water. It's very "Ace Ventura", hard to describe.

The guy has musical talent, that's for sure. He switched guitars almost every song, and at one point he took over the drum set for a rousing finish. He excused the band and played the piano with a guest vocalist and cello player:

If he would just lose the vneck tee shirt, I'd give the concert an A.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Data Migration

Mary and I are building a web-based survey to help Desktop Support migrate people's desktops from Netware to our own AFS-based file and printer sharing architecture called MESA. To do this, we need to get information from individuals about what equipment they have and what kind of accounts they need and use.

To help validate this, I'm aggregating some HR information out of Banner so we can compare to what people enter, and I got an extract from the fixed asset system to compare what the users enter to known barcodes and equipment.

It occurs to me though that I pulled HR data out of Oracle into SQL Server, massaged it, then pumped it into MySQL. That's like taking ground sirloin, adding Spam, and frying it in coconut oil.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mason: Oh, they fixed my time ticket alright

I checked just before I left work last night, and my time ticket had finally been fixed. I thought the madness was finally over.

I registered for class this morning, and checked my account balance to find that I had been charged for Orientation twice.

You have to be fucking kidding me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mason: Time Ticket Aggrevation

One can't register for classes without a time ticket, which (among other things) allows upper classman to register earlier to ensure they get the classes that they need. I was admitted well after priority registration for current students, so the moment I accepted admission I should have been able to register for classes.

As it turns out, the reason I cannot is because the Orientation Office needs to update my student record to reflect the fact that I went to orientation in January of 2006. I called at the beginning of last week and spoke to someone who said they would fix it, then sent an email on Friday inquiring about the status. I finally just picked up the phone and was told it would be fixed tomorrow.

There are not going to be any fucking classes for me by the time this is straight.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Buzzlife says goodbye to Nation

Tonight was the final Buzz/Cubix event at Nation. After a concert on Monday night, Nation will close its doors forever.

Almost the entire crowd danced until the sun came up:

Buzzlife founder, DJ Scott Henry addresses the masses at 6:00am before spinning the final Buzz record at Nation night club:

Scott promises that Buzzlife will still be holding events here and there until next year when we meet them in their new incarnation. Rumors of a Buzzlife move to another DC club were squashed, so we'll have to keep listening to the Buzzcast until we find out what's next.

When his speech was over, Scott and two other DJs in the booth (I assume one was Joe Kopecek) spun up "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, and the booth went dark while the record played.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), Expert on both trucks and the Internet(s)

There used to be a time when undesired puppies and kittens were thrown in a burlap sack along with a brick and tossed in the river. It may be time to do the same with our (err...Alaska's) elected officials.

Last Monday, Stevens voted against Net Neutrality:
There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service is now going to go through the internet* and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.


They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

Ted, incidentally, prefers pork to tubes.

State Employees and Education Requirements

I've had four different discussions in the last week about Human Resources policies here in the state of Virginia, and the poor quality of the job descriptions that I'm seeing.

Human Resources Policy 2.10 - Hiring
Job Announcement Requirements

All job announcements must include an Equal Employment Opportunity statement and should state the scope of the position and KSA qualification requirements. All information in the job announcement must be job related. Announcements must not
specify a certain number of years of experience nor a specific educational requirement unless sanctioned by law. The following elements must be included:
  • a summary of job duties;
  • any educational qualifications required by law [my emphasis, i.e. MD required for medical boards, JD required to sit for the bar];
  • any bona fide occupational requirements (BFOQs);
  • any occupational certification or licensing required by law;
  • notification that a fingerprint-based criminal history check will be required of the finalist candidate for the position if it has been designated as sensitive under Va. Code § 2.2-1201.1;
  • notification that the selected candidate must complete a Statement of Personal Economic Interests as a
    condition of employment, if applicable (Va. Code § 2.2-3114);
  • hours of work if less than 40 per week, with a note that health benefits are available.

Job announcements also should include:
  • preferred qualifications;
  • a requirement or preference for related experience (but not specific years of experience);
  • any educational preferences not required by law, stated with a provision for substitution of equivalent applicable experience or training;
  • notice to applicants that they may be required to demonstrate the skills and abilities necessary for satisfactory performance of the work;
  • information about conditions of employment such as shift schedule, work hours, full time/part time status, restricted status, requirement for background check (for non-sensitive positions) and the extent of the back- ground check, requirement for drug testing, etc.;
  • number of positions being filled from the same applicant pool, if more than one;
  • a statement clarifying what application options if any are acceptable, such as resumes, faxes, etc.; and
  • any other information regarding the application process that would be helpful to applicants.

Proving yet again that our Human Resources department, like most, is as bad as my spelling.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

ECON showmanship

Tonight, Cameron Manheim will also play the part of our gym class hero.

The end is near...

Online Tickets are sold out for the Buzz closing party at Nation, only a limited number will be available at the door.

Or so they tell us...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mitsubishi builds one-of-a-kind "Princess Kitty" edition

Autoblog is carrying this article about the "Princess Kitty"/Hello Kitty edition of the Mitsubishi i:

Well, Mitsubishi has done it. They have created the most quintessentially Japanese car ... EVER.

We bring you, dear Autoblog readers, the Mitsubishi i "Princess Kitty" Hello Kitty limited edition. And by limited, we mean one.

The Princess Kitty is finished in pink, with matching paint applied to the wheels. The Hello Kitty trademark ribbon logo is applied to the front doors and roof, while the rear doors get a "Princess Kitty" graphic with the lovable cartoon character's face. The back window also gets a large Hello Kitty face decal. The sideview mirrors feature Hello Kitty's face in relief.

I sent an email to Andrew, George, and Trevin about it and this is how it went:

Alpha John: [sends link]
Trevin: My'''s hideous!! You monsters!! ;)
Andrew: sigh. i might have to quit.
Alpha John: I think you should call your corporate rep and tell him you want that as your demo. But you must start the call with "Konichiwa!"
Andrew: well, i have a dealer council meeting on the 20th, so perhaps i'll just bring that up.
George: if you get that in, i am ON THE WAY.
Trevin: George, I think I could die happy if I had a photo of you behind the wheel of a hello kitty auto. ;)

All I have to say is:

ECON: Timing Makes the Douche

Our classroom has theatre seating, and I sit one row from the back. Christine, who always checks me in at the Aquatic Center, sits right behind me. She is fast becoming my partner in disgust (though I'm recruiting Todd from the other side of the room).

Last night, Christine was talking to a couple of girls I didn't notice on Saturday, then again I really don't pay much attention. One of the girls (Cora as I found out later) had mistaken the time and showed up after class was over, so she was trying to get the low-down on what she missed from Christine.

Christine left at 8:00pm to meet her math tutor, and just a couple minutes later Alpha Dumb Bitch starts in about how she's irked that our professor isn't teaching the techniques for this particular model exactly like the book, and asked(in her testy bitch tone) "which way should we be using -- your way or the book's way"?? I turned around to the girls behind me and said, "There are two people in this class that I despise, and that is one of them." I can only imagine the douche chills I gave them when I said it, because I'm a seething dick-face.

Not thirty seconds later, in the most opportune of comedic timing, Cameron Manheim dumped her entire bag of snacks all over the front row of the class, and our professor had to actually help her pick up her snacks. I turned right around to the girls and sneered, "and that is the other".

Oracle's Corportate Time is the biggest piece of shit-software I've ever used

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Texting Blogger from ECON

Cameron Manheim just dumped all her snacks out on the floor.

Supply Side Shock

I knew in the back of mind that this was coming, but I had no idea it would be so soon:

President Reagan negotiated a "voluntary" import quota on Japanese cars sold in the United States during the 1980s. Some of his advisors had recommended that he impose a higher import tax (tariff) instead. Assuming the tariff was in the form of a constant tax T per Japanese car sold in the United States and that T was chosen to produce the same quantity reduction as the quota, how will the prices paid for Japanese cars by U.S. consumers compare under the two policies?

I hate Reagan. I hate his Building, I hate his library, I hate his airport, and now I hate this textbook. Hate hate hate.

I despise head hunters

Why must you find my resume, beg me to call you (an email last night, a voice mail this morning), then waiver on whether I might or might not be a match for your shitty contract job on the other side of the Potomac?

Go fuck yourself.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Opie & Anthony: Jim Norton as "Frank the Frowner"

Comedian Jim Norton, third mic on the Opie & Anthony show and star of HBO's Luckie Louie has created a new character for the show named Frank the Frowner. Frank likes to tell people that it takes more muscles to to frown that it does to smile, and usually sprinkles in a situation where he learned that.

Frank interviews people on the walk over to XM:

I'm having trouble finding a collection of FtF quotes, the only ones I know off the top of my head are: "Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile?..."
  • I learned that from my Uncle while he was using my mouth as a pocket pussy.
  • I learned that from my babysitter who used to molest me.
  • I read that on a bathroom wall while I was serving a negro through a gloryhole.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

College's Dumb Pageant

I was able to sneak into the last Summer session ("C Term") to try and get one class done before the Fall semester starts. Since Micro Economics is a prereq for just about everything the School of Management has to offer, I decided that was where I should devote my four weeks (Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings).

If you know me, you know I've been in college for about ten years now. Just about every class I've taken has someone who fills a required role (Returning-Adult Answerbot, Stupid Question Asker, Disinterested Napper, and Lady Lunchtime). School generally follows the same concept as The Real World: all personality-types must be represented, all serious students must be annoyed.

My Econ class has a much more ecclectic mix that I'm used to. First of all, it has the highest percentage of hot girls I've ever had in a class (goodbye Computer Science, hello School of Management).

The characters this go-round are much more animated though. I didn't expect TV's Cameron Manheim to play the over-compensating Returning Adult Student, complete with giant purse and equally giant beach bag full of snacks.

Also sitting in the front row is a girl I have knicknamed "Alpha Dumb Bitch". Have you ever seen that gaggle of dumb bitches sitting around and squawking out nonsense, and one is clearly the boss of them all? Yeah, she and her caucasian updo are in my class. I'm sure you're thinking, "Wow Alpha John, you and Alpha Dumb Bitch could make adorable Alpha Babies together", but I'm pretty sure she'd end up like Lacie Peterson and I'd be sharing a cell with Scott when all was said and done. Anyway, ADB (and Cameron Manheim for that matter) like to ask unrelated questions to prove their intelligence.

Before I share my anecdote about Saturday's class, let me tell you about our professor. He's Hispanic, probably late 20s early 30s, I'm guessing he's a PHD student, and English is not his first language. He clearly knows the material, and while he doesn't use the best examples to illustrate the model he's discussing at that very moment, if you've done the reading ahead of time (as dictated by the syllabus) you have no problem following the lecture. He tries to keep the lecture upbeat, definately not a snoozer, so maybe not the best professor I've had but probably in the top third.

In our lecture on Saturday, we discussed the idea of price ceilings (i.e. rent control) and price floors (i.e. government declaring the minimum price for things like crops) and he's taking us through the model for each. During the discussion on price ceilings, Cameron Manheim feels she needs to reinforce his teaching with a not-so-related example even though we were just exploring the model. It wasn't as though the room was lost, but she felt she needed to help everyone understand, and I fucking hate when people do that. I have only done that once or twice in a Comp Sci class when the professor couldn't make people understand his point and was finishing for an example, but I certainly didn't take over the room because I felt he didn't explain it well enough.

One of the key discussion points for price floors is that the government sets the price (this was typically done with agribusiness) and guarantees they will buy any surplus. About five minutes later, when we were going through the model, Alpha Dumb Bitch decides to drop some science about how the Government used to pay farmers during WWII not to grow anything on their land. While she glowed that she knew some Social Studies that he didn't, I was like "bitch...that's not a price floor". He took another minute or two to wrap up the model, and then Alpha Dumb Bitch asks, "Can you give an example of anytime when the government instituted economic policy and it like actually worked?" and Cameron Manheim actually cut him off mid-answer to give her example. The front row was a flurry of stupid, and in the mean time our Professor stood at the front of the room, frozen (like a sitcom "freeze frame" where the actors all hold still) for a good 15 seconds and then just kept on going. We all looked at each other and were like "what just happened?".

The highlight of Saturday's class, however, was sitting in front of a girl (a SAG actually) who smelled like she murdered a Bath & Body Works on the way to class. When she sat down, a Pig Pen cloud of artificial fruit scents knocked me out of my chair. What was really hot though was the Layne Bryant spaghetti strap tank top she wore on her oh-so-dumpy body, and the quartet of zits bursting forth from her backfat. Utter hotness.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

An Afternoon of Squat-Mammals

As George calls them.

Visited the Fairfax County and Loudon County shelters this morning and checked out some puppies. The shelter is kind of heart breaking, I'm sure I'm not the only person who things that. I think seeing all those puppies and kitties living like that makes anyone want to buy a 100 acre farm and adopt all of them.

The most hopeful candidate for Saturday was a boy named Howdy:

Howdy is adorable, already adopted, and a total spaz. I helped a volunteer get a leash on him (in that picture, it looks like he's being held, but he's actually being held down), and when he walked by the other cages every dog in the place barked at him. Not a single Howdy fan in the room.

The surprising favorite was a little girl named Charlene. She is a doberman-mix, but she's is the perfect light shade of brown with brown eyes. She has one of the most beautiful coats I've ever seen, and she was so low key and loving. Sadly, also adopted (and the picture doesn't do her justice):

If she wasn't adopted already I probably would have taken her home. What a little sweet-face.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I have a class schedule

For fucking real.

It is about damn time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Long Weekend, Long Hump Day

Above: two UPS trucks attempt their own kind of clandestine hump day activity

It's been a few days, and your feed burners have been quiet, so I guess I should post a little update before I get back to my workday (already in progress).

I attended a happy hour last Thursday for Lisa's last day at FELD as well as Jennifer's last days in Virginia. Lisa took a job at BAH and Jennifer and Justin are moving to their beautiful new home in NC.

I spent some time working on the house this weekend. I bought (what I think is) the rest of the molding for the living room and family room. Mike helped me put the handles on the french doors, so I guess they are officially done. We actually spent a fair amount of time together this weekend -- his wife is out of town for a few weeks, and we split time between working on his house (I hate painting) and my place. Since I've been talking about puppies for weeks, we made a few unsuccessful attempts to go look at puppies. One attempt was foiled by July 4th traffic, and two others (the Fairfax and Loudon shelters) turned out to be closed on Monday. I suspect the universe is keeping from me puppies for some reason (perhaps I am their messiah, or perhaps the entire puppy race is afraid of me?).

On Cory's recommendation, I checked out Urban Retreat in Reston this weekend. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but there may finally be furniture in my future. Now if I can just get my color samples, measurements, and favorite cousin to take a trip there with me we'll be all set. ;)

I got turned on to the Buzzlife Buzzcast from a handout I snagged leaving Starscape this year. Something from the Buzzlife archives is added every week, and so far I've been very impressed. From that, I have also started listening to DJ Jon Carpenter's podcast, which is a collection of older mixes he was involved in. The mix I'm listening to now (2Rip VS. Jon Carpenter @ Wednesday Night Mayhem) has everything from Sublime to DJ Icey in it.

School is definitely heading in the right direction, though not quite where I'd like it. There was an issue regarding admission to Mason and having to wait for my transcript from NVCC which had my degree posted to it which has been taken care of. Admissions has agreed to accept and re-eval my NVCC transcript once the degree is posted. I was hoping to get a time ticket to register for this last summer session (which started this morning), but apparently everyone in the Registrar's office is on vacation. I'm looking at a CLEP exam to get out of one class I need, if I can't get into summer session I may study for that and get it done before August.

Yesterday, freak weather swept through our area for about 10 minutes. Local trees still in shock, residents thoroughly apathetic: