Friday, February 25, 2005

My arm's off; quick: grab a band-aid!

So I work in some crack-whore's dream...

Three years ago, it was decided that our work-area needed a renovation. So they shipped us off to the 4 corners of the facility and began a wonderous year-long do-over. We were excited to come back and find neatly arranged cubes of relaxing colors and more space than we'd had before. It didn't take long for the happiness to wear off, though, when we discovered the one element that had been utterly ignored: the bathrooms.

We have a 2 stall, 3 urinal men's room that serves our cube-farm and the cafeteria. That bathroom sees a lot of traffic through the day, and not all of it is friendly. Yet there's something very important that's missing from our bathroom. VENTILATION. Yup, there's no ventilation. At all. Period. Heck, there's not even A/C, but at least it's insulated by the building and surrounding areas.

But, my God, the stench. Oh, and of course, when it's cold outside, the heat is on. So: the heated stench! There are times when I challenge myself to hold my breath long enough to use the bathroom, wash my hands, and flee. Of course, I've never made it, and that raspy gasp I finally have to take is just that much more brutal because of Jim's dis-agreeable Mexican tamale-fest.

Ah, but there's an option. There's another bathroom in the next cube-farm! Joy? Oh, no... This stellar feat of engineering is in a hallway that lacks any sort of temperature control. Apparently the stuff in this cube-farm is sensitive, so "they" bricked-in the cube-farm and left the hallway un-regulated. Neat trick. Then, add to that the 4 8'-tall windows in the men's room (that are always wide-open after Jim's tamale-fest-gone-bad), and you get a really neat environment: average bathroom temperatures below 40 in the winter, and your butt stuck to the seat in the hot & humid summer.

Now, before I get all excited, it's important to note that the engineers have tried to address the issue: they put a giant hair-dryer in the hallway to blow hot air around. Of course, the bathroom door is solid-core, so there's no help there. Ah, but wait! Just this week the engineers apparently found a pair of frozen testicles on the bathroom floor, because they came back and put a smaller giant hair-dryer in the bathrooms. Now the temperature's up, and winter-time in the bathroom is not a terrifying concept.

I was so excited to see that heater go up. Until I realized what a typical bureaucratic solution had been implemented. My ass will still get stuck to the seat in the summer. There will still be 100% humidity and 95-degree temperatures in the bathroom, and my choice will be between horrid stench of one bathroom and sweltering heat in the other. And that's how your government works: treat the symptoms, never the disease. I can't even begin to imagine how much those damn heaters cost to run per day. They're inducing a high current over a high-resistance wire, and blowing out the resultant heat with an enormous fan. Given that the average hair-dryer can blow fuses at 1600W, I figure we're probably doing at least 10x that figure, and probably much much more.

I wonder how much it would have cost to put a cheap A/C on the roof, and run enough venting for the hallway and two bathrooms.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Why does everything in life require a title or a subject?

So the weather was great for yesterday's excursion. A tiny bit chilly, at times, but generally great. And the company, well that was just awesome.

We got off to a good start yesterday by hitting Riverside Drive at break-neck speeds. That road is just so much fun. Amanda was really clinging to the inside of the car, and the back-end only broke loose once. I think I took some of the turns faster than with Dad & Chris, but I'm not sure. One thing's for sure, though: the rear-end needs some serious camber adjustment if I'm going to keep whipping around curves like that.


So we went to our friends's coffeeshop (Crossroads on Forest Hill) for some fabulous coffee, and to give Olivia her goodies that we picked up for her in New Orleans (in November - we could never seem to remember to take the stuff to her).

Then we headed down Rte 5 to the 'Burg, tooled around CW for a bit, and met Shana for lunch at the Cheese Shop. I love the Cheese Shop. I think I've probably had lunch there almost every time we've gone down, but we stood waiting for our food for 40+ minutes. We absorbed Shana's entire lunch break just waiting for our food. Phone-ins from now on...

Next came shopping. Women be shopping! Well, when outlets are involved, Adrian be shopping, too. Egads I love the outlets in W'burg! First I cleaned up at Guess, then Van Heusen (3 shirts and a pair of pants for under $75), then Wilson's, where I got a new leather jacket for less than $40. Damn I love the outlets. We even found a new fixture for the downstairs bathroom for $10.

Finally, because all great days must draw to a close, we went back to one of our favorite college haunts. La Tolteca. You know, sometimes you remember something fondly because you enjoyed it at the time, but when you go back and try it again, it's awful. I'm always afraid of doing that, but the 'Tec doesn't disappoint. I don't think there's a Mexican restaurant in Richmond that can touch the variety of options or quality of food that La Tolteca has. That place just plain rocks!

More twisty drivin' up Rte 5 to 295 north, and home we came.

What a great day. I love to spend time with my wife. She's such an inspiration to me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Front Sway-bar goes on tomorrow!

I'm excited. Man I'm jazzed. I'm getting my front sway-bar installed tomorrow, and probably my wheels, too. I can't wait to get rid of the front-end mushiness that's developed since installing the rear-bar. I also can't wait to get a wider stripe of rubber on the road. I just really hope the weather's nice on Monday for our trip to Williamsburg!

(BACKSTORY)Amanda and I met in Williamsburg, when we were both sophomores at William & Mary. Our relationship developed over three years of secondary education, and we both have a very soft spot in our hearts for our beloved little college town. We take every opportunity to head down there, both for the outlet malls (Le Creuset outlet! Can I get an "amen"?!) and for the colonial goodness. We still have a couple of friends down there, too. It's a beautiful and wonderful little town. Go there or you suck.(/BACKSTORY)

So Amanda made me one hell of a meal for Valentine's Day. She cooked up cornish game hens, laid them on a bed of orzo, and prepared a spicy broccoli-with-orange-zest dish to go with it. Everything was absolutely perfect, right down to the dark chocolate homemade pudding for dessert. Yum! For her efforts, she was rewarded with Ice Bat and Emily the Strange cards. Big hits, both. Amanda also gave me a really neat river-stone from Haiti that had been carved into a heart. I'm not sure, but I think that woman loves me. I know I love her.

Egads it's beautiful outside. I wanna go play.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Holy s*** that's loud!

No, not Richard's new Borla exhaust: the Springfield Armory 1911-A1 GI .45.

What a weekend. I delved into my inner redneck and pulled from the depths the basest and most animal feelings I've ever known. It all started on Friday night with the installation of a rear sway-bar on the MINI. Chris K. had me wrenching on the car, crawling around underneath, and cranking down with herculean torque. Then we went back to their house and slammed the booze while being groped by a 90lb doberman.

Of course, that wasn't enough for me. I needed more! So I went back on Saturday to tackle the front sway-bar, an oil change, and the oh-so-complicated installation of a new rear wiper blade (which, of course, I screwed up and broke --I rule!). I was so impressed with myself. I wanted the installation of the sway-bar to go quickly, so I yanked off the wheels, hopped under the car, and dropped the front sub-frame all by myself (with the exception of the lower engine-mount). Man, what a rush. At one point, I realized that the part I was lowering was the part right above my pelvis. (Um, hmmm, yeah...I'm not too comfortable with the notion of 1400lb falling on my crotch. Somehow I don't think that would feel very good.) So I moved around to the other side and kept cranking. I was having a great time until we discovered we needed a tool that we didn't have. So Mark ran to Lowe's and Chris and I started on the oil-change.


Don't you do it, either. Those apes tightened my oil-filter housing down to OVER 110 foot-pounds of torque. The frickin' thing has "18 foot pounds / 25NM" stamped into the metal. Chris had to put a jack-handle over a breaker bar and unleash a string of profanity to break the thing free. Of course, he also had to give a blood sacrifice (sorry, Chris!).

Then, when Mark came back with the Torx wrenches, I promptly rounded the head of the first bolt. Unfazed, I moved on to trying the sway-bar bushings. With no way to put a breaker bar on them, I just couldn't get the thing to budge. Chris tried: nothing. So, time to consult the manual. 122 foot pounds!!!!! Nope. Not today. So we put the car back together and headed over to Richard's house.


So Sunday we went out to Montpelier with Chris S and his wife to shoot. What a rush. We were unloading a .22 Ruger Mark 2, a S&W .38 Special, a Rohm .38 Special, a Browning BDA .380, a Beretta .40, a Springfield Armory 1911-A1 G1 .45, and Chris's .50 black-powder rifle. Amanda and I took some pictures. I've never felt like a Michigan Militia member before, but this was really something. Some of the guns were really fun to shoot, and some were work. Chris had told me to fire exactly one shot from the .45 without hearing protection, just so that I would know what to expect if I ever used it for home defense. Oh...My...God. I have no idea where that bullet went; I was too busy ducking from the sound of that thing. Jeez. The whole world went completely silent for about 5 seconds, and I felt like someone had punched me in the ear. I've played in a very loud band, been to airshows, and generally engaged in very loud activities in my life, but nothing has ever shaken the world like the sound of that gun.

I can't wait to shoot it again.

Happy Valentine's Day! Yeehaw!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sometimes this state just flat sucks. (Or, as fark would say: Virginia, having solved all other crimes...)

So I read a little while ago that the General Ass-embly voted to approve a measure whereby "Any person who, while in a public place, intentionally wears and displays his below-waist undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts, in a lewd or indecent manner, shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $50." So I've decided that, to celebrate properly, I'm going to wear clean underwear on my head. I can't decide between boxers and briefs, but I think it would be fun to be fined $50 for having undergarments on my head. What a frickin' crock!

Who gets the right to determine a legal dress-code? Is it now against the law to check the mail in boxer-shorts? Who determines "lewd or indecent"? Is the plumber a law-breaker, or does he get away with it because he's in my house? Why isn't it a crime for a woman to walk around in a bra? I swear, people, if you're trying to crack down on gangs, then crack down on gangs. Underwear doesn't kill people: people kill people!

Furthermore, these people who've just become Virginia's Most Wanted will probably look back in a year or two and wonder why they participated in such an absurd fashion. I mean, really, how many of us still think it's cool to tie a flannel shirt around our waists and wear acid-washed jeans? It was a fad, and fads come and go. Fads don't require legislation.

This absurdity reminds me of an article I read last year about a school district banning the color pink. Pink. WTF? Pink was very "in" last year, but some adminstrator feared that pink was a gang color, so they made national headlines by swinging the hammer of justice. Um, yeah... I think I'll start a hard-core gang of thugs, and I'll use pink as our color. Maybe I'll design a cute little hard-core death-row flag that features a pink field with a teddy bear. But now I have to make sure that I provide clean, hard-core bone-thug underwear for my members to wear over their pants.


Dirty Forehead Day!

So today's Dirty Forehead Day. Terribly offensive, I know, but in college I had no idea what this was all about. I think I'd gotten through about 3 years before I started to realize that this was an annual event. Ah, the sheltered life you can lead simply by staying in one city your whole life...

Obviously, by that confession, I'm not Catholic. Not being Catholic, however, doesn't mean I don't enjoy some of their traditions, nor the traditions of other denominations. Amanda made pancakes last night for "Shrove Tuesday", the Episcopal version of Mardi Gras. The MINI wore her mask yesterday in commemoration of Mardi Gras, and, de rigueur, I had a beer and thought nostalgically of New Orleans. Man I gotta go back.

So the MINI's getting her new wheels spiffed up today. I think I'll be a total geek and photo-document the whole thing. I just can't decide what color to have them painted. Silver? Anthracite? Not a huge number of choices, but an important choice, just the same. I mean, would you consider wearing black shoes with a brown belt? Or even with a brown shirt and khakis? (Actually, I work with some folks who do...) These wheels are her new shoes, and they have to respect the tastefulness of the rest of the car. I like the original anthracite of the SSR's, but I just don't know if that's too "sporty" for my car. Yeah, she wants sporty, but in a very subtle manner.

I'm very excited: I get to start a new drug today (or whenever I actually get to the pharmacy). I ran out of VIOXX (death to you "consumer-protection" advocates who laud its removal from the market!), and now I get to start something called "Daypro". Why don't pain-killers have fun names like "Happydan" or "Fukitol"? Why is that reserved for heart-burn and allergy medication? Dammit, I'm taking drugs to deal with chronic pain, I expect a fun and infinitely marketable name! Bring me my Gigglenol or Cuddleen. "Ask your doctor about Exuberan!"

Monday, February 07, 2005


So Amanda and I became art supporters over the weekend.  Not that I've ever had anything against art -- I grew up surrounded by it.  But I've never really held an appreciation for the intrinsic value of art.  We went down to this festive little monthly event called First Fridays.  It's a really cool demonstration of the revitalization of Downtown Richmond and the local support of the artist community.  It's also the bread & butter of local artists.

Basically, you just walk up and down Broad Street from one art gallery to the next.  There are exhibits of all forms of art, and it's nowhere near as snooty as I had feared it might be.

We saw some fantastic stuff, most of which was priced for display in the Louvre.  We also saw some disappointing pieces, many of which were similarly priced.  But there was this one little gallery -- really a hole in the wall -- where our weekend got up-ended.  We wandered in with the Kimmelshues (who informed us of this groovy little event) and saw the most compelling landscape piece.  Based on its size (3' x 5'), we figured it was priced well into the thousands.  There were also two smaller pieces by the same artist (Christopher Carroll) that really moved me.  Bummed to have found something so beautiful (yes, bummed, because nothing that good is affordable), we moved on to the next gallery, where I was thoroughly underwhelmed.

But, dang it, I just couldn't get that landscape out of my mind.  So I went back and asked the guy how much he wanted for the piece.  $500!!  I couldn't believe it.  I asked him to hold the piece, and we went and bought it on Sunday.  This thing is absolutely perfect over our sofa, and completely fills the most barren wall in our house.

Go buy this guy's work.  It is awesome, and he's a really nice guy.  Buy it now!  Now, dammit!

Thursday, February 03, 2005


So what blows me away about the absurdity of life is the human compulsion to take advantage of a deal. Take my lunch, for example:

I'm eating free pizza. This is my 4th piece, which means I will have eaten half of a 14" pizza when I'm done. Then I'll go and have a piece of free cake.

Do I need to eat like this? No, way. There's no possible conceivable notion that could convince me that this type of eating is necessary, prudent, or morally redeemable in any way. But it's free! And, of course, everybody else knows it's free. Therein lies the conundrum. I could pass on this offer of free food, but other people would get something that I didn't get. That just wouldn't be fair (in my id, this is a thoroughly justified argument). So I must stuff myself to the point of pain, which, in turn, will bring on a food coma, and the entire remainder of the day will be wasted.

But it's free.

Speaking of food, I ate the strangest amalgamation of food last night: a Rochester Garbage Plate. The thing consisted of naked hot dogs -- wait, I should try to describe it from the bottom up.

Layer 1: Various piles lumped around a plate of: cole slaw, potato salad, home fries, meat balls, and baked beans
Layer 2: Two hot dogs, cut in half length-ways
Layer 3: Chili
Layer 4: Cheddar cheese

And a pretty little flag planted in the top (just like Mt. Trashmore!).

Ugh. It didn't taste bad. It was just unholy. If this is what people in Rochester really eat, then I don't have much to fear in terms of losing Social Security benefits to them.

God this pizza is killing me...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

MINI bits, part 1

So I finally got the MTH software installed in my Chili Red/White 2004 MINI Cooper. Instant power boost at 4000 RPM, and smoother running at speed. It'll be a while before I can judge the changes to the fuel economy (of course, gunning the motor at 4000 RPM isn't helping).

Next up: clean up the SSR's (16x7 11lb semi-solid forged wheels - yummy) and get the AvonTech M-500's (215/50WR16).

The goal is to have these on the car by March 5, in time for the Time/Speed/Distance rally in Windsor, VA. Other modifications to do to the car before the rally:
1. Remove back seats (-56lb for seats and seat-backs).
2. Remove spare tire and toolkit (probably another 50lb or more).
3. Try try try to get a new rear anti-sway bar.

First Post! w00t!

A bold day for me: I'm entering the crazy online world of bloggery (or is it blogdom?).

A bit about me:

1. I'm a systems administrator with an unparalleled budget and a bunch of equipment to support.
2. I've recently developed a deep psychosis that centers around MINI Coopers and modifications thereof.
3. I'm married to my best friend, and am the proud parent of two kitties (Lucy & Vivienne).

That's all that's fit for press at the moment. Hopefully I'll find some time today to format this blog.