Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Incident on Summit Street

So there's this guy, let's call him Ryan, who was lying in bed on Tuesday morning when he hears this loud clattering sound outside. As one is wont to do in such situations he rolls over and goes back to sleep. A little while later, after he has roused himself and prepared himself for the trip to work, he leaves the house and notices a police car with its lights flashing across the road. Seeing nothing else out of the ordinary he heads off to work.

A few hours later, work was slow, he returns home. Once he is back in the safe and warm he decides to drive up to Trader Joe's and buy some cheap wine — and possible some food. As he approaches his friends' minivan, of which he has use during their vacation, he notices a little white card stuck under the windscreen wiper. It is an "Exchange of Identification Information" card. He looks around at the car and notices that the back window is taped over and walking around the car he sees this:

The next day he calls the number on the card and has a chat with a very nice, very apologetic gentleman who tells him what happened. Apparently, there was a truck driving down the street with an awning (from Capital City Awning) on the back of the truck. Unfortunately, one of the braces that were attaching the awning to the truck decided to break and the awning, sensing its chance for freedom, dove off the back of the truck. Yet more unfortunately, the awning didn't time its jump very well and dove off the back of the truck into the back of the minivan — going something like 30 miles and hour. Ryan forgot to ask the nice man on the phone if the awning was badly injured in the incident but, judging by the damage done to the car, things probably didn't end well for the awning.

The moral of the story is: don't lend Ryan your car as inanimate objects will attack it. Or something like that anyhow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On Christmas cheer and other things

To paraphrase the New York Times from Christmas Day: once more the battle has come to and end and for another year the War on Christmas is over. And yes, once more, Christmas was victorious!

I trust that we all had a wonderful time and we all managed to make it onto Santa's good list this year. For me Father Christmas came a little earlier than usual on Christmas Eve; he came in the middle of the afternoon. What did he bring me? He brought me a spirit sapping, agonising Falcons loss to the Buccaneers — a loss which, with the Falcons being eliminated from the playoffs, sent my gambling firmly in to the red for the year. At least the Scouser from Orlando, that I met at Barley's during the Chicago game, will have enjoyed the result. Bastard!

Apart from the part of the evening where I was weeping into my beer in the corner of the room, Christmas Eve was very pleasant. Our house entertained one of the housemate's mother and sister, I got to roast a chicken for the first time — discovering that in this day and age it is ridiculously easy to roast a chicken.

Christmas Day itself was more of a low key affair, and no not just because we were hungover. The day largely featured sleeping, present opening, phone calls home, watching King Kong and a trip to the bar (well a trip to five bars actually, but the principle is the same).

Yesterday I got all adventurous and took a drive around south eastern Ohio. I stopped in Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital, for lunch (a greasy Chinese buffet that was the only place open downtown, and which made me feel queasy for the next couple of hours), lost to myself two times out of three games of pool (an impressive feat, I think you'll agree) at the coffee and billiards place in downtown Portsmouth and drove through Haverhill — discovering that the one in Ohio (which was apparently named after the one in New Hampshire which in turn was named after the one in Massachusetts which took its name from the hell hole in Suffolk in which I spent far too much time during my formative years), much like the one in Suffolk, is not worth getting out of the car for, or for that matter even being conscious in the car while the car is unfortunate enough to be there. (I'm just taking a little breather here as that was a very long sentence.) After Haverhill I went by Ohio's southernmost point, cleverly named South Point, before swinging north up the Ohio river, through pretty little Gallipolis with it's Our House Tavern Museum (which was sadly closed when I drove by), before ending up in an Athens coffee shop called Donkey for a little respite from the driving. It was very nice to get out of dull, dreary, cold Columbus for a while, even if the rest of Ohio was equally dull, dreary and cold yesterday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Spreading a message of hope through the medium of fat men in leotards rubbing their bodies together

At the bottom of this weeks The Friday Thing (otherwsie known as the best fifteen pounds I spent last year) was the link below.

Words fail me.

For all of you out there who were worried about my recent housing problems — okay, so that'll probably just be Mumsie then — I have good news to report: we now have heating, water and a working kitchen sink. Living the High Life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tales of water, random acts of generosity and my latest love affair

Yesterday when I got home from work I discovered that, much to my surprise, the landlord had come round and fixed the broken water pipe in the basement. Much joy and frivolity was had by all. Sadly, I didn't get to enjoy a shower with our new found water as I had, pessimistically, elected to go to the gym and have one (a shower — for you gutter minded folks) there before going home.

Anyhow, we had water and heat and there world was a wonderful place. I even went crawling around in the basement trying to apply duct tape to sort out some of our heating issues — one of the hot air ducts wasn't even attached to a vent, so a significant fraction of last months $300 gas bill went into heating the basement floor. After the crawling around we went out, as we are prone to do in my household, for a celebratory beer (or two). Upon returning, at two in the morning, we discovered that once more we had no water. A quick trip downstairs to the basement, revealed that it was semi-flooded. My how I laughed. No really I did, it was very amusing at the time. Is it impossible for this house to stay functional for more than a couple of hours at a time? Probably.

So, just to summarise the current state of affairs with the house. The heating works, for suitably small definitions of work. The water doesn't. The kitchen sink won't drain and it's garbage disposal is broken. And we have raccoons in both the loft and the basement. It's a beautiful place. I really should get round to posting some photos. The carnage in the basement is particularly impressive. Will we have water tonight? I wish I knew. Despite chatting with his wife this morning and asking for him to call me back, I haven't heard anything from the landlord. Then again, they 'fixed' the water yesterday without telling any of us, so I still live in hope that the water will back. Regardless, I'll be showering at the gym again tonight.

On a more upbeat note, I was given a free cup of coffee today. It was very odd. Odd in a good way, but still odd. When I attempted to pay for my morning coffee at Brenen's the girl behind the counter told me it was taken care of. The gentleman sitting next to the counter had decided that he would pay for the next person who walked in's coffee. I was the next person. Being on the receiving end of a random act of generosity is a pretty good way to start the day.

Finally, I'm in love (by which I mean finally in the sense that this is the last topic in the post, not that after all this time I'm finally in love). To be exact, I'm in love with Judge John Jones. Yes, he of Intelligent Design ruling fame. I spent some time (where some is defined as most of the day) reading his 139 page ruling. A very interesting read it was to. He set about explaining how Intelligent Design (ID) was just a renaming of Creationist Science, that occurred after the Supreme Court ruled that Creationist Science could not be taught in public schools. Then he went on to rule that ID is not science, which made me smile. Then there was a severe savaging of the actual defendants in the case. A couple of my favourite lines were:
With surprising candor considering his otherwise largely inconsistent and non-credible testimony, Buckingham did admit that he made this statement.
Cleaver admittedly knew nothing about ID, including the words comprising the phrase, as she consistently referred to ID as “intelligence design” throughout her testimony.
In his conclusion he had these words to say:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
The breathtaking inanity..., fantastic. You can download all 139 pages and enjoy it full yourselves. Me and a Republican judge, who'd have thunk it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Good News: after four increasingly frigid nights, the heating was finally working in our house last night. Yay!!

Bad News: one of the water pipes in the basement broke. So whilst we do have heat, we don't have any water. The opposite of 'Yay!!'

I love our house. No really, it's great. Honest.

Monday, December 19, 2005

From Hawaii heat to Columbus cold

So, I get a phone call from one of my housemates on Thursday evening telling me that the furnace had stopped working. Bugger, was my first thought — but that's not saying terribly much. Anyhow, we call the landlord and leave him a message saying we've got no heat and decide to go down to the bar and drink enough such that we don't feel cold that night. I'm pleased to report that this is a task we easily accomplished. The low on Thursday night was 27°F.

Friday comes around and it's a little bit chilly in our heat-less house, but it's not too bad and the landlord said he'd be around bright and early to try and fix the furnace. Bright and early turns out to mean about 1 o'clock — there'd be something of a pot and kettle situation if I were to comment on timekeeping though. Needless to say Pat, the landlord, and Don, the maintenance man, could not fix the broken furnace and we were assured that somebody will be round to look at it on Saturday. A 1500W space heater (three bar heater) is left to warm our large, draughty house, it doesn't do much in the way of warming. Once more we endeavour, and succeed in our endeavours (Yeah!), to drink ourselves warm. The low on Friday night was 20°F.

Saturday comes and Saturday goes and nobody comes to look at our furnace. Sadly the furnace doesn't miraculously perform a Lazarus act in honour of Christmas. Bastard furnace. Phone calls are made and action is promised, again. We all go out to a house party — the party even had it's own bartender, very nice — once more drunkenness is achieved. The low on Saturday night was 20°F, and the house was beginning to feel very, very cold. (So cold in fact that my, female, housemate spent the night in my bed for warmth.)

Sunday morning begins with the arrival of two more space heaters from Pat, the landlord. Whereas the first one looked like it was from the 70's the newer arrivals look like they may very well come from pre-World War II times. One of the sounds like a jet engine, and trips the breaker when we turn it on. After angry phone calls and threats of legal intervention, somebody comes to look at the furnace. They even take a bit of it, presumably a broken bit, away with them. Sunday night is spent getting drunk (again, but only slightly drunk not very drunk as it's a school night) and miserable (because the Falcons lost again, and are now coming perilously close to losing me lots of money). The low on Sunday night was 11°F. Yes 11°F. In proper money that's Fucking Cold!

Monday morning arrives and it's C.O.L.D. My jeans feel stiff as I pull them on. My hands start hurting as I dress myself. The thermometer in the sitting room says that it is 38°F. I think it's lying, it feels closer to 8°F. Bastard thermometer. Now the end of Monday is rapidly arriving and I don't want to call my housemates to find out if we have heating, for fear that the answer will not be the resounding "Yes" that I am hoping for. The predicted low on Monday night is 7°F.

One week ago I was swimming in the ocean off Waikiki at night. This weekend I had to turn the shower on to heat up the bathroom enough to use the toilet. This is definitive proof that not only does God exists, but he's a four letter word that starts with 'c' and rhymes with cunt. (I'll give you a clue, particularly Dr. Jenner if you're reading this, the word I was alluding to was cunt.)

In other news, Thursday also brought a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) informing Brit, of drunken bike riding fame, that he did not produce proof of insurance on the date of his incident, and further, that he did not produce proof of insurance at any subsequent point in the court proceedings. They informed him that he must take proof of insurance, both for the time of the incident and currently, to the BMV or face a three month license suspension and a $150 reinstatement fee. Needless, to say this did not make Brit particularly pleased. I however found it immensely entertaining, and more than a little messed up.

There were other things, but the cold has stopped my brain working. Well it's either the cold or the alcohol, and I'm betting on the cold.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The first pre-gym post for a long long while

It's finally happened. The wait is over. And no I'm not talking about the beer monkey becoming Dr Leo Jenner (although on that note a big: What??? and Well Done!), I am instead talking about the long awaited return of the pre-gym blog post. I can't even remember the last time I went to the gym, although I do know it was before my spate of drunken foot mishaps. I can tell you're all purring with excitement.

On the subject of excitement, or rather on the subject of lack of excitement, I spectacularly failed to get myself thrown of the plane from Hawaii for wearing my Pedophiles are fucking immature assh*les t-shirt. It was very disappointing, not even so much as a complaint. What is the world coming to when offensive t-shirts don't cause offence?

On the subject of lack of offence, I managed to talk to a friends grandmother about gay porn this weekend. I was rather proud of myself, it's not everyday that I get to regale grandmothers with tales involving men pleasuring each other. It's not everyday, but it was Saturday. What next? I often wonder.

If we decorate our lovely abode this year, I kind of want to put this up in the front garden.

Think that's all for now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good Week - Bad Week

Good Week: I'm in sunny Hawaii and not snowy Columbus.

Bad Week: Four days of shouting physicists (and I'm really not joking me do a lot of shouting, even me).

Good Week: England's World Cup Draw — Paraguay, Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago — I'd take that any day.

Bad Week: United's limp exit from Europe (costing me valuable pennies)

Good Week: Did I mention the Hawaii thing?

Bad Week: Atlanta's limp defeat against Carolina (costing me valuable pounds)

Good Week: No really, did I say I was in Hawaii yet?

Bad Week: Did I mention the -7 degrees Celsius in Columbus, that I'll be going back to tomorrow?

Good Week: Still stuck on that tropical island thing...

Bad Week: ... and it's just about a fifteen hour trip to get of it.

In summary: fish = good, gambling = bad, meeting = okay and air travel = miserable.

An aside: last Saturday I was in Chicago airport (O'Hare) and I saw something that not only have I never seen before, but also, hopefully, something I will never see again. I was talking to my mother on the phone at the time and just wandering around the airport, mooching around you could say. Then there was this guy sitting in the end seat at gate C19 (mid 40's(?), green fleece jacket, blue shoulder rucksack, blue jeans — yes, I stopped to write down a description) sitting with his 12 inch iBook holding a magazine in his left hand to shield the screen from that side. What he didn't realise was that from over his right hand shoulder I had a very clear, and very unintentional, view of what he was looking at on his screen — gay porn. Now it's not so much that it was gay porn, it was more that he had the gumption to sit in the bloody airport and look at porn, it was quite impressive (in the way a car crash is impressive). I had to circle by a couple of times just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. I wasn't.

In case you're curious, I didn't mention it to my mother at the time. It's not really one of those things that are easy to slip in to conversation when you're talking about your grandmothers negative biopsy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It's one of those long time no post, pretty short (unlike its title), because the main reason I haven't posted much is ongoing, posts

I'm worn out already and the post has only just started.

Can you tell I've been a little busy lately? The lack of sparkling wit and astute observational skills per chance? No? Okay then, be like that.

The main reason that there hasn't been a post since before Thanksgiving (little aside: I had marvelous Thanksgiving and did my best to make up for my 0 for 3 turkey rating by having two turkey dinners in one day. To be honest with you I was full to bursting after the first one (during which the Falcons won and won me lots, if lots is £25, of money... Whoo!) and I definitely wasn't expecting the second one, but what are you going to do? Turn down a homemade dinner somebody has cooked for you, that would seem terribly rude. The reason that I had two turkey dinners, is that my friend, Brit, comes form one of those broken homes (like me, but unlike me his parents still live in the same city, as opposed to different continents) and we visited both Mother and Father on Thanksgiving. I am almost still full from last Thursday. Almost: end aside.) is that next week is the ANITA collaboration meeting. So, on Saturday I will be giving up the delights of Columbus and will be sampling the delights of Hawaii for a week. Yeah, I know: hard life, huh.

The impending meeting, as ever, means that I have lots of work to do. And when you throw in the fact that I'm trying to finish writing a job proposal (same job as the last two, different way of being paid) it means I'm rather short of minutes in the day. I still have quite a few minutes in the night, like the ones I'm using right now, but most of them are spent either sleeping or trying to stupefy myself enough such that I can sleep. I managed this trick so well last Friday, that I slept until 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I probably won't be managing it quite as well either tonight or tomorrow night, at least I hope I don't manage it as well tomorrow night as I have a flight at 10:30 in the morning.

In other news, there's been little time for other news. Actually, there has been a bit of other news, but right now my brain is half way down high street and doesn't look like it will be waiting for my body to catch up until it gets home. Can't blame it though it's mighty cold outside, you wouldn't want to be hanging around in this sort of weather. Bloody good job I'm going off for a week in the Sun hey.

Now, one talk almost down, one yet to start and one job proposal that keeps on poking me in the ribs and saying nasty things about my timekeeping.