Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Balcony Lights






You can never have too many pics of your lights.

Christmas Jackpot




The pics speak for themselves.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Two B or not Two B...







I got a B- in Shakespeare, and a B+ in Modern Lit. Rudely enough, my mother said, "A's would have been better." I just rolled my eyes when she said that.

Anyway, I get to move on to what should be my last semester. If I haven't mentioned it yet, I'll be taking Roman Empire, and a course called Editing, both of which are down here in Sarasota. (In fact, the editing course is mostly online, but meets twice, both times down here.)

I'll miss the sheer energy of the big campus. The above pic, the one with the greenery, is the area outside of Cooper Hall, where I had my Shakespeare class. It's sort of a gathering area, with protestors and such. There's nothing really similar on the Sarasota campus, just an "Einstein Begels" shop.

As for the other pic, it's looking East, from the fourth floor of the Collins parking facility, showing the dome where they play basketball and volleyball. IIRC, they call it the Sun Dome. There is also nothing similar to it in Sarasota, as there's no sports down here of any kind.

As I mentioned back in one of the first posts to this blog, I remember seeing "Little Feat" play at that dome. Even though that was probably back in '92 or so, I still remember driving onto the campus and thinking: "I wish I were smart enough to go to college." As much as I really wanted to go to school, I didn't think I'd be able to hack it.

Anyway, here I am, almost done. I rule!

Friday, December 12, 2008

End of Fall Semester




The Winter’s Tale and Othello both show that though Eros can bring about jealousy and murder, a lover can achieve a beautiful alchemy, using remorse as the catalyst, to change Eros into the less self-centered Agape. In the end both Leontes and Othello manage to do just that.


And with that, I completed my Shakespeare paper, and the semester. That was on Monday. I mailed it to my professor up in Tampa, and that was that.

I think the paper turned out pretty well. I think the semester wound up being okay, too, with even that Modern Lit class not being too bad.

Even though I've been done with the semester since Monday, I'm still burned out. In fact, I feel much more tired now than I did when I was still in school. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's just because I now have the time to realize how tired I am.

I drove 3,700 miles this semester, just to attend those classes. My truck could use a break, too, along with an oil change and perhaps some new tires.

Luckily, I'll be taking next semester down here, at a campus that's maybe ten miles away. And next semester should be my last. After that, I'll have a degree!

Now, anyone want to buy some used books?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Papers, papers, and more papers...





For my modern lit class, I have to turn in five separate papers this week. The papers are short, roughly only 1.5-2.5 pages long each, but still it's a lot of work. Three of them are for the book Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. It's a dystopic sci-fi novel. (I enjoyed it because a lot of people get shot in it!)

I also have a 5-7 page doozy of a paper to write for the Shakespeare class. Although it's "due" tomorrow (Thurs., Dec. 4th), the prof. said she'll accept them as late as next Wednesday. Even though that will be after the end of the semester, she'll be in her office then. As I haven't even started that paper yet, I'll definitely be taking her up on that offer. (I'm planning on just sending it Fedex to her, in order to avoid the 130 mile round-trip drive up there.)

So, in short, the semester is coming to a chaotic, nerve-wracking, nail-biting end that will surely keep me up writing something late at night, maybe tonight. It happens every semester.

In other news, back on Sunday I took a header off the sidewalk in front of my apartment. A wasp flew out from a bush directly in front of me, at eye level no less. As it flew over me, I looked straight up, lost my balance, and fell back like a tree, falling between two parked cars. My head smacked into a car so hard I looked for a dent (both in the car and my head). However, the only real damage was a small cut to my elbow, which at first bled so much I thought I'd need stitches for it. It turned out just to be a small cut though, and it healed up on its own.

Pretty scary fall: I figured I'd end up in the hospital because of it.

Anyway, I gotta get back to my schoolwork. Bleah...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Babylon Revisited




I haven't had much time to post lately, so I figured I'd post a link to F. Scott Fitzgerald's Bablyon Revisited. It takes place in Paris, not long after the Crash of '29. However, perhaps because of the current economic conditions, it reads as if it were written just yesterday. I'd say it's probably the best short story I've read so far in my Modern Lit class.


Babylon Revisted

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Still Moving...







As you can see, the new place has a very nice view. All in all, I think it's a better place to live than the old one -- plus I don't have to worry about someone else's foreclosure suddenly becoming my problem, in the form of an eviction from the bank. I'm still living out of boxes though.

Anyway, I'm taking a break from moving until Friday, when I'm having some movers bring over my heavy stuff. Until then, I'm sleeping on my futon, which I was able to disassemble and bring over myself. (Being "College Geezer," I have a ton of schoolwork to catch up on.)

Anyway, it's nice to own a small pickup.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Moving



Well, I've had some good times in this apartment, but I'm having to move. I've lived in this unit for probably a good four years now, and been in the complex since '94. Unfortunately the complex went condo at the height of the real-estate bubble, so the units aren't worth even half what people paid for them.

My landlord is letting mine go into foreclosure. When the state sent me notice of it, I put a "stop-payment" on this month's rent check. As a courtesy, I was going to call him about this, but he's changed his number. He also changed his address to a P.O. Box, so I'm guessing I can kiss my deposit goodbye. (He only had one month's rent, so it's no big deal.)

At the rate the courts are operating at in this area, I could probably live here rent-free for awhile. I've heard of people doing it for up to three months. But I'm just leaving instead. I don't want to be here when the Sheriff's Dept. finally does come around to change the locks.

Anyway, there are so many vacancies in this area I was able to locate another apartment in about an hour. It's within walking distance of an Applebees I like to drink at, is just as nice, and is slightly cheaper to boot.

One sign of the times: to start leasing a place, one used to need to pay first-month's rent, last-month's, and a hefty security deposit, often equal to another month of rent. Now it's just first-month's, plus a deposit of $200. Also, it used to take months to line up an empty apartment; now it takes a day.

It seems as if this entire area is packing up and moving away. Some restaurants in prime locations went out of business, and their buildings have now been empty for at least six months.

And this is tourist season, which makes it even more ominous. When Summer comes back, and the daily temps are in the nineties, everything will get even emptier....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Three CRT's




Bucs, Rays, and the internet: sometimes, picture-in picture just doesn't cut it. (The screen on the left is my computer).





beer count: 8 (!)



Interestingly enough, I drove past the Trop just yesterday...


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Football USF vs Syracuse



This was USF's homecoming, so the Bulls were given a mediocre team to play. The score of 45-13 was a result of that. Still though, all through the first half it was pretty close, with the score only something like 20-13 going into the halftime.

Lessons learned: leave for games early, really early. I did manage to make the kickoff, but only just barely. I would have appreciated having some time to just sit and drink beer. Also, I found it a little stressful trying to get there on time.

Second, wear sunscreen. I figured since it's October, the sun wouldn't be strong enough to give me a burn, but they don't call this the Sunshine State for nothing.

Third, get a white USF t-shirt. They make them, but like most students, mine is the more-traditional green. Those dark shirts get hot!

A few things I noticed during the game: hubba-hubba factor aside, I am pretty impressed by some of the things I've seen the cheerleaders doing. The top pic shows what I mean. Also, I'm impressed by anyone who can do a standing backflip, as I've seen most of the girls pulling off with aplomb.

Something else: I enjoy seeing the many different ways people dress up for these games. I have no idea why the guy is wearing a mask, but I gotta get some horns! Not sure if I could pull off the body-paint thing, though.



One final note: I'm betting that many people never actually go into the game. Quite a few of the tailgating setups are extravagant; the people partying at them are there when I go into the game, and still there when I leave. Perhaps they go in, but they have that comfortable air about them that says, "I like it here, and I'm not moving." I'm not sure why people tailgate to this extant, but they sure seem to enjoy it.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Galapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut



I read this book twenty years ago, back when I was still a sailor. I even remember the guy I borrowed it from; he was an Aegis tech.

I don't want to go into too much detail, as this is one of those books you might just pick up and read. Though considered intellectual enough to be taught in school, Vonnegut is also readable enough that you can take his books to the beach. I recommend this one.

One interesting tidbit though: when I originally read it, I completely missed the fact that there was a disease in the plotline. I won't go into it in detail, as I don't want to ruin it, but suffice it to say that the novel has so much going on that the disease is a minor, though important point.

When we took the quiz on this book, we answered ten questions about it. Then, the professor asked us for any interesting suggestions for extra-credit questions. I, of course, brought up this disease in an oblique way, asking what it was responsible for.

The entire class groaned. I think I was probably the only one who caught this plot-point. It is, after all, only two or three lines in the novel.

No, I'm not smarter than all those young people. I am, however, probably the only person who had read this before. Also, like spotting a bolide meteor, it was a matter of luck, and having your eyes facing the right way at the right time.

This makes me wonder what else I've missed, the first time around. For example, I had to watch "Raiders of the Lost Ark," two or three times before I realized the importance of the bad-guy's burnt hand (and the fact that they didn't have the reverse side of the gold thing).

One final thought on Vonnegut: I remember the movie "Back to School," where Rodney Dangerfield decides to attend the same college his son is attending. At one point, Rodney is using his staff from his business to do his schoolwork. The son says, "I still don't know who you're going to get to do your Kurt Vonnegut report."

A knock on the door, and Kurt Vonnegut is there, in the flesh. The funniest part is that Dangerfield's English professor flunks him on the report, saying, "I don't know who you got to write this paper, but he doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut's work."

Higher praise for Kurt Vonnegut, I cannot imagine.

Monday, October 6, 2008

King Lear




I finished reading King Lear a few weeks ago. One scene is a torture scene, reminiscent of the one in Reservoir Dogs. This alone makes it worth reading. ;-)

But a scene that I believe to be quite relevant to modern times is the one in which King Lear asks his three daughters to tell him how much they love him. As he's getting ready to divide his kingdom into three parts, giving one part to each daughter so he can retire, you can imagine how much the daughters exaggerate their claims of love for him.

The first, Goneril, goes on quite a bit about how much she loves him, to the point of being ridiculous. The second, Regan, goes even further, topping the first.

Only Cordelia, the youngest, says something more sensible: "I love you according to my bond," meaning she loves him only as much as a daughter is supposed to love a father. She also tells him that once she gets married, he won't be the most-loved man in her life, as that title will go to her husband. (This contrasts with her sisters, who swear eternal devotion to their dad.)

Despite Lear's blustering and threats about giving her portion of the kingdom to her sisters, Cordelia sticks to her guns. As a result, he exiles her to France, and indeed gives her inheritance to Goneril and Regan.

It made me think: How many bosses punish those who refuse to praise and agree with them? I imagine that if CEO's read King Lear, they'd probably recognize themselves -- that is, of course, unless they're so filled with self-adoration that they simply don't think they have anything in common with the king.


spoilers below...







As you can imagine, Goneril and Regan plot to kill dear old dad, while Cordelia is the only one who really loves him.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Football USF vs Pitt



I got home from the game around 12:30am. It was a long day, but I had a lot of fun. USF lost (26-21), but oh well. It's really a blast to sit with the (other) students; those kids really make a lot of noise. I'm posting a couple of videos, but I don't think they capture the sheer volume they were cranking out.

For what it's worth, you're looking at Raymond James stadium, which is also the home of the Bucs. It has already held one Superbowl, and will host this year's as well. It's a pretty good stadium. I remember reading somewhere that the NFL considers it one of its best.

USF vs. Syracuse on the 18th. I plan to be there.

video
video
video

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cooper Hall has No Fire Sprinklers




My Shakespeare class meets on the third floor of this building. It's a death-trap. It has narrow hallways, overcrowded classrooms, awkward and confusing egress points, and most notably, no fire sprinklers.

I didn't even know it was legal to construct a building without them. Every other building I've been in has them, so why not this one?

It looks nice from the outside, but whoever designed this building had no idea what he was doing. Maybe it was designed by students.

Anyway, here's a good video demonstrating the importance of fire spriklers. I'll try to post a few more in my links section.

Two Houses Test

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"How can it be racist if I like them?"



I got a "D/F" on my very first essay in my Modern Lit class. Bleah.

I suppose it shouldn't bother me. The professor did say she graded these "mercilessly," as this first essay doesn't count towards our grades. (She gives us the first paper to learn exactly what she wants.)

However, this paper did shake my confidence a bit. Not so much about myself, as I'm currently so close to earning a degree that it would be ridiculous to think that I can't get through the remaining few courses. Rather, it shook my confidence in the professor, and her ability to conduct this class.

In this essay, I was to discuss the unconscious racism of the narrator in "I Want To Know Why", by Sherwood Anderson. (FWIW, he's from my home town.)

I pointed out that as the story was written in the 1920's, and the narrator was only 15, his use of the word "nigger", was not necessarily racist. Rather, I figured it's just the word they used at the time.

In the margin, the professor wrote: "But it's racist, regardless."

Huh? What kind of facile point is that to make?

I also wrote that the narrator has a profound admiration for blacks; they are part of the horse-racing scene he's so interested in. Like the horses, they have their place and fill it well. It's the owners of the horses, who are white, that he sees getting drunk and cavorting with ugly prostitutes.

So, I pointed out that though the narrator is racist, in that he can't see blacks as being anything other than good cooks and dedicated horse-tenders, he has an admiration for that type of work, so much so that he wanted to do that type of work himself. So, his racism is of a rather nice variety.

The professor wrote: "Racism isn't 'nice'."

WTF? Am I going to have to toe some politically-correct line with this woman? And honestly, I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode, the one where "Donna Chang" wasn't Chinese.

Jerry: "How can it be racist if I like them?".

Anyway, grades aside, this professor makes modern literature about as fun and interesting as jury duty. I would have never predicted that my Shakespeare class would be the funner and more-interesting of my two classes, but it is.

I have thirteen more of these essays to write over the course of the semester. They only need to be 200-250 words apiece, but right now I don't feel like even writing one more word for this woman.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bleah...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering...


I was buying tires. I watched it happening on the tv in their waiting room. When I couldn't watch it anymore, I went outside to wait.

It wasn't too long before I saw Air Force One flying directly overhead, taking off from the Sarasota/Bradenton airport. I imagine I'll always remember that day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Election and Age


This is the first election where some of the candidates are approximately my age. Obama is six years older than me; Palin is just three.

On one hand it's just a rite-of-passage; sooner or later, those running for national offices will be about your age. (Although I do find it jarring, as I never saw this coming. Unlike going bald, it isn't something that people joke about that much.)

On the other hand though, I really do think that people in their forties have no business seeking such high offices. Like me, they are just not mature enough. Looking at Palin and Obama, I have to ask myself where they got the idea that they're capable of holding the positions they're seeking. I imagine they must both have outsized egos.

But looking at some of the kids in my classes, I understand why it's not an issue with them. Many of them look to be about fourteen! To them, someone in his forties is an adult, and old as the hills.

But me? I can see, in my mind's eye, Palin cranking up Whitesnake on her car stereo. I can see Obama grooving to FYC, perhaps listening to it while doing the dishes. I can see them both sitting down to watch Miami Vice.

There's no way these people are adults. No way.

Macbeth


Though people often say that it's hard to appreciate Shakespeare unless it's on- stage, I have to say that I've never been able to understand his stuff that way. His language has always been too archaic for me to understand.

That's why I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually understood Macbeth, just from reading it. Yes, nearly every paragraph had multiple footnotes that slowed me down, but it's the explanations that got me through it.

Finally, I understand a play by Shakespeare. I was worried, as this entire course is Shakespeare. I'm relieved.

And of course the play gives me a good tagline for my blog....

Friday, September 5, 2008

Unfurled





The weather on Thursday was a little more cooperative to getting this shot. I still can only scratch my head at what the flag is supposed to mean. Is it a way to send a racist threat, but with plausible deniability? Or is it just a way to honor and remember Confederate dead?

Regardless, the Civil War does deserve to be remembered. Back on Thursday, when I was having breakfast, the History Channel had a program on Antietam. It was the single bloodiest day in American history, with 23,000 casualties.

Antietam National Battlefield.


However, I'd rather see something like the below displayed. It's one of the type the Confederates actually flew from flagpoles. (The one by I-75 is a "battle flag".)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thyestes


I had to read Thyestes, by Seneca. The story concerns a brother (Atreus) wreaking revenge against his brother Thyestes. He does so by killing Thyestes' three young sons, then butchering and cooking them into a feast -- which he then feeds to an unknowing Thyestes.

It's probably the sickest, most twisted story I've read in a long time. I loved it.

Some of it reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft's work. Check out Seneca's description of the garden where Atreus kills the boys. It's dark even at midday, and (like everything Lovecraftian) unimaginably hideous. I particularly like the line: Whatever is dreadful but to hear of, there is seen.

(Though the online version has no italics, my printed one does. So, I added it to the above.)


665] A dismal spring starts forth beneath the shadow, and sluggish in a black pool creeps along; such are the ugly waters of dread Styx, on which the gods take oath. ‘Tis said that from this place in the dark night the gods of death make moan; with clanking chains the grove resounds, and the ghosts howl mournfully. Whatever is dreadful but to hear of, there is seen; throngs of the long-since dead come forth from their ancient tombs and walk abroad, and creatures more monstrous than men have known spring from the place; nay more, through all the wood flames go flickering, and the lofty beams glow without the help of fire. Oft-times the grove re-echoes with three-throated bayings; oft-times the house is affrighted with huge, ghostly shapes. Nor is terror allayed by day; the grove is a night unto itself, and the horror of the underworld reigns even at midday. From this spot sure responses are given to those who seek oracles; with thundering noise the fates are uttered from the shrine, and the cavern roars when the god sends forth his voice.



This story just friggin' rocks. Also, the grandfather (and one of the grandsons, also) is Tantalus. Finally, I know the source of "Tantalus V," both in the Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind," and the South Park episode that spoofs it. (It's the one with the mind-controlling planetarium.)

He's also the source of the word "tantalize," as his punishment in hell is to have food and water always in front of him -- which retreats just before he can grab it. (In a previous story, Tantalus killed one of his own sons and served him to unknowing gods.)

So, going to school sometimes pays off, in that you suddenly understand the references behind pop culture. (Same for when I wrote a paper on In Memoriam. Not long after, I saw Hellboy 2, in which Abe Sapien and the Elf Princess both read from that. It added something to my appreciation of the film, knowing what they were reading from.)


As for Thyestes, here is a link.

Thyestes

If you read it, remember that there are two Tantalus': the ghostly grandfather, and the grandson. And at the end, where it mentions various gods not working well together, it's because the Sun couldn't stand to look at the horrors beneath it and recoiled, sending the Earth into a dark night without stars. (Which is very Lovecraftian, indeed.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No Sleep 'til Hammersmith


I got absolutely no sleep last night. Zero. I think that's the first time that's ever happened. Still though, I managed the trip up to Tampa okay. .

I even had some fun in class. For some reason I can't recall, my Shakespeare prof. asked the class how long a pornographic movie lasts. She'd never seen one.

I said, "They last long enough."

The dude sitting next to me just lost it when I said that. And a girl behind me said, "Ewww!"

I rule.

As for sleep, I think I've been having trouble because on the days I don't have to go to school I get too much sleep, often staying in bed until eleven to catch up. That makes it impossible to be tired enough to go to bed at a decent hour that night.

To simplify, I go from getting four hours in one night, to ten the next night. Then four, then ten, and back again. And last night, for whatever reason, my body refused to just relax.

Anyway, I'm going to try to break the cycle tomorrow, by waking up at 8am, even though I don't have school. That'll give me about seven hours.

Unfortunately I was so tired today I forgot my camera. That confederate flag was flying nicely, too.

This shot is from last week; it shows the view from the top floor of the parking garage I often use. The green peaked roofs are the CIS building, where I have a class. It's about a fifteen-minute walk. The library is off to the right.

I think it's a pretty cool view.


*The title of this post is a Motorhead album.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Blair Bitch Project








I just watched the season premiere of Gossip Girl.

Yes, I could lie and say I watch it only for the the jailbait, but I don't. And yes, I could say "I only watch it because I wanna bang that chick who plays Serena,"
but that wouldn't be true, either. The truth is, the show has the most amazing clothes, settings and backgrounds of any show I've seen. This episode took place in the Hamptons, with dazzling lawns and houses galore.

I'll even admit to being a fan of Chuck. Good God, the man knows how to dress. He also wore a green suit earlier, but I missed taking a pic of it. Yes, a green suit sounds terrible, but he looked good.

Quit looking at me like I'm gay, dammit.

Anyway, the crux of the show was that Summer is over. Down here in FL it's not; it'll be in the 90's until the third week of October. Still though the spirit of Summer, with its carefree days spent by a pool or beach, is over.

Which reminds me: I have homework.

Shit.

(I changed the title of this post, when I saw that Slate's article on GG had the same title. I felt like a hack, copying from them like that.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bands...


We're getting a few bands spun off from Gustav right now. It's nothing serious, but it is a reminder of just how powerful that storm is. Even though it's hundreds of miles out in the gulf, and headed away from here, it's still giving the trees here some knee-bending exercises.
video

I should be reading Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, and a story by Sherwood Anderson (who, for what it's worth, is from my home town). Feh. Right now I'd rather blog, if that's a verb.

I haven't been able to work out for a week, which is making me antsy. I'm going to have to go to the gym before I'll be able to really concentrate on any heavy reading.

Beer count: none so far today.

Anyway, enjoy the weather video.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Week



After this semester, I'll have only two courses left, both electives. As those can be any course available in the 3000 level, I may be able to take both of them down at the Sarasota campus of USF.

But will I want to? The Sarasota campus is maybe five miles away; the Tampa campus is 63. (The above pictures show the miles I drove just on Thursday alone.) So sure, I'd save a lot of gas, time, and effort by attending Sarasota.

But the Sarasota campus is a just a lone (though large) building with 1,700 students, none of them residents. There's not much going on there. The building's big, well-manicured courtyard is always empty; I can't recall ever seeing anyone crossing its many sidewalks. The inside isn't much better, with the hallways quiet and still. The building's big three-story "forum," which is kind of a round lobby ringed with glass, has multiple study desks on its mezzanines, but they're always empty. Ditto the half-dozen desks set in study room off of a main hallway.

Like a well-maintained English manor house, it's a beautiful building almost devoid of life. Also, there are hardly even any courses in it I'd want to take, with the English and Literature offerings being especially sparse.

The Tampa campus, in contrast, has 37,000 students. That's twenty times as many as Sarasota. It has sports, including football (though they have to play at an off-campus arena). It has a Sundome, used for basketball and concerts. (Probably fifteen years ago, before I ever thought of attending USF, I saw Little Feat there.) The campus has buildings all over, connected by sidewalks teeming with students. Where the Sarasota campus has one small parking lot (which gets at best half-full), this campus has acres of lots, and at least four parking garages that I know of; everything's parked pretty solid from 9:30 A.M. on.

The library is six stories tall. Even though I had a map of the stacks, I still got seriously lost.

It also has the Moffit Cancer Center, a Shriner's children's hospital, and all sorts of research facilities. (And even a mental hospital, for all of my blogger friends. ;-)

All in all, the campus must be several miles square. The parking services people actually give out maps.

It's an exciting, mind-blowing change from Sarasota. I wish I had started coming up here years ago.

Ah, but the commute. It's only twice a week, but it's still a bit of a grind.

Regardless of what happens next semester, when April rolls around, I'll be done.

I'm sure I'll miss it.

Plug for edatereview

Figure I'd put in a requested link for Half Sigma's review of dating sites. It's called edatereview.

He was good enough to mention my blog on his well-travelled "Half Sigma" blog, so I'll plug this project of his. I think I'm supposed to put it in a "blog roll", but I have no idea how to make one of those. (And now that I think about it, a "blog roll" sounds like some kind of Hungarian meat dish, something undoubtedly served with sauerkraut.)

Online Dating

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Stars and Bars Pics...



It's weird, to look over and wonder if you're suddenly in a different country. At least I didn't get thumped over the head by seeing this thing in a full breeze.

Confederate Flag


I took about 150 pictures on my commute today. A couple of them show a big confederate flag, flying near the intersection of I-4 and I-75. According to this ABC story, it's something like 50'X30'.

http://a.abcnews.com/US/Story?id=4978568&page=2

I tried to get a shot showing the exit sign for MLK blvd and the flag at the same time, but there wasn't enough wind to really lift the flag to show it. I'm not sure if their proximity is just an accident of the intersection, or some sort of attempt to send a message.

Anyway, I didn't intend to start off the blog with something so contentious, but what the heck. I guess in some ways I'm glad to see the "stars and bars", as it means we haven't become a totally homogenized nation. I've honestly been pleased to see it on bumper stickers, as it means that there is a reason to still travel; everything isn't the same everywhere. However, they fly this flag every day, not just on days related to the Civil War.

What gives? Really?

And honestly, Tampa had pirates for a lot longer than it had Confederates. I say, hoist the skull-and-crossbones!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Day, Last Year

Well, today was my first day of class. First day, in which will probably be my last year. I should have my bachelor's by late April.

My first course, I took in 1987. I took two more, in 1989. I was still in the USN then; college professors actually came on board and taught classes while we were underway in the Med. I'm sure it was an adventure for them, as they got to visit all the places we did (Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Israel).

It's interesting, that many of the students in my classes today were just getting born around that time. Do they remember when there were no cellphones? How many other ways are their lives different than mine?

Anyway, I had two hours of sleep last night. I went to bed at 2a.m., which is pretty much my normal time. I woke up at four, and couldn't get to sleep again. I left for class at 7:30, and arrived around 9:20. (It's a haul.) I left my second of two classes at 12:15, and was at work by 2:30.

At work, I'm back to running my Universal Automatic Cross Drill, and its accompanying threading machine. I had been assembling power-distrubution units for small jets, but that line has slowed to where there isn't enough work.

Together, my machines make the aluminum fronts of those toggle switches you see in airplane cockpits. The schematic for one of the switch designs is from 1966. The machines I run to make them seem to be from a similar era, as their processes are controlled by a series of relays and timers. Open up the control box and you'll see 12 relays, with about 100 wires going between them. When running, they go "THUNK, THUNK, THUNK, THUNK" in rapid succession, as one relay trips another.

Our older maintenance guys all having retired, I seem to be the only person in the plant who knows how the system works. Good for me! Although I feel unappreciated at work, it's certainly nice to know that I'm good at my job.

Anyway, my miles driven today: 124. (It's a 63 mile one-way trip to class. Forgive me for bragging about making such a commute -- as if blowing $50 in gas a week makes me smart or something. However, I am proud of it.)

My beers for today: 2.

This is my very first ever blog post. Being new to this, I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up. I'll have a lot of reading to do, but will try to keep this blog updated.

In the future, I'll try to post pictures.