Sunday, August 31, 2008


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.

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'.

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.