2007 (good riddens)

This year (as Matt will attest) has been one littered with misfortune for my household. Perhaps this was the valley to compliment the 2006 peak that not only saw us get married but also purchase and move into our first house. It all began with us trying to get out our apartment (lease) and struggling to secure a commitment from one Ms. Broward, failing, and then wrestling have the rental company for the last of our dignity, which for anyone keeping track is apparently worth a couple thousand dollars to us. Some of that money we tried to make back by participating in Yellow Fever vaccine studies but that also turned to misadventure.

On a brighter note, we did make some progress on the house and had a lot of visitors. All of our parents and siblings stopped by at one point or another during the year and some college buddies came out in September. Chad arrives tomorrow to cap off the year and to start 2008 off on the right foot. Also, I have to say that I did not fall terribly ill at any point in the year, though it was riddled with injury. I think the passing-out mentioned above was the first incident, but June was really where I kicked it up a notch. Who could forget my bloody-attic-insulation mess that resulted in an afternoon visit from an ambulance. While I did start wearing my helmet I still managed to hurt myself just a week later in a spill that took me over the handle bars of my bike. I went to the doctor the next day to hear that I had fractured my radius. They sent me to a sports doctor who said it was not broken (enough) for a cast and it would heal on its own. Finally, we had a car accident but luckily no one was hurt, save the Civic.

We both managed to take fruitful trips to Central and South America for our work and even managed to take part of a trip together. Everything went very well except that Lauren had her purse stolen while we were in the airport waiting to come home. Passport and ID were luckily on her person.

With a year that seems to have thrown so much at us it is nice to still be standing and until today we were doing better than that (practically dancing). Today, though, was one of those days that seems to avalanche on you; a series of failures like eraser strokes working on the optimism you’ve worked so ward to sketch out for yourself. I won’t get into the steps in the progression, but a certain shortcoming is proving detrimental to the recovery of our spirits. This morning Lauren noticed that our cat had not been around all night (a rarity, especially following our 9 day absence). We are still looking but are fairly certain he slipped out last night and we left him out there. It rained all day (Gov. Purdue’s prayers are being answered, I guess) and we haven’t seen him, or any trace of him, yet. If he shows up soon, it’ll save 2007 for me, if he’s gone, then I can surely say that I am glad 2007 will be as well.

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Water

I did not originally want to post about this, even though Lauren passed it along with the message “put it on your blog.” However, in class today while discussing the affect of society/culture on the idea of ‘necessities’ the statement was made that even if we (public health do-gooders ie. World Health Organization) wanted to put a (one) glass of clean water in front of every person on earth, we couldn’t do it. Not even for one day, let along daily. We’re not in a position to ready it, prep it, distribute it; we’re not even closer than some others. So who is the closest to being able to perform such a task? Probably, Coca-Cola, makers of what one professor (the same who made this point) refers to as a candy bar in a bottle.

Interesting, but it says nothing about what I didn’t want to show on here…

Today it came to my attention that Stone Mountain (a nearby rock formation/outdoor park/laser show venue/Confederate Mount Rushmore) is going to be offering a snow-covered winter wonderland to Atlanta locals, complete with real snow. So, during the worst drought on record in Georgia, a snow-making machine will use 38 gallons of water a minute from the local piped water supply. They’ve decided to use the municipal water instead of water from the park’s lake, to ensure snow of blinding white purity. Also, it makes very little (thermal) sense to put such an event in November. Perhaps they expect less rain and a better turn out with slightly warmer weather than in February, but I shake when I try to justify it.

In Vietnam, I attended something similar that was part of a large park. It was housed in a warehouse and it was complete with ice sculptures. They provided coats for people upon entry and gave people an opportunity to throw their first (and probably only) snowball ever. You would exit into the balmy 90 degree heat with the feeling that what you had just experienced was a bit less fun than all the effort was worth.

This morning, after reading an article about the Stone Mountain situation in the local paper I found out that Coca-Cola is putting it on. It appeared that they had already begun snow production and that the exhibit was not meant to open until November. That seems like a lot of water. However, the article was updated at 3:00 today after the park and Coke agreed to halt the snow production and the attraction due to significant criticism.

It seems the most twisted of ironies that a company that would employ such disregard for environmental circumstances for a promotional stunt employs the same poster-endangered species as the climate change activists.

The Article
Stone Mountain

Thursday
<a href="
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/living/stories/2007/10/04/snow_1004b_2DOT.html&#8221; target=”_blank”>The Follow-up Article

Pet Peeve


I am unable to completely form the reasons why but one thing in particular has recently been getting on my nerves to such a level that I felt I must get it off my chest. It’s people brushing their teeth at work. It may be that I just want some privacy with this one particular bathroom here at the University. My sense of entitlement may also be heightened due to the fact that this particular bathroom comes with a key so that access is limited to faculty and gringos (apparently). Equally perplexing is my inability to remove myself from situations. Why can I not just turn around and leave the bathroom when I see the tube of toothpaste sitting next to the sink? Well, you know what they say.

I’m sure, though, that the people doing the teeth-brushing are thinking the same thing perhaps to an even greater degree of frustration, however, I doubt any of them have gone so far as to publish their displeasure on the world wide web. But who wants someone intruding on their oral hygiene regimen to do their own dirty business. Their own pride and expectations for privacy, as professors (a position of some distinction), must be even more sensitive to the interference of a ‘younger’ extranjero who may or may not be struggling with the gastronomic variations he’s being exposed to. All this while engaging in the intimate act of brushing ones teeth.

I can grasp the reasons for bringing the toothbrush to work and getting that done in the middle of the day. That it is such a completely innocent and respectable action is the reason I do not completely understand my disposition to the practice. So, I am thinking that sometime this week I am going to flip my own script and brush my teeth at work. I will let you know how it goes.

Forbes Article on Such Etiquette

Summertime

I have not been writing much lately and tonight began to consider why that is. There are actually several reasons. Most are centered around the fact that I have not been conducting my day to day in a manner that I am proud of. I have refrained from broadcasting such lesser points of my behavior but alas I have arrived at a point where I feel I must bear my soul in order to move on. Feel free to skip this post and return when better news is in the headlines (ie Transformers sneak preview coming up).

This summer and the last month in particular have seen me in a inexplicable spell of apathy and laze. My Spanish has hardly improved (I don’t think changing the menu language on my iPod is going to be enough), I have not run even a mile in preparation for an upcoming 10K, and there are still times when Lauren has to help out with housework. I have not done much in the way of yardwork, though the grass has not need cut in over a month. I did do some cleanup but it wasn’t too much. In part I blame the weather (heat mostly) but that’s a cop-out. I have tried to do a few other things around the house, but if you read this blog regularly you know the type of trouble I can get into when attics and insulation are involved.

My time has been taken up by a fury of activities that I engaged in rarely, if ever, in the months leading up to summer.
Video Games. I got an Xbox from a friend and FIFA 07 is slightly addictive, shall we say.
TV. A number of influences have led to this decline but mostly I have to attribute it to my increased access to DVR and HDTV at various people’s home (mannying, SB, and most recently in CT). In spite of this and the former I think my eyesight is holding up.
Soccer. I regularly play pick-up at Georgia Tech at 12:30 (M,W,F,Sat). Here is where my weather excuse fails me, I mean 12:30!!!.
Work. This is not a substantial commitment at the moment but I could use the money. I’m continuing my work with the Emory project I had worked with over the semester. No P-trak, just data this time.

And then there are the random things that come with summer: trips to be made (Providence last weekend), baseball games (5 this week for the visiting Sox and Tigers), and trips to the doctors’ offices (3 offices just this week). Mali had an eye infection after boarding and I fell off my bike. I managed to stay out of the emergency room but went to student health services the next day and was told that I had a slight fracture in my radius. I was then sent to an orthopedist/sports medicine clinic and was told that if it was fractured it was not serious enough for cast, etc. and instead they just drained the fluid from the joint and I was on my way. On a lighter note, it was a wholly surreal experience.

So… from this list I can easily see where more time needs to be devoted and which activities can be cut out. However, that’s only half the problem. I feel like my attitude has also changed in the last few months and I haven’t felt too good about some of the way I’ve acted. In general I offer too little respect to others and too much to myself.

One day I killed a snake that I found while cleaning up in the yard. I justified it as preventing a future attack on Mali, but kept thinking about tales of monks who, while digging foundations for buildings, move the worms they encounter to new dirt. I thought also of times I had captured flies in the house using a cup and a piece of paper so they could be set free later and I wondered what had (has) happened.

Later that same day I volunteered to give a man who was going door-to-door a ride to Autozone. I told him I needed 15 mins to do some things and he was gone when I came out. I found out later it was a scam and it was a good thing I had taken the extra time. I rode around the neighborhood for 20 min trying to find him just so I could verbally assault him as a way of releasing my anger, fear and vulnerability.

Today as Lauren graciously picked me up from the game the car behind her honked and I tried to wave them around her. I went on to respond vulgarly to some of the things he yelled at me and I am not proud of that. And all this only hours (4 hours in the constant 95 degree sun [weather is not an excuse]) after we picked up four out-of-towners who were wearing Tiger’s garb and waiting for a bus that I am not sure would have come or taken them to the game.

Forward will I go, as we all must. Patience, humility, forgiveness, and less video games.

Rage and Clarity

Maybe you’ve heard of the recent letter-bombing campaign in the UK, reminiscent of the US’s own Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski. Some reports have linked the attacks to road rage after three bombs were aimed at motor-vehicle offices this week. There must be a lot of rage pent up to bring someone to the act of building bombs at all, let along such intricate and delicate bombs.

On Wednesday, after putting up my post about the recent renting difficulties we’ve had, I went about my day as expected. I considered that my release of the rage that had been building up in my life. I found that in my next class I felt very relaxed and was able to generate clear and constructive comments during some group work where we critiqued each others work. The rest of the day I found my head filled with creative ideas and useful thoughts. It appeared that my blog had served as an outlet for my anger and that my mind celebrated its release from the shackles of anger. One potential confounder in this whole assessment is that Wednesday marked an emergence for the Atlanta Metro Area from a recent cold spell. The sun shined, coats came off and I was able to take advantage of it with some walking across campus to run my errands.

Nonetheless, my conscience self noticed the marked difference in mood, outlook, and especially cognitive activity that manifested itself during the middle of the day on Wednesday. I attribute it to the combination of the two coincident influences of venting and nice weather. Perhaps the blog, as a modern journal, has a role as a tool for healthy management of the psychosocial – physiological interaction. I’m glad to have it allow me to release without turning to violence, though I can’t give the blog all the credit.

EPILOGUE:
I specifically sectioned out midday Wednesday because later that day I let an unexpected mishap crush me. For the sake of time I will only say that I watched (and heard) my glasses get run over by my own car. Higher highs may make the lows lower.

Hooke Broward

I really want to write about something else, but this issue consumes me. Even the MARTA experience of last night has fled my mind and I am left with one name. Hooke Broward (changed to protect the guilty). It’s a complicated case. “Lotta ins and outs” So please keep up with it.

If you know anything about me, you know that I like to flaunt my knowledge of the word spoonerism. That said, the ordeal of getting out of our old apartment is really wearing on my family. FILA runs away when it’s brought up. We had an agreement with our property manager, Cooper Brown. If we find a renter, we can keep our security deposit, and not pay any extra months. Perfect! We put an add on Craigslist and find a few people who love the place and are asking about moving in during the first week of January. This is a little early for us (we closed on Dec. 29th) but we tried to (and succeeded) to accommodate. We even returned after the initial move out inspection to do the final cleaning step the property manager wanted. This included washing blinds, all the baseboards, and the bath tub (a third time). But we did this so they would not have to hire a cleaning crew and we would get more of our security deposit back.

So we got out of the place ahead of schedule and Hooke Broward could move in when she wanted. As I said, there were a few people interested moving in so you may be wondering how did you choose Hooke Broward. Well, being the honest and forthright people we believe ourselves to be (as I bash someone) we followed non-discriminatory housing practices and treated interested parties based on the order their interest was expressed. Godd Tilliland, I wish we had gone with you.

Hooke kept moving the move-in back. It wasn’t great news but we figured we were only out half of January’s rent. The contact through the property manager – we’ll call him C-Harley – is a real case. He never contacts me and is very waspy (Ben, preach!).

It is now February and later Today I will take a check over to the proerty manager for another month’s rent. Hooke backed out of the lease that C-Harley never got her to sign and Cooper Brown listed the apartment again, at $45/month more than they were going to lease it to anyone we found. Now, we lose our security deposit ($950) because Cooper Brown spends it ALL on ‘marketing’. They list on their website, Craigslist, Creative Loafing, and one other place. This costs $950. (I mean This costs $950?) I want C-Harley’s job. Lauren and I did it for free and had better luck.

Ok, so were out the security deposit and now all of January rent, thanks to Hooke. All told that’s $1,900 but we’ll call it $1,400 giving Hooke two weeks to get her move-in on. C-Harley is ready to use Hooke’s $950 security Deposit check, which Cooper Brown has already cashed, for the February rent. But yesterday he calls me to ask us to write a check for this month. He also needs us to turn on the power and take care of paying for whatever heat and electricity they use (“to keep the pipes from freezing”). What a guy, he finally finds my phone number when he needs money. He tells me that I’ll get it back if they can rent the place before March 1st. At that point they’ll reimburse me with Hooke’s cash. One catch, they don’t know if she’ll come back ad sue them to get that cash back with her lawyer shark sister (whom she lives with and hence is in no hurry to move-in anywhere, even to places she told people she would move into). Her sister signed that letter that said Hooke would not be taking the place and consequently forced C-Harley into the fetal position under his desk.

Now we’re out January (1/2), security deposit, and Feb (maybe). Possibly $2,350 and you may be saying you are an idiot for getting in to this situation. Perhaps you are right. Cooper Brown is trying to rent the place for more than they led us to believe it would go for. If we found a tenant (such as Hooke) they would only pay $950, same as us. Now that they run the show, the price is higher. And why not? They effectively have the place rented with a check from us every month. Damn.

Thanks for letting me get this down and out. Wish us luck.

Hooke Broward, I wish you no physical harm. I did for awhile but now I am past that now. I do wish you exceedingly great misfortune in everything and maybe a retarded kid. I am sorry, eventually I will not be so hateful but as I sign this check I only think of how your one action has created so much trouble for me. If I am missing some information, please contact me to tell me what is going on.

Hold Your Reindeer

To: the tree seller, the radio commercial with Deck the Halls in the background, to Starbucks, Macy’s, and Wallmart, K-mart, K-fed and BrandsMart…

It is not Christmas time yet. It is November 13th. It is before Thanksgiving. Put away the banners, the wire fences around rows of trees, the coffee cups donned with snowflakes. You are a little to early.

I am liking fall, Michigan is about to earn a berth in the national championship game, leaves have turned, the air is crisp. I am thoroughly enjoying my fall and I am not ready for the holidays, nor should I be. Christmas is coming earlier and earlier and I am not sure who gave the go ahead to set things in motion prior to Thanksgiving but I say “bah humbug” to that idea. People are setting up tree farms, selling cards, playing holiday jingles, and changing the color of everything that holds things you buy to read and green. If I see the Salvation Army bell-ringer out front somewhere tomorrow I might lose it. It’s all a little too early and I don’t like it.

Of particular obnoxious holiday spirit worth mention is Starbucks. Their slogan for the season is “on with the tradition.” I’m all for continuing the holiday tradition. I love the vacation, time with family, and gifts, but let’s keep it in December where it’s always been. And I can’t help but read the phrase and feel that Starbucks is claiming some credit for the holiday spirit. Starbucks did not start the tradition nor do they add to the tradition, or signal the beginning of the traditional tradition-celebrating season. All they did was make their cups red, play different music and add a delicious mint hot chocolate late to their menu. Stop claiming Winter, Christmas and the entire holiday season, Starbucks. We’ll still be in there buying your overpriced liquid drug; on with that tradition which hardly ever stops – whether it’s after Thanksgiving or not.

I saw this right after the post…