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Thursday, January 29, 2004

ALMOST FAMOUS

I've had my name in the Kansas State Collegian a couple of times, but that's been for letters to the editor. Well, I've finally made it big and gotten in an actual article...but not for anything too exciting. It's about...well, I'll just let you read it for yourself. It's kind of a fun write-up, anyway. Click here to read the story of the century.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A NOT-SO-SURPRISING ENDING TO A SURPRISING CAMPAIGN

We've been told by the media for a week now that John Kerry was New Hampshire's front-runner, and last nights results weren't surprising considering the media attention that the Kerry campaign had gotten since coming out of Iowa. So the New Hampshire primary is over now, and I can almost guarantee that the media will be ordaining Kerry as the nominee already. That might not be the case, however, though if the media continues to ignore the other candidates and make this strictly a Kerry-Dean race, they can sway the nomination in Kerry's favor.

In 1992, a good ol' boy governor of Arkansas seemed like a longshot for the presidency. He'd never been called the frontrunner, and he came in fourth place in Iowa. His second place finish in New Hampshire made him the "comeback kid", and he went on to win the nomination and the election. Bill Clinton proved that the nation's first caucuses and primaries weren't essential to pulling off a victory, and his success is backed up by several other historical examples. The eventual nominees haven't always done so well in the New Hampshire primary.

In 1952 and 1956, Estes Kefauver won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire but lost the nomination to Adlai Stevenson. His anomalous victory was followed in 1972 by Edmund Muskie, Gary Hart in 1984, and Paul Tsongas in 1992. This year, Dean is still ahead in the delegate count (though that means nothing - there are thousands left to be awarded), and the next round of primaries (Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina) on February 3rd look to be favorable towards a more regional candidate, based on how those states normally vote. This would mean that John Edwards or Wesley Clark, both from the south, could expect to do well in the majority of these states that comprise a band of southern states from coast to coast. North Dakota could be expected to vote much the same way as these southern states, and only Delaware may mimic New Hampshire's results.

That's not to say that Kerry won't win these primaries. He's got a powerful ally in the momentum he'll gain from his win in New Hampshire, but being a true, blue-blooded New Englander, he's got a tougher job in making a positive impact in non-New England states.

Wesley Clark has blown his candidacy, and I'm not entirely sure how. Again, that's not to say that he can't jump back in a do well in upcoming primaries, but remember when this guy was the one that everyone was hailing as the savior of the Democratic party? When he was debating whether or not to run, Democrats urged him on and Republicans feared him. There's a couple of bad things, though, about Clark's candidacy...when you spend your life in the military without being politically active and suddenly decide to become politically active, you're forced to adopt views on issues that you may never have even had an opinion on before. I think that reduces Clark's validity - that and him being an arrogant GI Joe with nothing to talk about but his own military successes.

Sharpton was polling either second or third in South Carolina, depending on who took the poll. He's actually my first choice for a Democratic nominee. Dean could still make a comeback, but the upcoming states probably aren't the most favorable to his more liberal views. If he holds out until the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2nd, he could really make a strong showing there with some of the most liberal, and populous, states. The race is far from over, and just as unpredictable as ever.

Monday, January 26, 2004

NOW THINGS ARE GETTING BUSY

I didn't think it would take too long for my class-involvement to pick up, and I was right. Starting on a Thursday and Friday last week, not even professors were willing to do much beyond handing out a syllabus. Things started to get busier today.

No, K-State didn't have a snow day. I was working the front desk from 7:00 to 9:00 this morning and must have had over a dozen phone calls asking if we were having class. Geez - now I know how my mom feels! Okay, come on people...it was icy yesterday, and yes, a snow day in college is wishful thinking, but that's all it is. K-State hardly ever cancels classes. We missed a day-and-a-half for ice and snow my freshman year, and half-a-day last year, and prior to that, I don't think classes had been cancelled due to winter weather for several years. It wasn't even that bad out this morning. The ice from Sunday probably still was covering peoples' cars if they hadn't gotten out yesterday, but the roads were good, the ice had stopped forming and about an inch or two of snow had fallen. It was cold, but it wasn't "cancel classes" cold. Besides, the groundskeeping crews working around campus had plenty of salt put down, and the steam tunnels that run under campus keep the sidewalks nice and clear.

I've been here at the library working on ethno-American history (Indian history) for the last couple of hours. It's usually nice and quiet on the fourth floor of the library, where the history books are located. But - and this is a question for the ladies - when do women stop being so giggly? A small group of girls are just across the room from where I'm sitting and haven't shut up since they got here. It's pointless to try to move, since inevitably someone is making noise somewhere, but seriously: they remind me of a bunch of eighth-graders.

Just a couple of questions to answer on a study guide and then I think I'll call it a night. I have a bit more that I'd like to get done, but it doesn't have to be done until Wednesday, so I think I'll wait until tomorrow to start on it. I only have one class - an 8:05am - tomorrow, so I've got the whole day to tie up loose ends.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

LAZY SUNDAY

Mom, Dad, and an aunt of mine were planning on coming this afternoon - they were going to go to Mass with me and then we'd go out to eat at the Little Apple Brewery. The ice changed their plans, though, and kept them grounded in Kanopolis. So I haven't done too much today. I don't have much schoolwork yet, so we just played Nintendo and watched TV all day. There wasn't much that could be done anyway because the ice on our cars was so thick. K-State rarely cancels school, but if the mist keeps up, the ice will be darn thick by tomorrow morning and may delay classes.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was supposed to be here tomorrow morning to give the Landon Lecture. I wasn't planning on going, but my 10:30 class was cancelled specifically so we could attend his speech, so I was all set to go. But apparently he won't be coming now because of the ice. Hmmm, in my experience with Landon Lectures, the Republicans are much better about keeping their appointments than Democrats. Now that's not a commentary on anything, just an innocent observation!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

GETTING BUSY AGAIN

As busy as the mural and work kept me, it can't quite compare to being back on a regular schedule again. I had two classes on Thursday: Modern Political Thought and International Conflict. Political Thought is at 8:05am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and International Conflict is from 5:30 to 8:20pm on Thursday nights. Friday it was Political Inquiry and Analysis at 10:30am, helping with the History of Rome at 1:30 and Indians of North America at 3:30. Getting books and becoming familiar with a new schedule has kept me on the go. Lots of interesting reading for these classes this semester - I have 18 books to get through. That isn't quite as bad as it sounds. A lot of people will pay $400 or $500 for just a few books, but 17 of my 18 are paperback, so that helps keep the cost down. Good thing, too - I can't imagine paying $70 or $80 per book for that many books. Double majoring in History and Political Science definitely provides me with a full reading list.

We're going bowling here in a bit, just for something to do, and we'll probably watch "Pirates of the Caribbean" later on tonight. We're relaxing a little before our first full week of classes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

STATE OF THE UNION

I thought the President did a very good job delivering the State of the Union. I've never been impressed with George Bush as a speaker - he's slow, simple, and choppy most generally. But with everything he's ever delivered in front of Congress, he's done really well. Last night was no different. This was really Bush's "kicking off the campaign" speech, as it defended some of the decisions that he's made and outlined some of his visions for the future. The War on Terrorism and Iraq covered the most ground - I'd estimate slightly more than half of his speech.

Bush did a good job justifying his foreign wars. Here's my favorite line of the night: "Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands -- (applause) -- Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. (Applause.) As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices."

I think that highlights an important part of our wars that the media and the Democrats forget - and probably want you to forget. Because a few prominent nations like France and Germany don't fall in line, the media and anti-Bush politicians adequately painted the war as a unilateral action. Though the UN hadn't given the green light, the US pushed forward and 34 other nations have joined us. The average person on the street wouldn't be able to name even one US ally, because their roles have been demeaned through media coverage. And, until now, the Bush Administration really hadn't defended the international support that they actually had.

The war was more than adequately explained, despite the constant head shaking coming from Ted Kennedy. You know, I don't know why some legislators make the faces that they do, considering the cameras are on them. It reminds me of Al Gore getting huffy during the first debate in 2000 - as I recall, people didn't respond well to that. That's one thing that voters notice, despite its probable irrelevance...if a politician or a candidate is intensely negative, a person won't vote for them, regardless of where they stand on issues.

Bush glossed over a lot of other issues which I won't cover right now - they'll be more adequately explained by him and me once his campaign gets rolling. He did talk of the economy, and he's certainly put the Democrats in a bad spot. Bush's across-the-board tax cuts were passed in 2001, but they're now set to expire. Not many Democrats originally supported the tax cuts, and with campaign season here, every issue is politicized all the more, so most Democrats are willing to let the cuts expire. BUT, either way, Bush wins. If Congress votes to keep the cuts, the cuts will still be reflected in the future for American families and the middle class. But if Democrats succeed in letting the cuts expire, everyone loses the tax breaks that were afforded to them in 2001. The Dems are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If the cuts are kept, Congressional Republicans goaded on by the President come out looking good. If they aren't kept, Democrats can be held to blame.

The State of the Union has kicked off the real campaign season between Republicans and Democrats, and issues and differences between the two parties are going to start to be highlighted. If Kerry keeps his momentum and is nominated, I think the election season could be quite interesting, though I think this election situation will be on Bush's side. The wars are successful so far and can be explained as legitimate, the economy is growing, Bush has the electorate in terms of electoral votes on his side, he's from the south (whereas Kerry, Dean, and Lieberman are from New England, which has a difficult time producing Presidents in the modern political climate - they're seen as elitist and out-of-touch), and the Republican National Convention, held after the Democratic Convention, generally gives candidates a huge boost. Barring any complete screw-ups, I still think Bush can be easily re-elected.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

MURAL PICTURES

Click here for some pictures of the mural. As you work you way down the page, the painting progresses bit by bit. I'll try to have some pictures of the concept art and sketch work soon.

DOLING OUT ADVICE

It wasn't really advice, but Gen. Wesley Clark briefly appeared on Larry King Live tonight via satellite and talked with King's guest, Bob Dole. Clark is an arrogant person that I don't like to hear talk; he's the one Democratic candidate that talks the least about what he stands for, yet he could talk all day about his accomplishments. He went on endlessly about his experiences in war and how that makes him ready for the Oval Office...he even had the nerve to say that he's the only candidate with foreign policy experience. I guess that Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, Mosley-Braun, Kucinich, and Edward's experience working in Congress doesn't count...only 4-stars who have led an army in to battle know anything about foreign policy.

When I really got turned off with Clark was when he proceeded (through a war-to-presidency analogy, of course) to tell Bob Dole how difficult war is. Perhaps while Clark has been busy out fighting all of these good fights, he missed hearing who Bob Dole is and what he's done for his country. Dole received a crippling wound for his service, and all Clark got was an enormous ego. I've never quite seen a presidential candidate go on and on about themselves like he did...it was quite a turn off.

My Roman history professor, Dr. Wilcoxon, has had students from several generations. Being 90 years old now, many of his students are now retired themselves. He told me of one student that he still keeps in contact with. This student was a major when Wesley Clark was a captain, and Clark had served under him. When Dr. Wilcoxon asked what he thought of Clark, he told my professor that no one is quite so arrogant and smug as Wesley Clark, and that he liked to blow his own horn more than anything else. Hopefully the political ranks don't function like military ones, and Clark will be discharged from the primaries. He seems like a very disagreeable person.

GRANDPA BUD

I never got to know my Grandpa Manning. His name was Clarence, but I've always known the family to refer to him as "Bud". He was a race car driver and a pilot, but beyond that, I've never even known much about him. That's my fault - I've never asked anything about him. Just yesterday, though, my interest in the grandparent I never knew was peaked a bit. My dad forwarded a website to me today that has some information about my grandpa's racing career. Click here to read it. Interesting stuff...and there's not much to that car, either, is there?

IT'S DONE

The mural is finished. The tape is peeled off of the baseboard and the paintbrushes washed and stashed away with the paint cart, which has been hidden from view. The tarp that protected the carpet is folded up and the lobby furniture moved back into place. My signature was added to the bottom of the wall around 1:30 this morning. Sorry, no pictures yet.

This has been quite a project, and I ran it right down to the wire. In just under seven hours, people will be moving back up to the 9th floor, and happily I can say that my work is done. I really didn't want to be working on the wall with people moving back in; plus, I don't think you get quite the same effect if people get to watch you create a painting. If they watch you paint, they get used to it, and if you make it look easy, they assume that it is. This way, people will be blasted with a finished painting when they step off of the elevators - this way, there's no way they can offer suggestions or criticisms while I'm working...it's there, and I think it has a much bigger "shock factor" when someone can see a final product instead of a work-in-progress.

I did take a few minutes of break today to check the results of the Iowa caucuses. I've said before that politics is unpredictable, and I never would have predicted (even just a few hours ago) that John Kerry would win, especially by as large of a margin as he did. I attribute his victory to a couple of factors. First off, Dean and Gephardt had been tearing at each other for over a week now, and that seemed to turn the undecided voters off. Dean and Gephardt even began losing points in polls, and that 13 to 20% of undecided voters went for candidates that were presenting a bit more of a positive message: John Kerry and John Edwards. Dean stayed fairly strong, retaining most of the support that the polls showed him as having, but Dickie lost big. This was his must-win state, and it looks like he'll be dropping his bid for President, now.

Of course these victories and defeats in Iowa don't mean too much. New Hampshire, though certainly watching the caucuses, has never been truly swayed by their results. Howard Dean has looked incredibly strong by the numbers in New Hampshire, and two more strong candidates - Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark (neither of whom participated in Iowa) - will be joining the fray. Kerry's strong victory is indeed surprising to me and about 99% of other political junkies...only Bob Woodward picked him to win in Iowa, and even he admitted that was a flying leap of a prediction.

This could be a very interesting primary season. With so many running and so many looking strong in different parts of the country, it may take nearly the full round of primaries to decide who'll face George Bush in November. Kerry's victory has for sure thrown a wrench into the well-oiled Dean machine, which seems to be irking voters because of crankiness and just plain aloofness.

After the painting was finished, I was starving. The good thing about being in a college town is that places are open very late. Leah and I ordered pizza at 2:30, which is an incredibly nice option to have. Otherwise, I'd be eating candy bars or some other kind of leftover that's laying around. I've got to clean the room, now, but I think I'll just push things out of the way until later. I'm not sure when LJ will get in, but I'll probably have the room spotless by then...just in time to get it dirty again!

Monday, January 19, 2004

NEARING COMPLETION

I think there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel with this mural...the problem is that I'm so darn tired that I don't know if I've got the energy to reach it. Well, of course I do, but this cityscape scene has really taken it out of me. But it's almost done. A bit of edging around some windows on a building, a black edge around the big penthouse windows, and the words are all I have left to do. I guess filling in the billboards on the buildings is still on the menu, too, so I've got my work cut out for me today.

Saturday and Sunday morning were spent working on the big cityscape background which consists of the outline of a lot of big skyscrapers. They were painted black, edged in white, and dotted with hundreds of tiny yellow windows, and looked really good when they were done. Then I had to start on the foreground buildings, which have occupied me until now. I'm finally just about done with the main artwork of the mural, and I've got the bags under my eyes to prove it.

I decided against watching a movie Saturday night and spent all night and all Sunday morning until 7:00am painting the skyline. I was extremely tired and thought that I should get a bit of rest before my work started to suffer. I ran out to Bob's diner and had chicken fried steak and eggs for breakfast and then slept for about four hours. Then it was back to painting. Leah came up around 2:30 and told me she was going to Topeka to go shopping, which apparently meant that I had to go, too. Luckily enough she ran into one of her other friends who wanted to go shopping, too, so I got out of that trip since somebody could ride shotgun instead of me.

I painted for a bit and took a little nap before starting on the buildings again. Ben's girlfriend Kim had come back into Manhattan yesterday, and they were making chili for supper, so I got away with a free meal again. They both wanted to see the painting and came over afterwards and ended up keeping me company until about 1:30 this morning. I've been painting ever since, and I can finally say that this project is coming to an end. I'm amazed that I've had the patience to make it this far - it's really slow going. I think it's me wanting to see it finished that has kept me persistent at it, so far. Anyway, I should have some pictures, soon, I hope.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

FENDER BENDER

So I was on my way to Kansas City to pick up someone from the airport, not even out of Manhattan yet, and I managed to smack right into another car. I couldn't believe it...I've never done that before, never even had a ticket for speeding before, and I got careless and got into an accident. And it was my fault, too. I'd been stopped by every single stoplight on the way to Highway 18 and was getting impatient with them, and I suppose I was in a bit of a hurry, too. Well, I swear that last stoplight before you turn onto the highway was invisible...I didn't even see it until a car started to pull across the intersection. While I was slamming on the brakes, I glanced up and thought "CRAP!" (actually, I thought much worse things), because I had a red light.

I did get slowed down to about 15 or 20 before I hit them, and they weren't very far into the intersection. We both pulled over and started exchanging information and surveyed the damage. Their car's left-front blinker was out, the headlight smashed up, and the section of bumper and hood around the headlight casing was all crunched up. My car: barely a scratch. I can tell that the hood is bent just slightly and there's some small scuff marks around the right-front headlight, but other than that, the Bushcheney-mobile (or just Bushcheney, or BC, affectionately named by friends because of the Bush-Cheney tag that once adorned the front) proved that it's a tough beast.

The folks I'd hit were from Lawrence and on their way to Salina with a brief stop in Manhattan at the Beach Museum. I felt terrible about it, but they, an older couple in their 70's, were both really nice about the whole situation. We got all of our information exchanged and first aid applied (Jack, the passenger, had cut his hand while poking around the headlight) before the RCPD arrived. Doing the police report was what took so long - the accident happened at around 2:45pm, and I didn't leave the scene until 3:30. We explained the situation, and after the officer ran our information, Jack and Ann were free to go.

I didn't get off quite that easily, though. Since I'd been a good, honest person and told the truth about what had happened, I got issued a $120 ticket for running the light. Okay, I can't blame the officer for issuing it...that's his job. But I've thought about it tonight, and I am going to go to court and contest it. There is no question that I was in the wrong, but I think my driving record and how we handled this situation lends a little credence to me thinking that a $120 citation isn't necessary. By my age, most people have had a speeding ticket or some kind of traffic violation. Many have been in accidents. I haven't been, and I think that making it to 21 without some kind of violation is pretty darn good. I was actually proud that I'd had no wrecks or tickets.

And then when I actually am in an accident, myself and the other parties involved handled practically everything ourselves. We made sure that everyone was alright, looked over each other's cars, exchanged necessary insurance and contact information, and helped each other out - Jack and Ann didn't have anything to deal with his cut, so I broke into my first aid kit and provided him with a towel to wipe off with and band-aids. I could have even lied to the officer about who was at fault, since, at first, Ann seemed to think that the light had maybe changed on her. But I set them straight and took the blame, which was rightly mine.

So I think that I've maybe got something in that. I'm not sure how much a judge can deviate from what is written down on the ticket or if warnings can be issued for moving violations like running a light, but I do think a warning would be more appropriate here. You might be thinking, "you just want a warning so you can get off without paying." Well, duh. I don't really need a $120 bill, and I think I'm already paying for it - I feel extremely bad for it happening in the first place, and I'm positive that insurance will go up, now. We'll just have to see - my court date is on February 5th.

The important thing is that no one got hurt, and I am glad that my car came out of the mess nearly unscathed. The BC has been a good, tough little car. I drove it all through high school, and Mom and Dad sold it too me in 2001 before I came up to KSU. Very few things have ever gone wrong with it - it's needed one new battery, a new alternator, a front-end alignment, and had a coolant leak once. Not too bad for a car that's 11 years old. I've taken BC through the ringer, too. I've put almost 35,000 miles on it since I started driving it in 1998. It's been all over the state (and a couple of other states, too) going to football games and other places. It got dumped in a hole a few years ago and had to be towed out. It's sat in the sun for three years in a KSU parking lot, and now BC gets driven right into another car. But it held up well and made the trip to KC just fine.

I ended up being 45 minutes late to the airport. Nate's flight was on time, so he'd sat for a while, but I'd used Jack and Ann's cellphone to call Eric at the front desk and have him get a hold of Nate's parents, who in turn let Nate know. (My phone is sitting out in the boonies at LJ's house where I left it last week.) So he knew I was going to be late, and we made good time getting back. We, of course, got back later than anticipated, and when I got back, Leah asked if I'd gotten lost. I don't think she actually expected me to say that something bad had happened, but she didn't believe me till I handed her a broken reflector piece that I'd kept as a souvenir.

Now I'm just in the mood to relax. I thought maybe I'd get a bit of painting done tonight, but I don't work at the desk again before school starts, so I've got all day tomorrow and Monday to finish up. I think that Leah and I are going to take a trip to Blockbuster and get a movie - she wants "Santa Clause 2" and I'm thinking the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" movie...that's where the three guys watch an old sci-fi movie and make fun of it. But I'm guessing that I'll be watching "Santa Clause" tonight.

ADVENTURES IN AGGIEVILLE

Well, I'd planned on doing a bit more painting after having a couple of drinks and relaxing in Aggieville last night. That didn't happen. Fortunately, the painting is still sitting here waiting for me, so I'll be able to tackle the rest of it tonight.

Going to Aggieville was a good idea, since I think we all needed a break. That sounds funny, since we are on winter break right now, but those of us who went have been busy. Stephen, Lari, Ben, AJ, and I stopped at O'Malley's first for a carrot cake shot. It's made from one part Hot Damn and two parts McCormick's (I think that's Irish Cream), and it tastes exactly like carrot cake. Then, on to Rusty's for a big red beer. That's beer with tomato juice in it, for those of you who don't know, and I like mine with some salt, pepper, and tobasco in it. The 32 ouncers at Rusty's are pretty cheap, and Ben was buying this round anyway.

After that, everyone was in a buying mood, and I got served with a glass of Jack Daniels, a shot of Jagermeister, and a "birthday shot" from Stephen. Jack is decent and Jager is good (tastes like black licorice), but the birthday shot was half tequila and half tobasco. Not good at all.

We ended the night at Fats, where everybody had a "fishbowl", which is a fruity 32 ounce drink that has lots of stuff in it - rum is just one of the ingredients that I know. We topped it all off with a shot of Jager (again) and then stumbled back to the dorms. Luckily, the dorms are just a few blocks from Aggieville, so walking there and back wasn't a problem.

Today, I've got to pick up a fellow front desk worker from Kansas City. He lives in Ohio and is flying in at 5:00pm. He doesn't have a car, so he asked me if I'd be willing to pick him up. I think that Leah and I will probably watch a movie later tonight after dinner, and then it'll be back to painting!

Friday, January 16, 2004

TOO MUCH GOING ON

My day started about 10:00 this morning, and that was much earlier than I'd have liked. I didn't get to bed until 5:30, and just four-and-a-half hours later, the fire alarms are blaring. During breaks, the maintenance crews test sprinklers, fire alarms, etc. - they generally do anything that they can't do with the entire student body on campus. There are only about two dozen people in Moore Hall right now, and their sleeping habits are not taken into account!

See, the fire alarms usually don't bother me. It's a loud siren and a voice warning of an emergency, but two years ago when the new sprinkler systems were put in, the sirens and speakers on the 9th floor were covered up by lowered ceiling tile. Though it's sure a bit dangerous, the alarm was so muffled that I could usually sleep right through it. That's okay, since every fire alarm this year has been either some smoky popcorn setting it off or some dumb@$$ pulling the switch for the fun of it. Moore Hall has had on the order of 15 false alarms.

Today's alarm, however, was testing the system...a new acoustic mix to make sure that those 9th floor residents get their butts out of bed. So at 10:00 this morning, not only do the sirens start, but the smoke detector in my room - now linked with the system of the whole hall - lets off the most shrill and highest pitched whistle that I think it's possible for humans to hear. While I'm trying to calm down from a near-heart attack, the system is tested several more times. By using our in-room detectors as alarms as well, maintenance not only ensures that we'll get out of bed, but also that we'll be sent scrambling from the hall as quickly as possible to get away from that God-awful noise.

It's probably a good thing that I was rousted out of bed when I was, though. That let me get a semi-early start on what I was needed to do today. Yesterday, Larissa called me at 10:00 to ask if I'd give a tour of the hall, so right now I'm running on very little sleep. BUT, at least I didn't sleep till 3:00 in the afternoon, right? After I cleaned up a bit (the bed was fine, even though that fire alarm almost scared the crap out of me), I sat at the front desk and BSed with Lari until about noon. I got a bit of painting done this afternoon: the radio tower and mirrored building painted with my chrome spray paint. Then, I had to drop everything because...Leah came back! I went to her room on the second floor and helped her move some of her stuff around. She's the RA on the second floor, and her roommate left at semester, so now she's got a room to herself, which she's ecstatic about.

We rearranged for about an hour, and then it was off to the Baptist Student Center to help Ben move in there. The BSC has apartments in it, and Ben is returning to KSU after a year off. He's getting a good deal there, and the place he's got seems really nice. We got his stuff moved in there, which didn't take long, and then it was off to the mall to get my hair cut.

I stopped at Pier One Imports before I went to MasterCuts. Andrea works there, and I thought I'd see if she was around since I hadn't seen her for probably over a year. She was there, and we ended up talking for about a half hour. I ran back in to the mall, set up my appointment with Sarah, browsed the bookstore for a while, and then had about 20 pounds of hair cut off. Sarah did a great job again, and I'm sure Mom will be pleased. (If my hair gets much over half-an-inch long, she starts calling me "hippie" and "Liberal Pinko Commie B@$t@rd". Oh, the abuse...why do you think I came back to KSU early?)

I'll have to go to work here before too long, and afterwards, Stephen, Larissa, and I are going to Gumby's in Aggieville where there's a live band tonight. Ben's going to join us, and I think we all deserve a little break. Stephen and Lari have been here almost the entire break, Ben's been moving in all day, and I've been working pretty hard on the mural. So, a night off can't hurt, can it? I've got most of tomorrow, and all day Sunday and Monday to get it finished up before people start moving back in on Tuesday. By then, my signature (always the last addition to any piece of artwork) should be painted on the wall along with everything else.

WORKING THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT

It's nearly 5:00am, and I'm thinking about turning in for the night. Sure, it's been a long night, but I got a lot done on the painting. This afternoon, I finished the couch and got the moon (outside of the penthouse window) all painted. After work at the front desk at 10:00pm, I started on the sky...and there's a lot of sky. It took two heavy coats of a deep midnight blue, and then, of course, edging around all of the more detailed areas. Then, stars were added, and finally, a touch of glow-in-the-dark paint dotted on each star. I'd still like to get one more tiny detail put on before I go to bed, but I'm in my room looking for a plastic cup to mix some new paint in. I'm not in the mood to clean up a new one, and the spray paint that I'm using for this particular detail (radio tower) eats right through styrofoam. So, looks like I'm finished for the night. There'll be plenty of time to finish that, and hopefully the cityscape, tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

DEMOCRATIC HABITS

Democrats (especially lately) seem to have a strange habit of hypocrisy. Wesley Clark seems to have changed his positions on Iraq, the Bush administration, and a whole other slew of issues. Whether he actually has or not, Howard Dean is accused by opponents of changing his mind too often, and comments that he made before he put his hat in the Presidential ring seemed to predict an easy Bush victory in 2004, especially if Democrats don't run positive campaigns. He's certainly changed his tune on both of those things.

The Possumblog today featured some opposing quotes from none other than former-Vice President Al Gore and his thoughts on Mars. To avoid taking any of the info directly from Mr. Oglesby's site, just click here and you'll arrive at his blog, complete with Al Gore being a complete hypocrite about going to Mars. It seems candidate Gore thought it was a great idea, but statesman/retired/ex-VP/loser Gore thinks it's a horrible idea...what with it being Bush's plan, and all. Well, geez, all this time I thought Gore was a technocrat!

BARELY BIASED

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released today was bad news for Democrats across the board. In the poll, President Bush is whupping any theoretical Democratic challenger by between 17 and 21-percentage points. It's still way too early to put much faith in those numbers, since Democrats will likely rally behind their nominee once he is chosen and bolster his overall support, but they should worry Democratic strategists just a little bit.

What I thought was interesting, though, is that the poll released through MSNBC had a title that would lead you to believe that Bush's support is much lower than the numbers actually showed. Here's the article, with its obviously biased title: Barely half say Bush should be re-elected.

Barely half?! What the heck kind of title is that!? The word "barely" is not a word that is usually taken as a positive thing. Alright, a miniscule part of most match-up polls includes the question "Does the President deserve to be re-elected?" In this poll, 51% said yes and 42% said no. I'm not quite sure how those numbers worked, since Bush garnered 54% of a possible match-up against Dean and fared even better against Clark, Kerry, and Gephardt. So the title was true, but I just wonder why it was worded the way it was. It could have been many different things: "Over half say Bush should be re-elected", "Barely one-third would vote for Dean", or "Bush to throttle all Dems in '04". Yeah, those are all biased in the other direction, but why doesn't NBC think of something more neutral to title their articles? Something like, "Bush still ahead in early match-ups" would suffice - it reflects the meat and potatoes of the poll, which was that the Democrats are, on average, nearly 20 points behind, yet states that the poll is early and that much can still happen in the next 11 months. And things can happen - remember Ross Perot's early support in 1992, or George W. Bush's near-20 point lead over Al Gore in early August 2000. Anything in politics is possible.

ART CLASS

Besides the few students that are here in Moore, throughout the day, our cleaning crew is here as well. There are five great ladies that pick up after all of us kids, and Andy, our maintenance guy, keeps literally everything running - electricity, heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and more. Andy and the ladies have kept me company off and on this week in the afternoons while I'm working on the painting.

I was in my room looking for a Powercat to blow up on the overhead projector, and when I returned to the lobby, three of the ladies were gathered around my work-in-progress. They said they were there for art class, and they all thought it was quite a crime when I told them that my major wasn't art, but history and political science!

BEING PRESIDENT TAKES BRAINS, NOT BRAUN

Carol Mosley-Braun, that is. Today, the one-term Senator from Illinois ended her bid for the presidency, just four days before the Iowa caucuses. Although her Senate career ended somewhat disgracefully in 1998 because of fundraising questions and various other questionable things that she'd done, don't shed too many tears for her. After her departure from the legislature, President Clinton appointed her as Ambassador to New Zealand, and though her presidential campaign never got off the ground, it's done quite a bit to redeem her in the eyes of many.

I was rather impressed how Mosley-Braun carried herself in this campaign. As the only woman running for the Democratic nomination, she could have easily turned debates into a liberal cloud of women's issues - but she didn't. As one of the two blacks running, she could have turned every issue into a major controversy by playing the race card - but she didn't. In fact, she chastised Al Sharpton for focusing too much on race while not offering any solutions, only anger and quarreling.

Now, Sen. Mosley-Braun has endorsed the very candidate that Al Sharpton was attacking as being racially insensitive - Howard Dean. Dean seems to be on fire, picking up endorsements from Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Tom Harkin, and now, Mosley-Braun. Will her support matter much? Most analysts are saying that it won't, since her support never swelled much beyond the 3 to 4% range. But I think that she'll have more of an effect on Dean's campaign than just a token endorsement. Mosley-Braun herself had been endorsed by several women's groups, including the NOW. While her backing of Howard Dean doesn't necessarily mean that these groups will transfer their support to him as well, I think that it's a pretty good indicator of where some of that 3 to 4% will go.

So now the field of nine candidates has been trimmed down to a manageable eight just in time for the caucuses. I made a general election prediction a couple of weeks ago, so I might as well go ahead and make a prediction about the Iowa caucuses...Dean will win, followed by a win in New Hampshire, and then the entire nomination will soon follow. Clark won't be able to pull up to Dean's numbers since Dean has, for the last several days, run an effective campaign against him, labeling him a Republican. No way any self-respecting Democrat can vote for Clark, now!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

TROUBLE WITH BLOGGER

I'm not sure how it happened, but blogger was having some issues a bit earlier. The post about Bono and the FCC was written earlier this evening, but it had to be deleted and republished due to some weird issues with the frames. I didn't quite understand what happened, and though I could have if I looked around the code for a bit, I didn't want to. Everything did work itself out, though, and all I lost were my links. I'll put those in again later on.

BAD BONO

This story caught my interest this evening. Apparently during last year's Golden Globe awards, U2 lead singer Bono said - on the air - "this is really, really, f------ brilliant." I'm not sure what he was talking about...perhaps something shiny caught his eye, but regardless, it was completely unnecessary to say it on live TV, and NBC (network of the Golden Globes) needed to be held somewhat responsible. I know that their control over what one says on live television is limited, but I believe that most live programs are delayed by five or six seconds so a censor can slam on the "bleep" button if someone tears off on a cursing tirade.

Bono can hardly be held responsible for this, even though he said it. NBC is the one that gave him the stage and the air time. But did the FCC punish them for airing this during the "no indecency" period from 6:00am to 10:00pm? Nope, an FCC board ruled that the word wasn't obscene. Here's why: "The performer used the word ... as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation," and not to describe sex. WHAT!? Are you telling me that the severity of the word depends on the context it's used in and whether it's a noun, verb, or adjective!?

I'll buy that for some words, but not for this one. The FCC's decision to declare the f-word not obscene is over the top. Now the FCC Chairman is seeking to overturn the board's decision, and more power to him.

This little incident just further shows how mindless, pointless, and idiotic 99% of television has become. It's alright to swear like a sailor because that's the direction that our culture has taken. We're so desensitized to sex and violence that we don't even notice when it's on TV anymore, which, by the way, is all the time. Television has turned into the 21st century equivalent of Roman gladiatorial combat - violent, uncensored, and made solely to satisfy the appetites of the audience. Gladiatorial sports were banned because of their violent nature, but what's the difference in seeing simulated murder and crime on TV? I know - you can sit inside and keep cool with TV. Don't get me wrong - I'm not anti-television, since I have plenty of pointless, violent, and crude things that are on my veiwing schedule, but I do recognize the absurdity of it all.

Not even the news can escape this pointlessness. I took a few minutes for a break from painting today, so I turned the TV on to Headline News, hoping to catch something interesting and worthwhile. Instead, I got all the latest about Pete Rose's gambling problem, and then marveled as two adult newscasters giggled like 7th grade girls over the "worst dressed list". Thank God for C-Span...

DINNER WITHOUT THE DERB

Since the residence halls don't officially open until next Tuesday, our dining center, Derby (henceforth called the Derb) won't be open until then, either. So for the last several days, I've been on my own for food. I've got plenty of meal money (thanks Mom and Dad), but after a couple of days, I just get tired of deciding which fast food place I'm going next. That doesn't stop me from eating at those places, but there's only so much McDonalds/Burger King/Wendy's that a person can stand.

For the past several nights, two of my good friends, Stephen and Larissa, have been cooking. They have both been here at Moore for the majority of break. In fact, I think they were only gone for about four days. They both came back to work, and Stephen is taking an intersession class, as well. They've been shopping several times, picking up various things to make different meals, and they've been nice enough to feed me for the last three days. I told them I feel bad taking their food - I'm always at the desk working when they go shopping and when they cook, but they said not to worry and have given me plenty to eat recently.

As a side note, both Stephen and Larissa were lucky enough to see the great city of Kanopolis a couple of months ago. They rode along with me and LJ to eat at Orozco's.

DUST IN THE WIND

From everything I've read and heard, the windfarm debate that is sweeping Ellsworth County (and various other counties in Kansas) seems to be leaning heavily in favor of the....hmmmm, what's a good name....the anti-wind camp. The strongest evidence against windfarms for me is their imposing presence over beautiful and natural territory. I've been told that they can be seen from an incredible distance - something like 35 miles - and they tower well over 200 feet in the air, and some of the larger turbines can reach heights of well over 300 feet.
In keeping with my civic duty, I'm providing links to a couple of websites that I've come upon - the first is anti-wind, the second is pro-wind. They're both sites pertaining to European windfarms, but especially some of the articles on the anti-wind site may prove interesting to some of you. The pro-wind site, for me, was just more of a reference on how these big monsters work. I haven't had too much time to look through either site, so let me know if they're worthwhile.

* Wind-Farm.org

* WindPower.org

FROM ONE INHOSPITABLE DESERT TO ANOTHER

Will the President's fascination with invasion never end? First Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now George Bush has got his sights set on the entire planet of Mars. All of these treks have been (and will be) huge military, techological, and monetary exercises, but come on, Mr. President - couldn't we find some nicer places to take over? Rough sand, sharp rocks, and cratered landscapes don't exactly equal tourist attractions.

Seriously, though, it appears that the administration has taken a sudden, keen interest in space exploration. The proposed missions include return visits to the moon, establishing a base on the moon, and then launching new space missions from the moon towards the unexplored depths of the solar system, but most likely in the direction of Mars. With bases and colonies in mind, missions to each successive interstellar body will lead to further missions down the road until we've planted our flag on one of the icy moons of Jupiter. Beyond that, there's really no point in traveling any further if we are using modern craft at modern speeds. Since you can't land on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune, and Pluto's value is questionable, simple probes headed for these outer planets will surely suffice for what the Bush administration has planned.

But what exactly do they have planned? One main concern is the cost of such lofty ambitions. The Space Shuttle program is scheduled to be phased out, our obligations to the International Space Station met and then abandoned, and - here's the really good part - once a simple base/launching area is set up on the Moon, the cost of launching new missions from there would be dramatically lower for one reason: gravity. Gravity on the moon is 1/6 of what it is here on Earth, so it doesn't take nearly as much fuel or power to break free of the moon's pull.

Beyond manned missions to the unknown Martian landscape, however, I don't know what the Bush administration or NASA could have planned. Obviously, sending a manned mission would be infinitely more valuable than the golf cart-mounted cameras that we've been using lately. You see, on average (and depending on Mars position in relation to us) it takes about 20 minutes for a signal to get from planet to planet. So if the little rovers that we've got exploring Mars were to go too fast, bad things could happen. A monitoring NASA scientist may notice that the rover is headed for a scar in the landscape that dwarfs the Grand Canyon...by the time he sees this, the data is already 20 minutes old. If he frantically types in an order for the robotic explorer to stop moving toward the ravine, that order will take 20 minutes to arrive. So nearly an hour passes, and by the time the signal to halt reaches the Mars explorer, it's already dumped itself over the edge of a cliff. (There's another exciting prospect of a moon base - it could serve as a relay station to provide quicker communication between Earth and Mars.)

So without a doubt, manned missions to Mars would provide a plethora of information that these robots, satellites, and probes can't get, most importantly of which is: is there water on Mars? If so, colonies could be built, and - looking far into the future - terraforming can begin. Whereas most of the Earth's atmosphere is nitrogen and oxygen, Mars' is made up of mainly carbon dioxide. Plants, of course, need carbon dioxide to survive. Based on surface area, the Earth is 0.0003% carbon dioxide, and Mars (if it were the size of Earth, which it isn't) has 0.009% carbon dioxide. The smaller planet of Mars has a much higher level of carbon dioxide than Earth, so theoretically, it could support plant life.

If plants were present and surviving on Mars, they would begin to put off their waste product, which is oxygen. If, over time, enough oxygen is pumped into Mars' atmosphere, it could possibly produce an atmosphere that we could breath. That's one way of terraforming, and nuclear bombardment is the other. If we nuked Mars with enough force, it would start a nuclear winter which would shroud the planet in a nuclear fog, starting a rapid greenhouse effect - or so I understand. Volcanoes serve much the same purpose on Earth, though their effects are spread over time and no single blast has the effect of an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

There are logistics problems with terraforming. Plants would take thousands of years to produce much of an effect in Mars' atmosphere, and once you get them there, there's the big problem of water, sun, and climate. Mars has no running, liquid water that we know of, the sun is another 40 million miles further than it is from the Earth, and thus, Mars is cold. It can get up to 55 degrees there, but it can also reach -200! Nuking an entire planet is probably out of the question, and the stability of Mars' atmosphere is in question anyway. Many doubt that it has enough gravity to hold on to much of an atmosphere at all, which is why its atmosphere is currently 1/1000th of what Earth's is.

Though I don't think they've discovered oil in space yet, mining Mars or the asteroid belt is a distinct possibility as well. If a base were placed on the moon, it's reasonable to assume that one would be placed on Mars, too. From Mars, it's just a short jaunt (well, at least 100 million miles to the closest ones) to the asteroid belt, which is rich in metals. The possibilities of new discoveries in space are exciting, to say the least, and these unexplored regions may benefit us with new sources of energy, materials, or further exploration.

And exploration, maybe, is the real reason that the Bush administration is lining up this new space travel agenda. I've always been very interested in space and exploration, and I thought way back in 2001 that it would have been smart of George Bush to make a sort of "Kennedy declaration" like JFK did in 1961. He stated his goal of having a man on the moon within ten years, and I think Bush could have done the same with Mars. He's a few years late in getting his interstellar agenda together, but I think it's a step in the right direction. And maybe exploration is the real reason for these proposed journeys - after all, a lot of people climb mountains because they're there. Maybe we don't need a better reason to go to Mars.

UP LATE WITH THE FINISHING TOUCHES

The mural isn't finished yet - it's actually far from being all the way done, but I think I've got the most complicated part out of the way right now. Willie is all finished, which hopefully means that I won't be going back to that part of the wall with a paintbrush fidgeting around with little details. He's finished, down to his purple and silver robe, his blue-and-white stripped pajamas, and the snowglobe of Moore Hall in his hand.

I thought originally that the big window and the skyline outside of it would be the hardest part to paint. It still may prove challenging, but since Willie is obviously the focal point of the painting, he had to be the most detailed, down to the snowflakes in the snowglobe and the bright silver "W" on the chest of his robe. And it all came out quite nicely.

Like any perfectionist artist, I've spent several minutes standing idle in the lobby staring at what I've just spent the last two days working on. I've been at Willie for probably 15 hours over the last couple of days, and I wasn't going to be satisfied until he looked right. He's right now, so tomorrow I'll move on to his big velvet couch that is sitting on the other side of the window in the "penthouse". The window itself will be the last thing that I work on, except for the odds and ends, like the "Welcome to the Penthouse" sign above the artwork and the tiny details on the buildings featured in the skyline.

I've never worked with paint before, so this is a new and exciting experience that I'm happy to report is coming along fine. Maintenance only provides the painters with primary colors, so I've been responsible for mixing my own unique colors. They've really turned out well. For the lining on Willie's robe, I wanted a metallic silver, but of course they don't make a semi-gloss like that. I just picked up a can of silver spray paint, then, and sprayed it into a cup. Once enough was sprayed in, there was a considerable amount of liquid that worked perfectly with a brush.

This whole project is a lot of work, but I'm having a blast doing it, too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

IT'S A WONDER HE'S MADE IT THIS FAR

Possumblog got me turned on to this story about Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. It's short, funny, and definitely worth taking a look at!

Kucinich Uses Pie Chart In Radio Debate

PREPARE TO BE OFFENDED...

...if you visit this website, that is. The Onion is a fake newspaper that jokes about everything, from lampooning the real news, making light of serious situations, and writing stories about the most off-the-wall and obscure topics imaginable. I find The Onion hilarious. Here's the catch (and hence the title of the blog) - if you are easily offended, The Onion IS NOT for you. I manage to be offended at least once by each edition, but I generally have a really good sense of humor about things, so it doesn't ever stop me from visiting the site, which is updated weekly (each Tuesday) with new stories. Anyone and everything is a target for the writers of The Onion, and crude language and situations are definitely in some of the stories. But if you can get past all of that, it's likely that you'll find the whole thing as funny as I do. Here's a taste of some of this week's headlines:

* U.S. To Give Every Iraqi $3,544.91, Let Free-Market Capitalism Do The Rest

* Typo Results In 10,000-Acre Wyoming Skate Park

* Angolan Temp Agency Teeming With Mercenaries

And digging into the archives, take a look at one of my personal favorites -

* Military Promises 'Huge Numbers' For Gulf War II: The Vengeance

MUSH-MOUTH

I can't stand ebonics or street-talk. For me, hearing it is like fingernails on a chalkboard. It's an absolute disgrace to the English language. Some people will defend it as an sign of a different culture or the evolution of a language, but it is the one other "language" in the United States that I hate to hear people using. If you speak an actual language, such as Spanish, Vietnamese, or German, and you feel more comfortable speaking that, then by all means, do it. But if you're going to speak English, please speak it somewhat properly!

I thought of this after listening to the conversation of two basketball players who were waiting in the lobby in front of the desk. Only one of them talked, but apparently the other one understood him. All I heard was one long, low, drawn out vowel sound interrupted periodically by gasps for air. I swear it wasn't English, but I'm not about to tell them: they were both about seven feet tall with arms as thick as my waist. The sad thing is that my boss talks the same way, but I'm convinced that she does it because she thinks it's cute. She just came in, dancing and rapping incoherently, gave me a half-hearted greeting by saying "whachoo-doin!?" and danced away. My question is, what happens when these people leave the comfort of college and interview for a real job? Is an employer supposed to be impressed with someone talking like that?

The absolute ridiculousness of ebonics - that's what Willis was talkin' 'bout.

THIRD AND BLUEMONT IS A MESS AGAIN

Anyone familiar with the city of Manhattan knows all too well the hellish nightmare of the intersection at 3rd and Bluemont. This is without a doubt the worst intersection/traffic problem I've ever seen, and I've driven in some big cities before. Not even the old Roman roads that are scattered around London were quite this bad.

Third street runs north and south and Bluemont runs east and west. Bluemont is one of the main roads in Manhattan that runs past Aggievillie, the University, and serves as kind of a central artery for the city. Near the east end of town, though, the usually smooth sailing Bluemont runs into Third street, followed a half-block later by Highway 177. Third street has stoplights and so does 177. So if you're trying to cross to the other side of the highway, you're often stopped at the Third Street stoplight. By the time that's green, the stoplight to cross 177 is usually red. Since there's only about half-a-block between Third and 177, not many cars can fit in the space between a green light at Third street to the red light at 177. Needless to say, traffic can get backed up all the way to Aggievillie if a lot of people are trying to cross the highway.

Why cross the highway, you ask? Several reasons: Wal-Mart, Super Wal-Mart (not opened yet), K-Mart, Dillons, and Hastings. There are usually a lot of people either trying to get to one of these stores or using 177 to get to highway 24. I was one of those people trying to get to Wal-Mart today. Now if I'd be thinking, I'd skip this intersection altogether and take a more indirect (but faster) route. But I never remember, and today was no different...except for the construction.

The east-bound lane on Bluemont (conveniently from fourth street to across 177) was reduced to one lane, so traffic was backed up even worse. Then it's just a guessing game once you get into the intersection of Bluemont and 177 of which lane you take to get to Wal-Mart. I wonder what the construction is for? Probably putting in oil slicks and potholes, just to make things more interesting!

O'NEILL BACKTRACKS

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has been forced to backtrack on some statements that he made in a new book and in a "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday. It seems that former Secretary O'Neill is a little bitter that he lost his job with the Bush administration and has become the most recent public figure to suffer a breakdown from lack of media attention and spill the beans in this new, tell-all book.

I'm sure there were things that Paul O'Neill didn't agree with the Bush administration on that amounted to the real reason he was fired. Tax cuts and a growing budget deficit were two main things, and those make sense. As a former CEO of a major company, I'm sure that O'Neill had different ideas concerning economic matters that didn't quite jibe with what the Bush administration was wanting to hear. I'm not exactly familiar with what those differences were, as neither the administration nor O'Neill speak about it much. Since Mr. O'Neill, however, is telling everything to anyone who'll listen, I figured I might hear something that pertained to his position within the cabinet, such as exactly why he disagreed with the administration on economic policy. But instead, General/Inspector/Secy. of Defense and State Paul O'Neill has delved into the issue of Iraq. I guess I just assumed that the Secretary of the Treasury dealt with monetary and economic policies, but that's what I get for assuming. It seems Paul O'Neill was the administration's foremost expert on Iraq and was fired for being too much of a dove.

So here's the big issue that was plastered across headlines, thanks to O'Neill: BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAD PLAN TO INVADE IRAQ BEFORE 9/11. Well, duh. Of course they did, and so did the Clinton administration. Since the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq has been a hostile power, an unstable territory, and a constant concern for our government. Remember, Bill Clinton's administration used a lot of force against Iraq in 1996 and 1998, and the conflicts over the no-fly zone were almost a daily occurrence during the 1990s. The government's plans to promote regime change and otherwise deal with Iraq were contingency plans - our government and military want to have plans on the table to be ready to act on short notice, so of course there was a plan to invade Iraq in existence.

I just read an article the other day in Popular Mechanics that governments worldwide have contingency plans to deal with extraterrestrial contact, when and if it should happen. So you think it's a big surprise that the US government had one to deal with Iraq!? Apparently Paul O'Neill thought it strange - you see, this is why he wasn't Secretary of Defense. He was so out of the loop when it came to these kinds of matters that a contingency plan seemed out of place to him! And since most politicians think quite highly of themselves and their word, Mr. O'Neill became an overnight sensation as the nation's expert on Iraq.

When people figured out that contingency plans are a normal part of government, O'Neill's popularity quickly went bust. Now, he's forced to explain himself. The media thought that it had a new anti-war spokesman, but their dreams have been shattered. The Democrats, grudgingly ready to make peace with a former CEO of a "big business", now have to shuffle slowly away from O'Neill in order to not look as if they actually fell for what he was saying.

And the former Treasury Secretary, whose 15 minutes of anti-war fame are crumbling down around him, is left standing alone looking foolish for stating the obvious and looking guilty for revealing information from classified documents. Of course he's blaming everyone but himself. The media distorted his comments, Democrats took only snippets of what he'd said and ran with them...you know, I've heard an old saying about excuses, and it comes to mind right now.

So I expect O'Neill to continue making the talk show rounds for the next week or two with a baggie and a pooper scooper, trying to clean up the mess he's made of his own, once credible reputation, and then I expect him to fade away. A brief media sensation will come to an end, and talking heads can get back to beating up Howard Dean and George Bush, depending on what kind of mood they're in.

This whole situation can be pinpointed to one simple (and understandable) human response. Paul O'Neill is upset that he was fired. Who wouldn't be? No one sends their former boss a box of chocolates and a dozen roses after they've been let go. O'Neill was brought onto the Bush team in 2000/2001 to bring his own set of ideas to the table, and he feels snubbed because the administration didn't take him seriously. He's thinking, "why hire me in the first place if you refuse to listen to what I have to say?" Now he's trying to do some damage of his own to those who hurt him, but so far, it's blowing up in his face. Kind of a sad deal, but completely understandable...and predictable. Isn't there always a "one-time administration insider" who gets cut out of the loop, feels rejected, then writes a tell-all book trashing their former employers? I know that Bush II isn't the first President who has had to deal with this.

ANOTHER LATE NIGHT

Last night it was work that kept me up so late (or early), and tonight, it was the mural that kept me awake. I did get quite a bit done this evening, even if a lot of it was practicing and experimenting. I've never done a project like this, so it was good to test the waters a bit before I jump in on the real complicated parts of the painting. The good news is, Willie is on the wall and looks good.

I did manage to get up at a decent time today...or yesterday, well, Monday, anyway. Even though I had to work until 4:00am, I was up by 9:30 and got several things done: a package mailed and transparencies of all my sketch work made at Kinko's. After that, I picked up some more white paint so I could put another coat on the wall. This can was more of a beige color, which worked better than the bright white that I had put on before. It matched the rest of the walls in the lobby much better. It wasn't too long after 1:00 that I finished whitewashing the wall, and then there was nothing more I could do until the overhead arrived. I did take a nap about 3:30 in the afternoon, and by 4:15, Cori stopped by to let me know that the overhead projector was there so I could start working on the wall again. I rolled over and went back to sleep, but by 5:00 I was itching to see what my sketches would look like blown up and transferred to the wall. I grabbed a dry erase marker and headed to the lobby and got Willie traced onto the wall before I had to work again at 6:00. It was after work at 10:00 that I started painting, and it's kept me busy until now.

Staying in a building that is built for 650 people when there are only a dozen or so actually here is a bit creepy, so by the time finished washing the paint off of me in the shower, I'd heard about every creak, crack, and growl that this hall can make. I figured it was time to curl up with one of my warm wool blankets and go to sleep. Hopefully, I can wake up semi-early again tomorrow morning and get started on the painting again...Willie's robe needs some color!

Monday, January 12, 2004

IOWA'S FINAL DEBATE

The final debate between Democrats running in the Iowa caucuses took place last night, and eight of the nine candidates participated - probably the last time they will all be seen together, as Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to weed out the weak contenders. According to CNN, the issue of race became a hot topic of conversation between Gov. Howard Dean and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Al Sharpton is an amusing guy. Here's someone who is so preoccupied with race that he's gone off the deep end in terms of stupidity. Al Sharpton knows of nothing but conflict - he creates it everywhere he goes. Usually he's so busy accusing Republicans of racism that he pays little attention to Democrats, but now that fellow Democrats are competing against him, he has no reservations about accusing them of racism either. Here's his ridiculous argument, this time.

In the debate, he accused Howard Dean of not having enough minority representation in his cabinet while he was governor of Vermont. Instead of just fessing up to having an all-white cabinet, Dean spits and sputters and tries to invent some new cabinet positions on the spur of the moment. So he comes out looking like a fool, while Sharpton labels him a racist for not filling his cabinet full of minorities. Nevermind that Dean's cabinet was made up of only six people, and if he were to apply national demographic trends (with blacks being 12% of the population and Hispanics being 13%) to such a small group, he would have two positions filled by only 3/4 of a person. And nevermind that Vermont itself is 98% white. Naturally, the race argument continued between the two, and to most people, Sharpton will appear the victor as he successfully labeled Gov. Dean a racist. Sharpton went on, lecturing Dean that he wasn't qualified to talk about race. Hmmm, apparently as a white person, Dean belongs to no race and isn't able to discuss race relations or racial problems.

You see, people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakhan can parade around America under the guise of promoting tolerance and working to end racism, but these single-minded men and people like them only further hatred, because in their state of being constantly ticked off, they're ticking off people like me. This whole rant will sound racist in-and-of itself, but that's only because it's been pounded into our heads that it's wrong to criticize the ideas of these black leaders. But I have to disagree, because I don't think the likes of Al Sharpton will ever be pleased, no matter how many minorities are in governors' cabinets, because when it comes down to the bottom line, Al Sharpton himself is a racist. He hates white people, white success, white history, and white America. Despite the progress that blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities have made in all areas of our society, I don't think that Sharpton will truly be pleased until the majority is submissive to the minority. Hence his willingness to attack a fellow Democrat on such groundless allegations.

This brings up a whole slew of issues, like quotas for jobs and universities and Affirmative Action. If I'm a perfectly qualified candidate for a job, and an equally qualified minority is competing against me for that job, who should the employer choose? If he hired me, he'd likely (and unfortunately) have a lawsuit on his hands, because it's wrong not to hire the minority. But if he hired the minority on the basis of race, that is racism. Yes, folks - racism can happen against white people, too.

Now don't get me wrong - there needs to be more tolerance all around, and preferably color blindness. The real question is, what do you do about intolerance in America? While he likes to run his fat mouth about the woes of minorities and point fingers in every direction but his own, Al Sharpton offers no solutions; only more hatred, more arguments, and more questions. I'm sure Sharpton's ideal solution to Dean's cabinet "problem" would have been to have an all-black cabinet, since that would have furthered Sharpton's own agenda. Make no mistake, he's not looking out for all minorities - he's selfish and looking out for only himself.

Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the other black candidate in the Democratic primaries, took a different approach than the bellowing Sharpton. She fired at Sharpton, "You can always blow up a racial debate and make people mad at each other, but I think it's time for us to talk about what are you going to do to bring people together, because this country cannot afford a racial screaming match. We have to come together as one nation to get past these problems." Well said, Senator, well said. Sharpton is a political equivalent of a schoolyard bully. He knows he's got an advantage over the whole playground with the race card, and he'll play it over and over again. But instead of using that strength and that voice to actually provide solutions and help people, he's perfectly content to simply piss people off.

Dean reminded Sharpton that his campaign has more endorsements from the Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucuses than any other Democratic candidate, including the "champion of the minorities", Sharpton himself. Sharpton was apparently not impressed, and responded, "I think you only need co-signers if your credit is bad." (Here's where you squint your eyes, offer up your best pained expression, and run that sentence through your head a few times.) What in God's name is that supposed to mean? So now Sharpton's turning against the Black and Hispanic Caucus members that have endorsed Dean, labeling them as "cosigners" because Dean has no racial credibility. If ever you needed proof that Al Sharpton is a huge idiot, there it is. He's willing to forgo his usual racial attacks on conservatives to take on fellow Democrats, and then lash out at minorities and members of his own race because they've made an independent choice to endorse Howard Dean! How dare they think for themselves!

Between the whole racial debacle and Dick Gephardt whining about how it was the Republicans' fault that he was a failure as House Minority Leader, I didn't get much else of the debate. A lot was said about tax cuts, but it's the same old lines we heard four years ago. Again, when the Democrats pick a candidate and quit beating each other to a pulp, I'll start to follow the real issues much closer. Until that time, it's just incredibly amusing to watch what are supposed to be the most statesmen-like, responsible, and authoritative adults in America quibble over the stupidest things.

John Kerry: "(GASP!) Howard said he didn't like the caucuses! I heard him say it!"
Howard Dean: "Did not!"
Kerry: "Did too!"
Dean: "Did NOT! Well, did, but now that I'm more familiar with them I take it back..."

...and things just keep getting wilder!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

A MORE DETAILED WEBSITE MAY BE COMING SOON

It's not hard to get on the internet and tinker around with some of the free website tools that are offered all over the place. I've made websites before, and I just may make a little bit more in-depth site as a branch of this blog.

There's nothing there right now except a catchy graphic that I made, but you can look at what I've done so far by clicking here. Like the site says, it might well turn out to be a resource center - that's computer speak for a storage closet!

CLOTHES SHOPPING AND MURAL PAINTING

Besides sketching drawings for the mural that I'm painting, there really isn't a whole lot to do around here when I'm not working. Since I'm only working four hours a day, that leaves a lot of time to fill up. I did pick up four more hours tomorrow - midnight to 4:00am, so that'll give me a bit more time at Moore Hall's front desk.

I have been needing to go clothes shopping for quite a while and decided that this afternoon was a perfect time to do it. I don't like going, since it's such a pain. I think a lot of people feel the same way, but finding the right size is an added pain for me, all thanks to Pyloric Stenosis. I'm convinced that jeans are made for three types of people - big and tall, big and short, short and thin. Distinctly missing from that group is tall and skinny!

In the process of looking for a new pair of jeans (that I need to replace the ones that have cannonball sized holes in them), I get extremely frustrated. There's 30 x 30s, but that's too short - ideally I need a 34 inseam. A 30 inch waist fits perfect, and I can usually go one inch up or one inch down in that department. A 32 inch waist is just a little too big on me, even with a belt. But just you try to find a pair of jeans that's 30 x 34 - you can't do it for some reason. There's every other size under the sun - 32 x 34, 34 x 30, and 40 x 28 (what the...!?), but no stores ever seem to carry pants in my size.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I have a body type that isn't average, but come on - I'm not the only tall, lanky person out there, am I? Finally I went with a pair that was 30 x 32. It was the only pair in the entire store with those measurements, the closest to what I needed. Their not quite as long as I like, but they'll work fine.

In order to make my next shopping trip less of a hassle, I picked up a can of Crisco and a bottle of Schlitz to have for dinner. Hopefully with a diet like that, I'll be rewarded on my next shopping trip with clothes that fit perfectly - but by that time, skinny will probably be in style again.

I got a couple of nice shirts, too, but again, size is a bit of a problem. Nearly everything in men's clothing is extra large or larger - I'm sorry, I don't look good wearing something the size of a circus tent. I need a plain ol' large. Then again, small, medium, and large all look about the same size, so maybe what's listed on the tag is just code for how much the shirt will shrink. On the plus side, everything was on sale, so when all was said and done, I came out with some nice stuff for not a lot of money.

I saw several Ellsworth/Kanopolis people from my graduating class at the mall. Brad, Tony, and Sarah were all there. Sarah, of course, was working - I asked her when she'd be working later this week so I could have her cut my hair. She did a great job last time.

I've put one coat of white paint on the wall where the mural will be painted later this week. It needs another thick coat of white, though, since cinder blocks have so many little craters in them that it's hard to get a good covering on with the first coat. As soon as I find a scanner to load my pictures onto a computer, I'll get them posted on the internet. The "Hugh Hefner" Willie the Wildcat is all finished and looks quite good. In the original sketch made over five months ago, Willie was holding a martini glass. Since the mural will be associated directly with KSU, however, the "alcohol" reference had to go. Willie's now holding a snowglobe with Moore Hall in it. Kind of a second-rate substitute, I know, but it works.

Currently I'm working on sketching the window and background scenery for the mural. This will be the biggest...and trickiest...part of the whole painting.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

POLITICS, POLITICS, AND MORE POLITICS

...a strongly worded title for those of you who backpedal in disgust at political conversation! The blog entries below may be of more interest to you than this particular one.

The President had an interesting radio address this morning in which he discussed the economy, taxes, and jobs. The Democrats, however, are too busy punching each other's lights out to spend too much time criticizing Bush's handling of the economy, but mark my words, they will. So I will jump in to give my thoughts on the economic situation, with or without Democratic rebuttal.

Let me first make a brief point: I hope you all realize that today's current economic woes are the result of a couple of factors that your insurance company might deem "acts of God", and thus, uncontrollable. The economy has definitive boom-and-bust cycles. This can be traced back from administration to administration through the years, and though it has no certain temporal track that it follows, booms and busts are natural occurrences in economies worldwide. I know of no nation that has continuously grown throughout its history, and if someone out there does, let me know!

The story of the most recent cycle will be told now, with examples given within [brackets].

OK, so here's how this cycle went. The internet, personal computers, and all kinds of nifty little electronic gizmos designed to make life easier explode on to the market - access to such things becomes easier and cheaper, thus demand increases. [Pets.com opens online pet store and hires sock puppet as spokesperson.] As we race toward the new millennium, demand for online buying and PCs rises ever higher, thrusting the Nasdaq above 5000 and even carrying the old reliable stocks on the DJIA over 11,000! [Pets.com runs ad during first quarter of Super Bowl featuring sock puppet singing about pet supplies.] But this boom has hardly even begun when Americans realize that they're now happy with the new PC that they've purchased, and all that crazy crap on the internet is fun to look at, but window shopping is all they're willing to do. The computer, online, and electronic markets begin to dry up...well, maybe not even dry up, but their flood waters recede. [Pets.com declares bankruptcy.] And thus the economy suffers - a cycle has occurred, which leaves many out of business, unemployed, or in transition. [Pets.com sock puppet now does commercials for bargain home mortgage company.]

See, it's so simple. A CYCLE! What a novel idea. Somehow maybe the cycle is Bush's fault. But I don't think so. Remember, the stock market slide started during Clinton's last year in office. The Nasdaq hit a high of 5048 in March of 2000, yet just two months later it was sitting 37% lower at 3164. That, folks, is what you call a bust! The slide continued to the point where we are sitting now - the Nasdaq barely over 2000. Fortunately, the DJIA has held fairly strong and is sitting only 800 points behind its highest total ever, which isn't too shabby. Of course, the stock market alone isn't the only economic indicator out there - there are jobs to take into consideration as well, and those are the most important factor since they involve people most directly.

But the loss of jobs can be attributed to the boom-and-bust cycle as well. What, do people honestly think that George Bush is out there handing out pink slips?

However, one other big factor has put a dent in our economy more than any other - September 11th. Though it increasingly seems to be the Bush administration's answer to every problem, 9-11 undeniably hurt the US economy. Let's see: over 3000 dead, the New York financial district in ruins, terror and panic running rampant throughout the country, and a major industry (airlines) brought to the brink of implosion. Now that hurt the economy - and we haven't recovered yet. After 9-11, the stock market plummeted even more. This event was a disaster for the country in every way, including economically. And we can't blame George Bush for it, though some people certainly think they can.

We are sitting in an economic mess today, unfortunately, though all signs point to recovery. What Bush was talking about this morning on his radio address makes a lot of sense to me. He first dealt with immigration and providing temporary jobs for willing immigrants. This is a no brainer: immigrants are willing to do work that American citizens aren't willing to do, so why not provide a program for them to come to the US and get a job?

This does present a bit of a conflict, though: while Americans are sitting jobless, foreigners are arriving to take all of the available jobs. This is where the continuation of tax cuts comes in to play. If Bush's tax cuts are made permanent, business will continue to receive the benefits of them and be able to hire new employees. It seems so simple - foreign workers take jobs that Americans won't, thus boosting the economy. Tax cuts provide more money to businesses (not to mention average people as well) which can then hire new employees, lowering the unemployment rate and boosting the economy. In the end, the economy grows.

I haven't heard much of a reply from Democrats yet, but I expect there will be one. Maybe they'll find a way to deride Bush's economic plans, blame him for September 11th and economic cycles all at once. Whatever the response, expect a continuing rebuttal from me.

A STATEMENT FROM BILL SNYDER

An Open Letter from Kansas State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder

I am extending a heartfelt and sincere apology to the people of Kansas State, our community of Manhattan, and the entire state of Kansas for the anguish and suffering endured by those who genuinely care about our football program and university. The incident which took place during our stay in Scottsdale has been a painful experience for our administration, our faculty, our student body, our community, and, certainly, for all of us closely associated with Kansas State football.

I extend the same apology to the administration of the Fiesta Bowl, its sponsors, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort and the people of “The Valley of the Sun” all of whom received us so very well and extended such gracious hospitality to our travel party and all visiting K-Staters.

Please understand that it has not been my intent to withhold information from the media, but to cooperate with the legal process.

As we now know, charges will not be filed and the Maricopa County Attorney has stated that no criminal incident occurred. It is unfortunate that this damaging information was released prior to a thorough and complete investigation, which ultimately concluded there was no validity to the allegation of sexual assault or sexual abuse. The fact that the initial charges were found to be erroneous in many cases will fall on deaf ears.

As most of the people in our local and regional media understand, over the past 15 years in our program the violation of team rules and the punishments for those violations were always kept in house (within the “family”). Because this violation of team rules by our starting quarterback, Ell Roberson, became a national news story, I have decided in this one instance to make the consequences of violating those team rules public. In accordance with our policy of the past 15 years, I then decided that the consequences for Ell Roberson and those players who had violated team regulations would include:

1. The loss of scholarship aid (of approximately $8,481.00) for the spring semester.

2. Not receiving a Fiesta Bowl ring

3. Volunteer public service addressing youth groups within the community.

In addition to these consequences, Ell Roberson has already paid a severe price for his indiscretion- a price far greater than perhaps any other student in a similar situation would have paid.

I want all K-Staters to know that this incident has hit at the core of my value system. I do not condone any form of sexual abuse or, for that matter, sexual activity for young, unmarried males or females. I have three daughters and three granddaughters, each of whom I pray to be safe and secure and to carry strong moral values that coincide with those of our family.

At the time of the incident, I made [what] was seemingly an easy decision: to suspend the young men from our program and send them home that evening. I was at peace with that decision and shared it with our coaching staff the next morning.

However, later in the day, I was provided with information from local authorities and an outside investigation which led us to the conclusion that, with complete assurance, no crime of any nature was committed by any player in our program. An indiscretion, yes; a violation of the law, no. At that time it became apparent that the decision to suspend players did not seem consistent with other decisions made within the program.

Timing, then, became an issue. I had one day in which to make what I could pray and hope would be the appropriate decision. This proved to be the most agonizing and painful event in my entire professional career.

As I anguished over this decision I was well aware that I do not have the capacity to regulate the decisions that 22 year olds make regarding their moral and sexual behaviors which are within the limits of the law.

The question arose: would it be better not to start the young men? The idea of allowing them to play, but not start the game and sit out for a series or two seemed merely a token consequence. I believed the price of this irresponsibility should be far greater. All the while, I was well aware that any decision I made would be met with criticism.

I cannot adequately convey to you how badly I feel for those within the Wildcat family who, through their allegiance to our university and athletic program, are suffering immensely. A day has not gone by that I have not prayed that the Lord would ease the pain for our players, coaches, staff, the athletic department, the university faculty, student body, and administration, and the remarkable K-State fan base throughout the country. The accusation that was falsely made in this incident will live within each of us for a long time to come.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support and the continued faith that we are diligently attempting to advance the proper values to young people within our program and that we are teaching life’s lessons in a manner which provides them with a venue to mature and grow toward a successful future.

I apologize from the depth of my soul that this situation ever took place.

Bill Snyder
Head Football Coach
Kansas State University


I had always known that Bill Snyder was a man of very deep convictions. The questions that loomed after the incidents surrounding the Fiesta Bowl have led many to question how serious Coach Snyder really is about morals and team discipline. I hope that this letter puts those questions to rest - an immensely complicated situation was brought upon the head of a very good man at a very important time in his life, and after this explanation, I think he did the right thing. The biggest tragedy is that his prominent national image has undoubtedly suffered all because of the sex drive of a couple of 22-year-olds.

NO HOST FOR YOU!

I've recently become aware of a Roman Catholic Bishop from La Crosse, Wisconsin, who has undertaken his very own "holy war" of sorts against area legislators. Bishop Raymond Burke, who is heading to St. Louis to become the Archbishop there, sent a letter to several state politicians from his diocese encouraging them to not take Communion because of certain views that they hold as public servants. Bishop Burke's main problems with the legislators: they support abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research and cloning, while these are four things that the Catholic Church adamantly opposes. His beef with these politicians is that they will fight against the Church through their positions in government, all the while embracing the Church and receiving Communion on Sundays. Here's a full story of Bishop Burke and the controversy he has generated.

Now I certainly don't agree with absolutely everything that my Church does or has done - Catholicism has been through some rough times in the past. The Inquisitions, Crusades, indulgences, and today's sex scandals have certainly put a blight on the Catholic Church. But I'll be the first to applaud Bishop Burke for the stand he's taking. Chances are that these legislators won't ever be denied Communion, but the Bishop has informed them that they are not within good standing in the Church. And how could they be? Abortion, euthanasia, and cloning are big no-no's not only within Catholicism, but in a huge majority of all Christian denominations.

So it seems these legislators don't practice what they hear preached - Christian nominalism is nothing new, but finally a higher-up in the Church is standing against it and requesting that these "hypocritical" legislators don't participate in the Church's ceremonies because of the heretical beliefs that they continuously espouse. Or maybe he just got tired of forgiving them week after week for the views that they held. Excommunication-lite is so much easier!

And this all brings up a very good question: should Bishop Burke deny these politicians Communion since their public views are not in good standing with the Church? The question of "can he do it" is irrelevant - of course he can do it. In fact, he could visit their parishes every Sunday and stand by to make sure that they are denied Communion if he so wished. I imagine that most people will bring up the age-old policy of "Separation of Church and State", tossing around those five words like they themselves make up the "Alpha and Omega" of United States policy. But don't fool yourselves - though the State has let go of the Church, the Church still pays mighty close attention to the goings-on of the State.

I don't have an answer based on future implications in whether or not Bishop Burke was right or wrong in sending a letter to these legislators. I think it's a bold and admirable step in attempt to bring them back in line with their own religious beliefs, although it could hurt the Church once again by its portrayal as an unflinching master ruling over its subjects who it expects to be mindless mouthpieces of doctrine and dogma.

I still think that Bishop Burke has done the right thing for now, and I congratulate him on sticking up for his cause in the face of what could be some serious opposition. He does know what he's in for, as proven by his statement, "I don't try to generate heat, but I don't mind taking the heat for my decisions."

Friday, January 09, 2004

MISSED IT BY THE SKIN OF MY TEETH

A successful coyote hunt, that is...my roommate just called me a few minutes ago to tell me that I left too early. He'd just shot a coyote a bit earlier this evening and had seen several since then. Darn the luck anyway...if only I'd been around another day longer!

BACK IN ACTION

I've had one person mention that she's a follower of my blog, but only the personal stuff and none of that political junk. Another reader seemed to be anxious for my return to blogging after a couple days of absence, yet he was interested in the political side of things. Well, either way, I'm back, and I plan on pleasing both audiences: personal and political.

Sorry for the lack of communication over the last few days. I spent from Wednesday night until this afternoon at my roommate's house in southeast Kansas coyote hunting. Peg would be proud: we saw plenty of Kansas prairie. We also saw lots of wildlife, but I never fired a shot. It's funny: now that deer season is over, the deer were all over the place. I must have seen about a dozen does - one got so close to our blind that you could have just given it a rifle butt to the head instead of shooting it...but of course it's not deer season (and it was a Bambi anyway). At least it wasn't near zero-degrees like it had been on Monday and Tuesday. Only one coyote sprinted into view before turning tail the other way - I only had time to raise the rifle before it disappeared again. Oh well - LJ had gotten a new coyote call for Christmas, so he'll likely get one before the semester starts again.

Now I'm back in Manhattan, ready to do some work before the semester begins. A couple of things are waiting for me here. First of all, my job at the front desk will take up four hours every day. I was able to schedule myself for this chunk of time last semester, so I'm working 6:00 to 10:00 pm every day until the 20th. Not too bad for a part time job, but it won't completely absorb every minute of every day either.

That's good, because I've got another big project to finish in the next two weeks: painting a mural on the wall in the 9th floor lobby of Moore Hall. For over a year now, our lobby has been blank and without any markings whatsoever to denote that "you have arrived on the 9th floor", and our RA this year had a contest in which students could submit their artwork of a mural, and the winner would get to paint the wall. Though the prize seems like a bit of a daunting task, it will be a chance to exercise my phenomenal yet underused artistic talents (hey, I'm allowed to be egotistical about this, alright! I AM good at cartooning). I'll post the final sketch of the mural on the internet just as soon as I get it done. That'll be tonight's project while I'm sitting at work with not much to do. Here's a hint about the design, though: its slogan is "Welcome to the Penthouse", since we're on the highest floor in the building, and Willie the Wildcat will be posed in front of a huge window overlooking a cityscape. Expect Willie to be decked out a la Hugh Hefner!

A few other housecleaning items are here waiting for me as well. One of them is literally housecleaning. The room doesn't look too bad, but that's because it was half empty for Christmas. Now that I'm moving back in, I'll have to find a place to put everything again. I did take the Christmas tree down already, and that's cleared up some space.

Well, there's a bit of a personal blog. We'll see if a political mood should strike me later tonight.

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