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First the bad. Above is a picture of an older Mercury Sable. In order to improve the car, the owner has not only put on some ridiculous rims that raise the sedan several inches off the ground, giving the wheels an oversized look, but worst of all he added these dumb faux air vents to the side.

I've seen the "air vents" on several cars and they look like you just stick them on after peeling off the paper to reveal the adhesive layer. The effect is even worse when they aren't lined up properly. These aren't exactly following the lines of the car.

The dumbest thing is that the air vents (or vintiports) were long a signature of Buicks. Why would any "fly guy" want his car to look like a Buick?

The good is Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel. The show is clever and has lots of good reoccurring in-jokes that make it fun to watch. I think the best parts are with Dr. Dufenschmertz, the evil mad scientist who is always foiled by the boys pet, Perry the Platapus.

There's nothing else work watching on the disney channel, but I do enjoy this.
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It's been a busy couple of days back. I've gotten a little behind around here, but i would like to thank everyone who took time out to journal, or comment or text message or call, etc with wishes for a happy birthday.

By now you may know Chris and I tripped down I-35 to spend a long weekend in san Antonio. It was good to see old friends and acquaintances and meet a new person or two.

It took forever to get down there. I forgot how far it was between Austin and San Antonio. We first ate lunch in Waco at a McDonalds that suddenly was full of 50 or so day-camping kids. Loud as all get out. Later we ran into the infamous Austin traffic before stopping at Cabella's in Buda to check out some waterproof sandals and the guys who shop there. We always seem to find something we like there.

Finally we got to our hotel near the airport, and napped a bit until we got the word where dinner was. The place was a huge 4 story tall Chacho's. Chacho's is hard to explain - it's fast food mexican, and just about every dish involves cheese. This one, being a Super Chacho's also had pizza. The food is closer to authentic than Taco Bell, and not as nasty as Taco Cabana. The place had different dining levels, a patio and the largest "series of tubes" playgrounds for kids that I have ever seen. the kids could climb all the way to the 4th floor if they wanted. I'm sure it takes days for parent's to get their kids out of there.

I didn't really make much of a mention of my birthday, just saying that Chris and I were coming down. The friday night thing seems to be a regular happening for the San Antonio crew. Meeting us there were Alex ([ profile] darke), Peter ([ profile] texaspenguin). Will ([ profile] pressedkhakis), Scott ([ profile] xkot) and Ryan ([ profile] inanityscout), who I got to meet for the first time. Will said that Nate ([ profile] bigbearok) was off driving himself to Pennsic in Pensylvania that weekend. most of them knew it was my birthday, but I didn't want to make a fuss. Heck, we were invading their event, not creating one for myself.

After shoving down huge plates of Nachos, and maybe a margarita or two, we moved down the road to Starbuck at the Quarry which has some hunky bearistas. We talked for a little while there on a very nice evening with live music coming from one of the nearby restaurants. It's a very nice upscale area in what used to be an actual working quarry - one where my dad worked for a time.

On Saturday Jack ([ profile] adminbear) picked us up and we went off to Schlitterbahn, the country's best waterpark, which is just north of San Antonio in New Braunfels. I should have known better to go on a saturday, but we got in and got to go on some of the attractions. One of the bus attendants said their were over 40,000 people there and they almost had to turn people away as their parking lots were full (actually, she said they did tell people about the crowds and many chose to go home).

We rode some of the rafting and tubing rides and rode around each of the three lazy rivers in the place. We got on some of the body flumes and such, but after waiting for an hour and a half for one ride, and another hour for another, we tried to find things that didn't have lines. Jack hurt his ankle in one line so we had to take it easy. Still, there was lots of waling both in the parks and going in between the three different areas. It was fun, but I'd love to go when the kids, and their rude parents who were busy with the beers, aren't around.

Since Jack paid for gas, parking and lunch, we treated him to dinner at the Canyon Cafe, back in the Quarry, and all had some great steaks. We were so tired that any chance to go out for fun at ACE Weekend - some leather event going on that weekend, was certainly out.

On sunday we woke up late and checked out of the hotel, and then went to this dive that Peter was talking us about. unfortunately it was closed, so we drug Peter along to our next destination, the San Antonio Riverwalk. All three of us had our cameras in tow, and you can see my pictures HERE, Chris' much better ones HERE, and Peter's HERE.

they are both better photographers than I, and they have bigger cameras. they are also better at getting the hot guy snipage than I am. Still, I wish i had a waterproof camera because there were lost of hot guys at Schlitterbahn. There was also one of the largest displays of tattoos there. does everyone have a tattoo but me?

We had lunch with peter at one of the oldest tex-mex restaurants on the Riverwalk. We also stopped by the Alamo, because you just have to. It's small and dinky and nowhere near as impressive as history would lead you to believe.

After giving Peter a goodbye smack we got back on the road and headed back north, stopping by the Under Armour outlet in San Marcos where I picked up one of those tight, clingy shirts they make (in my size, even). I can't wait to try it out this weekend.

Otherwise we got back home late, and Chris had to wait until monday morning to spring Joey from the Kennel. All is well, just, as I said, busy, and as normal, any trip out of town is going to be busy, not restful when it's up to me. There's a little bit of tiredness to both of us this week. Still, the trip was a very good way to start up my 40's.
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You know, the future hasn't been all it was cracked up to be.

I was hearing someone talk about the space race earlier today and they said, "You know, our generation was promised this, they were promised to be the first generation out in space." We'll it didn't happen.

I know, it's one of those "where are the flying cars?" kind of things, but it's true. When I was born, in the sixties, the view of the future was bright and bold and the world's problems would be solved. Wasn't there some Age of Aquarius that was supposed to happen?

We still have war, and famine, and disease. somewhere along the way the things like "The Great Society" turned into failed government policies and used by those who look more for handouts than hand up and all that claptrap. Somewhere between then and now, our society changed from thinking about the whole of mankind to just thinking about ourselves.

That space race ended when we, the Americans, won. Did we really have the vision to actually do something further than just going to the moon? After we got there, we sent a couple of other LEMs there to collect a few rocks and drive around the golf cart, then we left it for good. Space became just another place to haul cargo to, not the bold new frontier. I remember watching television wondering if I could go out and live in a space colony, turning above the earth.

Heck, we haven't even gotten to the Jetsons. Think about it, the sixties showed the future would be clean and bright. The earth would be greener (Though in the Jetsons they did have to jack up the apartments to get out of the smog below). Other visions of the future showed wondrous gadgets and TV's everywhere. We're close to that last one, but it seems soon the number of cameras is going to out number the number of monitors available.

The one thing we didn't see coming was computers and the internet. Wow what a difference. It' changed our lives more than the dawn of television changed our parents. We didn't get picture phones, but we got ICQ.

It seems that cars have changed the least. Sure, there's a larger range of sizes and shapes, but when it comes down to it, it's the same engine, just refined slightly. when you think that computers go billions of times faster than they did 40 years ago, how come a car only averages 2 or 3 times the gas milage they did back then? Now that the heat is on, it will be fascinating to see if we get some real change in the next 10-15 years as oil levels start getting scarcer.

Where's that kitchen of tomorrow? The one that delivers a fully prepared meal at the touch of a button? I've got plenty of gadgets, but I still have to pop something in the microwave for the closest to that experience. they tried to convince us we'd be eating pills for all our dietary needs, and for that we've come somewhat close, just ask Barry Bonds. Still, nothing satisfies like tearing into a good steak. Remember when Italian was and ethnic food or Chun King in a can was considered Chinese? now it's passe with more Americans eating Thai, Brazilian, and Middle easter cuisine, we've come a long way towards globalization.

We have seen revolutions in communications technology. Certainly not the things they seemed to expect, with suddenly media is in the hands of everyone. anyone can be published, or produce audio and video and have easy distribution. It's a revolution that may not do in big media, but it's definitely making them re-think how to work in this new world. where a tragedy like we saw yesterday in Minneapolis might have only been covered by journalists rushing to find eyewitnesses, now eyewitnesses can upload their own stories, pictures and video right after the event. It's become necessary to have the people become the fourth estate when they paid journalist are increasingly hampered by ratings, sponsors and corporate ownership.

The personal communications revolution has changed how we communicate to others, over long distances. Who would have thought that typing would still be a useful skill now, and that more kids type away at tiny keyboards on a cell phone than actually make calls on it. Cell Phones are the Star Trek communicators, and now they are getting closer to tricorders with the internet and news and games on them. we used to think portable TV just had a small cathode-ray tube and an antenna, but now it's a wireless connection and a color flat screen and isn't reliant on what the broadcast networks have put on the air.

Still, we haven't completely gotten rid of books, but we're getting closer to ditching music CDs. We use more oil and electricity than we did 40 years ago as there are more electronics and cars out there, but there's also more plastics and more junk.

We've had some of the dumbest, least innovative people running the country. Again, when you think that we've gotten through the civil rights mess, and tried to provide for all so many years back, why do we still have problems with inequality and poverty. why can't we at least agree to provide healthcare for every child? Why can't we work towards a better environment and better schools and better society? We've gone backwards in government as we've seen to many politicians cut corners, and reduce taxes and spending on the wrong things. Once the grand design of the interstate highway system was completed, suddenly, except for pork projects for legislators, we stopped providing proper funding to keep it up. All over the country our infrastructure is getting ready to fall apart, and no one wants to find the funding to do anything about it.

We pay politicians too much money for them to do a half-asses job where they won't make the tough calls to get things right because their campaigning for their next election more than they are actually being the people's representative. the system is broken, but the people who can fix it are the ones who would never do it.

Then it all comes back to the space program. Underfunded. Without leadership. Falling apart. The goal for people wasn't just to beat the Soviets to the moon, it was to find the future. The fifties and sixties seemed to embody the hope that it would all be there for us. All in beautiful gleaming whiteness. We never seemed closer to utopia.

Something changed. Even our views of the future got darker, dimmer. We haven't reached Blade runner or Mad Max, but we still seem tethered to this planet, and it seems to be darker and grittier each time we turn around. How do we get back there? Will a new generation stand up and try to fight for all of us, or will we keep sinking down to watching Lindsey Loahn's latest mistake and laughing?

It's been a wild ride so far, and who knows what's in store for us, but we certainly need something new. we need to give up the impediments that have sent us hurtling backwards for the last 20 or 30 years. It's time to solve things, and beat AIDS and cancer. It's time to make manufacturing more eco friendly, including the car. It's time to finally fund research into new fuels and more energy efficient gadgets. It's time to fund healthcare and social security for the next generations. It can be done, but not with this group of idiots. that goes for both government and the large corporate weasels, more concerned with bottom line and CEO pay than actually doing something for mankind.

A couple of years ago, President Bush said he wanted to send a manned mission to Mars by 2020. People laughed. It's not that the thing can't be done. Sure, there's kinks to be worked out, but we really could do it. It was the fact that it was just empty promises. It was never going to be funded. It was never going to happen. It was to try to build a new space race between the US and China. Once again, it's not about the future. The future has been sold off for a giant pissing contest.

I want the future back. The one we were promised watching Jason of Space Command and re-runs of Star Trek. It's only right.
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There's a couple of things I've always wanted, but in my life have not been able to achieve.

The first one is a backyard pool. I've always wanted one, but the parents would never go for it. For most of my years we lived in neighborhoods that had a pool for all, or at least those that paid the membership dues, but never one just for us. There's also the apartment pools, some were better, and cleaner than others, but still, anyone could come use it.

Here at the townhouse, there's a neighborhood pool, and last year it was closed for most of the year because of problems with the homeowner's association. I find that I haven't thought about it much this year. It's not the best pool, as the people stone around the pool is coming apart, and it hurts your feet. I've also gotten spoiled with the people who have pools cleaned with salt, rather than chlorine. It's so nice swimming in water that isn't bleaching you as you go.

I know, keeping the damned thing clean would be one of the biggest problem. I'm a lazy procrastinator and I know I'd have to be pushed to go get the leaves, but then again, I hate swimming with leaves, so there's definitely and incentive.

This would mean a new house - so you see the charges are mounting up here. There's obviously no quick fix here, but since I love to swim, and love the water, it's still something I want. There's always the advantage of hosting an occasional few friends to come swim, too.

Heck, right now I'd be somewhat satisfied by having a hot tub, but there really isn't room for that here, either. I guess we'll have to work on getting some money together and getting a large whirlpool tub when we decide to make over the bathroom.

Another thing I'd love to have is a convertible. For years I wanted a soft-top VW Rabbit (later known as the Cabriolet) or a Jeep Wrangler. I eventually decided that neither one were practical for me, as I needed a solid car for long distances, but I knew if I ever was able to buy a second car, it would be a convertible.

The only problem is, there's pretty much two kinds of convertibles tiny two seaters, and large whales. I can't fit in the former, and I don't need the bad gas mileage of the latter. It's a moot point as i can't aford it anyway.

In more reasonable news, We've booked everything for our Alaskan Cruise - trying to bargain shop, but not totally go on the cheap. I write this to see if anyone else would still like to join us on the cruise...come on, you know you want to!

I finished up Harry Potter tonight, and no one spoiled me on the ending. Very good! it was interesting reading it as Chris played songs from the Wicked soundtrack.

Oh, one more thing I want - I want to be rid of my acne! Hasn't it been long enough? I keep clean!
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Set Phasers to Random

✔As the trivia lovin' guy I am, I am watching VH1's World Series of Pop Culture. One of these days I need to get a team going and try out. Still, I'm watching the episodes a few days late, and the commercials give away which teams have won. Grr.

✔The first cars I drove were my parents. There was my mom's crap-brown Buick Century station wagon which I drove my friends to prom in, and my dad's at one time light metallic blue Buick Skylark. I say one time because the blue paint came off in the first year - all on it's own..We called it the Rustmobile. For much of it's life the Rustmobile was covered with grey primer. It was never painted again.

I hoped my dad would buy me a car, but that didn't happen until my second year of college. I remember finding a well-kept Fiat that I was hoping to convince my dad I needed when I was a high-school junior. MY dad took it for a spin before telling me unless I could come up with the $5,000.00 and insurance, I wasn't getting a convertible.

I've still wanted a convertible ever since.

✔I saw a story today about taking your dog to work day. I'd love to do that. I think Joey would enjoy running around the ranch.

✔I see there's a meme going around for people to name the song that was number one on the day you were born. Mine's The Doors Light My Fire. Not sure what that says about me.

✔I'm on the elliptical machine tonight and the guy who must watch Fox News while working out comes in, and changes one of the TV's to Fox to watch the O'Reiley Factor. He actually yells at people if they try to change the channel. I was happily reading a sex scene in Michael Tolliver Lives tonight, listening to an NPR podcast hoping he'd see the word "cocksucker" or something. If he did, he said nothing. He knows I don't like O'Reiley because I laugh at the "serious" issues as I read them on the closed captioning.

Tonight they were covering an explosion in New York City, and although they kept posting that it was not terror related, they kept covering it and talking about what a terrorist attack would be like if this was one. It seemed like an unimportant story, but they kept trying to play it up and play the scare tactics.

Of course, there's the reports that our administration's actions in Iraq have made the Al-Queda organization stronger. Scare tactic or sad reality?

✔Lastly, So I don't win the training job, and what am I doing at my team meeting tomorrow? I'm training the team on a new rollout of the imaging and workflow program. The new person still hasn't been announced, and we couldn't wait on the rollout. At least my boss thinks I can do this and is willing to give me some opportunities.
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One of those odd bit of minutia that will get me thinking for a bit is car names. Several of them change over the years, but there's many that have stayed around. It seems that every year there's a Toyota Camry and Corolla and a Honda Accord. GM also likes to keep the names of the larger vehicles going, year after year, like the Chevy Malibu and the Pontiac Bonneville. Even Ford realized they had made a mistake by not continuing the familiar Taurus name when they introduced the Five Hundred. There will be a 2008 Taurus.

I'm sure that they create tons of marketing focus groups when they decide to name a new model, but the models that seem to get new names all the time are the low end, entry level cars. Gone are the Toyota Tercel, the Ford Fiesta, and the Dodge Omni. Heck, even the Ford Aspire - on my lists of worst names for a car, is gone.

The only consistent name I can think of is the Honda Civic. I had one 15 years ago, and the name was already old then. I'd also include the VW Golf, but they just recently changed back to the VW Rabbit.

Now we have the Nissan Versa, Ford Focus and the Toyota Yaris. Only one of these words is actually a word.

What happened to the Barracudas and Dusters and Le Mans? All good names. Certainly better than another car with some alpha-numeric combination.

Of course No one would return to the names Edsel, Pinto or Corvair (Unsafe at any speed) but certainly the VW Thing is a better name than Toureg. What happened to the Subaru Brat or the Dodge Hornet? I think those could be brought back as well. I think the GMC Jimmy should stay in mothballs, though.

Change might be good. Certainly changing from an infamous name is a good idea, like Ford's decision to drop the long standing Broncho name after the famous OJ Simpson drive down a freeway, but the replacement (as the TV show Arrested development notes) of the Ford Escape does leave you wondering what they were thinking.

Still, I'd love to have an convertible Edsel, probably because of the name - oh and the suggestive grillwork.


Jun. 29th, 2006 11:54 pm
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Today I got to drive Chris' car. It's the first time I've done it. Chris needed to borrow my car so he could pick up a popcorn popper for his work. Those bitches were having a "movie day." We're lucky that we get a jeans day every quarter, and here they are loafing off, watching films. Very unfair, I say.

So I had the dark blue Mazda 3 hatchback for the day, and actually I was good, just driving to and from work, with a stop for gas since Chris didn't fill up. I know my car had plenty of gas. (well, that's just a little dig, I was just lucky enough to have filled up on Tuesday). Chris however, did get his car washed the other day and the car's interior still has a very strong pseudo-vanilla chemical scent.

Now, after driving an SUV for the last 8 years it's really strange to be so low to the ground. Of course I silently remarked about this driving Mikel's Mercedes sedan back from TMC one night, but the 3 felt even lower to the ground. I ride in it all the time in the passenger's seat, but it's a different feeling to be driving, and feeling like you're just a body panel away from the asphalt.

I guess the other difference is perspective. Being up higher on the road lets you peek over some of the other cars and see traffic patterns better. being down on the same level as the others, or lower than the trucks makes it harder - for me - to make lane change decisions and such. Still, when I bought the Escape in November I had to get used to the fact that it's a little bit lower than the X-Terra was. That vehicle was really high up - and that's why they had to change the design, it was too prone to tipping over.

Otherwise, the car is nice because of the stereo buttons on the steering wheel. That's a little luxury I wish my car had, though i did miss my Sirius radio this morning. I still didn't tune into regular radio though, sticking with my iPod. Chris uses his time in the car to listen to several podcasts. I tend to listen to BTalk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me while working out in the gym, instead.

The amenities in each car are about the same, leather seats, moon roof, the 3 just has them on a smaller scale.

Chris tends to drive slower than I do too, so I'm sure the Escape was happy not having to go 75mph down 635 today. I kept my speed down a little, just to be good about it, but the car did have good pep and was good in the lane changes.

I get to drive his car again tomorrow as he needs to return the popcorn cart back to the rental place. He's going to be nice and have my car washed, but I hope he tells them to go light on the scent.


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