Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wall Street

The economic crisis almost doesn't bother me.

In a way, I am in a very fortunate position. I'm lucky because I have no student loans that could hold me down. I'm also lucky because I own no property that could otherwise drag me down. I am certain that I have lost a lot of money in my investments, but I've found that the best way to maintain my morale is to not look at those investments. I figure I wasn't going to touch them for another six to seven years anyway, and by then the stock market will have recovered. Right?

I live off of $40 a week in groceries and another $30 a week in other expenses. So really, when I see the stock market falling 700 points, all I really think is, "Finally, everyone else is being brought down to my level."

But everyone is afraid right now. And I won't lie. I'm afraid too. But really, the only thing that scares the hell out of me is that the economy is going to collapse and Amanda and I will be trapped on opposite sides of the country. An imploding economic sector, I can deal with. But that thought is truly scary.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Road Signs

I really like road signs. They’re supposed to be official government endorsed information devices, but sometimes I think they’re too serious for their own good. Weird and ironic phrases slip through and the warnings can be ridiculous.
Some of them are unintentionally hilarious because they try so hard to be grave. I find it amazing.

I can compare it to a particularly strange situation in high school with my vice principal. It was the Spring of my senior year, and I was hanging out in the cafeteria while a bunch of kids were screwing around with a vending machine.

Eventually everyone realized that the pranksters had managed to put something into the device, and were watching the food rotate and laughing hysterically. Cookies, soda, chips, and a purple glittery dildo circled in the machine. Eventually, the vice principal showed up, and not being able to pin down the culprit, angrily yelled at all of us (while clutching the sparkly sex toy in his fist). “That's why there is no student commons. Because there are dildos in the vending machines!” He chucked the phallus into the trashcan and stomped out of the cafeteria.

It made the entire situation ten times better. He was so stern, and was ready to threaten us with anything to make everyone behave.

I find road signs that way. They try to be so serious, and completely miss the levity of the situation. In Badlands National Park in South Dakota we passed a simple sign that said, “WARNING: PLAGUE IN PRAIRIE DOG COLONIES”.

What? But it was for real. Others I’ve seen in the last few weeks include depictions of stick figures running away from tsunamis, being flung from their bikes, getting gored by buffalo, falling into geysers, and having toll gates smashed on their heads.

I also like unusual animal crossings (like Elk, Moose, Bison, etc.) and runaway truck ramps/roads (particularly if there’s a runaway truck on it). Something about all these signs amuses me to no end. They transcend every language, and their imagery often translates something very different: RUN FROM HUGE WAVES, DANCE WITH BUFFALO, and PARK BIKE IN RUT FOR FUN RIDE!

Some day my friends will all be sitting at home with their antiques, coin collections, and knitting, but I will still be driving around, looking for strange signs to photograph.

Friday, September 5, 2008


MINNEAPOLIS -- The Oregon delegation at the Republican National Convention has been accusing the Texas delegation of being extremely obnoxious with their hats.

Personally, I think they are just biased against hats. They made fun of my hat too.

But other allegations included the Texans bringing their alternate delegates and guests down, causing them to expand beyond their designated space on the convention floor.

I can believe that would be annoying. These hats probably need more space than the average Texan. They are that big and obnoxious.

As I write, the hats are streaming into the Minneapolis airport. It makes me feel for my crew who have to connect through Dallas. Allow me to replay a conversation from this morning:

Trey: Yep, there's a Texas delegate.
Justin: There's another one over there.
::silence as the terminal is flooded with big hats::
Trey: Man, we are fucked.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Top 12 Most Ridiculous and Amazing Moments of this Summer

12. The Fireworks Warehouse

While driving out to Portland, Brit and I stopped at a heavily advertised fireworks store called Pyro City in Wyoming. We wanted to see what it was like, but quickly left when we realized that someone breathing too hard would probably cause a nuclear explosion.

11. Moving to Portland
Upon moving into Brit’s house, I quickly learned that we lived next to a cool bridge, and between a police station and a wrestling ring. You can hear the matches on Friday evenings, and people have been arrested in front of our house.

10. The Night Ride
Brit and I entered a 15 mile night bike ride which required costumes and bike headlights and tail lights. Shortly after getting in a fender-bender and mending our bikes (which had been on the back of the car), we arrived in full Hawaiian regalia and rode with a huge pack of 2,000 riders through Portland, all similarly decked out in lights in costumes. Seeing all the lights flicker was like looking at Christmas light displays.

9. Snow in July
We decided to go for a hike up Larch Mountain on July 5th. The hike has a cool lookout with views of Mt. St. Helen’s, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. Unfortunately, when we got to the trailhead, the whole area was covered with snow and fog. We were terribly underdressed, expecting hot weather in July. We took a few quick pictures of where the mountains supposedly were, and got the hell out to warmer weather.

8. Wildfires
As my mom and I were driving back across the country, we ended up driving through a wildfire in Wyoming. Firemen escorted us through the smoldering area, and everything was covered in ash and smoke. Firefighters guarded the road to stop the fire from crossing it, and tents and trucks covered a huge parking lot that served as a temporary basecamp for all the people working.

7. Masada, Israel
In Israel, we woke up at 3am and boarded the bus to drive to Masada, the Jewish fortress, and hike the mountain in time to see the sunrise. After several mishaps, we left very late and scrambled (well, literally ran) up the steep stairs to get to the top just as the sun started to come up over the desert.

6. Wall Drug
Wall Drug is a giant mall/tourist trap/drug store in Wall, South Dakota, which advertises for hundreds of miles in every direction. Because Sturgis motorcycle rally was only several miles away, the place was crawling with bikers and shirts depicting the rally. It’s so overly hyped up that apparently there are signs in Afghanistan and the South Pole indicating how many miles you are from the store. It has strange oddities and paraphernalia, including a six-foot jackalope (jackrabbit/antelope mixed breed) that I got to ride.

5. Team USA Rugby Game
Brit surprised me by taking me to an NA4 (North America 4) game between the two USA teams, the Hawks and the Falcons. Highlights included a man's shirt being mostly torn off, a player who leaped OVER a ruck (like, through the air), and getting free Frisbees, shirts, and bags.

4. Prom Dress Scrimmage
This is always a blast at the end of the semester. Despite breaking my thumb in the game, I had an awesome time running around with everyone in ridiculous dresses from the salvation army, getting covered in mud, and tearing them to shreds. Hey, we also made it into the alumni magazine. Check out the slide show here - click the link on the right side.

3. HamTrek
Well, I have to toot my own horn a bit and mention the fact that I did a triathlon at the end of school. I'd like to say that I flew through it and it was a breeze, but I felt like I was going to vomit/die at the end. I got the cast on my hand the day before the race (it was waterproof so I could swim with it), but I can't blame too much of my exhaustion on it - I just wasn't in the best of shape. While I didn't get the best time, I was really excited just to be able to finish the race.

2. Chaka Kahn

So maybe this shouldn't be number two…but I think it probably makes for the best story. As I was flying from Portland to Syracuse for my cousin’s wedding, Chaka Kahn and her band got onto the plane with me at my layover in Chicago. They had apparently played the night before for 50,000 (I was sitting next to one of the band members on the plane, and he mentioned it). She was sitting a few rows behind me and playing in Syracuse that night. Everyone chatted about her for the whole flight.

1. Adirondack Adventure
Always amazing. Crazy games, getting to romp through the woods for five days, and playing in canoes and kayaks. The kids are great, you get to be filthy without being judged, and we saw loons, frogs, bald eagles and leeches. Yum.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

"It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow"

Driving from New York to Portland took a long time.

I imagine the reverse will too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Credit Card Madness

My credit card is due to expire in a few months, so I've been keeping an eye out for a new one. Brit gets sweet deals and cash back from REI, my other friend told me about the gas gift cards he gets once a month, and I know other people who get good airfare deals. I figured I'd do away with my dinky Wachovia card that gets me n o t h i n g and get a new card that earns me frivolous rewards. After all, she works hard for the money, so hard for it honey, she works hard for the money so you better treat her right.

So I started to investigate different cards, and there are a shit-ton of them. I had no idea. I thought it was just Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. But I was very, very wrong.

There are legitimate causes to support. Affiliations to dedicate yourself to. Hobbies and stores and organizations and animals. So here I will present to you the wide world of credit cards available, just in case you need help researching your options.

First off, there are the genuine organizations. Just having this credit card in your wallet would give you a perpetual warm fuzzy feeling. When you whip it out to buy, say, your textbooks, $80 in gas, or even a six pack, you can nod solemnly to the cashier and say, "I just hate how XYZ's's the least I can do...donating 1% of every dollar I spend. That means once a year, the XYZ federation gets a check for $6.87, and it's all because of me. I just can't sit back and not do anything about it, you know?" You can support:

Guide Dogs
And honestly, who wouldn't want a picture like that on their credit card?

The Human Rights Campaign (aka, gay people)
Because who doesn't like gay people? (Except for conservatives, religious fundamentalists, and Iran). Having this will show everyone how open-minded and supportive you are. See: Stuff White People Like: Having Gay Friends

Arbor Day Foundation (Trees)
Trees are good.

More cute fuzzy animals that go on your credit card

Latina Style
Help empower deserving Latinas

Anyway, you get the point. The next category is: Useful things. These cards will earn you gas, miles, or rewards in a particular brand or store.

If you send a lot of stuff, this is probably useful for you

Pretty sweet. Free books and movies? Not a bad gig.

If you really like slushies, this may be your credit card

This is for people who like to buy the Hess Trucks at Christmas time

If you buy a lot of tires, or just like the marshmallow-y guy, this one's cool

Eskimo Joe's Restaurant and Bar
Do you frequent this restaurant in Stillwater Oklahoma? This could be your big break.

Not a bad way to go, if you obsessively buy things of one brand, or live in 7-Eleven or Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Now we have: Pledging your alliance to a particular club, team, group, or organization.

Are you retired? Get the magazine? This may be useful. Unfortunately, you must have a career before you retire, so that counts me out of this one.

Harley Davidson
If you ride a hog or are a member of the Hell's Angels, this is one for you.

Cornell University
Apparently several larger universities now have their own credit cards. Hamilton, having 1800 students (compared to Cornell's 20,000) does not.

The Academy of General Dentistry
There are several professional cards like this. Unfortunately, they don't have an APA (American Psychological Association) one. I'm guessing this is a good conversation starter, though. "Why yes, I am a dentist! No thanks, I don't need a receipt for that donut."

If the HRC card isn't gay enough for you, there is the WNBA card.

Rocky Mountain Elk Fountain
RMEF members must wait no longer!

Other animal affinity clubs include The American Paint Horse Association, Whitetails Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Salmon Nation (make the leap!)

If those weren't ridiculous enough for you, the more bizarre ones have their own category: "I don't know why you would ever get this." Aka, Absurd Credit Cards.

The KISS Card
If you never quite got over the 80's

World Of Warcraft
I don't even know what to say about this

Star Wars: Galactic Rewards
Darth Vader OR Yoda Platinum!

Ultimate Fighting Championship
If the WNBA and HRC cards weren't gay enough, you can get the UFC card! Honestly, I think the UFC ranks up there as one of the top homosexual things ever, but that's for another post.

Their slogan: "It says 'Hooters' on the card!" WHY is that a good thing!?

The Wizard of Oz (Complete with the Tin Man)
Because because because because because...because of the wonderful things it does...

...what kind of rewards would you get with this...?

Hello Kitty
Again, I don't know what to say. This is quite possibly the winner.

In conclusion, I am no closer to choosing a credit card than before I started this research. Yay Wachovia!