Sunday, April 30, 2006

A first time for everything.

Today I bartended at a Jewish funeral. The tipping was a little tight, but there were some really hot chicks there.

In all seriousness, the ceremony was really great. The deceased (his name was Don) sounded like a great guy. then again: it takes a nice guy to need an 800 capacity venue for a funeral; who isn't made to sound really great in a memorial. There were some really attractive younger women too.

Ceremonial burial is an odd thing. Today, I suppose it exists much more for the remaining than for the deceased. This afternoon, the deceased had been creamated. His widow asked us to put a dark beer by his remains, I didn't charge her for the Guiness. I had never been to a service without an open casket. I think the creamation really allowed people to focus more on the memory of their friend/relative. Open casket funerals are much more morbid; the lifeless and empty looking cadaver of someone you once knew always a present reminder that they won't be coming back, and that you too will die, probably sooner than you think. I'm all about creamation. Not to mention it's way cheaper. Did I mention the foxes at the service?

Back to finals projects.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Barely keeping my pants on.

If you ran around all the time without pants on, you would be declared insane. Therefore, everybody is only one pair of pants away from insanity. The onset of the "end of the semester crunch" has me unzipping my fly. I was in a computer lab from 7:30PM to 3AM yesterday and the end is far from in sight.

Beware, at least the next two paragraphs are really boring.

I take classes that sound really exciting like: Integrated Production and Manufacturing Analysis (jump on the sarcasm bus, it's leaving). In said class last Tuesday we simulated a supply chain and made observations on why the whole thing was a massive failure. The basic concept: we had 3 different chains. Each chain was independent of the others and was composed of a retailer, distributor, wholesaler, and factory. The professor handed out customer demands to each of the retailers, who then passed orders for product down to the distributor, who then ordered from the wholesaler, who then ordered from the factory. It was more expensive to have backlogged orders than to have excess inventory; people ordered more than they need to avoid the costs of backlogging orders. Everybody in this class room has had 6 semesters of statistics and at least a full year of forecasting methods and algorithms.

I was paired up with a girl as a wholesaler. When we started, she was instant messenging a fried on her laptop and I was running the whole show. Things were going well. Eventually she turned off her computer and said "Why aren't you letting me write anything? I need to participate." I said ok and gave her the pencil and let her take care of all our data and orders from the factory, while I took care of the distributor side of things. She proceeded to screw up our data, while using awful and in now way mathematically robust theory for her ordering. Our costs go through the roof, we send our factory's cost through the roof, and we are unable to deliver regularly to our distributor. Her methods cause the problem to grow exponentially. Needless to say, I was pissed. My redemption came today when the professor put up a chart of our chain and commented how well we had done for the first half (all me), and then how we had gone downhill fast and ended up being the worst team by far (my wonderful partner's contribution to the team).

Point in case, this girl was stupid, and would not make an adequate employee in the manufacturing world. She needs to be told what to do, have her hand held, micromanaged, not given much responsibility. I think her GPA is better than mine, and she already has a well paying job lined up for when she graduates in 3 weeks. I am concerned that universities today are turning out this type of employee. My program is good, often ranked in the top 25 in the nation. This girl just doesn't get it, and there are many others like her. They memorize formulas, they do enough practice problems to know all the methods, but they couldn't prove our explain the roots of any of them. For every understanding student coming out of my program, there are 2 that have good GPAs, but are clueless. I think employers are starting to understand that GPA is not necesarily associated with a good employee in today's innovative, cost cutting, and globally competitive world.

I don't think this is anything new, I'm just wondering if we could solve the problem with our educational system, or if some people are just stupid and can't get it. I'd like to think these people could get it, but by the time they get to college it's too late. Something needs to be done to keep these people out of positions with real responsibility or to give them the tools to handle that responsibility properly.

I'm not saying that I will know all the answers right out of school, but I will know way more than this girl, and be more effective than she could be. I will not only learn about the industry I'm in, but learn from it and about what makes it tick. Even if that means relying on the stupid people above me who are only above me because they have been there for 20 years.

Oh.. and apparently I'm on crack:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

So I know this guy

I thought I would offer up another example of how college students have way to much spare time on their hands (this blog is one example). I know this guy who periodically writes letters to VIPs of just about anything, and makes outlandish requests. I have known him for about 4 years and he probably writes about one or two letters a year... here a a few I remember:

- To the owner of the cardinals (not the coach or manager) When McGwire had just announced retirement my buddy penned a letter applying for the position of "home run hitter" to fill the void McGwire was about to leave. After establishing the point of his letter, he spent about a page and a half describing in depth a home run that he had hit playing wiffle ball a couple of weeks prior.

- To the CEO of FOX (the TV channel) he proposed a reality series that began with 64 pregnant women who would compete in head to head immunity challeges. The 32 losers had to get abortions, repeat down to 16, and then to 8. At this point all 8 women and their children's respective fathers would move into a house where the usual reality drama would occur and America, by tuning in and voting online would decide who got voted out of the house. When you got voted out of the house... you guessed it, abortion. I'm pretty certain the FBI is now watching him after this letter.

-My personal favorite went to NASA. He asked NASA to build him a boat that would go mach 7 ( approximately 5000 miles per hour) so he could circumnavigate the globe from east to west and always stay in the sun. He proceeded to explain what maritime routes he would use, and why the boat needed to go exactly that fast (calculations included). He finished the letter (which was more like a technical report) by stating he need for such a boat was so he, "could have more time to get things done during the day."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Save a penny, earn 50% interest

Right now, the market value of the zinc and copper within a single penny is valued at nearly 0.9 cents. And since it costs an additional 0.6 cents to manufacture a penny, according to the paper, the Mint is paying roughly 1.5 cents for every penny it makes.

full article:

In 2001 there were 10,334,590,000 pennies minted. It is estimated there are 150 billion pennies (1.5 billion dollars) in circulation right now. OK US government, it's time to cut our losses. Let's get rid of the penny, even 12 year olds don't pick them up off the ground all the time. Any CEO would be fired for allowing this type of production to continue. That's not a stab at Bush, I don't like him, but it's not like this problem is new. The recipe for pennies had to be changed in 1982 when it became too expensive to make them. There are plenty of modern countries that don't use pennies or their .01 equivalent. Australia and New Zealand for example, only mint a .05 piece and larger.

The penny's time has come to an end. It's not killing anyone, it's just a bad investment, and I don't think our debt ridden country needs any more of those.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Natural selection... good

I like to visit old cemetaries; I don't think of cemetaries as morbid places of death, but more as local history books just waiting to be read. I like to walk around and look at the oldest graves, often finding all the names of surrounding townships. It is interesting to see what age people were dying. Many of the tombstones also give more information than name and span of existence.

A few weeks ago I found myself in a cemetary about 15 miles south of Columbia in a township called Sapp. Sapp is one of those places that just has the sign with a name, like they were too emabarrassed to post the actual population. For an establishment of population 60 (give or take), Sapp has a magnificent cemetary. For these parts, it is one of the older ones. Inside Nashville Cemetary (I don't fully understand the name, Nashville is a little community about 20 miles away, and Nashville cemetary is in the heart of Sapp) you can find, among others, this headstone.

If you can't read it it says:
John Edwards
Born in South Wales
Sept. 27, 1798
Nov 5, 1857

It is very possible Mr. Edwards made it out here only on horseback. Trains still weren't very popular when this guy was born, but they had changed the world by the time he died.

John Edwards died at 59. A ripe old age in those days. How do I know that 59 was a ripe old age? I've been to enough of these old graveyards to tell you that most people didn't kick past the age of 60 in 1860. This is where I'm constantly amazed at old cemetaries.

Old cemetaries have so many dead 40, 30 and even 20 year olds. How could so many people die in their 20s or 30s? You'd think if you made it that far you would keep rockin' for awhile. Even more amazing and some what discomforting is the number of dead children an infants you find. It's not suprising that in the days before good sanitization, doctors, and prenatal units alot of children died during or imeediately after birth. But what about all the kids who lived for 3 months to 10 years?

Son of
A.A. & E. E.
Mar. 9, 1894
Aged 5Ms. ~ 7Ds.

This headstone is by no means unique. These people had it rough.
Even in 1894 with a bustling commercial area, a growing university (of Missouri which was already 55 years old at the time), and some very good minds less than 20 miles to the north, they couldn't help this one, or the 20 or 30 other children in the cemetary.

So aside from the fact that life in general was physically a lot harder in the 1860s, you also had to deal with much more emotional stress in a shorter life span.

What I take from this:
1. Man I'm glad I live in the present
2. In 150 years people will be glad they didn't live today (that's quite optimistic, but if you look at history it sure makes sense, maybe the world isn't going to hell handbasket)
3. The people that survived, were fighters.

Pussies and whiners didn't hack it back then. If you were lazy, you didn't eat as much. If you couldn't hack it, you were much sooner left behind. Natural selection keeps the animal kingdom strong, and I often wish we had more of it in the hominus erectus species. If anything is the be the downfall of our society, I think it will be the fact that we all have it too easy.

For another view on the world's demise try here:

Friday, April 21, 2006

An image in chocolate to worship

They'ren't should be a word. A contraction of They are not... that has nothing to do with anything.

I worked a big rap show last night. I worked as a doorman for an hour or so, then behind the bar for the rest of the night. The crowd was probably 70-80% black and about 90% black and wiggers... The staff was 100% white (the staff more accurately represents the demographics of our city.... I think it's about 90/10) At the door we had to put up with all the same crap, people didn't want to throw their drinks away when they came in (in house policy), despite us telling the line not to bring cameras in (by request of the band), 40 people still brought cameras to the front door which were confiscated and returned at the end of the night. Minors offer you money to get the stamps and wristband for drinking, 22 year olds scoff when you ask for their ID, since they've been legal for a whole 16 months they should now look old enough to never be carded. There was one fight (chick fight.... Interestingly enough it seems as though at the predominately black shows the chicks fight, and at the white shows the guys fight) and some puking, a few minors got kicked out for drinking. All pretty basic. The bar however is a different story.

The bar at black shows is simply stunning. Out of 1000 people (we'll say 600 drinking) you get about 5 highrollers, 20 "normal" customers, 200 cheapskates, and 300 highrolling cheapskates. We'll chalk 75 up to people who don't fit in any category.
A high roller is exactly that, they never order below the top shelf, even when ordering drinks for the girls next to them. To the high rollers, Absolut is a well vodka, only grey goose or better can grace their taste buds. If a girl wants a bud light, the high roller will order them a Patron' margarita and tell them how good it is, if a girl wants gin a juice, the highroller orders Bombay sapphire and OJ.... You get the point. High rollers never pay with less than a $20 and leave appropriate sized tips, say $4-$5 on a $20 order (usually only two drinks for a highroller and the chick next to him he has never seen before). I have never seen a female high roller (they know they don't need to spend money to get some). The high rollers are most often dressed in clean, pressed white polos or button up shirts.

A normal customer can order any type of drink and will tip accordingly; for a $4 Cape Cod, they give you $5 and walk away. For a $7 Crown and Coke they leave $1 extra. Good, "normal" customers.

A cheapskate will drink well liquor or canned beer all night long. These are the Stag, PBR, Aristocrat, Kentucky Deluxe Drinkers. The normal customers order some of that too, the cheapskate just leaves out the tip. There is an unusually high ratio of cheapskates at black shows. The only comparable crowd is the "I need a pitcher of Coors light and a pack of Marlboro Reds white trash crowd."

The high rolling cheapskate is an anomaly of the bartending world. They annoy the piss out of you that night and make the best stories. The HRC wants to be a high roller, but doesn't have the money or most importantly the knowledge to do so. They also only order from the top shelf, but they ask you every single time to "make it really strong", or "can you put some extra liquor in that" or "go easy on the juice/coke." These are sometimes accompanied by "I'll tip you good man" (for a HRC that means $.50 on an $8 or $9 drink when an expected tip is $1, and normal tip is $2, and a good tip is $3+). They want the top shelf, but they don't want to pay for it. These people will not order well drinks. More than once, an HRC has approached me at the end of the night asking how much redbull and goose they can get for $5, when I tell them that red bull and grey goose is $9, but I could do well vodka for $5 (no tip for me), they proceed to whine and beg for goose before simply walking away. Now, there is a BIG difference between Aristocrat and Grey Goose, but when it's with red bull and you're already 5 drinks in, you can't tell that much.
So they're cheap, but that's not funny. What's funny is that these people are so concerned about image and have so little knowledge that they follow a simple rubric to order their drinks: Top shelf liquor that you've heard of, mixed with your favorite mixer. These people know Remy Martin, Hennessey (thanks to Snoop), Patron', Grey Goose, and Crown Royal. All of which I believe have been mentioned in popular rap songs within the last 5 years. Last night I received orders for the following:
- Hennessey/Remy and Red bull (a lot)/Coke/Pineapple (cognacs are not to be mixed, they should be straight up or on the rocks.. And Jesus?!?! With pineapple juice?)
- Grey Goose and Coke (Never ever mix Vodka and coke, seriously, what are you thinking?)
-Patron' and Coke (tequila and coke... WTF?)
And this one take the cake: Patron' and grey goose... just mixed on the rocks for no tip. Now that is a true HRC.
If you know anything about drinking, that list probably just made your stomach turn.

I don't know what image these people are chasing, but they aren't there. By trying to be something they're not they are simply exposing their shortfalls (finances and knowledge) and making themselves look even more ridiculous. These are the same people that paid $40 for a ticket to a show where the headliner barely showed up (1 out of 6 guys in the band) and only played for 9 minutes. That's right, I shit you not, 9 minutes. Three songs followed by, "thank you Mr. Manager for having me, that'll be $20,000".
I don't know if it is today's media, the HRC trying to overcome a stereotype, or something I haven't thought of yet... but something is motivating these people to go only for image.

This may seem racist to those of you who don't know me. I'm not racist, those who have worked in clubs/concert halls with very diverse clientele can back me up, this is the way it is, and it's crazy.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Broken Promises

I broke a 12 year old promise last week. I took a job at the Colosseum Bistro.

When I was in 4th grade Mr. Obert brought in a guest speaker that talked to us about something that I'm sure was very important. All I remember from her presentation was the quote, "everyone in this room will work in the food industry at some point." Mr. Obert, whom I had a great deal of respect for stated his agreement. Mind you, this is when I was still a nerd and not the arrogant little shit that I am today. In my little yellow plastic chair and desk at that very moment I made a vow to myself never to work in food service, not in any way shape or form. I would not have a job at McDonald's, I would not build restaurants with a construction crew, I would not work at a Tyson factory, I wouldn't even create an advertisement or webpage for a food related company. I had nothing against employees of the food industry, I just didn't like being told what I was going to do by some total stranger.

When I accepted the job at the Bistro I still felt a little twinge of pain, giving up that idea that I have held onto since I was 10. I think the job will be fine, twill be steady hours, twill be decent pay. Still, I feel as though I have given up on something meaningful. Stupid I know.

The good news is, that internal pact has lead me to several great jobs, none of which involved discounts at Taco Bell. Since I was 14 I have held the following jobs: political telemarketer, webmaster (, lifeguard, RCPA (An RA in college dorms that aslo teaches a 1 hour class), under qualified industrial engineer, janitor, bouncer/barback, bartender. I have enjoyed everyone of these jobs and I hope that my new endeavor into the evil realm of food service will prove me wrong and be as fruitful as my previous experiences. Regardless, working for pay has been good to me, and if life keeps up like this, I plan on enjoying it quite a bit.

Why adults should get spring break too.

Spring break was a couple of weeks ago, but it was too good not to document. Mizzou cycling head out to Moab Utah for 6 days of dudes, dirt, and debauchery. A full account of the trip can be found at the Walt's bike shop blog here:

Here's the visual help:

That's me.. and some rocks, and the Colorado river. The trail is called Moab rim and it's a great 4x4 trail, or one hell of a mountain bike climb. 1.5 miles of very constant and strenuous climbing. Last year I didn't make it to the top in one shot; after about a mile of climbing I had to stop because I was losing control of my bowels (NOTE: there are no leaves to wipe with in Moab, only prickly sticks). This year I made it without too much problem and with complete control of my bodily functions.

We got back to CoMo on Friday of break, around noon. I left for bike races in Purdue at 5 PM that day... ITT on Saturday and a crit on Sunday.

The break in numbers:

Hours spent in a car: 48

Hours spent on bike: 23

Longest day: 7 hours (on from 10 Am to 6 PM with a few stops)

The bottom line is, aside from the car time. The break was great, it gave me the ability to survive the crunch week and finals week that are coming up. It prolonged my sanity. Summer coming soon!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Today was a pretty good day. I got some stuff (new helmet, pedals, and wine). I ate some food, had a drink with some friends. The only thing that makes today feel any different is the half egg protruding from my forehead. The story of the half egg takes us back to Wed.

I was riding a Harrisuburg look with my roomie Greg (in picture). All was well until a wasp decided to fly right into a vent the front of my helmet. I'm all one with nature so this is totally cool until the little guy decided totake up an attitude, apparently he had somewhere to be and had not time to ride with me. So he flies into my house... then has the audacity to sting me right in the brain! A direct shot to the frontal lobe. Needless to say, a wasp sting to the forehead hurts like a mother. I had a headache for the rest of Wednesday night. Come Thursday I had developed a half egg shape on my forehead. Now it is Friday and the swelling has migrated south and is putting quite a bit of pressure on the bridge of my nose. I think it's time to make a midnight run to Walgreen's for some ibuprofen.

Oh yeah, and that picture is taken at the skate park where I tried to get in touch with my inner punk kid bad ass (after hill repeats on easley). It only resulted in a sore wrist.

Johnathon Swift what?

The South Park guys have done it again. They pissed off one group of people, then as rebuttal for their forced cencorship, they pissed off another group of people. The only problem this time, is the second group they pissed off is very big and very powerful in America. I love South Park

For those of you who don't care for 3rd grade cartoons with potty mouths, here's the skinny:
Remember those cartoons of Mohammad that ended up in the senseless deaths of many innocent people and the burning of Danish consulates in more than one international location? The same cartoons that showed how spineless out government is when they issued a statement saying only that the cartoons were wrong (smart yes... but also spineless, most would agree burning buildings and killing people is wrong as well, why didn't our wonderful representatives mention that?) Yeah, those cartoons... well Trey and Matt decided they wanted to have a say in the matter.

The 1st of 2 chapters in the latest South Park episodes centers around Fox airing an episode of Family Guy where Mohammad is depicted. Great because they are making fun of Family Guy (which I also enjoy, but find to be quite ADD and much less intellectually stimulating than South Park), they are making fun of the censors (I appreciate freedom of speech no matter how many toes somebody is stepping on), they criticize the government's response (Mr. Mackey and his school lesson on why it's wrong) and above all they are making fun of how freaked out society is by the possibilty of an offensive image.

The 2nd chapter, which I have not seen, but will track down tonight, apparently ends up with Fox airing the episode. When the image of Mohammad is to be seen the screen flashes "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network" Shortly after the shows takes us to an "image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag"

If you want more, check out the article from

So why is that ok, but Mohammad isn't?Why are people these days so concerned about things that might offend someone else?What is happening to freedom of speech?Are people just to stupid to recognize satire, or too immature to handle it? I mean, it's obvious South Park is just trying to push buttons and by getting any response they are the winners.

I think 2 quotes from the episodes sum it up.
In class the children are being taught why depicting Mohammad is wrong:
Teacher: Depicting Mohammad in any way is wrong, mkay.
Kyle: If you're a Muslim.

If a Muslim is depicting Mohammad, people (fellow Muslims) should be pissed at that person, probably not his employer and definately not his country or other people associated with his country... If a Christian is a hypocrite, people (fellow Christians) should be pissed (and I don't mean drunk)... If an agnostic drinks heavily and blasphemes Jesus, Christians shoud say, "oh that stupid drunk, may he burn in hell." Not try and pass an ordinance to make public blasphemy a crime. This is my definition of tolerance. This type of tolerance requires freedom, not restraint.

When Kyle is talking to the Fox executives he says:"Either it's all OK, or none of it is. Do the right thing"My stance is it's all ok. But I still agree with the quote whole heartedly.

Two simple quotes. It's wrong if you believe that; all or nothing, do the right thing.

Trey and Matt: may you burn in hell, never reach nirvana, be reincarnated as a rock, have bad karma rain upon you and the next 40 generations of your families' But please oh please keep the satire loud and clear, maybe you'll learn a few people in the process.