Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts

Here are some random things I've been thinking about lately:

1. It's a good thing brake lights show as red instead of green or some other color.
I think that if people's brake lights were green, there would probably be a lot more accidents. If you see red while you're driving, it usually means stop.

2. Being interesting is not always a good thing. The
other day I was on a bus and a man started talking to me; he didn't have his glasses so he couldn't read the bus schedule without pressing his face against the case holding the schedule (and he preferred not to do that.) After I told him when the bus was supposed to come, he kept talking to me. When the bus came, he sat across from me and was still talking.

He had a lot of interesting stories. He'd been married three times, and had three kids with different mothers. His first wife had been killed by a drunk driver, but the other two hadn't worked out either. His last marriage didn't even last for a year. He hasn't really dated anyone since then. We talked about cars; we were riding the bus, but he's had some fast cars in his time. He told me about races, and driving over 300 mph, and about the time he rolled his car and broke tons of bones. He told me about his friend being stabbed as part of someone's gang initiation. And about driving him to the hospital, going so fast that four
police cars chased him and the police followed him into the hospital. He talked about some time he'd spent in jail. He talked about his job, and working tons of hours, and about little things like how he and his son have the same prescription, so his son will take his glasses sometimes. There were other stories, too.

And I've always kind of thought that being interesting was something desirable. I want to be the kind of person that is so interesting that people want to know me, and want to hear about the random things I've done. And I enjoy being around people that have a lot of stories to tell about wild adventures. Talking to this guy made me crave stability and simplicity, though. His stories were crazy, and even though I
absolutely believed that they were true (well, I think he may have exaggerated about some of the car racing stuff), I didn't want them.

3. If you think about it, it's really kind of a miracle that Chef salads exist. There are so many things that have to go exactly perfect for them to be prepared. How was anyone ever able to dream them up?

Consider my Arby's salad which had lettuce, bacon, chicken, tomatoes, egg, cucumber, cheese, and ranch dressing.
In order for me to have my salad...

The lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber had to grow. They had to be grown in specific climates, with precise amounts of water at specific times. They needed to have pest control (which had to be developed by someone, sold and bought by people, and applied by someone, or applied by a machine that had to be invented, etc.) Once they were grown, they had to be picked at the right time. They needed to be cleaned, shipped. (Transportation had to be developed.) They had to be cut. Even with all of these things going right, they only had a limited time that they would stay good for, and all three things had to have those short times coincide perfectly.

The cows, chickens, and pigs had to be raised. They needed food, water, and land. They needed to not die, not be eaten, and they needed to be killed at the right time. The chickens needed to lay eggs. Someone had to collect the eggs before they went bad, and the eggs couldn't accidentally become more chickens. [And chickens don't always lay eggs. We had a big chicken coop thing at one of our houses, and the chickens were like, stressed or something, and wouldn't lay.] The animal meat had to be processed. There needed to be butchers, and people who knew what parts of meat are used for what, and machines to process stuff. It all had to happen pretty quickly, too, because meat can go bad. Also, animals usually only give birth at certain times of the year, so the animals had to be born. Once the meat was ready, it needed to be shipped, and kept cold. There had to be truck drivers. There had to be the invention of knives for cutting, and fences for containing, and the animals couldn't be sickly. The animals had to be cut into useful sizes. There needed to be grease for cooking them. There needed to be pepper for my bacon. My chicken was breaded, so there needed to be wheat grown and processed, etc, too.

For each of the things that needed to be shipped, trucks had to be made, gas had to be imported, streets had to be built, people had to drive, and they had to know where to take the stuff too.

There had to be so so so many tools. And my chef salad bowl had to be manufactured.

Plus there had to be people at Arby's to prepare it for me. All of these things had to happen at precise times, like within a window of a couple weeks, and they all had to occur at exactly the same place.

How on earth did that ever happen? I am amazed that for $5 all of those things happened for me the other day.

4. Third wheels are sometimes useful. For example, tricycles are an important step before someone can ride with two wheels. Also, at least in Italy there were small trucks that had three wheels. Riding bikes is fun sometimes, but the power and potential of even a dinky three-wheel truck is vastly superior to that of a two-wheeled bicycle. Like when it rains, people on bicycles get wet. People in dinky three-wheel trucks do not. In motorized vehicles, usually people can go farther than on bicycles. Also, with a bicycle, if your tire pops you're really out of luck. If your tire popped and you happened to have a third wheel with you, that would fix the problem. So people talk about "being a third wheel" as though it's a bad thing, and it kind of is, but if you really think about it, third wheels are sometimes very useful.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Excellent Trip Story

I have a fantastic story from the beginning of our drive down to California for Christmas.

We left at about 11:30 am, I think, and I tried to sleep on the ride down since I'd just finished work and I'd not slept anytime recently.

I woke up as we were pulling off of the I-15 at Fillmore. Jess and Mitch let me know that it was time for lunch and I could either choose Burger King or Arby's. "Arby's," I said. Back home in Calfornia, I knew people who had worked at our local BK, and they had awful stories confirming every fast food rumor you've ever heard: people DID pee in the pickle juice. Stuff that dropped on the floor WAS picked up and served anyhow, especially if it was fish since it takes a long time to cook. And there was definitely a cockroach infestation. To prove that my friends were not lying, our local BK had a "B" rating, which is kind of hard to get when inspected; stuff has to be wrong. Reading Fast Food Nation did not improve my opinion of Burger King. I think it's probably been 5 or 6 years since I've eaten at a Burger King.

"No, we've had Arby's a lot lately. We're eating at Burger King," they decided. And it was fine, because the local California Burger King is run by completely different people, and a lot of time has passed anyway.

We parked and walked into the gas station market, which connected to the Burger King. There was a really really long line.

Jess and I left Mitch in line, and went to use the facilities. When we came back, Mitch was near the front of the line. (We asked him about it later, and he said a bunch of people were just waiting for their food. Some people just left. "I guess I should've taken that as a hint...")

We waited at the front of the line for a long time. There were two girls working. One was cooking food, and the other girl was wandering around, watching the girl in back cook. She wasn't passing out the food that was ready; just watching it pile up. Lots of people were waiting.

Finally we ordered food. We waited for about 20 minutes. (And I'm not exaggerating.) Mitch went up to ask if the food was ready. The girl who was taking orders and watching asked what Mitch had ordered and he told her. "Looks like it," she said, and when she didn't go get it, Mitch went back to his seat. Jess went up the the counter a few minutes later. "Can we have it?" she asked. The girl asked her for her order number, but the girl hadn't given Jess/Mitch their receipt, so they didn't know. They listed the items in the order and the girl gave them our food.

AND THEN Mitch's onion ring sauce was rancid. He took it up to the counter. The girl smelled it and said that it was fine. Mitch told her that it was curdled, and could he have some from a new box? She told him that his was from a new box...and she didn't offer to open another box or anything, so Mitch came back to our table.

AND THEN I had weird chunks of lettuce on my whopper, which were from the middle of the lettuce and not the part that people actually eat. So I kept pulling stuff off of my whopper and had a pile of gross stuff and a wimpy burger left to eat.

AND THEN my food was not hot.

AND there was hair on one of the trays. Not our hair.

AND the tables were all dirty.

AND the ketchup had a sticker saying it needed to be used by Wednesday, and we weren't sure if it was two days past its expiry, or if it was fresh.

So by the time we were done eating, we all felt in absolute and unavoidable danger of food poisoning. On our way out of the gas station market, we bought a bottle of Pepto Bismol. We went out to the car and, in the Burger King/ gas station parking lot we each took preemptive adult doses of Pepto Bismol.

The fun continued when we had to store the bottle somewhere and it was messy. We rinsed the dose cup with Powerade and wiped it out with a napkin.

This was the fun start to our California trip, and the rest of the trip proved to be not such a good one food-wise.

The End. (or, The Beginning, depending on how you look at it.)

Birthday Parties

Okay, so you guys know that I geocache. WELL, there are events that you can go to where you meet other geocachers, and you all geocache together or eat and talk about geocaching, etc.

I've been wanting to go to one of these things because there are a bunch of intense geocachers in the area. With geocaching you sign your name on a paper every time you find a hidden cache, so I see these people's names all the time. And I see their pictures from finding caches, and I read comments that they write, but I've not met them.

There are events like this fairly often in my area.

One of them is tomorrow night, and it's a birthday party for one of the ladies. On the event page at there's a super elaborate picture of a cake, and info about the party. Everyone is invited since it's a public geocaching event. I've not met the people who are going, except one guy, but I'm sure everyone would be way friendly if I went.

Anyhow, I can't go.

I have work tomorrow night. So I decided I'd post on the page and tell them how awesome the cake looks, because it really does look amazing. I started to post about that, though, and got off on a tangent. I mentioned that it's kind of weird showing up at someone's birthday party when you've never met them before.

And it reminded me of this story:

When we were younger, sometimes my mom would take us to parks. And often, when it was time to go we would look all over and couldn't find one of my brothers, Jason. Basically, pretty much every time we would find him in line to swing at somebody's pinata. He would join other people's birthday parties! We would all be super embarassed, because he wasn't invited, and he didn't even know the birthday kid ever. We would shout for him, "JASON! COME ON! It's not your fun!" And he would reluctantly leave the party games. The adults would always offer to let him stay and often gave him goody bags.

I wanted to share it with them, too, because it made me laugh. Buuut, it just wasn't the right place. So instead, I'm posting there about how nice the cake looks and I'm posting my story here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Life Update

I have a few specific topics that I've been meaning to blog about, and I'll get to that sometime.

For now, I just have a laundry list of miscellaneous things to write about.

This week, I had two new big things happen.

First, I got a letter from the University of Utah saying that I need to submit documents for residency reclassification, if I want to, because I'm being classified as a non-resident for tuition purposes. It's kind of their default setting, and I knew I would have to send in stuff to be considered a Utah resident, but they won't accept a reclassification packet unless you're an admitted student. So while it said that information about my admissions status would come in another letter, I still thought it was unusual that they would want residency stuff.

I went online, to the Application Checker Thingie, and it said that I was admitted. And then yesterday I got the official letter saying "It is a pleasure to inform you of your acceptance to the University of Utah." and giving me my school email address and ID #, and more information.

So that's the first thing I'm excited about.

The second fun thing is, I decided about a week ago that I wanted to get an amateur radio operator's license, so that I could use ham radios. I knew a girl in sixth grade that had her license, and back then I was kind of interested, but I haven't really thought about it since then.

Geocaching has been a far less exciting hobby ever since it snowed, so I wanted to do something else. I saw a bunch of stuff about amateur radio stuff in a friend's profile, and decided I wanted to do it too. I borrowed a book from the library and started learning stuff to pass the license exam. They have license exams the third Wednesday of every month at BYU.

In the book that I read, it says that all sorts of people get their licenses. Kids do, women do, men do... actually, though, when I got to the test it ended up being me and a bunch of 45-65 year old men. (I sure know how to pick hobbies, eh?) I was supernervous because everyone seemed to know a lot more than I did.

It was like visiting Mexico after taking Spanish I in middle school:
"HOLA! 2oijfslkjflsjkalskjd UNA slkdfjlskejfldkjfd ROSA sdlfkjdlfkjsldfjkl LUNES sldkfjslkjdflsdkjf ESTAS sdlkfjdlskfjdk QUIERO dlskjsdjsldkfjsl"

Instead, it was like this:
"Radio sdkfjlsldkfjsd satellite lkjsdlfkjsdlfkjsldkj.x,m. band 23048 band 20394830.20980.98230492 band oilkjflskjamn antenna."

I was so so lost. But I took my little test that I had studied for, annnnnnd I passed it! I got 34/35 correct. And then yesterday the FCC assigned me my callsign, which is KE7QOA. And I'm superpleased, because I still have to buy a ham radio but once I have one I'm so licensed and can use it. And I'll be able to talk to all the old men I want, from all over the world.

And then, there was the story about those three guys who used to sit and watch us at the mall: we've had them kicked out of the mall a few times now.

[Today I'm riding with Jess and Mitch to California. I'm pretty excited about the prospect of warmer weather. And, I am taking some awesome Christmas presents. I can be so dang thoughtful. Go me.]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ticket to Ride 1910 Expansion "Big Cities" Rules

In case you've searched Google for the rules to Ticket to Ride's "Big Cities" variation, which can be played with the expansion pack, here they are:

From page 3 of the rules pamphlet:

Use all tickets that feature at least one Big City (cities on tickets are printed in red). The Big Cities are Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Seattle. There are 35 such tickets, 15 from the original set and 20 new ones, including one from the Mystery Train expansion.

At game's start, shuffle the Big Cities tickets and deal 4 to each player; each must keep at least 2 (or more if they feel brave!). During the game, whenever you choose to draw tickets, draw 4 and keep at least 1. Discarded tickets always go back to the bottom of the tickets draw pile.

There you have it. Search no more.

We searched for like 15 minutes online, and finally found the rules. When we played it, it kind of reminded me of the original US TTR, because routes were more predictable and in the end we ran out of destination cards. One strategy site said that Dallas-Houston was a good one to take because it always gets taken. That seemed to be helpful, but not necessary (I don't think), although it would probably be more important in a game with 4 or 5 players/teams.

I think we will continue to play Mega Games; they seem to be our favorite.

Monday, December 03, 2007

In which the protagonist finds herself attached to everything, and not emotionally

I've been making geocaches lately. Fun, fun.

I found the perfect containers when I was shopping at the man mall. They're called Viewtainers, and the little-ish ones are just perfect for someone like me who is getting started. So I got a couple green ones, and got green wire to go in the two little holes on the top. And I bought green electrical tape because I couldn't find camo duct tape, and CLEAR duct tape to go on top of the electrical tape if it seemed like it would be messy.

And it was messy, so instead I bought camo duct tape from some outdoorsy store. EXCEPT it turned out that it wasn't actually duct tape, and instead it was removable cloth tape to cover my gun during hunting season. I thought clear nail polish would make it waterproof anyway. It just made a mess.

And then I had the perfect idea. I could just superglue the little slit on top closed. It would be so much simpler. And why didn't I think of that sooner?

So, I went to borrow glue from Jess, who isn't home, and found it right away. I knew she had superglue. And it wouldn't take much and if it did I would happily buy her more superglue.

So it was perfect, seemed like the top of the glue may have been superglued on.

So I tried to open it a bit, and then decided that it would probably break the soft metal tube below the top if I kept trying to twist it. So instead, I decided to use pliers on both of the halves of the plastic lid, in opposite directions.

And then, somehow it burst anyway, and all of my fingers started to burn just a little, and started to stick to each other and to the tube of glue. And thankfully, not to the pliers.

So I went to wash the glue off, but of course it doesn't come off, and a couple times it felt like when I was trying to rub the glue off I was actually about to stick my fingers to themselves.

Nail polish remover was not helpful.

Now all of my fingers except my pinkies feel like they don't have fingerprints. They're covered in dried glue. I can't feel the things that I touch. It's weird.

When I set the glue down on the counter while I washed my hands, glue oozed out onto the counter. I got a toothpick and used it to seal the top of my geocache-to-be. It's beautiful. It worked so well.

And then I tried to use some tissues to pick up the ooze of superglue on the counter, and it mostly worked, but left a big piece of super-tissue attached to my thumb. (Great.) And after a few minutes of it not washing off I managed to get all of it off, except for the part that was most attached to my skin.

My evaluation: I would give having superglue all over my fingers 2/5 stars. I give the experience two stars because it's kind of a funny situation, and a strange feeling to not be able to feel the things you touch. My experience especially merited those two stars because I did not ruin any clothes, ruin my pliers, ruin the carpet, or get stuck to anything (which may have been painful, or painfully embarassing). I don't think superglue goes into the same category as inhaling helium, though, because it doesn't seem to go away quickly, and the annoyance seems like it will far outlast the novelty/fun.