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Thursday, October 14, 2004


I met with my advisor for THREE HOURS today. We lopped off a substantial portion of my thesis. We keep doing that. If we meet one more time I won't have to do anything.

So the deal is this...I have about 5-6 parts or potential parts to the work I've been doing. Part 1 will be my thesis and be presented at AAG in April. Part 2 I will do and write up between January and April and publish separately. That will more or less fulfill our obligations to our funding source. That leaves about 4 things that I've either already done, or can do, mostly with existing data. These 4 things are probably enough for a PhD project, so my advisor says. No geography PhD here, though, so I may roll into a PhD program in Ecology here. This requires funding for the next few years, though. So will apply for a fellowship. If I got that, I'd be living like a fat rat until spring of 2007, at which time I should then have a PhD. Then onto whatever. Other alternative, if the fellowship fails, is I might be able to take on the teaching duties (as an Instructor) of my advisor, who will be on sabbatical next year (Biogeograhy, possibly World Regional Geography). The pay is shit. $3000 for a 3 hour class. But good experience..blah, blah, blah, and maybe enough to get by on. I set the condition that I would if my tuition could be waived, so I could finish my course work next year.

If any of this panned out, I could get my PhD as early as 2 years from this May..but most likely by the following December at latest.

Question 1: Am I motivated and focused enough to get through this PhD program if I go immediately into it?


Question 2: Do I even want a PhD?

Good question.

Question 3: What will I do if not?

Even better question.

Question 4: Is there some viable alternative to getting a real job?

Bank robbing?

Blogland, I'm listening...caller go ahead...



You know what's hard? Trying to concentrate on finalizing a presentation abstract when Rhapsody has just gone from playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto Number 1 to playing Wesley Willis' Rush Hour. Next to impossible. I'm afraid I'm going to insert "..whupped my ass.." somewhere in the abstract.

"Forest expansion whupped my ass. Forest expansion whupped me in my ass. Then I took a two-by-four and whupped forest expansion in its ass."

Rock over London, Rock on Laramie.

I realize this makes no sense whatsoever to someone who has not heard Wesley Willis. Man, all my favorite African-American singers have died in the last few years.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004


So..when I was a junior in college, I moved in with my dorm roommate to a house off campus. We spent lots of time drinking beers on the front porch, grilling meat products. One day, there was a tin can sitting on the step (I don't know why) and a stick laying in the yard. I think we started off playing baseball with that equipment, but soon, yard golf was born. After awhile, a 9-hole course had evolved:

Hole 1 started in a depression in our front yard (I think it is actually a karst sinkhole that will someday claim the whole house), and ended at the little metal water valve cover across the yard. Hole 2 went from there, doglegged around the corner of the house (usually smacking off of Evan's truck), went up and over the storm cellar (a testament to just how old the house was!), and into a strange little PVC pipe inset in the ground by the corner of the shed. We never figured out what that pipe was for, or where it went to. The third teebox was on top of the storm cellar hump, and double-dog-legged around TWO corners of the house, onto what seemed to be a concrete porch. It was weird that there was a porch there, seeing as how there was no door - my roommate and I always speculated that a tornado had picked up the house, turned it 90°, and put it right back down on the foundation. The "hole" itself, in this case, was the top part of this weird, metal rod that just protruded out of this porch-like thing. You just had to hit it with the can. We had always thought that the little 3" part of that metal rod was just a part where a handrail must have attached, until one day my friend Dan was over, and I was showing him all the weirdness about the house, and I pulled on the metal chunk - it ended up being this 15' long metal rod that was wet at the bottom. I guess it was an old cistern or something. The fourth teebox was located on that side porch-like thing, and the hole itself was a dogleg sharp left around dude's garden. The hole itself was a metal stake with a beer can on it. I don't know why that was there, either. The 5th hole started at that point, went over (or around) a big compost heap, and to a post where a birdfeeder was mounted. The sixth hole (and I'm not sure why we thought this was necessary) started directly behind a pear tree, and went up a hill. To get it "in the hole," you had to get your can to land & stay on a manhole cover set in concrete on the curb. The seventh hole was very similar - further up the hill onto another manhole cover. The eight hole went from that manhole cover, across the street, and into another one of those weird PVC drains set in the curb (not easy to get a 2.5" tin can into a 4" hole). The final hole went across the street again (often smacking into my car) and up onto the porch. Anywhere on the porch was fine, but it took a precision loft to get it high enough to get up onto the porch, and stay there.

After awhile, we each had several clubs - just like in real golf - which were sticks of various size, shape, and heft, used for different approaches. We tried many varieties of cans, since they often got smooshed flat by about the 5th hole, but eventually realized that a plain old tin can (like corn or french-style cut green beans would come in) was best, because you needed it to be a little flattened for it to not roll off the manhole covers on 7 and 8, and the porch on 9. I've realized since then that chicken stock cans (the kind with the ring-pull top) would be even better, because they're heavier. At that point in my life, I had never purchased chicken stock.

I'll have to rely on 'Tiska's superior power to recall obscure and pointless numbers, but I believe I shot a 29 when I was playing with him once. On a few holes, 3 strokes was really the minimum you could conceivably get. So 29 would have been pretty amazing. I only recall one hole-in-one - I think Evan did it on the first hole once.

We had rough plans for a full 18-hole course, since the lots behind us were also vacant and just used for gardens, but never got that motivated.

There was a woman that always sat on a bench in front of her apartment across the street. She must have been 200 years old. She was way too far away for us to converse with, but we called her "Mabel," and many were the nights, when, after a round of yard golf, we whiled away the hours cooking hot dogs and sipping Hamm's on the front porch, and staring across at Mabel.

That is the time in my life I like to refer to as "The Good Old Days."



Forget about Bush's mystery bulge.....someone was actually able to obtain copies of the notes he took during the debate here.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


How the hell come nobody told me Minnie Driver just released an album. I'm not sure it's my thing. Kinda too Sarah McLaclhan for my tastes. But don't worry, Minnie, I still love you, and at least you're still hot like fire.

As long as she finishes her music career in time to play Bonnie Abbzug when I make the Monkey Wrench Gang movie...Not a big deal, though..I can always get Catherine Zeta-Jones or Angelina Jolie to do it.



Uuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No more duck huntin' with Dick for you, Mr. Scalia.



Uuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No more duck huntin' with Dick for you, Mr. Scalia.


Monday, October 11, 2004


So I guess my parents finally sold the house. For those who aren't up on it, they got a divorce. My mom moved out, my dad has been living in the house. Just found out tonight that they sold the house, finally. I lived there from the time I was 7 until I went away to college. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't feel like I'll really miss the house - I've moved enough that I don't really get attached to places like that. Just waiting for it to sink in that I'll probably never go there again.

Some random memories of things that occurred in that house...

When my mom would send my sister and I into our separate rooms (typically for fighting with each other), my sister would always come to the heat/AC register that was connected to both our rooms, and would start talking to me ("Geez. Mom's really grumpy, huh?") Pretty soon we'd be laughing, and mom would be really confused. Poor mom.

One weekend our friends were visiting from out of town, and we had just watched this ridiculous movie called CHUD or something, where these slimy monsters came up out of the sewers. Right as we were finishing watching it, the drain in the laundry room started backing up and spewing all this nasty green foam (we had shampooed the carpets earlier, and our drain system was barfing up the suds we'd dumped down it). It was creepy, until we realized what was going on. Then it was annoying.

In the upstairs bathroom, we used to have this plum-colored wallpaper that had a repeating pattern with 4 little white dots in a diamond shape - the diamond was probably only like 1/8" wide. All over the wallpaper. But there was one spot where there was only 3 dots together. The dots were so small, it would usually take me a few minutes to find it, but when I did, it always bothered me. Everytime I sat down to take a dump, I would stare at that stupid 3-dotted diamond and get annoyed.

One time, Kendra W. was at my house, and we were working on some kind of project, and she pointed out that the wood grain in my door looked like a guy's face. That always bothered me, from that point on.

So then I moved downstairs, where I had a bedroom with no guy-face wood pattern on the door, and no stupid wallpaper pattern in the bathroom.

One time when I was probably 8 or something, I was playing "Sand Trap" in our sand box. Just walloping the hell out of this golf ball with a putter. I reared back to hit it, and got my sister square in the forehead. Don't think it even broke the skin, but I still have guilt about that.

That's all that comes to mind immediately.

It's not like I didn't know this day was coming, so it shouldn't come as a shock.



Taking a break from my normal lamentations on life, the universe, and everybody...

How is it that I can sign up for something seemingly innocuous (in this case, a Fundamentals of GIS seminar) and end up having to wrestle with Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity, metaphysics, etc...?

Idealism, as defined by Edward Abbey, is "..the absurd vanity of metaphysicians who like to imagine that they create the world by thinking about it."

Me: Idealism: Nothing could be more ridiculous. Except, of course, for Mormonism. Or Islam. Or Christianity.

The final question on the philosophy final: "Provide an argument, drawing on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, that the the chair in the front of the room exists."
Response: "What chair?"

It is, in practice, impossible to be an idealist, isn't it? Existence is created within the mind, an idealist says. Following that, your hunger, your need for sleep, for water...all inventions of the mind...ignore them, then...they don't really exist. We'll see whose paradigms shift first. I will give you what in my mind seems to be about 4 revolutions of what my mind has termed, The Earth.

Edward Abbey: "Appearance versus reality? Appearance is reality. God damn it!"

...Abbey again: "The earth is real. Only a fool, milking his cow, denies the cow's reality."

...and: "I believe in nothing that I cannot touch, kiss, embrace...The rest is only hearsay."

...and: "The very poor are strictly materialistic. It takes money to be a mystic." [or idealist]

..also: "Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than our anti-materialist, otherworldly, New Age, spiritual types. But if the material world is merely illusion, an honest guru should be as content with Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu, and seaweed slime."

..again: "The basic question is this: Why should anything exist? Nothing would be tidier."

..one more: "Beware the writer who always encloses the word reality in quotation marks: He's trying to slip something over on you. Or into you."

...finally: "It may be true that my desk here is really "nothing but" a transient eddy of electrons in the flux of universal process. Nevertheless, I find that it continues to support my feet, my revolver, and my cigars all day long. What happens when my back is turned I don't know. Or much care. That's no concern of mine."

While I'm at it, Edward Abbey on God and guns:

"I always write with my .357 magnum handy. Why? Well, you never know when God may try to interfere."

"Fire lookout, 1400 hours, ferocious lightning storm. Me and God. That fucker is trying to get me again, God damn him. But I got me old .357..."

"Whatever we cannot easily understand we call God; this saves much wear and tear on the brain tissues."

Talking about idealism in a paper concerning the foundations of GIS is a non-sequitur...You might as well be working out the square root of -1. Unless we're talking about GIS for psychology. But I don't believe in psychology, anyway.

Sorry to get all empirical. Won't happen again.


Sunday, October 10, 2004


Where should I start....? See, unlike usual, I've had an eventful past few days...

Let's see...first, Jenn made me a birthday cake..a chocolate cake with chocolate butter-cream frosting. There were like 3 sticks of (real) butter in the frosting alone! It tastes like a heart attack. Mmmmmmm...sticks o' butter..

OK...So..got some presents and stuff...standard stuff...Cabela's & B&N gift certificates, then, Europe on a Shoestring, gin, whisky, and port, a subscription to Cook's Illustrated, a Doc Sarvis t-shirt. Oh, and Jenn got me waders earlier this summer for my birthday.

Then...in a surprising, delightful, and thoughtful gesture, Abbie brought over a whole slew of gifts for me...She gave me a G.I. Joe lunchbox (the second one I've had in my lifetime), and packed inside were smoked oysters, smoked clams, sardines, mackerel, kippered herring, a Snickers, a Butterfinger, a Hershey bar, and perhaps some other tinned seafood products I've forgotten, as well. (Thanks Abbie!)

I should probably point out that when I have lunch at school, it typically consists of crackers, some sort of tinned, usually smoked, seafood product, and Tabasco sauce, and some sort of fruit. So that's why I received so many aforementioned fish products.

Then, Friday night, Jenn and I drove down to Denver to catch an Old 97's concert. 1st time I'd seen them. Sarah (Lee Guthrie) and Johnny opened for them. The venue was this converted theatre painted (as one of the other concertgoers pointed out) like Emerald City. We had swell seats in the balcony, more or less right above the stage. So..the Old 97's, for those not familiar....

"Whatever happened to good Rawk & Roll?" you ask...

"Who hijacked country western music and replaced it with this lame-ass, watered-down, twangy teenybopper garbage? (e.g. Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, etc)" you might be wondering...

Well, back in about '92, Rawk & Roll seduced and made love to country music and about 9 months later, in '93, the Old 97's were born. Musical influence diversity breeds strength in the same way that genetic diversity does, apparently. Old 97's started with the goal of "somehow [tying] together the music of Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, X, The Clash, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Camper Van Beethoven." The result, I would say, is perfection. I think it's impossible to overstate how much ass they kick.

So..the concert. I think they played for a little over 2 hours, but they played ALOT of songs, mainly because they play freaking fast live. The fans were as age-diverse as any concert I've ever been to..Everyone from middle school to nursing home (all gringos, though, for the most part). It was amazing, because you could look around, and practically everyone was singing along to every song. These are clearly some dedicated fans.

The band members do not look like they belong to the same band. First, you have the lead singer/guitarist, Rhett Miller. This dude is a gangly, long-haired Star Wars looking guy that would appear to be about 15 years old. And he dances as though he were made of jello. The bass player, Murry Hammond, looks like a cross between Steve Schnell, this guy here at UW (Brian), and..um..a sock puppet. But dressed all in black, with a pearly-snap shirt. The lead guitarist, Ken Bethea, just looks like some chubby little guy that would work in a record store...almost like Jack Black in High Fidelity, but less chubby. He even wore one of those 80's style wrist bands on his right hand. The drummer, Philip Peeples, looks like a chunky Ben Folds, but, you know, autistic. He didn't really associate with the rest of the band. He just came out, sat down, and played the drums like a freaking hurricane.

With most bands, you can usually say "Well...the guitar player is really the heart & soul of the band..." or "Their drummer kind of lags sometimes.." or something like that, but with the Old 97's, every piece is perfect, and you can't imagine it being any other way. Maybe that's why the still have all the same members as when they started like 11 years ago. Rhett Miller's voice is perfect for that style of music, and his stage presence is outstanding. Murry sings on a few of their songs, and his voice is perfect for those songs - plus he's one of those people that is entertaining just standing there. Ken is an amazing guitar player. He can shred as well as any metal guitarist out there. And, like I mentioned, Philip, the drummer, is excellent. He was doing this thing where he played 2 drums and 2 symbols at the same time, by hitting the drums with his fists while hitting the symbols with the sticks. Perhaps that's nothing novel, but I've never seen it. And it's not easy drum work, either.

So the concert kicked ass. And the next day we discovered that through marvelous serendipity we were located smack in the middle of an REI, a Barnes & Noble, and the Rock Bottom Brewery. So we checked out the first two, and then went for lunch at the latter. The food we got there (2 kinds of pizza) was excellent, and Jenn got a beer that is probably my 3rd or 4th favorite beer of all-time. It was a brown ale that was aged in old bourbon casks. It was an incredible flavor - the bourbon flavor was fairly strong, but not overpowering. The only cruddy part was that they only made a few kegs of it, so they weren't selling it in growlers or anything. I was considering moving to Denver to take advantage of the remainder of those 2 kegs. It was THAT good.

On Bacos bottles, it says "Refrigerate after opening for freshness and convenience." Why is it more convenient to store them in the fridge?

Um. That's all I got.


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