Sunday, January 29, 2006

Borizon Sucks

I really, really wanted to blog about some things over the past few days. Some current events, I've been wanting to do a 6 month review of what's happened since one of my friends died, but all of that gets shuffled to the back when I'm trying to figure out how acetyl CoA synthase works. But this issue, this can't wait.

I'm renting from a certain realty group here in Chicago. I won't give my address, because I know that some of you are crazed lunatics that would seek the opportunity to find where I live so that you could sneak in late at night, cut a lock of my hair, and scamper out to add it to your impressive and growing shrine, including the faux-baseball cards of me that were taken when I played Little League (both the Tigers AND the Mets). I'm hesitant to mention the realty group, but let's say it's a term for the apparent intersection of the earth and sky and rhymes with "Borizon". I'd be tempted to link you to their homepage, but it doesn't actually exist anymore.

But, anyway, I'm doing that whole sleep thing I love so much. I wake up (a bit later than I intended) to the sound of dripping coming from my kitchen. Lots of it. Drip drip drip. Rapid succession. Then pouring. I'm confused. I get up and go to the kitchen to find that everything's now flooded. Sadness.

As a bit of background, I should note that this has happened before. Some water bubbles up through the sink, and I call Borizon to see if they can do anything. Like make it so I'm not living in a potential swamp. They've never actually called me back, nor has their maintenance man (who, in full disclosure, was somewhat helpful when my apartment was burglarized) ever taken the time out of his schedule to help me move toward my goal of a swamp-free apartment. That didn't change today. Despite repeated calls to the "emergency" maintenance line (I use quotes because it only counts as an emergency line if it does something in an emergency) and an assurance by the maintenance guy that he'd "be there later" (which, I suppose, I can't rule out yet, as time hasn't stopped), nothing. I've left several angry messages on the answering machines of the staff of Borizon, trying to figure out what kind of Mickey Mouse operation they're running where no one's calls are ever returned, neither email nor voicemail seems to have an effect, the homepage has ceased to exist and the maintenance personnel are more theory than anything. I'm going to try to go down there tomorrow morning, but I can't promise too much, as I've got a class and (ye gods!) actually have somewhat of a job to do without spending every waking moment trying to get these schmucks to answer a call.

I'm off to study some chemistry and fume some more.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Felony Criminal Damage

I'm conflicted on whether or not to post this, but as major media outlets have mentioned it, I feel like I'm on safe ground here.

They've arrested the young man that scribbled Anti-Semitic language and swastikas... and bunnies... on the walls of a Northwestern dormitory after he confessed to the crime Thursday. He's posted bond and is back in Michigan with his family, and has been charged with institutional vandalism and felony criminal damage to property (both of which, from my perspective, are about as harsh as you can get on someone for drawing on the wall with sharpie, though what he drew certainly (and should have) factored into the charges) for which he faces a maximum of five years in prison. Northwestern has not stated whether or not he will be permitted to continue attending Northwestern University or what punishments the school itself might assess.

The weird thing about all of this is that I know the kid. I was his TA last quarter (and likely won't be ever again), and honestly can say that from my limited contact during lab, I'd not have guessed it was Neil. Picking up the paper today, my first thought was "but his labs were always so good", and his friends claim that this is totally out of character, which I believe. It can't go unpunished, but I honestly hope that Neil sorts all of this out and gets the help he needs to get back on a productive path.

Pittsburgh's going to the Superbowl

I keep trying to remind myself to post about specific things, but then other, more urgent subjects come up that I have to get out before they become old(er) news (than they already are).

So right to it then.

Say it's the year we'll get that one for the thumb.

And here we have a conundrum. I have been, without fail in all three previous rounds of the playoffs, the exact same at predicting who would win as your average quarter that isn't somehow weighted to give any particular result more often. 50% success rate all the way. So how does this work out? With only the big game remaining, how to I continue a 50% success rate in picking the victor? I've either got to be completely right or completely wrong.

While I was impressed at Seattle's performance against the Panthers, I get the sense that the Bears really should have beaten the Panthers in the first place and that the overmatch was more than most were noting. They covered Steve Smith (which the Bears didn't do at all) and got on Delhomme early and the Seahawks fans were overpowering. But the Superbowl isn't at Qwest Field, so they lose at least some of the "12th man" support. And the Steelers aren't the Panthers.

The Steelers, on the other hand, shut down a Broncos offense that had just a week before handily taken care of the Pats and made the defense look like that of Deer Lakes. Which is to say, ridiculous. Two fumbles and two interceptions (that came out of Jake Plummer playing the AFC championship like I play Tecmo Super Bowl), and Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl once again. And exactly ten years after their last visit (in Super Bowl XXX, which they promptly lost to the Cowboys), which means that while I have seen the Steelers in a Super Bowl in my lifetime, the last time it happened was in the winter of my seventh-grade year.

So it's been a while.

Still, I think the Steelers can pull this one out with the way the coaching staff's been behaving lately and how things have been falling. They're playing like they're meant to win this thing. And it seems (though, because no one in the media is mentioning this, I can't confirm) that Jerome Bettis might actually be from Detroit.

Plus, Joey Tolomei's from Washington. And you can't win Superbowls when you're the embodiment of sorrow. Fact.

Steelers over Seattle.

Oh, actually, more importantly, the National Anthem will be sung by Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville, accompanied by Dr. John, New Orleans jazzman. Awesome.

And that bit about not being able to confirm that Bettis is a Detroit native was a little attempt at a joke, lest I have everyone in Pittsburgh come to my blog (Traffic!) to berate me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wells v. Rodgers: The Quickening

Oh, right.

The Pirates signed Kip Wells to a 1 year, $4.15 million contract. Whatever. I'd like him to do better than 8-18 5.09 ERA, but if we can either work out something where he's cursing other teams or we can do the whole "Kip Wells Complete Game" every time I see him pitch, we'll be ok. Unfortunately, that would be like... 3 times per season max at Wrigley, but if it has the side effect of making Cubs fans sad, I'm all for it.

AND: I'm not a fan of the Yankees by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I might have to get this, if only to track down Glen Rodgers while I'm wearing it.

-The launch of the Pluto mission "New Horizons" was scrubbed today after high winds. They'll try again today. It'll take nine years to reach Pluto, so I'm going to file this under "relative non-news".

Which is really most of what this blog is anymore.

Hot, Hot Cowher on Officiating action.

I'm remarkably tired, but I can't fall asleep because I'm a bit sick. So I'm going to do this really quick.

1. Monday, the NFL recognized that Pete Morelli's call didn't make any sense any way you look at it. The NY Post, in a really common observation, pointed out that had the Steelers not hung on to the lead, Joey Porter wouldn't be the only one screaming "Fix". Cowher came out today to call Porter's comments ridiculous while recognizing the severity of how off the call was, and ESPN's front page took the opportunity to make Porter look more and more insane every few minutes. The link to an article on Porter's "The whole world loves Peyton Manning." comments changed in the following manner:

  • Porter feels cheated
  • Porter Upset
  • Porter Angry
  • Porter Livid

My favorite by far is "Porter Livid", but I'd have liked to see it hang around the front page long enough to confirm that Joey Porter is the Hulk with the headline "Porter SMASH! GRAHGAAA!"

But that's just me.

In other Steelers: I thought I was having a heart attack as I watched Bettis' first fumble since November 2004, probably exacerbated by the Polamalu interception call, but didn't. This guy did. Thankfully, he's doing ok now but, and I'm being totally serious right now, who does that. Seriously.

Finally, I'd like to apologize. I won't give specifics, but let's suffice it to say I pulled a Collins (if you'd like an explanation, contact RJ or infer what it refers to knowing that KotOR2 is the subject). I tend to be very careful about spoilers, forgot myself today and presumed since I'd heard so much about a specific spoiler that came out in July that it was common knowledge by now. Evidently, no. Not that I really objectively know if the spoiler is true or not, but whatever.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Whew. Relief.

The good news is, I think, is that the heart condition I acquired during the Steelers-Colts game can be controlled with medications.

The bad news is that I have to waste more time on this stuff next week.

Really, I don't know what to say that's not already being said by everyone, everywhere. Personally, I'd just like a single playoff season to go by without the officiating being what's talked about after every single game. Yes, they screwed up the pass interference call. They screwed up whether Faneca moved and at the same time, took an inexcusable amount of time to make the call. Yes, they screwed up the Polamalu interception (an update to all of you who haven't seen the new NFL rules: in order for an interception to be an interception, you actually have to burrow into the ground a minimum of seven feet. This is why shovels are placed at strategic locations around the field) which could very reasonably have cost the Steelers the game.

That all ceased to matter following Bettis' fumble. Had we lost it following that, I might have been okay with that. If only because we'd have conclusively been beaten by ourselves, rather than the Officiating/Colts team.

I'm at 66.6%. Now the Bears just have to stop that whole "letting the Panthers go up 7-0 in the first minute or so of the game", and I might just improve this week.

Update: And I drop back down to 50%.

Let's say, for the Championship games next week:

Carolina over Seattle
Pittsburgh over Denver

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Things have returned to normalcy. Every time I get on the Red Line, my car once again has some singing jackass, it's freezing here again, I'm once again overjoyed by the fact that I just used some giftcards to get around to owning yet another crappy movie, and the Seahawks have won their first playoff game since 1984.

Wait. That last bit isn't normalcy.

Hopefully, I can have a bit more accuracy in picking football games this week (over last week's .500).

Update: Pats down, Broncos up, and I'm back to .500. Here's hoping that the weekend ends at, oh, I don't know, 0.750.


As you might have guessed from, oh, reading anything I've posted on here ever (or, rather, even looking at the text without letting the sweet, sweet nonsense pass into your consciousness), you'll know I'm not one for short posts. That said, this'll be a short post. Links to brilliant other things, mostly.

  • If you're the kind of person that's been near a video game in the past decade, you may not be able to resist finding this quite hilarious. Well written in that Lore Sjöberg kind of way, slightly saddening because it predicts that people will be ever-so-slightly more consumed by World of Warcraft in 2010. Which doesn't actually count as "surprising", but you'll have that.

  • The world turned on its head as everyone everywhere realized that even the almighty Oprah can be hoodwinked, following the revelation that James Frey might not have been telling the truth. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the sense of "whatever" that I'm feeling toward this. A columnist for the Chicago Tribune's free tabloid-like Red Eye (which makes for a compact and free thing to read during the first few weeks of my daily trek to Northwestern on the CTA, before everyone gets into the whole cannibalism thing and we all abandon all hope of making it past Jarvis) contends that it matters a great deal that he made his story of drug-addicting and redemption up, as no one could expect a reasonable person to take away any inspiration from mere fiction. I happen to disagree strongly with the opinion that having a "nonfiction" lying renders it useless (I would disagree less were this, say, my organometallics book), simply because I think more people have been inspired by fiction over the years. And that I still can't quite conceive of the fact that there are things that exist beyond my own line of sight and the book very well may have simply materialized. In which case it doesn't matter if the void from which it arose is lying or not. Particularly because I've got far too many other things to read at the moment to worry about it.

  • While writing that paragraph, one of the two worst acted lines in the Star Wars series came out of my TV. Specifically, it's "We're coming in too hot." I'm not one to nitpick about the acting, and a long, long time ago I wrote a post defending the constantly attacked Prequel Trilogy, but that combined with the "No." that Palpatine says, like a defiant five year old (note: not Vader's "Nooo") are just... they just kill it.

    Incidentally, while those two about tie, the third worst acted line is, as any self respecting geek should know, concerns Tasche station and power converters.

  • Incidentally, that thing at the top about this being short, or these all being links doesn't count.

    Friday, January 13, 2006


    So that whole updating with more frequency thing was a complete lie.

    I really should be reading organometallics, so let's do this quickly, possibly with some updates (including my opinions on actual news) after I go home.

    Sports: I'm incredibly nervous about the Steelers-Colts game, which is to say I'm rather pessimistic about the whole thing. I'm beginning to think that's just how I approach sporting events (I'd counted the Steelers out of the Bengals game as early as the first quarter last week), mostly as a mechanism so that I can deal with imminent loss gradually. Rather than all at once. Still, Roethlisberger's healthy this time around, the Colts aren't invincible, and the guy that has the desk across from me said at about week 9 that he wouldn't be suprised if the Colts went 16-0 and lost the first game of the playoffs. I'm hoping that still holds with 14-2.

    The Pirates front page is hilarious lately, mostly because they're devoting quite a bit of work to making things seem much better than they are through the methods they've always used. Hernandez (currently 41 years old) will "mentor the young'ns", the young talent will surprise everyone, and so forth. I'll believe it when I see it.


    Having missed a Toasters concert on like, my second day in Chicago, I'm not missing the next one, dammit. The next one happens to be February 3rd at a reasonable time (read: 7pm opening, as opposed to 5pm) at the Beat Kitchen. I'm highly anticipating that I'll probably actually not be able to go, as my Organometallics class has tests on Friday evenings and, knowing my luck, Chris will probably set a test for that day, but I'm going if nothing academic stops me.

    Any donations that would actually allow me to buy the $12 ticket would be greatly appreciated.

    That's it. I'm getting back to work. I'll be back tonight with something.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    NFL Wild Card Weekend

    Well, there's that. I did about as well at picking the wild card games as one could flipping a quarter, but I'm glad that at least one of those worked out. Next week, in the Divisional Playoffs, let's say (by say I mean guess):

    Seahawks over Redskins
    Bears over Panthers
    Patriots over Broncos
    Steelers over Indianapolis.

    That last pick is called "being heavily influenced by emotion". Call me a dreamer.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    My Post About Sago

    As I posted last night, many others have already covered this much more extensively and in a much timelier fashion than I will. And as the comment on my last post indicates (who mysteriously has knowledge of my ancestry), I, like many of those with semi-rural Pennsylvanian upbringings, have members of my family that have worked in mines. With that in mind, some comments about this whole deal and the remarkably odd series of events that's followed.

    First, the actual accident. Without a doubt, terribly tragic, especially given recent evidence that lightning may have caused the explosion that trapped the miners, but it does highlight a need for an overhaul of safety protocol, and a rethinking of the methods used, particularly in dissemination of information during one of these disasters.

    Second, the backlash from the public on hearing that the miners didn't survive. This one needs to be broken down into two sections.
    • First, the jump to blame the media. While I'm not one to jump in front of a train for the media, they're not actually, technically to blame for this. The mixup, as I'm sure most of you have heard by this point, was a result of the mining company's attempts to stop something like this from happening, using code to avoid ever mentioning the words "alive", "dead" or "miner", lest it get to the media and the exact thing that happened occur. In a questionably callous move, they used "item" to refer to the miners, but whatever. They're more at fault for realizing that a mixup had occurred and that the families and media were given incorrect information, and not doing anything at all to stop it. They've apologized (claiming that they "alllowed the jubilation to continue for too long", which, considering the situation by any reasonable person, would be a very short time considering that only one survived), but it's nigh inexcusable to allow such sensitive information to continue. Perhaps this whole mixup, if anything, says something about the limitations of "breaking news" and fact-checking, but it appears that the mining company continued the "they're alive" statement over the three hours while they were checking, rather than saying, perhaps, "No, we have no information one way or the other, and have no evidence to support the belief that 12 are alive".

      Or something

    • I've seen several calling for all of those in the mining industry to get out, citing the danger of the occupation, on several messageboards. Such a proposition is almost too dumb to mention, except for the fact that this is my blog and the phrase "too dumb for Murphspot" doesn't exist with any real meaning. It's dumb not because it advocates taking precaution when entering in to such a job (which isn't at all dumb) but that it, in a comment on our society and modern convenience, presumes that things would continue as normal if everyone followed that advice. Mining, dirty job that it is, is still essential, and it's because of people like the miners in the Sago mine, the miners in Quecreek, miners like my grandfather that modern life is possible in the way we experience it. If mines could become obsolete and humans were no longer needed, then that's sound advice. But while we're still reliant on fossil fuels for energy, we need miners.

    I don't know. Perhaps while Randal McCloy, Jr. is in Pittsburgh in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber trying to recover, it might be a good time to reflect on such behind the scenes players as miners, without whom the rest of us couldn't sit around with fancy things like electricity and whatnot.

    I'm going to go read now.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    The Green Sayat Kontroversy

    Continuing a series of remarkably far apart posts, this is evidently a weekly now. I'm going to try to write more in the upcoming weeks, though I can't make any promises as the winter quarter has just started, sparking a new era of balancing classes with teaching and now, research.

    So, away we go.

    Jenna's gone home, and if nothing else, her visit allowed me to justify going broke visiting things in Chicago that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. Two things.

    During orientation week for NU's graduate program, one professor or another (Lambert?) included the Green Mill in his presentation. It's a bar at Broadway and Lawrence and has a remarkably bright and flashy sign that's impossible to ignore walking to Borders. Meh. There are lots of flashy bars. But I can honestly say that I regret not taking whoever's advice about going to this place earlier. Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan were the evening's entertainment, a remarkable little combo in the gypsy/jazz tradition, and I believe it was at about the end of "Puttin' on the Ritz" that I was able to stop constantly fearing the bouncer with the handlebar moustache that warned us against that most heinous of crimes, making absolutely any noise whatsoever. Hooray.

    Sayat Nova's odd. A little Armenian restaurant right off of Michigan on Ohio, I'd stop back again. Not much to say about this, really. Typical romantic night out right before Jendar heads back to NYU for the rest of eternity, highlighted, I think, by Jenna's reaction to the appetizer. Something about how she responds to raw beef covered in onions and olive oil is actually rather sweet. Well, relatively to her crying in horror at how she has no concept of how spicy things are actually going to be. The sarma dinner left something to be desired, but it was overall a very pleasant experience. Raw beef and all.

    Enough of Murphy=Zagat's.

    This semester represents a return to not only bonus-that-isn't-really-bonus-but-is-required-kinda, but two (which is one more than I've ever had) classes in which the professor wrote the text. I'm not sure how I feel about those. Hopefully, it'll work itself out after I actually get the books, but I'm always a bit nervous when that happens. Perhaps because I have no recourse if I feel either the book or course to be lacking. But the classes that are currently happening are both taught by (in the small experience I've had) pretty good professors. I'll update more on how my academic life is consuming my soul after I've had more than a week to get acquainted with everything.

    I don't know. I'd rather not tackle subjects like the Sago Mine accident, Ariel Sharon's massive health problems (mostly because I know very little about the latter, and the former's been covered pretty extensively, though I might be on later) or what on earth is going to happen with the playoffs this week (though, in quick fashion, let's say I'll go ahead and pick the Bucs, the Pats, the G-men and the Stillers) as I'm remarkably tired. I'm off to try to read (to no avail, probably) about spectroscopy.

    I'd just like to note that Jenna's love for the Kinks is undying. Until she picks another band to latch on to for about a year.


    I swear I'll get back to posting more often. Srsly.