Monday, December 26, 2005

I'm Dreaming Of A Brown Christmas...

Unbeknownst to my family, I have had the tickets to go home for Christmas since before I left to Hawaii for the semester. I have always wanted to surprise my family by showing up unannounced. I even contemplated over telling my family I was coming off my mission at a different day so I could show up at the door when they least expected me, but that fell through. This was my chance.

I had my friend, Lamb, pick me up from the airport. It was about 8am, so we went to a nearby McDonald's for breakfast. While there, Lamb made a new friend.

Lamb's Crazy Navajo

Lamb's New Navajo Friend

This new friend of Lambs wanted to know how to get from there to North Glendale. The bus was proposed, but, Oh, what a surprise, he didn't have the money for the bus. I told him good luck. I don't know that part of the valley and I don't know if the bus goes there or anything. Lamb broke down, and did the nice Christmas thing to do and gave the guy $5.

For his troubles, Lamb got an extra bonus. The guy had Lamb take off his hat, put foreheads together and say a Navajo prayer. He blessed each item on Lamb's plate by coming dangerously close to touching them. Then most parts of Lamb's body by the same method. The close inner-thigh part was my personal favorite.

The bum thanked Lamb again and went behind a wall outside to drink with his friends, not apparently in a hurry to buy that bus ticket. Lamb wasn't happy with himself for always caving in to such ploys. "There's one born every minute..." That's true. But at lest there are nice people like Lamb that are willing part with what they have.

After that, it was time to get things ready. We drove around the back of a good half dozen stores looking for a box big enough to hold me. We finally found one at Toys-R-Us. After a stop at another store for wrapping paper and tape we took a break at a local Western-themed dirt hole called "Rawhide." While there, I called my parents to make sure they would be home. My mom told me that she was sick. I jokingly asked her if she wanted me to bring by a cup of chicken noodle soup. She laughed about it and expressed remorse for not being able to afford bringing me home for Christmas. I told her not to worry.

Lamb and I drove to my house, wrapped the box, cut out the bottom, and rang the door bell. He hid around the corner. My dad came out and started to make an effort to move the box. I held on with a little handle I had made. He gave up and read the sign on the top. "To be opened here, now and with Jerry and Netina."

He got my mom and then proceeded to open the box. Just as he was starting to tear the paper I jumped out of the box and yelled, "Merry Christmas!" I think I just about gave my dad another heart attack. It was fun.

I spent the three following days working at WestStar copying the old content of Kim Komando's Web Site to her new one to be published in about a month or so. It's pretty neat to say that I have a hand in the going-ons of such a nationally reputable radio show host and website.

Then on Christmas Eve I rewrapped the box for when my sister, Wendy, and her kids came over. I jumped out on them as they came to open the box. Then I rewrapped it for Ladawn and her kin. Again I jumped out. I heard that Ladawn almost hit the ceiling I scared her so bad. It was fun.

To secure my ability to always remember the event, I recorded each time I jumped out. I have not had a chance to post it to the net yet. I have limited band width here, but will do so once I return to Hawaii and let you know of it then.

You know, many people think I am crazy to give up my tropical paradise in Hawaii for the brownest of brown places: Arizona.

Az desert

I admit that I feel done with Arizona. Unless I have a compelling reason, I would like to live just about anywhere but Arizona for the rest of my life. Yet I still come back. It's family. The cost, the trouble, the brown, it's all worth it for the chance to be with those you love.

Christmas Mess

And, yes, the confusion and mess they create is worth it too.

Friday, December 23, 2005

After His Lucky Grades...

My grades for the Fall 2005 term have come in. I busted my butt to get good grades this last semester. I think I put more time and money into my grades this semester than any previous. I also think that I have killed more than my fair share of trees as well (thank you, English 315).

One class that has, and continues, to complicate the grade issues is IS307, AKA Systems Analysis and Design. One day the teacher took about 40+ minutes to explain his grading rubric. He wrote on the board a bunch of symbols. There was a check, a "+", a "-" and a 0. Apparently, we are to decipher a check+, a regular check, a check- , and a 0 into some coherent grading system. He explained that a check+ was basically an "A". A regular check was a "B". A check- was a "C". and 0 meant "F". So, I bet you are thinking the same thing I was. "Uh, excuse me for being a cynic, but, if each of those is simply a different way of meaning the standard grading system, why not just use that standard grading system?"

He didn't like my answer. He explained that each symbol can only be interpreted as such grade equivalents and are not those. He then went on explaining how they were tallied and such. By this time my eyes and the 36 eyes of the other 18 students were glazed over. Next thing I knew I saw him in green shorts. Then a green pipe hat with a large green four leaf clover sticking out of it. He was singing about our new lucky grading system. We had blue diamonds, pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, purple horseshoes, pots of gold, rainbows and red balloons; each tallied up with his rainbow magic to give us our lucky grades. "Aw, yer always after me lucky grades..."

Including his class, my semester's grades are as follows:

ICS 262
COMM 211
COMM 280
IS 307
Green Clovers
ENGL 315
Semester Total = 3.925

Now, if you do the math, his lucky green clovers are worth nothing. His overly confusing grading system that he couldn't even figure out made it impossible to have our grades in by the time they were due. I am pretty darn sure I got his Pot of Gold, also known as an "A", but I have no way to be sure.

I might make fun of him, but he is actually a very nice guy. I enjoy his company as a person. However, if you ever get this same teacher, I recommend you bring along a lucky rabbit's foot to rub during his lectures.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bathroom Munchies...

I was in the movie theater the other day when I did something that most straight men fear to do in such a locale; I looked around.

It was a typical bathroom as far as guy's rooms go. This was one of those bathrooms that mercifully does have separators between the urinals. Without it one feels like a cow at a trough, except you leave water, you don't take it.

What seemed odd to me was what I noticed on the wall right as you enter. It was dispenser. I have seen these before. Any truck stop in America has them. But when I looked closer this was not a regular dispenser. It wasn't riddled with condoms, sex toys and other such family fun. No, this had something far worse...candy!

bathroom candy

A Condy Dispenser

What's this? We have candy/condom dispensers now? Yikes! I know that the first thing I do when I walk into a public restroom is think about eating in there. I think it would be great if we had hot dog venders, too--like the ones at ball games. Some guy on the end could order a dog with everything and we could hand it down from the first urinal to the last. Some peckish lad in toilet three could have it tossed over the door or we could hand it under the walls to him, one by one. The guy that starts that business would be able to put his kids through college.

I feel sorry for the guy who used the machine and expected a condom when he selected "Sour Ropes." But not as much as I feel sorry for the kid that expected liquorish when he selected "Black Rod."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Trivia...

  • "Xmas" is considered by some to be a disrespectful abbreviation. But the Old English word for Christmas begins with X. The Greek word for "Christ," from which the English is derived, begins with the Greek letter chi, or X. So, X is an appropriate abbreviation for Christ.

  • Christmas comes from Old English, "Cristes maesse" or "Mass of Christ."

  • A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard.

  • The holiday classic, "It's A Wonderful Life," was originally a box office flop.

  • The real Santa Claus was born in 280 A.D. as Nicholas. He commonly wore a red and white Bishop's robe.

  • The first electric Christmas tree lights were telephone switchboard lights.

  • About 400,000 people get sick each year from consuming tainted Christmas leftovers.

  • In 1907, Oklahoma became the last U.S. state to make Christmas a legal holiday.

  • Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces and firs can be eaten.

  • Boris Karloff was the voice of the Grinch in the animated classic, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

  • During the Christmas shopping season, Visa cards alone are used an average of 5,340 times every minute in the US

  • According to a recent survey, seven out of 10 dogs in Great Britain get Christmas gifts from their owners.

Merry X-Mas!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Gift Horse Had A Dirty Mouth...

This morning one of my housemates woke me up to inform me that my landlady had a turkey dinner prepared for all of the guys in the house. It was barely 9am, how was that dinner?

I went downstairs in a daze to find what I expected: a pot of rice and dried up turkey and stale potatoes in tupperware. On the surface it appeared to be a very generous offering. Upon further inspection and mastication I came to the realization that our landlady had simply had too much leftover Thanksgiving food and didn't want to throw it away. We were being fed handfuls of 3 week old meat and starch masked with warm gravy and rice. Sadly, we devoured it up like it was to be our last meal. If the rumors of bacteria in old leftovers are true, then it might just be...


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ridiculous Rubric...

I made a post about a month a go that spoke of a test I took in 28 minutes where others spent 2 hours. I finally got my results.

Needless to say, I am not happy.

The reason I am not happy is not just due to my poor grade, although that is part of it. What makes me mad is that most of my answers were totally correct, but I still did not get full credit for them. Why is that, you may ask? Because the teacher had a surprise grading rubric that she informed us of AFTER we had already taken the test!

The way she graded our tests was as follows: She reads the question. Then reads our answer and gives one point for every thing mentioned in the answer that can be justified. If the person put down 10 things that could be justified, they got 10 points. If another person, such as I, were to put one or two things down (that were totally correct and appropriate responses), then he only got 1 or 2 points. Therefore, I got somewhere in the 60% rage.

After taking a class for a few months that emphasizes brevity and conciseness, I would have expected being rewarded for showing such skills. But nay, my teacher in her infinite wisdom decided to punish the skills she was endeavoring to teach.

I spoke with her about the situation and she laughed, "Well, you only spent 28 minutes on the test."

"Yes, but that is not the issue. The issue is that You gave me less than full credit for a correct answer based on a rubric you determined while grading. Don't you see a problem with that?"

She didn't.