Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Sure Sign of Success

Straight men and lesbian women have complimented me on my weight loss. If people utterly uninterested in my body have noticed, I must be doing something right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nuts to you!

I've been waiting a while to be reminded of why almonds are supposed to be good for you. I sprinkle some on my salad at dinner, so I can feel as if I'm eating better and because they add a little crunch. At long last, the September 2008 issue of Men's Health magazine had a tiny blurb about them.

Almonds have long been known to have a beneficial effect on your cholesterol. But Canadian scientists recently found that adding almonds to a healthy diet helps significantly lower blood pressure, too. The likely reason: almonds are rich in magnesium, which has been shown to reduce hypertension. Grab an ounce or two of the nuts a day; that's about the same amount the study participants consumed.

Did you know that almonds aren't really nuts? The almond is Prunus dulcis, which belongs to the same genus as peaches (Prunus persica), apricots (Prunus armeniaca), plums (Prunus domestica), and cherries (Prunus cerasus). The difference is that you don't eat the outer layers of the almond, as you do those other fruits. Remember all those pits your mother told you not to eat? Well, you're eating one anyway.

Contrary to that old commercial for Mounds and Almond Joy, "Sometimes you feel like a nut," you're not actually eating one. I guess, more than sometimes, you don't.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abandon hope, all who enter here.

They have repainted all the exterior doors in our shop, even the overhead doors we use to bring equipment in and out. Instead of turquoise, the university's new standard color is called "bronze". (To me, it looks almost exactly the same as the dark brown used by UPS.)

I'm against the change for two reasons (okay, if you count my inherent resistance to change, three reasons). 1) Why go away from the local color palette? (You can mine turquoise in New Mexico, but I don't think we have a bronze smelter in the state.) 2) Oh yeah, let's make these doors even hotter than they already are with the sunlight beating down on them.

And you bet your sweet bippy that I'm going to argue if they make us pay for this change ourselves, even though we didn't request it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Complex Question

If the plural of index is indices, shouldn't the singular of accomplices be accomplex?

"Success in even the smallest matter"

I did it! At my official weigh-in Wednesday, I lost that pesky 3/4 of a pound (and that was after a cheeseburger on Tuesday and skipping my exercise bike)! It is now official; I have dropped to 200 lbs., and my next goal is 195 lbs.

How far will I go? Last night, during the first game in this year's World Series (which the Phillies won 3-2), the announcers mentioned that one player is 6'2" tall and weighs 180 lbs. He looked downright skinny, so I can't picture myself going that far (not to mention I'd have to eat almost nothing, and then I wouldn't be happy). Let me just keep going in increments and see how far I can go comfortably.

Incidentally, the title comes from the following quote of Marcus Aurelius. "Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle."

Mmm... trifle.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

This is something I've suspected for years but never bothered looking up. College coaches make more than university presidents. Of course, you'll have to blame each institution's Board of Regents/Trustees for the drastic inequities.

For the record, the minutes of the July 15, 2008 Board of Regents meeting (the last ones available at the time of this entry) for NMSU show the salary and perquisites of our interim president: $300,000, an automobile to be used "primarily for university purposes," and reimbursement of "reasonable entertainment, travel, and other expenses incurred by her, including country club expenses as is normal by the president." (Emphasis mine.)

Other than the obvious question of who decides what is "primarily" and "reasonable", I wonder why country club expenses are "normal", when you consider that the university has its own golf course. Shouldn't the president play there?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All I need is a Boarhound.

It struck me this morning that, because of my job and my very presence, one of my alter egos could be Rubeus Hagrid, from the popular Harry Potter book series. Herewith is my Top Ten list of reasons I should dress as Hagrid this Halloween.

1) I am taller than anyone else on staff. In fact, next to the man nicknamed DeVito and the woman nicknamed Tweety, I'm positively enormous.

2) I am a groundskeeper. According to Wikipedia, Rowling says of Hagrid, "Hagrid was always supposed to be this almost elemental force. He's like the king of the forest, or the Green Man."

3) I am in charge of the fuel keys. ("Keeper of Keys and Grounds" -- that's me.)

4) We don't have a Forbidden Forest, but we do have the grove of trees planted by the Board of Regents, which I'd like to ban students from getting near (because they repeatedly steal the plaques with the Regents' names on them).

5) I have a little bit of magic, but I'm not a whiz (nor, indeed, a wiz) at it.

6) The staff (kids) are more at ease with me than Boss (Dumbledore) -- and, if you come to my house, I'll gladly feed you tea and rock cakes.

7) Hogwarts. Ag. college with hogs. Same difference.

8) My furniture is plus-sized.

9) I have a giant tankard (72 fl. oz. capacity) that will get me absolutely sloshed if I take it to The Three Broomsticks. (Come to think of it, I wonder if the High Desert Brewery would fill it if I brought it in.)

10) I like dragons and am foster father to five (Draumar, Drambuie, Dramamine, Dovey (the only girl), and Dram; species undetermined but resembling Common Welsh Green).

Right down Santa Claus Lane

Last night, on my walk home from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Advisory Committee meeting, I heard a motorcycle slowing behind me as I got near my condo. I was pondering if I was going to be the first young man in decades accosted by a Hell's Granny. Then, I noticed that the motorcyclist turned into the driveway of the property with the Santa Claus on the front porch (see "Here Comes Santa Claus." on 10/20/08), and there were lights on in the building. I guess it's occupied after all. I wonder what it will become.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tempus fugit.

Thing Two is trying to make travel arrangements for Boss today. First, they tried to find the cheapest fare. Then they tried to find the closest airport with the cheapest fare. Then they tried to find the most appropriate arrival time at the closest airport with the cheapest fare (all in the house that Jack built). Once that was settled, they discovered that the closest hotels to the airport (or to the conference location) were already booked for those dates. Start all over again...

That reminded me of my stint in Alabama. I learned quickly the truism that, "If you live in the South and have to go anywhere, even to Hell, you have to transfer in Atlanta." Okay, putting aside all comments about how living in Alabama was living in Hell... Ahem.

There was one fun thing about flying from Atlanta, GA to Montgomery, AL. When you combine the change in time zones (Eastern to Central) and the flight time of less than one hour, you would land three minutes before you took off!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This result is fairly accurate, as online quizzes go.

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Balanced, Secure, and Realistic.

17 Impressionist, 16 Islamic, 6 Ukiyo-e, -18 Cubist, -24 Abstract and -1 Renaissance!

Impressionism is a movement in French painting, sometimes called optical realism because of its almost scientific interest in the actual visual experience and effect of light and movement on appearance of objects. Impressionist paintings are balanced, use colored shadows, use pure color, broken brushstrokes, thick paint, and scenes from everyday life or nature.

People that like Impressionist paintings may not alway be what is deemed socially acceptable. They tend to move on their own path without always worrying that it may be offensive to others. They value friendships but because they also value honesty tend to have a few really good friends. They do not, however, like people that are rude and do not appreciate the ideas of others. They are secure enough in themselves that they can listen to the ideas of other people without it affecting their own final decisions. The world for them is not black and white but more in shades of grey and muted colors. They like things to be aestically pleasing, not stark and sharp. There are many ways to view things, and the impresssionist personality views the world from many different aspects. They enjoy life and try to keep a realistic viewpoint of things, but are not very open to new experiences. If they are content in their live they will be more than likely pleased to keep things just the way they are.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

Resistance is useless!

Ignore the "loud", "talkative", and "outgoing" descriptors. Focus on the others. "Great flirts"? Apparently yes, from what friends have told me. "Understanding", "trustworthy", and "forgiving"? Yes. "Beautiful smile"? Aw, shucks, ma'am. "Loves to make out", "One of the best in sex", and "Lover not a fighter but will still knock you out"? I'll keep the smelling salts handy. ;)

Gone but not Forgotten

When I returned to my hometown for my ten-year high school reunion (just about nine years ago), I walked the halls of my alma mater and ran into my sophomore year Spanish teacher. We both recognized each other, although we had to prompt each other with our names.

A couple of years ago, I helped set up an herb garden on campus, to benefit both the growing (pun intended) interest in herbs in the horticulture dept. and the new restaurant lab in the hospitality dept. One of the professors involved looked at me and said, "You look familiar." I explained that I had taken a particular class of hers, and she replied, "Oh, that was a long time ago." (For the benefit of my ego, I choose to believe she meant that she hasn't taught that class for a while, not that I have aged poorly.)

Yesterday, I received an e-mail regarding the campus bicycle facilities committee I am setting up. I had seen this professor's name on the list of recipients of a related e-mail and wondered if she was the same person. "It's been a long time since you took Plant Phys!" she said. Yup, same professor.

It's kind of reassuring that people remember me after so many years -- and not in a bad way, either.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chlorophyll's Law

The proximity to deadline or degree of concentration needed for a project is inversely proportional to the number of interruptions you receive while trying to complete said project.

As an example, it took me over an hour to type and send an e-mail that had to get out "right away", but I wasn't interrupted when typing this.

By the way, if this law already has been stated and propagated by anyone else, please let me know, so I can give due credit.

Another milestone reached

I can't remember where I saw these two women. I think they stopped by the office for some reason. Anyway, that's not important.

It was a mother and daughter. Both were attractive. It stunned me to realize that I found the mother more attractive than the daughter.

When did I reach that age?

Here comes Santa Claus.

On Saturday, the walk to my preferred Mexican restaurant took me by the empty building two lots up the street. It was a house a long time ago, but most recently (over three years ago) the building housed a title company (my title company, which moved into their new office scant days before I closed on my condo, so instead of walking two driveways down the street to take possession of my new home, I had to drive halfway across town).

The house has been vacant since, with a for-rent sign out front and no sign of any contractor activity to repaint or repair. (They do, however, have someone mow the grass once or twice a year.) On Saturday, one of those plastic, light-up Santa Claus figures (you know, the type that's common in places where it actually snows in the winter) on the porch. Am I seeing things?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Credit where Credit is Due

I don't understand the buzz about carbon "credits". I think it's just something that people thought up to distract themselves from the amount of energy they waste.

Yesterday, I took some books from a friend to the used bookstore. How many credits did I earn for carrying the books with me on a routinely scheduled trip from Albuquerque, rather than shipping them via the Post Office or UPS? How many credits did I earn for taking the books to be reused, rather than recycled? I walked to the bookstore. How many credits did I earn by not driving? I picked up four soda cans during my walk. How many minutes of TV may I watch because that's the amount of energy saved by recycling rather than generating virgin aluminum?

A couple of days ago, I attended a "webinar" in City Hall. One office paid to participate then invited several of us from different organizations to watch it with them. At the end of the webinar, the moderator announced that the registered number of participants had earned so many carbon credits by not traveling so many miles to attend the session. Get real. How many of us that did attend would even considering flying across the country for a one-hour session that didn't really tell us all that much and raised more questions than it answered? If you want to be serious, tell me how much more carbon I could have saved by paying for the webinar myself and not driving to City Hall? (And how much more money would the presenters have earned?)

Back in the spring of 2007, an "environmental justice" conference held on campus wanted to plant trees as carbon "offsets", to compensate for the amount of energy they used to attend and put on the conference. As I understand it, the trees supposedly ingest the same amount of carbon dioxide expended. What I want to know is, did the people who calculated the number of trees needed also consider the amount of carbon expended to water, fertilize, harvest, and transport the trees? How about the energy we used to dig the holes and plant the trees? What about the overtime labor for planting on a Saturday morning? What size tree consumes that much carbon -- the tiny, five-gallon trees which were donated, the larger, 24" boxed trees we provided, or a towering, mature Sequoia in northern California?

I'm bordering on ridiculous to make a point. Don't just give me an inflated, imaginary number which means nothing to me. I know that plants transform carbon dioxide. Show me the calculations used. Prove to me that your argument is logically based. Above all, don't get a "holier than thou" attitude.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Your 15 minutes are up.

There's a saying, attributed to the late, U.S. artist Andy Warhol, that every person gets "fifteen minutes of fame" in his/her lifetime. (I suspect that some of us will never be known because an awful lot of celebrities take more than their fair share.)

Our local community college is having a fundraiser. You, too, can pay just $35.00 to attend. The press release says, "Celebrity performers include Sunny Ozuna, Al Hurricane, Al Hurricane Jr., Tobias René, Rick Treviño, and René René."

Obviously, the person who wrote the press release has a different idea of celebrity than I do. I've never heard of any of them, even when you consider I live in a decently sized small town. (Note: I always laugh because Las Cruces calls itself a city, but Cherry Hill, NJ, where I grew up, has about the same population, and it's just called a township. I honestly can't call this place a "city".) I've heard of the mayor. I've heard of a few business owners and university administrators. Heck, even one of the local newspaper editors blowing his own horn is a name known to me, but not any of the aforementioned "celebrity performers".

Would you like to take a survey?

"Do you like beans? Do you like George Wendt? Would you like to see a movie with George Wendt eating beans?" (the Survey Ladies, Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs)

As much as I gripe about being the victim of negative attention (because I'm too tall, too fat, too smart, wear glasses, etc.), I also enjoy being different every once in a while -- particularly when it comes to surveys. I love it when I'm an oddball whose answers don't fit in the pre-formatted choices. Honestly, I don't try to screw up surveys; I just think differently than other people.

About 15 minutes ago, the office phone rang. The caller (who identified herself as a member of the campus journalism dept.) said that my number was selected at random. (This is obvious, as our number covers over 50 employees, not just me.) The woman asked a few questions about the upcoming U.S. Presidential election. One was which major party candidate I would vote for if the election were held tomorrow. She stumbled a bit when I asked her to define "major party". (She meant Democrat or Republican, not Libertarian, Green, Communist, nor any other.) I really confused her when she asked if I am registered as Democrat, Republican, or Independent, and I in turn asked her if she meant the Independent Party (which is an oxymoron, but they didn't ask me before they decided to call themselves that) or just that I am not affiliated with a particular party. (She meant the latter.) The survey results won't be published until the week before the election, but I already suspect that my responses will relegate me to the big, honkin' catchall "Other" or "Undecided" category.

I'm not undecided, though, and I said that to the guy who knocked on my door. (I might have mentioned this already this year.) He confirmed my name and telephone number. He asked if there are any veterans, hunters, or fishers in my household. He asked if I had decided which Senatorial candidate to vote for. I told him that I never reveal for whom I vote. He said he would list me as "undecided". I replied, "Oh, I know who I'm going to vote for. I'm just not going to tell you." (There are more than three choices, people!)

I once couldn't complete an online, customer service survey from a retail department store chain. One question asked what I use my cellular phone for, and gave several choices. The survey wouldn't let me leave it blank, so I was never able to finish it. I e-mailed the webmaster that the survey is restrictive because it assumes two things. 1) Everyone has a cell. phone. 2) Everyone uses said phone for something other than just making phone calls. I never got a response to my comments.

The Nielsen company once mailed me a dollar bill and a form to fill out, indicating when I had the TV on (whether I was watching or not) and what programs were on. Since I watch very little TV, and since I'm the only one in my household, the chart was nearly blank. I never heard back from them. I guess I don't count, since I'm not married with 2.4 kids and a pet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let's do the Time Warp again.

This was the longest short weekend ever.

Because of this year's football (and other event) schedule, it was the only weekend between my mom's birthday last month and Thanksgiving that I have the weekend off. But, since Worker Bee resigned, Thing One and I are covering all his duties, and we no longer have a chance to take any days of vacation. That means I drove to ABQ Saturday morning and returned Sunday afternoon.

We didn't have time to do much. We went out to eat, refueled our cars, visited with my friend Gimpy, and napped in our La-Z-Boy recliners. It doesn't sound like much, but it's more than either of us normally does: sitting and reading or watching TV all weekend. I'm still tired this morning.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Help stimulate the economy. Buy something expensive and useless.

Every time I think I've seen it all, someone comes up with something else. Who on earth wants a life-size Lego statue of him/herself, let alone be able to afford it? What, you don't have $60,000 lying around either?

Under Pressure

My dentist's office called the other day to cancel my six-month cleaning because they no longer have a dental hygienist. They recommended I call back in January, to see if they've hired a new one by then.

The call got me thinking of how they always take my blood pressure when I go in for a checkup, and it always reads higher than usual. In fact, that is the only place where my blood pressure is higher than usual.

I do not fear dentists. In fact, I get along quite well with this dentist and his staff, so I don't think stress is the reason. Still, I pondered what could cause the difference.

First, I compared the dentist's office to the United Blood Services donor center in Albuquerque, where my blood pressure is taken most frequently. Albuquerque is at a higher elevation (about 2,000 feet higher) than Las Cruces. Could that be the reason? I donate blood in the morning, but my visits to the dentist are in the afternoon. Could that be the reason? The phlebotomist I asked said both of those are possibilities.

Yesterday afternoon, I had Gym Rat take my blood pressure. I wanted to see if the afternoon reading could indeed be the reason. It was spot-on average. So much for time of day -- and, indeed, for attributing stress at work -- for elevating my blood pressure. Elevation, too, can be discounted, because the dentist's office is, at most, a couple of hundred feet above the gym.

Any thoughts?

New and... Improved?

NMSU is proposing a new, three-phase arts complex to join the visual, dramatic, and musical arts programs into one part of campus. Architects' renderings of the first building have been released.

For those of you familiar with the campus, the building will be located at the SE corner of University Ave. and Espina St., where a grass lawn and trees are now. (Lord knows there are too many green things in the Chihuahuan Desert, so it won't hurt to lose a few.)

This press release has four drawings of the intended facility. The first image shows the building catacorner, viewed from the NW corner of the intersection. (Note the existing Conroy Honors Center, the old YMCA, in the lower right of the image.) This building, "will complement the architecture of the region," according to the press release, but I can tell you it resembles no other building now standing in Las Cruces. I wonder how far they go in their definition of "region".

The third image shows an entrance to the new building in between the old YMCA building (to the left) and the old music building (to the right). (Note how the building appears more in scale with the existing buildings, in contrast to the first picture.)

One hundred one years ago, the headline read, "New College to be Work of Art". It's a pity that it won't be continued this century, with the new arts complex.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Was there ever any doubt?

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.

Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.

When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.

But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Missed it by... that much

Friday was my official weigh-in at the gym. Each time I flip my workout card (every eight visits, about 2.5 weeks), I weigh myself. Whenever I start a new workout card (about 5 weeks), I start a new exercise routine. On Friday, I did both. (My legs are still sore after the lunges Gym Rat had me do.)

I was just 3/4 of a pound heavier than my goal! Of course, that means my next goal (5 more pounds) is unofficial, but I'll shoot for it anyway.

I might have mentioned this before, but Gym Rat says he thinks my legs look thinner. Of course, he's paid to notice things about his patrons. A coworker, though, said last week I'm looking thinner, and I'm 99 and 44/100 percent certain that he's not scoping me out for any particular reason. I'm still having trouble viewing myself neutrally in the mirror. I think I might look thinner, but I've been viewing myself negatively for so long, it's a hard habit to break. I also need to adjust my view of successes. Rather than mope about not tightening my belt another notch yet, I should appreciate that I no longer have to suck in my gut just to button my pants.

Naturally, my successful weight loss needs to be celebrated. But, since it was Cheeseburger Friday, I couldn't do it then. Yesterday, I went to Scoopy's, but that was to celebrate my successful home repair: attaching elbows to the bottom of my downspouts, so the water flows away from the walls of my home rather than at the joint between the wall and the veranda. Ah well, I'll get back to eating healthily today. I'm thinking of some stir fry.

Boy, an (attempted) motorcycle safety course, bicycle lessons, home repairs, now weight loss. Who flipped the switch on my birthday back in June?

Friday, October 03, 2008

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.

I forgot to mention earlier this week, when the moon was new, that my additional veranda lights indeed illuminate the path to the other condos more than adequately. Of course, now it looks like everyone else is in the dark. (Don't step into the shadows!)