The Man, Showing His Love

President Bush will be visiting my humble city today. He will be speaking this afternoon at the Ford Fieldhouse of Grand Rapids Community College.

In order to keep those who Love him at an adoring distance, the local constabulary will be shutting down a fairly large chunk of the center of downtown Grand Rapids. After all, we wouldn’t want his adoring fans to return the Love which Bush has shown us for the past three and a half years.

What I want to know is, if everyone Loves Bush so much, why shut down the freeway while his motorcade is traveling from the airport to the center of town. Wouldn’t it have been much easier for him to just catch a helicopter in? Or is Bush trying to show us Midwestern rural folk how much Love he has for us by parading around town in a Love-proof limousine surrounded by secret service agents?

I think now would be a good time to take a quick vacation out to the lake. After all, downtown would be an overly stimulating place to be if one of our friends from overseas decides to drop in and spread some Love around.

In case that happens – or if this post is misinterpreted to be a slam on Bush for being an arrogant, useless idiot (or something else equally silly) and I am arrested for it – well, it’s been good talking at you.

Wow. So much Love in the air. Duck and cover.

Current Project

Currently filling in my free time working on version 3 of the Flash photo album. This one will be highly user modifiable; “skinnable”, if you prefer, and will hopefully be ready to launch within the next couple of weeks.

Of course this raises the questions… If I come up with something which is both useful and easy to use, should I try selling or licencing it? Or should I release it into the wilds of the Public Domain?

Guess the answer to that depends on how attached I feel to my soul at that moment…

Road Commission Blues

One day at the job was pretty much like any other: Show up, wake up, look at the map, prep the truck, head out, get the counters from the day before, come back, reset the counters, go to lunch, set out the counters, come in, go home.

The truck was kind of cool. Huge, in the way only a mid-70s Suburban could be. Orange like a traffic cone. Indestructible. Ugly. Perfect.

Our first day out we got stuck on a gravel road when we turned on the on the job light, and left it on through lunch and drained the battery dry.

Once we spent the day doing truck maintenance and discovered that we didn’t know where the oil dipstick was. There were several dipsticks, and they all came up covered with the same brown-ish fluid. It wasn’t until a week later that we figured out that the one dip-stick we had been looking at, which said the truck was all full-up with oil, was actually the power steering fluid dipstick, which was telling us that the power steering fluid was turning into taffy. When we actually found the oil dipstick it was dry as a bone, and probably had been for the entire summer. The truck was running just fine.

Then there was the day I got stuck in the ditch.

After the first couple of weeks on the job Phil and I realized that there was no way we could fill up a 40 hour week with the work we were given, so we began to take long lunches. These would usually start around 11:30, and run until 2 or so. We had no cell-phones, no CB radio, no way of contacting Road Commission Central without actually driving back. And they had no way of tracking our whereabouts.

In 1990 Jackson County was full of small parks, as often or not on the shore of a small lake which might be surrounded by small houses and specked with large people in tiny bathing suits. Over the course of the summer we found all of them. It didn’t matter where we were at the start of the day. Come 11:00 the map would come out and we would debate the plusses and minuses of driving all the way across the county to find beautiful women in bikinis, or a place suitably up-wind of a farm, or the border of Ted Nugent’s property. Try as we might, we never saw one of the Nuge’s black panthers. He was probably lying about them.

More as time allows.

Dog Day Afternoons Ad Infinitum

Weelll I got an email from my mother asking why I wasn’t updating my site very often, so I though it only appropriate that I update it with a telling of a summer job which she arranged for me.

Back in 1990, the summer after my sophomore year at GVSU, I kind of found myself at loose ends, job-wise. My mother was quite sympathetic:

GET A JOB!!!1!

So I went out looking. Spent hours on monster.com, surfed the job boards, built a few websites. Then I realized that none of this stuff had been invented yet — and the Commodore-64 version of Photoshop was too buggy to use in any profitable way — so I would have to get my hands dirty.

A few days later I found myself at the front desk of the Jackson County Road Commission building on Elm Road, just down from the state prison (this figures prominently later in the story). They needed a couple of fellas to spend the summer doing traffic density surveys all over the county.

The terms were good: 6:30am to 5:00pm, Monday through Thursday, at minimum wage ($3.50/hour at the time). A whole summer, driving around in a 1977 Suburban, laying rubber hoses across the road.

Training for the job consisted of the usual questions: You know how to drive a truck? You know how to read a map? You ever kill a man? We also got to try out the Nail Gun of Death.

The traffic counting apparatus works as follows: At the side of the road is a small metal box, about a foot square and eight or so inches thick, weighing about 25 pounds. Inside the case is a circuit-board with a couple of pneumatic pressure guages and a small tape drive. All of this is firmly bolted to the case in an attempt to make the counter redneck-resistant. Two spigots extrude from one side of the case. It is to these that the rubber tubes are attached. The tubes are about an inch in diameter. At various places along the length of the tubes are little metal Chinese finger cuff-type contraptions which have a solid loop at one end, through which is driven a nail to hold the rubber tube to the pavement.

I fired the Nail Gun of Death exactly once,aiming at a piece of hardened concrete. There was a ricochet. The sound of a .22 calibre long-rifle driven hunk of hardened steel whistling past my ear is one I will carry with me to my grave.

This story will be continued tomorrow, or thereabouts.

Go Outside! Get Some Exercise!

You didn’t really think I would spend all summer in front of the computer, did you? Well, I’m not. Even though I made the horrible mistake of buying an addicting video game a week ago, I have soaked up more sun in the past five days than I have, I think, in the whole rest of the year up to now.

How, I hear you ask, and Why? Why go outside? Because it’s there, and it’s bigger than inside. How? On my new bicycle . First one I have been on in about fifteen years, and first one I have owned in twenty.