Tuesday, July 31, 2007

in Denver

I'm in Denver this week. Sarcastic e-mails not appreciated.

However, since people are interested, I'll note that I got a soda from the vending machine here in the Denver office. The can had an add for Superman Returns coming out in June. Ok, so my soda is a few months old. It's no big deal.

Wait a second. Superman Returns came out last year. I checked the rest of the can and the date on the bottom of the can said March 5, 2007. Whatever. It tasted fine.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

interesting video

I have now had at least two people mention the video of the water buffalo, lions, and crocodile. The funny thing is that I saw this video over a month ago over here. What's funny is that The Big Picture is a financial blog I glance through fairly often.

Since I'm talking videos right now, I always get a kick out of films that are about quintisentially American subjects that feature non-American actors. The best example is L.A. Confidential which features two Aussies in Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce as police officers in the LAPD set in the 1950's. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it, especially if you like period pieces or classic cars. Another example out later this year is 3:10 to Yuma. Again, it has Russell Crowe, but this time he's paired with Christian Bale, who is Welsh, in a western. (Yes everybody, Batman is now Welsh.) You can watch the trailer here if you don't believe me that it's a western.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

rental car review: Chrysler Sebring

Now that I've written about the wedding and mostly leaned on Scott's post about it, I think it's time to talk about the car I rented. At this point, I'm glad I went for the upgrade from compact to mid-size, because 560 miles, most of that with two or three passengers and luggage, would not have been fun. Thus, instead of the Chevy Aveo, I was tooling around in a Chrysler Sebring.

The Sebring was very interesting, because it is ostensibly in the same class as my own car, the Ford Fusion. That class being mid-size, 4-door sedan. And not all cars in that class are the same. While I like my Fusion, I did not care for the Sebring at all. It performed adequately and I really pushed it at times since it was a rental car. It was hard on the gas, hard on the brake, and fun times driving LA area freeways. Despite doing well enough, it didn't do all that well. For starters, I could never get the seat to feel comfortable. It had manual controls in a day and age when at least a powered or partially powered driver's seat seems standard. The lumbar support felt like it was either al the way in or all the way out, I couldn't get enough thigh support and for whatever reason, I couldn't even get the angle of the seat back to feel right. It was just all wrong.

Perhaps I've become used to Ford controls from work and my own car, but I didn't like how everything was on a stalk. The headlights and dimmer switch were on the turn signal stalk on the left. The windshield wipers were on a stalk to the right. Under those, the cruise control was on yet another stalk. Now that I have them on the Fusion, I really like the buttons for the cruise control and the radio on the steering wheel. Additionally, the turn signal had this half-way setting that made the blinker blink three times that was rather aggravating because it took too much force to get it into proper turn signal position where it stayed on. There are few situations in driving that your blinker should only flash three times. I know most people only flash their turn signal about that much, but that doesn't make it right. The cup holders between the seats weren't well designed either. On the fusion, the cup holders are lined with an insert that you can remove and clean in case you spill your drink or otherwise collect bits of detritus down there. On the Sebring, the cup holders are lined, but you can't take it out. Well, you might be able to take it out, but it would involve a lot of prying. But the worst part about the interior is that it had an analog clock. No, no, no. No one wants to look at an analog clock. People want to see numbers, not roman numerals.

The vehicle styling was average. Like so many cars, it does not have any space between the edge of the rear seat and the wheel well. You can see it pretty clearly in this rear quarter view. There should be a gap between the rear seat and the wheel well. If they do it well, it'll be right where the vertical face of the edge around the fender ends like in the Fusion. Additionally, I have no problem with cars that choose to put tail lights on the trunk, but the plastic mount and case for the light on the inside of the trunk was cheap and looked like it wanted to fall off. The trunk also felt small, but at least it handled the luggage we threw into it.

The Sebring is not a bad car, but it doesn't really do anything right enough to make me want to drive one again. It had a nifty sliding top to the center arm rest and storage area that made it useful as a little table. But if that's the best thing I can say about the car, then we have a problem. The 4-speed automatic transmission is at least one gear behind the times in a day and age when Ford and GM are at six, Mercedes has seven, and Lexus has eight. (The only Sebring model with a 6-speed is their apparent top of the line Limited N Package. What an unappealing name for an options package.) In the end, I like renting cars, because it lets me mercilessly deride what's wrong with them without ever having to own them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a bit more about the wedding

Congratulations to Chris and Christine on your beautiful wedding. It was so uplifting that it seems to have given Scott the power to update his blog. He sums up many of the same sentiments I feel about the ceremony, reception, and the whole weekend in general. I'm not sure how much I have to add about the wedding itself, but I will certainly second that Chris and Christine both looked great and they looked even better together.

Kudos for those on the planning end of the wedding. At the ceremony itself, there were over 50 people in the wedding party counting the bride, groom, maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, coin and ring bearers, family, and all the various sponsors. The church had this nice older woman who was the wedding coordinator and she struck me as the kind of unsung person that many organizations would be lost without. I'm sure she's done hundreds of weddings and she knew how to keep it all under control. For the reception, we migrated over to the La Jolla Marriott. By we, I mean about 350 people. It seemed like there were more people at the reception than the actual wedding ceremony. The reception had a definite agenda that was outlined on the wedding cards at every seat and they stuck to it. I really like a good plan that people stick to and this whole thing seems well executed.

Like all good weddings, this one prompted plenty of discussions about who would get married next. In thinking about this, I believe I was wrong before about this being the start of many weddings of my friends in the next three or four years. From the group that was at this wedding, I think the next wedding is about two years away and then there will be several in two or three years. I believe this one will turn out to be an early outlier. Also, given the logistics of a large, traditional, wedding, I'm really favoring my drive-thru wedding plan. It could get relatively elaborate for a drive-thru. I might now rent a big bus to take to the drive-thru so everyone can attend the ceremony and then we can tailgate in the parking lot or perhaps order pizza. (Who said romance was dead?) I certainly don't think I'll have anywhere near 350 people at any wedding of mine. I don't belong to a large social network (family or religion or local community) that would compel me to invite lots of people. We'll say 20 family members attend and perhaps a slightly larger number of friends. One must keep in mind the difference between whom you invite and who is actually able to attend. Perhaps I'm low balling the numbers and neglecting family friends, but I'm aiming for medium to small-ish and want to stay optimistic.

By the end of the weekend, I was incredibly tired and I didn't even get married. It wasn't simply the day of the wedding, but the entire long weekend and the nights of minimal sleep in the days before I left for San Diego. That and racking up 560 miles in the rental car in four days meant a whole lot of driving. I'll have more to say about that later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

wedding , a very short summary

Since I'm pressed for time, this will be short. The wedding was very nice and I am very tired.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

wedding (not mine)

I'm actually quite excited about the impending wedding. (I suppose impending sounds a bit dire, when upcoming conveys the same meaning without the doom and gloom connotation. Too bad. Impending has a more flair.) It's only the third wedding I've ever been to and it's a first in many respects. As I noted yesterday, it's the first wedding of friends from my peer group. It's also the first wedding where I'll be in the ceremony. I'll be sure to be on my best behavior and cover up my shaved head and scalp tattoo with a wig. I'll try to get a wig that looks like the one Pedro had in Napoleon Dynamite. I'm not sure what I can do about the face tattoo I got though. Perhaps most interesting from a social standpoint, it'll be the first Catholic wedding for me. I'm told they're long, relatively speaking. I'll try to remember not to lock my knees during the ceremony and I'll probably put some Triscuits in my pocket to tide me over if I don't think I'll make it to the reception.

supply crunch

Medium-term supply crunch for oil. Not to be confused with a peak in production.

Monday, July 09, 2007

busy, driving rule

I know I've posted very little lately. I've been busy. Very busy. Home was busy in a great way for a few special days. Hermione came to visit and graciously put up with Farmington (and our silly trip to the Aztec Speedway) for a few days. I've been in a really good mood since then and haven't felt the need to brood about and ponder things worthy of this blog. Work has also been busy. People have been on vacation and I've been covering in the field since my extended long weekend with Hermione ended. I've also had about three different things going on in the office that I'm trying to wrangle under control. And I've been a bit preoccupied with the wedding I'm going to in just a couple of days. Congratulations Chris and Christine. (For what it's worth, I'll be in San Diego [maybe LA briefly] from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon.) This is the first wedding of friends of mine and probably marks the beginning of many wedding I'll attend over the next three to four years.

We also have this awesome new rule at work that applies to all of North America. We're not allowed to drive between 2300 and 0500. I'm less than thrilled with the rule. (Exemptions are possible, but need to be for compelling reasons.) I've already gotten to camp out twice because of this rule. I understand that accidents are umpteen times more likely during those hours, but it completely strips away our ability to gauge our own level of alertness and ability to drive. I also counter that one of the times I had to camp, I was less alert to drive when 0500 rolled around than when we finished at 0300. Most of the time when I'm done with a job, I'm riding at a pretty good energy level. But if you tell me to sit for two hours, I become drowsy and probably won't be anywhere near as alert as I was earlier. Here's a not so hypothetical example for the supervisor who has managed to have the worst luck with the rule so far. He's camped out about five, now going on six, times because of it. At 1400, a rig calls with a four hour notice for a crew. Crew arrives on location by 1800, set up by 1900, waits on rig for an hour, starts job at 2000, done with job by 2130, cleaned up by 2230, ready to go home, oh wait, they can't. It's time to sit on their hands for six hours and wait till morning when everyone is surely far more alert now that they've had six hours to do nothing but try and get some fitful sleep in a truck. Like I said before, I'm less than thrilled.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

vacation-y things

Last Saturday, I finally went to the Aztec Speedway to watch some races. Of course, it helped to have a wonderfully open-minded co-conspirator by my side. We also went to Durango, Mesa Verde, and Monument Valley and generally had a great time everywhere. But you can't beat this: