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Winter Is Back

KC has been suddenly plunged into winter. On Monday, it was 71 degrees. On Tuesday, it was slightly colder, and started raining. On Wednesday, the temperature dipped noticeably, and the rain turned to ice. This was when the craziness with driving began. I drive to the office that day, and even though we were released early, it still took my almost an hour to get home, most of which was spent sitting still on US-71.

The three northbound lanes go as such: The right lane becomes an exit for 11th Street on the east side of downtown. The middle lane joins the east loop, and goes on as I-35 across the bridge, as well as being the only route to get on the north loop(westbound I-70). The left lane becomes an exit for westbound I-670, also called the south loop, which is what I take.

On normal, dry, pleasant days, the traffic is still backed up to 18th or 22nd in the middle lane, with opportunistic jackoffs running up the lanes on either side, hoping to cut in line. These jackoffs were entirely responsible for the entanglements on Wednesday, when the middle lane was backed up all the way to 39th. The inch-thick layer of sandy ice on the road kept speeds even in open traffic under 20mph. With jackoffs blocking the right and left lanes trying to exploit holes in the middle lane, traffic was a standstill. Amazingly, there were no wrecks.

The traffic for almost the whole way after that was ridiculous. So terrible was it that I parked on the street in front of my house, because Broadway was so gridlocked that traffic was backed out past my place over a block away on a minor street. I parked the car, vowing not to touch it again until warm weather cleaned all the ice off it.

It got really cold, the next day. Cold for Kansas City anyway. I bundled up with a thick long-sleeved lumberjack shirt, my winter coat, scarf, gloves, and (this almost never happens) a hat. I was well-prepared for the gusty 14-degree cold that awaited me out the door, but it was still shocking. I took the bus that day, and rode in comfort all the way in. It started snowing really hard that afternoon, and they let us go at 3pm. It took me(on the bus) about a half an hour longer than the drive would have taken, and I happily took refuge in the house as the snow continued to fall.

On Friday, I intentionally got to a late start, in the hope that the city would have used the time to clear some of the sidewalks that were abominable the day before. The snow accumulation was far less than what was predicted, totaling maybe four inches downtown. There were legends about some parts of southern and central Missouri getting inundated with multiple feet of powder. Twenty miles north of KC, there was no snow at all.

That evening I took the 163 to Brookside where I met Erp and Chris, drank some beer, and moved on from Hooper's to the Brooksider, then the Peanut, and finished up at the Hurricane in Westport, where we met a metric ton of our friends, including Brad who gave me a ride home while Erp tried his luck with some girl with big boobs.

I didn't leave the apartment again until this morning, when I dusted off the car, filled the tank, and drove to work.

9:46 AM, Dec 4, 2006

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Yet Another New Camera

I took the bus yesterday. While I was at work I learned that my new camera had been delivered to the leasing office late in the morning. It was imperative that I get home by 6pm to collect my new toy. I made my connection in Brookside with only about two minutes to spare, and got off the bus at my home stop at 13th and Wyandotte at about 5:45pm. I arrived at the leasing office with only five minutes remaining before the office would close. I greedily snatched up my package and hobbled off to my apartment to rip open the packaging.

For full reference, the story begins in October, on the heels of the greatest party of all time. As a camera owner with a website, I naturally use my camera on a more-or-less regular basis. On one such occasion, shortly after pulling, resizing, rotating, annotating, and posting the pictures from the party, I got a bug in my ear to take some photographs.

I grabbed the camera and unfortunately, it resisted all attempts to be used. I pressed the power button, and repeatedly, it wouldn't go. Despondent, I put it down, and hoped it could come back some time later and find it working fine. That did not happen.

I decided that I didn't want to spend the money on a new camera right then, so I let the matter sit. The longer I let it sit, the more restless I became. I would be walking around town somewhere and see things that needed to be captured on flash memory, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got a new phone a short time later that has a camera on it that's about as good as any cameraphone I have ever seen. That is to say, it was god-awful. I couldn't put it off anymore. I have an addiction, I'm sorry to say, and I must feed the monkey. After a bit of research, I determined that the camera that most effectively floated my boat was this guy.

Like all digital cameras, it comes with a completely worthless memory card, with a storage capacity of only 32 megabytes. So I started looking for bundles that didn't completely ruin my chances of a decent deal. I found it in a shady Brooklyn outfit called Sunshine Electronics. I placed a winning bid on an auction for the camera, and completely disregarded the instructions to call them.

The listing said that they accept paypal payments, and with twenty dollar shipping charge, I can see why they don't mind using a service that skims their profit. The item description said that I would have to call them during their business hours and hand over my billing information over the phone. This is unreasonable, when paypal or a secure web form is available. Phone lines are completely unsecured, which means that anyone listening in would get my information.

The reason they want people to call them is so they can use high-pressure sales techniques to try and get you to buy things like extended warranties, useless overpriced accessories, and sometimes, the same camera for a higher price. I replied to every "generated" email they sent me that all I needed from them was an email address to which to send paypal payment, and after about six rounds of this(and a week), they gave up and just gave me the address.

I paid for the camera, and about a week later, it arrived. That's the story. Now go outside.

4:59 PM, Dec 8, 2006

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Upcoming Travel

I'm looking at my schedule, and making updates as necessary, but it looks like I have a bit of travel lined up for 2007. I'll be sitting around KC in January, meanwhile enjoying a visit from the whole family, and possibly host another party.

In February, I'm heading to Boston to visit Carl, my sister, and the beer-appreciating community for the 4th annual Extreme Beer Festival.

In April, I'm going to Long Island for the Friday afternoon wedding of a college friend, and will hopefully get to spend some time hanging out in the greatest city in the universe while I'm there.

Some time during the summer, I want to pull off the sequel to this year's trip of awesomeness, the West Coast Brew Trip. Except for 2007, I'd like to ride the rails from Boston to DC, drinking beer and visiting friends I have been promising to visit for years. It'll also give me a chance to fill in some blanks. I have only been to Philadelphia once, and I've never been to Providence, Baltimore, or Washington at all.

I also owe my other sister a visit. Since she's in Portland, I'll have to time that for a beer-related event too. That'll probably be later in the year.

4:03 PM, Dec 11, 2006

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My Roommate Got Owned

My roommate, who stubbornly refuses to burn gasoline and enclose himself in steel, was struck down today for his obstinate insistence on riding a bicycle. With little else to do, the civil servants of Prairie Village, KS converged on the spot within a couple dozen seconds in their shiny new trucks, cars, and ambulances. I think an industrious person could have looted the police station while this was happening.

In all seriousness though, I doubt that the clueless careless thoughtless woman that turned left into him will get a ticket. Only a few days ago, a cyclist was put in the hospital for getting jacked by a reckless driver in Brookside. In the Brookside case, the clearly-at-fault offender received no ticket, because they, "couldn't see," the rider.

I think the case with my roommate will be similar. It seems that despite all the forward strides that KC is making for people on bicycles, the police still view bicycles, which are legal street vehicles, as a bothersome bunch of flies, whose culpability in accidents is beyond argument. They seem to be people that are intentionally stirring up trouble by invisibly hurling themselves against moving automobiles.

My roommate could have been killed this morning, and I don't think the woman that struck him to the ground will see any criminal penalty whatsoever.

4:01 PM, Dec 12, 2006

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Party Season

Last night, everybody left the office really early to meet at the Quaff downtown at 4pm to drink beer and play darts. I went one for two in shuffleboard, and after that, James and I ruled Brad and Wayne in foosball. However, seeing as it was a Wednesday, I hastened away by the time my stomach started grumbling. A new gigabyte of memory was delivered that day, and my mind just wasn't in drinking.

I installed my new morsel of memory, and found that it wouldn't work with the slower modules I already had installed. I swore audibly as I took the older modules out, and noticed a definite performance jump with the new faster memory. That was where the pleasant surprise ended. I loaded up Civilization 4, and while I did notice some smoother movement, I also noticed graphical artifacts jumping all over the screen. I started a memory test and went to bed.

When I woke up the memory test showed several critical errors with the new memory. So that's that. I filled out an RMA request on Newegg today.

Anyway, We have our official Christmas party tonight, the majority of which I will have to miss. This is because I will be meeting people at JP Wine Bar for a gathering that has been planned for months.

Then on Saturday, Chris is having his party. Then the following Thursday, Erp and Lea are having theirs. Then I work a halfhearted half day and drive six hours back to Peoria for the Yules.

3:01 PM, Dec 14, 2006

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Late Saturday and Buses

Chris' party on Saturday was fun. We had a white elephant gift exchange in which I gave Anna a home enema kit that I received once upon a time, and received a FAX machine from Erp. Nobody stole the enema or, unfortunately, the FAX machine. I got lots of pictures with the new camera, but I have unfortunately not yet gotten them off the camera. After the party, I went over to the Phoenix with a couple of people, and they chased us out 45 minutes after closing. On the suggestion of Nick and Anna, we went down to the West Bottoms and drove on raised streets that looked like they should have been closed, to a "private party," at some place deep within the aging industrial neighborhood. We stayed there until our eyes began to droop and my watch read 3:45am.

I slept until noon on Sunday and dropped an obscene amount of money on a computer upgrade when I woke up. With trembling fingers I'll receive my new parts on maybe Wednesday, but probably Thursday, still with trembling fingers.

I got on the bus this morning and was amazed. It seemed like it was "Beautiful Woman Day" on the Metro. Seeing beautiful women on the bus is always an exciting thing, and indicates to me that the world is becoming a better place.

10:30 AM, Dec 18, 2006

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Recap and Back

Okay, I've been quite the louse with the updating, as 2006 has drawn to a close. So in a piddly attempt to bring you back up to speed:

  • I went to a bitchin' Christmas party at Erp's place and blew a chance to kiss someone because I was oblivious as usual.

  • I drove to Peoria for the annual caroling party, which was excellent as usual.

  • I ate Indian food on Christmas Eve, and found Lagunitas Brown Shugga on tap for $2.50. Not so usual.

  • I got a robot for Christmas that will be used to vacuum the floor of my apartment and scare the hell out of my roommate's cat.

  • I made it home last night in 5 1/2 hours without speeding(much).

  • I watched "The Pursuit of Happyness," and am once again completely obsessed with San Francisco.

  • I took lots of pictures of Christmas, which will be "developed" shortly.

  • I received my gift to myself: a bigtime computer upgrade. I am going to begin installing it tonight.

There. Now you know what's going on. Want to get a beer and talk more about it?

3:27 PM, Dec 26, 2006

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