March 26, 2005

Succuming to the masses: Terri Schiavo

The Terri Schiavo debacle is yet another mind boggelingly silly media feeding frenzy that I feel compelled to comment on solely because everyone else is doing it, and everyone else is wrong. Honestly though, I don’t think this matters all that much, because to me, the alternatives are pretty similar. On one hand, Terri Schiavo dies, on the other, she remains in an irrecoverable state that’s as close to death as you can get. In neither case is she ever going to dance the tango again, let alone speak a single word in the english language. I’m not without my leanings, however. Terri Schiavo has been a vegetable for 15 years. The first few years of this, her husband tried several methods to recover her, including a particularly aggressive and experimental treatment that involved electrodes being implanted in her brain. The result? I quote: “According to physicians who have actually diagnosed her in person, she displays no awareness of her surroundings, is unable to swallow, and any consciousness or personality died in 1990.” (Ars Technica) So in 1998 he gave up, and decided, based on comments to this affect that she had made, to pull the proverbial plug. 7 years later this may finally be happening. I say about time.

Now to answer the dissention. A contributing factor to Terri’s current state was medical malpractice, the result of which was a $1.3 million settlement. $300,000 of this went to her husband, the rest to her medical bills. Her husband has subsequently turned down offers for book deals, as well as multi-million dollar offers to turn over guardianship to her parents. He’s not in it for the money. He claims that his position is based upon her wishes that she related to him while she lived, and I see no reason to doubt that. I can honestly say that were I in Terri’s position, I would not want to continue to live how she lives. Does she have a chance of recovery? Modern medical technology says no, and as far as I know, there’s no magic bullet on the horizon, but I could be wrong. This point seems to be the only arguable one in my eyes, but it begs the question of how far we are willing to go to preserve people who could be saved by advances in technology at a later date. If we’re willing to keep people like Terri alive indefinitely in hopes of a cure, should we also be listening to the proponents of cryonics and flash freezing and storing the heads of the recently deceased? It’s the same rationale after all.

Anyhow, there is a real tragedy here. I think Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, and so far every court that has ruled to this affect has agreed with me. Yet they accomplish this by removing her feeding tube and letting her starve? I’m pretty sure we didn’t even starve the prisoners at Guantanamo, and we were blatently violating the Geneva Convention there. We certainly can’t get away with that sort of thing anywhere else. So why does she starve? Because euthenasia is still illegal in this country, and for no good reason that I can see. How could this not be a shining example of where a simple lethal injection would make a world of sense?

I’m not the firm believer in democracy that our government would like me to be, because I don’t think most people are well informed enough to be making decisions that affect people they’re not in direct contact with farther than 5 minutes into the future. Instead, it seems that the parts of our “democratic” system that the people have the most control of seem to gravitate to the lowest common denominator: i.e. Mr. Bush. Whoops! Did I just mention the president? That pretty much means I have to weigh in with his opinion on the subject, and subsequently show how he’s a blithering idiot. Let’s see… because federal judges refused to hear the Schiavo case citing lack of jurisdiction, Bush rushed back from *gasp* another vacation in Texas to sign some legislation into law because it’s important to have, and I love this phrase, a “culture of life.” And now for the hypocracy! In ‘99 Bush signed legislation in Texas that allows Hospitals to, for fiscal reasons, withdraw treatment of terminal patients regardless of the wishes of the family. This guy makes it way too easy sometimes. What I’m really getting at here, though, is that this is yet another area where the government really doesn’t belong. If I don’t want to be a vegetable, who are they to tell me otherwise? Dubya can have his culture of life, but if it interferes with how I live mine, I don’t dig it, plain and simple.

That was way too serious, so I’m going to end on the Uniblow auto-inflating suit!

Hooray for inflatable suits!

Posted by MrWonton at 3:00 am | Comments (22)

March 25, 2005

Fun fun fun at the Intel gym

I started going to the gym on my own volition. I keep going back mostly because of peer pressure, and that’s a good thing. If someone didn’t keep telling me to meet them there at 5, I probably wouldn’t be there, or at least not enough. Yesterday, after running 45 minutes on a sadistically designed program that involves alternating from jogging to sprinting at one minute intervals till your heart explodes, as well as a few less exhausting exercizes, I baked and ate half a meal that’s supposed to serve 6. Today I can’t straighten my arms (which is carrying over from 2 days ago, when I turned my biceps into useless lumps of jello). If I don’t keep them resting at an angle, and even if I do, I’m in constant pain. My shoulders and back ache. I went to put on my shoes and today and experienced levels of pain I’ve come to associate only with massive blood loss. I think I’ll take a day off. Good times.

Posted by MrWonton at 10:34 am | Comments (36)

March 23, 2005

All the cool people are doing it

I’m flying home either the 21st or 28th of April to get my motorcycle and ride it back here. I’ll be in SH on Friday and Ann Arbor on Saturday. Be at one or the other if you don’t suck.

Posted by MrWonton at 9:48 am | Comments (12)

March 17, 2005

NYC - Finally in Writing

Day One:

Woke up early on Sunday. Ate a delicious breakfast of cheesy scrambled eggs (thanks Stop & Shop for your random weekly specials “spend $25 and get eggs, bread, and toilet paper!”) with salami and packed some lunches. Off to New Haven, CT, the home of Yale University. “Shit! That sign says 24 hour limit!” by which point we were of course comitted to entering the parking garage. Turned around and ended up at the end of a huge line of cars trying to get out. “Uhhh, we didn’t know it was a 24 hour limit, we didn’t park…” “It’s not a 24 hour limit! Just turn around and get a new ticket.” One 12 point turn, one floor up, a couple train tickets and an hour and a half riding backwards on a train and there we were in Grand Central Station. Meaning what? Time to make our first and worst mistake of the trip.

We need a map, so we go to the information booth, and viola, bus map. Don’t see the mistake? We certainly didn’t… Next over to 5th Ave, and North towards Central Park to see the gates that come down the next day, as well as our Hostel. Checked out Gucci; tried on a few jackets and a $3800 shirt, while Derek rocked a $2800 white blazer. The thing fit like a glove since, as Derek pointed out, at Gucci they only make clothes for skinny people. I loved it. The love wasn’t shared though, as when we started taking pictures the guard expressed his dismay with our choice of actions. C’est la vie. On to Armani, Versace, Sak’s 5th Ave., and Tiffany’s.

Saw the gates

About 25 blocks later, we were there. Yes, that guy’s flicking us off. Welcome to New York! We wandered North towards the Hostel and it started to get dark.

A light in the park

We came across an exceedingly well lit nook of the park, and went to investigate…

Sculptures aplenty

Vs Robot??

There were some amazing plant sculptures surrounding a VERY nice looking restaurant with picture windows looking out over the park and their creations. People of all ages were milling around admiring the place in all it’s scenic glory and taking pictures. I went over to the giant monkey pictured above and looked around… it was by far the most popular attraction around, so at no time were less than 20 odd pairs of eyes upon it, with people swapping places below it for pictures ever few seconds. So I grabbed it’s crotch and Derek snapped a picture (didn’t turn out all that great, that kid needs camera lessons, not that I’m the one to give them to him). It was all worthwhile when some woman screamed “That’s obscene!” Yes lady, yes it is.

We’re nearing about 50 blocks of walking at this point in our zig zagging path through midtown Manhattan, and we’re still 20 blocks from the Hostel on 104th, so we decide to catch a cab. Can you say arab? I mean I appreciate a based-in-fact stereotype as much as the next guy but dag, I felt like I hopped into the backseat of Iraq. The guy’s turban was the size of a small elephant.

We make it to the Hostel and our 12 person coed room, at which point it was time to get our asses 78 blocks downtown to get free tickets to an improv comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre! We figured out the subway to get there, and before too long we were waiting in line with some righteous freaks, including one flamer who instructed us to “be safe” after the show. Thanks guy. While there, I picked up some McDonalds and brought it back. The people around us seemed to think there was LSD in our fries. I wished they were right.

The show was awesome. Horatio Sanz from SNL was there. I heckled him not once but twice! He made a bit out of it, pure hilarity. The show was so good I donated a dollar to their donation bucket… yeah that’s right, good enough that a Jew gave them money. Can you get much higher praise than that? If you can I want no part of it.

That thing got messed up

Did some random traveling, mostly looking for subway stations, catching our first glimpses of Times Square. Got back to the Hostel at about 3 in the morning, making it our earliest night in NYC. Everyone else was already asleep, and we proceeded to make as little noise as possible, which equates to waking most likely everybody up.

Day Two:

That thing got messed up

We started off by taking the subway to the Battery and the financial district (Wall Street). You couldn’t get anywhere near the Stock Exchange. Apparantly they’ve stopped allowing tours since Sept. 11… lame. I’d have loved to pull an Abbie Hoffman. The ball above was a sculpture that had apparantly been next to the WTC during the disaster, and had giant ragged holes in it from falling debris. Had lunch at a crazy huge deli-type place which served approximately 4,000 different kinds of food and at any time had about 200 people in 40 different lines. I had the best reuben of my life, and some amazing lobster bisque.

A cross!?

Sobered up at Ground Zero… Still a massive hole in the ground after 4 years. I don’t know about the cross though guys.


This is America?

Went up through Chinatown and spotted Wonton Garden. I definitely couldn’t resist taking a picture. Bought some green tea. Narrowly escaped catching severe acute respiratory syndrome. It was obviously all around us, and every time someone coughed I would scream “SARS!”. Failed to escape being the only round eyes on the street, which prompted some random old guy to stop in the street, stare at us, and start screaming at us angrily in chinese. I thought of quite a few reasons why he was so pissed off, none of which are worth repeating. Proceeded up through Little Italy, The Village, and Soho.

Looked around a lot for a subway (starting to get very tired of walking by now). Took it to the American Museum of Natural History on the upper west side (79th Street). We were all ready to pay to get in when they told us it would be free in another 15 minutes, so we went to one of the subway exits to chill for awhile. There was a group of 4 people singing and dancing near the subway exit. One had a video camera… They were all foreign. A couple French, I believe one was Israeli, and one was from somewhere else in the middle east. We stopped and watched the outrageous display. Every time I opened my mouth to make any sort of comment, even if only to Derek, the guy with the video camera swung around and shot some breathtaking video of my every move. The girl putting on most of the show was Jewish and singing in Yiddish, which apparantly she didn’t speak, as the one Yiddish phrase I knew soared well over her head. Two of the girls even grabbed us and started dancing for awhile. Totally insane.

It was a cool museum, although it was only open for an hour after it became free. We stayed inside as long as possible trying to rest our feet, but they eventually kicked us out.

Ate dinner at a Sushi place near the UCB Theatre, after searching all over Manhattan for a place even near our price range. We probably walked about 15 miles looking for the restauarant (including several more stupidly long searches for a subway station). By the time we got there, my hair had accumulated about 3 inches of snow, which melted instantly when I walked into the restaurant. I had to shake off like a dog. I had started to really wonder what I was thinking not bringing a winter coat or a hat. Thank god for hot sake. It helped me stop thinking about just about anything.

Next we met up with a girl who goes to U-M, has some classes with Derek, and happened to be in town with her roommates. Where? Karaoke bar in Chinatown!

You GO Derek!

The 6 of us busted out some rocking tunes, including Derek and me murdering “Play that funky music (white boy).”

Born to pose apparantly

Took another trip through Times Square. Got home around 5am. One of the couples in our room had stolen Derek’s pillow, so he had to search around for another half hour finding one.

Day 3:

We started off our day with a little payback that involved taking both pillows from the theiving couple’s bed, as well as our own, and locking them in our lockers. You don’t mess with a random person’s pillow!

Gotta love that skyline

You’re not a good tourist in NYC unless you go up in the Empire State building, so we did.

The UN!

The UN again!

Even more UN!

Had to check out the UN, but we got there just a bit after they stopped giving tours. I’m pretty sure I freaked out one of the guards when I stood around for about 5 minutes trying to take a half decent long exposure shot. Ate dinner in Chinatown, then got some irish coffee and gelatos in Little Italy.

On our way back we traveled down Broadway Ave. since we hadn’t really seen all the sites there. A black guy across the street spots us and books across the street towards us. Just as he gets close, he breaks into song. He sings some weird rhyming song for a bit then asked for change. Yeah, serenaded by a vagrant on Broadway.

On our way back, Derek managed to fail to properly operate the turnstile on a subway enterance, putting his day pass in and pushing without actually being in the right section of the turnstile. The result being he was stuck outside. At least I’ll never need justification for calling him a dumbass.

We again got home after everyone else in the room was asleep, and proceeded to make well directed shuffling and banging noises in the vicinity of a certain disrepectful duo.

Day 4:

We got the hell out of dodge.

Recap in 5 points:

  1. There is no such thing as Manhattan on a budget. Absolutely everything costs money, and it costs a lot more than it should.
  2. We walked, by our conservative estimates, over 50 miles, the vast majority of which were wildly unnecessary. Why? Because we grabbed a damn bus map. Who rides buses? We spent ludicrous amounts of time searching for subway enterances, walking up and down random avenues, and back and forth across random Streets. Had we picked up a subway map at the beginning, we would have been infinitely better off. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have sat in the massaging chairs in Pier One for about an hour, nor in the country music section of a tower records (only part with chairs), nor would we have managed to get into NYU’s amazingly private library.
  3. There was a ton to see and do, but we managed to do most of it in 3 days.
  4. Just about everyone was really nice. Every time we took out our map, someone would stop by and ask if we needed help. One guy stopped, gave us directions, walked about a block away, asked someone else, came back, and gave us some more directions. I’m of the opinion that people in the Midwest are of the least accomidating in the US, and hence the world. This is quite to the contrary of people in Massachusetts. Hence I had hoped to be once again surrounded by my cynical, xenophobic, and most of all rude and unhelpful bretheren. Instead, they just lock the bathrooms. What gives?
  5. New York ROCKS.

There are any number of sketchier, grittier details to this odyssey that are being purposelfully left out, but I have to custom tailor responses so that the extent that any one person knows doesn’t exceed tolerable limits. So ask and maybe you’ll get something.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:10 am | Comments (97)

March 09, 2005

I’m not useless!

One of my changes was checked into the CVS source for one of the tools I worked on today! In other words, something I worked on was included in one of our programs so from now on every time it’s used it’ll include that change. It took nearly 2 months, but I finally have something (semi-)tangible that other people here can look at.

Sadly, it’s probably the most mindless change I was assigned to do, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

I’m going to post pictures and stories about my trip later today. I’ve been lazy. I played with some pictures and wrote the beginning, but it’s late. I’ll finish up sometime tomorrow.

So my designated driver duties extended both later, and broader than I expected, so I’ll have to finish up tomorrow (although my roommate and I are cooking a homemade feast tomorrow which may take most of my day anyways). Did I say designated driver? More accurately, designated “keep the drunk-ass russian from driving and/or trying to beat up random people and/or Mike Cummins.” Luckily, he eventually passed out on the floor and the cat started crawling on him…

Daaaaamn Dimitry

Posted by MrWonton at 1:42 pm | Comments (72)

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