Friday, July 11, 2008

On The Road Again: Bidding Farewell to The Vato

Here we are, at the crossroads of history. For something like the three hundred twenty-third time in five years, my blog is moving, hopefully for good. The new address:

Weird. There's something strangely familiar about that domain name, but I can't quite put my finger on it....

You see, the recent economic downturn has hit the ¡Oye, vato! crew with unexpected severity. We've had to fire all the administrative staff, limit PR to Internet-only stuff, and cut the editorial department down to just one schmo with seniority. It's a dark time here at the office.

So, in order to economize and refocus the operation, we're combining forces with the folks over at the highly exclusive Ziggity Zam site to produce a new blog of epic proportions: monstropolitan. But yeah, the address is just, the boringness of which required us to compensate with an exciting and incomprehensible name that sounds like some new Godzilla-flavored ice cream. What do we have to lose except our dignity?

Cutting through the pretenses, this new site allows me to combine my public blog (this one) with my family-only, private blog. Especially if they're my buddies or kinsmen, people who register and log in at this new site will get special privileges like access to posts I don't feel comfortable throwing out to the Internet in general ;-) But, for the most part, it's all public so you probably don't really have to bother.

I have, however, started putting up some of my poetry, and most of that will only be available to logged-in friends and family. (Like reading my poetry is really some great motivation to sign up!) I also plan to put up pages about school, research, and professional stuff. In that sense, will be a lot like Josh Hansen: the online edition.

Hopefully I'll see you -- or, at the very least, you'll see me -- there.
P.S. All of the content (posts and comments) from this blog has been transferred over to the new one.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Today in the Life of Josh

  • Awake a bit after noon, shocked to have slept so late. (Gotta set an alarm!)
  • Standard prepare-for-the-day stuff. (Pray, shower, read scriptures, eat breakfast (super late breakfast))
  • Walk to campus and give Nathaniel the tie that the Sister Sessions bought for us for Britten's wedding
  • Work in the lab -- debugging the regressions in the Language-ID system so I'm ready for my presentation on Thursday.
  • Walk home a bit after 7. Run in to Mary and chat with her on the way.
  • Eat a dinner of rice and veggies graciously provided by Mary, then go to Family Home Evening across the street at the intramural field.
  • Listen to Gabe's lesson on dealing with doubts (using Nickel Creek's "Doubting Thomas" song, which I liked)
  • Walk/run/sneak across town to Kiwanis park as we played "Fugitive". (When I played that at home in high school we called it Mission Impossible.) On the way I ran into two friends from my last ward. Chatting with them resulted in my capture at the hands of Barney and his evil accomplices, but catching up with friends is more important!
  • Come home and write this post

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Quoth the Raven"; Or, On the Demise of Schmoopsy-poo

Well, I got back to Provo last night and one of the first things I did was run like a frightened child to the ever-loving side of my dear Jenny, or Schmoopsy-poo as I like to call her when my heart is most profusely gushing forth its unending affections towards her.

We had been divided by hundreds -- nay! thousands -- of miles, and the tendrils of enduring obsession binding our hearts together were stretched to the breaking point. And so it was no surprise that when we got together last night it seemed that the petals of our fiery flower of love had wilted like a corsage in a microwave. I mean, all she could do was talk about Neal Diamond. And I, for my part, just kept on raving about the ridiculousness of Notting Hill. The very air was poisoned against us and the love that once was, but is now condemned to be no more than a tormenting memory of mushy pet names and awkward photo shoots! So -- with mutual admiration, but unable to overcome the widening gulf rending our relationship in two -- we called it off.

Alas and wo unto us for that past promise of eternal ping-pong matches which now is not! Alas that Jenny-sweets no longer shall gaze into my eyes like a mosquito drawn towards a bug zapper! Alas that my keyboard now is short-circuited by my free-flowing tears!

And so I ask myself if ever the blissful days of yore shall return; if ever I shall dare to leap joyously with heals a-clicking over an oily puddle of rainwater; or if I will once more in this life chuckle at the wit of graffiti on an underpass wall. And then into my dimming mind echo the words I know so well: for thus quoth the Raven, "Nevermore!" And so, dear Jenny, farewell!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Friend's Poem

After about 5 years of separation from most of my earthly belongings, I finally went with my dad to his storage unit to pick up all of the old junk that I left behind when I went back to college after my mission. Well, it's really cool to go through this stuff after so much time has elapsed. I just looked in the writing anthology that my 7th grade language arts class produced, and decided this poem by my good friend Ben Wilson deserved to be transcribed:
Water Cycle
In the days of rain
the earth is dark
And skies are gray with sorrow,
but on the eve when
the sun breaks through
rejoice is on the morrow.

In the days of sun
the Earth is green
but soon becomes in vain,
For when plants go parched
and start to die
you wish for days of rain
--Ben Wilson
You know, it's not Nobel Prize material. But it's good, especially for a 7th-grader. Nice job, 7th Grade Ben!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh, Senators, Again!

Related to my public outrage against the farm bill, the Swine Line lets us know what's been cooking on Capitol Hill as far as fiscal (ir)responsibility. Even the reform committees are adrift in bacon grease leaking out of those pork barrels!

The Epic of Zagmurf

I went to Cheney to visit Susanna yesterday, and had a great time. After going out to lunch, she, Ben, and I all sat around watching me play World of Warcraft. I love games like that -- which is why I forbid myself from regularly playing them, because I can't seem to play in moderation. But, this just once wouldn't hurt, right? ;-)

Anyway, I created a character -- a night elf hunter, as a matter of fact. He was an mighty man, whose name, in the annals, was said to be Zagmurf. Yea, and in the first year of his hunting Zagmurf did slay many beasts of the forest: nasty spider things, and boars, and a rabbit. And Zagmurf waxed strong in the ways of questing, and he did level up.

But lo, Zagmurf's bow-hunting skills were wonderful great, even to exceed all in the realm of Shadowglen. Yea, he slew the beasts from afar, and their poison spraying upon him was like the soothing fall of rain on his skin. And in the second year of his hunting, Zagmurf did gain the Stalk Beasts skill, and received many a ruined pelt as his prize. Nevertheless, Zagmurf was a friend unto the beasts, slaying only that which was meet. And he was beloved of the woodland creatures.

Yet in the third year of his hunting, Zagmurf was afflicted with an strange ailment, and did linger on the threshold of death, even until the forest animals did howl and cry at the sickening of so mighty a man. And in the fourth year, Zagmurf gave up the ghost, and returned to crumble unto dust upon the earth. And in that very hour, a boar did break forth into song, singing:
"The mighty hunter, Zagmurf, is dead!
whose marvelous skill was exceeded only by his care.
May his bowstring spring ever-tight!
May his knife-blade glint ever-bright!
Though his body rot in the grave's earthy bed,
In our mem'ry he'll always be fair!"
And when the boar had sung his verse memorial, he was seen to shed a tear. Then stood forth a deer to speak honorful words over the corse of Zagmurf, saying:
"Behold, all ye who loved Zagmurf! and hark, though your fathers were slain by his bow! Here lieth a man in the glory of death. Yet better it were" -- and he paused, and with his mouth layed a wreath of ivy upon Zagmurf's cold brow -- "to remember the glory of life which he showed us."
And he kissed the man's face, though its aspect was funereal-somber. The deer then righted himself, and continued:
"Indeed, mayhap his love -- which was great -- shall be magnified in death, unto the gain of the living. Yea, haply his power -- which was fearsome -- shall not weaken with his flesh but shall invigorate us to yet nobler deeds of valor. And haply his heart -- which was great -- at his passing beat not its last beat, but its first unto our lasting welfare.

"So all hail Zagmurf! and all praise! For he was, verily, an mighty man!"
Thus fell Zagmurf, the mighty hunter, whose ways were the ways of the just. And he quested no more in the land of Shadowglen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


There is a proposal for Pay-As-You-Drive car insurance. Your insurance rate is per-mile, not per-6-month-term. This would decrease insurance rates of those who drive little (like yours truly) but raise them for those who drive long distances. It would of course motivate decreased driving, which is a good thing from the point of view of emissions, congestion, road maintenance, vehicle maintenance, etc. I support the idea, since it seems to cause more of the cost of an activity (driving) to be borne by those participating in the activity (drivers).

However, part of the rationale used in the proposal is rests on the assumption that people who drive more get into more accidents. This deserves consideration. Stated flatly like that I have no doubt it is true: the more you drive, the more exposure to the risk of driving you undergo, thus more accidents for longer drives. However, it's also possible/likely that people who drive a lot are, by virtue of larger experience, better drivers than those who drive very little. Additionally, people who drive the longest distances tend to do so on cross-country highways, not in cities. The risks of highway driving are different from stop-and-go city traffic.

So, while long drivers are likely responsible for more total accidents than short drivers, their rate of accidents per mile may be less. I suppose that this could be taken into account by insurance companies by charging a higher rate for the first 5 or 10 thousand miles driven, then gradually decreasing the per-mile rate up to a certain point thereafter.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Oh, Senators!

"Senate" is a from Latin word basically meaning "old folks". You'd think with all of their combined years and experience they'd have learned something about discipline. Nope. Not a bit. Here's the lineup for that offense to intelligence, that fiscal outrage, the shameful farm bill. Go ahead, be ashamed of your duly elected representatives:

YEAs ---77
Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Bond (R-MO)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dole (R-NC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Stevens (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (R-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs ---15
Bennett (R-UT)
Coburn (R-OK)
Collins (R-ME)
DeMint (R-SC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Reed (D-RI)
Sununu (R-NH)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Not Voting - 8
Biden (D-DE)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Kennedy (D-MA)
McCain (R-AZ)
Obama (D-IL)
Webb (D-VA)

No presidential candidate bothered to vote; all senators from my home state of Washington took the road more-traveled and voted Yea. It's called a farm bill for a good reason: it's 100% pork. This is why nobody can convince third-world nations to trade with us (or with Europe, for that matter) -- our farming is so heavily subsidized that they simply can't compete, and everybody is so entangled with the farm lobby that they can't imagine slashing that flood of money wasted making sure sugar farmers have big houses.

I don't know how I can convey my feelings aside from a bolded, italicized capitalized, huge version of the word DISGUSTING. This is the vomit of government. Please, at least have the courtesy to gag.