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Archived Entries from January 2008


Totally Surreal

Six months ago or so I blogged about a weird situation that we had down here in the boonies. Two guys that fled a traffic stop on I-57 wound through the country and ended up tying up a couple of locals and stealing their car before shooting a deputy (who later died), crashing into some train tracks, and taking a bunch of hostages in a bank.

I might have noted that when these two gentlemen showed up at Ryan Riddell's house out in the country and put a gun to his head, Ryan astutely noted that one of them was wearing a White Sox cap and he quipped "Aw, why can't we all just get along?" His humor quite possibly saved his, and Jeremy's, lives.

Well Ryan was shot and killed two days ago. Story here.

WTF?

Prasse (who is...was...a big goofy dude that would always be out at the Call 'Em Inn with Ryan on the weekends) had a DUI recently and Ryan apparently drove him back and forth from rural Chrisman (where Prasse lived) to Tuscola, where the DUI class was held. People are speculating that they interrupted a home invasion. Or that people were out stealing anhydrous ammonia from Prasse's farm to make crystal meth. The police still aren't really saying anything.

I didn't grow up here, and I didn't know Ryan that well. We don't hang out at the Call 'Em Inn very often (like once or twice a year, if that). Ryan probably knew that I was Betsy's husband, and that I lived around the corner from his late dad and his stepmom, but that's probably about it.

But he never had a mean thing to say about anyone in any of the time I've been around him. He laughed, and joked, and drank beer (you can imagine why I enjoyed it any time he happened to be in the bar when we were there).

There's enough mean-spirited people out there who'd I'd probably be happy to never see again. Why Ryan? What the hell did he ever do to anybody?

I saw him Saturday morning in town. He was in his pickup, the unmistakable one with RIDS on the plates, and as we passed we both waved and I said "Hi Ryan" aloud, although he obviously couldn't hear me.

And two days later someone shot him and Prasse to death.

He got married a few months back. And found out he was going to be a dad later this year.

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 10:24 pm
Mood: Sad and Confused | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Dreadfully Busy

And I'm really not in the mood for it to be Monday already...

We're only in the second or third week of the semester and I'm already feeling that it's going to be a chore to keep my head above water. And this is the wrong semester work-wise to be taking two classes. Oh well. I'm just a glutton for punishment I guess.

Well thanks to my trip to St. Louis I'm a few days short of the end of this budget session and have $4 left. Whoops. I'll try harder the next round.

My advisor e-mailed me yesterday to get my information for my "graduation contract." I guess it is finally really going to happen.

I guess I should start planning a party, eh?

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2008, 2:06 pm
Mood: Eh | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


St. Louis

For the last time--I hope.

I got back today from another yearly grant panel review meeting that happens in St. Louis for which I provide tech support. Diagram that, Mrs. Marcotte. Diagramming sentences is one of the most ridiculous practices that takes place in our country. English isn't math. I spent like (heh, "like") seven years in college trying to make English be Math.

Yikes. I digress--big time.

This is hopefully the last time I have to do this--the boss is no longer going to be grant panel manager, and that almost surely removes my involvement as well.

But I went down yesterday, and made my way to the Adam's Mark, which is now quite familiar. (And that was a bad sentence, and this isn't one---ugh! It's a blog Mike, quit it!)

The long and short of it is that the boss and I went and had dinner together, and had a few beers. We discussed the five-year plan. We're on the same page. I don't know how to explain it. He's the best boss I've ever had. We talked about jobs that I was curious about, like to interview just to practice, or some such, but I'm afraid to give "them" a number and have them say okay. Or something. I'm rambling. :)

I have too many irons in the fire at work. I'm not abandoning that--for anything. I am definitely going to see Professor Kevin through until he retires. (He hates--seriously--the term "Professor"--so I use it whenever I can....).

I don't know.

We're going to revisit the 5-year plan in two years.

Anyway.

I'm glad I got to spend a few hours with the boss. He really is the best boss I've ever had.

Okay, my mind is racing about golf next year and all sorts of stuff and we have snow on the ground right now and I just need to quit it.

"The plan" is moving forward.

Two months until Spring. (Not a sentence--STOP MIKE).I should find out about graduate school when Spring starts as well.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 4:00 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hey Earl?

I love karma. Let me back up. There's no such thing as karma, any more than there are ghosts in old houses. But I tend to hold grudges, and when I find out later that persons who have "done me wrong" have gotten it "in the end," I'm quite pleased (and it seems like karma probably only because there are many, many people who I'd have on a "did me wrong" list and even if only a few of them turn up in a bad circumstance, a mind will make order out of chaos and end up with the assumption that all the bad things that happened to only a few people on my mental list must mean that something out of the ordinary is going on....). In short, it's the illusion of order.

And I'm glad that this outburst is rather obscure--that's a good thing.

I have officially checked off another old, old line on my mental list. It feels good. Any shrink in the world (okay, I can't verify that for sure--I've only seen three or four) would tell you that it is more harmful to hold a grudge than to just let it all go, but some people can't quit smoking, and some people can't quit taking crystal meth, and some people, like me, tend to hold grudges. At least they haven't shown that grudges cause cancer (yet!).

But I have one more gone. I truly now feel more sorry for this person than I ever was mad at them. I won't elaborate, but seriously.

Which reminds me! Not the same person but I have more fascinating photos of my "uber genius" neighbor still trying to get that pile of fresh wood to burn. These are a treat. I need to go get the camera out of the car....

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008, 4:21 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Budget

Well after several attempts over the years, I think we're finally going to try to stick to a somewhat-strict budget. The redhead and I traded in our debit cards for $200 each to get us through the next two weeks. I'm going to take $20 out of my envelope every week day and bring back the change each evening. I seriously think we'll end up with lots of money left over once we realize what we were spending it on to begin with. Yesterday I returned $14 to my envelope, and I'm guessing I'll put $16 back today. I am going to have to get gas before the week is out, however.

We had a 5th grade girls game in Mattoon last night at 7:00. And of course we got down there and the other team didn't show up. That was a nice 80-mile round trip and waste of four gallons of gas. Oh well. I can't say that I was totally disappointed that we had to just turn around and come back home....

So they've almost finished tearing my bar down...

They have had the heavy equipment out there working away at it for about a week and a half. I'm guessing that they'll be finished by the end of next week. Oh well. Just what we need on campus--more apartments.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 6:27 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Final Semester

Well my final semester as an undergraduate beings today. Whether or not it ends up being my final semester ever won't be determined until the middle of March.

I'm anxious to hit the ground running in both of my classes, but of course since today is the first day of class, the Blackboard web site is a bit overwhelmed. Wonderful. (The UIUC Library site is being difficult as well--you'd think these I.T. people would have this stuff figured out--sheesh!).

We're getting into the thick of the basketball season--we had games on Saturday and Sunday, and have another tonight and another tomorrow. I'm not sure if it is more entertaining watching the kids play or listening to Papa offer his commentary on what everyone should be doing out on the court.

Okay, this "server not responding" business is starting to get tired....

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008, 6:27 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Evil Atheists

As long as we're crossing the political line, we may as well get to religion as well.

I read an article recently about a 14-year old girl in the Chicago suburbs who is an atheist (as is her very outspoken father). She asked to not have "God Bless America" played in the hallways of her school during homecoming week.

So her house got egged.

After the "God Bless America" incident, someone egged the Shermans' house, stuck a church bulletin to the front door and chalked religious graffiti at the end of the driveway, misspelling Jesus. But Dawn says she wasn't rattled: "I was more disturbed that I had to help clean it up. It was disgusting."

And that sentiment, my friends, was probably what started me down the "evil path" that I'm on and have been on for many years.

She didn't egg anyone's house. But she voiced an opinion, and the "Christians" egged her house.

I've always joked to the redhead that if anyone in town gets a flat tire on Sunday morning they had better hope that I'm on my way to the store, because I'll stop and change their tire for them while all the "Christians" in town go whizzing by because they have to get to church on time. I'm only mildly exaggerating.

I'm certainly not saying that all religious people are evil--I truly don't think that at all. (I just don't like the ones that would think I'm evil...).

And yes, I don't talk about this in our dinky rural town because people would be burning crosses in my front yard every day (I'm not joking). I don't care what anyone else believes. But I do care when they care what I do or don't believe. Go believe what you want. But leave me alone.

Don't be a good person because some book told you that you'll go to hell if you don't. Be a good person because it's the right thing to do. Don't steal for fear of some deity (or even law enforcement). Don't steal because stealing is wrong. Am I so way off-base here?

Okay, I'll quit with the lecture before I start really making everyone mad at me.

But seriously--they egged her house?

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2008, 4:48 pm
Mood: Irritated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Possibilities

"There are always possibilities," Mr. Spock used to say.

I've wanted to blog about this for a couple of days now, but have hesitated because I'm not sure how close it comes to crossing the "too much information" barrier, especially since it isn't necessarily information about me. Basically, the redhead had her hours at work cut by 25%. I won't get into details, other than to say it isn't anything she has or hasn't done that caused the situation.

This means that the full push to get her a job at the BIg U is now in effect. She put her application in earlier this week and will hopefully hear something soon. I think the kids were nervous, not that either of them have any concept of our family finances, but I'm not. This is the gentle push that was needed to move forward. This is a good thing. I'm excited (for her, and for us).

Other than that exciting news, not much else has been going on. I've been swamped at work, but only have a couple of weeks to go before that lets up (a lot).

School starts Monday. Last semester at UIS. Maybe last semester of school ever, depending on what they say about my application for grad school.

Oh, and I'm really bummed that Hillary won New Hampshire last night.

Hopefully Mr. Obama can regain his momentum and take the lead again. The Bushes and Clintons and Gores and Reagans have had their turn. Let someone else have a try now, for Pete's sake.

And no, semi-faithful readers, I'm not being sarcastic. I truly want Obama to be our next president. He's smart. He's fresh. I don't agree with some of his ideas, but the Republicans are going even further off the evangelical deep end. And believe it or not, I don't toe a party line. I think for myself. ("Yeah, but your stupid ass voted for Bush twice..." Okay, I'll accept some blame for that. But after eight years of the corrupt Clintons I wasn't in the mood for eight years of Gore, and fell prey to Bush's "good ole boy" image. Then in '04 the Dems couldn't come up with anyone better than John Kerry--are you kidding me? That coupled with the fact that all the goofy liberals here on campus with their anti-Bush bumper stickers, and writing on bathroom walls, and carving in fresh sidewalks, etc., etc., infuriated me as well and part of me probably voted the way I did just to piss them off for another four years. ANYWAY--Go Barack!).

Well, I guess we'll have to sit and watch and see how it goes...

Posted: Wednesday, January 09, 2008, 9:15 pm
Mood: Happy | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Happy New Year!

Let me start by just noting that yesterday was in no way a failure. I didn't think we'd win, and I hope that nobody else was upset by the "loss."

As I said at the start of the game (which we watched at our friend Steve's house, on his 12-foot "screen"), we could be watching Michigan State get killed on New Year's Day. Or watching Purdue lose to USC. Or some other team. Instead, we were watching our team get killed in the Rose Bowl. And it was fun. We had a few bad turnovers and some other problems, but it wasn't as bad as the score suggested. And how great for our school to have been in the national spotlight, if not just for the afternoon. The Rose Bowl is basically a home game for USC, so nobody should have been surprised. We had a good showing, played like we were trying to win, and unfortunately came up short. There are bigger problems in the world than this. Go Illini!

I had to come back to work today, if for no other reason than to give my poor liver a frickin' break. Let me explain--no, let me sum up....

Let's see. Today is Wednesday, right?

Last Friday I went to the Illinois home basketball game with Darren, and sat in "A" section (where the people get to sit who give all sorts of money to the athletic department--it's so stupid, but that's a rant for another time...). We actually won that game (it was pretty much a blowout), which seems to not be as much of a given as it used to be. Afterwards we came back to my house briefly and then he and I went out to the VFW for a few beers. And we all know what "a few beers" means, right? And every time I get home from "the V" I swear to myself that I'm never going back. Yuck. Not sure how that happens....

On Saturday we had Christmas take three at Aunt Molly's house. I was successful in avoiding getting griped at by their Uncle this year (for going to school for free, which is why tuition at the U of I is so high--all because of me). The food was great. We went through a lot of bottles of wine. A bit too much wine....

Darren's wife Shannon also got him two tickets to see the Colts final game of the season (and apparently final regular season game in the RCA dome). The game was originally a noon game, then was switched to 3:15, and then finally moved to Sunday Night Football because of the "flex scheduling." So rather than attempt to drive back home at midnight I suggested we just get a hotel room. And thanks to the wonderful state government rate, we got a pretty cheap suite in a pretty nice hotel. It was amazing how polite everyone was in Indy. Not like a Bears game at all. The fans were nice. The people were friendly. The only lame part is that the game got out and we went back to the hotel room and then went to find a bar, only to find that all the bars close at midnight (WTF?) on Sunday. Seriously? You guys just had a football game and now all the bars are closed? Even Champaign isn't that lame. (And it was probably a good thing, because we had plenty of beers at the game...).

The next morning we got up early and headed back home. Of course, it was New Year's eve, and we were entertaining that evening, so I had to get right to work when I got home, helping clean up the house and make preparations. Susan brought several pounds of crab legs (which were fan-freaking-tastic) and the redhead and I cooked twice-baked potatoes and farm steaks on the grill. Quite tasty. More wine. Too much more wine...

And of course yesterday we had to get up, shake out the liver, and get to Steve's house for the Granddaddy of Them All.

Thank goodness all the liver and I had to do today was get up and come to work.

Oh, and this is fun.... The whole reason I'm here so bright and early is to get the latest batch of registration cards for our conferences printed out. I actually came in Monday morning and started a print job, knowing that it would run out of card stock before today (I have to put the cards that get printed in the auxiliary tray, so you can only fit so many of them in there...). So I got here at 6:00 and went into the lab to add more card stock before even opening my office.

Yellow toner out.
#$&*%#$@ *$#%&ing $#@%&*$ #%$!@*#$!

I put an order in before the holidays so maybe we'll get lucky and it will come today. I have an extra black cartridge--maybe I'll just put that in there for the time being and resend the job as a black-and-white job, which won't need to use any "yellow" toner....

Good thing I got up at 4:30 this morning...

Oh well. I think I might have to have a burrito for lunch today, you know, to reward my liver for getting me through the past week.

Posted: Wednesday, January 02, 2008, 1:03 pm
Mood: Mildly Perturbed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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