Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Now come over here so I can hit you for that."

I've heard a lot of fun stuff using public transportation this summer, but I think this will be my favorite of the summer.

I went to use the restroom and the bus station and was slightly annoyed that there was a 7-year-old running around unsupervised. He was having a great time dashing around activating all the urinals, sinks, and hand dryers. He was very helpful when I went to wash my hands. He carefully explained how everything in the restroom was automated except the soap dispenser. "You got to push that button up and down to get soap."

As I was leaving the terminal he had finally gotten bored playing in the bathroom so he came sprinting outside with his sister and tried his best to knock me down. Thankfully I've got quite a bit of a weight advantage so he just bounced off and then got the stunned deer-in-the-headlights look. His mother was sitting at a nearby table being a very attentive parent. She did notice him running me down and yells at him as I'm walking away.

Mother of the year: "Hey. Why you do that?! Watch where you're goin'! You didn't even say 'xcuse me. SAY IT!"
Poor child: "s-s-s-cuse me."
Me: "That's ok." (walking away a bit more quickly now)
Mother of the year: "That's better. Now come over here so I can hit you for that."

Great parenting... only available at bus stations and Wal-mart.

Clerks 2 -- Too tame for NC-17

I've been waiting for the release f Clerks 2 since I read about it earlier this year. I'm not a big enough Kevin Smith fan to have known it was in the works, but I've enjoyed all of his films. I read a couple of stories, including this one, where the director seemed to be determined to release his movie unrated to get everthing in it he wanted. "In terms of the edginess of the humor, I don't think we've ever gone this far before," he says in the USA Today piece.

Well, someone changed his mind. Clerks 2 came out with a R rating and I must say that it is one of the milder R rated shows I've seen. After being shocked by the foul-language in the original Clerks back in 1995 I had high (or low depending on your view) expectations of what Smith's cast of great characters would do. They do quite a bit, but if you're looking for the gross-out swearfest movie of the summer this isn't it. I give it two thumbs up.

My past two trips to the theater haven't been without disappointment though. Wes wrote some time ago -- so long ago I can't find the exact story to link to it -- about a lame Hoolywood project starring Samuel L. Jackson named "Snakes on a Plane". I'm sorry to say that this project is going to be release in early august and it is actually being promoted. I've been subjected to the trailer twice now and I spotted a cardboard cutout display in the theater today. That makes me sad. I guess the high school kids need a scary movie with no plot to go see. Best lame quote from the trailer, "You remember all those security scenarios we ran? Well, I'm smack in the middle of one we didn't think of."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fast and Furious (or not)

I was waiting to post until I had some pictures from this weekend, but I still haven't gotten any word about them.

The IronAbe triathlon this past Sunday was by far one of the dumbest things I've done in a long time. The lake was hot (86 degrees), the temperture was over 80, and the humidity was over 70% the entire race. I managed to finish the race with a great swim time, a decent bike time, and a lousy run time. The important thing was that I finished though. Now I've just got to get back on track with training for September otherwise I won't be able to finish that race.

My rental car for the weekend was a Suburu Outback. Closer to what I had requested, but still bigger than what I thought I would get. Since then I've noticed that they are a very popular car up here. I guess for winter driving it is a good car to have since it has a little more clearance and 4 wheel drive.

Work has been really fast and furious. The project I'm working on is preparing for initial release and I've become a full time developer helping fix bugs and prepare documentation. It's good work experience and I like it, but at some point I've got to finish the research project I was supposed to do. I have to present results on it in 4 weeks in Portland, OR.

I've also been working evenings on a project back at TAMU. My bug fixes there have gotten the code to a point where it now runs a new type of problem. Cool stuff to me, but not to anyone actually reading this. So we'll just say I've been really busy fixing code and enjoying it.

I'll get some pictures from the weekend up when I get them. Hopefully I'll have more interesting things to write about then too.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"Compact" Car Rentals

I've been back to Texas to visit twice this summer -- I spent last Saturday through Tuesday there, a great holiday weekend -- and have wound up renting a car both times. The first trip it was cheaper with gas included for me to fly into Houston and then drive to College Station. I went to pick up my compact car and was directed to a Chevy Equinox. Sure, it is one of their smaller SUVs -- I don't know if the HHR is smaller or not -- but it is a far cry from the Ford Focus I was expecting. The rental associate at the counter had tried three times to talk me into an upgrade, so I think this one can be chalked up to them being out of the sardine cans on wheels.

On the 4th my flight out of College Station was delayed by the rain in Houston. The highlight of my time spent in the airport was learning at the same time that the shuttle had lifted off safely and that the aircraft we were waiting on had left Houston. I made the connection to Chicago, but missed the train to Champaign. I made a reservation for a compact car while waiting in College Station, and when I arrived at O'Hare I was directed to a KIA Sorento. This blew me away. If they hadn't had any compacts available they should have forced me to rent something bigger due to my late reservation.

My theories on why this is happening are; the rental cars are in collusion with the oil companies to force rental customers to buy more gas, the American perception of what is compact has been severely distorted, or the rental companies don't actually have any compact rentals but just rent bigger cars at a lower rate. The first theory seems most likely to me as the other two mean the rental companies would be charging less than they should.

I'll be renting a car this next weekend for a trip over to Springfield to compete in the Iron Abe Triathlon. I'll probably request something larger so I can fit my bicycle inside to avoid purchasing a bike rack. If they give me a 15 passenger van instead of a small SUV I'll not be surprised.