Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Colt 45, shaken not stirred

Reading through the recent news in one of my surfing sessions, I discovered that numerous states have laws allowing people to carry guns into bars.  Tennessee just passed a law allowing handgun permit holders to carry their handguns into playgrounds, school parking lots, civic centers, and establishments selling alcohol.  Arizona is considering passing similar legislation.  Shockingly, laws allowing handguns in establishments serving alcohol already exist in 37 states (though to be fair, not all of those states allow guns in bars).

I'm no expert in social phenomena, but my spidey senses tell me that mixing alcohol and firearms isn't the world's smartest combination.  It ranks up there with smoking at a gas station, and watching t.v. while driving.  Bad things don't happen every time, but mishaps are certain to occur.  Unsurprisingly, bar owners and other voices of sanity note that people do stupid things around alcohol, and bringing guns to the equation is a recipe for disaster.  Sure, the passed laws still make it illegal to consume alcohol at these establishments while packing heat; perhaps I have too little faith in not believing that that particular provision will be vigorously enforced and scrupulously followed by every citizen.  Dumb and unenforceable laws are passed in alarming regularity.  My own home state of Florida (which at least had the sense to expressly prohibit guns in bars and nightclubs) has laws prohibiting cohabitation and lewd acts by unmarried couples, farting in a public place after 6 p.m., and showering naked.  I'd be shocked if any of those laws were actually enforced or followed, just as I'd be surprised to see Tennessee or Arizona spending the resources to make sure that gun-toting citizens weren't imbibing alcohol in their bars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Latest DIY experiments

Being an engineer, I often tend to opt for the DIY solution for many situations. I perhaps chose a suboptimal major and university combo since I seem to enjoy tinkering a lot; a cellular molecular bio degree from a university known for its theoretical work was in hindsight probably not the best fit for an eventual engineer. I'm also frugal, which also tends to contribute to my DIY nature. Why spend hard earned cash on something that I can build myself for a lot cheaper?

My latest DIY experiment has been finding a cheaper alternative to the Stick and Tiger Tail. Both are massage tools for loosening up those muscles you've got scrunched up from your crazy workouts. I'm not unopposed to spending money on truly useful tools, but $30 for what is essentially a glorified stick (in both name and function) didn't sit well with me. My alternatives to these products was a really cheap wood dowel that I had left over and a rolling pin from the store. The wood dowel works great, with its biggest downside being that it doesn't rotate freely about an axis. The best you can do is let it roll in your hands as you massage your tight hamstrings, quads, and iliotibial bands. It's not exactly the most convenient tool for the task, but it's perfectly functional. For the price (free since it was scrap material I had left over), I'm not complaining. The rolling pin actually rotates on an axis, which makes it easier to use. You can exert more pressure without having it induce friction burns on your calloused hands, as might be the case with going heavy with the dowel. I may still try out the commercial variants of these tools at some point. For the time being, I'm going to stick with my current solutions, since they are perfectly functional and a heck of a lot cheaper (<$5 vs $30+).

My other recent DIY experiment was making an agility ladder. These things can be had for around $30 on ebay. Of course, $7 worth of hardware store parts also gets you an agility ladder. I used some PVC pipe and some pink nylon rope to build mine. And it works just as well as the commercial product. Though, in this case, it would have probably been smarter to just buy the manufactured solution. The webbing and adjustable rungs are more flexible and easier to pack/unpack than my messy contraption. Nonetheless, I don't regret making my own ladder. Sure, I spent more in time and labor than I saved from the cheaper materials. But I had fun making that ladder, and I'm pretty sure no one is going to mistakenly walk off with my holy mess of pink rope and pvc.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Traffic Court: The Shakedown

In my second [recent] experience with the legal system, I had to go to traffic court for a red light ticket.  Overall, it was a pretty easy procedure, but it's still a hassle to have to take time out of my day to drive downtown, find parking, and then talk to the judge and traffic cop.  In my last trip to court, I observed numerous people talking with the cops to arrange a fine payment without points.  With every case, there was a deal made for a point-free offense as long as the person was willing to pay a fine.  It was no different in my case.

My parents seemed to think I could have fought the ticket, but that really isn't worth my time and it just annoys all parties involved.  Why do I want a pissed off judge and cop?  It would probably mean a higher fine if I lose or a cop that's out to get me later with another ticket.  My whole experience does lead me to think that the whole ticketing thing is a fundraising scheme though.  There are a helluva lot fees (EMS fee, fire department fee, administrative padding fee, cost recovery fee, civic salary fund fee, alien invasion fee, etc.) tacked on to the basic fine; when everything is said and done, the original fee for the traffic violation has increased five fold.  The ticket seems to be less about public safety than the Benjamins.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dinner, the breakfast of champions

Breakfast foods usually don't do much for me.  They're mostly too sweet, too carbolicious, and often too light.  Cereal, pancakes, waffles, fruit, oatmeal, bagels, muffins, and the ilk just don't rank very highly on my "I want to eat that first thing in the morning" list.  I'm not a huge fan of eating lots of sweets, especially first thing in the morning.  I'm much more a savory food eater.  Eggs, cheese grits, and other savory items are acceptable.  But the thing I usually want most first thing in the morning is leftovers from dinner.

Some people think I'm weird for wanting "real" food first thing in the morning.  I say people who need lighter fare to ease them into the day are the abnormal ones.  If I've just gone over 8 hours without eating anything, I'm going to be starving hungry.  In fact, it's not unusual for me to wake up at 4-5 in the morning starving hungry if I had a particularly hard workout and too light a dinner the day before.  When I wake up, I want real calories from a real meal.  The other stuff (the typical sweet breakfast foods) are good in addition to my first real meal of the day; they just don't work for me as the complete breakfast.

As far as weird dietary habits go, I think my breakfast preference is pretty innocuous.  Breakfast (not dinner) is supposed to be your most substantial meal of the day, so I figure I should get just as much food at breakfast as any other meal.  Plus, I think it's terrible to start off the day with the typical carb heavy, processed food breakfast (I'm thinking of crap like pop tarts and sugary cereals here).  Even worse and weirder to me are the people who start off their mornings with a Coca-Cola.  An acidic, completely artificial drink with nothing but empty calories is not what I want first thing in the morning.  I just prefer French bread pizza to French toast for breakfast.  It's weird to some, but it's the way I like to start off my day.