So close yet so far

So it happened again...I almost became a hockey fan. This has happened perhaps 10-15 times over my 25 years on earth. I sit down and watch a game and think, "Man, this is pretty cool...why don't I watch this all the time." Then I get wrapped up in something whether it be the return of ray bourque to the garden for the last time (I was actually at that game), UMass making it to the frozen four, or most recently the Bruin pushing a game 7 against the montreal canadiens (otherwise known as the Yankees of Canada). Of course, I was let down once again as the bruins get beaten like a rented mule and are forced to settle for eating snow cones made from the shavings created by the Habs goalie. Alas, it was not meant to be. All hope is not lost though, the Red sox swept a four game series against the Texas rangers which is pretty good and they do continue to look better as the season goes on. In other news, I was in the car with elsa this afternoon and she casually looked over and said, "Its such a nice day, I want to drive your car without a top." I thought this was a little forward of her but if she wants to pull a lady godiva on me...who am I to complain. Of course, she meant that she wanted to drive the car without its top...which of course is a bit more reasonable. What was really a bit unreasonable was the movie "300" to which I promised a faithful review. In the interest of full disclosure, I hated the movie Sin City which more than a few people told me was similar to "300." Both being Frank Miller (I think) creations. Actually, I should probably clarify the second to last statement...I hated the plot of sin city...actually I hated the lack of plot in sin city. It was like one neat visual sequence after another and then a shoddy half-assed attempt at linking them together. The movie was brimming with star power which is what first drew me to it but I was soooo let down by the whole thing. On the other hand, it did look cool and 300 looks cool too but in a different way. I watched 300 and all I could think of was that if the ancient greeks had blockbusters, 300 would be to the spartans what independence day was to 14-18 year old boys in the United States. By that I mean, its a hyper action movie with soooo many glossed over intricacies in favor of rock 'em sock 'em action that you really don't notice until after its all over and you say to yourself...what was that. Its also crazily patriotic in that kind of fascist way...but for greeks. Of course, the antagonists in the movie are the persians who are one of three things, androgynous, disfigured, or mindless thugs (actually the "Immortals" reminded me of the "foot soldiers" from TMNT). Its never really explained how a rag tag bunch of freaks and mind numbingly dumb ground pounders got to conquer most of the western world but I guess you don't need to. The other side of things are the Spartans who are led by their king whose physique is like He-man. This of course, could also fit into the same category of movie right along side Independence day and 300 as the most masculine of movies. I mean seriously, "he-man" as if both "he" and "man" were not masculine enough on their own we need to combine them into a single over pumped individual. I'll save the rest of that rant for another post because I really am a fan of he man and want to do him justice. Back to the spartans that all have the physique of a greek god...or i guess a greek soldier but thats somewhat circular. Anyways, they are all in impeccable shape and if they were wearing purple spandex underwear you could see them in the WWF next week. Apparently, in between building great monuments and worshipping at the oracles, the greeks had a lot of time to lift weights and drink protein shakes. Also, I could have sworn in the back I saw Jose Canseco and Brian McNamee...maybe that was just me. I spent most of the movie feeling brutally inadequate at the CGI'd physical prowess being displayed on screen. Of course, that didn't stop me from having two beers and polishing off the last of a box of cheeze-its. There'll be time for the gym next week. My final verdict on the to look at but still trying to be too close to history and too far from reality to be of much worth. Patrick OUT!!!

A busy weekend

So events were firing on all cylinders this weekend. Friday night into saturday during the day I went camping. That was a pretty good time with good food and good people and we ended up really lucking out with the weather. While it rained pretty hard on friday night saturday was supposed to be miserable and ended up getting well into the 60s and maybe the 70s which meant that a nice long hike was in order with some pretty clear views of the boston skyline and a little bit of a workout to half replace the time at the gym I didn't get on friday. After that it was out to dinner at the met restaurant at the new natick collection (luckily only my third visit to the mall). Food was pretty good, I ended up having a tuna steak with a wasabi sauce. The tuna was cooked perfectly (with the exception of the last piece that should have been served with mayo on white bread) with just the right amount of charring on the outside but the wasabi sauce was a bit overpowering for the whole dish. If they had toned that down a bit it would have been something to write about (though I guess it was anyways given what i'm doing now). More important to the whole evening was the company. A few friends from highschool and their significant others whom I hadn't seen in a good many years. It was really nice to reconnect a bit and catch up on whats been going on. After a somewhat long night with them, it was up early again and back to the lab. Deli (another member of the lab) gave us a dry run for his PhD qualifying presentation which went alright and so I think his chances of success are good. He presents today and it seems like he is ready to go. After all that it was back home by 4:00 at which point I watched "300." A review of that will be forthcoming this week. Patrick OUT!!!

Tax Time

So I finally did my taxes and let me tell you...I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time in 5 years I am actually getting a small refund. How nice...well only kind of nice. I'm a little bit miffed that they took my money early to begin with but I guess it was a nice surprise. However, this is tainted by having to send a check to the state for money I earned in Arkansas. Thats right, I'm being taxed on the same money TWICE. How is this possible you ask. Well good old taxachusetts is one of the 6 states in the union that actually asserts it right to tax its residents income wherever they make it. They also, of course, tax you if you aren't a resident but make your money here. So...whats the moral of the story. It is really unwise to get a job in massachusetts if you can possibly avoid it. But you already knew that didn't you. In another rediculous development...following my recent birthday, I find myself lacking health insurance for the first time in my life. Essentially in massachusetts this also constitutes a crime on my part and could subject me to a pretty hefty tax penalty if I don't get it fixed before the end of the year. So being that I don't make very much money every year and the state mandates health insurance, I took to looking into my options for getting something subsidized by the state (side note: this was a HUGE part of winning public support for this bill, because health insurance is so damn expensive). At first, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my income level put me into a place where I could get decent coverage for the fairly low premium of $45/month. I was psyched. Of course, I read the fine print...this program was not available if you are a student. I am of course, in the mind of WPI and the state, a full time student. So, even though I draw a salary and no longer take classes...I am a full time student. So where does this leave me? Well I have the option of paying for health insurance through the school mandated health insurance plan. Here's the kicker...the cost of that is more than double the cost of the state subsidized and I get less coverage. So let me sum that up for you again...Pay MORE and get LESS. Ahhhh....this is just GREAT. Essentially, the state is saying that I need to pay a penalty for being a student to the tune of $60 a month. In other words, it would be in my best interest (financially speaking) to quit school and find a job that paid more and gave me health coverage. Moral of the story: Massachusetts doesn't want me to go to school for an advanced degree. Combined morals...massachusetts wants me to quit school and stop working in the state. We have a great system here don't we. Maybe I should listen to them...if you need me, i'll be in my parents basement with a bag of dorritos and watching reruns of least my tax bill will be lighter and I won't have to buy insurance. Patrick OUT!!!

The committee to investigate better committee sub-committees

So Jose (a professor in the biochem department...not my advisor but on my committee) came to me last week and asked me if I cared about graduate student life. Seemed like a trick question to me and I told him so but acknowledged that I did care about life on campus (maybe he just needed further confirmation that I am not a sociopath). After that he said he wanted to recommend me to be a part of the Campus Community Committee and asked if it was alright if he put my name in. I agreed with very limited information and just a few days later got an email from the committee chair asking me to call her. Side note: I hate when you get an email that says to call...why not just tell me what you need to tell me in the original email. Save us both some time. Nevertheless, I called her. She was quite pleasant but seemed a little bit clueless. She asked if I had any questions and I, of course, did. The following is a loosely recorded transcript of our conversation.
Me: " What is the point of the committee...what are its goals, aspirations, dreams, hopes, fears."
Her: "Well the committee is the result of a mandate from President Berkey and we are still figuring out what that means, but generally it is meant to address community issues."
Me: "OK, so we have a committee that is going to decide what the purpose of the committee is."
Her: "Well yes...but not the whole committee, we are going to have a sub-committee to decide the goals for the larger committee."
Me: "Oh, well that makes more sense...any ideas what might be on the agenda?
Her: "Some things that were brought up at the first meeting in relation to graduate students were: race and gender issues, grad student housing, access to writing workshops, etc etc."
Me: "Am I the ONLY grad student on this committee"
Her: "Is that OK with you?"
Me: "Sure is. I mean I can't think of anyone better to talk about those issues than a white male, who speaks english as his first language and lives at home. I should fit right in and have lots of insight into the issues that effect our grad students."
Her: "Great, I'm so excited we have a meeting in a month"
Me: "OK, is that the sub-committee or the main committee?"
Her:"Let me check with the rest of the committee then i'll send you an email and we can talk about it over the phone."
Me: "Sounds great...looking forward to it"
So here I am. The lone grad student member of the no-purpose committee to deal with community issues that I don't have and really issues that aren't community at all. Everything she listed was really an individual issue. It should really be the committee to evaluate the needs of special interest groups. A community issue is something like poverty, high cost of living, available health insurance, etc. But who am I to split hairs over stuff like that. More updates to follow on the immense progress that I'm sure we're going to make. Patrick OUT!!!

Sore Loser

So I finally joined a gym. Its been a long time coming and I had bene putting it off but I suppose that now is the right time. Perhaps its getting a year older thats doing it or maybe something else but I feel like this time its for real. Much like the other 2 (okay more like 5-7) times that I've started out a gym regimen, I feel like crap. Usually it only lasts for a few days but man it is aweful. I always know its coming after that first really tough workout but this time it was a bitch and a half. Luckilly, its just about gone now so it should be more or less smooth sailing from here on out with only moderate pain and soreness for a few days after. In other news, I also officially lost my bracket pool. Actually, its not news...I lost close to a week ago. My theory as to the connection between the proportion of graduate students to basketball sucess was only marginaly sucessful. It predicted reasonably well for the first two rounds and then totally collapsed in the regionals. Of some note however, if my theory was applied to the final four matchups it would have sucessfully predicted that Memphis and Kansas would have prevailed with ratios of 0.33 and 0.26 respectively. With that in mind, I predict that Kansas will be the victor in tonights contest. Kansas had the second lowest proportion (after UNLV) in its division and Memphis had the third lowest (after oregon and michigan state). All told, of 63 games played I picked 32 correctly which is just over a 50% success rate. Next year, a coin flip might suffice and would probably be easier. Off to nurse my muscles and my pride. Patrick OUT!!!

Why can't we get sportscasters like that?

So it finally happened. WBZ, after 30 years, has had enough of Bob Lobel. To be honest, I've had more than enough of Bob Lobel for some time. As a frequent contributor to Patriots broadcasts both on television and radio and as a guest on my preferred talk radio station to talk about all things sports...I should probably like him. He is obviously a fan of my sports teams...he cares about their success and he can talk to any personality he likes and get the inside story. But...I can't get it out of my head that he constantly sounds like a drunk or a stoner. I am all about social drinking and I even favor the legalization of marijuana but it occurs to me now that there should be a caveat to such policies. My law would be written as such..."No person involved in the broadcast of news or sports shall do so under the influence of any controlled substances." I mean seriously, Bob Lobel is sometimes so unintelligable I can sit with my mouth agape in awe at how a station manager could let someone so far from being lucid onto the air. It got even better when he was paired with a Dan Shaughnessy or a Steve Burton who I think were almost as surprised as me that they let this fool on the air without his meds. Even with all this, WBZ dealt with his crap for a good many why now. Well it seems that it was a cost-cutting maneuver on their part...flushing out the old guard to be replaced with a cheaper younger, polished crew. Or perhaps it was something more, a new WBZ random drug testing policy...coupled with the station wanting to save the old man some dignity in his waning broadcast years. Now, if we could just get rid of cedric maxwell from those celtics games and if tommy heinsohn could quit it with the obnoxious tommy points. I kept thinking, do people really keep track of this there a tommy point leader board (answer: Yes, Supposedly, he gives them out for risking life and limb for the better of the team. Come to think of it, I watched a bunch of games in the old garden in the mid-90s...don't i deserve a tommy point for that. Or how about the games I watched last head covered in shame as I left the building or the risk to life and limb upon asking the bartender to put on the "C"s. By my count, being a celtics fan over the last decade entitles you to at least 500 tommy points...more if you bought season tickets at any point in that period. We'll give you a plus 50 if your fondest memories in celtics history involves any part of Dee Brown winning the slam dunk contest or if you were born after 1986 and are still a fan. On the other side, -50 points if you ever considered rooting for the pistons just because Bird went there or if you ever considered lobbying for the return of chris ford or rick pitino to the coaching staff. Maybe bob lobel could go down to philly and cover mr. ford again for a time or if that doesn't work out...I heard that High Times magazine needs a sports editor. Patrick OUT!!!