Archive for the General News Category

Slogging Away Why?

Posted in Education, General News, Philosophy with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by consortiumoffools

“Look at all of us getting blindly ripped off,” I said, waiving my hand over a sea of undergrads who were swiftly trekking to classes. “Suckers.” Since the last time I attended this university, the number of students has risen significantly. Schools across the nation have seen an increase in students and the nation itself has seen a notable increase in new universities that all promise the same thing: attain this degree of higher learning and your quality of life will undoubtedly improve. I have two degrees and I’m back taking prerequisite classes for yet another degree with this dream in mind.

 

Documentaries such as America’s Crappy Schools or whatever it was called, claim that there are plenty of high-end jobs in the US that are filled by geniuses from other countries because Americans lack the education required for these careers. These careers include mechanical engineers, surgeons, and college professors. So flashback to me standing on campus peering out at the masses. We are all buying in: if only we go back to school, take out some loans, we will get those jobs and make the money. But we won’t make the cut. School and departmental funding is incrementally decreasing, federal loan aid is constantly in jeopardy, and all of us flooding the system decreases the individual odds of even getting into school. For instance, I applied to 6 grad schools across the nation. In one of my many letters of denial, an administrator delineated the data of the average scores for this year’s admitted applicants for me via a chart:

GPA

3.91

GRE %iles

Verbal

80th

Quantitative

63rd

Analytical

66th

My GPA was 3.7 and my GRE was 65th,44th,48th respectively. My first semester back in 3 years, I took 15 credit hours, which is five classes, and earned 4 As and a single B. There were 403 applicants for 35 available positions. This boils down to an overflow of applicants and the university’s policy to take the top 35 who earn the straightest of As and score well on a $160 standardized test. The admissions committee does not get the chance to analyze any other student credentials because of this cut-off. There is an obvious disconnect between academia and the career market. The schools must somehow rank students as numbers based on standardized tests. These test scores and ability to succeed in the job market are two different things. Tests: memorizing, studying, and submergence in white American culture. Job market: integrity, consistency, reliability, and determination are keys to success. The skills imparted on us in college do not mirror the skills required by employers. Several professionals told me that what they learned in school they hardly use in practice. Job proficiency begins to appear after 5 years of work in the field, not from abstract theories presented to us in school.

Americans need to earn that education to keep our US jobs. Yeah, right. The institutions are overwhelmed by applicants and their small programs cannot accommodate the demand. Yet, these institutions are willing to take our cash, no questions asked. My undergraduate prerequisite classes cost me the exact same as graduate degree classes. Per UNM policy, because I already have an undergraduate degree from them, any additional classes I take are billed as graduate classes: (about $1,000 more a semester) even undergraduate classes. I will not be awarded another degree, even though the classes I’m taking essentially add up to another major (27 department credit hours so far).

When I pointed out my fellow university companions as suckers, I smugly felt I was not a sucker as well. “I’m going into speech-language pathology, I’m guaranteed a job.” That is if I get into a school. I’m currently on the UNM grad program waiting list. I’m going to keep taking classes to inch my GPA up. I’m going to retake the GRE to earn a higher score. I’ll apply to the 6 schools again next year. I realize that this education is just a step in the journey toward gainful employment. I won’t give up, but I certainly am disheartened as I’m churned by the higher education machine.

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Project Neglected for Bikes, Snowboarding

Posted in Auto Articles, cycling, General News, snowboarding with tags , , on November 15, 2009 by consortiumoffools

bike-headliner

Winter is arriving and my priorities are changing. This summer has been all about road cycling and mountain biking. I’m still going to continue to get out there on my bikes as much as possible, but it’s snowboarding season. To start the season off right, I bought a snowboard. It’s the last piece of the puzzle in my winter equipment line up. I hadn’t purchased a new snowboard since 2002, and that was my first. This board is much lighter and smaller, so I foresee more tricks in my riding career. With much of my summer money gone to bicycle maintenance and the allotment of my winter funds to lift tickets, there isn’t much left for the cars. I use the plural because it’s not just the project car Subaru that’s a money suck, my daily driver needs care too.

In order to ride mountain bikes or snowboard, I have to load up the gear, fill the car with gas and drive to the mountains. At first this seemed like an acceptable sacrifice for me. In fact, it’s still viable based on how much fun I have once I get there. But little did I realize how much of my project car money would be spent on the Focus. The most recent example is the set of snow tires I’m getting for the upcoming season. My summer tires have little grip in the wet, plus I’m planning several trips to Denver. I don’t want to spend the money on new tires, but it’s a must if I want to go snowboarding. Tires aren’t the only expense. I’ve also been changing the synthetic oil every 5,000 miles or so. The car has 113,000 miles on it, so larger items are prone to give out. So far I’ve replaced the timing belt, water pump, clutch, plugs, wires, shocks, brakes– all of the major wear items. The most obvious expense is the gas each trip requires. A less obvious expense is the wear over time, like the interior damage that snowboards and bikes incur when shoved into the hatch.

This past summer I solved the problem of where to put gear without damaging my interior while providing more passenger room: I bought a roof rack! I also bought the mounts for 4 snowboards and 2 bikes. Now I can just throw the muddy bikes and the wet snowboards right on the top of the car. It was $550 for the rack and all the mounts. Unfortunately, that’s $550 taken away from rebuilding my 2009 IHI VF48 Subaru STi turbocharger.

The intake manifolds with no soul and no purpose lay on the concrete bed that is the garage floor. A whole turbo farm, made up of TD04s with blown seals, sits dormant in its cardboard cage. Several injectors, all of them too small and all of them of questionable working order, sit on shelves. I open the garage all the time and see these sad forgotten car parts. Then I take a bike out and shut the door, forgetting all about the neglected Subaru museum.

Six-thirty Soccer

Posted in General News with tags , , , , on August 26, 2009 by consortiumoffools

Soccer

Are US citizens taking soccer more seriously these days?  David Beckham gets paid millions for playing for the LA Galaxy, the US mens national team almost won the Gold Cup in July, and locally we gathered publicly for the US versus Mexico World Cup qualifying match.  Our teams are not exactly winning, but they are doing better than they ever have in the past.  Soccer is a great sport to watch and even more fun to play.  Game play is fast paced and each shot on goal is gut wrenching.  One tiny mistake or one lucky tap of the ball will change the course of the whole game.  Games are often won by only a point or two difference in each team’s score.   We play on Johnson Field at 6:30, Tuesday and Thursday.

And now, a video:

It’s Vic Henley discussing soccer in Europe.  Hilarious!

Video

Tattoo me now… tattoo!

Posted in General News with tags on January 19, 2009 by consortiumoffools

Before I get permanently scarred by an ink-depositing needle, I research.  I come up with an idea for a tat in my mind, then I draw it, then I Google image it.  I look for ideas based not only on other people’s tattoos, but also from art, history and symbolism.

The first tattoo that I paid someone to put on me is a set of Legos.  Both of them are located on each tricep.  I wanted a Lego tattoo since high school for many different reasons.  First, I am a huge fan of symmetry.  I like the way the little 4-peg cubes are perfect geometrical shapes.

Just after I got it, early 2006

Just after I got it, early 2006

Most importantly, the Legos are symbols of my heratige, not only becasue I obsessivly tioled over Legos as a child, but also because the Lego corporation is based in Denmark- the country of my Viking ancestors.  I have visited Denmark twice, and went to the original Lego Land the first time at age 16.

The next tattoo I got is an Española Zia.  I really wanted to get something that represents my  love of my state, plus the fact that I was born and raised here.  So, I decided upon a Zia.  What better way to represent my state other than using its symbol?  But as I researched, I saw that a whole hell of a lot of people have a Zia tat, so I researched further.  The Española Chamber of Commerce created a symbol to represent the town and the state at the same time.  It’s essentially a blocked-off, three-pronged variant of the traditional symbol.  espanola-zia-copy This tattoo is also symmetrical, and as such, I placed it in the center of my back.  The Zia represents the sun, as well as seasons and winds.  The four portions each represent a different season, and the cyclical nature of the symbol mirrors the cyclical tendencies of life.  I like to believe my version is an attempt to find consistency and uniformity in the chaos that is life.  It’s split into four distinct portions, and the blocked off look portrays stability.

back_1

It’s been a year since I got my last tattoo, and keeping with my tradition of telling blood donation people that I just got a tattoo and may have Hep C, I need another one.   I’ve been tossing ideas around and photoshopping like a mad man.  I have arrived upon an idea that first manifested itself years ago.  I’m gonna get three side-by-side squares filled in with gears.  The three panels represent past, present and future.  The gears represent my gear-headed nature.  It’s gonna be carbon black, just like my others.  I’m not sure what my aversion to color is.  It could be the fear of colored tattoos looking cartoonish.  It could be that I remember a famous graffiti artist proclaiming that everything should be painted in black and white first, because color is just a crutch used to cover up a lack of talent.  It could also be because I’m from Spaña, and I’m used to black prison style tats.

During my research, I came upon several tattoos that I wish I had thought up first.  These were found mostly by accident and appear in no particular order.

The first is a tattoo of an automotive diagram of a turbocharger.  I like it because it shows the wearer’s love of turbos and is also a testament to the size of his undoubtedly large testicles, because this is a huge painful tattoo:

boosted arm!

boosted arm!

Some forum speculators insist that he should get a legend for the diagram on his other arm.  The next tattoo that’s right up my ally is this one:

tattoo-gear-coffeeI like this tattoo a lot because I’ve often had a cup o’ joe, then hopped on my bike.  The tattoo lacks one thing though— the extreme need to pee after drinking coffee then biking.  Maybe there should be a droplet falling off the gear- to denote urination, chain lubrication, and java anticipation.  The next image is another that heavily involves symbolism.  Heck, it is a symbol.  It’s the symbol for an NPN transistor in an electrical diagram:

tattoo-diodeThe next two tattoos I found online are food related:

Cut it up!

Cut it up!

Fork you, I'm eating.

Fork you, I'm eating.

These two are hilarious and memorable, two traits that I find appealing in tattoos.  The next few are music related.   I have considered a band tattoo, but still have not found anything that I want forever.  When searching “band tattoos”  I arrived upon Adam Duritz and the playlist for 94 Rock tatted on some unfortunate people’s backs:

The Counting Crows' frontman, Adam Duritz.

The Counting Crows' frontman, Adam Duritz.

Rock on!

Rock on!

This is why I research my tattoos.  I won’t regret them if a) I know exactly what they mean to me, and b) I can’t see them!   I cannot see my tattoos without trying, how could I regret them?  Plus, our society is changing.  It is no longer taboo to tote tattoos.  All of mine are easily concealed by a t-shirt, and I’ve had no problems finding jobs thus far.  As soon as I visually mangle my body with another tattoo, I’ll be sure to update!

All Wheel Drive Turbo: Only a Few Choices

Posted in Auto Articles, General News with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2007 by consortiumoffools

“I’m Leif, Leif, Leif, Leif, I want this, I want this car and that car and any turbo car…”

I now must disclose the possible origin of the above quote. I really do want every car ever: I want a Unimog, a Miata, a MazdaSpeed 3, I want a Ford GT, and a GT3, and a Super Charged Range Rover Sport, and any M3. But recently I’ve really wanted something in AWD with a turbo.

The first two cars that come to mind are the Lancer Evo and the STi. They are each 300 horsepower, each all-wheel drive, and each pushing $30,00 per price tag. And each horribly ugly. With their atrocious rear wings ready for flight, their offensively large hood scoops (which even the Hemi Dart pulled off better), and their “street tuner rice box mod” appeal make me sick to my stomach. Sure they have power and AWD, but you’d expect that from their overbearing styling. Everyone over-rates the Evo and STi, claiming that they are the Alpha and the Omega, the Cream of the Crop, the (insert any cliche about anything overrated here), yet cars of this nature have been here this whole time. They’re just a little bit harder to find.

Take the Audi Quattrro Turbos of the 80’s. Here was a family sedan with turbo and AWD from a well respected German manufacturer. Do you want to stay in Japan? Then the Mazda 323 GTX is the best fix. AWD, hatchback that’s turbo charged. It was made in Japan for years, and was imported to the US for only 2 years. Between 1988 and 1989 only about 1,400 of these cars were sold. Ford has some potent AWD Turbos from over the years, but all were sold in Europe. The Cosworth Sierra and the Cosworth Escort were AWD Turbo beasts.

What do all of these AWDT’s have in common? They are all production cars made by car manufactures to get into rally. The WRC (World Rallye Championship) is a huge world-wide on-and-off road timed extravaganza. Well, not really an extravaganza, it’s just a race. But it’s the most badass race of all time! It tests skills of drivers on snow, ice, dirt, sand, rain, and tarmac. The race is so trying that the drivers have a co-driver to tell them what the road ahead is like.

So how does all of this apply to me, me, me, me? Well, I want a rally car, duh. A car that I can put huge fog lights onto, a car that I can custom fabricate street sign skid plates, and a car that I can actually take onto the dirt, not to mention over speed bumps. My current vehicle is street only, and some days feels like it should be track only. I’ve already complained about mentioned its rough ride. A pseudo Jeep with the power of forced induction ripping through gravel up the west side of the Sandias is what I dream of. Something that looks mean, but not extravagant; powerful, yet not overstated.

Sadly if I even follow through with my car dream of the month, it’ll probably have to be a Subaru. The $30k cars are too expensive, the Mazda is too difficult to find in good condition close to home, and the UK Fords cost thousands to import. I hate the way all WRXs look. If only a 2001 Impreza Wagon could be found for a good price. Then engine swapping we shall go.

Subaru 22B

Summer Progress, an oxymoron?

Posted in General News on May 31, 2007 by consortiumoffools

So it’s now summer and I had so many plans. Well, I still have them. They include reading all those books I’ve been putting off. The plans also include writing more. But look at me now, it’s been a month since I last even typed anything out on here. And this is the easiest form of publishing!

So my book list includes Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and Orwell’s “1984.” I have these important books that I need to read to prove to everyone that I’m learn-ed. This relates to the real reason I vote. It’s not because I think my votes matter, I just want to answer people, “Yes, actually, I fuckin’ did vote!” When people ask me how American I am. But I digress.

I have grand plans. I need a writing job. My current job of driving other people’s cars is fun, and I’ve driven the hell out of some pretty badass cars, but it’s not really helping my career. I now know what getting the rear tires loose in a BMW M3 in the middle of an intersection is like, as well as getting a 505 hp C6 Corvette ZO6 sideways in an underground parking garage, not to mention the plush, yet powerful, feel of a new supercharged Range Rover, but really, will that help me get a writing job? Hopefully it is a start on the way to automotive writing. I know it has helped me. Now amidst car discussions with gear heads I can chime in, “I’ve driven an STi. Over-fucking-rated.” How annoying to my conversational peers.

So, a writing job. Most I’ve seen are volunteered internships. fuck. I really like the valet salary. But is a few thousand worth the opportunity to add a real job to my resumé? The coolest thing would be to internship for a car magazine, but that’s a few steps in the future. Valet-> PR Boner -> Newspaper Journalist-> Magazine Intern -> Magazine Contributor-> Magazine Writer. That’s a possible chain of events. I really would like to cut out the Newspaper bit. AP style is the absolute devil and news is so damn bland. I don’t want to consumer report, I want to offend and judge. I want to drive the shit out of a Murcielago, then talk about how poorly it was designed, and how, if only Lambo had consulted me, it could have been done much better.

P.S. Grassroots Motorsports Magazine rocks ass!

Brand New teaches us lessons

Posted in General News on April 11, 2007 by consortiumoffools

No, Mr. Lacey won’t be heading up Economics and teaching students about decimals and dollars, nor will Mr. Accardi be giving guitar lessons in the basement.

Their latest lesson is clear,

Don’t Drink and Drive.

I just attended their concert this past weekend, and Jesse Lacey started out his song Limousine with a statement explaining, “This is not a happy song. It is a sad song about an accident that happened near our house.” The song is an amazing one, and I suggest you download it. Better yet, go buy their latest CD, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me.

Here is the news article: here

It always seems like an ok option to drive home after having a few drinks, but the consequences are not worth the risk. Have one of your friends drive you home. Oh, and one more thing, have the friend who’s driving you put in this CD. It’s great to jam out to while drunk.

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me