Saturday, February 28, 2004 ~ 02:18 p.m.

Imagine working your butt off for something - something for which you've made a committment and for which you've sacrificed time, money, sweat, and sanity. Let's say you're president of a team. Now imagine that you have a core of 4 officers to help you and a team of say, 11 other people, but of those 15 people, only 5 others actually do any significant amount of work, one of whom isn't even a student or anything.

What if one of your officers sent out an email? Maybe it wasn't one you agreed with completely, but hey, he's entitled to his own opinion. And what if, maybe, your advisor and that other guy who isn't a student both send out similar emails encouraging people to get involved and chastizing the people who've been riding on the backs of the other 5?

Now imagine that you, as president, suddenly have one of the people you've been relying on - indeed, one of your very own officers - in your face about how everything is your fault and how you should be held accountable for the words and thoughts of the three people who sent out emails. Imagine that you are trying to get out of the confrontation by simply agreeing to disagree, even as she is throwing responsibility for all her shortcomings on you. Imagine that the situation dissolves into her screaming in your face, while you have to stand there and calmly take it, instead of telling her what she so richly deserves to hear.

Imagine a world where no one should be held accountable but you, where everyone else's total inability to DO THEIR FUCKING JOB is your fault, where it's okay to just quit, with a total disregard for everyone else.

That's the world I woke up in today. And I can't decide whose head the bullet belongs in.

I have never backed down from anything I believed in or from anything for which I've made a committment. And I have nothing but utter contempt for people who do.

...Especially when they don't even have the guts to accept the responsibility for their failure.


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Maybe this isn't the best time for you to be stupid...
Thursday, February 26, 2004 ~ 11:45 a.m.

Since 3 PM yesterday, my life has been just one big ball of irritation. It shouldn't be this hard, but thanks to oh so many people, it is. I'm trying not to be angry with the people who fail in my expectations, because really it gains me nothing except another impending aneurism.

But I swear to God, should I survive this, I will never depend on another living person ever again. With a few notable exceptions, that is.

And I guess at this time, since I've been bitching, I should acknowledge the person directly responsible for maintaining my sanity. Thanks, Todd. *hug*

I should also thank Dennis, Mo, and Jackie for working so damn hard and getting absolutely nothing back. Whatever stress I'm under, they're feeling it too.

*sigh* 20 days.

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Free days
Monday, February 23, 2004 ~ 02:05 p.m.

First things first:

Congrats, Mike and Lillian!!!

My free days aren't days where I have nothing to do. They're days when I have time to do all the stuff I don't get paid for doing. But this weekend was actually fun. On Saturday, I attended Mike and Lillian's wedding (see above). It was nice and I'm glad I got to go. You know, all those people really do clean up nice. ;-) I also did a lot of shopping, which made me more appreciative of birth control than words can describe, but was also quite productive. Sunday I actually made it to church for the first time in ages, then went to a suprise birthday party for my boss (who is doing somewhat better). Then I left to meet Robert and some SGA chick at Barnes and Noble to work out some issues with our funding request. I spent the rest of last night cleaning up my bedroom (I have a bed!) and did all the laundry I've been saving up. I also cooked dinner for the first time in ages. Lots of stuff done!

Still it wasn't enough. I've decided that days should be at least 30 hours long. Then I could squeeze everything in and still have time to sleep. Where does time go?

Only 23 days to regionals.

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One month and counting...
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ~ 03:51 p.m.

Last night found me, once again, racing to drop off a completed report for overnight delivery after two hours of frantic reprinting and rebinding. Except this time, I was getting paid for it. The Home Depot report (of DOOM) is finally done. It's not exactly complete, but it's as complete as circumstances would allow. I have several concerns about it, but it's been approved by two PEs, so I guess it'll do. Gives me hives, though, to ask someone to bet their house on my word.

Not that things are slowing down with the completion of that project. Oh no, we've got another one due this Friday that I've just now started on. None of the labwork will be in my hands until tomorrow, so for the moment I'm kind of stuck just typing the general layout of the paper. It just keeps going.

Things are slowly coming back on track with ASCE now that the paper is done. Amber and I are meeting up at 6:30 tomorrow morning to paddle (aieee), since I never have time any other day. We're also ramping up on all the other things we'd put on hold. One month left, as of today!

Oh, and Kimberly pointed me towards a very well thought-out article on the arguments against same-sex marriage. My thanks to her.

*dies laughing*

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Fun with stickers
Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ~ 02:31 p.m.

Whee, bumperstickers! I'll have to buy me one, once they get my favorite back in stock. It still doesn't hold a candle to the Certified Patriot sticker, though.

It's been a pretty good day. The people who work for this company are just really awesome about helping. So far every geotech engineer I've met from other offices has offered their help should I ever need it, since I'm so new, and they've been really cool when I've called to take them up on it. Nice people, all of them.

They've also really come through since Charles has been out. Right now, people in Birmingham are bending over backwards to help me get a report out, since Charles isn't on hand. They've reviewed, answered my questions, offered suggestions, and all kinds of things. And I've needed a LOT of help.

I'm not sure if there's an FE review tonight. I hope not - I'm looking forward to a quasi-free night.

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Monday, February 16, 2004 ~ 10:49 a.m.

We finished the design paper at 6:15 AM on Friday morning, having started the process at 5:30 the night before. I caught a quick shower and was out in the field to meet drillers at 7 AM. I spent most of the day behind a drill rig, guzzling caffeine, and Todd dropped off the bound reports at the job site. At 3:30 I left work to meet Dr. Gilbert to get his signature, taking a copy of the finished report (my precious) with me for him to see. He opened it...and immediately the shit hit the fan.

Turns out the mix tables were all kinds of messed up. This being a concrete competition, the mix tables are kind of the most important part. After a good amount of Gilbert frothing at the mouth and me trying not to fall out of my chair from exhaustion, we decided that we needed to fix it. This involved recalculating, editing, reprinting, and rebinding the paper, and also reformatting the PDF. The only catch was that to get the thing to Florida on time, we had to mail it by 6 PM. By the time I got back to my office to edit the tables, it was 4:30 and the clock was running.

It was insane. There were chases through campus buildings, threats of violence, and epic struggles with recalcitrant laser printers. There were speeding violations worthy of significant jail time. I made several frantic calls, dispersing my minions throughout the city of Huntsville, calling upon them to delay the closing of various businesses by lying in the doorways if need be. I was already dead on my feet - by the time 6 PM rolled around, I was done. Fortunately, so was the paper. As it turns out, the FedEx hub in Madison has its last pick up at 7 PM, so Mo and I left the Optics building, package in hand, ready to begin the last triumphant leg of our journey.

That's when Jackie decided it'd be a good time to tell me that my boss, one of the nicest people I know and a man I like very much and respect even more, had been in a bad car accident. I was already hovering on the brink of total collapse - that pushed me right on over the edge. After Mo and Todd got done beating Jackie senseless, they saw about scraping me up and pouring me into the nearest vehicle, and all four of us raced to FedEx. It wasn't until two hours later that I was actually allowed to sleep, but by then the paper was on its way to a plane and a Saturday delivery in sunny Tampa, Florida.

I've mostly recovered now, as have Mo, Todd, Dennis, and Jackie. It was an ugly 36 hours, but we all survived. And as I told them all then, that was the LAST TIME I do this for the chapter. Never again. :-P

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The (temporary) end is in sight
Thursday, February 12, 2004 ~ 12:33 p.m.

Yesterday started with me in the field at 7:30 AM. We worked through until 6:30 PM, when the combination of dark and raining got to be too difficult. Then I went and worked on the canoe design paper from 7 until 2 AM this morning. The night before I left work at 10:30 PM because of the Home Depot job. I've been working on the design paper most of the morning and now I've just gotten a call saying that we'll pick back up drilling this afternoon. So it's another evening in the rain, then the all-nighter to finish the paper.

I am so sick of being wet and cold and tired and stressed.

Todd and Dr. Gilbert have combined forces to rescue me from the design paper. Todd took over the drawings when Mo ran into trouble and Dr. Gilbert took what I gave him and rewrote it. Six version later, I think we've got it straightened out. If it wasn't for the two of them, I'd have given up long ago and jumped off a bridge.

For better or for worse, it's all over tomorrow morning. I think I'm going to sleep the whole weekend.

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Every Little Bit
Tuesday, February 10, 2004 ~ 03:36 p.m.

I know at least a couple of you people feel the same way that I do about our little war on Iraq. MoveOn.org is sponsoring a "Call for Censure" against the President. You can see the Washington Post ad here. Go, add your voice.

Oh, and Laura, here's an ad for you.

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Monday, February 9, 2004 ~ 03:44 p.m.

The ASCE design paper has taken over my life. I am consumed by it.


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Milling Around
Saturday, February 7, 2004 ~ 04:24 p.m.

I am so incredibly not motivated to work on this design paper. I wanted to work on it at school, since I get distracted at home and at work, but the jackass who's supposed to unlock the lab just decided not to show up today. I'm hoping that maybe they'll remember to DO THEIR JOB tomorrow.

I really would have worked on it more so far, but I spent the better part of the morning talking to Gilbert and the rest of it helping Mo put the drawings together. I think I'm going to take a nap and then go try Tech Hall again. Sounds like a plan!

On the other hand, since I got distracted I finally posted pictures on my pictures page. Yay.

Current Music: 'Cradle' - The Rising

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Friday, February 6, 2004 ~ 09:55 a.m.

Yesterday, for the first time, I actually got to sign my name as an engineer. It's not that big of a thing, but I thought it was neat. I'm by no means anything resembling an engineer yet - I'm still in the larval stage - but I've got a lot of help from the people here. If I have stupid questions I can ask them. It helps that I'm not too worried about admitting I know nothing because they knew that when they hired me. It takes time for someone who's spent four years in environmental to switch gears to geotech, and there are HUGE gaps in my basic knowledge. I'm learning, though.

It's hard to believe that it's Friday already. I have so much to do and the days just keep flying by. Only 41 days to competition!

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Oooh! Look! Over there!
Thursday, February 5, 2004 ~ 08:45 a.m.

"Some lawmakers, including O'Flaherty, hope to craft a bill providing a rational basis for the exclusion of gay couples from marriage while conveying some new benefits to same-sex couples."

Could someone, ANYONE, please explain to me how it is possible to deny a same-sex couple the right to marry in a country where the separation of Church and State is theoretically paramount????

Okay, granted the original Church and State separation was intended to protect Christians from other Christians, but I'd like to think that it's evolved to include everyone. After all, we certainly have gone out of our way to pat ourselves on the back for being so much more tolerant than the rest of the world.

But really. In the eyes of a purely secular government, a same-sex marriage is absolutely no different than a heterosexual marriage. The difference exists in the eyes of the Church alone. You have to admit that. If you can't, I'd love the chance to argue it because if there IS a logical, secular reason to deny legal marriage to same-sex couples, then I'm dying to know what it is.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of gay marriage, did you know that, as of today, 2999 Americans have been wounded in the Iraq war? And that 528 American soldiers have died, 367 of those in combat?

Which do YOU think is more important to the state of our Union?

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A Look Back
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 ~ 11:47 a.m.

August 26, 2002

Dick Cheney: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

September 2002

Bush: "Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace...for 11 years he has stockpiled weapons."

January 9, 2003

Ari Fleischer: "We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

March 16, 2003

Bush: "Saddam Hussein has a history of mass murder. He possesses the weapons of mass murder...And the regime has not disarmed itself."

March 18, 2003:

Bush: "Intelligence...leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

March 30, 2003

Donald Rumsfeld: "We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."

May 3, 2003

Bush: "We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

May 27, 2003

Donald Rumsfeld: "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."


Rumsfeld again: "Such objects, once buried, can stay buried."

AND, only now that they've had time to cover their asses do they acknowledge that they can't keep up the charade. So what to do? Blame someone else, of course! And then try to distract us.

To simplify:

We don't like these guys. They probably have WMD. -->
It's true! They have them! Let's kick the shit out of them! -->
They do too have them. Somewhere around here... -->
Uhm...somewhere. Ooh, look! Gay marriage! -->
Okay, Plan B. Let's kick the shit out of the CIA for spreading all those nasty, evil lies. -->
Look! Over there! I bet the fags love Osama. Them and their GAY MARRIAGE.

They never give up do they?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2004 ~ 11:32 a.m.

Here's a wonderful article for the politically naive. In case you too were wondering why moderately intelligent people could possibly vote for Bush. Damn sheep.

So it has been proven once and for all that I am the bane of all drill rigs in existence. I wasn't on the job more than thirty minutes when the motor suffered a catastrophic case of I'm-not-working-now. Totally died. They couldn't even let it down off the jacks. I felt bad for them but I thought it was funny as hell, considering my record. And I really didn't mind because the wind chill was hovering at a steady 24 degrees.

What is it with this Thursday? Everyone seems to want to have some sort of a school-related meeting that night. There's only one of me!

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Monday, February 2, 2004 ~ 03:29 p.m.

The problem with not knowing anything is that when the people teaching you leave the office, you're stuck with a lot of free time. There's only so much I can puzzle out for myself without additional reading, but I can't find any of the manuals I need. This is why I've been checking email obsessively for the last hour.

I spent part of my morning wandering around in ankle-deep mud but the drillers didn't even show. So tomorrow I'll be swimming instead, assuming we can even get the rig onsite. Since the site was already practically a swamp, I'm betting that if they try it, the rig will sink into the field and vanish.

Now that the boat is built, I've caught myself relaxing over ASCE stuff. That's a bad idea, since the report is due in 12 days. Let the freaking out resume. :-)

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We are victorious!
Sunday, February 1, 2004 ~ 04:42 p.m.

Twenty-eight hours of insanity. That's what Saturday was for me and five other people. Jackie, Todd, Mo, Robert, Dennis and I left Johnson Research Center at 9 AM this morning after completing the 2004 concrete canoe. We had help along the way from about fifteen other people, but only we happy few managed to stick it out. The inlay design looks really good, which is a relief. Since it was my design, I'd have been the one to take the blame if it looked like ass.

Just for the record, those are in contention for the longest twenty-eight hours of my life. This entire week has been difficult and yesterday was the crowning event. I can't decide if certain people are really as malicious and hateful as they appear, or if they're just blissfully unaware of the effects of their actions, but it doesn't make an already stressful week any better. And if twenty-eight hours doesn't seem like that long of a time, I assure you, it is.

5:30 AM - Woke up and got ready to go.

7:00 AM - Debated with the people at Krispey Kreme, who insisted that 18 doughnuts isn't the same thing as a dozen and a half.

10:00 AM - Started to mix concrete, two hours late.

10:30 AM - Had to go flush a mixture of lime, soap, sand, glass, and other assorted goodies out of my eye. My contact just shriveled up and died, but at least it protected my eye long enough for me to get to the sink. It still stings, though.

11:00 AM to 9:00 PM - I don't remember what all went on, although I remember that Mo's new dog stinks. A lot.

10:30 PM - Had a nice nervous breakdown in the peace and quiet of my own apartment. Thought about simply burning down JRC.

12:00 AM - Back at JRC. We were all singing along to country music. I think Robert broke the mullet wig back out.

3:30 AM - Caught about 20 minutes of sleep curled up between Mo and Jackie on the ASCE sofa. But then we had to go lay another layer on the boat.

6:00 AM - Watched the sun come up while trying to remember my name.

8:00 AM - Started on the very last inlay. It looks pretty damn good, even though all five of us were completely delirious by that time.

Now I'm awake again after a five-hour nap, but I'm still not all with the program. I'd planned to go out this afternoon, but that's not gonna happen since I'm not sure I'm safe to drive yet. At least I've regained some control of the English language. Motor skills haven't returned, though.

But at least it's DONE!!!! :-)

Current Music: 'Hush' - Angie Aparo

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2003 slyflame. Header image Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.