Thursday, October 2, 2008



Oh, this is not a funny story, nor is it particularly light and airy. Nor is it short. So, read when you're ready. This is one of those emotional, personal, life kind of stories. The story, I believe, has a solid flow and is not told poorly. It might even be well written.To be honest, I quite like it. But… you are a committed reader, or a benevolent reader at the least, so I feel it honest to warn you. Don't worry though, I've got a stock of good funnies coming up in the journal rotation, including a cop story and a spilled popcorn story. So, get some coffee and dive right in… or come back later, when it's raining, and the power's out... or wait for the funny ones.

     My next story is of a student. I fine young lad, who will be successful. His name is Matilda, at least it is here, in this story. I couldn't actually use this real name, and using a masculine name would be too close to the truth, so close I dare not even venture a mock boy's name. Because of this Matilda is a code name. It's top secret. Please tell no one. Not even yourself. You are suspect. Also… Please understand, I am terrible with verbatim memorization. And this story recreates dialogue, a story format that uh, necessitates verbatimism. I'm sorry. All you'll get here is good-enoughism and that'saboutrightism. To me, Shakespeare could just as easily have written the following: "Hey Juliet! Where'd you go?" "I'm over here by the jealous moon." "Oh you sexy vixen… can I come up? I've got a pizza." I assure you the emotion and intentions are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and the words have been changed, because, just because.

::Of Matilda::
Matilda is a man, a young man, a little misdirected in earnest efforts. I know this because this describes my youth exactly. I am happy to be teaching because it produces many opportunities. One opportunity is to be bigger or more than I was the day before. In what my be at first random, I've been wondering lately about a certain phrase that pops into my head: Integrity without Compassion is Fascism. It is a bold statement, very black and white, no wiggle room, and perhaps without compassion. Nonetheless it is a concept that's been invading my mind for weeks. It is this reminder that keeps me from yelling at privileged, under-age Neanderthals in my classes when they act like extreme blockheads. I'll bet you money that you've experienced someone so stuck to rules and process that even minor deviations are met with great and swift repercussions. I connect this idea with a short conversation I had with Matilda last week, and in this connection I am only vaguely aware of the connections whose existence I pondered upon only sentences ago.

Matilda is a student like many others. He shows up late. He is talented and kind. His work suffers because of forgetfulness or priorities placed elsewhere. This forgetfulness and else-placed prioritization is, of course, accompanied by apologies, sullen looks and slouchy head, as a dog knows he's wrong in chewing but chews regardless. In essence, Matilda is guilty of youthful numbskullery. Bless his heart for yearning and searching for answers to questions he may not even be aware he's asking. Matilda is better than his performance. Many times I wanted to tell him this, to lay the heavy hand of tough Love on his metaphorical backside and lay a spin of bruises that would whip him into shape. This is a dramatic tactic and, I've found, is best saved for last case scenarios. Besides, artists respond easier to lighter touches, as a blade of grass may eventually break a foundation but a swift punch may leave a brick laughing. Matilda is struggling with something and I believe, upon further reflection, he is struggling to find his place in the world. He wants to be bigger than he is. Bless his heart for taking on the struggle of growth. It is a choice and I applaud it. The rest of this paragraph was to be filled with a short history of me, as a student. I depart from this paragraph with this thought. I know Matilda now because I know myself from before. I see in him nothing I haven't seen in myself. Sometimes it is impossible to see someone else if you don't see yourself there first.

::To Avoid Hypocrisy::
After multiple irritations, of tardiness and absent work, I ask to see him after class.
"Am I in trouble Mr. Britton?" Mister Britton… I love it.
"Yeah. I thought so." We walked to my office, perhaps 40 feet down sterile walls, past vending machines on the left, reception on the right, through a keycard door and into my shared grad t/a office. I want him to perform well in my class and because he's under achieving it felt very natural to give him the riot act, make myself an example of what happens when you try a little bit. But, I could never have pulled that off with a straight face. Me? a good student? preaching to someone else about being a poor student? Yeah... I am the black kettle.

"So, what's up man?" says Mr. Britton (that's me).
"Well, you know, I've got a lot of classes, my 253 and 209 classes are killing me. I haven't slept in like days. You know how it is."
"Hmmm. I hear ya..." Processing... thinking... Something's missing...
"But what's up? You've missed a few classes, missed a few assignments, you've expressed a lazy interest in just passing the course... what's up?"
He half-heartedly back-pedals regarding previous remarks. It is important to maintain calmness when someone displays weakness or vulnerability. These are sensitive seconds and minutes. Credibility is made by inches, or destroyed by miles. For a sentence, he explains that it is not as I had heard. Cool. And then, because the mood was right, the planets aligned, or someone on Main street wore purple, I went right to the heart of the problem. Without duress, but instead with care and concern... "You know, your arrogance is getting in your way. I know you. I know how you work. You are very smart. You are, well, smarter than most people around you."
"Well, that's what I like to tell myself anyway." His slightly confident shrug, hides and shows a stronger belief in his intelligence than the passing acceptance of this last shrug's performance.
"Well, you are and you know it. That's the problem." And, truly he is.
Silence. A serious demeanor falls. The cloudy, overcast look of someone lost in thought, searching the floor, thinking through forced sighs. A head nod, as if coming to believe what is happening. He looks up, at me.
"Wow... we just met and you already saw that. Only one other person has and that was last semester. And she's known me for a while longer." I pass over the chance to gloat. That will come later… like in this story.
"Yeah. You are, and the problem here is that your behavior here is keeping you from what you really want. You are getting in the way of yourself. You keep yourself from the goals in Life that you want because of this behavior. You are going to be successful. I've been teaching for enough years to know who will be. You have all the makings. You are more sociable than your peers. You're smarter. But you've got this thing in your way, that's holding you back, and right now it's pretty big."
Again silence, processing, the wheels of the hamster cage turn faster, the sugar burns hotter, the blinky lights inside his brain blink faster. Matilda turns to me again.
"I'm gonna tell you something I've told no one else, something that my friends don't even know." And he did. He told me. He believes his nasty secret is nasty. And it is nasty, because he never let it out. The secret he told me, not at all nasty, not surprising, not alarming, was not worth remembering save that he told me in confidence. The guilt and shame… that's the nasty part. But in our meeting, he let it out. He let his nasty secret breath a little fresh air, and the nastiness died a little bit.
"Well, the first place you might want to look is at forgiving yourself."
"But I can't."
"I know. You're not supposed to know how yet. If you did, we wouldn't be here…Come and visit me again if you still can't figure out how."
His chin has started quivering. It vibrated near furiously as a leaf on a stormy tree. He looked down, arms folded, held close. Then he looked up and stared at the ceiling. He is brave because he is feeling.  "…But you do that, and you can move forward. You'll take time and figure it out."
He looks me in the eye, his eyes doughy, soft, guilty and alive. "So now what?"
"Well, you have a habit that's getting in your way. We've gotta work on that." Though I can't remember, and I think it's important, if I said "we've" or "you've."
"Okay. I promise I'll do better."
"No. Don't promise me that. Don't make me any promises you can't keep right now. You have an old habit of arrogance. It won't go away so quickly."
"Well what do I do?"
"First, you take a look at it. You watch it. You watch where it impacts you. You watch where it shows up. Record and observe how it controls your decisions. First you do that."

::Pyrrhic Memories::
From the well of memories of bittersweet accomplishments, Pyrrhic victories, and losses, I made a guarantee to my friend.
"As per your arrogance, I guarantee that humility will be your best friend. Your arrogance tells you that you are the best and because you think you are the best, you don't try, don't excel. Humility will always remind you that someone else may be better, that there is always room to grow. When someone is better than you: admire their work and ask how they did it. Be humble and you will be great."
"Do you really think so?"
"I make you this promise because it is how I grow, because I had to find it myself."

Men are not typically the type to burst into tears in front of another of the same gender. We don't need to be. It can be said that we're out of touch emotionally, that we're stoic. But I think we have a limbic understanding of each other. This meeting was no different. Matilda pulled himself together. Thanked me for my time, asked a few questions about class, renewed himself with vigor and lightness, shook my hand – twice – and then walked out into the world of his business.

It is a story of personal penitence because my childhood is filled with comedic, and tragic, memories of selling myself short, especially in the area of academia.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Red Ink

Yes it is time. The time hath cometh. It arriveth from on the educathional higheth. Yesterday, I graded quizzes... with a red ink pen.
The professor, that I teach for, and I have weekly meetings to discuss the happenings of class. Our conversations are not journal note-worthy. As our meeting, wherein he nonchalantly handed over a non-negligible piece of computing equipment, wound down to a close and I walked out of his office. Just on the threshold of ear-shot,  he shouted out into the hall, "Hey!" Oh man... I was thinking he wanted his cool toy back. But no... it was worse than that. He handed a small forest worth of papers, heavy and rigidly floppy as all large bundles of paper seem to be. "Here, I want you to grade these. I gave them quizzes today." Egads!!"
    I graded 69 of them, multiple choice, 10 questions, a total of 4 lab sections were graded... with a red ink pen.  I believe it is important to use a red ink pen when grading quizzes. It shows up immediately. It instills a little fear. If red is the color of violence, then it should subliminally say: "If you miss this question again, then some form of abstract violence will befall you, or near you. So next time you miss this question, don't think a horde of undead and drunken pirates won't scallywag their way into your hidden loot at home, or lop off an extra leg in the night and leave you with a peg-leg - a dirty, dirty peg-leg (note: it would help me a great deal if you would tell your children this so that when I am eventually their teacher then the whole fear of red ink markings on quizzes will be substantiated by credible sources - you, their parents)."
     The quiz grades were poor, after creating a distribution diagram in the form of a histogram (which we all know is far better than a stemplot, stupid stemplot) I realized that the median grade was 5/10 and that most of the class scored below a 5. I knew this as I was grading. Seeing low score after low score I knew the overall grades were going to be "a touch bleak" (as I explained it to the professor). I felt like that teacher in A Christmas Story. With every successive grade my rantings grew more furious, my pen strokes more cutting, the pages themselves bleeding a 20¢ Bic red over the once living testament to nature's ingenuity, now cut, mashed, pulped, stamped and pressed into a flexible paper slate upon which the wrath of the mighty red ink pen burns out injustice with 'minus one point' and 'please read both pages of a quiz.' It was a slaughter... Laying upon the battlefield of Quiz 1, were the broken corpses of quiz papers whose sole commanding officers must have been out drinking the night before, or laughing, or clearly enjoying their Life on this planet instead of studying. Fear not frail reader, should the burden of such educational shame imbue you with darkened forebodings about the future of education in America, and indeed all the world, do know that there were a few stalwart students who clearly skewed the bell curve. One student scored a perfect grade. So please, dry your eyes, our future rests in his continued studying of raster graphics.

Overall Score
Red Ink Pen - 1.
Students - 0.

Oh, and I would be remiss to not give the statistics of the grades. But it's late and I am remiss.
Sleep well.


Monday, September 15, 2008

First Day of School (Almost)

Infallible, Statistical Logic...
A common symptom of stress is hair loss. Approximately 42% of all people who undergo dramatic Life changes experience some form of increased hair loss. It leads me to wonder if some balding people just have more stress. Okay, I didn't actually wonder that, I just wanted to fill some space... y'know, to make this journal entry that much more impressive; in case an index of impressiveness exists that can be quantified and calculated by the length of one's rhetoric, necessary or not. Should this measurement for literary impressiveness exist, then surely Melville, and Dickens are Extraordinarily impressive. Haikus... sadly... not so impressive. The Warren Report, IRS Tax Code and the OED... impressive. Perhaps in looking for more examples, humorous to be sure, of impressive literature I have lost more hair at a rapid rate.
What is interesting to note is that I've undergone a few of these great Life events: quitting a job, moving across the country, starting two new jobs (research assistant and teaching assistant), finding new Love, starting school, testing milk for possible spoilage and missing the laundry mat operating hours by 3 minutes (my clothes are STANK!). So... if we multiply 42 by each entry in this list we get... (seven times forty is two hundred and eighty plus fourteen equals two hundred and ninety four) 294. I've lost 294% percent of my hair in the past 3 months. I wonder what my stat professor would say to that?

So many updates!! So much has happened in three weeks of class! To address some of the more memorable issues, here's a fast paced list complete with whatever it is I can remember at midnight on a school night:

Right... well I'm sure more than that has happened. I guess the sleepy bugs have worked their ways into my eyes and are settling down for the night, whispering soft ZZZzzzz's into my ears as they nod off, reminding me that I too should nod off.

I could leave you with one story before I am too tired too think it would be a small description of my students. God bless them. Their collective summation of: inane babbling, whiny accusations, intent study, self-love (more aligned with Narcissus and less with a graphic, if common, practice), near heraldic attempts at underachieving, repetitive questions, obvious talent, obvious lack of talent, misplaced intelligence and befuddled strides toward growing up, all remind me that I am in the right place, that teaching is where I belong. And for the natures of their complete personages hidden beneath the bars of undisclosed self-discovery, I am truly thankful.

I have a Student...
He's a good looking fellow. And... He knows it. His in class projects somehow manifest themselves around his bare-chested visages thrashing on the ax, or wailing on the drums. He, as far as I can see, truly loves how he looks. In one photoshop project, he has created a rock band where he is playing every instrument and only one of him has a shirt on. To be fair... one of their assignments was to put multiples of themselves into an image and make it look natural. I guess what is not natural here is the obvious flexing for the camera and relish at his demeanor. I don't fault the guy. He seems genuinely inspired by what he has, not happy necessarily because that implies a level of gratitude or humility. This young lad is definitely more inspired. It is uncommon these days for someone to have such self-esteem in their looks. The images though... they are funny.

The Monies...
Oh... status report. Monetarily speaking... graduate school is NOT the place to collect large sums of cash and live Life as ghetto fab or ludicrously luxurious. Through the continuously favored efforts of large bureaucratic machinations, I am now not receiving the initially agreed upon loan amount that I was expecting. In short, two of my student loans were dropped.
Contemplate, if you will, a place where sight and sound have no meaning, where $20,000 in student loans disappear. You are in... The Department of Financial Services Zone!!!!

More on that... when time permits.

- Andrew Britton
Rolling with the Punches, and Punching some of the Rolls.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Genius of My Progeny

I'm sorry I've been out of touch. In the past few weeks I've been to Door County, Wisconsin and Seattle, Washington. Both of these trips are worthy of at least 50 pages of good pulp turned book, or novella, memoirs on goofiness. So I just looked up the word 'memoires' and one definition is provides is: 'essay on a scholarly subject.' Scholarly subjects? Let me think, so far we've covered the political conglomeration of states, driving too fast with a 2-ton vehicle in tow and other such highly useful information. Scholarly? I now apologize for letting you down.

The following is from my trip to Door County, WI... the land of cherries and Land O' Lakes (TM). There are more stories to come from this vacation, but this one may be the best. And... in order to maintain the freshness of a story it needs to be sent sooner rather than later. And this is a *Fresh* story.


Children are amazing creatures. I admire and appreciate their presence and struggles. For all children I have a deep heart. In their sorrows my heart cries, in their joys my heart blazes. Children are adults without the years of too many people saying 'No!' or 'That's Impossible!' I particularly find great joy in watching the children who grapple with some problem and who are trying to figure it out… you can see their minds evolving, the lobes separating further into a greater variety of wrinkles and connections. Watching children become great, this is one of the graces of being alive, at least it is for me. I know other people really like spaghetti-Os. While in Door Country, WI, I had the opportunity to witness a child grappling with the deep struggles of the world and learn more about the gap between internal expectations and reality.

When passing through an activity room at the local lodge, replete with arcade machines, swimming pool, tables, front desk, walls, and video library, I espied a young fellow, seemingly industrious by way of apparent vehemence. This young lad was buried deep in the impulsive, rambunctious ramblings of a boy with more energy than this body can safely hold. What you are about to read happened in the span of mere seconds, and I will remember it for years to come. Read the next paragraph to get the scoop. It's crazy… for realz.

So this little lad, of no more than six years, found a ball, a big, blue, beautiful, bouncy, ball… twice his size! Oh the allure of a bigger than Life, bouncy ball. If you've never been a young boy, unfettered in juvenile, masculine impulses, you may not understand the following actions. So... let me just say, for all women, or men born from the womb at sixty years of age, or later, when a boy sees a bouncy, blue ball, twice his size, his limbic system awakens. Nocturnal and ancient memories of dinosaurs, tar pits, fire and winged space battles (yes, these memories and more are installed in the operating firmware of all boys – some women have concluded this firmware hasn't been updated in nigh on 414.3 million years… this is of course crap) flood our minds and call us into action. Like Quixote we call to arms against any thing which… which… well at any thing at all really. It is this singular struggle for survival, for domination and for spiritual growth that compels men today and has for centuries. So, like previous conquistadors, Huns and armies of the Republic of Key West, this young lad, shod in the latest fashions of beeping lights and talking carpet animals, did endeavor to climb and dominate that big, blue, beautiful, bouncy ball. Once, he jumped, full-body, as a spider monkey from the jungle canopy, onto the blue ball that so taunted him; and once he bounced off onto his bum. Twice! Twice he jumped, full-body, limbs articulated like the wee-tiniest banshee onto the ball; and twice he bounced off, onto his bum. Carry on young Quixote! That ball is not better than you! Persist and victory will surely be yours as delivered aloft on the bosom of the Angels of Valhalla bearing single serving boxes of Juicy-Juice and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, cut into triangles without the crust! Thrice! Thrice our young champion mounted an impressive full-body slam on the big, blue, beautiful, bouncy ball. Thrice! Thrice was the ameliorating succor of victory denied young Quixote in talking dinosaur shoes. Each mounted attack of splayed full-body drew only further confusion as the ball decidedly refused to submit and did indeed buck the boy as easily as one might repel a flying spider-monkey with a series of rubber bands, a 2 foot crowbar, three jars of jam, one trampoline and a credit card (the credit card is for purchasing the ACME line of Spider Monkey Repellents ™ while the other items are meant as a diversionary tactic to confuse the impending spider monkey). Fed up with these shenanigans, the boy turned his attention from riding the ball to punishing the ball for insolence. If riding the ball like a pony was plan A, now came time to enact plan B, a more vicious and unbridled plan, which involved nothing less than young Quixote flailing his arms wildly at the ball, only to have them ricochet off the ball and into his face.

After much reflection I realized there was clearly a gap between reality and the young boy's expectation. He expected to ride the ball like a cowboy on a pony through storm soaked prairies during a heavy hail storm on the back of a tornado and the reality was the Pilates ball was elastic, bouncy and able to withstand pressures greater than a 6 year old, gravitationally gifted boy can create. Real genius can often be seen as the bending of reality to expectation. So to you young lad I say this… Keep it up! Practice your obdurate obstinance and you to will begin bending reality to your view of it. Today you walk off the battlefield, bruised by your own ricocheted fist, crying like a girl. Tomorrow, with persistence, you'll divine new and more efficient body slams designed to subjugate the laughing, nay… the mocking big, blue, beautiful, bouncy ball. In that moment, you will be a true genius and we will learn from sonnets written of your greatness many generations later.

In that child, and in that moment, I saw the ghost of Britton past, both of deep past and recent past (for those who remember the screwdriver, my savior). I also saw the ghost of Britton future when this boisterous, almost indignant, stubborn personage will be born as my son. And he shall be named Scrappy. And it will be good...
... mostly.

Thank You,
And as always, should the need arise let me know that these messages are blowing up your inbox, have robbed you of your depravity and soaked up all remnants of your insanity and I'll make great haste to endeavor to begin the ceasing of the sending of these messages.

- Andrew Dulan Britton

Friday, July 11, 2008

BMV & Social Security: Part 2

Here's the razzmatazz, smash-em-up follow up to the riveting story involving flying apes and curtailed plans of world vengeance...

Take Two… Each Bureaucracy, even if in service of the same organization, is too complex to be exactly the same as other branches…
            "We're heading to the other BMV office now." We sped away diligently to the other local BMV branch. I know what had failed at one would pass at the other. It had to. Organizations are too disorganized to have it be otherwise. I just hoped they would accept my notarized proof of residency. They did. This BMV was a little different than the last; I had to wait 5 minutes before seeing someone.
            The first woman, the triage nurse of state licensure and paperwork, looked over my forms, looked directly at my social security card and proof of residency, looked at the other forms. My heart was POUNDING. I know it's not literarily acceptable to use all caps when retelling the story but how else can I convey the panic slowly peeling away my inner calm leaving raw nerves of anxious bedlam leaking into the hollow shell of my face? The Triage Nurse of Paperwork looked over everything and put it in a file. She handed me some papers and told me I had take a driver's test. ("A What? Oh crap...") Not the driving portion of course, but I did have to take the paper test. Whew! That means it's not an immediate no.

I'm sorry ma'am, but I think you misspelled my middle name…
            I took the test and was duly sweating bullets. I was in HS the last time I studied for this test. I tested me on things like stopping distances and street sign shapes without colors or words. Uhhh… Guess! Guess! Well, it worked. I passed, incorrectly guessing half of the amount I was allowed to miss. I was ushered off to the next Agent of Bureaucracy. This woman would scour my papers and look for any errors. We sat down. She took time. This is not good. Time passed. I suffered. She asked for all my necessary paperwork, reading through each piece carefully. She created a printed page with my information on it and asked me to check it. Across the desk she slid an innocuous page with black letters. The black letters formed words of data type and detailed response: my name, age, birth, etc. Specifically of interest to me was the data entered as my name:
            Andrew Dulan Britton.
            Oh hell no. Not only did she get my name from the social security card but she spelled that incorrectly too! What do I do? Do I let this slide and correct it at a later date? Do I say something now and possibly forsake all chances at getting my vehicle registration and driver's license? I decided to go for it now.
            "Excuse me ma'am, but I think you misspelled my middle name." Please don't look at the soc. card. Please Don't Look At The Soc. Card! She glossed over it preferring to check the spelling against my birth certificate instead. Crisis averted.
            Two other people looked over my paperwork to double and triple check. I watched in fright. Shear fright. So thinly veiled that I'm sure had the nurses of bureaucracy been less fastidious about paperwork they would have noticed something a little troubling with my expressions. It would appear as a face too vapid, too empty, too wide eyed.

The house doesn't always win…
            Upon leaving, I told my girlfriend a few more interesting details of the paperwork transaction. First… the woman who read my odometer read it incorrectly. My odometer at the time read 137,500 miles. She recorded it as 129,000. I said nothing. Second, when reviewing my proof of insurance, I noticed another possibly deal-breaking error. The printed policy I had was dated from 2006 to 2007. One year too late. She simply recorded the policy number and insurer's name and said nothing of the policy dates. I saw the date discrepancy as I was handing the page over to the BMV agent. I may have pooped a little in fear.
            Oddly enough… the name of one of the women waiting in line at the BMV was: Amber Stout.

Maybe the house does win…
            The woman taking my picture didn't bother to move the camera up or down. It was at the height of my belly when she took the picture. I even asked if perhaps it was too low. She assured me it wasn't. Now, my teeth look GIGANTIC because the camera is looking up at me from the point of view of a baby crying at the sight of a behemoth or a yeti!

            At the time of this writing… my transmission has started slipping gears.
Andrew Dunlan Dulan Britton

Monday, July 7, 2008

BMV & Social Security: Part 1

For your convenience... I have split this entry into two e-mails. The story of BMV and Social security is lengthy. Also, you may opt out of these e-mails at any time. Just let me know.

I needed to find a state that would pay me to go to school and allow my broken old vehicle to be easily labeled as street legal. Thank You Indiana. My mission, should I choose to accept it:
1) Establish residency in Indiana (without living there a single day)
2) Get an Indiana Driver's License
3) Register my vehicle to make it street legal

BMV & Social Security…
            I love the smell of Social Security in the Morning. It makes me feel safe, like the fresh breeze of a New Deal is coming to make my Life easier now. Thanks Social Security.
            Or… is it?!?!?!?!?!?
             So I roll into my local neighborhood BMV in Lafayette, IN (Bureau of Motor Vehicles, for those NOT in Indiana) with a quest, a purpose, a point to my visit (a purpose greater than the free public bathrooms which I guess are in all BMVs in Lafeyette and I'm assuming in Indiana. So… just in case you're in Indiana really jonesin' for a restroom…). The point, purpose and veritable plan for my visit was as follows:
  • Get Indiana Driver's License
  • Get Street Illegal Jeep, Legally registered in Indiana
 US States like paperwork and furthermore require some 'proof' that you reside in that state before handing out government issued identification. Damned Socialists!!! (I know that's not actually a mean thing to say… but you gotta work with me. I grew up in Texas and just moved out of Massachusetts. I'm a little politically confused.)

Establishing Residency…
I did a little research and found out that one can legally assert residency in Indiana through a notarized affidavit. This affidavit is found on the Indiana State Government Website. The bottom of the affidavit warns fiscal tricksters that should this form be used to incorrectly assert residency and claim as such on University Tuition Assessment Forms then all money owed due to incorrect residency status must be paid to the school. Of course… but why would anyone else seek to claim residency in Indiana if not for lowered tuition? Vehicle Registration.
Of all tasks on my trip… the easiest thing to do was establish valid residency in Indiana. With a copy of a signed lease it took less than 5 minutes
 My Jeep Cherokee ('96, straight 6, 4.0 liter, 4WD, all badass) fell from the good graces of Massachusetts (the Commonwealth that punishes you for owning a vehicle). At some point in the life of all Jeep Cherokees a few things happen: The front brakes die 85,000 times in 10 years and your exhaust manifold gets a hole in it. Massachusetts vehicle inspection doesn't like this. Indiana Vehicle Inspection exists? It does, but only around the smokey, chemical pits of Gary, Indiana. In fact… the Indiana BMV motto clearly reads: "Register with us your tired, your poor, and your broken exhausts yearning to breathe free." Because this exhaust manifold problem on the Jeep was so costly… I let it slide a little bit.
It is still sliding this very moment.

 Social Security Saves the Day…
It's against the law to alter, modify or destroy your social security card. You can't even laminate them. So you try to keep these cards safe from harm while remembering where you've put them so long ago. In the many times I've told this story to others they often reply that they can't even remember where their Social Security cards are. Do you know where yours is? I needed the card because the state asks for it in order to register vehicle and get license.After some quick research on I found exactly what I need to get a driver's license and vehicle registration.
-         Social Security Card (or similar letter from Social Security)
-         State Issued Identification (Passport or Driver's License)
-         Birth Certificate
-         Proof of Residency (see above)
-         Title of Vehicle (vehicle registration only)
-         Proof of Insurance (vehicle registration only)
I find a BMV office conveniently located next to City Hall and stroll in. I make my first attempt and am immediately shooed away for having no Social Security card. Fine. But let me tell you about these BMV offices in Lafayette and West Lafayette. Walking into the BMV here is a civilian's dream. I walked in and before I reached the end of my walk to the front desk, a public servant at one of the desks waved me over to her area and asked how she may help me… Did you get that?!? I was in the BMV office for about 60 seconds when someone waved me down and asked if they could help me. OMG… if only the story ended there. I did encounter a rough patch on my first visit to the BMV. I suspected the signed affidavit of residency might prove to be a little tricky. The first woman to see me looked through my paperwork and said that they can't take this as proof. I told her I printed it from the state's website. She said they can take no papers with handwriting on them. I showed her the notary's signature and the raised seal… from right across the street. She balked. I persisted. She balked more. I persisted more. She then went to ask her supervisors just to make sure she couldn't take it. They all, three of them at once, said "of course we can. It's been notarized." "But it has handwriting. We can't take handwritten documents." C'mon lady… are you trying to impede my legal claim of residency and thereby impeding a legal resident of your state from obtaining required legal documents? "Of course we can take it. It's been notarized." Victory was mine! Take That lowly minion!!! I'll return with my social security card and get all that I want!!!
            Of course… this is a story about bureaucracies and the house always wins. I strolled in for my second visit… WITH my social security card. And as happened the next woman to see me (also in record time upon my arrival. I see now a trick of false hope this speedy assistance creates) balked immediately at my rightful claim to residency in the state of Indiana. We informed her it was legal and that just the day before it had been approved. "By who?" "By those three!" Ms. Farrell was standing, near falling over the counter, pointing at the very trifecta that approved the same form yesterday. Good. Approval arrives and the paperwork making may continue.
            "What's your middle name sir?"
            "Duncan." Odd… it's right there on my social security card.
            "That's not what it says on your social security card."
             BAM!!! There in plain view is my social security card. "Andrew Dunlan Britton." ?!?!?! I looked closely and said, inwardly panicked and outwardly cool. "It must have scratched off."
            "It doesn't look like it."
            "Then it must be a typo."
            "Well sir, either way I can't accept it."
BAM!!!!! Another boulder of bureaucratic fists hits me in the spiritual solar plexus of Fate and Time. I am Andrew's baffled sensibilities and crumbling hopes. Of course, the next logical argument to further my cause is born from my mouth canal…
            "I'm sorry. Are you serious?" Yes! Logic prevails. Debate at its highest form. Question the seriousness of the opposition and doors open like seas to Moses.
            "Yes. I'm serious." Damn. Her Kung-Fu is strong. I take my papers and walk out leaving a wake of quiet fury and a singular expletive: "Yay! I'm so happy!"
I couldn't believe it. 15 – 20 years of owning my Social Security card and this is the First time I've ever seen: Andrew Dunlan Britton. It used to read Andrew Duncan Britton. I guess the sharp corners of the 'C' faded out over time and became an 'L.' It was recommended to me that I visit the local Social Security office where I can file the appropriate paperwork and return with proof.
            "But you'll have to do it tomorrow, the Social Security office may be closed already."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Arrival at Purdue with a Level 4 Haircut

Good Morning Everyone...
I'm writing from the Memorial Union on the Purdue Campus. Purdue is a fine institution, thought by some not in the midwest to be a private university; I've been told this has partly to due with our very strong alumni association / support and perhaps a few other factors as well. My most current dilemma is how on Earth am I going to type a well formatted e-mail without the use of basic keyboard functions, like: the enter key, right mouse button clicking, mouse-wheel scrolling, or copying and pasting. In this message you'll find I have very few carriage returns. The brings to mind the ever emerging style of Purdue University's information technology services. A word to describe the policies of security here at the university could be: dedicated. Of course, you might choose a different word like: zealous. I'm going with: 'Can't you even give me a carriage return?' It makes me wonder if the Purdue Constabulatory IT Dept would treat Chuck Norris this way. Clearly the fear of a roundhouse kick from tomorrow, crushing them today, and sending them into yesterday would make them think twice. (Dear Chuck Norris... Please avail us of your cure for IT Depts lost in zealoutry... The Jumping Roundhouse Kick of Fate) With regards to missing keyboard functionality and its effect on readable message formatting... It's in moments like this I need my friend Liz. She is a great editor. The best. She can out edit Mike Tyson in a cage match with ground glass boxing gloves in under three 3 minutes. K. O. Now... the meat of the message.

Purdue or Carnegie-Mellon...
The decision to attend Purdue University over Carnegie-Mellon was truly a tough one to make. During my visit to the campus I had the great fortune of meeting some of the professors with whom I will be working. The more I spoke with each professor, the more I realized that Purdue was like a home just waiting for me, filled with warm people and opportunity. My visit here has helped me realize I made a very good decision coming to school here. I met with professors, students and department staff. I have a school ID. I know which class I'll be assisting as a teaching assistant; CGT 211, Photoshop. I'll be teaching students how to use Photoshop. It's like I created a Photoshop tutorial DVD or something that 9.5 hours long and is available for purchase on Advanced Photoshop Texturing. Though why they didn't place me in a Maya animation class, I don't know. Hmmm.... I've registered for classes, shook hands with people, kissed babies and generally campaigned for re-election on various hallow platforms which will be forgotten as soon as I'm elected the crowned ruler and awesomest graduate student. Please send in your absentee ballots. Extras can be sent upon request.

The Greatest Haircut on the Planet...
Living in Chicago has helped me understand Life in the urban fast lane. I've been putting my literal ear to the metaphorical railroad track of fast-paced urban living and taking notes on the sometimes minute and sometimes shocking tremors coming down the truly complicated metaphor of: fast-paced life as a railroad track upon which I lay my ear to listen and take notes. Of course... to truly understand the Life of the Fast-Paced Metaphor of Railroad tracks as Urban Living, I had to jump right into the deep end and experience Life as an urbanite (yuppy). I went for a hair cut!!! (I also went to see Sex in the City... but that's a relatively straight-forward story. I bought a ticket to a movie. I saw the same movie for which I purchased the ticket. I walked out when it ended. It was a pretty good movie but long and arduous in the middle. I think it was something referred to as a 'chick-flick.'). Read now this Shocking expose on haircuts in Chicago....
[Enter a mild, mannered young man of about 30. He wears glasses which leaves people to wonder if he's a super-hero when not hidden behind those groovetastic spectacles. The Setting: Fringe (the place of haircuttery). The mood: Metrosexual]
So I amble in, give my name, and get ready. I have a sit. They bring water. It's all good... for now. They call my name. I'm all like 'Cool man. I'll gets my hair cut now.' The barber, I mean hair stylist, introduces himself and offers a name I couldn't pronounce then nor can I remember now. Trust me though, it's trendy. It must've cost him a few crisp benjamins to procure that name, He's a jovial fellow, gravelly voice, older, sardonically hip, but only mildly. Before sitting me down he introduces the next gentleman, whose job it is to wash my hair. "I'm sorry... what? So your the guy that washes my hair?" Yes... it is. By the end of this story, not one but Two men will have touched my hair. I'm reporting this to Cost-Cutters. Let them feast on That tidbit. The hairwasher-gentleman is very friendly and very affected with a stereotyped personage of gay men, especially as portrayed in Sex in the City. He asked about my tattoos and inquired further if they had romantic implications ("Sir... you've been implicated in a romance. Don't try to deny it. Your tattoos gave it away. Just come out quietly with your hands up." "DAMN YOU TATTOOS!!! Say Hello to my little friend!"). I assured him that my tattoos had many meanings. This mollified and spiritually surprised him. Then the hairwashing ends and I am brought over to Mr Haircutter himself... aloofishly, mildly-sardonically hip man. He gets to business. He cuts my hair. We chat. I'm tired from moving. I'm drifting in and out of sleep. Then I make the biggest mistake ever. I tell of the time I went to a beauty school to have my hair cut... ONCE; and in this time described how my ear was nicked by the hair cutter person. Throughout the rest of our conversation and the rest of my haircut, he tells stories about how he accidentally did that... about how he accidentally cut someone's throat open who dumped on beauty school students and how he accidentally dumped that body in the foreign country of his aloofishly, mildly-sardonic hipsterism birth. I got the hint. I tried to change the subject. We got through it together; the haircut ended. At the end of business people like to transact money from person to person. This was no different. We walked to the front counter. He mumbled and whispered in the woman's ear (this woman will soon take my money... that's why they were talking). He whispered "61" to her. I though he must've been talking about another client. He walks away. She then asks how my cut went and says it looks nice. I say thanks. She says that'll be $61. I say okay. Here's my card. At this point Ms. Farrell says "How much was that?" To which I then replay in my mind what the woman behind the counter had just said. Shock finally awakens at the transaction. "I'm sorry... did you say $61?" "Yes." "For a hair cut?" "Yes." "For me?" "Yes." "I'm sorry ma'am. You'll have to excuse me. I wasn't expecting to pay that much money for a haircut." "You weren't?" Was she serious? "No ma'am. I wasn't." Well... she looks worried by this point and starts looking through paperwork. And here it comes the truth... "Well, he is a level 4 stylist." "A What?" "A Level 4 stylist. You see we have different levels of stylists. One, two, three and four. He's a level 4." Ahhh... it all makes sense now. A Level 4 stylist. Why didn't anyone tell me?

Level 4 Haircut...
I now have a level 4 haircut from a level 4 stylist. And I was left wondering... why didn't he like me. Surely he didn't if he was charging me that much. He must not have wanted me to return. But I didn't let this go without causing a fuss I'll have you know. I showed him something proper. He'll never forget the day he messed with me... let me tell you what. I only tipped him 10%. That'll show him. Yeah.... I'm too nice to people. So please... compliment my haircut. I don't care if you haven't seen it in a month or a year. Lie to me if you have to. After quitting my job and moving... a $67 haircut smarts.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Moving Journal Update... The Graceful Landing

I think it fair at this point to continue journaling until at least one of the following conditions is met:

* Memorable, share-worthy events stop happening
* People stop reading and everyone asks to be taken off the list
* I die

Because none of the above conditions have been met, I will continue to write. Please note though, that if your interest lay only in cross-country driving journals... then read no more. The following fare will bore you beyond lecture and bring tears more than yellow onions, mixed with lemons, being squirt in your eye in a hundred and twenty degree room.... with salt. I know, it sounds pretty bad.... we just wanted to warn you. And by 'we,' I mean I.

The Graceful Landing...
It is important to know at this point in the journey all national travel has stopped and I'm now driving around Lafayette, IN with a 14' U-Haul with a Jeep in tow. So, the economy is Loving me, especially OPEC and BP. For some reason, I chose BP. The only reasons I can give you are:

* I like the green and yellow flower logo
* I used them in FL
* They are well lit
* They are well kept

Oh sure... you may be wondering... "But Andrew? Where are your gasoline purchasing ethics? Why would you choose an international corporate entity peddling Gas to locals? Think Global. Act Local! Are you mad?"
Yes. I am mad. Mad mad mad. I payed those gas bills. I have yet to look fear directly in the face and calculate the total spent on gasoline. Check this box if you think I should total it up:
| |

The Apartment...
So, I found my apartment online via Craig's List. Graig's List. Where the online subsection of humanity still pulses with all the unbridled oddities and peculiarities as we were meant to have. Some sections, you keep away from your children. Some sections, you keep away from your parents. Other sections, you probably don't know about... like the joke section. If you need a good joke, look on Craig's List (This e-mail offers no warranty or guarantee on the quality of any joke found on Craig's List, heretoforeafter known as CL).
My new apartment is of the following address:
(You understand of course I had to remove this privacy reasons)

This apartment is beautiful. I have 12' ceiling. A marble fireplace with a 10'x10' mirror above both in my bedroom. The apartment has 4 doors: The front and back door are both keyed. The side door opens up to one of my porches. The fourth door opens to a 2 foot drop. The back door opens up to my second porch. Some downsides are: the carpet floors in all non-wet areas, no washer / dryer or dishwasher. However, the price for such a fine feast: less than $600/mo.

Would You be My Neighbor?...
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine
Could you be mine

So the landlord and I finish up signing the lease. He used to work 10 years for the FBI, in surveillance. He of course thought it very funny to make the joke about his being a professional stalker. I laughed in politeness. Fear, of course, punched my aorta and ripples of anxious ice shot through my veins. I believe my ability to read a human is good. I decided long ago my skills in this area were strong enough to trust them. I trust Mike. He made a funny. I know this because he laughed. I trust Mike because of his actions. Upon our first meeting he drive me around Lafayette pointing out places of interest: BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles), The Hope Apartments (a halfway house for recovering addicts... right across the street from my place. And "No, we've never had any crime at this location. There's nothing to worry about."), the auto insurance building, the land his friend bought and renovated into a thriving business area. Mike puts great pride in his renovation of this property and mentions the thanks he's received from local home owners and the local constabulary. The apartment is quirky, bizarre, unique, fun, spacious with great possibility. I'm already picking out paint chips. So, after signing the lease and walking out to view my new street...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine
Could you be mine

The lady and I sit together, peaceful, on the fender of the vehicle transport. The street is quiet. The apartment is completed. Tomorrow, the carpets will be cleaned to strip away the cigarette and wet-dog smell. I sigh, content. I'm taking the sights and smells and feeling minute fibers and tendons relaxing into place after many hard days of work culminate in many jobs done and some of them well. I have a friend at my side and we look at each other and nod approvingly. The air around Tippencanoe Street is sprinkled lovingly with the unmistakable and unforgettable smell of a pig farm. Just then I look to my right side and see sitting at the other shoulder is my friend, and yours, Murphy's Law. A black car pulls up to the front of the beautiful 1870's era duplex. Music thumps regularly and distractingly into the air and into the brain. Murphy's Law chuckles as he bows out from the scene. His eye cocked in irritatingly in that manner that says oh so sickly... "I told you so."

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

I watch the black car stop. A young man walks out. His white t-shirt is 14 sizes too large for his tall, wiry frame. His hair, bleached and short as is the tradition of the gentleman whose name is on this young man's shirt. I say to my girlfriend: "Look. It's Eminem!" He walks to the other side of my duplex. As he nears the other front door, a woman inhabiting the first floor apartment shouts out:
"Who the f*ck that?!"
I figure of course with proclamations such as this there must be someone else in the car. Clearly this is a lover's quarrell so I have to see who the other girl is. All I can see through the tinted window is someone else's hand. I clearly haven't established the validity of this claim at all, in any way. I did not ask the passenger what his/her intentions were with the driver and if they were honorable. Nor did I ask Slim Shady if he was dating either of the other two parties involved. He climbed the few steps to the front door and replied back to the screamer, the agitated proclaimer...
"Shut Up!"

I say to myself... "Hello Neighbors!" And I think to myself... Not more than 10 minutes ago I signed this lease... Damn...
Of course... one can easily imagine the great conversations we'll have.
"Hey Shady! My name is Whitey McCracker. Would you like to come over and start a knitting circle? We could watch Friends while we knit. Oh... I noticed you have a particular slant to your walk, you should sit up straight when you drive. It's better for your posture you know. You don't want scoliosis. Well, I know you have to take off now and take care of business but maybe you'd like to get some double-mocha-grande-frappucinos sometime. They're super delicious."
Please won't you be my neighbor?

As I drove away, wondering if I'd made the right choice about my apartment, some new information about my neighborhood came to light. Somewhere just off Greenbush Ave, I saw shirtless men, about 18-22, fighting each other. One threw an elbow into the other's jaw. An old man watched with a beer in one hand and a nasty dog, on a leash, in the other.

Next time... the BMV and Social Security

With Love and Respect,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Moving... The Next "Alive" Message

Greetings my friends and my family.

So... radio silence was enacted yesterday. Please excuse the delayed transmissions but the signals, upon which the 'interwebs' are built, were a little fuzzy in western Pennsatucky. Penns a tuck y- Pennsatucky (n). The verbal joining of two Commonwealths where both political entities are one of the 50 states creating The United States of America. You would think this verbal joining of names would be our nation's next great move to further unify our sometimes disparate states and political beliefs. In the future, we'll be seeing names like this: Texahomansas, Indinoisigan, New Hampvermaine, The Floridalinas, and Caliwashegon. Of course, after enough media conglomeration and restaurant monopolization throughout The United States, we'll see names get longer still: Texahomansasindinoisiganhampvermainewhyareyoureadingthisfloridalinacaliwashegon. However, because of its political pull and acute abilities in the area of taxation, Massachusetts will always be known as Taxachussets. As an aside, not that this WHOLE e-mail hasn't been one non sequiter after another, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania do share something in common... They are both Commonwealths, as if to be derived for the common wealth of the populace. Kentucky and Virginia are also self-made commonwealths, having passed the ECEs, or the Entry to Commonwealth Exams. It is a four hour test, with four sections including: quantitative reasoning, verbal communication, and obfuscate interstate constructions.

The First full day of driving ended on the Western end of Pennsylvania, in Mercer, PA (not Mercia). That day of driving was bizarre: let's recap...

The Radio- Well, the biggest shock of radio, and perhaps one of the largest shocks of the trip came when listening to the radio. Please, save your applause for my redundancy for later. I was informed by a brash, shoot first ask questions later, voice that we should all petition to have our country start offshore and inland drilling now! This move will surely show the world that we can survive on our own and that investing in alternative energies is a prospect too far off to be concerning ourselves with it now. Dick Gephart and another infamously popular name in American politics are sponsoring this bill and they've even slapped a catchy, patriotic title to it. There are so many catchy, patriotic titles to bills nowadays I forgot what it was called. Whatever happened to more original names for bills like: S-4365.b.98-a or Chloe? In all seriousness, the short-sightedness of these views ruffled my feathers. Perhaps it was my puritan ears that led me to my next scandalous action, but it just had to be done.
I changed the channel.

The Driving- When moving from Massachusetts to... anywhere west, please note the following: Your Drive Will be Up Hill. So, you'll be able to watch gasoline bleed from your gas gage like mustard at a cook-out. However, once you've made it over the I-90 Eastern Peak, you then decide it would be best to take I-80 west... you know, for good measure. You then realize that, Aha! You're now driving over the 2nd highest peak along the ENTIRE breadth of I-80. At that point, I decided to accept my fate with the gas gods. At the next fueling station, I poured 30 gallons of gas onto the pavement, burned 2 crisp hundred dollar bills, and cried from the shredded heart of my financial soul. Oh Gas Gods, may this offering appease you. Amen.
While driving, and as a general rule in Life, I recommend knowing your boundaries, testing your limits. It's a healthy endeavor. It keeps you in check and alters your perception of reality. So... when the vehicle transport says 45 mph MAX. It's only playing with you. It is in fact begging you to challenge your perception of reality. The posted placard is daring you to "Be a Man!" and push your boundaries.
I did.
Downward slopes on hills. The Wind at your back. These things will help propel your 14' U-Haul, with vehicle transport in tow, to a blistering speed. 55mph? No. 60mph? No... 85mph. And might I say... oops.
Do not try this at home, nor on any interstate. The vehicle transport started slowly swishing left and right. This I took as a very bad sign. Of course the speed was also a bad sign. I slowed down and agreed to never do that again.
I didn't.

The Talking- My thanks to my girlfriend and my dear friend, back in Boston, for speaking with me on the phone. You kept me awake and entertained.

Of Steinbeck-
In Travels with Charlie, Steinbeck wrote about the homogenization of American culture and commerce. He wrote how widespread it was becoming and noted often a particular melancholy about the passing of localized identity and greatness. He wrote this near the end of his Life, published in 1962. If he felt this in the late 50's and early 60's. How he must be rolling in his grave now.

Where's Waldo?...
I am now in Lafayette, IN. I arrive last night after driving through Ohio and Indiana. Ohio, along I-71 and I-70, proved to be a gentle ride, which was nice. As soon as I hit western PA, I could smell in the trees the same humid, sweet smell of Southern Illinois. I wondered how different the two areas were and if they were connected by similar geography and plantology (the study of plants... clearly). Upon entering Ohio, I found the midwest again. Ohio is a more rolling and hilly version of the Midwest. It lay at the last vestiges of the Appalachian Mountains. For its part, Indiana is also more hilly than Illinois... which is decidedly not hilly (until you hit Sourthern Illinois).
Upon driving into Lafayette... everything finally hit me. "Jesus, I gave everything to move out here." It's quite a move. I don't gamble in cards or in most anything else. I do find though that my Life is always an adventure and this one no less than the others. These thoughts brought me close to tears as is appropriate in any Life shift. Even the best change can bring a little sadness. So let that be my motivation to really kick grad school in the balls and rock this chapter of Life.

I'm sure there is more... though I cannot now think of it and you have already read too much.
With Love and Respect,


ps. New York State and Pennsylvania are Beautiful.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

On the Road - Day One

Good Morning Everyone... Here's a little travel update (Skip to the bottom if you're in a rush)

Day 1 (Kind of...)

So the drive started last night... about 4 hours later than I wanted but... this is what happens when I try and do everything myself and then only ask for help at the last minute. To my helpers in the move... thank you. I got started late. Mr. Glidden stopped by the moving van for a last minute chuckle and good bye. We missed the opportunity for a Katamari hug. If only we'd waited for the bars to close... Driving a 14' UHaul with your worldly possessions, all of them, and your Jeep Cherokee in tow is a... SCARY thing to do, especially when starting at night, in rain, through snow and fire-hail and a fleet demons... the tickling demons. After getting on to Interstate 90, I made it to 20 and 4 on the 21 yard line. Their defense was strong so we went for a field goal. And of course our kicker veered to the left and we thought we'd lost the game, until the wind brought it back through the uprights just outside of Springfield, MA. I took this as a sign to pull over. A little after midnight I stopped for the night and got some sleep. I'm not sleeping now though... I'm awake at the computer, the morning after. One of the joys of this trip is experiencing first hand our nation's gas prices. It cost me $100 to fill the tank up yesterday. Hmmm... I don't think you really got the impact. Let's try this. It cost me this many dollars:
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ +
$ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $ + $

That's a lot, especially considering I am now jobless and homeless. I'm about to get on the road but wanted to say that the hotel charged me $100 to stay here last night. Apparently all the rooms were filled. Of course... the parking lot was empty. Oh, and when you're attaching your Jeep Cherokee to a vehicle transport... there is something inherently masculine about crawling underneath your vehicle to make sure the chains are attached properly to your axle (and you have to say 'axle,' instead of 'car,' in order to get a fuller manly effect when retelling the story to your friends).
I'm currently expecting to spend about $700 - $800 in gas on the trip. I'm crying right now... In my wallet I'm crying. I'll be starting a 900 phone line later tonight if you wanna talk geek or animation. In order to offset the gas costs I'm charging a low low rate of $40/min. It's the friends and family rate.

:: The Bottom
We're staying the course. We've got a thousand points of light. This move to a new state supports No New Taxes. The economic downturn will not deter our freedom and liberty. We support our troops and their effort. We support the rights of business and the respect the plight of the working man. 400 Babies!!!!

The End

With Love and Respect,