Thursday, May 29, 2008

Texas Car Inspection Road Trip

Every May I find myself driving to Texas to get my car inspected. As you know, it's an eight and a half hour drive which kinda drives me a little stir crazy after awhile. Like, oh, five or six hours in when I want to remove the state of Oklahoma from the United States and sink it in the ocean.

I thought I'd give you a quick recap of the trip, according to landmarks... because it's more fun that way.

Start from Kansas City.

There's the wee little city off in the distance of this picture. Bye Kansas City! See you in two days!

Here is the Paseo Bridge. Off to the left, you can see some cranes working on building the new bridge.

This is somewhere in southern Missouri. Missouri has roads that are named simply by letters. This town is the home of my initials. I imagine it is a magical place with unicorns.

Here is a McDonald's that is built over the turnpike. Seems like a completely normal place to put a McDonald's, don't you think?

This is a giant feathered Native American who greets you as you enter Big Cabin, Oklahoma. He is saying, "Thank you for paying that toll, sucker. If you'd like to lose more money for no good reason, I have built a casino for you right down the road."

This is also in Big Cabin, which, you can see is a very popular tourist location where all the NASCAR drivers go for vacation. There are more cops per capita than race cars. Although, that's probably true everywhere. At any rate, someone is really irate about receiving speeding tickets in Big Cabin. There are three of these trailers along the roadside. I took this picture as a representative sample of all three.

Then I pass a big giant lake in Eufaula. It is cleverly named Lake Eufaula. By this time in the journey, I have managed to kill one million bugs, just by moving my windshield through the air at high rates of speed. Some of them leave me with parting gifts that are yellow or red and gooey. At the gas station, I will scrub my little window clean again.

And then there's the Indian Nation Turnpike. I'm on this road for nearly 70 miles. In 70 miles, I saw 11 cars on my side of the road, and I passed every single one of them, just trying to get the hell out of Oklahoma.

This is where Jesus is buried. In Oklahoma. On the top of a hill. Don't drive into smoke.

This is a giant heifer. In a fence. I like to pretend he's made of paper mâché.

Here is a decapitated pilgrim. I think the feathered dude in Big Cabin may have done this, but I have no proof... yet.

This orchard in Texas is showing off its oranges and strawberries on the roadside. It's true that everything is bigger in Texas. Look at their produce!

Some time after this, I arrive at my parent's house which pulls me out of my delirium. Hooray! And, the car even passed its inspection and everything. Hooray times two!

Then, I drove home and saw all this stuff in the reverse order. Fascinating, I know.


End Blog.

Race Loser

I haven't mowed my lawn in two weeks, so I knew going in it was going to take me well over 47 minutes to mow the darn thing. More like two and a half hours... complete with screaming at the mower, two phone calls (one interruption and one simply to rant and complain... or whine would probably be the better description), and many a stall when I had to pull clumps of grass out of the blades.

Two and a half hours. But my lawn is short again and I don't look trashy compared to the neighbors. In fact, one of my neighbors has only cut his grass once all year. My house looks so awesome next to his, even with my lack of landscaping. Someday I'd really like to have a landscaped area around my house... but I'm sure that requires a lot of money I don't have right now, and a lot of hard work outside.

The high today was 85 degrees. I'm sure it wasn't quite that hot when I was actually mowing, but it was sure humid and I was really sweaty and disgusting when I was done. And since I was mowing for eons, I have fun blisters on the inside of my thumbs from holding the bar handle thingies down in conjunction with the vibration of the motor.

So... in order to beat the 47 minute mowing record, I must not wait so long between cuttings. One week, max. Too bad there's not someone here to hold me to that rule...


End Blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honeymoon

Since the Paseo Bridge Construction Project has started, my commute has been heaven. I can get to work in 18-20 minutes. Regularly. It's totally awesome.

I think that the majority of people have already started using alternative routes and there isn't so much construction going on during rush hours. They've promised to keep two lanes open during those times for all three years of the project. It's working really well. I have no idea what kind of actual construction they are doing, but I don't care. They've already made my commute better. Go MoDOT... or whoever it is that's out there.

I realize that this honeymoon period will someday come to an end, but I'm hoping for much later rather than sooner. I suppose we shall see... but for now, I don't have to get out of bed until 7am. And I like it.


End Blog.

Post 400

Does that make me a loser?

You know the funny thing about this blog? I don't think anyone reads it. And then when I try to tell someone a story, they say, "I already know that, I read it on your blog." Some times I think that I should save all my good stories so that I can tell them to people and see their reactions. Or, you know, get to talk sometimes.

I've been meaning to blog about my commute to work with the 29/35/Paseo Bridge construction project, and I was just about to, until I found out this was my 400th post. And now I think it should be something more random and stupid than actually telling you something I've been MEANING to blog about for a few weeks.

Like... nothing. Which is what this one is about. Yay 400!

Also, I've never written so many posts in one day, so really, I think I should just continue. Because it's not like I don't have other things to be doing...


End Blog.

Lawn Mower Races... With Myself

I'm entering a competition with myself for the fastest lawn mowing time possible. I didn't time it the first two times I did it, but I already know that tonight was the fastest I've ever done it. I'm getting better at it. At any rate, the time to beat is 47 minutes. I shall try to do better than that next time.

This was the first time that I didn't have to put gas in it at all though, so that saved time right there. And now that I know where the trouble spots are, and am getting a good feel for what direction to go in, I think I'm taking less time out there and still doing a good job.

I was hoping to be done in under an hour, so I'm happy. I'm probably a super big nerd for telling you this. =) But, really, cutting the lawn is quite the science.


End Blog.

Conviction

We had a big meeting at work today about my testimony yesterday. Mostly a critique, what I could have done better, what we as a section need to do better, and overall preparation for court. But, I was told that I did a good job on the stand and was very professional. There were a few lessons learned, and I hate learning them under the gun, but overall I think we got the outcome everyone expected.

Jury Finds Teen Guilty Of Killing Friend's Mother
Teen Found Guilty In Grain Valley Slaying

Teen Convicted of Killing Best Friend's Mother

Someday I hope that testimony becomes second nature, but getting so few opportunities to actually do it, it's kinda hard to get experience. I suppose there really is no other way though.

Eddie George found guilty at age 18... will spend the rest of his life in jail without the possibility of parole. Kids, take note. Be kind to your parents. This didn't have to happen.


End Blog.

Sunday at the Ballpark

Bren and I had a really good time at the Royals game last Sunday. They even won against the O's. I had some great burgers on the grill while we tailgated, got slightly sunburned, and drank a sufficient amount of beer. I think Bren did too, as evidenced here:

video

That's not really true. Knowing Bren, I'm sure she'd have done this sober... although this is the second take - because after she did it the first time I was highly disappointed that I couldn't relive that magical moment over and over again. So, I made the monkey perform again. And I didn't even have to crack a whip... I think she volunteered.

Like I said... fun times. Even though I have absolutely no idea what happened during this game, and I made it a point to pay attention for a whole inning. The only thing I can tell you is that they were wearing powder blue jerseys and it was a beautiful, sunny, yet windy day.

And we hogged all the peanuts. They were delicious.


End Blog.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nikki's First Murder Trial

I testified in Jackson County court, finally, after working in the lab for slightly over two years. Although, it was in the Independence Annex, so I still have yet to testify in the Jackson County Courthouse proper. Regardless, this is my second time taking the stand, and my first murder trial.

Without going into details (maybe you'll get lucky sometime after the trial is over), here is information on the case, courtesy of the local news.

Teen's Confession: I Stabbed Her So Hard the Knife Broke
Prosecutors: Boys Planned to Kill Parents for Months
Dad Takes Stand In Grain Valley Murder Trial

The courtroom was totally packed. I imagine it was family and press, although I don't know. But, there was definitely press there. A lot of them. And a video camera. Although my testimony was rather boring, so I doubt I'll make the news. If only I would have had a really great sound bite, I might have made it. But nothing I can do is going to be more sensational than putting the grieving husband on television.

The two kids in this case are both being tried separately, as adults – so the fun news is that I get to do this trial all over again come August.

I'm glad I didn't go cruising for news stories before I testified. The 911 call and Joe Marquez's testimony were pretty difficult to hear, especially after having seen the crime scene and morgue photos at work.

I'm sure the jury has an important, yet difficult, decision to make. I'm glad I was on the other end of the witness stand.


End Blog.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Am Iron Man

If you haven't seen Iron Man (Ironman?) yet, go do so. Now. Really. I mean it. Even the previews were good. (The Dark Knight, Hulk, Indiana Jones)

This movie was so good that I didn't even mind the super dorky dude next to me continuously talking about Captain America (and yet not knowing who Michael Caine was), nor his incredibly loud wife who said things like, "That's a bomb in his chest, isn't it?" so that the whole theater could hear her. (Hint: No, it's not a bomb.) I couldn't believe they didn't stay until the after the end credits. That dude is totally going to kick himself once he finds out what he missed.



Robert Downey Jr. is off of my list of people who I don't like, while Hugh Grant lingers there, regardless of making several movies I enjoyed. That's how good this movie is.

Better than Transformers, yet with slightly less action - it has a better story.

Also, it's nice to know that we've moved on in our evil powers. The bad guys in movies were once the Germans, then the Russians, and now we have Afghanistan. It's nice to know we're so good at evolving.

Mom, if you haven't already, take Dad to see this movie. He will like it, and you won't mind watching it either. Totally good.


End Blog.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Can't Blow Me Down

We had some pretty severe weather last night. I heard my first tornado sirens since moving here, so that was pretty exciting. Remy and I even did our duty and went duly into the basement. (Upon relating this story to a coworker, I was told, "You're not a true Midwesterner. You're supposed to go outside and look around, then discuss with your neighbors if you really think you need to take cover or not.")

The evening storms took over my prime time television, and on any other night I wouldn't have cared, but they cut into 30 Rock and I was forced to watch it online today instead of my actual TV. How rude.

The worst of the storm didn't hit until 2am. I know because it woke me up. I swear that I could see green lightning through my bedroom curtains. The amount of lightning, the super hard winds, and the constant thunder grumble scared me enough to turn on the television to see if I was about to die. And if I needed to put on shoes. I have the best priorities.

Turns out, at 2:06am, it seems a tornado went through the northern part of Kansas City, and quite possibly Gladstone as well. Here are maps showing my relation (A) to the destruction (B) I heard about this morning:

12 miles from me (Kansas City North)


Here's what it looked like:


3.6 miles from me (Gladstone)


Here's What it looked like:


Last night the television told me that it was severe hurricane force winds, possibly exceeding 80mph, but they didn't detect any rotation. The sirens I had heard earlier were not going off. So I went back to bed and didn't put my shoes on. I figured that meant I was safe, my sleepy head assuming if there was no tornado all would be fine. Obviously I learned nothing from Hugo, Andrew, Katrina and Rita. But... this wasn't a hurricane! It was just a bad thunderstorm with a bunch of wind. And with that thought in my mind, I safely and soundly slept until my alarm went off this morning.

(Apparently the sirens were never set off in Gladstone, either. They were given no reason to. But they woke up to a lot more problems than me. Destroyed homes, downed power lines, fallen trees.)

We lost power (if you're wondering why I'm speaking in the plural, I included Remy) overnight. I heard it go off and come back a couple times before I fell asleep thinking that it was a good thing I switched over to using my cell phone as my alarm clock a couple years ago.

This morning I had a meeting at an undisclosed location prior to work, so I went there first thing. When I arrived at work at 10:30, trace and DNA were having a big combined section meeting because they had nothing better to do - the power was out in our building. So, right after I got there, they sent everyone home.

Unfortunately, I had a luncheon to attend today, so I still had to "work". Which wasn't really work at all because I got to listen to some speakers and eat free food, but the point of the matter is that everyone else got to be at home sitting on their asses while I did not. I did get to go home at 2pm though, so I guess I can't really complain too much.

I watched a couple video news reports from the Kansas City Star on this and saw Chief Corwin in one of them, but they aren't very nice about giving away embed codes and I didn't feel like working hard enough to link it here... But I will link you to a printed story, because I'm super nice like that. And reading is good for you.

Anyway, point of the story - I'm alive, Remy's alive, Remy seemed less worried by the weather than I did, and the house is still in one piece. We were not sucked off the Earth by living in the Midwest, and yes, I still think it's a lovely place.


End Blog.