Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

National Convention Memories

This is where I would usually write "What few of them I have," but as this was the least drunk National Convention I've been to (for me personally at least), I remember almost all of what transpired. Any misrememberences or misinterpretations is most likely due to my notoriously faulty memory. So here we go.

- I'm very happy I decided to fly to DC. That extra night of sleep I got probably saved my life in the coming days.

- I'm also very happy I flew because it gave me a chance to meet Mike, Huda-Marie, and Leah. I met them randomly: I was waiting outside the baggage claim area of the airport for the hotel's shuttle to pick me up when I noticed three other college age kids waiting. I took the chance that they were Phi Siggers and asked them. They replied in the affirmative, and basically for the rest of the day, we hung out. We went to the mall, got dinner/lunch, and kept ourselves occupied until the festivities all began.

One thing these three soon discovered was that one thing all Florida Fans like to do is make fun of Ron Zook (who, according to Everyday Should Be Saturday, should only be referred to as [Name Redacted]). They, and especially Mike, were very good natured about it, and for that I am thankful. They were a fun crew, and I'm hoping they make it down to GET SLAM'D, as I'm probably not going to be able to make it to Illinois any time soon.

- Friday night, I wish I had been able to stay up longer, but I physically could not keep my eyes open. Of course, as soon as I laid down, I got a phone call on the room phone. "Hello?" I said groggily.
"Is this Mr. McKenzie?"
"Mr. McKenzie, we've had another noise complaint for this room."
At this point, I looked around the room. It was dark, it was quiet, and I was the only one in there. "Are you sure?," I asked, "Cause its pretty quiet from where I'm trying to sleep."
"I understand that your with that fraternity we have staying here, but we do have other guests, so if you could try to keep it down..."
"Alright, I will try to keep it down. All of me and the turned off television."

- Later that night, everyone was trying to go to sleep. 'Trying' being the operative word, as there were four people trying to sleep in one bed. Between Mark, Rachel, Kelly and James, no one was going to sleep in that room. And between Mark being drunk and belligerent, Kelly arguing with him, and Rachel laughing uncontrollably, it was anything but quiet. One memorable quote, at least that I remember in my exhausted haze, was this:

Mark (to Kelly): You are a crazy lesbian.

Kelly (to Mark): You love the cock.

Me to both: Can we reach a compromise here: You're both gay.

I know, I'm fucking hilarious.

- The next morning, I woke up early (well, I got up early. I'm pretty sure I didn't really sleep much that night). Rachel got up too, and we decided we would do the touristy thing. We recruited Jeff and Kelly, and off we went. On the agenda: FDR Memorial (a really lovely public space, though as a memorial, it was a bit overdone), the WWII memorial (probably the best public space in the city, but I'm not sure it really is all that evocative of the war), and the Jefferson Memorial (a truly magnificent place. Quiet and awe inspiring).

- Me and Rachel decided to take a look at the Holocaust Museum, while Kelly and Jeff checked out the Air and Space Museum. It was emotionally draining, and I found myself tearing up a few times. Especially poignant to me was the tower of photos from a small Jewish town in Poland before it was completely decimated by the Nazis.

- There was one room, full of shoes that had been taken from the victims. I'm stood there, trying to absorb the immensity of what I'm seeing, when a guy next to me looks over and sees that my vest has "University of Florida" written on it.

"Dude," he said, "Do you go to the University of Florida?"

"Um, yeah, I did," I replied.

"Dude, that’s awesome, me too!" he said way too loudly.

I just stared at him in disbelief. I then said, "This is not the right place or time to be doing this." Then, I walked away, occasionally looking back at the guy. He stood there, stunned, like he didn't know what just happened.

- Next stop: The Zoo. I became slightly deaf earlier in the day when I told Kelly and Rachel that they had a baby panda. The screams of delight were quite loud and piercing. I do have to admit though that the pandas were damn cute, especially as the baby kept jumping on his mother, trying to get her to play.

- Back on the Metro, back to the hotel. I had promised to meet up with a bunch of brothers and go to a sports bar and watch the Ohio State/Michigan game. I got to the hotel way late, so I think everyone had already left. So Rachel, Jeff, Kelly and I got in a cab and went to the Sports Bar I found, called Bailey's. Unfortunately, it was packed. And even more unfortunate: It was 21+ to get in, which meant Kelly and Rachel were not allowed in. Luckily it was in a mall, and there were other restaurants where we could watch the game. We found Chevy's, a Mexican restaurant. It was nearly empty, had good sized screens showing the game, and we got to get Margaritas and Mexican food. In retrospect, we win.

- Gamma Ep (finally) won best in region. Yea for us. I don't know how we don't win that when Trav or Dani are President, but when I, a mediocre executive at best, was President, we win that award. Nationals is fucked up.

- That night was...weird. It was the lamest I've seen Convention. I don't know if it was just my inability to get drunk (trust me, I tried), or maybe because it was lame in general. But either way, I had fun, but not as much as I usually do. I was hoping the last Convention would be bigger and better, but it wasn't. Oh well. I'm still glad I went. Got to see people I haven't seen in a while, and I got to meet new fun people. All in all, a good trip and a good vacation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Battle

It was a cool morning in early November. The wind swirled through the stadium, sending a chill through the warriors scattered through the structure. Whether that chill was due to the the cold or because of the dread of upcoming battle is something that history will never know.

The Battlefield

The brothers of Phi Sigma Pi had arrived early that morning, to conduct the onerous task of cleaning the stadium, dirty from the previous nights victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks. It went quickly, much quicker than the many times they had done it before. And over the course of the morning, they found the ammo for the quickly approaching battle.

The Weapons of Choice

The lemons were everywhere. It seemed that every time the brothers bent down to grab another piece of trash, they found empty cups, full of half lemons. There has been a long tradition in Phi Sigma Pi of throwing these lemons at one another while cleaning the stadium. But on this day, the lemon skirmishes erupted into a full blown war.

The seeds of war had been set two months back. Oded The Mighty, joined by Cush the Brave, had staged a small surprise lemon assualt on a band of workers valiently trying to clean the their section. It had worked perfectly, but it was quickly forgotten in the winds of history and the length of work that day's toil entailed. Walking into the stadium, no one knew that the battle that came was in the works, but it soon became apparent that something big was going to happen.

Everyone was collecting lemons and storing them in any container available. Cups, boxes, bags, randomly found tubberware containers. All of them were soon filled with lemon halfs. And soon, they were used.

It started slow. A few people had lemons thrown at them, and a small band of warriors, led by Jeff "Dead-Eye" Schrodener, attacked a group of laborers from the high ground, catching them completely by surprise and inflicting heavy casualties. Notable in the wounded was James the Pledge, who was left with a horrific scar on his side. War claimed another victim, as he will be scarred for life.

Soon, the brothers had been divided into two groups. One was cleaning the very top of the South Endzone. The other was taking care of the Student Section. I was in the Endzone. I would like to say that I was cleaning, but instead I was having lemon rubbed into my hair by Rachel "The Squeezer" Kramer, who had decided that I would be her sole victim of the day. She was valient in battle, and though I fought hard, in the end I found myself vanquished and covered in bits of lemons and sticky with juice.

And after this minor fight, our group noticed something alarming: The other group had disappeared. We could assume only one thing: We were about to be attacked. So the weapons were assembled, and cover found. And we waited.

The battle began with the attackers running out of a gate, a war cry proceeding thier charge. Soon, the attackers found that the tables had been turned on them, as my group had both the high ground and better cover. Both groups fought to a standstill. There was never a shortage of ammunition, as anyone without lemons could just pick up the one that just had hit you in the head.

The battle slowed, and then stopped. Both sides took a moment to view the battlefield, and were stunned by what they saw. Lemons were everywhere. The victims of the battle were laying and standing around, trying in vain to catch thieir breath and get the lemon pulp out of their hair and clothes.

The Great Lemon War had ended. As is often the case, no one won. We were all victims. But it was fun.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

I'm not a gloating person, but allow me to take a small bit of joy at what the White House is probably going through this morning.

And with this feeling of satification calls for only one possible compliment: Schadenfreude Pie!

Other's misfortunes are delicious!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How I'm Voting

While the secret ballot is vitally important to a democracy, there's nothing wrong with an individual revealing how one is voting on a voluntary basis. So tonight, I bring you the how's and why's of my upcoming trip to the poll this Tuesday.

I should probably preface this by saying that this year, I'm voting strategically. I think the Republican controlled government has been an utter failure. Between a poorly planned and executed war, a budget deficit of record levels, and attacks on the Constitution and the American way of life, I can't see one thing that this government has done well in the last six years. Therefore, the most important thing this election, in my mind, is having an opposition party in control of at least one house in Congress. Preferably both. So I'm voting Democrat in all but one race (that one race being Sheriff, and that's on the recommendation of Dave). You may think this is crazy liberal talk, but it’s not just us lefty's who think this way.

Senate: Bill Nelson. This one is real real easy. Even if I wasn't voting Democrat, as explained above, I would be voting for Bill Nelson here. Why? Katherine Harris is Bat Shit Insane. No really. Also, apparently soon to be charged with bribery charges. Nelson hasn't been the best Senator, and I'm especially disappointed with him for voting for the Torture Bill (I'm sorry, I mean the 'Forcible Interrogation' bill) last month. But he's not a bad guy, and certainly leaps and bounds better than his opponent.

6th Congressional District: David Bruderly. Yes, he's a Democrat, so that's no surprise. But reading what the incumbent, Cliff Stearns' main issues are, I become very OK with my strategy in this case. Stearns supports a national sales tax (the most non-progressive form of taxation), 'staying the course' in Iraq (read his paragraph on Iraq and come to any other conclusion), and supports Medicare Part B, which is probably the biggest waste of taxpayer money in years, and likely to bankrupt the program in a decade. Bruderly doesn't exactly excite me, but he's my choice for this race.

Governor: Jim Davis. This is a hard choice, but I have to go against the candidate whose main push is that he "will continue the policies of Jeb Bush." Bush hasn't been the worst governor, but we need change in two important fields: Education and Land Management, two areas that Jeb has done horribly in. The FCAT is a disaster, and the environment continues to be destroyed as the more and more people move into the state. I've voting for change here, so Davis gets the nod.

As for the many judges on the court, I find it horrifying that we're voting on Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges. These positions need to be non-partisan and independent, not counting on voters for their jobs. So I'm voting for all of them to stay in office. As for the race between Stan Griffis and Stephen Pennypacker, they seem basically equivalent, so it requires more study before I pick someone.

State Constitutional Amendment 1: Yes. It’s a good idea in government to know how much money we're going to be spending, and trying to keep that spending under control. It’s especially good after the last few years of drastic budget deficits in this (and most) states. So I have no problem with this amendment.

State Constitutional Amendment 3: No. I was initially going to vote yes on this, as I find a lot of the proposed constitutional amendments don't need to be in a constitution. However, after hearing Carl Hiaasen speak last week, I changed my mind. This is the one method for forcing a reluctant and immobile legislature to do something that the people desire. Yes, stupid things like the Pregnant Pig amendment get in, but it also got things like the Class Size and Minimum Wage amendment in. The legislature was never going to pass these, as they are in the pockets of the big businesses, especially the Sugar, Development, and Tourism industries. So making it harder for the people to force the state to do something is not the answer here. I would prefer some kind of referendum method, instead of putting things into the Constitution. But since we don't have that, we have to protect our constitution by voting no on this.

Amendments 4, 6, and 7: No. None of these are things I like to be in the Constitution, and none of them I particularly care for, especially the Smoking one. We shouldn't be spending $57 million a year to prevent smoking. I don't think that's necessarily something the government should be involved in.

Amendment 8: Yes. A way of preventing the repercussions of the horrible Supreme Court decision last year, which made it OK to take property and give it to another private individual, on the basis of increasing tax revenues. Worthy of being law, and worthy of being in the Constitution.

Want to argue any of these choices? Feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me. And if anyone needs a ride to the polls, I'm your man.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Either the Craziest or the Most Brilliant Thing I've Ever Heard of

Read this.

Short story - They made a DDR clone where you get engulfed by flames if you miss a step.

All I know is that I so want to try it out. And I am horrible at DDR. So yes, that means I want to be surrounded by 4000 degree flames. Is that a problem?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Florida/Georgia Game Two: In which Pork is cursed, then praised. Also, the trials of coolers.

The day began with a moan. The joys of the previous night exacted its retribution on the hotel room, forcing headaches and stomach pains on us all. However, our love of drinking and the Florida Gators meant that we would force ourselves to push through the agony, and we attacked the free continental breakfast in order to hold the demons of the hangover back for another day.

We left the hotel relatively early. Myself, Ryan, Mike, and Ryan's cooler piled into my car, and we headed to pick up the last of our compatriots: Jamie Hodge, everyone's favorite Illinois State Alumni. She was coming along as I had managed to score two free tickets to the game the previous day, and invited Jamie along. On the drive over, we stopped at a gas station and stocked up on the necessities: Beer, Ice, and Coke. I provided the rum. And this is where the ordeal began.

In order to save money and to ease the finding of parking, we decided to park on the North side of the St. Johns and take the Skyway across the river. Unfortunately, this would mean dragging a large cooler full of beer and ice the very long distance between Downtown Jacksonville and the Sports Complex. This was not going to happen, especially given our inherent laziness.

So, we decided to take a free trolley, which had been generously donated by the Pork Council. However, it seems that this nefarious council had lied about the existence of the trolley. It never came, and we were forced to sit on the cold windy corner of Laura St. and Forsyth Ave. After a long half hour, we finally managed to flag down a cab which dropped us off near the Fairgrounds.

The Fairgrounds was truly a holy land. There was nary a Georgia fan to be seen. For some reason, they take the area underneath the highway. Florida fans, being the intelligent, good looking people that we are, take the fairgrounds, which boasts abundant grass, the occasional tree, and indoor bathrooms. I think this proves that it is not only in football that the Gators consistently win. It is in life in general as well.

We continued on our trek, eager to go around the stadium and see what unknown wonders awaited us there. Along the way, we encountered Kelly Tibbles and Justin Moore, who joined us on our quest. And then we found paradise: The Pork Council Tent. I was ready to pass it by, as the Pork Council's trolley was proven to be only a myth. But the tent did not disappoint. They were giving out free pork sandwiches, over which one could slather hot sauce and barbeque sauce. And they didn't care how many you too take. To a group of hungry travelers who had been wandering around trying to find free food, this was truly heaven.

We left this small slice of white-meat perfection and engaged on another quest: Find Amanda's Boyfriend's RV. This required walking even more around the stadium, and trying to find one particular Recreational Vehicle in the thousands that were there. We managed to find it, and it was amazing. A private Port-A-Potty, a fried turkey, and a golf cart. Verily, these people knew how to do tailgating right. We hung, finished our alcohol, and finally departed for the game.

The game was...well, we won. The free seats we snagged were in the Georgia section, which wasn't too bad. The fans around us were friendly, and directly behind us was the most excited 10 year old Gator fan I've ever seen. He was awesome. And from St. Augustine. So, he was alright by me. The game itself was great for the first half and not so great the second. I clutched Jamie many times in a state of utter panic. I mumbled to myselves when the Gator's turned the ball over or made some boneheaded play call. But we are the Florida Gators. We don't win pretty, but we do win. I'll take it in the end, but a bit more of a blowout would have been nice.

After the game, we met back up with Ryan and Mike and began the long, cold, windy trek back to the Skyway station. The cooler had been left behind, a noble sacrifice to the gods of tailgating and laziness. There was a long debate on whether to take the water taxi or just walk downtown. After seeing the line for the water taxi, we eventually choose the cheaper, but higher in sweat-equity, choice. It proved a wise choice, as the 5 dollars we saved were immediately put into video games where we had dinner: Dave and Busters. We enjoyed food, friends, and skeeball, and then headed back to the hotel.

If its been a long day, I have two options: Keep going or stop completely. The problem with the latter choice is that I can't stop. If I sit down for a little while, its nearly impossible for me to get going again. So after the long, leisurely dinner, I found myself in bed and falling asleep. This was midnight.

Yes, I know, I'm a pansy.