212,343.7

I decided to start documenting my memories of Farrah when she hit 212,343 miles. Not too long ago, I hit a pretty nasty dip coming out of the Waco post office. I was turning left when we hit the dip and it felt like I bottomed out my front suspension. From that point forward, every time I turned left, there was audible, palpable knock. I decided to find out what was wrong with Fairuza and treat her to a little TLC. After consulting my Chilton’s manual, I concluded that my front bearings were incredibly loose – I also changed my spark plugs.
My history of maintenance with the truck could fill up a small pamphlet… of one pages. I’ve changed my alternator, serpentine belt, spark plugs, starter, and R-134a. I’ve also paid someone else to change the fly-wheel and a different starter.
When I bought the truck in July 2002, I went out on two dates almost immediately. On the second date (with a girl whom I’ve forgotten), I went to Charleston’s, Barnes and Noble, then the movie “Road to Perdition”.  Excellent movie, horrible date.  It was one of the worst dates ever. While at Charleston’s, I asked said date if she read much and wanted to go to Barnes and Noble to look around (two of my favorite past-times). She answered, “I have to read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ for class.” and “That sounds like fuuuunnn.” She was obviously lying to the second question. I asked her if “How to Win Friends” was the famous one from Dale Carnegie and she said she didn’t know who wrote it. She wasn’t lying to that answer.  In retrospect, I should have seen this as a horrible foreshadowing of the evening to come. After the movie was over, we returned to my truck. When I turned the key, there was this horrible scrape. Inquisitively, I turned the key again; to my dismay, I heard another scrape. I tried it one more time and the engine turned over. I was so relieved by the F-bomb’s resilience so that I could end this dog-crap of a date.  I didn’t have the starter looked at. I didn’t really care either. I’ve always been passive about fixing things. People kept telling me, “you need to get that looked at” and they were right. I finally changed the starter when my truck hit 190,000 miles. It worked fantastically for 15,000 miles, until I had someone change the starter and fly-wheel. Not to sound like a commercial for Ford but I think that Ford got it right on their trucks. They got it wrong on their domestic cars but they got it very right on their trucks. I would be happy to have another Ford truck, or a foreign-inspired Ford car (see Fiesta).
These newest blog entries are a moral imperative, of sorts. Flenore is on her death bed and we owe it to her to pay our respects before her passing. I included the eulogy and many wonderful thoughts of my grandmother on my blog, so this is only right. At 212,343, she’s making a bunch of noises. She sorta shakes and farts as if she has palsy and held in too many farts. She’s old now; she doesn’t need to act like a lady anymore. She just lets it rip, as she’s earned the right. I’ve learned enough lessons from her, my only job now is to forgive her shortcomings and make her final days more comfortable.

the beginning

I was 19 when I bought the truck. I had just completed my freshmen year of college at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. Like many Oklahoma high school jocks, I went to college to play football. From 16 to this point in time, my mode of transportation and self-discovery was in the form of a 1990 Ford Ranger. I say “self-discovery” because that’s just what transportation is, isn’t it. I came into my own in that Ranger. As a fatty, I was always awkward around girls. I really didn’t know much about them but as I started to become less thin I was forced to know them more. At the time, I was open to the challenge and met it head on – sometimes with success; but more often, with failure. Instead of looking internally, at my immaturity, I felt the best way to resolve my awkwardness with girls would be to get a new pick-up.

I asked my dad to float me some money to buy the car and he taught me a valuable lesson. “Riley,” he said gruffly (he always says things gruffly), “If your truck is running and you’re not playing ball, then you can pay for your own damn truck!” I’d never thought of it like that. I already had a job at the bike shop and was living at home. There was no reason I couldn’t do it on my own. After two months of looking, I settled on a 1999 Ford F-150 with 45,000 miles. It was a black step-side with a 4.2 liter V-6. I didn’t want the V-8, knowing that the insurance rate would be slightly higher and thinking that a V-8 would just make me look like a douche, (I was already trying to shake off the jock image).  My mom co-signed on a loan for me and helped me through my first significant period of buyer’s remorse.

The day before I “picked up” the pick-up, I went through my dad’s tape collection to find the perfect road tunes, I settled on The Best of Hank Williams, Jr. and Alabama. I blasted down I-35 screaming, “Roll on Highway, Roll on along; roll on daddy, till you get back home.” I don’t know why, but I’ve never loved Alabama’s music except when it’s played on tape. The sound of the tape has just enough grainy sound to cancel out the corniness of Randy Owen’s “Roll on!” There’s also something to be said for the texture and sound of Take Me Down, my absolute favorite Alabama song, when played through a tape deck. There is less sex with the polished tone of the compact disc. I often wonder how country music listeners still reproduce with today’s music; the music is too glossy; and then there’s Toby Keith.

I would soon find that the neither the truck nor the Alabama would help me with women. If anything, it both confirmed and negated many of my juvenile presuppositions of the female race. Many are just as superficial as I thought, and I’m not interested in any of those. On the same note, I was just as superficial as many people saw me, and that needed to change, too.  It wasn’t about discovering women, though was it. Or wasn’t it?  No, I’m pretty sure it was about discovering me.  It was about discovering, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Queens of the Stone Age.  It was about Diane Rehm, Terry Gross, NPR and PRI.  It was about Three Day Sabbatical, A degree in Economics, an MBA, a wife, and a future.  Through driving that truck some 150,000 miles, I’ve come to believe that the more you know about yourself, the more you know about other people.  And, the more comfortable you become with the world outside of your home the less comfortable you become with the world inside your home.  I don’t know if this is a memoir; it may just be a reflection.  Either way, I’m confident that I will confide too much and type something that is unsettling to me; but that’s what I’ve experienced in that truck. Comfort zones are astoundingly hazardous to growth and that’s what I intend to do in these entries, grow.

dsc02967 (Modified)

This little piggy went to the market

If you are a regular follower of this blog, then you’ll notice that this is the first blog I’ve written since, like, November. If you’re not a regular follower of this blog, you’ll not care but you can look at the previous blog, below, and see that it says November.

WHY?

Unlike “the market,” I’m a self-regulator. I know that too much of a good thing, can be so I cut everyone off the teat of my genius.

That’s not true… not even close.

The truth of the matter is that I was entering finals of my last semester, graduating, job searching, job interviewing, working a little on the side, working none on the side, getting turned down for some jobs, reading, looking for a new apartment, finding a new apartment, cleaning out my trailer because some hillbillies left it in bad condition and generally living life.

I found a new gig, I work for the federal government now. I won’t say specifically what I do, but George Shinseki is my boss by a few tiers.

Since I have no real reason to quit blogging, let’s talk about growing up…

By the time you read this, I’ll be officially closer to 30 than 20. I figure it’s time for some big-boy shorts so I’m ditching all my shorts with cargo pockets and holes. And if there’s a cargo short with holes in the crotch, forget about it. I went to Kohl’s because… why the hell not? They have a crap load of cargoes; too many. After some preliminary searching, I found some shorts that weren’t cargo; they were grown up shorts. They were also double-pleated; they were too grown up. If you just read that line, looked down and noticed you have double-pleated shorts, I’m not having a go at you or your shorts; If you were born prior to 1962, I don’t think there’s much of a problem with double-pleated shorts. For me, however, double pleats are a problem. It goes back to what I said earlier about “too much of a good thing”; except it’s the opposite. If too much of a good thing, is a bad thing; is too much of a bad thing, a good thing? No, two wrongs don’t make a right and two pleats don’t make a plump man cooler. I already have a hard enough time controlling the rate of expansion of my forehead as well as the growth of back hair, I don’t need double-pleated shorts to make me look any older than nature has already.

It might not be the best blog in the world, but, this is a taster and I’m rusty. Cut me some slack and I promise it’ll get better.

QBA – Quit Bothering me Already

Is it too late to switch to philosophy, religion, or history, or transfer to a technical college? Is it too late for that? This semester was going pretty stinking good until Quantitative Business Analysis (QBA). QBA is my kryptonite. I’m not saying I’m anything close to Superman… but if I were, QBA would allow me to get shot to death. Last semester it wasn’t that bad. I did much better last semester because I forced myself to study like never before. Even though I did/do okay, I still hate it; can’t stand it, yet, I have no choice but to accept it. I’m really not that bad at the final product, which is analyzing the data. I have more of a problem with collecting the data. It’s kinda like accounting. I see the importance of it; I just don’t want to be any part of its genesis. I’m sure there are plenty of people who hate marketing; that is where we are different.

What makes matters worse is that my add-ons in excel are screwing up and I can’t use solver. Solver is a huge part of what we are doing this semester and I can’t even access mine. It took me an entire class period of screwing around with this stupid thing, plus post-class time, and I still haven’t fixed the problem. Do you know what this means? It means that I’m further behind than usual. My stupidity doesn’t need any assistance from Microsoft. If Bill Gates is conspiring with Dr. Moore to slow down my graduation, they’re in for a surprise.

I’m pretty sure QBA isn’t required for a theology degree.

God-1, Business-0

It’s that time of year again… uggs and shorts

Well, the temperature has dropped to a tolerable 70 degrees.  The leaves aren’t really changing but I imagine the foliage will begin to tilt towards fall soon enough.  If you live in a place with four seasons, then I’m quite sure you have seen the signs of fall already.  At Baylor in Waco, TX, we are never sure that fall has begun until we see one combination of clothing; Uggs and Shorts… and probably a Northface fleece.  Uggs and Shorts

You know what uggs are… they’re these ridiculous, “UGG-ly” sheepskin  boots that I’m quite sure Inuits would love, if they had the money. Eskimos, not sorority girls should be wearing these.  I don’t get it… girls at Baylor are renown for wearing running shorts everywhere; SHORT running shorts.  There has to be some cause for this.  My theory is that when the temperature drops by 5 degrees, the temperature of the mid-shin drops by double.  Therefore, sheepskin boots are required to keep the upper ankle nice and cozy (Kind of like the haunch-warmers that show-dogs wear).  However, the rest of your body actually warms up, and shorter shorts are needed.  I have not tested this theory yet… my wife probably wouldn’t let me, these are just observations.  However, it does not seem to make any practical sense, whatsoever, to don warmer shoes and shorter shorts.  I can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.  Being in the MBA program, I’m going to chalk this one up to marketing and product placement.  If you can manage to get ditsy famous people to wear your impractical products like sheep skin boots… then surely ditsy, daddy’s girls will begin to wear them as well.

the root of the problem

How does this relate to the MBA program?  Not sure, really.  At this point it is more of an undergrad phenomenon.  So maybe we’re just too professional to start in with this, at campus anyway.  For the future, I am quite hopeful in my marketing career that I can sell anything if I get the right celeb to sport my product.

STD’s Hits Waco

Let’s talk a little bit about Waco life. Specifically, let’s talk about Waco food. On the whole, it isn’t that bad. With the large Latino population here, you would expect a huge amount of Mexican food, and to a certain extent, that’s right… there is a lot of Mexican food here. But, sadly, I’m not a big fan of most of it. In Oklahoma we have a lot of Mexican food joints and that’s what I’ve grown up on. Oklahoma City has Chelinos and Los Vaqueros, which have very similar menus, because I think that the guys that started these restaurants are cousins or something. Norman has Tarahumaras. Chelino’s can be credited with bringing the “Chilada” style cerveza to Oklahoma City. They all serve thin sliced but chunky salsa (SERVED COLD) and hot queso made with real cheese, all complimentary. The actual portions are quite good, too. Chelino’s has this plate called the Don Rogelio, which is 4 carne asada tacos with copious amounts of onions and a hint of cilantro, which paired with a chilada-tecate is amazing.

Waco’s Mexican food doesn’t really do it for me. There is no cold chunky salsa, apparently they prefer warm and runny. There is no complimentary queso, they would rather charge you for a sub-par mixture of ball-park, canned cheese and Rotel. And it’s all mostly overpriced. That being said, if you like Breakfast Burritos, Waco is your place. I can say that there are two places I could recommend for some outrageous breakfast burritos; Adriana and Janette’s and Lolita’s. Both are terrific in their own rights but let’s look at Lolita’s. At first, second, and third glances, Lolita’s is a rather conservative place. On the front door they have signs that say “Clean Language Spoken Here” and “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” That’s okay I guess, I’ve never seen them refuse service to anyone. When you walk in, they usually have Fox News on the tube. A lot of places air Fox News, I’ve gotten over it by now. And then they have a burrito called The Elephante, notice the name on the Elephant’s belly. “George W.”

The Elephante

The Elephante

It took me a while to muster up the cajones to order such a burrito (like a minute) but I couldn’t help it. It is this humongous burrito with eggs, bacon, chorizo, potatoes, beans, and pico de gallo. Can’t stand the man but I love the burrito. This monstrosity is delicious, especially with a coffee. And I found out that if you order in Spanish, looking like the obvious gringo that I am, they will give you extra bacon on your burrito. I don’t need to remind anyone how much I love bacon.

Conservative name with liberal amounts of delicious

Conservative name with liberal amounts of delicious

After Tuesday’s election, I can’t help but think if Barack Obama is going to get a burrito named after him. I guess if people in Africa are naming their babies Barack Obama and Antigua is naming their tallest mountain after him, I guess it’s okay for Shrubya to have burrito named after him.

However, if Lolita’s would name a burrito after president elect Obama, what would it be called? Obamarrito, Barack Burrito, Burritobama?

(In case you’re wondering… STD’s stands for Small Town Dining)

How to get an international internship

This is a presentation I gave recently on the campus of Baylor University.  The point of this is to help students get an international internship or an international job.  Mainly, it’s based off my context of attaining an internship in Argentina this summer.  If you actually look at this and get any questions or need more clarification, make a comment and I’ll get back to you.

global-intern-pres