September 28, 2008

Strike Breakers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Tie an Onion on my Belt

So I've noticed a trend with the Google searches that lead folks to stumble onto my blog. 80% of them have searched for "onion belt" or some variation of Grandpa Simpson's classic strike breaking story that goes nowhere from episode 417 of The Simpsons - Last Exit to Springfield. This invariably leads them here. But I want more...more...more internet traffic! So here's my devious plan: provide those passers by with the actual clip of this great orator in action. After watching this - they'll have to like my blog. Right?


September 24, 2008

'Maybe' pretty much always means 'No'

I can't remember if I've mentioned that I'm currently job hunting. :-)

I'm sad to say the status of the search is pretty much the same as it was several weeks ago. My application total is now around 60 or so (positions not companies) - of which, less than 10 have responded in any way, shape, or form (all rejections obviously). Still, last week I took to be an encouraging one. The wife had some recruiting to do on behalf of her company at UVA - our old stomping ground. It was a nice midweek break for the two of us. We got free gas, lodging, and 1/2 of our meals (her half) paid for and got to enjoy some pleasant grad-school reunions. Plus, while she was recruiting, I was attempting to do a little ass-kissing of my own at the career fair. Unfortunately there were only a few companies I had any interest in. And yet, conversations with representatives went quite well. I'm actually quite likeable when I want to be. Especially when I'm trying to trick you into giving me money. But like so many other instances, these leads turned out to be mere smoke and mirrors. Despite my follow up emails the next day, I have not heard from any of the recruiters since the career fair. Ah well. Who wants to work for GE Energy anyway? (Recruiter: Should you have stumbled onto my blog - be assured - I want to work for GE Energy!) Anyway, I do have my first official job interview next week with a company in DC (which I only got because I knew someone on the inside - Columns O'Numbers). I'm excited but also a bit unsure that the position is really what I'm looking for. Decisions decisions. So glad I've got the wife by my side during all this.

In other news, the wife and I are actually presently on yet another mini-vacation sponsored by her generous employer. She is attending a training session in Hampton on roundabouts. She's been enjoying it. And I recommend you all read up - because my wife is going to be a part of the roundabout revolution here in the United States. Look for one in an intersection near you coming soon! As for me, I've been killing my time in a local St. Louis Bread Company (that's Panera to the rest of you). Last night we went and hung out at the "beach" for a while. (I use "s because it was high tide and there was very little beach to speak of. The trail leading to the beach dead ended into the waves.)

I guess that's about it for now. Does anyone else think my blog posts aren't that funny anymore? Wait. Don't answer that.

PS. Yes. My post title is from a Jack Johnson song. I'm sorry. It was on the iPod when I was posting and seemed to fit. Friggin sue me.

September 15, 2008

Saturday Morning Credit Fraud

A funny thing happened on my way to an otherwise perfect weekend. Saturday morning I wake up to my cell phone ringing. The call is from some Delaware number I don't recognize, so I don't answer. Ever since I first got my cell phone I've been a screener. Basically, I figure that unless I recognize the number, the person can either call back enough times that I finally answer, or leave a message so I know who they are. This time, no message. I think nothing of it and set about cooking breakfast with the wife. We make some very delicious turkey breakfast stacks (recipe below) and our usual yogurt parfait of vanilla Light'n'Fit, blueberries, and granolla. As we finish the meal, Delaware calls again. I decide to screen a second time. No message.

I finally get to checking my email for the first time that morning and discover who has been calling: Bank of America's Fraud Protection service. Apparently there is some irregular credit card activity with my account. Thirteen separate transactions by PayPal - none of which I conducted. I go through a series of verifications online with BofA and soon my troubles are over. The account has been closed, new cards have been issued, and an afidavit is on its way to me for my signature. Although the charges have not even posted yet, BofA assures me that once they do, I will immediately be reimbursed. Unfortunately they offer no hints as to how it is my credit card information has been stolen or who might have done so. They recommend I call Pay Pay (which I plan to do this afternoon).

All in all, the thing I was most surprised by was how calm the wife and I remained during the process. You would think that such a credit scare would be cause for great concern and worry. But honestly, with BofA catching things so quickly and rectifying the situation, things were fixed before we ever knew there was a problem! Kudos to Bank of America for protecting our monies. Or rather... our ability to buy things using digital monies instead of real ones. Also, congrats on the whole Merrill Lynch thing.

And now, a delicious recipe:

Breakfast Turkey Stack
1 pound ground turkey breast
4 teaspoons sugar-free pancake syrup
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
4 (1-ounce) slices reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Combine turkey, syrup, sage, cayenne, salt, pepper, and ginger in a mixing bowl and mix well. Divide into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook patties until well browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat. Lay tomato slices in a single layer in a baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Top each slice with 1 turkey patty and 1 cheese slice; broil in the oven until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve hot. (Note: Patties can be individually wrapped and frozer for up to 1 month; just defrost and simply reheat in the oven or microwave!)

To answer your question: No, I don't have a job yet. And yes, I am spending lots of time cooking.

September 09, 2008

Great bars in RIC: Capital Alehouse

I decided I would borrow a play from Quantum's book... er... blog... and cover some of the fine dining and drinking establishments here in Richmond. And what better way to start than with the locale that is possibly the greatest beer house in town. The Capital Ale House has three locations, but I've so far only made it to one (Innsbrook). The beer list is exhausting. It features 77 beers on tap, 2 cask conditioned "real" ales, and over 250 bottled beers. Here's the menu for those interested. In addition to it's extensive selection of libations, the atmosphere is generally exactly what you hope to find at an alehouse. Dark. Cool. Brick. Or for those pleasant evenings, an outdoor beer garden area right next to a pond. The best part of the outdoor seating is that the ducks have gotten rather used to being fed fries by the alehouse patrons. They're not too shy and tend to weave in and out of the tables as you dine. Last night I asked one to bring me a Bells Amber Ale, but I guess he didn't hear me because it never came. I can't speak too knowledgeably about the food as we frequent Capital on Monday nights for $1 burger night. You can't beat that. I believe they have other specials during the rest of the week as well. Last night I also decided to make the Capital Ale House my base of operations for this year's Oktoberfest celebrations. How can a man resist advertising like this?...
I wonder if she'll be at Oktoberfest :-) I can't wait to get my complimentary stein. It looks to be a good chance to sample some fine german beers, do a little singing, and maybe even a polka or too. Prost!

PS. Went to see Traitor last night. I enjoyed it. Kept my heart running at a reasonable clip for much of the movie. And even when I predicted the ending, I was still excited to see it unfold. I love me some Don Cheadle.

September 05, 2008

Let me tell you a story

about a family I know in western Ohio. Vicram recently lost his job at the manufacturing plant. His wife, Lyleen, has had to pick up extra shifts at work to make ends meet. Meanwhile the two must care for their 7 children. Children with diseases. Their 5 year old daughter, Maxine, was recently diagnosed with an incurable illness. And yet they still find time to attend PTA meetings. If I am elected, I will restore Vicram's job, get Lyleen a raise, obtain corporate sponsorship to supply for their family needs, and heal Maxine's horrible disease.

Why do politicians feel the need to tell these types of stories in their speeches? Every single one of them does it. And every single time I hear such stories, I feel I'm being pandered to. I'm not saying these stories are necessarily fabricated. And I don't mean to suggest that the plight of average Americans is inconsequential. But there's something oddly exploitational or perhaps insincere about relaying such stories on a national stage. These types of stories don't prove to me that a candidate is "in touch" with ordinary people. The real proof that a person genuinely cares about others is in his (or her) deeds, not in his ability to rehash stories from Chicken Soup for the Politician's Soul.

September 04, 2008

The Summer of Dr. Church continues

Attention Readers! As you yourself may presently be aware of, my grammar sucks. But that will not hinder my return to the blog'o'dome - or, for my Spanish speaking readers, the casa del blogging. What a summer this has been. Allow me to give you a quick, month-by-month run down.

May: Completed work on dissertation and printed that sucka. Trip to Chicago. Saw Boomshaka's spring show. Paid some kid to go buy me White Castle at 2 in the AM (actually, the Expert paid him, but I helped devour the Crave Case). Gradumamated. Enjoyed libations and went streaking on the lawn at UVA with Fuoco's roommate and my former officemate, JN. Packed up my apartment and moved most of my belongings to my future residence - TinRoof's apartment. Drove Tracy home to BVille for the summer.

June: With my newly minted Ph.D., I took a part time position at a vocational services place. I spent the following 6 weeks attaching company logo faceplates to plastic mounting bezels. The company typically employs physically and mentally disabled people for such jobs but, due to increased demand, took on a few regularly abled part timers for the summer. It was the sweetest irony for someone who just completed a Ph.D. in uselessness. Enjoyed the summer at home. Welcomed a new member into the family as my brother Nodnarb and his wife (mostly his wife) gave birth to baby Kaya Grace (real name). She's basically the greatest thing ever and I miss getting to see her. Hopefully someone will start posting pictures for Uncle Church to see! Hinty hint hint hint.

July: Wedding planning continues. I continue to stress out about it all. Cousin Halbert takes me to a Cubs-Cards game on the 4th of July. On the 5th of July, we enjoy some grand family time and the traditional holiday exhibit of patriotic exothermic reactions accompanied by the emission of photons of varying wavelengths - I mean, fireworks. Finally, the wedding week arrives... arrived.... arrove? So much good times that I will leave it for another post. Post-wedding, the new wife and I head to Jamaica.

August: 10 days at Couples Negril in Negril, Jamaica. Glorious. It was the most relaxed I've been in years. With the dissertation and the wedding planning behind me, I was able to breathe easy for once. That is until we returned home and I remembered that I remain unemployed. A minor detail. And yet August was terribly exciting. TinRoof and I greatly enjoyed settling into our apartment. I have especially enjoyed making use of the kick ass knives we got as wedding gifts. We are enjoying every second of newleywedness. And to cap the month off, we took a trip to that good ol Chi-town to catch Be The Groove's first full length professional production, Embrace The Fire. We spent much good time with the Expert and his wife, visited Millennium Park, caught Aimee Mann at Ravinia, enjoyed some tasty smoked meats, oh, and I was sick the whole weekend. Good times indeed.

Which brings us to...

September: Having slowly recovered from illness, I hold high hopes that this month, I will receive a response regarding at least one of the more than 40 job applications I submitted in August. If not, I shall continue my current plan of attack: Attempt to wake at 6:30 with my wife so I can make her breakfast, job hunt the morning away, shower around 1pm, eat lunch, job hunt some more (maybe a little blogging), cook dinner for beautiful and hard working wife, relax and enjoy evening with said wife.

Ah, real life... sorta.