Oh, the Weather Outside (in Newark) is Frightful

Well, I was supposed to leave today for Paris by way of Newark. The problem is, however, Newark was blasted with snow. So here I am, still at home, not going anywhere today. I’m supposed to leave tomorrow now by way of Houston. And the Houston to Paris flight is 12 hours and 25 minutes. Oh am I looking forward to that!

The good thing, though, is at least I didn’t get stuck in the Newark airport for two days. Yikes!

So here’s to snow-free travels tomorrow!

I should (or at least I’m hoping I will) have access to The Internets whilst in France, so I will keep the blog updated with my adventures.

SoD 06

SoD 06

I served as a co-editor and a contributor to SoD 06 (School of Design). The book features student essays from a Design Issues course at RIT in the fall of 2006. The book is available at Lulu. Proceeds from the book go to help fund future RIT class publishing.

My essay was about the dangers and failures of electronic voting machines:

Instead of a front seat, hands-on approach to the situation, the federal government is merely providing states the funds to acquire electronic voting equipment. Through the Help America Vote Act of 2002, passed by Congress after the punch card nightmare in the 2000 presidential election, the federal government is forcing states to buy the equipment to replace older voting technologies, such as punch cards and lever machines (U.S. Election Assistance Commission). Indeed, the federal government is forcing states to buy into a faulty, untrustworthy product, a product with the capability of severely crippling our democracy.

Given these high stakes, actions to solve the numerous security and verification problems of electronic voting machines must be a top priority for the federal government and every citizen. Several academic and state-commissioned reports have cited the gaping lapses in adequate technological development of electronic voting machines. Until those lapses are resolved and the federal government provides guidelines and standards for the use and manufacture of electronic voting machines, the machines should not be approved for use in conducting elections. The current machines administering the elections cannot be trusted to provide accurate election results, and if the machines cannot be trusted, then neither can the elections.


So I received my iPod Touch this morning, and I’m actually typing this post from my iPod! I’ve only played with it for about twenty minutes, but I think it’s awesome so far!

“Warm Out Today”

In 1979 and 2002, Phoenix had a record 28 days of 110° or more. Well as of yesterday, this year we’ve had 30!

Reminds me of a quote from “Family Guy”:


Life in Phoenix

palms and sun

It’s hot. That’s what life is here in the summer. But there’s always A/C and swimming pools to keep cool.

Not too much to report thus far. I’ve been trying to get settled and organized with the things I brought in the car. Early next week, likely Monday, the moving truck is supposed to come with the rest of my things, so I’ll be doing plenty of unpacking and organizing next week.

We’ve had a couple of nasty storms this week. Being out in the desert, you assume it doesn’t rain too much. Well that’s true it doesn’t rain, it monsoons. You see driving on some streets that have dips in them not to enter when flooded. Any normal day the signs seem like a joke, but they really aren’t a joke. The rain comes down so hard and so fast it has no place to go but in the streets and low-lying areas.

One thing about the area, there’s no shortage of things to take pictures of!

camelback and trees

Travel Update, Day 3, Final Stretch

The day started off with the car being repaired:

car repair

The fuel pump was replaced, but the great thing about it was that it was free. We walked out of the dealership with a bill for zero dollars and zero cents. Apparently when they inputted the part into the computer to see if they had the part and to see how much it cost, some kind of flag came up indicating the part would be replaced at no cost to us (it was like a recall, but not actually a recall). The mechanic said otherwise, we would have been looking at an $800 bill. So if any good was to come of our stop-over in New Mexico, this was it. Oh, and the other good thing was the super friendly and personable staff at the dealership. Incredibly nice people that definitely made the ordeal smoother.

Saw this sign traveling through New Mexico anyone know how to pronounce this town?

nm sign

In New Mexico, all the highway construction or repair projects had signs posted informing the public of the contractor and the cost of the project.


At the divide:


The final state of our journey, and apparently you can’t park here:


Just off the highway was the Petrified Forest National Park, so we took a three-hour detour and did some sightseeing since we had time to.

petrified forest 1

The Painted Desert:

petrified forest 2

Etchings from past inhabitants of the area:

petrified forest 3

“The Teepees” rock formations:

petrified forest 4

Petrified wood — although it looks like regular wood, the wood has turned into stone. The trees lived some 225 million years ago:

petrified forest 5

We hiked a trail down into some rock formations and forest remnants. We were the only people down in the area, which was pretty far from the road. The setting was amazing not only was the scenery awesome to look at, but there was absolutely no sound anywhere. Dead silence. The only sounds we heard were the ones we were making. Incredibly peaceful and serene.

petrified forest 6

In this particular sample, the rock has crystalized:

petrified forest 7

Local wildlife:

petrified forest 8

petrified forest 9

Back on the road, we saw this dog enjoying the ride:


Northern Arizona has a forest-like climate, much different than the desert Phoenix area:

az drive

Almost there:

phoenix 72

The saguaro cacti are finally in view:


I almost missed this sign coming in on the highway, but you get the idea:


Overall, the drive was very good. Definitely not as boring as I thought it was going to be, probably because I’ve never been through any of the places we drove through. I’m glad we arrived safely, if only a little late, but that allowed us time to spend at the national park.

Now it’s time to settle into my new home.

map 4

Travel Update, Day 3, Part 2

It’s about 10 till midnight here. We arrived in Phoenix earlier, but I’m too pooped to post anything big right now. I’ll have the final day’s update tomorrow.

Travel Update, Day 3

It’s 6:10 in the AM here in New Mexico. We’re going to grab some breakfast at the hotel and take the car to be repaired. The repair is supposed to take a couple hours, so we’ll be very late getting on the road. Hopefully we make it to Phoenix today!

Travel Update, Day 2

Well day number 2 has come and gone for us. We had hoped to be in Phoenix tonight, but our plans changed. Our driving was going too smoothly thus far. More on this later.

Leaving Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh-klahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise. I thought it would be a good idea to both be driving and taking pictures at the same time:

sun mirror


The second state of the day, the “proud home” of the president:


I’ve never seen this before a speed limit for the day time and one for the night time:


Everything’s bigger in Texas, and so are the steaks. Finish this 6-pound bad boy in an hour and it’s free:


The third, and unfortunately final, state of the day:


Traveling through:


So, we were traveling through New Mexico, almost to Albuquerque and having traveled about eight hours on the day (at this point it’s about noon). As we were going up a hill, the car started jerking slightly. A little more and I asked my dad what that was. He didn’t know. I didn’t know. Then the car started jerking very badly. Going up another hill, the car lost all forward power and we came to a halt. He thought we might have filled up with some bad fuel, so he put some fuel additive in the fuel tank. We started back up and continued on for a few more miles. Then the jerking returned, this time with the “check engine” light illuminated. Luckily, we were just coming up to a rest area, so we crawled off the highway to the rest area.

We called AAA, told them our troubles, so they dispatched a tow truck, saying the truck would be there within an hour. Well, the truck didn’t come until two-and-a-half hours later. In the mean time, I took some more pictures:



Finally the truck arrived, and of course at this time a thunderstorm rolled through:


We were towed to a Ford dealership about a half-hour down the road. From the description of what went wrong, the tow truck driver and the mechanics at the dealership all said the fuel pump needed replaced. The heat in conjunction with pushing the car hard driving can cause the fuel pump to fail and cause it not to feed the car any fuel, hence the chugging and forward-power failing. Luckily, they have a part in stock, but they can’t work on the car until tomorrow morning. So now we have nothing to do and no place to go.

The mechanics told us we could still drive the car, but just not too far, so we found a hotel and that’s where we are now, about 50 miles outside Albuquerque, New Mexico.

While we wanted to be in Phoenix tonight, we’re stuck in New Mexico, but at least we’ll get a good night’s rest tonight! Here’s to an uneventful driving day tomorrow.

map 3

Travel Update, Day 1

Well here I am at the end of travel day #1. It was a long, long day driving as we ended up driving a little over 1,000 miles, or about half-way. Here are some highlights:

Leaving Ohio:



State #3 notice the silhouette of Abe?


Really big cross:


Show-Me State:


Gateway Arch:


Trying to be creative while in a car and passing things at 60 mph:

arch mirror

These billboards were everywhere:


And so were these (with some in close proximity to those above!):


Driving through Missouri:

mo drive

Final state of the day:


So all this traveling has put us in Oklahoma City for the night. Updated travel map:

map 2

Leavin’ Not on a Jet Plane

Well it’s about 4:30… just about ready to go. Car’s all packed… just have to add the computer!

On the Road Again

In a few short hours, I will begin the second leg of my trip from Rochester, NY, to Phoenix, AZ. This past week I’ve been in Ohio after moving from Rochester. The trip is supposed to take about 31 hours driving to Phoenix from Ohio, but we’ll see how long it actually takes.

Here’s the route below. The red is territory covered, the blue is territory remaining:

map 1

I hope to have internet access along the way so I can blog my way to Phoenix. If not, I shall return a Phoenician.

Counting the Vote

I’ve finally completed my Masters thesis project, entitled “Counting the Vote: An Interactive Study of Electoral College Reform.” Viewable at: www.joehribar.com/countingthevote


In the project, users can learn about the Electoral College, several reform proposals to alter the system, and finally in the last section, users can select a past presidential election (2004-1984) and a reform proposal to see if or how that proposal could have changed the outcome of that election.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the outcome. Eventually I’d like to add more elections to see if or how they could change. Until then, enjoy.