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 North Carolina’s Vote

On the topic of Electoral College reform, North Carolina is headed towards altering how the state awards electoral votes. Constitutionally-speaking, it is up to the states to decide how they wish to allot electoral votes. Except for Maine and Nebraska, every state and D.C. currently award all electoral votes to whichever candidate receives the greatest plurality of popular votes in the state, a method known as the winner-take-all method.

Maine and Nebraska employ the district allocation method. With this plan, each candidate is awarded one electoral vote for each congressional district won in the state. The winner of the state popular vote is awarded the state’s final two electoral votes.

Since Nebraska adopted this plan in 1972 and Maine in 1996, neither state has ever split their electoral votes even though they are set-up for such a scenario. North Carolina, though, would likely split their electoral votes.

As computed by my thesis, here are some past results:

Bush: 11
Kerry: 4

Bush: 11
Gore: 3

Dole: 11
Clinton: 3

Bush: 9
Clinton: 5

Bush: 12
Dukakis: 1

Reagan: 13
Mondale: 0

So, things could get interesting next year. Although North Carolina splitting electoral votes isn’t likely going to change much in the national electoral count, this little experiment could prove interesting for the future of the Electoral College.

Counting the Vote

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


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.

President Gore

Gotta love people who can make fun of themselves and have a good time doing it.

Dirty Talk


Money Matters

The New York Times has a really cool interactive map detailing contributions to the 2008 presidential candidates.

Let the Sunshine In


Burning fossil fuels and coal to produce energy no doubt have an impact on global warming. Being dependent on foreign oil to produce gasoline for our vehicles no doubt has an impact on our national security. So why is there not a serious, all-out push for new power and fuel sources? I’m not too sure there really is a solid answer to that question.

What I don’t understand is that we have a huge, gaseous body beating energy down at us every day and we’re not seriously tapping into this free, clean, and uber-renewable source of energy. From The New York Times:

But for all the enthusiasm about harvesting sunlight, some of the most ardent experts and investors say that moving this energy source from niche to mainstream last year it provided less than 0.01 percent of the country’s electricity supply is unlikely without significant technological breakthroughs. And given the current scale of research in private and government laboratories, that is not expected to happen anytime soon.

Even a quarter century from now, says the Energy Department official in charge of renewable energy, solar power might account for, at best, 2 or 3 percent of the grid electricity in the United States.

Within 8 years we made a pledge to put a man on the moon and fulfilled that pledge; in 5 years we made a commitment to building atomic weapons and we did it. The need for alternative energy is massively apparent. Why can’t we commit ourselves to a massive, Manhattan-Project-esque research venture to achieve this need? The sun has been shining; we’re just not letting it in.

The Dream Goes On

us flag

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

By changing only a handful of words throughout Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the address can still be relevant to modern times. By honoring those who have gone before us and those who have given the last full measure of devotion in support and defense of this nation, we can rise up to meet their sacrifices and restore hope in our mighty American Dream.

There are a great many problems facing this nation today. There are a great many people around the world who would wish ill on this nation today. And there are a great many reasons to feel all hope is lost.

But the most wonderful aspect about our nation is that the United States is more than tangible things. It’s more than bricks and mortar. It’s more than the computers, the corn fields, and the cars that all sustain the material world we know.

America is about people, about resiliency, about ideas. Yes, we are today experiencing rough times both at home and abroad. We look into the past and see golden times and then look at what we have today and see downtrodden times. But the beauty that is American is in the American Dream. The real bricks and mortar of America is an idea. The idea of equality; the idea of success; the idea of hope. Hope that one day things will get better.

When the nation gets lost in the woods, the idea returns us to a safe path. When we are wandering aimlessly looking for the light switch, the idea shows us the light. The idea reasons with us that no matter how bad things are or how bad we think things will become, the American Dream is bigger than any one person or any one problem.

Evil-doers may destroy buildings, cars, forests, markets, or houses, but they cannot destroy the American Dream. The dream goes on. And that’s what makes this country great.

Happy Independence Day.

(Photo: Andrea Church / MorgueFile)


A cool site with tons of interactive polls. You can even see in real-time other site users voting in the polls. Wicked cool and easy to get lost on the site.

All Tied Up

Looking for creative ways to lace and tie your shoes? Look no further.

The Man with the Hat Is Back

Proof that not everything in the world has gone bad.


These recut trailers work the best when the new version is so drastically different from the actual film. This one’s still one of the best.

“Scary Mary”

Time to lighten things up a bit around here. You thought Mary Poppins was a sweet, charming lady? Think again.

We’ll Give You a Call

Refreshing spin on vote-for-me ads from Democratic presidential hopeful and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson:

Zipped Up

Ever wonder how the numbering for U.S. zip codes works? Ben Fry shows us how it’s done.

Not Your Momma’s Instant Message Program

Red Interactive Agency is taking online communication to the next level.

Moral High Ground

Finally a high-ranking official speaks out against torture: a letter [PDF] from General David Petraeus, commanding general in Iraq, to American troops in Iraq. I sincerely hope a copy was hand-delivered to the president, vice president, and attorney general.   Quote:

Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we not our enemies occupy the moral high ground.

Morally Opposed

I heard this story on NPR on the drive home today: the Bush Administration is manipulating science. While I was listening to the story, I thought to myself that I’ve heard this before about the administration. So when I got home, I decided to do some digging. Well, a quick search on The Internets came up with these stories:

Quote from the last article:

In my more than three decades in the government I’ve never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public.

James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2006

Why is the Bush Administration seemingly at war with science? Simply because they don’t believe in science? This not only is shockingly irresponsible but it’s alarmingly dangerous. We’re talking about the future of our planet and life on it.

This reminds me of other service professionals refusing to do their job because they have a moral objection to something: pharmacists who deny customers birth control. I understand that not everyone can agree with everything and everyone else’s opinions, but if you refuse to do your job, that’s stepping way over the line, as that Slate article rightfully illustrates. Quote:

But if a pharmacist doesn’t have to dispense birth control, or an EMT can refuse to drive someone to an abortion clinic, or a nurse can refuse a rape victim emergency contraception, none of us can really trust in the professionals around us at those moments when we need them the most.

So let me put this in perspective with myself. I abhor Internet Explorer because of its developers’ refusal to follow web standards. You might say I’m morally opposed to it. So as a web designer/developer, does that mean I can refuse to cater to viewers of my sites who are using IE? Does that mean I can embed some script that detects if my users are browsing with IE and instead of showing them my site show them some heinous personal message lecturing them on why they shouldn’t be using IE? Absolutely not.

Do I hate that people use IE? Yes. Do I still serve them with a begrudging smile? Of course. Do I wish they were using something other than IE? You bet. My job, like pharmacists and government officials, is to serve my customers. I may not like what they like or even believe in what they believe in, but that’s not what I’m here for, and it’s certainly not what service professionals and government officials are there for.

“Not Right Now, Condi. We’ll Play Later.”

I’m not really a Will Ferrell fan, but this is absolutely brilliant.

Liberals and God-less tax-raisers are trying to make me look bad by using such things as “facts”…. Think back to Biblical times…it was hot back then. Why do you think Adam and Eve were naked?