Friday, September 29, 2006

Potpourri No. 14

It’s been five months since I’ve busted out the potpourri and it’s starting to get a bit stuffy in here. It’s time to clear the air!

Gas Pains
In moving from Salt Lake City to Atlanta, I was certain gas prices would be a bit steeper. This hasn’t been the case. In fact, it turns out SLC has some of the highest prices in the nation (as my friend recently discussed here). I’m Shell (and Sinclair, and Chevron, etc.) shocked, but obviously pleased that at least one aspect of ATL is going to be cheaper. In fact, I filled up my car for about $21 the other day, the least I’ve paid in who knows how long. How much did I pay per gallon? Just $2.11! Blimey!

Plenty of Time for Chinese Fire Drills
While on the theme of transportation, I initially reported that Atlanta traffic hadn’t bogged me down as much as I’d expected. When it comes to the Interstate, that is mostly true—it does tend to keep moving, even when horrendously slow. However, I’ve had plenty of experiences since that time that have made me feel livid, and almost all of them have been on the regular roads. There is one street in particular, about 2.5 miles from my apartment, where many a business resides. When I went for a haircut this week, I had to drive this road for just under two miles. Thanks to my receding hairline, my haircut took about five minutes. Getting to the haircut establishment took about 35-40 minutes. No, I’m not kidding. And when Melanie and I braved this road for the sake of buying the new Barenaked Ladies album, it took us even longer to go even less distance. I’m starting to doubt that I’ll feel heartbroken when I leave Atlanta two years from now.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
Speaking of the new Barenaked Ladies album, there have been some pleasant developments in the world of entertainment. In conjunction with their new music, BNL has added Atlanta to their list of tour stops. Melanie and I have been to four BNL concerts over their last three tours, so we’re incredibly hopeful that we can make it to their November 9th performance. We’re looking for babysitters, so please leave your pertinent info in a comment! Aside from music, Amazing Race debuted its tenth season a couple of weeks ago. Catch it Sunday nights on CBS. And did I mention that Melanie and I have cable TV? This is not something we had ever planned on acquiring, but I’ll write more about it later—it’s a story worthy of its own post.

Does This Baby Come with GPS?
Question of the week: why do babies want you to be standing when you hold them? How can they tell a difference? Edison has followed infantile tradition and, quite often, fusses unless you’re on your feet whilst you hold him. And I thought I’d read my schoolbooks while taking care of the little guy. Silly me.

My Better Half and Then Some
Melanie has done a much better job getting pictures of Edison on the web and reporting on his latest habits. I discreetly added her blog to my sidebar a few months ago, but I’m now giving it a wholehearted and boisterous endorsement. Check it out here! I guess it’s sad that I have to point my readers to another page in order to keep up on the most important facets of my life, but so be it…

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Atlanta Chronicles: Homeland Security

As I reported in my first posting about Atlanta, I’ve felt safer in my new town than I ever could have expected. Even now, having grown accustomed to a daily commute downtown via public transit, my opinion hasn’t changed. I have never felt leery of the situations or places I’ve encountered. Still, when it comes to safety concerns, there are a few things Atlanta has taught me, namely that…

1. Gated communities provide about as much protection as standing behind the automatic sliding doors at the supermarket. I know because now I live in one—a gated community, that is, not a supermarket. Luckily, this wasn’t a selling point when I signed my lease; otherwise, I’d be sorely disappointed. To begin with, it’s incredibly rare that one actually needs the gate keycard to get in. During my first week of living in my new apartment, I had to use my card about 30% of the time. The rest of the time, another car had entered recently enough that the gate was still wide open and you could just pull through. On the rare occasion that the gate isn’t already open, you can just as easily pull over and wait one or two minutes before someone else will let you in (whether wanting to or not). When I do use my card, it’s not uncommon for two or three other cars to make it in on my swipe. And, for about two weeks now, the “out” gate has been stuck open anyway. Heck, I’ve stopped to swipe my card for access to the “in” gate and had impatient people zoom around me to go through the “out” gate just to save those few seconds of waiting. So, while I may be slightly less likely to be the victim of a random act of crime, I hardly feel protected.

2. Beggars can be stingy. On my first day of school at Georgia State University, I came out of the downtown train station feeling somewhat disoriented. As such I took off in the exact opposite direction of my school. Before long I was skeptical about my whereabouts, and as I tried to figure out where I was and where I needed to go, a man started following me around asking me for money. I offered him some change, but he quickly quelled my apparent naivete by explaining that his cross-town rendezvous would require several dollars. I then offered him a dollar, which apparently offended him, or so I’m guessing by his disgusted retort of, “Oh c’mon, man!” I told him that I too had to take a bus trip later that day and could spare no more, and finally he obliged to accept my donation. Which leaves me thinking, homeless people would simultaneously save money and eliminate 80% of begging if they stopped making appointments all over town (what appointments are they making anyway???). I understand their wanting to hold homeless conventions in the nicer, suburban parks, but why not cross the street to the downtown park that you’re planning to sleep in that night anyway? Beggars may not be able to be choosers, but surely they can be more pragmatic! (Momentary Academic had a similar run-in with an ungrateful vagabond—see here.)

3. Cellular phones cause crime sprees as well as brain cancer and car wrecks. It seems everywhere here has a policy against using cell phones while transacting business. While I could make sense of this if you were, say, at a gaming table in a casino, I’m talking about the mundane business we all take part in on a regular basis. Convenience stores, banks, and the like all have signs prohibiting the use of cellular phones while one is at the counter. I even heard a bus driver tell a passenger not to talk on his cell phone while he tried to ask the driver a question. Surely there’s a reason for this, and it’s easy enough to assume it has to do with security. But, failing to be a criminal mastermind, I’ve yet to figure out how a contemporaneous telephone conversation could aid you in committing armed robbery. I suppose you could be instructing your get-away driver when to pull the car around, or describing something key about the particular situation you’re in (number of employees on the premises, guards, cameras, etc.). But, with plenty of people text-messaging more fluently than they can speak, couldn’t all of this “sensitive” information be getting passed along from the discreet confines of one’s own pocket? If an actual phone call were in progress, at least you’d know what information is being communicated.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Two Years and Still Sucking

Happy birthday to my blog. It was two years ago today that I first made my Weblogging appearance, and I’m proud to see that my page just keeps on sucking (though sometimes more than others—read that how you will). I remember announcing my one-year anniversary in 2005, and it’s hard to believe another year has already passed. And what a monumental year it has been! I’ve gone from being a single, childless, classics student in Salt Lake City, Utah to a happily married father and master’s student of philosophy in Atlanta, Georgia. My day-to-day life scarcely resembles what it did the last time I celebrated a blog birthday. For the most part, this is a wonderful thing. I’m inching ever so slightly toward the life I’ve always dreamed of and anticipated. I wouldn’t go back one year for a million dollars … I’m not sure how literally I mean that, but it’s fairly accurate.

Although I feel there’s much I could ramble on about, it would be inappropriate to commemorate the passing of another year by talking only about these last few weeks. But, rather than rehash the self-congratulatory and self-serving annual recap I provided last year, I thought I’d present an interactive (re: fun!) quiz to test your knowledge of the previous twelve months of Sucking on Oranges. This way we forgo the self-congratulations and stick purely to the self-serving. It’s as close to a win-win situation as we’re going to get.

Now I know my posting frequency has dwindled since I got married, and even more so since I’ve had a son and moved across the country. In turn I believe few people even look at my blog anymore, and if they do, they don’t do so very often. That means nobody should expect to do well on the quiz. But that’s beside the point. Taking it will both bring you up to speed on my life and, hopefully, cause a modest amount of amusement to swell within your breast (or, in certain cases, boob).

Without further ado, I now present the Sucking on Oranges Two-Year Anniversary Quiz o’ Spectacularity!