Monthly Archives: February 2011

happy hour

today’s tasty beverage is fresh squeezed orange juice from my tree, vodka, a splash of vanilla extract, and a few mint leaves.

i almost went with sage, but i thought i would go more classic. that, and i have twice as much mint as sage, and sage is tastier friend in butter than swimming in alcohol.

this screwdriver pairs well with darning sweaters and mending torn pockets.

making this up

sometimes it is nice to live in the desert.

like right now. when it’s seventy five degrees out.

and the citrus ripens.

this is my evening (4:57pm counts as five, right?) cocktail.

gin, tonic, homemade grapefruit syrup, and slices of orange.

grapefruit and orange compliments of my front yard.

syrup compliments of travis.

interview with bree

Bree and I went to the same high school. I guess. We didn’t really know each other then, although we were probably only about two people removed. Her friend (and future husband Ty) was friends with my friend Beth. Then about a year or two ago, Erin started chatting with her on the twitters.  So I did too.  And then Erin was all, “Hey let’s start #ClubAwesome-you, me and Bree!” And I was all, “Yeah! We are awesome. Let’s start this club.” So then I went to her house and met her. Or did we meet before then?  Anyway, Bree is awesome. And so is this interview.

JM: Tell us a little about yourself.

BKQ: My name is Bryony Kathleen Mackey.  No, I was not supposed to be a boy, and no, my mother did not invent my name.  I was named for the heroine in the Mary Stewart novel ‘Touch Not the Cat’ which for some reason I can’t bring myself to read.  Useless knowledge: Bryonia is a genus of flowering vine in the cucumber family native to the UK and neighboring regions, mainly North Africa & South Asia.  It used to be used in medicines, namely sedatives, until they figured out that it’s generally poisonous.

I am currently 31 years old, born on the 20th of September which makes me a Virgo, although I’ll say I’m 90% Virgo, 10% Libra since I am much more A-type personality than the average Virgo.  But the anal-retentiveness I’ve got down pat.  Useless knowledge: coincidentally to my name, September is considered the vine month in Celtic Astrology.

I am in my third, wonderful year of marriage to Ty Mackey.  He still won’t let me forget the time I didn’t go to Homecoming with him.  (I already had a date.)

I am the youngest of 3 girls.

I currently earn a living as a HTML Programmer and Application Developer for a financial services company.  I have no formal training for IT or programming at all, but rather a BS in Business Management and Equine Management. I find IT suits me fairly well as it’s a male-dominated field and I generally get on better with guys than girls.  Also, I’m not what you’d call a ‘people-person’ so the less human interaction, the better.

If I had to fit myself in a nutshell (that’s gonna be one big nutshell): I am an insufferable know-it-all.  I’ve been a bullrider, a soldier, a team roper and reiner.  I’ve lived in a housing project and been on food stamps.  I adore Apple products and believe Microsoft to be evil.  I was an NCAA All-American swimmer.  I played collegiate water polo.  I was president of my sorority, Lambda Zeta Theta.  I was secretary of the National Collegiate Honor Society, Gamma Beta Phi.  I was president of the Business Honor Society, Delta Mu Delta.  I am mildly bi-polar/manic depressive and mathematically dyslexic.  I read the Iliad and the Odyssey for the first time in 5th grade.  I’ve never done drugs.  My motto is (sometimes unfortunately) ‘How hard can it be?’  (That or ‘Everybody Wang Chung Tonight’)


JM: What does an equine manager do?

BKQ: We just manage equines…OK, for real an equine manager would generally run a stable/ranch.  When I was little my dream was to own my own stud farm and racing stable.  (I was big on Black Stallion books.)  I started college as just an equine major, but quickly realized I’m far too materialistic, and the odds I could get a really good paying job in that field are null.  I kept with it because I had my mare at the time, so like all other things I just wanted to learn as much as I could.  It was pretty fascinating.  I took classes on barn construction and architecture, feeds and feeding along with anatomy and physiology.  We also had general farm animal classes so I know a lot about pigs, cows, sheep, dogs, etc.  Little known fact about me is that I know how to artificially inseminate a horse.  That’s always Plan C at work.  Because by the time Plans A & B fail, there’s nothing left to do but that.


JM: What does it mean to be a geek?

BKQ: Wow…I’ve typed and erased like three paragraphs so far on this question.  In general, I’d say most geeks love sci-fi, gaming, and comic books, among other things.  I used to be terrified of people finding out just how much I loved Star Wars, or comics.  To me, I guess being a proud, adult geek means that I don’t need my likes and actions validated by other people.  I love the things I love because, well…I love them.  I think a geek is someone who is just fanatical about something.  Whether its sci-fi or rock collecting, it’s just about loving something that brings you joy.

One thing that makes me a little sad is that some people won’t accept someone as a geek if they don’t fit a certain profile.  Geek culture like mainstream culture has a caste system of its own.  For example, one time when I was at a Browncoat Shindig, a girl snottily asked me if I was sure I was in the right place.  Not to be too disparaging, she was probably what most normal people picture a geek girl to be: greasy hair, no makeup, overweight…not generally attractive.  When I told her I was there for the Shindig, she told me there’s no way I could be a real geek because I was pretty and wearing designer clothes.  After I proved my geek cred in a conversation, she did accept me, and we became friends.  But she assumed that because I care about my appearance there’s no way I could make a serious, scientifically backed argument about how a lightsaber could not cut adamantium.  (It can’t)*


JM: Does Ty share any of your “geeky” interests?

BKQ: Not really.  I mainly married him for his money.  And his body.  So we don’t have much in common.  He likes some of the stuff I’m into, he really liked Firefly and Battlestar Galactica.  He likes Angel and Big Bang Theory (which he should, since he’s married to Sheldon) but hates Buffy.  I took him to a Serenity screening once and we’ll just say it wasn’t really his thing.  He tolerates my idiosyncrasies pretty well, and I like to think he thinks they’re cute rather than annoying.


JM: How do you find balance between your “geek” self and your “rodeo” self?

BKQ: I don’t think it’s so much about balance as it is about just plain being me.  Like I mentioned above, people make assumptions that someone can’t be something (smart, funny, great backgammon player) because of something else.  Growing up I didn’t think I could be a girly girl and a tomboy at the same time.  Girly girls were weak!  They weren’t strong!  They couldn’t play football and fight.  But somewhere along the line I had an epiphany…and just like that I thought “Um…Why not?  Why can’t I be both?”  That question probably drives most of my life.  ”Why not?”  I think the most fascinating people are those who are just bursting with layers, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t try to be one of those people.

I like to surprise people; it’s fun to watch their pre-conceived notions fall away.  At work, I showed up to a guy’s desk and he didn’t believe I was actually an official IT person because I’m a girl.  I’m surprised his head didn’t explode when he found out that I rode bulls, I knit and crochet, I bake breads from scratch and can (have) replaced the clutch in a vehicle.  I love rodeo and the western lifestyle.  I love the smell of manure and hay.  I love getting into discussions about how I think the most genius thing George Lucas did was blame the entire Clone War on Jar Jar Binks, who’s probably one of the most hated characters in the Star Wars ‘verse.

I think my beliefs are aptly summed up in my favorite quote from Robert Heinlein:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.


JM: When do you sleep?

BKQ: It’s funny you ask that, because I don’t like sleep very much.  It’s highly improbable that you’ll ever find me napping, and if you do I’m pretty ill.  Ty and I both work early, so we’re usually in bed by 7:30pm.  I’m a total morning person, which I don’t think I came by naturally.  Growing up I got up at 4:30am for swimming every day, so you get used to it.  I feel like sleeping is a waste of time, wish I didn’t have to do it at all.  I’ve definitely got the H in ADHD because down time in general is not something I enjoy.  Ty sleeps enough for the both of us; he can fall asleep anytime, anywhere and can sleep through a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.


JM: Would you like to share an internet link?

BKQ: Fark.com My favorite website ever, because nothing is sacred there.  It restores my faith that I’m not the only insensitive asshole around.


* JM: Why can’t a light saber cut adamantium? (I really want to know).

BKQ: Preface: this argument assumes we’re talking about the most well-known form of Adamantium which would be the man-made metal alloy invented by Dr. Myron MacLain, a metallurgist in the Marvel Universe, which is bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton.  There are some other types of Adamantium which exist in the MU, but I’m not getting into those.  I’m also not getting into the Earth-1610 reality (Ultimate Marvel Universe) where Adamantium exists, but has some different properties.  We are taking into account the light sabers of the Star Wars Expanded Universe as well as cannon.

With that said, here’s a little background on Adamantium.  It’s formed by mixing certain chemical resins (few know the exact formula) and keeping the mixture at approximately 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.  The liquid can be molded into a shape, and after 8 minutes becomes solid.  The shape of Adamantium can only be altered by the migration of an atom or bond, otherwise known as molecular rearrangement.  However, the molecular structure is highly stable, making this unlikely.  I believe that currently the only thing which is known to be able to pierce Adamantium would be Antarctic Vibranium or ‘anti-metal’.  (Useless knowledge: Dr. MacLain created a vibranium/steel alloy which was used to forge Captain America’s shield.)

In the Star Wars Universe, there are more than a few rare materials which can withstand a light saber blade (aside from the blade of another lightsaber).  Some of these materials even cause the blade to short out.  Basically, a lightsaber is high levels of energy converted to plasma by a series of focusing lenses and energizers.  The plasma is projected through focusing crystal(s) which lend the blade its color and allow for adjustment of power and length.  The plasma is sent through a series of field energizers after being focused by the crystals, and then being further focused by modulation circuitry, it becomes the beautiful, coherent beam of energy we all know and love.  A lightsaber blade does not expend energy or radiate heat until it comes into contact with something solid.  I did a quick Google, but was unable to find an approximate temperature, because I’m guessing it would depend on the material it’s in contact with.

Useless knowledge: one item which many people may be familiar with which is lightsaber-resistant is the Mandalorian Armor worn by the bounty hunter Boba Fett.

So anyhow.  Now that I wrote that all out, did a bunch of Google searches to check my facts and realized if I had been this interested in Algebra I’d probably be a much better programmer I’ll come to my scintillating conclusion:

A lightsaber cannot cut Adamantium because it does not possess a molecular reorganizer, nor does it have the properties to cause a chemical reaction which could (in theory) cause molecular reorganization.  Assuming a lightsaber could reach the temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit without destroying the focusing crystals and/or the handle construction (not to mention the holders skin, Midichlorian count notwithstanding), Adamantium cannot be ‘re-liquified’ after being molded.  So you couldn’t melt it like Plasteel, Transparisteel or some alloys of Durasteel which we see lightsabers melting through in the SW movies.

Phew.  That totally could have been my thesis.


(‘zombie stompers’)


Thanks again to Bree for participating in this interview! Please feel free to ask her any of your questions in the comments below.

interview with scott

For my next interview, I chose a volunteer who I didn’t really know. Scott is a person I “know” through Twitter. We follow each other because of our mutual friend Joe. Scott drives a semi around the country and brings bags of potato chips back for Joe. (Joe has a weakness for potato chips. I am not sure if he’s looking for the perfect chip or just enjoys trying all the strange flavors that are available all over the country. My favorite chip is Chile Limon by Lays-pairs well with string cheese. I’m classy like that.) Scott and I had our first real conversation sitting at the high top at Liberty Market about two weeks before this interview so I could get a better sense of what kind of questions I wanted to ask him.

JM: Tell us a little about yourself.

SK: I am an East Coast (Florida-born, North Carolina-raised) Arizonan.

I am 29 (soon 30).

I am the oldest of 4 children (I have 2 sisters and a brother)

I drive a semi.

I LOVE music and I also write everyday (with the rare exception) and also take a camera (cheap point and shoot) with me wherever I go just in case I find something interesting to photograph. I also enjoy Twitter too. And things that have good design.

JM: You are a truck driver. I think that actually sounds romantic-driving the country, listening to music, eating at diners, meeting interesting people…tell us more about it and how you got into it.

SK: I got into truck driving only because I got bored with what I was doing (being a student at ASU) and was tired of not having money and bills for things I didn’t want to have to wait to pay without high interest payments, so I decided that my Plan B (school) was just not working and to go with my original plan (truck driving). I had decided a few years before what I liked and didn’t like and at least wanted to try for an education first. (I do have an Associate’s). But, that didn’t work, so I went to trucking. And that’s what I’ve done for around 3 and a half years now. It’s an okay job. Not too romantic as it IS a job with pressures and deadlines, MOUNDS of paperwork. It’s also essentially a retail job too in the sense it is all about customer service and the irregular odd hours I work. It is a good job though with pretty good pay for what I do. I could say I am proud of what I do, although, there is a few caveats. The stereotype of a trucker does hold true in some respects and it’s a strange culture too. The food is mostly fast food now and a lot of the truck stops are corporate chains. It’s kind of sad in a way.Tthat being said, I still like to find the few not corporate truck stops as often as I can. Usually, they’ll have different or regional food that I’m out looking for. That is why I like my job, I really do like it because I get to visit a lot of places most people don’t. America is a big beautiful place. It has everything. It really does. I’ve been nearly everywhere too, with the exception of Maine and Rhode Island. (I only drive 48 states.) I’ve seen some amazing things too. Lots of sunrises and sunsets. Seen lots of wildlife (a bald eagle in the wild!) and the changing of seasons too, although I don’t like driving in the winter. I’ve also been able to use what I do to visit places too like New Orleans and Salt Lake City and Santa Barbara and go enjoy a few baseball games (both major and minor league) in other cities too. I do like what I do. I’ve seen a lot.

JM: Have you made any friends in the trucking industry? Do you have a “handle” on the CB? (Is that what it’s called?)

SK: Not really. Trucking is still kind of like a brotherhood/camaraderie kind of a thing. Other truckers do talk with one another and usually it’s the same story (management/government regulations/complaining). That has also fallen by the wayside too. No, I don’t have a CB (and yes it is still called a handle). Reason why? There is honestly nothing good to listen too unless if you like listening to misogyny/xenophobia/homophobia/racism. It’s. Awful. When I did have one, this is all I heard. Just terrible. Thankfully, it shorted out and I never got one again.

JM: I’ve heard you’re supposed to flash your brights when passing a semi. Is that true?

SK: Yes and no. Depends on who you talk to. Cars do this if the person is impatient and don’t think I know they’re there. Trust me, I have 6 mirrors, I KNOW you’re there. Trucks do that (or dim their lights) to let the other truck has enough clearance to safely pass one another.

JM: What is your favorite part of the country?

SK: Ah, my favorite place(s) in America? It really depends. My favorite region of the US, by far, is the Pacific Northwest because of the beauty that is up there, particularly the Spokane, WA/Coeur d’Alene, ID area. It’s a perfect balance of city versus rural. Plus it’s green, all four seasons and weather is temperate enough and so are the people. I love it up there. But I’ve also enjoyed driving though the Bronx and watching the Sun start to rise through that part of NYC. It was almost like watching a movie. I also love driving along the Plains and being able to see “forever”. It’s an amazing sight. I also like being on the coast (Pacific, East or Gulf) and the smell of it. I love the smell of the ocean.

JM: You love music. How was that developed in your life? Who are your favorite bands?

SK: Music. Hmm, I’ve always been surrounded by music ever since I was little. Growing up as a kid in the South, it was mostly country that I listened too (we had 6 radio stations) and also growing up in a Christian household we listened to a lot of Christian music too, mostly contemporary Christian music, although my dad still had his record collection which was a lot of party-like 45′s (think Purple People Eater) and Stevie Wonder and his favorite country artist, Ronnie Milsap. Also, I did learn music as a kid, took piano lessons and I can still read (or at least figure out) musical notation. I’ve also taken guitar lessons at least 5 times, but it’s too time consuming, I’d rather enjoy music. That being said, I do enjoy it a lot. I’m always listening to something whether new or old. I’ve been collecting records (CD/vinyl) since about the time I moved here, about 13 years ago. I still love buying CDs mostly because it’s something you can hold onto, there’s artwork, liner notes. It’s much more than just a commodity or something you can download. It IS art. I really do love music though because of the way it can feel and make you feel too. See, I am more of a person who likes how a song is constructed (produced/mixed/built) versus what most people look for in a song (vocals/instruments). I look for what the music through its production and how it was produced is trying to say, what the underlying emotion is. And with that, a lot of the songs I enjoy are by artists who do it themselves or those who do a majority of their song craft themselves. I don’t really enjoy watching some corporate crap like “American Idol” because it is exactly what I hate about the modern music industry. Because there is no talent there, it’s all fake. Too me, it’s dehumanizing. It’s taking the person who has a great idea and warping it into a moment that maybe someone will remember for a few moments and then be forgotten. It’s sad to me. I like music that has more meaning and a lot less steps. I like the artist who shares his demos that he just recorded this morning just to see what other people think. That’s what I like.

JM: Who are some of your favorite musicians?

SK: Some of my favorite musicians/bands are Damien Jurado, Richard Swift, Starflyer 59, Radiohead, but generally I’ll listen to almost anything. *Almost*.

JM: Would you like to share an internet link?

SK:

Here’s my link(s): http://decknetwork.net/

It’s for The Deck, “The advertising network of creative, web and design culture”.

This is my link because I also like well-designed things and to me the websites served by this ad network are the best. My particular favorites are: kottke.org, waxy.org and themorningnews.org.

Also related: layertennis.com which is also brought to you by the same people who run The Deck. Layer Tennis is a great game of design. See the website for more information. It’s really neat.

Thank you to Scott for volunteering! Please feel free to ask him any questions you have in the comments below!