Ten Ways Being a Geek Makes You More Attractive

I found this on Digg, and interestingly enough, these all apply to me.  I realized two things from it.

1. I really am a  Geek.

B.  That isn’t so bad after all.

Posted 8 hours, 39 minutes ago in Miscellaneous by Boyd

Being a geek in 2007 is nothing to be ashamed of, the stereotype that once existed is long gone and there are several characteristics of geek culture that could almost be considered chic.  Consumating, Threadless, or even Apple are pretty good testaments to this fact.

The picture I’m about to paint is of the ideal, I’m not implying that every perl programmer or 15 year kid who plays WoW all day possesses all these qualities.

  1. You’re probably very smart.
  2. It’s hip to be geek. Everyone is familiar with the stereotype of thick glasses, a pocket protector, an obsession with star trek, and social skills akin to a sack of potatoes. Times have changed: geeks are often fashionable, hip individuals who are very aligned with the trends of their own generation
  3. You geek out on more than just your computer.  Ever seen the movie collection of a film geek?  Ever had an automotive geek work on your car?  Ever seen the body of a fitness geek?  The tenacity of someone like us, when applied to hobbies outside computers and the like, can yield impressive results.
  4. Geek humor is the best humor. This is perhaps a biased opinion, but I’ve never laughed as hard as I have while reading some of the random, funny things that came out of geek culture.
  5. You listen to good music. Geeks have access to tools that allow us to hear music that extends well beyond top 40 radio. Want the entire discography of Aphex Twin by tomorrow afternoon? Ask a geek. Not only do they listen to good music, they can find just about anything you’re looking for in a heartbeat.
  6. You make good money. If there’s one stereotype about geeks that usually rings true, it’s that they rarely have trouble earning a decent income.
  7. You fix stuff. Everyone loves a handyman, especially one that can fix one of the most frustrating devices ever conceived: a personal computer.
  8. You’ve got your own stuff going on. You’ll never meet a geek who runs out of things to do, they’ve got lots of hobbies and interests and are more than happy to dive head first into one of those when they’ve got some spare time. In other words: they won’t rely on you to give them a life.
  9. You’re very articulate. Compulsively reading a few hundred RSS feeds a day yields a vocabulary that could put most college English majors to shame.
  10. You’re passionate. When a geek becomes interested in something, they tend to immerse themselves in it entirely. They’ll strip a new gadget down to nuts and bolts and re-build it with an xhtml compliant grappling gun. This intense passion can extend to many areas of a geek’s life, not just computers and hobbies.

I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War. by Brian Mockenhaupt

I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War.

http://men.msn.com/articlees.aspx?cp-documentid=3042293&page=1 

By Brian Mockenhaupt

© Brian Mockenhaupt

A few months ago, I found a Web site loaded with pictures and videos from Iraq, the sort that usually aren’t seen on the news. I watched insurgent snipers shoot American soldiers and car bombs disintegrate markets, accompanied by tinny music and loud, rhythmic chanting, the soundtrack of the propaganda campaigns. Video cameras focused on empty stretches of road, building anticipation. Humvees rolled into view and the explosions brought mushroom clouds of dirt and smoke and chunks of metal spinning through the air. Other videos and pictures showed insurgents shot dead while planting roadside bombs or killed in firefights and the remains of suicide bombers, people how they’re not meant to be seen, no longer whole. The images sickened me, but their familiarity pulled me in, giving comfort, and I couldn’t stop. I clicked through more frames, hungry for it. This must be what a shot of dope feels like after a long stretch of sobriety. Soothing and nauseating and colored by everything that has come before. My body tingled and my stomach ached, hollow. I stood on weak legs and walked into the kitchen to make dinner. I sliced half an onion before putting the knife down and watching slight tremors run through my hand. The shakiness lingered. I drank a beer. And as I leaned against this kitchen counter, in this house, in America, my life felt very foreign.

I’ve been home from Iraq for more than a year, long enough for my time there to become a memory best forgotten for those who worried every day that I was gone. I could see their relief when I returned. Life could continue, with futures not so uncertain. But in quiet moments, their relief brought me guilt. Maybe they assume I was as overjoyed to be home as they were to have me home. Maybe they assume if I could do it over, I never would have gone. And maybe I wouldn’t have. But I miss Iraq. I miss the war. I miss war. And I have a very hard time understanding why.

I’m glad to be home, to have put away my uniforms, to wake up next to my wife each morning. I worry about my friends who are in Iraq now, and I wish they weren’t. Often I hated being there, when the frustrations and lack of control over my life were complete and mind-bending. I questioned my role in the occupation and whether good could come of it. I wondered if it was worth dying or killing for. The suffering and ugliness I saw disgusted me. But war twists and shifts the landmarks by which we navigate our lives, casting light on darkened areas that for many people remain forever unexplored. And once those darkened spaces are lit, they become part of us. At a party several years ago, long before the Army, I listened to a friend who had served several years in the Marines tell a woman that if she carried a pistol for a day, just tucked in her waistband and out of sight, she would feel different. She would see the world differently, for better or worse. Guns empower. She disagreed and he shrugged. No use arguing the point; he was just offering a little piece of truth. He was right, of course. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ve spent hours taking in the world through a rifle scope, watching life unfold. Women hanging laundry on a rooftop. Men haggling over a hindquarter of lamb in the market. Children walking to school. I’ve watched this and hoped that someday I would see that my presence had made their lives better, a redemption of sorts. But I also peered through the scope waiting for someone to do something wrong, so I could shoot him. When you pick up a weapon with the intent of killing, you step onto a very strange and serious playing field. Every morning someone wakes wanting to kill you. When you walk down the street, they are waiting, and you want to kill them, too. That’s not bloodthirsty; that’s just the trade you’ve learned. And as an American soldier, you have a very impressive toolbox. You can fire your rifle or lob a grenade, and if that’s not enough, call in the tanks, or helicopters, or jets. The insurgents have their skill sets, too, turning mornings at the market into chaos, crowds into scattered flesh, Humvees into charred scrap. You’re all part of the terrible magic show, both powerful and helpless.

That men are drawn to war is no surprise. How old are boys before they turn a finger and thumb into a pistol? Long before they love girls, they love war, at least everything they imagine war to be: guns and explosions and manliness and courage. When my neighbors and I played war as kids, there was no fear or sorrow or cowardice. Death was temporary, usually as fast as you could count to sixty and jump back into the game. We didn’t know yet about the darkness. And young men are just slightly older versions of those boys, still loving the unknown, perhaps pumped up on dreams of duty and heroism and the intoxicating power of weapons. In time, war dispels many such notions, and more than a few men find that being freed from society’s professed revulsion to killing is really no freedom at all, but a lonely burden. Yet even at its lowest points, war is like nothing else. Our culture craves experience, and that is war’s strong suit. War peels back the skin, and you live with a layer of nerves exposed, overdosing on your surroundings, when everything seems all wrong and just right, in a way that makes perfect sense. And then you almost die but don’t, and are born again, stoned on life and mocking death. The explosions and gunfire fry your nerves, but you want to hear them all the same. Something’s going down.

For those who know, this is the open secret: War is exciting. Sometimes I was in awe of this, and sometimes I felt low and mean for loving it, but I loved it still. Even in its quiet moments, war is brighter, louder, brasher, more fun, more tragic, more wasteful. More. More of everything. And even then I knew I would someday miss it, this life so strange. Today the war has distilled to moments and feelings, and somewhere in these memories is the reason for the wistfulness.

On one mission we slip away from our trucks and into the night. I lead the patrol through the darkness, along canals and fields and into the town, down narrow, hard-packed dirt streets. Everyone has gone to bed, or is at least inside. We peer through gates and over walls into courtyards and into homes. In a few rooms TVs flicker. A woman washes dishes in a tub. Dogs bark several streets away. No one knows we are in the street, creeping. We stop at intersections, peek around corners, training guns on parked cars, balconies, and storefronts. All empty. We move on. From a small shop up ahead, we hear men’s voices and laughter. Maybe they used to sit outside at night, but now they are indoors, where it’s safe. Safer. The sheet-metal door opens and a man steps out, cigarette and lighter in hand. He still wears a smile, takes in the cool night air, and then nearly falls backward through the doorway in a panic. I’m a few feet from him now and his eyes are wide. I mutter a greeting and we walk on, back into the darkness.

Another night we’re lost in a dust storm. I’m in the passenger seat, trying to guide my driver and the three trucks behind us through this brown maelstrom. The headlights show nothing but swirling dirt. We’ve driven these roads for months, we know them well, but we see nothing. So we drive slow, trying to stay out of canals and people’s kitchens. We curse and we laugh. This is bizarre but a great deal of fun.

Another night my platoon sergeant’s truck is swallowed in flames, a terrible, beautiful, boiling bloom of red and orange and yellow, lighting the darkness for a moment. Somehow we don’t die, one more time.

We pack into the trucks after midnight, and the convoy snakes out of camp and speeds toward the target house. I sit in a backseat and the fear settles in, a sharp burning in my stomach, same as the knot from hard liquor gulped too fast. I think about the knot. I’ll be the first through the door. What if he starts shooting, hits me right in the face before I’m even through the doorway? What if there’s two, or three? What if he pitches a grenade at us? And I think about it more and run through the scenarios, planning my movements, imagining myself clearing through the rooms, firing two rounds into the chest, and the knot fades.

The trucks drop us off several blocks from the target house and we slip into the night. As always, the dogs bark. We gather against the high wall outside the house and call in the trucks to block the streets. The action will pass in a flash. But here, before the chaos starts, when we’re stacked against the wall, my friends’ bodies pressed against me, hearing their quick breaths and my own, there’s a moment to appreciate the gravity, the absurdity, the novelty, the joy of the moment. Is this real? Hearts beat strong. Hands grip tight on weapons. Reassurance. The rest of the world falls away. Who knows what’s on the other side?

One, two, three, go. We push past the gate and across the courtyard and toward the house, barrels locked on the windows and roof. Wells runs up with the battering ram, a short, heavy pipe with handles, and launches it toward the massive wood door. The lock explodes, the splintered door flies open, and we rush through, just the way we’ve practiced hundreds of times. No one shoots me in the face. No grenades roll to my feet. I kick open doors. We scan darkened bedrooms with the flashlights on our rifles and move on to the next and the next.

He’s gone, of course. We ransack his house, dumping drawers, flipping mattresses, punching holes in the ceiling. We find rifles and grenades and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder. And then, near dawn, we lie down on the thick carpets in his living room and sleep, exhausted and untroubled.

Many, many raids followed. We often raided houses late at night, so people awakened to soldiers bursting through their bedroom doors. Women and children wailed, terrified. Taking this in, I imagined what it would feel like if soldiers kicked down my door at midnight, if I could do nothing to protect my family. I would hate those soldiers. Yet I still reveled in the raids, their intensity and uncertainty. The emotions collided, without resolution.

My wife moved to Iraq partway through my second deployment to live in the north and train Iraqi journalists. She spent her evenings at restaurants and tea shops with her Iraqi friends. We spoke by cell phone, when the spotty network allowed, and she told me about this life I couldn’t imagine, celebrating holidays with her colleagues and being invited into their homes. I didn’t have any Iraqi friends, save for our few translators, and I’d rarely been invited into anyone’s home. I told her of my life, the tedious days and frightful seconds, and she worried that in all of this I would lose my thoughtfulness and might stop questioning and just accept. But she didn’t judge the work that I did, and I didn’t tell her that I sometimes enjoyed it, that for stretches of time I didn’t think about the greater implications, that it sometimes seemed like a game. I didn’t tell her that death felt ever present and far away, and that either way, it didn’t really seem to matter.

We both came back from Iraq, luckier than many. Two of my wife’s students have been killed, among the scores of journalists to die in Iraq, and guys I served with are still dying, too. One came home from the war and shot himself on Thanksgiving. Another was blown up on Christmas in Baghdad.

Thinking of them, I felt disgusted with myself for missing the war and wondered if I was alone in this.

I don’t think I am.

After watching the Internet videos, I called some of my friends who are out of the Army now, and they miss the war, too. Wells very nearly died in Iraq. A sniper shot him in the head, surgeons cut out half of his skull — a story told in last April’s Esquire magazine — and he spent months in therapy, working back to his old self. Now he misses the high. “I don’t want to sound like a psychopath, but you’re like a god over there,” he says. “It might not be the best kind of adrenaline for you, but it’s a rush.” Before Iraq, he didn’t care for horror movies, and now he’s drawn to them. He watches them for the little thrill, the rush of being startled, if just for a moment.

McCarthy misses the war just the same. He saved Wells’s life, pressing a bandage over the hole in his head. Now he’s delivering construction materials to big hotel projects along the beach in South Carolina, waiting for a police department to process his application. “The monotony is killing me,” he told me, en route to deliver some rebar. “I want to go on a raid. I want something to blow up. I want something to change today.” He wants the unknown. “Anything can happen, and it does happen. And all of the sudden your world is shattered, and everything has changed. It’s living dangerously. You’re living on the edge. And you’re the baddest motherf**ker around.”

Mortal danger heightens the senses. That is simple animal instinct. We’re more aware of how our world smells and sounds and tastes. This distorts and enriches experiences. Now I can have everything, but it’s not as good as when I could have none of it. McCarthy and I stood on a rooftop one afternoon in Iraq running through a long list of the food we wanted. We made it to homemade pizza and icy beer when someone loosed a long burst of gunfire that cracked over our heads. We ran to the other side of the rooftop, but the gunman had disappeared down a long alleyway. Today my memory of that pizza and beer is stronger than if McCarthy and I had sat down together with the real thing before us.

And today we even speak with affection of wrestling a dead man into a body bag, because that was then. The bullet had laid his thigh wide open, shattered the femur, and shredded the artery, so he’d bled out fast, pumping much of his blood onto the sidewalk. We unfolded and unzipped the nylon sack and laid it alongside him. And then we stared for a moment, none of us ready to close that distance. I grabbed his forearm and dropped it, maybe instinct, maybe revulsion. He hovered so near this world, having just passed over, that he seemed to be sucking life from me, pulling himself back or taking me with him. He peeked at us through a half-opened eye. I stared down on him, his massive dead body, and again wrapped a hand around his wrist, thick and warm. The man was huge, taller than six feet and close to 250 pounds. We strained with the awkward weight, rolled him into the bag, and zipped him out of sight. My platoon sergeant gave two neighborhood kids five dollars to wash away the congealing puddle of blood. But the red handprint stayed on the wall, where the man had tried to brace himself before he fell. I think about him sometimes, splayed out on the sidewalk, and I think of how lucky I was never to have put a friend in one of those bags. Or be put in one myself.

But the memories, good and bad, are only part of the reason war holds its grip long after soldiers have come home. The war was urgent and intense and the biggest story going, always on the news stations and magazine covers. At home, though, relearning everyday life, the sense of mission can be hard to find. And this is not just about dim prospects and low-paying jobs in small towns. Leaving the war behind can be a letdown, regardless of opportunity or education or the luxuries waiting at home. People I’d never met sent me boxes of cookies and candy throughout my tours. When I left for two weeks of leave, I was cheered at airports and hugged by strangers. At dinner with my family one night, a man from the next table bought me a $400 bottle of wine. I was never quite comfortable with any of this, but they were heady moments nonetheless.

For my friends who are going back to Iraq or are there already, there is little enthusiasm. Any fondness for war is tainted by the practicalities of operating and surviving in combat. Wells and McCarthy and I can speak of the war with nostalgia because we belong to a different world now. And yet there is little to say, because we are scattered, far from those who understand.

When I came home, people often asked me about Iraq, and mostly I told them it wasn’t so bad. The first few times, my wife asked me why I had been so blithe. Why didn’t I tell them what Iraq was really like? I didn’t know how to explain myself to them. The war really wasn’t so bad. Yes, there were bombs and shootings and nervous times, but that was just the job. In fact, going to war is rather easy. You react to situations around you and try not to die. There are no electric bills or car payments or chores around the house. Just go to work, come home alive, and do it again tomorrow. McCarthy calls it pure and serene. Indeed. Life at home can be much more trying. But I didn’t imagine the people asking would understand that. I didn’t care much if they did, and often it seemed they just wanted a war story, a bit of grit and gore. If they really want to know, they can always find out for themselves. But they don’t, they just want a taste of the thrill. We all do. We covet life outside our bubble. That’s why we love tragedy, why we love hearing about war and death on the television, drawn to it in spite of ourselves. We gawk at accident scenes and watch people humiliate themselves on reality shows and can’t wait to replay the events for friends, as though in retelling the story we make it our own, if just for a moment.

We live easy third-person lives but want a bit of the darkness. War fascinates because we live so far from its realities. Maybe we’d feel differently about watching bombs blow up on TV if we saw them up close, if we knew how explosions rip the air, throttle your brain, and make your ears ring, if we knew the strain of wondering whether the car next to you at a traffic light would explode or a bomb would land on your house as you sleep. I don’t expect Iraqi soldiers would ever miss war. I have that luxury. I came home to peace, to a country that hasn’t seen war within its borders for nearly 150 years. Yes, some boys come home dead. But we live here without the other terrors and tragedies of war — cities flattened and riven with chaos and fear, neighbors killing one another, a people made forever weary by the violence.

And so I miss it.

Every day in Iraq, if you have a job that takes you outside the wire, you stop just before the gate and make your final preparation for war. You pull out a magazine stacked with thirty rounds of ammunition, weighing just over a pound. You slide it into the magazine well of your rifle and smack it with the heel of your hand, driving it up. You pull the rifle’s charging handle, draw the bolt back, and release. The bolt slides forward with a metallic snap, catching the top round and shoving it into the barrel. Chak-chuk. If I hear that a half century from now, I will know it in an instant. Unmistakable, and pregnant with possibility. On top of a diving board, as the grade-school-science explanation goes, you are potential energy. On the way down, you are kinetic energy. So I leave the gate and step off the diving board, my energy transformed.

Moving On…The issue has been moved to www.sdsYOU.com

I dont want to deal with the Mini Dorm controversy on here, I would rather get back to blogging. It has already kept me from posting the past couple of days as I have been dealing with fallout from my response. Hopefully it will be featured in the Daily Aztec and maybe even Union Tribune again. I may be speaking at a AS meeting on campus about it too. I redesigned sdsYOU.com to deal with the issue, please check it out and support me if you are interested.

On to bigger, better, and more fun news, I just picked up 2 Jet Skis and a trailer. Got a hell of a deal for them on Craigslist, from the original owner. 1987 SX 650’s, in spotless condition. Evan and I got them both running already, and are going out saturday for a ride. Should provide some fun this summer, check it out:

 

An Update to the Mini-Dorm Article – PLEASE READ!

After the Mini-Dorm article was published in the Union Tribune, people started writing in to the Letters to the Editor section with their comments.  This really infuriated me because I wasn’t even given much credit in the article, yet these people writing in with completely ignorant opinions were published in full.  Please Read:

From Letters to the Editor:

The volatile mix of mini-dorms, residents

Regarding “Mini-Dorms, but Many Problems” (Our Region, March 7):

After reading this story, I felt sorry for the neighbors of those mini-dorms. Students urinating and leaving garbages in their lawns, ouch! But the city’s “solution” – preventing a property owner from renovating – is just insane. If you cannot renovate, you will still end up with seven tenants in a three-bedroom house.

There is only one solution to this and that is to discipline the students. As for the mini-dorm owners, they should better manage their tenants and make them behave so this conflict won’t arise again. The city has a lot of things to worry about other than landlords who do not watch their tenants.

BON RYAN PECAOCO
San Diego

They’re educating people and can’t figure out that congregating 33,000 people in one area (with plans for increasing university enrollment to 45,000 by 2025) on a daily basis and creating a need for housing is going to impact a small, single-family residential neighborhood? Somebody send these people to college.

CAROLE CRUZ
San Diego

The piece on mini-dorms was more notable for what was shown in the pictures than what was said in the article. Featured was a picture of a female student hoisting a glass of wine with her roommates. Well, most college students are below the legal drinking age and, while I cannot pretend to know this young woman’s age, your photograph is very irresponsible.


There have been a number of multiple fatalities in the last year involving drunken college students. When I went to college there were four to six hours of studying to do after dinner, and alcohol does nothing to increase comprehension nor retention.

If I were the president of SDSU, I would – or should – be embarrassed to see the student body portrayed as a bunch of party animals majoring in the fine arts of wine consumption and online computer games shown in your other photograph. You have certainly managed to reinforce the stereotypes already associated with San Diego State University – that of an academic institution sorely lacking in academics.

Your pictures show why normal residents in these neighborhoods are fed up with it. Party animal college students with cars parked all over the streets do not mix well with most residents. Particularly for people who have invested their life’s savings and a significant part of their monthly incomes in their mortgages, only to see their neighborhoods destroyed by the selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature behavior of the college students shown in your pictures.

DAVID COX
San Diego

And My Response:

Since its obvious how legitimately my views were taken in print, I’m hoping that some more reasonable adults can be educated by reading this online. Not to mention that 99% of what I said in the phone interview with Ms. Saavedra was not even mentioned in the print article.

First of all, I have to respond to the above editorial comments by Mr. David Cox: The “selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature behavior of the college students shown in your pictures.” – What, exactly is selfish, self centered, irresponsible or immature about anything in the above pictures? I see 4 people having a community meal together, enjoying each other’s company after a long day of school, work, and studying.

Well, most college students are below the legal drinking age and, while I cannot pretend to know this young woman’s age, your photograph is very irresponsible.”– This is possibly the most ridiculous, inane comment I have ever heard. There are 6 people that live in our house, ALL of which are over the legal drinking age. What would possibly lead you to believe that anyone was not? To preface it by saying you know that most college students are below the legal drinking age really just goes to show how out of touch you are with the current college culture THAT YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT. Most students take over 4 years to graduate, I myself just finished 5.5 years of school, graduating at the age of 24. And no, it was not due to excessive drinking, the schools I have attended have been completely IMPACTED making it very hard to get the right classes to graduate.

When I went to college there were four to six hours of studying to do after dinner, and alcohol does nothing to increase comprehension nor retention.”-This is the only thing in your entire letter that you were correct about. There still IS four to six hours of work after dinner, but where you differ from us is that we can RESPONSIBLY enjoy a glass of wine before hitting the books. I can hardly expect you to understand this since there is nothing in your letter to even qualify yourself as someone who ever attended college…all I can assume about you is that you are another disgruntled homeowner mad at seeing his property value drop as the houses around you are rented by students.

If I were the president of SDSU, I would – or should – be embarrassed to see the student body portrayed as a bunch of party animals majoring in the fine arts of wine consumption and online computer games shown in your other photograph.”– Apparently when (or if) you attended school, any form of relaxation or entertainment was strictly out of the question. Let me clarify something for you, sir. You are NOT the president of SDSU, nor do I think you have any association with the school for that matter. Your letter shows nothing but your ignorance about the college you are so desperately trying to discredit. I just graduated with an Information Systems degree from one of the top business schools in the country, and SDSU is turning out more qualified and distinguished graduates than many other schools, but the farthest your generation can see is that it houses them in “Mini Dorms”.

Your letter, Mr. Cox, is the only selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature example of behavior regarding this entire issue. I offered the paper the opportunity to take pictures of my home to show that, contrary to what you would believe, we DO NOT live like animals packed in a “mini dorm”. 6 of us live comfortably in a large house with ample room. Not that your comments would make us seem so, but we are human beings that enjoy living in a clean and responsible environment.

What I would like to see, for once, is the homeowners in the area make a significant effort to bridge the gap between college students, rental home owners, and themselves. Instead of writing editorial comments like the ones above, or holding their City Council “clubhouse” meetings, do something that can satisfy all parties. A regular argument I hear to that is “we hold city council meetings to discuss the issue, but students never show up, they obviously don’t care about the issue”. This is completely ridiculous. Do you ever wonder why students don’t show up to combat the ridiculous charges against them? You hold the meetings around YOUR OWN SCHEDULE with no regard to the parties you want to attend. I have always wondered if this was done on purpose to discourage students to show up and portray their own side of things. It’s like if students got together and had a meeting about the issue at midnight every Thursday night. How many homeowners would attend? Would it be appropriate of us to assume you didn’t show up because you didn’t care? I would like to see the homeowners have the motivation to attend a meeting after being in class since 8am, in and out of the library 4 times during the day, working a 6 hour shift and then heading back to the library for a group meeting until 11 BEFORE even starting any form of homework, and then making it on time to a meeting where their voices would be IGNORED anyway. The hypocrisy of this situation just makes me furious every time I think about it.

I guess the blame isn’t 100% yours, Mr. Cox, for being so completely naive in your outlandish comments. I don’t credit the newspaper with printing a very unbiased article. I was interviewed multiple times by Ms. Saavedra, and she took down a lot of information from me. I was actually under the impression that there was a genuine interest in portraying the students side of the story. After all, we are the ones forced to pay ridiculously high rent to live somewhere convenient to access the school. I didn’t know how wrong I was.

Homeowners portray themselves as the victim in this issue, but does any one care to see the other side? Since it appears most of my words and opinions were lost in Ms. Saavedra’s interview, maybe I can get a few of them across in here:

First, a little bit about myself. I’m 24, and just graduated from SDSU with a BS degree in Information and Decision Systems. I made into and through the ridiculously impacted Business Program, and now work as a Junior CRM Administrator for the #5 fastest growing privately owned business of 2006 in San Diego, and an Award Winning software company. I work on the top floor of our building in downtown San Diego, and yes, I still live in the college area. During school I also was a member of a Professional Business Fraternity on campus (It is a business organization, focused on Resume development and interviewing skills, not a social fraternity as I’m sure Mr. Cox would have anyone believe), and am now an active Alumni. I have lived in the college area for three years, all of them in “mini dorm”type housing. Hopefully those credentials establish me as someone who can give a valid opinion about this entire situation, having experienced ALL aspects of it.

Second, this term “Mini Dorm” really makes me angry. They won’t admit it, but it is a term intended to degrade and devalue students living in rented housing around the college area. They know, I know it, everyone knows it. Why do we feel this way? Well, you live in the dorms as a Freshman, on campus. I have not lived in any “dormitory” style housing except for my freshman year of college. I find it offensive that “adults” (I put it in quotes not because I don’t consider myself an adult, but because I don’t want to group myself with these selfish, self centered homeowners who criticize me) use this term. I live in a home, I pay for ALL of my rent, as do most of my roomates, without any help from parents or anyone else. I pay ALL of my utilities. I pay my car insurance, I pay for EVERYTHING I have including my big screen tv, classic car I am restoring, the wine glasses I booze out of and even the computer I play games on all the time and am typing this on. I am in no way a freshman or involved in any sort of “dorm” lifestyle. I consider myself, and am considered, a completely self sufficient, responsible adult. So please, refer to us as “renters” or “young adults” even, but we definitely do NOT have anything to do with a “dorm”.

Third, I am not writing this response to say we are not to blame, or that we have no responsibility in the matter, because we all do. There are always two sides to every issue, and years of disrespectful college students have perpetuated this issue up to the point it is at now. However, that is not to say that we don’t have rights as well. Read the response I wrote to my landlord below. What gives angry homeowners the right to accuse us of things that are completely FICTIONAL. Why am I made to justify myself to police and others just because I am a recent college student, and a renter! The one mention I had in the article, about police calls being trumped up is completely true. My letter below is further proof of it. Kareoke machines! Riots! Amplified Instruments! These are completely FALSE based on what! An angry neighbor wanting police to respond at their every beck and call. I’m sorry if we aren’t on the same schedule, but what gives you the right to call the police if I want to listen to my music at 10pm because you go to sleep at 9, when you can wake up at 6am and begin construction on your house and I want to sleep! Apparently we have no rights in this situation, because time and again, Police show up for a noise complaint based on completely made up charges. Who are the immature people in this situation, I ask you?

Which brings me to my next point, the CAPP program. The “College Area Party Plan”. What exactly are the rules of the CAPP program, one might ask? Well, good luck finding out. I have lived in CAPPed homes for the entire 3 years I have lived near SDSU. This is a tactic of homeowners to scare renters into thinking that they have NO rights at all, and can be arrested at any time. A house can be capped if it receives a certain number of noise complaints in a period, or if a group of 5 neighbors in a certain radius sign paperwork agreeing that the house is a nuisance. This is another example of our rights being stripped away. What they don’t tell you is that the CAPP stays with the house. This means that since most rental houses in the college area are already CAPPed, chances are you are going to be moving into one. Technically (found out after speaking to the SDSU CAPP officer for our area) the CAPP can be lifted by proof of the landlord showing he brought in new tenants to solve the problem. We jumped through these hoops when we moved into our current house, which was already capped by the previous tenants. But it was to no avail, every time we called or had our landlord call, it was necessary to talk to someone else, or call at a different time. I have lived with this for three years and come the the conclusion that YOU CAN NOT GET THE CAPP OFF. We have toyed around with the idea of getting some other students in nearby rentals to band together and attempt to CAPP a neighbors house, but you see how seriously they take any of our complaints.

These Cop-calling neighbors have grown so used to filing a noise complain at the slightest sound, that the police really don’t seem to take it seriously any more. Plus, noise complain calls get routed out to the closest cops nearby, which can either be SDSU police, or mid city cops. Most thurs-sat nights they are so busy busting frat parties and other issues, that by the time they actually show up to check on a suspected noise violation, there is nothing going on. In addition, the Mid city cops never know if a house is CAPPed, and are completely unfamiliar with the area. This is not to admit we are doing anything wrong however…the normal noise complain visit from the police is for having 10 people over to shoot some pool, or even watching a movie too loud. We have grown accustomed to seeing a cop car pull up out front, and all we ever do is invite the police into our home to see that there is nothing going on. In three years and at least 50 visits from the police, I nor my roomates have ever been issued a ticket, citation, or anything more than a warning. The police never want to come in, usually seem annoyed that they had to show up to another false noise complaint call, and just tell us to please be quiet. Why are our rights continuously violated! Not to mention that this is a complete waste of taxpayers dollars! Police need to be out arresting DUI’s and people that are actually doing harm to our society, not students trying to relax after a long day of school and work! In that “riot” call that a neighbor called in on us, the police had to send out a helicopter to circle our house! THERE WAS 15 PEOPLE PRESENT. What a waste!

I hope these thoughts have shed some insight into the situation that is going on around SDSU. This is in no way strictly the student or renters fault as people like Mr. Cox would have you believe. We are humans too, and deserve equal treatment and rights under law. I have to return to Mr. Cox’s quote because I just don’t think I can say it any better.

Who is being more “selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature” than the people accusing us of it? Watch out when pointing fingers, Mr. Cox…I think you have forgotten that there are three fingers pointing back at you.

-Ian Grist

The original article:

So in case you didn’t have a chance to read the Union Tribune article:

City Council to address disputes over student housing

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/education/20070307-9999-1m7minidorm.html

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS March 7, 2007

“Ian Grist, Dana Cholish, Evan Grist and Micaela Castroneva (from left) talked after finishing dinner one night. The four share a mini-dorm in the College Area with two students from San Diego State University. Mini-dorms are an increasingly common way to house the large number of SDSU students who want to live near campus.”

COLLEGE AREA – Michael Haaland doesn’t look like a real estate mogul. In jeans, a button-down shirt and Adidas sneakers, the 25-year-old looks like he should be tending bar in Pacific Beach.

 

Instead, Haaland and a former fraternity brother, Ian Sells, are the businessmen behind more than 100 mini-dorms in San Diego’s College Area since 2000.

The growing trend – buying single-family homes, adding bedrooms and renting them to students around San Diego State University – has ignited anger among longtime residents who say the resulting late-night parties and loud music aren’t compatible with neighboring families.

The city wants to tighten controls on mini-dorms by restricting a property owner’s ability to renovate. At a meeting today, a City Council committee will discuss that and other options, such as reducing the number of parking permits issued to residents and adding a code enforcement position in partnership with SDSU.

Haaland and Sells think the city is kidding itself trying to stop mini-dorms around SDSU. The university serves 33,000 students on its main campus, but provides housing to accommodate 3,800. An additional 600 live in fraternity and sorority houses.

earplugs to block out the noise emanating from the house next door. Sometimes he couldn’t hear his own TV.

“I’ve never seen a quiet mini-dorm,” he said. “There is no such thing. This is an issue that has affected hundreds of homeowners and destroyed the quality of our life. Many people have just moved off.”

Paved front lawns

Haaland and Sells aren’t the only people buying, managing or converting mini-dorms. But they are a major force behind the trend. These entrepreneurs each had the same idea when they were SDSU undergraduates.

Haaland, who was a political science major, hated the dorms, and Sells, who studied real estate, couldn’t find affordable housing. So they persuaded their parents to buy homes near the campus where they would live and rent out rooms to their friends.

Sells, 25, graduated in 2004 and considers the mini-dorm business a hobby, though he is a full or partial owner in 10. With 22-year-old partner Brandon Blum he manages 60, including the ones he owns.

Like many mini-dorms, homes that Sells oversees have had garages converted into bedrooms, other rooms added and walls built to create even more bedrooms. In the early days, Sells sometimes advertised dens and offices as bedrooms, and he paved over front lawns to offer enough parking.

Stricter rules in recent years have made it harder for landlords capitalizing on the student housing shortage. Last year, the city tightened its definition of what a bedroom is. That’s important because in larger houses, anyone adding bedrooms must add parking spaces.

 

Sells had to switch gears. Now he won’t purchase a home that he can’t easily and affordably turn into a six-bedroom home. He stressed he has always done everything legally.

Haaland and Sells say they aren’t getting rich on these conversions. At a house on Dorothy Drive, Sells said he collects $3,700 a month from six tenants, while the monthly mortgage on the home he bought for $500,000 is $3,600.

“What people don’t understand is that you don’t make money on the rents,” he said. “You make money when you sell the house.”

Couches on roofs

Haaland, who estimates he has had ownership in about 20 College Area rental homes since 2000, offers a package deal to investors. Haaland, a licensed real estate agent, finds houses appropriate for expansion. He lines up investors to buy them and a construction company to add bedrooms and parking spots. He has turned about 50 houses into mini-dorms that way, and more investors are “banging on my door,” Haaland said.

“That’s my talent. I can create a package,” he said. “I make sure everything’s legit.”

A house under renovation on Rincon Street, less than a half-mile east of campus, is a current example of Haaland’s handiwork. It’s a three-bedroom home that an investor bought for $555,000.

The inside has been gutted. Workers are adding three bedrooms in what used to be the backyard, and the garage is becoming a seventh bedroom. Each room probably will rent for $600 to $700.

 

 

A newly paved strip in the back will provide five spaces to meet the city’s parking requirements. Residents say this type of thing is ruining their neighborhood.

“It’s just a mess,” said Bernd Helmke, who lives next to a Dorothy Way mini-dorm and wishes investors would quit adding bedrooms to their properties to cram in more students.

“The kids will put couches on their roofs just to sit there and catch some rays and look cool,” Helmke said.

Cathleen Kenney said her Joan Court cul-de-sac gained three new mini-dorms in eight months, bringing tenants who must be told not to park on front lawns or block neighbors’ driveways. Keg parties often mean 50 to 60 guests sharing a few bathrooms.

“You even have girls dropping trouser to urinate out in the public,” Kenney said.

Sells said longtime residents unfairly blame mini-dorms because they don’t like the fallout of living near an expanding university.

“The college students are surrounded by people who are 70, 80, 90 years old,” he said. “I’ve talked to some of these people and I’m like, ‘Why don’t you just sell your house and move into a nice community where you have a lot of nice amenities? That’s what everyone’s doing these days.’ ”

It’s not just the homeowners who feel harassed. Mini-dorm tenants say they often feel under attack.

Recent SDSU grad Ian Grist has lived in two mini-dorms over three years, and currently leases a home from Sells on Dorothy Drive. Grist, a computer database administrator, has five student roommates.

Police have visited his home 30 to 40 times over the years to respond to complaints. Grist said he has never been cited or fined. Often the complaints are trumped up, he said. Once, a reported “riot” was really a party with 15 students, he said. Police declined to comment on any specifics yesterday.

In response to neighbors’ complaints, Haaland said that mini-dorm landlords should be accountable for their tenants. He said he evicted six in the past six months for noise complaints.

Sells said he has become a better landlord, responding more swiftly to complaints. He also plans to require renters to sign a letter outlining the neighborhood rules.

Haaland has a message for City Hall: Embrace student housing. SDSU’s enrollment is projected to grow to nearly 45,000 full-and part-time students by 2025.

Students, Haaland said, have to live somewhere.


Sherry Saavedra: (619) 542-4598; sherry.saavedra@uniontrib.com This article prompted the following editorial responses in today’s copy of the Union Tribune:UNION-TRIBUNE March 12, 2007http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/op-ed/letters/20070312-9999-mz1e12letter.html

My “Mini Dorm” Interview Featured on the Front Page of the Union Tribune!

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Click HERE To read the article in from the Union Tribune
A quick search on Google News on the terms “Mini Dorm” returned the article as the first thing on the list today. A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper who was writing an article about Mini Dorm living near SDSU. According to them, and angry homeowners, any house with multiple bedrooms and students is considered a “mini dorm”. I dont know if this is intended to be degrading to students or what, but to us its just a house to rent while going to school. It began with the neighbor behind us writing our landlord to report ridiculous complaints about us.

Dear Mr. *****, Feb. 3, 2007

I am sorry to say that noise in the form of heavy beats from an amplified instrument and loud voices took place last night.

It awakened us at 11:40 PM Friday night from a deep sleep. Generally this winter during the break at SDSU it has been quieter. Possible you have the same renters or whatever, but they still do not care about neighbors.

I have called the police to take care of this problem and also know that the property is still capped.

Since we have met and I do feel you have an interest in correcting problems in your properties I am making you aware of the situation before it escalates.

Sincerely, THE *******

Now this letter outraged me and prompted my following response:

Hi ***,I dont know if you would want me contacting them directly, but I have a lot I would like to say to these people. You can forward this message to them if you like, or with your permission I will talk to them personally.Addressing their letter:We had some people over to celebrate my brother’s and my birthday on Friday, Feb 3. There was approximately 15 people at the residence (6 of them live there). There was music playing in the back room until 10pm, but not at a loud volume due to prior accusations by our neighbors. There was no music on after 10pm. The description of Heavy Beats from amplified instruments is completely false, as there were no instruments, or anything amplified on at the residence.The police showed up at the residence at approximately midnite, and informed us they had received a noise complaint. I answered the door personally, and invited the two officers in to actually see that there was not any violation of noise or otherwise going on. They declined and said to have anyone leave who didn’t live at the residence. Since the police arrived 20 minutes after The Bendetts stated we bothered them, and did nothing, I cant see what the problem is.

As for any comparison between winter break and now, we were all at the home throughout break, working and some of the renters even took classes during the break. We arent doing anything different now. I personally graduated from SDSU in December, and now work full time for an Antivirus Software Company in Coronado. We are all responsible young adults, and are fully aware that our residence is capped (by no action of our own, it was when we moved in).

As easy as it is for the ******’s to make these accusations toward us, I feel like they are harassing us. Not once have they expressed any discontent to us personally, but they are constantly contacting you about problems. If the police, who have the authority to enforce any violations are finding nothing wrong the with actions on our property, I don’t understand what the basis for their argument is.

We have not had a noise complaint or police visit for over 4 months, nor are we interested in causing any trouble in our neighborhood. We are on good terms with all of our neighbors on Dorothy Dr, and most on Mary Lane as well. I don’t know if the *******’s are contacting the landlord of the property immediately east of them, as there is constant noise, music, and parties going on there.

We are all interested in coming to an agreement to solve this issue. Everyone at our residence is aware of it, and we have done everything in our power to avoid any problems. However both complaints I am aware of that the Bendett’s have filed with you were based on completely erroneous information. The first one involved some sort of kareoke equipment and singing, and this refers to amplified instruments. There are neither being used on our property.

Please advise me on how you would like to proceed.

Sincerely,

Ian Grist

Because of this letter, the reporter contacted me to do the interview.  Anyone else lived in this situation? And how did you handle it?

Ultra nerd found strapped to high tech torture device!

I was looking at digg at a post about a guy with a sweet 7 monitor setup. While reading through the comments I found a link posted to a different guys 5 monitor set up that was pretty sweet. There was also a link to the guys old set up, which led to these pictures. I seriously couldnt stop laughing when I saw this. Note in the second picture down the “PRO-FORM Carb Counter” machine. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAA. enough said. Im laughing so hard im crying.

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=880676
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1161982
http://www.stefandidak.com/office/index.php

god this is hilarious. enjoy.

clipped from www.hardforum.com

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside again – CHUCK NORRIS! A Compilation of some good Chuck!


Chuck Norris habla

Originally uploaded by Mr Heston.
So, I havent heard any good Norris facts in quite a while, in fact I figured the Chuck phenomenon was about over….oh such little faith. BOOM out of nowhere, Cando sends me some totally sweet homegrown facts. Enjoy!

A Chuck Norris-delivered Roundhouse Kick is the preferred method of execution in 16 states.

If tapped, a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick could power the country of Australia for 44 minutes.

The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Chuck Norris has been there. In that case the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears.

Archeologists unearthed an old english dictionary dating back to the year 1236. It defined “victim” as “one who has encountered Chuck Norris”

On his birthday, Chuck Norris randomly selects one lucky child to be thrown into the sun.

It takes Chuck Norris 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.

The show Survivor had the original premise of putting people on an island with Chuck Norris. There were no survivors, and nobody is brave enough to go to the island to retrieve the footage.

Tom Clancy has to pay royalties to Chuck Norris because “The Sum of All Fears” is the name of Chuck Norris’ autobiography.

Chuck Norris is currently suing myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.

Chuck Norris once pulled out a single hair from his beard and skewered three men through the heart with it.

-Fellow Brethren of Chuck
Mr. Michael Cando
Minister of Pain

Here is an email I found from Feb of last year that I sent to some fellow DOC (Disciples of Chuck) Members. I am currently the Minister of Beard…although there have been discussions to relinquish that Title to Joey, who actually has a beard. I would then assume the position of Minister of Justice.

Joey – funny story

my old roomate from SB called me yesterday freaking out. Upon asking him why, he told me the following:

he was chilling at his friend jeffs house, and in the other room, jeff was watching a commercial of Chuck Norris talking about his Total Gym. Knowing that Chuck Originally designed the TG out of human bones and ligaments, but then converted it to a metal based design for the average consumer, Jeff was seriously considering buying one based on Chuck’s guarantee that it would turn him from a choirboy into a god-among-men. Jeff yelled to casey from that room that he was considering fronting the first payment of $19.99 if casey would invest in the other payments. Casey had to CONSIDER what he would do in this situation. Hence, he called me freaking out, wondering if the all-knowing norris was monitoring their conversation, and was possibly infuriated that Casey had to consider the purchase and not make an instant decision (based on the fact that anything endorsed by Mr. Norris is basically worth more than entry into heaven). Knowing that casey was upset, i tried to talk him through the situation, telling him that chuck would probably understand, but at the same time scolding him for his foolishness, and reinforcing the fact that I would have purchased it immediately (i know that chuck sees all, hears all, knows all, and i didnt want to put myself in a positiont o be recieving any fatal RHK’s from anyone). Anyway, i talked him thgough it, and him and jeff ended up splitting the cost of a super-awesome
Chuck Norris Total Gym, and everyone was happy.

Let this be a lesson to you and any other Norris fans, although Chuck is a gentle man by nature, he WILL NOT TOLERATE Insubordination. Please, for all of your sakes, if you see a total gym commercial, dont hesitate to purchase…it simply is NOT worth the risk to your friends and family.OH! and if you do order from the informercial – tell the operater the special bonus code: “CNEBLPC” (I suspect it stands for: chuck norris eats babies like popcorn chicken) to recieve a free Delta Force 2: The Beginning T-Shirt.

Good luck out there, and see you in rosarito (if chuck lets you make it down there, apparently the entire Mexican police force is working for him in a total gym-border smuggling operation.)

see ya

-Ian

Then some AKP related Chuck facts came to light:

What up bros,

Cando and I came up with some funny shit while we were tabling at CSUSM on Monday.. Let me know if I am worthy of speaking the hallowed name of Chuck Norris.

————

In 1904, George L. Bergen approached Chuck Norris with an idea for an organization centered around brotherhood and professionalism. After RHKing George in the face for his sheer ingenuity, Chuck demanded that the fraternity be named after his favorite assault rifle, as well as the trident that he ripped from the cold, dead hands of Poseiden, God of the Sea.

Chuck Norris requires all AKPsi pledges to grow a beard and buy an assault rifle before he will even consider extending them a bid to Midcourts.

Chuck Norris once tried to have a conversation with Buddha about enlightenment, however he became so enraged with his pacifist views that he rounhoused the man, thus creating the Hindu religion.

Upon his inauguration, George Washington asked Chuck Norris to develop a government-sanctioned charity molded to Mr. Norris’ own liking. Chuck immediately chartered a commission focusing on delivering pain to those in need. Thus the US Army was formed.

Early Big Bang theory hypothesized that that the creation of the Universe was, in fact, not due to a catastrophic supernova, but rather the resounding RHK delivered to God’s face after he originally created Chuck Norris without a beard.

When Chuck Norris gets angry, he doesn’t punch holes in walls.. he punches holes in the space-time continuum, thus creating black holes.

While on a trip to Nepal to scout locations for Delta Force 3: The Himalayan Connection, Chuck Norris ate some bad curried chicken. The resulting gas from Chuck’s ass caused the Pakistan earthquakes.

During the 1991 National Convention, Chuck Norris demanded immediate revisions to the Standing Bylaws to suit his violent demeanor. When the Foundation Board of Directors refused, he RHKed each of them and took over as CEO for Life, Pro-Temporale. He immediately proceeded to instate the four new objectives of Alpha Kappa Psi: fear, pain, death and beard.

—————–

This shit is so random.. I love it!

Later bros,

Then replied to with the following email and attached pictures:

Fellow Brothers of the the Chi Nu Chapter,

I regret to write this message about how extremely disappointed I am. Not only in you, but in myself. Disappointed in what, you say? Well, disappointed in lack of unity, brotherhood, beard…among other things. Why I remember a short time ago, we all came together in fellowship to create an homage to Mr. Norris, a true example of brotherhood that happened in a place none other than Chuck Norris Smugglers Cove.

Has it really fallen into the back of our minds that we have all pledged allegiance to our brother Norris? I will admit it had fallen into the back of mine, but I am willing and able to renew my commitment to walk in the footsteps of Chuck. Fellow Ministers, join me in the brotherhood of Norris.

LET IT BE KNOWN TO ALL, I am calling an emergency meeting of the Chi Nu chapter tonight in the desert to discuss Norris! Please attend, or die.

I attach these pictures in hopes that we can all find a renewed trust and fear in the holy norris.

Or you can simply disregard this email, and die in a fatal RHK related incident in the desert tonight.Brother Grist,

Minister of Pain

Disciples of Chuck

Chi*Nu Chapter

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