Saturday, June 23, 2007


Thanks Sariah for reminding me of my niece/nephew feature. It’s good if I can follow through with at least one thing in my life. (BTW to those I have recently emailed, since this is somewhat related, when I say tomorrow I usually mean anywhere from a few days to a week).

I haven’t received any real recent pictures of my niece Lacey, aka Lace Face, but here are some from a few months ago. Lacey, almost 7, is number 3 of 6; a true middle child with an older brother and sister, twin younger brother and sister, and another younger brother. She’s a girly girl, but she has a roughneck side of her as well. I remember when she was younger, any new toy she had would eventually turn into a weapon to be used against her unsuspecting older siblings.

Right : Lacey with her baby Brother (he almost looks bigger than her)

Left: Lacey and friend at a dance. She gets out more than her aunt.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Freedom at Last

I have finally completed my quarter from hell! I must say, I’ve never spent so much time on one
course, and still not get an A. Yes, despite my good efforts I don’t think an A is in the future. I turned in all but two fully functional programs, with the incomplete two missing a few specifications here and there. I could go into it but I’m sure I would bore you if I haven’t already, but just imagine if you had a computer game and it only ran once. One try and that is all you get. Yep, that was my program.

While this certainly won’t be the most difficult class I will have had to take on my road towards geekdom, this class will be the largest leap. The course is designed to weed out programmers from non programmers. When I couldn’t fully complete my third and fourth assignment, I feared there would be a hoe in the horizon. I would have to quit programming and begin a life of prostitution. Oh wait, I was being metaphorical, I thought I was a weed and feared the garden hoe, but I was reassured of my floral status on subsequent programs.

I know to most people in this course, passing was not a big deal. To me, however, it was a much needed boost in confidence. I gave up some dreams when I decided to pursue computatonal linquistics (misspelled on purpose), and I knew, coming so late into the game, I would probably never be a stellar programmer. I like to excel and stand out, and I chose a path that will make that difficult. I wasn’t the best in this course, but I’m happy I was among the survivors. Now just remind me to delete this post when I start looking for jobs. Because I, Allison Johansson from Detroit, Michigan don’t need this coming back to bite me.

There was some unfortunate fallout from this course. 1. I gained a pant size. Well not quite, but I’m bursting in them. My lean muscle mass has decreased and I’m gaining weight. Yes, you may blame my love of ice cream, chocolate, and cheese on it too, but I’ve been eating that crap for years. While I was taking this course I barely worked out and spent most of my non paid time in front of the computer. I need my exercise to maintain my junk food lifestyle. 2. My friends got married in February and I still haven’t sent them their wedding gift. 3. I am addicted to the worst form of caffeine: coffee. Sodas couldn’t quite deliver, and tea was just too healthy. Coffee transforms me into a nervous freak, but it does wonders to me in the idea generation department. 4. I decide to get married in early July. I figured any date after this course was over was plenty of time. It’s less than 3 weeks away, what was I thinking! My apologies in advance if the party consists of a bunch of pizza, but hey, everyone loves pizza right?

Pictures accompanying this post were provided by the Will man.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Real Update

Okay, so finally the real update. I’m getting married on July 5!!! I’ve known since May 14 but have been super slow about getting the news out. So it’s high time I made it official on Torch Carrying Mob. If it’s not on the TCM, it’s just not news.

The wedding itself will be pretty low key. We didn’t even do any announcements. We’re just getting married in the courthouse, with my parents, a couple friend of ours (we were their witnesses), my cousin, and hopefully one of my brothers attending (the other two couldn’t make it with such short notice :-( ). I had the choice to delay the event and have a real wedding some time next year or just git hitched a.s.a.p., I picked the latter. Actually, I allowed both sides to argue their case, but only my practical side showed up. The fanciful and imaginative one must have been sleeping (…for past 30 years).

However, we are always up for a party, so we’re having two of them. Again, they won’t be big events, not even really a proper reception. The first one we are holding at our home that Saturday, July 7 (at least that’s the plan thus far) for friends here. The second one will be held months later in California for both his and my friends and family. The first one may include crazy, drunk guests, and the latter one will be sober. So, basically one for him one for me.

One quick blurb about how he proposed: He’s about as romantic as I am. He proposed to me while I was eating breakfast. I looked nasty, so he must love me. I had my morning hair do, and was wearing my super thick glass with the right lens missing, and my right eye closed. Sexy!

So who is this mystery man I am marrying? Yes, I’m finally putting a pic up! His name is Will Lewis, which I think totally cool, because I’m going to start going by C.W. Lewis, mistress of C.S. Lewis, j/k. The one and only reason I never mentioned his name or put his picture up was that he had not told some of his colleagues about our relationship. Oh wait, I better back up here. So he was a professor at a university in Fresno, which is the same one I attended, and somehow we met and fell in love…then he took a two year visiting professor position at some college here in Washington, but his real job still resided in Fresno. However upon his impending return to Fresno, the political turmoil within the department worsened (Long Live Formalism!) and the university made a move that caused Will to question his decision to go back. So, just to test the waters, he tried for an industry job and got it! It’s with some big tech company in Redmond, I hear they have some well known operating system. So, with that all taken care of we can officially out ourselves.

So here’s a pic from a few months ago. His expression is that of “what are you doing to my camera?” and is pretty much the same expression he has in all pics I take of him. Mainly because he takes awesome photos and I take bad ones. I’m serious, I’ll freely admit I’m crappy behind the camera. I’ll upload some of his pics in a later post.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Insurance Update

Well, I have a big update, but I don’t have all the details to write it yet, something about getting married. So here is a brief update about my insurance. I’m sure you were at the edge of your seat waiting for this bit of news.

My insurance rate has just been adjusted with one accident as a surcharge. I had no idea how the other half lived until this point. I never knew monthly payments could be in the double digits. I never knew I could have an insurance payment lower than my car payment. I never knew there was such a thing as discretionary income. Now that I have seen this world I want to become a part of it. Unfortunately, I will only catch a glimpse of it, before I am cast back into my bad driver prison for 3 years.

If I'm going to be a lousy driver, why oh why can’t I distribute my traffic infractions. In California you can prevent a ticket from appearing on your record by attending traffic school, but you can only do so every 18 months. I got all 4 California tickets within that 18 months, receiving the last ticket 1 month shy of 18! In Washington you are allowed a deferment every 7 years (WA is bit more strict with their drivers), and are given a period of one year after the deferment to display proper driving skills. I got another ticket within 6 months of my deferment, which puts both tickets on my record. I prefer California’s method; at least you get one guaranteed ticket removal. I wonder who has the higher accident rate.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ticket: The Final Chapter (I hope)

So I went to a mitigation hearing for my latest traffic infraction. A mitigation is different than a contesting hearing, in that you admit to the offense, but want the penalty reduced for some mitigating reason. I’ve always just paid my tickets (yeah, that’s right, tickets) so this was a first. It was a…uh…uh…experience.

The Bellevue courthouse itself wasn’t even in a proper building. It’s near a small park, so I wasn’t sure if I was walking to the courthouse or the park’s bathroom. The building was tiny and outdated, perhaps 60’s or 70’s; parts of the cushioned benches in the waiting room were torn. I wondered if I was still in Bellevue, the sanitized neighbor of Seattle, or East LA. It didn’t help that over half of my fellow traffic violators were of Hispanic origin. The room the hearing was held in was also quite small. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know I have zero spatial skills, so I can’t tell you how small, but I’m almost certain you have a closet that is bigger. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was small.

So we all filed into the tiny room, the judge went over the rules, and then she called us up one by one to explain the mitigating circumstances. This was probably the third time in my life I was happy to be at the bottom of the alphabet, because she was calling us up in alphabetical order. This not only ensured that I wouldn’t have an audience, but I was able to asses the tolerance of the judge (which appeared to be at a negative 10), learn from the mistakes of my fellow defendants, and see how far back the dirt she had on us was (appeared to go back at least to 2005, this was important because I got three tickets 2003).

There were two types of defendants, repeat offenders and first timers. I felt kind of bad for the repeat offenders, I say only kind of because they were pretty foolish to think they could get a reduction since they obviously aren’t learning anything, but I understand the desperate attempt. They would explain circumstances of their offense, then the judge would explain this was their 3rd (sometimes more than that) similar offense, give the date of each offense, and then state there would be no reduction in the penalty. The defendant would keep talking and then the judge would yell at them, and call out the next name. All the first timers got a “deferred finding” (if the driver doesn’t get another ticket in one year, the charge is dropped and does not appear on their record, I had one, but I got another ticket within a year :-( ) and the judge was pretty nice to them, so no entertainment there.

Right before me was native Mandarin Chinese speaker, whose English was at an intermediate level. The guy was trying to describe why he was speeding, but the judge couldn’t understand him. However, because of my extensive exposure to imperfect English I understood him quite well. I thought about saying, “Limited English is my second language, I can translate.” But I had a feeling I’d get yelled at. After his description, despite not really understanding him, she wasn’t going to reduce the penalty. He then asked for a deferred finding instead. Since you’re supposed to ask for that before you describe the events, she yelled at him, told him to see the clerk to pay his fine and called out my name. Either the guy really didn’t understand or he is a genius, because he didn’t move, he just stood there. The judge again told him he needed see the clerk, but he started describing the event again. She said it was clear there was a language gap so she ordered a new hearing with a Mandarin translator present. So hopefully he does is right next time and asks for the deferment.

Now it was my turn to be slaughtered. I knew before I even marked the box asking for a mitigation hearing, that I had no case whatsoever. I had already received a deferred finding via letter for my first infraction. Then, for this infraction I was going 45 in a 30, but the cop gave me the penalty for one going only over 5mph over the speed limit. There was really no way to reduce the fine. The only reason I asked for the hearing is that it buys some time before it appears on my record and activates my last infraction, which was previously in deferment. I want to delay the process because my insurance rate is about to be adjusted and I am loosing two previous tickets I got in 2003. I’d like to see how it is to pay a somewhat normal premium (I still have the accident on my record). Let me enjoy life for 6 months, then I’ll suffer the next 3 years. Without the hearing I would have paid the fine and it would be on my record by now

So as I was saying I had no reason to be there. If I was smart I would have spoke some broken English in a German accent so I could delay the inevitable even further, but I wasn’t too quick on the toes. Instead I tried to play dumb, and asked if I was eligible for a deferred finding. She looked at her computer and said no. I then figured I’ll try to fight the good fight and explained that the only reason I was driving at my law breaking speed was that I did not see the speed limit sign which, upon returning to the scene, I noticed is hidden behind tree branches. However, if I were hooked up to an interpretation device that translates lies into truths, the machine would have outputted “You could have posted the speed limit on the bare, muscular chest of a hot guy standing in the middle of the street, and I still wouldn’t have adjusted my speed.” Luckily those haven’t been invented yet. She then said she would not reduce the penalty because I was already receiving the fine for a lesser infraction and sent me to the clerk to pay.

At the clerk’s desk I asked it they take credit card, then before I could open my mouth to say “I’ll get my checkbook from the car” she handed me a paper, said I could mail in the payment, and left. Ahh, got to love the service you get from government employees.