LJ - Arkansas edition!
Mood: sick
Location: near a sweeeet jacuzzi!
Posted on 2006-08-24 20:17:00
Tags: moving travel
Words: 400

Howdy sports racers! This post is brought to you by the good folks at Clarion Resort who provide tasty tasty free high speed internet in every room. Not to mention the sweeeet jacuzzi in the room - we're totally going to use it again and watch TV in it after this :-)

The drive today went relatively OK. We're in Hot Springs, AK now which is right about on schedule in terms of distance (maybe a little farther than we needed to go), and the nice part is we got here around 5:30, so we got some relaxing time (sweeeet jacuzzi!) before heading out to a nice Italian place for dinner. The bad news is that my allergies are freakin' killing me. I don't know if it's a cold or not, but I was blowing my nose all day long and it's really starting to get raw from all that. I bought some of the fancy Kleenex(TM) with lotion on them which usually helps, so we'll see how that goes. Hopefully a good night's sleep tonight will help too.

Hot Springs (population 36,000) seems like a relatively nice place, although we drove through downtown to get to dinner and it looked a bit run down. Bill Clinton grew up here, and they converted his old high school into the Cultural Center of Arkansas, which is "a large complex where artists and performers may live and work". Although now that I search on that, one of the only places this shows up is in the brochure I'm currently reading. Maybe it's not finished yet?

Here's a random question - why is it standard practice to tip waiters 15% of the cost for food and drink? I can understand based on the number of drinks and entrees ordered, but is it harder to keep track of and deliver an expensive steak than a simple angel hair pasta? Or is this just an easy approximation to the number of entrees and drinks ordered? I know hosts and busboys get part of the tips - do the chefs as well? Because that would make sense, since presumably the more expensive meal is harder to cook.

Tomorrow the plan is to stop somewhere in Tennessee (we'll be spending a ridiculous amount of time in Tennessee, going from the southwest corner to the northeast corner), so hopefully I'll be able to post again if we can find another nice hotel :-)


last melodramatic post!
Mood: ready
Music: "Snakes on a Plane" music
Posted on 2006-08-23 21:33:00
Tags: moving
Words: 118

So djedi and I are officially homeless for the moment. We leave tomorrow morning for our fantastic voyage to Maryland!

Good things today:
- The moving people were very nice and professional. Did a heck of a job with all of our crap, especially the darn furniture.
- Just went and saw "Snakes on a Plane". Hee hee hee. Good stuff, although a little gruesome for my taste.

Bad things today:
- ugh, don't want to go into it. anyway, it's over

So the plan is to arrive Sunday afternoon and move into our apartment Monday morning. Everything's being hooked up on Monday, so I should be posting by then! (hmm, I think I already said this. oh well)

Au revoir!


one more milestone
Mood: anxious
Posted on 2006-08-21 23:03:00
Tags: moving
Words: 32

After this, I'm shutting my computer down, and it won't be on again until Maryland! Scary.

Also, I hate hate hate hate hate moving. Seriously. It stresses me out to no end...


leaving on a jet plane...
Mood: sad
Posted on 2006-08-21 09:53:00
Tags: moving
Words: 76

Well, actually a car. And not until Thursday. But since people come to box up our stuff tomorrow, we have to decide what we're taking in the car with us today (and make sure it fits), so it feels like the move is really imminent (which it is).

Thanks a lot to all who came to the party last night - I had a lot of fun, and then was sad afterwards. But I'm mostly better now.


A humbling experience
Mood: energetic
Location: home
Posted on 2006-08-18 16:39:00
Tags: go
Words: 35

After reading how Go is really really hard for computers to play, losing to a computer Go game on level 1 by 85 and 73 stones is a little embarrassing. But I think I'm learning!


last NI post
Mood: sad
Location: NI for the last time
Posted on 2006-08-16 13:20:00
Tags: moving
Words: 51

I'm about to clear my cache and uninstall Firefox. Whee!

This whole day has been a bit surreal. Had a nice lunch at Rudy's, though.

I posted about the show with zefrank a few days ago - here's a good episode with a catchy song ("where the fuck do ideas come from?").


quick terror post
Mood: hungry
Posted on 2006-08-15 18:01:00
Tags: terrorism
Words: 12

The post I mentioned before about terror and such. Good angry reading.


(no subject)
Mood: calm
Posted on 2006-08-15 10:01:00
Tags: pictures rant terrorism
Words: 206

Pictures from this weekend are up. There are some good ones of the nephews :-)

No! Liquids!

I have a great link at home that I don't have in front of me about how the goal of terrorism is to terrorize. If we get worried and upset and scared and stop flying every time a terrorist plot is revealed, isn't that what they want? If this is really a "war on terror" (yeah, yeah, I know), we can't be surprised when plots are revealead and so forth.

Other things that make me mad: people who have no concept of risk. In 2004, 42636 people died in car accidents. Right now you're 10-200 times safer (depending on what metric you use) flying than driving. And yet people will get panicy about flying (to be fair, it can be a little scary) but then speed in their car, not pay attention to the road, drive while buzzed/drunk, etc. Really, this is even worse because you could hurt/kill not only yourself but others if you're in a car crash.

So I guess my point is - drive safely! (and I mean this as a directive, not a "hope nothing happens"-type statement) Don't talk on your cell phone too much, etc., etc.


last weekend at NI
Mood: cheerful
Music: ze frank!
Posted on 2006-08-11 13:20:00
Tags: links
Words: 439

Yikes, that's scary.

Getting beyond our airport security obsession - An "Ask the Pilot" column about why it's fairly hopeless to try to detect dangerous stuff being brought on an airplane.

A the show with zefrank about terrorism. I like zefrank a lot. He never blinks! Here's his ugly myspace competition and the "winners". Another good show, although they're all good from what it seems. ze frank's homepage has lots of neat interactive toys and whatnot. Whee!

I found the evaluation I wrote for COMP 360. COMP 360 was computer graphics. But, and here's the catch, the projects were impossible. We were given little to no direction and not enough time. destroyerj and I worked on project 2, after which he dropped the class (but not before we finished the project!!), and we were up until 5 AM the night it was due trying to get it to work. I don't think a single project in that class I did worked entirely. And I had good partners, but it didn't matter. Anyway, the last day of class I released my anger in the form of an evaluation. Then I released it again by copying over the evaluation so I could save it. Then my hand hurt.

Dr. Goldman made this class an unreasonable amount of work, grossly incommensurate with a 4-hour class. The labs assigned were quite difficult and took very large amounts of time, even when starting early. Compounding this problem was that the only place we were able to work on the projects (Symonds II) was locked to students - to work in there, someone had to be inside or one of the "babysitters" (some students) had to unlock it. This seems like a ridiculous way to handle access to the lab - why not give us all access? Apparently someone thinks we are common thieves...

More often than not, the lecture notes (and lectures) were not helpful in doing the labs, and we had to find some other resource or try to figure it out ourselves. This was extremely frustrating.

Most telling was the fact that around 70 people started the class, and about 20-30 are in it now, and I know that quite a few of these are graduate students who can afford to spend large amounts of time working on projects. Unfortunately, we undergrads don't have that luxury, and this class alone was cause for many stressful days and very long nights.

This class should be heavily revised so it is no longer a "weed-out" class for COMP 460. Never have I been so disappointed in a class in the Computer Science department here at Rice University.

1 comment

Democratic primary happenings
Mood: happy
Posted on 2006-08-09 13:05:00
Tags: politics
Words: 129

So there were some big Democratic primaries yesterday. The most widely watched one was Connecticut senator, where newcomer Ned Lamont beat 18-year senator Joe Lieberman by 51.7%-48.3% (or something close to that). This is huge, because sitting senators baaaarely ever lose in the primary. Anyway, Lieberman announced he was going to run as an independent in the general election, thus proving he's in it for himself rather than his party. Democrats are standing behind the primary winner, luckily. I sure hope he doesn't win.

Also, Cynthia McKinney lost her primary - woohoo! Although it should be noted she lost her primary in 2002 (after implying the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand and allowed them to happen to profit off of them), so maybe she'll be back someday.


look what we can do!
Music: Dave Mathews Band - "Steady as She Goes"
Posted on 2006-08-07 15:28:00
Tags: links
Words: 299

(the asmc-related subjects will taper off, I'm sure...)

Work is starting to die down, and I'm spending more of my time on quitting-related activities. Which means I'm probably not going to finish the last project I wanted to, but so it goes. Also, I was amused to find they're going to use my BCD clock for a demo at NIWeek, which starts tomorrow.

Due to my resurgence in baseball interest, I've been reading Fire Joe Morgan, a blog about bad sports writers and announcers. It's pretty negative, but also extremely amusing. (I bet spchampion would like it!)

Speaking of spchampion, I've added two new feeds of non-LJ blogs - spchampionblog, which is spchampion's (Stanton's) blog, and haunspergerblog, which is Doug and Teresa's blog. You can add them to your friends list and their posts will show up like normal friends posts. You'll have to go to their blog site to comment on them, though. (well, you can comment here but they'll have to know to check here to find them, which sounds annoying)

Cricket Explained (An American Viewpoint) - I like watching the occasional (every 5 years or so) game of cricket, and I learned a lot from this article.

Computers just can't seem to get past Go - an article about how not good computer Go programs are. I'd like to play more Go...

Iran to supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missiles - this seems seriously bad. How far from this to an Iran-Israel war?

Virginia is for Haters - Andrew Sullivan points out the Virginia is the "most anti-gay state in the union", as it denies gay couples even the right to "legally-binding private contracts to help them support their relationships". That sounds fairly unconstitutional to me. Anyway, I would have figured some other state (Mississippi? Tennessee?) would be worse, but maybe not...


minimum wage shenanigans
Mood: unsure
Posted on 2006-08-04 09:36:00
Tags: politics
Words: 116

So the House passed a bill a few days ago that would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. What the hell, you say? Did the Republicans see the light? Well, no. That bill also included a permanent cut in the estate tax, which would cost around $753 billion over 10 years (and affect fewer than 10,000 people). It failed in the Senate when most Democrats wouldn't support it.

Guh. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Had I been voting, I would have been very tempted to vote for the bills. I'm surprised the Democrats were able to hold the line so well...

Man, I can't wait to live in a blue state!


Apparently, left to my own devices...
Mood: happy
Posted on 2006-08-03 11:48:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 46

...I watch all the "House" episodes (three) on the TiVo. That's probably not a good sign.

Summer musical pictures are up!

The pilot to Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is up on YouTube. Good stuff! I will be watching come fall.


a few links
Mood: okay
Posted on 2006-08-01 14:49:00
Tags: links
Words: 77

Why Geeks and Nerds Are Worth It... - date a geek or nerd today!

Rice is adding two more residential colleges, to which I say "pah".

Late addition: a horrible commercial type thing for Appalachian State University. Apparently it's HOT! HOT! HOT! Also, if you're going to throw out "best in the country" and you're not an Ivy League school, you might want to clarify or qualify that statement somehow. Otherwise you just look like a big liar.


shows done! palm to google calendar done!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2006-08-01 09:27:00
Tags: asmc palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 257

I am happy to announce that my Palm datebook to Google Calendar app is complete! I was having trouble with the Google authentication (and so were other people using that API), but it all seems to work now, so give it a shot if you're interested. Whee!

The ASMC shows went well this weekend. Saturday was grueling, as usual - it's the only day we have three shows. But a lot of friends came to see it (onefishclappin, krikwennavd, Teresa & Lucas), as well as my family who had driven up from Houston the previous day. I snuck out for lunch with them, which was nice :-) Crowds in general were a little down, but they're still reasonably-sized which is nice. And maybe that means people aren't having to wait in line for a long time to get tickets, which was the case at least some of last year.

If you haven't seen the show, we have a nice gala this Friday night - after the show everyone comes out and mingles and there's a silent auction and a cash bar. I'd highly recommend it!

We hosted game night last night and I played my first live game of Go with Todd - got beaten both times, but I've played so few times that every game is helpful. It's very hard to tell what's going on, though!

Also started a new Civ 4 game yesterday on Noble. Haven't played too many turns and I'm already a little behind, but hopefully I can turn it around. Viva Japan!

Back to the work grind...


Mood: tired, but ready to go!
Posted on 2006-07-29 07:27:00
Tags: asmc
Words: 89

First show went well last night. I was full of energy, as was everyone (or so it seemed). No major screwups, although my glasses did almost fly off my head during one of the songs because my face was so sweaty. Decent size crowd, 50 people or so (a "private" friends and family performance). Ron also did my hair up all crazy like which took three successive shampooings to get out :-)

Anyway, today's the killer day - three shows at 10, 1, and 4. See you on the other side!


the future's looking good to me
Mood: ready
Posted on 2006-07-28 13:49:00
Tags: asmc links
Words: 129

So we only did one runthrough last night, and we got yelled at (well, not actually yelling) because it sucked. I screwed up at least three different times, lines were dropped, etc., etc. Which should mean that opening night (tonight!) should be fantastic!

I found this pointer to an amazing presentation about Sustainable South Bronx. Maybe I'll send them some money. Wow.

Army Dismisses Gay Arabic Linguist 'Outed' By Anonymous Email Campaign. Note that Sergeant Copas didn't "tell", yet he was certainly "asked". I don't understand why "don't ask, don't tell" applies to non-field personnel, anyway...

The congresswoman involved in the security dustup in April is losing in the Democratic primary. The system works!

A story from a former airport security person. Another example of "teaching to the test".


Mood: grateful for the little things
Posted on 2006-07-27 14:57:00
Tags: asmc poll links
Words: 205

Rehearsal went well last night, except we didn't get a chance to do a runthrough because we had to re-setup the sets (someone used the theater Tuesday night) and lots of other stuff. So we're doing two runthroughs tonight, which we need, but is going to totally exhaust me. On the plus side, I'm not too exhausted since we didn't runthrough last night :-)

There's a part of the show where me and some other guys lift Vixen (a doll) up in the air. Last night it didn't go well, and we sorta half-dropped her, although she ended standing up. I hold her legs and feet, though, so I got kicked in the jaw. Totally not her fault, of course, but it's still bothering me a bit today :-/

Lance Bass (member of NSync) is gay! Neat!

Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder - I have this, most certainly.

Clips from the new Simpsons movie look good so far. Maybe it really will come out next year :-)

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tests positive for testosterone, although the results aren't final yet. Hope it isn't true, but if so...ouch.

TIOBE ranking of most popular computer languages - wow, didn't realize Java was #1. Ruby's only #17. Also, go LabVIEW! (#34)


it's only wednesday??
Mood: tired
Posted on 2006-07-19 10:18:00
Tags: music links
Words: 127

I was gonna save these until Friday, but I'm tired and bored (waiting for a looong compile) now.

Christopher Tin composed the opening Civ4 music (there are more nice samples of his compositions), and when I read that I thought it was the same guy who did the music for Futurama. Turns out that's Christopher Tyng...so close!

Ken Lay was compared to Martin Luther King, James Byrd (black man lynched in Texas), and Jesus himself at his funeral. I understand respect for the dead, but this is ridiculous.

Daily Show segment on Mr. T - I love Mr. T!

Sound files created with pirated software shipped with Windows XP.

AOL Retention Manual - a followup to the story of the guy trying desperately to cancel his AOL account.

1 comment

rehearsal me tired
Mood: tired
Music: Stanford Talisman A Capella - "Baba Yetu"
Posted on 2006-07-17 09:33:00
Tags: dreams music civilization4
Words: 482

So I got back in to Civilization 4 this weekend. My current goal is to win on Warlord (difficulty level 3 of 9). The last game I started like a week ago was going great, I was way ahead in tech (as usual) and had fought off a few skirmishes, when my next door neighbor totally started laying the smackdown on my fair England. He was about to take London when I stopped, and although I tried to load that game to see it through to the bitter end, it seemed to not load for some reason. Although I can't say I tried too hard.

So, new game! I decided to go for a military victory, which I never never do, just for the novelty of it. So I played as Genghis Khan of Mongolia, and started pumping out military units pretty early. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so I "nailed" my next door neighbor America (who totally had it coming even though they didn't do anything to me :-) ). I wiped them out and now have a large part of a continent to myself (I foolishly let two other civs have a few cities in what should be my territory, so I'm trying to take them out culturally...we'll see). The weird part is, despite my pumping out Knights and Longbowmen and Cavalry like nobody's business, I'm still (barely) ahead in tech as well, which means things are looking good! I have the highest score, and France has the next-highest score, which means I'm gearing up for war with them. The problem is that I just got the tech for some good naval units, so I'm getting ready to bombard their cities and land troops on their continent. Anyway, I'm having a blast :-)

Interesting sidenote - both djedi and I love the opening music, and I found some information about it (yay Wikipedia!) - it was performed by a Stanford a capella group (although they're not a capella for this version), and the game stores it in .mp3 format, so I'm gonna add it to my iPod next chance I get. It's also available online, and I'd highly recommend giving it a listen. Might pick up one of their CDs sometime...

So I dreamed I was at Rice, although not back in school there. The US was having a big meeting with North Korea and it took place at Rice (kinda like when Rice hosted the G8 summit). Apparently various Rice student groups were performing for a big audience, I think it was on the academic quad. Anyway, the Phils were there, and they sang a love song while surrounding Kim Jong-il's wife. I thought this was a very very bad idea, but he and his entourage just sat there, not really reacting or anything.

Edit: Wow, we're moving to the fourth best place to live in the country. Neat!


Great. Just great.
Mood: scared
Posted on 2006-07-13 13:52:00
Words: 19

So it looks like there's the beginning of a war in the Middle East. Crap crap crap. details here


fun with juries!
Mood: tired
Posted on 2006-07-12 12:28:00
Tags: essay jury
Words: 1130

So I was called for jury duty on Monday for the first time, so I was pretty excited about it.
A diagram of the courtroom

My notice said to be there at 8:30, so I left home around 7:45 just to be on the safe side (since it was downtown, which I never go to in the morning). After sitting around outside the courtroom for a little while, they let us in around 8:15. At that point there were around 25 of us sitting in the observer's area (surely there's another name for this, but I can't think of what it is...). There was a guy with gray hair sitting between the witness stand and the judge's bench for a while fiddilng with things - at first I thought he was the judge, but it was not to be. More potential jurors started trickling in, and we saw the woman who was later revealed to be the bailiff setting out styrofoam cups for people, distributing papers and whatnot. She seemed pretty on top of things.

We also saw the attorneys come in and out a little. (I thought the defense table was always closer to the jury, but I was wrong wrong wrong) Around 8:35 the guy with gray hair (who was the court reporter) came up to us and sat us in order. There were 60 people total (although 2 arrived after this). I was seated at the end of the second row, #24. I figured the odds were against my getting on the jury, but it wasn't entirely out of the question. While we were being seated, the attorneys showed up and so did the defendant (who entered by the door right next to the defense table). He was an older guy, maybe in his 50s, and looked fairly composed, talking with his two attorneys some.

Then the judge entered. He talked to us for quite a while (20 minutes or so), and he was a bit...quirky (he said he had been a judge for 30 years and was going to retire soon). He showed us the indictment and asked us why it was pink. Of course, nobody knew, and he said he didn't know either, and they're different colors different places in Texas. Whee! He also extolled the virtues of the jury room, which he said had a microwave and refrigerator, a nice view of downtown and the Capitol building, and a big TV with cable and all the premium channels. He told us not to talk to anyone involved in the case ("casual greetings" were OK), and told us what the charge was: a convicted felon possessing a firearm less than 5 years after the end of the felony sentence (jail, probation, or parole). It didn't seem like a terribly complicated case, and he said it should wrap up on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. At this point I reaaally wanted to be chosen - it sounded neat and it would only be a few days anyway :-)

After this the prosecution began their jury selection questioning. The attorney seemed pleasant enough, and she talked a lot about the law and the general process and whatnot. Her style was to basically say something about the law, then call on one or two people by name and ask if they agree. Some things she asked:

Those are the ones I remember, anyway. During this the judge was looking at a computer screen - dunno if it was court-related business or not, but I would have expected him to pay closer attention since (I assume) he can strike jurors like the prosecution and defense can.

After she was done (about an hour), it was 10:00 and we got a 15 minute recess.

Then it was the defense's turn. When I had seen the main defense lawyer before, for some reason I idly wondered whether he was court-appointed. If he was, I would be extremely impressed, as he was exceedingly thorough. He talked for a little at first, then talked to people in the jury. He seemed to have information on who were lawyers, who had served on juries before, and who had relatives in the police department, and he asked all of these people specifically about these. ("So, Mr. Smith, your brother-in-law is a police officer?") After that he asked the first 40 people some of the following questions:

I'm not even sure he cared too much about the answers - the effect of hearing these questions over and over for an hour and a half was enough to make me doubt anything :-)

After he was finally finished, the attorneys left out the entrance nearest the jury box and the judge talked to us for a while about parking and parking tickets and how he could probably get our parking ticket dismissed if we parked somewhere illegally today (or didn't feed the parking meter). Also, if we didn't want our money for serving we had to fill out a form saying where to direct the money. And when we get our check, cash it quickly so the county doesn't run out of money (!).

Anyway, the attorneys came back in and the moment of truth was at hand! They started calling names, and I saw the picked the first three people, which didn't look good for me. But then they skipped a few, and then skipped some more, but the last person they ended up with was #22. Sooo close!



since lj is slow
Mood: skid marks on my soul!
Posted on 2006-07-11 14:13:00
Tags: links
Words: 23

Pole Position commercial. HEEEEEY!

US detainees to get Geneva rights - woohoo!

More info on the Zidane headbutt. Materazzi said some nasty things, maybe.


Viva Italia!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2006-07-10 16:49:00
Words: 334

Ack, many things on my mind.

First things first - yay Italy! The game was a good one, although I don't usually like games decided by penalty kicks, it was clear in this one everyone was really tired by the 120th minute. Italy scored their goal on a beautiful header, and would have scored another one had the man next to the one who put the ball in the goal not been slightly offsides. Oh well.

Unquestionably the most bizarre part of the game came in the 110th minute, just 10 minutes before it went to penalty kicks. Zinedine Zidane is the French star midfielder, who came out of retirement to play in the World Cup and who announced he was going to retire after this one. He was red carded and thrown out of the game for headbutting an Italian player in the chest (animated GIF version!) - the Italian player was fine after a little while. The incident was weird because you can clearly see there's a little pushing and jostling, then they exchange some words, then Zidane starts jogging away and gets a good five yards away before turning around, walking back and then letting loose on him. Apparently, this isn't the first time Zidane has been red-carded for stupid things, and it's not even his first head-butt. Yikes!

I went to jury duty this morning and plan on posting many, many observations later because I was fascinated by the whole thing. Unfortunately I didn't get chosen though :-(

The Nocebo Effect: Placebo's Evil Twin - very interesting article about how the placebo effect works both ways. Biology/psychology is weird. I loved this bit at the end:

But the mind is a funny thing, and generic responses to color go just so far in explaining the placebo or nocebo response. Consider this: In Italy, Moerman says, blue placebos made excellent sleeping pills for women but had the opposite effect on men.

The apparent reason? "The Italian national football team's color is azzurri," he said. "Blue."


aren't you supposed to be well-rested after a long weekend?
Mood: tired
Music: Ragtime - "Justice"
Posted on 2006-07-05 12:42:00
Tags: links
Words: 141

Apparently, no. Here are some links I found to keep me awake...

The Urban Etiquette Handbook - this is great! And entertaining to boot. My favorite page is the one with proper cell phone conduct and the four levels of iPod interaction.

Infared photo gallery of nature. The fact that the trees are white gives it an otherworldly kind of feel.

11 "Don't-Tell-the-Wife" Secrets All Men Keep - this is mildly entertaining and somewhat true (Secret #1: Yes, we fall in lust 10 times a day -- but it doesn't mean we want to leave you). Mostly applies to gay men too, just so we're clear :-)

CIA: Osama Helped Bush in '04. The website doesn't look horribly...reliable? But it was always pretty clear that the bin Ladin tape released four days before the election helped Bush, and the article suggests this was his intention.

1 comment

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