Can I go home yet?
Mood: relieved
Posted on 2008-05-21 18:27:00
Words: 4

...oh, yes I can.


mathing it up after dark
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2008-05-20 09:37:00
Tags: music math projects
Words: 218

I couldn't sleep last night, so I worked on the Target probabilities project. It was annoying me that the old version of the generated HTML (which was generated by LaTeX2HTML) looked kinda ugly - look how jagged the math graphics are! (especially compared with the beauty that is the generated .dvi file) So I tried a few different packages and settled on TeX4ht, which produced this much nicer looking page. Ah, that's better. (although why is that table floating to the right? grr)

I've been making slow progress on actually figuring out the numbers (3 card straights and straight flushes are the worst!) but I'm getting there. Getting the right numbers is a little more challenging.

Before that, we watched Citizen Kane (still good even though we weren't paying full attention) and I played some GTA IV, including a little multiplayer with destroyerj. It was tough without a headset and sucking at the game :-) I managed to flip the cop car we were driving in, and another time destroyerj was driving and I was shooting at something and I saw him jump out of the car. Had just enough time to wonder "Huh?" before we slammed into a stopped car and caught on fire :-)

Finally downloaded The Slip by Nine Inch Nails. So far: very good.

Game night tonight!


weekend at Wash U
Mood: annoyed
Posted on 2008-05-19 14:03:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 104

Carrie's graduation went well. Pictures of graduation are up, as well as pictures of last weekend.

The ceremony was good. Chris Matthews made a surprisingly good commencement speaker. The protest of Phyllis Schlafly happened as planned. (see pictures for more information) My back is pain-free despite sleeping on a foldout bed for two nights so I think I'm officially not a bed snob. I did manage to tweak my knee and ankle but they're on the mend. Also read some good books and did some more math on my Target project.

Game night tomorrow night and a three day weekend ahead. Life is good.


gay marriage in california!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-05-15 12:21:00
Tags: politics
Words: 7

California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban


Firefox 3 + gmail fix
Mood: busy
Posted on 2008-05-14 15:41:00
Words: 88

I'm running the Firefox 3 beta (it's better than Firefox 2, especially in memory usage!), but I've noticed sometimes my Gmail tab gets offset on the page - i.e. I can't see the top of the Gmail page and I can't scroll back up to it.

The fix (as I discovered by accident a few days ago) is to click on the page and start Shift-Tabbing until the links at the top highlight, then the page will be fixed. This is a great improvement over my previous reload-the-page-and-lose-all-my-chat-windows solution.


post-WoW doldrums
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-05-13 10:09:00
Tags: math projects worldofwarcraft
Words: 147

seem nonexistent. (anyone know a good antonym for "doldrums"?) Last night we bought some exciting new books, I bought GTA IV, got a graduation present for my sister, and committed to working on my new project. (calculating the probability of satisfying target cards in the game of Target)

It seems that my computer is under attack from a botnet. I pretty frequently get ssh requests coming from wildly different IP addresses trying out a dictionary list of user names. I'm not too worried about them guessing a username/password combo but the fact that they're hitting my box in general is a little scary. I've started turning off ssh at night but I do use it occasionally during the day...

things younger than mccain

If you're in to electoral predictions (for the general election), is a godsend. Probabilities that each candidate will win each state, cartograms, graphs...


Chrstina Aguilera: gay icon?
Mood: curious
Posted on 2008-05-09 14:50:00
Tags: music
Words: 64

Is Christina Aguilera a gay icon and I just didn't realize it? If not, why not?

I'm listening to her album "Stripped" and so far it's pretty full of strong woman be yourself kinda songs. The song "Beautiful" really exemplifies this (and the music video for it won a GLAAD award for using gay and transgender images).

...aha, according to Wikipedia she is! Yay!


scenes that made me look twice
Mood: mischievous
Posted on 2008-05-06 12:48:00
Tags: music asmc
Words: 70

1) The guy who had his laptop open and was doing work on it while walking down the stairs during our fire drill.

2) The elderly woman playing some sort of puzzle game on a pink Nintendo DS at lunch.

I was thinking about doing "Mix Tape" from Avenue Q for my ASMC audition Saturday, but now I'm pretty convinced "My Girlfriend, Who Lives In Canada" is the right choice.


Mario Kart friend code
Mood: happy
Posted on 2008-05-05 21:39:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft wii
Words: 18


Unrelatedly, a few new pictures.

Two-shot Mag on our first time!

(highest tag to word ratio? maybe)


crappy -> less crappy
Mood: refreshed
Posted on 2008-05-05 13:34:00
Tags: health
Words: 123

This last week hasn't been so great. The back pain I mentioned earlier did not go away even after sleeping on super-bed. (the good news is maybe this doesn't mean I'm becoming a mattress snob but actually hurt my back somehow) Thank God for Advil, the wonder drug that I only thought to take after a few days of fairly excruciating pain. Yesterday was the first day I went without one, and some combination of my back getting better and doing some simple back stretches meant it wasn't so bad.

Allergies have been bad too presumably because of the shifting weather. A little Sudafed now and then has helped, but it might be leading to the general fatigue and blahness I've been feeling.


short post
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2008-04-30 16:26:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft
Words: 33

Put some weekend pictures up.

We downed Gruul's Lair for the first time last night! Things went rather smoothly - the whole run took under two hours. Recruited a lot of new guildies too.


BOCA 2006 review
Mood: busy
Posted on 2008-04-29 09:05:00
Tags: music
Words: 619

I got some new CDs for my birthday, so I'm in a reviewing mood, so here goes:

First up is BOCA (Best of Collegiate A Capella) 2006. I now have 6 different years so I feel like I have a decent basis for comparison here. You can listen to an Amazon preview here.

Let's Get It Started - Tufts Beelzebubs - Not bad, but it's lacking some energy. I'm not a huge fan of the original song which obviously hurts. 3 stars in my iTunes.
My Happy Ending - University of North Carolina Loreleis - Lead singer's voice is not bad, although there's obviously some mixing going on in the background. Not that mixing is necessarily bad, but it makes it sound less a capella and more like the original, which is bad in this case. This version is just kind of boring, honestly. 3 stars.
Something Like That - University of Oregon on the Rocks - Wow, a country song. Not used to hearing that in a capella. Kinda groovy I guess. 3 stars.
Tribute - The Pitchforks of Duke University - Yay, a song I like! Good harmonies, spirited. 4 stars.
Let Go - James Madison University Low Key - I love this song. The lead singer obviously doesn't sound exactly like Imogen, but she has a good whispery tone. I like how the chorus sounds more a capellaish than some of the other songs (i.e. it doesn't sound heavily mixed). 5 stars.
The Scientist - Cornell University Last Call - I don't like the weird echo effect. Lead singer is kinda bland and the song never settles into a good groove (also, it's kinda long). 3 stars.
Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy - University of Virginia Hullabahoos - Well, this is a weird song. Peppy, though. 3 stars.
Renegade - Boston University Dear Abbeys - I like this song. When we (the phils) went to competition a group from BYU did this live and it was awesome. This isn't as good but still pretty catchy. 4 stars.
Yeah - University of Oregon Divisi - bouncy, peppy. Good rhythm, and the rap section in the middle kicks it up to 4 stars.
Crazy Train - University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Clef Hangers - A pretty good version of the song, but it's a little boring. 3 stars.
So Cold - University of Pennsylvania Off the Beat - I like this group a lot - they seem to always be on BOCA CDs. Passionate song. 4 stars.
Hallelujah - Clemson University TakeNote - wow, this is like the 10th version of this song I've heard. The lead singer's voice just doesn't do it for me. 3 stars.
Mystify/Atrevete - MIT Resonance - Yeah, OK, I can get behind it. 4 stars.
You and I Both - Michigan State University Accafellas - The background vocals are pretty good but this song (original included) is just boring. 3 stars.
Are You Happy Now - Elon University Twisted Measure - yikes, another boring song. Why why why? 2 stars.
Crumbs - University of Southern California Sirens - Lead singer has a nice voice. This is a weird song I haven't heard before. 4 stars.
Don't Change Your Plans - Harvard Callbacks - I love this song to death. Listened to it at least 5 times yesterday. Good background and although the lead singer is a woman and doesn't really sound like Ben Folds it really clicks. 5 stars!
The Reason - University of Virginia Academical Village People - the parody words are cute, and the singing's pretty good. 4 stars.
The Memory Remains - Stanford University Harmonics - Metallica a capella? Why not? They did a pretty good job with the complex backgrounds and stuff. 4 stars.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Clemson Tigeroar - more excitement would be nice but it's still good. 4 stars.

All in all, not a bad album but not as good as some previous years.


the weekend, non-summarizingly
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2008-04-28 13:46:00
Tags: essay
Words: 625

I'm trying to move away from the "here's what I did this weekend" style of post because it's usually pretty boring to write so I'd imagine it's even more boring to read.

Instead, some interesting stories from this weekend! (note: stories may or may not be interesting, and are superseded (yes, it's spelled correctly even though it doesn't look right) by local laws)

- We were visiting my folks in Houston to celebrate my birthday, and hung out at the International Festival for a while. We saw the Mario Kart Wii promotional tour and I got a Mario Kart drivers license! (picture to come) We also saw more Bob Marley paraphernalia than you would believe.

- Saturday night we went out to the Rice Philharmonics CD release concert. I didn't make the connection before we got there that it was also their last concert of the year, which made it kind of sad (as with high school, the thing I miss most from college is the group I was singing with). It also drove home the point that I know no one in the Phils anymore, which isn't a surprise but still feels weird.

It also reminded me that I enjoy singing in concerts much much more than I enjoy going to them as a spectator. This seems vaguely hypocritical to me but I'm not sure that it is. Singing is much more fun than...listening, I guess.

- Speaking of singing, I sang in church Sunday and although my "stamina" wasn't back, at least my voice sounded normal and it didn't hurt. Finally my week-long throat thing is gone, whatever it was, and I'll be OK to audition for ASMC in two weeks. Although I need to pick a song first. Ack.

- On the way back we wanted to get some more of that delicious St. Arnold's root beer. The hours on the website were kind of unclear, so we stopped by and there were lots of cars in the parking lot. We walked in and the doors were unlocked but no one was at the front desk, so we kept on walking. Before we got to the brewery area (where they usually sell the root beer) we could hear a guy talking on a microphone, and it sounded like some sort of company meeting.

This was a little intimidating, but dammit if we don't make it out there much and we wanted root beer so I opened the door and stuck my head in. The guy with the microphone was standing just to my left and acknowledged me, saying "Come in!". I was really close to doing so before realizing this would be a big mistake - I'd be sort of awkwardly trapped there with a bunch of employees. So instead I said jovially, "Oh, no, I just wanted to buy some beer". The guy said back that unfortunately they legally couldn't sell beer (stupid blue laws) and I said, stupidly, "oh, I meant root beer". Just then a woman came over to help me and we walked back towards the front desk to pay and stuff. I heard the guy on the microphone say "well, we're not going to turn down a sale!" and everyone laugh.

Best part: on our way out she said "Let me just lock this front door..." :-)

- Last week I was going to praise our new Lady Americana mattress and how it's so ridiculously comfortable and awesome. Unfortunately it means that sleeping on my old mattress at home apparently does some bad things to my back because it's been pretty painful the last few days. Hopefully a few more nights on our super-bed will cure it, but I'm not thrilled with my back turning into a mattress snob after only a few weeks.


the syndrome that has no name
Mood: sick
Posted on 2008-04-23 10:14:00
Tags: health
Words: 149

(fine, it probably has a name)

I had a nice birthday weekend with lots of celebrating and stuff, which may have led to whatever the hell happened to me.

The defining symptom is a sore throat, although calling it a "sore throat" doesn't do it justice in my opinion. Feeling feverish (although the actual presence of a fever is somewhat in dispute) and having chills are pretty important parts. Stomach queasiness and a general malaise are secondary but still fairly prominent.

I'm feeling somewhat better today, although my throat still hurts (time for another painkiller!) and I'm pretty low-energy.

Saturday we walked around downtown (djedi's sister Leigh Ann was staying with us) and went to the Alamo Ritz which is a very nice theater. We saw "Smart People" which was an odd but fun movie, and before the show they had old educational science videos which was pretty awesome.


Theorycrafting: upgrades from Zul'Aman
Mood: nerdy
Posted on 2008-04-18 16:48:00
Tags: math theorycraft worldofwarcraft
Words: 161

Since I revamped the Frost mage DPS calculator to include Icy Veins and the Water Elemental, plus the fact that Zul'Aman is almost on farm status for us, time to look at what upgrades I would like!

For me right now, 1 point of sustained DPS = 13 int = 3.6 spell crit = 1.9 spell haste = 1.75 +damage = 1.45 +spell hit (still not capped out!)

GearDPS vs lvl 73 (boss)/DPS vs lvl 70
Footpads of Madness901.5/939.0
Wub's Cursed Hexblade888.7/927.2
Hood of Hexing917.1/933.3
Loop of Cursed Bones898.5/942.4
Mantle of Ill Intent904.0/941.6
Shadowcaster's Drape899.0/936.5
Mana Attuned Band912.0/937.1

Ah, that was heartening - there's more out of Zul'Aman for me than I thought! (although Wub's Cursed Hexblade isn't an upgrade, Mantle of Ill Intent may not be so great if I ever get my Heroic Magister's Terrace shoulders, and Mana Attuned Band is a drop out of the third timed chest which seems pretty hard to do)

1 comment

this has been a long week
Mood: rejuvenated
Posted on 2008-04-18 10:59:00
Tags: work worldofwarcraft links
Words: 237

mostly because I've been horribly unproductive at work. Luckily, the Productivity Fairy has waved his magic wand and yesterday and today have been much better.

Rolled out the new version of the Frost mage DPS calculator (hopefully soon to be arcane and fire as well) - here's the old version for comparsion. I think it looks a lot nicer now.

This story about a non-doctor having a breakthrough in curing cancer makes him sound like a crank, until you get to the part where his method is being tested in hospitals now, including M. D. Anderson. The late Dr. Smalley (that felt weird to type) helped out by providing some nanoparticles.

I'm hesitant to link this story about elevators because it discusses a guy who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. Make sure you're in a strong mental state before watching the sped up security camera footage of the ordeal. The piano music makes it even more tragic.

Last night's Zul'Aman run went well - we downed the Bear and Eagle bosses with 9 minutes (plenty of time!) before the sacrifice and killed Hex Lord Malacrass for the first time. Did a decent job on Zul'Jin - almost got through phase 3 before we called it a night. Unfortunately wowjutsu hasn't picked up our new loot yet because it's slow and unreliable. (I'll admit to being bitter I didn't think of the wowjutsu idea first...genius, I tell you!)

1 comment

rattling around in my brain
Mood: pleased
Music: Run Lola Run Soundtrack - "Running One"
Posted on 2008-04-15 13:54:00
Tags: projects programming
Words: 54

I like being around people. I like having people over/visiting people. I'm sorry if I don't give out that impression. launched today and it looks pretty neat - I volunteered my services. One of the founders wrote this essay on how to be more productive.

jQuery is now my default choice of JavaScript library.


weekend shenanigans
Mood: peaceful
Posted on 2008-04-14 09:18:00
Tags: projects worldofwarcraft links
Words: 185

This weekend we ripped through Zul'Aman - first time for downing the bear boss in 20 minutes, downing the dragonhawk boss, downing the gauntlet and eagle boss (one-shot!), and downing the lynx boss. (I got a nice new chestpiece - now my frostbolts cast in 2.45 seconds!)

I've also been working on a new design for my frost mage DPS calculator - here's the new version versus the old version.

We also went to a few birthday parties and bought a new bed from Austin Discount Mattress, and took a very few pictures of said events. I'm going to take my camera places from now on instead of relying on my cameraphone - while it works in a pinch, the pictures are blurry and the color is always a bit off. I also learned that alcohol + hot tub is bad news for me, even after just one glass of wine. I got extremely woozy and lightheaded after a little while, and it all happened very fast. Anyway.

We need a Wikipedia for data - as an avid consumer of data, I heartily agree!

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People


RIP webmajig
Mood: peaceful
Posted on 2008-04-07 11:00:00
Tags: projects links
Words: 168

So I've been working on this startup in my spare time with some people, and it died Saturday night for reasons I'm not going to go into. The consequences are I'll have a little more free time and I'm looking for a new project! More work on the WoW Frost Mage DPS calculator is a possibility, but it doesn't honestly sound that interesting. I'm working on rewriting my gift list site in Django, but that's not really catching my fancy either.

We watched a lot of Battlestar Galactica this weekend, including the Season 4 premiere. Here's an primer to catch you up, or alternatively a video version called "What the frak?". Here's an old feature on what the heck Donnie Darko was about, which I found interesting.

And if you like people talking fast (long live ze frank!), check out Zero Punctuation, which is a 4-5 minute weekly review of video games. The gay jokes get a little annoying, but honestly it's worth it because it's pretty hilarious.


random stuff, because that's how I'm feeling
Mood: random
Posted on 2008-04-02 15:07:00
Tags: smashbros referrer links
Words: 101

I have the #1 result on Google for numCoins. My lifelong ambition!

Video interviews with people who are really really good at Smash Bros. Their favorite characters - Metaknight, Dedede, Marth, Game & Watch, and sometimes Olimar(!) and Diddy Kong (he talks about how the bananas are so awesome). Least favorite: Ganondorf, Sheik.

A friend of mine has a DonorsChoose proposal.

If you're in the market for an HD TiVo, they now have an offer that lets you get it with lifetime service (and a TiVo plush doll!). Still rather expensive, though.

I think I'm finally getting my Rock Band guitar back. Woo!


captioning sucks
Mood: okay
Posted on 2008-04-01 17:12:00
Tags: links
Words: 27

I stumbled across Captioning Sucks, a new site from the Open & Closed Project. It reminded me of Stanton's comment on closed captioning ads.

Food Court Musical - awesome!


not as deep as it sounds
Mood: content
Posted on 2008-04-01 14:42:00
Tags: work
Words: 70

From one perspective, being notified of a problem as you get to work and later fixing that problem means you haven't made any progress - from your point of view things worked as well as they did before you came to work.

From another perspective, there was a horrendous bug that you didn't know about and now that it's gone peace can reign over the codebase. I find it very satisfying!


Travis County Democratic Convention
Mood: refreshed
Posted on 2008-03-30 11:41:00
Tags: essay politics
Words: 892

At our precinct convention, I signed up to be an Obama delegate at the county convention, which took place on Saturday.

Our precinct group had a strategy meeting on Thursday that I was unable to attend. Since we were ahead 36-17 in delegates and our precinct sent 4 delegates to the state convention, we selected among ourselves who we wanted to go and then allocated our votes to make sure we got 3 delegates (3 people got 10 votes, and the leftovers voted for alternates). The math is kinda interesting - I'm sure there's a formula/procedure to determine the optimal strategy.

Anyway, I had gotten calls before to make sure I'd be attending, and an organizer even stopped by the house so I could sign a form designating an alternate in case something happened and I couldn't make it. And after I woke up bright and early at 7:30 I got a call making sure I was on my way :-)

Stopped to get breakfast and pick up wildrice13, who was also an Obama delegate (in a different precinct) and headed down to the Travis County Expo Center which turned out to be not particularly close to here (it's near the airport). At around 9:00 we turned on to Decker Lane and quickly got in a very long line of cars.

Twenty minutes go by and we haven't moved a whole lot, and we can't even see the Expo Center (it's a hilly road), but some cars are parking in an elementary school parking lot and walking, which seems like a good idea so we follow suit. The walk wasn't too bad, maybe .75 of a mile.

When we finally arrive at the hall there are two really long lines and lots of people with signs with precinct numbers. We find our right line (it's 9:30 by this point) and wait. And wait. And wait. The line is moving really slowly and someone in front of us says it's a gigantic mess at the front, which is pretty easy to believe. Someone comes by to assure us that even though sign in ends at 10, they're extending it to count us all, which is good.

Make it to the front after an hour and there are different windows for different groups of precincts but there's little space to form lines so it is all in fact a mess. wildrice13 finds his window and I find mine and we eventually get in.

The place is packed and I find my seat. They're just getting started, luckily, so they do the pledge of allegiance and national anthem and it opens with Lloyd Doggett talking about unity (a major theme of the day), that no matter who our nominee is we need to support him/her over McCain. Shortly after that, the convention chair told us that the speeches were basically killing time for the credentials committee to process all the challenges to delegates, and that after that was done we could do the voting for the state delegates.

Lots of other people spoke throughout the day - Larry Joe Doherty (candidate for the 10th congressional district) pointed out that more people voted in the Democratic primary in district 10 than did for Michael McCaul (current representative) in 2004, which is pretty neat. And although everyone talked about unity, the ones who had endorsed (mostly for Obama) would say "Now, while I do support Obama" followed by lots of loud cheering by the Obama people, then a call for unity followed by more muted cheering by everyone. Sometimes they'd talk about George W. Bush or less commonly Tom Craddick and Tom DeLay. Then we got to boo!

During the speeches, I paid attention some, read some, chatted some with people around me, got food from the concessions stand. (overpriced, of course) Eventually Terry McAuliffe (!) came out to speak for Hillary and Ron Kirk spoke for Obama. That was neat.

Finally the credentials committee and rules committee reported for both districts (most challenges of delegates were rejected, with the notable exception of a Republican precinct chair!) and then people had to vote for district officers. In the other district (25) only one person ran for chairman and secretary, but in ours we had 4 run for chairman and around 6 for secretary. I was worried we would have to all vote somehow, but the guy was clever. For chairman we voted by voice vote and it was clear who the winner was. For secretary two candidates got about the same, but the chairman made a motion to make them co-secretaries. Genius!

Shortly thereafter, we voted. As planned, we voted 10-10-10-6-1 ish. The Clinton people voted 9-8 so they only got one alternate; if they had voted 9-5-3-1 or something they could have had two, I think. There was more business after that (resolutions and stuff) but wildrice13 and I left since it was already 4:30. The people who stayed said the convention was adjourned at 11:15, so I'm really glad we didn't stay until the end!

I have some pictures up, as does one of the other delegates. Burnt Orange Report shows Obama up by 11% or so throughout Texas, and Travis County went for Obama 383-184. Here's the CNN story.

Then I drove to San Antonio and got back at 12:30. Then I hottubbed. It was a long day.


House grades
Mood: nostalgic
Posted on 2008-03-27 10:47:00
Tags: house
Words: 435

(before I start, if you're into Lost I found this interesting theory about what's going on - it's long and contains spoilers (and possibly ruins the end of the series if correct))

Anyone/thing I missed?


SxSW music
Mood: accomplished
Music: Bodies of Water - "I Guess I'll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess"
Posted on 2008-03-25 10:19:00
Tags: health music links
Words: 262

Bands coming to South by Southwest (never been - gotta make it one of these years!) can release a free MP3. Paul Ford listened to all 763(!) of them and gave them six-word reviews. (short interview in the Houston Press, in which the interviewer mentioned he once listened to 24 hours straight of Houston radio, changing the station every 3 minutes) It even manages to be pretty amusing along the way.

If you're looking for a distraction, you could do a lot worse than listen to the 4 and 5 circles tunes. I was going to listen to all of them and pick my favorites, but I'm really busy now apparently, so here are the ones I got to listen to and liked.

* Creature - Brigitte Bardot - Didn't like them quite as much as Paul. Reminds me of Freezepop.
* Alabama3 - Woke Up This Morning - it's the Sopranos theme! I loooove that guy's voice - nice deep baritone.
* Wisely - Through Any Window - catchy guitar and vocals.
* Album - Stab You - "Mexican alt-rock" is a pretty good description.
* Black Tie Dynasty - Tender - as promised, kinda 80s-ish.
* The BoDeans - Everyday - nice guitar backing, sounds...good. (this is why I don't review albums)
* Bodies of Water - I Guess I'll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess - interesting mix of choral folk singing and jamming and stuff. Nice harmonies. Very very good!
* Chiwoniso - Kurima - catchy African drumming and xylophone and guitar and stuff.
* Dr. Dog - The Girl - interesting Beatles-esque sound.

Also, randomly: this neat where you can share your experience with drugs/treatments. Article in NY Times about it.

(all via


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