Just when you thought it was safe to speak your mind in school... not too long ago a teacher in Oakland, CA called the Secret Service and reported two of her students, who were later pulled out of class and interrogated. No one's quite sure what they'd said about George Bush but apparently someone took offense at it. The other students are pretty shaken up, probably afraid that they'll be next. The students had no representation during interrogation, no lawyer, not even the school principal to back them. When one of the students asked to talk to a lawyer, the student was told that they didn't have any legal rights (which isn't uncommon, my civics teacher used to say the same thing.. maybe he wasn't quite as nuts as everyone thought he was...)
Scary thought. Keep your heads down, folks.
And more than just students are afraid right now. In China pets are being slaughtered in fear that they carry the SARS virus. Some people have gone so far as to start ambusing any animals they see roaming around and killing them, there are a few such stories in this article. Ye gods... the mob mentality takes over and intelligence goes right out the window. I think this says a lot about how afraid people are of this virus. One thing they have to keep in mind is that SARS tends to be lethal to those with already compromised immune systems and those who are of an advanced age, which brings with it a less efficient immune system. Most of the younger folks who contracted it recovered after treatment in hospitals.
It's 0100EST, let's start the day off right!
Ye flipping galloping poker-playing gods... just when you thought the Pokethulu game was too much.. Pokethulu miniatures?!
I think this t-shirt has something amusing to offer to the world as well..
Well, I awoke this morning to the lovely sound of a rainstorm. I could hear the soft patterning of droplets against the siding and the closed parts of the windows, and the rattle of rain against the cars outside... straining a little bit harder I could hear rain against leather.
Leather. For the second storm in a row I left the window of my car open.
I can't win... I suppose I should pay attention to the news more, in particular the weather forecasts for the local area. Maybe I'll set up a daemon on Leandra to do that for me, I could rig it so that whenever the forecast changes too much (i.e., nothing at all to 'rain') it plays a sample. I'll mess with that when I get the first bookshelf together.
I managed to get the first bookshelf together on my own, after a bit of a struggle. Once I got the back nailed on the rest of it came together quite nicely.. I started picking through the stuff on the floor and packing it onto the shelf. Amazingly I got everything that had formerly been in the wire cubes behind me onto the bookshelf, and to boot put some software boxes on along with some of the hardbacks. That's a lot of stuff. Later in the afternoon Lowmagnet came over and helped me with the second shelf. The two of us got it put together and packed in record time, even the stuff piled on top of the surround sound system's subwoofer and the spillover books from the other two bookcases. That one, however, is unavoidably double-packed with paperbacks, I just have too many of them.
After that we broke for dinner. I ordered a supreme pizza and stuffed jalapenos from the pizza joint down the road and messed around with his new iPod. It's one of the slickest pieces of hardware I've played with in a long time. Mental note: Never order poppers from said pizza place. $4us is too much for just five of them - six or seven fine, but not five. Damn good pizza, though.After that we jumped back out to Sam's Club to pick up a workbench. I wound up getting the stainless steel table I was talking about earlier, which weighs about as much as I do. Once we got it home and assembled it we found that it is much sturdier than originally expected. For starters, both of us stood on it and the thing didn't even move. We had to shift a bookcase down a little bit to position it but once it was set we started stacking servers onto the bottom rack. They fit perfectly. von Neumann and Crash were brought back on line this evening. After that we set Nancy (Dataline's deck) back up on her desk and got everything wired in. I'm currently running everything I can behind the bookcases, and once the layout's finalised I've got fifty feet of split-loom tubing, which is basically corrugated plastic tubing about an inch in diameter which you run cables through to make them look neat, kind of like a black plastic hose for wiring.
I didn't get that cabinet tonight, mostly because I don't have anyplace to put it right now. I'm going to get that home entertainment creche next, move the other two book cases, and then once it's in place put the cabinet where the current television stand is. This project is going to have to be done one step at a time, which isn't as fast as I'd hoped but better late than never. I've also been snapping photographs throughout the entire process, I'll copy them over and put them on line for everyone once I get most everything done. I just don't have time right now.
I just got an update from the PA-furs mailing list about Anthrocon 2003: Out of 505 rooms available for guests in the hotel the con's being held in... 505 have been claimed by AC attendees. No one knows how many furs will be in each room, I suspecting about four or five each. That's a lot of folks.
I sure hope the hotel's ready for 'em...
I'm not going this year, I'm afraid. I don't have employment yet so I don't have the money... so I didn't bother making plans to go. Maybe next year, when I'm on better footing in the world.
Sorry about the downtime yesterday, everyone... we've started remodelling. By yesterday afternoon I'd finished boxing up everything that had been on top of the counter and stuffed the lot of it into every available space on the other side of the Lab. Once that had been done effectively one half of the room was rendered all but bare. I wound up scrounging around the toolshed and the garage for extra cardboard boxes to hold everything. In the end I wound up doing a Warhol - I swept everything by the armload into the box, threw the lid on, and stashed it. By the time Dataline got home I had a pretty good idea of what else had to be done. It was at this point that I decided that telling her that the laundry room is full of computer equipment was a bad idea.
After dinner we broke down the Network and filled whatever was left of the Lab with computers. Untangling the cables took a further two hours due to the rat's nests that had developed in the past few years. I think the dust puppies evolved into dust rhinoceri within the past few months. Once that was done all we had to do was lift the counter straight up off of the cabinets and worry it through the doorway of the laundry room down to the garage. Following it were three of the cabinets, which presented a bit more of a problem. Once it was figured out that we didn't have to turn the cabinets to get them past the storage freezer, we just had to start dragging it in a different direction, because they are square in cross-section, there was no trouble. The mass of one of them proved to be the worst of it. Using a dolly helped somewhat.
At any rate, The next chore was to take everything on one side of the Lab and push it to the other side so we could get at the two cabinets against the south wall which are part of the set. We wound up digging a path through the stuff and hand-over-handing the contents to one another... NES cartridges and 5.25 inch floppy disks galore. At least three hundred of the latter, spread across five or six organisers.
Some day I'm going to rip the contents of each and every one of them into disk images for archival on CD-ROM. There's too much C-64 and Atari software there to risk it degrading. A lot of it's pretty rare, hard to find even In Here (like registered Bob's Term Pro, Bank Street Writer, and the original Alien RPG). That'll probably happen when I get a Catweasel controller, though.
I should have an 8-bit party some day.
Wow. Depeche Mode video on VH! Classic - Strange Love. It's in black and white.. neat. Very well shot.
Once that stuff was done we called it a night, mostly because there's no more stuff that we can move around and even if there was there was no place to put it. So I jacked in through Kabuki straight into the Lab's net.connection and took a look around. Not much going on.
There was a video for One Night In Bankok?! And a young Murray Head... sweet! And now Peter Gunn by the Art of Noise.
The pickup crew's supposed to get the old gear from the Lab this afternoon. Basically I'm in a holding pattern until they get here.
I've got a computer desk that needs to be put together, so I can finally get rid of that bloody lap desk and take the pressure off of my wrists. Then I just need two or three sets of bookshelves (six feet in height or so) and a workbench. And a bunch of shelves to put spare parts on. Finding the room for all of it's going to be fun. I may have to clean behind the bar...
Well, the crew came out and loaded just about everything into the truck. The only thing they didn't take was the countertop, because they said that it was too stained to sell. They even left a tax receipt for a writeoff next year.. have to file it away so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Dataline's honked that they didn't take the countertop - it's not my fault!
I'm going to rip out the bolts holding it together tomorrow and take a sledgehammer to it to break it up for disposal. If we can't get the usual garbage crew to take it away I'm going to drive it up to the municipal building and throw it in their building supplies dumpster. Screw it.
After that I went wandering around for a while. I picked up a pair of six foot bookcases to put the other half of my library into. K-Mart, $35us. Not a bad deal. They also have a good deal on futons there, I might pick one up to fill in for the big pile of pillows and beanbag chairs that serves as a nest. Dataline's been making noises about an entertainment center for the Lab, too. It's not a bad idea, I must admit. It'll let me put the TV et al into one big unit, which is much neater, anyway. I'll probably wind up tearing down Pure Energy for diagnostics at the same time - at least three of the speakers don't work anymore, judging by the distinct lack of sound quality. Those speakers are almost as old as I am, anyway, so I should't be surprised. It might also be the hack-that-pretends-to-be-an-amplifier going out again. It's high time I pitched it and got a new one anyway - the layer of soot inside the casing from components flaming out is so thick you can scratch it with your fingernail. Radio Shack only goes so far.
But I'm getting way ahead of myself.
I found some shelves, a workbench, various other things.. I should be able to get the place looking decent in a couple of days. I'm going to pull some of the stuff off the walls. There are rave flyers stuck to the panelling dating back to 1994, I think it's time for a change of pace. I'm not going to get rid of them, I plan on saving them in a scrapbook, along with the dozens and dozens of pictures I've got from those days. But if I put the bookcases up no one will be able to see them, anyway. I may as well start fresh.
While prowling around I even found a Sharp Zaurus. After talking to the guy in charge of the department I got to mess around with it for a while, until the power cell went flat because it wasn't completely charged. I think I like it. I like how crisp the screen is, it was very easy to see what I was doing. I didn't try the backlight, mostly because I forgot it had one until just now. The few applications I used came up after a short delay but withstood my playing around with them. Handwriting recognition is going to take some getting used to. I'm going to have to play with it a little to fine-tune it to my chickenscratch. Reading the manual will probably also help. The price tag's a little steep ($399us) but I know where to get better prices on them.
About a half-hour ago I finished putting my computer desk together and I'm taking a break to catch up on e-mail and stuff before I clear out the back corner and move it into position. Leandra's going to be taken offline for a while so I can move her onto the CPU table (if she'll fit, being in a full tower case) or if not I'll put von Neumann there and set Leandra along the side. If worse comes to worse I'll just unbolt the CPU tray entirely and not use it, it isn't that important.
I can't wait until this nonsense is over and done with. The computer desk has been moved into position and Leandra is up and running once more (following briefly being worked over with a can of compressed air to blow the dust puppies out of her chassis). I'm still missing a floor and I still can't walk around freely in my Lab. But Leandra is up and running once more and the computer desk is working admirably. Unfortunately, I had to unbolt the CPU rack from the desk and set Leandra on the floor, she's just too heavy. Seeing steel bars bend and hearing them squeak isn't a good thing. Rather than risk everything I took the path of least resistance. Leandra seems to be happy with the floor, though. Next on the agenda is pulling stuff off of the walls so I can assemble the bookshelves tomorrow. More stuff on the bookshelves means less stuff on the floor.
Just finished boxing up all of the books behind me... the cabinets they were sitting on are next. I even found a few books that I thought I'd lost, they fell behind the cabinets (along with a bunch of CD-ROMs) when the backs fell out of the wire cubes I was using as organisers. Now I just need to find someplace to put everything... if some of the stuff I was getting rid of wasn't on the other side of the Lab (now inaccessible) it wouldn't be nearly as much of a problem.
Jay Walker, founder of priceline.com, has resurfaced. Reports have been collected that he's been meeting with various government officials lately and talking matters of national security. The plan he has in mind is assembling a force of US citizens to monitor a flotilla of webcams placed in sensitive locations around the country, such as nuclear power plants and military bases. The cost of these webcams, which is to include connectivity (probably wireless), microphones, and loudspeakers is expected to reach into the billions. The few places he's talked about this idea publically have reacted negatively - the big brother factor is high with this scheme.
Speaking of nutcase schemes... the Lab's a complete and utter mess again. The shelves are bare, the countertop's cleaned up, and the floor's gone. The only thing left to do is power down the Children so they can be moved off to the side. I'll figure out how to bring them back on line once the countertop and cabinets are moved out. Once the fixtures are moved into the garage, we've got to move everything back to where the fixtures were so we can unpack the matching cabinets on the other side of the room and get them moved into the garage as well. The entire setup is on its way out. Vlad mentioned that he knows of a place to get shelves and worktables, I'm probably going to head out with him on Saturday to take a look. First priority is getting a place for my computer desk fixed up - this lap desk for Leandra's console is killing me.
Well, events are now in motion to remodel the lab. I've found someone willing to pick up all the stuff from the old kitchen (now my workspace) and cart it away to make room for a more conventional layout (i.e., workbench, more bookshelves, and computer desk). Unfortunately, this is supposed to happen in two days' time, so I'm in a bit of a rush to get everything packed up in such a way that it doesn't clog the entire house, let alone the lab. I don't know how I'm going to handle that. I'm planning on getting to work on that tonight after dinner, probably after I exercise so I can take advantage of still having some room to move around. Glad I kept all those shipping boxes in the shed...
I'll be posting a list of stuff for sale around the same time - no reasonable offers refused. Everything not sold goes up on eBay.
I took my grandfather for a haircut today. There's a little barber shop not too far away that he goes to, and has since the place opened thirty years ago. Wow. It amazes me to think of a place that's been open for that long, usually your average business closes down inside of ten. Anyway, while he was getting a haircut I deposited my refund cheque in the bank and picked up a mother's day car for Dataline. That's three more things out of the way. Laundry's going to have to wait until after the big shuffle, I suppose. Maybe I'll talk to Dataline about how to do this over dinner tonight, she's got more practical experience at things like this than I do.
Representatives Rick Boucher and John Doolittle are trying to reintroduce the DMCRA bill, identification number HR-107, otherwise known as the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, which would require that all copy protected digital media be labelled as such, and would amend the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998). I've put a link to the EFF action alert up there, hit the link, fill out the information, and send a fax (preferably) or an e-mail (too easy to ignore) to your local representative.
John Egan, formerly John Allee, 1951-2003. Farewell. May your time beyond the veil be spent as it was on this side, lived on your own terms and your own Will.
Love movie trailers but hate the fact that so many of them are Quicktime files? Check out the beta-versions of Xine. I've just downloaded libxine v1.0beta11 and xine-ui v0.9.20 and compiled them on Leandra into my test directory, and they're playing back some old music videos that I've got in Quicktime format (right now I'm watching the video for Welcome To My Mind by Psykosonik and it's perfect). The changelog says that it'll even play back the trailers for The Matrix Reloaded now, so you know what I'll be trying out next. It's also playing back AVI files much more smoothly than before.
I realised something a few days ago - I can put tmy file archive on line by setting up another virtual host, without having to mess with ftp://-style links. Think I'll start writing index.html files this weekend...
Update: The music video for Atom Bomb by Fluke (also Quicktime) plays back, too. Now I just need someone with working colour vision to help me set up the image controls... Quicktime still rescales like a cooked pancake, though, which is to say it doesn't.
Mental note: Double-check the next time I make a pot of coffee.
A few days before my grad party I picked up a vacuum bag of ground coffee called Cafe Caribe, thinking that I'd have a chance to make a pot or two to set out for everyone; as fate would have it, the bag was pushed to the back of the counter and forgotten until I came across it today. After polishing off the pot I cracked the vacuum seal and made a fresh pot, using that particular type of coffee. The coffee it makes when brewed has quite a deep flavour, not necessarily earthy but full-bodied. I rather enjoyed it, and left the rest of the pot for the family.
Dinner came and went. So did mouthfuls of coffee.
"Too strong! Too strong!" they cried as they fought over the sugar bowl.
"Too strong? How??" I thought. One scoop of coffee grounds, yes.. full chamber of water.. yes...
Then I re-read the package. "Espresso."
I discovered two things this morning as consciously slowly returned to me. One, it was a good deal colder in my room than I'm used to. Two, it was (and still is) raining. This prompted me to haul my body out of bed faster than is customary for just awakening and look out the window... only to confirm that yes, I did leave the windows of my car open last night.
Seeing as how things couldn't possibly get any worse I decided to stick with my usual morning routine and showered, dressed, et cetera, after which I headed outside with a roll of paper towels and my car keys to mop up the water. The first thing I did was roll my windows up before the idea completely slipped my mind; wiping down the seats and dashboard was the work of a few minuts, and gave me an excuse to get the mail as it came in.. along with my IRS refund cheque. Stack that on top of breakfast (replete with fresh banana bread) and things aren't quite so bad.
On the whole I'd say that today's not turning out too badly. Nothing's blown up, caught on fire, or died.
Wow... my Tekkoshocon pics finally made it up someplace.
Well, I just finished watching the movie Resident Evil with Milla Jovovitch. I've got to be honest, that's the first movie that's really scared me in a long time.. I jumped a couple of times, and I think the rips in the cushion I was laying on can be sewn up fairly easily. Damn.
Why is it that every Milla Jovovitch movie has to start with her naked? Just a question..
Just on squick factor alone, I've got to give the director two thumbs up. Even at the end, with all the IV lines and catheters (and a pair of cranial shunts... *shudder*)... bad memories. That particular part went right to the memory archives.. I'm still twitching.
One scary-ass movie, thus sayeth the Time Lord.
This is ironic, in its own way.
This is interesting.. I just found an article discussing Canada's reaction to terrorism.. apparantly Canada cares too much about civil liberties. The less-strict laws are keeping Canadian law enforcement from exchanging information as readily as the US would like, it's been said, and only about one positive identification of someone on The List(tm) of suspected terrorists on the border happens each week. Nevermind the fact that only one of these folks might be be crossing every week.... caution or worry about SARS, anyone? The article also says that American law enforcement agencies have officers on duty in certain Canadian cities (Ottawa is specifically listed, I think it's a safe guess that the major cities people usually think of are included, like Toronto). An interesting article, all told.
And something else to make your day.. a message came down the Watch's alert-list, which monitors the media for news stories related in some way to paganism. The Sci-Fi Channel is looking for, and I must quote the message on this, "a group of outrageous, eccentric, and entertaining (emphasis mine --BAL) individuals who live very alternative lifestyles". The post goes on to state that they are looking for a practising witch who is willing to let their day to day life be the subject of a reality TV show, and the more outrageous the better. I'm worried that a show like this could trash the image of paganism even worse than it already has in the mass media, from pop-witchcraft to the stereotypes we all know and hate. It sounds like they're looking for the strangest people they can find. If you've never heard of an error of availability, it's when people form opinions from a limited set of data, which causes them the treat subsequent related data sets the same way, perhaps erroneously. Basically, it's a fancy way of saying "bad first impression".
Great. Just what neopagans need right now - everyone thinking we're utter nutcases.
They're looking for shock, and I'm afraid they're going to get it.
Speaking of The Watch, I agree with them on many things. What they've changed their splash page to read is one of them. First of all, the date (2018) isn't immediately noticable. The Watch has, from what I've seen, at least a decent readership, and some folks who don't notice this might fly off the handle and make a lot of noise about it without good reason, which hurts their credibility in particular, and might hurt the credibility of all of us in general to some degree. Second, it seems a little reactionary. Without justification for something like this, they are sounding very much like they're going off without just cause. An explanation, even on the other side of a hyperlink would be nice.
In contrast to the Evil Overlord's checklist, here's the hero's checklist.
Song that best describes life right now: Peacemaker - Thanatos (chemical in your brain remix) (available at remix.kwed.org)
I didn't get around to writing much yesterday, I was out and about for pretty much all of the day. Around noon yesterday I found out that there would be another ASIMO demostration at Carnegie-Mellon University so I dropped everything (which wasn't much, truth be told) and drove out there. I'm actually amazed that I found the gymnasium that the demo was being held in: I wandered to the center of campus and somehow worked my way in the right direction. Now that I think about it, it makes sense that the gym would be located reasonably close to the athletic field... At any rate, after a little wandering around I found the queue of people waiting to get seats.
It stretched all the way down the hall and up the stairs to the next level. Not hopeful, I'll admit, but the line moved rapidly once they'd opened the doors and I found a seat about three-quarters of the way back, with a good view of the stage. It seems to be standard that someone's got music playing to kill time before the show actually starts; I was amused to hear Walk Like An Egyptian by the Bangles in the mix. Whee.... makes me feel like a kid again.
The first thing that caught my attention about ASIMO was its leg joints. As far as I could tell from my seat (and what they showed on the screens set to either side of the stage) its leg structure is very close to that of a human body - the hips are ball-and-socket joints, the knees I think are double jointed (to provide for both flexing from front-to-back and a limited amount of side-to-side motion), and the ankles are probably double jointed as well (for the same reasons as the knees). I couldn't really tell. Something I'd never considered was using accelerometers (acceleration sensors) as part of the process to maintain ASIMO's balance.
ASIMO's gait was very close to that of a human being, which I thought incredibly neat. Maybe ASIMO sways a little bit too much from side to side but that might just be me trying to find fault in everything. I'll probably have to watch some people walk to see if it isn't normal - it isn't something I usually watch for. To figure out how a body does something naturally, such as walking is a difficult thing, mostly because we don't even know how the brain processes all the input to adjust the body's balence, so in that respect the Honda engineers were working blind, but replicating it successfully in a device... I've got to take my hat off to them for their work. They replicated the natural in the mechanical reliably, successfully, and accurately. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
The other thing I thought was interesting was ASIMO's manipulators. They were humanoid five-digeted hands, with what appeared to be full articulation. Three points of motion for each digit, two for the thumb (I'm counting the knuckle joint too). I'd be interested in seeing how dexterous they really are, manipulating things, typing, and things like that. Just from what they did show off, I'd say they've got a very good force feedback system inside ASIMO to handle fine manipulation. ASIMO is designed primarily as a personal assistant so it would make sense to give the unit manipulators at least comperable to human hands (they'd have to be to replace human hands in a practical manner). Always loved waldoes, for some reason...
After that I ran into Kristilee, a friend of mine from Promise of Iris, and then wandered around the robot soccer tournament for a while. The room it was held in was packed, there was barely enough room to maneuver in there. The only way to get a good look at what was going on was either to sneak into one of the crew pits (which I did not do, because it would get under my skin if someone did that to my team) or to watch the projection screens at either side of the room. They never showed what I was interested in for long so I lost interest rather quickly. I spent more time scoping what laptops everyone had.
I can see why some hackers have fallen in love with Lego Mindstorms. Maybe I'll look into playing around with them some day...
...this is just lame. I just recieved spam for anti-spam software. *sigh* Continuing...
Anyway, after I met up with Arashiko outside the robot soccer tournament we headed for Wean Hall for a while to talk, and then waited until Gopi arrived. The three of us headed in the general direction of Monroeville (I can't be any more specific than that, because I simply do not know) for dinner at a little Indian restaurant that Gopi knows well. The food there was excellent, and highly affordable. I've never seen a fried bread the size of a volleyball before.. that dish just scared me.
After a hearty dinner and one of the best discussions of world politics that I've been in for quite a while, we headed back to CMU to figure out what to do. Arashiko and Gopi went to see Daredevil on campus, I followed up a phone call from yesterday to John and Lara - due to LARP Friday night I wasn't able to hang out with them but I did promise that I'd call them on Saturday. We wound up going to the Waterfront to see X-Men 2. We had to kill some time first because all of the showings up until 2230 EST were sold-out so we wandered around the Waterfront for a while. I'd never seen an Abercrombie and Fitch outlet before, and I'm rather dismayed at what I saw. Pseudo-combat fatigues that you buy already beaten up... why? Is it not enough to own something long enough to have broken it in the way you want, people have to buy stuff already broken in? Is it so that you don't have to wear your clothes beyond the point they're unfashionable in the persuit of comfort? Give me a pair of military surplus fatigues any day...
John and Lara picked up dinner at Giant Eagle (why is it that every Giant Eagle but the one near me is decently stocked - sushi, for gods' sake!) and we sat in the (deserted) cafe to kill time, then hiked all the way back to the theatre in plenty of time to catch.. 22 minutes of commercials and trailers. At least some of the trailers were interesting, I've got to be fair. It looks like a few movie studios need a tax writeoff or two, though (Stuck On You , for example). The the movie itself finally started...
X-Men 2 breaks the law of sequels (which is that every even-numbered sequel sucks), plain and simple. It picks up where the first movie left off and very well. If you're familiar with the premise of The X-Men you're off and running; if not you get a crash course. The character of Nightcrawler was very well done - the detailing on the costume was amazing, down to the colour of the scalp. Something that I'd never noticed before was the glyphs cut into Nightcrawler's skin... simply beautiful. The placement of them was perfect, the effect was very much like tribal scarification... artistic. Bravo.
I've got a lot more to say about the movie but I won't because it'll spoil a lot of it for you. I will say that Deathstrike reminds me a lot of Molly Millions, both in her appearance and her talons. Neat, but very un-comic book in flavour. Continuity of the two movies doesn't bash you over the head, which is a clear sign of skilled writing. The action sequences were well choreographed. The X-Men's uniforms were still a little dorky but much better than neon-coloured spandex. And you just don't see the middle finger being flown in movies much anymore...
All in all, I'd pay to see this movie again. Make the time to see it.
Check this out, folks: breastfeeding is a subversive act! A Canadian citizen named Deborah Wolfe breast-fed her infant son on the last leg of her flight from Florida, to Vancouver, as well as changed his diaper; another passenger complained and the airline crew declared a security alert.
I know that changing diapers can be rough, but come on, folks... it's a terrorist action?!
So the story goes, a man sitting near them took offense at her breastfeeding her son and complained. An airline attendent offered her a blanket to make the act a little more subtle, which she refused because the blanket hadn't been in a sealed package and she is (understandably, due to the age of her son) concerned about SARS, which has been noted as a problem in Canada. She preferred to use her own stuff. Fine. Quietly, a level-one crew complaint had been filed on board the plane.
Mrs. Wolfe decided not to change her son in the plane's bathroom... that'd squick a lot of people, myself included. But it was because the changing table was high enough that it was difficult to do so (and plane bathrooms are cramped to begin with) and she feared that her son might fall from the table. Okay. I can buy that. She explained this to the attendent (whom I suspect was not a mother, as this might have gone over her head).. and the complaint was bumped up to a level two complaint. Generally speaking, complaints climbing in priority is not a good thing. She then began to nurse her son again, using her own bib and blanket (presumably for privacy)... the man who originally complained walked over to her and stared at her for a time, whereupon Mrs. Wolfe asked him (twice) if he had a problem with this. The man walked to the back of the plane and said that he had been assaulted by the woman (what, with a wet-wipe?) and by being asked questions by her he felt that he had been a victim of a terror attack and he filed assault charges.
My next comment is three words in length and is probably being said by everyone reading this, so I'll dispense with it and continue.
Deborah Wolfe and the people she was travelling with were considered "foreign nationals in international airspace on an international flight during a time of war," and she was told that if the complaint were upgraded to a level three rating, she would be detained by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) for committing an act of war upon an American.
At this time, I'd like to say that I am embarassed to have American citizenship due to this man's actions. He acted like an ass.
Rahsaan Johnson, spokesman for Continental Airlines says that Wolfe became hostile toward a passenger and that the complaint was never upgraded to level two. The situation was resolved when Wolfe signed a legal document of some sort that stated that she would neither break more of Continental Airlies' regulations, nor speak to any American passengers on the plane.
Anyone else think this sounds like one hell of a SNAFU?
Assault by breastfeeding.. ye flipping gods.... this sounds like Eris' sense of humour.
Greetings, readers from Oddly Normal! I just hope that you realise that Meghann and Christy are sisters.
At once neat and scary - someone figured out how to spy on X-10 cameras remotely. If there's enough call for it I'll put up a mirror of this page.
The banana bread was a success. I'll be adding the recipe to my collection later this evening.
I'm a little worried about this: the SARS virus is now mutating. As a result development of a vaccine is now much more difficult. Two distinct forms of the SARS coronavirus have been found in Hong Kong alone. Patients continue to die of the disease: Of 1,611 cases in total 170 people have expired so far. It's not looking good right now.
Silent Mobius fans will be pleased to hear that TechTV will be re-airing the series starting on Monday, 15 May 2003. It'll be shown one episode at a time Monday through Friday at 1630EST. Anyone else waiting to finish their collection?
This link was just posted to the a Commodore-64 running at 933MHz? If you take the chassis of one dead C=64 and add a miniITX motherboard you will. I've got a sudden ken to try to pick up a dead '64 and build one of these to scare people (oh, and maybe use as a dialup server/BBS...)
This sucker's already been bookmarked.
Pittsburgh Live has an article about Neal Stephenson speaking yesterday in it.
I've got to crow about this - my grade report just came in.
Let's run down the list, shall we?
I really did graduate! Yay!
Someone figured out how to build a RAID array under MacOS-X... using floppy drives. If you read a little farther down the page you'll notice that he also figured out how to make a RAID array out of memory sticks, too. I give this hardcore geekpoints.
I don't know if this story's legit or not but I wanted to put up a link to it in the hope that someone who knows one way or the other might shed some light either way. INS agents raided a restaurant and detained employees and patrons for one and one-half hours. Two gentlemen stopped at an Indian buffet near Times Square for dinner one evening and were quite surprised by the doors being kicked open by the NYPD between helpings of vegetable curry. Everyone in the restaurant was rounded up while the restaurant was searched. The reason given by INS operatives was that the incident was part of an Internal Homeland Security investigation. When one of the detainees (Jason Halperin, author of this article) asked to see a lawyer he was told that he would have to be granted a security clearance before this could be done, a process which could take a variable amount of time. The article notes in passing that this is not the first time this has happened; this, too, is a matter of question.
I don't know if I believe this or not. On one hand, it seems pretty far fetched. On the other hand stories about things like this have been circulating for a while now, and some of them have made it into the mass media. I'm worried about this. This is a clear abuse of power, though one which is sanctioned by the USA PATRIOT Act, which pretty much means that there isn't much that anyone can do about it.
Interesting times, indeed.
This afternoon I had the unique experience of meeting one Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon. Arashiko and I got to CMU somewhen around 1530 and queued up outside the building. Judging from the number of people already there, it was going to be a well-attended talk.. and it was. It was less than a half-hour before we actually got into the building and found seats, which quite surprised me. There was a gentleman with slicked-back hair wearing a suit wandering around when we got there, which got my antenna up - that's not a common mode of dress at CMU, and there are lots of them. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw people queuing up next to the stage with lots of books.. Neal Stephenson had arrived.
So I don't recognise authors by sight. Big deal. I'm more worried about their words, not their looks.
Anyway, I dove into my backpack and pulled out my hardcover edition of Cryptonomicon, then oh-excuse-me'd my way to the stage. I stood around for a while listening in on conversations until my turn came up, then got my book autographed, shook hands, asked about Mr. Stephenson's fountain pen (which I found rather neat), noted that he was left-handed (something I'd not expected), then returned to my seat and carefully stowed my book and sat down. He spoke about metaphysics this afternoon, the part of philosophy that deals with things like the nature of reality and of existence, which I had not expected at all. He talked about the feud between Leibnitz and Newton and some of their theories, which I found rather interesting. I'm going to be doing a little research, I think, in particular on Leibnitz's ideas. I'm familiar with his calculus, but that's about it.
Neat! Stained glass computer cases!
I know what I'm ordering tomorrow...
Song that best describes life right now: Information Society - Going, Going, Gone
The freezer is almost completely defrosted. It should be done by sunset today; cleanup shouldn't take very long, either. I'll just have to take a mop to the floor to get all the icemelt up. It's nasty looking stuff, icemelt. It's milky white and freezing cold, though it doesn't smell like anything (at least, I don't think it does). We've got a hell of a lot of trash to take out tonight, after the cleanup and the party. I think I'll take a few pictures of it after it's all out at the curb for the halibut.
I've spent most of the afternoon organising my notes from the past couple of years. I'm just guessing here but I'd surmise that about one quarter of the stuff on my bookshelves are looseleaf binders of printouts, notes, and handouts from the past seven years, of which I've kept varying amounts. I'm in the process of emptying all the one-inch binders to stuff everything into three and four inch binders, collecting everything into a smaller space (accounting for wasted free space and the total thickness of the covers of multiple binders). I've now got six or seven binders of material compressed into three, only two of which are on shelves right now. I'm going to start picking through the loose folders next, putting all that stuff into binders to further free up room (and a few folders for the ripped-out pages, as well). That should tide the Lab over until I can get more bookshelves. Maybe some day I'll start scanning everything into JPEG files to put on my website in an archive. There's too much information here to keep it all to myself, other people might need it some day.
Last night I watched my DVD of Bubblegum Crisis: Hurricane 203[2,3] Live . It's a collection of a good deal of the music from the series and edited footage from the series, forming music videos (perhaps the first anime music videos, judging by the copyright date of 1990 on the material). Very cool stuff, even if you've never seen the entire thing. The editing's sharp as a razor blade, and there's even lip synching. I might be way, way off base here but I wonder if it wasn't these videos that inspired the AMV craze. Hurricane 2032 is entirely composed of series footage, which is cool in and of itself, but 2033 also has live concert footage done by the seiyuu of the series. It's almost funny, the way it was done. It reminds me of a kid's show in a lot of ways, like Xuxa or something else from that era. It's insanely cute, bubblegum cute. There's also a collection of design sketches on the disc, flipping every few seconds with music in the background, so it isn't boring to sit and watch.
This afternoon I watched the DVD of UHF that Dataline gave me for graduation. It was very nicely restored, the images are very crisp and easy to watch (unlike, for example, catching it on Fox late at night or on Sunday afternoons) and the deleted scenes documentary was incredibly funny. Right now I'm watching disc #1 of Dune: Special Edition. Good stuff.
Freezer's almost thawed. My grandfather and I just emptied the drip-pans and mopped the floor of the pantry again. There was at least a couple of gallons of water all over the place. We used the towels to sop up as much as we could and filled a few buckets with it. I made the mistake of trying to empty the drip-pans before scooping them out, and spilled half of it onto the floor so we had to re-mop.. dammit.
At least it's only water.
Freezer's defrosted and washed out. Baking soda in hot water does a good job of killing the musty smell afterward. I let the insides dry for an hour or so and then plugged it back in. I just finished repacking most everything from the coolers (modulo the stuff that fell apart while soaking in the melted ice or stuff that we're never going to eat), with an amazing amount of room to spare. All that built-up ice must have taken up half the freezer's capacity. Anyway, it's all done.
John Ashcroft rules that illegal immigrants may be detained indefinitely if their presence is construed as a threat to national security. Food for thought.
Earlier today I went out for a bit to take a look around, and to see if I could find a Sharp Zaurus to play around with a little bit. No dice. I tried five stores, none of which carried anything other than Palm or PocketPC, the stores' inventories to the contrary. Damn. Someone gave me a line in on a Zaurus for sale a couple of days ago, I'll see if I can get in touch with him and mess around with it for a while. I also stopped off to pick up a couple of bags of ice and some milk for my grandfather on my way back to the Lab.
Why? I've started defrosting the storage freezer in the basement. It's needed it for a couple of years and now I've got the time to do it. Getting everything unpacked and stuffed into ice chests wasn't too difficult, it took only about a half-hour or so. The hard part was actually getting behind the freezer to unplug the thing. Once I figured out what I had to move to get to the plug.. that's all she wrote. I've got paper towels all over the floor and some foil pans to catch the water as the ice melts.
I keep busy.
Speaking of busy, MagerValp is going to have his hands full for a while. He recieved the first C=1 board to be shipped by Jeri Ellsworth and Jens Shoenfeld. Lucky man.
This afternoon was my first chance to exercise in many months. My body has not fallen quite as far as I thought it had, which is a good sign. I couldn't do everything I usually do in my routine, or as many as I usually could, but that's not a big deal, I can take care of that in just a few weeks of steady work. The one thing that did catch me out was the burn on the inside of my right wrist, which I'd forgotten about.
While I was making chili for my graduation party Saturday night I'd accidentally burned myself on part of the slow cooker/crock pot, leaving what appears to be a second-degree burn about 1.5 inches in length across the inside of my right wrist. It didn't bother me until I put my watch on Sunday morning, which tore part of the blister open during the course of the day, and now the scab's broken in one or two places from doing forearm curls. It's not hurting, it's not messy looking, it's just... "Hey, how did... oops.."
I guess that's the best way I can explain it. I forgot about it until this afternoon.
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Low|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||Moderate|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||Very High|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||Moderate|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Moderate|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Moderate|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Low|
|Level 7 (Violent)||Very High|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||Moderate|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||High|
Well, the freezer's defrosting nicely.. and flooding the basement. I was able to bring it under control with a few rolls of paper towels and some old beach towels from the closet upstairs. If anything the floor's going to get cleaner in the process. The freezer should be entirely thawed out by morning, if my calculations are correct. I'll reload everything tomorrow afternoon and that job will be completed.
Well, I'm up, I'm functional, and I'm well fed.
Yesterday was amazing - thirty-two people came out in total, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you. The day started off at 0800 with putting the first part of brunch in the oven and stirring up the chili one last time, then splitting up - Dataline headed out to get the cake and ice for the coolers, I drove out to CMU to pick up Nicole, Lu, and Patrick. As I was backing out of the driveway Ellen was pulling in with her little ones... I let them in and ran upstairs to tell my grandfather that there were people there already and to not be afraid. He can't see very well anymore, and without his hearing aids he can't hear very well, either, and finding three unexpected people in the house would be scary, to say the least. Once that was taken care of I jumped back in the car and hit the CMU campus. Surprisingly, I got there much earlier than anticipated - ten minutes or so. Patrick was waiting out front, and after a quick phone call the four of us headed northward to the Lab.
By the time we got back to the Lab Dataline was already there and getting everything ready for brunch. We all pitched in to get the shelter set up in the back yard over the picnic table and get things set up inside for the food. French toast and a sausage quiche came out of the oven, a fruit platter was set out, and gallons of coffee were on tap in the carafes, along with tea and orange juice. Around the time we got the buffet table going Lowmagnet knocked on the front door and swiftly entered the fray. Everyone sat out back and enjoyed a mid-morning breakfast. Around this time Collette arrived and we started setting out lunch, your basic cheese and luncheonmeat trays.
By the bye, lots of references to food are going to be in this entry - Polish parties tend to have lots and lots of it, and the order that certain things were set out in makes a good timescale.
It was somewhen around this time that John and Lara called - they didn't have transportation and needed a way to get to the Lab. They had some errands to run and said they'd call back later. I inserted that event into the queue and went on with things. I honestly don't remember the time that my relatives started arriving, a few at a time at first but then in entire carloads. The relatives from up north started arriving, followed by the east Pittsburgh contingent. It was at this time that the Lab proper began collecting people because the first floor was SRO (standing room only). Ellen and Lowmagnet headed out to get his PS2 and DDR hardpads and I jumped out to pick up John and Lara. I very much regret having not been able to clean up the Lab proper in the past couple of days - the carpet wasn't swept, there was clothing all over the place, miscellaneous parts were piled up in the corners, and magazines were stacked (neatly and not-so-much) on just about every horizontal surface. About the only things I'd had a chance to do was put away some of the books I didn't want to have to explain to my relatives (which I wound up not having to do anyway), put away a lot of the clothing, and move the more fragile things, computers mostly, into dead storage space.
Getting to John and Lara's apartment wasn't hard at all, I made it out there and back in less than forty minutes, not bad for being the day of Pitt's formal graduation ceremonies.
By the time we'd gotten back there was a DDR tournament in full swing and the back porch was full of relatives. I'd say the party was pretty successful at that point. I went out back again to mingle with relatives, then headed downstairs, touching base with each group of people in turn. By this time I'd completely lost track of time, so I can't really sequence events past this point. Dinner was served at some point and everyone redistributed through the building. Gopi and Arashiko arrived somewhen after that, and we spent a good hour or two hardware geeking. Vlad_II arrived at some point and hung out with my folks. I spent a while playing helium balloon volleyball with cousin Corey, Arashiko, Gopi, and John in the living room. Talked with cousin Corey and cousin Kayla about graduating from high school and learning to drive, and about Dragonball Z. I have to remember to make a few copies of my anime music video CDs for Corey to give to him at the family reunion. I gave John and Lara the CD-ROM that Lyssa sent to me for them. We called Lyssa, in fact, and passed the phone around to a couple of people.
I told the story about being fitted for my tuxedo for the wedding of Zard Biomatrix and Liz, and how I couldn't convince the tailor of my measurements. I watched Lowmagnet teach Arashiko to play DDR. I discussed anime with Nicole. I discovered the wonders of the music-only channels of digital cable, in particular channel 915 (electronica), which has good music in spite of its trendy name. It makes good background music for a party, by the way. Zard and Liz arrived in the early evening and spent the evening hanging out with everyone. Ellen took the CMU contingent back around 1730 EST. She also gave me an old computer, a Commodore Colt (one of their line of PC clones from the early 1990's, before Commodore died as a company), which I plan on setting up to play old-school games. If there are some hard drives in it maybe I'll set it up as a BBS or a dialin server or something. It's too cool to not do anything with.
Earlier in the day Lu hooked her minidisc player into my sound system so we could listen to something. I'm still amazed that I was able to find the right cable to do so on the first try, the wiring of my PA system is so messed up that I can't normally find anything short of during a full tear down and rebuild. I'd really like to find a copy of that song...
I also discovered that my PA amp's just about dead. Only two out of six speakers are working anymore, so sound quality's gone to hell in a handbasket. I think it's time to pull out the old amp-in-a-stereo-casing and buy a real amplifier, I can't keep it working properly anymore. I'll also have to test my speakers to make sure that they all still work. I've got a sneaking suspicion that they don't. *sigh*
Later in the evening Arashiko and Gopi drove John and Lara home. I would have done so, as I had promised.
Early in the evening Seele and Slojo arrived, bringing cookies and whipped cream with them.
I don't remember the time that we cut the cake for everyone. I was quite surprised to see that there was a portrait of me airbrushed onto the icing. Dataline had given Judy one of my graduation pictures and asked them to add it to the order surreptitiously. I've got a picture of it stored on the d-cam upstairs. I was a little bit embarassed, to tell the truth - I'm not really comfortable with that much attention.
The rest of the night was spent hanging out with Lowmagnet, Zard, Liz, Seele, Slojo, and Dataline. We kept moving between the kitchen and the Lab. I don't remember the time that everyone finally left, it was somewhen around 0000 EST. I didn't get to sleep until 0230 EST or so this morning, though. There was too much to clean up - too many bottles and cans to collect, trash to pick up and bag, things to throw away or put back in the fridge or freezer, and Ziggy to comfort. Ziggy vanished around the time that Ellen arrived and hid out in my grandfather's bedroom the entire day.
the.Silicon.Dragon and Elwing send their apologies to everyone for not being able to attend. Something came up and they weren't able to make the trip back to Pittsburgh. They send many "Hello!"s to everyone.
There are a lot of people that I'd like to thank for their help, in no particular order. Without them there would not have been a graduation party:
Someone's selling MP3 players built into AK-47 magazines. Cool. I'd hate to see how cops on the street react to seeing them, though.
There aren't many pictures of the party to put up because I didn't take very many, just three of them before dinner (and one of the cake). I spent my time either rotating between groups of people or putting food out. I didn't have time. Sorry.
How ironic is this: Microsoft's research division has put a softcopy of The Unix Hater's Handbook online from their sub-domain. I guess good information is where you find it...
They're playing Seventeen by Ladytron on MC-915 now! Rock!
I just got the results of project six - 100/100!
Leftovers night one - the salad went rancid in the fridge. Pitched. Lots of miscellaneous other stuff got thrown out, too. I've got to go out and buy a couple more bags of ice because we have to defrost the storage freezer in the pantry, there's no two ways about it. I may as well use the four coolers from yesterday to hold everything from the deep freeze, throw out some stuff, and use the foil pans from the chafing dish apparatus to catch the runoff. Shouldn't be too difficult, just time consuming. The freezer should be done defrosting in two or three days, then we can turn it back on and put everything back inside. All in all another two lawnbags of trash is on the refuse pile tonight.
Dataline is not in a good way right now. Yesterday completely wiped her out. Her legs and back are killing her so she's spent pretty much the entire day on the couch sleeping. Can't say I blame her. She did a yeoman's job this weekend when she didn't have to.
Last week I won an auction on eBay for three tapes of VR.5 episodes, a television series I very much enjoyed when it was younger. I stumbled into the auction three hours before it was over with no bids on the board and walked away with the whole shebang for a song. I thought they'd arrive some time this week though I didn't quite know when. I didn't see a package on the front porch this morning when I went out to get the mail but when I went to pick the balloons off of the mailbox I saw the box sitting in the garden next to the door. I havn't had a chance to watch them yet though I'll probably do so tonight and if everything checks out I'll leave the guy feedback tomorrow.
When I'd finished cleaning Dataline and I ripped into the apple pie that Patrick had brought with him on Sunday. It's amazing. The crust is so light you don't even realise it's there while it's eating. I'm going to have to find a recipe to trade for it.... it won't be easy.
It's over. I'm tired. I'm going to bed.
Thank you so much, one and all, for coming today to celebrate. Thank you for everything.
It's about 0915 EST on Saturday morning. Dataline's not awake yet so we havn't started cleaning yet. I'm taking the opportunity to let my breakfast settle and do a little writing.
Yesterday Dataline and I were up at 0800 to go shopping for stuff for my grad party. Our first stop was Sam's Club, a chain of warehouse stores where you can get pretty much anything as long as it's bulk. I knew I was in trouble when she handed me one cart and took a second for herself. That was a bad sign... three hours later we'd picked up enough fresh fruit, vegetables, and raw materials for a good-sized get-together, about forty-five people or so. We're going to be cooking pretty much all night tonight. I'm still not entirely certain of what we're making.. it'll be interesting to find out, though. We spent quite a few days leafing through slow cooker recipe books, so I think a few of the dishes are literally all-nighters, though thankfully we don't have to be up to attend to them.
After that we jumped over to the local supermarket to pick up the rest of the stuff we need that we either could not find at Sam's Club, or could not find in sufficiently small quantities. Some of my recipes call for garlic, but not four pounds of it. Anyway, we picked up the rest of the stuff to make cookies - I've been getting requests all week from people who love my chocolate chip cookies, and we got the last of the ingredients yesterday afternoon. It's going to be a long one - that recipe makes a gross of cookies, give or take... attendees who read this, feel free to ask for stuff to take home, we'll able to oblige easily.
That done, our next stop was the liquor store. Two bottles of champagne were located, after a little hunting around in unfamiliar surroundings, followed by miscellaneous other liquor for the decompression after the part proper's over. I also picked up a few more DVDs yesterday, the Sci-Fi Channel's version of Dune (special edition: three-disk set), the first eleven episodes of Speed Racer, also special edition, and the first four episodes of X-Men: Evolution (I think - it's still early) on a lark. Okay, so I'm hooked on the show. I also found later yesterday a copy of Bubblegum Crisis Live, the music videos that go along with the original anime, which I thought only came in the boxed set.
Once we got home the next problem became figuring out where to put everything for later use. We wound up buying some stay-cold bags at Sam's Club and putting the more sensitive stuff in them to buy some time while we cleaned out the fridge and the freezer. All told, we threw out one lawn bag of stuff and replaced it with the contents of the trunk of Dataline's car. I could go into how we'd had to fold the rear wall of the trunk down to extend the storage space into the cabin but that'd be beside the point. Suffice it to say it's going to be a proper Polish party - something for everyone, and seconds as well. The nonperishable stuff is all stacked up in my lab, like the chips, the bread, and the support stuff, like coffee carafes and ice buckets. I'm going to be cleaning up the Lab tonight, mostly putting books away, getting breakable or little stuff put into boxes, and putting the computers off to the side. This is going to be an all-day project.
Okay, I hear movement upstairs. Time to get to work.
Exactly when I'll have a chance to play with the webcam is anyone's guess. I'm not promising anything.
Microsoft's new webcrawler (IP address 22.214.171.124) is already out and about on the Net, just so you know. It looks like they weren't kidding, after all... though the e-mail address associated with it in the server logs (newbiecralwer at obligatory spam blocking words dot hotmail dot com) makes me wonder a little bit. Oh, well.
It's 1748 EST. I spent the vast majority of the day cleaning the upstairs: Vaccuuming, running the carpet cleaner, picking stuff up and putting it away, throwing stuff away... it's quite presentable looking, if I do say so myself. Mind you, I couldn't have done this alone, everyone pitched in to help around the Lab. Dataline picked stuff up, I ran the sweeper, et cetera. Working together we managed to get the entire place done in about three hours. She started on the kitchen once we got everything put back together while I started on the nightmare that is the back porch. I threw out a decent amount of stuff that's just laying around, like paper bags and old gardening things that have not seen use in several years. I still have to get out the shop vac and clean the floor, and move Ziggy's litter box.
I took a break about halfway through to go shopping before it got too crowded. First stop was the party store for balloons and plastic wine glasses. After that I hit the beer distributor to pick up a case for those who wanted it, and then a fruitless trip to K-Mart to try to find styrofoam coolers. First of all, good luck finding anything there. I wandered around for a half hour searching, to no avail. Trying to get the attention of someone on staff to ask them if they even had any was impossible. I was a little bit miffed by that. So I left the store and drove the quarter of a block to the Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner for the Lab's denizens. I grabbed some chop suey with fried rice for Dataline and some sweet and sour chicken for myself, then stopped at Burger King for hamburgers for my grandfather. We actually got him to try some stuff, he split the won ton soup with Dataline and enjoyed it. Unfortunately we weren't able to get him to try anything else, but it was a start.
After that I hit the supermarket and picked up a trio of styrofoam coolers. They're so light and hold so much.. yet so large they're awkard to maneuver. Buying three of them probably didn't help, either. I somehow managed to make it out into the parking lot and was feeling my way toward the curb when someone taking in a load of carts offered to help me to my car. I handed him one of the coolers and we proceeded to walk back to the car and try to figure out how, exactly, those coolers were going to fit along with everything else. By putting two in the back seat and the third up front with me, we managed to get them all in without any trouble. I thanked him for his much-needed help and drove home. About a half hour ago we finished dinner and I'm letting my food digest before taking another crack at the back porch. Later tonight Dataline and I are going to start cooking. This is going to be interesting.
We're finally done cooking. Lowmagnet came over tonight to help out. We started with cutting up vegetables for the vegetable tray, then organising luncheonmeat, then cutting stuff up for my chili. We decided late in the game to not make a cake (as we're having one made) or cookies because our hands were pretty full with rigatoni and chili. The fridge and freezer are full - we can't possibly get anything else in there. One of the styrofoam coolers was pressed into service with a bag of ice to hold the vegetables, in fact. A quick trip to the supermarket to replace an accidentally frozen head of lettuce was stages around 0945 tonight as well as an ice run. Anyway, everything's either cooking or cooling, and I've just finished picking up what I could of the basement. I'm tired.
Oh, a quick anecdote about cleaning the porch. I spent three hours with a shop vac cleaning up the patio, trying to make it at least presentable. At long last I'd finished with it and was taking it back outside to put in the shed...
The damned thing broke open, right in the middle of the patio.
Dust, dirt, cat litter, fur, and dead insects went everywhere.
I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I didn't curse. I just re-swept everything, which was much easier because I didn't have to scrub the cat fur out of the carpet again, then took it outside and dumped it in the trash.
Maybe I'm mellowing in my old age. Maybe I'm just tired. I don't know right now. I should try to get some sleep.
There's just a little more to do in the Lab, but that can wait until it's absolutely necessary tomorrow.
Jacked out all day today to start getting ready for the grad party. Little time to hang out on the Net. No updates for a while. Sorry. If I can get the webcam up and running (which requires time...) I'll post an alert. Otherwise it'll be another photo album later.
Not an hour ago I finished my last final exam.
At 0600 today my alarm went off, and I dragged my exterior out of bed for basic maintenace. One shower later I was dressed, brushed, and out the door. Amazingly I made it to campus in record time, inside of thirty minutes. I must have left the house early enough to miss all the rush hour traffic, so I made it to class in plenty of time... I wound up waiting outside the classroom with about fifteen other folks in my class waiting for the exam to start. We spent most of the time talking about finals and what teachers were likely to have the hardest exams, stuff like that. The professor arrived about twenty minutes before the exam was to start... and she couldn't get the door open. None of her keys worked. The combination she had for the other door to the room wasn't working, either. Needless to say we were a little put off by this.. a few folks tried to jimmy one of the doors open, but to no avail. Eventually a campus police officer showed up to unlock the door, and we filed in to get it over with.
The formal logic exam itself wasn't too bad if you'd done the homework and studied for it. There wasn't anything esoteric or marginal on the test, just a lot of solid theory - do this, design that, compute something else. Nothing hard. I made it through the exam in about a half-hour, then went back through it on the advice of the professor to double-check everything... and wound up re-doing the second page. After that I rechecked everything by hand and was satisfied enough with the results to hand it in. I'm hopeful.
As I'd finished the exam early I headed to the next building for the algorithm implementation final and sat in the lobby to lunch while I could. I didn't know when I'd next have a break so I took advantage of the time I had to study and eat. I made it through another chapter or two of material and talked with someone else in my class about some of the finer points of one or two of the algorithms. By the time we headed up to the classroom I think we had a decent grasp of the material. The exam was far easier than I thought it would be, certainly easier than the midterm. I'm fairly confident that I pulled a 'B' on the final. I'm praying for a good curve.
After that was the final in American cultures... out of a dozen essay questions, one of which was mandatory, we had to do five others. I took my time on that one, mostly to nurse my wrists. I'm fairly confident that I can pull a B on that one, too, though I honestly don't much care. I'm done with that class and I honestly don't much care about it anymore.
After that I hiked back to the parking garage, got my car, and went for a drive. I was going to head up to Best Buy to see if they had a Sharp Zaurus that I could play around with for a while but there was no way I could get to that part of town. From what I could tell a truck either slammed into a train as it hit the crossing or was hit by the train. Either way, there wasn't much left of the truck, just the hood an part of the cabin, and they were pretty badly trashed. There were fire trucks and and ambulances all over the place, and the paramedics weren't doing much from what I could see. The train was at a standstill and blocked the next two crossings that I could see. So I decided to head back to the Lab early and relax.
I feel for whoever was in that wreck. I know it sounds fatalistic of me but there wasn't much left of that truck. I hope it was fast.
As it turns out, the driver wasn't killed. He had to be sawn out of the cab of the truck but he was alive and taken to the hospital. Either that man's got an Akira-style force field or the gods themselves protected him in that wreck. I was genuinely surprised to hear this.
Earlier tonight Dataline gave me a few graduation gifts to celebrate finishing the semester today. She got me a copy of Gibson's new novel, Pattern Recognition, the softback of Virtual Light, and the trade paperback version of All Tomorrow's Parties (so I now have a copy to carry around with me and keep the hardback safe). She also got me Weird Al Yankovic's movie UHF on DVD. I've got a lot of slack lined up for the next couple of days...
Here's hoping the trend of video game movies sucking too badly to watch doesn't hold true for at least one of these flicks. Frankly, I'm holding out hope for Alice - I've never played the game but have wanted to for a long while. Any video game where the heroine on the front has some of the glyphs from Mage: The Ascension worked into her frock has at least a little potential. The Metroid movie doesn't sound too bad, but the writeup they give it makes it sound like Aliens. I can't believe that someone wants to make a movie version of Pac-Man, though. As much as I love oldschool games... I'm sorry. It's too thin; it's too hazy; I don't think it'll work. The cartoon show didn't cut it even when I was five. The number of planned movies that want Milla Jovovich is starting to worry me.. it makes me wonder if any of these movies will ever escape from development hell, they just want a famous (and cute) face to put on a movie in the hope that it'll attract fans of the game it's based on. To try to keep the movie from sucking. A movie version of Spy Hunter might do well, but the first thing that came to mind was the car chase scene in The Living Daylights (or pretty much any James Bond flick, for that matter). A live action version of Tekken might be amusing, but I'd probably rent it well after it left the theatres.. like the anime version, come to think of it. I really don't know how the new Tomb Raider movie's going to pan out; frankly I could take it or leave it. If someone wants to go see it after it comes out in July, fine, but I probably won't go to see it on my own initiative.
Five hours until I leave for my first exam. This is going to be interesting, as an ancient curse would have it.
This morning, to my surprise, the postman delivered a care package from Lyssa to my front door... in it are a couple of CDs (OSTs for Revolutionary Girl Utena), a small book of advice for trying times, a tiny figurine of a nekojin, a cat-girl, one of the very first Doctor Who novelisations from the early 1970s (Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks) and... a ceramic replica mask of one of the characters from David Mack's Kabuki, Butoh.
It's beautiful. It's a perfect replica of the masque, down to the eyeliner. Moore Creations did an amazing job on the sculpture. When I get home tonight I'm going to take a few picture of it and put them up.
Lyssa, thank you so much...
Santorum refuses to apologise. Yes, I'm taking this one hard....
Trojan horses that put kiddie porn on your deck? What a nice way to set someone up. If you couple that with the now widespread practise of grepping the information store of the mail servers on corporate networks and firing people on the basis of stuff they recieve (like off-colour jokes and sometimes even spam) you've got yourself one hell of a mess on your hands. Life continues to be not safe.
In case any of you are looking for the Strawberry Shortcake spoof that Penny Arcade did I've got a copy of it here.
Here are some of the remarks Senator Santorum made yesterday (mirrored here). And yes, I'm pretty pissed off about this.
2008 EST. Second exam complete. For all the material the professor had us study for the ancient civilisations final, I'd conservatively estimate less than a quarter of it actually showed up on the test. What a waste of time and energy that could have been better spent studying for other exams. I suppose I shouldn't complain, I do try to remember as much of what I encounter on general principles. I've finished stuffing my notes and all the articles into a binder for archival. Maybe I'll scan everything over the course of the summer and put them on line for people to access. There's a lot of stuff that other people might find useful in there. It'll also give me an excuse to put a lot of dead trees out for recycling and free up some space in the lab. As it is I'm going to have to buy some more bookshelves to hold everything.
My wrists are killing me.. not from typing, from writing and propping myself up while I study. I'm getting phantom pains almost constantly in my fingers and wrists.
One more day.. one more day.. one more day...
Habitually, I lay on the floor while I'm studying. I've got a nice little pile of pillows stacked up in the middle of the room and I stretch out on my stomach while I'm doing homework or reading. While it takes a lot of the pressure off of my spine (in particular, the thoracic run) I've realised in the past few days that it's probably bad for the rest of my body. First, I have to prop my torso up so I can read; that means resting on my arms for long periods of time. My wrists have been bothering me recently, and it's not because I've been typing a whole lot this week. Net result: Phantom pain all through my hands and loss of mobility due to poor circulation.
It doesn't get worse, but it does get interesting: The rest of my joints are not taking this well, either. Every time I get up to move around anywhere from five to fifteen distinct joints crack (I've counted them). There are joints I don't even think about cracking whenever I try to walk. It sounds like someone dropped a handful of Rice Krispies into its skeleton when I wasn't looking. At least you can hear me coming, now.... one of these days I'm going to get around to putting microphones on all of my joints and recording the sounds they make to see what'll happen. I should probably do that after finals as a music hack or something.
It's 2353 EST and I've got to call it a night. I've been studying almost nonstop since 1100 EST. I'm pretty confident that I'm ready for the formal logic final. I've gone through the practise sets and redone the homeworks, and I understand automata theory well enough to hack it on the exam; it boils down to regular expressions, which I know decently well (and which we actually covered in class, much to my enjoyment) and I did a couple of inductive proofs earlier tonight to reawaken those parts of my brain, so I think I'm set there. I plan on tapering off so I can concentrate on ancient cultures and american cultures, because I'm still working my way through the material for the former (five documents for the study guide alone!) and I want to get through the data for the latter a second time before I'll feel comfortable with it. After the ancient cultures final tomorrow I'm going to pick up algorithms again. I did the practise test today and did decently well on it. Not as well as I would have liked but enough to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. I plan on working on my weaknesses tomorrow night.
If you havn't heard by now, Senator Rick Santorum of the state of Pennsylvania has made a couple of remarks about homosexuality and what people do in their own bedrooms on their own time and what they can be compared to. Read these stories, you'll never believe me. He also went on to say on the news earlier tonight that "there is no privacy anymore, and certainly not in the bedroom." I wish I'd taped that statement, I really do.
Homosexuality is up there with incest??
Did I not get the memo, or is Santorum letting his moral stance impinge upon decisions that he's making for everyone in the state?
Needless to say, I don't agree with him on this, and it's cost him my vote. His remark about there not being any privacy ranks right up there with it, in my eyes. This is a man who listens to everything everyone in the Senate says like a dog and is always the first to criticise people and suggestions. I get the feeling that he's getting a little too comfortable where he is now, and he's not restraining himself quite so much anymore. Maybe it's time he took a little criticism of his own.
Tomorrow night's the ancient cultures final. This is going to hurt. My grandfather is making chili for dinner tomorrow night... unfortunately I have to leave by 1700 EST to have a prayer of making it to the exam on time, so that kills that idea. And there's no way I'm going to be able to take an exam on an empty stomach - if my body goes hypoglycemic in the middle of a final it won't be a pretty sight. So there goes that idea.
And he makes the best chili, too.
Sorry this is such a late entry.. I've been studying all day, more or less nonstop. I'm coming up for air because I need to give my brain a rest for a couple of minutes. I just finished a bout with algorithms; I've only got one more chapter to go through and then the book's done. To make sure I absorb everything I need instead of highlighting and writing margin notes (which I have the habit of doing to just about everything now) I'm actually taking notes in my binder, effectively forcing myself to reread everything and not just the highlighted parts. One thing about my algorithms book - the farther back you make it in the text, the more esoteric the topics get, and the less depth it goes into them. When it comes to time required it drops exponentially, but it winds up being pointless because what is lost in length is made up for in time thinking about what you've just read. I guess it's a tradeoff. Anyway, I've got one more chapter to go and then I'll start reviewing the notes I'm making. I can get everything packed in by Wednesday night, with the exam on Thursday.
I've decided that credit unions are only marginally easier to deal with than loan sharks, because credit unions have the law on their side. Every month I get a bill for my charge card, and the day after I get it I write out a cheque and send it in. Two, maybe three times a year they don't both cashing said cheque before the deadline, so their computers automatically hit me with a late fee. A few times I've been hit with a late fee even though the cheque's been cashed (because I get the cancelled cheques back). Needless to say, this does nothing to make me trust them, or even believe them. And don't tell me that their coders are dumb enough to not have the autobilling software running in their networks not check to see if a payment's gone through, that's plain common sense. Even I know this.
I'm half-tempted to set up an automatic bill payment daemon that'll send them X dollars every month the day the bill gets printed and be done with it. Once I find a job I'll probably wind up double-paying to cut the balance down. As for right now I'm requesting a copy of my credit history so I can raise a little hell with one of their credit adjustors. It'll probably do about as much good as trying to storm the gates of Hell with a peashooter but it's something to do.
I should probably go back to studying or something.. more definitions to cram into my head for ancient cultures before Wednesday night.
I've finally finished the definitions for ancient cultures. Now I can start studying from them for the final on Wednesday. This should be fun.
Greetings readers from the FAA! I hope you enjoy the copy of White Roses. Please remember, it is a legal .mp3 to redistribute, per the rules at insoc.org. Don't go siccing the RIAA on me.
I've got it! LESS COFFEE!
Smoke 'em if you've got 'em..
I'm a little bit disturbed by this: Director James Cameron is thinking about doing a live-action version of Battle Angel Alita. Why do I get the feeling that the story would wind up being thrown into the shredded and dumbed down for the masses?
I so don't like this... I just stumbled across a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (mirrored here as a .pdf file) to repeal the twenty-second amendment, which limits a president of the United States to not more than two terms. It hit the House of Representatives on 25 February 2003 and hit the Subcommittee on the Constitution on 6 March 2003. The sponsor of this bill is Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. Six cosponsors are listed with teh bill, Howard L. Berman of California, Barney Frnak of Massachusetts, Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey, Martin Olav Sabo of Minnesota, and F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. of Wisconsin; they all signed their cosponsorship on the same day. If this is a joke it's in highly dubious taste.
Well, it's been a decent Easter so far... mostly due to the food. Dataline bakes one hell of a ham, let me tell you. Woke up to breakfast, spent some time with the family, then headed back downstairs to study for a few more hours. I think I'm making some real progress now; I should be ready to go by Wednesday if I keep this up. I might not make it through everything twice but I'll make it through once and I'll have done quite a few practise problems and gone through quite a few study guides.
I finished dinner not too long ago.. meatloaf and a salad, and to top it off I mutilated a couple of marshmallow peeps in the microwave. I think that was the most satisfying thing, all told - peep s'mores. There's something inherently good about a graham cracker, part of a chocolate bar, and a marshmallow peep. I don't know what it is. One or two s'mores later I'm feeling pretty good. Quite relaxed. Maybe it's the chocolate, maybe it's the graham crackers, maybe it's my inner sicko getting off on peeps growing to the size of softballs in the microwave. In the immortal words of Adam First, "I. Don't. Know."
Okay, enough bounciness. Back to studying.
Enjoy your candy, everyone.
Oh, cool! Stealth web browsing!
You know I had to link this some day.. The Fellowship of the Peep.
Well, I managed to make one circuit through the material for finals yesterday. I still don't know how that worked but I'm not arguing, don't get me wrong. If I can cover at least half the material for each subject every day I'll be making pretty good time, I think. The more one encounters information the better the chance it'll make it into long-term memory, and the associations will be strong enough such that it'll be easy to find the information when it's needed the most (i.e., during the exam). I just finished American cultures, next is ancient cultures, followed by logic and algorithms.
The hard part right now is figuring out what in each subject to do. Should I spend time rereading the book? Looking at the study handouts? Answering homework questions to get familiar with the techniques? Rereading the other articles associated with the subject? There's so much information associated with each topic it's hard to decide what to start with. About the only thing that I can do right now is grab whatever's on top and run through it, then take a break and pick the next thing from the stack of stuff and do that.. I'm not letting myself waste time trying to figure out where to start, I'm just grabbing stuff and running with it. I've got to touch on all of it eventually, I may as well just start someplace at random and decide where to go from there.
It's like what I've been reading in my algorithms text about NP-complete problems, which are problems so damnably complex or weird (even though, in theory, they're rather straightforward) that about the only way to be sure of finding an answer to them is to brute-force them. The problem with brute force is that it can take so long that even the fastest computers might not be able to find a solution in anyone's lifetime. One way of coming up with an answer that probably works, though it might not be the best solution is to use a heuristic to make an educated guess as to what the solution might be (by having the software ignore obviously wrong answers, weeding out wrong answers as early as possible during execution, and stuff like that) and then go from there. If it works, fine. If not, try it again. If you've got enough computing power (and you might not, actually, due to the nature of the problem you're working on), try to figure out why the last guess you'd made was almost right or why it didn't work and take that into account when you guess again (one of the basic principles of genetic, or evolutionary algorithms).
I make an educated guess as to where to start and work from there. If it's obviously not going to work I stop and try again from a different piece of material or a different part of the body of information. If it does work I try to build a pattern out of it, and run from there.
Hacking code this long might mean that I'll probably never really relate well to people, but at least my life's getting organised. That's an improvement if nothing else is.
And here's a decided non-improvement of life in general in the United States of America - there's currently a bill in the works for the US to leave the United Nations. It's called the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, and is currently before the House Committee of International Relations. Thank Ron Paul (Republican, Texas) for this little gem, which could further piss off the rest of the planet... the phrase 'tarred with the same brush' comes immediately to mind for the international traveller. Thanks to Rialian for putting this in his Livejournal, I havn't seen this one anywhere else yet.
This afternoon I ran out to pick up last minute stuff before Easter, like food for the upcoming week. Giant Eagle is almost completely out of stuff. I got lucky and picked up necessities for the week upcoming, because we really didn't need much. Insofar as Easter-specific things, like candy, there isn't any. It's either off the shelves or someplace I didn't think to look. Three to one says it'll be back on the shelves on Monday for clearance sale. Before that I stopped off at K-Mart at the bottom of the hill to pick up a big binder for this semster's notes as well as a few other things. While I was there I picked up three pairs of shorts, because it's getting warm now and all I have, aside from a couple of skirts, are cords and jeans. Now I've got something to wear and keep cool in while wandering around.
I had to take a break from studying today. Between pounding back gods know how many readings for American cultures and spending four hours tracking down the answers to the definitions' study guide in the material from the last few weeks (and there's a lot of it...) I couldn't take it anymore. I had to do something else. So I went shopping. By the time I got back and got the groceries put away I was rested and cracked the books for another couple of hours, until dinner was ready. Dataline baked a ham and made potato salad, I baked a meatloaf. I felt sorry for her - the meatloaf was hit harder than the ham was. There's always tomorrow...
It never fails: Once finals week hits, I start getting depressed. To this day I don't understand why, I just do. As far as I can recall I've always gotten depressed when finals come around. I hope it breaks soon. I don't need this distraction.
Welcome to the Abyss, Bryce Lynch. I hope you brought a book.
Today's the last day of classes at Pitt. I headed in earlier than usual this morning because I didn't take the time to pack a lunch, handed in my research paper, stumbled through ten minutes of talking about it in class (I hate talking in class, impromptu or not), then headed back to the car and then home. I finished lunch a couple of minutes ago and I'm catching up on everything before I start studying this afternoon. Dataline's going shopping for Easter this afternoon. I'm kind of proud of myself - I remembered not to park in the driveway and box her car in for once. I've decided that I won't be going to LARP tonight, I can't spare the time, unfortunately.
Right now not much is going on. I plan on starting off with algorithms and then moving on to archeology, formal logic, and then American cultures. That should put me somewhen around 1800 tonight, if I've got it figured right, and after dinner and a break I'll loop through everything again. This is more for my benefit than for anyone's possible interest, I'm just trying to figure out what to do and how I'm going to do it, and I think the best when the linguistic centers of my brain are functioning at the same time. Odd, but it gets the job done. I guess I think on my feet better than on my butt, so to speak.
My god.. there really are Hackers fanpages... how far away are we from 23 December 2012?
The 999 forms of Nyarlathotep are a point of meditation for the true initiate. It is through these manifold faces that the secrets of the universe are made known. Called "The Crawling Chaos", Nyarlathotep is the disembodied ego of Azathoth and thus the universal "I" of known reality. Some of the many documented forms are; Father of Knives, Nephren-Ka, the Black Man, the Beast of the Lashing Tongue to name a few.
|Which Great Old One are you?|
I've packed it in for the night. I've been studying in shifts all afternoon and all evening, and I need to rest my brain for a while. Racing through the material is a good way of getting familiar with it again, but the mind has an in-built overflow trough: If you try to memorise too much information in too short a period of time you'll lose random pieces of information. It's very much like the level one or level two cache of a processor core: At some point old pieces of data are evicted from the cache to make room for the new stuff, and hence the older stuff isn't accessible anymore unless you go back for it. That means that it can't be written from cache to a more permanant location, like a file on disk. The mind does the same thing in that if you try to flood your short term memory with information, you'll lose parts of it here and there before it can be committed to your long term memory, and all the studying will have been for nothing.
I can do this. I can keep it up. I just have to pace myself and not burn myself out. I can't use up my reserves too early.
I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.. a random goth lyric generator?
I took my first final (a not-final, actually) this morning - sci-fi lit. I'm really not concerned with it at all, it was a breeze. That doesn't mean that I didn't go back through and double-check my work, though. I'm good at literature questions but I'm not so sure of myself that I don't check my work. One down, four to go.
This afternoon is the last formal logic class of the semester. After that I plan on heading home to do some studying, first American cultures, then maybe archeology or algorithms. I figure, if I can make it through all of the material twice before the exams I'm in good shape. I'm printing out the study materials for ancient cultures in the lab right now because they're all in colour, and my home printer unfortunately does not have the scale necessary to do a good job on them. All of the details that we need to know for that particular final are colour-coded... I'm screwed one way or the other, but the greyscale conversion I tried to do a few days ago sucks too badly for those printouts to be usable. So I'm dropping $1.45us per colour page to get good ones. I'm definitely keeping these, for the cost per page...
While I'm at it I'm trying to use up the rest of my print quota at Pitt. In all the years I've been here I've still got almost eight hundred sheets of paper I havn't used yet, so I'm printing out a bunch of e-books that I've been meaning to read for a while but havn't yet. I hope I'm doing it right, I'm in a different lab today and I don't know if the print servers in this one are as bright as the ones in the basement of the Cathedral. Only time (and my quota) will tell...
Hey, a Commodore tech manual I don't have yet! Add that one to the queue as well...
The admins're gonna hate me for this. *grin*
Now I just need to pick up about a dozen three-ring binders and fifteen or twenty sets of dividers, not just for this stuff but for consolidating my notes from classes this semester into one place. I'm keeping all of this stuff, it's too valuable, could be too useful in the future. Maybe at some point I'll get around to scanning and OCRing everything but not right now.
Too much to study, too few hours in the day... forget LARPing tomorrow night. Sorry, everyone. This comes first.
Hmmm... I've realised something lately. The more I type, the worse my wrists feel, right? The worse my wrists get the worse my handwriting gets. In reviewing my notes to study for exams I've found that as the semester has progressed my handwriting's gotten worse and worse, sometimes to the point of utter illegibility; I think that's partially from having to write rapidly in class to try to get everything and partially from being unable to use my hands effectively due to said wrist trouble. The only thing that could come from has been the programming assignments this semester. Some days you just can't win. In the end it boils down to being my own fault and not taking better care of my hands.
Today's proving to be a slow, slow day. Rather long-winded, given everything that's going on today (today's the long day of the week, you see), but at least there's time to get done everything that needs to be done.. as well as time to get a good cup of coffee, as Cancer Omega once said. So far I've made it through American cultures class, lunch, and half a chapter for ancient cultures and I'm taking a break to catch up on e-mail and the like before cracking the books again. Maybe I'll wander over to a local coffee shop or something to do everything else, if only to get a break from the library. A change of scenery has a way of keeping things mixed up and moving forward.
In between I'm reading the book Chaos by James Glick. I hope it's still in print, I'd like to get a copy of my own because I'll have to take it back to the library before I have a chance to finish it, at this rate.
Still working on my research paper. I've been editing it and rewriting parts here and there. The C&C I've gotten on it has been extremely helpful and every indication is that it's turning out to be a much better paper than the first draft was. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, as well as letting me cry on your shoulders.. you know who you are.
I've been spending so much time in pure techie mode, at least three years running, that I've had to put the parts of my mind that don't write for other techies in storage to make room. Even on the job I deal more with other technically inclined people than any other sort - it's pointless to use the parts that don't deal with them because they're not the right ones for the job. I've also taken a lot of fiction writing classes, and the modes of thought that are conducive to writing good fiction (like interesting prose, moderately complex words, and a less strictly restrained structure) just don't work for here-it-is-deal-with-it kinds of things like analyses and purchase justifications. It's weird to have to switch mental gears all of a sudden there but at least the transitions' not too hard to manage. I just have to limit the input my senses take in so I can concentrate more effectively and take my time.
Uh-oh... it looks like the state of Pennsylvania is looking at enacting the super-DMCA initiative. The MPAA has started pressuring states to pass this bill, aparently, and it's got the potential to really cause trouble for private citizens. In case you're curious, here's the text of the bill. Time to start doing some research, I think...
We watched The Tick in sci-fi lit this morning.. gods, that was weird. It was an episode of the animated show called The Big Nothing, not the short-lived live-action show from late last year. But that's neither here not there. Anyway, it was pure cheese. I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long, long time... it's supposed to still be on Comedy Network, maybe I'll check it out some night.
I've got my graduation stuff, picked it up in alumni hall this morning. Cap, gown, tassle, and hood - it's all there. Not bad for $42us, considering that I get to keep it. I paid $50us to rent my high school graduation getup. Yep - rent. Couldn't keep it. I got to keep my tassle as a souvenier (thanks, guys). Then I wandered around the exhibition hall to pick up stamps on this little card to enter into a drawing to win stuff. Whee - more swag. I've got a bag full of stuff from wandering around, some stickers, a lot of paperwork, an application for the alumni organisation (which I plan on joining, oddly enough - business contacts mean better chances of employment), some stuff from Pitt athletics.. I signed up for the career center, too, on the off chance that they can help find me a job around here. I'm not hopeful, given the job market right now, but every little bit helps, right?
I'm sitting in class right now trying to look like I know what I'm doing. I think I'd better actually start doing what I know.
Greetings readers from the International Atomic Energy Agency!
Walking through the quad today I noticed something, a very thick scent on the air, floral but deeper. I hadn't smelled that in ages, I could barely remember it. I think it was the lilac bushes blooming all over the place. We used to have a lilac bush out back of the lab, though it was cut down a couple of years back. I havn't thought about it in ages.
Spring's finally here, hopefully to stay.
I bet you'll never look at 80's toys the same way ever again.
Well, today starts the last week of classes. It's about time. Everything that can come due is coming due right now, and thankfully that isn't much. I started working some more on the next revision of my research paper last night, and I hope to do a few rewrites this afternoon to clean things up some. I'm making decent progress catching up in the readings for archeology, I should be good to go by the end of the week. One paper to read for Wednesday, which I can get out of the way with no trouble tonight. Basically it's a lot of reading. I hope to start studying in earnest tomorrow night for finals so I'll have enough time to get all the data pounded into my head.
I saw something nifty in the library this morning: An exchange student had one of the bleeding edge IBM Thinkpads from Japan with him. Thing's slicker than teflon, let me tell you - less than an inch thick (I'd guesstimate 0.75"), about nine inches wide by seven or eight long. Smaller than a sheet of notebook paper. I've no idea how much it weighs, I didn't ask to pick it up. A tiny keyboard, unfortunately. Looked like a full colour LCD panel display to me. The keyboard itself was labelled in Hiragana with English secondary, which authenticated it to my ken. He says they're looking at bringing them to the US in ten months' time, give or take. I've got a URL somewhere for an outfit in California that imports laptops like this, retrofits them for American users, and resells them, maybe I'll look them up again and see how much it is.
Speaking of new hardware, I've been doing a lot of research lately on the Sharp Zaurus handhelds. They're based around embedded Linux, run a 206MHZ StrongARM or a 400MHz Intel CPU, compact flash and compact digital sticks (both), and has both handwriting recognition and an internal keypad. Plus, there's a lot of current hardware and software for it. As much as I love my Newton, there really isn't all that much software for it that I actually have a use for, and I'm going broke paying for what I do use. Also, while I must commend the programmers who are writing drivers for NewtonOS v2.0 and v2.1, they're not for any hardware that I can actually find. Yes, there are drivers for, say, a PCMCIA GPS card... which hasn't been manufactured for five or six years and is impossible to find, even on eBay, because everyone that has one is not going to get rid of theirs anytime soon. Conversely, I can wander back down to Best Buy this evening and pick up a compact flash formfactor GPS card, two 256MB compact flash cards, a 256MB digital media stick, a compact flash modem, and even a compact-flash interfaced digital camera attachment right off the shelf. I also rather like the fact that a Sharp Zaurus can be synched with bloody near any system out there without having to crack my copy of 777, string up more cable from Leandra to Satsuki than was in Iwakura Lain's bedroom, and chant in Attic Greek to get the comm parameters working. Also, trying to find flash cards (not compact flash) to back data up to is becoming more and more difficult. Hell, I think I've found one in two years, and that was a gift from Arashiko.
I hate to say it, but I'm tired of jumping through hoops to get anything done. I'm looking for something that just works, and the fact that I can port some of my tools to it using GCC and then FTPing over the resulting package file (which is actually a .tar.gz file inside a .tar.gz file) really appeals to me. I can either learn NewtonLISP or I can code in C or C++, both of which I already know.
Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I'm just tired of fucking around to accomplish everyday tasks. I don't like fucking around unless it's to try to do something novel; this day-to-day stuff is burning me out.
Here's something you don't see every day... Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, is collaborating with doctors in several African nations to try to leverage the high fevers produced by the mosquito-borne disease malaria in the treatment of AIDS. They're working with a curable form of the malaria parasite (there's a curable form? news to me.) in particular, on the theory that the high fever it causes will assist the body's immune system in fighting off HIV. The controvery is already fast and furious, and with good reason: Being infected with HIV is pretty much a ticking time bomb; at any moment it can go active and swarm your immune system en masse. Then it's only a matter of time. Having full-blown AIDS means that your immune system's on its way out, and it's just a matter of time before something takes you down. Infecting someone who already has a compromised immune system with malaria, which is no picnic from what I've heard isn't a good idea. Dr. Heimlich cites in defense of his theory the use of cowpox to immunise people to smallpox in the past.
April 21-27 is TV Turnoff Week. For just seven days, shut off your television and don't turn it on. See if you can do it. Then see how you view things after a week solid of not watching television.
It really changes your outlook on life, speaking from experience.
Yesterday afternoon was fairly productive, I guess. I forked a version of my research paper and rewrote a good bit of it, mostly cutting out redundancy and clearing up a few things. Mental note: Never compose at the console again. I printed it out and gave it to Dataline to read while I headed out to pick up dinner. The little place at the bottom of my hill has excellent lemon chicken, it's well worth the wait at the counter for. In hindsight I should have passed on the eggroll, it was kind of extraneous and didn't really add anything to the dish.
After that I packed up and drove out to Lowmagnet's for a gather that night. 279 south is still being worked on, so detours are in place to route traffic around the areas of roadway that are being ripped up. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get lost on the detours, even if you know your way around. At first I thought it was my lack of a sense of direction, but I've spoken to a few friends of Dataline lately and they get lost every time out there as well.. Judy says that a few of the signs are wrong. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I don't know the area well enough to say either way. I'm just relieved to hear that I'm not the only one that gets lost out there.
Last night was a small get-together, only seven people in total. Elwing and Silicon were out there, as well as two friends of Elwing's from CMU, Ogervation, Lowmagnet, and myself. Not too long ago Lowmagnet picked up a professional grade Dance Dance Revolution, metal base and all, so that was the thing that got the most attention last night. Compared to the soft plastic pads that thing blows 'em completely away. I got a chance to play around a little bit last night, if I practised I might actually get good at the game. Coordination, like anything else, needs to be practised to be developed.
This morning, after the usual round of basic maintenance, I went on a shopping expedition to gear up for graduation. I won't be able to go much of anyplace for the next two weeks or so because I'll be studying so I stocked up on the consumables. I've found that if you make it to Giant Eagle before 1400 on a weekend you stand the best chance of getting everything you need. Anyway, I'm pretty well set for the next two weeks or so. Right now I'm just going through my e-mail and catching up, then I'll probably start studying later.
The 2003 Jefferson Muzzle Award results are available now. The JMAs, if you've never heard of them, are awards given every year to those people who do the most to try to strip the First Amendment (freedom of speech) from the people. The first goes to United States Attourney General John Ashcroft for making the US Department of Justice all but unaccountable to anyone. The public can no longer find out what it's up to and who it's watching at the moment while simultaneously increasing its power to frightening levels. He's also lobotomised the Freedom of Information Act, so the public can barely get any information at all from the US goverment to see what's been going on. Second is the 107th US Congress for passing the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 without even reading the damned thing. Rounding out the top three is mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley, CA for single-handedly gathering and throwing away copies of publically accessible student newspapers so that others could not set eyes upon them. Way to uphold your commitment to progressive cuases, mayor Bates.
I'm going to stop here. I'm feeling nauseaous.
The ACLU is calling for concerned US citizens to speak out regarding the proposed changes to the USA PATRIOT Act. The bill that will do this is called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act and is meant to expand the information gathering powers of goverment agencies, to the extent that our civil rights will be severely compromised, perhaps permanantly. For example, they will now legally be permitted to spy on activities permitted by the First Amendment by making the definition of 'terrorism' so broad that it could theoretically be applied to such organisations as protest groups or 'private research consortia'. For more information please hit that link and make your voice heard.
Okay. After getting some sleep I feel a heck of a lot better. My head's clear and after a good breakfast I feel ready to face the world.. after I shave, anyway.
This reads a lot to me like executing someone twice: Katrina Leung, suspected Chinese double agent living in Los Angeles, CA, is being charged with tax evasion as well as turning an FBI agent to get classified information. Okay, she's suspected of being a spy. Cold war kinda thing, but okay. But tax evasion on top of that? Something bothers me about this - she was a double agent, which means that she was spying on each side for the other side (on the US for China, on China for the US). Ergo, she's on two payrolls at the same time (three, if the article's accurate - a Hong Kong-based technology company paid her $1,000,000us at some point). Makes sense. She didn't report a lot of money (presumably gotten for spying) on her tax return. Duh! If you're a spy, are you going to report the money you make by spying??? Doing so would have blown her cover quite badly. If what I've read is accurate, each government had something on her which made her easier to control and less likely to go rogue (what the Chinese government had on her I can't begin to speculate, what the US government had on her was probably the fact she was spying for the Chinese government), which suggests that she was being watched by at least one handler for each side. Either way, reporting gigantic sums of money on one's tax return would tip off her handlers, ruining her as a spy (which she is now, by definition, because she's been busted).
They havn't decided if they're going to press the tax evasion/fraud(?) charges yet. I think the US government's holding those in reserve; if China makes a move to extract her so they can get their hands on whatever information she hasn't passed on to them yet, they can play that trump card and keep her in the country and probably in maximum security incarceration to keep them away from her. Probably for the same reason (there might be stuff about the Chinese she hasn't told the US government yet).
Which makes me ponder another point, albeit with less information to work from: In the past decade China's been doing a considerable amount of spying on the United States. The matter of a researcher at Lawrence Livermore Labs (if memory serves) stealing nuclear secrets and passing them along to the Chinese government comes immediately to mind, and there might be a few other things that I just havn't heard about yet for one reason or another. I'm no person to speculate on such things, I just find the notice of such activities interesting. Food for thought.
A little more about last night, while it's still fresh in my memory. One of the things that Dr. Warwick did with the nerve splice in his arm was an experiment in which a pair of ultrasonic sensors were attached to the brim of a ballcap and wired somehow (don't ask me how) into the implant. The idea here was to see how his brain would react to the new input: Whether or not it would even register as meaningful and if so how it would register. He was blindfolded and he put the hat on. Before the experiment he hypothesised that it would take his brain some period of time to get used to the new input and figure out what to do with it. This was not so; his brain hit the ground running, so to speak, and started working with the input immediately. It didn't manifest to Dr. Warwick's mind as a low-res version of sight, hearing, or anything like that. As he described it, he "just knew" (his words) that something was in some position relative to his body and what direction it was moving in. If you've ever read the Lensmen books by E.E. "Doc" Smith, you'll probably remember a few of the alien species in general (and Kimball Kinnison in particular) having what Smith called a "sense of perception" in which you don't use any of your senses, you just know where things are and what they are. That's the most accurate way I have of describing what I think Dr. Warwick was talking about. One anecdote he'd related about this experiment: One of his assistants made a sudden move toward him within the range of the ultrasound sensors, and Dr. Warwick says he felt a distinct sense of "something coming toward him, much too fast" and he ducked out of the way. I find it interesting that he'd interpreted the information in that manner ("threat to self - evade immediately!") and reacted appropriately (just as someone with functioning eyes would, for example, see a basketball coming for their face and duck out of the way).
Lowmagnet and Dr. Warwick discussed this after the informal talks were over and they think that the interpretation of the ultrasound units' input is based upon what the user expects it to manifest as. If, for example, you expected the ultrasound input to manifest as different 'phantom' tastes in your mouth, when you were blindfolded you'd basically taste your way around the room because those areas of the brain would process the information recieved. Kind of neat, that - says a lot for neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire itself to pick up new functions and compensate for damage to other function).
Stelarc and the ethics of biomodification experiments. I'll paraphrase his words here: "Why is it that the medical community will experiment on the terminally ill and those in grevious situations but refuse to even speak to a consenting, healthy adult?"
Afterward we wandered upstairs (and I do mean wandered; we got lost twice) to watch the documentaries showing in the movie screening room. We walked into the middle of the second documentary (the one on Stelarc). They were shown out of sequence so we missed the one on Dr. Warwick. Stelarc's done some weird, weird stuff in the past.. I very much enjoyed seeing the biomonitor performance pieces he did, wiring his body up with sensors to control various pieces of equipment (like the automobile factory-scale robotic manipulator the mocked his movements). Using microphones to pick up sounds made inside his body (such as the beating of his heart and the sounds his joints make as they move) to make music captivated me - at once it was abstract sound, but there was a pattern inside it that I'd never heard before. It was amazing - listening to a body live.
Maybe I'm poorly waxing philosophical here. Sorry.
The documentary itself was a lot like watching the one Terrence McKenna did all those years ago, called Alien Dreamtime (which is out of print, I think - anyone know for sure?) There was a lot of processed video, a lot of wacky tricks with text, some sampling... it was hard to watch in places but a lot of fun.
There was footage of a piece he'd done a few years ago, in which he and a biomechanical designer developed a piece of kinetic art, not much bigger than your thumb when collapsed but able to expand to something the size of your fist once it was opened that was made up of biocompatible materials, such as titanium allows, stainless steel, certain ceramics..
If you havn't guessed by now, it was designed to be placed inside the body. The idea behind this piece was to use the hollow spaces of the human body as an art gallery, essentially reclaiming their use for the conscious mind (putting things in there by one's own volition and operating said things in accord with one's W/will) from the autonomic brain. The device was attached to a long, flexible cable, which he'd swallowed along with an endoscope, used to record the journey as well as make sure nothing went wrong.
From what I'd gathered a lot almost did go wrong. The body doesn't like having stuff like that swallowed, and it'll do its damndest to try to get rid of it. First of all, the cable for the sculpture was about 12mm in diameter, and the endoscope was another 8 mm in diameter. That's 20mm, or two centimeters. Less than an inch, to be sure, but a hell of a lot to put down your throat, all the way down into your stomach, and keep there for 48 hours straight. Second, because it's a pair of long, thin things that are attached, the body's gag reflex goes nuts - it tried to force the cables from his throat almost constantly, which didn't look comfortable at all (and isn't comfortable at all, incidentally). Even if you spend a lot of time learning to control reflexes like that, it's still hard and eventually you will fail and the reflex will take over. Not fun.
Third, if the gag reflex alone doesn't do the trick, it'll fall back on plan 'b', which is causing the stomach itself to purge. Because the cables were fairly rigid, he wasn't able to vomit up the sculpture, but that doesn't mean that his digestive tract didn't try very hard to do so over the next two days. Because the digestive tract isn't designed to push things in the wrong direction it's a very tiring thing for those muscles to do. By the time the sculpture was removed Stelarc was all but exhausted for this very reason. Also, his body took ill from the experiment, in that it had gotten so geared toward trying to expel something from its stomach, even when the sculpture had been removed it kept trying. It resulted in a trip to the hospital and an injection of some sort (probably dramamine or a derivative compound) to settle the nausea.
Damn.. talk about taking one in the name of Art. Stelarc, I commend you.
After that we'd watched a documentary called Cyberman, which was done on the augmented reality/wearable computer research Steven Mann. Dr. Mann (looks kind of funny to type, sounds kind of funny to say) is a cyb. That is obvious. I don't mean the fact he's always wearing goggles of some sort and carrying a considerable wearable computing system on his body at all times.. I mean, just listening to him talk you can just tell. It's the weirdest thing, even for another cyb. "Hey.. he's one of us.."
He's refined passive antagonism to a fine art. The Eyetap technology he's invented allows a micro-miniature video camera to record images from his point of view (POV) at all times. You never know if you're being recorded or not; it seems safe to assume that one would be, if only because sophisticated image processing takes place at all times. Dr. Mann is essentially reclaiming the world from others who would impress their vision of it upon us. The example he gave was advertising: He doesn't want to see it. He doesn't want anyone to put it in front of him when he didn't ask for it. I suspect that if he could he'd program at least one of his systems to edit it out for that reason.
Please keep in mind, eliminating advertising is not what he's all about, it is merely the example, and the most accessible example he could come up with, I think, to get his point across. Our perception of the world is such that we are more strongly affected by the changes other people make to it than the changes we ourselves make to it. By using computers and augmented reality technology to alter our perceptions of the external world, we choose what parts of the external world we perceive and interpret and filter out that which others want us to see. At least, this is what I've pieced together from everything he spoke of in the documentary. I could very well be wrong.
Many people would say that Mann spends all of his time in augmented reality to escape from Deep Reality. He says that he spends all of his time in Deep Reality, unfettered by what other people tell him to make of what he perceives and how people tell him to interpret the data his sensorium gathers, and we are the ones who spend all of our time in a virtual reality. By not augmenting our senses with computing technology, we fall prey to the whims of those who decide what we should see on the street and on television, what we read, what we hear.
I don't know what to make of that. I'm a cyb - I spend my time in both worlds. But is one more real than the other? Am I "little people" because I choose to walk around Outside without a sensory apparatus on? Maybe. Maybe not. I havn't decided yet, I don't have enough information.
Rather unsettling, that.
Still trying to upload assignment #6. Still not able to do so. Still pissed at the admins. Did they already go home for the summer or what?
I think one of the admins just read this page. Assignment #6 is uploaded and awaiting grading. Hail Eris. All hail Discordia.
I'm only going to one recitation today, and that's algorithms, so I can make sure that I've done everything on the project that needs to be done. I finished the project last night, shook the last of the logic bugs out and ran the simulations, and my results are ready to upload. I just want to make sure that there won't be anything that'll catch me off guard and cost me points. I'm done a full week before I'd expected, and I'm going to make the most of the time that I can this weekend. As things stand now, the only things I'm worried about taking care of are my research project and starting to study for finals. Everything else that's long term is done. Fie and good riddance to it.
The undergrads mailing list at Pitt has seen more traffic in the past 24 hours than it's seen in all my years at Pitt? Why? Someone finally figured out that it's not an announce-only list but a fully-fledged mailing list. Add several hundred procrastinating CS majors. Mix well. Take cover. So far someone has suggested a dual-Halo tournament in the lounge and beer pong in the conference room of the CS building. I'm afraid now.
Uh-oh. Someone on staff just yelled at us for this.
Dammit. The CS department's FTP server is screwed up again. I can't upload my project. They can't even set up an FTP server right - it isn't hard to hook it into the Kerberos domain, like they've got every bloody other thing on their network set up! What are they thinking?!
Give me hardcopy any day.
Not too long ago, Lowmagnet and I got back from the Pittsburgh Sci-Tech Festival. As far as I know this is the first festival of this kind Pittsburgh's ever seen, and what a way to kick off a tradition. This evening at the Pittsburgh Filmmaker's Cafe was a triple header, if you can believe that. The night started off with a meet and greet by two extremely interesting people in the field of biocybernetics, Dr. Kevin Warwick, professor of cybenetics at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. He spoke a great deal about the work he'd done with the implantation of the electrical taps into the nerves of his left arm and what he'd done with them. As a side bar, which will become relevant shortly, his wife underwent the procedure at the same time. Anyway, he did some work with recording the electrical half of the chemoelectrical impulses that travel through the nerve trunk leading to and from his left hand.
One of the experiments he'd done with this interface was using those impulses to remotely control mechanical devices. Certain patterns of impulses were used to operate the functions of various armatures, among them a waldo (a mechanical manipulator) and a motorised wheelchair. The reason for this was to prove that it's not only possible but feasable for someone to neurally control machinery. The implications for people who are paralysed should be obvious. He also talked about some of the principles by which nerves transmit information, and why it isn't necessary to understand what the impulses mean as long as they get through. Basically, he means treating nerve fibres as black boxes: As long as the signals make it through, who cares about what they mean, at least at this moment.
One of the more daring things he'd done was by connecting the electrodes in his arm with those implanted within his wife's arm (see, I told you I'd get back to that). The results were most interesting: His wife would move her hand, which naturally produces a kinesthetic sensation (if you move your hand, you can feel your hand move; you can feel the joints flex, the muscles contract, things like that) that registers in her brain. Dr. Warwick also felt those kinesthetic clues, transmitted via the nervelink. Phantom sensations of motion... without any intermediary hardware reformatting the signals. What this suggests about the human nervous system (people are wired more alike on the organic level than natural variation would otherwise suggest) has serious implications. He also digressed briefly into how the information might be formatted (language; symbols; ideas.. it's late and I'm tired) and the possibility of transferring thoughts in this way.
After that Stelarc took the floor. He discussed a few of his past works, some of the things he does (like the third arm), but mostly stayed within the realm of philosophy. A lot of what he does explores the border between mind and body, where the border is (or could be) and what the location of this notional border might mean. Does it matter if the human mind is a function of the wetware alone? If it doesn't, and it seemed to me that he'd hinted a bit in this direction, what does having a body mean? It could be said that humans use technology to augment the capabilities of the human body, extending their powers and scope of influence. Could it be said that the human body is a prosthesis which augments the capabilities of the mind by acting as an interface with to the physical world?
I tend to think that he's on to something here. This is a big part of the metaphysics of Virtuality.
At least at one time, he did a lot of work with virtual reality. The icon of a user acts as a prosthesis which extends the capabilities of the mind within Virtuality, in part by serving as an interface with the virtual world. One of the works he did was with a virtual arm. The point of origin of the virtual limb was the dead center of the visual range, which is very unlike that of organic limbs (offset to either side of the field of view). An HMD (head mounted display) and a pair of VPL datagloves were used to manipulate the arm. The right glove controlled the arm, which mocked the motions made by that limb. The left glove was slaved to a gesture recognition system, which would alter the virtual limb in certain ways (such as causing the hand of the limb to rotate endlessly or cause each finger to sprout a smaller virtual hand). The idea here was to change how the human mind thinks of the limbs it controls by giving the mind a third hand to control with capabilities that we're just not used to having.
He talked about the ethics of augmentation and experimentation as well...
I'm really getting tired now. I think I'll pick this up in tomorrow's entry. I don't want to say something dumb and not realise it. This was too good a night to dishonour the memory of in this way.
We're not discussing Gibson anymore.. we didn't even make it to Burning Chrome.
Damn. Oh, well.. all good things, and all that.
I just snuck into a programming class to use the public cluster, and the professor's teaching from the DoD Orange Book. I'm very, very impressed... I havn't monitored cluefulness like this since DefCon. The country needs more professors like this. Tenured. Or at least just paid well, I don't know this guy.
That class is over and not much is going on right now. I seem to write that a lot... maybe I should make it a macro or an inclusion or something, to save keystrokes. But it's the truth - between classes, just after lunch, not much is happening. It's downtime. I usually do a little reading but I plan on working on my research paper for American cultures this afternoon (due next Friday) and then hacking on my project for algorithms tonight, so I'm catching up on my e-mail as I can before I start work on them. I'm not looking forward to rewriting that paper, mostly because it's the only chance I'll have to turn it in, and it's almost the entire grade for the class. Screw that up, and I'm just screwed. I don't want to have to come back to school in two semesters' time (because summer classes are full and fall 2003 classes are already scheduled, so it would have to be spring 2004), I don't even know if I could afford to do so, given the way things are going on right now.
I'm scared. I want to finally get my degree and be done with it, and I'm afraid that it won't happen and I'll be stuck here for another few years. I don't know if I can afford to keep paying tuition at Pitt the way they keep raising it. I want to get on with my life. Hell, I want to start building a life instead of living like a parasite. I don't know how much more of this I can take.
Well, I've been home from class for a couple of hours now. I did a major editing job on my research paper. All in all I think I've torn about two pages out of it by rewording things slightly and ripping out a lot of redundancy. I have come to the conclusion that I don't compose well at the console. It isn't easy to flip back to reread earlier passages so I tend to lose track of what I've already written. When it comes to creation I cache the ideas I have yet to put down and let the ideas I've already put down fall on the floor - I'm very future-oriented when it comes to creating things. Anyway, if I've got a hard copy that I can dig my fingers into (literally - I put a page between each pair of fingers and flip back and forth as I read, much as an animator does to test the flow of cels) and riffle around in, I can keep a sense of how the text is running and make changes as I go. I'm hacking on my project for algorithms right now, and I think I've finished it. I shook the last of the bugs out of my logic and it's working perfectly. Time for the write up and hand it in.
My taxes are finished - go H&R Block. Amazingly, I'm getting money back this year, mostly due to the consulting I've been doing for pocket money off and on. Between business expenses and being a full-time student (tuition credits) I've got a decent return coming in, which should be enough to hold me over until I get another load of stuff on eBay and do a couple of gigs after graduation.
I noticed something this morning: Every morning after I get dressed I go back into the bathroom to shave and brush my hair. Before I left I cleaned out my hairbrush and happened to look at what I'd pulled loose before throwing it away - a fistful of gray hair. Yep - steel gray. I know it's mine because I'm the only one who uses that hairbrush. Every once in a while when I'm near a mirror I glance around and try to see what's going gray but I can't really tell from any angle I can see in. Maybe someone is using my brush, but the hair's the right length...
In a way, I'm kind of excited. I love gray and white hair (okay, so I watched a little too much Robotech growing up) and I think it's exotic. It's what makes older people look distinguished, I think. Being able to achieve a look like that without having to use bleach and dye is kind of neat.. I wonder what I could do with it...
I just found out that I got a 79 on project 5 in algorithms class. Damn. I guess handing it in a few minutes late screwed me out of some points. Oh, well... bigger fish to fry right now.
The finalists in the Privacy International Stupid Security Measure Awards have been declared. Take a look... truth, after all, is stranger than fiction.
Today is the national Day of Silence, in support of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals who must remain in the close for one reason or another, usually the backlash that awaits from society at large. As I've done for the past couple of years, I'm not speaking today. If you try to call me and I don't pick up I'm either in class or not answering for this reason. Leave me a voice mail and I'll get back to you after 1700 EST.
Today in American cultures class we finished social pathologies and began to discuss some of the things in America that we take for granted, such as what we value the most highly. Over ten years ago people say they valued a stable marriage, being able to buy a house of their own, and a good education. What I hadn't expected the professor to do was ask some folks in the class (the ones who rarely speak - class participation grades are coming due, I guess) what they think constitutes a good education. Dead silence. Then he asked us why we went to college in the first place. The most commonly given answer was.. to get a job to make money.
That's it. To make money.
This frightens me. Maybe I'm showing my naevetae here, but am I the only one who seems to get more out of college than most people? As much as I hate school I have to admit that I've enjoyed the diverse range of topics I've been able to study, like anthropology, writing poetry, a few spoken languages (which I don't remember much of due to disuse, unfortunately), and world history. For people with eclectic interests college is a veritable smorgasbord of information to learn from. Do people really only care about things related to what they want to make money doing, or do they just not talk about it for some reason?
Someone made a valid point in class - you can easily dump all of the liberal arts stuff and just study within your discipline and be none the worse for it in the workforce. But, at least to my reckoning, you paint yourself into a corner by not getting a diverse set of experiences. Sure, you graduated knowing more about Windows and Java than God, and that's all well and good. But if those are the only things that you're conversant in, if you can't hold a conversation about anything else because that's all you studied.. very few people are going to want to talk to you. People aren't made to only learn one thing. As Robert Heinlein said, "Specialisation is for insects."
I've spoken to people like that, and I'll be the first to admit that their knowledge is quantitatively beyond my own in many respects.. but if you get them off of those topics, say, discussing literature or even a recipe for a good ginger dressing, they're completely lost. All science, no philosophy; all facts and no guesses.
Maybe I'm showing my old age in that I refuse to become a one-trick pony. I love learning about all sorts of things and I'm not willing to give that up for anything.
Another point that was made is that diplomas, by and large, show that you can stick with something long enough to see a conclusion, but on the job it really doesn't mean much. From what I've observed working all these years (got my first tech job at the age of fourteen, fixing systems and doing simple database stuff for local nonprofit organisations) this is entirely true. Of all the stuff I've learned in school I don't think that I've used more than one class, all things considered, at work. That was programming in C on a solaris box. The vast majority of what you'll use on the job you learn on the job, either from the books they tell you to read in the few days before you start (or more commonly, in the first few weeks after they hire you, to bring you up to speed) or from the situations you find yourself in and have to resolve on your own. I hate to say it, but it's the truth.
I guess what I'm driving at here is that college fulfills several roles in life, but they are not exclusive and not always applicable. It's nice to know that you can make it through in one piece; it strengthens your will immensely. But don't discount the stuff you teach yourself, because that's just as important, or at least it is in my eyes. Well-roundedness and a sense of balance are important.
An interesting post just came across the Politech mailing list. In the state of Pennsylvania, it is now standard operating procedure to have one's driver's license scanned with a magstripe reader whenever one goes to a bar and is carded, or whenever one goes to one of the state-run liquor stores to purchase alcohol. This is all well and good, as it confirms the authenticity of said driver's licence as well as the age (>= 21 years) of the purchaser or patron. However, word has leaked out that this information is being put to other uses. For example, as has been documented in the recent past, these records can be used to indict people in criminal cases by backtracking the purchase of alcohol to a certain area, to a certain store, and to a certain ID by searching the database of ID scans.
In case you're not from PA, the liquor stores are all owned and operated by the state government. Don't ask me why, I don't know, and smart-ass comments on my part are counterproductive.
Privacy advocates in the state of Pennsylvania are starting to worry about the possible misuses of keeping track of people's alcohol purchases (holy shit, you mean there's more than just me and the few people I know active in this state?!).
Sorry about the comment, that's one of my pet peeves about this state: Organising people is difficult in the extreme.
Anyway, that message caught my attention because it's set in my home state. Move along, everyone..
Speaking of attention.. pass this around as much as you can, everyone. Republicans in Congress are now pushing to make the USA PATRIOT Act PERMANANT. You heard me right, they want to cnacel the sunset on the bill, due to come in 2005. Thank Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah for this lovely violation (and I do mean 'violation') of our civil rights. The Justice Department is keeping everything it does close to its vest and that's scaring a lot of people, not only among us but in Congress and the Senate. As it stands now even they don't know if the Justice Department's agents are abusing their powers. A serious check of power has been lost here. Right now a few people are not just looking at cancelling the sunset but are writing a bill that will make the USA PATRIOT Act permanant.
Think about this folks. And start calling your senators NOW.
There's another article on this here.
We finally ripped into Gibson in sci-fi lit this morning... I havn't felt this satisfied since the last time I've had sex.
We started with something fairly easy, the short story Johnny Mnemonic. One thing about Gibson, he's really not an easy read. His prose is very dense and very visual, and I can see why this can make him tricky to parse. Some very good questions were asked this morning, and I've got to commend everyone in the class for coming with well thought out, considered questions. You don't find that depth of curiosity very often these days. The questions on the quiz were pretty basic, nothing to write home about (sorry, Dr. DiBartolomeo). One of the big themes we keep covering is that of the commoditisation of people - if people are just things to be used that happen to walk and talk, what does it matter? What does it make them? Does the fact that your conscious mind can be turned off make you any less of a person (regarding the meat puppets)? Does the fact that your memories can be erased or added to, or the fact that you can be turned into what amounts to an organic hard drive (Johnny) make you any less of a person? Any more?
Does it even matter if you're a person or not? I can't wait for that question to come up...
Cyberpunk and philosophy go so well together... and when you start drawing parallels between cyberpunk literature and real life, you open a whole new can of worms. For example, stashes (menmonic couriers) pretty much whore out the unused portions of their memory to hide people's data. Let me make a parallel to consultants today: It could be said that computer consultants (like myself, in some seasons) are whoring out their skills and their wrists to whomever needs a techie for a couple of weeks. Does that denigrate the time and money we've put into honing our skills? Does that make us less than computer geeks? Does that make us functionally equivelent to whores (a point that, unfortunately, came up under other circumstances today)? Does it even matter?
Hey, I think I just found my response paper..
I'm going to hold my speculation on this because I don't know if anyone in my class reads this page, and I've got to write a response paper for Thursday, so I'd better keep the content of said paper quiet.
Dr. DiBartolomeo finally figured out that I (meaning, The Doctor) am in her class two days a week... I think I should apologise for that.
You know... when I think of Molly Millions having wired reflexes the last thing which comes to mind is someone being on PCP at will. That was kind of a neat mental image, actually.
The current precursor to the CAPPS-II system is already wreaking havoc with air travel. Apparently, the matching algorithms used to try to find terrorists are matching people who most definitely do not match the profiles of the people they're looking for. For example, an eight-year age difference appears to be no big deal; as Asif Iqbal found out, having the misfortune to share a name with someone is enough of a crime to require FBI clearance just to fly home. A woman, who requsted that she not be named, is also on the blacklist, because her name is similiar to an alias of an Australian man a good two decades younger than she is.
I know they can do some amazing things with plastic surgery these days but this is rediculous.
The blacklist's only getting longer, too... and it appears to only be catching the people it isn't supposed to. And so much for the fuzzy logic revolution... your name being within spitting distance of the name of someone on the blacklist is enough to get your boarding pass stamped with an 's', meaning 'security risk', it apparently. Word has recently gotten out that there are actually two lists, a no-fly list which, if you appear on it, is grounds for Johnny Law to be called, and what is being called a 'selectee' list, which gets you the 's' stamp (I guess that's what the 's' means). Lawyers are having a field day with this screwup.
Just a quick heads up: A sneak preview of The Matrix Reloaded at wired.com. Read this one for its sense of humour, if nothing else. Hell, it got me to add a new quote to my .plan file...
Not long after I wrote that paragraph I dumped a copy of that article to a printer for Dataline. I gave it to her at dinner and she leafed through it a bit, eventually stopping on the picture of Carrie Ann Moss. "Wow, he looks just like you!" she exclaimed.
Damn, I'm good.
Greetings, readers from Microsoft! Sorry I don't have anything up for auction at eBay right now.
Your name alone strikes fear into others; but maybe, just maybe, there's a little vulnerability and weakness beneath that stoic, fierce exterior of yours.
Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.
You know.. I'm kind of afraid now...
I can kick Yu-gi's ass at Illuminati any time, any where, though.
Well, not a whole lot's happened lately... got up, did basic maintenance, drove to class, went to American cultures... that's about it. Did two of the readings for said class, had lunch, then broke out Kabuki to work on my paper. I get the impression that she rather enjoys the Pitt campus, though there isn't any wireless LAN access in the library. Just for fun I popped in the card anyway and gave the UPitt configuration a try. Sure enough... the drivers don't accept the WEP key. Dammit. If I had the money right now I'd walk over to the bookstore and pick up one of the Cisco 802.11b cards they've got in the back (for $159.00us), but I can't swing that kind of cash right now. It isn't terribly important right now anyway, I don't really use her wireless LAN card anywhere but the Lab, and I tunnel everything via SSL anyway over that medium.I wrote up another three languages for said paper, saved my work, then poked around inside Kabuki's collection of backdrops to see what was in there. It's pretty much a mirror of the directory on Leandra but I deleted a few duplicates. Basically I was showing off to see who would take notice of what I was doing, but no dice. Oh, well. So much the better, sometimes.
One of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act is that librarians must now keep records of every book that people take out and what they search for in libraries' networks (among other things). Furthermore, if anyone from the US government comes knocking, they've got to turn over the records with all haste and are forbidden to even mention that they've done so. Some librarians aren't taking this well (no login required).
Personally, I've been enjoying going to the libraries and taking out the weirdest books that I can find... books on venereal diseases, religious cults, shipbuilding, kid's books (I find that I really enjoy US Acres, by the creator of Garfield), and at least one copy of 1984 each time. If the feds ever come to the library asking about me I'd like to give them something to wonder about. Hey, if Big Brother's watching, you may as well do the truffle shuffle.
Greetings, readers from the DoD Network Information Center! Enjoy the screenshots!
Are you curious about where the news correspondents are in Iraq? Check this map out.
You know... ordinarily, I keep my mouth shut about such things, but this is one of the most condescending things I've read about in a long, long time. If I've read a few of the reprints of Army training manuals right (gotta love surplus stores), you can't keep people from bathing because poor hygine is a potential health hazard, and blackmailing people into baptism is not only a violation of this, but is also insulting and disrespectful of whatever path someone is already walking. There's something to be said for respecting someone enough to not try to convert them - how would Chaplain Llano feel if the cook in the mess tent refused to serve him until he sat through a one-hour lecture on the Torah? I'm willing to bet that he'd be pretty angry in a situation like this... it might be interesting to ask some of the troops what they think about this.
Anything to procrastinate.
Okay, so I've basically been in third gear lately. Earlier today I drove out to campus to have lunch with Adept and talk about my research paper for American cultures. Seeing as I got there about an hour early I decided to kill some time and burn up some Phantom Dollars (customer appreciation certificates from a local comic shoppe), so I wandered around in the boxes of back issues and picked out a handful of hard to find Kabuki issues (like the calendar and issue 1/2, the promo issue) and rounded things out with all the unique issues of Silent Mobius that I could find. Afterward, I just sort of wandered around until Adept appeared, at which time we walked over to the Star of India for lunch. I goofed slightly - I thought Ali Baba's was open for lunch on Sunday but I was wrong... oh, well. It's still really good food at a good price. I'm still full (and it's well after 1900 EST).
Anyway... a while ago I sent Adept a copy of my research paper to C&C, because I got a fairly... negative, let us say... response on it from the professor of said course. Adept's got a lot of good points regarding the paper - I've defined stuff a little too deeply, the concepts have been broken down far enough that they're actually kind of confusing if you're not a cyb. I'm planning on a rewrite in the next few days, in which I plan on cutting out some of the extra details, which will sacrifice accuracy but it's the accuracy that's muddying the waters, so to speak. It has to be simplified; not necessarily dumbed down for the greyfaces but not a design spec, either. Which, come to think about it, it resembles greatly. Which is sad because I'm an admin by profession, not a programmer.
Adept's graduating this semester from CMU. I'm going to miss him a great deal; I've made a lot of friends through the Cam at CMU, and so many people will be leaving... Pittsburgh's going to be much emptier after they leave. I'm going to miss everyone a great deat. I havn't made friends as good as these since my BBS days, in the 1990's. The camraderie is very similiar, and I love times like this. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.
My lives have too many endings; I could use some new beginnings.
Both of us are wondering what things are going to be like after graduation. Adept's a mathematics major; I'm applied CS. Neither job market is exactly booming right now; a lot of companies have frozen their hiring programmes to save money, which on one hand is conserving money and thus keeping them in business, but on the other hand it's screwing a lot of us in the private sector. We had a discussion about careers (we discussed a lot of things, actually, but this stuck in my memory rather strongly) and what it's like to have a string of jobs but not a life-long career, and vice-versa as well. I've never had a career, and probably never will, just a string of companies that need someone to keep their systems healthy and stroke the end-users while I get their desktops running again (which I hate, to be honest). Adept's looking for a job that'll last for years and years, hopefully with the same employer. Not being in a position to even consider something like that, I couldn't be of much help there. I feel kind of bad about that.
Okay. Enough pontificating about getting a job. I'm working toward vacation right now, not a job hunt.
Ninja Burger. Do you need a reason?
Okay, now this is just getting out of control.. let the record reflect, however, that I've been working on my paper for the past four hours, so I have not been wasting time.
I got back from the library not too long ago, not more than an hour or so. I finished the last two books in the suggested resource list for the paper and then headed over to the bookstore to pick up a graduation cap and gown, even though I'm not going to the graduation ceremony. To be perfectly honest, I'm pretty well tired of school and I really don't feel the need to spend eight hours or so with people from my class that I don't even know. I don't have many friends at Pitt, mostly because I'm only there for class. I don't do the usual hanging out after class stuff with people because I don't have time. I either study or I'm on my way home to do homework. I guess those are the breaks of commuting.
At any rate, I don't have many connections with the others in the class of 2003, so I'm not much interested. I'm trying to get a cap and gown as keepsakes, to show that I was there, did that, yadda yadda yadda.. anyway, they aren't available at the bookstore. Graduation stuff is available only at the grad fair the week after next. Cash up front, first come first served. Looks like I'll be camping out.
After hiking back to my car I stopped off to pick up a DVD copy of Red Dragon for Dataline (wide screen edition, of course) because it's finally come out and then headed back to the lab. Right now she's watcing One Hour Photo on pay per view and I'm downstairs watching X - four again. Maybe I'll jack out and do a little work on my paper this afternoon. I spent much of last night hacking on my sixth algorithms project, and made a great deal of headway. I've got the first half of it done already, now I just have to figure out the graph traversal algorithm and that'll be the end of it. I'm confident that it'll be complete by next Friday, assuming that I get a few hours of work in each day. I'm planning on starting to write the research paper tomorrow afternoon, when I get home. I can do a little tomorrow, some on Monday from school, and some Tuesday after class, and get the whole thing wrapped up in fairly short order.
It's just crunching data - pretty easy stuff.
Well, I didn't get a whole hell of a lot done today. Ask me if I care.
Today was a day where, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get more than four out of eight bits clicking today. I don't feel like coding.. I don't feel like writing my paper, even though I did some research for it, I don't feel like reading.. I don't know what the hell I want. I polished off the vegetable stew for dinner tonight, along with two slices of Dataline's home made bread (wow...), then drove to Borders and sat around reading manga and drinking hot chai. And I'm happy.
I got next to nothing done today, and I'm happy.
For just a little while, I broke out of the rut I've been stuck in. For once my brain got to do something different.
I think I'm going to make some tea.
Mmmmm... good cinnamon tea. I'm going to have to pick up a pound or two of loose cinnamon tea soon.
I'm watching The Animated Adventures of Jackie Chan on Cartoon Network right now. This is silly.. I like it. The backgrounds are very unrealistic and... well, cartoony. It's cute, but it's not-disgusting cute. Flying bat-winged ghost ninjas are kind of neat.
Morpheus preserve us.. make George Bush dance!
It's Friday! Too bad it won't be a relaxing weekend of any sort.
I'm sitting in a lab killing time until my next classes start. Thankfully I was able to go to class today, that prior situation changed out from beneath me and frankly I'm rather relieved at this. I'll be spending the afternoon doing research for my paper while the library's open, and I'll probably start writing it this weekend, if everything goes according to plan. I got to do a little coding last night, which was also a relief, though I must confess I'm a little hung out on trying to dynamically allocate a matrix in C++; arrays are no problem, but what you think would work for a matrix
int *matrix = new int[foo][bar];
doesn't work. That's going to be the first question asked in recitation today. Maybe it has to be a double-pointer, a pointer to an array of pointers:
int **matrix = new int *[bar]; for(int i=0; i
..or something like that. Allocating an array of pointers, and then allocating an array attached to each pointer. That seems about right.
Last night I burned a copy of my X/1999 Character Files CD for Dataline and left it with the stuff she usually takes to work with her. She called me this afternoon - she's fallen in love with it. She says it's some of the most beautiful music she's ever heard. It feels good to do a good deed now and again...
SARS (Severe Acute REspiratory Syndrome) has been added to the list of communicable diseases which warrant quarantine of patients by executive order 12452 from the White House, as of 4 April 2003. Hit the Politech archives for the original post.
This is kind of cool.. I'm watching The Screensavers on TechTV and one of the hosts (the guy with the dark hair, I don't know his name) is wearing what appears to be a skirt or a Utilikilt, I can't quite tell. I'm highly impressed by this - this is national television. Way to break through.
This morning's discussion of Killswitch (the X-Files episode) wasn't nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. The episode itself was shown from DVD (mental note: pick up that DVD) but afterward... I don't know. It was sci-fi, yes, but a lot of people just kept quiet. I think it's because it was pretty far departed from what we've been reading in class lately, namely it's set in the (fictionalised) modern day. Gibson's work isn't easy by any means, either, so that might have thrown a few people.. Dr. DiBartolomeo dropped some of his more dense work from the curriculum because it was giving people a lot of trouble. I really could have done without the sidebar of teledildonics, too. This is a sci-fi lit class, people, not Mondo 2000.
This is one of the neatest FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions files) I've ever found. This one, oddly enough, concerns Sumerian. Among the questions on the page are translations from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Simon's Necronomicon, and the origin of the word 'nibiru'. If you've got some time to kill, give this a once-over.
I know that I havn't written much here today.. not a whole lot's going on, I'm afraid. Classes are done for the day, I just finished dinner, and I'm working on my research for my paper. Due to a pre-existing situation I don't have to miss class tomorrow, and more importantly I can spend the entire day doing research so I can hack code later this evening and all night tomorrow. I don't know if that counts as time management but it does serve much the same purpose. I try to knock off reasonably early (around 2300 EST or so) but sometimes that just isn't possible.
Here's something that should give you pause.. a new anti-terrorism bill in Oregon would make anti-war demonstrators terrorists, with a minimum jail sentence of 25 years. So far there has been strong opposition to the bill but only the vote will decide what happens. The designation of this bill is Senate Bill 742 - write your senator and intelligently tell them that you stand against this bill. And keep note of who your senators are - if they don't listen, don't vote for them on election day. The language of this bill is so vague it's practically a civil rights sledgehammer - it erodes the basic freedoms of US citizens to gather and make their voices heard. Legislators say that the bill doesn't have much of a chance, but then again if legislators had read the USA PATRIOT Act it probably wouldn't have passed, either..
It never fails - the one weekend I'm up to my neck in homework someone calls and wants to know if I want to go out for sushi. I can't. Dammit.
This is the creme' de la cool.. at the Pittsburgh International Science and Technology Festival on 11 and 12 April 2003, some folks from the cutting edge will be there. I'm talking about Dr. Kevin Warwick, who is Professor Cybernetics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and is currently researching new techniques in artificial intelligence (and was in the news back in 1998 and again in 2000 for having functional silicon circuitry implanted in his body), and... dramatic pause... Stelarc. I am so there.. I've been following these two (the research of the former and the performance art of the latter) for a few years now.. this is too neat an opportunity to pass up.
Not every journalist in the United States has a kind opinion of the United States media.
Another long day, another day closer. American cultures was reasonably boring this morning, which is pretty much par for the course. There was a fairly abstract discussion about what makes someone a criminal and what is or is not a crime, which I stayed out of. It's just grey enough an area that my usual context-sensitive ideas would have caused more problems than solved them. That wasn't what I had in mind, so I kept quiet.
Lunch, then more research for my paper. I ran into my ancient cultures professor somewhen in there, we had a good discussion about picking up some interesting information in the process of digging up data for the main paper. There's a lot of cool stuff out there, you just have to run into it while you're working on something else. That's how it usually works, anyway. After that I plowed through another fifty or sixty pages of the book I have to read for the American cultures final in a few weeks. It felt good to finally make some more progress after having to let it sit for a few days.
Still havn't started the last algorithms project yet. We're supposed to cover the requisite material this afternoon, which is fine with me. I still hate graph theory and traversals, though.
I'm finally back home... two bowls of vegetable stew and a dinner roll later and I'm feeling quite amicable toward the human race. Data structures was actually highly revealing, in that we covered the basics of graph theory today and I think I understand what I'm supposed to be doing a little bit better. It's 2306 EST, though, and I really don't feel up to hacking code. I think I'm going to take tomorrow afternoon and sketch out what to do and then work from there. Historically, that gives the best results in programming projects. Right now I'm just playing lifestyle catchup.
I found out tonight that a guy who used to live across the street from me was shipped to Iraq not long ago. We grew up together, more or less - he's about five, maybe six years older than my body is. He met me just after I was born, if that dates things... I'm afraid for him. I'm not sure of what to think about that.
That was a close call... in sci-fi literature this morning I dropped my car key and didn't notice it until I was in the library, doing research for my next archeology paper. Why did I not notice it until then? I make it a habit to inventory my pockets every hour or so just in case something like this happens. I ran back to where I had lunch, scanning all the way. No keys. Quickly, I called Dr. DiBartolomeo (more on her later) on my mobile - she'd found them but left them on the desk just in case. I headed back to the classroom and hunted around - no keys. Another call to the good doctor. "Maybe they were taken to lost and found."
Across the hall. "Where's lost and found?" "Downstairs in the garage." Okay... down the elevator, across the garage, into the police department (nothing but parking lot). The keys weren't there, but they did give me the number for lost and found... which has been disconnected. Great. Before I could ask what the new number was the officer behind the desk told me that a set of car keys had been turned in at the detectives' office in the same building, not far away. Across the garage, up a few stairs... and bingo. Once I described where they'd been found and what they looked like, I got my keys back, along with the business card of the gentleman who had found them and turned them in. I owe him one for this. I'll have to pick up a card to mail to him later today.
Okay.. now that the latest little piece of drama is out of the way, sci-fi literature was, in short, a scream. We discussed Bladerunner this morning, and you can tell who the cyberpunk afficionados were in the class... that would be Cain, sitting two seats over, and...
I have to tell you something about Cain. He's an extremely intelligent man, with a depth of understanding and insight which never fails to shock the discussion onto an entirely new train of thought. He's also.. unassuming. About twenty minutes into class, he reached into his backpack and pulled out a baked pie crust, which he began breaking pieces off of and eating. Yes, a pie crust. Dr. DiBartolomeo broke down laughing when she saw this. The discussion progressed some more, and the pie crust began dwindling in size and the discussion started getting very, very esoteric (with Bladerunner it's hard not to; hell, people have done Ph.D theses on the movie), symbolism, the origami critters, what separates humans from replicants, the whole nine yards. Wonderful stuff... I was backstroking in it. Cain kept eating... then he went off on two tangents, one after the other, about the symbolism of eggs in science fiction literature, and drove the class into gales of laughter, which disrupted things for about ten minutes straight. The poor doctor was hunched over at the desk, she was laughing so hard.
About ten minutes after that, Cain brought out a can of whipped cream, which he began to nonchalantly spray into the pie crust, filling it as evenly as he could (and keeping a straight face all the while).
Meaningful glances were exchanged at this point. I half-thought that I was going to get nailed with the cream pie, but when Dr. DiBartolomeo turned her back briefly he hefted it in his hand and tested how far he could comfortably reach from his present location... forward.
Good, I was out of the line of fire. But this had serious comedic potential.
At one point she confiscated the pie but it was swiftly retrieved. Wisely, it was taken a second time and not returned until after class was over. I don't know if it was the disarmingly easy manner in the way he set things up, or if it was so corny that it was the last sort of prank anyone had expected to see today or what, but for some reason it was the funniest thing I've seen in a long, long time....
We're covering Gibson next class. If it's warm enough, the old 412 crew will be represented in full colours. *grin*
Michael Jeter died... aww... he was a neat actor. His cause of death has not yet been determined; word got out some time ago that he was HIV-positive, though, so it is possible. I didn't know he was part of the cast of Sesame Street .
A petition is currently active to strike down the missive that the NCIC database's contents no longer need to be accurate. In case you havn't heard, the US government is thinking of removing the restriction from the National Crime Information Center's database which says that information on the people, vehicles, and objects must be accurate. Think about how bad it could be if you've got a record in that database... and the data's wrong. "Running a red light.. first degree murder.. what's the difference??"
Sign this one, folks.
I just figured out my exam schedule.. I have three finals back to back in one day, starting at 0800 EST and continuing straight through until 1400 EST without a break. Well, maybe if I finish one or two of them early I might get a few more minutes to walk to the next building, but I'm really splitting hairs there. I'm really not looking forward to this.
Lock and load, cats and kitties. *cracks knuckles* Let's rock.
Assignment #6 is on line. It's implementing graph analysis again! Fuck! I thought I escaped that drek when I got out of datacomm class.. I can't get away from it! When the hell am I going to have time to work on it, let alone write this stupid research paper.....
Grades are in for the fourth project - 100%! Oi!
Okay, so I thought it was April first... my bad.
What happened to the spring weather, anyway? It's almost April, and it was snowing as I was walking to lunch this morning... snowing, for Kibo's sake! What's going on here?
I feel cheated.
I'm actually feeling a lot better right now. I didn't wake up feeling like I'd been used for a baseball bat this morning, which is always a bonus, though I still have a bit of a cough now and then. Last night my throat didn't start bothering me until almost midnight, when I take my exterior offline anyway, so I think its immune system is finally getting with the programme. Things were a little slow to get moving this morning but I was on schedule the entire time, no complaints there. First class went decently well, if I do say so myself. Right now I'm sitting in a lab catching up on my e-mail, writing this update, and transferring the files I need to read for archeology this week over to Leandra so I can print them out tomorrow. I finally got my hands on the research paper topic last night - ancient languages and their roles in various societies. Fun. I'll be hitting the library tonight after dinner and picking up a brand new batch of index cards, I think.
We start Gibson in sci-fi literature tomorrow, I think. If the weather's nice I'll be showing up in full regalia (412 represent!) for kicks. This should be interesting. If not.. I've got a few nice skirts that I havn't worn in a while.
I've just put the pictures from the Keep's first birthday party on line. Take a look. As always, e-mail me if you see any errors in the attributions.
This morning as I was driving in to campus I listened to the X Character Files CD that I picked up at Tekkoshocon on Saturday. The music's fantastic, the best way I can describe it is a collection of musical portraits of the fourteen main characters. All styles of music are represented on the album, from classical to ambient, from hardcore to acid jazz. This particular CD is going to be backed up very, very soon and added to my collection. It didn't take long for it to become one of my very favourite albums. There are even a few pieces in there that would be good for high ritual.
Minor political update - I just found out that an old friend of mine got picked up by the police during last week's protest. Dammit. She was gassed and hauled away, and if the pics Someone sent me are any indication, she's not liking life a whole lot right now.
Dataline just sent me down an update - she made the front page of the paper.
Fuck. I wish there was something I could do from here.
Dude.. Jones went AWOL!
The number of confirmed deaths due to smallpox vaccination is now two. There have been other deaths which may or may not be linked to the vaccine, and a rising number of cases of people suffering nonfatal side effects, including angina (chest pain) and myopericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium, the membrane surrounding the heart muscle or the heart muscle itself). The number of confirmed cases among military personnel is now 10, but the numbers are being kept quiet right now. Two thirds of the civilians vaccinated so far are over the age of 45, which suggests that the vaccine or something in the vaccine is aggrivating an existing condition. I've been trying to track down more information but my head really isn't together enough to do so right now.
My immune system and I are going to have a little talk.
Pictures from Tekkoshocon 2003 are now online!
Dataline and my grandfather are sitting upstairs watching The Boondocks Saints again and laughing like loons. I think they finally get it.
If you don't watch wrestling you might want to follow this link. Great C'thul'hu vs Lord Smiley Face for the Interdimensional Heavyweight Belt!
The month of April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
I feel like I should write something deep here, something well thought out and insightful... something intelligent. I don't think that I have anything at all to say that falls into any of those categories. I feel afraid. I feel sadness. I even feel anger that something so despicable can happen in the world. I try to tell myself that everything that happens does because it fills a certain need in the universe, it fits into the grand scheme somehow and strengthens the overall framework of the world but...
The idea that some children must be harmed makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. I wish that there was something I could do.. I wish that I could step in just once and keep this from happening.
Something inside me says that I should be saying things like "tell your kids, if you have them, that you love them" or "praise them when they do something good", but that feels empty. It's what all the flyers and television commercials say to do; that doesn't necessarily mean that it means anything.
I guess what I want to say is that if you love your kids.. show them. Tell them that you love them, and don't forget it for a second. Prove it to them by being good parents. Please.
Off to Tekkoshocon!
Well, I'm home. I'm home and I feel like someone's been beating me about the neck and head with a blunt and rather heavy object. I'll come to that later, though.
Got up this morning, yadda yadda yadda, drove out to CMU to pick up Lu. Fairly uneventful up to that point. Our first destination was Goodwill on the South Side to finish picking up stuff for her costume. One pair of boots and one black turtleneck later she was outfitted and we started out for the convention. This turned out to be the easiest part of the entire trip.
As a little back story, a good deal of the highway system south of Pittsburgh is currently under construction. The detours PennDOT's got in place will take you anywhere from ten to fifteen miles out of your way, which really isn't so bad because most of that is ramps and bridges. Once you start going it's a straight shot. However, this changes the directions for the convention significantly. At this point, things are a little bit fuzzy... in theory, if you follow the signs you can get to the airport with very little trouble. By taking the detour, which somehow dropped us precisely on the other side of the tunnels, my usual landmarks were completely screwed up.... I won't say how I got us lost, I can only tell you that I got us so lost, we wound up in Washington County, which is so far out of the way it isn't even funny. All told, we somehow went four hours out of our way.
Four bloody hours.
This is why I try not to leave my house. I can't find my way around worth a tinker's dam. After a few harried phone calls, some panic (on my part, oddly enough), and stopping for directions we somehow got back on the right path and found our way to both the airport and the Wyndham Hotel around 1430 EST this afternoon. We sorted through our stuff to figure out what to bring with us and what to drop off, then headed into the convention. Lu went to change while I switched my glasses for contact lenses (one prosthetic, one not, both corrective), put on my shades, and traced out a glyph on my hand. Yep, I did Sakurazuka Seishirou again. Lu returned a few minutes later, clad in black with a white trenchcoat. A few seconds' work with the makeup to produce a pair of pentagrams, and her guise as Sumeragi Subaru was complete.
Unfortunately, only two people recognised us. We happily posed for their camera.. guys, I hope your shot came out. Enjoy.
Pickings at the con were pretty thin, which I'd expected for a first-time event. This is the first Tekkoshocon ever, so it's a start. I was talking to John and Lara on staff, and they said that the con was already in the black. They've got twice as many attendees as they'd expected and they're quite happy about this. Only one situation has occurred so far, and that was trivial to resolve. Here's hoping that's the only one this weekend.
I ran into Lowmagnet and Genetik between rounds of DDR. Genetik's in the competition. When last we spoke he was ranked ninth, so he was most likely in the semifinals. I've seen Genetik on the pads, he's a madman once he gets rolling... bro, knock 'em dead. I'm cheering for ya'.
Ran into Seele and SloJo, too. When did Seele get a labret?
Around this time, my throat started feeling scratchy... that's nothing unusual, so I didn't think too much of it. We headed for the dealer's room to wander around a bit. There weren't many there. Lots of DVDs, lots of manga trade paperbacks, lots of soundtracks.. I picked up a pair of soundtrack CDs while I was there, the X/1999 Character File and Dance Dance Revolution 2nd Mix. They had a few other things there, like the Evangelion S2 CD Set and the soundtracks to Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Akira. I looked for Revolutionary Girl Utena stuff there for Lyssa, but pickings were thin. The stuff I was able to find she already had. Sorry. I also picked up an X t-shirt, with Kameui in front of the clockmaker's gears and angel feathers everywhere. Dataline loves it, especially said feathers.
Anyway, things were a little cramped so maneuvering was difficult. After a swing through the dealers' room we took a quick look in the art gallery. There wasn't much there, I'm afraid.. some good catgirls, that's about it. I might have placed bids on two of them, but that's about it. The adult art in the back wasn't much to write home about, I'm afraid.
By that time I was definitely feeling some pain.
We walked back across to the convention side to see what was going on. They were showing a couple of series in the projection rooms, and somehow, don't ask me how, got their hands on a live-action version of Dragonball-Z. Yes, live action - a wire-fu flick. It was so bad the guys MSTing it didn't help it any. Lu, Lowmagnet, and I just looked at each other and tiptoes out of the room.
Speaking of catgirls... ye gods. There were so many it felt like I was at a furbecue. I'm not complaining by a longshot, merely making an observation.
The video game room had a considerable number of systems represented. For some odd reason I was sucked over to a new-style Nintendo 8-bit with... a Mattel Power Glove. Unfortunately, the guy who had it was having problems with the unit - I think it needed to be calibrated but I can't remember how to do so for the lives of me.
After that we drifted up to the con suite on the third floor. I tried introducing us but I discovered that my voice was all but gone... feeling quite embarassed (and not a little bit put out) I just sort of sat out of everyone's way and tried not to be too visible. Lu and I wound up trying to talk (well, she talked and I sort of rasped) for a while and split a plate of munchies. John came up and we talked for a while, swapping info about the con and catching up on current events. He looks run ragged but he's having a blast and I think he's quite proud of how things turned out.
We left shortly therafter. Lu was going to the uberLARP tonight and she had not eaten in some time, and I was feeling like I'd been knocked around a bit by the Klingon who was walking around the con.
Yeah, I don't get it, either.
Anyway, we headed back toward Oakland and stopped off at Einstein Brothers for a bagel sandwich. Amazingly we got there with no trouble whatsoever. I didn't get us lost at all. I'm not arguing, however. Anyway, we had a quick dinner and I dropped Lu off at the apartments.
Lu, you left your con bag in my trunk. And I still have that C&C of Nicole's fanfic in my backpack. Remind me.
Which brings us up to the present. I'm sitting in the lab typing this on Kabuki. My headache's pretty well gone but my throat feels like someone made me swallow most of a box of Brillo pads. I think I've got a throat infection. I'm going to the doctor as soon as I can.
Dammit. I can not affort to miss any more class. I can't take any more time on the workbench... it's too close to the end of the semester and I want to get the hell out of school!
Watched Max Steele on Cartoon Network. This show looks a lot like the work of Mainframe Productions. I might do some looking around later tonight to see who made it.
Watching Transformers Armada right now. Since when is Wheeljack a Decepticon?
Pokemon is on. I still don't see the attraction.
Blackcat, thank you so much for the honey you gave me about two years ago for Yule.. I'm putting it in my tea and it's helping my throat immensely. What's more, it's incredible in cinnamon tea! It's cutting the pain in my throat like nobody's business.
Last night I finally got around to painting Kabuki's housing; I added the kanji characters for 'song-dance-action' (ka-bu-ki) to the back of her LCD panel. She's finally be christened. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and put them on line.
Oh, gods!!! I'm watching the International Film Channel and guess what is on... the dubbed version of the live-action Dragonball-Z movie...
I can't escape the bloody thing... I'm going to bed.
Greetings readers from Jeeps Unlimited!
Sleeping too much always messes with me. I've gotten so much rest in the past two days that my sleep schedule's all messed up. For once I feel bright eyed and bushy tailed without the aid of large doses of stimulants or electric shocks. American Cultures class wrapped early because we watched a half-hour long documentary about the making of an (early 1970's was my guess) 7-Up commercial. Surreal stuff. Discussion afterward didn't last too long so after class I headed to the next building, had lunch-as-breakfast, and now I'm in a lab somewhere checking my e-mail and writing updates to a few pages while I've got some time before recitation starts.
I was rather surprised this morning to note that Dataline wasn't going in to work. Her boss in out of town right now, her boss' boss is out of town, there's another protest brewing downtown later today, there's really nothing to do.. she called off. Wish I could say the same but I've had enough downtime for a while. Sadie's still at the lab and still enjoying every minute of it. Ziggy's miserable, but then again she's even more territorial than I am, so I can't hold it against her. Ziggy and Sadie are avoiding each other, and probably will do so for the forseeable future.
I made a lot more headway on my project last night. I managed to figure out the holes in my logic and fix them with a minor rewrite. It's hard to keep track of so many pointers in one listnode at one time. Stepping through it on paper, however, revealed a few things to me. I tore out two minor changes and double-checked a few other things, and I've got everything working now. I just have to figure out why the programme throws a signal-11 (segmentation fault) on pure binary files and that'll do it. Maybe if I try unsigned data types..
Son of a gun - unsigned data types worked. I'm handing in my project tonight. I fixed it while the TA was lecturing.
My formal logic recitation was cancelled today. On one hand, I don't mind too much, but on the other I wish I'd been able to ask the TA some questions about the stuff I'd missed on Thursday while I was sick. Inductive proofs have me a little confused right now.
Later tonight a few folks are coming over to play Illuminati: New World Order over pizza. I'm feeling conspiratorial right now... tonight's going to be interesting.
And speaking of interesting times.. you couldn't walk a single block on the Pitt campus today without running into at least one armed police officer either on patrol or standing around watching everyone. Are they that worried?
Feeling much better today. My eyes are focussing properly again, so I can move around without too much trouble. Got a solid eight hours of sleep last night, which is always a bonus. Dataline went in late today because.. Sadie's here. Oh, well. It'll be nice to have company for a while. Ziggy is already in hiding and probably won't come out for the rest of the week. I just finished having breakfast, so my body's pretty well tanked up for the next couple of hours. I plan on taking it easy today, not driving anywhere if I can help it and not getting myself worked up if I can help it. I'm messing around with Dataline's scanner right now. I've got it hooked up to Leandra via the USB interface and I'm trying to get xsane to pick it up. The v2.4.20 USB drivers found it without any trouble, it's the front-end software that I'm trying to configure.
Here's an article on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the particular form of pneumonia that's killed at least 50 people across the globe. It appears to be a viral infection, for which the German BNI has developed a test for. The test can tell whether or not you've been infected within two hours of infection. The virus is a new strain of coronavirus, so named due to its crown-like shape. Coronaviruses are the second leading cause of the common cold in humans, incidentally. So far the lion's share of the cases reported so far as in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Southern China. A vaccination does not appear to be coming anytime soon but researchers say that one probably isn't necessary, as the standard cold medications seem to do a decent enough job of keeping the symptoms at bay until the body can fight it off on its own, just like the common cold. A team in Hong Kong says that various combinations of steroids and antiviral compounds (probably synthetic interferons) is useful for treating the disease. The spread of SARS is expected to abate in the next few weeks.
Throat's still a little irritated. *koff koff*
Now how in the hell did this happen?
Take the World of Darkness Quiz
by David J Rust
I got the scanner working. You have to specify the driver to use as well as the device file to read from. Dataline's HP ScanJet 2200 is a USB scanner, so the device file is under /dev/usb, so...
..and now I've got a new backdrop for my displays.
Why is it that the first thing that came to mind was the month of Ramadan?
If the transhumanists are right, one day the very structure of the body will be as programmable as a computer. In the event such a history comes to pass, I truly hope that someone invents a syslogd/klogd package for bodies. It would be very helpful to wake up in the morning and have the following knowledge firmly in mind:Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem warning: compromise detected Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem fault detected: respiratory system running at 61% of capacity Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem fault detected: metabolic processes running at 105% of capacity Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem fault detected: metabolic processes running at 115% of capacity Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem fault detected: core temperature 103 deg F Mar 26 06:45:12 bal immunesystem fault detected: visual processing at 41% of capacity. do not drive.
Yep, that means exactly what you think it means.. the Time Lord's on the workbench for a couple of days with the flu. In hindsight, when the chills hit about halfway to campus even though I had the car's heater turned up all the way and my body was dressed in a leather jacket and two shirts, I should have turned off and gone right back home. For a few minutes I thought I was in the early stages of a migrane (phantom pains and flickers/tracers (visuals) in my field of view), in which case I could probably have gone the entire day before having to go offline. As it was I somehow managed to make it through my first class and got to see Dwight White, former defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers (played 1971-1980) and four-time Superbowl champion. After retiring from football he turned to investment banking; this is how Dataline originally introduced him to me, because the nonprofit organisation she and I were working for was on the same floor of the building as White's company. After Q&A I told him that Dataline sent her regards and expressed regret at not seeing him as often as she once did (since changing jobs and hence buildings). He was surprised to hear a familiar name, and soon after recognised me as well (about twenty pounds lighter and with much shorter hair).
He still has a grip like a hydraulic press. On the whole, I preferred the pain in my hand to the headache I had at the time (and still do, come to think of it...)
What really amazed me was his Superbowl ring (1978) - he wears it comfortably on the ring finger of his left hand, yet when he passed it around the classroom it fit the thumb of my dominant hand with almost a quarter-inch to spare. That's a big guy. It also had the most diamonds (arranged in the shape of the Steelers insignia) I've ever seen at one time.
Afterward I somehow managed to drag myself to the Cathedral to eat lunch and study. Don't ask me how I managed to choke down those two readings for American Cultures, I still don't know (and I shudder to think of the state my notes are in). At this point I knew that something was wrong when I found my body shivering for no good reason.. chills, implying high fever, implying.. get my ass home. So home I went. I stopped off to pick up Nyquil and some Cold-Eeze and then went to bed for a couple of hours. Around 1533 EST I found myself stirring, and spent another half-hour trying to get back to sleep. No soap. So here I am, drinking water and writing down everything I can remember about today, lest all the sleep obliterate my short-term memory. To hell with algorithms class, even though I really need help on my project. Yarfing in the middle of class while trying to figure out what's what didn't appeal to me.
Speaking of appeal, my body just started shivering again. Later.
1946 EST: Back on line. I woke up just before Dataline got home from work. Feeling much better - I think the medicine worked. I was able to keep the water I'd drunk down (can't be too careful) so I decided to try sweet pickles.. yumm... dataline made some chicken soup for dinner, which I had two bowls of. The DayQuil knocked out my headache (I was really afraid I was getting a migrane on top of this - it was a headband headache (where it seems to start inside one eye, loops up and around the temples and forehead, and ends inside the second eye) - but migranes don't respond to DayQuil) and around 1900 EST I hit the cold sweat stage. Fever's broken.
I'm just having a little metanoia right now, from my brain trying to process visual information from eyes that aren't quite focused properly behind my glasses. It's nothing major, not even unusual, it comes from wearing glasses and having an astigmatism (my eyes don't focus properly to begin with, and the the right one's worse than the left). It's actually kind of neat though I'm not going to be driving for a day or so. Staring at a screen's bringing my headache back so I'm going to sign off for the night.
Finally, Rasterman posted news about Enlightenment! It's only been a few years.. personally, I'm pretty happy with v0.16.5 of Enlightenment, it does what I need it to. If I ever get sick of it I'll probably move over to Blackbox, which is what I run on Kabuki.
Food for thought: it doesn't take much to make yourself not accountable for your actions if you set things up in advance.
It's not arrest, it's "investigative detention".
In other news, the US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal regarding the use of wiretaps on US citizens. They're refusing to get involved in judgement calls over whether or not this is a good thing. Remember, right now anyone in the country that someone up high thinks is a risk can be placed under surveillance. Indeed, they've stepped up their efforts in this field of endeavour. Bank transaction records and telephone records may be seized by federal agents and it's currently illegal to tell the person whose information has been taken; what's more, this may be done without the monitoring of the court. Accountability has gone right out the window.
Oh, no... looks like trying hard to stay out of trouble could easily be a worthless exercise soon. The FBI's NCIC (National Crime Information Center) maintains a gigantic database of criminals, missing people, witnesses, what have you... now they don't have to make sure their information is accurate. Pesky thing, using accurate information to do your job right.
And in case you're curious about the stuff that they won't show on US television, check out this archive at the Memory Hole. Readers, if you've got a weak stomach, or you're eating at the moment, don't follow that link, please. The images are graphic, they are disturbing, and some of them are downright nauseating. Take it from me, they're rough. War's hell, folks, no matter what side you're on. Iraq is definitely not the "good guys" in this, and the US isn't "the bad guys". I know it's easy to slip into that frame of mind and start judging both sides, I do it myself. But I stop every now and then and try to evaluate things from a purely objective point of view. I've since come to the conclusion that you really can't say that one side's right and one side's wrong. In a lot of ways, both are right. The US was hit by terrorists, and no one in their right mind would let that slide. The US hit Afghanistan because Al Quaida was supposed to be holed up there and they wanted revenge - blood for blood. The US failed to take out Al Quaida as an entity. I don't agree with invading Iraq because Al Quaida's gone on record as hating Saddam Hussein just as much as they hate the US, and to claim that there are connections between Iraq and Al Quaida doesn't make sense in that light. From Iraq's point of view, those crazy Americans are coming after them and who in their right mind wouldn't lock and load and get ready to defend themselves? If, for example, Iraq was going to try to invade the US the US would bloody well do the same thing.
War's messy. It's violent, it's bloody, and lots of thing go *boom!*. People are killed. It's impossible to ensure that no civilians will be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the universe doesn't work that way.
I mourn the dead on both sides. I'm sorry that had to happen to you.
Sci-fi literature today turned from a discussion about Capek's (I know, the 'C' should be accented, I don't know my high-ASCII characters) War With The Newts into a full-on bitchfest about the war this morning. As near as I can tell, the vast majority of the folks in the class are news junkies, with a noticable (and intelligently vocal) minority of people sick to death of it. It was an amazingly well done discussion, I have to admit. Personall, I'm burned out on the entire thing, but that's just me... I'm waiting for my next class to start and writing this update. Apparently I'm not the only one who's having trouble writing for American cultures class, the complaints are flying fast and furious. I spoke to a few people affiliated with the anthropology department today, and they had a few things to say about the matter also.
I'm just killing time before formal logic starts right now. Three weeks and counting... I've got to hang in there.
The results of the 2003 Big Brother Awards, hosted every year by Privacy International are in. Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to list all of them, take a look at the results. And don't forget your Groucho Marx disguise glasses.
I really don't know if formal logic class was cancelled today or not. I gave the professor the requisite fifteen minutes past the start of class, then packed up and hiked back to my car. On the way home I stopped off at K-mart to pick up a couple of things and then finished the trek. I'm reading two books right now for two different classes and starting a new textbook for formal logic class.. oh, and let's not forget the programme due on Monday. I think I'm within spitting distance of finishing it, I have to write one more method on the class and one or two more functions that the destructor's supposed to use, and then it'll be time to debug. This shouldn't be difficult at all.
Net result: Was mostly productive this afternoon. Whee.
Oh, gods... something's got my lungs acting up but good. I first noticed it this morning getting into the shower, deep coughs that feel like my exterior is trying to force something out of them. It's since occurred a couple of times today, which has me worried. It might be my sinuses draining; they do that when I'm laying on my stomach (which I usually do while studying). It might be the increased levels of pollen in the air; I had a problem with allergies when I was younger, this might be the tail end of it. I smoke only rarely, so I don't think that's it. I hope it isn't anything worse, I don't want to wind up on the workbench for a while.
It's going on 2235 EST and my brain's fried. I'm going to jack out and get some sleep.
Let me see.. what's been happening lately? Not much. I've basically slouched through class so far today, my heart's really not in it right now. Maybe I'm still tired from the weekend. Maybe I'm just feeling the effects of the end of the semester - I want it to be over and done with, nothing more. As such I've started working on the long-term stuff that'll be coming due in just a few weeks, like reading the books I'm supposed to read and thinking about the papers that'll be due before finals. Wrap-up stuff, basically. I've just checked out the University of Pittsburgh calendar and found that finals week is 21 through 26 April, 2003. That's.. let me see.. a little under four weeks away. Whee. The final day of classes is, however, is 19 April 2003, which is about three weeks away, if I'm calculating correctly. Things are slowly drawing to a close, just have to be patient.
Tekkoshocon 2003 is this weekend. Ladies and gentlemen, start your slush funds. If you're cosplaying there now is your last chance to get your costumes together. For groups, please touch base and make sure your plans for the con are all lined up (you know who you are and you have my e-mail address..)
I really should be working on my project for algorithms right now. It's been so long since I've implemented a binary tree I really don't remember many of the specifics behind them. I'll probably sit down with pencil and paper later today and walk step-by-step through the various processes related to binary trees, such as adding nodes, deleting them, the various kinds of traversals (walking the links to find things), stuff like that. Digging up old notes or doing web searches is one thing, but unless you understand how they're supposed to work they won't do you a bit of good.
Interesting... seeing as how the US is so worried about their POWs (and they should be...) and Iraq following the Geneva Convention, the prisoners the US has taken are entitled to similiar treatment, right? If you want to get respect you have to give respect...
And speaking of respect... oh my gods.. this is the best Tokyo Babylon cosplay I have ever seen. This is going to be hard to top. I hope I do the character justice.
This is highly ironic:
Red/Green/Blue: To you, the world is logical. Everything happens
for a reason, life is scientific. You like to
find solutions. I doubt you needed to take this
quiz in order to realize this.
What color do you see the world in?
brought to you by Quizilla
I've just finished hacking some more on my algorithms project (gee, I seem to say that a lot lately)... I've just torn a few handfuls of stuff out that really doesn't have to be in there, mostly because it's just not worth the performance hit of having them in separate methods (like advancing the cursor one position). When you get right down to it, it's not worth the overhead of calling another method on the class to do something trivial when you can just as easily do it in a single line of code and be done with it in microseconds. I think it removed a good three or four kilobytes of code in the process, which makes it much easier to debug, as well as edit in an 80x25 character Eterm. I've just done a test compile and executed on some sample data, and it ran perfectly. Now I've just got to account for the reconfiguration that the crucial data structure undergoes... but that's for tomorrow.
Bladeless Axe sent me her writeup of the protest marches in San Francisco on Thursday, 20 March 2003.
The Silicon Dragon and Elwing the White sent me their report on the protest march in Washington DC on 22 March 2003.
In both cases, everyone involved had narrow scrapes with the police, just barely getting away. Tear and pepper gas are being used in both areas, so they say. I've not heard about protests in any other cities.
And on the warfront (literally)... bad things are starting to happen on the US side. Early this morning a US soldier fragged 16 people (using the Vietnam sense of the verb 'to frag'). 15 injured, one dead. Ye flipping gods.
You know... On one hand, I'm against this way. The US hit Afghanistan. Fine. Al Quaida, et al. Busted 'em up but good they say. Iraq.. not so fine. The fact that the cable news stations are crowing about saving all the oil wells but this morning started in on American POWs and executions.. amazing, how fast things can turn around. But that's actually not what I want to talk about right now.
What bothers me right now is... can you be against the war but for the people? I really don't know.
The guy who wigged out and fragged sixteen people? Probably snapped under the strain. Whatever the military does to him, they do to him. If they execute him... they execute him. I won't shed a tear for him, I won't condone what he did. He killed one person and probably maimed fifteen others. Take him out to get him out of the gene pool. "As Cosmos goes, so goes the world."
Am I against this war? Yes, I am. For the reasons given three paragraphs ago, we were done with it as far as I'm concerned when we were finished with Afghanistan. We blew stuff up in Iraq, took over a bunch of oil wells, fine. Pull our troops out and be done with it. We've got stuff to worry about in the US right now. But can I honestly say that I've got a problem with the troops we've got in Iraq right now? No, I don't have a problem with them. They enlisted for their own reasons, underwent training, and now they're doing their duty. Am I grateful for what they're doing? I don't know. I really don't. I'm all for the protecting the rights of the citizens of the United States of America but the laws being passed her are steadily chewing them away, probably faster than they can be protected. That's where I'm conflicting mentally here - protecting whatever's left, and whatever's left is steadily disappearing. It doesn't make any sense to me. It's a paradox.
I guess I should finish this by saying, "Come home soon, and come home safely to your families, US troops in Iraq. Please."
Will I call out against them when they finally do return? Will I spit upon them like the Vietnam vets were after they came home? Will I show any disrespect to them when they return?
When I first learned that people did things like that back in the 1970's, it really pissed me off. There's no need at all for people to do things like that. Yes, you were against Vietnam, but there's no reason at all to act like an enraged primate toward people who were. Stand against the war, not the people fighting in it. Change the concept so the expression will change.
Last night I went to The Keep's first birthday party at Alexius' pad. I had a ball there.. got to hang out with some folks that I havn't seen face to face in a while, like Eggman and Soulkry, had a couple of drinks, played a couple of drinking games, had a few surreal conversations... on the whole a good night. Got to listen to a few good mix CDs brought by various party-goers, which is always a bonus. Everyone loved the cookies I brought. I finally got to try a drink called a BSOD (yep, Blue Screen Of Death), and I think it's now a solid leader for favourite mixed drink (actually, only entry in the category). Somewhen around 0400 I curled up on the couch and crashed out for a couple of hours, then headed home to help out. Dataline blew her knee out Friday night dancing so she was taking it easy yesterday. Today I helped clean up around the house and did some of the shopping to pick up the slack. I've finally got everything done and out of the way.
My back's feeling a lot better right now. Between a few drinks last night and getting to sleep on a hard couch, the bones are back in place and the musculature's not nearly as tight as it once was. Sometimes all you need to do is goof off for a couple of hours.
I wish I could have stayed for the Ostara rite this afternoon. I said I was a few weeks ago but then I had to help out today... damn. I feel bad about it.
Oh, wow... O.O;126.96.36.199 - - [23/Mar/2003:10:30:03 -0500] "GET /%7Edrwho/pictures/ sledgehammer.jpg HTTP/1.0" 200 23462 "-" "Wget/1.8.2"drwho@leandra:~$ host 188.8.131.52 Name: sand.gsfc.nasa.gov Address: 184.108.40.206
Greetings to readers from nasa.gov! Hope you like the picture! Also a hearty hail and well-met, readers from Microsoft!
This is a scary article that just came down the Politech mailing list about the situation in the state of New Jersey in the event a red alert is declared. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU is calling this plan tantamount to martial law, and in a sense she's right. Anyone out and about in public if the hammer falls means more or less instant arrest, which should scare anyone. I can't see it being easy to convince a police officer that you've got a good reason to be driving around, let alone, say, someone in the National Guard. Parents have been calling the ACLU in New Jersey, genuinely worried that they wouldn't be able to get to their children in such an event. Sid Casperson, director of the New Jersey Office of Counter-Terrorism recently went on the radio and made remarks about the secret arrest of suspected terrorists - "The public isn't going to read about them anytime soon," he was quoted as saying. Lovely. You can be arrested there and no one will ever know, kind of like the MiBs coming in the middle of the night to whisk you away, never to be seen again. I'm sleeping well after hearing about this, what about you?
Right now there is a case making its way in the court system to make public the names of almost 1,000 people who have been secretly arrested for "immigration violations". The article says that it's currently under appeal in Washington (I don't know if it's Washington state or Washington, DC though).
I saw something very unusual on my way home from class today. I was driving through the city when I saw coming in the opposite direction a stretch humvee. Yes, you read that right. Jet-black and looking like the APC from Aliens. I don't want to think about how much that set back a limo rental company, at least $60,000us, probably closer to twice that. I don't want to think about the hourly rate for it, either. Still, it's pretty cool that someone in Pittsburgh has one in their fleet.
My back's killing me. At LARP last night I made the mistake of lifting someone up who is deceptively tiny... no problem.. and then I felt the discs between the vertebrae compress down, right at the top of the thoracic span. The nerves are lit up broken optical fibres. That was one of the dumber things I've ever done... Ellen helped me realign the bones somewhat last night but I'm going to have to keep excess stress off of my spine for a few days until everything goes back into place. I hope I didn't mess things up too badly in there, the idea of going to a chiropractor doesn't appeal to me right now.
Holy shit.. I just spoke to tSD. He and E- are down in DC at the protests. Riot police are marching down the roads boxing in protestors. Once they've surrounded a group they're arresting everyone they can. They've called in SUVs and paddywagons to haul people away. tSD and E- are saying that they're pepper gassing the protestors at the same time that they're moving in. They're on their way back home. Those are almost the same tactics they used in San Francisco on Thursday, BA says. D- says that in Pittsburgh a few days ago they were using PAT buses to haul protestors away.
They're writing up everything and uploading their pictures. I told them to post to Indymedia for the Washington, DC area as soon as they can. I'm going to host a mirror of their report and images.
Another slow day. I spent a few hours hacking on my next algorithms project last night. I think I understand the first half of it pretty well, calculating the frequencies with which various ASCII codes appear in a given file. I think I did something dumb while opening the file so it's not compiling yet. Now that I've gotten a full night's sleep I think I should be able to fix that this afternoon after I get home from class. I've only got two classes today as my formal logic recitation isn't being held this week so that gives me a little more time to play around before LARP tonight.
That stuff aside, not much of anything has had the chance to happen yet today. Got up, drove to class, went to American cultures, ate lunch.. pretty much same-old-same-old, I'm afraid. Maybe I'll go home, make a pot of tea, and hack a little code.
Greetings readers from Penny Arcade! Glad you like the Iwakura Lain has a posse image. Good luck on the scavenger hunt.
To cut loading time I've just truncated my memory logs. You can find the last three months on this page.
Speaking of my assignment.. how in the hell did I screw up something so simple as opening a file for input?? I even cut-and-pasted code from an earlier project which does the same thing (and I just successfully recompiled, incidentally) and it's not working. I don't get it.
Nevermind, I got it. The function declaration for main() should be '[return type] main(int argc, char *argv
);'. Thanks, Lyssa.
My formal logic exam starts in twenty-six minutes. Cross your fingers, folks.
Speaking of minutes, I got my research paper for ancient cultures back last night - 90%. Rock.
I just realised that a friend invited me to a birthday party on 29 March.. the same day as Tekkoshocon. Damn. I'm going to have to pass on the party, I've already got plans in place for the 'con.
The US is on orange alert now - high risk of terrorist attack, start looking over your shoulder. It's said that additional precautions are being taken at public events. It shows, too - the Pitt campus is crawling with uniformed police. There are Pitt police cars on every block and uniformed officers are on foot patrol and not being subtle about it. I can't say for certain, but I think they're wearing armour of some sort beneath their uniforms - I know the Pitt cops aren't pudgy by a long shot but they all look like they've packed on a few pounds in unusualy even areas.. either that or they're swallowing encyclopedia volumes whole.
Exam's starting. More later.
That was surprisingly easy.
You know, I've been thinking lately... about the war protests.
The US is a country where, theoretically, we can say whatever we like. We can speak our minds about what's going on and not have to worry about being persecuted for it. This is, unfortunately, changing slowly but steadily, but that's actually not what's on my mind right now.
People of all ages are turning out to speak their minds in the streets, speaking out against the war. I feel like I should be there with them, adding my $2.00us (adjusted for inflation). I agree with them, or most of them, at any rate. I should be supporting the protestors by adding my voice to their numbers. But I'm not. When it comes right down to it, I guess, I value what is going on in my own life more highly than the need to protest. At Pitt protests are being held all over the place: Students and teachers walked out of classes; Food Not Bombs has set up tables all over the place to make their presence known; there's probably going to be a march or two, and I know that downtown Pittsburgh's going to be pretty thoroughly snarled - in fact the entire aim of the march downtown is to shut the city down completely. Something inside me tells me to head out there and join them.
Something else (Dataline) is going to be stuck in the resulting traffic for at least a couple of hours due to the protest march. And if I was taking public transportation to get home after work, I'd be pretty pissed off (and not just from hypoglycemia) if I was stuck in traffic due to protestors. I'm also frankly more worried about starting to code for my next algorithms project. Should I be a protestor and join the effort, or should I worry about my own butt?
I feel like a rat for saying it, but I'm worried about my own butt.
There, I've said it.
Here's an amusing example of incoherency in arguments. Thanks, Genetik.
Once again, not much going on today. American cultures class was uneventful. Lunch was uneventful. I've just insufflated a few hundred pages of material for said class as well as ancient cultures (it hits the brain faster that way). Now I'm in the lab going through my e-mail and writing this to give my mind a rest before next class. Today's the long-haul day and I don't much want to be a zombie by the time I get home. Damned exams; one more to go and it's tomorrow. At least recitation for formal logic is cancelled on Friday, that makes it at least a little bit better.
About a year ago, a friend of mine who's big into radio communications told me a joke: If the accuracy of your GPS unit suddenly goes to hell, we're probably at war. This is because the S/A code, the selective availability code, which deliberately introduces errors into GPS calculations by throwing off the times broadcast, may be turned back on. The idea of this is that the GPS units of enemy forces will be made less accurate. GPS units of the US military will not be affected by this due to something called the P-code, which, I must confess, I know next to nothing about. RF's not my thing, I'm afraid. Just thought that it was a neat thing to pass along.
This, however, is far from neat. A post just came down the wire on the Politech mailing list which has me a litle worried, I must confess. If the terrorism alert status hits red, stay at home unless it's a life or death situation.. literally. In Trenton, NJ people travelling during such a time will be considered to be enemies of the state and will be treated as such by the authorities. The state will effectively go into cold shutdown, just the way it would if another blizzard hit. The same thing goes for southern California. I don't know about New York, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, or Arizona.
Pennsylvania hasn't announced plans to shut down if red alert is announced. They say they'll do so if need be. Thanks to Dataline for looking this up while I was in class.
At 2130 EST a target just outside of Baghdad was taken out by US guided missile fire. The deadline's over and they're chomping at the bit. I'm morbidly amused by the news coverage - "A good morning Iraq" attack?! Where's Adrian Cronouer (sp?) when you need him...
Oh, boy, do I have a lot to say right now.. but I'm up to my butt in exams. Rant mode's going to wait until tomorrow.
Late last night I finished my project. After a lot of sweating, swearing, cursing, and talking with my professor I finally got my algorithms project up and running. Once I'd verified that it was doing what it was supposed to, the next part was pretty easy, albeit lengthy - turning it into a simulation. That actually wasn't too difficult to do, the routines just had to be written once and then copied four more times with minor variations in the configuration. What I absolutely hadn't expected was how long the simulations would require. I started around 2100 EST last night and by 0000 EST this morning they still weren't complete.
You'd think multiplying two 10,000 digits numbers was hard or something.
Anyway, to try to speed things up around 2300 EST last night I reniced the simulator to -19 (which basically means that it got the lion's share of Leandra's CPU cycles, to the detriment of everything else) and killed every other running programme at the time. It still didn't get done. I wound up handing everything in about ten minutes late; the deadline was 2357 EST. Oops. When it was over I jacked out and crashed into bed, laughing the entire time. I suppose it was more relief and burnout that made me do it than anything else. I'm half-tempted to write it up as an amusing short story of some sort for everyone but I guess that can wait.
I love technicalities!
Damned fine day outside today.. damned fine. For the first time in a long while I slept comfortably, without having to wear two pairs of sweats and a sweater bigger than I am. Got up feeling pretty good, took a shower, yadda yadda yadda, put my contacts in, packed a lunch (I decided to finish off the yogurt left over from brownies last week, it's okay with some cinnamon, better if you throw some raisins in), and then drove in. With my windows down. There is much to be said for not having to run the AC for a couple of hours and listening to everything going on outside the car. it seems like a very little bit but it's well worth it. Just like walking to class with no more protection than my leather and a pair of mirrorshades. I feel 17 again.
After lunch and some studying I went for a walk around campus to see what was what. Not much is happening, just lots of people enjoying the nice weather for a change. I found out that Phantom Dollars at Phantom of the Attic (a local comic book store) are only good for back issues and not new comics (like Ghost In The Shell 2: Man/Machine Interface or Kabuki: Skin Deep), which is a little bit disappointing. I don't really have time right now to find anything older that I wouldn't mind reading. I guess they're going back on the fridge to wait.
Ye gods... spam with VT-100 escape sequences that screw up mail readers so you don't know it's spam until you open it. It's things like this that make me wish it was legal to hunt down spammers and take a pair of channel-lock pliers to their knuckles, the way the ancient Maya used to break the fingers of scribes captured during inter-polity war.
Speaking of war.. uh-oh. Check this out, cats and kitties. The United States of America has stopped trying to get the approval of the Security Council for the war. Bush is going to address the nation at 2000 EST tonight. Apparantly, a senior member of the British Cabinet has resigned as a result. Congressional leaders are meeting now. Everyone not fighting has been told to leave Iraq immediately. Higher-ups of many other nations, including France and Russia have, once again, said that this is a really, really bad idea.
For those of you who said that it would be near 18 March 2003, you win.
I've got my algorithms project working! I've just made the final modifications to the skeleton and now the simulation is up and running. And taking up a hell of a lot of CPU time. Look. While the simulation runs I'm going to finish the writeup and then hand the whole shebang in before I jack out.
So much to do, so little sleep. I must be insane.
Maybe I didn't do as decent a job on my paper as I thought - where Dataline came up with "It's about art being art, right?" is beyond my comprehension.Not a good sign.
Not long after I'd written that last entry I picked up and went driving around for a good three hours. Just said 'to hell with it' and went walkabout for a while, seeing what I could see, listening to some music (mental note: hit mp3.com for some more synthpop, I'm burning out on Ladytron), and doing absolutely nothing constructive. Took a look around Borders for a while.. returned the DVD I'd rented.. went shopping.. slacked.
Sometimes the best way to think is not to think at all.
Right now Dataline and my grandfather are upstairs watching The Boondocks Saints. I'm still spreading the gospel... tonight's going to be interesting, I have a feeling.
They enjoyed the movie, but they're not nuts about it. Oh, well... nobody's perfect.
My algorithms project has kicked my ass once again. I found and fixed one segfault only to run head-first into another. I've been trying to localise it for four hours now and I can't figure out where it is. The structure is being accessed in such a way that I'm accidentally reaching beyond the end. It isn't a terminal bug but does appear as memory corruption whenever I try to deallocate the structure. It's got to be in a for() loop somewhere.
Still not evolved enough yet. I don't want to have to wait for my next incarnation to master recursion.
I just finished watching the first third of Children of Dune. Wow. Costumes are still beautiful; CG landscapes are still beautiful; can't say I'm too wild about the Spacing Guild's ambassador, I much prefer Giger's conception of them; excellent choice for the Tleilaxu infiltrator; loved Alia's workout scene. I wish the glow of their eyes was more pronounced, I almost couldn't see it until I knew what patterns to look for. Much less cruft in the movie than in the book. Heavy re-use of the same footage for Paul's dreams and flashbacks got to me after a while. The ghola of Duncan Idaho was supposed to have silver cybereyes - what gives? I also wish that they'd tried to make Paul look like his eyesockets had been hollowed out after the stoneburner attack in the village, the black scleral caps were nice but deviated a bit too much from the original story for my tastes. Then again I'm just sick like that.
I give it 7 out of 10 stars. See it if you get a chance. Get the DVD if you liked it more than I did.
Hell of a nice day today - 75 degrees Farenheit. Good cruising weather. Dataline says that she saw a robin on the lawn today. Looks like spring finally managed to make it into Pittsburgh despite PennDOT's mistreatment of the local roadways. *grin*
Greetings readers from the Pacific Northwestern Labs (pnl.gov)!
Today's a pretty decent day, I must admit. When last I checked it was about 55 degrees Farenheit outside, which is a little on the chilly side but otherwise decent jeans-and-a-turtleneck weather. I've been outside a bit and it's really not too bad.
I got the first draft of my research paper back on Friday. I'm not very happy right now... the professor told me flat out, "I didn't understand the first page of your paper so I didn't bother reading the rest of it. Rewrite it for me."
Thinking that some of the specialised vocabulary was a little too dense I politely pointed out after class that there's a glossary in appendix 'b' of the paper. He took one look at that, scratched his head, and remarked, "I still don't understand what you're trying to tell me. Maybe you're writing is too complex, maybe I'm ignorant. Rewrite the paper and resubmit it."
At this I almost broke down crying. I havn't touched the paper since then; I've got more important stuff to worry about right now (two exams next week, one on Tuesday, one on Thursday; programme for algorithms due Monday night).
I should also probably read an article for ancient cultures class this weekend, too. I finally found copies of the articles in the library and copied them on Wednesday; the box that usually has them in the anthropology office has been missing since spring break. No one's seen it since then, and the professor's at a loss. Let's hear it for redundant sources.
I've noticed something as I've been rereading my formal logic notes - you can tell how much I've been typing by how bad my handwriting is. The more my hands and wrists hurt from typing and programming, the less legible my handwriting is. I've seen a marked decline in the past two months of written text since algorithms class started getting bad. Maybe I should take a month off after the semester to let the damage to the cartilage and tendons heal.
I've been hacking on my algorithms project all night, and it's just not coming together. I can't figure out why it's segfaulting, though I've been able to find the exact line of code that it's happening at. I'm at a loss. I may as well button it up tomorrow and hand it in as-is. Better some points than none at all, as much as it pains me to do so.
So what am I doing right now? Typing. I know full well that I should do something that doesn't involve more wear and tear on my hands, like reading or (Morpheus forbid) doing something Outside... but why bother? What is there to do right now besides sit in a restaurant drinking coffee? Not a whole hell of a lot. I'm kicking myself right now for turning down an invite to go to someone's flat earlier tonight, I figured that I'd still be coding this late, but... nope. As always I've spoken too soon. What else is new?