packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (pale blue dot)
Original to me, for once:

Most people have the same religion (or lack of religion) as their parents. That something this large in the life of an individual should even appear to be so much up to chance invites the question: what would you be like if you changed that one variable? And how would you interact if you met?

If I were a Christian:
  • I would play Christian rock. (But possibly good Christian rock, if my church were liberal enough to give me my Joni Mitchell et al.)
  • I would go on missions to third-world countries and donate generously to charity.
  • I would play by the rules with a passion, and deplore the hypocrisy I see in others, also with a passion. (Probably to excess on both counts - I would still cross at the crosswalk were I the last person on earth.)
  • I would debate theology for fun - possibly even go to seminary.
  • The Man Who Was Thursday would still drive me nuts.

If real-me met Christian-me:
  • We'd get in long arguments about the justifications of belief and foundations of morality.
  • We'd exchange mixtape-CDs. I would be very nervous about putting anything anti-religion or anti-Christianity on them.
  • He'd badger me to take up playing the piano again. I would promise, and then forget.
  • He would be appalled that I could lose my Eagle Scout for being an atheist.

God bless, as he would say, and wind to thy wings, as I would reply.
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
Further information later. For those of you who skip Twitterposts: my team (it's two-on-two) went one for five. But, as they say, you win or your learn.


Oct. 2nd, 2008 11:13 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
Oh, hey, I'm going up to Swarthmore tomorrow for a novice parliamentary debate tournament! Yeah, late to be mentioning it, but there it is!

Anyway, my laptop will be staying home, so expect only text-message Twitters between tomorrow morning and Saturday night. As for the format, Wikipedia's description of American parliamentary debate is mostly accurate.

See you Sunday!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

What were you doing on September 11th, 2001? How do the events of that day hold meaning for you now?

View other answers

On the eleventh of September, in the year two thousand and one of the common era, I was still taking classes at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College in the state of Maryland. I first heard rumors of the plane crash in the basement of the Macklin Tower (which may still have been the Campus Tower, then) near the phones at the bottom of the stairs where the vending machines were (there was an auto-mat-ish one with sandwiches and the like, or perhaps my memory is inaccurate), and dismissed them as unlikely. Shortly thereafter, I reached the classroom, where I discovered class was canceled and we were being sent home. Noncomprehending, I proceeded to the bus stop and thence home (I do not recall how), and came in to find people watching the coverage.

We rarely watch TV in our house. We were glued to the set all that day.

I remember when the footage of that guy on the street, his camera pointed to the sky, catching one plane enter one tower ... I remember when that hit the channels where I lived. I remember seeing them burning. I remember the people running through the streets with the dust from the collapse chasing them down. Odd that this is still topical, but I remember John McCain being interviewed - probably by telephone, the picture was of the towers - and saying we had to attack, go to war over this. (I'm sure it was the same day.) I remember Mom being disappointed with his response - I don't know why, because I disapproved from bullheaded war-is-evil simplemindedness that I still haven't wholly got over, but I think she expected him to be more thoughtful than that, more measured in his response. I remember the speculation about the fourth plane, and where it might have been aimed if the passengers hadn't stood up to the attackers.

And ... well, I don't remember much else. It was seven years ago, I was sixteen, and things in New York had little to do with me. And it still seems like an utter shock to me that people found this so ... well, shocking, that their lives and worldviews were torn up and left inverted because of it. Because I don't think I ever lived in a pre-9/11 or post-9/11 world, I lived in maths and sciences, in Prince of Persia on the IBM 8086 PC, and in books good and bad, and who ever thought 'America' was invincible anyhow? But tear things up it did, and somehow as a nation the U.S. still isn't over it.

I thought about what I'd say today, but I've nothing to say. Us us-ians lost two buildings, three thousand people, and our collective minds, and none of it did the slightest good to anyone ...


Aug. 21st, 2008 10:44 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (filler)
Sorry for the radio silence - I'm doing good, and I'll respond to the important things (e.g. PMs, bills, the semester starting a week from Tuesday, my not having seen The Dark Knight yet) as soon as I can.

Stuff later.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
Went boating with friend K. and his family, and boy are my arms tired!

(No, seriously - I needed a dose of Vitamin I just to keep from groaning every five minutes. It was fun, though!)

I might have something else to add, but I don't know how to talk about it, so I won't.
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
Via [ profile] zwol and his friends-list:
  • Post 3 things you've done in your lifetime that you don't think anybody else on your friends list has done.
  • See if anybody else responds with "I've done that." If they have, you need to add another!(2.b., 2.c., etc...)
  • Have your friends cut & paste this into their journal to see what unique things they've done in their life.

This should be a hard one for me, as I can never remember anything, but I'll try...

  1. I started college when I was fifteen. (Bet this one goes first...)
  2. I earned my Bachelor of Science without a high school degree or any equivalent thereto (that being the G.E.D. where I am, in the U.S.).
  3. I started out on a fifty-mile hike (possibly even the one pictured) carrying in my pack, among other things, three gallons of water. Plus a liter in my water bottle.

Bring on the originality!

P.S. "Current Music" was originally listed as "Szerencsétlen - Rossz Csillag Allat Született", but Rossz Csillag Allat Született is actually the album title - sorry!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (twisty little passages)
Okay, so you know how your hobbies expand to fill your free time? It has occurred to me that this is something that needs forestalling if I am to survive the coming fall semester. Thus, I have an idea: what if I took up a major, but short-term, project - one where I can easily give myself permisssion to axe when the semester starts?

Thus, my plan: I'm going to pull open Inform 7 again.

The plot is relatively simple - it's yet another amnesia story - but I hope to make up for the unoriginality in execution. I'm planning to have friends-locked posts for blogging about the dev work and blegging for beta-testing - [ profile] active_apathy, [ profile] alun_clewe, [ profile] chanlemur, [ profile] fadethecat, [ profile] majoru, and [ profile] zwol were on the old list, but any of that can change. If anyone would like to be added or removed, please comment!
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
Before: "Hmm, I need to take a crap. I should go to the bathroom."

After: "So I'll pack the running clothes and an empty water bottle tonight, and tomorrow morning I will stow them in my locker at the ASME lounge while I'm working. At 4 o'clock, I will knock off work, retrieve the items from my locker, and proceed to the Eppley Recreation Center. There, I will borrow a lock and a locker, change into the running clothes, and stow everything but the key to the lock and the water bottle (which I will fill before departing). This done, I will walk to the outdoor track and do intervals (400 m running, 200 m walking) until I have expended the water in the bottle. Then I will return to the ERC, shower, change into my street clothes, refill the bottle, and walk up to the Stamp to catch the 6:05 shuttle home. In the unlikely event that I am too late to catch the shuttle, I will take the bus or the subway, depending. Finis."

I amuse myself.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
Yesterday, me bro walked into our room and asked me if I had hard disk space. Then he handed me a jump drive* and told me to copy two video files - to wit, two old episodes of Top Gear. (The one with the caravanning and the one with the vans.)

Loved it. It was terrific. I'm officially a fan.

So, what's new with you?


May. 28th, 2008 12:38 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (nomicide)
A number of you are probably aware of the Nomic I am associated with - [ profile] nomicide. It's in that irritating between-games idle stage right now, the one where we should be trying to make new rulesets but we're just off doing our own stuff, but it's been a pretty successful Nomic while it's going, and I'm pretty proud to be involved in it. (Incidentally, if you ever want me to brag, ask me how I won the first game. It was brilliant.)

Anyway, I just opened a poll to vote for the Head of the Constitutional Convention (pretentious, eh?) where all the players could vote for any player to become Head. Being a player, I of course immediately voted myself for the players I thought would be good.

The next day, the second vote had come in (I told you it was idle), and I opened the post to see who was winning. A moment later, noticing I had two votes in the poll, I realized the horrible fact: I had voted for myself!

Iron Man

May. 15th, 2008 05:36 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
This is not a review. My impressions of a movie right after seeing it in the theaters is quite unreliable - I have to forcibly restrain myself just to keep the superlatives out.

Loved it. Terrific superhero movie - up there with the best I've seen (that doesn't count, does it?). Characterization and acting were spot-on. Cinematography - I dare not even attempt to describe it. Special effects? Well, those are always hard. They didn't accomplish the impossible, but they did help push the limits a little closer to it.

In plot - it made sense when I watched it. Not the least because the writing was superb. Whoever did the dialogue did magnificently - genuinely clever, and touching, and well, well done.

It was convincing. It was exciting. It was inspiring - a classic uplifting heroic story, in spite of being indubitably set in the ever-popular day after tomorrow. The good guys are good, and the good guys win.

Today was a great day.

(P.S. Got Patty Griffin's 1000 Kisses at Borders after!)

Level up!

May. 4th, 2008 09:22 pm
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
So the AD&D 2.5 campaign has been running along biweekly, and today we finished up the first quest. Or, to be more precise, today we said, "hey, we were supposed to clear the mine, and that was four pages of maps ago..."

Yes, the mine turned out to be the entrance to a gigantic cavern system with weird phosphorescence, extraordinary patterns on the floor, funky traps, huge chasms, and mysterious (and often humorous) traps. It was awesome. In fact, when we went back to the blacksmith/mine owner, we said, "hey, can you put in a door so we can go back?"

He took it out of our reward, but nobody complained. Like I said, awesome.

Anyhow, that was that. Anyway, we netted over 1000 XP for the adventure, which added up to levels for everyone. Plus, mad cash, which added up to long sword for me! (My club was bequeathed to the half-elf thief/cleric - we're a thief-heavy party - to be Shillelagh'd with.) Also, picked up small mirror and silver dagger, for emergencies. So, now we have to rescue the kids who got snatched while we were off adventuring, and then see about the missing supply caravans.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (one-quarter view)
So I was pounding away at the grading, and my mind started to drift, and, well...

Raise not hypocrisy to the stature of a Great Sin! To prove hypocrisy is to prove moral failing, but to prove moral failing is nothing if it is not done to correct, and to prove hypocrisy corrects nothing. Instead treat each hypocrite as herself, and ask: which of the three hypocrites is she?

The first hypocrite is she whose professions are righteous and acts are unrighteous. To you, I say: praise her! Hard is the road of righteousness, and many will stumble from it - praise her for her noble words, and commiserate with her when she falls short of them.

The second hypocrite is she whose professions are unrighteous and acts are righteous. To you, I say: praise her! Rare is the soul whose instincts are so pure, and that she has been confused in her thoughts is no fault. Praise her for her noble deeds, and teach her to praise and take pride in them herself.

The third hypocrite is she whose professions are unrighteous and acts are unrighteous. To you, I say: take pity, for what all of us fear and strive to avoid, she suffers from, and teach her as you teach all who have lost their way.

Does anybody else find themselves writing their own personal scriptures in their head?

Happy Mac!

Apr. 18th, 2008 07:36 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (music)
MacBook White 2.4 GHz, first impressions:

  • Keyboard is weird, i.e. not the same as on the computers I'm already accustomed to. On any objective measure, however, probably quite good.
  • Screen: marvelous improvement. Mirror rather than diffuse reflections means easier reading in the face of ambient light (at least, as far as I can tell by shining a flashlight on it) and easier reading sans backlight (i.e. by shining a flashlight on it).
  • There seem to be a lot of magnets around. Magnetic power connector, magnetic lid closure...
  • The new Safari is cool, but I can't figure out how to set it to "Ask me what I what done with every kind of cookie, and I'll tell you whether to trust a given site or not".
  • "Spaces" (the multiple-desktops thing - Unix geeks have seen this ages ago) rocks. Totally.
  • The time from "two fingers on the trackpad scrolls? ... weird." to "whee!" is surprisingly short. (whee!)

In related news, I can't seem to import my old song ratings into the new iTunes library. Ah, well.

P.S. Those of you who listened to the voicepost (hi, [ profile] chanlemur!) and therefore heard about my Not-Exactly-First Foray Into The One-Mile Race (now with 100% less training!) may be interested in seeing official times (I'm #81, Robin Zimmermann, 7:44.40) and official photographs (I'm the demented-looking chap slightly left of middle).


Mar. 14th, 2008 11:11 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (one-quarter view)
  • Unfortunately, the turkey pot pi was somewhat underwhelming.
  • I'm thinking an external hard drive might be handy. LaCie is good, right? I should probably shop around a little.
  • I got XTC, Tom Petty, and Alanis Morissette CDs today!
  • Naturally, I am dismayed at Livejournal reaching new, untouched levels of idiocy by deleting the Basic Account option for new users. Like certain wise people (only with more laziness), I am honestly thinking about striking out on my own and just reading/reposting here. For the less lazy pessimistic, though: thanks to [ profile] conuly, a update with the proper RL contact info for complaining.
  • To the guy about the IF thing: it's still rattling around in my head - expect mail soon.
  • Anybody around here play Core War or interested in starting? (Bear in mind I'm still yak shaving - do you believe that OS 10.3.9 didn't come with GCC installed? - so I won't be sending any warriors up any hills yet.)
  • Looking at the stack of lab reports that need grading, it seems my panicking skills are fully intact. Also my procrastination skills.
  • It's quarter to midnight? Okay, I gotta go to bed - ciao!
  • (P.S. Does anyone know how to fix a flaky trackpad on an iBook G4? The button keeps sticking.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (chess)
  • The other prof of my class was absent this Tuesday-Wednesday, so I had to cover the whole two hours. Plus, I misread the homework assignment as being due Monday, not Monday a week1, so I thought I had to cover the entire thing, including the bits we haven't got to in class yet.

    Given that we bugged out half an hour early, I suspect I did not completely succeed. Discussion sections are the toughest audiences.

  • Picked up a bug somewhere that kicked in Thursday morning - sore throat, runny nose2, soreness of muscles ... well, no, actually that last is due to overstress on the "Lat Pulldown" machine at the school gym. Yay exercise!

  • Went to chess club last night after the gym, ran into a guy from my FEM class there. He talked me into playing blitz - 10 minutes per player - and then wiped the floor with me as soon as I slipped up and dropped a knight in both games. So it goes.

  • You see Friday's "Little Dee"? Panel four? So my brother.

  • This is the most absurd thing I've ever seen. (Well, today. So far.)

  • I'm seriously short of non-C items.

Well, that's mostly all. Cheers!

1. 2.8%, unless the missing "a" is highly significant3, in which case it might be as high as 11% or more. ^
2. I'd elaborate on the viscosity and color, but no-one wants to read that junk. ^
3. Or unless Irregular Webcomic readers are a nonrepresentative sample. Which, of course, they are. ^
4. Now with x% more meaninglessness, where x doesn't mean anything! ^
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (swing dismount)
1. Type up solutions to example problems to send to the Heat Transfer class I'm a TA for. Done!

2. Income taxes.

3. Homework (Finite Element Method class and Partial Differential Equations class). Begun, question sent to teacher!

4. Scan the micromechanics textbooks I borrowed to see if I want to do research in that direction. Begun!

5. Research the candidates for the primary on Tuesday.

6. Update the website for the UMD ASME chapter.

7. Read through Chapters 2 and 3 of the Heat Transfer textbook to get ahead on the material.

Not on the list: Go hang at my pal K's house!

So, before they come and pick me up, a poll for your amusement:

[Poll #1136332]
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
...I just finished Point Number One on my list. A PDF of three elementary heat transfer problems solved exactly, plus a long digression on root-finding algorithms that I wasn't actually qualified to write.

Dying now, kthxbai. *whump*

(P.S. I'm actually kinda proud of those five plots - the heat conduction equation turns out to be amenable to Fourier analysis, so I wrote some MATLAB code to calculate the first 200 frequencies and coefficients so I could determine the solution for any time t > 0.01 'seconds'.)

(P.P.S. Somehow I'm thinking I spent more than 20 hours this week on the class....)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

What are your plans for this weekend?

View other answers

1. Type up solutions to example problems to send to the Heat Transfer class I'm a TA for.

2. Income taxes.

3. Homework (Finite Element Method class and Partial Differential Equations class).

4. Scan the micromechanics textbooks I borrowed to see if I want to do research in that direction.

5. Research the candidates for the primary on Tuesday.

Edit: Oh, and 6. Update the website for the UMD ASME chapter.

Yeah, this is going to be ... fun.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (chess)
Someone came to my office hours today!

As you may have guessed, the semester has begun again at UMCP - I'm only enrolled in two courses this time (the Finite Element Method class and the Partial Differential Equations class), and while I'm seeking a new advisor, I'm working as a T.A. for the Heat Transfer class. My duties: second half of Wednesday discussion, lab report grading, and six hours a week in one of the T.A. offices.

Although my visitor this morning isn't the only person I've helped as TA (although the rest were ASME lounge regulars – even, coincidentally, the fellow whose question I answered in class) and I made not a few rookie mistakes during the session (didn't have the student work problems herself, didn't give her enough of a chance to ask followup questions, only gave her Newton's method as a root-finding algorithm...), it's still pretty cool. Hey! This person came to talk to me!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
The Five-Question one again - this time inherited (with modification) from [ profile] maggiebloome, who got it from [ profile] backinblack:
  1. Leave me a comment. You may take one of two tacks, here: (a) complete insignificance - for example, song lyrics, sandwich recipes, videogame reviews ... anything, really, as long as it's completely meaningless in context, or (b) a specific request for participation, with the specifics up to you. (But not completely up to you - I do still get to choose the questions.)

    (Okay, somebody needs to take out a restraining order against me on use of the word "completely". I mean, d-mn.)

  2. Receive five questions, chosen so as to allow me to know you better, in a reply to your comment. They will likely not be excessively personal, so as to Avoid Internet Drama™.

  3. Update your LJ - or, if the thought of contaminating it with mere Internet memes gives you fits, reply to my comment - with the answers to the questions.

  4. If you chose the former: Append (or prepend) this (or a substantially similar) explanation to your answers. When others respond with desultory comments, ask them five questions. (Each, that is.)

  5. If you chose the latter: Write an appropriately brilliant and witty diatribe about the pointlessness of copying these idiotic things across the Web as if they're somehow valuable, then throw it away as being nearly as annoying as the things themselves.

Anyway, the five questions, courtesy [ profile] maggiebloome:

1. What's your favourite extinct reptile?

Mmm - I don't know nearly enough extinct reptiles, let me think.


Y'know, I think I'm going to go for the obvious and vote tail-spikes. Stegosaurus, I choose you!

2. If you could pick an Era to live in apart from our own, which would it be?

Well, being as I'm obviously of (mixed, but including) African descent, it would seem of questionable wisdom for me to dwell in the near past. Further, I am quite ignorant of any language other than my own and quite enamored of modern medicine - thereby eliminating the far past (and the near past, really). On top of that, environmental degradation and the expenditure of Earth's natural resources (not to mention the ever-present hazard of warfare involving weapons of mass destruction, or even garden-variety epidemics) would seem to discourage proceeding into the future.

So, recognizing that I have no good choices, I expect I would either choose the latter half of the nineteenth century in London or the latter part of the reign of Caesar Augustus in Rome. My ignorance of history is mighty, but neither of those places and times seem too offensively intolerant, and both are associated with a great deal of magnificent literature.

3. Deserted island. You are Tom Hanks. Volleyball, basketball or ping pong ball?

I think I'll have to go with the canonical answer, here - volleyball seems like the most durable.

4. How would you prefer to die?

Heart attack might be nice. A stroke, perhaps. Quick and clean is the way to go, I say - none of this long painful decline into death, and a minimum of gross bodily harm. Basically worst, in my opinion, would probably be a car accident followed by long, unsuccessful medical intervention. (Not that I'd refuse treatment - I'm just saying: pain? Seriously uncool.)

5. Which work of literature has changed you the most?

Slaughterhouse 5 was pretty sweet. The Gate to Women's Country made me think a lot. The Dispossessed was fascinating. I'm not sure that any book changed me radically, though.

Wait. Gentleman's Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson. Despite being black (by American standards), my visceral conception of racism was, to a large degree, unformed until it was informed by that book. It was a good movie as well, but I feel that the book was more subtle about it, and so more satisfying. (However, I am also obliged to mention - although this is my mother's observation, not my own - that the beginning of the book is somewhat slow. Take it as you will.)

...Okay, how are you supposed to wrap these things up again?

Ask Me

Jan. 18th, 2008 12:30 pm
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
From [ profile] happydog:

Because we never really know each other as well as we think, in response to this post I'd like you to ask a question. Anything about which you are curious, anything you feel you ought to know about me. Silly, serious, personal, fannish. Ask away. Then, if you want, copy this to your own journal, and see what people don't know about you.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

Who has had a profound musical impact?

View other answers

Profound? Mom.

Okay, that was too easy. Let me elaborate.

As a performer, I never payed enough attention (or got good enough at performing, really) to style to recognize my influences. As a singer, I suppose I simply tried to perform it the way I liked it, so there the list would include Judy Collins, Simon & Garfunkel-slash-Paul Simon Graceland era, whatever mix of random stuff that you inevitably hear in a post-audio-recording society, my singing teacher (of course), and my mom (who would sing songs to us at night when we were young). As a pianist, I was pretty much a literalist, so my teacher and my mom were the ones who would have had the most effect on how I played. However, fundamentally, none of the above could really qualify as profoundly influencing my music.

As a listener, I think Joni Mitchell caused the most dramatic change to how I heard music. When I played Clouds for the first time, the only performances of her music I could remember were my mom's (of course) and Judy Collins'.1 Mitchell's voice is just completely unlike theirs - she swoops, plays the beat so freely, so unlike anyone else I had heard up to that time,2 that I couldn't even get into all of it at first. But I listened to it, again and again, and it started falling together, and I think that's what made me willing to fall in love with music, and not always love it from the start.

That really is profound, now that I think of it. I guess I should change my answer.

Profound musical impact? Well, my mother was the one who first formed my musical taste, and that's not minor. But Joni Mitchell was the one who taught it to grow.

1. Yes, I'm finally getting on board with Strunk and White on this. Collins's sounds entirely too Gollum. ^
2. And since, now that I think on it. ^
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
Someone passed out donating blood today.

I didn't notice right away. Someone yelled - I don't know what, asking for help, I think - and I looked up to see this young lady lying like a corpse, muscles slack, head lolling, and the Red Cross employee crouched next to her, doing something with (disconnecting?) the donation apparatus. I was plugged into an apheresis machine, I had to squelch the impulse to go and help - all I could do was sit as a half-dozen workers hurried over.

(She was okay, but that was scary.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (wtfcu)
...are dangerous and scary places, respectively.

Beginning with the first of the two: yesterday, I went with my friend K and his family down the Gunpowder River (or "Little Gunpowder Falls" - I don't know which bit it was, although I think we passed under I-83). Just for a change, his father decided to start a little further upstream than before so we could go through a little of the Class III rapids. In spite of K's mom's reservations, I, being the guest and not experienced with the river, decided to go along with it.

Actually, correct that. I, being not experienced at all, went along with it. For what it's worth, K capsized first (and since his boat had the lunch and the dog, that was quite a major deal). That said, I capsized twice, and the second time ended up traversing the fourth of the four sections of Class III on foot. It cost me, first, my prescription sunglasses, and second, my watch and one of a pair of socks (the one with the smaller holes).

Other than that, though, it was a pretty nice day. Besides, the glasses were cheap, the watch old, and I was planning to get new socks anyway.

Thus segueing to the second item in the title: going to the mall to buy socks today. Remarkably, the 'socks-buying' bit was fine (although finding U.S.-size-16 socks was a bit of a hassle). It was coming out of the sock shop that I got in trouble.

I'm walking down the hall, minding nothing in particular (hey, I'm sleepy!), when suddenly I am accosted by a short, vaguely East-Slavic looking (not that I can judge ethnicity) woman who steps in much too close to me and asks if I'm married.

I, being too dumb to flee, reply with the it-seemed-clever-at-the-time "I'm busy."

She asks again. (Or maybe she asks if I have a girlfriend - I am an Unreliable Narrator™.) The scent of chocolate on her breath is both evident and oddly disturbing.

"Uh, who are you?"

She turns to her accomplice and pronounces that This Guy (meaning me) Is Funny. She then drags me over towards the table to offer me a demo of some plastic-and-thick-wire contrivance that looks vaguely like the ribs of a basket, and, in my bewildered state, appears inexplicably threatening.

"Uh, hey, I have to go, and I'm not buying anything..."

She insists that this is a free demo, and throws some lump of fabric into an inexpensive recent-model-year microwave that is incorporated into the cart-stand-thing.

I continue babbling ineffectually as the whatever-it-is nukes. Then, as she opens the microwave, I spot the box of aromatherapy pillows (or something) that this obviously is one of.

I announce I am leaving as I back away. (Aromatherapy, like chiropractic treatment, is as a rule too easily adopted as a cover name for pseudoscientific practices. It is a reflection of my lack of experience in the 'hard sell' that it is this that leads me to suspect chicanery, rather than the patently nonkosher actions of the salesperson.)

She thrusts the pillow in my face. (Literally. Physical-contact-with-nose-and-mouth literally.)

I, still babbling, flee.

And so I have two new rules.
  • When boating, everything you value should be either tied to you or tied to your boat. (My pack, which was the latter, survived wet but intact.)
  • When someone accosts you to sell you something, leave. Don't say anything, don't even break stride, leave. Even if they're zaftig.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (twisty little passages)
Actually, two Mormon missionaries on bicycles, but that's not as funny. I managed to escape revealing any of my contact info without too much discourtesy, and accepted their cards (one an invite to the Visitors' Center at the big Wash. D.C. Temple, the other an offer for a free Book of Mormon) and parted ways.

It got me thinking, though: what would science missionaries be like?

"Good morning! I'm Robin, this is Charles, and we just wanted to know: have you accepted methodological naturalism into your worldview? Is there some time we can come to your house and talk about the exploration of the universe?

Don't you ever wonder how birds fly, or fish climbed out of the sea to live on land? We believe that we can answer questions like these, that we can discover all sorts of beautiful things about our world. Please, accept one of our pamphlets on evolutionary biology! If you want to learn more, we have some programs you can attend...."


Oct. 2nd, 2007 07:51 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (pale blue dot)
I recall reading some time ago a story about a writer talking to a group of people at a party - naturally, the subject of 'getting around to writing' came up. How do you do it?, they asked. And the writer had no answer, for writing was simply what they did, something as automatic as breathing.1

I mention this, because I don't feel that way about what I'm doing.

Engineering is good. Objectively, I mean - supports the social organism, at least if someone can make a buck thereby. (Although ASME, for example, still has the idealistic code of ethics from the years when such things were valued by the leading lights of the profession.3) Also as a career, since if you're any good someone can make a buck thereby. And I'm ... not actively bad, and certainly a good applied mathematician and a passable technical writer. Possibly even capable of thinking fast on my feet when talking to possible sources of money. But I'm not crazy about the work.

But what are you supposed to do, if you're a grad student already? Go to your advisor and say, "Sorry about the research projects, but I want to do comp. sci. now, seeya"? I think I find mathematics cool, but will it be cool if that's all I'm doing, eight hours a day? And if I can't say "yes, I'm sure", then isn't it a bad idea to drop out? If I can't say "no", isn't it a bad idea not to try it?

...I ought to get some sleep.4 Thanks for listening, anyway.

1 I've probably read that story a dozen times, now that I think of it. I guess a lot of writers are ... well, writers, in this sense.2

2 Yes, there are confirmed exceptions. Connie Willis, for example.

3 Approximately 1900-1930, I'd say - I read about it in a book, but it was a while ago.

4 Another bad sign - the engineers I've heard are complaining about four hours a night, and I'm whinging about only getting seven?


Sep. 18th, 2007 08:52 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
As I may have forgotten to mention, I graduated last May and came back to get my Master's. As part of this, I have signed onto the the school's payroll as a Graduate Research Assistant for (nominally) 20 hours per week while I take my classes.

However you cut that, my Internet habits gotta change.

What does this mean? Mainly three things:

  • I'm not going to sign up for anything that requires a major time commitment over a short period of time.
  • I'm not going to be following blogs any more - especially including Livejournal - or be actively participating in forums, comment threads, &c.
  • I'm not going to follow most links to stuff online that takes any time commitment.

I do plan to continue as a maintainer on [ profile] nomicide (though a less obsessive one) and check my email boxes once or twice a day. I get email notification of comments and I can sign up for email notifications of tagged entries on a journal (e.g. if [ profile] active_apathy still needs an IF beta-tester - I can do that bit by bit on the bus). But spending all day bouncing comments back and forth, or spending six hours plowing through LJ friends-page entries and links therefrom, or even spending just two or three hours jumping around on Yahoo! Answers trying to make my score a multiple of five, I can't afford any more.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Classes started.
  • ENME605: Ahh, controls. The fine art of damping dangerous vibrations. Now with more realism!
  • ENME673: 'This isn't the class that tells you how to do FEM modeling - that's ENME674. This is the class that tells you how to rewrite your equations in a form where it's possible to do FEM modeling.'
  • KNES155N: Tennis! (No, we haven't done anything yet. We never do anything first day of class.)
  • PHIL282: I talked about this already. Amusingly, though, the prof. is writing his thesis on the exact subject of the class.

Anyway, now for the fun bit - from [ profile] alchemi, with minor modifications:

If you comment I'll tell you: 1. Why I keep you on my friends list, 2. What I like about your writing, 3. I'll point out a favorite entry and say why I like it and 4. Write you one of those one-line tribute things you can put in your profile.

Caveat: If you partake of the memeage I will expect the same points answered in return.
Caveat2: Offer only good for people with whom I have been LJ friends for at least 3 months.
Caveat3: Offer only good for people who post entries (not necessarily LJ entries).

Will turn on screening if you like.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
This fall at UMD, I'm taking advantage of my 10-credit tuition remission/fourth year of the four year scholarship free registration to take another non-engineering course dear to my heart: PHIL282: Action and Responsibility. I mean, just read the catalog entry!
If what science tells us is true, that every event has a cause, can we still have free will? Does a horrible childhood mitigate a violent criminal's blameworthiness? Is anyone ever truly responsible for anything? This course deals with these problems in ethics, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics, covering such topics as personal agency, free will, and responsibility. The current version of the course will focus on theories of free will and responsibility, and the related phenomena of reactive emotions (like gratitude and guilt) and excuses (e.g., accidents and mistakes).

The required text for the course will be: Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (Oxford), possibly along with further readings containing highlights of contemporary debates over issues of responsibility.

Written requirements will include midterm and final exams, plus regular short writing assignments.

(Incidentally, I've started reading the book - it seems pretty good, and about as easily readable as philosophy can get.)

Now, most of you aren't taking the class. But it occurs to me it'd be interesting anyway to see. (And, after all, my stance could easily change over the semester.)

(Oh, if you're not sure, go ahead and be ambitious and say what you think. If I omitted your stance, of course, that's different.)

[Poll #1043677]


Aug. 17th, 2007 09:17 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (chess)
Man, I hadn't played chess in a long time. That game was darn crazy.

Anyway, around four or so I left work to go down and steal food from the chem. department's "Welcome New Grad Students" BBQ, and met up there with my brother and a friend of his (I want to say Vasily was his name, but I've already forgotten), and my brother sent me up to his office to go get his chess set. After he ate, he played and lost to V. (let's call his friend that), and was about to start another game when I asked if I could play.

I wish I'd written it down. It was pretty nuts. All I can remember is that it started off with 1. e4 d5 2. Nc3 d4, and every turn I was just sweating bullets. I think it continued with 3. Nd5?! e5 (I have no confidence in the ratings of these moves - checking online, 3. Nd5 seems dubious, but it might merely be interesting), but somehow, slowly, I managed to dodge fork, gambit, and trap to end up pinning his knight against his king with my queen and, after threating with my bishop, bringing my knight up to mate:

Honestly, I don't even know whether Black threw the game or whether I had a forced win. I was just glad it ended.

Anyway, I went afterwards to the campus arcade for pool, and around 7:30, took the Metro home with my brother's friend after my brother left for his new digs up north.

And that was my day. Good night!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Went to friend's today, played bunches of CAG games (Before I Kill You, Mr. James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game was the most popular), played on Wii (tennis king! not so much boxing king, not baseball or golf king, Red Steel loser...), played on trampoline, helped push Honda Accord across Connecticut to where it could roll to the auto shop. Watched High Noon before leaving.

packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (wtfcu)
We were on our way back from Baltimore, m'dad driving and me watching his GPS receiver, when suddenly he commented, "Was there an accident ahead? There seems to be a lot of paper drifting around."

Part of a mile later, I said, "Hey, it looks like it's coming from that trailer over there."

"Is that toilet paper?"

It was. Great gouts of it were strung out the doors of two insufficiently-secured portable toilets (out of sixteen on the trailer - these two, at the end, were unpaired), with more entangled in the frame and undercarriage of the trailer, and as we passed, we could see the rolls inside from which it must have been unreeling for miles.

You gotta laugh.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Bumper)
Who Wants to Be a Superhero, tomorrow, 9/8c!

Also, if you had a paid account during the power outage a few days ago, click here for three more days.

Oh, and I actually do have something to talk about! You know music? I've been noticing more and more that my opinions of songs tend to change when I listen to them a lot.

What do I mean? Well, let's take a few examples: Smash Mouth's "All Star", Donovan's "Mellow Yellow", Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", Suzanne Vega's "Fat Man & Dancing Girl".

I love the movie "Mystery Men". When "All Star" played in the ending credits, I thought it rocked - clever lyrics, a distinctive style, a good beat ... a real five-star song in my own personal rating system. And when I saw my brother had a tape with the song on it, I was so enthusiastic about it that he gave me a copy of the CD (bought on the cheap, but hey, it's good!).

And the whole CD sounds like "All Star", with that 'distincive style'. And the whole CD is mediocre. And listening to "All Star" now, it seems kinda cheesy. I've gone from being excited by it to, well, liking it in small doses, sometimes, if it's played by itself.

Now that I think of it, "Mellow Yellow" is the same but more so. I've gone from loving to hating that song, simple as that.

Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", on the other hand, I started to like. And "Fat Man & Dancing Girl". Both of them sounded flat-out weird when I first heard them, like "two-star skip-it-if-you-feel-like-it" lame, but they're interesting to me now. Songs I might choose out to listen to.

I don't know if there's a pattern to it. But it's worth noting that "Fat Man & Dancing Girl" is one of the two tracks which reviewers rave about on "99.9 F°". So maybe that means something.
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
So I realized that I never actually said what I did this weekend. I should do that.

Anyway, Friday I went down to my friend K's house to hang out before going on his Eagle project on Sat/Sun. He'd called me Thursday to ask if I wanted to visit.

Then he called me again to tell me that he'd forgotten about the contra dancing trip his youth group was taking, that he had set up, and he had to go, and would I mind, it costs nine bucks?

Thus it was at 7:40 I stepped onto the dance floor of the ballroom at Glen Echo for my first contra dancing experience.

Contra dancing is a French term borrowed from the English term "country dancing". We did both line dancing and square dancing. Or, to be glib, confusing dancing and really confusing dancing.

To be honest, though, the dances (except for the one attempted square dance) began to make sense once we were partway through the night. The moves - allemandes, do-si-do's, swings, stars, heys, circles - were arranged so that the dancers generally moved in smooth arcs to meet their partners or neighbors, with pauses between turning around and the like. And the feeling of moving in chorus with dozens of strangers, stepping in sync, was wonderful. (The feeling of foreign sweat on your hand during the allemande was not, but it's not like we all weren't dripping by the end of the night.) At ten o'clock, K, K's family and I slipped out of the circle, changed into less-sweaty shirts, and assembled to leave. We were all out of the showers and into bed about half past eleven.

And then up at six-thirty sharp to get ready to leave for West Virginia at eight-thirty.

K's Eagle Project, as you may have supposed from the subject, was to bridge a small creek. It took place at a to-be campsite owned by a local school and set about halfway between Winchester and Romney, not far from Hanging Rock. Incidentally, this also meant not far from the Hanging Rock Cafe, which (fortunately) proved to be one of the finest country-style dining establishments I have ever had the pleasure to eat food at. (You could tell them that the friend of the kid who returned the spoon that the bald French guy accidentally pocketed after buying coffee sent you, but I doubt they remember us.) The bridge itself was halfway done when we arrived - the platform was laid down across three tree trunks, and two of the end posts were set in the ground. So when we arrived - about 11:20 a.m. - we set to putting in the two posts at the other end and the posts along the sides so as to make the handrails.

Around 7 o'clock, most of the volunteers left, leaving K, K's dad, M, and Mr. S to continue trying to get the two new end posts to set solidly in the ground. An hour later, after pounding about fifty pounds of rock practically into gravel at the base of each hole, we called it a day and left to eat at the cafe before bed. At night it poured.

We rose about seven, eight o'clock the next morning, to get working at finishing the handrails and adding additional posts to secure them in place. Around twelve, we declared the bridge finished for the nonce and began to pack up. Two o'clock we were heading home. About six o'clock K's mom dropped me off at my house again.

Yeah, that was a tiring weekend.

Inform 7

Jul. 26th, 2007 02:24 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
After a certain point, you simply have to admit that you're hooked. Well, here it is.

Inform 7 is cool. I'm writing a text adventure.

Will I enter something in IFComp 2007? Dunno. Will I get involved with the IF community? Dunno. Will I give it up after a week? Probably Dunno. But if you feel like offering encouragement, commentary, or critique (or just listening to me talk), I'm setting up a filter for IF stuff now – just drop in a comment, and I'll put you in.

(It's either bad or good that all my ideas seem to involve writing new 'rules' for the game – I don't know which.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (pale blue dot)
From [ profile] happydog again:

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. Update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

Play if it is your will, do not if it is not.

1) Internment or cremation?

Possibly cremation. I don't really like the idea of wasting perfectly good organic matter in an airtight box six feet under, not to mention the real estate.

Of course, as I'll be dead, those remaining alive may supersede my thoughts in this case.

2) Name something from your childhood that delighted you. You spent hours with this thing. What was it?

It'd be cheating to say, "Richard Adams's Watership Down", yeah?

I don't know. I found the Magic 8-Ball pretty hilarious for a while, but Mom took it away because she thought we were using it too much.

3) Have you ever had a psychic or paranormal experience?

No. Not even with the aforementioned Magic 8-Ball.

4) How do you remove a splinter?

Using the nail of the index finger, I press on the skin just past the embedded end of the splinter, and scrape to push it out. Once it is sufficiently exposed, I grip with the index finger fingernail and thumbnail and pull.

(Unless, of course, I have tweezers. Sadly, while the Swiss Army Knife does, the Leatherman does not.)

5) Was Nicola Tesla more of a genius than Thomas Edison?

Geez, you ask the hard questions, don't you? :)

I'm inclined to say Tesla. Clever as Edison was, AC power transmission is much better than DC, and system-builders like Tesla have bigger historical effects than inventors like Edison, not in the least because systems lead to generations of new inventions (e.g. refrigerators, air conditioners).

Of course, then comes the question: was Thomas Edison more of a genius than Robert Moog? :D
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
For personal reasons, I've been (mostly) off the web for the last three days – if you posted anything of great import in that time, feel free to give me a heads-up. Can't guarantee I'll be too alert for the next few days, either.

Other news: I've got the first of four prints I made in a summer class this year up on my DeviantArt.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (one-quarter view)
So it's the top of the fifth, zero to zero with one out. Unseasonably cold – temps in the low sixties – mostly cloudy, with a breeze coming in from left field. Four times already runners have made it to third and died there. Bruce Alter is at bat.

Jeremiah Meiners whisks in six pitches: a ball, a strike, a strike, a foul, a foul, and Alter hits a grounder to the shortstop that almost beats him to first base – one man on, with the home team manager disputing the play. Eric Allen behind him takes one-two-three balls and a strike before getting a walk to first. Adam Baker knocks his second pitch off a grounder towards first base for a single, jumping over the first baseman, Tim Park, as the latter tries to recover the ball. Bases loaded, one out. Mark Tracy steps up, fouls, watches a ball go by, and shoots one to the shortstop – it goes to the plate to catch Alter out at home. Bases loaded, two outs, and Beau Brooks comes up to bat.

Steve comments approvingly. He's an old-time baseball fan, was talking about Harold Baines Sr. (father of the left-fielder) a few minutes ago, and he thinks Brooks's got a good name. Dad replies, I'm keeping the score.

Meiners throws the first pitch, a ball. Brooks fouls off the next one, lets a strike by, fouls again. A ball. Another ball. Foul. Foul.

Over the right-field fence.

Pandemonium. The visitors are cheering, the runners are circling the bases. First grand slam we can remember in this stadium, and it's simply beautiful. The runners go into the dugout and the fielders get ready for the next batter when the second base umpire comes running in to talk to the home plate ump.* They retrieve the bat. They talk. They measure it against the plate.

Suddenly, the fielders run in. Someone says it was an out, some sort of illegal play. I'm yelling at the announcer, in the booth behind me, "What happened? What's going on?" No-one off the field knows, as on the field the visiting coach fiercely argues the call, and in the stands an unknown home-teamer taunts him. We hear something about an illegal bat from the umpires before the visitors take the field. Four runs vanish from the scoreboard.

Two innings later, scoreless despite two more runners making third, we learn that the bat had pine tar too far up the handle – halfway, it seems like. Steve talks about major-leaguers who've gotten away with it in the past. We watch to the end, as first the visitors score a run in the seventh and the home team two in the eighth, one on a shortstop's error that's officially counted as a hit. The game ends in the top of the ninth with a nail-biting infield play for the final out at first base while a runner tries to come in from third. The wind has died down as we leave the field, and Dad gives directions to Steve for his trip home. The bout ended at 10:23, almost three-and-a-half hours.

I love this game.

Note: The above was the fifth game of the season for the Silver Spring - Takoma Thunderbolts, playing against the Rockville Express at their home field behind Montgomery Blair High School for the Cal Ripkin, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League.

* Update: According to the official news, Thunderbolts coach John Duffy initiated the check of the bat. The Express protested the decision to the League on the afternoon of June 15.

Update the Second: The appeal was rejected, as it did not come before play resumed.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
1. Just restarted my paper diary. Handwriting (well, printing) still terrible.

2. My community college campus shop seems to offer the best prices on printmaking paper. I still don't believe it.

3. Laptop's back! Did I mention that? I don't think I mentioned that.

4. Meaningless poll!

[Poll #997142]
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
1 July 1985: I am born.
7 March 1986: Richard W. Hamming gives a speech entitled "You and Your Research" that includes this part-of-a-paragraph:
Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall; furthermore he was courting our secretary at the time. I went over and said, "Do you mind if I join you?" They can't say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, "What are the important problems of your field?" And after a week or so, "What important problems are you working on?" And after some more time I came in one day and said, "If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?" (emphasis added)

circa 2000-2003: I read said speech off a printout m'dad had lying around. I am greatly impressed.
Ten minutes ago: I realize that this is relevant to my own life, to what I want to do in grad school and after.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
Let's back up a bit.

Okay, set the Way-Bac machine to ... err, yesterday, maybe the day before (C confirms this). My roommate is watching a YouTube music video (hey, where'd you think I got it?) of James Blunt, and I, glancing over his shoulder, comment on how I had no accurate image of what James Blunt looked like before I'd seen him just now. The topic is off and running, now: my roommate (let's call him B, for simplicity) mentions how he was surprised the Righteous Brothers were white, I mention how I was surprised Joan Armatrading was black, and across the hall, one of my other suitemates (the aforementioned C) says he was amazed when he saw Tracy Chapman wasn't a "pasty, white man". (Yes, that's a quote.)

I was shocked at this. But this shock was only exacerbated, and greatly so, when, as I played "Fast Car" for B and C, they maintained, even while listening carefully, that she still sounded like a guy! They even began speculating that maybe she was big, and that's why her voice was so deep – ignoring the obvious fact that my voice is deep, and I'm a five-foot-seven kinda-skinny dude compared to their five-ten, plus. (And she's five foot four and a half, according to IMDB.)

Now, I imagine many of you know who Tracy Chapman is, and why, given the political/sociological nature of her lyrics, I might be surprised at the "white" part. (Yes, I know black people don't write all of these songs – to make a positive assumption of whiteness, however....) What is almost more interesting is something which I reminded myself of, when I said to C, "You're one of those people who thinks Smokey Robinson is female, aren't you?"

See, I used to be one of those people. When I found out Smokey Robinson was a male countertenor, I was dumbfounded. I really shouldn't be critical of these guys – I did the same thing, and I know how hard I found it to really analyse how his voice sounds, and how other people's voices sound, that I could begin to tell the difference. And I don't know today what I've twigged to as gender-specific that makes, say, Tracy Chapman sound clearly female, and [ profile] tracerj on Game Grid sound (and I apologize for this) male.

And really, that brings up a more general point: this is just a signal, not the thing. Sometimes it will be wrong, and wrong in different ways for different people. Signals are just like that. And it's ... well, shallow, to get in a huff over it, because it really isn't that important.

(Man, if I'd known talking to people was such a good source of journalling material, I'd have started sooner!)

(Oh, and B is the second of the two roommates quoted in my DeviantArt blood painting post – the other would be D, if I stuck to my naming convention.)

(It is fortunate for said naming convention that I don't spend too much time chatting with the two people in A. Although they happen to be geeks and fellow members of the local Diplomacy Club, so it's somewhat odd that I don't.)

(One last thing before I forget: might be a little break (yeah, that's new!) as I move out of the dorms, given that my laptop's still dead.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
Warning: The below post may be disturbing to some (although, if I guess rightly, not to most of you), due to allusions to violence and sexuality and odd attitudes thereto. Will lj-cut on request.

This afternoon on DeviantArt, among the popular images was this sweet little image, painted with the artist's blood.

Upon my showing it to my roommates, I got two reactions: "He's a psycho. His girlfriend's going to die", and "Yeah, whoever did that is a f–g." (Mealy-mouthed ineffectual obfuscation of sexual ephitet courtesy me. Yay PC!)

This shocked me. Utterly. Because when I looked at it (and I guessed the painter was female, but I honestly don't know) I saw a ... well, I hesitate to use the term, given the potential for confusion, but some sort of Neopagan – in this case, a believer in some sort of special symbolism of nature and primitive rituals (primitive being purely non-derogatory here). The type of person who's gutsy enough to put off bandaging a smashed finger long enough to use it as an ink dispenser, but who's no more likely to commit murder than, say, the average deer hunter. Not enough even to encourage suspicion. (As for my bewilderment at the ephitet – well, that'll have to wait for another post.)

Thinking it over, I can understand why I was naive to expect that. In fact, thinking it over, I would flatly expect that reaction, had I thought about their worldviews before I spoke. But coming from my upbringing, and (to be honest) hanging out on the Web as much as I do, I seem to have somehow managed to broadened my schema of "people like me" so much that I forget that some of these people are actually scared of each other.


Apr. 28th, 2007 10:45 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
I've always wanted to be the sort who wears a hat all over the place. I've mooned over the stolid fedora, grinned at the whimsical fez, longed for the bohemian beret, extolled the honest bowler. However, I never had a really good hat for my own. (I mean, I had that communist-China army cap, but it was too small and uncomfortable.)

Then, yesterday, through an unusual series of events*, I found myself with not one, but two new hats.
Pictures! Click for captions. )

* (1) A planned trip with my roommates to TGI Fridays, (2) one roommate's desire for a new pair of sunglasses, (3) a "$10 off on purchases of $20 or more" coupon handed out at the entrance to Value City, and (4) an announcement over the intercom about a shoe sale, causing me to turn and head to the rear of the store, past the hats.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
Wednesday, after reminding us to put our 'Split Complement' pieces on the board in the hall for all to see, gave us our final problem for the semester, the culmination of all we had worked on before – designing the cover for a new magazine.

There were three main things we had to consider.
  • Subject. He recommended working an issue dear to our hearts, here.
  • Format. Does it have a closure? Vertical or horizontal? Regular binding, spiral binding, some other binding? Does it have to be rectangular? Etc.
  • Audience. Is this a mass circulation magazine a la Newsweek, or a 'boutique' magazine like 2600? (No, he didn't offer those examples.)

Anyway, I got an idea. You know how back in the 'pulp' days they had sci-fi on the shelves at drugstores?

Yes, exactly.

As far as decisions so far, I've come up with (a) it's going to be PG, non-SF-fandom friendly stories and essays, and (b) it's standard large format, like Sports Illustrated and Aboriginal Science Fiction.

So, the point of this post: I'm going to have to come up with some description-of-what's-inside text; does anyone want their name on the cover? (And if you have a story that fits the bill I can try to illustrate, still better.)

[Note: Will be away from computers for weekend, as laptop is dead and PC in dorm.]
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
Too little stuff for a complete update*, but a few funny things:
  • The guy (vaguely African-seeming, but I wouldn't really know) who said he was 'good at math', but needed help with 'translations'. 'Translations', in this case, being along the lines of:
    Fill in the blank with the appropriate word phrase: "a - b" means b ______ a.

    I begged off, saying I had to finish my art assignment, and gave him directions to the mathematics building.
  • My ankles hurt so much afterwards, I could barely move.
  • What does the question of whether you can know something absolutely as a truth have to do with abortion? No, I'm serious, I still can't figure that one out.
  • If a bank can lend out 90% of the money deposited therein, adding $100 to the bank's lending stock adds $1000 to circulation by a simple geometric series (r = 0.9) ... if all the money in circulation is redeposited deposited in the bank. So, what is the point of this exercise, exactly? And why are the business students still being tested on it?
  • "At schema yourself resemblant". There – now I've posted a nonsensical spam subject line too.


* Says the guy who just posted a one-line update consisting of a single link.§
† Which means this probably occurred Sunday afternoon.
‡ He'd actually started off asking for directions, then asked me if I could help him solve the problems. I carefully refused to sit in his car out of the cold while I looked at his stuff.
§ Which, incidentally, has both shown me a whole lot of tracks I might be interested in, and that I know nothing about electronic music at all. Neither of which surprised me. I was glad to see that "synth pop" was the correct category for Eurythmics, though.

House Tour

Mar. 27th, 2007 08:59 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
So, housing deadlines for next year are coming up, and I need to decide where to go – and so do my roommates. And one of them is seriously looking for a house. Today we looked at the one closest to campus.

Read more... )

So, is it a decent house? All we have heard of the landlord was highly positive (this certainly doesn't sound like a 'rent it to the college idiots so we can collect the insurance when they burn it down' type, although they are not local), and it is near campus. The current tenants are obviously less-than-ideal, which would explain the poor conditions prevailing at the time of the tour, and my prospective co-tenants are (mostly) straight-arrow guys. It is supposed to be wired for high-speed Internet, as well.

The other option, of course, is commuting from home – an hour trip ($1.85 off peak, $2.50 on, one way) taking the Metro. Or, if I'm lucky, staying on campus somewhere.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. ("uh-huh")
So, a week off from school, right? Counting the two bracketing weekends, that's 9 days between classes.

...aaand I finally finish all my homework assignments Day 8.

Well, I guess I have sixteen hours of vacation, at least....


packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

October 2011

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