31 Aug 2002

The computer saga continues... So

The computer saga continues...

So I went home yesterday to check on the 10.2 installation. Oddly, the computer was off---I figured maybe it had shut down after completing the install? But no, I hit the power button and nothing happened. It was off and it wouldn't come back on. Great. So I went over to Hilary's computer and killed some Babylonians.

This morning the situation was, of course, unchanged. I figured I'd have to send the darn thing in again. But then it dawned on me: what if the power cord were dead somehow? If the battery couldn't charge, and the computer couldn't go to sleep (because it was in install mode), then it would eventually have a hard shutdown. When it does this, you can't turn it back on until his has a power cord plugged in. But if the power cord is dead... I pressed the button on the battery that lights up LEDs to show how full the battery is. It appeared to be dead. Aha!

So I came in to the CIT and found Rob, who has an iBook, to borrow his power cord. And indeed, the computer booted right up. It started installing 10.2 from scratch, so I'm guessing that the hard shutdown occurred in the middle of the install before. At least it hasn't complained so far---something like that could completely hose the system if you're not careful.

It's installing now. One hour and 36 minutes to go.

"The usual conservative has to argue against liberal solutions on liberal grounds: e.g. affirmative action is bad because it doesn't treat all races equally; gays are really demanding "special rights". The antidemocrat can argue more directly: he doesn't believe in equality." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 4:14pm | Comments (0)

30 Aug 2002

It seems that my random

It seems that my random quotes file is a hit on =shiggy, so I thought I'd post it here too. For all those people who read this and don't read =shiggy, I mean. Hi mom!

I left the system disks installing MacOS X 10.2 on my laptop while I went off to a grad social, but I suppose it should be installed by now. Will report on that once I've played with it a bit. :)

"I distinguish liberals from progressives, who can be recognized theoretically by their belief that The Man is as oppressive as ever, and operationally by their low-circulation magazines, their Volvos, and their Third World jewelry." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 8:36pm | Comments (0)

System 10.2 arrived! Woo hoo!

System 10.2 arrived! Woo hoo!

Posted by blahedo at 3:24pm | Comments (0)

Computer seems to work fine.

Computer seems to work fine. Civ3 still doesn't. Apparently it has something to do with the funny resolution on the Powerbook G4---but since the laptop also supports the standard 1024x768, it's not at all clear to me why this isn't easily fixed. Well, the 1.29 patch is still being ported to Mac, so maybe that'll fix this. Until then, I'll be making great use of Hilary's computer. :)

This was orientation week for the first year grad students at Brown. It's been neat showing them around and telling them what classes (not) to take and what professors (not) to work with; but the real surprise was today. Today we were joined by a guy named Frank Wood, who went to IMSA with me way back when. We were in the swing choir together. And now he's in the masters program here. I can't even describe how weird that is.

"Liberals believe in equality of opportunity but not of results. In other words, in the game of life we should all start out at about the same place, but there's no maximum level of attainment. That neatly divides us from leftists, who would prefer some sort of ceiling, and from rightists, who don't believe in the level floor." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 12:59pm | Comments (1)

29 Aug 2002

My computer arrived today. Actually,

My computer arrived today. Actually, it arrived yesterday, but they dropped it off at the 3rd floor instead of the 4th (because we on the 4th were all at the CS department picnic); then one of the students came downstairs to pick up his own package and they gave them all of them. Love the security around here.

Anyway, now to see if it works....

"Exercises for the Republican reader #4: Compare the GNP with the rate of taxation over the last fifty years-- e.g. the boom years of the '50s with their 90% marginal tax rate-- and practice explaining that high tax rates discourage investment until you can do it with a straight face." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 1:29pm | Comments (0)

27 Aug 2002

Incidentally... the quotes you've been

Incidentally... the quotes you've been reading for the last few posts come from zompist.com, a site maintained by Mark Rosenfelder containing such diverse elements as the constructed world of Verduria, a SpinnWebe satellite site, and the sci.lang FAQ. There are also a number of essays that are simply a gold mine for great quotes. Go visit, it's pretty cool.

"Exercises for the Republican reader #3: Take your favorite flat tax proposal and your last 1040, and have your acountant calculate how much money it will save you. Find the names of the five or six middle-class people who will have to make up that shortfall, and write them a nice thank-you note." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 5:40pm | Comments (0)

The saga continues: I called

The saga continues: I called Apple's tech support late Friday, and they seemed pretty appalled at the treatment I'd gotten. They overnighted (I keep wanting to say and write something like "overnote" there... ah English) me a box to put the computer in, along with a packing label to overnight it back; then they fix it and overnight it back to me. I can only assume this fast-track assistance is due to the shaft I got from the supposed "licensed Apple service center". Anyway, over the weekend I also discovered that even without the extra memory in it (yes, the Brown guy actually took out the memory and taped it to the side of the computer---Apple guy said I might as well leave it out) it still had the wake-up-while-closed problem (in spades), and at least once it did the screen-won't-come-on thing, so it can't have been the memory's fault totally, and Apple has something to fix.

In other news, Hilary encouraged me to play CivIII on her computer since mine was broken, and last night I caved in. After making sure everything else was done (i.e. I was fed and my laundry had been started), I sat down at her computer and started playing. That was about 8:30 or 9. When she got home, at 1:30 (AD 400), I looked up, blinked, and said, "Hi! I think I'd better stop this now." She laughed. Boy howdy, is that game ever addictive. Whatever Michael may say about Civ3 being not as good as Civ2, it's certainly right up there on the addictiveness scale.

Finally, the first-years are here this week, getting orientated; I have shunned all responsibility for this, since I (probably) won't be here next year, and other people should know how to run stuff. I still end up at most of the things and helping out, though. :)

Exercises for the Republican reader #2: Write a homily, suitable for use in Sunday school, explaining why Jesus should have condemned the sheep who demeaned the poor by feeding and clothing them, and blessed the rich man for living in splendor while Lazarus suffered. --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 11:05am | Comments (0)

23 Aug 2002

Okay, however mad I was

Okay, however mad I was at Apple, now I'm at least twice as mad at Brown's computer people. Turns out that when the bookstore "sent it out", it was in-house, to our own people (despite my specific request to send it on to Apple), who "evaluated" it and decided Apple wouldn't fix it, so they'd just try and charge me to do it themselves. They never even called Apple. (Which explains the bewilderment of the people at Apple when I called without a case number and never having seen my laptop in for repair.)

I went in and talked to the guy. He said it looked like it had been dropped---and with 17 years of experience, he should know what a dropped computer looks like---but of course wasn't trying to insinuate that I had done so. I told him it had not been dropped, and he ran a whole "I'm not saying I'm just saying" routine with me. Describing the damage as "the corners looked a little scuffed", I pointed out that they get that way just from sliding it in and out of my bag a few times a day, and he had the gall to say "maybe you slid it in and out of your bag too often, I dunno." How fucking patronising. He then claimed that the clips that held in the memory were broken (they're not, just worn down---the cheap plastic is too malleable), and that he'd "seen this before", and "Apple doesn't fix computers that are like that."

I'm going to go around and check a couple of friends' Mac laptops to visually confirm what the memory clips look like, then I'm calling Apple back and telling them they need to withdraw their "Apple warranty repair service" contract with these guys. Geez.

Oh, and I almost forgot: if all they were going to do is look at it and say "we're not even going to send this in to Apple", did they have to take a fucking week and a half to do it? God dammit, I'd've had my computer back and working by now if they'd just sent it straight to Apple like I asked. Should've just driven up to the Apple Store in Cambridge an hour away.

Exercises for the Republican reader #1: Write a rebuttal justifying the corporate subsidy of your choice, respecting the conservative principle that the tax system cannot be used for social engineering. --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 5:27pm | Comments (0)

I passed!

I passed!

Posted by blahedo at 3:15pm | Comments (0)

Apple tech support loathing

I am currently seething at Apple tech support.

When I sent in my computer last Tuesday, it had three things wrong with it: one, it had a tendency to come awake even when the lid was closed. This has been going on the longest---a couple times back in April, then more recently (and consistently) since mid-July. It caused the computer to get real hot, which may have caused the other problems. Two, it started simply freezing up solid. The keyboard and trackpad did nothing, all I could do was turn it off. Three, the screen would sometimes fail to come on when booting or waking up from sleep. I think this was accompanied by keyboard-and-trackpad lockup, but I'm not sure. So anyway, I sent it in.

Today, I get a call from the local computer store where I dropped it off. Apparently, Apple's entire response to this is: "It looks like you installed your own memory. Also, we think you probably dropped it. So we're not going to do any warranty work on it." See, there's these two plastic pins that hold in the memory; Apple claims that they are "broken" (they look more worn down than broken), and that they would therefore need to do a $420 repair on the thing in order to fix my problem. Now, those pins were like that since October, so I'm thinking that they weren't the cause of these problems that didn't start for another six to nine months. Furthermore, I have a hard time believing that plastic pins cost $420 to replace, so I don't know what the hell they think costs that much. And finally, do you really think that "the machine sometimes comes awake while the lid is closed" has anything to do with this??

The thing that really really pisses me off, though, is that the tech in the Brown computer store said that this was SOP for Apple---another Powerbook, that had a big line running down the LCD screen, had just come back from them. Like mine, it showed no evidence whatsoever of being dropped, but Apple claimed that they thought it was, and were refusing to cover it under warranty.

Is it really so easy to get out of honouring your warranty? "We think you probably dropped it"?? I am going to call Apple about this (later today, after my proposal---great timing, sheesh), but in the meantime: does anyone know any good tech-savvy lawyers?

"English has more phonemes than the alphabet has available symbols; the usual expedient of the orthography for solving this problem is to use digraphs. Both the problem and the solution are inherited from Latin, which had hardly finished tossing out the Greek letters it didn't think it needed when it started to borrow Greek words that needed them." --Mark Rosenfelder

Posted by blahedo at 12:11pm | Comments (0)

22 Aug 2002

Just made a good practice

Just made a good practice talk, 50 minutes but solid. The one I give tomorrow will probably go even faster. And I make sure to drop in lots of "but you can ask me about that later", so I should mostly get pretty easy questions (knock on wood).

Incidentally, I just thought of a good phrase to describe the prevailing political philosophy of Brown ugrads: "closed-minded progressivity". I probably am not the first to come up with this. Sure, there are many open-minded people on the campus, but there are a frightening number who are dogmatically 'progressive', embodying everything that's wrong with the notion of political correctness. It's sad, really. Better than dogmatic conservatives, I guess.

"Rainbows look pretty a long way off up in the sky, and maybe as a bumber sticker. They do not make a good color scheme. The point of having a color scheme is that you, you know, choose colors, not just accept them all. Don't worry. They're just colors. They won't feel offended." --Kevin Colby

Posted by blahedo at 4:43pm | Comments (0)

Well, I finished my slides,

Well, I finished my slides, and I just sent off a really-final version of my proposal document to my committee. I gave an empty practice talk last night (and ran drastically overtime---55 minutes for a 40-minute time slot!), and I'll grab a few people for another one tonight. If I'm not ready by 1pm tomorrow, I'll never be. whew

In other news, my advisor just said he was having trouble reading the pdf I sent, and trying to get mutt to view it. Did I know anything about how to use mutt? "Sure," say I, "that's the mail program I use." "Oh good! Now I know who to go to when I have problems." Ah, the life of a grad student. :)

"Never underestimate the power of lint." --Eric Blau

Posted by blahedo at 1:26pm | Comments (0)

21 Aug 2002

MORONS. The Brown University Parking


The Brown University Parking Office is composed of MORONS.

I've rented a house from Brown for a year now, and thus I've also had to deal with renting a parking spot from them. I could rent one of the parking spots next to my house, but for reasons surpassing understanding they charge twice as much for them as for any other parking spot on campus. So I rented a spot behind the Athletic Center, two blocks away; it works out pretty well, since I drive only rarely. I arranged for the spot before I moved in, but since I was leaving my car in Chicago for the summer, I just took the spot starting in August of 2001.

Fast forward to this week. Monday morning, I get a call at home at about 10:40 in the morning; the number didn't come up on the caller ID, so I didn't answer, because I was still tired. They didn't leave a message, so I went back to sleep. Twenty minutes later I get a call from my officemate, saying: "the parking office just called here, and you need to move your car, because the lot it's in is under construction, and if you don't move it right now they're gonna tow it." I'm guessing they were the 10:40 call. Thanks for leaving a message, guys.

So I walk over there to move my car. And I have a ticket. Wtf? I move the car next to my house (which I'm not supposed to do, since I didn't rent that spot, but whatever), and as I get out I notice that my parking sticker actually expired on May 31st of this year. Wtf?

I had gotten no notices whatsoever. Not from the parking office, not from the grad school, nobody; not a notice of expiry, not a renewal notice. Every other business I've transacted with, ever, has sent so many renewal notices when my service was about to expire that it bordered on spam.

So yesterday, I called the parking office, and asked them what was going on. Apparently, the parking office sends out renewal notices to faculty and staff, but not to students, because, I quote, "they might not be here next year." Not, again, that that stops any other business in the world. And even for undergrads the odds are about two thirds that a given undergrad would want to renew (freshmen aren't allowed cars); for grad students, who are typically here for five, six, seven years, the odds are pretty damn good that they're going to want to renew their sticker. In fact, I would bet that the average length of time a grad student is affiliated with Brown isn't much lower than for the average non-faculty staff member---it might even be higher.

So how was I supposed to know when to go in to renew? Apparently, I was just supposed to read their minds. I'm serious here---the woman on the phone actually had no idea where I might have found out that information. She "thought maybe" that the grad school was supposed to send out info. (They didn't.) But I was supposed to know that I needed to sign up around April for a spot. The only currently available lot is about twice as far as the one I was in last year. She sounded as if she thought me daft for even hoping to get a spot in that lot after missing the signup in April.

So then she asks me where I'd been parking all summer (I'd told her about the ticket, see). I said I'd parked in the lot, duh, because I thought the permit was a year long. She then had the gall to suggest that I should both pay the ticket and pay for a year-long parking permit, retroactive to June. I said that if I were going to pay for the year-long parking, shouldn't I get out of the ticket? She "guessed" that I could contest the ticket in that case.

Anyway, today I went in and got a sticker for that four-block-away lot, without making mention of my conversation yesterday---I don't think it was the same woman, anyway. She only charged me for the academic year, so I guess I'll just go ahead and pay the ticket; at least I got out of paying two and a half months of parking rent out of this whole ordeal.

I still can't believe they don't send out any information whatsoever to students about how to sign up for parking. Other people seem to manage. How do they find out about it? Do they, in fact, "just know"? Does the University send out parking info to ugrads but not grad students?

"You've said yourself that North Carolina is changing because of a flood of Northerners coming in and changing the culture. That's great. I'll keep it in mind as a model for fixing the rest of Dixie." --Michael Kimmitt

Posted by blahedo at 5:46pm | Comments (0)

20 Aug 2002

It occurs to me that

It occurs to me that despite the title, this blog has not yet made any particular reference to linguistics, or to dancing, or to any books (good or otherwise). Clearly, I need to rectify that.

I've just finished reading a fun little book entitled Sentry Peak, by Harry Turtledove. I have a difficult time assigning it to a genre---on the one hand, it's fantasy, but on the other, historical fiction. (How's that work then?) It is a novel of war....

When King Buchan died, his appointed successor was the gangly King Avram. But the northern nobles didn't like his attitudes toward provincial prerogative (they were for it, he was against), so they threw their support to his cousin and rival King Geoffrey. In the ensuing conflict, King Avram promised to unbind the blond serfs from the land....

Ok, get it? I'm not even quite sure if this is better with or without a strong grounding in Civil War history; I didn't have much, but I had enough. It is great fun to read this book and figure out what the cities of Georgetown and Rising Rock and the provinces of Cloviston and Croatoan correspond to, and who northerner Thraxton the Braggart and southron General Guildenstern correspond to---you get the idea, I'm sure. Some are obvious immediately, others come around and hit you like a ton of bricks dozens of pages after you first see them. I was sent into a fit of giggles more times than I can count at figuring out yet another one.

But gimmicks aside, it is still a fairly gripping story, and as is Harry Turtledove's specialty it somehow manages to make you root for both sides at once. The book isn't for everyone (my history-grad-student neighbour Sam would absolutely loathe it, I'm certain), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"My philosophy is to "educate and then trust the general public". This philosophy is in line with the basic values of democracies. The government's approach to homeland security is "keep everything secret and trust nobody". This is in line with the basic values of authoritarian governments." --John Gilmore

Posted by blahedo at 12:41am | Comments (0)

19 Aug 2002

Criminy. According to this article,

Criminy. According to this article, families of WTC-killed firefighters are receiving over $1M from charities, plus federal payments of $250K, plus a continuation of the deceased's salary (avg $50K/yr) until they remarry. Cops' families receive slightly smaller amounts ($929K from charity, the rest the same). In contrast, families of the other victims receive an average of $146K from charity, and of course nothing from the other sources.

Now, I actually don't grudge these people the money. I hope it helps them put their lives back together after the tragedy, though no monetary amount could possibly ever compensate the loss of a loved one.

But the situation as a whole is very, very messed up. Where are all these donors for the families of the hundreds of service personnel who die in the line of duty every year? What about for the families of murdered people? They don't get a red cent.

If one of my loved ones had died, in the line of duty or by being murdered, and especially if I'd had a hard time making ends meet afterwards, I think I'd be pretty resentful of all this attention the WTC survivors are getting.

Anyway, back to the kicking and screaming.

"Man, if they offered the SAT at midnight, that would be such a party. I'd take it every week. I'd be like, hey, let's get ripped and take the SAT again. It'd be better than midnight bowling." --Casey Westerman

Posted by blahedo at 4:15pm | Comments (0)


UGH. I finally got around to looking at the website of these Catholic anti-Disney people, and my feelings could at this point not be more mixed.

They are the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property. Browsing through their website, I found the tone familiar---it has the same sort of “sustained outrage” that I have come to expect from a lot of progressive sites. Of this, I approve; too many people have become totally apathetic in their acceptance of things they disagree with, and sustaining the outrage and calling others to action is important.

As for the things they get outraged over... some are pretty straightforward---many of their items are in protest of someone making fun of the Catholic Church, or its major players (Jesus, Mary, the Pope). I'm sort of annoyed that they think this sort of “blasphemous” discourse shouldn't take place, or shouldn't be broadcast or displayed; but whatever, they have a right to say their piece and convey their outrage. Fine. There's something about an anti-abortion rally---fine.

Then I get to two very interesting items: one, from last January, was a letter to Bush and Rumsfeld in support of not granting the Al Qaeda detainees POW status. Their basis is that these people are not honorable, therefore don't deserve any protections. WHAT?? I'm not even going to go into this, it was hashed over enough back in January, but suffice it to say that in addition to being wrong this struck me as really out of place for a Catholic organisation.

The second eyebrow-raiser was last December, when this group wrote a letter to Bush praising his decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty. Come on guys, what are we, Protestant fundamentalists? Last I checked, Catholics weren't hell-bent on bringing about Armageddon.

But now for the flyer that started all this. Apparently it's one of their older campaigns, from 2000. The title of the flyer is “Disney's next victims?” with a picture of two cute little kids. What, are we supposed to think that all those evil gay people are going to convert them or something? In what sense exactly are they supposed to be Disney's “victims”? Ah, but further down we see a quote from Matthew 18:6:

But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.
This is an odd choice of translation, talking about someone who would “scandalize” the children, whereas (go click on that link above) all the versions I can find refer to either offending the little ones or causing them to sin. (The New American Bible, which I'm given to understand is the Catholic standard, uses the latter interpretation.) Any one of them, though, is problematic, as kids aren't scandalised or offended by depictions of gay people on TV and in movies, unless their parents teach them to be, and such depictions aren't very likely to lead the little ones to sin---but it might lead them to be a little more tolerant of others, or a little less self-loathing if they turn out to be gay themselves.

But that's just the cover. Inside, there are some examples of what's so bad about Disney (preceded by the sentence “Did you know that each time we buy from Disney, we help destroy the family?”---Yeah, whatever.) The problem cases seem to be the TV show Ellen, Gay Day at Disney World, the book Growing Up Gay, and the movies Priest and Dogma. One of these things is not like the other... the objection to the movie Dogma is that it's blasphemous, which, well, it is. The others, though, all evidently are bad because they are accepting of homosexuality. (My favourite comment is about Gay Day, which “turns Disney premises into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrha[sic].”. I have to giggle at that---what exactly do they think those gay people are doing at Disney World??)

So many things about this irritate me, but I think most of it boils down to the inherent assumption made in the flyer, which is that merely being homosexual is bad, or at least that being a practicing homosexual is vastly worse than being a practicing heterosexual---or else why aren't these people boycotting, y'know, all the entertainment companies that depict unmarried relationships between straight people? I.e., all of them? According to actual Catholic doctrine, being homosexual is not a sin, and having gay sex (out of wedlock, which is at least for now tautological) is no different than having straight sex out of wedlock. But you never see TFP or any of these other morality groups getting their panties in a bunch over all the unmarried relationships all over the popular media.

Actually, there's another thing that irritates me about this, which is the assertion that homosexuality is somehow inimical to “the family”. But there's nothing about the fact that two people are of the same gender that will make them automatically worse at forming a family than any other two people. And one thing that's particularly bad for “the family” is when one member thereof discovers his or her homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexuality) and lives in fear of the disapproval of the rest of “the family”, or gets forcibly ejected from “the family” for being the way they are. My thoughts return to the two cute little kids on the cover, and wonder: if one of them turns out to be gay, aren't they a bit more likely to become TFP's next victims?

"I'm sure we could manage a reasonable middle ground, what with that "intelligence" and "flexibility" stuff going for us as a species." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 1:57pm | Comments (0)

Man, here I am at

Man, here I am at nearly 4 in the morning. Getting some work done on my slides, but it's like I'm dragging the work out of myself kicking and screaming. I've never been so easily distracted (which is saying something, I guess), and it's only by main force of will that I'm getting anything done at all. I suppose I could rely on my usual deadline stimulant (i.e. there is a deadline, which acts as a stimulant) later this week, but I really need to get the slides done and at least one practice talk by, say, Tuesday, so I can run the outline and any questions past my committee. I wonder if this is saying something about me subconsciously fearing the completion of the proposal phase and being ABD? I dunno, but my rational mind sure as hell just wants to get it over and done with.

So look at me now, I'm futzing with my blog. Sheesh. Well, I'll at least give you all this link to look at, which is a both funny and cute result of the unfortunate flooding currently plaguing Central Europe.

I also have a lot to say about a pamphlet they were distributing after church today about how we should all boycott Disney because they're oh so pro-gay; I knew that the Southern Baptists had organised such a thing a while back, but this pamphlet seemed to actually be printed by a Catholic group, which threw me. I thought Catholics were generally a bit more progressive than all that... anyway, more on that later. Right now I'm going to kick-and-scream a few more slides out.

(PS: I've just added another recommended link on the left: "True Porn Clerk Stories". Read it! It's work safe, and boy howdy is it funny.)

"I just assume that good managers secretly schedule these kind of meetings out of the knowledge that effective workers need catnaps from time to time and this is the unspoken time to take those." --Zach Miller

Posted by blahedo at 3:54am | Comments (0)

17 Aug 2002

New crafts project

Ok, new crafts project: a penrose quilt. In my copious free time, of course.

"Mr. Bush is very much from the business wing of the Republican Party while Mr. Ashcroft is more typical of social-issue Republicans who sit in the front pew of the church on Sunday." --Neil A. Lewis, NYT

Posted by blahedo at 3:55pm | Comments (0)

16 Aug 2002

Well, the week's over. It

Well, the week's over. It is now less than one full week until my thesis proposal. Daunting, it is. Won't have much of a weekend off, as I intend to be working tonight and tomorrow, although I am looking forward to Pat's barbecue on Sunday. I think I'll make Hawaiian Salad (aka "green stuff": the pistachio pudding mix turns the cool whip a startling shade of green, but it tastes great!).

People are starting to come back to Providence for the schoolyear, and you can tell. The street is a little less uncrowded, and there's just this feeling of people being back. The best, though, are the incoming freshmen---and their parents. You can tell them every time, since the freshmen have this characteristic mix of "excited to be in a new place", "too cool to look so excited", and "oh my God do my parents have to be so embarrassing?". Meanwhile, the parents are, if anything, even more excited, and gawking at everything. Younger siblings are around too, usually rolling their eyes a lot.

You really have to look out when crossing the street, too, because the out-of-state drivers aren't nearly as pedestrian-friendly. Not to mention that they haven't learned where all the one-way streets are yet, and since they aren't marked I can expect to see at least two or three wrong-way drivers every day for the next two weeks.

Still, it's exciting. I was glad to have the people gone for a few months, and now I'm ready for them to come back. I love the ivory tower.

"This morning I received a test email I sent from myself, to myself, on the IMSA system shortly after the system changeover. It's passport was completely full of stamps, its tie had some sort of gravy stains on it. There appeared to be blood (maybe mud) on its suitcase. It had a black eye and was roaring drunk. It's 2.5 weeks late, but I think it had a pretty good time." --Dave Singleton

Posted by blahedo at 5:42pm | Comments (0)

My main reader checked in

My main reader checked in with me today. Hi Mom! :) At some point other people may read this (from =shiggy, for instance, or perhaps from the link on Mike Kimmitt's blog), but I at least know that this isn't a wasted effort, because Mom will be delighted at hearing this much about my life. I never write email this often.

“Sigh. Once again, [you're] conflating ‘rich and powerful’ with ‘white male’. One is a very very small sub set of the other.” --Sam Walker

Posted by blahedo at 2:47am | Comments (0)

14 Aug 2002

I just had the weirdest

I just had the weirdest thing happen. As I was walking down Thayer Street to get my lunch (yes I'm eating lunch at 3:30, something wrong?), I was stopped by a nice lady who invited me to an open call at some modelling agency. She gave me her card and told me when and where to show up and stuff.

Now, I'm sure it would turn out that she just needed to meet a quota, or needed some random 5'9" guy to fill out a lineup, but it still made my day. I don't think I'll go, but who knows? I might get bored.

"It's all horribly reminiscent of a previous president who had record poll ratings and fought a successful foreign war but couldn't win a second term because he made a mess of the economy. George Bush, prepare to meet your father." --Justin Webb, BBC

Posted by blahedo at 3:46pm | Comments (0)

Looks like Matt's parents cleared

Looks like Matt's parents cleared out after all. No Boggle with them, I guess... wonder what made them change their minds?

I'm definitely going into laptop withdrawal. It drives me crazy when I'm home and can't just hop on the net---not that I use it all the time, but I usually don't bother to write down phone numbers and such these days, since I could always just check them online. Fortunately, my housemate Hilary has a computer on the net that I can use, but it's just not the same. Oh well.

This blog stuff is a great way to kill time while waiting for a program run to finish, I have to say.

"If Bill Gates had a dime for every time a Windows box crashed...."

Posted by blahedo at 3:15pm | Comments (0)

Slides and revisions

As I get going on the slides for my thesis proposal, I keep finding places in the writeup that I want to change, or flesh out. Will it never end? (Answer: it will, once I pass my thesis proposal. At least, this phase of it will. Then, any editing I still feel is necessary will become part of the thesis itself!)

Still coughing. I'm sick of it. :P

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." --John F. Kennedy

Posted by blahedo at 1:51am | Comments (0)

13 Aug 2002

Computerless for the nonce

Well, I dropped off my computer today. The people in the Apple service center at the Brown bookstore seemed to concur with the guy at the Apple store at Woodfield, i.e. "dude, this is messed up, we're sending it to Texas." They estimate that it'll be back in 7-15 business days. Hopefully it'll be back in time for my thesis proposal, which may or may not be on the 23rd. If nothing else, this will make it easier for me to resist opening Civ III before I get my proposal done.

"Why would I want to be a middle-of-the-road politician? Ain't nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadilloes." --Jim Hightower, Texas Ag Commisioner

Posted by blahedo at 1:09pm | Comments (0)

12 Aug 2002

So I was getting ready

So I was getting ready for bed last night, and I identified my vague malaise as that itchy-under-skin feeling that I associate with having a fever. I take my temp, and sure enough, 99.2. Went to bed around 2, set my alarm for 10. Boy did I feel awful when I got up; took it again and it was 99.4. :P So I took two tylenol, skipped church, and went back to bed. Got up at 3 feeling, if not great, at least not feverish. My cough has turned into a phlegmy mess, which is at least vastly preferable to the hacky business that it had been. Also, my nose has taken to running, which is less preferable.

Anyway, I've (re)met my new housemate Matt and his mom and dad---they arrived Friday at 4, moved him in, and are now seeing Providence and environs. He has a queen-size bed, so his parents are sleeping in his room while he sleeps in the guest bedroom, which is kind of funny. Even better, he's leaving on Wednesday for a trip to Switzerland, but they're staying another couple of days (after oking it with us, of course). I think it's a stitch.

I was ok with him moving in based on having met him recruiting weekend, but this may turn out better than I thought. I discovered today he's a board gamer ("Is this a board game??" "Yes, well, more like Axis and Allies than like Monopoly." "EXCELLENT. I have Civilisation over there and Diplomacy upstairs." "Neat, I've always had a hard time finding players, but I'm sensing that won't be such a problem here.") Also, his family seems to get along unusually well, inasmuch as they just drove 3200 miles together---six days---and don't seem to noticeably ready to kill one another. Crazy. They're pretty cool, and I intend to rope them into a game of Boggle or Scrabble before they leave.

I've checked around, and the best fare from Chicago to Honolulu is $630, from American, which has the added benefit of being non-stop and not even part of a special deal. United doesn't seem to fly a non-stop on that route, so asking Maura for buddy passes would be not very useful, since I'd use up 4, have no guaranteed flight time, and still be paying $500 for the round trip (at 5000 mi each way, a nickel per mile, which are both just ballpark guesses but seem reasonable).

"Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again." --Marin County newspaper's TV listing for The Wizard of Oz

Posted by blahedo at 12:51pm | Comments (0)

Hi folks. Everyone else seems

Hi folks. Everyone else seems to be getting a blog these days... I tried to put it off for a long time, but then I caught myself typing out an email to my mom (Hi Mom!) that read just like a blog entry. And hey, it's three in the morning, what better time to start a blog? (In my shorter-haired days, 3am was the usual time for giving myself haircuts. Ah, progress.)

Said email to Mom will be the next, and first contentful, post to the blog. After that I suppose I'll futz around with the blog layout, because the default colours are simply frightful.

Oh, I suppose I should say something about the title of the blog. Well, my field of research is computational linguistics, with side research in theoretical linguistics; I also have been hanging with the programming languages group a lot, and I've been known to dip into constructed languages. In short, most of the interesting things I do revolve somehow around language, whether human or computer, natural or artificial. The other main thing I do is dance with the Brown Ballroom Dance Team. "Linguistics and Dancing" seemed a little too dry, so I threw in a third thing, which relates to the fact that I have several hundred books in my library, and am constantly reading more and adding them in. The vast majority of the fiction is sci-fi, fantasy, or alternate history, but don't hold that against me. :)

Posted by blahedo at 3:59am | Comments (0)