Well, I just sent off the last of the applications. Now I'm off to go game for two days straight down in Urbana. Woo hoo!
"If the only punishment we can mete out is the direct abuse of innocent shareholders and the indirect approbation of the people who made the decisions . . . I'm not feeling the deterrent. The Death Penalty for corporations just doesn't have the sting of its human counterpart." --Michael Kimmitt
Well, my family's tradition is to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, so we're done with that. My headliner item is a nifty digicam. I feel obliged to post the first picture ever taken with it---that's my room at home, cluttered as usual but seen in crystal clarity. This thing is great; it just figures out the correct settings to take a good photo. Let's see how it does at ballroom meets, though....
Other things I got include some DVDs, a really loud rainbow-coloured umbrella, a couple of six-suited decks of playing cards (the usual four plus crowns and anchors---the crowns are red and feature royals that wear glasses and carry sceptres, while the anchors are black and have royals that wear eyepatches), a scrabble page-a-day calendar, some clothes, and (god help me) Starcraft. I played a couple rounds of it at Thanksgiving, courtesy my cousin Steve, and decided that it was A) really cool and B) much too addictive to actually get. I need to, you know, finish my thesis. Anyway, I must've dropped mention of it, because my parents bought it for me. It's sitting in its box. Staring at me. Calling to me.
Excuse me, I've gotta go. See you in a few weeks.
"And then there's bash. I mean, BASH? It's like a neanderthal playing in a steel drum band. And sed and awk sound like a cartoon Roman senator cussing. So you've got this cussing Roman senator with a massive forehead playing in a steel drum band, or you've got the ageless wisdom of the clams. Isn't it obvious?" --Jered Wierzbicki
I saw The Two Towers at the midnight show Tuesday night, in costume. It was awesome! And a bunch of people seemed vaguely impressed at my costume. I really should've asked that one girl where she got her elf ears---they were very realistic.
In other news, Knox just asked me for an interview. Go me!
'...Also, I think the plural of "ex" is "ices."' --Mike Peil
Howard Dean is the governor of Vermont, and he is running for president in 2004. Please go look at his site. If you're in a hurry, just read the "on the issues" part.
On the Mother of God: "C'mon, it's a well-established fact that Mary was an alto." --Pat Duggan
I went dancing tonight, and I had the weirdest conversation. This really nice little old lady came over and complimented the Brown kids on their dancing; we thanked her. Various of us were making plans on getting to TGI Fridays afterwards, and the lady overheard and said some kids-these-days comment along the lines of "huh, I need to go to church in the morning". (Reading this over now, that makes it sound like she was trying to invite herself along, but it wasn't at all like that, just a vague comment on our ability/desire to stay up late.) I said, "yeah, me too; I just get less sleep on Saturdays." She was all surprised, "oh, you go to church?" I said that I sing in the choir. She said that was so nice, and---get this---"that's better than doing drugs. You don't do drugs, do you? No, you shouldn't do drugs."
Let's see, first of all, she set up a dichotomy between going to the church and doing drugs; then by implication---since she was surprised any of us would go to church---she thought that we (all college students?) do drugs. And they're bad. (mmkay?) I'm trying very hard to figure out what all was going on in her head just then, because I feel like it would give me some excellent insights into how most Americans (i.e. those not in the ivory tower) think about drugs and the drug war. But really, I just find the whole thing baffling.
"I'm not sure whether this is sarcasm, irony, meta-irony, post-postmodern quasi-meta-ironicism, or mere stupidity." --Pete McFerrin
I just won a game of CivIII as the Aztecs, regent level. Space race victory. Woo hoo!
"One can always burn a cross in the sanctity of one's bedroom." --SC Justice Antonin Scalia
I just had a phone interview with the people at Knox! I think it went well. I also think it was their first phone interview, which I take to be a good sign. :)
Now I really need to sit down and finish my app for Carleton. I still haven't decided which one is my first choice. This is going to be such a difficult decision if they both want to hire me (which, to be sure, would be preferable to neither one wanting to hire me, of course ;). And God only knows if the ranking will change again when I start driving/flying out for interviews.
"I hang my head and do that little twisty thing with my foot." --Joe Shidle
Eugene still hasn't sent my recommendations. "But it's almost done being written," he says. I think I managed to light a fire, though, because I told him that one of the 'we received your application' letters said "we request that you confirm with your references that they have already sent us their letters of recommendation". So, he's working on it now.
"Gott in Himmel! Die Linuxboxen sind befuckt!" --Joe Shidle
Today was the Tufts dance competition. It was very well run, and our team got the usual smattering of awards.
The first section was standard, which I wasn't dancing for various reasons, so I planned to just go to church there in Medford---the church right next to campus had an 8:30am Mass, according to the MassTimes website and the Archdiocese of Boston.
It was, without question, the weirdest Mass I've ever been to.
It started when we got there. (A girl from the team---also a member of the Brown Catholic Choir with me---went with.) We arrived at almost exactly 8:30 to... a completely empty church. A middle-aged woman bustled out a moment later to let us know Mass was at 9... Ok, we'll stay. By the way, the website says 8:30---oh, that takes effect in January.
So Becky and I went in and chatted quietly about the architecture of the church, Latin Masses, a production of Joseph that she'd been in, and random other stuff. Finally people started arriving. We were entertained by the appearance of a small choir of kids, mostly girls, aged perhaps 7--10, wearing red choir robes. The bustling woman accompanied them on the piano to a few nice little songs, and then the Mass was to start. One of the girls (beaming with pride) read the "Welcome to..." announcement, along with the number of the opening song. All mostly normal so far. But then: we sang verse 1 and the refrain, but then the choir cut out and the piano played while the priest finished walking to the altar, at which point it cut out abruptly in the middle of a verse. Odd.
The priest started speaking, and for a second I thought he was partially deaf and/or had a speech impediment. I then realised that it was just a strong accent that even by the end of the Mass I was unable to place, but my current theory is that it was Polish filtered by the fact that the English he'd learned had been North Boston, a fairly thick New England dialect. Anyway, it was difficult to understand more than one or two words in four of what he was saying. Which would be bad enough, except that he varied the routine opening prayers a bit, confusing me. Also, he must've repeated that this was the second Sunday of Advent, which has four Sundays (holding up two and then four fingers to make that clear), at least three or four times.
Then it was time for the first reading. One of the little girls in the choir walked up with her sheet of paper and started reading from it---but the mike on the lectern was angled for an adult, so we didn't hear a word until the priest walked over and re-angled it; but he didn't tell her to start over or anything. In fact, I'm pretty sure she didn't say the "A reading from the book of ___" at the beginning, and I'm certain she didn't say "The word of the Lord" at the end, she just walked off the lectern to the choir.
The responsorial psalm was not introduced, and I'm betting that nobody in that church knew what it was. The girls sang it once, unclearly, and we (sort of) repeated it, except that we didn't know the words and the tune was unfamiliar. Then another girl who had walked up to the lectern and read the verses (this at least has some precedent), each one followed by a still-incomprehensible rendition of the antiphon by the girls in the choir.
And then---the piano starts playing the Alleluia! No second reading or anything! To make things even weirder, about halfway through it, the priest leaves into the sacristy, and hadn't returned when the music stopped. He emerged after a moment holding the missallette we all had in the pews, which he read as he crossed the stage (perfunctorily bowing at the altar), then put down when he got to the lectern and read from a book that was already there. The gospel proceeded apace with the usual trappings, and then the homily, which was long and rambling---this at least was a touch of familiarity in this bizarre set of novel experiences.
We professed the faith normally, and then the priest read a long paragraph of petitions, none of which were followed by the customary "Let us pray to the Lord/Lord hear our prayer" or anything else. The offertory happened fast, before the choir started singing, but the collection proceeded during it; and when the song finished, the piano just cut off on the last note, no fermata or anything, which again sounded quite strange. The priest started in with the Eucharistic Prayer, which I'm not convinced he said right, and things proceeded roughly normally. The mass parts were unfamiliar but not particularly unusual (aside from the piano cutting out abrubtly at the end); these at least seemed familiar to the congregation, who was singing along.
At one point in the Eucharistic Prayer, I thought, "hm, this is a kneeling part now...?" This is a real question, because when I'm in the choir---as most weekends---most of us just stay standing rather than kneel on the carpet with our face in the side of the piano. Anyway, just as I thought this, the young woman immediately in front of us knelt down, and nobody else. More oddness.
Communion was a real treat. This church was laid out like most older, smaller churches: two columns of pews with aisles on the ends and the nave up the middle, with the altar and stuff in front. Typically, in situations where people are not blocked from walking the length of the pew, the way Communion works is everyone files out of the pew towards the center, up the nave, receives the host, and then walks around back down the aisle at the outside, and then walks along the pew until they're back at their seat. Well. At this church, everyone goes out the nearest end-of-pew, whether aisle (outside) or nave (centre), and then goes to the front to receive the host, then fights their way back to their pew against the line going the other way. Bizarre.
And all through the Mass, there was a kid near me squeaking his shoes on the floor VERY LOUDLY. As in, I saw the priest glance in his direction a couple times. But the parents weren't moving to do anything. I couldn't figure out which kid it was until the very end, at which point I actually tapped the kid on the shoulder and said, "Could you please not do that?" This he was definitely not expecting---probably embarrassed the hell out of him---and he did stop. I only hope the Dad is able to get a lot of mileage out of it ("You'd better stop, or someone besides me is going to embarrass you by asking!")
I'm trying to think if there's anything I'm forgetting. It was just unbelievable.
"Why does my pocket feel so warm all of a sudden? Huh... my wallet seems to smoldering... let's see what's going on... Wow. My credit card just burned its way through and seems to be inching towards the keyboard. This could be a problem." --Sam Walker
Well, I just cut my hair. A lot. Specifically, my hair is now 10-1/4" shorter than it was, which was a bit longer than what would be called bra-length on a woman; it is now exactly shoulder length, just long enough to hold a ponytail. (The bit that was cut off will be donated to Locks of Love, a charity for kids with a disease that makes them bald. That's also why I know how much I cut, and is part of why I waited so long to cut my hair---the minimum length for donated hair is 10".) I don't know why it always seems to work out this way, but it always ends up being about 3 in the morning when I cut my hair. It's been about two and a half years since last I did so, but I have been cutting it myself for almost a decade---my last professional haircut was sometime in 1993.
Anyway, it feels really odd. I suppose I'll get used to it in a few days. There will be no pictures forthcoming, because I'm not telling anyone about it---I'll let them be surprised. Except for my faithful readers here (all, like, two of them), but I couldn't not post about it, really. I can't wait to see people's reactions. Especially the ballroom team, who saw me as recently as 8 this evening, at practice, and will see me again in about two hours, when we leave for a competition (of course, they won't see my hair for another hour after that, since it'll be under a hat and scarf until we get there). Sane people would've gone home, got their stuff ready, and went to bed to get a full night's sleep. Me, I cut my hair. :)
"With English spelling, like Perl, there is often more than one way to do it. But with French, as I understand it, if you misspell something (or, god forbid, mispronounce it) they throw cheese at you then surrender preemptively." --Ponty
Whew. I just played CivIII for eight hours straight. Now I'm going to bed.
"Why am I playing this awful music when I have Frank Sinatra?" --Russell Monk
It turns out that the problem with CivIII on my computer had nothing at all to do with being a TiBook and everything to do with my installing it on a UFS-formatted drive. When I transferred it to an HFS+ drive, it worked just fine under either System 9 or X. Except that it wouldn't load save files from the main screen; but it would load save files from within a running game, so I can start a nonce game whenever I want to load up another one. I called in both fixes to the tech support line---they seemed surprised that I would bother calling when I didn't actually need assistance, but they thanked me. :)
"And her face is like a potato only in that it's not anything like a potato." --Kevin Price
Last night, Shriram walked into my office to tell me that he'd finished writing my recs and would send them off today. "!", I thought, since the first of my applications had been due the 22nd, two were openended, and another three or so were supposed to arrive by the first. But what can I say? It's not like at this point he could get them in any faster. I did think, however, to go confirm that Eugene had sent his---and he hadn't (though it was "very high on his list", which I assume means "I forgot that some of the deadlines were early, but I'll do it tomorrow morning"). Putting me in the position of sending a letter to the schools with passed deadlines and telling them why my application isn't complete. It's not like I didn't give them warning: I first asked all four recommenders at the end of October; then I gave them the list of addresses on 8 November; then I reminded them on the 15th. Fortunately, Mark sent his out around then and Polly a few days later, so at least it won't look like I didn't ask the profs until too late. (Actually, it mostly just looks like computer scientists are procrastinators, which is not the most untrue statement in the world, although I'd like to think that I'd get something as important as a rec out on time....)
In other news, some jackass spammed an obscene email about me to a list of 400 or so people in the CS department, via an open relay in China. Irritating.
Oh, and I'm finally no longer on the Brown homepage, though I was as recently as last night. Oh well, eight days is a pretty good run. :)
"When the astronauts take a leak while on a mission and expel the result into space, it boils violently. The vapor then passes immediately into the solid state (a process known as desublimation), and you end up with a cloud of very fine crystals of frozen tinkle. It is by such humble demonstrations that great scientific truths are conveyed." --Cecil Adams
And in the continuing coffee table book saga: it's even better than I thought, Kathleen and I have a two-page spread to ourselves. Pages 110--11, if you happen to lay your hands on a copy. I wonder if I can get them to give me one free?
Oh, and that pic is still on the Brown homepage. I guess they stay up for a whole week!
"I used to think of New York as flyover between Chicago and Paris, but now I see that it's a lovely city in its own right." --Michael Kimmitt