30 Dec 2003

Six day party

Friday night: arrive, eat potluck dinner, sit around and talk until 2 in the morning.

Saturday: Get up around 10:30, head over to Loomis with Chris and Brian to play D&D online, missing the first part of the moviefest. Head back around 2:30am to catch Pirates of the Caribbean, Say Anything, and The Score. All good; Pirates surprisingly so! Go to bed for nap about 9am Sunday.

Sunday: Get up about 11:30, shower, and drive over to St Pat's for Mass. Nice little church---seems to take all the stuff I liked about Manning and put them into a more churchy sort of church. Stop at Schnuck's on the way back to pick up soda and snacks. Arrive back at the house about 1:30 and bum around until the gaming begins. Play assorted games, including Illuminati which I've been looking to learn for years now, and Dune which lasts a surprising nine and a half hours; go to bed about 7:30am.

Monday: Roll out of bed in the early afternoon, start to check email and instead get dragged into a game of Puerto Rico, which is totally the coolest and best executed game I've seen in a long time. I take a shower and then launch into a game of Carcassonne with all expansions. After that the drinking started, and we played a bunch of rounds of Ping Pong (where I did way better than I remember doing before), a game of The Game of REAL Life, a Life parody that is really funny with about twelve people playing teams. :) Then, another game of Illuminati and I retire to Jonathan's couch where I watch a movie called Jesus' Son (nothing to do with Jesus, really bizarre; I *think* I liked it) and then go to sleep.

Tuesday: This morning I woke up around one to a mostly empty house---most people had gone on a Perkins run. And now everybody's up and about and cleaning and rearranging the house for the music party tonight.

It's really a great party. It's all-ages: there've been a sixteen-year-old and a nine-year-old here for a lot of it, and at least one of the attendees is over forty. And it just keeps going! It'll be sad when it ends. :(

"Congratulations! No penis." --Scott Harris

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26 Dec 2003

Christmas redux

Overall good. People started arriving on Christmas Eve around 6:30, we had hackepeter and shrimp and then a great sweets table. Continuing his pattern of beating me to the punch and doing my research for me, Dad got me a nice receiver and speaker set, which resolves my TV issues and gives me a good system for watching movies (now I need to start watching more movies). Kathy got a Gamecube, which of course made me jealous; in a grand Christmas Eve tradition the two of us stayed up late in the night playing with the new game console. (I stayed up later than her---playing the original Legend of Zelda. Awesome.)

Christmas was Christmas: we went to Mass, came home and got ready for dinner (well, I took a nap), which we ate around 4:30. After everyone else left, Lee and Kelly brought out Carcassonne, which is what I'd given them, and we played that until 3 in the morning. Great game.

And now I'm packing up my stuff to head down to Urbana for the six-day NYEpalooza bash. Woo!

"Giving a reception for your intimates to meet your baby is a beautiful idea, provided that you do not attempt to make it a pseudo-christening. Hopelessly irreligious people should have the courage of their lack of convictions." --Miss Manners

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24 Dec 2003

Holiday madness

For some, the holiday season is just getting started. I've already been to four holiday events! Friday I got tapas and drinks with a few IMSA folks, Saturday was a formal dinner party with some college friends, Sunday was the big get-together for my dad's side of the family, and Monday we went over to see my cousins on my mom's side. Somewhere in there I managed to get a bunch of shopping done (largely in a big two-hour blitz on Saturday). Right now I've got a few moments of downtime as we prepare for Christmas Eve and then Christmas, both of which we're hosting. Boxing Day I head down to Urbana for the week-long party there. And then I need to head back to Galesburg and make a mad dash to finish as much course prep as I can before the term starts on the 5th.

"There have been parents who have considered wealth when choosing godparents in the hope that these tasks would be performed lavishly. Such ulterior motives need concern you only to the extent of resolving to work extra hard at teaching spirituality to a child from a morally disadvantaged home." --Miss Manners

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19 Dec 2003

Reviews are in

I just picked up my course reviews, and they were awesome. With ten respondents, all of whom answered every question, I did better than the faculty average in almost every category. One person seemed to not like me for whatever reason (to the point of disagreeing with the objectively true statement "Prof was available during office hours"), and if you discount his responses, I do even better. :) Now I can't wait to get the typed-up long-answer responses!

"A smooth plain of glass would make a nice Holy Land IMO. Give people something to look at, and contemplate what happens when so many people are mean, dumb idiots about one particular place." --Eva Schillace
"You know what, I really thought people would stop saying things like this after 9/11. But I guess now I know how long it takes to forget the existence of innocent bystanders---three days short of six months. I should write that down." --Casey Westerman

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18 Dec 2003

TV

I sit here and knit and watch TV. It's quite a routine, and quite far from where I was just four months ago, when I watched exactly one hour of TV a week (West Wing). I found myself flipping channels earlier; the Game Show Network has a nifty one called "Lingo", which is essentially Word Mastermind with a tiny admixture of Bingo for a random element. Today one of the teams was a guy who knits and a girl who plays croquet. In commenting on this, the host (is that Chuck Woolery?) commented that his son knits too. I'm telling you, it's the new thing.

Props to fellow CS prof Chris Andrews, whose pickup truck came to my ResQ on picking up my new coffeetable (and who then helped lug it up to my apartment). It came in a box---I asked at least three or four times whether it was fully assembled, with answers ranging from "yes" to "almost", but it totally wasn't. In fact, the pieces didn't even fit together all that well, and from a standpoint of assembly it was incredibly poorly designed: the instructions say to put it together upside down, but the shelf only has real supports when it's right-side-up. And you can't just assemble the top to the legs and then flip it over, because once the legs are screwed in the shelf won't fit right. It required a hammer to get the shelf to fit right.

Done now, though. Really cool. I have pictures, which I may post at some point. For now, back to wondering how my gauge changed so much between sock #1 and sock #2, and how I can compensate.

"Making sure that kids have health insurance is the right thing. Pissing away time in a quixotic quest for ideological purity is not." --Michael Kimmitt

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Enough with the snow already

I'm a huge fan of snow, and I like a lot of snow, but it's a little freaky that the snowstorms keep coming a day after I arrive someplace.

"You know how it goes: stood up, cussed her something fierce, received applause from entire airplane, cut to reality, oops, it was all my passive-agressive imagination, put headphones back on." --Matt Stanislawski

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17 Dec 2003

Lord of the Rings

Lee and I got there at about ten to nine; we picked up our tickets and already eight screens had sold out (of a total of eleven---I don't know if the rest eventually sold out or not). We were allowed to go straight to the theatre, and we were not the first ones there. Two guys were playing cards about halfway up. (A lot more people had already gone in to the first theatre that sold out.) Anyway, we got front row railing seats, and reserved two for Mom and Dad.

The movie is awesome, of course. Peter Jackson did some great interpretation, modifying very little and that for good reason (usually), adding one or two scenes in a way that still felt very true to the thing. Two scenes stuck out: one line where Legolas says "A diversion!" for pretty much just the sake of saying it (my mom caught that one too), and the other where everyone is just standing around laughing, fakely. A few things were missing, but I suspect they'll be added in for the extended version next year, except for the scouring of the Shire, which wouldn't fit at this point (sorry!). Awesome awesome awesome. The interpretation of Minas Tirith was perfect. The scene with Smeagol will let them actually nominate the guy that plays Gollum for an Oscar this year. The whole show will probably get an Oscar, finally, as a sort of aggregate measure. Jury's still out on whether it was the best of the three; my parents voted for the middle one and I'm inclined to agree. How odd, that the middle movie of a trilogy might be best. But this third one was great too.

They really needed to stagger the starts, though. There were probably upwards of 5000 people there, and the parking lot was packed, with all the shows getting out at the same time... took us about forty minutes to actually get out of there.

"Certain death; small chance of success; what are we waiting for?" --Gimli, _Return of the King_

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16 Dec 2003

Weekend in Boston

Friday morning I got up and dressed and walked down to the train station, catching the Boston-bound commuter train with about a minute to spare. Matt gave me directions from Porter Square and met me on the route. After dropping off my stuff in his room, we went back out to meet his friends Anthony and Anne, and the four of us went to the North End to eat at this fantastic little restaurant called Pagliuca's; then we picked up dessert to go from Mike's Pastries (which we ended up not eating until Saturday night, but the carrot cake was excellent). We hung out and talked that evening and then got dinner at the delightfully-named Thirsty Scholar, a pub on Beacon Street more or less straight east of Harvard Square. I had fish and chips and---based on the location and the fact that I'd just ordered fish and chips---a pint of Bass.

Saturday we initially planned that I would head out and wander around seeing museums or something while Matt got some work done, but then Molly and Michelle from Brown called, and we met them at Harvard Square and Matt gave them (and me) a tour of the Harvard campus as well as that of the nearby Episcopalian seminary and Weston Jesuit thingy. We went to Candlemas at St Paul's (the nearby parish and official Harvard Catholic church), where we met up with Emi Iwatani and Matt's flatmate Chris. Afterwards, we went to Pho' Pasteur, a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square that I'd been to once before. We adjourned to Emi's apartment, where we sat and talked until like 3 in the morning. I met Kristina Arvanitis, who was opinions editor on the BDH a couple years ago and on UCS, and is a really funny and enjoyable person to talk to.

Sunday was a bit more sedate. I woke up when Matt told me about Saddam's discovery (about which more later). Again with the plan for me to go out while he worked, but we got pizza for "lunch" around three in the afternoon, by which time the snow had started and I didn't feel like wandering around. Eventually we both went to the Div School library, which is open to the public, and I read a book while he worked. (I also kept him awake as he started to nod off. ;) Went back to the apartment, made soup, and talked for the rest of the evening.

Monday morning I got up well before dawn, made my way to Providence, had breakfast with Shriram and Kathi, where I had a great conversation about pedagogical technique, research, and liberal arts schools. And then I caught a bus to the plane, which got delayed due to O'Hare being fogbound, so I never made it to Galesburg, and I stayed in Palatine---making it easier to see the midnight premiere of Return of the King tonight. :)

"Do you think we wear bras because you think they're cute? Because that's really not why we wear them." --Angela Feraco

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11 Dec 2003

Day cancelled

Yesterday I got up and had breakfast with Becky, went to my research group meeting, had lunch with Sharon, sorted a semester's worth of unforwarded mail, got coffee with Hilary, and then hung out all evening with Theresa, where I showed off my knitting and continued on my current project.

Today was cancelled.

I got back to campus around 11 and came back to 166, and everyone was up and nobody wanted to do anything. The transition from best thing about Providence winters to worst thing about Providence winters was complete---it was cold and raining all day. So we sat in the kitchen and talked, pretty much all day. Rob pulled out his poker chips and we played Texas Hold'Em for a while; I was doing best for a while until Caroline, Coree, and Rob all went all in, Caroline won it, and neither of us felt like duking it out to the finish. Then we sat around some more, and eventually got a late dinner at Kartabar for Claudia's birthday, followed by an incredibly rich chocolate mousse back here and more sitting around and talking. Perfect, really.

And tomorrow I'm going up to Boston for the weekend. No clue what I'll do there, but Matt will at least provide me a floor to sleep on, so it's all good.

"It's not that I didn't like her, it's just that I found her really annoying." --Rob Hunter

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9 Dec 2003

Another day

Still not entirely sure if I'm sick. I'm sort of skating the edge. I woke up with a froggy throat but drinking lots of water made that go away; I've been drinking so much water and fruit juice that I've been drinking less caffeine, so now I've also got a withdrawal headache. Also, I feel a general malaise. I'm trying to get lots of sleep and take naps, though, because I really really don't need to get sick this week.

Today I went in and talked to Eugene about life as a professor and got a little caught up on what he's been working on (though I'll get more of that tomorrow at the BLLIP meeting). I wandered around the dept and said hi to a lot of people, and then got lunch with Greg Cooper at Geoff's. Went back to the dept and checked email and such, then headed back to 166 where I took an hour-and-a-half nap. I got up not particularly refreshed but at least more rested, and went to ballroom dance class in the awesome new dance studio at T.F.Green Hall. And then got dinner with Greg and Amy. Now I'm exhausted and will go to bed shortly.

"If you sealed your status as a social outcast every time you had sex, you'd be pretty angry, too." --Jonathan Prykop

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8 Dec 2003

Food

Got up around 10 and got a ride in to Brown, arriving about 10:45. I wanted to go to Mass at noon and didn't envision myself extricating myself from the department that quickly, so I just grabbed breakfast at Au Bon Pain for a while, then headed over to Faunce and killed time by reading Friday's BDH.

After Mass, I ended up going to Taste of India with Fr Bodah and Theresa, where we chatted for about an hour and a half. Back at school, I went to Health Services and got my records transferred, and then headed back to 166 Cushing, where I chilled with Sam and Claudia for a little while before heading to the Department Tea at 5, where I managed to walk in in the middle of a story being told about me. So I was standing in there talking about my first term teaching and Eugene walks by (on his way out, with his coat on); I noticed him go, and Sharon and a couple other people laughed that he'd sort of obliviously walked past, and about ten seconds later he popped back into the doorway as it clicked that however normal my voice was around the department, it'd been a while since it had been there... I promised to stop by tomorrow to talk to him. After tea, I checked my email and deleted over 4000 pieces of spam that had accumulated in my CS account in the last month, then got dinner at Asian Paradise with Tomer and Will (a first-year grad student).

After dinner I met a bunch of people at Meeting Street and then headed back to 166 where we popped popcorn and watched the finale of Average Joe (no lie). I remain bewildered as to the point of that particular reality show---a twist a few weeks ago was that they introduced four "hunks" to compete with the remaining four "joes", but there was apparently no disincentive whatsoever against just picking the hunks. Odd.

And now although it's only 11:45, I'm exhausted and going to bed. I hope I'm not coming down with what everyone else has. If it is, I hope it's a cold and not a fever, because I've sure been feeding it.

"I've got nothing against the people of America, but when they put their collective power and opinions together into a single entity, they become one giant greedy self-righteous asshole." --Jonathan Prykop

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LONG day

I got up and sang at church today, which was nice as I saw a bunch of people that don't go on Saturdays (including Robby, who is now walking!). Then I booked it over to T.F.Green to learn this performance choreography. Turns out it was to a song called "Mr. Santa", based on "Mr. Sandman", one of my longtime favourites. But it's, like, 15% faster than a standard quickstep. And there was a lot of choreography to learn... we worked on it for about an hour and a half and then got lunch.

We were going to go down to the Biltmore at 3 to check out the dance floor, but although Marissa claimed to have a shovel in her car, she did not in fact have a shovel in her car, which was a problem. Someone said Providence had gotten 22 inches of snow in the past few days (seems high---I'd guess about 15-18). Anyway, Marissa finally borrowed a shovel from a store down the street and Dave and Angie and I (mostly Dave) shovelled her out. We got to the Biltmore at 3:30 and the parking garage's ticket machine was broken---we had to wait for someone to come out and remove the gate and hand us an "equipment failure" card with the time handwritten on it. We practiced a bit, and then left around 5.

I grabbed some Spike's and ate dinner and just chilled out for a while (nearly took a nap; probably should've) before leaving for the thing. I was a bundle of nerves, but it ended up fine. I missed a bunch of the choreography, but faked it effectively. And I was dancing in an honest-to-God Santa suit, which made up for a lot. :)

I could've stayed and danced for a while, but I didn't want to stay in the suit because (being all polyester) I was roasting to death. And the nicest clothes I'd brought with me were a blue oxford shirt and khakis, which was a few steps down from the next-least-formal attire there, so although welcome I would've felt out of place.

I took the opportunity to come visit Greg and Carrie, and I'm staying the night here... for the last half hour I've been watching their kitten rapturously play with an old heel tap she found somewhere, and it's terribly amusing. ;)

"Every moment someone hangs out with their neighbors is a moment they aren't watching TV is a moment they are closer to the realization that other people are humans too." --Zach Miller

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7 Dec 2003

Stupid LSAC

This morning was supposed to be the administration of the LSATs. I say "supposed to be" because they cancelled them in New England due to weather. Except that they didn't actually notify anyone. Sam showed up at the test site at 8:30 this morning to find a typed note saying "The law test is cancelled." That's it. The LSAC site carried no information. Turns out, they decided to cancel at 8:21 this morning and didn't bother to tell anyone. Lovely.

I dropped in on the BBDT practice this afternoon---just for their performance tomorrow, since they've decided to skip Tufts due to weather. And then, grabbed dinner with a few of them and got caught up. Shortly thereafter, I get a call from Marissa asking me about my plans tomorrow. Turns out, one of the guys, who was doing a solo with her, decided he didn't feel like doing it and backed out. So I let myself get talked into meeting her tomorrow at 11:30 to learn this routine. Apparently there's a santa suit involved. I'm such a sucker.

Finally, I'm supposed to test google by posting this link referring to the right to bear arms. Don't even ask.

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger." --J.R.R. Tolkien

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5 Dec 2003

Back in Providence

After putting off packing and then staying up more or less all night to do it, I got up at 6:30 this morning to catch the train. I can't tell you how many times I thought how much nicer trains are than planes.... Cutely enough, a bunch of preschoolers from Kewanee took the train with their parents to the next stop, Princeton, where they got off the train and were met by Santa, then boarded a bus to go back. Apparently they do this each year. It was adorable.

In Chicago, I then took the el out to O'Hare where I grabbed some McDonald's and bought a Daily Herald to kill time until my flight. (Interesting article: apparently a guy in southern Illinois pled guilty to one count of flag desecration for burning a flag. Ugh.) The flight was delayed but uneventful until the landing, which was in a driving snowstorm onto a tarmac with 1" of snow. Smooth anyway. I caught a bus downtown and then waited for a bus up the hill which was 25 minutes late---I could've walked it faster---and now I'm here. More later.

"The side effects of our programming are daytime drowsiness and an extreme sense of well-being." --Adult Swim

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Snow!

There is a gorgeous snowfall going on outside right now, the first that's really sticking all year. Looks like 1/2" or so so far. Yay!

On the topic of Reign: apparently, when they get to the end of a series, they start over again. Tonight's Adult Swim had the first episode of Reign, which was nice to see.

"I exercise when it becomes clear that the alternative is to buy new pants." --Bob Romashko

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4 Dec 2003

Eventful day

After some futzing at work today, I went to the mall to pick up some stationery. Incredibly, there were just a couple packages of blank paper in the whole store, and not a single package of holiday cards that actually had a blank interior. Vastly annoying.

On the way out of the mall via Penney's, I observed the most concrete instantiation of a linguistic phenomenon I've been observing for a long time---an additional category "guy" in between "boy" and "man". They actually had three separate sections. The men's clothing section had dress shirts, slacks, suits, ties, and so on. The guys' clothing section had the T-shirts, jeans, sweatshirts, and so on. The word "guys" was actually painted a bunch of places; it definitely felt like a separate department.

On the way home, I actually started to drive past Lowe's when I remembered that I needed to pick up a fire extinguisher. So I went in and kept remembering things I'd been meaning to get---a CO detector, a switch for the light over my sink, a timer for my lights.... I came out $60 poorer, and it's weird; I so rarely spend anywhere near that much on myself this time of year.

"So, I had a caffeine addiction, and I wanted to stop. So, I developed an addiction to chewing gum, and I wanted to stop. So, I started smoking, and I wanted to stop. So, I started reading notesfiles, and I really don't want to start drinking." --Amanda Muller

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Bleh

Got a slow start on the day today, and I've about given up on getting serious work done this week. My faculty web page is finally up, though not all the links are good yet. I burned five CDs of music for the Brown ballroom team, something I've been meaning to do for years now. That's not even including the stuff that I think is fine but that other people complained about.

I'm also making some level of plans for next week when I'm in Providence. BRS isn't having a concert this term :(, but hopefully I'll be able to see most everything/everyone else I was hoping to.

The last ep of Reign is on tonight. This one is as weird as most of the previous ones put together, which is saying a considerable amount. I wonder what they'll start on tomorrow.

"I have never even pretended to be as cool as you think you are, Jonathan." --Liz Chilton

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2 Dec 2003

Clean bill o' health

Well, I had my "I just moved here" checkup, and the doctor pronounced me perfectly healthy. The chest thing he suspects was actually an inflammation of the cartilage making up part of my ribcage (I guess that's the intercostal stuff). Didn't know cartilage got inflamed, but whatever. He also authorised a factor V Leiden blood test on the basis of strong family history; I HATE BLOOD TESTS AND NEEDLES but in any case I should find out the results relatively soon.

In other news, the speakers on my TV seem to be dying after six years of good service; it's the high range stuff that does it, and anytime anyone makes a sibilant sound (s, sh, tch) it's got significant distortion (especially if the volume's up). I'm not sure how hard it would be to fix it or have it fixed, but I'm thinking that now (well, after winter break) would be a good time to start looking at receiver/speaker systems, since I'd been planning to get one at some point down the line anyway, and once I get one of those, the TV speakers become pretty much irrelevant. :P Of course, I have no time to do anything about it (or care) anytime soon, since I'll be in Galesburg for all of about seven days---in at least three different chunks---between now and New Year's.

"Whatever system they have in place clearly has far too many humans in the loop, because the IMSAlum was addressed to 'Windy Peak Lane' and I live on 'Cloudy Peak Lane.'" --Brent Spillner

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1 Dec 2003

Winter Break begins

It's so hard to drag myself out of bed when there are no appointments awaiting me. Auggh, so much for getting in by 10:30. Well, I'm up, I'm fed, now to go in to get some work done. Maybe I can get my research work up and running again after its three-month hiatus.

"There is nothing like an old-fashioned ballet class run like a Siberian labor camp to give the lie to the notion that children are immune to disciplined formality---and to make even the most exacting parents seem lenient." --Miss Manners

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Weekend update

Thursday was Thanksgiving at the Fischers; Friday we had Patricia and Maura (and Kiera!) over and later Kathy hosted a party for her friends; and Saturday we had Lee and Vern and Kelly (and Loren!) over. And today I drove back to Galesburg. Mostly by accident caught a show on CMT called "Crossroads" (apparently this is a series) that had Melissa Etheridge and Dolly Parton performing each other's songs and being interviewed. Dolly is really clever, and really talented. She's also, like, 60, not that you'd know it to look at her---her performing career has already spanned almost forty years, and she's still going!

Knitting observation: Damn, but worsted-weight wool knits up fast. I've been doing mostly socks lately, and I didn't realise just how fast I'd gotten at this.

Article of the day: an army reservist is accused of insubordination for pointing out that his orders violate federal law. (It's clear that the higher-ups knew this, because rather than just issuing the orders they tried to require members of the unit to sign a waiver first....)

Qui bibit, bis orat
(He who drinks, prays twice)
-St. O'Gustine (--Pat Duggan)

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