30 Apr 2007

Geek dreams

I had the weirdest recursing dream last night. I think it went at least three levels deep, all occurred in the hour before my alarm was scheduled to go off, and had to do with (at various levels) it being Flunk Day, me erroneously thinking it was Flunk Day, me oversleeping my alarm, me turning off my alarm because it was Flunk Day or I thought it was, waking up and being upset I missed Martin's class again, waking up and being relieved it was Flunk Day, etc, etc.

Today was not Flunk Day.

"It's too bad you can't roll around naked in an online bank statement." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 4:36pm | Comments (1)

29 Apr 2007


I was mortified.

Halfway through act 2, one of the characters said something so jaw-droppingly surprising, I involuntarily said, "what.", out loud. And not a soft little out loud either; not only did the people in the seats next to me surely hear it, but the theatre itself was so small I suspect that the whole audience must have. That's what it felt like, anyway. This is going to be one of those embarrassing moments that plays back in my brain for years, like the time I dropped the soup bowl in the soup, although that time at least it was only my mom that witnessed it (I think).

But let me back up a bit. Tonight I drove out to Sandburg for the spring Prairie Players show, Sylvia, about a middle-aged man in midlife crisis who becomes an irresponsible dog owner and nearly destroys his marriage—the main characters being himself, his wife, and his dog Sylvia. Despite being a production of PPCT, which often functions as an annex of the GHS theatre department, this evening's show was instead a virtual extension of the Knox theatre department, with the director and all six actors being current or former students thereof.

The acting in the show was pretty polished. Cindy Reiter in particular did a great job as the dog Sylvia—not only in the lines themselves, but in her manner of acting and movement, she came across with a highly canine personality that any dog owner would recognise. Probably by design, it's Sylvia that the audience came to most sympathise with; the owner Greg (Eli King) seems basically nice but deeply irresponsible in a variety of ways, and the wife Kate (Sarah Bigus) is legitimately frustrated with the dog but then comes across as a little mean and far too obsessive. The clear winner in the supporting actor category has to go to Maren Reisch as the marriage counselor, who had the most fantastically expressive eyes and eyebrows when she was listening to Greg go on and on about Sylvia.

And yet I was still a bit dissatisfied, especially with the first act. Perhaps it was just a little too slow-paced (and that might be the fault of the writer as much as anything), but I found myself a bit bored, my attention wandering at various points. It was a weird tension, because I was simultaneously making mental notes on what a good job the actors were doing and what a neat premise the show had, even as I was forming an overall "enh" image of the play.

The second act suffered from this problem a lot less, maybe because I was by this point more interested in how the conflict would resolve. It didn't seem like the sort of show that would have an unhappy ending, and yet the conflict between the dog and the wife seemed irreconcilable and growing. It is perhaps a testament to how engaged I was that my abovementioned slip occurred, but I really don't want to think about that any more. :P

Certainly, in the end, I can give an overall positive opinion of the show. I still think that the first act dragged a little, but the premise was good, the acting was good, and despite a bunch of fluffed lines, the pacing cleared itself up in time for a not quite expected and slightly sad (but ultimately satisfying) ending.

I ask for nothing; I can get by.
But I know so many less lucky than I.
Please help my people, the poor and down-trod—
I thought we all were the children of God. --Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, "God help the outcasts"

Posted by blahedo at 12:05am | Comments (0)

17 Apr 2007

Democracy in action

I was drafted into being a "polling place administrator" for the municipal elections today, which basically meant I floated around three polling sites (covering seven precincts) and stood ready to resolve any technical problems that might arise with the equipment. Which, happily, didn't happen.

But it did give me a chance to meet a lot of people and see how things were run at various sites. If they don't keep around this position, I definitely plan to sign up as an election judge (as I've been meaning to do for ages now)—because I'd be good at it and there aren't nearly enough new people doing it. (Nearly every judge I met had been an election judge for at least a few years, many of them for decades.)

Also interesting was the attitudes of the various election judges, for good or for bad. Like the judge who started doing some of the closing-down stuff early, because "nobody's going to show up in the next ten minutes". (Someone did!) Or the judge that thought there should be some simple test that everyone should have to pass before being allowed to vote, to keep out the "retards". (Yikes.) Or the judge that thought there was way too much fuss about all this privacy stuff, because they weren't really interested in peeking at your vote. In a more positive direction, one judge found it very important to rearrange the handicapped voting booth so that it would actually fit a wheelchair behind it and be accessible, and so that nobody could walk behind it and see what they were doing. Or the many that went very carefully over what the voter needed to do to successfully vote their ballot. Some of them didn't always see the point of all the specific procedures—and would therefore be inclined to cut some corners—but not one of them would have let anyone's vote go uncounted.

As the day wrapped up, I headed over to City Hall, at first to see if there was anything else I was needed for. When there wasn't, I thought I'd hang around a couple minutes anyway, just to get the results. Four of the seven wards had an aldermanic election this cycle, and all four were contested. It was a rout. The people of this city are seriously displeased. (This may partially be fallout from the Super Walmart snub, along with various other "we're ignoring our constituents" snubs the council as a whole has made.) In three of the wards, a challenger beat an incumbent by a factor of two or more. (In two of those wards, this was even in the face of having a second challenger taking a significant number of votes!) In the fourth, the incumbent won by a margin of just nine votes. The turnout was also reflective of this: those four wards had a total of 2,349 votes cast, to just 668 votes (for various school board seats) in the other wards.

So, just another exciting election day in Galesburg!

"If we elect a bum worse than the one we threw out, we can vote for someone else four years later. Democracy's not that complicated. If we don't start behaving like we live in one, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for the consequences." --Ben Joravsky

Posted by blahedo at 8:26pm | Comments (1)

13 Apr 2007

The burnout of overextension


I'm teaching two and a half credits this term; it's by my own choice, and because the extra one (my Scheme class) was meant as an adjunct to the AI class, I figured it wouldn't be that much more work. But it's still three classes, and there are a ton of people in the Scheme class, so it's a little more work than I bargained for.

Also, there's a philosophy class on minds, brains, and computers that I'm sitting in on. So that's work, too.

And I'm supervising an independent study that I'm trying to turn into a larger reading group.

Plus my usual round of extracurriculars and a stitch-n-bitch I'd like to add in so I can have some pure social time.

All of which adds up to not very much sleep and a sensation of being dangerously overextended. Really, I don't think I've had a schedule this full since at least early grad school. Fortunately, I don't need to sustain it for long—just another six weeks.

But they'll be long ones....

"Skeptics of evolution may have the bad luck of being on the wrong side of the data, but the problem lies in the authority they choose to accept—it doesn't make them stupid or fit for scorn. In fact, they are revealing a weakness in Western science that many on the other side have a hard time seeing." --Chris Tessone

Posted by blahedo at 9:44pm | Comments (1)