Apparently the halls of JPL have been abuzz with talk of “significant findings” from data being returned by the Mars rovers. There's going to be a press conference on NASA TV at 1 PM CST (though they have a knack for delaying press releases for one reason or another). Anyway, it might actually be interesting to see, so I'll be on Ch. 77 this afternoon. However, I imagine it's just something simple about water, so that would fulfill the missions' goals, but in the end I'm not sure if it will excite people very much.
Weird. I downloaded a video of Electric Six's “Gay Bar,” hoping that it was a larger version of this, but instead found it to be the regular version. It had been captured off of MTV2, and I noticed that the words “war” and “nuclear” were censored. What?!? A guy writhing around in various skimpy outfits with phallic symbols all around is fine, but mention war and you're out of the picture? Viacom is one messed-up organization…
Heh. The neighborhood DFL caucus will be held across the street from me at Marcy Open School. I suppose I should go if it's that easy (plus, it would give me a chance to see inside the school). For more info on Minnesota caucuses (and other parties), see this Strib article.
Update: Hmm. The Independence Party (which has no national affiliation) is going to use instant-runoff voting to select a presidential candidate to endorse. That might be interesting. Maybe I should go there. They're doing it at Coffman Union. Hmm. I need my exercise ;-)
Update Update: Nevermind. It's just poll that doesn't mean anything.
Agh! This is a freaky image:
I'm more accustomed to seeing a rather hairless former governor…
Well, I ended up going to the Independence Party caucus. I guess turnout was about what I expected, though more than the facilitator had planned on. I thought there would be 20 people or so, but I think he only expected about six (he did have enough material for almost everyone who attended, though). There will probably be an article in the Daily tomorrow, since a reporter from the paper was there the entire time. Later on, someone came in with a video camera, and a third person was also videotaping from the doorway after a while. One of them was making a film on the 2004 elections. I asked the other one what she was recording for, and I guess I didn't totally parse her response, but I ended up with the impression she was a journalism student. I was interviewed by the Daily reporter, so I might actually see my name in print somewhere other than the Op-Ed pages ;-)
What did we do? Well, we, uh, caucused. The organizers weren't allowed to do the presidential straw poll until 7:30 (half an hour after things officially got going). There were some proposed resolutions that were discussed, and new resolutions were proposed and voted on. A guy in the group volunteered for being the local district chair, and shortly after being officially nominated said something like “Okay, before moving on, can you tell me exactly what I'll be doing?” which made everybody laugh, of course. People slowly percolated out of the room, and the remaining people (including me) sorta got snookered into acting as delegates to the state convention. In theory, the delegate designation can stay with me even if I move. I'm not sure if my presence will really be appreciated, though, since my ballot went something like Nader, Kucinich, Sharpton, Kerry, Edwards…
The guy leading the whole group had unfortunately forgotten to introduce the state House candidate for district 59B until the very end. Anyway, he's Ron Lischeid. His platform at the moment mostly seems to be replacing Phyllis Kahn, who has been representing the area for 32 years (he says she's served so long that she has become an icon—or “iKahn”). However, he's been active in community groups, and is one of the lead guys for making an official University neighborhood in Minneapolis.
I was reminded of the times my dad ran against Steve Sviggum for his House seat back when I was finishing high school and starting at college. My dad didn't accept PAC donations, and even had to fend off radio advertisements made to endorse him by other organizations. My dad ran as a Democrat, so it should be easier for this guy since it's actually party policy to not use such funding.
The party has a fairly libertarian bent, it seems. I think a few people kind of scoffed when I mentioned I liked the party “plank” of supporting high-speed rail. Obviously, some think that it's less economical than highways and whatever. I suppose I'd really be targeting airline traffic, but I'm never good at articulating such things on the spot. People seemed to be fairly open to the whole gay marriage thing (though the median age of the room was probably about 22). One of the proposed resolutions was to advocate the idea of making everyone have civil unions under the law, same-sex or not, and only having the term “marriage” be used in the religious context.
I guess the party was also conducting an Internet vote expected to take two days, so results won't be in until Friday. That's kind of annoying. There was a vote on the presidential candidate, but there was also a vote on the mascot to use for the party (which has been reported as a “news of the weird” item in the press). Some of the candidates were the bison (both normal and white), the loon, a roaring lion, and a moose. I chose the normal bison, but I guess I'd considered the moose as well. Strangely, that poll was conducted in the traditional way. Maybe there's some party rule that says they can't make binding votes with instant-runoff voting…
Yay! New episodes of Family Guy will begin airing in January 2005. Woo! They will at least be on Cartoon Network, but Fox might also air them.
I put an article up on the Twin Cities Independent Media Center site about the caucuses. It's kind of disappointing to see that the IMC has pretty much turned into just a protest organization with articles that usually have very slanted views. That's not to say that my article wasn't slanted in any way, but I think it's a lot less volatile than most of the stuff that shows up there. It's a site full of editorials rather than actual news… I suppose some of the more neutral people have spent more time on Wikipedia instead.
Update: Oh yeah. Two other things I wanted to mention but don't feel like writing much about now: McDonald's to dump supersize portions and Ed Asner reprises his gruff newsman's role for KSTP.
I might get a contract position with Medtronic for about two months. Theoretically, it would be server installations. We'll see if that works out.
I'm planning to be at a job fair at the Radisson tomorrow. Again, we'll see if that works out.
As a result of my going to the caucus yesterday and realizing that Minneapolis neighborhoods have their own meetings fairly regularly, I figure I should go. The next one for Marcy-Holmes is March 16th at University Lutheran Church of Hope (which is not to be confused with any of the other umpteen churches in the neighborhood—particularly the other Lutheran churches :-p ).
Okay, I know I've been very political lately, but I'm sure I'll calm down pretty soon. I just figured I should mention that while John Kerry won the Minnesota DFL caucuses, it's very possible that things will be tough for him in this state come November. And no, I don't really mean President Bush. While caucuses generally don't see really great turnouts as compared to regular primaries and elections (probably less than 100,000 people participated in all of the caucuses statewide), they're still fairly important.
Votes stacked up for Kerry on Tuesday night, but I think Dennis Kucinich's strong showing (almost 17%—his best contest so far except for Hawaii) indicates that there's a much more liberal undercurrent flowing through the Democratic party. Heck, Kucinich was the only Democrat to venture outside the Twin Cities, and it showed up in the Iron Range according to this Strib article. I can see why Minnesotans would like him—he's very Wellstone-like in behavior when it comes to how he speaks and what positions he takes. The article I referenced said that some people voted for Edwards or Kerry even though they really wanted Kucinich. That age-old “electability” problem.
Of course, by the time November rolls around, Kucinich himself will probably be just a memory. The Kerry camp will have to do a lot to convince me and others in the state to vote for him. It concerns me that the state might fall to Bush because of this, so we'll see how things go. I'm getting even more excited about the results of the Independence Party's IRV poll, but we might have to wait until the weekend or even Monday for the numbers to come in. There's a reasonable possibility that Kerry will come out on top, but I have a strong feeling that Nader or Kucinich will top out in the end. In my opinion, the poll will be a good indication of where Kerry's competition is coming from, and I intend to hype the shit out of the results as soon as I get them.
I went to a job fair at the Radisson today (er, yesterday, since I'm up late). The place was packed, and I got pretty excited to see so many people there. It was weird to see so many people wearing suits or at least slacks, nice shirts, and ties (like me). Given my past experience at job fairs, I expected to be toward the high end with my appearance, but there were plenty of people that went above and beyond. Only a very small number of attendees were wearing the clothes I'd expect from students and recent grads.
Of course, upon talking to people, I realized the reason: Sales. Bah. Everyone was looking for salespeople, and I figure the job fair must have been hyped over at Carlson (it would explain the nice attire, since nobody else on campus normally gives a crap about that sort of thing). I ended up giving out two resumés, though. One was with Accenture—that company kind of scares me since they seemed to be a big source of trouble regarding CSOM's out-of-control spending on their website. Another was Eschelon (that's with an s, not without ;-) which I'd never heard of before. One lady there was really excited to meet me. Well, she didn't really seem to be an excitable person, but she promised me an interview which is good. It would be a tech support helpdesk-type thing, but I'm open to lots of things these days.
On the political side of things, I posted to the LiveJournal Twin Cities community the Independence Party preliminary results. Okay, the presidential results actually scare me a bit so far, but we'll see if things change as they go through the different runoff rounds. However, I liked most of the other resolution results, though I'm not exactly sure what it takes for them to be passed (I'd personally only want the ones above 50% to really count, but that's just me).
Oh, and I got my computer to record Tripping the Rift. Wow. That was really excellent (even if God doesn't get killed in the end).
Over the last few days, I've noticed some ants appearing in my apartment, so I went out and got some ant baits at Target. I dropped one right by my front door, since it appeared that a significant number were coming in from the hallway. Boy, was I wrong. They're coming in the entry, definitely, but there must be a hole in the wall behind the baseboard there. A whole column of ants has been heading to the bait trap. It's kind of funny, though, since the sight reminds me of columns of peasants heading to the gold mine in Warcraft ;-)
I take solace in the fact that the little buggers will be dead soon.
Adam's shindig is tonight. I plan to be there.
Went to Adam's birthday and heard the band play again. And then heard the band play again. One of Spike's friends didn't get there until really late, hence the repeat. I managed to do okay in some of the crash games in Burnout 2 in the meantime, though.
In other news, it appears that Marcy Playground is actually named for the park across the street from my apartment (the playground at Marcy Open School/Holmes Park, rather than the playground at Marcy Park). Theoretically, the school was the “formative location” for one of the main guys in the band.
Blah blah blah. I stayed up too late.
Hmm. I ran out of chocolate before I could really experiment with it, but I plan to try adding cinnamon in the future when I make chocolate milk and hot chocolate. Wonder what else I should try…
Okay, I'll bare one of my deep, dark obsessions to the world… (Okay, it's really neither deep nor dark, but this girl's face is one that I definitely notice.) Unceremoniously stolen from here:
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THAT RICOLA GIRL (Who Is Heidi????)
Well the internet has been buzzing about who this young lovely is. Her name is Ramona Pringle, and if you just can't get enough of that heavenly face, you should buy Model Behavior on VHS. Ramona has a featured part in this fun and funny Disney film. It's a great one for the whole family—but most especially for Ramona Pringle fans!
Also stars: Justin Timberlake, Maggie Lawson, Kathie Lee Gifford
There's also another page with a strangely freaky picture.
Heh. So I'm right, dammit! I finally tried out Minnesota Public Radio's Select a Candidate survey and got the results: Nader, Kucinich, Kerry, Edwards, Sharpton, and then Bush landed at 0% favorability ;-)
Wow. I must really hate that guy :-D
The interesting thing about that survey is that current results indicate that 44% of the site's visitors had Kucinich as the top candidate. John Kerry is in second place with 16%.
Of course, this is the Internet, and it's entirely possible that there has been a scripted attack to boost Kucinich's standings.
Wow. LiveJournal timing out/closing connections/not working reminds me of the good ol' BBS days when I had to set up my computer to redial continuously. Sometimes I feel like I need a wardialer for web pages (like this most trusted non-friends thing that I've been trying to access for about a week). Other times I feel like I should just get off my ass and fix some code somewhere.
But I never do. *sigh*
I went around and changed the layout of my LiveJournal page and even made a new icon (though it was from an image I already had). I figured using the Tom Hanks icon all the time was somewhat disingenuous, though I suppose this one isn't significantly more genuine… I might change my homepage as well. I guess I did make a few tweaks, but there is a whole lot more I could do if I had the motivation.
I finally got around to IMing with Sarah a bit. I got out of the habit of talking to her for various reasons, though I suppose I never really talk to anybody. It was just noteworthy because I basically woke up one day this weekend thinking, “I should IM Sarah,” but wimped out because she was actually online at the time I crawled over to my computer. I wanted to talk, but had nothing to talk about, like normal.
Anyway, like I said, I finally got around to it. I mentioned a comment Adam made over the weekend at his party about her helpfulness to him on a song mix. She seemed down, and I knew it would make her feel better. Well, once I actually structured my comment in a way she could understand. It seems my IMing skillz leave something to be desired.
So, she might stay at the U. She might go to Brown or some other place. She might completely change directions and go to Aveda or something. I can't really give any advice on that last point :-D
Ugh. I need to try to get to sleep relatively early tonight, since the weekend messed up my schedule a bit. Staying up to 3AM cleaning up the muck left by Jedis fighting probe droids can only be done so often. (Er, I mean, you can only play Burnout 2 for so long…)
The American Family Association is running a new online poll, though perhaps a little less controversial than the gay marriage one that got poll-bombed a few months ago. This one was sent out to people who had voted online previously and has some dramatic numbers. They're simply asking Kerry, Bush, or Nader?
I just took it, and then, well, my browser crashed before I could type anything in. By the time I got back, probably another hundred people had voted, though it didn't change things much. The numbers I've just jotted down say Kerry 90.5% (8578 votes), Nader 6.08% (576), and Bush 3.42% (324).
Oh crikey. You know those five British subjects that were just transferred home to the UK? Okay, you probably don't, but bear with me. They were some of those “enemy combatants” held at Guantanamo for, oh, two years or so. Upon their return, only four of them were held—one was set free right away. The other four have now been released with no charges.
So this basically tells me that these guys were held for two years for little or no good reason. Ooo. That'll do great things for the U.S.'s standing in the eyes of the world. Yeah, uh-huh, sure.
And meanwhile, we're only just starting to put the high beams on people from WorldCom and Enron. I guess Bernie Ebbers has finally been indicted, but Ken Lay appears to be off in some secure bunker chumming it up with Dick Cheney (or something…)
There was a report on ABC's World News Tonight earlier this week about a guy advertising “Indian wages” in the U.S. and quickly getting 90 resumes for the position. There are a few odd things about the story. First, it's three months old. Second, I wouldn't quite call $40,000/year an “Indian wage.” It's supposedly half the going rate in the U.S., but I have to think that wages in India are probably closer to a tenth of what they are here. Still, I think the story shows that companies aren't appropriately responding to supply and demand in this country.
Companies getting overwhelmed with applicants is one possible reason why I haven't been getting any callbacks, but I guess I haven't heard much reportage on that. My joblessness is stressful. I guess I can dig into that savings account back home and go on another few months, but I'd rather not do that.
Anyway, I guess I'm just saying that I am certainly willing to work for relatively low wages if need be. Because my rent is relatively high for a single-room place and since I'd like to actually own a car sometime soon, I'd probably at least want $25k/year, but I suppose I don't even know what I need. That might be high. I could live without worrying too much, though it would keep me from buying neat toys. I can live without neat toys for a while.
Bah. I don't like talking about money when my friends, who have had to work all through school, are watching…
Today's history lesson: Immigrants beware.
Today, Mexican immigrant workers are dying at a rate of one per day. They have an 80% greater chance of dying than native-born Americans, even when doing the same job. Often this is due to negligence in safety and training on the part of employers, though the article says that the strong Mexican work ethic carries part of the blame.
This is another example of history repeating. We're all aware of the fact that black slaves were sometimes worked to death, but other populations have seen similar working conditions. My old high school history teacher once related the story of dock workers in a busy port. When rolling cargo off ships and down ramps, sometimes large and heavy objects had to be moved. When this happened, black slaves would be put at the high end, pulling on the cargo, and Irishmen would be put on the low end, pushing it so it didn't move too quickly. At the time, there was a nearly endless supply of Irish immigrants, so dockmasters had little trouble finding replacements for those, uh, taken out of the workforce. On the other hand, slaves were actually considered to take a real investment of time and money, and therefore were more valuable.
Slavery was not really practiced in the West, per se, although many are aware of Chinese immigrants who were placed in deadly situations while building railroads and other great works during the 19th century (as we all know because of Kung Fu and other movies). Today, businesses merely have another workforce to exploit. They seem to be extremely happy to use Mexicans, who, according to a recent article I read that talked about cheap labor being used at the ski resorts of Colorado, are fairly docile and submissive when it comes to work environments. They tend to not complain about dangerous situations if they feel it will get them in any amount of trouble. That's a pretty nasty combination.
(Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read that article. It may have been something in the New Yorker, since I read a few of them when I went to Kentucky.)
Some workplace inspectors have said that even illegal immigrants have the same rights to workplace safety as Americans do, although this seems to only be loosely enforced and open to interpretation. Michael Moore made a story about that for The Awful Truth about illegal immigrant workers attempting to unionize at a hotel in Minneapolis. I guess I don't know how the story ultimately ended up, but I believe the hotel owner was fined or something for breaking up a meeting the workers were having.
Anyway, I'm sure it's something that will get worse before it gets better.
First off, a fun little thing. I've contributed a book's worth of material to Wikipedia while I've been unemployed and bored so far this year. In a weird way, one of the most successful articles is what I wrote on progressive shifting. Honestly, I don't know if what I wrote is right—most places just say that progressive shifting involves a slightly higher RPM after each shift, which I don't say at all. It might be a correct observation, but I think it must be more of an effect than a cause. Anyway, I think the article partially explains the technical reasons why it's better, but there could be more info. Still, there is very little information out there on the subject.
I randomly wandered over to that page recently and decided to search for any information that I could add. To my surprise, the article showed up as the first entry in my Google search. This is kind of weird because within Wikipedia itself, the page is pretty much not referenced at all, except for a link in my user page. I guess people must believe the article is correct—they seem to have linked to it in order to have it show up at the top in Google. I'm most impressed because I only made one edit on that page—to create it.
Anyway, yesterday I went to a talk put on by the Minnesota Renewable Hydrogen Initiative. It turned out to be moderately interesting, though I was especially impressed by the talk Lanny Schmidt did on the ethanol-to-hydrogen reactor/reformer that got a lot of press last month. It's a really simple device, kind of the pulse-jet of hydrogen reforming—except that it's actually efficient (maybe that makes it the ramjet of hydrogen reforming).
When I first heard of the device, it seemed kind of silly. In a way, it still seems kind of silly. Well, actually, the silly thing is that it's meant to feed fuel cells that are fragile and expensive—the reactor is only silly by extension. If fuel cells can ever be made cheaply, it's a great idea. Hydrogen is difficult to store because of its extremely low density (I think I heard that even liquid hydrogen is less dense than air, but I'm unsure). Storing hydrogen in Ethanol instead is a much easier thing to do.
Schmidt also frequently repeated that we need to transition to using biomass-based fuels. There is no way around it. You can extract hydrogen from coal or oil for a while, but you'll just end up running out. In additon, the carbon that comes out in the process has to be put somewhere if you don't want the greenhouse effect to get worse.
There was a lady from the Department of Energy there who kind of got picked on after a while. She was from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, which oversees a lot of the new energy initiatives going on at DoE. She put up a budget table that kind of skewed toward giving money to projects that produced hydrogen by using electricity from nuclear power and projects to sequester carbon from fossil fuels—both things that renewable energy folks really don't like to see because they still involve non-renewable energy. She had to defend herself by saying that a lot of the renewable fuel money comes in from different sources than the main budget she had listed.
Still, I was kind of disturbed by the amount of money the government was putting into the idea. It was a large sum, something like $1.7 billion, but there are individual car companies out there that are putting more money in than that!
Overall, I was fairly impressed by the crowd there. The presenters were much more in-depth than I expected. News reports I've seen about hydrogen and renewable fuels barely scratch the surface of what was discussed over the few hours yesterday—and yesterday's forum just barely scratched the surface of these issues in general.
There was a lot of good buzz at the meeting by industry insiders, but because of secrecy, they couldn't really say much. The DoE lady was the person who was most reluctant to believe that anything could happen quickly. I suppose this is partially due to the fact that she is looking at the national picture, which looks pretty bleak. In Minnesota, we at least have enough crop land to attempt to become self-powered through the use of biomass and wind energy, but this is a much more difficult thing to do nation-wide.
A comment that became cliché by the end of the seminar was, “the Upper Midwest is the Saudi Arabia of biomass and wind energy.” Actually, that comment was made in a few different ways. It was first mentioned by Lanny Schmidt, but I think about three other people also said it. The comment is probably somewhat inappropriate (since places like Brazil could out-biomass us any day of the year), but kind of a nice idea nonetheless.
Well, I could go on for a pretty long time talking about the seminar, but I suppose this is enough for now.
Sweet! Good Eats Geek Code.
Heh. Funny. (But weird—notice that some parts of the strip are repeated so it can be put into a wide (4x2) layout instead of the tall (2x4) layout.)
Doing some reading. Er, transcribing. I took an old book from my grandparents' place when I was there last month. Nice to know entertainment was just as cheesy back then :-p
Day by day he gazed upon her,
Day by day he sighed with passion,
Day by day his heart within him
Grew more hot with love and longing
For the maid with yellow tresses.
But he was too fat and lazy
To bestir himself and woo her.
Yes, too indolent and easy
To pursue her and persuade her;
So he only gazed upon her,
Only sat and sighed with passion
For the maiden of the prairie.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, 1855.
The story is about some of the legends of the Midwest, so I may as well read it. Supposedly, The Song of Hiawatha was a major contributor to the early tourist trade of Minnesota.
I don't know what it is, but I've come across a lot of weird blood-pressure-raising crap today. I considered posting a few items earlier today, but decided against that. Just writing it down was enough. But this one takes the cake:
108th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 3920
To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 9, 2004
Mr. Lewis of Kentucky (for himself, Mr. DeMint, Mr. Everett, Mr. Pombo, Mr. Coble, Mr. Collins, Mr. Goode, Mr. Pitts, Mr. Franks of Arizona, Mr. Hefley, Mr. Doolittle, and Mr. Kingston) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Rules, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004”.
2. CONGRESSIONAL REVERSAL OF SUPREME COURT JUDGMENTS.
The Congress may, if two thirds of each House agree, reverse a judgment of the United States Supreme Court—
(1) if that judgment is handed down after the date of the enactment of this Act; and
(2) to the extent that judgment concerns the constitutionality of an Act of Congress.
The procedure for reversing a judgment under section 2 shall be, as near as may be and consistent with the authority of each House of Congress to adopt its own rules of proceeding, the same as that used for considering whether or not to override a veto of legislation by the President.
4. BASIS FOR ENACTMENT.
This Act is enacted pursuant to the power of Congress under article III, section 2, of the Constitution of the United States.
The text of the bill:  (It's an XML file, so I don't know how well it'll work in everyone's browsers)
A tracking page: 
The only page I could find through Google News that was not made by conservative windbags horrified by the so-called “Judicial Activism” going on: 
Update: Here's a great little entry discussing all of the other crap Congress is trying to do these days: 
I also have the note I sent to Rep. Martin Sabo below (LiveJournalers might have to click the “Comments” link to see it)
I was very recently informed of a bill currently in committee, HR 3020, the “Judicial Activism Act of 2004”—“A bill to allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.” I'm appalled to see that twelve Republican representatives had the guts to put their names on that thing. The bill is so shocking to me that it makes my head hurt. The bill itself is most certainly unconstitutional—blatantly so. I almost believe that its proposal is an intentional act; a way for conservative representatives to fan the flames around what they have been calling “Judicial Activism” if it was struck down either in Congress or—ironically, yet unlikely, since I doubt it could ever pass—in the courts.
My mind is just completely boggled by this bill. If I give the representatives the benefit of the doubt and believe that they wrote the bill in good faith and without any strange plotting or scheming in mind, then I am left with the conclusion that they lack basic understanding of how American government works and that they hardly have the right to represent themselves in Congress, let alone the hard-working individuals who voted for them. It is a strong thing, but my morals require me to must ask you to request the removal of those representatives from Congress.
Thank you for your time,
Maybe I should have just asked for “censure” or something. Whatever. They're idiots and deserve to be spanked.
Ugh. We had a power outage in my apartment building. It appears that only a few blocks were affected (maybe only ours), but maybe we were on the edge of something. Anyway, two of my three computers (er, three out of my four, if you count the laptop, but it's unaffected by piddly hour-long periods without current) are functioning now. One of them has experienced some hard disk corruption, it appears. Now, the challenge of finding a Linux recovery disk or CD that can handle the 200GB hard drive and the ATA133 controller.
The moment of community togetherness involved in the outage was my joining Adam and Kari on a trip to a bookstore. Well, it was a place I'd never been before, which was something I needed anyway.
I almost picked up a book named Tube about the history of television, but it was a $30 hardcover and I figured my money could be better spent on other things at the moment.
I want money.
Yeah, the drive is probably toast. Fortunately, it appears to still have several months of warranty time left, so I can just get it replaced. Hopefully. I should see if Maxtor has any tools I can test with, though I figure the Linux kernel reporting various errors like AddrMarkNotFound is probably a bad sign.
I plan to go see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tomorrow, probably at the UA Pavilion theater by Best Buy.
I should stop in a job placement agency tomorrow too. It's been on my to-do list for too long. I really need to actually start writing that list down…
I am disturbed by the fact that I was almost born on the same date as Clay Aiken. Yay Mom for getting me out before midnight.
I went to see Eternal Sunshine today. It was really good. Charlie Kaufman does good work—and Michel Gondry does too, for that matter. I was actually thinking that some scenes in the movie looked like Gondry's previous work (I picked up a DVD of the music videos he's made), but I didn't know he had anything to do with the movie until I got home and looked it up on IMDB.
Anyway, good movie, yadda yadda yadda. It's one of those that you need to think about a bit to get the scenes properly re-ordered in your mind, but it's nice to occasionally see a movie that requires your neurons to actually exercise a bit.
Most of the previews didn't do anything for me. There was one for Saved! which seems to be set in a Catholic school. Seemed like it could be a good antidote for that other Jesus movie, but I'm not entirely sure. It's definitely targeted toward the teenage crowd, though I don't know what direction it's supposed to be going with regard to the basic religion question. Hmm. Mandy Moore as an overdone Jesus Freak? Heh.
There was also a preview for Garden State that looked interesting. I know I was partially hypnotized by the trailer's background (or foreground, since there's pretty much zero dialogue) music. Well, whatever. Hmm. Looks like it's basically Zach Braff's very own movie. Wacky.
Yikes. The full version of Debian's next release will go on 13 CDs. Reminds me of back when I had to go through about 25 diskettes to install OS/2. Of course, you don't need all of the Debian discs to install Linux (and I guess about half that stuff would be source code). But hey, if you've got the disk space, why not?
There were protests yesterday, but I didn't go. I might have gone if the busses were running, but it's been hard for me to see any clear message coming out of the American anti-war folks these days. I think the adage about managing programmers is also fairly apt when applied to liberal protesters, “It's like herding cats.”
On Friday, I had come across a couple of high-resolution images of Alicia Silverstone. I'm talking about really clear 1600x1200 images. Oh yeah. And the pictures hadn't been run through any heavy graphics filters, so there was actually a texture to the picture.
Anyway, it just got me thinking about how I can relax a lot after I see the face of a good-looking girl. And I don't mean, um, you know. I'm sure that just the simple act of seeing a nice face releases hormones or something—I can feel something happening. I'm pretty sure that this was once studied by researchers, but Google isn't helping me out at the moment. I remember some days at the U where I'd get on the Campus Connector and sit across from a good-looking girl, and I'd get the same feeling. Boy did I hate the days when I had to sit across the aisle from guys.
So, back in the near-present, I looked at the picture for a while, had it as my desktop background for a few hours (though it's such a waste to put a nice picture right behind my browser window), then decided to go looking for other comparable photos of other girls. I wasn't very successful—most of the pictures were scaled up to the desktop size or had the woman so airbrushed that she looked like a poorly-made wax sculpture.
Finally, I gave up and looked at a few digital photos I'd made of old high school senior pictures. Of course, I couldn't resist the picture of my high school crush. Wow. I can't believe that photo is over seven years old. Still, it's weird, the picture seems so alive. When I look at it, she winks at me, smiling and laughing. She giggles at me, at how silly I'm being for looking at this old image, how dumb I am for bothering to worry about her, about girls, about life. Of course, the faint movements I see in my mind have nothing to with what really happened back then.
We never knew each other. I think we'd only exchanged a dozen or so words before I made a few of those phone calls that high school kids with silly infatuations make. But back then, I just didn't know how relationships worked. Well, given my luck so far, I still don't know. Anyway, I can't even describe what it was like. I think you need to be a timid person who has had a deep crush like that to understand. I suppose I'm fortunate that I had strong forces in my mind that tried to always guide me to the right choices to make, but in hindsight, there are one or two things that I should not have done.
Well, then there's the part of me that says I should have let go a little more often. Maybe that would have changed things. But probably not. I was a geek with big glasses. A nerd who couldn't say anything about anything unless it was about science or computers. She wouldn't have wanted that. Still, she tried to be nice about the whole thing. I thought that there might be a way past the stereotypes, but it never worked.
I was in a few classes with her, but she slowly turned into a phantom over the last year of school—a person seen out of the corner of the eye or far down a crowded hallway. Sometimes that was enough. Usually it wasn't. I hoped and prayed that we could be next to each other one last time, but it didn't happen the way I'd planned. The town paper collected photos and information about the future plans of the soon-to-be graduates. I don't know how the order was selected for displaying the photos and descriptions, but our two faces were next to each other. It is a rare moment in life when you look at a printed page and come back with a mixed feeling of euphoria and terror. This was one of those times.
I don't know if the ugliness of my photo played into my version of events at all. That was probably only a minor part of my thought process at the time. I was certain she'd see the pictures and think I had something to do with putting them next to each other (I never did anything). A bigger worry for me was that she could have been picked on for it. “Hey Karrin, there's your boyfriend.” Shit. I'm sure it's something she could've just blown off without a second thought, but still, I'd hate it if that happened.
At the time the senior list was published, I had been trying to let go, trying to push out of my mind the fact that we would probably never see each other after graduation. This just threw my obsession back at me. As a result, I tried a few more times to talk, but it was stupid and pointless. Except, well, I think it was on the day of graduation: I'd scribbled some garbage in a note to her, and caught her at her locker in the morning. In that one instant, she smiled in a way that I will never forget. She seemed happy to see me, almost ecstatic, almost caring. Well, I don't know what her real feelings were at that moment. Regretfully, I only had the energy to shove the pathetic envelope at her and scurry away. She was probably just relieved that it was probably the last time she'd ever see me. In the end, we only crossed paths two or three more times. It's probably been six years now.
And so, this weekend at least, that old story is echoing again for me. I felt I could almost hear her speak to me, asking me to meet her. But of course, it was all in my head. I went out to eat, her face didn't show. I went out to dance, and she didn't cross my path. There was never anything real about those thoughts back then, so why should it be any different now?
Oh well. I heard some music, saw some things, waved at Terra, tried to talk to someone I thought I sort of knew, and went home. At least I didn't just mope around the apartment.
Ugh, what a sad little trip this entry has been. Oh well. I went to the car show today, so I'll probably put another entry in about that.
My brother came back up to school today along with my dad. After they had dropped my brother's stuff off in his dorm room, we all got lunch at White Castle (and old favorite of Dad's), and then went to the auto show. Quite a lot of stuff there, mostly big stuff (at least when you look at the Big 3).
My main intention of going to the auto show (and I've been thinking about it for several months) was to check out the VW Golf, since I'd been thinking about purchasing the TDI version. The reason for TDI is that it's a fuel-efficient car, one of the best fuel economies for a non-hybrid vehicle. Still, it's a diesel, so that could make finding qualified maintenance people difficult. On the upside, it's a turbocharged direct-injection diesel (what the TDI stands for), which is a better type of engine than the old clickety-clackety diesels of the past.
Anyway, I had been impressed with the interior styling of the VW Beetle, so I figured I'd like the inside of the other VWs. However, my basic opinion is that the interiors are somewhat poor. So, I might go for a different type of car once I actually get money. Still, I'd like to try one on the road, just to see what it feels like. Er, if I have enough money when it comes time to buy a car. I might just have to swallow my pride and get a used car.
I was scarily impressed by a Kia I sat in. I think I'd have to avoid that brand, though. Losing your own job to someplace in southeast Asia has that sort of an effect on people.
There was a big crowd around the one Toyota Prius that was open for people to sit in. There were four sitting out in one of the entranceways, but they were all locked (they were there to say that the Prius was the “official car of the 2004 auto show” or whatever). The Mini Cooper was also a popular destination, though I'm sure most people were still spending the vast majority of their time looking at other cars.
We also looked at the Honda Civic Hybrid a little. But heck, what can you say about that? It's almost the same as a regular Civic except for the powerplant under the hood and the battery packs under the rear seat.
Hmm. Well, nothing else really jumps into my mind at the moment. It was interesting to see some of the new cars and the few concept vehicles that were there, and it was fun to sit in those cars that you could never afford, but there's only so much you can experience while in the middle of a convention center floor.
Anyway, I'm tired now. I wonder if The Simpsons is on tonight.
Ugh. I'm tired.
I got an e-mail about a job working for the St. Paul schools for about two months. Well, it's a menial test-paper-grading job for $10/hr. Hmm. Is this one of the side-effects of that “no child left behind” thing? Well, I guess I'll talk to them about it if I don't get any leads in the next 10 days or something. I guess that would work out to $3200 (er, minus taxes and crap), which I suppose is two or three months of life.
Rent is going up here to $625/mo. Yay. I'll probably say that I will stay on through the summer, but after that, I don't know what I'll do about my lease. Such a stupid thing, only allowing people to get out in the summer and still enforcing a two month notification. Bah. I can't think that far ahead, especially when I'm looking for work, etc.
Stupid job-hunting. I'm no good at it. I don't like competing, at least not when you're in a winner-take-all scenario. Don't I get partial credit?
Heh. I scoffed at yesterday's news that Microsoft was getting a fine of $615 million or so, especially since that's only about one 80th of what they have in the bank. Still, I guess the European Union is putting other restrictions on the company that might turn out to be more costly.
Hmm. I was just about to scoff at people for blaming OPEC for gas price increases, but I didn't know that Venezuela had joined that cartel. I was under the impression that OPEC was only a Middle East thing, and only produced a relatively small fraction of the U.S.'s oil imports these days, but I guess the group may have changed. Still, I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, after 100 years of figuring out how to make it cheaper to produce fuel, every year should see a record-high price due to inflation.
Oh well, we should all start driving hybrids and moving to ethanol and biodiesel anyway.
Happy Birthday, Keri Russell! Hahaha ;-)
God, I'm a dork.
So, I got up this morning, checked my friends page, and it looked like a lot of people were thinking heavily about their dreams last night. Well, relatively speaking. I had some weird stuff floating around last night too, though I guess it wasn't very memorable. Mostly, I can only recall thinking through some of the faces of girls I've liked in the past, though I know there was a lot of other totally unrelated dreaming going on at other points.
Anyway, it seems that I actually do have a “type” of woman that I really like, though apparently it's weird enough to confuse the heck out of me and out of things like this test. On one hand, the test tells me that I really like the idealized faces of movie stars, but then it also says that I don't buy into the “mainstream” image. So people who appeal to the mainstream are not the idealized figures in movies and on TV?
Another portion of the test said that I'm, well, read for yourself:
Very Open: You have a more open and accepting view of what makes a woman attractive than other men your age. In fact, you fall in the most open and non-traditional subgroup of men who have taken this test. Good for you! This doesn't necessarily mean that looks are less important to you than to other men. You simply have a unique set of criteria and keep your eyes out for special qualities that make a woman, who may seem ordinary to most, extraordinary to you.Sure, I'd generally agree with that. Sort of. I don't know. I mean, there seems to be a type of girl that I really go for, but that particular type seems to be really popular with other guys too. I think that if you take a step back, though, and look at the few notches below my absolute ideal, I see things differently than most other guys. Plus, strangely, I'm not exactly attracted to every girl I see—I find it to be a relatiely rare moment when I turn my head to get another look. It's all very weird.
Also, one portion of the results said that I'd be one to skip over cheerleaders, which is funny since my two biggest crushes were cheerleaders in high school. :-p
I keep breaking the test, dammit.
In other news, my efforts to be nice to Erin are failing dramatically.
Okay, so I finally found the avatar generator today. That's pretty awesome, though I guess if I were to pick on people, I'd say there weren't quite enough hairstyles or eyeglass types. But heck, it's free. BFD.
So I kinda went nuts making icons. My aforementioned difficulty with hair made it a challenge to find something that seemed appropriate for Dan, especially with his beard, but I finally came up with this:
Which seemed okay, I guess. No offense intended, Dan. But then, I thought that I'd have to do at least two more for him. He's mentioned his desire to obtain an appropriate aged scientist look when he's older. I suppose I mucked around a bit when I came up with a kooky image for him. Dan is also famed the world 'round for his sad face, and I did my best to emulate it given what was available. I suppose you could tweak these to be a bit better.
I tried doing Sarah, but I couldn't find hair that I liked. For one image, I ended up just giving her a hat (which doesn't really make sense, but it seemed good at the time), and then using a cop-out hairdo for another image. A while later, I came back and did another try with glasses.
And, what entry would be complete without some self-flagellation?
You will not believe me when I tell you that I have been battling piddles today. I'm completely serious. Well, in this context, a “piddle” is an integral datatype for the Perl Data Language. I've been working on making a plugin for The Gimp that uses the Scale2x algorithm to increase the resolution on bitmap images. It's a neat way to make images of old console games look nicer when used in modern emulators.
Unfortunately, the plugin interface for The Gimp is a bit slow, at least when you look at the simplest methods for doing things. My current “fast” version of the algorithm still takes a minute to run on fairly small images. The algorithm itself is light enough that it can run in real-time on computers that aren't all that fast, but this plugin is probably thousands of times slower. Hopefully I'll figure things out.
Still, I actually got it to work, which makes me happy. Here are a few samples I used from LiveJournal mood icons:
You know, I think I am being lazy about finding a new job sometimes, but I was really surprised to get a phone call today about a possible job at Medtronic that was initially mentioned to me back on March 3rd. I've got a phone interview set up for Tuesday the 30th now. Just a slight delay there.
So, once I finally land a job, the offers will just start rolling in.
In other news, opportunitygrrl is using the icon I made, which is cool.
This is from an infrared tracking camera on a Navy P-3. The image is taken from a pretty long-ass distance away, though I doubt the military would like to say exactly how far. A few seconds after this image was taken, the X-43A's engine ignited, probably pushing it past 5000 miles per hour. In 11 seconds while the engine was being given fuel, it traveled over 15 miles. That averages out to 4900 miles per hour—it may have gone faster at some point in the burn. NASA says that the X-43A had positive acceleration while the engine was running, which is a first for a scramjet.
Went to see The Ladykillers with my brother today, after we stopped in at a hobby shop and Ax-Man in St. Paul. There were a few interesting previews. Coffee and Cigarettes looks like it will be awesome (hmm. The person who runs coffeeandcigarettes.com will be annoyed if the movie gets big), and I think I'll have to see what Dogville is all about, though I guess I've been hearing about that one for months.
Anyway, I liked The Ladykillers. I got a bit confused by the intro, since it wasn't really spelled out that the initial sequences were just introducing the characters. There wasn't much separation between them, so the different scenes took a little effort to sort out afterward. I think I saw Bruce Campbell in a cameo, but he's only on-screen for about 3 seconds (as the “animal protection guy,” I think). Anyway, kind of a Southern version of Ocean's Eleven, though it goes in a different direction.
Hmm. I see Good Bye, Lenin! is coming to Edina. That might be interesting.
Heh. Water buffalo with cheese. Funny. Jason had some interesting ideas last week ;-)
Well, this is an awful transition sentence.
I'm surprised that I haven't seen any news on a car fire that happened yesterday on I-94. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place. Anyway, there was a fire in the eastbound lanes of 94 right above Cedar Avenue. A fire truck had gotten on the highway just a few cars in front of my brother and I as we were going to Uptown, though the fire truck had to go and turn around somewhere. I suppose that if the fire wasn't in the news, then nobody died. But who knows.
Anyway, smoke was drifting to the north from the fire, though it wasn't thick enough to cause visibility problems. Every car in the westbound lanes was slowing down to gawk, which was annoying, though I suppose I was just pleased to be driving faster than 30 mph for once this month and didn't want to slow down for much of anything.
Heh. The opening riff of “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA sounds a lot like the Invader Zim theme song.
I have a set of interviews lined up at Secure Computing starting at 9:00 on Wednesday. However, three of these interviews are for senior positions. She didn't mention this in the phone call. Heck, she hadn't even said what the interview was for—I only found out that I'm going to be talking to people about four positions once I got the follow-up e-mail (though she did say I would be talking to four people…).
Well, whatever. I've sufficiently impressed people at interviews in the past that I've only ever had to go through the process three times, and I've gotten the job each time. They're screwing up my ratio by forcing me to try for positions I'm not qualified for. Either that, or I'll show up there and they'll say, “Oops, you're not really supposed to be here yet. Wait an hour for the interview you're actually meant for…”
Anyway, the lady I talked to on the phone made the drive there sound complicated, even though it isn't. I drove up there, since it's just off 35W in Roseville, and discovered that their parking lot points directly into the southbound on-ramp—exactly the direction I need to go to get home ;-) That would be a pretty easy commute, even if it involves I-35…
Oh good. People are getting stabbed where we used to live.
George W. Bush has claimed exclusive right to Bible verse (not that I was using it anyway).
I don't know what Ralph Nader is up to. It's weird that he's supposedly coordinating with Kerry somehow, but I guess nothing has actually happened yet. I'm not a big fan of Kerry, though I might possibly consider maybe voting for him if he shows an ability to debate remotely like he did back in 1971 when he got airtime as a disgruntled Vietnam veteran. Last night, C-SPAN ran a debate he had with someone on The Dick Cavett Show. If he showed that level of resourcefulness against George W. Bush, he'd probably win hands-down.
Like that title? Thank Jon Stewart, though I have no idea how The Daily Show can repeatedly use the word “douchebag” without getting in at least a little trouble. Makes me think of when they forgot to bleep “fuckers” a few weeks ago. I think that was on a Thursday—the next Monday, Stewart said something along the lines of, “We thought that [with all the Janet Jackson stuff] we'd get a call. But you know what? Nobody called!”
Always good to know the FCC is paying attention. Yeah, they basically give cable a free ride, in my opinion. On the other hand, I think the broadcast networks can get held back a bit too much from time to time. Well, except Fear Factor is on NBC. Sheesh, I don't know. I'm just generally displeased with television these days. Just give me PBS, TechTV, The History Channel, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network, and I'll be happy. Okay, there are a few other shows I like. Say, Monk and Las Vegas.
Well, I just did my phone interview for that Medtronic position. I think it went well, though I imagine they'll have more qualified people anyway. I haven't used some of the software that they mentioned. But, those pieces are only moderately important, I think… Still, the position is only a month or so, though it's theoretically contract-to-hire (at least, that was the initial impression I was given).
Well, I have some errands to run today. I plan to finally buy an iron and ironing board, get a haircut, copy my cable bill so I can get that deduction when I pay rent, and maybe pay some other bills. Hmm. I should get one of those 12-pocket folders so I can save my pile of old bills somewhere.
Well, it had to happen. A year after I move in here, I finally opened the drawer to an end table thingy that I sort of inherited when my roommates and I were kicked out of our old place. I found a copy of Memento (probably Adam & Kari's) and a few sleeves for holding beer bottles or cans (those would be Erin's). I'll return the items to their respective owners soon, but right now I've got to make sure I'm ready for my interviews today.
Those positions that were listed in the e-mail were the positions of the people who were interviewing me, not jobs I was being interviewed for. Some days, my brain just doesn't want to see that left is left and right is right. Oh well. Later today, I will send a follow-up e-mail to the contact person I have at the company.
Yay! My bathtub spigot drips no longer. Woo! Spigot! Spigot! Spigot! I was beginning to wonder if the maintenance guys would ever show up…