Just saw on the news that security (the physical kind) is going to be tight on UMN's campuses the rest of the week. Big genetic conference going on, and they're expecting protests. They've basically shut down access to the St. Paul campus, though I doubt anything similar will happen on the Minneapolis side, as it's a major throughfare for commuters going to/from downtown.
Well, I decided to mke2fs the damn thing.. Apparently, something exploded on my hard drive and threw random bits everywhere. I wrote a tiny program to try and find the 0xEF53 magic number marking a superblock -- found nothing in 1GB of data. I'm still trying to figure that one out especially considering that I did a byte-by-byte check. I should have gotten back hundreds or thousands or millions of false positives, but I got nothing.
I dd'd the first meg or so of the disk, found all sorts of aincent garbage (OnTrack disk manager, anyone?). Perhaps the kernel exploded after hitting the 5% reserved space for root... Hmm.. Found some text files that got turned into binary files from all of the flying bits. Oh well, at least it wasn't important data, and I do have a lot of it backed up on a CD somewhere..
Some of the corruption may have hit my /usr partition as well. MP3s were not playing nicely from XMMS. I ran `rpm -V xmms' and discovered that libmpg123.so had a bad md5sum. I just hope there aren't more problems.. Hmm.. Perhaps this had something to do with the solar flares (though I'd put that at about 3% probability). Maybe I need more shielding...
I'm probably going to write up several mini-howtos so my users can figure out how to mount their home directories via SMB, print to the Novell printers, and use SSH instead of telnet. Pretty generic, but who knows how well things will work. Also, I played around with the login scripts on our main Solaris box. People can now safely get bash running by creating a ~/.iwantbash file. I couldn't just change /etc/passwd to point to /usr/local/bin/bash, because there are other systems in the NIS domain that are Linux boxen with /bin/bash instead. Also, people can get GNU ls to work in color now with a ~/.iwantcolorls file. Hopefully, I put everything in the right place so the scripts people have written won't be broken..
*Yawn* *stretch* Ooh.. Actually did some work today. Did some more mangling on login scripts. What a mess those things are. However, I am really beginning to like RedHat's /etc/profile.d idea. I can just make tiny scriptlets and have them get run from either /etc/profile or /etc/bashrc (since it's an either-or situation when you start a shell, AFAICT). I suppose I'll be tinkering on über-scripts that can startup both Solaris and Linux pretty soon. Then again, I shouldn't play too much, since I won't actually have an opportunity to test them (users get a tad peeved when the system reboots in the middle of a week-long run of data analysis..). Oh well.
One of my roommates is coming to the apartment to visit. Yeah, he's not living here this summer. Stayed at home. Whatever. Of course, myself and the other roommate that are around here are happy he's coming, since his car works and we can finally go buy some food. It's either that or try your luck on some 7-month-old beef in the freezer. We're planning on going to X-Men this weekend, and I have another friend I should invite to come along. I hope I'll remember.
Found some school songs encoded in .au and .ra format on the Marching Band's homepage. I think I'll vorbize them, though I don't know how well 8-bit mono works..
I had a refreshing weekend. Went out to see X-Men with two of my roommates and another friend on Friday -- very good show. Actually ate real food over the weekend, which was a nice change (our primary vehicle was down, so we hadn't been to the supermarket for a few weeks). However, I wish I'd had a decent chance to do some hacking..
Today I continued mucking around with login scripts -- that task will probably never end.. Solaris doesn't set $USER.. How weird. Oh well, I suppose it's not a big deal.
I played around with bash prompts a little too much. Man, tinkering with a cool color prompt can be really fun. Unfortunately, I have other stuff to do.
We're currently looking to find a cross-platform (well, just Solaris and Linux) backup solution. Right now, we're backing up the Solaris boxes with ufsdump, and the Linux boxes aren't getting backed up. We have BRU, though I'm not sure if we have enough licenses for the whole server cluster. I'll have to see if Amanda is a good choice, though we'll probably need to add SSL support.
We just put Samba on a few of our Solaris servers. It's working fine, but people are having trouble finding them in the browse lists. I'm not sure how stable SMB workgroups are when you have a large number of nodes. Many hosts seem to fade in and out of existence. We talked to the NT guys and they say that they have problems too. I'm sure that being on a /21 network doesn't help. NMB lookups still work, and a person can just type in `\\server\share', so I guess it's not a big deal.
I should really keep writing some documentation for the RLG Security Project that I'm trying to coordinate. At least I'm writing some similar documentation for my users at work, so maybe it won't be a big problem..
Hey, djcb, fix your last entry -- you're missing a double-quote mark..
Went to the Twin Cities ``Rockin' Ribfest'' today and got a half rack of Roscoe's ribs, some fresh lemonade, and a Dove bar. All for $20.. Eesh. Yet another one of those *fests that that requires you to buy using tickets rather than paying in cash. But it was good.
I rode my bike there and back. There's a fairly nice half gravel/half asphalt road going along a railroad right-of-way. The road basically goes under all of the traffic, which is a much more pleasant way of getting places, IMHO. However, the road is suffering from potholes and washboarding. My arms were getting thoroughly tenderized for a while.
It would be really nice if the University would put a real bike path down there and connect it to the new bike/pedestrian bridge they just installed. One of these days.
I haven't gotten around to working on my bus schedule thing much today, though maybe I'll do something after Futurama and The Simpsons. However, I was pleased that I actually got Evolution to compile and run. Now I've got to try my luck at Nautilus..
One of the things that I worry about with Advogato is that the diary area could be prone to DoS-ing of various kinds. Individuals could presumably plaster diary entries all over the place, or post pages and pages of junk at a time. I imagine there are some checks for this already, but there's almost always a way around it.
Oh, I have a few mail-related problems. One is that I just started using procmail to filter my mail. Locally, I run an IMAP server so it's easier to view mail with disparate clients. Also, I think my mail actually gets loaded faster, as Netscape is not the most efficient at reading/parsing mailbox files. Anyway, I still have to find a way to get procmail to notify the IMAP server that it just dumped mail into a certain folder. Then, the IMAP server must be able to notify my client that there is new mail. This isn't happening automagically, and I'm not sure how to get it to work correctly. I suppose I may have to start using a different IMAP server or something.
In other news, I need to find a good way to consolidate mail at my workplace. Well, my mail doesn't matter, since I'm an admin and can basically do anything I want. However, the head of my department basically wants all mail to go through Lotus Notes (Domino?). I believe it is my task to now find a good way to get Notes to interoperate with my system and the Linux/Unix desktops of others in the organization. I imagine that the server can just run POP or (preferably) IMAP through stunnel. Then, any decent client can read the mail. However, calendaring still remains a bit of an issue, though Lotus is (or at least was) a supporter of the iCalendar protocol, which Evolution is going to support. My only question is, does Lotus actually support iCalendar or not?
I went and rotated LinuxSecurity.com's Linux security quick reference card. I couldn't get it to print nicely when dumping the PostScript version directly to our printers. A simple `-90 rotate' and some tweaking of a `translate' command and everything was peachy-keen. It doesn't display right in gv, but that's not a big deal.
My job today is to set up all of the Novell print queues on one Linux box. Then, everybody can print with Unix lpr/lpd pointed at the Linux box. Saves me the trouble of setting up IPX on all of the client boxes, but that's just two lines in /etc/rc.d/rc.local anyway..
Well, it's the end of July. August cometh. The Minnesota State Fair will be starting soon. (It's the first or second biggest, IIRC. If it's second, it's probably only behind Texas or something. Not bad for a state of 5 million) That's cool. School will also be starting in about a month. That's not so cool. I also need to exercise and practice for Marching Band.
Stress is building. I wish I had a gf to help me relieve that, but maybe having a gf would just make life even more stressful...
It rained tonight, quite hard. It rained much harder a while back, and there was a small leak. Today, it seemed as though the entire wall was leaking, seemingly coming throgh the window, streaming down the walls, and dripping all over. It actually wasn't as bad as that sounds, but I'm sure it will get worse if I don't say something. I'll have to talk to the management tomorrow. Sigh.
I had trouble getting up again this morning. I took a long nap after work yesterday, but then I stayed up very late mucking on IRC and doing other stuff. I decided to telecommute and have ended up having a very unproductive morning. I'm sure I'd be much more productive if I could just find some extra stimuli in my life. At least in High School I was forced to interact with people every day. At college, people aren't crammed so closely together, so they don't interact as much, or at least I don't.
Anyway, spent too much of my time reading Sinfest, which is really funny if you don't mind poking fun at God, swearing, and references to the sexual mentalities surrounding us these days.
I'm going to head out to actually work at work soon. The boss and I are a little worried that our developers are going to start using Microsoft J++ for communicating with the eventually-will-be-installed Oracle database. He gave me a copy of J++ to try out, in order for me to see if it's possible to actually produce something resembling pure Java with it. Unfortunately, my NT box is fairly underpowered, at least for NT4SP5 (P133 w/ 64MB RAM). I'm feeling masochistic, so I'm going to give Win2k a shot. My P166/128MB Linux box is extremely nice and snappy in comparison, though I really need to find a good video card for it (800x600 is becoming tiresome).
I'm displeased with my building's management right now. As I was walking out, I saw that we had a notice slid under the door stating that we owe $50 plus $25 penalty. Dunno what it's for, but I'll have to bring up my leaky wall when we talk to them about it.. Unfortunately, they keep relatively inaccessible hours like 9:00-4:30 or something, so I'll have to come to work late or leave work early some day. Blah.
I think I finally found something to hack on -- porting Secure Locate to Solaris. It's a small codebase, so it shouldn't take too long, though I'll have to read a bunch of man pages to refresh my memory about all of those functions. I think I'll be annotating a lot of source, too..
I'm annoyed with [X]Emacs, and *vi*, so I was looking around for decent editors. gIDE seems to be coming along nicely, and the syntax highlighting actually works (though it seems slow...). Finally, a text editor where I don't have to have a QWERTY keyboard (*vi*) or learn horrendous keystrokes ([X]Emacs). Not perfect, but it's something I can live with.
Oops.. I'd better quit before I start an editor war..
Somewhat disappointed that there was no mention of the multi-State suit against Big Music on the national news tonight. I guess it's not surprising, but it sure seems to prove the biases we believe to be out there these days. In a similar vein, it's amazing what is happening in China. I mean, the son of the President of the country is running a Linux company over there. It's basically impossible for interesting things to not happen because of this.
I've said too much today.. I'll be quiet now.
The 12 Coins Problem: It's really easy if you have a balance with 3 platters. You can even do it in two weighings..
Oooh.. here we go -- ``The A&E guide to the late summer big studio movie toilet. Approach with caution.'' Space Cowboys: How bad is it? James Garner seems to be edging his way off the set. The Replacements: Survival Tip: You won't. Take strychnine.
Sometimes, the campus newspaper just rocks ;-)
Anyway, I'm really impressed with the level of political debate in the US these days (and it's amusing to watch the coverage of the Reform Party convention ;-). I think Nader (and the others too) is really getting people talking. Of course, this begs the question -- how many people are going to be in the debates? I remember that there were some debates already, just involving the Democratic and Republican candidates. IIRC, the Republicans had 5 candidates, and the moderator was making a valiant but vain attempt to keep order. That many candidates is very difficult to handle. But I think that if you let in Nader, it's only right to let in others, namely Buchanan (who I hate, just so you know) and Browne (and there are probably others). This is an interesting year, though the primary candidates are very un-interesting (IMHO).
The electricians are apparently going to take quite a while to get the three new 30A plugs in. They managed to do the conduit for one of the plugs yesterday. That's about it. Oh well, we plugged our Sun E425R into some regular jacks for the time being. Still crunching Seti@home packets instead of serving an Oracle DB. We still don't know when that will happen. We don't know what tools will be used in the database project, so the Oracle people won't come and install the db. I have to help research Java development environments. Oh fun.
Finally moved some data over and started using my 60 GB drive. I'm not sure how well ReiserFS is doing it's job, but the drive is extremely quiet. Nice. At work, I'm still torturing myself with an 800x600 display. I think this is part of the reason why I'm having trouble getting work done -- I can't get enough stuff on the screen at once to see what I'm doing.
Enough rambling. Time to do some work.
Note to self: Learn how multicast works, and why my boxen will pick up all of the multicast data from a Ghost session when they aren't running Ghost clients. I'm not exactly sure how much extraneous data is getting pumped into my boxes right now, but the disk on my Debian box sure filled up quick by logging all of it. Debian has some pretty tight rules when it comes to firewalling, and they seem a little too tight right now...
I think I finally figured out why my NT box was so slow -- it was compressing all of the files on the hard disk. That would explain why the Cygwin installation took several hours...
I agreed to come into work early (~7:00 AM) to let the electricians into the server room. Oh fun. Better get to sleep soon if I have any chance of getting up in time.
I'm annoyed with myself for not getting into programming as much as I'd like. I'm not a whiz at it, but I'm not exactly a blockhead about it either. Oh well, I'll be taking some CSci classes starting next month, so maybe I'll become inspired..
I guess part of my problem is that there are so many different things that I'm interested in, and I can't focus on a single one very well. I spend a lot of time reading about this, that, and the other. Hours of my day are spend on news sites (both Computer news and Real Life news). I guess I just have to become less interested in the outside world and more interested in my local world, or something.
A girlfriend would help with that. I think. It's not like I have a lot of experience in that area... Blah.
Went home for a little bit. Tried to go to an `all-school' reunion, which was really dull as I was probably the youngest person there (most people there graduated in the 50's, 60's and 70's, I think). Oh well, got some decent food.
We have this research box at work. I was told that it was for `fraud detection', which I thought meant that it was some sort of honeypot box for detecting crackers (or at least script kiddies). I completely forgot that there is such a thing as financial fraud, which is what the box is for. Makes sense, as the box is in the business school.
Anyway, the main guy that actually uses this box for doing research is apparently back from summer vacation or something. He tried accessing it, but couldn't because there is a rule somewhere on one of our routers blocking that IP (I get `!X's when doing traceroutes from the box). Of course, nobody wants to take the blame/responsibility for it, and I couldn't get the block removed (well, the main networking people said it wasn't their problem, and the guys here say that they didn't do anything either). Changed the IP address, and now we have to see if the DNS entry can be changed..
I hope I will be able to do some more fiddling with radar data, though I don't know if I will be able to do anything this week (Marching Band starts on Thursday), and I don't even know what their schedule is for producing unencrypted data. I might just have to wait until the end of next month.
Well, it turns out that the central networking people foobared -- they actually were blocking the above-mentioned system. I guess it got broken into a month ago. I'll have to see if I can pull down a [rd]ecent Linux ISO of some kind to do a reinstall. Maybe Mandrake..
I had to try and figure out how to back up the system in a reasonable manner. tar is supposed to support running over some sort of remote shell, but none of the commands I tried would work. In theory, you should be able to do something like `tar cvIf user@host:/path/to/archive.tar.bz2 /path/to/archive', which would be really cool, IMHO.
Well, I haven't been keeping up with this. Being sick for a month doesn't help things.. Oh well, I'll have to see if I can get back on this horse.
I totally screwed up a CSci assignment today. I was supposed to download a Word(!) document, fill in relevant parts, and hand it in.. Oh well, it's still early in the year, and I still have plenty of time to make up for stupid mistakes. Hopefully, I'm done with stupid mistakes for this semester.
I don't know what it is, but school really seems to take a lot out of me. Even if I don't do anything (or maybe it's because I don't do anything), I get really tired. I should really get into an exercise routine (heh, like that'll happen).
The exciting event over the weekend was that Ralph Nader had a fairly large rally here on Friday. I paid my $7 to get in. Apparently, 12000 people is (or was as of Friday, they're still having rallies) the largest gathering of individuals paying to listen to a Presidential candidate. Not that it means we gave a whole lot of money -- they got about $110k (entry cost plus donations once in the door). Still, it's a much better deal for me than those $25k/plate dinners that some candidates have (*cough* *cough*).
Anyway, I'm having all sorts of fun bashing Sun here at work. We can't figure out how to use the 100Base-T network card in our new server. Fun. My boss had hooked up our tape drive to the system without realizing it only ran at 10Mb. Our backups are running several times slower these days.
As always, I keep hoping that I'll get motivated to help out on some open source projects. Someday it'll happen..
Found out about a semi-new TV channel in town, KSTC 45. There have been all of these strange `Hi, I'm Gregory and I'm 45' posters and ads all over town. It's kind of neat, as it is supposed to be an independent station with a local focus. Unfortunately, they're owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, a company that owns about 10 stations (and they at least used to have a DBS network). It's just hard to call a station like that `independent' (of course, they mean that it will not have a network affiliation
Well, well, well. I was disappointed in the US Presidential debates. Only 2 candidates. Sheesh.
There was a small rally on campus for Nader, which I participated in. We got about 75 people. Not huge, but decent. There were a few reporters (at least one each for newspaper, radio, and TV), but I haven't seen much coverage yet [picture]. There have been polls saying that about 75% of the public thinks that adding a third candidate would have made the debates more interesting. I understand that Dan Rather essentially called last night's debates a snorefest...
Anyway, on to some non-political stuff. For one of my CSci classes, I (along with a group) have to write some simple malloc() and free() routines. It was really funny how we did most of the development -- Borland Turbo C++ version 3.0 for DOS. DOS does not have sbrk(). DOS does not have 32-bit pointers. Anyway, we moved the files over to a Unix box to finish things up. We got them to compile, and a test program appeared to not crash, so maybe it actually works. At any rate, we still have to put in some code for checking for overruns and underruns (we have special buffers that contain a particular pattern. If the pattern fails somehow, we know that there was a problem). Hopefully we'll get it done by the due date and time (midnight on Thursday).
If only I knew how to get cp437 on the web..
o/~ I want your girlfriend to be my girlfriend... o/~
Dammit.. Way too many unwanted sexual images today. I'm noticing it because I'm depressed about my grades. I got two Cs and two Ds. At this University, a D usually means a failed course. Dammit. I was depressed this past semester, and unmotivated. I really didn't want to deal with differential equations again, but they forced it upon me. Why can't they just drop the math? Dammit.
My Dad's coming up tomorrow, basically to get me out of the apartment, I guess. He'll also probably try to do some amateur psychology. Not really looking forward to it, but I really do need to get out of this place for a while. Maybe I can get to a decent movie or something.
I'm really introverted, and I don't get into social situations as much as I should. Even when I'm in them, I don't say much, but just being around others and not being forced out of the loop makes me feel better and reminds me that these carbon entities that pass by me every day actually have brains.
I'm enjoying my work life, and I can't complain about my generous parents. I just wish that I'd had the strength to get to know some of the girls I went to High School with. I ended up fixating on one, which I'll probably never forgive myself for. I'm scared to death that she might be scared to death of me.
I just listened to ``Pink Moon'' by Nick Drake. It's a song that makes me wonder about what my classmates have done in their lives, as the song was featured in a Volkswagen ad a year or so ago. You may recall it -- several friends are driving along the road at night, enjoying the open air (since the top was down). They arrive at a party, where a drunk guy stumbles past their headlights. The friends in the car look at each other, then pull away from the party and continue driving around.
I've been to one party in my entire life. I'm definitely much more like the people in the Volkswagen than the folks at the party.
Anyway, I suppose I should actually put something about computers in here. I think I'll have to re-work some of my ideas behind the wireless ethernet firewall. Now I think that the bridge is a little too low-level. MAC addresess can be spoofed, after all. I think I'll use a combination of MAC address and IP filtering, plus VPN through PoPToP or something similar.
Still having trouble with SCSI on the Ultra 30. Also having trouble with software RAID. It destroys the partition tables on the second and third disks in the 3-disk array. The drive just has one big partition, so I may just do it `raw' without any partitions to deal with (/dev/sdX instead of /dev/sdXN).
Wondering if I should report a bug to someone on that.. The disks were using Sun disklabels. Maybe there's a bug that applies to non-DOS partitioning schemes..
Tried putting in an Adaptec 2940UW, but that didn't appear to work. The kernel module just loops forever on initialization, trying to reset the SCSI bus so it can see all of the devices (just a DLT drive). Oh well. Just find a card more appropriate for a Sun, I guess.
Back in the real world, the whole apartment is having an interesting time getting to know a cute girl I've mentioned before. We all gladly drop whatever we're doing when we know she's going to be around. We're all crazy, I guess. I just hope we don't end up doing anything stupid..
I can't understand my Automata professor
No wonder this is my third time taking that class..
Haven't posted for a few days. Been somewhat busy with homework and, well, being lazy. Currently seeing if I can compile octave-mpi again or not.
Too bad `make -jN' doesn't always work. I suppose people don't like having to set up the proper dependency structures for it..
Stalled too much on homework this weekend. Got it mostly done, but not as good as I could have done. Something just seemed to be missing for me after a while.
I suppose James Randi could probably debunk it easily, but it's interesting that the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton apparently can see changes in the output of random number generators when big events happen, suggesting that thought or emotion can somehow affect the physical world.
I've wondered a lot about my place in the world. Probably any conscious being would do the same. There are the thoughts where you wonder about where, when, and why. Is the world real, or some sort of test for a soul or a mind?
Maybe I read too much sci-fi as a kid, though I think I just identified with it. But it probably had a negative impact, too.
I probably believe a little too much in fate. I just expect certain things to happen in my life. I'll get a girlfriend someday, and things will just happen, right? Unfortunately, it hasn't `just happened' yet. Which all probably just screws up my worldview and makes me feel like I got left out or something, somewhere didn't click when it was supposed to.
I tend to get like this after I've spent too much time sequestered in my room. I need to get out of the apartment more, see more people, and probably get out of town. Again, timing lands in my way. I was hoping to see Zoolander with friends this weekend, but it sounds like they'll be going next weekend, when I'm planning to go home for a few days.
Dammit dammit dammit dammit..
Went home for the weekend, a nice diversion. Sort of. Got some music: Coldplay - Parachutes, Third Eye Blind - Blue, and Weezer - The Green Album. Mellow stuff..
Also picked up copies of Linux Journal and LinuxFormat. LXF seems chock-full of goodies, but it's spendy since it comes with two CDs and it's from across the pond..
I was successful in my Automata test today. Either the tests are a lot easier this time around, or I'm actually understanding the subject matter. Third time's the charm, I guess.
Internet Programming is still an interesting class. I'm learning much more than I was initially expecting. Sometimes, it's good to have a good teacher tell you what's going on, rather than trying to figure it out by yourself from disparate sources. Certainly, the interactivity of classes is useful.
Feeling decidedly un-interactive with the government and people making decisions about what is going on in Afghanistan. I was somehow hoping we could take a moral high ground of some sort and focus on the humanitarian goal of helping these people out while learning to respect their points of view -- why they hate or dislike us.
Now that bombs have dropped and missiles have flown in, I'm hoping that it was just the opening move in an intricate chess game including many different aspects. We need to put people on the ground, whether they are military or aid workers of some kind. Throughout all of the actions taken, we need to work to uphold the ideals put forth in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and other foundational documents.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Democracy, equality, free speech, and free trade.
The US shouldn't be in the country-building `business,' but we appear to be falling into that role. This nation certainly has limits, and we can't be a global policeman or carpenter or whatever forever. It all takes time, money and energy that we don't have endless stores of. We can do a lot, certainly, but it shouldn't get out of hand, either.
Life is often about striking balances, finding the middle ground. Politicians may be a little too good at this sometimes (actually, they're not -- they're just vague enough to fake it). I know we can help build a stronger, more tolerant Afghanistan. Hell, how much money will it take to replace those bombs and missiles we sent in? I'd rather that money get spent on building rather than destroying.
Tried to get the shower flowing again, without much luck. Tried some off-brand de-gunking fluid that may have not been the best solution.. Flow rate may have improved slightly, but not much.
Time to empty the dishwasher, I think...
Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..
I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..
Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..
I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.
It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..
In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.
I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..
There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.
Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..
Need to write a chat client/server combo in Perl. They must allow asynchronous communication, which probably involves fork()ing and other stuff.
Must be done by tomorrow midnight.
If it weren't for Thanksgiving, the University wouldn't let us go home all semester. Only two more days of classes, then I get a four-day weekend.
Gah! I just keep having trouble. I'm getting stuck in a rut again, where I just can't stop feeling sorry for myself for not having a girlfriend. Unfortunately, that's one thing that won't get much better when I go home. The change of scenery will do me good, but there's about zero chance of me meeting someone.
Dammit.. Automata and I just don't get along. This is the third time taking that course, and I just might make it through this time. Sucks rocks.
Looks like I'll get an A in Internet Programming by hardly trying. Taking a `work factors analysis' course that I'll probably tank. Then there's this strange business school course I'm taking. I should pass it, but we get nearly zero feedback in the course. One assignment, two exams. The average time I'll spend on each exam will probably be around 20 minutes. Very weird.
Sarah surprised us by showing up after work. She needed cheering up as her boss was picking on her for some stupid reason. I guess she spent a lot of time ripping out and replacing an audio console at the theater where she works (`theater' as in plays, not movies).
Dunno what she can do about her boss, but I figured that she should get an ego boost if she can show off the work she's done. I guess she doesn't know who to show it to, though.
Well, I think about her too much, so I should stop. When I think about what to say to her, I tend to get stuck. I walked into the room last night with no idea of what to say. That works so much better for me, which seems strange.
Crap.. Now I really need to stop.
Life is sucking, but I picked up some music today. Take off Your Pants and Jacket - Blink 182, and The Invisible Band - Travis. I like most of the Blink 182 CD, and it is up-tempo at least.. I wish they could cut down on the raunch a little, as I really hate getting reminded that I can't get any.. The Travis disc is much more subdued, but still good.
Disappointed yet again by the cost of stuff. I thought I had the grand idea of using a PC104-based system to decode an Ogg Vorbis/MP3 stream in the apartment. I've wanted to have some way to keep music always playing in the apartment, with people voting for what they want, etc. Hopefully a nice random song picker as well. Something that would reduce `train wrecks' that happen when jumping between disparate genres would be wonderful.
Anyway, when I saw the prices one place had for piddly 386 boards with 2MB of RAM, I choked. Perhaps they were old prices, but I was hoping to get the whole thing put together for, say $150. Perhaps sans hard disk.. Anyway, looks like that's not going to happen..
What the hell is with our weather? It's the 17th of December, and there is no snow in Minneapolis.
My first final is tomorrow. Haven't studied yet.
One final down, one to go. Need to do some work after my final tomorrow, and I should probably go shopping for some gifts.
Not much hacking going on, though I might do some work on an XMMS plugin (or something) for using the IR port on my Live!Drive IR to control music playback. Shouldn't be too hard to do, though someone will probably beat me to it.
Too bad I had to have the thing for a year and a half before I actually get to use it. I still think it's funny that the IR port is a MIDI device ;-)
With the Sarah situation, things are going alright. Nothing to speak of, just `normal'.. I figure that's the best thing for me right now anyway. Don't want to swing too much one way or another, or I'll drive myself nuts over the break. I just hope it stays that way..
bjf: All I can say is that most Americans are ignorant of the situation. The only coverage I've seen of it is in the print news (well, whatever shows up in Yahoo's most-emailed and most-viewed content). Then again, I've been watching TV news much less (usually only The Daily Show, if anything).. Amazingly, I'm still the most-informed person I know. Then again, college students tend to have plenty of other things to worry about. At the U of MN, a very large number of students work -- I guess the administration believes it's to the point of distraction, as the U has something like a 50% 6-year graduation rate.. I can't speak for any other communitites.
There are people who take an interest in that stuff, though. It's not something I think too much about. IIRC, Nader got somewhere around 20% of the votes on-campus in last year's presidential race. But I suppose that doesn't prove anything.
My brother and I came home yesterday. We brought the car up in early November, expecting to just keep it a week. I thought we'd have too many Snow Emergencies for the car to be easy to keep around, but only one big snow came (and that was just a few days after the car went up). Still bare ground in Minneapolis.
My mom mentioned that one of the instructors I had in confirmation class spoke up at a church service the other day to voice disapproval of bombing Afghanistan since, well, the Bible says faithful people should be peacemakers and shouldn't condone violence. I'm not really a religous person myself, though I agree with that idea.. At any rate, he's been known to voice his opinions pretty loudly in the past. I guess the pastoral staff wrote a long response in the subsequent church newsletter...
There are sane people in this world, just most of them are hiding :-p
What the?!? dammit..
Finally got our Cyclades 8-port serial terminal server (TS800) working at work. I think, unfortunately, it was all a simple matter of having the ports numbered in the opposite direction on the front as on the back. I'd noticed this on my ethernet switch a month ago..
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 +---------------+ | | | | +---------------+ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
That seems so dumb.. I never think of rotating the thing 180° -- I figured that the lights on the front would directly correspond to the ports on the back.
Sheesh, this box should have been working months ago..
Anyway, I figured it out because we finally got some RJ45<->DB9 and RJ45<->DB25 adapters, though I have to wire them up myself. Discovered that the cables that work are not normal null-modem/crossover cables. They're similar, but they don't use the `standard' cabling. I'm not sure why it works. At any rate, I built an adapter that is wired like the cable that works, and another wired like how Cyclades says things should work. I hope at least one of them works, but if they both work, I'm not sure what to do..
I wish serial crossover was like ethernet crossover, where you don't have to splice any wires together..
Looks like Dell shipped my order yesterday (probably around midnight or something), four days earlier than they estimated. I guess they have some leeway in their estimates. Of course, the annoying thing is that it'll probably get to Minneapolis on Friday or Saturday, meaning that it can't get delivered until Monday.
Sarah and Josh went up north to visit her family. They'll be back Thursday, but that probably won't make me feel any better.
Need to find out when the CSci advisor is available... Crappy grades..
Strange. Mozilla was jumping down a page whenever I pressed the spacebar when I tried to write earlier... Lotus Notes seems to cause Mozilla to have some funky behaviors..
Registered for two classes. One is a class I took before, got a D in it, so it didn't count. The other is a writing-intensive course (meaning that I have to write a few pages of stuff per week, generally) -- Ethical and Legal Issues in Computing. I need to get a new printer. Smeary bubblejet gunk just isn't going to cut it -- I think I need a laser. Dammit, those actually cost money.
I contacted the professor teaching a real-time systems course, as I need approval to take the class. I guess he has some lab stations set up with PlayStations, PCs, some input devices, and even `active' chairs for force-feedback of a sort. I don't know if the professor will let me in, and I know it would be challenging as I've never done such low-level programming before.
I'm on waiting lists for a few other classes. So damn close to graduating, but I won't be able to fit it all in this semester. I'd have to take 6 courses -- all Computer Science! Talk about a death wish.. Stupid classes are only worth 3 credits.
I talked to the undergraduate advisor about my problems, saying that I couldn't understand the professor in class. I think he believed that I couldn't comprehend the subject matter that was being taught, and told me that I should visit more office hours. But, I meant what I said -- I can't understand my professors a lot of the time. Excuse me for thinking that my professors should speak English.
I guess I should have tried to go to a smaller school. I think there are generally more Americans teaching in them.. But what do I know?
Ahh.. Feeling much better today. Turns out that the F I got was due to a missing grade on a paper I did. The professor still had the paper, so he recalculated my grade. B+
We also finally got the wireless network converted over to the system I invented.. It's pretty cheesy, but it works. It restricts traffic to people who have a University x.500 ID, though nothing gets encrypted or anything yet.
I chatted with Sarah online the other day, and things kind of tumbled out (well, she sort of asked). Logically, I know things can't work out the way I want them to, but hopefully we'll be able to talk about it and find some happy medium.
So, it's not the best day of my life, but I'm definitely feeling a thousand times better than I was just a few days ago.
Well, I still haven't installed X 4.2.0 on my laptop. It's compiled, but I don't want to install it and toast my current packaging setup. I'd really like to see some .debs soon, but I don't know where to look for those..
Classes start tomorrow. I have to be somewhere at 8:15, and I need to look up where to go for some of the classes that I'm on waiting lists for.. It's going to be a looong day tomorrow..
Anyway, I've learned quite a lot in the last week about Sarah and me. I've written a bunch of stuff in a private diary about the junk going through my head. There's a lot of it that is just junk, but I hope it helped me figure things out.
I talked about stuff with my roommate and I hope I've found why I find her so interesting. I identify with her a lot -- we're both fairly similar emotionally, and I know what it's like for her when she just isn't feeling `worthy.' I don't know what needs to be done for either of us to get us out of those emotional holes sometimes, but I might be in a better position to help than the other people she knows.
We also have some strangely similar tastes in food and other things, but I suppose that might just be random.. We're also the only two people that hang around the apartment that like to say `pop' instead of `soda,' so it's kind of funny to have us stand against everyone else ;-)
At any rate, my roommate thinks that Sarah and I have an interesting ability to communicate. Well, she is someone who actually gets me to step away from the computer for a minute. I guess I'm not really sure what to think about that.
I actually mentioned some stuff to Sarah.. I told her that I wished I had a girlfriend like her. I'm not really sure what she thought of that -- of all things, I had to tell her over AIM.. Anyway, she told me that she was sure I'd find someone, someone smarter than her :-)
That was kind of funny, since that's the only real thing I don't like about her.. I was just surprised that she mentioned it..
Anyway, I slowly beginning to understand us, figuring out what I want, and what I can and can't have in the end.. We can be friends, and I'm sure we can get pretty close -- but there are things that just shouldn't happen between us. I just hope I haven't overstepped already, and that things will just get better as time goes by.
I hope I can remember this stuff, too, as I'm pretty sure it's about as close as I can come to finding the truth. It's going to take time to understand it fully, and I know I can be forgetful sometimes.
Just had about the weirdest day of my life. Second day of classes, and I actually talked.. I'm taking some courses at the business school, and about half of the class is Computer Science students! What the hell? I think I was the only CS major in the previous class I took there.
Bumped into Sarah as she was coming out of a class, and helped her find an office to get a permission number to get into that course.. Showed off where I work, but only for a moment (I didn't really have anything interesting to show off...)
Discovered that Internet Explorer apparently doesn't like self-generated SSL certificates at all... Need to actually pay for a certificate at some point, or find a workaround.
Anyway, it's just been a weird day. I've been overstimulated by the talking in class and stuff.. My courses look to be pretty intensive. I know that my previous classes have been hard, but it wasn't obvious on the first day of class.. I guess I'm not sure how these classes really stack up..
Still waiting on permission numbers for two classes.. Not sure what will happen there.
Gotta cut down on using my laptop for web browsing. Using the scratchpad doesn't seem to be good for my wrist..
Bleh.. Tired. These 8:15 and 9:05 classes are going to kill me, or at least turn me into a zombie..
So much crap to do.. At least nothing is due for about a week, but I still better get cracking..
Had to deal with a stupid chirping fire alarm today. The thing kills batteries for some reason. Anyway, had maintenance come up and replace it, and they even took away the doors we took off of the closet over a year ago. With the doors on, you can't even fit jackets into the closet, so they're basically useless.. At any rate, it gives us another few inches in the den area, since they were stuck behind the couch.
I managed to get the old P100 that was sitting in a corner connected back up to the big stereo in the apartment. It's running ESD and listening over the network, so I can use my laptop with wireless and send decoded music out to some nice big speakers. Of course, now I just need to find some decent music to play ;-)
Been listening to the Ogg Vorbis streams for the BBC's Radio 1. They can suck just as much as the stations around here, but they don't have ads and they play different music, so they suck in different ways ;-) At any rate, they still play some good dance music -- a genre that is severely lacking here in the US, IMO..
Posted to Slashdot about that Kenwood Music Keg. Too bad it doesn't actually play Oggs yet. I guess PalmOS 5 is coming out soon, and will be on the ARM platform, so maybe some good decoding routines for ARM processors will show up soon.
Still waiting for XFree86 4.2.0 packages to show up for Debian. I really really hope it finds it's way into woody, though I suppose I shouldn't get my hopes up. Oh well, it's perfectly alright with me to keep my laptop running testing in perpetuity...
Anyway, I suppose I should actually try to start on my Computer Graphics homework..
Having a bit of a crummy evening. I was tired this morning, and decided not to go to class. That was probably a bad move, and I stayed inside pretty much the whole day. Sarah and Josh brought me along to try out the Leaning Tower of Pizza that just opened downstairs. The pizza's pretty good, probably worth the price. As good as Papa John's is, I need some variety in my pizza diet ;-)
Anyway, I got reminded of things I didn't want to be reminded of while sitting across from Josh and Sarah. Blech.
Need to get some homework done soon. I'll have a busy weekend writing code or doing other work in pretty much all of my classes. I need to get some motivation to do that stuff. Not sure what the best place to do my work is. I've been doing a lot of stuff on my laptop these days, though I think it's probably easier to do programming on my desktop, where I have two monitors. The downside is that I can't relax on the couch with it ;-) Then again, even the laptop is annoying to deal with on the couch.
...And I do worry about the radio waves emananting from it into my legs.. I suppose it doesn't make me feel any better when the thing warms up to 50 degrees C or better..
Katz is going off on some strange tirade about pre-/post-9/11 movies on Slashdot. It got me thinking (for no good reason--It's a pretty poor review), and I realized I haven't written down my experiences of that day..
I don't remember when I rolled out of bed, but it was later than I wanted. My roommate had woken up and had left the room, so I figured it was time. I climbed into the chair at my computer, powered up the monitors, and started my daily morning browsing. I think I hit Slashdot first, and the top story was the first article of the planes hitting the WTC towers. I tried getting to some news websites, but couldn't get anywhere.
I turned around and powered up the TV and turned it to CNN. With my groggy morning eyes, I saw a wide-angle shot of the towers. It looked entirely fake, but I figured if it was on CNN...
I came out of my room and went into the den. I turned off the music my roommate had started up, and turned on the TV out there. I still wasn't fully awake, and could barely manipulate the remote controls well enough to get it turned to CNN. I tried to tell my roommate what happened, but I didn't know anything. Some big planes had hit the World Trade Center.
Anyway, nobody knew anything, so I took a shower. I can't remember much else that happened. I know that the sky was very clear and blue. I came into the business school building where I work, and saw a huge crowd of students watching TV, but I felt like avoiding the coverage until people actually knew something. I went into my office area and sat down at the computer, trying to do some work, but I was thinking too much.
I was chatting with people on IRC, and was informed when the towers fell. I didn't have a TV at that point, so I didn't know they'd pancaked. I just couldn't imagine it.
Anyway, I sat around at the business school for a while, but I was going a bit stir-crazy. I walked to Taco Bell, about 15 minutes away on foot. On the way there, I saw a small United States flag protruding from a building. September 11th was a primary election day, and the flag was there informing people that they could go vote.
That was probably the last time a flag really made me feel good. It was a puny little thing, only a few inches in size, but it meant so much that morning. I smiled, and kept walking.
I got to Taco Bell. One employee was on the phone, looking out the window at downtown. She said, ``I know they're going to target downtown.'' It never actually happened, but people were worried. Anyway, I ate and tried to remain calm.
I got back to my desk and tried to work again. There were still way too many things racing through my head, plus I got a little worried by the fact that the business school is a very shiny corporate-looking building. I decided to head home.
I got home and spent some time watching coverage, browsing the web and chatting on IRC. That day, classes were supposed to start late for me, around 12:30. I was hearing that they may have canceled classes. Before long, I found they had..
I walked to class, finding a notice on the door saying that classes after noon were canceled. I started heading back to the apartment, but decided to see if my brother was at his dorm room. We got some lunch and hung out for the afternoon, though definitely it wasn't the most entertaining time we'd spent together. I spent most of my time watching TV, while he played Civilization on my computer.
In a lot of ways, it was a very dull day. It was very strange to feel so affected by something that happened half a continent away.
Strangely, the events since then have made me less interested in the news. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to hear about, but it gets drowned out by `The War on Terror'. Hell, I just wish the cable news channels would get rid of all of that extra crap on the screen so I wouldn't have to get reminded of it as I flip through the channels..
Hmm. There are some other things floating around in my head, but a bunch of it has already been posted, so I don't want to re-write it..
Hmm. Haven't posted for a while.. I've been pretty busy with homework for classes and stuff. Stayed up late a few nights, up 'til 3AM or even later. I hope I can get started on homework sooner from now on, but I haven't had much luck with that over the past several years..
I spilled some Mountain Dew on my laptop a few days ago. It only affected the PgUp key in the upper right corner, but it was really annoying. I disassembled the system, bending the keyboard a bit in the process (always read the instructions when first working on a laptop). I haven't been able to fix it -- I've basically just spread sticky liquid around by dribbling water on the keyboard. I hear that a new keyboard is about $45..
Anyway, I should get working on some of my networking homework.
Not a whole lot going on. Avoiding homework. Read all of Mega Tokyo. 1 0w|\| j00 ;-)
Anyway, I suppose I should get to bed. Damn 8:15 classes.
Should really watch C-SPAN more often. I've seen some interesting discussions about civil liberties going on in the last few days.
It sounds like people are starting to wake up, looking past the war propaganda out there these days and starting to really talk about the laws that have been passed, and what might get passed in the future.
I read Michael Moore's book, Stupid White Men, the other day. It's pretty good, pretty funny. I wrote a review of it, though I don't know if it'll show up anywhere.. The book is a bestseller, though, so hopefully this means things are looking up.
I'll be busy tomorrow trying to figure out how to write an OpenGL program in my Computer Graphics course. I really didn't give myself enough time to get it done...
Haven't written for a while.. I've been busy trying to keep from drowning in homework and studying for exams.
Played with CodeWeavers' CrossOver Plugin package, and actually paid for a license. Seems to work pretty well, though I've only used it for QuickTime and Windows Media Player so far. WMP doesn't work right on my laptop (probably because I have a crummy AC'97 sound device), but QuickTime works fine (especially after I set it to always output at 48000Hz).
I've had some of my wishes come to fruition lately, though. I hear that Coca-Cola is looking into producing vanilla-flavored Coke, and Deep Space Nine is going to be on TV tonight. I just hope another wish or two comes true.
Had a hell of a day yesterday.. I was trying to figure out texture mapping for my computer graphics course, but it just didn't happen. I just wasn't able to figure out how to get the appropriate (u, v) coordinates of a texture from a pixel on the screen. I think I just have a fundamental non-understanding of the math involved at the moment..
The annoying thing is that I was avoiding the course for most of college, knowing that it involved math that I didn't like. Finally, I was trying to figure out my schedule for this semester, and it looked like a good choice at the time.. Maybe I should have gone for that real-time systems course, but that might have been even worse...
The next assignment is a ray-tracer, which I'll have to work on every free minute I have, I think..
I'm so disappointed with myself today..
Female voice: Is Dan there?</em>
Me: No. (as I start walking to the whiteboard) Can I take a message?
Female voice: This is Sara (I pick up the marker) from Hillel (I put down the marker). We're having an event tomorrow for Israeli Independence Day. (The image of a riot comes to my head -- of course, there was one just the other week when we won a hockey game..) If he's interested, have him call me at 555-1234.
Me:(Pretending to take the message) ...1234. Okay, I'll pass that along..
Dan's actually an atheist (though he was raised a Jew), but someone got him on Hillel's mailing list. I've been instructed to throw out mailings from them, etc..
My mental imagery is probably out of line, but there has been a lot of chatter between the Israeli and palestinian/Arab communities on campus (as I'm sure has been the case all over the world lately).
It's just weird how the people in these communities interpret the words from those on the other side. Seems like they can't even agree on simple facts. Of course, the conversations are flooded with hearsay. It seems like you'd have to tear down everything -- all of the supposed `knowledge' that people have -- and go back through with independent historians to clear up all of the misconceptions.
We can have peace in the region.. It'll just take a hundred years or so of research...
I've been sleep-deprived along with others.. It gets to be really bad when I have homework that I've procrastinated on, and then I have to stay up really late working on it.. I don't think this would be a problem if I had a regular job and could leave work at work.. Of course, I'm also a person that requires more sleep than the average (well, that's been my experience, at least).
Not sure why, but I tend to need 9-10 hours, but maybe I have other problems that contribute to that. For instance, factor into that the fact that it usually takes me 30 minutes or more to fall asleep. I'm also a fairly light sleeper, so the diesel trucks and buses running by on University Ave. don't really make life any easier..
I tend to sleep really well when I go home. In my childhood, I'd only be awakened by the garbage trucks that came by once a week, weather, and people clanging around in the kitchen.. Now I have to deal with planes and trucks all of the time, plus roommates and neighbors that turn up the volume too much..
I guess it's good that I have to move -- I just hope I can find a place in a quieter neighborhood..
Went out to Audio King and tried to get a Tivoli Audio/Henry Kloss Model Two, but ended up having to order it. I had to live closest to the one Audio King in Minnesota that didn't have it in stock. Anyway.. This morning, I was looking for a nice car stereo, but ended up hunting around for something to use in my room.
The box is supposed to have a great tuner, though the demo box didn't seem to pull in stations as well as I'd hoped. Of course, there are any number of things that can mess up reception even on the best of receivers. It still sounded very good compared to the boxes sitting next to it which cost much more.
At any rate, it should arrive in a few days. I didn't order the subwoofer, but I might get one later. I don't really have the space at the moment, and I felt like a pretty big dork as it was ;-)
At work, we're running around trying to find space in the server room. We got a very large air conditioning unit to go in there. Fortunately it's on wheels, but if it had been taller and wheel-less, we wouldn't have to deal with it taking up so much floor area. We've also got a rack or two of FibreChannel equipment coming in. My boss is frantically looking for a rackmount console for at least one of our Sun systems, and we're running into trouble with our Cyclades TS800 crashing. It seems to not like our Sun Netra X1.
I'm finishing up classes. Took a final for my database course on Wednesday, and I've been helping to put together our presentation for my Financial Information Systems course. Hmm.. I suppose I'll have to dress up a bit tomorrow.
“I just want to get my face out there to somebody,” she said.
Heh.. Yeah, I'm sure they'll remember the face..
Heh. Looks like the most popular thing on my website is this image:
That's from a paper for one of my classes that I wrote with some others, and I guess it's one of only a small number of sources for those covers.
So, I went home. I took a detour to Roseville so I could pick up North by Northwest on DVD for my Dad. I got Robin Williams: Live on Broadway for myself, though maybe I just should have rented it. It's good, and any of my friends can borrow it, but I probably couldn't watch the whole thing with other people around.. When I watch it again myself, I'll probably have to fast-forward through some bits.
I've always liked what I've been able to see of Robin Williams, so I guess I expected a bit more of the uncensored version of him. There's a lot of good stuff, but running around saying “Fuck off!” every 30 seconds doesn't really rise above the rest. I'm kind of disappointed..
I was remembering that I had high praise for him back in high school. When my graduating class wrote up profiles of ourselves, we were asked to name people we most admire, and I picked him because he could “bring a smile to anyone's face.” I still think that's true, but it might not be all smiles that he brings.
There were moments when I was watching the video and thinking of the kick in the pants I got when, weeks before graduation, my profile somehow randomly got printed right next to the profile of the girl I'd had a crush on all those years. Seeing her face next to mine—sporting huge ugly eyeglasses and dorky grin—did not sit well with me. But hell, she probably threw up when she saw it.
Oh well, I suppse I still managed better in high school than this poor kid.
Heh, today's FoxTrot is pretty funny:
When I was at Best Buy the other day with Dan, picking up some music, I almost picked up a CD by Massive Attack. I thought I might have already owned it, and I was right. The CDs I did get are okay, but not great. I'm still eagerly anticipating Radiohead's next release (though I hear it's been floating around the file-sharing networks for a while).
The U pestered me again to renew my DHCP registration for my Ethernet MAC addresses on my laptop, so I did (although, I think one of the addresses is for a Wi-Fi card that I gave back to my employers at CSOM—I should probably replace that one with my new wireless card's address). Anyway, I was surprised that I could actually renew my registration. I'm pretty sure the registration system I built at CSOM has the same bug—you don't actually have to be a student to use the network, you just need an x.500 ID...
I'd been meaning to fix that, really! ;-)
First off, some linkage. People interested in HDTV in the Twin Cities area should go take a look at TPT's bulletin board. Lots of good information, and it looks like techs from most or all of the local stations hang out there. 2-channel audio working fine, but Dolby Digital 5.1 dropping out? Mention it there and they'll fix it ;-)
Another site, HDTV Twin Cities has some info on how to get high definition video in this area, whether from cable, satellite, or air. They have a convenient listing of what formats the local stations are broadcasting in.
I tried to show off my HDTV tuner card to my family, since they were up for moving my brother into his dorm room, but the curse of technology demos hit me, and nothing happened with it.
I think I'm going to assemble a new box over the next week or two to test it out more thoroughly.
Okay, back to less costly things. Sort of.
I chatted with an old friend of mine from marching band. I guess she's getting married in about a month and a half, and is going nuts with She mentioned that some other people from the band had gotten hitched recently. I suppose that if I got around to catching up with people I knew then, I'd hear all sorts of similar stories, which is, y'know…
I'll have to get out and do something this weekend. I've been getting kind of bored.
Yesterday was my last day of work. Nothing really special happened, though I just got my farewell handshakes from the crew there. Today, I started my job search anew, after stopping by Carlson to visit my old boss. We went out for lunch with some other guys there, and he explained some of the things they'd been working on. They had quite a time dealing with the Windows worms that broke out over the summer, but they had set up a separate virtual LAN to quarantine systems that got infected. He also mentioned the ways they're trying to avoid paying an arm and a leg for Oracle software. A quarter million dollars for a cluster of just a few systems? Uh, no thanks.
After that, I wandered over to the East Bank and did a quick search through the job postings at the I.T. Career Center. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff. Most of their postings were months old, which was pretty disappointing to see.
I wandered farther east to Tran Micro and picked up some fans for the new computer I've been fiddling with, though I had to backtrack a ways because I forgot to stop by the cash machine on the way there. I paid with a new $20, which got a comment or two.
For my trip back west, I took a detour back to the West Bank and stopped by Sarah's workplace just to see what's up. I hadn't seen the new system there yet, so that was pretty neat to see. I also told her that I'd seen Josh on the way into campus earlier in the day, and explained some of what he'd told me about our court case against Joe. Too bad it might get extended yet again, but it was nifty to hear that pretty much the Eischenses and Joe are the only landlords that the University wants out of their system.
I went home and tried to rest a bit, but remembered that I was hoping to go out and look for an S-Video to RCA adapter. I've been trying to get my Matrox G550 to output to my small TV, but I only have an RCA input on that thing. I have a VGA to S-Video and RCA that came with my G400, but it doesn't seem to work right. I don't get anything out of the RCA jack on it. I have a 7-pin S-Video to RCA adapter that came with another card, but it must be wired differently than the 7-pin output on my G400 adapter.
Anyway, I went to RadioShack and brought one to the counter. I forget the exact price the cashier told me, but it was approaching $30. Uh, what? A cheap (though out-of-spec) connector can be made with a few wires and a strategically placed capacitor. There's no reason for it to cost that much (the cashier said, “well, there's a computer in there,” and I just rolled my eyes), and I don't even know if the adapter would fix the problems I'm having. I'll have to lug my computer somewhere where there's a TV with an S-Video input, or maybe I'll just swap the video cards in my desktop and this new system temporarily (since I know that this card can do TV-out to RCA just fine).
Let's see. Viagra spammers should be put in jail, and have their cellmates force-fed the stuff. That should solve the problem.
It's been kind of dull around here lately, though I suppose the weather hasn't helped. The cold mixed with frequent light rain puts a damper on things. Strangely, the humidity is low enough for me to be getting severely chapped lips, and the occasional “geek problems.”
I wish the sky was clear, then I'd at least have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights. I don't think I've ever seen the aurora..
Looks like I'll be picking up a new headlight for my car next week unless my friend from back home calls me up today to say he has one. I had forgotten to call him about it before yesterday.
Microsoft has made a new command-line interface for Windows. It's called MSH, for Microsoft SHell—but the codename is “MONAD.” This just makes me wonder if the codename was the result of a bad Tupac Shakur joke (or Tupac Amaru, for that matter).
That just brought back some high school memories. It's been a long time…
Ugh. I just got a spam through my ICQ client. Interesting technique: it was sent to me as an “Authorization Denied” message. So, if you want to cut down your debts drastically, legally, and quickly, give them a call at 281-587-6082.
I did a search on that number just for kicks and ended up with some web pages in the Netherlands. They were in Dutch, so I couldn't really understand them, but one seemed to be discussing a diploma from a university. Both of the numbers started with 1- or 001-, which would seem to indicate a North American number (since 1 is our international calling code). But heck, I dunno. The area code is supposedly Houston, Texas.
The experience of coming across a dutch page reminded me that there are a lot of languages I wish I knew. I sort of know Norwegian (heritage reasons) and German (the only other option in high school was Spanish, which I didn't think was important at the time—oops), but I don't know them very well anymore. I should really get some reference books on that. Beyond that, the old languages used in Britain and Ireland are intriguing. Celtic and Welsh are pretty wacky, not to mention old/middle English.
If I'd had my choice in high school, I probably would have either done Norwegian or Russian (I'm so jealous that Sarah did that in high school), but my experiences in college have gotten me interested in Japanese and Chinese. Today, I'd be pretty interested to learn Arabic, but I don't know if I could ever learn to read backwards… Heh, I even admire the reasons for making Esperanto, though it's messed up in a lot of ways. Latin always sounds so pompous whenever I hear someone speak it, so there are reasons it could be fun—too bad the complex conjugations and declensions would make my head explode.
But if I ever learn another language, it will be Spanish—for purely utilitarian reasons. Like, I don't know, could I get my cheeseburger today?
I tried to get myself back into a good sleep cycle last night, and failed miserably. I'll have to try again tonight and then maybe try to exercise in the morning to wake myself up. But then I'll probably get tired and go back to sleep…
I was sent a questionnaire for a potential job, which I have to work on today. I'll have to think about the questions a bit—it's been a while since I've actually done system admin stuff, so it's hard to remember good examples.
Well, in between my two night's sleeps last night (went to bed early, then couldn't sleep from about 1-4, then slept late), I wrote a note to an old friend of mine from pre- through high school. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have anything to talk about, which might explain why she hardly ever responds. However, I'd gotten a few newspaper clippings from my mom, and wrote about those.
One was about our old H.S. band director, who is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, but has gotten a nickname of “The Grinch” because of certain warnings he gives while working (“Unless you want me to get grinchy…”) Another clipping was an ad for a Rochester bank that featured another old classmate. I did some hunting and found a few others. I think a few have gotten into teaching in my hometown and elsewhere, but there was at least one other bank employee and a friend who had gone into real-estate. Kind of weird, but he seems to be a fairly natural salesman…
Anyway, it'd be nice to get a note back, but we'll see what happens.
Oh my god:
The University of Minnesota Alumni Association has rolled back the cost of membership…to a price not seen since 1904. Until February 14, you can activate a single-year membership for just $10.
In other news, I see that the Daily is switching to a broadsheet format. I always liked the fact that it was tabloid-sized. I find it impossible to read broadsheet newspapers comfortably…
Today has been even more laid-back. I suppose this is just about as low as I want to go in the activity department. At about this point, I have a tendency to just get tired out by doing nothing for too long and begin a downward spiral. So, I've been reading Catch Me If You Can, the book upon which the movie is based, not the other way around. I started in on it the other day, reading in bursts of a chapter or two when I get a chance. Since my grandparents have lost a fair amount of mobility over the years, my bed area downstairs hasn't seen much foot traffic except for my dad going in and out of his room from time to time. I've mostly just been sitting in one of the easy chairs with my headphones
on as I listen to the radio or a CD and read the book.
I'm kind of surprised by the radio stations around here. There doesn't seem to be a huge number of country staitons around. I guess it seems to be about the same ratio as I find in Minnesota. Still, the air is choked with various rock variants. Some are more geared toward the top-40s end, though most try to be fairly heavy rock or are some variation on classic rock or oldies. I'm appreciating the fact that the playlists are different than those in the Cities. Not quite as much overplaying of John Mayer Jack Johnson (or is that John Jackson? Reminds me of a Futurama episode or two ;-) Anyway, I've just gotten extremely annoyed by the Minnesota stations over the past several months since they beat their overly-short playlists into the ground.
A better strategy than restricting the playlist to 50 songs is to expand it. A lot. I need variety, dammit! It might be good to have scheduled times where certain genres are emphasized, though I'd hate to see certain songs essentially banned from daylight hours or whatever. Still, most stations make massive train wrecks most of the time when transitioning between songs. If scheduling is only going to happen on computers, then it's best to describe the songs in some way to prevent the new song from totally messing up the flow. Some simple beat and note (frequency) matching would be helpful.
WLRS 105.1 (“The Walrus” :-p) is now playing a new song I just heard on that Danville station the other night. Maybe we were all just going through a periodic drought period for new music. I suppose the aural pushers might take a break around Christmas. It would be nice to have some more stuff show up now. Ah. Then the segue to an aincent Red Hot Chili Peppers tune… Bleh.
Anyway, I'd read Catch Me If You Can. I guess I was surprised by the libidinous root causes of that whole escapade. That seemed to get glossed over from what I remember of the movie, though maybe I just try to avoid thinking about things like that. Reading the book yesterday definitely influenced my dreams last night. My mind gave me images I haven't had in a long while. They involved a girl I knew back in High School, though one I generally hadn't thought of back then. Still, I don't think I'd take this as a sign…she attended seminary after graduating from Byron :-p
Still, the book definitely reminds me that I'm not taking the appropriate chances to enjoy my life properly these days. Of course, this is another thing that seems to run in the family. Out of my dad and his brothers, only my father ever married. Both of his brothers (one older and one younger) are long-time bachelors.
My grandmother can't stop commenting on how she never knew that the younger brother, Joe, could cook. He's done a good job of preparing meals for us—often including a token amount of bacon ;-) Green beans, baked sweet potatoes, fried potatoes with vegetables, roast beef, and so on. Of course, it's not all exactly from scratch, but he's done a lot.
I should probably go see if I can help out with any of the repair/upgrade projects that are going on in the house. Dad was still slowly proceeding with installing new phone/fax lines upstairs so my grandfather could move his office up there if he wanted. His office is currently downstairs, though his space down there is much bigger than the room that he might move into later.
Blech, I'm sleepy. My sleep schedule is somewhat off since I ended up sleeping more with no Internet and restricted TV. Now I'm tired since I was in the next timezone, I guess. Oh well, I'll be back to what passes for normal in no time.
I think that at about 9:00 PM on the Friday before I left, I realized that I should probably try to call Erik and hang out with him more often. In theory, he's helping with teaching at the school right next to my apartment, so it wouldn't be hard to visit with him if he has an open schedule afterward… I suppose my desire to get to know some girls may have led me to distance myself from my male friends. I needed time to recover from being around guys all of the time in my CSci classes, I guess. Still, I'd want to spend time with some girls if the opportunity arose, but that's not going to happen if I never hang out with anybody…
I was guilted into going to church this morning in Rochester. It would have been nice to lounge around after driving all day yesterday, but no… I was worried that one of the pastors would mention Mel Gibson's movie, and one of them did. I was seconds away from getting up from my pew and leaving the sanctuary, but he managed to stop talking about it before that happened. It would have turned into a mess if I had left—my parents were on my left, and my brother and one of the church's pastors was on the right. Neither direction was a good option. Oh well, the guy didn't outright say, “you should go see this movie,” he just said something like “it sounds like this is an accurate portrayal of what [is believed to have] happened.” Still, I wish he'd actually see the movie before promoting it in any way.
But, I'm in Minneapolis now. Brought my brother up with me, since he'd visited home over the weekend. There was a little tension since we might have had to deal with bad weather, but things cleared up by the time we left (still wet on the road in some places, but not too bad).
Now I see that The Daily Show was all repeats this last week, so I didn't miss anything there. I'll have to go through the other shows my computer recorded and see if anything interesting showed up over the week (there appears to be a good Frontline episode).
Oh yeah—I'm glad Ralph Nader decided to run again. I wasn't sure if I wanted him there or not, but the Democratic nomination race is kicking out the candidates I like (er, the main candidate I liked, at least). By the way, the “Nader is a spoiler” argument doesn't carry any weight with me. In Florida in 2000, Gore and Bush were separated by 537 votes. The 10th-place finisher, James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party, had 558 votes, so that theoretically makes about eight people possibly responsible if you want to play the candidate blame game. In truth, the voting in Florida was just fubar in general (with tens of thousands of ballots considered “spoiled”), so you can't blame any of them.
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.
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.
I'll never remember all of the stuff that happened today—not that it was especially interesting.
My late-morning job interview at MCAD went okay. Just okay. I think I've really lost a lot of my confidence in how quickly I can learn computer software, hardware, and whatever leftovers there are. The job would be interesting and I'd be at a school, one of those places where the mythical female is rumored to spend time. The job would largely involve Macs running OS X, which means I'd have to spend the first few months learning a lot. My Unix/Linux experience would be both good and bad.
It sounded like the job would be a semi-management position, where I'd have to direct others to do things. I've never really done that before. The job would also involve some significant amount of communication with other people. At Carlson, I didn't really talk to many people other than my boss, so I don't know how comfortable I would be with it. Heck, I know it would be a challenge to talk at least some of the time. I'm quiet—that's just the way things are for me.
Both the MCAD job and the Secure Computing job would require a lot more interpersonal communication than I'm really used to. Well, I don't really know. I got to be very bored at the Carlson School since I was pretty much stuck in a corner by myself in a room with a hevay door. I didn't have other people to work with, I just had other people sitting in the room with me. At Adaptec, I did more stuff with the other testing guys there. We all spent the bulk of our time in the same room without any partitions between us, so there was more free communication.
I'm certain that I do better work when I have to interact with other people on a daily basis. I think this is why I did better in high school than in college. I know that I've felt in the past that work should feel more like high school than college—at least in the sense that you get more interaction between people where you're working with others rather than just sitting next to them. Well, maybe my college/high school experiences were just weird…
Anyway, on the way to MCAD, I found myself to be lost and found at the same time. I was trying to follow the driving directions they had on their website, but ended up going by what you get on Mapquest. Instead of taking the 11th/I-94 exit and staying on I-94, I got off on 11th. I took that until I ran into a one-way and was forced to turn (Portland, I think). That took me to Franklin, which I used to get across 35W. Then I went south on 3rd (the way you go to Little T's).
I guess I was supposed to stay on I-94 and get off at another 11th—or the same 11th, if the road just has a break in it somewhere. Whatever, I found a new way to Uptown.
After the interview, I headed over to the U. I looked around in the Elmer L. Anderson library, though I wasn't all that impressed by the ambience. I guess it's meant more for researchers slowly perusing archives than the general visitor who just wants to browse through stuff. I once had a professor who was involved with the Charles Babbage Institute, and he invited us to visit the stuff there, though I didn't really know what you were supposed to do once you got in the building. Maybe I'll figure out the process one day.
I wandered over to CSOM to talk to my old boss, but he wasn't around. I wandered next door to see if Sarah was around, though I couldn't tell if the red-haired person I saw from the back was her or not (she was busy with someone, so I didn't intrude). I wandered back to CSOM and talked to a few more people, then finally ran into my old boss as he was coming back from the Hard Times.
We chatted for an hour or so, something that used to happen perhaps a little too often when I used to work there. He kind of reminded me that I used to have all sorts of new ideas for getting things done there. I had mentioned a bunch of different software packages to him for all sorts of different things, including Fink on the Mac. That kind of boosted my confidence in the possible MCAD job, though that's still a way of making OS X a better Unix rather than making it a better Mac OS. I showed him Wikipedia, since I've been spending too much time editing pages on there rather than playing with new code lately.
I guess NTS will be taking over CSOM's network in about a year. Kind of on-campus outsourcing, so it's possible some people at the school will lose their jobs. In the very least, they'd have to get some new responsibilities. Turns out that the backup tape library hasn't been getting used at all, though there are plans in place to get IBM's Tivoli working over the summer, I guess.
After that, I checked again to see if Sarah was around, but maybe I chickened out too much before I did an adequate check. Whatever. I went across to the IT Career Center to browse their jobs. Mostly outside of Minnesota, it seemed. Secure Computing had a posting, though I can't remember if it's basically for the same job I applied for or if it was a testing position. I'll have to ask them about that when I call tomorrow and inquire about my status for the job I interviewed for two weeks ago.
I chatted a bit with Dan since I was in the neighborhood. I suppose I should see his new place at some point. We discussed the court case against Joe too, not that anything has changed on that front. Still, when I got home, I had a summons in my mailbox for the upcoming court date. I don't remember getting anything on our previous tries, so I'm surprised that something showed up this time.
Well, that's pretty much it. Except, when I was walking home, I was thinking that maybe there's a criminal offense that Joe committed in the course of this whole thing. I'm curious if there would be any way to get the police to drag him in for not having valid contact info on his properties. Ripping down the unlawful housing notices was theoretically some sort of offense, but I suppose it's not enough to arrest him or anything.
I mentioned to Dan that it might be a good idea to try one of those person locator services on the 'Net, but I guess I wouldn't want to be the person to potentially sacrifice my credit card info on some random website.
So, a lot of mediocre stuff happening today. Not exactly one for the record books.
The University probably has the most cumbersome job application process I've ever come across. I hate it. And yet, too many applications are received whenever a job comes up that I would be good for. I haven't even been applying for jobs for a long time because the return on my investment of time and effort is far too low.
Well, not that anything else I've done has worked.
I'm trying to renew my application now, but the Word-formatted version (which would allow me to nicely type things out) doesn't cooperate with OpenOffice very well, and I'm too stressed out at the moment to fill out the preprinted PDF version by hand properly. I'm having some sort of minor claustrophobic thing going on because some maintenance guy is making noise out in the hallway and, well, I just hate applying for jobs.
At face value, the University's system would seem to be a better candidate than most for webification. Especially if the thing could automagically fill in my work and education experience from the U.
I suppose I'm just a weakling.
Today (er, Wednesday), I went to a funeral down in Rochester for the brother of a friend of mine from high school. I had met the older brother in passing a few times—he was a senior in my high school when I was in 7th grade, if I remember right (at the time, my high school was junior+senior, grades 7-12).
I left later than I had hoped, and I was worried I'd be late. However, traffic moved well all the way down, so I got there with plenty of time left over. The viewing was still going on at the time (yay, dead body… eep), so I had to wait for half an hour before stuff really started. My friend gave a pretty good eulogy, and I'm glad he was able to finish delivering it (he said at the start it would be difficult, and he might have to pass it off).
Well, I just started feeling really bad for not knowing that the guy had been sick for months. He had cancer—I don't know what type, but it must have been very aggressive. I hope my friend had been able to say everything he needed to say. I always forget the important things.
Unfortunately (in some ways), I was the only person from our grade in high school that showed up. Some of the older brother's friends were there, but I didn't even remember their names, unfortunately. I had hoped that I would be able to do a better job of displaying proper funerary behavior among my friends—a few years ago, another older sibling of a classmate died, and there were moments where I basically treated it like a reunion. Oh well, I guess some classmates and teachers had made it to a memorial reception last night.
I feel bad that I haven't been keeping up on my friends' e-mail addresses and that I haven't ever been very good at communicating with others. It just seems like more people would have made it there if I had just put a little effort into that stuff. But, I'm not exactly a social butterfly or whatever the right term is.
Well, anyway, I got my friend's address anyway, so I'll send him a note soon. I guess I'd stopped sending out lists of addresses partially because I was becoming too preachy when I sent stuff out. I've got a journal to vent in now, so I wouldn't feel compelled to add extra stuff like that. I know that my high school classmates don't all think the same way I do.
I was surprised to find out today that Accenture is incorporated in Bermuda as a tax dodge. This is according to Lou Dobbs's column in the June 14 U.S. News & World Report. There's also a Forbes column mentioning this. Of course, this fact popped up recently because Accenture was probably going to end up having the contract to handle the visitor monitoring going on now at U.S. border crossings. Looks like that contract may be blocked now, though.
I might have to mention this to my old boss at CSOM. They used Accenture for a while during the development of their new website, but I don't know if they still have a contract with the company.
The company has some fluff about “corporate citizenship” on its website, though they don't mention anything about taxes :-p
I also recently heard about a site called Onshore Alternatives that lists many companies that have contracted with people working offshore. I don't know how many of them are actually incorporated outside the country, but I suppose there's some overlap. I guess the name implies that there are alternatives, but most of the companies listed have some offshore workers.
Well, anyway, that's the PSA for the day.
LOL. I just remembered that my high school was erected in 1969.
Uh. That's it.
I went to the U of M's homecoming parade today to see a friend or three, then ended up going to the game too. A few friends of mine were marching in the alumni band, so I saw them do that (along with the regular band too). Anyway, I wandered over near the 40 or 50 yard line to watch the pregame show, then went back to my $25 upper-deck endzone seats (well, it was right above the band, and an angle I'm used to.. Plus, everything else was $42!)
As the halftime show was ending, I started wandering around and eventually ran into Missy, Jill, and Beth as they hunted for food. After they got some Papa John's, we all went back down to the field-level area. No, this did not improve viewing of the field—there are too many people in the way when you're down there, so you have to watch the game on the big screen instead.
At least the Gophers won. It got to be pretty hairy there at the end. But, is this the first Big Ten game of the season for them? That seems pretty odd and worrisome to me.
Well, I left through the tunnel with the band(s), almost getting caught by security in the process. I was asked if I had a pass, but he either dropped the idea of shooing me out because I had on my alumni shirt or because the game had already ended.
Some guy in a football uniform was on the ground in handcuffs as we left, but I don't know where he came from. He had on a white-colored top, though it looked like university colors. The Gophers use maroon tops for home games, however, so maybe it was a fan who jumped on the field.
Afterward, I circled around to reach the gate where the band was performing. Gate D, where I performed postgame most of my time in band, had a big tent on it, so they did Gate C instead (though I think we probably moved there by my fourth year). I stood next to Carolyn and some friends of hers, who I'd also seen at the parade earlier in the day.
Well, it was nice to see some familiar faces. Hopefully they were glad to see me too. They seemed to be, anyway..
I should write something again, so here goes. I'm probably going to try to keep it short, though.
I had a simple costume for Halloween, pretending to be a rollerblader whose head and shoulder and leg had a not-so-pleasant encounter with a hard surface. I got rid of some old clothes by ripping them up. Hmm, I need a new bike helmet now too. Ah well. Omelettes and eggshells...
So, this party I went to was at Missy's. I thought she had a nice costume (fairy), though there were some problems (poorly-designed wing support structure) and she had to keep fidgeting a bit. Ah well, the glitter, perm, and plush-frog-on-a-stick all just added to the allure ;-)
I also found out that, yes, that guy is her boyfriend. No, she isn't quite divorced yet (meh, just a matter of paperwork). And the holes in yard? Not being filled in until the divorce is final (to avoid any increase in the amount of money/blah the cheating-and-possibly-gay bastard gets).
Justin and Beth also showed up, so it was nice to see them. I'd seen Beth when I went to homecoming, but hadn't seen Justin since my band days. Missy also has her friend-from-band Jill living at her place now, not that I see how that can last for very long, just given the cycle of everything. Well, what do I know...
There were leftovers of the non-perishable variety, so a second party was had last weekend, which mostly consisted of a game of Trivial Pursuit, some video, and some beverages. I held my own pretty well for being the only single player. Missy and Ian won.
I was amazed on Saturday when I actually had the energy to go out and do stuff. I guess I have to get out on Friday more often, so then my weekend is less busy? However that works...
New music for the week includes: Coach Said Not To (good, even though it's just an EP—but did you know that two of the people in the band at the time were responsible for the local TV show Nate on Drums?), Cloud Cult's Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus (one of the best album titles ever), Hum's You'd Prefer an Astronaut (yes, from 1995, and mostly just for "Stars"), and Nada Surf's new album.
Okay, I lied (not so short). That's alright.
Ah, and Kelly lost (yay!) and Rybak won (yay! not that it matters much).
Meh, well, I had to find it eventually.
Apparently you can thank my crappy love life for the falling gas prices. Just kidding, but here is an interesting lesson about how the human mind works:
It's fun to watch gas prices go down for the last few weeks. I'd been visiting TwinCitiesGasPrices.com every few days at work this summer. Actually, I don't like the site layout much at all, and it's chock full of ads, but they do have a fairly nice graph of where gas prices are going. Anyway, I'd been checking regularly over the summer to see whether things were going up or down, and it's probably helped me save a little bit of cash, though not a whole lot.
Like lots of people, I figured that the big leak up in Prudhoe Bay and the ensuing reconstruction of crude oil pipelines would cause fuel prices to rise. However, exactly the opposite happened—gas is cheaper now than it's been for months. It was a fun game to pull up the page every few days note that "Gas is cheaper than it's been in a month." "Oooh, cheaper than it's been in two months." "...Three months." "...Since April!" Wait. April?
Well, a certain someone has been on my mind the last few days (since I found her MySpace account), so I couldn't help but notice a correlation. Just under five months ago was She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's birthday. Well, big woop. But wait, I sent her a note—an apology—at the beginning of September. (We had a brief e-mail interaction 18 months ago, which probably didn't go over well. She's written—literally—two words to me since then.) Numbers have been falling ever since the start of the month. That's kind of freaky:
But, honestly, I've seen things like this happen many, many times in the past. This one is unusual in that I can actually present evidence. Usually, I see or hear something that is a reminder, but which can't be quantified in any way. For instance, I heard a few songs on Saturday when I went out to lunch.
Arby's had the station tuned to KS95, and they had "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe playing as I sat down to eat—a song that was popular during my senior year of high school and which had significance to me because I first crossed paths with this girl in freshman year. Since I haven't listened to pop radio for many years now, I couldn't place the next song, but "high school" was mentioned repeatedly. The last song I heard as I headed out was "Lightning Crashes" by Live. I didn't think of the title until today (when a song has a line that goes, "Her placenta falls to the floor," you don't need song titles), but even that seemed appropriate for the weekend. I'd updated my MySpace profile to mention that "I've waited for lightning to strike a few times" in regard to my love life. Of course, I can't remember when I added that—I'm pretty sure it was late Friday, but I might have subconsciously thought of lightning after hearing the song.
Anyway, the album for that song came out in 1994, late in my freshman year. It was recorded at Pachyderm Studio near Cannon Falls, MN, which is another thing that freaks me out a bit. But heck, to try to put things into perspective, it was KS95, home of pop hits for "The '80s, '90s, and Today." Both "Lightning Crashes" and "The Freshmen" were chart-topping hits in the 1990s. It's just coincidence. Okay then, how about those other things that I saw this weekend involving one of my favorite TV shows, the Magic 8 Ball, and the 1972 version of Solaris (aka Solyaris)? Yeah, that's just random too.
So, my weekend was a little weird, but I'm pretty much accustomed to that sort of stuff happening to me. It'll soon fold into the white noise of weirdnesses I see with regularity. I'm sure I've grasped pretty hard at a few straws anyway. Still, I figured I should give a few examples because I'm not sure if my friends have known what I've gone through over the years.
Anyway, I'm also trying to show how this probably affects all of us in larger ways than we may realize. Since the centerpoint of this post is a big graph, I'll mention something that we see graphed all the time—stocks. At the end of the day, we always hear "stocks dipped lower today on news that company X lowered profit forecasts by 15%." As the Car Talk guys would say, I think that is booooo-gus! I just have big doubts that stock analysts can really figure this out most of the time. Data mining also bugs me for the same reason, but there are companies and governments who use that for making life-and-death decisions. Well, we all know the saying: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Of course, the analysts are right often enough to keep their jobs. As for the rest of us, miracles happen often enough to keep us guessing. I have a friend who found herself in the worst moment of her life one day, then three days later had an old door reopen. Well, the situation hits too close to home for me to go into more detail, but it's one instance where everything fell into place, almost like a movie. I'm glad for her, but I try not to think about it very often since it gives me a little too much hope for my own situation. Ah well, something will work out for me someday...
[Edit, moments later: Agh! And what is the highlighted article on Yahoo!'s most popular page just after I finish writing this? An article about "telephone telepathy."
Many people have experienced the phenomenon of receiving a telephone call from someone shortly after thinking about them -- now a scientist says he has proof of what he calls telephone telepathy.Stop that, dammit! Grr.]
"The hit rate was 45 percent, well above the 25 percent you would have expected," he told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. "The odds against this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one."
Yeah, it's five years later. Our country could be in such a different place right now, but we are where we are. Well, I could go on a diatribe, but today is actually a good one.
I heard from Erik last night for the first time in a while. We'd met up in Fargo over Christmas since he was visiting his parents, but then his old e-mail address went the way of the dodo and I hadn't heard from him for a while. Anyway, now the ol' address book is getting updated.
Speaking of which, I heard from Dave for the first time in ages a few days ago. I sent him a note saying something like "Glad to see your mortal coil is still bouncing." Heh, I crack myself up. (Nah, it's not that funny—but a tad punny..)
So, today was Missy's birthday, and I sent her a quick message. Turns out she's engaged now (for a week), which is good to hear, and she got her ring today. Her new fiancé is actually an old beau—they both had previous marriages fall apart at the same time, and ended up getting back together. Well, considering how rotten her first husband turned out to be, I doubly hope that things will work out this time around.