November 29, 2003
Took a family break for Thanksgiving, and also committed a wanton act of family reunion.
I finally met Erik at his place in New Paltz, me with a tinge of sinus infection keeping me down and sleepy for most of the visit. We had a delicious (non, in my case)-turkey dinner with his flatmate and his (flatmate's) girlfriend.
The family reunion bit kicked in when we went to my Aunt Janet's on Friday. I suppose it was a strange Thanksgiving situation. Some sense of duty says go to mom's, but an overwhelming sense of curiosity makes me meet this woman that I have not seen in ten years, even though she is family and has only lived a short two-hour drive from our house in New Jersey. And of course, I wanted to see how Sarah grew up, the baby cousin that was 7 years old when I last saw her.
Sarah is all grown up, a freshman in college at Penn State. On the jokingly unfortunate side, Sarah has turned out to be a sorority chick. I can't help but wonder if, had we hung out in her formative years, I could have had some influence to keep her from the most awful of fates. I am left in some accepting state of personal failure.
Still, it was a pleasant day-after-Thanksgiving dinner. No family politics, even with parties and issues involved. I suppose playing dumb, pretending I don't know all the back story is the best way to go. I guess adults would be surprised at what kids understand.
The short visit/reunion/whatever done, it was back to New Paltz, and ultimately (today) back to Syracuse. A blizzard on the way stranded about 10 cars on the Thruway. I wasn't very comfortable with the Suby-Jet's handling...front wheel drive cars make me nervous, but arrived without landing in any ditches.
Arriving home in 0C chill, I got the fire pumping, the fan blowing, cooked a meager dinner of tea and toast on the woodstove, picking up a tip in country cooking from Annie's mum, learning that throwing together a bunch of sentence fragments can be a better gauge of mental state than anything else.
For now it is breath in, study, breath out.
November 25, 2003
Decided to more car work today. It was a balmy 3C outside in Syracuse. Why not?
It was a pretty simple job, although I forgot to get all that fancy anti-squeal compound and grease and all the other crap that you're supposed to put on the brake shims. I may take them apart next week and do it all over again if I find the thing squeals too much.
I also finally discovered what is making the horrible "I'm a CV joint that's about to snap, only I'm not really" noise. There's a little link that goes from the control arm up to where the CV joint attaches to the wheels. I guess it's some kind of stabilizer to control how much the wheel cambers when the suspension gets compressed. Anyway, this little metal linker is inside a rubber boot, which has, in proper Subaru fashion, begun squirting all its grease everywhere. Guess I'll need to get a new one of whatever-it's-called, though it will probably $100 at the Subaru dealer :(. But hey, on the plus side my wheel won't fly off while I'm heading down the highway.
Next two weeks will suck. Four final exams, plus two research papers, plus two final projects, means a very busy Reid.
Why, oh why am I taking 12 grad credits again?
November 24, 2003
New Jersey Revisited (part 709)
Went to New Jersey again this weekend. Some triathlon club members joined me at my mother's house, since "we" (not I, but they) were down for the Philadelphia Marathon.
To be honest, Saturday is much a blur. We went into Philly to pick up race packets and such, then I nearly crashed. Sleeping with Lauie on Thursday night (and I do mean sleeping, not sexing it up) left me pretty run-down on Saturday. Somehow.
Sunday, though, was a very different beast. I rode my bike to the ocean.
The above is a forest of teeny-tiny pine trees. Brought about by frequent forest fires and infertile soil, these trees never grow more than 3-4 feet tall. Evolutionarily, they are better suited to survive in this section of Jersey, which gets almost no rainfall. More information about the Pygmy Forest can be had for the clicker.
I did finally make it to the Atlantic. I wasn't sure if I would...I looked at an online map at the distance from Tabernacle (my mom's town) to Barnegat, and it was 28 miles. Little did I know, it is actually an extra ~8 miles to Long Beach Island. So the total bike ride was somewhere around 72-75 miles.
After the ride, it was goodbyes to my mom and Jack, who were nice enough to let Keisuke and Kyoung Mi stay at the house on Friday night. While on the road, I quite randomly ran into them in a traffic jam on I-476.
Quite random to have such a thing happen on a narrow stretch of a 200-mile road...
Anyway, yes, my legs are a little stiff this morning, and yes I'll be going running this evening...
November 22, 2003
I'm wondering the same thing as everyone else...will Diebold send a threatening DMCA letter to the House?
November 21, 2003
Things I Hate About Syracuse
Cruising the personals tonight, I decided to do a little experimentation with my profile.
When I set it up to actually reflect me, I get just two returns on "Get Matched" -- a self-proclaimed transsexual goth (the jury is out over whether this person has a member), and a, pardon my rudeness, "fat chick." Yeah, at 5'1" and 255 pounds, you definitely earn the label. That's like, taking a normal short chick, and having her eat Annie.
The first thing I changed on my profile was to take away "Agnostic" as religion and change it to "Protestant." Suddenly, my matches shot up to 70.
Next, I checked the "Interested in Play-Only" box. Now, my matches were up to 130.
Next, I said I was "Maybe" interested in having children. Over 200 now.
Bearing in mind that these changes to my profile were cumulative (ie I did not backout previous changes), this says some very interesting things about Central New York women. It also provides me with plenty of reason not to date them. (1) They are Christian, (2) they enjoy casual sex, and (3) they want kids. These things are ingredients for social disaster.
November 18, 2003
Yes, one day talking about suicide on campus, the next? Parking tickets.
God, I suddenly feel like I'm back in that room with Bill Maher when we're talking about gun control and the local comes up complaining that she got a parking ticket in front of the library...
Anyway, Dave's suggestion is that the University require people pay up on their parking tickets or not receive their diploma. Doug says differently, that the parking ticket collection process is broken, and that it should be fixed. Doug further argues, "Fifty percent of students at Syracuse University come from New York State, see 1 and 2. Furthermore 39.7% of all living alumni are still in New York State. "
If we think for a second, 50% of people here are from here. Only 39.7% of people stay here. That means everybody that comes from outside Syracuse leaves, plus some of the locals leave.
Ideally, reparations from missing parket tickets should be collected for in-state license holders when they go to renew their licenses. I'm not sure if that is the way it currently works, but it would be nice. And then private institutions could go after ticket holders if they want. Why not?
Another Doug suggestion:
"Smoking marijuana is illegal, if Dave believes that the University should mold students to be of the highest caliber I think he should also suggest mandatory drug testing for all students. Dirty urine, no diploma."
Yes, but parking tickets are a public record. There is no invasion of privacy from examining a public record and pointing out that it ain't so hot. Mandatory drug testing is called an invasion of privacy. My urine is not a public record.
Finally, I present answers to Doug's questions:
What is the crux of the problem?
Traffic tickets go unpaid, and the money from these unpaid traffic tickets could be used to bolster the police force in the University area, to make sure that kittens do not get run over on Euclid, and that unfortunate students do not get a cap in his ass while delivering pizza.
Are students the only people who do not pay tickets?
Nope. Although this question is missing a key follow-up: Do other private organizations impose penalties for owing the state money?
Most law firms don't want you if you have outstanding tickets. Hell, you can't even take the bar exam most places if you have outstanding tickets. The government doesn't like it and will harass you (including federal, or other Sovereign states).
Who is in charge of fixing the problem?
Seeing as how the government is simply representative of the people, the people are responsible. You could argue that it is the government's job solely, but it is in the interests of the people to see this problem resolved (see answer #1 and next answer).
Who is a state actor?
See the answer to the previous question. Remember companies cannot exist without the state government to recognize them. Companies should help the state out where they can.
Who is a private institution?
Syracuse University, me, you, the state of New York, depending on your scope of "private". Of course, we're all shareholders in the state...
November 17, 2003
Death and Dying
A campus so cluttered with reminders of death is not a good thing.
In 50 years, probably less, I imagine the campus closing down due to mass depression.
The problem the University fails to realize (or more likely fails to communicate via inter-departmental memo, as that's how 'discoveries' are made these days) is that the role of Universities has changed. It is now supposed to train lemmings, and educate them as good consumers and finders of good jobs.
Surrounding these poor students with so much death might give them the idea that everybody else is doing it, so they might as well join in. Which, come to think of it, isn't such a bad thing.
November 16, 2003
Hiking the area
I went hiking in the University area today, just to see what's out there as far as trails are concerned. Well, that and I was PMS'ing (ie having my man-period, which seems to happen to members of my species when they've been dating their hands for a little too long).
Hiking is always so much better in the winter; the snow can make it a bit technical, but there are no ticks and chiggers to try suck out and impurify your precious bodily fluids.
Wow. Suddenly I feel like I'm in a movie with Harvey Keitel. It's doubtful that I'll be taking that same picture every day for years, though.
I hiked up to the water tower again, this time hiking down to Manley through the woods. Not much in the way of trails, but there are some nice places for drum circles, which would be quite audible to much of South Campus. They even have nice views of the Manley fields, so doing a little bongo-thumping during the games could lead to all kinds of hilarity. Mental note to self: Buy a bongo.
It's a shame, this could be a pretty city, surrounded by hills, with a lake downtown. Instead it looks like a dying leper colony run by Klingons. I suppose that's just today, though...it was rather cold, moist, and the view was non-existant.
I made it up and around Skytop. Don't bother with the back side of that hill. You will be treated to a great view -- Interstate 481 running by, as well as the Syracuse University dump (including barrels of "industrial solvent," which I doubt can be legal to dump there). Still it was fun to plan escape routes, ala Walter Mitty.
It never hurts to know your local trails, though...
November 15, 2003
Some time ago I boasted to my brother that I received over 1,000 hits a day. I have to admit, that was a complete guess. I installed some log analysis tools, though, and it turns out that I was right. Go me.
Friday Five, I've Succumbed
For the questions, try here.
1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.
2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer.
3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime.
4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day.
5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life.
Tonight I went to dinner at Sarah's, met a young vaguely homosexual man named Kevin. He invited me to his house to watch a stripper on Sunday, for an alleged fake bachelor party (part of his "roommate's" "TRF Film Project". Right...).
I caught Empire Records on film, which I had once tried to watch at Erin's, but fell asleep during. You'll never get me to admit it in public though...
Anyway, off to sleep, for I must go Chasing Lindsey tomorrow (and suffering some rather horrid groinal bruises; 19 year bike chicks in spandex plus 23 year old out of shape me following == very sore groin).
November 14, 2003
This entry title is dual-meaning.
First, the weather. It decided to become 2C, snowing like mad, with 95kph winds today (I really like this metric system stuff, everybody should use it). In a word, the weather is ludicrous. Somehow, I'm expected to go on a 115km (~70 mile) bike ride on Saturday. When it will be freezing. Shiver...
I've decided to grow a beard again to compensate. This time I'm going for something a little more Stallmanesque, minus the weight gain.
About the only good thing to come of all this cold has been power failures. Tonight, Henry and I were able to exact revenge upon the neighbors in the sweetest (well, sweetest being a relative term for complete tools) way imaginable -- blasting Belle & Sebastian (song title: "Get me away from here, I'm dying" of course) full-blast. During an extended power outage. At midnight. I also screamed like a girl, and banged on all the walls to make sure they were listening. Not that they had anything else to listen to; the power was out.
That's right, bitches, we have a UPS. Actually, several of them. Suck it up.
Tonight I also decided to cool down on the dating thing. I've been going spastic meeting women the last couple of months, which really hasn't been my style or speed. I'll focus my efforts on songwriting instead.
Ask me about my pain.
Besides, if I have one of these, I probably won't be getting any dates for a while. Not that that's bad, as I could use the extra time programming.
I did get a chance to meet one last one tonight, though. She was another Daily Orange feature girl, another member of the Triathlon team.
April is our Chair racer, due to some variety of spinal injury. I didn't inquire about the details, as that doesn't seem to fit in with "getting to know you" conversation. Maybe I'll find out some day.
She's a New Paltz native, with a touch of a Brooklyn accent that makes the whole thing quite bizarre.
All in all a nice week. In the words of Kevin So, I'll catch the next bus.
November 11, 2003
The Onion Nails It
Once again, the Onion has nailed it on the head. This week's story about parent units discovering your blog has something of a familiar feel, even if I make no attempt at hiding mine from anybody.
November 10, 2003
Sex and Drugs
After my officially becoming a New York guy with the license and the license plates and insurance and all that rot, I got to become a resident of Earth again for cool celestial happenings. I went for a walk in Thornden Park (aka Rape Central) to get a better look. I saw a couple walking in the -5C chill, and asked if they had a pair of binoculars I could borrow. "Why?" asked the woman. I decided against telling them to look up.
In hindsight, I probably should not have been nipping at my whiskey flask when I asked. But it was damn cold, and gore-tex gloves, jacket, and hat only do so much to keep you warm up here. A good woman helps. In lieu of that, distilled pure spirits from the home of one William Wallace is a great way to keep warm. I've been meaning to find out if a whiskey flask is considered an open container around here...
Anyway, I got an invite to the 21st birthday of an old friend...
They were at this bar/restaurant called Phoebe's (right across from the Syracuse Stage). Pretty cool bar, with a friendly bartender. And not even crowded on the weekends (I used to go down there every once in a while for dates, but it was always a mob scene back then).
We then headed back to Toni's, and watched a quality movie.
I am not a purveyor of adult entertainment by any stretch of the imagination. Still, as far as my opinion of the, er, 'artform,' goes, DDD is not too bad. Pros: "natural" people, ie bikini tans, cellulite, veins running through breasts, that sort of thing. None of this digitally altered crap that the skin mags shove in our faces. Cons: Everyone in the movie is drugged out of their minds. There was a distinct lack of plot (heh), and a very stupid ending.
November 08, 2003
I'm (not) from New Jersey
I guess I can still say that I'm from New Jersey, although I'm not from New Jersey anymore.
So I did that yesterday, which was nice. I also saw the new Matrix movie. If you're planning to see it, stop. Take a pencil. Sharpen it. Jam it in your eye.
Actually, instead of watching the new Matrix movie, I think you should just read this Slashdot post (skip the numerology section, though). It does a hell of a lot better of a job of explaining symbolism and textual references present in the Matrix, providing closure, etc, than the movie does. Perhaps I'm just not stupid enough to appreciate it, though. Or perhaps I'm not as much of a fan of Karl Gustav Jung to see much of anything in the movie as intriguingly symbolic.
November 05, 2003
Solution the Movable Type spam problem:
1) Change your mt-comment post script so it displays a disclaimer window first. The window says, "Advertisers will be billed $500 per posting to this blog. If your comment is not an advertisement, there will be no charge. Click 'I agree' to continue with your post." Log the user's alleged email address and IP like you normallly do.
3) Profit! Either way, you win. You can take them to court for violating your terms of service vis-a-vis posting comments. Failing that, you can make one hell of a tax write-off at the end of year (your customer defaulted on payments == lost profit).
I suppose this points out the obvious difference between comments-spam and e-mail spam: comments-spam is interactive. You can make people jump through a relatively simple hoop to post it, and not lose meaningful comments.
Anyway, back to OS programming...
November 03, 2003
I installed Panther today and I want to hug it. My favorite thing in the world has to be Exposè. I can see why James was repeatedly showing the feature off on his Powerbook. I think I will never minimize a window again. But what to do with the dock now that I don't really need it?
November 02, 2003
The weekend has been a blast so far. Not even a dead car and missed date can keep me down.
Our James Carter works on SELinux.
These kinds of lectures are always a bit embarassing to go to. For one, the lecture had no real content, just the overview fluff that you can read on the above-linked FAQ. Secondly, there were some really stupid questions asked by the audience. Oh, wait, did I say that? There's no such as a stupid question. But there is such a thing as retarded people that talk too much.
Anyway, after the SeLinux thing, I disassembled the front end of my car and determined that the inner CV Joint is rotted. This is really weird, as it's usually the outers that go first. It's going to be hard to find, NAPA doesn't even carry the outers, it turns out. I'm a bit bummed...I might have to take it someplace after all.
There is something electrical about the moment that the concertmaster comes on stage and things wind up. No recording could quite grab that light-dimming string-singing horn-blowing moment.
After the concert it was more party-going with the Megan, Kate, and Beth gang. We dressed up, again, and went clubbing.
Saturday was schoolwork all morning. Yeah, that sucks. An afternoon bike ride, followed by a meeting with James to collect some CDs and a good cup of chai, followed by a film project...
Actually, Megan rented out a hotel suite to shoot the movie in. We were assigned to be extras in the "party scene." We were all having to act quite drunk; a feat seeing as how I'm still on the mend from all last week's partying.
So far so good. The rest of the week will be bad, though...many many projects due again. On the sort of plus side, I won't have time to fix my car this week, so I won't be burning any more fossil fuels...
I decided to clean up some disks tonight, make some (AES128-encrypted) backups of my laptop hard disk in preparation for installing Panther.
I've been neglecting to include mysqldumps of the blogs in my backups, which I finally wrote a script to do tonight. Shocking. Between Henry, Pete, Mike, and myself, we have produced 2 megabytes of text data on our blogs. Some of that is mysql formatting garbage, a little more are Movable Type templates, but still there is some solid text here. In my mind the amount is incredible. Even with all the grammatical errors that I make during late-night posts (most of which I notice, some of which I just never get around to cleaning up).
Anyway, a shout-out to James for lending me Panther and for giving me the mighty backup warning: apparently this new OS can cause problems for those of us that have "broken" our /Library directories to make things more GNU.
Of course, also in this whole mess, I noticed that my primary disk was full. Sorry about that. I wrote a script to clean up my security camera pictures, but apparently forgot to actually put it in the cron directory, so my disk had a few months of video storage sitting around on it. Fellow bloggers attempting to update their sites were probably greeted with some rather harsh errors. Whoops! And All Fixed!