Monthly Archives: May 2004

Post-commencement

I’ve been back from commencement for a little while now, and it wasn’t as bad as eveyone was making me believe it was going to be. Truthfully, the worst thing about it was having to get up at 7 on a Sunday morning. Affixing carnations to gowns wasn’t nearly as dangerious (for me or them) as I thought it would be, it was just a bit hectic. And the food provided to the ushers was great- I’m defintely doing this again next year :)

One funny thing possibly worth mentioning- they made the Cornell clock tower play the ‘If I only had a brain’ song from Wizard of Oz. Which amused me greatly, though I think that many of the graduates were too preoccupied to notice, heh :)

Additionally, the football stadium really started to look quite a bit like a Quidditch Field, what with all the people in wizard robes Ph. D cloaks wandering about. It was really quite cool. And Pomp and Circumstance seems a more fitting name for that tune every time I attend a graduation ceremony.

On an unrelated note, I think I’ve determined that one day becoming a member of the Cornell faculty is a worthwhile goal- but whether I’ll pursue it or not is yet to be seen. :/

On another completely different (and even more) unrelated note, my compiles have finished, and I am again using neops1. :D

Also, beth is going to be moving into the apartment two doors over from ours, in the same building. XD

Hrmm…. that’s enough disjointed posting for now, methinks.

Mood: ecstatic

Unconcious Mutterings Week 69

I should really go to sleep, seeing as I have to get up early to help out with commencement. Oh well, at least I have Monday off to sleep in ;)

Here’s this week’s:
I say … and you think … ?

  1. Lover::hater
  2. Ridiculous::saying
  3. Oscar::Meyer Weiner
  4. Tennis::Club (??? I know, you play tennis with a racket.)
  5. Account Balance:: Zero
  6. Hickey::Red
  7. License::Driver
  8. Breathmints::Fresh
  9. TexMex::Mix
  10. Stepmother::Father

All is right with the world….

Today has been a good day.

First, I found out that Beth was offered a job at SGN (where I work), which she is definitely accepting. Which mans she’s moving up here to Ithaca. Which means she’s coming up this weekend to find an apartment, and is bringing ctl with her. XD

Then, after an uneventful day at work, I went over to UPS and picked up the RAM I bought from Beth (to correct the issues I’ve been having). I came home, installed it, and started up a run of memtest86 (just to be sure).

While that ran, I went off to do some boring housekeeping stuff (e.g. change the kitty litter, take out the trash, deal with the recycling [that has built up for the past 4 weeks- we’re such pigs], clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, etc.), which took about an hour and a half to complete. When I was done, memtest86 had gone up to test 9, with no errors. I decided that was good enough, so I rebooted and started up a new emerge -e world. Which has run for the past hour without segfaulting or otherwise doing things it shouldn’t.

All of which means I’m a very happy camper.

Hello, glacier- will you be my neighbor?

Of course I’ve heard about the recent Pentagon/global warming “the sky is falling” stuff. I even told others about it when a first saw it a month or so back.

But after seeing this item on /. today, reading the actual document, and reading this interview with the author of said document, I’m a bit ambivalent about the whole thing.

On the one hand, of course I feel this if a possible, if not probable, occurance. And common sense tells me that of course this will happen, eventually- the climate always changes, every civilization faces hardship (and eventually falls), life on this planet seems to cycle- dominance is eventually destroyed, and quickly replaced. And those in power are prone to ignore problems until it’s too late (i.e. “Oh shit! The sky is falling! Fix it!” instead of “We have to find a better way to do this before it causes problems for our children, or their children”)- but that, of course, is the nature of humanity. I completely agree that it is not a question of if this may occur, but rather when it will occur. And I think it is likely to happen, or at least start, in my generation’s lifetime- since we (as a species) show no signs of seriously trying to prevent it from happening.

On the other hand, seeing that the story is on Greenpeace’s website disturbs me. This is a throwback to my Freshman year at Rutgers, where I learned about the evils of Greenpeace, ironically, in my Human Ecology (11:374:101) course. Basically, Greenpeace is a militant, one-sided group who will stop at nothing to get it’s sometimes misguided (but oftentimes justified) point across. I don’t disagree with their goals, on the contrary, I believe that many of them are noble- but I simply cannot respect an organisation that believes that the ends justify any means.

This raises the question in my mind- who really paid for this study/paper/whatever? I know the Pentagon commissioned it, but who is to say that Doug Randall, Peter Schwartz, or any of the scientists they consulted didn’t have separate interests? It’s not unheard of for private interests to have a large say in our government, afterall.

Regardless, the fact remains that something needs to be done, and quickly. The sooner we can reduce the usage of fossil fuels, the butter (Duh! Have you seen gas prices lately? ;) ). Whether Terra Climate System Failure is imminent or not is yet to be seen, but it is probably best to assume it is- if only so people will start getting off of their collective asses and start taking preventative measures now.

I’m not being high and mighty here- I’m including myself in the group as probably being equal to or worse than the average US consumer:

  • I live 6 miles from work so must drive every day – though I would prefer to bike, walk, or take the bus, (especially since I dislike driving) none of these are feasible options :(
  • I leave my computer on all the time (when it’s working) – but I do turn off the monitor which uses the majority of the power IIRC (of course, my computer is also full of various cold cathode and blinkinlights, which may use more power in the end)
  • I eat meat – but mostly chicken as beef is kinda gross and usually overrated
  • I create large amounts of plastic and paper rubbish, and am not the best at recycling (especially batteries, though I think we should swicth to rechargeable batteries anyway) – but I do pick up other people’s litter when it is in my path and dispose of it properly

On a related note, I’m really looking forward to seeing The Day After Tomorrow, if only because I really love movies or stories about the apocalypse, or taking place in a post-apocalyptic world.

I am _so_ not a hardware person

I got the new RAM today. Predictably, it didn’t work.

I always seem to have bad luck, in one way or another, when upgrading my hardware. This itme I was absolutely certain I didn’t do anything stupid- everything should have been compatible, and I know I didn’t blow up anything. I even doublechecked with various other people whether my estimates of compatibility were correct.

The computer just doesn’t post with the new RAM installed. I tried moving it ot another slot, and sure enough, the computer beeps angrily at me when I try to boot- so it is at the very least seeing the RAM, just nor using it, for some reason. At first I thought it was the video card somehow dying spontaneously, but the computer works (as well as it has been for the past few days, anyway) when I put the old RAM back again. I even reset the CMOS, to no avail.

Anyway, the only conclusion anyone has come up with is that the new RAM is bad. So much for that software testing I paid for, Pha! Anyway, it turns out that Beth has some RAm that will serve my purposes nicely (albeit two DIMMS instead of one), so I’ve purchased that from her, and should have it (hopefully) by Friday night. I’m returning the memory-shaped mistake, and will simply eat the stupid restocking fee (not to mention the other $20 in useless tests, upgrades, and fast shipping I originally paid. Bah.).

Hopefully the new RAM works- I’m really sick of eating eggnog-flavored ice cream.

00:13 <tekniklr> Yeah, thank $DEITY I have Cornell’s laptop :)
00:13 <tekniklr> And ice cream.
00:13 <tekniklr> Ice cream heals tortured souls.

Mood: Hopeful
Music: Silence. At least the lack of audible computer noise :(

Bush, facism, and the loss of personal freedoms

“Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

I’m probably going to get flamed, or at least argued with over this post. And probably for good reason- my views are very one sided and I admit it. I also know that whenever one’s views stray so far to one side that one can no longer fathom the reasoning that the other side is using (except in extreme circumstances), that there is a problem, and perspective needs to be regained, somehow.

Anyway, I read stuff like this, espeicially the below quote, and it makes me angry. Extremely angry. So angry in fact, that I feel the need to bother everyone who reads my blog about it.

<snip>
In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school’s closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being “un-American” because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s failure to give substance to its “No child left behind” education policy.

The girl’s mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child’s poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.

The idea of destroying or silencing opinions you do not agree with infuriates me. I know that stuff like this isn’t new- that it has been around since mankind first climbed out of the trees, picked up a stick, and beat his neighbor to death. I’m simply too young to know now whether it really is worse now, with our current administration, or whether in past administrations I was simply too young and naïve to notice or care what was happening. But I find aging hippies agreeing with me. Does this make me some sort of new age retro hippy? Probably, I do live in Ithaca, afterall.

Anyway, back to the matter of my one-sidedness… I honestly can’t fathom anything that isn’t completely trivial that is good about the current administration. Really amazingly high on my list of heinousosity ranks the Patriot Act, with this amazingly stupid war trailing hot on it’s heels.

I’d loved to say I was surprised when I heard about recent atrocities committed by Americans in Iraq, but I really wasn’t. If anything, I was surprised that it took this long for stuff like this to be exposed- didn’t everyone know it had to be happening? Maybe I am too much of a cynic, but I’m right, aren’t I? Anyway, truthfully I’d doubt that there would be any less torture happening had anyone else been in office and for some reason we still went to war, but I do think there might be more admittance of wrongdoing on certain parts. And unlike some, now that we are in Iraq, I don’t think we have the option of just up and leaving- a decision has been made, and we have to stand by it long enough to try and correct it. Just leaving would show weakness- not to mention leaving a worse situation than what was there before we interfered.

I’ve established that I think the Bush administation is a Very Bad Thing. And I’m aware that the theoretically possibly Kerry administation doesn’t seem to be wonderful, either- but I do see it as a huge improvement over what we currently have. And I really don’t see how only about half of the rest of the American public sees it the same way…. is there something good about the current administration I am missing? Or does the rest of the country really agree with what is going on?

And then there’s Nader… who may very well be the best of the bunch, but doesn’t really have a snowflake’s chance in hell of winning, and in a close race would most likely only seal the Republican Party’s victory (again). The only candidates that will ever matter are the official Republican and Democrat offerings, at least until the voting methods are changed (e.g., instead of a binary yes/no option, a way to rank one’s 2 or 3 choice candidates- this way people would be more likely to risk votes on a non-mainstream candidate because their other vote would still count in the end. IME, smaller-scale elections tend to work this way now, and with today’s computers and soon-to-be-viable electronic voting, I think this method is completely feasible on a larger scale.). In the meantime, I think this is a wonderful idea that, predicitably, neither party involved would go for.

Ill today

I felt really ill today at work (for female reasons). Anyway, it was particularly bad and got to the point where I knew if I didn’t go somewhere and go to sleep, I’d puke. So, I called it an early day and headed home around 15:30. Worst. Trip. Ever.

The entire walk/drive home, I was in agony. I must have particularly bad dogma, because I caught almost every light on the way. Anyway, I finally got home, and managed to get about 45 minutes of sleep (luckily, enough to feel markedly better) before Chris got home with his parents, who want to see the new property as well as our house plans.

Anyway, it looks like property-viewing and fooding are in the planning stages at the moment. I don’t think I’ll eat much, but I feel well enough at this point to be quasi-social, so I might as well :)

Phones, geeks, Asperger’s Syndrome, and me

If you know me well, you are probably well aware of my disdain of talking on the telephone. Depending on who you are, you either accept this as part as who I am, or you hold it against me and consider me a horrible person who refuses to stay in touch and has an irrational fear of the telephone.

This is partially true- I do have some fear of talking on the phone, but it’s not exactly irrational. Truth is, I (as I expect many other geek-minded individuals do as well) simply express myself much better in text than verbally. There are multiple reasons for this:

  • I seem to have trouble hearing, or at least parsing, what other people say to me. This causes a delay in my reaction while I try to decode what was said and see if I heard it well enough to make sense out of it. Which means that just as I am getting about ready to respond, the conversation usually moves on.
  • My general verbal skills are not wonderful, in several ways:
    • I had to take speech therapy classes for the duration of my elementary school years to correct my pronunciation of various consonants (i.e., ‘l’, ‘r’, ‘th’). To this day I have trouble pronouncing certain words, and on occassion end up mispronouncing them so that no one knows what I am talking about.
    • My written vocabulary is far superior to my verbal vocabulary. This goes both for English words and phrases as well as computer terms. There are many words/phrases/terms that I use in chat or email on a regular basis but have never said out loud and have no idea how they are really pronounced. Usually I try to fudge the phonetics, but end up confusing people or making a fool of myself.
    • I seem to have developed a mild stutter in the past few months. I don’t think that nervousness is the sole cause, though it surely makes things worse.
  • When I type, there is a backspace key. I have more time to plan what I am saying and the order in which to present information. Hence, I perform better when given a medium that has a better organizational capacity. Spoken language tends towards entropy too much for my tastes.
  • My short-term memory and attention span are not what they could be. Oftentimes while listening to people my mind will wander to other (sometimes more interesting) things. Then later when I decide to pay attention again I find I have invariably missed some important information. And in ‘real life’ there is no ‘rewind’ or ‘scroll up’ button :)
  • On the same note, emails can be saved for later use and chat leaves logs which I can save for the same purpose. Hence, when a question comes up several months later (which they usually do) and I have forgotten the original answer (which I usually do), I can grep my records for the original search phrase and will hopefully come up with the answer quickly. This way I don’t have to bother anyone with questions which have prevously been asked.
  • Email is not time-critical, and sending an email at 2 AM and going to bed means you have a good shot of later checking for a reply at noon and actually having a useful enough answer to allow you to continue what you were originally doing. Sending questions and answers via email ends up being faster and more efficient than phone tag, in the end.

I have gotten a lot of crap in the past for my dislike of the telephone, especially in business relations. My thinking is that, the phone is an inefficient use of my time, and an uncomfortable situation to boot. If someone insists on conducting business with me over the phone, they can be assured that I will not be happy about it- and if I am setting my fee, they can also be assured that I will raise it accordingly. I’m at the point now where I see the telephone as an antiquated medium, only preferred by people not clued enough to use more modern and useful forms of communication. Typically, people (especially employers) disagree with me.

It seems that not all geeks disagree with me. I feel that this may be becoming a more popular sentiment among the technical cognoscenti. Of course, this may all be related to the geek syndrome (which I’m beginning to feel represents my particular idiosyncrasies more and more).

Abecedarian Survey

Stolen from Justn:

  1. Age: 24.
  2. Boyfriend/girlfriend: Neither, though I’d only be interested in the former.
  3. Chore you hate: Doing dishes.
  4. Dad’s name: Hank.
  5. Essential everyday item: I’m going ot have to say this is a toss up between my cellphone (mostly for the camera), my Leatherman (because it always seems to come in useful), and my moleskine (because, as Bobby has said- I write the secrets to the universe in there). The iPod mini might make the list eventually, but since I’ve only had it for about two days it’s not there yet :)
  6. Favorite actor/actress: No one in particular, but I’m fond of Bruce Campbell, Wil Wheaton, and Seth Green.
  7. Gold or silver: No question about it – silver. It mathes the rest of my color schemes better, and has a cool metal high-tech look that gold lacks.
  8. Hometown: Westwood, NJ.
  9. Instruments you play: Air guitar. But one day I’d like to learn the moog, and the theremin.
  10. Job: Bioinformatics Analyst (Programmer/Analyst III) with the Solanaceae Genomics Network (Tanksley Lab) at Cornell University.
  11. Kids: None, and no plans to ever have my own. I may adopt one in the future though, and though I’m not a huge fan of young kids in general, I have considered doing a ‘big sister’ or mentoring thing one day (mostly to introduce young girls to how cool computers can be), so I must not dislike children as much as I once thought :)
  12. Living arrangements: Currently sharing a tiny apartment with Chris, but this summer we are going to build a real house. (Yay big bedroom!)
  13. Mom’s name: Grace.
  14. Number of siblings you have: Naught.
  15. Overnight hospital stays: When I was young, I had two operations to (mostly) correct my strabismus. I’m not sure if this was overnight, actually- but it’s pretty much my only hospital stay. I tend to be pretty healthy (and lucky).
  16. Phobia: Going down. Not exactly heights, really- and though falling is definitely a part of it, it’s not the whole of it. Just walking down steep inclines or a long stretch of stairs (esp. narrow stairs) really freaks me out. For instance, my legs start shaking (which of course, only exacerbates the situation). I absolutely love standing in really high places and looking around (and down), however.
  17. Quote you like: At the moment:

    “The hurkle, as has been said before, is a happy beast. It curvetted and sailed, soared and somersaulted, and at last brought up against a brick wall with stunning and unpleasant results. It was learning, the hard way, a distinction between weight and mass. The effect was slight but painful. It drew back and stared forlornly at the bricks. Just when it was beginning to feel friendly again…” – Theodore Sturgeon, The Hurkle is a Happy Beast

  18. Ride you have: A ’92 Ford Escort (sedan – red).
  19. Show[s] you like: Star Trek (the original series), South Park, The Screensavers, X-Play.
  20. Time you wake up: On work days, about 0800. On weekends and vacations, barring other plans, whenever I happen to wake up. Usually about 7-9 hours after whenever I went to sleep :)
  21. Unique habit: I may be odd, but I don’t really believe that anything I do is entirely unique, per say. But anyway, perhaps my tendancy to take things which are not obviously jokes too literally?
  22. Vegetable you refuse to eat: Peppers- can’t stand them. As an aside, I really dislike mushrooms with a passion (but I know that wouldn’t have answered this question, so I didn’t try).
  23. Worst habit: Tardiness.
  24. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, chest (at one point in 2002 they thought I may have had pneumonia, but it turned out to be something else which they couldn’t identify [but antibiotics fixed anyway]).
  25. Yummy food you make: Eggs and pasta. Yes, I got this recipe from 2600. So sue me. I think it tastes good :P
  26. Zodiac Sign: Libra