Archive for the 'Life' Category
Airman Larry

When I was going through training in the fabled Vincent Hall at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, we were shown a video referred to as “Airman Larry.”  The actual title seems to be “Electrical Trauma.”


Bloodbath Midterm

Let me start by saying that I test very well. I am good enough at taking tests that often I will be able to perform better than I should be able to given my knowledge of the subject being tested. I have, as it were, test skillz.

My Investment Analysis (i.e. “Economics for Engineers”) professor has spent at least a half hour of cumulative class time telling us what a bloodbath the exam is going to be and explaining the reasons why it will be so hard to convince us that he’s not an evil bastard. Ok, actually, I think he describes himself as evil when discussing the exam, but I figure it’s slightly more likely that he’s kidding than not…

Anyway, the midterm is going to be a bloodbath. He assigns grades in the class by class rank, so he needs to be able to tell the top ranking student apart from the second ranking student, etc. This is possible if you don’t have three or four students clustered together with perfect scores on the exam. Therefore, he strives to put the average score at around 50%. The important thing to remember, he says, is that the raw score is only indirectly related to your letter grade. Your class rank is directly related to your letter grade.

And it’s tangent time. Bear with me.

I estimate that while in the Army, I spent about 3 years not dreaming at all. I developed sleep apnea, and I simply wasn’t asleep long enough to enter REM sleep for about three years. It’s been successfully treated, now, with a machine that I strap to my face every night so that I can breathe while I sleep. I dream, these days. However, I don’t remember the dreams very often, and it’s been a long time (before the Army, I believe) since I had a nightmare.

My alarm clock is due to wake me in 10 minutes. However, the nightmare woke me 20 minutes ago. I dreamed that I was taking the exam. Among the many wonderful things I dreamed about the exam were:

  • I had somehow missed hearing the professor tell everyone in the class to get up and move to another classroom. I only realized something was wrong when
  • I realized that instead of working on my exam, I was listening to the audio from a Monty Python sketch. When I rushed to turn off the audio file and pick up where I left off on the exam,
  • I realized that the room was dark and nobody else was there. Finally, in contrast with how most people feel about math problems on exams, I was horrified when I realized that
  • there were almost no math problems on this exam. (What can I say? Math’s what I do.)

I think that the professor has somehow put the fear of exams in me. Or maybe the gods of test-taking finally realized that I’ve been unafraid of tests for over two decades and rebalanced me.

Ah, well. Enough rambling. Time to go turn off my alarm clock and do a little studying for that exam tomorrow.

In your own time, Langford.

I’ve lived in this apartment for a little over three months, now.

This week I unpacked many (most? maybe.) of my moving boxes.   Not all, mind you, but I have emptied almost all of the cardboard.  I still have some plastic crates, but I’m keeping those, so they don’t really count.

Assembling furniture… angrily

The true story of his new furniture, during which Wil got angry, happy, injured and finally angry/happy.



About 20 hours ago, I changed from Active Duty Army to Individual Ready Reserve status. I am not on active duty for the first time in six years.

Which made it, upon reflection, pretty funny that I got a call from a former Army supervisor of mine at 06:08 local time this morning about an Army matter. I was awake, but still. :)

It was actually good news, which is rare for a 6am call from a former boss. Anyway, combine the good news, the practically-civilian status with the previous post’s point and you’ll perceive that I’m a pretty powerfully pleased pupil.

Today’s letter is apparently the letter P. Especially after I noticed the trend and whipped out the

School’s going ok, I guess.

I got my first Physics exam score back today.

Before I relate the actual raw score, let me say that there are some mitigating factors here. I am taking Physics II with Calculus. I haven’t had any contact with Calculus in two years. I haven’t had a Physics course before. Ever. I started my Physics career with Physics II with Calculus. I nearly dropped the course the first week and went with an easier one. I decided that I could do it and I toughed it out.

So, now that I’ve softened it up a bit, my raw score was 44.

This may seem low. Consider, though, that the class average was 31. And both my score and the class average were out of a possible 44 points.

I shall now launch into smug, arrogant bragging, so you’ll probably want to just move on to XKCD or something.


Shifts, occidental et al

So there have been some changes.

I’m effectively no longer in the Army. I’m living in downtown Porland, Oregon. I’m a full-time college student at Portland State University. I’m breathing easier. Let’s take these one at a time, shall we?


Garden-Variety Portland

Yesterday I went to the Japanese Garden with Andrea, an old friend of mine that I originally met in Gainesville, FL. We walked through the Rose Garden to get there, but all of the bushes there were pruned back for the winter. I can’t imagine what the Rose Garden will look like in the spring.

The Japanese Garden was very peaceful, in spite of the hordes of people and children who were roaming the grounds and shouting at each other. Andrea and I managed to spend a very pleasant few minutes sitting on a covered bench and talking quietly.  While much of the flora was bare for the winter, it was still beautiful.

Today, I went to the Chinese Garden.  It was, to be honest, kind of disappointing after the Japanese Garden.  Two probable reasons are that the winterization hit the Chinese Garden harder aesthetically and that I went to the Chinese Garden by myself.  I’ll have to revisit it in the spring with a friend and compare the two gardens then.

White Zone/Red Zone Dichotomy

Male announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Female announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Male announcer: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.
Female announcer: No, the white zone is for loading. Now, there is no stopping in a RED zone.
Male announcer: The red zone has always been for loading.
Female announcer: Don’t you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for unloading.
Male announcer: Look Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again. There’s just no stopping in a white zone.


My day started at 03:15 EST and ended at about 22:00 PST. There were two flights and numerous bus and plane rides during the course of the day.

Some events of the day:

  • There was another guy with a Macbook right across the aisle from me on the first flight. I reached up and tapped him on the shoulder; when he turned around I held up my Macbook. He grinned and gave me the thumbs-up. I grinned back and we both proceeded to Mac it up for an our or so. After we landed and the all-clear was given to use cell phones, he pulled out a Treo. I pulled out mine and tapped him on the shoulder again. Good taste, that man.
  • There was a diabetic guy on my second flight that had some sort of raised-blood-sugar episode on the plane after putting all of his medications in his checked luggage. I actually got to hear the “is there a doctor on board” phrase. He was alive when the PDX EMTs wheeled him off the plane and I’m guessing he’s probably ok, now.
  • I was on the MAX (Portland’s light-rail system) heading west into downtown when a guy got yanked off of the train by MAX’s security. He was clearly drunk and singing, loudly and badly, Kansas’s Carry On My Wayward Son, among other classic rock songs that he was apparently listening to on his headphones.
  • I got picked up from PDX airport by Andrea, an old friend from UF.
  • I picked up the keys to the apartment that I had leased, unseen, back in December. Unfurnished means, among other things, no bed, no chair and no shower curtain.
  • I bought a bed today. This turned out to be a non-trivial outing, especially considering the constant drizzle, my unfamiliarity with TriMet and the relatively remote location of the bed store. Mom helped by calling around and locating a store that would give me a good deal. The Army helped by providing me with the fortitude to stay upright and coherent even though I was exhausted and still suffering from a fairly enervating cold. Directly behind the bed store was a Target, where I obtained a shower curtain and some toilet paper. And some very hot soup in a breadbowl. The bread was low quality but the dough was very sour. In Maryland, it was high quality bread but you couldn’t really tell it was supposed to be sourdough. Anyway, the bed won’t be delivered until Saturday so I’m sleeping on the floor tonight.
We’ve got spaghetti! And…

Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson. I started rereading it today during the last few moments of my lunch break and finished it just now.

I could probably recommend it enough, but assuming medical science isn’t going to let either of us live past 200 years old, neither you nor I have enough time. Got a little carried away there; sometimes my praise gets away from me. It’s a fine story and the art matches it well. I’ll leave it at that. Many aspects of the story evoke strikingly similar memories of my own childhood and adolescence, so for me it’s particularly poignant.

For example, Craig relates how he and his brother would walk atop iced-over snow as far as possible without breaking through the crust. I did the *exact* same thing on the sand around Crooked Lake (Lake Calusa, officially) when I was a kid. The sun would dry a similar crust onto the beach after a rain, and I would try (and often succeed for a while) to walk across it without breaking through.