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.


Dammit, CNN

I’ve been without a programming language at home for too long. I have, in the past, used bash scripting, perl, php and (only at work!) VBA. I’m sure that at some point soon I’ll be needing a language again. By the time I really, really need it, it will be too late to quickly pick it up again, so this time I’m going to be ready.

Python, I choose you.

This paragraph originally started with “two reasons for Python,” which became three. Then, as I was about to amend it to four before I’d even typed the first reason, I realized that I was quickly getting into Spanish Inquisition territory. Therefore, amongst the reasons for my choice of Python are such diverse elements as:

  • open-source
  • extremely portable
  • CNN recommends it (not the news network)
  • XKCD (of course)
  • fun

So, there we go. While I’ve been typing this, Python has been downloading and installing. It’s now downloaded and installed. Off I go.

Oh. One last thing before I go. I hadn’t seen today’s XKCD when I chose today for my programmer’s renaissance, but it just tells me that I’m making the right choice.

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.
Layer Cake

Spoilers in the full entry. You’ve been warned.


Koo-koo! Koo-koo!

I wish, just once, I could refresh my blog and be surprised with a new entry.

When I was five, my parents asked me what I wanted for my sixth birthday. I told them I wanted a Surprise Party. Think about that for a moment, and then consider how awesome my parents are that they pulled it off. I got my surprise party. My dad and I rode our bicycles around areas of Bartow that I’d never been to before, which distracted me during the time leading up to the party.  The party itself was at Ritchie’s Northern Pizza (yes, my love for pizza is over two decades old.) They took me there for dinner and all of my friends were hiding under the tables in the restaurant. It was awesome; my parents were, and are, awesome.

I’m still optimistically refreshing for that unexpected blog post, though.


I just found this post on my SU page, originally titled (and dated) Jan 8, 2006 3:40am:

I just spent seven straight hours providing technical supervision over two sites that were trying to accomplish something. It didn’t go well. I had the following conversation several times:

me: Ok, ::site A::, without changing any settings on anything, please tell me what the current value of ::setting B:: is on ::equipment C::. I’m serious about not changing anything. No, really.

site A: Ok, we broke out the D&D dice, rolled a new value for ::setting Q:: and entered it on ::equipment J,R,Z and 5:: as you directed. Now our coffee maker doesn’t beep anymore when you press the buttons. Woof! I’m a cow.

me: Don’t make me come down there.

site A: huh? what did *we* do?

site B: hey, are we site L or site M? I forget.

me: hey, do you mind if I curl up under my desk and cry quietly to myself for about three days?

my supervisor: ahh, what the hell. go ahead.

When someone says that a relaxing massage or a quiet drink takes “the edge off,” what has its edge removed? I don’t know, but the last seven hours put an ugly, sharp, jagged edge onto it for me.

Keep in mind that these were Army satellite communication sites. “Army Strong.” Nobody said anything about “Army Smart.”

The title, for those not in the know, means, “Put a qualified operator on the line.”

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.

Snuggled up with Torment

I’ve been lamenting the lack of quality in recent games for the last couple of weeks. I keep coming back, in my head, to Planescape: Torment, the best game I’ve ever played.

I realized that I don’t need to pine for it. I can play it.

So I just installed it, and even before I start it for the first time, I’ve done all the little things to make the experience more pleasant. I’ve copied all the files from each of the CDs to the install directory and redirected the game’s config file to look there. I’ve official patched, unofficial patched and addon-to-unofficial patched. I didn’t turn Annah into a leprechaun yet, but I’ve got the files necessary to do so and I’m reserving the right.

I’ve dimmed the lights. I’ve consumed enough caffiene to stun a water buffalo.

I’m ready to become… Nameless.