Tuesday, December 27, 2005

One of my friends didn't take a computer back to school with him

I mean, he had a computer, he just didn't take it with him. He says he gained so much free time, because he doesn't waste time mucking around on it, and he loves it. Granted, he's more hardcore than I, but it's an interesting idea. The problem is my damn major, and if I didn't have a computer, I'd have to be in the cluster a lot more. That's not too good. Point is, it's a neat idea.

In other news, I had a great Christmas, and I'm sure you all did too- if you didn't, and I ask you "how was your Christmas?" as I'm sure I'll do when I get back- I'm not very creative- I expect you to tell me that it wasn't too good. Really, I care, I'm not just making small talk. And if I am just making small talk, then slap me or something, because small talk is for suckas.

What if I made better small talk? What if, instead of "Hey, how's it going?" it was "Hey. If you couldn't be your current religion (or lack thereof), what would you be?" or "Hey, what's your favorite city that you've ever visited?" or "Hey. Would you rather know that you screwed up something huge in your life and you could have done better, or that you were just mucked in the first place?" or "Hey, who's the second-last person that you've talked to?" or "Hey. Arms or kicker?"

It's another neat idea. Might throw some people off. Might make life a bit more interesting. Might make me bizarre and intolerable. If so, I'll quit.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Ski trip status: Booked, confirmed, ready to go!

It's taking a lot of effort not to put a lot of exclamation marks in this post.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What am I trying to do here?

After reading previous post a few times, it strikes me that it's a little arrogant, and entirely unnecessary. A reality kick from Beej happened too- is it true that every time he posts a comment, I post again, recanting my previous post? Whatever, he's right.

I don't have an axe to grind with anyone, there's nobody with whom I'm trying to settle the score, and so why not just leave well enough alone? I still say honesty is nice, but it's not like we're in an honesty crisis right now. No use trying to stir up trouble when no such trouble exists.

On that note, I'm home from finals, finals were great, it's break, it's Christmas, and I'm going skiing in a couple weeks! So there are no problems anywhere! Exult! Jubilate!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Here is exactly what I think of you:

There, the title got your attention. I'll diverge to say that the band Aveo (A Seattle band that opened for Death Cab and Ben Kweller... I have their cd "Battery", I like it a lot... you've probably never heard of them... God, I'm a pretentious indie fuck) has a song called "3:33 AM/The Insomnia Waltz". It's now two hours after 3:33 AM. Irrelevant.

You know what? I can't say exactly what I think of you. I realized this tonight at dinner; well, at post-dinner... at Eat'n'Park midnight breakfast buffet. Four people know what brought this on; the specific case is not that big a deal. The point is: It is very much a faux pas in our society to say exactly what you think of someone.

Say there's someone you don't like. And you don't have a "legitimate" reason for not liking him. ("legitimate" reasons include: he actually committed a crime against you. That's about it.) You can't say bad stuff about him when he's around- I mean, he'll hear you. What if you're not around him? Nope, can't say anything bad then, because then you're a sneaky sly backstabber who acts nice around someone and says bad stuff behind his back. What can you do? You can imply stuff; you can sugarcoat it enough so that the people you're talking to know what you're talking about, but you didn't say it.

Which has the exact same effect as you just saying it! So why can't you do that?!

Joe once said that he wanted to post on his blog or something: send me an email, and I will tell you exactly what I think about you. My immediate reaction: "great idea!" But then he said, "well, you can never do that unless you're graduating." I thought for a minute and realized-- that's true. Why? Think about it- those emails you would write would become a swift zephyr through your social house of cards. That's obviously true, right? But why does it instictively seem like it would be so destructive?

Now, in an ideal world, all of your friends are people you admire entirely, because that's how the best friendships are. If you each respect the other person a lot, you have the same status, and yet you both think each other's at the higher status- as a result, you always want to be around that person. Petty squabbles get discarded, because your stake in each minor bicker isn't important enough to risk ruining your relationship with this Person of Higher Status.

Maybe the problem is that life ropes you into friendships with people you don't admire. Through classes, jobs, SnS/other activities, you have to spend a lot of time with people you don't like. Minor annoyances become major grudges, and soon you realize you want to say a bunch of stuff about people that you just can't say. Now would it be better to get that all out in the open? I don't know! If someone does something that bothers you, is it worth it to say it? In an ideal world, would it be worth it to say it? On the one hand, it'd be a lot more complaining. On the other... I mean, honesty is good, and having all these grudges pent up inside is undoubtedly bad.

Now, if you were Jesus or something, you could just decide not to have these grudges, and then you wouldn't, and then you would love everyone equally. But A, you're not Jesus, and B, that sucks, because if you love everyone equally you don't love anyone particularly, and you have a bunch of vague friend/acquaintances. It's almost like you have to know all these acquaintances to appreciate your real friends.

The above paragraph is the reason I think that this problem is not unique to me. To not have this problem; that is, to not have friends whom you really don't admire; is either to be very lucky or to be Jesus. ("Jesus" used here as a vague embodiment of a creature that loves everyone equally, and not as a specific religious figure) Of course, I could be wrong: I could be a real ass and you all think everyone else in the world is great.

And again, maybe this isn't a problem, because to appreciate great friends you have to have a contrast of okay friends. And for each okay friend, I'd say overall, it's more than worth it to take the good with the bad. So what am I even writing? I don't know- it's 6 AM and I deserve to get all dumbass-psychological once in a while; hey, if you don't like it, don't read it. You readers deserve something a little deeper than the usual "life is great! life is bad! life is great again!" meanderings of this blog... if this is a window inside my mind, I don't want you to think I'm shallower than I am. But if you've read this far, read the next paragraph:

Admittedly, this post so far is a bit judgmental. To say that I have friends I don't admire is to say that I think I am better than some of my friends. I don't think that; not consciously. If I reason about it, I think that most other people in the world rank better than me as a person, mostly because I haven't really been through any hardship in my life ever. On the other hand, I don't have self-esteem issues here; I feel good about myself as a person, because I think that I've done just about the best I could with what I've been given. Some people, I can say, I am better than you as a person, because I have taken what I had and made the most of it better than you have.
But ultimately, my intent is not to say that I'm better than anyone else, it's to expose my subconscious, and by getting it out into the open, to understand and control it. Most of my judgment of other people is subconscious, so I'm just exploring the darker corners of my psyche. If you understand and appreciate that, thanks. Otherwise, don't let an online post piss you off towards me; please talk to me in person before harboring another one of those hidden grudges because of anything I say online. The printed word on the white fluorescent screen is an expressionless messenger; emotions don't translate too well, and things can get taken too seriously.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I made a booya tonight! With Julie's help, and also help from Joe and Connor and Ashley who went on a last-minute run for things. And last but not least, Mike Yin, without whose car and pots I would probably still be muddling around in the trafficky clutches of Squirrel Hill.

I would like to extend formal blog shouts-out to the aforementioned people. Or whatever it is that you bloggers do. And by "bloggers", I don't mean in the "news-gathering somewhat-respectable rumormongers" sense, I mean the "ninth grader posting about OMG how much she loves LFO" sort of way. And by that, I mean that doesn't make sense because LFO was way before blogs. Point is, thanks much to Julie, Joe, Connor, Ashley, and Mike. Couldn't have pulled off this immense stewing without all of you.

I would also like to extend a formal blog shout-out to Mr. Brian Gray, the guest of honor at the booya. For serious, it hasn't been the same here without him, and I'm real glad he's back. Or "you", as the case may be, in that said Mr. Gray I think constitutes one third of the people who read this blog on a regular basis. Point is, he has returned to make the kingdom right again. Just like Aslan.

Point is, things are great here at Happy U.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Err... so clearly the way to do things is to do them, not mope about how stuff is awful. Who knew that, even though things seemed bad yesterday, they'd be done today?! Surprise! Life continues!

I got The 212 Assignment 80% done and handed it in (due tonight). I mean, I've worked on it for over 20 hours in the last 4 days or so... there's not much more they can ask. If they want more than that, sorry! But more importantly, I'm satisfied with my work. Take that, SCS!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I'm sitting in the fucking cluster right now. It's Saturday night. Here I am. I am 2/5 of the way through an assignment, have made no progress in the last two hours, and see little hope of making any further progress. This assignment is so ridiculous that all the TA's have stopped giving office hours because they're just too drained. I'm sitting at this goddamn computer in the Unix cluster, because the banter of a few CS trolls is quieter than the banter of a couple of guys in the Windows cluster talking about how much or how little money they have. A side effect is that I'm sitting at this goofy-ass Unix computer that has such cute quirks as:
-backspace and delete are switched
-getting a decent text editor is a lot harder than it should be
-you can't open acrobat files in a browser- you have to download and open them through typing "acroread" on the command line
-oh yeah, and when I click the middle mouse button, it takes me to http://www.assi.com/. What?!

I'd really like to go have fun somewhere, doing something, it doesn't even matter. Or even, I wish I could do this assignment at home, on my own computer, but due to AFS and etc, that doesn't work. Oh well, that's life I guess.

Snowman Update

Someone built, from the ashes of 4-story snowman mcgee, another snowman. He's only got 3 stories, and he's kind of tiny, compared to the original, but whatever. Whoever did that rocks.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I just had a Great Life Experience™

It's snowing a lot! So I went to the Cathedral lawn to have a walk around and enjoy the snow. I took my camera, because I'm a fool. You can't take pictures in the dark like that!

At any rate, some kids were building a snowman. So I said, I'll take some damage. What?? Okay, I'm watching Joe play the Magic: the Gathering computer game, and I was talking and typing, and so that sentence just completed itself. I'll start over.

At any rate, some kids were building a snowman. So I said, I'll build a snowman. So I did. I got a big ball of snow, lugged it over in front of Webster, and plunked it down. I made 3 more big balls of snow, plopped them on top, and there you go, a 4-story snowman.

There you go! Proof that it existed! Proof necessary because, shortly afterwards, a big drunk jock "slipped" and knocked it over. He was all like "oops, sorry man, I slipped, that sucks, dude" and snickering. That's great! I got my snowman knocked over by a big drunk jock! Hilarious! Life is wonderful!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's snowing!

And it's getting in to that time of year when everything's a party. Classes are over- party! Exam week and I have no exams- party! Go home, it's Christmas- party!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Currently manic

I met with a counselor a couple weeks ago (through CAPS! it's free! you get 12 free sessions!)... I was all depressed and wanted to know if I was actually depressed or just sad. Turns out I was just sad. Well, good to know, anyway.

But she asked if I ever experience mania, describing a sensation of a ton of energy and euphoria, where you can't sleep or anything, lasting like 24-48 hours. Well, until she mentioned the 24-48 hours thing, I thought, "all the time." Usually on weekends or when something really sweet is coming up, and usually after some coffee.

Right now, I'm getting that. Now, son of a gun, I had a 20oz. of diet dr. pepper a few hours ago, when I thought I'd be in UC318 for hours. I thought, pop doesn't have enough caffeine to get me manic. But it does, and now here I am. God, it's a wonderful sensation. I can do anything right now. It's one of the greatest feelings on earth, partially because I feel able to really be me, able to really enjoy life right now. Everything else is better. It'll suck a little bit tomorrow because I'll be low on sleep (especially after the last 2 nights) but right now, I feel great. I'm trying to calm myself down, because really, I'm tired too.

Why are things great?

-Little Footsteps was great. I'm so proud of it. I think I probably did the best job I've ever done in it, just because I hopefully progressed as an actor since WASP a year ago. WASP might have been a better final product- man, that show was great. But whatever, Little Footsteps was great too. All of us (incl. actors, directors, and all the tech folks- thanks so much to you guys by the way!) did excellently.

-No more rehearsals! I love SnS, I like acting, but it'll be nice to have some time off.

-This weekend's been great. Saturday's party at Il Valetto house was a lot sweeter than I thought it'd be. I took notes in Sharpie marker on an exercise band. I'm becoming more comfortable with who I am again, I think. That's a lot to say as an offhand remark, and I'm not sure if it's entirely true, but I hope so. I feel like I've backslid as a person this semester, and maybe I'm climbing back out.

-City of Angels passed for Carnival, and I feel good about the decision we as a board made. It may be very cool.

-I may turn said party notes into a story. Or maybe I'll just post them. I want to write something. It'll suck, but I want to write something. Maybe it'll be about the party, maybe not. This is the kind of thing I say when I'm manic.

-Four funny things today:
1. I yelled "fuck! shit!" prompting someone (Grubb? Gerrit?) to ask "Did you just step in the Tourette's spot?"
2. A good 185 pun from Julie: 185 neutrons walk into a bar and ask "How much for a drink?" The bartender says, "For you, no charge."
3 and 4. These are posters I saw. One said, in the middle of a page:

Kiva Han
starbucks lol

The other one said "Do you want a free iPod?" and it had pictures of ipods. No contact info or anything. And it had the little tear-off things on the bottom, where it usually has a website or phone number or something. But it just said:

Yes, please.
Yes, I would, indeed.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Add to that pie chart a big slice of study abroad!

Man, every time I look into this I get more excited. I don't even know where I'm going yet.

So I want to go to the Alps. Is that a bad motivation? I mean, I feel like that's like saying I want to study in Hawaii because I can go to the beach, or something. Study abroad isn't about taking a semester-long vacation. (is it?)

But here are my arguments, so if you want to play devil's advocate, I can play god's advocate, and banish you back into the hell-hole from which you came!

  1. I'm not going to England or France. Everyone goes there.

  2. Ideally, I'm not going to an English-speaking place. Sorry, Australia/New Zealand. Going there would be kind of sweet, but not challenging at all. It'd be like going to Chicago or something, still kind of Americanized. I think. I could be wrong, but that's my impression.

  3. There's not much in Africa. There are a few programs, but I don't think going to Africa would be relevant to my future at all, or in any other way useful.

  4. Same with Latin America. I am probably overgeneralizing here in thinking that Africa and Latin America are behind in the computer areas, but really, I can't see myself going there.

  5. The smaller Western European countries are just very interesting. My mom went to Luxembourg and loved it, I've talked to some friends who have been there ("there" being "small Western European countries") and loved them- they just sound so cool. Again, gross overgeneralization. But there it is. Switzerland in particular sounds a little bit like Utopia.

  6. Okay, so the choice is a little bit arbitrary... big deal! Wherever I go, I'd get a big new experience, so Switzerland is as good as any.

And the fact that there is awesome Alps skiing doesn't hurt.

At first I didn't think there was anything in Germany for a CS student like me, because I don't want to just study humanities for a semester. I think that would be unproductive. I don't have (or want) to be studying all CS stuff, but a little CS/math would be nice. Oh, yeah, and I don't know German. That's not a big deal for just surviving in Germany or Switzerland (I'm taking Beginning German), but it's less than good if you want to take classes in German. So I need English math/CS classes in Germany.

Apparently they exist though! Somewhere! I'm looking into it more, and this might work out really well! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


This whole event makes me happy.

In case you're unaware, (i.e. not from CMU), each week CMU shows movies, usually Wednesday-Sunday, for $1 in one of our main auditoriums. Usually, the movie titles are advertised in advance, except for one day each semester, where the only title given is "TBA". That's code for "porn". So yeah, once a semester, we show porn in a University Center auditorium.

Right before break, there was a TBA called "Pirates." This happens to be the highest-budget porn ever made (so I'm told) and includes (amidst lots of sex) CGI pirate ships and skeletons. Naturally, it was advertised a little more than most TBA's. So it got more exposure, so it came under fire from lots of folks. Some students got annoyed that we were "using student activities money to show porn,"* they had some discussion at the UC about it, and local news station KDKA even covered the event.

* this allegation is false; they brought in more than enough money from ticket sales to cover the cost of showing the movie, or so I'm told.

Oh, by the way, it got mobbed. It sold out all 3 shows, there were huge lines through the UC, most people didn't even get in. I happened to get in, and I saw it... it was pretty graphic ("hardcore", as KDKA said a lot)- I mean, it wasn't even enjoyable to watch. Besides the skeletons. Those were pretty funny.

But the point is, we at CMU did something noteworthy, kind of rebellious, people got angry, and we don't care! I mean, I think it's a hilarious tradition- if the campus got together to watch a bad movie once each semester, that'd be funny... the fact that it just happens to be a porn is so much better! Take that, politically correct society! Take that, administrators and bureaucrats! It's a prank on the entire system, an entirely harmless prank even, and I think it's great. So bravo, Activities Board, and bravo, CMU.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My mind, in a pie chart:

No actual pie chart. Sorry. You can envision one in your mind though.

A little wedge of it goes to world events. The whole gay priests thing, the Australian about to be executed in Singapore, something I just heard about a needle exchange program to prevent AIDS in Pittsburgh. The last one leaves me a bit conflicted- I mean, it's great for those who have diabetes or something and need shots, but they're not the ones getting AIDS anyway. Seems like it just enables heroin addicts. But that's one side of the argument (specifically, the 50-year-old WASP argument) and the other side is that we need to prevent AIDS, which is true too... I have nothing innovative to add to this argument, so I'll stop.

A bigger slice goes to Little Footsteps- everything's actually coming together, and it's going to work, and it'll be good! Hooray!

Sadly, a still bigger wedge goes to classes- to get everything done, and well, I'll have to donate a lot of time to them. Well, that's life I guess. The weird thing is, for most of my classes, I want to do the work! I want to just geek out about cellular automata and concurrent programming and finite fields all day! But not in place of anything else. Certainly not in place of spending that time with friends, and not in place of sleep or anything that'll make me healthier. So it waddles down at the bottom of my priority list, as usual.

Biggest chunk of the pie though: ski trip! Yeah! We're going skiing in January, in Vermont, and it rocks a lot! I can't wait! Yeah!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Suburbs again!

What is it about the suburbs?! What's wrong with them? Why do I have such a weird beef with them?*

See, don't be so hard on the suburbs. While cities have certain flavors, farms have others, the one distinguishing connotation you get in suburbs is that of "success." To live in the suburbs, (at least the outer-ring "affluent" suburbs) you have to have made it. Nobody's poor in the suburbs. And as a result, the suburbs cater to the successful. You get places like Crocker Park, this gigantic opulent shopping center that's made to look so perfectly like an old village. Restaurants like Max and Erma's, which serves food that is pretty good, and overpriced. Because what the hey, people can pay for it. Always enough parking.

Suburbs are characterized by success- so what's wrong with that? Maybe it's the fact that it's not my success that I'm getting rewarded for by living in the suburbs. Or just guilt from knowing that 99.9% of the people in the world would kill to live in such a nice environment. Maybe it is just guilt. I don't think that's it though. I don't know what it is. Anyway, time to sleep now.

*Don't ever eat weird beef.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Why I should have brought a gavel to school first semester, and it would have been funny, but now it would not be funny anymore.

Is it just me, or has the "judging" thing gone so far as to lose its meaning entirely? I mean, this started last year with Kaitlin and marijuana, and people judging her because of it, and her responding by adopting the catch phrase "don't judge me." (is that right? It may have started before I was around, I don't know.) And then some people rallied behind "don't judge me," and others responded by sarcastically saying "Ha ha, I judge people all the time" and laughing about it, as if to say "Of course I don't judge people. But it's so ridiculous that you're branding me as a "judger" that I'll just comically run with it."

The point is, everyone will deny judging, and everyone will judge everyone else at some point. This is not inherently a bad thing- it's bad when you judge people prematurely or for the wrong reasons. I guess the point is, we shouldn't do that, which is true. Everyone agrees with that.

What I'm trying to say is, it's getting old as a joke.

"We're constantly creating our world by naming, categorizing, applying value judgments to things." -not quite a quote from Foley Ah Doo, but as close as I can remember.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Too much work? That's a terrible excuse!

Yeah, it is. What am I doing? Each week that's "the same old thing" is one less good week. Next semester it'll all be different. This semester, after Little Footsteps, it'll all be different. After I finish this 212 assignment, it'll all be different. Next week (Thanksgiving) it'll all be different. At any rate, things will change, sooner or later, and there you go.

I am already 8 minutes late for class.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Good grief!

I see the world going totally out of control in the next couple days. Like everything looked sunny in August, and then clouds have rolled in here and there, and then it's clear again, except they're back now, and now they're huge, threatening nimbus clouds. I mean, some big lightning will strike soon, and everything will go nuts. I don't even know in what way. It'll be some monstrous explosion of nothing. I feel like Quentin Compson from The Sound and The Fury.

I had a fantastic night, by the way. I had more energy than I've had for a while- I've felt myself more than I have for a while. I also feel proud of myself the last couple days: I went climbing, I got a new bike*, and I went to a ski club party where I knew nobody.

*I love my new bike. I revitalized it all afternoon, with help from Gerrit, as well as Noah from Free Ride. Then I paid Free Ride $35 for the parts. Plus $7 for a new tire. It worked out exactly how I wanted. And it works, and it's solid. I feel confident riding it. I feel like I'm on a honeymoon with it, in that I want to ride it as much as I can.

Some bawdy punnery just happened. Did you catch it? I didn't, the first time I said that phrase.

But ah! There's some energy in the air. Or maybe just in me. The world is all racing towards something-- what is it? At least I hope so. That'll be interesting. Or it will just be more big nothing, and then what?! I want to do something great- something short-term and great! I want to share my energy with someone, or some people. What is happening?!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tonight I made a wager

on the goodness of one "John White."

John White, panhandler
Grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, near the racetrack where he used to work, whose name he cannot recall
Just got to Pittsburgh and started working at the (building near where I was standing) yesterday
Owns a (van that is right over there) that just broke down
Needs some kind of sealant for the antifreeze, which costs $4.80, and can be bought either at AutoZone, or, if that's closed, which it clearly is, at the shop up at Penn and Swissvale
Wait, you say you'll go buy it with me? Why would you want to do that?
Doesn't usually do this
Isn't panhandling, like those guys who are all drunk and saying "I need some money to eat"
Is a Christian
Swears to God that he's not panhandling
Does not take God lightly
Needs a sealant that costs $7.80
No, didn't say that it cost $4.80. Said that he HAD $4.80.
Has the 80 cents right here, see?
Has the four dollars, um, on his card, see, has an Access Card
See, the sealant cost $13.60, and he said he had $4.80
But then that'd be $8.80, but, uh, ...

You get the idea. Clearly lying. But I figure, what the hell. I gave John White my SMC number and mailing address. I made it possible for him to repay me (without endangering myself). I gave him the money. I know I'll never see that $4.80 again. But what if I do? Then John White is a good dude in my book, and maybe I should perk up about the general state of the world, because this is a world in which you can give a beggar some money AND GET PAID BACK.

Or, much more likely, I'll never see that $4.80 again. He gave me a phone number though. In a week (assuming he hasn't paid me), I'll call it. It'll be entertaining to see whose number he gave me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

One of the following things happened tonight:

I turned the corner of Forbes and Craig. The Starbucks has a sharp corner, I didn't see this guy until I almost ran into him. He was a little gnarled, had a big coat on, and was holding a club underneath his coat. He saw a perfect target in me, but realized that he saw me a fraction of a second too late and hesitated, and plus there was another student around, so he had to wait for his next target. The boss wouldn't be pleased if he didn't bring in a couple hundred dollars tonight. Damn! That kid's ipod alone would bring in my nightly quota! He scowled inwardly.

I took a lap around campus, went up on the numbers on top of the Posner Center, and saw in the labyrinth a ramp down and an underground door. I went inside- it was unlocked- and there was the rare book collection, bathed in a pale blue light. The air practically sparkled. The floor was made of stone, a textured but smooth blue-grey stone. The books were on pedestals, open, each one a thick tome, all uncovered, the pages so stiff that you could see every little crackle in them. I reached out to touch one of them- no, I didn't, I didn't even want to touch them- I just felt this uncanny peace, underground, alone, surrounded by these books and the blue air that almost sparkled.

I went through the UC, ran into Staci, talked to her as I walked towards Beeler street. She later reported to the police that she was the last one to talk to me.

As I went down Beeler, it took me farther and farther from campus. Somehow, every step took me 10 steps farther away. It got all darker, the kind of dark I haven't known since childhood, when night was Dark because you knew it was night and you should be asleep. The dead-of-night dark, that you never even saw, except for that one time Mom and Dad woke you up to see the meteor shower at 3 AM, and you just wanted to go back to sleep; that opportunity you wasted- not to see the meteors, because shoot, those are just dots in the sky- that opportunity you wasted to be outside in the dead of night in a suburban setting as a child, with nothing on your mind except how invigoratingly cold it was, how quiet everything was, and how you were sitting outside looking at the stars with people who loved you very much. The kind of dark that is a little darker than the darkest dark that it's safe to be outside in.

A van drove past- it looked orange, but in the streetlights, everything looked orange- with no headlights on, just his parking lights- why no headlights?? I never found out; he slowed down beside me, rolled down the window, and fired off three shots before I could even register that he was pointing a pistol at me. Each one hit me square in the chest, and I fell over, quickly resigning myself to the tired calm that was coming over me, not even realizing the pain in my chest because it wasn't pain, it was abdication, it was my body realizing there's no hope here and just plain old giving up.

Except they weren't bullets- they were tranquilizer darts, and I woke up in the back of that same van, hastily bound and gagged with duct tape. It took me maybe 10 minutes to get over my initial panic, because I don't do too well in panicky situations. By that time, I realized it didn't matter where we were; I just had to get out of the van. I could kind of earthworm-squiggle along, and my fingers had a little freedom of motion, but not much else. I looked for the handle to the door- it was clearly out of reach, and probably locked from the outside anyway. I tried to pry off any of the tape, and I could reach a little bit on my ankle, but then it made that characteristic duct-tape ripping noise, and the driver noticed and screamed at me. Shit. The second wave of panic struck, as I realized that I was completely under the control of this guy, who was clearly hostile and not necessarily reasonable. What did he want- ransom? Clearly my parents would pay it, if it was humanly possible, but who's to say it would be? Who's to say he would return me, even if they did? Who's to say I wasn't going to spend the rest of my short life in a hole in the ground in his house, before I was tortured and brutally murdered? Because if this guy was smart, there's no way the cops would find him in time. Ultimately, my life was destroyed, because of two fateful seconds: the one in which I let my guard down and decided to go running at night, and the one in which he shot me.

I turned left on Wilkins, and the sidewalk became covered with leaves. I trampled over them, until one point, where the leaves covered the sidewalk, and I stepped through the leaves into a hole. A snare around the hole caught my leg and lifted me up into the tree. What?! That happens in real life? Apparently yes, as three kids, probably younger than I, jumped out from behind the rock wall to my right and grabbed my wallet, phone, and ipod (god, what was I thinking, wearing that obvious sign of wealth around at this hour of night? the little white headphones... quite the giveaway. dumbass.) and ran off, I think towards fifth, but I was so disoriented it could have been anywhere. I caught a glimpse of them, but they were all wearing cheesy skeleton costumes, as if to say "we don't really hate you. We're just prankster kids." All the same, I was still in the tree. Luckily, though, I had enough strength to swing myself back and forth, grab the tree (it was a skinny tree), kind of shimmy up it, and- huh? a swiss army knife, stuck into the tree? a big one too, bright red, must have been expensive. and it had, engraved on it in gold script letters, "Thanks." Wow. I used the serrated blade to saw off the snare, and I jumped down to the ground. "Thanks"?! Wow. I almost felt a kinship with those skeleton kids- and what did I lose? Some money? a couple of gadgets that can be bought with money? Whatever! It's all one big joke anyway, according to the skeleton kids, these vigilantes of counter-consumerism. That night, I said a prayer of thanks to them, because I lost my chains that shackled me to my modern culture. I gained a pocketknife and some friends.

On the way home, I jaywalked across Neville Road. I was too caught up in my cute pretentious indie music to hear the car that hit me. I had one awful moment of realization as I turned my head left and THERE IT WAS. My last thought was "this is all my fault." I woke up in the hospital and my first thought was "this is all my fault." As I realized the collision had given me a spinal cord injury leaving me entirely paralyzed and unable to speak, I saw in one horrific glimpse the future before me: I could think all I wanted, but never communicate it to anyone. Or at least not any faster than I could blink my eyes in Morse code. I could think anything, but probably my only thought for the rest of my life would be "this is all my fault."

As I went down Fifth and entered Webster, I contemplated my next ten years. Here's how it goes:
Graduate from CMU with a BS in CS, a minor in Discrete Math, and a semester studied abroad in Switzerland. I never found anything I truly enjoyed doing for more than a year, I dated a couple of girls but ultimately nobody lasting, I made a few friends that would stay great friends throughout my entire life, and I got accepted into a sweet grad school. First year of grad school, I met my future wife. Throw in whatever cliches about love you want here, we went through them all, and ultimately decided they weren't enough. I got a Ph.D. through some accelerated path, and so did she. Or she got a Master's and decided that was fine. Shortly after grad school, I became a professor, she got a great job that she loved. We had a subdued wedding, we lived in a humble apartment near a big city, (or bought a house because it made more financial sense), both biked to work (and everywhere else), and cooked amazing meals. When the kids I was teaching had winter break, we'd take the money we saved by living humbly and go skiing. We went everywhere- we went to Whistler, we went to Jackson Hole, Alta, Vail, we went back to Switzerland and I showed her around. One summer, we went to Chile and skied in July. In a couple years, we decided we enjoyed it so much we wanted to go again, but we couldn't go to the same place twice, (lame!) so we went to New Zealand. Throughout it all, I kept in touch with friends from high school and college, made new ones wherever I lived, and got together with them whenever possible. So this takes me to age 30 or so, and after that, I haven't really figured it out, but I'm not worried about that yet.

Life is simple when you figure it out in five minutes at the end of a run.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

This post is probably not unique

This is where I get out a cardboard box, stand on it, speak in a slightly affected tone of voice, and try not to seem impossibly pretentious but probably failing. If that sort of thing bugs you, click here and play this game where you make little guys throw rocks at each other.

At any rate, so I'm thinking about the whole issue of the greatest good, you know, just kinda bein all philosophical without having any idea what the hell I'm talking about, and anyway what is the best thing in the world- the point of life, even? Well the usual answer, that many people (and I) would subscribe to is that it's other people, right? Not really so sure anymore. What if that's just a subset?

New hypothesis: uniqueness. The point of life is to distinguish yourself from everyone else. Things are good if they are different from other things. Think about it- where is it not true? All this talk about being the best whatever- what if it's not about being the best, it's more about being the most individual? Take, say, tennis. Why do people try to be the best at tennis? To stand out. If you are the tennis champion of your school, people know that you are the one best person at tennis. If you're Pete Sampras, the entire world knows how great you are. That's good.

What's the point of blending in with the rest of the world? Everyone agrees that it's useless. Right?

So here's where the idea melds with my previous ideas: people, and your relationships with other people are the place where I (and probably you) find most happiness. Why? Because, to another person, you're unique. When you get to know someone else, friends, family, whatever, you realize what makes that person unique, and vice versa. That's good. Seems that's also what makes relationships in the sense of boyfriend/girlfriend and even moreso husband/wife appealing- because you can say that one person is the most unique person to you in the world. And vice versa.

In art, music, food, whatever- nothing that's the same as anything else is ever the best- right? Because there's always something the same as it.

I'm not articulating this all that well- it's kind of late, I'm tired. But you know what I mean. And if not, ask me about it, and we'll get all philosophical, and it'll be sweet.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

File this one in the "what if..." folder of trite speculations

What if you could take the most intense minutes of your life and make them into a day? I'm saying that each minute in your life has a certain degree of intensity, sort of like if you gave each minute a value of good or bad, then take the absolute value of that number. Pick out the 1440 highest numbered minutes, and combine them into a day.

You'd probably get about 1 minute for every 20 days or so of your life. By now, just judging by time, we're all probably up to 5 or 6 AM.

If I were God, when you die, you'd get to live that day. Which would make things even more interesting. Sometimes you'd have minutes go by, and you'd know: I'm going to see this minute again. Ever feel that way?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Life is so bewildering. Parties doubly so.

I'd post a lot more, but I already talked it all out with Tim. Also it'd be repetitive, a lot of it.

Let's just say it got to a point where I saw this empty room, and I just went nuts, dancing like a puppy running along the exact shock line of the invisible electric fence. jumping all around and stuff. I also tried a cigarette, because you should try everything once. And hey, it sucked, so so much for that. (thank goodness... what if I had really liked it? Maybe you shouldn't try everything. But that's a debate for another time and place.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Your Louis Armstrong post for the day

So Julie and I were walking down Craig street, and there was this little yappy dog, like a Bichon Frise or something, in this big white car. He was jumping all over the place. Then all of a sudden, all the lights are flashing, the horn's honking, and the trunk pops open. And the little dog's still in there, yappin' away, completely oblivious to the fact that he just somehow set off the car alarm.

Then, a few minutes later, I'm walking down Fifth, and this guy rides by, in a grey pinstripe suit. He reminded me of the (former) minister at my old church back home. And he's riding this bike with wheels about eight inches tall. I think it was pink, too, or maybe that's just my imagination.

And I said to myself, "What a wonderful world."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Prose and Khans

-This week is a little bit invigorating because everything's a little bit of a challenge- to stay above water in all my classes and still attend rehearsals, I really have to work on everything all the time. Like last night, I stayed up until 5, doing computational discrete maths homework (which I enjoy the most of any of my classes) and listening to jazz. Next week will be nice by contrast.

-This week is lame for the same reason. No time means no time for anything fun. Gerrit said a while ago "When you're in a play, you don't have time to spend with friends." I said "Unless your friends are in the play..." he said "Nope, not even then. How much time have we spent together since CoE?" Point, Gerrit. Even moreso in musicals- the cast is so big.

-Improv. Huh?!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I went to the Suburbs (Cranberry and Seven Fields, to be specific) last night, with Connor, Joe, Ashley, and Joe's and Connor's parents. It was very nice- they're cool people, we had a good dinner and dessert. But going to the suburbs was a little weird. It's entirely different- and I should know this, considering I live in the suburbs and go back and forth here and there a few times each year.

First, the restaurant. It was big, it was called "Smokey Joe's," it was a chain, it served good (but not excellent) food in big portions for prices in the $10-17 range. I guess the size was the first thing I noticed- I mean, it was big. Restaurants in a city are not big (obviously, I guess). It was spacious. It had a large parking lot all around it. It had those little buzzers to call you while you're waiting for your table (I think). There were TVs all around, and even a switch at your table so you could listen to the sound on whichever TV you wanted. (the TVs bug me on a different level, although hey, maybe it's the same level, in that the suburbs are a little weird like this)

The McDermotts' house was very nice too, but it struck me as a marked contrast from Webster for a few reasons: (okay, besides the obvious, that it's a HOUSE and not an APARTMENT)
- very clean
- has some antique things
- has one of those giant flat screen TVs
- there's space (and no trees) around it
Ultimately, it's like the houses in my neighborhood at home (maybe even like mine; I can't objectively judge my own house very well). It's very nice- and hey, when I go home, I really like my house. Everything's nice. And relaxing, and rich.

One of my theology teachers in high school (probably my best theology teacher- and just a great guy overall) once told us this: "Don't be a nice person. Be a great person." ... which sounds like a stupid inspirational saying, but what he was saying is, there's a difference between nice and great, or even nice and good. Hell, Kenneth Lay or any of those dudes in the recent scandals were probably nice people, but they may not have been good people.

This is getting a little saccharine. Let me just throw this in too: everyone keeps moving further from the center of a city, using up the city until it gets all crime-laden, then moving to an inner-ring suburb; using up the inner ring until it gets all poor and moving to the outer ring, etc. This is not a good idea. It rots cities from the inside- what do you expect?

Oh shit, and the whole generational thing- the baby boomers grew up with a lot of luxury and not a lot of conflict. They didn't have WWII, they had Vietnam. This didn't make them band together and fight for what's right; this made them get all disillusioned, pissed off, and atheistic. Then their kids, the Generation X crowd, were the first generation raised in this atheistic world, and they responded by just going more nihilistic and crazy. Thus, the 90's, the suburbs, and surrounding oneself with niceness. And then there's us- and we can sit back and slide more into passive oblivion, or we can take up the charge of BELIEVING IN SOMETHING and turn all this shit around!

It should be noted that I mean atheism in the "not believing in anything" sense, not in the "not believing in God" sense.

So yeah, I could talk about this forever, but I'd just be restating myself. I could be really wrong, too, about the city stuff or the generational stuff, let me know.

And this will be perfectly ironic to finish off this post: should I buy an iPod (nano)?
Pros: it'd be sweet, I could keep up with music better, and it would help me memorize lines.
Cons: well... it'd go against everything I believe in. (and it's $200)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why only "most things"?

Well, my bike is missing. I think I left it outside Webster (locked to a telephone pole) Saturday... now it's gone.

This sucks- I mean, I can just throw money at the problem and make it go away (buy another bike) but that's irresponsible. That's the spoiled rich kid solution- I mean, I should have just kept it inside in the first place. And gotten one of those Kryptonite U-locks, because apparently a thick cable lock isn't good enough. And I should have registered it with Campus Police- I dunno if that'd help, but it's better than nothing. The worst part is, it was my dad's bike- I mean, he never used it, he won't miss it, but still. I mean, if it doesn't turn up, I'll get him a new one. Throw some more money at it, it'll go away.

At any rate, if you see a silver Raleigh bike, pretty big, mountain-bike style (thick wheels, thick frame), men's bike (the middle bar is high, not low), let me know. Thanks.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hooray most things!

Things are pretty good. Today was just a pretty great day. Easy class (although Mr. Datta is a bit grating sometimes), radio show in which three separate people complimented my music choices (I didn't even think they were that great...) I did play the title track from "We have the facts and we're voting yes" by Death Cab for Cutie and "Across the Sea" by Weezer, which are pleasures I try to avoid indulging in, because they're so great when I do.

Good weightlifting, a tasty salad, and a bit of a relax brought me to PG rehearsal, which is, as ever, a lot of fun. We did some monologues, which I tend to like a lot, although they're no good for shows. Something about monologues- if you have an idea, you can put it out there! You can control the scene entirely, which allows for a lot of creativity, I think.

An audition for Little Footsteps, that I think went really well... a spontaneous, speedy, and splendid trip to Giant Eagle with Julie; some chinese food with Rob; office hours that affirmed that I'm actually ready for this exam tomorrow.

Sorry to recap a day, why do you guys care? It's like viewing vacation photos: why do the viewers care? They weren't there. They can't relive the experiences. So it's mainly a selfish exercise by the shower/teller. Ehh, that's not entirely true. But a lot of it is. Whatever! I'll do what I want!

Here's to everything!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


It is so beautiful outside, I have a blast of energy, and I have to sit inside and code to finish this assignment by tonight! Kick me in the face! Gift me a new Toyota Prius, then firebomb it! Bulldoze both Pittsburgh and Cleveland and all surrounding suburban areas!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Post Raisin Bran is a healthy way to start your day

Did I use that title before? ... whatever. Right now I've been feeling really tired. It doesn't make sense, my last few days of sleep have been somethin like 9, 7, 11 (and tonight will be another 7)... so I should be all right. I don't know, I'm just kind of feeling uninspired. Class is boring. Rehearsal is, well, rehearsal. I feel like I'm spending all of my time in one or the other. That's no good.

In other news, DC was sweet. Not much to tell, other than I saw 3 of my friends again, which was cool, and DC is a pretty neat place. They have a subway-
Can I gush for a minute about how cool subways are, see you pay your money and go friggin underground, we're talkin escalators like 4 stories tall, and then pretty soon you're inside although you never went through a door, the train arrives, it hits you with a blast of air in the face, just an overwhelming wallop of air and MODERNNESS, and then you travel to your destination on this bus (it's huge! there must be room for ten thousand people in one subway train!) this bus that goes exactly there, nowhere else, only stops a few times on the way and you're there in another subway station that looks just like the last one except for the sign on the wall, you go up another 4-story escalator and youre back outside, again, no doors. the smells are nothing to write home about and in fact it's all a little dark and dismal but hell, it's clean, it's efficient, it goes all around the city COMPLETELY DISREGARDING TRAFFIC and spits you out wherever you are- no cars. should i mention the map? the multicolored map that translates navigating into a series of no more than a dozen lines that will take you everywhere you need to go, that distills navigating into memorizing, say, 50 stations? the perfect example of graph theory?

American U. is very much not like here.

Oh, I read this book about an MIT blackjack team. Can I just say, that's really cool? Bring it up sometime when we're talking, we'll discuss it, because I think their whole idea is absolutely beautiful, and I know some of you might disagree. (well, maybe not absolutely beautiful, but like 95% beautiful.) Or bring it up and we'll both be like "yeah. that's pretty sweet."

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Whoop, cancel that last post

Because I threw the burrito party again, and EVERYONE came! Wheee! It was a lot of fun, and still very tasty, if I do say so myself. Of the SIX PLANS... one down.

I, uh, got an adrenaline rush from coding. I'm a gigantic dork. To be fair, it was an "I have 1 hour to finish this program in" and I did it, so that's why it was so exciting. To be fair, again, though, I'm still a gigantic dork. Yeah, shoot me in the face with a bazooka.

I'm going to DC in an hour or so. Hooray! It'll be cool to see Erik, Dan, and Brad again. And I should quit typing here and get ready.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The latest bits

So I threw a burrito party, and nobody came. That's not true. Mike Yin came, and Tim and Matt and Phil came from upstairs. Gerrit came later (but alas, did not eat a burrito)


I guess I should have reminded people? asked for rsvp? not planned it on a wednesday at 7? I don't know, I figured the CoE cast would be more than willing to come over for food and fun.

That is not to say it was a culinary failure. I marinated 2 kinds of chicken- one in chipotle salsa, one in a kind of marinade... it was good chicken too, fresh from Wholey's. Mmmmm. Also we had guacamole, peppers (3 colors!) and onions, corn and black beans, white or whole wheat tortillas, 3 kinds of salsa (chipotle, arbol chile, and mild) plus some hot sauce, romaine lettuce, cheese, sour cream... man, it was delicious.

The INTERNET is here, it's pretty sweet.

Oh, also... I finished reading Harry Potter 6, and I watched Romeo and Juliet (and am about halfway through reading it). Both affected me more than they should have. Well, I guess that's not fair to say about R&J, it being one of the greatest tragedies of all time... but yeah, I'm all emotional (moody? ehh sort of) right now. Well hey, that's a plus anyway- shows I still have a soul. You haven't gotten me yet, computer science major!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

On glasses

I wore my glasses a little bit this weekend. I actually got a couple of comments- people thought I looked more stately, more ... I even got the description "more regal." First of all, thank you... second of all, however, I think I'll continue not to wear my glasses much.

Well, they're too much trouble. But more importantly, I'm already too distant from other people- I don't want to add another layer. If I'm a CEO giving a presentation, trying to convey an image of authority, I'll wear glasses... but since I'm not, I want to be as non-distant as possible.

There it is, status again. Glasses raise your status? But do they? I always feel geekier wearing them, and therefore lower status. At any rate, I don't want to be any lower, or risk slipping into like self-degradation... but if I were any higher status, like I said, I think I might alienate people. You can be friends with people higher or lower status than you... but you can only be great friends with people who are about the same as you, I think. So glasses, ehh.

A little bit of cranberry juice

So here I am at the co-op, going to a party. I don't even like parties. That's not true, I love parties; I don't particularly like going to a party at some random place hosted by someone or some people I don't know. But whatever, I'd heard of the co-op, it sounded like a cool place, I wanted to know what's it's deal.

We went downstairs and there was a DJ playing loud music. It was mostly the sort of hackneyed hip-hop that nobody ever actually likes but is always played- I can usually milk a couple minutes of talking out of complaining about the music. It's a couple fewer minutes that I'm just standing around.

I could mock the SNL skit, which is mocking bad standup comedians, who themselves are mocking things, by saying "What's the deal with rap?!" Such a discussion would prove fruitless- I'm preaching to the choir, the monks, and in some cases, the missionaries and priests. We upper-middle class white kids, we pretentious indie fucks, who see it as our mission (stated or unstated, conscious or unconscious) to convert the rest of the world to listen to our "good" music, despite the fact that it's all the sort of pop-culture tripe that will be ferociously disregarded within our lifetimes.

At any rate, rap music doesn't inspire me, and dancing around with a bunch of dudes doesn't particularly inspire me. Wait, there it is again, unconscious homophobia- or the entirely irrational idea that someone will see a group of guys dancing (or a group of disproportionally many guys) and assume that they're all gay. Sorry!

So, in an attempt to destroy a couple more minutes, I went to get something to drink. I didn't want an alcoholic drink, though, I really could have gone with a glass of water. I didn't see a good source of water, and I saw orange juice, and I thought, hey, orange juice, that's healthy, I'll drink that. But then I was pouring just orange juice, on a table full of alcohol, and I thought, well I can't just do that. Here is the entirely irrational idea that someone will see me pouring an orange juice and assume that I'm a teetotaler or a wimp. So I poured in a little vodka. Hey, vodka and orange juice, that's a drink, right? Is that a screwdriver or something? Yeah, it's something, it's respectable. First, though, I put a couple bucks in the donation jar. Poured a little vodka- a half shot's worth maybe? Then I was going to go drink my orange juice quietly to appear busy. But a guy remarked, "Hey, you should put some cranberry juice in there, it'll taste a lot better."

In his mind, I am a freshman. This is maybe my second party, and coincidentally, maybe the third time I've ever drank. I need some drink recipes, and he is a seasoned veteran of the strategy of booze. He offered me fatherly advice, the kind of advice that immediately puts him on a plane four whole levels above mine. How did he over-understand my lack of confidence in this situation? Did my hand shake when I poured? Was my head pointed down a couple degrees too low as I walked in the room? What gave it away that I somehow didn't know what I was doing, and yet, gave it away entirely too much- what is it that said not "I am just getting a drink, don't worry about me," but rather "I just want to VANISH into the background"?

To be fair, the rest of the party was a lot of fun.

And on a side note, I have not had 6 hours of sleep any night since I think Tuesday. I apologize to everyone who's had to spend time with me during the week (the weekend was cool... I was tired but I was having too much fun to be tired). Hopefully the next will be better. If I'm being cranky, slap me around a little bit- I have no right to be cranky.

And hey, I'm going to DC next weekend- I'll miss you all at the zoo and etc, but still, how exciting!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The seasons are WRONG!

Traditional definition:
Winter Dec-Feb
Spring Mar-May
Summer Jun-Aug
Fall Sep-Nov

Winter Jan-Mar
Spring Apr-May
Summer Jun-Sep
Fall Oct-Dec

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Today's battles are fought on the keyboard

I was having a great day. Then I read an email about my Shakespeare paper from my TA. He basically said "You're just restating what we've done in class. There is no original thought here. I hope you don't think that we will tolerate rehashing of our lectures," and more. It was pretty scathing. Now, I don't want to be all namby-pamby "my feelings are hurt!" about this, as he said he was just being "direct", but it was a pretty withering attack- it amounted to him accusing me of slacking off in the class, doing half-assed work, and expecting them to take it.

This is clearly not true.

More went into it, like the "you should have asked this earlier" argument and the "don't blame the teacher for your mistakes" argument, but ultimately, it turned into a battle. He insults my work ethic, I defend myself, he throws down his gauntlet, I pick it up, we have a duel at dawn. Except he's the duke and I'm the commoner; he's grading my papers; he'd just whine to the king and have me imprisoned.

The outcome isn't the point; the point is that we have no battles anymore. As time went on... jousting matches -> shouting matches -> arguments -> written insults -> emails. And our emails are all cutesy- full of "I think you may have misunderstood"s and "I didn't mean"s. Nobody even has the guts to call someone out anymore- and if he does, it's a major etiquette violation.

Is this better? Maybe. The old way was pretty barbaric. The modern way is one step more civilized. But in some senses it's also one step more emasculated. Part of me just wants to hash this out in a bare-knuckled brawl.

I think I'd win. If I weren't too sleep-deprived from writing this paper.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I just made "Let There Be" sauce

I awoke from a curious dream
I dreamt a world of red sauce,
There were frozen peppers
and canned tomatoes
and I wasn't hungry anymore.

I woke up and planned a wonderful sauce,
full of vegetables and spices,
And now this hunger will be stilled
And my emptiness be filled
As I set about to cook
My dream

Let there be, let there be
Let there be
Tomato paste
Let there be, let there be

Peppers, garlic, oregano, basil,
Let there be!
Let there be!
(and I saw, it was good)
Let there be!

It's not enough! It's still not enough!
There was something more in my dream,
Some extra flavor and meatiness,
What was it, though?
I only know
I wasn't hungry anymore

Let there be, let there be
Ham and corn
Green onions with extra zing,
More of every little thing,
Some more garlic, more basil too,
More tomatoes, yeah, that will do,
Let there be!
Let there be!

And I breathed into my pasta the breath of tastiness,
I didn't actually breathe on it though, that'd be icky,
And I gave the sauce a name after this lame show,
And called the sauce... complete.

Let there be!

Yeah... I'm kind of proud of this sauce. It will destroy your face. Actually, it's not too different from whatever normal sauce... it's just way over the top. And I have so much of it. You all should come over and eat it.
Final ingredient list:
2 cans tomatoes, plus a ziploc bag full of tomato chunks
1 bag of frozen peppers
1 onion
1 can of corn
1 green pepper, plus a ziploc bag half full of pepper chunks
a ziploc bag half full of green onions
a half ziploc bag plus a couple of small handfuls of diced ham
1 can of tomato paste
half a bottle of basil
a couple liberal dashes of garlic powder
maybe one liberal dash of oregano
3 cloves of garlic
a little cornstarch, added as a thickener before I decided tomato paste would be better
4 gallons of AWESOME

It rocks like Ted Leo. It's explosively tasty. Well, I dunno, maybe I'm just proud because this is the first sauce I've ever made from scratch. And it's sweet. Anyway, yeah, come eat it tomorrow. Check .vomit for details.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


... three involve food.

1. Become a tour guide next semester, to show people what it's really like.

2. Go vegetarian for a week, just to try it.

3. Invite people over next week or next next week before a rehearsal and make a bunch of burritos.

4. Organize a ski trip over winter break.

5. Organize a cooking group to try new recipes and stuff.

6. Invest some money in a mutual fund or other high-yield investment.

I want to do them all. Anyone with me on 2, 4, or 5?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Time by Pink Floyd

I was just going to call it "Time" but that's boring.
Headlines: stuff's going pretty well, rehearsals and homework a lot but who cares, weekends are cool, etc.

Page 2 articles:
If you say "thank you", the most common response now is "thank YOU." I think it should be "fuck YOU." People won't notice, and if they do, it'll be really funny:
(person A holds door for B)
B: Thank you.
A: Fuck YOU.

See? Humor in a box.

I got very drunk on Saturday, just to try it. I was a little loopy. The party got better after that, but more because I got into a good conversation than because I was all drunk. I posted some really long post on .vomit, that was kind of fun. I maintain alcohol is a bit overrated. It sometimes tastes good though.

Joe and Ashley are having a dramatic debate about their high school educations. I wisely bugged out a few minutes ago.

I think life needs more headlines- it'd make for better conversation. Maybe it's not that life needs more headlines, it's that you need to notice smaller things. Then you'd have all the headlines you want.

Most of all, as usual, I need sleep. What else is new eh?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

There it is again...

-If you feel a law is unjust, are you allowed to disobey it? Kindergarden answer: No. High school answer: No, because that would allow people to pick and choose laws, which would lead to chaos. College and adult answer: Yes. I simply don't have time to jump through every single legal hoop they want me to jump through.

This kind of thought will eventually lead to the downfall of our society. I'm thinking it anyway. Sorry, society!

-Every day, I'm becoming more and more like Jim, the dad in "WASP". It's terrifying. Today I was at Free Ride, learning how to fix bikes, and I thought, maybe I'm not really cut out for this. I found the place a little depressing, and I thought, well, what if I just took it to a bike shop and got it fixed whenever it needed to be fixed? Where would the money come from? Well, I'd just work harder at my job.

No, Dan! That is incorrect! Stop it!

See, this kind of thinking is easy. I'll just get a high-paying job, (which is pretty much guaranteed given my field) that I sort of enjoy, and work at it enough to just throw money at all my problems. Does that work? Is it good? Kindergarten answer: No. Suburban grade school answer: Sure. Catholic high school answer: No. You can't just ignore the world like that! Some of it is crap and you better get out there and fight it! College answer: No! Get me out of my cubicle, get me out of suburbia!

On a side note, I eventually got over my initial instinct, and Free Ride is really a pretty cool place. I mean, I took a bike apart (mostly), and now, where there used to be a beat-up old bike, there's a frame and one wheel. The rest is all useful parts. That's cool. That's the kind of thinking I like. That's the ME that I like. The me that would go on a multi-day mountain climbing trip, or a 200-mile 2-day bike ride. The me that would... what? Spend spring break helping people in an impoverished nation?

-And now I'm railing at the world again. I really need to write something, to get this all out, so I don't keep posting (and thinking!) the same thing here. But on a more concrete, earthly level:

I have been eating healthily and deliciously! I've cooked a couple things, been keeping up with that... that's cool. That's part of the Me that I like.

I am in Children of Eden, it is pretty cool. The people in it are cool (I think... I want to get to know the ones that I don't know very well yet better), I'm glad I'm in it, because I want to meet all the new people. I am, however, probably not doing another musical ever again. I'm just not cut out for it (see: singing higher than about a B in the middle of the treble clef. see also: dancing). But I will put my best effort forward in this one, because the other kids and the organization deserve it. I hope it turns out rull well. Even though it's as corny as Iowa. I will still yell out "this is fun!" during The Naming.

I rode around Pittsburgh the other day. It was sweet. I did a loop, to downtown through South Oakland and back through the Strip District. I was born to live in a city. I was meant to look out my window in the morning and see a skyscraper (I can! the Cathedral of Learning!) I was meant to live a block away from an actual cathedral, and stop in there sometimes on my way home, just to admire it. I was meant to ride my bike in the street, never go to the same restaurant twice, and really appreciate parks.

Hit me with a Trite Stick if i'm getting trite. Otherwise, I'll keep making posts like this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I hit the ground running

then I bandaged up my hand and kept on running, because really, why hit the ground when you're running? That's been this year. Ironically, it's involved very little actual running, or biking, compared to summer. Which is kinda lame.

This week was (is!) the first, and hopefully the second-worst, homework crush of the year- 113, 212, and 354 were due, and I had to read I Henry IV. 113 got done early, 212 got done a half hour ago (that is, a half hour before the deadline), 354 will be getting done next, and I Henry IV after that. Too much programming, plus 354 is a mindblatz. Not getting enough sleep either.

But enough about homework and sleep! If this blog were a vehicle for my inner whine to come out and gripe about homework and sleep, I would delete it from the INTERNET. 'cuz that's lame.

What's not lame? INTERNET sign. Coming in 9-20 days. Hot.

Sufjan concert last night- it was pretty cool. A road trip is always nice (it was in Cleveland)- especially on a school night! We can do it, so we did! Hah!

I, uh, didn't order a ticket for the concert... so I got to the front of the line, and someone had left one there. I got in free. I got rewarded for my, uh, lunchiness? There's something inherently wrong there. But it benefits me, so I will just laugh it off as I throw a styrofoam cup out of my BMW convertible while cruising down the wide-open 6-LANE HIGHWAY of LIFE.

Speaking of driving, we had an entertaining encounter with a stranger. Another actor in the movie of my life. Driving down Fifth in Oakland, this guy pulls up next to us, rolls down the window, and yells:

Him: Cell phones?!
Us: er... huh?
Gerrit: Cell phones?!
Him: CELL PHONES! What are you guys, a bunch of faggots?
Gerrit: Well, some of us are.
Him: Yeah, you CMU students, just jackin' off all the time.
Zach: What are you talking about??
Him: Yeah, you go to Carnegie Mellon, you just sit around masturbating all day (makes masturbatory gesture)
Us: What? (Zach rolls up window)

The light turned green, he sped off. At the next light, he made the same gesture at us again, so Gerrit said "Haha, everybody masturbate!" so we made the same gesture back at him. The whole scenario was unbelieveable.

That's all I've got for you now. Maybe when life lets up a bit (see: winter break) I'll post again. Have a good one. CELL PHONES?!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


...drives me nuts. I spent all yesterday just trying to get software installed so that I can program in C and do my homework. That, and LaTeX, because Klaus is evidently too good to use Word, or Word is for suckas, or something. Maybe I'll just scrap it and use word anyway. At any rate, the fact that I'm typing a post instead of working doesn't help. Oh, that, and I have a cold or allergies.

But on a positive note, I might cook tonight. Might not though. We'll see. And Children of Eden should be fun. So there you go, hooray things.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Globe juggling

Once I saw this guy doing a kind of juggling where he rolled the balls around the inside of a sphere, instead of tossing them into the air. It looked pretty cool. That's how my mind feels right now. (maybe I'm making that juggling thing up, but I think I've seen it.) I was talking to Gerrit, we were on a late night trip to McDonald's, and, well, that can only lead to a lot of philosophy.

- On how atheism, overall, is bad.

- Whether it's possible/good to always be happy

- The hive mind of college

- The cold air of fall makes you feel more alive

- Spontaneous dialogue with strangers

- Being outside the comfort zone as the way to strength

- If someone says something bad about you (to you or to someone else), do you have the right to be mad about it?

This blog post is a stub. You can help my blog by expanding it.

Actually, you can't at all. Only I can. And I very well may. But not now... board meeting in 8 hours!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Shakespeare is fresh

We're reading Richard II (I lost the game) and it's pretty good. I mean, I've read Macbeth, King Lear, and the Merchant of Venice, but those were in high school English classes and they really kind of coddled us along. Maybe what's so fun about it is that it's like a code- you read a page, understand it, and then it's cool, because you decoded another page. This sounds lame- "I like Shakespeare" sounds like something that one might say just to appear erudite. But I actually enjoy it. Now if only I had more time or less to read... because reading a play in 4 school days w/ other stuff going on is not easy. But whatever, (I lost the game again) I'd rather read than do actual work. So it's cool. I'm glad I'm taking the class. Not to mention, Julie, Sarah, Tyson, and Mary Grace are in it, and that's cool too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Self-denial as selfishness

Here's a musing for the day: Self-denial is selfishness in disguise. Now I'm not saying this is always true, but it's something I've noticed in my own behavior and thought. Maybe I'm just especially manipulative.

So you're a kid, say, and your parents want to buy you a ton of presents for Christmas. Now I'd make up a laundry list of stuff, tell Santa Claus, and get a lot of things. Just like every other kid on my suburban block. But when I got older, I realized that my parents would get me the top n things on my list. So if I asked for something, and it wasn't ridiculous, I'd pretty much get it. Some of you may have had a similar experience. The fact that this is exceptionally consumerist and not the sort of mindset that our civilization should be fostering is beside the point.

So Christmas morning became a ritual of opening things that I already knew about. I realized that if I just asked for fewer things, my parents would still buy me a ton of presents, but they'd be surprises (and I'd still tend to enjoy them as much or more). So I started not asking for much. Isn't that kind of conniving and manipulative? Yeah, well... yeah. That's what I'm saying. I wasn't trying to be nice or save them money or something, I just wanted more presents- but I wanted to seem like I was being nice.

Few things in life are free- everything's an exchange. You don't eat as much because you want to get in better shape- you trade food for fitness. You don't buy a CD because you're saving the money for a video game- these are lame examples, but you see what I mean. And really, what I was doing by asking for less was saying "don't spend the money on me here, spend it on me some other way." Or even just in general- maybe if I didn't want my parents to buy me new clothes or whatever, I bet somewhere in my subconscious, I was thinking "then they'll buy me something else."

Just now, Connor, Joe and I were ordering pizza, and I think we were all doing it. I was thinking vegetarian pizza, Connor was thinking some kind of meat pizza, (Joe was playing a video game and not really listening)... but neither one of us wanted to insist on our choice, because we both thought- what? that maybe next time we ordered, whoever didn't get his way this time would get his way next time? like a you-owe-me-one deal?

But as soon as you start insisting on what you want, you become "pushy." Is there a solution to this? I don't know. Maybe just say what you think, and not get mad at others when they do the same. For serious.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Shit, the birds will be out soon!

That's when it's late, when the birds are coming out while you're still awake. Then they start their little chirping, and it sucks, because you're trying to sleep.

So I'm sitting in WIZZO 403, and we just had our first party of the year, and it was sweet. I'd like to thank everyone for coming. I'm sorry that we had to be a little bitchy about the noise... Thank you, Tim and Matt and Janet for taking people to continue the party elsewhere. I guess our humble abode can't quite handle that many people, so I apologize. But hey, this sure beats the alternatives: having nobody, or having lame people who won't party.

Rock over London, rock on Pittsburgh. Wizzo 403: the place to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I am posting to the INTERNET, from WEBSTER HALL 403, my beautiful new home. I am psyched about this semester, this year, things in general. Hope you all come to the party on Saturday, it will be a hoppin' sweet time.

This would be a good time for a Howard Dean scream of exultation, or a Steve Ballmer scream of "Developers!"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why I like sleep

See, usually, sleep is just a means to an end (specifically, being awake). But last night, I had a lucid dream. You know, one of those dreams where you realize you're dreaming and you can control it? (at least more than you can control real life)...

Well, I found myself in my old North Olmsted house, the one I lived in before my current house. I don't remember who was around- I think my family. I thought "Wow, I'm dreaming! I can do whatever I want! But since this is a dream, I'm likely to wake up soon, I only have a limited time." And if someone told you, you can do whatever you want, with no consequences, but only for a few minutes and in your own house... what would you do? I mean, there's not much.

I think I opened up the fridge and started eating ice cream and drinking pop. I spilled some ice cream, but then I thought, who cares? It's just a dream. And then I was going to take the car somewhere. On the way out, I thought, hey, I'll grab a beer for the road. I thought "I don't even particularly like beer- it's just that I can do it, so I will". I felt like I shouldn't be driving with a beer, and then I thought, what's the worst that can happen? I get pulled over and thrown in dream-jail? I crash? I'll just wake up. Course, about as soon as I got in the car, I did wake up.

Even so, lucid dreaming gives you a ton of power. But think about it... what would you do if you could do anything, but only for a few minutes and only in a predefined place? And here's the kicker: no consequences! It's pretty much "id, do whatever you want." At any rate, I hope I lucid-dream again.

Friday, August 19, 2005

While we're on the subject of "people"...

My dad is pretty masterful sometimes. Usually we get along pretty well, except when he asks me to do a bunch of things or when I don't do said bunch of things. I think that in life, he puts the emphasis on work, I put the emphasis on fun. Aged well-brood water babies. In der yablons. But both sides have their ups and downs, I won't really get into that here.

Occasionally we grate on each other a little. And it's worst before a trial (he's a lawyer). He gets all jittery, and to try to calm himself down, he tries to get everything in his life in order, which means straightening things up, mowing the lawn, putting our shoes away, and Who left this bag out on the counter?!

But man, when the trial starts, he is a giant. He'll come home and tell me stories of every little part of the trial he smashed face in. Right now he's in a trial about a fire, the plaintiff claims it started with this vacuum cleaner, he (representing the insurance company) claims it started by this chair. Now, to hear him tell it, this trial is so one-sided, it's not even funny.

The plaintiff's witness testifies for 3 hours. He builds up this little house of cards. In 30 minutes, my dad destroys this little house, tears up the cards, and makes this witness eat them. He got one witness to testify that all of their witnesses got together before the trial, practiced their testimony so they "had their story straight." Another one blew some smoke and said that this motor caused the problem... my dad got him to admit that he had no evidence at all that the motor caused it, and furthermore, they did some destructive testing on it, so there is no possible way they could even claim that the motor was defective! I mean, we're talking name-whatever-trial-scene-from-whatever-movie, where some sharp lawyer shoots holes into an obviously false case... that's just what's going on here! He was literally at the point where he could have asked the judge to rule in his favor and dismiss the trial!

Now, he couldn't do that, because this judge is an old fuddy-duddy, kind of makes his own rules, and was a little mad at my dad for something that didn't agree with him the day before. (seems to me that judges have a ridiculous bit of leeway... but hey, it's the current system, I'm no lawyer)

Anyway, it was pretty cool. He was telling me these stories, and I was all enthusiastically listening, he was genuinely excited. I felt a little condescending- like I know he wants to tell me these stories, so I'm listening, you know, "if this makes you happy..." but I really respect him for it. Now, his stories might be slightly biased, but still, he's got a really good record with cases, and I'd imagine that they're at least mostly true. In which case, he's a really good lawyer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

One week in the life of Dan Tasse

Well, first, read my last post. Then come back and read this post. It's a story that deserves telling, as its subject has left for a very long time.

So last winter, it was getting around Novembery Decembery times, and I was home on shore leave. Must have been Thanksgiving. A friend of ours on the East Side invited us to a party, for this group of us that had somewhat congealed over our last summer. Let me explain the group first:

We knew each other mostly through class. We tended to be in all of the same classes, because we all tended to take a lot of honors/AP classes. Not that we were all the smart kids, but we all did very well in school, and were exactly the kind of upstanding young St. Ignatius High School gentlemen- "Men For Others"- that our parents and teachers wanted us to be. There is little doubt that we will (mostly) all be successful- we were, to some extent, the leaders of our high school class; the movers and shakers; the ones the teachers knew and liked; the ones who dominated the school awards ceremony; the ones who balanced school and friends, enjoyed life, and were primed for Success, in whatever field we chose. Mostly white males, mostly a little over average height. You get the idea.

We knew each other throughout school, as classmates and possibly friends we'd see outside of school. What brought us together in 2004? Mostly graduation parties, and the respect we had for each other, because, after all, we were the leaders of our high school class, the movers and shakers, the... the winners of high school. I am lionizing this group too much- we were not the only Great Ones of our school, nor were all of us Great. But a senile outsider of age 60+, out of touch with our generation entirely, would look at us and smile. At any rate, we would gather sometimes during this post-graduation summer at grad parties, which soon became poker parties when the grad parties ran out. Really, my closest friends and I had little to do with them, besides this respect; we didn't really even like poker that much. And Halo was just annoying. So when 3 Xboxes materialized and linked themselves together, and a dozen Winners began mashing buttons and screaming about the injustices of an inanimate and, therefore, entirely unbiased system... well, Pete and I began looking for something else to do.

Boredom spawned conversation, conversation spawned discussion of winter breaks, and discussion spawned his invite for me to join his family on their vacation. The destination: Summit County, Colorado, home of Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper Mountain ski resorts.

Wow, I was hooked like Rafael Palmeiro on steroids. It was, I think, about the only thing I asked for for Christmas, and, through the magic of Frequent Flier Miles, I received a plane ticket to Denver. Hey, lodging was free: some of Pete's relatives own a house there, so they stayed there. Food was mostly free too, although my parents sent them some money for food for me. Even lift tickets were cheaper- they knew how to get the best deals (rent transferrable lifetime passes from people for $39 a day, instead of paying $73 or something)... basically, even given the late notice, this trip was doable, and I was thrilled.

Ever skied a huge mountain, 3000+ft vertical, with one of your best friends and his brother who is also a good friend of yours? And stayed with their family, a fantastically nice and welcoming family, in a house nearby? Going to the Rec Center after skiing and playing racquetball? Staying in Dillon, Colorado- beautiful Dillon, wonderfully pedestrian and spartan compared to lavish Breckenridge or (shudder) Vail, Dillon, where you can taste the mountain air instead of the artificial heating from the nearest souvenir shop? Playing bridge or Bang at night? With no worries except where you're going to ski the next day?
It's nice, let me tell you. That week is pretty much listed in my dictionary under "halcyon."

Again, I may be praising it too much- while I was there, I had a cold, I didn't sleep well, my ski boots didn't fit quite right, so I was a little out of sorts for a bit of it. And there are downsides to skiing Summit County- like 15 minute lift lines. Mountains like Breckenridge, which have no soul. (Seriously, don't go to Breckenridge. Unless you're awesome and can ski the top bowls. If you're that awesome, can I go skiing with you sometime, just to watch and learn? Seriously, I'm not being facetious.) But then, Thursday hit.

Thursday, 7 inches of fresh snow, and we went to Copper Mountain. These guys had passes to Breck/Keystone/A.Basin, and we went to Copper, because I suggested it. That's how accommodating they were. (they were able to trade in some passes and stuff, they didn't just pay for the extra passes, but still). That day was the best skiing day I've ever had. First double black diamonds I've ever skied, best moguls I've ever skied, I was in top form. We stuck together all day, Pete, Brian (Pete's brother), and I, skiing whatever we felt like. The back of the mountain was closed due to wind, so we skied the front. We pretty much rocked out really hard.

Someone once said something like this about skiing with your kid: as you age, you will get worse, and your kid will get better. One day, there will be a point where you will be exactly equal in skill- that day, you will ski together perfectly, you will travel the same slopes, matching turn for turn, enjoying skiing together better than you ever have before. After that, your skills will continue to decline, your child's will increase, and it will never quite be the same again. So savor that one perfect day.

I think that day may have happened for Pete and me right then- with skiing and our friendship. Now, he can still outski me by far (the kid's amazing), but he's given it up, so eventually I'll surpass him. But also, I don't think things will ever be the same between Pete and me. He's enjoying college tremendously in Dartmouth, as I am at CMU, and he's almost entirely moved on to there. We were just hanging out tonight, for probably the last time in Cleveland until ... when? at least a couple years from now. He'll be at Dartmouth through Sophomore summer, he won't be back here until Junior year at the earliest. We'll try to visit, but who knows if that will turn out. He doesn't seem to mind. As he shouldn't; as always, we need to move forward with life.

I skimmed over the fact that he's given up skiing. He says he has. Not because he doesn't like it but because of the money. He says he doesn't have money for it; he says he spends all his money playing Ultimate Frisbee, traveling to tournaments, etc. When he told me, he said it so matter-of-factly that I thought he was kidding. It's his choice, of course, but that one hit me symbolically and realistically. Because I think back to skiing together for that week, watching someone as talented and practiced as him ski, trying to improve as I go, facing mountains and cold that present just enough danger to get the adrenaline rushing, ... and he's just quit!

And there you have it, kids, a premade metaphor. I didn't even have to do anything.

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Uncle Mac

So my "Uncle" (really a great-uncle or something) Mac just died. I never really knew him much, he was a somewhat distant relative, but he was always there at those big family gatherings. He was a little short, kind of unassuming, had a very distinctive way of talking- he looked a little like a cartoon (I say this not to make fun of him, but just to give you an idea). I remember him always looking and feeling a little out of place at the huge gatherings, especially after his wife, Aunt Helen, died a couple years ago. The same out-of-placeness that I always feel. He somehow had this bit of childlike innocence, even though he looked the oldest of anyone.

Overall, he was the nicest, meekest guy... in that side of my family, you've got bickering and arguing- it's not the happiest family ever. But never Uncle Mac. So throw him in your prayers, or whatever you've got- it might be silly, but take 15 seconds to wish Uncle Mac a happy afterlife (or whatever there is). You never met him, and I hardly knew him, but still, he deserves at least that.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Is blogging cathartic?

Or is it like yelling and cursing, which, studies show, actually increase your anger? Or is it one of those things where you start working on something else, and then in fifteen minutes, you forget why you were angry in the first place? Join me and find out!

Dilemma of the day: too much stuff! If you've talked to me over the summer, you realize that I have too many things in my closet, I'm getting rid of them all, but doing so has become nigh-Herculean.

(an hour passes)

Erm, well I was going to continue this post, explaining why I was annoyed by trying to sell/get rid of all this stuff. But instead, I spent the last hour putting stuff on ebay. I guess that makes more sense. Ha HA, pragmatism!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"'Cause there's no way that I'll sleep when you're near me."

Umm. Sorry, there have been a bunch of posts the last few days. If you want quality, start at the bottom and work your way up- I can't guarantee the quality of these last couple.

This wouldn't be a blog without a gush about music. Good lord, Architecture in Helsinki, why have you forced me to listen to you for the past 2 days? Why are you already dominating my Top 50 most played? Is it too early to make you a triumvirate with the Arcade Fire and the Fiery Furnaces? (if you like these bands, listen to AiH, similar style). Is there a name for this genre? (it might be "Baroque Pop," I'm not sure) Basically, how are you so good, and how soon are you coming to Pittsburgh?

(on a side note, Zach Harris, if you're taking a trip to Cleveland to see Sufjan, I'm definitely in)

(on another side note, Beck 09-25 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues... I'm just sayin')

So, with a heavy heart, I turn down the CA'ship with Rich Pattis and 15-200.

  • I don't have time for 6 classes, how would I have time for 5 classes plus CA'ing?

  • I would really rather TA a math class

  • Well, like point #1, it's a big time sucker. 10-15 hrs/week of free time gone.

It's point #3 that I'm the most questioning about. I don't feel like it's unreasonable to work during the school year. Obviously it's not, a lot of people (including many of you readers) do. However, last semester was pretty crunchy at times, and like I said, I wouldn't want to take 6 classes. But when am I going to TA a math class then? Will next semester be easier? And don't just tell me not to TA.

This is largely my mom's argument. It's a lot of work TA/CA'ing, and I had enough work last semester. College is a great part of your life, why speed through it and waste time CA'ing a job you aren't really sure you want? My mom's telling me to relax! Take it easy!... this may be one of the first times in my life that I've decided to "take it easy." Now, "easy" still includes about 50 units, including 212 and Computational Discrete Math. This semester won't be much easier than last, if any. But I've taken the easy road out of working.

This bugs me! I've never taken the easy road out! Why am I justifying it now? And here is The Official Take-It-Easy-Dan party platform on this issue: I earned a ton this summer. I'm planning on putting that all into college. If someone were to call me out, I could say "look, I put n thousand dollars into my college. what have you done?" Even though said person may have worked more hours, it might end up being less money. But something about this seems unfair. My family has enough money (I'm not saying to brag, I'm just sayin') that I don't have to work during the school year. As a consequence, I get to enjoy it more than others? I get to party a lot? Something about this is inherently unjust, and I don't quite have my finger on it yet. I mean, I guess it's obvious: it's unfair that I get the easy road.

At the same time, I'm trying to avoid taking the easy road. For example, this summer, like I said, I put in 40 hours/week for a lot of weeks at a job I didn't really like so I'll have a big bundle of cash to put into college. Most of my friends my age worked at random jobs making half as much. So I guess there's a credit for me- I took the extra effort to get a nicer job. But what about my friends? What about my one friend, a skiing prodigy, who's giving it up because he doesn't have enough money to do that and play frisbee? What about my friends who have jobs they don't like so that they can afford to stay in school?

Abe Lincoln would have one for this: "You can't strengthen the weak by weakening the strong." If I don't have to work, great, more power to me. Also this: my sanity. Maybe I can't do it all. Maybe I've hit a limit: I just can't take all these classes, be in SnS and whatever else I'm in, and work too. Without this job, I will exercise more, I will go to Free Ride, I will join the Explorers' Club (or whatever it's called), I will find the Pittsburgh Rock Gym, I will host more parties, I will meet more people, I will cook more, I will sleep more, instead of CA'ing. I will be a happier and healthier person without it. You, my friends, will probably find me a better person to spend time with because I will have more sleep and more energy. As this summer has shown me, I need a break. So maybe I'm doing the right thing after all: working would appease my perverse egalitarian socialist idea of justice, but at the cost of me doing great things. And I'm not grinding down to the nuts and bolts of pragmatism just yet- I'm still riding the high tide of idealism. Maybe, just maybe, life can be this good forever.

This argument still doesn't sit well with me. Someone call me out, or play devil's advocate, sometime and we'll hash it out and see if I really am a lazy no-goodnik or if I'm doin' the best I can.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A post for the less important things in life

Shoot, I've been cranking these entries out like a Fruit Roll-up factory during a plastic surplus. Two things this time.

1. Should I CA 15-200? (that's programming)... CA = TA with less responsibility and less pay.
Pros: I want to teach, I want to TA eventually, it's some money (probably $1500 over the semester), I feel like a slacker if I'm not working
Cons: Time-sucka (12-15 hrs/week). CA'ing is less good than TA'ing, I might be overworking myself (it'd be like taking 6 classes...), I'm at school to take classes, not to work; I already made a pile of money this summer, I really need to slow my life down. Plus, more work = less fun.

2. Music update:

Architecture in Helsinki, where have you been my entire life? Seriously kids, this band (well, only their CD "In Case We Die" is all I've heard so far) but it's fantastic. Try "It'5" or "Do the Whirlwind" if you want a couple of tracks to download. Wow. I listened to "It'5" 10 times in one day. It's that good. Or rather, it'5 that good.

Pavement, you're still pretty good. I like your good songs more, there's still some filler though. I admire your attitude more than your music. That said, some are really great (shady lane, embassy row, conduit for sale, fame throwa, etc)

Belle and Sebastian (as heard through Push Bar Man to Open Old Wounds)- I like you a lot. Sometimes you get a little too cutesy for me- your singer's voice is a little hard to take. But some of your songs are really awesome, and the more I listen to them, the more I like them.

Brian Wilson (as heard through Smile)- Best record ever? (according to Metacritic) hardly. best of 2004 even? Nah. Pretty good though? Yeah. When I thought "Beach Boys" I didn't think psych-pop or this pastiche of music, off-kilter yet with enough common threads to make it a very interesting listen. Even catchy in parts. Still, it felt like an hour of TMBG's "Fingertips," which may be too much of a good thing.

Flaming Lips (Transmissions from the Satellite Heart)- Oh, it was you guys who did that "tangerines" song. Oh, it was called "she don't use jelly" and it was about how she "used vaseline" instead. Oh. Ahh, childhood. Oh, the rest of your record is pretty boring, I don't dig it at all. Well that's life.

Maritime- I really like "Adios". Why don't you guys rock out a little more? well whatever, you're just a side project, you're allowed to be subpar. Not that you are- every listen, I like your mellow stuff more. "Adios" is as good as I expect from the Dismemberment Plan's bassist, the rest is, well, fine.

Richard Cheese- Still funny.

Joan of Arc- I like this. How about "haunted house emo" for a genre? And how about me liking said genre? It does feel like you're in a world that's just a little creepy though, and I like it. Plus some pretty kick-ass commentary on ClearChannel.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vague titles are in vogue

This will be a description of Dan Tasse's last few days, both practical and creative. In this, the author hopes to instill into the reader a wild sense of how said days went, while providing enough enjoyment for the reader to keep reading. This post may be embarrassingly long. Topics to be covered include:
-effusive joy
-beej's amish beard
-the ram game
-an odyssey
... so you can skip past the ones you don't want.

Effusive Joy

So this is where I go "wow, last weekend was great" and explode into internet acronyms. OMG and LOL will make an appearance, as will ROFL. I say ROFL, you say ROLF, let's call the whole thing off.

But for serious, it was cool. You've already seen the list of fun things that happened... let's see, what didn't make the list?

1. My parents are awesome, they pretty much let me have whomever over whenever, and also make dinner and brunch. Oh, and make bonfires, and set up sofa beds, and generally make life grand.
2. Cedar Point was cool. I mean, it's always cool. I hope you all enjoyed the Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, they're intense but (hopefully) fun. And the Mantis is generally not worth going on ever, I don't think. Well, we live and learn.
3. Umm... Slug. This game is pure gold. I credit Beej's amazing sense of humor. If you don't know what we're talking about, bring a sleeping bag to school next year... actually, bring one anyway.
4. Poker last night just missed the list- anyway, it happened and it was fun. Taboo was more fun, but poker's fine. Good to see those kids again- they're all going back soon!

What was so great about this weekend? I don't know. I'm really trying to have a lot of these "enjoying this moment" moments. Like I've said, I live a pretty fast-paced life (I'm sure you all do too)... so stopping to enjoy a moment is hard, because it means you're not planning for the next one. I did it a bunch though, shoot, all weekend.

It's great spending time with the kind of friends where there's a lot of respect going both ways. Not lip service- obviously you respect all your friends in that way. But real respect, whether you show it or not. My best friends from high school were that way... I had acquaintances, though, where it was not that way. There's a tone of voice you get, a certain mannerism, that you kind of slip into when talking to that person, and boom, you've made a Friend, not just a friend. Because you can have fun with people you don't respect, and you can respect people you're not friends with, but whenever you both get a certain maturity about the whole friendship, it's pretty awesome. I think it took some of my high school friends a lot of years for us to get that far, and with these folks from CMU I've met about 1/2 year ago, there it is, that respect. I'm kind of talking around the whole issue; I've got buckshot, not a rifle, with describing this, but maybe you understand what I mean.


This is ever a topic of mine, but I recently thought of it when I was discussing with my mom my teeth. They're not straight, but close, and it would take a lot of work to straighten them AGAIN, after having had braces 3 times. My orthodontist was the kind of guy who was real cutesy (ohh shoot, his assistants were the worst. I'd want to get out of there just so they would stop talking to me!)... also condescending. "You really need to brush more" sort of thing. "Mark down on this chart how often you wear this device, you really need to get 14 hours a day." Good lord... arms, kicker, or orthodontia?

Anyway, once I got to the Competent Age (I dunno... 14?) I realized what a bag he was, and started hating orthodontia... luckily I was pretty much done. Oh wait, nope, like sophomore year I think, I got some braces again, because they needed me to walk in a circle and power an electromagnet.

But that's neither here nor there. The point is, she said "Do you ever have speaking problems because of it?" and I said "not because of that." Then what...? I stutter sometimes. I stutter at work, because it's awkward talking to those people. I haven't stuttered ever, until fall '04. I just want you to know that I'm aware of it and trying to stop it. Look, I could go on about how it's caused by my subconscious and I'm really deeply insecure, (and that might be true! who knows?) but what would that accomplish? I am feeling too great to cause myself a bad mood by fretting over occasional stuttering!

Beej's Amish Beard

The idea: Nobody made fun of Beej's beard at all until he pointed out that it looks scraggly and Amish. So when you have something like that, or a spot on your pants or something, do you point it out and say "look, I realize this, it's under control, I'm not totally clueless" or do you not say anything. Because if you point it out, you clear all suspicion that you're just a slob or anything. However, you might get a Beej's Amish Beard effect. If you let it go, people might not notice. But they might notice and think you're slobbish or clueless without telling you what they think. Ideally, someone would call you on it, and you'd entirely clear yourself... but you can't count on someone to do that all the time.

My stuttering might be a Beej's Amish Beard effect.


Charity is the greatest gift of wealth. Agree? Well, if you don't, fine, this point isn't about charity. I'm saying that spontaneity might be the second-greatest gift of wealth. Money gives you cell phones, non-preordered tickets to stuff, airline tickets, etc. You can do a lot more things if you plan far in advance... but spontaneity is the stuff of youth. Just saying "I am going to do this today" and doing it. If I were a millionaire and I had money to burn, I think I'd just wake up some morning and book a flight to somewhere for that same day. Just go wherever I want. Do whatever I want. Is this selfish? Maybe. Wanting everything right now is selfish. But the spontaneity I'm talking about is breaking free of all your scheduleds, agendas, plans, and throwing a little more Serrano pepper into your life. (about 2x as hot as Jalapeno... Jalapenos are actually quite weak)

The Ram Game

The object is to touch the ground. By the way, I lost the game. This game is great though, especially when played by two skilled competitors. I credit Ram with another unit of awesomeness.

An odyssey

Sleep: I'll compare them to restaurants.
<6 hours: Like fasting. Can I sleep this little and still get by? Cool, I'm hardcore.
6 hours: the "McDonalds"... eeurgh. Not fun anymore. I just want to sleep.
7 hours: the "TGI Friday's"... so very mediocre. Leads to a mediocre day.
8 hours: the "Hyland Software Diner"... ordinary, I get these with a pretty good frequency. Surprisingly good sometimes though.
9 hours: the "Chipotle"... awesome. If I had my way, I'd sleep 9 a night.
10 hours: the "Bangkok Balcony"... really nice. Best if you need a little recharge.
11+ hours: an odyssey. I'll compare it to Morton's, a steakhouse, actually a chain steakhouse. Probably the best restaurant I've ever been at. My dad got a huge gift certificate from work or something, we got these $35 steaks and too many sides to eat. Obviously, I love a "Morton's"; it's indulgent. You wake up naturally and still get to keep sleeping. You usually dream like crazy.

I thought I'd have an odyssey tonight... sleep at 8:30. Nope, it's 10:30. Well a good "niner" will do for me. Tomorrow I could use a small recharge, or even a sleep odyssey. I could use a trip to the "Balcony" of sleep. Hey, by the way, Richard's on Richards.