Tuesday, February 28, 2006

WTD: a Human Being

For example, the one inside me. Today was almost traumatic. I went to this job fair, right, the "@pgh.cafe" which is a lame name for a job fair which is a lame thing to have, but they had it, so I went.

Attending: about 30 companies that all do the same thing. I don't care about any of them. They don't particularly care about me.

Anyway, I started speaking in buzzwords: "I'd love to try something that offers some new opportunities, so that I can make a difference and see my plans in action"; "I'd like to work for a small company because it's more agile and I won't get lost in the huge corporate shuffle"; "I don't have so much experience in those languages, but I'm a fast learner, and I'd be willing to pick up whatever languages you're using"-- and I couldn't stop! I was thinking "Okay, now I'm going to actually talk like myself, because I don't really need this job anyway, what can I lose by just being entirely honest?" AND I COULDN'T! I couldn't force myself to drop all the corporate nicey-nice-speak and tell shit like it really is!

So then I decided to go out and destroy some social conventions. This week at NPP workshop, Gerrit gave us a homework assignment: start a conversation with a stranger and lose. A la fight club, right? So I was going to do just that. I was also going to be a hype man (a la rappers) to a person in a random conversation. Just generally do whatever I felt like. And here's what happened- I walked through Oakland, and pretty much said nothing. I tried to pick out only the easiest targets- mostly white males about my age, or maybe older. The idea here is to minimize the creepiness. I had a few encounters:

Me: Do you have the time? (I clearly knew the time already)
Guy: Yeah, it's 5:25
Me: Okay, thanks.
Guy: (pointing to a parking meter prepay station thing) Wonder what these are...
Me: Parking meter stations, I guess.
Guy: I never saw them before.
Me: Yeah, me neither. Just never noticed them, I guess.
Guy: (crosses street)

Me: (hands empty plastic bottle to guy walking past) Here.
Guy: (recoils as if I were pointing a knife at him instead of a bottle... but then pauses and takes it)
Me: Thanks.

Me: (with a rock in my pocket) Hey, what are you listening to?
Guy: Ehh, I'm just cycling through stuff.
Me: (setting up a pun) Well... do you wanna rock?
Guy: (backs away) uhh, no thanks.
Me: Haha, because I've got a rock, see?
Guy: (leaves quickly)
Me: (realizes that "do you wanna rock" could probably be interpreted in many ways, most of them probably creepy, and cringes)

Me: Do you have the time?
Guy: It's 5:40.
Me: Thanks.

And a couple more. The point is, I lose. The other point is, almost everything you can possibly say or do is creepy. The other point is, why was it so hard to initiate conversations with strangers? I mean, it was really hard. Give it a try, maybe, I challenge you. Granted, it'd probably be easier on the CMU campus- less creepy. But still... what's so hard about it? Why can I only talk in buzzwords? Why can I not just talk to random people?

I have to go do laundry before the security guard locks the room!

Monday, February 27, 2006


God damn! I was just job searching, and I ran into a few old friends. Specifically, these old friends:

Only this time, they weren't at Hyland Software Inc, like before. Shit! I already got kung-fued by these thugs for reading my email at work last year! And I'm going to go through that all for another summer?

And yet, the world keeps spinning. As it always does. It's sped up recently. Can someone slow it down a bit? I'm getting a little woozy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Still living!

I've been thinking about deleting this. If I have to post just to post, then the blog is becoming another burden on my time, and has outlived its purpose. I'll try to make an interesting post by plotting my day on a verbal line graph.

Morning: Pretty low. I was able to convince myself that I wasn't tired, even though I got like 6 hours of sleep, because of a 2-hour nap yesterday. You get the most deep sleep in the first couple hours of any sleep, so 2 great hours + 6 great hours = better than a normal 8 hour sleep. I think I had a Cafe Tasse (check this out: warm milk + instant coffee = crazy delicious!)

Mid-morning: stared at a damn computer for 3 hours. I was broken. Defeated. I was going to be late on another assignment, continuing the snowball effect that is my, and everyone else here's, life. And in doing so, I would resign myself to working instead of improving myself, toiling away on soon-forgotten homeworks instead of relishing the joy of my ever-waning youth. Tried to listen to music, but everything annoyed me. Tried not listening to music, but the teacher teaching some class about Excel annoyed me. Left a little early, just before getting part 1 of a 4-part assignment.

1:00: went to Entropy to get a snack and coffee. Ran into Bill, who is a year above me, whom I've known since high school, who hooked me up with recommendations to Hyland last year and Microsoft this year. He's really good at CS. Talked about jobs and classes, as usual, a pretty low-level conversation, but got me energized anyway. Hey, by the way, if I ever take a job where I just sit at a computer all day, come slap some sense in to me. Talking to people makes me feel good... programming doesn't.

After class: Bike Time! Hopped on Fifth and went as far as I could, or until I hit Frankstown road, which is when I started getting into Larimer or whatever that area is. Went North to Highland Park, came back via Negley, and went grocery shopping. I was a hero. Screw the homework, I was riding my bike, and life was great. And then I was grocery shopping, and life was still great.

Oh my geez... I was going to continue but I realized this was a "here's what happened today" kind of post, which is lame, so I'm quitting. When something else happens, I'll let you know.

Oh, PS. I got my assignment done.
PPS. I got cut from Microsoft too. They don't want me- whatever. I'm not entirely sure I wanted them. Hey, maybe I can work here in Pittsburgh over the summer!
PPPS. I'm writing for the Carnegie Pulse now too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I guess consumerism's evil, but it makes me feel great

One hat- I found a hat! It's great! It's made by a company called "Country Gentleman." Half wool- better than nothing. It only cost $7, so its dapper to dollars ratio is abour 5.5. (It has 38.5 dapper.)

Tkemaly sauce and Finn Crisps- from the "Ethnic Foods" store on Murray on the way to the Waterfront. Nice.

Whole wheat couscous and a packet of some weird protein shake drink that scares me a little bit- from the natural foods (read: a few organic things and a LOT of unnecessary supplements) store. Nice? Well, I do enjoy couscous.

A LOT OF GREAT FOOD from the GIANT EAGLE ON CENTER AND NAGLEY- which is GREAT, especially compared to the Ghetto Giant Eagle, which is now closed. It looks like a whole foods. They have a fish counter and everything. They sell whole wheat pasta. I'm used to this noise in the suburbs- it's not supposed to be that nice here!

Rock! Cooked me some tofu and spinach, which was very tasty. Got in a lot of bike riding. ... and now it's 10:00. Well, whatever. This is how life should be.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What does this even mean?

A certain company, which I will only refer to as "M.S.", described themselves on the EOC website in this way:

"Strategic partners to our business units, M.S.'s Information Technologists redefine the way we do business worldwide. Technology enables the Firm to win clients who understand the competitive advantage that our applications and infrastructure can bring to their businesses. Our people, values and the technology of M.S. continues to establish the Firm as the industry leader in e-commerce, object oriented software engineering, sophisticated global trading systems, worldwide securities transactions processing, risk management systems and models supporting derivative trading."

Look: "Morgan Stanley is a finance company." MINUS 71 WORDS ! (pronounced "Minus 71 words pause for emphasis BANG")

Dilbert* et al have poked fun at corporatespeak enough for it to be meaningless to make fun of. But this is a pretty crystal-clear example. I want to memorize this putrid paragraph. So that when someone asks me why I fear the business world, I can recite it.

(okay, fine, it's Morgan Stanley. If I were you, and I had a peanut allergy, I'd avoid them like a jar of Jif)

*which is no longer funny

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Go Steelers... 'nat

Rock on. They won the Super Bowl. Way to go, dudes.

The NFL is completely arbitrary. A few guys (supposedly the best in the world, but where's the guarantee of that?) play some football, win something like 16 games, and then we all go nuts! Yeahhh!

Yeah, it's arbitrary. But still, it's a system of goals and rewards in which a whole city can unite behind a common cause- two complete strangers are on the street, and they could easily just greet each other and say "Go Steelers!" and start talking football, and hey, they're friends. We win the Super Bowl, and the whole Oakland area and two whole colleges go hang around out in the street. Sixty guys (or however many) are instantly turned into heroes. Hey, it's great.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tonight was great:

- laughed harder than I've laughed in a long long time. We played Sardines in our apartment. Grubb hid under Joe's mattress. It was ri-god-damn-diculous.

- more importantly, did some great (note the bold font) improv. the show was pretty good, it had its high points, but afterwards we just did some scenes- me, beej, julie, will, and tom pike. we'd do a scene and talk about it a lot. it was fantastic. the sort of thing that, if you weren't there, me telling you about it doesn't really help you much. but, as this blog is as much for me remembering stuff later as it is for throwing up my thoughts for the whole world to see, i want to make a note of it.