Sunday, September 30, 2007

I want to post, but I have so little to say

I want to shout my little yawp from the rooftops, but yeah, there's not a lot to say.

I did see my parents this weekend, which was nice. Good to catch up. They were very excited about my interviews. I am too. It will be nice once I have these interviews and I can nail down whether I have a job offer from them or not.

Also, we had an excellent improv show. If we can get more than 8 people to show up in the audience, that would be really nice.

I was thinking about pro sports, and how they're really pretty silly, right? Two arbitrary teams compete in this arbitrary competition, and you cheer for the one that happens to come from the city you live in. But given that they're silly, they're kind of perfect, because they provide some filler to life. Ooh, I just thought of a good analogy!

People are like colored flashlights, all right? You want to mix colors together and make new brighter colors and so on. But it's like people are flashlights outside with nothing around. If you have no substance, you can't reflect off of anything. Pro sports, for example, provide some dust in the air. If you and another person are hanging out, and just shining your lights out there, nothing happens. But if the air is all dusty, you can kind of see the beam that you each shoot, (like lightsabers!) and then you can interact. Similarly, if you have something to talk about, some experience that you share, then that gives meaning to your interaction, even if the experience itself (watching a football game) is meaningless. The worth of an interaction is measured not only through the strength of the lights but also by the amount of dust in the air.

Fair metaphor? Even if it means I equated people with flashlights, which sounds like goddamn Successories nonsense?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Point/counterpoint: XKCD

Counterpoint: It's terribly drawn. Maybe it'd be funny as a joke blog or something. It's like a movie that just shows a test pattern while talking over it.
Counterpoint: It's just nerd humor. Anyone can (and at this goddamn school, anyone has) just take a stupid joke and make a "comic" out of it. It's unoriginal and lame.
Counterpoint: Really, I'm just jealous. Because I'll make a joke, and then I'll go reading through the archives, and I'll think: Shit! They beat me to it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Oldies but goodies

A few songs today that have sent shivers down my spine or made me dance or sing or otherwise wax ecstatic:

Once in a Lifetime, by the Talking Heads
Almost Crimes, by Broken Social Scene
Common People, by William Shatner, covering Pulp
Solta o Frango, by Bonde Do Role
Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above, by CSS

Friday, September 21, 2007

Amen to this!

I mean, this.
connecting (maybe) with all you readers right now, through technology
or at least introducing another subject to make for better conversation with you readers next time I do talk to you in real life.

PS. I got a new IPOD NANO, used, for $40! Bargains make me glad! The return of music in my ears makes me more glad!
PPS. more excitingly, I got an interview with Google! In Seattle, too! Yeah!
PPPS. hi Google recruiters; check it out, I'm excited about your company!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two more things I like a lot:

1. Andrew Bird's song "Simple Exercises." Catchy and epic at the same time!
2. Copper. It's so well drawn! And that sort of cute-and-deep (but not too cute) combo that I love (see: The Little Prince). This one is ... apropos.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two thoughts about tomorrow's TOC:

1. I'm really disappointed that there kind of isn't a place for me at SilverTree Media.
2. Sorry, Redback Networks.You're off my list. Note that I wrote that post in summer 2005.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How can anyone expect me to sleep

when I can turn on the version of "Scenic World" that's on Beirut's "Lon Gisland" EP (the original is pretty good too) and it's autumn, and it's getting that delicious chilliness in the air, and life is so goddamn good and there's nostalgia because it's fall and there's future nostalgia when you know you'll look back on these halcyon days that you're experiencing right now and there's so much being AWAKE to be done!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Me and my old Schwinn WorldSport

The poor thing. I treat it like crap sometimes. But then it goes and does this to me... the little bastard.

We've got a slightly dysfunctional relationship. It's like a horse that I never feed, yet still expect to keep working. It's down to four gears (it has 10, but I don't know from derailleurs, so I haven't been able to fix the other 6), of which one slips. They're all a little rusty. The wheels are not bad, although the back one has a little bump that rubs against the brakes sometimes. The brakes are pretty good. There's a light on the front that works, and a blinky on the back that has no batteries (which reminds me, I should fix that!); a lock that attaches to the frame but rattles around, and pedals that work fine but are sharp! I can't ride it without shoes. The seat causes super numbness if I ride it for any distance, and the seat post and handlebars are a couple inches too short for me.

There are stickers: Free Ride, Tally Hall, WRCT, "Commute to Work", and a crappy Grand Buffet that looks like hell. It's got character.

Sometimes I feed it new parts. It's always a pain, though, because there are two options:
1. Free Ride, which is awesome in theory, but always a negative experience in practice. They have a lot of tools, but not necessarily good parts. (what do you expect for free?) And they're open at odd hours (Tuesday/Thursday like 6-10, Saturday 1-5), meaning that whenever I go, I've got to get stuff done quick! And I have to be able to ride the bike home, so I better not mess anything up. Plus it's dark and grimy, but that sometimes makes me feel good, like "Look at me, I can do manual labor too!" (the punchline: I can't. I'm so useless.)

2. Biketek or Pittsburgh Pro, which are good bike shops in theory, but when you leave, your wallet will be many dollars lighter, and your self-esteem will be many notches lower. Welcome to the Bike Shop. Our special is a heaping plate of condescension with a side of bike parts. Can I take your order and scoff at you?
They are a lot closer, though, and open at somewhat-reasonable hours. (Only somewhat, though.) So the other day, I went in there asking for a tire (my old tire was rotting and awful), tube (I got a spare tire from Matt Joachim, but it was a slightly different size), or maybe wheel (to fix the aforementioned bump, while I'm at it). After a few brusque questions, the guy established that I don't even know what size wheels I have. (surprise! 700 mm != 27 inches. Also, they don't even make 27 inch wheels anymore. Oh bike, you are so old.) Then he sold me a $15 tire, and tried to sell me a $45 wheel. My entire bike cost less than that!

Whatever. I made it happen. Got the tire. Put it on. Also added a little screw that was never there before, that according to the Free Ride folks (a while ago) would fix my derailleur woes.

So I'm heading to campus, listening to my ipod (which I wasn't sure if I wanted to bring, but decided to at the last minute), and I switch gears, and I have a couple seconds of blinding terror where NOTHING IS WORKING and I'm not sure why and before I know it I'm skidding along the ground, and I have the presence of mind to get up and get out of the road before it hits me that I just fell down, and I hope I am not bleeding too much (luckily I'm not) and the adrenaline jolt and LCD Soundsystem's "Get Innocuous!" are jazzing me up enough that I yell out a prodigious "FUCK!" and start cursing at my bike. Turns out my chain fell off and got stuck between the gears and the frame, causing my back wheel to stop turning.

Look, bike, I just tried to fix you! I gave you an entire new tire! Whatever. I have no big wounds, so I keep rolling down to campus.

It's only when I get to improv and go to turn off my ipod that I realize it is all broken! The screen ist kaput! The buttons aren't the most functional! The "lock" switch doesn't work! Well, it still plays music, although the last couple days where its battery has lasted about 40 minutes have given me reason to doubt that too. My phone's screen is a little messed up, but not in any way that affects its function. (although it seemingly has started answering itself if I don't answer it. if you call me and hear My Pocket: Greatest Hits instead of voice mail, I apologize!)

Hey, bike, come on! If you don't like me, give me another one of those injuries where my foot slips off the pedal and hits me in the heel and it bleeds a little bit but leaves a cool scar. But don't take it out on the ipod! You two are a team! Between the two of you, I can get anywhere, and really enjoy it!

Sigh. Two things have come out of this, though:

1. I'm probably in the market for a new mp3 player, so I'm open to suggestions. I've had great experiences with the ipod nano, and terrible experiences with a Samsung YP-U2J. I'm not all so sure I want to deal with the Apple monopoly, though. I do want flash memory, a backlit screen that's not dumb, the ability to play an album straight through or shuffle, and no nonsense with connecting/downloading/etc. Capacity is not a big deal- 1gb is fine. The cheaper the better. This is a good thing, because it lets me buy new technology, which is always fun. Plus, it doesn't even cancel out the raise I got for TAing, so in terms of overall luck, I'm still ahead!

2. Cause and effect: check this out.
If I hadn't tried to replace the tire AND gotten this screw and "tip" from Free Ride, I wouldn't have adjusted the derailleur and therefore wouldn't have fallen.
If I hadn't decided to take my ipod at the last minute, I wouldn't have broken it.
If I hadn't been going to break dancing that night, I wouldn't have worn gym shorts, and maybe better pockets would have saved the ipod.
If I had bought the new wheel, I would have bent it too, which would have sucked.

Okay, whatever. But here's a cool cause-and-effect chain: yesterday I was coming back to campus, and I had this impending feeling of doom that this car would hit me. (it didn't, don't worry.) But I was wearing my helmet, because Sarah convinced me that I should after I told her about my wreck on Thursday, and it only came up because we were talking about music and I mentioned that my ipod was all broken. So, if the car HAD hit me:
Going to break dancing -> wearing gym shorts
Replacing tire + screw from Free Ride + wearing gym shorts + grabbing ipod at the last minute -> fall + broken ipod.
broken ipod -> conversation about bike crash + I decide to wear my helmet
wearing helmet -> not dying when car hit me
So in a way, my life would have been saved because I tried to replace my tire, I got this screw from Free Ride, I was going to break dancing class, and at the last minute I decided to take my ipod.

The life you save, quite unintentionally, may be your own!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A few slangs and catch phrases you should know when talking/emailing to me

Hi! I'm glad to hear from you. However, to avoid possible misunderstandings, I'm just going to throw a few terms out there. Hate to impose extra cognitive load on you, but I'm sure we all use certain slangs and we may or may not know what each other's slangs mean. Plus, this way, you can be in on my inside joke, and what is friendship, really, besides a series of inside jokes?

Also, this serves the purpose of properly citing the sources of all my slang, so that the right people can get credit. Or blame. Your call.

So if I say, for example, "Is it The Best?" (or Worst, or Biggest, or Smallest, or whatever) that's an Alex Grubbism. It's meant mostly facetiously, as in when Will would say something was good and Grubb would respond with "But is it... The Best?" just to antagonize him. Hopefully you can catch when I'm capitalizing The Best in conversation.

On the topic of Alex Grubb, "Why would anyone do that?" is another rhetorical question. I probably agree that what you're doing has merit. It's a sort of sarcastic throwaway.

I picked up saying "great" from Will. It might sound sarcastic, but it actually means something is great. For example, seeing Live at the Pittsburgh Pirates game is great.

This is not to be confused with writing "GREAT" or "AWESOME" in capital letters, which I picked up from Ram. Same idea- it actually means something is very good. But it carries more of a connotation of very genuine excitement, whereas saying "great" a la Will is just acknowledging something great.

XOXO is another one I've stolen from Ram, although not actually used much. It's a signoff on an email, as in "XOXO Ram." Though I don't use it much, I do appreciate it. I think the reason I haven't stolen more slang from Ram is that it's all very genuine, and I think copying it would make it lose some of its sincerity.

Back to AWESOME, though. "AWESOME" is also a nice segue into Brian Gadomski slang that I have picked up. For those of you who don't know him, Brian is a friend from high school. He is also a juggler, which is how I got to know him, although that's not true, because I actually got to know him because he is the brother of Pete Gadomski, one of my best friends from high school. A long time ago, he made a short film, like a minute long, about a kid who's just wandering around. Then he meets a friend who says "what are you doing?" "eh, nothing." And then they jump into the air and the screen goes "AWESOME!" all 60's-like or something. The Go! Team is on in the background. It wasn't a great film. But I do mean "AWESOME!" in that sense sometimes.

Other Brian Gadomski slang I've adopted:
"Book" = "cool"
"Choin" = "cool" but you're a loser if you say "choin", so I try not to say it.
"Bru" = "bro" except it's so much cooler than saying "bro".
Oh, and "It could be worse." I've been big on this one recently. It's a two-person line, really. The idea is like this: someone complains about something ("Man, the weather's bad today"). Person A says "It could be worse." Person B thinks up an extreme outlandish way in which it sure could be worse. ("Yeah, it could be raining hot molasses!")

"Fresh" has been kept alive in my memory by Brian, but it really started with Erik, another one of my best friends from high school. It means what it meant back in 1992: good. I should point out that a lot of the slang I picked up from Erik (which is a lot!) came from Magic: the Gathering players. I think the only other one I use is "What a hopping" = "Man, that's rough."

And then there's the catch phrases I've picked up from Brian Gray, which might as well be a different language. A recent favorite is "Try this delicious soup, Samuel." "I'm orange!" I offer no explanation.

Err... and then there's the Adam Jaffe catch phrases, which are a different language, and varying degrees of offensive. If I say "er-ver-car-durrs" instead of "avocados", or talk about popping up in your car's backseat with your favorite Chingy CD, or claim that my name is "Wenis McGee", ... well, the only excuse I have is that these things happened in an improv scene.

Hey, the Technical Opportunities Conference is next week, which means recruitment is happening, which means employers might be facebooking me, and then might follow the link to my blog. Or they might just Google me. At any rate, hi recruiters! Not only can I bring my sweet COMPUTING SKILLS to your company, I can also bring to you a whole new generation of slang!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A proposal about the nature of life.

Here's a thought, and I have no other way to introduce it besides "here's a thought":

Life is just playing games. You play a game as long as it interests you, and then you transcend it and move on.

When you're a kid, remember how it was always a big deal who was the fastest runner in your class, or who could spell words the best, or whatever? And then you realized, that's dumb, nobody cares. Maybe you entered the science fair, or the football team. I know I personally entered the marching band, Academic Challenge (aka quiz bowl, or whatever you call it), and juggling club. I played those games, got okay at them, but eventually just moved on. I played the college admissions game and the grades game. But I don't care about those anymore. Grades, more or less, are for suckers. I sure don't care about being the best trombonist in marching band anymore.

Now I'm playing the job search and/or grad school game. I'm almost done with the College game. Some of the games I've played on the side: the cooking club game, the exercise game, the "not being a nerd" game. It's all kinda nonsense. Eventually I'll transcend this game too and move on.

Maybe some games do matter: the career game? Maybe the deal with the super-wise monks is that they've transcended those too-- they've transcended ALL the games!

But I'm not saying playing these games was bad. I enjoyed the marching band while I was in it. Hell, I enjoyed Magic: the Gathering back when. I don't wish I never did these things, but at the same time, I don't want to do it again. So while all this sounds like me ranting about how life doesn't matter, that's not what I mean at all.

Just trying to keep it in perspective: All I'm doing is playing games. Enjoying it, but playing games nonetheless.

Also, wow, A Softer World is the best Successories posters for twentysomething* hipsters. Sometimes it's hilarious. Sometimes it's creepy. Sometimes it's kinda awww. Sometimes it's a combination of a couple of those characteristics.

*something = one. Not that I'm insecure about my age. For example, I can't wait until something = forty-five.

Let's make a convention

that if you get a phone call and it embarrasses you, because you're in class or something, it is entirely YOUR fault. Come on. You can turn your phone on or off. If you haven't turned your phone off, then you are willing to accept calls. Done.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Postin' links, postin' links, postin' links, postin' links

This really tickles my fancy. Not sure why.

On a related note, this comic might tickle my fancy. I'm not sure. It is pretty. But sometimes it's just nonsense.
Some good ones:
credit to Daniel Dewey again. And, a couple years ago, Joe McDermott.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

This quote is awesome enough that it makes me want to edit my Facebook profile to actually include it as a quote.

I just keep picturing a fox being all cool and suave and hopping around in all directions, while a little hedgehoggy guy kinda sits there all fat-like and giggles to himself because he knows ONE BIG THING and nobody else does!

Monday, September 03, 2007

I think this is pretty accurate

Webcomic nerd time!
It's true, though.
Credit to Daniel Dewey for (unwittingly) pointing me to this comic. Or "online graphic novel." Call it what you will.