Tuesday, February 24, 2009

T minus 4 days

I'm going to India. This is very cool. Most of my free time has gone towards preparing for that; not so much for blogging. Other cool things I have done include get a haircut and go to the Pike Place Market. But that's not so interesting; you're here to read about India.

Here's the proposed itinerary:
Saturday 2/28-Sunday 3/1: fly Seattle-Amsterdam-Delhi
Monday 3/1: fly Delhi-Guwahati, meet Catie, take a taxi-jeep to Shillong, go to the orphanage up in the Khasi Hills, hang out there and in Shillong for a couple days
3/4 or thereabouts: get back to Guwahati, fly to Kolkata, meet Catie's friend there, then the next day fly to Gaya, then get to Bodh Gaya (where the Buddha sat under a tree and got enlightened).
The next few days: go to Varanasi (it's The Holiest!) and Sarnath (it's like the third holiest!), sleeper train to Agra (it's the Taj Mahaliest!), then go on to Delhi
Tuesday 3/10- Friday 3/13- hang out in Delhi, meet up with Catie's other friends. Holi will be happening. Throw colors at people.
Saturday 3/14- head home via Amsterdam, meet up with Daniel and Michael in the Netherlands on the way.

This is neat! I am excited!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Positive definition

I feel like this turned up somewhere in my computer science education. Maybe it was one of those classes I took off to the side. Some logicky philosophical thing which is like super important because it proves that computers can't solve the halting problem or whatever, but which is like not important because it doesn't tell me how to like run a server, but which is like super important because I'm a Computer Scientist (oooh!) and not a server runner.

Positive vs. negative definitions. Where you have some object that you're trying to define, and a positive definition is where you say what it is, and a negative definition is where you say what it isn't. Like "what kind of car do you want to buy?" "A yellow camaro, because it's so fast and pretty and Brian Bell of Weezer wrote a song about it once." That's a positive definition. A negative one is "Well, not a truck or minivan or other big thing, because I don't like driving big cars, and not a sports car because I don't want a gas guzzler, and not an American car because they suck, and nothing too unsafe or flashy or expensive."

They can both be useful, but positive definitions are almost always more fun, Weezer or no. How many times have you been around people and said "what do you want to do today?" and they say "well, not go to a movie, and not go to a park, and not go here, and not there" and you end up sitting inside and rereading Reuters's "Oddly Enough" because it's all that comes up on the little bar across the top of your gmail. That is so frustrating! Maybe there are psychological reasons that people do this (they don't want to be responsible for bad decisions, etc., but I'm not going into that here because I don't know.

I do know that defining yourself and your life positively is a good way to go. I negatively-defined myself into a career (no humanities because I don't like to write, no sciences because I hate decimal points, not business because I don't like suits, no math or finance because I hate decimal points and integrals and derivatives, not arts because I don't like to draw... CS it is). That's turning out well so far. I mean, plus I really like programming, so there's that. But now I have to define the rest of who I am and what I like to do, and it's difficult to do it positively. But here are two more pieces of information:

- I saw Coraline the other day and it was so good. I mean, the story was weak (and it would have been so much better with no dialogue), but it was so goddamn sonically and aurally pretty. The garden scene alone is up there with the opening sequence of Paprika and the fight with a bunch of Agent Smiths in the Matrix Reloaded (shut up) as "entirely worth the price of admission alone." (and then the other father's playing the piano and oh shit this guy is John Linnell!)
Self-definition point here: I freakin' love dark kids' beautifully-animated wonderland-adventure stories, or anything that blurs the stylistic line between movie and video game. If it were possible, I would have already bought a ticket to 9. And not just because The Knife opens the trailer.

- Self-definition point #2: I love food and markets. I wandered around at the Pike Place market for like 3 hours today. Found dinner. I love putting things together. It's a big algorithmic puzzle that can't be solved trivially. And every piece you get to buy a thing. Buying things is fun, talking to market-shop-owners is fun, looking around and gawking at all the colorful things is fun. Exclamation point!

Monday, February 09, 2009

My morning, in not so many words

I was going to give you some explanation of what happened today, and it'd be kind of clumsy because it involved a streetcar rut in the road, you know, like where the streetcars go, and I ... oh, nevermind. Here's what happened:

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I just got shots to go to India. I got shots last year for yellow fever, tetanus, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (actually a series of four pills you have to take every other day without food and keep refrigerated. hardcore!) before going to Ecuador. That left only the second hep A shot and then the polio shot for my upcoming trip to India. I'm now immune to hep A and polio! For life! This is neat! I never have to worry about them again! Add that to chickenpox and hepatitis B. I'm slowly becoming some kind of superman. This is great.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm going to India in, oh, 3 weeks? Yeah. I'm going to visit Catie. And travel. This will be neat.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


One reason I run this blog is to give you guys an insight into my mind, so I offer you this animation that is scary. (makes noise) The same way that Michael Pollan's books are a pretty good summary of my thoughts about food, this is a pretty good summary of my fears about life (albeit from a female perspective).

I'm not sure which is worse. Okay, okay, the dream was worse; drama aside, going stark raving nuts and being surrounded by faceless people who cannot help me is worse than having a boring useless life. But if you multiply chance that it will happen times how awful it would be, the boring useless life is way worse.

(Disclaimer: Not self-pitying here! I know it's up to me to avoid this kind of life! Am pretty sure I will! Not getting all deep and stuff! Offering you a short summary of things that scare me, just because I think about them sometimes!)

Thanks to Beej for the link.

Monday, February 02, 2009


One thing that's frustrating about our modern urban adult everything-is-nice lives is that things are seldom the best or the worst of anything. I suppose it's not fair for me to expect life to be one big x*sin(x) curve, but whatever. I rarely get a chance to experience anything The Most.

Last night I had the scariest dream of my life.

I mean, it was on a whole 'nother level from most nightmares. And I've been mildly frightened before, you know, scary movies or roller coasters or the dark or bugs and needles, but I've never been just unstoppably terrified. Wow. I am glad that I got to experience that dream. I am WAY MORE GLAD that it's not reality.

But I am still glad I got to experience that dream. So in the interest of posterity, here's an outline. In real life, I had just had a bout of insomnia, I probably woke up around 4:30, checked the clock at 5:40 and it was probably 6:30 by the time I drifted off (I think). Maybe it was later, because I woke up at 7:50. I had a little of that pre-sleep time where things don't make sense but it's okay because you're going to sleep.

I thought up some painting ideas. The one I could remember was like a lady flying across the sky, except her face and upper body was a lady but then she sort of morphed into one of those Persistence of Memory shapes. I thought I would write a quote on it: "We don't want to lose ourselves in time." I thought this was a brilliant thing to do. Those sort of ideas cross your mind when you're drifting off to sleep.

Next thing I know, I'm in a classroom. It was some kind of computery class, and I was in the back, working on a project with someone I knew. Two people shared a computer. I thought I was making up really great ideas, and I thought, man, if I could improv like this, I'd be on fire. I have to remember how to do this!

I soon found myself towards the front of another classroom. I was talking about my great ideas, but I knew class was about to start, and I was in the wrong room. It must have been high school, because I was thinking "I have to get to my 1st period class." Then I realized I didn't know where that was, and I didn't know how to find out. I wandered outside.

Once I got out there, I started to realize I was not in control of... things. I couldn't remember stuff very well. I thought I was going crazy. (In real life, I read an article yesterday that mentioned how schizophrenia only onsets in the 20's.) I thought, well, I'll call my mom. She's someone real who can tell me what's going on. But I kinda knew it wouldn't work. Sure enough, my contacts list had 6 names, none of which were my mom. So I tried to dial her number, thinking "aha! even if I'm crazy, there's no way this can't work!" but then the numbers started disappearing about halfway through. Damn.

It seemed no big deal, though. I was still all right. But then, I remembered someone in my class had said my nose was bleeding. I looked in a mirror and realized it sure was, and I had stitches on my nose, and they were bleeding too. When did I get stitches on my nose? And then my ear was bleeding, and I don't remember when or why, but I was kinda not all right anymore. I started panicking; I didn't know anyone, or anything. So I started realizing, oh shit, I'm not just take-some-pills-and-manage-it crazy, I'm like crazy-guy-on-the-street crazy; no, I'm stretcher-and-padded-cell crazy. But I had to get help anyway. Maybe I was still just pills crazy. It was nighttime, there were some people around, I walked up to them and yelled "help!", but they couldn't talk to me. Their faces were half deformed and half kinda sewn-up, like stitched, and leathery, not quite like shrunken heads, but like some kind of orc-ey thing.

So I ran away from them and I saw a clear window leading into a spiral staircase, and there were people wearing colorful clothes and carnival masks, walking up the stairs in rows of three, zombielike. I knew they couldn't help me, so I think I ran past them up the stairs. I then was almost at the top and a girl was behind me; she was someone I knew, or had seen before. She looked like Saffron from Firefly. I said, "you can help me!" And she seemed to agree. I said "who are you?" and she said "I'm a bumper." "What?" and then she took a big bite of me! (in retrospect, this is hilarious. It was not at all funny at the time.)

I got to the top of the stairs and walked out the door. I was by the same corner I was at back when I walked outside the first time. Sarah was there, and I thought, thank god, I know you, you can help! But she wasn't her either. She had a forked tongue.

This is when I woke up. Oh my god it was the scariest. And I'm going to work now.