Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blogging for the sake of blogging

- The new Doctor Who season finale is really good. The whole season was top notch: acting, writing, probably directing too but I didn't notice. If you're looking for (13*42/60=) 9 hours of light sci fi, including time travel and Britishness, I highly recommend it. This is season 5 (post-2005-reboot), and it's about as good a place to start as any.

- The Vocal Joystick is really cool. (2 min youtube; summary: controlling a mouse pointer or a robot arm with your voice. Vowel sound and volume are both factors.) This is what I was trying to do with Whistle Weasel, times 1000.

- Thai food remains my new favorite. Recommendations welcome (restaurants, recipes, whatever)!

- I like how the World Cup has gotten big enough to absorb even little old not-caring-about-sports-me into its fold. Also I like vuvuzelas.

- On this comic, the first panel seems good, while the second and third seem bad. I'm not going to try to generalize about this, because generalizing is apparently all I do all the time now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

As I sit down to close out this brilliant weekend,

I've got a new lungi, Outkast and Passion Pit on the stereo, a Doctor Who season-finale-part-1 queued up, a loving family enjoying Father's day in Cleveland, a wonderful group of friends here in Seattle, a GRE behind me, an exciting and promising future in front of me figuratively, and a plate of Thai food in front of me literally.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Things that make me say:

Meh: I watch soccer for the first time in 4 years, it's USA-England, big game... and it ends as a 1-1 tie?
Eep: not being able to record policemen sounds pretty sci-fi dystopian.
I love living in a city that has these: SIFF and Ignite
Yes yes hells yes: Everything Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and particularly right now Micmacs.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

On a kick again

This is pretty nice. I sometimes alternate between bits of feeling wonderful and feeling kinda out of it. Now I'm on an upswing. That's good.

On an upswing, everything is fast and colorful and energetic! And I say yes to things. I have physical energy to do things. I have willpower to resist things. I have mental energy to think about and plan things. I have ... interpersonal energy? ... to really care about people.

I remember a couple of these in recent history: while making Is it a Party? and after realizing I wanted to go to grad school. This one doesn't have such a cause. So why is it happening?

Blame it on a lot of things: nice weather, having allergy medicine again, making progress at work. Coming back from vacation maybe, but I felt not so great the first week or so after vacation. I did fast for a day on Memorial Day, and thought "wouldn't it be convenient if this were a turning point?" ... maybe it was, coincidentally or not.

Anyway, upswings all end... is this one different? I hope so. The difference this time could be that I'm more focused on compassion. Also, I realize that my previous goals were to minimize all that I don't want, and that approach wasn't working for me, so perhaps I can wisely refill my life now. I'm going a little easier on myself. Maybe I've learned something.

... uhh, talk about feelings on the internet much? whatever, I'm feeling good, I don't care what you think! plus, this is as close to a diary as I have, and I like to record these things.

Oh, unrelatedly, I jumped out of a plane last weekend. I quite recommend it.

Monday, June 07, 2010


First, are you a grad student? Or anyone else who reads a lot of PDF's, and needs to save PDF's as well as metadata on all of them in the cloud, and maybe organize them in cool ways? How do you do it? What software do you use?

Second, how do I best broadcast the above request? I want it to go to everyone I know, but low-priority, so they just ignore it if they don't know. Blog -> Facebook, Buzz, and RSS reader, but it's in facebook as a "note", so most people may not read it. I think Twitter also -> Facebook and Buzz, but I'm not sure. In this case, I solved it by blasting everywhere. HI INTERNET I HAVE SOMETHING TO ASK YOU.

Oh nevermind, this is exactly the use case for Aardvark.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Self-control (again)

Is exhaustible. (skip the movie, transcript is fine.) Willpower is like a muscle.

Yet, it's super important. (read the long article or just take my word for it.) Okay, maybe not the marshmallow study as such. But still. Would you argue that willpower isn't crucial for personal success, worldly success, any kind of success?

Sure, there are tricks to help you improve your self-control. But it's not through just trying harder.

Anyway, we discriminate against people who don't have it. (I may have been thinking about this during the unfortunate Doctor Who episode "Voyage of the damned", in which there is a fat couple who really likes food. One character makes fun of them for eating all the time. He is a jerk; they are the salt of the earth.) We hate on them, and consider ourselves justified in doing so!

It seems particularly unjust to me. We judge people for lacking willpower, because they don't know the willpower-increasing tricks. That's like judging someone in America for not knowing Swahili. And we do this all the time: any time you say "that person is dumb because he was too lazy to do his homework" or "that person is fat because he eats too much and never exercises," you're judging someone for lacking willpower.

(I guess the answer here is just not to judge anyone. Increase the radius of beings who deserve your appreciation and concern to be all humans, not just all humans with enough willpower.)

Ever had sleep paralysis?

It's more fun if you know about it beforehand. Here's the wikipedia. Here's how my episode last night went:

I half woke up, and I thought there was someone in my room. For some reason, I thought it was my friend Pete, but then I looked over, and it wasn't- it was kind of a big lumbering dude, and I only say "dude" because he/she was big and lumbering; I couldn't really make out a face. I couldn't do anything. Then said person kinda laid across my chest sideways. This was a little inconvenient. I could still kinda breathe, but maybe a little less. I couldn't do much. I felt like I could see everything fine, except the person; it was like he had a perception filter or something. I could move my hands, except to get the person off me, and I could talk but not to the person.

Eventually he got up and stood in the corner of the room. Same thing: I couldn't see him or talk to him, although I felt awake. At this point it was really just kind of annoying. I was thinking "well, what if I roll out of bed, maybe hitting the ground would wake me up for real." Luckily, before I could, I was awakened by a text message.

This has happened to me I think once before, and I don't think it's unusual for most people to get it a couple times. I bet if you didn't know about it, it'd be terrifying. Because you do, hopefully it'll be only a little bit scary, probably kind of annoying, and more interesting.

(side note: I guess this qualifies as lucid dream #3. But "I know I'm having sleep paralysis" is a lot less fun than "I know I'm dreaming!")