Strange Musings *hyuk*
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
  9:30 PM — help?
I stumbled across the New Orleans Craig's List, and found the free section on it. There were many offers to help people contact missing friends and family in the Katrina disaster area. On a whim, I put up my own notice. Within 20 minutes, someone emailed me with the names and numbers of 4 friends and family members she had been unsuccesfully trying to contact for days. Her cellphone was no longer working as it was a New Orleans number, so they had no way to contact her, and I don't think she had a land phone to call them. As soon as my cellphone clock hit 9pm (free minutes), I started calling, and after my second try I actually got one of them. He sounded surprised that a complete stranger was calling him with the info that his friend was trying to get ahold of him. How bizzare the conversation must've sounded from his end. "Hi, is J*** there, I'm calling on behalf of L***, and she wants to know if you're ok, and to give you her office phone number. ... No, I don't know her. ... No, I live in Massachusetts. ... Ok, I'll tell her you're alright and going to try and contact her and her other friend C***." I'm glad to have helped, but it was just so bizzare. Actually, right after L*** had emailed me, I took the notice down b/c it just felt so wierd. I also had this fear that dozens of strangers would be begging for my help, and I'd be powerless to help, or I'd try to call people for hours... Well, over now, and I can feel like I did a little bit to help.

  11:04 AM — Comparisons
Am I the only one out there offended by the repeated comparisons of Hurricane Katrina to the Asian Tsunami or Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Yeah, it's a disaster, yeah the city's wiped out, yeah a million people are without homes for the next month or year, yeah a few hundred people died. But WTF?! You had warning, you could've gotten out! You had disaster relief people just begging to help you leave. Heck, you had a mandatory evacuation! Of the 1,200 people so far rescued from rooftops in New Orleans, how many of them genuinely COULDN'T leave before the hurricane? None! They all could've gotten help to leave. I can count maybe 5 deaths that were inevitable: 3 senior citizens from a nursing home who had heart attacks or something when being evacuated, and a few more people who died from tornados in Alabama.

The Asian Tsunami (26 Dec 2004) gave no warning to the undeducated people in its swath of destruction. There was no infrastructure for repair and relief in many of the countries affected. 150,000 people died. The destructions of Hiroshima (6 Aug 1945) and Nagasaki (9 Aug 1945) were man-made, hell, they were American-made. We could've given warning but didn't. There were around 120,000 immediate fatalities, or around 340,000 including later deaths from radiation.

We are so small, but our egos are so huge to think this little event is notable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
  2:03 PM — Lord of All I Transfer
I am the Queen of File Transfers (for Small to Moderate Quantities and Sizes of Said Files). To make myself the complete master of all I survey, I would like to solicit the input of other Kings and Queens of their own domains. Specifically, the next realm I wish to master is Transferring 20 Gigs of Files (Including Music, Images, and Documents) from an OSX.4 IBook to a WinXP Desktop, Using Methods Including but not Limited to Firewire, Ethernet, or USB, but Excluding Burning CDs or DVDs. If you are a Minor Lord of that demesne, I will gladly receive your pledge of fealty.

Sunday, August 28, 2005
  10:43 PM — Books on Tape
I've gotten to listening to books on tape this past year. I rarely reread physical books, and I'm pretty certain I'll never re-listen to these. If anyone would be interested owning or borrowing any of the books-on-tape listed below, shoot me an email (zandperl-at-care2-dot-com) and I'd send it to you in exchange for something, or COD. Also, if you know of a trade-in program that isn't a scam, I'd be interested in that. Summaries are my own. Unless otherwise indicated, all are on tapes played once only and rewound to the beginning. For each of the below, I paid roughly $5 each.

I'm also working on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, original BBC production. Douglas Adams produced the first two "installments" of the series as this radio broadcast BEFORE he wrote the novel trilogy with five books and a short story. (And the movie came after that.) Books 3-5 have since also been radio broadcast, but they are not original. H2G2 will be available for loan only to people I know in person. If you wanted to buy a copy yourself, it's only available through the BBC website, for GBP 16 (~$27) plus shipping.

  7:57 PM — Smoothie!
After my last Halloween Party, SPW got a few others to chip in and buy me a blender. Today while at the grocery store I remembered this thanks to having smoothies at StXi's the other day, and I decided to buy some ingredients. Today's recipe:

Stick all in blender on Low until a smooth consistency. Makes 1 thick and creamy glass.

I think next time I'll increase the OJ and reduce the ice cream. Maybe more ice, but if so, on High. Ooh, and strawberries! Or raspberries! Or rasbperry ginger ale!

  1:51 PM — Connections
I should make a flow chart for this and post it here.

My first year as a grad, I had physics classes with Renrut. He had been roommates as an undergrad with JaTo, who was two years our junior. JaTo went to high school with T$ and LupusRufus. I ended up dating T$ (for the last three years) and soon after LupusRufus and JY started going out.

JaTo also had a friend from the good ol' days of BBSs, Brooks. One day Brooks complained to me on IM that no one had played a good prank on him in ages, so I enlisted the help of LittleJennyCat. She pretended to be a friend of his that he'd forgotten about while I fed her lines. This worked so well, that they have been friends since, including one incidence where LittleJennyCat came up to the area to meet w/ a few friends. She stayed with StXi, JY bussed in to visit, and of course she brought LupusRufus with her. (I didn't make it due to snow.) Brooks did a total double-take when he saw LupusRufus, b/c they knew each other thru JaTo.

Summer last year I started doing CTY. There I made friends with TacoTortoise, who it turns out did Math Olympics with LupusRufus. And just today I discovered that Sammka is LJ friends with Rosefox! To make matters more interesting, I'm pretty sure I once asked Brooks if he knew Rosefox, since everyone knows both of them, and he did, from some SciFi convention. I should ask Rosefox if she remembers him.

My head's spinning. I just remembered that I did make a flow chart of much of this at LupusRufus' last birthday party, with his help, on his whiteboard. Too bad I didn't take a photo of it, or if I did I must've lost it w/ the other photos.

  12:42 PM — American Astronomical Society critiques Bush's ID push
This is the most coherent statement refuting the teaching of intelligent design in schools that I have ever read. Written by the AAS president, addressed to US President Bush, and released to the public as a press release on August 5, 2005. Be sure to look at it and send the link around.

Saturday, August 27, 2005
  10:38 PM — Internet Frog
In case you're curious whether your cable internet is really living up to its promise, check out Internet Frog - it tests your conenction speed. Mine seems right at some 2.6 Mbps downloading, 200 kbps uploading. Repeat it a few times to get a good sample. Unless it's just making it all up with some random seed algorithm. ;)

  9:36 PM — most ridiculous wedding evar!!!!1
When I get married in a courthouse on Halloween requring the wedding party to dress as Oompa Loompas and Munchkins and I therefore don't get anyone (other than JSue) willing to attend, I'm just going to have to hire some wedding guests.

  8:56 PM — Stress and Food
I haven't eaten a meal all day; I must be stressed.

I was explaining my eating habits to Tacotortoise yesterday evening. I normally am a small eater. When I am stressed, I eat less. When I am busy, I eat less. When I cook only for myself, I eat less. When the food's not that good, I eat less. And so on, with the end result that it's easy for me to lose weight, but harder to put it back on.

It's not uncommon for me to stop eating well before I'm full. I'm just bored of moving the fork, or my mouth craves a different taste and loses all interest in the current taste. This is thankfully a far cry from the average American (such as my dad), who continues to eat well past the point where he or she is full. I recall reading somewhere that there's a chemical in the brain that translates the eating process into pleasure; I must be short on that chemical.

It's nothing I'm worried about though, I don't have an unhealthy weight, and I just learned this week that my total cholesterol is a safe 174 - must be due to the low quantity of food, because it's certainly not due to my choice in food! The interesting part is that sometimes, like now, I realize I'm stressed by the fact that I'm not eating. I had a half an omlette for breakfast, five mozzarella sticks for lunch, and now at 9pm realized I should have dinner sometime, so I'm heating some Chef Boyardee because nothing seemed tasty to me and that's easy and I probably won't have leftovers.

The stress is probably because there's 11 days and counting until the resumption of the semester, and I need to finish syllabi, a couple weeks of lesson plans, and a couple months of HW and labs. *gulp*

There goes the microwave buzzer, I better try and force some of this down.

  11:55 AM — Wikipedia CTY help needed!
If you've been reading my blog a while, you should already know about Wikipedia. Well, when perusing the CTY pages, I noticed two pages that needed help. Loudonville, NY, the geographical location, did not have an entry at all. I have started a messy scrap page that needs work. And the page on Julian Stanley, CTY founder, has a note on it that it is a copyright violation of the official JHU/CTY obituary. I've started a new temporary page which will eventually replace the copyvio page, but of course it needs lots of work. So, if you love Wikipedia, CTY, Loudonville, or Dr. Stanley, pop in on those pages and contribute! :)

  9:12 AM — To the Tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"
I'm alive awake alert enthusiastic.
I'm alive awake alert enthusiastic.
I'm alive awake alert,
I'm alert awake alive,
I'm alive awake alert enthusiastic!

I woke with this song that I learned from a 6th grade science teacher stuck in my head. too bad it's not true.

Friday, August 26, 2005
  10:46 PM — London Photos
You asked for it, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and here they are, my London photos, all 204 of the highlights... Files named SV* were taken by T$, while those named IMG* were by me.

For people I know in person, London City Hall if you like one, I'll gladly give you an 8"x10" framed signed print. For people I correspond with via blogs, let me know if you want a larger (4Mpx) version, Horse Palace and London Eye from which you can print up to 8"x10" on your own. For complete strangers, I will sell you an 8"x10" version of any image for $50 (it costs me $25 in materials and some 2 hours in labor). For any of the above, Flood let me know the file name of the image (listed underneath the picture). If it's one of T$'s, I'll have to get his permission first for any of the above.

Hope you like them! Tower Bridge I do enjoy constructive feedback, so let me know any comments you have on specific images. I must say that this time I don't feel like I've got any really spectacular photos, but more of a travelogue.

  1:23 PM — President
The President of my college has been busy. (I hope I haven't already said all this.) First she vetoed the job search I was on--you know, the one she started? Then she announced her resignation in October for a new president position at another school.

So, this makes me mildly worried about my own job. There are two VPs at the school, Academic Affairs and Facilities (?). They apparently don't get along. Usually one of them would be elevated to temp Pres until a new one was found, but b/c of the tension between them, we're going to be getting someone external. Eventually (say 2-5 years) we'll get a new permanent pres., who is likely to lay off many of the current administrators. The VP of AA is the one who created my position, but she is generally disliked within the college and supposedly has quite a temper and isn't nice to people, so she's a shoe-in for firing. I do not have tenure yet, which means I can have my contract "not renewed" at the discretion of the president. Which means if we're short on money and the VPoAA isn't there to advocate for my position...

Yeah, it's a bit worrisome, but there's not much I can do in the meantime, and it is a little ways off. I'll probably chat with my dept coordinator about it in the next couple weeks, see what she thinks. I also hope to get on the search committee for a new pres for two reasons: I want one who'll build us a new science and technology building; and if the pres knows my name and face from the search, s/he'd be less likely to "let me go."

  9:26 AM — Logical Fallacy
Wikipedia has a great article on logical fallacies in arguments that often crop up online. Below I wish to mention a few and how I usually see them. It'd be awesome if we could remove most of these from arguments on my blog, though you'll see below I do believe in one in certain circumstances.


Thursday, August 25, 2005
  9:43 PM — The Gravity of the Debate
Remember how a while ago I brought up the gravity vs. evolution debate? That is, they're both "theories," and in fact scientists don't actually believe in Newtonian gravity anymore while they all believe in evolution, and yet, gravity is taught in school while evolution is debated. Well, I'm not the only one to compare them. In an I Drew This strip, D.C. Simpson compared them. And more recently and famously, The Onion ran an article on it as well. Go check them out, and let me know when you stop laughing.

Update: (8/29/05)
I didn't see this article before, speculating whether the Onion stole the idea from Simpson. The Onion even replies, in typical Onion fashion, and tells the truth of the whole affair.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
  9:09 AM — No rest for the ... me
I've not even unpacked from London (not to mention CTY), and my parents call me up on Friday to say they're taking me to the Cape (Cape Cod) this week. We leave in 20 mintues. Well, at least I managed to get 80% of my office junk into the new office before that. I'll try and work on sorting photos while there--I've got the 600 from me and T$ narrowed down to some 237 good ones, but they're not in order, and that's still too many. I'm aiming for some 50-100 for the final online photoalbum.

Monday, August 22, 2005
  2:58 PM — Gassy
During the month I was away from Massachusetts, the price for a gallon of gas skyrocketted from something like a dollar eighty to two sixty, prompting me to recalculate the cost of gas to drive to work, vs. taking the bus. Bus is $1.50 ($1.25 fare plus 25c transfer). Drive it work is 5.1 miles according to Yahoo maps, and my car gets an abyssmal 14 mpg (miles per gallon) in the city. For gas to cost the same, it'd have to cost $4.118 for a gallon (5.1mi*$4.118/gal / (14mi/gal) = $1.50). (If it were 18 mpg, I'd hold out for $5.294). At the current price of $2.599/gal, I am paying $0.947 per trip to campus.

It becomes more and more cost efficient to bus to campus. If gas hits five bucks a gallon I am DEFINITELY going to bus a few days a week. There's a monthly pass for $38, which would be economical for me if I bussed around 13 days a month, or 3 days a week.

Sunday, August 21, 2005
  9:11 PM — CTY - You Belong Here
A sammka post inspires me to blog on CTY. (Strangely, I always mentally pronounce her screen name "sam-SACK-a", with the extra sylLAble.)

It's really amazing that I never discovered CTY sooner. All my high school friends knew of it, and some even went there. Last summer, my first time teaching there, my students pointed out that I was a stereotypical CTYer, in that I was half Asian and half Jewish. A few years ago I developed a love for TMBG; I have long enjoyed 80's music. I like dancing, but when I do so around normal people I have to close my eyes so I don't realize that they're there; CTYers instead make we watch in joy and amazement as they brandish their pants and chant "go eat corn!" Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I see nothing wrong with wearing my underwear on the outside so that the Dean of Res Life tells me that while my clothes may be in horribly poor taste, they are "CTY appropriate." Sudoku is a perfectly normal passtime. I belong there.

And yet, there were so many little issues this summer, my second, regarding how the two halves of the site interacted, and the lack of information that we required to do our jobs appropriately. In one case, a student (not one of mine) could have DIED due to info his instructor and TA didn't have (nut allergy requiring an epipen). Many classes were not allowed to use their own budgets to go on essential educational trips. Spacecadet and I grow increasingly frustrated at how we aren't allowed to stay out and actually DO our "field science." I'm thinking of going back to my alma mater's Astrocamp during the second session of CTY next year. That's only some 4 days long, but the hours are 12 noon to 12 midnight. Much more appropriate. I could still do first session then, if I decided to. Most of the "veterans" come second session only though. And I wonder if I'd have priority over the woman who did first session this year, or if she would, if she choses to return.

<shrug> That's half a year away, I'll worry later, and just revel in the wonderful wackiness of CTY in the meantime.

  8:38 PM — The Random Question Meme!
An array of completely random questions about my friends! Designed for LJ users, I thought it was funny enough that I cleaned up the lj tags it spits out for posting here. You need an LJ account to do it, and you can pick how many questions.

What is blue102's fantasy?

To be a mime on the streets of Las Vegas.

What does unofischal spend the most time doing?

Hm, it's a tough call whether he spends more time on his computer analyzing helium forbidden emission lines and writing papers on it in LaTeX, or browsing the web for balloon porn.

Is tacotortoise an innie or an outie?

Bellybutton: innie
Otherwise: still an innie

What is meredithanne42's favorite meal?

Something from the Mongolian grill on Rt 9, followed up by beverages at the Moan and Dove.

This is by heptadecagram. You can find your own completely random questions here.

Do you feel enlightened now?


Wednesday, August 17, 2005
  11:36 AM — Bidet
On our first night in London, Monday 8/15, the Rubens at the Palace (4-stars, across the street from Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews) told us something'd gone wrong and they were overbooked. We got "upgraded" to the Milestone, a 5-star hotel in/near Kensington and they paid for a cab to take us over there. We were offerred complimentary wine or champagne, but after a 7 hr dehydrating flight I didn't think it wise. The bed was only a double, and the room barely fit it, but the bathroom was bigger than the bedroom and included a bidet. It really entertained me. (Stop thinking inappropriate things!) I forgot to snap a picture of it though. :-P I recall reading a discussion on another blog (maybe Gran's on Bran?) about why Brits think bidets are cool, but I can't really remember how it went...

  10:16 AM — Photo!
Tower Bridge
Here's a single photo from the trip. Contrary to popular belief, the bridge pictured is Tower Bridge, not London Bridge (that one's flat and boring). T$ and I had oodles of fun and walked more than I've walked in years.

I will eventually get around to uploading a bundle of pic's. Hopefully even before I lose them all when I send my laptop back for work again...

Monday, August 15, 2005
  9:48 PM — Home Again!
I have survived both CTY and London, various strikes not withstanding. Tomorrow I pick up Peeper from the wonderful Jethereal, and then start on a LONG list of things to do, with posting the 200-some photos I took in London and 100-odd at CTY somewhere kinda low on the list, and updating the blogs lower than that. But I'm alive and jetlagged! :)


WARNING: This blog often contains disturbing stories of science and math as used in every day life.

If you are easily disturbed or a Luddite, surf on elsewhere.

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Location: New England, United States
October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / February 2004 / March 2004 / May 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 /


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