Monday, November 29, 2010

For Thanksgiving I went down to NC and visited Whitney and Joe. It was fun and relaxing. I got lots of sleep, shared Thanksgiving with a bunch of international business students, drove around Durham. And was generally pampered by Whitney and Joe. It was nice to get away. Though we did have to all go around the circle and say what we're thankful for this year. I hate doing that.

I've been watching Boardwalk Empire and I'm getting more and more convinced that it's not going to pan out. Each episode raises a bunch of questions, answers very little, and doesn't really progress the story much. Plus there are no really great moments. There are only one or two episodes left in the series, we'll see what they can do. My hopes diminish with each episode.

Finally, internet dating update. I've finally completed my profile, though the endless questionnaires were a huge pain. I resent their oversimplification of me. The questionnaires love to ask about a complex issue and then provide only 2 possible simple answers, neither of which describes my views. Then it complains if you list too many questions as "irrelevant". Anyway, now that I've done all that I've discovered that looking at girls profiles really isn't that fun. It's more like homework. Lots of reading, lots of looking at pictures without nudity.

OkCupid wants you to give each person a numerical score but I feel like you walk away from each profile barely knowing what each girl is like. Certainly not enough to score the girl. I wish there were video clips. Video clips of them talking to a friend. That would give you a good sense of the person.

(Liz Lemon on 30 Rock)
I will cut you open like a tauntaun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I should have known better than to pre-pay for a rental car. Saved me like 50%, but sure enough, I'm trying to slightly change something and I'm totally getting the run around.

I just want to move my pickup time from 10am to 7:30am. The website gives me an error saying "Sorry, our online reservation system shows the location is sold out for that date. Either change your entries and try again or call the location directly to confirm availability."

The lady at the national number said that she can't alter pre-paid reservations because that's an online feature. She forwarded me to online services. The lady at the online services number said that it was some kind of issue with the location's office, and she would get the same error if she tried to alter the reservation. She said I should call the location's rental center. The DCA rental location has a sweet automated message: "the location is busy helping other customers, you will now be transferred to our world-wide reservations assistance." And we come full circle.

Tomorrow morning I'm just going to head out early and hope to get an early car. I'm driving down to Raleigh. I'm kinda looking forward to the long, relaxing drive. I don't drive around very much these days.

(from a Eurogamer article about the Microsoft Kinect)
The elephant in the room is that, well, most people can't fit an elephant into their room - and a great many people don't have space for Kinect in their rooms either.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rough night at trivia tonight. It was just me and Rachel and we scored second to last. The announcer quipped "The Better Half: 34 ... More like the worse half." Jackass. Rachel did pretty well in the food round. I was looking forward to that round because I thought I heard him say it was going to be "Boobs, Glorious Boobs" instead of "Food, Glorious Food". I guess my mind is in the gutter. (I'm not sure what boob trivia would be, but I did see that movie Breast Men in college. I'm sure I'd know most of it.) Neither of us could match explorers to countries of origin, besides Magellon. My movies trivia knowledge only helped a little. I didnt know there was a 2008 re-release of South Pacific, or that Rocky Balboa's dog was named Butkus. I didn't even remember he had a dog.

OkCupid has matched me with a few girls. It's a little surprising because I haven't yet taken the time to fill out any of their questionnaires. So I'm not sure on what basis it's matching me with people. Based on my photo? Who knows. Maybe it has software that parses and analyzes your self-description. Anyway, I got 3 mostly normal girls and 1 girl whose entire description is "I'm looking for subs to worship me."

Rachel: I was going to comment, after Kate said "You'll never get a date if you keep wearing your ex's hat." That you'll never get a date if you keep quoting your ex on your webpage!
(For the record, most of these Kate quotes are not my ex. And I will not be telling any of my future dates about this page.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm watching Mind of the Married Man. Before buying the dvd I saw a funny clip on youtube of it. This one (there's no sound). Something funny about all the guys sitting around ogling a mtv singer and not even looking up from the screen when asking their coworker to buy duplicate "just thinking of you" cards for their wives.

But it turns out that a better title for the series would be Mind of the Married Weasel. It's not fun to watch someone make up lies and then lies to cover lies, the whole while sniveling to his wife about how she should trust him more. I like for my characters to have a tiny bit of nobility to them. There was a much better Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry and Jeff are hanging out when Larry gets a phone call, and he warns Jeff that he's going to be very fake on the call and he hopes Jeff can handle overhearing it. Curb did a good job of showing how friends might conspire in a lie, in more of a harmless way. Mind of the Married Weasel is just a bunch of scummy guys who get together and bring out the worst in each other.

I'm still unsure about seeing the new Harry Potter movie before the second part comes out. But, the new Winnie the Pooh movie looks to be pretty promising. And it comes out on my birthday!

(about the "go kate" hat that I still wear sometimes)
me: It's the only hat I have so I wear it when my hair looks bad and I'm going outside.
kate: You're never going to get a date if you wear your ex-friend's cap around! Joe, buy a new hat already!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last Christmas my sister got be a bunch of Stanislaw Lem books and recently I've been reading The Cyberiad. It's a bunch of loosely tied together short stories but they're hilarious. It's really more of a space fantasy than science fiction, because the science parts of it are mostly just technobabble. Lots of math jargon is thrown in without being at all relevant and I could see it being distracting or confusing if you don't recognize that it's not supposed to make sense. I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book, but my favorite story so far is about the invention of a computer that writes poetry:

"What, those aren't decent poems?" protested Klapaucius.
"Certainly not! I didn't build a machine to solve ridiculous crossword puzzles! That's hack work, not Great Art! Just give it a topic, any topic, as difficult as you like..."
Klapaucius thought, and thought some more. Finally he nodded and said:
"Very well. Let's have a love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit."
"Love and tensor algebra? Have you taken leave of your senses?" Turl began, but stopped, for his electronic bard was already declaiming:

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane,
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n,
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

Come, every frustum longs to be a cone,
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscript go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

Cancel me not - for what then shall remain?
Abscissas, some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
The product of our scalars is defined!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a squared cos 2 fie!

The computer poet goes on to outdo poets worldwide, cause mass suicides, induce weeping in a force eventually sent to shut it down, and then cause supernovas in nearby stars after it is shipped to a distant galaxy.

It's interesting that the poem manages to rhyme in English even though the story is translated from Polish. I wonder how much the translator messed with it.

(from a Eurogamer article quoting a game developer talking about retailers and downloadable content)
"Actually, you need them to get to the stage where they stock the box. It's not inconceivable that you're going to ask them to give the box away at some point in time. But then, they participate to an extent in the subsequent DLC exploitation." Ah, exploitation. How we've missed you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm writing up an online dating profile. It's actually not that easy to do. I've got it mostly written out but now my problem is that I don't really have any great photos of myself. There are a lot of rules about your online photo (see here) and I don't seem to have many photos of myself that don't have other people with me. I guess I could crop a photo. I wish I had been quicker to pose in front of landmarks and scenery in the past.

(from xkcd sucks redux)
So, to summarize, the brilliant joke here is this: spinning your computer chair is fun, which is an observation that has been noted by anybody to ever sit in one

Friday, November 12, 2010

I got both Katy Perry's albums. I wasn't sure what to expect, I guess something like Britney Spears. And it sort of is. It's similar to Britney or Christina (the songs flip flop between resembling each). It's not high art but I'm enjoying most of it. Sometimes I'm surprised by myself. (The Peacock song is the only one I instantly skip so far. Hummingbird is coming close. How the heck did Peacock get green-lighted for the cd? No rhymes, no melody, no steady beat. It's like a worse version of Over the Moon from Rent.)

I also picked up a bunch of The Cotton Jones Basket Ride, and it's very decent. I think I'd almost like it more if I didn't feel let down that it isn't nearly as compelling as the excellent Page France or The Broadway Hush (all of which share a bunch of the same members).

For Veterans Day yesterday I watched a bunch of Band of Brothers episodes. I'm not sure if I've written about it here before. It's generally a good show, and at some points is very excellent. It suffers from having to stick closely to a true story. There are too many characters and a bunch of the characters are only significant for their contribution in a single episode. Most of them are like the red shirts in star trek, except in trek the red shirts only ever got killed off, they never had extended scenes or were essential in saving the day.

My grandfather flew bomber planes in WWII. He never talked about it and it wasn't apparent if you'd met him because he was neither injured nor traumatized (as far as I know). But he decided to risk his life in a way that I never have, and I'm not sure that I could. I could see myself going through a patriotic phase and instinctively volunteering for something, but as soon as "getting shot at" became a factor, I'd probably talk myself out of it.

(from xkcd sucks redux)
I feel bad for the poor tech support fellows, innocent men trying to get through their day like everybody else, who will now be hounded by endless calls from fat cheesy-fingered xkcd fans, giggling incessantly as they emit a heavy-breathed “Shibboleet” and facetiously demand to speak to an engineer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

At trivia yesterday our team Mud Grass Horse did poorly for some reason. We only did mildly better than Frenemy Engineers (just Rachel and me) did the week before. I think it was because there weren't a lot of sports or history questions for Peter and more people just means more second-guessing, with nothing much gained. I managed to convince Rachel that a photo of an Eckart (sp?) was actually a stork. I'm surprised she knew it was an eckart, I still don't know what that is.

There was a question about what was the musical in which "everything's coming up roses." I could remember that Bettte Midler singing the song and that the movie was named after her daughter's stripper character, but it wasn't until 5 minutes after handing in that round that I remembered it called Gypsy. They don't give you nearly enough time. The questions are super long, so it takes like 15 seconds for him to read, then he waits 2 seconds and repeats the question. Then he waits 5 seconds and moves on to the next question. Even the person writing down the questions has to scramble to write them fast enough. You really only get time to think for the photo and matching rounds that are handed out before the trivia starts. It's like shotgun trivia.

Alan tried to tell me that voting is a civic duty. But it's not. Jury duty and paying taxes are civic duties, and they're both a pain in the ass. The benefits of voting are derrived entirely from the results, which are often impossible to accurately predict when casting a vote. Really, it's a crap shoot. Some people think you'll have a better america if you vote one way, and other people think it'll be better the other way, and everyone's definition of "better" and "america" is different. Everyone voting with their whims just adds to the chaos.

Besides which, I often think the public in general is not qualified to be making decisions about a lot of things. Since the invention of tv we've got the public voting largely according to which candidate looks more appealing. People are also too easily swayed by name recognition, 15 second commercials, and catchy slogans. Rachel likes to call me conservative, but I'm not. I think that the conservative arguments are generally quicker to try to appeal to the emotional and mildly-intelligent. "You can't spend your way out of a recession!" It sounds reasonable at first, but really, that's the only thing you can try to do. You certainly can't save your way out of a recession.

So lets be clear: I always vote the correct way. Voting such that you agree with me is your real civic duty. If I happen to not vote, then you're free to do whatever you want in the voting booth. Going into the booth and casting a vote against mine should be a crime!

One of my former friends posted on facebook "If you didn't vote then we aren't friends, seriously." I honestly don't miss his raving facebook posts. And I don't have any civic requirements like his. In fact, you could shirk your taxes and I wouldn't mind at all. (I still have to file my dc taxes from last year. They're way late now.)

(from a Citigroup messageboard)
Tercel: Take a look at KBLB...they are going to mass manufacture synthetic spider silk. It'll be ultra-lightweight and 5 times the strength of steel.
cptnwillard: spam
Tercel: Not at all.
Tercel: Bumped for topic
cptnwillard: How is your post related to Citigroup?
cptnwillard: This is spam.
cptnwillard: Go away.
Tercel: Because KBLB is a penny stock also, except it has some value right now. Lol.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's the middle of the night and somehow got stuck watching this tv show called Property Virgins, it's about people buying their first home. (No, I am not shopping for a house.) I honestly think that realtors are the scum of the earth, and the lady who hosts this show is no exception. Everything about her is fake, from her smile to her tan, and I wouldn't trust anything she says.

Why even use a realtor? I guess they might have access to more listings, but there should be some other service to get around that. A good database and we'll make that entire industry obsolete. Really the realtor just tries to sell you on aspects of a house that you don't care about, convince you to ignore aspects you are concerned about and then does some questionable double-dealing when you're bidding on the house. Bidding through a realtor is like playing poker from the couch in another room, with an intermediary walking back and forth telling you what's going on. They tell you to trust them, but there's no attorney-client privilege or doctor-patient confidentiality. They're salesmen. It's like confiding in a used car salesman with your budget and concerns, and expecting him to keep your best interests in mind.

I should add that to my online dating profile when I sent one up. I don't have a lot of strict requirements, but no smokers, no druggies, no realtors.

(part of an email from a girl I knew in jr high)
Sarah R: I looked at all the old yearbooks the other day with my husband. He remembers your older sister from high school. Looking back I'm sort of mad. In eighth grade Matt Luther and I got voted most likely to eat free, and they took our picture with us standing around a garbage can. Like we eat trash?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I've ordered a bunch of button-up shirts. I wear t-shirts pretty much every day, but lately I've noticed that I'm the only adult who does. Every other guy wears polo shirts or button up shirts daily. Rachel said it was okay because my t-shirts have personality, and Kate said I'm just a casual person. I like being casual. I remember that TV show though, "what not to wear" and they were always criticizing people for dressing like teenagers. And I have an awkward enough time trying to get a date as it is. So I'm growing up. For now anyway. I'm also getting a nicer jacket because my ski jackets don't really work with a button shirt. I'm hesitant about upgrading my shoes though. Formal shoes are so uncomfortable. I'm going to have to find some kind of nice-sneaker compromise there.

(from King of the Hill, the school board director talking to the principal after Bobby protests the vending machines)
Karl, I wish I didn't just see what I saw here. But I did see it. And more importantly, I was seen seeing it.