Wednesday, August 24, 2011

There was an earthquake yesterday afternoon. Lots of west coast jerks on facebook thought it was funny that we got worried over a 5.8 earthquake. "Out here we eat 5.8 earthquakes for breakfast!" Har, har, har, asshole. You must be really popular. The difference is that California buildings are designed to handle earthquakes so you can sit pretty, comforted by your rigid building codes. If I was in the middle of the desert I wouldn't care about any sized earthquake. It's collapsing structures that are the cause for concern, not the possibility of falling and bruising your ass. Dumb ass. If there was a little tornado in California I wonder if the Midwest would say "I eat F1 tornadoes for breakfast! Just go to your basement!"

My apartment building was built in 1926, and is made out of concrete that is older than the freeway that collapsed in Oakland in the 1989 earthquake. (An earthquake which I remember, and it didn't scare me nearly as much as this one because I was at my parents' solidly built house in the CA woods when it happened.) I didn't crawl under my desk, but for 20 seconds I stood in my 4th floor apartment's doorway, listened to the building creak and groan while swaying, and thought "If this keeps up much longer, it is going to collapse and I am going to die." And any of you would have thought the same thing. It was a little traumatizing.

Now I have some deep cracks in the concrete in the hallways of my building. You can see spots where the wall is no longer flat because I guess part of it has moved. The water and gas and everything still works so I suppose its fine as long as there's never another quake, but still I'm not comfortable with it. Large buildings this old should come with a warning in the lease.

"I have studied geology and therefore earthquakes and know that a 5.8 is not the end of the world." My esteem for geologists just plummeted, because you are an idiot. The earthquake started as a subtle tremor and got progressively stronger. During the quake nobody knew how strong it was going to get. And I'm sure you're not qualified to look around and tell how strong an earthquake these different east coast buildings will withstand.

I don't think I've ever been more angry at idiots.

Phil: Joe, it's tall, dark and handsome. Two out of three isn't bad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've been reading A Game of Thrones and am now on it's sequel (can't remember the name). The HBO series does actually cover the entire first book, and does it pretty well. I didn't notice anything really missing except some some minor battles towards the end. So you can probably skip that book if you've watched the whole tv season.

The books have much less sex than HBO, though there's still a little of it and it is occasionally more graphic than most fantasy books. Also there's less of a rivalry between Littlefinger and Varleys the eunuch. The book makes it clear that Varys the eunuch is the sneaky spy master while Littlefinger is just a nobleman who for some reason sits on the king's counsel, while in the tv series the two both seem to have extensive and comparative networks of spies. Finally I think the king's brother is gay in the HBO series but none of the characters are mentioned as being gay in the books. Maybe that'll be made more plain later in the books though.

I like most of the characters and it's an engaging, though slow-paced story. I have two complaints. First, the female villains are all two dimensional pseudo-characters and the female protagonists are only slightly better. I also don't care at all about the woman across the sea or that silly mish-mash barbarian culture. I should have just skipped her chapters. The other thing I don't like is the chapter structure. It seems like the author purposefully ends one chapter just when it's starting to get interesting and then jumps storylines to the least interesting storyline possible. Or maybe he only does this sometimes, but it just seems like every time because it's so incredibly annoying.

Penny: Has Leonard ever dated any regular girls?
Sheldon: Well, I assume that you're not talking about digestive regularity, because I've come to learn that such inquiries are inappropriate.
Penny: No, I mean has he ever dated someone who wasn't a brainiac?
Sheldon: Oh, well there was this one girl who had a PhD in French Literature.
Penny: How is that not a brainiac?
Sheldon: Well, for one thing, she was French. For another, it was literature.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What is the name of the phenomenon of light bending as it travels from one medium to another? Answer: Refraction! There was a physics question at last night's trivia and I was all over it! Though I think Rachel knew the answer too. This makes up for me confusing Ohm's law and Ampere's law a few months ago.

It was a busy July and now it is a busy August. I went to Courtney's wedding in Texas and then Rachel's wedding in Cape Cod, then spent a week in Mississippi doing construction, and then a week in New Orleans relaxing. So, very briefly:

Courtney's wedding was a great time. I was at a ranch near Houston and then out in downtown Austin. I really like the Dickens side of my family and am happy to hang out with all of them. They're just so friendly! Maybe it's a fake southern hospitality thing, but I'll take it! I was originally just going to do a Thursday-Sunday trip but then extended it because Courtney has been living in London for the past few years and I haven't seen her at all. So after the wedding I stayed in Austin with Courtney and Phil, and a bunch of their friends. Staying in a downtown hotel and wandering the downtown Austin bars is almost like being in DC, except everyone there is very laidback and beers are 1/3 the price. Also we have no dueling pianos in DC.

Rachel's wedding was also fun, but more rushed than I would have preferred. I drove up with Puja and Sunjeev, and what was supposed to be a 8 hour drive turned into 12 hours, which is longer than any drive should be. So we arrived Friday night, got lunch and went swimming on Saturday, Rachel's wedding Saturday evening, and then we drove back on Sunday. It was busy. Driving with Puja and Sunjeev was fine (when Puja wasn't checking my alertness by asking me to explain the entire Rent storyline), but I really should have flown. And then I should have taken an extra day or two to relax on the cape. But I got a photo with me and Rachel when she was all decked out, which was all I really wanted, and I bought a drink for Diana, and I discovered that while I can dance just fine to club music while intoxicated, more alcohol will not enable me to hand jive or whatever to oldies songs. And there were a lot of oldies songs at this wedding.

I wish I'd taken more photos at both events. You see dozens of people everywhere taking photos and think it's unnecessary for you to take your own, but then it turns out that nobody wants to share their photos! Everyone is privacy-paranoid with their facebook photos.

The construction at Mississippi wasn't too exciting. I met some nice people, some people I didn't appreciate as much, and had a very stress-free week. Construction each day, and the Hearts card game and ice cream trips each night. It turns out that I really don't enjoy being both sweaty and covered with dirt/sawdust. The combination of the two is 10x worse than either being dirty or sweaty on its own. I guess that much like Jesus, my contribution to the world will not be by following a parent into carpentry. I am good at hearts though, especially when playing conservatively I can pretty consistently get the fewest points.

New Orleans was a lot more fun that I thought it would be. Alcohol is dirt cheap, everyone is eager to give you a to-go cup, and you can just walk around or even drive around while drinking. Also pretty much every meal had something surprisingly delicious. I'm not normally a food person but this was all great stuff! I had some fried oysters and actually enjoyed oysters for the first time. (Raw oysters are inedible.) On the downside, the weather is routinely hot and humid like the very worst days of DC summer, and it only gets hotter at night for some reason.

I'm going to be working hard this biweek. I'm hoping to meet up with Dave in NYC at the end of the month.

And I'm posting from my office so no quotes this time.