Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

With just over 6 hours left of 2011, I thought I'd go back and look at the year we have just finished. A year comprised of many ups and downs, both globally and locally, but one in which we've hopefully ended up better than we started.

Internationally, 2011 was a year of great change, possibly the greatest since the early 90s and the fall of the USSR. The "Arab Spring" as people called it, started in Tunisia and spread across north Africa and the middle east, rocking entrenched dictatorships. Along with Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were successful in overthrowing their dictators. With mostly peaceful protests in Egypt, and 6 months of full on civil war in Libya. And the fighting is still going on in other places, like Syria and Yemen. Will the new order be more friendly to the US? Only time will tell. I can only hope that the pro-democracy movements don't get hijacked by the Islamism sharia law supporters.

On the other side of the world, the pacific and eastern Asia saw extreme natural disasters. Flooding in Thailand, earthquakes in Japan. The death toll was large, and the secondary effects (such as rising prices for tech produced in Asia) still hasn't fully fallen out.

Closer to home, politics began heating up. In response to the tea party movement (the far right), a new movement has arisen. The Occupy movement. Occupy Wallstreet is where is started, but the protests spread across the country, targeting wealthy corporations. Granted, the movement doesn't seem to have much in the way of demands other than, we're unhappy that you have so much money and we don't.

Additionally, Washington politics grew more strained as the year went on. In the 2010 midterm elections, the GOP took control of the House and nearly the Senate. Since then we seem to have jumped from crisis to crisis, including several near government shut downs, and each party tries to blame it on the other in preparation for the larger 2012 presidential election. Overall the Democrats have won though, with Obama's ratings going up significantly, at least in the second half of the year.

The GOP primary race also got kicked off, with a string of widely followed televised debates. Mitt Romney, the assumed forerunner, maintained a steady support in the mid 20s, while others rose and fell. Pawlenty and Bachmann in early summer, Rick Perry in August, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and now there are even a few stirrings for Rick Santorum. Throughout, Gary Johnson was left out of nearly all debates and polls, and finally gave up and switched over to the Libertarian Party. Ron Paul of course was around the entire time, support steadily growing, but still too small to matter.

In a much less depressing area, tech progressed hugely in 2011. The iPad 2 was released early in the year, and the first Android tablets as well. Near summer Android finally had a decent on in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but with no marketing and a string of legal attacks by Apple, it never took off. Amazon went a different route, with a more inexpensive tablet, the Kindle Fire. It didn't seek to compete with the iPad, and has done quite well. Finally more recently, things like the Asus Transformer Prime bring the best of tablets and laptops together. Terribly expensive though, I doubt the price will let it be a huge hit.

Smart phones saw little significant change over the year. Lots of refinement, of course. Faster processors, more memory, better screens. Android 4.0 and iOS 5 can out, bringing improvements to the software side as well. No major breakthroughs though. Even the new iPhone was just an incremental upgrade. Windows Phone 7 did get some nifty improvements, and while nearly everyone who uses it enjoys it, it's got so little market share that expanding in the face of iOS and Android will be almost impossible. Nokia near the end of 2011 finally began releasing WP7 phones though, so 2012 will be the last chance Microsoft's platform has.

Down then to the personal level. Both Spring and Fall semesters were good for me academically. No grades under a B, in fact. I also replaced the F and D+ I'd gotten during the terrible fall of '10 with and A and A, pushing the overall GPA up quite a bit. Non-academically I had a good pretty decent year, though it certainly was better during summer and fall. I stayed at Purdue over the summer, working for ITaP, and teaching myself several web design languages on the side. I'm also dating someone at the moment, which is quite unusual for me, so wish me luck.

This post has gotten quite a bit longer than I originally was anticipating, so I think I'll wrap it up. I hope you all had a good year, and I'm looking forward to 2012. Happy new years!


Feed your addiction.

Via Reddit

Thursday, December 29, 2011

That Poor Jet ...

As I posted a while back, when I'm really bored, I have fun messing with the people that have destroyed Omegle and Chatroulette (ie the people who use it for cybersex). Well a friend sent me this picture a few days ago, and every time I see it, I crack up all over again.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I've been reading about the internet domain host GoDaddy over the past few days. They offocially came in out support of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), and then over the past week, have lost over 70,000 domains, as customers boycotted them. This isn't surprising to me, because SOPA is one of the dumbest pieces of legislation that I've seen in a long time.

Now lest you misunderstand me, I'm not refering to the idea of stopping online piracy. The goal is laudable. What I have a problem with is how they are going about it. It's like hitting a fly with an atomic bomb. To put it in terms everyone can understand: If SOPA passes, then Youtube and Facebook both get shut down the next day, their owners go to prison for hosting copyright infringing material.

Reason being, SOPA basically makes two changes. First, it increases the scope of copyright infringement (meaning if you sing a cover of your favorite song and post it on youtube, that's copyright infringement), and second, it makes site owners responsible for everything on their site. Meaning along with Justin Beiber, the owners of Google (which owns youtube), get put in federal prison because of his covers.

Think how many videos on are Youtube. The site already has automatic scanning of the sound in videos, which matches it against songs. If you upload a copyrighted song, it can tell and will silence it automatically. But if you are singing the song yourself, no software can tell. Every video will have to be looked at, and every single video on youtube already will have to be checked. It's almost impossible, and certainly would be impractical for a completely free site.

There will be so much colateral damage that most people are going to assume that this is all exageration. Which it's not. The worst part is that it's pointless. Putting full songs and music videos on youtube is already being killed off by the automatic scans. The big thing this will stop are things like the above, covers and over uses that somehow violate copyright. But how do those hurt the companies?

The real piracy issue that is hurting the music and movie industy is the actual downloading of songs and movies. The sad part is that 90+% of it is being done in one of three ways, and could be stopped with almost no colatoral damange.

Torrents, Filehosts, and Private Networks. Those are the three ways which combined costitute almost all online piracy. The Limewire network used to be among them, but was quite successfully shut down. Now it's those three. Private networks are hard to get at, and not worth the trouble. Torrents most people know about, it's a peer to peer technology that lets people share directly with other people. Filehosts (Rapidshare, Fileserve, Megaupload) are sites that exist solely to host movies, TV shows, porn, etc.

Torrents and Filehosts could be taken down, and with that, suddenly you've killed the majority of all online piracy. There's no collatoral damange, because both torrents and Filehosts exist only for piracy, unlike youtube which has a legitimate function. However, there are a lot of forces working behind the scenes that don't want to stop piracy. By pushing legislators into doing something this extreme, they make the anti-piracy side seem extremist and pro-censorship, and turn the public against them. And congress has fallen for it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On my primary Hotmail account, I am signed up for very few subscription lists. Dominos's coupon list, because I do love Dominos pizza. Gary Johnson's news list, because I'm following his campaign. And finally,'s mailing list. is a website where people can start petitions, for or against something they've noticed. The idea being that most problems are local ones that the greater community doesn't know about. It's a way to spread the message.

Now, I rarely end up signing them. There are a lot of wishy washy liberal petitions, as well as the occasional theocratic ban evolution sort of thing. But I do find ones that I think are worth signing, such as a petition against stores opening at midnight on Black Friday. Granted, my reasons for signing that one didn't have anything to do with the reasons of the man who started it. He was an employee of Target who didn't want to have to go into work at midnight. And that's understandable, but not something which really impacted me. My reason for signing was that by opening at midnight, more people would be out shopping, which means longer lines. To get something I'd have to give up my entire Thanksgiving, instead of just getting up super early the next day.

Well today I got another one that I decided was worth signing. It reminded me of an episode Law and Order, in which a child was put in a tight bag and then pushed around and beaten, to simulate childbirth. They ended up killing the child and got charged with murder. The defense said that it was a normal therapeutic procedure. Everyone else said, you put the kid in a bag and kicked him to death .. you're going to jail. Seemed to me to be a silly episode because of how black and white it was, who would really do that? Well I owe the show an apology, because I guess it's not that unrealistic.

Basically in Kentucky a mom found out that her 9 year old autistic son has been put in a tight bag and left in a hallway alone as punishment, for talking in class and the like. Hasn't been kicked and beaten the way it was in the Law and Order episode, but being placed in a tight bag and left alone is still pretty terrible. See the full story at the link below. Petition

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I haven't been active on here since coming home for break, and while I'd like to say that's because I was just too busy, that wouldn't be true at all. In fact I've been doing a whole lot of nothing, and it's been glorious. Relaxation is a beautiful thing coming off a hard fought end to the semester.

Today (obviously) is Christmas, it's my first Christmas as an atheist, and it felt quite strange. I ended up going to church with my family out of sentiment, but felt like an outsider. Which makes sense I guess. It certainly wasn't the relaxing experience it used to be. But that's life I guess.

In better news, gifts were successful on both sides. I got several really cool things, including a brother pig t-shirt that my epic graphic designer friend made for me using the iron on shirt stickers.

I also got the limited edition of The Art of Building Worlds, number 400 something. AWESOME book, hardcover with real signed prints as well.

I did have a screwup in my own gifts to people. Two of my friends are now dating, and so I got them a pair of shirts. For her, a shirt that said, I Beat My Boyfriend at Video Games, and then for him, I Let My Girlfriend Beat Me At Video Games. Funny right? They thought so. But then we looked at the sizes. Turns out I flipped them. The XL was a S, and the S was an XL. Oops.

The extended family came in wonderfully as well, I got just over a hundred bucks in cash from the extended family, grandmas and aunts and the like, which went right back out to pay for my $140 extra charge on the cell phone bill for extra texts ....

Here's hoping your own Christmas was as fun. Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Final Week - Finals

Well hell week is done. Thermo, DiffyQ, Soils, Pavement ... all finals and all unpleasant. But all finally finished.

I woke up early Monday to take the 8am Thermo exam, and did well. I got a 74%, which when added up gives me an A in the class. Pretty excited about that. Then I had a couple days off, and on Wednesday night, I took DiffyQ. I holed up in the Math Library for a good 7 hours leading up to the exam, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Then back home and right to bed, because I had the soils exam early Thursday morning. That one I'm also feeling pretty good about. I actually finished it, which is saying a lot for that class. It's not terrible material, it's just that the professor doesn't understand the concept of time, and her exams are always too long. But maybe she took our feedback into account, since I was able to finish the final.

I had the rest of Thursday to study for pavement. It was an open-book open-note test, and I went all out, I printed out every single packet of notes we'd had for the entire semester. And it's a good thing I did. Most pavement design problems require tables and charts. In other classes, those would be provided. But when he said open-book, open-note, he meant that he wasn't providing anything. So, good thing I the notes and tables myself. With it all, I'm pretty sure I got an A or B. Without, it would have been something like a 10%.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Know You're in College When ...

Back before Facebook overhauled the groups function, I found one called You Know You're In College When.... I was quite amused by the list, so I joined the group. I was going through and cleaning up my groups recently, and saw that said group was about to be archived and removed. So I figured I should grab the list before is disappears, and share it with you all.

1. High school started before 8am, but now anything before noon is considered “early."

2. You have more beer than food in your fridge.

3. Weekends start on Thursday. No... Wednesday.

4. 6am is when you go to sleep, not when you wake up.

5. You know many different ways to cook ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese.

6. The health center gives out free condoms, and people take them… just in case.

7. Instead of falling asleep in class, you stay in bed.

8. You know how late McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Qdoba, etc. are open.

9. You think it’s the weekend on a Wednesday and you don’t know what month it is.

10. You can't remember the last time you washed your car.

11. Your underwear/sock supply dictates your laundry schedule.

12. You check Facebook/Myspace more than once a day.

13. You get drunk dialed on any night of the week.

14. You wash dishes in the bathroom sink.

15. You’ve fallen off a loft bed.

16. You talk about beer pong like it’s a sport.

17. Finding random people in your house is perfectly normal, and you even sympathize with them... sometimes when you wake up you have no idea where you are.

18. Your primary news sources are the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

19. You open a beer at 10 am and your roommate asks you if there’s more.

20. The standard of meals per day falls to two, sometimes just one.

21. Your trash is overflowing and your bank account isn’t.

22. You go to Target or WalMart more than 3 times a week.

23. You wear the same jeans for 13 days without washing them.

24. Your breakfast consists of a coke or cereal bar on the way to class... anything with caffeine will do.

25. Quarters are like gold.

26. Your idea of feeding the poor is buying yourself some ramen noodles.

27. You live in a house with three couches, none of which match.

28. You try to study but seem to procrastinate by eating, going to study breaks, talking to people, etc...

29. You talk to your roommate on instant messenger when you’re both home.

30. You ask people what YOU did last night.

31. Certain things are now deemed "facebook worthy." When friends take pictures of you, you wonder how long it will take them to post them.

32. You’ve seen a hit and run involving a bicyclist/pedestrian.

33. You see people you know you’ve met but can never remember their names or how you know them.

34. You sleep more in class than in your room

35. Your idea of a square meal is a box of Pop-Tarts.

36. You've traveled with bags of dirty clothes.

37. You go home to do your laundry because you're too poor to pay the $2... or too lazy to go to a change machine.

38. You pay $100 for a book you don't read once, return it four months later, and get $7.

39. More than 20% of your household furnishings are made from milk crates.

40. You recognize the meat in the dorm soup as yesterday's meatloaf, and thus decide to eat a nice bowl of cereal - a safe bet for any meal.

41. You use words like "thus" (see #40).

42. You throw out bowls and plates because you don't feel like washing them.

43. Your beer pong table is nicer than all your other tables.

44. It takes preparation... and 3 people... to take out your garbage.

45. Going to the library is a social event.

46. You wear flip flops in the shower your freshman year... you know why.

47. You start joining clubs because of the free food.

48. Visits home depend on how much money you have for gas.

49. You skip one class to write a paper for another.

50. You have no idea where your tuition money is going... technology fees? I think not.

51. Bicycles don't seem as lame as they did in high school.

52. You stay up late to finish homework then sleep through the class in which it was due.

53. Girls: You've balanced your foot on a shampoo bottle to shave.

54. Your backpack is giving you scoliosis.

55. You've written a check for 45 cents or stopped to get $2.00 of gas.

56. Your bill in the bookstore will be comparable to tuition.

57. Going to the mailbox becomes an ego booster/breaker.

58. Most of your T.A.s are foreign...what's the deal?

59. You never realized so many people are smarter than you.

60. You never realized so many people are more dumb (aka "dumber") than you.

61. Western Europe could be wiped out by a terrible plague and you'd never know, but you can recite the last episode of your favorite show verbatim.

62. Care packages rank right up there with birthdays.

63. You craft ways to make any game into a drinking/stripping game.

64. You meet the type of people you thought only existed in movies.

65. Printers break down only when you desperately need them.

66. Anything can be cooked in a microwave.

67. Two words: bike cops.

68. You have Safe Ride programmed into your phone.

69. Old school Nintendo... and guitar hero... are pretty much the best things ever.

70. Going to the grocery at midnight is completely normal.

71. You call restaurants that deliver more than you call your own family.

72. You've paid bills over $5... in coins.

73. You can't imagine life without your computer/cell phone/ ipod.

74. Hoodies and sweatpants become the norm - jeans are considered "dressy" at certain occasions... like school.

75. A canceled class is almost as exciting as Christmas.

76. Taking a nap in the library is perfectly acceptable.

77. Your professors speak English... as a second language.

78. Your teachers swear in class and no one cares.

79. Candles in your dorm room are considered contraband, but cigarettes are ok.

80. You take condiment packets and napkins from fast food restaurants - hey, they're free.

81. Betta fish are like your family.

82. You bring back socks from the laundry room that may or may not be yours.

83. You know what people carrying suspiciously heavy backpacks after dark are doing...

84. The elevators take forever but you'll wait 10 minutes just so you don't have to climb stairs.

85. Your roommate asks you to check the weather on your computer when they're standing 5 feet away from the door.

86. Showers become more of an issue.

87. You press the automatic door opener instead of simply grabbing the handle when you approach a door.

88. Christmas lights seem to be acceptable all year round.

89. Class size doubles on exam days.

90. You donate plasma even though you know it's pretty sketchy.

91. You are no longer thankful that fire alarms are here to protect you.

92. You've bought Christmas presents from the book store and charged it to your student account so your parents pay for the gifts because you're too broke.

93. You begin to include ketchup on your list of acceptable vegetables.

94. You stay on campus for hours in between classes when it's too cold to walk home.

95. People have to help you kick the vending machine just so you can get your 50 cent bag of chips.

96. There's always a "question kid" in at least one of your classes, and you really wish someone would just tell him/her to shut the hell up.

97. You steal dishes from the cafeteria so you don't have to wash your own.

98. Laundry is an all-day event.

99. You no longer find it uncool to take naps. In fact, you quite enjoy them.

100. It's illegal to drink in the dorms yet they sell an assortment of shot glasses, beer mugs, tankards, etc. in the bookstore.

101. You find your list of acceptable napping places expanding daily to increasingly uncomfortable locations.

102. You fill out credit card applications for the free food.

103. You've eaten cereal out of a cup... with a fork.

104. Dressing up for Halloween becomes cool again.

105. You know at least one person who has dropped his/her cell phone into a toilet.

106. You hang multiple shirts on the same hanger to save space/money.

107. You become increasingly annoyed with the "old" people in class - props to them for going back to college but they generally ask really, really annoying questions.

108. You admire people's alcohol bottle shrines.

109. You set your clock 5-10 minutes ahead so you can potentially make it to class on time.

110. You eventually realize that setting your clock ahead makes no difference to you and you're still late.

111. You check (or something of the like) before choosing your class schedule.

112. You text faster than you type.

113. You only find out a class is cancelled after you get there and sit for about ten minutes.

114. You actually start using coupons, especially those school coupon books.

115. You open canned food and eat it... out of the can.

116. You run out of black ink and, instead of buying a new ink cartridge, decide blue is a nice substitute... adds a little flair.

117. You have numbers in your phone with labels like “Sketchy Steve” and “Alcohol Guy.”

118. The food in your fridge may or may not be older than your little brother.

119. The words "google" and "wikipedia" have become verbs. And you use them... quite often.

120. The names Morgan, Jim, Jack, and Jose could aptly describe either who you were with last night or what you had to drink.

121. You fill your empty two-liter bottles with pop from the school cafeteria.

122. You have a drinking buddy who can hold the most intellectual, deep conversations when drunk. Unfortunately, neither he/she nor you can remember most of it later.

123. Your floor has been dirty to the point that you've had to brush your feet off before putting on socks or getting into bed.

124. You're all for the free samples at grocery stores.

125. Energy drinks become your new best friends.

126. You realize that taking summer classes pretty much negates the fun connotation of "summer."

127. You know exactly how much food will fit into a mini-fridge.

128. You realize that said mini-fridge does NOT freeze ice cream.

129. You've made a sandwich on or eaten food off of your $1500 laptop.

130. Your scar stories involve alcohol and/or hearing what happened to you from your more sober friends.

131. It is completely acceptable... and encouraged... to party on weeknights. What would life be without Wasted Wednesdays or Thirsty Thursdays?

132. Most of your textbooks remain unopened (possibly still shrink-wrapped) the entire semester.

133. Waking up in the morning and driving somewhere to get a friend's (or your) car becomes a norm.

134. The local supermarket sells ping pong balls... right next to solo red cups. Coincidence?

135. You go home for winter/summer break and suddenly your life back at college seems so exciting...

136. You smell the clear liquid in your water bottle before you drink it... just to make sure it's actually water.

137. You discover new bruises on your body and wonder where the hell they came from.

138. You find alternate routes to class in order to avoid annoying organization booths and/or the preacher on campus.

139. Two (more) words: Power Hour.

140. Lunchables are cool again.

141. People make snow penises instead of snowmen.

142. You know at least five people who've burned popcorn.

143. You wonder why dorms stop serving breakfast at 11am. What gives?

144. You attend insanely boring seminars because your professor offers extra credit. Hmm, maybe there will even be cookies or something...

145. You can't sit in the front row because of all the 'non-traditional' students.

146. You finish reading this and wonder how you can procrastinate next.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingrich-Huntsman Lincoln-Style Debate

Last night Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman had a Lincoln style debate, meaning a two person debate in which much more time is given for each answer. Gingrich is an outspoken fan of this style of debating and this is his second of the campaign (first being with Herman Cain). The talk was mostly about economics and foreign policy, and was actually quite interesting. Both candidates are very knowledgeable about foreign policy, so just for an update on the world situation it's worth watching. But since Gingrich is a front runner in the GOP primaries, it's worth watching also just to gain insight on a man who may be our next president.


Friday, December 9, 2011

New Data Files Table

For those of you who have been following this blog for a long time, you might remember that over the summer I mentioned several times that I'm building a new website. I didn't want to share it until it was entirely done, but I'm just too excited about one new page to keep it entirely under wraps. A few of you have seen it already, (and given good advice), and it's now finished, visually and code wise.

The page I'm speaking of is a data table. Very similar code wise to the one I did over the summer, I've added some things that I'd learned since then as well as improved the efficiency of the javascript coding. The main difference though is the visual style. That part is what took me a good 2 months to settle down with, because I'm NOT an artist.

Inspired by the new Hotmail actually, I'm going for a white and light blue theme. One thing I was worried about initially was having that gradient go the full length of the options panel, but I really like it now that it's there. It distinguishes itself from the table itself while still maintaining visual continuity.

Now you might notice there aren't many files yes, and that's true. Only about a third of thing things that'll be there are there, and all the options in the options panel will be represented. It's just a matter of inserting the data into the SQL database though, I haven't gotten around to it. Besides adding more data, the table is finished.

Let me be clear, the site it self is not done, just this single page. You can feel free to look around the rest of it, but it's only about 60% complete. Next page on the list is the class schedule page. I want to stay with the white and light blue theme that I've got going on in the class files page, instead of just the block colors I have right now. So without further adieu, check it out.

Data Table

Any thoughts? Hate it, love it? Leave me a comment.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thailand Government Kidnaps US Citizen

I read an article last night about an American citizen who visited Thailand, and got arrested because he had earlier posted on this blog a book that had been banned in Thailand. He posted it when he was in the US, and he was a US citizen. Yet he was arrested an convicted under anti-defamation laws. And the US doesn't seem to be doing anything about it.

This is clearly a violation of free speech. Other counties might not protect that freedom, but the US does. The person in question is a US citizen, and the action in question happened while in the US. Where are the threats from our Government to Thailand? Where are the seal teams? By the very definition of the word, a US citizen has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by another nation, and we aren't doing a thing about it.

I say kidnap rather than arrested because to be arrested, you must be a legitimate police force stopping violations of laws. There is no US law protecting Thailand's king from US citizens saying bad things about him. And Thailand's laws don't apply when they violate the US constitution, at least when it comes to a US citizen. So says me anyway. Obviously Obama doesn't feel the same. He'd rather no offend Thailand than protect the Constitutional rights of US citizens.

I guess kidnapping US citizens isn't in the same category as bombing a building.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mozilla Asks Users For Help

If you’ve been paying attention to my writing, you know that I’m a Firefox fan. I have been for years. While that loyalty was strained over the long, long time it took for Firefox 4 to finally be released, since then I feel that I’ve been handsomely rewarded for staying with my browser.

Over the past summer and fall, we’ve seen 4 new releases, moving the version number up to 8. While I personally think that more appropriate numbers would have been 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4, the name doesn’t change the fact that Firefox has been quickly and steadily improving for the past year, and it shows. It might be too little too late though.

Read my full article at

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Food Finders, Drunken Bowling, and a Hospital

All of this happened yesterday, but I'm going to write it as if writing as it happened.

Saturday Morning, 4:30 am:

I'm quite tired, but it's okay, I get to sleep in tomorrow until mid afternoon. At 4 I've got people arriving for a reunion of sorts. My best friend, his g/f, couple other friends from high school, plus some friends we had made at Purdue in earlier years who'd moved away, and then friends here who were still here. We're all going to meet up and go bowling (for the under 21ers), then head over to Harry's Chocolate Shop.

I'll get a good 10 hours sleep, be up by 2, have a couple hours to get ready. Just gotta check Facebook and such (and this blog post) before bed, and .... well crap. Been a minute or so since I started that sentence. I did check Facebook, and it's a good thing I did, because I forgot I have other plans tomorrow as well, before the reunion. I told some other friends I'd go volunteering with them at Food Finders from 1-4, and they want to meet up for lunch first at 11:45am. I then totally forgot about it, until I read a reminder message on Facebook. That'll give me maybe 5 or 6 hours sleep .... I can do this. Bed!

Saturday Afternoon, 12:05 pm:

Well getting up wasn't fun, but eh, I'm a college student, I have to get up early every day, so I'm used to it. (Early being before 2pm). This is the first time I've eaten at Earhart dining court in a long while. I'd forgotten that popcorn chicken is one of the buffet salad toppings ... oh yes.

Saturday Afternoon, 5:00 pm:

With the right group of people, volunteering can be awesome. We go done a lot more then they expected, because we got organized and just got shit done. We packaged 700 boxes with a meal each for a family, then made laundry detergent bottles until the time ended. Throw in a sexual innuendo every few sentences for 3 hours, and a fun time was had by all.

We then went over to Target and I got some IBC root beer as well as new margarine and milk. Mac n Cheese is going to happen tomorrow. I just called my other friends to see when we're meeting up, and we'll be meeting up at the bowling alley in an hour at 6pm. They're already pregaming ...

Saturday Evening, 6:20 pm:

I just got to the bowling alley (gotta love these smartphones to send updates), and we're bowling now. Most of them are a little drunk already, and so we're having a pretty amazing time, all doing cool throws. After this one game, we're going to head over to Harry's. The guy who was supposed to bowl with us who was under 21 didn't even show up.

Saturday Evening, 8:00 pm:

Well what a fun night this has turned out to be. Let me recap since the last update. We went to Harry's, and then the under 21er called and said he had finished stuff, meet him at the alley? We said okay, and so drank really fast so we could go back. That is when things sort of turned. My one friend I'll call John. He decide to have 8 drinks in the 20 minutes we were there. And this was after pregaming with vodka. In the 5 minutes it took us to walk from Harry's to the bowling alley, he went from tipsy to flailing around and being nonsensical.

We realized that he couldn't bowl, he'd get us all thrown out instantly. I dragged him with the help of another sober guy into a locker room across the hall from the bowling alley, and we just sorta sat on him for 20 minutes. He wasn't calming down, but was getting worse, so his g/f picked him up and threw him over her shoulders (he weighs around 100lbs, straight up) and we carried him to the car, drove to McDonalds. We got him some food which he wouldn't eat, and some gatorate which he drank a little of. He then tried to make out with me in the parking lot until they pulled him off. We were a little worried about someone calling the cops on a public intox charge, so we drove to a different parking lot, much more secluded. He then proceeded to puke his guts out. He's getting worse though, less responsive. He can't feel his legs.

Saturday Evening, 9:30 pm:

We're at the hospital now. He was getting worse. Maybe just needed to sleep it off, but you see all those signs around talking about alcohol poisoning ... so we're in the hospital waiting room.

Saturday Evening, 12:30 pm:

Been 3 hours, but we're finally leaving. The first calmed him down, then gave him fluids through an iv as well as making him throw up more. He's still drunk now, but he's awake and here, mentally, so that's good. Only a few of us still here, but we're all headed home now.

Sunday Afternoon 3:00 pm: (Finally caught up)

I woke up about an hour ago, I just kept sleeping, and it felt nice. Pretty interesting day yesterday. I think today I'll bust out the homework and try to get a head start on the week. I've 3 three things to do, then I'm done with homework for the semester. Dead week here we come.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What A Week

Well it's been an interesting week so far. I spent the first few days getting used to the idea of having my evenings free again, a state of affairs which I haven't seen for over 2 years. It's quite enjoyable, though my bank account is going to start protesting it soon.

The world around us had an interesting week as well. Youtube finally got it's updated theme rolled out to everyone. I had written an article about it last month when I logged in and saw it. Seems I accidentally accessed it early though, or Google decided to revert everyone. 2 and a half weeks later though, it's back and permanent.

In politics, Newt Gingrich has replaced Hermain Cain as the alternative to Romney. I predicted this after watching him in the first few debates this fall, and actually was a bit confused that he wasn't a front runner to begin with. (I hadn't been following last Spring and Summer, when he decided to go on a cruise to Greece and destroy his campaign.) Every time he opened his mouth he seemed like an elder statesman, never attacking people, never getting tripped up. And finally it's paying off, because he's now up in contention with Romney. He's still got quite a mountain to climb though. His organization is still in tatters, he's got very little money, and he hadn't really experienced the full glare of being a front runner. We'll see how he holds up.

In shear intelligence, I personally think that Gingrich is the best on the field. (He writes science fiction books part time). But do I think he should be president, I don't know. He had an affair with his second wife, but he did admit it. And personally I can separate personal and political aspects of a person's character. A person can be an asshole, yet be extremely competent. Granted, that's just looking at him from a conservative perspective.

I'd never vote for him because of his stance on marriage. Earlier this fall he said "I believe that marriage is between a man and woman. It has been for all of recorded history and I think this [gay marriage] is a temporary aberration that will dissipate". Source Granted, Mitt Romney has come out against gay marriage as well, as have nearly all other GOP candidates ... it's just what they do.

Only Huntsman and Johnson are what I consider rational on the subject. And look where they are. Last place, and below last place.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gift Giving Guide For the Holidays

For Christmas and/or birthdays, getting a gift can be difficult. What does the person want, what would they not really care about, how much should I spend. From growing up with extended family that didn't know how to give gifts worth crap, to having friends and trying to figure out the perfect choice, I've come to a few insights that I'd like to share with all of you as we move into the holiday season.

Let me start out on the bottom of the scale. I've heard that no gift is a bad gift, because it's still free. That's horse crap, and here's an example. When I was a child, my parents would buy my clothes; pretty normal for a 7 year old. A had one aunt and uncle who would give me a gift card to Old Navy each Christmas. My mom would use it to buy me clothing, which she would have paid for herself anyway, which left me with nothing. That, is a useless gift. Granted, it's hard to be that bad, but I want to establish a lower plane that we can build from.

There are 5 levels of gifts (independent of price), the above falling at the bottom of 5. Price is independent because it only applies to some of the levels. You can get a top notch gift without spending huge, or spend 1000 bucks and fail. So, that said I'm going to outline each level, with an example of something I've given or gotten.

Level 1:
A gift in this level is something you make yourself. Not bought. It's something you know they'd like, and it's original, since you made it yourself.

Example: A Do Not Disturb door hanging sign I made for two friends one Christmas. They'd gotten together pretty recently, and once they'd decided to go all the way, they went all the way allll the time.

So I found a picture on the internet of two stick figures having sex, attached the words Do Not Disturb, and printed it out. I put a plastic black backing onto it, then laminated the front, and gave it a border it tiny strips of gorilla tape.

Level 2:
You don't have to make something yourself to get a great gift. A level two gift is something you buy, but that the person doesn't know about. IE, not on their Christmas list. Anything asked for will be pleasant, but lack surprise.

Example: I'm a fan of Lord of the Rings. I do like paper posters, but only if they are old and rare. I find paper to be too fragile, so normally I don't buy posters at all. My mom knows this, and found something which I had no idea existed. A map of the world from LOTR, but a cloth tapestry instead of a paper poster. Much more durable, it's still hanging in my room today.

Level 3:
Level 3 is the last of what I'd consider the good levels. If you can't think of something that your intended would enjoy, take a peek at their Christmas list (assuming they have one), and buy something off of it. You know they'll enjoy it, even if it's not a surprise.

Example: Several years back I was getting into "modern" gaming (previously I'd played mostly NES), and I asked for an Xbox 360, which my parents got me for Christmas. I figured it was coming, so opening on Christmas morning wasn't surprising. But it was still great, because it was something I really wanted.

Level 4:
If you have no idea what they'd like, and they don't even have a list, you have a problem. However, you can't really be friends with a person without at least knowing some places they like to eat or shop. Level 4 is gift cards. Not really a physical gift, and an admission that you don't know what to get them. Yet you're still trying.

Note: This is generally above level 5, yet can fall below if you aren't careful. Make SURE they like the place that you give them the gift card to. As discussed in the opening story, gift cards can be completely useless and worse than cash.

Example: My aunt and uncle who used to give me Old Navy gift cards did finally wise up (after being told by my parents). They now get me a Gamestop gift card each Christmas, which is useful to me, since there's always a game I want and can't afford.

Level 5:
The final level, and worst of all gifts, is cash. It's useful, sure, but it's almost an insult. It's me saying to you, I don't know you at ALL, or if I do, I don't care enough to even take the time to go buy a gift, here's some cash instead. The absolute only time this should ever be used is if you really have no idea what places they like for a gift card, because admittedly some gift cards suck. Swallowing your pride is a sacrifice you can make if it means the person at least gets something they can use, instead of a gift card they'll just throw away.

Note: There is some debate about cards (Hallmark cards, etc) with no money. Personally though I think cards are nice, because they show you took the time to go get one and write in a little message. However, cards by themselves are not a gift, so aren't included.

Price is another issue that people sometimes don't understand. This really has nothing to do with the quality of the gift. A $100 gift card to a restaurant I hate is useless to me, while a $20 xbox game I might enjoy. As a very general rule, I normally spend $20 on each of my friends, maybe $30-$40 for my best friends and/or immediate family. Extended family is in the $20 range. However, price takes a back seat to getting a good gift. If I see something that the person doesn't know about but would love, even if it's above or below my range, I'll tend to go for it if I can.

Price depends on how well you know the person, and how much money you have. If you are a poor college student struggling to keep afloat, then don't go buy someone a new computer. If you're a doctor making 6 figures, then sure, buy your best friend a car. It's all relative, and no one's going to look down on you for not buying gifts you can't afford. They say it's the thought that counts, and that's very true. The effort you put in is far more important than the price.

The Home Stretch

I always enjoy these last 3 weeks after thanksgiving break. One regular week, then dead week, and finally finals. Normally labs are canceled or easy, and homework is not as intense. Instead we've just got to study study study. Finals can make or break one's grade, and by the second half of dead week, the prepping gets intense. Still, on average, these 3 weeks have a more relaxed mindset than the weeks immediately before break.

Additionally this is coming off a pretty good end to break, for two reasons. The first is that I bought a TV! A 32" Coby. It's only 720p, I'd have preferred 1080p, but it's not a big deal. It's 60hz instead of the new 120 or 240, but that I'm actually a fan of. I don't like the higher refresh rates, movies look ... weird, I guess. Hard to describe unless you watch one yourself. Hyperreal? And the TV was only $230 from Fry's Electronics. Ironically, it wasn't Black Friday OR Cyber Monday, it was on Saturday during Fry's' after thanksgiving sale.

Second and even better thing is that I had a hot date last night. Hot and nerdy. 8) We grabbed food and then watched Lord of the Rings. Yep, you read right. It, was, epic.

This next week looks to be pretty nice. I'm in between jobs at the moment, hopefully starting a new job at 10 bucks an hour, working for a CIVL professor. But until I start, I've got so much time. Plus lab for soils this week is going to have no take home work. It'll give me time to catch up on some shows. South Park is done for the season (Thanksgiving episode was amazing, go watch it), but Supernatural is still going, as is Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire. I'll leave you with a taste of Walking Dead, a cool video about the special effects.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

This year, retailers decided to do something different. Instead of opening at 5/6 am, most stores opened at midnight. I'm not a fan of this, for several reasons.

It's bad for store employees because they are required to work from Thursday evening through Friday morning. Example being Gamestop, which required employees to work from 10pm Thursday to 10am Friday. 12 hour shift, all night and morning. Not only does it kill their Friday, it kills their Thursday as well, and so Thanksgiving.

It's bad for consumers as well though, because of the increased number of them. More people are going to go to a store at midnight than at 5am in the morning. That means that A, stores won't be able to offer deals as good, and B, it's harder to grab the deals that are offered. Example, Best Buy this year sold a 42" HDTV for 200 dollars. Each store only had 10 though, and when I called the local store on Wednesday evening, I was told that there were already customers lined up outside. That's over 24 hours ahead of time for those of you who don't like math.

I ended up not going at all, because everything I was interested in was selling at midnight instead of 5am. What I'm looking at now are the Cyber Monday sales coming in in a few days.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Halo Anniversary Review

Back when 343 announced it was going to release a new version of Halo CE for it’s 10 year anniversary, I was worried. It’s very difficult to reimagine a game without pissing off it’s old fans, and very easy to screw it up. I must admit for a while I was really against the idea.

Fast forward a few months. We’ve had a few trailers and teasers released, and my suspicion is starting to thaw. The new graphics look really nice. And then comes the day that 343 confirms the rumors that the new graphics engine is built entirely on top of the original code, and at any time in game players can toggle back and forth between old and new. That little bit of news was the last straw and suddenly November 15th couldn’t come fast enough.

Read my full article at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow White's Renaissance

I've been watching ABC's new show Once Upon a Time, and really enjoying it. Basic premise is that the evil queen that Snow White defeated unleashes a crazy powerful curse and transports the entire realm of fairy tales into our own world, into a small town called StoryBrook. Everyone has parallel lives, but doesn't remember anything. Snow White and Prince Charming managed to send out their daughter right before the curse struck, and now 30 years later she returns to StoryBrook as if by chance. The show then is about her trying to free everyone from the curse.

This is the first Snow White remake I've seen in a while. I call it a snow white remake because she's the central fairy tale character, even though the show is going to explore many of them. So I was surprised to see a trailer for a movie coming in 2012 called Snow White and The Huntsmen. From the trailer is looks pretty action-y and dark, so I'm kind of excited to see how it turns out.

Strange coincidence, two Snow White projects at once. But wait, there's more. Guess what I saw last night! ANOTHER snow white movie is coming out in 2012, called Mirror Mirror. So within a year long period, we're going to have a TV show and two separate big budget movies, all centered on Snow White. Go her.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Geeks unite!

I saw this today when youtube surfing. Geeks unite!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Just Lost The Game

Back last Spring during Cinco De Meyo, students in a public school in America (Not Mexico) were sent home for wearing a shirt with an American flag. This raised all sorts of public outcry. Whadya mean I can't wear have a picture of an American flag on my shirt in an American public school? It went to court.

Today, a judge ruled that the school did in fact have the right to sent the students home, based on the idea that the students were in danger because of said shirt. [Washington Post].

The school is basically saying, that if you show patriotism to America in this school, we can't protect you. First, you shouldn't have to be protected. Second, if you do, the school should be doing it's job and protecting you. THIS ISN'T FUCKING MEXICO, IT'S AMERICA.

Sorry, but this just pisses me off utterly, beyond which is just boggles my mind. We've gotten to the point where we have to be so politically correct that we can't wear an American flag because it might offend Mexicans? IN OUR OWN COUNTRY? WTF ...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christianity in Schools

New Heights Middle School, Jefferson, South Carolina. The school brings in a Christian group to speak to the Children to convert them to Christianity.

This is a public school, paid for by money forcibly taken by the government from all citizens, even non-Christian ones. We also have a Constitution that prohibits the government from endorsing one religion. Yet here it is doing just that. The ACLU reposted the video that the Christian group put up originally.

One thing that struck me was a comment in the comments section of the article that the ACLU wrote about the issue.

"I applaud the school for their courage! They are indeed promoting civil rights for there is a direct correlation between the spread of the Gospel and the rise of civil liberty."

Interesting how the ideals of liberty and civilian, non-theocratic government arose in the 1700s with the rise of philosophy and beginnings of universal atheism. Also interesting that the countries with the highest civil liberties are the ones that have the most religious freedom. And another interesting point is that the ones who've been most consistently fighting civil liberties in our own country, from slavery in the 1860s through the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and now into the issues with gay rights ... are Christians.

Just to note of course, not all Christians are homophobic bigots who want to force their morality onto everyone. But if you look at people trying to force morality on others, chances are those people are Christians.

I saw this video yesterday and found it interesting, but not enough to warrant a post about it. But it's on similar topic so I'll go ahead and link it here as well:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The End of Rick Perry's Campaign

Every time Rick Perry opens his mouth, my mind of boggled further at how he could have gotten this far in politics. He's hands down the worst public speaker of a politician I've ever seen. Not to say he's a bad guy; it's just that public speaking is a requirement for the job he wants.

He started out as THE anti-Mitt Romney. The one to really compete. Yet he's had a series of bad debates, which plunged his numbers down into minor candidate status. Yet his donations have held up in the front-runner status. Last night was the first debate in weeks, and his chance to come back, have a good showing, and convince people he's still up there in the running.

And then the debate actually happened ....

He's since said that he isn't ending his campaign, but I feel like this will still mark the beginning of the end. People can forgive one misstep, even one as bad as last night. But not when it's coming off a long series of similar missteps, and instead of showing improvement he's getting worse.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Second DiffyQ Exam in the Style of Henry V

Before an exam I always update my Facebook status with the quote, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends", a line from the Shakespeare play Henry V. Henry uttered the words as he and his men were beginning another battle, breach referring to a break in the defenses he was attacking. I just took my DiffyQ exam, and so this morning I again placed that as my status. This time, I'd like to continue it into a story of the exam itself, in the form of that quote. So I present, My Second DiffyQ Exam in the Style of Henry V

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends", I yelled, and we charged. My troops were trained as if to a polished sword from weeks of drilling, and I was confident my ability to win the day. We swept through the breach and into enemy territory, but things were eerily quiet, and I felt a nagging sensation in my gut. It lasted only a moment before the first arrows swept through the fog from our right, slicing mercilessly into our unprotected flanks. "Damn", I muttered, as we'd trained over and over for a front facing assault, and now things were being thrown at us from the side, completely unexpectedly.

I called out orders and we tried to react, but movement was sluggish as we were still shocked from the first blinding losses. One thing I've learned though is that no matter what, always keep moving. If you get bogged down facing one problem, the rest will close in and you'll never finish off the enemy before time runs out. We kept moving, barely.

Suddenly we ran into their forces, and our training started to pay off. 1, 2, 3 ranks we ploughed through almost easily, my spirits started to rise. The keep was before us, the last large bastion of resistance. And then suddenly the whole world exploded in flames. They'd laid pitch [pitch is oil that is laid on the ground and then lit on fire] all over the inner courtyard! We troops didn't break, but were stalled, spending time trying just to stay alive, all forward progress stopped.

After what felt like forever but was probably only 15 minutes, I ordered a retreat, we skipped past that keep and on to less important areas. Slowly painfully we worked through them, and finally ended up at the keep again. Our losses had been terrible and still the keep resisted us. With timing running dangerously low, I called a general retreat, and with heavy heart we fell back, leaving so much meaningless death.

Will they call it a victory? We leveled most of the place, but couldn't finish the job as time ran out. And we debatably didn't even do a good job on the parts we did complete. It was all the unexpected challenges that kept getting thrown at us that really caused the problems. Nothing in the earlier smaller battles could have prepared us fully. So will they call it a victory? We'll have to wait and see.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Exams, Exams, and More Exams

Exams and more exams. Tomorrow morning I've got my second DiffyQ exam, and I really have to slam it hard. I've studied quite a bit, so I'm feeling okay, but I felt great about the first one and got a 60%. So we'll see. Then Wednesday evening I have my second Soils exam. I'm feeling better about it, but still not Great. I've got tomorrow night to study though.

After Wednesday, it'll be pretty smooth sailing. I'll need to study a little for a thermo exam next week, but besides that it's pretty much done until Thanksgiving break. After Thanksgiving, we've got 2 weeks and then finals. This semester is basically gone already.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Is How I Live Life


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Writer's Block

Sometimes, as I sit,
the words, they just flow.
And why, they all fit,
the muse, only knows.

But some, of the time,
I'll sit, oh so still,
no words, and no rhyme,
nothing, nada zil.

What then, do I do,
when I've-

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why Politics Are Interesting

I read an article today discussing Obama's approval rating, which is starting to rise as unemployment falls. It's helped, the article said, by a very divided GOP field. I asked myself, why do I follow politics so closely, it's not like my knowledge is going to make a difference. What I thought of then was a scene from Star Wars, Episode III.

The scene was near the end, the battle between Mace Windu and Darth Sidious. I've loved that scene ever since I first saw the movie, because I felt like it was crafted to well. What makes it such a powerful scene is because everything, the fate of the galaxy, hinges on it. Mace Windu is the arms master of the entire Jedi order. Yoda might be the most powerful with the force, but Windu is the strongest of combat. He's therefore the only Jedi, the only one, who's skilled and powerful enough to defeat Sidious. And he does, when it's one on one. Without outside interference, he would have won, and the Republic would have survived. That is what makes Anikan's betrayal so significant. His betrayal at that moment, changes the outcome, from defeat to victory for Sidious, and everything else follows. With Windu gone, Sidious gives the order to the clones to begin killing all other Jedi, and Anikan destroys the Jedi temple. Later not even Yoda can defeat Sidious, and retreats, completing Sidious's victory.

Again, the reason I find this scene so compelling is that it leads in two completely different directions, depending on it's outcome. The universe, everything, is doubled at that moment, for both possible outcomes exist. Until the end of the battle at least. And I find real world politics the same way, if not to as high a degree.

Until the end of the race, we have two different outcomes, both of which are equally possible. That means that there is so much more in the world, and entire doubling of everything, looking into the future. It's fascinating, looking and exploring both possible outcomes, and knowing that right now, they both exist equally.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I was talking with a friend about the idea that men are always going to ogle women, that it's a fact of nature. She was upset about that idea, and maintained it was a societal construct, and therefore something that could be changed. She also said it was demeaning to women, and led to things such as higher physical expectations as well as depression among them.

My position has always been, I can appreciate human beauty the same as I can appreciate other forms of beauty, and by looking, I'm not demeaning anyone. I'd be complimented if a woman thought I was handsome enough to look at. However, just because I'd feel complimented doesn't mean others would.

I think it's a question of how do you define harm. Punching someone in the face is definitely harm. Verbal attacks are less definitive. Among children, it's considered a form of bullying. But among adults, it's normally something you just ignore and move on from. And looking at someone has even less of an impact than speaking speaking to them. For ogling someone to really be considered morally wrong, it has to harm them. Where is the harm?

Well my friend observed that in our culture, women are expected to look good. That means that they have to wear makeup, heels; spend lots of time on looking good. And she pointed out, there are numerous cases of suicides as well as eating disorders that could be linked to this expectation, which is linked to mens' desire to look at pretty women.

I feel like this falls apart pretty quickly though. A, women aren't the only ones who spend time trying to look attractive, men do as well. Maybe not as much time, but still quite a bit. B, no one forces women to spend that time. They are choosing to spend it, men don't make them. In fact the ones they are competing with are other women, not men. C, women who have eating disorders have a problem, it's true, but it's no one's fault. Psychological disorders are problems with brain chemistry. Environments might help to bring out the symptoms, but they don't cause the underlying problem.

She did ask me, what about men who are in a relationship. I'd say that that depends on the relationship, because in that case, the moral wrong rises from violation of a contract/commitment. If someone is in a closed relationship, then looking at another person could be violating that, and that would be wrong. But it's wrong because of the prior commitment, not that looking itself.

I don't think that looking at a woman is morally wrong. If a woman takes offense, that's her problem, not mine, because I'm not hurting her by looking.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Resume Update

I applied for an interview with Kittelson & Associates yesterday, and in preparation, updated my resume. One of my co-workers pointed out that previously, it looked like it had been designed in MS Word. It had. He suggested using Adobe InDesign and redoing it from scratch. I think the new version is an improvement. Thoughts?



Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Sorry, Murphy

I must have offended Murphy, because so far today everything has gone wrong.

It was all great yesterday. I spent 9 hours working on homework. I got my math homework done, my math project done, and a good start to my soils homework. I went to bed late, but I set two alarms to wake up at 8am, get to office hours at 8:30 for soils. I'd work through the rest of it there in case I needed help, get it done, then go to math at 10:30, turn in my homework and project. Finally I'd have work from noon to 5pm to do my souls lab report for next week.

Everything went fine up until this morning. First, I slept through both alarms. I woke up at 11ish, instead of 8. Missed the office hours completely, and when I woke up, math was half done. I got dressed and biked over to math class, which is about 10 minutes ride away. Got there at 11:25. (Class ends at 11:45). Then I realized, I didn't have my backpack. I checked my steps back to my bike and it wasn't there. So, I got back on and rode all the way back, made it in just over 5 minutes. Awesome, right? Well, I got to my room, and realized I didn't have my keys. But I had had them when I started the last bike ride. Which meant that they were lying on the ground somewhere between here and there.

I was undecided on what to find, backpack or keys. Since I was at Cary though, and the keys could be anywhere between it and math class, I went for the backpack. Luckily my suitemate was in his room and heard my knocking. He let me in and I grabbed my backpack. I then rode down back towards math class, looking for my keys.

Turns out, they'd slipped out of my pocket right in the middle of a bloody intersection. But, I finally got a break. No one had run over them (or my flashdrive attached is the most sturdy thing imaginable.) Either way they were unharmed. I rode back to math class, got there at 11:40. Turned in my homework at the end of class and got told that it was due at the beginning, but this one time she'd take it. Which is good, because if after all that she didn't and I got a zero on project 1, I may have just quit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm working on a project for DiffyQ right now, that's included in this homework this week. During the class, we have 3 such projects. They consist of opening Matlab and writing programs to solve differential equations. Sounds fine.

The problem is that we haven't done anything with Matlab in 3 years, back in FYE. And this isn't basic Matlab, it's pretty complex stuff. That too would be fine, if they taught us how to do it. But, they don't. At all. It's not even mentioned once in class.

On the website with the assignments, there are a few tutorials. The problem is that they deal with different types of problems that what we have to do. Office hours are the only solution. But, my teacher has two office hours each week. One is in the middle of the day when I'm in class, and the second is from 6-7 pm at night, when I'm at work, which doesn't really help. Damn you School of Mathmatics of Purdue!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Extract of a Sermon from the Church of Murphy

Are you a good son or daughter of the Church of our lord, Murphy? You know that He is always watching, He sees everything and everyone, and His wrath is awesome. Tread carefully, lest ye bring it down upon you.

Murphy is above us, and around us. He is everywhere, and everywhere his influence is felt. Did you slip on a rock today? Or have your car break down? Did something that seemed the random chance happen to go the very worst possible way? Heed his warnings! For you have felt the presence of Murphy Himself. Take heed, and repent. Pray to Him, asking for forgiveness, and for mercy. For Murphy can be merciful if you are truly sincere.

Be grateful! For once, Murphy was not so kind. Back ages ago, when Raptor Jesus walked the Earth and did battle with our Lord, even the slightest of sins would see us cast from Him. He had no choice, for he was fighting for his Life against the evil one. But when Raptor Jesus was finally cast down, and Murphy gained His utter dominion of the Earth, life grew orderly. And those who are loyal are rewarded.

Let us pray.

Hear us, O Murphy, and heed our prayers. Stay far from us, and those we love. But take up our enemies in your close embrace. Deliver us from your touch, until the end of time. Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Longest Nights

The thing I hate most about being sick is the nights. I always have trouble sleeping, mostly from having a clogged up nose. Tonight it's that as well as a really bad case of the chills. I'm under my big blanket, and I'm fully dressed with a jacket on. Plus (and my roommate might kill me when he wakes up sweating), I have the AC turned to full blast on full hot. And I'm still freezing.

In general though, I think the worst thing is actually not the physical problems, but a distinct sense of loneliness. It always happens when I get sick and I'm laying in bed awake. It's dark, everyone else is asleep, and I'm there alone. In that state of mind everything seems exaggerated. I do have very few friends, but they are all great ones. But during this time the only thing I can think about is how few they are, and how far away. I've been on dates here and there, been in a full on relationship. But during these times the only thing I can think about is how empty the bed is, how empty my received texts folder is, the zero calls I've gotten from someone so close I can share everything with them. My family is the greatest ever, my parents are both still married, they are paying for me to go to college. They love each other, and they are always doing things for me. But on these nights I only think about the rough parts. My dad yelling at my mom, my mom holding things in, times when I can see unhappiness peeking out.

These nights are terrible, and I'm glad this one is almost over, even if I am dead tired and feeling like crap. This one did start out better though. One of my best friends pushed me into getting Batman Arkham City, and I played it for a while while texting her back and forth about it, and a good time was had. Eventually she went to bed though, and so here I am.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mood Boosting Music

Browsing through Youtube last night, and found quite a few songs that were all of similar feel. Good mood music? Light electronica, good stuff. Playlist below, enjoy.


Goodbye Gaddafi

Okay, several things here. First, Gaddafi is dead. A lot of people are really looking into this, it seems be was beaten and killed after he was captured, which itself is bad. The ethical position here is that no matter his crimes, he shouldn't be tortured (kicked and punched in his case, there are worse tortures). Yet, my gut feeling is one of "hells yeah".

I've always believed in my more rational moments that no matter what, we don't torture back. Why? Because we're the good guys. That's what makes us different. Yet I can't seem to muster any sympathy for Gaddafi. He had a nasty decades long reign in which be committed a drastic number of crimes and abuses, and unlike Mubarak of Egypt, when the protests finally started, he didn't quit. He fought on and plunged the country into a full civil war, causing the deaths of so many more.

It's difficult for me to care. However, there's another reason that he should have been treated well, and that's not for his sake, but for the sake of the new leaders. They need credibility, they need public opinion. And even though abusing him helped appease the crowd right now, in the long run, treating him humanely would have done more good for their cause.

But they didn't, and it's done. Still, I won't be shedding any tears.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well Shit ....

I got my grade back today for my 3rd exam. Soil mechanics, or in more colorful terms, geotechnical engineering. I got a 68%, which is a D. A high D, but a D nonetheless. The problem with this exam is that I didn't blow off studying. I studied for quite a while, I made up a cheat sheet. And even more frustrating, is that I knew how to do everything. 4 sections, 3 main problems and 1 misc section. I knew all 3 of the big parts, but knew I'd miss a few on the misc true/false questions, and I did.

The big point loss came though, from running out of time. 10 minutes more and that grade would have been an 88 easily, but I ran out of time and didn't finish the last problem. I also realized with 30 seconds left that I made a mistake in the beginning of said last problem. I went back and fixed it, and wrote out what I should have done. I didn't have time to redo all the calculations though, and I wrote that. I got zero partial credit. I find that harsh, but not unfair.

This is really sort of a blow to me, because the past few weeks have been really difficult. I went home for fall break to recharge and came back in a good mood, ready to take on the rest of the semester. And then this happens. And it happens on an exam where there was really nothing I could have done better in preparation. It's the kind of thing that makes me question whether I have what it takes to be an engineer, because this isn't supposed to be on of the hardre classes.

I walked out of class after looking at the graded exam, which was passed back at the beginning. I walked around for a while outside, and then came here. Frankly I want to curl up into a ball and sleep, because sleeping I get to start over with a new life, however temporary the dreams are. But I can't.

So I came to a computer lab, pulled out some engineering paper, and started working ahead on thermo homework. I've got a thermo exam next week, which is going to be rough. I got a 97% on the last one though, my only decent test score this semester. My plan then, is to focus my efforts for the rest of today on thermo. I'm going to study this entire weekend for this exam, and hopefully blow it's head off, because I need to reassure myself that I can.

And if I do fail this next exam, even after these weekend of extra studying and in a class I'm good at ... then I'll reassess whether this is the career choice I really want to be in, and if a change might be necessary.

Damn It's Late

It's 4:30 in the morning, and I have an exam in 6 hours. Yet I am awake. Why? Funny story ....

I was sleeping quite well when suddenly my stomach decided to explode on me. Not sure what happened inside, but it was painful and there may have been the followup to nausea. I've tried to lay back down, but every time my stomach again protests. So I popped open the computer and here I am.

I headed over to Classically Liberal and caught this video. Besides being thought provoking politically, it's also just enjoyable to watch because of how well it's done graphically.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lonely It Stands On the Hillside

Lonely it stands on the hillside, overlooking the bay.
The years untold have been kind as it has watched and waited.
Tall and strapping, it fears nothing, but that was not always the case.
Once it was short and weak, greener than the rawest recruit on the fields of death.
Of its brothers and sisters, none made it through that time, save itself.
Yet make it it did, and so lonely it stands on the hillside, overlooking the bay.

Tall wooden masts flow side to side as it watches, eternally on guard.
A sense of haste, man with fire, guns, war.
The valley changes, the bay grows filled with oars, yet still it stands.
Slowly its comrades fall, fueling an expansion they aren’t even a part of.
Yet somehow it survives; its perfect placement appealing to some quirk of aesthetics.
And all the while, tall wooden masts flow side to side as it watches, eternally on guard.

The years pass as it keeps its stoic watch.
The bay below transforms and transforms anew, each passing year bringing new motion.
Green and trees fight an ever losing battle with buildings and roads, reaching far as the eye can see.
Wood and stone turn to iron, iron turns to glass, and the city turns its eyes to the sky.
Striving ever higher, finally cresting even the great tree itself, far up the hill though it is.
And so the years pass, as it keeps its stoic watch.

Everything ends, in fire, screams, and death.
Mushrooms on the horizon, the people look up and run.
Walls of fire wipe across the earth, buildings crumble, damns break.
The metropolis below is wiped away as if in the blink of an eye.
Yet the tree endures. Tilted sideways from the blasts,
it watches as everything ends, in fire, screams, and death.

Lonely it stands on the hillside, overlooking the bay.
Time scours clean the rivers and the air.
Green slowly creeps down the valley walls,
obscuring the ruins of those foolish enough to think themselves masters of the universe.
Eventually no evidence remains, only green and brown, and scurrying of small feet returns to the valley,
as lonely it stands on the hillside, overlooking the bay.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Love These Things


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Break

I just got back from Fall Break, which was definitely needed. The past 3 weeks burned me out, with 3 exams, lots of labs and homework, and more importantly, the career fair. So, I went home and slept ... quite a bit. I did hang out with some friends back in my hometown though, which was nice. We had a cookout, and then we had lunch at a bar the next day. A bar! I went to a bar. Crazzzzy, I know.

Drove back this morning after getting a hair cut. We had an interesting drive, because there was a merge left sign, saying that the right lane would be ending in a few miles. I merged early, and I got steadily more annoyed as our lane slowed and the right lane kept going fast and passing us. They'd go up until the very end and then get over, slowing down my side. So after a few minutes, I pulled back into the right lane myself. And then I stopped.

Not really stopped entirely; I went the same speed as the car beside me in the left lane. I almost got rear ended, and the truck behind me did honk a bit, until he realized I wasn't moving. It slowed down the number of people merging up at the end, and as a result the left lane started actually moving.

The weird part though, happened at the end. We got to the merge point ... and it didn't merge. There was a traffic truck, on the side of the road, and that was it. Then we all sped back up. Not sure if it was a sadistic joke being played by INDOT, or if we got there right at the end as they were cleaning up. But my actions we based on the idea that there WAS a merge, and I'm glad I stopped the people of the right lane.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Efficiency vs Simplicity

For the Pre-Vet site that I recently finished, I used images because IE doesn't play with rounded corners. But I took the easy method and just made 9 images, one for each color, each image something like 700 by 500 px each. This made for simple coding. but it's terribly inefficient, because of how much bandwidth the images use. It's acceptable to me because simple is more important than efficient, since the person taking over after me has no web experience, and the person after her might not as well (the site being for a club with changing student webmasters).

However, in the future I may need to work with rounded corners on a site where bandwidth is important, and also where the box needs to be resizable. The method I'm thinking of would be a composite. Using an image for the inner and outer corner, and making the inside of the box resizable. Hopefully I can have the browser flip the image so I can use the same pair for all 4 corners.

I've got 4 hours left at work today, so this shall be my goal. Updates to follow.

Edit (3:47 pm): IE as usual sucks. My original goal was to use two images, one for the inner circle, and one for the outer. But IE can't use the transform:rotate css style. There's a special rotate, but when used, it turns all transparent pixels to black, which adds what appears to be a 1px thick black border around the image. So I had to rotate and make 4 copies of each image, which pushes the total image size from 6KB to 24 KB. This still blows 69KB (the previous number) out of the water though.

And the thing is, I could just put in two different CSS files, one for IE, and the other for all the rest. The rest can use border-radius, and so have 0KB. The ultimate!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Firefox 7 Review

This week Mozilla released Firefox 7, touting increases in HTML5 standards compliance as well as reduced system memory requirements. I downloaded it to try it out, and for the most part things are as advertised.

Firefox 7, or as I like to think of it, Firefox 4.3, is the 3rd release since Mozilla began it’s 6 week release schedule. I’m not really a fan of the schedule because of the strain it puts on Enterprise users, but I can see the benefits. One compromise I wish they’d have thought of is a hybrid, releasing .x increments every 6 weeks, and larger full number releases on a longer time table. It would allow businesses to take the slower upgrade path, while still getting updates into the hands of power users quickly. Also it would keep the numbers from getting overly large.

Read my full article at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Happier News

A month ago I was approached by representatives of the Purdue Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, with a request for a new website. We looked at their old one, which was poorly designed, but also just broken, almost completely. From it though, we pulled out what was wanted by the client. I came up with a few designs, and they picked.

The general concept was a large central rectangle with rounded corners, surrounded by circular button links, one for each page. When on said page, the buttons would extend somehow to touch the central container.

Early Concept:

At the beginning I was thinking that the connection would appear on hover, as a different color (back when everything was one main dark teal color). But I didn't like it and I switched over to more of a subtle highlighting effect for hover, as well as a 3D active effect when clicked. To emphasize the pages, I switched to having each one be a different color.

One thing that I did which I don't really like is make extensive use of images for backgrounds. I wanted the website to be cross-browser compatible, and for rounded corners, images are the only way to do that. IE doesn't play nice with rounded corners, at all; no workarounds.

Last night I moved the site over to the PPVMA server, and it's now online. The pages for constitution and opportunities are still empty, because they don't have that information yet, but the site overall is completely finished.


I Call Shenanigans

Just to give you a fair warning, this is going to be a post in which I'm bitching about how something is unfair. In my defense, I think it really IS unfair. However, if you don't care, then move along.

I got my math exam back today. I was expecting a pretty good grade; there were 8 problems, and I figured I'd gotten 7 of them right, and a good bit of the last. I think it's pretty clear from the title that a good grade is not what I received.

Lets look at the one that I figured I didn't get completely. It was a substitution problem, and I knew I didn't have it all done. But I got the first part of it. And that was validated, because the grade wrote "close" by the part I had. Then gave me a 0/3. Nothing, at all, for being close. This is coming after the professor said that she was making it not multiple choice, so that she could give partial credit.

So yes, 0/3. And that leads to the other big problem, which is that the problems were all out of 2 or 3 points, so even if I did something tiny wrong at the end, I'd lose either 33 or 66% of that problem. Number 1, I went through all 8 steps correctly, on the 9th and final step, I forgot a t. Clearly correct in each step above. Because of the error in the last line, I got a 50% on that problem. Next one, there were 6 parts. Find 3 points, and then classify. I found all 3, classified one correctly, and flipped the other two classifications when I wrote them down. From my markings on the graph, it's easy to tell I understood but wrote them down wrong. Even so, and taking away full credit for both ones I flipped, I got 4 of the 6 parts right, so should get 2/3 points, right? Nope, I got 1 point, because each of the parts I got wrong was half a point, and they both rounded up. One problem seven, there were 5 answers to classify true or false, I got 4 of the 5 right. But it was only worth 2 points, so I got 50% on that one. And with the last problem, it was a story problem. I detailed out the drawing, translated it into an equation, a correct one. There was one step at the end which she didn't specify that was needed, which was to replace W with Winitial - 3 gal/min. I Put in W instead of 50 gal, (as it was on the in class review) because I knew it would change. But, she wanted that extra step. And so by not doing that last step, after doing everything correctly, I got a 50% on that one.

All the problems added together were 20 points. Had they each been worth 5 times more, 100 points, and I could lose points percentage wize, I'd have given myself an 80. Because we could only lose points in chucks of 5%, I got a 12/20, or a 60%. I call shenanigans, and I'm considering dropping the class. Right now it will be an incomplete (equivalent to a widthdraw), which won't impact my GPA. I can try to take it again next semester, or possibly over the summer online. This isn't material I will be using for my career, so I couldn't care less if I understand it, I just need the grade. The problem is that even with understanding it, this professor is going to fail me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Been A Long Two Weeks

I'm half done with the first round of midterms this semester. Or done with round one, for the classes that have more than a single midterm. Thermo was last week, and I got a 96% (high was 97). Math was today, and of the 8 problems, I completed solved 7, and half solved the last, so an A is probable.

Tonight are info sessions for companies that are attending the career fair, and tomorrow is the fair itself. We've got over 50 companies this year, which is a small increase from last year. Nothing big, but it's still better than decreasing. Maybe someday we'll get back to the 140 rage we had before the economy crashed in 2008. The career fair ends at 3:30 in the afternoon, but I've got class from 2:30 to 4:30, so I'll be leaving then. Then possibly an interview the day after in the morning. Which means that in 48 hours, the busiest two weeks of the semester will finally be over.

In other news, two great things happened yesterday. One, I watched the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire, which was pretty interesting. Quite a few changes, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. Two, (and even better), I saw that Interstella 5555 has been remastered in HD and is coming out in BluRay. Woo hooo!!

For those poor souls among you who aren't familiar with Interstella 5555, it's basically a CD-long music video turned into a movie, with plot. It's awesome. Here's a taste. But you have to imagine it in HD, as it will be on Oct 4th.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Like The News Facebook Newsfeed?

Facebook launched some major changes to it’s Newsfeed in the past week, in preparation for their upcoming developers conference, and as usual, many people are frustrated. Normally I’m not one of them. I try to embrace the new changes because there’s not much that can be done to change them. This time however, the change really frustrates me. I don’t like Facebook’s algorithms deciding which of my friends are important and which aren’t, I want to see the entire Newsfeed with all status updates.

Read my full article at

Monday, September 19, 2011

One Less Squirrel

I was in a hurry to get to work today; running a couple minutes behind. My bicycle, while the greatest invention since the wheel itself, doesn't move me instantaneously. It still takes a few minutes to get across campus. I was riding pretty fast, and while passing through the engineering mall, I ran over a squirrel.

In my defense, it ran across the sidewalk, I went sideways towards the direction it was coming from, to clear it. It then reversed and went backwards ... right under my rear wheel. I looked back and saw it lying on it's back twitching wildly, and now I am feeling sad for it, yet also thinking, what a dumb squirrel. If you are going to run in front of a bike, at least don't change direction halfway through. Maybe I'm doing the squirrel population a favor, cleaning out it's gene pool.

Though that could be a bad thing for humanity. 200 years from now: Planet of the Squirrels. "That blew it up! Damn, dirty squirrels! They blew it up and then buried it to save for winter.

What have I done!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Geekin' Out Tonight

In the past few days I've found some really awesome geeky songs, and I thought I'd share them.

Star Trek:





And finally: Lots of Nerdy/Geeky All Combined:

And unrelated .... 100th post for the year, woo hoo!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Interesting Homework

For the first time in quite a while, I had a homework assignment that was actually kinda cool. I had to go out and find two pavement problems around campus. Take a picture of each, and classify it. Since I bike around campus regularly, I didn't have to go find any, I just stopped by two places on one of my regular rides.I think the pictures are pretty interesting, so I'm posting them here.

The first is quite obviously a pothole. As cars drive over weak spots in wet pavement, the compression from the weight of the car forces water out, and the water pulls out some asphalt/concrete particles as well. Over time, a hole builds up under the surface where those particles used to be, and eventually it collapses down, forming the pothole.

The second is a longitudinal crack, which is a crack going along the lengthwise direction of the road, not crossing it. This one is actually pretty terrible, it's as wide as an inch in some places. If you also notice, the pavement isn't smooth at all, you can see lots of tiny holes and gaps. It's a pavement that is old and needs to be repaired or replaced, soon.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

This semester isn't going to be a fun one. I'm taking Thermodynamics, which is universally (among Purdue CE students) considered the hardest class in our School. I'm actually working on homework right now, and it's not terrible, yet. But it's time consuming.

The professor is very angry man. He spends a quarter of the class each day ranting about how terrible the English system is (which I agree with 100%), but then gives us homework in it. At one point he threatened to leave and let us learn the material ourselves because people in the back were talking. He's also the only professor I've ever heard say "well, sucks to be you then". The most annoying thing though, is his attitude towards questions.

We got back our first quiz last class, and the average was around 50%. (I got a 13/15, woo hoo!) He gave us a speech about how this is unacceptable, and that is there anything wrong? If you don't understand something, you need to stop me and ask. So later that period, I wasn't sure about an example he was doing, so I asked a question about it. He explained, but then added about 10 seconds worth of yelling at me for not paying attention because he'd already said it once. Sorry, prof, you said ask questions, my bad, I thought you meant it.

He has some redeeming qualities though. He said that we might see him at the Cactus (local bar/club) on thursday nights.

So yeah, been busy with that. And also with DiffyQ. Yes, I said DiffyQ, a class I took a year ago, during that terrible fall semester. I'm retaking it because I got a D+, which isn't passing in the eyes of CIVL.

You might remember that as I got the D+, I failed hydraulics, which I then retook last Spring. I ace'd it the second time, which is because the material itself wasn't the problem. The problem was the professor, one Professor Lynn, who is the worst teacher I've ever had, at Purdue or elsewhere. Exam averages rarely were higher than 50-60%, and many times lower. When I retook it, I had a new professor, and I breezed right through the class; almost an easy A.

The problem with DiffyQ though, is that the reason I did poorly in it wasn't the professor, it was that I had a hard time with the material itself. And the material hasn't changed. I've got a slightly leg up because I remember some of it, but even so I'm already struggling. Gotta say, office hours are a godsend.

With those classes as well as pavement design and a soils lab, not to mention CESAC work, this semester has been extremely busy. Don't be surprised if my entry rate on this blog slows way down.