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Lee's Journal

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June '03 --> July '03
Apr '03 --> May '03
Mar '03 --> Mar '03
May '02 --> Feb '03

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5-31-03

I recently heard, "Islamic democracy is an oxymoron." That doesn't sound too far off the mark. How might that effect our presence in Iraq? Comments?

Last night I went out with Adam Segal and his wife Kim. On a whim they came down from Boston for a trip to NYC. I was the first one they thought of calling :-). We slipped into a fondue restaurant/bar around 29th & 3rd... soaked in some music, cheese, and good conversation. Then went down to the Lower East Side to see The Porno Jim Show. Got a slice of real NYC pizza (which was much better than the crappy pizza I had at Sunny's in Hackettstown last week), chatted some more and called it a night. Friday evening traffic made it take 3 hrs to get into the city, which confounded the start of our evening. Although I despise cell phones, I might have to get one for situations such as that one.

 Pay phone service is becoming very sparse... because there's no money in it for phone companies anymore. I had trouble finding a pay phone at the Holland Tunnel entrance in NJ: I stopped at two gas stations. I found 6 pay phones distributed all over the first station... all of them used a private pay-phone company that wouldn't accept my phone card. The next station had 3 pay phones with the same issue as the first station. The next station had 2 Verizon phones... only 1 worked, but that was enough. It took my card and I made my call. Then when I got in the city, I was a little lost (turns out, I went to 143 West 30th but I should have gone to 143 EAST 30th...). I looked for a phone and the first 3 payphones I tried didn't have a dial-tone! The days of pay-phones seem numbered. So, what's the minimum cell phone service I can get?....

I've started my summer school in full. A statistics course and Educational Psychology. Summer school is intense!

Course Title Hours Meets Location Professor Notes
EDU 284 A EDUC PSYCH 3.00 Days: MTR ( 05-27-2003 To 06-26-2003 )
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:40 PM
MAIN M1  Janet Black   
MAT 151 A STATISTICS 3.00 Days: T R ( 05-27-2003 To 08-07-2003 )
Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
MAIN 225  Lisa Troy   

That's 4 hrs, 40 min of class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yup, I'm back in school...

Oh, by the way, I'm now using my sister's monitor. It's a 14" Multiscan 100ES... smaller than my old monitor (which is now sadly partially blocking the entrance to my bedroom) but it's clear.... Anyone want a sick monitor?

5-28-03

I'm chasing my shadow again with my teaching stuff...

I started the summer session at WCCC yesterday. Educational Psychology and Biology. I figured that Ed Psych would be a good primer for the real thing and ... heck, I've never had a college level biology class so I should round myself out. The Bio immediately lost my interest... Kingdoms, flagellums and endoplasmic reticulum*... boring! And the teacher seemed "moderate". So I think I'm going to switch to Statistics... another something that I've never taken. Since I just aced College Algebra without too much panic, I know I can do well in it and it feels more relevant than amebas (But then that's just me.  Everyone has to pick their route in life...).

The teacher in the Educational Psych class, Mrs. Black knows her stuff. In one class I got an excellent feel. I'm worried that it'll be a hard class, especially since it's 2hrs and 40 minutes, 3 days a week for 5 weeks! Intense! Remember, I -need- an "A" or I won't qualify to get into nuffum in the fall. She told me that CCM has a brand spanking new Alternate Route teaching program that I might be able to get into. So I scrambled and made some calls today.... and left messages on two answering machines. So here I sit, waiting for a call-back.

* Hey, how come "reticulum" doesn't spell-check in FrontPage? It's in -my- everyday vocabulary!

5-27-03

I've added a Flying page to the site. It's bare bones right now but I'll be adding pix and stuff. Heck, I should have a photo of the Zagi right here... it's on my camera upstairs in my lah-bore-a-tory, but It's late.

5-23-03

I saw The Matrix Reloaded on Wednesday. If you didn't get enough of the Matrix from the first movie, then this movie is for you.... really. Same stunts, same fights, same sets (same red chair), same look, same feel. Sure, it adds to the storyline, but not nearly enough for it to be worth it. It disappointed me in a similar way that the the new Heineken/Matrix sellout/commercial does.

Now, if you had figured out how to hack your favorite video game, change your stats, kill the bots with a hack, see through objects, violate the physics of the game, hit the reset button when you're losing, etc... you wouldn't concern yourself with all the mundane things that apparently concerned Neo. I had been really looking forward to seeing Neo hack the system, oh well.

I loved going to the movies with Tara and Ross. And I liked exercising my philosophy muscle on a big-screen event. But Matrix Reloaded gets a disappointed thumbs-down from me.

More Comments: Several of the effects were obviously completely CGI. There were a couple jitters in the film that looked like editing mistakes; maybe the theater's copy of the film had been damaged? The tractor-trailer fight was cool, but Morpheus bent the laws of physics so much that I was beginning to think that nothing could unseat him. If you lived 2000 meters underground, I'd think that oxygen might be an expensive commodity and you wouldn't try to light an area the size of Madison Square Garden with torches.

Well, at least they'll have to build a a new set for their hovercraft because the Nebuchadnezzar got blowed up in TMR.

Enough about that.

5-22-03

Back in April, my friend Maura was on the cover of the Boston Globe's Calendar section :-). They had a big spread on the cosplay con in Boston.

     

5-21-03

My monitor is all screwed up. It's got this pale purple pallor to it. I called NEC and I probably need a new one... My sister has one she's not using, I can probably buy it off of her. Ouch, my eyes hurt looking at this bad screen.

5-20-03

I sent this to a bunch of my programmer-type friends recently

It's the algorithm, stupid.

If you've ever taken a computer programming course, you know what a binary tree is.... and dreaded implementing it.

I present to you what looks like the obituary to binary trees:
(and check out the link, the paper is very readable)

Skip Lists vs B-Trees (added: 8-May-2003)
http://www.enhyper.com/content/skiplist.pdf
Skip lists are a relatively new algorithm introduced in 1987 by William Pugh. Their simplicity and performance makes them an attractive alternative to the well known Btree algorithms. Testing reveals a dramatic speed advantage for skip lists when compared to B-trees. In addition to the basic speed advantage of the algorithm, skip lists also show an additional speed advantage for large data sets.

If this article doesn't impress you, then float it to a programmer friend of yours and you'll likely put a smile on his face (and another tool in his toolchest)

Happy Day,
lee

----and now your random quote----
My friend Katherine W was looking for comments on a user manual that she was writing. She sent it out to one co-worker and asked for comments back a couple days later. When returning it, he said quite confidently, "Oh yes, I read the whole thing.. And it looks just fine." Then she pointed out the several spots where it read, "When you read this, come see me and I'll give you 5 dollars."

Here is a local copy of Skiplist.pdf

5-18-03

At dinner with my sister and parents last night, I told my sister that when Julia exerts herself and becomes winded, I can hear phlegm forming in her throat. I thought that Julia might have asthma.

Last week, I had gone out to the playground with Julia; she went up and down the slide several times and started breathing hard. After a couple more trips up the ladder, I started hearing phlegm in her breath and she started wheezing. I could also see that her breathing was becoming labored. I switched us over to the swings to decrease her breathing and she was fine in another few minutes.

Well, I told Melissa about this and she got really mad at me (as she usually does), saying that the doctor had already checked her out and it wasn't anything but allergies. I couldn't talk to her anymore about it because of her ruffled feathers. Of course, we all know (well, everyone except Melissa) that asthma -is- allergies. Also that some of the main symptoms of asthma is the wheezing itself. I hope that Melissa will "figure out" that it's asthma and start carrying an emergency inhaler for her soon. In the mean time, there isn't much to be done for Julia... if she starts wheezing, then decrease her activity level. Julia could outgrow the asthma... let's hope that happens!

5-14-03

Subbed for a 6th grade teacher at the middle school. Phew, 6th graders are like buzzing bees compared to high school students! And here I come along with a "Sub" necklace around my neck (we have to wear them so other teachers know I'm supposed to be there). It might as well be a big wet sugary lollypop.

Psych final done. Aced. I'm still irked that money was paid for me to take that class.

Math final done. Aced. I'm a little puzzled; It appears that the teacher gave us 27 points of extra credit on the exam, in addition to the final being pretty much the practice test verbatim. I spoke to him and I think it's part of a bid to get rehired at a good rate for the summer. Unhappy school politics. And just think, I'm clamoring to get into that pot.

I still haven't picked my classes for the summer term. To know what classes I should take, I should know what major I want for my masters, which is related to exactly what I want to teach, to my certification, to my new career. Ugh. I'm going to see a school advisor tomorrow.

5-9-03

Subbed for a guy at Hackettstown High today (he'll remain unnamed). It was disappointing because in all three classes that I taught, the kids for the most part hadn't been given any good assignments in the longest time. Since I couldn't pry the kids off the video games, (especially not for the bad video tapes that had been planned for the period) I turned the class into a game redesign class. The first class really got into it. The second class had this defeated feel to it. I couldn't get them into anything. And the last class...   [unfinished. talk about:  rolling chair, poor equipment, no assignments, gripe session]

 

5-8-03

Took my Psych exam tonight. It had questions like:

Which of the following is not a characteristic of a gang?

a. Initiation rites
b. distinctive colors and symbols
c. common territories rather than ownership of specific territories
d. feuds with one or more rival gangs

Ugh. Well, at least it's over with and I can get my A.

I'm teaching tomorrow. Drafting class at the high school.

The teacher gave an extra credit paper, "Write two pages about your educational and career goals". I couldn't fill 2 paragraphs. That's a bad sign, isn't it? A brain the size of a planet, and I'm reduced to this.

5-6-03

Exams are coming up this and next week.

5-4-03

TJIC has set up his own domain for Technical Video Rental. :-) 

So where are all those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that Colin Powell was talking about in front of the U.N. on February 6, 2003. He had recordings and confessions and photos with circles and arrows (and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining...). They haven't found a single bit. Did Colin lie? Did the U.S. Secretary of State fabricate an entire presentation in front of the U.N. and international television? Maybe everything was trucked to another enemy country... maybe it was all smoke and mirrors. Jeez, the real world is more tense and exciting than the TV show 24; that's a hard act to follow.

4-29-03

It's all a matter of personal responsibility. I was watching a talk show on women using guns. The Joe Walsh show, I think. The guests and discussion went well. As they all sparred, it became obvious that the argument against legally having personal guns was that people can't be trusted to be responsible. The pro- argument was mostly that the world is a dangerous place so we have to defend ourselves..... against those people that don't use guns responsibly. The topic came up about children shooting each other in America. They didn't talk directly about it but, by their nature, children's level of responsibility generally isn't high enough to allow them to have guns. For a few minutes, this felt like a closed issue in my mind... Adults can have guns because they're responsible, children can't. And then, after all of this reasonably intelligent debate, the anti-gun woman said (in her heated, angry, black sista, head-bobbin', Jerry Springer way). "If I had a gun and I was angry at you, I might shoot you!"

Wow, she shouldn't have a gun. Ever. Her whole gun control stance suddenly boiled down to the fact that she has impulse control issues and assumes (maybe rightly, maybe not) that lots of other people have these same issues. She wants the government to protect her from herself. She refuses (or is perhaps unable) to take personal responsibility for her being.

Maybe I should carry a gun to protect myself from people like her.

4-24-03

Garry, the guy that prompted that $3k bet showed his true colors when I tried upping the bet. Of course, he's a kook. It turns out that one core aspect of his theory can be boiled down to, "As long as you drive your vehicle downhill, your engine can be greater than 100% efficient." Well yea......  but then you're stuck at the bottom of a hill. Why did I even put energy into having a discussion with him? A lot of other people had similar discussions with him, ending with Subject: lines like "Earth calling Garry . . . Re: Overunity, Back EMF, and Garry Stanley" dropping out several days after I did. To look at the bright side, my bullshit detector started beeping before anyone else's on the list. You can find the discussion on the power-assist list, starting around message 10,651.

Trav mentioned The Personal Identity Game in his journal. It happily reminded me of college. What with my affinity for D&D's psionics and such, it's no surprise that I survived with my wily psychological reductionism.

I recently finished listening to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I think I'd enjoy writing a doctoral thesis on this work. This is an important book. If I ever get around to it, I -will- write something about this on my Media page.

I've been flying the Zagi. I've been crashing the Zagi. Oo baby have I been crashing the Zagi. I already started oogling a more powerful motor. But to do it right is to get a $180 brushless motor and controller setup. Jeesh, I can get a whole other plane for that. And I don't WANT a whole other plane. I just want to fly! I think I'll just learn how to fly it as it is. Heck, with the dramatic crashes I've been having (some due to not having enough power.. hint hint. get the brushless motor!) I don't know how long the plane will actually survive anyway. I still haven't found my digital camera charger so no pictures yet.. It's possible that Julia hid it but it's been like 3 months so it's time to buy a new charger.

Flying this thing is frenetic and fun. But I wish it were more stable. It's got a huge wing, no weight, and only barely enough power so it tends to flitter about uncontrollably. I'd love to give the controls to a more experienced flying-wing pilot and have them tell me what keeps going wrong. But I haven't found anyone at the club with such experience. So I'm going to teach myself to fly.

I'm 1/2 glad that the plane is so rugged and crashworthy. But at the same time, as Bob at the club put it, something like, "The more crashworthy a plane is, the less air-worthy it is." He's got a point.

No, I like crashing. It offers catharsis at this point in my life.

I'm subbing tomorrow: high school biology. Wish me luck.

4-19-03

Last night I got involved in this perpetual motion machine discussion on power-assist@yahoogroups. I offered up a wager of $3000 to anyone that could show me an "overunity" device. It's fun putting up money like this. I hope someone takes me up on the wager!

4-18-03

I was watching/listening to MTV and saw a couple ads for Madonna's American Life CD. They said that the whole disc was available on MTV.com. So I went there and sure enough, it's all there. I thought to myself how I'd like to hear the whole CD without having to click on each track... and how I'd like to listen to it upstairs, not next to my computer, so I went to Kazaa and fetched one copy of each song of the album. I found that most of the tracks I fetched had been planted by the record company. One track was mislabeled (it just happened to be the title track, American Life), a couple tracks had a 5 second loop of American Life over and over, and a couple tracks were.... well they certainly weren't what I was looking for. It was 5 minutes of dead air preceded by Madonna saying just one thing at the very beginning. She says "What the fuck do you think you're doing?". So I did what anyone else would do in my situation. Alt-Tab to Kazaa. Click Search. Click the first song in the list. Drag the cursor to the bottom of the list. Shift, Click. I'll have 200 album tracks in an hour or so. I'll tell you shortly how many tracks are bogus. The thing that confuses me about the record company's effort is that if I could just stream (and capture) the whole album from MTV.com, why are they bothering? The tracks on MTV have promos in it... IE Madonna breaking in saying, "Hi, this is Madonna. I hope you're enjoying my new album, American Life". So, are there non-promo interlaced cuts out there?   Eh, whatever. The battle involving record companies, artists, and peer-to-peer file sharing is fraught with crappiness. I of course focus most of my ire on the record company monopoly. But not to worry, it's obvious that the internet is tearing down their foundation, a monopoly on radio broadcast station playlists. Artists will continue to make money performing live while record companies will fall into the hole they crawled out of.

As a side note, I heard recently (and this was confirmed from a couple angles) about how the business of artists suing record companies is really hopping. The companies have a habit of (surprise surprise) violating contracts by underpaying their artists, even when the artist does well for them. Of course the majority of (starving) artists don't have the money and wherewithal to take the company to court, so they just suck it up and go back to their day job. That's the thing that pisses me off the most the situation: repeated institutionalized, unrepentant, unprosecuted fraud.

7pm Ok, it's a couple hours later. I think I've got most of the tracks. Oo, that was so hard (not).  I'm digging the sounds. Another trick from the record company is some sort of Kazaa hack. Many of the downloads start and then the bandwidth is reduced to almost nil. The idea is that my PC is just sitting around waiting for the download forever. So I upped the number of download sessions from 4 to 10. All of these little tricks are so...... is "juvenile" the word? But then, I -am- stealing music...

I was listening to the tracks on MTV.com with the promos stuck in... Madonna came on over her song and asked me "what the fu-[bleep] do you think you're doing?" What's with this? MTV asked me to listen to this song and streamed it to me, and Madonna is swearing at me for my trouble. Maybe it was an editing mistake; they got a whole bunch of blurbs from Madonna during the session and just dropped them all onto the MTV streaming songs, forgetting what was actually in the blurb. Or maybe not.

8:20pm OK, it's another hour later and I'm sifting through my tracks. I find myself mad at Madonna.. I've had to delete about 100 tracks that are either just 5 second loops or "What the fuck" tracks. Of course I got all the tracks I wanted and way more. I just pointed Winamp at my download directory... 700+ tracks of my favs downloaded in the last week. Play away.

4-16-03

I'm volunteering to help the Panther Valley Property Owners Association with their web site and communications in general. Should be fun.

You should try TVTonic, it's pretty good. TVTonic is the product I worked on at my last computer job. Think of it as the next step after Tivo... First there was the TV, then VCR, then Tivo, then TVTonic. It downloads large (10-100 megabyte) video files into it's cache on spec, so when you turn it on (it runs in Internet Explorer), it always has something ready for you. When you merge TV and computers, you can do a lot more than just watch, but this is a good super-short description. You need high speed internet, Windows and 5-10 gig free to use it. They've got a 2 month free trial and they won't spam you or anything dumb.

Something is messed up that when I have to pay $270 to have someone else do my taxes (right before my eyes) and I think I'm getting a bargain. In the short-term sense, yes it -is- a bargain. My H & R Block lady found me several deductions and loopholes in a 1 1/2 hr sitting that I couldn't have found in 10 hours of research (and then another 5 hours of filling out forms). But why are taxes so hard to do? The states and feds obviously do our taxes for us... that's how they can send us a refund check for $41.16 instead of the expected $32.14. So if they do our taxes for us, why do I have to pay someone almost $300 to do them, and someone else at the IRS, NJ Dept of Revenue, and NY Dept of Revenue... My taxes get done twice! That's almost $600 in work being done, for no tangible benefit!

And this is only slightly related but I have to say that when George Dubbya sent every American taxpayer a check for $300 two years ago, I got so friggin angry at him! He was obviously trying to buy us with our own money. Why doesn't he just double our taxes and then give us a 50% discount? I would like to know exactly how much it cost the government to mail out those 150 million checks. Those costs should have come out of Dubbya's own pocket.

4-14-03

After more than 10 years of exposure to them, I feel that I've almost groked in fullness how phenomenal Penn and Teller are. Of course the doc at the other end of that link is just one tiny piece of the puzzle, but well representational.

Oh and someone remind me to mail my taxes off by tomorrow, ok?

I heard about yet another dry promise that the federal government will put some control on spam. So I wrote to my senators and reps about it again. S 563, The Computer Owners' Bill of Rights has pretty strong language against spam. And of course I encourage you to write a letter to your senators and rep. I can't get a permanent link to the bill.. So go to the Senate website, click on "Legislation and Records" and type "spam" into the "Or by Keyword" search.

4-13-03

It flew. It crashed. It bounced. All is good. I can't wait to fly again! And everyone at the club is -very- nice. After another flyer saw my crash and non-damage he said, "That would have completely destroyed a balsa plane." Yea, but it isn't. :-)

After flying, I went to my cousin Bart and my new cousin Rickie's wedding reception. Really a great time. :-))

Oo. Taxes. I almost forgot.

4-12-03

Kazaa and a cable modem are a good combination. :-)

I went to the RAMAC show at the Ledgewood mall today, met and gret.. er greet the folks and their very pretty planes. The group is a little nerdy, but hey, what group of fanatics of -any- pastime aren't? I'm probably going to get to fly tomorrow! Hoot!

4-10-03

I'm playing hooky from school tonight. That psych class is ... well, if you ain't got nothin' nice to say, don't say nothin' at all.

I'm all happy about my new cable modem that arrived today. So I moved the computer downstairs into my bedroom, near a cable TV hookup. (when my parents arrive in a few weeks, I'll have a wireless ethernet thingie to connect their computer upstairs). So now I'm sitting on a card-table chair with the monitor teetering on the edge of my dresser and I've got no speakers. What's the use of a superfly net connection if you can't HEAR the music you're stealing off Kazaa? Ooo wait, my old monitor has built-in speakers that I've never used! I just hooked them up and they're nothing compared to my Cambridge Soundworks.. but I think the base unit is buried in storage. I'm playing my .mp3s through them now...

A couple friends have asked me, "What's up?" in email. I referred them here, to my journal. I felt a little bad replying to them with an "RTFM" letter. But I've got to say that about 60% of the reason I'm writing this is so that friends can keep up with my goings-on. I highly encourage you to use my journal as a stepping stone! Leverage it! Don't ask me that painfully general question, "Hey Lee, long time no chat. What are you up to?" You hate it when people ask you the question. It's like they're asking, "In 500-1000 words, summarize the important events in your life during the last 3 months. Pay particular concern to how these events relate to my relationship with you." Instead, you could ask, "Lee, you sound so frustrated with those style sheet things. Why do you bother?" Or, "So how was that reception? Your description only started to get into it." Or, "Cheese Weasel Day? You're so weird!" Or, "So where are pictures of that plane, huh?"

Getting the cable modem installed and working feels really good. I've needed a personal win for a while. I installed it. It worked. Win. :-)

I haven't said much about the war in Iraq in my journal. If the first-hand interview that I'm watching on CNN is to be believed, then the Iraqi people are very happy that we're doing what we're doing. A reporter and translator are talking to five guys along a highway in Iraq and they're explaining how removing Saddam Hussein is a good thing. Now I'm looking at an image of a highway, the same highway; the right shoulder is filled with people walking toward the camera. The line goes back all the way to the horizon. I estimate that the camera is looking at about 5,000 people. The newscaster says that they are ex-Iraqi soldiers that were released from the city of Kiffri (spelling?) in northeast Iraq. They are all walking, without any possessions or uniforms south toward... toward someplace better than where they were, presumably.

Noble as this endeavor may or may not be, I'm bothered by the fact that not a single illicit chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon has been discovered in Iraq.

4-8-03

Cascading Style Sheets have me all in a bunch again. It seems that Microsoft FrontPage writes really crappy, non-standard HTML. In order for my Netscape users to see the pretty style sheets, I've got to use a DOCTYPE specification. But when I use it, it screws up a lot of the little details on my page... like now color bars go in front of photos instead of behind.. Pain in the neck formatting crap. It'll get resolved as we go along. Sorry for the inconvenience (to me and you).

4-7-03

My battery charger arrived from Atlanta Hobby, though it's been snowing all day so I won't be flying anytime too soon. I thought winter was over! Cliff at Atlanta Hobby is still mostly OK in my book even though he didn't tell me that the charger shipment was going to be delayed by 2 weeks b/c he didn't have any in stock.

Oh, and for all you lucky ladies out there, yes, I'm available. Wink wink, nudge nudge!       Yea whatever.

4-6-03

11am: I woke up so nicely too... My parents called. I said "hello" and the first word out of my mother's voice was a cold disapproving, "Did I wake you up?" "No." I get that EVERY time they call before noon.

After the call, I went up and put my new Scott Eggert CD into the intercom's CD player. Three seconds in, I thought how this wasn't just music to passively listen to while going about my daily thing. I hit Stop then Eject and... nothing happened. The CD player had eaten my new CD! GRRRR! After a few minutes of fiddling with the mechanism, I went to the circuit breaker and power cycled the intercom. Thankfully, the CD came out.

I will NOT let this effect my day.

3pm: I went to Tara and Ross' NYC wedding reception. They are having three... one each in NY, Dallas and Boston. The wedding itself was in Ireland at Castle Leslie! Her dad told me that he got the idea from Paul McCartney's grand wedding. :-)

From the reception invitation:

Love is many things--marriage, commitment, chocolate, rice krispies treats, trust, smores, friendship, and brownies. When Tara Abrams married Ross Jacobs, they got all of that and more. Now we want to share some of the chocolate!

I really liked the style of the reception. It was a party at a hipster upper-east-side NYC bar. And yes, there were rice crispy treats, smores and all manner of brownies! At the end, some of us went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant a few blocks away. So Tara's wedding experience had the best in austerity & permanence -and- a close connection to the people.

My day finished much better than how it started. :-)

4-5-03

A day in the life:

8:30-noon- I babysat Julia. Except for food breaks, we played straight through the morning! I pulled her around the house on a blanket, we played with toys in her room including a Dora LeapPad... she's still getting the hang of it but starting to enjoy it... I loved playing with it, we told stories to each other with Dora  colorforms, watched a couple minutes of Sesame Street and learned how to be a monster, I showed her how to play her flute (Melissa was happy at this.. she kept thinking you had to hum into it like a kazoo), we rode her horses around the house.

noon-2:30- Talked to my sister about her Forensics class, the war in Iraq. Her class was chatting about how terribly slow the war was going. She pointed out to them that it had been a "war" for just two weeks. This is a lightning blitz! In '91, the US did 100 days of air attacks before walking away. Now we're on the ground... you think 2 weeks is a long time?!?!

2:30-4:15- Got lunch, oogled over the cable modem I was getting ready to buy at Radio Shack. Then realized that Radio Shack sells Comcast cable modem service and I have Cablevision. Ixnay on the ablecay-odemay. Talked shop with the Radio Shack guys, all the while hoping to get to talk to the cute associate I spoke to last week. She had given me her business card even, but she had a customer in front of her and the phone in her ear the whole time I was there.

4:15-7:30- Went home. Considered how I've been waiting 2 1/2 freaking weeks for my battery charger order from Atlanta Hobby and 1 1/2 weeks for my wireless ethernet setup. Considered the Radio Shack guy's suggestion of going to The Wiz and picking up a Cablevision cable modem setup today.... The Wiz which is closing it's doors forever (again) in a week or so due to bankruptcy... I read their web site which had those profound words, "all sales final" and ordered cable modem service from Cablevision over the internet instead (Hurray!). Called Cablevision to try and figure out if we want to upgrade, dump, or keep their service comparing it to DirectTV; I got this really nasty rep on the phone. She pissed me off so much that I hung up on her after she put me on hold. I SHOULD have gotten her name and gone to her supervisor but it felt pretty good slamming the phone down. I'm pretty sure that we've been double paying for our cable boxes for the last 5 years. Called up MBNA and told them to never send us another frigging credit card application again. Our paper spam problem is almost as bad as my email spam problem (30/day+)! Tried to make the perfect omelet for dinner; made a mediocre omelet for dinner. Moped around the house and watched the last 20 minutes of The Fifth Element on HBO.

7:30- Struck out for a WNTI music concert at Centenary College, starting time, 7:30. I went into the wrong building and wandered through a dorm for about 10 minutes. It brought back a thick fog of fond memories that I could barely make it through. The feel of the building, especially the all-wood doors, brought me fondly back to Smith and Maura. I finally found the concert and listened in for a few minutes. Standard happy-folk fare. Singer-songwriter banter, wires tangled on the stage, those light and speaker stands, an audience that laughed in the right places, the fourth wall in it's place. Don't get me wrong, it was probably a really good show but I realized immediately that I wasn't in the mood for it.

7:50- Struck out for Scott Eggert at Myhelan Cultural Arts Center, starting time 8:00. I walked in at 8:45 :-(. He was in the middle of his concert when I walked in. It all started out a little karmic.. as I approached the front door, I could see that he was just finishing a piece, so I could walk right in and ... well not sit because all the seats were full! A totally full house at around 50 folks. He spoke for a few minutes and then played this amazing slice of the universe. Let me explain: He pulled out an Indian keyboard that's given it's breath similar to an accordion. I've seen these a couple times before and they can make quite a nice sound. Well, he started by playing and holding just two notes. With the accordion action, the chord had sort of a heart-beat feel to it. And then... I don't even know when he started... maybe right at the start, maybe after a few minutes... he started to make this sound... it was   DAMN, I can't describe it! Ok, now if you've ever heard Tuvan throat music sung gently, in person, then you might know what I'm talking about. If not, well, let me try to explain. And I've seen the (kickass) movie, Genghis Blues but hearing it in person was a world away from just seeing a movie even! Ok, to describe it, start with that nifty flutter you hear in authentic yodeling, now crank it up 2 octaves (yes, -2- octaves), now it starts making a noise kind of like a fly near your ear, but not buzzing up and down, but the notes jump around in that purely impossible way a supra-alto-soprano yodeler's voice might. With me so far? Ok, now, put a baritone human voice in way below it, resonating with sympathetic overtones to the super-high buzz and changing when the super high notes change. I'm not explaining this well at all, am I?

Let me instead try to tell you what it was like. First off, I got so lost in the song, I honestly can't tell you if the song was 5 minutes or 15 minutes long. Honestly. Next, one of my first reactions to the music was to grab the molding of the doorframe behind me because I -knew- that there was a real chance of me falling over if I did one of those sleepy long-blinks that turn into sleep. You know the kind. Like when you're really tired but have to stay up for something; so you crazily think to yourself that it wouldn't be a bad idea if you just rested your eyes for 3 seconds during a blink. And then you suddenly realize that you're head almost fell into your book or your car almost swerved into a tree. Of course, you instantly realize that "slow-blink" was a stupid idea but just 30 seconds later you're thinking it might be a good idea again. Ok, well his song sent my fully awake mind straight into this mode. If I hadn't been prepared for this, it really would have freaked me out. But as I knew exactly where I was, wow. I hung on for most of the piece.

After intermission, he introduced his Navajo (? I'm pretty sure he said Navajo) drum circle to us. After a song, and at his urging, I got up and danced. There was just two of us dancing and not much room for any more. So they stopped after the next song and rearranged the chairs so there'd be room for us to dance around the circle. There were about 20 people dancing around! Memories of my long-ago trip to a mid-western ... (Navajo?) Indian reservation came back. I remembered sadly agreeing with my dad that we didn't "get" the dances. They all seemed the same. Sure, the drumming and individual foot-work was a tiny bit different in each, and it was interesting to see that the dancers could apparently take their subtle cues from the drums. We guessed that because the dancers always seemed to be doing the exact same non-descript dance, but all the dances and drumming were still pretty much the same. We -wanted- to get something out of it but just couldn't find a foothold. So Scott and another gentleman talked about the dancing. He said (and I'm going to miss something from his original) something like, "I was asked why all the dances look pretty much the same, we pretty much just go around and around. So I asked her about how the sun comes up every day in the same boring way." He said it better. It suddenly struck me that most of the dancing isn't for show but for meditation. This is similar to how Ewe dance moves force a kind of breath control upon the dancer, putting him into a hyperventilation-induced trance state. The Indian dance isn't designed for the viewers, it's for the participants. They likely use only slight variations in the dance steps because the participant can easily change and feel the difference without having to break concentration. So, thinking back to when I was 14 on an Indian reservation, why the heck were we just watching? I can now see why outsiders are reluctantly welcomed to Pow Wows. But I really wish that the tourists like me and my dad all those years ago were given some explanation as to what the heck we are watching. A pamphlet or something. I know that my dad lost a bit of respect for their culture on that day, and I can't blame him. I can sort of understand that there is a feeling of cultural pride that doesn't want to give away all the inside secrets, but come on, there's also the matter of cultural survival. It took me (a pretty progressive guy) over 15 years to figure it out and appreciate the good in it. Most other Americans sadly, but justifiably just write it off.

I wish I could say that we danced until morning, as one drum member suggested we do. At his mention, I shouted hopefully from the audience, "We can make it. We've still got snacks leftover!" That brought a good laugh. They played while I danced in the circle for a bit over an hour. Their last song was one "for veterans". They put several modern references in like WWII, the Korean War and 9/11. Very few danced to that one, but I remembered that the sun still rise and set on those days as well. It felt right.

What an evening!

Don't forget to Spring Forward at 2am Sunday morning. For some completely unfathomable reason, 2:00-2:59:59am Sunday morning will be preempted. I've got to finish my rant about that someday.

4-4-03

I presented my big term paper to my psychology class yesterday. From an academic standpoint, I didn't discuss the subject nearly enough. I didn't justify and round out my talking points nearly enough. I could have gone on for another 30 pages. But I did the classic college maneuver of getting to the right number of pages and then stopping. So I present to you my 6-7 page report on "Children Watching Television: Using it to Advantage and Reducing it's Harm"

Don't let this preamble scare you away from my paper too much... The strategies I outline at the end of the document (in nice, concise, easy to read bullet items) is a pretty good list that every parent should keep next to their television.

At the presentation of my paper, I got things going with a bang by getting everyone excited about the important holiday that falls on April 3rd, Cheese Weasel Day! Of course, I gave out slices of Kraft White Singles (the teacher encouraged us to use hand-outs in our presentation!). Actually, I was introducing most of them to the joys of this holiday since most of them come from backgrounds that don't normally celebrate the day. . . . . . Ok, most of them thought I was crazy, but it got my presentation off to a light-hearted start, and they all got to eat cheese during my talk.

Here is the Cheese Weasel Day FAQ. No, I didn't write it. I found it... I don't recall... somewhere on the net.

Most people probably aren't aware that today (April 3rd) is Cheese Weasel Day.

CWD FAQ
Q: What the heck is Cheese Weasel Day?
Every year, on April 3rd, the Cheese Weasel travels the world, spreading good cheer and leaving a bit of cheese under the keyboards of all good little boys and girls in the high-tech industry. Kraft Singles were once the cheese of choice, although as time went by the type of cheese became less important than the spreading of dairy goodness and the types and shapes of cheese given by the Cheese Weasel became varied. This was considered to be a Good Thing, especially considering how often most people look under their keyboards.

Q: You made this up didn't you?

Nope, I didn't make this up.

C.W. Day is a holiday that evolved on the Internet, probably sometime in the last fifteen years. The first I heard of it was in 1992, and it's being celebrated quietly by dozens, dare I say hundreds of software and technical folks around the country as you read this. Hallmark doesn't make a card, and the American Dairy Association is as yet unaware of it, so it's probably the least commercial holiday going. Hey, we wanted to add some culture to the company, right? What could be more cultured than cheese? There's even a Cheese Weasel Song!

The Cheese Weasel Day Song
(Sung to the tune of.....hm well there isn't one that I know of. C.W. Day predates MP3)

Who Brings the Cheese on April 3rd?
It's the Cheese Weasel!
He's not a silly bunny or a reindeer or a bird
He's the Cheese Weasel!
He's got a funny little tail and funny buck teeth
and he doesn't bring fish and he doesn't bring beef
so you'd better be good if you want to get some cheese
from the Cheese Weasel!!!!!

The photo at the top of this month's journal is of last summer's Bondville Fair. It's a really great, small hometown fair. If I remember correctly, the lawn mower ("small tractor") pull came after the teamed oxen pull and before the big tractor pull. I've got to admit that I like this photo because of the ludicrousness of a small tractor pull. But you know what? I think it's kind of cool hopping on the tractor that you use twice a week all summer for boring work, doing a couple modifications (lead weights, maybe rip off the muffler, tune it up...) and being on a real race track for a few minutes. It certainly makes for some pretty good mowing daydreams during the rest of the year's drudgery.

I could wax poetical for a long while more about the Bondville Fair. The sheep sheering, darn good live bluegrass, petting zoo, blue ribbon squash, flower arranging competition, quilt displays, rides, pellet stove booth, the smell of summer, the rich lighting and geography of southern Vermont in summer.... the whole thing just fills me up.

4-1-03

I played a pretty good April Fools on my parents. As you know, I've been trying to get this education certification thing under my belt. I'm signing up for a masters program SOMEWHERE to get it squared away. Well, yesterday I mentioned to my mom in passing that I had been looking into international scholarship programs for educators. Of course, that was just to line my folks up for tonight's mischief! So I got in touch with them and had them both get on the line because I had some news to tell them. We all talked for a few minutes about this and that. And then I broke it to them. "I've been accepted into an international scholarship program! I had been talking to someone at the Board of Ed in Warren County... I even saw the guy today and we've got this pretty much squared away! I'm going to be spending 6-12 months in an international student teacher exchange program in Nigeria!" I kept talking it up for a few minutes. All the while, my dad is muttering a forceful, "No. No." under his breath and I can tell my mom's head is spinning a bit, she's trying to get the whole story straight. Finally, I came clean, "And you know what the best part about this whole thing is? April Fools!" :-)

Today we had the most beautiful snowstorm. The flakes were just HUGE. I -have- to find the battery charger for my digital camera!! Well, the flakes were coming down in the shape of wispy tea saucers about an inch across! I imagine they tried forming themselves into giant round clumps but on the way down, they were pushed into this shape, like the heat trail streaking off an Apollo re-entry capsule. With all this going on at eye level, I took a glance up at where they were coming from and.. wow. I could see millions of saucers descending down on me like so many mouse parachutes! The flakes were so large that I could see them coming for two hundred yards above me. Each one was ushered around by the gentle wind to go this way and that as they eased their way down to their safe landing on my back porch. It was something, I'll tell you that.