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June 28, 2005

Mercy!

I had coffee at Cafe Brazil tonight in anticipation of staying up all night and working, which is, in fact, happening in good form. On my way home, I was litening to KZPS, and they played Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison.

It's not the greatest song. Despite that, its lyrics are the namesake for a wine bar called Mercy in Addison. I've been there rather a lot with Kelly and a couple times with Tamara. I've even been with Arin on at least one occasion, and I've also gone alone once or twice. I love that place.

The atmosphere is relaxed, dark, and soothing. The music and decor are perfect. The wine list is a mile long, and many bottles, even those that are more pricey or relatively rare, are sold by the glass. The dinner menu is also excellent and contains such favorites as filet mignon and lobster; as is their water menu, which includes some of the best in the world, like Voss artesian water from Norway.

But, I haven't been there in months. I've been unmotivated to don the requisite black suit, otherwise very busy, and generally without appropriate company. I miss having the time to go there.

Makes me sad, it does.

Even before hearing the Roy Orbison song tonight, I had been considering going there after my chemistry exam. I decided against it, again, for lack of motivation.

Perhaps I'll set aside a couple hours for Mercy when I get back from Pittsburgh next week.

P.S. I only browsed Fark.com today because I ran out of BBC News to read. :)

P.P.S. I added a WHOIS nameserver entry through GANDI for helium.denterprises.org. That might fix the stupid DNS issues that keep cropping up.

P.P.P.S. I just heard Southern Sun on the Digitally Imported Chillout station. That has to be one of my favorite songs.

P.P.P.P.S. In an opinion regarding the ten commandments today, a Supreme Court justice used the word "decalogue" to describe them. Brilliant!

P.P.P.P.P.S. I wonder how many Ps are acceptable in these postscript things?

June 27, 2005

Sunset on Mars

I don't know if this is really a sunset on Mars, but that's what they said it is. Makes me want to go find out.

http://img43.echo.cx/my.php?image=pia07997lrg4gw.jpg

Now, that's travel.

The Week Ahead

First, the The Thomas Crown Affair I watch is the new film with Pierce Brosnan. I've never seen the old Steve McQueen version, but I'd like to watch it. Many people seem to think the new film is much better than the old film. We'll see.

As for the week ahead, it's going to be pretty normal until Thursday. I leave for Pittsburgh at the crack of dawn and will be there until Sunday afternoon. I've been told I'm not allowed to come back to Texas until I've found a place to live there. Not being allowed back in Texas generally doesn't seem like a problem, but I do have some things to wrap up here before venturing off.

Finding somewhere to live turned out to be incredibly difficult the last time I was there. The streets around CMU are crowded with houses and apartments for rent, but the landlords are private owners, and they tend to not allow cats, not renovate their property, be rude, and do other undesirable things. I must have Dorian with me, and he will absolutely not stand for living in a run-down house where the landlord turns up without notice.

Unless I find a diamond in the rough, I will probably end up with an apartment in an apartment complex that is professionally managed. Given what I have already seen, I like this idea much better than the idea of renting a privately owned house. The problem, however, is that most of these apartment complexes are not particularly near the campus.

Parking near campus is abysmal, but that's OK since I'd rather take the bus, anyway. The bus routes are strange, though, and there's really no easy way of getting from downtown Pittsburgh to CMU on a bus. Maybe I can look a bit closer at the bus routes while I'm there this weekend.

The Pittsburgh Port Authority does not have an automatic trip planner on their web site, so I have to analyze the bus routes "by hand." I've never really had to do this before, so it's going to take a while to assimilate all of eastern Pittsburgh's bus routes.

Anyway, I don't foresee any huge problems in finding a place to live in Pittsburgh; I just don't want to be disappointed in where I live for the 18+ months that I'm there.

Ramble off.

June 26, 2005

Nerd Score

Taylor took this Nerd Quiz thing and got a 12. I got something a bit less popular.

I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Yep. I was completely honest, too.

Also, I watched The Thomas Crown Affair for the zillionth time tonight, after spending five hours drinking coffee with three old friends. When do I get my airplane?

I really need to come up with some time to implement the new design for this site. I did modify the style sheet today, though, and I expect that will make some of the text here a bit easier on the eyes.

June 22, 2005

Travels

I love to travel, and so does my friend Aidan. He's been romping around southeast Asia this summer and has some photos to share. Find them here.

He sent me an email from Dubai this morning with the Arabic Starbucks menu picture attached. He was only passing through the airport there, but that's pretty cool, nonetheless.

Oh, to be sitting on a beach in Indonesia with nothing to do but drink mai tais and listen to the surf.

Amerika

"We're all living in America, America, is wunderbar! ... Coca-Cola, Wonder-bra!"

Today must be song day. This lyric is from Rammstein's Amerika on their CD, Reise, Reise. I've managed to pass it up until today in favor of songs that appear earlier on the CD, but this song is really funny, at first glance. Sort of off-beat for their normal German heavy/death-metal music. This song is like what happened to polka when it was handed in the 1800s to Transylvanian vampire hunters with electric guitars.

Having now listened to it again and paid attention to the lyrics (in German), it's really a political statement about how American culture and politics influence the rest of the world.

Obviously, all countries and cultures have their influences on the global village, and arguably, America's is the most recognizable and the most prevalent. Whether this is good or bad is left for philosophers that have more time on their hands than I do.

Tamara says Rammstein's lead singer sounds like Count von Count from Sesame Street. Heh.

June 21, 2005

A Brief Music Brief

"You're from Mexico, aren't you?"
"Yes. South of Mexico City."
"Good climates. High altitudes."

I don't know where these sound clips originate, but they're in this mix on Digitally Imported's Chillout station right now. The mix is called Letter from Heaven, and it was mixed by Malte. It's a groovy, smooth, sexy, jazzy, funky, big-beat-style mix with so perfect a twist of lime only one of the best DJs could have put it there. If James Bond listened to electronic music, this would be on his iPod. The music is excellent, to say the least.

June 15, 2005

Telecommuter

Escuchame, Mundo! ... That was the overly-dramatic title of this post until I decided to change it to 'Telecommuter', which is rather boring and, er, corporate.

"Escuchame, Mundo!" sounds like the name of a bad Mexican soap opera. One of those things that's on the TV at a good Mexican food joint. Where you walk through the kitchen to get to the restroom. Not unlike that place next to the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle. I might have still been hung over from the previous night at the Zig Zag (they have a fun martini menu) when I ended up at that Mexican place, and that's probably why I can't remember its name.

Anyway.

I've been working at night lately, and there are several reasons for this.

Mostly, I do it just because I'm more productive at night. I don't know why, but I've always seemed to do my best work at night. I'm able to concentrate better, and there's a certain clarity in my head that's just not there during the day. This, alone, is a perfect reason to avoid the scorching Texas days.

The other big reason is that I get to work at home. I've seen people work at home before, and it tends to turn into watching movies while vaguely paying attention to whatever their job is. That's not how I do it. I may play with my cat a bit or do laundry while I'm working, but really, I'm certain I do more (and better) work at home than I do when I'm at the office. The institutional gray, the lack of good music, the personal facade every good American corporate drone uses, and the constant threat of being caught off-guard by a question from a co-worker (or my boss!)... they stifle my creativity and my motivation.

I don't know how the guys at work are taking this, though. I update the central code repository with new work, so I suppose they see what I'm doing. I also email updates to my project leader fairly often, and I suppose he believes what they say. It's not like I'm making things up in them, after all.

On the other hand, I was never explicitly allowed to work from home, but I've been doing it off and on for about six months now with not even a peep in the wrong direction from the co-workers, so I have to assume they're OK with it.

Oh, well. That's my stress point today. A drink with dinner after class helped a bit, but now I'm worried about it again.

I'm going to sleep now (5:45 AM), hopped up (down?) on Benadryl, and I don't think I'm going to set my alarm. Which means I'm probably skipping class in the evening and working, instead. That's actually a really happy thing. That class can burn.

June 13, 2005

Much Ado about Almost Nothing

After much ado, it turns out my motherboard wanted the RAM to be in slots 1 and 3, not 1 and 2. Tons of time wasted, but problem solved.

Also, Fry's took the extra hard drive back. Cool.

If I can ever get all these damn drivers installed, I can get on with making this thing useful! :)

Hardware Woes

Well, Windows XP installed fine. But, I'm still having problems handling large amounts of data in short periods of time. For example, I can't extract service pack 2 without it complaining about files (different every time) being corrupt. I also watched Internet Explorer crash after downloading 8.5MB of AVG anti-virus. And, just a couple minutes ago, I got a blue screen that complained about a fault in atikvmag.dll, which is probably part of my video card driver software. [Update: Since atikvmag.dll, I've seen blue screens for win32k.sys, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, and MEMORY_MANAGEMENT. All in about the past 20 minutes. This is totally a motherboard problem.]

Let's pretend the problem isn't with my video card or my hard drive. That leaves the RAM, the processor and the motherboard. The processor is least likely to have a fault in it, since any fault there is likely to be Really Bad, not just Intermittently Bad, as my problems now are. So, that leaves me with the motherboard and the RAM. I don't think it's the RAM for the same reason I don't think it's the processor, but I guess the RAM is more likely to fail than the processor.

The motherboard, then. OK, so I need to take this thing back to Fry's and hope they have a non-idiot person working at customer service and another unopened Abit AN8 in stock. Chances? Based on my experience at Fry's, probably around 1%.

I once had a collection of nonfunctional hardware that I Just Didn't Want to take back there.

I wish there was a better solution to buying hardware locally than Fry's. Sigh.

June 12, 2005

Death to A Salesman

Well, I don't really want to kill the salesman. He was really just a happy, completely socially uncomfortable nerd.

Anyway, the motherboard in my desktop computer exploded yesterday, so I bought a new one. I also got a new processor, a new video card, new RAM, a new hard drive, and even the new 64-bit Windows XP (because 64 bits are better than 32 in processors and operating systems!). It's all very shiny.

There's a problem, though. When I'm trying to install the new Windows, I get these errors five or six times during the copy process that say a file got corrupted during the copy, and would I like to try again? Well, sure, I say, and it does its thing. The file copying completes, it goes into graphical install mode, and sure enough, within five minutes, there's a blue screen. I've seen it happen with a variety of reasons now, too. cdfs? ntfs? irql? If it's a four-letter acronym, I've seen it in a blue screen in the past 24 hours.

This could be a hard drive problem, I thought, because I sort of dropped the drive when the bi^H^Hwoman at Fry's was checking my receipt on the way out the door and didn't give me enough time to adjust my fingers in the bags before she snatched one out of my hand. So, I bought a different drive today. No dice. Same thing happens with the new one.

My next guess is the motherboard. Sigh.

Just to make sure it's not the new 64-bit Windows, though, I'm going to try installing the old Windows XP on it. Just in case.

It'll be a super-neat system if it ever works. I'll even get to play EverQuest II with Taylor on it.

Quick stats on the new box:
- AMD Athlon 3000+ 64-bit.
- ATI Xtasy 256MB.
- Maxtor 80GB Serial ATA.
- Abit AN8.
- Kingston 2x512MB PC3200 400MHz.

That's all the news that's fit to print.

June 11, 2005

Periodicity

Hi, Rishi. I'll try to live up to your expectations. I view this space as more of a soap box than anything, though. And, uh, what is this about a wedding ring?!

The "hell of a rant" I mentioned in my previous post referred to what I wanted to write about a chemistry course I'm taking this summer. As opposed to every other word being an expletive, as I wanted to write it Monday and Tuesday, I'll just tell you briefly what happened.

I have to take chemistry because I need it to start my master's degree at Carnegie Mellon in August. I took the CLEP test for chemistry earlier this year, in March or April or something, and got two points below what I needed for full chemistry credit. CLEP tests are not repeatable for six months. Thus, I am enrolled in chemistry this summer.

Not only, however, am I enrolled in chemistry; I am enrolled in chemistry at Richland College in the Dallas County Community College District. It's Monday through Thursday, four hours a day of absolute and utter crap.

What would chemistry be like if you had to take it in second grade instead of in high school the first time around? Well, come check out Richland College!

The people in this class are not exactly the brightest crayons in the box. Oh, and speaking of crayons, after we went over the syllabus for an entire hour on the first day of class, we got to color those diamond-shaped chemical hazard symbols! You know, with the red and blue and yellow, they tell you about how explosive something is, etc.... yeah, we had to color those to make sure we knew which color stands for which hazard. Something tells me I couldn't ask a single person in that class about those hazards and get a correct answer.

Anyway, there's megatons of stuff I could write about this class, but I should keep it to myself, as you probably just don't want to read about it. :)

On the other hand, I met Helen in class, and she's pretty cool.

June 07, 2005

Pause

Mmm, I have a hell of a rant to write today. Pity I don't have the time. I'll try to squeeze it in somewhere.

June 01, 2005

Pittsburgh

First off, thank you, Andrew, for your comment. I am excited you have found something worth reading here.

As I am moving to Pittsburgh in August to work on a masters degree in computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, I have been looking for places to live on the Internet. As usual, craigslist has proven very helpful. As has about.com, which I normally find to be abysmal at best.

I've been looking for apartments near CMU and near downtown Pittsburgh; I believe either location would be suitable for me. However, locations near and in downtown Pittsburgh are typically rather expensive, and I have little confidence in the low noise levels some apartment managers and landlords advertise for their housing near CMU.

I now have a stack of papers about a quarter inch high of apartment advertisements, and I plan to pore over them and select the best, say, seven or eight on my flight to Pittsburgh on Thursday. I'll be visiting for the weekend, touring the CMU campus and looking for somewhere to live, and should remain nominally out of communication with the rest of the world for the duration of my stay.

As I know I will be in Pittsburgh at least 18 months (apparently, the M.S. computer engineering requires at least that long), I'm looking for housing I can lease for a relatively long time. Which is weird. First, I've never before been able to definitively say yes, I'll be here for another year... or even six months. I enjoy moving and its subsequent change of scenery, so that's usually what happens. Second, I'm trusting my future landlord, etc., to keep everything in good shape until I arrive in Pittsburgh in August. I'm also trusting myself to make a decision this weekend which I won't regret a few months down the road.

I also need to get my current employer on to my resume and post a part-time employment advertisement for Pittsburgh on monster.com or something like that.

In other news, I sat at Starbucks a couple days ago and designed a layout for this site that promises to be much more pleasing to the eye than Movable Type's default. It will be at least another week (and probably longer than that) before it is fully implemented.

Adieu for now. I need to work out when my flight takes off and then get some sleep.