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September 29, 2005

Silly Questions Thing

This silly questions thing looked amusing, so I'm going to give it a shot. It's from Taylor.

1. when you look at yourself in the mirror, what's the first thing you look at? My hair -- it's the most easily messed-up part of what I can normally see in a mirror.
2. how much cash do you have on you? $10 in $1 bills.
3. what's a word that rhymes with "TEST"? Stressed.
4. favorite plant? Garlic -- because I need to kill more.
5. who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? Dad.
6. what is your default ring tone on your phone? Ring tone #4 or something -- I have no idea; it's always in vibrate mode.
7. what shirt are you wearing? A black cotton sweater over a white undershirt -- boring but warm, and that's important today.
8. do you "label" yourself? I put a different color Post-It Note on my forehead every morning, flip to a random page in the dictionary, and write the first adjective I see on it.
9. name brand of your shoes currently wearing? Kenneth Cole -- they're my flip-flops, and I'm sitting on my deck.
1o. bright or dark room? Dark.
11. what do you think about the person who took this survey before you? She's my sister, and that's a good thing, if you're in the business of being my sister.
12. ever "spilled the beans"? I don't really know how to interpret this one. Probably, yeah.
13. what were you doing at midnight last night? Drinking my fifth Red Hook ESB, I think.
14. word for word: Eh?
15. do you ever click on "pop ups" or banners? I click on banners, usually on tech sites, if they look interesting -- like if they're about an Intel Developer Forum or something. Yeah, I'm boring and nerdy.
16. what's a saying that you say a lot? "Are you still talking?"
17. how many stairs are in your house? None inside, but 42 outside. Seriously.
18. last furry thing you touched? Dorian Gray.
19. how many hours a week do you work? If work is defined as employment, zero.
2o. how many rolls of film do you need to get developed? What is film?
21. favorite age you have been so far? Probably one or two or so -- things got complicated after that.
22. your worst enemy? I don't assign priorities to enemies.
23. what is your current desktop picture? On this computer, it's a photo of a bleeding woman with wings standing at the edge of a cliff.
24. what was the last thing you said to someone? I said, "you dropped..." as I picked up a girl's Pitt ID and handed it to her.
25. if you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to change a major regret? I'll take a million bucks, thanks.

That wasn't as exciting as I imagined it would be, but there you go. Some little slice of insight into my life.

September 28, 2005

Full Buses

To get home from Carnegie Mellon, I typically take either the 500 bus or the 71D bus, and in the evenings, they're consistently very full. People are crammed into the bus, often standing in front of the yellow line which delineates the parts of the bus in which it is legal or illegal to stand while in motion. The drivers allow this, seemingly because they just want to move as many people as possible at once. Simultaneously, only a couple people are allowed on the bus, while everyone else is left at the bus stop to wait for the next bus.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that buses become progressively later than their schedule dictates, as the evening grows near. And, occasionally, a bus just won't appear for its scheduled run, leaving us, the passengers, to wait another 20, 30, or 45 minutes for the next bus, also off schedule, to turn up. The inbound 71C bus left me standing in the rain for 45 minutes on Monday, for example, despite scheduled stops 20 minutes apart.

I do not pay fares on the buses because my Carnegie Mellon ID card is the physical manifestation of the transit fees included in my tuition, but the fare is $1.75 per ride for everyone who does not have a similar exception. This is a bit above American standards, as far as I can tell, and the service is far below American standards.

If thousands of people per day are paying $1.75 for their bus rides, I'd think the buses could get a bit better -- at least to the point of not being horribly off-schedule sardine tins.

What gives?

September 27, 2005

Pittsburgh Parking Authority

Below is a picture of Pittsburgh Parking Authority car #988 parked in front of a fire hydrant on the northwest corner of Neville St. & Winthrop St. at 12:47 PM EDT today.

Click to enlarge.

I took the picture with the camera on my phone, which is why it sucks. Anyone have any good ideas on how to clean the lens?

Just some illegal amusement to lighten my day after spending about 15 hours doing a VLSI CAD homework assignment this weekend and this morning. With any luck, someone from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority will stumble across this picture and reprimand the person who was impudent enough to do this.

September 26, 2005

Family & Shadyside Market

My family in Houston is fine, with respect to Hurricane Rita. My mom and sister didn't end up visiting Pittsburgh last weekend because Delta cancelled their flight at the last minute, despite the airport still being operational at their departure time. I guess it rained a lot during the hurricane, and the winds were pretty severe, but there was no damage, and their power didn't even go out. My mom even called it a "non-event" while we were on the phone before she went to bed that night.

I visited the Shadyside Market for the second time today. It's down the road a bit, on Walnut Street near Aiken. I felt somewhat odd just going in there for toilet paper (I actually went grocery shopping yesterday, but I hadn't realized I was out!), so I also bought some food items.

Shadyside Market is the sort of place where the older, well-to-do residents of my neighborhood go and buy a handful of high quality items with hundred-dollar bills, while talking with the staff about how poorly the Steelers did last weekend, how's your wife, etc. As such, I felt a bit off the mark as I walked in with a backpack, an umbrella, and clothing that was half-soaked from a downpour on Neville as I was walking to catch the bus to Shadyside. I then got my merchandise and paid with a credit card, which is something small business don't appreciate very much. My primary bank account is held at a bank that doesn't even exist in Pennsylvania, though, and I don't like paying the fees associated with using another bank's ATM, so whatever.

Anyway, I enjoy Shadyside Market, and next time I'm in there, I'd like to purchase some meat from the butcher, but I'm going to have to work on becoming more comfortable in the store.

Also, Dorian is sitting on my lap, which is always a good feeling.

September 22, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Rita is expected to make landfall in the Houston/Galveston area Friday night. The mayor of Houston and the mayors of surrounding areas have ordered mandatory and voluntary evacuations.

My mom and sister are flying here Friday morning on Delta, from Houston. My dad is staying with the house.

The house, while on relatively high ground and built only seven-ish years ago, was not constructed to withstand category five hurricane force winds. I am worried.

I try calling them every ten minutes or so on the four phones among them, only to receive the "all circuits are busy" message. The T-Mobile message is actually something like "due to the hurricane in the area you are calling, ...," which is interesting.

Debra's family is staying in Houston. Stephi's family is driving to Dallas (now a 24-hour drive, apparently).

Good luck to all.

September 15, 2005

Displaced Students

It looks like even the top-tier universities are happy to help with the educational needs of students that have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

From CMU:

We have spoken with a small number of Tulane students and have offered them the opportunity to take the fall semester here as non-degree students, with attendant student supports, including housing and dining. We are also in close contact with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and other colleges and universities involved in helping students from the affected area, in order to ensure that we act in a coordinated fashion to provide the most relevant support to students in need.

From MIT:

MIT is hosting 14 undergraduates from affected areas, and has accepted 15 graduate students. For the fall term, MIT will waive tuition and fees for visiting students displaced by the hurricane and will provide free housing in available rooms in fraternities, sororities and independent living groups.

From Harvard:

Harvard University has made a commitment to enroll 25 additional Visiting Undergraduate Students for the Fall 2005 Term from colleges and universities that will not reopen this fall due to Hurricane Katrina.

From Stanford:

Stanford has completed the application process for its temporary undergraduate admission program for students affected by Hurricane Katrina and has offered admission to 36 undergraduates. We look forward to greeting those students when classes begin in late September.

Isn't that neat? :)

September 14, 2005

More Food Success

Last night was another dinner success with Katy. The food was simple but elegant: halves of green bell peppers splayed open so they lay flat and then blackened at the edges on the stove, topped with a mixture of ground sirloin, mushroom, onion, and garlic, then topped again with parmigiano and asiago cheeses.

I think I'm making Mexican food tonight. Hooray. I haven't eaten anything spicy in, like, years or something. Although, my craving for spicy food may be somewhat subdued by lunch at the Indian food van at Pitt, which is going to happen in about two hours.

The forecast still looks good, with rain tomorrow and Friday, a nice but warm weekend, and showers and thunderstorms throughout next week.

"Burn, Hollywood, burn!" -- Open Up, Leftfield.

September 12, 2005

Kitchen, Food, and Weather Together

I have a real kitchen now, as the furniture is set up, the counters are clean, and the dishes are done. Storage is still pretty tight, but I think I can get rid of a few unnecessary things and then have room for everything.

Katy and I had dinner here last night, which consisted of baked, peppered lemon sole fillet, red dolce peppers sauteed with strawberry jelly, pasta with a cheese and cream sauce, draped with garlic, mushrooms, onions, and with thinly sliced tomatoes on top. I think the sole could have remained in the oven for a minute or so longer, but Katy assures me it was fine. Otherwise, the dinner turned out very well, and I think my Pittsburgh cooking debut was adequately impressive. I certainly didn't want to botch it the first time and send Katy away screaming, never to return for food.

This morning's breakfast was poached organic eggs (I figured out how to adjust the flame on my stove, so now I can poach stuff) and some excellent, thick, natural bacon from the Whole Foods Market butcher. My kingdom for a toaster, so maybe next time there will be toast involved, too. Hmm, time to shop for toasters.

Rather, it's time to go to class.

But, first, a weather report from our meteorology department: highs in the mid-to-upper 80s and sunny, with lows in the 60s, until Thursday; some showers expected at the end of the week with highs dropping into the 70s; sunny and warm with highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s for the weekend.

Oh, and the Steelers kicked ass yesterday, 7-34 over the Titans, whoever they are.

September 08, 2005

It's September Now

In fact, we're well into September, with only 21 days until October. I keep imagining October here will look like October in the northwest did, but I don't want to get my hopes up. Regardless, autumn begins soon, on the autumnal equinox, which should happen on September 22 or so.

That's all I feel like writing now. I didn't want to leave the September page on this thing blank forever. :)