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February 28, 2006

Noisy Evening: Part 2

Right on cue, it's 6:30, and my floor is vibrating, and I can hear bass hits.

I'm so tired. I just want him to stop playing his music for one night, so I can relax, like I should be doing in the evenings, instead of being completely tense because I'm so pissed.

February 27, 2006

Noisy Evening

I had a nasty, evil exam today, and I came home directly after it. All I want to do is relax with some soft music and a crossword puzzle or something. But my freaking floor is vibrating. This guy's music makes me so angry. ANGRY. I don't get visibly angry. THIS makes me angry.

My $1400 deposit goes down the drain if I break my lease. It's probably worth it, but where would I go? I need to explore my options. I also need to explore the idea of suing my landlady for providing me with a residence in which it is not comfortable to live, supposing she refuses to return the deposit. I could also sue my neighbor for lost productivity or something. And get a restraining order. All these lawsuits; I must really be feeling American tonight!

I'm just going to crank my own music so that I'm slightly less uncomfortable than I am when I'm only hearing his music. Too bad that won't stop the floor from vibrating.

February 26, 2006

Photos: Cats and Katy

I present to you la photographie du jour.

Click to enlarge.

In other news, we have two-ish inches of snow right now, and the forecast claims it will continue to snow for at least a couple more days. Fantastic.

Oh, and regarding the birthday card I received from Washington Mutual... I studied the handwriting in detail, and I'm firmly convinced there's no way it came from a machine. It's even possible to tell where the pressure differentials in the paper from the pen's tip are. The bank probably wouldn't even bother going that far in handwriting imitation.

February 23, 2006

Noise Complaint: Part 2

I had words with the loud guy downstairs tonight. For no less than 15 minutes. Maybe 20.

I'd like to mention that I'm very introverted and non-confrontational. I hate talking with people I don't know, and I get really nervous when I'm complaining about them doing something wrong. Yet, that's exactly what I did tonight. That's right; after six months of dealing with this guy's music, I finally descended my stairs, ascended his stairs, and spoke with him.

It was a very heated conversation involving accusation, threatening, and, eventually, compromise. I don't want to go into the details of it here because, for me, the whole experience was pretty terrible. The end result, however, is that he has agreed to keep the volume of his music a bit lower than it has been between 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. Before and after that time interval, he's said it will be quiet.

If he keeps to this agreement, I will be satisfied, but I don't really expect that to happen. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm OK, and I think he's OK, and maybe I won't have to break his face with my chef's knife, after all. It's been a tiring evening, and it's definitely time to play some video games.

P.S. The Weather Underground reports five days of snow in the immediate future; hooray!

February 22, 2006

Birthday Card

In the mail today, I received a hand-written birthday card from my bank. It was mailed from zip code 98101, which makes sense, as that puts it right in the middle of downtown Seattle.

The card is orange and red and has both printed and hand-written birthday messages on the inside. I wouldn't have known it was from my bank, had the last line inside the card not said, "from all of us at WaMu." My address on the envelope, by the way, is also hand-written.

Seriously, who receives hand-written birthday cards from their bank? What does this mean? They would have to employ full-time card writers to get one of these to every one of their millions of customers! There's no way they do that. I'm so confused.

February 18, 2006

Noise Complaint

I've been having problems lately with my neighbor's music. He owns the condo under mine, and he has a stereo that he often turns up so loud that I can hear not only the bass but also the words to the music! The floor shakes, the walls rattle, my wine glasses clank together on the stemware rack, my pots vibrate against each other on the pot rack, and the devil on my shoulder wants me to go downstairs and shove his face onto his lit stovetop. If you go try to talk to him about the music, your first impression is that it's going to be a difficult thing to do because the music can be heard from well beyond the bottom of the stairs to the front door. Once you get up there, the barking of his dog doesn't quite overcome the obscenity of his back-woods West Virginia hillbilly accent, so you're forced to try to decipher English words among the din of his music, a dog's bark, and an uneducated accent. Then, when you can finally hear what he's saying, it occurs to you that he's telling you off. This guy seriously needs an anvil dropped on his face, and I really wish it was legal to do so.

This morning at 2:30, I called the Pittsburgh Police. They showed up very quickly, and the volume of his music was soon lowered to a point at which I felt comfortable going to sleep. Mind you, I could still feel the bass in the floor and through the bed. At 11:00 this morning, I awoke to the sound of his bass.

I've told my landlady about this numerous times, and she insists she's talking with my neighbor via email. While she holds no sway over what he does, he did buy his condo from her, so they know each other much better than I know him, and maybe something she says will make his decency axons stop misfiring.

Meanwhile, I have to wonder why I am constantly neighbor to people who like to run their stereos at ridiculously loud levels in the middle of the night? This happened at several places where I lived in Dallas, and something similar happened in Portland. The guy in Portland liked to play video games at all hours with his subwoofer planted firmly against our shared wall. Portland's noise ordinances only allowed the police to respond to a complaint between certain hours at night, and I found this out by calling the police once during the afternoon and having my request rejected. I haven't been able to find a Pittsburgh noise ordinance list on the Internet, so maybe I'll have to discover this one the hard way, too.

Anyway, this guy is a resident in radiology at a hospital near Duquesne University, so he's presumably been through medical school, and he also is presumably intelligent enough to realize people need to live their lives without their walls shaking. Alas, my reasoning must be folly.

February 16, 2006

MSN Prizes

MSN is apparently trying to woo web surfers (away from Google, *cough*) with its new gimmick called MSN Search and Win. I took a look at it, and while it would be neat to get an XBox 360 for free, I think the horrible odds of winning probably far outweigh any benefit gained through using MSN's search feature. The two most consequential aspects of this are the slow response time from the search engine and the poor quality of the search results (relative to Google, of course).

In other news, Katy is playing Civilization IV, and we're listening to U2's The Joshua Tree, and we're having a pretty nice night of it. The week is over, so why not? Hooray for Thursdays.

If you haven't contributed to my Johari Window and Nohari Window, by the way, please do so at the following links.

Johari Window (view) | Nohari Window (view)

February 15, 2006

Falun Gong

Fark.com: China extending its violent crackdown on political dissidents to new places. Places like Atlanta.

Oh, and happy belated Valentine's Day.

February 14, 2006

Rabbit Sausage

Click to enlarge.

I have an assortment of photos for you today! They were all taken on Sunday, when I was trying to relax in observance of my birthday.

Remember that rabbit I had in my freezer last month? You'll notice in one of the pictures that it has become sausage. It was my first real time to use the meat grinder I got for Christmas, and it turned out very well. I was a bit squeamish about the idea of taking kitchen shears and a chef's knife to a young, innocent rabbit, but one glass of Scotch later, it really wasn't too bad. The sausage is mostly rabbit but also contains about a quarter of a ribeye steak and some venison sausage seasoning. Katy and I ate some of the sausage last night, and it was quite wonderful.

The three other pictures you see are my kitchen after playing with the raw image settings (tint, exposure, shadows, etc.) for my camera, Dorian on my door mat, and the view out my front door when it got particularly blustery. If the green kitchen photo were not so dark, you would be able to see rabbit blood and guts and parts and bits on one of my cutting boards.

Alas, the snow is pretty much gone for the next few days, and the weather has deferred to clear and sunny skies. Hopefully, a sizable portion of the snow will stick around until the weather starts back up again. The next snowfall is due between Thursday and Saturday. The snow photos in this post, by the way, are here by request from my mom, who, living in Houston, hasn't seen a whole lot of the white stuff this year.

I guess I should go read some stuff for the quiz I'm having at 10:30 before I get my bagel and coffee and then head over to the university. Enjoy the photos!

February 13, 2006

Johari Window

Katy has introduced me to the concept of the Johari Window, a model for mapping personality awareness. The idea is that many people can select traits that describe you, and then you can see a map of constructive and destructive interference among the attributes. One can also consider an "inversion" of this idea that maps peoples' not-so-great traits; this is called a Nohari Window.

I invite you all to contribute to my interactive Johari Window and Nohari Window at the following links.

Note: Anonymous contributors seem to have made dishonest entries in my Johari and Nohari Windows. [14 May, 2006]

Johari Window (view) | Nohari Window (view)

Please do not allow your modesty to prevent you from selecting any particular attributes.

February 12, 2006

Birthday Snow

Click to enlarge.
It's really coming down out there, and the National Weather Service has issued a number of special advisories for this part of the country. Over the past couple days, I've been watching a weather system move across the southern United States and start heading up the east coast. That's what you see falling onto my deck in the photo to the right (sorry, I didn't remove the chromatic aberration artifacts from the image, and I fear they're rather obvious in it). Parts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware are expecting upwards of a foot of snow from this storm. While we're not expecting anywhere near that much snow in Pittsburgh, it's absolutely beautiful, nonetheless.

It's been a long time since I've had birthday snow. Last year, I nearly had birthday snow by way of spending the following weekend in a snowy London, but that doesn't quite count. So, happy birthday to me! Hooray for snowy birthdays!

I'm now a year older, a year wiser, and a year more stressed out and tired. It's not all bad, though: I have Katy, I'm at Carnegie Mellon University, and I've met a number of wonderful people in the past year. I still have my health (hey, I'm not that old yet!), I'm happy, and I spend a lot of my time learning things. There's not much else I want out of life at the moment. I'm not much of one for reflection, but it's been a rather incredible year, so I'd like to thank everyone who helped make these wonderful things happen: my mom and dad, Taylor, Diana and John, Katy, Tamara, Helen, Debra, Aidan, Danny, and, of course, all the little people. :)

Thanks, guys, for making it a great year. I hope the next year is even better.

Meanwhile, if you're reading this from the east coast, enjoy the storm!

February 11, 2006



February 09, 2006

Football Games

Andrew requests that I explain my feelings about professional sports. Actually, he apparently narrowed that down to sports with "ball" in the name, but I think my opinions can be applied to any major team sport.

Most importantly, I don't watch sports because I feel watching them is a waste of time. That's not to say I don't have other ways of wasting time, but sitting in front of the television and watching people kick the crap out of each other or run around a diamond a few times or hit a little black cylinder that nobody can see or run back and forth across a wood floor while dribbling a bouncy orange thing just seems pointless to me.

If I'm interested in the game (which, by the way, is an associative property of sports; i.e. I am interested in a game because people around me expect me to know something about a game), then I'll take a look at the score on the web and read a couple highlights. And, while everyone else is watching that game, I'll be doing something less brain-rotting than watching TV and eating potato chips (or eating chicken wings or drinking beer or...).

This has a similar application to live sporting events.

Another important aspect of my dislike for watching sports is that I do not typically get along with the sort of people who watch sports. In Pittsburgh, that's different because everyone here watches sports (what else is there to do on a Sunday afternoon?), but in most cities, the usual suspects for sports-watching are less civilized, etc., than I am. They get excited about football tackles and hockey fights and batters getting hit by pitches. That's not my cup of tea.

I enjoy watching solo sports, however, and maybe all this dislike for sports actually stems from my desire for isolation. But, I like watching a lot of the Olympics for just this reason.

I hope this entry does justice to Andrew's query. I've had a long week (it's over now, though!), and I don't really feel like thinking anymore, but I've been putting off responding to him for a couple days. So, here it is.

February 06, 2006

Super Bowl XL

I did something new yesterday: I went to a bar and watched a football game. Before yesterday, I had never watched a football game, let alone one at a bar. I was afraid I'd have no idea how to "watch" a football game, and somehow, I'd mess up, and everyone would spot me, the impostor! Fortunately, that's not how the evening proceeded.

Katy and I went to the Harris Grill about an hour before the Super Bowl XL (Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks) kickoff, where we paid $10 cover for a really awesome buffet (thanks, Rodney) and took over the last two available seats at the bar. Being in the company of a bunch of Steelers fans during the game turned out to be a lot of fun, and as a result, I'm now slightly hoarse from yelling.

The Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl (one for the thumb), 21 to 10, and it was a glorious victory. The city of Pittsburgh went wild, and we even had to dodge fireworks on our walk home.

Also, Taylor sent me a text message during the game that, in so many words, said she has a crush on Steelers safety #43 Troy Polamalu.

February 05, 2006


If you don't want your group to be viewed as extremist, stop setting things on fire.

In other news, R.I.P. Grandpa Munster.

February 03, 2006

Five Things: Part 2

I decided to take longer than several minutes to determine five things about me that people don't generally know, in sequel to my post here yesterday. So, I've been thinking about it.

  • I have orange boxer shorts. In fact, I was wearing them yesterday. They are of the Ralph Lauren Polo variety, and they have little Ralph Lauren Polo logo polo players on them.
  • When faced with a new situation, I often enter blindly, pretend I know exactly what I'm doing, and hope for the best. If someone else I know is present, I rarely tell them, and I usually make it seem like I've been doing it forever. For example, long ago, when I first ordered a bottle of wine at a restaurant, I really had no idea what I was doing when it came to doing the smell/taste thing. But, I pulled it off, and nobody knew the wiser. In fact, I don't think I've ever really messed anything like that up so badly that anyone knew I was a first-timer.

You now have two. I will try to think of three more and post them here soon.

February 02, 2006

Five Things

Kari has tagged me in a game of tell us five things people generally don't know about you. I tried for several minutes to come up with even one thing I'd put on this page that is obscure enough to qualify but which is not private enough to keep secret. I couldn't think of anything. Sorry, Kari, I lose the game. I guess I enjoy my privacy too much.

It's raining here, and it's going to rain for the next couple days and then start to snow. I have been telling people that, because we've had such a balmy winter so far, February is going to be full of snowstorms and all kinds of great weather. Pittsburgh normally gets 36 inches of rain and 40 inches of snow per year, and we definitely haven't had more than about six inches so far this winter.

February 01, 2006

State of the Union

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.
George W. Bush

I believe that paragraph ranks the highest on my list of asinine paragraphs from last night's speech.

Also, there is at least one disparity between the version of the address at GOP.com and the version at whitehouse.gov. The one I found is at the very end of the speech. Can you spot more?