December 18, 2006

Five things you didn't know about me

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There's a massive game of tag going around the blogosphere. I've been tagged by Bill and Dave.

So here goes. Five things you didn't know about me:

  1. I all but gave up Computer Science in favor of law my junior year of college. I even convinced my friend Evan to do the same... except he actually did :)
  2. I've been to London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Zurich, but only set foot west of the Mississippi in May of this year.
  3. I scored higher on the language portion of the SAT than the math portion.
  4. I play piano.
  5. I've been skydiving... twice.

I tag Ryan, Jeff, Kurt, Vinnie, and Anton.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software

Posted at 10:30 PM | Permanent link

December 14, 2006

The Cleveland Surf Scene - For Serious

From the New York Times:

Yes, You Can Surf in Cleveland, Before the Brown Water Freezes

Surfers learn to avoid ice chunks the size of bowling balls. Some wear goggles to surf through freezing rain, which can sting their eyes like needles. That is a bad idea, Mr. Labbe said, because the goggles freeze to their faces.

...

To reach the lake, surfers drag their boards across snowdrifts and beaches littered with used condoms and syringes, Mr. Ditzenberger said. The most popular surf spot is Edgewater State Park. It is nicknamed Sewer Pipe because, after heavy rains, a nearby water treatment plant regularly discharges untreated waste into Lake Erie.

Ahh, to be in Cleveland again. This takes me back :)

The old gang at Edgewater Park:

edgewater2004

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 02:12 AM | Permanent link

November 13, 2006

Doubletake

Wow, Rumsfeld gets fired and Java gets opensourced.

Am I dreaming?

Hell must be chilly these days.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software

Posted at 09:43 AM | Permanent link

November 06, 2006

Please vote

trash-01.jpg

Remember 2004? Way back when we didn't think torture was up for debate? When we thought habeas corpus was a given?

We've been there before. We can get back there. Right? One step at a time.

Please vote tomorrow and look for irregularities as best you can.

Here are some convenient score cards:

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:46 PM | Permanent link

May 22, 2006

My trip to California

Yes, I'm alive :)

I've been meaning to write, but it's hard to find a spare moment. Images of ugly code and piano chords and Jazz and cats dance in my head.

This entry has been sitting in draft state for three weeks and is now belated, but what can ya do? I'm publishing it.

California was amazing.

Startup School

Startup School was great, as expected.

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This time around with real founders such Joe Kraus (Excite/Jotspot), Mark Fletcher (Bloglines), Caterina Fake (Flickr), and Joshua Schachter (del.icio.us) speaking we got an excellent "view from the trenches". Lots of great tips.

I'll skip the details as they've been covered extensively elsewhere.

How did it compare to last fall? Favorably. In fact, I liked this year's conference better.

The speakers last fall were great, but the lineup included more finance, VC, journalist, economist, and inspirational types, giving the conference a somewhat "meta" feel. This time around there were more founders with more battle stories and I liked that.

A side effect of raving about a previous conference is that a large number of your friends find their way to the next one :) It was great to see Vinnie, Martin, Didier, Quinnie, Pratik, Rich, and Jason at the conference.

And as expected, I met many great people. That's what happens when you throw a bunch of young, smart, entrepreneurial types in a room together. Too many great conversations to mention, but if we talked, I really enjoyed it, so thank you!

Super Happy Dev House

After the conference I was really feeling the effects of jet-lag and wanted nothing more than to go home and collapse on the couch -- but that was not to be.

Vinnie mentioned he was going to a party later that night that he assured me I would really enjoy. The name of the party? Super Happy Dev House. Yeah... Super Happy Dev House.

So I had Jason drop me off at Vinnie's apartment in Palo Alto afterward and this gave me a chance to tour the famous Meetro World Headquarters (picture1, picture2).

That was fun :)

Afterwards Vinnie, Didier, Zak, and I headed out to the party.

So, the Super Happy Dev House. What is the Super Happy Dev House?

This is the Super Happy Dev House:

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The Super Happy Dev House is a party just south of San Francisco hosted by David Weekly of PB Wiki fame. It's half hackfest, half party, and it's amazing. I've never seen anything like this. I had no idea that things like this existed.

About SuperHappyDevHouse (according to the SuperHappyDevHouse Wiki)

The party runs from 7pm in the evening until 7am the next day, and the idea is you bring your laptop and hack... or not. It's freeform. You can sit around and work on a project amongst other smart people doing the same, or you can walk around and get to know those smart people.

But whatever it is, it's cool. I met some amazing people including David Weekly, himself, Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum, some of the Technorati folks, and countless others.

Everyone is really smart. Everyone has an idea. And everyone wants to talk about it.

It's an incredible atmosphere, and it made me realize what's special about Silicon Valley... and why I need to move there... soon...

The Flat

We left the Super Happy Dev house 4am - ish and everyone was really tired. But the night wasn't over as it turns out.

During the drive home, at the last exit before we hit San Jose:

*scraping noise*
Vinnie: "What's that noise? I think we're dragging something."
Me: "Umm, no dude, I think your have a flat."

We blew a flat in the darkest stretch of Highway 280...

... and we had no flashlight ...

... so we had to use our cellphones as light ...

... Oh we have laptops! Laptops give off more light! ...

... Somebody take pictures of this, I need to blog about this! ...

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I'm a nerd :)

Thanks to Zak, who had the most experience of the four of us with changing a tire.

"Old" Friends

After sleeping half the next day I called my "old" college friend Anders (college buddy presently working on PhD in Chemical Engineering at Stanford) to see if he and Vinay (other college buddy presently working on PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford) if they would like to meet for dinner. Why yes! So we met at a Mexican restaurant (with ridiculously cheap margaritas) just off campus.

Afterwards I got a tour of the Anders and Vinay pad. Foosball was played (apparently I'm past the prime of my foosball career, which is a bad thing), and much good conversation was had. It was great to catch up.

By the way for those who know him, Anders is still the same old Anders - he still doesn't sleep.

The next day Anders gave me a brief tour of Stanford, which is incredibly beautiful if you've never been.

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Then he dropped me off at the Caltrain station where I took the train into San Francisco for the rest of the day.

San Francisco

This was my first time in San Francisco, and I spent most of the day doing unashamedly touristy things - Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Trollies, Golden Gate Bridge (which is *massive* in person).

There's not much to say, really, except I love this city and hope it won't be long before I return.

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Summary

Tons of other Photos in my California Photoset.

In short, I'm going to have to move west to the Bay Area, I don't see any way around it. So that's that.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software

Posted at 10:30 PM | Permanent link

March 29, 2006

I'm unplugging my TV

You heard me. No TV at all. Zip.

This means no Southpark, no Futurama, no Family Guy, no Daily Show, no Curb Your Enthusiasm, no Deadwood. Not even any movies on HBO.

As much as I love all of those shows (a lot), I've come to the realization that after I'm dead, no one is going to remember me for how many Larry David arguments I've sucked down nor how well I can recite the words to Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls (may his balls rest in pieces).

TV is evil. TV rots your brain. TV makes you stupid.

Actually - no. I take that back because I'm not sure it's really true. Some of the smartest people I know are those who most enjoy Southpark's toilet humor with great regularity.

The cardinal sin of TV is not that it makes you stupider... at least not directly. The cardinal sin of TV is that it munches up time... time that you could otherwise spend to cook a new dish or study a foreign language or make new friends or get smarter or get laid or fall in love. TV takes time away from the things that matter.

It's amazing how fast life passes you by. One minute you're saying goodbye to your parents and carrying stuff up to your dorm room on your first day of college... the next you're saying goodbye to your college friends as you depart for a new job and a new city... one day you have the misfortune to have to fly home and put one of your best friends in the ground... and before you know it you you've spent more time in a cubicle than you have in the classroom.

And I'm only 24... Just imagine what my dad is thinking right now when he still remembers holding me in a baseball glove that day I came home from the hospital for the first time in 19811. Or my mom... or my grandparents... yeesh.

How much of your life has been spent so far in front of a television? Was it worth it?

Frequently you'll hear people say things like "I'd really like to do X, but I just don't have the time", where X is taking piano lessons or starting a business or writing blogs or reading books on programming or drawing comics. And then they go home and sacrifice two and a half hours to the television every night.

Well, what the FUCK!?

I know. I'm just as guilty of this as anyone and it's complete bullshit. What we're really saying is that TV is more important to us than becoming a real badass and finding finding true love. When you stop and think about that, it's probably not true. At least I hope you think it's not true, because - damn...

So yeah. No TV.

In exchange, I'm allowing myself to read anything I want. Anything at all. Even trashy horror or romance novels or Penthouse personals should that strike my fancy... not that I, uh, would ever really do that last one... *ahem* At least with books, even trashy ones, you get to exercise your imagination (imagination is more important than knowledge, by the way) and maybe, just maybe, you can pick up a thing or two about the craft of writing in the process.

I intend to keep this up until my roommate Ashish comes home from Wilmington in a few weeks. This is what happens when I'm left to my own devices. After that things get a little harder without locking myself in my room for hours on end, but we'll see. I can be hardcore when I need to be.

Who's with me?

Inspiration:

Update:

Coincidentally, someone named Irene from New York City also blogged about this very same topic yesterday. I really like her post, so go read Why You Too Should Cancel Cable .

[1] I was born a few weeks premature and was a very tiny baby... the size of a large softball you might say.

In Matters involving the art of avoiding sloth, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:05 AM | Permanent link | Comments (10)

March 26, 2006

Theory: chocolate inspires one to write

Has anyone else noticed that you suddenly have massive amounts of crap to say, that you need to write down ... after you eat chocolate?

I don't have any conclusive evidence yet. I just know that the last two times I parked myself in 3 Cups reading a book, sipping tea, and eating a chocolate bar... this happened:

3 Cups Tea Tray with writing all over it

(the scribbles on this tray will appear in future blog entries)

Ok, so I guess I really need to remember to carry a notebook with me wherever I go, but there's a certain charm to writing around the stains on a tea tray.

I've bought five chocolate bars of varying cocoa percentages, and I intend to test this matter. Anyone else is more than welcome to participate in my study. Just... uh... eat chocolate and try to write... or something.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Writing

Posted at 12:01 PM | Permanent link

March 21, 2006

Dinner with U.S. Congressman Brad Miller

So, how often does one get to have dinner and drinks with a United States Congressman?

Well, tonight Bill, Dave, and I got to do just that, as U.S. Representative Brad Miller joined us at tonight's Raleigh Bloggers meetup (completely out of the blue).

Apparently Rep. Miller is active on Daily Kos, as seen in this entry and others listed on his website.

Rep. Miller and his campaign manager were seeking to learn more about blogs, both from a perspective of getting the word out to his constituents and building a community of supporters, and also for monitoring what the blogosphere is saying about him and his opponent.

Of course, we were more than happy to inform him about RSS, feed aggregators, group blogging, blogging etiquette, and other North Carolina blogging communities such as Orange Politics and the Chapel Hill meetup group.

On matters unrelated to blogging, it was quite interesting to hear Brad's perspective on the inside workings of the congress, the current leadership of the Democratic party, and "form" letters that are sent to representatives.

We even got to peek at his United States of a America "corporate" charge card... and, no, he didn't use it to pay for his meal.

As for political issues, it would have been nice to have gotten a bit less of a blank stare when I tried to bring up the topic of intellectual property and patent reform... but sadly this wasn't altogether unexpected :(

In the end, I'm still all kinds of impressed that Rep Miller has the foresight to reach out to the blogosphere. He's more than welcome to join us at Cafe Cyclo again anytime.

Update:

Alternate perspectives on the evening from Dave and Bill.

In Blogging, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:29 PM | Permanent link

March 10, 2006

How to keep a tidy car

It seems that every time I meet someone new and give them a ride in my car, they are shocked and amazed at the cleanliness of the inside of my car, especially for a guy.

How do you do it!?, they ask.

I guess hitching a ride has become synonymous with pushing over a nest of loose papers, empty Aquifina bottles, cd cases, pom-poms, and McDonald's (not so fresh) apple pie boxes to make room for your ass.

I've decided to reveal my secrets for keeping a clean car:

  1. Don't bring crap into your car.
  2. If you do bring crap into your car, bring it out of your car.

This is the Zen.

I think that's it. If I think of any other tips, I'll post them here.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:29 AM | Permanent link

February 22, 2006

Wordiness Considered Harmful

Good programmers know that code is not an asset. Code is a liability. Lines of code are something you spend in order to build a product.

Why?

Two reasons (mainly):

  1. The only code you can be absolutely, positively sure is bug free is no code.
  2. The more code you write, the more you or someone else has to (re)read to understand what your system is doing.

This is the Zen.

I was pondering this idea on my way home from work this evening when it hit me that there is actually a corollary in writing (English, that is).

Words are not assets. Sentences are something that you need to spend to get your point across.

Whenever I finish a new blog, the first thing I do is go back and delete all the nonessential crap: extra words, prepositional phrases - usually sentences and paragraphs too. A lot of the in order to's, that's, anyway's and so's get the axe.

Then I go back and read what I wrote again with an eye towards rewording sentences so they require fewer words. Then I go back and rewrite what I wrote with an eye towards rewording sentences so they require fewer words.

Why does this make your writing better?

In our code corollary, above, it has more to do with point two than point one. Words are things that your eyes have to travel over and your mind has to process in order to absorbe their meaning. Reading, itself, would really blow if it weren't for the ideas conveyed by those words on the page. The less you have to read to get at that meaning the better1, but then if extra words are necessary to convey the exact feeling you want then they're necessary and there's nothing to be done about it.

This is why someone like Jane Austen is such a pleasure to read while someone like Kant is so awful that we mostly just keep him around to make fun of his writing in essays like this2.

In most cases, however, the difference isn't so pronounced. It's more subtle and subconscious.

It's the difference between walking into a room that has just been dusted and one that hasn't. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you can't peg the difference unless you're specifically looking for it. You just know that the tidy room feels better.

Concise writing just feels better.

In and of itself, it may not be the quality without a name (that magical quality that defines good writing). But if the quality without a name is there, it allows it to come through more clearly. So bring the axe, and keep it clean.

This, similarly, is the Zen.

[1] With notable exceptions mostly having to do with poetry and word play I think.

[2] Ok, I'm being facetious here. I don't actually know very much about Kant. I'm sure his philosophies are brilliant in their own way. I just wouldn't know because whenever I try to read his stuff it feels so much like trying to wade through maple syrup that I have to stop.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software, Writing

Posted at 09:39 PM | Permanent link

February 19, 2006

A Tribute to Steve Yegge

I don't know who Steve Yegge is, but he rocks.

And here I thought I was the only one in the world with a day job programming Java, an unhealthy obsession with Emacs, and secret affairs with Lisp, Scheme, Ruby, blogging, and Google on the side.

Observe:

and similar drunken blog rants.

I don't care how much of an idiot Stevey says he is; he's right up there with Paul Graham, Philip Greenspun, and Mark Pilgrim in my book. Those who know me know that's the highest compliment I can possibly pay a person.

Reading these guys for the first time stretches your mind. It makes it hurt a little - in a good way. It allows you to catch glimpses of things that were right in front of your nose that you didn't know were there. I can't really describe it other than to say, from what I've read about the Zen and Buddhism, this has to be what the enlightenment is like... at least a little bit... at least the awakening part. Ok, maybe not, but still.

'Welcome to my life. I'm the cow in the Gary Larsen comic1 -- the one who looks up, shocked, and says: "Hey, wait a minute! This is grass! We've been eating grass." The other cows stare blankly, munching the grass.'

-- Steve Yegge in The Emacs Problem

Quotes like that get me all kinda teary-eyed.

After years of pondering the Lisp and Emacs and Java and closures and SQL and XML and RSS and Atom and REST and continuations and Javascript and Objective-C and Cocoa and Perl and Python and Ruby and the Gang of Four and blogging and blog meetups and Peopleware problem I think I've finally gotten to the point where I can read a guy like Stevey, understand exactly where he's coming from on many issues and feel completely comfortable saying something like:

"See all that crap that guy over there is ranting about? Yeah... what he said. Right on, brotha."

Whereas before I would have simply said "Aha!" or "Holy hell, he's right!".

Of course, I'm still saying those things - often, in fact - just not exclusively anymore, and it's a far cry from that kid who just graduated from college and was trying to convince himself that J2EE was the best thing since sliced bread, because it had to be, right? Because that's what they used at IBM, and IBM couldn't be wrong.

That's the feeling I get, and it's none too bad. Now if only I were only smarter... If I only knew how to write like these guys. If if if...

[1] For the love of god, if anyone actually has this comic or knows where I can find it, please let me know.

Disclaimer: Just so you know, in honor of Steve, I've had a few glasses of wine before writing this - which, if my previous entry is any indication, might become a theme with me for a while. So pardon the misspellings and horrible grammar.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software

Posted at 12:09 AM | Permanent link

February 17, 2006

Why do so many people wear glasses?

I'd like to take a few moments to appreciate the eyeglasses.

After all, without eyeglasses I'd probably be lying dead in a gutter somewhere or at least living in filth on the street, begging for change, and witnessing people's internal oO(scam? scam!) thought bubbles first hand as they walk by.

Corrective lenses are what separate us from the (other) animals.

Seriously, have you ever thought about this? What did people do before glasses? I don't know about you, but without my glasses I wouldn't have been very good at hunting/gathering/making babies (not that I'd be terribly good at that last one, anyway, at the moment).

Why do so many people need glasses or contacts? Shouldn't this defect have been weeded out of our genes long ago? Or is it just that by the time glasses finally were invented, the sightless minority that were still around had developed such superior intellect to cope that they quickly supplanted their non-blind neanderthal compadres1?

Anyway, if you happen to be of the visually impaired (and yuppy) persuasion in the year 2006. One word:

Silhouettes2

Silhouette eyeglass frames photo

There frames have brought great joy and happiness into my life.

If you wear glasses, I promise, you'll never go back.

If you're one of the lucky non-blind, 20/20 few then you may want to pretend that you are blind - just for a moment - just to see how it feels - just so you can experience these frames.

They're that good.

That is all.

[1] More likely: bad sightlessness is a condition that has become prevalent since we've had the invention of eyeglasses around as a crutch. But that's not nearly as much fun to think about. Of course, the fact that we now read books with tiny type (like this!) and stare at computer monitors for twelve hours a day can't be terribly healthy either.

[2] I'd link to their site, except it's one of those all flash sites that maximizes your browser and takes away your address bar. I refuse to be associated with such retardation. Do a google search if you like experiencing pain.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 06:36 PM | Permanent link

February 14, 2006

How to sign over a check

From the "things you probably should know, and you feel retarded you don't know them, yet they don't really come up until you're 24 and someone has rammed your car and you need to deal with insurance companies and body shops and rental agencies" department.

You have a check that is made out to you... say from an insurance company. And you want to use it to pay someone who is not you... say a body shop.

If you're like me, you're thinking "Wow, I didn't even know you could do that. I'll have to remember to look that one up on the internet."

Lo and behold, the internet is before you. So how do we do this?

Normally, when you're cashing or depositing a check at the bank, you flip the check over, endorse it with your signature and then give it to the bank teller.

If, instead, you want to sign it over to someone else, you flip it over and endorse it this way:

Pay to the order of
(the person/place/thing to whom you are signing over the check)
(your signature)

and then give it to the person you want to pay. When they cash it they'll sign their name underneath all that crap.

Huzzah.

And that's how that works.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:43 PM | Permanent link | Comments (42)

November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Photos

My family and I spent Thanksgiving at my uncle's restaurant, which he closed down for the day for our benefit.

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More photos here.

If it seems like I do nothing but take photos nowadays, it's because I do nothing but take photos nowadays.

For Photography Nerds (and wannabe nerds)

If you're into digital photography, the Photokit Sharpener and Noise Ninja plugins for Adobe Photoshop completely rock out.

Noise Ninja in particular was especially helpful for this project. All the images above were taken using a slow lens (roughly f/4.0) under poor indoor lighting conditions.

In order to avoid using the flash and minimize the effects of camera shake, I had to push my ISO up to 1600. This increases the sensitivity of the camera sensor, allowing it to capture an image using less light, but the tradeoff is a noisier image.

Thanks to the engineers at Picture Code, we can do things like pump up the ISO and count on the algorithms in Noise Ninja to remove much of the noise during post processing.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:58 AM | Permanent link

November 09, 2005

New York, New York Photos

For this trip, I bought an extra camera battery beforehand...and it payed off.

Here's a sampling of the Photos I took while in New York yesterday.

Many more in my New York, New York photoset...

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fountain_slihouette_1.jpg

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:42 AM | Permanent link

November 06, 2005

The time before...

Mark Pilgrim (from times gone by):

"I had a dream last night about new love. This was undoubtedly inspired by the lingering aftereffects of [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind] rattling around in my head. Actually, no, it wasn’t about new love. I dreamt about the time before new love… when everything is just new. When a smile or a wave would keep you going all day, and laughter is like emotional crack."

Long been one of my favorite random quotes.

This really is quite a nice feeling. It's a shame that it so often goes wrong.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:15 PM | Permanent link

October 18, 2005

Boston Photos and other Anecdotes

In a city of half a million people, you'd think I were lying if I told you that I ran into my friend Amy Chan at a random bar one night. But on Saturday after the conference this actually happened!

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Completely unplanned!

Fate can be so sweet at times.

Here is a small subset of the photos I took while in Boston. More are available at my Flickr Boston photoset.

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(Chowda!! It's sooo goood!)

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Unfortunately the 100 most interesting sights that I saw occurred on Monday after the four year old lithium ion battery in my camera died prematurely. Thus - few pictures of Boston Common, the Boston Gardens, Fenway, MIT, and not one of the breathtaking view of the Boston skyline from the Mass Ave bridge.

Fate can similarly be cruel bitch at times... (!)

Ahh, but I so love Boston. Someday... someday...

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:39 PM | Permanent link

October 16, 2005

Startup School

Boston Night

For the first 24 hours of my being in the Boston, it rained...and rained...and rained. From the time I stepped off the plane until Startup School was over, the rain did not let up for an instant.

This made for some awfully soggy walks to and from the Harvard subway stop, but in this atmosphere, nothing can dampen my mood. This conference has been phenomenal. The speakers were fantastic. My voice is horse from meeting and talking with fellow startup schoolers over drinks late into the night - it's been a near religious experience.

I feel that I now have a lot of thinking, and soul searching to do.

"Why shouldn't you do significant things in this one life, however you define significant?"

-- R. Hamming (as quoted in Olin Shivers' talk)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 07:02 PM | Permanent link

October 10, 2005

Interesting People I met at Converge South

Dave (amongst others) on ConvergeSouth.

Here are some cool people I met during the conference:

I know I'm forgetting a lot of people so if we had an interesting conversation and you're not here, I'd love it if you'd let me know!

In Blogging, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 09:32 PM | Permanent link

October 02, 2005

Eliza and Me

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Me and my sis - 2004 (ish).

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:38 PM | Permanent link

October 01, 2005

Planning a trip to Boston

I've been accepted for the Startup School conference at Harvard University, Oct 15 2005. Glancing at the speakers list makes me want to scream like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert (the mere idea of being in the same room as Wozniak does that to me).

So, I'm planning a trip to Boston for that weekend. I've already talked to Amy and Renee. If anyone else from the northeast would like to grab some chowdah while I'm in town, let me know!

Jeff and Jason will be flying in to attend as well.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile, Technology and Software

Posted at 10:09 PM | Permanent link

September 29, 2005

A word on the Tilley Hat

Before we go any further, I wanted to say a few words about my Tilley Hat. Actually, I'll let the hat do the talking. From the inside flap:

Insured against loss, Guaranteed for life

(replaced free if it ever wears out)

It floats, ties on, repels rain, blocks UV rays, and won't shrink. It comes with eight 'brag tags' in the security pocket plus a four-page owner's manual.

Durable nylon; the best british brass hardware; hydrofoil headband for superb anti-sweat comfort; handcrafted with Canadian persnicktiness.

First notice that the Tilley people use words like "Canadian persnickitiness". Mmmm sexy.

Secondly, it's a hat with an instruction manual. These days most software doesn't even come with an instruction manual. That's how badass this hat is.

If you don't have one, let me know if you want one for your birthday.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:11 PM | Permanent link

September 28, 2005

Siesta Key Photos

Vacation was fun! Only one trip to the emergency room! Judging by how excited Ashish gets at the mere mention of intestinal bleeding, I'm sure the medical students who read this blog would find that story fascinating, but I'm not going to go into it here (don't worry, it didn't involve me, and it didn't involve intestinal bleeding).

Anyway, shortly after arriving in Siesta Key, I noticed that my dad brought his Nikon D100 Digital SLR Camera. Score. So, I decided to take some time to learn real digital photography. By "real digital photography" I mean learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO film speed, exposure bracketing, and RAW image manipulation - as opposed to my normal point-and-shoot adventures, wondering why my images come out grainy and bleary afterwards.

Having never taken a course in photography, this all sounds very daunting, which is why I avoided learning it for so many years. As it turns out, however, a half hour's worth of reading the camera manual, a few random websites, and a nice beach to walk while messing with camera settings can get you pretty far.

Here is the result:

Beach Goers

woman_shell.jpg

red_bikini.jpg

photo_woman.jpg

rocky_beach_woman.jpg

Surfers

Learning how to surf is still on my life-long todo list *sigh*.

surfers1.jpg

surfers3.jpg

surfers2.jpg

surfers4.jpg

surfers5.jpg

Scenery

Normally the gulf is eerie glassy calm. This was true for the first few days of our stay, but midweek Hurricane Rita, passing 50 miles south of us, decided to stir up some nice waves.

crashing_water.jpg

dock_wave2.jpg

red_bikini_wide_angle.jpg

old_dock_splash.jpg

rainbow.jpg

Wildlife

lizard.jpg

seagull_shadow.jpg

dead_fish.jpg

Sunset

sunset1.jpg

shelter.jpg

Night Photography

Ok, so capturing images at night is a lot harder than capturing them when the sun is shining. I don't really know what I'm doing yet, but I personally like some of these shots.

night_beach_south.jpg

red_lights.jpg

lit_trees.jpg

Conclusion

Crap, I'm running out of the self-control necessary to prevent myself from dropping $$$$ on a my own digital SLR :(

More photos available in my Siesta Key Photoset!

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:16 PM | Permanent link

September 12, 2005

Women in Computing

Axiom:

The number of women in a given tech company is roughly equal to the number of guys named Steve.

This observation was pointed out to me by a female medical student, perhaps underscoring this point.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 05:04 AM | Permanent link

August 31, 2005

Pandora

Yesterday Jeff introduced me to Pandora.

Give Pandora an artist you like and it automatically creates a radio station it thinks you'll enjoy, comprised of artists that have similar qualities to the one you specified. It's amazingly accurate, and many of the songs/artists in your station will be ones you haven't heard before, making it a great way to discover new music.

No commercials. First ten hours are free, and afterwards it's only $36/year.

Pretty slick. Check it out.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:32 AM | Permanent link

August 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I just finished the latest installment of the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

In a word: wow! I didn't see that ending coming. I somewhat guessed the character who was going to die, but I didn't think it would happen like that!

If you've read the book, let's talk about it.

I'll be posting further thoughts in the comments to this entry. If you haven't yet read the book, I'd recommend you avoid them.

Technorati tags:

In General, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 07:50 AM | Permanent link

July 26, 2005

Spraleigh

Forbes magazine recently ranked Raleigh Durham the #2 place in the nation to do business.

Unfortunately, a sidebar in the same section points out:

"Smart Growth America, a Washington, D.C. land use group, recently ranked the Raleigh-Durham area third worst of 83 metro areas overall for urban sprawl, just behind Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. and Greensboro, N.C."

Ouch...

But, it's true. This town has way too many strip-malls, and getting anywhere requires way too much driving. Oh what I wouldn't give to be able to walk to (work | the grocery store | the bar). Just thinking about I-40 makes me want go to the bar right now.

In Local, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:07 PM | Permanent link

April 23, 2005

Great Coffee Shops in Raleigh

Inside the New World Coffee House

Here are some of the great coffee shops I've discovered in Raleigh over the past year:

Each has free wireless internet, a cozy atmosphere, great music, and a cool clientele.

I don't inherently have anything against the Starbucks that one can find on every street corner. In college, I spent more time at the Starbucks located at the corner of Cedar and Fairmount than I did in class. That was in the olden times, prior to the rise of wireless Internet, however. Nowadays, the fact that coffee shop chains expect you to pay through the nose for wireless internet is enough to get them sacked. Not having to suddenly find myself surrounded by teenagers yapping on their cell phones is a nice added bonus.

In Local, Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:17 PM | Permanent link

April 08, 2005

Holding up cybercafes

Yolanda: This place? A coffee shop?
Pumpkin: Why not? Nobody ever robs restaurants. Bars, liquor stores, gas stations... you get your head blown off sticking up one of them. Restaurants on the other hand, you catch with their pants down. They're not expecting to get robbed. Not as expectant anyway.
Yolanda: I bet you could cut down on the hero factor in a place like this.
Pumpkin: Right, just like banks, these places are insured. Manager? He don't give a fuck. He just wants to get you out the door before you start plugging the diners. Waitresses? Fucking forget it! No way they're taking a bullet for the register. Busboys? Some wetback getting paid a dollar-fifty an hour, really give a fuck you're stealing from the owner? See, I got the idea, last liquor store we held up, all the customers kept coming in?
Yolanda: Yeah.
Pumpkin: And you got the idea of taking their wallets. Now that was a good idea.
Yolanda: Thank you.
Pumpkin: Made more from the wallets than we did from the register.
Yolanda: Yes, we did.
Pumpkin: A lot of customers come into a restaurant.
Yolanda: A lot of wallets.
Pumpkin: Pretty smart, eh?
Yolanda: Pretty smart.

(from Pulp Fiction)

During our discussion on Tuesday, Dave wondered why more people don't hold up cybercafes.

Why not walk into Cafe Cyclo, or Helios with a gun and walk out with $10,000 worth of laptops?

A tip for you aspiring deviants...

Pumpkin: And you got the idea of taking their laptops. Now that was a good idea.
Yolanda: Thank you.
Pumpkin: Made more from the laptops than we did from the register.
Yolanda: Yes, we did.

etc...

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:01 AM | Permanent link

March 26, 2005

Spending a little time with myself

Mmmm...easter weekend.

The girlfriend is gone. The roommate is gone. Damn near all of my friends are gone.

I'm sitting here by myself, watching Garden State, drinking wine, and eating cheese (French Cantal) reminiscent of my time in Paris.

Say...this reminds me of a story:

I’ve always kind of been partial to calling myself up on the phone and asking myself out. You know... (whoops from the audience). Oh yeah, you call yourself up too, huh? Yeah... Well, one thing about it, you’re always around! Yeah, I know. Yeah, you ask yourself out, you know. Some class joint somewhere. The Burrito King or something. You know... Well, I ain’t cheap, you know. Take yourself out for a couple of drinks maybe, you know. Then you’ll be... some provocative conversation on the way home. And park in front of the house, you know, and you... Oh yeah, you´re smooth with it... you know, you put a little nice music on. Maybe you put on like... you know... like shopping music, something that’s not too interruptive, you know. And then, you know, and eh... slide over real nice, you know, say, ’Oh, I think you have something in your eye’. Eh-heh-heh. Well, maybe it’s not that romantic with you, but Christ, I... you know! It ain’t... you know... Take myself up to the porch, and take myself inside. Oh, maybe... I make a little something, a brandy snifter or something. Would you like to listen to some of my back records. I got something here... Well, usually about 2.30 in the morning you’ve ended up taking advantage of yourself and... there ain’t no way around that, you know. Yeah, making the scene with a magazine, there ain’t no way around... I’ll confess, you know, I’m no different, you know. I’m not weird about it or anything. I don’t tie myself up first, I just... you know. I just kind of... spend a little time with myself.

-- Tom Waits, Intro from "Nighthawks At The Diner" (as sent to Raindogs Listserv Discussionlist, October 31, 1999)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:14 AM | Permanent link

March 02, 2005

A typical skier's learning curve

Skiers and snowboarders lounging at the top

As I recounted in my last skiing entry, I've been pleasantly surprised with my progress on the slopes (after only my third time out in my life) and I wanted to write about it while it is still fresh in my mind. I think that it is easy to get intimidated and label yourself "not a skier" if you have never gone by the time you reach your early to mid 20s. I know that I certainly felt this.

I don't think that many people realize just how easy it is to get up to speed and have a lot of fun in the process. Below is my experience with the skiing learning curve. Others may find it useful as a gauge:

Date Location Experience
Winter 2002 Boston Mills *
  • This was my very first time touching skis period and began with the very basics of learning how to put on ski boots, snap into the skis, walk in skis, and go down a bunny hill.
  • I had help from a rather experienced friend, who was a very good instructor.
  • Only about a half day was spent on the slopes.
  • Periodically much hilarity would ensue when I would fall down while standing in the lift line with my skis on and not be able to get up.
  • By the end of it I was able to make it down a fairly small green slope without falling, and was able to make it down a very small blue slope without killing myself (but not without falling).
<three year interlude>
January 2005 Snowshoe
  • Two days were spent on the slopes in total.
  • Even the small slopes at snowshoe are considerably larger than slopes of equivalent difficulty at the imitation resort of Boston Mills.
  • On day one I started off on *real* green slopes right away.
  • By the end of day one I was barely able to make it down certain green slopes without falling.
  • By the end of day two I was able to consistently make it down all green slopes without falling and was able to make it down an easier blue slope without falling.
<one month interlude>
February 2005 Snowshoe
  • Two days were spent on the slopes in total, with the first day including roughly three hours of night skiing.
  • As usual I started off with green slopes, but it quickly became apparent that I could easily make it down any green slope on the mountain without falling (this was quite surprising to me).
  • Early on in the first day I moved on to some easier blue slopes, which I was able to take without falling.
  • I moved on to some intermediate blues, which I was able to initialy take without falling about half the time. Difficult blues would still regularly trip me up.
  • By the end of the trip, I was able to regularly take any intermediate blue slope on the mountain without falling.
  • Though it happend rather infrequently, I would still fall occasionally on blue slopes, and these falls would tend to be considerably more serious than I was used to (as recounted here).
* Boston Mills is a really small ski resort in Akron OH, with a website that should be featured in suck.com. Don't click on the link above if you can help it. UrbanWildernessDesign, the company who designed the Boston Mills site, should be ashamed of themselves. A note to the UrbanWilderness guys when they find this page while searching for themselves in Google: websites that play sound in the background make me want to poke my finger through my eye up into my brain and swirl it around, especially when there is no apparent way to turn the sound off. I would watch network TV if I wanted to listen to advertisements all day. Therapy.

The future:

My next time out, I'm planning on taking some of the harder blue slopes until I can make it down them consistently without falling. I anticipate this taking about a half a day. I then plan on moving onto my first black slope.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:08 PM | Permanent link

March 01, 2005

What happens when you eat a battery?

We got into a heated discussion at lunch today about what would happens if a person eats a battery. Obviously, if the seal on the battery is broken then very bad things happen. But what are the chances that the battery seal will stay in-tact and the battery will simply pass through your system?

One argument that was proposed was that the battery casing was designed to keep the battery acid in, so is it also enough to keep stomach acid out?

Perhaps some of you engineers-turned-med-students would like to chime in?

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 09:43 PM | Permanent link

Snowshoe Skiing Redux

Those of you who know me in real life or otherwise live vicariously through my away messages will know that I went skiing at Snowshoe again this past weekend.

Again, it was a lot of fun! I went up with Jon and Kerry again, only this time a bunch of Kerry's friends met us as well, resulting in fourteen people staying in two condos.

The skiing was very good. After skiing all day Saturday and hitting the hot tub for a bit, we went out for night skiing, a first for me, and very cool. Sunday was about as perfect a day to be on the slopes as one could wish for - sunny and just cold enough to keep you pleasantly cool.

I was surprised with how much I had improved since the last time I went. I fell much less often, but given that I was trying more advanced slopes, the falls that I did take were a bit more serious. During night skiing, I took a particularly hard head over heels fall, losing my poles, skis, goggles, glasses, and hitting my head on the slope. Uf... I think I'll be investing in a helmet before going out again.

I got back on the horse, though, and all in all it was a *very* enjoyable weekend.

I took considerably more pictures this time. All are available in my Snowshoe Skiing February 2005 photo.net folders. Here are some of the highlights:

Snowshoe Village Gratuitous ski lift shot Skiers and snowboarders from the top Surveying the Snowshoe trail map Skiers and snowboarders lounging at the top Jon, Kerry, and Lisa on the lift


In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:12 AM | Permanent link

February 10, 2005

On Physical Affection

Last week I was pretty impressed with myself for having the epiphany, after much observation, that women enjoy laying on top of each other.

I was discussing this theory with some people (a rigorous process of peer review), and Karthik had rather interesting take:

"Actually, I think most people would like to lie on top of each other. People enjoy affection. However, we men have hangups about it. Thus women tend to give and receive more affection (that doesn't involve pseudo violence of some sort) and are more balanced in that aspect of their lives. This correlates to a complaint I have heard from some women about men: that we get too caught up in the physical aspect of a relationship. Perhaps this is because romantic relationships are the only outlet we allow for ourselves to express our sensuality."

-- Karthik Raman

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:20 AM | Permanent link

January 31, 2005

On Skiing

Skiing was a blast! I'm really glad that I went. It was a lot of fun.

Luckily, it turns out that I remembered a lot more than I thought from the only other time I went four years ago (thank you to Ryan Wayne, wherever you are). I wasn't nearly as awful my first time down as I expected to be, and I improved fairly quickly. Although I didn't get quite as many bruises as I expected (in spite of taking quite a few nasty falls), my muscles are still quite sore.

But I think that I might be hooked. Jon was talking about maybe going again in late February. I was wondering if any Ohio (or elsewhere) peeps might be interested in perhaps meeting us in WVA? Just tossing that out.

I snapped a few pictures:

Skiers on the misty mountain top 1 Random lift shot A lonely person on a ski lift Dan, on the lift, not wanting to have his picture taken


More are available at my photo.net Skiing January 2005 folder

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:55 PM | Permanent link

January 07, 2005

A quote from my friend Roger

This is from my friend Roger, who lives in California, has two grown sons, and is certainly much wiser than I:

"A former girlfriend became a bit agitated as her thirtieth birthday approached. It wasn't clear whether she was concerned about her biological clock or something else. But, as her significant other at the time, my duty was to calm her and comfort her.

I told her what I had learned by that time: it isn't reaching a particular age (30 instead of 20s, or 40 instead of 30s) which changes your life--instead, your life changes when you leave home, when you leave school, when you marry (or, I suppose, enter a similarly committed relationship), and when you have children.

So, becoming a parent changes most people, and I now can add another life-changing circumstance to that list: when your parents die. Unfortunately, some children are having to deal with that change because of this tragedy. "

-- Roger Wilner (from here)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:01 AM | Permanent link

December 31, 2004

New Years Eve 2004

2004, we hardly knew ye. You were full of many firsts, both good and bad.

You took me overseas for the first time on a life-defining trip.

You took me to Carolina, to live far away from home for the first time in my life in a permanent fashion.

You brought my first full time job.

You taught you to really cook for myself for the first time.

Unfortunately, you took a good friend from us for the first time. (I'll be thinking of you tonight, Vasu!) But, you also brought new friends as well.

You got me back into the Mac world for the first time in four years.

You brought the demise of old blue and my first new car.

You introduced me to some serious badasses who really changed my way of thinking.

You brought the advent of Podcasting.

You made me quite disappointed in my fellow countrymen, and all too recently brought the worst trajedy in memory.

Of course, there's always other bizarreness, happy times, and sad that I can't even mention.

How did I do on the resolution I made for this year? Well, though I got plenty of implicit rejection from women, never from ten in the same day (I don't think).

Tonight I'm heading for Karthik's house in Mansfield. Will hopefully be seeing many friends I haven't seen in quite some time.

Have a very Happy New Year if I don't talk to you! As always, hope you have someone to kiss tonight!

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 04:20 PM | Permanent link

December 30, 2004

The great white north

This Christmas, Northeast Ohio has as much snow as I've ever seen (and that's saying something after having lived here for 23 years).

The snow is starting to melt now, but here are some pictures that I took a few days ago (notice the amount of snow on the railing and on the picnic table):

My German Shepherd, Max, with his head in the Snow My german shepherd Max, looking slightly snowy My german shepherd, Max, at the top of a snowy staircase My german shepherd, Max, lounging around the snow My german shepherd, Max, in the snow Car burried in snow Icey tree

(All are available at my Photo.net Great white north folder)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:45 AM | Permanent link

December 23, 2004

A tale of flight cancellations on Christmas Eve Eve

This is how it works when you're flying Continental and you're flight gets cancelled on December 23rd:

I go to continental.com the morning of my 5:45pm flight to check in and print my boarding pass. I'm able to do this successfully, and even able to change my seat on the flight. During this process, continental.com apparently neglects to inform me that the flight I just checked-in for has already been cancelled by the FAA due to weather conditions in Cleveland.

Luckily, I decide a few minutes later that it would be a good idea to check if my flight is going to be on-time. I go back to continental.com and check my flight status.

Status: Cancelled

No instructions about what to do about this are listed.

I call Continental customer support at 1-800-300-1547 and select option one for checking flight status. I'm told that I'm being connected, followed promptly by a busy signal.

I call 1-800-300-1547 again, and again select option one. This time I am put on hold for five minutes and am then connected to Juan.

Juan is obviously not a native English speaker and his hispanic accent makes him somewhat hard to understand. He informs me that my flight is indeed cancelled, that all flights going to Cleveland today are being cancelled, that all flights going to Cleveland tomorrow (Christmas eve) are full, and that all flights going to Cleveland on Christmas day are full.

I ask Juan what I'm supposed to do about this. Juan tells me that I can try to get a flight on December 26th or that I can cancel my itinerary and they will apply the money that I spent to a future Continental flight.

I tell him that this is unacceptable, and I will think about what to do about it. I hang up.

Fifteen minutes later, I call 1-800-300-1547 and select option 2 to speak to a customer service representative. I am once again connected to a busy signal.

I call again, and this time I am put on hold for ten minutes before being connected to a woman who's name I can't pronounce. She is also, obviously, not a native English speaker. I explain to her my situation, and ask her what Continental can do for me. She tells me the same thing that Juan did - flights are completely booked on Christmas Eve and on Christmas. However, she also adds that "they are under consideration." When I ask her what "they are under consideration" means, I gather that "they" are deciding what do do about this and that I may be able to get an earlier flight if I call in later. I thank her and hang up.

At 2:30pm, I call 1-800-300-1547. I'm put on hold for 45 minutes. This is enough time for me to surf on over to southwest.com and discover that they have no fewer than five available flights for me to choose from on Christmas Eve. $140 fully refundable dollars later, I have a Southwest e-ticket to Cleveland in hand.

Eventually, I'm connected to Darlene at Continental. Darlene is a native English speaker, and although she has the same story to tell as the previous two service reps, she is considerably more apologetic about it. She doesn't seem to know anything about "they are under consideration," but makes the very reasonable suggestion that I might want to stop by the airport because Continental will be more receptive to giving me a full refund on the spot if I speak with someone in person. I thank her and hang up.

On my way home from work, I stop by the airport. Initially, I speak with a male service rep who also looks at the flight schedules in his computer and gives me that "guess you won't be home for Christmas, huh?" look, completely lacking any kind of empathy. He has to run and I am handed off to Ashley. I tell Ashley that I would like a refund for my flight to Cleveland, but if at all possible, I would like to keep my direct flight back to Raleigh on January 2nd. Ashley tells me that this is impossible, that I can get a refund for the whole roundtrip or no refund at all. I tell Ashley to refund me for the entire trip.

I go home, cruise on over to southwest.com, and $140 fully refundable dollars later I have an e-ticket back to Raleigh for January 2nd.

By comparison, the cheapest one-way flight from Cleveland to Raleigh that is listed on continental.com for Jan 2nd is a seven hour, two connection ordeal with stops in Providence, Rhode Island and Newark, New Jersey. This, at a non-refundable price tag of $337.80. If that isn't to one's taste, one could opt to pay a non-refundable $460.10 for a direct flight.

The End

A philosophical question we can raise from this story is "What good is a full-service airline when their core service is worse than a discount airline?"

Consequently, if I were a betting man, I'd buy Southwest (LUV), and sell Continental (CAL).

[Update: I arrived in Cleveland, safe and sound, on Christmas eve. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas!]

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 07:03 PM | Permanent link

November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving Vacation 2004

I've been sick to death since I arrived that I somehow managed to forget the AC adapter for my Powerbook G4 back in North Carolina, in spite of the fact that I specifically had an item for it in my OmniOutliner pre-trip checklist. The only solution that the local CompUSA and Best Buy can offer is a $120 AC and DC targus adapter. Unfortunately, that's $50 more than I'm willing to spend for such a beast, but hardly surprising considering that Apple insists on charging $80 for their own plain old Powerbook AC adapter. If I get the chance then I will try to stop by the Apple Store at Legacy Village to see if they have a more reasonably-priced generic adapter, but my guess is that I will probably go without until I can get back home.

This throws a monkey wrench into my plans of transferring a few gigs worth of media to my parents' computer, and parking myself at a cafe to do some Lisp coding during my time off from work. Such is the cruel life that I lead. Thus far, I haven't had time for such activities, anyway.

Thanksgiving day, itself, was rather nice. It was spent at my parents' house with my immediate family, grandparents, and a handful of aunts, uncles, and cousins from my Dad's side (it's funny how I all of a sudden feel completely comfortable calling it my "parents' house" when it was "home" for so many years). Events of note include the fact that my Dad lent me his Nikon D100 camera to use for the day. I have absolutely fallen in love with the machine, and this is probably a bad thing in the near-term given the price-tag. Boys with toys... Here are some of the photos I took:

Grandpa Staiger Elizabeth Grandma Staiger Grandpa Staiger, Sam, and my Uncle John My brother, Sam, cutting the turkey Max waiting for scraps

(All are available at my Photo.net Thanksgiving 2004 folder)

I also won $50 playing poker. I think I'm going to quit my job and become a professional poker player.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 08:16 PM | Permanent link

November 23, 2004

And now a word from Matt McCurry

21:56:50 oysterjelly56: hey does case offer any online courses you know of?
21:57:01 oysterjelly56: or do you even remember case?
21:57:18 oysterjelly56: you know, that place you went to before you fell ass backwards into money?
21:57:26 joshstaiger: hahaha
21:57:31 joshstaiger: no, not that I know of
21:57:35 oysterjelly56: aight

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:53 PM | Permanent link

November 15, 2004

Steelers-Browns

To my complete surprise, while visiting Ohio, my Uncle John once again came up with tickets for the Steelers-Browns game this weekend. Thusly I was able to keep my impressive streak of attending Steelers v. Browns home games and leaving wishing I hadn't (three years running now).

I have been calling for Butch Davis's head since last year after he has shown complete ineptitude at managing the clock, and especially after the whole Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb debacle. A year later it appears that the house of cards is well into it's collapse.

At least it was a nice day and I got some decent photos.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:52 AM | Permanent link

November 13, 2004

The friends-family visitation dilemma

Having attended a University in fairly close proximity to home has had unexpected consequences for the infrequent nature of my post-graduation visits.

Whenever I come into town, my time necessarily needs to be split between spending time with my family and spending time with my many friends who still live in the area.

Invariably, whenever I'm spending time with one group, I feel somewhat guilty that I'm not spending enough time with the people in the other.

I suppose that the problem will become less-so as friends graduate, finish grad school, and move away, but in that case perhaps the solution is worse than the problem.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 02:26 PM | Permanent link

Photos from this morning's walk

Ah, back in good old overcast Bath, OH.

These pictures were taken at the O'Neill Woods Metropark.


Uploading photos using a dial-up connection is a punishment unbefitting of those located at Guantanamo Bay.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:08 PM | Permanent link

October 28, 2004

A slammin' social atmosphere

I, for one, will not be donating one cent to Case until the University stops pulling shit like this (taken from the banner advertisement here).

Way to go, Hundert...you ass.

At least we can say that we were the last class to see the glory days of what was once a respectable academic institution.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:25 AM | Permanent link

October 24, 2004

Chicken Marsala

Gastronomy:

Tonight I made chicken marsala courtesy of the recipe at Cooking for Engineers (very cool site by the way - there is an RSS feed).

It came out pretty well. Good stuff :)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 08:42 PM | Permanent link

October 12, 2004

On Case getting artsy

"A university trying to shed its geeky science reputation and attract more liberal arts students will get a chance to shine nationally Tuesday night."

(similarly quoted from three different articles prior to the vp debate)

What the fuck is this, high school? Since when did being a university focused on science and technology become bad thing?

Perhaps while President Hundert M.D. was psychiatrizing around, he neglected to notice that the people making the most money, doing the most interesting things over the past twenty years have been geeks.

And the last time I checked, no all geeks are depressing and weird (just most of us).

Let's become mediocre all around and spend a lot of money on marketing in the process. That's certainly the ticket. Those engineering professors that are leaving? We never liked them anyway.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:30 PM | Permanent link

September 17, 2004

Paul Graham on Essays

Paul Graham is such a badass. I love his newest essay on essays.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 09:56 PM | Permanent link

September 11, 2004

Books

I think that pretty soon I'm going to have to institute a moratorium on buying books. I'm buying books at like four times the rate that I can read them. Damn you, humanity, for writing so many interesting things to read. Damn you, Wake County Public Library system, for not having most of said interesting things. And damn you, George Bush, just for good measure.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 02:40 PM | Permanent link

September 06, 2004

Labor Day

Gastronomy:

To celebrate the holiday, last night I made Bok Choi and Beef with garlic and pepper in the Didi He tradition. Don't know how close I actually came, but it was yummy anyway :)

dinner

Saw Garden State on Friday night. I really liked it, a lot. Looks like Zach Braff really has some potential. Of course, now I am totally in love with Natalie Portman's character in the film. If only things like that could happen in real life...but no.

I also totally need to get the soundtrack to this movie, which I thought was fantastic.

Will try to post more later.

Currently listening to:
Lazy Boy Dash from the album Bring Your Own Stereo by Jimmie's Chicken Shack

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 09:51 AM | Permanent link

September 04, 2004

The New Car

So I finally bought a new car: a Honda Civic EX.

It drives quite a bit different from the Jimmy (obviously), but I've been quite happy with it so far.

Got everything I wanted - front and side airbags, ABS, cruise control. Even got a sunroof.

But y'know, it's the little things like actually having air conditioning in 90 degree weather, and not having to get nauseous from inhaling fumes from the gasoline the car is leaking that make all the difference ;)

I'm also hoping it will save me quite a bit on gas each year (yay for finally ditching the SUV culture).

I actually bought the car from CarMax, which saved me quite a bit of money over what I would have paid at a normal Honda dealership (I shopped around). The downside is that I couldn't get the exact color I wanted.

The color is actually kind of funky. It's a really, *really* dark red, which almost looks black unless you look at it in direct sunlight. Kinda cool though. I'll try to snap a picture and update this entry next time I get a chance.

Karthik tells me that Starbucks chicks dig Honda Civics.

23:03:24 karthik007: have you picked up some hunnies in it?
23:03:34 joshstaiger: haha
23:03:37 joshstaiger: not yet
23:03:45 karthik007: come on, Josh
23:03:48 joshstaiger: not exactly a hunnies type of car I'm afraid
23:03:58 karthik007: at Starbucks it is!
23:04:11 joshstaiger: really?
23:04:14 karthik007: oh yeah
23:04:19 karthik007: is it manual?
23:04:21 joshstaiger: no
23:04:23 joshstaiger: automatic
23:04:36 karthik007: well, not quite as hip, but still pretty badass
23:04:51 joshstaiger: what makes you think that starbucks chicks dig civics?
23:06:45 karthik007: although the Starbucks goer, thinks of oneself as "on the cutting edge" (which you are, dont get me wrong), there is a tendency to think past "does Civic mean lame" to "Civic means dependability"
23:08:06 joshstaiger: ahh
23:08:07 joshstaiger: cool
23:08:14 joshstaiger: I like Starbucks chicks in general
23:08:27 joshstaiger: I guess I'll have to drop that into my conversations
23:08:27 karthik007: and everyone who's had a mocha carrabiata knows that dependable = sexy
23:08:33 joshstaiger: hahahaha
23:09:47 karthik007: yeah, when they ask if some motorcycle is yours, just give 'em the JoshStaiger laugh and say "Do I look like I'm that wreckless"?
23:09:56 joshstaiger: hahaha
23:10:24 karthik007: and when they say "Yes!"
23:10:41 karthik007: respond with "well, that's only because I'm wreckless with my heart, baby"
23:11:14 karthik007: "never with my fuel efficiency"

Well, I'm off to Starbucks. I'll see ya'll later...

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:52 PM | Permanent link

July 11, 2004

The iHop Episode

So, this morning (well, actually it was more like this afternoon ;) Adam, Tara, John, Phil and I made a run to iHop for "breakfast".

For some reason which doesn't quite make sense to me the closest iHop to us is all the way over by NC State.

Firstly, we were seated just a few feet away from a table of three freshman-ish looking NC State girls, and after deep conversations involving bras, naturally one of them proceeded to reminisce about her "first time".

So, anyway, after receiving our food, and while I was working on my eggs, the healthy glob of whipped cream decided that it wanted to slide off the top of my blueberry pancakes, off the plate, off the side of the table, onto me knee, and then onto the floor.

Then of course, as I was trying to cut one of my suasage links, it sprayed my shirt with sausage juice.

Fan-TAS-tic. Definitely my morning ;)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:26 PM | Permanent link

June 28, 2004

Y'know what sucks?

Y'know what sucks? To be flirting with a girl, and to start really thinking that I might really like this girl only to later find out that she is really Christian. This has happened a few times now and it makes me really sick. Apparently this is my cross to bear.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk - Liked it. There are moments in this book that are positively hilarious, and there are some pretty insightful quotes scattered amongst classic morbid Chuck Palahniuk situations. The character of the mother got old and distracting pretty quickly, unfortunately, but it wasn't enough to ruin the book.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 12:59 AM | Permanent link

June 06, 2004

SWA and the GPS incident

This really happened on my way flying back to Raleigh this past week.

~1/2 hour into my Southwest Airlines flight to Nashville while flying through cloudy skies (no visibility):

Flight Attendant: Attention passengers, is there anyone on board who has a GPS device?
...
Flight Attendant: Passengers, if there is anyone who has a GPS device, could you please page a flight attendant...because...apparently...we don't know where we are.
...
Me and the very large black man sitting across the aisle from me both look at each others with looks of "what the hell?" on our face
...
Flight Attendant: Just kidding...

Flight Attendant: We were just kidding, we were just trying to play a practical joke on one of our passengers, Mr. Joe Such-and-such...
...
Flight Attendant: Really, we were just kidding, everything is fine...

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:18 PM | Permanent link

May 30, 2004

Home

Me, my Dad, and my Doggie:

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:14 AM | Permanent link

May 22, 2004

College

I wanted to comment a bit on graduation this past weekend before moving on for good. Unfortunately I'm far too tired for perfect grammar or flowing prose...or even...let's face it - general coherency. But I really wanted to get something down while this is all still fresh in my mind.

I was really glad that I went back last weekend. It was so nice to see the familiar smiles and places. However, at the same time it was pretty sad - much more so than when I left in January. This time around things just had a much stronger feeling of finality - in large part because (most) everyone else is moving on this time as well, but also I think in part because I've already had a taste of what the real world is like and heading back for that brief moment brought back so many memories of the past four years and what I've already left behind. On Monday afternoon, I had a chance to take one last walk across campus, as I had done so many times before, and as I did the memories just came flooding back. It occurred to me that I might want to put down some notes. Right now this is mostly for me, but if you want to read it, it's here, and maybe someday I'll go back and flesh it out.

College in a nutshell:

Freshman Year

I remember Angelie stopping by our suite that first night in Michelson Freshman year. Bizarrely enough, I ran into her this past weekend out of the blue - she's in her second to last year of med school now...wow.

My very first class - M2 with Weiss.

Hanging out in suite 420 with Tim. Naveen, crazy Luke....

Rushing Phi Tau that year. Joining the fraternity, taking that volleyball trip to Wittenberg...and then announcing a little later at chapter in front of all the brothers that I decided not to join (thank god, too).

Taking the Michelson refrigerator from the basement that one crazy night...and then losing it (honestly, how does one misplace a full-sized refrigerator?).

Getting drunk for the first time - and not liking it.

Doc Oc, Joel Kraft... Winning our 131 advanced recitation with our Othello project and our crazy AI scheme for it.

Studying Chem 111 w/ Erise, Liz Steva, and the gang.

Climbing onto the roof of the Rainbow Babies' parking deck (awesome view).

Vincenzo "Vinny" Liberetore as instructor for EECS 233 in the spring...

Summer 2001

Erik Bosco for M4...asked me if I was high when I would answer questions in class... I literally was completely convinced that I was going to fail that class. It had me all freaked out to the point where I broke the bad news to my parents on my birthday... I ended up with a B.

Car got stolen from the lot across from Fribley.

Summer suitemates...Joel, Justin, and Greg...the gummy worm incident leading to the even more ominous spoiled milk cereal bowl incident. Getting lost in the ghetto on the way to the Alkaline Trio concert and having to ask for directions at that really *really* shitty convenience store.

The hard rock cafe and lacy underall.

Sophomore Year

Being an orientation leader.

Matt Ho, Ran, Jason...

Being in one of the "pioneer" coed suites.

Getting *really* drunk for the first time - and liking it.

Suite getting busted at the beginning of the year...without my being there.

Two keggers in our suite (man that was a crazy year).

Parties, parties, parties...

Climbing on top of Carlton Commons.

Going in the tunnels under campus. Going into skeleton that was the Peter B. Lewis construction site - getting on the roof (you have no idea how cool that was).

Michael Branicky - for EECS 343 - discovering that he's my hero.

George Ernst.

Sept 11..., the helicopter crash....

Interviewing for coops. Getting rejected by IBM (and nine others) the first time around.

Falling in love for the first time.

Telling her how I felt about her.

Taking a job with Sadia - and not telling the coop department :).

Summer 2002

Working in Hudson for Sadia. Eating at Kitty's restaurant with my boss on the first day.

Turning 21.

Meeting some of the "Howe" people.

Thinking seriously about law school.

Strongbad

Junior Year

Another year...another coed suite. Lisa totally cracked me up.

Realizing the dividends that an investment in Starbucks pays.

Todd Oakley the Linguistics prof.

Parties on top of parties on Belfield...and stumbling home a lot.

Homecoming and the car tag incident.

EECS 391 - having the only good project in the class and realizing just how stupid most CS students are.

Sipping gingerbread lattes, typing code/papers/reports on the laptop, and gazing out the Starbucks window at the snowflakes coming down - I'm really going to miss that.

Having my heart broken for the first time... It really sucks, bad.

Chuck's Diner.

Shouts out the Jeff Hunter, Kurt Hare, Evan Perry, and Christina G. Thanks for sticking by me when I needed it.

Nailing the IBM interview.

Being introduced to The Ladder Theory by Adam.

Rounding out the year at Cedar Point with Anders, Ashish, & Nicole.

Summer 2003

Arriving in NC - living far away from home for the first time.

Having a blast on the job - and blowing them away. Meeting tons of really cool coops - Jeff, Andy, Brian, Danny, Kevin, Adam, Christy, Xtine... and on and on. Hope you're all doing well, wherever you are!

Foosball and Kung Fu.

Hitting the bars... Chillin' and Grillin'.

The Outer Banks trip.

So much fun!

(1/2) Senior Year

Howe, and becoming close with far too many awesome people to count. So many great times and awesome experiences. So many great conversations. To mention any handful of experiences here would not do justice to all of the great ones I would be leaving out...so I'll just leave it for now. I love you all and will really miss you.

Saying goodbye...Europe...and now the real world.

I don't think I really appreciated just how much I would miss that place until now...no matter how depressing it was at times.

And now for the next chapter...

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:54 AM | Permanent link

May 21, 2004

Coffeeshop girls

Dammit...

Why is it that I fall in love with every pretty girl I see studying at bookstores and/or coffee shops?

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:45 PM | Permanent link

February 21, 2004

Vienna Teng

Vienna Teng is quite possible the perfect woman. Saw her on the CBS early show this morning. She's a software engineer turned musician...and with a name like "Vienna" no less! Apparently she's also atheist.

Vienna, if you're reading this, will you marry me?

(or am I being a bit too forward?)

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 08:18 PM | Permanent link

January 11, 2004

The Jar Quote

"Women are superior to men in every way...except for opening jars."

-Matt McCurry
1/10/04

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:31 PM | Permanent link

January 07, 2004

The Family

family.jpg

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:24 AM | Permanent link

December 30, 2003

Wine and other anecdotes

Drinking wine is one of the things that I really want to become "good" at, but invariably after every time that I have a wine that I really like, I can never remember the name of it. Therefore I am going to start making a list of wines that I like. I will start by declaring that Bogle Merlot is a good red wine that I really like.

Maybe I will eventually make a separate page dedicated to this project.

On the same topic of beverages, I am also a big fan of green tea, and apparently the Japanese gyokuro is one of the best. I'm going to have to try it.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:49 PM | Permanent link

October 24, 2003

Second Normal Form

(spoken with a Turkish accent)

"I am not going to tell you what second normal form is (2NF), because after learning what first normal form (1NF) and third normal form (3NF) are, I am sure that your intellectual curiosity has been peaked and after you get out of this class, you will run home to your rooms and open your book to read what second normal form is. Before you take a sip from your can of beer, you will do this, I am sure."

-Gultekin Ozsoyoglu
10/23/03

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 07:02 PM | Permanent link

June 08, 2003

Rockclimbing Photos

Here are some of the photos from rockclimbing a few weeks ago that I have been meaning to post. Still waiting on those skydiving pics...


The group


Shim


Jason

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 04:31 PM | Permanent link

June 01, 2003

Skydiving!

I jumped!

Skydiving was incredible! What an experience!

I am so glad that I went through with it, and I would definitely do it again (in fact, I probably will sometime)!

Standing in that open doorway, looking out at the ground 11,000+ ft below is just completely unreal...and then falling...flipping over...catching one last glance at the plane as you tumble...and then the wind rushing up at you. There's nothing like it. Not even close.

Looking down at the ground below you, rushing up at you at 120 mph (yet looking so still) and knowing that there is nothing around to hold you upů The whole thing barely registers until you are a few seconds into your fall, and then it's just like "Damn, who would have ever thought that I would be in this situation right now?" And you're just there for a full minute...falling...and it doesn't even feel like you're falling...more like just floating there. And then the 'chute opens and things are just so peaceful and you look around and down and up at your parachute holding you up now, and again, it hits you that you're just there in the middle of the sky with nothing else around but your instructor behind you.

It's amazing. I literally cannot put it into words.

As we were coming down, I guess the wind wasn't fully cooperating so we missed the drop zone by a good mile and ended up landing in the middle of some farmer's corn field :) I bet that they really get pissed about the skydivers around there, but I'm told that to miss the drop zone is unusual. The weather was just unusually nasty the day that we went...and thank goodness that we get a little window where conditions were right and could actually jump.

Of course, not everyone that went got so lucky (or maybe they're breathing a sigh of relief, even though they really should be disappointed ;). There were seven of us in total who went...all intern IBMers. Of the seven, only three of us got to actually jump. The weather was pretty flaky all day. We were originally scheduled to jump at noon, but shortly after we arrived at The Skydiving Place, the rain started pouring down and we had to wait a good three or four hours or so to get our "window." After my group jumped, the others got all suited up to go, but unfortunately the weather turned stormy again and they didn't get another good window of weather before we had to leave at sundown. I felt bad about that. Especially for Pratik, who organized the whole thing and was so excited about going. Ah well, it was good being able to get to know everyone who went, and I hope that they will get there chance to go for real shortly.

Quynh, especially, really cracks me up. I really like her a lot :) When we were first going that morning, she claimed that she was feeling "sick," and "shouldn't jump today, but maybe some other time," and that she was just "along to watch the guys jump," but after my group jumped and I and the others came back raving about how amazing of an experience it was, and I told her that I would definitely do it again, she was signing the paperwork and suiting up in no time :) Again, too bad that she and the others didn't actually get to go :(

The absolute worst part of the experience was the anticipation, just like everything else. I'm really glad that I decided to go so spur-the-moment (at 8pm Friday night - the night before). Otherwise I would have been agonizing over this for weeks with many sleepless nights. As it turns out, I only had to endure one :)

The release forms were also really nasty. "By signing this, you acknowledge that you understand that skydiving is an extremely hazardous sport and that serious injury or death may result..." Makes you really sick to your stomach right before you are about to go...that "holy shit, what the hell am I doing?" feeling :) But in hindsight, I think that's part of the fun (even if it really wasn't at the time). When you're standing in that doorway, and during the fall, none of that comes to mind at all.

If I ever go again, and I think I probably will someday, I definitely want to look into training to jump by myself. This time it was a tandem jump, with my instructor strapped to my back, doing all of the important stuff like pulling the ripchord. That means that much less training is necessary for the novice skydiving student like me. And by the way, thank you very much to my instructor, Darren, for doing an excellent job and helping to put me at ease!

I guess that's all I have to say about that. Words just don't do the experience justice. There really is nothing like it. I highly recommend that anyone and everyone who has even the most remote interest give it a shot. I assure you, you will not regret it at all. I wouldn't doubt that it would become a regular hobby of mine if it weren't so friggin' expensive ($130/jump), but it is definitely well worth it.

I will be posting pictures, as soon as everyone can coordinate and send them around over email...


The group before jumping.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:06 PM | Permanent link