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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas and stuff

I recently returned from Kentucky to visit my relatives, as well as to spend time with my lovely Rachel :-) We had a great time, and seeing my family(on my Dad's side) was very cool. We stayed with my Uncle Norb.

I found a couple cool websites. First, this is a cool website putting a Christian faith in current context: Godspy. The other site is a pretty innovative investing site that will even let you try their service with $10k of play money for 30 trading days I think: Foliofn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Principle of Equivalent Trade

I've recently been watching an anime series called Full Metal Alchemist...

In this series(I've seen 29 of 50 episodes), a strong theme is that if you create something, do something, change something, whatever, you must give back anything you take away. This is the Principle of Equivalent Trade.

The main bent of this series is that there are alchemists with amazing abilities to "transmutate" things. These abilities seem almost like magic, but they insist that they're scientists. The alchemists especially relate the Principle of Equivalent Trade to every aspect of their lives.

What does this say about our reality? It is the case that every action has consequences, an equal and opposite reaction. To live good lives, we should give as much as we take, and replace anything we destroy. The Principle of Equivalent Trade.
This is justice, integrity, character. Realizing this fact.

What does this say about our God? Only God can truly create. Only God can truly destroy. When He created the universe, this was a truly amazing miracle, because it goes outside our conception of Equivalent Trade. And God set this in our hearts, all these things, so that we can work at one with the universe. And His law, given to the Israelites, is an extension of Equivalent Trade that we are to use for our lives. To repent for your sins is to give back something you have taken. Following these things will make everything exist in harmony.

But the biggest thing God did is unfathomable to everyone, even those who accept and embrace it. The sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross, in all its solemnity, yet reveals the greatest joy the world has ever seen! The world is redeemed. Yes, this means ALL humans are redeemed. We can now enter heaven, and be in communion with God, the Great Being that binds us all into one. Being redeemed means we have the potential, that we are now able to enter into heaven when we leave this frail body For we can never fully repay all the things we take. Our nature causes us to sin even when we want to do good. We all know this in our hearts. By this, justice says we should be condemned for what we do.

To be at one with God, who is love, all we need to do is accept his love for us, to accept that Jesus did indeed redeem us and that he died to save us from ourselves, our sins, from our ignorance of Equivalent Trade.

We have nothing to lose by this, and everything to gain. Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life", and "no one reaches the Father except by" Jesus. God grants power to his people. Christ repays all our sin for us, without anything more from us than our love. In Christ we are great, a sight to behold. And all this is given freely :-) All this is good. It eases the heart.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Finals and such

Well my last class of the semester was on Friday, and now I'm doing my final assignments for my classes, due to be over on Saturday the 18th. I expect it will take all that time to finish them. Please pray that my studies go well this next week.

Tonight I went to an awesome Navs Christmas party!

We got to talk, and then we had a White Elephant gift exchance and I'm very happy with what I received :-)

For my present I put a Best Buy coupon in a huge box filled with styrofoam peanuts and taped it with address labels. A nice girl named Barbie got the second steal of my present so I guess she'll be getting discounted CDs and DVDs for her family :-)

After that we were taught to dance swing and got to dance that quite a bit through the night. We also danced The Electric Slide and The Macarena. And I got to break out in my dancing quite a bit and get a nice workout. :-) My specialty is dancing to music with a fast beat and a slow bass under beat, essentially nerve and heart energy combined.

I'll post a picture of me dancing when I get it.

Now back to work for me! >_<

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Coming back to MD!

For all of you in MD who have been dying to see me, I will be visiting MD for 10 days, from November 19th to the 29th :-) I hope to see you all then. It'll be a blast!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Greetings from AZ

I'm in a suburb of Phoenix right now, and I'm enjoying it a lot =D My hosts are awesome, and they are being very generous, driving me places and such. The wedding I'm here for is today, so I hope that'll go well. I went to ASU last night, saw I Heart Huckabees, went to Fatburger and ate a Fatburger, and went back to my friend's apartment until my ride came. I go back to IL tomorrow. Good times.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Grad School Funding!

I recently got confirmation that I'm being offered a research assistantship at University of Illinois. It's a project being headed by Professor Richard Sproat in my Department of Linguistics. The project I'll be working on is to automate the task of locating "named entities", i.e. things like proper nouns, within text of different languages. Should be interesting.

I must take no credit for getting this position. It was all God's fault :-P I came to Illinois not knowing exactly how I'd be funded and was fully prepared to have to take out loans. The head of the department said they had no more funding. But I trusted that God would provide for me. Soooo, there just happened to be this position that opened up which my last job qualified me for. How neat ;-)

Here's a picture of me that I took today!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Boycot Kodak!

I came across this article on Slashdot where I learned that Kodak has won a lawsuit against Sun Microsystems for violating an obscure patent that Kodak holds.

The suit involved Sun's Java language, which has served programmers and users in extraordinary ways for many years now.

Kodak isn't even using this patent, and I'm sure Sun didn't know they were violating it. But regardless, Kodak is now evil and so I am adding to my public forum a call for people to decry this action and send generally bad vibes in the direction of Kodak HQ.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Beautiful Days

In Illinois there are many beautiful days, at least in the summer. There generally aren't storm systems that give you a week of no sun and drizzly rain like in MD. There's lots of sun like today. We had a great game of ultimate frisbee at 4 today on the South Quad.

I've also started going to the Shotokan Karate class at the university(Monday and Wednesday nights at 7PM). The first class was a nice workout with familiar exercizes that I love. There will be difficulties with small differences in technique formation, but it's more important for me to just have people to train with.

My classes have very much reading and I'm not used to it yet. Still getting back into school mode, but I am rather distracted for significant reasons :-P Generally I'm getting my work done, though.

Oh, by the way, don't ever get Z-Tel phone service. I used them for four months when I was living in Hyattsville and even though I cancelled they're still sending a bill. Pretty crappy. I've moved three times since I cancelled with them. I hope this gets into some Google searches for people researching this company!

On a brighter note, Navs here is great! But, I still need to get in a Bible Study so I don't slack off too much in my devotions.

Also, there's Smoothie King here :-D And I went there last night with my roommate. He'd never had a smoothie before so it was a genuine experience for him.

Monday, August 30, 2004

These are some pictures...

I have posted 14 pictures here for all to see where I'm living and going to school. Click here to see all the pictures at once.

More sun and people studying outside on the main quad Posted by Hello

A sunny day on campus Posted by Hello

Some Navs at Matt Hudson's house. Matt is in the foreground on the right in the black shirt. Posted by Hello

Some of the Navs here playing Halo on XBox :D From left: Christine, Forrest, Wookkyun, Ben Posted by Hello

The Foreign Languages Building where the Linguistics department is located. Posted by Hello

Some linguists getting a tour of the library from a kooky tour guide. Notice his arm expression! Posted by Hello

Interesting doorframe at the library Posted by Hello

The lake just behind where I live! ^^ Posted by Hello

The Illini Union Posted by Hello

This is the main quad Posted by Hello

Taste of the Illinois campus Posted by Hello

The house is a little blurry :-P Posted by Hello

The backyard Posted by Hello

My room Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Classes and Computer

So, my classes have started and things are settling down a slight little bit, but I still have a lot to do. I'm taking 3 courses and auditing one. They are all good so far. I'm liking my living situation, this town, and the university(University of Illinois) a lot. It's a fun place(for me) and there are lots of interesting people I'm meeting.

I've started doing stuff with the Navigators group serving this campus. It's comparable to UMD's group in terms of activities, size, and focus. I'm glad I have this group to lean on just as I did at UMD. I've already gone to a barbeque where we played frisbee, gone to dinner, gone to a movie, played Halo, etc...I imagine the Bible Studies will begin soon.

I just bought a notebook computer off of ebay. It's a Toshiba Satellite M35-S320, brand new, supposedly. It doesn't have exactly the specs I wanted, as the processor is a bit slower, and the hard drive a bit smaller, but it's an excellent deal($1400) and the seller has a good record. So I'm happy with my purchase.

I also ordered the data link for my cell phone, so when that gets here I'll post some pictures I have on my phone.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Arrived In Illinois

I'm finally here in Champaign, Illinois! I'm starting a PhD program in Linguistics here soon. I like the town so far. I've taken some pictures with my cell phone and I'll post them as soon as I can figure out how to transfer them. I'm working on getting everything squared away before classes start on Wednesday. I've got most things done, but getting a driver's license and registration in Illinois is proving to be a pain, even though it is probably the most important thing on my agenda.

I'm living in a small 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath townhouse which is well-kept by a Chinese guy named Rick. He's pretty cool and is being pretty helpful. I just got hooked up to the internet today and I took a walk around campus. I've been to the Foreign Languages Building, where the Linguistics department is located, and I've also been to the Illini Union, which is pretty nice, warm and cozy with plenty of ammenities. There are a couple art galleries there, and in one lounge there's a piano and a guy was playing a slow calming piece on it. I also walked down to the art building and took pictures of that, but I got there too late to go in. There's an art museum/gallery adjoined to the department's building by a sun-drenched lounge.

My Dad visited for two days following my arrival. We spent time together taking care of errands for me and sampling various restaurants in the area. The night before he left, we ate at a little Thai Cafe near campus. It was very cute and pretty decent. The cafe was painted in a lime green and bright orange, with little artsy touches everywhere.

Very cool. That's all for now.

Monday, July 26, 2004

My Friends Rock

In case I haven't mentioned that before...

This weekend was great :-)

I think last night was a complex mathematical proof by party-interaction that I have the best friends(and Mommy) in the whole world. After a raucous game of frisbee, we headed up to my Uncle's house for my going away party. This party had been planned for a month or so, and my Mom had been working since Saturday night to prepare a feast for all my friends. Of course everyone loved the meal, and by dessert were completely stuffed :-) We watched the classic home video of me when I was five years old, which has some hilariously embarressing scenes!

My friends are great because when I look at them all enjoying each other around the table, I see a little of myself in each of them, and I think: these friends, together, show how I am and how I ought to be. It was perfect.

My Granny gave me a gift: a leather carrying case for a notebook computer. This was a perfect and coincidental complement to the envelope Alexei handed me. It was a check for a new computer, a notebook. I was so shocked, and I was crying and so happy. All my friends had pitched in enough for me not to have to worry about getting something that I really wanted.

I am confident of my path now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

How To Fit Two Car-Loads Into One Car

Since I'm moving to Illinois in less than a month, I'm thinking about how I can move my belongings. On June 30th I made a decision to get rid of all my furniture and move back to Columbia to my friend's house. I have accomplished this feat, and happily I'm now able to move all my stuff in about an hour. I know this because I moved again on July 15th. But this still takes up about two car loads. I'm very good at throwing things away(that is, I'm an anti-pack rat). But still it's difficult to reduce everything you own to fit into a little 1997 Toyota Corolla.

One thing I can do is to not use any sort of container for my clothes. Since clothes are rather amorphous, they are very efficient to put right on top of things. Of course I have a very large duffel bag and a hamper to take so I'll fill those as much as I can. But I imagine I can also leave some of my clothes such as suits which I tend not to wear. I can leave my collection of Nolan Ryan cards/memorabelia(takes up a whole box). I can probably get rid of some junk. You may not realize it, but if you have never moved for real, you might think I have a lot of stuff. But if you've never moved, you could probably fill about 8 cars with your stuff(talking to younger people here). When I moved out of my house, I filled 9 trashbags with clothes I didn't want anymore! You can multiply this by 2 if you're a female. :-P

Also, here's a picture of a kitty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Lineage 2

Recently my friends have gotten me addicted to an MMORPG called Lineage 2. It's one of those monster mashing games with pretty nice graphics and such. It uses the UT2K4(Unreal Tournament 2004) graphics engine. You basically have Middle Earthish character classes, fighter or mage, and you do quests, get items, make friends, etc...

And no I'm not paying for it...yet ::twitch::

But it costs $15/month and my friend Alexei has an account on which I have my character stored. So yes I'm mooching as usual. It also keeps me from overdoing it on the play time. But hey, I'm going to grad school soon so I won't have any money at all in any case.

My character is called AngelGuardian and he's a mage elf. I enjoy joining monster hunting parties to act as the healer. Anyway, happy gaming!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Beach At Dusk

you walk
along the waves
while the moon
washes your feet

Friday, June 25, 2004

Concert and The Terminal

So last night I went to the Denison Marrs concert. I drove for 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to Lakeland, FL, which is the hometown of Denison Marrs. They played at this simply gigantic Assembly of God church. I got there a bit early so I hung out a bit and got myself oriented. I met a few people at the church. There was a decent female-led group that opened the concert called LONA. Your standard CCM-styled band.

Denison Marrs was great. They played just how I thought they would. Their drummer was so intense and they all loved what they were playing. They played a few new songs, a couple off Then Is The New Now, one each from the other two albums. Their "Ultraviolet" is simply amazing in concert. If you don't have this song on your computer you should ask me for it. It's probably their best song.

I saw The Terminal today. It was one of those "cute" movies. At least that's what ran through my mind when I saw it. Tom Hanks does an excellent job pulling off a Bulgarian-ish accent. The most interesting concept of the movie is the idea of being a citizen of nowhere. As the movie puts it, Viktor Navorski is quite simply "unacceptable". He cannot go home to Krakhozia(made up country, probably taken from the city Krakow) and he cannot enter US soil. He's in a sort of limbo. So he is forced into the world of the airport employees, who are still transients at the airport, even though they are regular. I also thought his romance with a..err.."loose" flight attendant was done well and we saw probably the best outcome for it. So, go see it if you want a good clean movie with a solid hero and a good(read: not cheesy) ending.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Which Email Service?

Currently I use a Yahoo! email address as my primary email address. I also acquired a Google Gmail account since I'm a user of Blogger(temposs@gmail.com). Now, the big attraction of Google is that they give you a massive storage capacity. One gigabyte in fact. Way too much for any normal user, in my opinion.

However, this overwhelming competition from a highly respected company such as Google has been good for the email service industry, because now Yahoo! and Microsoft's Hotmail have upped their storage capacities for their email services. I know that for Yahoo you get 100MB. And if you choose to pay for their email service, they'll upgrade you to 2GB, twice as much as you get with Gmail!

But who really needs all that? Email is not a good way to transfer files in general as it is inefficient. So 100MB seems just fine for me, and they even upgraded their interface to at least look more like Gmail's. But it's really just the same, and not an innovative evolution like Gmail. Gmail's interface makes email more like an IM conversation in which you view emails between you and another person in chronological order. Very intuitive and efficient.

I have a complaint about each, though. Since Yahoo upgraded their interface, the email preview feature on the My Yahoo service doesn't seem to work. I hope they get that fixed soon, because it's annoying to have to go to the mail site manually. My complaint about Gmail is that it doesn't yet support the Opera Web Browser, which I use. So at work I downloaded Mozilla Firefox so I can use Gmail without having to resort to good old IE :-P That contributes to me sticking with Yahoo for now, until Google implements support for non-ActiveX browsers.

So that's my take on the current email situation. Hope it helps!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Florida Is A Go!

Yes, it turns out that I am indeed crazy enough to go see the Denison Marrs show. So on Wednesday I'll be heading to Florida to visit my grandparents for 6 days and I'll be going to the Denison Marrs show conveniently. I'll let y'all know how it is :-)

Monday, June 14, 2004

Saturn's Phoebe and Bubba Ho-tep

The Cassini-Huyygens space probe is currently circling Saturn and has shot some great pictures of Saturn's moon Phoebe. I also recommend going through the little presentation on Saturn.

Over the weekend I saw an odd but very good movie called Bubba Ho-tep. If you ever wanted to see a movie about what Elvis Presley(played by Bruce Campbell) would be up to right now were he alive, this is it. Stuck in a nursing home with a bad hip, we hear an elderly Elvis' introspective thoughts on his own life and we learn how he ended up where he is, with everyone thinking he's dead. Teamed up with a black JFK(also a resident of the nursing home), they go after Bubba Hotep, a not-so-famous escaped Egyptian mummy who is by night feeding on the souls of the residents of the nursing home. It's a lot of parody and silliness but underlying it all is a depth of character brought alive in Elvis' character and his wish at self-redemption for the wasted latter part of his life. We also encounter a vulgar cynicism which we might expect from a man who has lived as Elvis did before having it all swept away into a shell of an existence. If you're up for an eccentric and silly comedy that is successful in what it sets out to do, you'll enjoy Bubba Ho-tep.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Denison Marrs Show!

I actually found a Denison Marrs show! In the future!(((Google)))

- Thursday, June 24, 2004 - 7:00pm
DENISON MARRS (floodgate records)
LONA (Angela Griner with band)
VENUE: Victory Church - 1401 Griffin Rd.
Lakeland, Fl. 33810
TIX: Suggested donation of $5,
but if ya don't have it, come as our guest!

I wonder if I'm crazy enough to go see this show :-D
This band has an amazing album called World Renown For Romance which I don't actually have but is completely unavailable on the nets. I do have their most recent called Then Is The New Now.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Got a Revolution Behind the Lines..We've Got to Get Out And Organize

Jackie was still in the midst of her exhortation, and it gave Maya the greatest of pleasure to interrupt her. "The demonstration's off."

"What do you mean?" Jackie said, startled and annoyed. "Why?"
"Because we're having a revolution instead."

Green Mars p.550

Thursday, May 27, 2004

A Stupid Poem By Me

Austere, manic gaze
Fierce shepherding of ideas
And questions
Be still
Until your eyes wander

Monday, May 24, 2004

LAN Party Proper

To have a LAN party you need some friends who are somewhat computer nerds. I keep these sorts of friends handy and occasionally we'll have a LAN party.

We had one on Saturday.
We had one on Sunday.

Starcraft. Primarily Top vs. Bottom/Players vs. Computers games with emphasis on Protoss photon cannon rapid deployment strategy.

Matt came from New Jersey to visit for the weekend so on Sunday he came to the LAN party to join us. He also came for frisbee earlier that day as a surprise to us. It's great to play frisbee with him and all my friends and everyone else. Sweltering heat, much sweating and dashing around the field until no one can run anymore.

Near the end I got my second wind, let out a roar, and rushed down the field, as is my custom. That is the best feeling in the world: to let out all your energy from your body's reserves. I felt the wind in my face and the grass on my feet(yes, bare feet) and I felt only half my weight. I have also felt this when practicing martial arts for an extended time and when doing distance running. I hope you experience this regularly.

Less Planning, More Fun

That's my new motto these days, especially as I wind down my time in MD and prepare to get over to IL. I consider myself to be a spontaneous person, and I generally don't plan a lot of stuff. I compensate by being driven by certain goals and principals which allow me to avoid certain unhelpful activities.

I seem to have found a place to move in Champaign, IL. It's about 3 1/2 miles from the Linguistics building with a couple bus routes available in walking distance. I found the place by emailing the leader of the Navigators at UIUC and having him put the word out that I need a place to live. Someone who owns a townhouse with a couple extra rooms then emailed me and offered me one of the rooms. It's small, but cheap, and a good person to live with. Sounds good to me.

On Saturday I took Rachel up to see the LaDew Topiary Gardens. It was my third time going to this place, but Rachel had never been there. The roses were in full bloom in the Rose Garden. The topiary was magnificent. There was a big old buddha topiary, many interesting fountains, dozens of varieties of flowers, and interesting quotes engraved into stone everywhere.

It's only $8 for students, so if you live in driving distance of Baltimore, I highly recommend a visit there! Oh, and we also saw a toad and a water snake and a chipmunk.

After the gardens we surprised my Mom at work. She works at Graul's Market in the cheese department(cheese is my favorite food). So she let us try a bunch of cheeses(blueberry cheese?) and some sushi.

Oh yes, and go see Shrek 2. It's better than the first one, as everyone says. The girls melt all over Puss In Boots and the references are as sharp as ever, and I even saw a reference to Street Fighter 2!(spinning bird kick and shoryuken) The animation is top-notch and many times I was wondering if they put a real person in the movie, but no, I just couldn't tell the difference.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Twilight Eyelight...the most romantic song I've ever heard

i love
how you reserve
those stars for me
their sparkle and their shine
are almost blinding
other men
they can only gaze
but you don't show them
the ones for me
you save

so i sing
i love you
and i know
you love me too

they're like the water when
moon rays reflect and dance
they're like the twilight
who's world renowned for romance

so i sing
i love you
and i know
you love me too(2x)

"Twilight Eyelight", World Renown For Romance
-Denison Marrs

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Moving The World

Since I'll start attending grad school at the University of Illinois Linguistics Department in the fall, certain preparations must be made. I have never lived outside of Maryland before. The thought of moving is annoying to me. Not that I'll be living in a new place, but just the process of finding a place and actually moving all my stuff. I've done it three times in the past couple years. I've always had the help of my friends and we would just use our various vehicles to move all my stuff.

The most annoying part is that I don't have a "home" like most people my age do. That is, my parents are divorced and the house I grew up in was sold. The result is that I have to carry around all my stuff. And the biggest item is my rather large and unwieldy office desk, which we haven't even bothered to move into my current residence.

I have come to realize that once I move to Illinois, I will probably never live in Maryland again. Maryland is my favorite state by far, but I have been here way too long. So, not only am I moving my stuff, but I'm moving my world. My last three moves have kept me within driving distance of all my friends and family from Maryland, and my world has remained relatively the same. I've even kept myself involved with the campus Christian organizations I participated in while attending the University.

My coming move will change my life significantly, though. I will probably not see my Maryland friends very much for the rest of my life. I have not even been to the midwest before, although I have been to many other states in the west and east. My social web that I've formed here will be no more in Illinois, although I already have significant beginnings of one there, as I contact The Navigators at the university and find other people who will be around the area.

By the way, I've replaced the commenting service again. Blogger finally implemented a commenting service of its own. This will be much more stable and connected with the rest of the Blogger system. I hope it works well and I hope everyone posts comments!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

3/4

I would like to describe a proposal used in Green Mars, which is the book I'm currently reading. Even in the book, this proposal is only theoretical.

During a research seminar on a tropical island, the old mentor Fort poses the conundrum of how to deal with the world population once the world cannot sustain the population. As a Christian, I am against the use of abortion and most methods of population control, but there was an interesting population control mechanism that a main character, Arthur Randolph, of the book put forth.

"I would give everyone alive a birthright which entitled them to parent three-quarters of a child."(p. 82)

Now this is interesting. Suppose a man and a woman marry. Then between them they can have one-and-a-half children. Consider that they then have one child. From here the couple has a choice. They can either be content with one child or they may want another or maybe even more. If they are happy with one child, they can opt to sell their combined half of a child-right. Of course the next realization is that if you choose to lead a single life, or have no children, you can sell your full three-quarters of a child-right.

On the other hand, if the couple wanted to make more children(i.e. they could afford it, and had the desire), they chould buy another half of a child-right from another couple, and thus have a full child-right to themselves. Thus child-rights would be a commodity, and since there would be less then a child allowed to each person alive, the population would have to decrease. This is maybe a better situation than we observe in China where there is a strict limit to the number of children any couple may have. Those who can afford to have children may have as many as they like, and those who can't afford to may make some money off their child-right.

The most obvious problem with this idea is enforcement. Since many people, especially in the lower classes, are promiscuous, there may end up being extra children unintentionally, even after these lower class people have sold their child-rights. Humans will still mate even if they aren't supposed to and so we realize this is a very idealistic sort of thing. And even if contraception is used, there will be mistakes. There would have to be abortions allowed and who knows what governments would decide to do with children who are born without the parents having a child-right.

So I guess I would end up being against this idea if any politician tried to push it in my lifetime. But if we were forced into a population control measure by our government, I think I would like this program the best.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Sailing in St. Mary's

On Saturday I went on an outing with The Navigators, which is a campus Christian group at University of Maryland. We took a trip down to St. Mary's County, to a family's house that has connections with our group. The house is situated on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay.

We had a ton of fun. It takes about an hour and a half driving from College Park, MD. We began our day around 1PM playing volleyball on a grass court in the front yard. When the boats were ready, we all went down to the dock behind the house. Since there was limited room, I didn't get to go out on the first pass. One boat was a sail boat, which held about 17 people, and they went on a long cruise, which I'm told was a lot of fun. The other was a mid-sized motor boat, which took about 9 people on a shorter journey.

Part of the reason I stayed off, though, was that I really wanted to go canoeing. So I found a partner, Aaron, to go with me. We met up with a second canoe filled with three girls and had some splashing battles. We rowed around the whole inlet until we reached a line of buoys which indicated the beginning of high-speed traffic. Upon reaching that, we spun around, splashed the girls, and returned to the dock.

Soon after, the motor boat returned. The next trip would be for tubing. So I joined this group presently, although I had no spare clothes. Basically, a water skiing cable was attached to the back of the boat and an inner tube was tied to the end of it. A victim would climb onto the inner tube and wait to be dragged by the boat. The driver, Dennis, turned out to be extremely sadistic, and took much pleasure in going at full tilt in circles until the passenger in tow was flung off the inner tube! But this was a lot of fun, and a challenge to hang on. Everyone on the boat got their turn to be whipped around and tossed in the wake of the boat.

After everyone had taken their turn we started back, with me lounging out on the front of the boat, letting myself air dry. Back at the house, dinner was about to be served. We had dinner consisting of grilled chicken, various salads and pastas. A truly American meal. Then, we listened as two of the family spoke(Dennis, our boat driver, being one of them) about their lives and their faith. We had pie and cookies for dessert, and then watched Matt fire off his potato cannon(powered by propane). We played basketball, table tennis, and volleyball, for another hour or so, cleaned up a bit, said goodbye, and went back home.

A very nice day I must say. And yes, Rachel went too. She got to go on the sail boat cruise! Lucky her :-P People who haven't seen Blade Runner should see it. And I'm starting a new book, Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is the second book in his Mars series, which begins with Red Mars.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Beauty and Adventure in One Night!

I will tell you about my day after I skittered away from my office.

I took a nap until about 8:30.

I woke up and had a craving for a walk around the park. So I arranged to go with Rachel. We met and had some late night food at the South Campus Diner. We both had a belgian waffle with strawberry topping and whipped cream. YUMMY!!! We killed a styrofoam tree and sat outside to eat our food. After that we went to Lake Artemesia. It was dark and no one else was there. The lake is situated next to the DC metro and train tracks, so occasionally a Metro Green Liner will shoot across or a freight train will lug itself past the lake. It's very pretty though, and well-kept. Impressive for a place in Prince George's County.

The best part, though, was when we spotted two beavers working on their dam. They were collecting wood and we could hear them gnawing heartily at the wood they had obtained. They would nudge it around and then go off across the lake again, presumably to look for more wood. We stood there for a good fifteen minutes just watching.

After I dropped Rachel off back on campus, I headed home, and decided to get some gas at this really cheap station called University Gas(1.67 Unleaded). I filled up as normal. Then when I got in my car, it wouldn't start! ::grumble grumble:: ::kick tires:: I quickly realized that the problem must be with the battery, because the lights didn't work and the power locks didn't work.

First I asked someone to jump start my car. This worked initially, but as they left I turned on my lights and the car died again. Drats! So now I'm just at a loss. I open the hood again. Another stranger-patron inquires and then suggests more places to check. He diagnoses the problem as being the alternator malfunctioning, and to have the car towed. I get out my AAA Plus card and walk over to a pay phone across the little side road.

As I'm dialing a guy in a car asks if I need help. I did, quite obviously. So I direct him to my car. As he begins examining, another young man saunters up and begins to help out as well. These two concluded that the battery had too much corrosion which was causing problems with the connections. It seems to be standard practice to use Pepsi to clean a car battery's connectors, and so I bought a small bottle of Pepsi for them to use to clean the battery. They used odds and ends of tools and such to wipe out all the build-up. After they were satisfied with their work, they told me to try the starter. And BEHOLD! Everything worked! The first guy left almost immediately(his mother was waiting in his car).

The second guy needed some money. He had asked me in the middle of fixing the battery if I would buy a cell phone from him for $10. I told him at the time, "After we're finished." This was so I could get him to try his best to fix my car, and not do anything screwy. Since the car worked, and they saved me a lot of time and money, I gave him $15 for his service and took the phone(which I don't care about anyway). It seemed a fair price for what he did.

Oh yeah, did I mention: God saved the day!(again)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Sunny Days

It has finally gotten sunny after about a week straight of rain. And there are hopes it will actually get to average at least for this time of year. YAY!!! :-)

I just finished If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, by William Faulkner. In proper Faulkner style and tradition, the last line of the book was:

"Women, shit," the tall convict said.

The book actually dealt with abortion quite a bit, but not in the story line about the tall convict(whose character I like a lot, btw). The main character, Harry Wilbourne, of the other story line(who I did not like) had extensive medical training, but was vehemently against performing abortions.

There was one situation in which he and his lover were living with a married couple and the woman became pregnant by the husband. As they were strapped financially, they did not want the burden of a baby, and so asked Wilbourne to perform an abortion on the woman. Harry repeatedly refused but then finally caved in and successfully performed the abortion. The couple left them pretty much directly afterwards, to go find work elsewhere.

The other situation was one in which Wilbourne's lover was impregnated by Wilbourne himself. This woman was very whimsical and impulsive rather like Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She wanted an abortion for many reasons, but the overarching reason was to be able to love Wilbourne to the fullest for the rest of her life. She had already had two children and abandoned them to go travel with and love Harry. She also made appeals to financials and the pain of giving birth. He was of course against performing this abortion as well. He suggested giving the baby up for adoption and such. He put off the issue as long as he could, hoping he could wait long enough that he could convince her it was too late to perform the operation. Eventually he is convinced to perform the operation and she dies from it.

In my opinion, it is selfishness to have an abortion. Especially in the second situation we can see that did not want children to intrude on her life. Even the ones she already had she pushed away in favor of a random restlessness moving around the country with a wayward almost-doctor. She did not care to love anyone else and refused to let her life-style slip through her fingers, and so she wanted the easy way out. In the same way, the married couple, though less overtly selfish, put themselves first and did not think of the baby inside of the wife as a separate person.

No matter when you consider sentient life to begin, you may look at the situation like this. We must love life. In doing so we also should love the potential for life. Even if you don't believe real life to begin until after birth, the love for the potential of this baby I would say could surpass even the love of the baby itself.

With this in mind, love has at its core a certain selflessness. If you love the life brewing in your body(if you're a female) or your wife's body(if you're male) then you by right and righteousness put aside your own feelings and bring the life into the world to thrive, no matter what your situation may be. Putting a child up for adoption is certainly the harder way to go if you cannot afford to raise a child because of the connection you have to your child, but this is the most selfless act some women may have available to them.

These are just some thoughts I have on the matter based on this book. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Rachel Got Into Grad Skoo!!

I'd like to congratulate my good friend Rachel on her admittance to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for an MFA in Painting/Art Studio. She's been very worried about her future plans and such, as she didn't expect to be admitted anywhere. If you talk to Rachel, tell her how awesome she is :-)

If you'd like to see some of Rachel's work, you can go to her UMD website. Don't know about you, but I'm a fan.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Research

Some research I worked on during my last year at UMD is being presented at the 14th annual meeting of the Society for Text & Discourse. I worked under a post-doc in the UMD Comp Sci department named Mike Anderson. The basic idea of the research was to determine the types and frequency of metalanguage, or talking about talking when you're talking ::goggle:: Here's the program for the conference.

This is the listing for our project in the conference program:

Tuesday, August 3rd
11:30 On the types and frequency of metalanguage
in conversation: A preliminary report

Michael L. Anderson, Andrew Fister,
Bryant Lee, Luwito Tardia &
Danny Wang

Friday, April 02, 2004

Why Someone Might Not Like Google Ads

I read this article on ZDNet about Google's up and coming email service, Gmail. The author, Charles Cooper, makes some interesting arguments as to why Google should not use their contextual ads from the standpoint of competing with Microsoft. Maybe Google should heed this advice, but maybe it's much ado about nothing. It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft and Yahoo respond.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Google Email

Google Email.

Discuss!

I personally have no problems with Google ads. I think they're cool. And this email service will far surpass the ones which are out there already, like Yahoo, which I use. I will switch to Google unless Yahoo really ramps up their service to compete with Google. This has got to piss off Yahoo and Microsoft :-P

Ghetto Mall

Last night I went shopping with Rachel at Prince George's Plaza Mall in Hyattsville. It is just about the oddest thing I've seen, I think. Maybe not, but in terms of odd malls, this one blows them all away. Well, the mall itself is alright. It's not very big, but it's fairly clean and has good security. When you go to a mall like this though, you have a ... err ... limited selection, shall we say.

I was looking for sandals since my previous ones are falling apart quite literally. So we walk around the whole mall walking into shoe stores, but none of them had sandals. They tended to be sportsy stores with shoes limited to basketball shoes and boots, it seemed. They also had a lot of uber-cool sporting apparel for men like jerseys and big basketball shorts.

The oddest thing by far was when we went to Hecht's. The whole first floor was nothing but women's apparel. I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if the whole store was women's stuff?" So we go up to the second floor, and sure enough, I'm viciously assaulted by panties and bras. A whole department store with no men's clothing! Besides that most of the other clothes stores were gaudy and flashy women's clothing stores.

The last store we hit finally had sandals. It was The Shoe Dept. Just a regular shoe store. No joke. They had a pair of Nunn Bush leather belt-strap sandals which I liked. So that's what I got.

Is this mall a statement about society? Sure. The mall tailored itself to its audience. Is there any wonder that the stereotypical black figure we see on TV is persisted constantly in real life? Black men are encouraged to shop pretty much solely at these sporting apparel stores, because that's what's closest. I know it's fashionable or whatever, but really, that mall was RIDICULOUS!

Monday, March 29, 2004

The Wild Palms

"Because crows and sparrows get shot out of trees or drowned by floods or killed by hurricanes and fires, but not hawks. And maybe I can be the consort of a falcon, even if I am a sparrow."

-William Faulkner
If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem
p.119

Sunday, March 28, 2004

MEOW

So I got rejected by Stanford too. But that's alright. Only two schools left to hear from. I think I at least made it past their first cut, though.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind is a GREAT movie. Everyone should see it. Jim Carrey portrays a character which is basically the opposite of his usual comic character. Very introverted and bookish and quiet. The whole movie is very engaging and moving. The complexity of it keeps you thinking hard about what's actually going on, and the plot twists are exciting. And I'm glad to say there's no nudity really, despite sexually provocative scenes. I usually like to read Roger Ebert's reviews for movies:

http://www.suntimes.com/output/ebert1/wkp-news-eternal19f.html

I wrote a little poem. The first part is actually a traditional Chinese poem. Hope you enjoy it. Just read it slowly and use your imagination on each line.
---

The old pond:
A frog leaps in.
The sound of water.
---

You.
The frog.
Keep perspective.
The ripples of the w_a__t___e____r.
Disappear.

Here's where I originally posted it:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/valentine014/2552.html#comments

Check out this young lady's live journal if you care to. She's seriously one of the coolest people in Omaha, NE :-P

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Washington DC, Our Lovely Capital

For the past two nights, I have been trying to go see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So I've invited friends to go, but somehow they can only see late showings. Now, the only seemingly reasonable theater around that had a late showing of this movie was one in Georgetown. So we have attempted to find this theater twice, and have failed both times, quite miserably.

The first night, I went with my friend Danny, who I worked on some research a lot during my last year of school. I decided we should try to avoid the online directions since the last road mentioned was Route 29 South. So I thought if we just caught 29 at the beltway and took it south we'd hit the theater. But it was much harder than it seemed. We ended up circling around many times and staying around Georgia Avenue.

This past night, I tried to go with my friend Rachel and I decided that I shouldn't be devising my own ways to get to this place so we attempted to follow the online directions. BAD MOVE ALSO. We end up even more lost than on the first night, and we never see a theater. Finally I find Connecticut Avenue going in the right direction, and head back to the beltway.

Let me just say that DC roads suck. I say this with all my soul. I can't stand them! They're horribly maintained, have incredibly dangerous intersections, and are more confusing than any city I've been to. Even the online mapper can't keep them straight evidently. Anyway, that's my rant, and now I'll take the metro instead...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Grad school

So I've received a few acceptances so far. Here they are:

University College London - M.A. in Pragmatics
Georgetown University - M.S. in Linguistics
University of Illinois - PhD in Linguistics


And rejections:
Georgetown University - PhD in Linguistics
SUNY Stony Brook - PhD in Linguistics

Still have yet to hear from:
Michigan, Standford, and UPenn

Well, I'm happy with what I've got already! I'm thinking I might defer my enrollment to Illinois for a year and do the M.A. in Pragmatics in London. Then I can come back and get my PhD at Illinois. But nothing is nearly final! Thought you all would like an update.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Macrosick

I recommend everyone keep an eye on an up and coming band called Macrosick. They're a derivative of Earthsuit. I'm really excited to hear Macrosick, although they haven't released an album, and their website has almost nothing on it. Here it is anyway. You might like to read the background image on their Info section.

My post on Hatrack

Here's something I posted on Hatrack. It's on a thread dealing with Orson Scott Card's latest commentary. Here's the commentary: http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2004-02-15-1.html

We all must remember that OSC comes from the LDS church which has about the strongest "family values" in the country. I, however, agree with most of his points(except that I think homosexual couples should get some financial compensation).

Note: I haven't read any of the previous posts. I hope my ideas are semi-original

Somehow I think this phenomenon of high rates of homosexuality is a natural occurence due to the high population of humans in the world. When there are few people, as earlier in history was the case, everyone was a generalized contributor to society. You provided almost everything for your family, and had responsibility for the success of the future of your community as the very purpose of your life.

As the population increaes, more food is produced than is consumed per capita. This leads to specialization of jobs. Families don't need to provide everything for themselves. Thus, women shirk their naturally occuring roles as keepers of a stable place we call home and as bearers of children. At least, this can be put off for a longer period of time. Because of this, males have less available females who need a mate and a protector. So the male is left to his own devices as well.

People are so specialized in their jobs today that people don't have to have responsibility except to their own job, if they so choose. Their parents will be put in nursing homes. Their children are put in day care/school so the parents can work. The grocery stores will have all the food they need and more. The hospitals will be there in case anything is wrong with a body. There is a service available for every conceivable need, and this is all because we produce more food than we need for ourselves. Since survival is not the core issue of life anymore, people take for granted that all those people responsible for providing these convenient services will always be there. Everything is now about gaining material wealth or the advancement of human knowledge from here on out.

Since there are so many people and nearly everyone is well cared for, we have no reason to worry about the survival of the human race. Thus, if there is any person who feels homosexual urges, he/she will be more likely to act on these urges. The survival motivation is simply not there in any way. It has been shown that even lower animals such as rats will have an increased tendency towards homosexuality as population density increases. While human sociology is more complicated, it seems these are correlative phenomena. When there is no need to propagate the species, activities which do not promote it are more likely to be followed. So yes, acting on homosexual urges would seem to be a choice, to a large extent. I think it is only genetic to the extent that we can recognize the attractiveness of another of the same sex. This is of course necessary for survival in order to know who our mating rivals are. But in our current situation, maybe people are more likely to act on this recognition in a non-competitive way, as is most often the case.

Anyway, that's enough from me. Have fun!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Got a place to live!

Hey all, I just want to let you know about the place I'll be moving to. I'm renting a room in a house from an Indian couple. They're Christian, and so is the tenant who lives there with them. So I'm really happy about that. The room is big enough to fit all my stuff and has two closets.

I'll get a cable connection and pretty much free reign in the house. It's pretty much like how I've been living for the last year and a half, except it'll cost a lot more. I've really been spoiled up till now, in any case. Anyway, I think I'll enjoy living there.

But I HATE making decisions like that! I somehow have a complex where I don't feel confident in myself to make certain decisions. I can buy a computer just fine, but a place to live I just have no expertise in. I brought my friend Chris along to back me up in looking at the house. He did a very good job for me. My friend Sasha went with me to the last place I looked, and he is absolutely ruthless about being critical of a place. I think I end up being more concerned about the people I'll be living with rather than the actual place. But I tried my best and Chris helped me out.

But I'm still nervous as hell to see what Sasha has to say about the place! I guess I just really need to have other people's approval about this sort of thing. I am naturally a follower. It is actually one of my strengths that I can do what someone says reliably. So hopefully this place will work out well.

Look for the fourth chapter of the story next week.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Metal Urger

Chapter 1 - The First Wind

Chapter 2 - The Second Wind

She made good time, soon passing the outlying shepherds and farmers. Her capper-cross was strong under her, as the spinners whipped wildly around in all directions. The spinners of the capper-cross spanned about eight feet in radius and it appeared as though she was a dragonfly. She neared the village center, with its various huts and crafters and people going about their daily work, to and fro. Then Lorri came upon the tall hut known as Lookpost. This is where all those whose calling it was to be a scout would come to make reports and get assignments. It's where she got her assignment to go across to the leeward side of the mountain, and now she would return with her report.

She landed the capper-cross and rushed inside. No one was there. Where could everyone have gone? She went out the door and looked around. Then Lorri saw the Captain of the Watch, Narr, walking quickly and with worry in his eyes.

"Lorri, we saw the smoke signal and made preparations for an attack!" said Narr.

"Oh! I completely forgot about that! Sir, the Demaij...it was following me. But then it collapsed. I sent the smoke flare up just before," said Lorri.

"Girl, you must've been dreaming! I've never heard such a story in twenty years as a Watcher," Narr snarled.

"Fine, go check it for yourself, sir. But, I think the days will get more - interesting - from now on," Lorri replied.

"They certainly will," said the captain, as he stared past Lorri and pointed in disbelief. Lorri spun around. There was the Demaij, carried toward the two by other Watchers, and followed at a distance by a number of villagers. It was an amazing sight, and no doubt unparalleled in all remembrance of those present.
"Get that thing to Coil, now!" barked the captain.

Lorri followed as the group moved toward Master Coil's workshop. Coil was the most highly respected crafter in the village. He was talented in working with contraptions. He was known as a Metal Urger. Metal Urgers were rare, and any village would pay handsomely to have one. A Metal Urger wasn't just a blacksmith. Every village had one of those. A Metal Urger was more than that. He could make things. Things like the capper-cross. Wonderful inventions of machinery that no one else could've contrived. In fact, no one knew why the things he made worked.

Once inside the Metal Urger's workshop, the bearers of the Demaij laid the broken or unconscious thing on a large table in the middle of the room. The dark and strong man with deep black eyes looked strangely at the ore-beast, and then spoke up.

"Where in hell did you pull this thing out of?!" Coil boomed.

"Master Coil, one of my Watchers was hunted by this Demaij," said Narr. "It was Lorri. She claims the thing followed her through the mountain pass and then collapsed.

"Girl, is this what happened?" Coil asked.

"Yes, sir. The beast just crashed to the ground at full speed. I had already sent up a warning signal by then," said Lorri. "Sir, the Demaij are very frightening. I didn't know if I would escape with my life. What will you do?"

Coil replied, "Don't worry your pretty little head. You did well. I can't imagine why the beast has fallen. I will look and pry. For your sake and all of us, I think this is one of the greatest oppourtunities in a long time. Perhaps I can reveal some weakness in the Demaij that caused this one to fall. Maybe we will save our own lives. Every day will be dangerous now." The Master paused for a moment and looked over the Demaij. "Now, go! I have much work to do!"...

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Got a REAL job!

Hi all! My internet has been down until now because of Verizon screwing up the cable lines for a few miles around. Anyway, I'll get to work on the third chapter following our lovely heroine, Lorri. What the heck is a Demaij anyway? Guess we'll find out eventually!

In other news, I got offered a job at the Language Research Center of McNeil Technologies! I will be working on a project in which I will attempt to find new Arabic words hidden in a gigantic amount of contemporary Arabic text, mostly from newspapers. So, I'll be learning some Arabic and some programming and some linguistics all wrapped in one! My specialty! Thanks to Drew Foerster for referring the director of the Center to my resume.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Since when did humans have litters?

I was hearing on the radio about another woman who gave birth to many babies in one pregnancy. This is more and more common these days with the advent of in vitro fertilization(IVF). Surely, this treatment achieves for many the dream of having a baby that they couldn't otherwise have. However, this treatment is hardly perfect, and perhaps there should be more controls on it than there are, at least until the technique is perfected more.

Besides the fact that babies born from this method tend to have more problems generally, it hit me last night that it just doesn't sound right. Since when did humans have litters of babies? That's literally what's happening these days. Human females having litters. I mean, I've heard of a cat having a litter of kittens, or a dog having a litter of puppies. These species naturally have a high occurrence of multiple births. It is something that they were made to do and the females are made to handle this in order to survive. But I don't think a human female was created to handle six or seven babies floating around in her womb. Crazy.

People have not used this perspective very often and take these occurrences as mere oddities, but joyful ones, since so much life is being brought into the world. I think it's great when babies are born, and I want to have some of my own, when I get a wife.

But perhaps we should consider the impact of this unnatural occurrence in our females when they are subjected to supporting so many inside themselves. And each baby must be under more stress if it is trying to sustain itself among so many others. Scientists have studied these things, and evidently have found that women and babies are able to handle these situations, which is why it's legal. And of course there have been successful multiple births. I just think it's a little weird that humans are giving birth like dogs or cats when we are generally made to only house one or maybe two babies at a time.

As further evidence of the imperfections of IVF, read this article on irregularities of single-baby IVF births. I'm not suggesting to get rid of this treatment all together, but just to have more restrictions on it until it is improved so these pregnancies will mirror natural ones more closely.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Got a job

I figured the post on Monday was long enough to last for a while. Anyway, I probably got a job to make a website for a friend of a friend. I've been learning MySQL and Python to prepare. It's for a dental office. I think it should be exciting work. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 26, 2004

NYC Trip Yesterday

So yesterday I went to New York City to meet four people from the Hatrack Chatroom which I frequent. It was really a great adventure so I want to tell everyone about it.

I took a Greyhound bus both ways. The ride up to the city was rather nice. The bus was only half full, and I got two seats to myself. In the seats across from me there was a baby girl who was very cute, and we looked at eachother a lot and I passed most of my time just watching her and gazing into her eyes. I also read some, and we had two stops, but we arrived at Port Authority station twenty-five minutes early.

I found the C line in the subway, which was to take me to the apartment where we were all going to meet. This took me up the west side of Central Park. When I got off, there were two girls who got off from the car behind me as well. I glanced back a couple times, and caught a glimpse of the expected orange of Kristina's garb. So amazing that we got off at exactly the same time, and they had arrived in the city one and a half hours before! We greeted each other and walked to the apartment.

At the apartment, we sat around and talked, and the third princess arrived. Jeremy, the one whose brother was a renter of the apartment, was cooking us a fine Indian meal, which we all enjoyed together with all the other roommates. I played a mix of popular songs from the mid-nineties in accoustic form as well as a Switchfoot CD. Then Sarah(the third princess) left to go meet with other friends. We sat around for some time more, and then decided to go out at around 4:30.

We decided to walk through Central Park, which was very nice. Our intention was to go to the Met, but we got there just as it was closing, at 5:15. We wanted to go somewhere warm, since we were freezing our jaws shut. We took a bus and a subway to Times Square, and walked around till we found ourselves inside the largest Toys 'R Us in the country. It had a ferris wheel and every toy and game you could imagine. There were three floors and on the third we found this motion sensitive floor projection, with a bunch of nifty little games that cycled through about every minute. We spent a lot of time just playing with that, kicking puppies and doing paint-by-color with our feet.

My Uncle Terry and I had planned to meet for dinner, but it turned out he was too busy, so I didn't get to. So, since we were hungry, we looked for a place to eat, and decided to eat at a four-floor TGI Friday's. Unfortunately, the food was inordinately expensive, with about a $4 mark-up compared to an ordinary franchise. Since we were also getting horrible service, we decided to leave.

I had left my backpack at the apartment(I have a bad back and I get cranky when I have to carry something around for a long time). So we went back to get it, and find a cheaper place to eat. It was a horrid trek back to the subway station, since the first one we arrived at was under construction. But eventually we made it and I retrieved my belongings. It was late...about 8:15, so I we needed to find a place fast. We found a little pizza shop and we each ordered a slice. I finished off Sarah the Younger's piece as well, and we were off. We parted with Jeremy, and took the subway back to Port Authority. We escorted Sarah the Younger to the Grand Central Station shuttle, and said goodbye to her. Kristina and I headed back to the Port Authority bus terminal, and we hugged and went to our respective gates to wait for our buses.

It was a wonderful time, and it could've ended there, but this is where the adventure begins! The lady at the information desk told me the wrong gate number, and an attendent informed me that my bus hadn't arrived yet, and that it was to arrive at gate seventy-three, and not seventy-four! The thing is that there were more people lined up at seventy-three than could fit on one bus. I went to another information desk and asked if my bus had arrived yet, and the lady said that it had already left. Worried, I returned to the gate and wandered around, observing, until a bus arrived at seventy-three. I went to the same attendant and asked about my bus again to make sure, and he said that the bus which had just arrived was mine. So I got in line, and before I go to the front, the gate is closed!

I called out to an attendant and asked if we would be let on. He said the bus was full, and the service is on a first-come-first-serve basis. So me and a few others are left waiting in line for one and a half hours for the next bus, at 11PM. It came, finally, and we rode home. As we neared Baltimore, the weather got worse and worse. There was a driving snow falling and the bus had to slow down to about 40mph by the time we were approaching the beltway. The roads weren't in driving condition, and when we finally arrived in Baltimore at a little before 3AM, the driver announced that all further bus service was canceled until further notice. This left a lot of people headed to North Carolina and such stranded.

I bought a bottle of water at the convenience store inside the bus station since I was very thirsty, and I was about to leave when a man a little older than thirty approached me and asked if I would buy his ticket for $10 so he could call a cab. He said his job was on the line. I said I didn't need a bus ticket because I was going to drive home in my car. He perked up and asked if I would give him a ride. So I asked him where he was going, and he said it was just four blocks over. He seemed safe enough to me, so I agreed to drive him. While I turned on the car he wiped all the snow off with my ice scraper. We waited for the engine to warm, and then I carefully drove him through Baltimore's unplowed streets, and into the slums of west Baltimore, the worst part of the city.

He said he had just moved from Tennessee, and indeed he had a fitting accent which I recognized. He works on fiber-optics and needed to meet someone who works for him and lives in this part of Baltimore, he said. We arrived at the place he needed to go, so he thanked me and I drove off. I drove back through to 95 and took that down pretty slowly to home, and arrived safely at about 4:30AM.

What an adventure! Hope you've enjoyed hearing about it!
Here are some pictures.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Second Wind

The Demaij was too heavy for Lorri to move on her own. She tested its weight against her strength, pulling as hard as she could. Probably it weighed as much as two grown men. There would be no way she'd get that all the way back to the village.

The Demaij were a cacophony of brilliant and mysterious golden red metal combined with a network of living tissue that entangled part of the metallic surface. There was no sign of damage that Lorri could recognize. But then, no one really knew how these things were made, by whom, or what they were for. All Lorri knew was that the Demaij had been raiding her people's villages for as long as anyone could remember, killing a few, and then making a quick exit before anyone realized they had gone.

It was surprising, seeing a downed Demaij. None had ever been captured. There were legends of great warriors who had died in battle against a Demaij, and only one warrior who had been victorious against one of the ore-beasts. But that was only a myth, and besides, no one had the faintest idea how it could be done again.

Lorri again grappled her capper-cross under herself, revved the contraption, and slowly lifted about six feet into the air. The spinners whirred around her in all directions and she accelerated forward, this time headed back to the village. She would need some help to move this unholy assassin.

Just as Lorri was moving away from the ore-beast, she heard a noise. Looking back, the Demaij was once again vibrant with life, and attempting to rise from the ground with its snake-like tentacles. Lorri increased her speed in an attempt to make some distance before the ore-beast could start following. But on a second look half a minute later, she saw that the Demaij was indeed following her at a steady pace, floating carelessly off the ground, its tentacles whipping around vigorously on the ground.

Lorri had two choices: she could either try to outrun the ore-beast to the village, where she could get some help, or she could try to save the lives of her people and head the Demaij in the wrong direction. If she chose the former, it could mean the killing of people she loved and cared for. In the latter case, she would surely run out of juice for the capper-cross and be found and destroyed by the Demaij.

She decided that she should do a combination. If she could get close enough to the village to send out a warning signal that her people would see, and then veer toward the thick foliage of the forest, she might be able to outrun the ore-beast. That was her best chance to save everyone including herself. Maybe the other scouts would come to rescue her. Yes, they would at least try.

Lorri reached the mountain pass, with the Demaij gaining still. She passed through the crevaces and, at the highest and steepest point, the wind began to blow again. It felt good on her back, and comforted her with mountain lullabies even as she was being pursued. When she looked back now, though, the Demaij was no longer gaining, but just keeping a steady distance behind. Or could it be losing ground? No way that could be so. Lorri pushed onward at full speed and reached the foot of the windward side of the mountain.

As she reached a familiar lookout spot, Lorri grabbed her smoke shot, pulled the pin, and flung it in the air. The blue smoke billowed up into the air, carried by the wind. Just then, she looked back for the pursuing Demaij, only to see it collapse to the ground again with a series of metallic clankings as it rolled to a stop on the green grass.

Lorri sped on. Only now, she headed straight for the village...

Monday, January 19, 2004

Job Hunting

Here's what I don't like about looking for a job. I think you'll all agree with me on these points.

Looking for a job, and I don't mean a McDonald's job, is all about acting like you're the best at whatever the employer is looking for. So, when I'm at an interview, I've got to tell him about how great I am. And OK, I've got a pretty high opinion of myself in general, but the way interviews go is over the top! I don't like spewing out all my "accomplishments" to some stranger so that just maybe I'll get considered for a second interview. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. I think the issue is that I know the interviewer doesn't particularly care about me as a person on the whole. He's going to interview all these other people. He's going to sit there and act toward all of them just like he's acting toward me.

I also hate applications. Anything I can't do in 15 minutes is too long for me. And some of those applications are HUGE! I prefer just sending my resume and cover letter and that's it. That's much more efficient.

And the waiting! I think we can all agree that this is the worst part of job hunting. We all want the decision to come the next day. But instead, you've got to wait a week or more. And I think more than half the time, I don't even get a response! So it's just left up in the air and you feel worse than if you got a rejection letter.

I've never gotten a job through an application-interview process. All my jobs have been through connections I've had. I've applied to two places in DC that my friends have worked at, and they've recommended me to their supervisors. So that's my best chance. ::cross fingers::

Thursday, January 15, 2004

New Hope For Space Flight

Yesterday, President Bush outlined a new proposal for NASA's future, complete with an increase of funding: one billion dollars over five years. The overarching vision of the recent climate among NASA officials and the administration is to take a manned mission to Mars. The current Mars mission, which features the newest generation in Martian rovers, is generating a lot of press no doubt fueled by the administration's plans to expand our extra-terrestrial reach.

The proposed schedule is to develop a new spacecraft and have people on the moon again between 2015 and 2020. The new spacecraft will presumably be much improved over the old space shuttle models, which are fairly outdated.

This plan has met much controversy. With an election quickly approaching and a looming deficit, many are asking why there should be this focus on such a seemingly impractical investment of the nation's tax dollars. After all, we should be focusing on balancing the budget and improving our domestic social programs, helping the poor and the lower class. We should be at the very least investing in the stability of Iraq so the US presence can be significantly reduced. And many find the plan to be a cheap trick of smoke and mirrors to hide insufficiencies in domestic issues in order to gain support before the election.

But this is simply a matter of perspective. Every special interest lobbying group is grappling to procure some of our precious resources. There are so many directions we could go, as the strongest and wealthiest nation on Earth. We aren't limited to subsistence and survival. We offer our services out of charity to many nations and NGO's, both deserving and undeserving. We do both bad and good, noble and reckless acts. The questions you must ask yourself in considering the prudence and value of the space proposal: Do you care if we go into space? Are you willing to sacrifice for our dream of colonizing Mars that lies in the distance? Is the current plan going to be effective to help get us there?

To me, I think the colonization of Mars is quite inevitable. And I would rather have it come sooner than later. As a lover of technology and an academic, I have a natural bias towards supporting the sort of plan that has been proposed. Some say it won't be enough. They say that the schedule won't hold with the amount of money being proposed for the project. Maybe it won't. This should be scrutinized by all parties, and not rejected off-handedly by the opposition just because it was proposed by a Republican. Apart from the technological advances that will benefit society as a whole, just the principle of exploration of the new frontier is enough to merit a good and solid plan to push us forward.

But behind the president's plan is a darker side. There is another space race that has begun. The Chinese have recently put a man in space, independently of the US or Russia. The US was the most recent country to launch its first manned spacecraft, all those years ago. The Chinese are ambitious and while they are still behind the US in its space-faring abilities, they could quickly catch up. This is the reason underlying all the hype, I think.

China seems to me a somewhat dangerous rival. While there is a strained diplomacy between our two nations, we only extend this because we cannot afford to have China as an enemy. With North Korea already hostile and threatening its neighbors with a potential nuclear arsenal, China is essential to keep some control over the Far East. If given our druthers, the US would harshly condemn and sanction China for its humanitarian crimes against its own citizens. But since China is in the position of power in the Far East, we find it necessary to at least keep China in a neutral position, as they seem to be acting in the North Korean negotiations.

I'm not very sure of the ramifications that would come with a China that has matched our space-faring abilities, but if there are great enough risks to merit an expansion to our own space program, I will support it. For now, we should carefully weigh the issues that confront our nation. We should not forget to dream of reaching further than we've ever gone before. After all, this dream made our country the greatest in all the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Last Exile

I was loaned a copy of an anime series called Last Exile by my crazy friend Alex Chen. It was pretty good. The animation is high quality, and the plot is rich. The story begins following a boy named Claus and a girl named Ravey, about 14 or 15 I would suppose. Their parents are not around, and so they support themselves by running a courier service. Their method of transportation is a vanship. The vanships are small two-man flyers without wings.

These characters become entangled in a struggle for control of the world between the elitist Guild which lives in the air and the kingdoms of Anatoure and Deusis which live on the Earth and are essentially dependent on some of the technology of the Guild. Our protagonists find themselves delivering "cargo" to a rogue battle ship, the Sylvana, and fall into the service of it.

They have many adventures and fight not only for the world, but for eachother's love.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The First Wind

It was late morning.

Lorri strode forward as though she was on a mission. She descended on a beautiful valley, magnificent in its desolation. She stopped, suddenly deep in thought. Isolated shrubs and small trees were scattered throughout, but were most concentrated in the lowest part of the basin. It occurred to Lorri, every time she walked through this valley, that it was rather like a house of mirrors. Each plant appeared to her as a reflection of her distance from everything, with the look of a survivor etched deeply into the very core of its very being.

Lorri dug her capper-cross into the ground, twisting it around a bit, digging up some dirt. She walked down to where the small trees seemed huddled together, or at least what passed for that in this region. No tree would budge. She had been trying for months. She slapped the branch closest to her, and the branch violently rebounded and vibrated as they are wont to do.

It was the wind. Or, rather, there was none. Well, it wasn't exactly that there wasn't any wind. Of course there was a little. If she gazed at the most delicate bugs for a long time, without breathing toward them, she could sometimes make out hairs being moved by the wind. Nothing significant to speak of, though. The great currents had gone from this land. Worse still, no wind means no clouds, and no clouds means no rain. Most of the people had left by now, to the windward side of the mountain. What was blocking the wind from stirring? This was the question Lorri was sent to answer.

There was no great reason to send Lorri in particular. She didn't know much about the crafty elements, which always seemed to be doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. That's the way things went in this world, though. The air was stale here. The wind was keeping away. From what? Was the wind angry? Most likely, Lorri thought. It seemed that precisely when she passed by the peak of the mountain at the pass, that's when the wind stopped. An eerie hush. No whistling through the tunnel. No rustling of the leaves. Nothing. It was life without a friend. Even if no one was with her, the wind was like a friend following along and dancing around. It whistled stories, played with her hair, urged her forward. The cave would tell a story, and the wind would carry it to the giant cedar. The giant cedar would continue the story and the wind would tell it to the lake. And the lake to the cave, and so on. Lorri could hear the whole conversation.

Then she saw it...So it was here, floating ominously three meters off the ground on the other side of the ridge. The girl rushed back up the hill and pulled the capper-cross out of the ground. Diving behind a tree, she lay still, waiting for it. What she saw was unexpected, but at the same time she feared its presence always. Seeing it was like an unexpected gust of wind almost blowing you off your feet. Only, since there was no wind, the Demaij was a substitute, but certainly not a pleasant one. Then, for no apparent reason, it fell to the ground with a clank and a whine.

After waiting approximately 20 minutes with no sign of movement, she warily got up, mounted her capper-cross, and began towards the fallen Demaij...

Monday, January 05, 2004

The Princess Bride

I'm currently reading The Princess Bride by S. Morganstern, and wonderfully edited by William Goldman. A girl from Hatrack named Raia sent the book to me for Christmas.

Actually, S. Morganstern doesn't exist. Neither does Florin, since it existed before Europe and after America. The book will also give you some details that the movie doesn't. Such things as the Zoo Of Death(Pit of Despair in the movie), how the Count actually discovered Buttercup and told the Prince, and what the deal was with that neighboring country, Guilder.

And if you haven't seen the movie, do so now, for you are excruciatingly deprived! For the love of God, fill that gaping hole in your life that you only until now did not know how to fill!

Ha ha! William Goldman is a genius! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 03, 2004

I'm currently reading the book Robota by Orson Scott Card and illustrated by Doug Chiang.

Orson Scott Card is my favorite author who is best known for his book Ender's Game.

Doug Chiang is the same artist who had his hand in the CGI of the prequel Star Wars movies. He does excellent work as you'll see if you take a look at his website.

Essential Utilities

I want to settle this once and for all. If you're running Windows, you should be consistently using these utilities at a minimum! They are essential...

Zone Alarm Firewall
Spybot Search & Destroy Adware Blocker
Housecall Anti-virus

All of these programs are completely free and without obligation or ads. Use them! A lot!

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Things I Can Write.

It makes sense to me. The first significant post to my weblog should be about writing. Writing is the reason I started the weblog, in any case. So why did I choose to write instead of something else, like taking a walk?

These are some thoughts that led me to start this weblog... First, I'm recently graduated from University of Maryland, but no one has seen fit to hire me yet. So I'm in that "happy place," as my friend Jeff called it, where I have nearly no schedule or responsibility. So I want to do something which will give a semblance of legitimacy to what I'm doing with my time.

Writing is an extension of speech. It is more a way to record thoughts in a permanent way, although you can certainly communicate with writing, as I intend to do. In your speaking, if you are communicating to another person, then you have an intended audience. People nearby, however, may overhear you. More often than not, in speaking, being overheard is not desirable. However, I think writing differs a bit in this regard. You write to have your thoughts in a more permanent form. Often, when you do this, your writing gets found by people who you did not intend to find it. In retrospect, it's great when this happens, especially if you get feedback from this unintended audience.

This unintended readership happens a lot with webpages, like this weblog. One could think of it sort of as a permanent radio broadcast of a sort. Even with something as private as a letter, it may be found unintentionally after the writer has died. We could guess that in a lot of cases the writer would be happy that someone had found his letter who he did not intend to see it.

So unintended communication is what I'm trying to accomplish here! I know people who I think will read this page. I can even think of people who I don't think will read this page but who I would like to read the page(i.e. Orson Scott Card). But there are those people who I cannot even fathom who may read this page. In any case, my writing is imprinted here in this digital form, on a server somewhere or other, being broadcast in a fantastic way over the Internet.

Next time you're writing a letter, think for a second about what it would be like for it to be read far in the future by some person you don't know. Then smile, and don't change a thing. This is the treasure of our progeny. They will know the thoughts of men long since dead, and dream of the great age of the 21st century.
Hello! I hope I can put something halfway decent on this thing. This blog is meant as a means for me to express myself and hopefully inform and entertain at least one person besides myself each time I publish a new post. Enjoy!