Saturday, November 21, 2009

Elmira!

I'll be back in Elmira acting like a 'Mung for a week starting on Saturday. Minneapolis folks, have a good Thanksgiving wherever you happen to be. Elmira folks, I'll be back and shooting up the woods with rifle fire and warming you parlors with my especial charms and strange ways before flying away again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anniversary!


Well, this past Monday was my 4th anniversary with Rachel, so I had to find something suitable to mark the passage of time... and what better way than with Time Lords?


 
The minis came from Heresy Miniatures, and they are quite excellently crafted. There's even an Eccleston look alike available if you want to be complete in your collection.


The girl was very pleased. :)

We also spent our anniversary by going to Saffron, which was an excellent mediterranean dining experience. Some highlights: truffle oil with steak, terragon and tahini ice cream, and scallops made amazing-er.

Until next time...

"What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light. Anniversaries are very well up to a certain point, while one's babies are in the process of growing up: they are joy-flags that make gay the road and prove progress; and one looks down the fluttering rank with pride. Then presently one notices that the flagstaffs are in process of a mysterious change of some sort--change of shape. Yes, they are turning into milestones. They are marking something lost now, not gained. From that time on it were best to suppress taking notice of anniversaries."
- Notebook, 1896

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

GRE- Revanquished!



Let cries of rejoicing reach to the heavens- the dreaded Physics GRE has been vanquished once more! I felt much better about this one, as the answers kept flowing and if I didn't know something I really didn't know it, so didn't even hazard the guess.

But let's skip back a few days from that shall we, and I shall regale with the full tale. A few weeks ago I found out that a) Rachel had signed up for the test in Northfield due to justified paranoia, b) I had stupidly forgotten this and signed myself up for the test in St. Paul, and c) it was too late to switch test centers as the deadline for this was before we had not taken the October test.

But all was well- it was just one more symptom of the test hating us, no? I would drive Rachel down on Friday evening and pick her up again on Saturday. No biggy. Rachel made a reservation at the Archer House and all seemed well... until her hotel accidentally lost her accommodations. This lead to approximately two hours of us sitting worried and depressed in Northfield waiting for the staff to find another suitably close hotel room. Of course, being Northfield, most of the rooms were booked in every single hotel in town. The only relatively close hotel that could be found was a Motel 8 way down the road, and the only rooms that they had were smoking rooms. Rachel rightly got a taxi out of the deal to transport her to the test the next morning and I had to head out as I had not yet found my testing location, and I am paranoid.

After finding my testing site I called Rachel who, with our freaky ESP in full swing, was calling me at exactly the same time, causing us to leave messages on each others phones. Apparently the management had forgotten to tell her that they had another room with a jacuzzi and "a bed large enough to sleep 6 people" according to Rach, that was non-smoking. Huzzah!

So the test came... in St Paul they not only had signs this time (see above) but there were plenty of people exactly where the test was! We were all jam packed into one lecture hall for three hours and released, with at least my own self in triumphant pride. I proceeded to head to the Bulldog for a victory feast of a steakhouse burger, truffle fries (yes, TRUFFLE fries) and a ridiculous Belgian beer called Kwak, as pictured here:


 
Around dinner time I picked up Rachel from Northfield and we had a great chat with Alison, one of the people responsible for the theaters at Carleton and someone with whom I had worked closely while involved in the Carleton theater scene. We then headed northwards, were treated to drinks and dessert by our gracious landlord and celebrated the rest of the night with friends at a week-late Halloween party.

Now I am in the midst of deciding my future... updates to come as they do.

Until next time...

"Trusting in Providence is a very good thing, as far as it goes, but a chart and a compass are worth six of it, any time. Statistics have shown this to be true."
- remark written in manuscript for Life on the Mississippi. Quoted in Mark Twain and Human Nature by Tom Quirk (Univ. of Mo. Press, 2007).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!


Rach and I decided to Deutsch it up for the holiday
 
 
We then went to a zombie themed pub!
 





Until next time...

"Each man is afraid of his neighbor's disapproval--a thing which, to the general run of the human race, is more dreaded than wolves and death."
- "The United States of Lyncherdom"by Mark Twain

Monday, October 26, 2009

This past weekend Rach and I headed up to Duluth to attend the reception for a  wedding that we went to a month ago or so. It was a pretty good party, though the dancing portion left much to be desired. Still, I soldiered on and valiantly made a fool of myself on the dance floor doing the YMCA and air guitaring to Queen.



We also got to see Rachel’s parents and hang out with them for a while. Rachel forced her mom to start watching Planet Earth with us, which was jaw-droppingly amazing. Even if you don’t like animal/National Geographic documentaries you will like this gorgeous masterpiece. Things like swooping silently through snow covered trees, seeing the full extent of a caribou migration and the incredible tactics of African Wild Dogs on the hunt are just spectacular experiences.
 




I also got to see Where the Wild Things Are last night, and it was pretty good. It does feel a bit stretched out at points but the entire thing is beautifully done and very true to the book’s artistic style. It’s definitely not so much a movie for kids as it is a movie about kids, as all of the Wild Things represent different child archetypes. There’s the rambunctious child who flies into a tantrum at the slightest provocation, the quiet loner looking in from the outside, the universal crush, the couple, etc. as well as plenty of the activities that kids tend to do. But they're not just children- they are also Wild Things that are large and have very sharp teeth. As one of them said, "If you have a problem, just eat it. It's what I always do." It's pretty, it's funny, it's scary, and it's pretty enjoyable for those who want to see a great look at what being a kid is like. Just don’t expect kids to be incredibly entertained by it.

Well, that’s it for now. Until next time…

 "Children have but little charity for one another's defects."
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Most Awesome/Geekiest Thing EVER!


Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough from Surfacescapes on Vimeo.

Ho
Ly
CRAP.

I want. And not just for that program. Just for MSurface tech in general. So much modding... *drools*

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Robots vs Humans!

My computer and camera are talking again- so time for

ROBOTS
vs
HUMANS
This was a party thrown by my friend and fellow CTEP-er Oahn a couple of weekends ago. It was blast, there was plenty of retro robo-music, and there were cartoons and/or Look Around You projected onto the wall all night. Good time indeed.


   
 
Wrench the Robots!









Oahn in all her Robo-glory


 
Mr. Egerman, Cupcake-Robot Extroardinaire


To convince of how awesome Oahn is, she has an official POG tournament game pad.


Me in all my robot hating sketchiness.
  Until next time...

"I really hate robots. Stupid metal men..."
-Quote attributed to Mark Twain by an unknown source, but totally legit

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heute ist einen Scheisstag

I'm going to try more regular, shorter posts, so let me know how it's working out. Today is already a pretty bad day. Had a class this morning that kind of worked- all three of my students showed up at different times and basically had solo lessons, though one of them was distracted by her two kids. I guess it went ok, but I feel I was mostly just talking and not teaching. Need to rework the lesson to get more interactivity methinks...

So it was kind of beneficial I guess that this afternoon I was 0/10 on my students for their first class, so I ended up helping out with the Math group because one of my colleagues was feeling sick up there. It was a bit chaotic- language barriers and a few too many people created a bit of an oppressive environment. We really, really need a volunteer there, but who knows if we're ever going to get one. I get the feeling that I'm the only one of the three who knows what he's doing and actually thinks about the class when it's not happening as I don't see lesson planning happening. I'm unsure of what to do for that though- one person hasn't had training yet (though I should encourage her to do so soon) and the other... gah. We got some problems with that one.

So in essence- too much going on at work to actually plan for work. I need to have a meeting with my colleagues for the math class and work something out, as our current system can't handle more than two groups at once. I need to call all my students and make them sign blood pacts that they are going to show up to class. And I need to rework my lessons to have a greater degree of interactivity. Oy. Freakading. Vey. Maria.

Sorry about the negative nature of this post- I had a great day yesterday, but so far today has been weighing heavily on me and I needed to get it out. Also it's really incredibly gloomy outside today, which certainly didn't help matters. I'll work on some more cheerful posts soon.

Until next time...

"The rain is famous for falling on the just and unjust alike, but if I had the management of such affairs I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust out doors I would drown him."
- quoted in My Father Mark Twain, Clara Clemens

p.s. Deutsche sprecheren- der Tag oder das Tag? Ich kann es nicht erinneren.

Monday, October 19, 2009

ETS, among other things...

So as you may have guessed from the lack of updates, I've been a bit busy these past couple of weeks. What with the GRE not actually happening, trying to get two classes off the ground and getting profs to give me recommendations life has been busy.

Most of the reason that I haven't posted in a while is that me and my digital camera haven't been on the computer together and I really wanted to get some pics up about the Robots vs. Humans party that happened... jeez, 2 weekends ago now? Oy... But, my life has been very interesting in the meantime, I assure you. Some, errm, "highlights" of the past couple of weeks:

-Studying for the GRE. It's not fun, especially when they give you the wrong address causing you to miss the test and have to wait a month to take it again. Apparently they switched addresses at some point but forgot to tell us that the new location was in St Paul, not Minneapolis. Now Rachel and I are going to go down to Carleton to make sure that we don't miss the next one. I'm still bummed about not getting it done, but hopefully I'll be able to do better now, so it's not all downside.

- Gaming. The past two sessions have been very entertaining (well, at least for me, but that doesn't take too much). I was really tired of gaming before taking the two week hiatus but now I feel much more refreshed and on top of things. Last night's escapades involved roleplaying nerds being attacked by paper monstrosities, Russell's character losing his vocabulary and having to do a combination of charades and pictionary to have the other characters understand his instructions, and Ben's character convincing a geek that he was, in fact, a 12th level dwarf.

- The Wire. It is the cop drama that was finally done right. Every character is interesting even if they are all a$$holes. Very good (if confusing at times with all the nicknames), and a definite recommend.

- Admission Possible Party. I think this was the first one that I really enjoyed. Most of the time when I go to a party where I don't know anybody I feel really uncomfortable, but this party was different. Rach and I showed up midway through a game while there were still only a handful of people there. It was a good party game and segued into an even better one, at which point more people showed up and the party started getting better. The more communal feel at the beginning, plus the nostalgia-tastic music selection all came together to make me feel much more comfortable and have more fun. Yay!

- Classes. I have them, or at least theoretically I do. Friday morning I had 1 person signed up for basic computer, which started today. After sitting in the hallway for a sign up sheet for an hour I had 15 more people signed up and 5 more for my math class, a feat unparalleled in its scope. But, even though I sent out reminders on Saturday I still had 0/4 show up for my class this morning and only 1 out of the 6 people I had signed up for math class show up this afternoon. When I called they all claimed that today was no good. Oy... Wednesday will hopefully be a redo, but now I'm a day behind. Hope they like coming on Saturdays...

Well, that's enough griping for now. Hopefully I'll have the pics from the Robots Vs Humans party up pretty soon, but for now I must get back to work.

Until next time...

"The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers; and, besides, he brags, and is the means of fooling other thoughtless people into going and doing as he himself had done. There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life - life's "experiences" - are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never knew one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side. "
- "Taming the Bicycle" by Mark Twain

Monday, October 5, 2009

C'mon, get down, get down with the sick-ness...



So I've been sick for the past couple of days, causing me to leave work early on Wednesday and not show up on Thursday. Don't worry, it's not the swine flu, just some kind of throat irritating, stuffy nose making, headache inducing bug. I'm on the sunny side now, so everything should be fine. Rachel was down with it too, but she's also feeling well enough to work now.

The Physics and English GREs are this Saturday, so tensions are starting to run high over here. When taking a break from studying means working on grad school applications, you know that something is wrong. But still, Rach and I think we can get it all done in time. My plan is to finish reviewing and correcting my mistakes from the last practice test, take another one tomorrow, rinse and repeat. Hopefully that'll be enough to push my score up another 50 or 60 points or so.

After the GRE we are looking forward to letting loose and going crazy with such events as a book fair, the Zombie Pub Crawl and the inaugural big Admission Possible party. Should be some interesting pics up about that come this weekend.

Until next time...

"Supposing is good, but finding out is better."


- Mark Twain in Eruption; Mark Twain's Autobiography

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Quizling

Apparently I have a lot of these in conjunction with my work...

On Wednesday we had a big staff meeting to get everyone together and meet the new staff members and Americorps volunteers. As part of it we had a lot of ice breakers and other community building exercizes, including a quiz. The first page was all about CommonBond terminology, so I'll skip that one, but the next two pages were much more friendly to outsiders. Here we go!

Culture Quiz
We work with a lot of youth inour positions and it seems, at times, that they know a lot more than we do! How hip are you to these pop culture terms? Write your definition for each term in the space below.

1. Emo
2. Bromance
3. Crunk
4. Bling
5. BFF
6. Soul Patch
7. Dunzo
8. TTYN
9. OTFL
10. Bogart

City Trivia
CommonBond has family sites in a number of cities. Write the name of the city to its best description.


Choices include:
Golden Valley, MN     Little Falls, MN     Bloomington, MN     Milwaukee, WI     St Paul, MN
Edina, MN     Cedar Rapids, IA     Maplewood, MN     Sleepy Eye, MN     Northfield, MN
Minnetonka, MN     Plymouth, MN     Red Wing, MN     Maple Grove, MN     Minneapolis, MN


1. Several major corporations, including General Mills, base their operations in this city:
Golden Valley
2. The company that invented post it notes is headquartered here:
Maplewood

3. Former governor of Minnesota and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura and his family used to call this city their home:
Maple Grove

4. The rollerblade was created in this city:
Minneapolis

5. America's best place to live in 2008 according to Money Magazine:
Plymouth

6. Charles Lindbergh's home town:
Little Falls

7. Named after a Sisseton-Sioux chief with a droopy eye lid:
Sleepy Eye

8. Home to one of two "dead letter" offices in the U.S.:
St Paul

9. The headquarters for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles is here:
Milwaukee

10. John Denver wrote some of his greatest hits while living here:
Edina

11. Jim Ramstad, U.S. representative of this suburb, announced his retirement from Congress here:
Minnetonka

12. Ashton Kutcher was born here:
Cedar Rapids

13. The small city was the origianl home of Hamline University:
Red Wing

14. This city is the site of the last bank robbery of the Jesse James Gang:
Northfield

Answers are below the question- just highlight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Trogs

As I mentioned earlier I am currently involved in a GED training course sponsored by the Minnesota Literacy Council, and it has been one of the best and most interesting trainings that I've ever had. Every lesson has had a good blend of lecture and class involvement time and has had an air of Prussian efficiency, if such a thing exists anymore. No time is wasted, everything goes according to schedule, and the teacher is awesome.

One of my favorite activities that we did in class was the Trogs lesson. The point of it is to get the tutors to understand what it's like to read English poorly, and it does its job very effectively. Since it was so fun, I decided to copy it over onto the blog and have you all try it. If the pic is too small, just click on it for the fully blown up version. Have fun!


Until next time...

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
-unverified quote supposedly by Mark Twain

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes


As you may have heard, they are making a movie version of what is probably my favorite childhood book: Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. I am understandably pretty excited about this as
a) the trailers look good
b) It's where the wild things are
c) Max is the hero!

Going along with all this craze is http://www.terribleyelloweyes.com/. It's a collection of tribute art about WtWTA and some of it is pretty amazing. The piece at the start of this article is from there, and so is this one:



It's a retelling of Where the Wild Things Are as The Magic Flute, which is pretty amazingly complex and well executed. More stuff like this and other awesome things are on the site. Go check it out!

Also, a trailer for the movie, in case you haven't seen it yet:



Until next time...

"...this curious & pathetic fact of life: that when parents are old & their children grown up, the grown-up children are not the persons they formerly were; that their former selves have wandered away, never to return again, save in dream-glimpses of their young forms that tarry a moment & gladden the eye, then vanish & break the heart."
- "Memorial to Olivia Susan Clemens"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happiness is....

... having your computer back!

After the whole debacle about getting me my free shipping, I was worried and halfway convinced that ASUS would not only take a lot of time, but also find reason to charge me for repairing the damages done to my laptop. Well, I got the laptop back today, only a week after sending it out, and I wasn't charged anything at all!

So ASUS: it still doesn't make sense to me why you can't just send an e-mail to my Gmail account, but I forgive you for the other stuff. You made my computer work again. Now if I can only get my touchpad working again...

Speaking of that, if anyone has an idea of how to fix it I would be most appreciative. And yes, I've already downloaded the latest drivers to no avail...

But yeah, I should be able to post pretty regularly now. Exciting!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

District 9: A Review

District 9 has been out for a while, but I figured that some of you might be interested in seeing it/simply dismiss it as "an alien movie." It is much more than that. In my previous post I believe that I used the term "Hotel Rwanda with aliens" and I meant it. This is the most realistic, gut wrenching movie involving aliens that I have ever seen as it takes the entire premise and turns it on its head.

The movie begins (and is interspersed) with documentary style interview with various people and their views on the events of the movie. We learn that 20 years ago a large alien space ship entered Earth's atmosphere and came to rest over, of all places, Johannesburg, South Africa. The South African government breaks into the ship after several weeks of waiting to discover that the craft is basically derelict and the occupants are barely clinging to life. In a humanitarian move the gov't brings the aliens to earth and sets them up in what becomes the eponymous slums known as District 9.

The aliens in this movie are an oppressed minority that are generally looked down upon by humanity. While possessed of great technology, they do not have the capacity to create more, and most seem to be devoid of any kind of motivation to use it. They are easily taken advantage of by Nigerian crime lords, the decidedly questionably moral company Multi-National United and any others that come across them. More importantly, because they are in fact not human humanity seems on the whole to not deem them worthy of humane consideration. There technology is also almost worthless to humans as only beings with alien DNA can use them, leaving the aliens (racial slur of choice: Prawn) with few to no bargaining chips on the table.

The movie is very graphic, realistic and at times depressing. The actions scenes fully take in how horrible the combat is, especially when the awesome might of alien technology is used against a human target. And even then, you realize that most of the movie is simply about survival: survival of the main character, survival of the aliens, survival of hope. The atrocities that humans inflict on the aliens is rather incredible in its brutality, vehemence and conviction, recalling and surpassing anything that happened in any human race conflict.

That isn't to say that everything is horrible in the movie- the seemless blending of computer generated imagery and real world footage is simply amazing and the absolute best job that I have seen of it in any film whatsoever. Everything feels real- the whine of ships' engines, the awkward gait of the aliens, the rust on everything, the lighting, firing and damage effects of the alien weapons, the omnipresent site of the alien mothership- all feels solid and truly there. And I guess that that is part of the reason that it is so horrible at times, as it feels that this could easily happen.

Because it was so realistic and because it has a pretty damn good story overall, I really liked District 9. I'm not sure if I would see it again, but seeing it once was an excellent experience. Just make sure that you know what kind of movie it is before going in.

But, words only do so much. Here are a few of Neil's previous works so that you can get a feel for what kind of movie it is.






Until next time...

"It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could 'a' laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course, it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest."
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back Again

Well, I originally intended to wait for my computer to be fixed before I started blogging again, but that seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time. So here I am, yet again.

The new term of Americorps service began two weeks ago, and so far the new corps looks to be shaping up rather well. A new thing that we're trying this year is being social outside of Corps activities, and so far it seems to be a success. There's talk of going to the Summit brewery in a few weeks for a free tour for some free beer which I am particularly quite excited about. The corps also seems much geekier this year, which makes my alpha geek status an asset rather than an albatross.

I've also started doing some training on teaching finally! Only a year late, but better late than never I guess... It's with the Minnesota Literacy Council and is targeted at teaching us to teach adults how to read, write, do math and prepare for the GED, but there is plenty of material about classroom management and whatnot that I believe will be very useful for my basic computer class as well.

But not everything has been work related. I've been hunting down grad schools, studying for the Physics GRE again, and doing plenty of hanging out. Of particular interest:

- I was involved in a theater production! Bedlam Theatre, one of the more liberal establishments out there held a variety show called Super-ROMP and apparently always has a segment called the Five Minute Movie. This year's selection: Wrath of Khan. I got to play the part of First Officer Chekov and the Starship Reliant and it was very fun (if exceedingly chaotic and crazy).

- Went to a wedding on Wednesday September 9th where there were exactly three people that I knew and none of them were related to the bride or groom. Apparently one of Rachel's old family friends was getting married and chose her to be the maid of honor. Speaking of which, I need to get a pic of her in her dress up here, because WOW... The couple and their friends were all total dorks which was awesome, and the wedding was held in a large park with a vey nice vista to serve as the backdrop. We also got to take one of the three wedding cakes home, which was incredibly awesome! General note: allowing the wedding guests to blow bubbles rather than throw rice is a very nice and smart alternative. Plus it makes for some great photos!

- Went to go see the Muppet Movie last night at the Uptown Theater. I had never seen it before and Rachel was super excited about seeing it on the big screen. Have to say that I loved it and all of the exceedingly random celebrity cameos that populate it, plus general insanity of the different muppets and the plot line.

-District 9:  a gut punch of a movie if there ever was one. Expect a full post on this awesome but emotionally draining movie. And yes, I did just use emotionally draining to describe an alien movie... think Hotel Rwanda but with aliens.

That's all for now... will attempt to do some regular postage of stuffs. Until next time...

"Let us adopt geologic time. Then -- time being money -- there will be no more poverty."
- Mark Twain's Notebook, p. 137

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Work Limerick!

I just got this card today from my supervisor thanking me for the year of work that I've done here. I thought you all (especially you Mom) would appreciate having a look at it:



And yes, it is actually a puzzle.

-Max

Friday, August 21, 2009

Technical Difficulties

So, like how I've been updating three whole days in a row? Well, it's stopping now, as my computer decided to have itself a clusterf%$#. It began with noticing the case was cracked and continued with my touchpad mouse no longer working. I think it was a driver issue but didn't realize it wasn't an Asus driver until today, when my computer decided to sign its "Don't Resuscitate" clause and no longer accept power from my charger. I barely managed to copy my data over but... oyveh Maria.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Decision

Over the past month or so I have been intermittently looking at graduate schools, as I plan to apply during this coming Fall (is that really only a week and a half away? heh heh, hooo boy...). While looking at graduate programs for Physics I came to a stunning realization: I don't particularly want to go to Physics grad school. It's not that I don't like Physics, far from it; it's just that I honestly can't see myself sitting in a lab and performing experiments for the rest of my life, or even in my near future. Also, it's difficult to find programs with the research that I want to do (*cough* metamaterials *cough*), and most of the other avenues of research that I am interested in easily fall into materials science, which is a different program all together.

So goes my first realization. As I continued to look at programs, I kept on noticing that they were occasionally offering something called "Physics Education." Intrigued, I checked it out and was instantly attracted. Here was a course of study based solely around finding and using better ways to teach people Physics. Some departments didn't have a full fledged Physics Education program but did have Science Education in which one could get a Physics specialty. And enter my second realization: I really like to teach.

I guess this second realization had its roots much earlier this year, when I started teaching classes at Skyline. Sure it was frustrating to get students to come to class and stick with the program, but when they did it was pretty awesome. And then with the GED program I got to branch out and help people learn about different subjects. When I began reading the descriptions of the Science Education depts. I connected the dots and saw that this was what I wanted to do with my life... or at least for the next few years.

So, I am going to forsake research for now and focus on learning to pass on what knowledge I have to others. I'm still debating on whether to go for a masters (lets me teach at high school or community college level) or for a doctorate, but hopefully I'll have that figured out before long.

Until next time...

"To be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler--and less trouble."
- Doctor Van Dyke speech, by Mark Twain, 1906

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In At The End

My term of service with CTEP is drawing to a close. Come 3:00 Saturday the 29th I shall be a free man, beholden to no master!

At least until September 8th, anyway. But for now there is (are?) tons and tons of paperwork to do. I've already submitted client data and even had my exit interview, but the major piece left to do is the stuff related to my civic engagement, the E-Waste Project.

Speaking of that, our PSA:



It went over very well at our civic engagement presentation last Friday; here's hoping it continues to kill 'em tomorrow...

But anyway, there's a lot of reporting that we have to do for this project. The CTEP reporting isn't that bad, but since we got a grant to support our project we have to submit all sorts of detailed reports on that end as well. Technically the latter is due the 15th of September, but we'd like to finish it before the 29th if possible.

In other work related news, I no longer have to work 15 extra hours a week anymore! Apparently there was a combination of me working overtime and the computer program forgetting that I had an extra week in there to get things done. So now my Tuesdays and Fridays (except for this week... really weird schedule) are free again! Yay! And we got mango cake at an end of the year work party the other day! Yay!



And I swear that I've done other things besides work in the time between my posts. I saw a couple of Fringe Theater Fest shows, have restarted regular weekly gaming sessions for my Changeling game, been hanging out with various people, discovered a new restaurant/bar that I have had no reason not to have discovered yet (The Bulldog- excellent burgers AND a mostly belgian/craft brew beer list? yes please!), and got to meet the family and bride that Rachel will be maid of honoring for in September (I knew the meeting was going well when the topic of conversation switched to a mix of Daleks and Warhammer minis). And also looking at grad schools and coming to a surprising decision, which I shall detail next time... hopefully...

Until next time,

"The bane of Americans is overwork--and the ruin of any work is a divided interest. Concentrate-concentrate. One thing at a time."
-Letter to Orion Clemens from Samuel Clemens, 5/12/1880

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cool Tool: Audacity

Hey all, just wanted to share a Cool Tool that I found a while ago called Audacity. I first heard about this program through CTEP at one of our corps days and was instantly intrigued. It's a free, open source piece of software that allows you to record, mix and alter sound files. It's also fairly easy to use and can create .wav and .mp3 files with ease.

At first I thought that I could only use Audacity to alter music that I had downloaded on my computer or files that I recorded with a mike. This was fine, as it allowed me to have fun adding comments to audio files or switching songs into different keys. It's also been a great tool at work for my Kids' Computer Club, modifying the tykes voices so they sound like adults or letting them change their favorite songs into slow-mo or chipmunk speed. You can also do more practical things like remove noise from recorded audio or change the tempo of a file so that it will fit better along with a presentation that you've been working on.

Today, however, I came across the following video tutorial that tells you how to use Audacity to record streaming audio without relying on a mike and external speakers, thereby preserving the original sound quality. This is huge for me, as I only have 2 microphones at work (counting my laptop's internal mike) and finding audio files on which I can have the kids experiment has been a struggle. Now I can just have them look up a song on YouTube and record it directly into Audacity!

Here's the tutorial; it will also tell you how to install Audacity and get the additional program that it requires to save its files into readable ones.



*Edit*
And here's another useful set of tutorials that I managed to find.

*Second Edit*
At least for me there were some technical problems with getting Audacity to record streaming audio files (stupid Vista!). To fix this, go to this link and follow the directions. You'll have to switch recording apparati using the Edit-> Preferences in Audacity, but it shouldn't be too much of a bother. Also, make sure that your computer's sound is turned up when you record, as it affects how loud your Audacity recording is (though you can alter the input amplification from your recording device in Audacity/alter the amplification after the fact as well).

I hope that this was useful; I'll try and do more posts about useful free tools that I've found in the future. Until next time...

"We often feel sad in the presence of music without words; and often more than that in the presence of music without music."
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teching, among other things

The past week was fairly busy. As mentioned before, I had tech for Panda Sandwich and WTF in the Garden of Eden. The shows went very well, especially on the last night, and I think everyone had a good time.

The tech booth was pretty awesome as I had to climb a ladder to get to it and it was open air, so if something sounded to loud or soft I could hear it right away and adjust on the playlist.



The first night they had a lot of bands around to get more people to come, including one band that really blew me away. They are called Bad September and sing Victorian-influenced songs while dressed in period gear. They're also led by John Heimbach, who runs Walking Shadow Theatre Company. I think my favorite was about a duel between Tesla and Edison, though the one where the chorus is a recitation of chess moves was pretty spiffy too.



I also helped filming a PSA for the Electronic Waste project that I've been working on. It was really interesting to see all of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, as well as the sheer amount of equipment and time that you need to film a short minute long PSA... not to mention cut it down to size! I'll post the PSA after it's all finished... but for now we have pictures a plenty.



Yay first video post!

Until next time...

"It is a fairy play. There isn't a thing in it which could ever happen in real life. That is as it should be. It is consistently beautiful, sweet, clean, fascinating, satisfying, charming, and impossible from beginning to end. It breaks all the rules of life drama, but preserves intact all the rules of fairyland, and the result is altogether contenting to the spirit. The longing of my heart is a fairy portrait of myself: I want to be pretty; I want to eliminate facts and fill up the gap with charms."
- Interview with Mark Twain on Peter Pan in Seattle Star, Nov. 30, 1905, p. 8

Monday, July 20, 2009

Too many things!



The above is a picture of SKROLBORG- the Viking Art of the Axe. See bottom of post for the show it is from. And COME!

Last week my dad and bro drove up from New York on motorcycles to hang out with me. It was definitely a ton of fun. As Rachel put it, "I have never eaten so well in my life!" Mostly because we decided that an extended gastro tour was the best way to show my fam around the Cities. Very strangely they appeared for the exact same time as we had the coldest days of July on record... heck, a lot of the pics around Lake Calhoun looked like it was winter out.

Awesome things we did included:
-visited many bars including the Muddy Pig
-went to the Science museum and saw Harry Potter (mini-review: very good. Hilarious, suspenseful and badass at all the correct points. Go see it.)
-went to the Tour de Fat, a bike and beer themed festival put on by Fat Tire
-saw a great Blues band at Famous Dave's
-not only convinced Siegi that Minneapolis exists, but that it is a great place to live (woohoo veggie restaurants and Green Way!)

Troubling things in my life include grad school hunting, GRE studying and making sure that I get all of my hours in for Americorps. Grad school hunting is proving to be scarier than when I last tried it, as now I'm trying to find schools that have both Physics Education and Physics courses, as I'm not sure which would help me out more right now. That question makes it all the scarier, as I'm actually at the point where I need to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life, a question that I have avoided for nigh on 23 years. But that could (and will) probably be a post of its own... For Americorps I need to do approximately 15 more hours per week than I normally do to get everything done in time (took one too many vacations I think...). I think I have enough work that I could do to get it all done, but it means giving up every day except maybe Sunday to work to get it all done on time. And the GRE sits there, mocking me and my lack of time.



I'm also currently involved with Panda Sandwich and WTF In the Garden of Eden. This relapse into doing tech is devouring my life, so come and see it on Wednesday through Saturday, doors open at 7 and show at 7:30. Is at Bedlam Theatre. Be there.

p.s. And yes mom, I am able to do tech and do all my other stuff as well. It just means I have no free time. *sigh*

Until next time...

"Suicide is the only sane thing the young or old ever do in this life."
- quoted in Mark Twain: God' s Fool, Hamlin Hill

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

So, happy 4th of July (which it apparently is). Sheesh... I've been gone for a while, mostly because I was using making a video of Siegi's grad as a way of not posting for a while. So, some interesting things have happened in the interim:

- Summer schedule at Skyline has started, which means that I am teaching more classes per day but have an assistant to help me with it. Hopefully I will be teaching kids to use GIMP and make blogs, so you might actually see the fruits of some of that labor. Also, I am teaching Math, Science, Reading, Writing and History to middle aged Somali women in hopes that they will earn their GED. Yay teaching high school!

- I went home and surprised the house with Rachel at 2 in the morning. We had a lovely wine tour, looked at Cornell, and hung out with the fam. Also, the UP is lovely this time of year.

- Played lots of Warhammer and have been (hopefully successfully, though very unfortunately intermittently) running my Changeling campaign, which is about to culminate in the last session of the first chapter.

- Started studying for the GRE again as well as researching grad schools. It's starting to get real...

- Went to the Summer MN Beer Fest and got very drunk off of many delicious beers on a perfectly cloudless day. I'll hopefully post my findings on the blog before long.

- Got the swine flu, which I am just now getting over. It's a blast of a disease, let me tell you. Not 100% sure it was the actual swine flu, but did have flu-like symptoms for a while.

And tonight we have a 4th of July BBQ, though the weather is looking tres awful. So, we'll see how that goes. Anyway, happy 4th, and hopefully I'll be posting more regularly from now on.

Until next time...

"The quality of independence was almost wholly left out of the human race. The scattering exceptions to the rule only emphasize it, light it up, make it glare."
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nik!!


So there's the normal boring stuff about work, but that's not the point!

Nik is here!

Wooo!

I spent Tuesday picking him up from Carleton. We met for an early breakfast at the Tavern and ran into my old prof, Cindy Blaha, and had a nice chat with her. We were shortly joined by Ben, Kristine, Laura, Lisa, and an aikido guy named Marios(sp?). After that Nik and I just wandered around, talking about many different things from work to how evolution would occur in the Matrix. We had a bit of trouble finding Carls to hang out with, but we eventually tracked them down and spent a few lazy hours chatting on the Bald Spot. It felt really good to be back and not be there for some specific event, as it always felt weird before. Just coming back to chill out was a blast and felt perfectly normal. Ah Tuesdays... how I love thee...

The next couple of nights we did awesome things:
Wednesday: Gratuitous amounts of guacamole and salsa!

Thursday: Gratuitous amounts of RPG planning and watching Enemy at the Gates!

And on Friday, we went to the Science Museum! Unfortunately the Fear and Water exhibits were taken down, but we still had a lot of fun marveling at the exhibits.



And then we had gaming, including Des via video chat. It promises to be a very interesting game, and one where you have to pay attention to the mortal world at least a bit more. Russell learned this especially after being chased and tackled by police officers for resisting arrest and squatting in an abandoned house. Never mind that it was his house, just 10 years out of date.

So yeah, awesomes! Until next time...

"The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money."
- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, by Mark Twain

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Week of E-Waste


This past week was an incredibly hectic one. I have been running around at work almost every day trying to put out various firestorms ranging from broken printers to kids screaming for cookies and the right to use my laptop. The most aggravating of these problems had to do with my electronic waste project.

For those of you who follow regularly, you will remember that I have been working on getting materials translated and printed for the Cinqo de Mayo festival that was held on Saturday, May 2nd. I sent my files off to the printer on Tuesday and believed my work to be done. Unfortunately I got a call as I was driving to work from the printer, saying that the text of my files was very bitmappy and wouldn't look very good as printed. It turns out that they needed a publishing program file to make sure that there weren't any unnecessary artifacts with the picture.

Herein lay the first problem: they suggested using InDesign or Quark to remake the flyers. Unfortunately this was not possible, as neither I nor CommonBond have access to those programs. I reached a workaround by promising that I would get them a .pdf file from Microsoft Publisher, which seemed to be the most agreeable solution.

I rushed to work, thanking the Lord that I don't have open lab or classes on Thursday mornings and started working on the project. I ran into problem #2 almost immediately: My office computer did not have Publisher installed on it. Not to worry, I said to myself, I'll just use one of the lab computers! The Publisher system worked on those computers and I quickly whipped up a document and went to save. Here we run into problem #3: I couldn't save in a .pdf file, only a .ps. Problem #4 consisted of none of the computers having the necessary programs to convert a .ps into a .pdf. I tried the computers upstairs, my supervisor's computer- none would work.

The solution was found through a lucky combination of my love of open source software and 40k blogs. It turns out that a week ago or so one of the blogs that I read over at FTW had an article on creating magazines and had posted a link to Scribus, an open source version of InDesign. I had downloaded it and summarily forgotten about it until I was desperately looking for help online. I quickly booted up the program, made a relatively ugly version of the document thanks to my unfamiliarity with Scribus and its inherent user hostility and sent a .pdf copy off to the publishers.

The hectic morning developed into a hectic afternoon (planning a dessert party for volunteers, open lab's many wonders) and was followed by a hectic corps day in which I drilled through concrete for 7.5 hours and got to drive through rush hour traffic on I-94 with a screaming baby in my car.

Saturday was a bit better- the day was crap (none of my students showed up, kids were demanding a lot of attention), but the evening was at Cinqo de Mayo. All of my materials were there, there was a latin beat being played across the street, and we managed to capture a lot of attention and hand out a lot of flyers thanks to our dancing cell phone costume. Oh, and we won "Greenest Booth at Cinqo De Mayo" as well!

And on Sunday I rested, and it was Good.

Pics of this weeks adventures can be found here. C'mon, you know you at least want to see the dancing cell phone...

*edit* An addendum to the talk of Friday's corps day: I just got this e-mail from one of my supervisors.

"Hi Max, Carolyn wanted to make sure you got a special thanks for “drilling into concrete all day long” on Friday. Happy Monday!"

Until next time...

"I do not like work even when someone else does it."
- "The Lost Napoleon" by Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Contest

So lately I have been Mr. Super Productive at work, banging out curricula, posters and e-mails like nobody's business. Plus I had attendance at my class yesterday and I got to help a lot of people. Go me!

Most of my work has been geared towards our e-waste project, because it's finally bearing its first fruit! This upcoming Saturday is Cinqo de Mayo (which I think I mentioned already...) so we've been getting geared up for that, and our PSA is finally starting to take form. Today we had another meeting with our ally from SPNN and made a lot of good progress. In particular I rocked it with the results of my big search for stock footage, photos and music yesterday. It all costs money, and we aren't exactly made out of that, but it's definitely affordable and within reach.

So, this brings me to my random request. One of my objectives is to find a ravine filled with electronic waste (i.e. broken computers, tvs, monitors, etc.). It could be a ditch, or even a field or wood, but we need some pictures of this for our PSA. So, if any of you happen to see such a thing and either tell me where it is so I can take a pic of it or, even better, you take some pictures of it yourself and send it to me, I can promise a prize in your future. Caveats include not having put it there yourself, so you can scratch that option right off.

Some additional targets of opportunity if you find yourself immensely bored:
- stock music appropriate to a kitchen scene in a sitcom. Check out istock, revostock or the music bakery for things of this nature.
- stock footage involving e-waste. We got some great clips of a tv being tossed out of a truck in slow-mo, but it's always nice to have more.

Additional prizes will be given to people who complete these secondary objectives as well, probably of the yummy variety.

Until next time...

"When we do not know a person--and also when we do--we have to judge his size by the size and nature of his achievements, as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business--there is no other way."
- Christian Science, by Mark Twain

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cool Links

It's a rainy Sunday here, so I'm just surfing the web and getting a bit of work done. I decided to skip Church today to offer milady a ride to one of her meetings; figured it was the more Christian thing to do. Quick aside- if you're into 40k, check out Defending Humanity if you haven't already. I have a poll up deciding which units I should use in my next couple of battles and a few battle reports.

Yesterday was fairly lopsided. In the beginning of the day I had work as always. The kids have discovered that they can come into my lab starting at 10, and so they do. Therefore I had a lot of wrangling in addition to my price quoting binge, which was ok. Then my student was late as usual and we only got halfway through the lesson. Need to really work on that...

In the evening we had Russell, Aaron and Kristin over and we played an exceedingly cutthroat game of Monopoly and some Boggle. Apparently Caroline has always played with the rule that if you land on somebody's space they have until the next person rolls to ask for rent. This led to a lot of rent not being paid, mostly due to the huge amount of negotiation that was going on. Deals were being bandied back and forth all game, with subtle threats and occasional blatant favoritism ruling the day. Huge sums of money were exchanged for monopolies which quickly grew to game dominating size, but were then sold off to avoid losing. It actually made Monopoly fun and fast paced- you needed to pay attention, there was plenty of backstabbing and dirty dealing... just like corporate America is supposed to be.

I lost first and got to painting more Warhammer models, and later got sucked into Boggle, which is a much tougher game than I first thought. It's surprising how incredibly simple and easy to spot words can be passed over completely simply based on where you are sitting/what letters you are paying attention to. The best strategy I have found is going for larger words, as fewer people find those and they are worth double points at least. That's how I won one round even though I found maybe half the words that everyone else found.

Anyway, I thought that I would share a couple of cool links that I have uncovered over the last couple of weeks. Pretty good timewasters, and occasionally even entertaining/enlightening, at least in my humble opinion.

First up is 365 Tomorrows, a collection of daily speculative short fiction on what the future might hold. Many very interesting looks at the land of tomorrow, especially those that look at it from decidedly alien viewpoints. Never longer than a page and a half and you get a new one every day.

Next up: webcomic called Heroes Inc. Alternate present where superheroes have existed since WWII and how seriously changed the world has become because of it. Interesting beginnings of a story, and pretty cool backstory as it looks at the proliferation of superpowers from a realistic point of view.

The rules for every single card game in existence can be found here. Found a lot of interesting variants on Euchre, as well as a plethora of two and three player games for those times that you just can't round up four people.

Until next time...

"The rain is famous for falling on the just and unjust alike, but if I had the management of such affairs I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust out doors I would drown him."
- quoted in My Father Mark Twain, Clara Clemens

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kids do the Darndest Things

Thursday was just one of those days where explaining the concept of "fairness" to 2nd graders was the easiest part of the day. Most of my day was taken up with meetings. The first meeting was with IT trying to get me limited admin rights. Unfortunately my technical background is fairly nonexistent and they are running in some new programs, so that was denied. As a consolation prize I might be able to get some in depth training with IT at some point/ be their guinea pig, but it was still a bit of a let down. Then I was trying to wrangle printing companies into giving me quotes for how much it would cost to get 500 flyers printed for our e-waste booth at Cinqo de Mayo. Only a handful have answered me so far which is fairly annoying.

Then we had open lab, the time of week that I always look forward to with joy. Tons of kids, teens and adults all in the same room demanding computers. I've managed to deal with this type of situation well, but the formula gets complicated when we introduce the concept of returners. Basically I will allow kids to reup their time by doing math games, and if they beat a math game they also get a cookie. This has been a wildly popular program, as you may be able tell, and I had 5 kids trying to get back into the lab for about an hour. All in all this combined to make the entire experience a... special one.

Some highlights from the lab:
- a kindergartner (who is too young by one year to get into the lab) attempting to forge a pass from the homework center so he would appear to be a first grader
- explaining how my policies are actually fair to 2nd graders, then getting complained at because it wasn't fair in their direction
- two kids making a huge poster in the middle of the lab, creating an island people had to walk around but that I couldn't get rid of because it was the first time I had definitely seen them do work all year
- a 1st grader singing "I wanna make love right naw naw naw" over and over again
- two other kindergartners wandering into the lab at 10 minute intervals asking "Is the computer lab open? Can kids come in?" and forgetting my answer every time
- an in depth discussion on iron on shirt designs with one of the teens

Until next time...

"The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know because I have tested it."
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meyers-Briggs Personality Test

I was just sent a link to take this test from one of my supervisors because of the very similar activity we did last Friday at the Science Museum. I thought it might be fun to share my scores with y'all. So, here we go:
Your Type is
INTJ
IntrovertedIntuitiveThinkingJudging
Strength of the preferences %
22381267

All Rationals are good at planning operations, but Masterminds are head and shoulders above all the rest in contingency planning. Complex operations involve many steps or stages, one following another in a necessary progression, and Masterminds are naturally able to grasp how each one leads to the next, and to prepare alternatives for difficulties that are likely to arise any step of the way. Trying to anticipate every contingency, Masterminds never set off on their current project without a Plan A firmly in mind, but they are always prepared to switch to Plan B or C or D if need be.

Masterminds are rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population, and they are rarely encountered outside their office, factory, school, or laboratory. Although they are highly capable leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once they take charge, however, they are thoroughgoing pragmatists. Masterminds are certain that efficiency is indispensable in a well-run organization, and if they encounter inefficiency-any waste of human and material resources-they are quick to realign operations and reassign personnel. Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don't, aren't, no matter who thought of them. Remember, their aim is always maximum efficiency.

In their careers, Masterminds usually rise to positions of responsibility, for they work long and hard and are dedicated in their pursuit of goals, sparing neither their own time and effort nor that of their colleagues and employees. Problem-solving is highly stimulating to Masterminds, who love responding to tangled systems that require careful sorting out. Ordinarily, they verbalize the positive and avoid comments of a negative nature; they are more interested in moving an organization forward than dwelling on mistakes of the past.

Masterminds tend to be much more definite and self-confident than other Rationals, having usually developed a very strong will. Decisions come easily to them; in fact, they can hardly rest until they have things settled and decided. But before they decide anything, they must do the research. Masterminds are highly theoretical, but they insist on looking at all available data before they embrace an idea, and they are suspicious of any statement that is based on shoddy research, or that is not checked against reality.

Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Ulysses S. Grant, Frideriche Nietsche, Niels Bohr, Peter the Great, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Lise Meitner, Ayn Rand and Sir Isaac Newton are examples of Rational Masterminds.

A full description of the Mastermind and Rational is in People Patterns or Please Understand Me II

Until next time...

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar by Mark Twain

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finding the Faithful Fun

Today I went back to the church that I went to on Easter, and it was well worth getting up early-ish (well, at least for a Sunday). The service was billed as a jazz service, and that was definitely true. The jazz band that the church uses as its musicians was in top form, and the songs were all the familiar tunes that I was used to but presented in a very fun way. Everyone was again very friendly and open, and Pastor Jen even remembered my name from last week.

There were a lot of really cool things that the congregation did that now seem extremely plain to see. For instance, after the sermon the pastor opened the floor up for debate about the passage and the sermon on it. There was a lot of good discussion, and it shed some really interesting slants on the different parts of the reading. Another would be offering one another peace at the beginning of the service rather than in the middle. It seemed to start the service off on the right foot, with everyone smiling and offering God's peace right at the onset. They also seem to have kids' sermons every service, and the great part is that a) it doesn't take much time, and b) it takes the service into territory that is not always associated with church. For instance, this time the focus was on recycling as we are supposed to be stewards of the Earth.

All in all, a lot of cool stuff is going on there, and I'm definitely going back next week. It feels good to be going to church again- I've been feeling a little adrift spiritually, and having a place to go and worship every Sunday and actually enjoy it is a nice anchor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Science! and the MDT



Friday did not start off well. I missed the first bus to the Science Museum (where my Corps Day was being held) and had to wait half an hour for another one to arrive. There I got sucked into conversation with what I assume was a Vietnam airborn vet. He was a kind of weirdly interesting guy, and our conversation covered his colored opinions on the rescue operation vs the Somali pirates, the economy, and a lengthy dissertation on the miraculous powers of dogs.

So I showed up to my corps day about 10 minutes late and we did an assortment of random activities that were intended to show us how team building with kids works, as well as how the Design Team does its work (the Design Team being middle and high school kids who use inventive engineering to solve clients' problems- actually a really cool program that I really wanted to lead next year, but oh well). These activities included dividing the group into four using a consistent algorithm, placing other people in our groups on an x-y plot of the Meyers-Briggs personality test, and using damp sponges to play music on a computer. I was also introduced to Make magazine, which looks really, really cool. Basically it's a collection of DIY tech projects that look both fun and occasionally feasible for me to do. I may have to get a subscription... *marks down one more expense on the list*

After this we were given free reign to wander about he museum and go to an IMAX movie. I went to Super Speedway, which was about everyone's favorite palindrome. It was very pretty and motion sick inducing, as all IMAX movies are. My group then wandered about the museum, stopping in at the Science of Fear and the Water exhibits. The fear one was pretty cool- they had a bunch of different booths set up that asked you to do something to rate how afraid you are of things. These included sticking your hand in an enclosed drawer that may or may not contain creepy crawlies, putting your finger on an electrode and waiting for an electric shock, hearing creepy music followed by a gun shot and being strapped to a table that falls quickly to the floor. The first one actually generated a visceral reaction in me, while the others... not so much. Still, they had lots of cool stuff and facts there. The water exhibit was a little less interesting, but they still had cool factoids about dams, wave power and how much water it takes to create various things.

I then missed my bus again and was late for Manly Drinking Time with Russell and Pechous. Still, we had a pretty good time. We went out to the Peanut Bar under Williams and had well whiskey shots and a liter of Schell Maifest apiece (mmmm...). Pechous then had to bail, but Russell and I stuck around, then headed home for more beer and yet another shot of whiskey. It was a good time- we got to talk, drink, watch 28 Days Later and drunkenly attempt to play Heroes 5 and fail miserably. A pretty good night, I should say.

Until next time...

"The scientist. He will spend thirty years in building up a mountain range of facts with the intent to prove a certain theory; then he is so happy in his achievement that as a rule he overlooks the main chief fact of all--that his accumulation proves an entirely different thing."
- "The Bee" essay by Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just went through the blog and posted tags on everything, so if you ever have an insane desire to look up one of my posts you can find it just a little bit easier.

Plus I'm a bit OCD. But you knew that already.

Ave Imperator

New 40k centric blog DEFENDING HUMANITY is now up and running.Go and check out the progress I'm making with my army, battle reports and various musings on the game in general.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter

This past Sunday was the day our Lord rose from the grave, and it was pretty awesome. First I got up and walked to a church service. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the day was verging on being hot. The service I was going to was being held in Intermedia Arts, a kind of art collective that has fallen on hard times recently. The space was very impressive, and I loved what the congregation had done to set up the worship room. I showed up about half an hour early and therefore got to talk with a lot of the congregation and the pastor. This, plus the actual service convinced me that I needed to go to church more often.

The service was incredibly cute- they had a jazz band playing for the instrumentals, the congregation was all friendly, they had an active youth group, and the little kids were adorable. Case in point was the kids' sermon that the pastor gave. Apparently at the beginning of Lent the kids had taken little pieces of paper with the word "Hallelujah" written on them and put them in a box, as Christians are not supposed to say Hallelujah during Lent (Jesus' death being a sad time and all that noone should be overjoyed and praising. Yay guilt!). So, on Easter they opened the box again and took out the pieces of paper and handed them out to the congregation members while we sang Hallelujah. This plus the general friendliness of the group made me feel very welcome. Apparently they have a jazz service at 10:30 on Sundays which I think I'll try to attend in the future.

After the service I hardboiled some eggs and then went to lunch with Rachel, her mom, her mom's friend Jan and her daughter. We ate at this place called Ecopolitan, where the gimmick is that everything is raw and vegan. So there were a lot of buckwheat and almond "cheese" on things, and the smoothies were necessarily delicious. Service was a bit slow, and the prices were a little high, but otherwise it was a pretty enjoyable place to grab a bite to eat.

Then it was time for egg dying! Kristin and Becky came over at 2 to do this with me, Jason and Caroline. We had a lot of fun and made some very pretty eggs.

Then it was cooking time for me. Rachel proved to be a very able sous chef and helped whip together a 10 pound ham with pineapples, kartoffelsalad, mashed sweet potatoes, a salad, peppers, ants on a log, and two loaves of bread. Cooking was a lot of fun, and it seems like lots of people enjoyed it. Teagle also showed off her skillz by bringing a "butter lamb" and a Jesus-bunny cake. We had a very successful egg hunt, and then served dinner for 13 people. Pics below.



All in all, it was a very good evening, and I'd love to do it again sometime. I just really like hosting people and cooking food for a big group (well, as long as I'm not rushed). Happy Easter!

Until next time...

"Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink- under any circumstances."
- Mark Twain's Notebook