The All-Thing

All stick and no carrot, since ought-three.


六月二十七日望湖樓醉書 (蘇軾)


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Thu, 12 Feb 2004


I feel much better today! Some good friends of mine are in town, and we hung out for a long time yesterday (and again this morning).

Lately I've been feeling like I really am disconnected from people. I have a hard time communicating with anyone. It's so frustrating that I usually just give up. But not with these guys! Sometimes I feel like they're the only ones I can really communicate with. It's such a relief to know that I'm not a complete alien.

Cordelia, Giles, Angel—you guys are great. Don't ever leave me.

Posted at 12:23 | /misc | 1 comment | permalink

Wed, 04 Feb 2004


It's just a waking dream. It's just a waking dream. It's just a waking dream.


Posted at 23:03 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 30 Jan 2004


vodka + smoked salmon: good combination. very tasty!

angel: what is it about this show that makes it so good?

directfb: frickin' pain in the ass to get working with mplayer. i absolutely would love to get ruby-sdl working over this though. ruby seems like the coolest thing ever.

it does seem silly that getting all the framebuffer stuff to work with hardware so ancient you can't even buy it new any more (matrox g400) is so difficult.

Posted at 00:44 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 23 Jan 2004

Conference Paper Deadlines

… that are on Mondays are just plain evil. You guys are killing everyone's weekend!

Posted at 10:21 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 22 Jan 2004

Hackers and Painters Explained

I suppose I need to explain my previous post, which has generated some amount of misunderstanding as to the exact nature of my enthusiasm.

For the past eight or nine years I have been focused on being a researcher and a scientist. That's what I figured I wanted to do. And for the past two, I've been basically idling on that front, waiting for some kind of grad-school-inspiring idea to force me to take the next big drop down the dank dark hole known as academia. And I'm waiting and waiting, wondering why there's no one idea or field of research that seems to really speak to me.

Then one day not too long ago, thinking about my job, I realized that the times when I was happiest, most excited, and most eager at work were not the research itself. They were when I had a fun perl script or something to write. Yes, Argentina, it's the coding I enjoy. Not the actual pushing of the buttons itself, obviously, which main just hurts my hands, but the act of creating useful and well-composed bits of software. I.e., regardless of their ultimate purpose. In fact, the research aspects of it were, while not entirely tedious, often simply a convenient pretext for justifying the code, if not an outright obstacle.

And as the years passed by I have had a constant nagging doubt at the back of my mind that I'm not a particularly good scientist, anyways. I'm not especially curious. I'm not driven to explore things or to push the boundaries. I don't get an endorphin rush from understanding something new. I suppose I like learning stuff, but mainly, I like building. I like creating programs that people will use. I even like writing papers, because it's a creative act. I like generating cool graphs that pack a lot of information in a small space.

I guess I realized that the research aspect of it is ultimately just a means to an end, for me, no matter how many years I've spent trying to convince myself that I should be a scientist. Which is a funny thing to find myself saying, because historically I have espoused the typical "Dammit Jim, I'm a scientist, not an engineer" doctrine and kind of looked down upon those who were but common artisans to my honorable scholarliness.

But I don't really identify myself as an engineer, either. My limited software engineering experiences have been sufficient to convince me that software engineering is a fast trip down a short road to some kind of horrific Phantom Tollboth-style Doldrums of Computer Science Land. The mind-shattering ideas that this essay instilled to me, whether by accident or by design, were that:

  1. I am not alone. There are many poor misguided fools like me in academia who spend their time doing research, and feel like they should be doing research, and are forced to satisfy their creative urges with the occasional guilty self-indulgence of writing a bit beautiful code amongst the usual research prototype drudgery. Every once in a while they hang their head and say to themselves, I'm really a terrible scientist and then resume hacking their 4000-line TCL monstrosity, wondering where that vague feeling of self-loathing is coming from.
  2. Software engineering, that tedious and life-sucking monster, is not the only option in the world besides research coding. If I am not a scientist, I am not automatically a software engineer.

There's no immediate plan of action suggested by these ideas. They are merely food for thought at the moment—albeit food for a starving man. Bills have to be paid, and I'm probably in one of the better positions for being able to write fun code and get paid for it. I just understand myself a little bit better now, and am fooling myself a little bit less.

And no, I'm not somehow suddenly entranced by a bizarre cultish romantic hacker ideal after reading that essay. I am extremely familiar with the complete lack of social life and graces that so naturally springs from being a computer geek. I know there's nothing romantic about it, so fuck you and your flashbulbs. If I could get excited about something that would get me chicks, or that more than .001% of the population could even fucking understand or appreciate, or that wasn't going to leave me blind and with crippling arthritis in my fucking hands at age 40, you can bet the fucking farm I would fucking be doing that instead.

Posted at 00:16 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Sat, 10 Jan 2004


You know how people are like, Christ, it's cold out there? Well, fuck those people. Cause it's fucking COLD out there. Cold!!! I am drunk on so much whisky that I want to spell words like the British (normally I hate the British) and even I know it's cold. Fuck it's cold.

If it were just regular freezing cold, I would be wandering around in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, screaming obscenities at passers-by like a typical Friday night. But no. After approximately 20 seconds of me wearing every single possible layer of my warmest clothing, I was crying icecubes like a frozen baby. If there had been another living organism around, like a cat or something, I would gladly have killed it for the warmth of its carcass. But no.


Posted at 02:57 | /misc | 1 comment | permalink

Mon, 22 Dec 2003

Tee hee!


Posted at 07:49 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Wed, 03 Dec 2003


How many men are there in this picture? 12 or 13?

moving men

Posted at 22:09 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 21 Nov 2003


Well well. Various pressures that have been brewing for several years now have come to a head (really, I am not trying to make some kind of strained (ack!) sexual metaphor here) and I have begun studying Japanese.

I'm on day two and it's still fun. That's a good sign. Usually if something lasts till day two with me, it will last a while.

I suspect Japanese will be a little easier for me than for most, as I've already been exposed fairly extensively to the sound of the language, and already have more kanji than you can shake a stick at under my belt. But we shall see how day three goes.

The nice thing about having no real friends is that I can hold a full-time job, study Chinese, Japanese, and bluegrass fiddle, and still have time left over to drink (by myself, obviously) and play Xbox all weekend long.

Posted at 22:25 | /misc | 2 comments | permalink

Mon, 17 Nov 2003

I got tha blahs


Posted at 07:54 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Tue, 21 Oct 2003

Office View

Damn I have a great view from my office. The entire outer wall is basically one big window, and it looks right out into a whole bunch of trees which are just starting to turn to their autumn colors. The sunlight is streaming in, the trees are all waving slowly in the breeze, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, the squirrels and shit are running around out there, and I'm drinking a freshly-brewed pot of fine Formosan spring oolong.

And to think, I could be a grad student suffocating in my own stench in the concrete bowels of Wean right now.

Posted at 09:59 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 11 Sep 2003


Today at work I:

  • spanked myself with my coworker's new translucent purple gel wristpad while making loud pain-yet-pleasure yelps as my boss's boss walked by with his family and baby daughter;
  • ran out of my office brandishing a plastic knife in each hand and yelling prepare to be boarded! only to see the same boss's boss involved in a serious business conversation in the hallway;
  • found myself counting the hours since my last drink; and
  • drove someone I like to send me an email about how much of game-playing, manipulative, bad person I am.

Should I just go ahead and start the betting pool now?

Posted at 17:55 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Fri, 05 Sep 2003

Log Age

The Koran, allegedly, is the origin of the half your age plus seven rule (i.e. as the lower limit for dating/sex). But modern times call for modern rules, and thus I'd like to introduce the concept of log age.

Because the modern age is digital, and because it just works out better this way, we'll be using base 2. Your log age is simply log base 2 of your regular age. We'll stay with the traditional practice of dropping everything past the decimal point in casual conversation, so here's the quick conversion chart:

Traditional age | Log age
            < 1 | don't ask
              1 | 0
            2-3 | 1
            4-7 | 2
           8-15 | 3
          16-31 | 4
          32-63 | 5
         64-127 | 6

(So that solves my birthday problem, at least—I'm still 4.)

Now for dating, we'd like a radius of .5 in the log domain, i.e. you can date anyone half a logyear younger to half a logyear older than you. That works out to:

  dating_radius = trad_age / (2 * sqrt(2))

which means I can legally date anyone from 16.1 to 33.8 years old. Modern times being more liberal, I guess.

Posted at 10:00 | /misc | 5 comments | permalink

Mon, 25 Aug 2003


Been having random headaches for the past few months that usually occur on weekends or on Monday morning. Now some of them are definitely hangovers or sinus-related, but I've been doing some experiments and I suspect the majority are caffeine withdrawal headaches. I drink a fair amount of tea during weekdays and generally no caffeine over the weekend.

Does it make sense that they would appear within a day or two? Would I have to be consuming brobdingnagian amounts of caffeine for this to happen, or what?

Posted at 14:26 | /misc | (leave a comment) | permalink

Thu, 24 Jul 2003

Fuck Somerville

I'll be gone for two weeks in August. During that period, both sides of the street will be cleaned. And they are towing. What am I supposed to do with my car?

In fact, what does the City of Somerville Traffic Commission, which in its infinite wisdom has decided that parking for more than 48 hours in the same space is illegal, expect you to do if you go out of town?

This fucking town and its fucking traffic commission. Not only do they charge me an insane amount of excise tax every year (hint: never buy a new car and garage it in Somerville) but they make my life far more difficult than it has to be.

And now they're about to jump on the let's ban smoking boat as well.

Posted at 22:18 | /misc | 2 comments | permalink


I think we are in Rats' Alley where the dead men lost their bones. -- T.S. Eliot