Monday, December 20, 2010

Priorities

Sorry for the lack of posts, I've been really busy with schoolwork and other stuff (like trying to start a website and things like that).

So anyway, a few months back I heard that a show I watched, Axis Powers Hetalia had been licensed for release in the US, which I thought previously was absolutely impossible because it was weird and the episodes were five minutes long each. Oh, and the fact that all of the countries of the world are anthropomorphized and get into wacky hijinks and historical in-jokes. Hilarity Ensues.

A little bit after that, I heard that the English dub was on Hulu. Despite having thirty or so of the episodes in their original language (with English subtitles) on my computer, I wanted to check it out because I wanted to see 1.) if I recognized any of the voice actors and 2.) how many of the jokes they changed (the Japanese language having lots of linguistic concepts that tend to be translated differently from localization group to localization group).

When I went to see the first episode, I was greeted with this:



The fuck? Hetalia was somehow not suitable for minors? I mean, yeah, there are some overtones between Italy and Germany, but you'd have to be a regular anime fan to really catch anything and most of the jokes in the entire show would pretty much fly over the heads of anyone not well-versed in history (including the obscure stuff).

Now, keep in mind, the one show I've watched on Hulu happens to be Gurren Lagann, which is accessible to anyone on the site. Now, granted, I think that TVTropes's description of it as a Saturday Morning Cartoon Made by Gainax (the creators of Evangelion...yeeeeeahh) is pretty damn accurate, but on the other hand, the Japanese are apparently perfectly fine with their kids watching a show in which the main female lead basically wears a bikini and has bouncy boobs and the characters all mention tons of innuendo involving drills.


You know, for kids!

But I can see why Gurren Lagann wouldn't be censored. After all, "minor" covers everyone under 18, including teenagers, and teenagers would hardly be phased by that.

However, there is something that is seriously off.

While on my normal wandering of TVTropes, I came across the article for a rather bleak show called Now and Then, Here and There (which happened to air right after Gurren Lagann on TV).

The summary for the show starts with "Not for the faint of heart" and goes downhill from there. Influenced by the events of Rwanda during the genocide taking place there, it involves child soldiers and rape (which befalls one of the main characters at the beginning of the series), and is said by the article to belong right next to Grave of the Fireflies on your shelf. For the uninformed, Grave of the Fireflies is infamous for easily being one of the most depressing and heart-wrenching movies ever to be made in the history of mankind.

Now and Then, Here and There is on Hulu. Upon starting the first episode...


The screen preceding the show's opening credits.

That's right. There isn't a "not suitable for minors" disclaimer. Of all of the FUCKING shows to be on Hulu, this one is apparently fine for everyone. And if you think I'm kidding, here's the link to the video.

In other words, the people running Hulu seem to think that a comedy show about anthropomorphized countries is more harmful to minors than a show where one of the main characters gets repeatedly raped by soldiers.


...yeeeeeah. If you were wondering at any time why I can't stand Hulu, this is why.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hydra

You know Tyler Clementi, that kid who committed suicide after his jerkass of a roommate secretly recorded him smooching a guy?

If this article is any indication, there are lots and lots of problems involved with this. Considering that it's 11:30 at night right now, I don't know any other way to put this.

Is the suicide of a bright young student tragic? Yes, yes it is. However, what it should NOT be is a symbol for agendas the world over.

First off, look at the title of this article.

Suicide shows need for civility, privacy online

The internet as a whole had very little involvement in this - it's not like the Anonymous is Legion decided to troll this guy, it was one stupid prick who decided to rig his web camera so that he could remotely control it (which, BTW, is something that I don't even know how to do). Furthermore, "privacy online" doesn't work into this, either - it was the guy's roommate who did it, someone who was physically there to begin with to set it up. It's not like some hacker across the country decided to take control of his webcam for the lulz, nor was the victim's computer or account hacked to post the photos. Internet privacy settings or practices had utterly nothing to do with this incident, and it really fucking pisses me off when one person does something bad on the internet and the entire online society/entity gets blamed for it. That's like characterizing the entire United States of America based on the fact that someone got murdered in Chicago. It's ridiculous to title the article like this.

And "civility"? Like I said, Anonymous is Legion had nothing to do with this, it was one single jerk. They really paint the whole internet as a mass of unruly, unwashed, trollish masses with this one statement.

To clarify, yes, the internet was used AS A MEANS, but nothing more than that. This title makes it sound like vast legions of people were egging this guy on, which it wasn't. It was a prick who decided to remotely use his webcam to tweet something humiliating about someone. There wouldn't be nearly as much controversy (ok, maybe less internet scapegoating) if this guy took the photos with his webcam and posted them around campus as flyers, despite the fact that the effect would be the same: widespread humiliation across campus.

It gets better:

"How many suicides will it take?" asked Andrea Weckerle, a public relations consultant who founded CiviliNation, a group that promotes responsible Internet use. "Enough is enough."

Sounds a lot like the anti-gun lobbying groups, if you ask me. "How many murders will it take?" "Think of the CHILDREN." And "enough is enough" sounds ominous enough to raise my hackles. If this one guy becomes enough of a martyr that legislation to regulate behavior on something as vast and international as the internet comes to pass, I'm going to build a giant attack robot and go on a rampage.

People act like this is something new. It's not. The internet suddenly didn't make people mean bullies, they existed to begin with and simply found a shiny new tool to use to torment their victims. Acting like you can "educate" or "legislate" it out of people is fucking ridiculous and reeks of completely and utterly blind optimism that only exists in the minds of five-year-olds who haven't experienced the real world yet. Bullying and the physical/emotional harming of other members of our species is in the subconscious of all human beings, there is NOTHING you can do about it. As long as people can still write and physically speak, there will always be bullies spreading around unwanted information about people among their peers, internet or no.

Oh yeah, BTW, it gets better:

•Gay-rights advocates say Clementi was targeted for harassment because of his sexual orientation.

It would not surprise me if he was mocked for it, but...

"This student taped and mocked him," Goldstein said, referring to Ravi. "Does anyone think that would have happened if (Clementi) was with someone of the opposite sex?"

Yes, I do, actually. A girl could easily be labeled a "slut" or a "whore" using the same exact kinds of evidence - except that that kind of crap doesn't make national news. These people are hypocrites: they decry the bias that contributed to this student's death, and yet it is because of sexuality bias (and the Internet) that this article, with their statement, is even in the national news. People kill themselves all the time and it only makes the local obituary at most. But the instant someone kills themselves because of sexuality harassment, it's BIG FUCKING NEWS. It's sick that this guy and his organization are using the dead student as a martyr to pursue their own agenda, and it's sick that the media is doing the same.

Oh yeah, did I mention that IT GETS BETTER?

To Rutgers officials, Clementi's death put a spotlight on the need for what the university had officially kicked off on Wednesday: a program to promote civility among students.

"How could one roommate do this to another?" asked Rutgers spokesman Steve Manas.

They can do that by being an immature prick with computer skills.

And yet again, another example of trying to influence behavior among people who are supposedly adults. Going off on a tangent here, I'm getting really sick of all of the hand-holding I keep seeing everywhere - in the Dining Halls here, there are "stars" denoting how "healthy" something is, for instance. That just pisses me off because whoever came up with that thought that I was too stupid to know that it miiiight be a little unhealthy to have that swiss cheeseburger with bacon. I'm supposedly an adult, I should be able to take care of myself, even if it's with a little help from family and friends. So please, you condescending pencil-pushers, SHUT THE FUCK UP and let me live my life without your screeching!

Another session was scheduled Thursday for residence hall staff on how to make dorms "laboratories for civil behavior."

Gimme a break. This essentially means that they're likely going to restrict hall behaviors more and more - because forcibly keeping people quiet in their rooms always works so well.

In October, students will be invited to programs and talks that tackle bullying and the proper use of new technologies — including social media.

Because that has worked soooo well in the past. Eradicating natural human behavior DOES. NOT. WORK. Also, twenty bucks says that the students going to these programs know more about how to "properly" use social media more than the people running said programs.

To Internet safety advocates, Clementi was the latest casualty of the Web's ability to abet defamation and shame

See, martyr.

Jessica Logan, an 18-year-old Cincinnati woman, killed herself in 2008 after an ex-boyfriend forwarded her nude cellphone photos to high school classmates.

DON'T FUCKING SEND NAKED PHOTOS OF YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE'S CELLS, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S YOUR HIGH SCHOOL BOYFRIEND! Common. Freaking. SENSE.

Megan Meier, a 13-year-old Missouri girl, hanged herself in 2006 after learning that an Internet romance on MySpace was a hoax.

Which is an indication of serious emotional issues to begin with.

Anthony Scala, an Oregon State University student, was convicted of invasion of privacy in 2001 for using his laptop webcam to broadcast on the Internet scenes of his roommate and his girlfriend having sex in a dorm room.

Proving. My. Point. EXACTLY. I don't remember this ever making national news or being cited repeatedly as an example of why the internet is evil. Media freaking BIAS.

Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a group that educates families about Internet safety, said they shouldn't bother, and that no matter how many kids hurt themselves, the Internet is here to stay.

"The genie is out of the bottle. This is where kids live today, period. ... And as a parent you can't simply shut it out and protect yourself from the brave new world of social media.

...

He said that means schools and parents must teach kids to "self-reflect before you self-reveal;" to respect others' feelings and privacy online; to remember that what you do digitally never goes away; and that everything on the Internet isn't true or accurate.

HOLY CRAP, someone sane in this article, preaching COMMON SENSE!

The Internet continued to be a mixed blessing Thursday. Although more than 46,000 people clicked "like" on the newly established "In Honor of Tyler Clementi" page on Facebook, there also were predictions that the young man would go to hell, and claims that homosexuality is a sin.

They just HAD to put this dig on the internet in there, didn't they? *eyeroll* Never mind that we have people like the Westboro Baptist Church who spew their hate at funerals without the use of the internet...


Am I being a little harsh? Yeah, totally. It's late and reading this article put me in a bad mood. However, I don't think it's at all right to push agendas or demonize large groups of people because a single prick and his friends decided to bully someone using a web camera. Stuff like that just pisses me off.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life Emulates Fiction

So, apparently scientists have finally found a really Earth-like planet. It's a rocky planet (as opposed to the Jupiter-esque gas giants the vast majority of the exoplanets are) in the "habitable zone", where its orbit is not too close to the sun or not too far, and it apparently has enough gravity to retain an atmosphere.

What really grabbed me was this:

One side of the planet is always facing the star, much as one side of the moon constantly faces Earth. This means that the far side of the planet is constantly in darkness. The most habitable region of the planet would be the line between the light and dark regions.

One of my favorite video games is Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, an adventure game in the first person where you explore levels, finding power ups to better your weapons or proceed farther in the game, scanning enemies and other items of interest for awesome info*, solving puzzles, and shooting hostile life forms that are trying to kill you. One of the planets that you explore is called Bryyo, and one of the scannable log entries about it says:

Federation scouts discovered the planet Bryyo ten years ago. The planet's alignment makes most of its surface uninhabitable: 48% of the world is always exposed to the sun, with another 48% shrouded in permanent night. The remaining 4% lies in an equatorial ring of fertile jungle, where the bulk of Bryyo's bioforms dwell.

...so yeah, scientists have found the real-life Bryyo. Prime 3 came out in 2007 and was being developed for three years before that. Real life emulates fiction.

This quote in the article, though, made me roll my eyes:
"Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet," said Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."

It's called dumb luck. Events in space are pretty much random occurrences, it doesn't mean anything if a system relatively close to ours just happened to catch or form a body in the right orbit. Besides, what about the previous exoplanets people have discovered? Nearly all 400 of them were massive gas giants. Just talking about probability using this sample (which, admittedly, could be biased towards the larger bodies due to detection methods), that means that the vast majority of the planets out there are gas giants. Finding a rocky planet is a stroke of luck, nothing more. Assuming that there are a lot of "planets like this" simply because this one happened to be relatively close to ours or that we "found it so quickly" is like assuming that our planet is the center of the universe and has far more influence on surrounding systems than it really does.


Anyway, yeah. Possible habitable planet. That makes the sci-fi fan in me squeal!


*I'm not kidding. I'm pretty sure players don't need to know that the statue they're passing is that of B-stl, Child Hero of Agon, who died in the first Dark Aether raids, like, 200 years ago, to beat the game, but the developers put it in as scan data anyway! Little touches like that really make the game's universe feel more real.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Study Says That I Should be a Lesbian

According to this study, clear signs of upcoming homosexuality in children include not giving a shit about gender roles. In other words, preferring to role-play as Sonic the Hedgehog and building robots and spaceships out of Legos when I was little was a clear indication that I would grow up to be lesbian. Oh, wait.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kicking California out of the US, Part 2

'In-N-Out' hometown bans new drive-through restaurants

BALDWIN PARK, Calif. (AP) — The birthplace of California's drive-through craze has had its fill of fast food restaurants.

Amid complaints of obesity and lines of idled cars stretching into neighborhood streets, this blue-collar town is banning new drive-throughs in hopes of shedding its reputation as a haven for convenient, fatty foods.

It's an ironic development for a community that proudly claims to have opened California's first drive-through restaurant more than 60 years ago — a little joint named, appropriately enough, In-N-Out.

"We here in Baldwin Park have taken strides to create a healthy community, and allowing one more drive-through in is not going to meet that goal," said Baldwin Park city planner Salvador Lopez, who helped craft the ordinance that takes effect Fourth of July weekend.

Lopez estimates the town's drive-throughs and liquor stores outnumber sit-down restaurants and grocery stores six to one.

And with 90,000 people crammed into 6.5 square miles, this suburb east of Los Angeles is concerned that its 17 drive-throughs are causing traffic jams stretching outside its parking lots.

Still, this being the semiofficial birthplace of the drive-through fast-food movement, not everyone is happy with the ordinance.

"They ought to put in more drive-throughs, not stop them," said Isaac Colin immediately after ordering burgers and fries for himself and his wife, Christine, at the Baldwin Park In-N-Out. "It's a waste of time getting out of your car, finding a parking spot, going in, ordering your food."

Maybe cities in other states should cut back on drive-throughs, he said, conceding they might cause traffic problems.

"But not here. This is California," he said.

The restaurant he stopped at is a shrine of sorts to drive-through aficionados, located literally a stone's throw from where the original In-N-Out, the one believed to be California's first such eating emporium, was erected in 1948.

"I used to eat at that one, it was right over there," said another customer, Trinidad Zuniga, as he pointed to Interstate 10, the mammoth freeway that runs from the California coastline to Jacksonville, Fla.

That modest first stand, which had no tables or chairs, was torn down some years ago to make way for the freeway.

And although there is no authoritative record-keeping outfit to say it really was California's first drive-through chow palace, In-N-Out says it was and that's good enough for pretty much everyone here.

"Definitely it was the original," said Mayor Manuel Lozano. "It's one of our icons."

Nevertheless, Lopez said, the city needed to cap the drive-through craze that In-N-Out started so many years ago.

The City Council, following the lead of several Canadian municipalities that in recent years have restricted drive-throughs, voted unanimously last month to put a nine-month moratorium on opening any more drive-through restaurants.

That same week, officials opened an outdoor fitness center they say will be dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.

The changes are being welcomed by some residents.

"To be honest, yeah, we have too many drive-throughs," said Fabian Olguin. He works at the barbershop across the street from the In-N-Out and says he's seen traffic back up from its drive-through onto neighboring residential streets.

"Sometimes I can't even get out on the street," he said, adding when that happens he'll walk over to get his fast-food fix from the restaurant's sit-down section.

The ordinance will take effect on a busy holiday weekend when people begin pulling into their local drive-throughs in huge numbers, loading up on things like burgers and fries to take to the beach, said Daniel Conway, a spokesman for the California Restaurant Association.

At this point Conway says his industry group isn't worried it will start a statewide trend.

Just about the same time Baldwin Park adopted its moratorium, the city of San Juan Capistrano, where In-N-Out has been looking to put a restaurant, moved to ease similar restrictions it put in place several years ago.

"I think," Conway said with a laugh, "that the drive-through is in Californians' DNA."

Yesterday, while we were at Cabela's and looking through the guns, I gravely offended one of my sisters by saying that California is a looney bin full of loonies. I still stand by my judgement of the Golden Hellhole State.

I mean, seriously, the punchlines write themselves. Being me, however, I'm going to totally preach to the choir and be overly redundant.

For instance:
"We here in Baldwin Park have taken strides to create a healthy community, and allowing one more drive-through in is not going to meet that goal," said Baldwin Park city planner Salvador Lopez, who helped craft the ordinance that takes effect Fourth of July weekend.

What the hell makes you think that the addition of "one more" fast food joint is going to curb obesity? Kids don't get fat by being in the mere presence of a drive-through, they get fat because their parents are spineless pussies who can't say "no" to their kids and buy it for them. Not to mention the lack of exercise. I dunno about you, but when I was a kid, I played with my friends outside during the day, and then played video games/watched TV at night (it totally helped that my parents were gone during the day and we weren't allowed, under any circumstances, to touch anything on the entertainment center while they weren't around). And besides, everything on TV sucks now anyway, so there's nothing good to watch to keep me occupied, even with the hundred or so channels I get in the dorm for free. I mean, who the hell can sit through franchisezombie!Spongebob or freaking Chowder without wanting to go on a killing spree? At least our children will have the mental endurance of gods.

But I majorly digress. The real kicker is this:

Amid complaints of obesity and lines of idled cars stretching into neighborhood streets, this blue-collar town is banning new drive-throughs in hopes of shedding its reputation as a haven for convenient, fatty foods.

...what?

When Clark County looked at the numbers of students attending their public schools in the southwest-most part of Las Vegas and realized that their schools were (and/or had the potential of becoming even more) overcrowded, they built a new fucking school.

I mean, I know that the loonies of California have little-to-no common sense, but their logic is so horribly faulty that it makes me want to Hulk out or something. What the hell makes them think that preventing people from opening more fast food places will make the lines of cars disappear?! Here I thought that if a place was overcrowded, it meant that you didn't have enough room or enough places, so you set up a new one to take the pressure off. I guess not.

Seriously, forget about Texas seceding, I want California to become a new state of Mexico so we other states never have to associate themselves with such stupidity!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mind Screw

Ever wondered what it would be like to cross Evangelion with Pokemon?

Nintendo did.



Keep in mind that I've actually watched the mindfuck that is Evangelion and I still found myself feeling lobotomized after watching this.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Made of crap.

Silver is a Computer Science major. Silver is also a Space Studies minor. Silver wants to become a computer programmer specializing in robotics for NASA and eventually become an astronaut.

So why the HELL to I have to take all of these stupid Essential Studies classes?

This is bullshit. English for writing, and Intro to Public Speaking? Ok, I can see actual usage for that. But "Diversity in American Society"? What the hell can you possibly learn in that class that takes up an entire semester? I AM A FREAKING COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR. The only "diversity" I need to know about is how different C++ is compared to Java.

And the ENTIRE Essential Studies program at my school is like this - full of classes that scream "can never possibly be used in any kind of science-based career". Even worse is the fact that I can come up with a few classes off of the top of my head that could fulfill Essential Studies requirements and yet...don't. The class about WORLD WAR II can't fulfill your "Global Diversity" requirement; the same goes for the required class on International Space Programs for my minor. I'm pretty much required to take a foreign language...except that they don't have Japanese, the language I took in high school. And inexplicably, if I wanted to study Latin, I'd have to take TWO semesters of it to fulfill the Global Diversity requirement instead of one semester like everything else (except Spanish, in which you have to take THREE semesters).

In case you're wondering why I'm going off about this, it's because I got an e-mail saying that they just changed the Essential Studies requirements. Yes, that's right, they added MORE bullshit I have to take to graduate that has absolutely no bearing on my future career path whatsoever. Lemme break it down:

I have to take a minimum of twelve classes for my Special Emphasis Areas requirements. This is broken down into (now) four areas:

- United States Diversity. Classes that fulfill this requirement include every last class in the Indian Studies program, as well as classes such as "Geography of North America", "African-American History", and, yes, "Diversity in America". I'm totally cool with taking a history class, but in the name of "diversity"? What the hell? Let's sum up a little of my college experience over this past year:

1.) Made friends with Japanese foreign exchange students attending this college, partly by speaking Japanese with them.
2.) Became involved in the Space Studies program, which includes people from Russia and India.
3.) Moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Yep, I obviously don't know shit about diversity.

Another thing that gets me about this requirement and the one I'm going to be mentioning next is that it's so naive to assume that someone would become more tolerant of different cultures if they took classes about it. Um...no. Sure, I became more interested in Japanese culture when I took my Japanese classes in high school, but I took those classes all four years because I wanted to. Because I was already interested to begin with (years of playing Sonic and Pokemon and watching copious amounts of Sailor Moon as a kid will do that). Trying to like a class that I'm being forced to take and can hardly connect to my major (or my aforementioned interest in Japanese culture), however, is far more difficult and will most likely result in me being apathetic about it at best. And I'm sure there are tons of people out that will handle it worse than I do and will simply hate it because it's yet another class they have to take alongside their major requirements. And I don't blame them.

- Global Diversity. Classes that fulfill this include classes such as nearly every language class, a bunch of Anthropology classes, and classes about eastern religions. In other words, actual classes, which is good for those who are Anthropology majors but bad for people like me who are far, far away from that department. At least they have a class on Buddhism, which I'm *gasp* actually interested in taking because of how prevalent it is in Japanese culture (and because there's a giant penis monster in one of its stories). It still doesn't change the fact, however, that it's yet another requirement that makes me take classes outside of my area of study and thus prolongs my time trying to get my degree.

- Advanced Communication. One of the freaking NEW ones they just HAD to add, and possibly a requirement I will have a serious problem trying to fulfill, because ALL of the classes are 300 or 400-level classes in departments I normally wouldn't need to touch; this would of course mean that I'd have to take an entire LINE of classes unrelated to my major to get to take ONE class that fulfills this requirement. The classes in their departments are that freaking specific. One of the classes is CHEMICAL ENGINEERING PLANT DESIGN I. Others include the Aviation Senior Capstone class (because they can't hinder their prized recruits too much!), the Senior Design I class for the Electrical Engineering department, the Mechanical Engineering Seminar, the senior capstone class for the Math department, and Professional Development II for the medical school. And of course, take a guess as to what two departments are entirely unrepresented in this list? Of course, none other than the Computer Science and Space Studies departments! This means that I'd probably have to take the Senior Thesis class for Honors, despite the fact that I have to be working on my Computer Science capstone at around that time; in other words, it would be like I was double-majoring ON TOP OF the fact that I also have to finish my Space Studies minor requirements. This is bullshit, and they better add classes pertaining to at least one of my departments before my final year of college.

- Quantitative Reasoning. The second new requirement they added. Far less rage about this because the classes aren't half-bad. Meteorology I happens to be included (a class I've been thinking about taking for the lulz because of my obsession with the weather), as is the Introductory Astronomy class that I aced this past semester, which means that I really won't have to worry about this requirement too much.

And then, of course, I have the rest of the requirements for my Essential Studies classes.

- Oral and Written Communication, which I won't worry too much about because I only need to take one more class for it (preferably Business and Technical Writing).

- Social Sciences is far more iffy, IMO. As I've previously stated, this is far away from my chosen area of study. And, of course, none of my Space Studies classes fulfill this requirement, despite space travel and research being an international effort in modern times; likewise, another required class, "Social Implications of Computer Technology", also doesn't count. Seriously, though, looking at this list, I can't find a single class that I think won't feel like pulling teeth to take, because nothing involves my area of study. Making this worse is the fact that I have to take at least NINE CREDITS in this, and they have to be in a minimum of two departments.

- Fine Arts and Humanities is a mixed bag. My band classes count as Fine Arts classes, so I should be fine, and I already took three credits of Humanities via my Inquiry in the Humanities honors class (existentialism is fun!), so that's about six credits-ish of the nine credits I need, and I'm taking Advanced Colloquium in the Humanities next semester (aka "Web 2.0"), so this should be knocked out of the way.

- Mathematics, Science, and Technology is an absolute breeze because this is where my major is. I've already knocked eight of the nine credits I need out simply taking classes required for my major and minor (Computer Science I and Introductory Astronomy) that happen to fulfill this requirement.

- Finally, the Capstone course. Since I'm a CompSci major, my class will be Formal Languages and Automata.

tl;dr, this is a bunch of crap that I shouldn't mostly have to take and only tacks on tons of classes to the other tons of classes I have to take for my degree. For Computer Science alone, I have to take two Electrical Engineering classes, my core CompSci classes, two CompSci electives (will hopefully be taking more than just two; looking into robotics and, for the lulz, 2D and 3D animation and physics engines), two Calculus classes...it totals around 15 classes minimum from my foggy memory of the course catalog. My Space Studies minor has a ton of them, too.

This kind of "jack of all trades, master of none" approach to college education is why more and more people are spending more than four years in college, not to mention why college is considered so prohibitively expensive. This kind of approach is also why I couldn't stand high school and was very eager to go to college.

What is the benefit of doing this? The knowledge needed for classes unrelated to my major is going to enter my head and then instantly leave it when I pass them, I waste more time and money, and I've already demonstrated that, on a mental health level, I don't do very well emotionally when I take a ton of classes at once, which means I have to spread them out more. If more and more requirements keep being added, I might have to go six years in college instead of the five that I've already projected.

This. Is. Crap.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can we kick California out of the US? Please?

San Francisco Approves Cell Phone Radiation Disclosure Law
Retailers will be required to post the amount of radiation emitted by a cell phone or face fines under regulation given preliminary approval by the City Board of Supervisors.

San Francisco is close to becoming the first city in the nation to require retailers to post next to cell phones the amount of radiation emitted by the devices.

The city's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to give preliminary approval to the proposal. The board is expected to give final approval next week, and Mayor Gavin Newsom, an early proponent, is expected to sign the proposal into law.

Potential health risks from cell phone radiation has been debated for years. Despite numerous studies, there's no clear scientific evidence that mobile phones increase risks for cancer or any other illness. Last month, for example, a 10-year study released by the World Health Organization failed to turn up any conclusive evidence.

The San Francisco proposal would require retailers to post the "specific absorption rate" next to mobile phones. The Federal Communications Commission require cell phone makers to register the SAR, which is a measurement of the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body.

In addition, retailers would be required to post information on where consumers can get educational materials on cell phone radiation. If signed the proposal is signed by Newsom, it would take effect beginning in February 2011. Violators would face fines up to $300.

Proponents say the proposal would little more than provide consumers with additional information in making a decision on which mobile phone to buy. "While research continues, this is a simple, inexpensive, common-sense idea that will ensure that San Franciscans have the information they need to choose the right phone for themselves and their families," Renee Sharp, director of the California office of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. The EWG is a national nonprofit research and advocacy group.

However, opponents of the proposal, including many San Francisco businesses, argue that the notices would be misleading, because consumers would assume that less radiation means lower health risk. In fact, all cell phones sold in the U.S. meet federal requirements, and there's no clear evidence that radiation under those levels presents a health risk.

A similar proposal died in the California Legislature this year, following intense lobbying by the mobile phone industry. Lawmakers in Maine killed a similar bill this year, even after the proposal had been watered down in an attempt to attract industry support.

This. Is. Freaking. RIDICULOUS.

It's not even proven to cause problems, and you receive FAR more harmful radiation going to the beach than you do talking on your cell phone! It's all part of the same damn spectrum!

And why just cell phones? Nearly every device these days has a wireless signal - what, you think those aren't transmitted via the electromagnetic spectrum? Your car's antenna receives radio waves beamed all over the place by radio towers; and yes, that is electromagnetic radiation: radios merely "translate" it into sound waves that we hear (think this is insane? Radio waves are used to view certain objects in astronomy with gigantic radio telescopes). Your computer is using waves in the electromagnetic spectrum to connect wirelessly to the internet (and internet services are even provided by cell phone companies using your cell service!!!). Your iPod Touch that has wireless internet is also beaming and receiving such signals. TVs with satellite dishes or radio antennas are receiving radiation. And don't even get me started on the other far more important and omnipresent forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as "visible" light (yes, THAT IS FREAKING RADIATION), ultraviolet light (not only beamed by the Sun, but also by the fluorescent lights that are always present in classrooms), and the background microwave radiation in the universe (aka "the leftover heat/energy from the Big Bang") that is EVERYWHERE, including Earth. AND radiation from space (X-rays and gamma rays are blocked by the atmosphere, but all of the ones with bigger wavelengths totally get through and stop at certain points).

Unless our cell phones happen to be running on portable nuclear reactors (or we switched to using X-rays for communication), there's no way they can put out "harmful" radiation, otherwise we would've had mass cancer outbreaks many years ago from the invention and spread of the freaking radio, not to mention the sheer amount of electronics that we're constantly living around. And did I mention constant radiation from space?

The people in San Fransisco are so ungodly stupid if they think this is making them healthier or somehow stopping them from dropping like flies (not that they are to begin with). This is only going to add more meaningless numbers to the packaging and raise costs for manufacturers and those who sell cell phones in the area.

STUPID. STUPID. MORONS.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nintendo's E3 Press Conference

Holy crap! Nintendo's E3 conference was absolutely mindblowing. For those who didn't watch it:

1.) Gameplay and LIVE STAGE DEMONSTRATION of the new Zelda game on the Wii: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Visuals are brighter and more colorful than Twilight Princess but still keep the basic art style. All motion control will utilize Wii Motion Plus, all items in the game will utilize motion control.

2.) Gameplay footage of Epic Mickey. Visuals look improved, the game will apparently have three distinct kinds of segments: Overworld, 2D sidescrolling platforming, and, apparently, RPG.

3.) Trailer with gameplay footage for a new Mario Sports title.

4.) Trailer with gameplay footage for Wii Party, as expected.

5.) KIRBY WII UNVEILED: Kirby Epic Yarn is a new 2D sidescroller with a very unique art style. Of course, it's ridiculously cute.

6.) RETRO STUDIOS (of Metroid Prime fame) has been working on Donkey Kong Country Returns; trailer shows nothing but gameplay footage!

7.) METROID OTHER M TRAILER SHOWING NOTHING BUT GAMEPLAY.

8.) Physical design and specs of 3DS revealed, as well as the return of KID ICARUS on the 3DS, developed by Project Sora of Super Smash Bros. Brawl fame.

9.) DEVELOPERS WORKING ON 3DS REVEALED, INCLUDING ATLUS. Considering that Shin Megami Tensei (IV): Strange Journey came out for the DS, it looks like it might be Shin Megami Tensei V. Or could be a new Etrian Odyssey. Game series announced for development on the 3DS include RESIDENT EVIL, METAL GEAR SOLID, ASSASSIN'S CREED, KINGDOM HEARTS.

10.) Live press demonstrations of the 3DS's 3D capabilities, as well as demo booths for Zelda Wii on the spot. Articles written by the press should come out shortly.

All in all, extremely memorable and well-balanced performance. Sony will have to work extremely hard to beat this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

You Know What Day It Is.



There was a LOT of debate on how I should spell his name. I chose the one that immediately came to mind because I saw it everywhere, but my mom really disagreed with me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grasping for Straws

This just SCREAMS it.

Neighbor: Times Square bomb suspect 'didn't like the sunlight'

(CNN) -- The suspect in the failed Times Square car bombing is a Pakistani who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 2009 and had not been on national security radar.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested Monday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as his flight to Dubai was about to take off, law enforcement officials said.

Shahzad had traveled to Dubai before. He took a flight there in June 2009 and stayed out of the United States until his return on Feb. 3, officials said.

A woman who said she had lived next door to Shahzad in Shelton, Connecticut, told CNN on Tuesday that the man she knew didn't say much and claimed to work on Wall Street in New York.

"He was quiet. He would wear all black and jog at night. He said he didn't like the sunlight," Brenda Thurman said.

She said Shahzad, his wife and two children and his wife's two sisters lived next to her for about three years, moving out in July 2009. People whom she believes were plainclothes law enforcement officers appeared to be staking out the house Monday, Thurman told CNN affiliate WTNH-TV.

The neighbor said she often saw Shahzad leaving the home in the morning and returning in the evening. She also saw him in his yard with his children, a boy and a girl, and the family usually wore traditional Muslim attire, she told WTNH-TV.

She said she never suspected he might be involved in a possible terror attack.

"I didn't think he was capable of doing something like that. ... I'm very shocked," she said.

Thurman said her daughter often played with Shahzad's daughter, but she herself didn't have much contact with the family.

Shahzad's wife spoke English, but was apparently so insecure about her language ability that she told people she did not, Thurman said.

"I never knew she spoke English until it was time for her to move," Thurman said.

Shahzad's wife told Thurman in July 2009 that the family was moving to Missouri. A few weeks after they left their home, the lender foreclosed on the property and changed the locks, the neighbor said.

Shahzad had made international calls in recent weeks, but said he acted alone in the attempted bombing, investigators said.

Cell phone calls conducted for the purchase of the vehicle used in Saturday's bombing attempt helped lead police to the suspect, law enforcement sources said.

Sources said investigators got cell phone information from the daughter of the Nissan Pathfinder owner. She sold the vehicle to Shahzad on behalf of her father.

She had been talking on the phone to Shahzad in arranging the purchase of the SUV, which was advertised for sale on Craigslist.

The Nissan Pathfinder was parked in Times Square containing propane tanks, fertilizer and gasoline on Saturday night. After police retrieved the vehicle identification number of the Pathfinder, they located the registered owner of the vehicle.

The sources said the owner's daughter had met with Shahzad at a Stratford, Connecticut, grocery store, for the sale. Shahzad took the car for a test drive in the parking lot and bought the vehicle for $1,800 in cash.

Bridgeport, where Shahzad resides, is a working class city of 130,000 on Long Island Sound, 66 miles northeast of New York City. Per capita income there is 26 percent below the national average, and 27 percent of its residents are foreign-born, more than twice the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are three major things wrong with this article.

1.) It's written by CNN.

2.) The headline clearly states that this is from a statement by his NEIGHBOR. How reliable is this, and how does this even make actual, good "news"? I mean, for all we know, his neighbor can be as trustworthy as a politician.

3.) OMFG HE DOESN'T LIKE THE SUNLIGHT HEADLINE HEADLINE HEADLINE BIG NEWS BREAK!! SERIOUSLY? I know it's hard to paint someone who tried to blow up Times Square even more evil than he would already seem, but "Neighbor: HE DIDN'T LIKE SUNLIGHT." just SCREAMS desperation and sensationalism. I don't like the sunlight, it burns my skin (good thing I live in North Dakota, where there is so little sun that the tanning salons are inexplicably still in business), and I'd rather stay inside on good days. THAT MUST MEAN I'M A TERRORIST THAT WANTS TO BLOW SHIT UP! Ladies and gentlemen, sensationalist stereotyping in full effect.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

*puts on tinfoil hat*

Is it just me, or isn't it suspicious that disasters seem to befalling the non-Green power industries as of late?

I mean, you had the coal mine BLOWING UP and collapsing...and now the oil rig BLOWING UP and sinking.

And this is conveniently happening as the guys in the White House are trying to emphasize climate bills...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It looks like...

...NASA's graphic designers were having WAAAAAY too much fun. ;) Looks like I might fit in there.

Astronauts play stars in NASA mission 'movie' posters

Astronauts often aim for the stars, but it's rare that they get to play them.

However, for every space shuttle mission since STS-96 in 1999, which was the first time a U.S. shuttle docked with the International Space Station, the Kennedy Space Center's graphics department has been creating some pretty cool (and kitschy) mission posters.

While some of the first posters created for the Space Flight Awareness (SFA) program were a bit drab, the series has evolved into artworks that depict the mission crews in the sleek style of Hollywood movie posters.

With classic film references ranging from this Expedition 21 Star Trek poster to Battlestar Galactica, Indiana Jones, the Matrix, Ocean's 11, and other science fiction favorites, NASA is certainly getting creative with their shuttle promotions.

So yeah, courtesy of CNET. Of course, this being NASA, there's Star Trek. :D Click on the article title to see the photo gallery.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Minding Your Business"

Most appropriate CNN News segment title EVER.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I told you so.

From a page on a certain kind of tournament I'm interested in:

Players compete in one of two age divisions based on their date of birth.

* Junior Division: Born in 1998 or later
* Senior Division: Born in 1997 or earlier


Grownups SO play Pokemon! *sticks tongue out*

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ah, memories...

Courtesy of USAToday:

New safety rules for school lunches due by July

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — By this summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have launched its most sweeping safety reforms in a decade for the food it buys for school lunches.

But much work remains to ensure that food purchased for the National School Lunch Program — in particular, ground beef — is "as safe, wholesome and high quality" as the best commercial products, USDA official Craig Morris told program suppliers at a National Meat Association conference here last week.

The first step: enacting tougher safety standards for federally purchased beef. Those rules should be in effect by July, Morris said. New safety rules are likely tofollow for other commodities bought for the lunch program, such as poultry, eggs and produce. The program feeds 31 million students each school day.

Beef industry representatives here said they could adapt to the new standards but pressed the USDA to move fast so they know what changes will be required.

The new standards follow a USA TODAY investigation that revealed that beef bought by the USDA for school lunches is not tested as rigorously for bacteria and pathogens as beef bought by many fast-food chains. The newspaper also reported that some food producers have been allowed to continue supplying the school lunch program despite having poor safety records with their commercial products.

The USDA reforms, announced Feb. 4, focus largely on how beef and other foods bought for schools are tested for salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and other contaminants. The department will commission research, including a study by the National Academy of Sciences, to ensure that its testing standards meet those of the most selective commercial buyers, Morris said. He serves as a deputy administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, the USDA branch that buys meat and poultry for the school program.

Not all details of the new testing rules are set, but Morris said beef for school lunches now will be sampled off production lines every 15 minutes — at least four times more often than current rules require. The government already rejects meat that tests positive for salmonella or E. coli O157:H7, but the USDA also will reduce the amount of other bacteria that are allowed, he said.

"We know (the new bacteria limits) will be something a lot lower," said Barry Carpenter, head of the meat association. He said he hopes the USDA will "look at what the industry is able to do now for the most discriminating, large-scale commercial buyers, and then set new standards consistent with that. If they do, I'm comfortable the industry will adjust and not miss a beat."

More testing could bring costs that prompt suppliers to raise prices, he said, "But it doesn't appear from anything I've seen yet that it will be significant."

The USDA reforms also will bar companies from supplying to the school lunch program if they have a poor safety record for commercial products.

The change could prove relevant to companies such as Fresno-based Beef Packers, which is owned by Cargill. The company has a history of salmonella problems, and ground beef it produced commercially last year was recalled after it sickened consumers. USA TODAY found, however, that 450,000 pounds of ground beef made at the plant during the recall period still was bought by the USDA and sent to schools.

Under the new rules, company recalls of products sold commercially could lead to a suspension from the lunch program.

Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said the company supports "efforts to improve safety, including the review of school lunch purchasing requirements." Beef Packers has taken steps to control contamination, such as spraying cattle carcasses to remove bacteria before processing, Klein said. And Beef Packers also will be part of a Cargill "pilot project to use third-party video audits of food-safety practices," he said.

The new beef standards are the first step in reassessing safety and quality standards for "the entire range of commodities purchased" by USDA for school lunches, Morris said. Those commodities — fruits and vegetables, fish and poultry, eggs and meat — amount to 15% to 20% of all food served in schools nationwide. Schools buy the rest themselves.

The review could determine whether the USDA will continue sending schools chicken from "spent hens" — old egg-laying birds. Commercial buyers, such as KFC and Campbell Soup, won't buy the meat because it doesn't meet their standards, but USA TODAY found that USDA has bought millions of pounds of spent-hen meat for schools.

Ultimately, Morris said, the USDA wants to have cutting-edge safety and quality standards for "the entire catalog" of food it buys for school lunches.

The title is because I have fond memories of the public school lunch. Memories like running to the bathroom, heaving, after pouring my fat-free milk in my cereal and finding that there were white chunks falling into my cereal with it. Like buying a salad that had eggs and greens going bad. Like fruit that my mother wouldn't dare buy off of supermarket shelves, no matter how cheap. Pizza that was overly greasy. Undercooked hamburgers that made me retch when I realized that the meat in the middle was still cold.

And people wondered why I always brought my own stuff after dealing with that shit.

It's sad that this kind of rules overhaul has to be put in to begin with - these are our kids were talking about here. I also know from experience that having your kids on a meal plan helps the single mother out in terms of paying for food - so people in hard times have little to no choice about feeding their kids this shit that passes for food in school lunches.

...of course, knowing what I know about the government, 20 bucks says that this won't do shit to change anything. That could just be me being cynical, though.


Oh yeah, the comments for the article by the users piss me off, too.

Schools should quit serving food. The parents can be responsible for their kids, its not the governments responsibility to feed them.
No more complaining about quality, cost can be saved by eliminating the kitchens.

I agrewe if the TAXPAYERS are paying for kids to eat free, it should be sandwiches. If their parents want them to eat better, the they should send them with thier own lunch from home paid for with some of the public aide money they get.......

We are in the midst of a "you need to take care of my kids because I don't want to" movement. The government needs to stop saying "yes". Thank you.

Normally, I'd agree with this if it applied to a normal program, except that this particular one is an extremely personal topic to me (which, I won't lie, makes me a huge hypocrite in terms of government welfare programs). My mother was single and was trying to raise three kids while working her ass off morning to night, she wasn't a lazy ass keeping us for welfare money (which I'm pretty sure we never got anyway, otherwise things would've been a bit better back then). As bad as the school lunch system was, it helped us out when we were younger.

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Personal

Oh yes, it certainly is personal now.

Obama budget would cut NASA moon plan

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is no longer shooting for the moon, with a budget plan that aborts a symbolic but expensive lunar program and spends $6 billion over five years to turn over space transportation to commercial companies.

Some members of Congress immediately promised a fight. One legislator called the plan a "death march' for human space flight. But NASA deployed astronauts and other experts to say the Constellation program, begun under former President George W. Bush to return humans to the moon, was too slow and wasteful.

The space agency's budget would grow to $19 billion in 2011 under the proposed budget released on Monday, with an emphasis on science and less spent on space exploration.

"What this does is open up (space) for more people to be going more places in a way that is not on the back of the taxpayers," NASA's deputy administrator, Lori Garver, told reporters in a conference call.

"The previous trajectory that NASA was on was simply not sustainable," added former astronaut Sally Ride, who served ion a panel that determined Constellation was behind schedule.

"The president's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human space flight," said Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the appropriations subcommittee handling NASA funding.

"Congress cannot and will not sit back and watch the reckless abandonment of sound principles, a proven track record, a steady path to success, and the destruction of our human space flight program," said Shelby of Alabama, whose state is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson has also promised to fight efforts to cut back NASA operations.

MORE COMMERCIAL SPACE OPERATIONS

The new budget extends operations at the International Space Station past its planned retirement date of 2016, suggesting such additions as inflatable space habitats.

Obama's proposal hands over more space operations to the commercial sector, saying it will create thousands of new jobs and hold costs down.

NASA already has spent $9 billion on Constellation and likely would owe millions more to cancel existing contracts. Prime contractors on the Ares rocket program include ATK Launch Systems, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing Co.

Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor on the Orion capsule.

NASA already has contracts with Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences Corp to deliver cargo to the station. SpaceX and other firms also are developing spaceships that can carry passengers to orbit and back.

The budget proposes a revamp of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where staff have feared major cutbacks, as part of making NASA more efficient.

"A major focus of this effort will be to create the 21st century launch facilities and infrastructure needed at Kennedy Space Center, transforming the facility to more effectively support future NASA, commercial, and other government launches," the budget reads.

WHAT THE HELL?! So we're basically going to be sitting around, running experiments on the ISS and praying that our rovers on Mars don't mysteriously die? How are we supposed to prepare for a Mars mission when we can't even get a Moon mission to test the stuff needed for it?! We're just going to sit around and let the other space programs take care of it?! And what the hell's going to happen to the grant our school got?!

Y'know, it really makes me wonder if I should work for NASA to begin with. I mean, *I* certainly wouldn't be happy if I worked on something for several years and it got scrapped.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Homecoming

Not that homecoming. Or that one.

For the past few weeks, I've been in Texas, with my mother. In fact, I helped her move there, in a harrowing three-day journey that I will elaborate upon in Silver Sucks later. It's been snowy and icy, but overall nice.

But time marches on, and, alas, I'm a college student. So the time came when I had to inevitably make my way back to the frigid realm of Grand Forks.

On Saturday, the night of which we had to head to a town around Oklahoma City, I was supposed to pack. So, of course, I spent the entire time playing Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and packed at the last minute.

After eating dinner, laughing at four guys trying to play Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (emphasis on trying - the quote at the top of the Sonic 2006 article is from what I was watching), getting the stuff in the car, and walking the dogs, Mom and I began the first leg of our journey: getting coffee at the local convenience store. Mom took advantage of this to get $15 in cash for my cab ride, despite my insistence that it's simply not going to be enough for the cab ride from Grand Forks International to my dorm, as the airport is a good five miles or so outside of the outskirts of the town.

After she got her coffee and my cash, our real journey began: that of driving to Shawnee, Oklahoma, late at night. We passed the time by talking about random things and mocking the MORON behind us who was blinding us with his headlights. This bozo was clearly overcompensating for something, because he had FOUR headlights on the front of his car. Combined, this made him easily as blinding as a truck with his brights on. We had to duck our heads so that his lights wouldn't blind us via our mirrors. Even worse was the fact that the guy couldn't decide whether to go faster or slower than us - he'd pass us, only for us to pass him again five minutes later. Needless to say, his blinding lights were becoming old hat, very fast. We were thankful when the guy exited somewhere before Oklahoma City.

I was very thankful when we reached Oklahoma City, because the numerous amount of lights...lighting up the road was comforting. Unfortunately, the last part of our journey involved leaving Oklahoma City and driving, yet again, in complete darkness. It was very eerie, and as we passed the occasional house, signified by a single glowing light, I wondered how the HELL anyone could live out in the boonies like that. Granted, you were maybe half an hour away from Oklahoma City, but still, out in the middle of nowhere. Creeeepy.

After we got to Shawnee, Mom and I put our stuff down and promptly collapsed for three hours, before the awesome Friend of the Family drove us to the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City for me to catch my flight to Minneapolis.

After a tearful goodbye, I went through airport security, which is as entertaining as getting a root canal (not that I've ever gotten one, mind you). I had all of my video game consoles with me, and I had to take them all out, plus my laptop, so they could be examined. This was a massive, time-consuming pain in the ass.

This was nothing, though, compared to what happened after boarding. At the last minute, I had to have my carry-on checked in as planeside baggage. The freaking attendant informed me that my bag was too large to be a carry-on (bullshit, because I've never had any problems with it on the numerous flights I've had in the past), and gave me a pink ticket, saying "Don't do it again". Excuse me?! My carry-on was definitely within the limits of the container they had at the check-in counter - aka, the same one that Southwest and Allegiant Air uses. Furthermore, every carry-on seemed to be checked in as planeside baggage for this flight, no lie. The family of four with the rolling backpacks? Planeside. The businessman with a small suitcase? Planeside. I was pissed off because my carry-on had nothing but video game stuff in it, including my consoles. Luckily, my consoles were in the laptop case lovingly given to me by the librarians at the Spring Valley Library, so I brought that with me instead, but it still didn't change the fact that my games, memory cards, and controllers were inside a suitcase that would most likely be harshly handled by people (which is why it wasn't checked luggage in the first place).

Well, as it turned out, the luggage containers for the plane were tiny. The plane was definitely not a full-sized plane, though it wasn't a prop plane, either. What was awesome was that the plane, with all people aboard, still had empty seats galore, so despite having an assigned seat that was not next to a window, I got to move to a window seat. What was even more awesome was that we were flying out in ridiculously early morning, so it was still dark outside, and I LOVE seeing the lights of the city from the air. It looks so pretty!

After spending time staring out the window, I figured that I needed to save my DS's battery power for the flight after this, so I took out my laptop and watched episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex until my laptop almost ran out of juice.

We arrived in Minneapolis early, which made me ecstatic because I always love having time before boarding for my flight and because it gave me more time to eat something using the $10 Friend of the Family gave me for food. It also helped that I've been to this airport before, several months back, for my freshman orientation.

After figuring out where my gate was (as they changed the gate for my flight to Grand Forks), I went to the nearest food court and checked out the restaurants. The only two restaurants cheap enough for my $10 was A&W and Quizno's. Since there was an A&W at the Old Main Marketplace at the Memorial Union back at the University, I opted to go to Quizno's, since I haven't eaten there in at least a year. While thinking about what sub to get, I came across who looked like a businessman who was also thinking about what sub to get. We both found the situation funny. Eventually, I chose the Chicken Carbonara and asked for a cup of water (since the price of a bottle of water was insanely high and would've put the price of my meal over $10). The businessman then also chose a Chicken Carbonara, because I did. It was funny. The sub was a regular size, which I assume is a footlong. I downed it in twenty minutes, then went to the bathroom, washed my hands, and made my way to the gate, where my carry-on would be checked as planeside baggage AGAIN (except I was actually expecting this, because it happened in June).

This flight, which was using a prop plane, was totally packed, because it was filled with UND students and faculty. I was actually seated next to an instructor in the music department, who recognized me as a musician because of my band jacket, and I recognized one of the students seated ahead of me from Honors. Unlike the last flight, where I was totally awake, I conked out as we were waiting for them to get the plane ready for take-off (de-icing, all of that stuff). I woke up while we were taking off, and I fell back asleep and woke up again when we were almost there. When we passed over the college, I could actually see my dorm, which was pretty awesome.

Because of excess fuel or something, we actually didn't land right away. This added another 15 minutes to our flight. After landing, I went to our ONE baggage carousel and got BOTH of my suitcases, while at the same time hoping that nothing was broken (turns out, something was - the BASTARDS broke off one of the zipper tags of my carry-on bag!). The girl I recognized from Honors, whose name slips my mind at the moment, got on the same taxi as me.

As we got on campus in the taxi, I noticed something horrible - there were walls of snow along the sidewalks and buildings! The snowmobiles cut paths for the sidewalks in what looked like three feet of snow. I asked the taxi driver, and apparently, they got 25 inches of snow alone in the same storm we had in Texas on Christmas Eve (and, for them, Christmas Day). Once I got to my dorm, my assertion that the $15 wouldn't be enough for the ride turned out to be correct - it was $17. Luckily, I still had change from getting that sub in Minneapolis, and was able to pay for it, sans tip (which I apologized for). Getting to the door with my two suitcases in tow was a pain because of all of the snow around me, preventing me from taking any shortcuts. I noticed that it was actually pretty nice outside (later, I found out that I missed the forty-below temperatures Grand Forks had during break), nothing like the absolutely bitter cold I was expecting.

After getting everything into my unlocked (WTF?) room, unpacking (during which my roommate, G.I. Jane, showed up, aunt in tow, with her stuff, before leaving to go out to eat), and showering, I promptly collapsed in my bed and took a power nap for three and a half hours. When I expressed my worries about getting up early tomorrow to G.I. Jane, she said that we didn't have class tomorrow - a fact that I remembered because they did that last semester. This was good, because I still needed time to recover.

After I got up, I made my way to the computer and got online, now having to use this program called SafeConnect instead of Cisco Clean Access Agent (which was buggy and I hated it with a passion). At the moment, I didn't know whether I found it worse or better.

The next day was just me vegging out and playing some more Zelda while G.I. Jane's boyfriend (as opposed to his normal "battle buddy and friend" status of last semester), Rivers, came over and watched me beat Arbiter's Grounds. Not much to really blog about.

The next day, I had actual classes. This I will elaborate upon in my next post, which should be in a few hours from the posting of this one (yeah, right, I wanted to post this one on Monday!).

Also, it would be nice if my posts didn't keep being bombarded with comments with Russian spam or Babelfish-translated sentences. Seriously. I have a hard enough time writing posts, let alone going through all of them and deleting bogus comments.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Music.

Don't worry, Silver Sucks (and its numerous grammatical errors that I don't feel like editing out at the moment) will come back in a little bit, but I wanted to post an actual post for once.

When I was a kid, my dad made "mix" CDs, or CDs containing a bunch of random tracks from his favorite albums, on his computer that he would send to us and let us listen to. My mom still had these, and when she first started up her laptop, imported all of them to her computer by way of iTunes.

Unfortunately, because of how old the CDs were, they came with the magnificent and creative titles of Track [insert number here]. This made trying to figure out just what the songs were impossible without listening to them first.

A few hours after flying in, I opted to fix that little problem, particularly because I wanted some of the songs, and I hated it when the titles and artists weren't correct or were in a crappy format (for instance, the song GameBox_Frozen_Lavareef_[WIP] was renamed as Frozen Lavareef [WIP] with GameBox as the artist before I ever put it on the iPod). To get the proper title and artist (if I didn't figure both out right away), I would listen to the song until I got a full verse in, which I'd type into the search in Songlyrics.com and see what would come up.

Using this time-consuming method, I restored the titles, artists, and albums of about 40 songs over the period of a few hours. And then I got sick of it and stopped.

There was the more pressing issue of getting the songs I wanted (even if they were named Track [insert number here]) onto my computer. One of the many reasons on my "Why I hate Apple" list is that, for a pretentious company that seems to preach simplicity (to the point of stupidity in the case of the iMac) in their products, they sure make it FUCKING HARD to put songs from an iPod on your computer. In fact, you can't do it via iTunes. Which is bullshit. Apple says that this is to counter stealing, but I highly, highly doubt it. For one, the vast majority of music stealing is done via downloads on the internet. For two, this STUPID limitation punishes people like me who share music with their family members and pay actual money to get that music in the first place. My dad has what looks like a hundred hard-copy CDs, and he bought all of them.

And by the way, the only reason why I have (or, rather, had - it mysteriously disappeared a month ago. :/) an iPod was because iTunes has the biggest selection of music and, until recently, Apple "protected" music bought from iTunes so that you couldn't play it anywhere else (Windows Media Player and my dad's Xbox 360 both couldn't play songs I purchased off of iTunes), which meant that if you bought it off of iTunes, chances are you could only play it on an iPod. Plus, I didn't know about any other MP3 players (this was back when Apple had a monopoly in this industry).

Anyway, I really wanted some of those songs on my computer. And when there's a will, there's a Google search.

Luckily, I have Windows 7, and Microsoft made it ridiculously easy to allow the viewing of hidden folders this time around. According to an article I found via Google, all iPods have a hidden folder for stored music. In hindsight, this makes sense - that music has to go somewhere on the iPod or else it wouldn't be able to play anything, and I'm damn sure that the iPod has more than nothingness and blank space on it. The music folder, predictably, has all of your music on it, and it all works, at least after I copied and pasted them into my music folder on my computer.

Unfortunately, not only do the majority of the songs have "Track X" as a name (so that's all that shows up in the info the computer has), but the filenames for them on the iPod consist of four random letters. So I had to do the arduous task of listening to each one to figure out if it's one I wanted.

The entire process of listening to the tracks, then naming or putting them on my music folder on my computer was both satisfying (finding a handful of Metallica tunes, a Rammstein song I've never heard before, Smooth by Santana, Flight of Icarus by Iron Maiden) and...dissatisfying (why the hell is there so much Led Zeppelin? *gag*).

So now I have a bunch of songs that I need to restore the names and artists of. Yay. Ya know what, when I go back home, where I literally have internet ANYWHERE on campus, I might just do a few songs at a time or something.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Silver Sucks, Part 2

Moar stuff. Broken down into another post for your reading (and my posting) pleasure.

Sunday, 11/29/09:
Today was my first day (of two) volunteering at the local mission. Y'see, the Honors program is like a cross between an AP class and National Honors Society - you have to get volunteer hours. Since volunteering at the mission and serving food to homeless people was our class project, that was the main way we could get hours. Luckily, I was one of the very, very few people on campus, so there was space for me this Sunday. I got a ride from John, a guy in the morning class who also happened to sign up for this weekend. Believe it or not, downtown (where the mission was) wasn't too far away from the campus.

It was rather interesting. First thing I did was cut the ends off of asparagus that was to be used later on in the day. Second thing was helping make the pancakes - I basically flipped them. And then third thing was keeping a vigilant guard over the little bowls of peaches, because you had better take one and ONLY one so that everyone gets one (and then the extras can be taken once seconds are called), otherwise my boss Liz will come and scold you. What was interesting was that, unlike in Las Vegas, these people were, for the most part, well-made, if you will. They looked like normal people, except that, in their eyes, you can see that they're a bit more weary than the average person. According to articles we read in class the next week, in order to stay as long as you want at the mission, you have to shower once a day and wash your clothes, and make a constant effort at finding a job and housing away from the mission (furthermore, at night, you have to pass a breathalyzer test, otherwise you'll be denied admittance). What was nice about the whole thing (a whole three hours!) was that I found the little fuzzy feeling that had been missing ever since I had to stop volunteering at the Spring Valley Library every Sunday.

After getting back home, I didn't feel like walking to Wilkerson, so I helped myself to the chocolate I bought the night before, before heading out to Jamie's place because I heard that Rachel got another application at the bookstore without knowing that I already got one (but I spilled water on mine, so I needed another one anyway). Shortly afterwards, I left to go to the store and turned in my application, then went straight home.

Monday, 11/30/09:
In Marching Band, we practiced for the concert that we'd perform at the night afterwards. Called "ExtravaBANDza", it featured performances from both the University Band and the Marching Band.

...unfortunately, I happened to be in both groups. No rest for me!

It was very straightforward and easy, and I got out a little bit earlier than usual, so I opted to head to Computer Lab early and work on our final lab of the semester.

This was totally foiled by the fact that, as my TA said, "a grad student messed up" and caused the servers to go down halfway through the class. Now, this has to be a completely STUPID move on part of whoever engineered the Linux (or, "Penguin") lab, because ALL of the data, INCLUDING THE OPERATING SYSTEMS THE COMPUTERS WERE RUNNING ON, was on the server. At first, I thought my programming was giving Python issues because of all of the functions (read: huge chunks of code that could be "called" repeatedly throughout the program as opposed to having said code put in repeatedly, thus making the program shorter line-wise), because I noticed a one-second pause between me hitting the F5 key to run my program and it actually showing up in Python. And then the entire thing froze when I tried to run it, and I thought that I broke the computer...until it turned out that I wasn't the only one with a frozen computer, and those whose computers had NOT frozen weren't frozen yet because they hadn't tried to run their programs at the moment. NOT HAPPY.

Some good came of it, though - the fact that I got out of lab early meant that I got back to the dorm early enough to check my mailbox, freak out because I finally got that package slip, and run to the dorm across the street to get my package, which happened to contain my one and only Christmas present: Evangelion 1.01 - You are (not) Alone. Aka the first movie in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy, a remake of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series with less angst and a light at the end of the dark tunnel that is the depressing and disturbing end of the series. I didn't really have any time to watch it, though...

Tuesday, 12/1/09:
The weather gods decided that, since it was now December, that we should be getting our complementary snow now. The result was that it was far colder than usual and it was actually snowing outside. This is fairly strange, because everyone told me that there'd be snow on the ground by Halloween, and we hadn't gotten any (November was actually fairly pleasant). I found out the hard way that my normal setup of sweater-underneath-band-jacket wasn't enough to keep me warm.

At the same time this realization occurred, or a little bit before that, my iPod mysteriously disappeared. Now, here's the thing about that iPod - it is practically glued to my hip all day. I use it while I'm doing everything - packing up for class, walking or riding the bus somewhere, writing blog posts, coding, you name it. Unlike, say, my cell, I actually do use my iPod all of the time, everyday. So when it disappeared the instant I didn't have my headphones plugged into it (I was listening to something on the computer), I was both flabbergasted and not happy. After band rehearsal, I spent nearly my entire free time tearing apart the room looking for it. I still didn't find it. BTW, it is a blue second-generation iPod nano with a Hello Kitty sticker on it (courtesy of one of my friends from Japanese class last academic year) and is a little beat up. Why anyone would want it is beyond me, because the battery life is a little shot and the storage capacity sucks compared to the newer versions.

I was running out of time, so I had to get in my concert dress AND pack up my marching band uniform before Rachel was to pick me up. The biggest thing I was worried about in terms of the concert was the change between concert and marching band uniform. This required me to take off my dress, put on my marching pants, put on my marching shoes, and then put on the jacket over that. Here's the thing: that jacket is a pain in the ass to put on quickly. There is a crapload of buttons you have to...well, button, and all of this is on top of a temperamental zipper that likes to stop working when you're in a hurry. It would be my worst nightmare to miss the beginning of the marching band performance because I couldn't get into uniform fast enough.

The University Band part of the concert went well. The first song was American Fanfare by John Wasson, which was a piece originally composed for the Dallas Brass (BTW, we're playing with them next semester). Unfortunately, what would sound good being played by a quintet doesn't sound very good played by a full band; IMO, I found the arrangement a bit uninspired. In case you didn't notice, it's my least favorite of the songs we played.

The second song was my favorite, Tryptich II by Elliot Del Borgo, a completely creepy piece with a lot of percussion work and really difficult woodwind parts (lots of accidentals). To see what I mean, I have a recording here, the only professional recording I could find of it. For some reason, it's really, really hard to find it online.

The third was To Dream in Brushstrokes by Micheal Oare, a piece dedicated to two sisters who died in a house fire, one of which played the flute, the other playing mallets in the percussion section. Why it's called "To Dream in Brushstrokes" is beyond me - I would've thought it would be named "To Dream in Music" or something. Apparently, one of the percussion lines is totally ripped off of one found in another piece that those in the percussion recognized for some reason.

The fourth was Lone Star Celebration by James Curnow, which was conducted by a guest conductor who happened to be a student. A nice piece to play, but requiring a lot of endurance if you're a woodwind student, because you're playing all of the time with little to no breaks.

The last was In the Center Ring by Robert Sheldon, a piece that's about a circus, and is insane as a result. A fun, hectic piece to play (and listen to!). My second favorite.

After this, I had to practically bolt to the back of the stage and get my uniform on as quickly as possible. I got to my spot in the lobby with a few minutes to spare, thankfully. Our performance started with us coming from the front lobby to the stage through the audience isles, while high-marching, which is difficult.

We first played our first marching band show, the one featured at Texas Tech, which consisted of We're an American Band, I Don't Care, and The Pretender. That went well. And then there was Gimme Some Lovin', one of our trademark pep band pieces.

This started with one of our drum majors beginning the three whistles, only to be suddenly incapacitated by an "injury" that mysteriously affected both of them. And then someone was called up from the audience to "conduct" us (which didn't matter, since we knew the song so well that we could play it as a band with our eyes closed). It was pretty funny.

Then we played our second marching band show, which consisted of Caravan and I Just Wanna Celebrate, with Karn Evil 9 being added on. Everything went well...except for Karn Evil 9, at least, to me on a personal level. Here is a song that I've been playing memorized for months, that I played memorized perfectly at yesterday's rehearsal...only to blank out at the actual performance. Words could not describe how angry I was with myself.

And then the University Band joined us for the playing of the fight songs. Yay. Here's a fun fact about the fight songs: pretty much everyone has some sort of improvisation taking place in the fight songs. I thought I was the only one who looked at the actual music for the fight songs and found that, while what I was playing sounded and went well with the rest of the band, was completely different than the music. And then I found out that other people were doing it, too. It works because it sounds like part of the actual song, except it's not. But the audience doesn't care because it sounds good and they don't know what the original music looks like anyway. I think this spawned from the fact that we're expected to learn and memorize the fight songs really, really fast early on in the year, which results in people "filling in the blanks" with stuff that works, or memorizing it incorrectly but never finding out because it works with the rest of the piece and memorization means that you don't have music in front of you.

Afterwards, Rachel was nice enough to drive me back. It was her last concert of her college career, because she's graduating this academic year and University Band doesn't work with her schedule next semester.

Wednesday, 12/2/09:
In band, we came in solely to fill out our course evaluation. I bubbled in "strongly disagree" when prompted if the work we did was appropriate for the credit we received. NO, IT WASN'T, YOU BASTARDS. We get one measly credit for all of the work we do in Marching Band! ONE!

I got a mysterious text from Jamie asking if I was free Saturday. Turns out that she wanted me to come with her and her other friends (who are also my friends) to Space Aliens, a restaurant I've never been to, on Saturday. The time was thankfully before my hockey game, which I refused to take myself off of the list for because it's a Women's Hockey game and they needed all the help they can get. I texted back, saying that I could go.

More importantly, however, I got an e-mail from the Space Studies Department about a reception for Pablo De Leon, who netted a $742,000 grant from NASA for approval of his proposal, "Integrated Strategies for the Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars". The reception was taking place on the 9th...

Thursday, 12/3/09:
Since I didn't have University Band today, I actually had time to watch Evangelion 1.01: You are (not) Alone, the first of four movies (the second of which isn't out in the US yet, and the third and fourth aren't out in Japan yet) that retell the original show, Neon Genesis Evangelion; this one in particular covered the first six episodes. It was freaking AWESOME. As someone who watched the TV show fairly recently, it was interesting to see the little things that were changed (the Angels melt into blood when they die now), as well as an entire plot point later on, not to mention the improved animation (really, really obvious if you see some of the original scenes in the TV show right after you watch the movie - and the TV show was pretty good animation-wise) and condensing of the plot (the pacing of which was changed to fit the movie format), and call-forwards to things that show up at the very end of the series. Also, they managed to get the entire Japanese voice cast from the original show back on. Which was freaking AWESOME.

Right after I finished watching it, I was so pumped up that I was seriously considering to write the four essays I've been putting off for Honors on the spot. Except that I still had a place to go.

Tonight was the last International Night of the semester. I still needed a Cultural-Intellectual Event for Honors to write an essay about. This night happened to be about South Korea. What surprised me about the presentation was that people in South Korea actually want to reunite with North Korea, considering how many times North Korea has threatened to wipe South Korea off of the map. There were also many similarities with the Japanese culture I'm so familiar with (Seoul, for instance, looks a LOT like Tokyo, as there's a crapload of high-rise towers). Afterwards, they served food, which was very delicious.

This brings up the only issue I have with the Dining Centers here at UND - there isn't much variety. By "variety", I mean things pertaining to stuff like Japanese food. The only seafood they have is fish. I hate fish. They rarely, if ever, serve anything with shrimp in it, let alone other things like clams, scallops, or squid. Sushi is never served, etc.. You don't really notice this until you go home over the break or have some Japanese food or seafood.

Friday, 12/4/09:
Since I had time to kill, I opted to play and finish Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Gerudo stronghold is still a pain in the ass.

Saturday, 12/5/09:
Today was my scheduled meeting with Jamie to go to Space Aliens. I came in my band shirt and jeans, with my laptop case from the Clark County Library District with my jersey, music, and clarinet (in its case), and she picked me up in front of the dorm.

The place is very strange and cool. There are things pertaining to the old-school aliens everywhere. The food served is the American stuff, burgers and ribs and the like. We met up with our friends, who took up three entire tables. At the table I sat at, I was asked to put together my clarinet by some very curious friends whose names I can't remember because I'm bad at remembering names. I ordered the boneless ribs, but because of the fact that I had to leave for hockey (and the fact that everyone else was going to a free concert at the Alerus), I couldn't finish them. Luckily, it was freezing outside; I got the remaining ribs boxed and it was allowed to sit in Jamie's car during the concert, before being put in a (most likely warmer) fridge at her house. Jamie drove me to the Ralph and mentioned a Christmas Party she was holding a week from today.

The Women's Hockey game sucked. It was painful to watch. I can't remember who we were up against, but they beat us - granted, it was only by one goal (IIRC), but they beat us. This didn't make it painful to watch, though, it was how we played that made it painful to watch. It was like our Women's Hockey team had been replaced by members of the Men's Hockey team or something, because they found themselves incapable of passing to each other.

Silver Sucks

Silver sucks. You poor guys have probably been checking my blog for the past several weeks, wondering when I was going to update, if I died, etc.. Here's my excuse: I was busy the days leading up to finals week, and the rest was sheer laziness. So here's some stuff I've been typing up.

Thanksgiving Week:
Sunday, 11/22/09:
Women's Hockey, us vs. Manitoba. We won 9-0. It was so bad that by the end of the game, we had people begging the refs to give them a point out of pity.

Monday, 11/23/09:
The only thing of note was that we had no Computer Lab. In fact, we had no lab assignments whatsoever (as they're usually posted online), so I didn't have anything to program!

Tuesday, 11/24/09:
Half of the University Band was missing. I guess some people decided to go home early. Slackers.

At the end of rehearsal, a friend of mine in the band, Rachel, a trumpet player, told me that some friends of hers were throwing a Thanksgiving party for the few people who will be on campus on Thursday. I agreed to meet them, so we drove to their house, which was on campus and five minutes away, walking, from my dorm because it was right next to the medical school.

There was a very good reason for this, because a good portion of the people who lived there were medical students (and Rachel herself was a medical student). The ringleader was Jamie, who was very, very nice. It also turned out that there were three or four Japanese girls there, one of which I actually greeted ("Konban wa!") and said goodbye to ("Oyasumi nasai!") in Japanese before leaving with Rachel. The entire time, I was saying that I was not good at it ("Tokui jyanai!").

Wednesday, 11/25/09:
I only had one class, and that class happened to be the earliest class on my list. So, despite the fact that I only had Computer Science, I still had to get up at 7 in the morning. There was only about ten people in a class of thirty or forty.

But more important was happened at noon. A few days before this, I got an e-mail talking about a luncheon in the Space Studies department, followed by some sort of lecture or something about "Investigating Relationships Between Sunspot Rotations and Energetic Events". The day before this, I got an e-mail saying that it was postponed to next semester, but they were serving pizza anyway. Since I wanted to build connections, I opted to go anyway.

The Space Studies department is on the fifth floor of Clifford Hall. Walking in, past the reception desk, at which the awesome Bev sits (she's the one that gave me the form to fill out for a Space Studies Minor and turned it in), there is a "lobby" room (later found out that this referred to as the "Reading Room"), if you will - there are two large bookshelves, filled with books and magazines on everything related to space, facing each other. In the middle of these is a long table with chairs, and hanging up on a wall facing this is a flatscreen TV set to NASA TV. While walking to this place, you will notice the variety of stuff hanging up on the walls - including, causing much internal squeeing, pictures from the prototype Mars suit project that led me to UND in the first place.

When I first got there, I was pretty much lost, because there was seemingly no one there. I thought there would be several people. Guess not. Then again, I did get there a bit early. One of the staff reassured me that I was in the right place, it was just that the food wasn't here yet. So, I opted to put my coat on a chair, grab a newspaper, and read it while waiting. Literally, about 30 seconds after I sat down, this professor by the name of Paul shows up with two guys in suits who look like government agents or something. Turns out that he was giving two guys from Commerce or something like that a tour of the department. I stood in the corner and smiled and listened the entire time, knowing that I was a huge n00b and better stay out of their way.

After this, I read the paper for a little bit before the pizza FINALLY arrived, which prompted the appearance of very important people and two grad students. This was a bit scary, since I was easily the youngest person there.

We talked about a lot of stuff - rockets (and why the Russian rockets failed so badly), whether vodka protects you from nuclear radiation (which eventually led to joking about a seminar on alcoholism in space), and classical music (the only Mozart Dr. Whalen likes is [spelled in English 'cause I can't spell it otherwise] The Magic Flute). Yeeeeaaaah.

Apparently, there's about twenty people in the Masters program in Space Studies, with around a hundred doing the same in the distance program. And it also turned out that I wasn't the only one who wanted to be an astronaut - one of the grad students, an anthropology major, said that he wants to apply to become a candidate, too.

All in all, I enjoyed it very much. After the two hours I spent at this very interesting luncheon, I took the bus to the book store so I could get an application and (hopefully) fill it out and turn it in. This was foiled by the fact that I forgot to type up my spring semester schedule and print it out, but even more by the fact that I had no idea when exactly Marching Band would meet; since there was no more football, there was no way we would have the three rehearsals a week we had scheduled. In the end, I decided to pack up my application and leave, and turn it in later. While I was filling out as much as I could on the application before I left, I saw my Honors teacher with a cup of coffee and what appeared to be a large stack of essays. Guess he was telling the truth when he said that he needed the essays as an excuse to not visit his in-laws.

Thursday, 11/26/09:
There was no school, and rightfully so, because the dorm and the campus were entirely DEAD. And my roommate, G.I. Jane, was at her relatives' place. And the dining centers were not open. I felt sorry for those that didn't have anywhere to go to for food.

It turned out that I wouldn't have to starve myself before the party, because one of the four people still in the dorm served a Thanksgiving lunch for us. While eating, the four of us talked about many things. The person who served it is in the band, but I'm really, really bad at names. Haley, who lives a few doors down from me, is a huge hockey enthusiast and often goes to our games - I remember her name because I already knew her before this event. And the final girl was someone I had never seen before (probably lived on the other, older side of the dorm, which has its own facilities, so we'd never cross paths), who hailed from Alaska and drove to Grand Forks through Canada after receiving her license a few days before. Talk about badass.

Finally, as night fell, I went to Jamie's place for the party. Now, when you think of "party on a college campus", I'd imagine that you'd think of orgies and drunk people. This was totally not it. There was no alcohol at all, and the people who came were very respectable. Again, I was the youngest person there - pretty much everyone was an upperclassmen or a grad student. We had a guy who was pursuing a Master's in Chemical Engineering, a Chinese couple pursuing Ph.Ds and their cute little kid, a couple of aviation students, a flight instructor, and several med and Japanese students. And I'm only covering the people I remembered - there was probably around thirty people there.

In terms of food, there was much of it, and it was very varied. There was turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes (one dish of it had marshmallows on top), but there was also stuff like a slightly spicy dish with rice noodles, green bean casserole, and a salad with almonds on top (which meant that I wouldn't touch it - because picking out the almonds would've been too tedious). For dessert, there was pumpkin pie, ice cream, and some of the best homemade banana nut bread that I've ever tasted.

While people were socializing and eating, this one aviation student and I were playing "Chinese checkers" with the couple, and the little kid was kicking our sorry asses. Basically, it consisted of wooden tiles with what I knew as Kanji (Chinese characters that represent concepts or objects), and you had to match them, like Concentration, if you will. One of the characters I thought was earth (土) (and so did the flight instructor, who was in the process of learning Japanese), but turned out to be a different one because the top horizontal stroke was longer than the bottom one. It was the symbol for a guard or something along those lines instead.

Once everyone was done eating, we set our chairs in a circle and played a game called "Signs". Basically, everyone had a specific hand gesture (mine was the Vulcan "Live long and prosper"). Now, everyone was in a circle, with one person in the middle. One person would have the "sign" (think of it as an invisible ball). In order to pass the sign to another person, they would have to do that person's hand gesture, and the receiving person would have to do the "thrower's" gesture in response (the catch: once you signal a person, you have to signal that person and only that person, no changing, and you have to keep signaling them until they see you and "receive" it). The person in the middle has to figure out which person has the sign, so the game turns into one of trying to flash the hand signs behind the middle person's back as quickly as possible so they don't see you. Once the person in the middle figures out who it is, they sit in that person's spot, and the person who got caught was now the person in the middle. It's more fun than it sounds, and I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

And then we played a variation when someone was the "leader", who would do a hand gesture that everyone else would then do repeatedly, and the person in the middle would have to figure out who the leader was as they changed gestures. While I was the leader, my first gesture was a twirling of my hand in the air, followed by a straight downward "chopping" motion repeatedly. The flight instructor figured out that I was a huge hockey fan, because we do that after we score a goal in a hockey game (the twirling of the hand being the prep alongside a bass drum roll, followed by the downward motion directed at the opponent's goalie, while yelling "SIEVE!" with each motion).

I had a TON of fun, and I was surprised at how much I had, because I'm not that much of a people person. I called Mom up afterwards saying that, HOLY CRAP, I actually spent time with people outside of band or school.

Friday, 11/27/09:
I did basically nothing except stuff myself on leftovers. And watched a ton of Trigun (yes, I'm still trying to finish that boxed set).

Saturday, 11/28/09:
So here I was, watching Trigun on my computer, when I suddenly got a call from Jamie asking if I wanted to come with her and some friends to Target for some shopping. I obliged, because I did need to get some stuff - I ended up getting two packs of flossers, some long socks, and chocolate, because it was cheap. Jamie, Yoko, and Miriam were there for grocery and winter shopping.

Afterwards, we went to Old Navy, which in itself was an entirely new experience to me. My clothes hail from Wal-Mart (the vast majority of my clothing, which is Faded Glory), Ross Dress For Less (my $15 prom dress that was every bit as awesome as the $400 ones), and the local thrift store (all of my winter clothing). So being in an Old Navy was completely new. I found myself boggled at how expensive everything was over there - what wasn't on clearance (which was why we went there) was INSANELY expensive, such as designer pea coats for $120. You know what I could buy with $120? I could pre-order Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey AND Poke'mon SoulSilver AND get Muramasa: The Demon Blade and STILL have money left over. Granted, if I got that, I'd look like someone from Persona 3, but that is still ridiculous!

While Miriam was trying on pairs of jeans, I got a sudden idea while talking to Jamie and texted my drum major asking about the Marching Band rehearsals in spring, because my band director hadn't replied to my e-mail yet. Within a few minutes, I got a text back saying that they were generally only on Wednesdays when we DID have them.

After THAT, we headed to the Columbia Mall (across the street) so Yoko could exchange something, while I tried (and failed) to explain to Miriam what Trigun was. She DID know what Evangelion was though (after all, it's so famous in Japan that the Rebuild movies were released in theaters, while they're going straight to DVD here).

And then after THAT, they let me have dinner at their place. It was really yummy, despite the fact that it was leftovers.