Katamari on the Rocks

Posted in Random on August 28th, 2006 by Tom

We have a smörgåsbord of things to deal with today, so the cateogry icon is a bit moot.

To begin with the boring technobabble: No more live/dead cats for a while. Sorry. I have to turn it off now because every time someone casts a karma vote it ‘blanks out’ the entry icon, which gets REALLY annoying to go back in and replace manually every single time. As soon as I can isolate what the problem is, I’ll turn it back on. Promise!

Next is a follow-up on the past entry [3rd Planet]. Apparently my speculation/prediction was the incorrect one. Instead of extending the solar system, it shrank. Pluto finally got the axe. It is no longer a planet, but falls into a somewhat-discriminatory category aptly labled ‘dwarf planets’. However the question posed is still a valid one awaiting an answer: will anyone care? Seriously, people have been so used to thinking of it as a planet I honestly wonder if some fancy-worded proclimation from the IAU is going to change their minds. I, for one, am withholding judgement. People can be quite fickle about these things, and may hang on to them for a lot longer than you’d think.

ALSO: A metric-ton’s worth of pneumonic devices for listing the planets just became useless, causing an alarming amount of unrest among 2nd grade teachers nation-wide…

Truman Week is over, finally. It was long and harrowing, but somehow I survived. However, I think going to all those useless activities paid off. C-Hall (Centennial Hall, built in honor of Truman’s centennial) won the College Cup Challenge! We won it! For the first time EVER in the history of the hall, we were victorious. It was awesome. We placed in nearly EVERY event, to which my contribution was ‘Truman Trivia’. I battled my way to the top to be one of Centennial’s starters. In the actual competition finals I was only a part of the final challenge, but that was one of the only things we got right. The entire group of our Hall went crazy when we won.

I swear though, what I said to Rob (one of my trivia-mates) is still so true:
I didn’t give a damn about school spirit at Miege, and yet somehow I get completely into the whole C-Hall/Truman thing. It’s very, very bizarre.

I did laundry today. And so did sixty-zillion other people, but it was an educational experience nonetheless. Doing laundry is one of those pittifully domestic things that makes you feel like a grown up. So far college has been like summer camp, with the activities and so on. Now it feels a bit more like life. I think this coming week I’ll hit the laundry room on thursday to beat the rush.

Tomorrow I start real classes. I’m getting all nervous again. I have calculus and political science followed by a break for lunch, then health and duathaloning. My afternoon is going to be meh. But I figure I can take a shower afterwards and feel all clean for the whole afternoon/evening. Then there’s the fact that I don’t have to get up until 7:30. SEVEN-THIRTY. And THEN I just got and eat breakfast.

Somehow, I’m surviving.

Changes

Posted in Life, School on August 22nd, 2006 by Tom

I’m finally here! Truman is awesome.
Hank and I moved in on Sunday, with little to no trouble. Centennial Hall is awesome; we don’t have to leave even to eat! Our suite-mate is the RA, Dan Johnson, and he’s cool. Quiet, but very nice. The way ‘Truman Week’ is structured is sort of annoying though. They jam-pack our activites so we have little pockets of 20 minutes to take it easy and then we’re off to do some other innane/mildly-amusing activity. Needless to say it’s hard to get some down time. (Hence, posting at 12:30)

Today I made a new friend, and his name’s Ian. We have the same physics seminar, with Professor Sami (SAM-ee); however, he’s in calc-III, whereas I’m only in calc-II. Sensing this challenge to my mathematical-masculinity, I promptly congradulated him and proceeded to not care. We toiled through the ‘scavenger hunt’, which killed time and sapped energy, but at least we got to know eachother. Then was ‘convocation’. That was long and hot, but the keynote speaker had a really clever interpretation of the Adam and Eve story, so it wasn’t a total waste.

I also met up with Desmond (who I met at the KC sendoff) and his roommate Jeffrey. We eat meals with them usually, and both are pleasantly clever and smart.

Later on this evening Hank and I declined to go to ‘Montage’, a dance showcase, and stayed home and watched House. Or rather I watched House. Hank had to fill out the never-ending survey I took earlier in the day. To make up for our truancy though, we attended both the ‘Club Miami Dance Party’ and the ‘K-Vegas Casino Night’. After Ian, Hank, Lizz, and I had all blown our money at the poker table we headed back up to the Batcave (our room) and watched another episode of House.

In a nutshell, college is totally sweet. I’m really excited to be here. Tomorrow (today, I suppose, considering the time) we’re watching a video about Richard Feynman; only my favorite physicist EVER. I read his book. In it there was no hard science, but instead amusing anecdotes and funny stories about odd situations he’d lived through.

Oh, how I wish I could major in “life experiences”.

3rd Planet

Posted in Nerd on August 18th, 2006 by Tom

News from Prague! Not that anyone really cares, becuase of the whole college-freak-out-fest that’s going on (not that I blame you), but there’s been some developments on the astrophysical front. The what? Never mind.

The International Astronomical Union has recently held a confrence in Prague, and they reached some sort of concensus as to what the actual definition of a planet is. Their [official definition] boils down to this:

The part of “IAU Resolution 5 for GA-XXVI” that describes the planet definition, states “A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.”

What does this mean? Well their Resolution for General Assembly 26 boils down to two components that deal with planetorial qualifications: shape and orbit. The shape requirement is that it be round. How round? To be honest, I’ve no clue how to measure an object’s roundness, but they use the term “hyrdostatic equilibrium”.

This term has a lot of different defintions, but it essentially means that the forces acting upon a body (in this case, potential planets) must be in balance. The force pushing the body inward (gravity) must be equivalent to the force pushing it outwards (diffusion for gas planets, centripital force for rock-planets, I would assume). When the push-out and push-in forces are the same, nothing goes out or in. It just sits there, all equal and whatnot. The resulting shape is a sphere.

Secondly, the body must be orbiting a star. That’s a pretty sensible qualification. They also insert the comment that it can’t be a star (as in one star orbiting another does not make the former a planet), or a satellite (the moon is not a planet because it is spherical).

The point, they say, was to develop an objective definition of what a planet is. I think they accomplished that task. However, what remains to be seen is whether this will filter down culturally. Is anyone really going to care when they ‘officially’ classify Ceres, Charon, and Xena as planets? Or is it like when you get a promotion at work and nobody cares because it didn’t include a pay raise?

I’m not qutie sure;
I wish I classified as a planet though.

Where The Streets Have No Name

Posted in Life on August 17th, 2006 by Tom

So tonight Ethan had his birthday party at his brother’s house. It has a cool basement, and there was pizza and guitar hero. Pizza was good. Guitar Hero is a synthesis of fun, addicting, and REALLY irritating. Think DDR for your hands. But as we wound down towards the end it got rather depressing. It was, for the most part, the last time all of those people are going to be in the exact same place. Most of us are leaving for college in all corners of the country, and the rest are staying in KC for the duration of their high school tenures.

It was kinda…
No.
It was really sad.

In my emotional state I kinda freaked out and thought I was never gonna see anyone ever again. So I went home and got a facebook. … I know. I feel dirty just saying it. In any case, [This Is Me]. If I don’t know you, I doubt we’re “friends”. Sorry. However, people I really have met, feel free. I’m rationalizing getting a facebook by saying that I’m using it to promote the blog, so if you were routed here from facebook, feel free to comment.

I can’t believe I got that lonely.

Paranoid Android

Posted in Politics on August 15th, 2006 by Tom

I was poking around on Google Video to kill some time (believe me, I had no trouble doing that) and I came across something sort of interesting. I should preface this by saying I’m typically not a conspiracy theorist, nor an alarmist. I don’t like it when people run around making wild claims that are substanciated with little or no fact.

This is no such instance.

Loose Change 911 [Second Edition] is a very in-depth investigation that aims to debunk the official government story about what happened on September 11th, 2001. It clocks in at just over 1 hour, 20 minutes. When I started watching it I thought it would drag on and on and I wouldn’t make it to the end.

Again, this was no such instance.

It’s edited very well, and albeit the quality suffers, given the length, the images are still quite convincing. It didn’t have me up in arms against the federal government, and I didn’t buy into the entirety of their final conclusion, but it did get me thinking. Not just thinking, but doubting.

This administration has given us every reason to distrust them, and I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to do so. I reccommend that you check out the film at the above link. Watch it for 15 minutes, and if you think it’s cock and bull, stop. However, if after those 15 minutes, you’ve still got questions, watch on.

I’m worried still.
About a lot of things.