Ways And Means

Posted in Politics on October 26th, 2006 by Tom

I can’t believe this.
They’re actually doing it.

I remember the first time I heard about this. I thought it was the most rediculous idea I’d ever heard. For the longest time I associated Pat Buchanan with ‘the wall’ becuase I knew he’d used it as a campaign issue way back when. I found it kinda funny that anyone would actually propose such an idea.

Then I found it kinda scary when congress was actually considering it.

Now I find it kinda annoying that they’re actually going to do it.

I’m so frustrated watching everyone try to come up with ways to ‘fix the problem’ while no one is even examining why we have a problem in the first place. Why do people in Mexico want to come over to America? Because the Mexican economy sucks. Why does the Mexican economy suck? I don’t know, and the little isolationist in me is telling me I shouldn’t have to care, because I don’t live there.

But the fact of the matter is that I have to care, because the illigal immigration thing is a problem. It’s been impacting the US economy for a while, and it’s finally coming to a head. I guess I’m just disappointed that the best thing we could think of was a big old wall.

I’m actually more with Bush on this one than is typical. He wants a guestworker program that gives citizenship options to those already here, and guest-employment options to those who want to come over. I think that makes sense. Those that are already living here shouldn’t necesarily get kicked back home, especially when some have been here for several years or more. Additionally, people can still come over here and work, but then they have to go home. That’s my favorite part.

If they take that money and go home and support their own families and feed them and get them medical care and decent housing and stuff, that would be awesome. Think about the Maslow triangle (Higherarchy of Needs, if you want to be technical): once they don’t have to worry about not eating or being on the streets, they can actually focus on being more civicly responsible, self-actualizing, yachting, etc. If they do that, eventually, a long time from now, maybe the Mexican economy will suck less.

Then they won’t need to come over here.
And then everyone will see that the stupid wall is terribly excessive.

And then it won’t just me.

Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down

Posted in Life on October 25th, 2006 by Tom

It was supposed to rain today. Instead it just got wet. Somehow the weather here finds a way to get the moisture from the sky directly to the ground, circumventing the air inbetween. Rain if you want to be wet; otherwise bring back the sun. I’m so tired of looking out at grey all the time.

Which begs the question: Grey or Gray?
Personally, I feel that ‘grey’ looks like a cooler word. However, ‘gray’ better distinguishes in abreviated format from ‘green’ (gra, gre), as well as it appears to be spelled more like it sounds. I’d call that it’s ‘phoneticity rating’. I’m open to suggestions.

In other news, I finally killed the smell in our refridgerator. It’s been reekin’ for quite a while. First Hank and I pitched the cherries (age: 6 weeks). Then I threw away my left overs (age: 1 week). The final judgement fell to a bag of limes (age: 7 weeks). One of them was rotted all over the outside. I threw them all away and I’m not scared to open the fridge now.

It’s a happy day. I appologized to Hank, becuase they were his limes and I got rid of them without asking. He said it was ok, and he’d figured they’d be bad by now. Which then begs the question of why he didn’t throw them away himself, but whatever. I honestly don’t care. I’m just glad I can open the fridge for some cold water without having my olfactory organs assailed by deviant oders.

So that’s that. Another previously mentioned topic would be Sam’s Town. The new Killer’s album that I hoped wouldn’t suck. The Rolling Stone review I read about it said it sucked, and wasn’t as good as their first record and that they went for way too much. I guess I agree for the most part, but there’s something about the theme that gets me. The entire album is centered around growing up in a crappy town where everything is lacking in impact on the larger world. Existance-is-futile sort of thing.

And right now at college that really speaks to me. I feel like I’m working myself to the bone for something that may or may not even matter in the long run, which can be really discouraging.

I just realized though that the term’s more than halfway over.
I should make it.

I’m sponsoring another tournament this weekend. This time it’s off to Baldwin, which has a sort of bitter-sweet connotation assoiciated with it. Please refer to the Brak Blog Entry “Livin’ on a Prayer” for the full explaination.

And I washed my sheets today. I hate that. It’s not so much getting them washed that’s the problem, but getting sheets back onto a lofted bed is too hard. I don’t plan on doing it again. I probably will anyway though.

House will be back on soon; Halloween, in fact!

I’m going to go bite the bullet and do math.
*grinds teeth*

*bullet explodes*

Let Down

Posted in Life, School on October 20th, 2006 by Tom

I really dislike days like today. Days where I have this sort of ‘identity crisis’ that’s starting to get frustrating. It really boils down to the fact that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, and that scares me.

On the one hand, I think that math and science are really, really important. I think that a significant portion of the human race’s worthwhile contributions have been largely a result of the physical sciences, and mathematics is a big part of that. Consequently, here at college I’ve devoted most of my studies to that which I think is the most important.

The problem is I suck at it.

It’s not that I’m failing, in fact I’m nowhere near failing anything, it’s just really, really hard. I’m sick of feeling completely lost every single time we learn a new concept. Most things that are learned build on themselves, the transitions make sense (provided you know where you’re going), and you can almost predict them. I used to be able to do that. I can’t now.

On the opposite hand, you’ve got my other side. The side of me taking political science classes and wishing I had more english courses, the side of me that deperately misses debate. The thing is, I don’t really think that any one of those things is more important than science, but I’m so much better at them. And I like them too, just not as much.

So when I don’t understand the stupid vector cross product or how to define a plane with three points in three-dimensional space, it sort of just makes me want to drop all that junk and read books and write papers and watch the news for the rest of college.

I don’t know what to do. They say ‘do what you love and the money will follow’, but what if you’re not very good at what you love. Which then brings up the question that if math and science irritate me this much, do I really love them at all, or do I just have this sort of idolistic respect for them? I still don’t know what to do.

My blue Evangelion is coming in the mail next week.
I like how that’s the most exciting thing I have to look forward to.

This River Is Wild

Posted in Life on October 17th, 2006 by Tom

So break was awesome. I got to sponsor at Blue Valley. Except by ‘sponsor’ I mean ‘judge’, and only where ‘judge’ means ‘Judge with Ethan on panels’. When all was said and done I’d judged 5 rounds of debate: Friday: Novice Rd. 2. Saturday: Varsity Rd. 4, Varsity Sems, Open Sems, Novice Finals. They were (in respective order): Crap, meh, meh, Crap, Crap. I don’t think I said one positive thing on the Novice Finals ballot, which is a little depressing.

I can’t decide if I was way to hard on them or if they just sucked. It’s a little late for regretts, so I’m just gonna say they sucked. My favorite comment I wrote was to this one girl: “You are far too rude and flippant for me to respect or listen to you.” And it was true. I don’t think I really deserved to get paid for that, because I didn’t really do what I was sent there to do, which was sponsor. But whatever. It was still awesome and I can’t wait to go back and do it at the end of the month!

The rest of break was pretty uneventful, mostly because that’s quite nearly all I did was debate-tournament related things. I saw my family, and my cats! I was really glad my cats remembered me. You sort of expect that kind of thing from your family, but when your pets recognize you it’s proverbial icing on the break-cake. I really hated coming back to school, mostly because of my physics mid-term (which went sort of OK).

But now that that’s done, I’m not terribly upset to be back.

Crystal Ball

Posted in Maintenance, Technology on October 9th, 2006 by Tom

I wanted some feedback from people as far as how the site was doing. I’ve noticed a few things I’d like to address, and I also wanted to open the forum for suggestions, and show you guys something really cool I found.

First and formost: The RSS Feed. I know it’s new, and of the couple of you that read this, even fewer use it, but let me know how it’s working! I just recently changed the format from the “Entry- Title” to the “Entry (Date)” template. I realized the labling each of them ‘entry’ is sort of redundant, and that the date would be a far more useful use of that space instead.

For those of you who’re not on board with the RSS and would like to give it a shot, I posted a little tutorial in the FAQ. I highly recommend it as something you should just try. If you dislike it you can always make it go away quite easily.

Another thing I’m sure you’re wondering is why the hell this site loads so slow. Two reasons have been identified:

1. I’m Stupid
I saved all the navigation images at the top at really high quality settings, so they’re pretty hefty images. They were constantly living in my browser’s cache (images that are saved temporarily by the web browser for easy access) because I looked at the site daily when I was working on it.

2. You’re At College
Think about it. One connection shared by several thousand kids who all download music, images, videos, programs, etc. The more people using it the slower it goes. Like the library during midterms or the dining hall at dinner, the huge volume of traffic tends to cause problems. Consequently, the internet seems quite akin to cold syrup.

I know exactly what I’ll do to solve this problem, so it’s now so much a question ‘how’, but far moreso as to ‘when’. It simply means re-saving all the images at the lowest setting possible without a noticeable drop in quality. Finding that happy medium could be a day or two’s work. Saving all of the images and replacing them on the server could take longer than that.

Please be patient with it for now. I’ll do my best to have the site ‘Collegiate Compatible’ by the end of October, but no promises. Like a lot of other personal projects, it might get pushed back to winter break. We’ll see.

This is due largely to my other technological obligation, which is the Truman Student Senate Website. I was recently appointed webmaster, and I’ve just begun to make some early tweaks. The problem is that the site is dated, and the organization of the server is… chilling. Finding stuff there is a bit like ‘Where’s Waldo’, where you keep finding that one idiot wearing a Waldo Hat.

We’re going to be doing a lot of work to just get it useable again, so that it functions. However, at this point I’m really hoping for a complete and total redesign before semester is out.

Sidenote: I was listening to my iPod just now. I wanted to know how much of the song was left. I grabbed my GameBoy Color and was confused by its blank screen. …what is wrong with me…

The last tech related thing before I sign out is the Optiums Keyboard. It’s a keyboard where each and every single key is a teeny-tiny screen. What use is that, you might ask. Well, expecially for interpreters or foreign relations people, the ability to change what characters appear on the keyboard itself could be extremely useful.

They’ve also shown it used as displaying the functions of shortcuts in applications like Photoshop or commands for games like Quake. My personal favorite is the shortcut keys. I can pull the few icons I have on my desktop, and put them on my keyboard!

I don’t know if this thing will actually ever see the light of day. I have hope becuase the ‘Mini 3’ derivative product actually came out and then subsequently sold out. I’m sort of dreading when it actually comes out though, becuase that’ll confirm my initial suspicion that it’s several hundred dollars out of my hypothetical price range.

If I got that keyboard though, maybe others using my computer would stop complaining about the ergonomic split-key one I have now. Then again, they’d probably just whine that Optiums was ‘too distracting’.

I just can’t please you people.