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Silly computers.

I think I've figured out what the problem is though. My dad recently purchased a Sony CFD-S20CP, a boombox type radio/CD/tape player, but it has the ablility to play MP3 CD's. He wanted this player so that he could set it up to have multiple CD's worth of music to play.

I have helped him along the way, from getting CDex set up so he can rip his CD's to MP3's using LAME (which is built into CDex) to burning them to CD. If i burn a disc in my drive (CD-R or CD-RW, it doesn't matter) the disc reads and plays perfectly in his player. If I do the same thing in his burner, all hell breaks loose. After reviewing all the settings in Nero, my guess is that the problem comes down to the fact that I have my drive set to burn Disc-At-Once, while his drive is set to burn Track-At-Once. Hopefully this is the root of the problem, and we will be able to correct his settings in the morning. If not, I guess we'll just have to burn all the MP3 discs on my computer.

We'll see what happens...

Update: The burner was not at fault. The installation of CDex was corrupt. After reinstalling on his computer, everything is peachy.

I think into myself a lot these days. I sit and wonder about who I am in the great scheme of things and just how balanced I am. After thinking about it, I find that I hope that I don't balance. I hope that I am as far to the side of "right" as I could possibly be. I look out my window, down the streets, at St. Paul's retirement home and I see people in pain. I try to help those I can, but there is a burning desire that is left scalding my heart and mind. It hurts and pulls me into a place that makes me hate myself for not being able to bring someone that has died back, heal the sick or mend hearts. My soul seems to be convinced that I should be out saving the world and perhaps that still would not suffice.

I wish it were as easy as stripping down to a colorful costume and prowling the roads and alleyways, eliminating evil. I even doubt the one-sidedness of the dilemma. I see a man scolding his child harshly and I find myself wanting him to be evil. But, try as he might, no action he may commit could be of pure dark intent. Perhaps the child destroyed something of great value, and this kid is not a virgin to destruction (what child isn't?). Maybe father is an incredibly kind man, a pillar of his community, that has had his tolerance derailed slowly over five long years. It's possible his wife has recently passed and the pressure is too great. There are too many variants to the story and I cannot perceive every angle of the situation. Even if I could, how would I come to judgment? Who could I be, to decide how the situation should be dealt with?

The only situation that I have ever felt somewhat confident that I made the right choice in was the night of my attempted mugging. I felt as if the hand of God had aided me, turning my head to see the gun being drawn and shoving my across the ground twelve feet before he could level the weapon. There is no absolute evil and no absolute good. The Bible says that God created us in His image. It also states that we are a part of nature. We are both good and evil because God is both.

God is cruel, but his cruelty is refined.
Desperation Steven King

We are both because nature is both. I can only try to be the best person that I can be, and hope that it is enough. All my favorite songs are about heroes. I love comic books, particularly the classics such as Superman and Spider-man. The characters have always looked toward the perfect answers and always seem to come out on top. They always seem to know what is the correct decision to any situation. They can instantaneously assess a situation and every possible perceivable angle, knowing whether or not to hurt or help the subject. The more I think of these characters, the more I hate that I am not them. It was in that hatred one day, that I discovered a new voice; one so very familiar, yet I knew it had never raised its banter above the others. It whispered these words, in a cold yet strangely gentle manner.

“Perhaps, you are the villain of this story.”
At, first my mind rejected this concept as an affront on all senses. How could this be; a man that feels pain when is helpless to aid those in need, one that would lay down his life to save one person? And it spoke again, with the same steel comfort, “Just how many have you saved? And just how many have you hurt?” It is said that one’s memory tends to favor the worse of recollections. This played the voice’s argument admirably.

No matter what you do, nobody thinks themselves a bad person.The Talented Mr. Ripley Patricia Highsmith

Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to my oldest daughter. In reflection, there are so many thing that have ocurred throughout her life. She is, by far, the most artistic and talented of my children. For that reason, she often is the most difficult of them also.

She is, in some ways, so much like me. She is blunt and honest, almost to a fault. In speaking with people, she very much "calls it like she sees it". Not a bad thing over all, but some people have said she is vicious.

The dreams I had for her when she was little will never come to fruition. Not through any failing of hers, but through my own failings. My failing to see her as the person she is; my failing to "wish" for greatness in ways she's not capable. On the other hand, she WILL be a sensational person. Her talents are endless, and she knows who she is and what she wants. Nothing, and no one (not even MOM) will stand in her way.

I am infinitely proud of her morals and values. Infinitely proud that she has chosen to bypass societal conventions. She chooses to take her own path, no matter what others think. She plays her own songs, and dances to them at will. No follower, and no leader is she... she's an independent entity, and that above all other things is what I cherish most about her.

I have chosen today to tell her these things. To tell her that I find her different, in a VERY good way. I have chosen today to let her know that no matter how she wears her hair, make-up, or clothing... she is SPECIAL. She, of my children, will have the hardest time making her place in the world. Yet she, of my children, will be the one to go the furthest. Always staying true to herself, and not what the world thinks she should.

To you... my daughter... A Very Special Birthday. To you, my daughter, the most wonderful of all gifts... I allow you to be yourself, yet be there to help if you fall. I offer you my wisdom, my shoulder, and my unconditional love. Sweet day, my girl... your life is only just beginning!!

What a day, what a night.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday she messaged me on AIM. She invited me to come swimming with her at her parents' house. Of course, I accepted, without hesitation. I packed my suit in my bookbag, and headed to physics class.

The lights went off again in class.
She touched me!
I noticed that she was cold, so I have her my overshirt to wear for the duration of the lecture. However, I must have been seemingly colder than she, because right after the lights went out, she draped the shirt back over my body.

We walked the same streets we do after every physics class, except this time I was not heading for Subway* and she was not heading for home. Her car was parked behind a little red number, and next to the small parking lot near the Towers. We climbed in, and made for her place.

Before swimming we took a couple of hours and had some pizza, and watched "A Beautiful Mind." I can't get enough of Jennifer.

The water in the pool was suprisingly warm for so late at night (read: early in the morning), but I ended up being quite cold after I stopped swimming around. She did a fine job of warming me up a bit, but still, I was shivering. We got out of the pool, dried off, changed, and decided we wanted some pie.

Eat 'n' Park!

We spent the night at my place. It was the first time she stayed the whole night. Lying there, alone with her, sleeping in her arms, makes the rest of the world and its problems fade away.

She left around noonish, or shortly before. We met up for lunch at Uncle Sam's. It was definitely tasty. However, the best was yet to come.

"Man, I really don't like tap water."

Who does? It is chalk full of chemicals and bacteria. I prefer my water filtered, or bottled. Preferably both. At any rate, I ended up spilling some mayonaise in my water, so she offered to get me a new glass when she went to fill her own. I, of course, said "sure."

She came back with a bottle of expensive, high class, filtered, tasty, clean water.

I wanted to stand up and hug her.

She bought me water.

It was almost as good as the cake. *Note to whomever: I didn't really want to go to Subway all those times. I made the walk to be with her.

Life has been called a 'rainbow of chaos.' This summer has been just that; I wouldn't have it any other way. Firstly there has been a friend, teacher aide who is off for the summer and recalled a wish I had made some time ago about painting inside the house. She was kind enough to come over and keep track of the mindless putting down of things. Many times I will get frustrated at finding the item again and give up. Painting was a daunting task, but she made it much easier. Ha! There were times though that she had to come over and push me along to the next project. Gladness, the house looked terrific for the expected company. For those of you who have been here before, the old blue wallpaper in the kitchen is gone. The north wall in the living room pops with a burgundy red while the other three are a very light tan with faux glaze added and a technique called 'ragging' applied. This flows out into the kitchen on two walls and the ceiling giving an open and airy feeling. The north and east wall are the same tan only painted solid. Stenciled along the textured walls are sunflowers. Some are growing around the bookshelf where recipes are kept while others form a daisy chain chair rail. A daisy chain for WCW because love can lay at the edge of a sunflowers too! Down the hall more texturing continues above a chair rail to tie the three areas together. Below the chair rail is sponging with the burgundy. The chair rail in itself was a project. Teaching myself how to miter corners, learning how to stain the pine to a walnut finish that matches some muchly adored family pieces of furniture.

Many things have inspired, most of them came from E2. Kudos to fhayashi and the write up on How to strip wallpaper. It was long and tedious work but went much more smoothly with their information. The color of mangos were chosen in line with a bit of the southwest, some touches of Oriental hearken to the past and to remember sensei. A tip of the hat to impressionism with sunflowers and to one of my favorite painters. Thought Manet is preferred, it’s hard to bring French to a small home in the desert. French calls for grand things on a grand scale. To celebrate these accomplishments, the Hubby and boys had two personal art pieces framed for my birthday and just in time for our guest!

There is always humbled amazement when people take the time and go out of their way to visit. It really is a joy to meet them and get to know them!

Here is where the dog attack happened.


Here is were the walks happen.

Oh this is SO cool to see these places you have written about!

I am thinking about putting a curio shop out front, just kidding guys! It’s elating to say that both Chras4 and thefez decided to visit me over The Thing!

Chras4 called about 7:30 AM and it was a mad dashed off with muffins for breakfast then for a tour of the Arizona-Desert Museum. The weather was just perfect! It had rained and it was obvious that Chras4 had been out dancing through mud puddles. She invited me into her trailer and we sat on her bed, instant friends, talking children and families. Little books were everywhere, she is a true writer, jotting down words and phrases as they spring to mind. Leaving right away for the museum, spending until noon there, back home and signing batches of postcards for noders. We left for downtown Tucson and headed for an old barrio in the historical district where to enjoy the work of several artisans. There were some hummingbird feeders and a rather garish lamp made out of a golf club which of course got us to talking about dannye who likes to feed hummers and play golf. Chras4 dutifully took notes on our locations as we wandered around for I am notorious for getting lost. The red ummm *cough* hideous *cough* art piece in front of the Main Library was our landmark and of course we had to take a look around the County court house with it's well known turquoise dome and Mexican architecture.

Skeedaddling back home to finish signing postcards and stuffing ourselves silly on BBQ Beef, BBQ beans and toothsome potato salad. It was both wonderful and a great delight to meet Chras4. We talked about the way things were on E1 in the beginning and the way things are today. About the many friends we have in common and about the many more we would like to get to know. People who have come and gone and how they have truly affected our lives. Good luck and Godspeed on your new adventures in life and thank you Chras4 for being so kind and thoughtful to grace us with your charming presence. It went by too quickly, I had great fun!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
-1 Peter 4:8-10 (NIV)


Back to : Touch down in the Capitol
Forward to : Sunning at the beach

We've done Washington, we've done Richmond and we're now in Philadelphia.

Richmond was cool, we we're staying in Downtown which was deserted like Washington but thanks to VT_Hawkeye I now understand why.

On Saturday we visited the Capitol and got a tour around the old Capitol of the Confederacy, we then wandered down to the Farmer's Market on 17th street. There was meant to be a Tomato festival going on but it seemed to comprise of one woman dressed up as a tomato and then the normal stalls.

In the evening we went to a football (OK, soccer) match, the Richmond Kickers versus the Hampton Roads Mariners. There was a crowd of around 2000 although it didn't feel like it. If that was the atmosphere at a local derby I'd hate to go to a normal game. They didn't seem very bothered who won and I ended up being the most vocal member of the crowd. However at $8 entry I didn't feel swindled, even though the Kickers lost 2-0.

On Sunday we visited the White House of the Confederacy and the museum that is nearby so I know understand the Civil War, all be it from a Southern perspective. On Sunday afternoon we headed down to Carytown, a slightly more active and alive area of downtown. We visited the lovingly restored Byrd Picture House where we saw two movies for $2 each movie. Enough a not bad movie about an abused wife, with J-Lo as the wife, that just goes crazy in the last half hour and Unfaithful which is dark film about a happy family destroyed by an affair. There is some powerful acting and interesting imagery and a decent ending.

On Monday afternoon, we visited the Richmond Science Museum which is in the old Main Street Station. It has a whole load of interactive toys that we spent a good couple of hours playing with. It also has a cool big Foucault's Pendulum in the entrance rotunda. On Monday evening came the highlight of our visit, VT_Hawkeye picked us up and took us the ball game. We went to Bill's Virginia Barbeque before hand and then headed over. VT and I scored the game and I got into it really quickly, it's a good game. The match itself turned out to be a cracker with the Richmond Braves pulling back a three run defecit to force the Toledo Mudhawks into an extra innings. The Braves pulled it out in the 11th innings with a homer from C Porter.

On Tuesday we visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts which, although good, wasn't as good as we hoped it would be. In the afternoon we got the train up to Philadelphia where we are now holed up at the Bank St Hostel.

We had breakfast at Perlys in Richmond three times and it was nice, our first real experience on an American diner. We came out liking Richmond, although it was hard to get around, and VT-Hawkeye is certainly in line for a cool prize.

On Saturday we're going off down to Virginia Beach for five days before heading up to New York. If you think you can beat VT's hospitality feel free to try, email at greatneb AT hotmail DOT com or msg me.

Oh yeah, American transport sucks.

I passed the core hardware part of the A+ certification exam. The proctor was surprised that I whipped through the exam in such a short time, and refused ear plugs when offered to take the test in a noisy environment. I was in, tested, passed, and out within 45 minutes.

Now, time for me to study up on operating systems, then get my certification before I start my classes for the CCNA.

Today I joined the community and wrote my first 4 WUs. No survivors. Many people messaged me though, mostly creative criticism. When I at some point figured out that the Chatterbox actually contained messages for me, I immediately stopped posting. Some of the basics were explained to me, and generally I saw and talked to a lot of helpful people - especially liveforever who offered to be my mentor, which I of course accepted.

The result of these conversation was a fifth WU in the E2 Clueless (Newbie) Mistakes To Avoid node. This WU was meant to describe my mistakes that day, which were the following:

  • Rapidly posted nodes in the same context will most likely affect the perceived credibility of your WUs.
  • My WUs were too subjective, not really making the point for anybody other than myself.
  • They were all too short - which hardly makes for a good read.
  • Boring WUs will not survive.
  • Good formatting is definitely required to make a good WU.

Eventually, this WU was nuked too. Don't node about nodes - got that now. :)

three weeks since impact

weill in japan: day 22

It has been three weeks since I arrived in Japan, and the focus has shifted from initial culture shock to staying afloat and awake in class.

Class remains as boring as ever, although it is now compounded by a cold that is going around. Many students are coughing and sneezing in class, and a few are even taking days off. On the other hand, even a slight cold provides a nice excuse for missing class, since the material is still boring even though the pace is fast enough to be challenging.

One of our professors constantly corrects our diction, something that I haven't experienced before in Japanese. Unlike Chinese, with its tonal system that can take a year to learn all by itself, Japanese is an atonal language. Still, although tones are not crucial to the meaning of a word, inflection is still important to be understood. I've found that when I start speaking in Japanese, the person listening will often come unusually close to minimize outside noise. This distance is much shorter than when two native speakers are conversing. Although words do not have accents explicitly stated as in many European languages, there are still two pitch levels commonly acknowledged to exist. Going up in pitch between the two syllables of "hana" implies a different meaning than going down in pitch between them. (One of those words means "flower," while the other means "nose." I forget which is which, but context also plays a big part in recognition.) Some words are also meant to be spoken in monotone, something that seems difficult for the native Chinese speakers in the class who have to force the pitches in line.


Now that classroom issues have largely been resolved and everyone's settling into their respective ruts, now is time for the fun part: weekend plans. Homestay students like myself are at a disadvantage when it comes to weekend planning, as we only get to see classmates in class. People in the dorms see each other constantly, and so they can plan large-scale trips like a massive excursion to Mount Fuji in the works for this weekend. I still have a lot to see in and around Tokyo, so I think I'll stick to the railroads and a smaller group of people. Money is also a concern. The courses are halfway done, but many students have already spent more money than they anticipated. The strong yen, which is now weakening against the dollar despite all the U.S. economic woes, has also driven prices up slightly during these first few weeks. There are still plenty of free and low-cost things to do in Tokyo, like see all those zany cosplay characters in Shibuya on a Sunday.

Staying in touch with other students is much harder than at Carnegie Mellon. Without an ADSL connection at home, I have to limit my home Internet access to brief dial-up connections to avoid driving up the phone bill and tying up the phone line. Instead of instant-messaging my friends to make plans, I have to give out my home phone number. That provides a slightly larger barrier to communication, as IMs tend to be a much more impulsive means of communication that talking on the phone.

life at home moves on

Much as it was in the beginning, food has ranged from mediocre to bad so far this week. I haven't eaten too much in the past few days, opting to skip the food at the dining hall in favor of take-out places closer to the train station. Today, for the cost of a meal at the dining hall (¥525, or about $4.50) I got 16 sushi rolls at a take-out place near Ogikubo station. I had to eat it standing up, but that wasn't too challenging. The ubiquitous noodle shops around town also provide a substantial amount of food for a reasonable price. The only problem is that once I leave campus, I don't get to eat until about 2:00 PM.

Since my adventure with Kei on Monday That left me exhausted for most of yesterday, I haven't seen much of my older brothers. Nori is back in Kyoto where he lives and works full-time. Toshi works late and parties later. Kei studies for medical school prep when he's not working his full-time job five days a week. In a departure from the typical schedule, Kei has no work on Monday and Thursday instead of Sunday and Saturday. Those two days are usually spent with friends and catching up on sleep.

I'm still not too fond of dogs. Nene, our big golden retriever, is always pushing into doors and getting in my way. Fortunately, I've learned the two basic commands -- "Kite!" (kee-TEH) for "come here!" and "Osuwari!" for "sit!" -- and the proper way to shout them to be recognized. Our cat, Cheri, is much more quiet and lazy. The turtle and bantam live outside in cages, so they don't bother me at all.


Don't believe everything you see on "The Simpsons." Despite what Mr. Sparkle would have you believe, "ro-go" is not widely understood as "corporate logo." My dictionary even uses that translation, but the clerk at the library today didn't understand it. Instead, "guraffiku" for "graphic" was understood, particularly because I was asking about a computer graphic file.

Weill's First Rule of International Cuisine: There are few foods that can't be saved by enough soy sauce or Tabasco. Today, my negi (spring onion) rolls were not too tasty, but they were greatly improved by the addition of soy. Thank you, soy!

Instead of signatures, most Japanese people use circular stamps to certify documents. These stamps are about 1 cm in diameter, and can be purchased for common surnames at any 100-yen store. Given the common nature of many Japanese names, as well as the ease with which someone can buy a stamp with someone else's name on it, I have to wonder: is misrepresentation a big problem in Japan?

My family has a scale, so I weighed myself for the first time since I arrived. After my recent light appetite spell, I weigh 69.0 kg (152 lb). That's a drop of roughly 2.3 kg (5 lb) from my pre-departure weight without shoes on.

Today I passed by no fewer than six people handing out packets of tissues at train stations, and nobody gave me anything besides a confused look. If I want to increase my stockpile of tissues, I'll have to walk right up to these xenophobic drones and stare them down. Perhaps saying "tisshu, onegaishimasu" ("tissues, please") with the right intonation will change their mind.

Homework reprieve: thanks to a quiz tomorrow, we have no short-term work due on Thursday. This means I can hopefully study thoroughly enough to do better than a C overall on the quiz.

My second individual conference with a professor is tomorrow after class. As I've done with professors at Carnegie Mellon, I plan to be completely honest about how unfulfilled I feel after spending four hours mindlessly parroting written passages about surveys conducted 20 years ago.

That's all for today. Time to get some sleep.

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