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Whew, I'm either humiliated or respected after today. Today was the high school's Academic Olympics, held in the small Auditorium, a trivia competition for Spirit week. Simply put, there are four teams, for freshmen, sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors, each with 4 players from that class. The faculty reads the questions from a card at a podium, and the first team to buzz in answers, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Since I am Vice President of the school's varsity Trivia Team, (sounds like such a figurehead) role, I had to choose who would be on the team. Nobody offered to be on the Juniors team, costing some Spirit Points for their apathy. Anyway, I managed to bring a friend and sit in for the Juniors team. There was one problem, we were only 2 people versus teams of four, but my friend said that she'd rather I answered most, too shy, and only really good at English, she told me.

Well, we sat down on the stage and started the match. The first was Seniors vs Juniors. Originally the Seniors took the lead, going for the Math and calculus questions. I managed to answer some tricky science questions, which suprised some buddies in the audience. Once the category of Math ran out, and my team was behind, they chose a Biology question (but the hardest to put us out of reach of an answer). An important question like this could swing control over to our team, where my Literature major friend could outanswer anyone for her category. Hands on the buzzers, just needed one correct answer right now.

The Question:

What does a polyorchid man have more than t---"
I buzzed in, then instantly regretted it. I knew the answer, but I had to heasitate. You see, the answer is Testicles, but I had some reservations at yelling it out in a crowded room, right answer or not. Wait, what if it's wrong? God, how mortifying! Who put this question in the pile?

After making absolutely sure in my head twice that it was the right answer, even struggling to find the root word in Latin, I cringed, and said

testicles?

It seemed to take an eternity for the teacher slowly flip over the card, register a suprised look, and say "...That's correct." Whew.

I slumped back in my chair, as everyone in the audience gave me this look of "How the hell did he know that?" followed by a standing ovation of my friends in the 2nd row. I want to say it was gratifying, but I was too releived thinking of whether I'd live something like that down if I was wrong.

After we had control of the board, the topic moved to English Literature. There were a number of tough ones that my companion answered, some the Seniors just knew better than we.

Then, another question popped up:

What Russian author was famous for writing Crime and Punishment?
Nobody buzzes in. Seven seconds go by. Just before the timer runs out, I reluctantly buzz in. I'm pretty sure I know the guy, but how am I going to pronounce this guy's name? Know it, anyone? Fydor Doystevsky.

Of course the room goes quiet when I speak (does wonders for my ego), and I pronounce "Fye-odor...Dos-toy-ev-esky?"

An even longer pause, as the announcer turns over the card, and registers an even bigger look of suprise than the previous one. "Correct!"

The audience, mostly freshmen and a few teachers, all emit a collective "Whoah." In case you didn't know, you never hear of this guy until college, which is why the name boggled all the 14-year-olds' minds.

And that was the game. We lost by about 3 points for the Opening lead the Seniors had. But let me tell you, when I got off that stage, I got applause from everyone. Not only because of the questions, but the fact that I managed to nearly tie with 4 seniors. Not to steal the spotlight, but my companion only answered 2 literature questions, relying on me for the rest. People asked me the rest of the day how I knew such really farfetched answers. That made my day.

It's always a fantastic day when all of the stress just melts away. This is what happened for me today. I had deadlines and design reviews that all happened today. Basically, a lot of stress had been building, and today there was a major release.

I have a course in Mechanical Engineering. One of my projects is to build a car powered by a mousetrap. There was a design review for work done in the past month. However, I had procastinated and didn't start until a few days ago. Another project that had been very far behind just happened to work today. Now the project is basically finished.

Apart from ending the stress, the results from the projects made me feel smarter. Turning in my course request made me think that I had a bright future. I had a lot of time to relax today.

The one problem is that the person that I really love is in love with someone else. Oh well, life must go on. Tomorrow will be a better day (just keep telling yourself that).

It is somewhat amazing how little I did today.

Every evening, I try to translate my day to my kids, since I am the one who tells bedtime stories. We (meaning my children) find it easier to enumerate our day, and this ritual is called "numbers," since we've been doing it since they were too little to understand the idea of an ordered list.

Every evening, I'm able to tell them something positive that I've done - how I've helped someone, or learned something, and so on. How I've tried to help the good guys. Tonight, I really had to think hard to tell them what I did today.

Basically, I sat in my office and got nothing done, as I said. One of my workstations was down; and I flipped back and forth between one that was working, and the dead one, trying to prove that it was indeed a bad hard drive and not in fact the figment of my imagination. Got distracted by how screwed the bad one truly was. Sometimes, my friends, you've got to just bring the hard drive to the help desk, get a tech to prove that it's truly dead to the manufacturer, snag a good one and go on. But partially loading your machine multiple times only to be stymied repeatedly by schizophrenic hardware is just no fun.

Went to lunch, had an aggravating conversation instead of doing some writing, and hell, I don't even remember the rest of the day.

Sigh. It sure was nice coming home to the family, though. I am a lucky bastage who just had a "do squat" day.

i placed my trust and eight dollars in the hands of a stranger today

Along Grand Avenue, on my way to Whole Foods, biscotto in hand, i encountered today a man asking for help. He detailed his sad story of having had his money stolen and running out of gas. He said he was a truck driver from South Dakota, and he just needed to get enough gas to get back to Albert Lea, where he had money or friends or company or something that would help him get back home. He asked me for eight dollars, and said he'd mail it back to me in the morning. I think that most people would dismiss him as a smooth-talking panhandler, but i was tempted to believe his story, so i pulled out my wallet, as he told me that his wife had just left him. I then proceeded to give him not one or two dollars to "help him on his way", but the entire eight he asked for. He's going to mail it back to me, right? Maybe it was an experiment in generosity and trust, or maybe it was an experiment in foolishness and gullibility. I grabbed a random receipt (cash) from my wallet and wrote my address on the back, leaving out my last name and just using the box number instead, to at least obscure my identity somewhat. James thanked me, and we went our separate ways.

I'll be watching my mailbox closely in the next few days. I think i'll be getting eight dollars soon.

I've become very aware lately of how much my username sucks.

I first logged on to e2 on a whim. I had read about it in some magazine or another, perhaps the Earthlink mag, and it sounded interesting. It was late at night. I created an account, didn't feel like coming up with some clever name, and just typed in my full, given name. No spaces. No caps. Didn't think much about it.

I did a few WUs. Then a few more. Then a few more. After a while it got to the point where I'd be abandoning quite a few groovy things if I were to start over again.

So I'm stuck with an absurdly uncreative name. I thought of the name "brundlefly" the other day while watching the Cronenberg version of The Fly. It's a good name I think, which I (sniff) shall never use. I hope somebody uses it someday.... as long as they thank me for it in their homenode.

Today, three of my writeups were nuked, only one of which was done deservedly. There are now two nodeshells which previously were not empty, and actually were quite informative.

Editors: fuck you. There's better work for you to do. I think Spiderman said it best: "With great power comes great responsibility." Of course, in this case you'd have to consider editorship on a two-bit website as great power, but we'll stretch things a bit for the sake of argument.

I have done nothing but contribute to this database, and this was an anonymous slap in the face. I don't write any of the emotional, insipid tripe that Everything2 is overflowing with, which constantly floods Cream of the Cool. I am an informative writer, a scarce resource here. I would very much like to hear the reason why my writeups were deleted, but I know that won't happen because whoever has done the deed is a coward.

I am considering requesting the deletion of all of my writeups and moving to another, better encyclopedia database, which I'm sure most of us have heard of by this point. I hope, but doubt, that this will be another stake in the elitist coffin that is Everything2. Now, perhaps I will join the ranks of DMan and the nameless others that have moved forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

Fuck you, you super villain assholes.

11.09.01 :: 03:16

routing problems...i can get a line out to phoenix and dallas, but i'm losing the line at that point. i can't get a goddamn thing except my isp and (for some sick reason) unc/chapel hill. i can't get e2, i can't get globaldominationsystem, i can't get 1211...something large has died, and its smoking carcass is in my fscking way. i can't get any of the other local isp's either. i called the only help i can get at this hour, and the damn tech is in the john. i think i might be able to get a route-around if i go out through the university, but i'm not sure that technet has a solid line out yet either. unfortunately, the university changed its slip dialin number since last i checked and the old ones are giving freaky responses that indicate a certain lack of usefulness. i started mapping sprintnet off of traceroute responses, just to alleviate some of this sense of impending doom. i have this distinct fear of terrorists vs. the telecommunications network ever since qwest locked databeast in a concrete bunker during the september incident. man, you can blow up my homeland, but stay the fuck away from my information network. fucking with the data is an outright declaration of war. but anyway, it's prolly just a server hiccup that nobody noticed because it's 3:30 in the fucking morning and their goddamn sysadmins are sissies and nobody's up watching the damn thing! AAAARRRRGGGHHH!! y'know, it's things like this that make me want to dropkick someone.

talked to the tech at the pod. no routing problems as far as he knows. apparently i *do* have line #s right, but i guess they only take ppp, and i have no config data for setting up ppp to the uni. i'm gonna dropkick something.

wild guess, and i'm in. i wracked my brain until i remembered the ip of the nameserver for the university, and now, ladies and gents, i am finally back in. fuckin' a, that sucked. you never realise how jacked in you are until someone pulls the plug.

You don't want to know about installing Microsoft Windows XP. Sadly, it's all I'm going to cover in this w/u. Please proceed to the next w/u at your leisure.

The install routine worked and worked very quickly compared with Win98 (see recent experiences with that). Installing over Win98 appears to have retained most of the installed software and settings. I think WinXP identified a few installed programs it didn't like (all toys that came with hardware). It also recognised the sound (SBLive5.1) and video (Geforce3) cards okay.

However, USB HCF modem support is sadly lacking. Our Diamond SupraMAX 56K USB has the what must be the most common USB HCF chipset (Conexant), so I guess this is going to be a common problem for people upgrading. (Heh, if you manage to get a USB modem that supports the USB ACM modem standard, it'll probably work fine - and you'll have the bonus of a USB modem that'll work with Linux.) So we're online with a (slightly slower) serial modem.

Now, our Brother MFC-760, which we thought had native support, hasn't. It installed okay from the driver disk, though, without complaint about unsigned drivers. How odd! Even odder - it completely failed to print. The Brother website insists it's supported, WinXP insists it isn't. Oh goody...

We tried Windows Update. First it claimed to have downloaded 19M in a couple of seconds. Then it said it had an unexpected problem communicating with Microsoft Support Centre. Sigh!

More news, as it happens..!


Have you ever done it with someone you weren't attracted to?

A friend of mine came up to me at a barbecue and said that someone I knew was interested in me. Well, I did know her, but I didn't know she was interested in me. I wasn't exactly interested in her that way, but I enjoyed hanging around her. She wasn't ugly, in fact, I know a few guys who are attracted to her. I just wasn't one of them. She just lacked those qualities that usually spark my interest. But I had about a six-pack in me, by this point. So I sidled over and struck up a conversation.

Damn, she was cool.

So we talked and flirted for a few hours. Munched on some burgers, drank a little, talked about going skinny dipping later on. Time marched on, and the affects of the beer began to wear off. I was enjoying spending time with her a lot, but as the evening wound down, I found myself less and less attracted to her physically, and my flirting was becoming obviously forced. I was about to stop the proceedings by delivering the spiel that so many people hate hearing - "I just like you as a friend."

Then I stopped and thought about it for a second.

My first thought was how much I hated hearing that bullshit, and began looking for an alternate way out. (I just broke up with someone... not ready for a relationship - blah, blah, blah).

My next thought was about how for my entire life, people have been trying to tell me that true beauty lies on the inside. Beauty is only skin deep, after all. You can't judge a book by its cover. You get the idea. I saw Shrek, and I'm planning on seeing Shallow Hal this weekend. I know how this goes... Even so, I've always been extremely picky in the people I go out with. Now, before you go and get all indignant, I don't go out with someone just because they have a pretty face, or a svelte body - much of that pickiness is reserved for things like sense of humor, intelligence and overall personality. However, physical appearance is on criteria list, and can sometimes tip the scales one way or the other.

Anyway, it hit me. Here I was having the time of my life with this woman, and I was about to call it off like a goddamned idiot, because she didn't look like what I typically like looking at? Duh! I excused myself to the bathroom, and while I was ridding myself of even more affects of beer. I decided that I would not put a stop to what was happening out there. In fact, it was time to step it up a notch and see if I could take this woman home with me.

So we did it.

At the risk of sounding like a pig, I have to say that True Beauty is indeed on the inside, if you know what I mean, and the way someone looks has very little to do with the enjoyment you can get from being with them. It was something of an epiphany, and I think that physical appearance dropped several notches for me on the importance scale of potential mates, and the ability to make me laugh (to really make me laugh) went up.

We spent much of the next day together.

Nice breakfast, a trip to the mall. Generally hanging out. Well the weekend was drawing to a close, and it was time for us to go to our respective houses and prepare for another stinkin' Monday when she hits me with it.

"I like you as a friend".

Irony sucks.

Quote of the Day:

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
- Arthur Koestler

News and Views:

Nodes of Note:

This place needs more actual content. Let's begin.


Oh Happy Day

I finally fixed the 'too many files open' bug that's been plaguing me for the last while... apparently when you fork and then use a socket in the child of that fork, that socket has to be close()ed in the parent as well as the child. With RSA's SSL-C library anyway.

So I happily went around fixing all my old code, adding the one little "close( s );" line and making problems go away. Today is also Friday (arguably the best day of the week, it's a long weekend and the bug that our QA team has been working on has been fixed. My system at home (which my last daylog entry mentioned it had blown up) is being slowly restored. It has a new name, Phoenix (after the quote from SAL in 2010 about it meaning something "... raising from the ashes...."

If things continue on this way, I'll win a million dollars, have a node C!ed and get to sleep at a decent hour tonight. Of course, on the flipside, with so much good karma around me today, something terrible is bound to happen (flood, famine, and downvoting no doubt).

Ha! Even as I type this another bugzilla bug has been verified as invalid (stupid tech error) so that's one less thing I have to mess with!

Watched the season premiere of The Tick last night.

I feel the same about the guy who plays The Tick (Patrick Warburton) and Scott Bakula in Enterprise. Of course, it's just my personal opinion, but I don't think that either of them quite *gets* who it is they're playing yet. I think after the characters develop a bit we'll see some improvement (unless The Tick gets cancelled; I have no such worries about Enterprise).

Right now Warburton is delivering The Tick as if he's really caught up in how cool he's being. He's kind of squinty-eyed a la Clint Eastwood. What I expect from The Tick is a child-like innocence, a simple, wide-eyed infatuation with the idea of JUSTICE.

I've got exactly the opposite idea about Bakula as Capt. Archer. He's the one who's got the wide-eyed kid attitude going, and when he's not doing that he's acting wishy-washy. Nobody wishy-washy would get to command the first Earth starship. Right? Can somebody back me up on this? I mean, sure, this crew is supposed to be less Utopian Superman (i.e. Star Trek TNG) and more human (read: American) but 'ol Scott often looks as confused as he did in Quantum Leap. That show worked great for him, because I would be perpetually confused, too. But now.. hm. Please put in an order for a backbone, and quit squinting for Chrissakes.

No other complaints about The Tick, really, except for maybe a lack of budget. I fear that unless the series REALLY takes off, we're going to see a lot of "Look over there, off-camera! There's something really amazing and terrible going on over there! Let's focus the shot on this chimney!" The thing I find really promising about the show is that it's finally being aimed at the correct audience. It really never was meant for children. In that context, it's just another dumb superhero comic/show. Where it really shined was as a highly intelligent, character-oriented story that at the same time was a hilarious sendup. Now that they can include some of the more adult themes, like Batmanuel and Captain Liberty's love-hate (read: have-sex-then-beat-each-other-up) relationship, I think they finally have an opportunity to let Ben Edlund shine.

Why do I get the feeling some comittee of Fox dumbasses is going to squash this show just like they squashed the cartoon?

I found the best story online today. I laughed till I cried. Check it out:

http://more.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/wolffiles/wolffiles193.html

Ok, now onto my daylog. Yesterday I found out some very bad news. My good friend Eric, whom I have known since I was 5, has been labeled bi-polar. They have decided to put him on medicine, and see how he takes to it.

Also, about 15 minutes after that I found out a good friends friend commited suicide. He has apparently been pill popping, since the cops found over 10 different kinds in his bedroom. His roommate found him, laying on the floor of the living room, having shot himself in the head. He was 21 years old. My age.

Well.....back to work I go.

The kid sitting in front of me wants to play; he pops his head up above the seatback and makes a face. Although he is playful his huge eyes, so dark they seem to draw in the light around them, are sullen. His face is slender and his hair, cut such that it falls around his ears on the side and just above his eyebrows in the front, is black as a raven. His face contains a certain intensity that is usually reserved for those much older than four. His skin is a deep olive.

After getting bored of me he awakens the man sitting next to him, who I can only assume to be his father, and converses breifly with him in spanish. Although I don't understand the words it sounds like he is asking a very little kid like question. The father responds and tries to fall back asleep, he sounds annoyed. He awakens his father several more times then gets bored of that and takes to resting his chin on the window sill and staring out at the scenery as it passes us by. His eyes become still, fixed on some point at infinity that he clearly can't see for the trees that border the highway, and he is lost in his imagination.

He snaps out of it and is on the move again as only a little kid could be in the cramped quarters of a Greyhound bus. He points at the reading light that I use to illuminate my page. I swivel it so it shines on him, then back to my page. He points at it again so I turn it off and then back on. He then points to his own such light which I turn on for him, he touches my hand and smiles as if to thank me; we have a moment of understanding despite any language barrier. As I feel his warm little hand and see the smile on his face we can communicate. It is a kind of communication that is universal to all humans, a kind of communication that is based on first principles. Not a word was ever spoken between my friend and I on that four hour bus ride.

It sometimes seems that while others are changing themselves all the time, I haven't changed significantly in years. I try not to ever be too down on myself, but instead of avoiding depression, which is what I tell myself when I avoid self-critical thoughts, I'm merely avoiding change. And if anyone ever needed change, it's me (while that's a vast overstatement, I'm leaving it in because I think it's time to kick my own ass). In the past three years, it seems I haven't left this cozy room, this comfortable chair, this nice computer except to eat, shit, and go to class. Sure, I have my excursions to pdx, but that's like another person, a person I've invented. Idealized Ryan. Cool Ryan that likes to try new things and almost doesn't eat meat and listens to cool music and does creative things. Which is absolute bullshit. I've been stuck in a feedback loop for three years, and spiral is tightening. I haven't seen a movie in ages. I haven't gone out to see music in ages. I haven't walked anywhere or biked anywhere or seen any friends other than the ones who call me in $deity knows how long. I've almost flawlessly withdrawn from life here in Seattle. I dream of moving after college is eventually over, but a move to a different city where I start the same thing is going to do exactly nothing to change me. I'll end up like I am now: measuring the change in seasons by how the light gets in my eyes at different times of day through my closed blinds.

It's time for a real fucking change.

And as life tends to do when a change is needed, an opportunity has presented itself. Monumental. A vast undertaking, one that will require a change in how I live on every level.

I'm going to bike across the country. I will touch the Pacific, I will touch the Atlantic. Chris is doing it to step out of his boring school rut; I will do it to step out my boring life rut.

Of course, I can make all the big showy declarations I want, but what counts is action. So I hope this daylog will serve as a marker, a marker that says, "this is the day, today, that I begin to change."

I need to go now. I've got a lot to do.

....

If anyone has any tips on how to go from zero to ultra biking machine in 6 months, I'd appreciate it. /msg or ryan@flamingweasel.com.

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