I’m not dead, I swear

March 30, 2009

Around school, whenever I see admitted/prospective students being led around and given tours and whatnot, I can’t help thinking: Overachievers. This time last year, I didn’t even have my applications in.

On Universes

January 27, 2009

Odd, isn’t it, that it took me until now to realize this.

I do much better on closed-universe problems, where outside research is strictly forbidden. If I’m expected to generate an answer based on the information provided in a very limited set of documents, I can do it just fine. That has held, so far, both at work and at school.

I only start to fall apart when the doors are thrown wide and almost anything could be relevant. The hardest part is deciding to stop researching. Ugh.


January 15, 2009

Six seconds with a pair of scissors this morning and I look infinitely less disheveled.

Daylight saving

October 28, 2008

My school has a fake belltower that plays recordings of various bell sounds at regular intervals. Turns out whatever system controls its playback hasn’t been updated for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, since it’s still operating under the old rules for changing the clock. I suppose it’s no bigger nuisance than for any other clock, except that this one can be heard chiming from blocks away. I’m giddily anticipating the three weeks next spring when it will be unreliable for the same reason.

A Proundrum

October 21, 2008

If the opposite of ‘pro’ is ‘con’, what’s the opposite of the Constitution?

Open Letter to John McCain

October 15, 2008

Dear Mr McCain:

Why do you hate science?

I will be going to a planetarium this week-end to spite you.

Literati’s Law of Averages

September 30, 2008

As defined in Roger Ebert’s Movie Glossary, Literati’s Law of Averages states:

When any character in a movie is reading a book, the page he is reading always will be in the exact center of the book.

Seldom has there been a more egregious example of this law, assuming it can be extended to television as well, than in the following stills from The Sopranos.

First, we have a close-up of the book Carmen Soprano is reading: a real-estate sales exam study book, clearly open to the first page of chapter 1.

The very next shot is a reverse-angle shot, showing Carmen holding the book. It’s been clearly established that she’s just started the book (see the picture above), yet the book is open to its exact center. Maybe it just has an extremely long table of contents, introduction, foreword, and so on?

It’s made all the more infuriating by this counterexample from another Sopranos episode. AJ is reading A People’s History of the United States and finding out about Christopher Columbus’s wacky adventures in enslaving and genociding the Arawaks. This is recounted at the very beginning of the book, as it happens, and AJ’s book is opened to the very beginning.

I guess it’s a function of having different directors for different episodes, but it’s kind of annoying that they got it right once and got it horribly, horribly wrong another time. (And for the record, the real estate example was the horribly wrong one.)

On fire hydrants, again

September 15, 2008

OK, I swear this is the last word on fire hydrants for the time being. I just couldn’t pass this up when I saw it outside an IKEA in Maryland on Saturday:

Out of Service

Look at the sky turn a hellfire red

September 12, 2008

So I’m walking home last night when a couple fire-marshal vehicles zoom past me with their sirens blaring. Ok, that’s not unheard of. But then I notice the sound of several helicopters in the air, look up, and see a huge billow of smoke illuminated from below.

Somebody's house is burning

Once I reach my apartment, which I’m glad to see is not on fire, I grab my camera.

Burning down down down down

Thankfully, it turns out the fire hydrants in my neighborhood were turned on.

Jesus fuck.

September 11, 2008

Are the fire hydrants in your neighborhood turned on?

He explains all the district’s hydrants, including those in Alexander Ranch, have had their water turned off since just after 9/11 – something a trade association spokesman tells us is common practice for rural systems.

“These hydrants need to be cut off in a way to prevent vandalism or any kind of terrorist activity, including something in the water lines,” Hodges said.

But Hodges says fire departments know, or should have known, the water valves can be turned back on with a tool.

. . .

The neighborhood association’s now working to get the tools in the hands of homeowners, as an extra precaution.

I can’t get over how absurd this is. I mean, come on.

H/t Bruce Schneier.

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