Tonight was the last session for the hockey class that Mike and I are taking at Schenley rink. Unfortunately there was a pretty big snowstorm in Pittsburgh this evening, so playing was a bit rough—after a few minutes the ice was covered with inches of snow. The Zamboni tried to come out to fix it but it got broken when it ran over a hockey puck that was hidden in some pile of snow somewhere. Skating wasn't so bad, but even the hardest slapshot passes would skid to a stop after a few feet—the only thing you could do to get it to go anywhere was to toss it way into the air like chipping from the sand trap. Thus, I'd describe tonight's "game" as a cross between golf, cross-country skiing, and farming. Afterwards, as is tradition, we drank pee pee beer courtesy of the coaches; I had "Jacob Best" which is a "premium" pilsner by the makers of Pabst Blue Ribbon. You know, though, pretty much anything tastes good after skiing for a few hours.
Mike had the bright idea to take his tiny camera and snap off some pics (above) and take some movies of us skating around. There are only a few of me, but you could watch me "handling the puck" (this was right at the beginning, but it was still pretty hard to control that piece of frozen deadweight) or skating through a snowbank that had developed on the ice. (I used the Xvid codec; I think this is pretty universal?) I hope Mike posts some more videos on his blog, because it was a pretty memorable evening.
I went through the last couple months of photographs that I never uploaded and then I uploaded some of them. You can find them in ye ol' Winter 2006 directory. (See also thesetwo pictures in my fancypants gallery.)
I saw a bunch of lectures this weekend and it reminded me that I should really bring my camera to such things because then I can take some pictures for Wikipedia because I am such a Wikipedia nerd. So we saw Tom Hales and Dr. Ruth and then I finally remembered to bring my camera to Ira Glass's lecture. So you will see some Ira Glass paparazzi shots in there. I suppose this should have been pretty obvious, but Peabody award winning radio personalities, well, they tend to be really good speakers. I was surprised at how awesome his lecture was, and how often I found myself nodding along to what he was saying. OK, I am a This American Life fan now.
Tonight is our last (?) hockey class of the season, like, Superbowel III. It's time to win one for the pinky-finger!
Do you know where your thesis proposal is?
(20 Feb 2006 at 09:44)
I am proposing my thesis in less than an hour! Anyone awake and in town is welcome to come to Wean 4625 at 10:30am to watch.
You can also get the slides and follow along at home. Just page through them starting at like 10:35 and taking approximately 40 minutes. (The document is easier to understand without someone talking over the slides, but a lot longer...)
Wherein I discuss the weekend's events and the plans for the future
(14 Feb 2006 at 14:45)
My, how my blogosquare internet home site stagnates when things get busy. A momentous weekend; highlights:
We went XC skiing (I thought it was rather unique, but a wordlist search reveals many other ii words: antiinflammatory, safariing, zombiism, radii, shanghaiing, etc.) at the illustrious "Hidden Valley Resort" as part of an EPP or Civil Engineering trip. Since I was uncharacteristically sick for several weeks (influenza then a peritonsillar abscess—please do not look it up, it is disgusting) this was the first exercise I had gotten in a long time. XC (I like to refer to it this way, like "eXtreme") is harder than one might naïvely think but we did eventually get the hang of it, and I did eventually lose the feeling that it was just hiking with awkward slippery devices attached to one's feet. After lunch Allison's advisor showed us to a nice obscure trail—this was the weekend of the nor'easter so I had to put my CT snowdriving skills to the test—which was really beautiful and cold and we saw this weird monument in the woods to three people who had been "killed" (no other explanation, to the rumor mill's delight) one hundred ten years and nineteen days earlier.
Even more momentous: On the way to the skiing place, Van 7 II's (there you are, another ii word) odometer rolled over to 100,000 miles. I reset the trip odometer so that they are now synchronized, and nobody is allowed to touch that thing! It's important, you know, to have redundant measuring.
What else? After the skiing trip was the nth annual "Anti-VD" party, with "VD" standing doubly for Valentine's Day (happy it, by the way, if you like!) and Venerial Disease. I made some good posters. I won Twister, a stockin' feet game, six times in a row with these awesome cowboy pants providing the needed freedom of motion.
We have been working on ideas for the IFCP Programming Contest, which CMU is organizing this summer. I am totally psyched about this, and it is very frustrating to not be able to say anything about it, since secrecy about the contest is pretty important. Anyway, if you are not at CMU, I hope that you will enter. If you are in the POP group and interested in pouring a whole load of time into this and keeping your mouth shut, let me know!
Another thing: I am proposing my thesis on Monday, February 20th. Scheduling was a mild nightmare, but now it's really happening! You can read my proposal document if you like, and I will post (much more pleasant) slides from my talk soon enough. Anyway, another very busy week ahead...
On the Importance of being Forthwith
(08 Feb 2006 at 13:30)
Yesterday on my way to Sarah's PhD defense celebration (congrats!!) I stopped by Cortney's house because I thought she was going to be there but she wasn't there yet so I hung out with Allison, but Allison was working on her statistics so I picked a book off the shelf to read. I chose Everything is Illuminated because it has been variously recommended to me by friends. I must say, friends, you have let me down variously: When there is a book that is so obviously up my alley, rather than be like, Tom, I think you'd really enjoy this book, you should instead thrust the book into my hands, open to the first page, and say, Tom, you must put these words in your eyes forthwith. Only words like forthwith can make me actually read books these days, or else being somewhere where I oughtn't be disturbing my friend who is working on her Statistics except that I had to stop reading on page six because I felt that my stifled laughing out loud like through my clenched teeth biting my index finger was in fact disturbing her. So I am only on page six but this book is totally next in line; move over, Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog.
I got a call this morning from a programmer for Muse. Isn't it great that bands have programmers now? (Okay, in this sense programmer means like MIDI sequencing and effects, but the thought of literal computer programming is much funnier to me.)
Speaking of music, sorry "Major Label Debut (fast)" but the winner for my favorite song of January 2006 is "She Has No Strings" by the Dirty Three. The violin playing is just microtonally brilliant, reminiscent to me of when Morrissey sings "oh, I say" in "Some Girls are Bigger than Others." Like, out of tune but so perfectly out of tune. Good one, kids.
It's an extra-large Superbowl! I don't normally get excited about sports, nor do many of the people I know, but cripes, when all of the people around you are united by this charming town pride, it is impossible to resist.
Some of my friends live out of the country and might not really understand what I'm talking about. The short story: The Superbowl is the largest sporting event in the US. Bigger than Olympic figure skating. People scream and beat each other up over it like the World Cup. Of course, it is ultimately pointless—nothing happens if your city wins, other than everybody goes rioting in the South Side or equivalent (which happens if you lose too, it's just like a happy riot instead of an angry riot). Here's the deal particularly this year: the Pittsburgh Steelers used to be a dominant team in the 1970s, winning four superbowls in that era. We haven't won since then. This year we won a series of upset games to win the league championships from last place, the first time this has ever happened (?). Pittsburgh, which is still sort of searching for its new identity after having grown out of the Iron smelting era, suddenly has something to be excited about again: Superbowl victory!! Moderately inappropriate or surprising Steelers/Pittsburgh pride sightings:
The city buses flash like61C Downtown via Oakland Go steelers!
I saw on the news a sign in front of a church that said:THINGS TO DO: 1. GO TO CHURCH 2. PRAY FOR STEELERS
The car horn, which I have always maintained should be replaced with two sound effects: one that shouts "Emergency! Emergency!" and the other that shouts "I'm an asshole!" now has a new meaning: "OMG go steelers!!" Honking can be heard at any time in any part of the city.
Everybody has these Steelers flags attached to their cars, so that the entire town is like a weird funeral procession that's not going anywhere in particular, but it is a bit like the traffic signals have correspondingly evaporated, and they do have police stationed around to cordon off particularly riotous areas of town
Like speaking of which, we went down to the Strip District yesterday, which is Steelers merchandise city, and there are kids everywhere with football heads and an old man who could probably barely walk under the burden of all his buttons and jerseys, and a man playing the "Here we Go" song on his flute—flute!—and everyone is just walking in the streets or dancing in the rain like a national holiday
Did I mention that the Superbowl itself is in Detroit, not even in Pittsburgh?
Our zoo's baby elephant loves the Steelers (icon hint: the "terrible towel" is a piece of merchandise invented by Myron Cope, famousest radio announcer for the Steelers, which fans wave at games or like, out the windows of cars just in case you forgot that we're going to the superbowl, or is placed in the windows of jewelry stores and coffee shops and boutiques in Shadyside as a sort of insurance against the Steelers rioting mafia, who maybe will like smash your window or boycott your establishment if you do not openly declare your sports team alignment)