Open house weekend (where we try to recruit, I mean, see if CMU is a good match for, the admitted CS graduate students) was a blast this year. I went to a bunch of activities (including a nice dinner at Church Brew Works), and gave a talk on Saturday morning (one of two student research presentations) called "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Logic." This was "just-in-time" lecture style, as I was finishing my slides while the first speaker was giving his talk, but I think it went pretty well. Everyone seemed entertained, and I got a bunch of "how'd you do that??" questions after the talk. (They were of course all about my ostentatious presentation style using Flash, rather than the actual content of the talk, but you gotta make points somehow!)
This week I'm making a t-shirt design for the Random Distance Run again. Therefore, I am soliciting bad computer science puns in the style of previous years fake sponsors (browse the directory of previous designs for examples). Please, my well of wit runneth dry after 3 years!
Today is great. I am in such a good mood. The weather is beautiful and Allison and Cortney and I are going to do the Cleveland Half-Marathon in a few months so I went for a run, and had a bit of a Forrest Gump moment where I broke from my normal route (about 3 miles) and just kept going. This is a nice way to run on a nice weekday, as I discovered many neat Pittsburgh places I had never been before, and understand better how the various roads hook up now. I went through East Liberty and then saw a sign that said "Zoo" so I ran to the zoo. On the way I finally got to run on that cool banked track by the firemen practice building, the one they keep burning down to train firemen, which is also cool. Unfortunately there is one section of the blue belt that I had to walk during (marked above) because there was no sidewalk and it is pretty busy. Then I went along the river into Lawrenceville, which is a neat little section I had never really been to before, by the Brillobox (Pittsburgh's newest hipster venue) and back through Bloomfield.
Usually I run to try to see how fast I can do a particular route, or to see how far I can go—those are fun, but I plan on doing this kind of casual speed get-myself-lost-and-then-find-my-way-back run like once a week to help train for the race. I just gotta remember to bring a little bit of money next time so that I can stop for water and food if I need it, and maybe my ID so I can take the bus back if I get totally stranded or injured.
Tonight a St. Patrick's day party—kiss me, I'm Irish!—tomorrow a protest—my first; believe it!—Sunday poker with academic brother Derek—of "thesis is not optional" fame—who is visiting from Chicago.
One of the best ways to cure a case of musical constipation is to do a totally balls-out recording; here I am doing that in many ways: by picking some of the stupidest sounding MIDI patches that I have access to, by singing about websites, by using my first take as often as possible, and by writing songs about Pittsburgh and things on my desk. I think that the results are positive, but I may be too delirious to tell right now.
In preparation for making an album this weekend I am finally trying to tune my piano. Here's a picture (click for a larger version) of me with the thing splayed open and my wrench out. I contemplated writing some software to help with this, but it is more fun to be entirely low-tech: I'm listening to reference tones and muting strings with my finger and turning the pegs with a wrench. After all, a large part of this is the do-it-myself value, so why not go all the way? (If you are a real piano tuner, please don't tell me all the mistakes I'm making, at least until I'm done. )
I'm currently 1/12 of the way done. I hope I get faster at it, or my arm is gonna be really sore soon...
Sorry to make you all look at my tests
(09 Mar 2006 at 12:16)
I'm testing a change I made to my weblog behind the scenes that should allow pictures to have arbitrary side-text and styles (mostly for mike's benefit, since he loves to upload a picture with every post). So here is a test! I drew this comic in 1997.
I've realized that one of the reasons that uploading photos is so painful for me is that I obsess over hard drive space on spacebar.org, so I am very careful about sizes and compression settings (but simultaneously picky about quality). The reason I obsess is that I only have like 180mb left. I wonder if I can stretch this computer's life over the remainder of grad school or not... it's hard to justify the pain of an upgrade when the thing's been on pretty much continuously since 1996 without any troubles. You know?
The only thing that would have improved the shot would be a "for sale" sign in the window.
Also, I posted some pictures from the Puppet Party this weekend. Some further artsier photos from a trip along the Eliza Furnace Trail are coming soon, but those take much more time of loving phototouching.
February snows bring march thundersnows
(03 Mar 2006 at 10:48)
Some other things happened!
When I did my thesis proposal last week I also created a fake thesis proposal talk as a stress-relief exercise. Those who were on time to my practice talk saw it, but William didn't and asked me about it and so here it is for him and for posterity. Don't expect anything amazing.
I completed ListenQuest mini 2006. The last time I did this was in April of last year. It's when I listen to every MP3 in my collection that I didn't make and is rated 3 or higher. Since I accidentally enqueued them twice and then randomized when I was part-way through, I actually ended up listening to them all 2 times. This means about 38 hours of music, which took me several weeks to finish. Now I feel a little lost when I sit down at my computer since I need to, you know, think about what I want to listen to.
Every time I get back into running daily we get some kind of crazy snow or storm that does me in. Like two nights ago we had snow and rain and lightning all in one, and this morning the sidewalks are all frozen with invisible ice. Go away, weatherman!
What else? Puppet party coming up this weekend means for sure some nice photo opportunities. We also went to a bunch of concerts recently. Each had its problems, but listening to all of this live music is making me want to make music again. I gotta tune this piano and crap somethin' out, AAD-style.
We chose a weekend and made a teaser web site for the ICFP Programming Contest. This is the annual contest associated with the International Conference on Functional Programming, one of the major conferences in our field. There's not much on the site but a teaser graphic intended to create mystique, but mark your calendars for the weekend of July 21–24 2006. More information and secrecy to follow, but mostly secrecy.