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Brian and Sarah got married! (23 Oct 2005 at 00:02)
Brian and Sarah got married!
Phew! Sarah and Brian got married. I have to say, some people have a lot of stamina, and those people are not me. I am rather exhausted after helping out with this wedding, and there are lots of people who did at least ten times as much work. Anyway, it was totally worth it. Sarah and Brian are two of my favorite friends, and the wedding was unanimously declared to be wonderful.

Aside from offering my minivan for mum and chuppa hauling, and being a groomsman (and all that entails..) my duties were twofold. First, prepare a bachelor's party. For this, the usual beer and scotch and Halo sufficed, plus an added twist: in order to preserve and fortify Brian's manliness (which superstition dicates is stripped of him upon getting married, being the reason for a boys-only evening), I bought a bunch of "man" costumes like beards and nunchucks and fake cigars and elvis sunglasses, then we posed him a variety of humiliating postures, and photographed him. The best of these photographs were shown at the wedding reception thanks to a bit of cooperation from the bride. (And I will post them soon..)

The second duty was the "first toast," which I was deeply honored to give. [For you wedding neophytes, as I was only yesterday, this is the toast that accompanies the grand entrance of the bride and groom into the reception after the ceremony.] I don't deny shedding a (happy) tear or two when preparing it (uh, in the car right before the wedding) and during the delivery! Although I was really nervous in preparation, I got a lot of people complimenting me on it afterwards (and I made Sarah cry, but that is easy) so I think it went well. I figure I should post it, since I went to the trouble of typing it up (though I ad-libbed the actual one, for max flow):
Hello everyone. My name is Tom 7 and I've been honored with the duty of giving the "first toast." I don't know what that means, but I know that at the end I just need to say, "to Brian and Sarah," and then you guys clink your glasses and they kiss and you drink or clap and I raise my hands like this or whatever. But--wait--not yet. First, I want to tell you a Brian and Sarah story, and it's the story of how they started dating.

The story starts one summer a few years ago when Brian and Sarah and I and several other people who are here tonight were at a party, playing a game sort of like "truth or dare"--Sarah's invention, actually, where the truths or dares were written on little community chest cards like this (card). It came Sarah's turn and she was forced by the truth card to admit a crush on "someone in this room," and that turned out to be, of course, Brian. I'm really glad that this card came up, because compared to some of the dares in there, this was pretty much the best luck Brian and Sarah could have had.

Well, look, I'm just trying to book-end this story, so I don't want to go on about that party, but it's important to mention that at this point we came up with the idea of going on a road trip. The idea we invented was the "random road trip," where we would just hop in the car and drive with no particular destination in mind, with no potential for "are we there yet?" At the time I guess I supposed this was just one of those crazy party promises that would be forgotten by the next morning.

But in fact, after a long long night and a memorable walk--or--roll home, and then just a few hours of sleep, I got a call from Brian the next morning, proposing just such a random road trip. And despite how little sleep we all had, there was a certain vigorous excitement to his voice, and my friends know that I can never resist Brian's plans, and so we went: Brian and Sarah and Tom on a random road trip, which ultimately took us to Columbus Ohio.

Now what I didn't know at the time, and what is the reason that I am even telling this story at their wedding, is that in those few hours, I'm talkin' maybe five hours, between rolling home and leaving on the road trip, Brian and Sarah had decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend.

This random road trip that we went on was easily one of the most fun and most memorable weekends of my life. We played with glow-sticks, ate grits at a waffle house in the middle of the night, got kicked out of a Budweiser factory where we had discovered the most amazing device, which was a beer spigot in the sky like six feet in diameter, climbed on broken machinery at the fairgrounds, and a hundred other tiny things we'll never forget.

This whole random road trip they never let on that they were a new couple! Even when we stayed in this absolute horror show of a hotel room (according to one patron, "this place can get kinda 'off the hook' at night"), a double room, Brian was gentleman enough that he and I shared one bed, and Sarah the other!

In retrospect, it is obvious why this trip was so fun: I was witnessing a new couple's first day together, and that sense of excited wonderment, where everything, even Columbus Ohio, is interesting and beautiful. They've got a name for this: love! And I'm happy to say that it lasted, and that there's still a palpable sense of this joy whenever I spend time with them. Guys, this one was meant to be.

So, thank you for sharing the random road trip, and your first day, with me. (Don't worry, I won't ask to come on your honeymoon, too.)

So now that I've gotten choked up a bit, just enough to betray my manhood but not enough to, you know, get anything wet, I can say the stuff we talked about before that makes this a toast, and you know what to do:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. and Mrs. Brian and Sarah. To love!
Categories:  talks  favorites (6 comments)   [ comment ]
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Speaking Skillz (07 Oct 2005 at 15:25)
Turns out I have acceptable speaking skills. I passed the Speaking Skill Requirement today with this talk. Hooray! All that's left is a thesis proposal and a thesis.
Category:  talks (9 comments)   [ comment ]
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They have this new security thing where a grid of jets fires bursts of air at your body, a sort of ''puff'' test (22 Aug 2005 at 10:16)
Well, I made it! Due to a three-hour delay on my first flight, I missed my connection to London by a mere 5 minutes, so I had to take the next flight—twelve hours later. I ended up having to "sleep" in the airport, which is not awesome. All sorts of other things, like exploded watches, lost power adaptors, and ketchup spills, made for a somewhat exhausting trip. But Oxford itself is very nice. I need to buy an umbrella.

I gave my talk this morning, and though I wasn't able to make any of the last-minute revisions I had wanted to make (no power, after all), I still think the talk is good and that it went well. You can check out the slides (although you will have to do the voices for the animated featurette yourself): CS5-CSL23.SWF.

Most of the other talks are way out there. It is very weird to be the most implementation-oriented guy at the dinner table!

Category:  talks (9 comments — almost 8 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Some things. (19 Jul 2005 at 13:53)
Some things.

I gave a talk this afternoon about my research for the students and faculty of the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program. It's called What is modal logic and what is it good for? and it has a lot of nice animations in it.

I put up a web page for blam, which is that bioinformatics software I wrote, because Heather is using it in her paper. That web page has a plaid background.

I programmed in Java. It was not that bad. I was surprised to find that you can code up lexically-scoped closures (very verbosely) with anonymous inner classes. I knew that one could make anonymous inner classes, but did not appreciate the fact that they could capture local variables. I am making a little GUI application for Windows and Java seems to be the path of least resistance for this.

Now I am going to work on my thesis proposal.
Category:  talks (9 comments)   [ comment ]
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Talks (09 Dec 2004 at 14:32)
I made some talks this week. The first was for Dan Spoonhower's birthday (which was themed as an academic conference, sort of), called A Judgmental Reconstruction of Daniel Spoonhower. It is very short. The second, which has some cute animations, was for the computational biology class I sat in on this semester, and is called Visualizing Inversions with BLAM.
Category:  talks (3 comments)   [ comment ]
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Phew! (16 Jul 2004 at 08:18)
All right, this stressful week is nearing an end. I just gave my LICS talk, which went really well. It seemed to me that there were significantly more non-sleeping listeners than for most of the other talks I attended.

More importantly, I finished up my POPL submission, which advisor Bob calls "charming" and Karl "a thing of beauty." I'm glad to hear that, because this was painful to churn out. You can read the submission if you like that sort of thing.

The paper is about a sort of computational time travel interpreted spatially. This sounds pretty sci-fi if you don't really know the material! For the non-technical audience, here is a tale from the paper that describes the gist of what this language does:

A magician who purports to be from the future is making bold claims. Asking for a volunteer, he offers the following prize to anyone who comes on stage:

"Im going to hand you a box that has you inside it!"

"Either that, or I'll give you the address of a place with a magical time travelling portal."

Being questionably brave, you volunteer and walk onto the stage. The magician hands you your prize--a large cardboard box. Noting your skepticism, he adds, "You can open it anywhere, and you'll be inside."

You decide to take the box home. Its much too light to have anything in it, let alone yourself! You open the box and look inside, wondering what sort of gag he has planned. But suddenly you find that the box has disappeared, and you're standing on stage waiting for him to tell you what you've won, again.

"The address of the time-travelling portal is," he begins, rattling off your home address.

You are startled that he could have known your address, but when you later arrive home, you see an open cardboard box waiting. Is this supposed to be the portal? Knowing it to be harmless, but insisting upon proving the magician to be a fraud, you step into it.

A hot flash of embarassment passes over you as you realize that you are now standing in a cardboard box, in your house, as promised.
Category:  talks (7 comments)   [ comment ]
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DrScheme talk (14 Oct 2003 at 00:04)
Today I gave a talk in Bob's type refinements class about DrScheme, a teaching environment for scheme, and MrSpidey, its "static debugger." You can check out my talk, made again in Flash (I have given up on Powerpoint for good!), if only for the dancing spider animation at the end.
Category:  talks (5 comments)   [ comment ]
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UPD: Presentation (25 Aug 2003 at 20:20)
By the way, here's my presentation, in Flash, about my Hemlock compiler.
Category:  talks (1 comment)   [ comment ]
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