December 23, 2011

For All I Know They Ended Up In Hornell

My sister's house is on the top of a hill. This makes sledding very impressive.

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December 19, 2011

Email and Wash My Hands of It

Whew, just submitted the last paper of the semester, a full half-hour before the deadline. Tomorrow I pack, bake cookies and mail them to Afghanistan, wrap presents, take my girlfriend out to dinner, then drive to the ancestral homeland to see my sisters and their families. Busy busy busy.

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December 13, 2011

A Slight Flaw Has Been Detected

Right in the middle of finals week, the substation that powers my university's main campus shut down for two hours. (Cause as yet unknown, my money's on "suicidal squirrel"). I'm signed up to a system where the university can send out emergency alert text messages. But the text about the power outage didn't arrive until the power had been restored! According to someone that knows, the problem is that the emergency alert system is run by a computer on campus. Sensibly, that computer has a UPS to keep it going without power. But, the sequence of routers through which the computer communicates requires external power. Whoops!

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December 12, 2011

Continuity Error... IN MY FAVOR

I might be about to get a degree, accidentally. My MA project is not yet complete, although my classwork is. (Or will be, when I turn in all my term papers. Unlike a cousin who will not be named.)

But I'm on a list to graduate in early February. My hypothesis is as follows: My MA adviser is also the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies, and is fighting a losing battle with paperwork. As I'm a good student, she might have just signed off some paperwork with my name on it without thoroughly reading.

Even though I'm on the list, I sent an email to the graduate secretary pointing out the error and told my adviser too. Also, there are a couple of layers of auditing before any sheepskins are mailed. So this might be nothing. But if I get awarded a degree without completing the work, I'll be quite embarrassed. I will be completing the project regardless, because I don't intend to cheat myself, and claiming a degree that I did not earn is fraud, even if the granting institution thinks I deserved it. I also don't think I'd get very good letters of recommendation if I received a degree incorrectly and just kind of quietly slunk away. Plus, at any future date an audit might discover the mistake and retract the diploma, to everyone's embarrassment.

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For your amusement, an award-winning short film:

While there are old books that refer to this kind of instrument, in my professional judgement (hah!) it is unlikely that any actual instruments were used;* the function of their putative existence was to insult the musical traditions of a rival culture, or to provoke horrified amusement in the reader.

* It is possible that some examples were constructed, to be installed into a cabinet of curiosities. This was the time when nobles had fake ruins constructed to make their estates more picaresque, after all.

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December 09, 2011


I gave blood earlier this week. That's not such a big thing, I realize. But it was the first time I've donated since 2003, I think. The problem was my time in the Corps included stints in places with endemic mosquito-borne diseases. Before taking my blood, the experts wanted to ensure that if I'd picked up any nasty viruses, bacteria, or parasites, they would have either showed themselves or been destroyed by my immune system. That requires waiting several years.

As always, the most painful part of the process is when they rip the tape off my hairy arms near the end. I don't mind the needle stick, it's that tape coming off that hurts so much.

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December 03, 2011

Movie Time!

My roommate is currently eating dinner with a girl on our kitchen table, while a friend films them both. It's part of the filming friend's class project. Now I feel terrible about how messy the kitchen is. I've got stuff just sitting on that table! The floor needs waxed! And the slovenly state of my quarters is being preserved on film forever! AAAAAGH!

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