Things I don't remember while asleep:
  • the layout, location, architectural style, or current ambient temperature of my neighborhood
  • that Google Street View is not live
  • the chemical formula for ammonia
  • basic laboratory safety procedures
  • if my brother had a sister, she would not be my cousin
  • what Northrop Grumman does
Things I do remember while asleep:
  • I have a brother
  • my apartment is painted light green
Things I still don't remember:
  • what Northrop Grumman does

Edit: Whoops, forgot to post an utterly irrelevant image.

There, that's better.  The image is either a warning not to do drugs, or to pay attention in Trigonometry.

On being an unknownly poor typist

I was surprised to discover recently that my touch-typing is not as good as I thought.  My left hand is fine, but my right hand has awful form; it refuses to stay on the home row, especially when typing symbols.  This is a problem for someone who types a lot, so I'm practicing.

One of the programs I'm using is an old game called The Typing of the Dead.  Someone took a mediocre zombie shoot-em-up, modified it so that you have to type phrases to kill the zombies, and changed the 3D models slightly so that the protagonist wields a keyboard:

The result is a work of art.  Some games are immersive; Typing of the Dead is counter-immersive.  The protagonist uses precisely the same interface as the player to do combat.  Suddenly the hero's emotionless determination (I'd describe the voice acting as phoned-in, except that I've had interesting phone conversations before) to defeat the bad guy, whoever he is, makes sense: he, too, is playing a computer game!  The implausible and uninteresting undead hordes, the deaths of his co-workers, the wounds to the face when he types too slow — none of this has any effect on him, because he intends to finish the game and get a high score.  I've never felt so connected to a video game protagonist.

Also, sometimes the words you have to type are funny.

(This is crossposted at End of September.)

Proposed Constitutional Powers

Some people say that the problem with US politics is that our elected officials have too much power. The real problem is that they don't have the right ones. We should pass an Constitutional amendment granting the following additional powers:
  • President: flight
  • Vice President: regeneration
  • Senators: super strength
  • Representatives: turn into owls at will
  • Attorney General: heal others
  • Supreme Court Justices: slow down time
  • Governors: switch sex at will
  • Lieutenant Governors: super hearing
  • Mayors: can grow five stories tall
The senators shouldn't get too much super strength, only about enough to lift their desks over their heads one-handed. The ability to become owls will grant much-needed dignity and cuteness to our oft-overlooked representatives. If governors were to spontaneously switch sex whenever they got flustered, it would make the post-scandal press conferences a lot more interesting, but I can understand if they want that left out. And I think that the ability of the US president to fly was clearly the intention of the framers, even if they didn't spell it out explicitly

Also, here's what our apartment looks like from the street: 

I'm behind the leftmost window on the second floor right now.  *wave*

Looks like it's the end of September now.

Dan (othercriteria) and I have put together a little website for opinions and analysis and stuff.

The URL is, and it's done out in gray for maximum gravitas.  :-Þ
(Anna (pinkrhino), remember how you introduced me to Gentium? Guess what typeface the logo is in!)

They were doing some kind of construction to the Ruggles facade tonight:

From It's summer, and the shutter speed is high

Okay, I'll use any excuse to use "Ruggles" in conversation.  Ruggles!  I wonder if five-to-six years of using it will make me any less amused by its name.


Probably not.

So I'm a cyborg again.

Today was a big day.

Collapse )

From It's summer, and the shutter speed is high

The sign reads "Gentle Dental". It menaces with spikes of irony.1

Not only that, but I also received my first permanent2 artificial part today, a compensation for a slight lack of tooth. (The "again" part is that I've had fillings before, but only in my baby teeth.) The cyborgification procedure was almost completely painless, and lasted about five minutes, most of which seemed to consist of the dentist's assistant pointing a magic technological3 wand at my tooth and pressing a button, which is apparently how you tell nanobots "Sit! Stay!"

Actually, I have no idea what my new part is made of, which is a little unsettling. What is it? I don't even know whether it's inorganic or not. I wanted to ask the dentist, but I didn't want to waste time, a silly impulse caused by the fact that it was suddenly dark outside, this being approximately the autumnal equinox, when the days are getting shorter the fastest. I guess I'll ask them next time I visit, but I will have to live in mystery for the next six months. Not in Australia, sadly, as the equinox is the time where, in my dreams, I hop in a plane to go see the other hemisphere, where things are getting warmer and brighter right now.

I left the dentist's office with a tube of intensely-fluoridated toothpaste, intended to speed the chemical process that is already being performed by our water supply, making me think of Dr. Strangelove, perhaps because today, I learned that the Soviets did, in fact, have a doomsday device4. And they kept it a secret. Didn't they pay any attention to the movie?

1 This phrase makes sense if you've played Dwarf Fortress long enough to discover the dwarves's favorite form of decoration.

2 Technically, its expected lifetime is about seven years, after which it will need to be replaced. It's conceptually permanent, okay?

3 It turns out that you can distinguish technology from magic: technology has a blue LED ring around it.

4 Note: doomsday device may contain some small element of human-based failsafe.

6 That wasn't a footnote, you idiot! "R6RS" is an abbreviation for "Revised Revised Revised Revised Revised Revised Report on Scheme". Isn't programming languages awesome?

My new hobbies: high-concept hypothetical T-shirt design and standing up

So I hadn't had too many excuses to do graphics stuff recently. This has changed! I discovered shirt.woot, which holds weekly T-shirt design competitions. My entries haven't been really competitive, but they've been fun to make. Here's what I made for the topic "fake rock band":

The lyrics to the song he's playing go "RAAAAAAAaaaaAAAAaaaaaaaaAAR AIIIIIEEEEE GWAAAAARRAAAA".

I told Emily about the concept, and she suggested that I misspell "adequate". When I showed her the design, she pointed out that I already had. So I had to keep it that way...

And, for the topic "space", I revisted a concept I love, the relative scales of celestial objects:

(that's moon-earth, earth-Saturn, Saturn-Sun, Sun-subgiant star, subgiant star-giant star, etc. Note that the images shrink to nothing before they reach the largest stars, which have 2000 times the radius of the Sun (that's 8 billion times the Sun's volume))

This weekend I decided that using my laptop slouched over on the sofa is probably not a good idea in the long term. I've been looking into getting a desk, but my room is kinda small, so there's not really any place to put it.

So instead, I piled a bunch of books on my dresser (including my parents' theses; they've turned out to be useful after all. (Hi Mom and Dad! Aren't you glad you read my LJ?)). I stuck my laptop atop the pile, et voilà: instant standing desk. You know what I love about computers? The fact that I can use French words without having to pronounce them.

If I make it to the weekend without giving up, I'll get myself an antifatigue mat (a mildly bizarre concept, but supposedly they are pretty important), and start making plans for getting a more permanent desk surface. And, once I have a desktop, getting a desktop computer, since I'm still bending over to see phlegethon's screen, and it's also getting older and has a tendency to drag sometimes. Do I have 22 tabs open in Firefox right now? Stop distracting me with irrelevant questions!

Where was I? Shoot, I need to go to work!

Happy new year!

So, Emily and I went to visit New York City to visit Joanna for the new year.

We took a bus in. We actually missed two buses in the process, but they came frequently enough that we only left an hour late. It was a snowy day, and travel was slow. We were optimistic that our troubles were behind us:

From Even winterer

For the record, it's surprisingly hard to take a good picture holding the camera at arm's length, facing backwards. Also, I would like to remind everyone that I rarely micromanage poorly my facial expressions except when I'm being photographed.

...but then the bus started riding funny. And slowly. And then it turned around and limped to a rest stop...

So we were stuck in the rest stop. Fortunately, I had brought along my XO laptop, a deck of Set, a couple of books, and my camera. I took pictures of the kitsch they were selling in the Stucky's:

And we waited for a couple hours. And then we waited for an hour. And then we waited for another two hours. By the time we were on the road again, the sun had long set on 2008. Against all probability, though, we made it into New York City with a half hour left until midnight! So we got to experience a real New York City New Year's:

...on the subway. But our friends stayed up for us, and we had fun:

Disclaimer: this picture is actually from the following morning because it seems like I deleted most of the pictures from the previous night for being unconscionably blurry. Knowing me, that's pretty blurry.

And then it was time to go back! But that's alright. I'd accumulated about 656 million person-hours of city co-occupancy, which I'd need to spend 45 days in Boston to do. (or almost nine years in Williamstown!)

And then I failed to update my LJ for three and a half months. But now I have more excitement!

I found out that next fall, I will be entering the [deep breath for long phrase] Ph.D program at the Northeastern University College of Computer and Information Science.

It's actually the only place that I got into of the four I applied to (U Penn, Harvard, and MIT were the others), but that's just fine, because it's got everything: it's in the Boston area, it's got a great programming languages program (about half of the people there in computer science are PL, whereas most places just have a token PL representative or two), and I like the people. It's also got a nice view of the Green Line. Can't work somewhere without being able to stare out the window at the trains going by.

From Remember the economy?

It's the building in the background. Pretty, huh? It's sixteen stories tall, which is a power of two. Coincidence? I think not.

Happy Blog Like a Parody of Yourself Day!

Dan came up with a great idea for an Internet Holiday, and asked for someone with Internet cred to make it official. I don't have any, but let me scrounge around here...

Aha! A Google search for the phrase "Provisional King of the Internet" returns no hits, so, by virtue of having thought of it first, I declare myself to be the possessor of that title until such a time that a real King of the Internet comes along and receives a formal coronation. Furthermore, befitting my office, I assign myself a remuneration of cred, such as suits a person of my station.

Therefore, as Provisional King of the Internet, I hereby announce that, today, December 20th is

Blog Like a Parody of Yourself Day

Citizens of the Internet are encouraged to exaggerate, parody, and mock their own writing styles, dispositions, interests, and beliefs.

It should come as no surprise that this entry will contain some instances of disconnectedness. For example, "Paul Stansifer" is an anagram of

I went home for Thanksgiving. There was food, nice weather, and nine kids under the age of twelve.
From Thanksgiving


(note: no flan was actually present. But there were a number of super pies. And some super turkey. And some super five cup "salad". And some super mashed potatoes. And now I'm getting hungry. Fortunately, I'm flying back there for Christmas today.)

We found the best toy to entertain the kids, though. It's a set of wood blocks with grooves in them for marbles to roll through. The great thing about it is that (a) kids love to experiment with it, and (b) the blocks have to be precisely aligned in order to function, so they know they have to cooperate. Actually, it's just a fabulous toy. If they made marble-groove LEGO pieces, I might just have not come out of my room between ages 6 and 10.

From Thanksgiving


Also, I've been thinking about album art lately, and how, in certain genres of music that I don't need to name, album covers tend to be arbitrarily nonsensical. Anyways, I think that I have managed to come up with some designs that are sooo stupid that they aren't actually plausible album covers.

From Not album covers

From Not album covers

From Not album covers

(the duck is based on a photograph, but the cats are actually a drawing I made a long, long time ago)


I made more, but this is enough.

I submitted all of my grad school applications! No thanks to ETS, which thinks my name is "Paul Stanfer", which is absurd, because "Paul Stanfer" isn't an anagram of

...and that would be absurd.

Allison and Dan (visiting from Providence), and Christine and Emily and I went to the Bazaar Bizarre, which is a huge one-day crafts show.

From Oh, it's close enough to winter already.

Every crafts show needs a DJ.

I acquired a garment that I'm extremely proud of:

From Oh, it's close enough to winter already.

Thinking of clothing, "Paul Stansifer" is also an anagram of

That is all.

Falafel! Falafel!

So I got it in my head to make falafel.

This is part two in our ongoing series about oil, and its effect on modern Paul.

After church, I went to the co-op nearby that is for people who are too much hippies to shop at Whole Foods. I went to the spice aisle to stock up on parsley, because the amount of parsley required for falafel is measured in tablespoons. (I basically never measure spices, but "tablespoon" sounded kinda large, so I didn't want to mess it up.) Of course, I couldn't stop there, so I spent something like fifteen minutes mulling over the other different spices I could get. I can't wait until I am a spice-rack owning adult1. I also got plenty of chick peas, because I understand that they are important, in addition to delicious. And oil. You need oil to deep fry things.

1You think I'm joking, but I'm not going to consider myself an adult until I'm settled in one place enough to get a spice rack. This is more of a commitment than it sounds like, because, once you have a spice storage system set up, you're committed to going back to the same place and getting the same stuff if you need to expand it.

So I went home, reinvigorated the dried chick peas, cut up an onion (using the nice new mandoline I got, which, despite what it sounds like, you should not strum), gathered together the necessary spices, divvy the chick peas up into two classes and put class 1 into a blender.

It turns out that a blender is not the same thing as a food processor. I'll tell you how they differ. While both of them can be used to make food into a paste, the body of a food processor is wide enough that a paste cannot reasonably support the weight of other food. In a blender, it can, and the small quantity of paste produced will quickly form an impenetrable floor to spare its cousins from the same gruesome fate.

Actually, the wall is not entirely impenetrable. It will admit the passage of a wooden spoon one might accidentally be holding in the blender while it is in operation. (By the way, roommates, you may have had a little extra fiber today. Also, one of our wooden spoons has nicks in it now.)

If you ignore that I may have just given away its ending, I faced a serious dilemma. I had everything I needed to make falafel, but it had too much structural cohesion. Mashing with a fork and a hand blender didn't work very well, either. I was on the verge of angst. I'd never failed to make a food before. Sure, there had been some incidents, of varying levels of edibility and humor value, and I'd occasionally attempted to make one food and wound up making something else, but I'd never had to stop in the middle because I was stuck before. Then, fortunately, Alec came back from New York City.

Alec and I applied more elbow grease to deconstructing the mix, and decided that, if we set the class 2 chick peas to boil for longer to soften them up, they'd have the chance their siblings never knew. Meanwhile, even if they didn't stay together, we could at least give class 1 a chance to shine in the hot oil. It might turn out that, instead of falafel, we'd wind up with deep-fried salad, but I've eaten deep-fried cheese before, and I figured that this would be much the same, only healthier. Alec managed to get a ball of stuff together, and put it in the oil.

Success! The result was brown on the outside, soft on the inside, and tasted much like it was intended to. While I worked on putting class 2 through an accelerated program, Alec went out to buy tahini sauce (I realized before the start of this project we didn't have anything to serve falafel with, but — shoot, the rice. I forgot about the rice.

Well, if you ignore a pot of rice for too long, you get something carbonized and smelling strangely of popcorn, but not as good, and harder to clean from your pot. If you ignore a rice cooker for too long, you get cold steamed rice. That is a wonderful thing about rice cookers. I hope no one minds that I just stuck the rice cooker's pan in the fridge, but I don't think anyone will need to use the pan for any other purpose. Now where was I? Right, in a parenthetical.) That's better. Alec went out to buy tahini sauce, Sarah got some lettuce and cut up a tomato, and I deep-fried individual chick peas (delicious, BTW) while I waited for Alec to return. Before long, we had a lot falafel of two distinct quality grades, and I had a sense of accomplishment. We did not burn down the house.

Now, I'm pretty proud of this, but falafel, in places where it is traditional, is traditionally fast food, so what I've done is approximately the moral equivalent of making freedom fries. Oh, right, I should put up a picture of the falafel:

Awwww, what a cute falafel!

  • I went sailing on a schooner on Friday, for a release party at work. This is the version of our software that we've been working on since well before I started working there. I wore a pirate hat. Yay!

  • I discovered that you shouldn't turn on the heat in your apartment for the first time since winter and then sit where it can blow dust in your eyes. On the other hand, you should turn on the heat in your apartment for the first time since winter, because, dude, it's getting kinda cold.

  • I now have a friend who has a tattoo. No wait, I have a friend who now has a tattoo. The latter is not exactly the same as the former, though technically, they're both true.

Incidentally, in the interest of intellectual honesty, most of this was written yesterday. There have been no falafel-related incidents today, and I did not forget about the rice for over twenty four hours.