Second Edition

Posted January 29, 1999 at 1:53 am | No Comments

qnps.jpg (25584 bytes)
Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and
Applications, First Edition.

The other day I was thinking that it might be fun to take the quantum mechanics course offered at CMU.  It’s not that I really like quantum mechanics, it’s just that I think that I’d enjoy carrying the book around.  Just look at that book: anyone who is carrying it is absolutely guaranteed to look extremely intelligent.I suppose that I could borrow Casey’s copy and walk around displaying it prominently, but then I would feel like I was living in a lie.  And if anyone asked me complicated questions about particle physics I wouldn’t know any of the answers.  Not that they would know the answers either, but still… it just doesn’t seem right.

olddisks.jpg (15689 bytes)
This disk came in the back
of Casey’s textbook.

I changed my mind when I saw the new edition.  In an apparent effort to sell more copies, an advertisement on the front cover announces a free disk of pornographic images included with the book.  I suppose that Dr. McGervey reasoned that he was making quantum mechanics more accessible to the masses.  The problem is that now instead of screaming of intelligence, the cover screams of indecency.  Too bad.

qps.jpg (26387 bytes)
Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and
Applications, Second Edition.

newdisks.jpg (17417 bytes)
This disk came in the back
of Brendan’s textbook.

A Rough Week

Posted January 27, 1999 at 1:52 am | No Comments

Man, this last week has been a drag.  It seems like everything has been going wrong lately.  What do I mean?

  • Python 1.4 blows.  There’s a bug in the urllib module.  So the nifty little bit (well, nifty two hours) of coding I did was for naught, at least until the dudes at “Elite Servers” get off their asses and upgrade Python to version 1.5.1.  They’re not very 3l33t at all if you ask me.
  • Combinator parsing really blows.  I can’t seem to get started on this stupid Programming Languages assignment.  It would be easy if I could get past the first 10 percent.  But instead I just drink Gatorade and worry.

gatorade.jpg (15980 bytes)
One afternoon worth of
Gatorade consumption.
I’m not even fucking kidding.

  • I have a cold.  I missed all the parties this weekend and spent the whole time sleeping.  My cold isn’t as bad now, but it has this bizarre and extremely annoying side effect where I’m really really thirsty all the time, even if I drink so much Gatorade that I can’t fit any more into my stomach.

  • I’m a bad plumber.  Erin and Emily’s drain was clogged, so I went over there to try to fix it.  “What did you put in the garbage disposal?”   I ask.  “Well,” they say, “we put some garlic in there, I think.  Some chocolate too.”  I put a bucket under the pipes and start to loosen a fitting.  Pow!  Garlicky-chocolate water spews at high pressure all over my pants.  Finally I remove the pipe, reach in and pull out all of these disgusting wormy chopped-up pasta fragments covered in garlicky chocolate.  I put the pipe back on, but then notice that it was so corroded that it now has a giant gaping hole in it.  Now the drain is no longer clogged, but any water that goes down the drain shoots out into the cabinet.  Yay.

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Boo hoo.  Empty.

  • I’m all out of marshmallow fluff.  Now what can I dip my graham crackers into?  Water?  Gatorade?

  • This update sucks.  But I decided that I’ve been focusing too much on quality lately, and not enough on quantity.  When I first started this web page I would just spew whatever crap was in my head at the time.  Then I started putting a little more time and energy and thought into my updates, but doing them less often.  I think I’ll return to a policy of mixing some crappy updates in with the good ones, so that people will lower their expectations and the good updates will seem all that much better.
  • Wesley Willis wasn’t home.  If you do a telephone number lookup on “Wesley Willis” in Chicago, there’s only one guy.  Lisa and I figured it must be him.   So we called his house, but nobody answered.  It would have been nice if he had at least had a cool answering machine message (e.g. “LEAVE A MESSAGE!  LEAVE A MESSAGE!  LEAVE A MESSAGE!”) but no such luck.  I guess we could try again another time.


Posted January 20, 1999 at 1:51 am | 2 Comments

When I was home for winter break, Paulajean bought this music trivia game called SongBurst at a garage sale for 50 cents. It consisted of a series of cards printed with song excerpts. One player would read a song fragment from a card, and the other players would attempt to fill in the missing lyrics. A round of the game would typically proceed as follows:

Paula (reading from card):
I’m a walkin’ in the rain,
Tears are fallin’ and I feel a pain,
A wishin’ you were were here by me…

I love you, can’t you see?

We would sip some fine Chablis?

I wanna fuck you silly?

Nope, here it says “to end this misery.” You were kind of close though.

You see, the problem with SongBurst was that all of the songs were pop tunes from the 1950s, so none of us knew any of the words. We could try to guess, but it became frustrating after awhile.

Alanna (reading from card):
And then he swung from the tree and he sat on the ground,
He started to rock, really rockin’ around,
It was a crazy ditty with a swingin’ tune…

I think it was in May, or maybe in June?

Then he started dancing like a drunken baboon?

I wanna fuck you stupid?

Um, nope. Apparently the answer is “Sing a boop boop aboopa lopa lum bam boom.”

“A boop boop aboopa lopa lum bam boom”? How the fuck were we supposed to know that?

SongBurst wasn’t a bad idea; it just needed to be updated for our generation. After all, we’re a lot more familiar with “Gimme Dat Nut” by Eazy E than with “Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley. Just for fun, I’ve created a little sample of a modernized SongBurst game that you can try.

Type in the next word to each of these songs. Click “Submit” to check your answers.

  • Can I get a
  • [ How ya livin’ Biggie Smalls? ] In mansion and Benz’s,
    Givin’ ends to my friends and it feels stupendous;
    Tremendous cream,
  • Dog, I knew they were scareless,
    ‘Cause my brother Snoop told us,
  • I’m not a player I just
  • Fully equipped, you know we come wit’ all the supplies,
    Got a big gun, and I’m a show you the size.
  • I guess my middle name must be
  • So DJ make it last,
    Let me work this big old ass right now,
    I wanna

Culinary Explorations

Posted January 17, 1999 at 1:50 am | 1 Comment

pudding.jpg (19773 bytes)
Plum pudding, a sumptuous
British holiday specialty.

Plum pudding is a classic British delicacy that became popular during the Victorian era.  Traditionally a Christmas dessert, it is composed of beef suet, dried currants, raisins, almonds and spices.  After being boiled or steamed on Christmas morning, plum pudding is typically presented with great ceremony at the Christmas feast.  Before being brought to the table, the pudding is sprinkled generously with brandy and set aflame.

I can’t say that I much care for the taste of plum pudding, but I can’t argue with its manner of presentation.  What better way to serve a food than enveloped in a ball of flame?  It recently occurred to me that this preparation method could be applied to many other foods as well.  Yesterday evening, calling some friends to my aid, I headed to the lounge for a session of culinary experimentation.

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Papa John’s Hawaiian pizza, doused with brandy and ignited.

Pizza may not be sophisticated cuisine, but it doesn’t have to be plebian either.   Just as Wolfgang Puck transformed pizza in the eighties, my friends and I have brought pizza to a new level for the nineties.  With dazzling orange flames, this pizza calls attention to itself.  The extravagant addition of  Mr. Boston blackberry flavored brandy gives the pizza a powerful olfactory allure, and the unique flavor combination of ham, pineapple, and blackberries is truly a gastronomic sensation.   After being flambéed, the cheese had a velvety richness that was positively sensuous.  The procedure also lent the pizza crust a pleasantly crunchy texture, in contrast to its original doughiness.

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Fruit Roll-Up Flambée.

Fruit Roll-Ups are typically frowned upon in gourmet circles and dismissed as a children’s snack.  However, a little bit of creativity can rescue these tasty treats from the obscurity of lunch boxes and vending machines, elevating them to the forefront of haute cuisine.  This Fruit Roll-Up Flambée boasted a delightfully tangy fruitiness and slid across the palate in a fashion that was almost sinfully smooth.   Its heady, far-reaching aroma called to mind a blend of flowery tones and pure, simple sugar, and its melting internal sweetness was balanced perfectly by the slight bitterness of its outer layer, roasted to a dark char.

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Double-cooked mesquite-chive potato chips.

Cut thin and fried to a golden crisp, potato chips are a classic American foodstuff enjoyed by epicures and commoners alike.  Dusted with a sour cream and chive flavoring, then topped liberally with blackberry brandy and lit on fire, these chips put forth a charming display of leaping yellow flames.  We found these fried and roasted chips to be incredibly delicious: medium-thick, wickedly crisp, and with a clean, buttery savor.

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La pizza de mûre rôtie avec fruit enroulé flambée
aux pommes de terre brûlées.

We didn’t try preparing any other dishes, but the possibilities are virtually endless!   Try creating your own culinary masterpieces at home, or for an out-of-this-world taste sensation, try combining the dishes suggested above into a multi-course meal fit for a king!

Female Pop Stars

Posted January 14, 1999 at 1:50 am | No Comments

Sometimes I’m listening to the radio with my friends and we find ourselves having a conversation like this:

Dammit, I am SO SICK of this STUPID Fiona Apple song.

Isn’t this song by Natalie Imbruglia?  Fiona Apple was the one with that annoying “Who Will Save Your Soul” song.

No, dumbass, that was Tori Amos.  This one is Natalie Merchant.  Or maybe Alanis Morissette.  Or was it Meredith Brooks?  Shit.

Does this ever happen to you?  Maybe it’s just me, but all of the female pop singers seem to blend together.  Melissa Etheridge?  Jewel?  Bjork?  Joan Osborne?   Ani DiFranco?   They’re all the same to me.  But for those of you who faithfully attend the Lilith Fair, I’ve built the Female Pop Star Mix ‘n Match Extravaganza, an awesome game you just have to try.  Here’s how it works:

  • You will be presented with a table of entries.  Each row of the table contains the name of an artist, a picture of an artist, and a hit song.
  • The table contains only one row with a completely matching triplet.  Find this row and click the corresponding radio button.  Then click the button at the bottom of the page to submit your answer.
  • If you succeed, your score will increase by one.  If you fail, your score will reset to zero.
  • Reach a score ten to enter your name in the winner list!

Sound good?  Click HERE to begin.

A Daring Rescue

Posted January 12, 1999 at 1:50 am | No Comments

News flash! This just in:

PITTSBURGH, PA — Near-tragedy turned to joy Monday, when thousands of residents of a college dormitory were rescued from a fiery blaze by Adam Berson, a resident student. The fire, believed to have started when a cigarette was tossed carelessly into a trash receptacle, threatened to consume the building and the thousands of students within it.

Berson, watching television in the room next door with his friends, smelled something burning and noticed smoke wafting under the door of the neighboring room. “I picked up the awful odor of burning plastic and I figured that something was wrong,” the 19-year-old electrical engineering student told reporters. “Then we heard the fire alarm. Monzy opened the door and said ‘Holy shit, there’s a fire in here!’ That’s when I knew it was time to act.”Acting on the skills he had developed during his years of training as an emergency medical response technician, Berson manned a fire extinguisher and bravely approached the fiery blaze. “I could hardly breathe through the dense cloud of acrid smoke,” Berson recounted, “but I pointed the fire extinguisher at that burning wastebasket and POW! I guess I showed that fire who was boss.” Berson and his friends were then forced to evacuate the area to avoid any further inhalation of the poisonous plastic fumes.

firefighter.jpg (13109 bytes)
Actual unretouched photo
of Adam Berson fighting the Morewood fire of ’99.

“It was awesome,” exclaimed Ethan Bold, a sophomore CS major. “I was just chilling in Scott’s room and playing some Minesweeper when all of a sudden we were like, ‘What the hell is that nasty burning smell?’ Luckily Adam knew exactly what to do. He’s the man.”

“I guess you could say that Adam really inspired us all,” remarked Scott Wen, one of Berson’s classmates. “If he hadn’t been there, shit, I bet my room would have burned down too!”

Berson remains modest in the face of so many tributes. “It was a team effort, really,” he explained, “and without Brendan to kick open the glass on the fire extinguisher case and Monzy to kick open the door, it wouldn’t have been so easy to rescue the dorm from a fiery death.” Nevertheless, Carnegie Mellon University owes Berson an enormous debt of gratitude, so make sure that the letters of thanks keep pouring in to this address.

Setting Realistic Goals

Posted January 10, 1999 at 1:49 am | No Comments

The end of winter break is kind of a drag sometimes.  Forcing myself back into the daily grind isn’t so bad; what gets to me is the disappointment of the typical post-break assessment, a mental process that I go through after every vacation.   “Winter break has ended,” I find myself thinking, “and what do I have to show for it?”  The key to avoiding depression lies in realizing that although I may not have accomplished my original goals, I found and satisfied new goals of equal importance.  For example:

What I Planned To Do Over Winter Break What I Actually Did
cross-country ski go sledding
read The Grapes of Wrath read Maxim
learn to program in Java drink coffee
practice flute learn lyrics to Beastie Boys raps
work out at gym get really good at Taboo
cook dinner for my parents sleep
update sleep

As you can see, a little bit of creative spin goes a long way toward transforming three weeks of laziness into a highly productive winter break.  Naturally, it would have been better to have started out my break with the goals in the right-hand column, but it’s not easy to have that much foresight.  This semester, I’ve tried to modify my objectives so as to avoid the necessity of future goal reassessment:

Original Goal For New Semester Modified Goal
study statistics update
French homework meet chicks
write packet sniffer drink coffee
sleep update
Pittsburgh Marathon jello shots

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