Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to the Glory Days

I have two announcements:

1) I have glasses. Apparently they make me look like a reformed Ska listener according to Barney.

2) I am letting my hair grow out. I hope to achieve a haircut similar to the glory days of yore.

And yes, this picture was originally greyscale until I colored it in my CS100 class.

On an unrelated note, I've noticed something. Well, let me preface my observation with a story. A couple of weeks ago Perris asked me if I wanted to hike Timp with him. Hiking Timp is one of those things that I want to do at least once, like a marathon, so I told him yes. So we embarked on the journey with his friend, who is a Native American and ironically (just wait, you'll see it) touted the fact that we were in good hands traveling with him. We left at 1AM. We started hiking about 1:30AM. And from 1:30AM to about 3:30AM we hiked in the completely wrong direction, probably a good 90 degrees off. And you guessed it, from 3:30AM to 5:30AM we hiked back to the car, at which point we admitted defeat and went home, getting to bed a little after 6:00AM.

Anyway, on our trip, while we were at the store and driving around at 1:30AM, we kept seeing other people out at that hour. And it was interesting, because it was our first inclination to judge them. In fact, we often said thing similar to, "What the heck are these people doing out at this time. They should be in bed. Sheesh." I'm not sure why, but we were excused, because we were on a mission? So, this morning when I woke up at 6:00AM, only 4.75 hours after going to bed, and saw Josh and Seth up, I judged them. In fact, I think it is safe to say that we judged all around. I am sure we all were thinking things such as, "What the...? Why in the world are you guys up at this time. Go to bed." Anyway, I am sure there is some lesson to learn from this. Something like... don't be up at odd hours?

And another story. Yesterday, my former roommate whom I will call... Leroy, gave me too much credit. I was thinking about asking this girl out that has been sometimes known to be at our apartment. He seemed to know her fairly well, so I decided to ask him his advice. Well, I called Leroy, and asked him what he thought. Then ensued a semi-awkward conversation as he explained that the reason he seemed to know her fairly well, well... it was intentional. They had gone out the week before. So I apologized for putting him in a situation involving a conflict of interest. And then later I got her number from someone else and asked her out. An hour after doing so he called me to thank me:

Leroy: I wanted to thank you for calling me. I thought that was very thoughtful of you.

Me: Oh, don't get me wrong. That wasn't thoughtfulness. You give me too much credit. I was just asking you because you seemed to know her fairly well. Sorry.

Leroy: Oh... Well... If you wanted to take her out... go ahead...

Then later in the conversation he told me that he was actually with said girl when I called her but started talking to someone else so he didn't catch why I was calling. At that point I told him that that, in fact, was one of my reasons for calling her, to ask her out. So in conclusion... I guess it is good to be honest with people. Perhaps I should feel bad for my apparent lack of thoughtfulness? I'm also not sure if I was being entrapped. Anyway, I guess it is a good thing he isn't my roommate anymore?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How would you feel if someone called you subprime?

I don't know much about economics. These are my thoughts briefly:

Lately I have been seeing the merit in letting the free market run its course with the current economic crisis rather than bailing out the banks who made unwise lending decisions.

I find myself fortunate in that I feel that of all demographic groups in the US, I feel very minimally impacted by the current economic situation.

I think the debate should go on this Friday.

Everyone alive should listen to This American Life's episode on the current crisis. It is gripping, and that is saying a lot for a story on economics. It is an hour, but completely worth it. Check out The Giant Pool of Money.

And that's it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The post that resembles that drawer in your house that you put stuff in when you don't know where else it goes

Well, I'm not exactly sure what to write about, but I feel like I should because I haven't written in a while, and also because my friend Cindy let me know that her sister Amy apparently reads some of her friends' blogs, including mine. So I thought of her, and the many unnamed readers that I may have but not be aware of and I dunno, it gave me a drive to post again.

Or maybe I am just in the HBLL procrastinating school work. Which I have something to say about actually. I don't have any classes tomorrow, and so the next work I would be working on wouldn't be due until Thursday. As you could guess, I have surprisingly little motivation to get cracking on it now, on Monday. In fact, there is a logarithmic relation at work here. Let me try to outline it in a graph... (I hope it is better than the last visual aide I created for this site. I believe that was a Venn Diagram comparing Eric Badger and I).


So, as we see in the above graph, when the next thing you have to do isn't due for a while, it is easy to get distracted doing things like making blog posts about the phenomenon describing the inability to get too far ahead. It actually is quite an oppressive system that makes it hard to break free from the present.

Now that I've wasted a good half an hour making a simple graph... I need to find other things to blog about.

Oh, today some girl held the door for me on campus. Not just popped it open after she was through, she opened it and let me through and then went through after. I don't know why, but it was a really nice thing to do.

The other day I was thinking that it would be sweet to start all your discussions with some 'buzz phrase' like "How 'bout the gas prices???" Or now since gas dropped a bit, it could be like "How 'bout that fed bailout???" or "How 'bout that hurricane Ike???" It is kinda flexible, but there are some rules:
- The phrase must start with "How 'bout..." and then be followed by something buzz-worthy
- It's all or nothing, every conversation has to start with the aforementioned phrase
- You have to pick just one phrase. I don't care if you talk to Suzie 5 times that day, every conversation must be started with "How 'bout those Cougs and their shutouts???"
I've never really tried it, but I've thought about trying it.

Currently I am listening to unsigned rap artists on iLike. I was actually about to go on my usual "What the heck does that 'i' before everything mean?" stint, but then I realized that this time it actually makes sense. Anyway, if the site name changed according to my actual feelings, it would be called iAmIndifferent right now. This song's only so-so.

I'm thinking about buying a MacBook because I am pretty sick of Windows. However, I am not sure if I can justify buying a new laptop right now. Your justifications would be appreciated in the comments.

The other day I was in the periodicals and they had their little whiteboard all doodled up. It said "Make a play in the periodicals" and had a diagram of a fake football play. But I was thinking, the sign would be a lot funnier (not sure if that is what they were going for, but certainly an option) if it said "Make a pass in the periodicals" and then had a fake diagram of a play. But only this time it could be a passing play. Well, at least I would have enjoyed the sign a lot more.

Today I saw someone carrying a full-size upright bass in campus. Not rolling it, carrying it. I looked at him and thought to myself "That is why I don't play the bass." Then I realized that there are probably a few other reasons that I don't play the bass, but certainly that plays a huge factor in it.

Last Friday was odd. I found myself at the dental clinic again and realized that 5 weeks before I had been broken up with on a Thursday night, went to the clinic the next day, did extractions, and got a small drop of blood on my jeans. Well, there I was, I'd been broken up with again the night before, I was at the clinic, we were doing extractions, and I looked down at my jeans only to see the faded drop of blood. It just seemed a little weird.

I think at one point I made a post of unethical schemes such as getting free postage by putting your name as the address, and the person you want to receive the letter as the return address and then failing to put a stamp on the letter. Anyway, I thought of another scheme to get free food that would make the list: Just go up to J-Dawgs and get in the right line instead of the left. It would be as simple as that. Free AND Faster.

Yesterday at church, my friend Jake Rees and I saw a poster for the BYU EcoResponse team. The poster talked about how we can be gentler on the earth, grow our own food, etc. But the most intriguing point the poster offered was this "Find our how to forage edible food on BYU's campus." We thought this was intriguing, and so we sent the following email:
Eco Response Team:

We are BYU students, and have had minimal success foraging on/off campus. We tried one tree that looked like fruit, but got real sick. Stay away from those little things that look like blue berries-they actually taste like sadness, and our stomachs agree. Any help would be much appreciated. We saw your flier, and were hoping for a map of all the edible shrubbery on campus. Anything off-campus would be a happy bonus. The faster you respond, the sooner we can eat. Thank goodness last week was fast sunday.

Sincerely,

Two aspiring foragers,

Gabe Proulx
Jake Rees

They responded. We were told that last week alone there were 2 guided tours on campus of edible foods. I wouldn't have guessed. This group seems very interesting though. In fact, I may just go to their next meeting.

On that note, I should probably actually do some work. But there is one more thing I have been thinking about changing when I post. Maybe to get more comments and reader feedback I should end posts with a question. Well, here is today's.

How 'bout that large hadron collider ending the world??? (PS. It really hasn't. Want to know how I know. Oh... simple. Just check out www.hastheLHCdestroyedtheearth.com. They also have an RSS feed for you guys that don't want to check it every day.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics

This will be short since I really should be doing schoolwork. But I wanted to respond to Keith's recent post which was in response to Diane's recent post about politics. Keith said:

The liberal/conservative battle comes down to this: liberals value equality at the expense of freedom, and conservatives value freedom at the expense of equality. When it comes to those two, it's pretty clear that Mormonism values freedom above all else (Christ vs. Lucifer being the most charged example of this conflict), so that's one reason many people, especially in the church, speak of liberals in such negative terms.


While I think that may at one time have been an adequate simplification, I believe things are now more complex. The notable exceptions I am thinking about are issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and civil liberties in regards to national security. These are issues in which a more conservative view would seem to curtail freedoms, such as the freedom to marry whoever one wants regardless of sex, or the freedom to abort a pregnancy, or the freedom to make calls without the NSA listening in. Now I'm not saying that all those previously mentioned freedoms are good or should be granted, nonetheless they are freedoms.

Perhaps a better, or at least a different, way of defining the political spectrum is as follows. There are number of different areas in which politics regard, such as moral/social issues (abortion, gay marriage, religion), economic issues (policy, taxes, welfare), environmental issues (conservation, fossil fuel exploration, global warming), and educational issues (vouchers, funding, educational grants). There are also a general mindset or strategy in which to handle these issues. At risk of oversimplifying, let's say there are two. One is to have faith in the free market (and I'm not talking in the strictly economic sense here) and allow these issues to handle themselves. The other distrusts the free market and feels that these issues will not respond well unless we regulate them through government.

It's easy to at first say that the free market is championed by conservatives and regulation by liberals, and maybe there is truth to conservatives having a more friendly view of the free market, but I think it depends on the issue. While conservatives often advocate severely limiting or lifting government regulation when it comes to issues such as the environment, education, and economy, on the other hand they often advocate much regulation in the moral/social sector. The thought is that the environment can handle itself since it's already lasted this long, education would be better refined under the competitive pressures of the free market, and the economy is most efficient when generally deregulated. Social issues, however, should be regulated to preserve the morals of society.

Liberals on the other hand strongly push for deregulation in the moral/social sector, but feel that the environment, education, and economy require such regulation. The idea being that as persons it is our right to make our own moral and social decisions, which are largely viewed as only, or at least mostly, affecting ourselves. But there is a general distrust in the ability of the free market to preserve equality when it comes to the other issues. They fear that the almighty dollar does not care whether the environment is around for our children, whether quality education is available to all, and whether all have equal access to our inalienable rights.

So, while equality is certainly a crucial issue in defining the political spectrum, I feel like the dichotomy is more complex than Keith presented. However, to be fair, it is also much more complex than presented here. I have probably only jumped a level of complexity, still leaving many of the intricacies unaddressed. Comments? Who's next?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Palin's Speech

I used to think that McCain wouldn't be a bad choice for President. He wouldn't be my first choice, but as a democrat, I thought he seemed fairly mature, progressive, and above the dirty politics of the past.

I just finished watching Governor Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention. It was very disappointing to see that there was little substance in her remarks beyond attacking Obama's resume as a community organizer, repeating trite maxims such as those relying on the reversal of word order ("While some men use change to promote their careers, others, like John McCain, use their careers to promote change"), an overall collection of negative remarks, and a few more statements calculated to mention various buzzwords.

So, while I used to feel that McCain was beyond much of partisan politics (judging from his bipartisan work in the senate), beyond nasty rhetorical attacks (judging from his straight-talk motto), and more mature (judging from his resume as a seasoned senator and prisoner of war), unfortunately I now have to revise my former sentiments.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Laziness Discovered

I decided to get a CS minor because as a Bioinformatics major you are only lacking 3 credits. The thing is, after taking CS142, CS235, CS236, and CS240 (all programming classes), you have the option of what those last three credits can be. Your options range from CS100 - Fundamentals of Computing, to some much more difficult classes. Last summer I was faced with the dilemma of choosing between the easy way out, or learning for the intrinsic value of learning. I chose the easy way out and took CS100.

I was already feeling a little guilty talking a 100 number (not just 100 level, but actually a 100 course) class in a subject I feel rather proficient in, especially as a senior. I felt more guilty when I walked into the class and noticed that there were actually girls in the class. Girls! In CS class? I felt out of place.

But to top if all off, I finally noticed who my teacher is. It just happens to be the same teacher I had for CS236, by far my most difficult CS class to date. So I slouched down in the back row, hoping the teacher wouldn't recognize me.

I'm not sure exactly what scares me. I think it might be this though... All through High School and College I felt like I have been playing the educational game. I've crammed for almost every test I have taken, often in the halls of the testing center itself. I've switched class sections to another teacher after showing up for the first day if the workload seems unnecessary. I've emailed teachers and asked them to recalculate my grade if by my calculations I deserved a higher letter grade on my report card (and it worked). I guess I just feel like I've learned to work the system to get good grades. Maybe this is all normal and everyone does it. But I feel like this decision to take CS100, not to learn but to fulfill a requirement in the easiest way, is a very visible decision. I guess I am nervous that a teacher is going to see through my actions and call me on it. And maybe something seems inherently wrong about selling out and taking the cake class when I should be here to learn.

Oh well. I'll enjoy making my Excel files, editing sound files, tinkering in Photoshop, and making a website about my family. I've got bigger fish to fry this semester.

High Stakes 'The Claw'



I'm not exactly sure what this machine does... nor do I want to find out. I mean, what kind of "risk" are we talking about here?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lord of the Sunglasses

So I had another weird dream last night.

I somehow had gotten my hands on a pair of sunglasses that I believe people thought had gone missing in a plain crash. Anyway, I didn't think much of them until people started making a big deal of them. I found out there were three sunglasses in this set. The first two fit together like a puzzle piece and the last one you just had to wear over the first two. Apparently something happened if you collected all three. So, more out of curiosity spawned by others, I decided to look for the others.

I did some searching and found the second pair. Someone had been wearing them and so I just forcibly took them from them. They were a little upset but really there wasn't anything they could do about it.

So now I just had to find the last pair. My sources told me they were worn by a second grader. The thing was, when this second grader wore them he could see like they were normal glasses, but when he took them off, his eyes grew all black and he couldn't. Sometimes it was just his eyeballs that got black, other times it was his whole eye sockets.

Well, I tracked down this kid, I believe with the help of his sister. We went to his school and walked into his class. I took his glasses. I think I may have felt a little bad about taking something from a second grader, especially taking his sight, but I got over that when I saw how creepy the kid was with black eyes. He also had this metal skewer thing (like you use for fondue) coming out of his head. I remember thinking that I should pull it out, maybe that's what is impairing his vision, but I thought that it would be too risky if anything went wrong. So as I said, I took the little kid's glasses, he got all upset and creepy with his eyes going black. He followed me around a bit and threatened me that he was going to haunt me and stuff. In fact I transported to a couple locations and he followed me for a while but... there is only so much a creepy little blind kid with a skewer in his head can do before you lose him.

So I had all three glasses. I was wearing them now. Apparently I was supposed to have some special powers, but they also were going to corrupt me. But really, they weren't that great and I didn't mind parting with them. I realized they were pretty analogous to the ring in Lord of the Rings, so I decided Gandalf would be the one to talk to. I looked him up in the teleportation directory and teleported to where he was, but then I realized Sauron was keeping him captive and it was pretty messy. Anyway, I saw him but I just didn't want to get involved with the whole thing and so I flew away. I guess I figured the wizard could fend for himself.

The next best person I could talk to was the Elders Quorum President of all Middle Earth, who was apparently Perris, a friend who had just moved out of my ward. So I catch up with him and we go for a fly. I kept thinking, "Man, we are not high enough. Everyone is probably eavesdropping." Perris had already had his hands full dealing with the real ring and trying to orchestrate Frodo's disposal of it. I felt sort of bad telling him, since I know Elders Quorum President's have a lot on their plate, but I remember saying, "Yeah, well... there is another problem. These sunglasses I've been wearing, they kinda do the same thing. But don't worry, I'll take care of it."

So my next stop, after a short visit to a metal reclamation site, was Mount Doom. I remember navigating some underground tunnels around dangerous lava. And this is where the dream starts to fade away, but I can tell you a couple thoughts in summary:

I am pretty sure I didn't choke at the summit like our friend Frodo. And I'm not so sure if it is because I'm stronger than that, or that the sunglasses were just not that cool.

I really didn't feel that bad about just taking glasses #2 and #3. Those people shouldn't had had them anyway and... they were safer in my hands. In fact, the two people I took them from, kinda freaked out when I took them so I think I justified in my heads that their addiction to these glasses were unhealthy, so I was doing them a favor.

And my final conclusion is that I have some weird dreams.