Archive for April, 2006

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Grajatated

April 27, 2006

Last Saturday was Ajay's graduation ceremony and graduate show. I headed on over to RMCAD to see the exhibit he put together and hang out. It was fun. I got to hang out with Ajay and Amy and their respective families. Ajay's dad took us all to Macaroni grill afterward—thanks again for that, Kelly.

Anyway, I finally got around to uploading the photos I took of his exhibit. The rest can be found here.

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Yes, Virginia…

April 19, 2006

Yes, Virginia… is The Dresden Dolls newest album, and what a fantastic album it is. Based on their other two albums I had some high expectations for this one, so I was a little worried about being disappointed today as I went to purchase it. Not only was I not disappointed, I was more impressed than I could have imagined.

This album possesses much of the same appeal of their first two, but does not feel as though it is rehashing the same material again. You get the feeling that are continuing to change as musicians; a necessary trait to avoid becoming a caricature of yourself… *cough*Korn*cough* For one thing, Brian has started singing back-up vocals on some tracks. It's almost hard to get used to hearing a male voice in their music, but it sounds great all the same. I also detected a new theme — or at least one that I had previously not noticed — in some of their songs: rebellion against, for lack of a better word, Corporate America. Certainly rebellion isn't new to their music, but rallying against business is. "Modern Moonlight" is a call-to-arms against the massive amounts of advertising now rampant in this country, and "Backstabber" is, I think, about the music industry. Finally, there is "Sing"; not an uncommon rebellion theme for them, but one which I find so touching that I feel it is worth mentioning. To put it succinctly, this is what I understand the song to mean: do not be afraid to express yourself, it doesn't matter what others think:

there is thing keeping everyone's lungs and lips locked
it is called fear and it's seeing a great renaissance

Moving on, there are an abundance of songs that keep you torn be laughter and tears. Amanda's way with words keeps you smiling, and yet this cleverness conveys such sad narratives. Sometimes almost comical in their cynicism (Shores of California), sometimes describing painfully futile situations (Delilah), songs about loneliness and love abound. And of course, every once in a while, irreverently macabre songs (Mandy Goes to Med School) that you can't help but laughing about. This is the stuff of which classics are made.

In addition to the fabulous music on this album, the cd comes packaged with nice case and great liner notes. The liner notes for Yes, Virginia… are filled with fantastic pieces of art; all of which relate to songs on the album. Only two songs are not represented here, as far as I can tell. It is quite fun, especially the first time through the album, to contemplate each picture juxtaposed with its song. There are also a one or two tidbits slipped into the lyrics transcribed at the end of the booklet.

Yes, Virginia… has all the depth and wit of their eponymous first album, and perhaps even raises the bar a little for their next album. No doubt, if you enjoyed their firstcd, this one is worth the money.

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Not Quite a Rant About Hating School

April 17, 2006

I just had a realization that I do not want to forget. So I'm writing it here.

I think I have discovered why, at least in part, I am so disappointed by my education. I feel as though I've just spent five years at a vocational school. Not that there is anything wrong with a vocational school, mind you. I am very much in favor of them. Vocational schools are great. They train you to do a job; they give you a marketable skill so that you can perform a valuable service to society and support yourself doing it. But isn't there a reason why schools like ITT Tech promise you a degree after two years, and colleges like CU usually take four or more? Shouldn't attending a "4-year" school do more for me than just train me to do a job?

That's how I'm feeling right now, as though I've been trained to be a software engineer. I feel like I've been given a crash course in how to develop software — programming, debugging, a little bit of revision control, documentation, etc. So now I'm mostly confident in my ability to be part of a team creating commercial software. I imagine — imagination being my only recourse here, having never attended a vocational school — that this is how I would feel if I were getting ready to graduate from a 2-year college.

But if this feeling is accurate, if I'm only as well off as though I'd gone to ITT Tech, what was the point of spending all of the time and money for five years at a 4-year college? Shouldn't 4-year schools provide more than just basic job training? (Not to mention that I don't think I've gotten very good job training here, but that is a rant for another time.) It seems to me that a 4-year school should provide something loftier in the way of education than simply training someone to do a job. I'm not sure what that "loftier something" is; I only know that I am feeling its absence right now.

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Off to a Great Start

April 13, 2006

Yay! It's almost time for me to head off to Natural Language Processing to take a quiz for which I am completely unprepared! Today is going to be good, I can tell. ><

 Edit: As it turns out, Martin postponed the quiz.  So today is, in fact, off to a decent start.

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Something to be Happy About

April 10, 2006

Those that know me know that I'm not a very positive person. I am habitually pessimistic, cynical, and negative about almost everything. Every once in a while there is something that I am generally somewhat fuzzy (as in a teddy bear or Dan, not as in vague or unclear) about. This is one such thing.

My brother recently had some computer trouble in the form of a dead backlight on his monitor. As always it came at a time when he had much work to do and it was all on his computer. As we were discussing options for getting him a working system while Apple repaired his monitor I suggested — half-jokingly — that he could always use my old iBook. Provided it a) had a working OS on it or b) the cdrom drive wasn't as broken so that he could install a working OS.

Long story short, he took the iBook and was able to install OS X on it. He subsequently removed OS X and installed Ubuntu instead. He had expressed a desire to play with Linux again (he was the computer geek when we were both in high school) and I suggested that Ubuntu was probably the way to go if he really wanted to use it again. And so, for the past couple of days, I've been helping him figure out how to get things like sleep working. For the most part, though, he's actually been figuring a lot of it out on his own. He did his own research into why sleep wasn't working, found a couple of solutions, and started trying them.

This has been a small source of joy for me — especially considering how bad yesterday was. This isn't one of those, "He has seen the light and left the dark side of computer OS's and joined a more enlightened society of computing!" I could care less what kind of software anyone uses. It's just a tool. People don't have religious debates about hammers, why should they about an OS. What I find so enjoyable about Klye's foray into the world of Linux is seeing him play with computers: figuring things out, discovering new tools and toys, and generally having a good time playing with computers. It reminds me of how I got sucked into this field in the first place.

I'm not sure how much using my old iBook with Ubuntu has actually solved the problem of being able to get his work done, but at least he seems to be having a good time.

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Spring Time for Hitler

April 10, 2006

School may be making my life totally miserable right now, but at least the weather is nice.

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Exploring Dwarven Ruins

April 2, 2006

We’ve been exploring some Dwarven ruins in search of a ring. When I say, “we,” I mean Layalta and myself. The rest of our group has been somewhat inconsistent. She and I began the journey with the ogre and the elf, but they soon disappeared. I’m not sure where they went. Not long after they disappeared the half-elf showed up again. I guess she’d been tracking us after we left last time. So much of my old work was done solo, it’s a little strange being part of a group again.

The ruins have been completely infested. We’ve encountered monsters in every room we’ve explored so far. Layalta says that some of them were not from this plane. I wonder if there’s something about this ring that attracted these creatures… Many of the passages have been blocked by rubble. On the one hand this saves us the effort of having to explore some parts of the ruins, but on the other if the ring is in there, we might have trouble getting to it.

We discovered a corpse outside one room, partially buried by a collapsed wall. He had a partially completed map of the dungeon, I guess he was in the ruins to draw the map. The strange thing is, he had no other gear on him. Only his armor — which was torn to shreds — the map, and a scroll case. I would’ve expected a lot more gear for someone exploring some ruins. The map didn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know. We’d already explored all of the ruins that we could get to without clearing a bunch of rubble — well, almost all of the ruins. He has something marked in the entrance room that I assume is a secret door. Hopefully that’s where we’ll find this ring. But I’m afraid that — especially if it’s the ring that has attracted these monsters — we’re going to find something truly horrific behind that door.

We have returned to town to recover before exploring that last door. We were out of healing potions and still had severe injuries that needing tending to. So we returned to town to restock and rest up. Once we’ve made a full recovery — or close to it — we’ll head back to the ruins and find that ring.