Friday, February 27, 2004

Pathetic prosaic paeans to patriotism!
Prosaic paeans to patriotism.
It seems like I'm actually a morning person.

Of course, I'm a college student who keeps odd hours (don't we all), so I never really noticed this fact. But for some strange reason I woke up around 5 a.m. today, and I've been (relatively but not completely) productive, and I enjoy this time of day. Stuff is happening but it's still quiet and peaceful. Even in the summer, seven a.m. would be bright and alive but not hot and humid.
Why do I like alliteration so much? One of the things that makes being an editor fun is trying to give articles titles like "AI identifies objects".

Xenophobic xylophonist.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I lead a life filled with routine - duh. But that's to a large degree voluntary and to a certain degree unwelcome. Yesterday while researching a story was the first time I'd ever set foot in the Hillside Lounge, and it looks like a nice place. I'll have breakfast there tomorrow, assuming of course that I'm awake in time before class.

Lesson learned at the CT this week: If I don't put in about 4 hours of work on Tuesday, and/or if my article(s) are not completely finished by 4 pm on Wednesday, then I'm doing something wrong and I can't expect to be done by 6 am.

I guess this is why Chad and Lewis call being done before 6 am, "living the dream". Wednesday morning I thought things were looking good if not great. (In retrospect, I was pretty damn stupid to call it "great" when I had yet to do %95 of the work on an important story, but still. That's how it seemed at the time.) We didn't have much space to fill, we definitely had no shortage of stuff to fill it with, both Sandeep and I had no other time commitments... [1] Overall, it should have been a very good deadline night, but we were there until 6:30 or 6:40 again. It looks like we can only expect to get out before 5 or 6 when nothing unexpected comes up and when we're on top of things and doing as much work ahead of time as possible.

If it weren't for the deadline night stuff - maybe even despite that stuff - this was a good day. I banged out a short story critique at the last minute and expanded on and polished another in the hour before class, I was awake and alert all through class, and I got down to business [2] after class and wrote several e-mails and stuff right away. The Tiernan Project's spaghetti dinner was fun. I met Jody Asbury in person for the first time, and I met a girl in my really tough PHL class and we will (I hope I hope I hope) be able to study together and help each other.

I don't know. I guess that's it. There's a lot more I want to say about the political issues of the day, and political dialogue itself, and some Deep Thoughts (TM), and maybe even some talk about my mood or a halfway sorta-kinda-maybe good thing that happened Wednesday night or how things with me and some friends are changing. But I'm tired, obviously. Now's very much not the time.

[1] In hindsight, there was one single outside factor that got in our way: two other sections were behind for reasons of their own, and they were tying up the printer and stuff more than we're used to. At the time I actually liked this because of the whole "how the mighty have fallen" sort of thing, but now it seems we were getting in each other's way quite a bit.

[2] Well, relatively. They weren't the most pressing or absolutely important responsibilities I have at the moment. But still, they were responsibilities, and I got them out of the way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

When I was depressed almost a year ago I was talking to a friend and she was confident I'd be fine because as bad as it was then, she was sure she had seen me worse on two seperate occasions. (One of those times I'd agree with, but I'm not sure she was correct about the other - at exactly what point does "depressed and enraged over a breakup" become worse than learning the hard way that I should never mix alcohol and hashish?)

But I'm reminded of that right now. It's been a bad couple days. I did a pretty bad job on one homework assignment and completely didn't hand another in and got last week's homework back with a two point fucking seven five out of ten on it. And all that was partly because sure, they're hard classes, but also partly because I just couldn't be bothered. I've been beating myself up over that stuff, with very good reason. And lately I've been dwelling on the fact that the loneliness that bothers me so much is completely and totally my fault - maybe due more specifically to wimpiness or laziness or cluelessness, but none of those are good alternatives.

But I was doing Arabic homework just five minutes ago and I laughed out loud because a sentence to translate reminded me of a quote from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." If I can burst out laughing at that... yeah. Could be worse.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Last night we (me, Steve, Laura, and Kenny) borrowed the movie Rudy from Eric and watched it in my room. It wasn't a bad movie but it was totally a football movie, so it was about as familiar to me as a Bollywood movie set in WWII would be. I didn't get it.

After the movie, Kenny left his ID card and keys behind - and he's a sophomore, so there's bound to be a dining plan on it. People also left a half-empty bag of Milano cookies, a bowl of chocolates, a pair of slippers, and one of those pillows with arms that's made to be leaned on.

If I had locked my door when the movie was over, I would have turned a profit even if I'd bought it new.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I just watched this week's episode of "Angel". Good stuff. For the last two weeks they've taken extremely dumb-sounding story ideas and then made things out of them which turned out to be very good. Last week, the episode was mostly a flashback to Angel fighting Nazis in World War II. It seemed lazy (Ooo, Nazis... is there a less controversial villain available? A less original or thought-provoking one?), pointless (there are several plot lines dangling and several characters who've been annoying or filler lately, and a flashback episode wouldn't clear any of that mess up), and the worst kind of retconning (Angel isn't a war hero - if he was, we would have heard about it before now in the character's seven and a half years on TV.) But it turned out very well. It was a good standalone episode, and %90 of my fears completely failed to happen.

And this week, Angel was hit with a vicious, demonic curse: he was turned into a puppet. Our super-powered, angst-ridden vampire became three feet tall and made of felt for most of the episode. I was not optimistic. But it was funny and well-paced and still managed to be more serious and original-feeling than most "traditional" episodes. And none of the main characters made any of those incredibly common (in TV), really stupid choices about their personal lives because they're too self-absorbed to swallow their pride or notice blatantly obvious clues.

Actually, they did. Two of them did. But the point is - and this might have actually made the episode better - those mistakes were made and then fixed quite nicely by the end of the episode. Finally. One of those mistakes involved Angel and how he has something approaching a love interest for the first time since Cordelia last season, and even that doesn't really count since she was possessed at the time... well, anyways. I swear, I don't usually get like this over TV shows.

The other character was Westley. Early in the episode he was giving Angel advice on women (easily as funny as the whole vampire puppet thing, considering his character). He said Angel should make a move because it's very rare you're attracted to a woman "who doesn't view you as an entirely sexless shoulder to lean on," and then he made a lot of those mistakes that make you shout at the TV screen, but at the end of the episode he - FINALLY, after more than two years - got together with his own crush.

And this happened despite repeated signals - he was so resigned to staying at the "just friends" stage she used to be happy with that he wasn't noticing them. She finally had to just take the bull by the horns. And it's made better still by the fact that a song about self-esteem or something was playing in the background (from the evil demon puppets' TV show, of course.)

Yes, I was watching this episode alone in my room on a Friday night. Considering what it was actually about, if the episode wasn't so happy and funny, I'd probably be so depressed right now that I'd have to drink myself stupid. Good thing it was a good episode.

The thing is... I really don't know what it is with me. I'd give my right hand for my problem to be something easily understood, and/or easily fixed. Oh well. Maybe I shouldn't complain; I decided to take a few minutes and finish this post before going off to a game night with some friends, so that should make one small part of the problem completely fucking obvious.
Oh yeah, and there's another thing I learned this week about writing/managing/working/whatever - basically, being editor: assign stories ASAP. If I don't get around to it by Wednesday or it's for a story that we didn't hear about until later, well, that's pretty much inevitable sometimes. But I shouldn't be saying "Oh shit" while leisurely reading stuff on Friday night.

New policy: pretty much every day it seems, I'm setting my alarm on Thursday by figuring that I need to be up for class at 2, and counting back by the amount of time I'll need to do the work I put off till the very last minute. If I have any stories that haven't been assigned by then, I'll just add fifteen minutes to that figure.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Should I stick with the fencing club?

I was running around in circles mentally a few months ago just like this over Tae Kwon Do, wasn't I.

But really, I'm only doing it once a week, or even less. This is because there's no point in beginners like me coming to weekend classes until we stop being beginners. And the non-weekend classes are on Wednesday night, when I'm busy as fuck, and Thursday, when I'm tired from Wednesday and also pretty busy on its own.

On Wednesday nights there's the Campus Times meetings. It's getting better and we're all getting more skilled at and experienced in the job, but even so we haven't finished before 6 am on Wednesday yet. And then I have classes. I am doing badly in the first, and at this rate I'll soon be doing badly in the second of them. And then there's often a small-but-not-necessarily-easy homework assignment for Arabic, which I have to do Thursday. What with all those responsibilities (whether I actually meet them or not, like in my first two classes, I *should* be meeting them), do I really want to give up another two hours of time and energy?

You know... no. I don't feel like going tonight for several reasons, but it's my only chance for a week... i think i'll probably put off *really* starting for another semester. At least in the fall I'll be expert and veteran at the CT. And I can presumably give myself a better schedule. Yeah, of the 3 classes I still need to take to graduate, I'm sure none of them are before noon. Cooool...

And hey, this gives me yet another reason to be a Take Five student. It could turn out to be yet another thing I talk about but am too apathetic or wimpy to do anything with, but at this rate I'll have to do it just because I'm getting so many commitments that are multi-year things or that I won't be able to do for too long.
Lessons learned this week:

If at all possible, either me or Sandeep should have the free time to take on a story at the last minute. This basically means that whichever one of us has the heavier course workload (or indeed any at all) should not take any stories from the predictable-and-planned budget.

I also learned that we need to work closely with certain writers for a while. One story we printed, because it was big and because we placed it early and were loathe to change it, had so much of a slant to it that it should almost have been in the op-ed section. And another story we printed, because it was by a new writer who we didn't want to alienate right out of the gate, was - I don't want to be mean just in case my readership is even bigger than I thought somehow, but - bad.

More insightful commentary to follow later. Right now, dinner.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Instead of writing this fucking entry, I should be actually working. I suck.

Oh well. If - IF IF IF IF IF IF - I can only write this and be done with it, it's small potatoes compared with the time I've wasted on completely pointless stuff. Clearing my thoughts and venting and letting friends know what's going on is worth that, easily. And besides, I'm not that far behind. Well, sort of.

The problem isn't the workload, the problem is how I handle it. (Or so I was thinking earlier, but eventually I want to study that.) Even on my best days there's an hour or so when I'm not doing anything useful or productive, and days anywhere near that good are rare. I wasted several-hour chunks of the last two days for no good reason at all. I wasn't even having fun, most of that time, I was just procrastinating, playing games, and reading discussions I don't really care about.

What could I do about this? Doing my work out of my room helps, obviously, but yesterday is evidence that it's not a miraculous cure-all. (well, duh. Nothing is - I SHOULD STOP FUCKING LOOKING FOR ONE.) In theory working with other people would help. Shame is ten times the motivator guilt is. (Is that meant to be an insightful truth into humanity, I wonder, or just a comment on how I personally think?) Well, that's good in theory, but in practice the only work set that's possible with someone else is the Logic class (which is not going well, BTW) and I don't know anyone there. Well, shit - is there a better way to meet new people??? Talk about stupid of me!

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I noticed that over the past few days, I've been acting extremely sarcastic. Not worth mentioning, maybe, except that I don't think I've acted like this since high school. And not only that, but the things I think about when I'm not thinking about anything - you know, on the bus or on a long walk alone or something - seem different over the past couple days too. Normally the mental screen saver is full of politics, my work, or stuff that I think would make cool stories if I ever got around to writing the damn things. But over the past couple days it's been straight-up power fantasies - the books I read or TV shows I watch, with myself and a friend or two in place of the main characters.

Just like back in high school.

Of course, there's a 99% chance that worrying about this is pointless. There are so many possible incidental explanations and the "back to high school" trend is so recent that it might not exist at all, and even if it is happening it might not be the bad thing I'm imagining. But it's what I've been thinking about today, so I might as well take a few minutes and write it down.

And just to fill in the gaps for, well, pretty much everyone except my mom, dad, and sister: I used to be very sarcastic, sardonic, and maybe other things as well. Maybe the phrase "biting wit" is appropriate, or "cruel sense of humor". But that pretty much ended with high school. In France it took a while to get good enough at the language to joke and stuff, and even then there just didn't seem to be an audience for it, or something. And my first girlfriend was pretty insecure (not to say I'm not/wasn't as well) and we did most of our communication by methods like AIM. So it was rare that she wouldn't take my kind of joke personally, and even rarer that I could be sure of that. So basically, my personality changed a lot in the six months after I graduated from high school and stayed changed.

And it sortakindamaybe looks like it's changing back. And I don't like that. Because high school was not fun. My social life back then was about like it was this past summer in South Carolina, only in high school there wasn't a good reason for it and I didn't have any of the compensating freedom.

Bleh. This whining seemed insightful or at least relevant three hours ago when I started writing it, but since then I've read a bit and gone to two meetings. Now it just sounds like whining. I have actual work to do - too much actual work, in fact, since I didn't do much earlier today, but it's still possible.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Oh, yes. That is so cool. The gods have smiled upon me.

Professor Anastasopoulos cancelled class! (because he's sick, poor guy bla bla bla) But what this means is that I can get up to an extra two hours of sleep this afternoon, and I don't have to rush through those two assignments I put off to the last minute - in fact, (though of course I really will not put these off that much) I have a week to do them. So next week I won't have to work on them at the very last minute.
Okay, this CT night was really great. We got out of there at 6:20. That sounds bad by some mythical objective standpoint, of the "average" student or something, but first you have to consider two facts. One: our times have been steadily getting better. Ths first night this semester - my first night as editor - I couldn't sneak out until around 10, and the paper wasn't ready to go until after 11. The second week, We got out of there around 9:30 am. The third week (last week) we finished up around 7:45. And today, here we are, back in our rooms already at 6:20.

And the second fact to take into account is that over the course of the week, the number of articles we were expecting dwindled from 12 all the way down to six, and a five page news section takes seven stories. Reliable writers had family emergencies or just very busy weeks, stories given to less reliable writers were harder than we expected or just plain not possible... and worst of all (to me at least), I was working on something which we thought would be a major story but after a dozen reversals I found out at the last minute that it was no story at all for another two weeks. (I guess that puts me in the class of "less reliable writers". Well, I don't know. In some ways I'm very good, as we found out today, but in others apparently not.)

Today's paper will almost certainly suck. But you know what? We went into it with most stories coming in late or not at all, and we came out of it the easiest and quickest yet. The one story (not counting a brief) with my name on it is horrible, terrible, and pointless, but I wrote it completely from scratch after 9 pm around doing other editing jobs when it became clear that we probably wouldn't have enough space. By the time I was through writing it, it filled the space with text to spare.

And I also luckily never had to worry about breaking that promise; that's the thing that turned out to be not a story. So I'll be able to squeeze a certain someone for information in two weeks for something that will almost definitely be a story then. Also, if I feel vindictive - no, that's not professional enough, I should say "If I need to play hardball" :) - I have enough quotes from this week's failed investigation to make a complete idiot of anyone who doesn't want to cooperate.

Not really, of course. That actually happening is as likely as me actually punching Nick as soon as I see him. It sounds like fun, especially right after dealing with a headache orthogonally related to him/them, but come on, in real life my brain would step in.

But anyways. This issue probably won't be great, but considering what we were working with, I'm proud of it nonetheless.

Also, as I think I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to be one of the four editors selected to represent the UR Campus Times at a conference for college journalists in March - in Las Vegas. That should be fun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

You know what? I just need to realize that I am the boss. I mean, Hell, I am one of two news editors. If I'd just stop bending over backwards to be considerate of writers, and planned just a little more and thought ahead a bit further and otherwise acted like a boss, and if I worried about what my section and I need instead of what some random fraternity brother I've met all of once in my life needs, this job would go a lot better.

I shouldn't have made that promise to him in the first place. Since it looks like I'm going to break it, I should call him up and let him know in advance and apologize and stuff and never do it again. And then I should write the damn story, be done with it, and leave my work in the office for a few hours or days.

Lol. All that sounds simply hilarious, considering that my last real job was as an assistant cook/busboy at a tiny restaurant down south. Suddenly I'm trying to be a regular Perry White.

Well, better Superman's boss than Dilbert's boss.
Sooo tiiirred...

It seems I was very wrong about that story not being a story. It is indeed a story. And I fucked up bad: when it looked like it would be a small story if anything, I promised someone I wouldn't publish it for two weeks if, in return, he would answer any and all of my questions about his special interest housing. An interview like that is rare in general from one of these guys and would be impossible after writing pretty much any story.

Well, it is a story, and almost definitely not a small one. So I'm writing something. Missing out on the interview isn't that big a deal just because after having written a story about this guy's group, it would be impossible anyways. But dammit, I really should have thought harder before promising him anything.

Ah well. Live and learn. And here's another thing I learned: when a writer we want can't do the story and I double-assign it to have a greater chance that one of them will be able to do it, I should insist on confirmation from the writer that he's doing it. I think we've dodged a bullet this week, but in the future it could be embarrassing (to us) or discouraging or insulting (to a writer) if we give the same story to them and someone else. Like I did this week.

Oh, and I didn't drop Logical Methods in Philosophy. I'm told it will get better, and I can work harder and get my work done earlier, dammit. And if worst comes to worst, I'll just drop it and take a "W" on my transcript. I'm never going to apply to a grad school to study philosophy, so what difference does it make?

Monday, February 09, 2004

Okay, so the CT story that looked big and important and interesting is probably not happening at all.

If three people who should know about it had told me, "I'm sorry, I can't tell you anything," and "It's confidential," and "You should talk to [our spokesman] instead of me," then I'd be on fire, working my ass off right now. It would be important.

But as it is, I've talked to three people who should definitely know what's going on, and I've heard "I have no idea," and "No, that's not true," and "The allegations are completely untrue. I’ve heard rumors too, but I don’t know where they’re coming from."

I have a little more research to do - maybe I was asking the wrong questions or something - but... yeah. Probably just a rumor, I have to say.

I see that a lot of my friends have blogs through Livejournal. Maybe I should have used that instead - Livejournal users can only receive comments from other Livejournal users.

I stand corrected.
I see that a lot of my friends have blogs through Livejournal. Maybe I should have used that instead - Livejournal users can only receive comments from other Livejournal users. But I've been doing this for... wow, almost half a year, and I'm hesitant to just lose all this and start over. Hmmm... I'll look into it one of these weeks. If Blogspot does keep inactive blogs forever, or even just gives you fair warning before deleting them or whatever, maybe I will change over.

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.
I don't much like using AIM to talk to people on the hall. Sure, it's convenient, and less intrusive then going to their door, and an Away message is a better guide to whether or not someone is available than if they're capable of answering their door. But I don't like it because I spend enough time in front of this computer, both for good reasons and bad, and I much prefer my interpersonal relations to be with people.

But OTOH, you can chat on AIM while naked or otherwise incapacitated, or with a room so messy you are incapable of offering someone a place to sit. So it does have its good points.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The Masquerade Ball was fun. I don't think I did half bad, dancing.

I debated for a while whether or not to go to the party at DU Steve kept talking about. Basically, there would have been a slight but not nonexistent chance of me having fun, and a certainty of me being tired and very footsore. So... yeah. I'm here now, not there.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Bleh. Tired, but also bored. It's Friday night - there has to be something I could do that doesn't involve sitting here.

Mitch Hedberg was fun. I thought he was stoned, but apparently I'm too stupid to realize that a comedian would never preform drunk or stoned on campus. Well, it was a good act, I'd say. I liked the "Dr. Acula" joke, and the "three easy payments and one complicated payment", and there was at least one more that really stood out for me (but apparently not enough.)

Okay, so I'm going to the Masquerade Ball with Anna, and that's good. But I'm not a very good dancer, and that's bad. But it may or not be too bad. I don't expect a magical romantic evening with a girl who was a "safety date" twice over, but hope I won't step on her toes constantly and won't be brushed off while she goes and dances with actual friends and... you know what? I worry too damn much. Tomorrow night will be fine. It will even be fun - for some inexplicable reason, I like stuff like this. I should really learn to get more sleep, because for whatever reason, I get depressed when I get tired. That's all.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hmmm. Lewis just dropped Logical Methods in Philosophy (the class at 11 am on Tuesday and Thursday we both were in.) Considering that he's actually a philosophy major who likes that stuff, and considering that he has more experience with the late nights and early mornings of the Campus Times than I do, I think that's a bad omen.

I will never be able to count on making Thursday morning classes in that class. Even if we at the CT become an efficient, organized, well-oiled machine (and the odds of that aren't great), there's always the chance of important stories coming in late, which will add hours to our time. Not necessarily as many as it did these past few weeks, no, but still, that's simply a major factor beyond our control. So the point is, I can never expect to make it to more than, say, a third of my 11 am Thursday classes. And it's a tough class, tough enough to drive out someone with a lot more going for him than me. Should I really be taking it???

I don't know. I'd avoid drastic decisions tonight anyways, considering my tendency to be, er, cranky. And I've been thinking about this entry more or less all day and it's not as clear as it seemed at first, so I've already decided not to jump to the obvious negative conclusion. Before I do anything about it, I really should ask Lewis more about why he left and stuff. I mean, he did mention that he had been taking an overload, so this is just dropping down to the normal four classes. And since he's majoring in it and even plans to go to do post-grad studies, maybe he cares more about getting a good grade than I would, since I only need a C or better for my cluster.

Also, I'll really look hard at this next homework - if it's doable, then maybe I can get by with Tuesday classes and the textbooks. Hopefully.

In other news (heh, no pun intended, I just noticed), I suddenly see why people complain about the CT so much. Looking at the whole thing in finished form with a few hours sleep under my belt, I am not very impressed with my section. Maybe I'd notice as many mistakes in the other sections if I knew it as well, or maybe our section really was the sloppiest this week. (It's hard to tell - which would be worse?) Hairlines not lining up, a period in what should be a blank line, a name misspelled in a caption, plus several places where articles were either written badly or written lazily.

To an extent, of course, there's an excuse for this. We're still dealing with the problems caused by newness, (though that excuse is completely used up by now), and news and sports are the only two sections that have to be updated and stuff down to the last minute. When Features or Opinions have perfectly written articles with no split clauses or unanswered questions, and when they're stories fit together as tightly and neatly as a jigsaw puzzle, it's not all that impressive considering that they've potentially had the articles in their possession for a couple weeks. For us to do that would be a sign of great skill, effort, or luck, considering that there will inevitably be some stories not written until Wednesday afternoon.
Things I learned tonight:

1) Check up on writers around Monday. In other words, avoid finding out Wednesday that a story is not coming in.

2) Give any story on Tuesday or Wednesday to senior staff. The time Sandeep and I spent writing our stories could have been better spent.

Despite these problems, tonight went (relatively) well. Right now we're free except for the fact that three pages are printing at a glacial pace, if at all. This doesn't sound good - until you consider that last week we were here until 9, and two weeks ago the paper wasn't ready until about 11 am. We're getting better. And it shows that the problems are not due to incompetence or laziness (at least not on the parts of the editors), just inexperience and, to a certain extent, circumstances. If that front-page-worthy meeting about Napster had happened tomorrow instead of today, then we would have had to scramble and fudge it a bit to fill our space - but our editor in chief wouldn't have been writing copy well after midnight, and a computer would have been free for more urgent uses.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Dammit. Still sore from yesterday.

A story I'm working on for the CT about some planned development in the 19th Ward will take me across the footbridge for the first time in months. I'll need to get the opinions of some locals, and the natural place to do that will be either at the gas station or the store.

I want to buy a pack of cigarettes while over there. *Sigh*...
I made mock-ups tonight. (Well, I didn't do the 5th page, but come on, that's the one that a mock-up is least needed for.) And I'm now almost done my only homework assignment for tomorrow. If - IF - I can get all the necessary quotes and research for my article on Brook's Landing development by 4:30, I will be ahead of the game on all fronts.

Then why am I taking the time to write this?
Earlier today I was going to Wilson Commons and I passed a guy wearing a t-shirt. Walking around outside. And it was 32 degrees out at the time.

I've been in Rochester for too long.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Tonight I went to the Roost, this country/western bar Eric's always talking about. It was fun. At one point there were these two girls leaning over the balcony above us and Eric suggested that Kenny and I go up and talk to them, so we did. I led the charge, by the way. While Kenny was trying to get their names and numbers (and I don't even know if he succeeded on their numbers), I danced a song with the shorter, blond one. Personally, I think I got the better deal.