Monday, January 31, 2005

Good news: I'm actually ahead of schedule in Philosophy of Language. There was a paper that I thought was due today, but actually it wasn't due until a week from today. So I'm going to need to make a lot of changes to incorporate the new stuff we're going to go over in class, but I have a paper almost done a week in advance - pretty damn good. And I've made no further progress on that short story, but at least I've had a few ideas which make my second choice of stories more workable. And I finally bit the bullet and told my dad about the yearbook. Not the most responsible way I could have handled it, but at least that's over with and he didn't mind.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Shit. I was working on that short story due Wednesday, and I was making good progress, at least by my standards. But once I'd finished this dream sequence at the beginning, I realized it was almost impossible to fit with the passage I'd written months ago that was part of the same story, and the general outline of the story I had in mind. So I need to either rewrite it from scratch to fit where I want the character to be, or come up with a different story idea... by Wednesday. Well, it's not as hard as I make it sound. I'd thought of two, and while neither of them was my first choice for this (um, duh), they're both viable.

Last night I stayed up extremely late talking to Kenny and Katye. Kenny was in the situation of being very drunk despite having very little to drink. I had quite a bit myself, but thanks to a combination of judicious eating and thinking deep, serious thoughts, I was stone-cold sober almost the whole time.

Me and Katye... well, things are confusing. No, that's not the right word, maybe I should say "mysterious." But for a variety of reasons... there's no pressure. "Que sera, sera," if you'll pardon my French. Et si ce que sera ne serait rien, ainsi soit-il. (Again, pardon my French, and this time I mean that in the grammatical sense - even when I was in France I'm not sure I could have got all those verb tense switches right.) I don't think I've ever been able to say that, but for several reasons which I don't feel comfortable writing in a blog that could be read by almost everyone who knows me, I don't want to say why just yet. Suffice it to say - well, forgive all the equivocation, but things are probably improving.

Edited @ 12:14 a.m. Tuesday.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I got about 12 hours of sleep last night. No real surprise, of course, considering that I got none at all the night before last...

Today I slept, played some games, did some planning on a short story I have to write, went on a liquor run for some friends, and had dinner at Danforth with Kenny and John Wenck. The offerings there were even worse than usual - they were out of chicken and only had tofu at the Asian table, and I wasn't brave enough to try the tacos. But on the plus side, at least there were curly fries.

After that I played a couple games of Magic and went to see "The Motorcycle Diaries" with Kenny. It's a story about Che Guereva (pre-Che, so to speak) on a road trip around South America with a friend. Good movie, on the whole.

Sandeep invited me to come over to his suite tonight, but I need to spend some time working on that short story. It's due Wednesday, and I have enough other stuff going on that I can't put it off so much. So... I hope to get at least a few pages written tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Got that slip signed. Once I've handed it in and got a poli-sci advisor to sign off on my major, I'm done with that bit of things.

You know, there may be a lot of problems with Rochester, but I love the tunnel system. From 12:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon to 12:30 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I went to three different classes in three different buildings, did quite a bit of editing work for the CT, stopped at a couple different places for coffee, snacks or dinner... all without setting foot outside.

The CT went well this week. We didn't get out too early, but we did better than last week, and as I've said, "early" means something different this time of year as it would at later times.

I wish I was in bed now, but 'twas not meant to be. I have an assignment to do for that 11:00 class which I'd forgot to do for Tuesday's class.

Monday, January 24, 2005

OK, so, at this point I'm taking it on faith that I can get into PSC 240, Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Principles. It theoretically meets Monday and Wednesday. The school year started on a Wednesday, before I had decided I wanted to take it. The Monday after that was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so there wasn't class. The Wednesday after that I showed up to class, only to be told by (a very few) other people that the professor had cancelled it. Just now I went to the class... and again, there was only a handful of people in the big room, and we decided he must have cancelled it today as well.

Sure, there's no question that I have the right room and time and stuff - the other people (the ones who came before they remembered it was cancelled) reassured me. And sure, the class itself won't be hard - I've already taken a bunch of poli-sci classes, and it says right on the syllabus that class is optional. And I'm even pretty confident that he'll sign me in - the poli-sci department secretary seemed confident of it, and I've only missed one actual class, and I e-mailed him, and as I said it should be easy.

But still, despite all that, I can't help but be discouraged by the fact that it's more than a week into class and my schedule is still not yet finalized.

Speaking of work, that reminds me, I had planned to write about the New Year's Resolution I made but I never got around to it. Well, every time I start thinking about self-improvement, for whatever reason, I try to address one of three ongoing problems: my social life, computer games, and procrastination. As for my social life, nothing's perfect blah blah blah, but things seem to be going relatively well these days. I have friends (both close confidants and more casual people I can have fun with), I have no shortage of places to go or things to do here at UR, and I've even met a fair amount of new people over the past year or so. And as for computer games, I used to focus on them as a real problem interfering with both my schoolwork and my social life, but I don't think so any more. Over the past couple years I've tried leaving them at home over vacations or whatever... and I'd just wind up wasting time in other ways instead.

My biggest personal problem (this week, at least - ask again after the next time I get rejected by someone or fail at a major goal or whatever) is procrastination. When I leave my elaborate, immersive computer games at home I just wind up spending a lot more time downloading TV episodes, reading discussions on Usenet and message boards and blogs, or reading books for fun. Until recently I used to believe that procrastination was just another way of getting stuff done and I shouldn't beat myself up and be so hard on myself about it, because I always got my assignments done anyway and got decent grades on them. But after last semester I can't tell myself that any more. CT stories getting written badly or not at all, Take Five applications being submitted with 30 seconds to spare, several other examples... I really do need to get better about it.

So that brings me to my New Year's Resolution. I'm not going to just try to resolve "no more procrastination" or something like that. It's almost the definition of overambitious, doomed resolutions. There are (have been) a couple weeks at the beginning of the year when nothing big is going on, so there's really no reason not to watch just until the end of the episode... and by February I'd have fallen back down the slippery slope to the point of starting papers at midnight the night before they're due.

Instead, the New Year's Resolution I made was to keep busy this year. Keep playing games, sure. But also take five classes, none of which are at an introductory level, all of which I'll need a decent grade in to graduate with the double major I want. Continue as a writer and editor at the CT. Take up ballroom dance, and maybe another group-oriented hobby of some kind. Get more involved with the Tiernan Project - there was all kinds of fun stuff, sure, but I don't think I did more than one community service event all last semester. Go to the gym relatively regularly, at least while I'm still at UR. Have a real job lined up by the time I graduate. Get more involved in politics than reading the comments on some blogs here and there. Write fiction fit for publication, even if I don't actually see any money from it. And continue to meet people, have fun, and hang out with friends.

The idea here is structured procrastination. To fight procrastination by creating a situation where the only way to avoid one task is by doing another. It will probably stressful, as someone pointed out to me at the end of last year - but fuck it, I could use the challenge. Will it work? Who knows, maybe it will get ignored like so many other New Year's Resolutions do. It's hard to tell so far because I don't have much of a workload from classes yet. But if it does then (not to use hyperbole here, but this really could be useful) it could change my life, and if it doesn't at least I will have challenged myself and learned about my limits and stuff.
John's birthday party last night ruled. Jill and Eric are very funny when drunk. Kenny and I tried the sake Seth had given me a while back, and it was all right. There were several girls there I didn't know but was glad to meet, and I even remember their names. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

This week in Journalistic Ethics 103: Burying a story.

(Assume for the moment that it's true and newsworthy.) When can you bury it? When printing it will directly cause certain, material harm? When printing it is likely to cause a negative effect?

Come to think of it, why is that an issue at all? Why do journalists do what they do? (Besides a paycheck, a job they happen to enjoy, etc.) Do they do it because they believe in a code of ethics stating that learning, discovery, and the truth - The Truth - and its dissemination are moral imperatives? Or do they do it because of the more general, universal rule that mankind should help one another and make the world a better place, and making useful (useful, entertaining, whatever) information more accessible is just their chosen way to do it?

Well, enough high-minded babbling. It got me thinking deep thoughts, but it's not relevant to this particular case - keeping my friend's problem buried would be impossible, even if I did want to.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Virus fixed. What four pages of steps from a geek Web page couldn't do, one IM of advice from a friend could. Thanks, Abby.

Due to the combination of cold, snow and sweat, my hair froze on the way back from the gym just now.

I was invited to a friend's party last night - two, actually, counting Sandeep's, but the one I'm thinking of was Kim's birthday party - but I didn't go. To be honest, I just didn't feel like it. I'd got drunk every night last weekend, for some reason I haven't been sleeping well lately, and I have stuff going on tonight and tomorrow. With all that, I just didn't feel up to a party.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Damn. I've got some kind of computer virus which impersonates an AIM Away Message with a link to spread itself. So consider yourself warned - if my Away Message looks like it's not my style, it probably isn't. As far as I can tell this bestfriends.scr doesn't do anything but spread itself, but it's still a problem.

Well, hopefully this will teach me my lesson about Kazaa. Earlier today I decided I wanted to watch some TV shows I haven't seen since coming back to school, but using Kazaa apparently has gone from a crapshoot to Russian Roulette. Heh, I like that expression. (At least, I assume it's Kazaa. I can't think of where else I could have got this.)

A friend of mine suggested that I take it to ITS. But since my computer is a four-year-old desktop, that idea fits in somewhere between "impractical" and "insane." So I'm checking out this Web site in hopes their advice will help me fix it.
Three and a half hours of sleep, bitches!

I am very, very optimistic about this year for the CT. I left around 6:45 - I wasn't really needed, and I decided to get some sleep before class at 11. I stopped in the office for lunch after class, and I was told that the remaining editors were finished before 8 a.m. Consider that my first production night lasted until 11 a.m. (obscene even by our standards.) Now, consider that in a month, Emily and Shweta will have more experience and they will know what to look for when editing, they will know their way around InDesign and will need much less help with that, their writers will have more experience and will be better writers, and there will be two or three copy editors/staff instead of just me, and we as well will be more experienced.

This year, I think the paper will be easy, excellent, or both.

I've noticed for a while that I'm always sort of uncomfortable when in the company of a group of people who are all more left-wing than me. I wonder why. I don't have a problem with them individually, as a rule, but for some reason I can barely stand it when I'm the most conservative person in the room. Whether it's a college special interest group meeting, my dad's very left-wing family, or a classroom. Could it be because I've bought into the negative stereotypes pervasive about the Left in this country (a possibility that just occurred to me in class listening to professor Johnson, who until today I had had almost no respect for)? Could it be because I realize I'm relatively far to the left, so I figure that anyone even farther than me must be way out there?

Or maybe it's because I'm iconoclastic in general. So whether the status quo of the room is the CT office, a Bible discussion group or my dad's family, I don't like it if there's unanimity and I reflexively disagree with it if there is. Or because I'm not just left-wing but also liberal, and any group of politically like-minded people is likely to be relatively close-minded.

I decided to skip "Freedom and the First Amendment" today. I have other stuff to do, there's no attendance, bla bla bla.
Well, another CT production night. I'm a copy editor rather than a news editor this time, but the broad outline is the same. Gluttony, running around doing a dozen little tasks that (mostly) aren't my fault but are (sort of) my responsibility, sitting around for quite a while in the morning when pages hit a bottleneck.

I hope to get to bed tonight before class, but I wouldn't be surprised. I imagine there'll be a lot of days when I just stay awake through my "Art and Politics" class... well you know, no. That would be true if I were a news editor, but I'm not. I technically finished almost an hour ago. I'm hanging around to help the other guys, especially the new news editor (singular only because one had to leave.) In a few weeks they won't need that.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I saw a quote on that got me thinking, but not in a cheerful way. Here's what Taegan Goddard wrote.

"If I didn’t feel that I was the personal instrument of God I couldn’t carry on."

-- Woodrow Wilson, during the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, as quoted in 1912 by James Chace (p.268).

Thanks to a Political Wire reader for sending this after reading the similar quote by President Bush earlier this week.

When I read that, a little factoid I've seen here and there in countless history books jumped out at me. It seems that the general consensus is that the Treaty of Versailles is one of the major causes, if not the cause, of World War II.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana
The last time we had a divinely inspired president, we had World War II. Please God, tell me it's just a coincidence.
Damn, but my iPod is great. Besides the usual incredible convenience of the thing, I just bought an iTalk. It's a doohickey that lets your iPod work as a tape recorder and gives it a speaker, so you can listen without earpieces on. It's not a great speaker, but the voice recorder bit is a lot clearer than a tape recorder, a ton easier to use because it's just like navigating through mp3 files, and it's a part of something I usually carry around anyway.

Weekend update: Thursday I went on a liquor run for Sandeep and friends, and later that night I joined the party at his suite. In addition to people I was already friends with or at least had met before, there was also this girl there named Tara. She's half-Indian, though I don't think she looks it, and half American, and she grew up in Switzerland. She speaks French and she thinks dimples are really cute on guys. Also, she had never been drunk before that night... so when the RA came by and told us to go home because neighbors were complaining about the noise, she got really freaked out and worried. And depressed. So the party ended with most of us sitting in Sandeep's neighbor's room trying to cheer her up and convince her that alcohol is not inherently evil or bad.

Friday afternoon I went to the senior class happy hour in Wilson Commons. In addition to the free food and free beer - a lot of people didn't want their drinks, so they were just giving away the tickets, I could have got drunk if I'd wanted - I also hung out with a lot of different friends and I got some notes for the CT, putting that iTalk to good use for the first time.

And Friday - well, history repeated. Just for a little variety, I joined Kenny and a bunch of people on our hall at a party in Kenny's room. Kenny again put his bartending skills to good use, trying out several new drinks. Besides some mixed drinks that were pretty fruity (literally - no slur intended), I also tried Southern Comfort. I could enjoy it in shots or in a mixed drink, but it's not meant to be sipped. I think last night was the only time in my life when Kenny was more drunk than me. We played "Never Have I Ever" for a while. The game didn't end until we were all out of fingers, and I think by that time some people were at like -8. :) I met a friend of Kenny's named Katie there, who spontaneously gave me a massage. Cool. I did something I'm not sure I've done all year: gone to Uncle Dickie's. Along with Kenny and Eric. But it was fucking freezing as we waited for Kenny's Italian sausage. That night ended with some weighty, soul-searching talk. But it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

Today I had a relaxing morning - dammit, I was planning on going to go to the gym, I'm going to go some time tomorrow come Hell or high water! And in the afternoon I got some lunch just before this CT open house, sort of an orientation/interest meeting, trying to both get the new editors up to speed and get some new writers/staff involved. Successful, on the whole.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tired. I was up late last night packing, and I got up early enough this morning to go into work with mom, because that's where I was meeting Jessica for the ride to UR. The trip seemed more boring than usual, maybe just because I was tired, but still - not a bus.

For some reason, the Access Web site doesn't seem to be working at the moment, which is bad because I don't remember off the top of my head what my first class is tomorrow. But I do remember that it's at 1 p.m., so I've got time to straighten that stuff out. So instead of worrying, I'm going to get to sleep - tired, remember.

More detailed thoughts about what it feels like to be starting my last semester of college, and about my New Year's resolution, to follow later.

EDIT: Oh, there's Access. Cool. The "crisis" is averted.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Well, I'm packing. Getting ready to go, because I'm leaving for work with my mom in the morning, where Jessica will meet me - Vergennes high school is very nearly on the way for her.

Yesterday I went snowboarding for the first time this year. It was just my dad and me. We did five runs at the Middlebury Snow Bowl (small ski area owned by Middlebury College.) It's like riding a bike, you never forget. As I said to my dad on the second run or so, I remembered how to move almost as well as ever, I just needed a little refreshing or whatever to figure out how much force to put into the different parts. By the fourth run, I had got that back too, and by then I was carving as good as ever. And then after the fifth run, we were done. Even if I wasn't too tired to keep going - did I mention I need to get back into shape? - my dad was. So we called it a day. Fun, snowboarding for the first time in a year - winter sports, great outdoors, the wind in your face as you glide down the hill... and sore ankles.

Today I walked into town (which I quickly realized was a mistake, considering the fact that I'd gone snowboarding yesterday) and stopping by the bookstore. I got a book I'd been curious about but don't actually know much about - it's recommended to fans of Terry Pratchett, so that's a good sign.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

So I log onto AIM, and on that window that pops up the top story, with picture, is "Pitt, Aniston Separate." Off to the side, no picture or anything making it stand out except for some red lettering, there's a story titled "U.S. Nuclear Sub Runs Aground; 20 Hurt."

The inmates are running the asylum.

Yesterday I hung out with Gretchen a bit. We'd been trying to get together for a few days, but what with the weather yesterday was the first time we managed. She only had a little time, between morning chores and seeing Nick that evening, but it was fun. Movie, harrassing my pets, tickling contest, etc.

Today I went to Burlington with mom and dad. I did a little shopping I'd been meaning to do for a while, and afterwards we went to Chuck and Liz's. (Chuck is my mom's first cousin.) They were babysitting their 2-year-old grandson Aidan. (His mom Anne is my second cousin, so that makes him my second cousin once removed, right?) He's incredibly cute. This was the first time I've ever really spent any time with him - The hospital bed just days after he was born, Zoë's graduation party he partly slept through, and a visit to Anne's apartment for just half an hour or so, compared with several hours this evening, just me, him, my parents and his grandparents. Before today he didn't even know my name - he called me Zoë a couple times - but when we got up to leave he hugged me twice. So cute!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I'm watching C-SPAN at the moment. They're talking about certifying the Ohio election results. Brief thoughts: every Republican makes it sound like the issue is who won in Ohio, but every Democrat makes it clear that, to them, the issue is all the voting irregularities - the ten hour lines in urban districts and complete lack of lines in suburban districts, the ballots disqualified because they were printed on the wrong type of paper (really, and if that's not unconstitutional it should be), the voting machines with all kinds of fuck-ups and completely impossible results and no way to check them, the registrations of people with black-sounding names challenged for no good reason... and so on.

The Republicans also keep saying, with a little bit more justification, that this isn't the place for that debate, that this isn't the place or time to talk about the irregularities. But Nancy Pelosi said something a minute ago that explained that pretty well: This is the only place they can do it. I don't know all the details of Congressional procedure, but it seems that since they're the minority in every house, the only way the Democrats can keep this issue in a high-profile forum for more than 30 seconds is by sneaking it in somewhere or other.

Well, enough analysis by someone very unqualified. What I wanted to say in the first place was an idea I had while watching it. I'd like someone to do a study of disqualified votes, and see who they were voting for. I mean, people who voted in the wrong precinct or sent in their absentee ballot too late or voted twice or didn't bring ID with them or were given a defective ballot or had registered under their maiden name or something - who were they trying to vote for? Of the disqualified ballots that are probably fraud, who are they for? Of the disqualified ballots that are probably innocent mistakes, who are they for? Which precincts and states have the most ballots disqualified, and why?

Some statistics on all that stuff would go a long way to proving or disproving the arguments about this issue, instead of leaving it all up to rhetoric and anecdotes.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Today I went to the gym, for the first time in probably two months, maybe even more. That's one routine I look forward to getting back into. It feels like I'm going to be sore tomorrow, but hey, it's a good kind of sore.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of waiting to take a shower until I got home, instead of in the locker room. And we didn't have any hot water. Zoë said she just took a cold shower and found it refreshing, but personally, I'd call it torture. Lukewarm shower - well, that's one thing, but an actual cold shower - if it's not fixed by tomorrow, I'd rather drive to Vermont Sun (the health club) than shower here.

I say that because it's not fixed yet. When I talked to dad about it on the phone, he thought it was a relatively simple problem. It wasn't until 9 p.m. when mom and dad were getting ready for bed that we noticed, hey, no one had actually seen any warm water yet. So dad spent some time on hold and gave a credit card number to a few people and finally persuaded an Agway technician to come out here while I was getting a fire started.

Meanwhile, I found an even better method of heating: pets. A few minutes ago I was sitting in a recliner watching TV, and no fewer than three cats and a pug made themselves at home on my chest, my lap, my side, and on the footrest between my feet.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A lie can run halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on." -to quote some random author or thinker whose name I'm too lazy to look up right now.
Well, I've filled out the forms, watched the videos, and collected the handbook and guidebooks. All that's left before I can spend some time working as a subsitute teacher is a phone call or e-mail (it's all online, apparently, which is very convenient if I've understood it correctly) telling me what school to go to and who I'm subbing for.

The last week or so has been very relaxing. Translation: I've goofed off a lot. I had plans to see Gretchen today, but she said the roads were too bad, so that went nowhere. Oh well.