Monday, February 23, 2004

"As time t approaches infinity..."

"Em, why don't you surprise us and do the dishes?"
"Dave, why don't you surprise us and get a job?"

(Not that I said it, but I really, really wanted to.)

I don't think I've heard anything quite like this.
I can't tell if what she did was really smart or really stupid.

This just in: You mean I can find my soulmate just by solving equations?
Every physicist's dream, n'est-ce pas?

Oh, and I, uh, read a few more paragraphs of Atlas Shrugged today. Of the JG speech, even.

Friday, February 20, 2004

"You got basil on my orange!" "You got orange in my basil!"

Some of you noticed the away message that I'd kept up for two or three days. It comes from a Big Daikon message board, on which a JET interviewer posted:

During the interview, we look for specific things, usually my team members each take a specific part, with me trying to tactfully ask the tough stuff (medical history, arrests, and the other "red flags"). Others focus on the academic and knowledge of Japan and teaching. I also try to check your knowledge of the actual job and it's duties while giving a little advice.... We then rank you against the others that we have interviewed through out the day....
After we do all of this, I think your applications are thrown off of the Tokyo Government tower in Shinjuku and every application which winds up in Jingu stadium is accepted.

Here is the specific post within the context of its thread.

In other news... there is no other news. 'Cept for this basil mandarin candle--kind of an interesting scent.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Move 'Spam'. For great justice.

Seven and a half months.
That's how long I successfully kept my favourite e-mail account spam-free.
For seven and a half months.
Until today.
What happened? I wondered. What did I do in the last few days that might have made me a target? To whom did I give my address?
And then it dawned on me:



I checked Google, and there it was, in plain view, for the whole world to see.
One lousy post to one lousy newsgroup, and somebody set up me the bomb.

On a less dark note, at least Yahoo has been able to identify the spam as such, and has duly sequestered it to the Bulk Mail folder, where I can more easily deal with it. I can't ignore it, however, since the four spam mails I got today ate up about a fifth of my storage limit, and would have remained there for 30 days if I hadn't deleted them and emptied my trash folder.

In other news, I'm in the market for a laptop, if I go to Japan. I'll bide my time, and spend the next three months researching... unless Japan doesn't want me, in which case my research will terminate in a month and a half, probably resulting in no laptop purchase.

Checking out Dell's website today, I was trying to figure out what my monthly payments would be, and how many would be required, were I to buy one of their laptops on credit. I tried to go as far through the purchase process as I could without actually buying one. They wanted to know if the computer will be exported out of the US. Well, yes, I said, it will be. So they had some additional questions for me, including:

Will the product(s) be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction, i.e. nuclear applications, missile technology, or chemical or biological weapons purposes?
  • Yes

  • No

As Sol put it, if you're into creating weapons of mass destruction, you probably have no scruples preventing you from lying about it.

What else was there I wanted to say? Oh yeah, my interview in NYC went well enough, considering I ended up with only two hours of sleep beforehand.

Killed the morning and the early part of the afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. Saw some nice dinosaurs. Was unimpressed by the astronomy exhibit, but maybe that's just because it didn't teach me anything new... and because some of the interactive displays didn't work very well at all. Could have spent extra to see "The Search for Life: Are We Alone?" but decided against it, since I knew it would just be a whole bunch of information culimating in, "We don't know!" Spent $13.63 on lunch for a sandwich ($7!), an admittedly tasty tapiocapudding/grahamcracker/mandarinorange/ whippedcream/rainbowsprinkle concoction, and a fountain soda. But I was simply too exhausted to find my own dining arrangements.

Walked across town to the Consulate General's office, at 299 Park Avenue, a path that took me across Central Park where everyone and her boyfriend were taking horsedrawn carriage rides, so much of the park smelt of poo. Thought the interview was the best part of the day: the interviewers were friendly and unintimidating, none of the questions really stumped me, though I could have answered a couple better than I did, and I left feeling pretty good, in a "mission accomplished" sort of way.

Tried to get back to the airport before my feet turned into knobs of pain, which was an adventure. Bought a thick spiral-bound atlas of all the boroughs of NYC, and discovered that it contained a subway map of only Manhattan. Hopped on a train anyway, and eventually figured out where I was, and how to get back to JFK, with the help of some friendly New Yorkers (they do exist). Bought some gummi worms at the airport (which reminds me, I still have gummi worms!) and played GameBoy until my flight left.

I had that other interview at SUNY Upstate yesterday. I'd talked with Dad about the possibility of being offered a job there, and what I should do in light of the Japan thing. He said definitely not to take the job only to leave four months later: I'd end up blacklisted. Though I don't know how widely such a blacklist would circulate, I agreed with him that it would be a lousy thing to do.

When I went to the interview I discovered just how lousy it would be: Dr. Olson has only been at Upstate for six weeks; he's just getting his lab started, and hasn't yet hired a soul. So when he asked what my time frame was, how soon I might be able to start, I did what I found most conscionable: I told him about Japan, and said I wouldn't find out for another month and a half. He seemed to understand. He said that he was looking for someone to start sooner than that, and in any case he'd prefer that his first hire have a biology background, so he wouldn't have to do so much training right at first. But he's applied for some sort of grant that would allow him to hire a technician/data analyst, a position he thinks would better fit my experience. He'll find out about the grant in a couple of weeks, and if he gets it the money won't start coming in for another couple of months after that. He told me to keep in touch, and if Japan doesn't work out, then he might be able to hire me for this other position where, he said, I could gradually branch out into the more biological work his lab would do.

So hey, that interview went well, too. And that's a nice feeling, considering my very first real job interview at Bristol-Myers Squibb left me wondering why my temp agency had sent me there:

Have you had any chemistry lab experience?
Any biology lab experience?
Any biochemistry lab experience?
What was the last lab course you took?
Experimental Physics II.
What kinds of experiments did you do there?
Radioactive isotopes, gravitational constant....
So nothing related to biology or chemistry?
Lord have mercy.

At least they were kind enough to tell me, four weeks later, that they weren't going to hire me. I still haven't heard back about my second job interview, also at BMS, which took place in October. It was then that I realized Adecco was about as useful to me as a penis enlargement e-mail.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

If it weren't so sad...

From today's Daily Orange:

An alleged blackface incident took place over the weekend, but those involved say it could all be a misunderstanding.
Just after midnight on Saturday morning, the Department of Public Safety received a report that a student was wandering around Watson Residence Hall with his face painted a dark color, according to a Public Safety report.
The student told officers that the face paint was camouflage - not blackface - and that he was actually on his way to rob a house, [Marlene] Hall [director of Public Safety] said.

Friday, February 13, 2004

I should be sleeping.

Dad's baking a honey ham. Mmm... honey ham....

So I got an interview for a position at SUNY Upstate. Very cool. I'd get to work with mice, an' stuff. I'll go to the interview, that's a no-brainer. But what do I do if they offer me a position? As far as my immediate future is concerned, I'd rather go to Japan than work at SUNY Upstate. But I won't know if I'm going to Japan until late March. I'll be 24 by then. The Upstate job would require a lot of training, since I have no background in biology, and I wonder if it would be kind of sketchy for me to take the job and then leave after four months (if I go to Japan). But then, what if I turn the Upstate job down, and then don't get selected to go to Japan? That would suck--I'd feel mad stupid.

Joe and Sol both say that, if I'm offered the Upstate job, I should take it and then leave after four months if I go to Japan. "Just say, 'Something better came up.'" Meh....

But I imagine I won't even have to face this problem: they're sure to be interviewing someone else with a biology background and better grades than I, so I won't be offered the position. (No, wait, think positive thoughts, remember?) Oh, yeah. Well, I guess it would be like having to choose between two really great guys who both want to date me.
Or nothing like that at all.

It's true: I really should be sleeping, since my plane to NYC leaves at 6am tomorrow. But my laundry's in the dryer, and I want to fetch it before I go to bed. Good news! The weather forecast for NYC tomorrow is sunny all day, with a high of 45F. I was afraid I'd be stuck wandering around Manhattan for seven hours in the rain.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Blog v3.06 - New and Improved!

So Grammy wants to buy a computer. "Just to use the Internet," she says, "so I can send a letter to Jonathan, send a letter to Jimmy, and it doesn't take seven days to get there." Her sister Edie has a Compaq 7500, I think, and Grammy likes it: the keyboard pulls out on a little sliding tray, and everything is very neat, with no messy cords. I should probably tell her that she can get all that with any computer, provided she gets a nice computer desk as well.
I told her that she could save some money and buy a used computer, since it doesn't take anything fancy to run an e-mail program. She mentioned "upgrades," how computers get replaced with different models every year. I said, "Yeah, but the old ones work fine. It's just that over time, when newer computers come out, the people who make computer programs make them so that they run only on the newer models." Oh, she did not like that. "They force the market, then. That's not very nice." I smiled. "No, it's not, but you can still find copies of the older programs that work on the older computers." Still, she has decided to do some more thinking on the matter.

Joe's recent Daily Orange rant reminds me of a quote from a letter to the editor last year:

"Yes, everyone has freedom of speech, but this is a college campus."
-Bob Fiato, Letter to the Editor, The Daily Orange, Nov. 10, 2003

It's almost as funny in context.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

It worked!

My sleep experiments aren't always successful, but this one was. I didn't even plan on doing it until it was 7am Saturday and I still hadn't gone to bed. I knew I couldn't get back on track without severely overhauling my circadian rhythm, so I decided to force myself to sleep as long as I could on Saturday, then stay up till Sunday evening and go to bed at, like, Grammy's bedtime. Actually, I was aiming for after Stargate.

So that's what I did: I slept until 6pm on Saturday, stayed up all night, took a 40-minute nap somewhere around 7:30am so I started getting ready for church later than I'd have liked (sorry, Elisa!), came home after church, forced myself to stay awake by chatting online (since it had worked so well on Friday night), turned on the television at 7pm and noticed that I'd already seen that episode, went back upstairs and chatted a bit longer, and then fell asleep at about 8:30pm. I slept so-so, due in part to the fact that I hadn't changed out of my jeans, and got up at about 8:30am. Waited for Dad to get ready so I could get a ride from him, and got into work at 10:30. Ta-da! Now, to reproduce that last effect, I need to find my way to the bed within the next twenty minutes.

And as for Atlas, I haven't spent any time with him in the last few days. I plan on dumping Mister Galt and getting on with the storyline.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

In good I in the line of the illusion.

Lost in Translation
This is like playing games with AltaVista's Babelfish, but faster.
You type in some words, preferably a coherent phrase, and it translates them into French, then back to English, then to German, then back to English, and so on with Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

I tried: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.
After French: Inherit my living room, said the spider to the fly.
After German: If you take over my living area, the spider said to the fly.
After Italian: If you assume the direction of my living zone, the spider has said to Moscow.
After Portuguese: If you to assume the direction of my alive zone, the spider said the Moscow.
After Spanish: If you stop to assume the direction of my alive zone, the spider said Moscow.
It gets even weirder if you include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.


Let me extend my heartfelt thanks to the University of Michigan for accepting Scott into their physics graduate program. A happy Scott is a relaxed Scott. And a relaxed Scott stays off my back for two or three days.

Now if Scott ends up in the midwestern US, and I end up in Japan, that should work, right Joe?

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Friday, February 06, 2004

How Getting to Work Late Can Pay Off One Time Out of 10^3.

I got an interview!

I was getting ready for work this afternoon at about 3pm (sorry!) when the phone rang. And rang. And rang. And rang several more times. And stopped. And then rang again. So I thought it was my dad, cos he refuses to put a new tape in the answering machine, so if he's trying to call me at home, he usually lets the phone ring a dozen times, then hangs up and tries again. But it wasn't Dad. It was some guy who said, "Hi, I'm calling for Ms. Emily Watkins."
"This is she," I said, thinking it was some particularly stubborn telemarketer. But it wasn't; it was a fellow from the Consulate General of Japan who told me that my interview had been scheduled for Friday, February 13 at 4:30pm.

Happy happy happy.

And to make things weirder, Dave gave me half of a tuna sub. He told me I could have it, and that it would be down in the fridge. I said thanks. But a few minutes later, he came upstairs with a paper lunch bag. He opened it and looked inside, and said, "Now, there's a tuna sub, with extra onions, extra tomatoes--that's your salad. And a banana, some carrots, and... celery," and handed me the bag. Like, wow. The guy packed my lunch for me. His anti-depressants must be working. When he's in a bad mood, he looks at the cat and says, "Buffy... go die and spit worms." When he's in a good mood, as he apparently was this morning, he looks at the cat and says, "Buffy, you must be lonely. You're a nice kitty."

And as for Atlas Shrugged, I haven't read anything yet, but I'm about to, I swear.

My fingers still smell like tuna.

Thursday, February 05, 2004


p1017 of 1168 (p8 of 60)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Who is Ayn Rand?

I promised Joe today that I would finish reading Atlas Shrugged by the end of the month.

I bought the book in June of 2000, when I read somewhere that a survey done by the Library of Congress put Atlas Shrugged as the second most influential book, after the Bible. In a year and a half, I had covered the first thousand pages by bringing it to work with me (when I was still at Wegmans) and reading it on the bus and during my lunch breaks. I don't read very quickly--about one-and-a-half times faster than I speak--so considering I spent an average of a half an hour each day on the book, I was making pretty good time.

And then came... the John Galt Speech. (Dun dun DUN!)

I'd been warned, but against all advice I foolishly attempted to read it straight through on the first try. And so the book sat on my shelf for another two years. Joe continues to threaten to tell me how the book ends, but I'd really like to finish reading it for myself someday. If it weren't for my curiosity about the book's ending, my motivation would be almost nil. So now, in exchange for Joe's silence on the topic for the duration of the month, I will finish reading it by February 29th. I can make no promises as to whether or not I will read the Galt speech, but I will read what comes after.

Currently on p1014 of 1168 (and on the fifth page of the 60-page speech). I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 02, 2004

"Hello, I'm Kettle. And you must be...."

In response to Scott's latest entry (as of the time of this posting):
  • Taking it way too seriously, eh? Good one; I'll have to save that for later. In all honesty, I'm pretty much over it; I was mostly shocked in the first place. I'll just have to remember to keep my cards prostrate during subsequent games. And further develop my latent power of X-Ray vision.

  • Granted, I probably would not have won the game even if I'd retained the cards in my hand. What mattered more to me at the time was that ill-gained evidence had been used against me. Law enforcement officers are not allowed to drive down the street with a heat-sensing device to determine if members of the populace have been growing pot in their attics. The RIAA is no longer allowed to subpoena your identity out of your ISP without some evidence that you've been downloading copyrighted material. You know how it is.

  • The fortune cookie was a joke. And I don't get paid to be funny, so the fact that it was unprofessional is moot. As to your charge of "uncalledforness," I would remind you of a certain German Chancellor who double-crossed a certain French Saint....

  • The link to your latest month of posts is provided in the column to the left. When I respond to one of your posts, I provide a link to that post. I think even you would agree that I would be most unwise to categorically affirm all of your opinions of me.

  • That I have been inducted into Scott's Internet Hall of Fame, I am most honoured. *curtsy*

So the Patriots won. Good. I even got a little nervous at the end. Stargate was on at 7 o'clock, so Dad and I watched that for an hour. We really didn't miss anything, though, since nothing interesting happened until the end of the second quarter. Some of the commercials were funny. Am I going to remember which products they advertised? Probably not. Well, that alien one, that was FedEx. But that winter volleyball one? I forgot who that was. And I generally don't bother to keep car companies straight as it is; an amusing commercial isn't much incentive.

Good night, Doodlebug.