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It's really scary that I'm the closest thing The Maroon-News has to an in-house tech suppourt guy, given that my solutions to problems are generally no more sophisticated than "restart it and see what happens."
My first all-nighter of the semester, and it's only the first week of classes! Woo!

At band practice, Amanda started singing "Final Countdown." In defense of all that is good in the world, I was obligated to chase her all the way around the hockey rink. But by the time I caught her, I realised that I (1) didn't know what it was I was planning to do to her, and (2) was too tired to do it anyway. I'll get you next time...

We just barely made the deadline for getting this week's Maroon-News done. And it still looks pretty crummy. I can blame that on two things: (1) Our sports editors had no clue what they were doing because nobody thought to train them before Jason left last semester, and (2) nobody did a thing Wednesday night.


A mere 20 minutes after I thought of the topic, I committed to doing my Geography senior research on environmental degradation in the Aral Sea basin. My thought going into the class today was to do something on the decline of the Russian military, especially with respect to their nuclear arsenal. But Christina wound up wanting to do pretty much that exact topic. She was really apologetic, but I think the Aral Sea thing will work out better. For one, I remember the Political Geography section of 101 being by far the least fun. And the Aral Sea topic relates to environmental studies, which I wish I could have done more of. The Aral Sea also gives me the opportunity, if I can get the kind of data that I need, to incorporate GIS.

Most important, though, is the problem of political bias. Last year Len Tkach did his thesis on the World War II monument in Washington, DC. At his defense someone asked him whether, after a year of research, he was for or against the monument. I was impressed that he could say he honestly did not have, and had endeavoured not to take, sides on the issue. It helped him get a balanced view from his interviews with participants in the struggle, and allowed him to look more objectively at the processes of conflict over heritage issues than he could if he had been trying to argue for or against the monument.

I'm very strongly opposed to Clinton and Bush's plans for a national missile defense system -- I think it's too high a cost to address too small a threat, while ignoring the underlying reasons for the threat and posing a great risk of antagonising the rest of the world. So I think researching the Russian nuclear arsenal would be too likely to turn into a diatribe against a missile defense system and in favor of retaining the ABM treaty. I have a sort of political bias with regard to the Aral Sea, being a committed environmentalist, but I don't think it has the potential to skew my research in the same way.

Of course, if they had let us research South America or Australia, I wouldn't have this problem.


Ooh, Blogger looks even worse on Netscape 3.0 on an old Mac.

I just discovered that would have been a real site if I had spelled it correctly.
Gah, this thing looks crummy on a Mac.

I feel really useless right now, beause this is my first Maroon-News issue as Managing Editor after two years as Commentary Editor. I came to the office right after class on Wednesday as usual, ready to get to work. Only there's no work to be done. Normally I would be copying articles from e-mail to Word, editing, planning page layouts, maybe putting the finishing touches on my commentary. But that's Sarah Compter's job now, and she isn't here. I have to wait for other people to start working on their sections before I have anything to do.

Last night I couldn't get to Blogger because Colgate's internet connection got screwed up. So I didn't get a chance to say that yesterday was a big day for New Zealand. Or at least, for my plans to go to New Zealand. I suddenly got half a dozen e-mails from people I had been trying to get in touch with about my Fulbright/Watson proposal. And they all seemed extremely friendly and helpful. Chris from the National Heritage Trust was very encouraging as far as the possibility of working there. I'm sure I'll have setbacks enough in the coming weeks to feel cynical about, though.

I've also decided I'm dropping any plans to apply for the Marshall, Mitchell, or Schupf fellowships. The deadlines are too soon, I've done too little preparation, and there's no conceivable way I would actually get one of them. And it's not that much of a disappointment to decide that. Spending a year in England or Ireland would have been a great experience, and the schools over there are known for having strong Geography programs. But I think the main reason I was considering applying was because people (particularly Judy Fischer, the fellowships advisor) kept telling me I was smart and a campus leader and therefore I was the kind of person these fellowships are looking for. I don't know where they get this idea, because it's certainly not true (but I'm sometimes fooled by being told it so often -- though that was more the case in high school). At least with the Watson and Fulbright I can sell myself on the strength of my research proposal, rather than having to pretend that I'm one of the top students and leaders in the country despite being fairly average by Colgate standards.


1) There seems to be a bit of a gender imbalance in the jazz band this year. I just came from the first meeting, which was attended by 16 men and no women. Even our teacher (a new guy this year) is male. Connie may show up eventually, and Emily will probably join when she gets back from Spain next semester, but still. It's been like this all four years. Besides Emily and Connie, Missi was the only other female to be in the Colgate jazz band when I was. Did I miss something? Is jazz inherently a male musical form? I'm tempted to make some jokes here about, for example, Thelonious Monk writing "Straight, No Estrogen," but I don't think I have enough jazz-fan readers that would actually get it.

Jazz band is going to be a lot more serious this year now that we have a new leader. I should have expected this, because all the candidates for this position led a practice last year as part of their interview. The guy they hired was the guy I liked least. He did a very strict, by-the-book sort of approach -- having us work on the exact crescendoes and articulations marked in the music and such. It felt like high school concert band. The other guys were looser, more like what jazz should be like. One guy taught us a song by ear. The other one had us play II BS/Haitian Fight Song, which is an inherently unstructured song -- you just cue various lines to come in and out. Both of them had us do a lot of improvising.

It's certainly possible to be too loose, as I learned freshman year. Daryl (our leader) didn't even come to our performances, and we played some songs without drums because we didn't have a drummer. A lot of times on stage we just made stuff up. We had a few weird arrangements that we created, like the funk version of "Mr. PC." We've had attendance problems all along, which hopefully the stricter approach will clear up. But now I'm concerned that things will be too restrictive; that we'll lose some of the casual creativity that made jazz band fun.

We also need to recruit some trombone players.

2) New Zealand has a .iwi extension (as in,, which is in some email addresses but apparently doesn't have a website). I found that to be really cool. Iwi is the Maori word that means (roughly) tribe. Ngati Tahu, for example, is a Maori Iwi. But they insist on using the British-style .ac for universities, instead of .edu like the US and Australia do.
Clifford Geertz says "There are enough profundities in the world already." Huzzah! I'm off the hook! If Porf. Peletz tells me my seminar paper isn't saying anything new or interesting, I can just refer him to the first day's reading.


I just did a stupid-looking little dance on the third floor of the Student Union.

I keep discovering that computers in the Maroon-News office that we thought were broken are actually workable. It's a nice improvement over the time last year when we did an issue with two computers after the scanner computer completely fried (not even Matt Hotham could resurrect that one). One of the computers I found was giving me some problems, because the control panel was grayed out, so I couldn't change the settings to get it on the network. I tried everything I could think of, but it didn't help. This was especially frustrating because this computer was a layout computer (which we need), and had a version of Netscape new enough to be able to handle Webmail, but old enough that it would run on the other M-N computers. This meant that if I could get this computer on the network, I could pass the Netscape files over the server to the other computers, and all of a sudden we'd have 7 computers that could access the internet instead of just 2.

Today Daisie offered to help me fix the problems via IM, so I rushed over to the office. She didn't repsond for a while (she probably had to actually do work or something. Sheesh.), so I started fiddling again. I discovered that by holding down the space bar while starting up the computer, I could get it to show the control panels again. It was all downhill from there.

The only remaining problem was that the port next to the computer was dead, so I now have an ethernet cable stretched across the door to the editors' room. I ran up the hill to buy a longer one, along the way failing to effectively sneak up on Amanda. When I reached the bookstore, I saw the helpful sign "we are sold out of ethernet cords." Bah. But I needed to buy a reading packet while I was there, so it wasn't a total waste.
I was going through my deleted items folder in webmail to clear it out, and I found the following (originally published in the 13/1/00 Allentown Morning Call), which I will post here so that I can delete the email:

Estimated temperature of Hell, according to two Spanish physicists' interpretation of the Bible: 832 degrees F.
Estimated temperature of Heaven: 448 degrees F.

Estimated number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin, according to the American Institute of Physics: 1064.
Estimated number that can dance in a row across a pinhead's diameter, "Rockettes-style": 1032.
I have two SOAN classes this semester, and neither of them is in Alumni 208. It's very strange. And one of them -- 311, which is a required course for the Anthropology emphasis -- has only seven people in it. But 304, the required class for both Sociology and Anthropology emphases, had at least 30 people. So either there are a hugely disproportionate number of Sociology emphasisers in the department, or nobody was willing to take an 8:30 class twice a week.


Let's see if it publishes this time...
Not publishing ... very odd ...
Just for the heck of it, I made a quasi-ska Greensleeves. This is only a rough draft, because I should be doing other work instead of fine-tuning this. Enjoy.
Today was the first day of University Church for the year. I had forgotten how much I like UC. There's just a sense of community that I get there that I haven't felt at any of the other churches I've been to. I suppose part of it is because it's all people roughly my age. Really, that's the point of organized religion, much as people say it's just about brainwashing people.

it's strange to think that I now hold a leadership position in the church. I suppose part of it is that I just can't see myself as the pillar of Christian faith that people like Dea DeWitt and Matt Laubenstein were (granted, they were Stewards and I'm just editor of the UC newsletter, but still). It's even less true now than last year when I signed on to be a leader, since my beliefs took a definite Unitarian turn this summer (though I still insist on thinking of myself as a Lutheran, just like I consider myself a Pennsylvanian despite having spent the last three years in New York). I suppose it will work out fine since I'll be dealing with PageMaker more than God. And it's not a bad trade off -- I mean, God's got that whole saving you from eternal damnation thing, but can he adjust line spacing in .1 point increments?

The new people in UC seem pretty cool. There were two girls who, upon learning that I lived in Cushman, expressed a great deal of sadness that they didn't come to our party last night, chosing instead to wander around downtown and then watch the Matrix. They were cheerleaders, though, so maybe I should have warned them that the party consisted almost entirely of band people. And there was another girl who was amazed that you could get AOL IM without having AOL.
I just got an email from the Lewis Carroll Society of Canada, asking for permission to publish Electionwocky. It sounds like one of those poetry anthology scams, except that (1) they identified a specific poem that they want, instead of making vague allusions to my poetry skill and asking me to write them something, and (2) they're not asking me to pay $50 for a copy of the anthology, because they're distributing it for free.


It's really sad when your excitement for the day is finding a typo in a Washington Post editorial. Heroin is an illegal drug, but heroine is a female protagonist.
The ending of Dante's Inferno was kind of disappointing. They finally got down to where Satan was, and he didn't do anything. Virgil and Dante were crawling around on Satan's hairy behind and he just sat there munching on Judas. After Charon and the guards at the City of Dis and Malebranche all gave Virgil and Dante such a hard time, I would have expected Satan to really let them have it. But there was no confrontation at all. He didn't even recognize their presence. Even if Satan knew God was protecting Virgil and Dante, and therefore he couldn't do anything to them, you'd think he'd have tried just out of boredom. The Traitors To Their Lords sure aren't doing anything interesting, being as they're frozen in ice (insert "when Hell freezes over" joke here), and I can't imagine Judas has been getting any sweeter over the last 1300 years. If I were Satan, I'd be more than ready for a little excitement.

Another example of Satan's laziness -- of the three greatest traitors he chose as his chew toys, two of them were involved in the same plot against Julius Caesar (Brutus and Cassius). It's like he got bored in his search for horrible treachery, so he just took two guys from the same incident. I bet he had a third Caesar assassin up until Judas died.
I just saw in Reblogger that there were problems listening to my rendition of Colgate's Fight Song, so I've re-uploaded it in mp3 and .wav format. I'm not sure why the mp3 is staticky, which is why I posted the .wav.
I heard a knock at my door a minute ago. I had just gotten up to answer it when Marty walked in and immediately began copiously apologizing. Marty, if you're reading this, let me explain something: you only need to apologize when you do something wrong. Knocking on your own door is silly, but it isn't wrong.

Of course, I count myself lucky that my roommate is excessively nice rather than inconsiderate to any degree.


I've been saying "excellent" and "unfortunate" way too much lately. I know I picked up unfortunate from Dave. Exellent may be a Dave-ism too. But I would blame Amanda for causing me to say excellent so much, as she often taps her fingers deviously a la Mr. Burns. It seems I'm very impressionable lately. Perhaps I should count myself lucky that Steve Marsi is gone. Otherwise I'd be saying "I'll be honest. I'm not going to lie to you. Roll Tide!" within two weeks.


I just got a phone bill for $.70. If I don't pay it, the late fee will be more than the bill. Ah well. It will help me use up all the checks that still have my mom's name on them.
Important questions that were answered last night:

Old people or latex?

If aliens abducted you and wanted you to make them a fruit salad, what fruits would you put in it?

If you could have any current or former Vice President come fix your roof, who would you hire?

If you were Satan, and Jay Barr died and went to hell, what punishment would you assign him for all eternity?

If I gave you three and you could add any number to it, what number would you add and why?


I'm not dead. Just busy.


The floor in this room is kind of unstable. So when I start air-drumming at my desk, I tend to make the whole thing shake even if I'm not touching the actual desk. This is Not Good. How am I supposed to enjoy my music now?
I sat with a bunch of first-years at dinner tonight, with the exception of my foray with a chicken leg to another table to set Dave's mind at ease by proving I'm not a vegetarian. And to be honest the only real reason I mention it is because I wanted to make the observation in the <a title> tag in the previous sentence. I sat here for five minutes trying to think of some profound observation to make about sitting with Eric, Aaron, Liz, Amanda, Jason, and the other two whose names I don't remember, but it just wasn't happening.


My mouthpiece is stuck in my trumpet. I got out the pliers, and all they do is scrape a big scratch around it. This may turn out to be a serious problem.

On a brighter note, I managed to play the solo in the Alma Mater correctly for the first time in the two years that the solo has been my responsibility. But I balanced that victory by screwing up the Jungle Boogie dance, which I was called upon to demonstrate for the first-years. So Timmy came down and we danced together. Ooh, aah. Ooh, aah. Ooh, aah. Ooh, aah.
Heh. I'd completely forgotten I made this:
Colgate fight song -- last year's hockey team version
It's my first full day back in Hamilton, and I'm doing laundry. That's what I get for putting the bulk of my clothes somewhere (the Maroon-News office, because I didn't have a proper box to put them in storage) where I can't get to them until Monday.


So, Brunchmeet.

The night before, Christine posted that she just remembered she was "honor-bound" to attend a softball game at 6 and would therefore not be able to make Brunchmeet. Which means it was down to me, Barbara (Sandrylene), possibly Spatch, and the Birdsalls -- Beth (genuine artificial), Ben (Opus), and Alex (Amsterdarn).

I started off Thursday with only 5 hours of sleep. Sandry outdid me by getting no sleep, but I was still more tired than I wanted to be. So I yawned all the way to the turnpike, where we were supposed to meet Sandry and her dad. They were running behind schedule, as they called us at one point to say they had gotten caught up in construction. So my dad and I stood around his truck (a bright purple pickup) and watched a guy in an orange shirt hosing off the on-ramp. My dad complained a lot about how they could get it much cleaner much faster if they just ran a street sweeper through. At least he wasn't critiquing their curbs.

Eventually hose man finished his cleaning and walked over to us. He told us there had been a truck accident near the Alpo plant, which is just north of the first exit south of Mahoning Valley (where we were waiting). Northbound traffic was cut off for an indefinite period of time. As my dad and I contemplated backup plans (we couldn't call Sandry to find out if she had gotten through before the accident because she did't have a cell phone), traffic coming north slowed to a trickle. Then it stopped.

Just as the last cars got to the exit, we saw the white Saturn we were waiting for pull up from the otehr direction (coming toward the turnpike instead of off it). It turns out Sandry's dad has a hatred for toll roads, and so he took back roads instead of the turnpike. A very lucky break. So I hopped in, and we headed out (on the turnpike for a while, as there is no other reasonable way to go north from Palmerton).

Most of the ride up was uneventful. We passed Dick's Sporting Goods, which was having a "back to school and archery sale." We ate at Wendy's, where much to Sandry's chagrin I ate some ranch dressing straight out of the package, leading to a retelling of the "glass of ranch dressing" story.

Wendy's was our undoing, because both Sandry and I forgot to use the restroom. We proceeded north through Ithaca, then promptly got lost. We wandered around for quite some time, looking for a road that had a sign identifying it, and feeling our bladders becoming fuller and fuller. At one point we wound up driving down to some quarry by Lake Cayuga. Through all of this we learned the disturbing fact that there is a distinct lack of gas stations in Upstate New York. And, despite the "middle of nowhere" feel, there isn't a patch of woods sufficiently large enough to allow for watering the trees.

So I made a great first impression when, after taking full advantage of Beth's reminder that if we hit Union Springs we'd gone too far, we finally arrived at the Birdsall's cottage: "Hi Beth. Where's your bathroom?"

Once relieved, I returned to the porch for the obligatory standing and staring awkwardly. During this time I was permitted to verify in a tactile fashion that Ben did indeed have poofy hair (as I had predicted before pictures were posted). The awkwardness was broken when Pickles, one of their two dogs, came over to lick Sandry's hands and my face. Pickles continued to do this at intervals throughout the Brunchmeet. I bet she's going through Stenny-sweat withdrawal.

I've been saying that the Birdsalls were the coolest family ever, but once we sat down to dinner I realised how true that is. I immediately felt like they were my family, except that Ben and Alex didn't scream "Jeez Louise, jerkness!" during their horeseplay. I got really confused when they didn't make us say grace before we started eating. I had to remind myself that they weren't my family. But I'd trade in Zeke to get Alex any day. I think half the snipe sheet is Alex quotes, and half my pictures are of Alex doing weird things. After not saying grace, we ate quiche and vegetarian chili with soldier beans.

Ben went to bed at 11, claiming that he had been sleep deprived for nine weeks. He's going to have to do better than that if he wants to be a good college student. But Sandry, Beth, Alex and I stayed up until 5:30. We played Trivial Pursuit and Boggle and just chatted.

I had been expecting Brunchmeet to be really intense, especially since Sandry and Beth are probably my two favorite Brunchers (certainly the two I would expect to get along with best in real life). But it turned out to be, for lack of a better word, really comfortable. I felt like they were old friends I could just relax around. This even includes mom and dad Birdsall, who I had never talked to even online.

Saturday we sat on the dock for a while where, at Sandry's suggestion, I made myself a head wreath out of seaweed. Then we headed over to the playground. Alex demonstrated his power of selective coordination, which allowed him to do various backflips, but not walk 10 feet in a straight line. I added various bits of greenery to my seaweed wreath, and made it more secure with a braided length of grass that Beth made. Mom Birdsall later told me I looked "positively pagan." While we were at the playground we spontaneously began singing "We Want A Rock" and "Theme From Flood" while we made a Brunch logo in the dirt with rocks, leaves, and hay.

Then we went swimming. Aside from the zebra mussels that cut my feet up good, it was fun. We splashed each other, and played cannibal zombies, and Ben left halfway through to go sleep some more. We were doing fine until dad Birdsall came to tell us we had to get out so we could get to Ithaca in time to catch Sandry's bus home. We came in, dried off, and crammed down some eggplant casserole. Then it was off to Ithaca (falling asleep in the van on the way there).

Sandry caught her bus, and the rest of us returned to the cottage. I would have left Friday as well, as per the original plan, but if I went back to Hamilton I would have had nowhere to stay. Thus I was blessed with an additional night with the Birdsalls. My extra time began with what dad Birdsall called a "stream of consciousness concert" in the van on the way home. We sang additional segments of Flood, as well as some songs I didn't know, including one about Russian mathematicians plagiarizing.

We played some pinball (on an old wood and nails pinball thinger). Then I learned how to play Asshole (I was the President twice! woo!) and got in a few rounds of Egyptain Rat Screw with round cards, before we called it a night so we could get up early the next day.

So today (technically yesterday, but whatever) began with the Ithaca Farmers' Market. It was neat just wandering around to all the booths, looking at the photography and sitting in the display model swinging porch chair. I realise it probably sounds really lame, and I'm sure if I had been alone I would have gotten bored quick and went straight for the organic blueberries, and then off to home. But I wasn't.

Then we had the bus ride home (by way of Binghamton grumble grumble), when I started reading Dante's Inferno. Got my key, got my stuff from storage, set up my room, went to Oliveri's, and posted this.
Also, zebra mussels are now in the kiosk. In addition to screwing up the ecology of various lakes, they have cut my feet up pretty good. Ow.
Back in Hamilton. Stuff sort of unpacked. Long post about Brunchmeet coming later.

I downloaded They Might Be Giants' new album today (Mink Car), yet I'm still listening to Splashdown's Blueshift.


I'm up too late finishing my paper, which means I'll be getting too little sleep before Brunchmeet. Ah well. See you on Saturday.
The McDonald's website has an Eating Right page. The first line says "Having a tough time getting the kids to eat their veggies and balance out their diet?" To which I say, don't take them to McDonald's! I'd put McDonald's in the kiosk, but then I couldn't in good conscience ever take it out. I've been told that they've done a fair bit to clean up the meat industry by refusing to buy from companies that engaged in some particularly inhumane practices, so they've got that going for them. But then I consider the inhumane things that they do to the meat once they've got it. Someone needs to file a false advertising suit against McDonald's for claiming to sell "hamburgers."

(link indirectly via wockerjabby)
It really worries me that some people have Pennsylvania Turnpike fan pages.


Today was spent working on my research writeup. 9000 words and counting. I have to finish it tomorrow. Ugh.
Two days to Brunchmeet. Thursday at 11 I'll be picked up at the Mahoning Valley exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike by one Barbara "sandrylene" Wilkie. Then it's off to the Birdsall cabin on Lake Cayuga. I get a bonus night of Brunchmeet with just the Birdsalls, due to a lack of residence were I to return to Hamilton on Friday. So Saturday I get to brave the bus trip from Ithaca to Hamilton by way of Binghamton. Darn Short Line not running a direct bus...

Turning on the printer to print out the directions to the cabin (I'm not driving, but I'm paranoid) just woke up my cat (Quincey), who has been sleeping on top of a bookbag that is sitting on our dining room table.

All this means that after Wednesday night, I'll be blogless until sometime Saturday (provided I can get my stuff out of storage right away). And then starts the fun and excitement of Band Camp. See Marty the Amazing Lush! Marvel at Mike Orlando, the Bearded-But-Moustacheless Man! Meet the real Amanda Hope!
Danielson's Law states that the potential validity of a theory is inversely proportional to the fraction of the argument supporting it that consists in accusations of brainwashing, closemindedness, obstructionism, and refusal to discuss the issue on the part of the establishment.

V = 1/P

Where V = validity of the theory
and P = percentage of words devoted to accusations of closemindedness, etc.

By Danielson's Law, the FBI alien conspiracy rates a 2 (1/.5), Eirich von Däniken rates a 1.5 (1/.6667), and Time Cube rates a 1.0001 (1/.9999).


Fnordia has a blog now. And I got to go on a secret undercover mission into her template to install Reblogger. Use it well.
I finshed Atlas Shrugged today. Finally. Overall, I thought the story was good, but the philosophy got overbearing at times (although it makes sense, as it was her last work of fiction before she switched over to just writing essays about Objectivism). I'm kind of ambivalent about the ending, specifically the fate of Eddie Willers. On the one hand, I really liked Eddie (though I can't really explain why), especially once she turned Jim Taggart from a well-meaning altruist into a bastard as selfish as any objectivist but without their ban on the use of force, who was only using "the public good" as an excuse for grabbing power for himself and tearing other people down. So I was disappointed that Eddie (spoiler, highlight to read)wound up laying on the tracks in front of a stalled and abandoned train. But on the other hand, despite knowing that, as a treatise on Objectivism disguised as a novel, the book would end with the Objectivists triumphant, I was sort of hoping for a more cynical end. In this respect (spoiler)I was disappointed with "Project F" -- I was hoping they had gone beyond traditional torture and come up with a way -- like a drug to increase suggestibility -- to make Galt work for them, which would lead Dagny to have to kill him lest his genius be used to prop up the looters, or something like that. So maybe I should be happy that Eddie met defeat, since there was a cynical ending for at least the one guy I liked.

There are a lot of problems I have with Objectivism, but I won't bore you with them. I just have one nagging question: How would an Objectivist society pay the police and the army? John Galt says quite explicitly that there is a role for government in protecting the necessary preconditions of a rational society -- enforcement of laws against theft, muder, etc, and courts to judge contract disputes, and a military to provide defense against outside threats. But I can't see any way that taxes could be considered anything other than "looting," and thus antithetical to Objectivist principles. And since Objectivism refuses all forms of compromise (never mind that every trade is a compromise between a seller trying to get as much money for his goods as possible and a buyer trying to pay as little as possible), there's no way to say that a little tax is ok because the need for police protection outweighs the evil of taxation. It's possible, I suppose, to have some sort of privatized policing (though that seems liable to turn into a protection racket) and private dispute mediation in place of courts. But I can't imagine how a privatised army (wherein a person exchanges money for the service provided if they want the service) could work. Would they let the invading Canadian armies take over 203 Elm Street because Mr. Smith didn't want to pay for the army, but defend 205 Elm Street because Mrs. Jones bought the full military package (including the missile shield option)?
Normally I can type my email username without looking at the keyboard, or even thinking about it. It's not a set of letters; it's just a series of finger movements. But today something got just a little out of place, and I nearly attempted to log in as "sdabriewski."


I already posted about Ronnie's Old Ladies Tour, but there are a few things I forgot to mention. I forgot to mention that Palmerton Pizza makes the best pizza in the world, much unlike the undercooked and flour-coated substandard pizza you get from Slices. Of course, Slices has a lot of sentimental value attached to it, from three years of Thursday nights at the Maroon-News office.

I forgot to mention that Ronnie's mom's car is very tiny. Even Trevor had trouble fitting in the back seat, and it didn't help that Ronnie had the driver's seat all the way back.

I forgot to mention that Ruth's house features a fiestaware-orange decor.

I forgot to mention that Leanne's jeans kept ripping more every time she got out of the car.

I seem to do this a lot. I'll get down the bare facts of what happened, outlining the whole thing but never taking the time to fill in all the details that make you really feel the scene. I'm too much of a journalist, I think. A news writer, not features.
I've hit John Galt's long long long speech, and I can see why so many people skip it. I really appreciate that Ayn Rand took time out of her busy schedule to tell me that I am the pinnacle of all evil, that I am not human but rather a suicidal monstrosity, and that she hates me with every fiber of her being. Only she said it in stronger terms.
Mmmm, zucchini bread.
I saw Ronnie for the first time in well over a year today. He was one of my best friends in high school, but after we graduated he dropped out of college and moved to Texas with his girlfriend. Now he lives in Arizona, as does my other best friend Chris, working in the produce department of a grocery store.

As soon as I got home from church, I heard someone yelling "hey, Stenny!" I thought it was my brother, but then I looked over at the door and there was Ronnie. He had come back from Arizona for a week in Ocean City with his mom, her boyfriend, his brother, and their two girlfriends. So he had only one day in Palmerton before he had to go back.

Trevor, Leanne, Ronnie and I drove down to Palmerton Pizza, where we met up with Jackie and Nicole George. I didn't eat much, because I had had ice cream right after church. Ronnie was his old hungry self, and he sucked down three slices and a big order of fried mushrooms. Then we headed to Lehighton to visit Matt Snyder's grave. They didn't have a tombstone put in yet.

We ended the get-together with a Whirlwind Old Ladies Tour. Ronnie had to go visit Chris's grandparents, Trevor's mom, Leanne's grandmother, and Ruth (his old neighbor).

I think I've seen more people I went to high school with today than I have any other vacation in the last two years (and plus I saw Jen and Amanda the other day).


My sister's friend Sara(h) was visiting today. And every time I walked in the room someone had to point out that this was Sara(h) Hartman. Yes, I know that I know her sister. Yes, she was in my class. Look, I've talked to Shannah maybe once since we graduated, and not very often before then. It's not like it's some major connection, especially considering how small this town is. Although I did learn through all this that Shannah is moving up in the world -- she's apparently living in Bowmanstown now.

I've also been playing a lot of Civilization. And I'm really bitter at the Senate. Normally my strategy is to build only enough military units to defend my cities, and focus all my resources on building city improvements and expanding my territory. If I want to take over enemy cities, I just build a spy and incite revolts. It's cheaper and causes much less damage than conquering them. But the darn Carthaginians switched to a democracy. You can't incite the citizens of a democracy to revolt (which is one of the reasons I always become a democracy as soon as I can). So I had to break out the cruise missiles and teach them a lesson (I didn't have to, but when it's 1850 and your spaceship is completed and you're just killing time until 2000 so that you can let your population expand as much as possible, you need to amuse yourself somehow). Then my own Senate meets with the Carthaginians behind my back and signs a cease-fire, and won't let me break it. Gah.

Before you think I have absolutely no life (well, I don't, but I'd rather you not think that) I actually started my paper based on my summer research today. I made a nifty flow chart for it and everything. I think I've written about 2000 words, and I've only just begun. And I get to ramble on about Harry Lourandos. Harry Lourandos is my hero. Upon further reflection, declaring that I have a favourite Australian archaeologist doesn't really do much to dispel the idea that I have no life.
Just for the heck of it I clicked on a bunch of the blogs listed under "recently updated" when I logged on to Blogger. Three of them were in Portuguese. That is really scary.
For no reason I can ascertain, someone changed the icon for the IE shortcut on the desktop of this computer to a little picture of a tree.
There was a paper wasp nest outside my window. I hadn't even noticed it, because it was up under the second story eaves. None of the wasps had tried to come in my windows, and I hadn't noticed any flying around outside (the nest was in the corner near the driveway, so you'd think I would have).

My dad decided to get rid of it today. So he came into my room with a broom and a can of Raid, and went to work. When he was done he had me come into the bathroom (to get a better angle to see the nest), and proclaimed, "I broke it open and soaked the eggs. Ha ha ha!" Later my mom came by and told me that dad had knocked a big chunk of the nest onto the sidewalk, and there were wasps staggering around it like they were drunk.

Now my dad is in his room with the stereo turned way up, rocking out to some old blues guitarist.


Today's excitements: Rain and mini golf. The rain didn't really cool things off, though. Bleh. Mini golf allowed me to hang out with Jen, the only friend in this town I see much anymore. But while we were sitting at a table adding up our scores (Jen beat me by 5 points), Amanda Samok walked up. It was strange. I haven't seen her in a long long time -- probably not since graduation. And then I randomly run into her at a mini golf course out past Lehighton. The course was in better shape than the one at Blue Mountain where I usually go. But I wish mini golf places would be more creative than the "big object straddling the center of the green" theme.
I took's Religion Selector test today. It was a tough test given that so many questions revolved around the afterlife, but my religious viewpoint encourages me to not concern myself with what may or may not happen after death. On the first try my top results were 100 Liberal Quaker, 93 Liberal Protestant, 90 Unitarian, and 78 Neo-Pagan. Second round gave me 100 Liberal Quaker, 100 Conservative Quaker, 91 Liberal Protestant, and 90 Unitarian. Newsweek had a little blurb on its Cyberscope page last week about how a disproportionate number of people had been getting Quaker as a top answer. I'm so typical. *sob* Now that I've read their little summary page on Quakers, I can certainly see how it fits, as their description of liberal quaking was a combination of a lot of liberal Protestant (which is how I identify myself) and Unitarian (which I praised in this space earlier) beliefs.
My brother got really lucky. Mr. Geiger, our town librarian, was ready to throw out the autobiography of Mr. T. Luckily my mom saw it and rescued it. It turns out Mr. T was a Boy Scout.

Ryan just called and gave me five more names of first-years who will be helping out with the Maroon-News orientation issue. I'm really surprised at how big a response we got, considering we start work on it in just over a week and the letters went out a week ago. Now we have to see if we can keep them on staff. Out of the ten people who worked on the Class of '02 orientation issue, only Alex and I are still on staff (and if Alex follows in the footsteps of past Senior Editors, we won't be seeing much of him around the office. Let's hope he's a Mike Karle instead of a Jon Egan).


Out of eight universities in New Zealand, only two (Auckland and Otago, conveniently located at opposite ends of the country) have any archaeology program whatsoever.

I had to drive today for the first time in a very long time, because a wheel fell off my dad's truck. He said it was just sitting in the Borough Hall parking lot and a wheel fell off. It's fixed now, but for most of the day I had to chauffeur my parents and my siblings around, because we were suddenly down to just one vehicle. It seems strange that only having one vehicle was such a hassle for us, especially considering all the places people were going (Borough Hall, Library, High School, grocery store) were in town. When I was little we lived a mile out of town and got by just fine on one vehicle. Maybe I just don't remember what a hassle it was because I was so young. There was so much stuff we didn't have back then. We didn't have a VCR until I was in third grade. We didn't get more than one TV station until fourth grade. We got our first video game system (a second-hand regular Nintendo) until I was in junior high. We didn't get a computer until two weeks before I left for college, and we didn't have the internet until a year later. Is this really progress? Or are we just creating more needs so that it's harder for the people who are behind in the game to catch up? Probably it's just an indication that I need to do this blogging when I'm less tired, so that there's a chance I might say something halfway original.

I was looking at some online personality test (no idea which one, although they're all basically the same and the results are usually not much better than a horoscope anyway), and I came across a question something like "Your friends come to you for help with..." And I honestly couldn't pick any of the choices, because there wasn't a "none of the above." My friends don't come to me with their problems. The whole concept of close friends that help each other through tough enotional crises is completely foreign to me. Which I think proves that I hang out with some really smart people. Because if you have a problem (aside from a purely technical issue like "how do I do tables in HTML" or "someone needs to do the dishes"), coming to me is the last thing that will help. I want to be a sympathetic, loving person. But I'm a complete failure at putting that into practice. I have a gift for saying the complete wrong thing when confronted with a sensitive issue (and sometimes I even manage to screw up a non-sensitive issue). So I suppose it's good that I don't need much emotional support, because I wouldn't be able to return the favor (being a heartless bastard has its advantages). Maybe that's why I like the internet so much -- all I'm ever required or able to do for anyone is to enclose their name in a series of parenthesees: (((Some Person))).
This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen/heard. If only they had more songs that I knew/liked.
If you don't understand something, it's either a conspiracy, space aliens, or a space alien conspiracy. Physics, for example, is clearly a space alien conspiracy.
Bush to Announce Decision on Stem Cell Research
Finally. At 9 tonight we'll know. I'm betting on "no." Bush has a tendency to make snap decisions on issues, without seeming to put a great deal of thought into them (maybe he does in private, but his public appearance is not one of careful deliberation). So his uncharacteristically long, agonizing struggle over the issue seems like a ploy to divert criticism from an unpopular stance (even many prominent conservatives, such as Nancy Reagan, as well as a majority of Catholic voters [though not the Church leadership] support the research). This way, if people try to argue against it, he can just point to his long period of official indecision and say "see, I've already considered all the arguments, and I've decided against it."


First off, another Atlas Shrugged observation: for all Rand loathes communism (though she doesn't call it by that name), there are some surprising similarities between her theories and those of Marx. For example, both believe that economic productivity is what gives meaning to people's lives, and that production that one does not keep or control is worthless and immoral.

I still haven't started the write-up for my summer research. I told myself I'd do it the last week I was at Colgate, but it didn't happen. So I told myself I'd do it over the weekend when I was home. That didn't happen. It's Wednesday, and I haven't written a word. I don't even know how long it will be (there's no length requirement on this -- just however long it needs to be to do justice to my research). I have finished all the reading I have for it, although I know there's plenty more reading I ought to do (which is fine, as this is in some ways just a preliminary draft of my thesis). But I hate writing a paper when I know there's reading on the topic that I haven't done, information that I haven't considered. On the bright side, I do have a nifty flow chart depicting the snowballing nature of hunter-gatherer intensification, combining the political and economic aspects. Which I'm sure is a topic you're all passionately interested in.
Today in the car, going to Woolrich (2 pairs of pants for $20), my dad told me "Stenny, you seem to have a lot of pent up rage against Australia. Why don't you call them up and just puke on the phone?"


I finally got a hit from a search engine. And oddly enough, the search string was australian core tool and scraper tradition is. Yet my page doesn't seem to show up in Google's results. Strange.

I reached the halfway point of Atlas Shrugged today. And I figured out what the problem is. Throughout the book, she's extoling Objectivism by setting her Objectivist protagonists against disreputable characters acting in the name of the "common good." It's pretty clear that she's trying to present a false two-option choice between Objectivism and a quasi-communist strawman version of altrusim. But today I realised an interesting contradiction in the way she does it. We're supposed to see Objectivism as better because it works -- Taggart Transcontinental and Rearden Steel are booming in the earlier part of the book, but as a rapid succession of restrictive laws are passed for the public good, the economy of the whole country goes down the tilet. So far, so good -- selfishness (lassiez-faire capitalism) brings prosperity, altruism (socialism) doesn't. But then it occurred to me why the "public good" laws seemed so terrible -- they weren't actually serving the public good. I want the restrictions lifted not so much because I see how unjust it is to Dagny and Hank and their fellow industrialists, but because she makes it clear that their immediate consequence is poverty for all. So we're presented with a false choice in the book. It isn't individual at the expense of the collective versus the collective at the expense of the individual. It's a choice between one system that serves the industrialists' self interest and the public good, and one that, while in the name of the public good, does neither. If she really wanted to be convincing (to the extent that a fictional economic situation would be "convincing"), she should show us one situation in which Rearden prospers and the public suffers, versus one where the public prospers at Rearden's expense, and try to get us to feel that the first is better. The second section of the book is titled "Either-Or," but what Rand is giving us is "both or neither."

I suppose one could make the argument that she wants to show that trying to do things in the name of the public good will bring harm to the public, while allowing people to pursue their own self-interest is ultimately in the public interest. However, that seems like a contradictory position in the context of Objectivism -- be selfish because it's in the best interests of everyone. She's trying to sell us on selfishness by appealing to the altruist in us. And I'm not buying it.
Eric was practicing his guitar, playing Radiohead's "Street Spirit." He told me "This song is worth more than Dave Brubeck's whole career. It's worth more than all the food Dave Brubeck ever ate. I bet Dave Brubeck eats crappy muffins."


...and a third post in rapid succession:

I just got the latest "Worm Quartet Update and Blatant Plug" email. Apparently WQ is playing its first live show ever in Syracuse on August 18. Which is something I would ordinarily shrug off. WQ is an ok band, and I've listened to his mp3s enough that I ought to buy the CD, but I doubt one man "electro-punk" would be much better live. However, the reason I'm mentioning this here is that WQ will be playing with, among others, the illustrious Dufus. That's right, two of the most obscure bands I know and like are playing a show together.
It seems Al Gore is growing a beard. The rematch in '04: fuzzy math vs. fuzzy cheeks.
April-Lyn and Amanda (in ApL's Reblogger) have raised the topic of offline journals. And that is what I shall talk about now.

I've never managed to keep a journal for very long. One summer (I think the one before sixth grade) I managed to write pretty much every day, but that ended as soon as school started again. A few years back my dad, inspired by the wisdom of his buddy Dr. Cyr, bought Eric and I hardcover blank books as an incentive for us to start keeping a journal. I think I lasted three days.

When I first encountered the concept of the blog (in the form of wockerjabby's old layout), I felt really weird about reading it. It was like, despite the prominent link in Rabi's sig on the Brunching UBB encouraging people to read wockerjabby, there was something unforgivably intrusive about reading someone's journal. It took Dave entered the blog world that I got comfortable reading them on a regular basis.

Now I'm a bit of a blog addict (as evidenced by how easily I was badgered into starting this blog). I have every intention of continuing to do this for as long as I have internet access. So the question becomes, why can't I keep a normal journal, but I blog with gusto?

The answer (as far as I can figure out at the moment): because this format isn't private. I bother to write things here because I want to share them with people. It's an extension of why I write for The Maroon-News, or post on the Brunching UBB. I was beginning to lose interest in blogging during the time between BlogVoices' death and the installation of Reblogger (and may very well have quit if I hadn't been blogsitting for Dave), because the lack of response made me feel like I was just typing this for my own health. Though I respect Dave's decision to ditch Reblogger and SiteMeter from Yuccacentric, when I read his explanatory post I couldn't help but feel that I was looking at blogging the opposite way. I'm not doing this because it's of value to me, I'm doing it because it's of value to you (assuming you're reading this of your own free will, which is sometimes hard for me to understand). Or rather, it's of value to me only because it's of value to you.

Since this is for an audience (and quite a mixed one at that -- Brunchmas, Colgate people, and my family), I'm obviously not writing my deepest secrets here. Which is how I want it. I don't like the thought of my deepest secrets being made concrete, in a form someone could read (even if precautions are taken to prevent that). I don't even like them written in a format I could go back and read later on. The example that comes to mind (which may be treading close to the line of deep secrets) is a crush I had on a certain girl through all of high school. The whole time, I avoided telling anyone, even my best friends. I certainly didn't ever write it down in any way. Midway through senior year I decided to see if I could. So I closed myself up in my room, got a scrap of paper, and scrawled something to the effect of "I like Liz" -- just a very brief sentence including her name. I looked at it for a couple seconds to confirm that I had indeed made my thoughts concrete in that fashion. Then I erased what I had written, scribbled heavily over the erased area, ripped the paper up, and stuffed it into the bottom of the trash can.

So any offline journal has nothing to say besides a dry recording of the day's events. With no audience, I have no motivation to say anything important. And in fact, I would tend not to. I don't like to set down thoughts just for the sake of recording them, because they'll change and develop into something better if I keep going over them in my mind. And I hate having old versions hanging around. I have at least six versions of the first chapter of my novel. Once I find one that satisfies me, I intend to throw the others out. Drafts are fine for getting feedback (which is what I do here), but I prefer to present the world (and myself) with only the finished product. A normal journal would trap my thoughts in an immauture stage, without bringing much benefit.

Also, I'm too lazy to write consistently unless people are expecting it of me.


I'm tired. Last night I stayed up far later than I intended. And I wasn't even doing anything important -- just reading up on alien astronauts and the Chupacabras over at the Skeptic's Dictionary. The altered summer worship schedule at my church prevented me from sleeping in later to make up for this.

This evening I went to the park to hear the Hazelton band play. It was a nice change of pace. And they played my favorite Sousa march, "El Capitan." But the director had no effective stage presence whatsoever. In introducing songs, he would make comments like "this song has a fast section, followed by a slow section, and then the fast section comes back."

Just now I have confirmed the veracity of the Oracle at Auntie Anne's, by consulting The Potato. The Potato answered with a seemingly unambiguous "ayup." However, ayup is a Maine phrase. The origin of the phrase and the questionable intellectual heritage associated with that state may allow certain reinterpretations of what the potato meant. This which would lead us to question if the suckitude of Maine exists independently of our need to tease April-Lyn and disparage Zomberg. There are clearly deep philosophical issues associated with the use of "ayup."
Eric is trying to help Zeke's friend Paul pick a name for his band. But Paul rejected "Spastic Lumber Camp Building" and "Be-Bop Paul and the Bagels of Misfortune." I'm sorry, Paul, but band names just don't get any better than that.


More stuff:

I finished Chariots of the Gods?, by Erich von Däniken, today. Sweet mother of Clinton this is an inane book. The premise is that all myths about gods visiting humans are referring to visits from aliens. I can't even begin to describe how blatant his errors in simple archaeological facts are. And then there are the gaping holes in his logic. How anyone can read this and take it seriously is quite beyond my comprehension. I suppose it's telling that the bulk of the book is spent decrying the close-mindedness of the establishment, and it's only as an afterthought that he remembers to try to provide any evidence for his theory. I can't even call it a theory, though, because that implies it has a basis in something. The only basis von Däniken has is the assumed colossal unimaginative stupidity of ancient people.

Then I started Atlas Shrugged. And I actually like it. I'd been warned that Rand's writing was horribly dense and melodramatic, but the story has flowed along quite well so far. The glorification of ruthless capitalism is painfully obvious, so there's a possibility that I may get tired of that after several hundred more pages. And I find myself barracking for James Taggart instead of Dagny, even though I know Dagny is supposed to be the heroine. We'll see how it goes. I need to stay focussed so I can read AS and still have time to read Inferno before school starts again. I mean, no matter how great Ayn Rand is, how can she compete with diagrams of Hell?
Dave is learning to play guitar, sandry is describing what a powerful experience playing in orchestra is, and I'm reminded how much I suck at music.

Music is kind of a weird thing for me. Playing music is really important to me. I can't imagine the last six years without being in various bands (thank you Kristin and Rebecca for talking me into joining marching band at the last possible minute and thus reawakening my interest). I get a huge feeling of accomplishment and belonging when I'm performing, or even just rehearsing. Hockey games are one of the most fun things I get to do at school. So sophomore year, I went to a Colgate hockey game (first round of the ECAC playoffs, home vs. Yale) that the band didn't play at. And even though it was an exciting game, and we won, the experience seemed really hollow. The whole time I just wanted to go over and stand with the Yale band. Well, except for when they were playing "Uncle Fucker." (I realised that I still know the words to at least the whole first verse of that song. Darn you, Gary, for borrowing Mike's South Park CD!)

But the thing is, I'm a terrible musician. You'd think that since I've been playing for 12 years (minus the five months I was in Australia), I should be pretty good. Anything else I value so much -- drawing, writing, origami, web design -- I work at and work at, to get things right. I'll freely admit what a perfectionist I am. But that doesn't happen with music. I practice infrequently, just enough to keep my skills from regressing. I know a little more about how music is put together than I did a few years ago, but my ability to play it -- even just basic scales -- is no better. I listen to too much John Mars and not enough Miles Davis. And though I complain about it to myself (and now here in public), I really can't motivate myself to practice more.

Learning to play the piano is on my list of things to do before I die. But if I can't master the trumpet after 12 years, how am I going to manage an instrument that requires thinking about several notes at once? I suppose I'll just console myself with the fact that I'm pretty good at air drums.
I just discovered that, on my family's computer, they have Internet Explorer's homepage set to about:blank, and Netscape's set to I find this highly amusing.


Maybe if I sit here and start writing a long post, it will jinx my dad into ahowing up.

Today was the last day of the Oneida Workshop. We brought the kids to the lab, had them clean all the stuff we found this week, then took them to Mr. Ed's for ice cream. It was kind of sad to see it all end. Not in a sappy "I feel down because the workshop is over" kind of way, or "I cried when I realised I'd never hear Tupac offering his colorful thoughts on female dogs, African Americans, and people who enjoy sexual intercourse with their parents from Carl's enormous headphones." It's just that the past two weeks I felt like I was really working, for the first time in a long time. Maybe it's just the fact that it was physical labor that left me tired enough to feel like I could indulge in a nice lounge around when I got home, but not mentally demanding enough to impinge upon my chosen methods of amusement (such as sitting here typing into Blogger). But aside from that, I think it's also because what we were doing was real -- a real site, real artefacts, which we were really destroying in order to learn about it. As I'm typing this, I realise how incredibly trite that sounds. But just because a feeling is common doesn't make it invalid, does it? I can't be coming up with profound and original breakthroughs all the time. Of course, having been at this for four weeks or so now, I'm probably due for some profundity.

No dad yet. I need another thought.

I decided just now that if you have more than a cubic meter of stuff, you have too much. I'm looking at all my boxes piled in the corner, and it seems like when I add the things that are piled on my dresser but not packed yet (due to lack of boxes), it will add up to about a cubic meter minus computer. So I have too much stuff. I wonder how I ever made it all semester in Australia with only two suitcases and a backpack full of stuff. Granted, I didn't take my stereo and I didn't have a computer. And this calculation doesn't take into account all the stuff that I use, but don't own -- a refrigerator, a stove, a washing machine, etc. Prof. Kerber and Siobhan were issuing dire warnings about the amount of stuff one accumulates when one owns a house. And volume is actually a rather silly way to measure the degree of a person's materialism -- if I had a laptop instead of a desktop computer, I'd cut the biggest item I have down to a fifth its size or so (not counting the extra room the packaging for the computer takes up). But I still look at the pile and say, "wow, that's an awful lot of stuff to be dragging around." I want to be like a nomad, not owning any more than I can carry on my back. But what stuff could I get rid of? And again, why is it volume that's so important? Maybe because volume makes the situation look better than weight. Well, for me at least, becuase a lot of my stuff is paper (books). Paper is incredibly heavy for its size.

Still no dad. He's 18 minutes late so far (by my clock). I think I'm going to go waste time elsewhere.
Ooh, it looks like Colgate's ftp is working again. So I can publish now. Huzzah!
This is weird.

Last fall, when I went to Australia, I took a hiatus from the Brunching UBB. I quickly went into bulletin board withdrawal, so I ventured into the Washington Post's OnPolitics forums. I didn't post very much there, because the volume of activity was so great, and too much of the conversation was about "$hrub" and "albore." But I did comment from time to time. This forum has a feature that sends you an email every time someone replies to a post you made (that is, they specifically comment on your post, not just reply to the whole thread). Today I got an email saying someone had replied to a post I made on August 24 regarding embryonic stem cell research. It's amazing that the same thread managed to stay active all that time, considering every new development in the debate among our leaders would have spawned a news story and therefore a new thread.


Done. 800 envelopes, addressed to the members of Colgate's class of 2005, stuffed and sealed. Now they can all read Ryan's joyous letter inviting them to participate in the Orientation Issue.

I'm still debating opening up and re-stuffing the two dozen that I forgot to put the subscription letter in. And I missed my chance to add a snarky note to Amanda's, because I was on auto-lick when I went through Massachusetts (yes, the mailing list of first-years is organized geographically. Although I can't figure out why it goes California - Hawaii - Oregon.)
I'm licking 800 envelopes. Yum.
Nobody commented on the Dirty/Clean Song. How sad.


I did something very scary today. I went to the library and signed out a copy of Atlas Shrugged. For starters, it's 1168 pages long (and I expect to read it and several other things over the next two weeks). More importantly, it's Ayn Rand. I'm really hoping that USADave of Brunching UBB fame and the good folks at are doing an exceptionally poor job of explaining and applying Objectivism. I don't think I can take 1000 pages of "a is a, which proves that my assumptions about things must necessarily be the Truth" and "all environmentalists want all people dead."

I also got Dante's Inferno and two books on New Zealand. Hopefully those will help me keep my sanity.