Thursday, November 30, 2006

From The Genesee Diary

Did I really live my life or was it lived for me? Did I really make the decisions that led me to this place at this time, or was I simply carried along by the stream, by sad as well as happy events? I do not want to live it all again, but I would like to remember more, so that my own little history could be a book to reflect on and learn from. I don't believe that my life is a long row of randomly chained incidents and accidents of which I am not much more than a passive victim. No, I think that nothing is accidental but that God molded me through the events of my life and that I am called to recognize his molding hand and praise him in gratitude for the great things he has done to me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Out and about

I've been working hard and reading a lot. I bought Salem's Lot to read while our tires got rotated and balanced and ended up gulping it down. And one of our tires was way out of balance.

I picked up some more library books about computers. I found one on JavaScript, which is the technology that allows you to program web applications. And I still have some about multi-threading and distributed programming (roughly, making your computer do several things at once and making several computers do several things at once). My class project for data mining is to take a web crawler and make it so it can split up the crawl for several bots to work individually.

A blast from my childhood: Scorched 3D, a fully-3D, beautiful, fun remake of Scorched Earth, perhaps the quintessential old-school tank deathmatch game. It is internet ready, so get out your funky bombs and hot napalm and blast away.

Thanksgiving was good for our family. I made mashed potatoes with Boursin, a soft cheese with garlic and herbs (instructions: mash a thing or two of Boursin into your potatoes). Sarah's grandmother made most of the dishes, but we all contributed a little. Sarah made a chocolate trifle (a word which will probably always make me think "beef, sauteed with peas and onions"); I crushed the Heath bars in their wrappers with the back of a spoon while our son slept upstairs.

I've been feeling really exhausted lately, but I'm still going to finish the next installment on Anna Karenina if it kills me. Coming soon!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Hi everyone. We've been a little sick with a nasty cold around here. Not the best week for it.

Yesterday, Sarah and I got to go out for a movie date. We get about two of these a year, so it was an event. If you ever want to just see and enjoy a movie in the theater, go to the late afternoon matinee on Wednesday (and avoid the kid movies and that crowd). Sarah and I practically had the theater to ourselves. Another couple came in after us during the previews, but the projector people still turned on the lights in the first few minutes of the movie, presumably to see if they needed to continue showing it.

The movie was Stranger than Fiction. As an aside, "Two thumbs way up" will always get me to a movie. I pay close attention to Ebert [spoiler alert!] and friends because they aren't afraid to give thumbs down to crappy or even dull, marginal movies, and because they at least have some editorial point of view. And they were right this time, this movie rules my world. I would see it again today if I could.

The acting was great. Will Ferrell, in particular, is just perfect. It's well-written and honest, and smart.

Unfortunately, everything else I want to say about this awesome movie would require me to spoil the ending. So go see the movie a few times, then hover over the following series of asterisks, full of spoilers, to see what I think. I had to use short sentences so the hovering works in Firefox, but be assured that there are a few paragraphs behind all these thoughts.

* * * * *

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Postcards from your garden gnome

I've had a strange week. I feel unmotivated, but excited for the future. I feel full of malaise, but not depressed. I think Amelie (real title: Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain) was the right movie to see under the circumstances. It was fabulously French and weird and just note perfect.

I looked up tonight from Workout Mode and found I'd been dancing on a pad for about forty minutes. Those are 500 calories I'll never see again. According to Workout Mode.

Today I sang Alex songs about koalas and gorillas from his Baby Einstein picture books. They didn't actually come with music. That was all up to me. I have more songs going too. I got the good idea to just play and play and tape myself onto the computer with Audacity. Maybe those tunes that always bump around in my head will never get lost now.

Now that you've read this post, I assign you the task of auditing my papers after I die. Only you and the whole internet will know that there are secret songs on my hard drive. Plus all the flotsam and jetsam I wrote down lo these many years. It's in my will, you're legally bound now.

I've had pentameter lines running around as well. Here is one from a couple weeks back, when I took Alex and Sarah to his language giddyup class, then walked to the USU student center on a clear winter morning:

A sky so blue the towering mountains bow

It was really like that. And here's a quatrain from a sonnet yet to be completed, yet to be called "Hearing Things." I thought it up while I was walking to the grocery store and Subway for lunch, after listening to the song "Lullaby" on the new Dixie Chicks album while driving. [If you've known me for a long time, you might know that I used to describe my taste in music as "everything", with these two exceptions: "country" and "opera". Happily, I came around on the opera and I especially like the ones where people sing ordinary things in these opera voices. Like "Hooooney... Wherrre Is my Brrrrrrush?" "Wherrreverr you Left! It!" And I have heard that this Dixie Chicks album is "crossover" so I can still hate on the "country".]

I am not sure exactly which quatrain of the three in the nascent sonnet the following should be:

It's been a while since I have lived and breathed
A hearing thing within a world of sound
I feel the voices rumble underground
I feel them, though I never once believe

That third line isn't quite right, is it? I tried it as "I feel vibrations rumbling underground". I think a lot will depend on the other ten lines, and maybe that's why it doesn't fit yet. That, and the word "believe" is bothering me too. But I'll never change the first two lines, even if I live to fifty.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

5:00 on the East Coast

It's just a few more hours until the election returns start coming in. I'm nervous for our country, as you could find out by reading a few of the posts I've tagged with "politics". I'm nervous that when the dust settles, we won't get accountability for the executive, the torture policies, the war profiteering in Iraq, the illegal spying on the phones and the Internet (and targeted surveillance of left and antiwar groups!), the signing statements, the run-up to the Iraq war, the loss of practical governance and good government, the wildly careening budget deficit, the corruption at the highest levels, the collapse of our foreign policy, and the abolition of habeas corpus and fair trials for the usual suspects in our forgotten terrorist prison cells.

This is a housecleaning moment for the United States. Vote for answers. The Republican Congress hasn't asked the tough questions. Vote for a Congress that will. The President has made clear his intention to stay the course in Iraq. Vote for a Congress that will make him change the course.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I worked all evening on an assignment that was due yesterday. I had the day wrong. And the teacher doesn't accept late work.

My consolation is that I did a good job, and it would've been on time.

Also, I had a positive meeting on my research, so that softens the blow. But I wanted my 5 points.

I've been working hard on Anna Karenina, Part I, Chapters 9 through 11. Should be ready soon.


I've been pretty busy with school.

I saw the first episode of Firefly the other night. It was rather good.

I made a nuclear pumpkin for Halloween. Sarah took a picture of it. (I did the yield sign too, but I wasn't as pleased with the results.) It is competing with the Batman pumpkin I did last year for my all-time favorite.

The discussion about Christianity in the last post continued.

I guess I should also say that I've been going back and tagging earlier posts that seem to fit into broad categories. So you could have all the Anna Karenina posts on one page, if you like. I've picked a few like books, movies, religion, politics. I'm not sure how to expose these labels to you the reader yet, nor if there's any way you could skip posts you didn't care about (like the Anna Karenina ones). But it's there if you can use it.

I am exhausted.