Friday, June 25, 2004

It was a fun weekend in Chicago. It seems the world is not often that fun.

The drive up was pleasant, although I had the sun shining in my face as I drove on I-24 at the beginning of my trip. I didn't get into e-town until early friday morning, but the boys were still awake, and I was treated to Naruto until later than I care to admit. What can I say, the series has grown on me. Friday I was lazy and took the el up to central to see commencement. As I was sitting in the stands, looking through the program to make sure that everyone I thought was graduating was indeed graduating, a woman behind me leaned over and asked "so, will yourr name be in there one day?"

I turned and said somewhat apologetically, no, it would not, but only because it had been in the previous year's. She was embarrassed and explained that I had looked about fourteen years old. Hopefully I can maintain that illusion for a decade or two more.

Tom Brokaw spoke... he amazed me by actually mentioning such ancient history as the embassy bombings in Africa, the WTC bombing, and the attack on the USS Cole. Overall I was impressed that he didn't sound more partisan than he did. I did think though that there was an almost palapable derision for anyone who was not Tom Brokaw eminating from him... subtle, but still there. Maybe not though... and indeed, it may not be his fault if he is continually being offered doctorates from prestigious schools across the country. If I had two dozen doctorates, I'd be a bit stuck up too...

After the ceremony I wandered around the exit areas, trying to apprehend any people I knew. I think I scared BK when I nearly lept upon him. I saw more peeps for brief intervals, and then bumped into Kevin, Mark, Sharon and Chung-yu. I had been unaware that Kevin's sister was going to graduate in three years, so I had not been expecting to see him. We ended up going to dinner together... I felt really fortunate to see everyone.

Saturday night was the bachelor event for Jeremy. I ended up being the only NU friend of Jeremy's to come along (although thankfully Niven showed up later). So myself, Jeremy, and four HK boys took the el to Belmont for all-you-can-eat sushi and beer. Interestingly the restaurant was BYOB, so we stopped at a belmont liquor store... interesting place... never been carded before just for walking into a liquor store. Also, evidently the place was open 24 hours, since all their prices went up 20% after 2am. We grabbed some Asahi and Sapporo and headed to the restaurant. Ate a lot and laughed alot. Two of Jeremy's friends from HK were a pair of twin brothers. They reminded me of two of my friends from high school mixed together, homogenized, and then cut in half to form twins. Very weird. Fun though... we heard that the girls may have had even more fun though... all I want to know though is when did the Anthropology department start storing so much alchol at the office?

Sunday was the wedding proper. It was not huge... the bride's biological family after all was not at the ceremony. I think though that all of the couple's friends did an admirable job filling in for that roll. Saw a great number of friends who I didn't expect, and overall had a great time at the reception. I suggested in jest that more people need to get married so that everyone has an excuse to get together more often... then I found out about the great number of people who are getting married. Rather unbelievable actually...

Sunday night Carl was already off, but I spent some time gaming and conversing with Cliff and Felix. Speaking of whom, I've added a new link...

The drive home did not seem at all like a 9 hour drive... it seemed just a tad longer than the drive to Madison from Chicago. Perhaps I was asleep most of the way? At least this time there was less roadkill.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

When a scientist performs an experiment, they ususally do so with some
expected result in mind. A chemist does not usually mix many unknown
chemicals together without knowing their properties just to see what
happens. There is no absolute certainty that the expected result will
obtained, (it wouldn't be an experiment then) but the expected result
the process.

There are two basic reasons why a researcher might not obtain the
result. One is that they screwed up somewhere along the line. They
may not
have followed the protocol as carefully as they needed to. They may
made an unjustified assumption in desgining the experiment and
forgotten to
control some variable. They may have mislabeled their test-tubes after
sleeping only four hours the night before. All sorts of things could
wrong. When something like this happens, unexpected results usually
the researcher to go over what they did and try it again, hopefully
whatever went wrong in the process. If problems are dealt with, then
expected result should be obtained, at least after some trial and

But what if the researcher did not make any mistakes? The protocol was
followed, variables were controlled for, test-tubes were properly
What if the results are still not what you expected. Then... then the
results must be interpreted. I would wager that many of the most
discoveries in science are the result of this type of experiment.
Everything was done properly, but somehow you don't end up with what
expected. That means you have to reevaluate your expectations, and
you think you know about whatever it is you're studying. The new data
doesn't fit into your old model... you may need a new model... and
where spectacular discoveries can take place.

I've just received unexpected results from one of my recent
I'm trying to figure out for which of the two reasons I obtained the
unexpected results. In this case, I don't think either answer will be
entirely satisfactory...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In the world of emotions, if feeling good and feeling bad are at opposite ends of a line, then what two points define a line that lies orthogonal or skew to line good->bad?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Oh, and how could I forget...

The bear commercial.

Holy Crap.


I need to know who that announcer dude is.

Also, if you have a divx version of the made for tv movie "The Day After" which aired in 1984, I would like that as well.
I was watching a PBS retrospective on the Reagan administration last night. I think it must have been Frontline or at least it had that announcer. It was very interesting, since I was at an a-political age for essentially all of the Reagan administration... actually my first memories of a political nature revolve around tittering about jokes some classmates were making about thw two presidential contenders in the '88 election. Anyhow, I noticed some similarities between the Reagan admin and the current one. There were evidently big anti-US (veiled as anti-nuclear weapons, but really only anti-US-nuclear weapons) protests going on both at home and in Europe. They even had giant puppets, just like the current anti-(US)-war movement. Reagan was dismissed as a "cowboy"... gee where have we heard that... He was viewed as turning his back on decades worth of foreign policy expertise in the form of detente and containment... policies that had worked oh so well in the '70's. I'm really not sure whether the comparison was encouraging or not... on the one hand, it suggests that Bush may indeed be able to succeed in creating a better world for the next two decades... on the other hand, the fact that we've still got crazies making the same critiques is not too encouraging... hopefully they're actually the same people and not new ones, and will therefore be likely to die off in the near future.

Also, what ever happened to ole' Mikhail Gorbachev? Man, that guy should have had his own talk show in the '90's... or a sitcom, or something... Is he even alive anymore?

I've finished reading No Better Place to Die. There are some rather poignant descriptions of the reaction of Confederate soldiers to their army's withdrawl after the battle. They were convinced that they had licked the Yanks, and were disenheartened when Gen. Bragg ordered them to retreat. The Yanks were the ones who were supposed to do the retreating. It's understandable really... men who had fought their hardest, watched their comrades fall, and been convinced that victory was their rightful reward were instead ordered to pack up and march through freezing rain and knee-deep mud back down south. It was not a triumphal march. They still had the cause to fight for, but I can't imagine that many felt like there was much point in what they had just fought for. Of course, they would go on to greater victories and even greater defeats in the future, but as they marched through the early January cold of middle Tennessee, all that was as unknowable as the inky blackness of the night through which they marched.

I ran through a thunderstorm to come in to lab tonight to write this.

The rain tasted almost sweet on my lips.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Anyone else find the idea that there is actually a minor league team named the "Isotopes" hilarious?

Albuquerque Isotopes.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Well, this is no good...
While the boys were down here this weekend, I copied some cds containing episodes of a new anime series, Naruto. It's an interesting series, and I was able to get 40+ episodes, which I figured would be enough to tide me over unitl I visit Chicago in a couple of weeks should I really like the show. Unfortunately, it seems I missed three episodes in the middle of those 40+, and I'm rather loathe to continue watching the later episodes. The last episode I watched seemed to be setting up a rather important story line, and I think I'd miss out on alot by not watching the next three in chronological order.

Oh well, I'll just have to wait it out... backwards...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

And in honor of the gaming done this weekend, I hereby open up a new weblog, devoted to our ever expanding pool of ancients armies.

Armati Rankings Weblog

I've updated the link at right, and the new site has additional links of interest as well.

Not necessarily news of great interest to all of my readership, but I have to advertise where I can...
It was a great weekend.... and then the week showed up.

Friday night some of the HUNS arrived in town. We went for pizza, grabbed some adult beverages, and settled in for a quick game of Armati II. We matched up Cliff's newly painted Persians against his Macedonians... a classic matchup. The Persians looked like the graduating class from clown college in 1976... gaudy to the max. The ended up beating Alex and his phalanxes. It was foreshadowing things to come.

Saturday we drove down to the 'boro to visit the Stones River ACW battlefield. We were lucky enough to be there when a groups of reenactors were giving some demonstrations and got to watch a 6lber get fired off. We spoke at some length with a couple of the boys. I'd really like to get into reenacting, but it's so darn expensive! Perhaps I could enlist as a drummer boy... then I wouldn't need to purchase a rifle or powder. I'm certainly short enough and have a soft enough face.

Anyhow, the battlefield itself was a bit harder for me to conceptualize than the Chickamagua battlefield which is the ACW site I last visited. This was in part due to the nature of the monument, and in part due to my lack of detailed knowledge on the course of the battle. This is being rectified at the moment, since while we were at the visitor's center, I picked up "No Better Place to Die" by Cozzens. His work on Chickamagua was masterful, and I'm finding this volume on Stones River equally engrossing. Carl and I were both motivated to paint more ACW minis.

After a day at the battlefield we headed back into town, and met up with Di for dinner at Salathai. Thankfully the dish I got there this time was much better than what I had last time. The rest of the evening was consumed with ancients. I won't go into the details here (although you can see the updated stats here), but suffice it to say there were some rather spectacular upsets, and the course of the tournament was not one we would have predicted going in. It was great fun though (although the championship round was a bit anticlimactic, due at least in part to fatigue on our part).

Monday morning saw the boys off to OK and the airport. When I got to work, I found out both that the president of my birthday had died over the weekend, and that someone had made illicit internet payments using my credit card. So, a less than stellar ending to an otherwise wonderful Midway weekend.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything since last Wednesday...

Well... as it turned out, the POTUSA was in Nashville on Thursday, and indeed, he was visiting the Vanderbilt Medical Center.

What follows is an entirely not made up account of what transpired last thursday.

I was minding my own business, walking to work... My "normal" route had been compromised for the last week or so by construction going on outdoors. I'd developed a slightly longer alternate route that took me inside Light Hall, and then essentially into the basement and under the construction. Well... I get into Light Hall, and there are a bunch of doctors/med students lounging about (it is a med school building after all). They think they're so great in their white coats drinking their martinis... (there were no martinis actually present as far as I know).

Well, I get to the bank of elevators that I normally take to the basement, and there are saw horses blocking them off. So, I decide to take the back stairs. As I'm walking towards the alcove that houses the door to the stairwell a big suit steps in front of me. I'm unable to manuver out of the way in time, and we lightly bump.

"Excuse me," I say as I attempt to manuver around.

The suit puts a hand on my shoulder.

"You can't go this way."

Mildly annoyed at what seemed like obvious doctor snobbishness I ask "what's up doc? You got the area quarentined? Anyhow, don't worry, I'm just taking the stairs."

Now, the suit has made no move to get out of my way...

"I'm not a doctor, and these stairs are closed. "

"Oh, I'm sorry, you had me fooled with that stick up your ass... look, if it will make you feel better you can watch me walk down the stairs," I offer condescendingly.

Obviously tiring of our interaction, and attempting to sway me with an appeal to authority, the suit said "Look, I'm secret service, and this area is closed off for security purposes."

At that moment I remembered that there was indeed a presidential visit scheduled for the day...
Adopting as helpful a tone as I can muster, I say "I know you're not supposed to do racial profiling... but do I really look like a tin-foil hat wearing leftist?" Given my student like appearence with backpack and headphones this was perhaps not a convincing argument...

"This area is closed, end of discussion."

I backed away, but I wasn't willing to be cowed. As more people moved in and out of the lobby, I watched the fellow carefully. About three minutes later, he turned for a moment to address a white coated doctor. I made my move.

"Stop! You can't go that way!" I heard behind me before the stairwell door shut. I was down the flight in an instant and out the bottom door. I wasn't clear yet though, as I could hear the top door opening and footsteps coming down. Thankfully I was now in the basement of the medical center, with hallway after hallway of different routes to choose. I ran to the left, towards what I knew to be the food service and linens facilities of the hospital.

"There he is!" I heard behind me as I rounded the corner. I had not been quite fast enough. I made a right and then two quick lefts. I was the only one in the hall. To my right was the entrance to the hospitals laundry facility. I'd never personally entered the area before, but I figured it was as good a place to lay low as any. Opening the door, I headed to the back of the room, weaving in between basins and bins of bed-clothes. I knelt down behind a four foot tall pile of white sheets, and watched the doorway.

Moments later I briefly saw two clean-cut, sunglass wearing heads rush past the small window on the laundry room door.

I was about to sigh in relief when I was interrogated.

"Whatcha doin hea?" A spindly looking gentleman with short curly silvered hair asked.

"I uh.. I think I'm lost... I'm looking for Medical Research Building 3... do you know where that is?" I stammered, standing.

"You should be taking those stairs there. Should take you where you need to go." He pointed to a door at the far end of the room.

"Thanks," I offered, as I turned and walked towards it.

In the stairwell I sighed. Then I walked up the flight, and opened the door. I was met by a black curtain. Moving sideways, I felt along the curtain until I discovered a break. I peered through.

I was in the press pool.

Damn it.

Reporters were milling about while technicians played with mics and cameras. I was about to turn and go back down the stairs the way I came when a voice at the other end of the room said "It's time." The dull murmer of chatter died off, and the room began to empty at the other end. When no one was left, I stepped out from behind the curtain and made my way across the room, careful not to trip over the various wires and extension cords that still crisscrossed the floor.

I opened the door the reporters had used to exit.

And entered presidential Q&A.

George was on the stage behind a smallish podium, while rows of seated reporters were lined up in two columns in front of him.

Unable to gracefully exit, I selected a seat at the rear, next to a fellow holding a conventional camera with a huge flash mechanism. At least I think it was a flash mechanism. I sat there for sometime, listlessly listening to the reporters inane questions.

"Mr. President, does your visit to the medical center indicate that you desire SecDef Rumsfeld's resignation?"

"Mr. President, having seen the cafeteria here, did Halliburton contract for the dining facilities at Abu Gharib?"

"Mr. President, does your visit to Nashville demonstrate how poorly your administration has performed?"

On and on they went. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. Standing, I whipped out my mp3 player and held it towards the president like a hand-held tape recorder.

"Mr. President, Clarksville Daily News and Telegramaphone, I declared. Seeing no recognition on the president's face I continued. "Have you read the website IMAO, and if so, what are your thoughts on Frank's characterization of yourself and your cabinet?"

The president stood for a long moment looking at me. I thought I was busted.

Then he smiled.

"Of course, I'm familiar with the site. Frank is a great writer. I like the "In My World" features especially. Laura and I have even taken to calling Scott "Tubby" when we're alone. "

There was a palpable murmuring from the reporters. Then the curtain to the president's left rear moved aside, and the same suit who had hassled me earlier.

"There he is!"

I've already rattled on for long enough, and the story of my escape would take much longer to tell. Needless to say there were man-eating crocodiles, a leggy brunette Department of the Interior intern, and a USMC Harrier VTOL aircraft (among other things) involved. I think everything has been resolved satisfactorily, although I can't set foot in the District of Columbia until September 17th 2007, and if I ever visit Monaco, I'm going to need to dye my hair blonde.