Archive for May, 2007

Coming up for air, #2

May 30, 2007

Hooray for good weather. Hooray for USFS wilderness. Hooray for self-enforced sabbath.

Obscure notes for the future (about Lowder Mountain):

  • At the trailhead, make sure to go RIGHT. The leftside trail leads down French Pete Creek.
  • The junction to the summit is really obvious. Wait until the junction instead of short-cutting up the ridge.
  • The summit is huge, with plenty of campspots.

Adventures with Beef

May 29, 2007

Hey its Memorial Day, and John found a DELICIOUS steak marinade:

Modernism R.I.P.

May 28, 2007

Sometimes I forget: deconstructionism is over. Modernism was yesterday, and John Cage is dead.

Tonight I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra, directed by Christopher Eschenbach. They’re on tour, with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (plus an encore: Dance of the Comedians from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride). Anyway, my point is that all these pieces are pre-modern! Lately, its been hard to go to the symphony without hearing Shostakovitch AGAIN. Not to be misunderstood, I love Shostakovitch. . . but modernism rejects everything that came before: classical complexity and romantic sincerity. These days, I think that complexity and sincerity are woefully absent.

Many people describe postmodernism as tongue-in-cheek, nihilistic, and “meta.” These descriptions are true, but I think postmodernism can also be about embracing the past and connecting with art on its own terms: classical, romantic, or whatever. Tonight embodies my vision of “optimistic” postmodernism: a packed auditorium reconnecting with Mozart’s flirty genius and Berlioz’s rich emmotionality. Cheers to our post-future.

Sensible advice #1

May 27, 2007

When you get tired of chasing bibtex entries, go for a hike!

Stick a fork in me.

May 23, 2007

My midterm exam for parallel programming was VERY LONG.

For a taste of the fun, try this problem: Use the Floyd-Warshall algorithm (for finding the shortest path between all vertices) to label connected components in a binary pixelmap. Unfortunately, the F-W algorithm runs in O(n^3). Make your PARALLEL algorithm run in O(n^2).

Maybe I’ll post a solution later this week. . .

Little Green Men

May 20, 2007

Today was the UFO festival, in McMinnville Oregon. The festival is a good opportunity to wrap yourself in aluminum foil and dye your hair green. Although the focus is UFOs, I saw plenty of Klingons, storm troopers, and golden retrievers dressed as aliens. Basically, today was an anachronistic blend of Mardi Gras beads, garish hippie hats, and left-over supplies from my sixth grade science fair.

Jon joined me, and we rendezvous-ed with Kynthia and Tiffanie. The four of us made a well-balanced group. There was much hilarity with cameras, water gun hijinx, and a little existential ennui. Earl joined us for lunch, and I much appreciated his laid-back Southern attitude.

After the festival, I have more questions than answers:

Click here for more photos.

Coming up for air

May 15, 2007

I just returned from a quick overnight trip to the Three Sisters Wilderness. The highlights are: I slept on a mountaintop; the stargazing was incredible; I had several epiphanies about my thesis project.

Obscure notes for the future:

  1. Good campsites are found on the ridge west of the fire lookout.
  2. Trail 3324 and 3323 both lead to the top. 3324 is the direct route, but its steep. 3323 is the long route (along the creek), but the grade is mellow.
  3. Both trails are overgrown with bracken. . . which is like walking through a cheese grater.
  4. Trail 3323 does not have many (or any) flat spots for camping

It sounds like this…

May 14, 2007

Sabbath, or something like it

May 14, 2007

I just spent ten hours writing C code, but I spent most of the time catching silly typographic errors in the compiler. Was that really productive?

My problem is that I keep working through the weekend. Too many times, I arrive at Monday morning exhausted from a 48-hour code marathon. I like working hard to make things excellent, but we have to draw some boundaries.

So, my resolution is to practice a self-enforced Sabbath. However, my Sabbath isn’t always on Sunday, or Saturday, or whatever-day. If the weather is nice, and I’ve been working hard for several days, then its Sabbath.

So this week? I’m going hiking on Tuesday.


May 11, 2007

During the Heian period (794-1192), a season of peace and tranquility blossomed in feudal Japan. From this time of Zen, we get the word “aware” (pronounced ah-wah-ray). Aware does not easily translate into English. In modern Japanese, aware literally means “miserable,” but the original meaning is more subtle. In the Zen tradition, aware is a sensitivity to the sadness of impermanence. This sadness feels like a longing for something far away. . .

Aware is listening to the ocean in a seashell.

Aware is watching sunshine on aspen leaves.

Aware is finding photographs of old friends.

Aware is realizing that someday all the people I love will be gone.

Aware is a call to action, and a reason to embrace this moment.