Does it hurt?

Every time.
Halloween 2007

I went as Wolverine to the Halloween dance, and met up with a few other marvel heroes there, including Gambit, Iron Man, Captain America, and Magneto


Geeking out

There's something very very exciting about unpacking 1.5 TB of HDDs and 4 GB of RAM.

If you didn't understand that last sentence, don't worry, it's not contagious.



Going on vacation in the Northwoods is fun, because you get exciting local news like this:
Double Drive-by Shooting! ...of two cows.

Weekly Police Blotter: 4 deer hit, 1 bear.

Deer Hunt within City Limits Approved
"As well as thinning the herd within the city limits, twenty deer from the 2006 hunt went to the food pantry. Over 1,170 pounds of venison was distributed to the hungry."


I love my family

Because they do things like this.
I'm chatting with my sister from my basement, and she send me this: "Immured in her ivory-ivy turret, the maiden used her wondrous powerful silver box to send secret messages to her brother in the dungeon below..."


Pomegranate Folly

So, I finished a fairly long day of work, with lots of cable-running, wire pulling, drilling through 2x4s, chiseling through concrete blocks, driving in an unair-conditioned car, and I finish up in Wilmette. So I'm thinking about the long drive home, on the tollway, in rush hour traffic, when I see a Starbucks.


So I go inside, thinking of the rich, lush flavor of Pomegranate iced and mixed into cold refreshing goodness...and they don't carry Pomegranate Frappuchinos anymore.


However, they do still have tangerine, which is a good substitute. So I make my purchase, carry it to my car, and am in the middle of calling a friend to tell her about my good fortune in finding such relief, when I pull out of the parking lot, and time slows down as momentum inexorably pulls the top heavy cup over, out of the tiny cup holder, and as it tumbles through the air the contents spill out slowly, the cold ice crystals spraying delicately onto the floor.


So, as I drove home through the rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic, in my nonair-conditioned van, I got to savor the sweet tangerine smell which reminded me of the cleaning I'd have to do when I got home. Mmmmm.


Newton: Pride cometh before a fall

I found a draft of this while looking through my old posts, and realized I had written it four months ago and forgotten to post it.
Here you go:

Yesterday was a triumphant day in lab class.
One of my classmates, who has a reputation for thinking that he knows better than the authors we read what they ought to write, and is fond of attempting to correct the argument of Aquinas, was doing a prop in lab. We've gotten used to his overbearing manner, but this time it was insufferable. It might have been that he was showing off to his little brother, who was sitting in on the class, but his attitude was driving the rest of us into the wall, by constantly using such phrases as, "this is so obvious I don't even know why he bothers to say it," "It is manifest that," and "It's the most obvious thing possible." Our tutor, Dr. Decaen, at one point asked him about the third line from the bottom. The student answered a question about the fourth line from the bottom, whereupon Dr. Decaen pointed out that he had asked about the third line, although the student was right, and the actual question had to do with the fourth line. Whereupon our villain responded, "Well, I thought you couldn't be asking about the line, because only an idiot would question that." At this point, the entire class was just shocked at his pompous, arrogant manner, too stunned to reply.
Next, he mentioned that, "while Newton's way of proving this works, I've devised a better and simpler way of doing it. Here, I'll show you." And he proceeded on his merry way to destruction.
Unfortunately for him, his proof involved claiming that the areas of triangles are in the same ratios of their height. Each one of us learned freshman year that they are in the duplicate ratio of their height. However, most of the class wasn't even playing attention by this point, so we didn't notice, but something about the way he said, "You'll grant me that..." bothered me, and I stared at the line for a bit. He was proceeding to the next line when I stopped him by pointing to his line about the direct proportion and stated, "That's wrong."

It felt like there was a collective gasp from the class, followed by surreptitious high-fives and grins.

"Triangles are in a duplicate ratio to their heights," I continued.
He fell deeper into the hole he dug.
"No they're not, they're in duplicate ratio to their sides, and as I wrote, in direct ratio to their heights."
"But in a right triangle.." I postulated... He cut me off, hastening his demise.
"Just look at this triangle," he said, drawing exactly the right triangle I wanted on the board for me. "here's the first triangle, and I'll draw the second on top, with double the side. See? The area is in the ratio of the height."
I leaned from my seat, sketched two lines across his drawing, and quipped, "No. Four times the size, duplicate ratio. It's the most obvious thing possible."
As his face fell, I heard Dr. Decaen muttering causticly to himself behind me, "No, actually it's Ex Aequali that's the most obvious thing possible, as Mr. B said earlier, because even I don't understand it, and I've got a Phd."

"Well, then, I'm not sure what's wrong," wondered the student, "It has to be in a direct ratio, otherwise my proof wouldn't work, and it proved the same thing as Newton's."
"Actually," Mr. Decaen observed, "If you took that up it would prove the opposite of Newton's, violating the law of non-contradiction." (which is a sacred truth at our school, because if you question that...well, you've got some things to work out, shall we say)
"However," I continued, "If you use a duplicate ratio there, that mode of proof would work perfectly, in fact agreeing with Newton completely."

We spent a few minutes discussing how it would work, and which points of the proofs were shown off by the different methods, but it seemed like the wind had left Mr. B's sails, and his brother left the room shortly after. I had actually not known his brother was there, I just knew a visitor had walked in, but didn't know who.

After class, several of my classmates congratulated me, and told me that this was the one day everyone in my section loved me. Except for Mr. B, of course.

Latin Jokes FTW!

I actually think the guy he's interviewing has a good point, except I disagree about Halliburton being the "barbarians at the gates." They don't seem to be doing anything except spending large amount of government money, as opposed to the terrorists, who attempt to blow us up and change our culture, or the illegal immigrants, who seems most like the Goths and Visigoths, because they move in and take advantage of some corrupt parts of our society.


Women, Know Your Place!

Notus Bene
Main Entry: sat·ire
Pronunciation: 'sa-"tI(-&)r
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin satura, satira, perhaps from (lanx) satura dish of mixed ingredients, from feminine of satur well-fed; akin to Latin satis enough -- more at SAD
1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

Links Wednesday June 20

Catholicism, Science, Religion, Newton, and Colbert!

"Particles of bodies are attracted in proportion to their mass."
Ah, memories of Junior Lab. :D

Fallen Angel - Pilot Protects Downed Helicopter

Linked from BlackFive

Democrats attempt to end Secret Ballots
I really don't see what kindof argument can be made for this, other than "it helps the unions coerce people to join." Secret ballots have been recognized for quite some time as the best way to honesty get people's opinion, and the standard of democracy is lowered when they are not used, because people are more easily pressured to vote or sign one way or another. So why do the unions have trouble with people actually voting for what they think should be done? Because they wouldn't be able to force more people to pay their union dues to support political candidates?

I've Got a Crush on Fred Thompson's Politics

Dig the politics. The music...not so much.
Hat tip to The Jawa Report

A Wonderful and Generous Idea


Link, Tuesday, June 19th

Because I know I haven't been posting at all, and because summer hasn't been that interesting, I think I might start having posts consisting mainly of links to news and other things online I find interesting, perhaps with commentary.

Tesla Roadster
Picture Gallery
As compared to most of the other hybrid cars, which, as Scott Adams has pointed out, look like they're screaming out, "I'm a pathetic environmentalist nerd!", this car actually looks really cool. And 0 to 60 in four seconds is nothing to sniff at, nor is the equivalent of 135 mpg. The only downside seems to be the sticker shock that might be caused by the $92,000 price tag. But it still looks really cool.

Harry Reid: "The Surge has failed!"
Guys from the Surge: "But...we haven't started yet..."

Jimmy Carter on why we should've recognized Hamas
Remind me what the difference is between recognizing Hamas (a democratically elected terrorist group, that's remarkably well organized and efficient...at killing people), and recognizing the Nazi government in Germany (a democratically elected terrorist group, that was remarkably well organized and efficient...at killing people).
Normally Nazi analogies seem hyperbolic, but in this case, it seems to fit rather well. They both even have stated goals to kill Jews (although currently the Palestinians seem too busy killing each other)
"But they organized the attack so well! They showed superior skills and discipline in murdering civilians and engaging in terrorism! Jimmy Carter must have been so proud ..." - Captains Quarters

Fred Thompson #1 in most recent national poll
"The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson earning support from 28% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attracts support from 27%. While Thompson’s one-point edge is statistically insignificant, it is the first time all year that anybody but Giuliani has been on top in Rasmussen Reports polling. A week ago, Thompson and Giuliani were tied at 24%."
Surprise! Give the Republicans the option of electing a real conservative candidate, and they'll vote for him! Who'd a thunk it?


Junior year

So, Junior year, especially second semester, has lived up to it's reputation as being the hardest of our four years at TAC. And we're all praying the seniors aren't lying to us when they claim that senior year is alot easier. Anyways, I hope to resume normal posting in another 2 weeks, after finals, but for now I'm going to post part of a letter I wrote my grandparents, and hope they don't mind, since it's a decent summary of what I've been doing this semester.

"This semester has been pretty crazy. It's the hardest semester we have here (or so the seniors tell us, because they say that senior year is a lot easier). We've been studying the invention of algebra and calculus by Descartes and Newton in Math class, and the discovery of gravity in Newton's Principia in Lab class.

Math class with Mr. Ferrier, a tutor who is a good friend of mine, is wonderful, and even though it's a late afternoon class, hardly anyone ever misses, because even the non-math oriented people have fun in his class, especially with some of the funny things he says, either intentionally or accidentally, like the time he said, "The problem is getting to first base. But if Mr. Ruedig can't do it, I'm guessing there are a lot more people in the dugout having trouble too." He was describing the approach to a math problem, but about half the class realized it could be taken another way, and tried to stifle our laughter.

Lab class on the other hand, is early in the morning, and generally my section, far from the friendly math atmosphere, is at each other's throats over the interpretation of Newton, and when it gets really messy we drag out the original Latin text and start arguing from that. However, the hardest part about that class is the propositions which we have to be ready to demonstrate at the board two or three times a week. We had to do propositions in math class every day for freshman and sophomore year, but the ones we're doing now make those look like a piece of cake. At least Euclid and Apollonius gave us most of the steps of the argument, but Newton will give us a line, and say it can be proven, and we'll have to spend hours figuring out how he proved it, because we know if we get called to the board there are certain overly conscientious people in our class who will be sure to ask how he did that step. Fortunately, my friend Mary Rose and I found that we study well together, and if one of us can't come up with the argument the other generally can, so we generally spend a couple hours a night studying Newton.

Theology class is another fun class, where Mr. O'Reilly makes learning St. Thomas arguments in the summa quite entertaining. One of the interesting things in that he calls on people to present the objection to St. Thomas' argument at the beginning of class, so we have to try our best to convince the rest of our section that St. Thomas is wrong. Occasionally we'll have some success, but St. Thomas so far has usually managed to destroy all our specious arguments in the main body of his article, or if not that then in the responses to the objections.

Philosophy class this semester has been really fascinating, since we've been examining Aristotle's study of human virtue in the ethics, and how he thinks man possess or lack virtue, what the definitions of virtue and justice are. Now we're moving into his Politics, were he takes his definitions of virtue and justice, and his ideas about how they can best be achieved in a state or city, where people tend towards corruption, by comparing different historical examples of government.

Seminar has been the hardest class this semester, since we've started reading modern philosophers, many of whom have really crazy or strange ideas about how the human mind works in obtaining information. The readings have been really long, and densely packed with obscure information, so generally it takes at least four hours or preparation for each of the two seminars we have per week, and sometimes as many as than ten hours if it's an especially hard reading. We're currently working out way through Kant, the German Philosopher, who is one of the hardest authors we read in the program. Even at a selective school like this, a fair amount of the people never really come to understand what he's saying, because he's an absolute genius, but his ideas are so complicated and abstract that it's hard for them to be expressed in ordinary language, so he invents his own wide-ranging system of definitions, and if you don't understand what they mean, his writings are completely indecipherable. But one nice thing is that since the readings are so long, if makes it worthwhile to go on a hike up to the Painter's shack, where Mary Rose and I have been studying him. It's about a two-mile hike up into the mountains to the promontory on the side of one of the larger hills around campus, and there's a small one room shack that a painter who used to own the land had built, with one side just a bank of plate windows overlooking a beautiful view of the Santa Paula valley. On a clear day it's possible to see more than 15miles, all the way to the ocean. It's a wonderful place to study too, since it's so peaceful, with only the sound of the wind and passing birds to disturb the silence.

Oh, and also the rare airplane, since there's a small airfield in Santa Paula. Which I actually got to use a couple weeks ago, since one of my friends, Tom Dickson, who graduated from TAC about 5 years ago, recently obtained his private pilot's licence, and took me and some of my friends up in a little four-seater Cessna. It was really cool flying in a small plane again, I think the last time I did so was with Uncle Bradley when I was about 12. We flew around over the college, took some pictures of the campus and the chapel construction, and cruised up and down the valleys around Santa Paula for a bit.

Last week the campus actors put on their production of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," which was really well done, and had the audience rolling in the aisles at some points of the play. Kate (as played by a girl named….Kate) was really a devil of a woman, yet couldn't stand up to the brutal arrogant onslaught of Petruchio, who finally tamed her in the end. But one of the funnier twists they did on Shakespeare was that Kate's father, a venerable old Italian don, was played as a knock-off of "The Godfather", complete with accent, impersonations, and everything.

Other than classes and those extra-curricular activities, I've been maganing to keep myself busy in other ways too. A couple weekends a month I work off-campus doing landscaping for a retired couple, who live in a beautiful little house on a cliff overlooking Santa Paula (from the other side of the valley as the Painter's shack). I've also been continuing to do generally swing dancing every Wednesday night, and started teaching smaller classes on Thursday nights too, while learning tango and the Lindy Hop on the weekends from "Dancer Dan." At the beginning of the semester I did a lot of fencing too, learning how to kill people with the foil and sabre. I haven't done much recently, because I've had to study math over lunch, which is generally when bouts take place, but I've gotten together with a few of my friends and we're going to start piercing each other at night.

The t-shirt business is going well, we've been printing t-shirts for the school maintenance department, and once we're finished with that run we're going to start printing and sending home shirts for Platinum and Divine Word.

I've started thinking about graduate school, and I'll be studying for and taking the LSAT this summer, the test to get into law school, which I've been thinking seriously of since the beginning of this semester. The other thing I was interested in besides law is a small elite school in Washington D.C. called the Institute of World Politics. Their website is www.iwp.edu and they're a small university with masters degrees in Statecraft, World Politics, National Security Affairs, and Intelligence."

So hopefully I'll survive finals week with my sanity in tact, and be back in Chicago before too long.


Tragedy from Afar

The wife and mother-in-law mentioned in the article are the mother and grandmother of two students and a graduate from TAC, and prayers for them would be appreciated as they fly back to Kenya for the funeral.
[click on title for link]

Working at the Wintz's

Since Dominic was sick this weekend, I organized a crew of 5 guys to go to work at Mr. Wintz's property this weekend. The "Geek Squad" included Jack Potts, Scherbert, Me, Matt Nolan, and the odd one out, who doesn't spend his time gaming the in the lounge, but who does have a useful thing called an "automobile," Scott Martin.
It was raining, but was light enough for us still to work, and so we cleared all the grass out of an area surrounded by 6 foot berms. Mr. Wintz's wife, who is a landscape designer, told us about her plans to plant a moonlight garden there, full of flowers with pale nighttime blossoms.
During lunch and after work we hung out on their patio by the fire, from which we could see through the large windows in their house over the entire Santa Paula valley. Even though it was a drizzly cloudy day, it's still one of the most beautiful places I could imagine working at. I'll try to get better pictures of the view next time, weather permitting.
(these photos take with my 1.3 mp cell phone camera on my new KRZR, which is turning out to be quite nice and extremely useful)

Seminar at Sunset

Last Thursday Mary Rose, Mary, Sara, and I took some wine, cheese, and books up to the painters shack, and spent a fun relaxing afternoon up there.
Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.
(btw, Mary and Mary Rose put henna in their hair last week, which is the reason for the reddish hue)


Pics from the Walk for Life West Coast

The Gaming Lounge in Use

Alden playing Rayman's Raving Rabids on the Wii, with Duffy, Six, Aaron Lee, et al watching and coaching. And Duffy eating Pringles with a fork.


Dancing; with beauties and blades

In the past week I've been able to take up again two of my favorite extra-curricular activities at TAC, ballroom dancing, and fencing.
We've had two dance classes with Dan (our resident dance instructor), and although the class composition has changed a bit, with some people dropping out from last semester, and some people from his Sunday class joining us, it's still been
Last week we spent the entire class learning a rather intricate waltz move, four measures long, in which the guy swirls and swoops across a large part of the dance floor with the girl. We all laughed at each other's first attempts, but by the end we were doing much better, and one might even say some of us looked graceful and elegant while dancing it.
This week we spent the class reviewing the Rumba, one of a few dances that Dan is trying to get more of here at TAC dances, because he likes more variety than just swing and the occasional waltz. We reviewed everything from last semester, learned how we could incorporate the cool new waltz move from the previous week into Rumba, and got tips and pointers on how to improve our form, since Dan cares much more about rhythm and form that performing a multitude of fancy moves.
The Wednesday night dances have also been going well, and I think moving them from outside of St. Augustine's to inside of St. Pat's was a good idea. For one thing, it's been unseasonably cold (for California), and people don't like dancing outside, because while it gets into the 60s or 70s during the day, it drops into the 40s at night. Also, in St. Pat's the have 5 very nice sofas where people can sit when they're not dancing. While this is nice for the girls, it's also had the effect of causing some of the guys to just laze around, which is a problem since there are generally only three or four of them for ten or so girls. If they're foolish enough, as they once were, to all sit on one sofa, I can enlist the aid of a few willing girls and tip it over, which was quite fun, but otherwise the only thing I can really do it play good music, so I've been trying to learn which songs the freshmen like best (since they're generally the only ones who show up anymore, and they like different songs than my class and the sophomores).

In a different type of dancing, the fencing club that I've been trying to start for awhile has really been taking off, with the leadership and support of Mr. Appleby. Sometime last semester he convinced the school that enough people were interested that they should purchase a couple helmets, blades, and gloves, and some people who previously did fencing brought their equipment back after Christmas, so that now we can have quite a few matches going on at once. We've also been having regular meetings at noon on Wednesday, with more people coming every week. Last week we had at least a dozen people there, and three or four fights going on at once. Most of the people are beginners, although there are people like Scofield and Yano who have fenced before, and Duffy and I who have been practicing since last year. Mr. Appleby himself goes fairly frequently to a local fencing club where he practices sabre, and he said if theres enough continued interest, he might be able to get his instructor to come up here to give real lessons.
I've learned about the foil from Yano for awhile, but it's only in the past few weeks that I've begun to learn the sabre from Mr. Appleby. The styles of fighting, though both fencing, are vastly different. To start with, in foil, to score a hit, you need to press the tip of your blade against the torso (not including arms or head) of your opponent with at least one pound of pressure (enough to break human skin). However, since the sabre is not only a thrusting but a slashing weapon as well, all that is needed for a hit is for the blade to touch your opponent anywhere above the waist, and now the arms and head are valid targets as well. Since you can both thrust and slash, and your target area is larger, sabre is a much faster sport. In fact, in order to slow it down they don't allow crossing your feet over. In foil or epee, when attacking you can actually run at your opponent, but now in sabre you must only advance by the short steps your can make without your back foot coming to the fore.
Even though it's more difficult at first though, I think it's more enjoyable than the foil, because there' an eve wider variety of attack, feints and parries, and it's especially fun for me, since me favorite moves are usually feints, while while those are quite possible with foil, it's even more fun in sabre to feint a slash from one direction, and then whip your blade around and smack them from the other side while their parry whistles ineffectively through the air in the other direction. The problem is that it leaves you rather open to attack, or even to their malparry hitting you, but since sabre, like foil, has a right-of-way rule, as long as it's one continuous attack, their lack of an effective parry will mean that they had no right to touch you, and if your attack is successful you will be awarded the point.
Once problem though, is that since sabre moves much faster, Duffy and I have a much harder time judging ourselves, and find it very helpful to have a third party to examine who had right of way or whose blade touched first.
So now I've talked to Mr. Appleby about having the school buy some sabres, since currently they only have foils, and we borrow Mr. Appleby's sabres to fight. Then maybe we'll being to schedule duels over classroom disagreements for the lunch entertainment of all. ;)
I look forward to stabbing Mr. Bolin with a finite blade. :P

Because this semester's classes have been mostly about infinity, about which Bolinides of Santa Paulus has some strange opinions. More on that later though.


Back at school

Well, it's good to be back at school, and I've been fairly busy already.
I worked out a new plan with the guys I had been sharing a wing with last semester, so that Now instead of rooming with David Six, we both have singles, which has been the defacto situation for the past couple months, but will now be formalized so that phone calls will go to the right rooms, and Yano won't have to worry about getting in trouble for people being too loud in the lounge while video gaming.
So, because of that, I moved a bunk bed into the lounge, not to sleep on (that's what the sofas are for, and they're much more comfy) but to serve as the base for my computer desk, and to store things on top of. The new arrangement is quite nice, and provides an added element of privacy. I'll try to take pictures and post them soon.
Classes have been going ok so far. Lab has been very interesting, we're still talking about the first few pages of Newton's Mechanics. I volunteered for a prop the first day back, and did it pretty well I think. Unfortunately, no one was able to say anything about the next paragraph, so there were several minutes of silence after I sat down.
We had our first music class of the day today, which was...well, it was about par for music class. I had forgotten to bring my copy of the Mozart sonata we're studying, as had the people next to me, so we missed a fair amount of what was going on, but it was filled with the usual jumping from topic to topic, forgetting of people's names. Except that was worse than usual, because our music teacher tried to call role, and it turned out that she had forgotten all but one person's name. This was rather depressing, as it made me think even more that I didn't deserve the C I got in music, also as every other subject I got A's and B's, and several people in my class come to me when they need help with music, and generally people think I know it pretty well. *shrugs* well, I still have to decide whether or not I'll talk to the dean about petitioning the grade.
Also the Wii has been a smash hit with everyone who's tried it out here, and we're trying to get Jack Pots to have his flat-screen TV shipped out here so we don't have to go over to classroom 201 every time we want to play.




Videos and pictures of mine will be coming soon.
Thanks Pop and Annagram and Little Gram!


TAC Films

This fall we had a film festival at TAC, and I was in charge of showing the movies made by other people. So since I ended up with copies of them, I uploaded them to YouTube, and thought people might be interested in watching.

The Shoes; a Tale of Youthful Romance and Perseverance

Bad Stuff. Don't let it happen to you!

The Bookstore; kudos to Monty Python

Elmo vs. Aristotle; Sesame Street on Philosophy

The Sequel; a video full of random weirdness

The Pig; an Epic, in two parts
aka, A Film Chronicling the Adventures of the Two Most Virile Hunters Who Ever Stalked the Face of the Earth