Why stay in the bounds,
Conform to the space-closers,
When I can paint them?


b words

Boys, boats, badminton,
Bread, breath, breadth, bacchanalia,
Breezy, bold, BAM!

Bad, I know.  But I feel like I've been exposed to bushels of b words lately.  Let's explain some!

Boys - Why can't I make girlfriends?  I guess it's probably because I'd much rather get filthy in a cave than get dolled up and go out for yogurt (cue Teen Girl Squad voice: Let's go get yogurt!).  Anyway, I've been meeting lots of guys and being presented with interesting opportunities--caving, stargazing, dance parties, live music shows, bike rides, and boat-building.  Which brings me to

Boats - Today was the Cardboard Boat Regatta, which I'd never heard of previously.  I guess it's to raise money for Leadership Scholarships or something, but I was excited to help the physics club build a boat out of cardboard and duct tape.  Then they raced it through a swimming pool.  lulz.

Badminton - How do you say this?  I say "bad.mitt.en".  I guess some people really pronounce it "bad.min.ton".  Hm.  News to me.

Bread - I baked!  It was pie, actually, that I baked (asian pear and pawpaw), but the crust was bready?  I think that counts.

Breath - I waited with bated breath to see if we would actually find another member for the Cluster Challenge team (we were having some difficulties because of technicalities associated with Andrew's graduating and annoyances due to Greg's nonpresence), but today we finally cemented Chris Beckley as the final member.  Woot!  It's like a (much) more complicated Goofy Giggles, haha.

Breadth - I'm glad that my education has spanned a lot of different areas.  I'm made more glad of this as I branch out and befriend people with majors vastly different from my own.  If I couldn't hold my own in a conversation about astronomy, what good would I be?

Bacchanalia - HAHA.  So at the career fair, Microsoft gave out ping pong balls with their logo on them.  So what do the CS students immediately do?  Play beer pong.  Oh, you sorry people.

Breezy - Have you noticed it's getting chillier?  I'm really thrilled about the advent of fall.  This humid summer garbage just ain't right.  It was nicer in California.  :o

Bold - It's unfortunate that not many people are bold any longer.  We seem to hide behind our little keyboards instead of owning up and interacting face-to-face like real people ought to.  I was reminded of this fact today at the regatta when a real, live guy actually came up and hit on me.  Crazy, I know.  And he even said he doesn't have Facebook!  Le gasp!

BAM! - I pretty much just like this word.  There's no sense leaving it out of a set of b words.  ;)



A huge jump, scary!
Looking down, far scarier,
But frickin awesome!



Buried in the earth,
Endless water carvings lie,
Waiting to be found.

Southern Indiana may not have world-class dining, clubs, or musical venues.  It may be that hardly anyone here has ever heard an opera, spoken to a politician, or been outside the Midwest (as I meet more and more people who haven't, I'm continually astonished), but there is something to be said about caving here.  It's world-class.  A lot of people you wouldn't expect have experienced it.  I learned today that some 300,000 people have been through Buckner's.  That's probably why it's in such terrible shape today, but oh well.

Anyway, today I went on a caving trip through a system I've never been through before.  It was a rush!  We (the IU Caving Club) went through Donaldson and Bronson caves in Spring Mill Park, which isn't far from here.  I've never been through such a wet cave before; there were a couple parts that required out-and-out swimming, which is really hard in cave gear.  Sean lent me one of his wetsuits for the trip, which I was REALLY grateful for.  He and I actually explored a little side passage that involved crawling through an 18" high passageway that was half-full of water for about 50 yards.  Frigid water.  The other end, though, was a pretty neat, big, open room.  He said that we were among about 20 people to have been in there; it had only been discovered recently.  w00t!  Exploration!

He also led me up to a little rock ledge that didn't really go anywhere, but it had a couple of neat formations at the top.  The climb up there, as well as climbs in other parts of the cave, tested my parkour skillz.  ;)  I skipped their practice to go caving today, so that was good, haha.

I learned a few things on the caving trip:
don't forget a wetsuit if you're going to get wet
wearing crappy jeans is good, but wearing jeans without knees can get you beat up
test rocks before you try to use them to hold your weight
all water has to go somewhere and come from somewhere

What else recently.. umm.. oh, for my current B490 project my partner and I are writing Number Munchers.  Super awesome, haha!  Homework hasn't kept me as busy as I figured it would, but... there's still a lot of it.  I have some Modern Algebra to finish up, actually, so I'm going to have to shove off.  Oh, but I should mention that this week was the career fair, and I got an offer to interview with Microsoft.  Whee!  And tomorrow should bring some further adventures!



Where is my city?

The Midwest has so little.

I can't wait to fly.

And school is started.  So much work!  I was sad, but I didn't try out for the Spanish play.  It would just be too much, I think.  :(  This grad class is keeping me on my toes, for sure.

But there's still time to kill on weekends.  And it's a total bummer that there isn't much to do around here.  I miss all the crazy stuff that happened in and around San Francisco all the time.  There isn't really an audience for it here, though.  I talked to Kam about a thing Evan had mentioned to me: a rave in the forest called "Dance of the Primes."  His comment?  "You know, Val, if we had a 'Dance of the Primes,' nine people would show up and six of them would be wearing capes."

It's true.

I want to get something like that started for Btown, though.  Just, you know, anything really cool.  The dance party last year ("People are Still Having Sex") was a lot of fun; I hope that it happens again in the not-too-distant future.  I think our first comedy club is opening sometime soon.

The career fair was yesterday.  It's amazing the looks you can get from people if you dress sharp.  I walked around with my friend Stuart (or maybe Stewart, I don't actually know), who was in a nice suit with a tie and all, and I was wearing my suit, and we got pulled over by the NSA and some other people.  It was exciting.  I actually got an email today from Microsoft offering an interview.  I wonder if I'll do it?  I mean, it can't hurt to practice technical interviews, eh?  Plus that's kind of cool.



Moon and sun, spinning,
Pulling, alighting the sky,
Decorate my wall.



As I keep going
I pick up new things to ease
All things I'm doing.

There's a zone.  It exists for everything.  As this week progressed, I found myself getting more and more stressed about the mounds of math homework and programming homework and social commitments piling up.  But then I found it.  And suddenly, my work was done!  I had time to kill!  It was amazing!  :)

So last night I went over and chilled with Nick and Chris, and we had a dinner party.  I got to wear my Rodeo Drive dress, which was pretty awesome.  We made a really delicious recipe out of a book Chris had:

Mahi-mahi and Fennel

1 1/2 lbs. Mahi-mahi
2 fennel bulbs
4 julienned carrots
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. butter (I think)
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (or any hard cheese)

Prep the fennel bulbs by cutting off the stalks and peeling the outer layer off.  Wash them.  Cut out the core, and chop it into quarters.  Julienne these.  Boil the fennel and carrots in a pot for 8-10 minutes.

Wash the mahi-mahi and cut it into 6 pieces.  Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan and saute them until nicely cooked.  Pour the cooked carrots and fennel into the bottom of a baking dish, and lay the fish on top.  In a sauce pan, combine milk, flour, and 1/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves (the frilly part) and reduce it to a nice sauce.  Pour this over the fish.  Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and butter in another bowl and put a little pat on each fillet.  Bake it at 375 for 10 minutes.


Anyway, that was great.  I hadn't tried to make anything elaborate since the sushi experiment last weekend (it's hard to find time during the week...), so it was nice to do something to keep my skillz fresh.  :P  We also had fruit salad (featuring delicious asian pears from home!) and bruschetta con fungi (one of Nick's friends brought this; it was toasted Italian bread with some creamy mushroom stuff on top).  And German chocolate cake.

Today was good, too.  I got a new bike!  It was only $80 at the IU parking enforcement bike auction.  It's a pretty nice bike, too.  It needs a new seat and a new chain, but those aren't hard to come by.  I may even just take the ones from my bike that I moved to Venus's bike.  :o

Also today was parkour!  Only 4 people showed up for this one, but it was still fun.  I'm developing my sense of balance (important!), and I managed to pull myself up a wall for the first time!!!  It was only, like, 7 feet high or something, but that's a start, eh?  I guess the jumping technique eluded me last week, but this week I did okay with it.  It's important to jump from a little way away from the wall, and it's also important to first focus on connecting with your foot and THEN focus on grabbing the top and pulling.  I was trying to do it in the wrong order before.

I also practiced, and was miserably bad at, QMing (haha, I used a parkour term!  QM=quadripedal motion) along a railing near Sycamore.  But that's the balance development I was talking about.  It was good times.  And I'm really excited that the guys are all being so patient with me... heh...

Anyhoo, this afternoon is going to be crammed with homework working.  I hope that I don't totally dumb out on any of my problems for calc (I was working on one for Modern Algebra last week, and it looked damn near impossible because I failed to realize that I + A = I - (-A)), but we'll see.  This assignment looks like a lot of busy work.  Blech.


7 years later

Seven years later,
What is it? Political
Squalor. And unresolved.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And what? We still have a useless administration? Oh, terrific. At least November is on its way.

Anyway, I'm keeping busy. Homework is piling up like crazy, as are funsies (parkour, Math Club, etc.). Oh, social calendars!

I'm really enjoying the math courses I'm taking. Evan totally made me a nerd. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not having fun proving things about matrices. :)



When I get too bored,
Things get interestingly
Colored.  Pikachu!

My room.


Now sore and happy,
After such adventuring,
How can I slow down?

It's been a heckuva weekend.  Friday Ben and I worked on our SuperPong game for Rawlins, which was a lot of fun.  Had some pizza and brownies (care of his wife... and they were delicious!), chunked out some Swing stuff...  It's coming along great.  And it looks like that's going to be my only hard class.  Granted, it will be hella hard, but that's okay, eh?

A couple things I learned about Java during the course of this exercise:
threads are easy.  Just make sure you don't run them til after you paint your console for the first time.
dimensions are dumb.  For whatever reason, swing makes an applet that doesn't actually conform to the dimensions you give it.  We had to put in corrections of about 5 pixels for the sides and bottom (more for the top) to ensure that the paddles and ball in our game wouldn't run off into invisible parts of the screen.
arraylists are mega-useful.  Except when you compare a sprite with itself.  We turned on clipping in our game (so that the ball could, you know, hit the paddles), and instead of flying anywhere, the ball just vibrated in the middle of the screen.  We were like, "wow, what the hell is it doing?" for a couple minutes before we realized that it was just hitting itself every clock cycle.  D'oh.
defaults are good.  We're storing all our correction and size and initial position and whatever variables in a Defaults file in the package, which makes it easy to change them.  But, of course, you already knew that.

Anyway, then I hung out with Nick and Chris, and they fixed my bike!  W00t!  Well, by "fixed my bike" what I mean is that they put my bike's good parts onto Venus's bike.  Hers was still in terrible shape from the flood, so we replaced the chain and wheels and cleaned it up a bit.  I got a bike chain bracelet out of the whole thing, which makes me feel pretty cool.  Then we played some Wii and tried to watch Casablanca, but all fell asleep (most likely because it was about 1:00am when we started it).

Saturday I made sushi for lunch.  It was delicious!  And so easy to make, too.  I screwed up a little, though, and my sushi didn't hold together as well as it could've because I kept thinking that my hands were sufficiently wet that the rice wouldn't stick to them when they... weren't.  Yeah.  Hands wet = good.  And I need to figure out the optimal way of cutting the fish so that the slices are a little prettier.

After sushi, Jeff, Georgia, and I went to a parkour event at IU.  That was pretty sweet.  I was able to do more things than I thought I'd be able to, which was a pleasant surprise.  I gotta work on my triceps, though, so's I can do pullups and stuff.  Uii.  But, um, I also learned the difference betweek parkour and free running (somehow I never learned this over the summer with Evan?): I guess that parkour is all about efficiency in getting from point A to point B and free running is more about "self-expression".  It's sort of like parkour for showoffs.  :P

Then was some marathon training with Georgia, which was tiring, to say the least.  I got in an unbelievable amount of exercise yesterday.  After running 3 miles with her, I lifted some weights, then walked home, found Evan online (yay!), finally saw his pink hair pictures, then packed up again and biked over to Kam's for his housewarming party.  It was pretty sweet.  All my AIs from CS were there.  They were funny drunks.  :P

Today should finally bring a watching of War Games, which I'm excited about.  Unfortunately, it will also bring some reading and some code cleanup.  I can hardly motivate myself to do that kind of mundane stuff after all my excitements this weekend.  :\



It's never too soon
To get knocked flat on your ass,
And that's what happened.

As concerned as I was on Wednesday about not having enough work to do this semester, I am now equally as concerned in the other direction.  Well, I was yesterday.  I've chilled out a little since then.  But B490 (the grad design patterns class) is going to be FIERCE.  I'm really excited about it, and the prof is convinced that I'll do well... but it's going to be epic.  Our first assignment is to write a game for Monday.  Keep in mind that that was an assignment that spanned an entire semester for me in the Spring.  :s

My other classes seem okay.  Tae Kwon Do is going to be odd... I mean, we have to write a paper?  What?  So I'm going to sign up for taking that pass/fail.  It's a frickin HPER class.  Not worth the effort of writing a paper.  The Putnam course will be challenging, though not nearly so time-consuming as design patterns.  My algorithms class will be interesting, but easy.  My prof for modern algebra was in Canada during our first classtime, so I haven't actually experienced that yet.

Other things this semester!  I signed up for a couple of caving trips with the IU Caving Club.  Super!  And this Saturday Jeff and I are going to try our hands (and arms, and legs, and feet, and ankles, and skillz) at a parkour meet.  Hmm!  I can't wait!



Quick though I may be
To pass this judgement, I fear
This semester's load.

I haven't had a hard semester yet in college.  I feel like it's an integral part of the experience, but I haven't done it yet.  I scheduled this one to totally kick my butt, but if my first class (S311) is any indication, it'll be just like all the other semesters.  The real sad part is that I have so many evening classes.  I'd like to enjoy my ridiculous freedom.

But yeah, this S311 course.  It's Honors Calculus III, which I think I recall expressing concern over in a previous posting.  I haven't done calculus in a long time.  But I feel like the professor is pretty much going to do a lot of hand-holding for this course.  And we're only going through, like, 3.5 chapters in the book.  Behhh.  Not to mention that she's... well... plain.  She seems nice enough, but I'm having a hard time imagining myself getting fired up about things in her class.

I think this will be a good semester for math-y things, though.  I'm super excited about the Putnam, especially after solving two problems off an old test on my own.  Well, not entirely on my own, I guess.  Daniel was there, but I did... er... most of the solving.  Anyhow, I also finally finished reading that book that Evan gave me (A Mathematical Mosaic), and I feel like I took a fair amount away from it.  So that's good.  And I just felt like I was in the zone as I read out of the calc book for next week's assignment.

In other news, now that my MARATHON TRAINING has started, I'm getting pumped about running.  Georgia and I are going through a program she found together, which I'm thrilled about.  I ran 5 miles yesterday, and close to 4 the day before.... woot!


the midwest

Ted: The cuter the
Animal, the tastier
It is grilled. Me: Oh.

Talk about culture shock. I went to RibAmerica with my folks today (well, technically yesterday, now), and it was a trip. The sheer... midwestern-ness of it astonished me. There were some things I was okay with: the, like, twelve different booths harping their award-winning barbecue were pretty cool (I tried the BBQ sauce at several, and I have to say that it was delicious). The booth devoted to grilled, butter-dipped sweet corn, which had one of the longest lines at the event, was pretty quaint. And their corn was awesome.

No, it was Ted that did it. And he's from Detroit! I guess that counts as the Midwest. Anyway, I had multiple crazy laughing fits during his concert. A few things that set them off:

Ted: *raises two machine guns from nowhere into the air high above his head* ...and we should give machine guns to every child! And to skinny girls, too! Fat bitches can reload 'em. Gotta keep them busy! And I know you're wondering, "does Ted have a permit for giving machine guns to kids?" Well, I got your permit right *drops the machine guns and flips the bird* HERE!!! That's for you, Obama!
Crowd: *screams*

Drunk guy next to me: *shakes my shoulder* This part is AWESOME!! Watch!
Ted: *wearing a ridiculous Native American headdress, pulls a hunting bow from behind a speaker, loads it, sets the arrow on fire, poises his white guitar across the stage, and proceeds to shoot it* I sacrificed my Great White Buffalo!
Drunk guy next to me: RIGHT IN THE X!! YEAH!!!
Crowd: *screams*

Ted: And I love huntin' season! The cuter the animal is, the tastier it is when you grill it! That's why I love vegetarians; vegetables are fuckin' ugly and that's all those sonuvabitches eat! *continues talking about killing animals*
Crowd: *screams*

Ted: Now they don't know it yet, but all my boys (he was talking about the players, sound guys, etc. for his band) have 12-gauge, riot shotguns waitin for 'em at the end of the night! Because I think that with more guns and ammunition, they'll do an even more kickass job!
Crowd: *screams*

In addition to those times, it was pretty excellent to hear him adlibbing his own songs to include lines about BBQ. Bahahahahaha!

Oh, the Midwest.