5 points

A couple days ago I got back from a family vacation to Universal Studios, Orlando. We were there for six days, Mom, Pop, my 3 brothers, Missy, and me. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, right on the Universal property. The advantage of that is that your room key allows you to cut all the lines in the 2 parks. It was really worth it. Without waiting in any lines, I can definately say there was no bad part of the trip.

Five points, refers to a little game my brothers and I had going. We'd give each other made up point any time one of us said or did something really stupid. We weren't really keeping track but quite a number of points were given out. Some of the more memorable awards were for artificial water, the distribution ride, January following September, and others.

Missy is just the cutest. She wasn't the best at all times, but she makes things fun. She really talks a lot now, and is almost a whole real person. We had a lot of fun, even jumping on the trampoline with her before we left. I'm sorry that I'm leaving and won't see her more often. I can't wait to see what she'll be like a year from now.

We spent most of our days on the trip either at one of the two Universal parks or at the pool. Most evening we were at the hotel or CityWalk. One night we went out to eat at a fondue restaurant, something I didn't think I'd like but I did (it wasn't even mostly about cheese). Another night we went to SkyVenture, the vertical wind tunnel, the sky-diving-like experience that I did with Desney and Jason last time I was in Orlando.

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Keywords:Travel | Family
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What a day to be outside. Today is the Massachusetts holiday Patriots Day. With classes cancelled, I took the T downtown to meet up with Mom, Pop, and Missy for the Boston Marathon. We went to a John Hancock brunch. It was really nice and I even saw the mayor of Boston there. We went to see the kids in the Kenja project that Mom had helped out with. Last Wednesday they took these inner-city 3rd and 4th graders to the zoo and talked about why Kenyan runners are the fastest. Catherine Ndereba met with them and answered questions. She is the 2nd fastest woman ever and was a 2 time winner of the Boston Marathon. Today we got to see the news footage that channels 4 and 5 aired about the program. Then we went down to the finish line where Catherine won the Boston Marathon for the 3rd time. It was a great morning, although maybe a little hot for the runners.
Keywords:Family | Spring
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One of the main concerns I have right now is trying to find housing in Pittsburgh for next year. Looking is tough because I don't know what I can afford or if there is any chance I'll have a car. This will all depend on if Randy gives me a job after the summer.

My ideal place would be a nice apartment near campus, not too expensive, and living with a close friend, preferably an AEPi. It looks like that won't happen. Living with Toon would be too far and not quite nice as I'd want, although he would be cool to live with. Steve would also make a good roommate if we could find a place. However, the places I saw over carnival were too expensive. Steve is probably moving in with Toon which means I can't, and I don't have Steve to help me find a cheaper place. I might have considered moving back into the house but only briefly and certainly not if Steve won't be there.

My remaining options are to live with Adam on Beeler St., find a 1br place, or find an ETC roommate. The house on Beeler is a perfect location at a decent price. I haven't seen pictures yet but I bet it will be nice enough. The downside is that while Adam is someone I'm friendly with, I'm not sure what my roommates there will be like to live with. I'm worried it won't feel like my place. I really wanted a place to consider mine and to fill with my furniture. I think it may be the best option, but I just wish there were something perfect. Maybe it will all work out.
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Between coming back from a vacation, this beautiful weather, and the fact that I'm dropping out of MIT after this semester anyway, I'm really unmotivated to do work. School work specifially. In fact I'm quite motivated to be active and get things done now that spring is here. I'm ready to turn over a new leaf and really try to make something of myself. Yet I have no desire to work on all the many projects I have stacked up against me in my 2 classes.

On Thursday I go away again, but until then I have a Sensors problem set, a 15 minute paper presentation in Ambient Intelligence, and a project update to give for that class as well as work that needs to be done on the project. After I get back, I've got tough projects for both classes to do, and a couple more paper presentations.

I wish I could just quit now, and move right now to Pittsburgh and get started. I suppose I probably could, technically, but I think the right thing to do is still to finish at least this semester that I started, especially the project that Alex is depending on me to help with.
Keywords:Busyness | Media Lab | Procrastination | Spring
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Bailing Water on the Titanic

URL: http://sparkyb.net/pictures/gallery/2003-2004/Carnival/
The last week, I have spent in Pittsburgh working on booth. Of course it was a very different experience as an alum than as a student, and every carnival is always different, but this one was extra different. We almost didn't finish.

I guess I better start by saying that the overall theme was "To be a kid again" and our theme was "The Wizard of Oz". Pictures are up in bbGallery. My projects were the giant hot air balloon you see out front, the 2 smaller balloons that were part of the game, and part of the electronics for the game that controlled the sound effects and the lights that displayed the winner. The game was clicking your heels together to race the balloons up.

My projects went pretty well. I worked together with Linda sewing the balloons. I did the design, marking, and cutting; she did all the sewing. The big balloon is 6 feet in diameter and 8.5 feet tall. It is made up of 32 pieces. The smaller ones are 1/6th scale models. It was quite a challenge, especially to support, but a lot of fun. There's something great about working at such a big scale.

As for the rest of the booth... Maybe it was the rain on monday and tuesday. Maybe it was a number of buggy or other people not helping out on booth. I don't think we've ever been that close to not finishing before and I blame the management. In the end, when you realize you are too far behind, you cut back, concentrate your effort, and do only what is neccessary. That is what we did, but that started around 1pm on Thursday instead of 5pm or so on Wednesday when I would have done it.

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Keywords:Booth | AEPi
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God's Honest Truth

I'm not Cecil Adams or Barbara Mikkelson but I enjoy bringing truth to the unenlightened or misinformed masses. The two people above represent the two best sources I've found on the web for doing that.

Snopes is a site where David and Barabara Mikkelson debunk (or confirm) urban legends. If there's a claim that you are skeptical of, it is usually a good place to check it out. One of the many oft-heard stories that I doubted was the rumor that sorority houses are prohibited or limited in number by brothel laws. I was happy to be able to use Snopes to show that was not true.

Another site I found recently is The Straight Dope. I don't read the newspaper so some people may already be aware of this, even though I wasn't. Cecil Adams is supposedly the smartest man alive and can answer any question. He has been writing this syndicated column since the 70's where he answer's peoples questions with the mission of fighting ignorance. The webpage is a bit poorly designed. The most useful pages I have found are the archive (scroll down) and special reports which are not actually written by Cecil but a staff.
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Anguished English

I feel I have a very strong connection to the English language. I often, especially when writing, consider very carefully the logical and symantic intricacies of turning thoughts into English words and phrases. I think one of the reasons that foreign languages are so hard for me is that the simple sentences I could learn to use do not compare to the very high level concepts and subtle distictions I can express in English. That's why I thought I'd point out a few of the things I've found interesting about English, common mistakes people make, and some helpful websites.

Back when I was in Stage3, we had an argument at one meeting about what the correct plural of octopus is. At the next meeting Dennis had done some research and provided us with the answer. While many people think that octopi is the plural, this is in fact the most incorrect answer. As we all know, the standard plural in Enlish involves adding s at the end. Of course, many words in English are inherited from other languages which lead to all the exceptions to this rule where the plural is also inherited. Latin is the source of many English words and there are some, like fungus, where the -us ending is pluralized as -i. Octopus is not one of them. Latin nouns are seperated into 5 groups, called declensions, which have different endings and different plurals. The rule above that we are most familar with is the rule for 2nd declension, but Octopus, originally from Greek origin, is a 3rd declesion noun in Latin. The correct Latin plural would be Octopodes

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Keywords:English | Quirks | Rants | Truth
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Today-Tomorrow Reasonableness

For a couple years now, this has been a term in my friends' and my lexicon. It came up first at one of our late night Denny's runs. We never went before 10, and typical was 11-1, which meant getting back even later. On the way home, as we were talking about the next day, someone pointed out that, being after midnight, that it was actually today. This is a prime example of today-tomorrow unreasonable. This is really a precursor to the discussion of when one day ends and the next starts.

The concept of the day and the year, both based on astronomical events, makes perfect sense. Hours, however, I feel are a big more arbitrary. We are diurnal creatures and therefore daylight definately has define the way we live before and after the invent of accessable artificial light. The current method of keeping time is designed to center around noon, the center of the daylight hours. This doesn't seem most appropriate to me, as we are much more tuned to sunrise than sunset. People generally wake up around sunrise, or at least the morning is the time around when the sun rises. Most people stay awake much longer than daylight which means that sunset has very little effect on the human cycle.

I believe there is a natural human daily cycle, also based on the sun as the clock is, but with a different concept of when the beginning of the day is than the clocks notion of midnight. In general most people talk about "the beginning of their day" as when they wake up. No one I know who goes to bed at 1am and wakes up at 9am talkes about the previous midnight when they were still awake from the day before as the beginning of their day.

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Keywords:Quirks | Rants
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Daylight Saving Time

URL: http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/
An add on TV tonight reminded me that this weekend is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. This prompted to me to some research, which prompted me to write this entry about what I found as well as some other thoughts I've had in the past on the concept of measuring time.

First, it is Daylight Saving Time not Daylight Savings Time as often mistaken. The website I found was quite thorough and did a good job explaining the history of daylight saving time, what its purpose is, and how it works.
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Keywords:Rants | Spring
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Thought Repository » April 2004