Monday, April 30, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wakko packs away the snacks

I'll be heading down to the stadium tomorrow to hear Bill Clinton give the commencement address to the class of 2007. He's basically the most high-profile speaker the University would reasonably get aside from a sitting president or prominent politician in office.

This is a direct response to the complaints that the speakers from the last few years weren't popular enough. Obviously, they consider achievement over popularity, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. The classes of 2005 and 2004 saw the chief scientist from Xerox and the founder of Automobile Magazine speak. While their merits were substantial, the bar could certainly be set higher. Last year, the speech was offered to Colin Powell, who turned it down, and eventually CNN goddess Christiane Amanpour accepted. She gave a fantastic speech, but the masses still grumbled that she wasn't high-profile enough. (My parents had always been fans of hers, and I'd grown up watching her on TV, so I was excited at least.)

Bottom line is, this is certain to be better than last year's commencement, where I hadn't slept all night and couldn't speak or swallow because of an abscess on my tonsil that required an 8 hour trip to the ER to fix later that night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The results of our milk project are in, and they are ridiculous.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Woo template reset! Needed something not so chintzy. Also attempting more blogroll-style of posts. Expect more frequent, smaller updates.

Office, sitebulletins

About 3 months ago, Danielle and I decided to start watching The Office. Sanjay had a majority of the episodes available on his computer, and through the magic of s-video cables we got through most of them at my apartment. We relied on some websites to catch us up with season 3, but we finally did it, watching all 47 episodes in order. I am now caught up. This has opened a world of fansites and related gossip blogs which I have been shielding myself from in fear of spoilers. This will only last four days, since we won't be able to watch Thursday's episode, so I better cram in what I can before falling behind again.

Site notes: I have piped in my feed onto the sidebar. is a social bookmarking service, where the relevant tags I assign to a link are stored on a server, and clicking them shows other links (mine and the community's) for the same topic. That utility is not as important to me as its elegance in organization, simple design, and ease of use. I'm still getting a feel for whether I'm going to use it like a zeitgeist for everything I read, with categorized reactions, or just a place to store information that may be useful in the future. I will also periodically introduce vague and highly speculative references to grad school (henceforth VHSRGS) regarding my burgeoning interest in an information science master's degree.

Also, most MMB related posts will now go up in the swanky Hoover Street Rag, a blog founded by two MMB alums that hits a unique niche.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bush in Grand Rapids

President Bush will be in Grand Rapids today, kicking off a major policy speech on "death and destruction" regarding the Iraq civil war policy. This is clearly what wealthy midwestern fifteen-year-olds are concerned about. Looking at a map of campaign contributions, it's no surprise why he chose to visit that part of the state.

His 44-member hand-picked audience will probably be presented by the mainstream media as an enthusiastic welcome. However, there are some chinks in the armor up there, and there is still a protest planned. It'll be interesting to see what kind of coverage both sides receive.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

9th Anniversary

Nine years ago today, Matt Varas walked up to me with a small stack of floppy diskettes, and in usual Varas fashion, thrust them at me.

"What's this?"
"It's an mp3."
"What is that?"

He explained that it was just a way of making a sound file small. On four disks (remember this was 1998, before CD burners were common), he told me to use Microsoft Backup/Restore to combine them all.

Not really sure what that was, I went home, spent two hours downloading Winamp, and used that obscure program to combine the diskettes into my very first MP3: Bone Thugs N Harmony's "Tha Crossroads."

And that's what got me started. From there I got mIRC. Downloading files from mIRC was a pain. One had to

-Search for a file
-Find someone who had it
-Type a command just to enter their queue, and, usually
-Wait for them to become available, then
-Spend an hour downloading a song.

But I kept at it as the times kept changing. From mIRC to Napster. From Napster to Morpheus, and from Morpheus to KaZaa and onto KaZaa Lite, iTunes, eMusic, and the legally ambiguous And along the way I tried my share of programs: Abe's mp3 finder, gnutella, iMesh, limewire, BearShare, AIMster, grokster, audiogalaxy, Direct Connect, eDonkey, eMule, launchcast, winmx, shoutcast, soulseek...

My point? I kindled the nascent technology and watched it blossom into its current form, along for the entire ride. More than 5,900 songs later (that's 1.8 a day for 9 years), it's shaped me into the copyright-infringing music pirate RIAA-abiding fan of music that I am today. Nine full years in the making.

And thank you, Bone Thugs, for shining your light for others to follow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Michigander dreamin'

My first bike ride of the year is usually invigorating and an inspirational reminder as to why I love it so much in the first place. Today was slightly different since I was hampered by the need to purchase a new helmet (success!) and a lack of water bottle. Still, it's hard to believe I'm only three months from another Michigander.

Monday, April 16, 2007

coming soon to bookstores!

The cover shows some of the Bernini statues around St. Peter's Cathedral. When considered with the title and byline at the bottom, I think the redness and dark shading shrouds the image in the appropriate level of intrigue for the novel. There's also an listing for it now.

tax day

I waited until the last minute to do my taxes, but this will be a bountiful month. Thanks to some tuition credit and the government's excessive withholdings, I will be getting a four-figure tax refund.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

In memoriam: My dog Levi

Levi, our oafish seal pup of a dog, had to be put down this morning. His heart wasn't working right anymore and he'd spent the last day or so miserably unable to keep food down or even drink water. X-rays also showed a liver tumor (go figure) and blood in his lungs and abdomen. He never had osteoarthritis, as is common in these funny-shaped dogs, nor any prior heart conditions. He showed zero symptoms whatsoever until after Mom and Tom returned from their trip to pick him up, and even then, he waited until he got home. The vet said this was not a coincidence. He was 11.
Anyone who's been around Levi knows that his daily routine consisted almost entirely of:

1. Lying on the floor
2. Being petted by you, or
3. Wondering why you weren't petting him.

Occasionally his rope would bother him and he'd decide to kill it. This would involve thrashing it round in his ferocious jowls until he accidentally let it go and it flew out of reach, followed by staring at us until we'd get it down for him.
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi in good health weighs 27 lbs. Much to our amusement, Levi easily doubled that for most of his life. He didn't mind us ridiculing his weight and usually blamed it on his thick coat of fur. When we had to give him baths he looked half as wide with his fur matted down.

Like his late brother, Levi strove to protect our back yard from the neighborhood squirrels that would dare to enter it. It actually didn't matter whether or not there was one in sight, but if we told him there was, he trusted us and overreacted accordingly. This was also a continuously entertaining.

Tom and these dogs were a packaged deal. I never lived with them because I was away at college after they all moved in. But seeing these dogs is how I remember coming home from college, as their customary greeting was to bound out of the door, clacketaclacketa their stumpy legs across the driveway, and bump into me until I pet them. Levi still knew and trusted me, and always let me push him on his side and roll him over to rub his belly whenever I wanted.

The inability to communicate effective goodbyes and, as far as we know, the dog's inability to comprehend or reconcile what is happening to them, makes this whole process unbearable. The animal's innocence which was a blessing their whole life now manifests as something painful that we can't explain to or coax out of them.

I grieve especially for my little sister who has lost a companion and her "cute baby," as she always called him, and for Tom, whose dogs were by his side during his summers of cancer treatment. And I worry about the safety of the house, as there is now nothing to protect us from the demonic squirrels that will surely saturate our yard.

Fortunately, Levi spent his last moments peacefully surrounded by my family. We've spent four years making him as comfortable and happy as possible; this was the least we could do to extend that.

Now he is gone, except in our memories, and that is the story of Levi.