Friday, June 29, 2007

Odds 'n' Ends

  • I've been watching videos on (apparently it's easier on Viacom to make the videos available on-line than trying to put them on TV somehow). Their list of the 100 greatest one-hit wonders has 36 videos in it. The one that always comes up when you click on the list is Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In the Heart". I've watched it a couple times to verify that, indeed, I do not understand the principle behind club music/DJs at all.
  • But they're getting better; when I first visited, the list of 100 greatest one-hit wonders had 22 videos in it.
  • Plus, they only have one commercial, for Jeep; it's not bad, but apparently they're not expecting anyone to visit more than once or something.
  • The main reason all the bullets so far are about is because it's playing on the other tab in Firefox as I'm typing this.
  • I am now half unpacked from the trip. My luggage is sitting in the living room trying to mock me. Fortunately I have nerves of steel.
  • I did some cleaning up of the computer, mostly involving cleaning up the startup programs and uninstalling some things. On the other hand, nothing helps when the antivirus program decides it needs to update itself.

In Which I Deliberately Misread a Product Name

Nestea's Lemon Sweetened Iced Tea? I don't know much about tea, but if you're using lemon for a sweetener, you're in trouble.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Can't Make the Right Decisions When I Travel, Either

I got a cab to CPH airport Monday morning to come back home. This used up all my paper kroner, so that's good. I manage to find the Delta ticket counters, and am confronted with what appears to be three lines sticking out of the maze of those fabric strips. It turns out that the crew were busy reassembling the maze, and our three lines eventually had to merge into a single-file line; the people who were in the portion of the line to which we had to merge were not happy about that.

I had not been thinking when packing, and Tom's book was in my luggage and not in my carry-on; fortunately I had my iPod and a lot of Merl Reagle's crosswords to keep me occupied. And I knew that I had to claim and recheck my bags in Atlanta to get through Customs anyway, so I figured I would get it then.

We landed at 2; my luggage arrived on the carousel right at 3:30. After I got through customs, I checked the time; my flight was scheduled out of Atlanta for 5:20, and I still wanted something to eat. So I thought I'd save time (I knew the book was buried somewhat in my luggage) and just recheck the bag; after all, it was only a 75-minute flight from Atlanta, right?

Well, of course, there was a storm going on at the time; the approach had been rather rough, but they let us land. Apparently they were not letting a lot of other people land, and traffic was stacking up about 60 miles outside of Atlanta. My 5:20 flight, became a 6:15 flight, and then a 6:45 flight, and then a 7:55 flight, and then a cancelled flight (one of 25 that I counted on the monitors). The printer at Delta's terminal in Copenhagen was not capable of printing a readable bar code, so I had to stand in the longest line in Atlanta airport history (according to a couple of Delta crew members who walked by, who are not probably the most historically accurate witnesses) to be told that I had been confirmed for the 9:45 flight (it was then around 8:40). The gate assignment printed on the card was the gate right next to the line, so that was handy; I stayed there for a little bit, then looked at the sign on the gate, which said nothing about my flight. The monitors were right behind me; looking, I saw that my flight was now two concourses away, and the flight status was "At Gate".

Well! I usually don't bother with the train at Atlanta's airport, but I did then. By the time I got to concourse D, the flight was no longer listed on the monitors; but I went to the gate listed and it was still on the sign at the gate, still listed as "At Gate". After a bit of confusion with the "Tri-Cities" flight (I don't know where that is, other than TN), the flight boarded and took off a little after 10.

The plane landed in NN at about a quarter to midnight; I went to the baggage carousel and proceeded to dig my keys (apartment and car) out of my "carry-on" (read: backpack). My apartment keys were easily found. My car keys were not. I sat down next to the other carousel and took everything out and put everything back. I looked up and saw my luggage go around the bend on the correct carousel, so I got up and waited for it to come around and grabbed it and went out to my car. I got there (I was parked directly under a light, with great foresight) and dug through my backpack and luggage and found ... nothing. So I trudged back to the terminal and went to Avis, and rented a car to get home and to work. (I found the keys this afternoon in a pocket inside the pocket that I knew they were (supposed to be) in, behind some old pictures.)

I am still not "unpacked" as such, but that can probably wait.

Photo Set

Hey it's some pictures.

Never Has a Place Felt Such Like Home

As this place did last night when I got in. Roughly twenty-two hours from arrival at CPH to leaving PHF. Details and all the rest later when I'm not in a hurry.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

More Copenhagen

The results page are up now at the results link that I put down below somewhere. The PDF version that you are taken to only has scores from rounds 6--8 (and, of course, the totals); to see scores for the first five, change the "8" in the URL to a "5".

I played with actual tiles, against people in the same room, for the first time ever in the hotel Thursday night before the tournament (I've been telling people here that it had been "several years" since I had a group of people to play with, which I suppose is true). I think I was consciously playing a part on the first day as the person who was not at all scared mindless, whereas on the second and third day I was feeling more myself. It is probably not a coincidence that on the first day I scored eight points (of a possible twelve) and on the last two I scored three (out of a possible twenty). There is a lesson here somewhere. I don't think the lesson is particularly politically correct, but there it is.

There were other lessons learned as well, namely that I still cannot understand spoken German very well at all; that apparently I'm the last person on earth with neither business cards nor a cell phone; and that everyone, even the Danes, know Monty Python. (We had a midsummer night's bonfire on Saturday night with the traditional witch-in-effigy on a pole, and there were several shouts of "Burn her anyway!" and "Churches!" and the like.)

There were six Americans there in total; the four of us on the Mahjong USA team, one guy who showed up with Ben who ended up being a Russian for the tournament, and a professional from Japan who didn't play, but who was there for moral support and pictures and whose link is now embedded in the sidebar. Obviously we were there to mingle, and we did, but none of the team had met each other before, so we were mingling as much with each other as with everyone else (with the added advantage that we all spoke English). But they are all good people, all one hundred thirty-odd of them, and we are all pretty damn odd.

When I get back, the pictures I have will get posted somewhere, but don't expect it before the weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Copenhagen so far

I have my camera, but not the cord to tie it to my computer, so no pictures for you.

Currently I have eight table points (last, first, and first) for 26th out of 136, and the team is in 14th place out of 34. (They don't seem to have updated the results page, so I will do their work.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I should have a camera with me; maybe I should set up a Flickr site or such before I leave. On the other hand, maybe I'll make you all beg instead.

You'll be able to follow along with the official scores here. I may post commentary about my hands, if I think I have anything insightful/interesting/witty to say, and if I can bother. The site says that scores are updated 30 minutes after the end of a round. Rounds last from 9:30-11:30 am, 1-3 pm, and 3:30-5:30 pm Copenhagen time, which is six hours ahead of Eastern time, seven Central. So you should see something there starting Friday morning.

My Ipod is charging. I think I have everything printed. I've found a place in the airport that should sell power plug-in things. I'm still panicking anyway.

I Love Danish

Reading at
Sweetheart Skat (which also means sales tax)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Travel Checklist

Tuesday is the day to fly away to Copenhagen. The lists:

Things I have (done):
  • Passport
  • Danish currency (in very new and crisp banknotes)
  • Reservations
  • A map of Copenhagen that's kinda small, but that has the playing venue, my hotel, and all the places to meet guided tours 'n' things marked on it
  • Set up my college algebra class for next term (syllabus + online stuff)
  • A camera
Things I don't have (done):
  • Laundry
  • Packing
  • A Danish power converter thing for my laptop
  • The algebra final exam set up for students
  • The statistics final exam completely written
  • The statistics projects graded
  • My medical class syllabus for next term
  • Calculus tests and quizzes
  • Algorithm analysis (anything at all--eep)
  • A working knowledge of the Danish language

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I'm aware that I'm just a dilettante when it comes to statistics (it not being what I do for a living, etc.), but I've always wondered why there aren't religious wars about SPSS-vs.-Minitab like there are about emacs-vs.-vi. Or maybe there are, and I'm just not in the loop enough to know.

In Which We Discover Whether I Can Still Write Dialogue

Inspiring photo here. Fortunately, I was able to get the voices of "Pinky and the Brain" out of my head long enough to do this.

"What do you think it means?"
"I don't know. Probably some kind of experiment."
"I hate experiments."
"As do we all. But the experiments provide nobility and purpose to lives that might otherwise be misspent, lives that would know no meaning, lives that would be thrown away in---"
"Shut up."
"You did take your medication today? I don't want you to start preaching through the halls again today."
"Of course I did. Don't you trust me any more?"
"You remember what happened three weeks ago. Seeing such a powerful voice coming out of such a small body---there was panic all over the building."
"I can't help the way I am. Sometimes I hear the voice and I just get carried along."
"You and your voice. Why doesn't your internal radio ever play any good music, or maybe some gardening tips?"
"Please don't start. You know how hurtful that is to me when you start talking like that."
"How do you think I feel, having to explain to people the way you get. The neighbors haven't spoken to me since that disaster last Christmas; all the women give me these half-sympathetic looks as they cluck about you and ask me when I'm going to leave. What does that do to me? What kind of mockery of love makes me do all this?"
"Love is a gift from---"
"I don't want to hear what the voice thinks, I want to hear what you think. What is love, except physical closeness? Isn't that what the sign is telling us? Look at these rats that `are in love.' What can they possibly share with us but being together? Can they fight? Can they argue? Can they get frustrated with each other, then get frustrated with themselves for getting frustrated? Can they devote their lives to making sure the other is taking care of themselves and getting through life? Are they stupid enough to care about someone else so much that they can't bear to stay and watch him sink and strive to keep him afloat, but yet they can't bear to let that person destroy himself? Or are they just in it for the snuggling? Is that love?"
"I think it's cute that the white one is trying to eat the gray one's shoulder."
"Shut up."

Votes (about whether or not I can still write dialogue, or for that matter, whether I ever could) in comments.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Toys

So I got the HP 48GII the other day. Rumor has it there's a GNU gcc compiler for it somewhere (that would be the reason to get the 50g, I guess: way more memory). I was inputting some data about my students' last quiz to see what my calculator could tell me about it (answer: the best fit between time spent on a problem and getting it right is logarithmic, and yes, that's one of the options (linear fit, logarithmic fit, power fit, exponential fit, and "best fit" that returns one of the other four)). I couldn't find the H.MS conversion thing, but I did discover that when you're in spreadsheet view you can type in "37 [SPC] 60 / 2 + [ENTER]" and the right thing happens. (The really cool thing is that until you hit enter, you see "37 60 / 2 +" as the entry.) Unfortunately, I also found out that if you just miss the + key, and hit "37 [SPC] 60 / 2 [ENTER]", it will add two entries in your list, 37/60 and 2, which you then have to delete.

More updates as events warrant.

UPDATE: Found it. It appears to be C, and not C++. There's also an emacs for the HP (shudder).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tabstop's Second Rule of Politics

The rule: If group X does not believe they can be adequately represented by their elected Congress-critters unless they are "one of us", then group X does not really deserve representation anyway.

[The first rule? Is obvious: "Anyone who wants political office should be automatically disqualified."]