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 March 31, 2003 - 08:54 PM | chris
Dear Chris...

While strolling through my site stats today, I noticed that someone came upon the Festival while searching for "Where can I find information, pictures and tips, or dos and don'ts for males for prom?". Unfortunately I don't think this customer left satisfied, so I will provide my handy-dandy guys' guide to high school prom:

Do compliment your date on her appearance, comparing her to a star from TV.
Don't tell her that TV show is FOX's Man vs. Beast.

Do open the car door for you date.
Don't even bother if you drive a station wagon.

Do buy your date flowers that match her dress.
Don't pick those flowers from the flowering pear trees on campus that smell like dead fish.

Do have a sip of some spirits to celebrate the occasion.
Don't get so trashed you hook up with the class nerd or your date's sister.

I hope this helps.

 March 31, 2003 - 08:29 PM | chris
This Program is Sponsored by Washington University...

While watching TV as I ate my dinner of Hot Braised Chicken from Chinese Express, I saw about 4 or 5 ads for Vatterott College. Not only do they offer "courses in electricity", but now they even offer a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. That's exactly what I have, and probably for much more than I would've paid at Vatterott, although I like to think my degree means a little more.

Regardless, Vatterott has thrown down the gauntlet and taken up arms as our competitor, and as such we need to take the challenge and fire back. I submit for your approval the following commercial message:

Where can you go to get a top-notch education [shot of graduation] without the unnecessary excesses of sleep [shot of architecture students taking NoDoz], a social life [shot of the CEC help desk workers playing Starcraft], or even real work [shot of art students drawing naked people]?

What school can give you compulsory medical coverage [shot of Health Services person with a stethescope listening to the chest of a student whose broken bone is protruding from his arm], guidance [tacky video-wipe to scene of an RA smoking marijuana with his residents], and health facilities [shot of Native Americans stealing basketballs and weight room equipment with "Out of Order signs]?

How can you make sure you're prepared for today's job market [shot of half-full career fair with more armed services than corporations]?

Washington University...we may have no dating scene [shot of unattractive drunk people hooking up]...but tuition is going up anyway [shot of Chancellor Wrighton wearing a suit covered in dollar signs holding fistfuls of cash].

 March 30, 2003 - 08:10 PM | chris
More Ruminations from Merit Weekend

Scholarship weekend is over, and I have cast my vote for who gets the scholarships. This year was harder than last year I think, as I only had to rank 8 of the students but I had more trouble doing so. Last year, at least in my mind, there were clear-cut top choices and bottom choices, but this year everyone was pretty strong.

Therefore I just ranked them alphabetically.

Ha ha, I'm just trying to scare any of the finalists that may have stumbled upon this website (as I believe some did last night based on my stats).

Merit Weekend always forces me to think about the things I like and dislike about WashU, and I would have to say that the likes greatly outnumber the dislikes. One thing that I like is the free shuttle service, which causes me not to have to pay for a parking pass. Last night, however, I got a glimpse of the darker side of riding the shuttle when I witnessed a driver in a compact car sideswipe a WashU shuttle hard enough to lose his sideview mirror and other pieces of his car. He proceeded to drive off, with pieces of his car continuing to fall off and drag on the ground.

The shuttle drivers aren't always the most conscientious of motorists. There is one that often drives my route in the mornings who I like to call "Reckless McGee" who has a proclivity towards speeding off before passengers have a chance to sit down in their seats. He also occasionally goes through red lights, assuming that anyone running into the shuttle would most likely do more damage to their own vehicle than to us.

But it's easy to complain about things without providing a viable alternative, so I will do so: WashU Teleporters.

 March 28, 2003 - 04:23 PM | chris
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

There are some annual events that are so regular you can set your calendar by them:

Early February: Steve Avery attempts comeback.
Early March: Despite missing most of the past 3 years with injuries, ESPN pronounces Ken Griffey Jr. "on the verge of a monster season".
Late March: Steve Avery retires again, realizing that he still has no arm strength.
Early April: Griffey tweaks his hamstring, sidelining him for months.
Late April: WashU fraternity gets busted for hazing/illegal activities/recruiting violations/tossing a dead squirrel onto the tennis courts.

And that's just Spring.

One of the other annual events, at least in my life, is Engineering Scholarship Weekend, when the best of the new applicants to the School of Engineering get flown to STL and put through a rigorous few days of tests, group projects, interviews, and free food. Because I was once, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, one of these students, I get to take part in the festivities and help decide which of these high schoolers are good enough to get a free ride.

This year, like last, I have been granted the power of "Student Interviewer". I get to assault 8 of the 16 students with a barrage of esoteric questions to test their mettle, then rank them in my order of preference. My rankings are then fed into a giant computer along with the other interviewers' rankings and crunches the numbers using the newest, state-of-the-art algorithms to determine which students get full scholarships.

Actually a committee of faculty and admissions staff do the job of the computer in this case, although my rankings are still considered when making the BIg Decision. In exchange for providing this service to my school, I not only get a sneak peek at the folks who will be trying to take my job someday down the line but also am treated to numerous free meals.

But bestowing powers like these upon mere students with puckish tendencies is not always wise. I sometimes go overboard in "selling the school" to the competitors. Last night I even convinced Andrea Heugatter, my former Technical Writer professor and current Official Head Honcho of the weekend festivities, that the WashU taps sparkle with Evian brand Spring Water (which would explain the tuition hikes). And I often jokingly tell the scholarship candidates that each day one will be voted out of the group Survivor-style until only one is left standing.

But a fun time is always had by all, and the prospective freshmen are usually much smarter than any of the current students anyway so the judging is often quite subjective. The students are lucky that my team won our softball game last night in such convincing fashion, since my good mood will probably extend to interview time. Now instead of asking them to write a multithreaded C application, I'll be content to ask them about their personality and accomplishments.

 March 28, 2003 - 10:21 AM | chris
Almost Famous

Everybody check Student Life today. There is supposed to be an article about blogging accompanied by a picture of some of us in a crazy action pose.

 March 26, 2003 - 08:17 PM | chris
It's Like the Super Bowl of WashU Intramural Softball

Due to numerous rainouts, they've cancelled the softball regular season and gone straight to the playoffs. So we made it to the postseason! My rapidly-healing thumb is on schedule to be 100% for tomorrow's game, so everyone should come watch. It's at 8 PM at the field behind Eliot Monstrosity on the South 40 on Thursday night. Come on, you know you want to come. It sure beats CS422 projects at least.

 March 24, 2003 - 11:40 PM | chris
Time to Put My Mutant Healing Powers to Good Use

A long time ago, say junior year for example, I busted my thumb up pretty bad playing flag football in the South 40 Olympics. I went to grab someone's flag, but they ran right by me and into my thumb, which made a sick cracking sound and hurt like hell. Later that day, for reasons I still can't quite understand, I attempted to play basketball but had to stop due to the shooting pain that would go down my arm every time I tried to shoot. My thumb was probably broken, as I couldn't really move it for awhile, and if not it was definitely severely sprained, but I chose to go with the "let it heal itself" method of medicine. As such, it took about 2 months to feel like normal again and it never did feel right after that.

Fast forward to this morning at 9 AM basketball. My opponent whom I was guarding decided to launch a pass as hard as they could right past me, but one of my jobs is of course to intercept said pass. I got my hand up in time but...I'm sure you can see where this story is going...I only managed to deflect it with my thumb, which once again made a bad sound and hurt like hell.

This is bad, since our softball playoffs start on Thursday (the entire regular season was rained out), and it's hard to throw a softball if I can't move my thumb. Luckily it doesn't seem to be sprained/broken as badly as before, and perhaps it will reheal better than it did the first time, but if not I need a quick heal-all. If anyone has any home remedies, magic potions, psychic healing powers, or anything that could be of use, please let me know.

The fate of the CS softball team could hang in the balance.

 March 23, 2003 - 09:56 PM | chris
The Stealingest City Strikes Back

It's been awhile since anything of mine has gotten stolen, so I guess I was due. Yesterday my friends and I descended upon the Athletic Complex as we do every Saturday in order to play basketball. Unfortunately, a large number of Native Americans were also there, dressed in traditional garb, for some sort of event dubbed a "Powwow".

This would not normally be a problem, since their event did not take place in the rec gym where we play, except for the fact that a gaggle of 5-8 year old kids decked out in full regalia with feathers and bells and such were running around unsupervised. We had to stop our games numerous times to herd the kids off the court so they didn't get hurt, and the incessant jangling of their bells as they ran around was quite unnerving.

Because no one was supervising the children, no one was apparently there to tell them not to play with other peoples' basketballs that were sitting on the sidelines. Unfortunately, this meant that they just grabbed all that they could and ran out the door with them.

Some of the balls made their way back into the gym when parents realized that their kids came into the AC with zero basketballs but were leaving with three, but mine was not one of them. Someday I will have my revenge, St. Louis...

 March 21, 2003 - 04:12 PM | chris
The Strategery of Memory Allocation

Yesterday's big anti-war protest swung by Cupples II 200 right as I was having Not Machine Learning. The chanting and snare drums were loud enough to drown out the lecture for awhile and force the windows to be closed. I'm not sure what, if any, overall impact the protest had, but I'm reasonably certain that if George W. Bush is enrolled in CS422 then troops will be pulling out any day now.

 March 20, 2003 - 01:26 PM | chris
Monkey Knife Fights, Right at Your Table!

I was born in Orlando, so I'm no stranger to tackiness. Much of the area surrounding Disney World is surrounded by non-Disney-affiliated attractions, outlet malls, "tourist stops" offering discount tickets to Disney World if you're buying for a family of 23, and of course themed restaurants. Japanese Chefs light things on fire, knights joust, Emeril Lagasse says Bam! and adds fistfuls of salt, all right at your table.

But our campus bookstore is apparently trying to get a foot in the door in the tacky crap industry with a new line of t-shirts they offer. The shirts are solid-colored and have the word "Twelfth" on the front of them in block letters. That's it. The "twelfth", of course, refers to Washington U.'s latest ranking in U.S. News and World Reports' Semi-Annual Which College is Best Bribe-a-thon Issue. The sheer lameness of this shirt is appalling. I should start manufacturing shirts that read "I am a Humongous Tool", because if you're the kind of person who would buy a shirt advertising your college's ranking on it you would probably be in the market for my offering.

All this begs the question: Do other schools have these shirts? Does the University of Georgia, for instance, sell a shirt that says something like "EIGHTH!!!" and then in tiny letters on the back "amongst public universities in the state of Georgia"? Do schools like Harvard and Stanford sell shirts that say "We're Better than You"? What will happen to these shirts when next year we move into a 20-way tie for 11th?

 March 19, 2003 - 01:14 PM | chris
In the Event of an Emergency, Throw Your Money Down the Toilet

In the current environment of wariness and concern over possible terrorist retailiation for a war in Iraq, there are bound to be a few unscrupulous Americans who prey on the fears of their fellow countrymen in order to make a quick buck. Take the latest piece of spam I received, for example, which offers an Emergency Cellular Phone for not $114.99 but the low low price of $99.99. This amazing phone requires no monthly contracts or startup costs for service, and in fact it has no local or long distance service of any kind. What it does do is let you call 911 absolutely free in the event of a terrorist attack.

Great deal, right? The annoying red-white-and-blue HTML graphics of the message may make it seem like your patriotic duty to purchase this phone, but it's a well-known fact that all cell phones, even those of the non-patriotic-emergency variety, are required by law to provide access to 911 even in the absence of any calling plan. Therefore you can take advantage of this extra special deal without the absurd charge by finding a friend or neighbor with an old cell phone model that they don't use anymore. I believe that we still have 2 or 3 of them at home, perhaps my parents should open an antiterrorism store.

 March 18, 2003 - 04:42 PM | chris
Pennant Fever

Some of you have requested that I post my intramural softball schedule here so you can come and watch the CS research students + select faculty members attempt to play sports and laugh at us as we are wrestled from behind our computers and made to do physical activities. We were supposed to play last Thursday, but unfortunately because of the rain the game got cancelled. Then for the next 5 days it was beautiful outside, but the powers that be in the IM office decided not to reschedule our game and now it is starting to get cloudy and ominous again just in time for game number 2 on Thursday. Here is our remaining schedule:

-Thursday March 20 at Field 1 (Up behind Eliot Tower where the baseball team and softball team plays) - 8:00 PM
-Thursday March 27 at Field 1 - 8:00 PM

There will be an exciting round of playoffs to determine the champion after that, assuming that everything doesn't get rained out. Feel free to come and cheer for (or boo) us.

 March 16, 2003 - 10:25 PM | chris
A Noble Spirit Embiggens the Smallest Man

This article on CNN is interesting and highly apropos to recent developments at work. 2 summers ago, long before my thesis was even a gleam in anyone's eye, Lucas and I toiled away at our research and faithfully documented any advances that we made. Now that some of this documentation is finding its way into my Work of Works, I've discovered that I don't have quite the grasp of the English language that I would like. Specifically, I seem to have used the words "bigit" (pronounced 'bij-it) and "pictoral" in my writing, but on orders from He Who Controls My Destiny I consulted a dictionary and found that these "words" are total fabrications that may exist in my head but not in Oxford English's head.

Unfortunately, since bigit and pictoral aren't real words (although they mean "binary digit" and "pictorial", respectively) I can't use them in my thesis. Instead they go up on our white board in the lab, which in an effort to be amusing and non-nerdy does not contain important programming developments. Instead it contains football plays, a diagram of Lucas' and my shooting ranges in basketball, Lucas' official title ("Grand Vizier Lord Baron von Foxington XI of New SouthHamptonWellingtonShire", I believe), and now a Graveyard of Nonexistent Words. Say what you will about us, but you've got to admit we've got character.

 March 14, 2003 - 05:31 PM | chris
"Don't End Up Like Me, Kids"

It seems that Madeleine Albright will be this year's commencement speaker, which will make for yet another slow, plodding ceremony. Lucas and I were brainstorming today and came up with a few better candidates for commencement speakers. Feel free to leave comments with any of your own.

-Pee Wee Herman
-the Talking Dolphin from SeaQuest DSV
-KITT from Knight Rider
-Max Headroom
-an American Gladiator
-Kevin, Screech's Robot from Saved By the Bell
-Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon
-Corey Feldman
-the Lead Singer of Some 80's Hair Metal Band Like Pantera
-Bart Simpson

And the list goes on and on.

 March 13, 2003 - 04:46 PM | chris
Stark Raving Mad

When Bryan and I rode home on the WashU shuttle the other day we were treated to a performance by a cantankerous old man. From the moment he stepped on the bus, he started rambling a la Grandpa Simpson. His diatribe went something like this:

"Is this the Gold Line? Not the Greenhorn Line I hope, I get on that one and it takes me all the way out yonder to Belleville, Illinois. I need to get off at the electric train stop with the 'lectric trains and the steam turbine buses. Metrolink. They don't call it the Metrolink anymore. Nossir. They call it the Big M. Big M. 'Lectric trains..."

He went on like this for the entire trip until, blissfully, we arrived at the Metrolink shuttle stop and he exited the bus.

 March 11, 2003 - 10:57 AM | chris
Time Out

I haven't been posting much lately since my old roommate and writer of Got to Get Her Out is visiting from Penn State. He leaves Thursday, so after that you can expect a return to our regularly-scheduled programming.

 March 09, 2003 - 10:56 AM | chris
Blocking Traffic for Peace

I made the grave error of driving through the Loop yesterday afternoon, which is normally bad enough on the weekend but was made infinitely worse by the peace march that was taking place at the time. A long line of people with signs saying things like "honk for Justice" and "Inpeach Bush" [sic] had gathered to walk down Delmar, and because of this all the traffic lights were shut off and there were cops directing traffic. It took me 20 minutes to get from Debaliviere Road to the U. City Library, a trip that should normally take about 5. The lesson here is don't ever, for any reason, drive through the loop. Even if there had been no protest march and all the traffic lights were functioning, the Random Vagrant Mumbling Unintelligibly and Begging for Money - Normal Person ratio is usually pretty high.

 March 06, 2003 - 11:11 PM | chris
Ode to Progress

Thousands of years of civilization, decades of top-flight research in computers and microchips, and the development of a previously-unheard-of worldwide network of machines capable of uniting worldwide communications and commerce, and the greatest minds of our generation use it to make cartoons of Osama bin Laden in a blender and George Bush and Colin Powell's heads on drawn figures singing about blowing up Saddam Hussein. The really sad thing is that these things take time to create. Someone spent hours, perhaps even days, synchronizing video and audio and using vector graphics to create these inane diversions. Maybe the French are right about us...

 March 05, 2003 - 10:16 PM | chris
In Which I Attempt to Sum Up All of Today's Events in One Post

Today was a long day, but we'll see if I can cram everything into one coherent post. First I woke up early to drive to Ft. Lauderdale to see the Red Sox play. Unfortunately, most of the Red Sox did not get up early and drive to Ft. Lauderdale themselves, so rather than seeing Nomar and Manny and Pedro, I got to see Adrian Brown, Cesar Crespo, and a cavalcade of non-roster invitees. I also saw the Cardinals and Mets play the other day, and here are my thoughts on the upcoming baseball season so far:

-reports of Mo Vaughn's offseason weight loss are greatly exaggerated.
-the way the Mets played the other day, I think my IM softball team could have beaten them. Tony Clark, a Red Sox castaway, managed to not only strike out three times but also misjudge a fly ball and then slip and fall on the warning track attempting to chase it down. It looked like a 3 Stooges act.
-at one point during the game there was a vacuuming contest between a man and an old woman. They both had vacuums and a carpet full of sand, and they reaced to see who could vacuum it up fastest. Mere words cannot describe how funny this was.
-in a spring training tradition (I'll post more about this later), they opened up the outfield gate and drove one of those ugly Avalanche Truck/SUV/Eyesore vehicles around the warning track.

Our next adventure was dinner at CiCis Pizza, voted #1 Pizza Chain in America by "Pizza Today" magazine and a score of elderly people. The pizza is quite bad, but for $3.99 a person for all-you-can eat it you really can't go bad. Unless you go to a CiCis in south Florida, where old people act like children. One man didn't get a plate for his pizza, he just piled it on his dirty tray. When he inevitably dropped some, he pushed it under a table with his cane then started yelling at the waitresses to clean it up. One old lady asked for a doggie bag and when they wouldn't give it to her (it's a buffet you dumbass), she pitched a fit and started yelling at the manager. Meanwhile Dragonball Z was blasting on a big screen TV and little kids were running around screaming and playing air hockey. You get what you pay for, I guess.

Then to culminate the evening, my parents and I joined my grandparents in their neighborhood for a round of Bingo. This turned out to be quite an ordeal, since my grandmother had to call neighbors in advance and arrange for them to change seats for the evening. They are very superstitious, and some of them show up an hour and a half early in order to secure their "lucky seats". Then if anyone wins who doesn't live in the neighborhood, they all start cursing under their breath about "foreigners". Keep in mind the "jackpots" are $6 for most games. One lady won 3 games, and the other old people immediately turned on her, cursing at her and such (especially since she was a "foreigner"). They take their bingo very seriously, so when the bingo caller does things like blow a whistle every time the number 2 comes up, half of the people bring along their own whistles to blow while half of them (my grandmother included) yell at the poor guy and tell him to speed it up. All it takes is a $3 wager for grown people to descend to the level of 5 year olds.

Ah, Spring Break in south Florida. Only 2 days until normalcy returns to my life.

 March 04, 2003 - 11:25 PM | chris
If That Number is Less than $102,000, Subtract Your Weight and Multiply By the Square Root of Your IQ Over the Gravitational Constant On Jupiter's Third Moon

I've posted before about the news down here and how they report about things like wild turkeys and people marrying their dogs to each other, but tonight they solved a big mystery in Stuart. Apparently a woman has been stealing valuable racehorses and disguising them by painting over their distinguishing markings with black spray paint. Fortunately the lead story on tonight's news was that they've caught her, so all you racehorse owners of south Florida can relax this evening. The whole thing just screamed "plot of Scooby-Doo episode".

In front of me on the plane yesterday was a woman who, because of her, shall I say, "portliness", had to purchase two seats side-by-side. Despite weighing upwards of 400 pounds, however, she proudly displayed her "Couch Potatoes of America" t-shirt.

 March 01, 2003 - 10:48 AM | chris
Being a Snowbird

I'm ditching this place. No more snow 3 times a week, potholes larger than my car, and unsavory characters roaming the streets. Soon I'll be in sunny Florida, where it may rain every afternoon at 3 PM but at least there's none of this horrible horrible ice...