Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Morning Surf

What am I doing up at 8 in the morning when I don't have class until 2? My brain woke up, and wouldn't shut up. Stupid brain. What's it done for me recently? Make me lose sleep, that's what!

On the morning surf (like the "morning commute," see?), I came across geocaching for money — if you live in the appropriate state, that is. I like it when companies figure out how to get people to do things for them. Seems like a win-win to me: the companies get their "SkySites" back rather than continually replace them (which would probably make the cost of operations too high for them to even exist), and people who would otherwise geocache for free get a bounty. There's probably a dark side here somewhere... There's always a dark side... :/

In science-meets-arcade news, you can now play DDR at the Scripps Aquarium, where the "D" stands for "DNA".

On the art side of things, BoingBoing has posted about two HowTo's for comics. It's really fascinating to see how people do them, step by step. The first one is Kazu Kibuishi's Copper comics (which I'd never heard of, either). The second is Apple Geeks: steps 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. That's gotta take some kind of patience.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Second Day of Ceramics

Today in ceramics class, we learned how to make bowls (instead of just cylinders). I still need practice with raising the body of the clay shapes, but that's what these classes are for, eh?

It's not quite as symmetrical as I'd have liked, but it's okay.

So after I had this first attempt at a bowl, I got a half-sized lump of clay to try doing a smaller bowl. The first one tore apart — not centered properly, I think. The second one worked out.

I sliced this bowl in half when I was done throwing it. The idea is to add an S-curve wall to the open sides of each half-bowl, and half the two resulting bowls fit together. We'll see how well that actually goes in practice, of course.

Sort of a ying-yang design is what I'll be going for. But, of course, if something gets messed up between now and then, I'll have to be creative. It's sorta fun, figuring out how to "save" a piece that would otherwise be a complete failure. Like my first two pieces, fr'instance..

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Male Guys

That the phrase "you guys" is genderless, being a plural "you" that Standard English has lacked since the demise of "thou," is not disputed. The word "guys" itself, perhaps by extension from that phrase, seems to be becoming genderless for many English-speakers, too. One forum thread at Antimoon (a site for ESL people) comments about the usage. American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and Wiktionary agree.

And in the wild:

Even though the majority of you guys [in the apartment] are male...

The above was Forrest, last night. Below is my ethnic studies teacher, today:

And Lucia Gonzales was a woman [in the workers' movement]. Most of these guys were men.

Language change is interesting. :)

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chuck Norris Eats Underscores For Breakfast

I noticed the Chuck Norris meme from College Humor. Photoshopped images of him kept showing up, often enough that I started to wonder what all the fuss was about. A quick google later, I found Mark Christian's chronicling of the meme's start. Chuck Norris has even mentioned the meme on his own site.

As for the underscores, I've switched all my underscore-containing del.icio.us tags to be CamelCase instead. ChuckNorris is more popular than Chuck_Norris ("Bob Dole, Bob Dole, Bob Dole, Bob D... zzz") on del.icio.us, you see. Apologies to my feed reader buddies; Blogger is dumb and always sends out even minor edits.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Xmas, that Xian Holy-day

I regularly read Language Log, a blog about (you guessed it) language, written by real linguistics and not just misinformation-spreading pop-culture grammarians. (Bitter? Me? Nah.) I finally decided to explore the 114 links Language Log has to other language-related blogs.

And already, I'm glad I did. The very first link was to Abecedaria, a blog about "keyboarding in diverse scripts, literacy and digital literacy, and random quotes selected from the history of writing system theory." Right up my alley. In reading its archives, I came across an interesting discussion of the history of "Xmas," quoted in part below:

The use of the Greek letter chi for Christ has a long history. The first shorthand for Christ seems to have been ΧΡΣ (P46). This site explains that the Nomina Sacra were used not as abbreviations but to set apart holy words in text.

Two kinds of shorthand were used from the third century up until the 16th century in Greek manuscripts. First, the nomina sacra, where a closed set of frequently occuring siginificant names were abbreviated to create a logographic entity. Second, there were ligatures which shortened or combined two or three letters, especially grammatical endings, later even including the accent in the ligature.

Χριστος has been represented by Χρς, or Χς, and by ΧΡ in art and other representation.... The transition from Χς to Χ [presumably] happened with the beginning of the use of the vernacular languages in Europe, when the [grammatical] ending was no longer relevant. There would be no reason to retain the last letter and X alone came to represent Christ. There is also no reason to see a sign of disrespect in the transition from Χς to Χ. And so Xmas first appeared in English texts in the 16th century.

Following a link from the Abedecedarian post above, I read Raymond L. Cox's article, "Is God Against Christmas." Part of said article discusses the history of "Xmas" as well:

"But the use of the abbreviation Xmas takes Christ out of Christmas!" opponents allege. "Xmas is an irreverent modern substitute for Christmas. The abbreviation represents the substitution of X (which means the unknown quantity) for Christ."

Most Christians today would nod in agreement with those charges. And certainly some who use the abbreviation may employ it for such purposes. Neither is it my intention to whitewash the use of Xmas. But in all fairness and honesty we must recognize that the abbreviation did not originate either to take Christ out of Christmas or as an "irreverent modern substitute for Christmas."

Xmas is not of modern coinage. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551. Undoubtedly it was employed before that. Now 1551 is fifty years before the first English colonists came to America and sixty years earlier than the completion of the King James Version of the Bible! Moreover, at the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of Christian and Christianity.

[snip discussion of Greek Χ, discussed above] Were they trying to take Christ away and substitute an unknown quantity? The idea is preposterous.

I find it amusing, then, that those who complain that "'Xmas' takes the Christ out of Christmas" don't know that, etymologically speaking, Christ has been right there all along.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Asha'ille, Firefly

I made a font for Asha'ille, made Wikipedia userboxes for Asha'ille, and filled out the Firefly Season 2 survey. What have you done lately?

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Monday, January 23, 2006

First Day of Ceramics

Today was my first day of my ceramics class. We learned how to wedge the clay to get rid of air pockets and distribute moisture more evenly within the clay. Clay for classes is free, and thus cheap in quality too. But good enough for us n00bs, eh?

Next, we learned about centering the clay on the wheel. You plop it down and hit it around until it's as good as you can manage — there are concentric rings on the wheel to help you judge its centeredness. Then you start spinning the wheel (with much water added) and pressing one hand against the mass to push it more center. Once it's not wobbling like that, you take your other hand, add pressure to both sides, and "cone up" the clay into a, well, cone. Then you moosh it back down into a mound, and the clay is (theoretically) nice and centered.

Our assignment for today was to make a cylinder, since many other forms are based off that simpler shape. As you can see from the photos, I never mananged a simple cylinder.

My first attempt went very well until I was thinning the walls and making the cylinder taller. At that point, part of the rim collapsed, or exploded, or something. Did Bad Things. But I declared the damaged rim to be a spout, I cleaned it up, and let the piece live.

For my second piece, I played around with the form a bit more. Straight walls being so first-piece, I tried hollowing out the shape but keep a narrow neck. After I'd accomplished that, I realized the base was about twice as thick as it should have been. But at that point, the jar/vase thing was too tall and too narrow for my fingers to thin the bottom. So I took a stick-tool and used it to hollow out another "well" in the clay. Since I couldn't fit my fingers inside the form, I couldn't smooth the new interior wall into the existing interior wall. Oh well, live and learn, eh?

While meddling with the stick-tool, I messed up the upper half of the form. To recover (because I like finding solutions), I ran my nail along the upper half to get rid of some mushy clay and add a spiral texture to it. The lip was majorly disformed at this point — so much so that a spout couldn't save it. A heart shape, on the other hand...

So I'm thinking I'll like this ceramics class more than my casting class from last quarter. Projects come along much faster, the form I shape is the final product, it can be colorful... Hopefully by the end of the quarter I'll actually have a few nice pieces.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Taking Pictures Downtown

Forrest and I went downtown after a failed attempt at going geocaching. (I forgot the keys to my car, which had my GPS unit in it and the sun would have set by the time we could have gotten back to my car.) So we went to two camera stores in town, Jim's Campus Camera and Photography 101. Forrest is getting back into photography, so he's been buying supplies.

Walking between stores, I felt like taking some photos. All I have is a "lousy" (according to elitist manual-cameraist Forrest ;)) digital camera, but that doesn't mean I can't try to have more interesting compositions. So I took a picture of a ficus tree downtown that looked pretty. After some advice from Forrest, I ended up with this picture here.

Then, we saw some weird cubes-as-stairs thing along the side of a building. I wanted to photograph them too, so I took a "normal" shot and then a more "perspectivey" shot. Forrest took one, too.

Finally, I tried to get a picture of these two plants next to a brick wall, but the contrast between the fuzzy plant and the patterned wall didn't turn out like I wanted.



Sunday, January 15, 2006

Classes and Jujitsu

This quarter is going to be very busy for me. I'm taking 20 units, mostly because I'm insane: Introduction to Computer Organization (CSC x225), Introduction to Spanish Linguistics (SPAN 402), History of World Architecture (Middle Ages to the 18th Century) (ARCH 218), Chicano Non-Fiction Literature (ES 300), and Historical Lingusitics (ENGL 400). My taking CSC x225 is amusing because I've already taken all the classes that require it as a prereq: Algorithms, Operating Systems, Compilers I and II, System Programming... Oh well, graduation requirements is graduation requirements. I'm in SPAN 402 with Credit/No-Credit grading, mostly just to keep up on my Spanish (the class is conducted entirely in Spanish). ARCH 218 and ES 300 are GE requirements. ES 300 has soooo much reading... erk. And Historical Linguistics I've set up as an independent study course, to count for my linguistics minor. On top of all that, I'm also taking a ceramics class at the craft center on Mondays and women's jujitsu on the weekends. Hopefully I won't kill myself this quarter! :P

I had my first jujitsu class yesterday. Man, am I sore today. But that's what I get for being inactive and then going to a martial arts class, eh? Because the class is specifically for women, there are no men in the class and the instructor focuses on how to win a fight where the opponent is bigger and stronger. It was a fun first day, and I had planned on going to practice today, but I'm just way too sore. Heh.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Stolen Meme

Meme was stolen from Jerry. Bandwagon and all that.


[X] I am shorter than 5'4. (5'2", but I've long since come to terms with that)

[ ] I think I'm ugly sometimes. (Not so much ugly as not attractive.)

[ ] I have many scars.

[ ] I tan easily. (Unless you count monitor-tan?)

[X] I wish my hair was a different color. (I've always liked auburn and gold-red.)

[ ] I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color.

[ ] I have a tattoo.

[X] I am self-conscious about my appearance.

[X] I have/I've had braces. (Through almost all of junior high.)

[X] I wear glasses.

[ ] I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free. [& pain free]

[ ] I've been told I'm attractive by a complete stranger.

[ ] I have more than 2 piercings.

[ ] I have piercings in places besides my ears.

[ ] I have freckles.

Family/Home Life

[ ] I've sworn at my parents.

[X] I've run away from home. (In elementary school.)

[ ] I've been kicked out of the house.

[X] My biological parents are together.

[ ] I have a sibling less than one year old.

[X] I want to have kids someday. (Maybe.)

[ ] I've had children.

[ ] I've lost a child.


[X] I'm in school.

[ ] I have a job.

[X] I've fallen asleep at work/school. (Morning classes... zzzz...)

[X] I almost always do my homework. (Such a procrastinator, though.)

[ ] I've missed a week or more of school.

[ ] I've been on the Honor Roll within the last 2 years.

[ ] I failed more than 1 class last year.

[X] I've stolen something from my job. (Notepads from Microsoft.)

[ ] I've been fired.


[X] I've slipped out a "lol" in a spoken conversation.

[X] Disney movies still make me cry. (Movies make me cry in general.)

[ ] I've peed from laughing.

[X] I've snorted while laughing. (My family mocks whenever someone does it.)

[X] I've laughed so hard I've cried.

[ ] I've glued my hand to something

[ ] I've laughed till some kind of beverage came out of my nose.

[ ] I've had my pants rip in public


[ ] I was born with a disease/impairment.

[ ] I've gotten stitches/staples.

[ ] I've broken a bone. (Only "strained" — not even sprained. But they still gave me a cast. Because they're lame.)

[ ] I've had my tonsils removed.

[X] I've sat in a doctors office/emergency room with a friend. (I've been to the emergency room twice for myself: caffeine overdose and dog bite.)

[ ] I've had my wisdom teeth removed. (But I probably should have...)

[ ] I had a serious surgery.

[X] I've had chicken pox. (Very mild case, but my mom took me home early from camping anyhow.)


[X] I've driven over 200 miles in one day. (3-day drive from the Bay Area to Seattle, and then the same trip in reverse.)

[X] I've been on a plane.

[X] I've been to Canada. (Summer 2005, for a weekend. With Forrest.)

[X] I've been to Mexico. (This winter break. Oaxaca. Woo!)

[ ] I've been to Niagara Falls.

[ ] I've been to Japan. (Would like to go, though.)

[ ] I've celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

[X] I've been to Europe. (Spain, twice during high school.)

[ ] I've been to Africa. (Not so interested in going there.)


[ ] I've gotten lost in my city.

[X] I've seen a shooting star.

[X] I've wished on a shooting star.

[X] I've seen a meteor shower. (Leonids in the Sierra Nevadas. We order a pizza from the aliens out there, but they still haven't delivered. So my advice: don't support your local extraterrestrial businesses, they don't deserve it.)

[X] I've gone out in public in my pajamas. (Safeway runs with Dad. Hehe!)

[X] I've pushed all the buttons on an elevator. (And I've been in an elevator withe no bottons. ...And no windows, and no doors...)

[X] I've kicked a guy where it hurts. (Not really intentionally, though.)

[X] I've been to a casino. (Never spent any of my own money there.)

[ ] I've been skydiving. (And I have no desire to.)

[ ] I've gone skinny dipping.

[X] I've played spin the bottle. (7th grade parties. Hehe, how cute.)

[ ] I've drank a whole gallon of milk in one hour.

[ ] I've crashed a car. (Been a passenger in two minor accidents.)

[X] I've been skiing. (Cross-country, once, on crappy thin snow.)

[ ] I've been in a play.

[X] I've met someone in person from the internet. (DRML people, at DragonCon.)

[ ] I've caught a snowflake on my tongue.

[ ] I've seen the Northern Lights.

[X] I've sat on a roof top at night. (My Islay apartment.)

[ ] I've played chicken.

[X] I've played a prank on someone.

[X] I've ridden in a taxi. (NY City, eep. And Oaxaca, even scarier. Is true.)

[X] I've seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (DragonCon with Lisa, and the Cal Poly theatre.)

[X] I've eaten Sushi. (To my mom's horror, of course.)

[ ] I've been snowboarding.


[ ] I'm single.

[X] I'm in a relationship.

[ ] I'm engaged.

[ ] I'm married

[ ] I've gone on a blind date.

[X] I've been the dumpee more than the dumper. (3:2 2:3 (misread the question the first). The two were in junior high.)

[X] I miss someone right now. (Olya! Family!)

[ ] I have a fear of abandonment.

[ ] I've gotten divorced.

[X] I've had feelings for someone who didn't have them back. (Countless crushes.)

[X] I've told someone I loved them when I didn't. (In a probably-misguided attempt not to hurt him even more.)

[ ] I've told someone I didn't love them when I did.

[X] I've kept something from a past relationship. (Such a hoarder, especially of sentimental things. Still have notes from my first boyfriend, back in 8th grade.)


[ ] I've had a crush on someone of the same sex.

[X] I've had a crush on a teacher. (7th grade. Was silly.)

[X] I am a cuddler.

[X] I've been kissed in the rain.

[X] I've hugged a stranger.

[ ] I have kissed a stranger


[X] I've done something I promised someone else I wouldn't

[X] I've done something I promised myself I wouldn't.

[X] I've snuck out of my house.

[ ] I have lied to my parents about where I am. (Probably did so in junior high or high school, but I don't recall any particular instances.)

[ ] I am keeping a secret from the world.

[X] I've cheated while playing a game. (Swindled my sisters in a poker game for Halloween candy when we were little.)

[ ] I've cheated on a test. (And I've refused to help others who've asked for answers.)

[X] I've run a red light. (Not intentionally. Oops.)

[ ] I've been suspended from school.

[X] I've witnessed a crime. (Minor prank-y things.)

[ ] I've been in a fist fight.

[ ] I've been arrested.


[X] I've consumed alcohol.

[ ] I regularly drink.

[X] I've passed out from drinking. (When I was 8 and had too much vanilla extract.)

[ ] I have passed out drunk at least once in the past 6 months.

[ ] I've smoked weed.

[ ] I've taken painkillers when I didn't need them.

[ ] I've eaten shrooms.

[ ] I've popped E.

[ ] I've inhaled Nitrous.

[ ] I've done hard drugs.

[X] I have cough drops when I'm not sick. (Cherry's so tasty.)

[ ] I can't swallow pills. (Used to not be able to. Can dry-swallow now.)

[X] I can swallow about 5 pills at a time no problem.

[ ] I have been diagnosed with clinical depression.

[ ] I shut others out when I'm depressed.

[ ] I take anti-depressants.

[ ] I'm anorexic or bulimic.

[X] I've slept an entire day when I didn't need it. (Mmmm, cozy bed...)

[ ] I've hurt myself on purpose.

[ ] I'm addicted to self harm.

[X] I've woken up crying. (Nasty nasty nightmare...)

Death and Suicide

[X] I'm afraid of dying. (But I try not to dwell on it.)

[X] I hate funerals. (More from my personal philosophy not fitting with most "standard" funerals.)

[ ] I've seen someone dying.

[ ] Someone close to me has attempted suicide. (I know of an acquaintance.)

[ ] Someone close to me has committed suicide.

[ ] I've planned my own suicide.

[ ] I've attempted suicide.

[ ] I've written a eulogy for myself.


[ ] I own over 5 rap CDs.

[X] I own an iPod or MP3 player. (Bought with Christmas money when they were new.)

[ ] I have an unhealthy obsession with anime/manga.

[ ] I own multiple designer purses, costing over $100 a piece.

[ ] I own something from Hot Topic.

[ ] I own something from Pac Sun.

[ ] I collect comic books.

[X] I own something from The Gap. (A black scarf purchased with an ancient gift certificate.)

[X] I own something I got on e-bay. (A number of things, actually.)

[ ] I own something from Abercrombie.


[ ] I can sing well. (I don't sing in front of people.)

[ ] I've stolen a tray from a fast food restaurant. (No. Now, forks, on the other hand...)

[ ] I open up to others easily.

[ ] I watch the news.

[ ] I don't kill bugs. (Die, evil bug!)

[ ] I hate hearing songs that sacrifice meaning for the sake of being able to rhyme. (Meh. There are more important things for me to hate.)

[ ] I curse regularly.

[ ] I sing in the shower.

[ ] I am a morning person. (I like being awake for mornings, but I don't like waking up in the morning.)

[ ] I paid for my cell phone ring tone.

[ ] I'm a snob about grammar. (Descriptivists rule! But I know grammar and know its place...)

[ ] I am a sports fanatic. (Very apathetic.)

[X] I twirl my hair. (Occasionally.)

[ ] I have "x"s in my screen name

[X] I love being neat. (But I rarely succeed. Source of much frustration.)

[X] I love Spam. (Only when sliced thin and cooked crispy.)

[ ] I've copied more than 30 CD's in a day.

[ ] I bake well.

[X] My favorite color is either white, yellow, pink, red or blue. (Blue.)

[X] I've worn pajamas to school. (For Pajama Day.)

[ ] I like Martha Stewart.

[X] I know how to shoot a gun.

[ ] I am in love with love.

[ ] I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.

[X] I laugh at my own jokes.

[ ] I eat fast food weekly.

[ ] I believe in ghosts.

[X] I am online 24/7, even as an away message.

[ ] I've not turned anything in and still got an A in a certain class. (Just about, though.)

[X] I can't sleep if there is a spider in the room. (It must die!)

[ ] I am really ticklish. (Sometimes.)

[ ] I love white chocolate. (Ick.)

[X] I bite my nails.

[X] I play video games. (But not often or religiously. SNES is the high point of video games, excepting Myst.)

[X] I'm good at remembering faces.

[ ] I'm good at remembering names

[ ] I'm good at remembering dates.

[X] I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life. (But I'm optimistic that it'll work out anyhow.)

[X] all of those are answered honestly.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Clever Disguise

My boyfriend the Unibomber. Or else it's just Forrest stealing Aaron's sunglasses. Vote now!


Sunday, January 1, 2006

Airport Fun/Boredom

What to do in an airport when you're stuck there for 6 more hours than expected. How nice that the Phoenix airport has this convenient freeform messaging system.


Visiting Forrest's Family

I got the confusing story of why Forrest's grandfather's mother's maiden name was the same as her married name. At least no one is their own grandpa, eh?