February 1 Goodbye January, hello February. Admittedly I haven't noticed the difference, but that may change. Our attempt at developing medium format film in photography class has even been moderately successful! Of course, all my pictures were woefully underexposed, but the ones everyone else took look pretty good. My only complaint is that the odor of photographic chemicals is really strong. Stop bath is the worst, even though it's supposedly just acetic acid (which I thought was vinegar). The stuff we have is so concentrated that we have to dilute it 700:1 with water before use! The process for developing the larger film is really almost identical to that of regular film, except that the edges of the film lacks rungs, so rolling it up on the reel took nearly half an hour! Better luck next time I hope. It didn't help either that the vent and door of the darkroom leaked significant quantities of light.
February 2 Had a nice outing tonight. I have now seen Lord of the Rings twice. I think I'd even be interested in seeing it again. I'm not a big moviegoer, but I'm sure that this movie will become a classic, if for no other reason than its extremely good track record of following the plot of the books. I read those first when I was 11, and I've read them at least once a year since. It stinks that the next one isn't due out until next December.
February 3 Not much happened today. I made an abortive attempt to revive the PowerMac 8500 which has been acting as a desk placeholder. I have very nostalgic feelings about Macs, but spending an hour and a half dealing with extensions conflicts has helped alleviate that. I also read Kafka's Metamorphosis in the evening. I think I'd have to consider it one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. Brief summary: man turns into cockroach, his family doesn't know how to deal with it, so they put up with him for a bit, and when he dies, they realize how much better off they are without him. Reminds me of a bumper sticker I've seen a few times: save the planet, kill yourself.
February 4 I hate Mondays. They're not only disconcerting, but I start to have trouble staying awake around 1:30PM which is precisely the time that I'm driving over to my math class. Famous quote of the day (from the said math class): "Consider a number of islands populated by birds." "Why birds? Why not rabbits?" "They have to be able to go from island to island." "So? How about flying rabbits?" This lovely bit of prose preceded an introduction into the use of eigenvectors to solve systems of differential equations.
February 5 Lunch was spent out photographing with our school's spiffy new medium format camera (a Mamiya 645 FWIW). I have two problems with the camera. It's bulky, which isn't too surprising, and it's plastic, which is. I mean, when you buy a $1,200 camera, you expect a certain amount of quality. Nonetheless, this particular camera has a primarily plastic body which feels distinctly clunky. For now, I think I prefer regular 35mm cameras. Not to mention that getting medium format film on a reel is like "herding cats." Medium format film lacks rungs on the edges, so rolling it up onto the reel is a very tricky process. With the last roll it took nearly 35 minutes to get the film on the reel successfully!
February 6 I knew today would be interesting, and it was. First of all, it seems that all my classes were missing at least a third of the regular populace. Between a very nasty flu, marine biology field trip and acute attacks of senioritis, it's a wonder anyone showed up at all. I took a brief peak at SPEC CPU 2000 and discovered that Intel's P-IV Xeon (ugh) is near the top of the charts in integer performance. It scores more than double the poor Itanium (802 v. 378).
February 7 I'd say everyone stayed home today to miss the government and biology tests, but as most of them were gone yesterday too, I'm not sure how fair that is. My new lunch routine was also compromised today. It usually consists of driving to town and buying some doughnuts, driving back, and sitting outside of the band room eating doughnuts and talking to friends for the rest of lunch. Today it rained though. In fact, it rained pretty continuously from 11:30AM to 9:00PM. Flute choir was a nice interlude between doing math homework and doing math homework in the evening, but all in all things worked well. I have gotten a full 75% of the problem set done without external help/hints.
February 8 Hallelujah, it's Friday. Looks like I shouldn't have stayed up as late doing math homework, as I began to fall asleep around 10AM this morning. I've heard that in college, you have three priorities, and you'll have to sacrifice one. They are schoolwork, sleep, and social life. I'm pretty sure as of today that without sleep, I won't be able to do schoolwork, let alone have a social life, so one of those two will have to give. I've now set about mp3ing my entire CD collection which is fortunately as yet pretty small. I'm really disappointed by the ripping speed though, because my 40x drive only rips at about 1.5-3x. This is using cdparanoia and RedHat 7.2. The encoder, on the other hand is very fast. I'm using gogo (recently renamed petit), and I have to say that encoding at 15x is pretty amazing!
February 9 Ah-choo. I am officially sick today. Looks like something caught up with me. For the first time since January 12, we had more than 50% of the old gang together. The old gang, from last year, was a group of about 8 geeks, nerds, misfits, or otherwise odd people (they probably object to that characterization). Anyway, now we've agreed to do that more often. I have now seen two movies in two weeks! This week was The Mothman Prophecies, which actually was pretty good, despite my initial fears that it would be yet another pointless horror movies.
February 10 Sundays are usually low-key, and today was no exception. Aside from going out for lunch (I think I've been out to lunch since my birthday), my day consisted of homework, computer, and more homework, oh yeah, and a lot of time on the phone too. I've come to the conclusion that the official purpose of the phone is to distract me from getting anything constructive done. Today it worked too.
February 11 I woke up at 7:40 (school starts at 7:45) and wished I hadn't. Sore throat. Blazing headache. I spent most of the day in bed. On the bright side, I got a lot of reading none. Didn't do much with the computer though. I managed to wake up enough, that I was awake when a 3:00PM call from the school's principal told me I was a Natonal Merit Finalist. I went to sleep again shortly thereafter.
February 12 Now that I've been sick for a few days, I'm getting the hang of it. The scary part about going back to school is how little work I have to make up. I got a nice brochure reminding me of AP tests in May. Looks like the College Board thinks I'm looking forward to them. How about no. I visited the orthodontist for the first time in 6months, but as I won't be going again for another six months, I guess I don't really mind.
February 13 Today was math midterm/consider the implication of Valentine's Day day. For the former, I spent about 5hours studying in Meyer library. I can happily say that I actually understood all the problems on the test, which is much better than the first midterm last quarter. Unfortunately, further investigation after the test has convinced my that 15 of the 12 answers I gave were probably wrong, if not more. Have to wait for results until next week. As for Valentine's Day, I've gradually joined the "oh no, here we go again" crowd, composed of those who either believe love sucks, or that it's celebration can get obnoxious. I fall into both camps, so there's no problem there.
February 14 And that, as they say, is Valentine's Day. By far the most startling news of the day was featured on slashdot.org where the incurable CmdrTaco, alias Rob Malda, threw in the towel on bachelorhood. Clearly stirred by his eloquence, he apparently received a positive response shortly thereafter. My favorite quote of the day: "There's a difference between being lonely and being alone. I am alone. I am not lonely." Otherwise, the flowers flying around school were plentiful, and the weather turned mildly foggy. SatireWire had a great piece about French judges awarding the Afghan war to the Taliban. Not that I follow the Olympics, but the idea is a bit curious. Especially the part when Rumsfeld says: "We must move on." I wonder how much he'd feel like moving if he'd just lost a limb or family member to a cluster bomb or anti-tank mine.
February 15 Uncle Sam tells me I can vote! Woohoo! Even if I am the only person on the planet who intends on voting a straight Green Party ticket. Today was about 45% miracle, 40% disaster and 15% whaddaya call it. Miracle was my voter registration in the mail, and the discovery that this webpage has actually had hits not from 63.197.19*.*. Apparently there have also been a number of script kiddies, so I shouldn't get too excited. The bad news was that my calculation of 32million digits of pi was incorrectly timed (-2302.24 seconds no less, ah the joys of overflowing integers). Looks like I'll be letting that one run over night tomorrow.
February 16 I really dislike shopping, but the Apple store on University Avenue almost changed my mind. Lots and lots of big beautiful LCDs (including the infamous 22" Cinema Display that Matt would kill for), a number of fancy looking iMac2s, and a couple of TiBooks. If only I had another $5k or so, but I digress. I managed to kill one of the display 'books just by walking up to it (and had the entertaining spectacle of two store employees do the exact same things I'd done to try to "unfreeze" it, no really, cmd-opt-esc didn't work the third time either). At this stage I'm still undecided about whether I should beg for a TiBook 667MHZ or 550MHZ. Considering as it wouldn't be my money, I should simply go for the fancier one. But somehow, justifying $600 for an extra 117MHZ seems a bad idea. In fact, aside from a trip to Trader Joe's which netted about 15pounds of granola, my only purchase of the day was the official soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings. Which served to remind me that the Two Towers will be coming out in about 10 months. And that of course makes me real grumpy.
February 27 Awoke this morning with visions of ringswraiths charging up Lewis Foster drive toward my school. I was mildly disappointed to discover that this wasn't in fact the case. Fortunately I have the upcoming week off, so avoiding ruminations on school shouldn't be too tough. I realized today that my friend supply is kind of depleted this vacation. One is of course off in Illinois, practicing to be a Republican, another's off in Worcester looking at colleges, and so on and so forth. This has the nice effect of giving me all sorts of extra time to procrastinate about doing math homework, and to continue the nearly unbearably slow process of building a website. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I enjoy more than writing out line after line of poorly formatted HTML 4.01 Transitional compliant code (well, some disagree with that), but sometimes I get the feeling I'm missing something. Ah, there, I found it! My copy of Two Towers was hiding under the latest shipment of college junk mail (I really wish there was a way to say "I've already been accepted elsewhere, so spare the trees"). Oh, and I also had the good fortune today of trying to compile GNU software on Windows. Ouch! Libtool was still configuring after I came back from lunch. Enough for today. I need chemicals (or sleep, or both for that matter).
February 18 Mondays stink, even if they are occasionally holidays. I am officially declaring war on Mondays. I haven't determined what to do about it yet, but I'm working on it. Meanwhile, I've been doing a lot of pi calculation, and have finally decided that graphs look a heck of a lot better than data tables. Only problem is that Excel keeps choosing obnoxious colors for my datapoints. There really isn't a big difference between yellow and gold in my eyes (in fact I once made the mistake of telling a girl that she had yellow hair. Oops...). I have also been steadily plugging away at moving my pi-page to the new format. Looks like it'll take longer than I thought.
February 19 I went with dad to Hewlett Packard today. I finally realized why days at Hewlett Packard leave me so depressed: the cubicle I'm in is full of nonfunctional computer equipment. For example, there's a nice PowerMac G3. Problem 1: Nobody knows the login and password for MacOS X, so one must use MacOS 8.6. Problem 2: The monitor has a severe case of the pincushion effect. None of the 2,500 different monitor settings seem to help. Problem 3: The e, d and c keys on the keyboard don't work. You get the idea. On the bright side, I've uncovered yet another bug in the Intel ia64 C compiler for Linux. Build pi program at default options: get floating point exception. Build pi program at -O0 (no optimization), no problem. Build pi program at -O3 (all optimizations, even the ones which may not help): no problem. Conclusion: Intel chose to default to the one optimization level which doesn't work (there are 3: -O0, -O1/-O2, and -O3, I guess they default to -O1). Aside from being very computer oriented, the day worked out pretty well. Nothing like having an 18" penguin on your back seat to help brighten your day, I guess.
February 20 The old pi page is no longer! Woohoo. That means that this page might actually get a few hits. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to be more careful here, so as not to offend potential viewers. I just want to make it totally clear to whoever actually reads this page that I am not, nor have I ever been, a particularly tactful person. So for those of you who are easily offended, TOO BAD! I guess that's YOUR PROBLEM, at least unless you own a semiautomatic weapon and live in the greater San Francisco bay area. I really should learn not to be so defensive, but it's so much more fun when I am. Since I might actually have visitors now, I think I'll try out a new item: link of the day. Today's link: SatireWire. In slightly less confrontational news, my car is now officially smog-checked, and I am no longer in a state of war with anyone, at least so long as I am aware. This is probably a good thing, since I really am a fan of old fashioned fights, where people settle their differences by tearing each other's guts open with really long sharp knives. Alas, not so in our enlightened century.
February 21 I spent a productive morning changing my webpage to use jpegs instead of pngs. Yeah, I know pngs are lossless and jpgs are lossy. But pngs have a habit of not displaying in certain versions of Internet Explorer. By using pngs, I hope to both reduce bandwidth strain and avoid breaking on IE. En route to math class, I discovered that there was a major accident on 92, and attempted to go around it. Net results: I arrived with perhaps 10 minutes left in class. Not good. Fortunately, I was able to go to Mayer Libraru and get some work done. I also dropped in on the campus bookstore and ran some pi calculations on the Macs there while no one was looking. And yes, those new iMacs look really cool. In fact LCDs in general look really cool. My evening had flute choir in it, and today we all played solo pieces. I can't say I played all that well, but at least I know what to practice for next weekend.
February 22 Today was a pretty odd day. I spent the morning working on math homework and computing pi, and went to lunch with a lot of my dad's former co-workers. He was at a C++ compiler company called Peritus before they went out of business and were bought by Lucid. Lucid originated XEmacs although it was called Lucid Emacs back then. Of course, Lucid went under 1993ish, and now, the people with the rights to the compiler are Texas Instruments of all people. Still it was a cool compnay, and I spent a number of formative years flying paper airplanes across halls dotted with cubicles and Sun workstations. After math class, I couldn't get into HP 'cause my dad had disappeared, so I spent an hour and half wandering aimlessly through the heart of Silicon Valley. Moral of the story: I hate driving, I hate urban sprawl, and I'm beginning to realize that there are much worse places to live than Half Moon Bay. I think I want to move to either Denmark, Holland or Switzerland. Anywhere to get away from sprawl, cars, and the everpresent strip malls.
February 23 The weather was a little weird today. I awoke to clear blue skies and a nice warm sun. By the time I had had my flute lesson and drove over to a Pacifica for a hike, it was kind of cloudy. We ended up parking by a golf course, and walking to the trailhead, but it was nice hike. We followed the Mori Ridge trail up to the point where Gaspar de Portola discovered the San Francisco bay on November 4, 1769. Needless to say that be the time we got there, it was foggy and the view wasn't so great, but it was still a good one hour hike. Coming back, we tried to take the Sweeney Ridge trail. That ended us smack dab at Skyline College, so we had to walk down the road for a mile or two to get back to the car. Stupid Sharp Park Road doesn't even have a bike lane most of the way! In the evening, I saw Lord of the Rings a third time with a friend. Aside from the poorly constructed seats in the theater I had a fun evening. Especially driving for 40 miles with the gas light on. I even managed to get gas at a station which was closed. I guess this must've been my lucky day or some such.
February 24 Today might have been a nice day, but I didn't notice. Spent a good chunk of the day reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man deciding that James Joyce, while a great writer, obviously took no pains to making reading his books a particularly accessible activity. Things like lack of quotation marks may not be a problem for English majors, but they frustrate me to no end. Discovered that the GNU MultiPrecision arithmetic package is heavily optimized for Alpha. Want to know why? Program on x86 runs 50% faster on Itanium, but 150% faster on Alpha (933MHZ P-III v. 800MHZ Itanium v. 667MHZ Alpha 21264). I am suitably impressed. Went out to dinner with friends today. Realized that the story of how Britain accidentally "invaded" Spain last week was actually a lot funnier than I thought. Hmmph.
February 25 This must be the first Monday I've actually enjoyed in a long time. Not only was it warm, with a clear blue sky, but all the homework I didn't do wasn't collected! I've been invited to join the school's jazz band, something which I've wanted to do for a real long time. But as you probably know, I play flute, and flute != jazz instrument for most practical purposes. Fortunately, this purpose isn't practical at all. Of course, it is always nice to get to see people after a week of vacation, and almost everybody seemed in a good mood. I guess it was infectious, because I'm still in a good mood, an unusual occurrence after 9PM PST. It seems these entries become less succint as time goes on, so I'll try to do better next time. My original idea was something like the diaries seen on advogato, but obviously I'm way too wordy for that!
February 26 Aaron Copeland is a great composer, and I love his music, but did he HAVE TO use such godawful strange time signatures. I mean, switching from 5/8 to 4/8 and back at odd intervals is not helpful. And the piano part makes it even more confusing. Spent much of the day thinking over deep matters. Then discovered my head hurts. Serves me right for trying to solve the world's problems during the last 4 hours. Now I'll settle for no headache, and no problems that I can call me own. I have now resolved that nothing less than an all out assault will prevent me from perishing amidst schoolwork and "extracurriculars" but I haven't decided what to attack yet, so that'll have to wait too. Yay!
February 27 Perhaps the strangest day in the last few months today. It began, innocuously enough, without much sleep. School was slow, but then again, it's a Wednesday. The weather cannot decide if it will be pleasant or otherwise. Went on a donut run for lunch, and came back to school to bask in the sun for a few minutes. Then back to work. Finally came home after math class for a very long phone conversation. Then went back to working on homework. Called a friend in the evening, and discovered that the contents of the first conversation had now passed to four people. Hmm...
February 28 Received many weird looks at school today. Not quite sure if it is mainly my imagination or the result of yesterday's phone calls. Oh well. Took a somewhat unappetizing government test on public opinion. I have no problem with the topic, I just wish there was less of "the text says which of the following about that..." I assume the purpose of the class is to learn government, not the book. Flute choir was fun, and I think we're beginning to sound pretty good too.