January 1 Woke up scarcely before noon. Around 3PM, we went over to Palo Alto for the New Year's party of a colleague of my dad's. We saw a first-hand rebuttal to the oft-repeated comment that houses in Palo Alto are not only overpriced, but also not all that nice. I also met a fair number of folks who'd been around since before the valley was the valley, which was neat. Afterwards, we went to Ikea (the new monstrosity in East Palo Alto) for a dresser. We ended up returning empty-handed: they were out of that model.
January 2 Sick again. Whatever I had before seems to be back. Just my luck.
January 3 The throat's okay now, so the cough returned. Got together with friends in the afternoon. Had dinner, played Risk, talked of this and that. That's what vacation's for...
January 4 Packed up most of my stuff, and cleared the car's trunk. Off to the airport to pick up my roommate. He brought back a lot, but fortunately my trunk was empty. Ate lunch out, and then went back to the dorm. Spent a laid back afternoon, before going out to Thai food for dinner with those friends who'd already returned.
January 5 Back to school this morning. This time for real. Somehow, I just want to start the quarter off quickly... First moved my stuff in, and then went off and paid university bill. Kind of shocking to actually see the number on the check. At the bookstore, got a refund on the books I got for classes I can't (or won't take). Looks like lots of people do this too. After dinner, we brought out a birthday cake and candles for a belated birthday celebration for a friend. Forgot about the smoke detectors when lighting the candles. Oh well, I guess they must not work too well. For a Safeway cake, it was pretty good, and it was a nice note to start things off on.
January 6 First day of school. Woke up latish, and so missed breakfast. Spent the morning paying bills, running errands, and doing nothing really to speak of. After lunch, I had my first (and only) class of the day: History 64S: Jews and Muslims. First impressions are good. 2 hours classes scare me, but this one kept moving, and we covered a good bit of ground. We started with the official status of Jews in Muslim lands, as laid down in the pact of Umar. A surprisingly complicated document, given that it is purportedly 1300 years old. Had an amazingly lengthy dinner chatting of this and that. Then afterwards, went off with friends for billiards in Mountain View. Long day.
January 7 I have the suspicion Wednesday won't be my favorite day of the week this quarter. Nor Monday really, which is exactly the same. I made it to Math 109 (Applied Group Theory) barely on time. The professor managed to give a surprisingly interesting and substantive lecture for the first day of class. If only the others had too. Went to lunch, where I ran into a number of folks from last year, one of which apparently is sharing a class. Pity that the shared class is discrete math, where the first lecture was positively 100% missing course material. I am not thrilled. As for CS 108 (aka Java programming language and libraries in 10 weeks), I knew the lecturer from over the summer, and though he might have gotten his master's since, he's the same guy. That is to say nice, helpful in person, and always oversimplifying in lecture. For Persian class, we apparently weren't meeting today, but I didn't realize that. So back to the dorm for dinner. Discovered my discrete math book that I bought is useless, because the software for it is already registered, hence I must go and buy another one (another book, since you can't buy just the software). Aggravating. Oh, and I ordered a delete key for my keyboard (still can't believe they charged $13). Hope it arrives soon.
January 8 Having not practiced flute in rather too long, I got up early and practiced before my lesson. After my lesson, I had lunch, and started the readings for history. However, when I went to the room for the history seminar, nobody else was there. Later realized that I'd made a mistake: class meets only on Tuesday. Consquently my Thursday suddenly feels much less full. So I spent the evening organizing stuff instead. Not exactly that productive, but it makes me feel like I did something.
January 9 Started the day running errands, which went well. I received a keypad for my "delete" key in the mail, so I once again have a full keyboard. I managed to pay various bills, and bought sunscreen for the ski trip. Group theory and Discrete Math followed, with the brief interlude between spent in those horrid music practice rooms. Bus for the ski trip was nominally due to leave at 3PM, so I dutifully hurried back, packed (the minimal amount of stuff), and grabbed sushi in lieu of lunch. Of course, it took a good while to get everybody on the bus, and still longer to actually leave, so we left pretty much the same time everybody else was leaving work. I believe that's what they call rush hour! And so, we spent more than 3 hours getting to Sacramento. Near Davis, the bus stopped for dinner, and after that, it was another 3 hours going up 50 to South Tahoe. The fact that it was 7 hours after leaving when we arrived to pick up the key, and another hour before we actually got to the house didn't make anybody especially happy. However, we did manage to settle down, play a few games of hearts (with rules I wasn't used to), and finally go to sleep around 2AM.
January 10 Dazed and confused pretty much described those of us woken up at 6AM to get ready for skiing. I managed not to forget anything important (save, perhaps, common sense), and the twenty or so skiiers wandered took the bus to Heavenly's California Lodge. Despite glitches getting lift tickets, and my problem getting boots that fit, skiing was on the whole good. After losing my companion (actually he went back to change equipment) I spent most of the day exploring the slopes alone. For the morning, I did blue slopes on the California side, but for the afternoon, I went over to the Nevada side. I tried to find where we'd gotten lost last year, but I somehow ended up at Stagecoach Lodge instead of Boulder Lodge. Anyhow, coming back to California involved 3 lifts, and half a dozen slopes, so I was dog tired when I got back (on time).
The second stage of the day was somewhat less smooth. A nosy neighbor called the landlady of the house we were staying at, claiming we had a too many people (true, but not their business really), so we'd rented another place, to move the extra people to. Problem was the bus driver was very reluctant to take us from one house to another (once those being thrown out, the "non-party people", including me, had been selected). We did eventually get to the second house, but the whole experience proved just a massive headache. Did at least get some sleep.
January 11 Up at half past 6 to pack and clear out. Miraculously, when the bus arrived an hour later, we were packed and ready. We didn't even manage to forget anything important. Went back to the other house to pick up everybody else. They'd apparently had a bit too good of a night, and so beginning to have regrets :-) We made it to the ski slopes just before 9AM, as the sun was beginning to peep over the top of the mountain. The Tahoe views were as breathtaking as ever. Resisting the herd mentality, I managed to keep myself off of black diamonds all morning. Just as well, since I nearly had a nasty accident with a tree and was generally having issues turning.
So I had a good 4 hours of skiing in the morning. We probably went down every blue slope on the California side of Heavenly. Toward the end, I tried to take pictures, only to realize that my film wasn't loaded properly. Loaded another roll, so hopefully I have something out of the whole trip. Returned to the bus around 1, so tired I could barely stand. The ride back proved something of a nice surprise, lacking for the most part in traffic and stopping only briefly for fast food. All told, it took only about 5 hours to get back to Stanford. Had dinner, started on homework, and caught up on the world. Finally went to sleep at the insanely early hour of 11.
January 12 Woke up with the sorest leg muscles I've had in a long time. Shoulders aren't any too good either. Commenced working on discrete math in the morning, and managed to totter over to math class at 11. Feeling sociable, I returned to the dorm for lunch, then wished I hadn't, as there wasn't anyone about who I particularly wanted to talk to. Afternoon classes were like watching paint dry. Sloooowly. I didn't quite fall asleep in any, but I didn't miss by much. Ended the day in a highly disagreeable mood. What did I do to deserve such dull lecturers?
January 13 Spent all morning working on discrete math homework. I particularly dislike the fact that you absolutely cannot due the homework without a computer (more than half the homework had to be electronically submitted). Since I for one use the computer for just about anything and everything but work, its very unhelpful. Did my readings for history as well. History seminar was focused today mainly on Jews in the Ottoman world, and how they fit into the societies of the late 16th century. We dissected some rather interesting source materials too. In the evening, the class screened a movie about Jews in Morocco. An interesting documentary despite some pretty blatant propaganda (though being made in 1980, I shouldn't be too surprised). The primary thing that stuck in my head were the contradictions of the exiles. Thus on the final day of passover, as Jews visit each other (in a distinctly Moroccan celebration), some proclaim, "next year in Jerusalem", yet a Moroccan Jew in Israel sings folk songs of the lost culture and shrines of centuries that they have left behind in Morocco.
January 14 I think I came up with a good codename for this quarter: Operation Avalanche. Unfortunately, I may be on the wrong end. Did homework from 9-11AM, went to class from 11-6, and worked on my first CS 108 assignment from 7-11. Yes I am tired. Tomorrow is another day, yes. I hope one with more hours in it.
January 15 And being a Thursday, off bright and early for flute practice and lesson. In less than 2 weeks, I have a concert. Scary. Well, at least I know what I'm playing, even if I have a good bit of work to do. Got a good chunk of code written for CS 108. Unfortunately I forgot the cardinal rule of ?test early and often" and also did a poor job reading the assignment handout, so I had to redo a fair bit. In all fairness, the assignment handout is grossly unspecific and some areas, especially since the code they've provided us with makes some pretty narrow assumptions. Harrumph.
January 16 Only 3 classes today, but I was good and tired by the time afternoon finally came around. So when friends from home dropped by it was quite welcome. We went to a noodle shop in the Stanford mall for an early dinner, and then wandered of to a billiard parlor in Palo Alto (after the dorm's billiard table proved unsatisfactory). There follow a good 2 hours of making fools of ourselves. I still don't think I know how to hold the cue correctly.
January 17 In the morning went to Arastradero preserve for a walk. It was a surprisingly cool day, though quite nice weather-wise. Spring is taking its time I guess. Spent most of the afternoon on CS 108, ironing out dumb bug after dumb bug. For dinner, a group of us went to Palo Alto to Cheesecake Factory. Which turns out required an hour wait, since they're apparently very popular. Ended up visiting the Apple store, and playing on the G5s. Nice machines, those :-) Dinner was okay, but not great. The cheesecake in fact was rich enough that eating more than a piece was pretty much a physical impossibility. We headed back after dinner, and I resumed bug-hunting.
January 18 Sundays inevitably are not my favorite day. This one wasn't exceptional. My trip to the library was somewhat unproductive, and I discovered that the CS 103A book is tied to the included CD quite heavily, to the point that the examples don't make sense without the CD. I did manage to play around rather too much with java, converting one of the old pi calculating programs I used into java. Surprisingly, it's only twice as slow. Alas, the fast one I usually use was not easily translatable into java. It does some really annoying pointer stuff.
January 19 Today was the Iowa caucus. I'm rather peeved neither of my favorite candidates won. In fact the only Democrat worse the Kerry didn't even campaign in the state. Blech. The biggest aggravation is this is the man that the party leadership picked. Its thanks to said leadership that Al Gore got the nomination in 2000, and subsequently lost an election which really should not have been a contest.
January 20 Whew that's a lot of reading. As has become my habit, did all my history reading the morning before class. Which is to say it's very fresh in my mind, but some of it leaked away in the hurry to finish. Was almost late to class. Discussion proved as much an analysis of argumentation, as of the source material, which gave things a nice different dimension. After class, went back to the dorm for dinner, and somehow was dragooned into watching the entire "State of the Union" address. One can summarize it as an hour long collection of cliches, half-truths, and undeserved self-congratulation. In short, what its always been, save for the self-righteous hypocrisy.
January 21 Had the usual 11-6 run of classes with an hour for lunch, and another for break. I am seriously unenthusiastic about my 2 CS classes. It's not even that the material is dull. It's just the presentation is not good. Anyway, it's over. The other parts of the day were spent on math homework, so that pretty much sums things up.
January 22 As of about 7AM I'm no longer a teenager. Yep, I've now been haunting this screwed up planet for 20 whole years. Which of course meant by definition that today would be nutty (just like last year). Actually, it was surprisingly conventional day. Flute lesson, work, more work, and so more work. Thursday is usually a catch-up day, and this was no exception. I did spend dinner wearing a purple hat with a white lilly on it. My roommate tells me it's a symbol of fertility. Not quite sure how that works. Oh well.
January 23 Yawn. Well, I made it to all my classes, which is saying something. Spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to understand math for next week. It's not that its hard, it's just that I get stuck and once that happens, good luck. After dinner, made origami for the first time in a while. Didn't really succeed at anything special, but I was surprised how many other people like origami too... Also watched a few more hours of Fellowship of the Rings. Not a bad movie, but long...
January 24 Up late thanks to yesterday's movie. I missed the job fair, which turns out to be a mistake since they had all manner of cool free stuff. For the afternoon, we went to see "Winter One Acts", a collection of short production written and produced by students. Some were weird, some were silly, and one was just plain strange. Which I supposed was the point. In the afternoon, I actually started the CS 108 project. Good thing since they said this one's supposed to be a doozy: tetris. Rotating pieces proved surprisingly complicated.
January 25 All morning pretty much devoted to CS 108. Tetris is starting to take shape, but very slowly. In particular my debugging skills leave something to be desired. Around 2PM, my father picked me up to go to Foster City for a flute choir concert. Rehearsal was a little shaky, but the concert actually worked out amazingly well. We even got asked for any encore, which was kind of too bad, since didn't have one prepared. I hope the last hundred bars of Rossini's William Tell Overture fit the bill. After that, went home, and worked on CS 103A. Fitch is being truly unkind. Of course instead of dinner, we had a late birthday celebration, so I ate rather more than was good for me. Don't know where the blueberries came from (blueberries in January strike me as something of a heresy) but they tasted good. Went to bed awful early: midnight.
January 26 Oh how I love Mondays. Not really. A long day with little to show for itself, and even less to recommend it for the future. Returned back to the dorm in the morning, where I had a 2 hour head-scratching session trying to solve a CS 103A problem. Failed. Spent pretty much all afternoon going through the many history readings for the week. I need to stop doing them the day before. Oh well... I now have a much better grasp of the AIU (Alliance Israelite Universelle), and of the somewhat contradictory nature of analyses of Jews in Morocco. All in all interesting stuff, but there really is a lot to digest.
January 27 Finished JTetris this morning, much to my surprise. Well, the surprised ended when I realized it was 1:30PM actually, and I'd just spend 4 hours without noticing. Ah well. History seminar was all about the changing dynamics of late 19th century North Africa and Middle East. The readings for the week were rather interesting, so I hope this bodes well for the paper due next week. I was just heading back to the dorm, when it popped into my head that I had a rehearsal with a pianist ahead of tomorrow's concert. So I rushed madly over to the music building, got there 5 minutes late, and played about the worst I've done in weeks. Hope that's not a sign of things to come. Evening therefore spent brushing up on music. Went to a talk by a Jerusalem Post reporter on the situation in Israel. Received pretty much the official Likudnik line. According to the speaker, pretty much all criticism of Israel outside of the U.S. is attributable to anti-Semitism. The crowd was suitably appreciative of his points though. On interesting thing was that my professor from last quarter (Zionism and the Arab-Israeli conflict) was named as an example of the anti-Israel/anti-Semitic bent of college campuses. Especially amusing, since he has family in Israel. Oh, and Dean lost New Hampshire. Time for cynicism to reassert itself.
January 28 Let's hear it for Wednesday. Or not. My Math 109 midterm reminded me of physics last year. I left knowing exactly what it was that I didn't know. The noon concert, where I played Hindemith's Sonata, was another exercise in humility. From the start something seemed off, and whatever it was, it never got back on track again. Came awfully close to some major train wrecks. This, mind you, between performances by two people who played absolutely flawlessly, and much harder stuff to boot. This set the stage for a nice dull afternoon of class, and a dull evening of problem sets. Things could be better.
January 29 Yesterday left a really bad taste in my mouth. Still, managed to get up early, and practice before my flute lesson. Afterwards, spent the afternoon, pretty much in its entirety, working on CS 108, with a bit on 103A as well. Thankfully nothing really complicated. Right now, I don't do complicated stuff. Unfortunately a Thursday night party downstairs made working rather difficult, so I had to make do with less useful pursuits.
January 30 Up at the usual hour, and to work on CS. I've gotten JHistogram mostly working. The main problem at this point is actually that I can't get any of my controls (buttons, etc.) to appear. Discovered LayoutManager and setLayout(). Excellent. Just need to find the right one now. At math class, we continued along the trail of Isomorphisms. I find it odd that everything in class is so clear, yet the midterm was so unclear. I don't fully understand. Oh well. Professor recommends not dropping the class based on midterm grades. I'm not so sure. Had lunch, and spent a sleepy and unproductive afternoon doing assorted miscellanies. Managed to disgust myself thoroughly with dinner. Also saw my penguin (the big one) being waltzed down the hall. Something tells me he's the most popular one in our room.
January 31 Saturday = no class + brunch. This seemingly unbalanced equation finally fell over, as dinner, watching "A few good men", almost finishing CS 103A and CS 108 homework, and whatnot caught up. The usual suspects had too little to do, which explains the movie. I actually thought it was a decent movie, though of course I was rooting for the mad colonel the whole time. Also Roger Federer, aka "Fed-express" won the Australian Open which was cool. Always nice when finesse triumphs over brute force (I was thinking of Andy Roddick). Oh, I also found this gem in the Sunday Guardian. Why am I not surprised?