Archive for June, 2005

I learned something new!

June 21, 2005
Today I learned how the basics of programming in Javascript! I had done some programming with BASIC, C++, and Java in high school, and Fortran in college. I was enthused by my experiences with writing code; at one point I considered programming as a career. My professor gave me \increasingly more complex programs to write, from computing factorials to computing and displaying hot dog orders, to building databases.

However, I was put off by the tedious compiling process, and the necessity of a seperate programming software suite. Javascript has neither of those issues. It is supported entirely by most web browsers (like IE and Firefox). Though I do not yet have a use for Javascript in my personal web pages, it is still useful to have a programming tool that is simple to use.

I wanted to show an example here, but apparantly this site does not support javascript. I found out that you can even trigger Windows to display a pop-up window with a single line of code. Javascript can help with modular webpage construction, and can even format a site’s appearance based on the day of the week. I’m still just learning, but this has lots of potential.

On another note, I visited Evelyn for her graduation. I will post pictures soon. She placed second in her class, and won two awards for her naval architecture and humanities prowess. Her class lost two students the week before commencement, one to misfortune and one to stupidity. It’s tragic to make it that close to graduation and then suffer that kind of fate. But Evelyn was all smiles and joy when she held her B.S. proudly! I’m proud of you, Evelyn!

I also spent the weekend with Evelyn’s family. Larry and I discussed books, and he will return home with a half-dozen books that he saved from being scrapped. Eilene took Evelyn shopping for business clothes and for Evelyn’s wedding dress. Good luck in that!

Evelyn and I also attended the Broadway musical All Shook Up. It was a very fast-paced and energetic show set to the collected hits of Elvis Pressley. The plot involved several simultaneous love quadrangles, cross-dressing, love found, and love rediscovered. Although I do not care much for Elvis’s music, I did find their use of scenery fascinating. They created the illusion of a motorcycle driving on the open highway and rolling into the small town. Set pieces rotated and slid about while the cast performed their lines and songs. All Shook Up follows the same vein as Hairspray, Movin’ Out, and Mama Mia, combining colorful and energetic performances with humor and musical nostalgia.

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This I believe

June 14, 2005
Okay, I subjected these pages with a pithy rant last week, line after line dripping with disdain, contempt, and frustration. It was a rant that wrote itself, but I dwelled far too long on the negative things in life. I had an off day…

This I believe:

* I believe in doing things right the first time. I wil always do a task not just to the minimum required level, but as complete and as high quality as I can make it, even if that requires more work. I am not scared of work.

* I believe in being useful, both in myself and in everyday things. As my swimming coach once said, "Never be caught doing nothing." I do not like being idle, and I do not surround myself with superfluous baubles and trinkets. If an object has little practical value, then it is merely wasted space, wasted weight, and wasted money. (Similarly, if something is too bulky or cumbersome for its own good, it is cast aside).

* I believe in going the extra mile. It galvanizes the soul, strengthening persistance, motivation and determination, all of which are useful traits to have when trouble strikes.

* I believe in taking the road less traveled. Mediocre paths offer mediocre rewards. The most intriguing and unique discoveries can be found where everyone else fails to look. It’s a good way to pick up neat stories to tell for the rest of your life.

* I believe in having fun, too, but never at anyone else’s expense or humiliation.

* I believe in balance, in maintaining a moderation of all inputs. The best diet is variety. This does well for body and mind. A well-informed person is one who seriously studies and acknowledges all sides, both parallel to their own opinion and contrary to it.

* I believe that a person has the right to say, think, or do anything they wish, as long as they do not impede the rights, life, or liberties of any other individual. It is unjust to punish responsible people for the actions of a few irresponsible people. I do not condone laws that aim to protect the public for their own good; people have vested interests in watching out for themselves, and are able to deal with the consequences of those choices.

* I believe that no one religion or political party can accurately and comprehensively represent my views and ideas. A few days back, I noticed a car on the street that sported both Republican and Democratic bumper stickers. I gotta respect that.

* I believe that, as a civilization founded upon laws, there is an obligation to revisit laws to verify that they are applicable to changing times. An obsolete or outmoded law can do just as much harm as a misguided current one.

* I believe that the greatest challenge facing education today is students’ willpower to learn.

* I believe that fiscal responsibility means living free of all debt, and spending only within one’s means.

* I believe that rap and hip-hop are musical art forms just as much as an F-14 is a street sweeper.

* I believe that any attempts at social engineering or urban planning will inevitably fall victim to the Law of Unexpected Consequences.

* I believe in efficiency. It is noble and challenging to use as little as possible. Environmentalism is a cause that no one can afford to ignore. Recycling is by far the weakest of the three R’s, and that reducing and reusing are far underrated. Conservation is good for business, good for consumers, and good for every species, including us.

* I believe that America’s obesity epidemic started the day they started hiding stairwells and stopped building sidewalks.

* I believe in speaking only when I have something to say. I DO NOT believe in small talk. It accomplishes nothing. I’d rather have a real conversation than the illusion of one.

* I believe in privacy and modesty. Only when you respect your own borders will others respect you.

What is wrong with you….. people?!?!

June 11, 2005
While standing in line at the catered lunch at work yesterday, I had some thoughts. These thoughts struck me after observing something odd. Grown engineers, men in their thirties and forties, were hammng up the lu’au theme of the meal, cavorting around shirtless in grass skirts and coconut bras (in this heat, who can blame them?). What struck me about the incident was how their audience, those of us standing in line for barbeque, applauded and cheered such immature behavior. Excuse me, but since when is immature and childish behovior encouraged? Why has our contemporary society placed such a high value on being ‘one crazy dude (or dudette)"?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always tried to be treated seriously. Since I am small, I appear younger than I actually am by about two or three years. This is what people see me as, and treat me accordlingly. Furthermore, I am of an advanced mental state; I am mentally more advanced than people my age. So as I was growing up, I was a ten-year-old that felt 12 and was treated like I was 8. This persisted long into my high school years. Consequently, I have resented this treatment, and have developed a desire to be taken seriously, to be treated as the mature person I am. It’s gotten better in recent years, but every now and then I still encounter a clerk who thinks I’m still in high school.

So I’ve learned to bear myself with modesty, dignity, and moderated calm. Yet, my peers in the office are still overgrown college kids. It distresses me even more when people older than I act so immature too. Grow up people! Act your age!

I’m afraid social norms are working against me. I must admit that the reality of modern America is one that places a high social value on ‘fun’, on being a free-spirited and uninhibited individual. There is so much immatureity inherently found in the pursuit of hedonistic and narcissistic fun, that it is better to be the life of the party than the quiet host of it. It is cool to get a few drinks in your system, speak loudly and boisterously of every whim that graces your mind, and generally act like an oaf. It is cool to make a complete humiliation of yourself just to get others to laugh. People do this with or without the presence of alcohol, though it helps.

And yet, it is the quiet wallflowers, the ones who stand at the fringes observing this insanity, this bawdy cacophony and wishing to be no part in it, who are considered defective. They are too shy, the masses decry! They have mental disorders and must be medicated! Look around, and look at yourselves, and you will see who truly needs medication.

I realize now that such behavior isn’t as common here in the real world as it was in college. But still people are immature. Those that never put anybody else above themselves. Those who can’t see the greater good because they are too focused on maximizing their own personal gains. Those who do not understand that law and order exist for very good reasons, and dodge those limits when they become inconvenient. People drive lazy, shop lazy, spend lazy, and live lazy. ( I better stop now, before I use my neo-beatnik principles to condemn this world as too consumer comsumption driven; that is a different rant for a different day.)

* Why do people take the elevator to ascend one or two floors?

* Why are some buildings designed only with elevators in mind, relegating the stairwells into cinder block obscurity?

* Why do people take entire fistfuls of napkins at restaurants, and use three of them?

* Why do people always come to rolling stops at street intersections, instead of actually stopping?

* Why do people block entire lanes of parking lots to load and unload, instead of parking and loading/unloading from there?

* Why do people always park as close to the door as possible, despite the fact that it’s just another 200 feet?

* Why do people drive 2 minutes to save 30 seconds of walking?

* Why do people go to national chains instead of local places (assuming there still are local places)?

* Why aren’t city streets more tolerant and accomodating of bicycles? Or is bicycling for travel instead of recreation that much of a stigma now?

* Why must motorcycles be so loud?

* Why, in this day of expensive gasoline and shrinking parking spaces, are trucks and SUVs outselling sedans?

* Whatever happened to non-vocal non-piano jazz, and rock instrumentals?

* Why is hip-hop considered an art form?

* Why does $300 clothing and $20 clothing still look the same?

* Why do middle class suburbanites still dress in sportswear and look like they came from the ghetto?

* Why on earth do people still smoke tobacco?

* Why does it horrify people that I do not carry a cell phone?

* Why is it okay for religious people to share their religious views with me, but not vice versa?

* Whatever happened to listening?

* Why are so many things disposable now?

Family, politics, and pyramids

June 8, 2005
First of all, I had an eventful weekend with Mom and Grandpa Kurpis. We attended Shabbat services at TBS (with guest musician Rick Recht). We tackled Arlington Cemetery and the Air and Space Museum in one day (an impressive endeavor that wore our feet out)! And we did the monument walk the next day. (Note to self: reverse the direction of the circuit, so that the benches and food vendors are more plentiful at the second half rather than the first half.)

Grandpa really enjoyed the Cemetery (especially the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns), the vintage aircraft from WWII, and the WWII and Korean monuments. He told me stories about his memories of FDR’s presidency when he was a young lad. His father never missed one of Roosevelt’s fireside chats, and the whole family would gather around the radio. Grandpa particularly remembers the now-famous speech "I hate war…"

During the monument walk, I found seven virtual caches in the heart of DC, and there are plenty more where they came from! It is rare for a cache to get me to burst out laughing, but the Last Stop for a Weary Traveler did just that. This one was a fun and amusing virtual cache!

I came across this political tidbit recently: http://nightweed.com/usavotefacts.html. It’s the most organized and referenced presentation of this arguement I’ve seen so far. Although it uses a wide variety of news sources, I believe the Achillles heel of this is media bias. I’d love to see what the Young Report would make of this list.

I got another fake credit card in the mail. You have heard my rant before on why this is a waste of oil. I was glad to see that Bank of America uses cardboard instead of plastic now. Apparantly the cost of petroleum is forcing plastic to become so expensive that they can’t give it away for free in the mail anymore. To me, this was a decision I hope they stick with even after oil prices drop. I continue to advocate the reduction of plastic use.

I’ve been playing lots of games online at Super Duper Games. Please come and play some clever games with me; they have six to choose from right now, and Aaron is always looking for more to add (games and players, that is)!

Congratulations to Jacob Davenport for winning the Fourth Icehouse Game Design Contest on Monday!