Archive for September, 2006

Bad morning

For some reason, I’m angry this morning. Perhaps it’s because the Senate just passed a bill (that the House had already passed) allowing the president to interpret the Geneva Conventions. Basically, the president can now decide what is torture and what is not. Also, the bill effectively pardons anyone who already participated in torture (which would have been illegal at the time). Clearly, my government is not worried about ethics, only expediency. And the nation doesn’t seem to care! The NYT reported on this story as though the Democrats who voted against the bill were going out on a limb, when it should be the other way around!

Then, it was almost impossible to see how my representatives had voted on the bill. I’m pleased to say that they all voted against, and I called them and thanked them for it. Nonetheless, it should be WAY easier to look this stuff up. Project Vote Smart is pretty good, but they don’t have the records of the most recent votes, even though that would be easy as hell to pull off of Thomas (government bill lookup). I’m angry that the government makes it so hard to find out what the hell they’re doing; it suggests that they want us to be in the dark.

If you want to know how your representatives voted, you’ll have to combine the following resources: The Senate record, The House record, and Project Vote Smart to find out which representatives are yours. Fortunately, once you find out, it’s quite easy to call them: Project Vote Smart has their telephone numbers.

Then, Kate and I argued, too, and that hasn’t helped anything. I picked the fight, presumably because I was irritable and angry anyway. Kate, I’d just like to say I’m sorry.

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“Bum”ped

A bum pushed me today. As I was walking down Center street, minding my own business, he walked up to me and shoved me with both hands on my shoulder, saying “Don’t walk up in my face.” I looked at him without stopping, and he didn’t seem to be following that up with anything, so I walked off, bemused. Once I’d crossed the street, a woman came up to me and expressed her amusement at the whole thing. I have to admit, it’s clearly the craziest thing that’s happened to me today.

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Damn the Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle just sicced a collection agency on me, claiming that I owe them about $30. I signed up for a $15 short-term trial, and paid up front. I never signed up for anything else; I don’t have time to read the paper during the school year. I don’t owe them anything, and later today I’ll call and try to explain that to them. Wish me luck.

This is a shame, because until now I didn’t harbor any negative feelings toward the Chronicle. Now I hope they die in a fire.

Edit at 2:30pm Pacific: I called them and they waived the fee, instructing me: Next time, remember when your subscription is going to end and then call us to cancel it, because otherwise we’ll sign you up without your consent. WTF kind of policy is that?!

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Bad jeans

I got kicked out of the gym today for wearing jeans. The first reason they gave made a lot of sense: jeans would slowly damage their equipment. The second reason the guy told me wasn’t so reasonable, though. He said, “We’re trying to create an environment… (he gestured around) … no one else is wearing jeans.” I wasn’t even really sure what he meant by it.

In any case, I had gotten to do most of what I really wanted, so I was okay leaving. But for the future, I need to buy some gym shorts.

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Bathroom etiquette

I think I just pissed off some old guy at ICSI when I used the urinal next to him. I understand it’s good etiquette to leave at least one empty urinal between guys, but the fact is that ICSI has only 2 urinals. Anyway, shortly after I arrived, he went and washed his hands, where he uttered “Jesus Christ.” Then he gave me a dirty look when I went to wash my hands. I can’t be sure that he hates me, but I suspect so.

However, I think I did the right thing. I could have gone and used a stall instead, but stalls are not for urination unless the urinals are used up. It would be silly to not use the open urinal. Nevertheless, I feel defensive.

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Drink, drink

I have an important message for anyone who gets sleepy after lunch. I have found both the cause and the solution!

The reason is: DEHYDRATION. The cure is: DRINKING WATER. If you drink, you will feel less tired.

No, really, I’m serious about this. I was sleepy after lunch yesterday, and I went and drank 20 oz of water, and I immediately felt much more alert. I thought back to how I didn’t suffer from post-lunch drowsiness at all this summer, and indeed this summer I drank huge amounts of water at my internship. So drink up!

(Note: I cannot claim to have discovered this myself; I found it online. But it sure works!)

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AI researcher uncovers the damned

An AI researcher, Geoff Hinton, has created a model that learns how to recognize faces. As a side effect, it can also generate pictures that look sort of like what it thinks of as faces. The guy posted a video of the faces this generated. Unfortunately, I think they look like souls trapped in Hell, or something like that.

The video

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Bad cop! No cookie!

I saw a police car make a right turn without using its turn signal. If I’d had more presence of mind, I would have caught its number and called the police department to report it. If even the law’s enforcers don’t obey it, how can we expect anyone else to? I’ve had my life endangered by people not using their turn signals–drivers don’t often watch for bikes or pedestrians, so we need to be able to see what the driver plans to do. Police officers, watch out: I’m not afraid to make a polite phone call about your behavior!

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Chester wants peas!

During lunch, I had some frozen peas. Chester wanted some too, and was climbing all around to find where he could get some.

Chester peeks his head out of the cage

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Minor emergency

I heard a couple of sirens, so I went outside to look. There is a park across the street from squeakywheel‘s and my apartment, and there were 4 emergency vehicles parked right next to it.
emergency vehicles

Soon, the paramedics brought someone from the park (behind the building, where I couldn’t see) on a stretcher to the ambulance. He had a bandage on his left arm just below the elbow.
man on stretcher

They ran a small hose from the fire truck to the park, again behind the building where I couldn’t see. I guess the guy injured himself on a hot grill in the park, but I’m not sure. Homeless people often frequent that park, so he might have been one of them.

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