Old Musings: Ending March 2003
Goto: Home / Current Musings

Power Grid
Posted 29 March 2003

While reading about electrical systems and outlets in various countries in the world in preparation for going to Peru in May, I noticed the following comment about the state of the electrical system in the capitol of Guyana:

*Inside the capital city of Georgetown, both 120V and 240V at either 50 or 60Hz are found, depending on the part of the city (50Hz most common). Actual voltage may vary from area to area.

Note to self: Never go to this city. First off, all of my electrical appliances would end up blowing up. Also, you know that I would have to purchase some kind of inductive voltage/frequency tester and run around the town holding it up to everyone's electrical wires in order to map out the voltages and frequencies in the city. And that would be way worse than my current cell phone mapping hobby :).

Seriously, what on earth can they be thinking. 120 volts AND 240 volts? 50Hz AND 60Hz? I hope that the 120V is always 60Hz and the 240V is always 50Hz, but the blurb didn't really make it clear whether that's true or not. Either way, WHY???? And how would they even handle this? Does every outlet have a little sticker on it, "220V, 50Hz"? If not, what do you do, just guess? Carry a multitester around all the time if you want to plug something in? I can understand the "actual voltage may vary" part, perhaps the power grid just isn't very stable there. But why they would purposely have multiple voltages and frequencies in the same city eludes me.


March 2003 Search Strings
Posted 26 March 2003

So I've got this software that generates a list of phrases that people who visit my website typed into search engines in order to get here. But the combination of the odd nature of some of the stories on my site and the fact that people don't always find what they're trying to search for, makes for some pretty interesting search queries, such as:

mercedes benz 700 v-14
spring bling 2003
advice about men dating
i got my head checked my hmo checked - lyrics
macarthur s park the real story
hip hop homepage
i ll never have that recipie again
photos of teenagers smoking marijuana

squalor cleaning

Of course there were also plenty of searches for other things that are on my site, but many of those weren't quite as humorous. You can see the full list by clicking on the title, however.


War and Protests
Posted 23 March 2003

Some thoughts on the current war with Iraq and some photos of a pro-war protest and an anti-war protest protesting the pro-war protest that took place by the diag here at the University of Michigan.


Posted 18 March 2003

Today, a package arrived for me at the dorm containing two books from Microsoft Press about programming in Visual Basic .NET, sent to me courtesy of Microsoft's U-M campus representative. I was somewhat surprised to note, however, that someone had written what appeared to be the word "PORN" in black permanent marker on the shipping container:

Now that seems strange, but who am I to judge? I know lots of people don't like Microsoft, but I've never found anything about their products to be pornographic. Oh well... :)


Posted 13 March 2003

When I was a senior in High School, we were talking about existentialism in English class and reading some existentialist books (i.e. The Stranger), and in general, our English teacher was pretty excited about this existentialism stuff. One day in this class, our assignment consisted of going to the computer lab and writing for the hour in a pseudo-existentialist (not exactly stream-of-consciousness, but also not caring whether everything in it is logical or whether the topic progression makes sense) fashion about a topic of our choosing.

Well, a lot of my friends in the class and I didn't really like existentialism, especially Sean, and he thought it would be pretty funny to make a mockery out of the assignment (while technically doing the assignment according to the guidelines) by writing his paper about various inside jokes among our group of friends, and the silly and pointless activities in which we engage.

Since Sean no longer has a website, I have obtained a copy of the CHRONICles from him and obtained his permission to post them here. I have edited them slightly and also added explanations of some of the people and terms used. Keep in mind that every last detail of this tale may not be 100% factual, and even the parts that are may be exaggerated in some cases. I think you'll find it amusing nonetheless.


The Fail-Safe Fallacy
Posted 11 March 2003

During the Cold War, Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler wrote a book called Fail-Safe, in which a small mechanical failure in the "Fail-Safe System" causes the United States to accidentally launch a nuclear attack against Moscow. In order to prove that it was indeed a mistake, the President of the United States orders the air force to launch a nuclear attack against New York City to "make up" for the destruction of Moscow.

I haven't read the book so I don't know to what extent it is written to make the cold war or the nuclear arms-race or the theory of mutually assured destruction seem ridiculous, but I doubt that the authors could have avoided it entirely even if they wanted to. In any event, it seems to have riled at least some people up to enough that someone else wrote a completely new book, "The Fail-Safe Fallacy", as a rebuttal of "Fail-Safe". Evidently the "Fail-Safe Fallacy" discusses how such an error could never happen to the USA's nuclear defense system, and how our nuclear "defense" system is completely safe and effective (and etc...).

I haven't read the Fail-Safe Fallacy either, so you might ask, "What's the point?" Well, the point is that when I was in high school (wellafter the end of the Cold War, mind you), my high school's library had a copy of "The Fail-Safe Fallacy", but not one of "Fail-Safe" itself, and I find this entirely hilarious! Can't you just picture it? A sleepy high school in the cold-war era rushing out to buy a book rebutting a criticism of nuclear policy, but keeps the actual book criticizing the nuclear war safely out of the library and (theoretically) the minds of its students :).


"The People's Guide to Homeland Security"
Posted 05 March 2003

"The US Government put together a website to prepare people in case of an attack on the country. The site is http://www.ready.gov/. However, the graphics they use are pretty ambiguous, and don't make a lot of sense on their own." (crewcial)

Hence, the readers of the crewcial forums have supplied some of their own captions to the Department of Homeland Security graphics. I made a collage of some of these images and captions with which to decorate my dorm room door. But since I made it, why not post it here, as well?


To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Posted 01 March 2003

Although I don't usually remember having dreams when I wake up, when I do remember them, they are usually pretty strange. The other night while on vacation, I had three dreams concerning "the factory" (the Allied Paper Mill), in which the events of each dream carried over into the next; and then a fourth dream completely unrelated to the first three. All four of the dreams were a little on the bizarre side, and I have recounted all four of them here.


Posted 20 February 2003

Well, you know me. It's not enough to just have an air conditioner in the dorm room. That's far too simple and besides, the curtain dividing the room can prevent the cool air from migrating into the "main" part of the room away from the window. Also, the fact that the bed is partially right in front of the air conditioner causes a feedback loop where once the air conditioner turns on, the cold air bounces right off the bed and blows back into the air conditioner, making it turn off because it thinks the room is already cold.

Now, I have obtained ducts with which to solve this air conditioner nightmare.


OS Quiz
Posted 14 February 2003

If you're not a computer geek, just ignore this and move on... =)

 Which OS are You?
Which OS are You?


What it means to be a ...
Posted 10 February 2003

A short pseudo-essay, inspired by a discussion about "what it means to be Japanese" that was held in my anthropology class. I don't understand the deep "meanings" that so many people seem to associate with being a member of a certain group, and in this article, I discuss this phenomenon at some length.


Insufficient Funds? Make that Re-funds!
Posted 06 February 2003

Well, it looks like I didn't give TCF Bank enough credit in Insufficient Funds - I received a letter from them today which did not exactly apologize for the incident or explain it, but it did indicate that they will refund both their returned-check fee and the University of Michigan's fee. I'm really very surprised, and impressed!


"Marijuana Can Get You Busted: Harmless?"
(No, just stupid.)
Posted 06 February 2003

I realize that the government of the United States doesn't want people to consume various drugs for various reasons (spoken and unspoken). But some of the recent anti-marijuana TV commercials really take the cake when it comes to sheer stupidity.

A recent commercial depicts some teenagers getting arrested by the police while smoking a joint in a bathroom stall at a concert. As the kids are getting hauled away by the police, the advertisement's slogan comes on the screen: "Marijuana can get you busted. Harmless?"

Now, of all of the legitimate, semi-legitimate, or at least convincing-to-the-general-public statements that could be made against the smoking of marijuana, is this not the weakest one you can think of? After all, if the government is saying that the main or only harm in smoking marijuana is the fact that it can get you "busted", why not just make it legal? Then it won't be able to get you "busted", and according to the logical conclusion of this particular commercial, it won't be harmful anymore. Which is, of course, the exact opposite message of that which they are trying to get across with the commercial. Sometimes, the mind just boggles.


The Squalor in Which We Live
Posted 04 February 2003

Nathan once said he was sure Russ "would never pass up the chance to see the squalor in which we live" here in our dorm room. Now, you too can have that chance. Over the past number of days, the room has grown extremely messy, even if you only compare it to the way the room usually looks. In order to avoid cleaning it up for a few more minutes, I have taken pictures of the mess and posted them here for your viewing (or gloating, etc...) enjoyment.


Man Kann Nicht es Glauben!
My computer actually works.
Posted 04 February 2003

It pleases me greatly to be able to say that for the first time in a little over a year and a half, I have a desktop computer that actually works. Ever since I "upgraded" my system to an Athlon running on a ViA KT133A chipset right before I came to school, my computer has been an absolute piece of crap. It would crash after about 15 seconds of trying to play a video game, after about 5 minutes of using any graphics features in Maple or Matlab, and on plenty of other random and irritating occasions. Even when it wasn't crashing, it would act oddly sluggish even when only being used for very simple operations. I don't know exactly what the problem was - I tried various motherboards with different north- and southbridge chips, I tried a new video card, I tried using name-brand RAM instead of generic, I even tried using a Pentium III on an Abit ST6-RAID motherboard, but all of these systems exhibited the same problem. Perhaps it was the HPT370 RAID controller present on all the motherboards, although I tried disabling that in the BIOS of all systems (to no avail).

In any event, I finally decided that enough was enough, and last week I replaced my motherboard and CPU with an Intel D845PEBT2 motherboard and a Pentium 4 CPU. Now, everything is smooth sailing. Being a computer geek, as well as a computer engineer, this is a pretty nice feeling. After all, it's tough to explain to people why you can't get your computer to work properly when you're a CE major :).

That's the Pentium 4 processor and heatsink/fan. I had no idea P4 CPUs were that small - that package is considerably smaller than that of a 386, 486, or Pentium-1 CPU. But judging from the size of the heatsink and fan, it must dissipate some serious heat!


Insufficient Funds
Posted 30 January 2003

The function of a checking account seems pretty simple. You give the bank money, they tell you how much money is in your account, you pay for things with the money in your account, and everyone is happy. But with Dr. Deke, of course things could never be that simple.


UM Powerhouse Photos
Posted 20 January 2003

I have been living across the street from the University of Michigan's power plant for well over a year now, and I look at it just about every day when I go outside. Tonight, I finally got around to taking some pictures of the plant, and here they are.


--Entries below this point are from my old website.--

Violence Fight
Posted 09 September 2002

In the early part of 1950's in the USA, a game called "Violence Fight" was in vogue among Mafia, reckless drivers and general businessmen. The "Violence Fight" was the game to struggle for "No. 1 Quarreler" with fighters who were gathered from all parts of the USA speaking boastingly of their strength. And of course a lot of winning money as well as the honor were given to the "winner". Here in downtown in L.A., a young fighter "Bat" and his manager "Blinks" seek for the winning money eagerly. As a matter of fact, can Bad take the No. 1 place of the USA?

Yup. It's gonna be the next "Zero Wing". Ok, maybe not. But seriously, where did they get this, "Mafia, reckless drivers, and general businessmen" thing??


On the Events of AD 2101
Posted 09 September 2002

Well, it didn't make kuro5hin but it made my page. Of course, I'm probably the only person living who still thinks this is funny :).


"I Want to Run through the Halls of my High School..."
Posted 12 August 2002

Although it doesn't really have anything to do with what the song is actually about, listening to this song makes me realize that I really should have caused a lot more trouble when I was in high school. I whined and complained a lot about the school and its administration but never really did anything about it. It doesn't matter that what I could have done about it (covertly posting melodramatically written political pamphlets around the school and things like that) would have been silly and accomplished nothing - it would still have been fun!


Ladies: Do Not Pay Attention to MSN's Dating Advice!
Posted 04 July 2002

Since I don't have anything better to set as a browser startup page, I spend a fair amount of time looking at the headlines on msn.com. In order to attract the attention of readers, they often have dating-advice columns directed towards men who need help with the ladies. I don't have a lot to go on when evaluating this advice, as I am probably in need of it myself. However, today's column was advice about men, directed toward the ladies, and I can tell you for a fact, that, at least if you were dealing with me, the advice in this column was 100% wrong. Read on for the details.


Don't Everybody Like the Smell of Gasoline...
Or: "A person must remain in attendance outside the vehicle and in view of the nozzle at all times while fueling."
Posted 23 June 2002

As Outkast says, not everybody likes the smell of gasoline, but the No. 1 pump at the Clark station on West Main seems to like it pretty well. I was filling up there today since the prices are so low, and as the gallons meter on the pump kept getting higher, I began to think it was kind of funny that the pump hadn't shut off yet, since I didn't think the tank was that empty to begin with. And, it turns out I was right, because a few moments after I started thinking about this, I hear this funny noise, and then gasoline starts squirting out all over the place from the fillport! Luckily I was standing right there and shut it off before too big of a pool had accumulated on the ground. I informed the cashier about the problem, but as could be expected, she didn't seem to care. I just hope that the problem is with their pump, rather than some mechanism on my car. I guess we'll find out the next time :).


Congratulations, you're free!
Or: "Someone Left the Cake out in the Rain."
Posted 22 June 2002

At Dairy Queen today, I saw a sign advertising their custom-lettered ice-cream cakes. There were two examples of these cakes on the sign; one said, "Congratulations, Graduate!" and had a picture of a diploma on it. The other had a picture of an unlocked ball-and-chain and the words, "Congratulations, you're free!". Although I'm sure both of these cakes were referring to graduating from high school, I have a few friends who always rave about Dairy Queen's desserts, and if any of them ever go to jail, I'm getting them one of those cakes when they get out!

Above: A similar sign to the one discussed.


Older Musings: