Old News

Archived news items from October 2000
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.

Monday, 30 Oct 2000 [19:13 CST]

I finally called back AT&T. It seems that they never selected a long distance plan for me, and without a plan selected, I don't get long distance. I requested they give me a plan with no monthly charges. She looked around for a while and finally found "One Rate Basic", which is $0.16 a minute with no usage minimum, and no monthly fee. And then of course her computer wouldn't allow her to choose that as my plan. Nor did it offer any plans, actually. She tried for about ten minutes to get the machine to handle this, and finally gave up and put in a report for the "Batch Team" to handle it. Supposedly I'm going to get a call back from them in three to five days.

So we'll see.

Sunday, 29 Oct 2000 [20:22 CST]

Okay, so I don't feel bad about not being able to put Earthsuit in a genre. Looking at the customer reviews on amazon.com and the band's own website (www.earthsuit3d.com), I can see I'm not the only one. Here's a quote from the lead singer, taken from their web page: "There's definitely a strong rock undercurrent, a little reggae flavor, certain jazz progressions, patches of rap, and some of the New Orleans influence mixed in as well as some samples and programming." Yeah. What he said.

Today was a productive one at home, basically just going through piles of stuff on my desk and paying bills and such. I'm going to gripe out AT&T tomorrow about the whole no long distance thing. Not much else to report. Worship was incredible this morning.

Saturday, 28 Oct 2000 [20:38 CDT]

Two new CDs on the review chart today. Offerings by Third Day, which is good worship. And Kaleidoscope Superior by Earthsuit.

I haven't been able to adequately describe this album except that it's good. It's got a little Rastafarian harmony, heavy fast rapping (a little reminiscent of Snow's Informer or maybe Busta Rhymes; I don't follow rap closely enough to know a better stylistic comparison), with interesting guitar work, keyboard and driving bass. And most important, deep lyrics by people who obviously have more than a casual relationship with God. After listening to the sophomoric prose (but admittedly good, catchy rock) of Creed's Human Clay all the way through several times and having people tell me they were a "Christian" band, I was beginning to wonder if it was possible to have lyrics that describe a deep, complex relationship with God paired with music any edgier than Chris Rice. (Editor's note: I'm fairly certain that Microsoft Word's grammar checker would die on the preceding sentence, claiming it was far too long. "Fie," I say!) Not that I dislike Chris Rice, musically; he's quite good. But Earthsuit is one of the few bands I've found that incorporates comparable songwriting in a harder musical package.

Anyway, I really like Kaleidoscope Superior. One of my students brought it to school to put on the jukebox and I've liked it so much that I had to go out and get it. Offerings was sort of an afterthought because I'd been meaning to pick it up, but it's not as revolutionary (or as fun to crank while programming).

My mother sent me This Is Spinal Tap on videocassette (the special edition version, even; thanks Mom!) along with some Halloween candy. I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch it with anyone yet, though I have seen the movie several times before (maybe five times, including once recently at the Alamo Draft House). So now all I need is Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride and I'll own a copy of all the cult classic films that I watch with any regularity.

It's been a social weekend. Friday night, worship-leader Bob had a party at his place, and most of the church staff and praise team were there. We had a good time and lots of food. We played Tribond, which was a lot of fun. Some examples:

Gaspar, Melchior, Balthazar traditional names of the Three Wise Men
Far Out Space Nuts, Gilligan's Island, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis TV series featuring Bob Denver

My proudest moment in the game was getting from "baseball park, garbage truck, blue jeans" to "things with flies" almost immediately. I also ate more than my share of "Kick Yo' Ass Hot" brand party mix. Very nice.

Of course, after staying out late partying last night I got up early to help a friend move from one apartment to another within U.T. married student housing. Since the apartments (in different complexes) were less than a mile apart, the move was relatively easy, except for the dozens of heavy boxes of books and maneuvering their couch down a narrow, twisting staircase.

Afterward we all went to Chuck-E-Cheese and had pizza and played games. It was a good time, and something I hadn't done in a looooooooong time.

Just as we were about to leave, a friend of mine got a call on his cell phone from his boss saying that the company he works for (a dot-com, basically) was folding and that he'd be out of a job after Tuesday. OUCH! He was fairly shaken, as there hadn't really been any indication that any such thing was impending. That's one of the reason's I'm sometimes glad I didn't go the typical route with my CS degree. Getting a call at Chuck-E-Cheese on a Saturday afternoon telling you, by the way, you won't have a job three days from now is pretty raw. It might be different if he were an incompetent employee being justly let go, but he's damn good at what he does and as loyal as anyone I know. Man, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. That just ain't right.

Wednesday, 25 Oct 2000 [21:41 CDT]

Tomorrow my kids start their six weeks projects. Six class days of stressed-out students and rapid-fire questions all day long. Not to mention students waiting outside my door when I get there in the morning and staying after school until I kick them out.

Of course, the actual topic is Top Secret until 8:30 tomorrow morning, so that no students can begin working early and get more time than the others.

The first part of the C++ compiler (the lexical analyzer) is now working exactly as it did when I turned it in for a grade in college, producing identical output. With the lecture notes and print-outs I was able to dig up we were able to completely reconstruct all the missing files. Now I feel like redesigning the function that reads in a floating-point number, because it has rounding errors for some input, and I can't say I care much for how I designed it. Starting from scratch today would turn up a much better design, I think.

I'm thinking our first plan of action will be to get the code we have working together with the robot, so that initially the robot follows AI written in Pascal. Then we'll go back and modify the compiler to compile some subset of C++ instead, and plug that in.

Susan had her boy this morning, nine pounds and seven ounces, if I remember correctly. I haven't heard his name.

Monday, 23 Oct 2000 [21:10 CDT]

Vacuumed the apartment today, and of course the cats enjoyed that. I also got a phone bill, which makes me unhappy because I still can't make long distance calls. Somehow I think AT&T owes me some sort of refund.

I finally installed Python and spent half an hour or so re-reading the online tutorial and playing with the interactive interpreter. It's an interesting language, to say the least. Of course the tabbing and such for the block statements takes some getting used to, especially in the interpreter, which didn't behave as I expected it to.

Tomorrow I get to work a bit more on the C++ compiler, now armed with documentation, lecture notes and other implements of destruction.

Sunday, 22 Oct 2000 [17:02 CDT]

Well, Susan (the guitarist's wife) was at church today. Apparently she'd begun labor Friday night, and contractions had gotten down to fifteen minutes apart and then quit. So Greg was there to play lead guitar for us.

I'm going to stop making reports about Susan's pregnancy. I think she's gotten entirely too much coverage here lately and is quite possibly upstaging all the real content I need to mention.

I let the cats outside on the balcony for several minutes while it was raining today. They had a blast sneaking around and smelling everything. I had to end the party, though, when Perl kept trying to eat the leaves off the ivy out there.

Friday night I read The Church On Its Knees, an excellent practical work on starting a prayer ministry. It's a small book and just under a hundred pages, so I was able to read the whole of it in about two hours. Now I think I have some ideas about how to help this fledgling ministry to catch on.

Not much else. It's a lazy Sunday afternoon. I'm going to eat lunch/dinner here shortly, and then tonight is the monthly Leadership L.I.F.T.E.R. at the church. Four of our part-time staff are going to be ordained, so it should be a good time.

I don't remember what all of the letters in L.I.F.T.E.R. mean, but some of them are information, fellowship, training, and recognition.

Saturday, 21 Oct 2000 [21:56 CDT]

In speaking about babies I forgot to mention my second cousin, who just had her third child (and first girl) last Saturday. I do have the vitals for her: Sarah Grace Wright; 7 pounds, 7 ounces; 20 inches long. Also the wife of another cousin is pregnant and is due next month.

It seems that it was a false alarm with the guitarist's wife; there is no baby yet, but it could be any time. He plans to try to play guitar for us tomorrow morning, so there's not much switching around to do, but that all depends on "how tonight goes". We shall see.

I'm also ashamed to say that I memorized three more digits of pi accidentally while hunting for a link earlier today. The new total is seventeen digits, which I'm told is accurate enough to calculate the circumference of the earth within a few millimeters: 3.14159265358979323.

My mother says:

And you wonder why you don't have a girlfriend. Living with cats and
memorizing PI. :)

How does that old song go?

Can she memorize PI, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she memorize PI, charming Billy?
She can quote a lot of PI
Quick's a cat can wink an eye
She's a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

Saturday, 21 Oct 2000 [18:43 CDT]

I spent several hours today at Midas waiting for them to replace the muffler and pipes (they had looked fine near the muffler, but closer to the front of the car they were pretty rusted out and wouldn't have lasted for long). You'd think a muffler repair place would keep more things on hand, but they had to have someone drive parts over from another Midas in town. Of course, I didn't know this at the time, so wondered why my car just sat there up in the air for what seemed like way too long and why there were no repairmen near it for over an hour.

Of course, the wait gave me some time to read several articles in the Super Quiz packet for this year's AcaDec. And the cost was quite reasonable, even if the wait was a bit much. Of course, I'm a fairly patient person. And while they were at it I had them replace the front left turn signal light, which had burned out maybe two weeks ago. So hopefully now I'll be ready to get my car inspected sometime this month.

Once that was all done I went to Wal-Mart to get my oil changed and also bought groceries while there. The wait times at Wal-Mart are fairly impressive, also, which is why there are "Help Wanted" signs everywhere you look and why they're paying over $9 an hour.

Upon getting home I got a call from my friend apologizing for running off. It was a girl, though I haven't heard any of the other typical baby statistics.

It also appears that our lead guitarist's wife went into labor this morning, so we may have to shuffle some things around in the morning to get all the parts covered. Babies are everywhere!

I should also mention that I actually wrote my congressman yesterday to ask him to support the "Music Owners' Listening Rights Act", which basically allows people to use the internet to move music as long as they own the CD. Slightly more details are available on slashdot.

And speaking of slashdot, I saw one of my favorite email signatures again the other day, and this time I had the presence of mind to write it down: "355/113: not the famous irrational number PI, but an incredible simulation!" Not that I need to use such a ratio, because somewhere along the way I seem to have inadvertently memorized pi to 14 digits: 3.14159265358979. This is more than most calculators, I'm embarrassed to admit. Anyway, if you'd like to know more about pi, visit The Joy Of Pi.

Friday, 20 Oct 2000 [19:40 CDT]

Back-to-back updates, baby!

Today was nice. I actually ate lunch at home, and left school by 3:05. I took my cats to the vet for their yearly vaccines. Also the vet looked at the big hairless (or shorter hair, at least) patches on Java and decided that he's probably just upset by something and so is "overgrooming". I'm going to make sure to pay extra attention to him over the next few weeks and see if that helps him to be less stressed.

Also went out to eat with a friend at Fresh Choice, which is a good, healthy food buffet. Pasta, soups, salads, bread but no chicken-fried steak or the other sorts of things which you typically get at places like Golden Corral.

Just as we were about to leave, my friend got a cell phone call from another friend who is quite pregnant and whose water had just broken. It wasn't a "come drive me to the hospital" call, but a "we're leaving for the hospital; come watch our kids for us while we're gone" call. So the dinner ended sort of abruptly, but in a good way.

I spent some time last night looking through old lecture notes from college trying to find clues to the contents of the missing files and was quite successful. I actually found a printout containing the most important 85% of one file (and a clue in another place that will pretty much allow me to reconstruct the missing 15%) and the entire "complex function" previously mentioned that prevents the lexical analyzer from completely working.

Tonight I go to bed early and tomorrow I sleep late. Life is good.

Oh, and though I haven't mentioned it here my car has been running slightly rougher and much more loudly since the UIL meet last week. Today I looked under the car while waiting for my friend to show at Fresh Choice and discovered a CD-sized hole in my muffler. So that explains that. The pipes look fine, which means that hopefully the repair cost at Midas (which warranties my muffler) will be manageable.

After sleeping late tomorrow, I plan to get the muffler repaired and the oil changed.

Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 [22:38 CDT]

Tomorrow is a staff development day. No kids, meetings, and some time as a high school just playing on the R.O.P.E.S. course. (No, I don't know what it stands for either.)

In computer science III we're working on getting a C++ version of Warbots, where you program a virtual robot and let it battle in an arena setting vs. other programmed AI bots. The 2-D graphic stuff is working, and so we're now trying to get a toy C++ compiler going. I've dredged up the working Pascal compiler code from my compilers class in college to start from. However, it turns out that all my code references code written by my professor which I don't have a copy of anymore. So we've spent the last few days trying to reconstruct what was in the files that we no longer have. At this point the code actually compiles, and we're only one (albeit complex) function away from having the basic lexical analyzer working.

This weekend I actually don't have anything on my calendar. So I can sleep late, get some exercise and spend some time experimenting with music stuff for Sunday.

A rare mid-week update, I know, but I'm inspired by the web page of one of my former students, who's been updating every two days or so.

Saturday, 14 Oct 2000 [18:45 CDT]

Let's hear it for my first lazy day in recent memory. I was able to sleep until 9:00am, and then get not have to rush to get ready for anything. I went to Pflugerville High School for the first invitational (read: practice) UIL meet of the year, and two kids competed. They did much worse than the winners but much, much better than some.

I changed the strings on my guitar and practiced the new songs for tomorrow. And now I'm going to actually archive the old entries off this page, reducing the size from over 40K to under 20K.

Then I plan to go for a walk to get some exercise and fresh air.

Friday, 13 Oct 2000 [23:04 CDT]

Today is Friday the 13th, a full moon, and my black cat (Perl) just crossed my path.

In more cheery news, I got to see the drama department's dinner theatre, The Butler Did It, a fun comedy murder mystery. It was very good, and several of my students acted in it. It's still showing tomorrow night at 7:30, so anyone who can get by the high school ought to check it out. $10 covers dinner, dessert, and a great show.

Also, one of my former students is now running a t-shirt business online. He's just getting started, so there's only one shirt available at the moment, but it's a good one, and I have one. (I traded him for a CD....) You can check it out at www.monkibrand.com.

I can't think of any other news except that I've been busy previewing albums which my students want to add to the CD jukebox in my classroom. Some of them are definitely not my style of music. I guess it takes all kinds....

By the way, my initial count on CD sales was high. We had only sold 188 CDs that first night, but we've sold over 200 now. Just wanted to clarify.

Tomorrow is the first UIL invitational meet of the year, and I have three kids entering the computer science competition. We'll see how they do.

Sunday, 8 Oct 2000 [22:29 CDT]

Short update and then I'm going to crash....

The CD release party went well. Concert was good, food was great, and we sold over 200 CDs. It was a lot of fun. Those of you that have personal contact with me, I can get you a CD if you can get me $6. Or if you get by Lakeline Church, you can pick one up there at any time.

Homecoming week was fun. I always like to dress up whenever I get an excuse. And that's about all I have to say at this time.

Sunday, 1 Oct 2000 [21:23 CDT]

It seems that I forgot to upload the last entry. So here it's been two weeks since you've seen an update, though I wrote one last weekend. Sorry about that.

Last week I finished grading and got grades turned in. I also began a prayer ministry at Lakeline, which saw me up at the church at 6:30am on Monday and Tuesday for a season of prayer, and up at the school at 7am on Wednesday to pray with some students. The spiritual warfare has begun, but I'm excited about what God will do.

Also things are still on target for an October 8 CD release. The party has been moved up to 6:30, and there's going to be food. But it's still Sunday night and still involves a mini-concert, praying over the CDs, etc. The CDs are physically in, and they look and sound great. I can't wait to get them into people's hands. (And for the low, low price of $6 apiece!)

Not much else is going on. Next week is homecoming at LHS, so we dress up all week to promote school spirit. I'm especially looking forward to Tuesday, 80s day. Of course you know I like to dress up anyway.

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