Old News

Archived news items from April 2001
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news from May 2001

Monday, 30 Apr 2001 [22:49 CDT]

Today we had our informational/recruitment meeting for AcaDec. We had a good number of kids show up, so hopefully many of them will follow through with the application. After being so short this year, it'd be nice to be able to have several students to choose from for the travel team and hopefully we'll get at least some of the materials before we leave for the summer.

Oh, and one of my former students sent me a link to a really cool essay: The Mathematics of Monkeys and Shakespeare. It discusses the math behind exceedingly improbable events and its relevance to evolution. The math is fairly simplified, but still may be a bit beyond anyone who hasn't had calculus.

Monday, 30 Apr 2001 [00:41 CDT]

Okay, first about the service. Nevertheless Community Church is sort of a sister/mission church of ours. At first, they met in our building for a Bible study on Thursday nights, and now they're meeting Sundays in Pond Springs Baptist Church in the sanctuary after Pond Springs' own congregation is done. Well, they held a celebration service this Saturday night called "Praising The Hell Out Of Yourself" and asked if the Lakeline worship team would come play a few songs. We gladly accepted, but some of our team couldn't make it, so it ended up just being me leading, CC on bass guitar, and Bob on drums. Well, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into.

I was under the impression that we were going to play about four songs, their praise team was going to do a couple (including one song with us), and that it was going to run from 6-8. Well, it turns out much more was going on. Besides the two worship teams, there were two sermons (one by our own pastor and one by a visiting pastor who I think is Nevertheless' pastor's father, if that makes any sense), a husband/wife music/drama team from Dallas that did several songs and several skits, an incredibly great vocalist from the visiting pastor's church, and a girl who did two dances to music. Getting everything set up took longer than we'd expected, so it was nearly 6:45 by the time we started. And as you can imagine, things didn't wind down until 9:30. And then we hung around for a while longer eating desserts. Of course, after that is when we went back to the church to return the drums and amps and such and then went to Trudy's. All in all, even though it was a bit chaotic and it looked like nobody present really knew everything that was going on, it was an excellent service. All the music was great, the sermons were challenging and God was there.

A little surprisingly, I didn't have any trouble getting up this morning, though I've been yawning all day. Our service went pretty well, too, even if the crowd wasn't as live.

The rest of this weekend, I've been reading Java in a Nutshell and teaching myself the language. I downloaded and installed Sun's Java Development Kit and have successfully written a few programs. The first program (just a simple "Hello, world.") was easy, but then I spent nearly an hour trying to figure out the best way to get input from the console, something that's surprisingly difficult relative to C++. Of course, once I got that running, I was able to create a little wrapper class to make some more reasonable input operators. The Advanced Placement computer science curriculum doesn't specify how input should be done, so I might just have my students use my wrapper class to save me some headaches. It'll depend on whether or not the gain in simplicity is enough to offset my conscience bothering me about not really teaching them real Java in that area.

Basically, the difference in the students' code would be like this:

// Cheating by using my wrapper class.
System.out.println("What is your name?");
String name = ConsoleInput.readString();
System.out.println("Okay, " + name + ", how old are you?");
int age = ConsoleInput.readInt();
System.out.println("Goodness! " + age + " years old already?");

// Doing it the "right" way
BufferedReader in = new BufferedReader( new InputStreamReader(System.in) );
System.out.println("What is your name?");
String name = null;
try {
	name = in.readLine();
catch ( IOException e ) {
	name = ( "<" + e + ">" );
System.out.println("Okay, " + name + ", how old are you?");
String buf = null;
try {
	buf = in.readLine();
catch ( IOException e ) {
	buf = ( "<" + e + ">" );
int age = Integer.parseInt(buf.trim());
System.out.println("Goodness! " + age + " years old already?");

Contrast this with the equivalent code in C++:

// Doing it the right way;
// C++ is just better designed for console input and output.
cout << "What is your name?" << endl;
string name;
cin >> name;
cout << "Okay, " << name << ", how old are you?" << endl;
int age;
cin >> age;
cout << "Goodness! " << age << " years old already?" << endl;

Anyway, I feel pretty good about what I've learned just this weekend. It's true that the more programming languages you know, the easier it is to learn each successive language.

One last thing; I went grocery shopping today (as I typically do on Sundays) and I noticed that as I was shopping, I was singing Bolero, by Ravel. Again. In fact, I almost always have Bolero stuck in my head while I'm shopping. I'm not sure why that is, but it's been the case for several months. If any people at the store start to recognize me, they'll probably say "There's that guy that's always singing Bolero." Much like Richard Dreyfuss' character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I can't help but think "This means something."

Sunday, 29 Apr 2001 [00:21 CDT]

I got the chance to lead worship at an awesome service today. I'm getting home too late because we had to take the drums and such back to the church and then went to Trudy's afterward, but I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 Apr 2001 [22:02 CDT]

It was an uneventful day at school. Students just worked on their projects, and I didn't even have to answer many questions. The good news is that after school I got a chance to listen to several albums that had been submitted for my jukebox and have been on hold for weeks. And even play a few games.

I did have a pleasant surprise yesterday, though. A student had gotten a new chair at home and so brought up the old one to give to me for my desk. It's a nice padded rolling chair with an adjustable back and adjustable height, and replaces what was essentially a plastic student chair with wheels. And I'd had to use a phone book to raise me high enough (my desk is pretty tall) to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. So that's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, 24 Apr 2001 [23:30 CDT]

In CS-2 today we started looking at the Huffman compressor, which is probably my favorite assignment I do with the kids ever. I like thinking about it, I like explaining it. It's probably because it's the first program they get to make after spending a lot of effort thinking about abstract things like queues and binary trees and such, and it's a really neat, useful program. Plus, it's apparent how it'd be nearly impossible to do without those advanced concepts rattling around in their brains, and that with those concepts it's not really very hard. Call it vindication for teaching data structures at all, I guess.

Also, I showed off some art at Renaissauce tonight. I don't want to describe it in much detail until I can get Bob to help me get some photos that will illustrate it in a web-friendly format. It was well-received and I'm proud of it, especially since it's sort of outside my typical medium.

Still plugging on the CS-1 End-Of-Year projects.

Monday, 23 Apr 2001 [00:28 CDT]

God is good. My health is much better today ("today" being late Sunday night), though I still have a bit of crud in my sinuses and throat. In a cruel twist (no pun intended) of fate, I (re)injured my back up at the church yesterday, which hurt bad enough last night to keep me from sleeping much. I took a solid dose of ibuprofen this morning, though, and things have pretty much returned to normal now.

I was able to sing almost normally this morning, and the service was indeed very good.

[Note: I hadn't orginally planned on mentioning this here, but since Bob joked about it, it would just seem wrong to pass up the opportunity.] After church a few of us went out for lunch at Rosie's Tamale House, where I'd never eaten despite it being only a block away from where I live. At lunch we had a brief conversation about the idea that Jesus actually went into hell between dying on the cross and rising again on the third day. Bob joked about how the conversation would end up on the web page. So, here it is. :)

It is my understanding that this is debated among theologians. I mentioned that there were two scriptures which seem to indicate it occurred, but none of us had a Bible handy. Afterward we looked up the Peter passage when I got to my car (where my Bible was), but I couldn't find the other immediately. So, here they both are. I'll include them without comment, mostly because I can't pretend to have any special insight on interpreting them. It's significant to note that your opinion on these passages doesn't affect much since what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection is far, far more crucial than how, metaphysically, He accomplished it. I've listed both the New King James and New American Standard versions, since they're my favorite word translations.

1 Peter 3:18-20

New American Standard Bible (NASB): 18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

New King James Version (NKJV): 18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Ephesians 4:8-10

NASB: 8Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." 9(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

NKJV: 8Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." 9(Now this, "He ascended" -- what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Saturday, 21 Apr 2001 [11:51 CDT]

Let's hear it for a sleep marathon! Though I've only been up for a few minutes, I'm feeling much better. I went to bed around 4pm yesterday, which totals nearly twenty hours of sleep. At first I was waking up every hour or so, and every time I woke up I'd drink some Gatorade or something. The last "session" I slept from about 8:30 until 11:30, which is a pretty good stretch considering I'd already had nearly sixteen hours of sleep at that point.

At the moment my sinuses are fairly clear, and I don't feel feverish. I'm going to shower and then get outside for a little sun and see how things go.

Friday, 20 Apr 2001 [15:53 CDT]

I'm not well. I have a bit of a sore throat and heavy allergy-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes). I think I might have a touch of fever as well, though I haven't bothered to measure. It started with a little sore throat and sneezing Wednesday night, and got progressively worse during the day on Thursday. I took a short nap as soon as I got home and went to and suffered through what would have ordinarily been a very good rehearsal. Then I slept fitfully all night. Today started out worse than yesterday, but didn't end up any worse. I've been drinking incredible amounts of water and juices and some Arizona "Rx Health" herbal iced tea (with echinacea, ginseng and zinc, among other things), taking tylenol when I'm home and eating chicken soup.

We were going to film our recruitment video in AcaDec today, but two students were absent, so I skipped out early and got home around 2:45. Now I'm going to eat my leftover peanut butter and jelly sandwich from lunch and see what fourteen hours or so of sleep will do to the equation. Hopefully I'll be healthy by Sunday morning, since the first service in the Escape from Gilligan's Temptation Island series looks to be pretty good.

Wednesday, 18 Apr 2001 [22:31 CDT]

I've already received some email from slightly less nerdy readers who don't really understand the article but seem to want to, so here's the explanation I mailed back:

The UNIX timestamp is the internal clock; it counts the number of seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970 (an arbitrary start date chosen probably because UNIX was released in the early 70s). Several months ago while working on the song blacklist for the class jukebox I noticed that the internal clock for UNIX was about to reach a cool number. I figured out when the cool number would actually occur, and then waited for the date to draw near. Then Monday evening I wrote up a little blurb about the thing, titled it and submitted it to the slashdot editors for review. At the time I submitted, there were also just over 120 other "articles" waiting in the "to-be-reviewed" queue. The various slashdot editors sift through them and choose a small percentage that actually get posted on the front page. Sometimes they quote the submission in full, sometimes they merely excerpt it, sometimes they append thoughts of their own, and sometimes they just bollocks the whole thing and write their own article based on the information they were given.

In my case, Timothy was the editor that chose my article for posting on the main page. He changed the title from "descending unix timestamp" to "The Quickly Descending Unix Timestamp" (which wrongly implies that the timestamp's value is getting smaller over time, IMHO), added the obligatory "from the XXXXX dept." byline, and left everything else unchanged. Which means I did a pretty good job writing the original article; Timothy almost always adds a few words of his own at the end, at least.

Wednesday, 18 Apr 2001 [22:09 CDT]

You know you're nerdy when you notice dumb things like the UNIX timestamp about to read "987654321". You know you're more nerdy when you write up an article about it and submit it to slashdot. And your nerdiness is confirmed and yet strangely affirmed when your article gets accepted and posted.

Of course, the past few days haven't been only full of geekiness; last night I went to see Chris Tomlin and Delirious? (thankfully no longer spelling it with a '5' as previously: "DELIRIOU5?") at Shoreline. The concert was good worship and was worth the $16 ticket price. The bang-for-buck was way under Earthsuit, but getting three awesome bands for $10 is probably not a fair comparison. I also saw several people I knew there.

I also finally got my best-of-breed Java books that I'd ordered six weeks ago at school. They messed up the order a bit, so instead of getting two copies of Java in a Nutshell and two of Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell they sent me one and three copies respectively. (I got two copies each of the other two books, Just Java 1.1 and Beyond and Core Java 2, as expected). I'm trying to figure out how to get the mixup fixed, but at least I have one copy of each to read in the meantime. I only wanted the second copies so I'd be able to loan one out, so there's no real hurry on that. Hopefully I'll get a chance to start looking through those this weekend. The four books I ordered combine for probably over 2000 pages of technical writing, so I'll be surprised if I even have the bulk of them read by the end of the summer.

The rollout of the six weeks projects went rather smoothly. Having seven class days to work on the projects is making some of the kids inclined to procrastinate and waste the first day or two in class, which I'm sure they'll regret soon enough. Not that I can talk; I did my fair share of procrastination on programming assignments in college as well.

Monday, 16 Apr 2001 [21:07 CDT]

By the way, the site search had been rigged to make it look like an April Fool's Day gag, even though the search does work. I finally got a chance to restore the script so it works normally. I've kept a copy of the page where all searches would link to, in case you never got "fooled".

Monday, 16 Apr 2001 [20:49 CDT]

It's been an easy day. Slept late, cleaned the apartment a bit, got groceries. Played some Zelda II. Went to school, where plant services did, in fact, put up my white board. Cleaned up a bit and put the old chalk board in the box the white board had been in and got it ready to haul off. Made sure everything was ready to roll out tomorrow. Picked up tickets for the Delirious? concert tomorrow and ran a few other little errands. Went back home. Played some more video games. And now I'm about ready to get to bed early.

Sunday, 15 Apr 2001 [22:19 CDT]

The Good Friday service was nice. We had a light crowd, but things went well and God's presence was felt. And as one of my former students pointed out, it was both Good Friday and Bad Friday.

I pretty much did nothing on Saturday but play Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on a Nintendo emulator. That's a nice game.

Today has been long. I woke up at 4:00am, then went for a three-mile walk (with a little jogging thrown in) to wake myself up. While up at the church at the half-way point, I prayed for the service. I came back home, showered and ate breakfast and was up at the church again by 6:05, ready to sing and play. The 8:00 service had a lot more energy than I was expecting and the crowd was fair. The 9:30 service was even more energetic and the crowd was pretty big. We feared overcrowding for the 11:00 service, but there were less people than had been at the 9:30, which was odd. Overall we had around 350 adults, so it was a good turnout. The services themselves went very well and it was obvious God was dealing with people.

Then this afternoon I went with Bob over to his "girlfriend's" house, where we barbecued and just ate and talked all day. Her cousin/roommate was there a bit as well. Later we went to Amy's Ice Cream, and got free crush-ins because we knew that the quote "holy rusted metal" was from Batman 3. It was a nice relaxing afternoon to follow a busy morning.

My thoughts on Easter? As I wrote in an email to a friend this morning: Easter bunny, indeed! Our savior rose!

Tomorrow we're still off, so I'm going to go to school for a bit and make sure the specifications for the end-of-year projects are ready to roll out on Tuesday. I'll also sleep late.

My soreness is much improved, which I think I can credit to the walking and just time, but I'm still not 100%.

Thursday, 12 Apr 2001 [23:32 CDT]

I've been quite sore today, and it's not looking much better for tomorrow. My kids have been telling me all day I'll make a pathetic old man if I have this much trouble with a little leg soreness now. But we have Friday and Monday off for the Easter holiday, so I'll have plenty of time to rest up (except for several Easter-related church services).

I also met with a guy from plant services who claims he's going to put up my white board tomorrow. I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched, but if it does occur I'll be a happy man.

The Ill Harmonics EP was good. There were three new songs on it, and the three from the album were quite different as well. For the most part, I like the album versions better (as you'd expect), but it's still nice to have.

Rehearsal went well tonight. We have a Good Friday service at 7:00, and three Easter services (at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00). If rehearsal was any indication, they should both be pretty awesome. I haven't looked, but I'm sure there are more details on Lakeline's webpage.

Wednesday, 11 Apr 2001 [23:08 CDT]

I just got back from the best concert I've ever seen. In a smallish room with only about a hundred people, The Benjamin Gate, Ill Harmonics, and Earthsuit rocked the place. It was loud and all three bands put on a great show, despite the small crowd. I jumped up and down a lot and screamed along with the ones I knew. It'll be a wonder if I can walk tomorrow; my calves are killing me already.

Fortunately I also brought earplugs, so my hearing was only midly affected while the others that went have got tinnitus pretty bad right now.

I picked up an Ill Harmonics T-shirt and EP. I'll give it a listen tomorrow. If you're interested in catching the show (though the Ill Harmonics are only with them while the tour is in Texas), the concert info is available. I highly recommend it.

Monday, 9 Apr 2001 [22:09 CDT]

I have graded all the tests. I spent probably ten hours up at the school this weekend, but it is done, and as a result my test-administering and test-grading software is much more feature-filled.

I'm going to try to get to bed relatively early tonight to celebrate.

Friday, 6 Apr 2001 [23:40 CDT]

The six weeks tests have all been given and all that's left is for me to figure out how I can get them graded. The only hard part will be figuring out how to regenerate some of the randomly-generated numbers from the test to make a key.

I spent a couple of hours up at the church this evening filming an Easter skit for the children's church. I was Peter, and things went pretty well. My first scene was done in one take, and the second one only took two.

My mother called to tell me that she's quite dismayed to discover that her life theme song (the 18th birthday one) is Honey by Bobby Goldsboro. I don't know this song or artist, but Mom assures me it's much worse than anything on my list, so that can't be good.

Please forgive the spotty updates this week; getting this six weeks exam written and graded has consumed my life a bit.

Wednesday, 4 Apr 2001 [23:26 CDT]

Paul mails me to gloat that his birthday song is Hotel California, by the Eagles. How fair is that? Of course, this is the same guy who, as soon as the search appeared, used it to test some of Freud's theories and then mailed me to report that the word "penis" had never appeared on these pages (until now, I guess). So maybe that's a sign that one's birthday song being cool doesn't necessarily bode well for the quality of one's existence.... (Hey, you know I'm just joshing you, Paul.)

Earthsuit is playing in Austin next Wednesday. I'm planning on going, and one of my students who's also going picked up a ticket for me. (Incidentally, it was Mandy Arrick, creator of the "we make signs" AcaDec sign.) I'm pretty excited about that since Bob spoke so highly of their live show, and to top it off, Ill Harmonics is opening. That's a heck of a lineup for $10.

I've got the six weeks exam written and ready for them to take. I was only up at school until just after 10:00 PM, which is much of an improvement from previous years. But since I'm up so late I'm going to have trouble getting up in the morning.

Tuesday, 3 Apr 2001 [22:43 CDT]

I have figured it out. On the radio yesterday morning they were discussing thisdayinmusic.com, which will tell you which song was #1 on the pop charts in the US (or in the UK, though I didn't look at most of them) for any given date. The deejays were suggesting that the song which was #1 on the day you were born is your life's theme song. The site itself claims that your theme song is the one from your eighteenth birthday. So I visited the site, where I soon learned the horrible truth. My birthday songs suck. Almost every song for every year is foofy! How can anything good go on amidst such music?

Just scan down the list and notice the utter lack of any song with a beat. Now admittedly, I don't recognize every song, though I at least know the artists, so maybe I'm overlooking something. But even the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony song couldn't be 1st Of Tha Month or anything that cool. No, it has to be Tha Crossroads, which though it poignantly mourns the loss of rapper Easy-E, isn't really that good.

My life theme? Depending on which way you lean, it's either Gordon Lightfoot or Mariah Carey. Neither one would fill me with much hope about the future.

1974SundownGordon Lightfoot1988Foolish BeatDebbie Gibson
1975Love Will Keep Us TogetherCaptain and Tennille1989Baby Don't Forget My NumberMilli Vanilli
1976Silly Love SongsWings1990Step by StepNew Kids on the Block
1977Got to Give it UpMarvin Gaye1991Rush RushPaula Abdul
1978Shadow DancingAndy Gibb1992I'll Be ThereMariah Carey
1979Ring My BellAnita Ward1993That's the Way Love GoesJanet Jackson
1980Coming Up (Live in Glasgow)Paul McCartney and Wings1994I SwearAll-4-One
1981Bette Davis EyesKim Carnes1995Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?Bryan Adams
1982Don't You Want MeThe Human League1996Tha CrossroadsBone Thugs-N-Harmony
1983Flashdance... What a FeelingIrene Cara1997I'll Be Missing YouPuff Daddy and Faith Evans
1984The ReflexDuran Duran1998The Boy is MineBrandy and Monica
1985HeavenBryan Adams1999Livin' La Vida Loca Ricky Martin
1986On My OwnPatti Labelle and Michael McDonald2000Be With YouEnrique Inglesias
1987I Wanna Dance With SomebodyWhitney Houston2001??????

Other than reeling about the uncool music that dogs my birthdays, I've been busy writing a six-weeks exam. I tutored Jesse yesterday, and continues to be doing well. I must mention a sign one of my students made, however. We're currently recruiting for next year's AcaDec class, so we've been putting up signs around the school and whatnot. Most of them are pretty creative, since we're a fairly creative bunch, but this one just stopped me short. It was by senior Mandy Arrick, who won lots of medals at competition. Maybe you won't think this is as funny as I did, but....

We make signs.

Sunday, 1 Apr 2001 [19:14 CDT]

Today is April Fool's Day, of course, which makes this the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the infamous "graham is dead" fiasco. I'm not much of a practical joker, but the idea was suggested in an email I received and it was too good too pass up. The bit lasted over a week and half, from the first post on April 1 through April 11 when I finally admitted that it was an April Fool's gag (and I actually had some people fooled).

I've since lost the original email, but it went something like this: it had been a while since some of my college friends had seen me, so in one of those mass everyone-emails-everyone-else exchanges, they hypothesized that I was dead. Then one of them suggested that I couldn't be dead because if I was, I would have mentioned it on my web page. He then suggested that I'd probably have created a "Graham Foundation" in my will to do just that.

Speaking of April fools, I thought for sure Bob was pulling my leg this morning when he left a message on my machine at 7am (I was in the shower) saying our bass guitarist was sick, so he was pulling the sound guy down to play drums (he's our normal drummer when our sound guy is in town), he was switching from drums to bass and leading, moving me to backup vocals and putting a fourteen-year-old kid running sound for us. But that's what we did, and it all turned out well.

In other news, those with sharp eyes may have spotted the search box at the bottom of the navigation menu. My web host provides a canned search capability via the SWISH-E Search Engine. I finally got a chance to play with it, and it seems to work pretty well. So I've spent all day fixing up the site so the search is on every page and cleaning up some of the broken HTML in the archives so they'll search better. Hopefully now all twenty of you will be able to find things here more quickly.

Some of my readers may notice that it behaves rather like the search box on Blue's News; this is not a coincidence. I borrowed (read "stole") the JavaScript that helps out their search box because I love the way it functions and the Java books I ordered still haven't arrived. Once they arrive, give me a year or so of practice and then I'm sure I'll be turning out funky-fresh JavaScript that they'll be stealing.

I also noticed when looking through the archives that on April 11, 1999 I passed 4 hits a day. Now, just less than two years later, I'm up to about 20. It still looks like things are small enough that I could thank you all individually if I wanted to, but it'd be harder. You guys rule.

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