What a wonderfully lazy holiday. I kicked things off on Tuesday by purchasing “World of Warcraft,” a video game I’ve been waiting on for some time and participated in the beta test of. I spent most of the rest of the day wasting time with that, and on Wednesday we headed off to Sebastopol for Thanksgiving festivities with Johanna and her family.

Wednesday night we spent with some good pizza, and then a trek out to “Old Main,” one of three bars in Sebastopol, which had approximately 2000 people stuffed into it, all of who’d just gotten in for the holidays. I met a wide array of high-school friends of Johanna, had some bad beer, and eventually retreated with Les and Peanut around 11:30 to home and bed. Thanksgiving was classic: buying food, fixing food, eating food, with all the nooks and crannies filled in with board games. Huge quantities of board games, including Lord of the Rings monopoly (Park Place / Boardwalk become Mount Doom and Barad Dur) and “Loaded Questions,” a suprisingly fun get-to-know-you game that will hopefully be converted into a drinking game for our upcoming ski trip.

Nothing was accomplished for the rest of the weekend other than slaughtering virtual wolves and human zealots with flaming bolts of death from my undead warlock (disarmingly named “Arla”) and her trusty imp Grimnar (he prances).

puzzlehunt website restored

About four years ago my friend and I did this thing called the “UT Puzzlehunt.” We had a blast, and all the puzzles and answers were recorded on a website. I wrote the site in ColdFusion, so when we moved to the new server the site stopped working. But I just found a free clone of ColdFusion server, so the site is back. I wanted to get it back up because I think I’m going to try to do one at Berkeley in the spring. If you want an interesting walk down memory lane, take a look at them here. What a crowd! And how we’ve changed…

three weeks of class left — whaa?

I’m not sure how we got to this point in the semester, but here we are.

Let’s see… I won’t try to recap the minutiae of my life. It’s worth mentioning that I finally finished the hellish task of porting SLIDE to Mac OS X. Just for “fun” I also ported it to Linux. So hopefully that’ll stop being a draw on my time now if I can help it.

Last night I saw a really good movie from Hong Kong–no kung-fu involved. It was called Infernal Affairs. Well, actually it’s called “Wu jian do” in a roman transliteration. It was just a standard-issue action-thriller-crime drama, but it was done really well. Like Hollywood might make if they didn’t have to follow the same damned formula every time they make one of those movies.

I’ve also been playing the open beta test of World of Warcraft, an online RPG set in the Warcraft world. Now, you have to understand that I played Diablo and Diablo II a lot. These are some of the most pointless games ever made, from an absolute perspective. You literally spend hour after hour clicking repeatedly on randomly created little monsters in randomly created little dungeons, hoping to obtain the Truculent Mace of the Cursed Cow or something. Somehow, I found this entertaining. WoW is like Diablo, except instead of there being 15 or so people playing in your world at any given time, there might 15,000. They’ve also replaced the 2D sprites with chunky, lowest-common-denominator 3D stuff. Not compelling to a normal person, just to me. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to cough up the $50 + $10/mo to play it once the beta is over in a week.

I finished my NSF application for the third and last year yesterday. At this point, it’s just obstinance. But the fact that I’m now at Berkeley is sort of proof that obstinance can work. So off went the application.

I’m looking forward to the next few months. Doug shows up to take my old job at Apple in a couple of weeks, and it will be great to have him in town (not that Houston wasn’t great, I’m sure). Sometime in mid Dec we’ll be heading down to Texas for some holiday fun with the Halls–should be a blast. Then, the day after Christmas, we’re heading out to Breckenridge via Denver for some snowplay with my family. We land back in Cali on 1 Jan. There’s also talk of a potential trip to Hueco Tanks in early Jan with some old friends from Texas. I wonder how much tickets would run…


It seems I’ve settled comfortably back into student-mode. What that effectively means is that there is now always something I should be doing, and frequently that thing is different from what I’d like to be doing. But it’s good–this is in contrast to when I was working, where 8 hours of the day, 5 days a week I had something I should be doing, and all the rest of the hours were mine to do with whatever I wanted. I’ve expounded before on the ups and downs of this, but I think, essentially, busy is the way that I like to be, and apparenty I have a penchant for these merit badges handed out by universities, so I’ll keep racking them up. My time these days is basically divided between three things: independent research with Carlo, indepedent research with James, and splines.

For Carlo, I’m mostly working on porting SLIDE to Mac OS X and other unixes, and although I’m more or less done with the port, I’m being held up at the end because I don’t know Tcl and also because, like everyone, I hate maintaining code I didn’t write. Honestly, if there were an easy way to let this project slide, I would, but I’m so close at this point I might as well tough it out.

My splines class is going well, and I’ve gotten a couple of weeks ahead by finishing the last programming assignment early. Now I just need to pick a final project to implement sometime between now and the beginning of November. There’s no final in the class, so I think things should be smooth sailing the rest of the way.

The most interesting thing going on right now is probably my project with James. I’ve talked about it before; like I suspected, it’s been tough. Still, there’s something about the way it’s been forcing me to learn that I’m really enjoying. I’m not sure yet whether James would have me as a student, or whether he’s the right choice as an advisor, but I’d say at this point he’s probably at the top of my list.

I’ve also been climbing more, and even getting a chance to do ashtanga once a week. I’m slowly filling in all the empty spots in my schedule with activities, just like when I was an undergrad. I do love it.

Oh… and I beat GTA:SA. Only with 50% completion, though, so I’ll be playing it through again, I think :)