December 30, 2004

In Review...

Well, my annual "gift season" is all wrapped up, as it were. (This includes Christmas and my birthday.) I was amazed at the number of gifts under our tree this year. Then I realized that whereas the gifts are usually under the tree, this year they were all around the tree, giving the appearance of abundance. However, I think there were more gifts there than we've had before. Granted, we had one more person than normal, and John and Cassie had multiple gifts for each other.

Most importantly, this was the first time in my twenty years that I had seen anything remotely resembling a White Christmas. It snowed all morning on Wednesday, covering everything, which was just amazing. After that, the temperature didn't get above the freezing point except for an hour or so on Christmas Eve. So, when I woke up Christmas morning, there was still snow covering the grass. It was awesome. My mom, however, read on Yahoo! News that Victoria, TX (about an hour north of Corpus Christi) received almost a foot of snow Christmas Eve night. The last time Victoria had measureable snow was 1973 with a tenth of an inch. The last time it had a White Christmas was 1918 or so with a tenth of an inch of snow. Incredible.

My Christmas and birthday gifts are not especially special. They range from books (like a three-volume set of Euclid's Elements, Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham, and Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter) and CDs (all indie music from; mostly classical or neo-classical, one with Latin hymns, two with Eastern Orthodox hymns sung by the Kiev Seminary Choir, and one electronic, i.e. not quite techno), two more of my crazy T-shirts, and, from my brother and sister-in-law, two "Premium Modules" for Neverwinter Nights. Those are a lot of fun.

I've read the 150-page introduction to Euclid thus far, and have I came upon the realization that I should probably learn several foreign languages. Many of the footnotes are in Greek, which I can at least sound out; I'm picking some vocabulary up slowly. However, Latin was the language of math for most of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, followed by French for a little while in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by German in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fortunately for me, English has been the standard in the 20th and 21st centuries. I feel like a four-year old, learning to read all over again. Except this time, I can't ask my parents what it all means, and they can't explain it in words I understand. For example, I'm trying to figure out exactly what oti means. In one place, it's used in a question as "because" or "why," and in another it simply states existence (oti esti, "that a thing (is)"). Clearly, I can make the connection between these two definitions, and have a rough idea of what oti means, but I'm sure there are other ways the word can be used. Estin is another one that keeps popping up. In that form (which I think is plural), it usually means "things," from what I can tell.

One final example of my frustrations. An page 14, the author is trying to explain the vague definition of "porism" (roughly equivalent to a corollary). He says, "Simson defined a porism thus: 'Porisma est propositio ... [five lines of Latin] ... descriptam.'" Fortunately, there is a footnote at the end of this. The footnote reads, "This was thus expressed by Chasles: 'Le porisme est une... [five lines of French] ... la proposition.'" The following paragraph, he gives a similar (Latin) definition of "locus." He fails to translate any of this. *sigh* Ah, well.

I suppose that's enough for now. I'm off to play Neverwinter Nights or read or something. Just imagine me sitting by the fireplace in a big comfy chair, looking all erudite and scholarly as I pore over a huge leather-bound tome. Meanwhile, I'll be sitting at my computer playing games.

Posted by Gallagher at 09:48 AM

December 26, 2004

"Has the baby Jesus been born in your heart today?"

Well, it's been far too long since I've posted. Stuff has happened around here. You know, like Christmas. A post on that is forthcoming, I promise. But now, I present you with a new round of Southern Pastor Quotations!

I think I'll begin with the few that I have from last week, the 19th. I was running sound, so no one except one of my friends could see me cringe every time the pastor said "cain't," or "see-in." Aside from the accent, I have several wonderful quotations from the service.

  • "Jesus wasn't born in palaces..." I certainly hope not. I hope Jesus wasn't born in (multiple) stables. That would be weird. (As a clerical note, I often just record the fun part, using ellipses liberally.)
  • "Happiness; it's the word happenstance." I can see where he's going with this, but he just doesn't get there. How sad.
  • "'For God so loved the world that he gave,' that's Christmas! He gave! "his only begotten son..." Okay, so this one's not so entertaining.
  • At one point he mentioned the "bondage of see-in and the depths of hail." I'm not quite sure what he's talking about.
Last Sunday night, the children put on a musical, and I had to attend because the adult choir was singing a couple of songs. At the end, the pastor stood up to give a "benediction" (read: three-minute message and call for unbelievers) in which he said, "Has the baby Jesus been born in your heart today?" Yeah.

Move forward to this morning. This morning was quite a bit better. Or worse, depending on your point of view. Bonus points if you can figure out the point of the message.

  • "Did any of you see, on channel 10 o'clock, It's a Wonderful Life?"
  • "You cannot almost have Christmas without watching It's a Wonderful Life." I'm glad my pastor has his priorities straight.
  • While explaining the movie, "George Bailey plays James Stewart..."
  • "I wanna ask you this past year, this past year did you...?" All too common grammatical slip-up.
  • "Drugs leads to heartache; drugs leads to divorce." And there's another.
  • On the Bible: "You're going to read it every day, you're going to eat it..."
  • On skiing: "Skiing is not easy; it is a hard and difficult sport." This statement has been approvingly approved by the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • "This is not a rejection of human intellectual attainment." Ironic.
  • "The entire book of Proverbs, by the way, is about the fear of the Lord." Especially that last chapter.
  • "Do you know how ... you kneel at the manger scene and kiss the face of the baby Jesus ...? You honor God by honoring him with your wealth." Yep, he's a Baptist.
  • "You may have to take something out and use it on their backside! This is the word of God!" No, this is not a liturgical church.
  • "I tell them I love them and they embrace me; that's called a relationship."
  • "Everywhere the eye could see, there was snow everywhere. It was the most whitest and most beautiful thing."

Tune in next week for another exciting round of Southern Pastor Quotations!

Posted by Gallagher at 11:40 PM

December 12, 2004

Live, from Arcadia, CA!!!

This weekend has been great. It began, like most weekends, after physics on Friday at noon. I ran to the Hive, then back to the Ice Cave to watch The Starfighters, courtesy MST3K and Wheeler. I'm fairly certain a blank notebook has more plot than that film. Then, at 3:30, people started arriving at the Ice Cave. We acquired Randy, Barbour, Paige, Rachel, Scott and Sharpton fairly quickly. We sat around for a few minutes waiting for Wheeler to get back from class, Anna to get back from work, Ardith to come along with Anna, and Cynic to get back from wherever Cynic was. After a brief discussion between the three drivers (myself, Anna, and Barbour), we decided to take US-80 into Dallas en route to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.

Randy and Ardith were the only passengers in my car, and we had a grand time on the way there. I was leading our caravan for some reason. I guess when no one has experience going to Dallas via 80, someone has to do it. The way there was relatively uneventful, punctuated by much talk of the Republic (of Texas) and an eyeball-shaped water tower. Relatively uneventful? It was terribly uneventful. Because my phone was out of service on 80, we had to pull over when Anna started flashing her brights at us. We decided to stop at Terrell to get some food. By the time we got there, my phone was working again, so we could organize ourselves and meet at a Taco Bell.

Up to this point, there was very little traffic, and we were making very good time (it was right around 6). We were only 30 miles from where we wanted to be, and had two hours to get there. No problem, right? Right. Shortly outside of Terrell, 80 turns into I-30. If there's one place I don't like being at 6 o'clock on a Friday night, it's an interstate in the DFW Metroplex. Predictably, we hit traffic. About three miles of stop-and-go. It took us at least 20 minutes to get through this. However, being the ingenious LeTourneau students we were, we knew this would happen, which is why we left four hours before the concert started. Well, we all made the exit from I-30 to US-75. According to the directions, we are supposed to go 0.8 miles on the exit ramp, then continue on Elm St. for 0.8 miles. However, the directions failed to mention that we were supposed to cross four lanes of traffic on highway 75 in about 0.03 miles. Thus, all three cars of the caravan missed the exit. At this point, I was behind everyone (traffic, you see), had lost sight of Anna, and saw Barbour just ahead of us. Realizing that I missed my exit, I took the next exit on the right, circled around, and ended up smack in the middle of Dallas's arts district. We're going along, trying to figure out where we are, when Randy spots Ross St. Ironic. This street's on the map that we had, so if we could only get on it, we could figure out how to continue from there. As I approached the intersection, this brief conversation occurred:
Me: "Randy, which way should I turn?"
Randy: "What? I don't know; let me check."
Me (the intersection is 40 feet away): "Randy, which way should I turn?"
Me (thinking): "I'm right next to the left turn lane; there are lots of cars between me and the right turn lane. Left it is."
Me (aloud, changing lanes): "We're going left."
Randy: "Um, okay."
Through a great stroke of luck, we were going the right way. We saw N. Griffin St. shortly ahead, we got back on track as far as the directions were concerned, and we made it to the parking garage a good 40 minutes before the concert started.

After we got out of the basement of the parking garage, I called Paige to discover that they had managed to get back on Elm St. somehow or another. So they would be there shortly. I then call Anna, only to discover they were decidedly lost in the one-way maze of downtown Dallas.

Well, Randy, Ardith, and I get to our seats with half an hour to spare. So we were forced to listen to inanely amusing conversation from the row behind us, waiting for the other eight people to show up. Ten or fifteen minutes later, Barbour and Paige show up, sans Sharpton and Scott. Apparently, Scott and Sharpton didn't want to risk losing their knives to the people at the metal detectors, so had returned to Barbour's car to deposit them safely. Several minutes later, Sharpton and Scott do indeed arrive, much to the dismay of Randy, who was sitting between myself and Scott. Thus, we got to amuse the row behind us (if they were paying attention) with our inane conversation.

After a while, the advertisement lights go black. Shortly thereafter, the other lights go out, as well. Suddenly, we see Anna emerging from the tunnel. Followed quickly by Wheeler, Cynic and Rachel, in that order. After a little bit of shuffling around, they took their seats. On stage, there were a few purple lights on, in a very *cough* pomo *cough* fashion. Ardith may claim to have heard me say, "Man, I wish I were high," but we all know how reliable Ardith is.

Finally, the show began, and we settled in for a couple of hours. The first half of the show was held together by some particularly awful poetry, which, by some accounts was "very touching," and, by others, was quite terrible. I think that it may have been touching if either, (1) it had been more relevant to me, or (2) it had been executed better. Most of the lyrics were thrown in there just to make it rhyme, methinks. As the band was beginning "Carol of the Bells," lots of lights start going off all around the stadium. We think nothing of it, since it's a rock concert. Then, this voice comes on, "Attention. Attention. An emergency has been reported. Please report to the nearest exit." The ushers came out and started directing everyone to the stairwells. I got about halfway down before the cry of "false alarm" was raised. Everyone moaned and groaned, but returned to their seats nonetheless.

After the story ended, one of the guys got up and started introducing the band. After he introduced the first violinist, he clearly said, "Watch her during the second half of the show." Scott and I leaned over Randy to ensure that he had indeed said the "second half of the show." The second half was pure Trans-Siberian Orchestra, sans poetry. As they say, "w00t!" They did an encore of "Carol of the Bells," "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana, Beethoven's 5th, and Mozart's "Requiem." It was quite amazing.

Upon leaving, our group decided to take I-45 to I-20 back to Longview. We would leave separately and meet up at Rip Griffin's over-glorified gas station in Terrell. After that, we came back to Longview with no trouble. I left almost a minute after everyone else (stupid semi. *grumble*), but still passed Barbour shortly. We made it back to campus a little before 1:30, almost without incident.

About 5 miles outside of Longview, I was behind a pickup. He was going slightly slower than I, but I decided to stay behind him for a minute anyway. See, there were headlights coming up behind me fairly quickly. These headlights stopped approaching when they were right behind me, then paused for a moment before going around the two cars in front of them. I get around the pickup after this. So, in front of me is a blue Ford Mustang, with no back license plate, unable to decide whether to be in the left half of the right lane or the right half of the right lane. I slowed down and let him get plenty of distance before I sped up again.

So that was the story of my Friday evening. Saturday was Saturday. Nothing new goes on on Saturdays. But now I sit here eating carcinogenic biscuits from Waffle Shoppe, trying to figure out if I want to go to lunch. Probably not. I'll just starve myself until we go out this evening, then get pizza at Midnight Breakfast at, well... midnight.

Posted by Gallagher at 12:10 PM

December 08, 2004

A Slacker's Tale

This has been a lovely day. Operating Systems was declared optional, so instead of waking myself at 7:50, I got to sleep in 'til 9:45. Chapel was entertaining, and I went to physics. CAPA was canceled for this week, so Forringer talked about relativity all class. Very interesting stuff. At one point, he mentioned that if a runner were to hit the speed of light, it would appear to us that he would freeze, all bodily functions stop, and would be generally amusing to look at (if we could see him, that is). One bright student from the other side of the class asked, "Can we do a demo?" much to the amusement of yours truly (and many others in the class).

I find the crew at lunch and am immediately, Ardith hands me a card from her mother. I was quite astounded. I am quite grateful for the words of wisdom from everyone's favorite "Ma." After finishing off my lunch, I joined Scott, Randy, and Ardith in a game of Dutch Blitz, which I have played under many different names with normal decks of cards before. When Randy left to get lunch, we were joined by Fleetman. Good times all around.

At about 1:30, I decided I ought to write up my pre-lab report for my physics lab at 2:30. So I left the game with the others and sat by Rachel and Wheeler, copying words from handouts to my lab book. This is a pointless exercise if ever there was one. However, it certainly paid off in the end. At 2:30, I walked myself over to Glaske to finish off this class. When Mrs. Ruby finally showed up, she informed the three of us who were there that we need only 98 points (out of 110) to get an A in the class. That's not a typo. We really only need 98 points. Don't ask me how it works, but that's what she decided. I, being the astute fellow that I am, realized that I had 95 points thus far, and that the pre-lab write-up was worth three points. Doing a little quick arithmetic, I figured out that I could turn in my write-up and go home with an A. I double-checked this with Ruby, who subsequently checked my write-up, gave me three points, marked those and an A in her grade book, and sent me off.

I decided that I really ought to do something nice for Ma Hoyt, seeing as she did send me a birthday card, so I decided to post something. Finally. You're welcome. Make embarrassing comments as you will.

Posted by Gallagher at 03:16 PM