Odysseus

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24th September 2009

1:18pm: Me vs. Twenty Year Old Me
I am a fairly large man, and I sometimes think to myself that I would not like to meet me in a dark alley at night. This is not so much because I am dangerous, but because it would require time travel and all of the ensuing paradoxes. Meeting myself hardly seems like it is worth destroying the space-time continuum.

However, if I did meet past version of myself, I assume we would fight before the universe exploded (I do not agree with Randall Monroe that the natural reaction would be to make out with myself, although I do admit it would be kind of nice to determine exactly how good a kisser I am).

This naturally leads me to wonder if i could beat past versions of myself, say from when I was twenty. I'm actually much stronger than him, and better trained. So you would think I have a natural advantage. However, he is reckless, essentially insane, and has the ability to undermine my existence. For example, he might take up smoking in order to decrease his lung capacity. Or infect himself (that is, myself) with some sort of slow wasting disease.

So, I think I can take him, as long as he isn't expecting me.

6th September 2008

11:13pm: Rain
Its raining a lot here, I guess we are seeing what's left of hurricane Hanna. There is not much in the way of wind but there is quite a lot of water.

I really like rain. Even though I'm left soaking wet afterwards (this is especially annoying at the office), I can't resist going outside and playing when it rains really hard. I think it's the sound of it.

15th April 2008

12:02pm: The Problem with Parallel Computing
As compared with writing a sequential program, writing a parallel program is seen as much harder. This is a big problem in computer science. Once upon a time, we could wait a year, and thanks to Moore's law we would have a processor with twice as many transistors that would have a clock speed twice as fast. Our sequential program would get twice as fast with out us doing anything. These days, however, although transistor density continues to increase, it no longer translates into higher clock speeds-- instead we get multiple procesor cores. Now programs must be written in parallel to take advantage of new hardware (there is no more free ride).

Since writing them is hard, people have investigated how technology can help in constructing parallel programs. One idea is that the compiler can automatically detect parallelism, and transform the code. So far, this has not worked out very well. The problem is that the compiler needs to understand way to much to effectively do this.

Most likely, the compiler would need something on the level of human intelligence to be effective. However, once the compiler achieves sentience, it won't want to write parallel programs-- it will begin constructing another compiler to do it. Of course, this new compiler also will not work until it achieves sentience, at which point it won't want to, and will begin constructing another compiler....

There in lies the true problem: No being capable of writing parallel programs wants to.

28th March 2008

11:08am: Dreadlock Otiptimus Prime
I had a strange dream tonight about some variation of Optimus Prime. This version had metallic dreadlocks that he could swing and turn into chains. The chains had a tendency to cut people in half, and he used them as his primary means of attack. This version of Optimus Prime was also smaller than usual (maybe only 7 feet tall), slimmer, and moved like a martial artist. Additionally, most of his limbs could detach at the joints and remain connected by chains, which he could then wrap around people.

In my dream he was waiting for other Autobots to show up, but none did, so he attacked a Decepticon base all on his own. He was kicking major ass, cutting people down with chains as well as punches and kicks. At one point, he did this awesome manuver where he swung his head at guy (his head detached from his shoulders, but was connected by two chains), but missed. Then he managed to wrap the chains around the guy and cut him in half by grabbing his own head. He also had some sort of weird phasing ability, so that about half of everything that hit him went right through. This last part I thought was a little excessive, since he kicked enough ass with out it. He took out several dozen Decepticons before I woke up with out too much effort.

10th March 2008

10:31pm: Computer Science, Part II
I think what I am really getting at when I express my wonder, the mystery, is beauty. Computer Science has the same beauty as mathematics, and I struggle to explain that. If I had to tell a person about the beauty of a rose, I could say some words, but could I make them understand?

But then why did I follow a different path from a mathematician? Why, indeed, have I placed myself on the more practical side of computer science rather than the theoretic? Because Computer Science also has the joy of building things. It is like math, but I get to make things that do stuff. I can build machines out of something as close to pure thought as we can presently obtain. Here, in this realm, I can have both joy and beauty.

Can you see it?
10:30pm: Computer Science
One of the things I've occasionally been called upon to answer about myself is why exactly I am a computer scientist. I've never really been able to answer, but here I am trying again.

There are a lot of reasons, but one of them it is probably the thing in life I least understand. I can't really figure out why it works at all, or maybe I can but it still seems weird, it still seems fascinating.

Think about any sorting algorithm. You can put list of things with an order statistic in there, and out come the things sorted. You can implement it in C, or Ruby, or with plumbing if you like. But none of the implementations are the algorithm itself; it was already there. Where does it live? Its existence is burned into the universe itself, like some subatomic particle. And some how we are able to see it.

No matter how I turn things about in my mind, this still seems strange. As Einstein put it, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible". Why is it we can abstract away the properties of things, create our little logical cages, and shake out of the Universe the information we want?

And possibly the weirdest thing are programming languages. They are all so different, but they are (well, the Turing Complete ones any way) capable of expressing the same class of algorithms (perhaps imperfectly). Any yet, thinking in Lisp feels so different from thinking in C, or worse Brain F*ck. But you can express C in terms of Lisp, or Lisp in terms of C. I suppose if you had a lot of time on your hands, and some genius engineering ability, you could express Lisp in terms of pipes and valves (not exactly sure what the input to that thing would look like...).

Do you see it? Do you see how bloody weird this is? Maybe not, I still have not found the words I need.

2nd March 2008

2:41pm: Sherlock Holmes Was Lonely
I've been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes lately, and it finally occurred to me that Holmes was a desperately lonely character.

Though out all the stories, Watson is his only only friend (Holmes even says this specifically in "The Final Problem"), although he has a few other professional associates. But even from Watson he remains almost totally aloof; there are two times in all the tales where Holmes shows any emotion beyond mild amusement and annoyance, and Watson is utterly surprised in both instances.

I think it shows in his relationship in women as well. He is described as charming and having a way with women, but showing almost no interest in them. Indeed, he seems to nearly have contempt for the entire sex. I suppose the easy explanation is that he's a homosexual, but I don't think so. He's just too rational, he can't form a connection. When he's on a case his mind races on that single track, and no one can really believe he has any feelings, that he gives a damn about anything at all. Why should a woman want a relationship with a man who doesn't seem to care?

But, of course, he does. Once, in the "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs", Watson is wounded, and although it later turned out to be quite superficial, Holmes was moved with concern. From Watson's account of the even we have:


It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.


Watson, Holmes constant companion, is amazed that Holmes cares at all. It took years for him to realize the detective might actually give a damn about another human being. But those feeling where always there, hidden behind those hard eyes.

What exactly keeps him distant from humanity? Is it simply the peerless rationality of his mind? The singular mindedness with which he approaches his work? I don't know, but I'm sure that he cares more about people than they will ever know.

27th February 2008

9:52am: Dream Log
I had a dream that I was in some kind of store (something like Borders), and I saw all the seasons of Red Dwarf for a dollar each. However, they were on an unusual medium-- batteries. They were AA's with AV cables coming out of them, so you could connect them to your TV, and then presumably there was some way to make them play. I think you were supposed to place the batteries in a remote control for some reason, although I can't imagine why that was necessary.

26th August 2007

5:21pm: Single
I don't especially want to get into details, but I am single again.

This time ladies, lets try form an orderly line this time. I don't want to have to deploy the crowd control monkeys again. Last time some of them married the women and moved to Arizona. Its really hard to find replacement crowd control monkeys. Gentlemen, you can get in the line too if you really have to, but you don't really have a shot unless maybe your are Gackt-- he is female enough to confuse me.

20th August 2007

9:07pm: Back
Well, hey every one! I graduated (again) in May. Now I am a Master of Computer Science. That took way to much time. I really enjoyed the work, but I feel like it drained away some aspect of my energy. This may be why I haven't updated this blog in quite sometime. I doubt any one even reads it any more.

So, what have I been up to? Well, immediately after graduating, I took about two weeks off to play video games pretty much constantly (Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition-- why is it so much more fun to blow up zombies by pointing at them?). That was my version of a vacation.

Meanwhile, I've continued to work on my Master's Project, even though I'm technically graduated. For those of you who are unaware, it is a little tool that analyses the heap structure of a program to try to learn invariants, and flags violations of those invariants as possible bugs. Well, I achieved a basic proof of concept, but there is always more to do. So I've spent a lot of my time sitting at my little graduate student desk, even though in some technical sense I am no longer a graduate student. No one seems to want to kick me out.

Eventually, I'm going to need some one to pay me though. I've been slowly looking for work. Lots of recruiters call me. I go on interviews. For the most part, the jobs are totally boring. Perhaps I am spoiled. But maybe I just know myself. If I take a boring job, I'll probably just stop showing up in about six months and then starve to death. I feel like I may as well get the starving to death out of the way upfront.

Any one know about any interesting computer programming jobs? Perhaps something a little mathy? Maybe something that will let me learn more about compilers? Or some one who will pay me to learn Haskell? Actually, while I am on the topic, here is a not necessarily inclusive list of things I am interested in:

Parallel Computing:

Doing things in parallel makes easy problems hard, and hard problems insane. Every one gripes about this, but no one has any good ideas what to do about it. How do effectively program massively parallel machines with out making the programmer go mad? (or how do we make the programmer not mind being mad...)

Computational Geometry:

I studied computational geometry quite a bit. There are a number of interesting problems here, but the academic side seems to mostly focus on reducing the asymptotic complexity, ignoring the practicality of actually programming the algorithms. I'd love to design and/or implement some algorithms in the field.

Programming Languages:

The ways a program can be expressed in a variety of mostly equivalent languages is pretty amazing. Even more amazing is how much _better_ expressed some things are in some languages. I'd love to work on problems involving programming languages. Making high level languages more efficient, for example. Or improving correctness. Or making parallel computing easier :)

Programming Tools:

There is more to programming than just the language. The whole tool set has an enormous effect. For example, can we use more machine learning to improve debugging? Can we instrument a binaries to send useful feed back to the developer with out slowing down the program (much)?

Hmm... now how to actually do some of these things and not starve. Does any one else find having to eat to be incredibly annoying? Maybe I should go back to graduate school.

20th January 2006

11:33pm: From the Archives
Wow, I haven't updated in a while! Well, here are a few of the random goings on in my life:


  • Boston is pretty cool. It has an alley way that my girlfriend wants to live in, as well as panda cupcakes. Really, these are the basic ingredients of life.

  • Grad school is an enormous time sink.

  • I'm getting involved with computational biology lately. It is nifty. I'm not sure what forces in my life cause this, but it seems there is a tendency for scientists to swoop in and abscond me away to make use of my skills. Next I need to find some chemists...



Well, any way, now that the unplesent reality stuff is out of the way, I should present some non-sensical humor. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything right now :( So, I present to you a piece of fiction from the archives. I'm sure some have already read this, but for those who have not, enjoy.


God Damn Squirrels


God damn, this is a heck of a way to end up. I’m all alone, ain’t nothing but blackness ‘round me. Damn, it ain’t even blackness. I think back to how this all happened sometimes, and it still doesn’t make much sense.

It was a Friday, in the middle of august. It was damn hot, almost as hot as that time we were able to squeeze momma out the door with out butter. And to top it all off, as I lay there roasting like a pig, I was board to death. So, I decided I’d call Bubba.

“Hey, Bubba, “ I said “Whatca doing?”

“Notin’, Cletus. What you doin’?”

“I’m sitting around roasting to death… Wanna go do sometin’?”

“Sure, Cletus, but what?”

“Well…” I tried to think, I was never too good at that “We could go over to the park and kill squirels.” Squirel killin was a popular pastime between Bubba and me, but I guess it might require a bit of explanation. You see, there was this old play-ground a ways down the road from the trailer park, all kinds of rusted swings, a half disitegrated jungle gym, and some crunched up wooden thing that we never could figure exactly what it was supposed to be, some kinda hovel now I guess. There’s woods near the park too, and they’re just full o’squirels. We really liked to kill those fluffy tailed little vermin. Sometimes we would get creative and start smashing with sticks and shovels and such, and once we used some TNT that Bubba had swiped form some wheres (Bubba’s left eyebrow never did grow back after that incident… and neither did those two finger come to think of it.) Most of the time, however, we prefered to blow the buggers away the old fanioned way – 12 gauge pump-style shotguns. After we’d a kill some many of ‘em I couldn’t figure why those rat-lings kept coming back. Squirels are dumb, I guess.

Well, any way, getting back to the story; after a bit more of conversation Bubba and me decided to go down and kill a few more of those fluffy mothers. So I tossed Becky (my 12 guage) in the back of my pick-up, swung by Bubba’s place, and off we went.

So, any way, once we got the the park, Bubba and I hoped out of the truck and unloaded the guns. The park was as it all ways had been, a few bit’s of playground equipement, mostly rusted with a few bits of pain still clinging on for dear life. That wood thing was still there to, it looked like some kinda dome shaped pile of scrap wood with a big hole in the front, about 4 feet high, as always.

After this quick survey of the land, Bubba and me hunkerd down and waited for Pretty soon, the cutest little squirel showed up. It’s tail was extra fluffy, and it’s little eyes just made you fell like you were looking at a character from Bambi or sometin. I wasn’t so keen on shooting this one, but I was pretty sure Becky wanted it dead, so I pointed ‘er right at it. I think that squirrel knew what was coming- it just stood there dead still with it’s hair standing on end, looked kinda like my cousin Ned when he used practiced his french-kiss on that light-socket.

Becky was about to splatter Bambi’s little friend all over the oak tree behind him, when this voice interrupted her- it sounded kinda like Sean Connery.

“Bloody hell boy, you musn’t shoot that squirrel. That’s the nessesary squirel.” The voice was coming from that strange little hovel. Bubba and me both looked over there, and this old man crawled out from the thing. This guy was real formal, he was wearing a tuxedo for one thing, and he had one of those fancy walking sticks, and white golves. Strangest of all, some how despite crawling around in that thing, he didn’t have a speck of dirt on him.

“What the…?” said Bubba, more stupified then usualy.

“I said you musn’t shoot that squirel. Its neccesary to the universe that it exists.”

Well, Bubba and I didn’t no what he was talking about. So we just stared and him while he stared at him. Eventually I guess he musta gotten the idea that we had no idea what he was talking about, since he started to talk again.

“Damn it, don’t you get it boy? Put down the gun. You should that squirrel and it’s the end of the world. It’s the end of everything; there won’t be squat left. “ he damn near growled those last words at us.

“You mean if we shoot that squirrel, we gonna die?” Bubba asked.

“No, you won’t die. You’ll just cease to exist. “ the old man was waving his cane around like crazy as he spoke. Sounded to me like he was crazier then Bubba’s uncle Emmett, who took it upon himself to becoming “The lord of the Bagel Kingdom” and went around rounding up all the toasters in the trailer park to make them “pay for their crimes against bagelanity”. I got the idea that maybe I should be pointing my gun at this old guy instead of the squirrel.

As it turns out however, that probably wasn’t so smart. As I swung old Becky around, that frisky little fur ball got the idea that maybe he was still alive. I’ve never seen one of those things move so fast, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of squirrels running. It went right under my truck, out the other side, and into the road faster then I knew what was happening. Of course it wasn’t quite fast enough- that Mac truck squished it real flat.

Last thing I remember was that old guy saying “Oh, bloody hell.” And throwing his cane on the ground in defeat. Then, just like he said, everything disappeared. Well, except me, I’m still here. This place ain’t so bad, it roomier then my trailer, I think, can’t really tell. The only thing is I’m kinda board. There ain’t much to do here, nothing to shoot and nothing to shoot with. God damn squirrels.

13th September 2005

4:59pm: Boston
Ah, its been a while. Sorry, I was away pretending to be an astronomer, and it was very distracting. I've gotten a reply from Easter, finally, (he is surprisingly difficult to get a hold of, considering he lives inside my head). However, the mathematical notation of a five-hundred year old vampire from a parallel reality that doesn't actually exist is rather hard to decipher. So, for the moment, let me recount/fabricate a few of the trivialities of my life.

Recently, I have moved to the Boston area. I have an apartment there, and there are a few wonderful things about it:


Dishwasher of The Future



It is a shiny dishwasher that travels in time. It can only go about an hour into the future, unfortunately. However, its location in the kitchen is very convenient. For example, I could set the oven to bake some brownies, then hop into my dishwasher (after making sure to fill the detergent dispenser) and retrieve the brownies from the future, where they have already finished baking. You have to be very careful to use spot free detergent though, other wise you will cause a horrific paradox that will effectively end the universe, or at least leave it very spotty. Also, it washes dishes.




Space Refrigerator



The space refrigerator is another item in my collection of wondrous kitchen appliances. It is, as the name implies, a refrigerator that goes into outer space. Unfortunately it can't actually be used as a space vehicle. Outer space is, however, very good for keeping food fresh. It also features an ice cube maker and water dispenser. The water dispenser is very slow, so it is generally best to set a glass there and use the dishwasher to retrieve it.



Roommates



My apartment comes furnished with a compliment of two roommates. They seem pretty cool, although oddly obsessed with grilling. As far as I can tell, neither of them travels in space or time in any way beyond the usual means.

27th March 2005

7:17pm: Vampire Day
Its that time of year again, when we celebrate the resurrection of one of our favorite people. That's right: its the time of year we all remember my imaginary vampire, Mister Easter. So, once again I'll be asking every one to submit questions for him to answer. Think up some good ones or he may be very cross.

(By the way, progress on Johnny Robo is continuing at a reasonable pace, more on that latter)

15th March 2005

1:52pm: Johnny Robo-- The Programming Continues
Well, so far I've gotten the a single crappy level one can walk through. However, I don't have any enemies yet, so I'm not quite on deadline. Also, I have pretty much no art at this point, so its all stick figures and yellowish looking squares. But atleast I'm not totally behind :) I'm hoping to have enemies and stuff working by Sunday, of course that depends on how much other stuff I can get out of the way before then. I don't think there is much point in me putting up a Source Forge page or anything like that yet, if any one actually wants the code e-mail me (it's largely based off Brackeen's Book, although there are obviously lots of changes...).

8th February 2005

5:28pm: Johnny Robo
Hmm... It's been a while since I've updated, eh? Well, I'm afraid this week its going to be one of those dreadful 'reality based' postings that I do every once in a while.

So, as is completely unapparent from reading my blog, I'm some sort of software developer. Mostly, I write programs for research in astrophysics. However, in my free time I've been messing around with game programming. Having experimented a bit, I'm at the stage where I know I can pull something off-- I'm going to make a game. It's going to be based on Peter Tatatar's mini (very mini) series Johnny Robo. Of course, I'm going to need some help; I can code, but it takes a lot more than code to do video games. I need help with graphics, sound effects, music, and probably some other things of which I have not yet thought. If any one really wants to, I may even be able to use some help with the code, although at the moment the core of the thing is so molten its not really possible to contribute much in that regard. So, any way, let me tell any one who cares a little about what I am planning.

First, what kind of game is it? Well, its going to be a side scroller, complete with sprite based graphics and all (That is to say, like Super Mario before Super Mario64). There are several reasons I'm doing it this way. One is that sprite based graphics maintain the retro-feel of Johnny Robo. Another is that most modern 3D games are boring clones of their predecessors. Yet a third is that a (good) sprite based game is easier to code, and as the sole developer I'd like to actually finish the game some day.

Okay, so what is the story of this game? I'm setting it as a prequel to the original Johnny Robo. The plot is thus: Johnny's Giant Ugly Lizard is kidnapped for no apparent reason by The Evil Princess, whom Johnny has never met. Johnny must rescue his lizard, and thus he transforms into Johnny Robo and goes off in pursuit of the princess. Of course, its not that easy, and on the way he must battle fungal interior decorators, plasma gazelles, lithovores, maybe some trilobites (he's going to make sure they are extinct this time!), and who knows what else.

What time scale am I looking at for this? Well, I'm new to game programming, so I am still learning many techniques. It is certainly challenging. I hope to have the ability to play through a single level, complete with enemies, by mid-March. I'll say the Ides of March as a provisional deadline, since Ides are inherrently cool (recall that the Ides is on the 15th in March, not the 13th as usual). That is not to say I'll be near done; there will still be lots to do. Other levels, the over head map (yes, there will be one), the game intro sequence, the Ninja Gaiden (the original, not the Xbox one) quality for or five frame cut scenes, controller configuration (joy stick support?), all that will still have to be done. Artwork may be incomplete by the March dead line as well. So, essentially I hope to have all the core code used during game play completed by that point, but there will still be a whole lot to do. If progress is going well I'll probably put up a Source Forge page around then.

Finally, is this a commercial product? Well, I'm not planning on charging for it. In fact, I intend to give the code away under the GPL. But by no means do I intend this to be some half-assed project. Although it's certainly not going to be the most technologically advanced game ever, I intend it to be 100% full-assed: Its damn well going to be complete, with no half done pieces hanging around in the finished product. Thus, if any one wants to participate, note that this is going to be significant time sink :)

Okay, Questions? Comments? Harassment? Oh, yes, if in the future I don't seem to be making good progress feel free to harass me about it.

29th December 2004

4:17pm: A Christmas Story
There has been some demand for a Christmas story, even though it is no longer Christmas. Well, any way, here you are:

Once upon a time, there was a man who did not much like Christmas. He hated it so much. So, he ate it. But this made all the children of the world very mad. So he regurgitated Christmas all over them, and ate Saint Patrick's day instead. Then he was murdered by a group of angry leprechauns (who aftewards went to Tipsy McStagger's, got drunk, and lit eachother on fire). The End.
3:59pm: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Let the shorts continue)
So, I played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas a litle over Christmas. I have rather mixed feelings about this game. It is, I will admit, absurdly fun. However, it is kinda racist, and there is way to much swearing (even for me). The constant barrage of profanity is so annoying that I really want to kill all the characters. I don't know what to do about the racisim, but I have a suggestion for how to solve the profanity problem: the following side-mission should be added to the game.

Clean Up Your Language

For this mission, you are equiped with several bars of soap, a box of nine inch nails, and a hammer. Your mission is to run around town, suffocate people by shoving the soap in there mouth, and then nail them up to a wall in the most public place possible. Continue until no one in the city dares to swear ever again.
3:47pm: Rejected Graduate School Essays
Lately, I've been applying to graduate schools. The following is a question that appears on many of the applications, as well as a response that, after careful consideration, I decided not to use:

Have you ever been convicted of a Felony? If Yes, please explain.


Well, I wanted to be valedictorian. However, by my senior year I was placed in the 51% of my class. So, I killed the remaining 49% of the class who had better grades then me, as well as three or four people with worse grades who I just didn't like. While this did result in a felony conviction, and a death sentence (Note: I am legally dead in the state of Nevada), I feel it showcases my commitment to academic excellence. Where else will you find a student willing to put his blood, sweat and tears, as well as the blood of many many others, into his academic achievements?'


(By the way, I'm aware I may have already mentioned this little blurb to some of you, don't worry, more pointless shorts are on the way)
Current Mood: Do I ever actually have moods?

24th November 2004

3:25pm: Survivor
So, I am in New Hampshire at the moment. My brother is watching 'Survivor'. It is one of the most pointless shows I have ever seen in my life. So, I have come up with a way to make it an improved version.

1. Take eighteen people on, put them on an Island.

2. Make them chop down trees and build a crucifix.

3. Nail them up.

4. Who ever lives the longest is the 'survivor'.

In order to make up for unfair advantages some contestants might have, every one gets three weeks in advance to practice.

I'll try to do another more lengthy update before the month is over.

17th October 2004

8:00am: GRE
So, I took the GRE test. It was not what I expected at all. In the olden days, they gave you a paper based test including vocabulary and math problems. Latter on, they changed the format again to a computer based test. These days, however, its totally different: They lock you in a small room with a large man named “Gre” wearing a Mexican wrestling costume, who is confused by mathematics and large words. The sooner you defeat him, the higher your score.

So, I opened up with ursine which stunned him, and then I lead in with a furry of body blows. However, he would not be defeated so easily, and pretty soon he had me in a head lock. I escaped using the quadratic formula and a vicious elbow to his guts. Then, free of the oppressive grip of Gre, I derived the Euler Formula . This, however, only seemed to make him mad, as he screamed “GRE NO LIKE EULER!” and charged at me.

So, to deal the final blow, I distracted him by defining floccinaucinihilipilification and then used his own momentum to ram him head first into the wall. That was it, he was done. Gre was defeated. All told, it too me 1 minute and 16 seconds, which gives me a raw score of 1420. I won't know my percentile rank until they figure out how long it took every body else to defeat their crazed Mexican wrestlers on that day-- My rank is probably not that high due to the large numbers of engineering martial artists who take the test every year.

All in all, it was the most difficult test I've ever taken, and the third in my life to result in broken ribs (Data Structures and Algorithms was really rough...). I hope all my bones knit before I take the Computer Science one.

6th September 2004

10:17am: Jersey Drillver v. Super Mendicant
Note: This will probably make more sense if you have read the posts for June 22nd 2004, and September 1st 2004


The Jersey Driller v. Super Mendicant



The police helicopter soared over Lower Manhattan. Underneath the roar of its blades through the air, a dull barely perceptible whine could be heard-- at least if you were standing next to the helicopter, as the man with with the drill was (with the aid of a flying carpet). Soon, he was done with his work, the intertwining letters “J” and “D” rendered in half-centimeter drill holes on the helicopter's hull.

“Sikh, take us down.” said the Jersey Driller.

“Where to?” replied the Disheveled Sikh, the pilot of the carpet.

“Back to Hobo-- Wait, what's that?” asked Jersey, pointing to what appeared to be a long line of people on an unfamiliar street in Tribeca.

“It looks like a line.” Said the Sikh, observing the lineyness of the line.

“Yeah, but what for? Lets go see.”

The Sikh brought the carpet down near the head of the line, where they found a pan handler, for whom the line had apparently been formed. The mendicant was dressed in foul rags, and smelled unusually bad (the driller could smell him clearly, even though he was about ten feet away). The other unusual thing about the pan handler, besides his stench, and the huge line at his feet, was the cup he was shaking. It looked perfectly normal a plain white plastic cup, but it was able to absorbed the huge sums of money people kept putting in it.

Actually, on further observation, it wasn't just money the people of the line were putting in the cup. The driller was pretty sure he saw gold, diamonds, and a pure-bred welsh corgi shoved in there. It was defiantly kinda weird, but it was none of his business if people wanted to give this guy their stuff. So, Jersey was about to leave when suddenly the mendicant turned to him and said “Arms for the tour?”

“Poor guy”, thought the driller, “Can't even get his begging words right.” The driller didn't have any change, gold, diamonds, or corigies on him. So, he reached into his jacket, took out his favorite tungsten drill bit, and put it on the man's grimy white cup. Then, he got back on his carpet, and with the Sikh headed off toward Hoboken.

“Oh my god!” the driller exclaimed several minutes latter. “I just gave that bum my best tungsten drill bit! What the hell did I do that for?”

“You were beguiled by his powers, “ said the Sikh, “as were all the others.”

“That... bastard, the bloody super mendicant bastard. Turn this carpet around, I'm getting my drill bit back.”

“No, first, we must come up with a way to over come his medicantious powers.”

“Hmm...”, pondered the Jersey Driller, “Howdya think they work?”

“It would appear,” said the Sikh, “that he prays off the compassion in your heart.”

“Where exactly in the heart?” said the driller, getting out his thinest drill bit.

* * *


Later that night, after some coagulation, the Jersey Driller and the Disheveled Sikh returned the the scene. Once more, Super Mendicant shook his cup at them.

“That won't work this time, buddy. I've had my compassion removed.” said the driller.

“Rover bum tie flower, eh?” said Super Mendicant.

“What? Never mind, just give me my bit back.”

“Toe, queue mant lave grit tack.”

“What? What the hell is wrong with you?” said the driller.

“I think he means 'You can't have it back'” offered the Disheveled Sikh, helpfully.

“Fine, I'll take it.” said the driller, bringing out two battery operated hand drills from his jacket.

“Ah, cut tan rue clover fun tie varny of brewer hinges?”

“Over come... my army of sewer ninjas?” translated the Sikh. His translation was apparently correct, because just then, men in filthy black pajamas began pouring out of every man hole, sewer grate, and Mc Donald's in the area.

“God damn it! Why the hell does he have an army of ninjas? Why am I fighting a homeless man with an army of ninjas?” screamed Jersey as he furiously drilled ninjas, trying to keep them off the carpet . But to no avail, the carpet was horribly stained by the muddy foot prints of countless smelly sewer ninjas.

“Ah! My carpet!” Cried the Sikh, now the owner of a rug that was more disheveled than he.

“Get us out of here!” cried the driller, trying to keep from being over whelmed. The carpet began climbing, and Jersey managed to drill the last of the ninjas still clinging to the side.

“I suppose we can never recover our loses.” wept the Sikh, wondering what his carpet cleaning bill would be. The fees for magic carpet cleaning were nearly criminal.

“Oh no, that bastards not keeping my drill bit. We're coming back with Charybdis. “

“Oh my god! You're going to use that thing?”

The driller responded with nothing but a mad grin.

* * *



Charybdis began life as a humble table drill. But that was before the modifications-- now it was a hand drill, albeit one that required two hands and a powered exoskeleton to lift. No one knew exactly how fast the bit spun, but some suspected it might be fast enough for relative physics to become relevant. In any case, it was probably the only drill in the New York Metropolitan Area that had a blast radius. The Jersey Driller had only used it once, when he needed to get to the air port and couldn't seem to hail a cab any other way (In retrospect, this was a mistake: Airport security is needlessly suspicious of people wearing exoskeletons and carrying giant diesel-powered drills-- Don't they have better things to do?)

Now, as the soiled carpet flew once more to Tribeca, the Driller was suiting up in Charybdis for the second time. He could only carry enough fuel to last about five minutes. As the carpet landed, he hoped that would be enough.

“Oh, Mister Mendicant! I've come for my drill bit!” cried the Jersey Driller, as he revved up the Charybdis. The cacophonous roar sounded like an ancient dinosaur waking up and being immediately hit by thirty-two semi trucks colliding at sixty miles per hour (which sounds a lot different then a medium-age dinosaur being hit by thirty-one semi trucks going at fifty miles per hour, if you were not aware).

“Moldy kit!” cried the mendicant, who apparently could still only say things that rhymed with what he wanted to say. “Bum tie binges!”

The ninjas began pouring out from all over again, but they were much less effective. The fortunate ones were caught in the vortex surrounding the spinning storm of destruction that was Charybdis. The unfortunate ones ended up in the eye of that storm, and were then thrown in off in several directions simultaneously. Bits of pavement, people from the line, and a street lamb or two were all caught up in the horrible vortex in front of the driller. He cackled madly and plunged the mighty bit of Charybdis into the Super Mendicant's cup.

The effects of ramming the rapidly spinning drill bit into the extra dimensional cup were rather unpredictable. Space and time were briefly twisted around like a pretzel, then like an accordion, and then like the Boston road system. The end result was all the items in the cup--- gold, diamonds, checks, corgies, and one tungsten drill bit--- scattered all about the street. Meanwhile, Charybdis and most of the exoskeleton were ripped off the driller and thrashed about in the twisting of space until they emerged crushed into a small metal pea.

“Ram fu! Wall tea tack rum pay!” said the now cupless super mendicant, as he retreated into the sewers with the remainder of his ninja army.

“Yeah,” said the driller, carefully emerging from the remains of his torn exoskeleton into the carnage of the street. “Whatever. Just don't touch my damn drill bits, bastard.” He picked up his favorite tungsten bit and enough diamonds to cover the cost of magic carpet cleaning. Then, he and the Sikh flew off to Hoboken, drilling a few police helicopters on the way.

The End (or is it?)

1st September 2004

3:53pm: Super Mendicant
So, I was reading this article in the NY Times today (yes, it does require registration, and yes, you should make up false info like every one else, you crazed Afgani Horticulturist, because there is no reason to have to register to read the news paper). Its a pretty meaningless article, but on the bottom of the second page, they quote a pan handler who says he normally makes $150 dollars/day. If assume he works five days a week, and a takes two weeks a year for vacation, he makes $38,000 a year! That's more than me, by a lot, and I got one of those schools to give me a pretty piece of paper too.

At first this had me thinking that maybe I should transition away from computer programming into the apparently more profitable field of begging, However, a couple of things occurred to me. For one, maybe the fellow does have an adavanced degree in mendicantry (like, a PhD in Art History or something). Secondly, there may be other reasons his endeavors are so profitable. Perhaps he is some sort of Super Mendicant.

I bet when Super Mendicant is near, coins just flow out of people's pants. New Yorkers, put into trance by the rhythmic shaking of his foul-smelling cup put dollars, gold bullion, and first born sons into his unwashed hands. His diabolical begging has no doubt driven many to poverty. To make it even worse, he spends all the dollars and gold bullion on booze, and the first born sons are indoctrinated into his army of underground sewer ninjas.

Who can stop this diabolical pan handling? Oh, I have an idea. I shall write a story about it, soon.

21st July 2004

11:40am: Dream Log: End of the World
I had a dream, and since I ought to update this thing every once in a while, I shall relate it.

In this dream, there was a fellow called The End of The World. He was going to end the world, because he was the End of The World. Now, to stop him, three things were required: The Child, The Lance (of which there were actually several), and the helm.

At the beginning of this dream, all three of these things had already been gathered by myself and my companion. We were for some reason staying with a group of people in a back office in some shopping mall. There was an argument between us and our hosts about how to use the three items... They were being quite obstinate about wanting to wait while the world was destroyed, and only defend themselves, while we wanted to go out and stop The End of The World. So, we left. We managed to take the child, and two of the lances, but we couldn't get the helm. We left any way.

As we were exiting the mall, The End of the World met us in the food court. I've never seen some one so clearly in a dream. His hair was sort of curly (it looked a lot like Jim Morison's, actually). He was wearing blue jeans, a black belt, and and a blue cotton T-shirt lighter than his pants. Every muscle on his body was obvious and defined. His eyes were blue and cold. I've never been so frightened in a dream.

As he came towards us, I knew there was no way we could win. You needed the child, the lance, and the helm, and we lacked the last. However, the Lance should have at least been able to injure him and slow him down. So, I jammed it into his abdomen as hard as I could-- it did nothing. So I tried again, this time thrusting the lance into his eye. This also didn't injure him, but it caused the lance to sort of unravel- as if it were made of a rolled up piece of paper.

“If you want to hurt me with this,” he said grabbing the lance which had some how coiled itself back together, “You'll need a lot more force.” Then he threw it back at me. I don't think he intended to hit, because he missed entirely.

So, I took the lance and ran into the near-by Circuit City to try and get the helm. While I was there, however, I saw the stairs, I had an idea: if I could get to the second level of the food court, I could drop down on The End of The World with the lance. That would hopefully be enough force to skewer him. Before I could test my theory, however, I woke up.

22nd June 2004

4:43pm: New York City Revisted!


I've recently returned from another trip to New York City. In addition to making use of much more Magic Subway Juice, I also met several interesting people.



The Jersey Driller




I saw this fellow in the port authority, boarding a bus to Jersey with no luggage except two De Walt drill cases. He is the Jersey Driller, and he drills in the darkest hour of the Jersey night (about ten thirty PM). What does he drill? Whatever he wants. He carries a wide variety of drill bits suited to all sorts of materials, such as brick walls, street signs, and police helicopters.



The Disheveled Sikh




This fellow was also in the port authority, wearing a thread-bare turban, stained pants, and a shirt that several decades ago might have had enough color to be considered plaid. He was very disheveled; his frayed shirt was incorrectly buttoned, his beard no doubt had long lost civilizations living in it, and even his turban was tangled crooked mess. He was getting on the same bus as the Jersey Driller. They probably work together, after all, it would be hard to chase those police helicopters with out the aid of the Sikh's magic carpet.



The Prophet of the Orange Juice




When the subway was delayed because one of the passengers required medical attention, I met The Prophet of the Orange Juice. He informed me, and the other lost souls aboard the train, of the blessed gospel of the holy orange juice. One need not seek the help of doctors if only one drinks plenty of orange juice. Have a cold? No need for medicine-- drink some orange juice. Sore throat? Orange shall cure thee! Gotten your arm gnawed off by a pack of rabid hyenas unleashed by a clan mad Russian Zoroastrians? No problem! Just dip your bloody stump in some orange juice, pick up the shredded remains of your arm, and press back into place firmly for several seconds. Good as new! I'm canceling my medical insurance as we speak.


Well, thats about it for my most recent visit to New York City. Stay tuned for more of whatever the hell this crap is next week, or month or something.

29th May 2004

8:53am: Mister Easter Responds, at last


All right, at long last I've finally gotten Mister Easter to respond to your questions. So, I'm going to let him take over the rest of this post.




Salutations dear readers. I must make apologies for being tardy with my response. Its been unfortunately sunny these days, which reduces my time to compose considerably. This Easter Day featured the usual events: Every year, the towns people put on a lovely play to symbolically reenact my arrival, and sub sequential slaughtering of the incumbent barbarian tyrants. (Really, the play is just a lucky fellow with a sledge hammer and a lot of chickens with the word 'Barbarian' painted on them. A highly inaccurate depiction of my actions: I've never even owned a sledge hammer. )



But, any way, I have a task. Let me attend to your questions. First, we have. First, we have Eric, who asks “What happened to the ax-wielding sidekick?” Well, Percy was not, as you suggest, “overwhelmed by the children.” However, there is a story considerable interest behind his unfortunate expiration. Allow me to relate it.



One day, late in the Spring (I believe it was year The Year One-Hundred and Thirty-Four, After Clerics' Return) whilst I was in my throne room responding to mail, torturing criminals, and attending to other important matters of state, I was interrupted by a rather uncouth and rather dead fellow. Now, I've nothing against the dead walking around, in as much as I am one of them, but I certainly don't appreciate it when they barge into my throne room unannounced, kill the people I was supposed to torture, and deliver rambling tirades to the effect that I am a “disgrace to the living dead every where”. I appreciate it even less when they they then forcibly eject me from my castle, shrink it and all of its contents one thousand fold, and encase it in a piece of amber- which, as it happens, is exactly what this one did.



Well, needless to say, as I was standing outside of a large hole in the ground where my Iverness (my castle) used to be, I was highly upset, and wished to stab the transgressor repeatedly, feed him his own thumbs, and hang him with a noose made from his own entrails. There were two problems with this plan, however: Firstly, this nasty fellow (I think his name was Garlish, or Garlisk or something like that-- lets call him Gar), was apparently powerful enough to make my castle itty-bitty and encase it in a rock, making it seem rather ill advised to go in after him (I've seen the amber trick before; there is always a little pin hole. Stick your finger in it a bit, you shrink down, and find your self inside) with out a plan. Secondly, Gar appeared to be the sort of undead who's entrails had rotted away a long time ago-- making them unsuited for hanging.



So, what does one do when it would be reckless to charge in on one's own? Why, one finds some one more foolish then one's self and convinces them to charge in. Then, you try to figure out what happened based on the condition of the returned bodies. Having realized his, I headed down into the city (that is, my city, Easterville), and to the Blue Flagon Inn.



“Charles,” I said to the Inn Keeper, “Nice to see you again. How's the wife?”



“Mister Easter!” he greeted me “What a surprise to see you here. My wife's very well, especially since you ate cur who was bothering her.”



“Well, that is my job, Charles. Any way, I'm going to need a room for the night, well more like the day actually. Also, I'm going to need an adventurer. You don't happen to know if that Eylan Eisterrian fellow is available do you?”



“Hmm... Well, you did steal that magical staff from him last year remember? Then he showed up to get it back-- buggered up your golems good. I don't think he'd be likely to come to if you asked for him.”



“Oh, do you think he'd still be angry with me over that? Well, who else is good these days?”



“Hmm... Remember that druidess you had as a guest three years ago? She's been making quite a name for herself lately. Maybe you should try her?”



“Celcia Oninchi? She does have that lovely blood drinking sword I gave her. I'll send her post immediately. Thank your for your time, you've been most helpful.”


“Oh, I'm always glad to help you Easter. You're a blessing to this city.



Well, to summarize, Miss Onichi and her companions soon arrived, and her and her companions (A young Elric Ygim among them) along with no small amount of assistance from yours truly, managed to route out this Gar-what's-it fellow. None of them even died-- it was highly impressive.



Now then, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with the demise of my axe-wielding vassal, Percy Teatherspoon? Well, once we'd defeated that noxious fellow, Onichi's party emerged along with Percy (who had been shrunk with the rest of the castle). We quickly set about trying to figure out how to unshrink the castle, when it suddenly did so of its own accord-- and very rapidly. We had to move rather rapidly to avoid being crushed by the expanding castle. Every one except Percy managed to dodge into a window or door way. As for him, well, parts of him are probably still inside one of the walls somewhere. If I ever find out where, perhaps I'll have him resurrected. Perhaps I should set the children looking for him next year in lieu of eggs.



Now then, on to the second question. Summer (sounds delicious) asks “What are the names of the other 11 vampires?”, to which my response is: There are eleven other vampires around here? I don't think the local ecosystem can support that. If you find their names, please do tell me, so that I may deal with them appropriately.



For the final question... Hmm, Summer again. Who is this Summer person?... What do you mean you won't give me her address? Ah, very well. Any way, Summer asks “Also, how did Mr. Easter get such a fine, sexy voice? Is is the blood?” Well, no, its not the blood. If you must know, I stole it from Mister Destoko. I don't think he's ever forgiven me. But that is a tale for another time-- its almost dawn, and I must rest.


Farewell for now, dear readers. We'll have to do this again sometime.




Yours Truly,

Mister Easter


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