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Friday the 13th, again

Today is notoriously unlucky, but so far it’s been pretty good, all in all. I was supposed to fly out of SeaTac tonight for Cancun, but I pushed that date back to Sunday so that I could leave the same day as Marta. At least now, if I get into a horrible plane crash (knock! knock!) no one will blame it on some disastrous intersection of the sixth prime and the sixth day of the week. I have a bulleted synopsis of the week’s niceties over which you can drool, but before that I must make the following urgent announcement: Marta is having a going-away party tonight at her house (5220 20th Ave NE) starting at the ludicrous hour of eight and going until The Man shuts it down for excessive rocking. Dash and Jared and their band will be putting on a live show early in the evening, and we’ll be drinking and broin’ down all night. A limited amount of alcohol will be on hand, since it’s officially BYOB, but if you wear tights (this one’s theme) you get a free beer. Think about how much you like beer; think about how much you dislike tights; figure out if it’s worth it to you. Without further ado…

  • On Tuesday I had another article in The Daily. Probably someone liked it, but I can’t shake the feeling that the general quality of my writing has been rushing downhill of late. The short rationale is that my plate is overfull – too many things to do, too many people to see, too many countries to visit, too many things on my mind to be an effective writer. My presence in the Daily so far this quarter was near unassailable through my snowboarding article, but after that each article falls in my esteem in discrete notches, like you’d carve on a bedpost for obvious reasons. The obvious question – am I washed up? – absolutely reeks of melodrama, and the answer is probably “no”; I’m just in a slump. I hope to turn that trend around with a good essay on everyone’s favorite element, fire, that will run while I’m in Mexico. But only time will tell.
  • Wednesday I had as harrowing a morning as any I’ve ever known. The night before, I was feverishly working my CSE 451 group to write and test a multi-threaded web server, and Wednesday I had to put everyone’s pieces of analysis and write-up together into one coherent whole. The CSE department provides a tool for electronic turn-in of projects like this, and it automatically stops working after the deadline. I managed to break my Makefile seven minutes before crunch time, and frantically searched Google for ways to make it work again. Then, as lecture began, I settled down to write that week’s written homework assignment, then rushed to Mary Gates to turn it and the write-up in. I made it, but just barely. It was awful, but it was also the last deadline I have before leaving the country; and what’s more, I aced the hell out of the midterm (third-highest in class), which hardly ever happens in my CS classes. I left the classroom in a much more relaxed state than I had entered it.
  • Yesterday I “interviewed” for my study abroad program. I use quotes because their idea of an interview is much more like a “conversation”; the first question he had for me was, “So, you’re going to Austria?” Piece of cake. Nathan told me not to worry about it – maybe I should start listening to him.
  • The weather has been beyond gorgeous lately, much warmer and clearer than Washingtonians have any right to expect in February. Campus has witnessed a proliferation of tank-tops and shorts, as well as people in this attire stretched out on their backs with their eyes closed on the UW’s grassier areas. For my part, I read a couple dozen pages of Dickens on the HUB lawn before the above interview, and it was nice. I can’t remember the last time it was warm in this state.
  • Last night Marta and I had a bonfire with her friend Rosie on a private beach in Ballard. We built it at the base of the seawall, directly underneath a set of train tracks. Four or five trains passed while we there, and counting their cars in the flickering firelight was our chief occupation of the evening. Trains are kind of awe-inspiring: you could hear one’s approach from Edmonds; their passage literally shakes the ground; the large ones sweep the air with them as they rush past, and made the fire gush sparks in the direction of their travel. According to Rosie and a few of her friends that joined us, at least one high school kid dies on those same tracks every year – playing chicken with the trains, trying to grab them, crossing the tracks in front of them. Alcohol and testosterone is always a dangerous combination. Just imagining the physics behind getting hit by a train makes my testicles shrink. The train is going around 60 mph, and its mass is almost uncountably large – that’s a lot of momentum. By the second law of motion, when two objects collide, the amount of momentum gained by one is exactly equal to that lost by the other. That means that the tiniest loss of speed – like, .00001 mph – the train experiences when it hits you with the cow-catcher, you – at 100Kg to the train’s several million – gain one-million-fold. One of Rosie’s friends just barely caught his arm on a boxcar and was thrown over 60 feet. Scary.
  • The ACM, essentially the student body club of CS, throws parties for its members every so often. While I was busy thinking about trains, Kelly and the rest of the “cool kids” in CS were in the beer garden at ACM Winterfest, programming drinking games on a laptop with Ruby. The first version just displayed a random number of sips when you hit enter, and later iterations would randomly display someone’s name and a random message, like “Kelly: make the person to your right drink 5” or whatever. I really wish I would have remembered to attend. Sigh.
  • Today I filled out the paperwork to add English as a major, so in a matter of days it will be official. On the way to the CS advising office, I got held up by an EE kegger being held in the Microsoft Atrium (I’m not a sell-out, that’s what it’s called). Besides the keg, they had an array of Valentine’s Day sweet, to which I helped myself. Like I said, not a bad day on the whole.
  • Kelly just stopped into the office and informed me that there will not be a band at the party. If you’re coming already and counting on there being one, you’re going to be disappointed. Blame Dash and Jared, if you need to blame someone. You’d better be there regardless.

    Posted in Musings.


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