Thursday, June 30, 2005

final final

i managed to stuff a seven-page essay (typed, single-spaced) onto a single sheet of paper in a space 8 inches by 10 inches (the size of a double-sided 5x8 note card) by reducing it to 6 point type, using a variable-width font rather than a monospace font, reducing the space between lines, using abbreviations (h8 for Henry VIII, for example), reducing the standard indent for paragraphs from 1/3" to 1/5", and using two columns rather than making it all one column (reducing the amount of space wasted at the end of paragraphs).

in 40 minutes i get to copy the essay into the bluebook. the only question in my mind now is whether or not i can write that fast.

i still have the text in the pagemaker file, so when i get home i'll post the essay (complete with abbreviations) and see if anybody care (ha!).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

history final

the prof has again been kind enough to give us the question prior to the final exam. this is a two-hour essay exam. for those of you who've been reading for a while, you'll know that i got an 81 on the first essay exam, and an 88 on the multiple guess one.

---
building the english nation & the rise of parliment

the title above captures the two major themes we have developed in our course.

using supporting historical detail, write an essay that both traces and explains, from the romans to the later stuarts, the rise of the english nation-state and monarchy; and the rise, growth, and triumph (in 1688) of parliment.

while your essay should develop major themes and ideas, be sure to also support your statements with appropriate specific facts/dates/names/ and events.
---

how's that for a fucking broad question? he's giving us a 5x8 card with notes on it, however. i'm reusing my first essay as the basis for my second, and then we'll cut and stuff onto a card. should be fun. i'll post the results and see if anybody can make heads or tails of it. (nobody will respond i know.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

exam 2

i'm a week late in telling you about it, but my history course's exam 2 was last monday, and the instructor was kind enough to return the results the next day. my grade, after the curve, was 88. so i have a firm b in this course. all that's left is the final exam, another essay. and again, the instructor has been kind enough to give us the question in advance, and this time he will permit a front and back 5x8 card (and magnifying glass). apparently it isn't unknown for students to write their essay ahead of time on the card in tiny print and simply copy it into the bluebook.

i may try that.

song of the day

big eyed fish
dave matthews band
live at folsom field
---
look at this big eyed fish swimmin' in the sea
oh, how it dreams to be a bird
swoop and dive through the breeze
so one day it caught this big old wave up onto the beach
now the fish is dead you see
cuz fish should know stay down in the sea

but oh god, under the weight of life
things seem brighter on the other side

story of this man who decided not to breathe
he turned red then blue then purple, so colorful indeed
no matter how his friends begged and pleaded
he would not concede
now the man is dead you see
cuz every man should know you got to breathe

but oh god, under the weight of life
things seem brighter on the other side
oh god, but under the weight of life
things seems much brighter on the other side

you see this monkey sittin up in his tree
until one day decided to climb down and run off to the city
but look at him now, tired and drunk
the monkey's livin' in the street
as good as dead, you see
cuz every monkey should know, stay up in your fuckin tree

but oh god, under the weight of life
things seem so much brighter on the other side
oh god, but under the weight of life
things seem much brighter on the other side
---
there's both a text and a performance copyright on this somewhere. i don't have the energy to track them down this time. sorry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

on poo

with a shout to new parents julie, julia, my georgeous and divine south african replacement wife tertia, and chris, and with all the love ever for the best parent-to-be i know (and i know it will happen!), cecily, today i offer some musings on things ... well ... scatological.

when ian was born, obviously we had a new problem to deal with: dirty diapers.

being busy, modern parents in a home with no laundry facilities, we opted for the usual paper disposable diaper model commonly available in any grocery store. after a few days of using them, however, we discovered some things.

first, contrary to what the box indicates, the size 1 diapers do not hold between 6 and 10 pounds. they are actually for babies that weigh 6 to 10 pounds, an omission that caused us much grief during our first weeks. similarly, size six diapers, which are labeled for 30+ pounds, have the same limitation. new parents beware.

second, while everybody jokes about the joys of children and projectile vomiting, nobody saw fit to warn us about projectile defication. we'd had ian home from the hospital less than a week when, much to his mother's surprise, he let loose a ... well ... spray. while the volume of that spray was small, by today's standards, it nonetheless covered everything nearby with poo.

third, it seems to me that there's no direct relationship between input and output. for example, while my children seem to go through periods when they eat very little, their poo output doesn't noticably decrease. it seems to change in consistency, compactness, and color (ranging from a green pea soup to brown rocks) with no predictable pattern, but there always seems to be a more-or-less fixed amount of it: a (achem) shitload.

i learned in my psychology class last year that sigmund freud, who assigned sexual causes and meanings to everything, divided child developmnt into five stages, the first of which everyone is familiar with: oral. this is the one where everything goes into the mouth. thus it's important, once child can grasp objects, to make sure objects in said child's grasp are safe to put in said child's mouth, causing neither choking nor splintering. the second phase is anal.

and benjamin is in the anal phase.

while it's true that some of his interest remains oral, it's also true that he's completely fixated on poo. he loves to touch it; smell it; taste it; smear it on the bed, himself, the wall next to his crib.

so with love and warning to all new parents out there as my hands still smell like bleach from last night's wall art cleaning session ... beware the backside.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

problems with apache

i found the problem with apache, and it turns out to be doglady.

doglady had installed a file sharing program on one of my computers, and incoming requests to that program were being sent through the same place web requests go through. this overloaded my web server.

in the meantime i dropped back from debian sid to sarge. i may start tracking etch on the server, but not just yet.

so anyway, the blog is back up. i apologize for the downtime.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

exam 1

the first exam in the history course has been returned. as i said, i did better than i'd feared but worse than i'd hoped: i got an 81. the next exam is monday. remember, this is a five week course, so exams come fast and furious. but at least this one is multiple guess. i'm much, much better at multiple guess. i'm so much better at multiple guess that i smoke most of them. :-)

in other news: confirming my faith in american justice, michael jackson got oj'd. i wish i had enough money to change my race. 'nuff said.

other thoughts: i've been considering trying my hand at a little adult photography. not the tasteless crap traditionally associated with porn. rather, something slightly more tasteful and appropriate for appreciation, not just masterbation. note that neither of those links are appropriate for the office or small children; you've been warned. consideration and pointers toward examples welcome. be aware, i'm not strictly interested in shooting stuff that's straight porn; rather, i'm more interested in the artistic qualities of photography, and my appreciation of the female form. (as my friend abby said, men have too much hair, they're smelly, and they're dumb.)

we haven't gone through referrals in a while, so here's a sampling.

lots (tons!) of people come from cecily's "and i wasted all that birth control." welcome aboard. we also get some from the infertile gourmet, julie's a little pregnant, and julia's uncommon misconception.

i get lots of search engine crawlers (msn, yahoo, and google), and lots of spambots. i also get searches like these:

- iq of 127
- articule about the court system (edjumakashun at werk!)
- introverted ovary? (complete with question mark)
- ivf in dallas, texas (let me point you to our doctor)
- iq of 122
- xa-speakers, a website i privately mirror
- dumbfuckistan (i live there)
- aclu commencement in minnesota
- montessori schooling negatives
- ovidril dose (consult your doctor, sweets)
- lap dance (any titty bar, an experience i highly recommend)
- iq of 111 (we get dumber every time!)
- "what do the colors of the rainbow mean? (homosexuality)" (how the fuck should i know?)
- preeclampsya (again, consult your doctor, this shit can kill)
- work the steps online (can you say "half-measures availed us nothing"?)
- community colleges in 76118 (a crappy one)
- rainbow search freedom
- costco diapers (their diaper selection is name-brand only; their formula fucking rocks)
- "magic time machine" san antonio (good for one shot only; the ugly is cool; the food sucks)
- "fuck my wife" (thanks, i have one)

also, it seems my links are being passed around in email some, because some of the referrals link back to gmail's login page. so if you're coming from gmail, or forwarding this to somebody, say something! i'll try to be better about checking for comments that make it past spam-karma but not far enough to actually show up, like cecily's and alexis's last pair, sorry.

i seem to be having trouble with apache, so if you don't get an answer, don't fret; i'm working on finding the solution. this is what you get when you use debian's sid, the "unstable" release. debian's code-names come from the movie toy story, so releases have been named such things as slink (slinkey dog), potato (mr. potato head), buzz (buzz lightyear), woody, etc., and of course sid is the child who destroyed his toys. so since debian's unstable periodically breaks important things and occasionally renders the machine totally unbootable, sid is an appropriate codename for it.

finally, much love to my wife, who doesn't use her blog but who chose to quit smoking june 10, for our anniversary (she'd previously committed to july 7, the twins' second birthday, and then june 18, her birthday). today is her first day back at work and i'm really grateful she's giving this a try. i've never smoked, but i'm told it's harder than giving up booze. if stopping smoking is harder than quitting drinking, i'm ever so grateful i never started smoking, because giving up drinking goddamned near killed my sorry white ass.

Friday, June 10, 2005

another week

gone by. this week, i took an exam in my english (not british!) history 1 class that was one of the most challenging essay exams i've ever taken. the question, asking the student to trace the evolution of the legal system of england and the centralization of the nation state from 55 b.c. to 1189 a.d., was a 55 minute exam with no notes. i did better than i'd feared, but not as well as i'd hoped. we'll get grades on monday.

the tuesday evening class, about the american criminal justice system, is being taught by a rabid republican. yeesh.

my meds continue. the doc has also offered me a sleeping pill, which i'm taking very conservatively. weight remains stable at 240.

sue has decided to quit smoking. i'm thrilled, and as i told her, i'll jump through my asshole to help her. she's being a grouch, though. can't imagine why.

the other day i bought $300 worth of meat from a door to door salesman. not something i'd ordinarily recommend, the reason i did it was because we'd bought from him before and i'd been very happy with his product. it's not cut quite as thick as i like, but that's part of the game, i guess. it filled up a freezer.

i subscribed to myself on bloglines to see how many people were subscribed. as i feared: the only people reading are the spambots; number of subscribers: 1 (me). boo hoo. oh well, when i'm a famous legal personality, you can use this to dig up the dirt.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Stupid jesus tricks

I write this waiting for my 8am history of england course to start, and having just listened to today's news report, i'm depressed.

the texas legislature meets for just 140 days every two years, and this year was under state supreme court order to come up with a constitutional way to fund texas public education.

if you haven't been following the story, right now texas school districts are funded by a combination of funds from property taxes, state supplements, and federal funding. but districts with disproportionately high tax bases were found to be spending disproportionately more money on their students (and had correspondingly better schools) in, if i recall correctly, the early 1990s. at the time, the state courts ordered the legislature to come up with something that would equalize the situation, and they came up with a funding system known as "robin hood." the literary reference is most obviously intentional.

under robin hood, rich districts send money to the state based on some student attendance formula. poor districts get that money to fund their schools. as a consequence, to provide the level of services their constituents and students have come to expect, some districts have raised their property tax rates, near or all the way to the tax cap. in texas, a state-wide property tax is unconstitutional, and in this round of litigation, the rich districts have argued that robin hood amounts to a state-wide property tax because everybody's at the same rate and local control has effectively been lost.

the rich districts won, and while an appeal is pending before the state supreme court, the current order is for the legislature to come up with something that's legal or stop funding the schools entirely beginning october 1, the start of the state's fiscal year.

last year, governor goodhair called a 30-day special session to try and straighten this mess out. (this is the same governor goodhair who gave us not one but two special sessions devoted to gerrymandering texas congressional district boundaries that did things like oust democrat martin frost in a bitter display of texas partisan politics. remember the people running to oklahoma and new mexico to keep a quorum from forming? yes, that governor goodhair.) the 30-day school session ended without any progress.

so now you know the background.

so everybody went to austin, fresh off the november elections, promising to reform the way texas public schools are funded.

they failed.

instead, we got right-wing fundamentalist bullshit for our tax money.

Yesterday governor goodhair made an appearance at one of those protestant evangelical schools (on a sunday, no less) in fort worth for a bill signing. After a speech liberally peppered with religious references, he signed two bills near and dear to every texas jesus-freak bent on imposing their brand of morality on the rest of us.

The first was a texas constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage. While largely symbolic because it must be approved by voters (where it will sail through with, I predict, something approaching 80% approval), this blatant sop to the right simply proves again that texas remains, at least politically, a staunch part of the backward sheep-fucking old south. Remember that this is a place where it's illegal to sell even one, or posess more than six dildos (go to a sex toy shop, most of which have been pushed out of city limits, and you'll see stickers on them that say things like "for massage of upper extremities only"), and church-based blue laws are still in effect. For example, it is illegal to sell cars on one day of the week (so for all practical purposes, that means sunday), and many counties are dry, where it is illegal to sell alcohol. The theory is that prohibiting alcohol sales reduces crime and alcoholism. The reality is that people just cross county lines to get what they want.

Remember also that the texas constitution is the last reconstruction-era constitution left in the united states, and it has more amendments tacked onto it than any other state except (i think) alabama. You check it out of the library as a two-volume set, mostly because you don't want to have to buy a new one every two years after the legislature again tries to fix what's wrong with the constitution's micromanagement of state government.

This bullshit amendment, like all the others of its kind (with the exception of the just-narrowly-defeated one in california that would have defined marriage as between two people, rather than a man and a woman) is nothing more than a homophobic slap at honest people who live differently than us. It is absolutely no different than anti-misogyny laws, which forbid interracial marriage. While interracial marriage still sometimes raises eyebrows, it is legal everywhere. Who I fuck and how in the what's-left-of-privacy in my home has zero effect on the "moral fiber of the nation." what is that anyway?

in texas in 2002, the state recorded 84,394 divorces, affecting 67,548 children. spending tons of money on a prohibit-gay-marriage propaganda election won't change that.

the other bill that governor goodhair signed during his appearance at the evangelical jesus-freak church was the late-term abortion restriction and parental consent (not notification) bill that julia so bravely testified against.

In a state that already has so few late-term abortion providers you can count them on one hand with fingers left over anyway, it is now more difficult for women like julia and cecily to get the medical care they need, without doing anything that would actually prevent the use of abortion as a means of birth control.

mine is an unscientific study, but in my years as a friend of bill i've met, talked to, and shared with, many women who've had abortions.

i've never once come across one who'd had an abortion purely for convenience. it was always a heart-wrenching decision for each and every one of them, and many of these women still live with the emotional scars of their choices 20 and 30 and 40 years later. in discussions on moral inventories where it's come up in open meetings (and it does occasionally), this is a recurring theme for women who've had "elective" abortions, often leading to marking entries on their 9th step lists in recognition. you don't have to tell me that there's an effect.

there are some things i really hate about living in texas. living in a state filled with people who elect bigots and homophobes to our legislature is one of them.

Friday, June 3, 2005

one week down

i've been remiss in writing about school because, frankly, i've been busy.

i really like it.

it's nice to go to a place that isn't technologically backwards. everywhere on campus i've been, there has been at least some facility for students with laptops. fully a quarter of the students i see at computers are on their own laptops. in the library the school provides tons of them as well, and each student even gets a 100 meg share out there in etherspace to store their stuff on. if you need it, you can even download and install a copy of norton antivirus, legally licensed to the school, and use it for as long as you're a student. if you want a copy of redhat latest and greatest, that's mirrored and supported as well (to a certain extent).

the libraries are interesting. while the 3rd and 5th floors of the main library currently have no bathrooms, they do have study areas and are covered with good 802.11b/g signal. electrical outlets are a little lacking, but that's not a huge deal if you simply look around some.

the history class is interesting. i'm taking english history i, prehistory to 1688. it's moving fast but i find the subject something i've wanted to study for a while. the instructor is at least decent in lecturer, and the recordings i'm doing are turning out okay.

i'm also taking a criminal justice class, and we'll see how it turns out. the instructor may have a very serious republican bent, something which will irritate me to no end. but at least what he said was thought-provoking. i don't know if he's right (in fact in some respects i doubt he is), but at least what he had to say was worth thinking about.