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# Reasons
One of the Stoic's arguments^[A good example is in the letter, ["On the Shortness of Life"](!Wikipedia "De Brevitate Vitae (Seneca)") by the Roman [Stoic](!Wikipedia) [Seneca](!Wikipedia), if my memory does not deceive me.] was that people feared some things as great evils, but when they actually suffered them, they found they were not so unbearable as they thought (this is consonant with modern research on happiness after being a quadriplegic and a lottery winner - both groups are about as happy as the average person[^happiness]); one of his examples was homelessness. Homelessness has long been one of my own fears.
Or maybe I should put it as an experiment to find out what I truly want. When I first watched some _Babylon 5_, the [Shadow Question](!Wikipedia "Shadow (Babylon 5)") struck me as juvenile. 'What do you want?' An easy question, one might think. One knows what one wants, or one pursues money until one does know what one wants and then one uses all the money in pursuit thereof. But it hasn't worked like that for me. I can't simply pursue money; I am paralyzed. I couldn't whole-heartedly try to make a career in business or something unless that was what I genuinely wanted, like when I was younger, I couldn't learn something unless I was genuinely interested. The worst part is, all my studying in philosophy and psychology and economics has furnished me with a mental toolkit of techniques to rationally achieve my desires - but I seem to have no desires!
> 'What do you want?'
Maybe it is as simple as food. If it is food, then a diet repeated every day and optimized for cost, a diet devoid of any tasty food or accustomed beverage like my oolong tea or hot chocolate, should reveal it. But the diet hasn't been a torment to me. So it seems I do not want food.
> 'What do you want?'
Maybe it is martial arts. This is the opposite track - I lacked any regular Taekwondo practice and couldn't even bring myself to exercise at home. So instead of removing food and seeing whether I become less happy, I will add martial arts and see whether I become happier. But while I am pleased I am exercising more, it does not seem to have made much of a difference. So it would seem that Taekwondo is not the way.
> 'What do you want?'
Maybe it is social intercourse. As much time as I spend around other people in SBU, I am even lonelier than I was before, since as well as my native reticence, I fear to explain my situation to others. (It would be easy for an antagonistic person to attack me indirectly.) Days pass before I speak to another person. And I do not even have the limited substitutes available online, since I lack Internet access. But this does not seem to bother me terribly much; I was not extremely happy to be home and talking to people on Sunday, nor did Go club on Thursday make me deliriously happy. So that would seem to not be it either.
> 'What do you want?'
I don't know.
# Escape
Only an idiot would court homelessness without some sort of long term escape plan. My escape plan is to [teach English](!Wikipedia "English as a second language") in [South Korea](!Wikipedia); optimistically, I could hope to profit $10-20000 a year, and after 2 years, would have enough money to do *something* else.
(I'm currently thinking about going back to SBU for a double bachelors in computer science and statistics, although I'm not sure I want to make a career out of them. However, SBU ran me ~$5000 annually, and with my BA I presume I could do the double major in 3 years, requiring ~$15000 even with tuition increases.)
Pretty much the only 2 reasons I didn't simply find a job in South Korea starting around December 2010 or January 2011 is that I have taught myself shamefully little Korean so far, and visa issues. Americans need:
1. notarized & apostilled college diploma
2. certified/apostilled FBI criminal background check
I ordered both in August 2010, after a few weeks of reading through countless expat discussions; the diploma took the promised 4-6 weeks but did ultimately arrive by October 18, but the FBI background check blew right through August, September, and only arrived at the tail end of October - minus a crucial stamp. The State Department would not certify/apostille it without said stamps, nor would the FBI take the check back and redo it, so I had to be fingerprinted again and send off a completely new request!
Judging from past performance, I can't expect it to arrive before January 2011, and that is being optimistic. Sometime in February 2011 is being realistic, since I have no idea how long it will take the State Department to process its end of the certification. The FBI background check is mandatory, and I can't do much until it comes, so I haven't even bothered to finish the diploma part.
So, my homelessness could last as long as 4 months (November, December, January, February). This is enough time to suffer quite a bit, but also enough time to accomplish quite a bit if I do not waste my time.
# Money
Zero debt; roughly $2625 in cash; $275 in my [Intrade](Prediction Markets#Intrade) account. The Intrade money is best left alone as it would take a long time to withdraw & access, and that money is better used trying to earn more money on Intrade^[My lifetime trading record is pretty good, so I *don't* expect to suddenly lose it all. But that's also another reason to not count it.]
Plane ticket to South Korea is roughly $1000 and expats recommend at least $500 for the first month's expenses (before one is paid), so let's say that $1500 is reserved inviolate for that purpose, only to be used in an emergency, leaving just $1300.
I figure that I will need to gas up every 2 weeks at $20 each, or $10 a week, or $1.40 a day; if I can [successfully](#Food) eat only $1 of food a day, then total daily expenses is $2.40, or $72 a month. Thus, if everything went right, I have enough money for ~16 months. I don't, of course; additional costs will eat up money. But it's a good start.
# Clothing
I already own a full set. Nor is clothing very expensive at the local _[Good Will](!Wikipedia)_ store.
Cleaning my clothes is another issue; I figure I will use a laundromat of some sort, either at SBU or a commercial one nearby. As shirts and especially pants can be worn multiple days before cleaning is needed, I will not need to do laundry for weeks; researching laundromats is thus a low priority compared to everything else. It can be postponed.
Cleaning *oneself* cannot be postponed, however. I do not want to stand out or draw attention; smelling and looking as if I haven't showered in a month will attract attention even on the geekiest & smelliest campuses. Strategies like shaving myself bald can allow greater intervals between showers, but the problem is still acute.
Fortunately, gyms usually have showers, and college campuses usually have gyms. I can shower every day with no one the wiser. SBU, as a state school, doesn't have especially good athletic facilities, nor does it have money to hire students to check IDs[^id]. So there is no bar whatsoever.
# Food
A good goal for food expenditures is that we spend no more than $1 or $2 a day. This is a tight constraint that doesn't allow for any luxuries or distractions, but not so tight that it could only be accomplished by an industrial giant or buying in impossible bulk. (The urge to optimize food spending seems to appeal to geeks. A recent example: ["Eating Healthily for $3 a Day"]( and the [endless comments](
Before we look at specific items or numbers, we can come up with general principles about what makes a food product cheap.
It should have:
1. little resource consumption
2. little human processing
3. little mechanical processing
4. little environmental preconditions
The first is very abstract. Biology & ecology tell us that resources are always limited, and so the less of these resources our foodstuff requires, the cheaper it can be produced. For example, one major limited resource is solar energy. Unsurprisingly, energy is lost as it gets shuffled around, so we want to consume as close to the origin as possible - the plants themselves. If the plants are fed to animals, then the biology rule of thumb is that more than 90% of the energy will be lost in some way. So we will be mostly vegetarian. (90% will be lost when we humans eat the plants or animals, of course, but it's much better to lose 90% of 100% than to lose 90% of 90% of 100%.)
The second is a major cost factor given the high price of human labor in Western First World countries. Perhaps if we were in Africa, we could simply eat at restaurants or street vendor stalls^[A Canadian acquaintance of mine has lived, and plans to live again, in Thailand and used what he calls the '120 [baht](!Wikipedia) diet' - feed himself on $4 of street food a day.], but in America, restaurants - even fast food chains like McDonald's which ruthlessly slash costs of all kinds - cost much more than preparing the food yourself^[This does include the [opportunity cost](!Wikipedia) of spending an hour on shopping and the preparations.]. The fewer humans involved, the cheaper. Indeed, a key factor that fast food chains can be so surprisingly cheap is that most of the food is not actually prepared on-site but has been pre-cooked in the original factory, and the staff is really just re-heating the food. So, hand-baked cookies are right out.
The third is akin to the second, but the costs aren't so extreme. Chopped carrots will cost you several times (>100%) the original carrots' cost at a restaurant, but if you are choosing between a bag of chopped carrots and a bunch of carrots at the supermarket, the increase might only be 50% or so. Machine labor is far cheaper than human labor - but it still isn't free.
Number 4 is just the observation that sensitive foodstuffs that go bad quickly or must be kept cold are more expensive because they are more expensive to transport and store. Milk, for example, is more expensive than one might expect because even pasteurized it needs to be sold within a few weeks and must never be allowed above, say, 40 degree Fahrenheit. Certainly it cannot be cavalierly stored at room temperature for a few months. Besides the cost implications, a homeless person isn't very likely to be carting around a refrigerator. So if it can't be stored at room temperature, then it probably isn't a good idea.
What do these 4 criteria point to? Something that is vegetable, rather than animal; something that is raw and homogeneous; something that is minimally changed from off the plant; and something that is not refrigerated.
The obvious foodstuffs are your classic grains: wheat, barley, rye, oatmeal, rice, corn, etc. We might discard barley & rye for being relatively rare, and might discard corn for not usually being sold in bulk to consumers (when was the last time you bought a sack of cornmeal as opposed to a few ears of corn?), and might also discard rice for being inedible raw and requiring boiling. That left me with oatmeal and wheat. Wheat is reasonably available as a flour, but how does one eat a flour? Oatmeal, on the other hand, is available as individual oats, and are perfectly edible dry.
So oatmeal it is. The price isn't too bad either. You can easily find it at supermarkets in small quantities. To take one example, I bought 42oz at $2.49, or $0.96/lb; the nutritional label claims 30 servings per container (1.4oz per serving) at 150 calories a serving, so 10 servings (14oz, 1/3 the container, or $0.83) gets one to 1500 calories - we're most of the way to our daily 2000 calories and have 20 cents left. More realistically, we'll eat 5 servings or $0.42.
We might next look for not carbohydrates but protein. Meat is still too expensive and hard to prepare, but we can adopt the usual vegetarian strategy of eating nuts & beans.
Oddly enough, dry beans are quite expensive. Goya prices run like $4.52/lb for [quinoa](!Wikipedia), $2.50/lb for fava beans, $1.69/lb for red beans and $1.50/lb for black beans. The cans of refried beans claims to be 1 pound each and cost $1.39; half a can is pretty filling and costs $0.70 (280 calories, 18g protein.)
Between the refried beans and oatmeal, we have largely covered our food needs at $0.70 + $0.42 or $1.11. This is unsatisfactory as it costs more than a dollar and doesn't cover the food pyramid, but it's a good start considering how we began with vague _a priori_ considerations and what I could find on grocery store shelves.
With the protein and carbohydrates covered, one naturally wonders where one can get dairy and vegetables or fruit. That is a good question. I don't know. It is possible that there just aren't cheap vegetables & fruits out there compared to grains (this could be due to grains being intrinsically cheaper to produce or to being subsidized by governments to a much greater extent than vegetables & fruits etc.). Carrots turn out to be pretty nutritious and easily stored; you don't need to peel them, I found, if you scrub them a little in water. (I discovered much later that oatmeal & carrots is a common grad school diet, although I did not think to [apply linear programming & optimize the ratios](
My first try was with New York cheddar cheese. 2 blocks of 8 oz for $4, or $4/lb. 1720 calories in total, so I split it into tenths at 170 calories each (40 cents a day). This made a good break from the oatmeal, but wasn't very satisfactory - $1.11 + $0.40 = $1.51.
I ran out of that by Sunday, so they didn't even last 10 days. Mozzarella was on sale at $1/lb, which is far better. Again I bought 2 and split them into 10 chunks. At 5 chunks for each mozzarella, that works out to 240 calories (and 6g protein) per chunk.
# Water
Water is trivially solved. Public facilities abound with water fountains and bathrooms that one can drink from or fill up a water bottle within. And the nice think about drinking even when you are not thirsty is that human urine is (usually) sterile and easily disposed of anywhere (such as behind a tree).
# Shelter
The greatest challenge bar none, and of pressing importance with the coming of winter. Winter on Long Island is moderate compared to upstate New York, but it is still cold enough that one could freeze to death over night if one is not careful. Shelter also encompasses little things like 'not being arrested'^[This is a major consideration, since the FBI background check necessary for a Korean teaching visa doesn't cover merely convictions, but arrest as well, and given that South Korea is circa 2011 a buyer's market, a clean rap sheet can be considered a prerequisite.].
The principal shelter would be, of course, my car. I've already spent a good deal of time sleeping in its trunk, and know that it *can* be done. The sleep may not be restful, there may be cramps in your legs, but it can be done. I also know that it should be possible to survive in the trunk in the depths of winters, because I have camped out in [Boy Scouts](!Wikipedia) on bitter nights with snow on the ground in tents & sleeping bags, and the tents offer even less protection than the trunk. I still have the sleeping bag in question, so that is always an option.
Sleeping in one's car is difficult because you have worry about being interrupted, harassed, or maybe arrested (for loitering or whatever the cop feels like). I lessen the risk by only going to sleep late at night, after 11 PM and ideally after midnight; there are fewer cops on the beat, fewer prying eyes, and fewer who wish to stay awake & act against you. Secondly, one avoids commercial areas. They are well-lit, and may have nightwatch. In residential areas, corners are good targets because it introduces ambiguity: neither set of residents knows for certain that you are a stranger (perhaps you are sleeping over at the other!) and so they will not act just on the presence of your car. As long as you can get into the trunk with no one noticing and don't move around too much, you are safe. (Once you've hopped out and are driving away, what are they going to do?)
An alternative for me is the local community pool. Having worked nightwatch there, I am familiar with its lack of security. The town foolishly chose to fill the fences with green material, rendering any intruders nearly invisible; the office windows are not properly secured, so one could push in the air conditioner and enter; the ticket booth is too large for its purpose and has the shoddiest possible lock which can be opened merely with a car key; at multiple places on the dark hidden borders with the copse of trees, one could scale the fence; and the electricity to the booth wasn't even shut off.
So, I cannot be spotted sleeping in my sleeping bag in the ticket booth, the booth is air-tight (intended to allow air conditioning during hot summer days), has power for my laptop or tea kettle or space heater (borrowable from the office), and there are unobserved entrances & exits.
Why bother with sleeping in the car trunk then? Well, the town is constructing an office very near by, and this leads to a lot of morning traffic. The Cablevision WiFi I was counting on no longer seems to work with my laptop (despite the fact that it was a few months ago!). Climbing the fence turns out to be more difficult to do on a regular basis than I had predicted. And in general I feel less bad sleeping in my car than breaking & entering.
# Day 1
November 2nd
In the morning, I drive to King Kullen and do my grocery shopping: a box of oatmeal, 2 cans of refried beans, and 2 blocks of cheese. Yu yum. At South P lot, I park & hop on the bus. I look just like any other student, even if I am carrying a rather full messenger bag (laptop) and small canvas tote bag (Taekwondo uniform, toiletry kit). Commuter Association is advertising a free light breakfast (small bagels and muffins), which I take advantage of while I read the last copy of the _New York Times_ (NYT). Then I head to the gym, where I discover that the dance studio has been closed and there's a sign that the next Taekwondo class has been canceled. Disappointed, I head to the elevated track and jog 7 laps. Apparently 7.3 laps makes a mile. I then head to the indoor squash ball rooms, one of which was converted to a room with a weight bag and wrestling mats. I stretch, practice my punches, meditate, and stop when I notice my punches have worn away much of the skin on my knuckles and I am bleeding. (I had thought the canvas bag was simply a bit rough.) Uncertain of myself, I don't try to take a shower.
Spend the rest of day in the library on the 4th floor, reading various papers and books that I've downloaded. Spend a good deal of time typing up my reading list - a clipboard of lined paper with 80 columns of book titles I have kept since I was 11. I manage to type a good chunk of it. I don't have much else to do; contrary to my weak expectations, there are no open WiFi connections around, and I don't yet have a NetID user/password. (There are open terminals in the library I use to check my email, but I don't especially trust them and can't do very much on them.) I board the last bus back to the South P lot at 10:10 PM, rather than staying at the library until closing time - my calves and feet are killing me after such unusual exercise.
Driving back to the community pool per my original plan, I spend an hour or two slowly walking around, verifying that the construction site has no watchmen and that the police will not hassle me. They barely even drive by (consistent with my past few years as nightwatchman). I discover that the hole under the fence has been filled, the fence is slick with dew, and my hiking boots are poor for climbing a chain link fence. Giving up for the night, I toss over my sleeping bag in its discreet dark green bag, and sleep in my trunk. I then discover that the blankets are not very warm, but eventually find an accommodation and sleep until morning.
# Day 2
November 3rd
I visit the Commuter Association again. No breakfast, and I have to make do with a _USA Today_. (In retrospect, I should've just gone to the library reading room to read their NYT.) The dance studio is still closed. This time I manage to jog 8 laps, and I favor my knuckles by working on palm strikes and elbow strikes instead. I take a shower, and it goes well. SBU (unlike Yawgoog) has heard of heated water. The public nakedness bothers me less than I had expected.
I again spend the day on the 4th floor, although it is poorly placed with respect to the sun. I finish up overdue Mnemosyne [flashcard reviews](Spaced repetition), and devote even more time to typing up the book list. Interspersed with random reading, this uses up most of the day, but I do manage to finish. I finally have my reading list in a nicely formatted digital form, which lets me weed out a few dozen duplicates and already read books (and delete the original scanned copy, saving a few hundred megabytes, which makes backups easier). I fix a number of other issues (Yi's incremental reading mode not working, my `archiver` program not catching fatal exceptions and sleeping) but nothing of major importance.
I drive back to the pool and give WiFi there another shot. No dice. There are 3 WiFi hotspots advertised as public, and not a *single* one will let me in! I had entertained the idea that my operating system (Ubuntu) might be at fault, and this makes me even more suspicious. WiFi was working at least partially up until November 2nd, since that was how I was browsing at home. Naturally I have been keeping a list of things I want to do online; when it gets long enough I may drive back home and take care of them.
Abandoning WiFi and the laptop, I consider sleeping at the pool booth. I'm still a little chary of spending too much time there even though I'm certain I would get away with it, so I climb in (having switched to my sneakers) and retrieve my sleeping bag. The sleeping bag turns out to work very well with the trunk and vindicates my belief that it could get me through the coldest winter nights - I am positively too hot at some points.
# Day 3
November 4th
It is quite a rainy day when I wake up. Good news - no one in their right mind would be outside to observe me bursting out of my car like the face-hugger in _Alien_.
I am even more fortunate than I thought: there is one NYT left at the lounge; I read it and learn that California's [Proposition 19](!Wikipedia "California Proposition 19 (2010)") failed. This was exactly as I had predicted, and I had already made some money ($25) betting on its demise (see [Prediction markets](Prediction markets#my-intrade-trading)); on the other hand, if I had tolerated additional risk and waited until the election was over, I would have made an additional $25. It occurs to me that $25 is far more than I've had to expend over the past 3 days; it would be very amusing if I could consistently make that much each month since then I could truthfully describe myself as a professional gambler!
I limp to the gym. The barefoot jogging has apparently caused a nasty bruise and cut on my right foot. Favoring it, I manage only the 8 laps of yesterday. I don't do any better at the punching bag (the same number of palm strikes, a few hundred front snap kicks, light stretching, and meditation). Showering goes fine, although I forgot to pack my razors in my bag. (I am not personally fond of being clean-shaven, but everyone seems to disagree with me that I look better with a light beard, and beards & stubble are unfortunately associated with being homeless. I am, of course, but I wish to conform to the stereotype as little as possible.) I am a little bothered when the SBU Taekwondo teacher, Xristos Gaglias, recognizes me in the locker room as I apply deodorant and asks why I am back (since I was supposed to have graduated), but fortunately he accepts my vague answers about things not going well. I can probably expect more questions at the next Taekwondo class on 15 November (8 November having been canceled, remember).
I don't really know whether to explain fully or apply my best equivocation and leave him with a false impression; I get the feeling he'd probably tell me to stop being stupid and pretending this is an adventure, find even the crappiest job, and go back home. He might be right, but I am finding this to be a pretty productive period, between the quasi-public[^public] nature of working in the library and the relatively novel and academic surroundings. I also am so far sticking to my athletic plan (to exercise every day and slowly ramp up), which I would not have done before. I know precisely why I would not be able to do it before: my miserly nature means that I would seize as an excuse the time of the commute and the expense of gasoline, even if those worked out to be far less than the value of exercise. But since my homeless plan entails spending most of the day at SBU *anyway*, I am able to make myself exercise.
So I don't intend to abort unless something bad happens, or I somehow run out of either willpower or things to do. (And the third is very unlikely, given the length of my [TODO]() and the number of PDFs I have to read or intensively study as the case may be.)
After gym, I tried out the 2nd floor of the library. Perhaps it was the continuing rain, but it seemed to be even less populated than the 4th floor. I spend most of the afternoon hammering away at [Gitit](, [Hakyll](, and [filestore](, trying to get a working RSS feed for my [wiki]( After several hours of false starts, tedious stepping through functions, and puzzlement, I finally have written the glue code necessary to get the existing Gitit RSS code to run in a Hakyll script, and also discovered & fixed a major crashing bug in my part of filestore, the [Darcs]( code.
This takes so long that I wonder if my impoverished diet has affected my brain, so I run through several rotation exercises to test myself; but my scores are within 5% of the usual scores. Strange. I really ought to do some [n-backing](DNB FAQ) to get a better picture of things. (I've been on a multi-week break, as my free time was eaten up by preparing for homelessness and turning all my [supplements](Nootropics) into capsules.)
I spend a chunk of the evening turning my [ICON 2010]() memories into a formatted page, and more on this page; then I borrow a book on [Frank Herbert](!Wikipedia)'s fiction to read before Go club began at 7 PM. I finished it quickly enough that Go club hadn't yet started, so I took an hour to add daily entries (including this one) and other material.
I watched one game finish when I joined at 8 PM, and then started a very long one of my own. We finished around 10:30. At around 10 I had made a one-move mistake and lost a large group of stones. The final score was not so lopsided that I could definitely trace my defeat to that loss, but it would have been a very close game otherwise. Oh well.
Of course, the last bus to the parking lot ran at around 10:15, so I had to hoof it back to the parking lot. With no time constraints and not feeling very sleepy at all, I killed an hour in the library reading room with the latest [_Discover_](!Wikipedia "Discover (magazine)") and [_Economist_](!Wikipedia "The Economist").
By the time I made it back, it was midnight. I noticed there were several score cars left, and pondered again just sleeping there. Hedging my bets, I waited in my car for an hour, eating my refried beans and oatmeal (they go well together) and watching a surprising number of cars come and go. I exited to throw away my empty can, when I noticed a white personal car far away in the corner seemed to have a stripe painted on it - was a campus police car. Even as I walked back to my car, it slowly drove down the main aisle to the street exit, but it seemed to pull over and wait. Naturally, I was spooked by this. Was the policeman waiting for me to leave? I had planned to pull out and park behind the bus station in the middle of the lot, blocking the view of my car from most of the area and especially the bus depot in the opposite corner, but that was no good if the policeman had memorized the basic features of my car.
Spooked, as I said, I gave up on plans for sleeping there. On my way out, I didn't seem to see the policeman anywhere. So perhaps it was a false alarm. As I was about to turn on Nicolls, I suddenly thought to myself that the other commuter parking lot by the railroad was even more likely to have lots of cars abandoned overnight and, being on hilly terrain, was much more surreptitious. Why didn't I head over to the far entrance and try my luck there, rather than sleep on the same road by the pool 4 nights running?
In the heavy fog, I was distracted and made the wrong turn, into the second/middle entrance, rather than the third I had planned. I thought I had caught the yellow turn signal, but suddenly police sirens sprang up behind me, and even more suddenly I realized this was the wrong entrance and the main entrance had a guard on duty. This night was not going well!
It was the usual deal - license, registration, and insurance. As already mentioned, my license & insurance were good, and I *thought* the registration was fine as well, since Susan had said she renewed it while I was away. But no! The license was expired! And it wasn't that the sticker simply hadn't been put on, it was that it hadn't been renewed at all, according to the policeman's computer. It was surprisingly humiliating sitting there as all the other student cars went into SBU; from their faces I could tell that most of them thought that I had been pulled over because I was drunk or high. He didn't ask as many questions as I thought he would (just where was I coming from), although one would expect him to ask where I was going to (I was vacillating between saying I was going to hang out with another student and saying I was an insomniac who wanted to use the track for a few hours). So I got a ticket for that. I couldn't turn around, of course, so I had to pass through the checkpoint.
Trying to look on the bright side, I can see these good points:
1. I was not arrested or at risk of arrest because it was only a civil traffic violation
2. The fine is mostly Susan's fault
This is because I trusted her assurance (I knew perfectly well my registration had expired while I was away); it was only partially my fault for presumably running the light and not checking the registration.
3. The policeman didn't fine me for my cracked windshield, although he could have
4. The policeman didn't question me in detail
I discovered the next day that the track had been completely torn up and was being replaced; a major hole in that cover story.
5. The SBU guard only looked at my ID
That is, she did not scan my ID, which would have revealed that it was expired.
Stressed out by the whole experience and resolving to write a nasty email to Susan, I continued with the plan. The third entrance turned out to be locked; I had suspected as much. The railroad parking lot was pleasing full of cars, and I backed into a spot directly under a light. (My cunning plan, such as it was, theorized that the light leaking into my compartment would make it easier for me to see the shadows of anyone investigating my car, and also reduce suspicion of my car in the first place.)
Finally, something went right. There was clearly no one around. I slipped into my trunk, and quickly fell asleep. (It was a warm night, and a long day.)
# Day 4
5 November.
I was woken up by a train roaring pass at 6 AM, but chose to drowse until 9 AM or so. I had little problem getting out; it wasn't raining, but drizzling. Immediately I reaped the benefit of not having to drive to SBU, and could walk to the gym quite easily. (If the Commuter Association didn't have breakfasts on Wednesday and Thursday, then they certainly weren't going to have one on Friday, a day which might as well be part of the weekend. And I could read the NYT later.)
Exercising at the gym was even rougher than yesterday. My feet still haven't really recovered. I interspersed 20 sit-ups and 10 push-ups between each lap to give my feet time to recover, but could only do 7 laps (and the cool down). I limped to the exercise room only to find 2 guys doing what looked like boxing training. I didn't feel like intruding and hadn't planned to do very much, so I called it a day and took a shower (remembering this time to shave).
To distract myself from the pain of my feet (I rubbed a quarter-sized chunk of my left foot raw today), I thought while jogging about some athletic goals. Aiming for a previous level of fitness seemed like a doable goal by definition, so I resolved to by New Year's Day be able to:
1. jog 2 miles (14.5 laps; currently can do 8)
2. do 75 push-ups (can do 40)
3. do 160 sit-ups (can do 100)
4. do 100 clean head-high roundhouse kicks (not flexible enough to do any)
This resolution will also serve as an explanation for Gaglias if he wonders why I am in the gym every day.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I think I will skip the jogging entirely. This doesn't seem to be working out. I'll give my feet a break or 2 or 3 days, and then resume jogging; if this happens again, I'll stop jogging barefoot entirely. I'll spend the time stretching. Stretching is an incremental process, so the earlier I start the better.
As usual, I hobbled to the library; today I decided to try the carrels on the 3rd floor. There's a lot more traffic on the 3rd floor since it's the entrance to all the stacks (it's a very odd physical layout), but the carrels have much nicer cushioned seats.
Besides the usual Mnemosyne review, I decided to make some progress on turning my body language textbooks into flashcard questions and extract all their pictures; I wrote the rough draft of a short analysis essay of a song & scene in _[End of Evangelion](!Wikipedia)_ (very incomplete as I need many online resources for it; I also read a few chunks of _Re-Take_ since I mentioned it in a footnote); and expanded my [site description page]( to explain my approach & goals. I also read _Masters of Doom_ and began reading _What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy_; the latter was on my [book list](Book reading list), but for some reason the former wasn't (though I feel sure it was there, and I haven't read it before). The library closes early on Fridays; I moved down to the Commuter Lounge (different from the Commuter Association; the lounge is in the library, the Association in the SAC), and I began the tedious typing up of Presocratic philosophy quotes for a planned essay.
The rest of the night passed normally.
# Day 5
6 November
I oversleep to 9 AM because I had taken 2 of my sleep pills rather than 1; I considered sleeping in a reward for typing up all the quotes in one sitting, and a chance for my feet to heal a little more. I wondered if the gym would be full since I passed a practice soccer game on the way, but it turned out to be no more full than any other day. I skipped the jogging entirely, but did get in the meditation, palm strike practice, 300 front snap kicks, and ~150 sit-ups, so I consider the exercise habit unbroken for another day. In the showers, someone had turned a shower head on - and broken off the handle. This saddened me (how could they possibly have benefited?), and reminded me of my little theory that the only difference between barbarianism and civilization is how small peoples' [discount rate](!Wikipedia)s are.
It was nice enough that I spent an hour outside reading a philosophy of mind paper; I passed the rest of the afternoon in the Reading Room reading periodicals and going through my email. At 4:30 I headed up to the second floor stacks, did Mnemosyne, read some _Re-Take_, and watched 4 or 5 episodes of _Akagi_. (I know nothing about mahjong; ignorant of the content, I can pay attention to the genre markers and specific stylistic tricks of the sports/gaming anime genre that _Akagi_ falls into. I couldn't be open-minded about such an anime dealing with a topic I know myself, like _Hikaru no Go_.) The library closed even earlier than Friday, but this was also early enough that I found a free plug for my laptop.
At some point around 11 AM I gave up my fight to finish reading _The Secret History of Star Wars_ and headed back to the railroad parking lot. As expected, my car remained unmolested. Since I had said I would go to the turkey shoot the next morning (a shotgun trap competition), I simply drove home and slept there. Quite relaxing, really, knowing that I had an ironclad explanation if anyone bothered me.
# Day 6
7 November
8 AM, and Susan or someone knocked on my trunk. It might have been 9 AM since Daylight Savings Time has wrought its usual dubious magic. Breakfast and a shower, and then laundry - I had planned to sneak some laundry in anyway, but fortunately Susan suggested it for me.
The shoot itself was a mixed bag. It was frightfully windy, which made it effectively very cold (without windchill, it was quite nice out). Nobody enjoyed that. None of us had any hope of winning the eponymous turkey, and Leila and Evelyn were newbies and so slowed things down. We got to shoot our first 2 rounds fairly quickly (I got 12/25 and 15/25), but then had to wait hours for the third round, suffering in the wind. It took so long that it ceased to be morning and was late afternoon before we got a third round (just 8/25; one thing I dislike about shotgun is the lack of feedback compared to riflery or archery, and the strong element of chance) and headed home. I finished laundry and proceeded to make use of the local WiFi. Not enough (never enough) but I saved the more interesting RSS items for later reading offline. There were, for example, 2 new chapters of Eliezer Yudkowsky's interesting Harry Potter fanfiction (wherein he tries to deconstruct the Rowlingverse and present a more rational/scientific Harry).
A hot dinner was nice. I am not immune to a monotonous cold diet.
There was an unpleasant discussion at the end of the night. Unpleasant because they did their best to bring home how this is a terrible course of action; suggestion was made that I suffer from Asperger's disorder. (My own diagnosis is that while I fit many of the criteria, I also do not really fit some of the most important, and my deficiencies are traceable back to my hearing impairment; I have thought often what sort of life I would have had sans hearing aids & glasses, and it seems to me it would much more closely resemble my elder sister's.) Regardless, I am not certain that I will continue this experiment for very many weeks. The traffic ticket and registration fee will eat up months worth of food, and I am no longer so confident that my sleeping bag will work in the depths of December & January. Further, it was pointed out to me that getting a job was the condition for returning home, and jobs will be much easier to get in the November & December Christmas season than afterwards.
# Day 7
8 November, Monday
The first order of business was crunching cans and shopping at King Kullen's again. I still have at least half the oatmeal left (which says bad things about my caloric consumption, but when I looked at a scale on Sunday, I seemed not to have lost weight) and change from running shopping errands yesterday, so I decided to splurge on some big cans of black beans as well as the refried beans, switch to mozzarella on sale for as cheap as the cheddar I bought last week, and buy a bunch of bananas. Bananas seem to be the cheapest fruit available at ~$0.75/lb; the peel and stem no doubt make the true cost more like $1/lb but that's still good compared to the other fruits (which all seemed to run $2/lb). I haven't run the numbers but banana+oatmeal+mozzarella+beans is probably in the $1.60/day range. Not a problem if I do stop in a week or two.
At SBU, I manage to get what seems to literally have been the last spot in the railroad parking lot. This sets a trend for the rest of the day: it seems everyone is out and about. At the gym, the exercise room is invaded by a burly middle-aged man (the first time I have been intruded upon) shortly after I give an Asian student directions to the men's locker-room.
When I visit the Student Union, I am even more shocked to see at least 10 people vocally hanging out in the SF Forum and abandon my plan to quietly read a Zelazny novel or the new _Wheel of Time_ novel if they had it; the SINC computer lab is still more crowded and I abandon my plan to try to plant my USB key-logger there. At this point I'm wondering what's going on. I don't remember anything special about this week in November, and it seems too early for pre-Christmas break tests & deadlines.
More than a little disgruntled, I go to the library and read a book on video games & learning. (Summary: games are remarkably powerful learning mechanisms whose potential has been little explored.) The rest of the evening passes normally enough with reading papers, catching up on Mnemosyne (no time for reviews on Sunday), going through the web-pages cached on Sunday, and finally incorporating my Korean notes into Mnemosyne (procrastinated for many weeks). I also brought my external hard drive along because it takes hours to do a full back up (it's ridiculous); that wasted some time. after all that, I went down to the Reading Room & I read a few issues of _The Spectator_; reading a very conservative English periodical is rather odd. It's almost like Mencius Moldbug and _National Review_ mashed together with Oscar Wilde. (And it took some time for me to conclude it really was conservative, since I was thrown by a number of columns. I particularly remember one column arguing that increasingly widespread paternity testing was a bad thing, since it reduced the ability of women to cuckold men, hence it shifted power from the former to the latter and was 'anti-feminist'. The double standard and 'Who? Whom?' bias was so blatant that in retrospect I think it may have been a parody of feminism.)
I kept expecting the Reading Room to close or people leave so I could do some Internet surfing, but come 12:30 AM, it's still buzzing. (True to the SBU stereotype, the Reading Room was a sea of Asian faces. I should find out why SBU has so many Asian students some time.)
The walk back was nothing of interest, except that going the opposite direction were 3 Asian guys jogging along in shorts & fluorescent t-shirts. (I recall them as being shorter than me, which I interpret as an indicator they are not athletes.) I passed them again just before I reached my car, and while eating saw them make a third lap. I waited a while, but there was no fourth lap.
# Day 8
9 November, Tuesday
During gym, a burly balding middle-aged man came into the room; when I didn't object, he began boxing with the bag and then the wall. (I couldn't do such a thing, but I do not have boxing gloves either.) I think perhaps the room is busy, but I was simply there too early in the day to see it.
My first target is the SINC center in the Student Union (different from the SAC); I find a computer in the corner and log in as a guest. Frustratingly, unlike the library the SINC guest accounts include no Internet access. How useless! I do manage to not draw any attention as I rummage below the table; it seems that unlike all the library computers, the SINC sites *do* use USB keyboards. This is a tremendous relief to me, since I feared that all keyboards would be PS/2 keyboards - rendering my $70 investment in a USB key-logger a complete waste. Not wishing to attract further attention, I leave it at that. Discretion & valor, small steps etc.
My second target is the SF Forum. There was a Zelazny novel I wanted to read, but I couldn't remember it as I browsed through the dark stacks, so I settled for a very old Russian dystopian SF novel called _We_, which I had vaguely heard of. (I think of books like that as 'vegetable' books. One reads them for understanding, such as understanding one of the influences on Orwell & _1984_; not because they are enjoyable.) As I'm reading, I happen to notice a poster on the Forum wall giving the WiFi key/password.
I am struck dumb with mortification. I had spent many hours in the Forum in 2009. They had WiFi then. I had seen people at their laptops playing Internet games. *How could I have forgotten?* The Forum had the Internet access I so craved! It was right there for the taking. Nor would they ask questions if I was there for 8 hours. Nor would they inquire into what I was doing. Heck, I could probably browse outright pornography there! (Rereading this later, I note that I observed a mock-serious discussion of what to play next on the TV - pornography or _[Dr. Who](!Wikipedia)_.) As long as it was geeky porn, I suppose.
Naturally, I hauled out my laptop and spent half an hour getting their WiFi to work, and then even more time online. A major priority was checking all the external links on my wiki, since often I had simply linked to 'TODO' for lack of Internet access; `linkchecker` found a surprising number of dead external links and just plain syntax errors. That done, I began going through the 'online' section of that to-do list I mentioned I had been compiling. Quite gratifying. One of the last to-dos was to see whether any pirate ebooks of the new _[Wheel of Time](!Wikipedia)_ book, _[Towers of Midnight](!Wikipedia)_, had shown up online. They had. I spent the next 11 hours reading it. (Summary: largely setting up the next book, no ending as awesome as the previous book, Sanderson continues to faithfully uphold Jordan's highly repetitive writing style, but it manages to resolve a fair number of subplots that had gone on for far too long.)
Pace Nicholas Carr & _The Shallows_, I'm no longer used to such intensive reading. I stumbled out of the library a mental wreck.
I again spent half an hour or so in my car in the railroad parking lot, leisurely eating refried beans mixed with oatmeal and watching the traffic. (I'm starting to grow fond of the mixture, even.) I watched for campus police, and as with the previous 3 days or so, saw absolutely none. (It's interesting to think why. My current theory is that they feel no need since the road entrances are sealed or guarded, while the other parking lot is on an unsealed & nominally public road.) I also watched for joggers on the opposite sidewalk; I find them interesting since few people would put fluorescent t-shirts and go for a jog at 1 AM. I see just 1 Asian fellow, who seems to pass only the once.
# Day 9
10 November, Wednesday
Left car even later - around 11 AM. A hopeful car waited nearby as yesterday; their hopes were dashed. On the walk to the gym, I noticed my left foot *still* hurt in the pad, and scotched jogging plans. (I will definitely be more careful when my feet finally heal and I can resume jogging!) Did the usual front snap kicks, palm & elbow strikes in the gym; a man who reminded me of Ken Jennings came in and did some kicking and punching. I couldn't identify his style since I didn't want to stare at him. At a guess it was Taekwondo or karate - he seemed a little bit too friendly. I peeked in the weight room on the way out, and felt deeply confused; I had remembered the weight room as a small locker-like room, not as a sprawling open room lined with equipment. (It must have been a false memory - from a dream, perhaps, or misplaced from another facility - but I can't figure out the origin. Very disconcerting.)
At the SF Forum, I again took advantage of their Internet access caught up on my Go games, vocabulary, much of the ReadItLater reading list, fixed my filestore bugfix, managed to fix ['s]( `<title>` problem, and also add [Disqus](!Wikipedia) comments to ``. (Technically, a fairly accomplished day!) In between, I read Philip K. Dick's _[The Man in the High Castle](!Wikipedia)_; I had read it years ago but came away distinctly unimpressed. (Turns out the Forum's copy is a first edition, and ironically, the cover is in much better edition than the cover scan of a first edition Wikipedia is using.) I think I understood it better than I did last time, but the Japanese parts make me itch. Is it Dick's borrowing of American racism from the decades around WWII? The attempt to be deep about a culture that he understands less than I do? I'm not sure. Nor do the German parts look nearly as convincing to me as they used to; Spinrad's _[The Iron Dream](!Wikipedia)_ is infinitely superior in that respect.
# Day 10
11 November, Thursday
no exercise
We were all evicted around 6 or so for the SF Forum meeting. Apparently they do actually have them. It was remarkably crowded (twice the number that was actually in the Forum room at the time - where did they all come from?), and I was shocked to see Matthew Anderson there. What's he still doing at SBU? He graduated St. Anthony's same year I did, and that was roughly 6 years ago - I lost a year but still graduated from SBU a while ago. He looks the same too. I really ought to ask him what he's doing. Meeting itself was very boring and I couldn't follow it, so I kept reading Reynold's _Revelation Space_. (Could have used some simplification of the plot and cutting of a hundred pages or so.)
Go club
KCF movie and snacks
# Day 11
12 November, Friday
jogged 5, 2 people, elbow scraped
SF Forum
removed Disqus from
_The Zenith Angle_
On a trip to the bathroom at 10 or so, I saw 2 dudes in fencing dudes with an electric judge. This was the first time I've ever seen electronic scoring - seems nice. The two guys seemed bizarrely bad compared to the fencing I was familiar with from the RIT fencing class; I assume either that they are rank beginners with no other martial arts experience, or that they are doing one of the other fencing styles. (At RIT we fenced with [foil](!Wikipedia "Foil (fencing)")s, but there's also [epee](!Wikipedia "Épée") and [saber](!Wikipedia "Sabre#Modern sport fencing"); they seemed to be scoring only thrusts and no cuts, so I can narrow the possibilities down to 'they sucked or they're doing foil'.) Lingering in the doorway, a tall handsome guy talked to me about it. Apparently they're a fencing club and have practices Monday & Wednesday in the gym at 7 PM and Friday in the Union basement. This actually works out well for me, since Taekwondo on Mondays would get out at ~5:30 - time enough to shower and take a break and still arrive early. I enjoyed fencing at RIT, and I am *very* irked that I had no idea this fencing club existed; if I had known, I would have definitely participated in 2008 & 2009! My memories claim that I had even specifically searched the SBU website for a mention of any fencing classes or clubs and turned up nothing. TANJ.
Anderson was still napping when I returned and continued reading. After a while, the D&D session ended, and people began drifting out. I packed up and left with everyone and Anderson, but the fencing club had already dispersed and there was no opportunity for me to watch further.
So, I walked with Anderson to the Commuter Lounge in the SAC where he had his dinner, and I described my diet of $1.50 a day as I envied his big chicken sandwich. We then began discussing IQ and unemployment and somehow segued to a discussion of games - specifically, perfect strategies for games like Go and chess and his personal interest, _[Super Smash Bros.!](!Wikipedia)_. While you can treat SSB as a turn-based (frame by frame) strategy game of perfect information and consider which characters are guaranteed wins with perfect strategies etc. Matt has a personal project where he tries to analyze the game as playable by mere humans. His approach seems to be to consider the classical game tree, but assess the value of each node/possibility by calculating the percentage of possible move-countermoves which result in a 'win' for the player; this is sort of like considering how you would do against a random player. I'm not sure Matt was explaining it all that well (he seemed fairly tired, although when I explained my diet, he remarked that I seemed tired as well and wondered if I was eating enough), but it's a hard topic at the best of times.
Then he had to leave for the train station - sprinting for it when he saw the 11:30 double-decker train already there. I followed walking since it wasn't *my* train, but didn't see him again. I guess he made it. There were quite a few people getting off; they all seemed to be Asian. (I've noted that I'm starting to see Asians everywhere; either I have a bad case of racism-induced confirmation bias (doubly disturbing since I thought I was prejudiced in favor of Asians, if anything), or they really are that common. For my own sanity I need to start paying better attention.) Some of the groups of girls seemed to all be carrying shopping bags. It's easy to imagine their story: they took Friday off, went in to New York City, shopped in Fifth Avenue and other glitzy places, and came back on a 9 or 10 o'clock train.
Slowly walking back to my car, I noticed 2 campus police cars roll by; my 4 day streak of no police broken! So it would seem they do come by, but perhaps only at train arrivals to watch the crowd.
At my car, I checked for the other over-nighting cars. I look because I want to know how long cars in one spot are tolerated and because I'd like to know if there are any other trunk-sleepers like myself. One silvery-white car that had been here for several nights was gone, but a blue Mini-cooper was still there, as was a black personal car in the corner. Encouraging, but I think I'll still move my own car over a spot or two. It's Friday night/Saturday morning, after all, and I can spend the Saturday-Sunday night at home and perhaps Sunday-Monday as well. That is, I only have one more night here.
# Day 12
13 November, Saturday
Woke up very late, around 11 AM. This was on a single pill, and I had gone to sleep around 1:50 AM, so I overslept by about an hour. 2 most plausible theories: the quality of my sleep is low, as I occasionally wake up to shift around; or that I am not motivated to wake up with no schedule or thing I really want to do.
Gym is crowded with outsiders due to the craft fair. Not very well attended, certainly not as popular as St. Anthony's craft fair. I blame the lack of constituency - I see very few students at the fair, while the St. Anthony's one is packed with students (not just the ones running things either). Fortunately, they represent no interference. Yesterday I did 5 laps, so today I did 6. My final lap was more of a run than a jog, and I think that it was during this lap that I cut my left index toe. It's a remarkably clean cut too, so regular that it looks that I stepped on a kitchen knife in a fit of absentmindedness. Of course I can't do the front snap kicks with that cut, as the landing would just exacerbate matters and I've learned from the previous foot problems to not just bull through. So my practice winds up being jogging, sit-ups, and palm strikes. (No elbow strikes because right elbow still healing; no punches because the canvas bag ripped my scabs right off 2 days ago.)
Then to the Forum. Today's book was a Bruce Sterling collection, _Schismatrix Plus_. Really good, although such an alien universe that I had to put it down and do other things for a while. The usual Web browsing. No major work, to my regret. (My new poem strikes me as fairly good and definitely counts as 'this week's thing-worth-reading', but that was thanks to the Friday-me, not the Saturday-me.)
A good chunk of time went to chatting in Gmail with Andrew; he mentioned possibly going back up to RIT and visiting an acquaintance there. He meant Jess - who I didn't remember at all. Turns out Jess was a nerdy brown-haired girl lived on the first floor of Gibson with us, just around the corner and opposite Mike the paraplegic's room; her particular problem was always going around on a pair of crutches. She 'loathed' me in Andrew's phrasing, presumably from the crude jokes I made about her and Andrew. (They were crude, yes, but all our jokes were crude.) This struck me as disproportionate (the girls in the SF Forum tolerate many similarly offensive remarks), and Andrew mentioned something interesting. My assumption had been that her disability was temporary, the result of broken bones and rehabilitation or something, and that she had long since recovered. But no! She is as crippled as ever. The truth was that her problems were congenital, stemming in some manner from a premature birth, and she had implied to Andrew that she could never have children and he thought that she may have meant to imply that normal sex was likewise impossible. An explanation naturally presents itself: her resentment was proportionate because she thought that I was specifically mocking her inability. If that is the case, then I would have to agree. My jokes would have been extremely cruel in such a situation. (I'm not sure I am to blame in the sense that I could have been aware of all this and done better, but in my defense, the one other comparable person - Mike - assured us vociferously that he was capable of the procreatory act.) A sobering example. Where else in my life have I made such mistakes?
Another round of D&D kicked me out to the couch, and as the hours wore on, the quasi-leader set up _Guitar Hero_ or _Rock Band_ or some sort of music game with drums, 2 guitars, and a microphone. I watched this for quite a while and then around 11 PM decided to play a few songs. Didn't make it out of 'easy' on bass guitar before midnight dissolved the revelries.
I remain surprised how many girls are around the SF Forum, some fairly cute. (One, Anya, reminds me a great deal of my elder sister when she was young, if she had had carrot-colored hair rather than blonde.) They all seem to be attached to a guy, but it remains a mystery whether they picked up the habit of hanging around the SF Forum from their guy or whether their SF Forum predated the romance.
In the RR parking lot, I moved my car again to the tree-lined side for cover in the morning. Instead of sleeping 2 nights at home, I'll sleep just the one; this way I won't skip exercise on Sunday to make up for previous lapses. While there I saw one blaring campus police car racing towards the dorms around 12:30 AM, and a campus police SUV going the other way at 12:54 AM. Of the 3 cars I was watching, the silvery one close by me had left, but the dark corner car and the blue mini-cooper were still there. It only now occurs to me that the procedures & rules for checking the parking lots for abandoned cars are probably available on the SBU website. I spent my time in the lot working in 'Brave poem' (probably could use a better name); the first 2 introductory stanzas were a real bitch to flesh out. The problem with writing only when you have an inspiration is that the inspiration never covers the entire work, even if it's a short poem, and you have to painfully work through all the permutations and variations you can think of until you finally have something that doesn't shame the good parts.
# Day 13
14 November, Sunday
Woke up quite late - perhaps around 11 or 12. no point in getting up earlier. did exercise - nothing unusual. Then checked in on SF Forum, but no one was there! So I went straight home. Found a note on the door asking me to pick up Adrian & Leila from their soccer games if I came back before 3. Turns out it was the last game of the season, so when I met Bob and Adrian, I was then obliged to take footage of Leila's team's little award ceremony. I didn't enjoy either game, needless to say. Evelyn arrived part way through Adrian's game and drove them home. So my going turned out to be entirely superfluous (and they could have walked home without too much trouble as well). Dinner was salmon; Evelyn or Susan cooked it very well indeed, and I could truly appreciate how it tasted with fresh lemon juice. After dinner, I idled around online and dealt with the fish oil that had arrived a while ago. (Turned out I could fit 2 of the 4 bottles into the ammo box that stored my remaining tea, but the other 2 are still loose.)
When Adrian went to bed, I walked Charlie, who was deeply grateful. (He had also been remarkably happy to see me walk in the door.) No one had been walking him or cleaning the dog pen.
After the walk, I made some hot chocolate while I read the newspaper. My secret is using ground pepper, but unfortunately I overdid the white pepper that time, and the additional mint & cinnamon couldn't fix that mistake. After *that*, I watched a new episode of _Glee_ (mediocre), and then finally went to bed in my trunk when that ended.
Not an especially interesting or productive day, although tasty.
# Day 14
15 November, Monday
King Kullen groceries
Taekwondo class, ID card
fencing, Union, gym (anecdote about jumping to conclusions)
SF Forum playing _Evo 3_ (? not 2)
parking lot: oatmeal + peanut butter
1 jogger (Caucasian female?); another male Asian jogger at 1:15 AM
black corner car, blue mini-cooper still there; other mini-cooper gone
6 campus police-cars going by in either direction; very unusual given general lack of cars
1 person walked by my car, 1 black car pulled into the lot and a guy and girl got out; they wandered around for a little while and finally set off in train station direction
# Day 15
16 November, Tuesday
alien movie
tank girl
_Islands in the Net_, Sterling
weigh 207 pounds
2 police-cars
# Day 16
17 November, Wednesday
SF Forum quiet time
read Banks' _The Wasp Factory_; interesting and a little bizarre, but not as amazing as the reviews
strange email from Mom; Macey's seems to want to do the interview tomorrow!
Saw Korean movie, _Le Grande Chef_. Much funnier than Korean movies checked out from library, but it was naturally a cooking competition (surprisingly much of the story was quite serious, dealing with Japanese imperialism & colonization of Korea), which drove me nuts with hunger. It didn't help that before I went in, I saw a big buffet dinner going on in the Wang Center (something to do with metallurgy), but assumed it was guarded and didn't eat; later I found a brochure for it and learned that it had been free to students (heightening my distress).
# Day 17
18 November, Thursday
My alarm clock again failed to wake me up; Susan pounded on the trunk around 9 AM and woke me up. (I had set it to wake me at 8 AM so I could have breakfast and call Macey's about the interview at 9 AM sharp.) Oversleeping robbed my plan of its urgency, so I wound up going through the registration process for the Trac cellphone (and it does feel weird to have a cellphone, even a dumb one - a perpetual electronic umbilical to whomever has its number) and testing it. The sound doesn't work terribly well with my hearing aids, not as well as the regular phones do, but I suppose you get what you pay for. Then I had breakfast; Susan had left by this point and also left a heated kettle of water. With the exception of the ground-up tea in my custom pills, I haven't had real tea since this started 17 days ago; I missed it a little. Finally, around 10 AM I called the Macey's number and they insisted on doing it that day after 2 PM. Well, alright. Gives me time for lunch & shower, and I can go straight from there to SBU before fencing commences at 7 PM. After that I mostly idled online until lunchtime. (There were a few points of interest; I was flattered to learn in the guts of an IM transcript that Aaron Clark had nominated me as moderator of the 16-year old Evangelion Mailing List, for example.)
register cell phone, call Macey's, rescheduled in the afternoon; shower
interview (nailed unethical question, did terrible on why?) told may be called in the future; molly didn't even get as far as interview
back to SBU
forgot laptop power cord
read Lem's _His Master's Voice_. surprisingly realistic, but not as enjoyable as _Cyberiad_
SF Forum meeting - new rule, 'no sex in stacks'! Apparently building staff or outsiders of some sort found a couple copulating in the stacks, and Student Government was furious and threatened to evict the SF Forum from its room if it happened again. (Serge would later find this rule absolutely hysterical, since SF Forum is for geeks who ought to have no need for such a rule... But I've already mentioned that a surprising number of girls show up. Today for example a new brunette showed up; very cute and eerily resembles the girl on the e-board.)
dash off to fencing. exercises, did a beat-parry-lunge drill, then spent most of the time watching foil fencing and then judging epee fencing
took quick second shower, over to library, pay traffic fine ($175!), head to Go club, it's done, Serge tells me about bungee jumping in China (a guy the previous week died at it); eventually he and some of the others left for the new _Harry Potter_ midnight showing they had reserved tickets for a week ago (_Deathly Hallows_ part 1; as time passes, I regard _Deathly Hallows_ less and less). Read in main library a little of a sociology study of hotel workers' 'Machiavellianism'; a China magazine (some seriously questionable quotes, hewing to government line; as obnoxious as _New York Times_ at its worst).
walking back on the straightaway, I saw a rabbit. it very slowly creeped away into the brush, as if unsure whether to fear me. the path is smooth slick shiny asphalt from the humidity or possible light rain, and it is regularly punctuated with high-hanging streetlights, and one can't see anywhere but forward because the foliage is so dense. For a brief moment, I felt as if the path went on forever and I would just keep walking along and the lights would keep flashing by overhead. It felt like the iconic driving sequences[^driving] in _[Revolutionary Girl Utena](!Wikipedia)_ with Akio and his car. _Utena_ had remarkable visual symbolism, and pieces of it were embedded in me, still working their way out after all these years.
An ambulance with siren came screaming past around 12:20 or so. Odd; it's not the weekend. Maybe the students involved didn't have anything on Friday and decided to party early? On the other hand, I suppose that even college students get sick sometimes... I think it was probably partying or fighting, though.
At 12:35, a Lindy's Taxi parked pointing its headlights at me. Very annoying. Hopefully he was only taking a smoking break and didn't call campus police before he left around 12:45. (Over-nighter census: blue mini-cooper and black corner car still there. None of the others struck me.)
1 campus police car drove by on the road; a few minutes later, drove right through my lot by me! Do I drive away to the pool or go to sleep immediately? I'll try sleeping. maybe wake up at a reasonable hour...
All in all, a busy day.
# Day 18
19 November, Friday
Woke up very late, noon. Apparently my gambit of sleeping there worked - no knocks. Tidying up, I headed straight for the library to read Seamus Heaney's _Spirit Level_ collection. (What I had wanted was an economics book on the pernicious effects of economic inequality on people & society, but I'm also fine with a Heaney collection.) Quite a vocab builder. As I finish reading and begin copying one poem, I noticed a flashing (my hearing aids were off to aid concentration) and realize the fire alarms have gone off! Well. I'm not glad that they went off at all, but at least the person pulling them waited until I was mostly done. Of course I set off for the Forum next (a librarian along the way telling me it was an unscheduled alarm), where 2 people were happy to hear the news since they apparently had class in the library soon. At the Forum I went back to reading Harrison's _Virconium_.
Fencing started at 7 as expected. I wandered in and after a great while, got my gear on and found 2 other Asian foil fencers. I did well, beating 1 guy by a solid 2 points every 5-point match; I eventually lost by 3 points to the second guy and even later beat him by 2 points; finally, one of the more advanced students, a really kinetic Caucasian guy who usually does saber, stepped in and handed me my ass with a 3 or 4 point victory. (He was noticeably faster than me, so there were like 4 double-points or point-off-targets; very frustrating and felt a little like the judging was against me.) Oh well. One or two people mentioned that I was pretty good for a beginner, so I don't think I am flattering myself when I say I did well. I also did better than previous sessions in social aspects; the cutest girl there (a Caucasian named Erin or Harry or something; she's a thin limber blond-brunette, whose face reminds me a great deal of Annette but cuter, who fences saber) happened to be poking at my foot with her blade after my third bout when another joked that she was trying to cripple me and I replied 'Who would have thought such demonic desires lurked behind such an angelic face?', which went over very well with her and the listeners. So it goes.
# Day 19
20 November, Saturday
Woken up by Adrian. Breakfast (even Eggo waffles taste good hot!); out to tree (poor selection - all so short!). back to laptop - got Jehovah Witnessed. I took their tract 'Is Atheism on the March?' (In another life, I would have said 'I hope it is!') I read it later; pretty basic stuff - eg. constant appeals to Argument from Design (and also Argument from Incredulity - 'look at how complex this shrimp eye is! do *you* think it could have evolved by blind chance?'). But some of it was reasonably interesting.
Eventually Bob hinted strongly enough to either start raking the back yard or get out, so I drove back to SBU. Along the way, I ran *another* red light and also nearly collided with someone changing lanes when I failed to check my blind spot until the last second. Disturbing. Hopefully the cause is just that I didn't sleep very well today, and not nutritional problems surfacing after nearly 3 weeks.
The SF Forum was closed, so I went up to the library. No fire-alarms today! Spent most of the time on Yi & PDF reading. Around 5, got skittish that the library was closing that early, so I went back to the SFF and this time it was open. I finished up _Maus_ II, and set to online. Most of the time went to dealing with email, vocabulary, and then catching up on Wikipedia (my backlog was all the way to late October). I really truly despise Bread Ninja; she is not a worthy foe and continuously harasses my articles. It will take a real effort to outlive her. (I also lost one Go game and won one.) I took a break to learn to play a card game called Space Munchkins. Didn't do too well.
Commuter Lounge - read QAI, did Mnemosyne
parking lot - corner car gone, blue mini-cooper there. no tickets or anything either
Overnighted at home to be ready for tree picking
# Day 20
22 November, Sunday
late home
# Day 21
23 November, Monday
woke up around 11 again. left home. no shopping since bananas uneaten, lots of beans left, and plenty of oatmeal.
so late, so I parked in South P. so many people I missed first bus
went to Forum. worked on Mnemosyne review, lots of Wikipedia editing. the problem with fighting with deletionists is that they rarely contribute content and if they do they tend to be massively impoverished articles where there's nothing to attack; with another inclusionist, you have a form of MAD, but deletionists are either invulnerable or welcome your nukes. some more _Virconium_ reading (starting to hate it & will read something fun as a reward for finishing). The salon next door blew the circuit breaker on some shared circuits with the Forum, which meant no power for my laptop and no power for the wireless router (and thus no Internet); so I spent a fair amount of time watching an anthology of _Batman_ anime short movies. strange. the shorts seem to've some of them been by quite prominent studios, eg. the one that animated _[Tekkon Kinkreet](!Wikipedia)_.
Went to TKD. went pretty well, not too exhausted. Phil, the British-looking orange-hair buzzcut dude from fencing (very good), showed up to my surprise. he seems to be some sort of black belt in Shaolin kung fu, if I overheard him & Xristos right. in sparring he certainly had hand movements I associate with Shaolin kung fu. went back to Forum, still more Wikipedia editing.
at 7 went to showing at Humanities building of _All That I Love_, a Polish movie about a teenager in a punk rock band in the final days of Communist Poland. the video quality was terrible - vertical red and green stripes which I think must have been on the DVD and perhaps resulted from a botched VHS->DVD job; switching rooms and projectors didn't change it at all, and the stripes came and went with sharp discontinuities, so it seemed associated with particular scenes and not just a universal problem (like one would expect a projector problem to be). it was mildly interesting and I was served tea (Lipton's), so I wound up staying and missing half of fencing. Missing half of fencing meant that I might as well miss the whole thing, and my hamstrings were hurting tremendously and making me inflexible. (From running 8 laps yesterday?) The organization running it was just 3 girls who started it 2 years ago or so, and they mostly had a few regulars, and 3 people (including me) who had heard about it from posters. It's some 'multi-cultural' thing with no clear purpose; I figure this club will die with their graduation.
Continued my computer stuff; at least according to my mental rotations task, I'm as sharp as ever, which is good to know. I'm scared to resume n-backing though.
Walked back to South P lot. strangely road gate not locked as it should have been, as the third entrance is. what is the point of having someone checking ID at the second entrance if the first one is unlocked? but drove to RR parking lot with no problem.
blue mini-cooper *still* there. how many days has it been here now?
# Day 22
23 November Tuesday
Got out around 11:30 AM. Gym. Jogged 8 laps, ran 1, walked 1. Good work! strange number of guys and gals on the gym floor with all sorts of weight room equipment - special track team practice? did things like walk around with free weights.
fencing. won 2 tough matches, lost 3. not a good night at all
# Day 23
24 November Wednesday
Didn't sleep well. Woke up on own as Adrian came walking up the sidewalk. Breakfast. played with Kiki. did some leaf blowing. drove girls to SBU train station, walked them to the ticket booth. long line! so many people walking from SBU to the train station. Forum was open. they decided to play _Buffy_ nonstop. I never particularly liked _Buffy the Vampire Slayer_. Discovered that blonde girl Forumite I had previously compared to elder sister was actually 2 similar looking blonde girls. (The hatchet nose of one should have given it away to me.) Spent most of the time working on the usual things (yi incremental reading etc.). Almost completely caught up on Wikipedia - lost one of the Eva AfDs. very depressing. makes me wonder if it's worth working on Wikipedia for the next few years; I hope the deletionist trend of the last 5 years will shift by then, but I can't be optimistic.
Forum & Union closed roughly at 6; got to gym at 6:30 and found it closed at 7. Jogged 8 laps, ran 1, walked 1. My feet no longer hurt even a little walking down the staircase, which is nice. Reading Room & library stacks closed already.
# Day 24
26 November Thursday
woke up absurdly early. went to SBU train station. Susan misread schedule so we hung around for a long time. went to Dunkin' Donuts. she gave change to a derelict. said it was thanksgiving after all. we waited for a later train. the girls already in NYC wandered around Times Square while waiting for us. passed time in little waiting room. Susan had given up on the room but I insisted on trying the other door. it worked. since it was cold, this was good. lesson on trying all options. we passed time reading _New York Times_. interesting article on NetFlix. I still can't believe NetFlix is surviving and actually thriving. another lesson there - don't generalize from my own heavy BitTorrent usage to general consumption patterns. also an interesting article on increasing popularity of sweet potatoes; rang true because I had at previous Friendly's visit chosen sweet potato fries rather than regular potato fries. train trip in was uneventful. new LIRR cars are pretty comfortable. at Penn, we had to walk to a car whose doors were not disabled. we then walked a block north. we were so late that the big floats had already worked all the way down to us. being by the station, we had a rotten view. Susan seemed to enjoy it anyway. I didn't find the floats very interesting (we were so far away they seemed pretty small), but it must be a real challenge designing them and sewing them together. also in NYC it's always very interesting to people-watch. tons of Asians, for example (many apparently foreign, judging by the chatter). after parade, we went to Danni's FIT dorm and headed home. at Penn, we had to wait for train. the fruit smoothie stand made remarkably good strawberry smoothies, and their soups were not too bad either. their 3-alarm chili was pretty respectable, and their New England clam chowder was outright good!
Danni had brought with her a [Kinect](!Wikipedia). The girls pretty much spent the entire rest of the day playing the dancing game (and occasionally the racing car demo for Adrian). There was some TV, like the _Peanuts_ special. Susan had boasted that Thanksgiving dinner could be ready within half an hour after we got home. It was more like 1.5 hours, of course, before we actually began eating. But it was very good - her Hollandaise sauce worked unusually well with the green beans.
# Day 25
27 November Friday
Spent most of day messing around on computer. Nothing of interest to recall. The SBU gym was closed, so the only place I was going to go was the Middle Country public library, after all.
# Day 26
28 November Saturday
I had stuck around since on Friday Susan asked if I wanted to go shotgun shooting. I enjoy it so I did. The wind was nasty, and a friend of Adrian's came along. My shotgun was untrustworthy so I used one of the others, which wasn't semi-automatic but the falling-block style of shotgun. Strangely, this didn't cause any problems aside from 5 rounds misfiring; rather, I scored 17 and 21 out of 25 - both were all-time personal bests. I outshot everyone there.
We then went to Friendly's. I had the roast beef sandwich and tried the New England clam chowder. It wasn't very good. We then headed off to watch _[Tangled](!Wikipedia)_. It was in general pretty good, although it'll never be on the 'greatest films of the 21st century' or even 'greatest animated films'. I read the Wikipedia article afterwards, and it confirmed some of what I thought. For example, it seemed very _Aladdin_-like to me, and I learned the same guy did the score. Cited critics dinged it for its Dreamworks-style humor (snark, irony, 4th-wall breaking - epitomized by the male protagonist's sarcastic demeanor during some of the song-and-dance routines, especially the one with the Vikings), but I think much of that was standard Disney humor-lite (although there clearly was some influence there). The hair was from a technical standpoint very impressive, but they also cheated constantly with its length, varying it from 20 feet to hundreds of feet as the scene demanded. And there was a surprising lack of the obvious long hair jokes one could make (I do not think there was one gag where Rapunzel was running and someone simply stepped on her hair). Likewise, I was more than a little surprised by the resolution in which the protagonist cuts Rapunzel's hair and destroys her magic; usually when the heroine offers herself to the villain in exchange for her lover's life, the deal is accepted and then the hero has to rescue her. Simply cutting her hair was... surprisingly rational & effective an action. And some scenes were really impressive, both technically and artistically. The dance in the public square when the duo reaches the castle, or the release of the flying hot-air lanterns on Rapunzel's birthday - both were moving and beautiful (if highly sentimental).
The rest of the day proceeded as one would expect. I spent most of the evening watching another movie, _[All About Eve](!Wikipedia)_; it was very good and I didn't see the evil-Eve plot twist coming until Eve blew her cover by blackmailing another character. What would have made it truly great, I think, would be some sort of _[Rashomon](!Wikipedia)_ style approach, where you were truly left in doubt whether Eve was evil or not. (Which is not to say that the ending, with its ambitious high school girl in Eve's rooms, acting like the starstruck Eve herself, wasn't very nice, with its suggestion of a vicious cycle or karmic payback, but I prefer ambiguous endings to social plotting like that.)
# Day 27
29 November Sunday
We fried up the bacon and duck eggs today. Duck eggs turn out to be pretty much exactly the same as chicken eggs, but considerably larger and their yolk tasted somewhat sour to me.
Church at noon. Spent a good part of the afternoon up on the roof putting up Christmas lights. (Darn. Both the SBU gym and library are open now. Perhaps I should have left yesterday.)
# Day 28
30 November Monday
woke up at 9. problem: Susan hadn't paid me for the dog-washing & brushing, and last night I left my laptop inside. No one was home, and poor Charlie was still locked up inside. (It wasn't *that* cold out!) The ladder was still out from the lights, so I simply went in through the bathroom as usual. I killed an hour or two online and with breakfast (Kiki was thrilled to see me - I might feed him) when Susan unexpectedly came home. Turned out Molly had sprained her ankle. Again. On the stairs at school. I can somewhat understand her many injuries during soccer (although not really in a sense, since I regard TKD and fencing and karate as being as dangerous to the legs as soccer, but I never got a major injury there, unlike Molly and her 4 or 5 major injuries), but on the stairs at school, really? So she paid me and told me to stay until 2 PM and be available to pick up Molly from the doctors' office if Bob had to leave before Molly was done. Well, no problem. Not like I was planning much at SBU, and I've driven to the office before.
# Day 29
30 November, Tuesday
Finished [_Hybrid Theory_]( I don't know how to feel. Drained. It's 1.3 million words of crossover fanfiction, done remarkably well. I've been reading it for... since early October. It's not the longest single fiction work I've ever read (that would probably be _Infinite Jest_ or the Bible), but it's the longest I've read in a very long time indeed. Do I recommend it to other anime fans? Yes. Do I like it? I don't know.
> "In time, you will learn that an old friend is very much like a good mirror. The longer you stare into it, the harder it is to find the flaws."
I put a reminder on my calendar in November 2011 to re-read HT and this time read the authors' commentary on it.
# Day 30
1 December, Wednesday
Tried sleeping the other orientation. Didn't work too well. But the night was so warm that I didn't need a perfect posture. Woke up fairly early - turns out it was the wind. Was surprised when I got out at 11 AM and was nearly bowled over by the wind. I had been thinking of buying a box of donuts for the Forum, but decided not to. Good idea! I had even put on my drover coat & hat, but halfway through the athletic field, the downpour started. And the wind got even worse, almost halting me at some points. Was relieved to get to the Union, but though the lights were on, the door was locked. So I struggled into the library and started reading Swinburne's _Simplicity As Evidence Of Truth_. So far very disappointing. So many of his ideas about [Occam's Razor](!Wikipedia) are best expressed in a computational language, possibly using [Kolmogorov complexity](!Wikipedia) - but he goes on expressing them in flawed analogue language. (His attempt to define mathematical simplicity in operational terms as what a person could understand without needing explanation is particularly sad - you can almost see the recursion trying to struggle out of his words.) As I sit on the second floor, I can see the Asian girls walking up the avenue and their umbrellas collapsing & being blown back. (They remind me of the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe holding down her skirt over the vent.) It's a little funny, but it reminds that conditions out are unpleasant and I might as well stay in the library for a few hours and try to get something done without all the distractions of the Internet & the Forum.
Later I discovered the damn rain had literally melted the pills in my pocket! Now that was irksome. (Small blessing: the powders had been melted but then congealed into relatively homogeneous lumps I could claw out.) The 'ice cream social' at the SAC did in fact have ice cream. Humble ordinary ice cream, but scarcity lends them savor.
# Day 31
2 December, Thursday
Slept in because it was so nice and warm in the trunk. In a good mood, I got out around noon and decided inasmuch as I was overflowing with the milk of human kindness and it was nice and bright out, to buy the donuts today. Found a shortcut through the woods across the tracks. The workers on the rail didn't bother me. I had suspected there were no fences or anything, but was still a little surprised. The footpath was well-trod too. Given how college students are, I'm surprised one doesn't read more often of predictably-horrifying accidents. A dozen donuts apparently now costs $7. I had decided to spend no more than $8, so it worked out. I picked a nice selection of Boston Cremes and frosted ones (no bullshit ones like jelly; I have no idea why people pick those when we've all seen how those are always the last to be eaten and sometimes don't get eaten at all). It was a nice walk to the Union. Though I visibly paraded in with the donuts and set them down in the middle of the room before the TV and wrote stuff on the board and then began eating a Boston Creme, no one seemed to really notice until 20 minutes later. What the heck, guys. But when they did notice, they were appreciative. Good return on $7.
Made me muse about how simple social ties might be and how a 'social AI' might operate. An AI is interesting to think about because the obvious thing to optimize is strength of ties, and an obvious way to do that is to process all conversations, memorize important background information, and never forget a data - but these are all things that [lifelogging](!Wikipedia), [spaced repetition](!Wikipedia) and computerized calendars could enable us to counterfeit. One could imagine doing things like compiling a list of romantic things (already done by a thousand authors!), rank them by expense in time or money, and then randomly assign them to dates (spacing them out according to expense; the more expensive, the further away from any other romantic thing). This, I think, would be a lot more optimal than most uxorious behavior. (What's the point of doing things on Valentine's Day or your anniversary? The significant other *expects* them and knows you know them. They're pretty worthless signals.) Heck, one could just compile data about the other peoples' buying habits for plugging into a recommendation engine like Amazon and base one's gift decisions on that! This would make both parties much happier than the current system of haphazard guesses. _[The Onion](!Wikipedia)_ article [" Recommendations Understand Area Woman Better Than Husband"](,2121/) is funny because we uneasily suspect that it's right: that in some areas unthinking algorithms understand people better than we do and we're too lazy to try harder. The funny thing is, such an approach sounds an awful lot like the general approach of the subclinical non-violent [sociopath](!Wikipedia) if you look at Bruce Schneier's [suggested reading]( on them.
Obviously skipped any gym time because I didn't want to leave the donuts unguarded or to drop them off and leave. I really need a shower though - my smell is getting a bit strong and my hair is just plain greasy although still responding to the comb.
Skipped fencing & Go club. Busy reading _[Perdido Street Station](!Wikipedia)_. Nothing to report the rest of the day. Did some more n-backing; scores still good and a little above when I stopped regularly. I'll try to do more. I really ought to get up to D6B so I can re-take the IQ test. I am proving to lack self-discipline during this homeless jaunt. Very annoying.
Three different Asian guys walking by on the other side of the road remind me - I haven't seen any joggers in a long time. Maybe a week. They must be discouraged by the recent cold, or perhaps some event ended?
I'm not sure it's worth recording ambulance passages any more (saw one today and past several nights). They seem to happen at least once every night, especially between midnight and 1 AM. Strangely, the Domino's pizza cars tend to taper off before then.
# Day 32
3 December, Friday
Read Mieville's _King Rat_. Pretty good. Urban fantasy in the style of Neil Gaiman but more socialist and much more British & gritty & dark. Although Gaiman got started about when Mieville published this, so maybe the relationship is causally opposite. Began _Iron Council_. Not nearly so impressive - he doesn't use the length to good effect and disposes of some interesting groups (like the underground AIs) in order to concentrate on... striking workers. Even British socialists no longer really care. Fukuyama was right; human history is over, only the details remain to be discussed, and we await new forms of life to analyze.
Fencing was something of a bore. Only one other foil fencer (Mike was busy with the fencing club executive board meeting) and she's a fat Asian girl who tires easily. I only fenced her 5 times over 2 or 3 hours. (Lost 2, won 2, lost 1) I'm seriously considering switching to epee or saber - I am getting tired of waiting around for *someone* to fence me.
Tomorrow's the SFF Festivus. I expect a lot of junk food then. Means I can blow my cheese and beans on today.
# Day 33
4 December, Saturday
Wake up late as usual. Maybe I shouldn't say 'late' because I am in my trunk by 12:45 AM and assuming an hour or so to get to sleep, then 8 hours of sleep would be 9 AM and I am usually half-awake by that point. Anyway, I quickly make the day's supply of peanut-butter rations and head to the gym. In good spirits, I get in 9 laps of jogging, 1 run, and 1 walk. An improvement! And I felt like I could have gone further. Maybe I *will* make 14 laps by January. The only other people I see in the gym is this gymnastic-looking young teen and her coach; she is practicing baton-twirling, specifically a bit where she tosses the baton all the way to the gym's ceiling, spins 4 or 5 times and catches it. Neither looks like an SBU student, and nor do the 5 or so young and middle-aged men playing handball. (I do 100 elbow strikes and 100 palm strikes on each arm. My right hip seems to be even less flexible/more painful than yesterday, so no front snap-kicks today either.)
No one is in the shower, so after a long hot shower, I stroll over to the Wang Center. _Quelle horreur_, the gift shop is closed! (Snarkily, I reflect that closing would be just punishment for trying to sell cookie-flavored black tea.) My visit was not entirely wasted; the signs reminded me (as my calendar later would) that the 'Tellebrasian' event was today and I saw the tables set up for the reception (proving that refreshments more than simply cookies and soda), so I had two prospective sources of good free food.
At the SFF I was shocked to see the room dark and empty, but open. Where was everyone? Was - was Festivus canceled? Did I have the date wrong? (But I had spoke, yesterday, of Festivus being today and was not corrected.) The short squat frizzy brown-haired girl walked in a minute or two later. As usual, I didn't understand a word she said (and she seemed to be completely oblivious to my incomprehension), but I inferred that it was somewhere else. I hoped. I asked several times where it was, to no result. She seemed to want me to stay for a little while so I did and surfed the Internet a little.
She left, so I left too and locked up. Roman and another had very briefly popped their head in. I inferred from this that it was in the same building and not somewhere like the SAC. So, I checked the obvious places in the basement (the club space was locked; the bi-level room unoccupied), and then went to the second floor to check the classroom used for weekly meetings. Eventually I found them in another classroom (the one where I had Ancient Philosophy). Score! The subs were not all eaten, nor were the donuts. They had just finished a movie, apparently, and were waiting on _Diehard_. It was a download, so no subtitles and no chance I'd understand it over the background noise. (Boo! Roman, if your media player can't handle .srt files, then you need to get a new media player!)
_Diehard_ got going by 3 PM. Tellebrasian is slated to start at 3 as well. I figured I'd stay at Festivus until 4:30 or so and then check in at the Wang Center. By that point the food would either be available to be eaten or I could survey what the caterers had brought, and I'd limit my time loss if the performances stunk.
gift store was opened for Tellebrasian. today's tea a black tea with some sort of 'champagne' flavoring and strawberries. despise black tea but combo was good enough for me to surreptitiously take a full cup's worth. (the old woman was too busy with and proud of wiring up speakers to really pay attention, and the low tea table and high counter make it hard in the first place)
kids on carpet
couldn't understand speaker. her entourage was funny. big white guy looked like a sushi chef - the simple blue kimono and twisted rope headband. spent my time watching the story teller's hand movements. I think hand movements are a big flaw in my own storytelling. that and vocal emphasis and distortion of words
broke. old blonde British artist led us around the various textile flags. some quite interesting materials - white dogwood bark and dried maple leaves made up the Canadian one, and stressed plywood made the Norway one. then there was hot food. not terribly impressive. chicken wings, halal chicken-spiced-rice, some sort of vegetarian wonton (but Indian). only really enjoyed the chicken-rice. should've ate more but was already somewhat full from the tea and also the cookies and sliced subways from Festivus.
I left a long comment excoriating her repetition in the two Norway plywood flags and suggesting one have been done with naturally stained woods in the red/blue American flag colors. felt that these sort of events are implicit bargains - give me your time, attention, and feedback and I'll give you something worth seeing and also food. i feel i met my half
returned to Festivus to find it much more crowded and everyone raptly staring at the speaker. apparently the real Festivus activities had started in my absence and we were 3/4 of the way through 'Airing of Grievances'. Whomever stood at the front of the room waving a bamboo pole was busy telling us and the rest of the world off. Anthony (a pockmarked Asian guy who was a student when I was but has graduated) recounted how he came down with a bizarre neuralgia - just a day or two after his health insurance lapsed. uh oh. mostly the topics of discussion were Forumites. David got told off by 4 or 5 people for looking like a homeless Jewish-Amish refugee, with his bushy black beard & hair, and his red-plaid pajama pants. (we took up a collection 'to buy David real pants' which raised $5.50. I tossed in $0.5. I remain amused that I have yet to be compared with the homeless while two acquaintances who are not homeless have been so compared.) Likewise Roman was freely flamed for his vulgar and erratically humorous humor; Adib confessed that his sarcasm was perhaps too subtle and what he really wanted to say to Roman, to make matters clear, was that he didn't give a fuck about what obscure porn star Roman saw in a strip club the previous night. Adib delivered a truly memorable tirade, belying the statement of a previous griever that he had made progress on his anger issues - his neck-veins literally bulged out. (It wasn't all bile; he had a mock-grievance with Nadia that she didn't notice that he was infatuated with her within a week of her showing up in the Forum. This interested me because I thought I had seen Adib back in 2009 but he hadn't been an item then - they really did get together that quickly. He also had a mock grievance with his older brother, which also surprised me since I had specifically told myself that they probably were not related besides obviously being the same ethnicity. I guess I *should* have stereotyped in their case and assuming kinship!)
I went largely unmentioned, although I think I was included in some of the complaints about people who just come to the Forum and spend time on their laptops, and I was singled out by Ethan (?; guy with black afro who I called monkey-boy once and who often closes the Forum with me) for this; this was the first time my laptop usage had been hostilely remarked upon (it had been mentioned to me before, but usually in a context like 'you're so quiet I didn't notice you') and is a reminder that I can't spend all day at the Forum. Gym time is a good start, but I need to figure out a better balance. Perhaps gym in the morning, a few hours in the Forum when few members come, then duck out to the library in the late afternoon/early evening, and then the rest of the evening there?
When the Grievances ended with Howie smashing the bamboo against the blackboard, we packed up and went down to the Forum for 'Feats of Strength'. We lined the walls of the basement corridor to witness a few leg-wrestling matches until it became obvious it wasn't a very good game, and then we switched to a game I remembered from Boy Scouts; each person stands on one leg, pulls the other foot up with a hand, locks the free hand behind their back, and the two hop and shove at each other in a bid to put them off-balance (proven by letting go of the leg or simply falling). This was much more entertaining. Towards the end I entered; I won quickly once, waited a while, and then beat three more (impressing Roman who had done quite well himself considering how he is short, pudgy, and completely out of shape). That was about when everyone trickled into the Forum proper for the next event... watching the _[Star Wars Holiday Special](!Wikipedia)_ in all its glory. It was even worse than I had expected, dragging on with musical interludes terrible both for their length and quality. I thought the short cartoon adventure which introduced Boba Fett was surprisingly good (if you overlooked how everything was visually distorted by strange animation) - worthy of the great Fett. There was some decent MS3King of the Special, but mostly people were silent, which made it even more agonizing. I wanted to escape into a book or my laptop but the Forum was very crowded and I was still a little stung by the grievances.
When the Special *finally* ended to much rejoicing, most of the people who hadn't already left did so. The few guys left (Roman and the blonde girl decided to take a nap on the big chair; seems to be a habit of theirs) began playing _Tekken_. I took the opportunity to go online. (Not much new.) I occasionally got up to watch interesting matchups. One time, I hear someone call 'Andy!' which I ignore (there's another Andy in the forum and even more names which sound a lot like it), but the couch-goers pick it up and I turn around and to my tremendous surprise, there at 10:30 PM in the basement of the Union were 3 people from Fencing club, gawping at the Forum in wonder. It was the really energetic freckled epee guy (whose name I forgot though he obviously didn't forget mine), Erin, and the thinner Asian girl. All are dressed nicely, and I can't help but notice Erin has a good deal of makeup on (which one can imagine made her already very attractive face that much sexier). Apparently Kevin or whatever his name is has long had an interest in fantasy (being a Forbidden Realms and _Magic: The Gathering_ devotee) and some SF; he had heard of the SFF from a professor but had given up finding it years ago, and was shocked and extremely pleased to have finally found it and incidentally me. That it was just down the hall from his regular Friday fencing practices merely heightened the irony. I do my best to describe the resources of the Forum, pointing out particularly large collections and whatnot, and eliciting from him his _Magic_ interest and mentioning that a number of Forumites are likewise _Magic_ devotees. Erin tentatively asks permission to browse the stacks which I give with alacrity. (I am less fumble-tongued than I might have been, but her request is still a relief.) Both her parents are big nerds, Kevin tells me, and she was raised watching all of _Dr. Who_ and whatnot. (I am irked that Kevin knows all about _Dr. Who_. I am feeling positively put upon. Why does every single freaking person seem to have opinions about Dr. Who here? At RIT it was just Zach, which was fine. But Dr. Who seems to be at _Star Wars_ level here - it's bizarre if someone hasn't seen it.) She heads to look at our holdings of some author in the As. Roman sleepily tells her that if she comes around in the afternoon, the librarian will happily make her a card and let her check stuff out. The Asian girl confines her browsing to the graphic novels & comics, eventually pulling out for closer inspection Frank Miller's _300_. I get the impression that she is not nearly as interested as the other two and is simply killing time; the comics are good for killing time because you can simply look at the art quickly. Books aren't so good for random browsing.
Eventually they depart en masse, Kevin effusively taking his parting. I suspect that Kevin & Erin will be back again. If they aren't, I can simply remind them on Friday. I could be fairly subtle about it since I will be stashing my stuff there and dropping in when I go to the water fountain, after all. (I don't care so much about Kevin returning, but I would like Erin to come back. She is easy on the eyes, and gender-balancing the Forum is a good thing. It's surprising we have as many girls as we do. I noticed during Festivus a number of jokes predicated on the girls being girls, not all complimentary, and there were weak efforts to make them participate in Feats of Strength - with each other, of course, not the guys - all of which I suspect, from my readings about gender disparities in STEM fields, made the girls uncomfortable.)
I suggested we switch to _Soul Calibur_. Around 11:20 PM I joined in the _Soul Calibur IV_ matches. Made a reasonable showing as Seung Mina my first match but still lost. Won the second, lost the third against a very annoying character. They played a few matches without me and then we closed the Forum after a brief search for Roman and blonde-girl (found in the fencing room, no doubt for greater privacy) since they had left their stuff behind.
Sunday morning at 9 AM there is some yoga class at the Wang Center I wanted to try, so I really shouldn't be still typing this up at 12:54 AM. But vivid and long as days like these are, I know the memories will fade quickly and smear into indistinguishability. Life can be rough. (For example, it seems a little unfair that being unsociable affects one's life expectancy as badly as, or even worse than, smoking! What if I don't want to be social? What if I worry about Forumites noticing me being present too much? But nevertheless, avoiding events like these means I would put myself at significant risk of depression and over the long term increases my vulnerability to illness and general morbidity.)
# Day 34
5 December, Sunday
# Day 35
6 December, Monday
# Day 36
7 December, Tuesday
Woke up relatively early. Having more problems with ventilation - I can increasingly feel the cold air thrusting in and it's now disturbing my sleep. So, since I expect to drive Molly to Ronkonkoma home, I figure I'll check the basement for the spray can of insulation I used to plug the hole in my wall when I ran an Ethernet cable up to the second floor; if I don't, I'll buy one at Home Depot on the way (can't be more than $10 or so).
Keeping in mind Nadine's animadversions yesterday, I decide to spend my afternoon in the library. (The Wang Center's gift shop is still closed when I get there so no tea. Apparently the gift shop does not follow the hours posted on the website - not the first time the website has lied to me.) It's fairly productive; I read the economic Google papers, the paper on unconventional warfare in post-North Korea (unconvincing), a novel (_The Alchemist_), caught up on all my Mnemosyne review, and actually got in 5 decent rounds of n-backing.
Then went to the forum. Most interesting event there was Barry returning from Trader Joe's with soda, specifically, *pomegranate* soda. I chipped in my 50 cents and had one. It was much better than the celery soda last week!
My calendar told me that tonight was the first of the free jazz concerts, and it started an hour after fencing. There's no point going to fencing for the first hour, so I picked the concert. (Fencing would've been more of the same, while I didn't know what to expect from this concert.)
The concert was in 3 sections. The first was a few grad students playing, well, jazz. Kind of strange experimental jazz, though, that I didn't quite get (especially one segment where they made all their sounds in unconventional ways - for example, the bass cellist spent some time beating the end of a cable against the floor). The second section was 14 grad students all playing discordantly and apparently separately, sometimes switching instruments. (The percussionist did this quite often, switching from the big drum to slide-whistle to other instruments I couldn't see.) The third section was the payoff - a jazz band with the SF Forum's Jessica Black as singer. I especially enjoyed their first piece, "St. Louis Blues". Everyone seemed to, actually; the applause during the trumpet solo (not that he wasn't very good and didn't deserve it) was louder than for anything previously. The other 3 songs were enjoyable too. Jessica's voice really surprised me. She had a sort of deep twisting voice I associate more with large black women than short long-haired blonde girls. But there you have it! She made one or two obvious mistakes, but it's not as if I was there to grade her.
Back at the Forum, a heated session of _Dr. Who_ roleplaying was embroiled in the hunt for Cybermen on Mars. Or something. (I really need to watch at least the remake of _Dr. Who_.) I tried to talk about the jazz concert, but no one cared.
I overnight at home since I know I wouldn't get up in time.
# Day 37
8 December, Wednesday
Managed to wake up early, helped by the insinuating little rivers of cold air. Damn convection! Radiation is a non-issue, and I can handle conduction, but convection really does a number. Since Molly doesn't have to wake me up, I get breakfast in peace and have time to find a bottle of insulating foam in the basement exactly where I hoped it'd be. There was also one in the kitchen, I notice. The day is going well, and even Molly stiffing me 2 of the promised 4 chocolate truffles doesn't bother me; nor is my mood dented by the drive to Ronkonkoma and back. (For a wonder, merging back onto Nichols is not the near-miss almost-died event it was last time. Not that my driving has improved - just lighter traffic.)
The parking lot is a bit crowded with buses, but I decide to apply the foam then and there, since fumes concern me a little and the label says it needs 8 hours to cure. I put the plastic straw on and press hard... and nothing. I scrutinize the directions several times, looking for a missed step. Nothing. It should just work. But there's not even the slightest bit of give to hint that I am doing it right. I puzzle around for a while, taking the tube on and off and pushing in various directions. It is stiff as a steel rod. Is it frozen? It was in the house, and then in my pocket, and then in the warm car, so it seems implausible. (And does liquid foam freeze?) I screw the tube on again - but this time it snaps off! Woe! I've used this stuff in the past. It makes a huge mess if you let it. I *need* a tight seal between container and dispenser to avoid disaster. Basically, it's now useless, as much a danger to me and my stuff as it could have been helpful. But I can at least try to figure out what to do for next time. There seems to be a stiff rubber circle around the nozzle, so I take my multitool and cut it away on the theory that it's some sort of blockage or structural support or bar. It isn't. Finally, I just take the nozzle and hit it sharply against the ground. Maybe if it goes in a little bit, a lot will come out. The rap pushes the nozzle in somewhat and seems to have broken some sort of logjam because foam started oozing out. Well, I could work with that. Obviously the contents are under pressure and by pushing down more will come out; I should at least try using the broken straw before trashing what must have been $10 or so. I fill up one easily accessible hole in the trunk's lid, but as I had expected, the treacherous foam had leaked out of the gap between straw and canister and onto my fingers and bade fair to leak onto my clothes (both the ones I was wearing and the ones in the trunk).
So I gave up, and left for the gym without my stuff and lunch but with the wrapper and accoutrements of the spray can, chucking it post-haste. (I wonder what will happen to the can in the future if it is not crushed by the garbage men, will air glacially slowly leak in and activate the foam contents or will the contents slowly leak out or will it simply burst on some especially humid day?)
Gym is boring. I do the same run as usual, and it's a little easier than before. There's an old man jogging at the same time, wearing a pair of Vibram Five-finger shoes. I feel a bit smug since Vibram shoes are usually bought by devotees of running naturally and the most natural running there is is barefoot jogging - exactly what I am doing. In the exercise room, I try punches again but no dice (knuckles still not nearly tough enough). I think Xristos noticed me, or at least I thought I saw him up on the walkway while I was stretching. His office is just around the corner from the racquetball courts. I visit him when done to ask him where I could buy a pin for the weight-lifting machines, but he's out and out still after my shower. Oh well.
Back to the car for my gear! To console myself for the loss of the insulation, I finally take a closer look at the sleeping bag's zipper problem. To my surprise, it turns out to not be a problem at all. What I had taken for a zipper put on *backwards* by some fool (probably myself) turns out to just be one of two zippers, which collectively allow the sleeping bag to be zipped up perfectly well. I'm not sure why the manufacturer chose such a design since I don't see any utility to it (maybe it allows easier repair?), but to prevent this from being a problem again, I zip up the bag and I lock the backwards zipper in place at the very bottom by running 3 intertwined safety pins through the zipper material just above it. (One safety pin would come loose and be a danger, but I found that multiple safety pins are quite sturdy and safe.) This restores a good bit of my mood, and I hie off to the Wang Center.
At the Center, the gift store is actually open, and has a sort of black tea on offer - a second-flush [Darjeeling tea](!Wikipedia). (The description mentions its champagne flavor, like some of the other descriptions. I am beginning to wonder whether the descriptions are accurate.) It hovers between like and dislike for me, so I browse the gift shop while I taste it. There was actually some nice stuff there. What looked like a good set of Korean flashcards; a decent anthology of English haiku; a book of Korean courtly paintings; and so on. I eventually sneak a cup while mentally noting down the first two for later looking. Below the gift store is some sort of event (involving red watch bands and drunk driving?) with taco catering. It seems like a loose gathering, so despite the chatter and the presence of two amiable policemen, I venture down with my tea, ostensibly to look at the comment book for the flag artwork (my comment is still the last comment), but really to see how everyone reacted to me conspicuously passing through. No one really looked at me or objected, so I returned and had 4 soft tacos (mostly refried beans; I was thinking about pretending to be a vegetarian and asking questions of the lady who seemed to be in charge, but wound up not bothering). They were pretty good. Certainly an unlooked for treat.
At the Forum, I was told the Jewish table up on the first floor was not charging for its jelly donuts but giving them away. Well, say no more. (They also had an expired guess-the-number-of-latkes-in-the-jar contest; I guessed 290 and was informed the true value had been 461. I was shocked at my failure.) I go online and see some good criticism of my "[Suzanne Delage]()" article, but punt and read news until reading time starts (I pick out a funny book by Italo Calvino about a non-existent knight), and a little after 4 I go to the lecture on magic in the Humanities building. The room is incredibly packed, standing room only. A number of philosophy people are there - short Bob Crease, an older looking Patrick Grim, even Randy Dible is there. The lecture is pretty interesting although it was mostly the magician performing tricks and demonstrating optical illusions with some scientific talk mixed in. At least he seemed to appreciate David Hume! Major props in my book for understanding how Hume's point about how correlation != causality, how we are tempted to equate them, and how much of magic exploits our habitual equation. Afterwards there was even a little wine and cheese. (One funny incident during the lecture: while trying to bring up YouTube for a clip from [_Casino Royale_](!Wikipedia "Casino Royale (2006 film)") to demonstrate some point about bodily proximity and emotion, he accidentally uncovered a video of a porn star [Sunny Leone](!Wikipedia), according to the URL. Possibly a problem with advertising, except the URL in the address bar that I saw ended in a '.wmv' - it was a direct link to a video, which is not something spyware would do. It would seem our magician likes his girls exotic and doesn't practice good web browsing hygiene.)
I talked a fair bit with Randy. (Still working at hotel, about to graduate and go to New Mexico or somewhere, still into drugs (asking whether I had any modafinil - I didn't), not actually divorced yet.) That was fun. We parted at Harriman since he had the last class in some course there.
At the library, I run through Mnemosyne and some n-backing. At 9 I head back to the Forum. I watch my favorite episode of _Samurai Jack_, "Four Seasons of Death". I munch some of Molly's chocolate. In one interesting interlude, a middle-aged guy comes in with some CD or DVDs, saying he is dropping off the latest batch of episodes of the Forum radio show. Everyone goes what? We have a radio show? Apparently it's been running since the 1980s or something. The guys had even found the old reel-to-reel tape archives while moving the Forum from Harriman to the Student Union (but had no idea what they were). The old guy talked about it for a while, soliciting a little help generating content. (Adib offers technical help, but the guy has been editing the show for 23 years - though they only got a computer in *2003*! - and doesn't need that kind of help.) I go online and actually deal with the Delage criticisms and read all of my RSS for the day. The girl who keeps talking to me spends a while talking about her personal problems, how she will at best make a C average this year, her parents are divorcing, SBU's tuition has increased significantly, she suffers from depression and [SAD](!Wikipedia), and so on. This confirms my suspicion that she had problems and this was why she keeps talking to me even though I am clearly uninterested in what she has to say. Eventually she wearies of the topic (perhaps after my not-so-subtle hints that I have always found empathy to be hard and especially hard in her case because she's taking what I consider to be an easy load of humanities courses like anthropology) and decamps for her dorm-room, there to continue her futile work on her papers. 11:30 rolls around. Not my most productive day but given how much happened, still very interesting.
# Day 38
9 December, Thursday
The zipped up sleeping bag really is much nicer than it unzipped, but in a way it only exacerbates the problem where my face and breath can be warm but suffocating or my face and breath can be fresh but freezing. The ultimate solution to this will be insulating the cracks so I can expose my face (since the trunk will still have enough holes to let fresh air in but the air will be sufficiently stagnant for me to warm it up). Anyway, it's better than previous days so I wind up tossing and turning all the way to 1 PM! In part this was due to the extreme darkness underneath the sleeping bag - in my room, I would be bothered by the light as early as 6 or 7 AM, but the trunk is much darker than what my curtains ever could do - and in part due to not being sure what I want to do today. Do I go to fencing? Go club? Or the events in the SAC with its free food, massage therapists, and showing of _[Toy Story 3](!Wikipedia)_? I've already skipped fencing once this week (for the jazz concert) so I'd feel bad skipping it again, but I haven't been to Go club at all in weeks, so perhaps that has the stronger claim. Eventually I decide that I'll go to the SAC first around 7 to see what is there, consume what I can before 7:30, scarper off to fencing, then hurry from fencing to the tail end of Go club. Phew!
My conundrum resolved, I finally get up. There was a great deal of condensation on the trunk's roof, so I was expecting some nasty rain, but nope, it's quite a nice day, blue sky and scudding white clouds, minimal breeze and if anything, warmer than yesterday. The Outer Loop bus shows up fairly quickly too, before I make it to the train station, and the Wang Center gift shop is open when I get there too (same tea, so I grab some more). The tables below aren't too crowded so I unaccustomedly grab one and do some more work on this. At this point I discover that I had left behind in the car the napkin with all the reminders and to-dos I had made while eating tacos yesterday. _Zut alors_! Well, I write what I can from memory. At one point I am accosted by an old Asian woman, who I eventually figure out is asking whether I am Christian (to avoid trouble, I say I am) and whether I am interested in Bible study (I am not). It's awkward since looking at her I assume she's Korean and asking for directions to a Bible study group and it takes me a while to figure out that the situation is the opposite. She walks off quickly, so I assume she feels embarrassed as well. I hope I won't suffer this sort of thing in South Korea. (The situation, much like the Jehovah's witnesses a few weeks ago, later strikes me as kind of funny. I am clearly Caucasian, so if I am not Christian, what am I? Was she hoping for an argument with an atheist or something?)
From Wang I went to the Forum, of course. Roman was playing _Modern Warfare_ and turning in a remarkable performance as a sniper on an Afghanistan valley map. foucist from LW accosted me in Google chat, and I spent a great deal of time discussing things with him. At 6:30 I left for the SAC and ran into Barry along the way; together we searched for the free food, but eventually inspected a poster closely and found it was tomorrow!
So I left for the gym. Getting there early meant I had more time to stretch. There was Phil, who asked me if I did martial arts. He hadn't remembered seeing me in the Taekwondo class until I reminded him. Maybe he'll come back next year. Erin showed up early, claiming she would be sitting out entirely. (She skipped warmups but certainly did fence...) There were equipment snafus like the gloves being forgotten, and so there was a great deal of chatting. For example, Erin and Brian (the guy who had showed up at the Forum with Erin and the other girl) were physically close, and they made the mistake of asking what I was thinking when I was looking at them; I told them they looked like siblings (which they do because of the similar hair and faces) and they reacted with horror. I hadn't been sure until then but I realized their exaggerated reaction meant that they were surely romantically connected. I had chosen that comment specifically for that purpose and was gratified it was successful. It reassures me that I'm not becoming a social troglodyte. (Not every probe works so well. Yesterday I had steered the conversation with Randy to his clothes and then humorously asked the girl near him - Victoria, a short cute Indian type who had been in my Asian-American Philosophy class previously - whether it was her doing. I took her confusion as evidence that she was not connected with Randy and I had been misled, but I asked Randy later and he said they were something of an item; so I figure she simply hadn't been paying attention to me and Randy as she dug into the cheese and crackers.) The fencing itself was dull because there was only 1 other foil. I didn't do well with him. I think I'm getting too bored with foil to really do it well. So I kicked off at 9:30 after decisively losing a match with him, took a shower, and stopped in at Go club. There were chocolate pretzels. As I ate them, I watched a game conclude between the president and Ken Jennings (as I call him). They're both really good, past my level. I couldn't understand half the sequences they were making to finish up the endgame. Sergey said Jennings would be 1 Dan soon. An exaggeration, but I suspect he could be 1 Dan (in skill, if not official certification) in a few years. Since I didn't want to play a game, I watched two beginners' game and then left. The Forumites were running a RPG session of _Shadowrun_. I began work on converting the index page of to a different tabular format and then adding summaries to each link. Very tedious and killed the last hour quickly.
Another cold night. Literally cold enough that my trunk seemed to've frosted shut, and took multiple clicks to open. Very worrisome. What if it does that while I'm still inside? My assurances to Susan that the risk was negligible were correct, but I mentally had hedged since I didn't know how snow or ice would affect it. Well, the zipped up sleeping bag is still adequately warm, and placing the spare blanket over my face seems to strike the right balance between stifling and freezing. I still intend to use the insulating foam, though.
# Day 39
10 December, Friday
I sleep in again since I have nothing urgent today. When packing lunch, I'm surprised that my carrots are frozen. I hadn't realized night temperatures were falling that far.
The massage therapists are booked, literally. I decline to make an appointment for in a few hours, and just check out the ballroom. A number of fun little activities (somewhere they found a triangle-shaped air hockey table), but all 40 or 50 pizza boxes sit forlornly piled up empty. Somehow they were all eaten in an hour... So I go and watch the movie instead, as much as it irritates me every time someone blames or criticizes Andy inside the movie.
_Toy Story 3_ surprises me with how good it is. The plot initially seems to be something of a repetition of _Toy Story 2_, but it's all done so well - there are clever palette shifts and interesting graphical effects and quick allusions and all sorts of things like that which you would have to be a film scholar to pick out and name. This reminds me of something Charles Murray writes in _Human Accomplishment_ and Neal Stephenson echoes in _In the beginning... was the command line_: in the 20th and 21st century, America is the cultural center of the world and though it produce little *great* art, high art, on par with Renaissance Italy or other notable periods, it produces the best damn pop art the world has ever seen with the greatest production values and most refinement. Something like _Toy Story 3_ illustrates the point beautifully.
At the Forum I grab Tim Powers's _The Anubis Gate_, which is an apt choice being a time travel novel since the Forumites have on some _Dr. Who_ episodes. I watch part of one involving possessing spirits seeking the Doctor's immortality, and watch all of a second one involving hapless Londoners being sent back in time by strange angel-assassins who are trying to steal the Doctor's time machine to eat its powers (or something). I give the first one something of a pass because most of it is about the Doctor forgetting everything and *not* using his powers, but I have to criticize the second one fiercely - characters say things like "I'm clever" and then proceed to ask a question answered 20 seconds ago, or the angel-assassins are trapped by a trick which makes no explanation given the explanation of their powers, or people are afraid to blink lest the angels sneak up on them and somehow never think to blink one eye at a time. All very stupid, and I had expected much better from _Dr. Who_. It's one thing if the mistakes are part of the humor in a fourth-wall sense like with _Monty Python_ or _Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy_ but that doesn't seem to be the case with _Dr. Who_.
Leaving the Forum, I discover an entire pizza box with nearly a full pie just sitting neatly on top of our trash can. Naturally, I start eating some. No one else wants one though I point out that the slices are perfectly clean and as good as cold cheese pizza can be; they claim paranoia about people out to poison the worst of the Forum (an absurd point since any such assassin would simply waltz in and give us the poisoned foodstuffs), but I think it's just no one there has broken their superstitions about things that come from the trash. If they had, they would have no problem eating the pizza since the pizza is as safe and good to eat as if it had been sitting on a table in the forum. Well, their loss. It makes up for missing pizza in the SAC. Indeed, I feel quite cheerful as I head back to my car. It's warmer than last night, I think. And there's a free breakfast in the SAC tomorrow to go with my free pizza. It's hard to remind myself that this abundance will not last, that there will be a long dearth of freebies when the holidays and Winter Session roll around.
# Day 40
11 December, Saturday
I wake up even before my alarm clock tells me to. I'm worried if I wait until noon, even though that is an hour before the announced end-time, all the food will be gone. The parking lot is scarily empty, and yet another Suffolk bus is parked perpendicularly at the end of the lot. Did the driver see me? Did they see me and care? I hate not knowing. I pop out in no more than a second or two, yet if you were looking right at me, you'd see everything.
I hurry to breakfast. It's there though I almost miss it. The ballroom is dark as hades, since besides breakfast there is a movie playing and the lights have been turned off. At first I think it's home movies or a student film (little child actors talking with painful enunciation and complexity) but then it begins to look familiar; _Little Rascals_, I think it was. A very strange film choice. The food is good - I get the last of the OJ and then some fairly decent scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit salad. I don't like _Little Rascals_ but it's tolerable breakfast fare. The second time I get what I thought were potato things but were actually sausages. This is good because I feel hungry for protein. Peanut butter may be meeting my protein needs, but I still hunger for it. The third time I go back, their shortages have become acute and I'm told no seconds. Oh well. The fruit salad is also gone, so I settle for 2 bagels and cream cheese. As I finish them, the movie finishes as well, and I leave for the library.
Spent most of my time reading a RAND study on de-radicalization of Islamic militants. Mostly seems good and I agree with it, but there were some strange lines which seem to reflect strange presuppositions; for example, "First, European nations must carefully select their partners in the Muslim community to ensure that they are working with authentic voices with grassroots support and not those who promote values contrary to liberal democracy" rather assumes that European Muslim communities universally hold values compatible with liberal democracy which would seem to be rather a strong assumption. (I also transcribed a Gene Wolfe story, did yesterday and today's Mnemosyne review, 5 rounds of n-backing, the 4 mental rotation exercises, read some of a number of ireader buffers in Yi, and deleted the new PDFs which turned out to be too difficult for me.) At 4:30 I left the library for what was supposed to be a short stop at the Forum. 'Nadib' was watching some movie; I worked through some online to-dos and did usual daily stuff like RSS or my slow reading of the Eva ML archives. Relatively few replies to any of my recent emails like to Molly or Aunt Laura.
Around 7 or 8 I went back to my car, eat a bunch of pizza, finished watching _Akagi_ (totally lame ending - no defeat of the big boss, just a grandiloquent flashforward to the 1990s; I shan't be looking for more _Akagi_ to watch. Hopefully _Liar Game_ will be a better entry in the 'betting your life' subgenre), went to the gym, which was filled with chairs for the December graduation. (I don't remember when mine was. Would they hold the ceremony before Finals week is even started?) No one bothered me as I did my usual run. Now that I've run through this 10 lap thing several times, I'm noticing some things like how I favor my left leg or how starting is very difficult but then I seem to sort of get into the swing of things and laps seem to tire me a little until the feeling of infinite endurance disappears around lap 7. Again the usual routine in the exercise room (100 palm and elbow strikes for each arm, 80 push ups, 160 sit ups, and a full round of meditation).
When I finally get back to the Forum, Nadine and Adib are watching this horror film called _[Human Centipede](!Wikipedia)_; I come in at the final disgusting scenes. The central biological conceit is worthy of the best (worst?) Japanese horror films, but I'm told it isn't Japanese when I guess. (Wikipedia tells me that it was actually Dutch but the filmmaker has acknowledged Japanese influences, so I am partially right.) I spend a good chunk of time on the December LW quotes thread (I like to read them after they've had a chance to ripen for a while) and submit a few and argue others and cite still others. But I can't procrastinate forever, and I have new words to add to Mnemosyne like 'Paschal' and 'tansu', which takes up the rest of the night such as it is. (I take breaks with AMVs on YouTube. They're a minor art form, but I think they can be much more interesting than the collages and pastiches that are their closest analogues in 'high art'.)
The night is quite warm, as the day was. I barely feel the need to put on my gloves, and don't miss my scarf at all. I think tomorrow's plan will be to try to get up early if I can and check out the _tai chi_ class in the Wang Center, work out at the Gym if it isn't off-limits due to graduation, and then head home. Ought to give Mass a complete miss. At home I can grab the insulating foam and do that while I'm still close to Home Depot, and call that sporting goods store by Wal-mart to see whether they have pins for weight machines so I can replace fencing/Taekwondo during the winter break with weight lifting.
# Day 41
12 December, Sunday
massive rain. miss tai chi. mentally was off an hour anyway.
arrive home without problem. everyone home - no church? making various kinds of cookies. I help a little. read paper, feel out of touch but not really any worse for it (pace Thoreau).
on computer, knock off bunches of tasks like Bostrom email, upgrading per John's email to fix broken linking in Pandoc, sending in more capable linking to Hakyll (finally!), and actually adding pronunciation for all outstanding Mnemosyne words. also spend a long while processing new Korean flashcards DigitalSoju added. no dinner since we watched _How The Grinch Stole Christmas_ instead (the cartoon, not the movie). had a decent making-of extra to counterbalance crappy DVD extras. also read through a webcomic (which mentioned Aaron Clark/Evamonkey surprisingly often) about obscure anime. was fun but bad connection problems with WiFi means all the above took ridiculously long time.
insulate trunk. as messy as I expected and ruined my favorite blue dress shirt. dunno how well it worked. night is so warm thanks to the rain that I don't need it or the sleeping bag. will see. didn't get weightlifting pin because of rain, will do it tomorrow.
in the car, finish FLCL manga (could that really have been such shit as it seemed to be? anime was so good), read some Gunslinger Girl, and then listen to Ode to Joy because read that chapter of GSG.
while listening to Ode, muse some more about culture and diversity. like algae blooms when limiting nutrient lifted only to quickly die back? like algorithms compromising between depth and breadth? how much is too much of a good thing?
# Day 42
13 December, Monday
Lots of dreams, although as usual after completely rearranging the trunk, I felt that it was uncomfortable fitting in diagonally. My discomfort may've stemmed from the trunk being *too* warm, since I was half out of the sleeping bag by 11:30 when I began thinking about getting out. In what was good timing, Susan banged on it to invite me to lunch at a local smoothie/soup place. I had a barley turkey soup. It was pretty good. At King Kullen I didn't get any oatmeal or peanut butter since I've not used what I bought the last week; I only bought some bananas, carrots, and black beans for $6. The other purchase was a weight machine pin, but Modell's over by Wal-mart didn't have any; I even drove all the way out to Sports Authority but they didn't have any either! It wasn't a matter of only having Nautilus pins or whatever - they just sold none at all. Well.
So I got to campus fairly late, a little depressed under the warm dark skies. I stopped in the gym but Xristo wasn't there, and the guy I accosted in the weight room wasn't very clear about how I got a pin. (Something to do with 'trainers' somewhere.) I poked my head in the varsity weight room, and there was a *lot* of big guys and equipment in there. A pretty clear double standard, and one that doesn't make sense - I mean, most regular people use the Wellness Center in the SAC, the general weight room in the gym is usually deserted. No one was upstairs either to answer my question, so I just went to the Wang Center. (It began sprinkling lightly.) The gift shop was selling that disgusting cookie black tea again rather than that nice apple green tea, so I gave that a clean miss. I visited some sort of deserted outside gallery, which is a big vertical concrete rectangle with vines going up it with no roof, upon which all the meetings rooms face. It made a good meditation spot, so I may visit it again. Cold stone, though. The stones remember the average temperature for this month very well.
At some point in the forum, Jessica pulled out a CD with recordings of the jazz concert last week. I was a little creeped out to see my head shown prominently in the recording - the person was evidently sitting just a row or two behind me. (I also feel glad that I had showered that day and my hair was nice and curly.) Jessica solicits my opinion on the performance, which is pretty much as I recorded last week, and explains that her mistake was due to a change in the ordering of solos, which makes sense.
I alternate between reading Tim Powers's _[The Anubis Gates](!Wikipedia)_ and computer and listening to people and discussing some things. The book turns out to be better than I had expected it to be - Powers takes some of the cleverer routes possible with a time travel and body swapping tale. The time passes quickly until 7:20 PM when I left for the gym.
At the gym, I am shocked and appalled to see that my canvas bag has disappeared from my locker, along with the lock, TKD uniform, and bag of toiletries. I am quite distressed - nothing in it was irreplaceable, but the TKD uniform is probably going to be at least $60 - and also angry at myself, since I clearly remember me thinking to myself that I need to lock the locker after I change my shirt. (I am doubly angry because this wasn't my first careless mistake recently. I had also managed to lock my car keys in the trunk after doing the insulation. Fortunately, I hadn't locked the car as I usually did, and my second set of keys was accessible.) Well, the sweaty t-shirt was still there, but nothing else. Hoping that my stuff had merely been moved rather than outright stolen, I spend an hour or so carefully looking at every locker and lock in the locker room and checking with the gym's lost & found. Nothing. I still find it hard to believe that my stuff was stolen: there was nothing of value in it to random people - what would you do with some half-used up soap or a sweaty Taekwondo uniform that probably doesn't fit you or a combination lock whose combination you don't know?
Completely messed up my night. I check in the gym to see whether fencing was around; turns out that the meticulously organized desk-chairs *weren't* for commencement (which I had already inferred because the signs in the Wang Center about picking up graduation tickets were all for the future) but for some set of math or science tests (judging from the heavily Asian throng). That resolves that anomaly; I had thought that the arrangement made little sense for a graduation. But naturally fencing was not meeting, and I couldn't even use the indoor running track for security reasons.
I head back to the Forum. Distressed, I putter around with adding summaries to my website's index/homepage (a difficult task because of the tabular format). We closed up shop early that night since no one else was really doing anything either. I went out the back entrance to go to the commuter lounge and continue work on the index and also an old poem of mine, when through the windows I see an incredible crowd of students in muftis eating food and chatting at tables. At around 11 PM. There's an even longer line of students out the Union doors. Nor is there any particular ethnicity or dress. I reason this means it's a general event and ask a person on the line who gives a similar answer. It's actually the 'Midnight Breakfast', where apparently faculty help out with dishing out the breakfast foods to students. Nice event. Looking at the huge line, I reason further that there's no way the line would be disposed of in an hour and the very name indicates it will go on for quite a while, so I go to the lounge and work for an hour.
When I come back to the Union, the line is much more reasonable (and all indoors!), and I get my meal ticket (literally) with a wave of ID. On line, I see Jessica flash by in an apron. (I ask her the next day when I
see her and her friend eating in the Wang Center; it was her.) The food is pretty much as expected: scrambled eggs, odd bacon, breakfast sausage, and fruit. Lots of fruit. One saucy lad exits with an entire bunch of bananas brazenly clutched in his fist. After the regular foods, there's a line for oatmeal (decent; I have some mixed with brown sugar and cranberries), a 'bakery' (mostly those quasi-danish things with raspberry or grape fillings; terrible! 'twould've been better were they simply Dunkin' Donuts), and a bagel line (decent bagels, and nice toppings; I like their vegetable cream cheese and discover that hummus is a good bagel schmeer). I see one other Forumite there, but I'm not sure he recognizes me. By the time I've eaten everything and got my bagels smeared with their toppings, I was pretty full, and it was close to 1 AM, so I headed out. Not a great idea. The rain had long since turned to light snow borne on a nasty whipping wind, and I only had my hat and no scarf. It was a punishing walk back, and trying to eat the bagels didn't help. (Note to self: in the future, eat everything *before* you go out into the cold.)
At my car, the snow has drifted and coated it fairly thoroughly. I doodle for a while, still a little upset about the stolen gear, and notice that there's a lot of car traffic. A ridiculous lot. It's constant. And something like a dozen cars and SUVs decide that my parking lot is a shortcut around the dastardly speed-limit-followers slowing them down. Which of course isn't true but distracts me constantly as I look at them to see whether it is po-pos making a swing through the parking lot. Even at 2 AM they're still coming! At some point I hop out and begin cleaning all the windows; might as well occupy my time usefully. That done, I get fed up. Though I can see distant oncoming headlights through the windows of the neighboring parked cards and there was a shadowy figure moving at the end of the lot (towards the train station), I swing into my trunk anyway. Finally!
# Day 43
14 December, Tuesday
The air was quite cold in the trunk, and I still haven't adjusted to the new location of all the clothes, so it's still a bit uncomfortable. So while I didn't have much cold problem in the sleeping bag, I continued to have the cold/hot problem. Perhaps because of this I would up sleeping in to 2:30 PM! It's really easy to lose track of time in the dark trunk since I've blocked most of the light (air) sources and even nightvision-adjusted eyes can see very little. I need to start setting my alarm later so I at least have a sense of how much I've overslept. Part of the problem with oversleeping is I can have some pretty unpleasant dreams when I oversleep (although they seem to be worse), such as one in which I am picking a swarm of rats off Susan and killing them by slamming them into the ground; after what feels like hundreds of these, I grab the last one and angrily smash it down very hard, but its intestines (white and clean, fortunately) spill out. Ick! That was the worst one, I think, since I can still remember it.
I appraise the situation as far as gym goes. Neither TKD nor fencing will meet again for a long time. I am exercising on my own in the gym. I also need shower gear. This reduces down to the need for a flexible pair of pants, a t-shirt, soap, and a lock. (Shaving can take a hike for a week or two.) I have one pair of sweatpants, plenty of t-shirts, a few boxes of soap, and one last combination lock. (The SAHS locks came in pairs or something.) That will do; 'sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof', as the Good Book says.
I go to the gym first. Left the t-shirt behind, but the treadmill doesn't care that I'm wearing long sleeves. Walking on the treadmill turns out to be unexpectedly challenging. Maybe I'm not used to being so constricted. I work up a good sweat on a mile at a grade of 7 or 8 degrees, and take a shower. The gym office isn't open so I can't check lost & found again.
Nothing interesting at the Wang Center (a harpsichord recital scheduled for who knows when); I finally try the cookie black tea. It is almost as bad as I expected. Jessica and a Pakistani/Indian girl friend are eating there, so I awkwardly interact with them and head back to the Forum.
At the Forum, the usual online business, Mnemosyne, a nap - and I sign up at [MyAnimeList](!Wikipedia) when I discover it does support exporting your data. MAL is basically like [LibraryThing](!Wikipedia)[^library] except for anime & manga. I've watched so much anime that I'm never sure what to watch next or what I have already watched; I've meant to make a list, but these things are unrewarding. MAL is a decent enough interface that after I finally finish summaries for the homepage, I proceed to list and rate ~220 anime and manga I've watched in whole or part. (Mostly whole...) I test out the export functionality too, to make sure it works as advertised. Rating anime can be somewhat addictive, since you don't often compare many anime. (How would I rank [_Kanon_](!Wikipedia) versus [_Da Capo_](!Wikipedia) versus [_Clannad_](!Wikipedia) versus [_School Days_](!Wikipedia)? Hm. Is a mediocre Miyazaki movie like [_Castle of Cagliostro_](!Wikipedia) better than a fantastic school romance-comedy series like [_Toradora!_](!Wikipedia), and how did I like, relatively speaking, the 3 seasons of [_Full Metal Panic_](!Wikipedia) or the various seasons of [_Higurashi no naku koro ni_](!Wikipedia)?)
Late that night I discover that the [Indie Bundle 2](!Wikipedia) has been released and _[Braid](!Wikipedia "Braid (video game)")_ for Linux is included! Well, it's a bargain, and it's charitable, so I plunk down $15 immediately for the bundle. It all takes a while to download, and only finishes shortly before the Forum closes. Something to look forward to tomorrow.
The weather is milder tonight, the walk back more pleasant. Finals week is coming to an end. If I want to bring in donuts, I need to do it tomorrow because everyone is leaving on Thursday and Friday, pretty much. (Traffic is much lighter today, which perplexes me.)
# Day 44
15 December, Wednesday
Another uncomfortable night. My feet never feel warm, which bothers me. I ultimately sort of sleep by wrapping the spare blanket on top of me. Tonight I'll try to do that from the start so I can really sleep. (I have little doubt a Zeo would tell me that I was sleeping in several phases.) I hop out at 11:30 or so.
I pack up fresh clothes to take to the gym. My black Dockers pants have a big rip in the bottom, which really bothers me, so I grab the other pair. Then I walk to the railroad station where the Railroad bus is loitering. It's pretty cold out.
At the gym, I am in for a shock. My canvas bag has been placed in the empty locker next to my (locked) locker. Why? Who? I check the contents. The lock is still there, as is the full TKD uniform. But the toiletry bag is not there, nor in any neighboring lockers. Puzzling, I put on my uniform and experience another shock - the uniform is *clean*. It doesn't smell. It looks white. I'm certain of it as I sniff the armpit region; whomever stole my stuff took the trouble to launder it. This is very confusing to me. I can understand taking none of my stuff; I can understand taking all of it; I can even understand taking all of it and then returning all of it (remorse, or teaching me a lesson hacker-style) - I can't understand taking it all, cleaning some of it, returning most of it, and stealing the least valuable part. Is my used toothbrush and soap, my salt deodorant, or my little black travel bag really that valuable to the unknown thief?
Confused as I am, I remember to be grateful. As I said before, the TKD uniform would likely have cost upwards of $60 to replace and the lock another 410 or $20. The toiletries much less. So compared to where I stood yesterday, I am as better off as I would be if someone walked up to me and handed me a $100 bill for no reason. (Economics teaches us that avoiding a loss of $1 is as good as realizing a gain of $1; in both cases, compared to the counterfactual, one is wealthier by $1. A penny saved truly is a penny earned.) All this puts me in a pretty good mood.
The arena is still locked up, but they omitted to lock the ground-level doors because they are handling pallet shipments of some sort; I simply walk in, go up, and start jogging. No one cares. I do the usual 10 laps. A bit more difficult than usual, I feel, perhaps because yesterday wasn't as tough or maybe soreness from sleeping in the trunk. Xristos is around in his office, but since I no longer need a replacement uniform, I don't bother him. Heading back from running is quite funny; he is talking with the same old lady as in his office, with his back to me, and he manages to smoothly pivot around the corner and go outside without once seeing me. If I hadn't been watching him the entire time, I would have sworn he knew I was there and orchestrated the whole thing just to avoid catching my eye.
I largely punt on the exercise room, only doing a third, since I feel hungry and want some tea. The Wang Center has nothing interesting going on, but the tea today was this interesting green tea matcha flavored with vanilla and strawberry. It's far from my favorite tea flavor, but it's drinkable and a major improvement over the cookie black tea.
It goes cold on the way to the Forum. Roman is playing _Modern Warfare_ again, as he will for hours to come, spewing profanity. I originally intend to spend only enough time there to cover online, but then Barry brings up the [Indie Bundle](!Wikipedia) 2 and we spend a while discussing it and Linux, and of course then I install _Braid_ and fire it up. The mechanics are pretty solid, making for difficult puzzles indeed, and the art is uniformly impressive. Barry tells me that there should be more soundtracks than I had, and sure enough I did miss one or two downloads.
I also add 70 or so more ratings to MAL, and update my backup. With around 300 ratings, there's enough to really look at the rankings. It's interesting to see what series I never finished, what series and movies I gave rare 10s and 9s to, who I dropped into the depths of the 3s and 4s, and so on. In general, my rankings strike me as pretty sane and covering a wide spectrum. Maybe Molly would be interested in MAL? I'll email her, and Xristos about the pins, tonight perhaps, if I finish my self-assigned tasks offline and return to the Forum before 11:30. (I've given up on donuts. Not enough people are around.)
# Day 45
16 December, Thursday
Stuffing some stuff into the foot of the sleeping bag and wrapping the blanket around me more thoroughly both work pretty well; I sleep more comfortably. What dreams I can remember are a bit more normal - for example, I dream about the husband-wife duo who run the cafe by the former Marshall's divorcing and the wife advertising for help, which I intend to apply for. (Actually, thinking about it a few hours later, I realize that this is yet another false memory: there is no such cafe, no duo, no divorce, and I of course cannot apply for the job. I think the dream probably came from a conflation of a bagel store which was hiring and my visit to the Amazon Cafe with Susan & Bob, since the Amazon Cafe had a number of posters up to the effect that the owners' son was killed in a traffic accident on the local main road, implying a husband-wife duo.)
Perhaps because of the better dreams, I feel in an unusually good mood. I had decided to not get donuts yesterday, but overflowing with calculation and the milk of human kindness, I decide to do it today anyway - if people aren't at the Forum to eat them, I will simply eat them myself. I am not foolishly selecting ones that neither I nor anyone else want to eat like the jelly donuts, after all. (The final selection is 3 Boston Cremes, 3 pink, 3 double-chocolate, a glazed, a gingerbread, and some odd donut.) While walking to the Union, I realize that I can reconcile my desire to spend time in the Wang Center working on my daily tasks with the desire to dispose of the donuts immediately - I simply write 'do not open until 4 PM' on the taped-shut box. The donuts will be as edible as ever, I can go to the Wang Center for a few hours, and best of all, anyone who passes through the Forum will see my name on the donuts. I will gain the favorable publicity twice! A very nifty solution, I reflect.
The solution is even better than I think when I arrive at the Wang Center - it's the strawberry and vanilla green tea again (acceptable), but there's also some presentation in the theater about the hospital getting an ALS center or new services or something, I can see the tables for the reception set up already and the fancy coats hung up outside the theater, and the brochures exhort generous donations. Clearly there will be good food to come.
I grab my cup of tea and set up shop by the entrance in one of the comfy black chairs by a power outlet. The time passes surprisingly quickly, and around 3:30 I have done my typing, Mnemosyne, n-back, and PDF reading for the day. Quite copasetic. The dignitaries and wealthy old people have been trickling out for a while and the roar of conversation has died down, so it's time to go scavenge. The food turns out to be fresh sliced fruit (I particularly like the sliced strawberries and pineapple), those chocolate pastry things with custard filling, and little plastic rectangles filled with alternating layers of chocolate cake and fluff. I steal away to eat my first batch; an old man starts trundling empty dishes into a somewhat concealed room near me. I go back for seconds, and he accosts me, asking whether I am part of the function! Clearly he had noticed me sitting across the fountain-pool from the reception and correctly inferred I was not actually who the food was intended for, but I was even more surprised that he was bold enough to talk to me - I mean, he was putting everything away, the reception was over, so it was not as if any guests were being deprived. Well, I cheerfully pretend to misunderstand and assure him that I was finishing up before I left and I certainly would try to keep out of his way, old chap! I don't think he was very satisfied, but he didn't bother me anymore. But he and the Hispanic lady would soon pack the food away, and the drinks weren't worth bothering with, so my second helping was my list. I headed out, past the endless queue of students lined up for graduation tickets (Barry told me later he was part of said long line, but we didn't see each other), munching on the cream puff finger things, quite satisfied with things. Really, it was too bad this ALS thing hadn't been yesterday, the day I had decided to *not* buy donuts.
At the Forum I promptly hauled out the donuts, but almost everyone refused them (either they had food of their own or were using their hands to play _Modern Warfare_ or _World of Warcraft: Cataclysm_). I was a bit miffed, but after I had one, people started taking them. Some were fairly appreciative. At the end of the night I found the box covered with writing, at least one hand of which was thanking me.
Most of my time in the Forum was working on to-dos I have come up with previously (inputting anime I had watched on Toonami into MAL, eg.), reading Less Wrong discussions I had missed out on (some quite up my alley, like the one on the [Long Now](!Wikipedia)), and going through Wikipedia deletion discussions for anime/manga. (My [CSE]( was, as ever, extremely handy in helping me decide how to vote and finding coverage, once I had invested time in cleaning up the search results by banning useless or irrelevant websites; I am sad to see no one else seems to use it.)
I do read one odd thing in a column in McSweeney's about fighting in Afghanistan; the officer describes an Afghan electrician who is 6 foot tall and weighs 200 pounds and the officer describes him as one of the strongest men he's ever met. This immediately makes me wonder - I am 6 foot on a windy day and weigh 200-210 pounds, but I don't consider myself very strong (somewhat fit, but outclassed by most athletic men, and pretty much any of the guys who frequents the weight room). Now, muscle is much denser than fat is. About 1.5x, IIRC. This implies that if the weight that currently corresponds to my fat were instantly replaced by muscle, my overall volume would shrink considerably to keep my weight (200 pounds) constant. So is this Afghan incredibly thin and dense compared to me? I'm not pudgy, so this fellow would practically have to be able to turn sideways and vanish. Or am I actually much stronger than I think I am and I only think I am weak because I am comparing myself with the genetic freaks and muscle heads who can compete athletically at the collegiate level when I should be comparing myself to a more general population like all the short Asian guys here at SBU? Well, something to think about.
We closed up shop early. I went to the library intending to continue reading _Superior beings: if they exist How Would We Know?: Game-Theoretic Implications of Omnipotence, Omniscience, Immortality, and Incomprehensibility_, by Steven Brams, but it hadn't been restocked. I wound up spending an hour or two reading another philosophy book on theology; it's rather frustrating how theists can just keep adapting their arguments to avoid the falsifying ones. The Yahweh of the Old Testament would be ashamed to identify himself with the being impeccably defended by the likes of Alvin Plantinga.
Around closing time, I headed down to the reading room to read this week's _Economist_. At the entrance I was stopped by a security guard and cop, my ID inspected, and my messenger bag cursorily examined. This had never happened before. I was quite surprised. They said it was something to do with stopping students from bringing food and garbage into the reading room. I am not sure I buy this explanation (why is there no one up at the main stacks, where dozens of students are working at tables and carrels? Why doesn't the cop notice or object to my remaining carrot, or the tupperware with some black beans mixed with oatmeal?) but I do want to read my _Economist_ so I don't object further. It was quite interesting this week - an examination of the Wikileaks diplomatic cables from a somewhat different perspective, and lots of interesting articles about China's rise, strategic objectives, and military power. If I can't read the _New York Times_ every day, then reading the _Economist_ every week is a decent substitute.
(I eat my bananas before going down to the reading room. They really look incredibly nasty but taste fine; another oddity apparently due to the freezing is that there's liquid at the top that squirts out when you peel the banana. I don't know what that's about.)
It must be 1 AM when I finish and leave. No sense in staying up too terribly late. My head hurts a little from the logic in the philosophy book and then all the data and opinions on China. China is an important topic that I feel I should calibrate myself on it, but it's hard to think of good objective predictions. (Predictions about its economy aren't the important thing, but its internal demographics and geopolitics.)
Little traffic back at the car. It's also fairly warm. (I gauge this by how long in the car before my feet and fingers still to feel cold - an hour rather than 30 or 40 minutes - and by whether I need my scarf wrapped around my forehead as well, which I don't.)
# Day 46
17 December, Friday
Sleep well enough that I snooze in past 12 again. It's so tempting to do so when you're warm and comfortable, and this is especially true when getting out of bed, as it were, carries a vague but real risk. Today I resolve to get out quickly once I woke up, even though I can't figure out what the low roar is (couldn't be a train, those sounds end quickly) and... the sound is one of the big Suffolk public buses having finished sitting around my lot and is driving up and past me. D'oh!
At the gym, I walk right into the arena and see all the students waiting around the entrance. Well, that's what I get for sleeping in. I'm not dumb enough to try to get my 20 minutes of jogging in when a test is clearly imminent. I turn around and head for the weight room. Strangely enough, jogging on the treadmill continues to be incredibly exhausting. I don't have any better ideas this time than last time. (Is it running in shoes? Not being used to such a fixed pace? Feeling cramped and restricting my movements? Sheer boredom?) I don't manage more than 0.7 miles (I think) before I fag out. Personally embarrassing. I feel hungry and dispirited enough I don't even head to the exercise room for any regular practice but head straight to the showers. (Self-discipline remains a problem for me.) Adding insult to injury, the guy on the middle treadmill was there before I cam in and after I left - and he was jogging faster than me.
At the Wang Center, the signs tell me of a 'CS Holiday Party Luncheon'. Being a luncheon, all I see are some chairs which haven't been put away yet. And then in the gift shop the black dude on duty watches me closely enough that I don't dare take a full mug of the green tea. (I forget how it was flavored. Nothing memorable.) Oh come on!
At least no one hassles me in the Forum. I finish up my mediocre Tim Powers book (turns out to be his first, written in college; explains that much), read _Kick-Ass_ (surprisingly different from the movie; I had thought the movie pretty gritty, but the comic turns out to be even darker, but much less violent), and start Banks's _Excession_ because I like the idea of Outside Context Problems.
I also write a basic script to download every URL I visited in the last year using `wget`. It seems to work pretty well, but when I kill it at 11:20 PM, it's downloaded something like 14GB! Really ridiculous. I can't put 14GB in a Darcs repository; heck, I'm not sure I dare do that with a *Git* repository. The problem is probably the recursive downloading option which I threw in to try to guarantee that local pages would have all the resources they need, but which seems to download tons of redundant copies (blog posts are particular offenders here). Well, I'll try again tomorrow, and throw in a little more parallelism so it will hopefully terminate faster.
I'm not sure what I'll do if it still turns out to be >1GB. I may just sacrifice versioning. Most web pages are one-shot affairs that don't change very much and which I don't care when they change, and many of the ones that change significantly over time like Wikipedia or my own pages have revision control of their own. Storing them is also an issue - dumping a few gigs into ~/doc is a bad idea because it will significantly increase how much I pay Amazon S3 for backup. (Their prices for storage are fairly high.)
Well, it was a boring day in general. As my calendar reminded me to, I drove back home, which was more pleasant than usual since I heard today one of the EDs songs for _Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt_, "ANARCHY", which I like so much I put on loop. Tomorrow I also need to track down the band and singer since I clearly like their style.
# Day 47
18 December, Saturday
Christmas tree cutting and decorating is pretty as it is every year; Leila is interested in everything and takes a lot of the slack of putting the ornaments on the tree (since I'm on my laptop, Molly is doing whatever, and Adrian is playing his mediocre FPS on Xbox Live as usual). I discover that Kiki doesn't enjoy squirming through the branches of the tree like the ferrets did. Oh well.
My main activity today is finishing the download job. Some tweaks, adding some keyword filters for URLs, delete multi-megabyte files, and weeding out pathological sites (for some reason Steve Sailor's blog and Wikipedia both result in like a gigabyte of files on disc, which makes no sense!), and bring it down to 13 GB. I give up on version-controlling it - the only appropriate tool would be something like [rdiff-backup](!Wikipedia) and that is peculiarly broken on my system. (The Ubuntu maintainer doesn't know what to make of my bug either.) Oh well; I doubt web pages change all that often anyway, and this is a good start. I'll re-run the script every 6 months or so.
# Day 48
19 December, Sunday
Dragged along to church. Didn't even sleep very well. The women head off to a 'cookie party' sponsored by the foreign exchange organization; they don't seem very impressed when they come back, which is a shame given how much work they put into making various exotic Swiss cookies and gingerbread. Bob orders pizza and garlic knots, which are very tasty. Don't know why since he's not watching any good movies or a football game.
# Day 49
20 December, Monday
I wake up fairly early around 9 AM after a premature awakening thanks to Adrian and the window lacking a curtain. I remember that I need to get those mittens for Susan, but no real hurry. There's time for breakfast and playing with Kiki.
Stopped at King Kullen for the usual weekly stockup. I'm nowhere near done with either oatmeal or peanut butter (still nearly a full container of both), so I grab another bag of carrots, a box of nectarines (a dollar per pound makes them one of the bargain fruits), and... I grab 2 pounds of mozzarella. They were on sale at $1.80 each, which was really too low to resist. After checking the posted signs, I realize that price is only if you buy $25 of other stuff and the other sale price is $3 each. This was a perfect opportunity for an [endowment effect](!Wikipedia) to operate since I had already decided to buy the cheese and was visualizing how it would taste. I asked myself whether $3/lb (compared to the usual $6) was really worth it to me, and back came the answer, yes. Is that right? Dunno. The total price was $12 or so, rather blowing the usual $10 limit, especially when you consider that I didn't buy any new oatmeal or peanut butter: $6 on mozzarella, $5 on 5 pounds of nectarines (they chill or freeze without a problem, in stark contrast to bananas), and $1 or $2 on carrots. Well, the mozzarella will probably carry over to another week. I hope. That justification makes me feel a little less bad about being so profligate.
Anyway, I headed over to Old Navy to look for a pair of mittens and a cap suitable for a 5-year old boy that is under $10. Old Navy is looking awful bedraggled this close to Christmas, and the customers don't look any better. It really is a pity that Christmas is such a stressful time for a lot of people; it's a good example of procrastination/_akrasia_ to be sure (it's not like Christmas may not come this year!), since if people would just do their shopping ahead of time... I'm not a hypocrite in this respect since I was expecting to not give anyone gifts, but I've been maneuvered into it. Old Navy's stock was depleted indeed and I could scarce find any mittens or caps at all. After covering the entire store carefully, I found a set of red ones, the right size and price - but missing a mitten! This was quite an annoyance. Who would rip off a mitten from a three-part set? If it fell off, where did it go to? Why did none of the staff re-attach it? Who *would* buy it now anyway? Not me, certainly.
Disgruntled, I headed across the street to Bob's. Surely they would have a set, even if I might have to pay a premium. In Bob's I found a number, all priced quite dearly. The set I settled on turned out to be $15 - double the Old Navy set. Since the next place to try would be Wal-Mart way the heck down the road, I settled for this. Let Susan owe me the $5 or whatever. As long as she gets her bloody textiles. Settled on the line, I am finally next - when the fool woman in front of me hooks with her sleeve a candle in a glass jar and shatters it on the floor. So my counter was closed! The next line was even longer, of course, and when I finally reach the cashier her cute looks seem unaccompanied by common sense for she doubts that it really is a set (though all attached by plastic cord!) and calls for a check, which takes even longer. Oy vey. The one blessing is that the $15 price didn't take into account some store-wide sale and it really just cost me $13.
So, quick to Stagecoach, drop it off with the door monitor, and then back to SBU. I do the usual jogging (10 laps, 1 run, 1 walk) but skip the exercise room. Usual afternoon in the stacks, and then in the Commuter Lounge, waiting for the eclipse, which is 1:40 AM to 3 or so. It's a blustery night and there's a good view of the moon from the library, so I stay.
Suddenly I am roused from my Emacs editing (I had split out [a story](fiction/The Ones Who Walk Towards Acre) from _[Cloud Nine](fiction/Cloud Nine) and was pondering how best to add it to the `` main page) by none other than Randy Dible! He is in need of a red cap-and-gown for graduation since the one he had bought long ago had been borrowed by a friend and never returned before said friend's move to Buffalo. I have one, I think, but don't especially want to go back home and search for it; for the right price, I will, but Randy is horrified by such talk. So instead we talk about other things. I give an impromptu lecture on the importance of eclipses to Greek astronomy and philosophy in general; Randy tells me about his erstwhile Ukrainian girlfriend and his upcoming move to San Diego. Strange guy, Randy. We are both highly disappointed that the clouds are like ink and totally obscure the moon just as the eclipse begins, and never break afterwards. What a waste of staying up so late! Randy borrows my laptop to go onto Facebook. Along the way, I surreptitiously tell Firefox to store his NetID username and password. It'll be good for the next hundred days or so - means I get access to WiFi on campus and things like his printing quota. (I don't actually *have* anything I want to print out, but I might!) Suddenly, I am not so disappointed that the Union is open for only a few hours on weekdays and that the Forum will be open even less. Indeed, I am on the WiFi in the library as I write this.
# Day 50
20 December, Tuesday
Obviously I wake up very late - sometime around 4 or 5 PM. First things first; I wimped out on picking up my cellphone yesterday, so I walk to the SAC. I stop in Harriman Hall for a quick visit to the bathroom and who's hanging around but Randy? Bastard is *still* awake. My caffeine pills were adequate, he says. Well, I should hope so. We chat for a little on the way to the buses behind the SAC, but nothing particularly important. At South P lot, I have no trouble picking up the cellphone. Troublesome little thing; 'things are in the saddle and ride mankind.'
My calendar reminded me yesterday that tomorrow the gym will be closed for graduation, and it won't re-open until after Christmas. So today may be my last day for a while. This is bad for my resolve to be more fit by 1 January 2011, but good for my intention to re-read the _Haruhi Suzumiya_ light novels and finally finish [The Melancholy of Kyon](). I exercise thoroughly - all 12 laps (and hidden 13th) as I carefully navigate around the A/V equipment & crew, and then a full session in the exercise room with the palm & elbow strikes. The showers seem half-broken; my regular showerhead no longer does hot water. I assume that they've turned off heaters or something until I find one that *does* work. Hm.
The stacks are closed by this point, so I work in the lobby until my battery runs out. This really bites! With the stacks and SAC and Student Union and Commuter Lounge all closed, I'm not really sure what to do. I know I can't go to sleep until 1 or 2 AM at the earliest. Wandering around outside, feeling miserable, I suddenly notice a guy sitting in the Commuter Lounge. He had set up a chair and table and was computing away. The doors were, contra my assumptions, not locked! Immediately I entered, set up a table of my own by an outlet, and got back to what I'd been doing. Eventually I noticed that there was a lot of stuff sitting around. By me was an open box of food - tuna can, 3 packages of Top Ramen, peanut butter and jelly, 2 little bottles of sugar (for 'energy'), etc. By the other guy was a box of books; a big data structures textbook, an OS textbook, a database/SQL textbook, a book on Robert E. Lee, and so on. Some clothes too, including a nice green sweater that looks like it would fit me. When I packed up and left around 2 AM, I took some of the food, the Robert E. Lee book, and the sweater. As far as I can tell, all this detritus was the result of your classic end-of-term packing up and throwing away stuff, but I hadn't expected it for just Christmas. I mean, pretty much everyone is coming back in January/February.
The moon is bright, but no eclipse. This makes sense to me as eclipses are quick events but Randy Dible thinks for some reason that there would be one, per his email.
Another warm night, but far less traffic than usual. Guess everyone who isn't graduating tomorrow has already left.
# Day 51
21 December, Wednesday
My alarm clock claims I wake up around 12 and get out around 1:30 PM, but this seems too late to me and I check; turns out it's been off by an hour. Well. No wonder I seem to have been sleeping so late the past few weeks - between it being cold out and the clock an hour fast, that'd explain it. I think about eating the tuna, but tuna in a can lasts forever, and I'm back home tomorrow, so better to hold onto it for a rainy day, as it were.
I notice there are an awful lot of buses around. Sure enough, they're all for graduation. Well, my stuff is out of the gym, so alright. I hitch a ride on a bus that plops me down by the gym; waste of time. I do help one black lady with directions, though she was going in the right direction anyway.
The Wang Center had turned on its fountains, which was nice. Cookie tea, so the visit is a bust. At the library, I don't do anything particularly interesting besides the usual Mnemosyne review, some reading, and playing lots of _[Osmos](!Wikipedia)_ until everyone was kicked out at 5. Fortunately, downstairs the big round concrete desk things are unclaimed and they have power sockets.
Also today, anyone who paid for the Indie Bundle 2 was given permission to download Indie Bundle 1 as well; I managed to download one, but the library WiFi is very strange - I can't seem to pull down more than 15 kB/s and get disconnected every half hour or so - and I only had patience to download the first one, something called _[Aquaria](!Wikipedia "Aquaria (video game)")_.
_Osmos_ is very fun but it can also be very frustrating; it has that kind of exponential increases in power where you are utterly fragile initially and must devote painstaking attention to each and every move, but then a tipping point passes and suddenly you become nigh-omnipotent. That said, I am particularly intrigued by the 'force' levels, in which all the blobs are in orbit around a star or black hole, with realistic [orbital dynamics](!Wikipedia). Those levels are *intensely* frustrating, but it's a good kind of frustrating because I feel I am actually starting to grok orbits in a way that all the Honor Harrington novels never would enable me to.
In between rounds of _Osmos_, I watch a movie called _[The Man Without A Past](!Wikipedia)_. It's quite different from what I expected; I was expecting either a strange [G.K. Chesterton](!Wikipedia) fantasy-espionage movie (from analogy with _[The Man Who Was Thursday](!Wikipedia)_) or a dramatic Japanese action-spy movie (from the director's name and an analogy with _[The Bourne Identity](!Wikipedia)_). Instead, it's actually a Finnish drama-comedy about an amnesiac who discovers love. It was good, certainly, but I still don't know why I downloaded it; the Wikipedia plot description isn't the kind of thing that would fire me up to watch it.
(As I sit at my computer, I reflect, not for the first time, that it's a little odd to be wearing an orange RIT sweater as I eat an orange carrot with the scraps of an orange [nectarine](!Wikipedia) next to me. In _[The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time](!Wikipedia)_ the autistic narrator spends a good deal of time detailing variations in daily life, one of which is wanting to eat only foods of the same color; I have seen that tic echoed elsewhere enough to believe it may be a common one among the autistic. While I have clear and logical reasons for selecting the scarf, nectarines, and carrots relating to price, nutrition, and the weather, and while the autistic are rarely able to justify their choices like I can justify mine, the coincidence is still a little disquieting.)
Christmas gifts:
25 auto store gift card & windshield wipers from Grandad Birch
$20 from Evelyn McCosker
Blue/black plaid long-sleeve shirt from Leila
_Mortal Kombat_ t-shirt from Danni
$25 Wal-Mart gift card from Grandparents Naaktgeboren
$50 from Uncle Dan
[^id]: One might ask, what if SBU *did* check ID at the entrances? Last I knew, it didn't, but I did think through my plan for that eventuality:
1. sneak in back/ground-floor entrances
2. bluff with my expired ID
3. attach myself to an incoming group of people to get lost in the confusion.
Some schools lock all the exits and check ID at the available ones; [RIT](!Wikipedia) did this. That situation would be unfortunate. My plan in case SBU had blocked 1-3 was to give up on showering at SBU and simply sign up for memberships at local gyms or possibly the [YMCA](!Wikipedia) in [Holtsville](!Wikipedia). They usually have a heavily discounted first month; once the month expired, I leave and sign up at the next gym, never paying more than a few dollars a month. This would be a considerable hassle and involve much expensive driving, so I was glad there were no problems when I took my first SBU shower.
[^public]: The publicness is the key; this is why people find it worthwhile to buy overpriced Starbucks coffee so they can hang around and actually be able to get things done. It's not that Starbucks has a nice ambiance or that the caffeine is hugely important - it's that one feels watched, and this fear (of disapproval or dislike or judgement) helps power one's little [superego](!Wikipedia) and intimidates the [id](!Wikipedia) into not wasting time on [lolcats](!Wikipedia). This technique doesn't have to be done in public; one can do it in utter physical seclusion by tricks like giving someone remote access to your display. See a LessWrong account of fighting _[akrasia](!Wikipedia)_ this way: ["Anti-akrasia remote monitoring experiment"](
[^happiness]: See [Brickman 1978]( which surveyed a control group, lottery winners, paraplegics, and quadriplegics on self-reported happiness; a dramatic example of the [hedonic treadmill](!Wikipedia)
[^driving]: See eg. <> or <>
[^library]: I've thought about signing up for LibraryThing but what deters me is that I've forgotten most of the books I've read, have no way of recovering their titles, and wonder what value I would receive from tracking my reading. A list of books I have *not* read, sure - [Book reading list]() has proven its value over the years; but a list of books that I *have* read?
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