An algorithm to find the shortest path to punting

Classes have begun, and like any student, I look for new ways to punt my work, or at least ways to take a break. But I think I should learn something on my breaks, or expand my horizons, or something. So instead of watching Strong Bad emails over and over again, I’ve taken to reading some of the assorted writings of the original computer science Dutch Master, Edsger W. Dijkstra. They’re pretty well written, and often quite provocative. I’m not sure I agree with him, but he expresses himself so well that it’s a pleasure to read them.

In fact, I should compile a list of websites with interesting things to read or learn in order to make my puntage a better use of my time. Of course, the risk is that I spend all my time punting (in which case, can you really call it punting?), but I’m not too worried. For example, for some good music reviews and other commentary, check out The High Hat. If any of the 5 people who read this have any other good links, send ’em along.



My prelim is in a scant 13.5 hours. I took today off (mostly) and went into San Francisco, walked around a bit, popped into the library, and went to one of the cheapest sushi places I’ve seen ($4.25 for the 7 piece nigiri), ate too much wasabi, talked to Adam about this and that on the phone while he waited for a bus that neglects its duty to stop and pick up passengers, sat in a cafe rederiving forward and backward linear prediction filters (I said it was only mostly off) and revising (to use the Brit expression) my measure theory, hung out with Ann, watched The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie by Buñuel, which was hilarious, and then went to Nirvana, the fabulous “Burmese” noodle place in the Castro. All in all, a satisfying relaxing day.

The Castro Theater, which is where we saw the movie, is one of the coolest things (to me) about San Francisco. It’s an old-style movie house, with a balcony, wood seats upholstered in red velvet, tall ceiling, with a chandelier, and gold paint on some pretty elaborate molding on the walls. And they show foreign/old/art films. And before each screening there’s a guy who comes out and plays the organ for about fifteen minutes. Today he played a medly of old tunes, including “Blue Skies,” which is one of my favorites. In fact, Brent Spiner singing it was about the only good thing in the last Star Trek movie. In any case, I’ll be going there next week to see Errol Flynn as Robin Hood on the big screen — how could I resist? Daffy Duck would be so jealous.

Oh, you are men of stone

So I have a subscription to GreenCine. Why, you may ask? Because they carry almost all of the films mentioned in a recent NY Times article. While watching a play on film is certainly not the same as watching it in a theater, I get to see people like Lee J. Cobb and Katherine Hepburn doing some really meaty theater. I could gush about this for minutes on end.

Coming up in my queue sometime — James Earl Jones in King Lear. That should be interesting. “Had I your tongues and eyes I’d use them so that heaven’s vault should crack.”

So good

Of course, I’ve already said how fantastic the Gotan Project is. Makes me feel I should be sweating in Buenos Aires in front of my typewriter, cigarette burning in the ashtray, feverishly writing my manifesto… only I don’t smoke. And I’ve never been to Buenos Aires.

Descubrimos vos y yo
en el triste carnaval
una musica brutal
melodias de dolor
Despertamos vos y yo
y en el lento divagar
una musica brutal
encendio nuestra pasion
Dame tu calor
bebete mi amor

(scammed off of GeekRoar)

In other news, Idi Amin just died. I feel this is a good thing, but I don’t like myself for being glad of a death. I guess because I have a hard time saying that anyone “deserves” to die. Maybe I’m just too much of an idealist.

I need the eggs

I saw Annie Hall today, and I have to say it’s one of the most satisfying Woody Allen films I’ve ever seen. It was clever, had a really consistent style, and really spoke to me. I mean, not that I’m a neurotic Jewish Manhattanite with two ex-wives and an obsession with death. But it’s a good film, with some cameos by Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum that are pretty hilarious. And Paul Simon is one creepy guy.

Now I know what they’re talking about

I used to be one of those people who hated Windows because it was the cool thing to do — everybody hated it, and for reasons that seemed good on paper, but I had never personally been screwed over by it or experienced difficulty in reinstalling the operating system, or what have you.

All that has changed.

I’m now willing to venture that the current pain I am experiencing installing XP is far, far worse than the time I tried to install LinuxPPC on my Mac without any directions. It is worse even than trying to sysadmin a DECstation running Ultrix, possibly the most head-up-its-ass flavor of Unix ever to grace a desktop microcomputer.

I hate you, Bill Gates, and all your demon monkeys. May penguins assault you with razor sharp beaks in the deepest circles of Hell.

Of course, if there were penguins in hell, wouldn’t it mean that it had frozen over? Or maybe they are evil Lava Penguins. Wow. That sounds like a monster from Diablo or something.

Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot

The other day I had 5 cups of coffee and I felt like my heart was going to explode. It used to be that I could sleep 3 hours a night, drink 3 cups of coffee a day, and function well enough to get all the stuff I had to get done done. I’m beginning to feel old.

Pardon the direct quote, but this is from Ask Dr. Science, a radio show:

Dear Doctor Science,
Why is it that after not sleeping for two weeks and drinking only coffee, I am able to see demons and control nature and fly and stuff like that?
— Brian Brunschoen from Portland , OR

Because lack of sleep and extreme caffeine consumption allow you to become the person you were truly meant to be: a self-deluded narcissist with an eating disorder. It’s only by getting to know our real selves that we can claim the power that is due us. Some people might encourage you to sleep or eat, but they’re just jealous, and wish they had your ability to see demons and fly. Oh sure, the circumstances of your life, or incarceration, might mean that you would do well to play along with their silly little games, but you and I know what you’re really up to. When you drink coffee, make sure you drink only the very best, Ethiopian Harrarrarrarraar, brewed with distilled water and just a hint
of chromium dioxide.


Talley’s Folly

By Lanford Wilson. This play won Wilson the Pulitzer in 1980. There are only two characters: Mike, a 42 year old Jewish accountant, and Sally Talley, a 31 year old nurse, and their romance in 1940’s Missouri. It’s a gem of scenewriting — one long scene in which Mike woos Sally, and each of them is forced to reveal a secret in order to break the eggshells they had built around their lives. I didn’t get bored for one minute, and then suddenly the play was over, and I put it down and smiled. There aren’t many plays I can read which make me feel content afterwards, but this one felt “just right.” He told his story, I learned things about people and humanity, and love, and that was what the play was about. No real “loose ends” on the first reading. I suppose if I look at it again I’ll see more, but I don’t want to ruin the moment now.