29 April 2004

(Regular) Expression

I came up with an awesome expression that I totally want to use in conversation some day:

"Dude, my program has enough bugs to populate an ant farm."

More thoughts on Bldg 32

I was walking from my office (9 Cambridge Center on Main St.) to building 26 tonight and I noticed that they've finally removed the temporary office for the construction dudes which had previously prevented cutting across the Stata lot toward 26.

I climbed up the inside of the weird brick amphitheatre and discovered that the top edge is actually bordering on a nice little roof garden. And the back edge of this roof garden opens onto a huge staircase that winds down toward the breezeway near 26-100. This made it quite perfect for me since I was heading right in that direction.

I had a number of thoughts about various aspects of the building as a result of getting this closer look at it.

First, I'm amazed that someone could take plans or models of that building and make it happen. The view I'm used to (from Main or Vassar St) doesn't do the whole building justice. I mean, for one thing, it's massive. And another cool thing about it is that when it's totally done I bet it will really nicely integrate with the campus around it. They're just now removing all the construction debris and they've put a ton of trees in different places (albeit mostly not yet physically stuck in the ground).

I suspect that the whole effect will be very nice when done but it might fall prey to the same sort of thing that always happens to really nice outdoor installations. The lights will be cool looking and high tech for a year and then the bulbs will die and PhysPlant won't bother to replace them. The grass will die and they'll get sick of resodding and all that sort of thing. Take as another example the very nicely designed little walkway between the CBC and the Kendall theatre. How long did that blue "light path" last before the bulbs all died? Now it just looks lame.

Anyway, the Stata looks pretty hot if you get a look at it up close and from the angles that have been blocked off for the last few years. I suggest everyone cheggidout.

22 April 2004


This is some random person's livejournal icon. I thought it was totally sweet so I snagged it.


21 April 2004

Fabulous Baltimore, MD

Yesterday evening I returned from a brief trip to the above as a participant in "The International HapMap Community Analysis Meeting". It was a good trip for a lot of reasons, which I will now enumerate:

  1. This was the first academic conference I've attended which was very focused on a topic of serious interest to me. On the one hand this is very cool because I was pretty zoned in the whole time and thus got a lot out of it. On the other hand it's exhausting because there aren't the usual lulls in the action when somebody's babbling about something totally unrelated to your area of interest. Even after just two and a half days I was completely beat and thus went to bed at 10:30 last night.

  2. There was a good hangout scene both with the usual suspects from work (Shaun, Paul, Itsik & occasionally Mark) and with some people who I know by name/reputation/voice on conference calls. It was definitely a good thing to meet a bunch of the latter in person, including some people who might be good to know if I'm going to get a grad degree in this nonsense.

  3. It was nice to get out of town for a few days. The weather in Baltimore was wonderful (although I hear it was just as nice in Boston) and although we had limited time to explore our extended environs I did get a couple of chances to stroll around the touristy harbor area, which was nice.

  4. Related to items 1 & 2, I have returned to the office today pretty fired up about my line of work, which should be helpful in pushing forward and deciding what to do with my life in the medium term.

And now, back to that aforementioned work.

15 April 2004

What Dreams May Come

I had a weird dream last night. In it I had purchased a run-down old house and a fancy sports car from the same company (some kind of combo realtor-auto dealership, I guess). I was touring the house, which was in pretty bad shape, when I noticed there was a second floor apartment in it. I asked the woman from the company if I owned that part of the building as well. Dreams are weird that way, you know? I had supposedly just bought this house and I didn't even know anything about it or what exactly I had bought. I guess this is actually a pretty boring dream, and a pretty boring retelling of same.

The worst of it was that my alarm went off right before I got to test drive my new car.

14 April 2004


My order from Thompson arrived yesterday. I had forgotten how enjoyable a good smoke can be. I don't think I'd had quality cigars in probably 8 or 9 months. In any event, I spent a good 1/2 hour on le balcon with a glass of port and one of Thompson's own "Green Iguana" cigars. It was a little acidic for my taste, but smoothed out rather nicely toward the end.

I was caught with my proverbial pants down when the shipment arrived so quickly. I had checked the website that day and it was listed as "In warehouse awaiting pickup". Imagine my surprise when they arrived at about 6PM that very day. My humidor hadn't been properly seasoned to accept cigars since it had been empty for a couple of years. Last night I set it up to absorb moisture overnight and all day today. Hopefully by the time I get home it will be ready for me to stock it up with my new goodies. Yippee!

09 April 2004

The Temple Curtain

Tradition holds that at 3PM on Good Friday Christ breathed his last and the Temple Curtain ripped in two. As told by Matthew:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

Today, sitting in the MIT Chapel, at exactly 3:00PM a thunderous roar went up and shook the building. I was taken aback at first. Later I discovered that it had been from the fighter jet flyby for opening day at Fenway.

08 April 2004

Middle East

I've been going back and forth between a couple of books lately, Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem and Dick Clarke's (no not that Dick Clark) Against All Enemies. Add to these sources all the news coverage about the increased violence in Iraq and the various testimony before the 9/11 comission and I've been thinking a lot about the Middle East lately.

There's obviously way more to digest on the topic than can fit in a bløg post, but a few thoughts:

  • Where the hell do the Iraqi insurgents get their weapons? We're spending billions to equip our guys. How is it that a bunch of civilian militas are able to take control of entire cities and engage us in such bloody battles? Well, to answer my own question, part of it is that we need to simultaneously attack our enemy and endear ourselves to the Iraqi people—we can't exactly bomb the hell out of these places.

  • In that vein, are we doing this right? I disagree with the notion that the war in Iraq is a pointless diversion from the war on terror, but at the same time I wonder whether 150,000 US troops is the right solution. As was clearly demonstrated by the joke of a "war" against Saddam's regulars, our military can crush any organized army we please. But what then? What can we do now that we're being attacked by a bunch of guys in jeans and t-shirts with RPGs and AK47s?

  • The thing I just can't get my mind around is the utter disconnect between certain elements of the Iraqi people and my perception of reality. Moktada al-Sadr is leading a Shiite uprising protesting the American "occupation" of Iraq. To me, the Americans in Iraq are courageous young men and women (two of my closest friends among them) who are not only risking their lives, but leaving their homes and families behind to try to liberate a people they've never met from 20 years of tyranny and genocide. I can conceive of no more admirable undertaking. Still, there are clearly elements in the Iraqi populace who find this to be so awful as to kill and be killed to stop it. Why? And if they really just want to be rid of us, why not promote stability and just wait for 6 months or a year for us to start pulling out?

  • Evidently a group called Saraya al-Mujahideen released a broadcast of 3 Japanese civlians they had kidnapped on Al Jazeera. They threatened to kill them if Japan does not withdraw its 530 troops from Iraq in 3 days. How are these people so out of touch with what they're doing? How can they be so stupid? Japan's post WWII constitution forbids them to engage in any aggressive military activity. Their deployment in Iraq is part of a construction and water-purification effort. These terrorists are trying to become heroes by evicting a bunch of Japanese water-purification engineers?