A lot has happened since I last blogged, stuff about which I could have blogged but didn‘t, simply because I’ve been lazy. I shall try to skim over it now just to refresh my mind.
First semester is over. That means I have one more semester of high school left. The true significance of this did not strike me until last Wednesday, which was our last day of regular classes before exams. Drama was my last period class, and I realised that it would be the last time I would ever be in that classroom as a drama student. I‘m going to miss drama because some of my fondest high school memories come from that class.
Speaking of drama, though, the play that my class produced, Man of the House, was a smashing success. The plot concerns a burglar who breaks into a couple’s house while they are away on vacation. As the play progresses, however, the burglar has a hard time robbing the house, simply because numerous wacky personalities show up at the door. I contributed to props and set design, mainly, so I got to sit back stage during the performance and watch (and solve problems that came up, of which there were few).
School started to wind down as exams approached. Review was easy. My first two exams were all right. Geometry was as difficult as I expected—I think I did fine though. Physics is really easy; it’s all math and we got all the formulae on a nice sheet. However, I have an enormous propensity for making silly calculation errors that will cost me marks here and there.
Monday is calculus, and then I’m done. In a way it’ll be the hardest of my exams, but probably the one that I’ll enjoy most. After calculus is done I‘m going to go play DDR and hang out with some friends for the rest of the day!
I also plan to paint my room this week, so that’ll be interesting. More on that as the week develops.
I‘m working on and off on Vanilla Guestbook. Ever the perfectionist, I’m overhauling the design again, focusing on usability. But there’s been plenty of work to the backend and some feature tweaks that should overall make it a better system. Interestingly enough, I had someone email me concerning translation of Vanilla Guestbook—turns out they were using it on a Dutch website. I never designed Vanilla Guestbook with translation in mind. My abstraction layers are nonexistent and my organisation skills would make a spaghetti programmer look good. However, I‘ve been looking into gettext implementation and it looks simple, so I’m trying it out with Vanilla Guestbook. I don’t know how many people would bother trying to translate it, but if they want to, the framework will now be there.
Sundays have become my new TV night: Smallville, Stargate Atlantis, The Dresden Files, and Battlestar Galactica all back to back. I’m not too big on the first two (I find Smallville to be getting increasingly soap opera-ish, and I’ve seen the episodes of Stargate Atlantis already). But the other two are awesome. Both are being aired at the same time in Canada (on Space) and the U.S. (on the Sci-Fi Channel), meaning that I get to see the new BSG episodes at the same time as my American friends. The Dresden Files is a brand new series based off the novel series of the same name, focusing on Harry Dresden, the last professional “wizard” in Chicago and his work as a private investigator. It has potential.
That’s about it.
Let me start off, however, with a few disclaimers. I do believe that the “global warming phenomenon” exists to a quantifiable degree, that the Earth’s temperature is slowly rising, that humans are contributing to it (although not necessarily as much as some claim, but probably more than most would like to admit) with our dependency on fossil fuels, and that it does pose a threat to the future of our species.
Up here in Canada we’re experiencing an unusually mild winter. As a result, the term “global warming” has become one of the decade’s top buzzwords: words that people use even though they don’t actually apply. It’s liked “Web 2.0”. It’s a term that at one time had a valid definition, but the public has seized upon it, gutted it mercilessly, and taken it so far out of context that it no longer means anything at all. The same is happening to global warming. Once a fine scientific theory, people are blowing it out of proportion.
“Oh my God, he’s gone conservative!” you start screaming at me. “How dare you say that global warming isn’t a threat?!”
Yeah … uh … right. Whatever you say. The fact remains that both sides are throwing “global warming” about as a keyword without really treating it with any respect. And you know what? Global warming called. It demands its dignity back.
As you previously heard, I fell in love with Dance Dance Revolution the first time that I played it, on New Year’s Eve. Since then I have been plotting to acquire my own game. I don’t have a PlayStation 2, however (or any sort of gaming console with DDR on it), and buying one just to play DDR would not have been ideal.
Enter StepMania! StepMania is a free and open-source rhythm game that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Essentially it emulates DDR. Not only that, but it works with dance pads. With StepMania, I was one step closer to my own DDR setup.
I needed a dance pad. Either I would have to find a dance pad that connected with USB, or I’d need to get a dance pad and some sort of adapter. Today I went shopping with Laura (who has blogged about that adventure in detail) for a dance pad and (if we needed it) an adapter. I found an Intec dance pad for PS2 at EB Games for only $15, so I snagged that, and I got a $17 PS2 to USB adapter from the Source.
Got home, ate supper, and then plugged everything in and downloaded StepMania. Lo and behold, success! No error messages, no big warning screens, no explosions. The dance pad works perfectly except for what appears to be a common problem with some adapters—it doesn’t recognise simultaneous up/down or left/right. That’s a bit of a problem, since many songs use those moves often. So I’m probably going to have to buy another adapter.
StepMania is an awesome program. Not only does it let me play DDR on my computer, but I can also take my own MP3 files and use them. I just spent my night adding steps for the Hampsterdance Song (what?! ). It an exhausting process. And that song is fast. h34r:
De-da-dee-dee-dee-de-do-do … de-do-dee-dee-do…
Millions of years ago, a race of hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional beings who manifest in our dimension as white mice built the second-greatest computer ever to exist. It was called Deep Thought, and it was given the task of calculating the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Deep Thought, after 7.5 million years of computation, discovered that it was, in fact, 42. The problem, however, was that no one really knew what the Question was, so the answer was out of context.
Of course if you‘ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy you already know this. If you haven‘t, then you are a worthless strag and should read it, because it’s a pretty good book.
Lately I have been meditating upon the meaning of life and why we‘re here. If you think about it, our mundane life is pretty much meaningless. Why do we go to school? To get educated so we can get a good job. Why do we get a job? So that we can make money. Why do we make money? So that we can spend money on things we need to survive. Why do we survive? Well, because it’s what all species try to do.
And that’s the thing. Thus far, all of humanity’s achievements, no matter how great, really all depend on this arbitrary worth assigned to them by humans. Everything in our society has been constructed on the basis of an arbitrary fiction, starting with the economy and ending with digital watches. It is really just a complicated system of survival, however, and does not remove us from non-sentient beings.
So what’s the point? Why are we here? Why do we live, exist? Well, to quote Dr. Stephen Hawking…
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
There you go. We are able to comprehend that there’s more out there; we are able to reach out for it, search for it. That’s why I am so enthusiastic about science fiction and actual space travel and space exploration. Some people like to complain that space exploration is a waste of money that can be better spent on decreasing crime or feeding starving mouths. But it’s not. Because there is more to life than perpetuating the mundane fiction of civilization that we have manufactured for ourselves on this planet. And it’s out there for us to discover.
That’s what we do as human beings to expand our understanding: we ruminate and philosophise. However, the universe is very, very big, and the Earth inhabits only a small, tiny, minuscule portion of it. So in order for us to better comprehend the universe, it only makes sense that we need to step out of our own backyard and take a look around.
I refuse to believe in the anthropic principle because it’s a cop-out, and because life seems a little less exciting if there isn’t any more to living than toiling away for the sake of little green pieces of paper. There is more out there, and we have to find it.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something more bizarrely inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
So there you have it. Really, do you have anything better to do? After all, we know that the amount of good television on is inversely proportional to the number of channels you have. So with some people having upwards of 400, even 800 channels, you really have nothing to watch. Since nothing good is on TV, you might as well take some time to explore the universe!
The clock hit midnight and we watched Dick Clark (who is still alive, yes) kiss someone on national television. In order to get this “pretty picture” out of our mind, we (my friends Laura and Rhiannon—we were playing DDR and watching movies) came up with the insane idea of phoning our former English teacher, Ms. Sukalo, who currently resides in the Big Apple.
So Laura dug out a phone card and we attempted to reach her several times. For the first few attempts, no luck. Busy line, “circuits were busy”, blah, blah. Apparently everyone drinks and dials on New Year’s Eve. Go figure. Finally, at about the third try, we get through! Success—or was it?
“United Airlines.” United Airlines? United Airlines? So I thought I had dialled a wrong number, and hang up, too chicken to say anything. Of course Laura pointed out that they had probably just said that as a New Year’s (drunken) prank. We tried it again—line was busy. At this point, we wanted to check that we had the number right. We went on an epic quest, first confirming the area code, then confirming it was not the number of United Airlines. Boy were we dumb. Lastly, we looked up the phone number in the white pages and it was a cell phone. So we tried again.
Fifth try got us United Airlines again. This time we weren’t giving up. I gallantly surrendered the phone to Rhiannon, who has more pluck than me, and she asked in succession these question three: “Where are you located?” (New York City). “What is your address?” (We have it right here… one moment.) “What’s your phone number?”
At this point, we were hearing hushed voices in the background. Then suddenly someone (hello, Ms. Sukalo) burst out laughing and the voices were no longer so hushed. We tried to elicit further response only to have the call cut out on us and get replaced by a busy signal. And that’s where this tale ends. Or does it?
Well of course not, because I just have to take things too far. I fired off an email to Ms. Sukalo with contributions from Laura and Rhiannon, congratulating her on redecorating her apartment into an airline. And that’s where we left things. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow (or the day after that … or the day after that—check your email, Ms. Sukalo). But it was an interesting New Year’s diversion!
Speaking of which, I have fallen in love with Dance Dance Revolution. I suck at it, but it’s just too hard to hate that game.
Have a happy new year. Speaking of which, if you haven’t already heard, we’ve decided to give 2007 a miss, since it probably won’t be a very good year anyway. I’m thinking a rerun of 2002 may be in order. Sorry for the inconvenience this abrupt change in the schedule causes, but I‘m sure we’ll all adjust soon.
Don’t touch that remote.