My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

No sugar tonight

Stanley, prior to a paint job

Last week, I discussed how maths is hard, but I spent plenty of time solving a Rubik's cube anyway. At this rate, you are going to get the idea that I don't do any work at all. Nevertheless, a desire for accuracy and lulz requires me to remain truthful regarding how I spent this week in the office.

We made a piñata.

We named him Stanley the Resurrection Pig.

I don't recall who came up with the initial idea. As with all good, crazy plots, it starts off as an innocuous hypothetical scenario: piñatas equal fun, fun equal good, we could make a piñata! This is the last week all four of us will be in the office together--Aaron, Rachael, and I are going to Waterloo next week for a conference, and Jessica is off to Ireland, returning only after Aaron and Rachael's contracts are finished. So if ever there was a time to set aside the math papers and construct a papier-mâché animal, then savagely beat it to a pulp, this was that time.

None of us are piñata-making experts, and that was probably for the best. Rachael had some experience with papier-mâché--also for the best--so we made her foreman and gave her a silly newspaper hat to go with the title. In remarkably little time, we gathered together the hodge-podge of materials required to manufacture a piñata. We decided on a simple shape, assembled the skeletal structure from balloons, and mixed up a batch of goo to begin the work of creating Stanley.

Over three days, Stanley emerged from a series of colour balloons. He grew stubby legs, ears, and a snout. We named him Stanley because none of us knew anyone named Stanley, and it sounded like a good name for something we would beat to death. (I apologize to all those named Stanley reading this.) Jessica, in particular, was quite bloodthirsty about the whole project. By Friday, however, as we stuffed Stanley full of candy and trussed him in string, we were all savouring the anticipation of Resurrection-Pigpocalpyse.

Stanley met his demise rather quickly. We took him outside, where it was the warmest it has been all summer so far, and suspended him upon a suitable tree branch. Jessica, as the aforementioned most eager participant in this piñata-bashing, got the first swing. I had brought a thin, metal beam that had been propped up in one corner of the hallway outside our office with other thin, metal beams, but we started with a stick to maximize Stanley's torment. After a few swings from Jessica, however, the stick broke in two. Stanley one, us zero.

So we switched to the metal beam, and Stanley's death came swift. Jessica pretty much decapitated him with a single, fearsome blow. Aaron, Rachael, and I quickly followed, each of us contributing to his destruction in our own way, until finally he lay on the ground, battered and broken, a shell of his former self.

Stanley was no more. But in his death, he gave us one final gift: lots and lots of candy. Oh, and math riddles. But moreso candy. Really, way too much candy. We had all brought candy, and even though much of the chocolate melted from the heat, there was more than we wanted to take home with us. There is still some of it languishing in the office despite our forthcoming week-long absence.

I could talk about what I've been researching this week, how my supervising prof was in town only for the two days we were dunking our hands in flour-water to make a piñata in the office. I could mention that I've started running programs on SHARCNET and it's awesome. Really, all of these things pale in comparison to spending a week making, and breaking, a piñata.

This was the eighth week of my research. I'm now halfway through my summer job, and it feels like I've barely begun. Wow.

Farewell, Stanley the Resurrection Pig. You served but a brief, miserable existence, but you served it well. So long, and thanks for all the fish--er, candy.

Stanley, my coworkers, and myself: never forget!