Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: February, 2004

Time Wasters:

Ultimate Flash Sonic. I have never played the original video game, but I do find this amusing. Minimize your browser if you want it to run more smoothly. (And it also helps if you have a high speed processor–I tried it on a PII and it was too darn slow.)

Carl & Phil: Monkey Ninjas. Cartoons! Watch them defeat the evil slime creatures in the earlier episodes.

Planetarium. “A puzzle-story in twelve weekly installments.”

Vectorpark. More weird flash fun.

* * *
Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Hollywood:: Bollywood
  2. Censor:: Smokescreen
  3. Nascar:: Drivers
  4. Lube:: Jiffy
  5. Mortgage:: Money
  6. Freedom:: Ride
  7. Champion:: Skier
  8. Reality TV:: Sucks
  9. New York:: City
  10. Tease:: Puzzle

Interactive Fiction in the 21st Century. Great article about IF games. I’m always thinking about learning how to program one, but I never have the time. It almost makes me regret taking that physics seminar class rather than the intro to computer programming while I was an undergrad.

Linkage and Some Commentary:

Handwashing Experiment. (Via Monkeyfilter) I wonder if the statistics would be any better if I tallied the habits of the patrons of the medical school bathrooms.

Women’s Magazine Editors. The 2Blowhards also ask why women use so many exclamation points. I don’t know, maybe they want to sound perky? Or maybe there could be a Freudian explanation? At any rate, nobody has complained about my use (or lack) of the trigger-happy punctuation so I’m not going to worry about it.

Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle. These are Elmore Leonard’s rules on writing. I’ve never read any of his stuff (should I start?) but I do find some of the points interesting, particularly 1, 2 and 10.

I Was Kim Jong Il’s Cook. Some excerpts from a chef’s experiences with the current North Korean leader. Both funny and scary.

How Serfdom Saved the Women’s Movement. As Caitlin Flanagan points out, feminism suffers from the differences between its ideologies and economic reality. What I wonder about is: can’t a semi-solution be worked out by having the men share some of the responsibility of taking care of the kids rather than letting the women make the sole decision of either taking care of the kids, pursuing a career, or somehow juggling both? Or am I just being influenced in my views by observing couples in academia?

What’s up with blogging, and why should you care? I can’t believe people are still churning out these articles. Unless you’ve been hiding underneath a rock the past couple of years, this is akin to writing an essay entitled, “What’s up with websites, and why should you care?”

The Thursday Threesome

Choreography: The art of symbolically representing dancing

Onesome- Choreography: What do you choreograph in your life? Your morning routine? The dinner ritual? How you study?

I schedule things, yes. But choreograph? No. I don’t count the steps I need to take to get to the bathroom or the kitchen. I don’t swish my toothbrush exactly 100 times to brush my teeth or measure exactly one teaspoon of oil to pour into the pan. As for studying–I don’t have a systematic way of actually doing that either. And I hope I don’t ever have to choreograph any of my activities. Life is too spontaneous and surprising.

Twosome- The art of symbolically: Art? Hmmmm… Sure, what do you like to have? …or do you? …but how about that little symbol you keep on your desk or headboard? The one you keep because??? I mean, if you can share that…

I don’t have any art or symbols in my living space. If that makes me minimalist and boring, so be it.

Threesome- representing dancing: No, not ‘do you dance?’ (although that’s fine too!); rather, which type(s) of dancing will you stop and watch for a moment? Ballroom? Swing? Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey?

Competitive ballroom dancing! Seriously, I would watch any kind of dancing as long as it’s not the kind where people writhe pointlessly (and haphazardly) on the dance floor.

…And Running

The sky is a washed out blue and the sun high overhead. It’s warm and the buildings around me–metal, wood, stucco–sag in the heat. The buildings, decorated by small lonely trees, are empty. The streets are very dusty and I, along with the rest of the populace, are running. Kicking up dirt, sweating, slack-jawed breathing. I look back and there is a blob roiling and spilling through the streets.

This isn’t your typical slimy green blob. It’s pink and yellow and chunky–heterogeneous. The bits of candied warts on its hide glimmer maliciously in the afternoon.

I run. It feels as if this chase is never ending until I spot a small parking lot. A couple of people are hot rodding a green car. I hop into the driver’s seat and they don’t argue when I stomp on the gas pedal. There’s one other person sitting shotgun and two or three other people in the backseat. I look in the rear-view mirror and see the blob.

The car spins onto the highway and suddenly I feel as if I’m in a video game for car racing. I begin thinking about need for gas, food, shelter. I ask my passengers if they have any money. They answer in the negative. We forgot about that stuff when we were running from the blob. But after a little search, they find a couple hundred dollars stuffed in the glove compartment and a small gray suitcase under one of the seats which contains a strange journal.

The highway narrows down and we’re driving through a strange city with signs in a different language. One of the passengers announce that we’ve arrived in Laos. But how did we end up in a southeast Asian country? I’m feeling hungry, but I drive past the flashy restaurants for westerners–those would only try to rip us off.


The other teaching assistants have abandoned me. I suppose it’s not surprising considering they’ve been complaining nearly non-stop about how the course is run and the professors’ expectations of them. Personally, I also have some reservations about how the course is run (mainly the “controlled” aspect of it–how lectures are scripted and how little freedom there is to improvise) and there are times when I wonder why I’m needed at all.

Anyways, back to the other TAs. They’ve stopped going to lecture. All of them. It only became a big problem today when I got inundated with questions from the undergraduates (talk about a 130:1 ratio!). The amount of questions themselves weren’t a surprise either, I mean, it is near the end of the term and I suppose half of them are panicking about their grades. But still. I’m not going to rag on the other teaching assistants due to their recent peevishness (and it is highly unlikely that any of the profs will find this entry before the end of this term, let alone ever) but I do feel a little resentful that everything fell on my head.

I do remember that as an undergrad, I had taken courses with singularly unhelpful TAs. One time, I was taking a quantum chemistry course (I probably posted something like “Quantum chemistry is evil!” some time in 2000 or 2001) and the TAs would tell the students, “Go figure it out yourself!” Well, most of the class went and complained to the prof who appeared quite annoyed by the situation, but I never heard that anything was done to the TAs.

I did talk to the other TAs about the problem, but I didn’t think they were very sympathetic considering I always finish grading my papers before the weekend.

Thank God It Was Just a Dream

I trudged through a muddy stream running into a dim forest wondering if I had been sucked into a Miyazaki fairy-spirit world. I was following a webbing of twine which had been stretched along the shore like a pseudo path, but it had disintegrated into bits and pieces which disappeared into the litter of the forest floor. A school of strange bubble-like creatures with eyes popped up to the surface of the water when I walked through an intersection of two streams. They didn’t say anything, but they seemed annoyed as if I had accidentally taken the wrong path.

Of course I took the wrong path! I didn’t know where I was going. But then again, I wasn’t looking where I was going and I tripped and fell face first into the mud.

When I came to, I found myself in a strange house. It was one of those houses you would find in a suburban neighborhood owned by an upper middle class couple with three kids and a gas-guzzling SUV. I was in the foyer which had a hardwood floor and no furniture except for a hot tub. There was someone with me in the room–a leering Antonio Banderas look-alike who struck me as being very, very creepy.

An older woman came into the room claiming that she was me in the future. She said something about going to a college in Wales and majoring in music and marrying the Antonio Banderas look-alike. At that point, I told her that this guy was evil, but she only gave me a blank look as if she’d been brainwashed. Then I ran out the front door and started screaming.

It was night in the neighborhood and all the front porch lights were on, but no one came out to find out why I was screaming. About a block away, I looked back and saw a shadow–darker than the night–in the distance and gaining. My voice separated from my body and suddenly I was the voice, an invisible flying entity. I urged myself to hide in one of the houses with an unlocked door and then I continued screaming to lure the shadow away.

As I flew toward the back of the neighborhood, toward the forest, I saw a solitary person jogging. He seemed familiar–he looked a lot like a technician in a lab I used to work at. He stopped, sensing me, and somehow I knew he could help me. I whispered in his ear where he could find me to take me home and then I flew away again, hoping that the shadow wouldn’t find him first.

When I arrived at the edge of the forest, I found a beige hospital corridor had blended into the landscape. At the edge of that strange disembodied hallway, I screamed and made my voice sound fainter as if I was running further away. The shadow, which as it came closer sharpened into the figure of the Antonio Banderas look-alike, ran into the corridor not seeing me. And I flew back to be reunited with my corporeal self.

Overheard Conversation

I never mean to eavesdrop, but some people just talk so loudly that you can’t help but listen. One of my housemate’s friends is obsessive over online dating. I have nothing against online dating except that maybe the probability of meeting a wacko is that much higher, but well this person is more obsessive over possible online dates than what would perhaps call normal. But what can I say? Everyone’s obsessive about something.

* * *
Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Angel:: Sharon Shinn
  2. Birth:: Death
  3. Logic:: Computer
  4. Stars:: Sky
  5. Nursery:: School
  6. View:: Port
  7. Hart:: Mary
  8. Creation:: Firmament
  9. End:: Beginning
  10. Fortune:: Expectation

More Random Links!

The Book Quiz. “You’re Prufrock and Other Observations by T.S. Eliot! Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you’ve really heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.”

Yankee or Dixie Quiz. (via Ectophensis) I’m 66% Dixie even though I don’t have a southern accent (I can’t even fake one).

Exposure To Low-level Magentic Fields Causes DNA Damage In Rat Brain. “Prolonged exposure to low-level magnetic fields, similar to those emitted by such common household devices as blow dryers, electric blankets and razors, can damage brain cell DNA, according to researchers in the University of Washington’s Department of Bioengineering. The scientists further found that the damage from brief exposures appears to build up over time.”

Helping Your Visitors: a State of Mind. More tips on how to make your website user friendly.

Web Elements. This periodic table is cooler than the one listed in the previous post in one way: the original atomic symbols were left in.

More Linkage:

BloggerCon. It’s April 10, 2004 at Harvard (not surprising). And April 10 is a Saturday so maybe I’ll go. But if I go, I would probably only make it to the afternoon sessions.

Periodic Table of Blogs. I’ve actually visited most of those blogs at some time or another (except the baseball blogs–why is it just baseball and not all sports?) before stumbling upon this table. I think it’s a good idea, I mean, everyone should have a personal periodic table of blogs instead of the plain old blogroll. (Actually, mine are filed under the Dewey decimal system so, whatever.)