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:: Sunday, September 30, 2001 ::

I had dinner with my family this evening, and while we were waiting for our food, we began discussing the issues regarding the legislation currently in Congress. Actually it was more of a one-way conversation where I educated them about the scary surveillance and law enforcement bills that could be passed. I think the thing I learned most from this is that I need to work on my communication skills.

For one, I don't think I convinced them of the validity of protecting citizen's liberties over becoming a police state. In fact, they found nothing wrong with the government reading our email and listening to our phone conversations because they have nothing to hide. Argh! I then proceeded to educate them on the principles this country is founded on, the 4th Amendment, judicial precendents, and historical violations in the shadows of war.

My mother made a comment that I use a large vocabulary, which I translate to mean that she hasn't a clue what I'm talking about. I wonder how often I do this to other people. Obviously if I can't communicate with my mother, I'll have difficulty communicating with anybody.

Although I have to admit that my communication skills aren't entirely to blame. I'm also frustrated by people being uninformed, easily swayed by media propaganda, and generally apathetic to world affairs. Or maybe I'm just going about it the wrong way. Am I trying to affect change? Well, if I'm so concerned about things, I suppose I am trying to affect change. But convincing my family that I'm right and they're wrong isn't necessarily the best way to do that. In fact, its probably impossible to take upon the burden I do and make a resolution. Yet I hesitate to throw my concern of world affairs to the wind. Its just not in my blood.

Heh. I think my knowledge of world affairs is the single highest source of stress in my life.


:: everist 2:29 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, September 28, 2001 ::
I saw Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back yesterday. I've been thinking about all the little inside jokes all day today. I know you have to have at least seen all Kevin Smith's prior movies which include: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma.

Jay is so crass that I find it remarkable that he's still funny. My Mom was thinking about going to see that movie yesterday and I didn't know whether to discourage or encourage. There's a certain charm to all Jay's gay jokes and the way he calls women "bitches". Couple that with the duos zany antics and its a strange movie indeed.

Last night I noticed something about Mark Hamill's appearance as the supervillain in the movie-within-a-movie. Mark gets his hand chopped off by Jay's light saber and says "Oh no, not again." Of course this looks like an obvious parody of the Empire Strikes Back. But the *real* parody is Spaceballs when the guy has the alien burst out of his stomach and says, "Oh no, not again", which was supposed to be a parody of Alien. So in actuality, it was a Star Wars parody, *plus* a parody of a parody that was in a Star Wars parody. Confusing huh?
:: everist 1:44 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, September 27, 2001 ::
Going to the doctor today to get my wisdom teeth checked out. This is the guy whose supposedly going to pull them. I've been doing my best not to think about having surgery because it's not a pretty thought. They'll be giving me the general anesthesia so supposedly I'll sleep through the whole thing. The last time I had surgery under anesthesia was when I was 14, and I can remember being terrified.
:: everist 2:11 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 26, 2001 ::
I went against my better judgement today and watched TV. Rather I watched the first show of the new Star Trek. Yes it was full of cheesy TV plots, but it was kind of nostalgic seeing the youthful Enterprise crew bumbling around all over the place.

Yay, the first meeting of the Klingons. Its kind of quaint having to speak different languages all the time. Got rid of the nasty plot-destroying Universal Translator. And yay! No more Holodecks! No more lousy holodeck stories. And how I loved that they loathed the Vulcans for their withholding of knowledge. Certainly could turn out to be an interesting series.

I wonder if I'll be able to continue watching it.
:: everist 10:48 PM [+] ::
Turns out I was right about MSNBC yanking a section from their story. Here is the missing section:

COVERAGE OF HEARING RESTRICTED
After Ashcroft finished speaking, committee Democrats called civil liberties and free-speech advocates to testify, including representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way, which have echoed some of Conyers' concerns.
But while Ashcroft's testimony was open to television cameras, the committee's Republican staff ordered camera crews to leave, including those of C-SPAN, the public interest network available on cable television systems nationwide, NBC News' Mike Viqueira reported.
Print reporters and members of the general public were allowed to remain, meaning the speakers' comments could be reported, but none of them would be available for Americans to see or hear for themselves.
House rules state, "Whenever a hearing or meeting conducted by a committee or subcommittee is open to the public, those proceedings shall be open to coverage by audio and visual means," Viqueira reported.

I still don't know what the intentions of MSNBC were for omitting this section, but at this point I don't care much.
:: everist 10:34 PM [+] ::
I arrived at work at 7am this morning. I was up fairly early. Too bad I didn't have the urge to go running this morning. Still rainy, but I suppose I'll have to grin and bear it soon.

Making real progress on my work project this morning. Developing some client-side autoconfiguration tools to help with the interactive nature of my GUI. Kind of complicated to do, but I've gone over this stuff so many times in the past 2 months that its a piece of cake for me.

:: everist 10:07 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 ::
I've been reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin this evening. Quite enthralling stuff actually. So far I've only read about his youth in Pennsylvania running his printing press, but the colloquial nature of it is still interesting. He has the qualities of modesty and commitment to self-improvement that I find very familiar. He is also has perseverance and a willingness to change his behavior to influence public perception of himself, neither of which I possess to a great degree.

Of course all this stuff he is writing about takes place before the Revolution, the entirety of which I'm fairly ignorant of. Actually the entirety of this independent study has given me an insight into history that I had originally neglected for more "practical" studies. I guess I'm learning it now.

Or not.
:: everist 10:51 PM [+] ::
Alright, I've been going a little nuts today. Yesterday in a House committee, Attorney General Ashcroft testified why he thinks Congress should give law enforcement authorities more surveillance powers, more access to Internet user information, and wiretapping powers that would not require a court order. Of course, the breach of American's civil liberties and the gross violations of the 4th Amendment (Right to Unreasonable Search and Seizure) are obvious to anyone, so the civil liberties advocates were in line to take the stand. However before they could speak, the Republican controlled committee order the television cameras out of the proceedings and only allowed the reporters to take written notes. So this disallowed television viewers from actually hearing the civil liberties advocates state their case.

Oh my god! I just checked the MSNBC article and they pulled out the tidbit regarding pulling out the cameras. Obviously they exercised some editorial control, but why remains to be seen. Either the information was completely inaccurate, or the editorial staff found the remarks to be too inflammatory towards "pro-America" agenda.

*sigh*

I need a break.
:: everist 4:14 PM [+] ::
Its been raining all day today. Its starting to feel more like Oregon since its been relatively dry all summer.

I got an email from Alberto Behar this morning. He works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I had read his Ph.D. thesis on Sub-Kilogram Intelligent Tele-robots. Basically it was a study on the cooperative task accomplishing ability of semi-autonomous robots given a specific goal. The goal was supposed to be to land on the surface of an asteroid, and proceed to prospect for valuable resources. For the thesis, Behar use a derivative simulation that only involved searching for and collecting samples in a controlled environment. The particular focus of the experiment was to measure the overall colony efficiency given a level of tele-assistance and specific colony size. Quite interesting stuff.

I've been interested in the concept of asteroid mining for quite some time. What kind of resources can you harvest on asteroids? Well they contain a whole bunch of useful things, but the most notable and immediately important would be water. Why water? Well, if you can bring thousands of tons of water into earth orbit, it will be worth its weight in gold. By virtue of the sheer cost of fuel to launch anything from the surface of the earth, going out on a 2 year mission to harvest water from an asteroid millions of miles away suddenly becomes an economic possibility. And we're talking billions of dollars in money here. The only thing that prevents us from doing something now is the prohibitive cost in capital and the very very high risk factor. Given a couple decades, this idea will start to be implemented.

:: everist 9:29 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, September 24, 2001 ::
Just got back from my home away from home. Yes that's right, my roommate Logan's parent's house. Home to 4 people, 3 dogs and 4 cats.

I hung around there for a while and watched TV on the Sci-Fi channel. Yes, there's nothing like a good sci-fi show. Although I think I've had my television fix for a while.

I have 2 things I should have done this afternoon and didn't. The first is work on my independent study class. I've been taking American Literature from PSU for about 15 months now. There's no good reason why I've been working on it for 15 months. I've mostly been a slacker. Although partly this can be attributed to the fact the first several chapters are all Puritan literature. Let me tell you, reading that stuff is like walking through knee-deep mud. Its so boring! Fortunately, I've made my way into Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, so its starting to get more interesting. (and comprehensible!)

The other thing I'm working on is a little walking robot. The mechanical design comes out of a kit. It's a Stiquito. A little 6-legged walking robot that costs only $15 in parts. Anyway, I'm going to mount a microcontroller on the back of this little guy, so he can finally walk on his own. The problem is making all the circuits along with batteries weigh less than 50g. Let me tell you its not easy. I'm not sure I can make the cut. Right now I'm just waiting for parts to arrive in the mail so I can start working again.


:: everist 9:42 PM [+] ::
On the way back from work today, I was waiting at the stopping light and I heard some righteous tunes coming from the car next to me. I yelled out the window asking the guy in the car who the group was. He said "Outcast" and he was playing "Bombs over Baghdad. Pretty cool.

Its funny that I remember this now. But on the morning of Sep. 11, I got up at about 4:30am. Much much earlier than I normally get up. This was just before the attacks occurred. Anyway, I stepped outside my apartment door and it was all dark. But I noticed movement down on the grass. I looked closer and lo and behold it was a raccoon foraging around in the grass. He stood up and looked at me. I walked by him and he wasn't the least bit timid. I thought to myself that I'd have a story to tell my roommates when I got home that day.

Of course, national events of the day completely overshadowed my memory of the raccoon and I didn't remember until a week later. Nothing big, but I don't think I've ever seen a racoon that wasn't roadkill.


:: everist 6:41 PM [+] ::
Got back from running. Off to work I go!
:: everist 3:44 PM [+] ::
Got home from work real early. Think I'm going to go running now. Then maybe I'll go back to work. Yes I know I'm sadistic.
:: everist 2:41 PM [+] ::
Haven't played a computer game since September 11. I managed to conveniently use the terrorist attack to excuse myself from my in-game obligations. I was playing Anarchy Online religiously, but now I'm finally out.

Watched a really strange movie last night called Memento. It completely messed me up today. The main character in the movie has Anterograde Amnesia so he can't create new memories. He writes himself notes so he can remember whats going on in his life. He's constantly rediscovering the notes with respect to the memories he had right before he suffered a concussion. In some strange way this movie found my worst fear to be losing my ability to remember. Not to mention this movie chalked full of inner monologue and paranoia that sounds a lot like my own inner monologue.

I called my Senators and Representatives today to urge them to vote against the lightning fast legislation being proposed in Congress these past couple weeks. Specifically I addressed the expanded wiretapping capabilities that the federal government would give that would violate our civil liberties and possibily violate the 4th Amendment, (Right to Unreasonable Search and Seizure). You can find more info at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Call your Congressmen ASAP!


:: everist 2:26 PM [+] ::