Tag Archives: Classic

Sam’s Blog Classic: SO MUCH WRITING!

Today I’m posting a “Sam’s Blog Classic” entry. That is, I take an entry from my old blog and re-post it on my new blog because I’m just too busy to write a full entry. This one is topical. Remember when I was complaining about writing five pages?

I’ve spent the last week writing a five page paper. Single spaced. Double-column. 9-pt font.

The length isn’t even the issue, in fact it’s been a bit of a struggle to make it as short as it is; I’ve actually made the format more dense, changing from tiny spaces between paragraphs to indentations and removing all the spacing between the references. Even still, my entire system’s architecture diagram is stuffed onto one tiny column, covered in bubbles just big enough for the font to be legible and with short, stubby arrows filling the tiny spaces between them. The caption on this architecture diagram reads “certain modules omitted for simplicity.” I started this paper as an outline on Monday. It’s due Monday. Specifically, it’s due Monday at 11:59 (UTC-11), which means Tuesday at 6:59AM in Raleigh. Fortunately, I have two brilliant professors, both co-PIs on my project, who are helping me author this thing.

I work on it for a while and turn it in to one of them, who sends it back to me with to-dos. An awful lot of these to-dos are formatting issues, like removing the space between paragraphs. I was lucky enough to know how to use a reference manager to automatically handle my references because one of my tasks was to “change references to be alphabetically ordered.” That means all of the little numbered citation boxes need to be updated, too, then I would need to check them to make sure they’re pointing correctly. My advisor specifically asked me to do this. For my own personal health I will not imagine doing it by hand, as so many other academic authors apparently have done.

The paper just keeps getting better, though. Most people who look at it have been impressed, even this morning when the paper was almost entirely different. I’m thinking that after much reviewing and many iterations the explanation of my system may be understandable to people who aren’t me, but I’ll give it another week before I dump it onto my blog.


Sam’s Blog Classic: “To which all good things must come” and “And now for some good news”

These are two posts from my time in Japan. This was around Halloween time in Autumn in 2008, six years ago

“To Which All Good Things Must Come”

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Yesterday marked the bittersweet end of an era. The large, universally beloved dog that once was omnipresent in our household is no more. That’s right, Marmaduke printed its last strip yesterday. Never again will that wacky great dane outwit his shakily-drawn owners. No more will he bark at that stupid mailman. His burying of bones in the neighbor’s yard is at a close. He has chased his last cat, eaten his family’s last dinner, terrified his last lunch guest. Let us all say goodbye to our dear friend Marmaduke.

Whoah, hey, calm down. It’s just a joke. Marmaduke’s fine, geez. Really it’s my large beloved dog Maggie for whom the end has come. She lived a full and happy life, so this isn’t so much a tragedy as a sad inevitability. Nevertheless, my world is now short one wonderful dog, and I was not present to say goodbye. I cannot think of a better descriptor than tragic, although to compare it to real tragedies in recent memory seems at best inconsiderate and egocentric. It is sad. Very, very, very sad. Sad for me. I am sad. Goodbye, Maggie.

Deaths in the family aside, that’s no reason to deprive you nice folks of a big, juicy post replete image collection.

This weekend was hardly a weekend at all. We spent from eight until four manning a rice-krispy treat booth. Profits were $200. $200/16 hours = $12.50 an hour. Not bad wages, if it weren’t split between ten people, making it $1.25 an hour. The work was fun, though, and money is not an issue.

We were part of an international festival at Gandai. Our America booth was, in a demonstration of the planning committee’s poor knowledge of world events, next to France and Vietnam. France’s vegetable soup and ratatouille quickly met a sound defeat against our mighty legion of rice krispy treats. With France as a protective buffer between us and them, Vietnam just spent the whole time singing loudly in Vietnamese. I’m not sure if they came to sell things or just to annoy us. They did turn a burner on once, but they forgot to turn it off again, and the whole tent smelled like kerosene for a while.

We took our $200 and ate at a tex-mex/irish pub style restaurant where I got a mug of water about the size of my head. Yuki tried some of the spicy chicken wings, and then to ease the burning pain took some of Julie’s regular chicken, which, as it turned out, she had put hot sauce on. Yuki then ate Damon’s salad for relief, only to realize he’d put habanero sauce on it. Fortunately Yuki had by this point finally learned her lesson about stealing other people’s food and just drank water until she recovered.

Um, I guess this post wasn’t as big and juicy as I had expected. Well, it is kinda juicy, but not very big. Sorry about that.


  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what, really? Maggie?! I’m somehow so surprised… I really will miss Maggie. I’m sorry for your loss. (And I’m also sorry for my own loss.) You know, I remember that you first told me you were getting a dog at a Potluck Sunday and I was quite surprised. You just didn’t seem like a dog person and I couldn’t understand how you could keep a dog in your house. But Maggie fit in quite well, though I doubt Midnight ever really warmed up to her completely. Also, Maggie helped me learn that black isn’t always the best thing to wear (especially in the Summer, when it is very hot and when dogs shed the most). When I started reading your post, I really had hoped you were talking about Marmaduke; I would much rather let Marm die than Maggie. Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed yet, I’m Jimmy, who loves you and misses you.
  • What I would give to let Marmaduke take the proverbial bullet instead of Maggie.
  • There’s something seriously amiss when it takes Maggie’s death for me to respond to your blog–which I’ve actually been reading “religiously” since you started. I AM sorry; Maggie was a real part of your family. Quite honestly, I just figured out how to put a comment on your blog. I’ve only had a computer for ten months and I’m a slow learner.

    We love getting your stream-of-consciousness reflections on Japan and seeing all your pictures. Love, Grandma (the one in Maine)

  • Midnight has actually reacted very strangely to Maggie’s passing. She has taken to crawling between the sheets on our bed, and we are often surprised to find her there when we climb in. She also is very demanding of affection and will sit in the middle of the newspaper I am reading or scratch on the bedroom door at 4:30 in the morning wanting to be let in. Love, Mom


“And Now for Some Good News”

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For one, I discovered that I had, in fact, not fulfilled my theoretical arts requirement, which means that Julie May’s wacky art class is, rather than nonsensical and infuriating, is delightful and fortuitous. Not to mention, it was not quite as difficult as I first thought. Especially since the questions on her homework assignments have changed from specific, closed ended questions such as “According to Anderson’s definition, is this art?” to open ended questions that I can reasonably spend a page answering, usually not questions at all, just asking me to “discuss” something. I have received full credit on the last three.

Ikkun and Machiko made a surprise visit this weekend. I suspect it was only a surprise to me, though. This time Machiko’s husband Kazuya came as well. We went to a fish restaurant where a huge tank full of fish surrounds the eating area, which is shaped like a giant ship. Anyone who wishes may fish in the tank, and staff clean the caught fish and make it into the customer’s order. Ikkun caught a tuna (“Maguro” in Japanese) and, about fifteen minutes after seeing it pitiably gasping for air in the waitress’s net, I was eating tuna sushi under the baleful glare of its ornately carved corpse. Hopefully this is as close as I will ever get to the horror stories I’ve heard about eating live animals in various parts of Asia. I don’t have a picture of it alive, as my camera sometimes likes to pretend it’s out of batteries before it actually is.

I plan to collect a great deal of Japanese manga (comic books) so that I can continue my independent japanese study in the states. Manga is an excellent source of new vocabulary. So far I’ve learned the word for “pirate”(Kaizoku) and four new rude ways to say “You!” (Kimi, Temei, Omae, and Kiisama). I think in the future I’ll keep track of the new words in a notebook or something. Right now I’ve just been looking things up as they come and moving on. This gets me through a book, but it doesn’t result in any long-term learning. Learning Japanese will expediate my reading of manga which will expediate my learning of Japanese. Unfortunately at the moment I’m quite busy, so I haven’t been reading manga much.

Oh yeah, there was a halloween party. Masks were made, candies were eaten, and Bomberman masks were worn. Damon went as a Japanese gangster, and Kevin went as a nerd, which has no equivalent in Japan. Nevertheless, he was funny enough that he won first prize in the costume contest anyway.