December 10, 2002

desktop reservoir

Desktop Reservoir

By popular request I’ve finally created a desktop wallpaper gallery. Go nuts and make your computer beautiful.


Ok. So. Now there are random disclaimers at the top of this page. I had to rename the index.html file to index.shtml for this to work. It also took me an hour and a half of being stupid with scripts.

Seriously. I’d say we should train monkeys to write code for web pages if it weren’t for the fact that we already have.

December 9, 2002

can’t spell north without ort

Du Nord :: Edgin' the BWCA

A wonderful weekend of cabins and pines and people and snow and lakes and morning light and pictographs and icicles and random blues and bouldering and table-traversing and fruit and thai and chaos toast and spaghetti-snorting.

“Where did it go?”

“I lost it.”

“Do you feel it in your throat?”

“No. I think it went up in my brain.”


“Oh wait. There it is.”

December 8, 2002

up in da bee dub

“What would be the scariest thing to jump out of the woods, right now?”

“A moose.”

“A wolf.”

“A pack of clowns.”

December 6, 2002

five minute break from class

“Hmm. I wonder if I can get up there.”

“I bet you can.”


“The janitor is pointing at you.”


“Hey you! Kid! On the roof!”

“I don’t think he’s coming back.”

“You go to school here and you just let him do that?!”

“Well, yeah.”

coltrane who?

Steven Den Beste has plunked this at the top of his blog:

20021205: I just wanted to let everyone know that I do read Instapundit and you don’t need to mail me links that Glenn has posted. Thanks.

I had to laugh at the thought of someone linking to Instapundit. It’s like telling a grizzled jazz saxophonist that maybe he should check out this guy called John Coltrane. When a day in the life of Instapundit has fifteen posts he apologizes for his light blogging. This guy knows his ii-V7-I’s in every key and has a bag o’ tricks to match all of ’em.

December 5, 2002

surrender: an excerpt

We woke up the next morning feeling numb and fresh and bolted from the campground before we could be shaken down for money. Later that morning the van started to smell like feet and bananas. Why did it smell like bananas? We hadn?t even been eating bananas.

By noon the smell reached critical mass so we pulled into a gas station to take a break. I opened all the windows and doors as Derek searched for some music, and after settling for some rhythmic static he jumped out of the van with the Frisbee. James was staring at the hearse across the parking lot, so when Derek flung the disc at him he got hit in the temple.

I went into the station to use the bathroom, and saw in the mirror that I had a fresh scab across my left cheek. It tingled. I took care of my business and as I was shaking off, a body grumbled out of the stall next to me and made for the sink. It moved as though its very existence was a terrible burden to be shouldered. I spun around and stole a glance at the man on my way out, but the moment my eyes slid over him he looked up from his hands.

It was the old man. He recognized me as an occupant of the hateful van and his face crinkled in scorn. I made for the door, sped through the station and was in the parking lot when a gnarled hand fell upon my shoulder. I tensed. Behind me a throat cleared violently.

“Hey boy,” it said. I didn’t respond. His presence made my skin feel oily, and I could feel his hand dripping down my arm and staining my soul. “So young, so fresh.” It took me awhile to realize the guttural noises were actually speech. “So cheeky. Think you know everything, eh?”

He raised a crooked finger towards Derek and James, who were crushing cans on their foreheads. The old man bent close to my ear and took in a wet breath. “Watch the company you keep, boy,” he hissed. “People are always watching and marking down in their books. You seem like a smart boy, right?” The old man tightened his grip on my shoulder. He leaned in front of me and exposed his yellow teeth. “Don’t let them open your veins.”


Cleaning, organizing, gutting out my room to make room for arson.

We reviewed our short stories in Fiction class today. No one spit and cawed about grammatical errors and verbation of nounage. No one broke down and wept when his work was criticized. No one leaped across their desk with a blade in his teeth.

Religion got raked over the coals today in Methods class when a student claimed that evidence of the resurrection of Jesus was basis enough to justify one’s faith in Christianity. David Hume won this round, with the argument that it is far, far more likely that the witnesses of the resurrection were mistaken than the laws of the universe were violated for that brief instant. Causality is a strong beast, and it takes something equally strong to bring it down.

Afterwards my professor loaded me down with a metric ton of criticism of Pinker. I’ve got Dupre’s book review of “How the Mind Works”, two papers on animal minds, an essay that hasn’t been published yet about how consciousness could have evolved, and a piece about biological adaptations and evolutionary epistemology. I’m trying to track down Jerry Fodor’s “The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way”, a piece that got published in a number of philosophical journals, but UMD hasn’t paid enough to access the full texts of pieces in WebSPIRS’s Philosopher’s Index.

Huh. Three seconds with Google and I’ve got whole dang thing, with hyperlinks to Fodor’s criticisms of evolutionary psychology. I love the internet. Both Pinker and I will be lucky if we come out of this one alive.

neon memories

As convenient as it would be for the sake of nostalgia… (“the sign of a dying culture,” said some guy whose parents never let him play with knives or mud or anything fun in his youth… one time I was building a walking robot dinosaur in my basement and cut my finger open with an x-acto knife. Gawd, those were the days, when I could stitch up my problems with the basement washtubs and a roll of toilet paper).

Ok. As convenient as it would be for nostalgia, my world of skiing did not start at Powder Ridge. When I was about two years old (the same year that my father was supposed to be watching me at the house, but somehow I ended up running around on the roof)… or three, or four, or whatever… my parents went out to Breckenridge and dumped me and my sister in their ski school/day care/kennel. Parents were able to cast off the shackles of their genetic inheritants and play on the Big Mountain (or mountains, as anyone who has been to Breck knows that it’s spread across a number of groovy peaks), as their squalling balls of frustration played on the insubstantial hill at the kennel.

I, of course, don’t remember any of this. As I creeped into my later elementary school years we made a habit of going out to Colorado every spring break to ski. We would always stop at a restaraunt called Casa Bonita in Denver, which was a slapdash arrangement of Mexican food and high-class entertainment. They had cowboy shoot-outs and cliff jumpers and waterfalls and caves and mariachi bands and a gorilla that kept escaping. It was the coolest place ever.

We usually went to Copper Mountain and Winter Park… or maybe we went to each one only once. I wasn’t blogging when I was nine so there’s really no way to look back and figure out what I did when how many times with who. One year we went out to Big Sky in Montana. One night as we were staying in a hotel in Winter Park we watched Jaws Two, and that pretty much ruined the ocean for me for a good portion of my youth. I think it was that same trip where we first got introduced to Twin Peaks, so that would put it around ’91. My mother and sister became obsessed with the show. I was too young to understand what was going on, but thanks to DVD technology I am able to relive the obsession I never had.

When I skiied it was never about form or posture. One time we went skiing with the Prestons (why the hell-?) and I remember Mrs. Preston talking about balancing a tray on her arms and then “prowling like a cat.” I thought she had gone crazy. I stole a rocky mountain rock on my way down that run. My family said I would get arrested by the forest service.

At Big Sky (I think) a photographer tracked our family down and offered to take our pictures. In an uncharacteristic mood (we usually viewed such things as unnecessary expenses) we agreed and shot a few family photos. This was the neon stage of the 80’s and I was decked out with matching head band, snow pants, gloves and jacket. By matching I mean neon green and pink. It was awesome.

Hmm. I think it was actually the early 90’s. We probably didn’t get over neon until ’92 or ’93. The move Encino Man has pure 80’s hair and style and color, but it wasn’t made until ’92. The decades aren’t nearly as distinct as you think they are. Damn.

My poles and skis matched too, and by matching I mean neon orange and yellow. After I got rid of the bondage skis back at Powder Ridge, I got some white Elans along with my sister. Given my record for losing things my father write my name and phone number in permanent marker across the tips of both skis. I felt like such a dork. I grew out of these skis as quickly as possible (or lost them) and got some K2 Rage skis. They were the envy of the 5th grade, hip and black with neon artwork and yellow bottoms.

They were also the last downhill skis I ever bought. In junior high we had something called Idea Day. Idea Days relieved our unappreciated teachers by letting kids go out and have fun in the real world while supposedly learning something. There were lots of options. You could go to the zoo. You could… uhh… go to the zoo. You could not skip Idea Days and were required to choose an activity. Either you go to the zoo… or… uhh… go skiing, I guess.

It was ’93 or ’94. We took a coach bus up to Spirit Mountain in Duluth. It was the last time I ever experienced the K2 Rage. It was also the last time I would downhill ski for seven years.

December 4, 2002

0rg4n1z4710n4l 5k1llz

Yesterday was crunch day. I turned in my short story that’s been brewing for the entire semester, and by the end was stained with blood draining from my eyes. It’s a nice piece about a road trip, but as with anything written it’s not finished yet. Not done. Never done. You don’t finish a work, you abandon it. Nevertheless, I may soon post a few excepts here for ya’ll.

In another class I gave an hour-long presentation on the current state of the Nature vs. Nurture debate according to Steven Pinker. Pinker is a psychology professor at MIT that does work in cognitive science. Pinker believes in an innate and universal human nature. Pinker is also a self-proclaimed expert in everything. EVERYTHING.

His new book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature., is topping out best-seller lists all over the place. His new book is also a mishmash of everything that Pinker is an expert in. Pinker is a fine writer, and the pages fly by fine as you read it, and you say, “Hey, here’s a scientist that speaks my language. This’um is a boy I can understand!” But when you step back from the seduction of the poet you realize that Pinker doesn’t follow through with any of his arguments. He tosses something out, “Parents have very little influence on the way their kids develop, while peer groups do,” and keeps citing the same circular evidence for the statement.

A few subjects that Pinker is an expert in:

Psychology, evolutionary psychology, family values, violence, rape, selfish gene theory, moral philosophy, egoism, utilitarianism, neoptism, epistemology, parenting, socialism, capitalism, the Left, the Right, anthropology, social constructivism, reductionism, religion, relativism, ethics, crime and punishment, society, culture, superorganisms, the individual, folk science, education…

The book topic is so grandiose that Pinker does justice to nothing, and may be doing science a huge disfavor with his rubbish selling like hotcakes. However, I would definitely recommend you read it. Just please don’t hold it like the Bible. Throw away the dust cover. Drag the book behind your car and tear out pages when you finish them. Always keep in mind that what this boy says is not legitimate science.

When I finished my presentation my professor paused, scratched his head and said, “Your paper’s going to be organized, right?”

I took the rest of the day off.