Random acts of kindness

Just when you thought the world was in huge trouble, you see an act that give you faith in humanity. I truly love those moments because so often we see these negative things on Tv: rape, murder, suicide, and hatred.

Yesterday I was with a friend of mine, talking his recent slip into some rather unfortunate circumstances. He told me I could blog about yesterday’s events, but I’ll protect his identity for now. If he wants to out himself, he can do that through commenting on this post. He cast some pretty bad lots and was lamenting not having been hugged in a long time. I suggested, in a tone of mirth, that he walk through Ho Plaza (where each student passes at least once a day according to the campus tours) with his arms outstretched in a hug shape and see if some random person hugged him. He responded that he would find that unsatisfactory because he wouldn’t know the person. He may as well just walk up to some random person and ask for a hug. At least one person, he claimed, would comply. While I disagreed people would hug on command (I certainly wouldn’t!), I didn’t say anything because there are always bozos out there that will act irrationally when compared to normal social protocol.

We left the subject to work on our homework and project for the upcoming week. We spoke of many things, but we did not return to the subject of hugs. I certainly did not want to bring it up because I have no pleasure in seeing others suffer. He didn’t want to bring it up because he’s not a sadist. (Well, he’s a bit sadistic in the way he loves to code…but that’s a different story)

An hour passed and we completed all the work we needed to do for this weekend. We both got up to leave and packed up. As we walked through the hallway, we passed this female college student who had been about two desks away from us in the hallway. She stood up to hug my friend, and, I was dumbstruck. I automatically assumed they knew each other and she was bidding him goodbye. Then my brain began to work again and I realized that she was responding to his lack of hugs. She was very nice about it and had such a big smile on her face. I commented, “that’s very nice of you,” My friend was a little pessimistic about it, but given his circumstances, I don’t blame him.

“It’s nice, but not the same,” he proclaimed.

As we walked out, I said, loud enough for her to hear, “That was very nice of her.”

Because, when you think about it, it was VERY nice of her. She had no idea who my friend was and didn’t have any reason to hug him. She just saw another human being who had a need and then sacrificed to fulfill his need. What did she sacrifice? She put herself out in the open and made herself vulnerable to him. I’m glad she did. I know that the odds are EXTREMELY slim, but I hope she reads this. Whoever you are, thank you for doing that for my friend. I hope you have planted a seed of hope within him.

Hello Lamewads!

This song is one of my newest favorite songs and so I thought I’d share the lyrics with you. Part of what I love about this song is the fact that I was acting this way for a while at Cornell and I could have used a song to point out how ridiculous I was being. It’s about trying just hard enough to not be the worst. For a while I just wanted to get the curve. Then I realized how bad that was. I needed to strive for the absolute best and never settle with being on the curve. The lyrics are great and Reese proves once again why he has a legion of fans.

“Hello Lamewads”
by Roper

Feel the burn and the fury of my pen
feel the fire, as I fan the flames again
brace yourself for the mediocre
Hail the king of the almost good enough
nothing bold, nothing’s flying off the cuff
things might change, but don’t hold your breath yet
Try floating with the flow,
try not to run too slow
be average, not below, Let’s go

[Chorus:]
Hello lamewads, I’m with you
raise your fists if this rings true
Hello lamewads, never quite our best or finest
hello lamewads, I’m predicting a C minus, now.

Hello lamewads, hello.
Like a shoelace slowly coming loose
like a flashlight running out of juice
save your necks, with some lame excuses
I’m neither friend or foe, I’m never going pro
does this sound apropos?
Let’s go.

Niether hot nor cold this is getting old.

Blogging Takes off in India

Dina Mehta’s post about the current state of Blogging in India resonates so well across cultural and state boundaries because she touches on topics which transcend the human race. One of the best things about the article, in addition to the great writing, is the fact that, by reading it, one realized that in most ways all of humanity shares the same traits.

For example, this paragraph of her article pertained to me in every aspect:

Many bloggers will tell you of their addiction to blogging that goes well beyond just writing a piece. How many active bloggers can really say they do not start their day looking for reactions to something they wrote the previous day? Or checking if someone has linked to something they’ve written? Or running their newsreaders to look for interesting pieces by other bloggers in their community? Or checking back at others’ posts they might have left comments at to see how the discussion is evolving? Or checking blog statistics to assess whether more or fewer people are reading what they write?

I love checking behind the scenes of my blog at least daily to see who has written comments. Up to now it’s mostly been my fiancee, and I’m glad to have the comments, but I would hope to have more people making comments as more and more people learn about my blog.

I also love going to other people’s blogs to see what style others employ. Some bloggers like to make themselves into a portal. For those unfamiliar with the jargon, it means they pick a subject for the post and then point the user to a dozen other sites they can go to for learning about the subject. In one extreme example a blog post consisted of just a news headline and lines to news websites talking about it. Others, use their blogs to editorialize. I do this myself with articles like the one I wrote about Snoop coming to Cornell. Some use them as journals where they write about every detail of their lives, no matter how banal.

When it comes to my own blog, I like to think that I have a mix of editorial and journal as my format. Which side my blog seems to be leaning towards depends on my mood at the time. If I’m spending more time watching the news and learning then I tend to editorialize more. Most recently I’ve been using my blog as a forum for advocating Open Source Technology, specifically Linux most of the time. But when the driving force in my life is more of a personal one, I talk more about that.

The other thing Dina mentions in her article that really resonated with me involved the media:

There will be a day when this new media will encourage traditional media to find new ways to connect with their audiences. Where it will change the way people, groups and organizations organize for work and play. Where organizations in India will wish to adopt such technologies and pay bloggers for their time spent blogging.

I have already seen this begin to take root within the traditional media. MSNBC.com has many of its news personalities maintaining blogs where they talk about the items they are reporting in the news. I’m curious to see what people will end up thinking of this. I know that early reaction tended to be a bit resentful as people felt that these weren’t honest blogs, they were just trying to take over what we “little people” were using. In a way it felt as though we were being violated and corrupted. I know there has been a bit of a reversal with MSNBC’s Keith Olberman mentioning getting some of his news sources from blogs. Slowly people will begin to adapt to this new paradigm.

So, as I said in the beginning, it was most amazing to me to see how similar we are in different countries. I feel that there are two ways in which the Internet can have a VERY positive impact. First of all, it can serve to desseminate the ideas of the repressed who have no way of getting their message out on the traditional media. Second, as more and more people truly navigate webpages of others from around the world, the Internet will allow them, if they open their minds, to see that all of us are the same. There is no reason to hate others in a blind xenophobia. If one must feel ill will towards others let it be towards the individual who has wronged you, not the race or country you know little about.

MOody with Music!

Hey, I finally got the MyMooMus plugin for WordPress working after taking a look at the code and clarifying the way to use the tags. I had originally misunderstood the way it worked and was a little frustrated when it appeared not to be working right. You’ll notice on the rest of my posts that I will be having my mood and the song I’m listening to posted. This was the last feature I was missing from my Tripod blog. Now I am 100% fully content with this software.

Snoop for Slope Day

Every year we have a celebration on the final day of the school year on Cornell’s Libe Slope. It used to be a drunken orgy but it has morphed, in recent years into a concert with over-priced food and an ugly orange fence which makes getting to classes very hard. A couple of years ago Fat Joe was the lead act. Last year Kanye West was the headliner, although I didn’t get to see him because they weren’t allowing video cameras in and it was too much of a hassle to get back to the apartment. This year we’re getting Snoop Dogg along with some no name rapper. What’s interesting to me is the fact that a school as white as Cornell has had rap acts for the past three years. I’m not being naive or racist, saying that white people can’t listen to rap. I know they listen to rap.

My wonderment comes more from the fact that at most of the parties here they play rock and country so I would assume they would want to invite someone like that for Slope Day. The only reasoning for this trend could be that, perhaps, a disproportionate amount of the members of the Slope Day committee like rap music when compared to the campus at large. I think one of the funniest things is how the rappers themselves react to being here. I remember Fat Joe saying things like, “Oh you lawyers and doctors know how to party!” and “this is your chance to kick back instead of studying” and other funny little comments.

It will be very interesting to see what happens this year with Snoop. I’m very torn on what to do this year for Slope Day. For the past two years, cameras have gotten me into trouble on the Slope. Sophomore year my camera was distracting me from the people I was with so they got a lil ticked. Last year they wouldn’t let me in because I had a video camera. So this year I had resolved to just go without any cameras. But that is completely against my very being. I’m very torn on what to do. If I take it and something happens, I KNOW I’ll never live it down – 3/4 Slope Days ruined. However, if I don’t take it and then lament not being able to take pictures the whole time, that won’t solve anything either.

This is why I always wish they had just left Slope Day unregulated as it was in the past. Yes, people used to drink themselves into oblivion, but there were people like me who just walked around and laughed at the drunkards while just having a good time taking pictures with their friends. Some of the only pictures I have of some of my friends are pictures from Slope Day. Plus, on Sophomore slope day I wouldn’t have been able to get pictures of some of the people who showed up dressed in drag or of the old man playing the accordian.

So what can I possibly do? I seem to be in a catch-22 situation. I will end up either just going ahead of time without my fiancee to see if they will allow me to take my camera in or I will end up not taking it. I’m not going to take it without knowing for sure because I really can’t take being wrong…this really is the last straw. Check back on or after 6 May and either see the pictures or simply read what I had to say. I want things to go well so bad….

Happy 3.5 Years!

My fiancee and I stopped keeping track of how many months we’d been together once we reached the year-mark. However, since this is the last major milestone left before marriage later this year, I wanted to wish you a happy 3.5 years!

It seems already as though we’ve been together for an eternity. Everything is as perfect as it can be at this point in our lives. Every day I look forward to the day the pastor presents us to the world as husband and wife!

Quotes

Those of you who may be new to my blog because you discovered me through a ping-back or some other method than coming over from It’s A Binary World 1.0 don’t know about my quotes posts. Throughout the day I collect quotes I hear in class, emails, or other sources and place them in my AIM profile. Whenever my profile contains too many characters, I move the quotes into my blog and refresh my AIM profile with new quotes.

Here are today’s quotes:

“That’s a power all mexicans have” – Dan, when the Mexican survives a car crash unharmed in Constantine

“The 1 key is lonely, so why don’t i just map A1 to capslock.” – Richard West

“No one has ever made promises that progress is linear or
clean… 2 steps forward and 1 step back…it’s a cha-cha.. a bloody
bare-knuckles knockdown dragout cha-cha… stiletto heels optional.” – Jeff Spaleta

More Numa Numa Action!

Remember when I talked about Numa Numa guy getting his big break on tv? He’s got a name now and it’s Gary Brolsma. (Well, he always had a name, but now we know it!) Following is a CNET article I found about him and my comments following any paragraphs I feel warrant comment.

Internet fame is cruel mistress for video dancer
02/26/05 | 07:24 AM PST
Jason George

Here is the cautionary tale of a guy from New Jersey who made the grave mistake of uploading a clip of himself lip-syncing.

I guess this solves my question of how the video ended up on the internet. Personally, I think you have to know that if you upload stuff, people could mess with it. It’s a risk I take whenever I post pictures of myself. Fortunately, I’m usually not doing anything funny enough in the pictures to be worth posting all over the internet.

There was a time when embarrassing talents were a purely private matter. If you could sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in the voice of Daffy Duck, no one but your friends and family would ever have to know.
But with the Internet, humiliation–like everything else–has now gone public. Upload a video of yourself playing flute with your nose or dancing in your underwear, and people from Toledo to Turkmenistan can watch.
Here, then, is the cautionary tale of Gary Brolsma, 19, amateur videographer and guy from New Jersey, who made the grave mistake of placing on the Internet a brief clip of himself dancing along to a Romanian pop song. Even in the bathroom mirror, Brolsma’s performance could only be described as earnest but painful.
His story suggests that the quaint days when cultural trinkets, like celebrity sex tapes, were passed around like novels in Soviet Russia are over. It says a little something of the lightning speed at which fame is made these days.

To begin at the beginning:
Brolsma, a pudgy guy from Saddle Brook, made a video of himself this fall performing a lip-synced version of “Dragostea Din Tei,” a Romanian pop tune, which roughly translates to “Love From the Linden Trees.” He not only mouthed the words, he bounced along in what he called the “Numa Numa Dance”–an arm-flailing, eyebrow-cocked performance executed without ever once leaving the chair.
In December, the Web site newgrounds.com, a clearinghouse for online videos and animation, placed a link to Brolsma on its home page and, soon, there was a river of attention. “Good Morning America” came calling and he appeared. CNN and VH1 broadcast the clip. Parodists tried their own Numa Numa dances online. By Friday, the Brolsma rendition of “Love From the Linden Trees” had attracted nearly 2 million hits on the original Web site alone.

Again, this is partially his fault from going on these Tv shows, but I don’t see why he is so embarassed. I haven’t heard anyone say look at this dumb guy. People usually say, look at this crazy guy. And that’s a compliment when you’re trying to be funny, at least I think it is.

It was just as Diane Sawyer said on her television program: “Who knows where this will lead?”
Nowhere, apparently. For, in Brolsma’s case, the river became a flood.
He has now sought refuge from his fame in his family’s small house on a gritty street in Saddle Brook. He has stopped taking phone calls from the news media, including The New York Times. He canceled an appearance on NBC’s “Today.” According to his relatives, he mopes around the house.
What’s worse is that no one seems to understand.
“I said, ‘Gary this is your one chance to be famous – embrace it,'” said Corey Dzielinski, who has known Brolsma since the fifth grade. Gary Brolsma is not the first guy to rocket out of anonymity on a starship of embarrassment. There was William Hung, the Hong Kong-born “American Idol” reject, who sang and danced so poorly he became a household name. There was Ghyslain Raza, the teenage Quebecois, who taped himself in a mock light-saber duel and is now known as the Star Wars Kid.
In July 2003, Raza’s parents went so far as to sue four of his classmates, claiming they had placed the clip of him online without permission. “Ghyslain had to endure and still endures today, harassment and derision,” according to the lawsuit, first reported in The Globe and Mail of Toronto.

Of course the Star Wars Kid is a different case because other people put his stuff on the internet. That’s just mean and a violation of his privacy….even if he did forget to erase his performance off the tape, they needed to have asked his permission to publish it.

Brolsma has no plans to sue, his family said–mainly because he would have to sue himself. In fact, they wish he would bask a little in his celebrity.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” his grandfather, Kalman Telkes, a Hungarian immigrant, said the other day while taking out the trash.
The question remains why two million people would want to watch a doughy guy in glasses wave his arms around online to a Romanian pop song.
“It definitely has to be something different,” said Tom Fulp, president and Webmaster of newgrounds.com. “It’s really time and place.”
“The Numa Numa dance,” he said, sounding impressed. “You see it and you kind of impulsively have to send it to your friends.”
“Make a video and become famous”
There is no way to pinpoint the fancy of the Internet, but in an effort to gauge Brolsma’s allure, the Numa Numa dance was shown to a classroom of eighth graders at Saddle Brook Middle School–the same middle school that he attended, in fact.
The students’ reactions ranged from envious to unimpressed. “That’s stupid,” one of them said. “What else does he do?” a second asked. A third was a bit more generous: “I should make a video and become famous.”
The teacher, Susan Sommer, remembered Brolsma. He was a quiet kid, she said, with a good sense of humor and a flair for technology.
“Whenever there were computer problems, Gary and Corey would fix them for the school,” she said.
His friends say Brolsma has always had a creative side. He used to make satirical Prozac commercials on cassette tapes, for instance. He used to publish a newspaper with print so small you couldn’t read it with the naked eye.
“He was always very out there–he’s always been ambitious,” said Frank Gallo, a former classmate. “And he’s a big guy, but he’s never been ashamed.”
Another friend, Randal Reiman, said: “I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s not that impressive–it doesn’t have talent. But I say, Who cares?”
These days, Brolsma shuttles between the house and his job at Staples, his family said. He is distraught, embarrassed. His grandmother, Margaret Telkes, quoted him as saying, just the other day, “I want this to end.”
And yet the work lives on. Fulp, the Webmaster, continues to receive online homages to the Numa Numa dance. The most recent showed what seemed to be a class of computer students singing in Romanian and, in unison, waving their hands.
Reiman figures the larger world has finally caught on to Gary Brolsma.
“He’s been entertaining us for years,” he said, “so it’s kind of like the rest of the world is realizing that Gary can make you smile.”

There you have it, the story of the Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa kid.

Enough is enough!

I was trying to pay my Verizon Wireless bill a few weeks ago and it kept having problems. I checked the credit card number, the expiration date, and every other field, but it was still not working. Finally I got fed up enough to call tech support rather than risk being locked out or something. So I gave them a call and the lady says to me, “oh, you’re using Firefox aren’t you?”
“Yes I am” (because I don’t like viruses and other M$ exploits taking over my computer)
“Oh well, I’m sorry, but you can’t use that browser here to pay your bills.”
“What?”
“Oh, don’t worry, our engineers are working on it.”

I was thoroughly ticked off! WTF was this setup M$ had with vendors to purposely make the code so that it wouldn’t work with Firefox? I should be able to use whichever browser I choose to surf the internet.

Then today I tried to watch a clip online in the Windows Media Streaming format and it didn’t work. As soon as I went into my Internet Explorer browser it began to play. Microsoft can’t continue this policy or they will lose in a big way. They are counting on people saying, “I can’t use my browser to view WMVs? I’m going back to IE.” But what people will actually do is get mad at what M$ is trying to do. They are infringing upon our rights to use our computers however we want to use them.

I know they are scared if they actually play nice that people will finally see they are a good software company, but not a great one. However, enough is enough! Users need to be able to use their computers in whatever manner they wish, including using outside browsers.

Two interesting bits of knowledge

First of all, congrats to the WordPress team! In just two weeks they were able to have 50 000 downloads of the blog software this site is running. I HIGHLY recommend them if you have your own server and want to run your own blog.

Second, for those who are used to the format of my old blog where the posts are never ending to the bottom and then you click back to go to the previous posts, this blog software handles things a little differently. You will onlly see on one page (plus clicking back) posts from that month. So, this blog doesn’t only have two posts, it also has a bunch of february posts which can be access by click on “february 2005” under archives.

Yay, It’s March!

Alright, It’s 1 March so it’s time to break out the shorts and tank tops! No? Oh yeah, Ithaca is too far away to get the memo that it’s March so today I looked out and saw all this snow. In fact, it was actively snowing when I looked out the window. When I got in my car to go buy Bambi for my fiancee (it came out on DVD today) and drove to Best Buy, I was taken aback at how beautiful the snow looked. Since it was early in the morning, it hadn’t been soiled by cars driving over it or plows pushing dirty snow around. I resolved to take my camera out with me when I walked to class. It turned out that you just get a very different image from the snow on campus than you do from the snow in the mountain roads leading to the mall. I have decided to include some of the pictures I took today. Enjoy.


Poor seeds...hang on....
These poor seeds remained on the tree through
the whole winter – if they can just wait a few more weeks

Rebel Base on Ice Planet Hoth
Darth Vader, I have found the Rebel Base on
the Ice Planet Hoth. Please don’t make me an admiral…

Ho Plaza
It’s very rare to see something so beautiful and
so depressing at the same time


It’s not a mirage….it never ends

Thanks

I just wanted to say:

Thanks to my family who has been praying for me to get better and a

HUGE thanks to my fiancee who spent all weekend doing everything possible to get me better!

There are few better demonstrations of love than caring for someone when they’re ill.

He’s a dancin’ machine!

Today while talking to my dad about dancing, I realized I really don’t like booty dancing. I mean, I’ve done it before at numerous dances and I’d do it again instead of just sitting around bored, but I just don’t like it. I think it’s too repetitive and, frankly, not creative at all. I don’t know, it just bores me to dance it. Spanish music, on the other hand, I could dance all night long – or until I got tired. I guess I just feel more connected to my partner, for starters. When I’m in the groove I feel like we’re both one organism moving together. We move around seamlessly, without any verbal communication. Additionally, who knows, I may spin her or do another of the hundreds of moves from the dance. It also looks a lot more beautiful. Finally, it’s much more intimate. There aren’t too many social activities that make me feel as close to someone as when we’re dancing a bachata. I feel so connected and that’s why I love it so much.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t go to too many parties on campus. If they have any dance music it’s likely to be hip-hop and I just get bored after about 10 minutes. With Spanish music I could go forever, with a few breaks for water and to rest my feet, that is.

Mario is dead, long live Mario!

This week is National Engineering Week and we’ve been doing some pretty interesting things here at Cornell. For example, whoever could name the most digits to Pi would win a pie. We had a social contraceptive contest to see who could come up with the worst pickup line. But nothing we have done, or will do, here at Cornell, stacks up to what engineers did at this school!. They took a whole bunch of Post-It© notes and created a mural to Mario. I will post some of the pictures here in case their page goes down or is slash-dotted. By the way, if you go to their website you’ll see the reasons for the title of my post.

Mario 1

Mario 2

Mario 3

Another point of view

I have recently had yet another paradigm shift involving my use of the GNU/Linux operation system. Up until now I was treating it like a better, more stable version of Windows. At first I even tried to do everything graphically, shunning away from anyone who told me to use the command line. I figured they were just some diehards who felt that mouse users were below them and considered their advice to be one-sided.

Grugingly I moved to the command line when it was obvious I had to. Up2date, Redhat’s updater at the time of Fedora Core 1 was horrible and always caused my computer to freeze up. I had to go to the terminal and use yum. Yum usage and the little I had learned from my DOS days (how to change directories and other trivial tasks) were all that I did in the command line.

Wireless access on the laptop was the first thing to push me to the command line. Until Fedora Core 3, there wasn’t even a GUI for wireless controls that came bundled. So I was off to the terminal to type in commands to see which wireless routers were available (iwlist scanning) and which I was connected to (iwconfig). From there I began to use it more and more for deleting and moving files around. Sometimes it was just so much more efficient than using the GUI for that stuff.

Recently I neared the completion of my conversion over to the command line when I began launching files from the command line followed by &, allowing me to continue working. I used to think this was just a cool geeky thing to do – launch stuff from the command line while others pointed and clicked away. However, I quickly discovered two advantages. First of all, you don’t have to look through the menus to find the program, just type its name on the command line. If you only knew how much time I wasted sometimes looking for a program in Windows’ Start Menu. Second, by starting a program in the command line, you open up a world of debugging information. Nearly everything you do produces a prompt on the command line. For example, when I started amarok on my slow Pentium 2 machine it gave me this output: “amarok is taking a long time to load. You may want to check if there’s a problem.” If you just started the program from the icon, you’d never see that. It also has the added side effect of geekifying your desktop – if that’s your thing – by having a terminal window open with all this program information flashing by. It looks very “hacker movie.” 😀

Am I ready to completely move to the command line? No, I don’t think that’s a good thing. Too much in any direction is always a bad thing and there are definitely some advantages to doing things in GUIs, epsecially since I’m a visual person. But I have certainly learned the value of the command line and no longer scorn those who recommend it.