Monthly Archives: October 2004


I went out to dinner with a bunch of fellow exchange students, along with some Brit tagalongs. We went to Dojo’s, an pan-asian “noodle bar.”
Today has been a really good day for food. It’s too bad I have to go to sleep now to wake up in time for practice tomorrow (starts at 6).
I’ve forgotten how I dealt with this problem at MIT, mostly because last year crew switched to a schedule that could almost be called reasonable.

A quote

A quote from an awesome New York times article, written by a professional reporter. I think I’ll leave this as my only election commentary.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend – but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community?


I have just upgraded WordPress (the program that runs this website), a ridiculously complicated and ultimately unsatisfactory process, because the previous version was discovered to have a security problem. Anyway, the result is that the blog is being hosted from a slightly different place, but this should be transparent to you, and that the fonts are smaller because I lost that customization.

Oh well. It should all be fine now.

Rowing lunch

I had my rowing lunch meeting. It was interesting, mostly because it really tasty. The captain cooked rotini with marinara sauce, red and yellow peppers, onions, boiled peapods, and canned tuna. Easy to make and yummy.

There wasn’t too much content to the meeting, except that we’re going to start training a lot more, and that we only have 8 guys who even want to be in the first boat.
Pretty dull day otherwise. I’m almost, sort of getting some work done.


It’s a wonder anyone manages to eat 2000 calories a day. I had to go back for second dessert at dinner today.
Oh wait. That’s because we had a practice for crew during lunchtime.
Good thing we’re all having lunch together tomorrow instead.
Hmm. Practice-instead-of-lunch today, lunch-instead-of-practice tomorrow.

Comment posting

In my effort to control comment spam, I had configured the site to require adminstrator approval of all posts. As Fen pointed out, this is an unsatisfactory solution. As such, I have deactivated this option, and am trusting my content filters.

Isn’t there some scene in a Star Trek movie or episode where they have to turn off their shields to avoid being detected or some such thing? It’s kinda like that. Well, a little. Not very much.

Translation Odyssey

I took my copy of the Marquez book to the Fitz library, along with my laptop, so I could use their dictionary. There are supposed to be digital spanish-english dictionaries available on the computer system, but those are all non-functional at the moment. I had expected not to be able to find a power outlet, and so I was pleasantly surprised to find one in the reference room. I sat down and started translating.

It was slower than I’d imagined. I’d read the passage several times, and thought I pretty much understood what was going on, and I had, less or more, but the details were numerous, and I had little choice but to err on the side of caution and look up seemingly every word. About an hour through translation I realized that the white-noise background in the room was actually rain on the roof, or more accurately a downpour. I had my laptop with me and no raincoat. I kept translating. After about 2.5 hours I was done with my first pass, and was amazed to discover that what had been handed to me in a reasonable typeface on less than a single sheet of paper occupied two and half pages 12pt single-spaced on my screen, despite reducing the number of words from the original. At a page an hour, it wasn’t exactly speedy translation. To be fair, Marquez writes a little like Hawthorne, in sentences that have no problem with running for half a page. By the time I had finished the rain had stopped. I hurried back to my room, transferred the files to my computer-system (Public Workstation Facility) account, then went to the computer room to print it. When I got there I decided I needed to make one last wording change, and ended up logging back into my computer remotely and recopying the file before printing it. It was about 10:25 at this point. I printed it out on the malfunctioning college printer, tossed it into my backpack, and biked down to King’s college, in the center of town, to turn it in. King’s college had “closed” at 10:30, and there was a sign outside to this effect. I was surprised, as I’d read on their website that their porter’s lodge was open 24 hours a day. I pushed vainly on the huge, ancient wooden door. Eventually, one small part of the door, indistinguishable from the rest, opened as a man dressed like a lumberjack stepped out. I stepped in and asked the porter for a stapler and said I was looking for the pigeonhole of Ann Frost.

“Pigeonhole” is a term used universally in Cambridge and presumably all of England to mean a mailbox of the sort found in dorms and offices. In Fitzwilliam, they are simply cubbyholes sized for large envelopes, completely open. By comparison, the ones in most American dorms are combination-locked, and the mailboxes in Simmons Hall are keyed to the room keys. At the porters lodge at Kings they did not direct me to the pigeonholes. Instead, they took out an envelope stuffed with translations of Marquez, took my work, stamped it with King’s College porters’ seal, dated it, and put it in the envelope.

It would appear that Prof. Frost has something that I had not previously encountered: a secure managed pigeonhole.


First of all, my posts aren’t getting through quite as frequently as I thought they were, due to a poor interaction between my mirroring scripts and the cambridge web proxy.
Fixed now.
Right, so the Prof. of my translation class won’t answer her e-mail, and no one else I knew had a copy of the passage we were supposed to translate, so I spent a good amount of time today hunting for it. Actually pretty much the whole day.
I ended up finding it by going into the Medieval and Modern Languages library and looking through all the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez until I found Los Funerales de la Mama Grande, which I could tell from my memory of the piece (which was pretty good) was the book it must have come from. Then I scanned through the pages of that book looking for the passage, again from memory. I found it on page 128. So now I’ve got the passage, which means this site needs to go “down” “again” (see previous posts for details).


Well, something had to go wrong today. I mean, something other than the fact that the printer in the college put a white stripe through my paper so I had to give my grader the web address (linked below), or that I had to go straight from rowing to class to my room back to the Cavendish, so I was still wearing my rowing clothes at 5 PM.

No, it appears that I’ve left my copy of the passage in the Cavendish. In fact, I suspect that it made its way into my paper, making it a non sequitur Appendix B.

I’m working on getting a copy, but that seems unlikely. Seeing as it’s due tonight…that could be a problem.