January 2002 archives

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Thursday, January 31, 2002

Looking forward

When I was finishing up school last year, I thought that it would be so nice to have free time again. Time to not have anything to worry about in terms of tests and papers and projects and such. When 5 o'clock hit, I would be done for the day.

Now, I have come to learn that having too much free time is in many ways even worse than not having enough.

I've come to the conclusion that having this much time is not a good thing for me. The first problem is that I'm not doing anything of note, and I'm not pressured to do so. Things like this site and the others that I maintain that were once pleasant distractions are now much harder to work on. I think it must be because I can't get inspired to do so, and there are lots of days where I don't feel like I did anything that's worth writing about. That's not being self-deprecating; it's just the truth. There would be plenty of days that I would write something along the lines of "Checked e-mail and replied to it. Surfed the web. Looked at college admissions information. Played a couple of games. Watched TV. Ate. Went to bed."

As I've noted already, I've gotten cabin fever. I'm ready (and have been for a while now) to be back on my own again. It's not as if I'm a bird in a cage. There's just a mentality in this place that inspires lethargy.

I realize that this period in my life has been good in many ways. For one, I've been a first line of communication and family support for both of my grandparents when they've been in the hospital. I've been able to help them with a lot of things that they didn't feel like doing or need to do during those times, and even in everyday circumstances. I've developed a tougher skin of sorts, and learned that sometimes in an argument, one can't do anything more than simply walk away, knowing that there's no way that you'll ever get the other side to consider, much less accept, your opinion on something.

That having been said, I'll come right out and say it.

I'm tired of this period in my life.

I'm looking forward to moving on. I'm looking forward to long nights of having projects due the next day and seemingly having miles to go. I'm looking forward to sudden inspiration for my web site in the midst of intense pressure, and dropping everything to capture it. I'm looking forward to having a meeting place where I know that friends will always be waiting again. I'm looking forward to my own place again, with my own things, held captive so long in a 10-by-20-by-12 storage area.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

The swing's the thing

I went home this past weekend, to see my parents, but also just to get out of the house. I've been inflicted with a case of cabin fever recently.

Of course, like all other times I went home, we played golf. Saturday, I played with five men: my father, two uncles, and two friends of theirs. Each one could drive a ball over 270 yards easily. My dad said to me as we drove up to the first tee, "I'm the worst of the five of us, by far." My dad has shot 90 before.

Needless to say, this was just a smidge intimidating.

So as we finished up with the first hole (which I thankfully didn't embarrass myself on), it was decided that we'd play a scramble because playing with six can be pretty slow as it is, and I might just hold us up even more.

We approached the second hole, and I was just hoping that I'd be able to do something for the team and not slow us down to a crawl. The second hole is a par-3, 162 yards. I had never put the ball on the green from the tee before in all the times I'd played it. I pulled out my 5-iron and hoped for the best. "All right, Brandon. Same downward swing angle as upswing...clip the tee." Whack.

The ball flew in a beautiful arc and came to a stop 20 feet from the hole.

One of my uncles, who on the previous day shot 79 after not having played in weeks, shouted out, "That's my partner!"

I definitely played better than I ever have before, which was nice. I've discovered golf's a lot more enjoyable when you hit fairways and greens. :) After we played the 18-hole scramble, my dad and a friend and I played another nine holes, where I shot 55 playing my own ball. That's five strokes better than I'd ever done before over nine holes.

So maybe I'll never be Phil Mickleson, but maybe I'll reach that 90 over a full round one day.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Twin FAQ

Being a twin, I've been asked many twin-based questions in my life. So for the benefit (and maybe even amusement) of all, I've put together a twin FAQ.

  1. Are you identical? No. She is a girl, and I am a boy. This question has been asked frequently after these facts are already known, which always provides a laugh. I think people are hard-wired to ask this question of a twin, no matter what.
  2. Which is older? She is, by a minute. And she's used that minute to her advantage all our lives. :) (You know I love ya, sis.)
  3. Which is smarter? I don't know. There's no good way to determine whether one person is smarter than another. Is it based on number of facts alone, or subjects, or real-life applications, or common sense? How do you weigh those areas? Suffice to say that she knows more than I do in some areas, and I know more than she does in some areas.
  4. Do you look alike? In some ways, although she definitely favors our mom, and I our dad.
  5. Can you tell when each other is hurt or sick? I don't think so, but I do remember feeling something was wrong the day that she broke her arm back in 6th grade, before I found out.
  6. Which one is the evil one? I think that's best left a mystery. :)

Any other questions that I've forgotten?

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Out of the doldrums

Today I registered for the GRE. I'm going to be taking it in Tuscaloosa on February 5th at 12:00. This step alone has filled me with a lot of energy and just makes me look forward to getting back to school that much more.

I've realized that a lot of the site has been left stagnant for a while, and that's no good. While I have had updates to the blog section, content that I've meant to have on the site, or meant to write, has gone undone. Redesigns have gone by the boards. I guess my initial hypothesis is true; the amount of time that I spend on this site is inversely proportional to the amount of time I have available to work on it. I guess you could throw in another inversely proportional variable concerning the imminence of project due dates, but that'd be getting just a little bit geeky.

Anyway, I've got some ideas concerning the site, both in content and in design, and I'll try to do some work on them in the near future.

Monday, January 21, 2002

A humble request to graduate schools

A good score on the GMAT should be a reasonable equivalent to a good score on the GRE. Having to spend more money on another graduate entrance exam is tough on the ol' wallet.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Imagine that

I'm a conservative Protestant.

Friday, January 11, 2002

It really is the perfect time to go back

I went to bed at 7 this morning. I wasn't even that tired when I did go to bed. I woke up around 1.

I think that this is one more advantage to going back to school now: I still have the ability to keep crazy hours like this.

Monday, January 7, 2002

Technology is my friend...right?

Lately, it has seemed that my usual Midas touch with technology (just ask my mom) has been fading. The DVD player that I got for Christmas wouldn't work with any TV in my grandparents' house because none of them had A/V inputs, only coax inputs. So I took a little trip to Radio Shack to get an RF converter. This should solve my problem, I thought. I also bought another coax cable to complete the new connection I would make from the RF converter to the TV. $37 later, I was set to go. Or so I thought.

I got home and made all the necessary connections, according to the instructions. Then I turned on the DVD player and dropped my newly-bought, eagerly-anticipated copy of The Matrix into the system. I turned the TV to channel 3.


Okay, so maybe I had the RF converter set to channel 4 instead. I checked. No dice. Well, maybe the 75K ohm should be set to 1M instead. Nope. Maybe the A/V cables weren't in all the way or in the right place. No such luck. I wasn't even getting a signal from the RF converter. The LED indicator just under the ON label was dark as it was ere it came out of its box.

Sigh. So I packed it back up and took it back to Radio Shack. That's okay, I needed a new TV anyway, right? :)

So a couple of days of searching and traveling all over the great city of Birmingham, Alabama led me to a set with all the features that I wanted at a price that I was willing to pay. I was especially excited about the S-video and front input jacks that were included. Sadly, I would come to rue the day these features were on my TV. (Sidebar: does one ever rue anything else but a day? It's like using the word "ensuing" only to describe a kickoff on SportsCenter. You never hear the word anywhere else in any other context. At least I don't. Anyway...)

I got the set home, and with some effort got it up onto the chest of drawers where the old set once sat. I plugged in the coax and ensured that everything worked properly there, and then I proceeded to go through 30 doubly frustrating minutes. I say "doubly frustrating" because it first frustrates you during the time period itself, and it later frustrates you in a head-slapping, "of course it was that easy; I'm just a moron" sort of fashion.

I got the S-video cable plugged into the back of the TV. Then I got the A/V cables that came with the DVD player and plugged the audio cables into the front A/V jacks, because I thought that it would be easier to deal with that way. If I knew then what I know now...

I turned on the set and the DVD player and went to the VID channel, bypassing the mysterious FRNT channel on the way. I was greeted with the menu sequence of The Matrix in grainy black and white and with no sound.

Hey, it was farther than I had gotten with the RF converter. At least I had a picture now. So what was the problem? After a few minutes of randomly looking through menus, I stumbled upon the video channel input settings. I discovered that the TV was looking through the video input, which I had gone ahead and plugged in as well. Ah...now it was clear. I switched that setting to S-video and got out. Now, on the brand-new SVID channel, I had a crystal clear color image, but still no sound.

So I started checking connections again. It was then that I decided to go up to channels 3 and 4 again to see if that had anything to do with it. (This was, I admit, a ludicrous idea, but at least it led me to the truth.) I had to go through the FRNT channel again to do this. But this time, I heard music. The Matrix menu sequence music, to be precise. Now I had picture on one channel, and sound on another.

I'm sure that everyone by now has figured out exactly what the FRNT channel corresponded to. I didn't put two and two together, however. Instead, I just decided to switch the audio cables to the back, too. To the surprise of absolutely no one who's reading this, it worked like a charm. It was only about ten minutes into the movie that the thought hit me: "Hey, the FRNT channel is for the front input jacks!" I had a good laugh about it, if you can consider shamefully shaking your head back and forth while covering it with your hand while you laugh a good laugh.

Friday, January 4, 2002

Site icon change

Today, I realized a potential flaw in my little pressing on... site icon (the thingy by the address, if you're using IE4 or greater, or NN6/Mozilla). The abbreviation po..., while applicable to my site as an acronym, also could be construed as something different. So I made a simple change. :) If you're using IE, you may have to re-bookmark the site to see the new icon. I haven't checked it with IE.

I know that no one who visits my site uses Mozilla except for me, but Mozilla's handling of these things is pretty nifty. They pop up immediately, without you having to bookmark the site.

Java Solitaire 2.3

Version 2.3 of Java solitaire is now out. The addition is a quick count of the extra cards you have left over at the end of a game.

Thursday, January 3, 2002

Final 2001 UA Football Facts

An Independence Bowl recap and final stats on the year are now ready to go!


I was going to watch the Rose Bowl tonight, but it's not much of a game. When it got to 27-0, I turned it off. I see it's 34-0 at the half...

So I decided to give my new DVD player another spin. I went to Radio Shack and bought an RF converter today in an attempt to get it to work. I hooked everything up...still no dice. All I want is to see The Matrix! I guess I just need a new TV. :)

Bio update

Updated and added a little bit of new information to the runner.

Snow in Alabama!

Here's a picture (opens in a small window)

Okay, I realize that to those of you who aren't from the south, this is no big thing. I mean, you can even see the leaves under the snow. But if you're from Alabama, any snow is an occasion. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

School's back in session

Most of the people who read this site already know this little bit of information, but I'll go ahead and say it anyway, because it's a big step for me.

I'm going back to school.

I've always wanted to get a doctorate, and I've wanted to be a professor just about as long. I love the idea of learning things and teaching others what I've learned as a job description. I love the university atmosphere.

And now is the perfect time to go back to school. Other than taking the final step toward my ultimate career goal, I know how to live like a college student right now, and it's a much easier transition period for me than it would be if I were to go out into the "real world" for a few years, then come back. I don't have a family to feed or take care of; it's just me right now.

So I just got done with sending out a "reverse ding letter" to BellSouth. It felt strange being on this end of it. I've already sent e-mails to a few of my former professors asking for times that I can meet with them to talk about being a professor and the process of earning a doctorate. And I've already started the information-gathering process about doctoral programs and financial aid.

I'm very excited about this. My goal is to start this upcoming fall. I don't know where or in what field yet, but the knowledge that I'm taking this step is exhilarating. More on this to come.