firefox, really

Flight to Sweden

(This was last week)

I show up to LAX a little over two hours early, but very sleep deprived because I planned on sleeping most of my first flight to ORD and the layover in order to help get my body on Sweden time. I had pre-checked in online, but still needed to check in my bag.

At end of the check-in-my-bag line, it tells my my LAX-ORD flight is delayed by over two hours. My layover is only two hours, so this could potentially strand me in ORD overnight. No bueno. The guy says that I can wait in a different line to re-book. So I take my bags, and get in that line.

It is moving slow as molasses. Pretty annoyed, I call United's reservation line, while queuing in the physical one. The person on the phone finds a seat for me on an earlier LAX-ORD flight that was supposed to have taken off already, but was delayed. I still have to wait in this queue to check my big bags. I probably was in this thing for over 20 minutes. Some guy tries to cut in line right as I get through, but the counter attendant tells him off. This pleases me much. I finally check my bags.

The person tells me to rush through security to get to my gate. So I'm that guy shoving through the queue, annoying all the people patiently waiting in line. I go through security, and rush to the gate, where people are still waiting to board. I'm a bit concerned that my carry on will squeeze in the overhead, but not too concerned because they are usually happy to gate check things. When they ask for volunteers to gate check, I go right up. The girl at the gate notices I'm international, and says try to hold onto my bag and go on and find a space. As I'm walking on, a flight attendant mentions I might have to flatten my bag to get it in there. Once I try, there is noooo way it will fit. I talk with another flight attendant, and she says they can try to check it or put it in the first class closet. So I wait standing in the back while everyone boards until I can get an opening to move my bag to the front.

I don't sleep as well as I would have liked on my first flight. Getting through to the international terminal at ORD takes way longer than any sane airport should allow. I go through security, and they decent to do the super thorough search of my bag for shits and giggles. When I cross security, I notice there is only a duty free kiosk and a snack bar (which has no food). I was planning on getting some dinner.. I have to go back to the other side to get some food. The options are a bar and three mediocre looking food court options. I could really use a beer and a whiskey at this point, so I go to the bar and ask for a menu.

They don't serve food. It feels inconceivable to me at the time that an airport bar wouldn't serve food, and I wonder whether there is some evil licensing agreement that is meant to protect the food court.

I get a fast food burger and a root beer, and am looking forward to just getting something in me. Then I notice something missing.

They forgot the bacon. I am ready to go hulk SMASH at this point. I normally would have probably let it slide, but after all the annoyances of the day, I wanted that part to at least go right so I get them to fix that. The sandwich is still dry and awful.

I go back through security AGAIN, and from there the last two hops of my flight are mostly uneventful.
firefox, really

Shampoo Refilling Ritual

So, I've been using the same shampoo and conditioner for like five or six years now. This stuff is kinda expensive, so I buy it in the biggest bottles I can find. These huge bottles tend to be a bit unwieldy and have big openings, so when I use them directly, I'm in danger of squirting way too much. Kinda defeats the purpose to get the stuff in bulk if I'm using twice as much per use, so I fill up little travel sized shampoo bottles from the big ones. I have to re-do this every few weeks obviously.

It irks me to do a lot of random household rituals, but I find this one kinda pleasing. It's a bit tricky, though, doing this without spilling.
firefox, really

Super Bowl Commercials

Even in years when I'm not particularly invested in the teams playing in the game, I still love watching the super bowl for the commercials.

Although there were some amusing ones, and few really really Did-they-really-spend-3-million-dollars-for-that-ones I can't say any really blew my mind.

Although, I am pretty happy that there was only one truck commercial throughout the entire thing. I hate truck commercials.
firefox, really

Phoreign Phone

Okay, I'm in the process of preparing for my grand European summer. As part of this, I had to figure out what to do about a phone.

My blackberry works internationally, and it turns out I could get international e-mail for a flat rate, so I did that. I can also receive messages out of my SMS plan. Basically every phone has an e-mail address that it can receive txts on. So if you are fond of txting me, please continue to do so (but it would be helpful if you let me know what your provider is, so I can figure out what the e-mail address associated with txting your phone is). Or, if you're cool and have your own Blackberry like the nolacoaster, you can just Blackberry messenger with me.

As an experiment, I'm going to see if receiving SMS + Blackberry e-mail + Skype is sufficient for my needs, but if things start to suck, I guess there's no reason for me not to break down and get a foreign pre-paid SIM card.

Stay tuned for like... adventure stories.
firefox, really

Teaching

Today, I got to do my recitation on encodings of various types in System F, with the grand finale being the encoding of the natural numbers. For those of you who aren't type theorists, this is absolutely beautiful stuff. These sorts of sublime and sexy things are really what made me fall in love with the field, and it's a pleasure to teach them, and I can only hope I conveyed the sense of "zomgwow this is awesome" to one or two students.

This morning, I found out that Bruce Saunders, my middle school Latin and social studies teacher, died last week. I had heard from a friend whose mother is a teacher that he had been diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, but the news of his dying was still a sad surprise. Mr. Saunders was probably one of the most amazing teachers I've ever had. One subtle aspect of his teaching style was that so many of the things he emphasized were meta-lessons. Practical lessons about learning. I don't have the space to describe it all, but he made his students smarter people, which is the only thing you should really ask for in a teacher.

And certainly, no teacher was as much of a showman. And he had such a warm resounding speaking voice! I can actually still remember how it sounds. All his theatrics had some purpose and value. One of his most famous bits of classroom theatrics was "The Minute Speech" which he would deliver at the end of every class that began with a student coming in late. His delivery took exactly a minute:

"Now....a minute may not seem like a long time, but:
If you take that minute, and multiply...by one hundred and eighty (which as you may already know is the number of school days in a school year), why you'd have one hundred and eighty minutes. And if you took...those one hundred and eighty minutes and divided by sixty, which as you may already know is the number of minutes in an hour....why you'd have three. Three Hours. Three hours of YOUR life...wasted...squandered...evaporated
...VAPORIZED into the great black hole of middle school. And why is that, Daniel? Why that's because some people can't get their hips to the plastic by the time the bell begins to ring. Well, tomorrow is another day, see you then.
VAMOOSE!"

It's hard to appreciate the value of a minute, until you realize someone has run out of them. Bye Mr. Saunders.
firefox, really

Ithacan Memories

It's finally gotten really frigid here in Pittsburgh. Some combination of the warm protective layers made up of years worth of burritos and what have you, an undergrad stint in frigid Ithaca, or the fact that the heat is always going out in my apartment has made me pretty neutral to standard levels of cold. This is evidenced by the fact that ~30 degree weather is basically blazer weather for me, and ~50 degrees is acceptable t-shirt weather. I'm constantly hearing, "Aren't you cold?" (especially in LA).

Well, this weekend, I finally am. Cold. Feel kinda nice. Sorta. It's certainly stimulating. Being that cold reminds me of Ithaca. Yes, nostalgia. Now if only I could get a Pancho Villa with extra jalapenos from CTB. Oh man...

While we're on the subject of Ithaca, according to this map of the winners of primary elections by county, the only county in New York State that did not go to Clinton was Tompkins County, where Ithaca (and transitively Cornell) is located. I thought that was cute. Take from it what you will.