<M <Y
Y> M>

: I think it would be really neat if I found out that "school resumes after spring break on April 1st" were an April Fool's joke, and that I actually get another day off. But I suspect I have to go to class now.

: From Logic discussion: Peter, the TA, already had put up on the board a predicate for "x is even," but then created an entirely new predicate for "x is odd." I pointed out that, since the universe of discourse comprised only integers, one could do without a specific "x is even" predicate and specify that some entity x was odd by negating "x is even" (assuming that integers that aren't even are odd).

Peter paused and said, "There's no scarcity of predicates."

: I bought a pack of Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea (from the STASH Co.) at a 99-cent store in Stockton. I often enjoy Earl Grey (thanks, Star Trek!), and the extra-Bergamot (Brr-guh-moe? Brr-guh-maht?) kick -- well, I found it...fascinating.

I served some up to Steve and me a few days ago. He, and my sister, were more interested before I told him that I had bought it at the 99-cent store. Their concern: "There's a reason it's at the 99-cent store." My response: "There's stuff at the 99-cent store that's just overstock, and then there's stuff that's the half-brained stepchild of capitalism."

The double-Bergamot, Steve and I agreed, lent strength to the tea. I'll probably drink the rest of it, but I think I prefer the regular Earl Grey (hot).

: In the OCF:

Me: Hey, it's almost four! Not five! I have to meet someone at five, not four! I have an extra hour! Woo-hoo!
Steve Callahan: And the Academy Award for faking interest goes to...

: Leonard has written a whole lot of very interesting essays and essaylets lately, and posted many of them at his weblog yesterday. I've laughed even while rereading them! Example: "Relevance, the yang to authenticity's yin, is the idea that people will not pay to see your [theatrical] production unless you make it obvious that the play is applicable to this modern age of Enron bin Anthrax."

: I think so well these days that it's incredibly difficult to get inside the mind of a zealous anti-Semite. And the suicide bomber -- religion, psychology, military strategy, game theory only sort of help me. Carol Lay today helps, bittersweetly, as always.

: McWhorter endorses the new play Urinetown. In contrast, he couldn't stop apologizing to me about the "pallid little affair" of Strike Up the Band!

: Sydney Omarr reaches new heights in today's "Daily Horoscope." "Colin Powell: He is an Aries who is secretary of state. Some political observers exclaim, 'It is wonderful!' Others, perhaps bring cynical, declare, 'It is about time!' Colin Powell has been Joint Chief of Staff..."

I think Syndey Omarr thinks Colin Powell has broken the glass ceiling by becoming the first Aries Secretary of State.

: "The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." -- Voltaire

"The secret of being annoying is to chant in singsong, 'I know something you don't know! I'm not gonna tell you!" -- me

Various people and I have had conversations over the last few years about the dichotomy of Romance v. Straightforwardness, in prose, in friendships, in social interactions as a whole. As it is these days, as much as I enjoy subtlety, and as much as I understand the urge to keep graceful understandings implicit, I tend to favor explicitness and just don't have time for this coyness bull.

Modesty and coyness are not the same thing. Modesty preserves a private space. Coyness pretends to concern itself with privacy, while taunting the audience with the inaccessibility of the author's private self, and dangling the possibility of access in the audience's face. As an audience member, I have little patience for mind games with the author, especially when the part of the author that he allows me to see gives me no reason to believe that I should strongly wish to see those secret things too. Coyness, as a repeated device to hold attention, calls to mind an analogy between the author and an unattractive stripper or a lackluster painter, who tosses glimpses of forbidden flesh into an act that has not much else to say, an act that will probably never deliver on its promises.

Certainly, as you can tell from my word choice above, this criticism is one I feel strongly regarding certain authors of prose. But I run across this in conversation, too. People toss out cryptic bait, hoping or assuming I'll wonder about their private lives and they'll have the chance to smile and refuse to speak substantively about the issue they just brought up. I suppose they're the centers of attention in the walls inside their heads.

Oh, with regards to that Guster song, Center of Attention, I found it rather poignant to listen to that song while reading about Palestinian suicide bombers. "One of us won't last the night / Between you and me, it's no surprise / There's two of us, both can't be right / Neither will move till it's over."

: Done!

After finishing it, I realized that John's retelling is probably better than mine, so read it too/instead.

: I miss Russia. And the East Coast.

: Adam, at a laughter-filled and inside-joke-saturated lunch today, suggested that I should name my computer-tutoring business "Your Geeky Friend."

: "Somewhere around 2nd grade I decided that I didn't like jeans. 'The fabric's too thick!' I thought. 'I must distinguish myself from everyone else! Blah blah blah!'" Is this quintessential Adam or what? I can even see him gesturing as I read this.

: Today I found myself invoking the 2000 movie Pay It Forward to explain to my logic tutee the difference between "x and y help each other" and "x helps y who helps z."

Yesterday's Daily Horoscope profiled Colin Powell. Today: Tom Ridge. I think Sydney Omarr is waving a tiny flag, upon which the fifty stars are arranged into twelve houses.

As I read Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad and as I watch over Leonard's shoulder as he reads a Great Britain travel guide, my wanderlust increases. I'll start out with some sightseeing within my area. Daytrips. More details as they settle.

: Why does berkeley.edu have no news about today's incident near Evans Hall? I have it from several sources that there was another suicide there today.

: Finally, some information about what happened at Evans yesterday. Another death, a man plunging several stories. The article says that the police consider it an "unnatural death" but haven't labeled it a suicide yet. Why not just mention the possibility of homicide instead of this roundabout business, Daily Cal?

Furthermore, the UC Berkeley news page has absolutely nada on the death. What the hell? It happened yesterday afternoon and people are talking and worrying about it. Why is the university not putting out some information, at least as much as the Daily Cal has?

: The UC Berkeley news site also gives you a handy list of experts at the campus for various topics -- Census, California Governor's Race, Earthquake, Energy, Enron, Fire, and Terrorism. A great set, as per a Games Magazine "what is the category of this set?" list.

: Leonard and I jumped on the ocean bandwagon today and walked on a beach of the Pacific Ocean. We sang Steve Robertson's adaptation of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean":

My ocean lies over the ocean,
My sea-ea lies over the sea,
My ocean lies over the ocean,
Oh bring back my bring back to me...
I will let my esteemed colleague Mr. Richardson speak of the eight or nine jellyfish we saw. But I can reveal that we made a very primitive sand castle.

: The next Comedy Nite, apparently, happens in May. Or so saith the Heuristic Squelch events page. Tuesday, May 7. I'll probably do my last college open mic then, in case you want to catch me.

Geez, "Sumana's last x"-style events just keep popping up. I've just had my last midterms, my last spring break, true, but I used to sort of plan to do a Comedy Night twice a semester or so, and look forward to it, and it's a part of my identity now. I'll have to find some other venues. I don't want to give up this great hobby.

Filed under:

: I just received a spam which ended, "You will never be emailed again." Oh, no!

: This evening some of my flatmates are watching the quintessential French film. I walked in to see two characters conversing and the subtitles read, "No, I can't stand clams." Or some such.

: I still have to clean the kitchen floor, and I have less time than I'd thought because of the silly time change. USians have a Daylight Savings thing going where we switch our clocks twice a year, in case you didn't know.

Leonard and I watched Keeping the Faith (his first time) and Casablanca (my first time) over the weekend. Casablanca is the Hamlet of film -- I kept reminding myself, "that wasn't a cliché until they did it." Of course, it was quite enjoyable, although I wish I hadn't known the ending ahead of time.

By the way, while renting the video at Reel, I asked the clerk whether my copy held the letterboxed or reformatted version of the film. He informed me that movies' aspect ratio only changed to the current (widescreen) format after the advent of television, and as such, any video of Casablanca is neither reformatted nor letterboxed, but in its original, TV-shaped format. I had forgotten those bits of trivia, and slunk away, shown up as the cinemaphile poseur I was.

I am surprised at how well Keeping the Faith held up to a second viewing; I even noticed a running end-of-scene bit of camerawork/cinematography in which the camera stays focused on a space which a character has just left. I'm not sure what that motif means, but it's there.

The last time I watched that movie I was a Hindu and I saw it with Dan. Now the "that's what faith is" speech makes me wince a little. Right now I miss believing -- knowing that there's a God, as I did just one scant year ago. I don't know who to call out to anymore.

Filed under:

: I enjoy Susanna's journal, both for content and for style. I think some of it is her unremitting use of strong declarative sentences. I don't know why that attracts me so, but it does.

And facts. Lots of facts.

: I've been listening to music passionately these days. Leonard played me a bunch of his stuff this weekend, oldies and new-to-me tunes. He has an outstanding new piece that he hasn't recorded -- "What's Your 20?" -- and it's my favorite ever. And I got into a heady argument with him over the ending of "Sally O'Sally" -- the first time in a long time that I've so loudly and at such length stated my views on a piece of music, perhaps the first time since I understood "Hook" by Blues Traveler.

And he played the Foo Fighters' "Big Me" a few times for me, so now it's stuck in my head, along with a medley of labor tunes and his music -- so clever, so much like him -- and "My Ocean Lies Over the Ocean."

I should go clean the floor now.

: A list of weblogs whose authors live in the Middle East.

: I'm finally visiting Bookfinder at its new digs. Hi, Anirvan!

I suppose I should head off to Logic lecture now.

: Rob Walker, you're my hero!

: "The man who fell to his death from Evans Hall Thursday has been identified as 19-year-old UC Berkeley student Kevin Hogue-a junior in the College of Letters and Science." OCF staff members tell me that Kevin Hogue was also a staff member at the OCF. So I probably saw him around quite a bit, and may have even conversed with him. He had a LiveJournal; I haven't looked at it.

: Benoit ran out of real food so he's using Chef Boyardee something-or-other as a dinner component. I threatened to out him. "They'll take away your French citizenship!"

: Guess what: ETS automatically sends out various materials to people who register for ETS exams. Therefore, even though I said "no" to the relevant question over the phone a few weeks ago, today, via US mail, I received a CD of GRE prep software.

: I found myself watching The Full Night of Seventh Heaven tonight. Matt got married! To a Jewish girl! Her father's a rabbi! And their families don't know yet, and think they're just engaged! Next week: Matt's father, Minister Camden, blows up at Matt's conversion to Judaism!

My Lord, this show is great. The best trash I've seen in years.

Filed under:

: Earplugs are innovation itself! Last night people were watching a movie in the living room, loud, but when I inserted my earplugs (which I got at the GRE test facility), I couldn't hear it at all, nor could I hear any street noise. Amazing!

Also amazing -- amazingly annoying -- are the tireless campaigns of this year's student government elections. Lots of blatant name-recognition scams without regard for substance, such as substance goes in student elections. Much shouting.

I care very little as to which particular people fill the roles of Incompetent President, Incompetent Senators, and so on. So I thought, "Well, I'll just vote on the propositions." And then I saw that the propositions aren't so much, how do you say? relevant. Resolutions favoring diversity, housing, religious excuses for senators to miss Senate meetings, and my favorite: a description of the student government's monthly publication and the question, "Have you ever read the ASUC Monthly?"

A survey question?! On a ballot? Next time I go to a YMCA some first Tuesday in November, will I see a proposition reading "Do you like George Wendt? Do you like beans?"

Oh, one exception to my general disdain for the candidates: Bret Heilig. I know him, I know that the ASUC made his life hell last year because he actually enforced election laws, he has dignity and integrity, he'll be the only name on my ballot for Senate.

: As it turns out, the way you interpret a polyadic schema is a combination of the way you interpret a monadic schema and the way you interpret a truth-functional schema. Polyadic logic has everything you ever wanted, and more! Predicates, sentence-letters, free variables! Come on down to Peter's House of Polyadic Logic! Where the universe of discourse is yours!

: The ASUC is gratuitously incompetent. Today's the first day of the student elections. And the Voter Info webpage is still under construction!

: Kevin Maples makes the infrequent error of updating his weblog too seldom! You won't disagree after you read this sample of his work:

It suddenly occured to me that what I have been assuming are vulgar displays of jingoism are actually evidence of a groundswell of popular appreciation for the early works of Jasper Johns. I feel much better now.

: I had never noticed until Professor McWhorter pointed it out today that the word "Malayalam" is a palindrome! (Malayalam is a language of Southern India. It's in the Dravidian family, along with my parents' tongue (Kannada) and Tamil and Telugu.)

: I have a few very interesting entries to write up in the next few days. Shocking! Provocative! Actually, I'm not joking.

: I don't read Kuro5hin as much as I should, I think. In today's front page: a proposal for peace in the Middle East, "An In-Depth Analysis of the Cultural Ramifications Evidenced in the Powerpuff Girls", and my favorite, "Antarctic Icebergs: Doom or Drudgery?...some cold, hard facts and information about Antarctic ice."

Hey, Leonard: a new species of whale!

: I saw a reference to "Haas Pavilion" in today's Daily Californian and thought it said "Haas Palestinian."

: Yesterday I fell asleep in Logic class, chin perched on hand, elbow perched on desk. Then I dreamt that I was dangling from a chandelier and was about to fall. I woke up.

I am so enamored of The Daily Show that I'm going to write fan letters to Jon Stewart and to the writing team.

: As it turns out, I'm more connected than I'd thought to Kevin Hogue, a UC Berkeley student who died by falling from Evans Hall a week ago. He lived in a co-op, like the other recent suicide (Nicolai Rosen), and so other co-op residents whom I know also knew him. More directly, Kevin was a friend of my friend Alexei, and at least once I met Kevin through Alexei. In fact, Alexei reminded me on Tuesday, Leonard and I visited Alexei a few months ago and played Girl Genius with Alexei and Kevin.

We probably shook hands, we all made jokes and laughed at them, we played a game together, and now he's killed himself, and I'm still here.

And I intend to stay here.

: I'm female. I generally don't advertise this fact in my weblog, since the parts of my life most affected by my gender are the parts I consider too private for my weblog, and I enjoy a good game of gender ambiguity as well as the next netizen. But I've mentioned it before, when relevant, and here I will again, because the thing I've been evangelizing to my friends this past week really can't be separated from my femininity.

I'm talking about menstruation.

I menstruate every month, and have since I was twelve. I've tried various products to contain my monthly flow, and now I've found a new one that suits me for financial and ideological reasons. I've written up my experience such that both men and women can read it -- more of a shopping compare-and-contrast than anything else. It's about twenty paragraphs, too long for a weblog entry, so I've placed it here. Please read it and send me your thoughts.

: I find reading about "The Osbournes" much more interesting than I would find watching the actual show.

: Jade and I are two wacky pals when we talk Logic together.

Me: I keep accidentally picking the instantial variable u and ending up with a whole bunch of "Fu"s. [pronounced "f you"]
Jade: You should keep that. You could write it all over your paper. "For all u, Fu."
Me: Yeah, usually it's just "there exists a u such that Fu," but sometimes it's, "for all of u, Fu."

: Do you have a sense of adventure? And a car?

: "I Agree With Barbara Lee," or "I Agree With Barbarella"?

: Some SF Chronicle headline said that lawmakers "rapped" something. Ethanol legislation is in the hizouse! and the sizenate!

: If you've already been depressed and drained by, say, looking at a LiveJournal "random user," or googling for some failed eighties sitcom, then maybe you're in the mood to search Roger Ebert's archive of film reviews for zero-star and half-star reviews form the past seventeen years. No one else slams the awful with the panache of Ebert.

: I took several nice walks over the past three days. I recommend all of them.

On Friday afternoon, on a whim, I walked from campus to Woolsey and Shattuck. I walked south from Bancroft and Dana, and then turned right and walked one block west every time a street ended, and then turned left as soon as possible to resume walking south.

The next day Leonard and I walked from the North Berkeley BART station south to Derby and Shattuck via a meandering path -- Sacramento, Rose, MLK, Virginia, Bonita, University, Shattuck, campus, Dana, and then a similar course to the one I had taken the previous day, except that we turned right (westward) on Russell. Lots of parks, gardens, flowers (especially jasmine; I'm a sucker for jasmine), a hummingbird, cute kids, and playgrounds. Oh, and I recommend Fatapple's, a restaurant at MLK and Rose.

Today Leonard and I took a jaunt around Brisbane, south of San Francisco. A sleepy town, but nice-looking. Quite a preponderance of bars on the main drag, I must say.

So, there you are. Recommended walks.

Leonard and I also watched the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (IMDB entry). It's quite good. Being meta-ists, Leonard and I laughed most at the part in which the protagonist forgets his framing device!

: Stephen Pinker, author of The Language Instinct, will be giving a linguistics talk for the UC Berkeley cognitive science students' association at 105 North Gate at 6pm on Tuesday, April 16. That's tomorrow.

: A short synopsis of my attempts to stay awake during Logic lectures.

: Shweta Narayan and I had lunch together. Thank goodness that she Has Been There with regards to having Indian parents.

My parents and even my sister make me want to make some major life decision, such as dropping out of school or moving to another state or taking a job in the fast-food service industry, just to have made a big decision without telling them about it first. They ask me for information, and then I tell them my plans, and then they foist advice upon me. And I wish it weren't considered rude to hang up on someone unilaterally. Or that I had the gumption to do so when I just can't take it anymore.

: I am one of those people who have let Omar Khayyam's poetic works overshadow his amazing work as a mathematician. First Lewis Carroll, now Omar Khayyam. What next? A thousand years ago, Andrew Wiles will be known for his limericks?

: More Khayyam madness:

Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute;
Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

For "Is" and "Is-not" though with Rule and Line
And "Up" and "Down" by Logic I define,
Of all that one should care to fathom,
Was never deep in anything but--Wine.

Brought to you by the Booze Council.

Filed under:

: As Leonard noted, last night I went to the Pinker lecture. Steven Pinker said, to paraphrase, "here's my hypothesis of how our memory of words and our computation using rules gets us to speak the way we do, and here's data showing that I'm right." (His new book: Words and Rules. McWhorter recommends it, and him.)

Funny stuff: His PowerPoint slides on "advantages of words" and "advantages of grammar" seemed like advertisements. "And for only five easy payments of $19.95..."

Also, in explaining all of English's borrowed words, he used the phrase "1066 and all that," which cracked me up.

Leonard was there, and Nathaniel and a few other people I know were there, and Adam and his friend Josh (whom I hadn't met before) were also there, and we talked after the lecture. Adam was amusingly cranky about the holes in Pinker's argument. Josh seemed impressed with me, and I'm glad. Sometimes I forget how important it is to me that I keep impressing people.

I got Pinker's autograph.

: Until yesterday, I had never before seen a transparency whose title read, "Just When You Thought It Was Safe: MORE Intertwined Languages."

: I scored at the Friends of the Public Library book sale today. I got a free Stanislaw Lem anthology and I bought Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast and They Might Be Giants's Miscellaneous T on audiocassette for the princely sum of $1.00.

Filed under:

: From Crystal and Paulina: "Shopping is tough. Let's do some math."

Yesterday I saw part of Margaret Cho's I'm The One That I Want and found it disappointing. Maybe the second half is better. Then I went with Alexei to Jeana's party. Best wishes, Jeana. Contrary to expectations, there was at least one person there whom neither Alexei nor I knew.

Some Girl Genius was played. Some fun conversation was had. On the subject of brass knuckles inscribed with some abbreviation or phrase, I dismissed "Have a Nice Day" as "too Fight Club," and preferred "WWJD?".

Adam, Leonard, Shweta, Alexei, Marisa, and others have tried to cheer me up these past few days. Thanks to all of you. And a hard-to-contextualize crack that a library clerk made yesterday made me laugh harder than Margaret Cho did, so thank you, too.

A friend of mine got falsely arrested recently. But Fox cancelled "Ally McBeal," and Steve's feeling great. I'll have to write about these things sometime, especially the first one.

: I won a free drink at Tully's today because I guessed that Victoria Falls sits on the river Zambezi and I was right.

I finished watching Margaret Cho's performance recording, which satisfied me more in the second half. Both her content and her delivery aren't to my taste. I feel as though I could do better. And I came up with a funny comedic bit about my tea, and that helped cheer me up. I'll be glad to perform again in early May.

Today I used Neal Stephenson's three-ring-binder metaphor to explain why purely syntactic operations are easier than semantic ones (in the context of my logic class). "It's like the three-ring-binder that the manager of a McDonald's uses. You just follow the rules, and you know you'll get French fries, you know you'll get a cheeseburger."

I've been listening to Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast and Ben Folds's Rockin' the Suburbs and some Russian choral music that I got on the Solovki islands a year ago.

: I met Shayna Parekh my freshman year at Cal. We took a history class and a seminar on women in leadership together. We hung out sometimes, and she reminded me of the best aspects of my sister -- the leadership, the interest in community service, the drive, the urge to keep in touch with her Indian heritage.

Congratulations, Shayna!

: I envy Shayna her good fortune and her medal, but I also know that I don't have anything approaching a 3.96 GPA, nor such a deep and wide array of achievements, so there's no way I can say with any rationality, "boo hoo, they picked her instead of me." The problem is that she's such a nice, good person, and I wish I could dislike her or point to some ability or achievement that I have and that she wishes she had.

My parents think I'm wasting my potential. "You could be such a good" such-and-so, they say. I feel as though I don't have enough to wave in their faces. And it's even harder to satisfy their voices, the ones I've internalized.

I wish that at this point I could knowledgably say "I'll feel better after breakfast," or "once classes are over for the week," or "after I graduate," but I have no reason to believe any of that.

: Okay, Margaret Cho had a particular history and has a particular personality, and that's part of why people like her. But to me, that gag gets old fast.

I worry that I can't be a very good writer or comedian until and unless I have a terrifically messed-up personal history.

On the up side, I'm listening to the title track of Rockin' the Suburbs, which never fails to cheer me up.

: I found a student's driver's license, Cal ID card, and Blockbuster membership card on a bus yesterday. I'd rather give it to her directly than put it in the Lost and Found, so I emailed her. Funny -- with all that personal info about her, shouldn't I be able to find her local phone number? What l33t tools am I forgetting?

: I wrote another melody for music class, seeing as I have to write two minor-mode melodies by Monday. It needs editing, but the idea is that it's the old theme to Sesame Street transposed into the melodic minor scale.

: I did find the person who had dropped her ID cards. I emailed her Friday morning and we met up on campus. She brought me flowers to thank me. Isn't that sweet?

She's a sophomore, and I'm a senior, so I found myself giving her lots of advice that she didn't ask for, and even explaining open-source software, which for some reason I haven't done that often recently. Usually it's about once a month. When Leonard and I are talking with someone and he asks for an explanation, I usually take over. Also when someone asks how Leonard and I met.

: I lay on my bed after my nap. The CD of Russian choral music had run its course. My roommate was away, writing a paper on campus. The sun had set, or almost.

The blinds on my roommate's window were up.
The headlights of cars passing north and south
passed in opposite directions on the walls and the door,
always fading on my wall if they were
going south, and on hers if they were going north.
Some were brighter, some less so,
and some lasted longer, while some went faster
through the cycle of brightening and fading on my walls.

And this happens every evening, since I live on busy Shattuck,
and people are always driving up and down my street,
in each of their separate journeys,
falling into the same patterns that I
have seen over and over, time and again,

like love and hate, birth and death, all these human experiences
that are individual journeys that everyone takes using the same street,
up and down,

and in the early morning people drive one way to be mistresses
and on the way back at night to be adulterers or cheated-on wives.

And their headlights play on my walls every night when I turn the lights off, even if I close these shitty blinds, and I have to get used to them each night before I can go to sleep.

: If you reload Leonard's exposition page enough, you'll see a range of photos of my dear friend, and one of them has him laying atop my old futon, on a blanket, in my old apartment, holding my two stuffed animals, Miss Ouri and Pinkerdy, one in each arm. Now I've moved, and the futon is at my sister's place, and I sent the blanket along with it, and Miss Ouri doesn't live with me anymore. That picture was taken from a perspective that no longer exists, of a scene that will never exist again, like Pompeii before the blast.

: Poor Benoit. He just got back from a nice vacation and the first thing he hears from me is that -- thanks to the splitting of the leftist vote among too many candidates -- Le Pen will run off against Chirac! I reassured him that certainly Le Pen will lose the runoff. Benoit stated that if Le Pen wins, Benoit won't want to go back to France. He'd rather live under Bush than under Le Pen!

I told him his country and people would be all right and they'd been through worse. I'm not sure that helped.

I finished my second melody. As per usual, my first one interested me more, and this second one is just a bunch of triads and I don't really care about it, so probably my instructor will like the second one better.

: A staffer here at the OCF is giving some psychological survey for a class.

Me: I assume it's for a class?
Him: No, I just go around handing out surveys for fun.
Me: I would.
Him: What kind of survey?
Me: Kinsey report.
Him: I can answer those questions right now. No, no, no, no, no, zero, zero, none, zero...

: What are the frickin' lyrics to "Bonne Anniversaire," the brirthday song sung only by high school students of French?

: My Jon! Oh, swoon!

: Yesterday Leonard's sister, Susanna, returned to the USA after a sojourn in Romania. She greeted her uncle with emotion, and she and Leonard and I called Frances (mother of Susanna and Leonard) to wish her a happy birthday. And they all seemed quite happy.

I felt a longing for family and home at the same time that I knew quite well that I don't have a place to call home, to imagine as home, and that I don't have a family that I can greet with joy.

I yearn for a place and a family that don't exist, so I run the risk of looking my whole life for this mythical construct and never finding it and never feeling satisfied. Argh!

: I sent off my Daily Show fan letters.

: Look at me, I'm George Lakoff. Blah blah blah. Metaphors blah blah blah cognitive maps blah. Nurturing parent v. strict father blah.

Yes, I am in a silly mood.

: People who want to see me at a graduation ceremony in May should e-mail me for information and tickets. People who want to throw me (a) graduation party/parties should contact me for preferred guest lists and times.

: Professor Warren spoke today of the system of deduction and its soundness, completeness, and -- on the scale of line-by-line implication -- "goodness." Upon pronouncing something "good," he looked up mischieviously from the overhead projector and said, "This is why this class counts for the [Philosophy and] Values requirement."

Why was I the only one who laughed?

: Reader Bob Smith was kind enough to send me the lyrics to the French birthday song "Bon Anniversaire," which (according to professional Frenchman Benoit) French people don't actually sing.

Bon anniversaire,
Mes voeux les plus sincères
Que ces quelques fleurs
Vous apportent le bonheur
Que l'année entière
Vous soit douce et légère
Et que l'an fini
Nous soyons tous réunis
Pour chanter encore
(or possibly en choeur)
Bon anniversaire

Now that I've finally read the lyrics again, I am powerfully reminded of high school French classes. Whenever someone in the class had a birthday, Madame Funge slapped that transparency on the overhead projector and we sang "Bon Anniversaire." I can sing it fine, but I can't tell what meter it's supposed to be in. 3/4, I think.

: Yes, this week's Enterprise had such heavy-handed allegory that I'm surprised it didn't implode upon reaching critical mass. But I liked it anyway. "Look at the brave, stoic face that these Palestinians, er, Japanese, er, Suluban put on in their internment camp!" They were all so earnest -- I miss that.

Marisa and I discussed our favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes before Linguistics discussion today. I forgot to mention that one from maybe the sixth or seventh season, where Riker thinks he's going mad. "A Matter of Point of View" or something? Oh, I miss TNG.

The West Wing from this week isn't even worth discussion. Instead -- hi, Camille, Mike Popovic -- I'll give you my take on the most recent 7th Heaven.

First of all, Ruthie's preternatural, Cassandra-like (hi, Angel!) power of knowledge is getting scary. As Leonard put it, "In every episode, the sinister hand of Aaron Spelling can be found." Is the WB planning an Angel crossover (which would, of course, not be canon)?

[Oh, that reminds me: tonight, during the West Wing interviews-mixed-with-show-clips metashow, which now that I think about it reminds me of Shades of Gray (the awful TNG episode, not the Billy Joel song, which I like), Leonard said that we could infer the show's internal chronology from the people we saw interviewed. I said, "That's not canon!"] Back to Seventh Heaven.

It's Melrose Place crossed with Wodehouse, this show. All the scheming! The deceptions, well-meaning and no! (Case in point: the Wodehousian "Gemette" scandal this week.) The silly romances! The people who gape in astonishment! I see more interesting facial expressions in an hour with Seventh Heaven than in a year with my family.

Now, the Jew factor. What the heck is going on here? Sarah's family is even more sitcom-wacko than the Camdens. And doesn't it weird you, faithful viewer, that Sarah, the Jew, is the one who really wants the ring, the valuable object? Why is Sarah the greedy Jew? Is it just because she's used to wealth? And why is she so wealthy, anyway? Are rabbis rich? Disturbing questions!

Mary and Lucy. Who else can't stand them? Are you with me? They aren't pretty, they're man-hungry, they lack common sense, they're vain, and yet I suppose one is necessary to counterpoint how basically good the other characters are. But I could do without, say, Lucy.

In the next episode, Minister Camden basically says, "you two aren't married, so you shouldn't have sex." I assume that Matt's not going to make the principled "premarital sex isn't necessarily wrong" stand. Pity.

Filed under:

: From emails: Camille, on "Seventh Heaven," says, "like Eight is Enough meets Wodehouse at a church picnic...or something."

And Alexei, midway through a reassuring email: "Every so often, I think you've got to kind of throw things to the wind and see where the chips fall, and if I mix any more metaphors, they're not going to let me graduate English."

I'm reading Paul Ford and wishing I were somewhere else, maybe DC or my old apartment.

: Hint to those taking foreign language classes:

When teachers want you to converse but they haven't set up anything for you to talk about, they'll ask you to talk about yourselves and what's going on in your life.


Don't tell your classmates your real plans or problems. First of all, they're usually not your friends, so why entrust them with your private life? Second, you don't know the language, so you won't be able to communicate the subtleties of your situation, so you'll get frustrated, as I did today. Today's discussion got both invasive and boring -- amazing! -- so I left. I wish I had left or spoken up earlier, to protest how invasive the questions and comments were getting. Don't make my mistake.

: Leonard and I spoke about the Elmo testimony photos (to which he referred on Wednesday). Just consider the ramifications!

Me: The more I think about it, the more disturbed I am.
Leonard: Welcome to my world.

: Come on down to the OCF, where it's 11:50 and the place is jumpin' jumpin'.

: "You weren't alive during the Microsoft conflict. We were beating each other with our own severed limbs." (Roger Ebert quotes from Jason X.)

: Extreme Rob Walker!

You are no doubt familiar with the idea of extremeness.... This was such a nifty marketing idea that it was quickly splattered all over every product you can think of, on the theory that those who embrace the extreme lifestyle (or who pretend to) will want every aspect of their existence to be extreme. Even their snack chips. Which brings us to a series of commercials touting Doritos....

Pizza, Frisbee, Programming...I'm half-expecting to have an Extreme Commencement.

This reminds me of the time I heard about an "Extreme Joyce Reading." Steve suggested that they might read excerpts from "Portrait of the Artist as an Extremely Young Man."

: I told my father that I'm dating Leonard. Dad wants me to just be friends with him, and worries that I'll get a bad reputation and that some good Indian boy will later refuse to marry me because of this "impediment." He and I have reached rather an impasse, which is better than I'd feared. He's still willing to converse with me, which is great.

So, now that I'm not afraid of my dad finding out, I can mention on my weblog that I'm dating Leonard. Hey, everybody, I'm dating Leonard! He's great!

: My old apartment had no TV. So I went to other people's houses to watch The West Wing and, later, Enterprise. And that was it. Two hours a week. Well, and about two hours and thirty seconds if you count the opening scene of Law and Order. (I love seeing what Dick Wolf thinks is an ordinary-person sequence, e.g., doing laundry or opening up the taqueria for the day, invariably interrupted by the "Oh-my-God-there's-a-body!")

Now my apartment has a TV -- with cable! -- and so I find myself watching The Daily Show and Seventh Heaven and even Friends. Now I've discovered nightly Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. By Grabthar's Hammer, I really have to stop.

: OCF banter:

"I'm in Cog Sci because I want to be Cog Sci."
"You're lying and you know it."

: I realized today that I have actually spent hours of my life watching Someone Like You, Playing by Heart, While You Were Sleeping, and probably a few more romantic comedies. The moving finger moves on, having flipped me the bird.

: Much Logic silliness today.

: As I watch some more Star Trek: The Next Generation, I feel more affinity for Worf than I used to. He's bicultural, like me. Also, he talks like Seth. "The DMCA brings dishonor to you and your family!"

: Camilla and her friends are watching The Fountainhead: The Movie. I'm listening to They Might Be Giants, "Don't Let's Start." I have the better end of the deal.

Seventh Heaven was riotous more in execution than in concept. Notable: Ben and Kevin are Catholic!, Father Camden's manic [panic] moments, and his mind game with Ruthie. Here's the sad, sad thing: next week, just in time for May sweeps, a Very Special Episode on terrorism and dying for one's country. Camille, Mike, if you watch it I will, but not otherwise. I mean, really: you saw the preview. I couldn't stand to watch that thing alone.

Steve: Congratulations to you and Alice upon your declared status of boyfriend and girlfriend! Sorry I got on your case back in September.

I got commencement tickets today. All these procedural niceties, and the cheer that the organizers try to associate with them, remind me of high school. And, just as in high school, I do want to make the most of and savor these last few weeks, but I'm also on automatic pilot, which is another way to enjoy such beautiful spring weather and its relaxing and energizing effect on my friends.

Good night.

: Alarm clocks: During my first year at UC Berkeley, I lived in a dorm. And, I suspect, in every dorm lives a person who sleeps through his alarm, every morning, no matter how loud it is. Chris was that guy on our floor. He lived right next to the communal bathroom, so we heard his alarm going off for half an hour or more as we performed our morning ablutions. The rest of us had no idea how his roommate stood it.

One day, on the whiteboard on Chris's door, we saw a note: "Hey guys, could you bang on my door to wake me up on Wednesday at 7:30?" Evidently he really had to get up on time that day. Oh, how gleefully Dan and I took that responsibility upon ourselves!

Recreational singing: Yesterday I sang Guster, "Center of Attention," and Leonard's "Standing in a Line," and "Doob-Doob," and one other by him. "Center of Attention" got me a smile from a passer-by.

Books: Zack, on rereading Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed:

I like it just as much as I did as a twelve-year-old, but for completely different reasons. The twelve-year-old me liked it mostly because Shevek (protagonist) gets to invent new physics theories.
[I read The Dispossessed after my last finals of the fall semester of 2001, curled up on a beanbag chair at Leonard's workplace, with a great view of the bay. Susanna can testify as to how comfy that is.]

People forget how good Twain is. The Innocents Abroad is by turns hilarious and wistful and biting and wince-inducing and heartbreaking. The heartbreaks aren't Twain's fault, but history's. When Twain talks about the lovely city of Beirut, or travels through "Palestine" with no greater fears than inept guides and thirst, then I wish that I could have seen the Middle East that way, as it was then, and not as it is today.

I wince when I see Twain crankily dismissing whole races and religions and labeling them as, say, lazy and greedy. Yes, it was 1867, but jeez! I suppose that even I would fall under some category that he considered stupid or dirty or subhuman. An unpleasantness.

More TV: Last night Nandini and I watched Seventh Heaven together, and agreed that the only attractive member of the Seventh Heaven cast is Stephen Collins, who plays the father/minister Eric Camden. Curiously enough, Catherine Hicks (who plays his wife) was a star in Star Trek IV -- and Stephen Collins was in Star Trek I! (Thanks, IMDB.)

Aiee! According to the IMDB page for Seventh Heaven, if I like this show, I'll probably like Beverly Hills, 90210. Oh, no!

Filed under:

<M <Y
Y> M>


You can hire me through Changeset Consulting.

Creative Commons License
This work by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author at sh@changeset.nyc.