You oughta be in pictures!
Saturday, March 18, 2000
Honors and Multimedia

Where to begin, where to begin...

I guess I should start with early Thursday and continue chronologically from there. So. After writing my last entry (but not uploading it, 'cause Internet Trash turned out to be down), I wrote my latest article for the school paper, which you can find here in Rich Text Format, if you act quickly. If you've been following this journal for long, then you'll probably recognize most of the content. I recycle for different audiences, you see.

Anyway, I went to sleep, and then got up late Thursday morning, and eventually made it out the door and over to the bus stop, from which I took a bus and train to Manhattan for my rendezvous with Mary Anne. (And let me just say that I think this is the first time I've ever used "rendezvous" in a sentence. Worked quite nicely, I think. Sounds nice, too. Ron-day-voo. So official, so mysterious, so romantic... yes, I like it.)

(Oh, dear. Don't tell me this is going to be one of those entries. Late at night, lots of sugar and caffeine in the bloodstream, just saw Sister Act 2, and I'm overflowing with goodwill and cheesyness. We're in trouble. At least until the sugar rush wears off, at which point this entry's probably gonna die a quick, abrupt death.)


So, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, I got into Manhattan a bit late. Took a quick look around, and began running down the street in what I hoped was the direction of our restaurant. A block later, I realized that the numbers were going in the wrong direction, and reversed course. Three blocks later, I realized that, no, I'd had it right the first time; apparently, West 34th Street and East 34th Street are numbered differently. Live and learn. So I reversed course one more time and rushed over to the restaurant, where, thank goodness, Mary Anne was waiting, even if I was, like, a half hour late. So, after I caught my breath...

Lunch was lovely.

Sorry if that's anti-climactic, but that's about all I have to say about it. It was just really nice talking with her again.

And, okay, the pastrami was quite good, too. Actually, I startled myself a bit at how quickly I demolished my sandwich; I hadn't realized I was that hungry.

I did have stuff to say about the challenge of trying to hold a conversation while making one's way down the streets of Manhattan just when everybody's getting out of work, and about seeing Times Square for the first time in months, and feeling like a complete tourist, 'cause it's just overwhelming, really, but I can't seem to articulate any of it now, and I've got more to write about anyway. So let's move on.

Oh, incidentally, I made it to my geology lab a bit over an hour late. I've got another practical exam on Thursday, so I'd better get in some practice time during the coming week... but, hey, it was worth it.

On the way home, after college, I discovered a new yeshivishe song.

See, a number of years ago, at a school function, I found out through a friend that if you transpose "Yankee Doodle" into a minor key, and replace the words with a series of "oys," you end up with something that sounds like it's an old Jewish song.

The following summer, in two days of bike riding, I added a few more such songs to the list: "Jingle Bells," "Clementine," "Farmer in the Dell," and... umm, there was one more, I think, but it escapes me just now. Oh, yeah, "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

At any rate, I was walking home from college -- through the rain, which came from out of nowhere while I was in class -- and I found myself going through those songs, and it occurred to me that it'd be nice if I could add another one.

It turns out that "Camptown Races" works wonderfully for this.

I may have to upload some sound files. I just got a microphone -- about which more anon -- so this could be done. Hmmm.

Okay, sound file links added. Albeit on the following afternoon, just before uploading this entry... They're in Real Audio G2 format, to save on server space and download time. I don't have a streaming server, so you'll need to download the files before playing them. This may involve using your right mouse button (PCs) or holding it down for a bit (Macs).

Anyway, I arrived home on Thursday night, to find out from my mail that another honor society wants me.

I'd already been invited to join Golden Key, an honor I haven't accepted partially because I don't quite see what the point is, but mostly because I can't afford the $60 membership fee.

Anyway, the new invitation comes from Alpha Sigma Lambda. On the plus side, it's a bit more exclusive, and has only a $20 membership fee. On the other hand... well, it's still twenty bucks (plus another twenty if I want to go to the induction dinner), and I still don't quite see the point. I mean, if I'm actually going to be active in the thing... well, who has time? And if not... well, why bother? For the line on my resume? Will it really matter?

So, on the whole, yes, it's flattering, but I'm probably gonna ignore both.

Now, if Phi Beta Kappa were to come calling, that might be different. But I'm not holding my breath.

My webcam arrived in the mail on Saturday.

As near as I can reconstruct it, my train of thought when I bid on the thing was something like this: I thought it would be nice to have a digital camera. (This, in turn, was sparked by the fact that I needed to take a picture for Clean Sheets, and while I've done so, I still have to finish the roll of film, get it developed, and scan the thing in. A digital camera would make things much simpler.) So I went looking on eBay, so see if I could find a really cheap digital camera.

Instead, I found a really cheap webcam. "Okay," I thought, it being past my bedtime, "a webcam can function as a digital camera, right? And, ooh, it comes with a microphone! I need a microphone! Okay, let's buy it!"

It wasn't until after I placed the bid that it occurred to me that, like, I don't own a laptop, and a webcam needs to be attached to a computer to work. Which makes it close to useless as a digital camera.

Anyway, it turns out that that's only one reason why it's close to useless. Another is that the resolution of the thing is pretty awful; when it's focused on me, one can make out the fact that there's a humanoid figure in the frame, and that it appears to have a beard, but that's about it. Here, let's try it (he says, going across the room for a lamp first, in the hope that with a bit more light, it might actually look okay):

(A grainy picture of Yours Truly)

See what I mean?

A third problem is that it uses the parallel port, and, contrary to what I'd thought, I only have one of those, and my printer doesn't have another one. So it's either the camera or the printer at any given time, and I'd rather keep the printer attached.

On the other hand, the microphone works pretty well, which is the only thing keeping me from bundling the whole thing up and putting it right back up for auction. Which I'll probably end up doing anyway, almost certainly taking a loss, 'cause (a) it was billed as being new, which is no longer the case, and (b) unlike the guys who sold it to me, I'll have to be honest and point out that it comes without documentation, and that the help files on the included software are written in French.

Anybody have a cheap digital camera they wanna trade for a cheap webcam? I can throw in an old CPU or two, not to mention my Planetary Geology textbook from three semesters back... oh, and some twine! Why, that has a thousand and one uses! How can you resist?

(No, I'm not really expecting any takers.)

Oh, finally... I'd thought this would be my first entry in over a week without a response to my survey, but, fortunately, Sibley of Nonsequiturs has saved us from that!