Turning the corner

Oddly enough, eighty degrees feels downright cool after suffering through a couple hundred-degree days.

Now if I can catch up on the sleep I missed during those hot days (…pretty much eight hours each night…), I might regain some portion of my humanity. [Here my disheveled appearance, general inability to walk properly, and a low-rumbling utterance (…brains…) come into sharp focus.]


Sometimes the only way to deal with a zerg heat rush is to turtle in a basement all day. That certainly was my game plan, and it actually worked out quite well.

I even played against character and watched the last couple innings of the Beavers’ victory in the College World Series. This baseball game had everything that baseball usually lacks for me: these two teams were actually playing for something, and it showed. But, yes: definite congrats to the Beaver baseball team. I had heard that they were good; I suppose they’ve proved it, now.

Incidentally, the last time that an OSU team won a national championship was in 1961, in cross country. Hrm.

Atsui desu ne

Theorem: If the day’s high is over ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit, then Brent will be slug-like and will do little with his life, let alone update his blog.

(Note that the converse is easily demonstrable as false: Brent is slug-like and does little with his life, let alone update his blog, also when he is sick and it is freezing out. One might argue that one could leave the theorem simply at “Brent is slug-like and does little with his life;” this is a proof to be completed by the reader.)

Conclusion: (which does not necessarily follow logically, but is indeed true here) It has been damn hot out lately.

Wherein I mix topics that shouldn’t be mixed

It’s been a totally awesome last couple of days. Sunday evening I noted that my hand tremor was orders of magnitude worse than it generally is, and found myself searching for words and things that I would generally know without any thought at all. My tremor has since subsided to normal levels, but I still don’t feel like my mind has quite gotten back up to speed.

I suspect it’s sleep-related, as I haven’t been sleeping well for the last while. Yay.

Next stop after this: bed.

Laying the sarcasm aside, there was one weekend highlight: on Saturday Brian and I attended the wedding of an old friend, Rose. We found Sarah and Nicole (plus boyfriend, Mike) also in attendance—in addition to (of course) Rose’s delightful family—and enjoyed seeing everyone again. The wedding and reception, as Brian noted afterwards, were typical Rose: classy, yet laid-back. We had never met the groom, Andrew, before, but it was obvious that Rose was truly happy with him—and he with her.

Seeing those kinds of couples makes my heart glad.

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth

Brian noted this over a week ago; I’m slow as dirt, so I only mention it now. Check out the Wikipedia article on the Wilkes Land Crater.

His question to me you: where is the Lance of Longinus?

I proposed in my email response—and I propose it again, now—that we add references to Second Impact and the Lance of Longinus. People deserve to know the truth!

The Dark Side of MacBooks

I’ve been dealing with a thorn in my side for the last three weeks: My MacBook does not run at its rated (2.0 GHz) speed, except under the rarest of conditions. (Namely: the first five minutes of use after it has been turned off for a few hours.) After calling and arguing with AppleCare, I’ve been informed that Apple’s engineers believe that this is normal behavior.

Never mind that there are people out there who have machines that can maintain their rated speed under load.

My only recourse, at this time, is to find a MacBook that I can hold in my hands and demonstrate that it does not throttle. At that point, Apple will gladly glomp onto that MacBook to learn its secrets—and, ostensibly, exchange mine.

I love how the burden of proof—to prove that Apple isn’t perpetuating false advertising—falls on me. To do so conclusively, I need to set up an external hard drive with the OS and applications I need, and go around to local Mac shops (i.e. the local Mac shop—singular—and the campus reseller) and beg them to let me test their computers. While I have a hard drive that’s sitting around, it’s an internal one; I’ve been forced to order a case for it, so I can go on this bizarre quest.

Of course, most models on display are going to be from the earlier production runs, and the later runs are the ones that seem to most successfully run at full speed. Even though I’m buying a case and will get to go around begging for favors, odds are that I’ll still be sunk.

If/when that fails, I’m stuck either accepting my sub-performing computer or exchanging it for a 10% restocking fee (because nothing’s wrong with it, right?). I suppose I could also order a second MacBook and hope to hell that it actually performs as advertised… but, at that point, that’s stupidly throwing good money after bad.

Good game, Apple. You suck.

Incidentally, if you have a MacBook, and want to see how it holds up, just do the following:

1) Plug it in, and make sure your energy saving preference is set to “maximize performance.”

2) Download CoreDuoTemp, and open it up. In its preferences, tell it to update every one or two seconds. You’ll be paying attention to the “current frequency” value that CoreDuoTemp reports.

NOTE: MacBooks throttle their processor to 1.5 GHz when they aren’t being taxed, as a way to conserve battery life. Don’t worry about that, until you actually do something with your machine.

3) Quit all other open programs, and do one of the following things to put your machine at 100% load:

a) Copy the Chess application twice, and open all three copies. Start a new game in each, having the computer play against itself.

b) Run “yes > /dev/null” in each of two Terminal windows (one for each processor)

c) Run “openssl speed” in each of two Terminal windows (one for each processor)

(If you choose to run one of the terminal commands, you can stop it later by pressing control-z.)

4) Watch what CoreDuoTemp tells you as time passes (this should be no more than 5-10 minutes). Your temperature should rise, and your current frequency should rise and remain at your computer’s rated speed (e.g. 2000 MHz for a 2.0 GHz machine).

If it doesn’t do that—if your computer’s current frequency perpetually stays lower than its rated speed (or perpetually drops temporarily below its rated speed), once the temperature has risen… you have an underperforming MacBook. Welcome to my hell.

If your MacBook does maintain its speed… wanna trade?

Where in the World is Carmen Brentiego?

Carmen’s outdone herself this time: she’s stolen the Reading Room of the British Museum! You must stop her, ACME gumshoes!

House: Bros before hos, man. (What?) Yeah, Carmen watches my show in syndication on USA on Friday nights.

Marin: I asked Carmen a couple questions over the weekend in my struggle to finish my schoolwork. I didn’t see where she was going, though; I kinda had other things on my mind.

Apple Store Employee: Carmen was here this Tuesday, asking about a MacBook that wouldn’t run at its rated speed. I told her that I was impotent, and she would have to call AppleCare. Sucks that she had to drive an hour and a half each way to get that answer, though.

AppleCare Agent: Carmen called me just after she visited the Apple Store. I was (and am) seriously cool, but it seems I too have a defective early MacBook. I’m trying to talk to engineering, but we’ll see how that goes.

Andy: Carmen tried to visit me at my house on Tuesday, but I was out for the evening. I had her feed my cats while she was out there.

Hick: Carmen who? I haven’t seen a car man since the last time I trashed my tractor.


That’s no way to get a promotion, fools!


Answer: Hell yes!

Compare this picture, that I took just yesterday when I was buying a Range Murata artbook from Comic Toranoana during the much-fabled (but poorly-documented) Japan Trip:

Animate and Comic Toranoana and empty lot

with this picture, taken by Shingo at Heisei Democracy (the actual link is here, but it’s not really work-safe), uh, actually yesterday while shopping in Akihabara:

Comic Toranoana and more Comic Toranoana

That building on the right has gone up in the eight months since I stood at that spot. Impressive.

[The cross-hatch on my photo, if you’re curious, indicates that it was taken from the second floor of the Mister Donut across the street. Apparently Shingo doesn’t value tasty donuts as much as I do.]


It was quite the busy day for me—or, at least, it felt that way. I can’t say that my perspective might not be warped by being tired (of course, staying up even later to write and post about the day’s highlights isn’t helping, but we’ll overlook that).

I was responsible for procuring the birthday cake for a coworker’s birthday today. Due to the way things worked out, this morning I got to run around to the major grocery stores in town: WinCo, Safeway, and Albertson’s. My coworker had a rather unintelligible notation about her favorite cakes, so I wound up visiting the first two stores in vain; at my last stop, Albertson’s, I gave up on trying and grabbed a small single-layer white cake, and a similarly sized chocolate-oreo cake.

During this transaction, Albertson’s successfully determined an amount of money I must save before I’m willing to sign up for a stupid rewards program: $6. Compared to the total price of the cakes before discount, it was a not-inconsequential amount.

That Oreo cake, by the way, is excellent.

Tonight was my final West Coast II class, so we had a “practical exam” consisting of demonstrating a move or skill that we thought we had improved on in the course of the class. The instructor did this by having all the follows rotate around, demonstrating their move/skill when they were dancing in the corner next to the instructor, and then by having the leads rotate in a similar fashion.

The whole event resulted in switching dance partners every minute (at most), giving the sense that we were engaged in speed dancing. I surprised myself by being able to hold a variety of minute-long conversations with most of the follows (get this) while dancing. Interesting conversations, even, that frequently employed humor.

Incidentally, it’s extremely rare for the leads to have to rotate—that duty is almost exclusively given to the follows. I actually experienced a bit of up-is-down, black-is-white disorientation when we started (it didn’t last long). Sadly, once I’d recovered, I made a hilarious (to me) reference to feeling like Dr. Samuel Beckett, hoping each time that [my] next leap would be the leap home, that fell on deaf ears.

During class proper the leads learned how to (“when it appears that another lead can’t handle the woman/women he’s dancing with”) steal follows, and we learned a way to dance with two follows (briefly: a second follow grabs onto the shoulders of the first; leads begin a move by leading the first follow—whose motions cue the second follow on how to move—and finish the move by leading the second follow—whose motions cue the first follow on how to move). Doing so meant that we had groups of two guys and two gals; one guy would lead the gals, and the other guy would periodically steal them away.

Enterprising classmates quickly realized that this could extend to multiple follows, so in short order we had four follows (frequently consisting of a smattering of leads who self-converted into follows, for additional hilarity) being led by one lead. Towards the end, by forces beyond my imagination, the entire class congregated on my group—and I wound up leading at least half the class, including the instructor. Oooooh yeah. The evening was a rare blend of hilarity and kick-assedness; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much joy experienced by a bunch of college students on a Thursday evening of Dead Week.

And then, while driving over to the Beanery for our weekly chat, Brian tells me about a new goal he’s made for himself. It’s the damn funniest goal ever, but I swore I’d keep it secret. (Not that there’s any good reason to, other than to avoid increasing the difficulty of attaining his goal.)

First Blood has been drawn

I cut myself on the inside of a PC for the first time ever, today. I’m not even being pedantic and counting Macs as not-PCs (an opinion that’s more laughable than ever, what with Intel inside and all)—I’ve just never injured myself before. Of course, the most I’ve done historically has been to swap hard drives and install RAM.

My experience swapping hard drives was all that was needed today, though. A coworker’s PC repeatedly decided to pack up and… uh… shut down spontaneously. Our IT guy diagnosed it as a bad power supply (makes sense), but couldn’t get in to perform a hard drive transplant—we have a donor body PC—until tomorrow. Catch: I needed that computer today!

Hence my digging around the guts of two PCs, the laceration I sustained (though I have no idea from what, exactly), and my ironic sterilization of my hands after the operation.

Time keeps ticking, no matter how much I’d like to ignore it

It’s been a bittersweet evening, with my grand return to the ballroom dance scene being the last ballroom dance practice of the academic year. The gears of life keep turning, and I now lose more familiar faces to the machinations of those gears.

Compounding my melancholic sentiment was the fact that I completely blanked on all kinds of moves, in all kinds of dances, in my week of not dancing. I forgot a move in nightclub two-step, for heaven’s sake—I’ve always expected to forget everything but my NC2S. After pausing and thinking about it for a while, or after watching someone else perform a move I had forgotten, I’d have a small epiphany and be able to perform that move again. It was quite like wandering around and picking up the shattered fragments of my memory.

Quite simply, I’m still sick. It’s just not so bad as to be outwardly visible, now.

I’ve also been getting overwhelmed at work with little to no reason, and have little to no energy at the end of the day. Oh, and I’m downloading the public beta of Windows Vista.

…the hell?

Is my MacBook beefy enough to power the Aero Glass theme? I’ll let you know.

After-action report: My download cut out about a quarter of the way through. I’d restart the download, but my browser swears the file is complete. Oh well; maybe later.


Recovery from my illness has been slow but steady; I still tire easily and am relatively quick to become grumpy, but otherwise am tangentially approaching healthy. I started exercising again yesterday, which says something.

Anyway, some tidbits that I’ve forgotten to mention:

Last Thursday, while I was on the metaphorical (and, ironically, physical) bench during dance class, I watched an extremely entertaining dance done by my instructor and a random guy who breezed in the door, and then breezed out afterwards. (I shall call him The Man With No Name.) The real zinger, though, was that they were dancing to the abomination of music known as My Humps, by the Black-Eyed Peas.

Words cannot express how much I hate that song, nor can they express the anger I feel when its damn repetitive lyrics get stuck in my head and cause me extended periods of pain.

This dance was so much fun to watch, however, that it even overpowered my extreme negative predisposition towards the song being danced to. I didn’t actually believe that was possible—I stand corrected.

Also on Thursday, I received word that Sofie’s boyfriend hopped on the clue train and decided that he loved her after all. Idiot.

…I know I have more, but my brain’s failing me at the moment…

This sucks. I’m not happy!

The final ballroom dance of the school year is going on right now, and I’m stuck here posting bitterly instead of attending. Stupid cold!

My nose is behaving itself, and my cough has become extremely sporadic. Now, however, my equilibrium is off. I just tried doing the most basic of spins (one of the few spins I can actually do), but wound up horribly off-balance on the final step—struggling, essentially, to stay upright.

A good dancer this will not make me. I fear for my driving as well, or else I’d at least go and watch (like the old days!). Instead, I guess I’ll keep poking away on my MacBook.

Speaking of which: I installed Windows (on a partition on my MacBook) for the first time ever last night. I laughed heartily when I saw that a fresh install of XP (SP 2) left me with forty-five (45!) critical security updates to install.

State of the Brent Address

The state of our Brent is bad and weak. Three days ago Brent fell prey to a marauding bug of some sort, and for two of those days he suffered exxtreme nasal discharge and full-on post-nasal drip. The pain of his condition warranted putting him into a medically-induced coma using a combination of Benadryl (the original theory being that it was allergies, not illness) and NyQuil (the revised theory being illness).

One or the other normally knocks Brent out; the combination enabled him to enter a coma-like status far into the following day.

ProTip: do not do this! It was actually quite stupid of me, even accidentally.

Today Brent’s nose finally stuffed up, but he developed a solid cough and an extreme susceptibility to dizziness in its place. Consequently, he merely observed during his dance class this evening.

The world did not stay still while Brent was out for the count, however. No! In a cruel twist of fate, the MacBook that actually arrived (!) appears to suffer from overheating that results in the processor scaling back before it even reaches its rated clock speed. That’s right: when this MacBook is put under load (while plugged in and set to maximize performance), it frequently fails to actually run at the 2.0 GHz that it’s advertised to run at.

The only program that is known to report the current speed of the processor, a program called CoreDuoTemp, isn’t Apple-provided software. Consequently, Apple’s not willing to trust anything it says (which is understandable, if not frustrating)—despite the fact that there are MacBook owners out there who claim that their MacBooks can run at full speed under load for extended periods of time, measuring with the same program.

Brent’s only hope of getting a MacBook that runs at its purported speed (assuming, of course, that CoreDuoTemp is reporting the speed accurately) is now to make a trek to the nearest retail Apple Store, compare his MacBook to the store’s models (hopefully demonstrating a difference between them), and bitch and moan until they swap his machine to shut him up.

Sounds like fun for all involved, eh? Brent’s not sure that he’s up to it.

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