Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Uff. Imperial measurements SUCK. they are completely impractical and hold no useful mathematical function--you have to do math to adapt your math to the scale. Who was the git who decided that "hey, we have 10 fingers, 10 toes, 5 points on a starfish...lets go with 12 inches in a foot."

I am trying to design a tilt-table to fit a small robot. (don't ask--it involves chickens in lab coats.) Now as you know the base of a tilt-table needs to be a very stable structure in order to prevent the table from falling over--the base needs to provide an exactly-centered fulcrum for a smooth, balanced tilt. And what's the most stable structure in geometry that can also act as a fulcrum? An equilateral triangle.

so i do the math. I start with a 30-60-90 triangle because i know if you mirror one you get an equilateral triangle with all the angles proper--60°--without a compass or a protractor. (i have both but i always manage to screw it up somehow.) I start...okay lets have a leg (hypotenuse) of 3 feet, which means the base would be a foot and a half (1'6") and the vertical bit would be (1/2x3') x (√3) ≈1.7 feet.

this is NOT 1 foot 7 inches. that would be too practical.

So i multiply 1.7(and some change) by 12. this gets me 20.78 inches. I know that 24 inches is 2 feet so 20 inches is 1'8". fine. now i have this .78 to play with.

Inches are divided into 16ths. as a carpenter who works with real materials of varying lengths, i have no need to cut down to anything smaller than a 16th of an inch because its not going to make much difference unless i'm building a lazer or something. i work with wood.

so i multiply .78 by 16 and get 12.48. i'm going to ignore the .48 because geez, man. so 12/16. on a measuring tape that comes up as 3/4. 1'8 3/4". Close to 1.7, but not quite.

Now that i've worked that out i realize that .78 is right near .75 which is 3/4, but it takes luck for that to work out. i mean if it came up as .6 i'd be lost.

this is so counter-freaking-productive. I like centimeters. You can do real math with them without adjustment. 1.7 cm is 1cm 7mm. or just 1.7 cm. unlike 1.7 feet which is 1' 8 3/4." REE TAR DED.

In a moment of idiocy, i drew my triangle...in centimeters. it just made so much more sense. and this would work fine except for the fact that my scale rule is in feet. so now i have to go back and draw it again using the other side of the ruler so i can do it to 1/2" scale so other carpenters in this country can understand it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Adventures in Babysitting

Brief update on the developments in tolerating my ickle freshman roommates:

After being repeatedly ignored when i asked the girlies to wash my frickin' dishes when they use them, i realized my system of "treat them like grown-ups" wasn't working. so i tried a new tactic.

I made little signs.

Every pre-school teacher knows that if you put rules like "use your inside voice" and "share!" on the walls in large, friendly letters, perhaps even with a little graphic of a bear and an octopus passing a toy train between them, it means its law. It stands as a constant reminder of what expected behavior is, and can serve as a specific reminder if you put a child in time-out directly under said sign. I've taken Teacher Cadets and Driver's Ed--i know the power of signs.

So i wrote out a sign in large, friendly letters which read "Failure to Promptly Wash Kristen's Dishes will Result in Your Prevention from their Use." A bit wordy, i'll admit, but it looks more polite than "NO WASH=NO USE."

Now let me interject something important here--I own 90% of the dishes in this house. Plates, cups, utensils, pots, pans, cutting boards, measuring spoons, collanders--i got it all. i even have a squeezy metal tea infuser and plastic chopsticks. I own the kitchen scissors and the oven mitt. I also keep the place stocked with sponges and paper towels and even have refrigerator storage containers if anyone wants to use them. I offered to share my bountiful store of kitchen goodness with the girls on the one condition "that you wash the dishes as soon as possible when you're done using them."

My dishes sat for a week before the cute little sign arrived.

The cute little sign hung for a good eight hours before Somebody's grubby little paws tore it from the cabinet.

And tore it to shreds.

Little shreds.

I think somebody took it personally. This amuses me to no end--how better to react to my calling you out for behaving like a child...than to Behave Like A Child? "Oh Kristen is such a bitch accusing me of never washing her dishes damn tyrant thinks she runs the place putting up condescending notes all over the place..." while my dishes, that i didn't use, sit filthily in the sink.

by the time i got home from class the dishes had been washed, though.

I really hope now that the kiddies will stop using my dishes entirely--to spite me. I don't mind if they curse me, call me a slave driver, convince themselves i'm making them clean up after me somehow, so long as they don't leave my stuff a mess.

I just really don't want to have to store my dishes under my bed--my one grown-up roommate takes individual responsibility and washes them, and i'd hate to keep her from them. And its inconvenient for me to crawl under there (we don't have any other storage in the rooms, and i gave my head a good thwack with my bedframe just yesterday going under there for a tube of deodorant.) But if i have to go another day unable to find a spoon to eat my cereal with because all ten of them are dirty i may just have to.

Damn Kids.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


This should be a brief reaction to the BBC article i came across today.

While you may burn more calories lifting weights or doing some other form of functionless exercise (there's a difference between lifting barbells to get buff and lifting bricks to build a wall--the second actually Does something) much can be said for sexual activity being a key element of a healthy lifestyle. I don't know how creative you have to be in the bedroom to maximize the effectiveness of it as a workout, but it simply makes sense that making whoopee would have some health benefits.

After all, if there's one thing all religions, governments, and marketing agencies can agree upon about the meaning of life, its that the primary function of a living thing is to make more living things like it. This is equally true for bacteria, rabbits, trees, and clergymen.

If our sole purpose in existing is to reproduce and preserve the longevity of our own species, it would logically follow that we would have some incentive to continue reproducing. (i.e. sex is supposed to be fun) If sex weren't fun, we wouldn't do it, and we would die out. Easy-peasy.

I think exercise is in dire need of a revolution. I'm tired of going into a classroom and jumping up and down for 45 minutes--i want my exercise to accomplish something Useful. Up until the industrial revolution we didn't have exercise classes--people got their exercise from their work. But ever since we replaced manpower with machines we've needed something else to keep us from becoming living puddles of blubber.

With safety measures in place to prevent this most functional of exercises from becoming fruitful, i think sex as a form of exercise is a great idea that should be encouraged. Human bodies know how to have sex instinctively--we have no biological impulse to lie on our backs and repeatedly lift and lower a piece of metal. Lifting weights hurts--and is supposed to hurt. Modern exercise is the only institution i've ever heard of in which pain is an indication that its working. I still hold that Pain is your body's very simple way of saying "No." If we want to stay in shape and not be masochists, i hold that we should partake in exercise that feels good. So there.

Friday, February 03, 2006


To add insult to injury, this morning began work resurfacing the football pitch across the street, complete with earth-movers that beep when they back up.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


i've been sending off applications for internships all around the country for the past month, to any and every theatre i've heard of with a good reputation, people to learn from, and who can house and feed me. If you work hard and make the right connections an internship can be a great starting point to get you a foothold in your career. Some places don't offer housing or a basic-needs stipend though, some because the theatre can't afford it but many i think because they want to weed out any would-be applicants who don't come from a financial background in which Mummy and Daddy can pay for your rent and food without taking out a second mortgage. They don't want interns who actually need to work to make a living. I'm not bitter--this isn't really a rant, 'cos at least the theatres are up front about it. (though i did encounter one who's literature read "[the] Theatre does not charge a fee for company membership, nor does it provide a stipend." because, y'know, its important to let everyone know that we're at least honest enough to not make you pay us to be our personal slave.)

rant begins.

My biggest motivation in applying for internships is simple--i need a job. I need a career that will pay enough that i can afford a middle-class level house or apartment in a suburban or rural area. I say these areas for one reason only--I can't stand the NOISE that goes along with living in the city.

There is a railroad less than fifty yards from my house. at all times of day and night trains come through at a snail's pace, rattling my windowpane for three minutes at a time with a horn blast that is obnoxious in jackhammer-safe earplugs. At all times my ears are either bleeding from the volume or i'm laying nervously awake, waiting for the next one.

Garbage collection is between 4:20 and 6:00 every day directly under my window, thanks to a very creative design flaw in the building. This is not the regular crew of 3--a driver and two 'monbacks picking up cans and flinging their contents into the compactor. no no. this is a one-man operation, with a truck fitted with hydraulic lifts to grab the full-sized dumpster over the front and pour its contents into a hole in the roof. you'd think these people would be...trained on how to use their machinery before they're sent out on the job, but this is apparently not the case, as it takes at least five tries each time for the driver to get a proper hold on the dumpster (read: each time he fails he Drops the dumpster about five feet, which sounds similar, to the unsuspecting sleeper, to...armageddon) and then, thanks to amazing levels of intellect, once he gets the dumpster situated he proceeds to slam it numerous times into the wall of the loading dock, which of course shakes the building. GEENIUS. this is followed by another fall for the dumpster as it is gracelessly dropped from on high, then the compactor runs (its what i'd imagine a pterodactyl's screech sounds like) and then he bumps into things before finally backing out into the street (accompanied by that fun alarm-like BEEP, BEEP, BEEP 'cos you know blind people can earn a driver's license--on foggy days he blows his horn during the entire backing process) getting somehow noisily into gear, and slowly chugging away. Time required to empty one dumpster? 15 minutes. I shit you not.

I live in an upperclassman dormitory, but somehow some of the kids who live here still haven't managed to learn that "thunking rap music does not make friends out of my neighbors." Of course, i hardly need to mention that the children in my house haven't had time to learn this yet, which is why they belong back in one of those buildings that was custom-built to accommodate people just like them.

Those are the big ones, but there's always the incidentals as well--souped up cars with no mufflers tearing down the street, fights breaking out among the loiterers under my window, sporting events on the pitch across the street, alarms going off when their owners are out of town, and of course fire alarms because morons who don't know how to make popcorn seem to always be up at six in the morning. (dammit there's another train! 1:26am) Added to the stress of applying for jobs and the medley of stenches emitted by my housemates and their candles, incense, and room sprays and guess what! I've had a headache for three weeks solid!

So yeah. house in a field. no trains. no kids. i'll take my own garbage to the tip. time for bed.