Dreamed I was in the cast of the original Star Trek series, but it was modern-ish times and we were all old and meeting at an airport to fly to some kind of reunion*. James Doohan** was the first one there. We greeted each other warmly like old colleagues, and joked around until DeForest Kelley** and several guys I didn't recognize but pretended I did showed up. Then, in walks William Shatner. For some reason he is removing riding gloves as he approaches. "Mistah Shatnah!" I say, affecting and overly formal tone. He grins, shakes my hand, and says "You know, there's been all kinds of chatter about Akamai lately". I am intrigued. "Oh really? What about?", I say.

And then.

At that moment.

I wake up.


What secrets about my workplace were The Shat about to reveal to me? I must knooooooooow!

* = Why we were flying somewhere if we were all near the same airport, who knows, but I digress.
** = Yes, I know he's dead (and I checked, and Shatner's still alive).

CMS recs?

Jun. 21st, 2011 09:46 am
The A.S.S. (the company behind the recent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in which I played, about which I really will do a longer post asap) is talking about putting together a website, and I've volunteered to help.

My instinct is to design and code the thing from scratch, like I did for the Second Shift site, but I'm beginning to think that that's old fashioned (or is it?). For a site that doesn't need to do anything special, just text, photos, and videos, should I just deploy a CMS and be done with it? If so, which one? I kind of like the Stranger Ways site, which [livejournal.com profile] natbudin put seemed to put together practically overnight with WordPress, though my ideal would be extensible using Python instead of PHP (though that's just a preference-- can do PHP fine).

Anyway, suggestions?
I had a really fantastic Arisia this year for a number of reasons. Maybe it's something about the Winter, or maybe it's just what happens when you put almost everyone I know on the east coast in one place for a weekend every year, but every Arisia, good or bad, seems to encompass the milestones of that year for me, and looking back on them shows me how much things change and how much my life has changed each year.

My first Arisia was my first live performance with Second Shift, on a double bill with this other audio theater group of whom I'd never heard, called the Post Meridian Radio Players.

I attended my second Arisia with Sequoia and [livejournal.com profile] rigel, both of whom I was involved with at the time. I handled some things badly, and in a way it marked a turning point in both relationships.

I started my third Arisia in an awkward quasi-dating state with [livejournal.com profile] juldea, and left it officially dating her.

By my fourth Arisia, [livejournal.com profile] juldea and I had broken up, but I wasn't over it yet. It was also the first and only con where I didn't do any performing (which I've found has a huge effect on how much I get out of a con experience), and I got a cold Saturday night to boot. Needless to say, this was not my favorite time 'round, but even then I met both [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene (IRL, at least) and [livejournal.com profile] fontia, and I'm glad for that.

This year was distinct because not only did I do more performing and paneling than in previous years, but I was also in the most stable place socially/romantically I'd been in for any Arisias past. My romantic situation definitely deserves its own post sometime, but suffice it to say for now that not only am I very happily involved with two lovely people, I even got to perform with both of them over the course of the weekend. This among a number of other factors contributed to just about the perfect way to get 2011 started.

Some highlights:

The Starship of Madness
Friday night I did monster voices for the PMRP Doctor Who/HP Lovecraft crossover show, "The Starship of Madness", which was very well received. I hadn't expected it to be badly received, but people really liked it (apparently we even got a nice writeup in the Boston Phoenix). As [livejournal.com profile] preraphaelite and I walked the halls afterward, we each got recognized and complemented several times. This was understandable for her, because she made an awesome sexy villain, but all I did was say things like "get them!" and "flee! flee for healing!" in a funny voice, and yet people still seemed to dig it, so yay! [livejournal.com profile] read_alicia will be happy to know there were also inquiries after the author of the script. We referred them to the Mask of Inanna site. :)

Sassafrass/Stranger Ways: Dark, Nerdy, Norse, A Capella, Folk Concert Extravaganza!
On Saturday afternoon Stranger Ways and Sassafrass had a joint concert that was a joy to take part in. I'll let y'all in on a little secret: up until then I didn't really think of Stranger Ways as a band. We were just some friends who played music in my basement and were presumptuous enough to record an album to release at our second show ever. But once we were up there, jazzing off the energy of the people in the audience, and realizing that they were actually into us... it was great. I think some of the live versions of our songs are actually significantly better than the recorded versions, plus we ended up making back everything we spent on producing the album, and between the two groups we were approached by representatives of three other cons who all wanted us to perform there! I remember during one song, a sing-along where this room full of a couple hundred people were all singing with us...I started to get all choked up. It was just beautiful, and my thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

For those who couldn't make it, we have video of most of the songs by both bands, in concert order, up on a youtube playlist here. Please check it out and share! I'm really pleased with the whole thing, but here are a few of my favorites:

- Our opener, Boys of Bedlam
- Our funniest/cutest song, Week Exchange
- A cover of one of my favorite Tripod songs, I Will Still Play (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rubicantoto for turning me on to them!). Getting to perform this song was huge for me!
- Our big sing-along closer for the first set, Fhear A Bhata
- Sassafrass' song about the runic alphabet, in which I am comically tall, The Futhark Song
- My favorite Sassafrass song Somebody Will. I love the lyrics and sentiment of this song dearly, and didn't get to join in on the sing-along parts because I was too busy crying in the corner. I remember hearing it for the first time at a Sassafrass concert I went to with [livejournal.com profile] juldea... and now that's her singing it as a member of the group. Awesome. :)
- Finally, our big joint group closing number, Toys for Big Kids, in which [livejournal.com profile] faerieboots gets her mad science on!

Story Improv!
As if that wasn't enough, I then ran a panel, and not just any panel, the Story Improv panel! This is an event where four writers take turns writing a story based on prompts from the audience. I was the emcee, which means I was in charge of coming up with prompts to solicit from the audience and giving those prompts to one writer while interviewing the other three to keep the audience entertained. To be honest, I was really, really nervous because I'd spent so much time prepping for PMRP and Stranger Ways that I really hadn't spent much time getting ready for this, and was madly reviewing a recording of a similar panel to remember how the format went just hours before the event.

It went pretty fantastically. There is a thing about myself that I keep forgetting: if you put me in front of a responsive audience and just tell me to start talking, I can generally do it. Hopefully that lesson will stick one of these days. Anyway, there's a transcript and an mp3 up here. The recording is about an hour long, but I'm really happy with how it turned out, and it's a lot more fun than just reading the story. ;)

2010: Our Hideous Future
I continue to be amazed by the creativity and talent in the community out here. Case in point: have I mentioned that some friends of mine wrote and produced a full-length musical in their spare time? Seriously, how cool is that? It's a really fun show, and the brand new soundtrack is currently on sale super cheap at Amazon.
If you're looking for something to sample, I recommend tracks 7 and 12, which are both good songs for different reasons and both show off Kamela Dolinova's great voice, as well as #21 in which [livejournal.com profile] lediva makes an awesome singing, world-dominating computer, and #23, which sums up the show's sense of humor pretty well.

Everything else
There were just too many other things, too many little moments, to list them all. From conversations with people I don't see often, to reminiscing and joking with people about things that had been sources of great tension between us at the time, to a big, Saturday night cuddle-pile that segued straight into the con's big dance party.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic weekend. I just hope that the rest of 2011 can keep up.
Leaving for Arisia in a bit! I actually have a fair number of performances and other such things going on this year, and I'm really excited about it:

- Friday, 10pm: I will be in "The Starship of Madness" with [livejournal.com profile] preraphaelite, [livejournal.com profile] audioboy, [livejournal.com profile] read_alicia and the rest of the Post Meridian Radio Players cast and crew. It's Doctor Who meets HP Lovecraft! That's not just a description of the style, by the way, that's the plot! :D (except that the DW fanboy in me objects to referring to the main character as "Doctor Who", but what's a little pedantry between friends?) I will be doing raspy monster voices that, in time-honored Doctor Who tradition, walk the line between creepy and silly sounding.

- Saturday, noon: Stranger Ways / Sassafrass double show! Not only do we get to play with [livejournal.com profile] faerieboots, [livejournal.com profile] juldea and [livejournal.com profile] aurelia_star's norse-inspired a capella group, this will also be the release party for Stranger Ways' new album. Yay! We'll be selling copies of the CD and download cards for the digital version. Bandcamp links will go up tomorrow for those who can't make it.

- Saturday, 6pm: I'll be moderating the Story Improv panel, which involves two teams of two writers each, who will take turns crafting stories based on audience feedback. I attended a panel like this at Balticon and it was so much fun I pitched it for Arisia. It only added to my sense of dread/joy when I saw that two of the writers are [livejournal.com profile] elenuial and [livejournal.com profile] lightcastle! :)

There are a lot of other things I'm hoping to make it to over the course of the weekend, too many to advertise all of them here, but here are a couple of the big ones:

Friday at 9p AND Saturday at 10a, Michael Anderson will be doing his one-man show, "Hallucinating Shakespeare", which includes "A Bloody Deed", the funniest half-hour of a dude talking about Shakespeare that you are likely to ever hear. If you can't make it in-person, there's a video of a past performance here, but seriously, I saw this show last Arisia and it was good enough that they're bringing him back for two more performances this year.

Then at 7p on Sunday, 2010: Our Hideous Future, The Musical, Camberville's own home-grown nerd musical. Saw this when it was first produced, and I don't think there exists a better audience for this show than Arisia. It'll be a great crowd and a lot of fun. Plus, [livejournal.com profile] lediva plays an evil AI bent on world domination. It's like someone put life at BCOS up on stage!
...while I talk about something, like, 5 people are going to care about:

I always tell my students that what makes Linux's learning curve worthwhile, particularly for sysadmins, is how phenomenally lazy it lets you be once you've overcome it. Case in point, I needed to copy a PDF to a system that I could only reach by way of another system. Sure, I could have copied it to systemX, then ssh'd in and from there copied it to systemY, but that's tedious. We hates tedium. How about this instead?

[brad@foo ~]$ cat file.pdf | ssh systemX "cat | ssh systemY 'cat > file.pdf'"

The rabbit hole, it goes deep.
For the last year I've been keeping a log of when I sleep. It hasn't been perfect, but I've managed to note roughly when I went to bed (by which I mean was about to lose conciousness) and when I got up, including any fits of insomnia in between for 302 of the last 365 days, and have cobbled together some scripting that allows me to graph the results.

Pretty pictures and analysis below the cut )

The thing is, I don't see this changing my lifestyle much. The dilemma has always been that in order to get more sleep, I'd have to either drop something else from my life, which I'm not really willing to do, or have greater control than I've historically had over things like like insomnia/hyperactivity.

That said, I've noticed that with the decrease in stress at my job, I've needed less cope to get by. Whaddayaknow. Will try to do a more comprehensive State of The Me soon. For now: Life is pretty good on the whole, though I'm sick and tired (literally, not figuratively) at the moment. If me from just five years ago could have seen me now... wow, it would be a trip, I think. Things are different. Sometimes scary, but mostly I'm enjoying the ride.
This is my first mostly-day-off in... damn, a really long time. Closing night of EDTM tonight, and hopefully will get some progress made on the workwork project on which I remain behind, but other than that, today has been spent either running low-stress errands (yay sunny day and things within walking distance!!) or sitting in bed with tea and goodfoods, trying to recover from the cast party. MIT's musical theater guild has some... ill-advised traditions, IMO, not least of which being having the cast party the night before closing. There's a rationale for doing it that way, but suffice it to say I am achey, grossly underslept, and, as Henry Rollins once put it, "my body feels like Billy Idol himself". I have no idea what that actually means, and yet it seems to capture what I feel like right now nonetheless. Still, just one more show. If can just baby my voice enough today to pull off one more non-sucky performance this evening, I will go out with a bang and all will be well.

In other news, I owe [livejournal.com profile] redfishie big time for introducing me to Raquy and The Cavemen. I can't decide whether listening to them makes me want to pick up my doumbek and play more, or never bother touching it ever again. Seriously, if this track in particular blows my mind. MUST. SEE. THIS. LIVE. I will dance until I break, and then I will die happy.

In other other news, I have officially run out of space for both clothes and costuming in my closet, which raises a serious question: where am I gonna put all my clothes now?
I've posted before about what a great time I had seeing Tripod perform their D&D folk-opera, "Tripod vs The Dragon" at MassMOCA several months ago. When the soundtrack came out, I was really excited, but realized that one of the problematic strengths/weaknesses of the show is that it actually has a good story, but said story is not well-conveyed by the music alone (they've confirmed that a DVD will happen eventually, and I'm looking forward to that). So, I sent them a message on FB saying that I think people who didn't get to see the show live would enjoy the soundtrack more if the songs had context by way of a synopsis. ...and then they wrote one and sent it to me. :)

So, without further ado, a synopsis of TvD lies below the cut. Also, the soundtrack is currently setting for a measly $7 on Amazon's MP3 store.

Spoiler Alert! )
usernamenumber: (kitsch)
I am currently reading this.

What's more, I'm kind of loving it. I'm embarassed that, after so much complaining that I never have/take the time to read, this is the book that hooks me, but hey, it's still nice to be reading regularly again, and a literary impulse-buy at that.

I'm about halfway through, and so far I agree with most of the reviews: this book is way better than it has any right to be. In fact, I actually think it would work just fine if the main character was not Abe Lincoln. But then minor spoiler alert ) would not be nearly as squee-evoking otherwise. :)

Ok, back to work. Crazily busy this week. Around 12:30 this afternoon I'll have passed 40hrs so far, which hopefully means I'll be able to wrap things up today at take tomorrow off for chilling and Intercon *crosses fingers*.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Alestorm, the pirate metal band.

Pirate. Metal.

I'll be in my quarters.

...actually, check that. They are not "the" pirate metal band. Apparently pirate metal is now a Thing. Why the hell was I not told about this? Behold, Swashbuckle. A band for those, like me, for whom Alestorm verges a bit too close to subtle musicality. Their singer looks like Smee and sounds like a crocodile. If that isn't a badass combination, then... no, that is just a badass combination. 'Nuff said.

And now to cross my fingers and hope for that ninja goth band to come along...
Well, this has indeed been a weekend of Art and Drama (*badum-bum*).

Yesterday a group of us went to MassMOCA to see Tripod Vs The Dragon. Becca, Jason, [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene and I went ahead of the rest to check out the museum prior to the show. The extended drive with three people with whom I wasn't too well acquainted proved quite fun, with everyone gelling remarkably well. In fact, partway through we realized that everyone in the car was veggie so, capitalizing upon this was a rare opportunity, immediately got on gmaps trying to find the hippiest, most carnivore-withering eatery in the area. We ended up going to a place called, I kid you not, Tofu A Go-Go, in the charming town of Greenfield, MA. Well, trying to go there, at least. Sadly, the place turned out to be closed, so we ended up at Thai instead. A worthwhile outing nonetheless. Greenfield is a little mountain towns with an old-fashioned ice cream parlour and earthy-crunchy grocery coop across the street from an independent video game store. My kinda place.

Anyway, we went on to the museum and had time to see the whole thing. There were definite high points, but on the whole it didn't do much to change my feelings about modern art. So much of it seems all inspiration and no perspiration... and much of the inspiration didn't seem particularly inspired either. I mean, there was one room full of weird ambient music that was carpeted with artificial grass, scattered with potted plastic plants, against one of which was laid an ordinary electric fan. Hung from the ceiling were a couple of crude shapes that might have been supposed to be animal parts with speakers in them playing slightly different weird ambient music. If it had been set up as a scene in a larp I might have been mildly impressed.

Then again, there were a few things that I really dug. The first piece that really struck me was called "A Little Death", by Sam Taylor Wood. It was a time-lapse video of a rabbit being eaten by maggots; not much technically, but morbidly fascinating aesthetically. It was part curiosity, as I'd never actually seen the entire process, part amazement at the machinery of nature, and part tentative willingness to accept this as as a sort of novel found art. On the table next to the rabbit sits a peach, which the maggots never touch. The peach was a nice touch, making it look like a "still lifedeath" painting, only animated. ...aaaand here it is on youtube. Don't click if you squick over this sort of thing... duh.

The highlight of the visit was a retrospective of the "wall paintings" (that is, painted walls) of Sol LeWitt. I can't find any good images of the ones we saw (edit a ha! the massmoca site has all of them, though the photos don't really do the experience justice), but the examples from his "late period" were almost literally mind-blowing. Imagine a chunk of wall 10ish feet high, and 10-100 feet long. Now imagine that an artist has figured out exactly how much color the brain can process within its field of vision, upped that by about 10%, and applied to to all sorts of weird geometric patterns. It was literally trippy, and a very cool experience.

(edit Yay picture (you just have to imagine it even brighter and filling your field of vision)

His earlier work was a bit more subdued, but led to my favorite part of the trip: there was one long wall that was divided into 20 or so equally-sized quares, each of which was divided into quadrants, which were filled with four smaller squares each. Each smaller square was grey, yellow, red or blue, with no repetitions within the same quadrant, but, at first glance, never in the same order either.

(edit aaaaaand here's a picture)

This grabbed my brain and would. not. let. go. What was the pattern? Was it random, or was there a message here? I quickly got [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene, and later Jason's, attention and we geeked out for about 20 minutes, finding duplicates and proposing theories as to where a pattern might lie. It was also a neat object-lesson in how differently different people process information. One of us would try explaining a theory, particularly ones that had to do with describing patterns, like how the color order in quadrant B might proceed from the color order in quadrant A, and it was like we were speaking different languages. For example, I found it easiest to explain by numbering each of the positions and analysing the "path" that each color took, so if you went clockwise around the quadrants of one of the squares, the grey square might go 1, 4, 2, 3 but the red square might go 2, 3, 1, 4. This didn't compute at all for Sandry, who instead talked in terms of "rotational symmetry", which didn't compute for me. It was all really fascinating. In the end, I figured out roughly how I could effectively search for patterns with a python script if I'd had my laptop and that was good enough for me. I'm enough of a developer nowadays that the fun of problem solving isn't so much in the solving as in devising the algorithm that solves it for me anyway. ;)

So, to me, that is art I like. I have a pretty liberal definition of art, specifically "any product of creativity". But then I have a rather stricter definition of "art I like", which all comes down to the quality of the reaction it evokes, whether technical appreciation, emotional impact, or simple provocativeness. The trippy walls had an emotional impact in that they were fun to look at, and the pattern wall was the "best" art I encountered simply because of the great playtime that it provoked, intentionally or not.

...although one more thing has to be said for MassMOCA, I lied when I said that the walls were the highlight of the museum. For me, the museum its self was the highlight. Seriously, the building is just fascinating. It's some kind of converted factory, full of twisty passages (most definitely not all alike) and just fun to wander around in exploring.

I'm going to have to do the rest of my Tales Of Culture in a subsequent post, I guess, as it's now well past my bedtime, and having gotten home late from the MassMOCA/Tripod trip last night, and having been awfully labile lately, I'm thinking it's best not to tempt emo by not taking care of myself.
It turns out that there is an extra ticket available to go see Tripod's Dungeons and Dragons folk-opera Saturday night. It's in North Adams, which is about 3hrs into the wilds of western Mass, but we will be road-tripping with a merry crew and fun will be had.

Contrary to my previous post, the trip will not be a day trip, but we are planning on leaving around 2ish to check out NA, which [livejournal.com profile] contradictacat says is interesting so it's her fault if we are bored.

Anyway, tix are $15, and even if people are more interested than the one we have an extra for, they can still be purchased here.

Vid below is something similar by the same group, but I am led to believe that this show will actually be staged, and will involve puppets. Puppets!

So, there's this British comedy/music quiz show called Never Mind the Buzzcocks. They recently did a Doctor Who special with a bunch of DW cast plus Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh as the panelists and David Tennant as the host. So far, it is fantastic. At one point, he starts asking the panelists Doctor Who questions instead of music questions.

My question for you, Dear Readers, is this: am I more of a nerd or less of a nerd if when asked "Who created the Daleks?", I blurt out "Terry Nation" long before it occurs to me to answer "Davros"?

...just wonderin'.

Also, Noel Fielding's comment on Davros: "Is he the small one? The one who looks like a prawn?" <3 Boosh.
Argh, the torture! My random playlist brought up a track from Evil Dead: The Musical, my adoration for which I have ranted about here previously. This led to me checking their website to see, against hope, if they were making good on their promise to take the show on tour, and....

...They are!

...Just not anywhere near Boston.


Ok, two things:

Thing 1: [livejournal.com profile] skipperdee, take note that there's one in Council Bluffs 11/13-21. Even if it's a drive for you, I guarantee it's worth it!

Thing 2: The closest remaining performance is in Norfolk, VA, about 8hrs away from Boston. It is HOSTED BY ODOROUS URUNGUS OF FREAKING GWAR. My head explodes at the thought of such a perfect synergy of Wrong. It closes tomorrow. I have tentative plans for tomorrow, but am sorely tempted to either change said plans or attempt to combine them into Random Road Trip of Awesome.

Who would join me on this foolhardy venture?

Edit: Crap. Nevermind. I just realized that I can't get out of work on Monday, and driving there and back in time for work Monday am is... not gonna happen. Well, crap. =:( If anybody reading this is able to, do check it out if you can!

Another edit: Eeee. [livejournal.com profile] juldea just pointed out (after her comments below) that the performances are at 2:30p, so one COULD make it back in time to be sane on Monday... kinda? Argh. Decisions.
Because Chuck Norris Facts just weren't geeky enough: Bruce Schneier Facts.

"There are no prime numbers, just numbers Bruce Schneier hasn't bothered to factor yet."
"There is no secure e-commerce. Only stuff Bruce Schneier doesn't want."
"Bruce Schneier's private key is so strong that he doesn't even hide it -- if you saw it, you'd die before you could use it."
"Bruce Schneier is not balding, you just can't see the encrypted portions of his hair."
"Bruce Schneier can log into any computer just by staring down the prompt."
"Bruce Schneier once beat an asymmetric cipher into symmetry."

And then there are the Bruce Schneier knows Alice and Bob's shared secret T-shirts.

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be working today... *sigh*.
This just dawned on me this morning... The contents of Elizabeth and I's apartment are:

Misc. clothes
1 mattress
1 desk
1 chair
3 computers
1 tv
1 dreamcast

I love geekhomes. =:)

A friend suggested that I upload some pictures of the place and I will once we get DSL. Still using the courtesy computer in the main office. =:\

One last thought: There are lots and lots of lizards here. Bugs I was expecting but during the 2 minute walk it takes to get here, I regularly pass at least 10 lizards of varing types and sizes (though none larger than your average aligator lizard). Still, very interesting.

Oh, and I have a headcold. Oh well, at least this way it'll probably be over by the time I have to do anything outside of the apartment.

Work let me borrow a laptop, thus allowing me to fullfill my lifelong ambition of coding at Denny's.

Plus, the hotel has dsl. sw33t. =:)
I just found this while poking around on freshmeat.net and after manana's last post about 3d chess, I thought that he, cadix (how _do_ you do the automatic-link-to-friend's-names thing, anyway?) and a few others might find it interesting (though I think you'd have to be running Linux to actually play it):


The blurb from the website is this:
XiStrat (aka 'Extended Strategy') is in particular about turn-based, networked multiplayer, non-cooperative, zero-sum, abstract strategy board games (e.g., Chess, Go, Reversi variants, etc.) on 3D-visualized polyhedra and contains a server, client GUI, autoplayer engine, utilities and documentation.

Besides related recreational modern mathematics (single agent, cellular automata, graph/group/complexity/knot theory, discrete geometry, algebra, combinatorics, mathematical physics) is dealt with.

I so don't have the energy to wrap my head around this tonight, but hey, it doesn't get more geeky (sounding) than that. Oh, and check out the 'customer feedback' on the front page. =:)

Since I'm posting, I might as well give an update: I'm flying out to Phoenix a week from Monday to teach the affore freaked-out-about C class starting that Tuesday. Then on Friday evening I fly back, but probably to Tampa instead of San Diego. Lizbeth and I are going to crash at her boss-if-she-hires-her type person's house and try to cram deciding if we can bear it there, getting more info about the school, finding an apartment and throwing enough resumes around to hopefully get jobs with which to afford said apartment into the space of about a week. We may or may not be coming back.

Sometimes I feel so lucky having met Elizabeth because I think that my life would be much more boring without her.

...other times I really, really envy the bored. =:\



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