Friday, March 11, 2005


It's been some time since my last entry. The main reason
for this is that I was working like a maniac trying to
finish the Hol-Light implementation of the real closed
fields decision procedure by the CADE deadline of last
Friday (which turned into Monday morning due to the kindness
of the organizer). It was an awesome work effort on my
part. I don't think I've ever been so productive. I would
wake up early, around 6, and work on it until I had
something at school. Then would return immediately from
school and work until 2 or so. This continued for nearly 2
weeks. I finished! The final example of the paper
completed while I was sleeping on Sunday morning. It felt
very good to have such focus and drive. It's funny what
deadlines can do. As a result though, there's a hole in my
electronic memory, so I'm going to try to fill some gaps.

What's happened in the last 2 weeks? The paper was a nice
accomplishment. John Harrison wrote the bulk of it, as I
was frantically working on the code. It was great working
with him, and I hope to keep our collaboration going. Right
now the biggest problem is the ridiculous inefficiency of my
implementation. Correctness was hard enough though, so I'm
a little hesitant about diving into an optimization phase.
Ahh, back to the past.

I went home for my dad's 80th birthday party! It was a
surprise. I flew home on Thursday night. I slept at
Barnaby's place in SF, then took Caltrain to my mom's in
SJ. On Friday I put together an iPhoto slideshow of a bunch
of old pictures of my dad that I had scanned in the week
before. It came out really nice! There was some good
music, (Five for Fighting, Edgar Meyer and John Larson) and
I made some little comment slides that explained some of the
pictures. It was a great deal of work, but I'm so
wonderfully happy I did it. Anyway, I got to the house
where the party would be an hour early and hid in the
upstairs bedroom. I was still editing the slideshow, so the
time went quickly. When everyone had arrived, there were
some short speeches celebrating my dad, and then I was
ushered in by his great friends and, after some surprised
hugs, we all watched the slide show. The party was really
fun. My dad likes gambling games a lot, so the theme of the
party was "McLaughlin's Games". When you arrived, you were
given a bag full of 80 "McLaughlin Nuggets" (pennies). Then
there were a bunch of game stations (21,Craps, Roulette,
Poker, etc.) where you could attempt to win other people's
nuggets. The one with the most nuggets at the end of the
night got to choose first from the pile of door prizes.
Everyone got a prize, and they ranged from exotic beers, to
nice wines, to flowers (for the ladies) and nice chocolate.
It was such a good time! There was even air hockey upstairs
for the more physically minded. It was a magical night.

The trip was very short. I left on Sunday night. I was
suppose to leave at midnight, so I went to the city early to
have dinner at the dive Indian place around the corner from
Barnaby's. We stuffed ourselves, and in the process of
talking lost track of time and I hopped on BART just a few
minutes too late. I got to my gate at SFO 5 minutes late,
and I had to be put on a different plane. The redirected
flight went through Houston, so I wanted to call Rodolfo,
but it was 5AM when I got there, and I didn't have the heart
to wake him up. In the Houston airport I saw potentially
the worst realistic sculpture I've ever seen in my life.
It's George Bush, "casually" throwing a jacket over his
shoulder. It was so bad I took a picture:

Immediately after that assault, I found this humorous scene
on the departure screen.

Got Windows?

I finished Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War. It was
mostly wonderful. I can't imagine a life in the trenches of
WWI, and am I'll equipped to say anything wise about war or
suffering. It's still in the queue of books awaiting quote
entry, so I'll leave with something from Aeschylus, a quote
that is on the tomb of Robert Kennedy. It is perhaps the
soul of Helprin's novel. And indeed, many others.

"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop
upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

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