Monthly Archives: November 2012

062: Embalmment


embalmment (countable and uncountable; plural embalmments)

The process of embalming.

This post is being written from a live session of Fedora 18 beta. The first surprise of the morning was seeing the beta release announced on Distrowatch – I haven’t been paying attention to the timeline – and so I hurried to download the DVD image (which currently weighs in at a scant sub-800 MB).

The second surprise of the morning was the thirty-second boot; I was up and ready to go in well under forty seconds by my watch. It was a blindingly fast deal – maybe something to do with the fact that I was booting off a USB disk and not an optical disk this time round.

The beta performs very smoothly on this machine – though mounting my encrypted disk didn’t work, and screen brightness is as uncooperative as ever, I think I’ll be very pleased with this.

I’m a little sad that the art isn’t … relevant any more. With “Verne” we had a beautiful submarine that brings back memories of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; and before that, Leonidas, was it? (derp, “Lovelock”) had some themed artwork too. “Beefy Miracle” has some nice fireworks, because we often eat hot dogs on the Fourth of July and so fourth (hurr).

But there’s nothing in the wallpaper of Fedora 18 to suggest a spherical cow.

Ah, I haven’t used Fedora long enough to know – baseless complaints; GNOME 3 runs smoothly and the system seems useable enough – I’ll call it a night.



061: Classical Armenian

Proper noun

Classical Armenian

Another name of the Old Armenian language.

I practiced piano for a long time this morning after escaping from physics section; fired by interviews of Rafal Blechacz, I fanatically played two etudes by Moritz Moszkowski, practicing them harder than I ever remember doing at home. I gave an encore in the evening after dinner, locking myself in the rec room and practicing hard. It was a happiness unequaled to feel my fingers storm the F-major etude more evenly, more smoothly, more rapidly than I have ever played; and the E-flat major – it’s shaping up; it’s not so stiff any more. In the F-major, those runs up and down the keyboard remind me so much of little rockets whizzing shrilly through the air…

I stretch my arms until they hurt, grasping at that crystalline technique of Rafal Blechacz – how can someone who only puts in maybe an hour a day (that’s a lot for me, granted – but nothing at all compared to any proper musician) hope to achieve anything beyond the cheapest of imitations?

Still my polonaise disgusts me, but still I persist – I’ve had it under my wing for years, incubating and weighing and modifying – it’s never turned out right, never. Someday, I hope, when I have more free time to devote to music…

I looked up from my box of waffle fries en route back to the dorm; the moon blushed at me and drew a thin veil of clouds around itself in the semblance of modesty. But that celestial dress could not hide the enormous halo it projected about itself: a luminous corona, many times the size of the petite body it enclosed, just barely visible all the way across from where I stood a ways off from the elevator.

Mmm, it’s true that the moon is ripe material for poetry.


EDIT: I completely forgot to tally up my most important event of the day: an exorbitant expenditure of unprecedented amount: fully $28.10 on four CD’s, which comes to an average of little over $7.00 per CD. These were (in descending order of price) Rafal Blechacz on the complete Chopin preludes (and then some), Rachmaninoff on Chopin, Mikhail Pletnev with the Russian National Orchestra (conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) on Prokofiev’s and Rachmaninoff’s third piano concertos, and Isaac Stern with the Philadelphia Orchestra (conducted by Eugene Ormandy) on Brahm’s Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77.

Was it an unnecessary chunk of my savings blown for no good reason? Yes. Am I pleased with the music? As it stands, very. I have listened thus far to the Prokofiev (every bit as good as I remember; and better, since I first heard a battered-and-scratched copy from the public library) and am in the middle of the Brahms. I’m liking that quite a lot too – Aneiss was right; Isaac Stern is quite good.

Pletnev’s interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s third concerto is something which I have been after for a while now, and am quite proud to have in my possession; the third movement is pure gold to me.

As for Rachmaninoff himself on Chopin, the reviews I’ve read have been very positive, and I find myself somewhat drawn to the bluntly assertive and very confident playing style of that great pianist. It was NEW, no less – even though the jewel case was almost broken – and fully a dollar cheaper than what I could get on Amazon, which was almost out of stock anyway.

Stern is currently dishing out a cadenza – and Lord, can he play. I think I like this Brahms.

The Blechacz hovered around almost half the price I could get it for on Amazon, and was in astonishingly good condition (actually, most of the disks I’ve bought from Rasputin music, regardless of price or outward condition, have been in just-about-pristine condition). I look forward to listening to him play!

Oh, but it was worth it!


060: Synchronization Proxy

synchronization proxy (plural synchronization proxies)

(Internet) Alternative form of “synchronisation proxy”.

Well, that was useful.

Today, for posterity I again record the location of the gnome-settings-daemon for whatever GNOME I have now on Fedora 17: it’s at /usr/libexec/gnome-settings-daemon. I have created a local alias (“gsd”) for my own convenience – it comes in handy for display problems, I find.

Two links to consider, the first that would activate i3lock before laptop sleep, and the second which describes basic dealings with service files:

and by the way, just now there’s an interesting section on power management:

Back to school tomorrow, oh Lordie me…

But a long weekend with family and friends (oh! I miss them already) has done me well; my cold’s almost gone away, and I am now the proud owner of a beautiful wicker-work creature which I call my Patronus. I have no idea what it is. I like it.


EDIT: I’ve GOT it! Now I can just close the lid on my laptop and come back to a locked screen automatically! The downside is that the color is set directly in this shell script placed in /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/ (directory system-sleep had to be created), which means that if it ever takes my fancy to change the color that i3lock works on, I’ll have to modify this script. Pity! I don’t actually know what the shell script does, I just copied the instructions at .

#! /bin/sh
case “$1” in
i3lock -i 90a5a6
*) exit $NA


EDIT: Tragically, I rescind my previous edit about success. It doesn’t work now. Strange.


EDIT: kludge discovered via Ubuntu documentation; there’s a dispatch script that xfce4-power-manager calls, named xflock4; I simply create a local shell script of that name and have it call i3lock with the appropriate parameters – ET VIOLA, the problem is solved!


059: Plus-size


plus-size (comparative more plus-size, superlative most plus-size)

(of clothing) Designed to fit an overweight person.
(of a person) Overweight.

Over at Christine’s, Joyce’s, and Tina’s house today for a Thanksgiving after-party, we watched Amélie. WOW, but that was a GOOD film.

I’m not a huge fan of the modernist, accordion-heavy film score (Yann Tiersen, hats off to you anyway) but at least it fails to be cliche.

The film itself was sort of a novelty to me – gimmicks that are typical of films of the day, like color shenanagians and beautiful wide-angle camera shots. Very pretty, but I’m not sure if that’s considered substance.

Still, the subject matter – a long-winded love story of the title character and a man who has a funny hobby of collecting photos – is beautifully portrayed and wonderfully executed and just wow. It was a heart-warming story, too; the way they live and love is something delightful to see.


058: loathsomeness

A whirlwind of activity like never before took my schedule by force: I was up until a quarter to five this morning. I would have been in bed before then if not for a long conversation with The Nice Pencil-Selling guy and Alwin; that only kept me (along with math homework) ’till quarter past four.

But no, I glanced at my watch when I next crawled out of bed to light my lamp: it was a quarter to five when I began notating the first bars of my “Vulgarity no. 1 in G major for two cellos.” The work is as meaningless as anything else I have composed; the major form of musical development is a meekly simple rhythm in 2/4 held by the first cello which is slowed and phase-shifted enormously for the second cello to state as a theme.

I refuse to pull out the pathos stops and resort to the usual predictable cycle of fourths that characterize beautiful music. I lack enough experience to deal in chromatic bass lines (that’s not saying much) but I will plow ahead with the simplest model I have developed for myself.

And this work WILL be developed PROPERLY, not abandoned like the rest of my FJH Variations (which are always on my mind anyway, since the thematic material is not completely worthless).

I fell through my bed into dream country with ease, and dreamt strongly – that all disappeared, though, when I crawled out scarcely a few seconds later when Michael’s half-past-seven alarm (the first of a medley) rang.

After office hours and a late lunch, I found myself reading some of Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin works – they’re wonderful!


EDIT: careless of me to forget my word of the second!

loathsomeness (uncountable) – The property or nature that gives rise to revulsion, that inspires loathing.

057: Diamondback Rattlesnake

diamondback rattlesnake (plural diamondback rattlesnakes):

Either of two venomous rattlesnakes, of the genus Crotalus, from southern United States and Mexico, that have diamond-shaped markings on their backs: Crotalus adamanteus and Crotalus atrox.

Last night, we were evacuated from building six (yes, all of us) so the police could shoot a wounded skunk.

Michael and I had a great view from our window – we saw the blue and red lights and we saw the little furball in the middle of the road. An officer shooed it to the curbside; it climbed laboriously into the safety of the brush but didn’t go much further. After half an hour of deliberation, an RA stuck her head into our suite and asked that we move to the TV lounge.

Of course, Michael and I immediately raced to get cameras pointed out our window. Michael had a nice wide angle view, I had a clean strip of brush, trees, and the place where the skunk was.

Twenty minutes of hangman later, we were given the all-clear. Alfred was spotted heading outside with a camera (the rest of the suite spied on him and his girlfriend from our room – they were taking FLASH pictures of the place where the skunk had been shot). Michael and I played back the 20-minute-ish videos. I found the crucial point first, and Michael followed soon after.



The highly unpopular Euphrates Dam, which has long stifled the food supply of the peninsula downstream, was destroyed today. The demolition was neither planned, announced, or accidental; it was blown up in a fiery blossom of gunpowder by persons unknown.

The Euphrates Dam was constructed under orders of the Assyrian ruler Michael Yano in a political move to strangle his enemies down the peninsula. It was highly effective throughout its short existence; the damage caused was immeasurable, and Yano’s karma fell drastically.

Suspicions abound about who may have sponsored the attack. The questions of who reaps what benefits is clearly answered (see B10, REAP), and the finger-pointing has already begun at the national level.


056: Waddingtonian

Waddingtonian (comparative more Waddingtonian, superlative most Waddingtonian)

Of or relating to Conrad Hal Waddington (1905–1975), biologist, paleontologist, geneticist, embryologist and philosopher who laid the foundations for systems biology.

I have written three clunky shell scripts (they’re not even scripts, really, just shortcuts) that do a number of things. Running “amuseme” will open a random Wikipedia article and a random xkcd comic. Triggering “whether” will call up the current conditions and the day’s forecast for 94720. Calling “wots” will request a random word from Wiktionary.

Well. “Waddingtonian” isn’t very interesting.

Inflammability: (noun) (countable and uncountable)

1. The condition of being inflammable

2. The extent to which something is inflammable

A little better. You can never be careful enough about understanding fire hazards.

Roaring success of the day: running a brute-force gauntlet of matrices, derivatives, and chain rules without error.

An overheard: “Michael, do we just have to brute-force this…?”
“Uhh. Yeah, I think so…”

I even went so far as to number my terms as I crossed them off to make sure each was properly paired.

It was only a piddly practice problem, but little things like this are really worth some short-term happiness.