Tuesday, March 29, 2005

My Birthday, Of Sorts

I got my credit report today. Interesting Dustin Trivia--Tha Man started tracking me in August of 1999--when I enrolled in undergrad, presumably.

And my credit score was pretty good, but TransUnion said that "the main reason your credit score is not higher is that you do not have credit cards; you need to prove you can manage large amounts of potential debt."

Life is weird...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sure Was Monday

I spent most of the day trying to see blurring in images of homogenous phantoms. These images were made from computer code that takes 15 minutes to run.

And then the scanner went down...

At least I didn't break the 3 million dollar piece of equipment...


On another note, I'm trying to figure out when the last deadline I had that wasn't extended was...I got a letter from the Houston Ballet saying that they were extending their deadline for season ticket purchases. Maybe they just want to make giving them money as easy as possible...

Thursday, March 24, 2005


I am a big fan of the Apprentice. Tonight Erin was fired.

I gotta say, it cut close to home when someone was paid for making one wisecrack too many...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Jesus Christ Superstar

I finally watched both versions that Netflix has--the 1973 version and the 2000 version. My Sunday school class has been discussing perceptions of Jesus (as reflected through the media), so it was an interesting experience (and thus moved to the front of my queue).

I think the most interesting point is that there is no Snidely Whiplash villain in the story. Judas is trying to save Jesus from himself; the pharisees are trying to save Israel from incurring the wrath of Rome. My faint impression (which I cannot really justify with a hard comparison between the two, this is just my impression) is that the 2000 version plays the a more ambiguous angle while the 1973 version has a bit more of Judas as someone who tried, but ultimately did not understand. You can watch the movie and feel empathy with Judas, and you can understand why he made the choices he did, even if you think he chose wrong. There is a distinction between someone who errs and someone who is acting out of greed and malice.

And why do I think this is a point worth making, here, where anyone in the world could come upon this post by a silly twist of Google's search algorithm?

Because I am sick at my stomach after reading a few blog posts on the Schiavo case. I have no intention of writing a political blog--we have enough of those--but I have every intent of reflecting myself in this blog. And what is nauseating me is the sheer display of bile on the part of so many. In just one comments section, I read of alleged murder attempts, fraud, and various other forms of overheated bloviation.

I know that the demonization of one's opponent is a tried, true, and reprehensible rhetorical technique, but that does not mean that it becomes anyone. One of the hardest (and ongoing) lessons in my life has been to learn to not attribute to malice what can be adequeately attributed to someone who is trying to do the right thing and has different definition of right than I do. And when I do, I've found that things end far more peaceably than they do when I consider someone my adversary.

And so that nobody can accuse me of falling behind in the flippant cynicism, I have to point out that my maxim does not say anything about assuming stupidity on the parts of others--especially IT people ;-)

Disclaimer: The above post is not an argument for moral relativism. Just because I can understand Judas' choice does not mean that I condone it. But I do understand it, and I can understand that I am not dealing with bugaboos, or caricatures, or monsters, but humans.

Okay, my venting is accomplished.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Upside of Classes

There is, it turns out, a hidden benefit to still having classes and homework.

On days like this, many forms of homework can be done from one's balcony.

*Sips coffee and returns to work...*

Things Learned in Pubs

Yesterday evening I went down to the Mucky Duck, where Mondays are open mic night. To state the obvious, going to open mic night is a bit like playing spin the bottle (or so I imagine; I have never actually played it)--sometimes you get the hot one, sometimes you get the frump.

I should clarify that I am talking about the musicians in a metaphorical sense, instead of the waitresses in a lurid sense.

Anyway, one singer who was reminiscent of a suicidal Weird Al Yankovic in tone, style, and theme, left me with the distinct impression that the phrase "The whole damned world is going to hell" is much shorter in Russian than it is in other languages. This seems oddly fitting.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Being John Ma...Er...Dustin Ragan

Today I was in the interesting position of failing to prove that I am me to someone on the other side of the world. I know this sounds like the premise of an episode of a Wednesday evening sitcom, and maybe it is--God being a comedian playing to an audience to scared to laugh and all that (and what does every comedian get? His own TV show! And I have a role! I made it!).

But let us begin, as they say, at the beginning. Last night I was on my way back from the grocery store and I noticed that the air conditioner in my car was not working. It still isn't. This puts the fan in the same company as the passenger side window, the driver side power door lock, the internal lighting, and my fender, all of which are awaiting reincarnation after being melted down for scrap.

Unless it is a trivial fix of some belt (which it may be), I figure I have about 2 months before driving to work every day becomes a struggle for life against the Houston sun.

Preparing for the worst, I ordered a credit report. This is a fairly irritating process. As verification of your identity, you have to provide the credit card numbers of all of your credit cards, your street address, SSN, and year of birth. After a moment of panic when they were asking for three credit card numbers--I have a gas card thatwas long forgotten--I proceeded to the next question, which was "Here are a list of street names, some of which you have lived on. Give one address where you have lived." I entered my current street address.

Thirty minutes later, after speaking at length with a nice Indian gentleman, it was concluded that their computer system does not have enough information about me to verify that I am me. They can, however, mail my credit report to me.

This is the same street address that they were unable to verify me with.

My faith in the system is, yet again, deplenished.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Behind in Blogging

It is amazing how much night labs can mess with your outside life. I have at least three posts I want to write but have not had the time to, including the long awaited commentary on the new season of Power Rangers.

Hope springs eternal :-)

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Other White Sheep of the Family

My brother is officially considered the best debater in division 1A. He even has a piece of paper to prove it. Kudos!

Korean Moon Pies, pt. 2

As requested, here is a scan of the ingredients list from the infamous

Korean Moon Pie (is it just me, or does that sound like the name of a

military dictator?)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The White Sheep of the Family

My dad won a pickup playing poker in Vietnam. There is a story about my mom and some of her sorority sisters walking into a bar that I am still not allowed to hear, but I think a car was lost along the way (perhaps there is some peculiar conservation law of vehicles in effect with my family).

I, for contrast, used to work for a church and am working on my doctorate.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because yet again I suspect that something weird happened with my DNA. I am too tame to be in my family.

My brother is in Austin at a debate tournament and I got a call from Sixth Street that begins with "Can you guess what I did?"

There is no way a phone call with that greeting is going to go well. When the next phrase is "It's Spring Break", it got worse.

On the plus side, he only pierced his ear. On the downside, mom can see his ear. And she's in Austin as a school chaperone...

This probably explains why I could communicate so well with the party girl from Tulane, but that's another post.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wasting Time in the Morning

It is surprisingly hard to find ways to waste time in the early morning. There is no point in heading off to the lab--by the time I parked, I would just have to return. You see, I have made a crucial decision: I am getting a haircut.

Admittedly, it is less of a crucial choice for me than it was for say, Samson. But I feel that I need to project that thin, critical veneer of respectability for when I give tours tomorrow to the incoming students.

Besides, I am curious about how my barber's Thanksgiving went.

However, all of this has to wait until 9 AM because I get my haircut by a gentleman in the latter part of his middle-age who has his own barber shop and who requires appointments because he otherwise would rather sleep in.

I have 45 minutes left to kill.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Riddle Resolved

One of the great mysteries of grad student life has involved M. D. Anderson's new wayfinding system, which is landmark-based. There is one region called "The Aquarium" which, curiously enough, has neither water nor fish.

This has been the subject of much speculation (i.e. ridicule) amongst us dwellers in the basement.

But today, taking a brief walk after lunch, I had an epiphany.

The Aquarium is a large, open area with glass walls. The people in the lobby are the fish, metaphorically speaking.

Tis sick, twisted, and quite possibly correct.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Like a Rocking Roll

Friday evening I went to the ballet--there is a certain uncomfortableness to being a single, heterosexual male who has season tickets, but I am learning to cope.

The centerpiece of the show was "Rooster", which is set to the music of the Rolling Stones. It was rather cool--it was about adolescents strutting about and trying to act cocky, pun intended. Or at least that was what I got out of it.

The lowlight was reading the advertisements for other Houston area performances. It was there that I discovered that 1984: The Musical exists. That a musical was made of one of the most atrocious books ever written frightens, confuses, and astounds me.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Korean Moon Pies

So one of my co-students gave me a "Choco-Pie" today. It had no nutritional information, which was probably a blessing. The ingredients list was in English, Chinese, Russian, some form of Farsi, and two other unidentified Asian languages, one of which needs three times as many symbols to say "Ammonium bicarbonate" than the other.

The sole labels on the food were "Eat soon after opening" and "Keep out of sunlight."

I'm still a live.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Getting Down Wid My Phat Self

Thanks to Griffin's timely linkizzle, select portions of this blog will be simuposted in both standard English and Ghetto. Here is a recent post, translated appropriately:


1. A definizzle of insanity is doing tha same thing multiple times n
trippin' different results.
2 . Im crazy, you can't phase me. Scientific measizzles should be
repeated so tizzle noise wizzy average out--i.e., coz you'll git
different results each time like a tru playa'.

Therefizzle in orda ta do science right, you hizzle ta be insane.