failing like never before


My Goodness, My Guinness!

We took a tour of the Guinness storehouse in Dublin, Ireland, last Monday (December 21st). I highly recommend the Guinness tour, as it is great fun, and relatively inexpensive considering that it comes with free beer. Now up until two weeks ago, I disliked the taste of alcohol, and most especially hated the taste of beer. But after having spent some time in Europe, I've managed to develop a taste for various wines, and now even beer. Apparently, all the beers that I've tried previously were cheap and of poor quality, and were therefore not particularly good. While at the Guinness factory, I easily polished off a pint of Guinness draft in record time; a stark contrast to my previous attempts with beer, which usually ended up with me retching after one sip.

After finishing the tour, we went up to the top floor of the storehourse, where the gravity bar is, to enjoy our free pint of Guinness. The bar has glass walls and offers a great birds-eye view of Dublin. We weren't at the bar long however, before we happened to notice that the view behind us was being obscured by huge clouds of gray smoke. We wondered briefly about the origins of the smoke, but being tourists, we quickly dismissed it as probably being normal to Dublin (Maybe someone should tell Copenhagen? I dunno...). A few minutes later, one of the bartenders made an announcement, since apparently several people had asked her about the smoke, saying that everything was under control, that we had nothing to worry about, and that nothing was wrong. She made similar annoucements two more times. After the third announcement, she proceded to lead the bar's occupants in a cheerful Irish song. Now, when a young child vehmently assures their parents that they have done nothing wrong and have been perfectly angelic, the child's parents will imediately start checking the integrity of all breakable items in the house. Much in the same way, we knew something was amiss.

After leaving the factory, we uncovered the truth behind the mystery of the billowing grey clouds: one of the Guinness storehouses had caught fire. Fortunately, it was only an old empty storehourse and nobody was hurt in the blaze, but most importantly, no beer was lost in the fire. Many of the tourguides, bar tenders, waiters, and other Irish locals that we met later on in Ireland, expressed to us their distress of the Guinness storehouse fire. Everyone seemed especially glad that none of the beer had been burned in the fire. I imagine though, that if the blaze hadn't been contained as successfully and had spread to occupied storehouses, December 21st would have attained Sabbath-like importance and would have been remembered in Ireland as the day Guinness caught fire. And then I could have told people, "I was there."


Parking Meter FAIL

'Nuff said...

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The whole frozen yogurt fad has abetted a little in recent times, but it still seems to be inspiring a lot of knock-off brands. Many of us are of course familiar with the ever popular frozen yogurt brand "Pinkberry," but I have to wonder how many people have ever heard of Orangeberry. At least most other brands tried to create their own unique name.  Have a look at the pictures below.

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Word of the Day…

I learned a new word today, and its possibly my most favorite word ever, beating out "doughty" (which I learned from reading The Lord of the Rings in middle school). And the word of the day is:


Defenestration is defined as being the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. I was not hitherto aware a word such such as defenestration existed, and am quite frankly astounded that a word was created to describe such an action.

I picked up the word today while watching an old episode of Dark Angel online.

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Maximum Cow Capacity

This sign (a sort of precursor to modern speed limits and bridge maximum carrying capacity signs) hanging over a foot bridge, located next to Greenback Lane and spanning the American River in Folsom, California (Google Maps link), has always amused me. Based upon my scant knowledge of Folsom and Sacramento, I would estimate that the sign and the bridge are about 100 years old. During those days, $25 dollars would have been considered a fairly substantial sum.

Although I have always tried to obey the speed limit (walking speed)  while crossing the bridge, I have noticed that most other cyclists pay no attention to the sign and that no one seems to be enforcing the speed limit across the bridge. Housing developments have sprung up in the area surronding the foot bridge during the past hundred years and I doubt that anyone has driven cattle across it in at least four decades. Nevertheless the sign still stands to amuse all those who happen to look up as they walk across the bridge.

And for those who can't be bothered to click on the picture and experience the slightly tacky yet cool lightbox effects, here is what it reads:



Wrong Way

I just got stopped by a bike cop because I was riding my bike going the wrong way on a one-way street. A very long, straight, double-lane, one-way street. The same one-way street that a lot of cars go the wrong way on.


Oh well...

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One Last Try

I hate comparing other blogs to mine, because the conclusion I'm bound to reach is almost inevitably the same almost-painful answer. The problem is twofold: firstly, I'm not a very good writer and I never was, and secondly, I have almost nothing to write about.

Now the first problem I can live with, I will never be an amazing writer and it is not my goal to become one; I can live with being passably decent (being mediocre is something that college has introduced me to). But the second issue bothers me. And I wonder sometimes if its because my life is so monumentally boring that I have absolutely nothing exciting to write about, or if its merely that I'm incapable of turning mundane events into something that others might find interesting (like some bloggers are able to do). (I do so hope that it is the latter, because that would seem to imply that I'm not a total loser.) I tried over the summer, to keep a brief daily log of what was going on in my life, and it didn't take me long to realize that the only thing duller then my daily logs is a grocery list. But what the hey, I'm going to try again to write about my life, and see what happens again. So here goes:

About two weeks ago, one of my suitemates discovered the amazingness that is Heroes, and so after he finished with his midterms, he sat down with another of my suitemates and watched all of the first season of Heroes in one day, all twenty-three episodes (each one about 45 minutes long). Now if only our study habits were that good... But of course my roommate and I couldn't ignore the television extravaganza that was going on in our living room, and so by the next day we had watched two episodes and were hooked. My roommate and I finished the last episode of season one two days ago (and what a terrible and unsatisfying conclusion it was; they should have just shot Peter in the head, he would have healed anyways) and we've vowed not to start on season two until finals for this quarter are over. It remains to be seen of course, whether or not we'll be able to hold to our vows.

I managed to get an internship earlier this quarter, and though I enjoy it, its only another testament to my loser-ness. No other engineer that I know of, besides myself of course, has an unpaid internship, (companies are always looking to hire good engineers and engineers tend to be in short supply, so most companies are willing to fork over large sums of money to hire undergraduate engineers). But of course, I managed to find myself an internship at an internet startup that doesn't have the money to pay its interns, and I took the position because it seems that at the rate things are progressing, no other company is bound to hire me. On the plus side, I actually enjoy my internship position (as compared to some of my previous positions), I only have to go to the office once a week at the very most, and I get to polish up on my Ruby skills. With some luck, I may be able to turn this into a paying gig, although I think that would first require that the startup start making some money first. I spent a good chunk of time this weekend putting some work into knocking together some Ruby code, and was able to produce a new class for fetching and performing operations on e-mails using POP3. Since our web application will occasionally send a user a new e-mail (for forgotten passwords, registration confirmations, etc), I had to have a way to test if the e-mails were coming through OK. So I wrote a class that would grab an e-mail from some arbitrary e-mail account, find the newest e-mail matching a subject line, scan it to check its OK, and then extract the pertinent URL from the message body and follow it. It wasn't a very long class, but the regular expressions took me absolutely forever since I've never been much of a regex expert. I've also been writing a class that will extract data from a CSV file and then return the values from each line as an array.

We're using Selenium RC at work to do our unit testing of the web application, and although I think Selenium is pretty awesome, I've found it to be pretty freakin' slow. One very simple test cases, with only a few button clicks, assertions, and wait-for-page-to-loads, took about eleven seconds to run. Considering that we're going to be dumping over a hundred different sets of data into the CSV files for the test scenarios, running a whole series of test cases is going to be my new favorite excuse for slacking off. The biggest bottlenecks right now, appear to be the setup and tear-down times since Selenium has to start and stop Firefox for every new test case, the amount of time it takes to fetch a new e-mail using POP3, and the page refresh-times.

One of my friends is on the school's triathlon team, and recently proposed that I should join. I thought at first that our triathlon team does the full-out "Ironman" triathlon with a 26ish mile run, 113 mile bike-ride, and similarly long swim, and I immediately threw the idea out as ridiculous. But as it turns out, our school does a ridiculously short version of the triathlon that is more of an all-out sprint then anything else (seriously, their run is what I do every other night for my brief work-out). Its something that I could imagine myself being able to complete without too much of a problem, but I doubt that I'd be able to sprint that long. Of course I'd need a real racing bike first, something that isn't a twenty year-old chromoly steel mountain bike with friction shifters and a knocking headset.

Oh, and I've just checked my enrollment times for classes and have found that my second-pass is today at 4:30, and I have no idea what classes I should take. Woot.

(I guess this wasn't too bad of a write-up, certainly it couldn't be called an instant sleep-inducer for every living person.)


Happy Boxing Day

I was going to wish all my readers a merry Christmas yesterday, but my server started acting funky on the 24th and had to shut down for almost all of Christmas day. So seeing as how today is the 26th, happy boxing day!

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