My Zunivers

28 February 2007

Condor vs. umbrella.Run(int&, int&, int&, NULL)

As I said, I've been busy.

I never realized how complicated it could be to run Condor on a cluster. After getting some help from the computing center so that I could get back out of version hell (new disk image since last time I was helped), I have to deal with the code itself. After three hours of whittling away at the problem, I have determined that there is a funky function call, to a function called Run, causing my pain. Run is overloaded to accept two different kinds of inputs I can see, (int&, int&, int&, #) or (int&, int&, int&, ?) where I'm not sure what "#" is (except that from what the original person wrote it is quite likely char&), and where I don't know what "?" is (the previous person had NULL as the input). I would be in better shape if I could find Run in the template nest.

When I comment out the line that calls Run, things work as fine as they can considering that I just took out the call to the function that actually does all of the work beyond inputting some parameters. When I include a call to Run so that I can actually get results, I get nothing but a core dump. This is strange, because I'm used to getting a core dump from run-time errors that happen once the code works it way to the bad call, but in this case not even the preliminary stuff before calling Run runs.

Of course, this only happens when I link with the Condor libraries. Without those libraries Run works just fine. And the porgram is a nasty monster template based thingy and I can't find how to check the ways this overloaded Run function can be called and beat it into a more sensible structure to see if it's happening from Run wanting one way and getting another. I mean, I could find it, I just don't feel like spending two days to do it. (I realize now that there's a simple way to check that-- use the other option and see if the same problem happens. Can someone put a note on my desk or remind me or something? Thanks.)

The templates are half the problem getting it all to work anyway. Weird but true-- I couldn't even get it to link with the Condor libraries without inserting a compiler command to skip a warning about the length of the names of some such thing related to the templates. This is odd because when compliing and linking without the Condor libraries that warning was not displayed even in the most verbose mode.


Dear me, I hope it's not a namespcace problem. Then I'd really be up poop creek, because I can't even get std::cin and std::cout to work in this monster, unless they've been hidden in cstring or somewhere else other than iostream. Maybe some Java monkeys got hold of the compiler source code and mucked it. Or Pascal freaks. Or video game translators.

All of this, of course, is as service to my research group. It's not my program, we just need to know how long it takes to run and we want a dedicated machine to do that (enter the cluster).

For my own work, I have one tweak left in my program for Le Projet Perpetuel, and then I'm as done with that as anyone will ever need.

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20 February 2007

A Potato For Your Thoughts

I've been working, so I haven't had a chance to do things like talk about my weekend adventure to Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, Villa Mannino in Bordentown, and my mom's place. I did drive over 200 miles that day, and the church service was interesting enough that I'll need to talk about it in detail.

On to my little topic for now, Tuesday and/or Wednesday is/are some liturgical day/days or another that means/mean almost nothing to me. I'm about as attached to particular days on a calendar as Ulrich Zwingli was attached to real presence in the eucharist, so I have no reason for Ash Wednesday, or Lent, to be a time for me to have any thoughts or practice any exercises that I should not think or do for the rest of the year. This is probably good for me, becuase if I gave up Jesus for Lent my church would run me out with pitchforks (strangely, it would be for giving up somthing for Lent, not for giving up Jesus, something that would merely get me prayed for).

There is one thing, though, that I do at Lent and not other times of the year. If you said "Girl Scoout cookies?" you're almost right. I eat fastnachts. For the uninitiated, these are a potato based deep fried thing similar to a doughnut but different enough that I want to ream the millions of pseudo-Pennsylvania Germans who call them doughnuts, as if they are white flour based rings with glaze or frosting with sprinkles, or something labeled "Boston Creme" or "Raspberry Filled" and taken off the rack with a little sheet of plastic that gets dropped into the bag.*

Fastnachts are to doughnuts as croissants are to begals as caviar is to canned tuna-- fine dining makes no concessions to the unrefined masses.

Verstehen Sie?

Annually I eat fastnachts like I'll never see another. Arguably that is true this year.

I'm not into the tradition of the last person out of bed being the rotten fastnacht. Having had that label applied to me more than nearly any child in history, I am scarred for life by it. I've got to remember that one for my next discrimination survey or seminar. I also don't like that whole wait until Tuesday thing. I see food I eat it. Give me fastnachts! I'd eat them year round if not for the hundreds of dopes who eat them only Shrove Tuesday ("Fastnacht"), forcing demand to be very low during off season times (from Ash Wednesday to Valentine's Day).

I am, however, something of a fastnacht snob. You can eat them however you'd like, or even skip them, and this fastnacht snob will help you celebrate the diversity. I prefer the syrup my mom used to buy, but that's just my preference. Making them improperly, on the other hand, just makes me want to go postal. The ones that come from the grocery store powdered or glazed? That's a pathetic sell-out to Dunkin Donuts et al by a bunch of people who probably also put so much kethcup on their burger that they can't taste the meat. The fastnachts that have yeast in them? If I thought about it then I wouldn't eat them, so I don't read the labels.

My wife was at Redners, the only place in the area to get decent ones without knowing and endenturing yourself to the few old women left making them at churches and firehalls, and she picked up a dozen for me. This dozen was the best from a grocery store that I've ever had, and I immediately, as in before I even opened the box, realized why-- they were fried in oil that was a little hotter than the average grocery store fastnacht.

Normally at the grocery store they are the color of, here we go again, a regular doughnut. Sure, they can be a bit yellowed by the potato, but they aren't a rich, dark color like the ones little old ladies or my mom would make. The box my wife got were nice and brown. Being nice and brown in this way, they were also a little less cooked on the inside. They were cooked, of course, but they were not as dry as usual.

I have in my posession the best fastnachts a grocery store can produce, and I'm not sharing :) But from now on, when you are grocery shopping in February in southeastern PA, you at least know how to spot the good ones.

(*People may classify fastnachts as a type of doughnut, given that they are deep fried starchy lumps, and that is a fair classification scheme. But given that doughtnut is both a thing and a class of things, and given examples including but not limited to caviar being seafood and champagne being wine even though we nearly always refer to those things by the names caviar and champange rather than seafood and wine, I think it's fair to force a distinction for comprehension. Face it-- most of the people who call a fastnacht a doughnut do not think of a fastnacht instantly upon hearing the word doughnut, and many probably don't think of fastnachts at all.)

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14 February 2007

This Afternoon's News

What the Provost said in his 1:30 e-mail

______ University will close at 4 p.m. today due to inclement weather. All evening classes are canceled. The university plans to resume its normal operating schedule tomorrow morning.

Best regards,

What the Provost meant in his 1:30 e-mail

______ University will close at 4 p.m. today due to our incompetence at understanding inclement weather. The end is in sight! Even though the weather was horrible this morning and we did nothing to help anyone, the weather should be okay and the roads should be clear by 4 p.m. All evening classes are therefore canceled. This makes sense to us. As a thank you gift for your patience with our retardedness, the university plans to resume its normal operating schedule tomorrow morning.

Your uppity dumb*** slavedriver always,

For a large enough sum of money I really will e-mail that to the Provost. Bid early, bid often!


Global Warming Is Not Locally Constant

Who would have guessed?

Of course, I know people who will read this article and say "See, we don't really know the effects of global warming" or, even worse "Look at all the controversy on the subject!" Context, people. Context.

"Future warming may lead to rapid pulses of retreat and increased discharge rather than a long, steady drawdown."

The scientist has no doubt that the glacier will melt; the doubt is in the steadiness of the rate. Anyone who has taught something involving calculus to college students will recognize that this is a concept few people can really grasp without being told a few times in a few different ways.

I don't even know if the person who wrote the article has a clue about that. More responsible journalists would have taken time to point out that not a single scientist on the planet ever had any reason to think that the melting of any individual glacier would be constant. Heck, I looked at all the normal time lapse shots and could see that.

My cynical side says that this obvious result was published because science publishing is a total racket. My less cynical side says that there was something worthwhile and non-intuitive in there but that the journalists are too dumb to find it. My inner realist says only the former is right.

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13 February 2007

Notes Everywhere

I'm still working on the bloody paper. I spent about five hours adding a couple dozen new references to our lovely master .bib file, compliments of a book my adviser currently has in copy editing. I need to make real graphs, too, because I always make half-butted ones for show-off purposes, but when push comes to shove with graphcs, Excel fails to make publication grade.

At least two sciencey readers didn't pick up on this link about how to write good science papers. This article ranks with my simple explanations of the logic of science as something that every scientist should know.

Choir practice tonight was interesting. We (meaning the basses) had trouble at the same place as last week, again. Last week I wrote "cat" at that part of my score for some reason that I can't remember, and honestly that wasn't enough to help. Stravinsky sucks. He's a genius, but he really sucks. The Faure Requiem continues to unfold. It is a gentle piece, and one of my favorites for it. Singing tenor notes pianissimo is doing a service to my breathing control. The director also passed out new music for us, because he decided to add one of his a pieces to the program (which was barely going to break an hour).

I don't want to give it away, except to say two things. First, the piece is in a very modern style. In sections, we were ordered to sing the notes on pitch and pronounce the vowels just so, but to sing as far out of rhythm with our neighbors as possible. We were told some big fancy word for what this is called by composers who refuse to simply call it a mess (Alysia?), which is reasonable because it can be quite pretty. There is also a canon or two, and some nearly tonal things at the beginning and end. Did I mention that there are handbells, a harp, tuned glasses of water, and some strings and other miscellany in there doing the same sorts of things? Seriously, this is the weirdest stuff I've heard since R. Murray Schafer's Snowforms (but, thankfully, the score is easier to read). Second, we're probably hauling in a high school choir or two to take up other parts-- nothing is better than arhythmic choral cacophanies except for two or three simultaneous arhytmic choral cacophanies, right? So buy your sinking tickets before mommies and daddies make the concerts be all sold out. It will be a very exciting concert.

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12 February 2007

Grossness Alert

So, don't read on if you'll complain, okay?

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a good dump. Of course, the satisfaction can be hampered by a few things.

Sometime around 2AM my large intestine decided that it needed to sell off its inventory, so to speak. By 4AM, which is when I was planning to go to bed, that was over. Who knows what it was. Most people immediately blame the last thing they ate, but that's not fair. Incubation periods for GI sicknesses, especially in the intestines, are long enough that you often can't really figure out the source. Dinner, by the way, was a wonderful roasted chicken with stuffing and potatoes and carrots and corn, compliments of Steve and Crystal. And, fear not, friends, I did not get sick from your tasty food, or even waste its calories-- the corn only began to appear tonight. Anyway, church this morning was a bit of a drag, with that whole achy chafing thing that goes on in the large intestine as it reloads and the gas gets pushed around. I survived.

I do still have an achy bit going on occasioanlly in the lower right, though. If I disappear, send cards of encouragement to my wife. I'm not fun for a few days after general anesthesia. It could just be the little bit of a hernia I have near there, though, or a tiny bit of scar tissue in the region from my other hernia that was accessed from there.

This evening came round two-- a normal defecation event except for the appearence of the corn, and something else that appeared. As I sat on the toilet, happy to have released everything but unhappy about the oder (onions with lunch), a little mouse decided to traverse the bathroom. Of course, it saw me and freaked. Upon freaking, it immediately bolted for the first cover it could find-- the rumpled pants around my feet on the floor. I shook it out (Gimpy and Brother don't like undomesticated visitors, and they have a pact with my torso about preventing me from needing rabies vaccinations), but it was completley dazed. It bolted hither and yon, attempting to hide in such useful places as the ledge under the vanity and the glass top of the bathroom scale. My only thought was "Don't get up, Nate, you didn't wipe yet."

Finding no good place to Wait, it ended up going back to where it came from (the mouse, not the you know what), which is Useful, because I now completely know The Route from the living room out. How it got across the bathroom was the only section I had not known. Mice aren't worth killing, unless they are in large quantity. Before that point, they are worth outsmarting to prevent their increase.

Time to buy some expanding foam in a can-- he-he-he-he!

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11 February 2007


This is a picture of my old dorm.

I am heartbroken. I might not donate any more money to that school again, ever. A stupid parking lot? Why didn't they take down some useless piece of crap like Jenks instead? Or that dump Pierce? Or the grammar school? For that matter, why not just come straight at my heart with an icepick and ball-peen hammer?


I mean, I knew it was gone, and I have proof sitting on the living room bookshelf, but seeing it still makes me sad.

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09 February 2007

No Excuses

I've been kind of down lately, so I haven't had much to think about. When I'm feeling blue, the sum total of a lot of my thoughts goes to ranting aloud about everything in the world. My wife had the chance to hear my running commentary on two days of the New York Times tonight, but she opted to talk on the phone instead. Lucky her. Tuesday's NYT had the weekly science section, and today's had whatever is normally in Thursday's paper.

It was one of those days that I just felt like finding a smaller kid and beating him up for his lunch money.

Yesterday I realized that I did something very stupid in my simulations last fall. The data is (take that!) okay, but when I report how I got it I will be painting a big sign on my intellectual chest that says "Look at my incompetence." My computational efficiency ego has been shattered; all my carefully optimized programs to date have not saved a tenth of the CPU time I wasted last fall.

Last fall? Yes, that long ago. Why can't I get my butt around to acutally writing the paper about those things I did last fall? Because I can spend a happy hour working on said paper, and let me tell you I hate writing science papers* so spending that happy hour means that mental momentum is in place, only to leave all my updated files at school rather than bringing them home, crushing over two thirds of my waking day into a pile of nothing productive. I could have probably gone back to get them, but I was hungry for hours, and slightly dazed by that, and it took my about seven hours to make food and feel better. Grrrr.

Having nothing good to say, I will go now and listen to some music.

[* Good science papers require finding the perfect balance between being brief, on the short side, and explaining nothing, on the long side. I have no appreciation for this form of communication because I don't learn a confounded thing from reading science papers. Part of that is that I'm not a visual learner. The other part is that they are written so poorly and full of so much fluff under the guise of "explaining" that I hate the authors and the system that encourages them.]

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05 February 2007

The Great Conspiracy

Fair and balanced? Sure, I always say. This is the letter A, right? Why don't we give half of the class on the letter A to studying why this A really is not A, so that we can decide for ourselves what is and isn't an A? After all, we need to build up our minds and learn to make informed choices.

Peter posted a nice bit about this in his blog here. I have only one addition to make to it.

The very sad thing I have found is that people who want to talk about "fair and balanced" when one of the options is just wrong are usually the kind who are anti-philosophy and don't want to discuss the meaning of "true" or "false." We're just supposed to know what is true and what is not.

Sometimes it is obvious, but other times it is only by looking at "all" of the options that we will know which option is correct. Of course, we look at "all" of the options only when our preferred option isn't the one everyone else thinks is correct, not like this gives away that we have already decided and don't want people to choose any option but ours. "All," by the way, means "ours and the majority one that sits in its place," not really all. And remember that comparing involves nothing but criticizing what we don't preapprove, because of course anything open to criticism is solidly disproven no matter what arguments might exist against the criticism.

In contrast (but not really a contrast, because we're being fair and balanced), our pre-approved point, no matter how much criticized, is correct until you answer every criticism of the other options in light of first assuming that our preapproved option is true and the others are false. If you can't do that last thing becuase of some sort of tautology, remember that there is still a chance that what we think is true. While mere chances aren't good enough to support anyone else's conclusions they are plenty enough for us to declare our own option correct and the alternative wrong.

Well, isn't that convenient?

What is really sick, though, is that when one side does this, the other side usually plays along instead of calling it.

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04 February 2007


I have moved the blog to the "New Blogger [sic]" because I was forced.

For a while, I've been weaseling my way past the page that nearly demanded me to change every time I logged in. Today, all of my escapes failed, loading the cached page failed, loading a URL that I had saved before and sucessfully used before had failed, and so there was no way out and I switched. Stupid piece of crap. I of course have started tagging my posts, starting with going back to a few recent ones. I probably won't do all of them, although a few oldies of note might get a mark. I've been at this thing for almost two years now, if you can believe it.

If people who subscribe to one of the site feeds can confirm that the site feeds they use are working, let me know (a comment is fine, or an e-mail if you don't want to look like a total geek).

On the theme of moving, this week I talked on the phone for a few minutes with a potential employer down south. Honestly, I like the research there, it would be a good challenge because I would be taking something to their group that they do not and have never had before (which means lots of miscommunicating, something in life that I love sorting out), and the guy is supposed to be absolutely super as a boss. But last time I moved south for career purposes I hated it for every other reason.

It sucks that my only realistic employment option right now is in a place that I would totally hate. My environment needs to be coddled to match my needs or I am useless. Demand a wake up time that bothers my sleep disorder, demand a place that is too warm, or demand that I spend my time in a culture I can't stand either at home or at work or at church, and I quickly break down and accomplish a lot less in all areas of life than I can accomplish otherwise. I don't know who is more opposed to actually going to this particular place, me because I would hate it or my wife because I would hate it.

Lucky for me, this guy probably (cross fingers) needs to hire someone sooner than I will be available. Either that or (fingers crossed) someone where I actually want to go can turn up some money and hire me.


In other bothering news, I made a very nice internet quiz for all of you to take and fail. It was all about me. I don't think my wife or family could have scored over 50% on it, so obscure were some of the questions. Most of you, for example, have no clue about all of what music I really like, the story of the first time I skipped quantum mechanics at Georgia Tech, which strange computer languages I've never tried, why my face has been broadcast internationally on television and who was next to me, how many schools I've attended, the closet I ever came to death in Chicago, or how many girls asked me out before college. Sadly, there is in the end no quiz for you. My OS ate it when svchost.exe tripped up over my COM ports again, or whatever is making the internet connection go funk multiple times per day (and that not a single person on this great Earth has ever heard happen to anyone else).

I want a Mac.

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01 February 2007

Global Warming Peeves, and a New CD

I'm darned peeved, becuase my pastor made a nardy little joke about global warming and it has me ticked off. He said something along the lines of thus-- Look at is this way, if there is global warming then that just means that the rapture is coming soon.

Let's ignore my annoyance with an insistence on pretribulational premillennial eschatology (if you need to ask what that means, just don't). Let's even try to ignore my annoyance about global warming naysayers who can't back up their nay and would thus do well to withhold their say. Where the frick does the Bible in all the late prophecies say that the earth heating up is a sign that Jesus is returning?

Maybe the whole "sloa scriptura" and "the message of the gospel is simple" thing has convinced him and the rest of his ilk (he has never told me that he thinks global warming is a secular media farce, but he's told other people) that everything is so simple. Like the gospel itself even is simple. The part of the gospel that is simple is identical to the part of global warming that is simple-- the part that leads from realization to action.

I am also especially amused because, even though a lot of the anti-global warming crap I get from conservative Christian leaders is part and parcel of their anti-secular sentiment, most of the non-theists I know argue for the non-existence of God via tha same invalid argument I mentioned the global warming naysayers I know use to argue for non-human causes for global warming. ("It's is either X or Y, we have no compelling evidence for X, therefore Y is correct.") More proof that it's not Christians who are stupid, it's well neigh everyone.

On a brighter note, I got a CD today for basically free. We had free money to spend at Borders, and so I tracked down a work that I've wanted for a long, long time. Over ten years, in fact. I first heard it in the soundtrack of Immortal Beloved. This one is Vladamir Ashkenazy playing the piano and conducting the Cleveland Symphony in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 Op. 73 and Fatasia Op. 80.

I'll admit that the choral fantasy is clearly Beethoven. It not only gives little bits that remind me of the later Piano Concerto No. 5 in the piano part, it also has elements of the finale from the Symphony No. 9. It's a deep connection, too-- deeper than I have ever realzed before, probably becuase I haven't heard it for a long time. The musical themes are similar, the way they are used is similar, the way that the soloists and chorus interact is similar, the way that the choral part develops and resolves is similar... what the words are about. Geesh. I felt like I was listening to some twisted remix of the Ninth.

The piano Concerto No. 5 is a gem, and this recording is pretty good. The bass gets muddy when I turn it up loud enough. My headphones (mid grade Sennheiser earbuds) might be going bad, though. There are one or two moments when I heard music being flipped around, very clear but nothing terrible. (Aside: If you ever want proof that three ring binders are the stupidest way to hold sheet music for a performance, you should have heard our Missa Solemnis concerts. A 120 page softcover book punched and in a binder without having it spine cut off is an auditory disaster at every turn.)

I love the way that this concerto weaves the simple and the complex in grandiose ways. Okay, so a lot of concertos do that. But This one does it in Beethoven fashion. This was, after all, when Luddy was getting out of his "screw the sonata form" stage and into his "screw the sonata form even more" stage. I also like the way that the piano takes off like a rocket at the beginning of the final movement, although on this recording I think it moves a bit too fast starting with the end of the second movement. Given the track timing, it might already be a bit slower than many recordings, but I think it deserves a little slowdown. I need to look over the score sometime to answer a few of my questions. Something in the rhythm of the fast bits sounds occasionally different form what I remember, which could be either my bad memory or Ashkenazy playing tenuto (imagined or otherwise) games.

By the way, my choir's signature piece for the Christmas recessional has been published in full score, choral score, and parts. In fact, it's so newly published that I found it in the ECS catalog but not via Google. In fact, it's so so new that if I were to put the composer's name and the title on my blog, I would end up being, even if only temporarily, on the first of one and a half pages of Google search resutls, possibly right under his website. So if you want to go buy a copy, I'll get you the item number, and then you can purchase one for yourself and feel good about life (and feel good about making my life better at rehearslas because his music is selling).

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