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Exertion

In CSE 370 (Intro to Digital Design), two assignments stand out as particularly difficult: Homework #4, which took many hours, and the last two labs (which was really just one lab spread out over two weeks) which I spent hours upon hours completing. CSE 341 has now equaled the mental exertion of that last lab in just its third assignment, in the fifth week of classes. Yikes, and woohoo: I am done.

Preparing For The Championship

The 2006 FIRST Robotics Competition Chamipnship is this week. I leave tomorrow, Wednesday the 26th of April, at 1:30pm for Atlanta, Georgia, where the competition is being held. This means I am missing almost three entire days of class (I’ll make my one Wednesday Morning class). Unfortunately, this is pretty much the worst time ever for me to be gone, as I am also gone during two scheduled midterms, a three-hour lab, two three homework deadlines, the Engineering Open house, and a Men’s frisbee game. So I have been hard at work getting everything that I can done before I leave. One midterm I’m taking early, sandwhiched between my Wednesday morning class and my drive down to the airport (thanks, Mom!). The other midterm I’m taking as soon as I get back, which is the same day as a third midterm, which I am missing the review session for. The homeworks I’ll be turning in tomorrow — although I have yet to finish two of them! Fortunately, Microvision remains very flexible with me and I have tomorrow off (usually an 8-10 hour day) so I can get all of my stuff done for this trip. Speaking of tomorrow, since I’ll be missing my bioengineering lab on Thursday, I’m helping set of for this week’s lab tomorrow mornign. Oh, I’ll also be writing the report for last week’s lab sometime tomorrow or wednesday, and I’ll probablly submit it electronically from Atlanta.

Fun times.

Movie Update

Its been a while since I last posted about movies. I haven’t been on a particular tear, but I have seen a few and I thought I would quickly review them on my famous 1-5 scale. My memory isn’t the best, so I may have seen more movies than this implies, but this is what I recall at the moment: [See Addendum]

V for Vendetta – Subversive Action – 4.5
Transporter 2 – Non-Stop Action – 3
Inside Man – “Smart” Thriller – 3
Ice Age 2 – “Kids” Comedy – 1
The Rock – Unlikely-Heros Action – 4

I had not planned on seeing Ice Age 2 until an invitation to see the movie last night with Maria came soon after a recommendation of the movie by an acquaintance. Needless to say, I will never trust that person’s movie recommendations again. The movie was terrible, in almost every way. I have no respect for movies, especially children’s mvoies, that employ swearing for comedic effect. It is a poor crutch for a weak comedic mind, and I don’t find it funny or even mildly amusing. Its just crass and unwarranted. Furthermore, Ice Age 2 adds to this ignoble start with, well, nothing pretty much. A song, a few predictable twists later, and the movie was thankfully over.

Inside man was, thankfully, quite a bit better. I watched it with Scott Torborg a week ago. It was an enjoyable bank robbery film that did a fair amount to keep me guessing, but in the end, its reliance on a wearily overused theme stopped it from being any better than sort of “blah good.” Don’t we all know that the Nazis were really really bad? Do we really need another movie villianizing some relation with the Nazis yet again? What about modern day evils? Anyway, while this movie had a lot of interesting ideas, its main theme was too easily lost on me. Good, sorta, but not great, at all.

The night before, I watched Transporter 2 with Jon, Maria, and Maura at my parent’s place on their wonderful large TV. It was a fun action movie, but it had too many physics-defying moments for me to call it anything above “pretty ok” (note that this is the same rating as “blah good”). Particularly disheartening were the gun that could blow up helicopters but failed to shoot through wood doors and the plane crashing into the water so gently that simply jumping away from the water was enough to counteract the decelleration of the collision. On the other hand, the movie made the very intelligent move of completely avoiding the details of how the world was saved after the final fight scene, and the transporter resisted a sexual overature by a rich and hot drunk woman, not because of who she was, but because of who he was. Impressive, in my book.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I watched V for Vendetta with Dan. I thouroughly enjoyed this movie, and not just for the fact that lots of government buildings blew up (always a good thing). I could not agree more with what I see as the central premise of the movie, summed up in the line, “people should not be afraid of their government; the government should be afraid of its people.” This delightlyfully subversive theme carried the movie along quite nicely, and even helped it overcome its primary shortcoming of trying too hard to make the audience see the parallels between modern times and the movies times, which really were not as strong as the directors (Warchowski brothers) seemed to want the parallels to be. Despite this small stumble, the movie was quite enjoyable throughout. Good dialogue, nice action, intelligent plot, all in an enjoyable package — can’t ask for much more out of a movie.

Addendum:

I just remembers two things — one, I saw The Rock with my housemate Hadrien a couple of weeks ago. While there was nothing particularly spetacular about it, it was a very solid movie. What I liked the most about it was the fact that the main “villain” for most of the movie was a likeable character, and even a hero in his own way. This made me think again about V for Vendetta — and I realized that its biggest flaw was how one-dimmensional its villains were. There were no attempts to relate to them outside of their “evilness.” While V for Vendetta did blur the line with V’s “Terrorist” antics, I think the movie would have been stronger overall if there had been some way to relate more with the villains — the people V was knocking off — as more than straightforward goons. Looking back, I think this was the primary factor that prevented me from giving it the covetted 5 (that no major release has ever recieved).

Smiley

Well that last post was kinda depressing. I’m doing better now. :-)

I am the architect of my own unhappiness

distant waves come crashing forth
a wary cry from the midnight sun
reaping winds of oft-sowed filth
unpleasant daze in soft remorse

walking weary wandering will
distressed unconscious moral blow
gravity deep consuming dark
arcane unknown despondent hulk

Scores

Mariners 6, Angels 4
Mariners 0, Athletics 3
SML/NJ 1, Ryan 0

Two games attended and one CSE assignment not yet done

Published

The Daily, the University of Washington’s student newspaper, published a letter to the editor that I wrote — somewhat to my surprise.

The most interesting thing, perhaps, is that the title “Discrimination a sad fact of life” — is not mine (it was added by the editor). Also interesting is that I toned down the rhetoric quite a bit (ie, “as worthy as his cause may be”) to have a chance of being published — which is exactly the issue I was talking about.

The letter, published as far as I can tell in its entirety:

Discrimination a sad fact of life

“UW obligated to allow military recruitment on campus despite discriminatory policies against gays.” For me, this begs the question, is the UW also obligated to allow liberal professors on campus despite discriminatory policies against conservatives? This might explain why I, like many gays, always shy away from telling people what I really am and who I really voted for.

Although my experience here at the UW is limited (I am a transfer student), I have encountered through my years in the educational establishment several occasions where my grade was lowered for reasons that can only amount to political disagreements with professors.

I also know that my experience is not isolated, as many of my friends have reported similar abuses here at the UW and at other universities. I see this as a civil liberties issue. I feel that I am not free to express myself in this “you can hold any opinion as long as it agrees with mine” environment upheld by much of the faculty and student body.

When all discrimination — even “politically correct” discrimination like I face — is taken as seriously as the military’s discrimination against gays, maybe then we can have work on real solutions to the issue.

Until then, I can’t help but think of crusaders like Bryce McKibben — as worthy as their cause may be — as nothing more than political hacks, unable to see the forest through the trees.

— Ryan McElroy, Senior, bioengineering and computer enginering

Props to Hannah for letting me know it happened.