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Theoretical Chemistry

Christine Isborn is a theoretical chemist that I recently worked with to create a web site. I think it came out pretty well. Go check it out!

Full disclosure: Christine is my girlfriend!

Auto-Updating GNU Screen Window Names

It took a bunch of searching a testing, but I got something that works for me and I like well. Instead of every screen window being called “bash” or being named manually, I now have them all named after the working directory. This is the magic:

PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033k$(basename $PWD)\033\\"'

PROMPT_COMMAND gets run every time bash displays a prompt, and those particular escape characters do the magic.

To avoid crap outside of screen, I did this:

case ${TERM} in
screen)
export PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033k$(basename $PWD)\033\\"'
;;
esac

Which is more general than it needs to be, but maybe I’ll expand it in the future.

Emissions

My car just failed an emissions check. I have an offer on the table to sell it for $2000 and walk away.

When I bought it two years ago, the purchase price and other miscellaneous items came to $3300 and I have spent about $2000 in repair and maintenance (including nice new tires) over that time. I have also spent $3600 on gas in that same period.

The monthly operating expenses are $150/month for gas and $80/month for maintenance, so about $240/month give or take. If I sell it, the capital outlay would have been $1300, or about $650/year or 50/month, which is equivalent to a nice low car payment.

If I don’t sell it and can keep it passing emissions tests, I’m sure I could drive the car for another 8 years at which point it will be worth nothing, so capex becomes $330/year or $25/month, basically negligible. I’d expect the repair bills to average lower if I’m not replacing tires all the time, but to remain about the same if emissions continue to give me trouble and are repairable.

Decision time: sell the car now or try to get it to pass the smog? I’m pretty happy with the car otherwise, and I have one free retest I can do before I have to make a final decision.

My goals in rough order of priority are:
1/ maximize convenience
2/ minimize cost
3/ screw the system

I’m thinking about buying some of this stuff and driving around a bunch tonight and going for the re-test tomorrow. If I still fail, I sell the thing to the dude tomorrow. If I pass, I have another two years before I have to make the decision again.

Better ideas?

Good Fortune and the Avengers

I was planning on watching The Avengers, which according to the internet is the best movie of 2012, Wednesday afternoon with Christine and Ed. However, when I looked up the runtime of the movie, I realized I could not both watch the movie and make my 7:50 flight to Seattle. So I skipped the movie and made it to Seattle.

that night, after arriving in Seattle, I received an invite to go watch The Avengers with Facebook Seattle. It turns out they hadhad this movie night planned for a while, and I happened to show up just in time. Pretty convenient!

So, I had the chance to watch the Avengers with some coworkers and meet some more FB Seattlites. Unlike the rest of the internet, I did not think the movie was all that good — I’d rate it equivalent to the Transformers series — but the action was ongoing and the one-liners were fun.

After the movie, I hung out with Bobby and a few other Seattle FBers at the downtown Taphouse Grill. It was a great time. Thanks to all involved!

Prediction: Obama will destroy Mitt Romney in November

As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney’s main campaign tactic this fall will revolve around Obama’s “mismanagement” of the economy. Of course, by this fall, it will be clear the the economy is once again recovering, so Romney’s rhetoric will fall flat and he won’t ever really challenge Obama for a majority of votes, popular or electoral. Furthermore, Obama is so neocon in non-economic areas — foreign policy, domestic security policy, civil liberties, etc — that no republican candidate not named Ron Paul can challenge him effectively there.

The upshot of this is that even though I don’t think Ron Paul would win against Obama either, he is actually the one candidate that has a legitimate chance because he will split liberals who actually care about things like liberty and freedom from oppression by their very own police state.

So, republicans have a choice this primary season: concede early by choosing current front-runner Mitt Romney, or make things interesting by choosing the one candidate who can take Obama to task on things that both matter and people care about: Ron Paul.

Republicans are the party of stupid, so I don’t expect them to figure this out in sufficient numbers to effect change. So, Mitt Romney Will lose badly in November. That will leave us with another term for Obama, who will begin to show true big-government colors as he searches for a legacy in his second term. So basically, not a lot of fun for people who care about individual or economic liberty for a few years.

Nevertheless, the United States will remain on balance the most free country in the world. It’s a race to the bottom and we’re losing!

Dreaming

I had a dream this morning as I was waking up.

Far off in a future northern Alaska, I was visiting a city that was incredibly unique. The founders of this city had built a three-kilometer tall weather control tower that kept the weather at the city center perpetually nice. The further away from the city center, the more the weather turned back into a wintery wasteland, with huge snowdrifts and constant storms.

The tower was in a state of disrepair, but not many people seemed to notice or care. The thing was enormous, stretching up into the heavens from below, maybe an acre in area.

I took part in a number of adventures while visiting this city — most of them are pretty foggy now though. One involved snowmobile rides out in the badlands, another was infiltrating the tower. I don’t remember making it to the top.

Truths, Discoveries, and Wonders

All of mans’ endeavors are fundamentally scientific. We should approach frontiers not with a sense of trepidation, but with a desire to explore, experiment, and understand. In this way, truths will be revealed to us, discoveries will bear our names, and wonders will blossom into our lives.