Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Opening the Mic

Last night, after merely observing for the past couple of weeks, I played two songs at the Rex Theater's Open Mic Night in the South Side. They were:
  • "La Cienega Just Smiled," by Ryan Adams
  • "Yours and Mine," by Fountains of Wayne
The first song went okay, and got better towards the end, but since this was the first time I had done anything in front of an audience in a while, my voice was a little shaky. I always liked "Yours and Mine," but it's only one minute long. This is one of the things I actually like about the song, but a few people thought that I had bailed out early just because it was so short!

Anyway, I probably will do it again in the future, but not for a few weeks. I need to learn some more songs you see.

CMU Shows its True Colors
Today I was looking for a book on weight lifting at the CMU library. No dice. The selection is extremely poor in this area. In fact, for the entire subject of "exercize"  "exercise" in the CAMEO catalogue system, there are 7 entries. On the other hand, in the "ML COMPUTER PROGRAM LANGUAGE" category there are 137 entries! Somehow this seems appropriate.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sporting News

Wow, it was a brutal weekend for teams that I follow, with:
  • The Saints being beaten at home by the Ravens,
  • USC being upset by Oregon State University (It even looked like they were going to pull out the victory at the end, due to some last quarter heroics, before they failed to convert a game-tying 2 point conversion),
  • and the Steelers being upset by the terrible terrible Oakland Raiders.
I have to look on the bright side though. Due to the fact that I've been preparing a presentation this weekend, I didn't actually see any of the games. Therefore my heart is in relatively stable condition.

Halloween 2006

Halloween 2006 005
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
In case you missed it, this Halloween I went as Richie Tenenbaum from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums.

We are seriously serious in this picture.

Mid-Halloween Weekend

Went to the ballet tonight (Swan Lake).

Getting ready to go to a party now, 15 minutes after midnight.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Slowly, I have become more and more obsessed with baseball, so I apologize in advance if you care not:

Here is my take on Dirtgate, the incident in which some kind of nasty substance (dirt? rosin? pine tar?) was spotted by Fox's cameras on the hand of Tiger's pitcher Kenny Rogers. From a pragmatic point of view, there is no issue. The Cardinals never requested (as far as we can tell) the umpires to examine Rogers' hands, and since Kenny washed off whatever it was, there is nothing that could be done after that point.

However, what I do not agree with is those (like tonight's pregame commentator on Fox) who claim that using foreign substance like pine tar is just a minor issue; a technical bending of the rules, but something to be expected and dealt with lightly. There is a reason that the spitball was banned from baseball. Any discoloration of the ball can be extremely dangerous for the batter. So much so, that in 1920, a batter for the Cleveland Indians was killed by a discolored ball. Killed. As in dead.

Admittedly, during that time, the balls were used for much longer over the course of the game and therefore got much dirtier as a matter of course. Regardless, for a sport where history seems to be more important than anything, we shouldn't forget the past. If players are caught using foreign substances on the ball, they should be punished.

Okay... after all that...
How amazing was Kenny Rogers Sunday night? I hope I am that awesome when I am 41.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Halloween 017
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
In the spirit of this upcomming Halloween, I thought I'd post a picture of the last Halloween costume that I had I was actually satisfied with. In case you can't tell, I'm Beaker, the muppet.

Urban Hike Scavenger Hunt: This Sunday, October 29th!

Guys, as you may or may not know, I am helping to organize Urban Hike Pittsburgh. This Sunday is the Scavenger Hunt, and the first event that I have helped to organize. It should be a ton of fun, so come on out to Schenley Plaza (right across Forbes from the Cathedral of Learning) this Sunday! Here is the official info:

Join us for early tricks and treats in Oakland. Urban Hike is holding
its annual scavenger hunt this Sunday, October 29th at 12:30 pm (don’t
worry, da Stillers aren’t playing till 4:15). Find three or four
friends, or come on your own and we’ll put you on a team.

Be prepared to see Oakland like you’ve never seen it before. Make sure
at least one of your team members has a digital camera and a cord to
connect it to a computer. And if you have any, ahem, personal photos
on those cameras, you might want to dump them somewhere else before you

Meet us at the benches lining the Forbes Avenue side of Schenley Plaza
(across Forbes from the Cathedral of Learning). The hunting portion
will last until 3 pm; the post-hunt awards extravaganza should wrap up
around 4 pm.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This Weekend

This weekend was a lot of fun.
  • Friday night was this month's Soulcialism, definitely worth the wait and tons of fun. This was only my second time going, but I think I may have had even more fun than last time, which is hard to believe. It's time for those of you who are not going to start showing up. I expect to see you there next month, as there will be a test!
  • Saturday evening found me at Heinz field for the first time in my life. I went to see the Pitt/Rutgers game. Pitt lost (bummer, but Rutgers is actually ranked in the top 20) but Heinz field was an incredible stadium. Great views, nice and modern, easy to get in to, etc.
  • Saturday night brought some laid-back times at the Marcus abode. There were games played and drinks to be had. The highlight of the evening was probably the 5 person dance party that spontaniously occured in the dining room.
  • Today watched the Steelers fumble away what should have been a victory. We (The New Orleans Saints, that is) would have really appreciated a 3-3 Atlanta, rather than a 4-2 Atlanta.
  • Right now, watching baseball and getting ready for the week to come! Oh yeah, and I finally solidified my Halloween costume, thanks to the costume shop on Carson. I would just like to point out that wigs are really not that expensive, and if you think you need one for your costume you owe it to yourself!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

While Watching a Baseball Game...

One of the awful parts about having bunny ears as your means of TV delivery is that when you move around the reception changes, so you can get crystal clear reception when you are adjusting the antenna, but then when you get back to your seat it has all gone to crap. Pretty standard stuff.

Well tonight I noticed for the first time that the exact same phenomenon occurs when my upstairs neighbors move around their apartment. Needless to say, this can make trying to watch TV very frustrating, especially if those neighbors are doing calisthenics, or whatever it it causing all that racket... I'm turning into an old man.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Programming Languages are Great

Started to try and work the changes that Tom7 suggested (when we met last Friday) into my language. Strangely enough, they seem to fall in pretty smoothly. I was worried that this one construct that I previously could elaborate away was now going to have to become part of my Internal Language, but that was not the case!

Tom7 was really helpful, and full of good ideas. He is not a dumb man.

If this all sounds boring to you:
Last night I went to Open Mic Night at the Rex for the second week in a row. Suz and Z were there and some of the regulars whom I am beginning to be able to recognize. I felt especially good because I vaguely knew enough other people that I didn't have to follow Suz around like a lap dog all night (not that there's anything wrong with that). Thinking about playing a couple cover songs at next week's session, and since it is my new mission to learn every song on "Gold," by Ryan Adams, I think I may try and play one of his...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Get your Halloween ready...

I just found out about what will surely be an awesome show, this coming Halloween:

Grand Buffet and Magnolia Electric Company
10pm, October 31st, 2006
31st Street Pub
Pittsburgh, PA

Here's the deal y'all. Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, so that big Halloween party you're going to will probably be the weekend before. You'll be looking for something chill to do the night of, though, no doubt. Grand Buffet is Pittsburgh's best white comedy rap, that just happens to actually make awesome music. Magnolia Electric Company is totally different but totally great. I would describe them as Neil Young-esque rock and roll. Let me know if you want to be there. We can arrive in class and style, ensemble.

Hating my life right now...

Big dumb Fox has decided to show the Panthers/Ravens football game, even though the Saints/Eagles game is this week's featured game! What is going on here? The only thing worse than thinking you're going to be able to watch the Saints game at your apartment and then not being able to, is having all that happen and then having to watch Baltimore! Boo!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Jingo Fett
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Picture taken at CMU. I think it nicely sums up the all-encompassing nerdiness that is my life right now.

CMU Chili Cookoff

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Well, it took two days to cook and display our chili, but it was all worth it. Pictures can be reached at my photo spot (pictures.nelsbeckman.com) and over at Thomas' pictures spot.

My department decided to compete in the chili cookoff as a last-second entry, and we kind of turned the whole thing into a party/cook-fest the night before.

Our chili was definitely the thickest, having the consistency of red beans and rice or refried beans. Needless to say, I thought it was great, but I don't think we were winning any awards.

In fact, one guy told us, "Don't quit your day jobs." Hilarious.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We're Like Milwaukee

From the Sports Guy, AKA Bill Simmons', NFL Week 6 Picks:

STEELERS (-6.5) over Chiefs
This has all the makings of a "when Damon Huard is your starting QB, that means Damon Huard is your starting QB" game. We've been waiting for it for four weeks. Pittsburgh seems like the right place. By the way, did you see that Sienna Miller got in trouble for bashing the 'Burgh last week? How can someone not like the 'Burgh? They don't come any better than people from the 'Burgh. That's like bashing Milwaukee. Now I'm glad Jude Law cheated on her. You can't diss the 'Burgh.

Well said Mr. Simmons, well said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Picture From Last Weekend

Originally uploaded by trappedinabay.
Here it is, the only picture I could find from last weekend's Down and Derby. Rock and roll!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Last night I joined Team Nocto-Pedal (that's a couple of guys here at CMU) on a night-time bike ride around Pittsburgh. We started around CMU, went down Polish Hill and into Laurenceville, before working our way back by the Allegheny cemetary. Naturally, we finished it off with drinks and wings at the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium. Well done us! Since I'm a little new to the bike riding thing extremely new to the whole hill thing, the ride was a little bit tiring for me. However, I was promised that this was at least a little bit accidental, and that other trips won't be so hardcores. Let me know if you want to go with us the next time we do it! (Should be within the next couple of weeks.)

In other news:
I never feel quite so manly as when I am sitting on the couch, watching a baseball game and reading Vanity Fair magazine.

I found this out for the first time last night.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Sunday, October 8, 2006

A Weekend Visitor (Part II)

Saturday was a little bit more exciting.

Up in the morning and over to Pamela's for breakfast, where the service was amazingly slow. I'm normally don't evne notice these types of things, but it ended up taking like an hour or so for our order to arrive. Lame I say. On the bright side, there was this plummer outside sticking this long metal snake (must have been a rooter of some kind) down into a hole outside of the restaurant. It looked AWESOME.

Got some new shoes. There had been a embarassing (okay not really) incident the night before when I was dressed relatively well, but then had on some New Balance running shoes that didn't really work. So I needed to get some adult tennis shoes, or whatever they call these things. Saw USC do their thing (although really, they were a little bit frustrating to watch, minus the nice fake field goal) and then went to dinner at Bites and Brews.

The whole day had been building up to Down and Derby, a roller skating themed party that took place in Lawrenceville on Penn Ave. It was a little bit expensive to get in, but the drinks were included in the whole thing. Naturally, everyone was joking about the prospect of people skating and drinking in the same evening. I did a little bit of skating myself, and showed that I could still make it happen when I needed to. I thought it was a good crowd, and a nice mix of people, and in the end had a pretty great time. No pictures, sadly, but these are the breaks! Phil came along for all these things, and he seemed to have a pretty good time (or at least that was my hope).

In other news, two things I wanted to point out. One is the concept of "short selling" which I just recently learned about. This is a type of financial technique where someone makes money off of stocks that go down in value. The whole thing (naturally) is explained on wikipedia, but basically, you borrow stocks, sell them at a high price, and then buy the same number back after the price goes down, returning the stocks to the person from whom you borrowed them. I find this whole concept to be fascinating, and sometimes think about getting into finance...

Second. there is an interesting paper written by an economics major on why it rarely makes sense to punt in NFL football. I read about this on Tuesday Morning Quarterback, and I have become transfixed by the concept.... it's about time if you ask me.

A Weekend Visitor

Whoa now!

This weekend, my friend Phil came to visit. He was my roomate sophmore year of college, but he finished here in PA at Penn State. Having visitors is always hard because you (well, if you're me) want to show them a good time and how awesome Pittsburgh. One of the things that I have to mention is that Phil is 6'11", which is something that, if you were lucky enough to meet him this weekend, you no doubt figured out.

So the whole weekend actually started before Phil got here. I was watching the door at one of the Dec5 Friday happy hour things, which was pretty fun. I always enjoy checking out the different IDs and trying to explain people how they don't have to drink, but if they want to they need to show me some proof of age.

I had some good beers that I had never had before:
I would recommend them both! I also went to an art gallery where they were having some kind of anti-Rick Santorum event going on, known as the Partisan Project. These guys are making a bunch of amusing posters. I can't say too much about it other than I saw a couple people that I hadn't seen since the beginning of the summer.

I joined Emily at one of her friend's house for a celibration of venison. If you're a meat eater, I highly recommend smoked Venison, or at least this smoked venison. It was somehow amazingly juicy and delicious! Had some interesting discussions about Minnesota (I found out that Kirby Pucket died... sad.) and New Orleans.

Finally, when Phil got here (around 11, for a roughly 5 hour drive) we hung out at my place with George and Owen and enjoyed some Ali G. All in a good night!

Wow, how could I have dropped the ball on such a phenominal scale? Not too long after George and Owen came over Suze and Zoie paid us a visit on return from the Southern Side. We continued the good times with our friend Ali G, they brought pizza with them and made us all jealous, and then we ended up watching TV until almost 3 or so. Good times all around.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

So Early...

Man, I've been here since 8:30. What in the world am I doing?

Well if you must know, I was trying to get super awesome prepared for my meeting with my advisor. Not a bad idea at all you say. I agree. I was here until 9 last night also preparing for that same meeting. Well now I find out I missed an email telling me that we wouldn't be having a meeting this morning, and so it's pushed back until Friday. This I can handle, but now I am at school. Better find something worthwhile to do.

Anyway, the meeting itself was canceled because Jeff Foster from the University of Maryland is coming to give a talk at CMU today. It's a joint Software Engineering/Programming Languages-sponsored event, but judging by the fact that only people in my group are meeting with him, maybe it's the type of thing that only SE people are in to. (The talk itself is called "Type Checking Foreign Function Calls" or something like that.) Jeff has also done some previous work in the area of race-free type systems, which I am at least interested in.

The point of all this is, I am also meeting with Jeff today before his talk. I'm not really sure what the meeting is going to be like, since he does static analysis and I am (at least I say I am) working on extending Tom7's ML5 language to be used in failure-prone environments; almost like systems-y kind of work.

If none of this makes any sense at all, then I am sorry. Please enjoy this comic.

Monday, October 2, 2006

No comment

No comment
Originally uploaded by redundancymanman.
Oh and I like this one too!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Stepin' to the Oldies

After last night's fun-ness, decided to join Emily and co. on the South Side for the Pittsburgh Step Trek. Basically it's just an organized walking tour of the South Side Slopes, a surprisingly awesome part of town. But we had a lot of fun checking out the Open Houses that were occuring and pretending we were rich enough to afford their spectacular views of downtown. No pictures, but I should have taken some...

Highlights include a church that was being remade into swanky apartments, and eating at Pipper's Pub after the whole thing was over. Weather also was a major plus. I've got to say though, something about walking around for 4 hours in the sun really makes you tired... I feel like I could go to bed this very moment, except I've agreed to go to this organizing meeting for the Urban Hike. I think I'm going to become a helper-outer.

Shout-outs go to my new friends Mike and Amy, with whom I spent an extremely large amount of time today.

A Very Happy Beerday

Party Times!Oh man, we have quite a weekend in progress.

After a nice day of shopping on the grand promenades of Pittsburgh with Georgie boy, I did a bunch of menial tasks like cleaning and washing. Eh, esss not so bad.

Last night, however, was Tom7's birthday, a celebration of all things beer-related/infused. It seemed like things were getting off to a bad start when the Shadyside Deli was closed (that's where I was going to get my beer offering from) and then it started raining about 10 minutes into what turned out to be a 45 minute walk (my distance estimates are still a little off).

But it turned out to be a fantastic time. (See right for picture of the absolute mayhem that ensued, or something closed to it. Oh yeah, and Flickr, why I can't I "Blog This" to someone else's photos? Oh I'm a big dummy!) Something about going to a party where every single woman is spoken for that really allows you to open up and just enjoy conversating. I know that's a weird thing to say, but I really felt like I had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of different people, and we were able to nicely balance between school and non-school related convos.

I even got a ride home and enjoyed some delicious beers from a Welch's grape jelly jar. Mmm...