iPods and Zunes in School: Banned

There’s been a lot of internal talk at work about the fact that some school districts are taking note and [banning iPods and Zunes](http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/04/27/ipod.cheating.ap/index.html?eref=rss_tech) due to concerns about cheating. A co-worker of mine responded to the discussions about this with a brilliant comment:

> Funny, I remember in HS when taking tests class the teachers actually watched us taking tests. Cheating using a device (let alone plain cheating) was pretty much impossible. Not sure why this isn’t the case now.

So true. I love how policy becomes a surrogate for actual attention. (Thanks for letting me quote you, [Mike](http://meddle.spaces.live.com/)).

It’s been too long

Ok, so last time I posted was April 9. Seems I had pretty routine updates before then, but I got swamped with work and real-life. What’s been going on?

Well, our high school’s 10-year reunion is coming up, and I’m on the reunion planning committee. Weird. Anyway, I put together a website for fellow [Conroe High School Class of 1997](http://www.conroehigh1997.org/) graduates to find each other. Step one in reunion planning: find people. That took some time.

Work’s been busy, very busy. It’s a good busy though. New project is teaching me a lot, but it’s winding down, so maybe I’ll get posting more routine.

Diann & I went to the [Tulip Festival](http://www.tulipfestival.org/) a few weekends ago, and on my perpetual to-do list is to get those photos off the camera and into my [photo gallery](http://www.marius.org/gallery/). Another one of those “one of these days” tasks.

We threw a big group dinner this past Friday night. A friend of ours (Hi, [Micha](http://www.sunpathdesigns.net/)!) used to host “Friday Night Dinner” events, and we’ve decided to try and pick up the tradition once a month or so. Basically, you pick a theme (we did “favorite asian take-out”), invite a bunch of people over (we invited 30 friends, co-workers, etc.; 23 showed up), and everyone brings an entree that fits with the theme. Good times, lots of Guitar Hero II was played, and Diann & I have been eating chinese/thai left overs all weekend.

Speaking of eating… We’ve also been going to the gym lately. I think 2007 is the year that we get organized and in shape. Since April 7, we’ve been to the gym 16 times (woah!). Now we just have to keep it up. Now the part about correlating the gym and eating (you thought I’d forget that, huh?): I think just going to the gym by itself makes you eat a better diet. I’m no fan of diets, and wouldn’t try to subject myself to one unless absolutely necessary; however, knowing that it takes a good 15-20 minutes on a treadmill to burn off the caloric equivalent of a can of soda makes one re-think what they’re going to stuff into their body. I’m just sayin’.

Today, we hit up the [Bodies … The Exhibition](http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/), err, exhibit? (Why must they put exhibition in the title?) It was pretty amazing, and brought back lots of memories from high school Anatomy/Physiology class.

Anyhow, that’s what’s been going on here for the past few weeks. I’ll try to keep this more updated than I have been (though I’ve said that before).

Oh, and congrats to Dr. Stephen Hawking on feeling zero-g. That’s awesome news.

In the presence of greatness

About a year ago, [Stephen Hawking](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_hawking) was supposed to come to Seattle, and I got tickets. I was excited; not many times do you have a chance to be in the presence of such awesome knowledge.

Unfortunately, he fell ill and wasn’t able to make the lecture. I fought TicketMaster to get my ticket refunded, which they eventually did.

Tonight, Hawking came back to Seattle, and I snatched up my ticket about three months ago. Dan & I showed up at McCaw Hall at about 7:15pm for the 7:30pm lecture. The setup was amazing; the host introduced Dr. Hawking, and talked a little bit about his communications methods (via a “blink switch”):

> The computer system attached to his wheelchair is operated by Hawking via an infra-red ‘blink switch’ clipped onto his glasses. By scrunching his right cheek up, he is able to talk, compose speeches, research papers, browse the World Wide Web, and write e-mails. The system also uses radio transmission to provide control over doors in his home and office.

Now, this posed an interesting problem. Apparently, camera flashes in the crowd were interfering with the blink switch! Dr. Hawking’s assistant asked the crowd to not use camera flashes, and I’ve never seen a place get so dark, so quick. It was amazing — most crowds would still have one pop up here and there, but not this crowd.

Overall, the talk was great — I didn’t understand quite a bit of it, but what I was most amazed by is Dr. Hawking’s sense of humor. This is a guy who has been through a lot, and he’s still cracking jokes every few minutes. He introduced an equation for entropy in black holes, commented that it’s a simple equation (it was) with all three fundamental physics constants (c, G, and h-bar). His next comment: “I want that on my tombstone.” He also commented that when he introduced concepts of time having a beginning and an end (alluding to the Big Bang), he said that “the church seems to have taken note of that.” He referenced the “old-school general relativity theorists” and said that they “just plug numbers into equations and hope it works.” When talking about solving the [black hole paradox](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_paradox), he said it’s an amazing feeling to realize that you’ve come up with an equation that no one else knows, and no one else has ever known. He said he can’t compare it to sex, but “that the feeling does last longer.” Classic!

He was amazing to listen to, and “spoke” for two solid hours. Go see him if you get a chance!

Baseball Season: Opening Day

While I was out grabbing lunch yesterday, I realized that it’s MLB opening day — tons of people around wearing their Seattle Mariners shirts. We were eating at [Gandolfo’s Deli](http://www.gandolfosdeli.com/), a New York style deli, and they’re very proud of New York. They hadn’t realized it was opening day — the special of the day was the Three Borough Bridge. A guy walked in with a Mariners shirt, and the cashier pointed it out and commented that it was opening day. The guy behind the counter immediately yanked down the daily special sign, scribbled it out, and put up the new daily special: the New York Yankee sandwich.