I have been struggling for over a week to write an essay on Wallace Stevens’s “Anecdote of the Jar” that didn’t just recap what was said in class. And by golly, I just got it. I started reminiscing on the coolness of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”, and its thematic relationship to Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”, and then realized suddenly that “Anecdote” is the same damned thing…

Now, if I can just finish half of this and my whole Chemistry lab report before I wind down from the Thorn…

Unresolved – Maple 8 install

Attempting to install Maple 8 has left me frustrated beyond belief. The GUI installation proceeds smoothly, accepts the Rose-Hulman FLEXlm server, and says it completes successfully. However, there are no files place in the installation directory other than those in the “bin” directory (shell scripts that point to the actual binaries). No binaries are installed, however. The FLEMlm manager isn’t installed, either. None of the bin.IBM_INTEL_LINUX (?) or flexlm or jre directories are even created. So I have no working Maple.

Going through the installation manually has led me to believe that either the installer requires positive feedback from the FLEMlm server before compiles/creating the binaries, or the installer binaries (the .bin files in the InstallerData directory) have trouble with my Java installation. Unfortunately, I cannot get meaningful error messages, even with debugging turned on. The version of Maple 8 provided by my school does not include its own Java Virtual Machine, and I believe it may be choking on that. I may try to create the jre directory within the Maple 8 installation directory structure, to see if that helps.

Siddown, shuddup, and do your damn homework. Or, Lissa, avoiding her chemistry reading.

Which I need to work on, since I misspelled “VSEPR” in my last post. Can Chronicle Lite get a spell checker, please? Of course, that’s just me being a lazy bum, because I could surely type this shit in another editor (Emacs, my love, my baby) and paste it into CL for posting.

Tomorrow, Mae, my biology genius friend, is throwing a Ghirardelli hot chocolate party for some of us girls. Mine gets made with soy milk, of course. She’s also going to help me run an experiment in which we shall test if I have a food allergy to either casein or whey (or both, I suppose), due to my suspicion that I’m not just lactose intolerant. The whey shall be easy to test (I have a huge jar of whey protein sitting on top of my armoire), but the casein test (which will require concentrated amounts of casein, obviously) will require, of all things, Pringles. Apparently the pizza-flavored Pringles (or one of those exotic types) contains among its listed ingredients “concentrated casein”. Mae’s face as she explained that she almost ate one (her reactions are bad) was hilarious.

Which reminds me of my weird response to the term “genius”. My friend Merriam-Webster (which I am currently sitting on, by the way) informs me that a genius is, and I quote:

genius: n. pl geniuses or genii
[Insert lots of things about spirits and strong characters]
5. a: a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude b: extraordinary intellectual power esp. as manifested in creative activity c: a person endowed with transcendent mental superiority; esp: a person with a very high intelligence quotient

So am I completely insane for thinking that you have to do something in order to be a genius? I don’t mean save the world from cancer or lead the most cunning tactical assault ever launched, but does a high intelligence quotient or “extraordinary intellectual power” mean genius if it’s not being applied in some manner? Obviously, taking the IQ test itself is an application of intelligence (or else it wouldn’t really be an indicator, now, would it?), although I maintain the SAT is not (as was the CollegeBoard, last I heard), whatever the writers of the B*ll C*rve wish to tell me. (Should you be able to study for a test heavily loaded with g? Better yet, should you be able to cram, as I did, for an intelligence test, and do markedly better?) But rather than go into my own thoughts on those authors’ debate with Stephen Jay Gould or just how much g is in the SAT test or ask, when those authors disregard a uniform bias in the tests because of the reaction time and digit span tests, whose definition of intelligence is in use that makes one response better than another (and to which society such a definition should apply), I shall move back to the idea of genius. (Of course, I am probably just missing a crucial idea in the creation of the concept of g, because I’m not a statistician, or a scientist, which is an interesting aspect I apparently share with many and that scared off many reviewers from critiquing the actual arguments and statistics of the book. There are a lot of reviews that sort of read, “Well, the arguments seem sound, but what do I know? But it was well-written…” Which it was. The second author wins for making a readable popular science book handling a tough topic. Of course, sticking all the statistics in the back of the book [and how many folks really flip back and forth between an appendix and the main content when reading? It kills the flow and the content back there is much more boring to a reader than the scintillating arguments being made on the page on which they currently reside. You know, like that whole bit about the dumb people having too many babies.] and not showing the actual data points of those pretty graphs with trendlines galore kinda hurts their case a bit.)

But I was going to talk about genius. Why is it that I look at someone like Mae, who’s doing chemistry research with a professor here now and just accepted a similar position for the summer, and lives, thinks, and breathes biology and chemisty and see a genius, while when I look at Theodore, who has does have an aptitude for machinery and engines, I see him as “merely” a smart guy? He’s got the same passion, the same desire. It’s like when people try to slap that label on me because of an SAT score or my computer tinkerings. I automatically dismiss them as out of their damn mind or unqualified to judge me as such, respectively (my roommate thinks it takes a genius to setup Linux–hence my calling her unqualified). So what if I scored high on a damn test–I’m not doing anything! I’m not discovering fancy-schmancy algorithms to do cool things, or writing beautiful, graceful code to fix everyday problems I have on my computer. I can’t even get Maple to install! But Mae’s not really doing anything big with her smarts right now, either. And I’m probably not qualified to say she’s a genius, although that professor must have wanted her for a reason. See, now I’m confusing myself as to why I think she’s a genius. Grr.

So what is a genius, really? Is it the dictionary defintion, or the connotations behind it? Why do I put so much emphasis on the connotations rather than the literal meanings? And does it even really mean anything to be labelled a genius? I have so much trouble with labels, one would think I would want to do away with it completely. I guess I do; it serves no other purpose than to segregate even a subculture like Rose’s into those than can and those that kinda or passably can. But the difference between can and kinda can, in the larger scope of the nation or the workforce, is so fucking miniscule as to be ridiculous to even consider, isn’t it? It’s like distinguishing between the haves and have-nots at some hoity-toity fund-raising event for saving badly shorn poodles–what does that mean, you had to wait for your next paycheck to come in before you could buy the bajillion dollar house on the coast of that country you bought last year? I jest, but the point is the same (I think…).

And on a completely different note…

I was watching television last week, and a commercial shown grabbed my attention and sent me surfing my favorite blogs for a hint of a reaction like that from the Joe Boxer commercial. And I’m still waiting. What commericial, you ask? The silly-ass Rubber Band Man commercial from Office Max. Why the lack of response to this? Quel est la différence? Don’t we have another goofy black guy dancing around to a song (this time in the workplace) for no apparent reason? Is it that we can come up with reasons for the guy to be happy, other than the questionable imagery that stood out to some with the Joe Boxer commercial? I mean, maybe the guy is just happy to have a job in this economy, you know? Perhaps it’s the fact that with that rather fascinating hairdo and that dancing and that music, the workers in the Rubberband Man’s place of employment aren’t quietly shuffling to avoid him in the elevator? Hell if I know. Could just be the icky response gotten from posts on the Joe Boxer commercial. Or maybe the commercial isn’t being run on big time television–I saw it on a Friday night while watching Law and Order on USA. More like “lonely nerd at home avoiding doing homework” time than prime-time, if you ask me.

Tomorrow will be/is a better day

Actually, things are looking up right now. The funk is passing. The sleep is returning. My mental equilibrium is back. I’m back laughing, and doin’ it with with pleasure. And frequently. Like when I learned what a Davy Crockett is. Or when I found myself pinned in the corner of a nook of a hallway being threatened with tickles (I maintain that not many tickles were actually gotten in because of my violent thrashing around). Or when I saw the content of last Chemistry quiz, because all the hours of reading/note-taking/question-asking I put in paid off to make it extrodinarily easy. Why I would laugh upon seeing a Chemistry quiz at 08:00 on a Thursday, I don’t know. I just about aced it, however.

I’m also back to being able to think about things other than VSEPR models and infinite series convergence tests. Mental input has been a bit limited (I just got the nntp//rss reader working today–I am such an idiot, because it was so obvious), because I haven’t been surfing for anything non-technical for about two to three weeks. Time not spend doing direct schoolwork has been spent attempting to completely disect the Perl scripts used to install Maple 8 on Linux. Ohmygawd, I’m going to stab that thing in the eye! I’ve torn those scripts up three ways from Sunday, and can still barely make heads or tails of what exactly it is that is failing, but not failing enough to return an error and kill the installation. The installation completes “successfully”, but I’m missing every damn binary needed to run the shit. And our bookstore doesn’t sell Maple, so I’d have to buy a copy for over $100 online, which is unacceptable. So I have to boot into Windows to take tests and do homework in math. But enough techie stuff. Back to my thinking. I’m not feeling particularly coherent right now (am I ever?), so this may not make any sense in the morning. (But will you still respect me?)

A recent conversation with a friend got me thinking about the boundaries I set on business versus pleasure. I’ll put in a mandatory disclaimer here that anything following the previous statement has absolutely nothing to directly do with the conversation I had with my buddy, but with my own train of thoughts about myself. There, that’s sufficiently ass-covering, ain’t it? I mean “business versus pleasure” in the sense of how friendly you let yourself be with teammates in order to get work done, or how you respond to romantic overtures, or how you generally conduct relations with people that may be useful to you. For example, given that I was in a rational state of mind, I would probably never enter a relationship (friendship/romantic/whatever) that I felt would jeopardize my “business”–school, career, extracurricular, etc. Underlying much of what I do is the thought of The Resume, or The Future. Things that seem to actually jeopardize my goals will be removed, plain and simple, whether they be people or activities. But that’s kind of ruthless. I’ve found that I give myself a lot of leeway in determining what “jeopardizing my goals” means. I would pull some all-nighters ahead of time to be able to do the Thorn, and possibly turn in some less-than-perfect work or be a bit dull in class the following morning. I generally try to be nice to people that I’m working with on a team, particularly if they’re actually doing work or have any kind of expertise. Of course, I generally try to be nice to people anyway, but sometimes it takes real effort to be civil to some people, and I’ll put less effort into someone on whom my grades don’t rely.

But at what point do you start being nice to someone just because they can do something for you, or because you rely on them? And what if you reach a point where the line between where you know you are being somewhat manipulative and where you are flat-out glad-handing people ruthlessly without a care for their feelings starts to blur so that you don’t even realize which you are doing anymore? It’s the kind of thing that gets me on my guard when people tell me to “network”–I want to make damn sure I can provide a service just a valuable to them as they are potentially providing to me (I just turned down an interview today because of my lack of qualifications, alas…). Networking is a slightly impersonal example, though. What disturbs me is this: How do you know if you’re really friends/favorable acquaintances with someone who is like that? You can’t ever be sure (although you can never be certain of anything with people, really) that they aren’t just tolerating you because you are providing a service, or because some of their success in a class or in the workplace relies on you, or because you’re a cog in their well-oiled machine of life. All the (re)assurances in the damn world can’t overcome the idea that they are, in fact, merely glad-handing you. And I would much rather be openly loathed or loved than that… sickening limbo in which you are tolerated, when who really knows what lies beneath the surface. So why the hell would I inflict that on others? I don’t think it’s a matter of being outspokenly obnoxious, rude, or emotional, but it’s a matter of being honest with oneself and respecting others enough to be honest with them.

That’s all fine and idealistic, but what about when it’s my fun, my resume, my damn career potentially on the line? To what extent do I allow myself to manipulate others? To say “none at all” is rather ridiculous–this is the real world (or at least the facade with which I am presented daily–not that there’s a difference in my mind between the facades we see and “reality”, but that’s another topic altogether), with promotions and money and “friends” to be had. I don’t think making a conscious effort to minimize the bullshit is overly idealistic. But it’s not really something you can set boundaries on; if you’re doing it a little, you open the door to doing it a lot. Perhaps it’s a matter for self-control and self-discipline, the two classes I failed in elementary school. (Hey, what was I supposed to do if my second grade buddy Paco was just too funny, and my teacher didn’t have a liking for squeaky laughers?)

In much more pleasant news, I think I am making a new friend out of an old acquaintance. I think I’ll just call her B. We are going to attend the Central Indiana Celebration of Women in Computing two weekends from now, and attended the convocation our school held (with speaker Robert Wilkins, Esq. Don’t know who he is? Check out the case Wilkins, et. al. vs. State of Maryland.). She’s nice, and we get along pretty well; we had a nice discussion about the topic of the presentation (racial profiling, primarily) on the way to lunch. She always manages to convince me to do things (like go to CICWIC, or go to the convocation) when I have no intention of doing so by simply saying, “Come on, let’s go to the [insert item here]. It’s important to you because…” and by the time she’s finished her list, I’ve written out the check or am halfway to our auditorium. And she’s a CS major, so she has a quirky sense of humor.

I’m fizzling out, so I’m off to do homework and listen to Peter White, who is the man, by the way.

Oh, and yes, I am going to leave that whole manipulation of people bit as open as I did. I can’t really conclude anything at all, but I still wanted to jot down my thoughts. Hence that title “Everyday Thoughts”…

Resolved – Samba Client Setuc

In setting up the Samba Client, you need to emerge samba. That will install the server, which isn’t needed for just browsing and mounting remote shares, but it will also install the client apps, which are needed. In addition, make sure smbfs is either compiled into your kernel or compiled as a module. After the emerge, I followed the steps in this particular section of the SMB-Howto guide to make sure I could surf the Samba host and knew the paths of the locations I wanted to mount. I then followed the suggestions in this forum posting to create my fstab entries and my credentials file. I personally automount my shares, which could cause a problem in a situation in which I am not on the campus network, but while I’m here, it’s quick, easy, and painless.