The Fallenposters Blog

Because the posters fell down, duh.

Posts Tagged ‘blog

Goodbye Liboff!

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Today I listed a number of my physics textbooks for sale on Half.com. I guess I just realized today that I’ll probably never need textbooks about quantum mechanics, mathematical methods, analytical mechanics, or linear algebra ever again. Its kind of depressing to a certain extent. I mean I spent five years of my life devoted to physics, and now I’m more or less leaving it behind. And I know that five years is only a small fraction of the rest of the life I will live, but I just feel a certain connection to the subject. I prided myself with the fact that I majored in physics. I loved the reactions I would get. The pleas from people to help them with their introductory physics courses or math classes. The inherent geekiness that went along with being a physics major. I just tended to identify a large part of myself with being a physics geek. And not one of those geeks that follow physics superficially by reading books by Stephen Hawking or Brian Greene but actually being a physicist-in-training. Not only did I know about the subjects studied in physics, but I knew how it all worked mathematically as well.

It makes me look to the future as my graduate school adventure in Forensic Science is about to begin. Will I become a Forensic Science geek as well? Will I learn jokes that only forensic scientists will get? Will I buy forensic science t-shirts to display proudly my degree program as I trot around campus? Will I make friends with fellow geeks who are proud of what they study?

I sure hope so. Otherwise it will be a slow two years.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 27, 2006 at 6:27 pm

Amazon.com Recommendations

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Recently I’ve gotten addicted to rating items on Amazon.com. This is a part of my goal to “improve” my recommendations. But I have been having some issues with this system.

Singer, Kelly ClarksonIf I give a book, DVD, or CD a high rating, then it’ll spit out recommendations for books by the same author, movies by the same director, or CDs by the same artist. Now I understand that their logic for this is that, “Hey, if he loved that one Kelly Clarkson album, then surely he’ll love every other album made by an American Idol contestant plus any other pop music!” This, thankfully, is not the case.

Surprisingly, I like “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. But that doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to go out and buy Carrie Underwood’s, Bo Bice’s and Clay Aiken’s albums.

Author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. On the same course, I’ve read and enjoyed a number of Kurt Vonnegut’s books . And now because of that, Amazon feels that I need to have every book written by him. Now I’m sure some may argue that Amazon got this one right, but I don’t really feel that way.

The main thing that irks me about it is that I know that I like Kurt Vonnegut, and I’m sure that I would love every one of his books. But why can’t it take that logical step and recommend something else? Who knows, I guess it has to do with the algorithm it uses. Until they fix that, I’ll continue telling it that I’m not interested in Britney Spears’ oeuvre.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 23, 2006 at 2:08 pm

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Metro Observation #1

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This here is a first of (what I assume will be) many posts about things that I observe while riding the Metro on my way to work. My commute to Arlington will be managed best by taking the Metro, so I’m sure I won’t be short on material much.metrorail.jpg

Vienna Metro Station and the Orange Line

The Metro has each rail line named by color (red, green, orange, yellow, blue). Each line has a beginning and an end. Once a train has reached the end of the line, guess what it does. It goes back in the opposite direction (really!). I don’t think very many people are aware of this concept. More likely, its probably the tourists that don’t get it, but come on, it isn’t that hard to figure out. I mean, where else is it going to go? It isn’t going to fly back to where it started.

Example: I got on the Orange Line at the Vienna Metro Station today to go and turn in some paperwork for my new job. The Orange Line starts (and ends) at this station. So naturally, it doesn’t matter what train you get on since they are all going in the same direction. A group of tourists got on the train after I did and they could not stop talking about how they weren’t sure if they were on the right train.

“Is this the orange?”

“Are we on the right train?”

“I can’t tell if we’re on the right train.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re on the right train. There is only one train, on one line, going in one direction! I could understand the confusion if you were at a station that services multiple lines, but come on. Did the LED sign on the outside of the train not make it obvious enough that this was the Orange Line? I mean, it says (in English!) “Orange”–with an orange-colored circle next to it nonetheless.

I guess I just feel strongly about this because when I am going somewhere I’m not familiar with, I make sure to figure out how to get there. And if getting there requires a transportation system other than my car, than I’ll make sure to learn how to use said system before I have to actually use it. I go online, read about the Metro, learn which stations I need to get on at and get off at, how much it costs, how to pay, etc.

I don’t know whether to catagorize people like this as either lazy or stupid. Maybe both.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 17, 2006 at 8:15 pm

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“Maybe you could ask your legs for a ride.”

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What is with people?

Matt from Blacksburg drove up yesterday morning to attend a conference in DC. He crashed here last night and this morning, we all ventured into the city to do some touristy stuff.

We rode the Orange Line into Foggy Bottom and walked from the Metro station south to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a stunning sight. And the area was in no shortage of tourists. When we strolled over to the Korean War Memorial, we overheard a kid whining to his parents regarding walking from one end of the Mall to the other (make sure you read this with that high-pitched whiney-kid voice in your head):

“Can’t we just ask someone for a ride or something?”

I was floored. The distance from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument can’t be more than 5 or six blocks. Is that really an excruciating distance to have to hoof? Perhaps he had a recent hip-replacement surgery or has fallen arches. But I doubt it.

But I guess for a kid whose legs are much shorter than the average adult, there’s a lot more steps involved for any kind of distance walking. But if that kid was in some amusement park going ape trying to ride each and every roller coaster (at least twice), then I’m sure he wouldn’t be complaining at all. At least until he was dragged out the park by his exhausted parents.

But history and memorials and educational sites are “boring” to kids. I guess they just don’t cater enough to children’s ADD these days. Perhaps if Lincoln got out of his chair every hour to do a comical skit or if they installed an ultimate-super-fun-happy slide at the top of the Washington Monument, then maybe kids would be more interested in places like these (heck, I know I would!).

When I look back at it though, I guess I was probably just like that as a kid. Maybe that’s what irks me.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 12, 2006 at 10:18 pm

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Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?

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I recently finished reading Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was probably one of the saddest novels I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded man in his thirties who gets a second chance at life with by participating in an experiment that manages to increase his intelligence to an amazing level. His progression from mental retardation to genius is a sad journey as he learns how much abuse he’s taken his entire life. The book was written in the early 1960s and its really depressing to see how mental retardation was handled back then.

I also find it interesting because Flowers For Algernon is a fairly popular book, but not very many people realize that it’s a Sci-Fi (SF) novel. It won the prestigious Nebula Award in 1966. But most people who would be willing to read this novel probably wouldn’t read other stereotypical SF or Fantasy (you know, the kind with dragons, aliens, and other fantastic elements). I just don’t understand why so many people who read literature are so against SF. There are so many good SF writers out there that fall under the radar because they are stigmatized in mainstream and academic culture.

I just wish people would stop being snobs and open themselves up to something different every now and then.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 9, 2006 at 6:20 pm

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Trash Compactor Blues

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I believe I witnessed one of the laziest acts of mankind.

At our apartment complex, instead of having multiple dumpsters situated strategically around the parking lot, we have one mammoth trash compactor at the entrance to our complex. But since there is only one of these in a complex that has approximately 20 (give or take) buildings, most people take their garbage out on their way out (you know, when they go boar hunting, salsa dancing, or whatever it is people around here do).

Personally, I usually just walk the garbage to the compactor from my building. I don’t like the idea of putting a bag of garbage in the trunk to bring out when I leave in the morning. Mainly because I’m afraid I’ll forget about it and then open the trunk a week later to discover that I invented the mobile compost heap.

But on our way back from dinner one evening. I noticed someone taking their garbage out to the compactor in an unusual manner. Instead of opening their trunk and driving the garbage to the compactor, they decided it would be quicker and easier to transport the waste on top of the trunk. Not inside. On top of the trunk.

How hard is it to open your trunk and place a bag of refuse inside it?

Maybe they had to protect their precious subwoofers or didn’t want to ruin the leather interior—of the trunk! Who is going to see the inside of your trunk? No one will ever notice the dirtiness of your trunk (unless you decide to kidnap someone; and if you make it to that point, does it even matter what your trunk is like?).

Obviously the person doing this lived in a building that was fairly close to the compactor. I deduce this because if you lived on the opposite side of the complex (like me), then you aren’t going to place garbage on top of your car without securing it. It could fall off the car during, scatter in the parking lot, and you have the embarrassing job of cleaning up your Tiger Beat magazines and boxes upon boxes of empty Little Debbie snack cakes.

If the person lived close enough to the compactor to manage transporting their garbage in these means, why didn’t they just walk it over in the first place? It would have saved on gas, saved time, and it would have saved them from being the subject of this post.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 6, 2006 at 10:04 am

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. . . to the East Side

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So this is my first official post from Fairfax, VA. This area is very very nice. There is a great walking/bike trail right behind our apartment building. There is a free shuttle to the Vienna Metro Station. We have access to a pool and a fitness room. There is a movie theater, mall, and other shopping and restaurants within walking distance to our place.

I’m really excited about living here and really scared at the same time. We don’t really have any friends up here yet (except Jason and Kate). We have to start new jobs, go to a new school, find a new church, new grocery store, new movie theater, new things to do. Basically, everything we were used to doing in Blacksburg, we have to do here now. In a much larger, more suburbanized area.

We are going to try a new church this morning. We’re going to try Fairfax Community Church which is only about 15 minutes away from our place. It looks like it will be good. Same style as WBCC and Northstar, but much larger (yikes!). But I think it will be ok.

I have to get an ergonomic test done tomorrow for Pepsi in order to start my new job. I’ve already gotten a physical and a drug test. I’m not exactly sure what an ergonomic test is, but I know its not an EKG. The lady at the clinic told me it was kind of a stress test for when I’m lifting heavy items. But I think I’ll pass with no problems. Basically, Pepsi doesn’t want me to pop on the job.

Before I forget, you can go to Cheri’s blog to view some pictures of our new place (sans furniture). Hopefully we’ll be getting some pictures of the new place with everything moved in and unpacked soon.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

July 30, 2006 at 8:30 am

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