Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Updates, obviously.

I have moved into my summer housing at W & M. I have a Madison double (approximately 200 sq. ft.) to myself until early July, since my roommate isn't arriving until the second session of summer school. If you're imagining wild parties, orgies, raves, or such, you're mistaken--there's no one here except first session summer school students and the Poor Research Bastards (like me).

If you're curious about what I'm doing, you shouldn't be--everyone who asks eventually ends up regretting it in that "my eyes glaze" fashion. It has to do with magnets. Magnets and really cold temperatures, somewhere between 1.6 and 4.2 Kelvin. If you think that sounds interesting it's not--just a lot of knobs, dials, and a vat of liquid helium hooked up to a cryostat on top of an 18 kilogauss magnet.

My advisor is Gary "Sunshine" DeFotis, a man feared not so much for his temper as for his general aura. He is a veritable generator of crankiness and general curmudgeondom, which isn't always a bad thing. I myself am a big fan of such things, but it can be difficult to work with. He tends to get overexcited around his equipment, as if he fears that having 21-year-olds in his lab puts delicate machinery such as a 500-lb diagnostic panel in danger. Tyler (my partner) and I are learning to cope, and I can honestly say so far that it's been a real even mixture of fun and frustration.

Andrew got me semi-addicted to World of Warcraft. I am fascinated with it for the same reason I enjoyed SimCity, Caesar II, Civilization, etc.--the user/environment interface is amazing. You go around slaying things, yes--but you can skin and tan their hides and make armor and clothing from it. You can mine for metals and turn them into weapons. You can pick wild plants and turn them into potions or magical oils. For once there's a hack-and-slash game out there with a more interesting take on the player's surroundings. And, as I have already raved about to my dad, the capital cities for each race (so far I've only explored Stormwind and Ogrimmar) are amazing. The level of detail is extraordinary, and it reminded me of how I felt the first time I played Zelda on the N64. This isn't real, but maybe it should be.

And of course, it is real enough for a little while, but then it's back to the real world where skinning is messy and bloody and mining is dirty and dangerous, and where we'd rather buy our food than kill it, clean it, and cook it ourselves using flint, tinder, and kindling. Some places are fun to expore but better left in their proper place--un-reality.


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