January 4th, 2007


Letter to CMU President Cohen

Attn President Cohen,

I am writing to express my disappointment in your decision to endorse the reduction of the Allegheny County Port Authority. As an employee of the University for four years, I have found the bus pass benefit to be incredibly useful - so useful that last summer I felt comfortable selling my car and relying on public transit. I feel that the transit cuts will hurt the university community (particularly with the loss of the 28X, but also including at least the 61F, the 67s, and the 69A), and that they will also hurt the city - the economies of scale with public transit make for a more efficient, social, and modern society than relying primarily on individual car ownership does. I understand the concern that failing to make funding match service costs jeopardises the future of the system, but increased funding through tax-based subsidisation or increased fares is a more appropriate solution than reduced service. I imagine you don't have occasion to take the bus frequently -- at many times of day, the busses I've been on have been very full (sometimes so much as to be unable to take new passengers), whether going downtown, to Squirrel Hill, or elsewhere. It's important that the city not decide that such travel is unimportant or move towards being a car-centric place.


Pat Gunn

(actually sent this handwritten through campus mail)

  • Current Music
    Twisted Sister - Come All Ye Faithful

D is for Dachte

Font news:

Off and on, I've been learning fontforge, with bits of random advice from a few people. Some of this advice was good, some of it was.. not helpful to me. Here's what I did and where I am:

  1. Write out each letter in my handwriting several times so I can pick the best variant, on white printer paper at home
  2. Take several photographs of that paper with my digital camera, move those to computer
  3. Install the autotrace extension for fontforge
  4. Import the letters that were good into their spots, let autotrace try to approximate the letters
  5. Fix up the letters

The biggest problems so far appear to have been inadequate original images and poor photographs. I don't know if scanning would give me more reasonable traces, but, lacking a scanner (or easy access), I need to make more of an effort to avoid blur and to get a decent size. Some letters were photographed nicely though - the sample above is a success story. Anyhow, this is a work-in-progress. There's a good chance that in a few months I'll know a lot better and redo everything. It's still fun.

  • Current Music
    Oingo Boingo - Gray Matter

Peering Across State Lines

On MySpace, sometime back I came across the profiles of my three sisters. I don't really do the MySpace thing, and I'm not particularly close to anyone in my family (apart from my grandparents on my mom's side), but it's interesting to see that Lindsay, who's probably the most like me of us four, has a decent overlap with me in musical tastes. I wonder how much of that might be genetics, how much might be socioeconomic momentum towards friends who introduced us to similar musicians, and how much was something else. I'm pretty sure it's not upbringing - I picked up my musical tastes mostly after I had gone to University. *shrug*. It's kind of amusing how things ended up - I have two sisters in places I used to live (Cleveland-area and Columbus-area) and one someplace I almost went (Boston).

I've heard that, as I'm heading to NYC to see Pirates of Penzance in March, I should avoid JFK airport. Is LaGuardia better? My primary concern is easy and cheap public transit into the city so I can reach whatever el-cheapo hotel I go with (ideally an artsy-but-insane one I stayed in 8 years ago with a bunch of friends). It's playing every weekend, the prices are the same for each, although I'd probably like to avoid CMU's spring break on the off chance I get invited to go on a road trip with some cool folk. OTOH, maybe if that happens and NYC is on the agenda, they'd like Pirates too. In any case, Albion should be visited too.

I also should figure out when I'm going to visit Nova Scotia. If I'm leaving North America this summer, I should do it before then.


Femme Fatality

It's interesting when we find out that we're attracted to people we should not be, for one reason or another. To clarify slightly, to people where the attraction, either now or under any possible circumstance in the future, can be nothing but disruptive, either to one's own mental state or socially if brought into the open. The most recent of these is a crush-at-first-sight on someone I've never met who, because of the nature of their social ties to me, I probably never will meet (and never should, honestly). Crushes that don't lead to anything.. suck.. so... much.

Unrelated, in programming languages, I think named arguments for functions/methods are very sexy. I wish there were ways to make them take less space in Perl, although in most languages that use them, they tend to take too much (visual) space at the top of each function. I find myself wondering if there's a better way to do it (in Perl or in programming languages in general). We might imagine writing a utility function to arrange some of this, but the devil is in how to do it that's better than the native way of doing it. I've often been tempted to really design my own Perl-sized programming language - while Perl is the closest language I've seen to what I'd like so far, there are more than a few things I'd do differently.