May 29


Several years ago, I wrote about a week in which my children passed several important milestones in their growing-up process. This time, we have two such events in one day. Today is Ruth’s twenty-first birthday, so she is now fully recognized as an adult by the laws of the land, even where the purchase of intoxicating spirits is concerned. And Ben is attending high school for the very last time; his final final exam is today. It’s all over but the graduating, baby!

May 23


I went to my dentist yesterday morning for some repair work; a bit of enamel had flaked away from the edge of an onlay that was installed a few months ago. In the afternoon, I visited my optometrist for my annual eye exam (no major change in my vision since last year). And yesterday evening, I got a haircut.
It wasn’t until later that I realized something. Yesterday was probably the first time in my life that I’ve sat in a dentist’s chair, an optometrist’s chair, and a barber chair in the space of a single day. And I’ll probably never do it again.

May 22

A long time ago

James Lileks reminds us that Star Wars premiered thirty years ago this week. If you saw that movie in a theater, you are old.
UPDATE: Argh. The Star Tribune site forces you to log in before allowing you to read that article. Use BugMeNot to bypass registration if you don’t want to create an account.

May 18

My accent

I wrote a couple of years ago about my bland, generic American accent. It seems to defy all attempts at classification; people who listen to me talk and then guess where I grew up virtually never get it right. So I couldn’t pass up an online quiz titled “What American accent do you have?” Here is the result I got:

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

The Northeast? That’s just bizarre. I never lived there or even visited that region for more than a few days, and neither have my parents. Notice also that the quiz gives me only a middling grade for being Southern, even though I have lived my entire life in the South. Either this quiz is highly inaccurate, or I am just weird.

May 15

Name change

Metablogging (writing about your blog in your blog) is usually boring. But the name of this blog has changed, and I probably should explain why — even if that means I have to metablog a bit.
I’ve retired the Logopolis title. It didn’t really mean anything, and it wasn’t memorable or easy to spell. In addition, I want to make the blog less anonymous. The domain name is my name, and so is the address used in the “E-mail me” link. Why should the blog title be different? Consequently, as of May 12, the title is Pat Berry dot net. It’s just simpler that way.

May 07

The Horseshoe

Bob’s tale of escaping from The Towers to a much better room in the Horseshoe reminds me of my own experience a few years earlier. Ironically, I tried to get into the Towers, and later strove to get out of the Horseshoe.

When I was accepted at USC in the summer of 1978, I listed The Towers as my first-choice dorm on my housing application. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I was an idiot. I hadn’t actually visited The Towers and had no idea of how squalid they were. I picked them solely on the basis of their central location. Fortunately for me, there were no open slots in The Towers. In fact, there were no open slots in any dorm, and for a while it looked as if I wouldn’t be able to go to USC.

But a couple of weeks before classes were scheduled to start, I received a letter telling me that a housing slot had become available, and of course I took it without quibbling about which dorm it was in. Purely by chance, I ended up in the Horseshoe.

Specifically, I was in a room on the second floor of Legare, the building next door to Pinckney (where Bob would end up living a few years later). But Bob’s Horseshoe wasn’t the same as mine. In 1978, the dorms on the Shoe were better than the Towers, but they were shabby and in need of renovation.

My suite in Legare housed three people, including me. It consisted of one bedroom for two people (which I shared with George), another bedroom for one (occupied by Bubba), and a common room. The common room had three built-in desk/bookshelf units with chairs, a washbasin, and some empty floor space that Bubba filled with a sofa and a stereo set. No other furniture was provided. There was no kitchen, no bathroom (we had to go downstairs for that), and no air conditioning. Heat was provided by a radiator located against the front wall of the common room, as far from the bedrooms as possible.

Despite these flaws, my Horseshoe suite might have been an OK place to live. Bubba was an excellent roomate, very friendly and easygoing. But George was the opposite: unpleasant, disagreeable, and drunk most of the time. I was stuck sharing a room with him. (Why couldn’t the housing gods have put Bubba in the same room with me, and George in a room by himself?)

I gritted my teeth and put up with the situation for my first year at USC, but when it came time to apply for housing assignments for the following year, I was determined to move. I checked out the other dorms to see what the possibilities were. By this point, I knew to avoid The Towers. The men’s dorm called Preston was also not an option. If anything, it was worse than The Towers. There was actually a T-shirt that said “In Preston, no one can hear you scream . . .”

Bates West was one of the newest dorms on campus. It was located on the periphery of the campus, but I no longer cared about central location. The rooms were actually suites for four people: two double-occupancy bedrooms with desks, a full bathroom, a furnished common room, and a small but fully-functional kitchen. The building was a 14-story high-rise with elevators, central heat and air conditioning, a trash chute, and a laundromat in the basement. What more could you ask for?

I didn’t have to camp out like Bob did, but I requested and received a reassignment to Bates West. I lived there for the next three years, leaving only when, in my senior year, I obtained rent-free living quarters near the center of campus. (But that’s another story.)

The year after I left the Horseshoe, the university closed Legare and Pinckney, gutted them, and rebuilt the interiors. The renovated Horseshoe dorms were similar to Bates West internally, except that each four-person suite had four private bedrooms. Each suite had a balcony, too. So I can certainly understand why Bob was as eager to get into the Horseshoe as I had been to get out. His timing was much better than mine.

May 01

Creepy Doll

On March 4, I wrote that I had never heard of Jonathan Coulton before the previous week. But that turns out to be untrue. I listen to Jim Van Verth’s Vintage Gamer podcast, and in his Halloween 2006 episode, Jim played a Coulton song called “Creepy Doll”. I remember being impressed by the song, although my memory didn’t retain the musician’s name (which Jim did mention). But it’s the same guy who did “Code Monkey”.

By this point, you’re probably tired of reading about “Code Monkey” here. But I can’t resist pointing out this video of it, starring actual geeks. You don’t have to play it.

UPDATE: After posting this entry, I discovered that Coulton was mentioned in today’s episode of Buzz Out Loud (another podcast I listen to) because he recorded a song called “First of May.”