blogs and so forth

So obviously I haven't been so much with the lj blogging lately.

And that's not likely to change. I haven't written anything interesting here in ages, and the personal life blogging is less relevant with more pithy tweets and facebook status updates that have been my mainstay of late.

However, I am blogging. Or at least, I've written three posts so far, and I hope I'll manage to keep it steady, if not necessarily frequent. It's more politics, with a smattering of entries on beer and other things I enjoy, and probably pictures of my new niece and new nephew in the next couple days, once the nephew has arrived. He's taking his time.

So with that, if you like, I invite you tohead over to to check out the new blog, give me some feedback, and point any wingnut emails (left or right) that you happen to receive.
Your problem is obvious...


Today, going to lunch, I discovered yet another undercarriage-destroying speed bump. This is a rather minor event, especially in Charlotte, but it just really got to me today. I'm trying to get work done right now, but I don't think it'll happen to I post a little bit of a rant.

I'm completely out of my element here.

For my entire life, I've been in communities (my family, Woodberry, Swarthmore, even the lab at Wash U) which value academia and the pursuit of some sort of greater good above the pursuit of personal gain. Since 9th grade, I've been in communities in which I could walk out my door and out of my head-- there was always someplace I could go, be it a friend's dorm room, snackbar, student lounge, coffee shop. I've been with people who greatly value holes in the wall over chains.

This possibly sounds like me being a snob. It's not. This is just how it's been for me, these are my values. I want a career which has a larger focus; I want to live someplace where I don't have to drive; I want to spend my money at businesses that grow directly from the community. I don't think everyone should want these things. I don't mind if you disagree with me.

It's just... What I like.

And I don't like being here. In some ways, I'm really confused right now-- I don't know what I'm going to do after I graduate. Leaving Wash U was a huge shock to my system, interrupted what I saw as my mid-range plan. So I've lately been thinking about going into industry, which isn't something I really considered before. I also thought, as I moved here, that I would like being in North Carolina, because it's near family, and it's similar to where I grew up. I initially found the people to be far more similar to the sort "i'm used to".

But it's not going to work. I'm not happy in North Carolina. I'm not as happy with people who are more like those I knew before leaving Virginia. I can't get out of my head. And I suspect that going into industry would be a big mistake, just like staying in Charlotte would be.


Maybe this is just a reaction to my current social situation, which, as Katie points out, isn't good. But I'm used to spending lots of time alone. It's not really a problem. It's just that before now, I've always been able to... spend time alone without really being alone. Sure, I've been angsty and borderline depressed, but, what I'm feeling right now is different.

So now I've got to figure out a way to cope with it for the next year. At least this is more motivation to finish up the degree quickly.

General mayhem

Lots going on in my life. Fortunately, the class I'm in is starting out today by introducing SVN, and Katie is at a conference at Elon, so she isn't online to distract me. So you get a post!

Fritz's Index--
1st author papers accepted to conferences since my last post: 2
1st author papers accepted while at Wash U: 0
Months at UNCC: 5
Conferences I'm attending this spring: 3
Number of these that take place on land: 2
Months I've been happily involved with a lovely girl: 3
Hours in which I wrote a game over Superbowl weekend: 48
Days till Charlotte Ikea opens: 7

That's the short version. I had papers accepted at FDG (the game cruise) and FLAIRS (Florida AI Research Symposium). Last night I sorted out my transportation and lodging to San Francisco, and registered for GDC (Game Developers Conference). Just got an expo pass, but it's mostly important to go. This is two first author papers for me in the five months since I've been here.

Katie is wonderful. I feel like an idiot much of the time; it turns out I'm far dumber about relationships than I realized. She puts up with it though, and I think I'm getting better. The friends she's met like her, too. She's really busy with school, busier than I ever was even with SCCS, and I was no slacker in SCCS. It's sad to not see as much of her, but I guess that's what I get for preferring smart, ambitious girls. Maybe she'll actually inspire me to work a bit harder myself; January was a sort of slack month.

Over superbowl weekend, I (Katie too, she actually did the large part of the organization) participated in the Global Game Jam. I'll post the game here sometime later, but we're having troubles with the installer, so it's not worth doing so now (you'd need Visual Studio 2008 and XNA 3.0 to build it). It was exhausting, but a lot of fun. My team made a cool game which forces the player to reorient the controller as s/he moves through the world. I wrote a full tile engine with XML-based levels and some other fun stuff over the course of the 48 hours. Almost all of the coding was mine, while the others on the team actually designed the game and made art assets; I really can't claim credit for the idea. Katie's team made a ridiculously fun (and completely ridiculous) choose-your-own-adventure style game called Bunny Adventure?. It must be played. Technically I'm on her team too, but I only helped to name the main character.

Apart from that, it's mostly just been lots of school. I did build a new gaming machine which is hooked up to my TV, but haven't been playing as much as I anticipated. I need to spend some time looking around to find some good games to play... (Any suggestions?) Especially need to find games with good AI, since I'm thinking I'll try going into the game industry after graduation.

And yes..

...I do know that was a dull entry. Maybe there will be a more interesting one later.

End of semester part 2 / Beginning of the semester

Okay, so I'll need to remember to never call a post part 1, because then I'll get repeatedly harassed to write a part 2.

Semester ended somewhat painfully-- I may have flipped out a little bit after getting my projects turned in, because I still had two papers to write. One of those did not get written, so I am not in contention for a doctoral consortium spot at FDG. My FDG paper itself did not get written until I was in Richmond for two days and in a bit of a constant state of headache. It came out pretty well; hopefully it will get in.

Christmas was great; Bella is still insane, and cute, and got a truly shocking number of presents. I got a number of interesting items, and some of the parts for my new gaming system. Given the time spent on the paper, there wasn't much time to catch up with friends in Virginia...

After catching up with Katie briefly in NC, New Year's was at a beach house in Charleston with a bunch of friends from St. Louis. It was great to see Nisha, Michael and Rachel, and nice to have a car while there this year, as we got out to a few of the local places for lunch more than the previous year.

Then last weekend, it was back to spend some time with Katie, and to work. It's probably going to be a rather difficult semester, with taking classes, TAing, and a major research deliverable. I'm also trying to do my proposal this semester; hopefully it will come together.
Your problem is obvious...

End of the Semester, Part 1

The end of the semester is always unpleasantly hectic. This semester is worse than many, given my general situation, but also because I have groupwork for two classes instead of one. One of these projects is, in fact, my research, but that doesn't make hitting these deadlines any easier. The other is a game, and unfortunately not all of the people in the game are experienced coders.

That's sort of an understatement, but I'll leave it there. Suffice to say I've been writing a lot of C# and rewriting a fair amount of code in the past week. It's not all been bad code, per se, but mostly inexperienced code. I probably would've written similar code 5 years ago. Except for some of the heinously bad stuff.

The game, Canis Ex Machina, is coming along reasonably. We had a playtest deadline for Monday, but there's still work to do. For now, I have to hold off while I frantically try to add world geometry, adjust the OpenSteer code, add a memory model, and a few other things to my agent architecture. The architecture now has a name, as it needed one for the FLAIRS deadline. Meanwhile, the FDG deadline is rapidly approaching-- the 19th.

Poor Katie has been ill, stressed with coursework, stressed with housemate drama, and advisor difficulties. I don't miss being an undergrad; the stress is at least a bit more... Contiguous, if that makes sense, in grad school. The problem sizes are bigger, but there are fewer of them, for the most part. Yesterday we got out of town for the evening, and came back this morning. I met her parents, and helped a little bit with getting their Christmas tree up. Mostly I had delicious food and relaxed; her family is actually a lot of fun.

Tomorrow I dive back into the research project fully for another 36 hours before I have to focus back on C. E. M.... The fun never ends.

yes-i'm-still-here post.


Still reading LJ off and on, with the intent to post occasionally. Life is pretty busy, naturally; last weekend I was in DC for the AAAI Fall Symposium, and so missed the EHS game which I would have liked to catch. A couple of friends from Woodberry showed up who I haven't seen in ages (and who don't respond to any electronic communication; I don't know why, but it makes me rather sad).

Meanwhile, I've managed to grow a little bit of a social life outside the lab, sort of. I've met a girl who is pretty fantastic, and it's working out quite well so far. I feel really good about this one.

Right now though, I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving. Charlotte has been pretty good to me so far, but I really need a solid break.