December 18th, 2006

chromatic self

Home again

So I've been home for the last day and a half, with only one final exam to go, and a grand feeling of futility over it because if I get a zero or don't show up I'll get a B, and if I ace it I'll get a B, but I'm showing up mostly because if I do ace it, I might be able to get an A anyway because the grade divisions are, in my professor's words, "fuzzy". I figure it's worth a shot, and there's no reason to throw away grade points.

After all, despite my midterm 71% and a strikingly mediocre run of homework through my Artificial Intelligence class, I still somehow managed to pull off an A- by scoring 96% on the last homework assignment and some unknown amount on the final exam; I calculated that my exam score had to be at least 97% to hit that A-. Dr. Zhang wanted to give people a chance to make up points for some of his nastier homeworks (and oddly-worded questions with questionable answers- it shows that Dr. Zhang's first language is not English), so there was a possible 115% on the exam; when I left it, I knew my score was somehwere in the 95%-115% range, depending upon whether or not he liked one of my graph theory questions, one of the bonus questions, and my answer to the most oddly worded question on the test which I can't even remember now but it hit like a grammatical train wreck and left the smoldering wreckage of an incoherent concept that I wasn't entirely sure how to answer. It was either a definition question or a calculation question, and I couldn't be sure which from the phrasing because the grammar indicated both- depending upon which grammatical error was actually an error and which one was the correct grammatical interpretation. Not that it really mattered- I couldn't really answer either question. (It was only 5% anyway.)

I'm glad for the stress of the semester to be nearly over, but now I have the stress and isolation of being home. I love my parents and all, but they still treat me like I'm 12 (I'm still "forbidden" to use AIM, blogging, chat, of "any of those terrible MySpace sites"- at least my mother got that one right, if for the wrong reasons) and wave off and ignore any attempt I make to explain that I do not intend to ask them for permission for my day-to-day decisions once I move to Washington, much as I do not ask them for permission now despite their repeated irritation that I have not done so. (Why, no, I don't think I needed to ask for permission to go off-campus with my Wilderness Studies class for brunch, and no I don't really think you had any reasonable expectation, much less a right, for me to tell you and ask permission before going.)

Part of it is that I've ben letting them do it, to some extent, because I haven't had the courage or stability to press my luck. But I'm going to have to do so eventually, and I need to do it sooner rather than later so they at least have six months to get used to the idea and decide how to handle it before I'm gone. Because if I don't tell them, they're going to find out things for themselves and I prefer to make decisions on my own time and schedule, not theirs.

Before the end of the year, my parents are at least going to know about my bisexuality and some (although not full- much less than full) information about (at least the existence of) my relationship with Rakeela, and I don't think it's a good idea for me to put it off any longer. I'm sick of lying to them as it is whenever they interrogate me about relationships, and they'll probably find out on their own at some inconvenient moment anyway. Hiding that, more than anything else, has been what's stressed me out about my relationship with my parents- more than the religion, more than the draconity, more than my mother's total disregard for my privacy (hiding my Tarot deck before she got to my dorm turned out to be a good idea, as she insisted on "tidying up" my desk drawers and utterly refused to not do so), more than my father's total disregard for my ability to make decisions (a lecture about time management every single chance he gets, always pressuring me not to do anything but schoolwork- despite my history of coming out way ahead for ignoring him; if he had his way, I would never have competed in the ACM Tournament that led to my job at Microsoft). I suppose all those things are more invasive, but they're less pervasive- they happen in single events, in single things I can call out and contest and slowly get them to learn I won't put up with. (It's taken the last three and a half years to make this much headway.) With the sexuality issue, I can't call them out on it or I'll give myself away, and it's not just the occasional single event, it's some mention almost every time I talk to them, and that's just not going to work anymore.

This is either going to spontaneously repair a lot of problems in my relationship to my parents because I can stop fucking lying to their faces every damn day or it's going to get me kicked out of my family, and even that's better than chronic deception. I guess I'm not really one to avoid burning bridges- sometimes, the danger of needing to cross a destroyed path is much, much less than the dangers and costs of allowing other people to trod over it.
  • Current Mood
    indescribable indescribable
a look of abject horror, yikes

This is why I have two computers and an extended warranty

So after I made my last post, I spent a while diddling around more on the Internet (mostly reading the design history of Chrononauts from http://www.looneylabs.com), then told my computer to shut down and went to bed. I woke up a little bit ago, an idea for an Icehouse game bouncing around in my head, and grabbed my PDA to jot down notes on the idea. Looking across the room to where my desktop computer has been set up, I noticed the power light was still on, so I powered on the monitors to see what was going on.

Of all the Stop errors Windows can show, *** HARDWARE FAILURE *** is probably the worst one.

*** Hardware Failure
Memory parity check failed.
Call your hardware manufacturer.

*** The system has halted ***

So I'm currently running a full comprehensive multi-pass memory test (courtesy of System Rescue CD) on the computer, trying to figure out if it's a hard failure or a soft failure (the computer had been running for over a day straight in a warm room, but not warm enough to overheat), and if so exactly which DIMM needs to be fixed. Meanwhile, I'm glad I've got my school files all on this computer, my SD card, one of my USB sticks, and an external hard drive, I've got an extended warranty on that computer, and I've got my Tablet PC to use in the interim.

I've been in the case of that computer so many times, though, I'm not entirely sure if they'll still honor the warranty. (It's one of those computers designed for easy upgrades- it's got release buttons to open the case without a screwdriver, footpads on the side to set it down gently easily, a catch to hold the case open, latches holding down all the components so almost nothing standard to modify requires a screwdriver, etc.) At least if I can pin down which memory chip has blown- assuming it's a reliable hardware failure- I'll be able to fix it just with new RAM... and probably more of it, now that I'm using Photoshop. I wasn't really budgeting for it, though- oh well, bad luck is like that.

The memory test didn't find anything on the first pass, but I've switched it into super-comprehensive mode now, trying to recreate the chance it will reproduce the failure. I guess I'll just go back to sleep and let it run- I'm pretty sure MemTest86+ will cheerfully run until I tell it to stop, so if it's a problem that requires the computer to run for a wihle, that'll give it a chance.

And if I can't recreate the problem, what can cause a transitory memory parity check failure while shutting down Windows, when the computer had before shutdown been running as well as usual?

**edited to add**
Well, that would explain it. Note to self: Before assuming that the part that claimed to fail actually failed, assume that the recently-added hardware (there's no network cable up to my room- it looks like "300 feet of cat5" is on my shopping list now) is the actual source of the problem.
  • Current Mood
    scared oh fuck