A Good Day

This is the middle of my sixth year at WVU. Counting summers, this starts my 14th semester. This day, right now, is probably the best first day of classes I’ve ever had.

I woke up early and worked for hours on my website, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I packed my lunch (which I usually don’t do, which annoys me, because fast food is more expensive), and left early enough that I could just walk around the MountainLair (WVU’s student union) grab the student newspaper, and watch students on their very first day of college ever.

I was five minutes early for class, and once it started, I realized I think I’m going to like the subject matter and professor. After class, I took a nice nap, started organizing all of my scanned pictures (a task I’d been putting off for weeks) then headed down to the Rec Center (WVU’s gym). Though the spinning class I wanted wasn’t offered today (and I forgot that was the case), I still gave myself a nice hard workout on one of the Center’s elliptical machines.

After that, I headed back to the ‘Lair. When I first started at WVU, the tradition after the first day of classes was the Block Party. Thousands of students (and many others, as time went on and its fame grew), converged on Grant Avenue in Sunnyside, and tore the place apart; couches burned, fights broke out, but people had fun. When I was in undergrad (mid 1990’s): the party finally got crazy enough that someone was shot (stabbings, sadly, were already a relatively common occurrence). As news helicopters from 90 miles away (based out of Pittsburgh) filmed the crowds and fires from overhead, and the news of the violence reached the University, it was decided that the Block Party would be permanently shut down.

These days, during the first week of school, anyone who’s even on their porch in Sunnyside is asked to go inside, and no loitering in the area is allowed. In an effort to lure students to something a bit less dangerous when school starts, Fall Fest was instituted: the Lair stays open late, WVU brings in live bands, and no one gets shot. Or stabbed. Or (to the immense relief of the University) filmed as part of a “Look at those crazy WVU students” story that goes national.

It’s FallFest right now. I’m now sitting in the middle of the Lair, surrounded by students, probably most of whom are freshmen. It’s been raining and thunderstorming all day, and the live bands were rained out, so they’re all in here. 1000 people? 2000 people? It’s difficult to say. But they’re all talking, and laughing, and having fun.

And almost therefore by proxy, so am I.

A great ending, for a great day.

Ben’s Best Man Speech

My brother was married last month; I was the best man. I wanted to give a really good toast, so worked long and hard writing it. I think it came out well; here it is:

Hello, everyone; for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jonathan, Ben’s brother. I’d like to tell you a story about how Ben asked Lynn to marry him, and what happened afterward.

When he first proposed, it was incredibly romantic. They were at Blackwater Falls, which for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a beautiful forest-and-river park near here. They were watching a waterfall, and when Lynn turned around, Ben was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. Water rushed through the falls on one side of them, warm July sunlight filtered down between the leaves on the trees on the other, and Lynn burst into tears and said yes.

Unfortunately, the rest of Ben’s close family (me, and our stepfather Charlie) didn’t find out about all of this for a full nine days. And when we did, it was in a way we never expected. At the time, I was living in Arizona, and Ben and I stayed in touch by calling each other around once a week. We were actually talking about something completely different, and then Ben said, totally offhandedly, “Oh, yeah, by the way, I’m engaged.”

“What?!” I said. And then, of course, I wheedled all the gory details from him: when, where, how, sunlight-filtering, water-falling, etc. And after that, I called Charlie and told him the great news. But I was still in shock. Ben! Engaged! And a week and a half ago!

I was very surprised he had waited so long to tell us: he knew we’d be fully supportive, and we all thought he and Lynn were great together. Why, then, the delay? To this day, Ben himself tells me he’s not sure. Here’s what I think, though: after long months of plotting and planning, Ben had just proposed marriage to someone, and she had said yes! At the time, then, he probably had more important things on his mind than telling his family about it.

So in the end, I was glad he had waited to tell us. Personally, I like to think of the delay in telling us about the proposal as a testament to the resulting wedding’s importance; its “rightness”. Please join me, then, in a toast to the marriage of Ben Mack and Lynn Harden, in hopes that he’ll wait to tell us things like this for many years to come.

Congratulations Ben and Lynn. :)

The Awesomest Formula of Them All

(I wrote this a few weeks ago to practice html formatting tags. It originally went in a “Miscellaneous” portion of the site (now removed). Since it can’t go there any more, it goes best here.)

The awesomest formula of them all.

After four years in aerospace engineering school, one as a math major, 1.5 as a working engineer, five as a helicopter pilot, and 1.5 (and counting) as a computer science graduate student, I know a lot of mathematical formulas. But what, you may be asking, what is the awesomest formula of them all? I humbly submit to you that it’s this one:

e = -1

How can this be so amazing? Think about it for a second: e is the base of the natural logarithm, an irrational number, approximately 2.718. i is the square root of -1, a number which is so mindbendingly impossible (since you can’t take the square root of a negative number) it forms the basis for a class of numbers that are called imaginary numbers. π is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, another (and perhaps the most famous) irrational number, at approximately 3.14159. So. Take e, raise it to the power of i times π, and what do you get? -1. One of the most boringly normal numbers out there. And, oh yeah: no matter to what number you raise a positive number (like e), you cannot get a negative number.

Like -1.

Awesome, huh?

A Belated Beginning

Welcome to my site! This website exists for two reasons. The first is that, as a graduate student in computer science, it would be shameful to graduate without knowing html, CSS, MySQL, and php. Since (to my continual amazement) my department offers not a single class in web design or these languages, it’s my job to learn them, and the best way to do so is by practicing them.


The second reason is so the world has a window to me. Once the site is fully operational, it should have employment information for those interested in hiring me for engineering, helicopter piloting, or computer science. It should also have what any good personal website should have: pictures, blog entries, quotes, links, and other cool stuff.

All in good time…

For now, only one thing is needed:

A beginning.

And here it is.