Ushering for “The Suicide”

I ushered for a play at Brandeis the other night. It was a comedy entitled The Suicide, being put on for Russian Week. Thanks to Polina for suggesting it. I really enjoyed making sure that everything went smoothly for the audience. It reminded me of the days when I was a roadie for my friends’ band.

From the Brandeis theater schedule:

An unemployed man contemplates suicide but is besieged by spokespeople of discontented groups, from butchers to intellectuals, who want to turn his suicide into a gesture on their behalf. This brilliant Soviet-era satire is a classic of the Russian theater.

Anyway we caught the final showing and it was pretty crazy. About halfway through so many things were going on at once and it was hard to figure out what the point of it all was. Experimental theater at its finest, I guess. Since it was the last performance, I think they added some crazy stuff like having a random lady walk out of this guy’s closet and lifting up the backdrop to reveal the backstage area.

I talked with one of the other ushers, a graduate student who sat this play out for lack of enough parts to play. She explained the Suzuki Method to me (although I feel like I might have gotten the name wrong after reading that Wikipedia entry). She’s going to be in Euripides’s Bacchae later this semester. I might go usher that as well to enrich the 1/4 of myself that is Greek. It’d be a good way to get out of Olin a little more.

What is Swimming in the Earth?

Hello everyone.

Welcome to Swimming in the Earth, my new blog. I will be posting anything and everything here. My other websites are linked at Grant Page Central.

I bet you’re wondering how I chose the name Swimming in the Earth.

A couple weeks ago, I was in class here at Olin College. The class was SCOPE, our team-based yearlong engineering capstone project, and we had a guest speaker talking about ethics.

To make a point about what words people associate with good ethics, the speaker asked, “When you die, what epitath would you want written on your gravestone?”

Without skipping a beat, I thought to myself, “He swam in the earth.”

I was really taken aback by this random thought. I knew exactly what it meant to me, but as an image I’m not sure it fully conveys its point. Indeed, it invites the joke that my dead body would be “swimming” in the earth of the grave.

But I’ve gone off-topic.

Swimming in the earth is my way of explaining the concept of living life to its fullest. This planet has a lot to offer me in the short time I have here. If I don’t break some rules and get my feet wet I’ll have missed out on a lot of experiences.

Thus, I should go swimming in the earth. Right through the dirt. Through the sky. Through the water too, but that’s too easy. I should run around and sit still. Get comfortable and catch myself off guard.

And I’ll be writing all about it here. Technology, humor, politics, language, music, society. Anything is fair game. Please leave this blog better than you found it; comments graciously welcomed.

Why I think Verizon won’t win the bandwidth battle with Google

Verizon is threatening to start charging Google for the traffic it generates over its internet backbone.

“The network builders are spending a fortune constructing and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with nothing but cheap servers” [Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel John] Thorne told a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. “It is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers.”

Strange broken lunch metaphors aside, it seems Verizon wants Google to start paying for the traffic that goes on their lines between users and Google’s services. Never mind that the bandwidth already gets paid for by the end users.

The threat? Verizon will add a bottleneck to the connection, slowing down Google while letting other sites through at full speed. One might also notice that Verizon and Yahoo! launched a co-branded DSL service last August. Coincidence?

Anyway, let’s go through a little thought experiment, shall we?

  1. Google refuses to pay Verizon for its bandwidth.
  2. Verizon starts capping bandwidth for Google traffic.
  3. Verizon customers notice that Google is slower, and that Google is snappy on their friend’s cable modem.
  4. Cable modem commericals tout great performance on “the sites most used on the Internet, such as Google.”
  5. Over time, Verizon loses customers because the most well-known and most-used site doesn’t perform well.
  6. Verizon eats their words and lifts the cap.

In the end, Google doesn’t pay anything extra, most users don’t care that anything happened but are subtly repelled by Verizon, and Verizon wastes money on implementing and maintaining a lot of routers that now have to filter everything and hold onto packets for longer.

I for one am not worried about anything coming of this.