Friday, April 28, 2006

Bittersweet Symphony

What is it about seeing people for the last time that seems so... surreal? Most of the time you are around each other and you take it for granted. Until it sinks in that you are 99.999% likely to never, ever, ever see each other again. And all you can think of saying is, "bye have a nice... uh… life?" There's something inside me that screams no to this, every single time.

Today ICF wrapped up the year with a barbeque, where we played volleyball, ate food, frisbee’d, and hung out. Also, today my Chinese class ended, and we all ate at lunch together at “The Big Bowl" where we ordered our food in Chinese (couldn't even do that right).

Dispense with the niceties, Marston, get to the point

My dear friends... I love them so much but so many of them do not know Jesus. I ache selfishly because I am never going to see them again. But if they do not know Jesus, I don't even have the comfort I have with my brothers and sisters in Christ that parting is not eternal. Some of them I have told the gospel of Jesus Christ to very clearly, and some of them are going to Bible studies with Ed and Ellen. But with some of them, especially in my Chinese class friends (my fantastic professor, my friends Eduardo, and Minjoo, Jack and Alice, Sachie, Tony, and too many more to list) there were many times when I knew I was a coward and I should have spoken up about how wonderful Christ is, and how much we need him. But I just shut up because I was afraid of that awkward silence that always seems to follow when you mention Jesus' name. Besides that, I'm not always a great ambassador for Christ. I'm often loud and obnoxious and only think about myself.

May the merciful God forgive not just me my cowardice, but forgive them my cowardice as well and not hold my sin and self centeredness against them, precious friends, but use better men to show them His grace, and love them into the Kingdom.

The beginning of the end

Have a Verve song playing on repeat in my head right now. What's it called... I forget... you know, with the violins going "na na na nu-uh-uh, uh-uh-uh, uh-uh-uhhhhh, na na na nu-uh-uh-uh" 'cause it's a bittersweet symphony...'

It is finally starting to sink in that I'm gonna be leaving this place.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A short musing about grammar

Have you ever wondered why most Japanese people have such a hard time distinguishing between r's and l's when the difference is so obvious to our own ears?

Learning a new language has taught me some interesting things. Our brains are built to be efficient - we learn to process important information quickly and discard information that we don't deem critical. Japanese people have a hard time hearing the difference between r's and l's because when they listen to these sounds their brains have been streamlined to listen for a different set of parameters than ours, and for efficiency their listening parameters don't distinguish between these two sounds. In the same way, we do not have ears attuned to listening for tonal distinctions in normal conversation. We can distinguish tones, but to us they are a means of conveying emotion, emphasis, or melody, not direct meaning. The frustration you may feel with your friend who continually calls you "Rewis" instead of "Lewis" might be akin to the exasperation a Chinese person feels when you pronounce his last name ma1 (mom) instead of ma3 (horse).

What does this have to do with grammar? For the first time ever, I realized I titled my blog "inkandpaint" not "Inkandpaint." You grammar fiends and NSA graduates probably picked up on this the first time around, because this is what you do best. But in my defence, my brain has been streamlined to work more efficiently with computers and paintbrushes, not periods and capitals.

(Alas, would my triviumed highschool instructors disown me for that last comment?)


1) Josh and Paula rock
2) I *gasp* finally started writing my thesis
3) Twas furnished w/a list of music "guaranteed to make my chest hair blossom" so I might be heading to the record store sometime soon.
3) More pictures from last summer (got to dust off that camera o' mine)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

He Ping (peace)

Long (dragon)

Monday, April 17, 2006

against the audio industry

Once upon a time I wanted to make amplifiers, or make microphones, and do the cool audiophile thing. I came to Penn State Acoustics. I was initially disappointed upon discovering this program focused on physical acoustics.

Thank God. Really. I am discovering you could reduce all motive force behind the audio industry down to 2 things: arrogance and money. The second is a no-brainer. Do the least amount of work possible to make as much money as you can. It's the way most businesses work. But it is the arrogance that bothers me. People get so pissed off at eachother for the dumbest reasons.

For example: today a professional sound engineer came to speak to the acoustics department about the history of analog tape recording. He broke taboos left and right. "Special people sense sounds up to 50 kHz" "the type of cable you use makes a difference in audio quality" "Digital audio sounds crappy, unless you use 192 kHz sampling and 24 bit resolution" etc. I could see everyone (including me) bristle in their seats. It was pretty clear which side this man took on the life or death "analog vs. digital" debate. He had built up so much of his career around selling these illusions, and placing himself among the "golden eared" elite that can tell the difference between using Monster cables and Radio-shack cables.

It took me about 2 hours to realized that I was doing the exact same thing he was. I knew all this nonsense was gonna come up before I even went to the lecture. The second I saw the picture of the analog tape machine on the flyer for the talk, I thought to myself, "aha! Another opportunity to feel superior to the fellas who believe these audiophile myths."

huh, I guess this isn't a rant "against the audio industry." As I'm typing this I've come to a different conclusion: we all suck and really need Jesus. Praise God that, like we have recently recognized, he humbled himself for us and didn't get ruffled over the stupid things we do. Instead, he

"did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross"

Thursday, April 13, 2006


So, uh, this is why I haven't been getting much sleep recently. But we just tested it and it worked gorgeously!!

Top set
1: Glider w/my probe mounted
2: My advisor and the glider pilot
3: The glider being towed out

Bottom set
1: My probe. The thing sticking out is a $1000+ microphone, and the latex on the sides covers a bunch of smaller microphones mounted in the side of the tube.
2: (Inside of the glider) The diagonal thing poking in from the upper right corner is the bottom half of the probe, and the cables go my extra-crammed home-brew amplifier box on the far left w/the cables sticking out. These go into the GX recorder (under the blue foam) which costs about $25000. I'm scared to drop it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Intelligent designer vs. intelligent artist

I've been hearing a lot of I.D. knocking. Not just by the PSU newspaper but also by professors and lab workers that I have a lot of respect for. The most common argument I hear against intelligent design, more or less resembles the following:

"What kind of moron creator would make a penguin. I mean they're stupid, flightless, have a high mortality rate, and a beer-belly. Talk about a poster child for evolution..."

I hear many of these examples of "bad designs" in nature. Ok folks. I earn my bread designing. That is what I do: I design codes, I design circuits, I design machines. Firsthand I know that whether a design is "good" or "bad" doesn't depend on the thing itself, but how well it fulfills the purpose for which it was created. If an engineer designs a great microphone preamp, but Joe Shmoe walks by and says "gosh, what kind of idiot would have made an amplifier that can't drive my home-stereo" then who is the dumb one? Again, suppose an archaeologist 300 years in the future digs up a fork and says "what kind of lame designer would make a comb shaped like this" then who is the dumb one?

The assumption that the designer must have been unintelligent because the design doesn't meet your criteria is arrogant, just like Joe Schmoe or the archaeologist. The common assumption that people make when evaluating the "successfulness" of a natural design is performance -how well does the animal survive. If survival of the fittest is your design criteria, then probably many species would flunk (penguin possibly being one).

But to assume the designer had survival of the fittest in mind when designing is a tuh-RAG-ic error. If God had the aesthetic mind-set we ascribe to him when evaluating his creation, this would be a bleak planet indeed. Can you imagine a planet in which everything was designed for maximum performance?? If not, imagine if WE had this mindset. We would all be eating health pellets inside grey perfectly cubicle, un-ornamented steel reinforced, styrofoam insulated houses, and as we drive to work in the morning we would pass the "aged and malfunctioning unit" disposal plants.

But fortunately my God is an artist that makes amazingly gorgeous animals like leopards, funny animals like penguins, strange animals like naked mole rats, and wisely made the fruit-fly 90% inefficient.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Here... couldn't sleep last night so I picked up my long neglected pen. The black blob on the octopus thing wasn't on purpose

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I'm not at home eating dinner

Ok, so I haven't gotten new art done recently, its all been old stuff, so there's something new for you. Sure you're really thrilled.

Top) The guy driving the car is my advisor, the guy in the back pushing buttons is me, and the weird thing sticking out of the roof is the piece of equipment we are gonna mount on a glider, so these guys at Nasa who botched the first noise measuring attempt will have a good idea of the actual flow noise of the glider.

Bottom) Frustrations: there is a weird poky thing in the blue curve at about 43 hz that isn't supposed to be there. :(

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


So, I'm a grader this semester and I have a question for you all: (all 3 or 4)

In the event that a student gives an answer that is obviously rediculous, is it inappropriate to call their results "garbage"?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Another Christmas Card

Another, from days of old. I used gold ink which is why there is some glittery looking stuff. It was my first attempt at this semi-asian style