Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Earlier this week, I made tabouli. It tastes like home, that is, deliciousness. I tried to photograph it, but the light in my kitchen is too dim. And I didn't want to be that weird roommate who lights her food and photographs it before eating it.

My street is still unplowed! It is apparently too minor to deserve attention from a streetplow, or perhaps its confounding one-way direction changes are too difficult. The sidewalk is also unplowed, so each tiny portion is as clean as the residents of the adjacent house deign to shovel it.
This provides for an amusingly uneven walk up and down the street. Thus did I trek through the snow to get groceries. I was suckered in to buying this tea, for its excellent package design. I love green.

Headed home later this week. Delightful. I don't have any exams, but I am waiting for my students to take their exam so that I can grade it.

In that spirit, this post's theme song is "This is not over yet," from Parade.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The most wonderful time

Snow! It started on Friday and hasn't stopped since. Fabulous.

Yesterday I ran out of certain groceries (butter, yogurt, cheese, any vegetable except onions, my favorite tea), but this morning I made a brief foray onto campus that convinced me I could go another day without trekking to a grocery store.

I chose to walk in the streets, braving the one-foot-deep snowdrifts there (rather than the two- to three-foot-deep ones on the sidewalks). Arriving on campus covered in snow up to my knees, and with a decent powdering of snow on my hat, shoulders, hair, and gloves, I was a new abominable snowman, much smaller and more hobbit-like. And cheerful. The librarian who checked out my books seemed quite astonished that I should be so exhilarated at the prospect of windburn, frostbite, and wet miserableness. The priest thanked us for making it to church. The people at the gym seemed incredulous that anyone would show up.

(On windburn: I am seriously considering wearing my ski goggles whenever I leave the house. I get wicked windburn on any exposed skin, and even with a hat and scarf, there is a horizontal line of pink windburn across my face. Every day for the past three weeks. My housemates and co-grad students have assured me that this will mark me as a lunatic to passers-by. But a less windburned lunatic.)

Apparently Toronto's snow plow drivers don't work early on Sunday mornings. Or Sunday afternoons. Or Sunday evenings, to judge by the street in front of my house. I tried to take a picture of it, but my aging digital camera just rendered it as all white. Instead, I offer you a picture of my front porch. I like how the snow accumulates on surfaces, exaggerating their height and visual interest.

The expedition to campus resulted in disillusionment (along with very wet jeans and cold hands). My hike to obtain groceries was thus delayed for a day. Today I ate a cheese-less tofu/onion omelette. I would not recommend it. (Omelettes need cheese, like everything does -- to paraphrase the Matrix line.)

Despite this culinary inconvenience, I like snow. Perhaps when I next move, it will be further north still. There doesn't seem to be much north of here in Canada, but I could move to Iceland. Or something. Suggestions are welcome.

This post's featured word: gallimaufry, "a confused jumble or medley of things." Reminds me of Gallifrey.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just say "no" to drugs

Say "no" to drugs... and embrace endorphins instead! I personally vouch for their awesome nature.

This post's theme song: "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Battlestar Galactica "Razor"

We blue-eyed siblings liveblogged "Razor," the two-hour Battlestar Galactica movie(?). I thought it was the season premiere, but it turns out that season 4 (the final season) isn't being aired until MARCH. Outrageous.

The entire thing basically reinforces my theory that Cylons killed all the writers sometime early in season 3, and replaced them with 15-year-old girls.

One of the reasons I came home for American Thanksgiving (not a holiday in Canada) was to see "Razor." My apartment doesn't have cable. This movie convinced me that I'm still not missing anything.

This post's theme target of sci-fi exploitation: robots.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Right where I need to be

Since arriving alone in this foreign land (O, Canada!), I have frequently doubted myself. In the spirit of “fake it ‘til you make it,” I embraced my new life with confidence, or the best approximation I could rustle up. I have never done anything like this in my life – not just graduate school, which is of course new, but living off-campus, grocery shopping and preparing food for just myself, existing in the real world.

Of course, graduate school is not the real world. But it’s the closest I’ve ever been, so indulge me in my drama! Although I rarely venture out of my academic shell, I do spend about an hour every day reading the news (Slashdot, Boing Boing, my friends’ blogs, and occasionally the real news), so I have an increasingly good view of [my small corner of] the real world.

G likes to remind me that is what I chose for myself, and although she means “how wonderful that you get to live your life as you want!”, every time she says it I hear an undercurrent of “don't be dissatisfied!” Both those messages are worthwhile, since I could leave at any point if I realized that graduate school, or my current way of life, or even this looney country are not what I want to do. So it’s important for me to remember that I’m in control. That said, I have been living mostly alone, mostly in my own head, much like L, and like C I am slightly wistful for the society I am missing, though not enough to make me leave graduate school for anything else.

Could I even meet the right kind of people elsewhere? A while ago I exclamatorily wrote, “I found my people!” upon discovering a group of graduate students who meet once a week to play board games. (I am a strategy fiend, and live for the kind of 12-hour-long, friendship-ruining games like Diplomacy.) Unfortunately we seem to have stopped meeting since the semester’s work began in earnest, sending us scuttling back into our offices.

Luckily for me, I was bold enough to blindly email my entire department and get a four-person team to compete in last weekend’s College Puzzle Challenge, an “an annual puzzle-solving competition held simultaneously on college campuses across North America.” It’s a twelve-hour nerdfest, with staggered release of packets of devilishly obscure puzzles. (And no instructions. They are for the weak.) I found my people again! It turns out that, much like X-men, the Incredibles, or heroes, sarcastic, hilarious math and CS nerds are all around us. They keep their abilities hidden to avoid ostracism/exploitation/genocide/your-favorite-sci-fi-disaster-here.

The puzzles were difficult, and my team didn’t pick up steam until the final three or four hours, but it was still lots of fun, and made me happy. I have been laughing to myself intermittently since then, something I hadn’t done in a long while.

In sum: it’s good to be me, everything about my life is perfect, and I love what I’m doing! Now back to the grindstone.

This post’s theme song: the eponymous Gary Allan song.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


A week ago, I moved into my new, permanent, livable apartment. A huge thanks to my parents for driving my stuff here (thus clearing out their garage) and helping to move, paint, and furnish my room. For the first time in four months, I am not living out of a suitcase. Hooray! Now that I have my “Lila nest” – all my books, puzzles, clothes, electronics – I feel much more… well, human. Much more Lila.

To help you understand my relief at moving, I’ve prepared a little compare/contrast for you:

Before, I was living with smokers, drug dealers, and squatters in a 15-(plus squatters) person house in a neighborhood overrun by fraternities. There were loud parties at my house, or at least audible from it, every week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The house was filthy, and no amount of personal effort could counteract the grime-tending apathy of my housemates. On the corner of the block was a Christian Science church, and two blocks away was the Bata Shoe Museum. Not at all my style.

Now, I am living with grad students in a four-person house in a residential area with families and small kids. It’s quiet, even on Halloween with the street full of trick-or-treaters (and one adult chaperone playing the bagpipe – an inexplicable but uplifting thing to pass on the way home). The house is reasonably clean, within the tolerances of my OCD tendencies. On the corner of the block is a bakery (delicious). I am two blocks from a street of electronics stores. Also nearby are Chinatown, Kensington Market, and the Toronto Public Library’s science fiction/fantasy collection. Much more Lila.

This post's theme song: "Making a Home" from "March of the Falsettos."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hello, world!

Hello! Welcome to Lila Prime. I’m your host, Lila, an American computer science graduate student in Canada. That is my context. This is my text:

My blag is not normal. I am reticent and generally unfriendly towards strangers. I am also suspicious of releasing personal information online. And, finally, I feel pity for future historians: present historians spend hours poring over a single page of a manuscript preserved from the past. Imagine the enormous task that the internet presents to future historians!

So, why write a blog at all? I intend this to be a way for me to disseminate recent news about my life to my friends and familiy without having to notify them individually. This is a pull- rather than push-content method of delivery: those who are interested have access, and everyone else is spared the spam. (If you are an interested stranger, I obviously cannot prevent you from reading this content. But I can express my disgust: yeeeuch! Please go away.)

The title “Lila Prime” is intentionally rife with meaning. Primarily, of course, “Lila, prime.” should connote in the reader’s mind the idea that Lila is of superior grade, the first in rank, at the best stage. “Prime” is, of course, the mathematical notation for something derivative, so “Lila’” has similar meaning to “Lila 2.0.” For me, both of these connote “Lila is an adult now,” which is another possible reading of “prime” – a period of maturity. Here among graduate students, I can no longer realistically call myself a “kid.” This “prime” of my life will also hopefully be my most productive and prosperous period. And finally, “Lila: prime!” is an exclamation of my indivisibility by anything other than one and myself.

This post's featured song: "Positive-Definite Non-Degenerate Symmetric Bilinear Forms". Can you correctly cite this song?