Monday, September 29, 2008

Whirlwind weekend

I finished moving, incremented my age by a year, visited Ikea, and hosted my extremely helpful and wonderful parents. I ate cake. I just spent most of my usual sleep-time awake, finishing unpacking (the apartment) and then turning around to repack (for Grace Hopper). Now I will sleep for a few hours, then awake and trek to the airport for my nonsensical series of flights.

Note: I will be reachable at my US cell phone number Monday - Saturday this week. I'm still accepting tardy happy birthday wishes.

This post's theme word: somnolent, "suggestive of drowsiness."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy birthday, Lila, Google!

O happy day! A cause for celebration!

This post's theme song: "Suppertime" from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." It's that level of enthusiastic.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I feel that my last post was rather negative and stressed, so I'd like to counter today. I spent from 5am-6am this morning listening to my through-the-wall neighbors have a shouting match/breakdown, ferociously angry, punctuated by full-body sobbing. Then, since my attempts at pillow-over-the-head were unsuccessful, I got up and found my earplugs, and went back to sleep.

I have a lot to be positive about, and am in general a positive person (dark sense of humor notwithstanding). Having passed the one-year warm-up mark, I find myself increasingly comfortable in academia, with the idea of independent research, and with the concepts and tools of my field. (And now I have a group of comfortable friends.) I am in good health, and (nearly) able to be as active as I want to be. My friends and family are also in good health, in good situations. I find myself happy with life and my position in it, though of course there's always that little apprehensive dread of what the future may bring. And I can remember the last time I was as upset, and distraught, and angry as my neighbor -- I was 14 or 15.

So life is good, happy, healthy, peaceful. Busy. Today is my birthday-eve, and I'm celebrating by going to my old house and packing my remaining belongings into boxes. Then I'll go to my lovely new apartment and sleep in preparation for a long day (parents, moving, Ikea) tomorrow.

This post's theme word: salubrious, "healthy."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

TGI... M/T/W?

I had a very exhausting weekend.

8-noon pack and move boxes of books, clothing, and some large furniture to new apartment (thanks to the heroic friends who turned up to help!); sprint to pool
noon-2 swim practice
2-5 more packing and moving, though slightly toned-down since by now I'm having trouble walking
5-8 go to Ikea, too tired to effectively find suitable windowshades
9 drop into bed already unconscious

8-3 unpack some things at new place, pack things at old place, move a little more; help roommate carry her boxes up the perilous fire escape into the apartment
3-5 another swim practice
6 drag myself to buy food, cook it, eat it, fall asleep

I was truly thankful for Monday to roll around, since it meant a reprieve from the gruelling swim practices. My new, noisier street has meant uneasy sleep (and strange dreams), and the first half of the week has flown by in a sore, tired daze. I wrote parts of this post on Sunday, intending to post it Monday, and you can see how that turned out. I need a break, but my bookshelf and several crates of books are lingering at my old place, and there's shopping to brace myself for this weekend.

Lots of projects and projectlets are moving forward; there's research and writing to do, games night #100 celebrations to plan, another teammate for the puzzle challenge to find, my parent's visit to anticipate, GHC (need to get cards, a finished résumé), my Canadian Thanksgiving trip, office hours and grading, ongoing knee therapy/care, and my birthday is Saturday. (Project Simplify update: I've sold two books online, posted several others, and assembled a pile of clothing to donate.) This is besides all the daily rituals and upkeep. I feel very busy. It will really help when I'm completely moved into the new apartment.

In the spirit of moving furniture, this post's theme word: antimacassar, "a small cloth placed over the backs or arms of chairs, or the head or cushions of a sofa, to prevent soiling of the permanent fabric."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knights and knaves puzzle variations

My guess is that nearly all my readers have heard the basic knights/knaves puzzle, but I have recently come across interesting modifications of the problem. (It took four -- count them! -- theory grad students to figure out the "challenge" below, and it is probably within ε (i.e., nigh) of murderously frustrating for non-mathematical laypeople.) I have not solved the last three, although two of them have solutions posted on Wikipedia.

As so often occurs in puzzles, you find yourself shipwrecked on an island. The population of this island can be partitioned into two groups: knights and knaves. Knights answer all questions truthfully; knaves always lie. While wandering, you come upon a building with two doors, each guarded by one native islander. You know that one of the doors leads to a pile of treasure, and the other leads to a hungry, man-eating lion. You may ask a single yes/no question to one of the guards. Then you must select a door, and meet your fortune/death.

Warm-up: If you know that exactly one of the guards is a knave and one is a knight, what question do you ask? This is the standard knights and knaves puzzle.

Challenge: If you know nothing about the distribution of the two islanders (maybe two knights, maybe two knaves, maybe one of each), what question do you ask?

Hard challenge: The island also contains some residents who reply at random. You happen upon three islanders, and know that there is one of each type (Knave, Knight, Random). You may ask three yes/no questions. (Each question can be addressed to only one of the islanders.) What do you ask in order to determine their identities?

Harder challenge: Same as the hard challenge, except that the islanders reply in their language, where {yes, no} = {foo, bar} but the exact correlation is unknown. Wikipedia lists this as "the hardest logic puzzle ever."


This post's theme word: ambisinister, "clumsy with both hands." Unfortunately, it does not mean that you are equally sinister with both sides of your body.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IDoS debriefing

It wasn't really that bad. I think I used up all my sadness over the weekend, and also in looking at apartments yesterday in the rain. Very wet, through my shoes to my socks.

Now life is renewed and delicious:
  • Happy birthday to M. and S.!
  • My new office is much better-positioned than my old one (people walk by, I am close to the lab, there is some distantly-accessible natural light), and my new officemate is either extremely considerate or afraid of me. Either way is fine.
  • The LHC has not yet destroyed the earth. (Check here to see if that's still true.)
  • In an overview yesterday, I determined that everything is going well and, in general, I'm in a happy and productive phase.

This post's theme word: boggify, "to make boggy."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

International Day of Sadness

Commemorating bad feelings experienced on this day, I declare it to be an International Day of Sadness.

My motivation is that one day a year, I should gather up all my sadness and regret and just get over it. Today is that day, a day for wallowing and self-pity. Tomorrow will be a new day. This date nicely coincides with the beginning of a new academic year almost everywhere (a little late for A., just about right for me, a little early for E.).

I had decided on this strange holiday a few months ago; I knew I'd probably feel bad today, and resolved at least to feel better tomorrow. Ever self-thwarting, my subconscious arranged it so that I awoke this morning feeling great. I am fairly certain that my stepped-up workout schedule is to blame for that; I am sore all over, and energetic, and sleeping well.

This post's theme word: roborant, "strengthening."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fall is...

Fall is... purple-painted people circling my building playing marching band songs. Loudly.
Fall is... beautiful weather.
Fall is... signing up for five different sports teams. (They think I'm a freshman.)
Fall is... engineering students exploding things outside my advisor's office during meetings.
L'automne est triste, avec sa bise et son brouillard.
Fall is... searching for a new apartment.

This post is dedicated to antennae and neighbors with unsecured wireless networks. Epizeuxis' antennae can pick up internet, though Quine can't even see any networks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Modest proposals

I love Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal," and recall reading many good imitation proposals. (I even wrote one in high school, though I can't remember the topics.) The Freakonomics blog posted An Immodest Proposal, solving the two problems of a money-needy government, and too much sexual activity (the article enumerates its various downsides).

What's your favorite modest proposal?

This post's theme word: louche, "of questionable character; dubious; disreputable."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh, be joyful!

I wonder if other people have moods as variable as mine. It is impossible for me to ever know, since I can't be other people; and even if I were, how then would I refer to my own moods?

This morning I crabbily awoke and ran several miles through beautiful early-morning weather, then lifted weights. My weaker knee kept up, and didn't complain too much. The work day has been productive, with a break in the middle for free lunch (at the cost of mentoring some incoming graduate students). I found out that I'm headed to a conference, and that my costs will be totally covered. Everything's coming up roses!

I've somehow just discovered a large online community of women researchers (grad students, recent PhDs, early- and mid-career academics) who also blog. Their thoughts are fascinating and validating.

Let's see if I can replicate the good parts of this day tomorrow.

This post's theme song: the eponymous song from "The Civil War."

Monday, September 1, 2008

A new year, a new project

Celebrations of the turnover from December to January ring a bit false. But today? Today is a new year that I can celebrate. It is the beginning of a new school year, which means something. Not just a changing of the calendar, but a new schedule, a new course to teach, new seminars to attend, new knowledge to absorb. The same thesis project to work on, but with new energy. Everything just seems new and shiny. The weather is perfect. The day of massive insect die-out (freeze, demonic mosquitoes!) is nigh.

Thus I begin a new project: Project Simplify.

Motivated by a sense of crowding generated by my own possessions, here begins a massive reduction of the things that I own, manage, and live with. They take up physical and mental space. I have to carry them, clean them, sort them, file them, index them, and keep track of where they are. Losing things drives me crazy, but I don't mind culling the herd. It will free up space, mental cycles, and time. (As an added bonus, my infrequent "what to wear?" deliberations will be made even scarcer.)

So my new year's resolution is to streamline everything. Clothing not worn in the past year (excluding, perhaps, special occasion clothing like formalwear and my corset/hoopskirt outfit) shall be sold or donated. Books I don't plan on rereading or using as reference material shall be sold or donated. Crates of old papers I'm saving as records shall be digitized, shredded and recycled. My goal is to be able to transport all of my living accoutrements, by myself, in a few trips. (Large pieces of furniture excepted.)

Abetting the completion of this project, today I am (once again) without internet at home. So posts here on the Lila Prime project will be dearer (only what my guilty conscience permits me to eke out here in my office), but Project Simplify shall benefit from that displaced time.

Today I went through a box of papers, and sold a book online. A good beginning.

This post's theme word: pleonexia, "excessive/insatiable covetousness."


I now receive physical spam from Greenpeace. This one arrived pre-highlighted. My family added the sarcastic "LEST YE TEMPT FATE." Since I received the mail long after the ten day deadline on the envelope, I guess I tempted fate. And probably the deaths of several whales lie on my shoulders. Sorry, whales! I know that whales probably read my blog, since whales are all over web 2.0.

This post's theme word: eleemosynary, "of, relating to, or dependent on charity."