Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vacation highlights

Vacation is a few days over, and I've been back to work. My last post of the year will be how my brain works: all the referential highlights, with none of the downtime buffer between. I love my family. Today, the last day of 2008, is one second longer than a normal day! (It has a leap second added.) So go enjoy your extra second of new year's eve party!

My vacation, montage-style:

Exchanging the lock on a bag of M&Ms, since it was too narrow for both of us to fit our hands in at once.

A simulated depth-first search with some interesting vertices. Kingsly.

Death by chocolate. Semi-literally. So much chocolate, ice cream, candy, and souffle that I felt a little sick. More than once.

"In order to understand recursion, you must first understand recursion."

"Mennonite ankle porn" and learning Japanese from anime. "Take anything you want! Leave me my life!" あぶない!にんじゃです。Thereafter, nearly everything was declared あぶない.

Delighted by ducklings.

"Safari action adventure Lila"

Pandora (which I've now set up to work from Canada). Listen to this song, it's amazing.

It's so hard to find a really snootily-educated man these days.

"E., Mom's worried about something in particular. But I'm just worried. About curtains, about the bed, about gravity..." (Note: his room has increased gravity. For training purposes.)

A stray lawn dart killed my only bunny. Twice.

While giving a back massage, E.: "It's like your shoulders are reinforced!"

This island.

Benjamin Button? Not as good as watching Atonement for the third time in 24 hours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ithacan holiday

I spent this morning reading about bryozoa and siphonophora (so cool!), and yesterday's front-page headline in the local paper was, "Weather doesn't dampen rutabaga contest." You just can't make stuff like that up. This afternoon I have to do some real work on ongoing projects, but now that other people are awake, I'm headed to the gym.

This post's theme word: thalassic, "relating to the sea."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Noteworthy scientific research

I love the scientific method in all its wonderful applications.

Noteworthy research of late? Well, octopodes have no personalities. But the good news is that they like HD TV!

And have you heard about the cutting-edge research happening now to answer that age-old question: do sharks like Christmas music?

I just don't understand all this recent talk about money for fundamental scientific research (like this!) being cut because of "the economy." Knowing that octopodes prefer to see HD video, or that sharks like Christmas pop songs, is vitally important to my life; merely reading about it has completely brightened my outlook! (Not sarcasm!) Wow, do I love science. Even if scientists sometimes bicker.

(Both via Slashdot.)

This post's theme word: internecine, "conflict within a group/organization." As in, the internecine science conflict between physicists and computer scientists. Or biologists and chemists. Or whatever. In the end, it's us against the literature students.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Easy wind and downy flake

The weather here is excellent, lacking only in people (snowball targets). Canadians have gone home, and all the international students who are staying are griping about the weather. I have to go back to the office later tonight to gather the truckload of material that I'm taking home with me, and the only complaint I have is this: the city of Toronto has no idea how to deal with snow. Main streets are a few inches deep in it, and secondary streets have a completely unplowed 6 or so inches. I wish my office had a window, so I could have watched the streets fill up with snow.

This post's theme word: flocculent, "having fluffy character or appearance."

Monday, December 15, 2008


{\sc Yes, I am trying to finish my thesis now. This week. Thanks for all your good wishes, but every time you ask me about it, another grain of stress is added to the pile I'm lugging around with me. So please just rest assured that I am working hard, and you will certainly hear the jubilant shouts -- followed by silence as I catch up on sleep -- when I'm done.}

This post's theme word: boustrophedon, "a method of writing in which lines alternate left-to-right and right-to-left."

Pumpkin pies

I baked some pumpkin pies for American Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. One of them was accidentally more vegan than intended (though still not at all vegan). They were both delicious.

This post's featured word: macadamize, "to pave with gravel." I remember the meaning by visualizing a road paved in macadamia nuts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Healthy nachos

These were visually pleasing, so I photographed them.They were gustatorily pleasing, too.

This post's featured word: thurible, "a censer."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My discomfort with blogging

My discomfort with blogging is waxing. Why? It's so public. But I certainly knew that when I started.

This post's theme word: coprolite, "fossilized excrement." The internet is full of it... you have betrayed me for the last time, Google.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Just overheard from the next room: "Ok. Dishes. Ow. What?!"

This post's theme word: hyaloid, "transparent; glassy."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wendy and Lucy

Postpostpre recommends Wendy and Lucy. Postpostpre is never wrong, but in case you have any doubt, the NYTimes review is here, and includes the following:

“Wendy and Lucy” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some swearing, a little drug use and a brief implication of violence, but no nudity, sex or murder. The rating seems to reflect, above all, an impulse to protect children from learning that people are lonely and that life can be hard.

We should protect children from that. Also, adults.

This post's theme word: homiletic, "to do with preaching."

Monday, December 8, 2008

No light propitious shone

I awoke from overheating 30 minutes before my alarm, to the dulcet tones of Crazy Lady swearing through the wall and the heartening sight of ample snow falling on the pre-dawn street. William Cowper's "The Castaway" was running through my head, but I could only remember the first and last stanzas, so I'm printing it out to memorize at the gym this morning.

This post's theme word: logy, "lethargic, groggy."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In which I wish gchat were real life

If I could only be physically present with all my gchat co-existers, I would be in a room with the most awesome people all the time, from all over the world. My gchat list reads like a dream team of the best party I could think of... and between us, someone is always awake and logged-in. So there's always someone available for solace.

This post's theme word is locum, "a person filling in for another, especially a doctor or clergyman." Modern conveniences like gchat provide locums at any locus.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


It's Saturday, it's snowing, and I am happy.

Yesterday was 4 hours of office hours, and board games, and finding the Madison, and three sets of quite enthusiastic guitar-playing. Today is laundry and swim practice and finishing the write-up of the formal theory we're calling VMod2L. And then some more socializing.

This post's theme word: bawd, "prostitute." No one playing Scrabble yesterday knew it, but by the time it was my turn, that place on the board had been taken. When I go home I intend to play Dictionary, and revel in the expansive collective family vocabulary.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Research meeting debriefing

I have this experience approximately once a week:

A meeting approaches. I dread it, I feel confused and unprepared. I briefly consider dropping out of grad school to professionally serve fries or perhaps tutor rich kids.

The meeting happens. I leave the meeting with enthusiasm and newfound understanding. Life is suddenly full of delicious opportunities.

Someday, I want to be the kind of advisor that inspires students this way. (And maybe I'll be lucky enough to have students who are more competent grad students than I am now.)

This post's theme word: quiddity, "the essence of someone/something," or "a trifling." It has the nice property of having two meanings, and serving as its own opposite.

Where is everyone?

Usually by this time the office is full of grad students; right now there are only four, counting me. Where is everyone? Is today a holiday that I don't know about?

I'm not complaining. The quiet and lack of interruptions means that I've been fairly productive with a minimal amount of stress.

And yet... deadlines loom. Thesis!

This post's theme word: sciolist, "dabbler; an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge."