Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Organizing papers

I am looking for a way to organize the academic papers that have, over the past year or so, accumulated in big snowdrifts across my desk and shelves. A digital way. I can store them - as my advisor does - in filing cabinets alphabetically by author, but this is less searchable than I'd like. What I really want is some kind of already-customized personal wiki that I can use to store pdf/dvi files of papers, along with some metadata, like a short, searchable summary: title, authors, year, publication name, and maybe my own summary of the results and usefulness of the paper. Enough to remind me of reading the paper, and in a format that is easily searchable.

A private wiki seems to reasonably satisfy my requirements. In a wiki, I could cross-link articles that cite each other, and even do fancier things like have a page where I list all the claims in my M. Sc. research paper and link to the pages for their citations.

Does such software exist? I am surely not the first academic to need and think of such a thing.

I looked at Bibsonomy, but it is not quite what I have in mind. I don't need a social site, or even an online service. Ideally, it would be private and I could maintain it on my own.

This post's theme comic:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Presenting research

I don't like presenting my research. Not because it's unpleasant, but because I psych myself out beforehand and then shake during the presentation. I thought that stage-fright was supposed to decrease with age.

I'm not shy. I think I just fear being judged on something that I really care about. I like my research and want it to be good, accessible, and accepted. I am a decent public speaker, too, I just clam up when I have to present math/CS -- it involves thinking hard while also making a coherent presentation. I just need more practice.

Next presentation? In 15 days.

This post's theme cartoon:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tye-dyed flowers

The boy bought me some cute flowers that were brightly colored by feeding them food coloring. This had an interesting effect on the water. As the dye leached out, it left behind white flowers. The yellow ones were naturally yellow, and the rest seem to have been white flowers dyed orange, pink, purple, and blue.

This post's theme word: pleach, "to interlace branches or vines to make a hedge, decorative shape, arbor, etc."


Last week I cleaned up my room and reorganized my bookshelf. I love order and tidiness.
This post's theme word: cadastral, "Of or relating to a map or survey showing property lines, boundaries, etc."

Easter cake

I made a rainbow cake for Easter. I got the idea here.Lots of bowls were necessary to mix the colors.Cake in the pan. As you can see, the rainbow is pastel (not as bright as possible) and a bit misshapen. A crooked rainbow.Chocolate frosting, chocolate chips. I cut open the cake to get a layer of frosting across the middle. This cake celebrated many things, including the conclusion of my no-chocolate Lent 2009.

This post's theme word: eclogue, "a pastoral poem."

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Graffiti in the bathroom at James Joyce:
They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
Divinity within them breeding wings
Wherewith to scorn the Earth.
- Milton
A very pleasant thing to read. And underneath? A string of curse words in sharpie, along with some nice and some not-so-nice comments about mothers.

This post's theme word: cacography, "bad handwriting."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Composite conversation

A composite conversation partly due to R., had by many people through cut-and-paste, quotes, and the magic of the international intertubes:
A: "Where did you find the forks? They must have been hidden?"
B: "Yeah, they were hidden in a box that said 'FORKS'."
C: "Very surreptitiously hidden, too. That is the last place I'd look for them, because I would guess that it contains a booby-trap to catch other fork-seekers in order to thin the population of competition for the scarce fork resources."
Just trying to lighten a day otherwise full of very seriously-executed internet jokes.

This post's theme word: gudgeon, either "a gullible person; bait" or "a pivot, usually made of metal, at the end of a beam, axle, etc., on which a wheel or a similar device turns."

UPDATE: Eloquent commentary on April Fool's Day from Penny Arcade. Every so often, their text reads as exquisite poetry.
April Fool's Day is the refuge of villains, a sunken hole muggy with geothermal sweat. As a myconic parody of the lush, sun-drenched Earth, new horrors are forever birthed in its perfect darkness.