Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blue thinks green

Taken at Blue Mountain, for obvious reasons.
This post's theme word: nictitate, "wink."

Hugo nominees 2009

I'm trying to read all the nominees and think about them. It will probably be some time before the retroblogging project achieves the goal of posting thoughts on all these.

Best novel:

  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross
  • Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
Best novella:

  • “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress
  • “The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay
  • “The Tear” by Ian McDonald
  • “True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow
  • “Truth” by Robert Reed
Best novelette:
  • “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick
  • “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel
  • “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner
  • “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear
Best short story:
  • “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
  • “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick
  • “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
  • “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick

A nice collection. I've read Anathem and Zoe's Tale before, as I am a longtime fan of the authors, and the timing of publication and my own free money/leisure time synchronized. I look forward to the others.

This post's theme word is effulgent, "radiant" or "brightly shining." May all the nominees prove to be effulgent reads!

Monday, March 23, 2009

"You are nominated for a Ph. D."

That's the promising title of an email I found in my inbox this morning. Unfortunately, it was spam:
WHAT A GREAT IDEA! We provide a concept that will allow anyone with sufficient work experience to obtain a fully verifiable University Degree. Bachelors, Masters or even a Doctorate.
Maybe I'm going about this all wrong -- years of work, supervision, and learning. All wrong! I could be earning money at "work experience" and also inching closer to a doctorate!

Today I signed more paperwork and received an assignment from one of the department secretaries: assemble my Ph. D. committee. I have to have an oral exam soon. Yikes.

This post's theme word: maugre/mauger, "in spite of." It's a preposition, as in, "Mauger all the solicitous emails, I have decided to get a[nother] degree the hard way."

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Another food update:

I tried to make gnocchi yesterday, using the recipe that Hot Yam used a few weeks ago. It was very labor-intensive, even with R. helping (thanks!). And in the end, I discovered that I need a different kind of flour and a finer potato-masher to make them properly.

Now I have a lot of misshapen gnocchi in the fridge and freezer.

This post's theme word: argillacious, "clayey."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Raspberry-pear pie

I made another pie. In this picture, it looks like a certain trademarked silhouette of a cartoon mouse:

This post's theme word: haruspex, "a religious official who interprets omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals." I wonder if there's an analog for an official who interprets omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial vegetables.

Blood cells

Actually, the beginnings of nachos. But I used the nifty color-swap feature of my camera. Now I think it looks a little like those computer-enhanced, artificially-colored images of blood cells.

This post's theme word: viridity, "greenness."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pear pie

Earlier this week I received a free vat of sliced pear-date-cranberry mixture. So I bought some supplementary pears and made a pie. This is the pie before I put on the top crust:
I had to roll out the top crust more than the bottom to stretch it over the mound of deliciousness pictured here. My pie was more hemispherical than discoid.

D. described it: "I have seen birthday cakes smaller than this pie."

R. commented: "In your family, do you just make a pie larger than the volume of the smallest person?"

Before this year, I thought that everyone made pies this convex. I have learned that it is just my family. Everyone else makes flat little baby pies.

This post's theme word: gormandizer, "a greedy person."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Master of Science

This morning, after a long writing and revision period, my advisor (S.) declared my M. Sc. thesis research paper officially dead done. Whoopee. I am almost two months late on the departmental deadline (although I have been granted preemptive clemency), and I was feeling pretty unenthusiastic about finishing.

In talking about the broader scope of the project, S. commented, "This project turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be." Oh! Good, now I feel alright that I was so slow to iron out the details in writing. Then he picked up the document -- nearly 30 pages! -- and said, "It's hefty."

And *poof* I felt much better. Whoopee!

A while back, closer to the "real" departmental deadline for M. Sc. research papers, C. tagged me for his "wordle your thesis" meme. Wordle is cute, but easily manipulated. Given a bunch of text, it creates a "word cloud" of the most frequently-used words, with the more frequent words indicated by larger size.

The wordle of my research paper (pdf):

Even though wordle just uses frequency count, it conveys some meaningful information (not a lot). I like that you can tell, just from this word cloud, that my paper is about strings, functions, matrices, numbers, definitions, axioms and theory. I grabbed this text from the pdf, so some symbols didn't convey properly -- like \SigmaB.

The wordle of my research paper (LaTeX):

This tells you that I used a lot of mathcal, Sigma, vec, and wedge. It's cute that some of my own defined tags/symbols got such usage (parityL). In comparing the two word clouds, one can see that I have a very LaTeX-heavy paper: the actual words of the paper are crowded out of the top-150-most-frequent word count when LaTeX commands are included. "String," "matrix," "function," and "theorem" still survive, but look how large "mathcal" and "begin" and "end" are!

This post's featured quote, from S. upon reading the paperwork he has to complete:
Is 'transitioning' even a word?
His real paper dictionary from the '50s says that "transition" is a noun, with possible adjective form "transitional." There was no verb "to transition" in the '50s, apparently.