5.11.2009

the end... for realz

Tough, silly, and chill,
Strike a balance to recall,
Another year passed.


Yeah, it's gone, alright. Hard to believe that a year ago today I'd already started my job at Google and moved to California, but a lot has changed since then. I'm pretty sure that I spent time last summer (and over the past school year) growing up... but not so much that I won't be excited to get water guns in the mail (thanks, Mom and Dad).

This last semester was dandy. I got cut a break from homework, but that left time to explore other interesting things; I'm getting really excited about logic programming and miniKanren, which was, incidentally, the PhD thesis project of one of my AIs this semester. He's trying to get me to convince the NLP people in Deutschland that they want to use it for their research. :)

I guess this is the part that I think about what I'll miss when I'm overseas this summer, but I don't really know what to say. I'm actually pretty terrified of the move. It's one thing to move across the country to California and meet up with someone I know there. It's an entirely different thing to move 7 timezones across an ocean to a country where I don't even speak the language and have never met in person anyone within 3 hours of where I'm living. It's scary!

But I suspect I would be denied the opportunity to expand myself if I didn't do things that terrified me once in a while. Skydiving was a blast! :P

So this is the last entry in this blog... I don't live next to 666 anymore, and I guess I'll miss it a little bit, at least. The painting we did was a lot of fun, but I learned some stuff about what kinds of people I can live with and what kinds I'm not so good at living with. Let's hope that Mathieu and Titilayo are the former. :)

(next posting will be on awesomehaus.blogspot.com)

5.06.2009

mail, the end

Now that I post this,
I expect letters. Is there
Greater joy than mail?

Well, probably. But there's nothing quite like opening a mailbox to see a real piece of paper with one's name on it. Evan and I started a game of chess by mail this semester (I don't remember if I mentioned this before?), and it's sort of tedious, but also lots of fun. :D

Anyway, my address for the summer:

Valkyrie Savage
Max-Planck-Stra├če 4 Building 20
64281 Dieburg
Germany

I think that's how it's written, anyway. Google maps can find it with that. :) And, yes, I am living on Max Planck Street.

I'm going to miss this blog a little bit, but I'm going to have a new one for the summer, which, hopefully, my roommate will write on, too. I'm expecting it to be at awesomehaus.blogspot.com (hat tip to Carlo). But I'll post a link for sure when I get it going.

I took my only final this morning: Calculus. There was one question that I messed up, but the rest of it felt okay, I think. We'll find out later this week. Eep!

What now? Paper, painting, packing. That's all. Then Germany!

5.04.2009

real life

We can't all live in
A real world. School is far from
It, but we come back.


Today brought my first visit to ye olde dentistry shoppe in nearly two years. Being in school makes it hard to actually do things like that, but it turned out alright. The only thing I was chided for was flossing too hard; I had some indentations in my gums that were caused by it.

I did get a prize, though, for being good. And some weird looks for getting a prize. (see photo)

I wonder what constitutes real life. I mean, I haven't really felt the recession due to being in school, but some real life responsibilities are there. I pay bills, I cook, I have to keep my house clean (and my roommates happy). But if college is supposed to prepare us for real life, then where is my 9 to 5? Where are the scads of money that I should be getting? Where is any sense of stability?

But soon will be a return to an even more real life: work! Hard to believe that my flight is a week from tomorrow! Harder, I'm sure, for my parents to believe. :) Especially since I have yet to get an address for where exactly I'm going...

Oof.

5.02.2009

narcissism and the greater good

Earthworms in puddles
Hapless victims of giants
But why were they there?

Almost every day this week it rained. It made for a fairly miserable time getting to class with a laptop, but it did give nice spans of time to ponder the great mysteries of life, like why the hell earthworms crawl across cement? I brought this up in conversation with a friend of mine. "You know, if you're an earthworm, and you were to find something that you couldn't dig through, why on earth (!) would you continue across it? It seems ridiculous!"

He commented, in a sarcasm-about-wisdom-hiding-actual-wisdom tone, that if no earthworms had done it, then they would only be in one spot. They are fighting for the greater good! Or perhaps they are emo earthworms. But the first sounds much more noble.





Christopher Columbus worm

Amelia Earhart worm
On the other hand, stories in Time and Newsweek recently began insisting that humans aren't really tending towards that sort of commitment to the species at large; we're becoming more and more enthralled with ourselves. Well, not humans in general, but the US, at least, is suffering from a "narcissism epidemic." Interesting. I wonder if all that teaching that little kids get about being a beautiful and unique snowflake is best summed up by Chuck Palahniuk: You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

Well, maybe putting it so bluntly isn't the right thing, either, but I can certainly see where psychologists might get inklings that people, especially my age, might be getting a bit big-headed. I have borne witness to many a student spending hours grooming his or her Facebook profile page to make it attractive to, you know, anyone who might visit. Such effort! And the fact that some employers and graduate schools now use Facebook to help make decisions on candidates sort of encourages that, too. I dunno... I'm not sure that I can subscribe to that. I know that I spend too much time on Facebook after my lenten resolution ended, but I think I'm doing a better job than a lot of people. Anyway, it's time for adventure. I have to put off thinking about this atomic theory paper for as long as possible.

4.27.2009

brief

So quickly pass days
Of sunshine and freedom, but
We can retain their joys.

I had the pleasure to spend this weekend with Evan, and what a weekend it was! I picked him up from the airport around midnight on Thursday, which was sort of an adventure in itself. I almost missed his landing due to the plane's being 20+ minutes earlier than originally expected. He had shared with me his plans to navigate the high seas of the AmeriCanadian arrspace in his pirate garb from last weekend, so I wore the closest approximation I had to such ridiculosity (which, sadly, is quite diminished from what it was when I had that trunk of costume stuff before the flood). I heard thudding footsteps racing down the hallway from the terminals. Who else could it be? I raced towards the passenger exit and leapt into the arms of the man in the black trenchcoat--thankfully Evan--, and we collided with a thud, much to the amusement/chagrin of lookers-on.

Let's see... our adventures... we spent Friday wandering campus/Bloomington climbing and eating many things. Moroccan food (Casa Blanca!) is obnoxiously tasty. My semi-experience in parkour helped me keep up, though the blood donation earlier this week slowed me down a little. Anyway, I'd spent some time on Wednesday and Thursday writing notes in places I thought Evan might climb, and I managed a pretty good success rate with the guessings.

Friday was also the day that we went to Columbus, which was pretty great. We borrowed a pair of bikes from my lovely roommate, Georgia, and took a quick tour de downtown. We hit the library, the Chihuly at the visitors' centre, the jail, city hall, the courthouse, the tower and tunnel in Mill Race, Eos, and the Ameritech Building, among other places. My dad made his derricious fish pizza, my mom made kringla, we watched a terrible movie (Don't Mess with the Zohan), and all was right with the world.

Saturday was the race! But drama first; Georgia, Evan, and I packed out of Columbus to hit up the farmers' market in Bloomington before parkour at noon. I managed to lock the keys in the car, so we had to find a random person whose cell phone we could borrow, then wait for my parents to come rescue us. :-/

Parkour was good times; the guys were excited to meet someone new, of course. We found some more of my notes, too, so good. ^__^ The weather for the race was gorgeous: sunny and warm. It was a little ridiculous that it was $20, payable only in cash, to get in, though. We managed to find a dollar from a nice man outside, since we were short.

Bunny Gamma came in 12th! Excellent! I was really proud of them. :D We ran into Georgia and Jeff at the race, too, and they provided us with one of, again, only two pictures that exist from our weekend together. I thought it came out cute. :P

After the race was tasty dinner of seared tuna (including V-shaped brands, thanks to a smart purchase by yours truly over spring break) with sesame seeds, rice with soy/sesame/vinegar sauce, and a salad with garbanzo beans, lime, chili powder, sunflower seeds, onions, tomatoes, and general delition, followed immediately by Flight of the Conchords! It was a good show, but too brief.

Then some nighttime parkour, which ended when I tried to scale a wall in my Converses (which, for those of you who may be unaware, are sadly lacking in traction) and fell 8 feet onto my wrist. It's not broken, but it hurt like a bitch. Anyway, I have a brace on that now. We followed that adventure with a bonfire party, including delicious s'mores.

Sunday was full of pancakes, fried plantains, X-rays, and a drive to the airport. The weekend wasn't as long as I might've liked, but we had teh funz. And now it's time to get serious about schoolwork, since this is the last week of classes! Woot!

4.23.2009

i like these

Shoots of green push up,
Split the ground, bring the spring, and
Make life look alive!

Happy Earth Day! I hope you all celebrated. I got a tree yesterday, a White Oak. It should grow up to be pretty spectacular; I'm giving it to my dad to plant out at the property that he and my mom recently bought. I hope they think of me when it grows up. ;)

One thing that I learned today that's neat: Bloomington makes people pay to have garbage collected. Recycling collection is free, but putting trash out necessitates the purchasing of $2 "trash stickers" at the supermarket, one per bag. I learned this in the course of signing my lease for next year, which I have to say I'm super excited about. Clawfoot tub, here I come!

Another thing today that I learned about and liked was Texas' recent threats of secession. C'mon, guys. I guess it brought an extra grin to my day, so I can't ask for much more, but...

4.21.2009

some oddities

College brings myst'ries,
The fog of knowledge obscures
The plain and simple.

We finally got our sink fixed. We've spent a couple weeks trying to fiddle with it ourselves, to no avail. Drano did nothing. Digging with spoons did nothing. Nothing did anything. So we filed a maintenance report and were treated to the message on our door (upon our return):

Replaced garbage disposal. Old one was clogged with penny.

Well, that's odd. We can't be throwing pennies down the drain in a recession! (Thanks to Georgia for that one :P) It seems like, despite education, we all still do dumb things sometimes. -___-

Other oddities... well, my arms look rather odd at the moment. Parkour over the weekend was pretty intense, and now it appears that I've taken a cheese grater to the inside surfaces of my limbs. That's what one gets for climbing things, I suppose.

Yesterday was 4/20, which, in a hippie town like Bloomington, has more connotations than "the day between 4/19 and 4/21." I guess this is a reasonable opportunity to make some comments about marijuana. Venus was writing a paper about legalizing it recently, and in talking to her about it I had some thoughts.

I know that California is considering legalizing marijuana; it's their state's most lucrative crop. If it were legalized, it could be taxed, and thereby their government could bail itself out of the massive hole it seems to be in. Not to mention that the United States has something like 25% of the world's prisoners. In fact, more than 1% of American adults are currently incarcerated. A large portion of those are due to drug misdemeanors. Legalizing marijuana would also cut down on that sort of nonsense; as a nation we gripe about having to spend so much for prisoners, blah, blah, blah, but maybe we're just interpreting illegality in the wrong way. And what is so harmful about marijuana? It's not an addictive substance. It doesn't impair any more drastically than alcohol or other already-legal substances (i.e. salvia). It's not doing any more harm to the air than tobacco smoke. There's a lot of stigma associated to it, though.

I was reading Time today when I came across an article about Amish romance novels. That's just odd in itself, and I don't really feel obligated to elaborate.

It's weird to think that the end of the term is so close. I can taste it! :D

4.18.2009

...i'm a math major

There's more of interest
Than what one learns in school. It
Is best to explore.

Well, I thought I was going to do my math homework, but it's about wedge products and differential forms, blah blah blah, so I determined that tea would make me do it. After making tea, I spent more time contemplating the vortices in the tea steam than doing the other stuff... *sigh*

4.16.2009

water/boarding

A sunny day brings
Hearty fun, college brings
A crazy mess. Heh.


One of the service fraternities on campus ran a fundraiser today: IU's biggest water balloon fight! It raised money for the March of Dimes, and, judging by the number of people I saw there, it was a lot. There were probably close to 300 people in Dunn meadow, it was $3 to get in, and there were 13,000 water balloons up for grabs. I think we took care of them all in about 5 minutes. Hehe. Too bad I didn't really have the foresight to, er, bring a change of clothes.

As alluded to in the post title, I've been thinking about boarding recently. I like to do math homework on boards, because it's easily erased, doesn't waste paper, etc., etc. People are of differing opinions on whether whiteboards or blackboards are superior. I guess, to be politically correct, I will call them "dry erase boards" and "chalkboards." But, anyway, I can't decide myself.

Dry erase boards are nice; you can project things onto them. If I need to work off of something that's on a computer screen, I just throw it up on a dry erase board and draw away. Erasing off of a dry erase board is nice, too. There's no chalky mess. Unfortunately, a casual swipe with the hand across a dry erase board will result in both awkward stains on the skin and damage to the board's surface, which leads to real difficulties in erasing later.

There is, however, a certain gravitas associated with anything written on a chalkboard. Think of all the great minds of the past that have derived mathematics and the sciences as we know them today using these great tools! Chalk in my hand feels somehow weightier and more serious than a dry erase marker ever could. It's nice to just brush a hand across a chalked error and correct it with none of the nonsense associated with dry erase markers.

I know that IUCS has gone and replaced almost all of its chalkboards with dry erase boards, but I also know that Dan Friedman rescued a chalkboard from a dumpster and had it hung in his office. It may contribute to great ideas, but it also probably has had a hand in lung ailments for several generations of grad students. :P

4.15.2009

chaos

A box of chaos,
Sits, unopened, mysterious,
The centre of town.

Back home in Columbus, there really is a box of Chaos just chillin' in downtown. Chaos used to be one of my favourite things about going to the Commons mall, but now it's being torn down and replaced by, what, a hotel, I think? Ridiculous. But I'm more interested in the draw of the Chaos box than whatever thing they're replacing it with.