Buy, trim, wrap, pack, chat,
Drive, snow, cook, eat, check, recheck,
You ready for this?

Well, Christmas is now two days away.  Titan is here for the holidays, and the tree finally got put up at home yesterday.  We had our family Christmas this morning.  I feel like my Christmas has been a little overshadowed by my efforts to prepare for Japan (speaking of which, my hair's purpleish now--http://picasaweb.google.com/VASavage/PurplePains#--I guess that bleach blonde + purple + purple + purple = brown with purple streaks?), so I'm trying to make up for it by being really spirited.  Cookies!  Elves!  Reindeer antlers! 

It's been good.  The roads are in awful condition, though.  It's a white Christmas!  The drive from Indianapolis to Joliet, which is normally ~3 hours, took 6-7 hours.  I think I topped out at 50, and that wasn't for very long.  Titan, Venus, and I saw 15 wrecks between Indy and mile marker 201 (normally about an hour away).  People got a little too crazy, and it was wicked slick.  We made it alright, though.  Just waiting for Mom and Dad to get in later tonight.  They left a few hours after us, and it seems like their going is even slower.

Japan plans are almost here!  I'm nervous that I've forgotten something in Columbus or Bloomington, but I've repacked my bag so many times I don't know how I could have.  I guess we'll find out for sure in THREE DAYS.  <3!



There's no place like home
For the holidays!  But I
Won't be here for long.

It's good to be home.  Finals done, hair cut, stress removed, bags packed, family visited, snow fallen, dogs walked.  It was worth the hard term to have this epic break.  I'm ridiculously excited about leaving on Friday.  But the time home is nice to have, too.  We visited family up in Chicago for a big pizza party ("oh, gosh!  I didn't recognize you with your short hair!"), I went to a party for Ryan's birthday, ("oh, gosh!  you look so good with short hair!"), and Titan came home ("oh, gosh!  you have short hair??").

:)  Can't wait!



It's gone for the cause,
And I don't miss it as much
As I thought I would.

My hair!  It's gone!  Lopped off!  Sent to Locks of Love!  I guess it's okay, though.  I don't mind as much as I figured I would...  11".  Hum.



A big test for all
The marbles?  Wait, who thought this
Was a good idea?

Yeah, I can't say I'm a huge fan of the idea of finals.  I haven't had any yet; mine are all today and tomorrow.  It's less than thrilling to think about sitting in a room for two hours and agonizing over the fact that those two hours contribute 40% of my grade.  Seriously, it's an awful idea.

On the plus side, finals week means that there's lots of free time (no homework or classes!) to make sure I see everyone before I shove off.  ^_____^

And Christmas shopping.  Ohhhh... that.


winding down

No homework, more fun!
'Cept there's neither snow nor sun.
Oh, Indiana.

What the hell is this winter thing here, anyway?  I've been living here for... what... wow, like, 12 years or something ridiculous, but anyway I still don't know what exactly the harbingers of winter are here.  Sometimes it's snow.  It snowed over the weekend (while I was fantastically ill), but it's all melted now.  This week it's been sort of... grey and rainy.  Ick.  Thanks, December.

I'm happy to be much better now, though.  I can do things like... breathe.  And... eat.  I was super excited yesterday night, actually; I was famished for the first time since I got sick.  Apparently mono kills your appetite?  But mine is back WITH A VENGEANCE.

I'm also happy to be done with all my homework for the term.  All that's left now is a couple exams and a little presentation.  WOOT.  ^_____^

And then.... Japan!



Just in time for my
Finals to start, just as it
Snows for once, I'm sick.

It *would* happen this way, wouldn't it?  Of course.  As Sean just told me today, everything I do is epic.

So on Tuesday, I went to the IU Health Center because my throat and neck were starting to feel... off.  Once my body starts to feel off, it usually gets very bad.  So I figured I should get it checked as soon as possible.  I guess I went too soon; they did a strep test and it came back negative.

As the week wore on, I started counting the number of lymph nodes I could see and feel in my neck.  It was pretty ridiculous.  They're still grotesquely swollen.  -___-  I felt worse and worse, my appetite went away, and I couldn't swallow without wincing.

Today I woke up after 12 hours of sleep and was still exhausted.  I could barely make myself drink a glass of milk for breakfast after not eating dinner yesterday, so I decided that I couldn't wait another day to go back to the health center, and I went instead to a place called PromptCare or something.  The glorious news that they had for me was not that I have strep, but that I have both strep and mono.  Awesome.  Just in time for finals, just as Japan is looming, and just as we get our first real snowfall that I'd want to go out and play in.  Ridiculous.



that time of year

It's that time of year,
When Christmas spirit pours from
Everywhere. And how!

It's been pretty amusing to watch the transformation in stores. Some started Christmas in October, and it seems like prices are getting slashed in anticipation of the holiday season even more rapidly this year, probably due to the fact that consumer spending is expected to drop dramatically. I just read an article in the New York Times about Saks Fifth Avenue and how they're cutting some of their prices up to 80% already. Amazing.

I haven't actually done any Christmas shopping yet, myself, but it's looking like a pretty easy season. The internet now offers more gifts than ever, and I have some extra time to spend making creative gifts (i.e. spending less money). :)

I was pretty excited today; I busted out my Jack Skellington earmuffs for the first time this season and got lots of compliments on them. :D Winter is a fun season to dress for, haha. I'm also excited because I was talking to one of the guys from Dresden who was on the CC team, and he has promised to send me a Christmas care package with more chocolate. What he wants in exchange is... barbecue sauce?

Classes are winding down, which is nice. One of my profs has canceled all his lectures for next week, and I had two classes with him, so that frees up my schedule a lot. I also won't be (I don't think) teaching the lab that I generally teach, since there won't be any new work to do. The only nagging thing for me now is calculus. It seems like that work never ends. I can't say that I'm terribly excited about Calc IV next semester, but we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll be learning a lot more; I feel like this term I didn't pick up a lot of new material from 311. Meh.

Oh, did you hear that "meh" was added to the dictionary? It's a very recent thing. I was pretty excited. :3

Anyway, that's about all for the moment. I have calculus to do!



Home again, am I?
Time to rest before finals,
But "resting" means "bored".
After crazy adventuring, there is always the glorious homecoming. Or something like it. I dunno, coming home to an empty apartment after two weeks of essentially nonstop excitement is a pretty massive letdown. But let's not dwell on the pres
We shall delve into the past!


So we won the Cluster Challenge! It was a fun competition. A lot of the other teams looked pretty good, but we knew what was what, and so we emerged victorious. :D This entitled each school to a plaque with a spiffy engraving, and we all got some kewl vests, etc., etc. The party that night was a lot of fun, too; the conference rented out an old west town (Star Hill Ranch, I think?), where there were square dancing lessons, a mechanical bull, campfire
s, a mariachi band...!

I think that we're going to ultimately write a paper about our experiences in the CC this year, which I imagine will, er, happen, as compared to the paper last year. That should be i

Planes, trains, and automobiles:

The Austin airport is pretty nice. There are nice leather chairs to sit in in some parts. It was there that I took my calculus e
xam. :o Then off to Indy's new airport (which is MUCH nicer than the old airport, except for the fact that none of the TSA people seem to know which doors set off alarms or how to shut off said alarms yet) for a delicious--and nutritious
--dinner of German chocolate bars. :P

The flight to Toronto was really awesome. I accidentally took the wrong seat and confused the hell out of the guy whose seat I took, but since I was already seated and
blocked in he said that it was ok for me to just stay there and he'd take my seat. "Too many planes, too little sleep," I explained lamely. But he didn't mind. My seatmate was a Mr. Steve Allen from the Toronto area. We had a really excellent chat about all things Canada, and he helped me practice saying things like "zed" and "washroom." Hahahaha.

The approach to the airport was amazing. The night was pristinely clear, and Toronto was laid out like an ADHD kid's Lite Brite board. There are random smatterings of hi
gh population density punctuating large swaths of near-emptiness. The CN tower looked awesome, though.

When I got to YYZ (why-w
hy-zed), I took my first trip through customs! It was sort of a joke, I have to say. "Wh
at are you here for?" "Visiting friends." "How long are you here?" "6 days." "Do you have anything that I should know about?" "No." "Welcome to Canada." I exchanged for Canadian money, which is super pretty. :) Not like our dull, green dollars, but a rainbow crying to be spent!

I navigated the st
range maze that followed customs, and I found Pat waiting for me. I guess Evan was in the bath-... er... washroom. Figures. :) But it was great to be greeted! Since I had had approximately 700 calories in the previous two days, I asked them to take me to dinner. So we took a quick tour of Waterloo in the dark, and I got an awesome falafel pita during the eati
ng of which I spent time choking on a piece of cucumber. But it was still delicious.

Waterloo I :

That night, I was totally exhausted, but who really needs sleep, anyway? Evan took me to the club right near his hotel where he knows some bouncers, Starlight (or -lite, maybe). We went with his friend A-Mac and his ex-girlfriend/now friend Juli, but we didn't really see them much. That night, he also took me for a somewhat longer tour of parts of Waterloo, mainly the Uptown Loop which goes through a park. It was snow covered! ^____^ It actually snowed
about half the days I was there, too, which was fantastic.

The next morning I got to see the "famed" farmers' market in St. Lawrence (I think). It was sweet! Way bigger than our farmers' market here in Bloomington, haha. We had
delicious maple syrup and bagels and samosas and fresh juice and... mmmmmmm.

Toronto :

Saturday afternoon found Evan and me combing the city for adventures. We made a stop at his parents' house (
which is totally awesome; his dad is an architect and h
is mother an interior designer, so it's an exquisitely planned industrial sort of complex that felt surprisingly really ho
mey) for clothes, first. Then we had a massive amount of food in a markety part of Toronto and swung on some swings. A stop through the AGO -- Art Gallery of Ontario -- was interesting; it was closing essentially 30 minutes after we showed
up, so it was a bit of a whirlwind visi
t. But totally worth it. Especially for the disco camper thing they had set up. :D

After that, dinner at Sushi on Bloor. FECKING DELICIOUS. We were so stuffed from all the previous food, though, that neither of us could even make it through our respective chirashi. Oof. Still, tasty. Then... oh! A thing put on by NewMindSpace wherein they intended to raise a strand of balloons and leds higher than the CN tower. It was effing cold, so we didn't stay the whole time, but w
e did end up on the webpage for it, which is
sweet. And we saw it go pretty high. Oh, and Evan's brother and his girlfriend joined us sometime before all those sh

THEN. The four of us took a drive down to the lakeshore to a club called Guvernment, where
we saw INFECTED MUSHROOM. It was totally tight! The laser light shows were ridiculously sweet (and expensiv
e, I'm sure), and the performance from the group was also AWESOME. So, it was really hot in the club, right? So how do they
solve that problem? Oh, they H
ROWD. It seems so obvious. Being lost in a chilly, refreshing cloud of recently-non-liquid nitrogen is exhilarating. :P

Oakville :

We all stayed in Evan and Neil's parents' house, and in the morning we at scrumptious pancakes with real Canadian maple syrup. Dericious! Evan gave me a tour of Oakville, including several sweeping views of Lake Ontario, and then it was back to Waterloo to do work.

Waterloo II :

We spent a lot of time, unfortunately, working while I was visiting. Last week was the last week of classes for my Canadian friends, so they of course had massive amounts of proje
cts and assignments to finish up and hand in. I had a crapton of stuff to do, too, that I had been shirking while not at school for the previous week. Anyway, I won't dwell on the working times. I did go to class with Evan a few times, and that was pretty fun. Their classes aren't much different from ours, I guess, except that they're bigger. And the people lecture with funnier accents. :P

Since there was snow, we had to engage in the trifecta of great Canadian sports: traybogganing, snowball fighting, and pushing other people onto their faces in snowbanks. It was good times. ^___^

What else? Oh, there was lots of good food to be had. In addition to all the interesting restaurants that I tried the
re (including one called, simply, Vegetarian Fast Food Restaurant), there were also a couple of epic cookings. Pat and Jeff and I created a Thanksgiving feast, which was
unspeakably delicious (and nutritious). Evan and I made some trout with eggplant and beans and lemon and soy sauce.... YUM.
Comments on Canada :

Bags of milk - they don't have jugs or cartons of milk, they have bags. These bags are inserte
d into pitchers when one desires to use them. I thought this was pretty much one of the funniest things ever, but they didn't see that it was.

Washrooms - not a restroom. Not a bathroom. A washroom.

Walk signs - their little man looks way more excited to cross the street than ours.

Oreos - American Oreos are superior to Canadian Oreos. There is little dispute on this fact.

The Metric System - I was terrified the first time I looked at Evan's speedometer when I was driving his car. 130?? HOLY SHIT!! But that's actually just ~80, so we weren't about to die. The picture at the top of this post is me filling up his car... in LITRES. ^___^

And I guess that wraps up my epically long blog posting. Maybe I'll be less lazy in the future and have several shorter comments, but maybe not. I keep seeming to say that. :)



Who would have thought that
One can survive on just ten
Hours of sleep a week?

Well, I wouldn't've.  But it turns out that, not only is it possible, it's a helluva lot of fun!  The Cluster Challenge this year has been a really different experience from last year, but these German fellows are a (metric) shitton of fun.  :)  We've spent a lot of time with the cluster, but it's also been a good time to, like, learn about other cultures, yadda, yadda.  But, seriously, it's been interesting.  They've not missed a chance to make fun of me for the US university system; I'm missing a test and a couple homeworks this week, and my professors requested that I do them and fax them, which is apparently completely a completely unreasonable idea in their system.  I guess I thought it was sort of unreasonable, too.  Grr.  Anyway, we have been having a great time.  The organizers set us up with a trip to the Main Event, which is a place near Austin with laser tag, rock wall climbing, bowling, an arcade, pool tables, ...

The challenge itself went well.  We ran more (I think?) data sets than any other team, and we didn't run into any issues.  The MIT team didn't show up, and the StonyBrook team from last year essentially bailed them out, with help from Dell.  The MIT rack didn't show up; they thought that they were going to run a rack with GPUs in it, but there was no chance that they'd finish in time to present it here.  So the SB kids who were supposed to just be volunteers asked Dell for a rack and some nodes since they got here.  They scored an impressive... 16 GFLOPs on Linpack.  Ouch.  Arizona is running a Windows cluster, which is an interesting crippling in itself.  The Colorado team was running some hardware that was scheduled to be announced, but it didn't wind up happening, so they had to rebuild their cluster the morning the competition started lest they violate their NDAs.  Awful.  But the other teams (Purdue, Alberta, and Taiwan) seemed to do alright.

There's about a thousand other things that I could say, but I have to go and not sleep some more.  :)


more adventure!

We're off to Austin!
Computer adventure!
LOL.  We're nerds.

So Austin should be fun, no?  I'm pretty excited that I'll get to see Ben, Nick, (Ilya?,) and Aaron again--the StonyBrook guys--, and I'm ALSO super excited because some of the German guys from our team happened to find out that I... love dark chocolate.  And we all know what that means.




Should I do it? Go
To Seattle? Or am I
Destined for elsewhere?

I just got a response from MS, and it turns out that both teams that I interviewed with have extended internship offers to me for next summer So..I could definitely go out to Seattle and make monies like I need to, if I want. But I desperately want to intern abroad! I need an opportunity, like, now...


A city of grey,
And cities of hot and cold,
Too many plane trips.

Seattle was fun. It was good to go back there; I remember when I was 12 or so I decided that that was where I wanted to live the rest of my life. So when Microsoft offered me a chance to interview, I jumped at it. There are pictures to be seen in my picasa album. The interview? Well, it was not quite as easy as the phone interview, but I wasn't impressed with its difficulty, either. A couple sample questions:

What's the best way to do a level-order traversal of a tree in which each node has arbitrary numbers of children, and there is an 80% chance that there will only be two levels?

What's the best way to find the previous node in an in-order traversal of a binary tree?

What's the fastest way to find the nearest common ancestor of two nodes in a binary tree?

Design Expedia. (This question was unfortunate; I'm an Orbitz girl.)

If you have two sorted linked lists, what's the fastest way to merge them into one sorted list? How much extra space do you need to maintain pointers for this algorithm?

It was sort of like I was back in C343. I even got asked runtimes for all the algorithms I designed. Woot. Anyway, the moral of the story is that I felt like I totally nailed the interview. I'll know for sure later this week. I really hope that things happen such that I get the position in the Dublin dev office... but we'll see. ;)

I guess I still have to comment on the election, too! I'm really excited that Indiana went blue. AFAIK, it's the first time since LBJ that we've voted Democrat. I'm proud of you, Indiana! I'm also proud and not proud of California; they passed one bill that requires the humane treatment of all animals raised on farms within that state (i.e. Valkyrie could eat any meat that comes from California!), but they also voted yes to Prop 8? That's disappointing. I don't understand why homophobia is so rampant.

I got my new glasses yesterday, which is exciting. They're exactly the same as my old glasses... but not lost. Haha. And now they come with the added amusement that they're vaguely like Sarah Palin glasses. :)

I can't wait to leave on Saturday. My two-week adventure promises to be epic. I wound up buying a plane ticket to Toronto; since Mom offered to pay half of it (she's terrified that I would crash into a snowbank and die and then my corpse would be raped by wolves, then be stolen by Canadian lumberjacks and boiled down into syrup) it's actually cheaper than driving. Which is awesome because it saves ridiculous amounts of time (2 hours in a plane is way better than 20 hours in a car, imho).

Oh! The guys for the Cluster Challenge team from Germany--well, two of them--, are in town now. I met them yesterday finally. I think that this year is going to be lots of fun at SC! How could it not be? I mean, c'mon. It's frickin Austin.

Anyway, I think that's about all I have for the moment. Maybe I'll get better about blogging regularly sometime...



OMG, I'm on
TV! Why write a haiku, when
I can just show you?



I finally won!
Perhaps I have strategy,

Despite what I do.

Hah!  Chess!  I won a game.  That means I get to cross it off my list.  ;)  Super awesome!



Too much to do, and
So little time for blogging.
I'll have to make due.

Well, it's been a really long time since I wrote anything on here, but that's okay, haha.  I've been adventuring!  The Canadians came, and we went quarry jumping, crazy caving (thanks to Mr. Sean Lewis for setting up a ridiculous trip :D), wandering around Bloomington... we also cooked a massive (I mean massive enough that I couldn't finish all the leftovers before they went bad) Thanksgiving dinner for Canadian Thanksgiving and watched War Games.  So now I've finally seen it!

I've taken midterms, and I realized that different departments function differently.  Up til now I've been doing all CS stuff, mainly, and not a lot of math, but I guess the Math department likes to kill souls.  I know that I got a 73 on my Modern Algebra midterm, but that was actually pretty good compared to what other people got.  This leads me to think that there is going to be some kind of grand, happiness-inducing curve at the end of the semester.  :3  It's definitely stressful to try to think about that grade, though.  But it's my favorite class!  Augh!

Also, I've been doing CC stuff way too much.  It's hard to manage my time when I spend 6 hours at the fricking data center in one night.  Ridiculous.  But it's sort of cool to learn how to install and optimize operating systems.  I'd actually never installed Linux before... *ashamed face*  But now I have!

The times that I see my roommates are becoming even fewer and farther between; it's sad.  But it looks like my course schedule next semester should permit many more shenanigans.  Woot!  I actually am allowed to register for classes starting today, so I think I'm going to get on that.

One of the projects I'm working on for this semester is called Fluency, and it can be tested out at this webpage.  It's a pretty neat idea; a GUI builder for people who don't know how to program.  The code that underlies it is a pretty massive mess.  I started out by improving the text areas (I just did that last night), and I'm terrified to death to try to mess with all the Null Pointer Exceptions that pop up in it.  But the project should be fun, for sure!

Also... umm... hmm... oh!  I changed my mind on what I want to be for Halloween.  I'm going to be the Silk Spectre from Watchmen.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I think I made this decision mainly because I got invited to a Heroes and Villains birthday party, and Daphne just doesn't really cut it as a superhero, haha.  :)  So that's going to be my project this afternoon.

This weekend is Homecoming, and I think it's going to be another football game that I don't go to.  Oh well.  I'll get to one eventually.  I'm pretty excited about going rappelling tomorrow, though, in stead of going to the game.  Wewt!

Oh!  And elections!  I'm TEH PSYCHED about the elections.  I had my mom buy me a sweet shirt recently: Bigfoot-Nessie 08--Change you can believe in!  ^____^

I'll try to be more diligent about writing this in the future, but no promises!  It's sort of fun to try to remember everything I've been up to, anyway.  Sort of.  :P



Action! Adventure!
And no time to do it all!
Frickin triage time.

I can't believe how quickly next weekend is coming up! I spent way too much money on groceries this weekend preparing for it, and some cleaning, lots of homework... but there isn't time to get ready! There's a crapload of things to do now.

This past weekend: the Lotus Festival! It was pretty frickin sweet. Musical groups from all over the world came to perform. My favorite performances? Funkadesi (some kind of crazy punjab rock/rave band), Little Cow (rock band from Hungary), and the March Fourth Marching Band (from Portland, OR, a group of men on stilts and women dressed like slutty marching band performers doing silly dances to awesome jazz music). I also saw a group from Mongolia that did throat singing, which is teh awesome. Let's see... oh, there was a group that performed Celtic music that was pretty neat, and some Spanish a capella music that I liked. I didn't have a chance to see everything (the festival was sort of set up to make that impossible), but I'm really glad I dropped the $30 to check it out this year.

Also over the weekend was ridiculous amounts of working on the programming project due yesterday. Instead of building a game, we were instructed to build a game builder, which was... er... complicated. During our presentation, my team didn't choke as badly as I expected, haha.

Oh, man! The VP debates! I haven't had a chance to comment on them yet. I was fairly impressed with Palin. Not impressed in such a way that I'd want her to be the VP of my country, but from what I'd seen of her previously she was totally incapable of forming coherent sentences. She did a pretty fair job of that in the debate. Her issue was, instead, that she only had a few answers, and there were more than a few questions. So she continually fell back on things that she new that were laughably unrelated to the queries at hand. There were a few things that I learned about Biden, too. I have to admit that I was woefully undereducated on their positions at the start of the debate. But I didn't realize that he was opposed to gay marriage. I'm actually not sure that he is, even though he said that; his phrasing seemed to imply that he actually understands that there should be a separation of church and state. Wow! It's like our founding fathers designed it that way!

I spent a nonnnegligible amount of time working to get ready for my visitors next weekend, too. Shopping! Woot! And I found a place to get free-range turkey for the thanksgiving dinner I'm setting up. I'm so excited! And I just got wind of an interesting opportunity for Saturday night shenanigans when they arrive. Wouldn't want them to think that BTown is boring. ;) I've actually managed to convince myself of that this semester; it's kinda nice.

Oh, and what up with this bizarre heat wave? 80 degrees is way too hot for October.



Why stay in the bounds,
Conform to the space-closers,
When I can paint them?


b words

Boys, boats, badminton,
Bread, breath, breadth, bacchanalia,
Breezy, bold, BAM!

Bad, I know.  But I feel like I've been exposed to bushels of b words lately.  Let's explain some!

Boys - Why can't I make girlfriends?  I guess it's probably because I'd much rather get filthy in a cave than get dolled up and go out for yogurt (cue Teen Girl Squad voice: Let's go get yogurt!).  Anyway, I've been meeting lots of guys and being presented with interesting opportunities--caving, stargazing, dance parties, live music shows, bike rides, and boat-building.  Which brings me to

Boats - Today was the Cardboard Boat Regatta, which I'd never heard of previously.  I guess it's to raise money for Leadership Scholarships or something, but I was excited to help the physics club build a boat out of cardboard and duct tape.  Then they raced it through a swimming pool.  lulz.

Badminton - How do you say this?  I say "bad.mitt.en".  I guess some people really pronounce it "bad.min.ton".  Hm.  News to me.

Bread - I baked!  It was pie, actually, that I baked (asian pear and pawpaw), but the crust was bready?  I think that counts.

Breath - I waited with bated breath to see if we would actually find another member for the Cluster Challenge team (we were having some difficulties because of technicalities associated with Andrew's graduating and annoyances due to Greg's nonpresence), but today we finally cemented Chris Beckley as the final member.  Woot!  It's like a (much) more complicated Goofy Giggles, haha.

Breadth - I'm glad that my education has spanned a lot of different areas.  I'm made more glad of this as I branch out and befriend people with majors vastly different from my own.  If I couldn't hold my own in a conversation about astronomy, what good would I be?

Bacchanalia - HAHA.  So at the career fair, Microsoft gave out ping pong balls with their logo on them.  So what do the CS students immediately do?  Play beer pong.  Oh, you sorry people.

Breezy - Have you noticed it's getting chillier?  I'm really thrilled about the advent of fall.  This humid summer garbage just ain't right.  It was nicer in California.  :o

Bold - It's unfortunate that not many people are bold any longer.  We seem to hide behind our little keyboards instead of owning up and interacting face-to-face like real people ought to.  I was reminded of this fact today at the regatta when a real, live guy actually came up and hit on me.  Crazy, I know.  And he even said he doesn't have Facebook!  Le gasp!

BAM! - I pretty much just like this word.  There's no sense leaving it out of a set of b words.  ;)



A huge jump, scary!
Looking down, far scarier,
But frickin awesome!



Buried in the earth,
Endless water carvings lie,
Waiting to be found.

Southern Indiana may not have world-class dining, clubs, or musical venues.  It may be that hardly anyone here has ever heard an opera, spoken to a politician, or been outside the Midwest (as I meet more and more people who haven't, I'm continually astonished), but there is something to be said about caving here.  It's world-class.  A lot of people you wouldn't expect have experienced it.  I learned today that some 300,000 people have been through Buckner's.  That's probably why it's in such terrible shape today, but oh well.

Anyway, today I went on a caving trip through a system I've never been through before.  It was a rush!  We (the IU Caving Club) went through Donaldson and Bronson caves in Spring Mill Park, which isn't far from here.  I've never been through such a wet cave before; there were a couple parts that required out-and-out swimming, which is really hard in cave gear.  Sean lent me one of his wetsuits for the trip, which I was REALLY grateful for.  He and I actually explored a little side passage that involved crawling through an 18" high passageway that was half-full of water for about 50 yards.  Frigid water.  The other end, though, was a pretty neat, big, open room.  He said that we were among about 20 people to have been in there; it had only been discovered recently.  w00t!  Exploration!

He also led me up to a little rock ledge that didn't really go anywhere, but it had a couple of neat formations at the top.  The climb up there, as well as climbs in other parts of the cave, tested my parkour skillz.  ;)  I skipped their practice to go caving today, so that was good, haha.

I learned a few things on the caving trip:
don't forget a wetsuit if you're going to get wet
wearing crappy jeans is good, but wearing jeans without knees can get you beat up
test rocks before you try to use them to hold your weight
all water has to go somewhere and come from somewhere

What else recently.. umm.. oh, for my current B490 project my partner and I are writing Number Munchers.  Super awesome, haha!  Homework hasn't kept me as busy as I figured it would, but... there's still a lot of it.  I have some Modern Algebra to finish up, actually, so I'm going to have to shove off.  Oh, but I should mention that this week was the career fair, and I got an offer to interview with Microsoft.  Whee!  And tomorrow should bring some further adventures!



Where is my city?

The Midwest has so little.

I can't wait to fly.

And school is started.  So much work!  I was sad, but I didn't try out for the Spanish play.  It would just be too much, I think.  :(  This grad class is keeping me on my toes, for sure.

But there's still time to kill on weekends.  And it's a total bummer that there isn't much to do around here.  I miss all the crazy stuff that happened in and around San Francisco all the time.  There isn't really an audience for it here, though.  I talked to Kam about a thing Evan had mentioned to me: a rave in the forest called "Dance of the Primes."  His comment?  "You know, Val, if we had a 'Dance of the Primes,' nine people would show up and six of them would be wearing capes."

It's true.

I want to get something like that started for Btown, though.  Just, you know, anything really cool.  The dance party last year ("People are Still Having Sex") was a lot of fun; I hope that it happens again in the not-too-distant future.  I think our first comedy club is opening sometime soon.

The career fair was yesterday.  It's amazing the looks you can get from people if you dress sharp.  I walked around with my friend Stuart (or maybe Stewart, I don't actually know), who was in a nice suit with a tie and all, and I was wearing my suit, and we got pulled over by the NSA and some other people.  It was exciting.  I actually got an email today from Microsoft offering an interview.  I wonder if I'll do it?  I mean, it can't hurt to practice technical interviews, eh?  Plus that's kind of cool.



Moon and sun, spinning,
Pulling, alighting the sky,
Decorate my wall.



As I keep going
I pick up new things to ease
All things I'm doing.

There's a zone.  It exists for everything.  As this week progressed, I found myself getting more and more stressed about the mounds of math homework and programming homework and social commitments piling up.  But then I found it.  And suddenly, my work was done!  I had time to kill!  It was amazing!  :)

So last night I went over and chilled with Nick and Chris, and we had a dinner party.  I got to wear my Rodeo Drive dress, which was pretty awesome.  We made a really delicious recipe out of a book Chris had:

Mahi-mahi and Fennel

1 1/2 lbs. Mahi-mahi
2 fennel bulbs
4 julienned carrots
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
1 tsp. butter (I think)
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (or any hard cheese)

Prep the fennel bulbs by cutting off the stalks and peeling the outer layer off.  Wash them.  Cut out the core, and chop it into quarters.  Julienne these.  Boil the fennel and carrots in a pot for 8-10 minutes.

Wash the mahi-mahi and cut it into 6 pieces.  Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a pan and saute them until nicely cooked.  Pour the cooked carrots and fennel into the bottom of a baking dish, and lay the fish on top.  In a sauce pan, combine milk, flour, and 1/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves (the frilly part) and reduce it to a nice sauce.  Pour this over the fish.  Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and butter in another bowl and put a little pat on each fillet.  Bake it at 375 for 10 minutes.


Anyway, that was great.  I hadn't tried to make anything elaborate since the sushi experiment last weekend (it's hard to find time during the week...), so it was nice to do something to keep my skillz fresh.  :P  We also had fruit salad (featuring delicious asian pears from home!) and bruschetta con fungi (one of Nick's friends brought this; it was toasted Italian bread with some creamy mushroom stuff on top).  And German chocolate cake.

Today was good, too.  I got a new bike!  It was only $80 at the IU parking enforcement bike auction.  It's a pretty nice bike, too.  It needs a new seat and a new chain, but those aren't hard to come by.  I may even just take the ones from my bike that I moved to Venus's bike.  :o

Also today was parkour!  Only 4 people showed up for this one, but it was still fun.  I'm developing my sense of balance (important!), and I managed to pull myself up a wall for the first time!!!  It was only, like, 7 feet high or something, but that's a start, eh?  I guess the jumping technique eluded me last week, but this week I did okay with it.  It's important to jump from a little way away from the wall, and it's also important to first focus on connecting with your foot and THEN focus on grabbing the top and pulling.  I was trying to do it in the wrong order before.

I also practiced, and was miserably bad at, QMing (haha, I used a parkour term!  QM=quadripedal motion) along a railing near Sycamore.  But that's the balance development I was talking about.  It was good times.  And I'm really excited that the guys are all being so patient with me... heh...

Anyhoo, this afternoon is going to be crammed with homework working.  I hope that I don't totally dumb out on any of my problems for calc (I was working on one for Modern Algebra last week, and it looked damn near impossible because I failed to realize that I + A = I - (-A)), but we'll see.  This assignment looks like a lot of busy work.  Blech.


7 years later

Seven years later,
What is it? Political
Squalor. And unresolved.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And what? We still have a useless administration? Oh, terrific. At least November is on its way.

Anyway, I'm keeping busy. Homework is piling up like crazy, as are funsies (parkour, Math Club, etc.). Oh, social calendars!

I'm really enjoying the math courses I'm taking. Evan totally made me a nerd. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not having fun proving things about matrices. :)



When I get too bored,
Things get interestingly
Colored.  Pikachu!

My room.


Now sore and happy,
After such adventuring,
How can I slow down?

It's been a heckuva weekend.  Friday Ben and I worked on our SuperPong game for Rawlins, which was a lot of fun.  Had some pizza and brownies (care of his wife... and they were delicious!), chunked out some Swing stuff...  It's coming along great.  And it looks like that's going to be my only hard class.  Granted, it will be hella hard, but that's okay, eh?

A couple things I learned about Java during the course of this exercise:
threads are easy.  Just make sure you don't run them til after you paint your console for the first time.
dimensions are dumb.  For whatever reason, swing makes an applet that doesn't actually conform to the dimensions you give it.  We had to put in corrections of about 5 pixels for the sides and bottom (more for the top) to ensure that the paddles and ball in our game wouldn't run off into invisible parts of the screen.
arraylists are mega-useful.  Except when you compare a sprite with itself.  We turned on clipping in our game (so that the ball could, you know, hit the paddles), and instead of flying anywhere, the ball just vibrated in the middle of the screen.  We were like, "wow, what the hell is it doing?" for a couple minutes before we realized that it was just hitting itself every clock cycle.  D'oh.
defaults are good.  We're storing all our correction and size and initial position and whatever variables in a Defaults file in the package, which makes it easy to change them.  But, of course, you already knew that.

Anyway, then I hung out with Nick and Chris, and they fixed my bike!  W00t!  Well, by "fixed my bike" what I mean is that they put my bike's good parts onto Venus's bike.  Hers was still in terrible shape from the flood, so we replaced the chain and wheels and cleaned it up a bit.  I got a bike chain bracelet out of the whole thing, which makes me feel pretty cool.  Then we played some Wii and tried to watch Casablanca, but all fell asleep (most likely because it was about 1:00am when we started it).

Saturday I made sushi for lunch.  It was delicious!  And so easy to make, too.  I screwed up a little, though, and my sushi didn't hold together as well as it could've because I kept thinking that my hands were sufficiently wet that the rice wouldn't stick to them when they... weren't.  Yeah.  Hands wet = good.  And I need to figure out the optimal way of cutting the fish so that the slices are a little prettier.

After sushi, Jeff, Georgia, and I went to a parkour event at IU.  That was pretty sweet.  I was able to do more things than I thought I'd be able to, which was a pleasant surprise.  I gotta work on my triceps, though, so's I can do pullups and stuff.  Uii.  But, um, I also learned the difference betweek parkour and free running (somehow I never learned this over the summer with Evan?): I guess that parkour is all about efficiency in getting from point A to point B and free running is more about "self-expression".  It's sort of like parkour for showoffs.  :P

Then was some marathon training with Georgia, which was tiring, to say the least.  I got in an unbelievable amount of exercise yesterday.  After running 3 miles with her, I lifted some weights, then walked home, found Evan online (yay!), finally saw his pink hair pictures, then packed up again and biked over to Kam's for his housewarming party.  It was pretty sweet.  All my AIs from CS were there.  They were funny drunks.  :P

Today should finally bring a watching of War Games, which I'm excited about.  Unfortunately, it will also bring some reading and some code cleanup.  I can hardly motivate myself to do that kind of mundane stuff after all my excitements this weekend.  :\



It's never too soon
To get knocked flat on your ass,
And that's what happened.

As concerned as I was on Wednesday about not having enough work to do this semester, I am now equally as concerned in the other direction.  Well, I was yesterday.  I've chilled out a little since then.  But B490 (the grad design patterns class) is going to be FIERCE.  I'm really excited about it, and the prof is convinced that I'll do well... but it's going to be epic.  Our first assignment is to write a game for Monday.  Keep in mind that that was an assignment that spanned an entire semester for me in the Spring.  :s

My other classes seem okay.  Tae Kwon Do is going to be odd... I mean, we have to write a paper?  What?  So I'm going to sign up for taking that pass/fail.  It's a frickin HPER class.  Not worth the effort of writing a paper.  The Putnam course will be challenging, though not nearly so time-consuming as design patterns.  My algorithms class will be interesting, but easy.  My prof for modern algebra was in Canada during our first classtime, so I haven't actually experienced that yet.

Other things this semester!  I signed up for a couple of caving trips with the IU Caving Club.  Super!  And this Saturday Jeff and I are going to try our hands (and arms, and legs, and feet, and ankles, and skillz) at a parkour meet.  Hmm!  I can't wait!



Quick though I may be
To pass this judgement, I fear
This semester's load.

I haven't had a hard semester yet in college.  I feel like it's an integral part of the experience, but I haven't done it yet.  I scheduled this one to totally kick my butt, but if my first class (S311) is any indication, it'll be just like all the other semesters.  The real sad part is that I have so many evening classes.  I'd like to enjoy my ridiculous freedom.

But yeah, this S311 course.  It's Honors Calculus III, which I think I recall expressing concern over in a previous posting.  I haven't done calculus in a long time.  But I feel like the professor is pretty much going to do a lot of hand-holding for this course.  And we're only going through, like, 3.5 chapters in the book.  Behhh.  Not to mention that she's... well... plain.  She seems nice enough, but I'm having a hard time imagining myself getting fired up about things in her class.

I think this will be a good semester for math-y things, though.  I'm super excited about the Putnam, especially after solving two problems off an old test on my own.  Well, not entirely on my own, I guess.  Daniel was there, but I did... er... most of the solving.  Anyhow, I also finally finished reading that book that Evan gave me (A Mathematical Mosaic), and I feel like I took a fair amount away from it.  So that's good.  And I just felt like I was in the zone as I read out of the calc book for next week's assignment.

In other news, now that my MARATHON TRAINING has started, I'm getting pumped about running.  Georgia and I are going through a program she found together, which I'm thrilled about.  I ran 5 miles yesterday, and close to 4 the day before.... woot!


the midwest

Ted: The cuter the
Animal, the tastier
It is grilled. Me: Oh.

Talk about culture shock. I went to RibAmerica with my folks today (well, technically yesterday, now), and it was a trip. The sheer... midwestern-ness of it astonished me. There were some things I was okay with: the, like, twelve different booths harping their award-winning barbecue were pretty cool (I tried the BBQ sauce at several, and I have to say that it was delicious). The booth devoted to grilled, butter-dipped sweet corn, which had one of the longest lines at the event, was pretty quaint. And their corn was awesome.

No, it was Ted that did it. And he's from Detroit! I guess that counts as the Midwest. Anyway, I had multiple crazy laughing fits during his concert. A few things that set them off:

Ted: *raises two machine guns from nowhere into the air high above his head* ...and we should give machine guns to every child! And to skinny girls, too! Fat bitches can reload 'em. Gotta keep them busy! And I know you're wondering, "does Ted have a permit for giving machine guns to kids?" Well, I got your permit right *drops the machine guns and flips the bird* HERE!!! That's for you, Obama!
Crowd: *screams*

Drunk guy next to me: *shakes my shoulder* This part is AWESOME!! Watch!
Ted: *wearing a ridiculous Native American headdress, pulls a hunting bow from behind a speaker, loads it, sets the arrow on fire, poises his white guitar across the stage, and proceeds to shoot it* I sacrificed my Great White Buffalo!
Drunk guy next to me: RIGHT IN THE X!! YEAH!!!
Crowd: *screams*

Ted: And I love huntin' season! The cuter the animal is, the tastier it is when you grill it! That's why I love vegetarians; vegetables are fuckin' ugly and that's all those sonuvabitches eat! *continues talking about killing animals*
Crowd: *screams*

Ted: Now they don't know it yet, but all my boys (he was talking about the players, sound guys, etc. for his band) have 12-gauge, riot shotguns waitin for 'em at the end of the night! Because I think that with more guns and ammunition, they'll do an even more kickass job!
Crowd: *screams*

In addition to those times, it was pretty excellent to hear him adlibbing his own songs to include lines about BBQ. Bahahahahaha!

Oh, the Midwest.


a week

In a week I see
How Bloomington sits, awaits
School with bated breath.

Now that I've been in here for a week, I've finally grown accustomed to the rhythm of this town. As the last freshmen are moved in and the moving trucks are driven away, it's settling back into what it really is: the #5 party school in the nation (according to Playboy). It's interesting. Watching all these silly kids walking around, trashed, in the middle of the afternoon, I've had some ample time to wonder about things like our drinking age and why it's so high (I feel like that leads to more people binge drinking during their early years of college because they simply haven't been taught how to drink responsibly), as well as what it is that makes some parents try to control their kids' lives to such an extent that college is a time when they simply go crazy. I'm glad that my maw and paw saw fit to let me gradually take control of my own time. It's helped me immensely since starting college.

Things in this apartment are slowly working themselves out, too. I feel like we're not all around very much, but I guess that's okay. Post-its and whiteboards have become useful means of communication. Maybe we'll settle in together a little more once school starts for real.

Anyway, my adventure for today is that Ted Nugent concert. \m/ Rawk!



Change marks all of us,
Some far more notably so,
Others seem inert.

I went to a breakfast this morning with WIC (Women in Computing), and was then whisked away to a little seminary thingy held for the direct admit kids to CS and Informatics. It was pretty interesting. I guess I have a little bit of a different perspective on things after spending the summer in Cali, but once I got back into talking with Suzanne and Laura it felt like I hadn't left. I'm super excited about a few things now:

1) Being a UI for the Goofy Giggles class! I talked to Prof. Brown today about it briefly, and he seems excited to have me. Working for him last summer was great, so I'm assuming that this experience will be as good.

2) The Cluster Challenge in Austin! Laura informed me that it is, indeed, going to happen, and that I'm welcome to participate. Should be a lot of fun. Except it's getting restructured this year, I guess. I liked the format last year (learning all the random interesting things about supercomputing was great), but I guess this year we're in it to win it. Hmm.

3) Tae Kwon Do! I just changed my schedule so that I'm in Tae Kwon Do instead of Yoga. I feel like it will better suit my tastes, perhaps.

4) The Putnam! It's been a long time since I've done real, interesting math. I noticed this when I was going through the book Evan got me for my birthday (A Mathematical Mosaic, Ravi Vakil). I hope that I do better than average, but average on this exam is a 0, and I'm pretty sure I can get at least a point someplace. We shall see!

5) Parkour/getting back into shape! Jeff said that he'd be interested in trying out parkour-y things with me. Plus I need to lose all this fat that I got from the friggin amazing food at Google. Which shouldn't be hard since I'm living on a student budget now!

6) Cooking! I realize that this is in direct conflict with my last item, but I don't care! I just got a new set of pots and pans from Gram & Gramps, and I can't wait to use them for the first time. Hopefully this weekend!

Anyway, back to productivity (or some rendition thereof). I have to finish some stuff up before I go laking this afternoon. ;)



At last, internet!

But I can live without it,

Er…umm… well, kind of.

The Comcast guy finally appeared today to connect 664 to the Interwebs. It was pretty damned inconvenient to not have internet in our apartment this past half week. I’ve been journeying to the library (a couple miles, maybe? not bad on a bike) to get my fix every day. And it’s a good thing, too. I’ve gotten a couple emails that required responses within 24 hours. It’s interesting to me that people are always, now, expected to be so unremittingly connected and “on the grid.” Even as a CS major, I find it’s nice to drop off once in a while, but, here I am, blogging about it. Ironic.

Anyway, those emails. One of them was an offer for the UI job I wanted for this semester! I’m super excited about the class; it’s CSCI-C335: Computer Structures, which is better known as the Goofy Giggles class. I had tons of fun taking it last semester. I think I’ll probably be better suited to being a UI for this class, anyway, considering I’ve actually taken it (I felt a little useless trying to explain the details of the Ants project that I’d never done to the kids in C212 last semester). Plus it’ll help me keep my hardware skillz fresh, which should serve well for hacking that DEFCON badge. :D The other email was a reminder about a lunch with Albert Chen, sponsor of the Telamon Informatics Scholarship, which I’m currently getting. He was a super nice guy, actually. We had a nice lunchtime chat about his company, traveling, the Olympics, Google, and CS in general. The food at the place we went (Mandarin House in Carmel, IN) was terrific. I guess Albert knew the owner/is a regular there, and he organized a table of special dishes that weren’t on the menu for us. And they were all friendly to my happy meat requirements. :)

The apartment is all painted, now, so huzzah for that. Roy came over (lured by cookies and the Wii that I now have) and helped me finish off the kitchen, which is now a cheery yellow. I was dumb when we bought the paint and didn’t think about how much we’d actually need for such a small space, so we have a lot of leftover now. I think the doors stand a good chance of being the next surfaces to be afflicted with acrylic jaundice.

The Wii has been a lot of fun the past couple days. Also a lot of fun is Nick and his lake house. I hadn’t been tubing in ages, so that was a fun thing to get back to. And one of his neighbors has a rope swing, which made me feel totally oldskool. I’m a little bummed that my tummy didn’t get tanner over my summer in Cali, but maybe I’ve got a chance to tan it yet here in Indiana. :P

I’m trying to decide if I can do anything epic for Labor Day weekend. The past two long weekends I’ve taken trips (Los Angeles for Memorial Day and Lake Tahoe for 4th of July), but it looks like I’m just gonna be chillin here in Btown for this one. Maybe I’ll find some friends and go camping for Friday or Saturday night. Ribamerica is a concert that’s going to be happening up in Indianapolis this weekend, and Mr. Ted “Cat Scratch Fever” Nugent is going to be playing there. The tickets are only 5 bucks, which is pretty wicked. My dad called me up two nights ago and asked if I’d like to go see Ted with him and my mom. This is definitely the first rock concert they’ve ever invited me to. :D Should be fun!



Back to Bloomington,
But I miss California.
At least I'm not bored.

So now all my stuff's in the apartment, which is pretty cool, I suppose. My room is massive (yay!), and Mom and Dad managed to help me get a box spring and a desk in just our little Matrix. I was pretty impressed.

We're all here now, too, which is nice. I don't know how Georgia survived the last week here by herself. I guess she had her newts? Anyway, we haven't had much time to catch up about our summers yet. I was woefully out of contact with them, and everyone else back here. Mary didn't get in until this evening, and then she went over to Colin's, so it was short-lived. Georgia's already abed.

We did get to have dinner together, though. The first meal I cooked in the apartment! It was just pasta and sweet corn, but that's the stuff that college is made of, right? I think Georgia and I are going to make spring rolls together tomorrow, which is pretty exciting. I'm curious how my social life will be different now that I'm living off-campus.

Tomorrow we're going to get paint for the living room (green) and the kitchen (yellow). I want to paint my room, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted it done. I'm pretty sure--enough that I already bought spray paint--that I want to reserve the back wall of my room for graffiti. I've never actually graffitied (sp?) anything before, so that should be interesting. After making the stencil for and spray painting my DEFCON laptop this summer, I wanted to try the real deal. I'm toying with the idea of letting visitors graffiti, too. I think that would be fun. I mean, you can write on a Facebook wall, why not write on a real wall? Hmm. I'm concerned about ventilation in my room, though.

Man, I feel so silly and girly saying this, but I really miss the friends I made in California. :( It's going to be excruciating waiting until October to see them. I need to find new people to adventure with, I guess. But every time someone says, "Delicious!" and I think, "and nutritious!", it's a pretty sad reminder. Ditto hearing the word "goat," seeing Segway lawn mowers, thinking about math, using my DEFCON laptop, holding Kung Fu Panda, riding my bike, wearing my Google apparel, ... Maybe I'll forget some of it as the year wears on and I find other entertainments for myself. I don't know whether I hope for that or not.

Ummm... yeah. I got a Wii this morning, which was pretty exciting. With Mario Party 8! ^___^ Now we just need a TV to play it on, haha. We're not getting internet until Wednesday morning, so it's going to be a few more days of biking back and forth to campus to get my fix. I've been keeping busy with unpacking and decorating and reading, though, so I guess it's not all bad.

Anyhow, it's been a pretty long day. I sleep with my shades up, so the sun woke me up pretty early. And I've still got 10 minutes or so of bike ride to get back home.



Before I even
Move in, my nerves are singing,

I'm fairly (or unfairly) convinced that this year is going to rock. After a long summer of R&R in sunny California, I'm ready to get back and hit the books like a madwoman. My schedule this semester could potentially kick my ass, but that would be okay. The college experience, right? Anyway, the classes I'm taking this semester:

S403 - Honors Modern Algebra
S311 - Honors Calculus III
M490 - Putnam Seminar
B403 - Some kind of algorithms class I don't remember the name of
B490 - Graduate Design Patterns
E190 - Yoga

I'm thinking of adding in another class (that's only 15 hours there, so I'm really, really tempted): Graduate Operating Systems. And I'm also considering the possibility of changing yoga for something more adventurous... like... umm... I dunno, actually. Maybe rock climbing. That would be pretty sweet.

Some of my stuff is moved in to the apartment, and I'm going to do the rest of the move tomorrow. Things have been complicated by the fact that our minivan drowned in the flood, but c'est la vie. From what I've seen of the apartment so far, it's going to be pretty nice. Hopefully a step up from what comes to mind when one thinks of "college apartment." But I guess that remains to be seen.

But I'm hoping for a healthy amount of diversion from classes this semester. This summer taught me a lot about kicking back and enjoying life, and those are lessons that I intend to continue following. I'm planning an Election Day party that I'm pretty excited about, as well as a visit from some of the Canadians (Evan, Jeff, Pat) and a visit to them sometime later on.

:D Bring on the year!