I've decided to keep a log for the summer, since, judging by events so far, it promises to be full of novelty. I'm not too sure how well I'll keep up with it or whether it will continue to be as eventful as it is right now, but I'll try to update it at least once a week. It should be of particular interest to those people who know me, know my friends, are intimate with the workings of the CS department, or want to learn what it's like moving into a new apartment and living off-campus with a bunch of wacky science-type friends. This web version is censored to remove any possibly offensive or incriminating remarks about people I know (at least the ones who might ever possibly find out :) I've also removed last names in some cases.In case you don't want to wade through the whole thing, you can just skip to a particular part:
Here is a cast of possible characters:
Moved the last of my stuff out of my room while trying to get Dan to help me instead of picking through the trash for goodies to fill up the car. Closed the door, returned my key, and moved in with Dan. Crashed in a room on the third floor. He lives on the second floor but the third floor is unoccupied, except there are currently two people living there -- me and one of his friends. This brings the grand total of persons to 6 in a 3-person apartment (Dan, Fred, KV, Fred's girlfriend Jen, Dan's friend Dave, and me). Fun.
Also started work today at 1:00 with my first meeting with Eugene. He gave me a paper to read.
Wednesday, 5/28 thru Friday, 5/30
Kind of bored and not doing much. Everyone in the apt. is gone most of the day except Jen, who just watches TV all day.
Got thru all the reading material in the house by Thursday, so had to buy a book from the cheap bin outside the bookstore. It's a mystery. Seems pretty poorly written, but sufficient to stave off boredom if necessary.
Dave seems pretty cool, and he and Josh Bloustine were over Friday night with Dan and we all watched this movie called "The Night We Never Met" with Matthew Broderick on TV. It was low-budget but actually pretty funny in places. Dave correctly predicted that the obnoxious frat boys were alumni of Dartmouth. Hooray for Ivy League stereotypes.
Meetings every day at 1:00 with Eugene. Got a second paper to read, and my first look at his code. Sam Hazelhurst and Mike Castelle were stunned when I told them Eugene writes his own code, and more so when I said it's C++. Then they started looking at it and making remarks like "He's even using overloaded operators! I can't believe he actually knows how to code in C++!" Sam was also having a battle of wits with some math guy (senior or early grad student) in the #math chat group, and flexing his topology muscles. It was scary. Then he asked the guy some question about Kolmogorov complexity and the guy had no clue but was like, "Hey, are you CS?" Good call.
Spent some time surfing the web, found a bunch of polymer-clay pages, subscribed to rec.crafts.polymer-clay (my first non-cs newsgroup).
Moving day. Arrived at the apartment at 9:00 for the meeting with the Sues (Sue K. and Sue S., the landlords). Very hard to get a word in edgewise with them. This was my first acquaintance with Sue K. Found the apartment in terrible shape, extremely dirty, with holes all over the walls, and no electricity because the previous tenants turned it off before they left. Also one of them hadn't moved all his stuff out yet (planning to come back in the afternoon) and a large fish tank and two iguanas were still there, promised to be picked up the next day.
Nevertheless, we managed to move a lot of stuff in, much of it while the other guy was simultaneously moving out. A little preposterous. Had a bit of time to scout out trash from other people's moving out, and picked up a nice couch sold next door for 10 bucks, and a great plant for free. Went to bed early due to exhaustion and no lights.
Moved some more, and cleaned and cleaned. Jeffrey's dad is here helping. He is just like Jeffrey, down to the same bad jokes. Amazing.
I am continually amazed by the amount of stuff Jeffrey brought up with him for the apartment. The list includes (but is not limited to): a TV, a rocking chair, a recliner, two sets of dishes (we'll be going kosher in the fall when Aviva returns), silverware, lots of miscellaneous kitchen items, and an incredible dining table which seats 12 at full size but reduces to a small (40" x 24") but completely functional table.
Ate our first meal cooked here: pasta w/ spinach and tomatoes. Mmm. Cooked in the kitchen, but had to eat in the living room.
Off to work in the morning. Fairly uneventful. Then went to hear Eli Upfal give a talk in Lubrano. He's the new professor for next year. Seems to be Maurice #2 (interested in graphs). I understood the first 40 minutes or so of the talk, after which it was over my head. He explained everything well, though, and was enthusiastic and friendly. I think he'll make a good professor.
Cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Never thought you could clean a kitchen so much. But by bedtime, it was done. In two days, we re-papered the pantry shelves, emptied and cleaned the drawers in the pantry, washed every item left behind in the pantry and kitchen (many miscellaneous bowls and pots, some dishes, silverware, etc.), scrubbed the stove and refrigerator, the walls and inside the cabinets, cleaned the brown sludge out of the fridge, polished the outside of the cabinets, swept and mopped the floors. Waffles and matzo brie for dinner. We need to go shopping.
Woke up this morning at 8:00 to the oh-so-euphonic voice of Sue K. in the hallway. Looked out to find her there with a painter. They told us they would probably have a painter in at the end of the month. We were a bit surprised to find one here at 8 am with no warning. This meant we all had to move all the stuff out of Amy's room immediately. Jeffrey was dressed, I was wearing pajamas, and Laurel was in her bathrobe. Luckily, Amy left at 5 am for Seattle and will be gone this week. ADVICE FOR NEW TENANTS: Flexibility and lack of modesty are key.
Came in to work at 10:00 to find the doors of the Sun Lab open and monitors and machines rapidly accumulating in the hallway, there to sit only briefly before being rolled out of the building. Dan, James, Ben Boer, Dorinda, Max Salvas and John Bazik had emptied out three fourths of the lab already, and when I came down for lunch at noon, they were just walking out the door of the dark and empty lab. It's the end of an era.
Exciting work-related happening: Was looking through ec's files to figure out what they were. Loaded up a file called "train.txt" into emacs. Realized my mistake half a second later, after it was too late. It's the file containing the entire training data for the parser, which happens to be (as I discovered in a few minutes) 612 thousand lines long. Load on my computer is up to 100%, emacs is thrashing, I can't do anything. It takes over a minute to finally show up in the emacs window. I try to scroll down, which takes about 10 seconds. Emacs is not happy -- refresh, moving the cursor, switching screens, all take forever. I kill the buffer, which takes another couple minutes to finally go away, and I'm safe. One of the dumber things I've done in the past week.
Exciting home-improvement happening: I decided it was time to remove the double-size wooden platform that is under my twin-size mattresses, but when Jeffrey and I took the mattresses off, we discovered that the plywood covering the top is actually in two pieces, one of them exactly twin size. So we decided it would be fairly easy to just remove the other piece of plywood, then cut the cross beams down and nail the lenghtwise support back on to the narrower frame. So we started removing the nails from the plywood, but soon discovered that several of them were nailed in so far we couldn't get them out with the hammer. But we are resourceful people and eventually started using screwdrivers as wood-cutting tools to cut the plywood surrounding the nails away, leaving the nails sticking up. This took a bit of doing, and certainly wasn't quite kosher, but in the end, it worked nicely. We haven't yet borrowed a saw to cut the cross-beams, so this is still a work in progress. ADVICE FOR NEW TENANTS: Bring a tool kit and a lot of resourcefulness.
Finally had dinner at the kitchen table. Rather homey, I must say.
Went shopping in the evening, got some kitchen-type items and food.
Most exciting thing today was cleaning the bathroom. In itself quite undesirable, but the results are worth it. Scrubbed the walls and tub (had no idea it was actually white under there) and cleaned the floor under the tub (yick!). I have become the contact paper queen, what with the pantry and now the shelves in the bathroom. We also put up new shower curtains.
Meanwhile I was baking some oatmeal cookies using this weird recipe with no eggs and no baking powder/soda. Not your usual oatmeal cookies. Then after the first batch I realized they're a lot like Russian tea cookies, but with a bit less flour. So I added some more oatmeal and flour. I think it improved them.
The Sues came by again today (no warning-- surprise, surprise) and we convinced them that my bedroom needed painting too. Which is great except that it's now last on the list, so it won't get done for about three weeks. I can't figure out whether to unpack or not. I'm starting to feel very disorganized and messy. ADVICE FOR NEW TENANTS: Prepare to live out of boxes for three times as long as you think you will have to.
Today I decided to switch concentrations. This is not really a major happening, since it's only from CS to Math-CS, and either way I have about the same number of courses to take. Nevertheless, it requires more of an identity re-evaluation than I would have expected. I think that is partially due to the CS bonding/cult experience, and the fact that suddenly I am no longer completely a part of it. This will take some getting used to.
By the way, the reason I changed was because it means I won't have to take EN163 this summer, and can work on Fimo instead. (Also saving lots of money). I've been getting inspired by the rec.crafts.polymer-clay newsgroup and feeling creatively deprived. Also I won't have to take CS126. I still might take it though.
Ran into Fred and Lisa. Unexpected since I thought they were gone. But asked Fred what GRE's he took and he said he took the CS and did fine despite not having taken any systems or circuits beyond 31. So that's a relief.
I think my limit for staring at crazy C++ code is about an hour without a break. I've been wading through code for about 3 days now. Fun, fun. Maybe one day I will write some code of my own.
Amy's room is done being painted. It looks great. Can't wait for all the painting to be done.
Evening activity: HAMLET!! I have been trying to see this movie for 6 months, since it came out in January. First it came to Boston in March, but I couldn't go. Then it came to Amherst in April, but I couldn't go. I put my faith in the Avon, and then I was walking down Thayer St. a few days ago, glanced up, and saw the sign. My faith was justified. Granted, it took 6 months, but hey.
Anyway, the movie was indeed four hours long, as billed, but was interesting throughout. However, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by certain aspects. I had been trying not to expect too much, as I have a tendency to do with Kenneth Branagh, but even so, there were certain parts which I felt were just not very well done, and even tacky, something I never would have expected after Henry V, Much Ado, Dead Again, etc. I wonder if maybe when you have a 4 hour movie it's just not possible to give enough attention to every little bit.
So, more specifically, here's the lowdown. First off, the acting was excellent on all fronts, except perhaps Robin Williams (bit part of Osric), who seemed a little too Robin Williams-esque. Hard to explain, but I guess it was just extremely difficult to avoid seeing him not as Osric, but as Robin Williams dressed up in funny clothes. Derek Jacobi was looking quite handsome as Claudius with neatly trimmed white hair-- guess he's aged a bit. Charleton Heston as one of the players also stood out. Both Gertrude and Ophelia were quite good -- glad to see they didn't sacrifice acting for looks in choosing Ophelia. And of course Branagh was excellent as well, though as I feared he is a bit too old for the part. I would have loved to see him do it when he was in his twenties. Also I cannot understand his choice of hair color-- bleached blond, but with undyed (i.e. dark blond) mustache. The hair looked clearly unnatural, and rather weird.
The sets were outstanding. The time period was sort of indeterminate, though definitely not medieval or even Elizabethan. Mostly it looked like mid- or late-19th century, except some of the clothes appeared more like 1920's. The overall effect was one of "at some historical period." This was one example of Branagh taking some liberties with setting, timing, etc. The most glaring example being the fact that the entire movie took place during the winter, yet Ophelia fell into the river as she was making flower garlands. Weird.
My main gripe was that parts of the movie were, as I said before, tacky. Like the ghost scene, wherein Hamlet is running through the woods after the ghost, and all of a sudden the earth starts to crack and smoke swirls on the ground and bursts of flame shoot up. Hello? And then there was the scene right before intermission where Hamlet is standing on a promontory with Fortinbras' troops below and a vast mountainous scene behind him and he starts giving a monologue and the camera just keeps panning out further and further until the end. And you can see that it's all bluescreened. The one last gripe I had was with the couple of scenes where people are talking to each other and the camera just keeps revolving around and around them. Very distracting.
Enough of that, though. Here's a clip I found in the ProJo today:
SIMPLY SIMIAN Sorry, Garry Kasparov, but some monkeys in California are holding their own with a computer. The monkeys aren't doing anything nearly as challenging as playing chess. They're just monkeys, after all, and all they're trying to do is find grapes. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, wanted to see how well vervet monkeys could face the famous "traveling salesman" problem. The object is to visit a number of scattered destinations while taking the shortest route possible. For monkeys, such a skill could prove useful when looking for food in the wild. The scientists let the monkeys watch as grapes were hidden in holes in a grid. When the monkeys were released, they gathered the grapes in an order that made for the shortest trip. A computer program designed to pick the nearest grape as the next destination didn't do any better than the monkeys.
Oy. As if picking the nearest grape is a good algorithm or something.
This afternoon had the first meeting of the natural language processing interest group. This includes Eugene, Mark Johnson (my Comp. Ling. prof from last semester), Sharon C., Heidi Fox, Niyu Ge (all grad students), John Hale, me, and Ken, this undergrad from Dartmouth who got interested in nlp but doesn't have anyone to study with at Dartmouth and he lives in Providence so he called up Eugene. I'm not sure exactly what he'll be doing. Turns out he went to high school with Marcin and Natasha.
The meeting was pretty interesting. We talked for a little while about Muck, which seems to be a sort of nlp competition that some companies and universities participate in. There are a few different tasks that they're supposed to design programs to do, some easy and some hard. Things like reading through a bunch of text and putting relevant information into a database, etc. The tasks are more or less the same each year, but they change the domain of the text. So one year it will be military reports (e.g. "Ship X engaged with ship Y off the coast of Z. 3 shots were fired, 1 casualty") and the next year it will be business successions ("vice-president of X was promoted to president of Y and given a Z% raise.") Then the competitors have one month to taylor their system to the new domain. It sounds like very high pressure, considering it's voluntary, especially since apparently it is very much correlated with how much money the researchers get from ARPA the next year. One of the companies involved is BBN, which is in Cambridge. I've started thinking I might like to work for BBN's language processing group. Rebecca Stone is going there.
After work went home to an empty apartment, because both Jeffrey and Laurel went away for the weekend, and Amy still isn't back from Washington. So I hung out upstairs mostly. Jon Gherardini came by to pick up his fish tank, and we talked to him for a while. Then at 7:30 we went outside to wait for the ice cream truck. Apparently yesterday Robin and Sarah and Joseph saw the ice cream truck and asked him what time he comes by our house and he said 7:40 and they told him they'd be there. So we all sat on the stoop and sure enough he came by at 7:40. We all introduced ourselves. His name is Tommy. They told him they would probably be regular customers. I think he thinks we're weird. Then after he went away and we were eating our ice cream, they decided they were going to get a different flavor every day and try every single one. I think it's a cool idea, but I'm not going to do it because I don't really like those things much and some of them sound really gross, like the one with gummy bugs inside.
All their couches have names now. The huge white one is called Moby Dick, and the small black plastic one is called the Love Slug (actually the previous people named it that) and I just named the big ugly red one yesterday. It's red and it has these sort of horns, so I called it Mephistophales. The only problem is now that they all have names, it's sort of hard to get rid of any of them. They're all really ugly.
After breakfast I went over to Dan's and finally picked up the rest of my stuff, along with a saw to saw off the extra width on my bed platform. It was a hacksaw, though, and not really great for the purpose, but then I realized I could ask Ernie (the painter) to borrow his saw. Which I did. And I had just finished sawing the first cross-beam when he came in and asked how I was doing, and I said fine. But then he proceeded to take the saw and cut the rest of the cross-beams himself. I protested a bit, but couldn't really do anything about it. So it went a lot faster, but I had sort of wanted to do it myself. Though I ended up having to saw the end beams anyway because he did it in the wrong place. Then I pulled the extra stuff off the side beam and nailed it back on. Very satisfying.
Went to the CIT this afternoon and diddled around on the computer for a while.
After dinner went upstairs and was indoctrinated into the "Pass the Pigs" club. What a bizarre game. There's two little pigs that you throw like dice and get different points depending on how they land (1 for sides, 5 for feet or back, 10 for snout, etc.), and some configurations make you lose all your points for that turn. And you can roll as long as you want until you lose your points or stop. The object is to get 100 points. Basically it's gambling, since you can stop whenever you want. So you have to choose between risking zero points or getting more points. Weird.
Then we mellowed out at the John Denver shrine. They have this signed picture of John Denver and they put it on the shelf in the alcove and strung white christmas lights around. The lighted fish tank is also on the shelf below. So if you turn off all the other lights, you get sort of a nice effect and it's pretty relaxing.
I really need to get my Fimo up here. Part of the problem was that everyone with cars was gone today, so we couldn't do much. Went for a nice walk over to Dan's house to return his flashlight and saw. Then Jeffrey and I played Boggle. I have been beating him, but not by much. He brought lots of games with him-- Othello, Boggle, Scabble, Set, Backgammon (maybe I'll learn how to play), Tanagrams, etc. So far I have whipped him at Othello (a rather surprising result, considering I hardly play and didn't think I was very good, and he says he always used to beat his family. But he also hasn't played in a long time, and was doing tanagrams at the same time. It was pretty exciting actually because he was winning for the whole game until the very end when I forced a corner and then got all 3 others.) We haven't yet played Scrabble, but that should be quite interesting.
In the afternoon, Ernie finished painting Jeffrey's room, so Jeffrey moved all his stuff in. Very exciting. He's the first one with an actual bedroom. I wish mine were done too. Ernie isn't coming back till Thursday because he's on vacation in Atlantic City. Sigh.
We made a very successful dinner of honey mustard chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes.
Fixed the makefile so at least all the code compiles, but now it won't link. I think because I'm copying from stuff that uses the old compiler but my code uses the new compiler. I seem to be getting a vague sense of what all this code is doing, maybe.
Got an email from Mike in Paris, which was cool, although kind of annoying since I couldn't respond. He was in some internet cafe called Cafe Orbital. It was a mass email to everyone he knows.
Today we started an experiment with the ai lab fridge. It's always too cold and the drinks always freeze, but nobody knows whether 1 or 10 is the coldest, and everyone always comes in and sees the frozen drinks and turns it to the opposite of whatever it is. So we put a sign not to touch the dial and we're just going to cycle through from 10 down to 1 and measure the temperature each day.
Went shopping this evening and finally divided up the bills for all the furniture, kitchenware, food, etc. that we've bought in the last month.
I think I am finally starting to understand this code. I also have realized that I get a great deal more accomplished in the morning than I do after lunch. I think my brain is fresher, I am not tired of sitting in the same chair in front of the computer all day, etc. The problem is that as a result, I do a lot of stuff in the morning and accumulate a whole bunch of questions to ask Eugene. That's fine except both yesterday and today he has been gone in the afternoon (which I didn't know ahead of time), so this is kind of problematic. I think I will make myself go talk to him tomorrow early.
Tonight Peter came to visit from France so we had a combined dinner plus guests for a total of 10 people. They made some food upstairs and we made some food downstairs. Everything came out very well. I think we need to get their recipe because it's good for making lots and freezing some, and it tastes good. We all looked at Peter's pictures from all over Europe. It was a nice party and not too crazy.
I finally got some real live output from the code today, and I think it's right, too. But I have all sorts of other things now that I don't understand :(
It got hot today. Our apartment is better than upstairs, but still quite hot. Thank goodness we bought all those fans. Had some ice cream too.
Moved all the stuff out of my room in preparation for painting tomorrow.
I found a bug in ec's code, but I don't know what it is. All I know is that when I tried to run the parser on the full complement of test data, it segfaulted halfway through. Now he wants me to try and figure out what happened. Actually he just wants me to figure out it it's the input or something else. It doesn't seem to be the input. I don't like debugging, and I especially don't like debugging other people's code that I don't understand. Ugh. Running the parser takes so long anyway.
Amy and I walked down to Waterplace Park this evening. They have outdoor concerts there in the summer and we wanted to see what it was like even though we had no interest in today's band. The weather was beautiful and it was a nice walk. Waterplace Park is pretty nice, too, but I don't know if I would necessarily want to go for a concert. It was pretty crowded and there's no flat grassy areas to sit on. All the people listening were standing on the bridges or on the hill. I wouldn't want to listen to a concert standing up. But the area is nice to just sit or maybe have a picnic when there's no concert.
We came back just as Tommy was driving up in his ice cream truck. Robin, Joseph, Sarah, and Mark had been rollerblading (Sarah's first time) and they got ice cream. We introduced Amy to Tommy, since she wasn't there last time.
This morning the code wouldn't compile and I spent 2 1/2 hours tracking down the problem to an undocumented change in one of the libraries that took effect when they switched default compilers from version 4.0 to 4.2 last night. What a pain.
Also, something weird happened to my emacs between yesterday and today. At first I thought that it was just the color highlighting (which has reverted to the default from my personalized colors), but then I noticed that it's also giving me html-helper-mode automatically (I couldn't even get it at all before) and it's sorting my buffer menu so that all files with similar extensions are grouped together. The SPOC claims to be unaware of any changes, and no one else reports any differences (although I don't know if any of them are using xemacs). I'm starting to suspect a conspiracy or a secret underground upgrade.
This afternoon I went home for the weekend. As the bus came into Amherst, it passed by Amherst College Field and there were all these tents up and I realized it must be ARHS graduation today.
Read a lot, as usual. This morning I practiced Mom's duet with her for her recital tomorrow. I am playing the second part.
This afternoon we went over to the Korens for their annual potluck. And Yaron was actually there. He seems to be doing okay.
Today I decided that maybe I should have gone to graduation after all, since Michael Ellis was valedictorian and apparently gave an extremely amusing speech. (According to the newspaper as well as several people at the Korens'). Plus it occurred to me that I have already been to 6 in a row, and I should have made it 7 since I was in town anyway. Of course mom and dad were at dancing, so it would have been complicated. Oh well.
This morning I went through cookbooks to find recipes that I could bring back for the summer. Then in the afternoon was Mom's recital. The funny thing is that Dan Mullins was there too, playing the other half of a duet with his cousin. He never even studied with Miriam.
I saw Mrs. Capporello, of course. She is doing okay, and mentioned that she got the birthday card we sent her. Only 3 months late :) She hasn't been in the school addition in a few months, but they are supposed to be starting operations there in the fall. It sounds like it will be pretty tight.
After the recital, we had an hour to kill before the bus, so we went up to the common, where the Taste of Amherst was going on. And who should I run into but Rob Noyes! Haven't seen him in a while. He's still working at JavaNet, so I guess he must enjoy it. He's living in Florence. He was there with a girl, but it was unclear what their status was.
The Ultras are coming! The Ultras are coming! This morning I logged into the new and improved Markov - now an Ultra2. The Ultra2's have all been installed already, but there are only a few in the building. So all the other machines are still waiting for the shipment. It was supposed to come this afternoon but the shipper screwed up. Anyway, Markov is FAST!! Login takes under 10 seconds. Also I got email from James saying he was wrong and there *is* a new version of emacs. So I was not going insane.
Today at work I had another meeting with mj and ec. I pretty much understood what they were talking about; I think it helps that I was there when they first started talking about the idea. I now have some different things to do, trying to make ec's parser more like mj's before proceeding further.
Ran into Natasha as I was leaving work. She said "Rumor has it you're not CS anymore". That was a pretty quick rumor. Faster than me actually filling out my concentration forms :)
Tonight I attempted to fix my room since the painting is now done. The walls look great, but I'm having problems arranging furniture. I just have a weird set of furniture and some annoying limitations - only two outlets, two doors, and trying not to block the heater. The problem is the room is big enough to have a choice but not big enough to avoid constraints. Anyway I moved everything around way too much and still not happy. Sigh. The trials of the perfectionist.
The Ultras have arrived. They came in at about 2:30 this afternoon, and a message was broadcast to all nodes to come and help unload them. So about 30 people went down to the lobby and started hauling equipment in from the truck outside. It was pretty chaotic and over-peopled, because they couldn't get them out of the truck very fast. But once everything was inside, it got less overcrowded. Some people stayed down in the lobby loading equipment into the elevators while others went upstairs to get them out of the elevators and delivered to the offices. The monitors came first. Each monitor box had handles on either side, so two people could carry it easily. So I and a bunch of others were upstairs, and as soon as an elevator full of monitors arrived, we'd hit the emergency stop, then get them out of the elevator and send it back down. Then we'd carry them out to the offices, put each one where it belonged, and check it off the list that was posted on the door of each office. Checking things off was my favorite part.
After all the monitors were done on the 4th floor, a cartful of keyboards came up and Sam, Keith (Adams?), and I became the official keyboard deliverers. So we wheeled around with the cart, delivering keyboards and checking them off. We went down for another cartload from the Sun Lab and formed a pipline to pass them up from the 6th row, where they were. When we finished the second cartload, the monitors were pretty much upstairs and now we started unpacking them from the boxes. They were the best-packed monitors I've ever seen. You just pulled a little tab on the plastic handles to pull the handles out, then you could lift the top part of the box off and just lift the monitor right out. Amazing.
While we were unpacking those, other people were bringing up the CPU's and unpacking them. We brought all the empty boxes out to go down in the elevators again and by 5:30, everything was all done (except removing the old ones and actually installing the new ones, but that is not a job for the general public). TStaff even ordered pizza for everyone who helped out. It was pretty cool.
Here are the highlights from the whole thing:
Of course all this excitement tended to overshadow my other very exciting event of the day, which was that after fiddling with the code yesterday and today to make it more like mj's, I compiled and ran it and IT WORKED!! At first I actually thought I must be running the wrong executable. But it really did work and I even got some results.
This morning I came in to find a lab full of Ultras, up and running. A grand total of zero downtime, as far as I was concerned. Pretty amazing. Started running a bunch of tests on the new version of the parser to figure out how well it works.
Made some graphs from my data using gnuplot. It's kind of handy, but also pretty low-functional (at least as far as I can figure out). Not quite sure now what to do about the results I've been getting, which are not exactly all positive.
This evening I moved the furniture in my room for the 50th time, but this time it's finally *right*. I'm so relieved. I can now start to actually put things away instead of having them sitting in the hallway (I bet everyone else will appreciate that too).
Then Laurel and I went to see Love! Valor! Compassion! at the Avon. I'm really glad we did, because it was excellent. The acting and the story and the dialogue were all great. You could sort of tell it was a play first because of the dialogue and character development. One of the actors is a Brown grad. Jason Alexander was in it, playing a part that Nathan Lane played on Broadway. I think it's so funny how everyone is sort of connected like that.
I burned my thumb today with steam from something in the microwave. How stupid. The stupidest part is that I've come so close to doing that at least 10 times before and still haven't figured it out. I don't know what my problem is.
Picked a fight with Sam today. Kind of funny to see his reactions since he is so insistent about everything. I said his account was too pretty looking for the AI lab (better for Graphics) and he spent like 10 minutes trying to prove me wrong. :)
Went to a shabbat service and potluck dinner at Nina's house with Amy and Jeffrey. It was very nice and good food too. There were about 15 or 20 people there, mostly from the Conservative minyan, and some Reform. The service was pretty lowkey (though we did do the full thing) and we had wine and challah (homemade and excellent) and then the meal. Afterward we talked for a while and then benched. This was the first time I've ever benched. Or, rather, stayed while other people did, since I don't know any of the melodies or words. We didn't get back till quite late and then I just went to bed.
Wow. Full day. Got up at 8:30 and went over to the AC where they were having a large-scale tag sale. We bought a few things, came back, looked at the paper to figure out what was going on this weekend (lots) and then went to Wal-mart to get some kitchen items and other stuff. Got back at 1:15, made sandwiches, and then walked over to India Point park where there was supposed to be this weird performance sort of consisting of "The Tempest" and a circus with jugglers, acrobats, etc. It sounded really cool, but when we got there it turned out that they weren't having it today because the gathering at the end of the Pride March was there. So instead we wandered through the Pride thing (an interesting experience -- a few people were quite strange looking), had our little picnic, then wandered over to the other side of the park where there was a community league soccer game going on. All the players and spectators were speaking Portuguese, and we couldn't understand anything they were saying. I wonder what would happen if someone wanted to join who didn't speak Portuguese.
After that we went home and I set up my room some more. Then Julie came to vist from Boston and she and Jeffrey and Robin and I went out to dinner at Paragon. This is the first time I've been there, and I was amazed at both the quality and reasonable price of the food. Also it seems that the number of black-clad patrons is minimal during the summer.
Then we walked down to Waterplace park for WaterFire. They were having an arts festival for the last couple weeks and on the two Saturdays they light the torches in the water all along the river. So we went down to see. It was really cool. Also there were some weird performance art things. We met Sarah and Joseph there.
On the way back up the hill with Sarah and Joseph we passed Vart's house, and saw that he was having a big party and there were little floating lights in a pool in his yard. We were sort of looking at it, and the valet parking guy was like "Go take a look!" so we went in a bit further to the garden area. (Most of the people were inside further) It looked very beautiful, but we were just a tad underdressed and people were looking at us funny so we left.
Finished fixing up my room this morning, and in the process realized that I am missing the box with all my CD's and tapes. I looked twice in the basement and called Dan and he looked in his basement and it's not there. I think someone must have taken it. I am not happy. In particular, I am not happy about the tapes of things that I taped off the radio and compiled from various sources and which are not replaceable. The worst part is that if someone did take the stuff on purpose, they're probably disgusted with what I have, because I'm sure no one else would want half the stuff I listen to. It's so frustrating.
Anyway, after that I worked on Fimo for most of the afternoon and read some. It was my first quiet alone day in a while, and I definitely needed it.
Fairly uneventful day at work today. After dinner (which was quite late) Jeffrey and I went out on the porch and played Scrabble while Amy worked on an art project and did some research on tarantulas. It was a beautiful evening. It's great having a porch. We actually haven't finished the Scrabble game yet because it got too late and we had to stop. The score is currently 215 to 212 in Jeffrey's favor. We are almost done. I think it took so long because the board was terrible and there wasn't anywhere to go. I learned that, although "rex" is not a valid word meaning "king", it is in the dictionary. It refers to a breed of any of a number of animals which has short hair and no undercoat. In particular to a breed of cat answering that description. I challenged Jeffrey because I knew it wasn't valid for "king" in English.
Finished the scrabble game tonight. Score was 284 to 255 in my favor. I'm still waiting for the day when I break 300.
Went to Free Cone Day at TCBY (a misnomer since it is really Free Cone Hour, 12-1 every Wed.). Not as much appeal as as Ben and Jerry's, but it's more frequent :)
Big event at work today: the power went out. I had just come back from meeting with ec and mj, and was talking to John et al. in the lab, and all of a sudden the music stopped and all the computers died. It was pretty weird. We all looked at each other wondering what happened. Then we went out in the hall and saw that all the emergency lights were on so we knew the whole building was out. Other people started emerging from other offices and congregating in the atrium. It was strange how nobody seemed to know what to do, and everyone was sort of helpless. There were a couple people who didn't even know where the stairs were, which is pretty scary in the event of a fire or something. Anyway the power came back on after 5 or 10 minutes, but then it took another 10 minutes for all the machines to reboot. I still don't know what caused the problem.
Funny story: one of the women in astaff suggested that we all go out on the balcony and see if CIS was out on their balcony, and if so, we should spit down on them. :)
At the meeting, mj pointed out that there really is a way to figure out the right fudge factor by calculating rather than trial and error. ec was very excited. I have to try it tomorrow and see if the result agrees with the experiments.
This morning I used mj's fudge factor thing and it really did agree! (pretty close anyway). That's pretty exciting. After that I stared at code for a long time and had to talk to Eugene, but he had about 50 other people in line to talk to him and I finally got sick of waiting and went home.
I made a cane of Fimo this evening, and started to cover a pen with it but haven't finished yet. It's an experiment. I got the idea from the newsgroup, and it sounded like a cool project. I hope it works.
Today they announced the new president of Brown. His name is E. Gordon Gee, currently president of Ohio State. He wears a bow tie.
Today I went to Salem for the first meeting of the Central New England Polymer Clay Guild. I got a ride to S. Attleboro, then took the 8:47 commuter train to South Station, then the T to North Station, and the 10:15 commuter train to Salem, arriving at 10:44. I then wandered slightly looking for the church which was "right across from the commuter rail station" but arrived in good time for the 11:00 meeting. I realized en route that I was going to a place 2 hours away which I'd never been to before, using multiple forms of transportation, and I never spoke to or even contacted a single person before I got there. I found out about the meeting via the newsgroup, then found all the train schedules on the Web. It was a highly successful venture since I got exactly where I wanted exactly when I wanted.
Anyway, the meeting was fairly interesting, with about 8 people, and I got to see some of their stuff. I think I'm not used to being in a group with all women though. It was weird. There were samples of Clay Factory Clay there, which are definitely softer and easier to condition than Fimo, but I'm not sure I like the colors or feel. I think It's really hard to switch once you're used to something. It's taken me a long time to figure out how to mix Fimo colors well (and I still don't always get it right). On the other hand, one reason for this is that Fimo gets darker when you bake it, so maybe CFC doesn't. I also really like the finish of Fimo. I don't know what baked CFC looks like.
The meeting lasted until about 2:45, and the train back wasn't till 3:20, so I wandered around Salem a bit. It's pretty touristy, but not interesting touristy. Sort of hard to explain. There really just weren't any good shops that I saw. Then I took the train back to Boston and walked around Boston a bit because the connection wasn't that tight. Then I went to South Station. The train was supposed to leave at 4:45, but at 4:45 they still hadn't assigned it a track. No one seemed to know what the problem was. 15 minutes later, still no train, and still no one knew what was happening. Eventually they announced that there was a boarding delay due to "minor derailments" (??). Then around 5:15 they said "The 4:45 train to S. Attleboro will be buses. Buses have been dispatched." They repeated that periodically and then they at 5:30 they said "The 4:45 train to S. Attleboro is now boarding on Gate 4." So we all ran out and got on the train. Then it sat there for another 20 minutes before it finally left. I got home around 6:50, rather than 5:40 as scheduled.
Anyway, once I finally got back, mom and dad picked me up from S. Attleboro because they were visiting on their way back from Cape Cod. We went out to dinner at Tortilla Flats. It was okay, but the refritos were quite spicy. Dan says they're not usually that bad. After dinner we went to Dan's apartment for dessert (fruit and ice cream) and I gave Dad the Fimo pen (which I finished yesterday) for a belated Father's Day present. It came out pretty well, I think. Especially for a first try. I think I'll get some of the nicer pens with metal tips in the future.
Then we went to my apartment since none of them had ever been there, and talked for a while and then they went away.
This morning we all got up early and went strawberry picking in Johnston. I think it's about 10 minutes away, but it took us about 20 minutes to get there due to poor directions. Then we took a different way back that wasn't on the highway and that took a long time too. But in any case we picked about 12 pounds of berries and brought them back. Mom and Dad swung by before heading home, and then I sat down to work on a switchplate (another idea from the newsgroup). I had already made the cane before, so I just had to cover the plate. It took a while because I think I should have made the cane bigger, but after baking and sanding it looked really good and I put it up in my room.
Meanwhile Amy and her friend were baking strawberry rhubarb pie. I had some after dinner, and it was delicious. I think I'm going to make biscuits tomorrow and whip some cream and then we can have strawberry shortcake ratty-style.
Laurel and I had dinner together at a reasonable time tonight; we've all been having dinner at like 8:00 and it's ridiculous because you feel like you have to go to bed right after dinner and don't get anything done. So then after dinner she made a lentil chili and I made biscuits while we watched Jeopardy! Actually, the chili took about three hours to cook so it wasn't done then. But the biscuits were really simple and tasted good, and when the chili was done it was very good too. It did taste very similar to the ratty's lentil chili, which was sort of the desired effect. The only other time I've made something thinking it might be similar to the ratty's (veggie chili) it was totally different.
Laurel and I also went for a walk around the neighborhood. It's really nice to walk in the evenings cause it's finally cool outside. That or sit on the porch.
The AI Lab has been really crowded and noisy the last few days. It's fine in the morning and the late afternoon, but in the middle of the day there have been people at every machine and a lot of bantering and socializing and it's hard to work. I like to talk sometimes, but this is getting ridiculous.
Lab was quiet today. Got some weird results with the exponential parser and kept getting everything really confused and there's too many variables and had to run all these tests over and over becuase I would mess something up the first time. Ack! I don't understand what's going on. I'm trying to figure out the fudge factor and it should be the same as before but its not. And the edges are all messed up. Everything is all messed up and I can't think about it right.
Today our phone came back on, but then I tried to make a phone call (the same one as yesterday - calling Mom) and the phone died AGAIN. I am SO irritated. I had to make a ton of phone calls, including calling Dan to try and get him to drive me to the train station tomorrow. I had to come into the AI lab to call the phone company because everyone upstairs was gone for the weekend already. Then it took me a million years to actually get them due to ridiculous phone problems because the 800 number didn't work and you can't dial long distance from the lab, and other such things. I finally had to call them from the ACUS phone in the lobby. Ridiculous. And then they said that they probably won't be able to fix it tomorrow because of the holiday, so no phone until Saturday! AAAUGGH!
I went in to work until about 2:30 today. The building was officially closed and hardly anyone was there, although Daniel and John both came in. It was nice and I got a lot done (though none of it worked :)
I left work at around 2:30 and went home to get ready to go to Boston. Dan dropped me off at the S. Attleboro station and I took the commuter rail in. Jeffrey met me at South Station and we took the T over to Charles St. and walked to the Hatch shell (which I now realize is *not* called the hat shell, as I had always thought :) Robin and her parents and Jeffrey had been there since 6 am when they staked out a location. It was kind of a crazy scene. There's a fairly small area in front of the shell (a couple of hundred yards back and a hundred yards wide or so) and it was completely covered by tarps and blankets, lawn chairs and people. Apparently the way it works is that if you want any space, you get there around 6:00 in the morning and lay out your blanket/tarp and wait there all day. Then there are people who come in the evening at 5 or 6, and if there is so much as an 8 inch wide strip of grass showing anywhere (and there aren't many), they will sit on it. So what this means is that if you get there really early, you get a fairly spacious plot, and if you get there later, you might possibly get a spot to sit down but you won't be able to move or lie down. And by 7 there's definitely nowhere left to sit. Of course the vast majority of people don't even bother trying to see the concert, they just line the river and listen to the speakers. Supposedly there were about 40,000 people on the field, and 300,000 there altogether. It was pretty amazing. Plus of course they had TV cameras because this is the main TV 4th of July event.
In any case, the show was great. It started off at 7:48 when the Stealth Bomber did a fly-by. No kidding. It's really weird looking-- completely black but not shiny, and no curves anywhere. It looks sort of like a flying straightedge. Then they played lots of music of all kinds and they had the U.S. Army Field Band and Miss America and one of the cast members from Showboat (He sang Old Man River and it was fantastic. He got a standing O.) It is the 100th (?) anniversary of the MTA so they played "Charlie on the MTA" and it is also the 100th anniversary of 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' (which they would have played anyway :) They played the typical patriotic songs and had everyone sing along, which was fun. And I think Robin and I got on TV because we were sitting right near one of the cameras, and we started doing a little dance at one point and I looked over and the camera was pointed right at us. I wonder if anyone saw us, or taped it.
Anyway after the concert was over, they started the fireworks, which were truly spectacular, because they had them choreographed to music. I guess this is the first year they've done that, and it was extremely well done. They played (among others) 'Rodeo', 'Rhapsody in Blue', parts of 'West Side Story', and 'Rock around the Clock'. Also they had a lot of cool fireworks that I've never seen before, including some that made stars and peace signs.
I stayed at Robin's house for the night.
Came home this morning on Amtrak and walked home from the station. It was a beautiful day. I worked on Fimo in the afternoon and finished Mom and Dad's (belated) anniversary present, then went for another walk with Sarah before dinner. Dinner was with Amy and two of her friends. One of her friends is visiting from Kansas City and so a bunch of other friends all came over too.
Today I was a beach bum. Sarah, Joseph, Mark, Matt, Oded, Erica (their friend) and I went down to Scarborough for the afternoon. It was a beautiful day -- mid 80's and sunny. Hot enough to get wet, but not too hot to sit in the sun. Of course the beach was jammed. But we had a great time anyway. The water was a little cold, but once you got in it was okay as long as you jumped around in the waves. We rode waves for a while, then came out and lay in the sun drying out, and then we began a large building campaign. First we built a fortress with sewage system, which became a fortress with a toilet inside. Then we built a car around Sarah so she was covered up to her waist sitting in the car. Then we saw a large abandoned hole which Oded crouched in and we covered him up to his neck. It looked really weird, and we all stood around staring and laughing for quite a while. A lot of people walking by stared too. Eventually we dug him out and then we all washed off in the water again and went home.
When we got back from the beach, Jeffrey was back from Boston and he and I went upstairs to have dinner with Sarah and Joseph and Mark. After dinner we rented "Eat Drink Man Woman" which was a very good movie. The food preparation shots were amazing, and the whole feel of everyone in the movie was very exact and precise and no wasted movement. Almost choreographed. This included the crossing guard, the main characters, the chefs, the physical therapists. The movie itself had that feeling too.
Tuesday, 7/8/97 Today I did a whole bunch of test runs with new fudge factors and it took a really long time and then Eugene was gone all afternoon so I couldn't talk to him. Instead I worked on a design for the Men's Ultimate disc. Dan called me up yesterday and said I should design a disc, so I'm working on it. It's supposed to have fish on it, and I'm having some trouble making them look right. They keep looking either bad or too happy. They're supposed to look "determined" or "fierce", says Dan. While I was drawing, Daniel, Sam, and Matt were in the lab too so I was hardly bored -- they were finding bizarre web pages and we were all busy making fun of each other and trading insults, as usual. Apparently Berland has been reading my web log because he made a snide comment about what I wrote before about it being too loud in here. (Don't you feel so much better now that you're in here, Berland?)
After work I went to ballroom dancing, which was fun as usual. We worked on waltz almost the whole time, and my toes started to hurt from all the "inside edge of ball of foot" business. Then I went to the Sci-Li and scanned the pictures of my CIT model and went back to the AI lab and put them on my web page (finally!). They look really good, especially the one that has the same perspective as the picture of the real CIT.
Today Sam shared with us the wonder of "The Spirit of Christmas", a short animated movie. It's about Jesus and Santa Claus getting into a fight over the meaning of Christmas. Kind of blasphemous, but extremely funny. I had to watch it 2 1/2 times because it was on my machine, and people kept missing parts of it.
I finally started putting up the posters in my room tonight, but then I decided that I actually like the blank walls. So I didn't put them up after all. Instead I put them in the closet, along with the other crap that was on the couch, so now I can finally sit on it. I also put up the mirror, which was a much more trying experience than it ought to have been. I figured out where I wanted it and then I started hammering a nail into the wall, and it went in about 1/4" and then it stopped. At first I thought I hit a stud, but when I pounded the nail it had this totally bizarrre springy feeling to it. The hammer just bounced back. I tried pounding for a while anyway, because the nail seemed to be going in very slowly, but about all that happened is the nail went in another sixteenth of an inch (maybe), I had lots of fun with a rubber hammer, and I created a hole about a quarter inch across in the plaster around the nail. The entire experience was rather frustrating. I still don't understand what the hell is under my wall, and how big it is, and if I will be able to nail anything else in the wall somewhere else. In any case, I hung the mirror off a hook hanging from the top of the closet door, no nails involved.
While I was putting things up, I *finally* put up the mezuzah, which has been sitting on my desk for the past month because I keep forgetting to put it up and I was waiting for everyone else to be there. I gave up on everyone being there, so it was just Robin, who was hanging out in my room when I remembered. I think it's kind of funny that I'm the one who now seems to have sole responsibility for the mezuzah which was actually Laurel's from freshman year. It's been three years straight now that I've been the last one out of the room/suite, and had all my stuff packed and in the car, and about to walk out the door for the last time, when I suddenly look up at the door post and go "Uh, oh, we left the mezuzah!" so I take it down and put it in my backpack. And then I put it up the next year wherever it is we are then. This time when I was about to put it up Robin said, "Hey, you have to say the blessing!" which of course I don't know, so I said "What is it?" and she said "It goes right there, man!" I asked her who made that up, and she said I did. At which point I vaguely remembered saying something of the sort sophomore year in the grad center, and everyone finding it highly amusing. But I'm not sure if I really remember that or if I just remember Robin telling me about it when we had the same discussion *last* year. Oh well. I guess now that's the official mezuzah blessing.
Today I somehow managed to be entirely unproductive at work. On the other hand, I did pick some more black raspberries on my way back from the post office. I found this black raspberry bush a few days ago right on Waterman St. outside the greenhouse, and it has lots of berries on it and they're delicious. I can't believe no one else has been picking them. I feel kind of weird picking berries while everyone is walking by two feet away, but it seems to me if no one else wants them, at least I appreciate them. There's a sign next to the sunflower plant that says, "Please do not pick the flowers", but it doesn't say anything about berries. :)
This morning I somehow failed to wake up on time. I have woken up every single morning between 8 and 8:30 for the entire summer (no alarm) but this morning I didn't wake up until 9:45. Yikes. Anyway then I got up and got dressed and went to the kitchen and I passed Jeffrey in the living room and said "This morning I discovered that my internal clock is fallible" and then Jeffrey called me a "pretentious snot". After which he apologized but I told him "no problem, you'll just have to forgive me in the future when I call you the same thing." which will certainly be appropriate at some point. In any case, I left for work and ran into Phil riding his bike in for the first time because he just moved to Rhode Island (as he informed me). When I got to work it was almost time for Tony Cassandra's thesis proposal talk. I went there and he was about to start when the fire alarm went off. So I marched dutifully down the stairs, although the alarm stopped before I even got outside. Went back upstairs in two minutes and discovered that he had already started the talk! Some people do not take fire alarms seriously.
After the talk I came back to the lab and Berland said something about something that was on rumor and then he was like "but I bet you don't read rumor. You're too good for that, Miss Aristocrat." I seem to be having a bad day for insults.
I also found out I've been called to jury duty *again*. I just got called a year ago but I didn't have to show up, so I didn't get taken off the list. Ugh.
My reeds *finally* came in the mail today, so I can actually practice usefully now. Also the tape Mom made of the interview with Tom Lehrer on Weekend Edition. For once I wished they played less music and had more talking, but that's only because I've already heard all his songs 50 times.
Practiced dancing for an hour this evening -- there's a performance coming up at the end of the month. I also decided I'm going to go to the social dance tomorrow night, particularly since both Marshall and Joe (who I'm dancing with in the performance) will be there.
Today was a pretty quiet day. I read for a while, and worked on the design for the frisbee. I also went down to the basement and actually unpiled Nora's boxes (rather than just looking from the surface) and found my CD's!! I looked more carefully because I remembered that Nora had taken over some of my boxes and I thought she might have put them in with hers. So now I can actually listen to music again. The amazing thing is that I actually knew every single item in the box correctly. There were my CD's, my tapes, a pair of shoes, my address book, my colored pencils, my compass, and two pieces of tupperware. It was a pretty small box. Also, I compared my actual CD's to the list I made for the insurance, and found that out of 46 CD's, I listed 43 correctly. I missed 3, but I also listed 2 that I didn't actually have (I think they must be at home).
In the afternoon I decided I needed to get outside, so I walked over to Thayer St. to go to the bead stores and try and find some seed beads that matched the beads I made a few days ago. After about 5 minutes outside, I realized that being outside was not all it was cracked up to be, since it was about 95 degrees. I spent quite a while in one of the bead stores because they have a reading area and several beading and craft magazines. Plus it was air conditioned.
At 7:45 I walked over to Wayland Arch to meet the other people from the ballroom team and get a ride over to the social dance, which was in Cranston. There weren't too many people when we first got there, but by about 9:00 it was pretty crowded, with maybe 150 people. It got kind of difficult to do the waltzes and foxtrots because so many people were on the floor. But I had a great time anyway. There were about ten people from the ballroom team, and just about equal numbers of men and women, so I danced almost every dance (except when taking food or water breaks). I got asked to dance by some men I didn't know, as usual, but actually these ones were pretty good dancers. I think I still have the mindset of being at folkdancing or contra dancing as a 15 year old, so I am not used to getting asked to dance by random men in their 30's. I suppose if there were any men there under 30 who weren't from Brown, it wouldn't always be men in their 30's. As a whole, the people at this dance were pretty good, so they weren't just playing foxtrots the whole time. They did a surprisingly large number of sambas, which made me decide that I really need to learn more than 4 steps to that.
This afternoon I played spades with Mark, Laurel and Jeffrey. I've never played spades before. I think it's kind of like very simplified bridge, i.e. a trick game with partners. Mark and Laurel beat Jeffrey and me. Playing a trick game with a partner is quite different from playing it by yourself, but I haven't really figured it out yet. Meanwhile Jeffrey sits there counting cards, figuring out what everyone has in their hand, and predicting everything three turns in advance. It's rather intimidating.
I made chicken paprikash with nokedli (sp?) for dinner tonight. And of course had it with gravy bread. It was delicious, and Jeffrey and Laurel liked it too. I had to tell Jeffrey what the gluppedies were called about 5 times, and I think it didn't help that I was telling him both names. I finally settled on gluppedies, since I think nokedli is harder to say even if you remember it (at least if you aren't Hungarian).
One of these days I'll have to make a dobos torte :)
When I got home from work today I found Amy and Laurel and Jeffrey
trying (unsuccessfully) to light a grill on our front porch. Amy was
having a bunch of friends over and wanted to grill veggies. But she
had to go in to start cutting them up so the three of us were left
with the grill. We moved it off the porch (I'm not sure whose idea it
was to put it there in the first place) and after way too many tries,
we finally got it to stay lit. Actually it was due to Laurel's dad
(who happened to call while we were doing this) who said that rather
than assuming the fire had died after the lighter fluid had all burned
off and we couldn't see any flames any more, we should just cover it
up for 10 or 15 minutes and see what happened. So we did. And it
Meanwhile Amy and friends were inside cutting up veggies and
marinating them and making rice. They brought the veggies outside
and we skewered them and grilled them. They were sooo good. We also
had fruit salad. I ate way too much.
After dinner we sat around on the porch and didn't do much because
it was too hot, even outside at night. Later I came in and finished
my necklace and started reading The Scarlet Letter and went to bed.
Implemented the semi-exponential version of the parser today, which
doesn't crash or anything, but it's doing really weird things and I
can't figure out what's wrong with it. It's very
frustrating. Meanwhile Sam is trying to improve his Jumble solver by
adding search heuristics. I gave him one or two already based on
things that the parser does, and I'm trying to think of some better
Went to ballroom class after work, where we did tango the whole time but
got really hot and sweaty anyway because it's still so hot out.
Christina asked me if I am going to compete in the fall, implying that
I should. This is really annoying because I can't decide whether to do
ballroom or orchestra! I really want to do orchestra, but I think it's
losing out because I'm already doing ballroom. I think people need to
learn that if they want me for something (Latin, orchestra)
they need to let me in when they have the chance or I'll find
something else to do I like better (Russian, ballroom) and never look
Left work early today to go home. Of course I was right on the track
of a bug when I had to leave, which was rather frustrating. Hopefully
I won't have forgotten completely what I was doing when I get back.
Took the bus home, and left late from Providence, so we didn't make
the connection in Springfield. I had to wait an hour for the next bus
to Amherst. Bleh. Got into Amherst and saw the movie screen set up on
the Common for Hot Summer Nights. Amazingly, I didn't see anyone I
knew. Dad came to pick me up from the bus station in the new car
(which I suppose is practically a year old by now) and I almost didn't
Thursday, 7/17/97 through Saturday, 7/19/97
Went up to Northampton to the bead store, which annoyingly did not
have the beads I went there to get. Stopped at the mall on the way
back, trying to get a short skirt. Walked into JCPenney, and, surprise
surprise! they were having a huge sale. It's uncanny how the last 4 or
5 times I've been there has exactly coincided with a major sale.
Granted they have sales a lot, but I seem to hit only the biggest
ones. This time it was a semi-annual clearance sale. Unfortunately
they didn't have the right kind of skirt.
Rode over to Cushman to pick black raspberries with Mom. Huge patch
and no one seemed to be picking it (seems to be a trend with them).
We got about a quart and then rode home. I made a dessert later
with them which was sort of a cross between trifle and blackberry
shortcake. I used the Brusnichka liqueur from Petrozavodsk.
I seem to have come home at exactly the wrong time as far as our own
fruit is concerned -- ate the last two cherries on Thursday and the
first two raspberries on Saturday. I think I'm going to miss the
entire raspberry season.
Speaking of missing things, I made the mistake of opening the Music at
Amherst schedule, which was lying on the counter. Charles Neidich is
coming in February. You'd think I would have learned to stop torturing
myself after last time when I looked at the Fine Arts Center schedule
to find 2 musicals and 2 concerts I wanted to go to, and not a single
one on a weekend. I don't understand why Amherst and UMass get so
much better stuff than Brown does. I suppose it could have to do
with the fact that we don't actually have a concert hall. Ugh. I need
to stop writing about this before I get even more annoyed.
On a better note (no pun intended), I went about my usual plan of
reading every new piece of marginally interesting reading material in
the house, but thought my efforts would be in vain when I discovered
that Dad had bought a new book and I would have to read that in
addition to Newsweek and Discover (luckily we didn't have any back
issues of Newsweek or other random magazines lying around). But in the
end, I got through it all, though I only finished Discover on the bus
back to Providence.
Went to see Men in Black, which was reasonably entertaining (i.e.
worth the $2.50 I spent in Amherst, but definitely not worth the
$7.50 I would have had to spend in Providence. I don't understand
I also redid the lionfish for Dan's frisbee *again* (I think he will
like this one -- it's got the frisbee in its mouth and it's looking
out of the disc slightly). And I took a practice GRE. Brought my cs31
book back to school to attempt to remember it. Mom saw the book, read
the title, and made a face, saying "I can't believe you want to learn
this stuff." I pointed out to her that, in the particular case of this
book, I did not *want* to learn it, but I had to anyway. I think Mom
might well be CS major too if she were in college now.
Got back to Kennedy Plaza at 8:00 on Saturday, and took a cab up the
hill because I had a lot of stuff. The cab driver was obnoxious and
didn't even get out of the car to open the door for me, much less
the trunk. So I had to dump all my stuff on the back seat and it was
a pain to get it out. And he didn't say a word to me the entire time.
So I didn't tip him.
After I got back I hung out with Jeffrey and Laurel and Jeremy
(Laurel's 12-year-old brother, who was visiting with the rest of her
family, but the rest of them left this morning). Jeremy talks
non-stop. It's incredible. I can't decide who talks more, him or
their mom. He sounds just like their mom, too. Except she usually
tells stories about things that happened when she was younger, or
stories about their relatives, and he's only twelve so he doesn't have
any stories about when he was younger. So he talks about amusement
parks and his friends and computers and anything and everything else.
He's extremely intelligent, and he knows it. He's also pretty funny.
This morning we made waffles for breakfast (with chocolate chips --
Jeremy's idea). I worked on Fimo for a while and then Jeffrey and I
packed some lunch and the Scrabble board and headed up to the main
green. We sat at a table on the Faunce House porch until we got too
hot, then moved onto the grass under a tree. I started out way ahead
but used up all the good letters in the beginning. The game ended up
even closer than last time; I beat Jeffrey 281 to 277. Yikes. It took
us 2 hours and 20 minutes. Double yikes. I think next time we're going
to have a 5 minute time limit per move. Or maybe we could do it like
chess and give ourselves a total amount of time for the whole
game. That could be interesting.
Went in to work tonight and finished tracking down the bug I found
on Wednesday. The semi-exponential parser actually works now. Very
exciting. Ran some tests which I'll finish tomorrow.
Started beading another necklace and had a terrible case of
indecision trying to figure out which filler beads to use. Sometimes
obsessiveness is not ideal.
When I got home from work today I found Amy and Laurel and Jeffrey trying (unsuccessfully) to light a grill on our front porch. Amy was having a bunch of friends over and wanted to grill veggies. But she had to go in to start cutting them up so the three of us were left with the grill. We moved it off the porch (I'm not sure whose idea it was to put it there in the first place) and after way too many tries, we finally got it to stay lit. Actually it was due to Laurel's dad (who happened to call while we were doing this) who said that rather than assuming the fire had died after the lighter fluid had all burned off and we couldn't see any flames any more, we should just cover it up for 10 or 15 minutes and see what happened. So we did. And it worked.
Meanwhile Amy and friends were inside cutting up veggies and marinating them and making rice. They brought the veggies outside and we skewered them and grilled them. They were sooo good. We also had fruit salad. I ate way too much.
After dinner we sat around on the porch and didn't do much because it was too hot, even outside at night. Later I came in and finished my necklace and started reading The Scarlet Letter and went to bed.
Implemented the semi-exponential version of the parser today, which doesn't crash or anything, but it's doing really weird things and I can't figure out what's wrong with it. It's very frustrating. Meanwhile Sam is trying to improve his Jumble solver by adding search heuristics. I gave him one or two already based on things that the parser does, and I'm trying to think of some better ones.
Went to ballroom class after work, where we did tango the whole time but got really hot and sweaty anyway because it's still so hot out. Christina asked me if I am going to compete in the fall, implying that I should. This is really annoying because I can't decide whether to do ballroom or orchestra! I really want to do orchestra, but I think it's losing out because I'm already doing ballroom. I think people need to learn that if they want me for something (Latin, orchestra) they need to let me in when they have the chance or I'll find something else to do I like better (Russian, ballroom) and never look back.
Left work early today to go home. Of course I was right on the track of a bug when I had to leave, which was rather frustrating. Hopefully I won't have forgotten completely what I was doing when I get back.
Took the bus home, and left late from Providence, so we didn't make the connection in Springfield. I had to wait an hour for the next bus to Amherst. Bleh. Got into Amherst and saw the movie screen set up on the Common for Hot Summer Nights. Amazingly, I didn't see anyone I knew. Dad came to pick me up from the bus station in the new car (which I suppose is practically a year old by now) and I almost didn't recognize it.
Thursday, 7/17/97 through Saturday, 7/19/97
Went up to Northampton to the bead store, which annoyingly did not have the beads I went there to get. Stopped at the mall on the way back, trying to get a short skirt. Walked into JCPenney, and, surprise surprise! they were having a huge sale. It's uncanny how the last 4 or 5 times I've been there has exactly coincided with a major sale. Granted they have sales a lot, but I seem to hit only the biggest ones. This time it was a semi-annual clearance sale. Unfortunately they didn't have the right kind of skirt.
Rode over to Cushman to pick black raspberries with Mom. Huge patch and no one seemed to be picking it (seems to be a trend with them). We got about a quart and then rode home. I made a dessert later with them which was sort of a cross between trifle and blackberry shortcake. I used the Brusnichka liqueur from Petrozavodsk.
I seem to have come home at exactly the wrong time as far as our own fruit is concerned -- ate the last two cherries on Thursday and the first two raspberries on Saturday. I think I'm going to miss the entire raspberry season.
Speaking of missing things, I made the mistake of opening the Music at Amherst schedule, which was lying on the counter. Charles Neidich is coming in February. You'd think I would have learned to stop torturing myself after last time when I looked at the Fine Arts Center schedule to find 2 musicals and 2 concerts I wanted to go to, and not a single one on a weekend. I don't understand why Amherst and UMass get so much better stuff than Brown does. I suppose it could have to do with the fact that we don't actually have a concert hall. Ugh. I need to stop writing about this before I get even more annoyed.
On a better note (no pun intended), I went about my usual plan of reading every new piece of marginally interesting reading material in the house, but thought my efforts would be in vain when I discovered that Dad had bought a new book and I would have to read that in addition to Newsweek and Discover (luckily we didn't have any back issues of Newsweek or other random magazines lying around). But in the end, I got through it all, though I only finished Discover on the bus back to Providence.
Went to see Men in Black, which was reasonably entertaining (i.e. worth the $2.50 I spent in Amherst, but definitely not worth the $7.50 I would have had to spend in Providence. I don't understand movie prices).
I also redid the lionfish for Dan's frisbee *again* (I think he will like this one -- it's got the frisbee in its mouth and it's looking out of the disc slightly). And I took a practice GRE. Brought my cs31 book back to school to attempt to remember it. Mom saw the book, read the title, and made a face, saying "I can't believe you want to learn this stuff." I pointed out to her that, in the particular case of this book, I did not *want* to learn it, but I had to anyway. I think Mom might well be CS major too if she were in college now.
Got back to Kennedy Plaza at 8:00 on Saturday, and took a cab up the hill because I had a lot of stuff. The cab driver was obnoxious and didn't even get out of the car to open the door for me, much less the trunk. So I had to dump all my stuff on the back seat and it was a pain to get it out. And he didn't say a word to me the entire time. So I didn't tip him.
After I got back I hung out with Jeffrey and Laurel and Jeremy (Laurel's 12-year-old brother, who was visiting with the rest of her family, but the rest of them left this morning). Jeremy talks non-stop. It's incredible. I can't decide who talks more, him or their mom. He sounds just like their mom, too. Except she usually tells stories about things that happened when she was younger, or stories about their relatives, and he's only twelve so he doesn't have any stories about when he was younger. So he talks about amusement parks and his friends and computers and anything and everything else. He's extremely intelligent, and he knows it. He's also pretty funny.
This morning we made waffles for breakfast (with chocolate chips -- Jeremy's idea). I worked on Fimo for a while and then Jeffrey and I packed some lunch and the Scrabble board and headed up to the main green. We sat at a table on the Faunce House porch until we got too hot, then moved onto the grass under a tree. I started out way ahead but used up all the good letters in the beginning. The game ended up even closer than last time; I beat Jeffrey 281 to 277. Yikes. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. Double yikes. I think next time we're going to have a 5 minute time limit per move. Or maybe we could do it like chess and give ourselves a total amount of time for the whole game. That could be interesting.
Went in to work tonight and finished tracking down the bug I found on Wednesday. The semi-exponential parser actually works now. Very exciting. Ran some tests which I'll finish tomorrow.
Started beading another necklace and had a terrible case of indecision trying to figure out which filler beads to use. Sometimes obsessiveness is not ideal.
There's a ballroom performance on Saturday (my first one!), so Tracy brought some of the crazy costume dresses to class today so Diane and I could try them on. I think I'm going to be wearing this light blue dress with rhinestones all over it and feathers around the bottom. Oy. Of course the short dresses for the Latin dances are much more reasonable. I picked a red skirt with a few sequins which I can just wear with a black shirt.
Laurel started inviting people to her birthday party today. Her birthday is on Friday, and she wanted to have a Madonna dance party, so that's what we're doing. I'm not sure if that means *only* Madonna or just *lots* of Madonna. Robin is supplying the music. It would be nice if we had Tashana's dance mix. Robin's mom and aunt found out about Madonna and they're making Laurel a metal cone bra for a present. It was actually Robin's dad's idea. Robin's parents are weird. We've never had a party of this kind before, so we're kind of unsure how much food/alcohol to get, but hopefully it will turn out all right.
We had the dress rehearsal for the ballroom performance tonight, and it turns out the the waltz has been converted from a group number to a solo number which means I'm only doing swing and cha-cha, which in turn means no insane dress with rhinestones and feathers. That's a bit of a relief. It seemed like it would be really hot anyway.
Laurel's birthday! I am happy to say that the party was a great success. We had exactly the right amount of food and we only broke one thing (a wine glass which came with the apartment and didn't match any of the other ones anyway -- plus Jeffrey was the one who broke it so no one felt bad). We also got several compliments on our apartment, which we all thought was highly amusing since our common room has been undecorated for the past 2 months. This afternoon we put a lot of effort into making it look artificially good: After cleaning and vacuuming, we put up a bunch of posters, brought some books from Jeffrey's room to fill up the shelves of the entertainment center, added some plants moved from our kitchen, and put out some pictures. We also borrowed Sprocket and John Denver from upstairs. Sprocket is always a good conversation piece, although we had to remove him later because people were jumping up and down and the floor started shaking and the water was bouncing out of his tank. Oops. I hope we didn't traumatize him too much. Anyway I think we should have had a party 6 weeks ago so we would have fixed up our common room then.
Laurel received the cone bra in good humor (it was made of cardboard and silver lame) and even wore it for part of the evening, particularly while we were playing Madonna. Timna came down from Woods Hole, but on the whole we actually had a rather small contingent of unit mates. Sarah and Joseph are in DC visiting Nora and Matt, Sat, and Oded didn't come. So it was just me, Laurel, Timna, Steve, and Piriya. Then there were Kol B'yachad people and Chem people and Bio people. And Matt Berland's housemate was there too, although I didn't realize who he was at first, because Laurel only told me he was Karen's (from Hillel) boyfriend.
Slept late this morning. Got up and worked on the frisbee. Only one license for xphotoshop and it was in use so I had to wait a while. Went home and got ready for ballroom performance.
On my way over to Wayland Arch, I ran into Erica in her car so I just got in with her. She and her housemate Bernadette were waiting for someone, and when he got in I looked over to see none other than Mike Rubin. Bizarre. Turns out he is going out with Bernadette and they just started taking lessons this summer.
The dance was at a different place than last time, much nicer and with a humongous dance floor and live band and the infamous "blinking flag." (The other team members who had been there before kept warning us about the huge tacky American flag in blinking lights, and they were not mistaken) It's the sort of place you'd rent out for weddings and things like that. And the crowd was totally different from the last place, about 30 years older. It was kind of annoying because no one moved anywhere even in the travelling dances, and the floor was really crowded, so it was like bumper cars. The band was good, though some of the music was a bit sappy. Given the crowd it was less foxtrot-ful than I would have expected, which was nice. The performance was at 9:00 (the dance was from 8-11:30), and went off smoothly.
AAAI started today. I met John in front of the CIT at 8:30 and we walked down to the Rhode Island Convention Center, which is downtown attached to the Westin Hotel. We went up and registered -- Daniel was volunteering this morning and he registered us -- and I got a way cool AAAI tote bag (complete with zipper). The main events don't start until Tuesday, with today and tomorrow reserved for four-hour "tutorial" sessions on a variety of topics. They are intended to give people with a different area of expertise a brief introduction to other topics in AI.
In the morning I went to one called "Evolutionary Algorithms and Artificial Life" which was totally fascinating. There were two different speakers. Melanie Mitchell talked about genetic algorithms in general for about an hour, what they're useful for, what they're not so useful for, the history, and so on. I felt that she had a much better grip on reality than a lot of the GA people seem to (i.e. she pointed out a lot of things GA's are NOT good for and many of their failings). Then she talked about her own research, which is with cellular automata. They're like the little cells in Life, except they're one dimensional instead of two dimensional. So the contents of a cell in the next generation are determined by the contents of the surrounding cells in the current generation. The funny thing is they actually had a couple questions about one of these on the practice GRE I took. Anyway, she showed some pictures of cellular automata over time (automata on one axis, time on the other) with 0's and 1's as black and white, and they made these cool fractal shapes. Then she talked about how she's been using genetic algorithms to evolve rules so the automata will change to all 1's or all 0's depending on whether they start out with a majority of 1's or 0's. In other words, they have to come up with a collective behavior based on local information. They made these neat patterns and stuff. Very appealing the the mathematical art side of things. (and a hell of a lot more informative than Mandelbrot.)
Then John Banati talked about a bunch of different things from his cognitive science research, ranging from evolutionary strategies for cooperation/defection in the iterated prisoner's dilemma, to this wacked-out stuff with trying to get programs to learn to communicate with each other. I really need to find his paper, 'cause it was incredibly interesting but he skimmed over a lot of stuff. When I came back to the lab and was telling Sam about it, he remarked that it was "super shifty."
After lunch, I went to a talk on "Default Reasoning: Causal and Temporal Logic." I think I was completely talked out already because I started spacing out almost as soon as he started talking. I think it would have been interesting had it been earlier in the day. I also got really irritated with the guy because I had decided by half an hour into the talk that I couldn't concentrate enough to get anything out of it so I should just leave, but the damn speaker wouldn't stop for a break! They're supposed to have a break every hour, but he didn't stop until over 2 hours into the talk. Aagh! I was drawing little diagrams of Fimo canes for the last 45 minutes. I finally got out of there around 4:15.
This morning's tutorial was interesting for a while, but got pretty damn boring about halfway through. It was about databases, which would explain why it got really boring. They talked a bit about datalog, which was cool because I actually know it (and if I hadn't I would have been completely lost).
After that I caught the tail end of the Legobot competition. They had a robot building lab all day yesterday and this morning, and then the bots competed in a game of "BotBall" (try to get as many ping pong balls of your color into the central circle). It was interesting because they were working with essentially the same equipment we had in cs148, but only a day and a half to make it work. All the robots were a lot bigger than ours but definitely were not as sturdy. No drop tests here. A couple of pieces fell off even during the tournament. They were also very highly rigged up for the specific task and since they weren't limited to just legos like we were, they had pieces of paper, string, cellophane, tape, and other things built into the structure. It was all kind of hacked up, but I guess you can't expect anything else with only 10 hours. None of them had very robust programs (i.e. if something went wrong and they bumped into something, half of them wouldn't notice.), but some of them managed to do pretty well. And, as expected, there were some tense moments during the competition, when two robots would run into each other and just keep trying to shove each other out of the ring. I don't know if they all used the same gear ratio or maybe their motors didn't need gearing down, but for some reason they all had the same speed and torque, so they would just stalemate.
Then I went to about half the afternoon tutorial, which was about computationally expensive tasks. The part I heard was about a computer program that proved the Robbins Conjecture autonomously. I still don't completely understand how it did that, and I also wonder why I never heard about this when it happened about a year ago. The Robbins Conjecture has to do with some formula that was proposed to be part of a basis for Boolean algebra. Or something like that.
Today was a very good day. In addition to being at the conference and going to several interesting talks and watching robots, I also broke the 300 point barrier in Scrabble and got $500. Okay, I didn't actually get $500, but I did *finally* get a letter about the woodwind prize that I supposedly received back in May, wherein they apologized for the delay and said they were sending me $500. And actually I played two games of Scrabble today, one against the computer in the exhibition hall at the conference (in which the score was about 250 to 350, my loss) and one against Jeffrey (in which the score was 287 to 316, my win). In fact, not only did I break 300, but we both scored personal bests, *and* we cut the play time by half an hour.
So like I said, today was a good day.
Today I went to the talk that made the whole conference worthwhile. It was this guy from MIT talking about how he wrote a program to learn phonological word classes/rules (e.g. learn to pluralize words with the correct phonemes). First of all, he was wearing four items of clothing which were completely at odds with one another: a large cowboy hat, two knives (in pouches) on his belt, a pair of glasses with a set of flip-up lenses (*not* sunglasses, though), and a pocket protector. Then he got up there and proceeded to talk about how he was representing the phonemes as bit vectors corresponding to the distinctive features, throwing around statements about how this was "standard" and "just like Halle and Chomsky" although he admitted to not knowing anything about linguistics, and didn't seem to even be aware that perhaps not everyone agreed with Halle and Chomsky. And then he showed some results, comparing his program to previous ones, where the previous ones looked at a few thousand examples and then ran with about 90% accuracy, and his program looked at about 3 examples and ran with 100% accuracy. And he showed that "this domain is really trivial," that his program learns "just like a child," by generalizing after very few examples and going through a period of overgeneralization and then fixing it, etc. John and I were cracking up the whole time. Even Matt and Sam, who don't know anything about linguistics, could tell that the learning side of things was sounding just a tad fishy.
When he stopped talking, people started asking questions. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time so the brawl barely had a chance to mature, but there was one guy who pointed out that he only showed the results for the regular forms, to which he responded "oh, well it gets 100% accuracy on the irregular forms too" and the guy just started arguing with him, but I couldn't understand half of it because the guy in the audience talked faster than anything.
In any case, the whole thing was great fun and we all enjoyed it a lot. I kind of wished Eugene had said something too, but he was his usual reticent self.
AAAI is over and EMNLP is now in full swing. Went to talks all day. One of the talks this morning was eerily like what I'm doing for my research. Clearly Eugene agrees because he jumped right in with a question that directly relates to what we're doing and then when he saw me afterwards, he said "I've got to talk to Goodman!" (the guy who gave the talk). John says that he later said something along the lines of "I think my parser is still better than Goodman's!" There's some serious competition going down. Guess it's time for me to read the paper.
I went out to dinner at Sicilia's with John and Kevin (his housemate) and then hung out at their apartment for a while afterwards. We had a rather extended discussion about religion of various types (inspired by Kevin's carpool-mate from high school, Todd, who was at AAAI and stayed with John and Kevin. I expounded for a while about Reform vs. Conservative vs. Reconstructionist Jews, though I still feel like I don't know as much about this as I would like to. Also I told Kevin about TSIMMIS, which I forgot to mention in here a few days ago. TSIMMIS (The Stanford IBM ? ? Information System) is this database system that was featured in a (very boring) talk I went to at AAAI. I really had a great deal of trouble taking the people seriously because they kept referring to it with absolutely no hint that it meant anything at all. I would have been much happier had they simply acknowledged the meaning of the word.
Quote of the Day: "If brute force doesn't work, you're not using enough." -- Michael "Fuzzy" Mauldin, founder and chief scientist of Lycos, describing their motto.
I'm done with conferences! What a relief! Not that they weren't interesting, but I have spent an entire week, including a weekend (last Sunday and today) getting up really early, sitting in talks all day, and not getting outside. It gets exhausting.
The invited talk today was by the guy who founded Lycos, the web search engine. It was only marginally related to NLP, but interesting and highly amusing nonetheless.
Laurel left this morning for Disneyworld/cruise/Bahamas/DC/home. She will be gone for the rest of the summer. It kind of drives home the point that it's August and summer is getting pretty short. I only have a week left before I'm leaving on vacation, too. It seems like school is about to start. I don't think I'm entirely looking forward to that.
This evening I put a different kind of pen in the oven to test it before covering it with Fimo, and when I came back 15 or 20 minutes later, the pen was about half as long and twice as fat as before. Sort of like a shrinky-dink. It was pretty wild. I guess I won't be using that kind of pen for Fimo anytime soon.
I just realized where I got the phrase "It's very exciting" from (which I have been saying an awful lot lately). Jeffrey. He said it this evening and it suddenly struck me. All I can say is if I ever start saying "The answer is..." someone better smack me.
Listened to Garrison Keillor, where they were having their annual joke show. They had a bunch of musician jokes, and, amazingly, one I had never heard:
It's better when you have a chorus of people doing the "who's there."
I would like to say that I slept late this morning (since no conference) but in fact I didn't. Got up at 8:30 as usual. Though I went to bed at 11:00 last night so I still ended up finally getting enough sleep. Jeffrey left this morning for New York and Connecticut to visit Dina and help her host a dinner party for all her high school friends (he bought an Emily Post book to give her as a present). Since he's not working, he hasn't given a definite return date, but probably won't be back till Tuesday or Wednesday, so it's just me and Amy. We made pancakes for breakfast.
I didn't do much for most of the day, because I'm trying not to start anything that I won't have time to finish. I did make a Fimo pen and clear out some papers from my room and clean the shelves in the pantry. Then I went to the lab and finally ran the sentence that Eugene mailed me like a week ago. Read up on grad schools and emailed for some application forms. Then I went down to the TA room and talked to Sam for a while; got invited to dinner at GnuHouse (actually Finlandia, one of the coops, but dubbed GnuHouse this summer due to the fact that 10 CS majors are living there.) All the graphics people are gone this week at SigGraph so it was a relatively small and graphics-free dinner.
During dinner we hatched a plan to go see Air Force One, but it didn't start for an hour, so I went home to read Goodman's paper from EMNLP in the meantime. Kind of annoying when you can only get through 8 pages in 45 minutes (and this was an easy paper). Papers are such a pain. Anyway then I headed back to GnuHouse, met up with Sam, Moter, Castelle, and Matt (who had shown up in the meantime), and headed off to North Attleboro.
The movie was hilarious, though unintentionally so. It's impossible to take a movie seriously when it's about a bunch of terrorists hijacking Air Force One to get a Kazakhi general released from prison in order to reunite "Mother Russia", and the president becomes an action hero. I think the motivation of the terrorists was the most absurd part, since it was extremely unclear whether they were Russian or Kazakh, and why on earth a general from Kazakhstan would ever want to reunite the Soviet Union. But there are bad movies, and there are movies that are so bad they're funny. At least one fell into the latter category. I certainly can't say that I saw a good movie, but I can definitely say I was entertained.
I got about 3 hours of work done this morning and then ran out of desire to do anything useful. So I went home for lunch, practiced, came back to the lab at about 2:00, and then talked to people for the rest of the afternoon.
I kept complaining about how I didn't feel like doing anything, and all of a sudden Sam was like, "Let's go to Boston!" I thought he was kidding, but it became apparent that he really wasn't. But I had ballroom class this evening, which I already missed last week, so I didn't want to go. But I realized that I'd probably be in exactly the same boat tomorrow, so I suggested that we play hooky and go to Boston tomorrow. This seemed to go over well, so we decided to go for it. We invited John and Matt also, though John said he had too much to do and couldn't go.
At ballroom, Christina wasn't there so it was just a practice, though Erica and Tracy were around so they were able to give us pointers. We've gotten to the point where we have all the steps we know totally down, so they start bugging us about every little stylistic thing. It's really hard to think about everything at once -- take smaller steps, don't hunch your shoulders, don't straighten your arm all the way, don't bend from the waist, keep your head up and look slightly above the horizon, etc.
Was supposed to meet Sam and Matt in the lab at 9:30. Sam showed up at 9:50, saying he hadn't been able to reach Matt the night before. So we called Matt up right then and convinced him to come with us. After a bit of delay, we headed out in Sam's "Give me a speeding ticket. Please!" bright red sports car. Got to Boston, parked near Harvard Square, got some lunch, and took the T over to the Science Museum. I had brought a couple of maps, which of course they both teased me about (doesn't everyone?) but which were highly useful (aren't they always?) since none of us had a clue where the science museum was. Actually I have to give some of the credit to Matt, since he actually has a sense of direction, whereas Sam's seems to be at least as bad as mine.
We did all the usual things at the museum, including of course the math room, which I think Sam was duly impressed by, and we also went to the planetarium show, which was about the possibility of life on Mars (and other planets). They talked about the martian meteorites in Antartica and the possibility of bacteria on Mars and had some pictures from the Mars Rover. It was pretty good as long as the movie was going and the live narrator wasn't talking. He was really annoying.
We got back to Providence around 7:30, and I had dinner, did some packing, and zonked out for about 45 minutes. Then I went over to Cafe Zog to hear John play. He's been playing jazz there every Wednesday this summer with a bunch of other people, but I kept forgetting to go or not having time. I realized this is my last chance before leaving, so I went. It was pretty good, and I saw a lot of people I knew.
Also this morning Eugene sent an email to me, John, and Ken, asking if any of us were available to housesit for him. I couldn't do it because I will be gone, but John has taken the offer and went over today to get the lowdown. I'm so annoyed that I won't get to even come over and visit. Anyway he found out that there *is* a female cohabiting person (named Lynette), that the son Aaron is actually about 14 or 15 (We had thought 12), and that he is going to be sleeping in Charniak's bed! I can't believe I'm missing this.
My last day of work before leaving for Colorado. This morning I went to talk to Charniak and discovered him in a mood of elation. Apparently while I was playing hooky yesterday, he went and implemented the thing he told me to do, and it cut the number of popped edges by more than half! It also increased the time per sentence at first, but then he went and fiddled some more and now it doesn't do that as much. I can't believe it worked that well. Of course, he doesn't have any recall/precision statistics, so it's possible that they've gone to pot, but hopefully not since everything else I've ever done has barely affected them. Anyway the lowdown here is that we now have on our hands something that's worth writing a paper about. I'm not exactly sure what that means for me, but it can't be bad. Pretty damn exciting, in fact.
Anyway, I spent the rest of the day until 3:00 talking to people and commenting things. It's hard to believe this is it. It's been a great summer; I've moved into a new apartment, I've hung out with my friends, I've made some new friends, I've danced, I've played music, I've worked with Fimo, I've heard famous researchers speak, I've seen robots in action, and I've learned a lot.