allekha: (Default)
It's nice to be back after being gone for so long. (Long story short: my computer became unusable due to power issues, then was held captive by tech support for almost two months, after which it still wasn't fixed because they couldn't be bothered to ship the right part from California, so I then had to take it to a local place and spend my own money to get the power jack replaced.)

We had our first snowfall near the end of October. I wonder if we'll have a proper winter this year.

Happy, mostly fannish stuff under this cut )

Elections-related stuff under this cut )
allekha: (Zukaang hug)
What in the goddamned fucking hell, America?

I was so excited this morning. I happily went to cast my ballot. I started to mentally write something cheerful about America and doing good and maybe being a little proud of my country for the first time since June last year.

Instead, I ended up breaking down at one in the morning after managing to prevent several panic attacks. I called by mom and just lost it. She tried to reassure me about how it's not the end of the world, and I know intellectually that that's probably true; I don't want to think about that right now. I don't want to think. I don't even want to get angry. Angry can wait until tomorrow, until I've slept.

I'm just in total disbelief. I thought the people here could be better than this. I thought all the statisticians and polling data couldn't be that wrong. The world makes no sense to me right now.

It's four am and I can't sleep. I've moved past horrified into numbness but I can't settle. I'm going to listen to something happy and draw, maybe do some writing, maybe study Japanese. And get something hot to drink.

I hope everyone is holding up okay, given the circumstances.
allekha: (Default)
It's been a while since I wrote anything here. I kept wanting to get back into the habit, but... it didn't feel right to do so without mentioning Starlight, and I didn't want to.

Starlight was my childhood cat. I can still remember the day we brought her home from the shelter, such a small kitten who grew large and pudgy. She liked being held but only occasionally being in a lap, and she liked strangers, and even if she was lazy, she was better at mousing than Aki has been.

A few months ago, my parents had to put her down. She was kind of sick for a while. She was nearly fourteen. But it was still unexpected for me to get a call when I was at a friend's place and hear that she was gone. I didn't want to ruin the fun for everyone else, so I didn't say anything and waited until I got back to my apartment to be upset.

It hit me harder when I got home, because she wasn't around to pick up and cuddle. There's just flowers from the vet sitting in a favorite sunroom sleeping spot. And Aki is terrified of strangers, and even when I've been here for a few days she won't let me get very close. It's strange to be here and not have a cat I can pet and who will let me pick her up and who will come beg me for food. And who is a little grumpy and arthritic and lazy but will play if you give her a catnip mouse.

...anyway, I went to Con.txt last weekend (hi, new people!) and wrote a con log up, so I felt like I finally had to post something.

Con.txt 2016 convention report here )
allekha: (Default)
Today I saw Zootopia! It was... better than I expected? It's surprisingly smart for a kid's movie; the anvils are heavy and dropped very often (discrimination is bad!) but the discrimination in the film maps to different groups in different ways and at various points in the film - there's racism, of course, but also sexism, the fear of a minority by the majority, how people who have experienced discrimination can say thoughtless things themselves, etc. Plus, the humor and the animation were pretty good; we both particularly liked how technology was integrated into the film (Judy using her phone as a flashlight or to film suspects, etc).

Oh, and I started a fantumblog for my favorite obscure game, Betrayal in Antara. It has a grand total of one follower so far \o/ I'll be happy even if it doesn't pick up any more, since this is a project as much for myself as anything. Even if I still don't understand how Tumblr works (why are some of my images resized but others not...?). Which reminds me, I really need to finish Betrayal at Krondor, which means grabbing the save files off my old computer....

Spring has definitely sprung here, in terms of the weather if not the plant life, and just in time for spring break! Tomorrow, since it's supposed to be a bit warmer, I think I'll go hike down to that waterfall that's supposed to be nearby, maybe bring some of that pie I made for Pi(e) day, read a book or work on alife stuff.
allekha: (Default)
...and I fell off with keeping up with DW AGAIN because life, why. The summary: I got sick. Then I got a stomach virus and was useless and miserable for three days, when I was already scrambling to catch up on a class that I added late. Things have mostly evened out again, although this week was so busy - I got pulled in to a group Skyrim bards cosplay for the local con this weekend, and apparently I was the only one with much knowledge of sewing? At least I had help for making the costumes, mostly in doing the hems (and thank the gods for that, hems are the worst), but that took a lot of hours. We practiced the songs while we worked :D

One of my classes is about ontologies. I found the concept of an ontology really hard to understand, but I think I have now grokked it. (An ontology is basically a formal definition of a set of concepts, their attributes, and how they relate to each other. Kind of like a class definition, if you're a programmer.) They're a component of the 'semantic web' that my group keeps having talks about, and the term gets thrown around a lot, so it's nice to know what people are talking about now. My partner and I are making a tea ontology so we can make an application that offers suggestions for how to blend teas!

In-between all of the programming and homework I spoiled myself with a couple of books. From the local library. Even though I told myself I wouldn't get a card until I finished reading the books I own. ...but they were really interesting!

The first is Lost in the Taiga. It's about a family of fundamentalist Russian Old Believers who fled from religious persecution into the Siberian taiga, and lived in isolation for decades before being rediscovered by a team of geologists. The book is about their lives both before and after discovery, though the focus is on the two family members the author repeatedly met with (the others having died).

There's a lot of details about how they survived the incredibly harsh conditions, and it was interesting to read about what aspects of modern life intrigued them or that they found strange. These weren't always as obvious as one might think; the daughter of the family took a few airplane trips and was more fascinated with trains and indoor toilets. She still lives out in the taiga today - she claims the air in places closer to civilization (even quite rural places with other Old Believers) makes her sick, and she doesn't appear to care so much about the danger.

One thing I liked about this book is that this family receives assistance and gifts from people many times, and they also would give visitors and the geologists at the camp presents of potatoes and pine nuts. It's actually quite heartwarming to see how so many people went out of their way to help this odd little family who had restrictive beliefs (not using matches, not eating many foods, etc). I don't have any complaints about the book; I saw that some reviews criticized the translation (it was originally in Russian), but I thought it was fine - not sure if there's different editions out there or if I'm just too used to shitty translations or?

The other book I finished was Vitamania. In terms of advice, it probably doesn't contain anything anyone hasn't heard - eat fruits and vegetables, don't take megadoses of vitamins or minerals, supplements are unregulated scams wastes of money. Well, I did learn that cooking with oil makes some vegetables more nutritious. But anyway, it's not an advice book.

It's really a history of vitamin deficiency diseases and vitamin discovery, followed by Americans' relationship with vitamins and their regulation. I was shocked to discover why it is that the FDA doesn't regulate supplements - it's because they can't, because Congress told them not to, because they were inundated with two million letters of protests, because supplement sellers lied to customers and made it about FREEDOM OF CHOICE and how the government was going to BAN YOUR HERBAL TEA (they weren't), and so on. There were parts where I had to skim because I was so angry. There's also a lot in there about how supplements have horrible dosing, make spurious health claims that they can't prove, probably aren't even what's on the label, etc etc etc. The last bit is essentially about how little we know of nutrition and the questions scientists are still pursuing.

Very interesting book, if a bit rage-inducing. The author belabors her point too much - yes, we get it, Americans eat too much processed food and unquestioningly associate vitamins with health and only get enough vitamins because of enrichment and fortification only made possible by foreign companies. But, it seems well-researched (there's lots of citations in the back) and it was easy to get through, so do recommend.

Happy 2016

Jan. 10th, 2016 04:47 am
allekha: (Default)
So I decided to take a break from some sites, including DW, for NaNoWriMo (especially since I had grad-school-related things to do as well) and got caught in the habit of not checking them at all because I felt like I had to read all of the things I missed. Or something. Brain, it doesn't have to work that way.

Anyway, NaNo worked out okay, even though I got very distracted by Fallout 4. I have a few complaints, some of which were easily fixed by mods, but overall I've had a lot of fun running around the wasteland with cute robots. And grad school programming has been... okay? I got kind of discouraged about my project for a bit, but now I'm back to working on it. It would be nice to have documentation, though. Or, like, feedback. No-one's been communicating about this thing since school let out. And Ubuntu won't connect to the internet here even though it was fine with my apartment's wifi. So slightly less than okay, actually.

I'm still visiting at home. I'd meant to go back earlier, but I have a minor dental problem that I might as well have fixed down here, and a friend who is going to a conference in DC invited me to come help keep her company for a couple of days. It's been nice seeing my parents and friends again. Though I am looking forward to watching anime and making food and adventuring with my new friend Z. I just hope that when I go back there will be snow on the ground already. This winter has been too warm!

I am starting to get concerned about my sleep schedule repeatedly failing to be a schedule. Should try to work on that; hopefully it's not a medical issue, though given my parents, I'm worried it might be.

The last book I read in 2015 was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book that inspired Blade Runner. It was okay, but I think this is one of those cases where the adaptation is better than the original. The book has some interesting parts, but also some that I didn't understand at all, and overall I felt like I might have liked it better if I read it with a book club or English class. And if there was better treatment of the female characters. It's been a while since I saw Blade Runner, but from what I remember, it really pushed the 'what measure is a non-human' thing more than the book did, without having confusing religious dream? sequences. Granted, both of them - and the movie Ex Machina - got me kind of annoyed by the definition of humanity (and with it 'beings worthy of basic respect') involving empathy or emotions, but that could be a whole rant on its own.
allekha: (Default)
Figuring out how to do things in pycaffe is like trying to learn a foreign language. Without a dictionary. Or a helpful native speaker. I've got a post on Stack Overflow, some test code that double as example code, and a lot of experimentation.

...however. I am the kind of person who, during a group project or whatever, tends to worry about contributing enough, only to show up to a meeting and find that I am in fact being at least as productive as the other people. This trend seems to be continuing; at yesterday's group meeting I felt like I was pulling my weight. Right now the three of us are kind of working on two different projects, but we are making good progress.

Been watching a lot of fanvids/amvs lately during coding breaks (not that Youtube's recommendation algorithm has figured this out yet :| ) and started wondering about the difference between western-style fanvids and amvs. Or rather, how much of one there is. I feel like good amvs tend to be more closely tied to the beat of the music, while this isn't necessarily the case for a good fanvid - this excellent Marvel vid, for example, is sometimes cut slightly off from where I expect it (my expectations having been shaped by amvs), to the point where it's disorientating if I concentrate too hard on it. (Contrast, say, this Evangelion amv.) But then there's vids like this Hannibal one which are closely matched to the music... but I thing it's more common in amvs, still. And I don't think there's a vid equivalent to 'dance vids', where you usually have a clips from many different anime, and it's more visually oriented than meant to have any kind of meaning (like this one by Vivifx).

For some reason I had managed to forget that the next book in Lockwood & Co came out this September! My copy arrived on Tuesday, but I went to bed very early, and on Wednesday I put it off until after the meeting yesterday so I wouldn't get distracted from coding. So last night I picked it up and read it straight through in one shot.
Thoughts on The Hollow Boy )
allekha: (Default)
I now rejoin you from the Land of Installing Caffe Dependencies and Compiling It. Hello new people from the friending meme!

Caffe is the 'deep learning'/neural network program I need to use for the project I'm on. I did not have a fun time getting it to run: first I had to install Ubuntu, where I managed to crash the installer twice. (I now believe that anyone who seriously thinks Linux can compete with Windows is either deluded or seriously overestimating the technical skills of your average user.) Then I had a joy of a time getting a certain driver to work, and after three of us had a go at it, we gave up and now I can't turn Caffe to GPU-mode (which is faster, hence why we tried so hard to get it to work). And I eventually had to give up on using Python 3 to interface with it instead of 2.7. This is all before I even figure out how to work the program, of course....

I might only have two classes, but so far they've been interesting. A couple of weeks ago, for our professional seminar, we talked about philosophy for three hours. Normally, that sounds like my idea of hell - philosophy is Not My Thing. But it was actually fun - we talked about the kind of philosophy that I got in Intro to Cogsci, which not everyone in the room had taken. So, monism vs dualism (the world is made of one thing vs two kinds of things), and materialism vs idealism/solipsism (the world is made of matter vs the world is made of thoughts/the worlds is made of MY thoughts). I didn't think anyone actually believed in solipsism, but apparently those people exist. The idea is just so hard for me to take seriously, though - everything, including other people, are essentially figments of my mind? I don't think I'm nearly imaginative enough for that.

Oh, and apparently there are people who take the stance of non-integrative dualism, which is just ??? - dualism, in a cogsci context, is basically this idea that the mind and the brain are different things rather than one and the same. But the state of the brain affects the mind - if you injure certain areas, you can't move right or process words, or whatever, not to mention the effects of drugs like alcohol, etc. So most people who believe in a soul or who want the mind to be its own thing take the brain to somehow be a gateway or interface between the physical and mental worlds - and if you injure the interface, of course you're going to have trouble. That's integrative dualism. We didn't really talk about non-integrative dualism so I'm not sure how that is supposed to work at all.

Last week we talked about deliberate practice - if you've read that book by Malcolm Gladwell, you probably know what that is. Essentially, it's this idea that to become really world-class at anything, you need to engage in deliberate practice, which isn't fun and is mentally exhausting, for thousands of hours. We looked at the original paper (referenced in the book) talking about violin students at a music school in Germany. The definition of deliberate practice still seems kind of vague to me, though. Like, what does that look like for writing? And then this week we talked about logic, how to teach logic, how logic applies to the real world, and the utility of logic in cogsci.

Outside of the classroom, a couple of the other new grad students and I have started meeting up every week to watch some anime. A few weeks ago we watched the first few episodes of Bodacious Space Pirates, though I missed most of the fourth because of talking over it. I... don't really know what to think of it. Is it good? Is it not good? It's fun, but I think I need more episodes to tell whether I like it or not. Other than that, we've been watching Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, which I definitely do like. It's fun and light-hearted, and I adore the way it pokes fun at anime/shoujo tropes. Like when Nozaki can't draw a girl sitting behind a guy on a bike because it's illegal (people in Japan still do it, though, at least in Akita), and they try using a tandem bike instead.

I finished a book (a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my favorite childhood authors). Now I only have three more to finish before I let myself get a local library card \o/

Wrote up a list of stories that I have at least vague ideas for or for which I have written a 'pilot story', arranged in rough order of priority. There are 23 works or ideas on there, one of which is a trilogy and another of which I know is going to be super-long when I finish it. This is not even including the fanfiction. At least I won't be running out of ideas anytime soon?
allekha: (Default)
My new laptop finally arrived! I think that either the delivery people don't knock very loudly or this house absorbs the noise from the front door too well - I missed a delivery on my birthday while I was in the house, and when my computer arrived, I decided to sit by the window and watch for it. I got up for less than five minutes to check on something, and the FedEx truck came and left a not-delivered notice in that time. While the window was open and I was still relatively close by and not listening to music or something. ??? I can hear things going on in the street, too. Thankfully the truck hadn't left yet and I was able to catch it! And then spend 9 hours attempting to do a clean install of Windows 10 (sob), a long saga centered around a broken usb stick and unhelpful error messages that ended in victory.

I'm still waiting to be able to do much research - part of the problem is that the software I would be using has to be installed on a secure computer in the computing center for us to remote login to. Apparently IBM would be fine with it being installed on our laptops, but the university is VERY STRICT on export controls. Us students did have a meeting to go over the software more in depth, but I still have a lot of questions about, you know, using it. Someone was supposed to send out documents but that has yet to happen, so I'm mostly stuck in the corner going, "Okay, but I don't know how to apply this to ALife D:" which we're going to address in the next meeting.

Tomorrow I have class. I'm also trying out a writing club. So I'll be getting out of the apartment to actually interact with people on more than a shallow basis. My friends from back home are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, but I would really like to make some friends here. I'm not exactly unhappy, but I do feel a little bit lonely. I do get along well with some of the other grad students I'll be seeing on a regular basis; hopefully that will become more regular.

I still don't like cooking. But I do like the food I make. Cleaning is kind of fun, though I have yet to bring myself to vacuum (I can't stand loud noises, but it's not pleasant to wear earplugs either).

After hearing some spoilers about the ending, I talked myself into trying Hannibal. I thought it would be way too gory for me and I don't watch a lot of western TV lately; while there have been some scenes where I had to look away, it hasn't been as bad as I thought and I'll have some thoughts to write down when I finish it. Certainly the subtext is getting less, ah, sub. Been working my way though a cross-stitch kit I was given a few years ago as I watch; cross-stitch is boring compared to surface embroidery but bearable if I have something to engage with, and I'll have a bookmark when it's done (as if I need another one).

Lately my brain's been coming up with stories faster than I can write them. Brain. I can't write the f/f dragon ones, the Elizabethan fantasy with the magical androgynes, the selfcest-y space opera, the east Asian fantasy trilogy, the wing kids one, the other wing people one, AND fanfic at the same time. Stop iiiiiiit.
allekha: (Default)
I'm getting settled in my new apartment. I like it; it's close to where I'll be working, there's a large park with good views about one minute away, a nice family-owned convenience store and a bakery down the street, and the lot has some lawn on it that my landlord said I can garden on if I want. Granted, half of my furniture had to be leveled and the postal carrier is an idiot, but eh. (I say idiot because half of my mail isn't mine: a few days ago there were five pieces in my box, three of which were for the people on the upper floor and one of which was for the house next door.) And my apartment is quite big for its price - came unfurnished, but if I stay here for five years, it'll be cheaper than the furnished ones and I can actually have guests over. And a queen sized bed. Will be nice to have the space if I happen to meet someone here, too.

UPS failed to deliver the one present my parents sent that was supposed to get here today. While I was at home. Urgh. I splurged one a meal at the tea house that was delicious and bought myself a mini cake. And I had a nice long chat with my parents about some cogsci-related topics and so on.

...this is really petty, but I don't think any of my friends realized that today is my birthday. Like, no-one even left a quick message on Facebook, so unless that's suddenly gone out of style.... I don't know anyone here in town yet, so I'm just feeling lonely about being by myself on my birthday.

Orientations start tomorrow. Looking forward to meeting the other students and finding out how registration works here; you're supposed to have 12 credits registered by a week ago if you wanted to be paid on time, but 10 of mine are 'dummy credits' because no-one has explained anything yet.
allekha: (Default)
[written before I moved to my apartment; for some reason the internet at home stopped loading Dreamdwidth the very morning I wrote this :\ so this is actually rather old]

♪Went for a morning walk. The sunrise this morning was just beautiful. When I first saw it, there was a low layer of clouds just above the treetops, in this pale yellow color, followed by a thin stripe of robin's egg blue sky, then a stripe of clouds in pink-orange, pale green sky, and a wider band of faint red clouds and wisps. A couple of deer made their way across the field (never a rare sight); two morning birds were silhouettes against the sky. I sat down to watch and the lowest clouds gradually turned bright golden yellow, the pale green a kind of murky teal, the pink orange became a real yellow-orange, and the red deepened and brightened as more of the sky lit up. A plane took off, creating a faint red trail as it climbed; actually, at some point the color faded entirely, and the trail became almost impossible to see, before turning translucent white. When I started walking again, I could see the moon, a little over half full, glowing faintly in the sky right above me. It's often described like a pearl, but I don't think a pearl could ever be so lovely, lovely.

♪Am seriously considering looking into whether more research has been done on the effects of polyphasic sleep in the past few years to see if I should even contemplate thinking of trying one of the less extreme schedules (4.5 hrs/2 naps, or whatever it is). Several reasons: I like staying up but also getting up early for the sun rise. I have reason to believe I might actually have a sleep disorder that makes 'normal' schedule setting difficult (or maybe not, but it's more than just 'I like doing things on the internet late', dates back to elementary school, and involves family members). The few weeks four years ago that I got onto a poly sleep schedule actually worked out pretty well; then again, it was only a few weeks, and I was probably being more serious about sleep hygiene than usual.
...I might as well see if there's been some research, at least, before I start talking myself out of even thinking about it.

♪Watched Kurosawa's Ikiru last night with my dad. I think it is literally one of the best films I've ever seen. The main character's way of speaking and the actor's facial expressions tell so much, the story is set up in an interesting way, and of course there are some very well done shots. The famous snowy swing scene is something that is very touching in context; I wouldn't watch it without context.

♪For breakfast: crepe/pancakes with lemon curd, and I think I'll make some matcha with milk (and some without, to follow up). And also, at last, some travelog:
Vilnius part one )


Jul. 29th, 2015 04:56 pm
allekha: (Default)
I've been waiting to update until I finished transcribing my journal from the Baltics trip, but that didn't happen before Otakon, so let's go with that first.

Otakon Otakon Otakon Otakon Otakon~~~! )

Trip Day 0

Jun. 8th, 2015 01:25 pm
allekha: (Default)
In ~1 hr my friend and I leave for the Baltics(+Iceland) trip! Thank goodness. I've only been looking forward to it for a year, planning it for a few months, finding places to stay for the past week... (That was fun when combined with looking for an apartment for grad school.)

I was persuaded to take a few more things than can fit in my Bag of Holding and take stuff in my backpack as well, but we're traveling pretty lightly. Which is good, because we have three planes to Vilnius (US to Iceland, Iceland to somewhere in Scandinavia, that place to VNO), and we're going to be visiting a ton of places.

Glad to have at least one friend who could make it out of all the ones I asked. I mean, I would have been fine on my own, but this should be fun. Hopefully all will go well. (It better, seeing as this is my graduation present to myself :|) There's some room for spontaneity in the itinerary but we at least have most of our places to sleep by now. And a good mix of old buildings (castles!), museums, and pretty nature. Very excited!
allekha: (Default)
Spend the last two days doing graduation ceremonies. I am now officially a graduate! ...student. The foreign languages ceremony was the best - short, good speech, and I got an award for being the best Japanese student :D Cogsci one was a little long, esp. since there were a lot more of us, and I just wanted it to be over by the time they started shaking hands. I did go to commencement, and I'm glad I did - I liked the main speech, by someone who told us (among other things) a huge (millions of dollars) mistake he made. Though again I spent a decent portion wishing it was over, between the heat and how my shoulders started hurting. But it's over with :D!

...okay, maybe :D isn't the best way to express my feelings right now. I mean, I am quite tired of homework and exams, and am very excited to be doing ACTUAL RESEARCH! at grad school, but I will miss living so close by all of my friends. And home. I wonder how I will change during the next five years? I sure changed a lot during college. Became more social, less shy, more productive, more brave, wrote a lot more, learned a ton. Part of it was just interacting with other people my own age in real life for the first time in a while and making friends, part of it was my clubs (esp. writing club), part of it was probably just growing up a bit and my brain maturing.

My short story got accepted by the publisher! Will have to give another look for typos. And figure out what kind of cover suits space abolitionists.

Couple other things:
~Current Netflix anime is Moribito. Not surprisingly, my mom is quite fond of it (and my dad, and myself). Like how tough Balsa is, how Chagum's getting used to peasant life is explored, and the worldbuilding and beautiful backgrounds of the rice paddies.
~Dragged into seeing the new Avengers movie (better than first, but when are we getting a Black Widow movie?) and Mad Max: Fury Road. Not the kind of thing I would have gone into if I had actually read a description, but once I turned my brain to the same setting I use when playing Fallout (cool trumps 'how does this society function???') I enjoyed it. Like how paraonoid and messed-up Max is, Nux's redemption art and him and Capable, and Furiosa of course :) I really liked that scene where Max first joins up with them and they fight, and then the scene in the truck where she's trying to handle him without anyone getting hurt.
~Discovered a new Youtube channel (Xidnaf) to give me even more educational content and feed my linguaphilia.
allekha: (Zukaang hug)
Things I have done in the past couple of weeks:
Run my writing club's event - it went fairly well once we got started, except that we had to get our water replaced as it was contaminated with something icky. Little low on the participant count, but I think we had more people show up than last year!
AI class homework. Of which something like half (including most of the extra credit) was actually statistics and probability. Sigh.
Read Battle Royale and wrote an essay on it for Japanese film class. In class we roleplayed the debate about the film's rating. I got to be the director :D Talked about my (his) experiences discussing the film with actual teenagers and seeing the sort of violence depicted firsthand as a teenager working in a wartime factory.
Japanese film class honors presentation - I talked for ~15 minutes about costuming in films that depict the Edo period. I also showed up in a kimono. It was a little warm (it's a heavy lined kimono, and the temperature went over 80 - but didn't have a summer kimono at school with me), but I think the presentation went well. People laughed at my jokes and asked good questions. Having lots of pictures for them to look at probably helped.
Worked on honors paper for the same class. A little bit.
Wrote two reaction papers for my other film class, for Fire and Tomboy. Was supposed to do Boys Don't Cry for that second one but didn't think I could handle it; teacher kindly let me switch.
Edited thesis into a third draft. Added in my code at the end, which gives me something like 10 appendices and extra forty pages. Ridiculous. Why does everyone think this is a good idea? Still trying to schedule defense.
Submitted a second short story. This involved writing 8k in one night to finish early enough to get some feedback from a friend. Actually pretty pleased with it - I (currently) think it's better than the one they accepted before, so hopefully they'll take this one. (And that I hit their collection call theme well enough.)
Let a friend persuade me to go to our video game music orchestra's spring performance. Music was good! Some of the violin-only sections sounded weird to me, but other than that I enjoyed it, even if it was a little loud.
Presented at the senior thesis symposium. Afterward, my mom specifically singled out the fact that I was actually on time. One person who I saw went over by at least ten minutes; the last person in my section went waaay over as well. Apparently most conferences don't let you do that (thank goodness).

Think that's most of it. I also slept for about 20 hours on Saturday-Sunday. I was really tired last week.
allekha: (Rambler rose)
I feel like I actually have free time for once in the past... two months? Three?

Spent ~3 weeks arranging grad school visits (two of them) and then doing visits. Of course, after that I had to catch up on all the work I didn't manage to get done... but! I have officially accepted an offer! So now I'm on the track to a Ph.D. (Aaah, no, I don't want to spend the next five years doing more school! ...but I can't get the kinds of jobs I want with a B.S, so I guess it can't be helped.)

My thesis first draft has been sent, and even the second one. No more hours of late-night programming. Now I just need to get my third reader to help schedule the defense.

Also have an event this week with my writing group. As president, I had to deal with Event Services. It went something like this:
me: *submits room reservation*
(Two weeks pass)
me: Um, VP, can you call them? My throat is sore and our event is on Friday and we have no confirmation.
VP: *calls*
VP: We had to move our event to next Thursday because there were no rooms available.
me: Okay?
Guest Speaker: I can bring my 5 o'clock class now!
me: *reading confirmation email* We have to move our event to an hour later because we wanted catering? Can't we just bring our own food then?
Event Services: Actually, it wasn't catering, it was the room! Either take it or change your room!
me: Um, guest speaker?
Guest speaker: ...I guess I can let class out early.
me: Now to go change all of the notices again.

Yeah, so that was fun.

And also I've been arranging my graduation trip to Europe (Baltics + Iceland). After a year of bugging people about it, I have precisely one friend who can come. C'est la vie. My dad will join us for part of the trip, too. Still trying to work out details.

Things I have worked in for fun around all that:
Genesis of Aquarion, Boueibu, Betrayal in Krondor, and Hikago )
allekha: (Default)
Stupid insomnia. Sleep schedule got messed up again. I've been pretty much crashing straight after getting home from work the past three days - let's see if I can get back on a regular diurnal schedule.

Book 2:
‣We get it we GET IT the kids are escaped lab creations who grew up in cages and have wings for the love of the gods STOP HARPING ON IT.
‣On a similar note: we get it, Iggy is blind, do you really need to mention it every 50 pages? No, you do not.
‣It starts to hurt my suspension of disbelief that on one hand, Max thinks that they are all freaks who are doomed to live outside of normal society forever with their freaky secret that must never be told - and that on the other, a) wings are cool! and b) every 'outside' person they meet finds them interesting, not freakish. Anne is fascinated by their flying, for example, and who wouldn't be? Max's cognitive dissonance here is getting annoying and it doesn't feel like it's being used as a character trait.
‣Better, less repetitive plot, yay. Less coherent than it should be in places, though.
‣Case in point: why the hell does the blind guy who's never been to school not get an aid? He can't read the board, he can't read the homework, why is he expected to just muddle through somehow without help? I'm pretty sure that's illegal. There are other things that bug me about the school scenes, but that's the biggest one.
‣Uh, that's not how Game Boys work. They don't come with games on them.
‣'I could follow their scent' when she couldn't before now isn't that convenient?
‣Angel's water-breathing powers have still had absolutely no relevance on the plot. But now she can talk to fish :D! Why? Who cares! *headdesk*
‣Super-good vision + excellent nightvision = ? As far as my research has told me, bird eyes don't work that way. Birds like eagles that have really good day vision have few rods in their retina and therefore can't see well in the dark, while birds like owls don't have such great visual acuity. He could have had them see into ultraviolet, though, that would have been a cool detail.
‣Ow, Ari. I have to say, I really liked his sections.

Overall: thought it was better than the first book, actually. Less annoying 'do this, do that' from the Voice, no repetitive second half. For some reason, the kids felt more like actually kids/teenagers to me than they did in the first; can't put my finger on why. Plunking them down in a situation where they were surrounded by normal kids their age gave them something to contrast against and lead to some humorous moments.

The ending was kind of eh, though; the thing with the fake-Max went down very quickly, and brought up a lot of questions: how was Max kidnapped so easily, without the others noticing? Why on Earth were they putting her in a sensory deprivation tank? Why wasn't fake-Max informed on anything, apparently, about the Flock?

Also, it could have used less convenience (speed-healing, instantly knowing where to find the others) but that is starting to look like a recurring problem here so...

Book 3:
‣Again with the treating readers like amnesiac goldfish.
‣In the very beginning there's this one line that admonishes new readers for picking up the book when 'it's clearly part three of a series'. This irked me the first time around - there is literally no indication of this being third in a series anywhere on the book.
‣Having a predetermined arrangement with the six-year-old that she act like a turncoat in case this very situation comes up: how convenient.
‣Kind of confused as to how Fang has so many blog readers so fast. Also why people are believing him about the bird-kid thing. There's lots of roleplay blogs on the net. Is he posting some kind of tangible evidence?
‣Sending messages via the internet: not a bad idea. But how do you just target the kids? (Answer: you don't.)
‣I also like how said message urges kids to get up and save the world, but has precisely zero suggestions for actual activism.
‣Bothering me since the beginning: why wolfman robots? If I were going to make killer robots, I'd use a little imagination. You could either make them a lot scarier or a lot more efficient.
‣I have trouble buying that the same people doing advanced DNA experiments are also making advanced robots. These two things have almost nothing to do with each other.
‣Fang learning that taking care of kids for days on end is hard is cute.
‣When the kids email Fang: did they already know each other's emails or something? It's not addressed how Fang knows that it's from Max.
‣Who was 'fang is coming' note??? *cough* That is, who found out that Fang was coming (via his blog or whatever) and decided to slip them a note? How did they know about these kids?
‣Freight plane will be freezing. Are they even pressurized? Hope they brought a blanket. ...and then they end up not getting on it, which is probably for the better. They should probably have been more hurt by that dive they took instead, but eh, I'll let it slide.
‣Is it even possible to shatter metal with your voice?
‣About those chants: "Itex is an evil giant/us kid ain't buyin' it" doesn't scan (plus, do they even use 'ain't' in England?). "Time has come/claim our home" doesn't rhyme, at least not in my dialect; not an expert on Aussie English.

Overall: good start, then kind of fell apart, moreso toward the end. My biggest problem with this is that Max lets Fang and the others split off so easily. I know she's established as not being a Talk It Out kind of person, and there really wasn't room for compromise, but if they are so, so important to her, why didn't she work harder to try and get them to stay? It just doesn't feel like they're the most important people in her life when she barely argues about their leaving.

Also, this is where you can see the green aesop starting to rear its ahead, a thing that will entirely take over the next book. Events continue to feel like they move quickly. Things continue to be convenient - Max had an agreement with the six-year-old already, a l33t hacker they met on the other side of the country shows up in the very coffeeshop they visit and is willing to help, etc. It's not bad when things like that happen once in a while in a series, but it just happens too much in this one.

Oh, and Angel's super special water powers have still had no effect on the plot whatsoever. Or on her character. Or anything.

Might see if I can stand the fourth book long enough to finish it. I thought it was bad even when it first came out, though, so that may or may not happen.


allekha: (Default)

July 2017

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