allekha: (Ailen <3)
I took a break from social media and some other sites I visit, so I haven't been on DW for... at least a week. I was kind of hoping that it would help me be more productive, but it hasn't, really. Oh, well. Hope things are going okay for everyone.

My garden's doing just fine - we've actually been getting enough rain here that I've mostly been ignoring it. I did manage to kill off one of my mints right before I potted it (need to get a new one, sigh) and one of the eggplants died for reasons unknown. And one of the basil plants has gone missing; I suspect it became a lawnmower victim. The rest are being more than productive enough to make up for it, though. I need to tie everything to the stakes I put in, will probably do that tomorrow after buying a replacement mint, and do some weeding. The petunia I rescued a few months ago has started blooming again - I didn't realize it would - so it's nice to have the flowers on the table to look at when I eat dinner.

Work is coming along okay - I ironed out some administrative issues, and have finished some programming tasks that I've been meaning to do. And got all my tests to pass again, woo. Need to talk to my advisor when I can catch him; I think I'm ready to start writing that lit review, and I'm more prepared to do that right now than the other thing I need to work on.

I've also been working on the Japanese paper, though not as fast as I should have been. Talk about that and other Japanese study stuff under here )

There's also been good progress on my young!Victor cosplay. I'm making a paper pattern of the fifty million feathers (on the front), after frame-by-framing the footage of him to figure out wtf was going on with his costume. I'm almost done, so soon I'll be able to make all of them, pin and check that it looks good again, and then add fifty million yards of sparkly bias tape. I wish this stuff was available in the US, it looks really nice; alas, I had to buy it from a UK seller on eBay. (Dear Internet, thank you for making that possible.)

And when not programming, reading papers, pattern-making, trying to balance my wips, or procrastinating by looking at Yuri on Ice fanart on Pixiv, I had time to watch Wonder Woman. I actually wasn't that interested in going to see it, but I was invited along, and I ended up liking it overall. Spoilers under here )
allekha: (Default)
Spring is here :D Finally and unequivocally. I enjoyed my first Real Northeastern Winter, but now I'm ready to be able to open my windows again. The lack of ice also means I no longer have an excuse not to go for runs, so I've gone out twice this week. I seem to be making progress; they're more 'runs' and less 'walks' than they used to be.

I met with my advisor last week about a thing I have to write for department requirements; should get started on that soon, though I've a few more papers I want to get through first. He was also impressed to hear that I've started reading an academic paper in Japanese for the first time; he (understandably!) forgot that I know some Japanese. The paper is slow going but I can understand more of it than I thought so far, sometimes just from the kanji used in words I don't know, and it has lots of useful words.

Also trying to make it out to more optional talks, not just the required colloquium talks each week. I finally made it to one of the computer science department talks today, for instance. Mostly because the topic was something more in my range - tuberculosis research in mice (a collaboration with the bio department) rather than operating systems or cybersecurity. It was very heavy on the biology rather than compsci (fine by me), I found out that by 'refreshments' the email mentions they mean 'basic but yummy Sodexo cookies', and I even met Z coming out of a meeting on the way there and dragged him along.

On a less happy note, my loyal and wonderful electric tea kettle gave up the ghost this weekend; the cord is broken from the base of the kettle. Proooobably should have stopped using it sooner. :( I am reduced to using my stovetop kettle for everything, which has been working out okay, except for the hour that I discovered the electric one was dead; there's renovations happening in my building and the workers flipped a breaker that turned off half my outlets, including the one for my stove. (And, I found out the next morning, my heat.) Quick fix, at least. Now I just need to order a new kettle some time, maybe after taxes are done.

A close relative lent me some books on Tibetan history (something this relative knows a lot about due to being relevant for their research) a few months ago, and while I'd started on one of them, I got distracted by library books. I picked it up again last week, and I'm remembering some of the problems it had. Well, they got worse in the part I read this weekend, enough that I'm taking notes so I can rant about it later. As I texted my relative - the handling of religion by the people who wrote it went from 'not good' to 'atrocious', but there are more minor problems as well. (They apologized on behalf of the authors.) I'm powering through, but I hope the other book they lent me works out better.
allekha: (Embroidery on black)
I survived my talk! In fact, it went well enough that one of the professors I know asked me to do the same talk for her class on Thursday. They asked a lot more (and, tbh, a lot more interesting) questions than the people at my department talk did. Also, my advisor said that he understood my research even more than he did after I gave him an earlier version on Monday.

Between all that and the exam I had on Friday (think I did pretty well, even on the Baye's Rule question, which is the one formula where I cannot keep the variables straight even when I write everything down) I've been doing stuff I didn't have time for last week. Catching up on housework, looking at all the Chocolate Box stuff I didn't get the chance to check out yet, hanging out with Z, and enjoying our abnormally pleasant spring weather, which started to turn colder again but is still nice. Now that my hands won't freeze, I caught a bunch of stuff in Pokemon Go, earned some coins from gyms, and used one of my lucky eggs to get some tens of thousands of XP from all the pokemon I've been stocking up and putting off evolving.

With all the ice melted off the paths, too (which took a while - we got a lot of snow in that stormy weekend that hit the northeast a few weeks ago, to the point that they even cancelled classes because we got ~10 inches in one day) I no longer had an excuse to not go for a run, so I dragged myself out today for one. Went better than I expected; still get side stitches, still have plenty of period of walking, but apparently I did more running this time - at least, the app tells me that my pace was faster. And I could feel that I'm more flexible when I stretched afterward. I am... kind of looking forward to going again. Huh.

Z and I went shopping for Asian groceries over the weekend for the first time in a while. It's annoying to go by myself (it takes over an hour by bus to get there) and I kept forgetting to ask him to drive us there. I had to re-organize my pantry to get the spices from the Indian grocery in - I had a system but it'd become a mess - but I'm looking forward to trying out some recipes I picked out from my cookbook that I haven't made before. And I can make miso soup again! It always reminds me a bit of when I was studying abroad in Akita - I made it all the time there, since it was cheap, tasty, vegetarian, and easy to make with the one burner we had in our dorm.
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)
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.

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