allekha: (Haruka x Michiru)
Well, the semester's over. I turned in all my paperwork, attended some last few meetings and did a mini presentation, got 95% on my take-home probabilistic programming exam, and am now just waiting on my summer offer letter (which lets me get paid to work). Z's gotten his already, so I was getting kind of nervous, but I just checked my email and last year I didn't get it until early June. Not time to panic yet, I guess.

So! Summer! It hit 90 yesterday and today! The daffodils and dogwood are fading! I now have time for working on my million WiPs and to read books now! I impulse bought an ebook about what not to do when writing historical fiction because it was only $4; it was very geared towards western Europe, but at least it's upfront about that. And I don't think it really needed a whole chapter on how the hell English peer titles work - it was so specific - but all the talk about how people used names did give me an idea for something in my f/f historical fantasy work. Now back to Tibetan history.

I am most of the way through page four of the Japanese article I'm reading - I was sidetracked for a bit by picking up more context sentences for kanji I was having difficulty with, as it turns out that academic Japanese tends to use a lot of kanji I just have never learned. But page 2: 35 sentences/fragments into Mnemosyne, down from 48 on page one. Progress! There were even a few sentences that I could almost entirely read! Page 3: 29, with an entire paragraph I could more or less understand. Of course, it had to be the one about Searle's godsdamn Chinese Room :| I see in a couple of pages I will finally get to neural networks.

Oh, and Z got a cat! I don't have any very good pictures, but he is an orange tabby and his name is Koro. He is still kind of nervous but also cute and he loves attention and playing with the string I braided for him. I actually got to cat-sit him his first weekend in Z's place - kitty was supposed to come home earlier, but delays happened because of the landlord not getting in contact with the adoption people to confirm Z and his roommates could have a cat, and then they had to leave for a thing, so. I spent most of it working on my exam in the living room and taking breaks to go feed Koro treats in the bathroom while he hid in the shower curtain. Thankfully, he's come out of his shell a lot since then and Z says that he likes to follow people around the house.
allekha: (Default)
I spent pretty much all day today working on my final project for my R class, which... I am not very happy with, but as long as I at least get 50%, I should still get an A, assuming I did as well as I think I did on the last exam. The main problem was the goddamn string manipulation from my dataset. Never again, R. Never, ever ever ever again. If I have to manipulate strings to get my data computer-readable and for some reason I want to use R? That's going through Python first. I seriously spent longer on making my dates into numbers the program would like than actually doing statistics. (Oh, and the csv didn't read empty values properly which fucked up my one attempt at doing a learning and prediction thing, woo. If I fixed that then my graphs didn't get proper labels. I ran out of time and prioritized readable graphs, and commented out the prediction thing with an apology and short explanation.)

Enough of that. The CCSF is chugging along - the logic puzzle I put together seems to be going over well - the semester is basically over except that I need to email my advisor about some things, and today was Yuri on Ice day!
Spoilers below )
allekha: (Default)
Thanksgiving break went well. My parents and I had a good lunch/dinner; I made pumpkin pie from scratch for the first time, and the recipe turned out better than the storebought we usually get, I think. The only thing that did not go well was the whole wheat rolls, which we made because my mom couldn't find anything in the stores she liked. According to the recipe, we baked them in the muffin tin, and... well, we had muffin-shaped bread rolls. They only tasted so-so, too.

I was there until Monday morning due to the train schedule, so over the weekend, my dad and I went to a local secondhand bookshop and picked up books. I managed to get three from my to-read list. And my mom and I went to a frozen custard place that just opened to have custard for breakfast - she had just read about a study by a Japanese researcher that showed that people who had ice cream for breakfast did better on cognitive tasks than either people who had no ice cream for breakfast or who drank cold water instead of eating ice cream, so we joked about that on the way there and afterward.

Also, I had mentioned that I really loved this new figure skating anime to my mom, so she wanted to watch it, and then my dad came in early on in episode three, and they liked it so much that we mainlined the whole thing and then watched episode eight while it was simulcasting. And then on Sunday, we ended up watching some real figure skating.

I had a bit of an odd experience in that I got into a (long) political discussion with my dad at one point, which went rather well even though we're not exactly on the same page. It was a real discussion, not an argument like you usually hear about happening on Thanksgiving. He's a third party member and his viewpoint is that a government strong enough to protect you is strong enough to persecute you, and I understand his beliefs better now even if I don't agree with all or even many of them.

(There was one point were I burst into tears when we got to talking about Pence and I did have to explain to him that when I was crying and talking about how my friends have experienced hate crimes and it's still legal in too many places to send your kid to psychological torture if they are gay or have gender issues, what I wanted was not to hear how the other side was bad too, but to get a goddamn hug. Then he gave me a hug. He is ultimately a compassionate and caring person, but for various reasons his emotional IQ is kind of lacking.)

Getting back was exhausting (local train + Amtrak 1 + two hour layover + Amtrak 2) and took nine hours. Usually it takes six. Thankfully I managed to snag a taxi with some other people going the same way instead of having to pay twice as much. Taking two buses back and then trudging up a hill to get home was not something I wanted to consider even if it would be free.

My co-host and I ended up deciding to delay the Creatures Community Spirit Festival due to lack of submission, which was a bit frustrating and last-minute, but should hopefully work out for the better. Now it's happening during finals, but I'm actually probably busier this week than I will be that week (thanks, multiple programming homeworks). And I might have time to put another thing or two together. At least the associated blog carnival is still going this week, and that's worked out well; everyone has interesting thoughts to read and has posted every day so far.

YoI Episode 9 spoilers under here )
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)
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)
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: (Rambler rose)
Twice in a year is better than nothing, right? (Still don't understand how I keep meaning to update and then not doing so.)

I'm writing this on the bus to con.txt - more on that in a moment - where we get free Internet! Not very good Internet, admittedly, but can't complain too much. I really should be sleeping, I had trouble falling asleep and only got ~3 hours, but guess now that my brain's woken up it wants to stay up for a while.

Let's see. This Spring semester was pretty interesting, and overall not as bad as some semesters have been. I took four classes and an independent research: Japanese Calligraphy, Evolution, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Human-Computer Interaction.

Calligraphy was fun! Not that I was terribly good at it, too much of a perfectionist. But it was fun! Especially the final - we got to choose our final piece, and I did a large one about five feet tall that is now taped up across from my Dad's office - and the catching-up session where I got to do some of the more flowing pieces. I found that flowing kana especially is quite fun to write. I wore a kimono to the final and I think everyone else was more worried than I was about getting it dirty (it was fine).

Cognitive neuroscience was probably my favorite class. Brains are really interesting. I don't think I've studied how reading and math work in the brain before, so that was fun. For my term paper I wrote about the effect of video game play on visual attention processing. My final paper - ten pages - got written in the 24 hours before it was due, in which I also had to do Evolution's final presentation and move out of my dorm. I thought it was due a couple days later... well, I finished it and got somewhere around a 95, so it worked out in the end.

Human-Computer Interaction was the easiest class. I actually skipped this quite a few times (it was a Thursday evening, and often I'd be tired and want to sleep instead) but especially in the second half of the semester it wasn't a problem. We had to do a project, but given that it's a course for non-programmers... I whipped mine together in ~7 hours, one of which was spent trying to figure out how not to get an integer when dividing, and the professor really liked it - it was a demonstration of the composite and inversion effects for facial processing.

Evolution was... um. Well. It was really interesting. But. In an average week this 100-level course took more work than my 400-level cogneuro course where I had to read, analyze, and summarize scientific papers for every class. It had a ton of reading in the beginning. We had no idea what our grades were until final grades came in. Yeah.

For my independent research, I worked on trying to induce different kinds of migratory behavior in Creatures. I ended up getting a lot of ideas for my senior thesis, which I've already started to work on - a new artificial life simulation.

I also worked ~15 hours a week and helped prepare for my writing group's big event, the Reading Gala, where we had a local author come talk for a bit and then had students read their own works aloud. Not a huge crowd, but we worked hard and it was a success. Next year I'm going to be Ppesident! since our current president Jesse just graduated :( We've applied to get an office too.

Thesis, president, work... next year is either going to be fun or Fun. Overall this semester wasn't bad at all, especially since my roommate hardly ever was in our room, so I essentially had it to myself. My dysphoria bothered me a lot - but when doesn't it?

What else... outside of school, been trying to post a fic a month. I posted two in January, one in March (I think?) and wrote one for Tentacle Big Bang, but that kind of got screwed up so I didn't post it. Maybe I'll try editing it and see how bad it actually is. And May was so busy I fell behind on Get Your Words Out (a year-long writing self-challenge) and only really worked on finishing the first edit of my (original) novel.


So! Now on to con.txt, which looks like it should be interesting. I've never really been to a small con before, or a non-anime one, but I have hopes. Still freaking out a little over how to introduce myself, and, you know, talking with people, but I'm hoping everything will go fine. Here's to the weekend!
allekha: (Default)
After my partner yet again failed on me >-> that freaking project is done! and! over with! I never want to touch Racket again, ugh. I did get 98 on my Research in Psych exam, at least, so today wasn't all bad.

I still hate Tumblr after signing up for an account. It took me two hours just to get the layout right - most of the free default ones suck, of those that don't most didn't fit what I was going for, and the one I did go with resized pictures up :| When I went looking at user-made themes... most of them also such. Why all the narrow layouts? This is 2012, I think we can handle more than 500 pixels wide. I did finally find one that was actually readable, though it still took a little while to adjust font size, etc, to be exactly what I wanted it to be.

I am getting my stream of pretty pictures, at least, including many with kimono. I'll see how well it works out for fandom things.

Hetalia Day under the cut:
It was fun~ )
allekha: (Default)
Otakon log I realized I never posted )

I just found this in my mail drafts (where I save writing I do during work hours) and realized I never actually posted it ^^'

I've been taking a bit of a break from lj the past couple months... not that I've moved onto tumblr (though I am now on it! ... haven't posted anything yet though). I still don't really get tumblr and though I like the photoblogs, there's a lot of aspects of it I don't like.

Work is going well - yay monies. Last week was busier than usual as the department was putting on a tech fair, and I actually liked working at it. I was very tempted to just skip my compsci class that day and work through it >->

Classes:
Compsci, I actually don't like all that much, although I was kind of looking forward to it. One of the problems is that we are using a language I really don't like. It makes programming not fun (in an introductory compsci course!!) and instead frustrating. The professor also tends to get repetitive with the examples. Oh, and last week my partner emailed me the day an update on our monthly project was due, saying he had no idea what to do. I'd done most of the lab for that week already, and then I had to completely rewrite the project :/ When I already had plans. After having work earlier. Yeah, he's doing the lab this week while I finish the project :|

Calc is going okay. The professor has an interesting accent.

Research in psych is interesting. I like reading about how studies get put together and how to tell if it's good or not, and it's reaffirmed my promise to never ever trust a general article on any scientific study ever. Only a few sources get my trust there, like Bad Astronomy. I looked at a Wired article for a paper and compared it to the original study, and they actually did pretty well, so they might get whitelisted too.

Neuroscience is really interesting. The professor did tell me I should drop the course because I'd already taken the equivalent, but I do need both for my major and if it sounds weird, well, he's not my adviser, is he? And we are covering more stuff in a different way... Anyway, brains are really really interesting and I could write poems about neurons, so I like this class, not to mention I'm one of the few people actually getting an A in it.

I still wish I was taking a Japanese class, but between three homework-heavy classes I really shouldn't add another - I'm busy enough between these, work, and all the clubs and activities I do.

I went to Hetalia Day in Philadelphia again this year, but that really deserves its own writeup. And I need to go find that Japan log I have on my netbook...
allekha: (Default)
Oh wow, May hit me hard. In the beginning I had a lot more schoolwork than I expected - there was one week when literally every single class had something due, and some had more than one thing due... then, finals. Which went okay. My psychology class from hell actually had a not that bad final. (For how bad it was: the averages for the quarter exams were around 65, and we didn't get curved that much.)

Then I got a job! Internship, rather, but I'm being paid, and a little above minimum wage, even. It's at Academic Technology Services at the University. I like it so far. It's nice being able to tech-y stuff and get paid for it. The week after finals were over they had a week-long seminar about technology in the classroom and I helped out with that. Then that weekend I went to Philadelphia, and this week I've been packing for my study abroad, but more flailing about that in a minute...

In-between all that, I got one of those emails that literally had me screaming with excitement; you see, my friend Nico and I had applied to be panelists at Otakon this year. We called it 'Angels in Anime', because the topic we chose was the use of christian symbolism in anime and manga. Angels are the most popular, but there's also crosses and if you're very lucky and go to the right series, even Jesus... anyway, we emphasized several times that this wasn't a religious rant or put-down - hello, made by an atheist and a catholic - and mentioned that there would be discussion of the history of Christianity of Japan (yay Japanese history course!) so it would even be educational. So, we waited and waited while saying 'I hope it gets accepted' and 'Well, there's a lot of panels submitted, they only accept something like one in four...' and 'It's not the deadline for a reply yet'.... and guess what~?

We got it!! So, coming to an Otakon near you this summer~ Angels in Anime! Guess this means I'm making a Haibane Renmei costume, not a Claymore costume... since we're going to talk a bit about it as a series that borrows the imagery of Christianity (the characters all have halos and small wings and there's lots of talk of sin and such) but without the real specifics of the religion. Then there's Sailor Moon and Fullmetal Alchemist and Nico took Bleach and Angel Sanctuary and I need to finish rereading X oh and there's Wish...

Yeah, so excited for this panel.

And as for my study abroad, I'm actually going to be at the airport in twelve hours. (I'm so excited I don't want to go to bed yet; I'll try at eleven.) I'll be staying in Kobe, which is a port city near Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, except for one weekend I'll be doing a homestay in Nara, and I have to make at least two day trips to Kyoto on my own. I'm thinking of going to Osaka for a day, if only for the aquarium - I'm pretty sure there were some museums there I was interested in too.

Everybody on the trip has a project to do. The topic of mine is... kimono ^^; Well, it's something I'm excited about, I'm going to be wearing kimono in Japan anyway, I already know the words, I'm going to be learning bits of it that you can't get from books... so, it was a pretty obvious choice in the end. I found about a street in Kobe that has a ton of kimono stores, over a dozen, including some that have good bargains, so I'll definitely spend some time down there. I want to find a fukuro obi for the furisode I got in LA - I really want to wear it to Otakon! It comes to my wrists, it's long enough for me, the hip wrap is enough, and it has 110 cm long sleeves!! And it's green with real gold thread embroidery and and and I'm in love with it.

I'll probably get some lolita clothes too while I'm there... oh! And plenty of tea. And postcards for postcrossing and to send to everyone I know (if you want one, let me know! It's not expensive to send one at all.)

So excited. The only things I'm worried about are 1) heat and humidity. Hopefully the breezes from the ocean will moderate it somewhat... 2) not having room for everything on the way back, but that's what post offices are for :p 3) ...I can't remember what I was going to put here... um, walking too much?? idk.

Going to go and try to wind down for bed now so I'm not forced to sleep through the entire 14 hour flight. Good night~

Update〜

Feb. 22nd, 2012 12:57 am
allekha: (Default)
...so for once my not updating isn't completely my fault! First, I went to visit my cousin for a week (more on that later) and then pretty much as soon as I got back I was back at my dorm, and for some reason I couldn't access LJ (and a couple of other sites) from the network until just recently.

So, yeah. I had a good winter break. I didn't really do much of note. Worked on some projects... I have a bunch of stuff written that I need to edit and post already.

My classes are going well so far. I ended up dropping my math class on the last day of free drop-add for a stat class that I need for my CogSci major. It's online, which is nice. My previous math class was boring me to death (in two weeks I didn't learn anything. Except how to use my fancy graphing calculator) and I don't think I should have been in that class anyway. Psych is kinda boring because, as the teacher himself said, he's not really adding anything to the reading... Japanese lit is enjoyable. For Monday I had to write a (handwritten) page that was a continuation of the story we had read which was a little hard but still enjoyable. I'm surprised at how not-that-hard reading the story was. I'm always focusing on what I don't know, but I really have learned a lot. Philosophy of Time Travel is a bit brain-breaking but fun.

GSM studies is okay. We had to read 'The Vagina Monologues' and... um. I kind of don't want to speak badly about it but from my perspective it was uncomfortable to read and when we watched the film in class some parts were very difficult to get through. (Thanks for not warning us that they would be doing a performance of the one about the woman in the rape camp, professor. That one made me physically ill and a few people left the room.) I guess it's an okay read for cis people, but as a female-assigned genderqueer I kept feeling like the narrative was trying to force me to be a woman. If that makes sense. There was just such a heavy connection of 'vagina = woman!'. And there was one section from a trans woman! ...who had bottom surgery, which good for her if that was what she wanted, but in the context of the book it seemed to me to just reaffirm 'genitals = gender'. Anyway, it seems that we're moving away from that now to 'Queer America'. Here's hoping it's LGBT and not just LGB or LG, which has been annoying me a lot lately.

I think I know where I want to room next year. There's gender-neutral housing available (!!!) but it's on the north campus, which is a bit far from the rest of everything, and not honors. On the other hand, this building is all-honors, pretty central, close to the best dining hall and about 30 seconds from the library, has access to a really nice lounge area, and is at least co-ed. And on the housing tour the rooms seemed nice. Some of my friends are going to try and room there too, so that seems like the best option.

Today I donated blood for the first time. The wait wasn't all that bad and I apparently don't have anemia so I got through the health screening fine. The only bad part was after they finished drawing - I was fine for the first couple of minutes, sitting down for some apple juice, but then I started feeling really light-headed and apparently I got very pale (a bit of a feat) and they put me in a wheelchair and took me to lie down for a little while. I was okay after that. It did make me think that I've chosen the right major - while this was going on I was noting which cognitive functions weren't functioning correctly. "My internal thoughts are fine and I can see okay, but my hearing's fuzzing out a lot and I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts clearly and it's taking me longer than usual to understand directions." At least afterward I had a good excuse to get hot chocolate and bubble tea. Next time, I'm definitely going to eat more beforehand (I thought I had eaten enough, but I guess not) and drink a lot more. Being light-headed is interesting but not extremely pleasant and probably not good for me.
allekha: (Default)
So, I survived NaNo again and managed to eke out 50k words. I thought writing a bunch of short stories would make it easier, and it one sense, it did, since you only need enough continuous plot for about a thousand words (in my case). On the other hand, in a way it was harder, because I was writing about historical events and besides the fact that I didn't have a full fifty (the story isn't complete yet, at 43/50 chapters) I had to do research for almost all of them, which made each chapter take a longer time to write. But I learned a lot, and it was fun writing about all these different things from all over the world.

Other than that I've been doing okay - getting through my classes, played a game of humans vs. zombies in early November, played lots of Skyrim... The only really bad thing was getting sick for a week, but at least it was only a cold. Then I sprained my foot the next week and it's still injured even after two weeks. I think it's getting a bit better now, but it's a little annoying considering how I have to walk so much every day.

Yesterday my mom took me and my friend Nico to Winterthur, which is always a nice place to visit. I was especially anxious to go because one of the temporary exhibits there is on embroidery, and it didn't disappoint. The centerpiece was a reproduction of a jacket from the 1600s. It was very elaborately hand-embroidered, many shiny sequins were sewed on, the lace was hand-made and had tiny hand-made spangles on it... it was amazing! The rest of the exhibit was good, too - my two favorite pieces were some bobbin lace with eagles in it - very patriotic! - and a very nice apron with goldwork on it. We also took the Christmas house tour, which showed how the celebration of Christmas changed throughout the ages, and took a look at the soup tureens, some of which are very interesting. One of the strangest was one that was in the form of a Buddha. Somehow that doesn't seem very appetizing to me.

I have my spring courses picked out:
Cultural Introduction to Sexualities and Gender Studies - this one goes from 6〜9, but it's only on Tuesday, and everything else is MWF, so I get Thursdays completely free.
Brain and Behavior - psychobiology! This one sounds interesting...
Time Travel - this is actually a philosophy course about the connection between time travel and traditional philosophic issues
Japanese Short Stories - in Japanese, of course
College Math and Statistics
allekha: (Default)
Under here~ )

Other than that I've been getting ready to move to campus. I've had four doctor's appointments in the past week, nothing really new except that my eyes got a little worse and I have a ganglion cyst on my foot. I have my dorm bedding and today I got my textbooks (all but one of which aren't actually textbooks). Tomorrow we're going to get a rug and a lamp and probably a printer. I have tea supplies ready. I could probably use some new notebooks. Oh, and I need to bring some cups for the tea and get a rice cooker... So many things to do!
allekha: (Default)
...I really need to get back into the habit of updating this.

Let's see. I managed to get an A- in Japanese 401, which took a lot of work. It was really fun, though. My Computer Science class was a lot easier, especially since I already knew some HTML and Python. Now I know how to make a decent web page. I'm almost done with statistics, and I'm going to take my math placement exam for the university either this week or early next week, which means reviewing math I haven't used in two years.

I went to the doctor a few days ago. I told her about my always-cold hands and feet and (as I was half-expecting) got a diagnosis of Raynaud's... either Disease or Syndrome. I had to get some blood drawn to see if it's caused by lupus or something or if it's idiopathic.

My new friend Nico, who I met at a 'Distinguished Scholars' thing at the university, is coming to Otakon with me! It took a bit to figure out how he's getting to Baltimore and back and getting the hotel set up, but he's coming! So excited to have a friend along~~

I have a few embroidery and sewing projects I should work on, and a couple of fics more to write for [livejournal.com profile] queer_fest as well as a couple more knocking around my head. Somehow I haven't really felt creative recently, although I think I'm getting out of it. I'll try to sit down tomorrow and work on that headbow for my cousin that's half-finished. And if my brain decides to keep me up till five for the third night in a row, I can always write.
allekha: (Default)
Some good news, now:

I just got my acceptance letter to the university that I really wanted to get into!!

I got into the honors program too!! Which accepts 400 out of 22,000 applicants.

Grinning like mad here.
allekha: (Default)
...I really suck at updating.

So, quick version: I went to the Philadelphia Hetalia Day meet-up, it was a lot of fun. Astronomy was easy, and it helped that I knew a lot of the material ahead of time. I received an A in both it and Japanese. My Japanese oral final was actually fun - we did it in small groups, and we had to describe a child character from a famous story.

I won nanowrimo for 75,100 words. I meant for it to be 75k exactly, but I overshot by accident ^^ I hit 5k the first day, and my mom had promised that if I did, I could get the new Bartimaeus book, which I really enjoyed. Anyway, my new book is still a work in progress. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year and I can start editing something in January.

For winter, I'm taking linguistics. It sounds interesting, I've been getting interested in linguistics for a while now, and it's a required course for the Cognitive Sciences major (and I'm still getting over the fact that I've applied to college already...). I just got the textbook; the list of 'surprising facts' didn't really surprise me, and the authors say that writing is not a part of language (which I think is incredibly stupid for multiple reasons that I won't spell out here), but for the most part it seems decent. I'll see about the class.

I'm embroidering my dad a bookmark for Christmas. It's almost done. It has the Python logo and the word 'Python' in a pixel-y script. If I have time I'll make one for my mom, too, something about cats and the hanzi/kanji for 'moon'.

Speaking of moons, I watched the eclipse last night. It was really magical, especially when I had been out for a while. Facing away from the neighbor's Christmas light display, eyes adjusted to the dark, when I looked overhead I could see even faint stars, and for a moment I felt like I had stepped back in time. The moon was a beautiful shade of red, golden on the right side, and nearly beneath it stood Orion... It was definitely worth getting up for.

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