Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dottie Dog and the Get Along Gang

All day yesterday I had Dottie Dog hair. It happens when I let my hair air-dry, and it puffs up into what look like two curly, wavy dog ears perfectly framing my face. Well, like this:

I kind of wish that this blog wasn't anonymous, because then I could post a picture of myself, and you'd see for yourself that I really do look like Dottie Dog. It'd be a startling resemblance and we'd all laugh.

I don't post that picture, because I value my anonymity too much.

Many of my favorite bloggers who blog under their own names have recently abandoned the blogosphere for reasons somewhat related to their un-anonymity. This includes Brian, and Kortney whose posts I really enjoyed. Sadly, there were some pretty crappy, mean, and belligerent commenters on these blogs, and very understandably the bloggers got burnt out. Recently, Geeky Mom posted that she was considering retirement as well because she felt less comfortable expressing herself. I, of course, lamented the potential loss of another ethereal pal.

I've always wrestled with my identity on this blog. I'd say my blog is mostly anonymous. There are many readers who know who I am, because they are my friends that I trust and told, or they just figured it out. There are other readers who I don't know. Looking at Google Analytics, it seems there's a readership in Hawaii.


I've put a link to my blog a couple of times on my homepage, only to regret it and take it down a couple of hours later. Even with my faux anonymity, I never blog about anything I could get in trouble about, in particular the dirty details of my advising relationship or the names of my offenders. I feel I was lucky with the choice I made. For now, I feel it's a good mix. I censor myself only a little, which probably produces better posts in the long run. Otherwise, there'd be 200 whiney posts on how I'll never graduate. There's enough of those already.

It felt appropriate that I looked like Dottie Dog yesterday, given that I was acting like a little yippy dog. I had 4 meetings, during two of which I needed to talk. When giving feedback in a meeting, I generally talk louder and a little higher pitched than I would talking to a friend or into the mic on my radio show. I suppose I do this because I want to be heard, and we all now what a fight it is for air space in this department. At one meeting, after I yipped like a little dog, a friend of mine was giving his feedback. He was a big dog, just calmly stating what he thought, and asking good insightful questions to get better material from the speaker. I thought to myself, "Man, I want to be more like that."

At the second meeting, I made a statement, and used some data to back it up. Someone else interrupted me to say, "I don't think that's true." My reply, "Well, I just have data, that's all." There, I was a big dog, but the topic was something I felt much more comfortable with.

Again today, though, I was a little dog, to the point of a Taco Bell Chihuahua. In part, it was because I'm not terribly good at hiding my frustration. Anger yes, frustration no. I was really frustrated in a meeting, and I wasn't getting a straight answer from the speaker. I put my hands to my head to smooth back my Dottie Dog hair, and said, "Look! I'm just trying to understand, do you mean A, B, C, or ..." And of course, I didn't get to finish my question, further exacerbating the yipping I already was doing.

In general, I feel really stupid after being the little dog. I regret not having handled myself better, and wish I didn't get so frustrated here with the fight for air space. I wish I just kept my damn mouth shut, but that's not a possibility. That was my initial strategy in my early graduate years, and I was chided for not contributing.

My question to you dear readers, is, "How to be the big dog?"

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

World View, Bubble Burst

I sometimes think I'll get tired of saying this: "Larry Summers was a fool."

But I doubt it.

Larry Summers, a person in a seat of power saying idiotic things. Larry Summers, an economist, a Harvard President, trying to say intelligent things in a public forum about subjects he knows nothing about; biological gender differences, cultural influence on education, and women in the workforce.

What's astonishing to me is that he said these things three years after Maria Charles and Karen Bradley published a paper in 2002 called, "Equal but Separate? A Cross-National Study of Sex Segregation in Higher Education" Their cross-national study of male overrepresentation in Computer Science starkly demonstrates the huge cultural influence on a woman choosing a field. The degree of male overrepresentation in the Czech Republic is three times that of Turkey, the country with the most gender-integrated computer science program.

Hey Lar, where's your world view?

But what infuriates me most of all about this blowhard is that he has daughters. What is he teaching them?

There are women in my department who went to undergrad in some of the countries where they report that CS is "about 50-50." A friend of mine from Kuwait still hasn't adjusted to the severe male overrepresentation in our department. She said, "In Kuwait, CS is a desk job. Women do desk jobs." Another fried of mine, from Israel, hadn't noticed the US gender disparity until I mentioned it to her yesterday. She was asking me advice about selecting a PhD program after she graduates with her Masters degree, and I mentioned CMU as the current leader for diverse academic culture in computer science with regards to gender.

"It's about 10 percent here," I said.
"Really? I thought it was higher?"

With so many women in her group, and so many women in her undergraduate program, the gender problem had not presented itself to her. In a way, I felt sorry that I had burst her bubble. I wish I could take it back.

My own bubble burst at the age of 26. It was the year I came to graduate school. Until then, I knew that there weren't that many women in engineering and computer science, but I chalked it up to, "Well, we're just catching up after the feminist revolution. It's only been...50 years." Despite evidence from the other fields that had been male dominated were now more equal, like family medicine, pyschology, and biology, I held firmly to that idea. I had been the only girl in my electrical engineering class. The only woman in my product group. One of four women on the plane to San Jose for the Embedded Systems Conference. But everyone had always been nice and supportive. I had friends and mentors. I had the support structure I needed to be successful. I worked in fun programs for girls in science to do my part to boost the numbers, to give back. The gender disparity hadn't really punched me in the face yet. Not like it has in graduate school. Again. and again.

My hope for now is that I can return to a place where those support structures exist. Where the diverse contributions of many are appreciated, and folks are generally just nice.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I Miss Knitting

From, "Landing an Academic Job" by Jonathan A. Dantzig:

No one is able to teach three courses per semester, manage a $250,000/year research program, supervise seven graduate students, write four important papers per year, go to five national meetings per year, serve on six committees, and do an excellent job in every category. Nevertheless, there are institutions that expect this kind of performance. Do you want to work for one of these?


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Minnesota Gift Baskets

A recent conversation with the boyfriend, not at all related to Minnesota Gift Baskets,

I say, "My brother sent me a video today."
"Like on UTube?"
"No, a video."
"Like in an e-mail?"
"No...a tape."

How quickly the old technology gets forgotten.

The first time I ever heard Bjork's song "Isobel" was on a telephone. The local paper had done a review of her album. Following the review was a small blurb, "If you'd like to hear a track from the new album, dial 503 555 1212." At that point, I hadn't yet heard of TMBG's "Dial A Song," but it was a similar idea. "Dial a song" is much different these days.

How quickly, indeed.

And yet, the really very old continues to be revered. An Australian website was recently launched, providing high school teachers with resources to discuss careers in science. The graphic design and writing style suggests that it might also be intended for a younger audience. Among other things, the site features Australian Nobel Prize winners:

To me, this is a corrollary to what I mentioned recently regarding the stock photo diversity poster. This line-up of white dudes in dated frocks is an equally unrealistic reflection of what science looks like. In high school, I was presented with similar line-ups, though Marie Curie was usually involved, and I always felt so far away from the excitement of scientific inquiry when faced with those grainy black and whites.

So what's the answer? You don't like the diversity poster. You don't like the Nobel Prize winners. What would make you happy?

A better alternative can actually be found at the same Australian website. There, we see a list of scientists, both men and women, ranging from biology to engineering, from geology to scientific journalist. I feel this is the most engaging part of the website, but I really wish it were expanded. Perhaps, I dunno, adding pictures of these real people would really brighten things up. It's so much easier for a kid--a potential member of the scientific community--to relate to a "Scott Burgess: ecologist" or "Suzanna Turk: engineer" than it is "Old white dude: Nobel Prize winner."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Time Travelling with Scrooge McDuck

So say the boyfriend,

I can't believe it's 11:25 am on a Saturday, and I'm already pissed off at the department today.

Okay. Let's back up.

I attend panels. I don't know why, because 90% of the time, the panels I've attended are less than mediocre. They are generally made up of four people with the exact same perspective. They are all the same because whomever was given the task of organizing the panel did so at the last minute. Moreover, the panel moderator doesn't moderate, and instead talks more than the panelists themselves. The result is a panel that answers 3 questions in 1 hour, and thanks for coming folks!

There have been one or two panels that have been really valuable. The panelists were caring, informed people with good ideas, and the panel was well-moderated. Maybe that's why I keep going. It's like the time I did a really awesome flip-turn in the pool. I keep trying to do flip turns, thinking back to that awesome one, but I usually just get water up my nose, and push myself into the floor of the pool.


I'll be honest. My perfect panel would consist of multiple clones of myself that had made very different life choices and gone forward in time to live out the next 10 years of their lives. For the panel, they return from year 2017 to report back to me what they'd seen. I'd ask questions like,

"So, "fcsgs B," who decided to get married but stay childless. You now work at Carnegie Mellon. How are things for you? You published 10 papers this year? Wow! But, do you have enough time to do the things you want, like practice yoga and write your novel? Do you regret not having kids?"

"And you, "fcsgs A," who quit school, had two children by 36, and started a successful chain of self-serve dog washes in Seattle. Do you feel intellectually fulfilled? How do your children feel about your upcoming divorce?"

"How about you, "fcsgs C?" You are still single. You haven't published in two years because of all your teaching responsibilities at University of Portland. Are you hopeful that your sporadic research will make an impact on the field? Is it important to you to make such an impact? Did your shoulder ever get better?"

And for some reason, Alan Young of the original Time Machine would be there as moderator, entertaining us with his Scrooge McDuck voice acting.

Okay, I didn't say "ideal" was at all "realistic," so I keeping attending the panels of this world, hoping to catch a glimpse of my own future clones. I haven't found them yet. It's been a little wearying, really, not having anyone that I can talk to about this. It doesn't even have to be a clone. I'm just searching for someone with an open mind. Someone who doesn't want me to be just like them. For most people here, students and faculty, any mention of not applying to the Top 10 is received with scoffing. "Why wouldn't you?" Or, "At a small school, you'd be teaching all the time, you don't want that."

I don't?

In an effort to have a real conversation about this, I got a membership at MentorNet. It's a website bringing together people who are looking for mentors with people who would like to be mentors. I decided to be more proactive in looking for this magical person I've described. I decided to find that human being interested in mentoring, one who would give me advice about the small school vs. big school issue. A person who'd been through something other than working like a dog and making sweet love to the University of GradShitTownVille.

At MentorNet, members can configure their profile, including setting preferences for a mentor. The preferences are things like,

Field of Study
Work Sector (e.g., private, government, university)
Alma Mater
Geographic Location
Professional Memberships

My only preferences were "[Computer Science or Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering] + PhD + University." And MentorNet reported,

Unfortunately, there are no mentors that match with your preferences at this time.

Sigh. In fact, the only PhD's in MentorNet in my preferred field of study, are these five people that all work at Texas Instruments. I appreciate that they've volunteered, but I don't need to talk about industry, thank you.

Here at University of GradShitTownVille, there's been a lot of attention lately paid to graduate students getting academic jobs at the top schools. Perhaps by "attention" I should say "propaganda," which is honestly getting quite old. Recently, a "club" was started for students interested in academic jobs. I inquired with the club president that perhaps a panel would be of value. Perhaps a panel of people who could candidly discuss the pros and cons of working at the small liberal arts school versus the Big Top 10 University. The question was essentially ignored, translated into this defensive "Why not work at top 10?"

To these people, when I ask questions like that, I may as well ask, "Explain to me the benefits of breathing in and out, versus not breathing at all."

And so, with telling the boyfriend that whole story, comes that quote,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mr. Loaf speaks for Dr. Moore

I've been in close touch with my brother lately. In part, because it's Valentine's Day, and we always send each other Valentine's cards. In part, because I know from Mom that he's having trouble with his girlfriend these days, and I thought he'd need the pick-me-up.

My brother and I have always been pretty close. We fought like rabid dogs after my parents got divorced, but once he hit 6 feet, it all worked itself out. Mainly, because I realized he'd seriously would kick my ass if I kept bugging him. Usually, when my brother and I are together, we make random allusions to stuff that happened to us as kids. For example, I sent him the following picture in my last e-mail to him.

He got a good laugh out of that. I won't go into the gory details of that one. Maybe another time.

Anyway, chatting so much with my brother makes me think of Meat Loaf, the singer/actor who appeared in award-winning films such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Fight Club."

His name was Robert Paulson.

The year that Meat Loaf released his "Bat Out of Hell II" album was the same year my mother married her third husband. My mom's third husband wasn't a particularly nice guy, so my brother and I were usually holed up in my brother's bedroom. He had a TV and Super Nintendo in his room, so many hours were spent playing Super Mario Kart and listening to music.

For Christmas of 1993, my brother and I each got our own copy of the "Bat Out of Hell II" cassette, though I think what actually happened was that my brother got two copies and gave one to me. Or that's what happened with the Cake album. Hell, I don't really remember. Anyway, "Bat Out of Hell II" was the album that had the 12 minute song, "I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won't Do That." The joke between my brother and I was always, "Do What Meat Loaf? What won't you do?" Though, I think everyone in America made that joke.

I'm trying to write a workshop paper right now (with 1 week's notice) and with all this thinking about my brother, it seemed like the "Bat Out of Hell II" was just the right album for working like I'm on fire. Lots of bad-ass rock ballads about Rock & Roll, wasted youth, bad sex, cheerleaders, and motorcycles. If that isn't inspiration for a crappy workshop paper, then I dunno what.

The lyrics for the songs on this album are freakin' great. For example, in his "Life Is A Lemon, and I Want My Money Back," Meat Loaf declares,

What about your school?
Its defective!
Its a pack of useless lies

What about your work?
Its defective!
Its a crock and then you die

True genius.

Jim Steinman wrote the lyrics to the songs on this album, as well as to some of the mega-hits from 80's goddess Bonnie Tyler, but damnit it's Meat Loaf who knows how to deliver.

For the past few days, I've been reading a really well-written and informative research paper written by Moore and Boyer in 1985. It tells the story of integrating a linear decision procedure into a theorem prover. Moore and Boyer do two things right with this paper. First, they do a good job of raising general issues of system integration, using their case study as a motivating example. Second, they write the paper in a tone that's entertaining to read. It's like I'm having a coffee with Moore, and he's just telling me about his adventures with a particular theorem prover. And sometimes, they've got a little bit of snark that is so professionally delivered,

Readers troubled by our selection of such a simple and old-fashioned decision procedure are invited to reflect upon the fact that an instantaneous oracle for deciding linear arithmetic problems like those above would increase the speed of our theorem prover on typical program verification problems by less than 3%.

Admittedly, I'd like to see a research paper written by Meat Loaf. The above passage from Boyer and Moore, if written by Meat Loaf, may be something like,

Readers who think we ought to be fast,
Have got a hell of a lot to learn,
And can shove it up their ass.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Art of Explaining

At the physical therapist today. With my shoulder, I have "achey days" and "okay days." I've tried to describe what "aches" to the therapist, but it's hard. There's no pinpoint of pain. The explanation is simply, "My whole arm hurts."

Until today, I'd say, "My arm hurts," and she'd associate it with the pain in the tricep that is usually associated with the rotator cuff muscle injury. I'm not good at explaining body parts, so it makes total sense that's what she heard. Today, though, I was lucky. I'd had a horribly achey day, and with all the pain sensations shooting through my arm, I was able to more articulate what was happening.

I said, "I've been really achey. I've had this burning pain in my bicep."
She replied, with furrowed brow, "Bicep?"
"Yeah, and, well, sometimes, it hurts in my elbow."

She immediately got to work, kneading and feeling and trying to figure out what I was talking about, for, as I discovered today, the bicep and elbow have nothing to do with the rotator cuff. She found what felt like a frozen pea deep in my bicep, and another at the top of my armpit. She also found what is typically called "tennis elbow."

She asked, "Is that tender?"
I replied, using the technical terminology learned from my ancestors, "Like a son of a bitch!"

With the discovery of these other muscle injuries, it's clear there's lots of work ahead of us. However, on a more positive note, since muscles are vascular systems, they are a lot more responsive than dried up, yucky tendons. With today's breakthrough, I'm more hopeful about my shoulder, erm, arm. More than ever, I feel it's possible that I might be doing a real "Stick" in my Sun Salutation (see Step 6) sometime again soon.

The lesson that I hope readers get from this is TAKE CARE TO AVOID REPETITIVE STRESS INJURIES. I've been sitting in front of a computer for over 10 years, and only now have I spent the money for the right chair, the right keyboard, and the right mouse. What's $200 now compared to hundreds and hundreds in medical bills later?

But this also points to a bigger challenge I've been facing lately. I can't seem to get my ideas across to people. I feel like I've lost my vocabulary, and I can only see the pictures in my head of how I understand a topic, with little access to the words that go with the pictures. This has been especially challenging in recent meetings with people who are more mathematically inclined than myself, and my inability to say things with precision just generates more furrowed brows. But, in this charged environment where people constantly interrupt each other, it's hard to be able to pause and reflect on the right phrase to convey an important research idea. I can't blame the enviroment entirely. I need to be more patient with myself, and more assertive with others. If my audience doesn't understand an idea the first time, I need to ignore my rather irrational embarassment, and just explain it again a different way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Depress, Unimpress, Cold Compress

I'm trying to figure out the word to use when one's esteem of another decreases. For example, I previously felt neutral about someone, and now I consider them to be a liar. Is that "to unimpress?" To unimpress suggests that I was not impressed by them, but it does not seem to suggest that my esteem of them has decreased. Is it "depress?" I mean, I'm certainly familiar with depression, but this isn't it.

I recently discovered that a faculty here at GradShitTownVille plagarized really quite heavily on a tech report he wrote just a few years ago. I'd actually looked up his tech report on a subject to get a second explanation of a particular topic. Instead, I realized he'd simply copied the first explanation I'd already read. And by "heavily plagarized," I mean that there are whole paragraphs that have been copied, with just a little editing.

Let's say that the topic is...ponies.

Original work:

"The simple pony barn addresses the general problem of trying to house a pony in a discrete and controlled edifice that is governed by the linear stochastic difference equation..."

Tech report:

"The pony shed addresses the general problem of trying to house a pony in a discrete and controlled edifice that is goverened by the linear stochastic difference equation...."

*Totally* different. I know.

So far, what I've learned about being a "top" professor is that you have to:

1. Befriend graduate students to get your name on a paper for which you did absolutely no work.

2. Write research papers about the research your student has conducted, but without listing the student's name on the paper.

3. Heavily plagarize.

Sadly, I don't think I'm "top" material. These days, the following is looking good as a potential employer.

Still, browing over the thesaurus doesn't give me good verbs for the act of "lowering one's esteem of someone else." Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Brand New Doofer, Regina Spektor, and Cheerleaders + Math

The house adjacent to mine is a little green house with a long gravel driveway. A man named "Terry" owns it, and he rents the rooms out to people; usually single men in their forties. The turn-around rate is pretty high. Terry is working on a project; singing the whole bible in the garden shed behind his house that he calls his "studio." Terry asks me about my relationship with the lord. One time Terry dug a trench in his yard using a hand drill and an auger bit. I try to ignore him.

My dad helped me move to GradShitTownVille. We drove across the states from Oregon. The second day we were here, Dad had already dubbed Terry as "The Doofer." So, my neighbors are the "Doofers" and the leader of the Doofers is Terry Doofer. With Terry renting out his place to so many Doofers, it's hard to keep track. There was Dan the Taxi driver and the "Indian guy" who needed a place for two months before he graduated. There was "Glasses guy" who didn't appear to have a job, but smoked all the time on the porch. There was "Frank-That-Worked-At-Kraft," who liked to "help" me but usually just caused more problems. Like I said, hard to keep track.

A new Doofer moved in today. He brought his few belongings in a rented U-Haul van. I'll wait for a few days before I name him. He might be one that stays for a while, and I don't want to just name him willy-nilly.

* * *

I [heart] the new Regina Spektor album. I had her previous album, "Soviet Kitsch," but lost it when my last laptop died. Damn you iTunes. I *wanted* to like her previous album, but it was too grating, too weird. Though, "Ode to Divorce" was a particular favorite. This new album, called "Begin to Hope," has a smoother feel. Some of the tracks are silly and fun, and some, especially "Lady," has some definite blues influence, particularly from Billie Holiday.

* * *

This note from an old friend who reads the blog. The edits are mine:

I just wanted to let me know that you have corrupted enlightened me in at least one way.

I was watching Heroes, when the pretty, popular, blonde cheerleader met her real mother, an also attractive, 30 something, blond woman, for the first time, the first thing that they estabilished as their common ground was that math is hard!

I was immediately annoyed and thought of how you would like that. I wanted to write an email to the show thanking them for perpetuating the stereotype and telling all the girls out there that even if you have the ability to regenerate any injury and are otherwise a pretty smart character, math is still hard and too much for your
pretty little head to handle. Just stick to cheerleading and looking good while pulling large pieces of metal from your chest after you jump off a building.

Old friends are my favorite.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I am dang jealous of the boyfriend today. He's been in Seattle the past couple of days, interviewing with Bbbbilll! We spoke on the phone tonight, talked about how his interview went, his $24 shopping spree at REI, and his Baja Fresh intake. His most interesting comment about the interview was,

"It was strange to me that whenever I talked to a man, I was talking to a researcher. Whenever I talked to a woman, she was a non-researcher."

That wasn't a comment on his attitude towards women in science, it was what actually took place. Only the recruiter and the HR rep. were women. The five or six people that interviewed him were all men.

It's too bad that Microsoft appears to suffer the same problems of diversity that many universities around the country do. Though, if you look at websites alone, you'd think there were women EVERYWHERE. I do appreciate what academic institutions are trying to do with these photographs, but it really seems quite contrived. For example, the following picture has a diverse group of people doing something obviously technical,

I have an engineering degree, but I have no idea what they are looking at. Moreover, I wish someone would just give that girl a step-ladder. I can see the thought-bubble above her head, "Almost....allllmoosst."

Other pictures seem less contrived, like this one of a woman in a clean room. Though, I don't think visual inspection alone can pass a silicon wafer out of quality control.

MIT seems the most honest with this photo from a recent EE freshman orientation,

Still, I'm always quite suspicious of these pictures, no matter how realistic they are supposed to seem.

Why do you always have to be so paranoid?

Sigh, you again? Well, for the past two years, there have been some "Diversity Posters" hanging around the hallways of my building. It's a photo montage of about 6 people; including a Latino man, a couple of African American woman, and this other woman who looks like she could be Rene Russo.

Can't you just be happy that there are female icons in your building, even if only in paper form? The department is trying to make an effort!

That's just it. The women in that particular poster are just icons. I realized this one day when I was visiting the Planned Parenthood website. One of the African American women depicted in the "Diversity Poster" was also in the photo montage on the P.P. homepage. Either this woman is a high-profile computer scientist AND birth control pill user or ...

Damn you, stock photography!

Can't even find enough "real" female computer scientists to make a stupid poster?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Alanis Morissette, voice of the graduate student

Many of my life's milestones have taken place in the desert. My mother took my brother and I to the desert for our first post-divorce vacation. I witnessed my grandmother's burial in the desert. I travelled to the desert to say goodbye to the leave behind the girl who dated that awful jerk, and hello to the woman who would become this graduate student. My most recent trip to the desert was five years ago, to visit my auntie in Las Vegas. I had just bought Alanis Morissette's "Under Rug Swept" album. I listened to it on my portable CD player as I walked the neighborhood streets, in a time that did not yet know the iPod.

Back then, Alanis songs always represented to me some unresolved anger at some stupid boy that had treated me badly. I know all the words to each song assigned to these boys. These days, thanks to having a decent boyfriend who doesn't call me bitch and who does his own dishes, I've not really listened to her albums as regularly. Today, I got out the "Under Rug Swept" album. It's been a bad 10 days, and I needed something for a structured screaming exercise. Upon track 2, I suddenly wondered if Alanis had ever been to graduate school. With all my frustrating faculty issues lately, it didn't seem appropriate anymore to think of old boyfriends when I hear lyrics like these:

The faculty members who won't let me finish my sentences:

Dear narcissus boy I know you've never really apologized for anything
I know you've never really taken responsibility
I know you've never really listened to a woman

Dear me-show boy I know you're not really into conflict resolution
Or seeing both sides of every equation
Or having an uninterrupted conversation

The faculty member who did that not-so-appropriate thing:

We'll fast forward to a few years later
And no one knows except the both of us
And I have honored your request for silence
And you've washed your hands clean of this

The faculty member who turned me away for advising:

Wait a minute man
You mispronounced my name
You didn't wait for all the information
Before you turned me away
Wait a minute sir
You kind of hurt my feelings
You seek me as a sweet back-loaded puppet
And you've got a meal ticket tast.


I got a lot of "grrr" in me right now, in part due to the 12 hours of meetings I had last week. 12!?@#$What the$#@!? I'm trying to keep perspective, but it's tough, as I feel I've hit a local minimum with my research. My advisor is unhappy with my progress and wants to shut down my project. Grrr. Right now, I'm trying to recollect and try a new strategy to get him to listen to me. Without. Interrupting.

Still, I'm learning more and more. I've noticed that there are fewer and fewer things that folks say that sound like alien language, which is great progress for a EE in CS. Even the formal methods boyfriend hasn't stumped me for a while. That's something...right?

* * *

To keep things light-hearted, I'll end with a good boyfriend story.

These past couple of weeks it's been dang cold in GradShitTownVille. I whine about the cold at least three times a day. I thaw myself in the bathtub every night. I take heat-cuts through three buildings on my way to lunch. During one of my whiny moments, the boyfriend said,

"Whaddya mean it's cold? It's 261 Kelvin!"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pile of Wood

Suzuki-san travelled far to meet Koke-sensei, to learn the ways of stacking wood. She had heard the stories of the great wood stackers, their intricate patterns and their bright intelligence, and she wanted to follow in that path. Upon meeting Koke-sensei at the School of Wood Stacking, he said,

"All you must do," as he pointed to 100 logs, "is stack that wood."

For two years she worked at stacking the wood. Without any instruction, only studying the wood stacks that sprinkled the grove of the School of Wood Stacking, she was able to stack 40 logs in a precise manner, as the woodstackers before her.

Koke-sensei approached and said, "No longer does that wood interest me." He pointed to another pile of 100 logs, and said, "You must now stack this wood."

For two years she worked at stacking the wood. Without any instruction, only studying the wood stacks that sprinkled the grove of the School of Wood Stacking, she was able to stack 80 logs in a precise manner, as the woodstackers before her.

Koke-sensei approached and said, "We have a new student Suzuki-san. Please help Yamamoto-san with his stack."

For two years she worked at stacking the wood, helping and mentoring Yamamoto-san. Without any instruction, only studying the wood stacks that sprinkled the grove of the School of Wood Stacking, she and Yamamoto were able to stack all 100 logs in a precise manner, as the woodstackers before them. With all 100 completed in the stack, she was very joyful, ready to graduate from the School of Wood Stacking.

Koke-sensei approached and said, "Good Yamamoto-san. You may go." He turned to Suzuki-san and asked, "And what of your stack?"

And that, Mr. Clock, is why it takes so long.