possum couch

Raindrops stripping leaves,
Beautiful melancholy,
World of cold puddles.

Rain settled on Bloomington today, after a gorgeous weekend.  I wound up going back to the railroad trestle on Sunday with Chet when he got home, and we brought a proper camera this time.  Some of the photos we got are sweet.

Then fall turned wet today, and with a vengeance.  It's sort of gorgeous to look at, though; all the leaves are a sort of uniform yellow now, and people are wandering around with a vague look of helplessness as the drop date looms and midterms conclude.

There was a sweet adventure at our house this weekend, which I unfortunately missed most of.  Patrick discovered that there was a possum living in the couch on our porch, and was evidently impassioned enough take up our snow shovel, brandish it at the creature, and shout, "I DRINK ON THAT COUCH!"

The possum's name is Kevin.

(p.s. there are a lot more photos here)



Mosaics drift, soft,
Silent over now-bare limbs,
Winter sun above

Oh, I do love fall.  Probably I won't stop harping about that until winter.

I was amused by a few things this week, most notably the fliers and chalk ads that just went up all around Lindley Hall (the computer science building) for the IU Gaming Club's LAN WAR.  Hahaha.  It's like they think they're going to target their marketing or something.  :)

Equally amusing (though less local): Obama has declared Swine Flu to be a national emergency.

Victoria's Secret sponsored a huge concert at IU this week, too, for some concert that we won (that I never heard about).  The moral of the story is that Girl Talk and Cobra Starship performed on a huge, pink, steel stage that was nearly as tall as our damn Union building, which is pretty freakin' tall.  It was a cool show (part of which I missed due to play practice.  sad.).

Patrick and I went on an adventure this morning to an old railroad trestle west of town.  I'd been there before, but with all the leaves turning and such, it was positively gorgeous to walk out on.  It stretches about a mile over a valley, and said valley is ringed with trees that were like rippling poetry in the wind with their browns and oranges.  I couldn't convince him to go all the way across, though; I guess reasonable people don't want to walk a mile across a span hundreds of feet above the ground.  Go figure.

In unrelated news, I can't believe I haven't used "adventure" as a label on this blog until now.  Egad!  What am I doing with my life!?


magic, as usual

The smell of lightly
Cooking pumpkins on porches
Wafts to Halloween.

Chet and Roy came over this weekend so that we could get our pumpkin carving on, and it was a good time.  We pizza'd hard, watched Ghostbusters, and sang along to Aladdin (well, Roy and I did; I guess Chet had sensibilities or some such nonsense).  I hope this Indian summer doesn't rot our pumpkins, which are currently located on the Llama School porch, before Halloween.  :(

On that note, my Halloween costume is now complete.  :D  I'm pretty stoked about the Mad Scientists' Ball (CS/Info/CogSci/Philosophy/SLIS Halloween party).

I had a phone interview with Facebook this week, the language-knowledge half of which I futzed horribly.  But I redeemed myself with algorithms and data structures.  I get to go on to the next stage... which involves solving one of the Facebook puzzles at (they're fun, if you're into that kind of thing; check it out!).

I am continually intimidated by the musical knowhow in this house.  I had my piano midterm this week, and I was excited like nobody's business about playing the James Bond theme for it.  Then my roomates--3 of them across two bands--put on a show at a Café in town, and I was reminded that I haven't been studying music for, um, 10 years.

It's midterm week, which means no work!  Well, except for studying, but who does that?  I only have one exam left to go: Networks.  Let's hope that this temporary lull in work doesn't put me to sleep...

As for recent movies that are worth watching, I definitely recommend The Saddest Music in the World.  It involves a woman with glass, beer-filled legs who sponsors a contest during prohibition for musical ambassadors from every country to journey to Winnipeg and show off how sad their country's music could be.



Nothing fades into
Obscurity, you see, it
Shows from time to time.

So in the course of writing my post earlier this week, I definitely spaced a couple of pretty exciting things!

1) Richard Dawkins, a man who is probably the biggest fan of Darwin alive today, came to IU to speak about his new book and give amusing answers to creationist- and Intelligent Design-related questions.

  • Q: Do you believe there is any sort of evidence for a creationist or ID sort of theory?
    A: No, next question.
  • Q: What sort of evidence would you be willing to accept for such a theory?
    A: Well, if the creator were to ride down on a flaming chariot from the sky...
Other amusing anecdotes from his talk included a short description of a cheetah-antelope sort of struggle in which both animals are evolving to become faster and more agile.  "Whose side is this creator on, anyway?" he queried.

2) One of IU's professors in the economics department became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics!  That's pretty exciting!  That story came on the coattails of the much-discussed Obama Nobel Peace Prize.  I'm still not sure about that one...


another week, another recipe

Sweaters are out, on,
Brisk air chills cheeks, whispering,
Pumpkin season's nigh.

It's coming up on Halloween!  I finally got the last doodads for my costume (a Valkyrie, for those not keeping score at home), and I'm getting excited about the Mad Scientists' Halloween Ball (  It's also feeling like fall, and this week the stuff I cook, um, tasted like fall?  I'm a decidedly non-scientific chef, so here's the best I can offer recipe-wise:

1 large butternut squash, cubed
3 large parsnips, cubed
2 medium-large sweet potatoes, cubed
1 red onion
2 green peppers
4 carrots, sliced in little disks
1 tsp.-ish pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp.-ish red pepper
4 cans vegetable broth
2 cups uncooked rice
enough olive oil for sautéing

The basic thing is to make sure that the squash, parsnips, and sweet potatoes get cooked enough to be edible.  I put them in a pot with the 4 cans of broth for about 30-45 minutes before I added the other stuff.  I added all the spices to them at the beginning so there'd be tasty juices flowing around.

The onion needs to be chopped up, ditto with the peppers, and sauteed for a little while.  There's no better smell than sauteeing onion.  Mmmmm...

Then everything goes in the pot and it hangs out on low heat for around 30 minutes (for the rice and carrots to cook).  When I ate mine, I added a glob of goat cheese to it for extra deliciousness, but it's hardly necessary.

Uhhh.. so everyone in my house seems to be ailing with one thing or another.  Sam had some kind of cough + nausea going for him for a while, and now Dan has headaches and chills.  My throat is turning a little rough, which does not bode well for a performance in a few weeks... >.<

This past weekend, I went to see Holiday, a film starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  It was hella classy, and the fact that it was showing at the local semi-fancy cinema didn't hurt, either.

What else, what else... oh, I ran into my first race condition today doing OS homework.  (A race condition is, in essence, when two pieces of code are running at the same time and the overall programme only works properly when one accomplishes something before the other gets to something else.)  Initializing handles for threads to access the consoles of our system seems to depend upon, surprise, their memory pieces all being set up properly first.  That sounds dumb now, but it was damn hard to figure out.

In other news, I don't know who's heard about the new breakthrough in thought about DNA, but now we know how DNA pieces twist themselves up to fit inside of our cells (a single strand of DNA is something like 2 metres long).  The old theory was a very messy sort of knot, but the new theory is a "fractal globule," which is a sort of Hilbert curve (a curve which densely fills space and never crosses itself) in three-space.  This sort of reminds me of that XKCD from a while back...



Fall is sliding in,
Trees aflame, and I asleep.
Shiver back the cold.

Continuing to do this much work isn't making it easier.  This OS project may kick my butt.  Not to mention IT'S MIDTERM SEASON.

First, something cheerful: weekly cooking!  This week's feature was Navajo Tacos:

Chili ingredients:
1 pound cubed-like eggplant
2 cans 14 oz. pinto beans
1 large onion chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 can 12oz. tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa

Cook the eggplant until it's kinda soft.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Add everything else and simmer until you're happy with it (I did about 1.5 hours).

Fry Bread Ingredients:
3 + cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups warm milk or warm water.

Mix 3 cups flour with other dry ingredients then add warm milk/water to make a sticky dough.  Add additional flour to make a firm dough then cover and rest for approximately 30 minutes.  Form pieces of dough into thin (less than 1/4 inch thick) disks and fry at approximately 375 degrees F.  I didn't have a candy thermometer for the oil, so I just jacked it up almost to high on my stove.  That worked okay.

Onions, Shredded cheese (co-jack), shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocado

Top hot fry bread with a layer of cheese followed by a layer of chili followed by a layer of cheese followed by a layer of lettuce, onions, tomato, and avocado followed by a light sprinkling of cheese on top.

It's yummy.

Play practice was pretty fun, too.  I learned that my character is basically a crazy old woman who gets to play with anything and everything on stage when she's bored.  Sweet.  If anyone has old lady clothes that they don't mind parting with for a few weeks, I'd be much obliged.

The new networks project is to implement a longest prefix matcher for IP addresses.  This basically means that we take IP addresses (those things that look like, which is where I happen to be at the moment) and decompose them into bits.  A router's job is to figure out which router a packet heading towards a given IP is supposed to go to next, so it goes through and sees how much of the address it can match with its tables.  IP addresses are assigned in a semi-geographic way, but the important thing is that "close" addresses will be "close" physically.  Chunks of addresses are designated for certain entities, so IU owns a chunk of addresses (65,534) in the 129.79 family.  So that will be fun.

The OS assignment is to implement fork() and exec() for threads, which essentially means taking a process (loosely defined as "a program in execution") and making a copy of it which can then be turned into another process.  Operating systems don't pull processes out of nowhere!  The other part of the assignment involves setting up the filesystem, i.e. making it possible to read and write files.  WOO.

Piano is going well, too!  We learned the chromatic scale this week, and the most recent songs we've played are "Great Balls of Fire" and "It's My Party."  Hahaha.  :)

Anyway, it's like 23:30, and I'm definitely still in Lindley.  I think that means it's time to head home and get some sleep.  -____-  Blargh.  Any volunteers for doing my work will be welcomed?


a few photos

Soaked to the skin, up
To my neck in water and
Advertising.  Ha!



hello, goodbye

Footprints from the sky,
Cast darkly across cacti,
Wavering in heat.

Arizona is more gorgeous than I remembered.  I haven't been here in... what, like 8 years or something?  Anyway, it's been a while.  Flying in, I was once more enthralled by desolation from the air.  Excuse me for a moment while I wax poetic about the scenery, and then I'll get to talking about Grace Hopper:

Desert towns make no concessions.  Grids cross their space in the sand, and they don't taper off so much as they just stop when civilization does.  Sometimes a street will waver with a suggestion of organic shape.  The roads that connect the towns are Hugh Hefner-straight across flat, sandy inbetweens.  There are no curves to follow around hills.  There are no speed limits.

Dark veins of runoff channels spider across the dunes, giving the desert an appearance of old life.  Dots of brush don't seem like much from so high.  The outlines of sanguine mountains in the distance are made fuzzy by saguaros, which up close seem to be classic cowboys with their arms askew.

On the ground, one sees that there is more to this place.  The burning sun and the dry heat it brings are interrupted occasionally by a plane-shadow: the footprint of some great, rigid bird-god.  A lizard suns himself on a rock.  Some of the cacti are blooming--strange spots of bright in a landscape of brown and muted greens.  Some of the cacti are dying, but there is a romance in the extinguished ones covered in spiderwebs.

At sunrise and sunset, when Helios is at an end of his long drag across the southern sky, the silhouettes of hills and flora make dramatic backdrops for the southwestern dance music floating out of the conference centre.

Ok, anyway, I really loved the desert and actually am rather going to miss it.  The conference was way more fun than I expected, too, and I learned about a few really awesome grad school opportunities that I'm going to have to look into (including the Media Lab at MIT).  I think I also landed an internship for the spring, but we'll see how that goes.  ;)

There were lots of cool talks about things ranging from Lego Mindstorms to expanding involvement of women in technical fields (no surprise there) to how to best use the fairly extensive penetration of mobile phone service in Africa to improve medical care.  There was also a really inspiring panel about interdisciplinary research, which is most likely where I'm going to find myself.

There were also, of course, parties and lots of swag (Sarah and I got some great umbrellas from Bloomberg).  The platinum sponsors of the event were Google, Microsoft, and Intel, but there was a lot of participation from Amazon, Yahoo!, Bloomberg, IBM, Raytheon, and others.  I came away with a lot of free t-shirts (and 5 sets of Google sunglasses for the llamas back home).  I also got the chance to squaredance with Alan Eustace, to set up Guitar Hero and play with the Intel folks, and to jump in a pool fully clothed, which I haven't done in years, haha.  :)

I had a good time.  I hope that I have enough time to get my homework done on the plane flights home, but we'll see how that goes.  Oh, the life of a jetsetter.