Friday, November 30, 2007

Ho, ho, ho

Quick one - everyone including me is basically getting snowed under with holidays and work and god knows what else.

Chez Weasel now includes a....wait for it....this took waitlisting with an online retailer and a couple of weeks...but we got a Wii. It's a nifty little thing, and a lot easier to set up than I expected. So kids are playing pretend tennis with each other.

Both daughters have now made the 50K wordcount on NaNoWriMo! I'm so proud. They haven't gotten a heck of a lot else done this month, but, whoa! Good going!

I've passed another couple of CLEP exams, for my maximum of three that Harvard Extension will accept for credit. Go, me! Apparently I know enough about American government and social studies and history and whatnot. Yay.

I wandered over to an online dating thing via some link to interesting quizzes, and that's been sort of fun and sort of - well, okay, a LOT weird. Go figure - online dating site has a huge preponderance of geeks! what a surprise! I score in the mid to high nerdiness range on the quiz I took. Also apparently (other quiz results) I am a ninja, and (yet again) an INTJ. I'm always an INTJ. Sigh. Anyhow, it was fun emailing back and forth with a cute guy who seems to have a brain and some wit.

I'm inching closer to being able to deal with my Unix shell problem. Complicating matters is that my new hard drive is replicating a major error the old wrecked hard drive had, and I'm thinking I may need to wipe it completely and slowly, carefully re-install everything. Yuck.

Classes continue to be intense. I have two papers due next week, and then the following week I have another bio midterm, thankfully this time over genetics, which I seem to be taking to (yay!). What I want to be reading is the beautiful, classic Hodgkin & Huxley papers that established the math for neuron voltage; what I am instead stuck reading is bloody St. Augustine and his stupid Confessions. Phooey. I'd probably be really thrilled with him some other time, but right now, he's just annoying.

And that segues to a really funny, but potentially offensive, picture that Lynne was kind enough to forward: (snicker, guffaw)

Cheerio, all!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Package for you, ma'am

I've been up to some mischief:

It looks a lot weirder there on its side (clearly I am having issues with Blogger and their photo hosting upload stuff), but it is, in fact, my regular coffeemaker, with some LEDs attached with magnets. Also some little button batteries. Fun! I ordered about a hundred LEDs to play with, and they arrived today. So I've been playing.

Thanksgiving was pretty good. I decided to make some pie at the last minute, so we were a bit late getting down to my mom's, but the pies were yum - a pumpkin and a pecan (I can cook)(I always put coconut in the pecan pie). Also my cousin and her cute little boy stayed with me--oh, pipe down, not that kind of cute, I mean "cute 5 year old" cute. Sheesh. Cousin J. brought some extremely good scotch. Extremely good scotch was new to me.

I now like extremely good scotch. Go figure.

And I've spent a couple of hours with my soldering iron, harvesting capacitors and a few other interesting bits, and I figured out which resistors of the assortment I got are which, and I am now ready (at last!) to assemble the nifty project that I've been trying to assemble parts for since, oh, October. You know how when you're trying a new recipe, you go, oh heavens I don't have those ingredients, and then you go out and by god buy the ingredients? That's kinda what I did. I have a nice little stash of electronic bits now. I burned my finger a little bit, but oh how nice to have it all laid out and ready to go.

The dog thought the LEDs looked delicious, so while I was out of the room, she jumped up and stole one.

She discovered that they are not delicious. Phooey! I found it in her crate, bent a bit, but fine.

I've been musing like I do about how deep the parallel processing in the brain is, and thinking about how the electro-chemical action moves in three dimensions via diffusion rather than linearly, like an electrical wire. I'm thinking this is our main advantage over even the fastest supercomputer: that we do things with 100 million parallel processors--you process sensory input and everything from your entire body all at once--and no computer comes close to that, nor would it be able to do anything with that amount of stuff going on at once even if it could get it to run. And my musing has been that this is mainly that our signal processing moves in three dimensions, while an electronic model basically just moves in two. When you add a dimension, the relationships between things change, like in a right triangle with sides of 3 and 4; 3 and 4 don't make 5, but if you add a dimension by squaring, suddenly they add up. And I wonder if there is a way to somehow model three dimensional signal propagation. Probably not. But it kept me up for a couple hours last night, playing with it in my head.


And its sequel:

"If God gives you lemons, FIND A NEW GOD!"

G'night, all :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pattern (making the internet a snarkier place)

THANK YOU, Mel and Lucia and Lynne and everybody - yes, indeed, google is a good thing. I've published the pattern for the hat here as a Google doc.

It ended up being a lot easier to format with html tags after a while - it's still sort of rough, but hopefully usable. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


For some reason I'm tired...

After I took the dog out this morning, it started to SNOW! Yay! It's tapered off now, but wow, I love snow. Cocoa and hot tea and warm cozy things.

It occurs to me that I may not have felt much like writing over the last week because I was doing a lot of writing for classes - didn't mean to leave the blog so...fallow. I've had some distraction projects going, too, of the knitting variety and a computer variety, plus getting *this close* to having all the bits I need to make a really cool LED thing. I unfortunately managed to salvage some 47 microfarad capacitors in almost every conceivable voltage EXCEPT the one I need, so that's been really annoying. I even rummaged in the attic and found an ancient Apple monitor and carefully disassembled it and found, amongst the beautifully laid-out electronics in there, only one of the bits I can use right now. I have reverently laid the rest of the stuff in a box for another day.

The computer wrestle is that I am still figuring out how to load and build and run the simulation program I want to play with. I had to re-learn everything I ever knew about working with Unix shells, which was not a whole lot but not zero, and I just about understand where I need to point things and from where I need to point. Very slow going and an odd mixture of utter, blind ignorance and actually knowing what I'm doing, which is alas not possible for an outside voice to help me sort out (who but me can figure out what sounds familiar to me?).

I remember way back when I used to work in an office, I was the resident geek, owing to my comprehension of how to a) switch on the computer, b) find the games in our LAN (which connected to NY), and c) get Lotus 1-2-3 to do almost anything (I created and ran a database for all our our client data, which was sortable by any field - no biggie, really, but mucho worship by boss). I recall getting in trouble because I was aghast that a new senior person created entire new directories for every single new document she saved - I actually spluttered. New person cheerfully hated me roughly from that point onward. I also did not win friends when the first big computer virus broke out (EDIT: this was around 1991 or so) and I insisted that our headquarters in NY was vulnerable, and the IT head insisted that he had it covered and there wasn't an issue. I'm sort of stubborn. And I was right. And headquarters' IT was shut down for a week trying to repair the damage that the dude said would not occur and that he didn't need to take precautions against.

Yes, I can be a real pain in the ass. Oh, you noticed that already?

I'm also wrestling with MS Word to make a downloadable pattern for this:

Anyone know how to create charts using any Microsoft Office software? I'm getting a bit frustrated. And the world really needs hats with obscure cartoon characters giving us the finger.

Cheerio, all.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Obligatory brain post

This is so damn cool you have to take a look: "Brainbows."

Isn't science lovely?

In other news... apparently Thanksgiving is - OMG! holy crap! in a week and a half! Battle stations! Mayday! Mostly I'm tickled that my cousin will be coming up. I'll have lab, and a paper due, both on the Monday before, but in the meantime I have some rather mystifying time off. Of course since I'll have some spare time, I'm trying to schedule more CLEP exams for next week - Harvard Extension will take two more. I sat down and figured out how fast I can finish if I go flat out all next year, and basically if I get the neuro summer program I want and do an extra course next semester, I could be all done after fall 2009. Nice!

I asked, and Harvard has kindly scheduled my classmates and I for some Official Space to meet and study. I keep finding that the institution is quite happy to be helpful, if poked in a suitable spot. Go figure. I do suspect the request was on the geeky side: "Please, sir, can we have an assigned space to study and do problem sets on Sunday afternoons, oh please please?"

G'night, all--off to more excitement. Hope yours is all wonderful.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Finally the workload has let up a little bit. I still have stuff to do, of course, but we're taking a day at home to be warm and cozy and look after things. The house looks like a wreck, so I'm slowly getting bits tidied up. It is raining. It is cold.* Yuck.

Oldest child's college application process is trundling along, sometimes careening, but forward motion is going on, and that's the goal. Yay, kid!

There's another large project going on, too: college for me. This has been something I have felt awful about for a very long time. I have done some pretty cool things, and by most measures I'm a frighteningly smart person, but I've felt lacking in legitimacy for so much, and confronting and dealing with it has been scary and difficult. I finally feel de-crazied enough to ask questions when I'm unsure; understand that I am not invisible and do not, in fact, sink into the chair; and I make myself get the work done, no matter how hard it is. Maybe especially if it's hard. I finally dealt with getting transcripts of my past work issued so that Harvard can apply the transfer credits. I'm behaving like a sane, functioning person, which is quite something for a weasel, especially one that is crazed.

One of the courses I'm doing right now is a required one for Harvard Extension's program, and the combination of the Required-ness and it being a writing course (imagine! me, needing to take a writing course! good grief!) and allegedly difficult to do well in, on top of coming to terms with my past and some truly horrendous periods in my life--well, it's made that writing seminar a little bit emotionally loaded. There is nowhere to hide. We have to bring in copies of our work for the whole class (all of 12 people) to critique. It is sometimes terrifying. I notice myself trailing off at the end of sentences when I speak. I feel uncertain when I write. In summer, I learned that I don't suck at what I want most passionately to do; right now, I'm learning--slowly, painfully--that I just might have the stamina to really do this.

There's a video on the Extension website, where one of the deans talks about the program, and it almost made me cry: it doesn't matter what happened before; we will judge you based on what you do HERE; we want to see what you can do NOW. Well, damn, I can kick ass NOW. How hard can it be, anyway? Not as hard as some other things I've done this year. Bring it on.

So on it comes. I got some more graded work back: continuing to do very well in comparative ethics, at last have a grade and am indeed doing very well in the writing seminar, and - yay! - I did better than I thought on the ghastly bio midterm. This is going to be okay. Finally, it's all going to be okay.**

*It has just stopped raining. It looks beautiful out now.
**Note to Universe: This does not mean that it is now time for something horrible to happen. Just to be clear.

Monday, November 05, 2007

La Vida Loca

I know, I know - when is it NOT crazy time around here?

The "cocoa house" (like a coffee house, except without coffee) Saturday was fun. I think there's some video somewhere - there was a camera running, and it may find its way onto the intertubes. I haven't been back performing long enough to be really comfortable singing in public, but some old instincts kick in. I hear I didn't suck; teenaged kid was not mortified. Hmm... maybe that's a bad sign--"child embarrassment" is in the job description, is it not? Oops.

So, hi! And happy Monday, and all that stuff. Back to searching for the misplaced textbook and working on a short writing assignment. Why do I escape writing with more writing? It is a puzzlement.