a ba'b'ian journal

old stuff
"Glory be to God for dappled things--
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him."

still not enough studying. i think having mom around is distracting.

if i like someone, i expect that everyone will like them, and they won't need me.

very few trick or treaters. in the first batch, i was giving out two reeces at a time, and i ran out of the first bag in that first group. so with the new bag, and the next group of four kids, i only gave one each, and now i feel bad about it, because they were the last ones. i guess i didn't know, but still, i would have switched to change. And the real problem was that the last four were all girls, one little one and three which were only a little shorter than me.

i went to see rocky horror picture show. i fear for the future of society. the place was largely full, but full of quiet lazy zombies waiting to be fed entertainment and not participants. the spirit of rocky was mostly gone. there were a few die hards, but it was mostly sad.

java has really succeeded in supporting reusable modules, which was a only promise in c++ .

there was an IEEE cookout. dude needed to haul his grill back to bartlett, so i helped him out. he gave me some meat. invited me to work on the robotics project.

got a couple of conference proceedings in the mail. dna computing. still working on project ideas.

insufficient studying

today was a blackish day. i was going over electronics, and was unable to follow the example that was worked out. you're in trouble when you can't follow the "obvious" steps. and i was panicking. i want to now go through every example in each textbook i have, which will be hard to finish in ten days, but at least i will understand the stuff much better.

and shannon didn't even make eye-contact today. that really hurt me. grr.

so i finally, after a few weeks, went back Q, the sports club. dude asked me where i had been. man. last time i was there, their heavy bag was sitting on the floor. but this time it was cool. they got a new one. leather. much better than vinyl or whatever the cheaper ones are made from. and the other one had a problem with a really weak metal hook it was sitting one. this one was attached with a few loops of strong looking cable. So this setup seems a lot better. Pounding away on leather. luxury. it leaves noticeable lumps in the stuffing, though.

and i hope sitting in the hot tub afterwards will prevent the back pain that i got last time i did this. And there was a cute girl sitting in the hottub, too. i didn't talk to her, but it's nice to have one around. like a rainbow. come to think on't, she was wearing a rainbow striped bikini. i'd say it must have been a sign. one thing unusual about her was that she had a drink with her, and that's against one of the huge array of rules this place has. dude actually went and talked to her at one point, though i didn't hear it. and she still had it after dude left. privileges of the cute, i surmise.

ran into ed batey at seesel's. he at least was encouraging to me about the qualifying exam.

still having moodswings around this silly test. i bought the textbook for a systems and signals analysis class. i hadn't seen the z-transform, which is for discrete signals. I guess i really need to do some digital signal processing. In it, i read about oliver heaviside, who developed oodles of engineering, but wasn't rigorous enough for the math dudes, but too mathematical for the basic engineering dudes. didn't get credit for a lot of his stuff. poverty and genius.

i talked to shannon for a little while and it was strange. She was pretty talkative about impersonal stuff, psychology and such. But i really got the feeling that i was making her nervous. She's friendly and is really happy researching how people think. Not interested in ai. And she admitted to being impatient, and i'm pretty sure she was impatient with me.

liking someone isn't commutative

the tutor project is hurting for java people.

i'm mostly getting ready for the qualifying exam for the phd (on nov 7)

i took a five hour set of test, part of a psychology experiment. i learned that adrenaline really helps in taking tests, when there was a section of 50 simple arithmetic questions that had to be answered in 3 minuters, needing really fast bubble-filling. i also found that i had really trouble in short answer stuff, so i needed to focus on solving problems.

i'm not sure i ever got maxwell's equations, but i think i have them now. i need a complete understanding for this qualifying exam, and that is a strong basis. My fields book takes a horrible approach of wanting you to use dozens of different formulas, building up finally to maxwell's, instead of starting with the universal and finding the specific. for me, that is very uninteresting, and i definitely was bored with that approach, and i guess i didn't get it.

actually, the power systems book had the simplest explanation of electromagenetism, giving a historical treatment. lots of pictures of experiments. it's a senior year class, but it really ties stuff together.

i am not ready yet, and i'm having moments where i feel really worried, when i look at a problem and feel lost, but i'm getting better, and i think i should be ready. i took a similar exam as the masters comprehensive, but a couple of factors will make this a lot harder. There are eight sections (two questions per) each done by a different professor. Each professor has his own philosophy and some make easier questions than others. For the masters, you had to pick from at least six sections, so you could double up on the easy professors, but for the phd you have to pick from all eight, so there are definitely going to be really tough problems, and i get worried thinking about it. And i remember that there was one problem that i just happened to have worked on, so i was lucky. That is, i think i scraped by last time, and i'm feeling shaky. There's also one section called "networks" which i never had a class for, and i don't really know what it's about. some special class at the U of M. filter networks, i think.

i saw Pleasantville. it had a lot of philosophical ideas, on two levels. the obvious one was about how nostalgia and clinging to the past are bad. but the deeper one is a twist on the garden of eden myth, that knowing both good and evil remove us from paradise, but really that paradise is not such a good thing anyway. i thought it was pretty good, but somehow lacked some umph.

i also saw


with kurt russell as a future soldier, raised from birth. There was way too much unbelievable stuff. Where are the advanced weapons and targeting systems? why are we relying on grunts with no personality pointing machine guns ( and not sighting them either )? there is a trash planet, but the ships go all the way down to the surface to drop off loads instead of releasing them from orbit (which is very expensive), and always to the same spot. The very idea of a trash planet is pretty silly, as is raising humans just to be soldiers or genetically engineering them for that.

there was another one, kitty, who asked if i wanted to "play". i worked her pretty good--she was moaning and grunting. she asked to keep going, offered me another two-for-one, and after those she said she had really liked it, but i don't know to what extent she was just after the money. it's really an annoying question but i at least hope she wasn't faking.

now i'm very annoyed with myself. i walked up to them, but i'm still just a stranger and i don't think they know my name. and i didn't really join in on the conversation or whatever. I did ask about the project, there are 30 people on it. i must look like an idiot. the hang up for me is that it's gonna be really awkward and embarassing for me to introduce myself now, and i don't want to do it in front of too many witnesses.

my project for the complex systems has altered, and i'm going to be working on some kind of fpga cell for computation. evolvable something or other.

the is a difference between explicit communication of a rule and what you get when you figure it out from experience. the example i'm thinking of is the rules of grammar for a language. it's possible to learn the descriptions of them, but thats different from learning by example.

Something i'm paying for, i tended not to do the engineering homework as an undergraduate, content merely to know roughly the descriptions of how the problems were solved. My idea was that basic exercises are not the real kinds of problems i would be working on and i was more interested in computer stuff than, say, electric circuit analysis and field theory. I also by that time knew that they usually teach you to do things the hard way, but you end up using some computer program on real problems. Unfortunately for me, this approach meant that i didn't get very good grades as an undergraduate and really wasn't very good at basic grunt work and simple exercises (being more of a concept person and general picture guy). Also, they graded the homework. And it really blew my confidence level, such that i didn't even think i could get a real job, so i didn't try so hard. The really really bad thing, though, is that i've gotten really bad work habits, or really lazy, or whatever. I like to think of ideas, like in this journal, but i don't make the effort to follow them through to completion.

the state of medicine is sad. a lot of times people don't get to the doctor until something serious is damaged, and then there isn't much that can be done. This kind of problem is partly about how much it costs to see a doctor. And they still can't detect problems very easily. where is that medical tricorder? The biggest improvement in health was when they got proper sanitation. And what's with the deal with no cure for the common cold? Virus diseases are, like, almost beyond the reach od medicine. it's sad. and i'm a little concerned that so much effort was put into the atomic weapons, but almost nothing has been put into rebotic surgery, and computerized pathology (which would have been actually useful).

i shined (shone?) my laser in the dark around my room, and i find some interesting effects. when i hit the ceiling lamp (which has about a 2ft round light diffusing dish), the whole thing lit up red. There would occasionally be areas where the laser would hit the surface at an angle, and there would be a fuzzy red colored area to one side, and i think that only happens if the surface is glossy. Anyway, there exist devices that do a three dimensional scan using a laser, and it seems to me they could get some extra information using the reflection patch (i'm sure they don't normally use that). something about the surface texturing.

there is a book about thinking like leonardo da vinci. i really aspire to be like that, but i'm not there yet. the main deal with going back for the phd was to develop those really serious productivity habits. I realize just this second that i really need to master some type of cad program and start churning out diagrams. There is an object-oriented design package from rational rose that i'm thinking of for one. Or maybe i should take Dr. Garzon's advice and draw simple diagrams by hand a lot more. It's probably a mistake that i don't use pens and pencils very much.

gave the presentation on whiplash. it sucked because i hadn't practiced speaking it, i had only been reviewing the material. i kind of went blank right off thinking of stuff to say and didn't get into it right away. And there were bits where the teacher was shaking his head and got stuff wrong. At one point i got really stuck when the teacher was describing a different way of doing something that i was describing. I need to practice more. And I wasn't quite as familiar with the material as i could have been. Several times he asked why i was showing the diagram i was showing. One guy was confused about something, and i couldn't figure out how to explain it to him, and the teacher worked it out. Overall i have to call it a learning experience more than a real presentation. it really needed to be practiced a few times. grr.

the java lunch people started using a visual design tool. and we talked about some projects we might work on together. they like experiments dealing with reaction time.

i called bianca a cognitive scientist, and she and her bf scotty explained to me that they were cognitive psychologists, and there was a difference, and cognitive psychologists don't like being called cognitive scientists. But i group both of those types of people in that group together. there are computer science (AI) people, and cognitive psychology people, and both of those are kind of scientific. I guess they are all devoted to discovering ideas and things, and maybe i just want to use stuff. i think we know enough and we just need to go out and build it. i'm thinking the search for knowledge drives them a little more than for me. but maybe i'm kidding myself. to build is what i'd like to do

i hate it when you know something, and you tell someone about it, and they don't believe me. derek declared a static int inside a java method. the compiler said it was looking for a '}' before that. i said what the error was but he thought he knew better. the thing was, in c++, it's perfectly ok to do that, but not in java. and there was bunches of people around so there was the matter of losing face, and he had to work with these guys.

i thought i hit the snooze, but it didn't go and i woke up a half hour past when i wanted. less time at work. no newspaper. the ham for breakfast was slimy, but i hate plain eggs.

a guy from ibm (i think a u of m alumnus) paul maglio, gave a presentation about the web. he actually lives in santa cruz, works in south san jose. his topic was supposed to be about how people think about navigating the web, and adding landmarks, but the real thing he was pushing was a system called WBI (ibm upside down) that intercepts web pages and adds information to them or filters them. adding links subpages commonly retreieved or indicating pages with slow pings. it's a whole new area to add code.

i finally figured how to print in java 1.1.6. it is unusual and essentially it breaks their model of how window objects are supposed to work. objects are supposed to have a paint function that gets called when needed, and that's how print works in jdk 1.2, but in 1.1 you create a printjob object, and it gets a graphics area which you write to when you want. i wasn't thinking it could work that way so i didn't figure it out till now. it's major progress for me.

saw beloved oprah winfree's production of the toni morrison book. blech. terrible. ghosts. i didn't know what it was really going for other than whining about how horrible slvery was. and lot's of nonsense with ghosts. symbolic trash. oprah in love with seeing herself on screen. and pretty much at the end you don't care. not as bad as the english patient.

also saw "practical magic" with sandra bullock and nicole kidman. witches. very yummy. lot's of love. the world needs more love. less of whatever "beloved" was about

shannon gave the presentation for the cognitive science seminar, about events. she's a really cheerful person. she must like what she's doing. today she was grumpy about the stats test. and i asked her how she was doing, but she did manage a smile and said "ask me after the stats test"

i was working on the presentation of whiplash. and i printed out a bunch of slides, but the prof still found stuff i need to change. i helpful, actually

a new star trek voyager season. the first episode was about dumping of industrial waste, which isn't too exciting, but they threw in desperate aliens who live in the dark, and lots of fighting and explosions, and even a mutiny. and one holodeck adventure from some old black and white 50s B movie, with captain proton to the rescue. dude gets seven to play the secretary. did she gain weight?

i bought myself a printer finally, so i could do my homework printouts at home. kind of last minute, perhaps. since it's due on wednesday. it's an hp 722C. it's only 600 dpi, but that's plenty. it has special color enhancement stuff and extra small dots so the colors can be done right. I'm not sure what the epson printers' deal is with 1440dpi, because no scan or picture has 1440 dpi. that stuff is just needed to get color dithering, and supposedly hp has done something to make the colors work ok. photographs look pretty good, and i think the printing shows off problems from the scanning, actually. The box says that the dots are the smallest available, and really that's about as important as resolution, i think. Anyway, i bought it from walmart, and they didn't carry the epson ones, so i went with the hp. and it prints really fast in b/w

so victoria went to the party after all. grr. but on a plus note, she finally asked what my name was. i said "andy" so they don't have my full name, but something to refer to me by.

and i bought a bunch of reese's peanut butter cups. i better get to exercising.

i'm in my mom's car now

i saw simon birch. it was about a little guy, who had a lot of faith in god. and he believed he had a purpose and was going to be a hero. it seems fabricated, but it seemed to show the importance of believing that things will turn out well, or you will be miserable. dumb faith will at least make you happy. i don't know. it was kind of pushing that message. siskel and ebert really liked it. it has that jungian thing with the boy trying to find out who his father is, and that outsider thing and the two buddies thing. a little bit of hero stuff. for me it lost it and just seemed too fakey, not believable. Did these guys like the English Patient? i guess i don't share those values. Run over the damn deer. but the little kid (playing baby jesus in the christmas play) does grab the virgin mary's breasts and pull her into the manger.

i had to go see lethal weapon 4 after that, the other not being entertaining enough. Much more fun. with a kung fu guy. and they brought back the motiff of murtoch drowning, which is really unusually scary. death by water. they are getting old and tired, but it was familiar and that was actually pretty nice.

it seems like i coaxed myself to feel better today, but i think i may have just decided to ignore stuff again, and i need to get back in the groove.

is gillian anderson crawling through these air ducts just so we can see the shots of her cleavage? she is a babe, though.

the people are gone. i'm by myself again.

loaded family pictures.

studying electronics. it seems like there is a bunch to do.

no party. and i didn't even go watch a movie. but i went and made a copy of a key to the storage room, a little errand i've been putting off. perhaps i am turning things around.

it does seem clear that i hit a self-reinforcing downward patch. things have been getting worse, and i've been working less, so i have less money so i haven't been able to spend money to cheer myself up, and i feel less like working.

i saw clay pigeons, mainly i guess because of janeane garafalo (hetfiis). lots of women murdered and crazy people. the one guy stuck with all manner of freaks around him. a world gone mad. kind of funny too. there was one love scene on a waterbed that i found strangely nice, something about the squorshing sounds.

i actually broke out the EM fields book and started studying for the PhD qualifying exam.

and a weird programming problem with the jbuilder database stuff just disappeared unexpectedly, maybe i didn't check it when i fixed it yesterday. and after several months, we connected music up for people on hold on the phones

in general, a day moving towards productivity

the zoebels from canada have shown up for a visit.

art graesser, the guy in charge of the cog sci lab, is really motivated, and i need to find out what his secret is. motivated to crank out papers, which is where i'd like to go. i found that shannon is interested in following that track too.

it came up again in the paper, and it's a sign that maybe the world is evil. a lot of women just don't want to have sex. and they don't want to be pestered about it. evil, i say.

bit of a headache today

rachel was complaining about how she would look at the homework she did from earlier (in statistics) and she couldn't believe the stupid little errors she made, when she really should have know better. I said that there is some advantage to making errors because sometimes you make a mistake but it's better than what you were trying to do. and some teachers will make errors and the students will pay more attention to keep on top of them. Victoria was also around and i was asking her if there was a general theory of error, but cognitive science is all about really specific theories. I told her about one theory of general intelligence that was tossed around by the ispe folks-- that the thickness of the myelin sheath around axons in the brain is a major factor. it increases speed an decreases the likelihood of crosstalk, for overall better function. Victoria said she didn't like the idea of intelligence and i said i hate when people say that. shannon came in on that one. i said it was true that motivation is more important than intelligence, and victoria said she thinks that heart is the most important thing, but she's a mother. (Rachel thought that was mushy but i think went along with it). somehow it got around to victoria saying art is not well-rounded, and there was some talk about being really devoted to one area, and thinking you have time for other stuff later, and women have trouble wanting a family and a career and generally do one at a time. Shannon said she really wanted to do research and was willing to do 80 hour weeks so she could do what she wants. And i think they talked the value of keeping someone around the house. they're gonna have a party on saturday, and i'm angling to get to go.

the best way to learn language is to be immersed, and to communicate a lot through pointing. this fits with my idea that language recreates the perception process.

shannon seems very cheerful and she smiles a lot.

got some good advice about the presentation. i need to draw stuff by hand and not use a word processor or computer. lots of pictures.

there was a guy, his daughter was taking her fifth year of french. The teacher was new and she would only speak french and no english. no one knew what was going on and the section went from 15 people to 7 before they said no more people could change sections. The main problem was that they couldn't understand what the assignments were. This same guy had been in the peace corps and taught english in tunisia. They were using french as the language to teach english from, and the best teacher was the guy who's french was the worst. he had to resort to pointing at stuff. This guy who had enough french to really trach it the way they say didn't really do so well. Berlitz, or immersive, works good, but you don't get the grammar. Bianca, (a fiesty german blonde), had a counter experience. There was someone she was teaching german who could speak understandably, but was getting F's because the grammar was all wrong. My feelilng now is that academic language teaching is designed to make it easy to get a quantifiable grade. classes designed around testing, since its harder to grade "how well you speak".

I already spent too much time on the other stuff but something interesting came up on irc. Some guy who was in montessori from 3 to 6 said he still kept in touch with his teacher. (he's like a senior). And when i kidded him about the love and sexual stuff, he gave me the kind of repressed reaction i pick up on. The personal bond, a surrogate motherhood, between teacher and student is critical to learning. it motivates it. This autotutor must try to simulate it.

"Band on the run" clicked on. when i was about seven i really loved this song. i was a lot more outgoing then, and i would dance to it. i seem to recall the phrase "freak song".

country music is satanic. what do you think those bubbas do in the woods at night?

there is this psychology grad student, shannon, that i'm really attracted to, and i guess maybe i am just too shy to talk to her. I've been saying hi to her and smiling and she reacts the same way, but i haven't especially talked to her, and I feel bad about myself for that. I shouldn't identify with my failure, but hey. She seems really nice, and i can see she is being patient with me, but she doesn't need my foolishness, being a busy girl. I really like her spots.

I investigated further about the interest in java among the psychologists, and it seems like it isn't really a very serious interest, and i guess there is no reason it should be, so i'm just going to hold back. It would have been different if they had programming projects they individually wanted to work on. Cognitive scientists theoretically need to do computer models, but i haven't heard them mention that.

I'm listening to a queen greatest hits cd, and "fat bottomed girls" clicked on.

I don't think i'm all that stupid about women, i just haven't wasted enough time with them as i should have.

I was in the cognitive science laboratory (and i found that that's the official name of the little room i've been hanging out at with all the neat books about cognitive science and ai and stuff) the group there is really a tight bunch of friends and co-workers, and i am still an alien presence among them, a state i am quite able to have fun with. and it's a strange mix because half of them are computer geeks and half are psycs. well there was this one woman (clearly no girl) sitting at the computer at the front of the room, and she said "I have a stupid question" and i, being the martian, said under my breath so she could ignore it if she chose to "there are no stupid questions, only stupid people". This appeared to rile her, because she raised her voice and asked to the air or maybe the nice guy who did come to her assistance over her computer question "what did he say?". she repeated it several times. her question wasn't even a bad question, being about how to delete old mail on her vax account, not an obvious procedure. The guy was diplomatic as to the other question, saying she didn't want to know. After this i may have been loitering a little too long, because she asked me if i was waiting for a class. I said 'i know questions like that'. such questions aren't really seeking information, of course, but are more along the lines of a shooing motion. so i left.

i guess this emotional release is all just me procrastinating, because i need to finish preparing my presentation on whiplash PCR. i just looked what i have and i realize that i have a lot more to go than i thought. I don't have any diagrams, and the text i have is just keywords and not complete descriptions and sentences. I really don't want just put up stuff and read it, but that seems like a more conventional approach. My rule of thumb for transparencies is to have maybe 6 things on it, but i've never given a talk for a whole hour. I'm hoping this won't last a whole hour, that i can get the whole mess explained right off, and work on the examples. And i have two weeks still.

One guy i talked to pointed that you have to make things happen, and i was just waiting for things to happen.

Argh, this is a dark black time with no end in sight.

What are we going to do with all the extra computer power we're going to have? they need to be controlling devices, or allowing people to transmit and create video. and computers need to understand language pretty quick.

I have a theory about language. language attempts to recreate the process of perception. You first perceive the subject and then you see something happening to him, and then your eyes follow to the object. a pointing with noises.

So there's this girl Rachel who is in the group that meets for lunch to study java. She looks like a model. She's a psychology student who is merely working on a software project for U of M called AutoTutor. I really don't know what to make of her interest in programming, whether she's serious or what. For a complete beginning programmer to jump right into java is quite a leap. It's kind of touching if she is merely being supportive of the other programmers in the group, and she seemed like she might have just been trying to get a feel for the language, but cognitive psychology is involved with doing computer models of things so maybe she really wants to program. And this situation brings up an issue that i find quite interesting. The type of programming style that most programmers start up with is structured, which is nice for small projects, but she might actually start off using an object oriented design method. I'm wondering if I should push it in that direction. I have long felt that programming in BASIC messes you up for life, and even structured programming like pascal isn't really the best style. Also, I could bring in a visual design tool, which might help them out. But of course, I haven't even spoken to her yet (she being so gorgeous).

I'm going to have to present the following info for the class the class i'm taking, so i'm practicing here: There is a way to create a small computer-like object (a finite state machine) from a single strand of DNA, in a procedure called "whiplash PCR" state changes of the machine are encoded in frames, which contain a specific DNA sequence for the old state and another sequence for the new state. A bunch of these frames are tied together, representing a complete machine, which is like a flow chart or block diagram of what is happening. (note, i've seen flow charts in my car manual for diagnosing problems) The end of the DNA chain contains the current state. this folds back onto itself in a hairpin connected to the appropriate (new old) frame, sticks to it, and with a bit of biochemical magic, the new state is copied onto the end of the using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This link is then detached and a new cycle can occur. Each step occurs at a different temperature, so heating and cooling cause the system to repeat the cycle. Since you can have billions and billions of DNA molecules at a time, you could try out all the state machines and keep the ones you want, and there are some computer science problems it can solve. I got all of my information from the thesis of Erik Winfree though other people have also done work on it.

today was horrible. slept too long. went to the gym, but the punching bag was down. my desktop computer wouldnt connect to it's modem, and it's floppy drive doesnt work. minor back pain. life seems grim. couldnt get working.

i decided to start this up again. i need something to do, really.

saw deja vu. a romance, kind of silly, but played as realistic as possible. i guess it was good, but i'm no longer in the mood.

i feel way different from when i left off. a lot more torn. things are looking kind of hopeless, but i've hunkered down for a long climb into productivity through a ph.d. search and a slow climb out of debt. i could change direction though, since i'm adrift. but at least there are women around.