11 September 2008

05 September 2008

I left my first year textbooks at Joey and Liz's before I went to Masset. Yesterday, I borrowed a CanCart to bring my books back to campus (CanCarts look like this and it was about 75% full):


Friend 1: Wow, they really do try to weed you out in first year science!
Friend 2: Do YOU have the upper body strength to be in science?!

31 August 2008

Nabokov is fucking brilliant. That is all.

(I know. I know. Way to state the obvious)

29 August 2008

Resolutions for a New Term

  • Stop being so judgmental

  • Really listen

  • Make time to appreciate great literature

  • Type properly

And you know, get good grades, actually do the pre-reading, etc.

07 August 2008

"how are you?"

One of the best things about being back home is the change in the value people place on their relationships. People shamelessly want to spend time with each other. Nobody here chooses "maybe attending" (fuck you facebook). Everyone is in everyone else's space all the time. Yes, it's somewhat invasive. Yes, it's dramatic, but in my community, we genuinely care about each other and get to know our neighbors.

No one rushes in Masset. A quick trip to the store for milk can easily turn in to an hour-long chat. People choose to spend time together on a whim. Dropping by unannounced produces no discomfort for anyone involved. I feel like when someone stops me in the street and asks me how I'm doing, whatever I answer actually matters.

At work, however, things are entirely different. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up but I do know that whatever I end up doing, I won't do it wearing a name tag. I work a relatively menial job that requires a lot of interaction with the general public. Consequently, this means that I get asked "How are you?" about once every 3 minutes, but this time no one cares about the answers. Every time I respond, "I'm fine thank-you, how are you doing?" but feel silly doing so because I don't really care what they answer either. It's a waste of time and energy. I wondered recently what would happen if I started questions I actually wanted to hear answers to.

Do you feel like you're part of a community?
Can you tell my why you're monogamous?
Do you like your siblings?
Are your parents still alive?
What has made you happy today?
What can you be passionate about, more than anything in the world?

I doubt I'd get any responses and the credit union isn't the best place for a nice chat so instead, can I please ask one thing of you? Please only ask "how are you?" or "how's it going" if you care what the answers are. I'll try my best to do the same. Deal?

04 August 2008

and breakfast

I'm sure you've all heard me gush about Celine's Have Cake, Will Travel. Celine's started a new blog, and breakfast, "a mish-mash of all things that make life a treat" that you should check out; it's lovely! I nabbed the image below from and breakfast to give you a taste of the pleasures that await you when you check out the site [here].

03 August 2008

Thoughts on Brave New World

I'm glad that Wendy talked me into reading Brave New World or rather, just handed me a copy and went "borrow this". In any case, that worked out nicely and I'm glad I've finally read it.

While I was reading Nineteen Eighty-Four, Anthem, Never Let Me Go, and A Handmaid's Tale I was left with a feeling throughout the whole novel that everything seemed inherently wrong. They made for fun reads because everything seemed so outlandish. What was truly striking about Brave New World was that things weren't so black and white so I was forced to connect what I was reading directly to the world I live in. As a reader I couldn't conveniently condemn everything as immoral because I think:

  • hedonism is perfectly okay as long as it's not at someone else's expense

  • monogamy is overrated

  • we musn't make such a fuss about death because what can you do about it, really?

These are all values that would be perfectly acceptable to have in BNW society. I'm not saying that there weren't parts of BNW that were disturbing. Much of it was.

Throughout the entire novel, I found myself questioning whether or not the people raised in BNW's society could truly be happy. I've been conditioned to believe that I need to experience pain and suffering to truly live but if I hadn't grown up with this belief, could I be happy as an oblivious Gamma if I'd been conditioned differently? What seemed to be lacking was passion, but I don't think you can have passion in an obnoxiously carefree, healthy, happy (?) society. I guess from this I can take the idea that we musn't devalue art. Art captures passion and feeling. It drives people. It can be breathtaking. I can't imagine a world without it. Surrounded by science elitists, I find that I can forget this too easily. But then science in the pure, beautiful way I know it doesn't really exist in BNW either.

Summer Reading Progress

I posted this over at my LJ but I would advise against checking out my LJ. It's angsty over there. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Early Summer (April - June)
I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
The Professor (Rex Warner)
Lullabies For Little Criminals (Heather O'Neill)

Late Summer (July - August)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov) Yes, again, but I don't think I fully appreciated it the first time.
Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre)
Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut)
The Awakening (Kate Chopin)
Anthem (Ayn Rand)
Bluebeard (Kurt Vonnegut)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
Lenny Bruce is Dead (Jonathan Goldstein)

02 August 2008

Screw you, ScienceDirect

On a ridiculously belated note, I've started reading about the Step Studies. My fascination with this study reminded me that I've been meaning to make a briefing on recent HIV/AIDS research developments to send to the AIC listserv. Doing this sort of thing helps to ensure that I don't read about things like Step months after they happen. So I connected to the VPN, pulled up a search and everything I wanted to read was on ScienceDirect, which is down (hence the title of this post).

This post is really quite useless. I should be posting something of substance soon.

29 February 2008

On LaTeX updates

I've decided that I'm only going to update if I figure out how to do something particularly cool, so it could be a while. Reading about me getting the basics down is not terribly interesting and I find that I can stay motivated fairly easily. I've been LaTeXing my assignments for practice and I've learned a fair bit from each one. I've reached the point where I can do a decent job at LaTeXing my calc assignments and physics solutions for friends in class. Once I reach the point where I can do this without constantly using online resources I think I'll blog about LaTeX again. You can still expect other nerdery here though!

15 February 2008

"I'm a gangster nerd. You can't code like me"

MC Plus+, previously known as Sir-Code-A-Lot has made some hot tracks available for download over at http://www.mcplusplus.com/downloads.

This is pretty much my favourite thing ever.

12 February 2008

Bose-Einstein Condensate

So on Saturday Micky and I made the trek out to TRIUMF for one of the Saturday morning lectures, titled "Bose-Einstein condensation; quantum weirdness at the lowest temperature in the universe".

One word - awesome!

Photo from the BEC website

Carl Wieman and Eric Cornell synthesized the first Bose-Einstein Condensate in 1995. The idea that such a thing could exist arose in the early 1920s but was not produced until the 90s.

Two main things I took from the lecture:
1) Even just the idea of cooling something to 0.000000170 K is wicked cool
2) It basically changed how I perceive quantum mechanics. Pre-lecture, I just kind of though of QM as something miniscule that was nifty to study but difficult to conceptualize. Condensates are something you can actually see and understanding QM better in this way is pretty amazing.

Post-lecture, I immediately facebooked a friend to be like, "THE COLDEST MATTER WE KNOW OF EXISTS IN YOUR HOMETOWN! OMG" to which he responded, "Oh yeah, CU Physics tends to do stuff like that." Well, I still think it's awesome.

Anyway, I'm not really going to try to explain this here when you can check out the BEC website here.

Three things I think you should do:
-Check out the BEC website
-Play with PhET simulations (SO COOL!)
-Vote in the VP Admin elections

16 January 2008

small matrices and titles

Wow, it's been a while. I've decided that I'm going to try to LaTeX my homework assignments for practice. This one is from my Matrix Algebra course so having nice column vectors is kind of a necessity. On my first try, I thought I'd try formatting the first vector as an array but it was much larger than I would have liked and I didn't realize that \[ and \] essentially produced the same thing as $$ so I didn't get why it was centering the vector.

(yes, I know King Edward and Marine Drive are parallel. This is not the point!)

What I really wanted was to have them formatted like the position vectors in the notes my prof posted:

After some searching around and consulting bugging some people for help, I eventually figured out how to produce the results I wanted, and found out that I should have been using \( and \) or just $ instead. Oh, and I played around with titles for a bit, which was something I hadn't tried previously.

This is the result (or the first few questions anyhow):

And the corresponding LaTeX (there's more after but you're only really missing \end{document}):

Checklist for next time/whenever I finish this one:
-Apparently there's a way to get LaTeX to do the numbering for me so that I don't have to keep going \bm 1.2 \rm etc. Anyway, figure out how to do this.
-Figure out how to integrate graphs/convert graphs to .eps format, perhaps using Grapher (?). I used to graph with Winplot in a very stumble-around-in-the-darkness sort of way but I never tried doing anything with LaTeX at the time, plus since I now have a Mac I can't use it anyway. Well, something to look in to anyway.
-Stop being so sloppy with all the \\s. I know that I don't need them all but I'm just being lazy by not bothering to think about when I really need them.