30 Jun 2003

He's in the money

Howard Dean has raised more than $7 million this quarter. That's pretty amazing. But the best part is, over a million of that was just in the last two days---he sent out a message in the wee hours Sunday morning that he'd just passed $6M and was challenging his supporters to bring it to $6.5M by tonight. Talk about exceeding expectations! The campaign passed the $7M mark just before 10pm Eastern this evening, and it's still going---by the time the Midwest and West Coast contributions finish rolling in, not to mention all the snailmailed contributions, I fully expect it to be upwards of $7.25M. Today alone the campaign raised over three-quarters of a million dollars!

Why is this so important? The federal government will match up to $250 per donor. And many of Dr Dean's donors are in the under-$250 range, so the Fed will be paying in several million dollars into the campaign. This happens at the end of every quarter, hence the current rush to get the money in by midnight (in your own time zone) tonight. If you read this before the clock rolls over into July, contribute! If not, then at least head on over to Meetup.com and find out where this Wednesday's meetup will be in your area---find out how you can help!

"I would go back to the Clinton era of taxes because I think most Americans would gladly pay the same taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president if they could only have the same economy that they had when Bill Clinton was president." --Howard Dean

Posted by blahedo at 11:50pm | Comments (0)

29 Jun 2003

Great homily

I've been going to Church at St Francis this summer, and I like it there; but today's homily about knocked my socks off. The priest reviewed the "bad year and a half" that the Church has had, reiterating that the people involved in the scandal are not the entirety of the Church; and without a doubt, the Church would make it through this time of trouble just like it always has.

And one of the things we will need to do (he continues) is to stop saying there are things we can't or won't talk about. We need to sit down and have honest discussion about things---many things, including ministry roles for various people, including women in the priesthood, and gay priests. And we need to talk about the general role of gays and lesbians in the Church, and about sexuality and reproduction. Honestly, and without obfuscation. The gates of Hell are characterised by deceit and oppression, and the Kingdom of Heaven will always win out over these things.

Yay Church!

"I deeply resent sleep, and yet, I am only human." --Kevin Colby

Posted by blahedo at 12:00pm | Comments (0)

28 Jun 2003

Cell phones and yarn

I am now the proud owner of an LG-4400 phone from Verizon. So all y'all that I've told that my cell phone is flaky, well, it's not anymore. It's pretty cool actually. (Although, it does have the annoying sounds-like-a-gameboy polyphonic ring, but there wasn't much I could do about that. I expect I'll get used to it eventually.) The best part is, it was free. I went in thinking I'd *probably* stick with Verizon, just from inertia, but sort of openminded; but it turns out if you're a longstanding customer (three years for me; I assume it's anything over two), they knock $100 off the price of your phone. So, couple that with the $50 mail-in rebated, and I have this schmancy new phone, free. So I splurged and got a headset and a car charger too (though to be honest, I'd been considering that anyway).

Then I went down to Tiverton, to Sakonnet Purls, a really great yarn shop. It's still the biggest yarn shop I've ever been in (ok, so I've only been in six), and the people there are really nice. Also, the drive down there is absolutely gorgeous. On this trip I learned of the existence of "the shed", where every skein and ball is $3. I pretty much went into ferret shock, although I managed to pry myself out of there without buying anything. The inside of the store was another story. I bought a book on making sweaters (not just sweater patterns, and this thing is really analytical about the whole thing), and a bunch of skeins of yarn with which I will commence my first sweater one of these days. Also needles and yarn for a few more projects I'm thinking of, and a tapestry needle, and some finishing-off bits for existing projects, and wool shampoo. (Wool shampoo? Eh? Well, wool is basically hair, and if you're going to be washing it by hand....)

"Symptoms of cyanide poisoning are excitement, convulsions, respiratory distress, and spasms. Another warning sign is death, which can occur without any of the other symptoms." --Cecil Adams

Posted by blahedo at 11:14pm | Comments (0)

25 Jun 2003

Crazy busy...

Crazy busy, but here are a few updates.

  • I have acquired blahedo.org and will, at some point this summer, move this blog and my entire cs.brown.edu site over to that. Exciting!
  • This criticism is maybe not entirely fair, but Bush's pro-military stance is entirely a product of 9/11. Beforehand, we had the tech to locate and take out Bin Laden, but he decided it was too expensive. In fairness, I'm not a huge fan of sending in attack drones to take out targets we don't like; so this is more a critique of Bush's consistency than the policy itself. But still.
  • Apple announced a bunch of stuff Monday. Oh my God, look at this stuff, it is so cool. A G5 will be mine, oh yes.
  • The thesis proceeds apace. *sigh*

"Personally, I'd let the guards sit around and squeeze making "honk-honk" noises if they'd let me keep my damned shoes on at the xray, but hey, we all have our quirks." --Gel Thelen

Posted by blahedo at 12:38pm | Comments (0)

22 Jun 2003

I miss the Midwest

There is a fantastic thunderstorm going on here right now. Close, too---lightning-thunder delay is on the order of three to six seconds for a lot of them. Many of the thunderclaps are causing the house to shake, and setting off car alarms. The lightning is blinding, and that's if you're not looking out the window when it hits. And boy howdy is it ever pouring rain. Ah, I miss the Midwest. This is likely to be the only good thunderstorm out here all summer, or perhaps one of two. *sigh*

"I just finished a beer that was so large that I had to lift it with both hands. Really, the only reason I ordered it was to wash down a pretzel that was itself so large that it could have eaten me under the right circumstances. I have a very high opinion of Munich, but it may have been artificially produced." --Tycho

Posted by blahedo at 2:14am | Comments (0)

21 Jun 2003

I finished the socks!

I finished the socks! Pictures forthcoming.

"I started to cry as I sat down with a gigantic piece of meat, a schnitzel, which is like a fried continent. I mean it, I pulled my hat off my head and started to cry. *This is what it is all about.* If getting drunk at eleven in the afternoon and eating a huge piece of meat is wrong, then *I don't want to be right.*" --Tycho

Posted by blahedo at 7:42pm | Comments (0)

What a dreadful movie

I'm attending a linguistics workshop here at Brown, and meeting all sorts of people who I've heard about, and whose papers and theses I've read. It's really cool and interesting.

And the stories they tell over alcohol are really funny, although it occurs to me that they probably wouldn't be if you weren't in the field...

After the main conference dinner a bunch of us went out to a bar. We talked for a while, and a couple of us joked that the movie they had playing there---on the TV screens in all corners of the bar, always in at least peripheral vision---was just plain dreadful, closed captions and all. (Fwiw, it was Eight Legged Freaks. And it was really dreadful.) And after a while, the conversation lapsed and there were, like, four of us sitting there, watching it. MST3King it to some extent. It was just So Bad. And slowly some left, and the last two linguists in the bar (me and Alexis Dimitriadis) were watching it right to the bitter end. And then we left (though annoyingly enough the best music the bar had played all night---"Counting Flowers on the Wall", Eric Heatherly---had just started playing as we walked out) as the credits were rolling.

God, it was bad.

"Between Venice and Rome, I've seen about nine different varieties of Monks, Priests, and Nuns. What do these differences represent, I wonder---is it for intramural sports? At the vey least, I'd imagine that each type has different skills and bonus feats. " --Tycho

Posted by blahedo at 1:19am | Comments (0)

17 Jun 2003

BLLIP markup tool now online!

About a half an hour ago I mailed out a link to some people who'd been asking for my function tagger and/or Eugene's parser---I finally managed to put a version of it online. And you can tell that the people I was mailing to were grad students, because I've already gotten two responses!

"If you want to see as compelling a demonstration of Ethernet as you are ever likely to see in your life, head on over to Rome and try to cross the street. Don't wait to cross it, they'll never stop. Everyone goes at once. That's right, there are forty motorscooters and tiny Smart Cars and what looks like a motorized wheelbarrow going where you're trying to go at the same time you're tring to go there. You may momentarily feel as though you are floating in a sea of careening metal. That is actually fairly accurate. But you are in no danger." --Tycho

Posted by blahedo at 11:05pm | Comments (0)

16 Jun 2003


A weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I decided that there was essentially no way I was getting a draft done by today, possibly not even by tomorrow, and so I've decided to go with the later defence date, after I get back from Chicago. This gives me a couple more weeks to pound out a draft. Ahhhh.

"I'm sure we could manage a reasonable middle ground, what with that "intelligence" and "flexibility" stuff going for us as a species." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 1:40pm | Comments (0)


You know, chances are really good that I'm the only person in this entire building right now. *sigh*

"To point out to others that they are short, tall, fat, thin, pregnant, using a wheelchair, looking anxious or blushing is not as informative as many people imagine, and to inquire why is not likely to enlighten or amuse even the one who asks." --Miss Manners

Posted by blahedo at 4:05am | Comments (0)

13 Jun 2003

Thesis blues

Man oh man, this is like a roller coaster. I've swung all the way back and forth between "this is the best writing I've ever done and they'll love it" and "this exposes me for the fraud I am and they'll never let me pass", about four or five times tonight. It helps that I know rationally that every PhD student on earth goes through this, but it's still a little distressing. (Not least *because* I can be so analytical about the whole thing.)

"To make grand changes in the body plan of animals, there is no need to invent new genes, just as there's no need to invent new words to write an original novel (unless your name is Joyce)." --Matt Ridley, "What makes you who you are", Time

Posted by blahedo at 2:51am | Comments (0)

12 Jun 2003


The blogosphere admits another member.


"I'd rather live next to a wind farm than a coal plant. If ugliness were justification enough for stopping human structures from being built, there would be no Wal-marts or trailer parks or Modesto, CA." --Gel Thelen

Posted by blahedo at 10:37pm | Comments (0)


Yes, that was definitely the right plan. After a week of trudging through the thesis, my blood pressure slowly rising as the task seemed ever less tractable, the floodgates have now opened. I threw out the old stuff and started from that outline, and I've been typing almost nonstop since then. At some point I suppose I'll have to sleep, but I hate to kill the flow like that.

You know, right now I'm kind of feeling like those Matrix guys---they can read the incomprehensible green matrix terminals, because they have lots of experience with it and know what to look for, but anyone else is going to need some pretty heavy-duty visualisation tools. In generating diagrams for the thesis, I'm finding myself really having to step back and try to imagine what someone would see if they hadn't been staring at this stuff for months and years. Trickier than you might imagine.

"Um, if we're gonna try and list all the famous artists, musicians, writers, actors, etc that have smoked weed, that's gonna take a REALLY LONG TIME." --Eva Schillace

Posted by blahedo at 5:21am | Comments (0)

From scratch?

So, you know that thesis I've been working on? I now have...


...an OUTLINE!

Er, so it's not so bad as all that, actually. I originally started writing the thesis, as in, the file thesis.tex, by copying the proposal from last August, and filling in the bits that were new. I was having a hard time fitting into that framework, so I sat down, "threw out" the old version (i.e. renamed it to thesis-old.tex) and am starting from scratch with a totally different outline that will work better. Of course, most of the old text will still make its way back in, so all is not lost. :)

"I look much too dorky to be an eighteen-year-old. Although, actually I looked even dorkier when I was eighteen, but they don't know that." --Sharon Goldwater

Posted by blahedo at 2:06am | Comments (0)

10 Jun 2003

A little late, you think?

Just in the last week or two, I've gotten some mail from a few places that I applied for jobs---thanks but no thanks. I remember thinking, months ago, that it was strange (and a bit rude) that they had never responded, even if only to say "we're not interested"; but I wrote them off. One month passed, and I arranged interviews with the places that wanted to see me. Another month passed, and I heard back from all of them, and accepted the offer at Knox. Another month, and even the big schools with large fac searches (like Brown) had concluded their interviews and made their offers. Another month, and they'd even heard back. And still another month passed before these schools that rejected me finally sent me mail to tell me so. I'm just as happy they rejected me---further reflection after I'd sent out the applications told me that I wouldn't go those places, even as a backup plan---but it's sort of mind-boggling that they would wait so long to send a response.

"Freed from the normal constraints of truth and veracity, "journalists" such as Blair, Shalit, Barnicle, Smith and Glass shine above their counterparts. They're promoted ahead of the pack because their stories, sneakily cloaked as journalism, read better than everyone else's stories. In a profession fueled by competition, their careers are propelled along because of, rather than in spite of, their transgressions." --Terry M. Neal, Washington Post

Posted by blahedo at 5:37pm | Comments (0)

9 Jun 2003

Hi, Chris!

Currently sitting in my office is a guy who I met online---wait, it's not that sketchy---on the message boards from my high school---no, wait---and then I later met him in person at a party---hang ON!---hosted by another guy that I know chiefly through the same message board. Er. And the reason he's here is to do research in my research group, which we thought up as a possibility when we got coffee after I interviewed for a job at his college, the job at Knox that I later was offered and accepted. Wacky.

For his part, Chris seems to think the whole thing is pretty funny too. ;)

"As far as the barn-raisin', paint-strippin' part goes, Amish and Mormons are functionally identical. The Mormons will probably bring a Wagner Power Painter modified to spray mineral spirits, however." --Pete McFerrin

Posted by blahedo at 2:01pm | Comments (0)

7 Jun 2003

More work

Ah, finally. Got a couple of hours of work in on the thesis document; let's hope that's enough inertia that I can pick it up later today. Now, I'm going home to bed.

From the oh-really? dept.: "Bush is a Republican. I'm a Democrat. In fact, I'm seeking the office he holds. But at this moment there's not an inch of distance between us." --Joseph Lieberman

Posted by blahedo at 7:48am | Comments (0)

Work update

Well, I've gotten some coding done, and started a bunch of experiment runs, so I can't say I've been totally slacking.

But I also just wrote a page on my various knitting projects. I should really be writing my thesis....

"I knew if I was willing to sell out the rights of a whole group of Americans to get reelected, then I'd wasted my time in politics." --Howard Dean

Posted by blahedo at 5:00am | Comments (0)

Progress report


As predicted, the week and a half that I lost to graduation and the conference has caused me to come to a complete stop on my research and thesis. Frustrating. Now I'm in that "having a hard time getting started again" mode, but I really need to get going.

As for my thesis, and defending it: I'd been saying "late June" for a while, and privately had a self-imposed deadline of 17 July---because I wanted to have defended before the IMSA reunion on the 19th. As a nice compromise, I'd been thinking maybe 9 July. But the international ACL conference is that week, and my entire committee will be there, so that's no good. And I need to get a thesis draft in a full month in advance, so I can't do it before the conference. In fact, even if I want to defend as soon as they're back from the conference, on the 14th, I'd need to get cracking on the thesis draft, as I'd have to have that in by... next Saturday. Have I mentioned that I haven't exactly started writing?


So here I sit, reading notesfiles, knitting, learning to crochet, chatting on the phone, blogging, anything to procrastinate. I suspect once I get started, I'll be fine, but...

I've told myself I'm not leaving the office until I've gotten started again. I might be here a while.

"This is amazing. You've run into somebody who seems to be a complete loon, on the Internet of all places." --Neal Groothuis

Posted by blahedo at 2:00am | Comments (0)

4 Jun 2003

Missed me?

Well, I got my master's degree and flew off to Edmonton. I'm back from the Canada trip now (travelogue and pictures forthcoming), enjoying better health and enduring worse weather than at any point *during* the trip. Ah well.

I just now got back from the Dean Meetup, where I met about twenty Rhode Islanders who really, really want to see Howard Dean elected as our next president, for all sorts of reasons. It was immensely encouraging. Unlike the people I met during my stint in the Nader 2000 campaign, these people were not (by and large) born activists with a bunch of causes. And despite finding each other ultimately through the Meetup website, they weren't just a bunch of tech-savvy geeks, either---they were just a bunch of folks who are sick of the government, sick of being "led" by someone who is desperately trying to be just "one of the guys"; they want to have a leader, who will do the right thing, even if unpopular, and occasionally give us bad news---then give us a prognosis and a treatment plan, so that we can work together and solve the problem as best we can.

Please help if you can. We *can* win this.

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." --Hermann Goehring

Posted by blahedo at 9:30pm | Comments (0)