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So, I went to a funeral today...

Aug. 2nd, 2011 | 09:55 pm
mood: sadsad

And was utterly mortified by the speech. I didn"t quite agree with the rabbi on what"s appropriate for a eulogyCollapse )

That aside, I haven't posted in about a year 'cause I've been teaching (lots and lots of freshies), taking first year classes in preparation for, studying for, and passing my quals(comps really), and doing google summer of code.

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(no subject)

Nov. 2nd, 2010 | 01:25 am

Yeah, I know disappear forever (I'm an ickle firstie phd student in CS at this point in my life, just got my BE in Computer Engineering!), and what do I pop back in for? to rant (again) about semi-forced posting requirements.
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Yeah, I'm totally just trying to put off homework. In other news, I've started checking out the New York tech meetup/lug scene, so if anyone else is an active participant, let me know.

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Mar. 17th, 2010 | 02:40 am

Lj ate my post, so this is the short version. *shrugs* viomisehunt poked me, so the update is: finishing up my undergrad this semester, planning to start a phd in Computer Science in the fall (got into my home school), and doing all right all around.

So Barbie has made me very happy lately. The internet voted and one of Barbie's next jobs is computer engineer. Not only am I psyched 'cause it's my major, but I also got into computers in the first place 'cause I wanted to hack my Barbie fashion/hair video games. Plus, the binary on her laptop is the ASCII encoding for the letters in Barbie (basically, it's one way a computer stores the word Barbie), which is just too awesome. Yeah, I'm just so totally psyched and planning on buying her for my desk when she comes out next year.

Some of you who know girls between the ages of 6 and 14 may be interested in the Barbie I can be mentor contest. They're paring up 10 girls with 10 amazing women for a day of shadowing.

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dropping the thread

Nov. 27th, 2009 | 05:48 am

Disappeared for forever and a day, mostly 'cause I've got some new distractions. On the plus I'm really happy (in a stable earthy way), so I guess there are good trade offs. Basically using this 'cause it'd be way too long to fit into a facebook status update.

mostly rant on Collapse )

Which brings me to a much bigger peeve: the idea that editors are the same thing as proofreaders, or even worse that somehow having work looked over is a bad thing. I've encountered the attitude of "just fix the mechanics, ignore all else"* a couple of times and it's incredibly annoying 'cause there's no stigma against needing someone to check for consistency and coherency. People seem to have less issues with proofreading because there's an assumption that it's really technical (it's the mechanics of the essay) and therefore totally acceptable to mess up, where as incoherency and contradictions are much more content based, which people seem to get touchy about. It's annoying because writers and editors understand that the work grows and changes as it takes shape, and in the process can often land in a very different place from where it started.

The organic nature of writing is part of what makes writing such a rich and fulfilling discipline, but it's also why extra care has to be taken so that the reader can see the jump-and if they can't, things need to be reworked, which is not a sign of weakness, but of accommodating the new direction the story has taken. Even the best writers get 2nd opinions because it's always important to have another pair of eyes (preferably in a brain that thinks differently from the authors) on any piece of writing; All that hardwork and effort means it's hard to be objective on the product, so people tend to either be too hard or too soft, neither of which is really optimal. Too hard may seem great, but I've seen people want to cut stuff in their essays that just needed a little tweak to be awesome. That's the whole point of editors really, to help the author sort out all the chaos so it melds into a story that doesn't leave readers with all the wrong questions.

* this is distinct from using grammar as a catch-all for all the issues in a piece of writing out of ignorance or confusion

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angst or fluff?

Jul. 2nd, 2009 | 05:17 pm
mood: boredbored

*shrugs* guess I'm in the mood for posting a lot lately or something, mostly 'cause facebook is an awful media for this kind of stuff. So I was reading fanficrants today and a poster was ranting about lousy reviews to her angst fic. What I found mystifying was that everyone seemed to agree that angst and fluff are two separate and distinct genres of fic, because I think of them as descriptors of the tones or moods of a fic. So you can have a fluffy or an angsty romance fic, but romance is the genre. In the same vein, it's totally possible to write a fluffy-angsty friendship one shot 'cause the genre is friendship fic. When I see a fic that's called an "angst fic" I take that to mean that the predominating mood of the fic will be angsty, but I assume that the genre is drama unless otherwise noted. Fluff is assumed to be romance because happy romances lend themselves to fluff, but the genre itself could be humor, friendship fic, or even action-adventure. The other thing that amused me is how many people were totally in favor of one or the other, even though the best pieces tend to have both (in addition to lots of other themes) because that gives a fic lots of realistic mood shifts and good balance.

rant on the anti-fluff crowdCollapse )

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religion soup

Jul. 2nd, 2009 | 02:39 am
mood: sillysilly

The last manga I grabbed had a mashup of Christianity and Ancient-Eqyptian polytheism which got me thinking about the various religions I've seen thrown together in one big ball. The western world does this too, but usually the religious families/boundaries are respected: stories inspired by a religion/religious tradition stick to that one, so everything vaguely resembles one canon (stories with demons almost always stick to the Judeo-Christian Occult, Dune is heavily Judeo-Islamic). Many Japanese authors just throw that all out of the window, so it's perfectly standard to have Norse-gods fighting with Shinto spirits. Author intent here fascinates me, 'cause in the west keeping or breaking religious boundaries is so highly symbolic/wrapped up into the stories-Neil Gaimen throws the kitchen sink into American Gods precisly to subvert the idea of religion. In a weird way the manga soup is more respectful of religions because it's so very clear that to the authors of the comics the religous traditions are just more mythology to be scoured for a good story. Most western authors who even attempt the soup usually make "religion is mythology" the thesis of their work and take it from there-they intent to be disrespectful and sometimes lose sight of the work in the process.

Dunno, approaches to religion fascinate me, even more so then the religions themselves, and the whole syncretic tradition is just so interesting 'specially when it leads to people believing in a few conflicting religions simultaneously.

What's the weirdest combination of religions you've ever seen thrown together?

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appreciation for fanwork

Jun. 25th, 2009 | 03:51 pm
mood: crankycranky

So the fandom etiquette topics most likely to elicit massive drama in the scanlation community (and really every other) have gotta be appreciation and attribution. Attribution-crediting people's work-is pretty logical and everyone agrees it's important, and it only gets messy 'cause of the he said/she said involved when someone claims theft. Appreciation though is a weirder beast 'cause in the scanlation community it's led to many groups requiring jumping through hoops for access to materials. These groups are primarily shoujo and yaoi (mostly female) scanlators, leading to all sorts of fun pop-psych theories about female psyche. Fanfiction's equivalent are the classic "x reviews or no more fic", and it's all part of the same inborne need for recognition/validation.

OK, fine-but it's very nonsensical when applied to the anonymous online community where social interactions are far more transient so the pscyho-social triggers for saying thanks just aren't there.Read more...Collapse )

There's nothing I dislike more than the idea that someone who doesn't post a short thank you has to be an unappreciative leecher. Lots of people just don't feel like wasting the bandwidth required for a thanks/think it looks silly (yeah even if everyone else is doing it, it feels odd-maybe this is an age thing?). Lots and lots of the "leechers" are still contributing members of the community, albeit in other ways. I'm big on helping newbies whichever community I'm in (and I donate a few bucks occasionally) which is useful in it's own way. One guy who thinks the whole forced appreciation thing is brain dead runs a respected scan group, and a lot of the other most respected groups don't bother with it-they see everyone raving about their groups anyway. Non-content generating participation is still important, so assuming everyone who's not commenting is an obnoxious leecher is losing sight of the complex web of interactions that make fandom so interesting.

Yeah, this was totally spurred by a very recent discussion.

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gentrification mostly

Jun. 18th, 2009 | 01:12 am
mood: pensivepensive
music: http://www.pandora.com/

So, listening to a rap song railing against gentrification (immortal technique is worth listening to for smart rap) and wondering about it. I dislike gentrification 'cause it robs neighborhoods of their character (Williamsburg has no personality outside of the ethnic neighborhoods) but it's the only reason I've got a good grocery store within walking distance. Gentrification leads to the type of crowd that's gonna pay for organic, vegan, kosher, and other wise varied food; the other options in the neighborhood are bodegas, delis, (a good number of which are probably selling drugs) and a grocery store where none of the food looks fresh. The places trying to appeal to yuppies and hipsters look so much cleaner than almost anything else in this neighborhood, and I can't say that's such a bad thing. (Non-skeevy is so much more appealing than skeevy, and I've seen both going to school here for so long.)

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One of the most interesting things about moving into any non-new residence is learning about the habits of previous residences through figuring out what needs to be repaired. I just got a range hood put in 'cause I kept setting off the fire alarm, whereas the guy who lived here before me probably never cooked (judging by how clean the stove/oven was when I first moved in.) An outlet in one corner of the room should get installed soon-been running an extension cord over cabinets 'til now-and it's kind of bemusing that noone ever thought of it before. The floors aren't level, so the desk and table shake-but the guy who used to live here had neither, instead having couches, chairs and other big solid furniture. The oven's also not level, but that'll get fixed with shims asap. So don't have time for the zillion little home repairs that need to get back.

On a totally different note, I'm incredibly happy/lucky that the computer engineering adviser actually likes his job and therefore goes the extra step and calls/emails people to get answers and documents. Most of the administration will say no to anything that requires 'em to do anything.

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fanfic-ish literature

Jan. 23rd, 2009 | 01:29 pm
mood: chipperchipper

TIME magazine has an article on new trends in publishing, Books Unbound and one of the points raised in the article was that:

"And what will that fiction look like? Like fan fiction, it will be ravenously referential and intertextual in ways that will strain copyright law to the breaking point. Novels will get longer--electronic books aren't bound by physical constraints--and they'll be patchable and updatable, like software. We'll see more novels doled out episodically, on the model of TV series or, for that matter, the serial novels of the 19th century. We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don't linger on the language; you just click through. We'll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput. Novels will compete to hook you in the first paragraph and then hang on for dear life."

I can't help wondering if that's really a good thing. The major pro is that by democratizing what's published, more people are interested in it and therefore more people read it. The downside is that fanfic style drops most literary elements and structure, and tends to focus almost solely on either characters (though often sacrificing characterization) or plot in the name of pacing. Things happens too fast to move to the next "awesome scene", dropping so much development in the unwritten pages. I see this a lot in manga, and I figure it's because in the time between chapters the reader has absorbed the previous chapter enough and is so desperate for more that he'll/she'll just fill in the blanks for the author. I find that a manga that seems to be going really slowly in magazine releases is a lot less jumpy when read in volume form. I know development is always hard for authors because it all adds up in the author's head, so he/she doesn't get that there's a leap for the reader to see, but serial style seems to compound that.

My other major issue is that fanfic is plagued with "telling, not showing" because it's so much easier for amateur writers and harder to pic up for amateur betas. Yeah, published books have the same problem ('especially the populist genres of romance and sci-fi) but not quite to the same extent because there's some polish and emphasis on good style. Fanfic eats up purple prose in a way publishing elite don't, and it frustrates me 'cause I like a tight clean style that requires a discipline and understanding of diction that many fanfic authors just don't have. Dunno, I just wonder if the acceptance of fanfic as a literary genre also leads to the acceptance of fanfic style novels as good writing, as I've seen a lot of them pop up in the teen section of my library.

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cell phones

Oct. 6th, 2008 | 05:53 pm
mood: busybusy

Sometimes I like the firefox/bbc newsfeed, and sometimes it leads to much head banging as I see stories like this: Is that cellphone kosher?

So, stuff like no internet and no camera isn't remotely surprising, and as for the rest, uch but expected. The kosher symbol bothers me 'cause that's not what it's supposed to be for, but oh well it happens and I kind of get why. The area codes being important for matchmakers is a scarily accurate example of how insane the marriage game has gotten in the more orthodox circles. If anyone wants a reason for the low marriage rates, just look at the laundry list of requirements and impossible filters. Forget soul mate, I wonder how anyone fines more than three people to date. Seriously, though it's not good when the haredi community manages to make itself look bad to other Orthodox Jews.

The only thing that really boggles is the lack of text messages. When I was in Israel, texts were the primary way all of us (on a plan from one of the big orthodox rent-a-phone companies) kept in touch 'cause they're cheap and perfect for relaying locations and the like. And now, with so many places rolling out emergency announcement by texts, it seems even stupider to block 'em. The secular span complaint is a bit off, as it's not that hard to put the phone numbers on a "do not text" list and not let advertisers have those numbers. As for teens chatting? I fail to see how that's any different from regular calls or Israeli bar hopping or the myriad other things kids who want to break the rules will do anyway. The no text thing bothers me 'cause everyone in my local orthodox community texts and I haven't heard anyone getting huffy over it. Plus, I get my candle lighting times as texts and really, can't see the bad in that. (Granted I had to go online to sign up, but Chabad's one of the more interesting brands of chassidish Judaism.)

Man, October is killing me with the tons of Jewish holidays. One professor wanted a note from the chair of the department that Sukkos is a real holiday and that I really can't take my quiz that day. I've got two more exams on Sukkos that I've also gotta reschedule. Don't know when I'll study for 'em. Oh well.
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badly written exams

Sep. 24th, 2008 | 05:11 pm
mood: tiredtired

Engineering exams should not be insanely difficult for incredibly stupid reasons: if an engineering exam is about %95 memorization, something's horribly wrong. So yeah, that's my electromagnetics exam in a nutshell. It gets bonus points 'cause the professor is a cheating nut, yet doesn't seem to get that nothing encourages cheating quite so much as an exam that's all memorization (and oh boy was there cheating). It's doubly fun that this is EM, so there are millions of ways to write exams without any memorization. And the memorization itself is beyond stupid: it's mostly table/constant stuff, which is stuff that should be referenced anyway when actually used. Ack, I hate this class and professor, but I don't have an option 'cause I'm so far ahead in my coursework.

So yeah, that's part of my course load for this semester. The other major course is Operating Systems, which has been review for way too long 'cause it totally overlaps with other courses and the professor I have is teaching it really basically. Also taking Humanities (music/art), so my class is mostly freshman and I'm running all over the city going to museums. (Finally went to Museum of the Native American: New York, which had an awesome exhibit on modern/contemporary/etc. art) Rounding out is my senior design project, for which I'm still working on my robot for IGVC. I've been so buried under politics and bureaucracy that it's still in a everything needs to get accomplished phase.
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grr tokyopop

Jul. 30th, 2008 | 11:23 am
mood: drainedbrokenh

So I actually buy some of my manga 'cause I try to be a semi-responsible fan and not just a leecher. I've thrown a decent amount of money into one series (Nosatsu junkie), only to hear that TokyoPop dropped it. more tokyopop rantingCollapse )

Oh well, school is turning my brain to mush. I'm so burned out that I've totally stopped caring what my grades are. I stare at papers/work for hours and just can't get anything out on paper and my head alternates between feeling like it'll explode and feeling like it's full of cotton. So exhausted in every which way, which is why I'm so cranky about the tokyopop announcement. I need my fluff fix.

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Jun. 1st, 2008 | 03:46 am
mood: busybusy

I'm currently in Auburn Hills, Michigan to participate in the IGVC competition at Oakland University. There's nothing here-a friend and I arrived yesterday and walked to the competition, which was supposed to be 2 miles but was really closer to 3/4. We tried to get a cab back to the hotel and nobody would drive in 24 miles to drive us 3. I now have much respect/love for my friend 'cause he carried my heavy groceries (had to buy food 'cause I can't eat anywhere 'cause of kosher and couldn't buy anything today 'cause of shabbos) all 3 miles back to the hotel. The rest of the team drove in, so they arrived late this afternoon (really 2 team members, 1 guy who's helped us with everything, 1 girlfriend) and we've been working more or less since (me strangely 'cause of shabbos-really limited on what I could do 'cause of shabbos).

Our bot BenderCollapse )
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kubuntu needs a sane grub

May. 11th, 2008 | 12:05 am
mood: frustratedfrustrated

I'm not a hardcore techie, but giving Kubuntu (a version of linux) a chance 'cause we use it in my lab/ubuntu for IGVC/why not? Wouldn't mind it being the default my comp starts with except 1)my comp's the one hooked up to the printer and I can't get my linksys print server working-will do something one day, b)can't get the linux install playing nicely with my network, and c)linux scares the rest of my family d)it's inconvient to call me up for the password just 'cause they need to print, but standing around for the boot screen to pop up so they can highlight XP in the 10 second (gah-far too short) window is also a nightmare.

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So why rant about this? Mostly 'cause if anyone wants linux to go mainstream, they've gotta make it easier to do stuff like this, for all the newbies testing the system but not ready to switch. To even get into the grub to edit, I've gotta use the commandline, sudo to overwrite permissions (MS's admin/all else seems far easier), then remember the command for the editor. Nobody wants to learn a programming language (which is what command line feels like) just to change a few things on their comp. I think I've been spending far too much time at slashdot where microsoft is evil, linux is king and that's supposed to be the answer to everything.

Major edit: looks like there was a plan to put it into Feisty. Any one know if they did? I'm not commited to the install on my desktop, no qualms about switching.
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liking pop. =/= missing brain cells

May. 4th, 2008 | 02:51 pm
mood: chipperchipper

Instead of going off on a tangent at the places that sparked this rant, I'll do it here. Yet another "liking Naruto makes you an idiot" post, coupled with a whole bunch of "only idiots like HP" comments on slashdot.

So, liking HP/Naruto/Bleach/Avatar (those seem to be the usual suspects) does not make a person a moron; on the contrary it shows they have the good taste to appreciate solid storytelling over gimmicks.Read more...Collapse )

A couple of months back I went to see "The Homecoming" by Harold Pinter (Nobel prize winning playwrite). Reviews are mixed, but generally it's regarded as brilliant. It's also completely incoherent unless you shred->rebuild->repeat 20 times 'cause of it's wildly shifting tone, climax hinging on conversations, inconsistent characterizations, and shift in focus. Uh, yeah, it's high art and brilliant and "sheds light on some universal truth"-but how useful is that if half the people seeing it walk out hating it 'cause they just couldn't get it and didn't feel like wasting hours trying to? Accessible media is a good thing-I'll admit LoTR is brilliant, but it's so dense that I'm not gonna torture myself getting through it when the same themes are covered in a form that's easier to swallow. Does that mean anything popular is good? 'course not (spoilers for The Sweet Far ThingCollapse )) but often things are popular 'cause enough people thought it was good enough to rec' to someone else, and the entire population really isn't uneducated noobs.

So, if anyone want's some *headdesking* but a none fandom perspective (which is interesting in it's own way) on Rowling/Lexicon, here's the slashdot link: Orson Scott Card Blasts J.K. Rowling's Lawsuit. It's wanky and relatively uninformed-so lots of fun.

PS-see what I miss by not being in fandom much? Kristallnacht RPG wank. I'm just cracking up (it's either that or cry and rage at peoples insensitivity and stupidity.) I know I should be horribly outraged or whatever, but come on-fandom has done stuff this tasteless before (I can think of at least one badfic set in the holocaust), though I'm shaking my head that nobody involved in it's creation seemed to have cared that it's a bad idea.
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Mar. 6th, 2008 | 11:58 pm
mood: sleepysleepy

I'm such a ditz that I was haplessly trying to figure out who defriended me, forgetting that it's always a two value difference. My room alternates between clean and disaster-I only clean every two weeks (when the cleaning lady shows up)-so I don't really know what's in there anymore. Also so spaced out-I made sure to get all this paperwork due tomorrow done today, and then of course I forget to hand it in. So now I'm stuck commuting two and a half hours to spend 15 minutes on campus dropping off the papers.

But school's okayRead more...Collapse )

*Major rant there-the entire point of CAPSTONE/senior design is to give engineering students experience working on team projects. Yes, it's awesome if they come out with great projects, but individual/mostly-individual projects still kind of defeat the purpose. The dean of comp sci seemed to disagree with me on the importance of team projects, which well kind of drives me up a wall 'cause last I checked ABET (the engineering accreditation organization that has complained about our school before) likes/mandates team projects.

Overlap is kind of funny-I'm running into probability/statistics in all my courses(algorithms, communications engineering, philosophy, and experimental psych) and various ethics principles flow into each other in my psych, philosophy and ethics classes. Actually debated something with my ethics prof. 'cause his "invasion of privacy" (and it was merging already collected to run a new analysis on it-the privacy violation is questionable) was something you'd probably get past an IRB (Institutional Review Board-people who regulate all studies with humans) without much trouble.
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Dec. 19th, 2007 | 07:12 pm
mood: exhaustedexhausted

I'm exhausted and overworked and avoiding work 'cause I can't even see straight anymore and my head feels like it's alternately crashing in on itself and exploding and I'm so exhausted and now I need an extension and I'm so tired I just don't know what to do. I thought that I was allowed to hand something in Friday (even though the official day was today) so I didn't come to school, and of course I got a frantic phone call from a student in my class asking me where I was 'cause the teacher kept asking where I was. So now I mostly want to hang myself. I'm already asking a different prof for an extension on my final paper (10 pages-and I had to return my key source to the library) and I've got another paper and a re-write for that class, and *argh*

lil bit calmer from a moment ago 'cause after my mom yelled at me for being irresponsible (mostly for reading too much manga-my current procrastination/avoidance technique) she cheered me up. I just need sleep and tea and working software.
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Dec. 2nd, 2007 | 07:59 pm

Totally didn't even realize that I haven't updated for three weeks. When not dealing with school, life or other sundry stresses, I've been avoiding 'em. Been a roller coaster and a half and I'm just exhausted. Finals are in two weeks, so all the end of term stuff is piling on now. (research work + school work+the term paper that I'm avoiding. Need lots of sleep. Losing my voice again, and coughing/sneezing/the usual-had to miss my first youth group event in ages 'cause of it.) Nothing new, just out of it. Though got a shiny new tv, on which lots of things look very pretty.

Went away for the weekend and got a fabulous soundbyte: "the Women's rights movement is one of the worst thing to ever happen to women." I normally respect this girl, so I can sort of see where she's coming from, but it just made me shake my head, so I pointed out that she probably wouldn't be able to go out and work and be the economic provider for the household (pretty much a standard for girls in communities in which the boys learn after marraige) without the movement she so despises. I also should have mentioned to her that all the stuff she complains about (mostly sexual liberation and the like) were happening long before women's rights came into play. It's like the "all modern technology is bad" blanket statements-you can kind of see their point, but the people forget that that "bad thing" has had positive effects on their lives too (like indoor plumbing and the refrigerator) and it's really not something that you can reject out of hand. Though really, I'm having a very hard time seeing any bad in the women's rights movement.

Your fave generalization?

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Nov. 5th, 2007 | 08:42 pm
mood: chipperchipper
music: The Wall

*got a gentle nudge, so updating*

Just been really, really busy with school lately, and when not busy with school, avoiding it all by burying myself in manga. Haven't kept up with any tv shows lately, watching heroes tonight and so very lost. Paper and exam next week, have to make up homework for most of my classes, months behind for one class, too much work, not enough time, the usual. Usually tired, but okay.

One of my research projects (my comp sci lab) finally has a website (actually existed for at least a month, but keep forgetting to post) if anyone's interested, though there really isn't much there. (Segmentation)more random info on my lab that most of you really don"t care aboutCollapse )

I'm much too chatty lately 'cause I don't really get to do long convo's cause if I'm not in class/lab/work, I'm going home with friends who are too out of it to talk, or I'm too exhausted to, and by the time I get enough energy to talk, nobody's around. Though now I'm sleepy, so I'll stop with the rambling.
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I still exist

Oct. 18th, 2007 | 11:21 pm
mood: draineddrained

Kind of, sort of, maybe. Thanks for the b'day wishes. Shiny ole 20. Was a good day, even got gifts from friends-which basically hasn't really happened before. Went to dinner and Avenue Q with the family. Tired, very tired, but sort of happy.

School, work, club, two research project type things-getting paid for one, draining me. Two of the senior guys in my lab (the one I'm getting paid for) left, another is writing his dissertation, so my prof says I'm now the senior student, which is both scary and kind of shiny. Plus yet another relationship that I alternately want to over complicate and try to destroy, and some others that are healthy but draining. I've just been much too tired to really think, much less participate online. And I may soon start breaking things 'cause my bro's new girlfriend is always over and it's making me just a lil bit tetchy.

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