Monday, March 1, 2010

New Plan

I'm going to start writing here again. I might even start putting some non-math-related stuff up. Not extremely disparate things but just more about my life or whatever. Could be interesting.

So while reading Jezebel on the train back to Montreal the other day I came across a fascinating comment on the post about Apple removing scandalous apps from the App Store about how the first law of the internet is big-endian word order. I had no idea about how bits were read or that such things as big-endian and little-endian reading order existed. The commenter in question's use of our numerical system as an example of big-endian word order was so cool and not something that I'd ever questioned. I mean, really, there isn't anything other than convention that makes us put the big units first and the little ones afterward. Bring back the old-fashioned use of "four-and-twenty" and its ilk, I say!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Hi friends.

So I figure I should explain (if only for the sake of my blogging pseudo-integrity) why updates have been so sparse of late. Basically, I am overloaded, which leads to a distinct lack of (firstly) material for writing about and (secondly) time in which to write about what little stuff I have.

I'm taking a full courseload (five classes), which isn't in itself unusual. I've taken five classes per semester consistently since I first came to McGill and been able to keep up with the work, so I didn't expect this year to be any different. Unfortunately, I didn't think about the reality of the classes that I was taking in assuming this. Two of my classes are completely normal intro-level courses in topics that I'm interested in (sociology and cultural studies). The other three are:

- Travaux pratiques 3: An applied literary analysis course for my French lit major. This involves critical and analytical, in-depth reading of literary works and some presentations and stuff. This class wouldn't be a problem if I were taking four normal classes, it's just a bit of a time-suck.

-Lectures 3: A reading class. This is designed to familiarize French literature majors with various parts of the French-language literary canon, in this case Quebec literature. This class only meets once a month or so and involves reading thirty books, with tests after every 10. Since the tests are basically at the end of every month, I should be reading a book every day and a half. Because I just don't have the time for this, I've only managed to read seven or eight out of the two groups of ten books I should have read so far. I made myself a sticker chart to track my progress, which is kind of encouraging.

-Costuming for the Theatre 1: We design and make the costumes for the English Department of Theatre's play. This seems innocuous enough but it has a mandatory nine-hour weekly production component on top of the three hours of class. If I didn't love sewing and costumes like little else in this world, I would be completely miserable. The fact that I love this class so much and can come out of four-and-a-half hour production blocks (which come an hour after the hour-and-a-half long classes) quite happy makes me think that maybe I should pursue costuming as a career (that's sort of math-like... It involves measuring things and making three-dimensional shapes out of flat malleable stuff...), which is something my mom has been telling me for years.

On top of this, I'll be vice-chairing a committee at the high school model UN conference this weekend.

I'm pretty much going insane. And by that I mean, consuming insane amounts of caffeinated beverages, working all the time and and feeling guilty about sleeping. It's terrible. More recently (like in the last week or so) I've developed fairly intense stomach pain that I'm pretty sure is anxiety-related (I had something similar during the first week of my job this summer as well as various other stressful times in my life) but the sleep deprivation and caffeine-produced dehydration probably aren't helping either. The stomach pain isn't debilitating or anything, it's just not very conducive to eating. It's kind of a lose-lose situation because I still get hungry and will have hunger stomachaches, it's just that eating makes me feel nauseous too.

I had something of a meltdown this week. I've pretty much decided to drop one of the classes I was going to take next semester. This just means that I'll have to take a full courseload one semester next year because I was planning to use my transfer credits from AP French to take four classes in each of my last two semesters. This seems like a wiser use of them, though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unoppressive Pizza

Last Wednesday I was invited by a friend (who is a graduate student in electrical engineering, which involves lots of exciting math) to go to a computer science pizza party. Sadly, the pizza was not complimentary and it wasn't much of a party (lots of people standing around in a small room) but I had a pleasant time nonetheless. CS pizza parties used to feature something known as "Sexist Pizza" in which people with a feminine gender presentation ("women") didn't have to pay for their pizza. The point of this was to attract more of them to the parties in question, presumably in order to facilitate interaction between the two genders (I gather that the idea behind this would be to create intra-CS straight couplings).

Anyway, at the party in question I nommed some pizza and listened to some intriguing conversation between some computer scientists of my acquaintance about various functions of Gmail. One of them was so bold as to ask me what I was doing there and persist with a "But I thought you were in religious studies..." in response to my claim that I was in CS. I think that he saw through me though, because the rest of our exchange went something like:
"No, I used to be but I switched out"
"... Isn't lying a sin?"
"How would I know, I'm not in religious studies..."

I also, in order to make the whole experience more CS-like, asked one of my acquaintances (who knows I'm not in math or CS) which was his favourite programming language. He asked if he needed to have a preference and returned the question. I said that Python was but couldn't give a good reason why. Julia then asked how I felt about Perl, which I was better at answering. Apparently Perl involves lots of dollar signs, which people find objectionable. Exciting!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SUMS-ber Party!

9:45 PM: Rebecca and I are in SUMS. The supplies that we have make the evening seem promising. I brought two kinds of cereal (Nesquik and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and milk, Rebecca brought tea, bowls and spoons and the correct ingredients for s'mores. A couple of other people have said that they will stop by later and watch a movie with us. We had to steal the teakettle back from CTF (the Computer Task Force, which people always mistake SUMS for) next door. They were reluctant.

10:09 PM: So we have a frisbee for entertainment purposes and we decided to assemble the s'mores on it. One thing led to another and now it's in the microwave. I'm not entirely sure whether frisbees are microwave-safe but I guess if I have to get cancer this is probably a worthwhile method.

10:21 PM: Rebecca just had to fact-check (with me, the resident rabbit expert) the fact that bunnies don't have pouches.

12:02 AM: The past hour or so has been spent watching Mama Mia, which is reasonably humourous. I'm particularly amused by the background singers/dancers and Colin Firth in the flashback Cure-esque getup. We're now taking a s'mores/cereal break. I'm nomming some Nesquik.

12:20 AM: We've extended the break from Mama Mia and are now going to play dominoes. We also drew some dinosaurs on the chalkboards. They're pretty epic and by epic I mean terrible.

1:05 AM: So we played a game of dominoes (Rebecca won) and then made some domino structures/arrangements to knock down and attempted to watch the rest of the movie but are now tired and going to go to bed. Time for the "SUMS-ber" (slumber, get it?) part of the evening, I guess.

9:00 AM: We've awoken. It took me forever to get to sleep, though. I remember being awake at 2:30. I was too hot, so I took off my sweater and my socks, which turned out to be insufficient so I took off my pants as well. I was wrapped up in a blanket, though, so my modesty and the couch's cleanliness were preserved (not to worry). I also forgot that I have to go visit some seniors today, the first visit being at 10:30. I'm really glad I remembered.

I'll be leaving soon so I think I will close this post by declaring the SUMS-ber party a success. Not sure if I would do it again, but it was fun.

SUMS Sleepover Live-Blog!

Math-like adventures have begun sooner than I expected. This can only be a good thing. Tonight, in a daring feat, Rebecca and I as well as whoever is brave enough to join us will be sleeping in the math lounge. There will be s'mores, cereal, a possible lack of hygiene (although not on my part, I plan on showering before I go) and general ridiculousness and hilarious times. In order to ensure that this is properly documented I plan to live-blog the entire event. It's going to be epic. Check back over the course of the evening/night, invisible and possibly non-existent readers of mine, for updates on the hilarity as it goes down.

So Long Sweet Summer, Hello Math

Hello my Spanish galleons,

Once again, I have allowed my corner of the blogosphere (I promise never to use that word again) to go silent. This is because of a lack of math-related things in my life, which is a rather heartbreaking state of affairs. Luckily, this will very soon change because (oh, joy!) school is about to start. This means that I will once again be in a position to surround myself with math-like humans and immerse myself in their delightful subject. Am I excited? Absolutely. And you should be too. In less than a week, I will be back in full force, giving you a look at math through the woefully small and foggy lens provided to me by my liberal arts-heavy education.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Math Life

It occurs to me that I would have huge respect for someone with a Tupac-esque "MATH LIFE" tattoo on their abdominal area. Just a heads-up.

Since I last posted, I had the honour of playing board games with some of my math humans. We played Agricola, which was fun and pleasantly agricultural. Tomorrow I am going to attend a party where I will likely see more people of the math-y persuasion so I may gather more blog fodder there. This would be good for my ability to post things here.

At the gathering where we played Agricola, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a math grad student who is currently working on his thesis-y bit. It is about automata, which isn't something that I had any familiarity with. It's been a while since I got the explanation so I've unfortunately forgotten most of it. The analogy he used had something to do with the little light in a microwave, I think. I might be making that up though.

Also, Max and his coworkers may have made an unprecedented discovery in math! I live with a symmetry group pioneer!