Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hello world (paca)

When I walked out of my last final today, I originally thought, "I'm going to post a big picture of a butterfly on my blog, because it's like I'm emerging from a cocoon." Then I realized that I'm really more like this guy:

Anyway, I wrapped up a lot of stuff today. It saw some harrowing times -- from an academic perspective -- in that I for the very first time got my analysis-over-time to work in the Matlab programming language for my eye tracking class at, oh, 5:00 AM Thursday morning. But, work it did. I'm sure a real programmer would have wrapped it up in an hour, but I only know how to do the first 5 chapters of my how-to book, so everything is repetitive and long. I remember my CS prof looking at my program last semester and asking, "why didn't you just use the matrix algebra functions, as it would have been a lot faster and easier?" The answer is because I don't know matrix algebra. I also got a full three hours of sleep yesterday as well, so that's win-win, I say. It was enough to not have to take an Incomplete and get my little A as of yesterday afternoon, so go me. And then today was the math test. To do that, since I had only slept for three hours, I went to bed at 10:00 and got up at 5:00 to study, since I wasn't really much awake after 10. Again, there I was Mr. Wise in that I took the course "credit / no credit", and I did well enough to get the Credit.

I know I didn't get an A on the exam. How do I know that? Because at the end I walked up to the prof and said, "I'm all done, but I was wondering, since I've forgotten my calculus completely, what IS the derivative of 4/3(1-x2[squared])? Did I happen to guess right?"

"Hmm..., well, for the continuous function, you're supposed to take the anti-derivative, not the derivative. So you have it right, but you did it the opposite of what you're supposed to do."

"Oh. So that means I did the reverse on Part A too?"

"No, it looks like you did the right direction here -- but got the antiderivative wrong."

Oh well. I actually completed all the problems this time, though, and there's enough right buried in the derivative and anti-derivatives to get me a C.

On the larger front, how about finding the chair, the working paper, the comprehensives? I got my working paper back from the other reader, and the fixes are easy. I just need an afternoon to make them and then I can submit it. I still don't have a chair. The Computer Science prof who wanted to be my Chair was told by her Chair to just be my outside advisor and do an independent study with me. But I got some advice on doing a pilot experiment from a linguistics prof and I have a feeling that if I start doing the pilot with him, he'll be my advisor eventually. I have also selected for myself my three comps areas, which was the only thing I really cared about soon. Now, I can start reading over the summer as I assemble the committee. As always, I have committee members out the wazoo, it's just finding the chair.... And finding the comps areas means that at least I have finally decided on the dissertation topic. Now it's a matter of testing it and developing it into an official proposal over the next 4-5 months. And since you are all bored anyway, I will tell you my comps areas: phonology with a concentration on intonation, language acquisition looking at learning and phonological acquisition, and computational linguistics with a focus on machine learning and speech recognition. If you want to know what that means, yell.

What else? I still have a big work deadline. The journal's next issue publishes on June 1 and I need to copy edit all the short pieces still. All the main articles are done. So that's next. I also spent the afternoon filling out the forms for summer classes. I get one week off and then the next semester starts. Sigh. The good news is that I'm only taking one class - Japanese.

Japanese!! you say, if you have a really good memory. You're supposed to be taking Korean! And I sigh along with you, and say, yes, yes, I was supposed to be taking Korean. But, I talked with the prof and it turns out that Japanese is just a better language for my dissertation topic than Korean is. Japanese (with a couple exceptions) has an entirely Consonant-Vowel syllable structure, unlike English and Korean, which both allow Consonant-Vowel-Consonant. And I want to test people who speak CV structure naturally. And so Japanese seems to be the way to go. I'm only trying to learn the language because I might need to travel in Japan and work with monolingual Japanese speakers on a rudimentary basis. I am disappointed, though. I bought my Korean books over a month ago, already to go. I have been talking about writing with J-W, so I thought it would be good to learn a little Korean. Moreover, Korean has one of the coolest writing systems in the world with its hangul alphabet. Meanwhile, Japanese has perhaps the most complicated writing system in the world, using three different, really four, systems all at once, and, even worse, it means that Chinese characters are BAAACCKKK!! I dropped Chinese largely because I just got tired of practicing characters day after day. The good news is that I glanced through the book, and I know most of the 101 and 102 characters already. I just have to learn the new pronunciation of them. I seem doomed to repeat study of the same three languages over and over - Chinese, French, and Japanese. (I took Japanese after work once about eight years ago for the fun of it. I only remember the word "hajimemashite". And I can count to four, but I learned that from the Puffy Amiyumi cartoon.

In final news, little B also ends his semester today. He graduates from Anuenue class to Polu class. And then in only a year goes off to Kindergarten. Sigh. When I get home I'll try to find a picture of B when he moved here and him now.

And, finally, a big big Thank You to people who did really kind things during my two week nasty time. My mother sent two e-cards and a nice email message of encouragement. My sister called me to make sure I was doing well. And N sent me a nice little text message just last night. This was a very important text message, not only because it's a little emotional pick-me-up, but because I was snoring in my office chair and the beeping phone woke me up so that I could actually study. Oh, and she watched B extra each week while I was pounding away at everything. She's an enabler.

And that's the report! I'm already doing my best to overbook myself for the summer, so I will update people later, maybe some day at 3 AM.


Courtney said...

AAWWWEEESSSOOMMMEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my brother kicks so much MF arse!!! way to go! i am so pround of u!!! well, keep up the good work, if u can at all, try for the week off to stay at the beach all day reading fun books! then head back into it, build sand castles with brannon. u deserve it!!

bunnygirl said...

You make me long for my grad school days... not.

Japanese and Spanish have similar sound patterns. And the Zuni (Native American) language has a lot of freakish similarities to Japanese, so much so that some people think there's a long-lost bio or cultural link.

Random thoughts.

Get some rest.

J said...

Glad everything went well and you have come out of the mole hole.