akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
My Grandfather died last week, at the age of 89. We're just back from Arizona, where we attended the memorial service.

He'd been very sick for a few weeks now -- his body couldn't really recover from an emergency surgery they had to do last month.

He lived a good and full life, and it was wonderful to see at the service how many people loved him.

My whole life he's lived on the other side of the country, so it's not like this is going to change my day-to-day life, but he's always been ... around. It's going to take some time for me to really process this, I think.

The obituary (written by my aunt) is here...I don't mind breaking the semi-anonymity of this journal for that. I think it's very well done, and shows what a full life he had.

Goodbye, Grandpa. I love you.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (bunny)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen had a colonoscopy in the attempt to diagnose, and ideally remedy, her nightshade intolerance.

Additionally, on the way home, we stopped at the drycleaners, where the beanbag chair which we had brought in to be cleaned (a month ago) had finally turned up.

Despite my deliberately provocative phrasing, these two incidents were not, in fact, related.

Today

May. 5th, 2008 10:47 pm
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (alephbet)
[livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen had a colonoscopy. And they found her beanbag chair.

(She's only letting me post this because she's still fairly loopy from the drugs.)
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen was delighted by this entry on khraigslist.

So I thought it deserved an LJ icon.

Here it is!



(I'm also probably one of the few people who's old-school and geeky enough to make LJ icons using netpbm and make.)
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
What's yellow and black and lies on its back?

Not this, but it is Pesachdich.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] cadhla has been successfully retrieved from the airport, and is conked out in our second bedroom.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
I bought a car. What a strange experience. You give them a whole lot of money, and sign some very scary-looking paperwork, then they let you drive off with a vehicle.

I got a new Honda Civic (LX). It seems like a good car, with good safety features. Hopefully I'll enjoy it.

I also tried to look at the Mazda 3, but both the local Mazda dealerships I tried were very unhelpful and gave me a bad feeling, so I gave up on them.

Thanks to everyone who gave advice on my previous post about this. I really appreciate it.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
I haven't posted here in a long time, but I've had a significant life status change lately. To wit, as of this past November 1st, I'm no longer at the university where I'd been since 1990 as undergrad, grad student, and post-doc.

Instead, I'm now working at a small start-up in New Jersey. It's fun, exciting work, and so far I'm having a good time.

However (the point of this post), the start-up is not in a place which is conveniently reachable by public transportation. I've rented a car from Avis, but the cost of this is adding up quickly. So I need to buy a car.

Buying cars is hard.

My company has (through the company we contract our HR through) a program with Toyota which gives us a no-negotiation-required discount -- $200 over dealer's invoice on new cars, and similar margins over the dealership's purchase price on used cars. So I've been looking at Toyotas.

At first I looked at a used Corolla, but the price they quoted me on it was $16,000 -- apparently they paid too much for it -- and that's essentially the same price as a new Corolla, so today [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and I went to test-drive a new Corolla.

And we didn't like it. The ergonomics of the interior are awkward -- there's an oddly-placed handle where I keep bumping my head -- and the suspension is way too stiff, so we feel every little bounce and jolt of the potholed Jersey City streets we were testdriving over.

Larger Toyotas (the Camry, and the like) are bigger than I'd really feel comfortable driving, and also seem too big for the fairly teeny parking space I've rented.

So unfortunately I'm now back at square one, and [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen suggested I post to my Livejournal.

So, what do people like in compact cars, for about the $16000 range, in either new or trustworthy used? Any recommendations?
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (alephbet)
[livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen made me an icon!

It's titled "The Hebrew Alphabet According to Wil."
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
This past weekend, [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and I went to Northampton to visit my mother.

On Saturday, since it was a gorgeous day, Mom and her boyfriend G. suggested we go canoeing. This seemed like an entertaining prospect, so we agreed.

Adventures on, and in, the Connecticut River )

A day out

Apr. 9th, 2005 09:21 pm
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen is in Boston this weekend, so I'm home by myself. Usually when I'm home alone I end up sitting around all weekend not doing anything, but that seemed like a bad idea, so I decided to get out today for a change.

Here's what I did... )
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
This meme's going around, and in the process of discussing it with [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen I somehow started coming up with answers...

Name a CD you own that no-one else on your friends list does.
Echoes and Shadows: Romantic Choral Music of Twentieth Century American Composers.
This was one of the last CDs from Pro Gloria Musicae, the record company of my dear friend Gabe Wiener who died completely unexpectedly in 1997.

It was to be the first of a new series, the Ars Nova imprint, featuring more modern (twentieth century) music instead of the Renaissance and Baroque-era works he'd always done before.

Name a book you own that no-one else on your friends list does.
The Universal History of Numbers, by Georges Ifrah. I'm probably the only person on my friends list geeky enough in the right way to find this fascinating.

Name a movie you own on DVD/VHS/whatever that no-one else on your friends list does.
Do I own any movies? (Goes to check.) Not very many. The one DVD I have is Troma Films's The Toxic Avenger. Note that I did not actually buy this -- I won it (dubious prize) in a raffle run by the Columbia Science Fiction Society. Hopefully no one else out there has felt the need to acquire it...

Name a place that you have visited that no-one else on your friends list has.
Consensus on the meme seems to be that answers like "my grandmother's house" or "the high school I went to" are cheating.

So I'm going to pick something which might not be true, but if it is, will almost certainly continue to be for the forseeable future: the U.S.S.R.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
(Or twenty-eight years, if you count Montessori school.)

I deposited my thesis with the dissertation office a little over an hour ago. I got in return a letter saying

January 29, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter certifies that Mr. (A.K.A. Wil) completed all requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at (This University).

The Ph.D. will be conferred on February 11, 2004.


So that's it, then. They send one of my two-copies-on-acid-free-paper-20-lb-weight- 25-percent-rag-content-pure-white photocopies of the final printout to those people in Michigan to be microfilmed, and stick the other one in the library stacks (where no one will ever look at either one). I'm done.

No more student discounts for me.

I also put a copy of it up on my web page, where it'll get into Google and CiteSeer, i.e. potentially this is the copy people will actually read. Those of you who know my web page (or my real name and how to use Google) can take a look...

Wow.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
That's A.K.A. Doctor Wil.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
They attack, and thus, I defend.

Two points:
1. Whoever heard of people in Computer Science doing anything at 10 a.m.?
2. Aiiiiiiieeeeeee.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
So yesterday, I was meeting with my adviser. I told him all the fiddly little things that still needed to be done on my thesis -- write an acknowledgments section, for instance, or figure out why the formatting was wrong in the table of contents.

"Don't worry about that," he said. "Send it to the committee."

What?

So I printed it out, made five photocopies of the thing, and mailed them / stuck them in mailboxes of the committee.

Which I guess means that the thesis is done. There'll still be tweaks to do, and some continuing work I'm doing might make it in before the deposit version, but ... wow.

I seem to have written a dissertation. How'd that happen?
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
A week ago, my mother called me. She was very happy; she'd just gotten two new kittens, which she named Walter and Benjamin, to keep company of her beloved eighteen-year-old cat Paul.

Just as [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen and I got home tonight, she called in tears. As she was going to bed, she heard some noisy ruckus -- very different from the kittens' playful wrestling. She got out of bed to investigate, and discovered Benjamin bleeding heavily, apparently from a bite on the neck. She tried to bandage it, and called the vet emergency line, but there was apparently nothing she could do; the kitten had died.

She doesn't know exactly what killed him. There was some strange black fur around, like none of her cats. She has a cat door, which things have come in before, but this was upstairs, far from where the food is; I don't know why any intruder animals would be up there.

The other kitten Walter is, according to mom, still very confused, trying to nuzzle the other kitten's body, or clean up the blood. Mom has put Benjamin's body in a cardboard box; she doesn't seem to know yet what she's going to do with it. I hope she buries him in the yard with our other cat, Rosa, who died three years ago...I imagine she will.

The kittens loved to wrestle with each other, and to sleep in front of the computer monitor, pushing the keyboard off the desk. I was very much looking forward to meeting them...

I really hope Mom's going to be okay.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
My dear sweetie [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen has now graciously kicked my ass, and made me think about what I want.

I do want to finish the Ph.D. Basically - because I feel that by this point I've earned it. It's been slow, but I have done a good amount of good work. I haven't solved all the world's problems, but that's not what I need to do.

My main problem is finishing things. I've got 80-90% of the work done on a number of good things. If I push myself, I can finish them.

As a first step, LMG is telling me to write out a plan of what I want to do tomorrow. I'm putting it out here, so I can be subject to public ridicule if I don't accomplish it. (This helps.)

So, tomorrow: see Prof. N. and Prof. K. about what they think about my situation. (These are two other professors in the department, on my thesis committee, from whom I can get second, or nth, opinions about my status. I've heard opinions that my advisor is asking me to do too much.)

Assemble the various papers, and other written material, that I think would make up a thesis. This is just a rough cut at this point, but the idea is to see just how much substance there is there.

And, things not to do: reading anything non-work-related while at work. This includes but is not limited to the GCC mailing lists, FreeBSD mailing lists, fanfic, web boards for discussion of fanfic, Usenet, LiveJournal, or Slashdot. Or the novel I have with me.

Let's see if this works.
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Default)
So my advisor just told me that my Black Friday letter will tell me that I'm being asked to take a leave of absence.

Background. I started in the Ph.D. program in Computer Science in September 1994. In January 1997 I switched to my current advisor. Since then I've gotten some papers written, but (apparently) not enough of them, and created quite a lot of software, but of actual thesis writing I've done none, though the papers should be recyclable into a dissertation.

Every semester, the faculty of the department meet to discuss all the grad students. This is known as "Black Friday", even though it's always held on a Thursday. At the end of last semester, my letter told me that I'd be expected to have a thesis written by the end of this semester; I don't.

What my thesis advisor told me, which I agree with, is that it's pretty clear that the "It didn't work last time, so let's try it again" strategy (so beloved by World War I generals) is no longer an option. Sitting in my office, alone, with little communication from the outside world is a good way to get me to read LiveJournal, Usenet, fanfic, and many other exciting things on the web, and a very bad way to get me to write papers and a thesis.

My advisor told me that if I can convince my committee, by the beginning of next semester (January 21, roughly) that I have a clear plan of Doing Something Different which they believe will lead me to actually finishing a thesis in a reasonable timeframe, they'll convince the chair to let me stay.

Alternately, I could take the leave of absence, and get a Real Job (for Real Money). The economy's pretty bad right now, but I'm pretty sure I could find something -- I seem to actually have connections, surprising as it seems. (Though it looks like my expected default choice, Bell Labs, wouldn't be able to hire me right now -- Lucent's in a terrible financial pinch.) In the future, I can try to convince the department to let me come back.

Or not, if I don't feel like it.

I don't know what I want to do, where I want to go, how I want to proceed. On the one hand it seems so terribly stupid to stop now, when I've put this much time into the whole Ph.D. thing. On the other hand, there's the question of throwing good money (or time) after bad, a.k.a. not basing future decisions on sunk costs. On the gripping hand, I don't actually like writing papers all that much; I'd much prefer to write software. (This LJ post is probably the most prose I've written all at one sitting in quite some time.)

Sigh. Sigh sigh sigh.

Bah.

Anyone have any thoughts about what I should do?
akawil: Powerpuff Wil (Powerpuff Wil)
Once again, I prove I am the master of work-avoidance!

LMG showed me the make-your-own PowerPuff pic generator. So of course I had to make one. And adjust it to be the appropriate size for a LJ userpic. And then tweak it in GIMP to make it "accurate," since they didn't have proper beards or quite the right color of hair.

This is much the same spirit of work avoidance which has led me to re-read the entirety of Undocumented Features in the past two weeks or so. UF is a fabulous story, now, don't get me wrong. It proves that it really is possible to do self-insertion anime fanfic spectacularly well, and it does mind-boggling megacrossovers. (How many stories do you know that feature Utena Tenjou, Slappy Squirrel, Babylon Five, and the Transformers -- and make it work?). But is this really what I needed to be doing just now?

I've gotten LMG reading it now, too. Though she won't admit it. It's a virus, I think.

All this while I've got a paper submission due for a conference tomorrow. It was supposed to be due today, but the conference's submission site was apparently having problems, so they extended the submission deadline by a day. Personally, I suspect someone mounted a denial-of-service attack against their server so they could get an extension.... I'm not complaining.

All this writing has gotten me through a writer's block, I guess, so LMG's nagging to get me to write a LJ entry finally got through. Writing's not that hard, once you get into the flow of it. Weird.

Oh well, that's enough for now.

Mood: Either accomplished or stressed. I can't decide.
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