Archive for September, 2008

Chester’s health

Over the past 2 days, I noticed Chester was drinking nearly nothing, and he wasn’t eating much at all. He also seemed to be less active. It can be hard to tell, since he has massive amounts of hay to eat, so I can’t really tell how much he’s had, and maybe I just see him when he’s sleepy, but it seemed pretty clear. I concluded that he almost surely had tooth problems–that’s what his cagemate died of.

I took him to the vet today, and she said his teeth were fine. She did find a giant cyst under his neck, though–she used a syringe to take the fluid, and she’ll do some lab-work to see if that identifies what’s up. In the mean time, I’m to give him subcutaneous fluids (from an IV bag–I’m like a guinea pig nurse!), antibiotics, and hand-feed him.

But after getting home, he’s been doing pretty well. He’s eating and seems happy, so I’m hopeful. Maybe the cyst made swallowing painful, so he didn’t eat much, and now that it’s drained he won’t have any problems. There remains a question as to what caused the cyst, but hopefully the lab work will identify that. And if he continues eating this well, I may not bother hand-feeding him–he does it much more efficiently than I ever could.

In any case, it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. First, I was convinced the prognosis was bad, since he seemed to be following Milo’s course, and Milo didn’t make it. Then, the vet found it wasn’t an obvious problem, and after she drained his cyst he started bleeding a fair bit. But now he seems to be okay–we’ll see how it turns out.

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Too little too late

Last week I had a good idea for my research. I worked it out, without formal proofs (just enough to convince me it probably worked), and talked about it with Srini. It was definitely interesting, so I did a literature search to find out what else people were doing in the area–the answer was, a lot. In fact, the exact idea I had was published in 2002, frankly with a better treatment than I’d likely have given it.

It’s a real disappointment, because one really good idea would be enormous step toward graduation. There are two silver linings, though: one is that I came up with a good idea that was worth publication (well, half a decade ago, anyway). The other is that I can probably extend this to a related formalism that I’m working with, so I may be able to publish something anyway.

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LOL cookie monster

I feel for cookie monster today–I missed lunch and only had fruit and vegetables.

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21

21 jars of jam is what you get from 10.5 pounds of plums. That’s 10.5 pints, or 1 5/16 gallons. It’s a lot of jam, so I’ll have to start redistributing my surplus wealth.

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And now, a message from Peter Pan

I can fly!

If you read my journal, you’re probably aware that I have been learning to hang glide for the past year. It has taken a lot of my time. This weekend, I went to fly at Hull Mountain, as I have several times before. But this time, I launched later than ever before (around 2pm), and when I hit lift, I turned in it and succeeded at climbing. I gained at least 1000 feet, and I managed to soar around for an hour.

What I can say about thermalling is this: I turned a lot faster than I was used to. The world spun around me, and I went up. It was fairly tricky to stay in the thermal, but whenever I’d lose it, I’d turn harder to get back to it and then try to gently turn around inside of it. It’s a somewhat tricky thing, but it’s rewarding, and I can see how pilots get addicted to finding lift and riding it up.

Oh–and I think Peter Pan had it backward. Happy thoughts are the *result* of flying, not its cause.

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Flying with the big boys

This summer, I’ve been going on hang gliding club trips, and I’ve gotten to fly at two mountains: Hull (landing to the north of Lake Pillsbury) and Slide (landing just east of where 429 and 395 meet). However, as a beginner, the club has kept me flying only in the mornings, when there’s less turbulence (and also less lift), so I only get “sled rides,” strictly downhill flights.

Well, this weekend I graduated somewhat. I launched at Hull in the afternoon! I hit some big lift, but I didn’t do well with it, so my flight was only about 5 minutes longer than normal. Still, it was exciting, and it means that on future weekends I’ll have lots more chances to soar. (It also means I’ll get more flights: when I launch in the morning, I often miss Saturday morning because we’re still on the road.) I’m flying with the big boys now.

Here’s the video of my launch on Sunday afternoon:
cut for YouTube video

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Political Magic

On the group, posted a link to this set of political Magic cards someone wrote. It’s awesome, particularly if you’ve played Magic. I am amazed.

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This post is pants

Recently, I saw this news story about someone whose bank changed his password. He was using the insulting password, “Lloyds is pants,” and they changed it to “no its not.”

I’ve never before heard of insulting something by calling it pants, but for some reason it stuck in my head. If I were still 4 years old, right now I’d be going around calling everything pants. Fortunately I’ve developed enough self control not to do that now, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to. A warning to people I see today: you may be more aware of pants tonight than you were this morning.

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