Archive for April, 2006

Published again!

I got another paper accepted! This one is to the ACL conference, which is a good language conference. That makes a grand total of 3 papers I’ve had published. I’m not moving terribly fast, but I am moving forward toward my degree.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got some work to do this weekend. I just hope I get it all done.


In which Leon meets the stars of Beauty and the Geek

Leon with Beauty and the Geek contestants

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Mini Devil Beasts

I was looking at and I stumbled upon this: live cockroaches as jewelry. The article has a picture of a bejeweled roach sitting on someone’s hand. I’d post it here, but I don’t want to deal with copyright issues.

Now, as anyone who has lived in a large apartment complex knows, cockroaches and humans are natural enemies. Wherever they exist, cockroaches must be stamped out (literally) and destroyed. There is little that is more disgusting than finding a cockroach running through your kitchen, unless it’s finding one on its back in your kitchen, where it landed when it fell from your ceiling vent. Cockroaches are hallmarks of unsanitary conditions and bearers of disease.

However, this article says that some people in New York are gluing jewels onto African Hissing cockroaches and letting them run around on their shoulders as jewelry. Now, while this sort of behavior might be charming with crickets or even the famed Giant Horrible Death Bug, cockroaches are terrible creatures that inspire an instant hate. I’ll grant that the giant hissing cockroaches don’t seem to have the same disgusting scuttling appearance, but they’re still not attractive.

Anyway, if I find someone wearing a cockroach as jewelry, I’ll swat the damn thing if I can.


Contact from Kate!

Most of you who read my journal also read squeakywheel‘s. I just got an email from her from Europe! She had a bit of free computer time at a hostel, so she had a chance to write. Apparently Budapest’s weather was good, though Austria was rainy. She’s going to have pictures to post when she gets back! (though I suppose you could have guessed that)

I must say, I think the keyboard wasn’t a standard US layout. She’s a fast touch-typist, and this is a representitive quote from her email: “show zou pictures and tell zou all about it.” I suppose the z is where we’d put the y?


Excellent news!

Excellent news! It comes in several parts:

  1. My mother’s cancer is doing well! She had a urine test this morning, and the doctor was so excited about the results that he called her with preliminary results this evening. The level of M-protein in her urine has gone down to 10% of its previous value, after only two weeks! It’s an encouraging result, and she called me because she was so excited.
  2. A paper of mine got accepted! Two reviewers liked it, and one trashed it. Compare these quotes from two reviewers:

    Reviewer 1: “The paper is very well written, with examples, clear, a
    pleasure to read.”

    Reviewer 3: “The paper is not written well; almost all notation are not
    explained, and the task is left to the readers who might be able to
    infer them from the other work in this area.”

    It makes you wonder if they were even reading the same paper. They all had suggestions on making the paper better, and we’ll do what we can, but I’m moving forward in my academic career.

  3. I went to a talk today by Charles Anderson (from my very own Washington University in St. Louis) that was about neural computation. He had very interesting results on how populations of neurons encode information and compute nonlinear functions of that information, which made me a little because that meant that I wouldn’t get those good results. But then he ended with an open problem: How can learning occur with this population coding? An open problem excites me because it’s a clear, limited problem that I can address in isolation, but which will give me a foot in the door into the field. I’ll mail Jerry about it tonight or tomorrow.


Who hates Jews?

Today, coming home from mailing out our Netflix movies, I overheard some workers (apparently electricians) who were working on our apartment building. One of them was saying something about someone being Jewish and hence trying to avoid paying or something like that. I was surprised (I didn’t think people really felt that way), and I was offended.

I thought through the things I might say, and nothing seemed good, so I just ignored them. But now I wish I’d said something; as it is, they’ll continue thinking that people agree with them, and that seems terrible.

I basically failed in my role as a rational being, and I let prejudice go unopposed. I suck.

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I’m a Wizard

I just found a link to the “Wizard” cybersex joke, in which two people are having “cybersex” with a chat program, but one of them won’t let go of the fantasy theme. This link contains more such episodes than I think I’ve seen before, and they’re really funny. So, read them if you want some good but dirty humor.

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A mild prank

You know what would be really funny? Make your own comment form for a business, one that looks official but isn’t. Then, fill it out and drop it in a box. Then, when the manager looks at it, she’ll be puzzled as hell about where the form came from.

Oh, hell, it’s not that funny, but it sure seemed amusing when I first thought of it. If someone finds it and is confused, then it would be funny, but it’s much more likely that it won’t even get a second glance. Ah well.

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Kate and I watched Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It was very funny, and I’d recommend it. We were both greatly amused by the howling rabbits, and Kate repeated the gesture several times, so I made an icon of it.

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