Feb. 2nd, 2013 10:46 am
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So apparently I've survived the first full week of classes! Almost everyone I know, especially seniors, is going around with haggard faces going "How...how did we do this semester thing before? I do not understand." Hopefully we'll all find our feet soon; having an actual weekend today and tomorrow should help me, at least.

...yesterday, though, I had to turn in my first physics homework in nearly ten months--the price of not taking any physics last semester--and that was tough, though ultimately I think it all worked out. The up side is that I also received a package containing the fun things that Kate and I bought with Christmas money: pirate and Shakespearean magnetic poetry--to go with the queer magnetic poetry she gave me--and a TARDIS-blue teapot that's just the right size for me to make tea for myself in the mornings. Our fridge is now covered in words (and sentences like "Ye wicked homoerotic musket"), which will be awesome for tea parties. (Except that everyone will cluster around the fridge and get in my way when I try to make tea for people.)

Also, I made a post about my work in Special Collections (and how it made me want to be a Special Collections librarian) on the new-and-improved MHC library blog. It was very easy to write, because basically it's the story of my life with old books.

I am nearly done with applications to everything ever (knock on wood), waiting to hear back from grad schools, and meanwhile researching summer opportunities. Almost all the library paid internships want me to be in an MLIS program, which is fair, but also sad. (The others want you to be a full-time student, presumably for the next academic year as well, which--hopefully I will be! Might apply to some of those, just because.) I may end up doing temp work somewhere, particularly if I do end up using my Rare Book School scholarship this summer--most summer programs frown on their participants running off to Virginia for a week to learn about book history. The future is still scary, but I have done most of what I can to figure out what's going to happen.


Feb. 19th, 2012 09:12 pm
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I had Spontaneous Haircut Time tonight. Came back from dinner and all of a sudden it was just too much hair. (Somewhere from 1.5 to 2 inches.) Cut it off with scissors, buzzed it down, scooped all the bits of hair into the trash. My head is now reassuringly fuzzy again.

Then, adventures in physics! Reading up on various things on the Internet so as to understand this one article (I have to write a three-page paper for quantum by Wednesday). Ought to go work on the homework that's actually due tomorrow before I collapse into bed, but we'll see how far I get with that.

Yesterday was Drag Ball. It was a less intensely personal experience than last year; I was just me but in a dress and ridiculous wig (dollar-store knit cap plus curly yellow ribbons) and lots of eye makeup. Fun seeing everyone else's costumes, as always.

Still not really working on fiction. I've got a couple of extra things due this week--quantum paper and application for summer research funding--so I'm trying to keep up with the work. It helps that I don't have any Midsummer rehearsals this week! One of these days I'm going to slide in under the submission cap at Strange Horizons, though. And I have some bits and pieces of things I should type up. We'll see how it all goes.
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I am pretty much completely recovered! My brain works again! This rocks. Also, sunny winter days are still my favorite.

Yesterday-snow-day I managed to get all the practical things done that I wanted to get done, and also (re)watch the three-part Master-and-Doctor season finale with people (so slashy. soooo slashy) and then complain cheerfully about the ending and then watch "Time Crash" which made it all okay. Oh, and I auditioned for a play, too!

Under practical things, file "finished my physics research applications". All done! Until next year. And maybe the people I do research for this summer will want me back next summer, or else I will have my license and a car and so will be okay with staying on campus next summer to do research or work at the archives or something. Or I will get an actual job. Or an unpaid internship and make the college give me a living stipend. Who knows what will happen in this year?

Responses For Which I Am Waiting:
- Auditions for that play (?)
- Physics research (starting March 1st, onward through March...?)
- Dell Award (who knows? they said three weeks, and then they said "a few", and it's been four and I am Impatient)
- Cicada (February 20th?)

Now I just get to do study abroad applications, and then I will have a full complement of things to wait for.

Maybe one of these days I will actually write something. Like revise the beginning of A Returning Power so I can send it in to Viable Paradise like I've been meaning to. I might almost have enough space in my brain, now. It's awesome to have all those physics applications out.


Feb. 1st, 2011 12:55 pm
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I have been sick. Just a cold, but enough to fuzz my brain and make me not want to do work, or anything else. I did my work, though, yesterday and the day before, and my reward for virtue is a GIANT SNOWSTORM and no classes this afternoon and tomorrow. 6-8 inches already, apparently.

In celebration, we are having tea. And I picked up the copy of Among Others I'd ordered in, so I have some new pleasure-reading waiting for me as well.

As of yesterday evening, most of my REU applications are totally complete! One of them I have to polish the essay for, another I have to print out and mail forms, but all the rest of them are in and so are my transcripts and recommendations.

Which all means that I am a really happy, not very stressed at all Alena, and over the next day or so expect to finish up the last-last-last of REU applications, slush, do homework for Thursday and Friday--but this afternoon to do nothing productive or practical at all.

Massachusetts winter, you have good timing. I think I'll keep you.
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The semester started on Wednesday. I am not sure how I feel about this.

Classes I'm taking are:
- Real analysis: should be interesting and teach me things--it's full of people who are about at my same math level, which rocks.
- Quantum mechanics: best class ever? Quite possibly. (I have been waiting years to take quantum mechanics. On the first day we got a thermal image of a zebra. As far as I care this class can do no wrong.)
- Second semester of Greek: more maiming! More violence! Always fun.
- Science, revolution, and modernity: a critical social thought class, which seems very interesting and also kind of intense (six books plus supplementary readings? 3-4 page paper nearly every week?), at least to my physics-major brain. But hey, readings and not problem sets, so that's nice.

I auditioned for the five-college early music program and got placed in a group. Singing madrigals! I haven't done that much since freshman year of high school, and I have missed it. (I kept forgetting to check and see when auditions were, the past few semesters.) I will have concerts to go and do, in addition to two hours' weekly practice.

[Edit: And of course working in special collections. Forever.]

In grand college tradition, I would also like to attend at least a few meetings for the Coalition for Gender Awareness this semseter--I've been on their email list since last year--and, oh yeah, try out for a play. I am going to try out for the play anyhow, which might be a bad idea but oh well. CoGA might have to wait. I seem to be cycling through all the things I want to do; I just have to hope that I have enough time to actually do all of them before I graduate.

Not helping with this: I hope to study abroad for a semester next year. I have a shortlist, just need to fill out all the forms. I do have some time on that.

Meanwhile, though, I still have physics research applications to do. I am getting through them, but I have some left--the plan is to do those today. (Also, my homework for tomorrow.) I submitted my application to the U of MN materials science REU program this morning, which I point out especially because their application webform has a box to type in for gender, not just buttons for male and female. Win!
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I forgot to add in my last post that I also have recently read The Prisoner of Zenda, and a great many things now make more sense, including several bits of 1crowdedhour's A College of Magics. (So that's...!)

In not-really-news, being back at college kind of rocks. Also, I am finally caught up on my slush for Ideomancer, I think.

Aaaand, drumroll, I am submitting physics research applications. I requested a whole parcel of official transcripts at one point last week; I sent one actual application a couple of days ago, and have completed (quote un quote? I don't think they're looking at them until after the deadline, but it's nice to have it done) two more and sent another one. Most of these were solar physics and astrophysics; I still have a couple of those left, and then, next up: Alena takes on materials science.

After I have sent in all my REU applications, it will just nearly be time for me to start filling out study abroad forms. I have a shortlist of places, which will help, and the deadline's something like halfway through March, but I should still start thinking about it.

Roommate and I had another tea party yesterday. We now have three teapots, so we could have earl grey, peppermint, and green ready all at the same time. It was lovely. (The people were nice too!)

There, that's a passable summary of my past few days. Now onward, to lunch.
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Somehow it turned into two days before I leave. I am not quite sure how.

I always remember, when I come back here, how much I love Minnesota and also how much I love my friends from before college. Don't get me wrong, my college friends are awesome. I adore my college friends. But sometimes I get focused on "ooo college friends woo" and forget that... really, my friends from middle- and high-school eras are fairly brilliant too.

The other bonus, of course, is that I get a bunch of really, really tasty food. Cookies; home-made bread; maple sugar candy; Bosc pears (which ought to be spelled Bosch--Garden of Earthly Pears?); candy canes; rice pasta with home-made sauce; chicken and dumplings; freshly-made pancakes; bacon; really good orange juice; gravy, gravy, gravy; yams baked with marshmallows and brown sugar on top; ...well. Et cetera.

Which is good because it is delicious, and is also good because in my parents' houses, there's a kind of attitude of "limitations? What limitations?" In my parents' houses, what I eat does not approximate normal food; it is normal food.

Which is why I am looking forward (oh I am looking forward) to the day when I have a place of my own, when I can go out and buy food and stock a kitchen and make whatever I want for myself. Tasty things. Things I want to eat. It will be a glorious day.

For now, I am just trying to savor the moments (and the meals) before I head back to Massachusetts, to campus, and a return to what now counts as my usual life. I am looking forward to going back to campus, don't get me wrong. I just know that the food won't be quite as good. Oh well.

(Getting closer to submitting the physics research applications. These make me more nervous than many things, so it may take a bit of a push for me to actually send them in... fortunately I do have some time before the deadlines arrive.)


Jan. 10th, 2011 06:42 pm
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Shiver, Stiefvater: Better than the other novel of hers I've read--I think this is more recent. Northern-Minnesota werewolves, hooray. Didn't quite buy the ending, unfortunately. But I am interested enough to pick up the sequel, if I come across it in the library.
The Fuller Memorandum, Stross: Less math and comp sci geekery, more action-movie and emotional consequences, than some others of the Laundry Files I've read. Still, nice. I don't read these for the plot--if I tried to pick up each and every detail as it flew past, I'd probably start picking for holes in it, so I just lean back and enjoy the ride. So when it doesn't make any immediate sense, I am still entertained. Which I was.
Black Blade Blues, Pitt: I grabbed it because what I knew was: queer urban fantasy! I am all for that. Also, the beginning made me grin when I picked it up. I got: plenty of queer, plus blacksmithing and low-budget movies and Pacific Northwest and Norse mythology. And SCA. Some elements in here that I loved (runes were particularly neat), others I was iffy on but that's usually the case (skimmed some of the battle scenes, but then I often do that when reading). At any rate, also entertaining, enjoyed the read.

Which leaves a couple of books still unread out from the library, one of which I am bouncing off the beginning of and might not get to, and a few recent purchases still unread, all of which I am Very Interested to get to. But I read a lot of my library books before the bought ones--that is some measure of virtue.

And I have been struggling with my physics-applications statements of interest today, but finally nailed down a draft of one of 'em, at least. Which, no surprise, is for the program I think is the most awesome. Too bad it's in a city I don't have any particular desire to live in for eight weeks.

I also made vague attempts toward some statements for other programs--maybe those will be helpful when I get around to actually writing them? Wishful thinking, I suspect. Oh well.
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I got to see [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour today, which is always a pleasure. We met at the library; I hadn't been there yet this break. Figuring that too many books to read before I go back is always better than too few, I checked out a whole pile of them, maybe a pile and a half.

When I got home, I set down my bag of books. "Okay," said I to myself, "now you are going to sit down and work on your applications to summer physics research programs, and then you can read." Which actually worked! I mean, I took a break for dinner, and I ended up reading the rest of an anthology that I'd started reading on the bus home, but I managed to get a lot done.

(Listening to "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" gives you special physics-application-working powers, did you know? It's because it's on the soundtrack to Real Genius.)

I've compiled a list of all the various essays, personal statements, et cetera, that I have to write; I've also gone through the lists of projects and tried to pick out which ones I most want to work on. (This is difficult in some cases, because I know so little about some fields that I am left staring and wondering if those are actually sentences. Application of a dictionary will help, I think; materials science in general sounds interesting, it's just the specifics that I'm having trouble with. In other cases, I seem to be eminently qualified for nearly all the projects they're running, so at least there's a good mix.) In addition, I wrote my first statement of interest! Admittedly, it's only one paragraph, but started on physics applications is started on physics applications. Nine or so left to go!

Book read:
Troll's Eye View, Datlow/Windling ed.: This was a very odd collection to read. It's all fairy tales retold from a villain's point of view; generally I can read a few of those and then have to go off somewhere and read a nice restorative SF book or something. They managed to get a good spread of which fairy tales they were, though, so that was nice. And it did not hurt that at least eleven of the writers represented here are some of the writers I think are really, really cool.

The part that made reading it an odd experience was that it's all these people who I know for writing complicated fiction, fiction that can cut you if you slip on it, fiction with flourishes and bouquets of words: Valente, Kushner, Beagle, Link. But all these things were dimmed, possibly because it's technically a Middle Grade anthology, possibly because it is after all a themed anthology, possibly...? Who knows. Link's story sounded the most like the rest of her work, to me, but it still felt a little bit muffled. Sherman did (I think) the best job of working the fairy tale in so you hardly noticed it was a retelling of anything, and Farmer made her retelling(s) obvious but surprised me the most. Not that it was a bad anthology; it just was populated with very, very good writers, and in my opinion these were mostly only very good works.
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35.5 / 75

Tada. (I snuck away once this week, on Wednesday, to write. The rest is this morning.)

This novel redraft is quite definitely not getting done by the end of October. Oh well.


Last night was the geek dance. It costs a dollar if you go in costume. There are six people in our moving group, and once when my roommate and I were not doing homework we brainstormed ideas that we could all do. The best idea that we had was quarks--up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange.

Somehow, between then and now, we didn't come up with any idea we liked any better, and somehow we put it together. A trip to Amherst was involved, and a sign-making and makeup-putting-on (on faces, on arms, on... hair...) frenzy happened last night before the dance started.

And so I dressed up last night as Jonathan Strange, Quark, and went out to dance.

(My tuxedo and a cravat were involved, as was spray-on orange hair dye that didn't work very well. Thus, orange Halloween facepaint was put in my hair to emphasize the color. Any flaw in my dress--one side of my cravat was fraying, there was a tear on my trouser leg, my cravat may not have been very well-tied, my hair stood mostly straight up--could be explained away as me being Strange near the end of the book, with the pineapples and candle-flames and all.)

Sadly, a number of people had to have the costumes explained to them. "QUARKS!" we yelled in their ears over the music. "We're SUBATOMIC PARTICLES!"

But we did get selected to participate in the costume contest. Even though we didn't win, we made it into the second round, so we were pretty pleased with ourselves.

Mostly, I am just entertained and amused that we actually did it. Like I said to one member of the group a couple of days before, it isn't like we'll likely have a six-person moving group next year or the year after that, so this was our chance. And we took it.

(Today I am wearing my "QUARK" sign pinned to the front of my shirt. Because I can.)
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Camp Concentration: H'm. A strange sort of book. I didn't know what it was doing until the end, and then I mostly sat there and frowned. I'm not sure I liked it well enough to reread, though I'm sure it would reward the process. But it was interesting.

Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night: Sort of like I had never read Dunnett until recently, I hadn't read Sayers until now. I checked out a four-novel volume because that was the only way they had the first one, and continued implacably until now. Sometimes I thought to myself, "I think this might be too much Lord Peter Wimsey". A few pages later, however, I always somehow ended up thinking, "There is no such thing as too much Lord Peter Wimsey". Upon finishing Gaudy Night I may or may not have gone scudding off across campus to consult on physics, beaming benevolently at the world.

...and now I talk like the books. That's the trouble with reading so much so quickly from such a different (and yet familiar) time-period, with such a strong voice.

As a product of my consultation, I now semi-officially have physics research to do! Except it's sort of just poking-around-on-the-internet... except it's sort of just applied math... except it might turn out to sort of be computer science. But I can probably figure it out, however it turns out to actually be.

Now to dinner, and later to Greek in my room-circa-1901. I exist in several time-periods at once, except not because I'm actually quite glad I live now, but temporal drift is often the after-effect of a good book or five.
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Elements for an excellent day:
- beautiful weather
- reading books (that might not be the greatest book you've ever read, and you might keep comparing it disfavorably with something else, but it's okay, I mean, you're still going to finish it)
- time to work on your novel
- hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour
- sitting out by the lake on the dock, barefoot, thinking about how to revise your last novel

Mix well. Most of these, I admit, could or do happen most days of this summer--except for hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour, which hadn't happened before and which rocked and which (I believe) should happen again.

Unfortunately for the last item on the list, I believe the next stage of the Novel Revision Plan might involve notecards. Which I own--once when I had a brief animation craze I asked for a whole bunch of notecards and a lightbox for my birthday, and I've hardly ever used any of them, so this aspect of the Plan might just be "I should really use some of those sometime"--but they're at the house I won't be at until a couple of days from now. So.

(Also I'm not really completely certain that the way I started thinking about last summer's novel is the best way to revise it. And "As Large as Alone" is still out, and I really want to have my copies of the Oresteia and Medea to hand when I'm revising "The Bodies of Erinyes", and you know what, I need another writing project.)

236 / 350

Flipping through a book catalog this evening, I stopped at a book called "The Tests of Time: Readings in the Development of Physical Theory". It's the discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, and Hubble in their own words--but when I glanced at I thought that it was going to be their discoveries retold in each other's styles. So, quantum theory told as Galileo would have understood it, or big bang theory as Copernicus might have written it up... I kind of wish that book existed.
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Today was a Day Of Things Which Were Not Progress On The Novel. These days happen.

Things included, um, lying about, drinking tea, posting to the Ideomancer community (Atlas of Imagination! Still up and running!), working on the still-untitled short story, taking a nap (I pretty much never take naps, so this was of note), walking to the store to buy food, and seeing How to Train Your Dragon (which was cute! Though of questionable morality at some points).

Rainy cold days make me want to work on this short story, apparently, which says bad things about how cheerful the story is. All of those bad things are true, with cherries on top. It is a story of Doom and Gloom, so it's... sorta nice the weather's cooperating, really.

With luck, though, tomorrow I'll leap out of bed and work on the novel. Spending a day working on something else once in a while is probably good for me, but I don't want to lose too much momentum.

The Demon's Lexicon, with as few spoilers as possible: hmm. I'd gotten spoiled for the main spoiler of the book long before I read it, so I'm not sure how it would've read if I hadn't known that going in. There were a couple of parts where I was confused, either with logic or presentation of material, but they all sort of made sense eventually. I liked the Goblin Market a lot, and I found it refreshing (and awesome!) to have a queer character whose sexuality was present in the text but wasn't really made a big deal of. Result: I'll read the sequel, though I don't plan to buy either at this point.

Also, I took my tiny laser apart entirely today. It had a laser diode inside. I'm pretty sure it's irreparable now, which is a pity, but what would I really use a laser pointer for anyway? Taking it apart was entertaining, at any rate.
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171 / 350

So close to (approximately, sort of) halfway! We'll... see how this all works out, I guess. So far it's going all right, I have kind of an idea of at least what's happening right now, but we'll see how long I can keep it up.

I wrote to 169 this morning, and then worked on that short story I plotted the other day, and only came back to write the last couple of pages this evening.

The short story has about 1,400 words on a first draft now, though about half of that's cribbed from the other beginning I made on it before. It felt good to work on something else, something new (well, in relative terms).

I may have mentioned it's far-future SF? Part of the way through working on it, I ran across a link to this without any indication as to what it was. I think I spent a good ten minutes staring at it, just... well, just staring. Boggling, really.

After I could think again, I downloaded a copy--see here for different versions--and stuck it in the References folder for the short story. And I snagged the huge version to stare at, high-resolution, filling my whole screen.

Space. There's a whole lot of it.

(Also I read The Demon's Lexicon but I will write about that tomorrow.)
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144 / 350

(Through 140 was written yesterday, in the interest of full disclosure.)

Mean things: manipulative people who won't take no for an answer; people who are too nice to tell them off. Combine in a large bowl; stir...

That is not huge amounts of progress--it looks like more than it is 'cause I started a new chapter--but I did other things today. We went out to help on the farm we get a share from; I helped weed potatoes in the rain and got my hands exceedingly muddy in the process.

On the way back, we stopped in Stillwater, where I attempted to find some place in that town that would sell me a cup of tea (and eventually resorted to the co-op, which would sell me some very passable green tea). Stillwater is composed mainly of antique stores and riverfront, as far as I can tell. The riverfront is pretty, though, and the antique stores may be lovely--I did not venture inside.

They also have a few bookstores. In one of them, I contemplated the sad phenomenon that is the physics section in used bookstores, particularly popular-science books. Things that were cutting-edge in 1988 are, by and large, not so cutting-edge now, and 1988 is recent for some used bookstores.

Also, I took apart the tiny laser--well, mostly--and then put it back together, and now it doesn't work quite right. When it's on and I shake it too quickly it stops lasing. But I'll work on fixing that some other time.
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Just finished my application for the physics REU! Sent my statement of interest flying off into the ether that is the Internet. Oh, the glory of online application forms.

In the meantime, I have pretty much recuperated from Illness. I am glad to have my brain back, but on the other hand having it back means having to distract myself from teaching myself number theory.

(I find that sort of thing really interesting; unfortunately I am already way ahead of the class on this unit, and don't want to outpace it too ridiculously.)

Thankfully I do have other things to do--finish my REU application, write, stuff like that. Picked up a biography of Gauss at the library today since the man seems to have done everything. I'll survive.
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Pursuant to previous post: Oh! Aha. Hmm. Your comments are all both edifying and gracious, and I will have to read them again and think about this for a while. Many points that people made make a lot of sense.

I suspect that I have been greatly spoiled in the point of independent bookstores, growing up in Minneapolis (where there are a lot of independents, several of which I live near for various values of near) and then coming to college (where there is a pretty nice independent bookstore right across the street).


Brain a bit scattered from midterms et cetera. Yesterday I skived off studying for an hour and a half after dinner, was an accomplice to filching a tray from the campus center, and went sledding on the big hill behind one of the dormitories. Today it rained, and I did a presentation and wrote a midterm.

Tomorrow they claim it will snow again, and maybe I will have collected enough bits of brain to work on the paper, essay, novel critiques that are due next week. And, oh, decide if I'm going to apply for that physics REU that takes freshman that I found online today and, if so, politely and awkwardly approach my professors after class to see if they will write me recommendations. Hurray.
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Not Isaac Newton's Oracle

the oracle misses those easy
long arcs; puffed white contrails
traced baseballs caught, thrown
against bright summer sky.

she misses the crack of the bat.

fractalled glass
echoes the same,
but the place
between notes
slips down stairs.

the oracle sits on her couch,
pets the cat.
watches soaps.

"Nine Things About Oracles"

May 2017



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