trochee: (Default)
The Morlock is a round, pale white ghost
in aviator sunglasses
a black polo shirt
two beepers, a phone and black velcro pouches
hide his belt like lichen on a branch
and a purple carabiner dangles a hundred jewels
that open a thousand locks.

He could be a night janitor, pale from sleeping days
but for two details:
long thinning hair, a string of afterthought on his back,
and a porkpie hat, carefully level with his eyebrows.
These two details serve as tokens of office,
signs of allegiance, badges of honor in
the libertarian under-troll brotherhood of bits.

I smiled to myself, admiring how clearly I knew him.
"You think you're such a rebel," I said in my mind
to the Morlock. "You're just part of the machine."

But when the bus came around the corner,
the street was full of shouting, signs and a cloth dragon,
going the other way, desperate anger,
saying "No!" and "not in our name!".

They climb the hill behind us,
hoping to take the freeway
hoping to be noticed,
hoping their resistance can mean something,
just like the Morlock.

And I, I didn't join them, I didn't shout "no",
I let them pass,
I stayed on the bus,
I went to work,
just like the Morlock.

From notes taken Thursday morning, 10/5
trochee: (Default)
white hair, and beard, both ending
in a smooth circle around his shoulders
lost look, blue veins under
the delicate hairless skin of his arms

gray pants, too short for his dirty socks,
he seeks an empty seat
in silent helplessness, he pleads
with the black-clad messenger bag man
[ ostentatiously aloof
his ears blocked with digital plastic
his eyes with sarcasm ]

In his faded pink shirt, he settles
next to the young man, twitching
like a deer in the rain, restlessly seeking
a quiet seat of his own. From the
red sack in his lap, he draws ratty papers

a yellowing prescriptionists free pad, bearing the name
of a drug prominently printed at the top of each.
The pages are covered with careful, ancient
script -- his own, with a ball-point pen --

a line of Norwegian -- Finnish? -- a language
with loops and whorls over its vowels, twitchy
diacritics like the flickering of his eyes --
each line followed by its hasty translation

"Friday let us go to the movies"
"This boat is too small"
"Just a dog is having its day"

I get off at the university, but he stays on,
trochee: (Default)
done with the presentation. was a little stressful getting it all done in time, but it went pretty well in the end. [ profile] imtboo was looking out for me and made sure I ate breakfast before I left. That helped too and the extra blood sugar kept me on my toes while I was posing and answering questions.

bleh. I look forward to getting back to my real research!

In happier news, [ profile] imtboo and I found a place and got it! We'll be moving in together starting in a week and a half, and done moving by Feb 1. woo!


Jan. 3rd, 2006 12:03 pm
trochee: (Default)
yeah, I know nobody wants to hear about my dream. But here it is.
in a big field where people were setting sand fireworks off in a coordinated pattern that was going to decorate the moon with a black-and-white image of Marlene Dietrich. Thinking about how it would be better than advertising, and that someday we would need to dust the whole moon with a layer of gray dust to get it all back. And then it would be found by aliens who would see it as evidence of civilization on Earth That Was.
That is all.
trochee: (resolute)
A followup post on installing ubuntu on this laptop:

Install gotcha (and workaround)
getting ubuntu onto the disk turned out to be a challenge. I have no bootable CD-ROM drive -- the CD-ROM drive I do have is a USB device that doesn't mount on boot, so I spent a long time trying to copy the CD onto the hard disk and convince it to boot from there. But [ profile] _dkg_ suggested that I install the laptop HD into a desktop system (with a bootable CD-ROM), install Ubuntu there, and then swap it back into the laptop -- apparently most of the hardware detection now happens at boot time, not at install time. Pretty neat.

And it worked. But the X (video) configuration was all shot to heck. But in the process of doing this, I realized that the install process installed the base system from the CD, then copied the remaining packages to the HD, kicked out the CD, and rebooted before installing X etcetera. So I threw the HD back into the desktop, wiped the disk again and reinstalled, but killed the reboot. I pulled the HD and put it back in the laptop, and then booted. The auto-install proceeded just fine, and correctly discovered all the hardware on the laptop.

Update management
Other Debian-based system users may be familiar with sources.list, the way to instruct the system to find updates. I find Ubuntu's Gnome-based update-management software to be really easy to use and understand. It took me about 30 seconds to remove the CD repository and include the web sources for security package upgrades, and then another ten minutes to download and install the packages. (why doesn't it automatically include the security packages? possibly because I installed without a network connection available.)

Surprisingly (to me), emacs was not installed by default, but that was easily remedied with the more sophisticated synaptic package-manager -- and could have been done through the "start menu" anyway!

switching to gnome; music management
Because it was the default window manager, I decided to switch to Gnome, and I've been quite happy with it. As a benefit, Ubuntu provides the excellent rhythmbox music manager, which I much prefer to XMMS right now -- the ability to browse by genre alone is quite easy.

By default, Ubuntu does not provide decoders that are legally entangled. After some internet research, I discovered the excellent Ubuntu wiki page on restricted formats that allows you to very easily enable all the decoders to handle .mp3, .mov, m4a, .wmv files. The instructions here are clear, simple, and easy to follow; unusual, in my experience, for Linux video instructions. Like [ profile] evan_tech, I am amazed at how it all holds together.

firefox version hunting
As yet, I only have one gripe. I'm eager to install the latest version of Firefox, but I would much rather do it through the package management. Apparently this isn't ready for the stable version (Breezy Badger) yet, though it's getting there for the next one (Dapper Drake, scheduled for April). I shouldn't complain -- it'll be ready real soon.

What a cool system! My whole laptop feels new!


Dec. 23rd, 2005 08:37 pm
trochee: (resolute)
I just spent the last hour and a half backing up my laptop, or at least all the files *I* think are critical.

I'm going to try to wipe it and reinstall, this time with ubuntu. But I want to put the image on the hard disk before it gets any more complicated.
trochee: (together)
Sunday was lovely. D and I stayed in all day -- we got up late, and I spent most of the morning on the internet. D. made pancakes with homemade applesauce, and I browsed the web. I worked on a post I've got brewing that may eventually make it into [ profile] chr0me_kitten's Molly, and eventually I got around to getting to work.

D. did too, and we spent most of our afternoon sitting at the dining room table in her house together, she working on plays and I on software. I sometimes talk to myself while coding (I don't always notice) and by dinnertime, we were cracking each other up with refrains of "dammit, E---" which was my refrain for the afternoon. A certain E---'s software maintenance practices leave something to be desired, and I'm cleaning up after him a lot. But it made D. laugh because I kept saying it.

We decided to go out to dinner, but had a pleasureable detour in the midst of getting out of pajamas and into outdoor clothes. We went out to a big Mexican dinner, and rolled ourselves home afterwards, where I went back to work (fixed E---'s problems! yay!) and she finished her work reading the student plays as well.

D's roommate W came home, and for the first time in weeks, all her roommates were in the house. She and I watched another episode of the really-quite-impressive Cowboy Bebop, and went to bed.
trochee: (linguistics)
email from today:
Dear [[Bad username or site: trochee / @]],

Congratulations! You have been admitted to our PhD program.

Let me know if you have questions.

[Grad Program Advisor]

Kinda anticlimactic if you ask me. But a good thing nevertheless.
trochee: (together)
I spent Thanksgiving day at the home of some family friends from back in the 404, and got to sit at the "kids table" -- a gaggle of thirty-somethings, with one 4-year-old, who decided to climb all over me like I was a jungle gym. I think she's great, so I may have encouraged her a little.

Friday [ profile] imtboo and I rented a car and drove to Anacortes, and thence took the ferry to Orcas Island and spent the long weekend together in a lodge on Orcas Island. Was really relaxing and settling for me -- and for her -- to have time just for the two of us, with no distractions -- no internet, no homework, no wondering whose house we're sleeping at tonight. It's so quiet out there on the island; we just spent those two and a half days relaxing, getting a chance to feel each other; to take small risks with each other, and to reassert what good things we have together.

We communicate really well. I felt comfortable and safe there with her; some things that evoke fear and concern for her, she was able to bring up with me. In the way these things always are, they turned out much smaller in the warm sunlight of sharing them with each other, and were replaced by strength and more love.

Coming back Sunday night, we both wanted to go home. Sadly, our homes are still different. But we each wanted to go home, and we did -- but it's clear to us both that we want our home to be together. We've known that for a while, but this just reinforced that feeling -- now we're looking to move together at the end of January, and this trip together makes me even happier that we're doing it.

I'm very happy. It was a lovely weekend and I'm looking forward to having more time like that. And also to have more time like that here in the Pac-NW urban life as well. It feels so good to be happy in my life.

love notes

Oct. 17th, 2005 12:35 pm
trochee: (together)
I woke up this morning after [ profile] imtboo had left to go to parts East for an acting gig.

It felt quiet and peaceful, but i was wishing she was there. Then I found a little love letter she had written me and left on my backpack before she left, and I felt quiet and peaceful, and full instead of empty.

I feel lucky.
trochee: (resolute)
no this is not a meme. But I haven't updated in a while, and besides, I wanted to show some LJ solidarity in the face of anti-LJ snarkiness. (Actually, I think those two cartoons are double-sarcastic, which cancels it all out again. But I digress.)
  • I got back from the conference on Monday and was completely beat. Met lots of nice people, including gangs of grad students from OGI, MIT and UMass Amherst, who were all very well represented.
  • I was invited to join the AARP yesterday. I find it hard to imagine I'm really eligible. And they're bastards anyway.
  • I am one of the vice presidents of our graduate student organization this year. This means I have to get to arrange speakers for the Friday colloquia and then stand up and welcome them.
  • It looks like I may be researching work on transliteration and language-of-origin identification for Chinese-to-English MT this quarter.
  • the new comp-ling master's students got very upset at one of the faculty today because they don't know what their internships will look like. I understand their frustration. My internship wasn't much fun, either. Their panic was no fun to watch though and I'm not sure it's useful or productive for them to pick on the faculty.
  • [ profile] imtboo made me dinner. On the way there, I got to go to the comic book store, and talk to my brother on the telephone. [ profile] imtboo and I are sitting around the dining room table together on laptops. She is [re]writing her play.
Life feels good.

day 2

Oct. 7th, 2005 04:49 pm
trochee: (Default)
talk went pretty well yesterday. I'd stuck around for 45 minutes, waiting to see if Advisor was interested in chatting with me after my talk, but nothing happened, so I felt like I should find people to go have dinner with, since these conferences are all about networking.

Went out with friends from the old summer workshop (now three summers ago!) for dinner, and got into an awkward situation when Advisor called and wanted to take me out to dinner.

I miss Seattle, and [ profile] imtboo. Vancouver is lovely, but I wish you were here with me, Boo.

Nevertheless, I'm doing well here; I feel like I understand a lot of what's here and I'm learning a lot from those that I don't get right away. I'll be glad when it's all done though.

[I must remember to tell a story about Advisor and Internship Leader. Don't have time now.]
trochee: (Default)
Classes began today. I had a class in historical/comparative linguistics and a class in shallow processing for NLP.

I think both classes are likely to be quite easy. I'm a little concerned that they may be *too* easy.

I have been busy catching up on email and other tasks associated with getting back into school; I am also preparing my talk for the conference next week. It has been hard to get excited about it.

Today I saw Hedda Gabler with [ profile] imtboo, [ profile] blackwingedboy and [ profile] alexstx21. Wow. Very Dogma- style, and well-told story. Totally absorbing. I knew the play already and it still made me jump.


Sep. 2nd, 2005 12:00 pm
trochee: (Default)
I spent some time yesterday preparing a talk on localization, internationalization, and character encodings. That made me feel a little better: something to do that wasn't just hitting "reload".

I went back to the hotel to look at dinner, but their dinner offerings were all meat, so I had snacks that I had stashed for this purpose. [ profile] fructivore called, but he's just landed in the Bay Area and we both were too pooped-out to get together that night. Too bad, really -- I haven't seen him since before 2000.

I read for a while, packed my backpack, and talked to [ profile] imtboo on the phone. She's really fired up by the new work she's been doing, and I'm really happy for her. I miss her so much that I felt jealous about the new work and people, and I felt bad about being jealous, and I tried to suppress the jealousy but it made it hard to listen. Eventually I told her about it, which discharged the whole feeling. Funny how that works. I'm really glad that I will see her tonight; it's been far too long.

[ profile] imtboo said something to me last night that made me feel super special: she said she felt like she has never worried like my love for her was something that might run out. That it wasn't a finite thing to be rationed.

I took a shower and went to bed. I woke up this morning with my arms snugged around a pillow. I'm tired of that.

This morning I checked out from the hotel and came in to the office for a meeting with fellow grad student and internship advisor (it's my last day here). The bottom line: the experiments we were trying to run had a bug (in FGS's code; nothing I can do about it) and they may (or may not) be able to share the code with me (legal questions). That was it.

At 10, I gave my talk on character encodings; I had mercilessly hacked it shorter but I also added a number of other ideas to it, so it took nearly an hour. The lab director laughed at my jokes (yay!) and I cracked up the Israeli visiting researcher (and nobody else) with my joke about how Arabic and Hebrew wouldn't share the same ISO-8859 for political reasons. I wrapped up, and the lab director thanked me later for the talk.

I've put my laptop back in my backpack, and am now twiddling thumbs until I leave for the airport.
trochee: (linguistics)
"Bonjour," says [French guy, we'll call him Jean], upon arriving in the office, to the South Indian [we'll call him Prakash] with whom he shares a cubicle wall.

Prakash looks back, blankly.

"Buenos dias," Jean tries again, gamely.

Another stare.

"Guten Tag, bon giorno," Jean tries, with a tiny note of desperation along with his accent. "Nii hao, hello!"

"Namaste," I add, perhaps unhelpfully.

Prakash pulls the tiny tiny earphones out of his ears and looks at us both. "What?"
trochee: (together)
met with the internship advisor and a fellow grad student today.

We planned out what we're doing again. Can't tell if it's cultural or personal, but I found myself directing the meeting through "helpful suggestions" like "anything else we should talk about?" and wound up adjourning it. It's no surprise that Dilbert's experience is so common; so few people understand how to have a meeting happen quickly and effectively.

We left with a short task list of things to do this week before I leave. I have already done almost all the parts that I know how to do. With twenty minutes' more work, I'll be done with all the work I know what to do with; I'm waiting for some more work from the other grad student.

I came home and read for a while. I find myself missing [ profile] imtboo more and more. She's off doing interesting work in Spokane today and tomorrow; and of course I'm not in Seattle anyway, but I can't wait for her to get back and me to get back. I have this hollow space between my arm and my chest where I can almost feel her, next to me with her head on my shoulder.
trochee: (resolute)
I'm off to spend some time in Berkeley and Oakland for the weekend. I may be checking email; may not. Hope you are all enjoying yourselves this weekend!
trochee: (Default)
I have 60 minutes left on my cell phone plan until the end of August. Thus I think I won't be doing much phone calling back to Seattle until Sep 1. (I'm sorry, [ profile] imtboo!)

If you'd like to talk to me, I can send anybody who wants to know my hotel's phone number.
trochee: (Default)
my laptop is my only link to outside internet right now, whether I am at the hotel (free wifi, but no terminals) or the office (wacky security constraints that allow me to connect, iff I take my laptop into the supply closet).

So you can imagine my panic when the power supply refused to light up. No charge to the laptop means my internet time for the next two weeks is constrained to (1) what I can get to through the webproxy at work (no email, whatsoever) and (2) the battery life of the laptop (very short!).

But I thought about it, and drove down to the impressive Fry's, and looked at replacing the power adaptor. The one option was a generic for $80, and I had the presence of mind to ask a guy there to open one up and see if it had an adaptor for this laptop (it didn't). While I plugged in the thing to show him what wasn't working, it of course decided to charge. I joked with him that I was reluctant to unplug it (true) and I might stay there all night while it charged (false).

But then it occurred to me that maybe it was the AC cord. I went over to the cables and bitty parts department (they don't call it that, but they should, shouldn't they?) and asked around. "Oh, you want the figure-8?" said the guy.

"uh," I said, gracefully. I'm smooth like that.

Then I saw what he meant: the cable from the wall to the heavy little box has a connector that looks like a figure 8 -- if you were going to stick the cable in your eye. Eye-insertion not being my usual mode of cable-observation, that didn't spring to mind. But indeed, he led me straight to a $1.99 black cable that --color notwithstanding-- looked an awful lot like the cheap-ass white cable that trails from the adaptor to the wall. For that price, I bought it on the spot and left.

A good thing, too, because when I got back to the hotel, the AC adaptor still wouldn't light up. I crossed my fingers and replaced that component, considering alternatives (solder, tearing open the little white adaptor box and crossing wires by hand, removing the hard disk from the laptop to rescue files). It lit up immediately and brighter than before.

Laptop rescued, for a grand total of $2.15.
trochee: (Default)
The Chinese project manager two desks over is on the phone, talking about a project I'm working on. He mis-spells my surname, scrambling the coda consonants. He notices me flinching at the mis-spelling, and corrects himself. He then compares it to "uh, a Persian king yah", hears me laugh, and looks up at me: "what -- no?"

"It's just a name," I said. I don't want to go into the extended history of the consonant sequence, which derives from an old name for one of the Hebrew tribes. It's anglo-homophonous, but not anglo-orthographically identical to the name he's thinking of, nor is it ortho-identical to a certain even-numbered science-fiction sequel. He turns back to the phone. I turn back to my terminal.

"No, I don't think so," he says after a moment. I turn back. He looks up -- "No, I don't think he's Vietnamese," he says to the phone. I sip some coffee, and go back to work.


trochee: (Default)

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