Monday, January 24, 2005

From the Post At Google, Not Quite Partying Like It's 1999: "Google still throws a mean party."

Two feet of snow.

One of those times I'm glad I don't have a car. Posted by Hello

Snow! Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Singapore and back again

Twenty-four hours is a long time to spend travelling on planes and through airports. After the first couple naps, I completely lost track of what time it was, and my watch telling me it was three in the morning while it was still light outside didn't help matters. I had short layovers in Chicago and Hong Kong going both ways, so it's not as if I was stuck in my seat the whole time, and I had plenty of reading material, so I wasn't particularly bored. But the immensity of the time it took to get from A to B was just kind of draining.

And what did I do there? Mostly, I worked. My main accomplishment was giving a presentation to 30-ish National University of Singapore people on the work I've been doing, and the design issues that still need decisions. It seemed to go over pretty well. I got a little less feedback than I would have liked, and a a lot of what we got was about the fundamental decisions made 5-10 years ago that we're building off of, but Charles jumped in to answer those so I wasn't on the spot.

Just writing the slides was probably helped me more than the presentation did. Now that I've been forced to crystallize and clarify some of my ideas, it's easier to think about what's left to do. Charles agreed that I can use presentation's outline to start writing my thesis, so by the time he gets back in about a month, hopefully I'll have a draft of something written up.

That was last Monday. For the rest of the week (while everyone else was busy with their presentations), I just worked on coding. Lots of coding. And debugging. And thinking. But the artificial deadline of my flight home put me under pressure to focus and keep working, which was a good thing.

I also learned that 4:10am is very early to leave for the airport, but I could have guessed that beforehand. I was lucky to even have a cab--when I tried calling the night before, it turned out the call wasn't free like I'd told it would be, and I didn't have a phone card. I asked the first NUS student I saw what I should do, and (after he lent me a phone card and I got to hold for ten minutes) it turned out his dad is a cab driver and was working the early morning shift that night. So he called him instead, and I got my cab reservation. (The driver even knew where the dorm was, unlike every other driver I had.)

We did get off campus a few times while I was there. Once to the bird park, where I took a few nice pictures (and a lot of bad ones). Once to the East Coast Park, which was the only time I saw the ocean (or at least the harbor). We ate at a seafood restaurant where they pulled the fish out of the tank right in front of you, and we rode the most satisfying bumper cars I can remember being in. We also went out shopping one morning, where we got lots of obscure fruits and a package of durian wafers (which we tasted once and then left sealed in a bag), among other things. And I got a laptop mouse so I wouldn't have to use the thinkpad eraser-head for two weeks straight.

And that's it for adventures in Asia. I got back Friday afternoon in the middle of Mystery Hunt. There's not much to say about that, besides that we finally won. I was too tired and off-schedule to help with too much, and mostly just stared at the same metapuzzle for the 16 hours we were stuck on it. Now the people in charge of the team get to figure out how to put together a writing team with people who will actually write a good hunt, and at the same time not kill each other.

Since then I've been mostly taking it easy. Some work on campus (though everyone else is still in Singapore), some work at home, some unpacking and laundry, some reading. A lot of playing with my pictures in the new Picasa. I may even post a few of them sometime.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A quiet break

I've been at home in Virginia the past couple weeks. Resting, mostly. With the Singapore trip coming up, I don't feel obligated to go out and Do Things while I'm here, so I've spent more time just sitting around than I have in a while. And it's been nice.

I did go out and see people a couple times. I went into TJ the Wednesday before Christmas, for the alumni reception. It's the first time since I graduated that it's been after MIT got out, so I thought I'd stop by and see who would show up. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people there were from the past couple years, but I did see three other people from my year. And of course I went and visited teachers up and down the Math hall (and ran into a bunch of other mostly-MIT people doing the same thing).

Chirstmas came and went, with my big presents being a new battery for my laptop (30-45 minutes with the old one just wasn't enough) and a set of Knuth's Art of Computer Programming.

I got down to the Corcoran Gallery in D.C. to see their Gehry exhibit. He's designing their new wing (due in 2009), so they put on an exhibit of other museums he's designed. They all looked basically the same as Stata--big shiny jumbled wavy silver shapes. But I still kind of like that look, and it was interesting to see all of the models together.

Today, I went and visited some friends living in D.C. and lost at Illuminatti, again.

I actually got a lot of work done here too, in small fragments at a time. I finished off the LSC job descriptions I started revising in May, just in time for my term to end on December 31. There was also time for a few small fixes to jCilk, but nothing substantial. And I, um, looked at the HMMT registration software...

But mostly, I rested. Read a lot, played with the new iPod that Google sent me, watched some movies on tape. And slept. I feel better than I have in a while, and I'm motivated to go get some work done over the next few weeks. We'll see how long that lasts.