alexr_rwx: (Default)
You know, I logged out of Twitter a few days ago to support the #WomenBoycottTwitter thing, and I can't bring myself to log back in.

I think it's been pretty good for my mood. It just seems like a constant stream of anxiety-fuel, that site.

Feeling pretty calm, which is nice. Weird.
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Self care is my "Venetian Snares Radio" station while wrapping up the last "hard" programming task for my dissertation work, uh, as far as I know.

It is the sound of bodying everything (both everything in particular and in general) in ways that were not previously considered conceivable. It is the sonic equivalent of what "deep fried" memes are trying to get at.

Dole out that harshness, let's go.

my hobby

Sep. 12th, 2017 10:08 pm
alexr_rwx: (mighty penguin)
... is calisthenics done while holding the small mammals that live in the house. They're currently all in the 10-16 pound range, but I understand that one of them is going to keep getting bigger...

... so like... expect me to get extraordinarily strong.
alexr_rwx: (mighty penguin)
I don't want to alarm anybody, but my rad mother got a specific mention in the Broadway World review of the show she's currently running (going for two more weekends, I think??), despite having a relatively small part. She's just that good.

Lenoir Brewer's Margaret proved it's always a good idea to keep an eye on characters who seem to be minor initially.

Keep on rockin', mom.

(they're doing Dolly Parton's 9 to 5)
alexr_rwx: (Default)
You know who's inspiring? MF DOOM.

Go read his origin story.

After the death of his brother, Dumile retreated from the hip hop scene from 1994 to 1997, living "damn near homeless, walking the streets of Manhattan, sleeping on benches". In the late 1990s, he left New York City and settled in Atlanta. According to interviews with Dumile, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him".

DOOM. The supa villain.

We have probably not been wounded as badly as he has. That does not mean we can't rise up and take (metaphorical) (lyrical) revenge.

Unrelatedly, I was talking with my therapist today about thinking about my PhD process like one might think about personal loss.
alexr_rwx: (Default)



... so many business plans. Almost all of them quite bad.


Aug. 2nd, 2017 09:36 pm
alexr_rwx: (removal of signs)
You know how there's two kinds of dishwashing liquid, right. The kind you put in the dishwasher, and the kind you use for washing dishes by hand. And you know how if you mix them up and put the wash-by-hand kind in the dishwasher, you get suds all over your kitchen floor.

WHAT WE DO: rename these to "Type A" and "Type B" dishwashing liquids, and make sure the packaging is otherwise identical. Same logos, and all companies that make one will be required to make both.

NOW: all you have to do, when you go to wash some dishes, is remember which one was which. Occasionally, at irregular intervals, the meaning of "TYPE A" and "TYPE B" will be flipped, industry-wide.

There you go. That one's on the house.
alexr_rwx: (pace)
OK OK OK so if Sylvia gets into long-distance running (which, y'know, I won't push her to do, but both Lindsey and I have been fairly into it) and eventually wants to do a marathon...

... most people don't do such a thing until they're in their 20s. Say 25 would be a sensible age for first marathon. This isn't the kind of thing that you should reasonably do as a teenager, as I understand it.

This means, for me to go with her, I'm going to have to run a marathon at 60.

And *that* means lots of gentle running over many years, from here on out. No more getting hurt. Just some gentle, modest mileage, most days.

Let's do this.
alexr_rwx: (mighty penguin)
Born this afternoon, 5:40pm :D (one week past her projected due date)

Everybody's fine!

Sylvia's a pretty big baby, and labor took a really long time! Lindsey is incredibly tough.

I'll let Lindsey tell the story when she's feeling up to it.

Our midwives were super great.

I'm pretty elated :D :D
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Lindsey's gone into labor. Midwife is here.

Let's rock.

(this could take quite some time)
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Before today, there were no Google hits for "cybergoth midwifery" or even "cybergoth midwife".

BUSINESS PLAN. We're claiming it. Unlike my other rad business plans, we're keeping this one. No scooping us, per favore.

"Please put on these fake dreadlocks, these superfluous goggles, and these stompy boots. It is time to deliver a baby."
alexr_rwx: (Default)
So I had a bit of a really awful emotional episode a few weeks ago. My anxiety got the better of me, and my belly was really clenched up and I was pretty much overcome with freakouts. Work seemed impossible, the world seemed doomed and hardly worth saving anyway, all noises were a billion needles in my soul. I hated myself more than anything. My laziness, my seemingly deteriorating body, my inability to make progress on meaningful things, in terms of personal projects, or in academia, or in my career...

So... yeah! Good times.

But! I got a therapist. Some counseling comes with work health care (super fortunate), and this has helped immensely. I really like my counselor a lot, and she's giving me really great simple advice, and I've felt way better. The advice is just like "go running more!" and "get a mindfulness practice; have you tried the Headspace app?" -- "read this self-help book!" ... just taking that step of getting some professional help was huge. It made me feel way more in control of my brain. So that's huge. I've felt much, much better since then.

Other things! Alec came through for a work trip, and we got to hang out a bunch! That was really nice. We went running and talked about life and work and language and video games, as we're likely to do.

And for the long weekend, Martin has been here for most of it! So wonderful to get to hang out with him :D We went for long walks, we baked (banana bread and vegan meringues!), and we tried out OCTODAD: DADLIEST CATCH. I heartily recommend this game. I also heartily recommend hanging out with Martin, when he's in the country.

Also we hung out with Tim and his son Ezra! They're pretty great. Ezra's getting lanky. And eloquent. He's almost five.

Almost baby time. We're getting close. I'll work one or maybe two more weeks, then just take vacation until we have child in hand <3 Though it could be any day now.
alexr_rwx: (Default)
One thing I'm pumped about is small children. This is especially salient, because, y'know, we're going to have one on hand soon.

Two interesting interactions with small children recently.

- We went to go look at a daycare today, for, y'know, our upcoming small child. And the daycare looks like a super nice situation for small children; really chill, with tiny little chairs for them to sit on (once they can sit up!), and for kids who go to the day care for a long time, they stick with the same kids and the same teachers for as long as they're there.

So we're checking out the area for the youngest kids, and a tiny little child come crawling over to me, super interested. I crouch down and look at the kid, and they offer their tiny little hands in a very clear "please hold my hands" gesture. So I hold up my two hands, index fingers up, and the kid hefts themselves up from a crawl to standing!

This looked like a person very new to standing (even with assistance), but they handled it like a champ!

- This past Sunday, I was getting some shoes at SportsTowne Shoe Center. And I'm sitting there, trying some on. And this tiny little boy, maybe 3 years old, is climbing all over the shoe-area furniture. It's extremely adorable.

His dad was there, but this little boy looks right at me, and he's got this little ball, like a mock rubber baseball, and he gestures that he's going to toss it to me.

So he does! And I'm in a sporting goods store, playing catch with a stranger's three year old :3 He was so friendly and fearless. Just goes up to a random stranger who doesn't look like his family (they might have been... Filipino, if I had to guess?) and immediately makes friends and starts playing catch. Except that he really couldn't catch the ball yet, because small child! But he was all over trying to do it!

That's the kind of interaction I want to have with people.
alexr_rwx: (Default)
I got an email from a student at IU, recently. I'd met him briefly while I was at Indiana; he'd just started his PhD, but then we moved out to California. He'd been turned down from a Google internship, and wanted to know if I could see his interview feedback to help him figure out what went wrong in the interview.

I can't see his interview feedback. But I *can* harsh on him unnecessarily about IU and professors there and dying academic labs, such as the one that I came from and the one in which I suspect he's currently toiling away the best years of his life...

Here's what I wrote. I think these questions should be posed to early-stage grad students at middling state universities, broadly.

Hey $NAME,

Even if I'd referred you, I still couldn't see the interview feedback! It's really super secret.

Oh man, time flies. Your fourth year already!

How's it going with $PROFESSOR? His lab didn't seem all that active when I was around, but maybe things are picking up?

Really sorry -- this is about to get more real than you might have expected. I don't really know your situation or what your current research interests are like, but in retrospect I think I probably should have switched advisors to somebody with a healthier lab, back in my 3rd or 4th year. I should have asked myself "OK, is $MYADVISOR teaching you things? Are his other students graduating in a reasonable time? Are they publishing in good venues? Do they work together and hang out? Is he teaching you how to be an academic in the current environment? Is he paying you to do research that will help you graduate? ..."

... and at least when I was around, $MYADVISOR's group didn't have good answers for any of those questions. In fact, nobody in computational linguistics or in knowledge-based AI had good answers for any of those. $MYADVISOR's students seemed like they were getting strung along for years, never publishing in any good venues and then never graduating. They just burned out eventually and faded away. $MYADVISOR never had any grants to pay me, and he never seemed to try very hard to get grants to pay me. I put up with it at the time, because I'm apparently not very smart, but you'll note that I still haven't graduated.

So I hope the situation's improved with $PROFESSOR -- maybe he's publishing a lot and you're on those papers! But you seem to be doing a lot of
TAing. You should ask yourself if this situation is OK, and if it's going to help you get where you want to go.

There *are* labs at IU where they're doing good work, getting money, publishing all over the place. Fil Menczer's group, who I worked for briefly, because I needed to get paid and $MYADVISOR had no money, seemed/seems like one of the healthiest and happiest at IU. I'm sure there are other good ones.

Ha, yeaaahhhh. That was pretty real.

On a more cheerful note, hooray for your upcoming wedding :D Best wishes!

one upside

Jan. 19th, 2017 11:37 pm
alexr_rwx: (Default)
... is that now we've got some pretty good moral clarity going. We know what we have to do.

I think we got this. I think we're not doomed. Not because this isn't a bad situation, but because we're realizing how bad it is and we can take corrective actions.

I love all of you <3

The world has changed quite a lot, and in many ways I think for the better. We don't have to go back -- we can push things forward!

Take care of yourselves! Talk to me; I'd appreciate it <3
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Looking back on my 2016 posts, I haven't been writing here a lot.

Like probably a lot of people, I spent a lot of the year kind of freaking out. Especially towards the end, for the obvious and non-unique reasons. People can be so awful. We have to push back.

For most of the year, I wasn't running a lot. But I got back into it towards the end.

I played a whole lot of video games, I think in large part to self-medicate.

I didn't make a lot of progress on my dissertation. I made some, but I need to get it done.

I need to get more OK with myself. I need to do more reading and programming and working out.

Writing is probably a pretty good way to check in with myself.

Oh, also this has become, uh, pretty relevant:


Sep. 1st, 2016 09:58 pm
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Birthday! :D

I got so many really nice wishes, including from lots of friends I don't hear from all that often. <3 for everybody.

My mom came to visit! She and Anthony are here for about a week, so that's great.

I spent a lot of the day kind of freaking out at work, though, and I got some kind of ill that I don't really understand. Maybe stress-related, or maybe I ate something wrong.

I've been in a little bit of a freakout mode for kind of a while, and I need to take better care of myself. But I'm working on it.

This year, I wanna be healthy, in all the various ways that a person might be healthy. Work in progress.

(since last time I wrote, Lindsey and I did the ICFP Contest again! code here: )

(also I cycled up to the city with my coworkers, two weekends ago. because we're beastly \m/ )
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Evening run along Evelyn, Sunnyvale/Mountain View area. I stop at a light, because, y'know, Law-Abiding Citizen. There's a couple on big, comfortable cruiser bicycles.

He says to her, "oh, see if you can catch that guy!"

I grin. My inner engine revs. There is absolutely nothing better than outrunning a cyclist.

I glance over. They're looking at their phones.

alexr_rwx: (Default)
Some things that help me feel a lot better:

- Playing Rock Band, both on my own and with Lindsey! Leveling up at drumming. I used to do a lot of this, but we fell off for some reason...

- I'd better git gud at drumming, because I seem to have gotten volunteered to play drums for the not-church band...

We've been going to Sunday Assembly, this thing that's basically church, but secular. Not, like, explicitly atheist, but pretty much church-for-atheists. Not sure if you knew this about me, but I used to really enjoy church; I *like* getting together with people to sing songs and hear an interesting talk. It's just that I figured out I didn't believe in god, y'know? But I used to be really involved with church, back when I believed; some of my best high school memories were running sound and occasionally drumming or playing horns for the band at rock 'n' roll church. Mom was in the band; they were *great*. Like legitimately really great music.

Anyway, we've been going to this Not Church for a year or so, and the music has been gradually improving with the Not Church rock 'n' roll band. But the current drummer is moving out of the country, and nobody else stepped up, so Lindsey seems to have volunteered me...

- We've been doing some yoga. This is *really* good for me, and it's good to have a thing we can do together. And I'm easing back into running.

I've been a little bit hurt; my tendons haven't been in great shape. I've been slightly injured off and on for a while now. Gotta run gently and gradually ramp up, so it's sustainable.

... so this is all things that I've done, at one time or another, but haven't been doing recently.

Important to remind myself: these are things that are good for me. Invest in doing them.
alexr_rwx: (Default)
Maaaan. Everything seems dumb and hopeless recently.

I need to get some *wins* somewhere. I need to take better care of myself. I feel lonely a lot, and like I'm not making progress on anything useful.

It's not totally obvious what I've got to *contribute*, either.


I did have a really nice visit with my dad recently, over the 4th weekend. We cycled from the house to Google and looked around and ate lunch. We visited with his siblings, who were visiting to see our relatives who live up in wine country. (their uncle and aunt; he's my grandmother's little brother) ... it was nice to see the family.


I need to feel like I'm making progress. I feel like I'm kind of spinning my wheels, and I get freaked out about living and working here, often.

The Bay Area makes me freak the hell out. I feel terrible about it, but I often can't make myself go up to the city. SF is really stressful, getting to SF is really stressful, *being* in SF is really stressful, being invited to things and then laming out is really stressful. It's dumb as hell and I hate this about myself. I should just person up and fuckin' go to the city. (nb: I am more than happy to go to the city if it's to see your artistic performance or whatever, or for your party, if you're important to me.)

... I wish I didn't have to live here. The whole situation seems immoral; there's no water here, there are eight zillion people who want to live here, traffic is ludicrous, the public transit is mediocre. At least in the South Bay it's not like I took somebody's rent-controlled apartment, and I can usually ride my bike to get around.

Also Martin has, just today, gotten on a plane to Spain. Lauryn will leave soon too :-\

... I miss everybody.

... I started reading SuperBetter recently; I should get back into that. I think it was pretty helpful.
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