Sunday, July 26, 2009

last week of the last class

EVER! I can't quite believe it. It is starting to sink in that I really need to do a presentation Tuesday, and that I have a paper to write for Friday. eep. Hopefully it will go fast in that magic way where at least I have done all the reading for it, and my brain has been mulling it all over for a few weeks. (My topic is information cascades. My problem is that I don't really have a conclusion, just "This is what they are. Here are some things we could try to model with them." No conclusive feel on whether these are helpful models or anything..)

So I'm spending the weekend trying to get funky unix programs to draw game trees installed, and baking blondies so that I can bribe the class to pay attention to my presentation. :)

I have lots and lots of things to do for my research (and in the immediate term, say early Sept., my thesis proposal) but I really can't do them until I'm done with this class and my brain unwinds a little bit.

One of my tomato plants is going totally nuts: 20+ fruit already, and more flowers going. The other has _1_ lonely fruit, but a few more flowers, so we'll see. Does days to maturity mean from the time they become fruit? 65 days is forever! It looks like some squirrels dug up all but one of the onions. Left them lying around complete with little teethmarks. The strawberry plants are getting bigger, but no sign that they are interested in bearing fruit.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SIAM Annual Meeting

I spent most of the last 5 days wandering around the convention center and watching math talks that were way over my head. (Somehow I also managed to go to judo once, work one afternoon, make it to my class and do most of my homework. I am BEAT.)

There was a career fair Monday night, which combined with meeting lots and lots of about-to-graduate PhDs, gave me way too much food for thought about what I want to be when I grow up. I didn't meet anyone else who was working (not counting the one guy from our school - I didn't meet anyone NEW to me who was working.) Things I had never thought about before: there are non-academic jobs that still have to do grant proposals. There's a whole network of national labs that work on anything they can get the funding for - but that involves a LOT of chasing the funding. I am even more amazed at how many government and government contracting jobs there are out there. (and how they are ALL in the D.C. area.) I met _4_ people from real industry, and 2 of them work for IBM.

I can feel my brain slowly sorting out the talks and making connections to things people I know are working on. So my brain still hurts, but I don't feel as dumb as I was for most of the week. :)

Things that are going to be really really big over the next 5 years:
  • parallel computing
  • multiscale dynamical systems (example: modeling both how the bacteria act within a person and the social networks that have them moving between people)
  • techniques for insanely big datasets
  • measuring uncertainty (there's a fancier word for it that I'm not remembering right now)
It was very much not a statistics conference. I met one person who actually identified as a statistician. It was funny to me how much talk there was about how they wanted greater interconnection within the math community, but how stats does not seem to be part of that community. (Computer Science is though.)

Now my poor brain has to do game theory homework (the last talk I saw seemed to be about proving that the next homework I have due will be harder than the last one. Seriously. ) and try to start on a game theory paper.

sourdough sleep

The starter went into the fridge last Sunday, right after a feeding, and I pulled it back out Friday evening. I let it come to room temperature, then planned to feed it as normal. But the top layer was kind of a funky color (grey-blue tinge) and the smell was a little off, so I scraped off the top layer, moved half to a clean jar and fed it. This morning it looked/smelled fine, and I started a batch of sourdough. I'm sure I'll report back on true rise time.

UPDATE: on a warm summer day - takes 7 hours to rise

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sourdough Status

(sorry, I gotta put this somewhere or I'll just forget it all.)

Weirdness: I think my starter doesn't like all purpose flour. Within two feedings of switching to all-p it starts smelling bad and separating and looking gross. Stick to whole wheat and it smells like tangy bread. Tried twice, once with new flour that I was sure was unbleached. Science says stick with whole wheat.

I think that was what I was smelling with the first round of sandwich bread from it. This week I made another batch - all whole wheat starter, added 1/2 c dry milk. I can taste a slight tang to tell me it came from sourdough and not tame yeast, but it's slight enough that pb&j's don't taste weird on it.

I'm going to make one more batch Sunday, and then try to put the starter to sleep in the fridge.

Happy Independence Day!

For a change, we actually have plans for the Fourth: some friends are coming over and braving the city's festivities at a park we can walk to (chili cookoff!) and then there's some other friends are throwing a party this evening. (It's kind of strange being old enough to have people you know from work that have moved on YEARS ago.)

My birthday was Tuesday. It was good - but because I am really good at spreading it out. Tuesdays I have 2.5 hours of Game Theory, an hour roundtrip spent on the bus, 4 hours of work, and judo. So:

Saturday I tried to modify Ruth Reichl's fantastic cheesecake recipe (from Garlic and Sapphires if the book weren't so funny, I'd be telling people to go get it at the library just for the recipes) into an espresso cheesecake reminiscent of Cafe Brazil. Plain layer, coffee flavored layer, mocha flavored layer. Good, but then the recipe calls for a sweet sour cream layer - too tart to play nice with the coffee flavors even though it was perfect with the lemon zest original. Next time: chocolate ganache layer! Also I'm totally going to start making cheesecake crust out of shortbread cookies.

Sunday we made Scallops St Jacques (yes, because the description sounded good in the first Spenser novel. yes, I'm a dork) and baked potatoes. Amazingly, baking the potatoes was the more finicky part. They take forever! and it's a pain to guess when they're done. The sauce was totally awesome and a great baked potato topper. Cooked scallops are still too fishy for me - they were ok, but not great. I picked them out and fed them to my obliging husband. The mushrooms really make the dish.

Tuesday I got promoted to a judo orange belt. Let's not talk about how incredibly insanely bad the test was - that seems to be the one part my club does really badly. At least I don't have to deal with it often.

Next week is an all-week math conference - conveniently located downtown. I also need to get cracking on my Game Theory paper (I think I have an idea for it.. ) and do something for my research. I should do another homework problem before people come over...