Sunday, December 21, 2008


Clearly being in Detroit has stunted my ability to make posts on here. Seriously, I completely thought that the post dated Friday had been made Saturday and thus I didn't have to post yesterday... yeahhhh, that's so NOT full of fail. Rack me up with two more posts to make up.

Yesterday I went shopping for wayyyy too long with my mom and sister, and purchased some Christmas gifts for family and for my Babcia to give me (don't tell her, I'm getting a suit!). Today was a Christmas party at my aunt's house and a bowling party at the bowling alley of a family friend. My dad's trying to teach me about bowling and I think it's working, although trying to make a ball without a weight block hook is painful and strangely like parry four.

Tomorrow there are exciting things to be done- my friends from my high school physics club are coming to my house for a party. It will be teh awesome. However this means I need to cleannnn meh.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoot! I missed one!

Well, I have a decent excuse for missing yesterday's post- I wasn't anywhere near a computer from 8 am until 1 am the next day, and then I was obviously rather tired. I went to work and sorted fasteners, then to Water Street to hang out for a little, then to my friend Eric's house in Northville to hang out with Eric, Sarah, and some of their high school gaming friends. I tried playing a paladin which was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be, particularly since two of the party members had missed the "I'm a paladin and hence LAWFUL GOOD and not allowed to associate with evil people like, hmm, ASSASSINS." Yeah, that was fun. Also found an area in Die Vecna Die that my character in the other campaign will love... library library library alchemy lab library. She'll just fall over in lust with it.

Um this is totally incoherent. I'm knitting my sister's christmas present- socks to wear with flats- and I'll write up the pattern. They're snazzy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I Intended To Post About Yesterday

I have a few "best friends", well, two to be exact. That would be Eol and Pat, and they both get talked about today.

I sent off my Christmas package to Eol earlier this week, and when I came home from the post office what should I find on my porch but a Christmas gift from Pat.


Candy, a bath poof, new fingerless mitts (very soft and comfy!), an adorable little coin pouch that is now being used to hold my hair clips (I'm growing my hair out, at least this week. I'm debating it still, I may show up at school in January with a chin-length bob or with a spiky punky pixie. Still haven't decided which.)

Oh, and yarn. Soft, pretty, fair-trade alpaca yarn.

There was only one thing left to do...


Pull out some Lana Grossa from the stash and my new Hiya Hiyas and put them into my suitcase:


To take home with me for two weeks. Off to Detroit tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I forgot to blog today! I was in bed with my contacts out, about to go to sleep...

So, have a lolstar.


(This is from when my friend Matt and I were talking about how a supernova becomes a black hole. Basically, when a very large star becomes very old, its core collapses, starting an explosion into a supernova. You really get very little warning about when this is going to happen- the last stages can take a matter of days, which is really pathetically short on a galactic scale. So as far as we can predict from our position here on Earth, a large, old star really does just go, "hai i go splody nao 'k?")

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another half-assed blogpost due to late night shenanigans.

Today, I returned to Kalamazoo in anticipation of working two or three more days in the physics department before I go back to Detroit for two weeks to hang out with my family and enjoy Christmasy things.

I made another ballband dishcloth while playing Monopoly from 7 to oh, about now... with Joel, John, Chrissy, and Lisa. It's a bit shorter than the others but I doubt anyone will care, even if they notice. That leaves me with three more dishcloths and footie socks before Christmas, plus some homemade candy/cookies. My knitting/baking ability is much greater than my ability to buy storebought presents, so I might as well.

I got a fantastic package in the mail today, but I will wait to post about it tomorrow because one: I need to unpack my camera and two: I'm tired and want to go to sleep instead. Until tomorrow!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Back in Detroit again- this time to see Wicked at the Detroit Opera House! Slick, slick musical... musically I think it was almost TOO slick! Anyhow, my semi-educated review of the production:

Set: EEEEEEEEEEE GIANT DRAGON AND GEARS AND STEEL AND GEARS AND DRAGONNNNNNNN. (translation: the part of Jax's brain that still works in the scene shop had an orgasm over this set. It was awesome, still can't believe it's for a touring production.)

Music: Well, it was well-done. I can't fault any of the musicians, and I love the writer of the show for having a main character whose part is accessible to contraltos (a.k.a. ME!) However, it felt more like an opera- the music was driving the story, and was the story. I love me some opera, but it didn't feel right for a Musical, y'know?

Favorite songs: "Dancing Through Life", "Popular" (who DOESN'T love that song!? It's kind of a cliche now but I enjoy), "Defying Gravity"

Surprised I didn't like: "As Long As You're Mine" - I knew what to expect here, given that I was able to sing Fiyero's part on it while hearing the song for the first time in Laura's car. The staging was just AWKWARD. You can't really stay in one position feeling each other up on stage while still being in a good position to project your singing.

I was lukewarm about the rest of the songs, but the way they came together was awesome. Whenever the ensemble got involved, things got overbusy.

Knitting: Have finished another ballband dishcloth.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Knitting!

Well, I might as well fess up... I procrastinated on my Christmas knitting. It was going so well- I'd knocked off three presents really quickly... then I just stopped.

I did finish some presents for my friends on time, like this dicebag for Socialist Rob:

Photo 22

And now I'm in the endless purgatory of Ballband Facecloths. They're actually Ballband Dishcloths, but I'm calling them facecloths in hope that people won't be like "eww dishcloth", and packaging them with some handmade soap.


I still have to start my sister's footie socks, which are annoying because I have to make up said pattern as I go along. Looks like this blog might be getting a pattern! Also I have to fix my mom's scarf... I'll grab it on my way out the door tomorrow morning and fix it at home, I suppose.

Three dishcloths down, three to go on the yarn I have, possibly two more. Just keep knitting, just keep knitting...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Migraine and a Dream

I had a terrible migraine today, so my day was shot- I woke up around 9, thinking "crap, I left my phone downstairs, I'm up an hour past my- OW OW HEAD NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT". Got downstairs somehow, took a Relpax, slept for another hour, dragged self downstairs again, took another. Then waited. By about one my headache was mostly gone but I felt really, really tired. Still do, in fact, but I'm blaming that on it being nighttime.

Last night I had a dream, and I don't remember the details, but I do remember it involving leaving Budapest. I dug back into my iPhoto to find photos from February 29, the day before I left, and found this one:


The Parliament building, overlooking the Danube (or as I want to say, the Duna).

Knitting content: an epic yarn barf.


The yarn is Laines du Nord Cashsilk, in the poetic colorway 676. It's being knit into a narrow version of the Lace Ribbon Scarf, from Spring 2008 Knitty. I have three more ittybitty skeins of this, and although I got them at the bargain price of $4 a ball, they're also only 25 g per ball. Normally, these little suckers are $10. Hey, I'm getting a $40 scarf for $16, but if it wasn't so orgasmically, must-put-around-my-neck-NOW soft, I would be marveling at how much I'm spending on a project of a type I normally hate. Yeah, I hate scarves. But this one is SOFFFFT.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bah, humbug.

I'm not exactly in the Christmas spirit right now- mostly exhaustion- and it's probably mostly due to Christmas music. I hate Christmas music- well, that's a lie. I hate THAT KIND of Christmas music. The kind that gets played on those 24-7 Christmas stations and sucks really, really hard.

Hence, this really made my day.

Nine Inch Noels.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So I end up at home.

Today consists of a greeting from sisterpants. She says,



I spent today in Detroit, getting a neurological evaluation done. Surprise! I have migraines! Not like I didn't know this, but it was reassuring getting everything scarier ruled out by the awesome Dr. Mitsias, and I get a proper prescription for my migraines now! Three cheers for that- I'm going to go on Relpax, which is in the same family as Zomig and Imitrex. Zomig was the medicine of doom that wrecked my shoulders, Imitrex is the one you've probably heard of. Relpax falls between them in strength and speed so hopefully it will be a happy medium.

I got to see my little bro play basketball, and hung out with my good friend Megan. We stalked Michael's and Jo Ann's looking for sock yarns (verdict: Heart and Sole patterns have hit SE Michigan, Michael's also carries Kroy Sock). We also went to One World Market, a Japanese grocery store in Novi. I got dashi... tea bags, and rice crackers, and INARI~~~~~ I love me some inari. Also socks at Hot Topic. Don't laugh, they're warm, comfy, and knee-high, so I can wear them fencing. You'll eventually get pictures of me kicking Rob's ass while wearing knee-high socks with skulls on.

Bayerische proceeds. I also spent a good part of my day thinking about why you can't map a circle to a straight line in a linear vector space. I'll talk a little about that problem when I get back to my whiteboard :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"What we need is a LASER CAGE." - Socialist Rob

I'm working for the physics department over the next two weeks, in the optics lab. I was an optics tech over the summer, which was a ton of fun, so this was sort of a reminisce. Except not. I mean, look at this.


This is a monochromator. This is what people used to make monochromatic light before we had lasers. BEFORE LASERS SERIOUSLY WHY DO WE HAVE THIS!?

Reason my job is occasionally tolerable: I built these!


With the addition of a laser, these become interferometers. The near one is a Michelson interferometer, the far one is a Mach-Zehnder interferometer. They're pretty much awesome.

Reason I feel accomplished: the optics went from this (only worse):


to this:


in the course of four hours. It still makes me deeply sad that I had to label a good half of the large boxes "historical optics", because that means we don't have nearly enough modern optics.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My brain has been eaten by a sock.

Originally uploaded by thejunkyardbard
I was going to write about cooking today because I made yummeh foodz.

Instead, I knit on my Bayerische Sock. A lot.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Since when is this a graph theory blog?

So I posted a picture of South America that I could instantly see had way more colors on it than it actually needed. How do I know this? My friends, let me tell you the way of... graph theory.

Having all those funny-shaped countries isn't convenient at all, now is it? Wouldn't it be nicer if they were easier to deal with... say, points?


Let's give Brazil some friends.


Here's where the math comes in- we're going to draw lines if there's a "symmetric relationship" between the two points. In this case, my symmetric relationship is "borders". You can't share a border with someone without having them border you, so I just draw a straight line (more about this at the end).


Now, we can see the essence of the problem. Color in the points such that no points with a line between them are the same color.


(This took me a few stops and starts- note that I forgot a few borders in the first frame, and that Argentina should be black, not green).

I ended up with this, and wasn't able to reduce any further.

Thus, you need four colors to color this map of South America.


The Math:

This is actually a pretty famous problem - the Four Color Theorem. It's generally held that the maximum number you need to color any map is 4, although as the Wiki article says, it was proved by computer so ymmv. Or, mathematically, "the chromatic number of any planar graph is less than or equal to 4."


In this smaller case, I used a branch of mathematics called graph theory. Graph theory runs on vertices and edges: a graph is defined to be a collection of vertices V and edges E, [V,E]. You can also have a directed graph, or "digraph", of vertices V and arcs A, [V,A]. Digraphs don't make much sense in the context of this problem, but they're fun to think about and maybe I'll put up a teaser about them later.


The main concept I used to color South America is chromatic number. It's possible to force a graph to be colored with as many as n-1 colors, where n is the number of vertices; however, the chromatic number (the squiggly X is called a "xi", pronounced "khi") is the least number of colors needed. Given that there exist cycles in the graph of South America, you need at least three; in fact, before I drew in the borders between Argentina and Paraguay, the graph was three-colorable.

They see me provin', contradictin', inductin' and making base cases, writing proofs...

Today I took the Putnam exam and it went a LOT better than I thought it would. For those of you not in the loop, the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition consists of 12 questions, 10 points each, over six hours. The median and mode score are both a big fat 0. So, getting any points means you're a gangsta mathematician. I totally rocked one question- it was about n-gons, or polygons with n sides, and the look on Dr. Fink's face when I told him I solved it with derivatives was priceless.

Math: it's pretty darn cool. Here's a little brain teaser for everyone, just to show you how awesome math is...

Here's a map of South America. Look at all the colors!

Let's say I wanted to save on color printing by reducing the number of colors used in this map. How many colors do I need to use so that no one country is colored next to another?

I'll give you guys an answer and a proof tomorrow. :)

Now for actual knitting content.

This is Lisa. Lisa lives with me in our big blue house (photos forthcoming).

These are Lisa's mittens. Paton's Classic Wool Merino on my trusty size 4 DPNs, super soft and lofty, knit up really fast and pretty and for $5, and even better... she loves them! She treats them like they're made of solid gold and it truly warms my heart.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holidailies: Day 1

Evidently Michigan needs to get its act together. I woke up this morning and it's snowed. Again. I mean, I like snow. I didn't see much of it last year since Europe was freakishly warm. However, this is getting ridiculous.

So I'm done with finals and have moved on to a position as part-time physics lackey. Between now and when I go home for Christmas, I'm going to be organizing physics labs, painting stuff, organizing outings for next quarter, and probably doing more paperwork than I've ever wanted to see, ever.

Also I just found out I got Honors on my SIP! For those of you who aren't in the K Bubble, my college (Kalamazoo College) requires every senior (that's me) to do a Senior Individualized Project. This is a large and impressive-looking paper. I did a 2-unit summer SIP- the rarest kind, because mostly you get one credit per term worked on a SIP.

I can't find my camera cable, so knitting pics after I get the Putnam done tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh, the holidays.

I spent a very worthwhile few days at home, sleeping, eating Polish food, and getting through one of my final papers, all of my grad school applications (yay!) and rereading the book for my other final paper. Yesterday, I drove home from Detroit to Kalamazoo, in the icky yucky snow which evidently sent the fear of God into everyone on I94 and backed up for miles with no evident reason, and wrote my other paper. Two classes down, one class, one hearing, and one thesis defense to go. If I ever convince myself to get out of bed, I'm going to take my laptop over to the bagel place, nosh on a delicious bagel and drink some coffee, and spend about an hour getting my thesis defense together. Then, back to the house to snag my trumpet and go warm up for my hearing at 11:30, then to the library for more preparation with a break for a health center appointment at 1.

Because I am mildly crazy, I am going to be doing Holidailies. Watch me add the button now. Anyhow, the point is to write every day between Dec 5 and January 6. Since I normally write about my knitting, I may have to actually knit things between then too. Essentially it's Nanowrimo for those of us who are too busy in November and too ADD anyway. Hopefully it'll all be awesome 'n stuff!