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Femion » Life

John’s Website

June 10th, 2008

I made John’s website pretty. Aren’t I the best girlfriend ever?

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Introduction to Summer

June 4th, 2008

Since I haven’t yet described exactly what I’m doing this summer, I think I’ll do it now. I’m subletting from one of my friends in my math classes, and living with four male friends who are all in engineering or physics in a house in a nice residential neighborhood of Halifax. I’m working as a clerk in a non-computerized post office (meaning I have to weigh and measure parcels, calculate the volumetric weight and then quote a price out of a binder! Now I know what my physics skills are useful for!). I vowed to never work retail again after my horrible experience in the smoke shop last year, but the post office is a better job. My customers are nicer - polite senior citizens and people from the medical offices upstairs rather than people addicted to pull-tab lottery tickets or who have lost their teeth from chewing tobacco. I’m getting paid a dollar more per hour than the smoke shop, and when it’s slow, which it quite frequently is, I’m allowed to sit in a little office and read. Most of my co-workers are also university students.

But that job’s nothing really to brag about.

Rutenberg, the prof I’ve been doing volunteer research for for the past year, told me yesterday that he will pay me to work for him this summer. This is despite not quite having the grades to get a summer research scholarship, and Rutenberg told me from the start that he probably wouldn’t be able to pay me. But I guess my hard work has paid off, and he’s managed to find the funds to pay me.

He’s assigned me to the project of programming a computer visualization of peptidoglycan exteriors in bacteria. I’ll be working with my friend and roommate Bobo, who was a co-author on my carbon nanotube paper.

So yeah. That’s what my summer looks like. Hanging out in Halifax with friends, working two jobs, one of which is a fun/nerdy computer programming one, cooking my own food and waiting for school to start up again.

In a previous e-mail my mother expressed concern that my diet was not very nutritionally rich. Here’s a list of the stuff I’ve cooked so far in order to dispel that idea:

Cabbage casserole
Beef stew
Chicken tetrazzini
Chicken broccoli stir fry
Lemon chicken
Beef tortillas

… and of course everything is accompanied by a salad or a side of vegetables.

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Huffman Encoding on a picture of David Huffman

May 8th, 2008

For my second term of honours linear algebra, I wrote a paper on JPEG image compression. I was only supposed to write it about DCT and quantization, but reading about the steps involved in JPEG encoding, I found out that some JPEGs are encoded using Huffman encoding as a final step, and I figured I should include that in my paper out of respect for my genes. I even used a scan of an image of me and Uncle David together to compare images with Huffman compression and without.

I realize that I probably got a lot of technical things wrong in this paper, but in my defence, I’m a physics major, not a comp sci major, and I stayed up until 4 in the morning the night before handing it in to finish it. Regardless, after handing it in, my professor responded with an e-mail that read “Congratulations on your project. It is very good.” and I think it’s the reason I got an A in that class despite nearly failing the midterm.

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How to move without a car

May 5th, 2008

I am moved into my home for the summer. It’s a nice big room on the second floor of a yellow house on Cherry St. It’s about three blocks away from a supermarket and within ten minutes of the Dal campus. It has a dishwasher, non coin-operated laundry and a big screen TV. It’s also one street over from where John is living.

However, moving in was quite a challenge. I had no car available as my parents are in Tucson. Residence kicked me out a week before I could move into my new place on the first. I was borrowing furniture from a friend, but the friend was leaving on the 29th. Luckily, John could move into his place a few days early, so we’d just walk all of my furniture and luggage to his new place and then move it to my new place on the 1st. Here’s our original plan:


Then it turned out that John would not be allowed to move things into his apartment until the 29th, and that my friend would be moving out on the 28th. She was also concerned about her furniture getting hurt by being carried several blocks. Fine. I stored some stuff in residence and at John’s place until I could move it into his place, and luckily my parents were friends with people who lived out in Clayton park. The furniture would be taken by my friend’s parents to Clayton park and then my parent’s friends in Clayton park would take my stuff to Cherry St. The plan was now as such:


The day that my friend was going to move out, another problem arose… her parents didn’t want to drive the furniture out to Clayton Park. I don’t think this was unreasonable, they had had a long day of moving. However, I had sent the address to them a week in advance. I compromised by storing all of the furniture and my luggage at John’s old bachelor apartment overnight, and moved it to his new place on the 29th when he moved. This change in plan was probably the most stressful day of the move. After that, it was easy to move my stuff from Shirley St. to Cherry St. Here’s what ended up happening. In the end, my luggage and furniture ended up going to two different locations before ending up where I wanted them, and John’s bachelor pad was pretty crowded for a night.


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All the gazette articles this year on my door

May 5th, 2008

The title of this post is pretty self explanatory. Throughout the year I posted all of my gazette articles on my bulletin board and my door. I’ve been out of residence for two weeks but I’m late in posting this because my camera cord has been packed up.


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End of Second year

April 25th, 2008

I had my final exam on Wednesday. I moved out of residence that afternoon. (no more sharing a bathroom with drunk frosh! no more country music neighbor! no more watery, overly salty cafeteria food! no more shower flip flops! no more having to walk down the street every morning for breakfast!) Since then I’ve been chilling, catching up on Ugly Betty and enjoying the high speed internet and torrent access at John’s place, making my own food, going to the pool and reading non-school related books. I’ve been working out the final details of my move on May 1st, although plans seem to be constantly changing. I have a few summer job interviews lined up for Monday, and I’m fairly confident that I’ll get at least one of them. The grades I’ve been getting back for this term are so far pretty good - A- in journalism and A in Intermediate calculus. I got my hair cut above my shoulders again like at the end of last year.
And that’s the state of my life in one long, messy sentence. My level of stress has gone down now that my exams are over and I’ve got job prospects, but I’ll feel even better when I’m moved into my summer place and I have a definite source of income.

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Late April Dilemma

April 4th, 2008

I’m living in Halifax this summer. Don’t know yet exactly what I’ll be doing for work, but I know I want to stay here. Almost all of my friends are staying here and I can do research at the physics department here.
I’m subletting from one of my friends for a reasonable amount and living in a house with four (4!) male friends my age. The problem is that the lease starts on May 1st, and none of us can even move our stuff into the house until that date, and Dalhousie really wants you out of residence once you’re done with the semester. I’m supposed to be out of residence at noon on the 24th, 24 hours after my Electricity & Magnetism exam.
I can’t go home to Antigonish for this week because my parents are still in Arizona and our house is being rented.
Current boyfriend John has invited me to stay in his bachelor pad for that week and has offered to help me move. Assuming we don’t break up before then, that’s probably what I’ll do. A bachelor pad is definitely the correct noun to describe his place. School, research (he recently presented a paper on evolutionary computation at a conference in Italy - and he’s only 19) and being the president of the computer science society keep him pretty busy, so he doesn’t have much time for chores. The first time he invited me over he had papers and books all over the floor, about a month’s worth of dishes in his sink and a pathetically unoccupied fridge. Don’t even get me started on the bathroom. However, I complained about it and he cleaned up his place really well. This does not bode well for living with guys my age.
Anyway, I suppose I should not prejudge my summer roommates. They may have more respect for their own place than what I have seen them to have of their residence rooms. Or maybe I’ll have to lower my standards for the next four months.
Furniture poses another dilemma. I am borrowing furniture from one of my friends who is spending her summer in Calgary. She’s leaving on the 29th, I can’t move in until the 1st, leaving me with a mattress and table to deal with for two nights. I have three options: hope that the people moving into her place don’t mind me leaving the mattress there temporarily, con a campus storage company into moving the stuff for me by paying for storage for two days, or, move the stuff to John’s new place for the summer since he can move stuff into his place for the summer ahead of time and his place is a block away from hers, and then move the furniture a block again to my place.
Oh the joys of living on my own with no car.

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Sunrise over New York

January 7th, 2008

I’m back in my dorm room for my fourth semester of university. As usual, country music neighbor has his stereos a blastin’. It doesn’t really bug me, because I now have a working remote control for my own stereo, and can turn up the volume on the soundtrack to Sweeney Todd.

I spent four days at my uncle’s house in Hilliard. On Sunday I woke up at 4 in the morning to catch a tiny little plane to Newark and then another tiny little plane back to Halifax. The first plane only had 9 passengers (including the flight attendant), and the second plane was over 50% university students. The highlights of my trip were: flying over Manhattan at sunrise with a little bit of mist around the skyscrapers, flying over Nova Scotia and seeing it covered in snow, and seeing my childhood friend on the shuttle back to Halifax.

I really should have kidnapped one of my cousins. I miss them all right now, and my boyfriend can’t really compete on the cuteness factor. Just look at them:


My schedule is different than I expected it to be. I have my first class at 10:30, versus last semester at 9:30, and I only get out at 5:30. It means that I now have an hour between when I leave Shireff Hall for breakfast and when I go to my class in the physics building. It’s annoying. Should I wake up earlier to have more time to do stuff in morning, or should I stay up later at night to sleep in later in the morning?

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Modern Physics

December 6th, 2007

I’ve written two more gazette articles in the past two weeks, but they aren’t up on the website yet.
In about half an hour I will go to the Dalplex to write my scariest exam yet: Modern Physics. It’s all on Einstein’s special relativity and quantum mechanics. I’ve been studying for it all week long. (I hate quantum mechanics so much.)
Instead of freaking out, I’m going to provide a collection of youtube clips that cover some of the material I need to know. Searching youtube for terms in quantum mechanics is so annoying because half the clips that turn up are for new-age ‘What the bleep do we know’ type groups that use the weird stuff in physics to support their loony beliefs.
Simultaneity in Special Relativity:

Quantum Tunneling:
This is what happens when a matter wave encounters any type of barrier. It means that electrons can sometimes go right through stuff, and that if you lean against a wall there’s a very very very minuscule probability that you will phase right through the wall.

Random Walks and Diffusion:
Not quite as simple as what we’ve studied, but pretty close.

Okay. Maybe I’ll just get wikipedia links instead:
Time Dilation
Length Contraction
Gravitational Redshift
Random walk
de Broglie Hypothesis
The Compton Effect
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
The Schrodinger Equation
Quantum Tunneling
That’s enough of that. No matter how difficult this exam will be, I know that I will be very relieved three hours from now.
Until next year, when I have to take Quantum Mechanics 1.

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I wish I was older

November 18th, 2007

I tend to forget my age.
It’s because my boyfriend and my two best friends are 21, two other close friends are over 30, and I know a lot more older people through their friends and the gazette. I’m two and a half months away from being 19, and they constantly remind me that I’m a baby. The legal age for drinking in Canada is 19.
Luckily, since I hang out with people who are older than me, I tend to be able to pass for 19. In September I was let in to the Graewood and given alcoholic drink tickets. Last weekend, I was let into the engineering bar for trivia night even though they’re not supposed to let me in. Even after I showed them my driver’s license at the door, which says in red letters right next to my picture that I’m under 19 until 2008. I guess they couldn’t read. Anyway, we won trivia - the prize was two pitchers of beer. Yes, I had some of it - only a cup though. I will not become an alcoholic overnight, though it was the first time I had beer and it wasn’t as gross as I had expected.
Unfortunately this Friday they had someone smart at the bar and I couldn’t get in. I ended up going home alone and spending the night doing calculus homework.
My trivia team lost. It’s because they are all arts/commerce students and they desperately needed a science student. One of the questions asked for the first 5 digits of e. I could have answered that. It’s 2.7182.
Help is only 77 days away.

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