MonthApril 2005

great movies for a library?

So, we’ve had a netflix subscription for a little over a year now, and we’ve really build quite a little library up (you can browse it here). I know there are tons of great movies we haven’t gotten yet. You know, real staples. For me it was stuff like The Princess Bride, Dune, Blade Runner, Amadeus. I’m running out of ideas now after cycling through about 300 discs. What are the classic movies you’d want in any library?

SCA: check

Friday was the deadline for SCA, so this last week and a half or so has been busy again. Not quite like that time running up to SIGGRAPH, but still busy enough to keep me from doing basically anything with my time other than eating, sleeping, commuting, exercising, and working. I have arrived at this beautiful day and now my free time stretches out in front of me like a vast untapped well of joy.

I’m typing this from Tiger, the new version of OS X, which has even more absurd eye-candy than its predecessors. I don’t see how it will be possible to take other user interfaces seriously at this point.

Speaking of Apple, I just signed my offer letter to go back and work there for the summer. I’m starting frighteningly soon–May 16–and it’s making me realize that this first year of grad school is basically over. It will be good to get the extra money, though I’m not so worried now that I’ve got NSF to lean on. It should be fun too, since Doug will be there and I won’t have to spend a lot of time getting to know new people and processes. Also kind of weird to be in that role again.

Leslie is something like 35 teaching days away from the end of TFA. I guess that’s out of 360 total teaching days… less than 10% left, but it seems like even less than that, really. The little paper chain that I made her has gotten so short. We’re looking around at apartments in Berkeley, and it seems like our budget will be just fine for getting a place right where we want to be. We’ll probably go up next Sunday to see a bunch of places. Even though we don’t actually want to move until mid-July, now seems to be the time to hunt so we’ll probably just have to take the hit of the extra month or two of rent.

Tomorrow: 14 miles. We’ll see.

miles, knees, NSF

Sunday was my 12-mile run. It was hard… significantly harder than the 10-mile runs I’d done the two weeks before. I might not have eaten enough the night before, or slept enough, who knows? But my knees are starting to worry me a little bit. It’s not that they hurt, though they do a little right after the runs. It’s that they sort of feel “fragile,” like when I’m sitting down or standing up, I favor them and don’t want to put weight on them. It’s not a good feeling. I also noticed at the climbing gym yesterday that my usual extreme antics of bending my knees to my will didn’t come so easily. I’m not sure exactly what to make of it, whether my knees are adjusting to new demands still (I’ve been seriously training only a little more than a month now) or if they just don’t like it. I’ve decided to skip my run today to see if the sensations subside.

On Friday I got some surprising good news: I won an NSF graduate research fellowship. This is a pretty fancy fellowship, and one that I’ve applied for three times now. The first time, I worked my ass off preparing. I went to an NSF application workshop, I had my essays read by former NSF reviewers, I polished them over and over, I warned my letter writers months in advace, etc. The net result the first year was an honorable mention, which is respectable but doesn’t come with any money. When I was doing my second round of grad school apps in Fall ’04, I figured I should apply again. I revised the essays, but didn’t change much, and had all the same letters. Not even a mention that year. They say that it gets harder each year because you are held to a different standard–first you’re an undergrad, then you’ve graduated so another year of experience is considered–so it was mostly out of futility that I applied last Fall. Carlo wrote me a new letter, and after looking at my comment sheets from last year I totally scrapped my essays and started over again. This time no one read them but Leslie, and they were very short–all less than a page–and written with the singular goal that they would be interesting enough to entice the reviewer to finish them. I guess either the system rewards persistence or short essays or new letters did the trick because I got it this time.

This will really make things easier for the next few years. I won’t have to hunt each semester for a new source of funding, whether that’s as a TA or a research stipend or whatever, and by the time it’s over I should only have a year or two left (man, this degree takes a while). My one concern is that I’d like to get experience TA’ing multiple times, and I know that Jeff has had some difficulty becoming a TA with his fellowship (which is running out this spring), since you can’t work as a TA for free. Hopefully I’ll be able to “turn off” the fellowship for a semester here and there when I want to TA.

Anyway. Life is good.

siggraph news

Well, it seems like the paper I helped out on for this year’s SIGGRAPH has officially been accepted. It was one of only two papers from Berkeley, which is kind of disappointing, since there were so many other great papers submitted. But this is the problem with having just one conference.

Work continues on our SCA paper that’s a follow-up on the paper we sent to SIGGRAPH. We were also invited to send a clip from our SIGGRAPH paper to be included in the electronic theater there this summer, which is flattering but will be a bit more work since we’ll need to render it all in HD (1920×1080).

Hence I think I’m going to be pretty busy the next couple of weeks, and then there are only a couple of more left before finals and the end of my first year as a grad student. Damn.

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