Friday, April 25, 2008

One Big Sigh of Relief

The semester is finally starting to wrap-up! I got tons of stuff to work on over the summer for my research, but the spring term is pretty much finished. I just have to finish grading and post grades.

My immediate plans for the summer include shopping, watching movies, and catching up on my reading. I just finished Carol Higgins Clark's new book Zapped. Absolutely loved it. I also recently finished Julie Andrews's new book Home. Wonderful book about the her early career.

I recently purchased the The Thin Man DVD set. The movies are from the late 30s and early 40s. The stories and mysteries are pretty good. I love the clothes! The movies have some very funny moments as well - so it is nicely rounded out. I highly recommend it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I am hopefully going to update more often (I can't really update any less)!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

OK, Gone Researching

"Fortune favors the bold." - Cicero

Sorry about the lack of updates.  I am alive and well.  Just busy.  Extremely busy actually.  Papers, presentations, research, coding, more research, teaching, grading, and even more research have pretty much filled up my time.  The semester is coming to a close in a couple of weeks - hence me being busy.

Although it is officially spring - Michigan has recently had two snow storms.  Yes, several inches of snow.  Of course, there is currently a lot of melting going on today since it is a little over 40 degrees out and we are having sunshine for a change :-)

I thought that this article was interesting:  World's oldest sound recording played in US and that Google has changed their main page today to bring awareness to Earth Hour.  But otherwise, I have nothing to talk about today.  Which is actually a good thing, because I have a lot of work to get done!

Well, I better be getting back to work!  Happy weekend!  Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. I edited/updated my current music obsessions if you were interested

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Many Laughs

"I'm not repeating myself. I'm not repeating myself. Oh, God, I'm repeating myself." - Howard (What's Up, Doc?)

I am currently on a funny movie kick. So I decided (lacking any other topic to talk about) to write a blog about some favorites of mine that I watched recently.

What's Up, Doc? (staring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal): This 1972 comedy keeps you laughing the entire time. The dialog is fast and witty. And the way Madeline Kahn says "Howard!" is just priceless.  There is a line at the end making fun of the movie Love Story which Ryan O'Neal was in.

Bringing Up Baby (staring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn): This 1938 comedy involves a leopard, a dinosaur bone, a dog, stealing a car, golf, and ripping clothes.  No I am not making that list up - all of those elements are part of the movie.  I am guessing that explains why it is so funny!

How to Steal a Million (staring Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn):  This 1966 comedy revolves around stealing something that already belongs to you.  My favorite part is towards the end when they discuss the theft - there is a great line said by Peter O'Toole.

Other comedies that I recommend: Clue, Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Hello Dolly, Galexy Quest, The Pink Panther, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, and Chicken Run.

Can you think of any I forgotten or should watch?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New's of Random Topics

"I tell you what I envy about people in love - I'd love it if someone knew me, I mean really knew me. What I like, what I'm afraid of, what kind of toothpaste I use." - Rose Morgan (The Mirron Has Two Faces)

I realized that I hadn't done a blog with a bunch of links to interesting news articles in a while. Therefore, I thought I would fix that situation (OK, so it didn't need fixing exactly, but it sounded good didn't it?)

The question I know we have all asked at some point, but you didn't think would get answered (least of all with a study): "Why Does Popcorn Cost So Much at the Movies?"

How much push can an atom take if an atom could be pushed? "Scientists Measure What It Takes to Push a Single Atom"

Firefox celebrates a milestone: "500 million Firefox downloads: complete; 500 million grains: in progress"

Luckily thieves are usually not very smart: "Police bust chop shop — for snowmobiles"

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Hope your weekend weather was a lovely as it was here (there was actually some sunshine)!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Interesting Article

I saw this article ("Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain"). Very, very interesting. 27% of women in computer and math industry?!? Well, that explains a lot. Interesting article overall. I am not sure I agree with everything in it, but interesting article anyway.

I only have one question, why was it in the "Fashion & Style" section of the The New York Times? Oh, wait that must have been related to that "it is difficult to shake existing stereotypes" part....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Funny Times

"So, what, nobody argues with the landlord?" - Fanny Brice (Funny Girl)

As I stated before I am going through this weird "older movie" phase. Plus, TCM has been running 31 days of the Oscar. Anyway, I was surfing channels and caught the end of Funny Girl. So recently I have watched Funny Lady and Hello Dolly. Yep, all Barbra Streisand films. I love the music and outfits from all of the films.

If you haven't seen any of these films you really should. Although Funny Girl was considered better than Funny Lady - Funny Lady is quiet good. The part with the disaster show is my favorite part. I have numerous favorite scenes from Funny Girl - including the wedding dress scene from the Ziegfield show and the funny comments made during the song "You Are Woman, I Am Man" by the Fanny character. Hello Dolly is funny all the way through. The iconic scene where Dolly goes to the resturant is one of the best. Especially, the rapid conversation that occurs in the scene following it.

Wow, will you look at that? I wrote a whole blog that had nothing to do with the weather! Hehe. ;-) Thanks for stopping by and reading. I better get back to my reading.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Randomness Continued

"Wow... Dad. Tell me you're wearing that shirt because someone has to spot you from space." - Shawn Spencer (Psych)

Friday was another fun tv night. The season ender for Psych was on and yes the mummy did it. It was quiet funny episode and an interesting lead-in for next season (which will start in the summer).

The fourth to last episode of season 4 of Stargate Atlantis was also on Friday night. The wraith try to get onto earth. The whole midway station was pretty cool - while it lasted. Totally recommend watching it if you have not already done so. I just love the part where the guy faints. The look on the wraiths face - priceless.

I went shopping Friday to get gloves to match my new coat! I did find a wonderful pair that are so soft and match perfectly. I also got a pair of jeans and a shirt (all on clearance 75% off). I have my eye on some shoes, but I am waiting for further mark downs. However, I am excited to see that spring clothes and shoes (sandals - my fav) are starting to be advertised and in stores! It helps to forget about the winter wonderland outside.

Well, I better get back to my reading. Lots to do for next week. I also have a bunch of grading! Spring break is coming up and I am so looking forward to the week off. I have a bunch of books just waiting for me to read them! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A blog not just about the weather...

So I am going to finally write a blog that doesn't mention snow. Of course, this could be because this is the first time we haven't had any. Don't worry we had 2.5 - 3 inches on Tuesday afternoon and evening. However, I was excited to see a little bit of sun this morning when I woke up (instead of the typical gray-ness). Maybe finally some of the roads will finally get cleared of the packet snow. The expressway was just a little wet when I was out this morning - which is wasn't when I went home yesterday.

This morning I was reminded of an interesting topic that I hadn't thought about in a couple years - Huffman coding. This method is used in compression for jpegs and mp3s. It is funny how we use these things all the time, but we don't really think about it. The method is very simply and very effective. Basically, you rank each item by the number of times it occurs. You give the fequently repeated items a short encoding. Things that occur less often get longer encodings. Therefore, reducing the over all space by approximately 25%. Simple. Straight-forward. Ducky.

Complete side note: I purchased a salad for lunch. It came with a packet of dressing (1.5 oz). How on earth do they pack 210 calories into that thing? The dressing is no where near 210 calories of yumminess. Therefore, I only used about 1/2 of the package. But still. Next time I am bringing my own light dressing from home.

Well, I better get back to work. I have to read a book on fuzzy logic - not my first book. I have been reading several on and off. However, I figured I would try to read this one (Fuzzy Logic: Intelligence, Control, and Information by Yen and Langari) all the way through.

I also need to create a help guide for my students for functions and sub procedures. They have an assignment coming up and I know this concept always causes confusion. It is the nice thing about teaching a class again. You have a better idea some of the issues before hand. Of course, each term they manage to still surprise me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Happy sunshine (and lack of snow)!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Snow?!?

"Good God, Holmes, she was ripped apart by crocodiles!" - Dr. John Watson (Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls)

It is snowing and icy out on the far side of Michigan today. There are wind gusts blowing the snow all over everywhere. The worst is the -15 wind chills. Last night there were several inches of snow. The weather service keeps extending the winter weather advisory. First it was until 4 PM and then moved to 10 PM. The last update was until 1 AM. Hopefully, the winds will die down a little bit. Roads are not very good. If you don't have 4-wheel drive, then the roads are almost impossible. Trust me, I was out in it. All I have to say is ugh!

Recently, I have been watching a 1990's movie Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls. This movie stars Christopher Lee as a retired Sherlock Holmes and Patrick Macnee (yep, John Steed from the Avengers tv show) as Dr. Watson. The movie is very funny overall. It is a typical "who-done-it" with all the characters having secrets and mysterious actions. Although this is not based on original Sherlock Holmes stories, it is a fairly good movie overall. Christopher Lee makes a very good Sherlock Holmes. (Side trivia note: Christoper Lee was in another older Sherlock Holmes movie, but didn't play Sherlock Holmes).

Well, I better get back to work! Lots to do on my research. Well, I have lots of thinking to do anyway ;-) Try to keep warm and un-snowy!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Weekend Fun-ness

"Think of the safety. Think of the sense of well-being. And, at last, your family can be protected from the heartbreak of gorilla invasion." - Dr. Bunsen Honeydrew (Muppet Show)

Is fun-ness even a word? Probably not, but whatever. That has never stopped me before...

The other day I saw this comic on PhD comics. Funny I happen to be grading that day too. I can so relate to that comic :-) Although, it didn't take me nearly that long. But I have to be carefully that I don't do that to the later papers. It is more frustrating to grade the end one, especially if people keep making the same errors over and over and over again. Oh the joys of grading. (Actually, I like grading most of the time. Seriously, I must have issues or something).

Weather is going to get crazy again and cold. Tomorrow we are going to have single digits and very cold wind chills. Yikes. Oh and there is going to be more snow (2-4 inches). Just what we need, even more snow.

Well, I should be getting back to work. Lots of research to do. I have a paper to read. Then I have to figure out a way to apply weighted mean to my problem while maintaining certain properties. However, I will spare you the details - else your eyes may glaze over ;-) I know I find it interesting, but I am guessing that everyone else only finds it minorally interesting.

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Keep warm :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow, Fraggles, etc

"I was in bed, my pajamas were on, my eyes were closed; what's your guess?" - Red (Fraggle Rock: The Secret Society of Poobahs)

The snow has returned to this side of Michigan. This morning we had a rain/freezing rain mix and now it has changed over to snow. I think we have already gotten an inch or two. Wow! It is icy from the morning rain. It is coming down pretty fast right now. The temperatures are hoovering around freezing - so it is definately not melting! (The local channels around here have cut into regular programming and are doing special weather reports).

I am currently watching season 3 of Fraggle Rock (available via HiT Entertainment). This is the season with the excellent Christmas episode (The Bells of Fraggle Rock ). This episode features the songs "There's a Promise" and "The Festival of the Bells". I remember watching the episode as a kid. Gobo goes looking for the Great Bell of Fraggle Rock and realizes the true meaning of the holidays. I love the part where Sprocket is trying to break the pinata.

Side note: There is a new Disney DxD site for the Muppets. Ducky.

Well, I better go fix some dinner. Something nice and warm I am thinking. Thanks for stopping by and reading! Hope you are having better weather!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Old Movies, Snow, ect

"How about making me vice president in charge of cheering you up?" - Peter Joshua(Charade)

It has snowed even more here in Michigan. Around 3 inches! Many schools are closed today state wide. I don't actually have any classes today (so of course today is cancelled). We are scheduled to possibly have more snow! Then on Monday we are suppose to warm back up - briefly.

I am on another "old movie kick". Recently, I have watched Charade and Everybody Sing. Charade stars Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Funny movie and Audrey Hepburn wears some of the most interesting outfits. The surprising twist at the end was quiet good. Also the scene where Cary Grant takes a shower in his suit is really worth seeing. Everybody Sing stars Judy Garland and Fanny Brice. The singing is marvy. OK, so it is your typical "B" movie of the time. But worth a watch anyway.

Tonight another new episode of Stargate Atlantis is on! Ducky. Replicator come to earth is the short version of the basic concept of tonights episode. I am looking forward to see it. A new episode of Psych is also on tonight. I am so glad that each show is run twice in the evening.

Of course, there is some irony that of the few tv shows I do watch they tend to be on the same evening (although this is a first for being on at the same time). I only watch four shows right now (Stargate Atlantis, Psych, Bones, and Boston Legal). And the first two are the only ones running new episodes right now. I will get to add another show to the list next year - since the Sci-Fi Channel has picked up Sanctuary! Very interesting and very different show.

Well, I better get back to work. Lots to do before Monday. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blizzard-Like Snow

Last night Michigan was hit with some pretty big storms. First, we had thunderstorms followed by a couple of inches of snow. The worst is the 50 mph gusts! My car was under my covered parking space and still got an inch of snow on it. 100's of schools and businesses are closed on this side of the state. The bad weather warnings didn't end until noon. Yet, I am writing this from my office...

Yes, I happen to be at one of the places that didn't close. Yes, I did have class. I did notice that attendance does appear to be small and there are not a lot of students around. Oh and it is still snowing and windy (we have a blowing snow advistory). Oh and they think there is more snow coming. Lovely.

Anyway, it is suppose to get better in the afternoon (at least for a little bit). So I figured I would go ahead and have my office hours anyway. I was already here and everything. However, becuase of the weather I am highly doubting that anyone is going to come.

Other than the weather, everything is going well. I am keeping myself busy with research. As a related side note, there is a paper using fuzzy logic to explain the golden ratio. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks cool. I was actually looking for something else when I stumpled over this paper.

Well, I better get back to fuzzifying data. Yep, fuzzification and de-fuzzification. Eyes glazed over yet? ;-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Again, Not Important...

"I'm looking for corny in my life." - Iris (The Holiday)

Early this morning I noticed the Google logo change to a cool Lego version. I had no idea that Lego's were 50 years old. Wow! I felt that I just had to toss up a blog with that because I was just so surprised. Well, moving on...since I have nothing else to say about that...

The weather has recently become quiet warm (in the 40's) to my surprise. The snow is melting pretty fast (we had like 5+ inches last week). It is also raining on and off. So now it is sloggily. Yes, sloggily.

As you can tell from the quote I am going through a romanic comedy movie theme at the moment. Movies I have been watching recently: The Holiday, Roman Holiday, Little Women, Bridget Jones, etc. Of course, I have seen all of these movies many times and for some weird reason I am in the mood for the that kind of movie recently. Most likely because they all have funny parts. I think I am seeking the comedy portion.

Well, I better get back to the presentations. Unfortunately, they are so not going to write themselves on their own. What I really need is a bunch of monkeys with typewriters....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Nothing Important...

"Details of your incompetence do not interest me." - Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)

School has an interesting way of coming in chunks these days. I have spent the last week quiet swamped. Oh and it has been snowing like crazy. I think tomorrow is the first day since last week that the forcast only shows "snow flurries" and a temperature above 25. On Friday when I left for school it was 0 degrees with a wind chill of -10. Yuck. Did I mention recently how much I hate snow?

Back to the school thing. I have two presentations I am trying to prepare and homework. I heard rumors that I might be getting some grading in the near future. I have been studying up on Fibonacci heaps (one of the presentations). I also have been reading about red-black trees and b-trees. Fun stuff - no?

Once I finish up with all of that I have to create a presentation regarding my research. I am starting practising presenting my research material so that one day (in many, many, many, many, many months for now) I might get around to proposing. Of course, I have tons of stuff to do before I am any where near ready with proposing. But, I am slowly heading in the direction.

Complete side note: I don't know how I lived before I got my iPod Touch and super-ducky in-ear headphones. They are perfect for using at my office. Blocks some of the just noise-noise. There is this weird vent-fan thing that makes a high-pitch noise when it runs, but the headphones help block it out! I can't decide if I want to get the new software update. Choices, choices, choices...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So Cool....

Today, Apple announce a new laptop - MacBook Air. So cool. If you haven't you should totally check it out. It is 3 pounds, 13.3 inch display, very ducky keyboard, and an oversize trackpad. The trackpad uses some of the same technology as the iPod Touch and iPhone.

Anyway, I wanted to point out the new MacBook Air in my blog. Now if you will excuse me I have to get back to working on a GUI in MATLAB for tomorrow morning. Almost done. Just a couple little things I want to finish up before I demo it for a professor tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Snow, Snow, Snow

Since Sunday evening it has been snowing here on this side of Michigan. There was an inch or so Sunday night, a couple of inches during the day on Monday, and possible 1 to 3 inches before morning. Alright, I have to admit that the snow is pretty (as long as I am not having to drive in it). The roads where simply wet when I was out - but that was mid-day. I hate to know what they are like now...

School is already in full swing. I am currently trying on creating a GUI in MATLAB - emphasis on the trying part. I have the design done, but adding the code has been ummm... interesting - that's a good word for it. I have the basic code pieces written, but I am attempting to make the program way more easy to interact with and hopefully make testing of what I really want to do easier. Of course, I need to complete it by Wednesday morning. So no pressure or anything!

Sadly, I don't have anything profound to discuss, point out, or anything. Not that I normally do, but I can't even fake it. Well, I better get back to work. Unfortunately, I don't have any monkeys to do my coding for me so I have to write the program myself ;-) Thanks for stopping by and reading. (Aren't you shocked I made yet another update?)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Reading List

As promised from my last blog, I was going to point out some books that I am currently reading. I picked up these books during my vacation over the semester break. I have included (if possible) a link to the historical location where I purchased the books.

Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty by Helen Bryan: This book covers Martha Washington's entire life and is rich with details. Although there is not much historical information about Martha Washington before her marriage to George Washington, the author did through research and found much informaiton. I most enjoyed the years regarding the revolutionary war and Martha Washington's role in helping George Washington. The book also talks a lot about women's role in colonial american life. I also enjoy the way the author presented the historical facts without interrupation and then clearly stated when she was interrupted facts. In some cases, she even provided more than one plossible interrupation. Excellent read. I actually read most of this while we were in Colonial Williamsburg (since we had stopped at Mount Veron first). Right before we had tea at one of the taverns I read that it was the tavern that Martha Washington and her children often ate with George Washington when he went to Williamsburg. Then when we were at the tea, they made reference to that fact! (I was very surprised!)

Jefferson's Secrete: Death And Desire In Monticello by Andrew Burstein: This book mostly focuses on the later years of Thomas Jefferson's life. The book dives into the question of Sally Hemming's children and the relationship that Jefferson might have had with her. The book actually discusses various interruptations of the facts and historical writings of Jefferson regarding the issue. The book begins by discussing Jefferson's views on medicine (and his dislike of bleeding people). I found the book to have many sections of this writing from the years after Jefferson was president. These pieces give us a unique view of Jefferson in his later years. I was very interested in learning Jefferson's involvement in many behind-the-scene political matters. This book is not a biography in the traditional sense, but takes a unique and interesting dive into the mind of Thomas Jefferson (focusing on his later years). I picked this book about at the Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop and I have currently read a little over 3/4 of it, but figured I would go ahead and write up a little summary for your enjoyment.

The next book I plan on reading is Mr. Jefferson's Women by Jon Kukla. I picked up this book at the Monticello gift shop and I can't wait to start it. After I finish it (and a few of the others I picked up) I will write up summaries and post them here for your reading pleasure.

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Have a happy weekend! Hopefully, we don't get to much snow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Return to the blog

Sorry about not updating. The end of the semester got very busy with a class project, research, grading, and teaching. I just never got around to updating my blog. It was on my todo list, but I just didn't get to it. Then I went on vacation - Virginia for about a week. And because I have nothing better to talk about it today I tell you about my vacation.

The trip was mostly to visit historic places in Virginia. Of course, there was a lot of shopping involved (hey, this is me we are talking about). I did a lot of book shopping on this trip actually. I purchased several books relating to each historic place and I have already started reading two which I will save until another blog (hopefully) later this week.

Mount Vernon - The home of the first President of America, George Washington.  During Christmas time they have an addition to the regular tour, you get to see the third floor.  There is also new museums and exhibits in the Ford Orientation Center and Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center.  If you haven't been there recently, the new exhibits are totally worth the trip.

Colonial Williamsburg - This is were we actually stayed the bulk of the trip.  Although I have been before, it was different this time because I was an adult and I understand a lot more about the history time period.  I really enjoy this historical period.  The place was decorated for Christmas including many of the shops and houses.  There are also special dinner options, we went to this wonderful Christmas feast were I had a salad with the absolutely best ranch buttermilk dressing.  Fun filled fact: when the American revolutionaries stormed the Governor's Palace they removed the weapons on all of the walls, but only after they carefully cataloged each of the weapons.  Therefore, when you visit today they have replaced the weapons with reproductions based on the catalogs.  (Governor's Palace is also one of my favorite buildings to visit).  The Folk Art museum, which I had not visited before, contained many interesting pieces of art.  Although, I will never understand why anyone would want to collect mourning folk art.  However, another fun fact:  Mourning folk art became more common in America following the death of George Washington.

Jamestown and Yorktown - Each place had interesting exhibits.  Not much specific to tell, but interesting exhibits.  You can actually see the original foundation of Jamestown at the Jamestown.  For even more information see the America's Historic Triangle website.

Monticello - The home of Thomas Jefferson (president and author of the Declaration of Independence).  Although I have been before, this time we took the special candle light tour which included seeing the third floor dome room.  The view from Monticello is amazing, but even more amazing from the third floor.

The whole trip was a ton of fun and if you have never been, I totally recommend that you do.  I enjoyed the step back in time.  I also learned that there are many similarities in politics of then to politics now.  Hopefully, I didn't completely bore you during this blog.  I am really going to try and update a little more often - stay tuned.