ursula: (sheep)
[livejournal.com profile] tejolote also asked me to "Talk about visual experience, how that works for you."

I remember things, both real and imagined, in still images with a definite point of view. I can fail to recognize a building or a person because my mental snapshot was taken from a different angle. If I'm thinking slowly, or trying to understand a foreign language, I echo inner monologue and outer dialogue as text. This is visual memory, not visual experience, but anyone who has spoken to me in person has no doubt observed that I'm terrible at separating the two. It's very difficult for me to remain aware of the world around me for any continuous length of time: if I try too hard, I'll start analyzing my own effort, faces or books will float before me, and I'll be lost again. It's possible that those intensely remembered images are simply the moments that I looked where my eyes were pointing . . .
ursula: (sheep)
I've noticed two basic attitudes toward posting to livejournal: that one really ought to do so more often, in order to keep in touch with one's friends, or alternatively that posting involves succumbing to the urge to tell one's tale the livelong day to an admiring bog & should be kept severely in check. I'm generally of the second opinion,1 but sometimes I waver. Thus, a meme:

Give me a topic-- geekish, political, religious, whatever-- and I'll post about it. Maybe a sentence, maybe a paragraph, maybe a multi-part post complete with pie charts... IF YOU'RE LUCKY.2

1 With regard to my own posts. Everyone else should post constantly.

2 Given the advanced degree in mathematics, one would think I could do better than pie charts. But mathematicians and for that matter theoretical physicists subscribe to the one-two-three-conjecture model of data analysis.
ursula: (ambigram)
Back in Seattle, after long wedding weekend number one. A list:

* I think I want to read the Flashman chronicles.

* Big beach houses in Canada are exactly like big beach houses in New England. This one was shaped like a barn. It had too much 70s daisy wallpaper and no insulation.

* Telling myself not to stand around wanting to rush into the hills like Marianne Dashwood is an effective strategy.

* Presents received by loving couple: blender, blender, freezer, sexy rainbow purse, leopard and zebra cups, blender, food processor, and blender. Jasta's breasts are bigger than mine, so the purse looked different on her.

* There is a hole in the pipe from our sink to the wall. It exploded when Brian tried to snake it. We put a bucket underneath it.

* [livejournal.com profile] greythistle sent me a stack of books. I will return to avoiding Mary Gentle.

[Same game.]
ursula: (ambigram)
This morning I wandered around U. Village, the trendy outdoor shopping mall down the hill from me. I bought a pair of shoes that I've been yearning after for a while, since they're the summery version of the little red shoes I'm very fond of. It's still strange to me that I'm grown-up enough to want more than summer sandals and winter boots-- and grown-up enough to pay for them! Such luxury! But the real purpose of the expedition was to pick up a plate I made for [livejournal.com profile] glasseye from one of those places where you paint your own dishes. I painted his device, a green shield with an ermine chief and a white sun. The shield came out a lovely glossy green, but I'm most proud of the stylized leaves round the border.

I was at Paint the Town a week ago, for a birthday party for my officemate, S. I don't think I've talked about S much here, but I've definitely enjoyed sharing an office with her and I'm very sad that she's leaving. She'll be moving to Michigan in just over a week! S is sweet and kind and friendly and has any number of talents, including the harp and yoga and drawing. I wish I had gotten to know her when she first came to this city, two years ago, instead of waiting until we did share an office. It's so sad to realize friendships too slowly.

S's birthday was just the start of a busy weekend. Saturday morning I walked to the farmer's market, and bought whole-wheat bread, spinach, chard, fresh garlic, and feta cheese. I spent a quiet afternoon, but in the evening J&L arrived, bearing riches from China! They gave us a gorgeous little teapot shaped like an eggplant with a miniature eggplant for a lid. [livejournal.com profile] glasseye and I and J&L stayed up late into the night, sharing -- variously -- beer, Scotch, and ginger-lemon tea, and talking about China, Philadelphia, and old times together. The next day we all went to Folklife, along with J's mother, aunt, and grandmother. We all wandered around together, so I didn't get to dance. :( But we did hear all sorts of music, in particular Spoonshine, bluegrass with string bass! And I spent a long time looking longingly at silk coats, made by a local artist from Indian sari materials. Wonderful thick material with a twirly skirt -- but the best pattern, with little swirling rosebuds, was on a coat one size too small, and I wanted to be absolutely in love before I bought one. (The booth was called Silk Dragons. I got a card, but she doesn't have a website.) I celebrated Memorial-eve by making elaborate pizzas, two with leeks, mushrooms, and white wine, and two with spinach, olives, and the feta I bought earlier in the weekend. Yum.

That brings me back to tonight's culinary adventure, which was Persian rice with barberries. Barberries are incredibly sour, like the dried-fruit version of Sour Patch Kids. I love sour food, but two cups were a little much! And I forgot part of the tah dig step, so no crunchy buttery bottom layer to my rice. But it was one of the most beautiful dishes I've seen in a long time, all white and red and yellow (the recipe asked for a teaspoon of ground saffron), and small amounts with yoghurt and garlic were wonderful.

[Same game.]

OK, I Lied

May. 21st, 2006 07:54 pm
ursula: (ambigram)
I didn't buy thirty pounds of rice this weekend. I bought sixty. Here is a picture:



So the current project is documenting Persian rice. I did find this website (http://www.asiafood.org/persiancooking/rice.cfm) which says the fanciest rice dishes are from the 1800s. But I have found period references to saffron rice with flavors like rosewater and nightingale wings. So as long as I don't get TOO fancy I am good :)

Pictures Of Other Stuff I Bought )

[Same game.]
ursula: (ambigram)
Dear World,

Why didn't you tell me that Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote novels for adults? Or, for that matter, that she had a scandalous affair and was divorced twice?

SPOILER for A Lady of Quality which none of you care about anyway )

I don't care how much it talks about Christ, this is revolutionary, I tell you, revolutionary. Damn you, Trollope! Damn you, Barren Ground!

[Same game.]
ursula: (Default)
. . . I'm posting as myself. Questions from [livejournal.com profile] rivendellrose follow. As always, comment if you want five of your own.

1. How did you decide to go into math as your primary focus?

One answer is here, in a previous interview. Earlier influences were Halmos' Finite-Dimensional Vector Spaces, which I worked through with a professor at Reed in the spring and early summer of my junior year of high school, and The Thread, which is about a math professor who travels the world looking for people named Pafnuty. I don't think I was terribly impressed by The Thread the first time I read it, but it grew on me slowly.

I should note that I don't think of myself as especially mathematically talented-- I think of myself as a generally smart person with a bit more patience for mathematics than many other smart people. This made me slow to make up my mind about math, and it means that when I angst about grad school I angst about whether I care enough, rather than whether I'm smart enough. One of the conclusions from the latest round of philosophizing is that the clarity and inevitability of Finite-Dimensional Vector Spaces and its ilk are achieved by art (formal linear algebra isn't always beautiful? who knew?), and that one of the things I want to do when I grow up is write math texts.

2. What's your favorite (or just plain wackiest) memory from the SCA?

The strangest memory is Border Raids in Kentucky, on a gorgeous site among rolling hills. I sat by myself watching the fighting. Behind me, a woman in a lovely green cotehardie and a lot of eyeshadow argued with the man next to her about which of them was the most authentic hillbilly.

My favorite SCA memories are sitting around the campfire listening to my friends singing (yes, [livejournal.com profile] hanksan, that includes "If all the young lassies were little white rabbits . . .")

3. I don't think I've ever heard you talk much about music - what singers/bands/groups do you like best?

Er, yes, uh, notice that I didn't say "sitting around the campfire singing myself." If you asked me this question at a party, I'd tell you that I've always had a soft spot for "Lithium", and then name some subset of the Velvet Underground, the Beatles, the Magnetic Fields, Belle & Sebastian, and the Bats. Lately, though, I've been more curious about stuff in the blues/bluegrass/folk/early country range.

4. What knitting project have you been the most proud of to date?

I'm proud whenever I finish something at an insanely fine gauge-- the Egyptian socks I made for [livejournal.com profile] glasseye long ago seemed impressive to me then, and the relic pouch for [livejournal.com profile] alaric and [livejournal.com profile] thechemgoddess still feels like a major accomplishment. In terms of design, my favorite project is a pair of black merino gloves I made for my sister, with cuffs of angora I'd found on sale, one blue-gray, one blue-purple. Those gloves are lost, alas, but [livejournal.com profile] gwacie should have a similar hat.

5. Which of Ursula K. LeGuin's books is your favorite, and why?

I like Tehanu and The Dispossessed and any number of short stories (you could probably map my childhood by determining which parts of Compass Rose I understood on any given reading). I might pick "Another Story" from Fisherman of the Inland Sea.
ursula: (ambigram)
still sleepy. But there is nothing wrong with me that more steroids won't cure. My lungs will have the strength of ten! Or something. Ramble, ramble. Last night I dreamed that to get into the forest I had to trade bodies with a witch. A trollful witch, but at least she was pretty. Then she killed my old body so I was stuck. At least we had the bright orange beastses. And some very stupid vampires.

But you thought you were safe, eh? No, not yet! It is time for first cousin once removed of Bad Poetry Corner.

I'm taking the curves too fast.
each one leaps up before me, vertical and known
in leaf-green shade. I lean into them,
unknowing. some kid died here.
some kid always dies, drinking
after curfew. sun
outside my caves of curves, no games of brights
along the ditches. I know
timing, leaves and brambles.
I'm taking the curves too fast.

Yes, I did try to write this while driving. That is why it doesn't get to be a sonnet. heh heh. I am evil, I tell you!

[Same game.]
ursula: (sheep)
Questions from [livejournal.com profile] alsoelsewhere.

1. What was the subtle boredom you've occasionally mentioned?

A lack of focus: that is, a failure to focus my attention sharply on any one thing, which is restful at first but eventually produces a generalized feeling of aimlessness, and an inability to engage in distractions more complicated than interpersonal politics or video games or endlessly hitting refresh. I have a certain mental cycle: stressed and working hard, and also procrastinating in elaborate ways, followed by a deliberate attempt to block the world out (beat a game, read a book a day), and then an increasing sense that I ought to be getting back to work and doing something real; but when I don't have something which feels real to do I waffle about aimlessly.

I'm in rather an odd state at the moment, in that I think I'm just at the leading edge of the working-hard-and-procrastinating-interestingly state, but I'm also still dealing with my chronic Victorianate illness (it seems to involve a sensitivity to mold?), so that some days even making tea is hard, and I exhaust my store of motivation before I reach the projects I care about.

2. Do you put much effort into avoiding pretention? What is it really and why is it bad?

Pretending to wisdom or originality one doesn't possess makes for bad writing and tiresome public speaking. I avoid some sources of irritation unconsciously, and I try not to commit pretention by mistake; but as for effort, well, I'd rather make more tea. *

3. Your dreams. Recurring images, distinguishing features?

I have a large number of intensely everyday dreams-- that S. returned an e-mail about a (possibly trivial) presentation in Morse Theory with the remark that of course! I would be the natural person to do this, since I presented the very same thing two years ago in Manifolds, to pick a recent example-- some nightmares caused by sleeping with too many covers, uneasy dreams about wandering through airports-cum-shopping malls, and then the rarer and more treasured story. The most recent dream of this sort involved running from the head minion of an evil enchanter. I tried to escape by transforming myself into a white dress shirt in a closet full of identical white dress shirts, but she discovered me by analyzing the cut: "It would be all natural fibers . . . And a classic design . . ." Running from the enchanter or enchantress is a recurring plot, but more often those dreams become all about the running, scrambling up and down streambanks, twisting through woods.

4. What needs to change? What must be preserved?

Those dreams about whether I'll miss my flight; and ginger.

5. What is to be done?

It has to do with teaching in a building covered with white plastic, penguins marching, and Tukwila. And then there's finding a thesis problem.


* The would-be pretentious reader may compare Edith Wharton's Summer.

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