Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I am finally and truly moved out of the apartment in El Cerrito. We walked through the apartment with our landlords this evening, verified that everything was present as it should be, and turned in our keys. I moved my kitchen stuff to my neighbor's place on Tuesday night, but I forgot the stuff in our junk drawer. That's okay. It was easy to move.

At the other place I lived in El Cerrito -- now two moves ago -- I had my bed propped on cinder blocks. I liked having my bed propped up, both because it was at a more comfortable height for me, and because it opened the space beneath the bed for storage. After the walkthrough, Patxi and I took the cinder blocks out of the storage space where I put them two years ago. Patxi gave me a ride to my place and helped me carry the blocks upstairs, and I used them to prop up my bed here. The room now looks less cluttered, and feels more like home. Little changes make big differences in the feel to the room, and I've always disliked feeling crowded in. A cozy room is fine; a room crowded with mess is not.

Part of the reason I've written little this week is that I've been particularly excited about my work. I have an immensely ingenious peer in the civil engineering department whose ideas I'm using and extending, and those ideas work truly marvelously. More than once, though, I've thought to myself how difficult I would have found this a few years ago. Everything comes together easily now in part because of Matlab graphics features that only appeared in the past couple years; in part because of features of the C99 language standard which has only recently seen wide support; and in part because I now have the experience of writing lots and lots of finite element codes for a variety of problems.

The network tomography paper that I co-authored with Yan got into the SIGCOMM conference. I'm excited about that. SIGCOMM is a very good conference, and I think the work is solid. I also have some ideas for extensions that I think are very, very slick, both mathematically and practically. I have not yet tested those ideas in actual code, though; for the moment, what free time I have has been dedicated to other tasks.

Last Monday, we had to turn in first drafts of our fluids class project papers. In lecture that Tuesday, each of us was given papers by two of our peers. Our reviews of those papers were due on Monday, and each of us received the reviews for our papers in lecture on Tuesday. I went to our professor's office on Tuesday afternoon, and he commented that, though the reviews were anonymous, he knew the class sufficiently well that he was still able to match each review with the reviewer. I picked the first review off the stack, he said, and I thought, 'Dave Bindel wrote this.' Then I realized that I could identify the reviewers for the other papers, too; but yours was the one that set the thought. I was amused by that. I didn't think until later to ask which of my two reviews sparked that thought. I'd be curious to know, since the two reviews were very different -- I was impressed by one of the papers and unimpressed by the other, and it showed.

Deadlines focus the mind wonderfully. Had it not been for the deadline for my class paper -- which was on something called a perfectly matched layer for acoustics problems -- I probably would never have been so productive in the work with perfectly matched layers for elasticity which has taken so much of the past few days.

Fortunately, I have had relatively little need for network access in the past few days. The wireless network at Soda Hall has become a stumbling thing, sometimes dropping connections only a minute or two after they have been established. Of course, thus far I have not bothered to set up a network at my new place. I did get a wireless antenna that is supposed to boost the gain on my network card by about 5 dB; perhaps I'll be able to pick up an open nearby wireless network from my apartment using that. I don't expect to use it much, but it would be nice to be able to check e-mail on the weekends without going to the office. If nothing else, that would spread over three days the pain that I feel on Monday morning when I go into the office and throw away a weekend's worth of spam that the filters did not catch.

I wore a shirt today with Eschew Obfuscation written on the front. I've observed three reactions to this shirt: delight, despair, and incomprehension. Of course, some people ignore or don't notice the shirt, but that can hardly be counted as a reaction. In any case, I've noticed that English-speaking computer scientists tend to be amused by the shirt if they notice it at all. Friends from other engineering disciplines have more mixed reactions. I would tell you about the reactions of all my local friends in humanities and social sciences, but alas, there are very few.

Enough rambling. I think I'll spend a moment or two more admiring my newly-straightened room, and then perhaps sleep in the newly-lifted bed.