Thursday, December 22, 2005

Somebody should get David down from there...

Just a quick post. I'm leaving tomorrow for my parents house, so I might not be able to upload pics for a while. Things are going well. I'm gearing up for the holiday, and I am excited to see my family for the first time since the summer. Except Mike has a cold, and I think he gave it to me. Bad cold! Shoo!
And this is a pic of David climbing the ruin of a cathedral on Arthur's Seat, a small mountain outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rather be knitting...

A pic of Jenn and Michelle at the 2005 Boston Knit-Out and Crochet.

Yesterday was a tad bit crazy. But at least I finished my statistics final, so I have completed my first class at Harvard. Christmas, here I come!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Picture of the Day

Hey folks. David gave me a CD of pictures from our Europe trip (Gus, Mike, David, and I went to England, Scotland, and Paris after graduation). I found this one particularly amusing. It was a display of people's answers to the question "What is Theater?", posted at the London Theater Museum.

Best and Worst of 2005: Installment Two

I wanted to do movies next, but I am probably going to see one or two more before the year is out, so I'll put a pin in that one. Instead, let's try books. These aren't going to be limited to books that were published this year, but rather to books I read this year. I can't be bothered to buy things right when they come out, so this is the way it has to be.

The Best:
1) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner. Although I find his conclusions controversial, Levitt brings a fresh outlook to a number of social issues, from the mundane (cheating in Sumo competitions) to the important (effects of government initiatives on crime rates). This is what micro thinking is all about. I only hope I can bring such creativity to the profession.

2) Books by and about Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries by Carrie Bebris, The Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron). I whiled away a lot of free time reading Jane Austen themed mysteries this year. Plus I reread part of Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Austen novel. These books were all enjoyable, and a couple were excellent. Plus, they brought back memories of my misspent adolescence.

3) Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. McKinley is known for writing heartfelt retellings of fairytales, and this is her second take on Beauty and the Beast (the first one was Beauty). This version is a bit more mature (it has less of a "perfect" ending), but equally affecting. I highly recommend both books.

4) Mathematics for Economists by Carl P. Simon, Lawrence Blume. Yes, I am going to put a textbook on this list. Not only because it has saved my skin on more than one occasion, but also because I have actually read it COVER TO COVER. And it wasn't even assigned to me. For any of you planning to pursue a PhD in economics, I heartily recommend this one. Unless you know static optimization (there are no dynamics here, sadly) and differential equations stone cold, it's a worthy refresher. It boils years of math classes into the USEFUL stuff.

The Worst:
All the books I meant to read, but never got around to. I'm not blaming the books, but rather my nutso life.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Book Review: Another Jane Austen Mystery

Jane and the Genius of the Place by Stephanie Barron--6.5
Fourth in the Jane Austen Mystery Series
Yup, I have been running through this series rather quickly. This installment has an unfortunate lack of development in the relationship between Jane and Lord Trowbridge, but the mystery is engaging nonetheless. Jane is staying with her brother in Kent, and attends the Kent Races. There she witnesses the discovery of the corpse of a Mrs. Grey, a Frenchwoman who had the sad distinction of making many enemies in the Kentish countryside. Her French heritage is even more troublesome, as it is 1806, a time when England feared an invasion by Napoleon himself. Soon Jane and her brother are on the case, stumbling into matters that hint menacingly at Mrs. Grey's involvement with schemes to aid Napoleon. The plot is a bit convoluted, trying to walk the line between international and domestic intrigue (it seems that Mrs. Grey had more than her share of affairs, perhaps raising the ire of a jealous husband). But the characters remain engaging and the writing is otherwise tight.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Goodbye, John Spencer

Mike told me this morning that John Spencer died this Friday, December 16th. He was 58. This was a bit of a shocker, especially since Mike and I were watching some West Wing dvds when we found out the news. I greatly admire Spencer's work on WW, and I'm sure he will be sorely missed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Argh. Final exam time!

Just a quick note today. I am studying for my statistics final scheduled for next week. Then I get to enjoy Christmas! (Or "Generic Winter Holiday" as Massachusetts would have it, but I am so over that "War on Christmas" thing.) If I can just cram all this knowledge into my head...And then I get the joy of the rest of my finals come January. Damn you, Harvard academic calendar.

In other news, I am knitting a scarf for the first time in 2 years. It seems so mundane after sweaters. But still quite satisfying. I admire people who can knit these regularly, because they are feats of endurance.

And I just picked up one of those cheezy sequels to Pride and Prejudice. These knock-offs abound, written by random authors trying to grasp at the aura of Jane Austen. But they are still great fun. Just imagine Colin Firth (circa 10 years ago, though I still find him quite attractive), and there you go!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Best and Worst of 2005: The Gloria Version (installment one)

I was thinking over this past year, and I figured I have just as much right as Time Magazine or the NYT to weigh in on my likes and dislikes from the last 12 months. You just might not want to take my opinions as seriously.

So let's start with the newfound addiction of my life: television. (I blame you, Mike.)

The Best:
1) ER. (Or as I like to call it, "starts with an E, ends with an R!") I have spent a LOT of time watching this show. Between the reruns on TNT and the new episodes on NBC, they've got me covered. I first got into this show a year or two ago, but I didn't start watching it religiously until 2004. But I have caught up, and watched most of seasons 8-10 repeatedly. (Highlights: "Four Corners," "On the Beach," "Lockdown," "Chaos Theory," and "Kisangani.") Plus, I do have a soft spot for season 4 too. Season 11 ended poignantly this past spring with the departure of Noah Wyle. (And it commenced to give Michelle nightmares about collapsing balconies.) The earlier part of the season was so-so, but it ended strong. Regardless, the new season (12) on NBC has been super tight this fall. Luka and Abby have had some stellar moments, Morris has become chief res, and despite the loss of longtime cast members like Wyle, the show has continued to have compelling plotlines and characters. And even a wedding!! The big guest stars like John Leguizamo, Danny Glover, and John Stamos have worked without being intrusive. Highly recommended!

2) West Wing. This has been a bit of a shocker. After Mike swore off the show with the departure of Sorkin at the beginning of season 5, WW fell off of my radar. But Mike started watching a marathon of season 6 on Bravo, and the rest, as they say.... Anywho, the current season has been embroiled in the upcoming election, featuring Alan Alda as a surprisingly compelling Republican candidate and Jimmy Smitts as an even more compelling Democratic candidate. The race is close, providing room for tons of drama and an exploration of many issues important to us today (such as abortion rights and economic restructuring, though of course the war in Iraq can't be dealt with). My only quibble is that Toby was fired for leaking confidential information to the press. This just wasn't how I wanted to see my favorite character go. Toby has been sinking into bitterness the past couple years, which saddens me. It makes sense, but I still don't have to like it.

3) Gilmore Girls. Although I didn't like the first episode of the new season that much, nearly every other episode this year has been pitch perfect. Last season, Rory got in trouble with the law for stealing a boat (that sounds way weirder than it actually was) and wound up quitting Yale and moving in with her grandparents. This precipitated a breach between Rory and Lorelai. Because the two have always been so close, this was quite a left field move for the show, but it worked well, allowing for a different exploration of this relationship. Plus the quips and one-liners have been coming as fast as ever. The next step in this season seems to be geared toward creating tension between Luke and Lorelai, courtesey of Luke's long-lost daughter (another "where the hell did that come from?" move.)

4) Judging Amy. Cancelled!! Argh! I finally got to watch most of the last season that ended this spring. It was very compelling, and it did form a fitting end to the show. But there were way too many unresolved bits, vis a vis Amy's relationship with David and with her daughter. CBS is on my Anger List right now.

5) Law and Order: SVU. This is certainly a VERY sensationalist show, and I totally understand why it can turn some people off. But it also has some of the best character developement in a police procedural. Especially if we limit ourselves to police shows that actually take the procedural part to heart. But I wish we got more Detective Munch on the show, as he is such an interesting character, and he has been allowed to fade into the background (though that is hardly the work of only this season; he's been a 2nd-string character for a while now). But the Bensen and Stabler relationship remains sharply portrayed.

6) The Closer. This one was marketed oddly, pretty much as a vehicle for Kyra Sedgwick. The early promotional ads gave zero other substantive information. Therefore, I wasn't really interested. But when mid-summer boredom hit, I tuned in, and was pleasantly surprised. Sedgwick plays Brenda Johnson, a police detective from Atlanta who has moved to LA to head a new special crime division of the LAPD. She's scatterbrained but intelligent, and is known for being able to coax confessions out of criminals. Her new squad immediately distrusts her, but slowly begin to warm to her ways as the season progresses. Meanwhile, some crimes are solved. This is technically a procedural, but the focus is not on the crime solving but rather on the odd quirks of our characters. Brenda is especially zany (witness the time she drives a car up to a brick wall, jumps on the roof, and clambers over the wall after being locked out at the gate). The solutions to the crimes either tend to fall out of thin air or are almost painfully obvious, but the show still packs some charm.

The Worst
1) Alias. This is painful. Really painful. Mike has gone so far as to swear off the show after the beginning of the current season (5). Let's see where things went wrong. Well, first they wrote off Vaughn and Weiss. The former was accompanied by Vaughn somehow surviving like 23 bullets to the chest long enough to go through surgery and regain conciousness (which is totally unbelievable for an ER watcher), only to later die to the tortured strains of Sarah Mclaughlin (which was more of a disrespect to Sarah than to anything else). Then Weiss gets chucked in the wastebin for good measure. They get replaced by three newcomers, none of whom seem to want to act. Apparently reading your lines by rote works better. Plus Jack only shows up to glower a bit. I really don't understand how this could happen. Aparently JJ Abrams is too busy with Lost. ABC has opted to put the show out of its misery after this season, but that means everthing has to be wrapped up. Rumor has it that this will involve the reintroduction of Vaughn, the man that 23 bullets couldn't kill, which means I will still have to grudgingly watch this. Damn.

2) Bones. Since David Boreanaz was getting back into television, I decided to give this a go. Keep in mind that I only saw two episods before giving up on this one. Frankly, I thought that this show had everything going for it: good concept, good actors, good production staff. But something was just off. Without preamble, they tried to jump straight into what I guess was the conflict at the heart of the show: Brains vs. Emotion. Boreanaz plays an FBI investigator who works to solve murders with the help of a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deschanel. Boreanaz represents the emotion side of things, since his character goes with his gut feelings in pursuing a case. Deschanel's anthropologist represents the brains side, as she refuses to be led by anything but the facts. The two clash, sparking romantic tension from the get go. The thing is, if you are watching the first episode, this all seems a bit forward. They explore enough material for a whole season in the first 40 minutes. That and I don't see why brains and emotion can't just get along.

PS--I seem to have broken the spell check, so forgive me my odd spellings.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tutorial: Snazz up your fridge

Does snazz have two z's? Anybody?

So this is the easiest project ever.

Marble Magnets

Clear glue (like gemtac) with a brush to apply it
Random little pictures you don't mind cutting up (you can print them off the computer)
Clear glass marbles, that are flat on one side (you can find them in the florists section at most craft stores)

Place your marbles on the pictures flat side down and trace around them with a pencil.
Cut out your traced shapes
Apply a thin layer of glue to the back of the marble, then glue your picture to it, so that it can be seen through the round side of the marble. Repeat with all your pictures (duh).
Wait for these to dry, then glue on magnets to the back.

Invade your fridge!

Another variation: Necklace charm


Same as above, but now you need a safety pin, a hot glue gun, and a little bit of felt, and you don't need a magnet. Unless you want this charm to be multi-purpose, but then I'd keep it away from your magnetic sensitive electronics. :)

Do the same as above, except skip the magnet step. Instead, hot glue a safety pin to the back of the marble, flat so that the little ring part sticks up above the edge (this is going to be the hole through which you string the necklace). Then hot glue a piece of felt on over this, so the back is all covered up and finished like.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rebel Scum: a variation on the fast and easy purse

I made this as a gift last summer. It's the same idea as in my fast and easy purse pattern, but finished a little differently.

Pattern modification:

Once you have knit the main rectangle body, sew up the side seams, but pinch in the corners and sew them as shown in my lovely, oh-so-professional diagram.

Then cast on 10 stitches and work in st stitch until you have a strip that's the length of the handle you want. Repeat.

Line the purse with felt, and finish the top edge with a felt strip or bias tape.

Firmly attach the handles.

Embellish as you see fit.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I love you Jessie!

My sister is addicted to surveys. I figured I would try one of hers and see what all her fuss is about. Maybe it'll be a gateway drug.

First Best Friend(s): Hmmmm...I'm having trouble remembering. Ashley maybe?
First Screen Name: Same one I have now. I, unlike my sister, do not change sn's every month.
First Pet: This goldfish named Belinda. It wouldn't die, despite the fact that Jessie fed it chocolate chip cookies.
First Piercing: None yet.
First Crush: Also hard to remember. There was a time I had a crush a week. I'll have to put a pin in that one.
First CD: Sad to admit it, but I think it was Bette Midler. Second was probably a collection of G. F. Handel. First record? The Muppet Babies Sing-A-Long.
First Car: 1996 Toyota Camary
First Love: Mike
First Stuffed Animal: Don't remember at all. But I do still have the pillow from my crib.

Last Alchoholic Beverage: wine I had with Thanksgiving dinner
Last Car Ride: Last night to Natick
Last Movie Seen: Harry Potter 4
Last Phone Call: Mike
Last CD Played: Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
Last Bubble Bath: Maybe when I was in elementary school?
Last Time You Cried: Last weekend

Have you ever dated one of your best friends: Mike probably counts.
Have you ever been arrested: Nope.
Have you ever skinny dipped: Nope.
Have you ever been on TV: Local news and whatnot.
Have you ever kissed someone and then regretted it: Not gonna kiss and tell.
Have you ever had sex: Plead the fifth.

Sweater I made, t-shirt, khakis, socks, hair clip, glasses, underwear.

1. Woke up.
2. Finished reading a book.
3. Ate candy for breakfast.
4. Finished macro homework.
5. Read micro.
6. Took this survey.

1. Friends and family
2. Economics (though that probably also makes my least favorite things list at times)
3. Knitting and crafting
4. Sleeping
5. Reading

1. Mike.
2. Jessie.
3. Michelle.
4. My mom, unless it's about my love life.

1. Black or White: Black.
2. Hot or Cold: Cold.
3. Chocolate or Vanilla: Do I have to choose?

1. Get a real job.
2. Get married.

1. Giving up some things because I decided my time was more valuable.

Book Review: Scandal is as scandal does

Jane and the Wandering Eye by Stephanie Barron--6.5
Third in the Jane Austen mystery series

Having been fired up by reading the first entry in this series (I read the second back in my freshman year of college), I eagerly dug into this installment. Barron has created a thoroughly interesting cast of characters, led by Jane Austen herself. Jane stumbles into this mystery when a man is found stabbed through the heart at a masquerade party. The clues immediately point to the unfortunate Lord Kinsfell, who was discovered leaning over the body holding the murder weapon. But Jane and Kinsfell's Uncle, Lord Trowbridge, are certain there is a deeper and more disturbing explanation. The two embark on an investigation, despite the town gossips who whisper about an inappropriate relationship between Austen and Trowbridge. For not only is Trowbridge of a vastly higher social station than Jane, he is also known to be rather "fast," given to dalliance and intrigue. But Jane respects Trowbridge and cannot bring herself to avoid his friendship, despite the threat of scandal. It is this tension, as Jane seeks to help Trowbridge while avoiding the disapproval of her peers, that forms the heart of the book. I confess that I stopped paying attention to the mystery and focused on this aspect far more. By the end, the wrap-up of the mystery was a bit anticlimactic, and to tell the truth, I didn't even bother to figure out the real details of what happened. I know that the relationship between Jane and Trowbridge is continued in later installments, but that it has a rather sorrowful end. I look forward to watching it progress, though I fear the outcome.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Still laughing

We had the economics department holiday party last night. This includes the performing of skits by G1's, G2's, and the faculty. I'm still laughing at some of the jokes. The G2's skit was in the form of a newscast, which included a "breaking news" segment about how the graduate student printers were down. Because at least one of those printers breaks, like, a day, we all had a good snicker. But in my humble opinion, the G1 skit rocked the night, hands down. My classmates who wrote and performed it were hilarious. I volunteered to be an extra, and I was hard put to sit there on stage and not fall over laughing. Bravo!

In other news, the macro I need to learn seems to have lost its way between the textbook page and my brain. I'm praying that it resurfaces soon. I really don't want to have to send out a search party.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pattern: Bangle Purse

This is a pattern I have played around with for over a year, and I finally have the version down that looks right. As a warning: the knitting involved here is negligible, but the sewing requires more patience.

Yarn: less than a ball of Red Heart Super Saver or a similar cheap-o acrylic
Needles: US 13 straights
Notions: One rectangle of craft felt (the single small rectangles they sell at craft stores) in a color that complements your yarn. Matching sewing thread and needle. Yarn needle. A pair of hoop purse handles. Random stuff to trim your purse with (a brooch, ribbon, a patch, etc.)

Gauge: about 3 stitches per inch in st stitch. Row gauge unimportant.

CO 32 stitches. Work in st stitch for 18 inches. Bind off.

Fold one skinny end of your knitted rectangle over one of your hoop handles, and attach by sewing down your folded flap to the wrong side of your knitted rectangle.

Repeat with the other end of your knitted rectangle.

Fold your purse in half, forming the actual purse/pouch part. Fold your felt rectangle in half so that it can form the lining to your purse. Make sure that the felt will fit properly.

Sew up the sides of the purse, making sure to leave a 1 to 2 inch bit at the end, so that you can part the handles enough to get something in the purse.

Similarly sew up the sides of your felt rectangle, leaving a slightly larger bit at the end unsewn (so that, again, you can open the purse) than you did for the outer purse.

Sew the lining in.

Embellish as you see fit.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Noncentral Chi-Square?

I finally fixed my matrix problem. Turns out I was making a silly little mistake I like to call "totally forget how to differentiate." Makes sense now.

More T-Shirt Fun

The shirt Beth was refering to in a comment. I wish I had done a better job on the lettering, but I like the picture of Han:

A batgirl one from a Cameron Stewart Sketch: