i've been on a bit of a brian eno kick the last week or so. i just impulse-bought another of his albums: nerve net, from 1992. it's really interesting music. as you should expect from mr. eno. he's better than anyone at creating aural landscapes: check out his "music for airports". it is absolutely just that - listening to it you feel as if you're waiting for a flight or changing planes. "nerve net" is a bit less ambient and a bit more upbeat, but it's still very richly-textured, slowly-evolving ear candy. i'm a fan. more than that, i think that he's probably got a decent grasp on how auditory cortex works and how music really is formulas, and you can use these formulas to create a predictable outcome in the listener's experience.
i've been reading jeff hawkins' on intelligence, and i'm not quite far enough in to do much in-depth analysis, except to say that i think he's missing a huge point, but i will withhold final judgement until i'm finished with the book. but it's got me thinking about computational models of cortex, and ways to simulate how our brain works, or at least to understand it. hawkins holds to the theory that there's a common cortical algorithm; that is to say, all parts of cortex, whether auditory, visual, etc. use the same fundamental method to find patterns in the environment. it's an interesting idea, and i definitely think there's probably some truth to it. but to say that in an adult human, visual cortex is the same as auditory cortex is the same as prefrontal cortex isn't exactly going to be accurate. though it's been shown that developmentally, they are interchangeable. anyway... too soon to know for sure, i'll have to finish the book and then wait 20 years before i can really know whether or not he's right.
(side note: watch hawkins give a talk on how brain science is going to change computing. he's a big-picture thinker, that's for sure.)
the question that remains, of course, is what that cortical algorithm is, how it works. and, of course, whether it's still too early to understand the cortex fully, because we don't completely understand all the underlying structures, and since the cortex is like built on top of and inextricably intertwined with the "lower" brain structures, without a bottom-up understanding our top-down knowledge will be incomplete.
(aww, hell. this is post #1134 to this blog. reminds me of the days of spelling out bad words on old one-line calculators.)
so... i basically took the GRE yesterday and told it where to stick it. i am the boss of that test. i pwned it, even. it's over now, which is awesome.
so it's time to shift my thinking away from the highly specific reality of the GRE and towards the much more nebulous world of science. in which i do PCR and occasionally write some stuff. yay, science. more later, on science, most likely.
so t -13 hours until i go take the damn GRE. i really can't wait until i'm done with it; at the same time i wish i'd taken preparation a bit more seriously... though i don't think i'm at risk of really sucking. whatever; it'll all be over soon, and like hell i'm going to pay another $150 to take the test again, no matter how poorly i do.
it'll be one more hoop down, i guess... and how many yet to jump through? i made a list today of the ETS codes for schools i'm thinking of applying to; i haven't really done much thinking or paring down of lists, or even writing emails to professors or anything. once the gre is done, i have to get started on that.
i've whittled it down to a list of
6 7 schools and 89 programs...
UW (2 programs?)
U of Oregon
i've also been weighing relative merits of different schools and their respective environments. the west coast has the benefit of being close to home, as well as a much more moderate climate. the east coast has the benefit of being in the center of everything, but has disadvantages in being so far away and having so much weather.
in terms of ranking, or probability of me deciding to go there, assuming i get in everywhere on my list, right now the list stands at: UW, Oregon/UCSD (tie), UCSF/Stanford/Berkeley(tie), Harvard/Columbia. and since i'm not likely to get into harvard and noplace else... i'm not so sure why i'm applying to so damn many programs.
please stop loving me
please stop loving me
i am none of these things
trying to curate a show of my own photography is a good way to ensure that i decide my camera sucks, my pictures suck, my eye sucks, my light sucks, and my show is going to suck.
i think i have the pictures picked out, but i'm panicking about resolution. i want to print at least 1 at like 12x16, but due to memory restrictions i shoot at 3MP, which means 2048x1536 pixels. when the shot is perfectly in focus that is ok, but. my shots are not always in perfect focus.
gah. i really overcommitted myself for this month. i'll be glad when it's over, when i have everything done. then next month - hey, i haven't mentioned this here yet! - i'm going to hawaii. fuck yes.
wow, that didn't feel like a weekend at all. flying out to spokane on friday night, wedding saturday, hangover and drive home sunday, not exactly relaxing and chillaxing. it was fun though, and it was great to see everyone on that side of the family - don't get to do that much.
and now it's monday morning, and i have to figure out what all i'm doing this week. besides riding bikes/buying bike parts/playing with bikes/fixing bikes. because i have to pay the bills... you know, that work thing.
contemplating entering a cyclocross race or two this fall, as if i didn't already have enough to do.
OK! time to work on writing. grant proposal + personal statements for grad school apps. whee!
So i'm in the beginning phases of writing my first major grant - an NSF graduate student research fellowship. It's basically about $120,000 over 3 years, most of which is stipend but also includes $10K for research costs and a fund for international travel for the purposes of research. So far, it's just a few ideas floating around in my head, and a bunch of brainstorm notes in a notebook. Hopefully before Nov. 7 it will be a fully-formed, scientifically sound, and relevant question.
Obvs I'm not going to talk about the scientific details of my proposal, at least until it's turned in, but suffice it to say it is generally about vertebrate nervous system development. And that it should be good. We'll see though.
Between now and the new year, I have 2 GRE exams, 5 to 8 grad school applications, and 1 NSF grant proposal to finish. And that's just stuff for work/school.
Before the 1st of September, I have 1 GRE exam, 5 photos to take (with me as model, not photographer), a show of my own photography to curate (all September at the Copper Vine), and a wedding to attend. And that's not counting all the data I need to collect on the fishies.
Nothing more depressing than having 2 digits worth of money in my checking account. Paycheck should be coming through within a day or two, but in the meantime I can't really afford to buy food (or anything for that matter). Always fun.
Random thoughts: someone (someone we'll call M for blog-sakes) has been trying to convince me to get into cyclocross racing. I do have the bike for it, and evidently I have the body as well. It'd take some training (and it's too late for this season and so I would have to wait until next year) but it could be fun. After my top-7 (out of ~30-40) finish at Greenlake last month and my top-20 (out of 200+) finish at the Dead Baby Downhill this past weekend, I'm starting to think that he might be right; this could be something I could do. Ability and motivation are entirely different things though; I need the latter much more than the former. What I really need is to develop a little M-voice in my head, much like the old mom-voice, that says "hey! get off your ass and go _______!"
Wish I could leave work yet, but I have to go set up fish and I haven't found out yet how many I need to set. Fucking work. Oh wait, I get a paycheck for this stuff. Cool.
another week down, wtf? my second week of full-time work, y'know, like with a paycheck and everything. i'm pretty excited about that; cash flow is always a good thing. things are still a little slow as i'm trying to get into the swing of things. there's not a lot to do when you don't have fish; i have to come in on saturday to set some up. there's a 6-day turnaround between setting up breeding pairs and having larvae to screen, so it'll be next friday before the fish from tomorrow's cross are ready to be experimented with. but once i get into the pattern, figure out what days i'm doing what with which fish, my productivity should skyrocket. crank out that data left and right.
what else? lots of riding bikes. yesterday was a very decent ride, put in significant mileage and had a good time while doing it. went and visited mobius cycles downtown, and had fun riding around their lounge/art gallery space:
that's me on a fixie, trying to trackstand. the picture makes me look a lot better at it than i really am; i think i held that for about a second before falling out of it. oh well; once my old sekai is converted i'll be able to practice a lot more. :D
it was a slow wakeup this morning, and i'm still running about half-speed. not good for a day i have to leave work early... oh well. i'm planning on coming back in for another few hours after dinner to get some things fully done before meeting tomorrow. but this afternoon is the bike protest to tell the city how we feel about their decision to not stripe bike lanes down stone way. we're anticipating a pretty huge turnout. should be good.
ok, time to work.