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Okay. I don't really like pot, but I am willing to accept that 1) it is probably a less harmful drug than a lot of others, and 2) as long as the pot smokers don't bother me (or anyone else) with their pot-smoking ways, they should be allowed to do what they want.

But tonight, the second part of that did not happen.

And so I say to the world: FUCK YOU, POT SMOKERS!!!!!!

Okay, I am done. Deep breath.

Spring Weekend explains everything. )
(Light) violence occurs. )

And, to top it all off, my permanently sleep-deprived self was attempting to go to bed early tonight. :P Not that a minor disruption in my already disrupted sleep schedule matters anything like BEING CHOKED BY A FELLOW STUDENT, but still. It does not exactly help my mood right now.

(On another random sidenote, as I was walking back from the eatery to my dorm, I realized that "reckless" and "recluse" are pronounced nearly the same.)


4:10am—The fire alarm just went off again.  Pot smoke was apparently everywhere on the third floor; I guess the second floor people learned?  BUT APPARENTLY NO ONE ELSE DID.

8:24am—Okay, now we are getting a little suspicious.  Every four hours?  It is very mysterious.  In my humble experience, periodic fire alarms are usually a combination of environmental triggers and mechanical finickiness. )

Campus security is considering looking into the pot smoking in my building. YAY!!!!!!!!! )

As for I managed to live across the hallway from one of the biggest pot dealers on campus and failed to realize it until early April of last year ... Not terribly interesting. )  I still can't believe that I never realized that that was what she was doing.  :P

9:51am—The New York Times needs to work on its article headlines, because on Thursday, apparently, there was one titled "C.I.A. Sued for Failure to Release Bay of Pigs History."  Perhaps it is simply my sleep-deprived self having trouble resolving relative clauses and thus being more inclined to read a main verb in everything, but I thought the CIA was doing the suing, not being sued.  I suppose at least it's better than "Qaddafi Forces Bear Down on Rebels," which I also read as a main verb ("forces" as in "Qaddafi made a bear go sit on the rebels").

12:10pm—The fire alarm did NOT go off at noon.  Thus, either the pot smokers finally got the picture, or they were removed forcibly from the building, or an alarm tech came and fixed the mechanical problem (if one existed).  Hopefully this is now over ...

8:01pm—Although it is not entirely clear, two facts appear to have emerged.  1) Some alarms were caused by pot smoke, others by what seems to be mechanical failure. 2) I might have to pay up to $50 for alarms that I did not set off. :P )

When I got back from lunch, there was more pot smell in the hallways.  Honestly, people, haven't you had enough already?  Did FIVE FIRE ALARMS teach you anything?  Apparently not.  I called campus security, and they came, but unfortunately they can't do anything unless we actually see someone smoking pot, or see smoke coming out of their room, or can pinpoint which room based on where the smell was coming from.  This is extremely difficult when there are multiple rooms whose occupants are smoking, as the smoke ends up everywhere (even the basement, where no one lives).  So ... total failure, but at least we made friends with Steve the DPS officer, who will come help us out if we can catch anyone in the act!

And ... last but not least, we realized that Wednesday is 4/20.  I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF POT FOR THE WEEK!!!!!!!!  :P  So basically that means we're likely going to have another round of fire alarms on Wednesday ... A couple of us THers have contemplated setting out on pot patrols on Wednesday to see if we can get people in trouble for it, but I feel like that might be going to far.  It isn't actually harming anyone, at least not seriously; by the end of the semester, this will have become hilarious.  It seems a bit overly vindictive to purposefully try to catch people in the act.  On the other hand, if I happen to be walking by and happen to see people, I will not hesitate to call campus security.  I am sick of my hallway smelling like pot all the time.

9:33pm—Well, since I have already begun a dissertation on my weekend, I suppose I shall continue.  The laundry machine attempted to eat my card; B managed to bring it back from the depths of the machine's throat.  Then, the drier decided that my clothes were very wet and needed to be dried for 99 minutes (rather than the usual 60).  I can obviously take them out early, but strange things always make me wonder whether something went wrong.  I watched Doctor Who again, which was awesome, but which I am afraid of getting obsessed with because there seven hundred episodes to watch.  I thought last summer was bad, in which I watched all of 24 (~200 episodes) twice through; Doctor Who would be exponentially worse.  But!  It's fun, and it's one of the only events in the War Room for which fifty people are not squeezed in, which means I can actually be comfortable while watching.
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Today was a wonderful day. (Excepting the rain, of course.) Here is a list:

1) The environmental science department is going to let me do my linguistics thesis!!!!! I just have to find an advisor who is willing to let me do it for bachelor of science credit, and I am set to go! Plus, I know who I want as an advisor!!! Okay, that was a lot of exclamation points, but yay!

2) My linguistic anthropology professor said "you really are a linguistic anthropologist!" Maybe that's a little bit of a strange thing to be happy about, but it's always nice when a professor acknowledges that you've been very enthusiastic about a topic.

3) One of my friends in ADPhi and I had a battle over whether TH or ADPhi was more nerdy. TH won (as far as I'm concerned ... because I am totally not biased ...) when another THer and I managed to slip in a discussion of materials science when talking about how we can't paint our lounge because it has lead paint. (Metanerdery! Metametanerdery! ... Okay.) The best my ADPhi friend was able to do was point out that the nerdery of TH and ADPhi often overlap.

4) Last but not least, my brother achieved everlasting fame. I could not be prouder.

Okay, the list is a little shorter than I originally expected, because it felt like such a monumental day. Nonetheless.
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So, I know that playing a game like Dominion online has very few redeeming values—mostly people go on there to either 1) crush other people, 2) play with their friends who they could be playing with in Real Life, or 3) waste time. I typically fall into the third group.  I'm sure the actual players have a multiplicity of reasons, but those are probably the most common.

However, it's not totally pointless. I have now played with someone from Finland, which was exciting.  Well, he was enthusiastic until he found out that I was about twenty-five years younger than he was; it's a good thing I resisted the urge to say that I hadn't known that Dominion had existed that long, which probably would have come across as a little insulting.  He translates games from English, mostly, into Finnish.  I may have already posted this, by my Syntax professor informed my class that Finnish was the best language for a linguist to learn; it made me want to call up my sort-of cousin, whose husband is Finnish, and ask him for some Finnish sentences.  At any rate, that was cool.

And this evening I played with a rabbi from Wisconsin who had spent some of the last few years in Israel learning Hebrew.  (My screen name, apparently, sounded Hebrew, so he attempted to speak/write Hebrew to me, which sadly didn't work—MUST LEARN HEBREW!)  I suppose I don't actually know that this person was male, but I'm going to go with that simply because 1) I am willing to bet that most Dominion players are male, though you never know, a few more of us girls could be lurking, and 2) he sounded male, though as is plainly obvious he probably only sounded male because I thought he was male rather than because he actually sounded male.  I will admit that it gives me a certain thrill to be called "sir" by someone from Cyberspace; I kind of like it as an appellation, it makes me feel like a knight (All I need now is a glaive!  Well, if only it were that simple.)  (And, for the record, the person immediately continued with "or miss, as the case may be".  I neglected to correct him, as I rather like the idea of using "sir" as an unmarked term.)

And then there was the time that someone's screen name was "dominion" upside down, which it took me forever to figure out; I had just gotten up the courage to ask them what their screen name meant, or even worse what language it was in (the shame!), when I finally got it.

Right.  Apparently my life is composed of two things:  language and Dominion.
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We were talking about idioms in Syntax on Thursday, and how some idioms are decompositional while others aren't. So for example, you can say something like "he let the cat out of the bag" or "the cat was let out of the bag [by Eliza]". But, while you can say "the shit hit the fan," you can't say "the fan was hit by the shit."

Which obviously means that everyone in my class is now going to say "the fan was hit by the shit" instead.

This has prompted my Language Processing project, though I'm not sure that particular professor needs to know the reason I want to look at semantic decomposition of idioms.

On a completely unrelated note, I now have a lot less to do for next week than I originally thought I did—I have a sit-down exam in Brain Damage and the Mind, a take-home midterm for Syntax, a project proposal for Language Processing, a transcription for Linguistic Anthropology, and a paper for Linguistic Anthropology. It turns out, however, that I was quite confused about Linguistic Anthropology; I don't have to write that particular paper until May. \o/

That means that, while I could be working on everything else (such as the Syntax midterm, which will squash me like a little bug), I have been—wait for it—playing Dominion! I have now discovered a few more THers who play online, and I am ashamed to say that I beat them all BY FAR in terms of the number of games played—and they thought that they were obsessed. \o/?

Also, I am sad to say that tonight is the first time in a week and a half that I have actually been tired before 2am. I need to go back to a NORMAL sleep schedule, that includes breakfast. :P
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I have been getting absolutely thrashed at Dominion in the last couple of days—at one point, I lost 3 to 117. I am actually almost proud of that; I didn't know it was possible to be that bad. And I don't even have the excuse of not paying attention; I was actually trying on that game. :P Though I still think the two times I got negative points (another thing I didn't know was possible, before isotropic!) top everything else.

Also, I suppose that if I'm going to use the handle "zeugma" anywhere at all, I ought to be prepared with a few that I like, beyond the obvious—Star Trek's "You are free to execute your laws, or your citizens, as you see fit." Random zeugmas I (mostly) invented. )

It's not exactly good when people ask you "what's a zeugma?" or "what are you favorite zeugmas?" and you don't have any on the tip of your tongue. :P

I have finally gotten sick of Language Processing; the professor is extremely cheerful, but spends way too much time going over basic linguistics (we literally drew the tree for "Eloise walked the child to the store on Wednesday" for an hour and a half). Why I (still) don't like Language Processing. )
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I FINALLY QUIT!!!!!! It was only a matter of actually informing my thesis advisor, but now at least I can't change my mind again! This is a serious problem, actually, because I have changed my major ... well, let's see: I've told people I was majoring in a wide variety of things ) ... something like that.

Right, back to more important things. What's most pathetic is that for most of these majors, I only took a class or two that could possibly count; yet, I still was convinced for even a short amount of time that I wanted to devote my life to it. Yes, that's correct: devote my life to it. I'm not really sure what I'm thinking most of the time, or why it ever seems rational.

I had something else that I wanted to say, but now I've forgotten.

**five minutes later**

Right! I really hate quitting, it makes me feel pathetic and like I'm fulfilling all sorts of stereotypes, but ... I'd rather actually like what I'm studying and be happy than fight the stereotypes on principle, just because. It would be nice to want to want (yes, you read that correctly) to 1) study natural science, 2) stick with anything for more than a few weeks, 3) pick a topic and dive in, but none of things really fit with my personality and my particular skill set. So. I am sick of trying—

Random tangent that's actually funny. )

—I am sick of trying to do things that CRUSH MY SOUL, like lab work, just because I wish I liked them. I suppose part of it is that for a while I figured I would get used to it, but ... unfortunately, listening to music while doing lab work doesn't reduce the boredom, watching movies while doing lab work doesn't reduce the boredom, planning fic doesn't reduce the boredom, daydreaming doesn't reduce the boredom ... I have now accepted that doing lab work is just SO FUCKING BORING that it would squash me like a little bug if I tried to do it for any length of time. (And last summer, it basically did squash me like a little bug, so I have actual evidence of this.)

When I spent hours and hours on Sunday night with my music and a transcript from the second Obama-McCain debate, recording all their pronouns without getting bored once, and without even getting distracted once (that I remember, anyway ... not that I trust my memory), I am willing to take that as a sign.

Also, "figured XXXXXXXX out" is NOT a grammatical sentence in my book. I can't say something like "I figured that Bertha would go to the grocery store to pick up food out". That just doesn't make any sense, and yet the article that I have to read for Language Processing insists that it is an example of a perceptually difficult but nonetheless grammatical sentence. :P

Edit:  I think maybe I only like noun phrases between "figure" and "out".  So, I don't really have a problem with "I figured her really long, difficult-to-pronounce, exotic, Tagalog name out," (in reference to another student in one of my classes), but I don't like as much, "I figured what her really long, difficult-to-pronounce, exotic, Tagalog name was out".  (By the way, Tagalog is officially one of the coolest languages I only know a tiny little bit about!  Infixational morphology!!!!!!!)
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Actually, it just ended. :(

Today, I officially handed my data over to my lab partner, so I AM NO LONGER DOING AN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE THESIS!!!!!!! To celebrate, I am going to play my 500th game of Dominion, drink my smoothie, eat my granola bars and chocolate chips, and work on Teddy. I got sidetracked for a few days working on a different project, but there's nothing like Harry Potter to celebrate a good day. I just wish I had a copy of the first book at school.

Although I don't want to sound all depressing or goal-oriented, I have a few ideas for a linguistics thesis, too, which I think bear an actual relationship to my particular strengths (which don't involve bees or doing anything so mind-numbingly boring as lab work). So! I might spend some time watching Obama and McCain duke it out, and listening to their use of (deictic) pronouns. YAY!!!!!!

I definitely prefer not taking as much hard/natural science. It's fun, I like learning about it, but ... linguistics is SO MUCH MORE ME!!!! You get to listen to people talk! o.O

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My erstwhile thesis advisor, Stephen, is a like a steamroller. He tends to talk right over you in meetings, such that it is extremely difficult to say no, because it is difficult to get a word in. If you're a piece of concrete (i.e., an ES/geo/bio student who wants to study biogeochemistry), Stephen is great: he will fit you into his lab, teach you what you need to know, and set you on the road (pun intended!)* to being a great biogeochemist. If you're a plant (i.e., me, though I don't mean any type of value judgment by calling ES students concrete and me a plant, I just couldn't think of a better metaphor), Stephen can be a little ... crushing.

In other words, during my meeting with Stephen today, I almost left without telling him that I no longer want to do a thesis in ES.

Luckily, though, I managed to slip in a bit of a "well, I'm a little sick of doing lab work, after spending ALL LAST SEMESTER DOING IT!" And a "well, I'm pretty sure that I don't want to spend my life doing the kind of lab work that I did all last semester, though it was a lot of fun and very interesting." And a "well, I am actually both an ES and a linguistics concentrator, and there are so many courses and topics that are interesting that it's very difficult to pick, so I don't think I have the time to take the ES thesis course."

I managed (or at least, I think I managed) to make it sound like his idea—this is an important thing when dealing with Stephen, because he likes good ideas to come from him. He also likes good ideas to come from his students, but this way, he doesn't think that I am quitting; he thinks he made a good suggestion, i.e., that I am maybe not quite as devoted as I need to be in order to finish a thesis, and that this is perfectly fine, given that I have lots of other interests, and that I should explore all the other opportunities my school has to offer, etc. etc. etc. At the very least, he doesn't think I'm crazy for not wanting to commit myself to a thesis in ES just yet, especially when I am sure I don't want to ultimately do that kind of science. He does respect the fact that I am torn between two completely and utterly different fields (Have you ever heard of environmental linguistics? I haven't, though I suppose linguistic geography might be the closest.), so he doesn't even seem to think it's a bad thing if I don't finish my ES thesis, which is good.

Oh well. I feel rather pathetic for quitting, but luckily I have several other opportunities, such as doing a linguistics thesis, which I think is infinitely better suited to my particular strengths. At the very least, I really like listening to people talk, whereas I only sort of like digging in the dirt, and I don't really like to measure ammonium. Unfortunately, though, although I do know someone that I would like to work with on a linguistics thesis, I am not positive that I will get to, so it might be difficult to make that work.

I really want to do a thesis. I like analyzing data, finding patterns, and trying to figure out whether a certain theory applies. And I am actually getting interested in language processing, particularly phonological processing; and doing a thesis in linguistic anthropology would basically be SO AWESOME that I wouldn't want to do anything else. (Watch me eat those words ... ^^) Sadly, however, no one here does either of those fields, though some people come close.

Well, at least I won't be crushed by the Great Ammonium Analyzer this semester.
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Although I normally try to avoid the temptation to put quotes up on my walls, I couldn't resist with these (see below). They are a bit long, but worth reading, at least in my mind; and Guy Deutscher is such a beautiful writer that it makes me want to expound on the relationship between thought and language. Instead, however, I will let Deutscher do it for me:

A nation's language, so we are often told, reflects its culture, psyche, and modes of thought. Peoples in tropical climes are so laid-back it's no wonder they let most of their consonants fall by the wayside. And one need only compare the mellow sounds of Portuguese with the harshness of Spanish to understand the quintessential difference between these two neighboring cultures. The grammar of some languages is simply not logical enough to express complex ideas. German, on the other hand, is an ideal vehicle for formulating the most precise philosophical profundities, as it is a particularly orderly language, which is why the Germans have such orderly minds. (But can one not hear the goose step in its gauche, humorless sounds?) Some languages don't even have a future tense, so their speakers naturally have no grasp of the future. The Babylonians would have been hard-pressed to understand Crime and Punishment, because their language used one and the same word to describe both of these concepts. The craggy fjords are audible in the precipitous intonation of Norwegian, and you can hear the dark l's of Russian in Tchaikovsky's lugubrious tunes. French is not only a Romance language but the language of romance par excellence. English is an adaptable, even promiscuous language, and Italian—ah, Italian!
Most foreigners cannot hear the difference between rugged Norwegian and the endless plains of Swedish. The industrious Protestant Danes have dropped more consonants into their icy wind-swept soil than any indolent tropical tribe. And if Germans do have systematic minds, this is just as likely to be because their exceedingly erratic mother tongue has exhausted their brains' capacity to cope with any further irregularity. English speakers can hold lengthy conversations about forthcoming events wholly in the present tense (I'm flying to Vancouver next week …) without any detectable loosening in their grip on the concepts of futurity. No language—not even that of the most "primitive" tribes—is inherently unsuitable for expressing the most complex ideas. Any shortcomings in a language's ability to philosophize simply boil down to the lack of some specialized abstract vocabulary and perhaps a few syntactic constructions, but these can easily be borrowed, just as all European languages pinched their verbal philosophical tool kit from Latin, which in turn lifted it wholesale from Greek. If speakers of any tribal tongue were so minded, they could easily do the same today, and it would be eminently possible to deliberate in Zulu about the respective merits of empiricism and rationalism or to hold forth about existentialist phenomenology in West Greenlandic.

- Deutscher, from Through the Language Glass

Confirmation bias at its most extreme! At any rate, Deutscher isn't exactly saying anything new, but he does it so well that I just had to post it. I take tiny issue with his claim that "it would be eminently possible to deliberate in Zulu ...": I know next to nothing about Zulu, but I have no reason not to think that Zulu speakers are perfectly capable of discussing empiricism, rationalism, and existential phenomenology in Zulu as it is without the influence of Indo-European. Perhaps they don't have concepts that are direct translations of the English ones, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Zulu speakers didn't already discuss these issues.

And one last quote, just because it is funny:

In his De orator of 55 BC, [Cicero] embarked on a lengthy sermon about the lack of a Greek equivalent for the Latin word ineptus (meaning "impertinent" or "tackless"). [For Cicero], the absence of the word was proof that the fault was so wide-spread among the Greeks that they didn't even notice it.


I have one more, but it requires IPA, which I am still trying to figure out how to do in Dreamwidth.

Edit: Deutscher is obviously taking the theory of linguistic relativity to an illogical extreme that has little to do with what Whorf, Sapir, or any of the others probably thought; but I, at least, find it funny, if in large part because it reminds me of how I think about languages: each has its own color, its own pattern, that is probably my subconscious turning our society's beliefs about the people who speak those languages into colors—or something like that. English, for the record, is a sort of crystallized light blue-green at the lexical level, but black and dark blue at the level of syntax, and reddish-orange in its morphology.
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I knew there was a reason I am concentrating in linguistics.



Jan. 27th, 2011 12:48 pm
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For my Linguistic Anthropology class, we have to read Scott Kiesling's article on the word dude. I've read this article before, but I started reading it anyway. Early on in the article, Kiesling says that young men use dude to indicate "cool solidarity." On the first day of class, the Linguistic Anthropology professor said that she would randomly call on people to summarize the readings each day of class. Here is the conversation that went on in my brain:

prof: Okay, so can you summarize what the Kiesling article was about? // points to me

me: **thinking subconsciously** I want to show the kind of attitude that dude expresses.

me: **out loud** Well, he was talking about how "dude" indicates "cool solidarity." So that would be, like, if I were to say "Dude, it's fine, we'll just do something else later." // I was thinking about how ML hasn't been very enthusiastic about doing ANYTHING, so I have to keep reassuring her that we could hang out later.

I think I got the point of the article.

Except, you know, for the part where I'm not a young man. But that's beside the point.

Apparently, dude expresses itself so well that other words aren't really necessary.

Also, it has already snowed significant inchage three times in the four and a half days since I have been back. Most places the snow is up to about a foot and a half; and apparently the plows aren't capable of keeping up with the snow, so that getting to breakfast this morning took significantly longer than it ought to have.